Swan and the Owl

Once there was a big lake in a forest. There lived a king-swan, who spent his days in a great variety of pastimes. One day an owl visited him. And the swan said: “This is a lonely wood. Where do you come from?” The owl replied: “I came because I heard of your virtues. One must seek company of righteous people.

After this address, the swan gave his assent, saying: “My excellent friend, dwell with me as you like by this broad lake in this pleasant wood.” So their time was spent in friendly discussions.

But one day the owl said: “I am going to my own home. If you value our friendship and feel any affection, you must visit me as my guest.” With these words he went away.

Now as time passed, the swan thought: “I have grown old, living in this spot, and I do not know a single other region. So now I will go to visit my dear friend, the owl. There I shall find a brand-new recreation ground and new kinds of food.”

After these reflections, he went to visit the owl. At first he could not find him, and when, after a long search, he discovered him, there was the poor creature crouching in an ugly hole, for he was blind in the daytime. But the king-swan called: “My dear fellow, come out! I am your dear friend the swan, come to pay you a visit.”

And the owl replied: “I do not stir by day. You and I will meet when the sun has set.” So the swan waited a long time, met the owl at night, and after some talks, being tired by his journey, he went to sleep on the very spot close to the owl’s home.

Now it happened that a large caravan had encamped at that very lake. At dawn the leader rose and gave the signal of departure by bugle. The owl answered this with a loud, harsh hoot, then dived into his hole.

But the swan did not stir since he was in deep sleep. Now the evil omen so disturbed the leader that he gave orders to his archer who could aim by sound. This archer strung his powerful bow, drew an arrow as far as his ear, and killed the swan, who was resting near the owl’s nest.