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The Grateful Crane

Shersingh was a weaver who lived in the village of Paharpur.  He lived there with his wife and two little children.  His family had lived there for many years.  Most of the people of his village were weavers.  They wove cotton clothes which they sold to the merchants in the town nearby.  They would collect cotton from the trees in the forest.

They would weave this cotton in their spinning wheels into long threads.  These threads in turn would be woven into clothes in a machine called a loom.  The villagers went about their daily duties.  They earned just enough to feed their families and lead a normal life.  The years passed by until a severe drought occurred in the region.  It did not rain for many months and the fields and the trees dried up.  Food was difficult to find and was extremely costly when available.

One day Shersingh was sitting alone and thinking about his future.  His wife and children had gone to visit a relative in the next village. Suddenly, he heard a knock from a room inside his house.  He was surprised.  The room had been locked for many months.  Besides, he did not see anyone else enter his house.  He was afraid.  He walked towards the door and opened the door.  To his amazement, a beautiful young woman walked out carrying in her hand an expensive silk shawl.

The woman smiled at Shersingh.  “I made these for you.  Go, sell this and provide for your family”, she said and before Shersingh could ask her anything the young woman returned to the room and closed the door.  Shersingh was shocked.  He looked at the silk shawl in his hand.  It was beautiful and most exquisite.  It would surely command a good price in the market.  Shersingh stood there for a few minutes.  He then cautiously went to the room.  He saw no one.  The young woman had disappeared.

Shersingh went to the market the next weekend.  As expected, he got a good price for the silk shawl.  He bought a few things for his wife and children.  He also bought enough food for them.  He was happy.

The days passed by.  Then one day when the wife and children were out, the same incident occurred.  He heard the same knock from inside the room.  The same lady walked out and presented him with the costly silk shawl.

Shersingh was happy.  He thanked the lady profusely.  However, she just smiled and went back to the room.  He went to the room this time as well and saw no one.  This incident kept occurring again the next few weeks.  Everytime Shersingh was alone with no one at home, the young lady would come and present him with silken shawl.

Shersingh was curious.  He pondered over the incident for many hours.  He did not tell anyone at home.  Neither did he tell his friends.  Nevertheless, he was happy that he was able to feed his family and for that he was thankful to the young woman.  He was even more grateful as the drought intensified.  Many of his neighbours were in great difficulty.  A few of them had left the village in search of other opportunities.

The young lady appeared once more.  In her hands, she carried a silken shawl and presented it to Shersingh.  One day, curiosity got the better of Shersingh.  He was curious as to where the young woman was coming from.  The room had no other door and no one could enter it without being seen by him.

One day, when his wife and children were away, Shersingh went and hid himself in a loft in the room.  He wanted to see what was going on inside.  A few minutes he heard the flutter of wings.  He looked up at a window high in the wall.  A beautiful swan was perched on it.  He did not pay attention.  A few minutes the swan flew down and landed on the floor. From under its wings, fell a beautiful silk shawl.

And then as he looked at the swan, it started changing into a beautiful woman.  The women looked up and saw Shersingh.  She grew angry.  Nevertheless, she smiled.  She then narrated her story.  “I am a magic swan”, she said, “Many years ago, when I was flying past this village, a hunter had shot an arrow at me.  Injured, I had fallen to the ground.  You had cared and nursed her.  You had then taken her to the forest and released her.” Shersingh remembered that incident.

“I have always kept a watch over you since then.” The young woman said,” but now that you have seen me.  The spell is broken.  I cannot come here again.” .  She then handed over the silken shawl to Shersingh, changed back into a swan and flew away, never to return.  Shersingh was sad and overwhelmed.  He was angry at himself for being curious.  Nevertheless, he was full of thankfulness at the swan that had the grace to return a favour.

Children, this story teaches us to be kind to others.  We will benefit from every act of kindness.  Hence, we need to help others whenever we can.