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Æsop. (Sixth century B.C.) Fables. rn The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

The Labourer and the Nightingale

A LABOURER lay listening to a Nightingale’s song throughout the summer night. So pleased was he with it that the next night he set a trap for it and captured it. “Now that I have caught thee,” he cried, “though shalt always sing to me.”

“We Nightingales never sing in a cage,” said the bird.

“Then I’ll eat thee,” said the Labourer. “I have always heard say that nightingale on toast is a dainty morsel.”

“Nay, kill me not,” said the Nightingale; “but let me free, and I’ll tell thee three things far better worth than my poor body.” The Labourer let him loose, and he flew up to a branch of a tree and said: “Never believe a captive’s promise; that’s one thing. Then again: Keep what you have. And third piece of advice is: Sorrow not over what is lost forever.” Then the song-bird flew away.