A partridge was one day strutting along the ground when a Hawk alighted near by. The Partridge thought that her last hour had surely come, and hid, trembling with fear, in a hole in the rock. The Hawk, however, made no effort to harm her, but, on the contrary, began to talk to her in soft, caressing tones.
"My dear, merry-faced, pretty-strutting Partridge," he began, "please come out of that hole and make friends with me."
"Base deceiver," replied the Partridge, "cease your flattery and false offers of friendship! Do I not know that you are now probably fresh from feasting on one of my kin?"
But the Hawk tried to calm her suspicions. "I own," he continued, "that up to the present moment I have always looked upon partridges as my prey, but to-day, when I saw you strutting up the hill so prettily, the desire came over me to win you for my friend. If you will only come and live in my nest, I will promise to protect you from all other hawks, and, in good time, will bring you another partridge for your mate."
"Even if your promise should be true," the Partridge made answer, safe within her hole, "I know that you are one of the kings among birds, and that I am only a poor Partridge. Suppose that some day I should displease you. Would you not promptly tear me to pieces?"
Still the Hawk was so persistent with his pledges of friendship that the Partridge at last crept out of her hole. The Hawk, greatly delighted, embraced her fondly and carried her off to his nest.
For many days they lived happily together, until the Hawk fell sick. All day long he was obliged to stay in the nest, and could not go out for food. He grew more and more hungry as night came on, and his eyes rested ever more longingly and more longingly on the Partridge. Finally he decided to pick a quarrel with her.
"It is not right," the Hawk suddenly snapped, "that I should lie here in the hot sun and that you should be protected by the shade."
The Partridge had drawn further away into the corner of the nest.
"Oh, King of Birds," she replied gently, "it is now night and there is no sun. The heat that you feel is the fever in your blood."
"You saucy baggage," retorted the Hawk. "Will you tell me that what I say is untrue? You shall be punished for this." And so saying, he fell upon her and tore her to pieces.