Sibi Rana and the Grey Dove

Long and long ago there lived a King called Sibi Rana. He was known to all the world as a man who protected the weak, but who yet did not withhold that which might belong to the strong.

So nearly perfect was he that the gods asked the greatest God to test his goodness.

And this was the way of the testing.

One day as the King sat in his great Hall of Justice, there came in at the window a poor frightened grey dove, nearly spent with flight, and flew straight against the heart of the King. Looking up, the King saw an eagle in pursuit, and without a moment’s hesitation he opened his white robes to shelter the dove.

The eagle turned its piercing eye upon the King. “So this, then, is your justice,” he said. “You rob me of my food.”

Sibi Rana and the Dove

Sibi Rana and the Dove

“Nay,” said the King, “on the contrary, food equal in weight to the bird shall be given to you.”

“Whatever food I desire?”

“Yes, whatever you desire.”

“But if I desire your own flesh?”

“My flesh shall be given,” said the King.

“Then I wish the weight of the bird to be taken from your right side, and in the presence of the Queen and your small son,” demanded the eagle.

“Beseech the Queen to come hither,” said the King, “with my son.”

And to the horror of all the Court, the scales were brought; and in the presence of the Queen they prepared to slice off the weight of the bird from the King’s right side.

The King sat steadfast: but alas! the bird seemed to grow heavier, with each fresh gift of the King’s flesh.

And the eagle watched from the foot of the throne: and the eagle laughed aloud.

Then from the left eye of the King fell a single tear.

“Stay,” said the eagle, “I want no unwilling sacrifice.”

“Nay, but,” said the King, “willing enough is this. My left eye but weeps because to the right side of the King alone is it given to protect the weak and defenceless.”

Upon which, says the old story, the miracle happened. For even the eagle saw the beauty of giving: and he flew away hungry to his mountains, and neither was the King really hurt, nor the dove without a home.

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