On the banks of the river Godavari, stood a huge silk-cotton tree. At night, the birds from all around used to come to this tree and rest there.
Once at dawn, when the moon was setting over western mountains, a crow woke up and saw a hunter coming towards the tree. He looked like Yama, the God of Death... When the crow saw him, he was frantic and thought to himself, “This looks grim. I don’t like the look of this at all.”
Thinking thus, he started following the hunter.
After some time, the hunter stopped and looked around. He took out some grains of rice from his bag, scattered them on the ground and then spread out his net over the grains.
When he had done this, he hid himself behind the tree.
Just then, the king of doves with his courtiers was flying around in search of food.
He saw the grains of rice and said to his followers, “How strange! Grains of rice in an uninhabited forest? Let’s see what this is all about. I smell a rat!”
But being greedy, the doves didn’t listen to their king and flew down to pick up the grains of rice. Whoops! In a trice, they were all caught in the net.
A terrific commotion broke out amongst the trapped doves.
Then the king cried out, “Friends, we are in great danger. Unless we pull ourselves together immediately and think of a way to get out, there’s no doubt that we shall all be dead. Now I propose that we all catch hold of the net at the same time and fly upwards together.”
The birds agreed. They caught hold of the net and together flew away with it. When the hunter saw this, he was spellbound and didn’t know what to do.
But he soon came to himself and began to run after them, thinking, “These birds have managed the escape because they are united. But when they come down, I’ll have them in my power!”
However, the doves flew very fast and were soon out of sight. They then asked their king,” What shall we do now?”
“I have a very dear friend,” he said, “a mouse who lives on the banks of the river Godavari. We’ll go to him. I know he will find a way to free us!”
So, they all flew to the place where the mouse lived. When the mouse saw the birds flying down towards him, he got frightened and ran inside his hole at the root of a tree.
But the king of doves called out, “My friend! Don’t you know me? Come and set us free.”
When the mouse heard this, he recognized his friend’s voice and came out quickly. The king of doves told him all that had happened and the mouse immediately started nibbling at the strings of the net and set the birds free.
The crow, which had flown along and had been watching this from a nearby tree, was full of admiration for their friendship and said to himself:
“Well, it’s true what they say, a friend in need is a friend indeed”.