When God had created the world, there were no springs or wells. The only water from which to satisfy the thirst of all the creatures was rain-water. After a time the rain was not enough to satisfy them all; the grass and trees were fading and withering, burnt up by the fiery heat of the sun, and the animals were perishing from thirst.
So God called all the birds together, and told them that they should dig holes in the earth with their claws and beaks, in order that the water from underneath should come up and water the earth and slake the thirst of all the creatures. At the bidding of God all the birds came together and started working with their beaks and claws. They all worked together. The hawk worked side by side with the young chickens, and the owl with the doves. Such a thing never happened before or since.
The heron alone flew about as if it did not affect her. She was quite indifferent to see how hard the other birds worked. She cared not for the sweat which stood out like beads, and ran down the neck of the lark as it went scratching away at the earth with legs as thin as two straws, nor did she care for the titmouse which hacked away at the foot of a hillock. And God asked her:
â€œWhy dost thou not do anything?â€
â€œWhy should I soil my feet with mud,â€ she replied, â€œwhen the rain-waters are not yet dried up?â€
And God said:
â€œBecause thou hast not hearkened to my command, thou shalt slake thy thirst only from the rain, and then only by the water running down thy wings.â€ From that time onwards one hears the heron crying in time of drought. She prays to God to send some rain to moisten her dry mouth.