Fable – China

Fable- China

“One sunny day, there was a clam lying on the beach. She opened her shell sunbathing on

the sand.

Snipe, gliding in the sky, was looking for food. He saw the sparkling white flesh of the clam.

He thought that it would be a delicious meal. He swooped down to peck her flesh. The clam

immediately closed up her shell, gripping the long snipe’s beak in between.

“If it doesn’t rain today, and it doesn’t rain tomorrow,” the snipe grunted, “I shall see a

dead clam on the beach.”

“If I don’t open today and I don’t open tomorrow,” said the clam, “I, too, shall see a dead

snipe on the beach.”

Then the snipe pecked at the flesh of the clam. The clam held the beak of the snipe tightly.

Neither the clam nor the snipe released each other.

A fisherman passed by and found the snipe and the clam grappling with each other. He

spread out his net and caught both the snipe and the clam with ease.”

Yvonne told me that she originally learned this story in Chinese at her Chinese school when she was about 5 years old. However, she said she didn’t know how to write it in Chinese so she emailed me the translated version she knows. She said in Chinese school, the teachers would make the students read classic Chinese children fables. She thinks that they did this so they can “kill two birds with one stone”. By making them read the Chinese fables; the students learned how to read and learn a lesson. Yvonne told me that the lesson of the story is that by fighting, no one wins. She said that it refers to mostly to neighbors. Since the bird and clam were neighbors and were fighting; they both got caught by the fisherman.

I have never heard this story before until Yvonne sent it to me. After reading the story, the moral of the story is pretty clear. Since the neighbors (the clam and the bird) were fighting, the fisherman easily caught them both. It shows that by fighting, no one benefits. If the neighbors lived in peace and harmony, both of them would be free and not caught by the fisherman.

After looking up this story on online, I found the exact same story online with Chinese characters (see below for image) and another story that is a little different. On Wikipedia, the story goes, “A clam was sitting out in the sun when suddenly a snipe flew down to peck at the clam. Suddenly the clam slammed the shell shut, gripping the snipe’s beak in between. The snipe said, “If it doesn’t rain today, and it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I shall see a dead clam on the beach.” The clam said, “If I don’t open today, and I don’t open up tomorrow, I shall see a dead snipe on the beach.” While they were still grappling with each other, a fisherman passed by and netted them both.”[1] The story is titled differently and worded differently than the one sent to me by Yvonne but the moral of the story is the same; no one wins when they fight.



1) “The Fight between the Snipe and the Clam”. Wikipedia. 16 December 2007. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fight_Between_the_Snipe_and_the_Clam> 29 April 2008.

2) “The Snipe and the Clam”. EMAS Portsmouth.  <http://www.blss.portsmouth.sch.uk/resources/dlstories/snipe/snipe.shtml> 29 April 2008.

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