Chinese Idiom Stories

The Snipe and The Clam Have a Quarrel

There once was a river clam who climbed up out of the water to sum himself on the shore. Along came a snipe, who thought that the clam's pink meat would make a very good lunch, and stuck his long beak into the clam's open shell. But before the snipe could reach the meat, the clam snapped his shell shut very hard, trapping the snipe's beak inside.

The snipe began to regret having ever tried to eat the clam, but he pretended that he didn't care, saying, "You idiot! By holding me like this, you can't go anywhere, either! If it doesn't rain within the next couple of days, you'll certainly dry up and die!" But the clam very coldly answered, "If I hold your beak until tomorrow, you will surely die of hunger!" And so they continued, each refusing to give in, until a fisherman came by and snatched up the both of them.

Thus, the idiom "The Snipe and the Clam Have A Quarrel" is used to mean that when two parties have a quarrel and refuse to compromise, it is the third party that benefits.



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