Once upon a time, the crafty old crow was huffing and puffing as he flapped his way up into his nest. Although the nest was barely halfway up the tree, the crow could barely fly that high with his stubby, fat little wings and his round belly full of the delicious clams his pet doves brought to him every day.
This nest is too high! he said to himself. I’ll have to get my doves to move it to a lower branch. No bird should have to fly so high to get to its nest. It’s an insult to all birds to have to nest above the ground.
But as he settled into his nest, enjoying the soft, downy feathers the doves plucked from their own chests to line his nest, he happened to glance up. Up, way, up, there in the sky so high they appeared as mere dots, eagles soared. Soared high and free.
I hate eagles, the crow muttered to himself. No bird should be able to fly higher than I can fly. These eagles are an insult to my integrity. I have a responsibility to all birds to bring them low.
So he called for his forest friends, the rat, the weasel and the fox.
To the weasel, he said, “My pet doves admire the eagles. They like they way the eagles soar free up there among the clouds. I need you to frighten them. Make them afraid of the eagles, make them learn to hate these free birds. Tell them how the eagles are disrespecting them by flying so high. Tell them that only birds intent on evil fly up in the clouds.”
And the weasel ran off to find the doves and warn them about the eagles and spread dissension and fear.
Then the crow turned to the rat.
“These eagles have too many friends and admirers among the other animals,” he said. “You have to go to these other animals and separate them from the eagles. Poison their water. Tear down their nests and fill in their burrows. Blame it on the eagles. Say the forest is falling apart because of the eagles. Do whatever you need to do to isolate the eagles from the other animals. They must be alone, without any friends.”
And the rat ran off to do the crow’s bidding, to spread dissension and fear among the animals.
Finally the crow turned to the fox.
“You, my loyal friend,” the crow said to the fox, “You have the biggest, most important job of all. You must stand in the parliament of animals and denounce the eagles. You must spread lies, tell of corruption, say the eagles are stealing the food of others. Make the other animals hate and loathe the eagles. You must especially make the doves hate and fear them, because the doves admire the eagles and I cannot have them admire anyone but me.”
“And what if I can’t find anything to blame on them?” the fox asked. “The eagles have led a spotless, exemplary life so far. They have helped the other animals. They have kept their nests clean and stayed above the squabbles and fights in the forest. I’ve never yet heard or seen anything they have done wrong. All the other animals in the forest speak highly of them.”
“Then you must conjure up something,” said the crow. “You must accuse them of wrongdoing. If you can’t get anyone to denounce them, make someone up. Say that that your sources are afraid to come forward because they are afraid of the eagles. Tell the animals, tell the doves that the eagles are so menacing that their very lives are at risk if they don’t bring the eagles to ground. Make the other animals fear and loathe the eagles.”
And the fox ran off to do his duty, spreading fear and dissension among the doves and other animals.
Finally, the doves came to the old crow. After feeding the crow and fluffing its nest with their own chest feathers, the doves asked, “Master crow, what should we do now? The eagles have been brought down to earth. They have been separated from all their animal friends. All the forest is afraid of them and blames them for the calamities in the woods.”
“Their nests,” said the crow. “You must fly to their nests and dismantle them. Those nests are built strongly, so you need to work together to take them apart. Fly, my little doves, fly. Take down the eagles’ nests and do not hesitate. The eagles must be punished for being so arrogant that they fly higher than we can.”
“But what if they attack us?” asked the dove.
“They won’t attack you because eagles are solitary,” said the crow. “They fly alone, above us, by themselves. Even when they know one is in trouble, they won’t come to his aid. They prefer to soar than fight. Go, go, go!”
And with that, the doves flew up and as the eagles soared alone, they attacked the nests, one by one, until the eagles were forced away from the forest where the crow sat in its nest close to the ground.
And when the last eagle was driven away, the old crow looked up into the empty sky and smiled.
Finally, said the crafty crow to itself, I don’t have to face being compared to eagles. From now on, no bird shall fly higher than I can.
And the doves flew up to his nest with the tastiest of clams for his meal.