A Panchtantra Story
Long, long ago there lived a family of crows atop a massive tree. They lived there happily and peacefully. The father crow and the mother crow went in search of food to feed the young ones in the nest until they were old enough to fend for themselves. Before long there were new eggs for the mother crow to hatch. When they were out the parents went out together once again to fetch eatables for the new lot. And so it went on until….a huge snake also discovered the same tree and found a cozy little hollow at the bottom where it could live.
The snake looked around to see what it could find and soon discovered the crow’s nest which was now chockfull of eggs. The snake’s mouth watered when it saw the eggs as all snakes love to eat birds’ eggs. But it also realized that the crows might attack it if it tried to grab them while they were around. So the snake lay low and waited for the crows to leave the nest. When they did, it merrily slithered up the tree and gobbled up all the eggs. The crows were shocked to find their nest empty when they returned and had no idea who had taken them. But when they had a full nest once again the mother crow remained watching and saw the snake climb up in quest of the eggs. She tried to stop the snake but it was too strong and she could do nothing. When the father crow returned to the nest that evening he heard all about the snake and was as sorry as the poor mother crow.
“We must do something” said the father crow.
“Yes, but what?” asked the mother crow, “The snake is too big and far too strong for us.”
“Perhaps we should make our nest elsewhere” suggested the father crow.
“Oh no, don’t say that” cried the mother crow, “we have been so happy here and it is a beautiful tree.”
“But if we stay here the awful snake will keep on eating up our eggs” said the father crow, “Surely you don’t want that?”
“No” said the mother crow, “But I don’t want to run away. I want to punish the snake.”
“Very well, let’s ask the others if they have any idea” said the father crow.
They met the other crows and told them everything. They were sorry but could think of no way of punishing the snake.
“Perhaps the wise old fox will have some idea” said the mother crow at last, “he is very clever.”
“Let us go and ask him” said the father crow at once, “I know he will help us if possible. If not, we simply must leave the place and build our nest elsewhere whether you like it or not.”
Luckily the wise fox was at home. He listened to their story and closed his eyes, deep in thought. Then he thought of an idea and whispered it to them. The crows were delighted.
The next morning the father and mother crow flew to a tree by the river where the queen came for their daily bath with her maids. The crows waited patiently until they arrived. The queen took off her jewelry and gave them to her chief maid to hold safely while she took a dip in the river. The other maids oiled her hair and kept her royal robes ready while she wore a simple sari and stepped into the river. Some of her maids got in with her while the rest stood on the shore guarding her things. As they got busy chatting the mother crow swooped down and snatched the queen’s necklace and flew to her nest while the father crow cawed loudly.
Instantly there was confusion among the maids.
“That crow has taken the necklace, let’s follow it” cried some of the maids.
“Let’s call the royal guards too” said one of them, “we won’t be able to climb up the tree where the nest must be.”
“Good idea. They’ll get it down in a jiffy” said the others.
So they called the guards and followed the crows. The mother crow hovered near her nest and just when she saw the guards arriving she dropped the necklace in the hollow of the tree where the snake lived. Everyone saw where the crow had dropped the necklace so they made a dash for the hollow. The snake heard the noise and came out to see what was happening. The guards saw the snake at once and killed it with a stick. Then they found the necklace and took it to the queen. The father crow and mother crow rejoiced and thanked the wise old fox for his clever plan. Now there was no one to disturb their peace and they lived happily in their nest.