Story the Crow Part 3

Scott Streit - http://www.bio.davidson.edu/people/vecase/Behavior/Spring2007/Burke/index.html
Scott Streit - http://www.bio.davidson.edu/people/vecase/Behavior/Spring2007/Burke/index.html

Story eyed the glowing, warming sun as it shined brighter and brighter every moment. The very instant it left the horizon boundary, he squawked at the top of his lungs, "Good morning! Good morning! Awake! Awake! Good morning! Good morning! Awake! Awake! News today! News today! Good morning! Good morning!" he repeated this several times until he was sure everyone could hear him.

"The two legs are coming! The two legs are coming! We must leave! We must leave! Every kind, leave this place, the two legs burn and bite! Tesser agrees, agrees!" He continued to yell out his morning reveille until his throat was hoarse, and that was truly a difficult thing to do for a crow. But he was satisfied to see the field kind gather in little clumps, looking concerned and in deep discussion with one another. He also saw the elders of the mice, rabbits, snakes, coyotes, sleepy gophers and skunks making the rounds to speak to everyone. It seemed that everyone was deciding to move in one accord.

Before his voice gave out, he changed his message, "Go to where the sun sets! Go to where the sun sets!" This he repeated, switching between his first message and his last all the way till the sun was at its peak. He knew that once the sun started traveling towards the night horizon, all the kind of the field would start leaving in accordance with his instructions. He stopped and realized he was thirsty and hungry. He clucked to himself for his foolishness and decided that next time he would eat and drink first. Then he heard a tiny squeaking noise below. It was the Field Elder. Reja was standing on his hind legs and trying to get Story's attention. Despite his thirst and hunger, he bounced to take wing and swooped down to meet Reja.

"Story, thou loud and tale bearing bird, how farest thee?"

"I am well but thirsty from all this yelling Field Elder."

"All well my friend, we shalt fetch thee some water for thine thirst."

Loosed from protocol, Story felt free to speak, "thank you good Reja, are all the kind moving?"

"It seemeth prudent Story, thou hast spoken with Tesser?"

Story bobbed his head and blinked enthusiastically, "yes, yes Elder, she does not care for you but agrees the two legs are trouble and we must leave."

Another younger mouse came through the grass dragging a large oak leaf laden with water. For them, it must have seemed a treasure, and Story realized that they must have anticipated his need when he started crowing and prepared the leaf to collect the morning dew. That was the best kind of water and he could hardly wait to lap it up.

Reja continued, "How far must we travelleth? I am old and not every mouse is young, nor the rabbits."

Story had not anticipated this question and cleverly responded, "Until we are away from the two legs Reja."

"All well, wilt thou be our eye in the sky? There art many dangers about for us small kind."

Again, Story had not planned for this, but this time the answer was simple, "I will be your eyes for you Reja, my friend."

Reja dropped to all fours and turned to walk away, "We shalt leave this field, our home and cleave no more to it."

Story was reasonably certain that meant they were leaving right away, and he eagerly bent down to drink all the water from the leaf as Reja walked away. When he was done, Story spread his wings, stretching them in the sunshine. With a flurry of energy and two short hops, he lifted himself into the sky.

Immediately he saw two things that chilled his heart. First a family of foxes stood at the far end, apparently waiting for all of the animals to start leaving. They were directly in the path of the exodus, no doubt waiting to snap up the unaware. They gave no thought to the Forest Law of Peace: when two or more of different kinds are running from danger such as fire, no kind shall be in danger from another kind.

http://www.rspbliverpool.org.uk/members%20gallery%20natures.htm
http://www.rspbliverpool.org.uk/members%20gallery%20natures.htm

Story decided that he would shame them into obedience. They were probably counting on all the ground kind to be so unintelligent that they would not challenge the foxes with knowledge of the law. His chest filled with pride as he thought of the duty that had fallen on him: protector of the field kind. But then he noticed the second thing, and it brought fear into him. Tesser was perched not at the passing place for the field kind, but in a tree off to the side of the field. Naturally, the paths of the ground kind mattered very little to a winged predator, and from there could patiently snag mouse after mouse, rabbit after rabbit if she could eat that much. Story knew he had been duped. But he also knew he was right about leaving and decided to continue his charge to protect the small kind.

At the risk of incurring Tesser's wrath, he yelled out again, "Tesser in the far away tree! Tesser in the far away tree! Be wary! Be wary!" Then, before Tesser could do anything, Story swooped down and scooped the air with his wings for a soft-hop landing in front of the family of foxes. They looked at him with hungry eyes, his quick movements had gotten their attention. He ruffled all of his feathers to intimidate them and adjusted his folded wings.


He looked them all in the eyes with his left eye and said, "You are breaking the law."

One of them piped up, "No law is being broken foolish bird, now go so that we may eat meatier prey."

Story refused to back down, and spoke more sternly this time, "We are all running from danger, the Forest Law of Peace requires that you leave them be."

Another bright eyed coyote spoke this time, his voice higher and obviously younger than his wily father. "We are not running from danger, the law stipulates that only when all kind are running from danger do we not attack one another. Clearly this is not the case as you can see we are not afraid of the danger."

The young pup's father looked back at him to snap his teeth in warning and yelled, "silence!" He turned harsh yellow eyes back to Story, who had turned his head the other way to look at the family with his right eye. "My mouthy offspring is right, there is no law to apply here, we are hunting, not fleeing. Besides, we do not see this danger only you talk about, and perhaps Tesser there only gave you her wisdom so she could eat."

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) portrait, British Wildlife Centre, Sussex, UK - Oxford Scientific / Photolibrary
Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) portrait, British Wildlife Centre, Sussex, UK - Oxford Scientific / Photolibrary

Story refused to budge. He sidestepped to move closer to the family of foxes and puffed his feathers even more if that was possible. He lowered his head and spoke menacingly, "I will call the council of the sleeping bear, who will soon awake, to resolve this lie of yours."

The father and mother foxes looked as if they had eaten a snail, (bitter and slimy, a snail is only eaten as a last resort if there are no mice or rabbits to eat), and slinked away into the forest with an ominous warning, "we will wait to see what Tesser does to you Story, then we will decide how to act today."

The message was clear: Story now had to confront Tesser, and if he lost, the foxes would eat heartily at the field creatures' expense. If he won, the foxes would not challenge one who threatened to call the council of the bear.

With the foxes dealt with, Story turned only to see Tesser coming straight at him. Her claws were wide open and reaching for his head. He surprised Tesser and flattened himself to the ground. Startled by the unexpected maneuver, she lost her sense for a moment and crashed into the ground in a heap of wings, legs and feathers.

Cursing loudly and obviously in pain, she flopped around on the ground until she found her feet. Story rose to watch. He took no posture except to sit still while he waited to see if she was foolish enough to try to attack him again. She finally stumbled to her feet, several feathers sticking out at odd angles, hate smoldering in her eyes. "I am not fond of eating flying kind, but in your case I will make an exception black one."

With that, she launched herself at him, powerful wings beat heavily to gain momentum for the short attack run. Seeing her attack, Story shot into the sky and gained altitude. He looked back to see Tesser's attack run turn into a takeoff. Being a heavy predator bird, she did not rise as quickly, and took seconds longer to reach the same speed as Story. In the meantime, Story flapped his wings hard to gain altitude and circled in wider and wider circles as he rose. He could see the kind of the field gather at the edge of the field where the attack began and the foxes were chased away. He also knew that the foxes were waiting in the shadows for the outcome of this battle. There was more at stake here than Story ever had thought could be, but he would persevere, he couldn't turn back from his decision now. The thought of changing his mind only passed through his mind with a shudder, knowing that he could never do that. But even if he did change his mind, the family of foxes and Tesser the hawk would hunt him down until he was dead.

He decided he was high enough and looked back. This far above the treetops, he was surprised to see Tesser coming at him quickly. He knew he had the advantage. Folding his wings halfway, he dove at Tesser, gaining speed as he had seen her do when she hunted small prey. She didn't realize what was happening until it was too late, and he struck her with his feet and beak and beat at her with his wings while they fell together towards the ground. Just past the treetops, he parted ways with her and flapped his wings mightily to avoid hitting the earth. She wobbled and gained flight just in time as well and quickly rose into the air again with mighty thrusts of her wings.

Glenn Nevill
Glenn Nevill

This time, he could only keep up with her, neither bird gained the height advantage over the other. He was breathing hard, his attack and climb had taken his energy. He was hungry and tired. Together they rose, higher and higher until they reached the clouds, where no birds fly. Then they circled, warily eyeing each other. Tesser made the first move and dove in at him across the imaginary circle of flight. She screeched loud and long as she once again reached for him with her vicious talons. He was so tired he could only jerk to the left as she closed the gap, but it wasn't quite enough and one of her feet struck his back and he yelped in pain as she passed by. He heard her deep and throaty laugh in the cold air. It was an awful sound he would never forget, and it made him think of all the things he was fighting for.

Drooping, he started to descend quickly. It looked as if his wound was too much and he could no longer stay aloft. With a screech of victory, Tesser went after him. She would hang him from her talons for all to see as she flew over the field, and then pick at his flesh for a meal. He seemed to fall faster and faster as down they went, and she saw him start to tumble as if his life had left him. She folded her wings almost completely to catch up with him. She could feel her own blood on her back from his first attack, but it didn't matter, she would soon have him. The ground grew larger and larger each instant, and this focused her, this was very much like hunting fast prey that poked their heads above the holes of the field and that she plucked after falling upon them. The crow was hers, and with his death, the kind of the field as well.

She got closer and closer and when they were just inches from each other, Story suddenly awakened and snapped his wings wide to catch the air and she fell right past him, falling like a rock to the earth beneath. She had barely enough time spread her wings once more and narrowly avoid death. She was stunned by the crow's cunning, she was not sure what to do anymore. Before she could do anything else, Story dropped onto her back with all his weight, and she was forced to the ground. They slid a few feet together, and when they came to a stop, Story instantly pecked at her and beat his wings wildly. She jerked her head back and limped away, her right leg had been hurt by the fall. She cowed her head as he continued to peck and squawk and beat her with his wings. Finally, he relented and she clumsily flapped her wings to fly away into the distance. Breathing hard, Story watched until she was a speck in the sky and even then continued to watch until she was completely gone. he turned back to look and saw that the field kind had started leaving, and the foxes were nowhere in sight.

Reja the Field Elder came up to him and stared at him in silence for a moment then spoke, "Thou hast done a great deed Story the crow. You have saved our lives from the two legs and their created things that biteth and burneth. Thou hast outwitted the foxes with the law and puttest them to shame. And finally, thou hast defeated the evil Tesser, whose guile wouldest killed us all. In reward, we, the mouse kind, vowest to feedeth and watereth thee for the rest of thine natural life."

Story had recovered enough to bow deeply at the Elder of the Field. "But Reja, my life ist long and many seasons longer than thine." Because it was a formal occasion, Story spoke the Mouse's formal language.

http://www.wunderground.com/wximage/imagesearch.html?handle=lunada&handlebox=1&submit=go - http://www.wunderground.com/blog/ozcazz/comment.html?entrynum=12
http://www.wunderground.com/wximage/imagesearch.html?handle=lunada&handlebox=1&submit=go - http://www.wunderground.com/blog/ozcazz/comment.html?entrynum=12

Reja did not react to Story's objection, instead answered seriously, "We art prepared for thine long life, I swear that thine story wilt be passed down the generations until thee hast expired."

Story replied with amusement, "Then I hopest I will not get fat!"

Both Reja and Story laughed together. Reja dropped back to all fours and rejoined the mouse kind leaving the field they had known so long as their home. Story preened his flight feathers and then wearily launched into the sky once more to lead the kind of the field to their new home. From then on, he made it his duty to protect the kind of the field, especially the mice, who fed him everyday. It was not nearly enough and he continued to look for food on his own, but he never let them know, and let them think they were doing a great thing. They were doing a great thing, just not in the way they thought. Story was an intelligent bird, and knew the value of love. Love was kind, and took no offense. Love helped him to appreciate the small way the mouse kind showed their appreciation of him.

In time, he knew another kind of love, that of a mate. They had young crows of their own and raised them to continue the service their father had started with the mice so long ago. Tesser was never seen again, and the field kind were safe from the two legs for as long as he lived.

Steven and Becca - http://www.glaciernationalpark-guide.com/glacier/animals/fox/index.htm
Steven and Becca - http://www.glaciernationalpark-guide.com/glacier/animals/fox/index.htm

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Comments 19 comments

Utrecht 11 7 years ago

What a wonderful ending. This is one of those childeren's stories that fascinates adults too. Great job.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you very much, I'm glad the story holds the attention of adults too :-)


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

super children's story if you can soften it a little without losing its message. Love the illustrations. write another!


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks for the input Gypsy. Oof, I don't know if I want to write another too soon, the simple and odd language I used in this one was a little hard to write :-) But I will at some point, thanks for the endorsement and your opinion - you're probably right about toning it down.


warped 7 years ago

That was great, I giveth thee an A+


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thank thee mighty mouse!


Zollstock profile image

Zollstock 7 years ago from Germany originally, now loving the Pacific NW

Oh my, air fight! And a self-made knight in black … part 3 really's got some action! I am a sucker for happy endings, so this went over really, really well. The critic in me would have liked some sort final resolution regarding the foxes and that awesome “Forest Law of Peace” - that, and the (albeit now removed) presence of the two-legs are sub plots that warrant further exploration. To be continued?


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Naw, the Forest Law of Peace was a catalyst, something for the characters to be motivated for. If they were completely animal, Story would have watched helplessly as the foxes picked off the field animals. I had planned on killing Tesser, but it didn't seem the right thing to do - especially seeing as this is viewed favorably as a children's story! I left the foxes as a loose end because I didn't want to to drag the story out, and also in real life, problems still surround us. That's why I have a picture of a fox peeking through the reeds up there. Tesser was the biggest danger because she was smart and wily, and represented a help and a threat at the same time, those are the real problems in life. Foxes, for all their lawyer like ways, are more easily confronted, they're like bullies. Thanks for your comments as it helped me to put in words the reasons I wrote it this way. Feel free to write about the foxes and I'll put a link on this hub - it will be interesting to see what you come up with.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 7 years ago from Arizona

Most excellent morning read. I got here late and was able to enjoy it from start until end.

I really enjoyed the style of the piece and look forward to reading more of your hubs.

In the midst of all the commercialism arises a classic.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you very much for the comments both here and at the beginning of the story - thanks for reading all the way through and the high praise. I have heard about friendly talking crows from another friend a while back. I have always admired how gracefully they moved and flew - they seem intelligent just looking at them behave.

Where I work at the airport, we get these flocks of thousands of black birds, and sometimes right behind the flock will be about 10 crows. When the flock sets down in the grass and trees and parking lot, the crows hang out on the roof of the building. I don't know why they hang out, but it seems a peaceful relationship and fun to watch.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 7 years ago from Arizona

The flocks of black birds are likely Starlings. I have seen the flocks and a few Crows generally in tow as the evening roosting dance of the Starlings settle in for the night.

One one occasion I was in Tennessee, building one of those large water towers that you see in towns. We were in a large field just outside of an industrial park. I was dangling about 200 ft up on cables as we fitted the pre-shaped components of the round water tank in place and welding them at 3 sides as each was put up with a crane.

The field was a freshly harvested soybean crop.

Out of nowhere a large flock, literally 1000's of these Starlings flew over like a black cloud. They would set down in the field and in seconds take to flight again like large black waves. Work stopped and I just hung up there with a few more fitters and welders and watched this go on for a couple of hours. Close to dusk they began setting down in the tree lines around the fields. It was amazing to watch, and wondering which bird gave the signal for the huge flock to take flight and land again. It looked like black waves.

As they settled in the crows followed shortly and settled in amongst them. The noise was incredible. They did a fly over 3 ground trucks and when we got down to leave for the day the trucks they had overflown were literally covered in bird droppings, the windows had to be scraped so we could see to drive back to the motel we were staying at.

I searched for a video that would come close to this, and here is a link to one in Pomona, California, which again surprised me to see a flock this size in an urban area.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJQycHkddhA&feature...

They also make reference to the crows in the title section on the right.

Good stuff, thanks for churning up the memories. This stuff is surely by the hand of God.


Timothy Donnelly profile image

Timothy Donnelly 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I enjoyed it all, Alexander, and I agree with 50 Caliber that this is destined to become a classic. I too, also believe the Great Spirit had a hand in the creation of this remarkable short story. You must have a great place to go and be still, so that these things can distill in your conscience. May that place continue to survive. Happy New Year.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 6 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

I am honored Timothy, thank you for taking the time to read the entire story. Your mention of the Great Spirit leads my mind to Indian lore, some of which shares a connection with Bible history - thank you. That may find its way into the next chapters.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Great story. I like 50's addition too!


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 6 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Yeah, he caused me to pay more attention to the relationship between crows and starlings where I work. Right now the crows seem pretty predatory and they are constantly being chased by small birds. And then the crows have the audacity to turn around and try to approach the nest again! Those birds attack right back. I don't think they're starlings, cause they don't mind the crows. The natural world is amazing. Thanks for reading the whole thing, I hope that means I'm doing something right :-)


tsadjatko profile image

tsadjatko 5 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

I liked it - I have a crow story of my own!


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Cool, I'll come by and check it out.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

You wonderfully brought this to an exciting conclusion and a happy ending. I enjoyed reading all three parts of your story. It is very good. Thank you for this pleasure.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you very much Sir James, it's so cool you came to check out these obscure hubs of mine. Very glad you enjoyed it, it was a new experience to write a short story and to write it on HP - I may do it again someday, especially if people like them. God bless you as always my friend.

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