THE OWL AND THE RAVEN
by T.A. Saunders
There was once an owl and a raven sitting on a high branch on a very old oak tree, overlooking the forest. While the two never considered the other as friends, they considered one another good conversation. Every day the raven would have a new riddle for the owl and every day the owl would solve it, with varying degrees of swiftness. Vexed by this, the raven grew curious as ravens often do and began asking the owl questions to find out how much he really knew.
“You have lived in the forest a long, long time Owl.”
“But do you know all there is to know about this forest and the creatures in it?”
“I know enough that it has kept me alive for a long, long time, Raven.”
“Ha! But do you know everything?”
“Only a fool believes they know all things.”
Ah-ha! There were things the owl didn’t know and if he could find even one of these things, he could finally stump the owl with a riddle! But he would have to find what the owl did and didn’t know first. Shifting on the branch the two were perched on, the raven leaned closer to the owl.
“Do you know about the squirrels?” the raven asked.
“I know that the squirrels will steal anything that you do not guard,” replied the owl.
“Do you know about the hawk?”
“I know the hawk is fast and he will steal your prey if you are not swift.”
“And the rock by the river?”
“The snake suns herself on that rock and will bite you if you get too close.”
The raven was impressed by the owl’s extensive knowledge but he knew there had to be at least one thing the owl didn’t know. He said so himself! Thinking for a moment on all the things the owl knew, the raven tried a different approach.
“And do you know how close you can fly past that rock and still avoid the snake’s bite?”
“I do not.”
“Ha! I know how close you can fly and you do not!”The raven announced triumphantly.
“Show me then, so I might be the wiser.” the owl returned without ire for his lack of knowledge.
“I shall I shall!” The raven replied, all too happy to oblige.
And down swooped the raven from the branch of the old oak tree which he circled twice, before diving towards the rock by the river, which was not terribly far away. The raven had done this many times before and felt he knew the snake’s mannerisms well enough that he could fly right past her before she could rouse from sunning herself to strike him. The owl merely watched as he watched all things in the forest and neither jeered nor cheered his fellow bird.
Down the raven went, silent as the wind that he flew upon and dove low towards the rock. What the raven did not account for was the time of day. Normally he played this trick at high noon, but today he was doing so much later in the afternoon. Only when he saw his shadow fall upon the snake did he realize the mistake he made, but it was far too late to pull up now. With his form casting shade down on the snake, she roused much earlier than she usually did and smiled the evil smile snakes had when they knew a meal was soon at hand. With one quick strike, the snake lunged and bit deep into the raven’s wing, filling it with her venom. Death was slow for the raven, who could do nothing but lament his mistake.
When the snake was done making a meal of the raven, she stared up at the owl who watched the whole thing and did nothing. Not only were owls wise but they were dangerous predators themselves. The owl might well have intervened and saved the raven.
“You did not help him. Why?” The snake asked, no longer able to contain her curiosity.
“He was showing me something I didn’t know before.”
“I now know how high to fly to avoid your rock!”