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A crow, perched in a tree with a piece of cheese in his beak, attracted the eye and nose of a fox. “If you can sing as prettily as you sit,” said the fox, “then you are the prettiest singer within my scent and sight.” The fox had read somewhere, and somewhere, and somewhere else, that praising the voice of a crow with a cheese in his beak would make him drop the cheese and sing. But this is not what happened to this particular crow in this particular case.
“They say you are sly and they say you are crazy,” said the crow, having carefully removed the cheese from his beak with the claws of one foot, “but you must be nearsighted as well. Warblers wear gay hats and colored jackets and bright vests, and they are a dollar a hundred. I wear black and I am unique.” He began nibbling the cheese, dropping not a single crumb.
“I am sure you are,” said the fox, who was neither crazy nor nearsighted, but sly. “I recognize you, now that I look more closely, as the most famed and talented of all birds, and I fain would hear you tell about yourself, but I am hungry and must go.”
“Tarry awhile,” said the crow quickly, “and share my lunch with me.” Whereupon he tossed the cunning fox the lion’s share of the cheese, and began to tell about himself. “A ship that sails without a crow’s nest sails to doom,” he said. “Bars may come and bars may go, but crow bars last forever. I am the pioneer of flight, I am the map maker. Last, but never least, my flight is known to scientists and engineers, geometrists and scholars, as the shortest distance between two points. Any two points,” he concluded arrogantly.
“Oh, every two points, I am sure,” said the fox. “And thank you for the lion’s share of what I know you could not spare.” And with this he trotted away into the woods, his appetite appeased, leaving the hungry crow perched forlornly in the tree.
MORAL: ‘Twas true in Aesop’s time, and La Fontaine’s, and now, no one else can praise thee quite so well as thou.