The Crow and the Peacock

Once, in a far-away country called India, a Prince lived in a white marble palace surrounded by the most beautiful gardens. In front of the palace a turquoise-blue lake, covered in pink water lilies, was home to ducks and swans. Sweeping lawns were bordered by beautiful plants and flowers, which attracted all kinds of butterflies and exotic birds. And beyond, a shady forest stretched to the horizon.

At the top of a tree in the forest a Crow sat preening his coal-black feathers. He had just finished a meal of nuts and grubs and he was feeling good.

'I must be the happiest bird in the world,' he cawed contentedly. 'I love being me!'

One hot summer’s day the Crow went to drink at his favourite pool...but he found the sun had dried up all the water. Feeling thirsty he set off to look for a stream to drink from...and it wasn’t long before he saw the turquoise-blue lake in the palace garden.

'Perfect,' he cawed, and he flew down to the water’s edge and began to drink.

While he was drinking a swan glided past.

'She is the most beautiful bird I have ever seen,' he thought to himself. 'Her feathers are so perfectly white it almost hurts my eyes to look at her.'

The Crow looked down at his own dull feathers and for the first time he was unhappy with what he saw. 'I am so ordinary,' he thought. 'I wish I had brilliant white feathers like the Swan.'

'Swan!' he called out across the water. 'You must be the happiest bird in the world to have such beautiful white feathers!'

'Ah,' replied the Swan, 'I did think I was the happiest bird in the world once...until I saw the Parrot in the Prince’s garden. Surely the Parrot must be happier than me!'

'I can’t believe any bird can be more beautiful than you,' said the Crow. 'I must go and see the Parrot for myself.'

And off he flew...

The Parrot was sitting on a branch in the Prince’s private garden.

'Excuse me for interrupting, Parrot,' said the Crow. 'You look very happy. Is it because of your brilliant red and green feathers?'

The Parrot considered for a moment, then said: 'It does make me happy to have red and green feathers...but if I had three colours, like the Golden Pheasant, I would be even happier. Three colours are better than two, don’t you think?'

'I’m sure they must be,' said the Crow. 'I’ll find the Golden Pheasant and see if you are right.'

And off he flew...

One of the Prince’s servants was feeding the Golden Pheasant in front of the palace. When the servant had gone the Crow said to the Pheasant. 'You are so lucky to have such a beautiful plumage. Surely, you must be the happiest bird in the world.'

'I thought was,' the Golden Pheasant answered, 'until I saw the Peacock! His plumage has so many colours, I can’t even begin to describe it.'

'I can’t wait to see it,' said the Crow.

And off he flew to find the Peacock...

The Peacock was strutting proudly along the edge of the lake where the Prince and some of his friends were watching him with admiration.

'He is very handsome,' admitted the Crow, 'but not as special as I was expecting.' Then, as he watched, something amazing happened. The Peacock’s tail began to open. Wider and wider it opened until it had spread out all around him like a fan of brilliant gold and green and yellow and blue.

'WOW!' gasped the Crow as the Peacock drew near.

'Do you like it?' asked the Peacock.

'It’s stunning,' exclaimed the Crow. 'Amazing! Fantastic! Stupendous! You must be the happiest, most admired bird in the entire world.'

'It’s true,' said the Peacock, 'it does make me happy to be admired...but you, Crow, you can do what you like when you like. You can leave here and go anywhere you want to. Us palace birds can never leave; there are high walls and cages to keep us here.'

The Crow looked down at his feathers. 'But I feel so plain and ordinary compared to you,' he said, sadly.

'You’re not plain at all,' said the Peacock. 'If you look closely, your feathers, although black, have just as many colours in them as mine. It’s just that they are more subtle, more hidden. There’s no need to envy me, Crow, because I think I’d rather be you!'

As the Crow flew back to the top of the tall tree in the forest he thought about the Peacock’s wise words. Settling down on a branch he began preening his purple-black, blue-black, green-black feathers.

'I must be the happiest bird in the world after all,' he said.

Then he cawed loudly so that everyone could hear: 'CAN YOU HEAR ME WORLD? I LOVE BEING ME!'

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