The Owl And The Raven





Once upon a time the owl and the raven were fast friends.



They lived beside the same stream. They built their nests in a tree

side by side. They sang the same songs. They ate the same food. They

wore dresses of the same pale gray.



There was nothing that these friends would not do for each other. So

great was their friendship that each was always finding ways to

surprise and please the other.



At one time the raven was absent for two whole days.



"What can he be doing?" said the owl to herself. "I know he is

planning some new surprise for me."



When, on the third day, the raven returned, the owl knew from his

contented looks that the present must be unusually fine.



"It is something more than a beetle or a field-mouse this time," she

thought. "Now what can I do for him? He is always so kind to me!"



Then the owl began to look about for something to do for her friend the

raven.



On the shore near their home tree a huge whale had once been caught and

cut up by the Eskimo hunters. Some of the bones still lay upon the

sandy beach.



"Oh," said the owl, as she chanced upon these whalebones, "I know the

very thing which will please my dear friend the raven!



"I will make for him a pair of beautiful whalebone boots! With them he

can walk over the sharp rocks and the icy cliffs in comfort and safety!"



Thereupon the owl sat down in the sand and went to work. It was not

long until the boots were finished. They were beautifully smooth and

slender and graceful.



"The raven cannot help being pleased," she said, as she carried the

boots toward the home tree. "I wonder if he is in!"



As she drew near the owl heard the raven calling her name. Answering

loudly, she hurried to the place where he waited. But before the raven

saw her she hid the whalebone boots among the grasses, that she might

surprise him later.



She found the raven hopping impatiently about and calling loudly.



"Here--here I am!" she cried. "I have been away for but a short

time--but you were away for days!"



"Oh, owl, dear," replied the raven, "though I have been absent I have

thought only of you!



"See! here is a beautiful new dress which I have made for you!" And

the raven spread before his friend a beautiful dress of dappled black

and white.



It was made of the softest, most beautiful feathers, lovely enough to

delight the heart of any bird.



"Oh, how very beautiful!" cried the owl. "How kind you are to me! How

did you ever think of anything so lovely?"



The raven smiled, well pleased with himself.



"Try it on," he said. "I am sure it will become you. I am certain

that when you see how lovely you look, you will never again wish to

wear anything but black and white."



Quickly the owl slipped from her old gray dress into the splendid new

one. Gently she fluttered about and ruffled the soft black and white

feathers.



"Where did you get them?" she said, circling about and looking at her

tail for the twentieth time.



"Sit down," commanded the raven, "and I will tell you!" So the owl

settled down on the branch beside the raven.



"I found the feathers on that steep, rocky cliff beside the sea," he

said. "The stones were sharp and the winds were wearying, but at last

I finished the dress just as I planned.



"I am glad that you are pleased. I am very tired now, and must sit

still and rest."



So delighted was the owl that for a moment she had forgotten the

whalebone boots. Now as she looked at the raven she saw that in

scratching about for the feathers he had broken one of his pink toes.



With a little cry of pity she flew to the grasses where the boots were

hidden. Quickly she snatched them up and flew back to the poor tired

raven.



"Here," she cried, "here!--I thought of you while you were away. Now

you shall put your tired feet into these strong whale-bone boots. The

stones and the ice cannot hurt you again."



"Oh, oh!" croaked the raven. "They are the very things for which I

have been longing!"



"Put them on! Put them on!" cried the owl. "See how they will rest

you! They will make you feel quite young again!"



The raven slipped his tired feet into the whalebone boots. Straight

away the old tired ache left him. He hopped gaily about and croaked

cheerfully.



"How graceful!" he said. "How perfectly they fit! How comfortable."



"Now I shall make a coat for you," said the owl. "It shall be pure

white. The feathers shall be the shiniest and the loveliest that I can

find!"



By and bye the raven's white coat was ready to be fitted.



"Come," commanded the owl. "Come and stand still while I fit your

coat."



The raven came, but so delighted was he with the whalebone boots that

he could not stand still. As the owl worked over him he kept hopping

and dancing about.



"Stand still!" cried the owl. "I can do nothing with you hopping about

so. I shall stick the pin-feathers into you!"



For an instant the raven stood still, looking down at the boots. Then

he jumped so suddenly that the owl dropped a whole clawful of the soft

white feathers with which she was finishing the neck.



Then the owl grew very angry.



"Stand still!" she hooted. "If you jump another time I will throw the

oil from the lamp on you!"'



Now the lamp was filled with whale-oil. In it wicks of moss and

twisted grass had been burned. With time and many wicks the oil had

become as black as soot.



The raven looked at the black, sooty oil and then at his new white

coat. He really stood still for as much as two minutes.



Just as the owl was trying to decide whether or not the coat should be

longer, to cover the tops of the new boots, the raven caught sight of

his own reflection in the clear water below.



So pleased was he with his appearance that he flapped his wings, and

jumped up and down.



The loose white feathers flew in every direction. The pin-feathers

dropped to the ground. The angry owl gasped for breath.



Then in a rage she seized the lamp. She flung it at the raven. Alas,

for the poor fellow! The oil struck him full on the head. It ran down

before. It ran down behind! There was not a dry feather on him!



"Quag! Quag!" croaked he, the oil dripping down on all sides. "Quag!

Quag! I shall never speak to you again!"



"No," cried the owl. "Do not speak to me again. I would not have such

a sooty friend as you!" and she flew far away.





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