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Fable of the Mouse and the Rooks

On a small, rocky island, a gang of rooks found by the water a little half-drowned creature. It was small, and furry, and gray, with a thin, naked tail.

“What is it?” one rook asked another.

The bird nudged it. “It’s little, weak, mousy – it’s a mouse!”

“Are you a mouse?” The bird pecked it. “A mouse, a little mousy mouse?” He pecked it again, harder, drawing blood. It half-woke as it curled up.

“A mouse, a mousy mouse!” chattered the rest of the birds as one of their number lifted it off the ground to let it drop. It landed hard, rose quick and scuttled. But there was nowhere for it to hide among the smooth rocks of the shore.

“Mousy mouse!” was the call as the birds lifted and carried to drop and peck. It staggered beaten, on broken toes, half-blind and bleeding. But the birds had carried it far from the shore: and with a dash it found shelter in a crevice of the rough rock of the island’s summit.

The rooks, entertained enough, forgot the little creature. Meanwhile, among the crevices, the little creature grew – not longer – fatter with the weight of her children. She did not long survive their delivery, and hers was the first stuff her little ones grew on. How they grew – they grew long and sleek – they grew black and hungry – they grew fast and silent.

They grew until they were rats. They ate all the birds’ eggs, and the day hunters never caught them; they ate all the bird’s eggs, and the island was theirs.

Moral: Cruelty breeds enemies.