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The Fox and the Raven
(first draft)

One day, a certain raven was crossing the countryside in flight when he spy'd out a stone into which a sword was encas'd. The raven alighted and said to himself ay, this be a parcel of work. He grasped the sword roundabout the hilt, and with a mighty flap of wings slid the weapon free. Truly (said a passing wildebeest) you have wrested from the stone fair Excalibur, lord of all swords. Upon thy head (the noble bovine continued) will rest the crown of the land.

At this, the raven rose and flew off to tell his friends. He planned to mount the sword high above his nest, and to brag about it loudly within hearing of a certain former girlfriend. But the way to his nest was long (he having traveled far and wide that morning in search of adventure), and the eternal blade weighty. P'raps I might sit a spell in yon tree (thought he) to rest my wings, which ache mightily under the heft of this sword.

The raven perch'd upon a branch, which bow'd near the ground under the weight of bird and sword. As he sat, up crept a fox, who had long entertained dreams of public service. Alas, his legislative dreams were ever thwarted, but he saw new hope a-glistening in yon avian mouth. Were I to have that sword, I'd rule the land (he schemed). At that, (his mind added) I could also use the eversharp weapon to open this stubborn can of Treet, whose key I have misplaced, and whose sealed lid has prevented the enjoyment of pott'd meat by this long-suffering carnivore. And so, in this way, the crafty fox chanc'd upon a solution for both his appetites.

Knowing well raven's deluded self-image and trouble with the ladies (for was not fox's own sister one of the bird's past amours?), called up to the weapon-laded flyer. Oh bird of infinite gifts! (said he) Thy plumage is ebon majesty, thy talons sharp, thy beak blessed at performing beakly duties, & tc.

This heaped praise struck home, for the raven (being not a generally attractive member of his species) was unused to praise. He open'd wide his beak, to squawk a speech along such lines: geez, thanks, I really appreciate such kind words; but upon the opening of his mouth, the imbalanc'd sword tipped and fell foxwards, blade first. The mighty weapon neatly cleaved fox's skull, severed tricky tounge from mouth, and stuck half in the ground, half in the preserved meat. The raven, seeing the havoc his pricked pride had sown, sadly put aside thoughts of a government job and return'd to his job at the plant.

The Moral

There's hardly any government standing today that would be much improv'd by the participation of birds of prey. Also, 'tis a blessed man who holds onto his Treet key and lets it not from his sight. Kingdoms have fall'n for less.

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