ONCE there was a great king who ruled over all men and all animals. He was a just and kindly ruler, and his subjects, except for a wicked few, loved and obeyed him. He was also mighty in body and a show of his fist was enough to frighten a rebellious subject into submission. However, one day the Crow decided to rebel. The Crow at that time was a big and mighty bird, and as at present, he was the most cunning of all birds. He wanted to become the king of the birds. So, the Crow cajoled some of the birds to recognize him as their king, and fought the others into submission, until at last all the birds were under him. But he was not satisfied, and he now wanted to rule over human beings also. With this end in view, the Crow led his army of birds to the great king’s city.
The great king, realizing that the birds had been won over by cunning or by force to join the Crow’s rebellion, did not wish to kill them. So, he did not call out his soldiers, but went alone to meet the Crow and his army of birds. “Crow,” said the great king, “I have no desire to kill you or your followers. I will pardon you if you will ask for forgiveness and disband your army.”
Be honest, “replied the Crow insolently,” and say that you are frightened of this mighty Crow. “The king showed his mighty fist to frighten the Crow into submission. ‘Ha, Ha, “jeered the Crow,” do you call that a first? Compared to my big and mighty body, it is indeed a tiny thing.’
At this insult the great king became angry, and said,” Crow, I do not wish to kill you, but for your insolence I will punish you now. You are very proud of your size, and you are contemptuous of my fist. So, I lay this curse upon you: May you become as small as my fist.’
The Crow opened his mouth to give an insolent reply, but before he could say a word, his body started to shrink, and it continued to shrink until the Crow was no bigger than the great king’s fist. All the other birds begged for pardon from the king, but the Crow flew away in fear and shame.