THE BOASTFUL CROW and the Laughing Jack|
Were telling tales of the outer back:
“I’ve just been travelling far and wide,
At the back of Bourke and the Queensland side;
There isn’t a bird in the bush can go
As far as me,” said the old black crow.
“There isn’t a bird in the bush can fly
A course as straight or a course as high.
Higher than human eyesight goes
There’s sometimes clouds—but there’s always crows,
Drifting along for a scent of blood
Or a smell of smoke or a sign of flood.
For never a bird or a beast has been
With a sight as strong or a scent as keen.
At fires and floods I’m the first about,
For then the lizards and mice run out:
And I make my swoop—and that’s all they know—
I’m a whale on mice,” said the Boastful Crow.
The Bee-birds over the homestead flew
And told each other the long day through
“The cold has come, we must take the track.”
“Now, I’ll make you a bet,” said the Laughing Jack,
“Of a hundred mice, that you dare not go
With the little Bee-birds, by Boastful Crow.”
Said the Boastful Crow, “I could take my ease
And fly with little green birds like these.
If they went flat out and they did their best
I could have a smoke and could take a rest.”
And he asked of the Bee-birds circling round:
“Now, where do you spike-tails think you’re bound?”
“We leave tonight, and our present plan
Is to go straight on till we reach Japan.”
“Every year, on the self-same day,
We call our children and start away,
Twittering, travelling day and night,
Over the ocean we take our flight;
And we rest a day on some lonely isles
Or we beg a ride for a hundred miles
On a steamer’s deck, and away we go:
We hope you’ll come with us, Mister Crow.”
But the old black crow was extremely sad.
Said he: “I reckon you’re raving mad
To talk of travelling night and day,
And how in the world do you find your way?”
And the Bee-birds answered him, “If you please,
That’s one of our own great mysteries”.
. . . . .
Now these things chanced in the long ago
And explain the fact, which no doubt you know,
That every jackass high and low
Will always laugh when he sees a crow.