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Once upon a long time ago, there lived a young Raven. Raven thought herself most beautiful and clever—after all, no other creature possessed her glossy white feathers, or could match her in games of wit. Raven never tired of telling the other animals how wonderful she was, and she began to see the other creatures as stupid and beneath her. So conceited was she that Great Sun herself, the creator of all, rallied the animals of the world to teach Raven a lesson. Panther, Salmon, Bear, Mouse, Squirrel, Deer, and Wolf all came at Sun’s bidding
“Raven has grown far too haughty and self centered these past years,” Sun proclaimed. “It is time someone humbled her.”
“Humble her?” Panther growled. “Why, I know what to do. Deep in the night, I will pounce and pluck the white feathers which Raven thinks so highly of!”
But Sun did not favor Panther’s idea, and told him as such.
“Please, Glorious Sun,” wheedled Salmon, “Allow me to put Raven in her place! She admires herself by staring into my river for endless hours. My brethren and I could pull her into the river, and she would be most humiliated.”
But Sun did not think highly of Salmon’s idea either.
The remaining animals thrust their plans at Sun, who dismissed them one by one until only one remained. Sun turned to Wolf, who had remained silent the entire time.
“What say you, Wolf?” asked Sun.
Wolf thought long and hard before she spoke. Wolf was known for being humble and wise, and she did not view herself as being superior or inferior to anyone—including Raven. Wolf knew that Raven was indeed very clever, and she respected that. Wolf also knew that Raven would have to see and accept her own faults if she were to be humbled.
Wolf smiled and told Sun of her plan.
“Why, yes! That is by far the best idea we have heard!” Sun cried. “If your plan succeeds, wise Wolf, you shall be rewarded.”
So Wolf set out to put her plan into action. She and the other animals prepared a grand feast with a great tender boar as the main meal, and left it in an open field. Then Wolf went off into the forest to seek Raven. When Wolf came across her, she was bathing in a shallow stream, running her beak carefully through each feather.
“Friend Raven, may I ask a favor of you?” Wolf pleaded beseechingly. “My friends and I are having a feast today, but I have lost my way and simply cannot remember where the feast will be held. Would you spread your beautiful wings, fly above the treetops, and help me find my way?”
Now, Raven thought Wolf to be rather dim-witted and decided to take advantage of her.
“Of course, dear Wolf,” Raven replied, a sly little smile on her face. “In return, I only ask to join your feast.”
“Indeed, Raven, and if you lead me there you will get first choice of the meat,” Wolf said.
So Raven soared high, spotted the feast in the distance, and proceeded to lead Wolf—who knew very well where the feast was—towards the grand meal. After a short while, they arrived at the clearing where the other animals waited around the feast.
“Ah, thank you Raven!” exclaimed Wolf. “Now, as I promised, you may choose the first piece of meat.” The other animals nodded eagerly at Raven, and Sun surveyed the scene from Her lofty throne.
Raven strutted forward, quite pleased with herself for tricking silly Wolf into letting her join the feast. She sliced her beak along the belly of the boar, eager to retrieve the tasty liver inside.
But the flesh did not part. Astonished and rather humiliated, Raven slashed with her beak again. Again the flesh held firm.
Raven shook with rage; how could she, the cleverest of the clever, let something as simple as a meal get the better of her? Raven struck with her beak once more and then began slicing at the belly with her claws, working herself into a flurry of feathers and claws. It was to no avail.
“Well, Raven,” said Wolf. “Here is your prize: your beak has been worn down from your constant preening, and your talons have grown soft from standing in streams. Try as you might, you will not be able to feed until we do. We all posses our share of gifts—I have my strong teeth and wisdom; Salmon has his perseverance and stamina; you yourself have your graceful wings and sharp wit. But this does not give cause for us to become haughty or condescending. Do you understand now?”
“You tricked me!” Raven hissed. But she still believed she could outwit Wolf, who had so humiliated her. “Go on then, take your meat. I will wait.”
The moment Wolf’s sharp teeth tore open the boar’s belly, Raven darted towards the exposed meat. Wolf’s muzzle was buried deep in the meat, though, and try as she might, Raven could not get past Wolf’s great jaws. One by one, the other animals joined the feast, and the scattered blood fell onto Raven. Sun, watching in approval, hardened the blood into a black carapace over Raven’s feathers.
The animals ate their fill of the best meat, and after they finished Raven was finally able to worm her way in, only to be rewarded with a few lingering scraps! Extending her wings—her now ebony wings—Raven lowered her head in shame.
“Do you understand now, Raven?” asked Wolf.
“Yes, I do, and I am sorry I became so condescending. I am sorry to all of you; my talents do not give me any superiority, and I have learned that your talents are deserving of respect.”
The animals rejoiced and there was celebration with much singing and dancing. Raven now saw the others and herself as Wolf did—as equals.
Sun rewarded Wolf as She said She would, but instead of riches, Wolf asked if she and Raven could travel together, Raven leading Wolf to food and Wolf tearing into the meat for Raven. Wolf wished to become friends with Raven, who in her arrogance had never known friendship.
Sun agreed to this idea, and to this day Wolf and Raven hunt and eat together as equals.