Once upon a farm an armada of crows descended like the wolf on the fold. They were after the seeds in the garden and the corn in the field.
The crows posted sentinels, who warned them of the approach of the farmer, and they even had an undercover crow or two who mingled with the chickens in the barnyard and the pigeons on the roof, and found out the farmer’s plans in advance.
Thus they were able to raid the garden and the field when he was away, and they stayed hidden when he was at home. The farmer decided to build a scarecrow so terrifying it would scare the hateful crows to death when they got a good look at it.
But the scarecrow, for all the work the farmer put in on it, didn’t frighten even the youngest and most fluttery female. The marauders knew that the scarecrow was a suit of old clothes stuffed with straw and that what it held in its wooden hand was not a rifle but only a curtain rod.
As more and more corn and more and more seeds disappeared, the farmer became more and more eager for vengeance. One night, he made himself up to look like a scarecrow and in the dark, for it was a moonless night, his son helped him to take the place of the scarecrow. This time, however, the hand that held the gun was not made of wood and the gun was not an unloaded curtain rod, but a double-barreled 12-gauge Winchester.
Dawn broke that morning with a sound like a thousand tin pans falling. This was the rebel yell of the crows coming down on field and garden like Jeb Stuart’s cavalry.
Now one of the young crows who had been out all night, drinking corn instead of eating it, suddenly went into a tailspin, plunged into a bucket of red paint that was standing near the barn, and burst into flames.
The farmer was just about to blaze away at the squadron of crows with both barrels when the one that was on fire headed straight for him. The sight of a red crow, dripping what seemed to be blood, and flaring like a Halloween torch, gave the living scarecrow such a shock that he dropped dead in one beat less than the tick of a watch (which is the way we all want to go, mutatis, it need scarcely be said, mutandis).
The next Sunday the parson preached a disconsolate sermon, denouncing drink, carrying on, adult delinquency, front page marriages, golf on Sunday, adultery, careless handling of firearms, and cruelty to our feathered friends.
After the sermon, the dead farmer’s wife explained to the preacher what had really happened, but he only shook his head and murmured skeptically, “Confused indeed would be the time in which the crow scares the scarecrow and becomes the scare-scarecrow.”
MORAL: All men kill the thing they hate, too, unless, of course, it kills them first.
The Crow And The Scarecrow – James Thurber
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