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by Mary Ansell, Copyright © 2001

Once upon a time, in the woods of a park, lived a crow family. In the woods were many tall pine trees, and at the edge of the park was a very beautiful ocean. The park was named Point Pleasant Park. At sunrise and sunset the sky was often a brilliant red.

The young crows grew up, most of them very happy. However, one crow was unhappy, because he was much smaller than the others. The smallest crow could not do whatever he wanted, because the other crows often pecked him. Whenever there was something to eat, the smallest crow had to wait until the other crows were finished before he could have anything.

One day, feeling both unhappy and hungry, the smallest crow decided to leave his family and look for food on his own. In the wood were many crows. The whole wood was divided into territories, each territory occupied by a crow family. The smallest crow knew he could not look for anything to eat in the woods; he must go to the ocean shore.

Along the shore were many rocks, as well as mussels, snails and seagulls. The crow watched seagulls take mussels in their beaks, fly up high, and then drop the mussels so that their shells would break on the rocks below. The crow soon found a better method. He used a claw to grip the mussel tightly, and used his strong pointed beak to pry open the mussel shell. He thought the mussel meat was very delicious. The crow also discovered how to pick up small rocks in order to catch the little animals hiding beneath. The crow carefully studied the times of the tides. He could reach the mussels only at low tide; at high tide they were deep underwater. Once he had got used to the ocean shore, the smallest crow was able to eat his fill every day, and felt content. However, there were times when he felt a little lonely.

The following year, in the summer, there was very little rain. The smallest crow heard that the woods were very dry, that food was scarce, and that the birds living in the woods were not in good health. The smallest crow considered the situation. Along the ocean shore, mussels were very plentiful; perhaps he could help the crows in the woods. For the first time, he returned home to visit his family.

They were all very hungry. The smallest crow suggested that they come with him to the ocean shore. Seeing how healthy he looked, they immediately wanted to follow him. The other crows in the woods were also very hungry, and decided to follow him as well.

The smallest crow led the crows down to the ocean shore. He taught them how to pry open mussels, how to hunt the small animals living under the rocks, and how to avoid the waves. At the same time, he calculated the time of the tide, and told the other crows when the next low tide would be.

Seeing this, the other crows realised how clever he was, and all agreed to choose him as their leader. When the drought was over, the smallest crow returned to the woods with the others. The other crows always offered him the best of whatever there was to eat, and whenever there were difficulties, they looked to him for advice.

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