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THE SEVEN CROWS
Once upon a time there was, far away amid high mountains, a green valley.
The valley was crossed by a clear stream and a woodsman had built his stone
house on its shore.
The woodsman was married and had seven sons and one daughter. He often had
to travel from home to work and his wife had a hard time bringing up the
children alone. The daughter did not cause her any trouble because she was
kind, pretty and helpful. But the boys were the cause of her problems because
they were rude, disobedient and quarrelsome. They had no respect for their
mother and she was very worried for them.
When the husband returned home tired after a week's hard work, the poor
wife couldn't bring herself to tell him of the sons' mischievous behaviour
because she didn't want to worry him further. The woman kept her sorrow to
herself not realizing that by doing so her sons would only get worse and
worse. As a matter of fact, when their father was not home to punish them, the
boys kept on taking advantage of the situation which continued to get worse.
Their sister suffered most because she loved her brothers even if they were
wicked, but she loved her mother especially. Being the youngest, however, none
of the brothers paid any attention to her reprimands.
One day the seven boys got into the biggest trouble yet. In the woods grew
a dangerous grass which causes the animals stomachs to swell. The woodsman had
always told his sons to make sure that their goats never ate any. The cruel
boys filled a bag with the grass and then mixed it in with the animals' food.
Later on the goats and the cow fell ill, their bellies swelled and ached and
they could not stand up.
"We won't have any more milk! We won't be able to make any cheese!" the
mother cried desperately. "How will we survive? The sons laughed maliciously
and did not realize the evil they had done until the woman, at the height of
her desperation, cried:
"I wish you were crows rather than sons of mine!" When she spoke these
words, a mysterious cloud overshadowed the sun, it was suddenly very chilly
and the boys turned into seven big crows that flew away croaking.
The woman was so frightened and felt such regret that she fainted. When the
father came back from work the day after, he found out the truth and was very
upset. Nevertheless he tried to comfort his wife, telling her she was not to
blame for the terrible wish that had been fulfllled. But the house was filled
with sadness and despair.
A long time passed and the little girl grew older. She still remembered her
brothers and rarely smiled. One day she asked her mother's permission to go
and look for them.
"I will find them, I feel it. I feel I have to go and that they are
expecting me. Let me go, Mother, and give me your blessing."The mother could
not resist her daughter's pleas and the little girl left home with a little
bundle of provisions. She walked for two days through the woods, climbing
towards the mountains. Pretty soon she had no more food , her clothes were
torn and she was cold and tired.
The third day, at dawn, she saw a strange little cottage in the mist.
Something attracted her to the house even though it had a gloomy and
uninviting appearance. When she was inside the house she found a little table
with seven bowls on it and her heart beat very fast . . . maybe she had found
what she was looking for. There was a large pot full of wheat and oats on the
The little girl was very hungry and so she poured a bit of food in a bowl
and ate it avidly. Then she went upstairs and found a little bedroom with
seven little beds, each one with a different blanket. With tears in her eyes,
the little girl realized she had finally found her brothers. Exhausted by the
trip and the commotion, the little girl lay down on a bed and fell asleep.
Later on, seven chattering crows pushed open the front door and sat around
the kitchen table.
"Someone has eaten some of our soup," one of the crows said after finding
"But who would ever come up here?" answered another.
"We're condemned to be alone on these mountains forever."
"Nobody will ever come to look for us." When they finished eating, the
crows pulled on their sleeping caps, went upstairs and found the little girl
in one of their beds.
"But this is . . ." one of the crows said, after delicately touching her
braid with his beak.
"That's right, this is . . . our sister," they said all together. At that
moment the little girl opened her eyes and when she saw herself surrounded by
the big and ugly birds, she was frightened. But out of one ugly beak spoke a
"Are you our sister?" The little girl got up and opened her arms:
"I've found you! I've found you! We're together again at last!" The seven
crows looked at her sadly and one said:
"Don't we frighten and disgust you?" The girl hugged every one of them.
"I love you very much and even if you've turned into crows you're still my
brothers." When they heard this, the crows were moved and began crying.
"Why don't you come back home with me?" she asked.
"We would like very much to come back," they all answered together, "and we
regret our evil ways. But how can we show ourselves to our parents like this?"
"Mother would accept you all the same, I am sure of it. She keeps crying
and thinking of you," the little girl answered.
The little girl insisted and convinced her brothers to come home with her.
"There's no need to walk back up and down the mountains like you did. We
will fly there and carry you," they said. As they were about to leave, the
youngest brother said,
"Wait a minute! Let's bring Mother all the sparkling stones we found as a
"They are really beautiful," the little girl said when she saw the bag with
her brothers' treasure.
"Do you like them? They might be precious, you know. When we crows see
something sparkle, we cannot help ourselves and take it."
"This one sparkles more than the rest, maybe it's a diamond." They finally
left. The world was very different from above. At first the little girl was
scared, but the seven crows held her firmly and flew safely. Then they saw the
valley, the stream and the little house where they were born. The courtyard
was deserted and when they landed the little girl said,
"You wait here and I'll go and call Mother."
She silently went into the kitchen and saw the poor woman leaning on the
table and weeping. She hugged her and kissed her saying,
"Mother I'm back and I have a big surprise for you."
"You're here at last! I thought I'd lost you forever." The poor woman was
so happy and moved that she didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. In the
courtyard she found the crows.
"My poor sons! I missed you so much. I am so sorry to have uttered that
curse. A mother should never say such things against her children."
"We regret all we have done too. We very much regret our wickedness." They
were all crying over the past when, suddenly, another miracle occurred. The
seven brothers became boys again. The father, who had heard voices, ran out of
"Thank God I can see my children again," he cried as he hugged his sons and
The years passed and the crows' hats became the only memory of this moving
The stones the crows had brought to their mother turned out to be precious
after all, and the treasure allowed the family to live a better future.