There was once a beautiful and majestic eagle. She could soar higher in the sky than any other creature in the forest. She loved beauty and life above all else.
She one day discovered a snake in her nest. Her first thought, as powerful as she was, was to eat the snake. But she saw that the snake had a gorgeous pattern of bright colors upon its back. So, she decided to speak to it instead.
“Ho there, Snake. This is my nest, and I am a hunter of your kind. How is it that you have happened into such a dangerous place?”
“Forgive me, great eagle, for I did not know this nest was yours” said the snake. “I too am a hunter and I saw these eggs here would make a fine meal. But I have found that your nest is quite comfortable, and very beautiful as well. I dare say this is the finest nest in all the woods. You have a keen eye for beauty.”
The eagle found herself flattered by his appreciation for her work.
She said “You are kind and yourself quite stunning to behold. I bid you not eat my eggs, however, for they are my children. And if that is your intent I am afraid I must kill you.”
“Thank you for your kind words” said the snake. “I too do not wish to be slain or eaten and shall promise to refrain from eating your children on one condition. I have also a weakness for things that are beautiful. If you will choose for me a stone of rare beauty that only you would select for yourself, I will not eat these eggs.”
The eagle, beswept by the snake’s confidence in her abilities, acquiesced and was soon scouring the stones of the riverbank with her keen eyes. She searched high and low for the perfect stone that only she would select and, after great effort, found one that met her high standards. She brought it back to the snake in her nest and placed it in a perfect position against the wall.
“My,” said the snake, “that is a rare and perfect specimen. And you’ve placed it so well in your nest, it feels more like home already. I am sure that when your children hatch they will see it and fall instantly in love.”
The eagle could not help but agree and watched as the snake then curled up and fell asleep in the corner of the nest.
And so it went for several weeks. The eagle continued to collect stones and decorate her nest with great care and the snake continued to sleep there, leaving the eggs as they were. Eventually, she grew very fond not only of the snake, but also the collection of beautiful stones which she had so meticulously decorated her nest with.
One day, she came back to her nest with a new stone and was appalled to find the snake swallowing up the last of her eggs. In a whirlwind of fury, she snatched the snake with her immense talons, snapped his spine in half and flung his corpse from the nest.
She cried rivers of tears for several days in mourning over the devastating loss of her children.
Then the fire came.
A great fire that filled the woods and threatened even her lofty perch.
She knew that she must escape over the mountain, and so quickly gathered up her nest of precious stones and took off. By this time, however, the nest was so full of so many beautiful stones that even her powerful wings could not carry it and she fell to the earth.
A passing fox, frantically trying to escape the blaze happened upon her. “Mighty eagle, why do you not escape this inferno? Why, I dare think that a creature as majestic as yourself could not only fly over the mountain, but could carry me to safety quite easily as well. Like you, I am also a hunter and would surely find a way to repay your kindness.”
The eagle looked at the brown fox and saw that he was not so appealing in color or beauty. She could see, however, the despair in his eyes and felt sorrow for him.
“I am afraid that I have not the strength to even carry myself and my things over the mountain. I am sorry, Fox, for we shall both die here.”
The fox looked in her nest and saw the great magnitude of stones within. “Well now, there is nothing but stones in this nest. Why do you carry them so? ”
“I had decorated my nest for my children and whilst waiting for them to be hatched, they were eaten by a cruel and cunning snake. Now these stones are all I have left of their memory. ”
The fox, bewildered, said “ok, if that is your decision, then so be it. But do you not hold the memory of your children within you as well? Why do you then let these stones weigh you down and keep you from escaping the blaze which is upon us? Keep your memories, but drop the stones, and we may both be saved.”
The eagle considered the fox’s demeanor and saw the wisdom of his words. At that moment, she unclenched the nest of stones, and found a new freedom in her wings.
With a whoosh she lifted herself up, took the fox delicately in her grasp, and gracefully soared over the mountain to the luscious, green valley on the other side. She afterward enjoyed a long and new life, in a new place, with a better friend.
She never forgot her children, but she did forget the stones