There was once a fat, green frog who lived in a river. He led a happy and contented life. One day, a terrible misfortune befell him. He had just climbed out of the river, on to the bank, to warm himself in the pleasant sunshine, when a large, black crow pounced upon him, and seized him quickly in her beak.
“What a tasty meal you will make for me,” she cawed greedily, as she eyed the frog. She flapped her wings and flew into the air, intending to take the frog to a faraway place, where she could feed on him undisturbed.
Poor frog! He was really terrified as he soared through the air, clutched tightly in the crow’s beak.
He knew that his end was imminent, for there was nothing that he could do to overpower his wily, old enemy, the crow. Even so, he decided that he would try and keep his wits about him, and not show the crow how afraid he really was. Perhaps then he would gain some more time to work out a plan…
After a while, the crow landed at the mouth of a lonely and dark cave. With a loud caw of satisfaction, she clutched the frog in her claws, and was about to pierce him with her sharp beak, when the frog burst into loud, raucous laughter. The crow paused, and looked at the frog incredulously.
“Why do you laugh, you fat fool?” she cried, “do you not know that you are about to die?”
“It is not only I who is about to die, but you too!” replied the frog. “My good friend, the great hooded serpent lives in this cave, and he will soon make a meal of you too!” The crow was most alarmed when she heard this, and without losing a moment, she snatched the frog into her beak, and soared in the air.
She flew as high as she could, and finally she came to alight atop a very tall tree. Once again, she got ready to devour the frog. The frog, as before, burst into laughter just as the crow was about to launch her first peck at his head. The crow stopped, and looked at the frog angrily.
“Why do you laugh foolishly, Mr. Frog? Surely your friend, the serpent is not atop this tall tree too?”
“My friend, the serpent does not live here to be sure,” replied the frog. “But another friend, the cat does. She is particularly fond of eating crows. She will be delighted to see the feast that is awaiting her!”
The crow trembled to hear these words, and took wing as fast as she could, bearing the hapless frog in her beak.
By this time the crow was furious at having been thwarted twice by the frog in her attempt to eat him up. Swiftly she flew to the farthest place she knew—a deserted temple on a high, rocky hill. As she set the frog down on the rocks, she said scornfully, “Laugh all you wish, you foolish frog, but there are no friends here to save you! Neither the serpent, nor the cat ever comes here! No one can save you now, and I will make a most delicious and leisurely meal of you!”
To the crow’s dismay, the frog began to laugh yet again! The crow looked at him in utter disbelief.
“How can you laugh when the angel of death is hovering over you?” she cried in rage.
“The angel of death is hovering over you too, my friend,” replied the frog smugly. “You see, you have brought me to a Shiva temple, and I am a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He works miracles! Do you think that he will allow you to leave this place alive if you eat me up? No! Never, my friend, never! You will be destroyed too…”
The crow listened to these words in despair. The frog sounded so convincing and sure of himself, that the crow felt that there was no time to lose. She seized the frog, and rose into the air.
The crow was very tired and thirsty, and wearily, she made her way back to the very river from where she had seized the frog. As she set him down, she said, “This is the best place for me to eat you up! Everywhere I go, you seem to have some friend or the other who will kill me. Here, you obviously have no one, as I caught you so easily! Laugh all you wish,” the crow jeered, seething with scorn. “You are about to die!”
The frog uttered not a sound. He bent his head and began to weep. “It is true I have no friend here,” he said, “and I am prepared to die. All I ask is that one last wish of mine be granted…”
“Why should I grant any wish of yours?” asked the crow roughly. “I am tired and hungry too!”
“I saved you from certain death three times,” said the frog mournfully. “Please grant me this last wish…” he implored, “and I shall bless you even as I die!”
“Oh, very well,” said the crow impatiently, “but ask your wish quickly, as I have no time to waste…”
The frog lifted his tear-filled eyes, and looked at the crow’s face. His voice shook as he spoke, “I am not as brave as you, fair crow. I am quite afraid to die! But I beg you to make my death as quick and painless as possible! Your big, black beak is so thick and blunt, that I fear that it will hurt me very much as you pierce my heart. Please wet your beak in water, and sharpen it, so that I may die quickly…”
The crow stared at the frog through her beady, black eyes, as she considered the matter. Then at last, she shrugged, `What harm can there be if I sharpen my beak?’ she thought.
“Very well,” she said magnanimously. “I will sharpen my beak till it is as sharp as the point of a spear! In the meanwhile, you must wait here till I come back.”
The frog nodded eagerly. Lo! barely had the crow turned away, the frog jumped into the river with one great leap! Joyfully, he splashed and swam in the water, as the crow vigorously ground her beak in preparation for her fine dinner.
When the crow finally thought that her beak was sharp enough, she looked around for the frog.
“Come back,” she shrieked furiously, when she found that the frog had escaped, and was in the river. “I am ready and have sharpened my beak…”
From the river, the frog laughed contemptuously. “My dear crow,” he said, “you must think of sharpening your wits too!”