Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Peacock's Many Eyes: A Fable

Following is another fable by our talented storyteller and ETC Supervisor, Allison Brehmer.

The Peacock’s Many Eyes

Have you ever wondered why Peacocks have so many eyes on their long, beautiful tails?

A long time ago, when humans and animals could still understand one another, there lived a Peacock and his lovely wife, the Peahen.  They had a sweet little nest built out of wood and stone.  Within this little nest, they cared for their eggs.  The Peahen would sit on them all day and turn them just so.  The Peacock would provide for her and give her everything she could possibly want.  He worked hard every day and came home late at night.

One day, while the Peacock was foraging in the woods, a snake came across the nest and couldn’t resist the lure of the Peahen’s eggs.  He snuck up behind her and swallowed up an egg without her notice.  He soon swallowed another and then another.  Happy with his meal, the snake slithered away with a fat belly.  That evening the Peacock came home and greeted his wife.  She stood to welcome him, but noticed that there seemed to be fewer eggs than there were before.  Perplexed, the Peafowl couldn’t think of a reason why an egg would suddenly disappear.  They were saddened by this find and the Peahen promised to be more vigilant.

The next day, the Peacock went back out into the woods to forage for food.  The Peahen watched every which way she could to see what could possibly be taking her eggs.  Then, out of the tall grass, she saw him come.  The snake had returned, hoping to find another easy meal.  The Peahen puffed up and tried to chase away the snake, but he was just too quick for her.  In one swallow, three more eggs were in his belly.  Satisfied, he slithered off, leaving a very distraught Peahen.

The Peacock came home that night to find his wife crying over what was left of their eggs.  She told him that a big snake came up and swallowed up their eggs.  The Peacock decided to stay and fend off the snake if he came back.  The next day, the Peacock sat on the eggs and waited.  Soon enough, the snake came crawling through the grass in search of more eggs.  The Peacock fought valiantly, but the snake was just too fierce. The Peacock laid his long, beautiful tail over the remaining eggs, but the snake just slipped between them.  He enjoyed his meal and left only one egg. The Peacock and Peahen were devastated by the loss and didn’t know what to do. 

Then a thought came to the Peacock.  In the nearby village there was an artist that painted terrifying images that frightened even the bravest of warriors and fiercest of tigers.  He went to the artist and asked to be made terrifying to scare the snake.  The artist,, who loved the beauty of the Peacock, refused the request.  But the Peacock pleaded and begged until the artist could take no more.  He agreed, but only if he choose what to paint.  The Peacock agreed and spread his long tail feathers.

The artist worked all night and used the brightest and darkest colors he had.  As the sun rose he announced that he was finally done.  The Peacock looked at himself in the mirror and spread out his feathers behind him.  He nearly jumped out of his skin at the sight. It looked like a thousand eyes were glaring back at him.  He thanked the artist and ran straight home.

Within the hour the snake came to finish off the last egg.  When the snake saw the Peacock standing over his wife and egg, he laughed to himself, knowing that there was nothing they could do to stop him.  The snake approached confidently and the Peacock stood his ground.  Just as the snake was about to reach him, the Peacock opened his tail and spread it out behind him.  The snake froze at the sight of a thousand eyes staring back at him.  The Peacock took a step forward and the snake slithered back.  With a shake of his tail, the Peacock released a loud cry.  This sent shivers up and down the snake’s spine.  If he could, he would have been running away with his tail in between his legs… that is if he had legs.

The Peacock slowly put down his tail and stood proudly.  He had saved his wife and their egg from the snake’s greedy hunger.  The egg soon hatched and a little Peacock came into the world.  From then on, every Peacock was hatched with a thousand eyes on their brightly colored tail.

Submitted by Allison Brehmer, World Bird Sanctuary ETC  Supervisor