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The Neglectful Mother


Crow had been sitting on the egges in her nest for many days, and she got tired of it and flew away. Hawk came by and found nobody on the nest. Hawk said to herself, "The person who owns this nest must no longer care for it. What a shame for those poor little eggs! I will sit on them, and they will be my children." She sat for many days on the eggs, and finally they began to hatch. Still no Crow came. The little ones all hatched out and the mother Hawk flew about getting food for them. They grew bigger and bigger and their wings got strong, and at last it was time for the mother Hawk to take them off then nest.

After all this while, Crow finally remembered her nest. When she came back to it she found the eggs hatched and Hawk taking care of her little ones.


"What is it?"

"You must return these little ones you are leading around."


"Because they are mine!"

Hawk said, "Yes, you laid the eggs, but you had no pity on the poor things. You went off and left them. I came and sat on the nest and hatched them. When they were hatched, I fed them, and now I lead them about. They are mine, and I won't return them."

Crow said, "I shall take them back."

"No, you won't! I worked for them, and for many days I fasted, sitting there on the eggs. In all that time you didn't come near them. Why is it now, when I've taken care of them and brought them up, that you want them back?"

Crow said to the little ones, "My children, com with me. I am your mother."

But the little ones said that they did not know her. "Hawk is our mother." At last when she couldn't make them come with her, she said, "Very well, I'll take Hawk to court, and we shall see who has the right to these children."

So Mother Crow took Mother Hawk before the king of the birds. Eagle said to Crow, "Why did you leave your nest?" Crow hung her head and had no answer to that. But she said, "When I came back to my nest, I found my eggs already hatched and Hawk taking charge of the little ones. I have come to ask that Hawk return the children to me."

Eagle siad to Mother Hawk, "How did you find this nest of eggs?"

"Many times I went to it and found it empty. No one came for long time, and at last I had pity upon the poor little eggs. I said to myself, 'The mother who made this nest can no longer care for these eggs. I would be glad to hatch the little ones.' I sat on them and they hatched. Then I went about getting food for them. I worked hard and brought them up, and they have grown."

Mother Crow interrupted mother Hawk and said, "But they're my children. I laid the eggs."

"It's not your turn. We are both asking for justice, and it will be given to us. Wait till I have spoken."

Eagle said to Mother Hawk, "Is that all?"

"Yes, I have worked hard to raise my two little ones. Just when they were grown, Mother Crow came and asked to have them back again, but I won't give them back. It is I who fasted and worked, and they are mine now."

The king of birds said to Mother Crow, "If you really had pity on your little ones, why did you leave the nest for so many days? And why are you demanding to have them now? Mother Hawk is the mother of the little ones, for she has fasted and hatched them, and flown about searching for their food. Now they are her children."

Mother Crow said to the king of the birds, "King, you should ask the little ones which mother they choose to follow. They enough to know which one to take."

So the king said to the little ones, Which mother will you choose?"

Both answered together, "Mother Hawk is our mother. She's all the mother we know."

Crow cried, No, I'm your only mother."

The little Crow children said, "In the nest you had no pity on us; you left us. Mother Hawk hatched us, and she is our mother."

So it was finally settled s the little ones had said: they were the children of Mother Hawk, who had had pity on them in the nest and brought them up.

Mother Crow began to weep. The king said to her, "Don't cry. It's your own fault. This is the final decision of the king of birds." So Mother crow lost hr children.

--Recorded by Ruth Benedict in 1931.

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