The Magpie’s Treasure

One day when the sun made everything that glitters glitter and everything that sparkles sparkle, a magpie picked up something from a gutter and carried it off to her nest.

A crow and a rabbit had seen her swoop down and fly away, and each decided she had found something good to eat. “I’m sure it’s a carrot,” said the rabbit, “for I heard her say something about carrots.”

“I saw it glitter,” said the crow, “and it glittered edibly, like a yellow grain of corn.”

“Corn is for the commoner,” said the rabbit scornfully.

“You can have your carrots, and welcome to them,” said the crow. They smacked their lips as they approached the magpie’s nest. “I’ll find out what she’s got,” said the crow. “If it’s a grain of corn, I’ll eat it. If it’s a carrot, I’ll throw it down to you.”

So the crow flew to the edge of the magpie’s nest while the rabbit waited below. The magpie happily showed the crow what she had found in the gutter. “It’s a fourteen-carat diamond set in a golden ring,” she said. “I wanted rings from the time I could fly, but my parents were worm collectors. If I had had my way, I’d be a wealthy bird today, surrounded by rings and other lovely things.”

“You are living in the pluperfect subjunctive,” said the crow disdainfully.

“It’s serene there, and never crowded, except for old regrets,” the magpie said.

The crow dropped down to the ground and explained to the rabbit that the “carrots” the magpie had talked about were only carats. “One carrot is worth fourteen carats,” the rabbit said. “You can multiply that by twenty and it will still be true.”

“If I can’t eat it, I don’t want it,” said the crow. “Seeing is deceiving. It’s eating that’s believing.” And the crow and the rabbit swallowed their disappointment, for want of anything else, and left the magpie to the enjoyment of her treasure. The light made everything that sparkles sparkle, and everything that glitters glitter, and the magpie was content until the setting of the sun.

MORAL: Chacun à son gout is very very true, but why should we despise the apples of other eyes?

The Magpie's Treasure

James Thurber

James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 2, 1961) was an American cartoonist, author, humorist, journalist, playwright, and celebrated wit. He was best known for his cartoons and short stories published mainly in The New Yorker magazine, such as "The Catbird Seat", and collected in his numerous books. He was one of the most popular humorists of his time, as he celebrated the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people.

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