A wise owl lived in the deepest darkest woods of a far away land.
Every day the other animals would come to the owl for advice and enlightenment. This made the owl feel important and puffed up his feathers like a little brown peacock.
One day a wily fox came by and laughed at the pompous vision of the owl, lecturing away at a group of listening mice.
“How can an owl tell a mouse what it should do?!” cried the fox, “That would be like them telling you how to fly!”
The owl was annoyed, but burying this feeling beneath his pride, he turned to reply.
“Impartial advice is a rare thing in these woods. When animals know of it then this is where they come.”
“Don’t owls eat mice?” asked the fox.
“Only when I’m very hungry” said the owl.
“So mice should only take your advice,” the fox replied, “when you’ve had plenty to eat.”
“Precisely!” said the owl.
The fox was amused but the mice seemed satisfied, so she went on her way.
The next day the fox came back and this time she had a cunning plan.
As usual, there was a long queue to see the owl, made up of all kinds of creatures; big and small. To the annoyance of the other animals, the fox joined the queue at the front and there were many squeaks and barks and howls from the line of unhappy customers.
The owl smiled and motioned for the crowd to quieten down. No lowly fox, he thought, could outwit an owl as clever as he.
“Good morning fox, what can I do for you today?”
“Good morning owl,” said the fox, “I’d like to ask you three questions.”
The owl gently nodded his approval.
“If you are so wise,” said the fox, “then why are there never any other owls here to ask your advice?”
The rest of the animals looked thoughtful. The owl simply smiled.
“There are only so many owls. And these are rather large woods. I suspect the other owls are offering advice to the other animals of the forest.”
“My second question is,” said the fox, “do you always give honest advice?”
“Of course!” said the owl.
The fox smiled and nodded. Then she stepped away from the queue.
The other animals turned to look at her expectantly. Now the owl looked confused.
“What about your third question?” said the owl.
Suddenly, a dark shadow in the sky sent the other animals scattering and they hid behind, inside and between the trees. One by one they peeked from their hidey holes to see who had arrived.
“I am the eagle,” (said the eagle) “and I have your final question!”
Nervously, the owl prepared himself to answer.
“I am very hungry!” boomed the eagle “who should I eat first?”
“The mice?” said the owl.
“Too small” said the eagle.
“The rabbits?” said the owl.
“Something larger still…” said the eagle.
The owl looked down at the angry line of other animals who had come to see him that day. None were as large as he.
“Then perhaps,” said the owl, “there’s another owl in the forest you could ask!”
“Now that,” said the fox, “is advice that I believe!”
And with that the she walked smugly back into the woods.