A raven, who was very unhappy with his black feathers and hoarse voice, saw a beautiful swan swimming in a lake. He admired the swan’s white plumage and melodious song, and wished he could be like him.
He decided to approach the swan and ask him how he became so lovely. He flew to the edge of the lake and said, “Greetings, noble swan. You are the most splendid bird I have ever seen. How did you get such fair feathers and such a sweet voice?”
The swan smiled and replied, “I was born this way. It is the gift of nature. I have nothing to do with it.”
The raven felt envious and said, “That is not fair. You have everything, and I have nothing. I am ugly and despised by everyone. Is there no way I can change my appearance and voice?”
The swan shook his head and said, “I am sorry, my friend, but you cannot change what nature has given you. You have to accept yourself as you are, and make the best of it. Besides, you have other qualities that I do not have. You are clever and cunning, and you can fly high in the sky. I am simple and naive, and I can only swim in the water. We are different, but we are both valuable in our own way.”
The raven was not convinced and said, “No, you are wrong. You are better than me in every way. I would give anything to be like you, even if it means giving up my flight and my wit.”
The swan sighed and said, “You are foolish to think so. You do not know the dangers and difficulties I face every day. I am hunted by men and beasts, and I have to hide and flee for my life. You are free and safe, and you can go wherever you want. You should be grateful for what you have, and not covet what you do not have.”
The raven was still stubborn and said, “I do not care about the risks. I only care about the rewards. I want to be beautiful and admired, not ugly and scorned. Please, tell me your secret. How can I become like you?”
The swan realized that the raven was hopeless and decided to teach him a lesson. He said, “Very well, I will tell you my secret, but you have to promise to do exactly as I say, and not to tell anyone else.”
The raven eagerly agreed and said, “I promise, I promise. Just tell me what to do.”
The swan said, “Follow me to the other side of the lake. There is a special spring there, with magical water. If you drink from it, you will become white and beautiful like me.”
The raven was overjoyed and said, “Thank you, thank you. You are very kind and generous. Let us go at once.”
The swan led the raven to the other side of the lake, where there was indeed a spring, but it was not magical. It was a trap. The spring was surrounded by reeds and bushes, where a hunter had set a snare with a piece of cheese as bait.
The swan said to the raven, “Here we are. This is the spring. Go ahead and drink from it, and you will see the change.”
The raven did not suspect anything and ran towards the spring, eager to drink from it. As soon as he reached the cheese, he was caught in the snare. He tried to free himself, but it was too late. The hunter heard the noise and came out of his hiding place. He saw the raven and said, “What a lucky catch! A raven for my supper!”
The raven realized his mistake and cursed himself for his foolishness. He looked at the swan, who was watching him from a safe distance, and said, “You tricked me! You lied to me! You are not my friend, you are my enemy!”
The swan said, “I warned you, but you did not listen. You wanted to be something you are not, and you paid the price. You should have been content with what you had, and not envied what you did not have. Now you have lost everything, and gained nothing.”
The raven had no words to say, and could only croak in pain and regret. The hunter took him away, and the swan flew back to his lake, where he lived happily ever after.
Moral: We should be satisfied with what we have, and not be greedy for what we do not have