THE DOVE WHO SPOKE TRUTH
BY ABBIE FARWELL BROWN
THE dove and the wrinkled little bat once went on a journey
together. When it came toward night a storm arose, and the
two companions sought everywhere for a shelter. But all the
birds were sound asleep in their nests and the animals in
their holes and dens. They could find no welcome anywhere
until they came to the hollow tree where old Master Owl
lived, wide awake in the dark.
"Let us knock here," said the shrewd bat; "I know the old
fellow is not asleep. This is his prowling hour, and but
that it is a stormy night he would be abroad hunting.—
What ho, Master Owl!" he squeaked, "will you let in two
storm-tossed travelers for a night's lodging?"
Gruffly the selfish old owl bade them enter, and grudgingly
invited them to share his supper. The poor dove was so tired
that she could scarcely eat,
 but the greedy bat's spirits rose as soon as he saw the
viands spread before him. He was a sly fellow, and
immediately began to flatter his host into good humor. He
praised the owl's wisdom and his courage, his gallantry and
his generosity; though every one knew that however wise old
Master Owl might be, he was neither brave nor gallant. As
for his generosity—both the dove and the bat well
remembered his selfishness toward the poor wren, when the
owl alone of all the birds refused to give the little
fire-bringer a feather to help cover his scorched and
All this flattery pleased the owl. He puffed and ruffled
himself, trying to look as wise, gallant, and brave as
possible. He pressed the bat to help himself more generously
to the viands, which invitation the sly fellow was not slow
During this time the dove had not uttered a word. She sat
quite still staring at the bat, and wondering to hear such
insincere speeches of flattery. Suddenly the owl turned to
"As for you, Miss Pink-Eyes," he said gruffly, "you keep
careful silence. You are a dull table-companion. Pray, have
you nothing to say for yourself?"
"Yes," exclaimed the mischievous bat; "have you no words of
praise for our kind host? Methinks he deserves some return
for this wonderfully generous, agreeable, tasteful,
 luxurious, elegant, and altogether acceptable banquet. What
have you to say, O little dove?"
But the dove hung her head, ashamed of her companion, and
said very simply: "O Master Owl, I can only thank you with
all my heart for the hospitality and shelter which you have
given me this night. I was beaten by the storm, and you took
me in. I was hungry, and you gave me your best to eat. I
cannot flatter nor make pretty speeches like the bat. I
never learned such manners. But I thank you."
"What!" cried the bat, pretending to be shocked, "is that
all you have to say to our obliging host? Is he not the
wisest, bravest, most gallant and generous of gentlemen?
Have you no praise for his noble character as well as for
his goodness to us? I am ashamed of you! You do not deserve
such hospitality. You do not deserve this shelter."
The dove remained silent. Like Cordelia in the play she
could not speak untruths even for her own happiness.
"Truly, you are an unamiable guest," snarled the owl, his
yellow eyes growing keen and fierce with anger and mortified
pride. "You are an ungrateful bird, Miss, and the bat is
right. You do not deserve this generous hospitality which I
have offered, this goodly shelter which you asked. Away with
you! Leave my dwelling! Pack off
 into the storm and see whether or not your silence will
soothe the rain and the wind. Be off, I say!"
"Yes, away with her!" echoed the bat, flapping his leathery
And the two heartless creatures fell upon the poor little
dove and drove her out into the dark and stormy night.
Poor little dove! All night she was tossed and beaten about
shelterless in the storm, because she had been too truthful
to flatter the vain old owl. But when the bright morning
dawned, draggled and weary as she was, she flew to the court
of King Eagle and told him all her trouble. Great was the
indignation of that noble bird.
"For his flattery and his cruelty let the bat never presume
to fly abroad until the sun goes down," he cried. "As for
the owl, I have already doomed him to this punishment for
his treatment of the wren. But henceforth let no bird have
anything to do with either of them, the bat or the owl. Let
them be outcasts and night-prowlers, enemies to be attacked
and punished if they appear among us, to be avoided by all
in their loneliness. Flattery and inhospitality, deceit and
cruelty,—what are more hideous than these? Let them cover
themselves in darkness and shun the happy light of day.
"As for you, little dove, let this be a lesson to you to
shun the company of flatterers, who are
 sure to get you into trouble. But you shall always be loved
for your simplicity and truth. And as a token of our
affection your name shall be used by poets as long as the
world shall last to rhyme with love."
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