There was a large banyan tree deep inside a dense forest. Its branches spread in all directions, throwing a large shade on the ground. The branches were full of leaves, which rustled when the wind blew. One day, Guru the crow, landed on one of the branches. It was a hot summer’s day, and Guru enjoyed the cool breeze on the banyan tree.

He looked around, but was surprised to see no nests on such a majestic, friendly tree. He couldn’t hear the squeaking of the squirrels, the shrill cry of the mynahs or the twittering of sparrows. It was strange, but Guru found the tree silent and peaceful.

The next day he brought his wife Mia to the tree. The two crows lovingly built a nest on one of the thick branches of the tree. The two loved their new home.

A few months later, Mia laid four eggs. After some time, four crow chicks hatched from the eggs. Guru and Mia were extremely happy. They flew the next day to find some juicy worms for the hungry chicks. But when they returned in the evening, they found the babies missing.

Guru and Mia cawed at the top of their voice in despair. They flew all around the banyan tree wondering if the chicks had fallen off the nest. But there was no sign of the chicks.

As Guru was searching near the ground, he noticed a hole at the base of the tree. It was dark inside. Suddenly, he saw a pair of thin eyes. Guru’s heart leapt in panic. But the moment he blinked, the eyes were gone. Guru thought he must have imagined it. He said nothing to Mia.

A few months later Mia again laid eggs. Once again, the parents felt happy looking at the new-born chicks. The babies were healthy. But they were extremely hungry. Though they didn’t want to leave the chicks alone, Guru and Mia had to leave the nest to find food.

When they returned in the evening, once again they found the nest empty. Guru immediately remembered the hole at the base of the tree. He flew there to see if he could see those eyes he had seen. The hole was dark. But at its mouth Guru saw a feather. It was a crow feather.

He cawed loudly at the hole. The sound boomed inside the hole. Guru continued his cawing in anger. Suddenly, there was a loud hiss. Guru jumped back in fear. A big black cobra emerged from the hole. It looked coldly at Guru, and went back in.

Guru hurried to Mia, and told her everything he had seen. Mia was scared. “Now I know why there aren’t any nests on this tree. This snake eats bird babies. Let’s leave Guru. I’m very scared.”

“We can’t leave our home Mia,” said Guru.

“Guru, I know you like this tree. But don’t you think we can be happy wherever we go? Think of how happy we will be with our babies?” said Mia.

“Yes, we will be happy. But I don’t like being forced to leave. Think of all the birds who thought like that and left this beautiful tree. Don’t worry Mia. I will think of a plan.”

Some time passed, and Mia once again laid eggs. She kept asking Guru what he planned to do. She feared for her chicks.

Meanwhile, Guru had no idea how to deal with the snake. He decided to ask his friend jackal for help. The jackal heard the whole story. Without saying a word, he went for a long walk. When he returned he had a smile on his face. He whispered the plan into Guru’s ears.

The next day Guru flew towards the river. He sat on a large rock and waited. Soon he saw the thing he was waiting for. A large group of people approached the river. It was the queen of the land coming to the river for a picnic. The queen stepped out on the grass. Her helpers spread a soft mattress, and the queen sat down. She took off her jewellery to relax under the sun.

This was the moment Guru was waiting for. He hopped on the mattress, picked up the necklace and flew away. The queen’s guards ran behind Guru, who made sure he flew slowly, allowing the soldiers to spot him.

Soon, he reached the banyan tree, and dropped the necklace inside the snake’s hole. The soldiers rushed forward. They began digging at the hole to retrieve the necklace. Suddenly, they heard a hiss. It was the cobra. It spread its hood, ready to strike at anyone who attacked. But the soldiers were clever. They thrashed the snake with sticks, and threw it away. They found the necklace and returned it to the queen.

High on the banyan branches Guru and Mia saw everything that happened. Guru cawed his thanks to the soldiers. As soon as the soldiers left, Guru and Mia heard a crack. The first chick put its head outside the egg. Guru and Mia smiled. One by one, all the chicks hatched. This time all of them lived happily together.

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