The secretary bird hastened back to the other creatures and reported that the owl indeed was the greatest and wisest animal in the world because he could see in the dark and because he could answer any question. "Can he see in the daytime, too?" asked a red fox? "Yes," answered a dormouse and a French poodle. "Can he see in the daytime, too?" All the other creatures laughed loudly at this silly question, and they set upon the red fox and his friends and drove them out of the region. They sent a messenger to the owl and asked him to be their leader.
When the owl appeared among the animals it was high noon
and the sun was shining brightly. He walked very slowly, which gave
him an appearance of great dignity, and he peered about him with large,
staring eyes, which gave him an air of tremendous importance. "He’s
God!" screamed a Plymouth rock hen. And the others took up the cry
"He’s God!" So they followed him wherever he went and when he bumped
into things they began to bump into things, too. Finally he came
to a concrete highway and he started up the middle of it and all the other
creatures followed him. Presently a hawk, who was acting as outrider,
observed a truck coming toward them at fifty miles an hour, and he reported
to the secretary bird and the secretary bird reported to the owl.
"There’s danger ahead," said the secretary bird. "To wit?" said the
owl. The secretary bird told him. "Aren’t you afraid?" he asked.
"Who?" said the owl calmly, for he could not see the truck. "He’s
God!" cried all the creatures again, and they were still crying "He’s God"
when the truck hit them and ran them down. Some of the animals were
merely injured, but most of them, including the owl, were killed.
Moral: You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.
From: James Thurber, Fables for Our Time and Famous
Poems Illustrated (New York, 1940), pp. 35-36. Reproduced under
fair use for use in by students in this course only.