Gaze briefly settles upon the circle of fire-lit faces. One-by-one, extends a smile to each. Now it was the owl-sound, the hoot hoot, in the distance, which brought the next story to mind. . .
'Long, long ago, the birds were far wiser than men. They needed nei king to rule o'er them, or advisors to tell them what to do. Nor did the council of the birds have laws, but when they met the birds would speak about who had been born, who had died, and what young ones had been orphaned. They lived by the one wise law of love and friendship. They knew neither hatred or anger.
One day, the wicked trickster, Loki, wandered into their realm. He looked around him, and was envious of the birds' happiness. "Why do you not raise yourself up above the rest?" he asked the peacock. "You are far more beautiful than the other birds." The peacock was flattered by these words, and began to look at himself most proudly.
"Why do you make friends with the humble quail?" the trickster asked the eagle. "Are you not far stronger and more noble? You could tear the quail's lowly head to pieces with your powerful beak!" The eagle was so filled with conceit when he heard this that he went and ripped the poor quail's nest apart with his sharp talons.
And so, slowly but surely, Loki went about sowing seeds of contention among the birds.
Before long the realm of the birds began to look like a Turkish bazaar. The birds squabbled and abused each other, shouting one another down, until at last the stronger ones among them began to hunt the weaker ones and kill them. "We cannot continue like this," the chickadee said to himself. So he flew off to the mountain peak where the mighty eagle had his nest. "Tis true you are the strongest of us all; you must take power o'er the birds, and see to it they stop harming each other."
The eagle was going to take up the sceptre at once. But Loki told him, "Eagle, do not be king. The king is only the slave of others. He must constantly see to their well-being, and protect the weak against the strong. It would be best to make the owl your king. He has eyes like precious gems; he can see at night, but in the daytime, when the other birds are flying about merrily in the sunshine, he is quite blind. He will not interfere in your affairs, and all will be able to do as they wish."
So the birds made the owl their king. During the day he sleeps, and at night, when the other birds are tucked away in their nests, he holds sway.
Alas, to this day, peace has not returned to the kingdom of the birds.'