The raven

St Kevin knew a thing or two about ravens. His prophetic doom saying, preached up and down the land, earned him the name Raven-dark.

The people would shudder at the sight of the tall cloaked figure, making his way along the track into the village, his staff thumping into the mud in time with his heavy, stolid tread.

The square was his destination. He would stand there, waiting.
The ravens swooped, gathering about him, the whirr of feathers and their harsh croaking filling the cold air.

The villagers hastened to their homes and returned, heads bowed, with baskets of food – bread, sausage, cheeses, whatever they could afford. And in many cases not afford.

The ravens would swirl about him, a black moving mass, which would, at last, settle on the cobblestones, window ledges, door stoops. On St Kevin too, resting on his outstretched arms, his shoulders, his grey hair blackening in the evening light, his face appearing ravenesque in the shadows cast by the wattle and daub walls and thatched roofs.

The people, trembling, desperate for it all to be over, uncovered their baskets. They drew out the foods they had stolen from their own shelves and pantries, and laid it on the ground. An offering to St Kevin and his ravens.

To keep the doomsday prophecies at bay.

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5 thoughts on “The raven”


    Snow White should have recognised the warning signs.
    The raven did not belong in these woods. Its territory was many miles way close to the castle from which she had been ostracised not that many months ago.
    Snow White reflected on events since her stepmother Queen Grimhilde, gifted with magic powers, married her father the king after her mother died.
    Grimhilde appeared preoccupied with her beauty – regularly consulting a magic mirror about who was the fairest in the realm to which the haunted, smoky demon face always responded that she was.
    Once her father followed Snow White’s mother to the grave, Grimhilde reduced the status of the young girl within the castle to a scullery maid.
    Extremely hard work, especially for someone so young and not used to manual labour. However, over the years she became used to it until, one day for some inexplicable reason, a huntsman appeared and confessed he has been sent by the queen to kill her.
    Snow White cannot know that the magic mirror has started telling Grimhilde that she is no longer the fairest in the land and, instead, has been supplanted by her stepdaughter.
    Easy solution for Queen Grimhelde was to kill Snow White and, by doing so, revert to her original status.
    The plan is foiled when the assassin, a huntsman, instead of following orders, helps Snow White escape.
    By chance, while wandering the woods, the young princess happens upon seven dwarves – all of whom prospect for gold in a nearby mine.
    They welcome Snow White into their cottage and she, in turn, agrees to look after them by taking care of all the cooking and cleaning.
    Somehow, news reaches the wicked queen that Snow White is still alive and so, using her magic powers, she transforms into a raven and flies to the woods to seek out her stepdaughter.
    And that is where the princess first spotted her, perched on a tree branch outside the cottage.
    Funny, she thought, wonder how that came to be here – forgetting momentarily about her stepmother’s magical powers.
    The raven’s black, beady eye followed her every move as she hung out the day’s washing.
    “Hope he doesn’t decide to poo on the clothes,” she muttered under breath, “or I’ll have to wash them all over again.”
    Snow White turned to go back into the cottage when, suddenly, an old hag blocked her path.
    “Like a nice juicy red apple to eat,” she cackled holding out the offering in a gnarled, wrinkled hand.
    “No thanks,” replied Snow White. “Just had breakfast so I am not hungry.”
    “Go on, eat it, it’ll be good for you,” the old hag insisted, waving the apple under her nose.
    “I said no thanks. So, can you please go away and leave me alone.”
    Snow White was starting to become irritated with the old woman’s behaviour so she took refuge in the cottage and slammed and locked the door behind her.
    Bunkum, thought the evil queen. Not only can I not persuade anyone to kill my stepdaughter, I can’t even trick her into doing it myself.
    She stormed back into the woods before transforming once more into a raven and flying back to the castle.
    “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” the Grimhelde inquired of her colleague once more.
    “Well, certainly not you, you old hag.” The mirror emitted an evil laugh that could be heard throughout the realm.
    “Whaddya mean, old hag, you faithless demon?”
    Grimhelde paused and peered more closely into the mirror. A toothless, haggard line face framed by wispy grey hair stared back at her.
    The wicked queen screamed and screamed and screamed. What had happened to her beautiful countenance?
    Like a thunderbolt it struck her. Somehow, her much vaunted magic powers had gone haywire and she was somehow stuck in “old hag” mode – perhaps forever.
    “My God,” she cried as the realisation took hold and, emitting a strangled cry, fainted right away.

  2. If you are referring to St Kevin, wouldn’t think so. He reputedly was born in 498 and died in 618 – go figure – and the junior school Glendalough (or Two Lakes) is named after the monastery he established in Ireland. St Kevin (the name means “of noble birth”) has a strong connection to the Christian Brothers also established in Ireland and famous for their teaching role within the Catholic Church. Have to say both David and John benefited from their time there and no doubt it has been instrumental in the career paths each chose.

  3. Interesting that you picked St Kevin to talk about in your story. Boys went right through St Kevin’s College here in Melbourne from year three to year twelve 😀

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