Once upon a time there lived a boy and a girl, siblings both, who were poorer than even church mice, so poor that their only roof was the sky over their head and their only sustenance whatever they could forage in the woods.
They spent their days begging passerby to spare them at least a coin or two, and their dirty little faces were so heartbreaking that rare was the person who did not feel pity for them. As a result, the boy and girl were sometimes fortunate enough to receive several gold coins from passerby, which they then used to pay for their supper.
One crisp fall day, the boy and girl were sitting under an apple tree waiting for someone to walk past when all of a sudden they heard a voice.
“Psst! Hey, boy! Hey, girl!”
The boy and girl looked around them, bewildered and wondering where the voice could be coming from. There was no one else around for miles. Presently, they heard the voice again. It said, “Look up, look up!”
They looked up and saw a giant black crow perched on one of the tree’s branches. The girl admired the way the afternoon sun glistened on the crow's feathers. The boy studied the way the crow's eyes darted from left to right, glittering with intelligence or cunning, the boy couldn't tell which. The crow opened its beak and said, “Will you do me a favor?”
"How can we help you?" replied the girl, who was kind of heart.
"It depends," answered the boy, who was suspicious and slow to trust.
"Bring me a loaf of bread."
"I'm afraid we can't help you, crow. We are penniless and have no food even for ourselves. Our apologies." The boy stood and took his sister's hand, turning to leave.
The crow's reedy voice stopped him, "If you bring me a loaf of bread, I will give you something in return."