With their oddly tapered beaks, they looked to have sprung from Tengu's bloodline. Fellows, no doubt, of less than stellar repute. Withdrawal would be the prudent course. The greater disgrace of a fall, should I engage them here, was not worth risking. As I was thus concluding, the left-facing crow chimed, "Ho ho fool." The next one followed suit. "Ho ho fool." The final crow took pains to repeat it twice. "Ho ho fool, ho ho fool." Even I, mild-mannered though I am, couldn't let this pass. First of all, this was my yard. To be slighted here by a gaggle of crows would weigh on my good name. Granted I have no name for it to weigh on, but I do have a face, and losing face was equally unappealing. Disorder, they say, disarms a crowd. Three crows together, contrary to expectation, might perhaps prove not so potent. Mustering my resolve, I advanced as I could, with slow and deliberate steps. The crows, paying me no heed, were conversing amongst themselves. My indignation only intensified. Had the fencetop been just a bit wider, I'd have torn them to pieces. Regrettably though, however incensed I might be, I had to gage my steps. I finally neared the lead crow, almost within paw's reach. Just at that moment, as if on cue, Kanzaemon and company flew up in a flurry of beating wings. The resulting rush of air, as it suddenly brushed my face, caused me to lose my footing. I tumbled down, landing with a thump. Righting myself, I looked up from the base of the fence. The three crows, beaks together, were back where they'd been, regarding me from above. Impertinent lot. I sported a scowl, but to no effect. I arched my back and unleashed a growl, to no avail whatesoever. Show the common man an exemplary work of symbolist poetry, and he'll react with a shrug. So it was with these crows. My displays of indignity registered not in the least. I'd been engaging them, up to this point, as I would a fellow cat. That was a mistake.