Old Fagin was a sly old bird. In his youth he had been a prince among thieves. But now his eyes were dim, and his back and wings sore. But as I have said, he was sly. Rather than forage for himself, he had collected a group of young birds around him. It was they who took the risks now, and in exchange for his tutelage and “protection,” they supplied his every need.
But how did an old magpie attract such a loyal following? You see, Fagin unlike his fellow magpies did not eat the eggs or kill the young of smaller birds. No, he took them to his perch and there nurtured them. His retinue now consisted of twits, sparrows, and robins – each able to move unobtrusively as they robbed the nests and roosts of others. None would see the coming of the harbinger of their misfortune. I told you he was a sly old bird.