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Friends in Need - The Tortoise and the Deer

Chintu was a young deer.  He was barely a year old.  His mother had died a few months after he was born.  The herd, he lived in, had moved on.  Alone in the forest, Chintu was vulnerable.  The jungle he lived in, was full of dangerous predators, such as wolves and leopards.  There was not enough food where he stayed.

Chintu carefully made his way across the forest.    As he walked across the forest, he spotted a small lake.  The lake was quiet and beautiful.  He went to the lake and drank of its water.  The cold water revived him, and he felt stronger.  Seeing the tranquil surroundings, he resolved to stay there. 
There were to other animals who lived in the area - a mongoose and a tortoise.  These animals soon became good friends of Chintu.  Chintu was happy to have such good company.

One day, a hunter called Chanduram happened to be searching the forest for animals to hunt.  He had had an unlucky day.  He was not able to catch any animal.  Dejected and thirsty, he searched for some water to drink.  A cool breeze which blew where he was standing told him that there was water nearby. 

Sensing the breeze, he concluded that a lake should be nearby.  He searched around and finally found it. Happy at the discovery, he walked briskly towards it.  He stooped to drink of the clear water.  He drank to his content.  He had a water bottle made of animal skin.  It was almost empty.  He filled it with water. 

He sat on a rock on the shore of the lake.  He was about to leave when the tortoise surfaced from the lake.  Unfortunately, this caught his attention.  He looked intently at the poor creature.  Ignorant of the danger, the tortoise slowly walked out of the lake towards his home. Chanduram was happy that he had managed to find at least this tortoise.  He had hoped to catch bigger animals.  The tortoise will, at least, provide him with food for a couple of days.  Besides, it was a long time since he had eaten tortoise meat.

He stealthily walked towards the tortoise.  Once within range, he pounced on it.  Alarmed, the tortoise resorted to its natural defence – it withdrew into its shell.  But this was of no use for Chanduram picked it up and put it into his bag.  He planned to cut open the poor creature later.
The tortoise was helpless.  Chanduram, the hunter, slung the bag over his shoulder and went about home.  Luckily for the tortoise, Chintu had seen the hunter pick up the tortoise.

Chintu was kind and helpful by nature.  He was shocked on seeing his friend being carried away.  He did not know what to do.  He rushed in search of the mongoose.  But the mongoose was nowhere to be found.  He finally managed to locate him in an area with dense bushes.  He had been chasing some rats.

He narrated the sad tale of the tortoise. The two friends followed the hunter.  They could not confront him.  The hunter was a strong man.  He carried a bow and arrow.  He also had a sharp axe slung across his chest.  Chintu, the deer, thought quickly.  He had an idea.  He whispered something in the ear of the mongoose. 

Chintu managed to overtake the hunter by a small path through some trees.  He reached the road ahead of the hunter.  There he lay on the ground pretending to sleep.  Chanduram saw the deer a few yards ahead of him.  He was happy.  He had been hunting for a large animal.  He could manage only to catch a tortoise after so long.  “The deer would be a good prize”, he thought. 
He dropped the bag containing the tortoise.  Grasping his axe, he ran ahead towards the sleeping deer.  As soon as he dropped the bag, the mongoose cut the bag open with his sharp teeth and released the tortoise.  The tortoise quickly crawled into a dense bush nearby.  The mongoose too slipped away.

Chintu was seeing this.  As the hunter came near him.  He jumped back to his feet and disappeared into the forest.  The hunter was shocked and dismayed.  He had lost his prey again.  He turned back to the bag containing the tortoise.  Imagine his surprise when he saw the bag cut open and the tortoise missing.

Chanduram was dejected.  He had lost even the small catch he had.  He slowly walked back to his village.  Chintu met the mongoose and tortoise a short while later.  The three friends were relieved at the happy outcome.  The tortoise thanked Chintu for saving his life by his quick thinking. 
Children, this story teaches us the importance of friends in life.  It also tells us how quick thinking can help in the face of danger.

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