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The Cranes, the Turtle and the Mongoose

Once upon a time, there lived a pair of cranes in a forest.  The forest was huge and filled with tall trees.  The trees were so tall and so close together that the branches formed a large covering over the forest through which even light could not penetrate.  

The cranes built their nest on top of a tall tree in the forest.      It was among the tallest of trees.  The cranes had few enemies.  Few animals could reach so high in the trees.   A few days the female crane laid a clutch of eggs.  In a few days, the eggs hatched.  Out of the eggs came little chick, small and helpless.  

In the forest was a large pond.  The animals of the forest came there to drink.  The pond also contained numerous fishes.  The cranes would fish in the pond every day.  They would stand motionless on one leg.  They would wait patiently for many hours.  If any fish cam close enough.  The crane would dart its head forward and snap up the fish with its sharp beak.  They would swallow the fish and keep it inside their throat.  

They would then fly to their nest and bring the food back to their mouth and then they would feed their chicks.  The chicks grew fast and they looked beautiful in their first feathers.  The cranes were happy as they looked at their chicks.  

In the forest floor lived a snake.  Many years ago, the snake had found a hole at the base of the tree where the cranes were raising their chicks.  It had moved into the hole and was living there.  The cranes were not aware of the danger below them.  

Every day, the snake would leave its hole.  Creeping stealthily on the forest floor, it would hunt small animals such as frogs and rats.  The snake had a very strong venom in its fangs.  One bite could kill a big animal.  One day as it was going about the forest in search of its meal, it heard chirping sounds from the trees above.  It was curious.  It climbed the tree slowly.  The chirpings got louder as it climbed higher in the tree. The sounds were made by the crane chicks.  

The snake climbed slowly near the branch where the nest was built.  The innocent chicks were unaware and helpless.  The cranes were away.  The snake killed the chicks and ate them.  It then slithered down the tree back into its hole.  When the cranes came they were shocked at what had happened.  Their nest was broken and their babies were gone.  They were sorrowful for many weeks.  One day the female crane was fishing in a pond.  A turtle in the pond was watching the crane.  The crane appeared to be sad.  It was unable to catch any fish as it was thinking of its loss.  The turtle came near the crane and asked him the reason for his sorrowful appearance

“What is your problem?” the turtle asked the crane.  The crane told the turtle his sorrowful story and how he had lost his babies.  The turtle was a clever creature.  He listened to the crane’s story.    He felt bad for the crane.  He looked at the crane and said “The snake is afraid of only one animal.  Only one animal is strong enough to attack the snake.  It is the mongoose.  The poison of the snake has no effect on the mongoose.”  The crane listened carefully to the turtle.  He wanted to take revenge on the snake.  “But how will I get the mongoose to attack the snake?” asked the crane.

“I have a plan”, said the clever turtle “Just take some fish which you catch and drop them in a line from the den of the mongoose near the river to the hole of the snake in the forest.  The mongoose will eat the fish one by one and slowly walk towards the snake’s hole”.  The idea seemed good to the crane.  He could now get rid of the snake.

He discussed the plan with his wife.  She too thought the plan was good.  The next day, the cranes caught more fish than usual.  They needed the fish for their plan.  They carefully laid the fish in a line stretching from the den of the mongoose to the hole of the snake.  They, then, perched on a tree near the mongoose’s den and watched what would happen.  

From his den, the mongoose could smell the fish outside.  He was surprised to see fish lying around his den.  “I am lucky”, he thought “I don’t have to go out hunting today”.    He started eating the fish one by one.    Without realising, he was slowly walking into the forest eating the fish one by one.  He finally came to the last fish which was placed very close to the snake’s hole.

The mongoose was busy eating the fish.  He felt very happy and having found such an easy meal.  As he came closer to the hole, he could smell the snake.  The mongoose and the snake are enemies.  The mongoose will always fight with the snake.  It  is not affected by the snake’s venom.

The snake came out of its hole.  When he came out he was shocked to see a mongoose.  The mongoose pounced upon the snake.  The snake managed to dodge the mongoose and tried to escape.  It even bit the mongoose with its sharp fangs.  But the venom had no effect.  The mongoose jumped on the snake and grabbed it in its sharp teeth and gave it a sharp bite.  The snake was dead.

The cranes were joyous at the death of the snake.  They could now live in peace.  They thanked the turtle for his clever idea.  The cranes built their nest again in the tree and raised many chicks and lived happily.

Children, this story teaches us that even the strongest enemy can be defeated by a clever idea.

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