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The Fox and the Goat

Once upon a time in the forest of Pushpavan lived a fox.  The fox lived alone and never mingled with the other animals of the forest.  He spent the days hunting small animals like hares, mice and even small birds. 

Nandu was a goat who lived in the forest.  He was part of a herd which lived in the forest.  The herd would graze the sweet grass which grew in the forest floor.  The fox would sometimes talk to Nandu.    They were friends, though not close.

One day when the fox was roaming in the forest, it caught a scent of food.  He had not eaten for nearly two days.  He looked a few yards ahead and found a flock of birds grazing in the grass in front of it.  But the birds were just a few yards away.  Any noise could alert them and would deprive him of a much needed meal. 

As he walked on tiptoe, he did not notice an open pit in his path.  Before he knew what was going on, he tumbled and fell down into it.  For a moment, he did not realise what had happened.  He was badly hurt.  The pit was over six feet deep.  It had a narrow opening at the top.  Fortunately for the fox, the pit was dry. 

It was dark.  The fox tried to jump out of the pit but to no avail.  The pit was too deep for him.  He tried many times.  But he could only get close to the opening.   Finally he gave up in frustration. 
The night was long and the fox was hungry.  He had lost his meal and worse, was now in a pit.  He could only wait.  Every now and then he let out a pitiful howl for help.  But there were few animals that prowled in the night.  And even those night animals who heard the how did not bother to find out where it came from.  They were too engaged in their own feeding.

Soon, it was dawn.  The first rays of the sun had begun to awaken the forest and its inhabitants. 
As for Nandu, he had lain down with herd beneath a tree for the night.  He, like all other goats, moved with the herd.  It was safer that way.  Early in the morning, as soon as the first light appeared the herd started on its daily routine.  As usual, they went to that part of the forest where the grass grew.  Nandu too went along with them.  It so happened that the pit into which the fox had fallen was in the path of the herd. 

The herd of goats was now moving towards their usual pasture.  Nandu too was part of the herd.  He walked slowly at the rear.  While the herd came near the pit, they heard the howls of the fox.  But they did not bother to go near to investigate.  They were too scared. 
Nandu, however, recognized the voice of the fox.  He slowed to investigate as the herd moved ahead. 

He peered into the pit.  The pit was dark as the faint light of early morning could not reach the bottom.  Nevertheless, he could make out the faint shape of the fox.  He asked the fox what had happened.  The wily fox just wanted a way to escape.  He pretended to be happy.  He said, “It is really nothing.  I just got down inside this pit to spend the night.  It is warm here as compared to my den.”  The fox was puzzled.   The fox continued, “There is grass here as well along with some sweet herbs you may like.  Why don’t you come down?”

The goat felt a bit apprehensive.  He was, however, tempted by the prospects of some fine food.  The goat jumped into the pit beside the fox.  The wily fox now smiled and said, “You are a really foolish animal.  Thanks for your help.”   Saying this, he quickly made a jump upon the goat’s back and, using that as a spring board, jumped out of the pit.  The poor goat realized that he had been cheated. He bleated in alarm.  But his herd had moved on by then and no one was around to help him.   Nandu was in the pit until the evening, when some kind villagers who were passing through the forest, heard Nandu’s cries and pulled him out.

Children, this story tells to be wary of false friends.  In this story, the fox was only interested in his own escape.  He was ready to lead his friend into a trap so that he might be free.  In our daily life, we need to be able to tell a false friend from a true one and while we must help others we should be careful of our own safety. 

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