Never Be Deceitful
The Fox With The Short Tail
Reynard lost his tail in a trap. Now a fox is proud of two things—his cunning and his tail. He had allowed himself to be trapped. This showed his lack of cunning, and he had lost his tail.
He was so ashamed of himself that he could not bear to meet another fox. He slunk off to his den and came out only when driven by hunger. When out hunting, he kept out of the way of all his neighbors. He did not mean that any of them should know of his bad luck.
At last he grew tired of living by himself. He wanted to gossip with his friends.
He wondered whether old Rufus was still running on top of the great meadow fence to throw the hounds off the track.
He longed to hear of the latest tricks of Fleetfoot's cubs. They were three of the brightest little foxes that ever lived. He wished that he could see them at their play.
He wished to know if the men were still cutting down trees near White-ear's den. If this went on, White-ear would have to find a new home. It would be hard for her after living in that beautiful spot so long.
If he were to hear the news at all, he must meet his comrades. "How can I bear to listen to their laugh!" he moaned.
He had not lost all of his cunning, as you will see. He lay for a long time with his head between his paws. His eyes were wide open, but he was not watching for game. He was thinking.
After a while he jumped up. He said to himself:
"I shall invite all of my friends to come to my home tomorrow evening. I shall tell them when they reach here that I can not get up to meet them for I have been very sick. They will all gather about me here. I shall sit upon my haunches so that no one will ever find out that my tail is missing. As they are to be my guests, I must be the spokesman. My friends have always thought me to be a very fine speaker. Many times my advice has been asked. I have given it, and it paid my friends to follow it. The thing which I shall advise tomorrow will surprise them, but I feel sure that I can get my friends to follow it. I will set to work now preparing for the feast."
Early the next evening Reynard gave a series of strange barks. This was an invitation to his home. The foxes came from every direction and met at the foot of an old oak.
Reynard's den was under this oak. He sat upon his haunches near the door to welcome his guests as they came, but he did not move.
"You all know, friends, why I do not rise to welcome you," he said. "I have been very sick, and if I move about it gives me a very bad headache."
Reynard asked his friends, who were standing around him, what they had been doing for the last week or so. They told many interesting stories of how they had escaped from traps and dogs and men.
A pile of chickens, turkeys, and ducks lay in sight not far away. As they talked, their eyes often wandered to these.
It grew late. The company became a little restless. At last Reynard said:
"Now, friends, before we take our evening meal, I have something to say for the good of all of us.
"I have been lying awake nights thinking what we could do to free ourselves from the weight of our heavy tails. Spring is here with its rainy weather. You all know how wet and muddy our tails become. Often I have had to give up a first-class meal and trot off home, hungry, to stay until my tail had dried. You have had to do the same. Many a poor fox has lost his life because of his long tail.
"Now, what do you say to having our tails cut off? Think what free lives we shall then lead. I will cut them off if you wish. The cutting will be almost painless, I am sure. Now let us have them off in a hurry before supper. After our feast, we shall have a great dance."
His visitors were silent for a moment. Some nodded their heads, showing that they were ready to part with their tails.
The oldest and wisest fox in the crowd had been looking at Reynard very closely. He was the only one of all that crowd to miss Reynard's tail. At last he spoke slowly:
"Your advice may be good, but before I reply, pray turn yourself around."
Poor Reynard saw that he was found out. He dared not refuse to do as he was told, so he turned about.
What a shout the foxes gave! Poor bobtail could not say a word. The foxes seized the turkeys, ducks, and chickens, and ran off home with their long tails behind them, and poor Reynard was never again seen by any of them.
Aren’t all the old fairy tales and fables a lot of fun? You can sure learn a few lessons by heeding these old tales. Have you thought of staging a play using these old fables? Never staged a play before? Oh my, it’s so much fun. Kids absolutely love a play. And it’s easy. You don’t need a formal stage. Some of the best fun has been with a sheet hung on a clothesline and a bunch of eager kids.
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