Philip’s Fables

Posted by on Feb 20, 2002 in Children's Stories

Now all you young warriors and maidens, come listen to the story of the ancient one. It is about hanging on to what is yours.

Once there was a very smart owl who, after hunting all night found a wonderfully large and juicy snake. He sat upon the branch pecking away when a raven flew by.

“Aw Mr. Owl, what a wonderful snake. I am sure you are enjoying it.”

“Go away Raven. I know you are a trickster. You won’t get my meal.”

“Awww dear Owl, you are so perceptive. How could I trick you? But look, right above you is the mother of that snake. She wants revenge.”

“You can’t fool me Raven,” the owl said as he lowered his head to have another peck. Just then, the raven dropped a stone on his head.

“Oh!” said the owl. “What was that?”

“It was the first strike of the big snake hanging above you.”

“Oh don’t be silly,” said the owl. But he couldn’t help wonder if the raven might be right. So he took a quick look and in that instant it was gone. The raven had his snake.

Now the raven sat upon a branch pecking away at this delightful meal and the fox came by.

“Aw Mr. Raven, I see you have a good meal. I know you don’t want to share it even though poor old Fox is so hungry. I have been hunting all night and have caught nothing.”

“Go away Fox, I won’t share my meal and you cannot fool me into letting it go.”

“Of course not Raven,” said the fox. “I know you are a smart bird and you could see through anything that I tried to do. But you’re not only a smart raven, you are a very good looking raven. I can see by the sheen on your wonderfully black feathers, that you have been preening yourself. You look very fine I must say. I found this mirror. Here have a look.” Well the raven might have been smart, but he was also vain. He took a quick look in the mirror that the fox had held up and in that instant, gone was the snake.

Now the fox sat on a small hill and peered all around and when the coast was clear he began his meal. There came by a hyena.

“Ha, ha, ha Mr. Fox, I see you have a good meal.”

“Yes, leave me alone Hyena.”

“Oh Mr. Fox, I wouldn’t bother you when you are eating such a fine meal. No, I’ll just sit here and watch you. But while you are enjoying yourself, let me tell you a joke, ha, ha, ha.”

Now hyenas always laugh at their own jokes. Not everybody else will of course. But in fact he did have a good joke. So he told the joke to the fox as the fox chewed on the snake. The fox pretended not to listen, but he began to snicker and then to snort and then to giggle and soon he couldn’t help but he was rolling down the little hill laughing so hard that he forgot the snake which the hyena took.

Now the hyena is a suspicious and cunning creature so he hid himself well before he began his meal of snake, but the leopard saw him.

“Hello Mr. Hyena, nice snake you have there.”

“Growl,” said the hyena. He wasn’t thinking of jokes now because leopards are frightening. The leopard also knew that hyenas have very strong jaws and he didn’t want to get into a fight with this particular hyena who was well known for his savagery.

“Now Mr. Hyena,” said the leopard coolly. “You have very good eyes, but I wonder if you have ever seen a leopard just disappear into the air?”

“Go away Leopard, I am not even watching.” But the thought of an animal just vanishing into thin air intrigued him so he watched the leopard who took a step into the bush and, sure enough, he just disappeared.

“Where are you Leopard,” said the hyena suspiciously?

“I’m over here” came a voice from a different direction. Hyena couldn’t seem him.

“Where are you now?”

“I’m over here,” said the leopard coolly and he kept moving and confusing the poor hyena and indeed, it sounded like his voice was coming out of thin air.

While the hyena was concentrating on one particular piece of bush where he thought the leopard was, the leopard snuck up on him from behind. Then he let out the most blood curdling scream six inches behind Hyena’s head and the hyena left so hurriedly, he left the snake.

Now the leopard of all creatures is supple and so he climbed a high tree to enjoy his snake, but while he was there the King of the Beasts came by. “Aw Mr. Leopard, I see you are having a fine meal. No, don’t worry I won’t bother you. I don’t particularly like snake, besides which I have a banquet later this evening. However, I wonder if you have ever seen royal magic?”

“Go away your Majesty. I am not interested in royal magic, besides I don’t believe in magic.”

“Well,” said the King of the Beasts. “What if I could make that tree you are sitting on so comfortably, catch fire?”

“That would be magic indeed,” said the leopard. “But you can’t do that.”

“Well I might if I chose to,” said the lion. Now he was looking past the leopard at a large thundercloud coming down the valley and he was timing it very carefully. A little later on he said, “Now Mr. Leopard, I think I will make magic.”

“All right, give it a try,” said the cynical old leopard. And with that the lion held up his paw and shouted,

“Strike the tree with fire from heaven.” Just then, a lightning bolt struck the tree and it burst into flame. The leopard sprang off in such a rush he left the snake to the lion.

Now the King of the Beasts was not going to be disturbed and after all he did like the snake. However, another animal, the most dangerous of all animals had just emerged from the jungle. The lion looked at him coolly, “What do you want man,” he said?

“Nothing,” said the man. “I was just hunting. “I won’t disturb you and you should not disturb me.”

“Man, let us wager or fight for this meal.”

“I’m not interested in this snake, but if you believe we should fight, I can do that.”

Now, the lion knew that man was a fearsome adversary. He had seen many of his kind die at the hands of this small, smart and lively creature. So he summoned all his subjects with a mighty roar. From all around came the trumpeting of elephants and the raging of beasts as all the animals gathered around. What a formidable army that was.

“Where is your army man?”

“Oh I have an army,” said the man. He whistled and out of the woods came a little boy.

“That’s your army?”

“Well, that’s all I need,” said the man.

“Now,” said the lion. “We shall go to war.”

“Not so fast,” said the man. “I have a secret that you might be interested in. In fact it is a royal secret and no King of the Jungle should be without this knowledge.”

“Then give it to me man,” said the lion, “or I shall bite your head off.”

“Think again lion. If you bite my head off you will never know the secret.”

And the lion sat down quite bewildered because, in fact, he didn’t know how he could get the secret out of man. He knew biting his head off certainly would not help. So he called the leopard and said, “Leopard, I will give you back the snake if you can tell me how to get the secret out of the man.”

Well the leopard thought, “Scare him.”

So the lion roared and the man looked a little intimidated, but he didn’t step backwards and he said, “No Lion, none of your roaring will make me tell you the secret.”

So the leopard called upon the hyena and said, “I don’t like you Hyena, but if you can tell me how to get the secret out of the man, I will give you back your snake.”

“Certainly,” said the hyena and he showed his most ugly face and laughed and laughed and laughed. Well, the man was totally unimpressed and he would not give up the secret so they hyena then called upon the fox.

“Oh Mr. Fox you can have your snake. I am sorry I took it. But first tell me, how do we get the secret out of the man?”

“Well,” said the fox in a silky, smooth voice, “I think we can bargain. Your life for the secret. The secret or your life.”

“Well now, that’s foolish said the man. “If you take my life there is no secret. The secret will die with me. Besides which, while you are trying to kill me my son will run like lightning and he also knows the secret.”

“Oh,” said the fox. So he called upon the raven.

“Aw, master Raven, here is your snake. Tell me how we can get the secret out of man.”

“Well,” said the raven, “I think we ought to√Čand he couldn’t finish the sentence because he couldn’t think of what to do. So he called upon the owl and said, “Mr. Owl, here is your rightful meal. Tell me wise one, how do we get the secret from the man?”

“Oh,” said the owl. “No problem at all, but let me first put my snake where I know no one can get it.” Then he flew high into the sun. From that vantage he dropped the snake and it landed right on the man. The man had never had a snake drop at him from the air and he was quite startled. Nothing else would have made him shout.

“Run”. And of course he ran and so did his boy, as fast as they could go. And all the animals of course ran after him.

Now that would have been the end of the story except right then a taxi came by. The man hailed the taxi and they all drove safely away.

Now the moral of the story is obvious to you wise ones, but to those who are less perspicacious, you should see that you must never let vanity, nor trickery, nor magic, nor threats deprive you of what is rightfully yours, your wisdom.