One day while a lion was eating his dinner a bone stuck in his throat. It hurt so that he could not finish his dinner. He walked up and down, up and down, roaring with pain.
A woodpecker lit on a branch of a tree near-by, and hearing the lion, she said, "Buddy, what ails you?"
The lion told the woodpecker what the matter was, and the woodpecker said: "I would take the bone out of your throat, buddy, but I don't dare to put my head into your mouth, for fear I might never get it out again. I'm afraid you might eat me."
"Woodpecker, don't be so afraid," the lion said. "I will not eat you. Save my life if you can!"
"I will see what I can do for you," said the woodpecker. "Open your mouth wide." The lion did as he was told, but the woodpecker said to himself. "Who knows what this lion will do? I think I will be careful."
So the woodpecker put a stick between the lion's upper and lower jaws so that he could not shut his mouth.
Then the woodpecker hopped into the lion's mouth and hit the end of the bone with
his beak. The second time he hit it, the bone fell out.
At once the lion felt very much better, but not one word of thanks did he say to the woodpecker.
One day later in the summer, the woodpecker said to the lion, "I want you to do something for me."
"Do something for you?" said the lion. "You mean you want me to do something more for you. I have already done a great deal for you. You cannot expect me to do anything more for you. Don't forget that once I had you in my mouth, and I let you go. That is all that you can ever expect me to do for you."
The woodpecker said no more, but he kept away from the lion from that day on.
Somewhere, sometime, there was a beautiful meadow that was the home of many wild animals. They would have lived very happily there had it not been for one mischief-loving lion. Every day this lion wandered about, killing many helpless creatures for the mere sport of the slaying. To put an end to this, the animals gathered in a body, and going to the lion, spoke to him like this:
"Mister Lion, we are proud to have such a brave and valiant beast to rule over us. But we don't think that it is fitting for one of your rank to hunt for his own food. We therefore wait on you with this request: Stay quietly at home from now on, and we your subjects will bring to your lair such food as it is fitting a king."
The lion, who was greatly flattered, at once accepted their offer. Thus every day the animals drew lots to decide who among their number should offer himself for the lion's daily portion. In due time it came about that the lot fell on the hare. Now the hare, when he learned that it was his turn to die, complained bitterly.
"Don't you see that we are still tormented by that lion?" he asked the other animals. "Only leave it to me, and I will release you for all time from his tyranny. "
The other animals were only too glad at these words, and told the hare to go his way. The hare hid for some time in the bushes, and then hurried to the lion's lair. By this time the lion was as angry as he was hungry. He was snarling, and lashing his yellow tail on the ground. When he saw the hare, he called out loudly,-
"Who are you, and what are my subjects doing? I have had no morsel of food today!"
The hare besought him to calm his anger and listen to him.
"The lot fell today," he began, "on another hare and myself. In good season we were on our way here to offer ourselves for your dinner, when a lion sprang out of the bushes and seized my companion. In vain I cried to him that we were destined for the king's table, and, moreover, that no one was permitted to hunt in these royal woods except your Majesty. He paid no heed to my words save to retort,-'You don't know what you are saying. I'm the only king here. That other lion, to whom you all bow down, is a usurper.' Dumb with fright, I jumped into the nearest bush."
The lion grew more and more indignant as he listened to the hare's tale.
"If I could once find that lion," he roared, "I would soon teach him who is king of these woods."
"If your Majesty will trust me," answered the hare, humbly, "I can take you to his hiding-place."
So the hare and the lion went out together. They crossed the woods and the meadow, and came to an ancient well, which was full of clear, deep water.
"Over there is the home of your enemy," whispered the hare, pointing to the well. "If you go near enough, you can see him. But," he added, "perhaps you had better wait till he comes out before you attack him."
These words only made the lion more indignant. "He shall not live a moment after I have laid eyes on him," he growled.
So the hare and the lion approached stealthily to the well. As they bent over the edge and looked down into the clear water, they saw themselves reflected there. The lion, thinking that it was the other lion with the other hare, leaped into the well, never to come out again.
A fox, who was out in search of food, discovered a hen scratching for worms at the foot of a tree. He hid himself in a bush near by, and was about to spring out and seize her, when a strange tapping sound fell on his ears; for in that same tree there was a drum, and when the wind blew, the branches beat against it.
Now the fox was exceedingly hungry, and reasoned thus:
"A noise as loud as that must be made by a fowl much larger than this Hen. I will, therefore, let her go, and will bring down that larger bird for my supper."
Without further thought he rushed out of the bush with a noise that put the Hen to flight, and, after many vain efforts, scrambled up the tree. High among the leaves he found the drum, and fell on it tooth and claw. He soon had it open, only to see that it was filled with nothing more or less than empty air.
The fox hung his tail. "What a stupid wretch I am!" he groaned. "Because of my own greediness, I must now go supperless to bed."
Once on a time a deer lived in a forest near a lake. Not far from the same lake, a woodpecker had a nest in the top of a tree; and in the lake lived a turtle. The three were friends, and lived together happily.
A hunter, wandering about in the wood, saw the foot-prints of the deer near the edge of the lake. "I must trap the deer, going down into the water," he said, and setting a strong trap of leather, he went his way.
Early that night when the deer went down to drink, he was caught in the trap, and he cried the cry of capture.
At once the woodpecker flew down from her tree-top, and the turtle came out of the water to see what could be done.
Said the woodpecker to the turtle: "Buddy, you have teeth; you gnaw through the leather trap. I will go and see to it that the hunter keeps away. If we both do our best our friend will not lose his life."
So the turtle began to gnaw the leather, and the woodpecker flew to the hunter's house.
At dawn the hunter came, knife in hand, to the front door of his house.
The woodpecker, flapping her wings, flew at the hunter and struck him in the face.
The hunter turned back into the house and lay down for a little while. Then he rose up again, and took his knife. He said to himself: "When I went out by the front door, a Bird flew in my face; now I will go out by the back door." So he did.
The woodpecker thought: "The hunter went out by the front door before, so now he will leave by the back door." So the woodpecker sat in a tree near the back door.
When the hunter came out the bird flew at him again, flapping her wings in the hunter's face. Then the hunter turned back and lay down again. When the sun arose, he took his knife, and started out once more.
This time the woodpecker flew back as fast as she could fly to her friends, crying, "Here comes the hunter!"
By this time the turtle had gnawed through all the pieces of the trap but one. The leather was so hard that it made his teeth feel as if they would fall out. His mouth was all covered with blood. The deer heard the woodpecker, and saw the hunter, knife in hand, coming on. With a strong pull the deer broke this last piece of the trap, and ran into the woods.
The woodpecker flew up to her nest in the tree-top.
But the turtle was so weak he could not get away. He lay where he was. The hunter picked him up and threw him into a bag, tying it to a tree.
The deer saw that the turtle was taken, and made up his mind to save his friend's life. So the deer let the hunter see him.
The hunter seized his knife and started after the deer. The deer, keeping just out of his reach, led the hunter into the forest.
When the deer saw that they had gone far into the forest he slipped away from the hunter, and swift as the wind, he went by another way to where he had left the turtle.
But the turtle was not there. The deer called, "Turtle, turtle!" and the turtle called out, "Here I am in a bag hanging on this tree."
Then the deer lifted the bag with his horns, and throwing it on the ground, he tore the bag open, and let the turtle out.
The woodpecker flew down from her nest, and the deer said to them: "You two friends saved my life, but if we stay here talking, the hunter will find us, and we may not get away. So do you, friend woodpecker, fly away. And you, friend turtle, dive into the water. I will hide in the forest."
The hunter did come back, but neither the deer, nor the turtle, nor the woodpecker was to be seen. He found his torn bag, and picking that up he went back to his home.
The three friends lived together all the rest of their lives.