Gateway to the Classics: Indian Fables by Ramaswami Raju
Indian Fables by  Ramaswami Raju

The Fox in the Well

A fox fell into a well, and was holding hard to some roots at the side of it, just above the water. A wolf who was passing by saw him, and said, "Hollo, Reynard, after all you have fallen into a well!"

"But not without a purpose, and not without the means of getting out of it," said the fox.

"What do you mean?" said the wolf.


The Fox in the Well

"Why," said the fox, "there is a drought all over the country now, and the water in this well is the only means of appeasing the thirst of the thousands that live in this neighbourhood. They held a meeting, and requested me to keep the water from going down lower; so I am holding it up for the public good."

"What will be your reward?" said the wolf.

"They will give me a pension, and save me the trouble of going about every day in quest of food, not to speak of innumerable other privileges that will be granted me. Further, I am not to stay here all day. I have asked a kinsman of mine, to whom I have communicated the secret of holding up the water, to relieve me from time to time. Of course he will also get a pension, and have other privileges. I expect him here shortly."

"Ah, Reynard, may I relieve you, then? May I hope to get a pension, and other privileges? You know what a sad lot is mine, especially in winter."

"Certainly," said the fox; "but you must get a long rope, that I may come up and let you in."

So the wolf got a rope. Up came the fox, and down went the wolf, when the former observed, with a laugh, "My dear sir, you may remain there till doomsday, or till the owner of the well throws up your carcass," and left the place.

"Alas!" said the wolf, when it was too late, "greed hath its meed!"

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