The Tortoise and the Geese and Other Fables of Bidpai  by Maude Barrows Dutton

The Fox and the Piece of Meat


A hungry fox, who had come out of his hole to hunt, found a piece of fresh meat. As he had not tasted food for several days, he seized it and started home on a trot. On the way he passed by a hen-yard. At the sight of the four fat fowls who were scratching for worms, the Fox's mouth watered. He set down the piece of meat and gazed longingly at the hens. Just then a Jackal passed by.

"Friend Fox," he said, "you seem perplexed. Tell me your trouble, and it may be that I can help you."

"Friend Jackal, you are right," replied the Fox. "I am perplexed. I have here a piece of meat which I am carrying to my hole, but I should like one of these fowls for my second course."

"Take my advice," responded the Jackal, "and let these hens alone. I have long had my eye upon them, but they are watched by a boy named Zirak, and you cannot possibly catch them without being seen. You should be more than content with that fine piece of meat which you are carrying home." And the Jackal went on his way.

Nevertheless, the Fox could not make up his mind to give up the fowls. Finally he laid down his piece of meat, and crept cautiously into the yard. He was just nearing the tail-feathers of the plumpest fowl, when Zirak hurled a stick at his head. Fearing for his life, the Fox sprang over the fence and rushed back to the spot where he had left his piece of meat. But a few moments before, a Kite had passed that way, smelled the meat, and carried it to her nest.