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 The Fox and the Grapes


Once upon a time . . . in a wood there lived a very crafty quick-witted
fox. The rabbits, rats, the birds and all the other creatures fled at the
sight of him, for they all knew how cruel and famished he was. And since his
prey kept fearfully out of sight, the fox had no choice but to haunt the
neighbourhood buildings in the hope of finding something to eat. The first
time, he was in luck. Near a lonely peasant's cottage, only a low fence stood
between him and the hen run, and there he left death and destruction behind
"What careless men, leaving such tender fat hens unguarded," he said to
himself as he trotted away, still munching.
A few days later, hungry once more, he decided to visit the same hen run
again. He crept up to the fence. A thread of smoke curled from the cottage
chimney, but all was quiet. With a great bound, he leapt into the hen run. The
cackling hens scattered, and the fox was already clutching one in his jaws
when a stone hit him on the side.
"Wicked brute!" yelled a man waving a stick. "Now I've got you!"
To make matters worse, up raced a large dog, snarling viciously. The fox
dropped the hen and tried to jump out of the hen run. At the first try, he
fell back, perhaps weak with fright. He could almost feel the dog's fangs sink
into his ear, but with a desperate jump, he got over the fence. The yells and
stones streamed after the bruised fox as he ran into the wood. In a nearby
glade, he glanced round to make sure that he was not being followed. "Bad
luck!" he said to himself. "All those hens . . ." His mouth was watering and
he could feel gnawing hunger pains. Right above his head stretched a vine,
laden with bunches of big ripe grapes. "Well, if there's nothing else . . ."
muttered the fox, jumping up towards the grapes. But the bunches were hanging
just beyond his reach. The fox then took a running jump at them, but without
success. And though he tried over and over again, the grapes remained beyond
his grasp.
"Craw! Craw! Craw!" laughed a crow overhead, mocking the disappointed fox.
"Sour grapes!" exclaimed the fox loudly. I'11 come back when they're ripe."
And thrusting out his chest to give himself airs, though still smarting from
the blows he had received, he set off towards the woods with an empty stomach.

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