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 The Hole that was Too Narrow


Once upon a time. . . a goat was so greedy that he would eat anything that
came his way. But he was punished for his greed. He found some old stale eggs
in a barn and, as usual, gobbled the lot. However, he soon started to feel
agonizing pains in his tummy, his eyes grew dim and he broke out in a cold
sweat. For days, he lay between life and death, then the fever dropped. The
first time he dared climb a tree to rob a nest, thin and weak with his
trousers dangling over an empty stomach, he became dizzy and fell. That is how
he twisted his ankle. Sick with hunger, he limped about in search of food, but
that made him feel even hungrier than before. Then good luck came his way.
Although wary of venturing too close to human habitations, he was so hungry he
went up to a tavern on the outskirts of the village. The air was full of
lovely smells and the poor goat felt his mouth watering as he pictured all
the nice things inside. An inviting smell coming from a crack in the wall
seemed to be stronger than the others. Thrusting his nose into the crack, he
was greeted by a waft of delicious scents. The goat frantically clawed at the
crack with his paws and teeth, trying to widen it. Slowly the plaster between
the blocks of rubble began to crumble, till all he had to do was move a stone.
Shoving with all his might, the goat made a hole. And then a really wonderful
sight met his gaze. He was inside the pantry, where hams, salamis, cheeses,
honey, jam and nuts were stored. Overwhelmed by it all, the goat could not
make up his mind what to taste first. He jumped from one thing to another,
munching all the time, till his tummy was full. Satisfied at last, he fell
asleep. Then he woke again, had another feast and went back to sleep. With all
this food, his strength returned, and next day, the goat was strong enough to
climb up to the topmost shelves and select the tastiest delicacies. By this
time, he was just having a nibble here and a nibble there. But he never
stopped eating: he went on and on and on. By now, he was very full indeed, as
he chattered to himself: "Salami for starters . . . no, the ham's better! Some
soft cheese and a spot of mature cheese as well . . . I think I'll have a
pickled sausage too . . ."
In only a few days, the goat had become very fat and his trouser button
had popped off over a bulging tummy. But of course, the goat's fantastic luck
could not last for ever.
One afternoon, the goat froze in mid-munch at the creak of a door. Heavy
footsteps thumped down the stairs, and the goat looked helplessly round. Fear
of discovery sent him hunting for a way to escape. He ran towards the hole in
the wall through which he had come. But though his head and shoulders entered
the hole, his tummy, which had grown much larger since the day he had come in,
simply would not pass. The goat was in a dangerous position: he was stuck!
Two thick hands grabbed him by the tail.
"You horrid little robber! So you thought you'd get away, did you? I'll
soon deal with you!"
Strange though it may sound, the only thought in the greedy goat's head
was a longing to be starving of hunger again . . .

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