THE FARMER AND THE FOX

By Ramaswami Raju

A FARMER was returning from a fair which he had attended the previous day at a neighboring market town. He had a quantity of poultry which he had purchased. A Fox observed this, and approaching the Farmer, said, "Good morning, my friend."

"What cheer, old fellow?" said the Farmer.

"I am just coming from the wood, through which you mean to go with your poultry. A band of highwaymen has been tarrying there since daybreak."

"Then what shall I do?" said the Farmer.

"Why," said the Fox, "if I were you I should stay here a while, and after breakfast enter the wood, for by that time the robbers will have left the place."

"So be it," said the Farmer, and had a hearty breakfast, with Reynard for his guest.

They kept drinking for a long time. Reynard appeared to have lost his wits; he stood up and played the drunkard to perfection. The Farmer, who highly admired the pranks of his guest, roared with laughter, and gradually fell into a deep slumber. It was some time after noon when he awoke. To his dismay he found that the Fox was gone, and that the poultry had all disappeared!

"Alas!" said the Farmer, as he trudged on his way home with a heavy heart, "I thought the old rogue was quite drowned in liquor, but I now see it was all a pretense. One must indeed be very sober to play the drunkard to perfection."