The Farmer and the Leopard
Before you read the story
- Do you like to help people who are in trouble?
- When you do something special for someone, do you want them to thank you?
- What do you feel when they do not thank you?
Now read the story
One day, two hunters saw a leopard. They began to chase him. The leopard ran away from them, but the hunters were young and strong. They could run very fast.
"The hunters will catch and kill me!" thought the leopard. "What can I do?"
Then, far away, he heard some music. A farmer was ploughing his field and singing this song:
"I plough my field
And I sow my grain
And I watch the clouds
That bring me rain."
The leopard ran up to the farmer.
"Oh, please, please help me!" he said. "The hunters are chasing me. They want to catch me and kill me."
The farmer was sorry for the leopard.
"You can hide in my grain store," he said.
So the leopard jumped into the farmer's grain store. He sat very quietly and listened.
Soon the hunters came up to the farmer.
"Did a leopard come this way?" they asked him.
"Yes," said the farmer, "but he ran away. He went up there, into the mountains."
And he pointed to the mountains far away.
The hunters went away, and the leopard came out of the grain store. He opened his mouth and showed the farmer his long, sharp teeth.
"Bring me a sheep," he said. "I want to eat."
The farmer was surprised.
"No," he said. "I'm not a rich man. I can't give you a sheep."
"Then I will eat you," said the leopard.
The farmer was angry.
"I saved your life," he said. "Why don't you thank me? Why do you want to kill me?"
"I'm hungry," said the leopard. "I must eat."
"Stop! Wait!" said the farmer. "Leopard, please don't kill me. I know you are hungry, and you want to eat, but I'm a happy man, and I want to live. Perhaps you are right, and your wishes are more important than mine. But perhaps I'm right. How can we know? Let's go and find a judge. We will ask the judge to decide."
"All right," the leopard said. "We'll ask your ox."
The farmer's ox was pulling the plough.
The leopard said to him, "Ox, I'm hungry, and I must eat soon or I will die. I want to eat the farmer. What do you think? Am I right, or am I wrong?"
The ox looked at his master.
"I work hard for this man," he thought. "I pull his plough and break up the hard earth for him. But he never thanks me."
Then the ox looked at the leopard.
"This leopard is hungry," he thought. "If he eats the farmer, he will go away. If he doesn't, perhaps he will eat me."
"The leopard is right," he said at last. "Let him eat the farmer."
"Oh no, no!" cried the farmer. "Please, leopard, one judge is not enough. Let's find another."
"All right," the leopard said. "We'll ask your donkey."
The farmer's donkey was standing at the edge of the field. The farmer and the leopard went up to him.
"My old donkey," the farmer said. "I saved this leopard from the hunters. Now he wants to eat me. Is that right, or wrong?"
The donkey looked at the farmer.
"I don't want to save my master," he thought. "He puts heavy loads on my back. He hits me with his big stick. I work for him, and he never thanks me."
Then he looked at the leopard. The leopard's mouth was open. The donkey could see the leopard's big teeth, and his red tongue.
"I don't want the leopard to be angry with me," thought the donkey.
"The leopard is right," the donkey said at last. "He's hungry. He can eat the farmer."
"Oh, no! No!" the farmer cried. "Please, leopard, let's ask one more person. Look, the fox is over there, on the other side of the field. We'll go and ask him."
So the leopard and the farmer went to ask the fox.
"Fox," said the farmer, "please listen to us. Two hunters were chasing the leopard, but I hid him in my grain store. I saved his life. Now he wants to eat me. But I want to live. Is he right, or am I right? Please help us to decide."
The fox thought for a moment, then he looked at the man.
"I don't understand," he said at last. "You are only a man. The leopard is bigger and heavier than you. How did you put that big animal into your grain store?"
"He jumped inside himself," said the farmer.
"I don't believe you," the fox said. "The grain store is small, and the leopard is big. He couldn't get inside it."
"But I did!" the leopard said. "Look, I'll show you."
And the leopard jumped into the farmer's grain store again.
"Quick!" the fox said to the farmer. "The leopard is yours now. Kill him!"
So the farmer killed the leopard at once.
"My friend," the farmer said to the fox. "You saved me. How can I thank you?"
"Do you really want to thank me?" the fox said. "Then you can give me a sheep."
"Wait here," said the farmer, and he went away.
"The fox is greedy," he thought. "If I give him a sheep today, he will come back tomorrow and ask me for another one."
He called his dogs.
"Drive the fox away," he told them.
So the dogs ran after the fox, and drove him away.
The fox shook his head.
"The man is as bad as the leopard," he said to himself. "He is cruel and ungrateful, too."
Exercises for The Farmer and the Leopard
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