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MARTIN
 
a Romanian Folk Tale Collected and Rewritten by Phillip Martin
 

Once is never enough. At least, that is what Fox thought about visiting the hen house. And, everyone knew he really didn't "visit" the chickens at the house. He was after his next meal.

As Fox slinked around the barnyard fence, it was Hedgehog who first noticed him. "My goodness, Fox! What are you up to this time?"

"Not so loud, Hedgehog!" hissed the fox. "I'm about to feast."

"At the hen house? You can't just go in there."

"Just you watch and see, Hedgehog," whispered Fox. "Come along with me and you'll have all you can eat. And the best news is there will be plenty around for the next time."

Now Hedgehog was no fool. "You better be careful, Fox," he warned. "Those humans who own the hen house will never let you get away with this."

"I'm so much smarter than humans! I'm not going to miss a meal because of them!" snapped the fox. "Now, are you going to join me or not?"

Against his better judgement, Hedgehog followed Fox into the barn yard.

Now, the people who owned the hen house were not as foolish as Fox thought. This time they were prepared for his visit. They dug a deep pit in front of the hen house and carefully hid the top. The trap was set. Hedgehog and Fox didn't see it until they tumbled deep inside the hole.

As Hedgehog pulled himself out from underneath Fox, he had to say it. "I told you so! Didn't I warn you that the people would be ready for you?"

"It's too late to talk about warnings," snapped the fox. "We're stuck in the bottom of this hole. How are we going to get out of it?"

"But you're the one who is always so smart! Come on, Fox. You don't expect a mere hedgehog to figure this out, do you?"

"You're no mere hedgehog," answered Fox. "You're one smart animal! Now, help me think."

"No, I don't think I can do that, " replied Hedgehog. "Between the fall, and YOU falling on top of me, I'm feeling a little sick. No, I'm feeling a lot sick. Watch out!"

"You can't be sick! Not in this hole!" cried the fox. "There's just not enough room for that! No, that's more than I can stand." And immediately, Fox grabbed the Hedgehog with his mouth, quickly snapped his head, and sent the Hedgehog flying out of the hole.

"Safely out of the trap, the hedgehog looked over the edge and down at Fox. "Now, who is the wise one? You claim to be so smart but I'm the one who tricked you and got out of the hole."

"Okay, so you are the wise one," admitted the fox. "Now, can you help me? Do you know how I can get out of this?"

"Well, I do have an idea for you, Fox. But, it depends on how well you can act," said the hedgehog. "You need to pretend you are dead. Stay very stiff no matter what happens. When the humans see you, they might toss your body in the garbage pile on the other side of the road. But, you have to remain perfectly still."

As it turned out, Hedgehog was indeed the wise one. It happened just the way he thought. When the humans found the body of fox, they hauled it across the road and tossed it in the garbage pile. The moment his feet touched the ground, Fox dashed across the field. He never looked back and never returned to the hen house. After the experience in that terrible hole, Fox knew once was enough.

MARTIN
Copyright 2009 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.