450 words | 4 mintue read | Flesch–Kincaid readability score: Grade 3

Every morning the fox strutted through the forest pretending to be king of the jungle. He would bully an animal here, chase another there and show a third one his fangs. He was an utter nuisance.

One morning while chasing a hare, he got caught in a trap. Actually, it was his tail that got trapped. He pulled and pulled and huffed and puffed, but couldn’t get free. The tail stayed in the trap.

Now the fox was very proud of his bushy tail, which he always kept in a good condition. So he avoided pulling too hard lest something happened to it.

“Why did it have to be my tail?” he groaned and pulled a little again.

Tail-cut! [Illustration by Shinod AP]

Suddenly he heard voices – human voices. The trappers were coming to claim their victim. The fox made one great effort to free his tail. A searing pain followed and then he was free. He ran all the way to his lair, without looking back even once.

Only then did he realise the truth. His tail was missing. Most of it at any rate. The bushiest, glossiest part of it.

The fox felt terribly depressed. Then he felt a deep sense of shame. What would he tell the other foxes? He could already see their sly knowing smiles. Oh, the misery of it!

Then his calculating mind took over. He would persuade them that being tail-less was a good thing.

That evening, at the foxes’ meeting by the riverside, everyone watched astonished as the tail-less one sauntered in nonchalantly and proceeded to lecture everyone on the virtues of moving around without a tail.

“Friends, being tail-less is so much more fun,” he exclaimed and twirled once for effect. “And advantageous. Look at the weight of the thing – wears one down all the time. Prevents us from running like the mare.”

“Er…the mare has a tail too,” someone in the crowd pointed out.

“Hardly the same,” said the tail-less fox, carried away by the force of his own argument. “The mare’s tail is thin, not weighty like ours. Think how heavy our tails get after a swim. That’s why I got rid of it. It’s soooo useless. Now I feel free. Really, all of you should go in for a tail-cut too,” he added.

“Shut up, will you!” growled another fox. “We know you lost your tail in the trap. I had the honour of seeing you flee from the hunters. And I’ve brought along a memento.” Saying so he dangled the vain creature’s severed tail before everyone.

The assembly howled with laughter as the tail-less fox slunk away.