One day an ass and a fox entered into an agreement with the lion that they would assist each other while hunting for food. They felt that their combined efforts would ensure that none of them would have to starve.

Of course, both the ass and the fox were a little nervous about accompanying the lion in the hunt. But the thought of the game they would acquire with his help, made them salivate. They put the nervousness down to nerves.

It was an excellent hunt. The three had combed the jungle in their search for food. When they came to a clearing by the lakeside, they dispersed.

The Lion's Share [Illustration by Shinod AP]
The Lion’s Share [Illustration by Shinod AP]

It was decided that the ass would keep an eye out for animals to prey on; when he spotted one, he would go up to the animal and introduce himself. The introductory bray would alert the other two, who were hiding.

The fox would come out at first, growling at the animal. The frightened animal would try to run, the fox would give chase and in trying to avoid him, the animal would run directly in the path of the lion. The lion would then finish the animal off in one swoop.

In the evening, the tired but happy trio assembled in front of the lion’s den with their large booty. The lion ordered the ass to allot to each of the three partners, his due portion in the treaty.

The ass was very happy. He felt that, by asking him, the lion had bestowed a great honour on him. Very carefully, he divided the spoil into three equal shares. “Sirs, I have done the needful. I modestly request the two of you to take your shares,” he said.

The lion stared at the shares for a minute. “Oh! So you think each one of us deserves an equal share. You think that your feeble attempts to chat with the game compares with my efforts to kill them,” he said and jumped on the ass. He killed the ass in one second.

Then he told the terrified fox to make the division. The fox accumulated all that they had killed into one large heap and left to himself the smallest possible share. The rest he requested the lion to have.

“Who has taught you, my dear fellow, the art of division? You are perfect to a fraction,” said the lion, pleased as punch.

“I learned it from the ass sir, by witnessing his fate,” replied the fox. He made up his mind never to take a lion as partner in any future venture.

438 words | 4 minutes
Readability: Grade 5 (10-11 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: folktales