Mousedeer and the Crocodiles
Mousedeer was hungry! His little belly growled as he looked across the river at delicious berries. He had been eating leaves and buds on plants an fruits that had fallen from the trees high above the 12 inch high animal. Now he wanted those berries.
"I cannot swim that far," thought Mousedeer. "How can I get across all of that water?" As he looked, Mousedeer saw crocodiles sleeping along the riverbank. He did not want to wake them and become their meal. Larger animals were always trying to eat the little Mousedeer.
Suddenly Mousedeer got an idea. He picked up a rock ant hit the biggest crocodile on the head. "Hey," called crocodile. He did not like being woken up from his nap in the warm sunshine.
"I am sorry to wake you," said Mousedeer, "But, the king needs your help."
"The king?" asked crocodile. "You had better be telling the truth, or I will make you my dinner."
Many animals threatened Mousedeer that they would eat him. But, Mousedeer was fast and was clever. No one had caught him yet. "The king wants to thank you and the other alligators for keeping the alligators out of the river. He wants me to count all of you so he can see how many gifts he needs to prepare for you".
Another crocodile opened one eye. "Gifts?" he asked. "For us?"
"You cannot tell the king," said Mousedeer. It is supposed to be a secret. I need you to all line up end to end across the river in order to let me count you. Then the king can prepare your presents.?
"I like presents," said another of the crocodiles. I hope the present is something to eat." Then he closed his mouth, hiding his sharp teeth and got in line with his friends. Mousedeer had told them to line up in one long line so he would not leave anyone out.
All the crocodiles lined up head to tail across the river. Each waited for Mousedeer to begin counting them.
"You must all close your mouths," said Mousedeer. so I can walk across your backs as I count you." Mousedeer climbed onto the back of the first crocodile. "One," he shouted. "Two," he called as he walked across the body of the second crocodile. "Three, Four, Five... Eight, Nine, Ten" He counted all the crocodiles. Then he stepped off the back of the last crocodile. The berry bush was right in front of him.
"Thanks for letting me use you as a crocodile bridge," laughed Mousedeer. Then he ran to the bush and began eating.
"You tricked us again!" cried the large crocodile. I'll get you the next time."
"When do we get our presents?" asked the other crocodiles. They had still not figured out why Mousedeer was called a TRICKSTER by their friend.