Adventures of the white dove and the squirrel

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Adventures of the white dove and the squirrel

Shanti, the white dove, lived peacefully in the jungle, with her neighbour Chipki, the squirrel. They had both built their nests amidst the widespread branches of a tall banyan tree.  There were plenty of berries to eat and they didn’t mind sharing.  They were good friends.

One day a bird-catcher spotted Shanti perched atop the tree.  “Ah, what luck! White doves are always in demand; she will fetch me a good price,” thought the bird-catcher. Scattering some grains of rice under the tree, he went away.

After a while, Shanti flew down to examine the grains.  “This is a nice change,” she thought as she pecked at the rice, unaware that the crafty bird-catcher had retraced his steps and was hiding behind a bush close by. Suddenly, he flung a net over her and she was trapped. Shanti saw the man approaching and desperately called out for help. He picked her up in the net and tied a knot around its open end, so that she couldn’t escape.

Chipki heard Shanti’s piteous cries and arrived just in time to see the bird-catcher slinging the net bundle over his shoulder and walking away, humming cheerfully. “Don’t worry, I’ll help you,” she squeaked to Shanthi.  Jumping from tree to tree, Chipki followed the trapper. Trudging through the humid forest, in the hot afternoon sun, soon made the bird-catcher feel tired and drowsy. 

Putting his bundle down, he decided to take a nap under a shady tree. Soon, he was snoring away. Chipki scurried to the net and started gnawing at it with her sharp teeth. In no time at all, she had made a hole large enough for Shanti to squeeze through.

“I think I’ll take this piece of net with me as a souvenir of our adventure. It will make a nice lining for my nest,” laughed Chipki as she scampered up the tree and Shanti flew to safety. Shanti was very grateful to Chipki for rescuing her.

When the trapper awoke, he was shocked to find his net with a gaping hole and his prized catch missing. His nap had proved to be quite costly. A week later, Chipki gave birth to a sweet little baby. One afternoon, she asked Shanti, “Will you please keep an eye on my little one while I step out to stretch my legs and fetch some food?”  “Gladly, my friend,” replied Shanti. True to her word, Shanti kept a watchful eye on the baby squirrel. Suddenly, she thought she spied something moving up the trunk of the tree.

Oh no! It was a snake making its way stealthily towards the squirrel’s nest. What was she to do? Chipki had left the baby in her care. She could not let it come to any harm. Shanti hopped onto Chipki’s nest.  There the baby lay on the piece of net, with its eyes closed, too small to move. Thinking quickly, Shanti picked up the two corner edges of the net in her beak and lifted the baby out of the nest.

Holding the net hammock securely in her beak, she flew off with the baby squirrel safely bundled in it. The snake was shocked to see a white dove flying away with his meal.  All he could do was hiss his displeasure!

Chipki, who was on her way back to the tree, looked up to see Shanti flying with her baby dangling in the net sling and followed her. Shanti soon settled on a tree and Chipki hurried up its trunk to join her. Finding a natural hollow in the tree trunk, Shanti deposited the baby squirrel safely into it. She told Chipki about the snake. “Now we must both find a new abode as our banyan tree is no longer safe,” declared Shanti.  

Grateful to Shanti for her quick thinking, Chipki thanked her. “No need to thank me, dear friend,” said Shanti. “It was my duty. After all, you proved to me that a friend in need is a friend indeed!”  The two of them built their homes in a new tree and continued to live as good friends.

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