The lost and found smile

It began quietly enough one bright Monday morning. The wind rustled through the trees. Spring was in the air and all was right with the world. Dumbo the elephant trumpeted away as he splashed water in the stream.

Hoot the owl called out the lessons to his brood of owlets. And, ten thousand fireflies mastered the art of glowing in the dark. In short, it was just another working day in the jungle.

Squiggly the squirrel yawned as he stretched in his cosy nest, lovingly built by Papa and Mama Squirrel. His parents were out foraging. They had left Squiggly with a list of chores. But Squiggly was one lazy squirrel. Not for nothing was he called ‘Sleepyhead’ by the rest of the jungle. It didn’t look like he would do any of his chores this beautiful Spring morning!

“Ahem,” Squiggly cleared his throat as he read the long list that Papa had left for him. Just then, a gust of wind blocked out the cheerful sun and clouded Squiggly’s vision.
“Oh no! Where has the sun gone?” Squiggly groaned and felt a tug on his face. “My smile ...eeek! Where has it gone? Hey! It’s the wind! Come back, you thief! Give back my smile!” Squiggly leapt out of his perch with an agility quite amazing for an otherwise lazy squirrel.

But Mr Wind was in no mood to relent. He was having a merry time and he took off in a rush, unseating the owlets in Hoot’s classroom! Mr Wind then went on to torpedo the flowers so patiently collected by the ants for the butterflies’ feast.

With a tremendous burst of speed, Squiggly caught up with him, but Mr Wind was two steps ahead. He tossed Squiggly’s smile high up and sent it all the way past the powder puff clouds. Squiggly was out of breath, but he was determined to teach Mr Wind a lesson.

He marched off to the Jungle Council. The council comprised Jumbo the elephant, Koel the cuckoo, Lieutenant Colonel Ant, and Hoot the owl.
“O Worthy Council,” said Squiggly as he burst into the meeting and huffed, “Mr Wind has robbed me of my smile! I can’t live without it. No pretty squirrel will give me a second glance...”

“Well, well, Squiggly. You have always been a slothful squirrel...” Hoot began.
“Please, I promise I won’t be lazy. I will work hard and help my parents...” wailed Squiggly.

“Squiggly,” continued Hoot, in his most patient voice, “we believe in giving everyone a second chance. I think it’s fair to help you. Let the ants pile up some dry leaves and twigs. Let the spiders weave a strong web to bait Mr Wind. Let Jumbo, Giraffe and the hyenas help in digging a pit, which the bears will then fill with the dry leaves and twigs. The monkeys can stand guard when Mr Wind comes visiting.

As for the butterflies and birds, they can pour nectar of flowers on the trap. Mr Wind loves to work mischief on the flowers and he is sure to come by and investigate. His curiosity is sure to bring him back to the forest.”

With that the Jungle Council dispersed, to work on their separate tasks. Squiggly was relieved and promised that he would never ever be a lazy squirrel. If only he hadn’t been lying about in the nest in the late hours of the morning, he wouldn’t have found himself in this predicament...

As the Jungle Council had predicted, curious to know what Squiggly and the others were up to, Mr Wind returned to the jungle. He  swept past treetops, throwing them a scornful glance. After all he was superior to them, wasn’t he? Or so thought he. Till with a shock he found himself in a trap! He had stopped to investigate the sweet-smelling nectar, but as he drew near the spiders drew their webs tight around Mr Wind and down the pit he hurtled.

“Noooooo,” he cried out as he clutched in his hand Squiggly’s smile. All the jungle folk crowded around the pit to see a sight such as no other.

“Help! Please help! I promise not to trouble you again,” howled Mr Wind.

Owl appeared on the horizon, and said in his most solemn voice, “First, release Squiggly’s smile and promise to be a lot more humble towards the jungle folk. Do you know that they tell stories about your power and strength? Shouldn’t you be more kind to them?”
“Of course, I will. But please get me out of here,” cried Mr Wind.

The Jungle Council agreed to release Mr Wind on the condition that he release Squiggly’s smile right away! They let him go with the warning that he should obey the law of the jungle. As for Squiggly, he promised to be a hard working little squirrel and a source of pride to his Papa and Mama.

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