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This story is taken from “Folk Tales Retold”. It tells us about a lion king and his courtiers. One day, they set out to eat camel meat. However, they do not make it far into the desert and have to be led back to the forest by the camel that they meant to eat. The lion promises the camel protection but the other courtiers still plan to eat it.
The lion– the king of the forest
The fox– the lion king’s adviser
The leopard– the lion king’s bodyguard
The vulture– the lion king’s messenger
The camel– a camel who the lion plans to eat but ultimately becomes friends with
The Lion and his Court
There was once a big and strong lion who was the king of the forest. The other animals brought him gifts from all over the forest, but he still wanted more. He though he must have a court. He told the clever fox to be his adviser, and the watchful leopard to be his bodyguard. The vulture was to be his messenger because he could fly high. The fox, the vulture and the leopard took an oath of loyalty to the king and he promised them food and protection.
For some time, everything went well. The three courtiers obeyed lion king’s wishes. They stood in awe when he roared and followed him wherever he walked. They found him animals to kill when he went hunting. And after he had his food, he left the remains for them.
One day the vulture asked him if he had ever eaten a camel. He said it was very tasty and that he ate it in a desert once. The lion had never seen a camel, but liked the idea of trying camel’s meat. He asked where they could get a camel, The vulture said that he saw a big desert a few miles away while flying.
The lion wanted the opinion of his other advisers. They did not actually know the desert, but asked the vulture to lead the way.
The Journey to the Desert
They started their journey the next morning and reached the desert easily. But it was very hot there. The vulture flew in the cooler air above them. He told them to hurry along because the camel was not far. But the lion could not go any farther because the hot sand had burned his paws. He said they should go back to the forest.
The lion king’s advisers were frightened because they did not know the way back home. The leopard wanted to run away. The vulture wanted to eat the lion later on. But the clever fox thought of a plan and ran off into the desert saying he would bring help.
He soon found the camel and said that their king wanted him. The surprised camel asked who this king was. The fox said that their king, the lion, had killed the camel’s master. So, he was free and the lion king had invited him to live at his court.
They went back to the others. The camel agreed to serve the lion in return for a home at his court. The lion, the fox and the leopard jumped on to the camel’s back to get back to the forest. The vulture flew ahead as their guide.
The Camel Proves his Loyalty
They were all tired and hungry when they reached the forest. The courtiers looked at the camel with hungry smiles because they wanted to feast on it. But the lion called the camel to him and said he wanted to thank him for saving his life. He promised him protection and a place at his court.
The courtiers were not pleased with this. The lion’s paws were so badly burnt that he could not go hunting. But he was hungry, so he told his courtiers to bring him food. However, the courtiers planned to make the camel ask to be eaten instead. They went back to the king and offered themselves as his meal.
The camel listened to their offers and thought he must do the same. He offered his life to the lion and said he should eat him instead of his old friends. This was what the others had been waiting for. They prepared to attack the camel but the lion stopped them.
He said that he had been touched by their offers and would eat them in the order in which they had offered themselves. The vulture, the fox and the leopard were shocked and ran away. The lion laughed and told the camel that he had been loyal and good. So, he would be his friend forever.
The camel was happy and grateful. The lion thought to himself that it was good to be king, but it was better to be kind.
This story shows us how loyalty is awarded. The loyal camel gets to stay at the king’s court. The old courtiers are disloyal and end up running away when their evil plan backfires on them. It also teaches us the importance of kindness. By being kind to the camel, the lion king not only gains a loyal friend, but also gets rid of his disloyal old courtiers.