Slippery Paws – a Toastmasters Speech (6)
There once was a fox and a wolf that set up cave with one another, half way up a steep cliff near to the seashore. Although this may seem odd, they did get on very well. They went out hunting all day together then of an evening because they were so exhausted they ate supper, then fell asleep.
It may well have remained that way had it not been for the greediness and cunning of the fox who as it turned out was not so clever after all.
One dark December night, there was a dreadful storm at sea. The rain lashed down, the sea broiled so that in the morning the shore was strewn with spillage. When daylight broke the two ventured forth to scavenge amongst the wrecks and chanced upon a great keg that had been aboard a ship on its way back from Ireland, where, world knows, they make the best butter.
Wolf so excited did a little jig; “Marrowbones and tripe” he squealed. Then he cleared his throat and continued. “What a supper we will have tonight”. He licked the saliva from his chin with his girt big tongue.
Quick witted wily Fox was also fond of butter. In a flash he made up his mind that he would have the booty all for himself. He wittered witheringly “Think my friend. Why break up this keg of butter when the barnyards are still full of grain for the stealing? And the farmyards are still stocked with fattened ducks and poultry. No! No! Let’s bury the keg in lieu of the time when the barns are bare, the grain is gone and the poultry is passed onto market.”
Reluctantly, Wolf agreed and together they dug the hole, buried the keg and set off on their next hunting spree.
A month had passed when Fox flung himself down after a full days hunting. “Alas! Oh dear! Alas!” He cried “Life is such a heavy burden.”
“What’s wrong?” Wolf responded with sympathy.
“Some friends of mine, who live yonder the furthest hill, have asked me to be Godfather to their girl cub, Kerry. But it is such a long way!” He simpered.
That evening Fox left but not for the yonder hills, instead for the hidden keg of butter. About midnight he returned a little fatter and somewhat sleeker. Wolf who was dozing half opened his left eye, grunted and turned over.
On two further occasions within the next month Fox was again asked to be the Godfather of cubs. One to be called Gold and one, Beurre. Wolf thought that it was an interesting trio of names but then, he didn’t speak French. After the third, the peculiar run of invitations ceased and Wolf thought nothing more of it.
Another month passed and food was becoming sparse. Wolf, one day, suggested it was time to dig up the keg of Irish butter. Wily Fox willingly agreed; he had already worked out his cunning plan.
The two dug up the keg which, unsurprisingly, they found to be empty. “This is your work” Fox accused Wolf. “Whilst I was out at the christenings you have been here and have eaten up all the butter – how could you?
“Not I” Wolf denied “I have never been near the spot since we first buried it.”
“It must have been you”. Insisted Fox “No one else knew it was here except you and me. No wonder your fur looks so sleek of late.” He lied. Wolf was actually looking quite mangy.
They continued to argue all the way back to the cave. Fox accusing Wolf and Wolf protesting his innocence. Then Fox caught up in the moment demanded “Are you prepared to swear that it wasn’t you?
“I do swear that something despicably horrible should happen to me if indeed I have eaten the butter” countered Wolf with his paw and head held high. He added “now it is your turn.”
Fox’s face fell. He’d been caught out. Whilst he was wily; he had been properly brought up and knew that it was a terrible thing to falsely vow. He made every excuse he could think of but Wolf got more and more suspicious. Since he could not tell Wolf the truth he eventually uttered “I do swear that if it had indeed been I who ate the butter then I should be struck down with a deathly punishment.” He ended with a horrific howl.
Wolf was shocked, having heard Fox’s oath. He thought that his recent suspicions must have been unfounded and was now ready to let the matter rest. Fox was relieved and muttered that some other must have stolen their spoils.
In an uncomfortable silence they sat on opposite sides of the big wintery fire in their cave. After a while Fox was becoming hot, hot, hot. His conscience was pricking away too. He needed to get some air before he was … sick, sick, sick. In his rush for entrance he failed to notice the grease that had had been oozing from his paws. As he tried to gain his balance, he slipped , tripped and skidded but failed to halt his assault at the mouth of the cave; a cave that was halfway up a steep cliff close to the sea shore.
And so be aware that slippery paws will lead to a fatal fall.