Fox and Gopher
A Brazilian Tale Adapted and Retold by Mary Hays
For Three Readers
Original source, The Jaguar and the Monkey
Told and recorded in the picture book,
A Onça e o Macaco by Brazilian storyteller, Maria Betty Coelho Silva
Translated from Portuguese by
Dr. Renata Junqueira de Souza of Presidente Prudente, Brazil
N1 - A long, long time ago, though it was neither in your time, nor in my time, nor in anybody else’s time, there was a time when animals could talk…
N2 - Time and time again, Fox tried to catch Gopher. But Gopher was too clever to fall into Fox’s traps and tricks. Fox never tired of devising plans to catch Gopher.
N3 - Gopher used to make fun of Fox,
“Fox, catch me? Never, never. Yes, he can run fast but I can run and dig and listen carefully for sounds of danger. . .”
N1 - And to show off his carefully practiced skills, Gopher stood up straight, listened carefully, jumped up and dashed down into the safety of the nearest gopher hole.
N2 - Fox was distraught that he had not been able to capture the bothersome, little pipsqueak, Gopher. He felt like a fool. Finally he thought of a foolproof plan,
“I am going to pretend to be dead. All the animals of the prairie will be astounded to hear the news of my death and everybody will come to my funeral. And then I will capture Gopher.”
N1 - And so, in his den, Fox prepared his final resting place. He lay down, crossed his arms over his chest and closed his eyes peacefully, pretending to be dead.
N3 - When a little field mouse poked his head into Fox’s den, he was shocked to see that Fox was dead. Mouse spread the news quickly to all the prairie animals,
“The Fox is dead! Now we are safe from his hungry jaws. We are safe from becoming his dinner! The Fox is dead. The Fox is dead!”
N1 - All the animals that feared Fox went to see him in his final resting place. One by one: horse, goat, rabbit, owl and hawk and all the other animals cautiously peered at Fox.
N3 - Gopher was the last one to arrive to view Fox in his resting place.
He perched at the door of Fox’s den, looked in but did not enter. Gopher sadly called out,
“Poor Fox! So young and so dead. Oh, so tragic. Tell me has he already sneezed?”
N1 - The goat answered,
“Oh. . . . Sneezed?????… Not yet.”
N3 - Gopher solemnly responded,
“After my grandmother died, she sneezed three times.”
N2 - From his resting place Fox could hear the discussion and without taking time to think he began to sneeze,
“‘Atchim, atchim, atchim.”
N3 - The Gopher gave a big laugh and exclaimed,
“How on earth can someone who is dead, sneeze?”
N1 - And Gopher ran away, causing a great commotion. All the animals followed in fear, running here, running there with loose fur and loose feathers flying and filling the air, causing everybody to sneeze,
“Atchim, Atchim, atchim.”
N3 - Gopher who was safely perched on the top of his gopher hole, called out,
“Bless you all. Oh, such a sneeze! Bless you all. Oh, such a sneeze!”
N1 - All the animals thought it was so funny that clever Gopher had outwitted foolish Fox. When the confusion ended, each animal ran out into the forest to tell the tale of Fox’s fate.
N3 - And as for Fox and Gopher…
N2 - Fox is still trying to catch Gopher to this very day.
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