Once in a dense forest lived four friends. The first was Mooshak, a mouse; the second Kak, a crow; the third Mantharak, a tortoise and the fourth Harini, a doe. The four friends used to meet every morning sharing jokes and discussing various matters.
One morning, Mooshak, Kak and Mantharak sat by the lake side waiting for Harini. She was late and they were getting worried.
Mantharak said, “Dear Kak, it is very late now, almost noon. Why don’t you fly around and locate Harini. I fear she is not in some danger?”
Kok promptly took flight and while flying he spotted Harini trapped in a hunter’s net.
“Oh dear Harini!”, exclaimed Kak, “Mantharak was right. Here you are trapped in the net while we waited for you.”
“Dear Kak, do find some help and set me free,” cried Harini.
Kak flew back to his friends and told of Harini’s plight. After thinking for some time Mantharak said, “Well, Kak, why not take Mooshak with you? He will gnaw at the hunter’s net and surely Harini would be free to join us.”
That is right”, agreed Mooshak but in a grim voice he said. “How can I reach such a long way off quickly before the hunter’s arrival?”
“Dont worry”, said Kak, “for I will carry you on my back.”
So Mooshak hopped on Kak’s back and Kak flew him to Harini. Mooshak promptly set to cutting the net and soon Harini was free. By that time Mantharak, the tortoise, had reached the spot crawling slowly.
Just as the friends embraced each other joyfully they heard the hunter’s approaching footsteps. Harini hid behind a. bush, Mooshak jumped into a treehole and Kak flew up to a tree. Mantharak scrambled towards a rock to hide beneath it.
The hunter saw his damaged net and exclaimed, “Oh the doe has escaped and my net is torn too. Oh ! what is this—a fat turtle—better take this than the doe for at least I will not be hungry.”
Thus, the hunter picked up the slow-moving tortoise and put it in his bag. Now Mooshak, Kak and Harini were worried about setting Mantharak free. They quickly made a plan. .
At a distance, the hunter again spotted Harini chewing on lush green. He thought, “What luck ! A tortoise and the deer too for dinner tonight.” So saying he dropped his bag and went to catch Harini. But Harini was a fast runner and she led him far away.
Meanwhile, Mooshak cut open the hunter’s bag and Mantharak was set free. As soon as Mantharak was safely hidden beneath a rock and Mooshak was in the tree-hole, Kak flew to Harini.
Harini bound away fast and the hunter, tired as he was decided to return to his small catch, the tortoise.
But was ! when he returned he found no tortoise and he had no doe for dinner either.
True friends are cherished treasures.