It was a hot, dry day, and the poor crow was longing for a drink. Wherever he looked he could see only dry, stony fields. He flew low over the ground, hoping to see at least a puddle where he could quench his thirst. He swooped over a little cottage and caught sight of a blue lake – inside the cottage! Without thinking, he dived straight into the inviting blue of the water – and hit the wall so hard that he bent his beak. What the crow had seen was only a painting on the wall. As he lay on the floor with stars flashing in his eyes, he felt a proper idiot!
Freddie the Fox was jumping over the rocks in a river one day when he lost his footing and fell into a narrow gap. However hard he tried he couldn't wriggle free. Even worse, a swarm of gnats came and began biting and scratching him. Harry the Hedgehog came shuffling by and saw the fox. Being a kind hedgehog he offered to come and eat the gnats that were biting Freddie.
"No, please don't bother," said Freddie gloomily.
"Why ever not?" asked Harry in surprise. "Because these gnats have already bitten me so many times they're getting tired.
"If you eat them a new lot will come and start all over again!"
One day a group of snakes set off for a picnic. They took cream cakes and jam tarts and fizzy lemonade. They forgot that wasps love picnics too, and no sooner had they started eating than the wasps love picnics too, and no sooner had they started eating than the wasps came buzzing along. The youngest snake was just swallowing a cream cake when he was stung on top of his head. Ow! Then he got stung again. "Pesky wasp," he hissed. "I must kill it quickly." At that moment he saw a horse and cart trundling down the road. He crawled over and put his head under the wheel. The wasp was killed at once – and so was the stupid snake.
Tubby the tortoise was tired of pulling his house around on his back. "This shell is much too heavy," he said crossly. "If I could fly it would be much easier." So he climbed on a rock and jumped, only to land on his back at the bottom of it. "Bother," he said as he struggled the right way up. "Eddie the Eagle must teach me how to do it." Five days later he arrived at Eddie's nest a mile away and told him what he wanted. "Ridiculous! Impossible!" said Eddie.
"Useless lumps like you can't fly. Go away." But Tubby kept on tugging Eddie's feathers, begging him to teach him. At last, Eddie grabbed him and soared into the sky. "Right. Off you go," he said, and let go. Tubby flapped his legs as fast as he could as he dived straight down and crashed onto the rocks. And that was the last time a tortoise tried to fly!
Jim the Jackdaw loved ripe, juicy figs. So did the other birds, so as soon as he saw the hard little green figs appear he had an idea. "I'll sit by them and wait for them to get ripe. Then I can eat them as soon as they're ready," he thought.
So he perched in the branches of the fig tree and waited. First thing every morning he looked at the figs, but they were still green. Day by day he got thinner and thinner. At last he was so weak he fell off the branch. As last he was so weak he fell off the branch. As soon as the figs turned brown the other birds arrived, but poor old Jim was weak to fly up and join them.
When Sam the Silly Shepherd found another wolf cub by itself he remembered the things that had gone wrong before. "I know what to do this time," he said. He put the wolf cub in with his sheepdogs. "Now it will grow up thinking it's a dog and behave itself," he thought.
At first, all went well. The wolf ran around like a sheep dog, and seemed to guard the sheep well. But every day there was one sheep missing. At last Sam caught the wolf eating the sheep when it thought he wasn't looking. So he hit it over the head and hung its body up as a warning.
Every morning Jim got up, sharpened his beak and looked around at the other jackdaws. "None of them are big as me," he said to himself. "Really, I'm too good for them. I'll go and live with the crows. They will like my shiny black feathers and give me a good welcome." So off he went, but it wasn't a bit as he expected. The crows didn't know what he was, but they were sure he wasn't one of them. So they made him do all the chores. "Fetch this," they said; "Go and do that, and be quick about it." Jim got more and more fed up. In the end he decided to return to the jackdaws. "At least they know I'm big and important," he thought. But he was wrong. "If you're not good enough for the crows, you certainly aren't good enough for us," they said, and Jim had to go off and live by himself.
The ants were busily searching the banks of the stream for food when one of them, getting too close to the water, tumbled in. "Help," he called in his tiny voice as he was swept away. The other ants crowded the bank, but what could they do?
Just then a pigeon, flying overhead, swooped into the trees, broke off a twig and dropped it into the water by the little ant. He clambered onto it and was saved. The ants on the bank of the stream like anything.
Many days later, a bird-catcher, hunting for pigeons, came with a bundle of twigs that he had covered in poison. But the ants knew exactly what he was doing and determined to save their friendly pigeon.
They came swarming out of their nest and crawled all over the bird-catcher, stinging and biting him.
He threw his bundle of poisoned twigs into the stream and ran away as fast as his legs would carry him.