THE HOLE THAT WAS TOO NARROW


   Once upon a time. . . a stoat was so greedy that he would eat anything that
came his way. But he was punished for his greed. He found some old stale eggs
in a barn and, as usual, gobbled the lot. However, he soon started to feel
agonizing pains in his tummy, his eyes grew dim and he broke out in a cold 
sweat. For days, he lay between life and death, then the fever dropped. 

   The first time he dared climb a tree to rob a nest, thin and weak with his 
trousers dangling over an empty stomach, he became dizzy and fell. That is how
he twisted his ankle. Sick with hunger, he limped about in search of food, but
that made him feel even hungrier than before. Then good luck came his way.

   Although wary of venturing too close to human habitations, he was so hungry he
went up to a tavern on the outskirts of the village. The air was full of 
lovely smells and the poor stoat felt his mouth watering as he pictured all 
the nice things inslde. An inviting smell coming from a crack in the wall 
seemed to be stronger than the others. Thrusting his nose into the crack, he 
was greeted by a waft of delicious scents. 

   The stoat frantically clawed at the crack with his paws and teeth, trying to 
widen it. Slowly the plaster between the blocks of rubble began to crumble, 
till all he had to do was move a stone. Shoving with all his might, the 
stoat made a hole. And then a really wonderful sight met his gaze. He was 
inside the pantry, where hams, salamis, cheeses, honey, jam and nuts were 
stored. Overwhelmed by it all, the stoat could not make up his mind what 
to taste first. He jumped from one thing to another, munching all the time, 
till his tummy was full.

   Satisfied at last, he fell asleep. Then he woke again, had another feast
and went back to sleep. With all this food, his strength returned, and 
next day, the stoat was strong enough to climb up to the topmost shelves
and select the tastiest delicacies. By this time, he was just having a 
nibble here and a nibble there. But he never stopped eating: he went on 
and on and on. By now, he was very full indeed, as he chattered to 
himself: "Salami for starters . . . no, the ham's better! Some
soft cheese and a spot of mature cheese as well . . . I think I'll have a 
pickled sausage too . . ."

   In only a few days, the stoat had become very fat and his trouser button 
had popped off over a bulging tummy. But of course, the stoat's fantastic luck
could not last for ever.  

   One afternoon, the stoat froze in mid-munch at the creak of a door. Heavy 
footsteps thumped down the stairs, and the stoat looked helplessly round. Fear
of discovery sent him hunting for a way to escape. He ran towards the hole in 
the wall through which he had come. But though his head and shoulders entered 
the hole, his tummy, which had grown much larger since the day he had come in,
slmply would not pass. The stoat was in a dangerous position: he was stuck! 
Two thick hands grabbed him by the tail.

   "You horrid little robber! So you thought you'd get away, did you? I'll 
soon deal with you!" 

   Strange though it may sound, the only thought in the greedy stoat's head 
was a longing to be starving of hunger again . . .




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