One day, Mouse Deer went down to the river. He wanted to take a drink. But he knew Crocodile might be waiting underwater to eat him.
Mouse Deer had an idea. He said out loud, “I wonder if the water’s warm. I’ll put in my leg and find out.”
But Mouse Deer didn’t put in his leg. Instead, he picked up a stick with his mouth and put in one end.
Chomp! Crocodile grabbed the stick and pulled it underwater.
Mouse Deer laughed. “Stupid Crocodile! Don’t you know a stick from a leg?”
And he ran off to drink somewhere else!
* * *
Another day, Mouse Deer went back to the river. All he saw there was a floating log. But he knew Crocodile looked like a log when he floated.
Mouse Deer had an idea. He said out loud, “If that log is really Crocodile, it won’t talk. But if it’s really just a log, it will tell me.”
He listened. A rough voice said, “I’m really just a log.”
Mouse Deer laughed. “Stupid Crocodile! Do you think a log can talk?”
And off he ran again!
* * *
Another day, Mouse Deer wanted to cross the river. He wanted to eat tasty fruits and roots and shoots on the other side. But he didn’t want Crocodile to eat him first!
Mouse Deer had an idea. He called out, “Crocodile!”
Crocodile rose from the water. “Hello, Mouse Deer. Have you come to be my breakfast?”
“Not today, Crocodile. I have orders from the King. He wants me to count all the crocodiles.”
“The King!” said Crocodile. “Tell us what to do.”
“You must line up from this side of the river to the other side.”
Crocodile got all his friends and family. They lined up across the river.
Mouse Deer jumped onto Crocodile’s back. “One.”
He jumped onto the next crocodile. “Two.”
And the next. “Three.”
Mouse Deer kept jumping till he jumped off on the other side of the river.
“How many are there?” called Crocodile.
“Just enough!” said Mouse Deer. “And all stupid!”
Then he went off singing his song.