Bedtime Audio Stories in English - The Leopard And The Peacock

 The Leopard And The Peacock

Once when clouds gathered on the hills a peacock began to dance. It was a young peacock and it danced rather well. The birds and rabbits and a few deer who were nearby enjoyed the dance. But when the dance ended, the loud appreciation came from an unexpected quarter. "Bravo!" the voice said, "Encore!" The speaker was a leopard. The peacock was delighted. He danced again. "I wish I could dance like you," said the leopard. The peacock bowed to him and said, "Thank you. All cannot appreciate art as you do. It speaks of a high aesthetic sense that you have developed." While saying so, the peacock looked at contempt at the other creatures, including a number of other peacocks and peahens, who witnessed his performance but never cared to congratulate him. The peacock went closer to the leopard.

They talked of weather, of the hoarse evening chorus presented by the jackals and a lot of other things. They became friends. When the young peacock returned to its shelter in the bush, his uncle told him, "Beware of your new friend. He is a leopard, after all!" "So what? He appreciates my dance more than anybody else! He is an aristocratic leopard!" retorted the young peacock. "That no doubt he is. I'm sure, he means no harm to you. But all said and done, you can never take a leopard's mood for granted. It is good to befriend a powerful fellow, but it is also wise to keep a little aloof from him!" said the uncle. "Pooh!" said the young peacock. "I'm not like any ordinary peacock!" he added. The uncle peacock understood that his nephew had begun to think very highly of himself because of his friendship with the leopard. No other peacock was known to have ever become a leopard's friend! Days passed. The peacock and leopard met every day. Often the leopard would ask the peacock to perform a dance and the peacock would oblige him, cloud or no cloud. They ate together. One day, the peacock, after eating some delicious plums, dug the earth and sowed the stones of the plums. The leopard, who was eating a hare, looked at him. "Peacocks who hail from noble families do this," said the peacock in a way of explaining his conduct. "We sow the stones so that new plum trees will grow out of them. We will have new plums." "I know. Leopards like me who come from noble families also do the same. We also sow the bones of the creatures we eat so that new creatures will emerge from them," said the leopard very gravely.

Then he buried the bones of the hare. The peacock looked at him with disbelief but said nothing. The uncle peacock who was listening to their dialogue lying in the bush told the nephew that evening. "All was well so far. But be on your guard from now on. You have, unconsciously, provoked the leopard to do something which will bring him disappointment. Consequently, he will be angry with you." "Never worry about such issues, Uncle, I know the depth of the friendship between us!" commented the nephew curtly. Seasons passed. The plum stones sowed by the peacock sprouted into little plants. Rains made them handsome and greener. They grew up fast. The peacock viewed them with pride. But every time he looked at them or spoke about them, the leopard became grave. He stole glances at the ground where he had buried the hare's bones. Nothing grew there. The leopard was growing old and was unable to hunt as smartly as he hunted in days gone by. One day he was tired and hungry. He came to his usual place of rest.

But the peacock's plum trees had borne fruit. The peacock was feasting on them. He was as much elated as the leopard was distressed. "Hello, leopard! I wish I could share with you the joys of plum eating!" said the peacock. The leopard drew a heavy face but said nothing. "You seem hungry!" said the peacock. "I am hungry!" answered the leopard. "I wish the bones you had buried had really grown up into hares so that you could pick them one by one as I pick the plums and eat them!" said the peacock. "Who said hares did not grow out of the bones? They sprang up and ran away?" said the leopard in a huff, feeling quite disgusted at being teased while he was hungry. The uncle peacock was feeling like warning the nephew to stop there and not to talk more. But before he could do any such thing, the young peacock said, "You could not catch them, eh? What a pity!" "Whether I could not catch them or I did not catch them is a different matter. But I can catch something else to prove that I can catch!" shouted the leopard and he sprang on the peacock and killed it. The uncle peacock fainted in the bush. When he came to senses, he said, "Only if you had not been too proud, only if you had still some humility left in you!" you would have been alive.

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