Mini and Duke

Sharmila Roy Ghosal

Mini was a glossy hen. She lived in a house, near the woods, with her master, mistress and their young son, Raja.
She was liked by all.
As a very important member of the household, Mini was well cared for, petted and fussed over. As a result, she became very self- centered.
One day, Raja’s father brought into the house a Labrador called Duke. Lively and alert by nature, Duke soon found favour with his little master.

He was given the best dog biscuits to eat, bathed and cleaned regularly. He accompanied his master everywhere and even watched T.V with them in the drawing room.
As a result, Mini became jealous.  She hated Duke. Even though she was given the same treatment as before Mini felt she was being neglected.
So, she repulsed all the friendly overtures, made by him.
Now there lived in the wood very near to the house, a cunning fox, called Jim.  For a long time his desire had been to make a feast of the fatty hen. He was however afraid to enter the house, as he knew that the master kept a gun with him.
“He might shoot me”. Jim thought. However he awaited his chance.
One day, he found Mini standing with a sad expression on her face, near the gate. He knew that the cause was the dog, but still he acted innocent.

“Hello”, he said, “I’m Jim and live in yonder forest.” He paused and added, “Can I help you in any way?”
Mini sighed.  “No one can help me anymore”she said.  Then suddenly getting angry she shouted, “That dog is the cause of all my misery. Oh, how I hate him!”
Jim nodded his head. ‘I know, I know, I have seen him walking about, like a king, with his master. He ignores you as if you were an unwanted commodity in the house.”
He paused to look around and then, cunningly said, “But why do you stay here?  Do you like being insulted and humiliated like this?
“Don’t you want a free life, whereby you can do whatever you want to, and not be looked down on by anyone?”
“Yes,yes”,Mini said excitedly. “But how do I have that life?”
“Why, it is simple”. Jim said, his eyes glinting.
“At night,when everyone is asleep, you have just got to jump over the gate and reach the wood.”
Mini thought for some time and then said “Okay”.
“I shall be waiting for you, near the gate,”Jim grinned and muttered.
Now when the conversation was taking place between the two, Duke saw them together, from inside the house.
He knew a conspiracy was being hatched. Somehow, he knew the fox was evil.  He decided to keep an eye on Mini.
At night, when everyone was asleep, Duke stayed awake. He heard Mini quietly move towards the garden.
He followed her, hiding behind the trees.  At the gate was Jim the fox.

Slowly, Mini mounted the gate and dropped on the other side. Just then Duke heard a savage laugh
“Now I have got you, you stupid hen. I will tear you to pieces and eat you, bone and flesh”.
Jim was about to attack Mini when something pounced on him. Growling loudly Duke bared his teeth at Jim.
Hearing noises, the members of the house switched on the lights and came running towards the gate. Seeing Duke and the fox struggling, with Mini standing nearby, they immediately realized what had happened.
Raja’s father fired. The shot wounded the fox’s leg.  Jim let out a long howl, after which he half ran, half-limped into the woods and was never seen again.

Mini realizing that Duke had saved her life, felt ashamed, so she decided to apologize to him and change her behavior towards him. Very soon, the two became the best of friends.


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