he monkey, Climby, was jumping from one tree to another, picking up all the delicious fruits that pleased him, when he heard someone calling and the beating of drums. He hid in a thicket, waiting to see what would happen. Many animals had gathered around the King’s messenger, Cookoo, the parrot who was calling loudly: “You, forest dwellers, listen carefully. Today, the wolf, Canny, will be judged and King Lion will attend the trial in person. Anyone interested in the trial should come at one o’clock in the afternoon, by the walnut tree.” Then the messenger left echoing the message all through the high trees. Having heard the call, like all other animals, the monkey was very curious.

The court-room got overcrowded with animals. Finally, a buffalo with his loud voice announced the beginning of the trial. Everyone stood up. Jackal, the wise judge, advanced holding a hammer. His assistant, the tiger, offered a chair made of precious snake-leather to the great King. The clever donkey and the strong bull sat near the judge. All the audience held their breath when the hedgehog and the giraffe brought the chained Canny out of his prison, put him behind the bars and stood nearby. Suddenly the door was pushed upon and the victim, a fox named Foxy, appeared with his arm in a sling. Foxy came forward accompanied by two squirrel doctors who were ready to intervene whenever he needed their help. The judge said: “Foxy, raise your right hand and swear an oath to tell the truth, only the truth and nothing but the truth.” At this moment, the animals burst into laughter because Foxy’s right hand was broken. The judge then banged and said loudly: “Silence!” At this moment, a bear came out of the trees holding a book. He put it in front of Foxy and said: “Put your right hand on this holy book and swear.” Foxy obeyed. The judge then asked him: “What is your story?”

“I was looking for prey in the nearby words as the law permits when I saw the accused trying to devour the deer, shyness, who as everyone knows is the counsellor of King Lion,” said Foxy. “I tried to persuade him not to do so, and in the end convinced him. Then I went away after I had been assured that the deer was really safe. I was wandering in the neighbourhood when I saw a rabbit. I wanted to capture it but the wolf pounced on the prey and devoured it. I got furious and I asked him why he did so. He responded with a bite so fierce that it broke my hand.” The deer confirmed Foxy’s story saying: “What Foxy said is absolutely true. That rascal wanted to kill me and if brave Foxy had not been there, I would have been killed. That is why I want this criminal to be severely punished.” As for the animals present in the court-room, they all had different opinions. The tiger was in favour of the punishment but the owl and the ravens were against it. However, the others, birds and rats, butterflies and insects were in favour of a very severe punishment for the wolf because he had caused them lots of trouble. The monkey did not make up his mind. He wanted to have the wolf punished for his misdeeds, but at the same time he pitied him.

At the while the dog and the eagle, the two court-room guards, had been listening and watching by the door. They, too, were of different views and ended up by quarrelling over the matter. Jackal the judge gave permission to the lawyer, the elephant named Trunks, to speak. Holding a file with his trunk, he said: “My client is innocent. He simply thought the deer was a stranger and he wanted to eat her because he was hungry. When Foxy tried to prevent him from killing her, he thought that Foxy wanted her for himself. However, when Foxy insisted, my client gave up. Concerning the rabbit, my client did not know that it was Foxy’s prey. All told, my client is definitely innocent.”
Voices rose. The judge banged again and cried out: “Silence, silence, please! This is a court and not a market or a Turkish bath. Please keep quiet!” Then, he whispered to the donkey and the bull. They answered him by incomprehensible gestures. The judge requested King Lion to pass his judgement.

“This is a delicate case and I do not like to interfere,” Said King Lion. “I leave it to you Mr. judge. I will send my messenger the duck, Coing-Coing to inform me about the verdict and the latest news. I am sure justice will be done. I have to leave now. I have my wife and children to take care of.” King Lion went to his car, “Ghost.” The kangaroo opened the door for him and the cat Mimmy drove him away.
The King’s speech caused a serious uproar. However and fortunately thanks to his wisdom and cleverness, the judge managed to calm the hubbub of the audience. He said: “The trial took a long time and every one of us has his own affairs. That is why I am going to announce the verdict: The accused Canny is sentenced to life imprisonment. His food will be algae because he tried to assault the inhabitants of the forest and tried to extort Foxy’s food. This verdict will be written in free magazines to be distributed for all the animals.”

When hearing the verdict Canny collapsed and started crying like a baby, holding the hand of his mother, Wicked, and his aunt Sly and his brother Deceiver. Foxy and the deer showed a wicked smile, revealing their intentions. However, there were those who pitied Canny and others who mocked him enjoying his defeat. After a while, the guards asked everyone to leave the room. The judge sat down thinking about the verdict. His conscience hurt him because the verdict was cruel. However, he was sure he did the right thing and did nothing but the justice. The prisoner was escorted to his dark cell, humiliated.
The inhabitants of the wood still remember this story and they recount it to their grandchildren now and then. The lesson to learn from this story is: What is done is done. Each animal should be careful about what to do and what not to do in order not to make a mistake. Better safe than sorry.

Samar Samir Mezghanni

*Translated from Arabic