An elephant, a monkey and a deer, living in the forest, were fast friends. They spent all their time together, climbing hills, resting under shady trees, playing in the river and feasting on fruits and grass.
Now there was a fox in the forest who was deeply jealous of the friendship of the three animals. He tried to befriend them, but the three animals refused to accept him as their friend because of his wily ways. The crafty fox always enjoyed causing trouble. The fox was very peeved indeed that the three friends did not want him in their company. He schemed and plotted and came up with a way to destroy their friendship. He approached the lion and told him, ‘Why don’t you hunt the elephant, the deer and the monkey? They always come so close to your den and play.’
The lion said, ‘I cannot attack them, they are too strong.’
‘Ah, but they are strong only when they are together. I will tell you a plan. Follow it and you can be assured of catching them alone. Then you can enjoy food for many days as you hunt one animal after another. Call each animal separately telling them that you have something important to share. When they come do not say a word to any of them.’
The lion agreed. He called the elephant first, but did not tell him anything. He then called the monkey and the deer separately and did not tell them anything either.
When the three friends met and asked one another about the lion’s meeting, they said that he had not said anything to them at all.
But a seed of doubt was planted. The elephant thought that the deer and monkey were not telling him the truth as did the other two. Soon the three friends stopped talking to one another. The fox who was keeping a watch gleefully decided that his plan was successful and he went to tell the lion that he could attack them one by one as they were no longer together.
A sparrow, who had listened to the plan of the fox, flew down to the three friends and told them how the fox was fooling them. The three friends were ashamed to think that that the fox had nearly succeeded and vowed never to doubt each other again. Their bond grew stronger and neither the fox nor the lion, could cause them any harm. The fox’s plan of divide and conquer failed miserably.