A long time ago in a land far away there lived a tiger, who had been hunting for two long days. He was very tired, so he decided to lie down in the shade of a mango tree, underneath some cool foliage, and take a nap. He fell asleep.
Presently, he became aware that something sharp kept poking into his haunches. He opened one eye to see a little squirrel digging his claws in his side.
“Say, little squirrel, what are you doing?” asked the tiger, who was wise and could not fault the dimwitted rodent for poking a sleeping tiger.
“I’m feeling your muscles, to see how firm they are.”
“Well, little squirrel,” said the tiger, flexing his paw, “feel my arm and then go away. I have been hunting for two days, and I am tired. I want to sleep.”
So the squirrel felt the tiger’s muscle and said, “Thank you, Mr. Tiger. You’re very strong, but not as strong as the tiger in my glen.”
The tiger snorted, for it made no difference to him who was stronger, and went back to sleep.
Soon he was awakened to the feeling of his fur being rubbed the wrong way. He opened one eye. “Say, little squirrel, what are you doing? It hurts for my fur to be rubbed the wrong way.”
“Oh, no!” said the squirrel. “I’m not rubbing your fur the wrong way. I’m testing the resilience of the hair fibers.”
The tiger said, “Call it what you will—stop doing it.”
“Mr. Tiger!” cried the squirrel, even as he continued to stroke the tiger the wrong way, “why are you angry with me? I have done nothing!”
“You have awakened me, and you are rubbing me the wrong way. Please leave me to sleep, as I have been hunting for two days and I am tired. You have tested the resilience of my fur long enough now to know.”
“Well,” huffed the squirrel, “your fur isn’t nearly so resilient as that of the tiger in my glen.”
The tiger said nothing to that, understanding that the squirrel seemed even less clever now than he did before. “Go away, little squirrel. You are in my glen now, and I would sleep.” So he did.
It wasn’t long before the tiger awoke to find little squirrel-fists full of tufts of his hair being plucked. “Little squirrel,” said the tiger, beginning to lose his patience, “I thought I told you to leave me be. Did you not understand that I have been hunting, and I am tired? Do you not understand that I have been very patient with you so far, and that I could gobble you up if you anger me?”
“Well! I never!” pronounced the squirrel. “How dare you be angry with a little squirrel like me. I have done nothing to you that you should be so upset about!”
The tiger tried to be more patient, as it was clear to him that the rodent had no sense. “You have awakened me three times when I have told you of my wish to sleep, you have poked my haunches, rubbed me the wrong way, and pulled my fur out of my skin. How can you say you have done nothing? Begone, rat, before I eat you.”
The tiger saw that the squirrel was much offended by this speech. The squirrel replied, “Well, in any case, your fur is easier plucked than that of the tiger in my glen!”
“Then go torture him and leave me be so I can sleep.” And he did.
No sooner had he fallen asleep yet again when tiny rodent teeth bit down into the tender flesh of his ear. He awoke with a deafening roar.
The little squirrel scampered just out of reach and the tiger, rubbing his ear, said, “You really are not very bright, are you?”
“How dare you!” squeaked the squirrel as he danced an angry jig. “I have not lowered myself to calling you names! How petty you are! The tiger in my glen is not petty!”
The tiger, being wise and patient, would have ignored the rodent, but for the gleam of wicked intent he suddenly glimpsed in the eyes of the squirrel.
“You have been bothering me on purpose,” said the tiger slowly, seeing that the squirrel was not stupid—just disturbed and wicked. “To what purpose, I do not know, but on purpose nonetheless.”
“I have not!” said the squirrel. “I have been comparing you to the tiger in my glen! How dare you not let me perform my examination just because you are sleeping. You are out here in the open, at the mercy of just any squirrel! How dare you accuse me of bad things!”
“Well,” said the tiger thoughtfully, “did you get what you were after?”
“Oh yes!” replied the squirrel, gleefully, a look of triumph in his eyes.
“Good. Then you won’t mind if I—”
And the tiger gobbled him up—and finally got some rest.