Farley Of The Forest by Elizabeth Nason - Children's Stories Net

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  Farley Of The Forest
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In the spring, Margo, a mother fox, gave birth to six babies. Four of the babies were female, and the other two male. Mother Fox, joined by the other members of the skulk (a pack of foxes), taught the young how to eat, hunt, and work together to protect the family. Farley, one of the males, demonstrated both physical and emotional differences from the other kids. At an early age, Farley was larger, stronger, and more beautiful than any other fox born within the skulk. The adults commented continually of the young male's attractive appearance, unmatched strength, and unique wisdom. Bruce, Farley's brother, worked diligently to become a great hunter and protector. Bruce dreamed that one day he would become the next leader, but his efforts went unnoticed.
With each passing day, Farley became more obsessed with his physical appearance, and discovered he was indeed different from the others. He no longer wanted to help hunt for food, claiming he did not want to dirty his beautiful coat. Truthfully he was repulsed by the idea of eating meat. Farley thought it was savage to take the life of another simply to fill his stomach. Instead, Farley sat by the lake, eating fruits and berries, making friends with creatures he was supposed to eat, and admiring his reflection.
The skulk grew tired of Farley's vanity, lazy attitude, and overall inability to fit in among the others. Jealousy, anger, and resentment filled their hearts, and they decided there was no longer any room for Farley. Just before winter, Farley was discharged from the skulk with words of anger, jealousy, and shame. What his family didn't know, however, was that Farley had another secret. He left feeling rejected and alone. Where was he to go, and why was he given these gifts of beauty and wisdom?
Farley grew to be the largest fox within the forest. His gorgeous, fur coat contained the colors of fire and ice. His chest, white as snow, glistened in the sunlight. The rest of his body covered with a blended mixture of gold, oranges, and reds, combined like those of a flame. His large, erect ears made whispers sound like mighty roars. He used his slender muzzle for detecting the faintest of scents, his strong retractable, claws for climbing trees, and his legs for running speeds up to 42 miles per hour to help others. Unique to the fox were his eyes, eyes that were windows to the soul. One eye had a black pupil surrounded by gold, and the other eye was completely black.
Farley became well known in the forest to creatures great and small for his cunning wisdom, honesty, ability to search for the truth, and, unfortunately, his uncontrollable ego. Farley made many new friends, he helped sniff out food, listened for other animals of prey, climbed trees for those that couldn't, and used his gift to settle disagreements. The other animals were thankful for the help and protection, but were often concerned that Farley was so easily distracted by his own reflection. If Farley was in the middle of helping someone and passed by anything that showed his beauty, he would freeze like a statue, unaware of anything around him.
One day, while strolling through the forest, Farley started thinking about his family and how much he missed them. Would it ever be possible to rejoin the family? Could they ever accept him for who he was, or at least respect his decisions? Why had he not been honest with his family?
Mrs. Warthog was outside talking to her son, Wesley, when he passed by on the trail. Farley overheard her telling him that she had ways to find out if he was being honest. Farley decided to go say hello, and offer his gift to Mrs. Warthog.
"Good Morning," he said.
"Good Morning, just the person I wanted to see," she replied. "Do you think you could help me with Wesley? I am trying to find out if he ate my fresh baked pies. I worked all afternoon looking under rocks for grubs, mealworms, and beetles to make my daughter's favorite pie. After I baked the pies, I set them outside to cool, returned to the house to clean, and later, walked back out to bring the pies inside before dinner. Unfortunately, I found only empty pans. I just know that boy ate my pies, and is lying to stay out of trouble. Will you talk with him?"
"Of course, we will take a walk and talk," said Farley.
"Okay, but please stay close to the house," said Mrs. Warthog.
Farley and Wesley wandered through the forest, talking about what had happened. Wesley started crying, admitting he had eaten the pies, and ran as fast as he could out of the forest. Farley followed Wesley out of the woods, down into the valley, and then suddenly stopped. He listened carefully, which direction had Wesley gone?
He heard the splashing of water, the cries of help, and the racing of someone's heart.
"Wesley," screamed Farley, "Where are you?"
Wesley did not reply, and Farley knew he was in trouble. Farley bolted toward the river to save Wesley, telling himself to stay focused, not to be distracted by the water. Farley approached the water and froze. The reflection from the water's surface acts as a mirror, paralyzing his body and senses. The only thoughts are of his gorgeous reflection. Wesley was screaming for help, but Farley was helpless, he was powerless to his own reflection.
Mrs. Warthog had heard Wesley's initial screams, and was running for dear life to help her son.
"Farley, you must help Wesley or he will drown," roared Mrs. Warthog. "Hurry, you must break your stare to help," she continued to scream.
Farley could hear the pleas, and tried desperately to break his gaze, but couldn't. His heartbeat grew faster, stronger, and louder.
Suddenly, Farley was in the water, but not alone. It was Bruce. He had jumped in with Farley, and they both were swimming toward Wesley. Together they brought Wesley to shore. Mrs. Warthog arrived just as they pulled Wesley out of the water. She immediately went to her son's aid.
"Bruce, what are you doing here?" asked Farley.
"I saw you running after the warthog, stop to listen in the valley, run to the water, and then freeze. I didn't think you were ever going to jump," replied Bruce.
Farley said panting, "I could hear the screams, but it was not until I heard my own heart that I was able to jump."
"My heart was broken when I was abandoned by the skulk, and I began to focus only on what I could do for others with my gifts. If only I had used my gifts of sight, speed, sound, and beauty with the skulk instead of keeping secrets, none of this would have happened. It is time for me to be honest. I don't eat meat; I prefer berries. That is why I didn't hunt with the family. I am wise because I can detect the rise of someone's heartbeat, and strong because I had a family. Can you please forgive me?"
Bruce, with his head hung low, whispered, "Please forgive me. We both have made mistakes. I overlooked why we are different, and how we all can learn from those differences. I have seen the goodness in you, learned that you can live in harmony, and together we can do all things."
Together the forest lived in harmony, united in similarity, and accepting each other's differences. The skulk focused on Farley's positive efforts instead of looks, and Farley taught his family how to settle disagreements, hunt for fruits and berries, and help others in need. Farley was no longer focused on his outer beauty, and learned to take pride in his natural gifts of helping others.

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