There was once a young farmer called Mikola who owned acres of cornfields. He was very hardworking. Each morning, before the sun rose, he set off from his cottage to work in his fields. His wife always gave him a packed lunch of bread and cheese together with a jug full of rich, creamy milk from their cow. Near one of his fields there was a stream. Each day, as soon as he arrived, Mikola placed the jug of milk in the stream to keep it cool.
But one fine day, the farmer forgot to take his lunch-box with him as he had left in a hurry. So his wife hurried after him with it. ‘Mikola, you forgot your lunch. What can you be thinking of?’ said his wife. He thanked her and when she had returned home, Mikola went to the stream by the cornfield. Gently he lowered the milk jug into the water. Then he went back to his work.
A hungry fox was walking past the field that afternoon when he smelled food. It made him feel hungrier. He went by the stream, sniffing hungrily, ‘Ah, I spy with my little eye a jug of delicious milk,’ he said, licking his lips. So he squeezed his head into the jug and lapped up every drop of the milk. He was very happy. The milk was not only rich and creamy but it also cooled his thirst, for the fox had walked a long way looking for water to drink and something to eat. Then he shook his head to try and free it from the jug. But he could not do it. His head was stuck. The fox wandered up and down the bank of the stream.
First, he shook his head from side to side; then he shook it up and down. Then he tried banging his headon the ground. That made his head hurt and he felt giddy. ‘I must not panic. There’s a way out of this,’ thought the fox to himself. Then he had a wonderful idea. He decided to talk to the little brown jug which held on so tightly to him. ‘Dear little juggle, how are you today? I’m sure you’re going to let me go, aren’t you? You’re just playing a joke on me, aren’t you?’ said the fox. His voice coming from deep down the jug was muffled.
‘What did you say? ‘I can’t hear you properly,’ said the jug, giggling.
This made the fox angry. It was getting extremely warm in the jug and he longed to be free. ‘Now look here. You’ve had your little joke. Release me at once,’ said the fox angrily.
‘I had nothing to do with your getting trapped in here. You were greedy. You know it’s wrong to steal,’ said the jug. The fox began to jump up and down and this made the jug laugh. But still the jug held on tightly and wouldn’t let go.
‘Please let me go. I can’t breathe. There’s not enough air in here,’ said the fox. But the jug took no notice of him. Instead it gripped the fox around his neck even more tightly. ‘Stop! You’re choking me. Let me out!’ said the fox.
‘Well, if you weren’t so fat from stealing other people’s food you’d slip out easily,’ said the jug.
After walking up and down for a long time with his head still in the jug, the fox had an idea. ‘I’m going to jump into the stream. If you don’t let me go, you’ll drown too,’ said the fox.
‘Jugs don’t drown easily. We usually float,’ said the jug calmly.
But the fox did not hear the jug. He ran straight to the bank of the steam and leapt. The weight of the little brown jug pulled him under water and the unhappy fox drowned.
The little brown jug floated to the surface and a little later Mikola spied it in the water. ‘Ah, this isn’t my lucky day. First I forgot my lunch-box and now all my milk has spilled into the water.’ The little brown jug remained silent for as everyone knows jugs never talk to humans.