In a clearing, deep in the forest, the trees were having a pre-dawn discussion.
“Animals come and rest in our shade but they leave a mess behind,” said the Jamun. “The smell on some days is unbearable!” “They show no concern for us because we’re silent,” said the Sal. “But I’ve had enough! I’ve made up my mind to drive away any animal that comes here!”
“That may not be a wise thing to do,” said the Peepul, the oldest and biggest tree there. “The animals are a nuisance, I agree, but they serve a useful purpose. We are all inter-dependent—trees, animals, men . . .”
“I’m sorry,” interrupted the Sal. “I’ve great respect for your views but in this matter I will not listen to anyone. I won’t allow animals here any more!”
True to his word when a leopard came to rest in the shade later that day, the Sal began to shake violently from side to side. The leopard, frightened out of his wits, jumped up and ran. The Sal drove away all the animals that came to the clearing that day and in the days that followed. In course of time animals stopped coming to that part of the forest. The Sal became a great hero to the younger trees in the neighbourhood and even some of the older ones began bowing to him when the Peepul was not looking.
Then one day two woodcutters came to the clearing. “Men!” gasped the Sal. “Why have they come here? They’ve never come here before.” “If they’ve never come here before it was because they were afraid of the animals,” said the Peepul. “Now the absence of the leopard and the tiger has made them bold.”
The Sal began to tremble with fear and with good reason. It was the first tree the woodcutters chopped down.