In a part of the woods was a big fig tree with huge branches. A flock of geese lived there, and happy they were, you can be sure of that! But at the roots of the tree, a little vine was starting to grow.
A wise old goose said, “Do you see that little vine? The one starting to climb up our tree? It could be trouble some day! I saw this happen once when I was a little bird. If we do not pull the vine away now when it is still small and easy to cut, over time it will grow bigger and thicker. Then some day, the vine will be big and thick enough for someone to climb. A hunter will be able to climb up the vine and kill us. And that is why,” said the wise old goose, “we must get rid of the vine while we can.”
“Silly old goose!” said the others. “What trouble can come from such a little vine? Things are not the same as they were when you were little.”
So they let the vine grow.
And it grew. And grew. And grew.
When the geese were out one morning catching bugs and little fish, a hunter saw the fig tree and the big, thick vine. Why it was so big and thick, he could climb right up on the vine! So he climbed and high up in the branches, he laid a net around the nests. Then he quietly climbed back down.
“When I come back in the morning,” he said on his way home, “I bet there will be a lot of geese caught in my net!”
That night after a day of food and fun, the geese came back to their nests. Each and every one of them became stuck in the hunter’s net.
“Why, oh why did this happen to us?” cried a goose.
“Don’t you remember?” said the wise old goose. “I told all of you this could happen when the vine was still small. But you did not believe me. ”
“What do we do now?” cried another goose.
“A ha!” said the wise old goose. “Our only hope is to play dead when that hunter comes back tomorrow. If he thinks we are all dead, he may throw us to the ground so he can take back his net. We must all stay very still until each one of us gets thrown out of the tree onto the ground.”
At sunrise the next morning, the hunter came back. At first, he was very glad to see so many birds in his net in the fig tree! But when he got closer, he saw that every goose seemed as good as dead. He did not want dead geese so one by one, he took them off his net and threw them onto the ground. The geese stayed very still on the ground until the very last goose was thrown onto the ground. Then the hunter climbed down the tree and left. When the geese could not see him anymore, they flew back up into the branches of their fig tree.
The geese knew what they must do. It took a very long time, but bit by bit, they pecked away at that big vine. First, they cut the big vine into lots of smaller pieces. Then they pecked away at each small piece until it broke from the tree. At last, every piece of vine fell to the ground. And the geese could fly up to live safely in their fig tree, once again.