A legless thief?

Samesh was brushing his teeth in the courtyard when his father called him.

“Quick! I need you to see this!” yelled Papa.

“Coming!” replied Samesh, as he plonked his toothbrush into the stand, and splashed some water on his face.

Behind him, Dadaji sprang up from the cot and, lifting up his walking stick, followed Samesh outside.

“What’s the matter, Papa?” asked Samesh, seeing his father crouched on his knees, his face few inches off the ground.

“I can’t find seven chickens,” exclaimed Papa, plucking at his beard, his eyebrows creased.

“Why are you searching in the mud?” gasped Dadaji. They’re chickens, not worms!”

Papa didn’t like being rebuked before Samesh, but he had bigger problems on his mind than to protest.

“Look!” Papa pointed to a trail made in the mud. Samesh’s eyes widened. “No legs!” he gasped.

A lump formed in his throat and his eyes grew wider and wider, as he followed the trail that led to the backyard of their house and disappeared into a small pond.

Running back to his father and grandfather, Samesh asked, “Do we have crocodiles in our pond?”

“Nonsense!” snapped Dadaji, prodding the trail with his walking stick. “This isn’t a trail left by a crocodile.”

“You’re destroying the evidence,” grunted Samesh. “I need to look at this closer if I’m to find the legless thief!”

“All right...all right...” Dadaji turned around and trotted off. “I hope our little detective can catch the thief before all our chickens disappear.”

Unsolved case

“Not coming to school today, Samesh?” called Binita, his classmate, who was on her way to school and noticed Samesh standing in front of the pond, scratching his head. He was not dressed for school.

“I have a case to solve,” replied Samesh. “Do you see this?” He pointed to the prints in the soft mud. “What do you think this is?”

“That trail in the mud?” she twirled her braid, and rolled her eyes contemplatively. “It’s as if a log has been dragged.”

“Log!” squawked Samesh. “Logs don’t steal chickens!”

Then he told her about the case. “Someone who doesn’t have legs,” explained Samesh. “See, these aren’t footprints. Just one long trail.”

Hanging her school bag on the branch of a mahua tree nearby, Binita bent over and looked closely. “Why don’t we set a trap for the thief?” she suggested. “And catch this legless chicken thief once and for all!”

“Good idea,” agreed Samesh. “But what will we use as bait?”

“That’s easy!” exclaimed Binita, plucking her school bag off the branch. “A chicken. My Baba has a trap from the days he used to be a hunter. After school, I’ll come and show you how it’s used.”

To be continued...

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 10:25:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/a-legless-thief/article35533027.ece

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