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Once upon a time a stoat was so greedy that he would eat anything that came his way. But he was punished for his greed. He found some old stale eggs in a barn and, as usual, gobbled the lot.

However, he soon started to feel agonizing pains in his tummy, his eyes grew dim and he broke out in a cold sweat. For days, he lay between life and death, then the fever dropped. The first time he dared climb a tree to rob a nest, thin and weak with his trousers dangling over an empty stomach, he became dizzy and fell.

That is how he twisted his ankle. Sick with hunger, he limped about in search of food, but that made him feel even hungrier than before. Then good luck came his way. Although wary of venturing too close to human habitations, he was so hungry he went up to a tavern on the outskirts of the village. The air was full of lovely smells and the poor stoat felt his mouth watering as he pictured all the nice things inside.

An inviting smell coming from a crack in the wall seemed to be stronger than the others. Thrusting his nose into the crack, he was greeted by a waft of delicious scents. The stoat frantically clawed at the crack with his paws and teeth, trying to widen it.

Slowly the plaster between the blocks of rubble began to crumble, till all he had to do was move a stone. Shoving with all his might, the stoat made a hole. And then a really wonderful sight met his gaze. He was inside the pantry, where hams, salamis, cheeses, honey, jam and nuts were stored.

Overwhelmed by it all, the stoat could not make up his mind what to taste first. He jumped from one thing to another, munching all the time, till his tummy was full. Satisfied at last, he fell asleep. Then he woke again, had another feast and went back to sleep. With all this food, his strength returned, and next day, the stoat was strong enough to climb up to the topmost shelves and select the tastiest delicacies.

By this time, he was just having a nibble here and a nibble there. But he never stopped eating: he went on and on and on. By now, he was very full indeed, as he chattered to himself:

"Salami for starters . . . no, the ham's better! Some soft cheese and a spot of mature cheese as well . . . I think I'll have a pickled sausage too . .

In only a few days, the stoat had become very fat and his trouser button had popped off over a bulging tummy. But of course, the stoat's fantastic luck could not last for ever.

One afternoon, the stoat froze in mid-munch at the creak of a door. Heavy footsteps thumped down the stairs, and the stoat looked helplessly round. Fear of discovery sent him hunting for a way to escape.

He ran towards the hole in the wall through which he had come. But though his head and shoulders entered the hole, his tummy, which had grown much larger since the day he had come in, simply would not pass. The stoat was in a dangerous position: he was stuck! Two thick hands grabbed him by the tail.

"You horrid little robber! So you thought you'd get away, did you? I'll soon deal with you!"

Strange though it may sound, the only thought in the greedy stoat's head was a longing to be starving of hunger again . . .

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