Once upon a time there was a little girl living with her father in a small fishing village on a Greek island. Her name was Demetra.
Her father was a fisherman and everyday he took his boat and sailed away in the wild sea to catch some fish and sell it in order to earn some money for him and his little daughter.
One day, Demetra’s father did not return from the sea. Demetra was waiting and waiting, but he didn’t show up. The little girl was completely alone now. Her mother had died when she was a baby and now she lost her father too. She was very sad and didn’t know what to do.
She decided to go to the church and pray, because she had seen women do so when they were worried about people of their families who were out in the sea.
The church was on the top of a hill. Demetra got up early in the morning and followed the path that led through the forest to the church.
As soon as the little girl went into the forest, she saw a snake before her feet. She froze. And then the snake spoke: “Don’t be scared, I won’t bite you; you see people are afraid of me, because I’m so different from their pets, that’s why they think I’m evil and aggressive. What are you doing alone in the forest?”
Demetra explained everything to the snake and it said: “Don’t worry, I’ll come with you to the church. There is a little river next to it and I want to drink some water. This way, I can also keep an eye on you, since you’re so young and all alone in the forest.”
They walked for a while and then a fox appeared in front of them. The snake froze. The fox is one of its worst enemies but it didn’t want to leave Demetra alone. And then the fox spoke: “Little girl, tell to the snake to relax. I’m not going to attack it. It’s just a prejudice this entire thing about foxes and snakes being enemies. And as we cannot understand each other’s language, I cannot explain to it. Can you do it for me?”
Demetra replied: “I will tell everything you said to the snake, but you should know that I don’t like very much my self. My aunt has told me that foxes steal her chickens”. “She’s telling the truth” the fox said. “But I wouldn’t steal a single chicken, if my mom gave me an egg for breakfast every morning, like she does for her children. What are you doing in the forest all alone?”
Demetra explained everything to the fox and told the snake not to be afraid. The fox said: ”I will come with you to the church. There’s a grapevine there and I’m getting hungry. Besides, I may get a chance to become friends with the snake.
Sometime later they saw some hunters walking in the forest and hid, because if the hunters saw them, the fox would be in danger.
They kept walking and just a little before arriving to the church, a big bad guy appeared suddenly in front of them. He looked at them with an evil sneer on his ugly face and said: “I will make some good money from the snake’s skin, but I’ll make more from the fox’s fur…and as for the little girl… I will make a fortune!”
The fox bolted towards the direction where the hunters were and the snake attacked the man. The man howled with pain as the snake bit him and at the same time the hunters started firing their guns because the had seen the fox. When the man heard the gunfire, he got scared and ran away.
The priest, who was in the church, heard the gunfire, too and ran into the forest, where he found Demetra. “Demetra”, he said, “are you alright?”. “I heard people shooting! What are you doing all alone in the forest?”
“I came to pray because my dad is missing the last few days. He went fishing and hasn’t come back yet.”
“Demetra your dad has just come back. I just saw his boat arriving, you can see it too, from where we’re standing; look!” Demetra looked and as they were standing on the top of the hill she had a clear view of the island’s dock. Her father’s boat had indeed just pulled in. Feeling extremely relieved, she heard the priest say: “I will take you home, it’s very dangerous walking alone in the forest for such a little girl.”
“I wasn’t alone”, Demetra said. “You can find friends at the least likely places, as long as you are not afraid to let them come close to you.” The priest smiled approvingly and they took the way to her home…