Long, long ago, there lived two naughty fairies, named Trixy and Nixy. They, along with many other fairies, worked under the Fairy Queen, called May. The job of these two fairies was to paint or darken  spots or stripes on the animals. Trixy’s  job was to paint or darken stripes and Nixy’s job was to paint or darken spots.  Each morning, the animals would gather around the two fairies so that their spots and stripes could be touched up. The fairies would do their job happily, singing and dancing as they worked.

For the past few days, they had been noticing a cheetah, who would come to them to have his stripes darkened, even though they were dark enough. But the faries did not say anything . They would darken his stripes everyday. They watched him showing off his stripes to the other animals. He would preen in front of them saying, “ Look at my beautiful stripes. Aren’t they magnificient? I am quite sure I am the most beautiful animal that ever lived.”

The stripes looked so pretty on the cheetah that all the animals would have to agree .They would go home sadly, wanting to become as beautiful as the vain cheetah.

Stripes and spots

This continued for many days, till one day Trixy said to Nixy,” Have you noticed this cheetah? He comes to us everyday to get his stripes darkened and each time they are darkened, he steps out and starts showing off his beautiful stripes to all the animals.”

“Yes,” agreed Nixy. “And have you seen the expression on the other animals’ faces? They all look so sad. I’m sure they too want to be as pretty as the cheetah.” She sighed and continued. Have you seen that all the animals who had spots have stopped coming to me to darken their spots. Instead, they have started coming to you to get stripes painted instead of spots.”

“Yes , agreed Trixy. “ They look quite ugly.” I have even asked them why they want to change their spots to stripes and do you know what they all replied?”

“What?” asked Nixy.

“ Well, they said that the cheetah would come and tell them that his stripes were  more beautiful in comparison to their spots and that they should all get stripes too.”

Trixy looked at Nixy and said,” I have told them that they would not look nice with stripes but they all feel that if they get stripes, at least then the cheetah will not tease them and he would leave them alone.”

For a few minutes there was pindrop silence, as both Trixy and Nixy were deep in thought.

Suddenly, Trixy’s face lit up and she said,” Nixy, you know that we use temporary paint to darken the stripes of animals, don’t you?”

“ Of course I know that,”replied Nixy. “ What do you have in mind?”

“I have a plan,” smiled Trixy excitedly.

“What plan?” asked Nixy impatiently.

“Now listen carefully”, whispered Trixy. “When the cheetah comes today, we will  wash off his stripes as they have been painted with temporary paint, and then paint spots with permanent paint so he cannot wash them off.”

“ Brilliant,” replied Nixy. “But the cheetah will get to know that we are painting spots on him instead of stripes.”

“ Use your brains silly,” answered Trixy,” we are going to blindfold him”.

“But the cheetah won’t allow us to wash and then paint over his stripes. You know how particular he is ,” replied Nixy rather angrily.

“I’ll handle it,” replied Trixy and walked off.

The next day, their first customer was the zebra. While they were busy painting the zebra’s stripes, the cheetah walked in.

When it was the cheetah’s turn Trixy asked, “Mr.Cheetah, may we please blindfold your eyes?”

“Why?” asked the cheetah.

“So that you can close your eyes and rest them for a while”, replied Trixy.

“Well, go on then. As long as you paint my stripes,” replied the cheetah as he settled himself comfortably.

As soon as Nixy started washing off the stripes, the cheetah jumped up.

“Why are you washing off my stripes?” he screamed.

“Because we did not do a good job of painting you well last time,” said Trixy.

The cheetah believed them and waited patiently till the fairies had washed away the stripes completely.

Then, Nixy started to paint spots with permanent paint. After the job was completed, the cheetah didn’t bother to look back. He was in too much of a hurry to start showing off to all the other animals.

As soon as he said proudly, “Look at my beautiful dark stripes,” the zebra shouted in surprise, “Hey, cheetah, you don’t have stripes, you have spots!”

At once the cheetah turned around and was horrified to see spots on his back. He let out a loud howl and ran back to his den sobbing. He realised his mistake but by then it was too late. The animals were so fed up of his behaviour, nobody went to console him.

A few days passed and the cheetah realised that he now had to live with the spots. So he came out of his den and began apologising to the animals whom he had teased earlier. The animals felt sorry for him and consoled him saying that he looked beautiful even with spots. But the cheetah was not convinced and he wanted his stripes back.

He went back to the two fairies and apologised to them and requested them to paint his stripes back but Trixy explained that it was not possible as the spots had been painted with permanent paint.

Seeing the cheetah’s sad face, they felt sorry for him, so they decided to ask Queen May if he could get his stripes back.

Queen May thought for a while then said, “I cannot give the cheetah his stripes back, but I can give him something that he might really like.”

So the next morning the cheetah  was summoned in front of the Queen.

She said, “I cannot give you your stripes back but I can give you something else. Would you like the fastest running skills?”

The cheetah’s face lit up. “Of course,” he smiled. I would love it.

So Queen May granted him the fastest running skills.

He thanked the Queen and the fairies and went home happily.

So this is how the cheetah became the fastest running animal in the animal kingdom, but this time he was careful not to show off as he had learnt a bitter lesson from his past mistakes.

Instead, he began teaching other animals running skills and now everyone loved the cheetah and he became the most popular animal in the forest!

Stripes and spots
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