MYTHS AND ANCIENT STORIES
Enough is Enough!
The Fox in the Brothel
Enough is Enough!
The foxes which infested the house and grounds of Major Counselor Yasumichi’s old mansion were always making mischief, but since they never really did any harm Yasumichi let the matter pass. They got naughtier and naughtier as the years went by, though, until one day he angrily decided that enough was enough. Those foxes would have to go.
He announced a grand fox hunt to his household, for the next day. The servants were to bring bows and arrows, sticks, or whatever weapons they could devise, and flush out every last one. They would surround the house, and men would be posted not only on the garden wall but on the roof as well, and even in the space between the ceiling of the rooms and the roof. Every fox that showed itself would be killed.
Near dawn on the fateful day Yasumichi had a dream. A white-haired old man, looking rather like an aged menial, was kneeling under the tangerine tree in the garden, bowing respectfully to him.
“Who are you?” asked Yasumichi.
“Someone who has lived here in the mansion for many years, sir,” the old man answered nervously. “My father lived here before me, sire, and by now I have many children and grandchildren. They get into a lot of mischief, I’m afraid, and I’m always after them to stop, but they never listen. And now, sir, you’re understandably fed up with us. I gather that you’re going to kill us all. But I just want you to know, sir, how sorry I am that this is our last night of life. Won’t you pardon us, one more time? If we ever make trouble again, then of course you must act as you think best. But the young ones, sir — I’m sure they’ll understand when I explain to them why you’re so upset. We’ll do everything we can to protect you from now on, if only you’ll forgive us, and we’ll be sure to let you know when anything good is going to happen!”
The old man bowed again and Yasumichi awoke. When the sky had lightened, he got up and looked outside. Under the tangerine tree sat a hairless old fox which, and the sight of him, slunk under the house.
The perplexed Yasumichi gave up his fox hunt. There was no more troublesome mischief, and every happy event around the house was announced by a fox’s sharp bark.
A retainer who served the governor of Kai was heading home one sundown from the governor’s mansion when he saw a fox, gave chase and shot at it with the kind of noisemaker arrow used for scaring off dogs. He hit it in the back leg.
The fox yelped in pain, rolled over, and dove limping into the brush. As the retainer went to retrieve his arrow the fox reappeared in front of him, and he was about to shoot at it again when it vanished.
A quarter of a mile from home he saw the fox running ahead of him carrying a flaming brand in its mouth. What could it be up to? He spurred his horse on. On reaching the house, the fox changed into a human being and set the house on fire. The retainer was ready to shoot as soon as he got within range, but the human changed right back into a fox and got away. The house burned down.
Beings like that exact swift vengeance. It’s better to leave them alone.
The Fox In The Brothel
In a time of our honorable forefathers, there dwelt in a mean mountain village of Settsu Province a poor faggot-cutter who followed the way of Lord Buddha, taking no animal life fore the solace of his belly and praying as a devout man should for the eternal welfare of his spirit.
One day in a ravine he came upon a vixen, caught by the paw in a trapper’s snare, which with many a moan and with tears running down her muzzle para-para seemed to beseech him for succor, so that in pity he would have released her. But being minded to rob no honest man, he trudged a long ri down the mountain to his hut, and taking from a hiding place in the thatch a piece of silver, the fruit of weeks of toil, he returned to the ravine and set the vixen free, and wrapped the silver piece in a bit of cotton cloth, he tied it to the snare and went his way. The vixen, when he released her, fled not, but as thought understanding his heart, fawned upon his feet and licked his hands and followed him limping tobo-tobo to the mouth of the ravine, where she gave three sharp barks and sprang into the thicket.
Now on the third evening thereafter, as the man squatted in the mouth of his hut resting from the sweaty labor of the day, on a sudden there appeared before him a damsel, clad in a brown-silk robe, who called to him, and he, seeing her rare beauty and thinking her some great lady strayed from her cavalcade, prostrated himself before her and begged her pleasure. Said she: “Abase not thyself. I am the fox which thy humanity set free the other night from the snare, and whose life thou didst purchase with thy silver piece. I have take this form in order to requite thy favor as I may, and I will serve thee with fealty so long as thou dost live.” At which he cried: “Esteemed mistress of magic! Not for my unparalleled worthlessness is thy high condescension! I am eight times rewarded by this thy visit. I am but a beggarly forester and thou a repository of all beauty. I pray thee, make not sport of my low condition.” The said she: “Thou art a poor man. Suffer me at least to set thee on the way to wealth.” Asked he: “How may that be done?” She replied: “Tomorrow morning don thy best rob and thy stoutest sandals and come to the mouth of the ravine where thou didst rescue me. There thou shalt see me in my true form. Follow whither I lead and good fortune shall be thine. This I promise on the word of a fox.” At that he prostrated himself before the damsel in gratitude, and when he lifted himself she had vanished.
Next morning, when he came to the ravine, he found awaiting him the vixen, who barked thrice and turning, trotted before him, leading him by paths he knew not across the mountain. So they proceeded, she disappearing in the thicket whenever a chance traveler came in view, and he satisfying his hunger with fruits and berries and slaking his thirst from the rivulets, and at night sleeping under the starts. Thus the reaches of the sun wound up the days till on fourth noontide they descended into a vale where lay a city. At sundown they came to a grove hard by the city’s outer barrier where was a shrine to the fox deity, Inari. Before this the vixen barked thrice, and bounded through its door. And presently the woodsman beheld the damsel issuing therefrom, robed now in rich garments and beauteous as a lover’s dream leaping from the golden heart of a plum blossom.
Said she: “Take me now – who am they daughter – to the richest brothel in yonder city, and sell me to it’s master for a goodly price.” He answered: “Barter thee, to the red-hell hands of a conscienceless virgin-buyer? Never!” Then, with a laugh like the silver potari of a fountain, she said: “Nay, but they soul shall be blameless. So soon as thou hast closed the bargain and departed, I shall take on my fox shape in the garden and get me gone, and thus the reward shall be thine and evil intent shall receive its just deserts.”
So, as she bad him, he entered the city with her and inquiring the way to the quarter of houses of public women, came to it’s most splendid rendezvous, which was patronized only by brazen spendthrifts and purse-proud princes, where all night the painted drums went don-a-don and the samisen were never silent, and whose satiny corridors lisped with the shu-shu of the velvet foot-palms of scarlet-lipped courtesans. So great was the damsel’s beauty that a crowd trooped after them, and the master of the house, when he saw her, felt his back teeth itch with pleasure. The faggot-cutter told him his tale, as he had been prompted, averring that he was a man whose life had fallen on gloomy ways so that he who had been a man of substance was now constrained to sell his only daughter to bondage. At which the proprietor, his mouth watering at her loveliness and bethinking him of his wealthy clientele, thrust ink-brush into his fist and planked before him a bill-of-agreement providing for her three years’ service for a sum of thirty gold ryo paid that hour into his hand.
The woodsman would joyfully have signed, but the damsel put forth her hand and stopped him saying: “Nay, my august father! I joyfully obey thy will in this as in all else, yet I pray thee bring not reproach upon our unsullied house by esteeming me of so little value.” And, to the master of the place she said: “Methinks thou saidst sixty ryo.” He answered: “Were I to give a rin more than forty, I were robbing my children.” Said she: “The perfume I used in our brighter days cost me ten each month. Sixty!” Cried he: “A thousand curses upon my beggarly poverty, which constraineth me. Have mercy and take fifty!” At this she rose, saying: “Honorable parent, there is a house in a nearby street frequented, I hear, by a certain prince who may deem me not unattractive. Let us go thither, for this place seemeth of lesser standing and reputation than we had heard.” But the master ran and barred the door and, although groaning like an ox before the knacker, flung down the sixty gold ryo, and the woodsman set his name to the bill-of-agreement and farewelled her and went home rejoicing with the money.
Then the master, glad at the capture of such a peerless pearl of maidenhood, gave her into the care of his tire-woman to be robed in brocades and jewels, and set her on a balcony, where her beauty shone so dazzling that the halted palanquins made the street impassable, and the proprietor of the establishment across the way all but slit his throat in sheer envy. Moreover, the son of the daimyo of the province, hearing of the newcome marvel, sent to the place a gift of gold, requesting her presence at a feast he was to give there that same evening.
Now this feast was held in an upper room overhanging the river, and among the damsels who attended the noble guests, the fox-woman was as the moon to a horde of broken paper lanterns, so that the princely host could not unhook his eyes from her and each and every of his guests gave black looks to whoever touched her sleeve. As the sake cup took its round, she turned her softest smile now to this one and now to that, beckoning to each to folly till his blood bubbled butsu-butsu with passion and all were balanced on the thin knife-edge of a quarrel.
Suddenly, then, the lights in the apartment flickered out and there was confusion, in the midst of which the damsel cried out in a loud voice: “O my Prince! One of thy guests hath fumbled me! Make a light quickly and thou shalt know this false friend, for he is the one whose hat-tassel I have torn off.” But cried the Prince (for he was true-hearted and of generous mind): “Nay, do each one of you, my comrades, tear off his hat-tassel and put it on his sleeve. For we have all drunk overmuch, and ignorance is sometimes better than knowledge.” Then after a moment he clapped his hands, and lights were brought, lo, there was no hat left with a tassel upon it. At this, one of the young blades, laughing at the success of the artifice, began to sing the ancient song which saith:
The hat thou lovedst,
Reed-wove, tricked out with damask,
Ah me, hath blown away,
Into the Kamo River-
Blown amidst the current.
While I wandered seeking it,
While I wandered searching it,
Day-dawn cam, day-dawn came!
Ah, the sawa-sawa
Of that rustling night of autumn,
There by the water,
The spread-out, rustling water!
But the damsel, crying that with the affront unavenged she would not choose longer to live, ran into the next chamber and, stripping of her clothes, cast them from the window into the swift current, while she herself, taking on her fox form, leaped down and hid in a burrow under the riverbank. So the party of the Prince rushed in and, finding the window wide and her vanished and seeing the splendid robe borne away by the rushing water, deeming that she had indeed drowned herself, made outcry, and the master of the house plucked out his eyebrows, and his folk and the gallants put forth in many a boat, searching for her fair body all that night, but naught did they discover save only her loincloth.
Now on the fourth evening after that, as the faggot-cutter sat in his doorway, the damsel appeared before him, robed in a kimono of pine-and-bamboo pattern, with an obi of jeweled dragonflies tangled in a purple mist. Asked she: “Have I kept my fox-word?” He answered. “Aye, eight times over. This morning I purchased a plot of rich rice land, and tomorrow the builders, with what remaineth, begin to erect my mansion.” Said she then: “Thou art no faggot-cutter henceforth, but a man of substance. Look upon me. Wouldst thou not have me to wife?” But he, seeing how her carriage was as graceful as the swaying of a willow branch, her flawless skin the texture of a magnolia petal, her eyebrows like sable rainbows, and her hair glossy as a sun-tinted crow’s wing, and knowing himself for an untutored hind, knelt in abasement before her and said: “Nay, wise one! Doth the smutty raven mate with the snow-white heron?” Then she said, smiling: “Do my bidding once again. Tomorrow return to the city and to the brothel where thou didst leave me, and offer, as the bargain provided, to buy me back. Since the master of the house cannot produce me, he must need pay over to thee damage money, and see that thou accept not less than two hundred gold ryo.” So saying, she became a fox and vanished in the bushes.
So next morning he took his purse and crammed it with copper pieces and betook himself across the mountain, and on the third day he arrived at the city. There he hastened to the brothel and demanded its master, to whom he said, jingling the purse beneath his nose: “Good fortune is mine. For, returning to my village three days since to pay my obligations with thy sixty ryo, I found that my elder brother had died suddenly in the next province, leaving to me (since he was without issue) all his wide estates. So I am come to redeem my beloved daughter and to return thee thy gold plus the legal interest.” At that the master of the house felt his liver shrink and sought to put him off with all kinds of excuses, but the woodsman insisted the more, so that the other at length had no choice but to tell him that the girl had drowned herself. When he heard this the woodsman’s lamentations filled all the place, and he beat his head upon the mats hata-to, crying out that naught but ill treatment had driven her to such a course, and swearing to denounce the proprietor to the magistrates for a bloody murderer, till from dread to see his establishment sunk in evil repute, the man ran to his strongbox and sought to offer the breaved one golden solace. Thus, with two hundred more ryo in gold (for mindful of the maiden’s rede, he would take no less) the woodsman returned to his village, with an armed guard of ten men for an escort, where he rented a stout godown for the money’s safekeeping.
The night of his return, as he sat on his doorstep, thanking all the deities for his good luck, the fox-maiden again appeared before him, this time clad only in the soft moon-whiteness of her adorable body, so that he turned away his face from the sight of it. Asked she: “Have I kept my fox-word?” And he answered, stammering: “Eight hundred times! Today I am the richest man in these parts.” Said she: “Look upon me. Wouldst thou not posses me as thy concubine?” Then, peeping despite himself betwixt his fingers, he beheld the clear and lovely luster of her satiny skin, her breasts like twin snow-hillocks, her bending waist, and the sweet hidden curves of her thighs, and all his senses clamored like bells, so that he covered his eyes with his sleeve. And said he: “O generous bestower! Forgive the unspeakable meanness of this degraded nonentity. My descendants to the tenth generation shall burn richest incense before the golden shrine which I shall presently erect to thee. But I am a man and thou art a fox, with whom I may not knowingly consort without deadly sin!”
Then suddenly he saw a radiance of the five colors shine rainbow-like around her, and she cried out in a voice of exceeding great joy, saying: “Blessing and benison upon thee, O incorruptible one! As a fox I have dwelt upon the earth for five hundred years, and never before have I found among humankind one whose merit had the power to set me free. Know that by the virtue of thy purity I may now quit this animal road for that of humankind.” Then she vanished, and he built a shrine to her in the mouth of the mountain ravine, and it is told that his children’s grandchildren worship before it to this day.
On Fox Spirits
King of the Nine Mountains
On Fox Spirits
An essay by Galen Jang (the original webpage is no longer available except through the archive.org Wayback Machine)
All that I have learned about fox spirits are from magazine articles as well as stories from my grandparents, so this is by no way an authorative account. Anyone who knows more is welcome to contribute.
Fox spirits occupies the same mythological niche as the faerie in Western mythology. They are beautiful beyond endurance, elusive, powerful, mischievous and vindictive. In Chinese mythology, the human form is the pinnacle of creation. All animals, and sometimes plants seek to achieve human form on their way to immortality. Of these animals, foxes seem to succeed the most. They do this by abosrbing the essence of the moon and the sun. Some folklores maintain that fox achieves this by conducting rites of worhip during full moons. After a few centuries, they will acquire the ability to change into human form.
Most fox spirits in stories are female. They usually appear as extremely beautiful woman. The male fox spirits, rare as they are, appear either as erudite and handsome men or wise old men. You can tell a fox spirit from a human from their tails. Some of them have not quite mastered the human form. While the body looks human enough, the tail remains. They solve the problem by tucking their tail inside their pants. The ones who did master the human shape can be enticed to show their true form by getting them drunk. So if your friend remain human after a good night of drinking, you can believe that he’s human. 🙂 If they are killed, they revert to their original form. It’s the women who were dangerous. They usually seek to copulate with human males. They use the sexual act itself to absorb their partner’s energy in order to add to their own powers. Such relationships, if prolonged, result in sickness and eventually death for the man. So, if you see a beautiful woman who wants to have sex with you for no reason, watch out!
Most fox spirits are not as brazen as that. The fox spirits ordinary people have experienced are much more elusive. They live in the attics or some deserted room in a large house. You never see them. You know they’re there because of the noises they make. The difference between fox spirits noises and ghost noises is, of course, fox spirits make the noises day and night! Sometimes the fox spirits throw things, such as rocks and tiles, into the yard or against the door. You know people aren’t responsible for the disturbance because you can’t see anybody around the house. When a family is haunted by a fox spirit, they set up a shrine in the abandoned attic. Incense sticks are burned regularly. Sometimes food is also offered. Things usually quiet down after that. Most of the time, the fox spirits leave their landlords alone if the landlords leave them alone. Sometimes, the fox spirits will even take care of any thief or burglar who are foolish to rob such a house.
Pu Sung-Lin said that the belief of fox spirits were limited mainly to northern China. In southern China, the main belief is in a much more malevolent sort of spirit called Wu Tong. I will translate a Wu Tong story later. The spirit in the story “Story of Tseng Shi” may be a Wu Tong. However, the belief of Wu Tong seems to have died away in the south in the last two centuries. My grandparents grew up in Fujian which is defiitely southern China, yet the only spirit they know about is the fox spirit. The malevolent Wu Tong lost the war for the belief of human beings. Will the fox spirits now lose the belief of the human beings as well?
King of the Nine Mountains
Translated from Liao Tsai Chi Yi, found on Galen Jang’s now-defunct page (available at archive.org’s Wayback Machine).
There was a man surnamed Li living in T’sao Chou. He possessed the greatest wealth in town. Behind his mansion, he had an empty lot which was going to waste. One day, an old man came to him and offered to rent the property with one hundred pieces of gold. Li refused on the ground that the lot had no house on it. The old man said “Please accept the money and don’t worry about the rest.” Li didn’t understand, but he accepted the money just to see what would happen. After several days, the old man came to him and said “I already moved in, but we’re so busy setting up our new household that we neglected good manners. Today, my children shall prepare a banquet for you, the landlord. We hope you will grace us with your presence.” Li went to the lot and, to his surprise,discovered a brand new mansion there. As he entered, he saw that the inside was lavishly decorated and furnished. Jugs of wine lined the walkways and the scents of good tea wafted from the kitchen. As the banquet began, he was toasted by the old man. The wine tasted of the finest vintage. He saw and heard many men, women and children, maybe more than a hundred in total, living in the mansion. He then knew they could not be ordinary human beings, but fox spirits. As he returned from the banquet, he returned with death in his heart. He bought sulfur and other flammable material from the city market and, with the help of his servants, secretly placed them all around the new mansion. When he was finished, he ignited it. The fire blazed and sent black smoke upward toward the heavens like a black and evil mushroom. The smell of burning flesh and the screams of the dying filled the senses. When the fire died, he and his servants went into the wreckage. There they found the charred bodies of hundreds of dead foxes. While he was inspecting the carnage, the old man entered the mansion. The old man’s face was contorted with grief and anger. He said “I have never wronged you. I gave you hundreds pieces of gold in good faith. That is not a niggardy amount of money. How can you bury your conscience and slaughter us! I must avenge the cruel deaths of my family.” Then the old man left. Li thought the old man would just try some supernatural tricks on his family, such as throwing bricks at his house, but years passed and nothing happened.
Then tens of thousands of bandits gathered in a nearby mountain. The local officials could not gather enough forces to suppress them. Li worried about the safety of his large family as well as his rather large fortune. Then an astrologer who called himself the Old Man of Southern Mountain arrived at the town. The astrologer became famous because he seemed to know everything and everything he predicted came true. Li invited the astrologer to his home and asked his future fortunes. The astrologer stood up from his seat in respect and said “This is the true emperor!” Li was both afraid and astonished. Then he accused the astrologer of lying. The astrologer said “Since ancient times, all the dynasties are founded by emperors who came from common birth. Who among them are born emperor?” Li began to believe him. The astrologer offered to became Li’s military advisor and asked him to prepare armor and weapons. Li worried that no one will follow him. The astrologer said “I will go into the mountains and speak for the true emperor. I shall tell them of your grand destiny and the bandits will surely follow you.” Li became glad and sent the astrologer along. Li than began to prepare as the astrologer instructed. The astrologer returned a few days later and said “Your great prestige, plus my tongue have convinced all the bandits to follow you.” Li looked outside and saw thousands ready to follow him, so he made the astrologer into his chief advisor. He then made a great banner, proclaiming his own imperial status. He then fortified his positions in the mountains and the sound of his name shook the neighboring prefectures. When the prefecture sent an army against, Li’s army, the astrologer led the defense and easily destroyed the small government army. The prefecturl magistrate became sorely afraid and asked for help from the principality magistrate. The principality magistrate dispatched a larger and better equipped army. That army went into an ambush prepared by the astrologer and was again destroyed. The prestige of Li became great and his army swelled. He then styled himself the King of Nine Mountains. The astrologer told Li that the army needed horses. He told Li of a caravan transporting imperial horses from the capital. Li ambushed the caravan and took all the horses. His prestige swelled still more and so did his pride. Li now gave the astrologer the title of Lord Protector. As for himself, he believed that he would soon wear the dragon robe. The provincial governor was very alarmed by his robbery of the imperial horses. He received reinforcement from the imperial government. He divided his army into six columns and attacked Tsao Chou. The banner of the imperial army filled the mountain valleys around the King’s fortress. The King of Nine Mountains became afraid and asked the astrologer for more advise, but his subordinates could not find the astrologer. The great king looked down on his enemies and said “I never realized how powerful the imperial government is.” Soon, his fortress was broken and he was captured. Because he commited the crime of attempted usurpation as well as banditry, Li and his entire family were executed. It was only then he realized that the astrologer was the old fox he betrayed.
Commentary from Historian of the Strange
When a man and his family goes into banditry, does he deserve death? Even if he deserves death, does his family deserve death too? Yet the scheme of the fox is indeed cunning . When there is no seed, even the best irrigation could not bring forth growth. Look at the way Li exterminated the family of fox spirits From his cruelty we know that he already has the heart of a bandit, so the old fox merely helps that heart to grow in order to achieve vengeance. Suppose someone comes up to you and says “You’re the true emperor.” I’m sure you will run away in fear. When a person hears that he may commit an act which will result in the death of his entire family and yet he listens to it gladly, then how can he blame anyone when his family dies? Yet, some people still make this kind of mistake. The first time they hear something that will harm them in the long run, they became angry, then doubtful, then gullible, until they lose their honor, their fortune and their lives.
Aztec / Mayan:
Why the Fox has a Huge Mouth
The Dancing Fox
Kajortoq, the Red Fox
Why the Fox has a Huge Mouth
One day many years ago, at a time when his mouth was still small and dainty, as in fact it used to be, the fox was out walking and happened to notice a huaychao singing on a hilltop. Fascinated by the bird’s flute-like bill, he said politely, “What a lovely flute, friend Huaychao, and how well you play it! Could you let me try it? I’ll give it back in a moment, I promise.”
The bird refused. But the fox was so insistent that at last the huaychao lent him its bill, advising him to sew up his lips except for a tiny opening so that the ‘flute’ would fit just right.
Then the fox began to play. He played on and on without stopping. After a while the huaychao asked for its bill back, but still the fox kept on. The bird reminded him, “You promised. Besides, I only use it from time to time; you’re playing it constantly.” But the fox pain no attention and kept right on.
Awakened by the sound of the flute, skinks came out of their burrows and climbed up the hill in a bustling throng. When they saw the fox playing, they began to dance.
At the sight of the dancing skunks, the fox burst out laughing. As he laughed, his lips became unstitched. His mouth tore open and kept on tearing until he was grinning from ear to ear. Before the fox could regain his composure, the huaychao had picked up his bill and flown away. To this day the fox has a huge mouth – as punishment for breaking his promise.
The Dancing Fox
Foxes love to dance. They dance in the dark with young women who slip quietly from their beds and come running out into the night.
But the fox who dances must wear a disguise. He must hide his long, bushy tail. He must wrap it around him and stuff it inside his trousers, though when he does he is really too warm. He perspires. Yet still he is able to dance.
Now, one of these foxes was young and amorous, and he never missed the nightly dancing. Toward morning, however, as the cock began to crow, he would always hurry away.
This fine fox was a subtle flatterer, a favorite with all the young women. Each of them wanted to dance with him. And as it happened, one or another would sometimes feel slighted and grow resentful.
One of them once, in a fit of pique, drew her companions aside and pointed out that the fox always left before dawn. Who was he? And why did he run away?
The young woman wondered. Then they made up their minds to catch him and hold him until it was daylight.
The next night, when it was fully dark, they made their circle and began to dance. Soon the fox appeared, as usual disguised as a young man in shirt and trousers. Suspecting nothing, he danced and sang. The girls made him heady with their caresses, and he became more spirited and more flattering than ever.
As soon as the cock crowed, he started to leave. “No, no,” they all cried, “don’t go! Not yet! The cock crows six times. You can stay till the fifth.”
The dancing continued, and there were more caresses. The fox forgot that he had to leave, and at last the white light of dawn appeared. Frightened, he tried to flee. But the young women held him. They entangled him in their arms. Then suddenly, with a growl, he bit their hands, leaped over their heads, and ran.
As he leaped, his trousers ripped open and out flew his tail. The girls all shrieked with laughter. They called after him and mocked him as he ran out of sight, his long, bushy tail waving between his legs. Then he disappeared and was seen no more. He never came back again.
Kajortoq, the Red Fox
One Summer day, Kajortoq, the red fox, left her brood of cubs in the den and went out in search of something to eat. On a vast plain she met Aklaq, the brown bear, and said: “Cousin, it has been a long time since I last saw you! What is the matter with you?”
“I am hungry,” replied Aklaq.
“Me too. I really am,” said Kajortoq. “Let’s hunt together. You go this way and I shall go that way.”
“There is nothing this way but ptarmigan,” complained Aklaq, “and they are afraid of me. Every time I get close to them they fly away.”
“It is easy for me to catch them,” remarked the fox. “But,” she added, “I am afraid of men.”
“I am not afraid of men,” said Aklaq, “but I am unable to catch ptarmigan.”
“In that case,” declared Kajortoq, “wait for me here; I shall go and get you some ptarmigan. I shall not be long.”
Aklaq waited and Kajortoq soon returned with a few ptarmigan. The brown bear was full of joy and thanked his companion again and again. He was very hungry and ate the ptarmigan at once. When he had finished he said, “You were very kind to bring me some ptarmigan. In return I shall now bring you a man. Wait for me here.”
Kajortoq waited but the bear took a long time to return, and when he did arrive he had no man. Instead he staggered along; he was losing blood and behind him the ground was red. A man had shot an arrow at him and had wounded him in the side. The shaft of the arrow had broken and the point remained in the flesh.
Kajortoq sympathized: “Cousin, I feel sorry for you. Let me take care of you.” Kajortoq built a stone fireplace, lit a fire, and heated some stones.
“Stretch out here,” she told the bear. “Stretch your legs and even if I hurt you, do not move. If you stir, you will die because I shall not be ale to remove the arrow.”
The bear stretched on the ground. The fox took a red hot stone from the fire and applied it to the wound pushing harder and harder on it. Aklaq moaned and howled with pain, but soon the howls stopped; he was dead.
Kajortoq stood on her hind legs and danced around the bear, laughing loudly: “I can brag to myself. No one could do this but I. I have enough to eat for a long time.” The fox did not return to her lair but remained at this place for the duration of the summer, feeding herself on the meat of the bear.
When winter came she had run out of provisions. The bear had all been eaten; there was nothing left but the bones. She placed them in a pile and buried them under some boulders.
A while later she saw Amaroq, the wolf, coming toward her and went to meet him. “How are you, cousin?”
“Not too well,” answered Amaroq, “I am very hungry.”
“Have confidence in me,” said Kajortoq. “I shall show you what you have to do to get some food. Do you see that river in front of us?” She pointed to a nearby river covered with a thin coating of ice. Here and there water could be seen through holes in the ice.
“Go over there,” suggested Kajortoq. “Try to catch come trout. I am going to make you a fish hook. All you have to do is sit near the hole, tie the hook to your tail and let it sink to the bottom. Remain seated and do not move until the sun sets. At that time you will pull in your hook. There will be a trout caught on it. Believe me, that is how I caught mine.”
The wolf sat beside the hole without moving. Meanwhile, the red fox set out along the shore saying that she was going to look for something to eat. Instead she hid behind a small hill to watch the wolf, but being careful that he not see her.
Amaroq stayed where he was for the entire day, confidently awaiting the results of his fishing. By the time the sun had reached the west he realized he had caught nothing. He growled in anger, “Kajortoq lied to me. I am going to run after her and eat her!”
He tried to get up but his tail was stuck to the ice. He pulled on it again and again until all of a sudden it came free; his tail had broken. Frothing with rage and bleeding profusely, the wolf searched the plain for traces of Kajortoq. The fox, however, had slipped away to hide in her hole.
The wolf soon discovered her den and cried, “Come out of your hole so that I can eat you!”
“What are you saying?” answered Kajortoq, sticking her head out of her den to look. As she did so she bent her head to one side and kept one of her eyes closed. “I have never seen you before. What do you want?”
“You deceived me today and I have lost my tail. Now I am going to eat you!”
“I know nothing about that,” replied Kajortoq emerging from her hole. “Did you ask that red fox over there? It must be him. I heard someone pass my door a little while ago.”
Impatiently, the wolf left Kajortoq to run after the other red fox. Kajortoq saw him go and kept watching until the wolf fell from his wound. By the next morning, having lost all of his blood, Amaroq was dead. Kajortoq stood up on her hind legs and started dancing in circles around him. “I can boast to myself. No one could do this but I.”
She lived on the wolf all of that winter. When she had eaten all his flesh, she made a pile of the bones and went elsewhere in search of food.
One day she saw coming toward her a brown female bear who looked larger and more terrifying than any bear Kajortoq had ever seen.
The bear addressed the fox angrily. “Did you know my son? He left last spring to hunt but he did not come back. I have found his bones near this hill.”
I know nothing about it,” answered Kajortoq. “I did not see him. I shall follow you and you can show me where his bones are.”
They left together. The fox recognized the place where she had killed Aklaq. Seeing that the female bear was crying Kajortoq pretended to be full of sorrow.
“Tears won’t help you,” she told the mother bear. “I believe I know who killed your son. Wait here awhile for me.”
Kajortoq climbed to the top of a hill. From this vantage point she looked in all directions and saw another brown bear. She returned in haste to the female bear and said, “The one who killed your son is over there. Go and attack him. He is big and strong but I shall help you.”
While the bears fought Kajortoq jumped around pretending to help. In fact, she only spattered blood on her hair. At length the female bear killed the other bear. The turned to the fox and said gratefully, “You helped me, thank you. Take all this meat. I am tired and wounded and do not want any of it.” The bear started homeward, but died of her wounds before she was out of sight.
Kajortoq once again danced for joy and was happy. The two bears would provide plenty of meat for a long time to come.
The Fox and the Little Prince
Reynard the Fox and Isengrin the Wolf
Reynard the Fox – a Medieval Tale Retold
The Fox and the Little Prince
From Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince
Courtesty a reader submission (thanks, Shoku Shitsu!)
Le Petite Prince, there was a very important story that the little prince told the aviator. The Little Prince was a child from another very small planet, and when he was bored, sad, or tired of his red rose bossing him around…he would hop on comets and visit other planets. Each planet had a differnt person on it that confused him: greedy, selfish, angry, skinflints or non-imaginative grown ups. The main thread that runs in the entire story and why the Little Prince continues to love and explore is taught to him by NOT a human or a plant, but a red fox. The Little Prince was in a French countryside, and wandered through a feild. He hadn’t seen anyone for miles, and the last person he talked to was a grown up that told him to go away, since he was so busy. So the Little Prince is all alone in this meadow, in the middle of noplace, lonely, bored, and sad. All of a sudden, a small tuft of gold and red fur peaks up behind the grass mounds, and the Little Prince asks the air….”Who’s there?”
A very reluctant fox peaks his head up better for the Prince to see him. Of course, the The Little Prince never saw a fox, and was curious. “What are you? You’re Pretty to look at.” The Fox is puzzled, and asks the boy: “You don’t know what I am? You’re not sent by the farmer to trick me?” The Little Prince looks confused now, and shakes his head. The fox continues: “I’m a Fox. Who are you?” The Fox maintains his distance….not going close to the Little Prince at all. The Prince tells the fox who he is, and where he is from; a small planet very very far away. The fox looks at him as if he just told him an ordinary fact. The Fox asks: “are there any farmers where you live?” the Prince says no. The Fox asks: “are there any guns?” The Prince says no,”Just me, my little plants, my small volcanoes, and my Red Rose under glass.” The fox smiles, and says: “That sounds perfect. Are there any chickens?” The Prince says no. The fox says: “Well, no place is perfect then.” The Little Prince get restless, and asks if he can pet the fox. The fox tells him no. “I can’t be petted or played with, and you can never be more than an aquaintance.”
Sad, but not discouraged, the Little Prince asks the fox why, because he’s lonely, and hasn’t had anyone to talk with or play with him in ages. The Fox shakes his head, and says: “I’m not tame. I can’t trust anyone, and all I care about right now is hunting chickens, so I don’t have time to be tamed.” The Little Prince asks what “tame” means. The Fox smiles, and explains:” It takes a very long time. It can’t be done in minutes. You’d have to invest a lot of your free time, and sacrifice your own wishes to succed. You need to show you’re trustworthy and special. ” The Little Prince doesn’t understand. He asks, ” What do you mean special? What do you mean time, and trustworthy?” The Fox continues:
” It means, you have to make a promise. And keep it everyday. It’s a sacrifice, but I suppose hunting chickens will bore me soon, and you have free time to spare, so…I’ll let you tame me. You must come here, to this meadow everyday at the same time. Sit at the edge of that feild at that same time, in the same spot. I will stay here, in my spot everyday, at the same time. Soon, I will come closer. But you will stay in your spot, and will not move. One day, I’ll be right in front of you. Then, perhaps the next day after that, I will talk with you. And everyday after that we will talk. Then, I will let you pet me. Then…one day…I will play with you.”
The Little Prince shakes his head. “Why would it take so long? I’m lonely now.”
The Fox answers, “You won’t understand now. But if you keep your promise, and show up here everyday, and sit there at the same time everday, I will one day have something to look foward to, as will you.”
The Little Prince reluctantly agrees, having nothing else to do, and being curious just the same.
The next day, he comes to the feild and sits in a spot. The Fox shows up a little later, sitting far at the other end of the meadow, by he trees
hidden from the The Little Prince’s gaze. This continues for a week, then 2, finally after about a month or so, the Little Prince and the Fox are playing, and good freinds. They talk about everything and nothing…they run around and play tag and other games…The Little Prince tells the Fox about his Red Rose on his tiny planet; he reveals how she is cruel to him, snobby, and selfish. She only opens her petals for him, and depsite how rude she is sometimes, he still has to take care of her, and he still is overjoyed when he is by her.He then tells of his anger when he realzied she lied to him. She told him she was the only rose of her kind, that no other flower was as beautiful as her. But he saw a whole garden filled with red roses JUSt like her! He was hurt, and knows how sad she’ll be to know she’s not special at all. The Fox listens to all of this, and everyday, when their visit is over, he leaves to his den. weeks pass…
The next time they meet, The Fox tells the Little Prince he can no longer come to the field and see him anymore.
The Little Prince is frantic, afraid he said something to hurt the fox’s feelings.
The Fox shakes his head. “There is no use to cry…or beg me to stay. You’ve tamed me, and now I have to return to the wild again. I won’t ever be the same again, because out of all the humans, you have treated me the kindest. I promised you I would tell you why we had to take so long to tame me…Men have forgotten that ‘what is essential to life, cannot be observed by the eye. ‘ Only what we feel in our hearts is what lasts, what’s real. By taming me, you made this time special to me, on what would ordinarliy be just another day, or you–just another human. You are now special to me, the way your Rose is special to you. No one can understand this, because over all the humans in the world, you are the only one I befreinded, the only one I will remember. Now, everyday at the same time I will think of you. And everyday at the same time, you will think about me. Never let anyone tell you your rose is ordinary, for only she has tamed you, and only you are special to her, thus, she is unique to your heart.”
The Little Prince cried and cried, not wanting to part with his new freind. He asked, “What is the meaning of making friends that you tame if you lose them?”
The Fox replied one last time, “It will always matter to me. Remember, ‘what is essential in life cannot by observed by the eye.’ ” And then, the fox smiled, then ran off into the forest again, this time, not to return….
And the Little Prince left the feild sadly…and for a few days, he returned, looking to see if teh Fox would be there again by chance. Finally, he moves on to the next place…and comes to the same garden of roses he found that day… He stands defiantley at them all:
“All of you are useless, ugly, and ordinary! My rose is the most beautiful and unique flower in the universe, and she is specail to me, and I to her…!
Reynard the Fox and Isengrin the Wolf
(submitted by Jamie Kakacek)
Reynard the Fox wanted a drink. It was hot and he had been running all day.
It was night when he came across a well; there was a big moon in the sky. The Fox could see a bucket at the top of the well. But there was no water in the bucket.
Reynard looked into the well and could see the water at the bottom. The Fox jumped into the bucket and down he went to the bottom of the well. And as the bucket went down into the well, the other bucket came up to the top of the well.
The Fox drank all the water he wanted. Then he found that he could not get out of the well. The other bucket had gone to the top of the well.
“If someone would only get into the bucket at the top of the well,” said Reynard to himself, “that bucket would come down to the bottom of the well and the bucket that I am in would go to the top.”
It was while Reynard was talking to himself that Isengrim the Wolf looked over the edge of the well.
“I thought I heard someone talking down there,” said Isengrim.
“Hello, my good friend,” called Reynard.
“What are you doing down in the well?” asked Isengrim.
“I am having a great feast,” called Reynard. “Can’t you see the big cheese I am eating? It is so big that I cannot eat all of it.”
Isengrim the Wolf looked into the well. He saw the reflection of the big yellow moon and he thought it was a big cheese.
“Get into the bucket and come down and have a feast with me,” called Reynard.
Reynard had played many tricks on Isengrim and the wolf did not trust him. He looked down into the well again. There he saw what he thought was a big yellow cheese. And he began to want some of that cheese very much.
“On your way home,” called Reynard, “stop at my house and send my wife and children to me I would like them to have some of this cheese.”
“I would like to have some of that cheese, too,” said Isengrim. And the wolf got into the bucket.
Down went Isengrim to the bottom of the well. And as he went down to the bottom, the bucket with Reynard in it came to the top.
“Have a good feast on the cheese!” called Reynard.
When the bucket reached the top of the well the fox jumped out and ran home.
Isengrim, at the bottom of the well, howled and howled. Some farmers came and threw stones down into the well. When morning came, Isengrim the Wolf was dead.
External Resource: Reynard the Fox – a Medieval Tale Retold by David Dickenson
A collection and retelling of several Reynard the Fox stories. Some text available on-line,. the rest is available for order on CD-ROM via the website.
The Salt Peddler and the White Fox
The Fox Girl
The Salt Peddler and the White Fox
(This story was originally posted on Dr. Jason N. Joh’s page of Korean legends and folk tales. Since that page is now only available from the Wayback Machine, we are reprinting it here).
(NOTES): People who are judged to be merely cunning, sly and clever are often kept at a distance, sometimes hated, and even feared. Whatever the original reasons may have been, the fox is a symbol for such a disgusting person. The longer they live, the more cunning and slyer they would become. The longer the fox lives, so is it believed, the more disgusting it becomes by acquiring evil supernatural power. In this story of a salt peddler and a fox, a simple, ordinary poor peddler fights with courage the evil spirit, symbolized by the old fox, and wins. The death of the fox may be the death of human meanness, a base, ignoble quality of man, which is good only for making others hurt and miserable.
Long, long ago, there was a salt peddler who was very poor. One day, as he had been doing everyday, he left his house early in the morning with a sackful of salt on his back. He travelled from one village to another, peddling salt to the villagers. After his last visit for the day to a remote village, he headed for home. He was virtually dragging his feet due to exhaustion from the day’s work. He was still far away from his home when dusk settled in. It became completely dark in the middle of a rugged mountain with the dense growth of brushes and trees. Overwhelmed by fatigue and darkness, he could proceed any longer; so, he looked around to find some shelter for the night.
After a while, a huge rock caught his eye, He managed to reach the rock, whose top could be seen against the night sky. He put down his empty A-frame back carrier. He then noticed a cave-like hollow spot at a corner of the underside of the rock. The cave was large enough for him to crawl into and stretch himself; so, he settled in for the night. His eyelids became heavier and heavier. He was about to fall asleep, when he heard a strange sound. He became wide awake. So frightened was he that his hair stood on end. “What could it be?” With both jaws pressed against each other and holding his breath, he peered into the dark. He could not see anything unusual. He stuck out his head slightly. He could hear the sound more distictly. it was a faint voice of a woman.
Since it was unmistakably a human voice, he felt a little relieved. “But, what is she doing at this time of the night and in this rugged mounatin?” Curious, he crawled out of the cave to look around. However, he could not see a woman or anything else unusual. So, he came back to his shelter and lay down, hoping to sleep.
The salt peddler tried to forget everything and was ready to sleep, when he heard something, again. It sounded even more strange coming from somewhere above. He crawled quietly out of the cave, again, and looked up at the top of the rock. And he almost screamed! He saw a white fox, with her long tail drooping, sitting on top of the rock and grinding a human skull against the surface of the rock. The peddler was all but petrified at the frightful sight. But with all the courage he could muster, he crawled ever quietly toward a big tree nearby and watched every move of the fox behind it. The fox apparently did not notice him. She kept grinding the skull, occasionally turning it and apparently making it into some kind of container. After a while, the
fox was trying the skull container on her head and, when it did not fit well, she muttered with an irritated voice. She kept grinding and then tried it on, again. She repeated these several times, until finally she was satisfied. “Now, it fits! It’s perfect.” She wore the skull container and made several tumbling feats like an accomplished acrobat.
The whole scene gave the peddler icy chills in his spine. Though scared and shaking, he was staring at the fox so that he would not miss anything she did. After several more tumbling feats, the white fox suddenly disappeared and, instead, there stood a stooped old woman. Tidying up her hair, she talked to herself: “Oh, dear me, I’m a little late; they must be waiting for me anxiously.” Then, she jumped down and started walking toward the village the peddler visited last that day.
The peddler soon became more curious than frightened, and decided to follow the old woman. Often he had to run to catch up with her. When the granny finally reached the village, she went straight into the house of the wealthiest in the village. “Here I am…finally!” When she announced her arrival, there was a commotion in the house, people dashing out to meet and greet her and asking why she was so late. The old woman seemed to know why she was expected there. She went straight into the room reserved for the housewife and her guests.
The peddler then approached the gate and asked for an overnight stay. Well known to the villagers, he was led to a male guest room across the women’s living quarters. It was close to mid-night. The peddler lay down on the floor, trying to listen to every sound coming from the women’s room across a small court yard. He could hear only indistinguishable noises. After a while, everything quieted down. Then, suddenly, there was a loud gong sound, followed by someone chanting incantations with intermittent interruptions by low, steady gong sounds. The peddler could swear that the chanting voice he heard was that of the old fox-woman. He sensed that something terribly wrong was going on in that room. “Without knowing the real identity of that old woman, they are letting her chant spells. The old fox must be cursing on someone, pretending to be exorcising some evil spirit,” he thought. He felt he must do something about it. Just then, a farmhand of the house came into the room to sleep. “What’s going on there? Is anybody ill?” asked the peddler. The farmhand casually said that because the old master of the household suddenly fell seriously ill, the family invited the granny, an old acquaintance who had the reputation of being the magic chanter in the vicinity, for her service. He hardly said that before he started snoring. Things were as the peddler had suspected. Except for occaslonal gong sounds, it was rather quiet. Perhaps, family members all fell asleep.
The salt peddler came out of the guest room and tiptoed across the court yard toward the women’s quarters. The old woman’s chanting was almost imperceptively low and mumbled. He stepped quietly up onto the wooden floor and sat in front of the paper-pasted sliding door of the room. Wetting his forefinger and gently pushed it through the paper door. Then he peeped into the room through the hole. All but the old woman were sleeping. The old fox-woman was still chanting spells with her eyes closed and with a gong stick in her right hand. The peddler listened carefully to her chantings in order to discern what was being said. “…this is mine, my feast… if this old stock … Dies…. Die…die…hurry up and die! After you are dead, your soul, too, will be mine. Die! Die! Hurry up and go to hell! The sooner…, the better….” This old witch must be smiling, too, though the peddler could not see it.
The peddler felt indignation. It was upsetting to see the family members sleep without knowing what was really going on. He could not merely sit there doing nothing about it. He slipped down from the floor and went to a storage room. He came out with a wooden pestle and dashed into the family room. Everyone got up from sleep and looked at this mid-night intruder with a pestle in his hand. Without a single word, the peddler struck the old chanter hard on the head with the pestle. Everyone in the room jumped up and stepped aside, astonished and dumbfounded. And the old fox-woman fell flat with the barking sounds of a fox, and turned back into a white fox with a cracked human skull on its head. While all this was happening everyone in the whole house gathered in the room, looking at one another and at the blood-covered fox. The peddler then told them about what had happened since that evening in the mountain. “How horrible! It was close! The master would have died….”
Next morning, the old master recovered as suddenly as he had fallen ill. The salt peddler was richly rewarded by the master, and from that day on he lived happily without having to peddle salt any longer.
The Fox Girl
From Korean Folktales by James Riordan
There was once a wealthy man who had a son but no daughter. So badly did he want a daughter that he spent much of his time praying at temples and consulting fortunetellers. Finally, his prayers were answered and a girl was born: she was the apple of her fathers’ eye and could do no wrong.
When she was fifteen years old, the girl went mushrooming on the mountainside and was so engaged in her task that she did not notice the gathering shadows of dusk. Meanwhile, at home, her parents were becoming anxious, and they formed a search-party to comb the hills. However, just as they reached the top of a ridge they spotted the girl through the gloom in the valley below. Her father was much relieved.
‘Where have you bee, my dear?’ asked her father ‘We were so worried for you; a wild beast could have killed you.’
‘Forgive me, Father,’ she replied. ‘I was so tired I fell asleep beneath a bush; when I awoke the sun was already going down.’
The incident was soon forgotten. But a few days later a strange thing happened: one of the master’s cows died in the night. Next night another died, then another. The bodies showed no sign of wound or illness. The master was so concerned he ordered the cowherd to keep watch all through the night to catch the culprit.
That night, the man hid behind some hay in the corner of the cowshed and waited patently. At midnight he was astonished to see the master’s daughter creep into the shed and approach a cow. Anxiously he watched her oil her hands and arms with sesame oil; then to his horror, she slipped her arm into the cow’s belly and pulled out its liver. And she ate it.
The poor cow rolled over and died.
In the morning the cowherd went to the master and recounted all he had seen.
The father, who loved his daughter with all his hear, shouted angrily at the man, ‘How dare you invent such wicked stories against my daughter. You will pay for these lies.’
And the man was dismissed.
Next night a second cowherd was set to guard the cows. He too hid behind some hay and witnessed the daughter’s odd conduct: she oiled her hands and arms, thrust one arm into the cow’s belly, pulled out the liver and ate it. And the cow rolled over and died.
Next morning he went to the master and told him the story.
The father still would not believe such tales of his beloved daughter. So the man was dismissed.
A third herdsman spent the night in the cowshed and reported all he had seen. He too was sacked.
Thus it continued: each night a cow died. Then, when no cows were left, the pigs began to die, and then the horses all of the same mysterious ailment. In the end, all the cowherds, swineherds, and stable boys were dismissed and no one from the village would work for the rich man. All that was left of the once-mighty herd of cattle was a solitary old horse.
Next night, the master sent his only son to solve the mystery. The young man concealed himself behind some hay and kept watch. In the middle of the night he heard footsteps and the barn door opened. It was his sister stealthily entering. In his relief, he was about to cry out to her. Yet something in her look stopped him: her eyes were sly and narrow, her thin lips cruelly curled, her face stony and stern.
He stared in disbelief as she greased her arms and thrust them into the horse’s belly, pulling out its liver. With blood dripping from her lips, she then chewed and swallowed the steaming meat.
He dared not breath until she had returned to the house.
At dawn he called his father into the barn and showed him the dead horse.
‘Father,’ he said grimly, ‘you will not like what you hear; but I must tell you the truth. It is my sister. She it is who came in the night and ate the horse’s liver.’
His father stared at him with hurt and anger in his eyes. He was silent for a moment, then shouted at his son, ‘you must be madly jealous of you sister to make up such tales. No doubt you fell asleep and had a nightmare. Get out of my sight, I don’t want you in my house.’
Not knowing where to go, the disconsolate son wandered off into the hills. After several months he came upon an old monk struggling across a mountain stream. Having helped the monk to safety, he was invited to stay the night at a nearby temple. And there he told the story of this sister. The old man nodded sadly.
‘Yes, I understand,’ he said. ‘That night, when your sister was in the hills, she must have been eaten by a fox who took her form, the very likeness of your sister. So it was really the fox who killed the animals.’
‘Then I must return at once,’ the lad exclaimed, ‘and warn my parents.’
‘I fear it is too late,’ said the old monk. ‘Morning is wiser than evening. Set out tomorrow.’
Next morning, the young man was given three small bottles: red, green, and blue.
‘Take this horse,’ said the monk, ‘and use the bottles as I have instructed.’
With that the boy thanked the monk and rode off down the mountain track. It was several days before he arrived home. Once there, he could hardly believe his eyes: the house and yard were overgrown with weeds. And there, in the middle of the yard, was his sister, sitting in the sun, catching lice and worms, and eating them.
‘My dear brother,’ she cried on seeing him. ‘Where have you been all these months? How I’ve missed you.’
She went to hug and kiss him, but he drew back in alarm.
‘Where are Father and Mother?’ he asked.
‘They lie in their graves,’ she replied, giving no explanation for their deaths.
Realizing that she had eaten them too, the young man knew he had to escape before she killed him as well but how? Suddenly he had an idea.
‘Dear Sister, I have come a long way and I’m very hungry,’ he said. ‘Could you prepare a meal?’
He thought he would escape while she was cooking. But the fox girl was cunning.
‘Assuredly, dear Brother. But I shall tie a rope to your leg and the other end to my waist.’
She left him in the yard while she went to prepare some food; every now and then she tugged on the rope to make sure he had not run away. After some time he managed to undo the knot, tie the rope to a gatepost and ride swiftly away on his horse. It was some time before the fox girl realized she had been tricked.
She rushed after him with the speed of a fox and it was not long before she was gaining on him. He glanced back and, to his horror, saw her rapidly catching him up, reaching out her hand to grasp his horse’s tail. Recalling the old monk’s instructions, he swiftly took the little red bottle from his pocket and threw it behind him.
The bottle instantly burst into a ball of red fire, blocking the fox girl’s path. Although the flames singed her hair and clothes, she raced round the fire and was soon overtaking her brother again. This time he threw down the green bottle and straightaway a dense green bush of brambles sprang up, barring her way. Although she was scratched and bleeding from the thorns, she fought her way through and began to catch up with the fleeing brother.
Just as she was about to grab the horse’s tail, however, he took out the blue bottle and desperately cast it behind him. This time it formed a mighty blue lake that soon engulfed the fox girl who splashed and thrashed in the water before sinking below the waves.
As the brother watched from the shore, he saw the dead body of the fox float to the surface of the lake. At last he had killed the fox who had taken his sister’s form.
The Fox and the Fishes
In the morning of the world, says an old Jewish Legend, the vast seas were empty except for the huge bulk of the monster Leviathan, lurking at the bottom of the ocean. He was a king without subjects until the Angel of Death was sent to populate the seas by drowning one member of every species of land creature and transforming it into a fish.
The fox determined that he would outsmart the Angel of Death and cheat the Leviathan. As he sat on a bank beside the sea, contemplating his watery future and wondering how he could escape it, his reflection gave him his cue just as the shadow of Death fell upon him.
Instantly, the fox burst into tears and loud lamentations.
“Why do you cry, Fox?” asked the Angel, impatient to get on with his work.
“I am mourning my friend,” said the fox, sobbing. “As your shadow passed over him, he threw himself into the sea in his haste to join the Leviathan’s legions. There he is now.” The fox waved sadly at the creature in the water who waved sadly back at him.
“Good, good,” said the Angel, and flew away.
All went well for the fox until a year later when his deception was discovered by Leviathan himself. During the counting of the fish, he realized that there was no fox fish among them. Displeased, Leviathan lashed his dragon-tail through the waters, demanding to know why. The timid parrot fish told how the fox had tricked the Angel of Death.
“Bring me the fox alive,” the Leviathan commanded the catfish. “I wish to eat his heart and thereby gain his cleverness. Tell him that I am dying and wish to make him King of the Fish in my place.”
The catfish soon found the fox, and told him Leviathan’s story. Proud of the honor, the fox hurried onto the catfish’s back.
On the long journey, the fox had time to reflect and wondered if he had not been tricked. “O Catfish, now that I can’t escape, tell me what the real purpose of this trip is,” said the fox. The catfish revealed the Leviathan’s plan with great satisfaction. Fox was not so clever after all, he thought.
“My heart!” cried the fox. “He wants to eat my heart! Now you are in trouble for I haven’t got it with me. Why didn’t you tell me while there was still time? Didn’t you know that we foxes never carry our precious hearts with us? It is back home, safe in my burrow.”
The fox suggested they return to shore to retrieve the heart. When they reached land, however, the fox jumped off and scampered away, jeering at the catfish’s stupidity. The catfish hid beneath the bank, where he remained, afraid to face the wrath of the Leviathan. The fox has never returned to the shore, which is why to this day there are no fox fish in the sea.
Giovannuzza the Fox
There was once a poor man who had an only son, and the boy was as simple-minded and ignorant as they come. When his father was about to die, he said to the youth, whose name was Joseph, “Son I am dying, and I have nothing to leave you but this cottage and the pear tree beside it.”
The father died, and Joseph lived on in the cottage alone, selling the pears from the tree to provide for himself. But once the season for pears was over, it looked as though he would starve to death, since he was incapable of earning his bread any other way. Strangely enough, the season for pears ended, but not the pears. When they’d all been picked, others came out in their place, even in the middle of winter; it was a charmed pear tree that bore fruit all year long, and so the youth was able to go on providing for himself.
On morning Joseph went out a usual to pick the ripe pears and discovered they’d already been picked by somebody else. “How will I manage now?” he wondered. “If people steal my pears, I’m done for. Tonight I shall stay up and keep watch.” When it grew dark he stationed himself under the pear tree with his shotgun, but soon fell asleep; he woke up to find that all the ripe pears had been picked. The next night he resumed his watch, but fell asleep right in the middle of it, and the pears were again stolen. The third night, in addition to the shotgun, he carried along a shepherd’s pipe and proceeded to play it under the pear tree. Then he stopped playing, and Giovannuzza the fox, who was stealing the pears, thinking Joseph had fallen asleep, cam running out and climbed the tree.
Joseph aimed his gun at her, and the fox spoke. “Don’t shoot, Joseph. If you give me a basket of pears, I will see to it that you prosper.”
“But, Giovannuzza, if I let you have a basketful, what will I then eat myself?”
“Don’t worry, just do as I say, and you will prosper for sure.”
So the youth gave the fox a basket of his finest pears, which she then carried to the king.
“Sacred Crown,” she said, “my master sends you this basket of pears and begs your gracious acceptance of them.”
“Pears at this time of year?” exclaimed the king. “It will be the first time I’ve ever eaten any in this season! Who is your master?”
“Count Peartree,” replied Giovannuzza.
“But how does he manage to have pears in this season?” asked the king.
“Oh, he has everything,” replied the fox. “He’s the richest man in existence.”
“Richer than I am?” asked the king.
“Yes, even richer than you, Sacred Crown.”
The king was thoughtful. “What could I give him in return?” he asked.
“Don’t bother, Sacred Crown,” said Giovannuzza. “Don’t give it a thought; he’s so rich that whatever present you made him would look paltry.”
“Well, in that case,” said the king, very embarrassed, “tell Count Peartree I thank him for his wonderful pears.”
When he saw the fox back, Joseph exclaimed, “But Giovannuzza, you’ve brought me nothing in return for the pears, and her I am starving to death!”
“Put your mind at rest,” replied the fox. “Leave everything to me. Again I tell you that you will prosper!”
A few days later, Giovannuzza said, “You must let me have another basket of pears.”
“But, sister, what will I eat if you carry off all my pears?”
“Put your mind at rest and leave everything to me.”
She took the basket to the king and said, “Sacred Crown, since you graciously accepted the first basket of pears, my master, Count Peartree, takes the liberty of offering you a second basket.”
“I can’t believe it!” exclaimed the king. “Pears freshly picked at this time of year!”
“That’s nothing,” replied the fox. “My master takes no account of the pears, he has so much else far more precious.”
“But how can I repay his kindness?”
“Concerning that,” said Giovannuzza, “he instructed me to convey his request to you for one thing in particular.”
“Which is? If Count Peartree is so rich, I can’t imagine what I could do that would be fitting.”
“Your daughter’s hand in marriage,” said the fox.
The king opened his eyes wide. “But even that is too great an honor for me, since he is so much richer than I am.”
“Sacred Crown, if it doesn’t him, why should it worry you? Count Peartree truly wants you daughter, and it makes no difference to him whether the dowry is large or not so large, since no matter how big it is, beside all his wealth it will only be a drop in the bucket.”
“Very well, in that case, please ask him to come and dine here.”
So Giovannuzza the fox went back to Joseph and said, “I told the king that you are Count Peartree and that you wish to marry his daughter.”
“Sister, look at what you’ve done! When the king sees me, he will have me beheaded!”
“Leave everything to me, and don’t worry,” replied the fox. She went to a tailor and said, “My master, Count Peartree, wants the finest outfit you have in stock. I will pay you in cash, another time.”
The tailor gave her clothing fit for a great lord, and the fox then visited a horse dealer.” Will you sell me, for Count Peartree, the finest horse in the lot? We won’t look at prices, payment will be made on the morrow.”
Dressed as a great lord and seated in the saddle of a magnificent horse, Joseph rode to the palace, with the fox running ahead of him. “Giovannuzza,” he cried, “when the king speaks to me, what shall I reply? I’m too scared to say a word in front of important people.”
“Let me do the talking and don’t worry about a thing. All you need to say is, ‘Good day’ and ‘Sacred Crown,’ and I’ll fill in the rest.”
They arrived at the palace, where the king hastened up to Count Peartree, greeting him with full honors. “Sacred Crown,” said Joseph.
The king escorted him to the table, where his beautiful daughter was already seated. “Good day,” said Count Peartree.
They sat down and began talking, but Count Peartree didn’t open his mouth. “Sister Giovannuzza,” whispered the king to the fox, “has the cat got your master’s tongue?”
“Oh, you know, Sacred Crown, when a man has so much land and so much wealth to think about, he worries all the time.”
So, throughout the visit, the king was careful not to disturb Count Peartree’s thoughts.
The next morning, Giovannuzza said to Joseph, “Give me one more basket of pears to take to the king.”
“Do as you wish, sister,” replied the youth, “but it will be my downfall, you will see.”
“Put your mind at rest!” exclaimed the fox. “I assure you that you will prosper.”
He therefore picked the pears, which the fox carried to the king, saying, “My master, Count Peartree, sends you this basket of pears, and would like an answer to his request.”
“Tell the count that the wedding can take place whenever he likes,” replied the king. Overjoyed, the fox returned to Joseph with the answer.
“But, sister Giovannuzza, where will I take this bride to live? I can hardly bring her here to this hovel!”
“Leave that up to me. What are you worried about? Haven’t I done all right so far?”
Thus a grand wedding was performed, and Count Peartree took the king’s beautiful daughter to be his wife.
A few days later Giovannuzza the fox announced: “My master intends to carry the bride to his palace.”
“Fine,” said the king. “I will go along with them, so I can finally see all of Count Peartree’s possessions.”
Everyone mounted horses, and the king was accompanied by a large body of knights. As they rode toward the plain, Giovannuzza said, “I shall run ahead and order preparations made for your arrival.” As she raced onward, she met a flock of thousands upon thousands of sheep, and asked the shepherds, “Whose sheep are these?”
“Papa Ogre’s,” they told her.
“Keep your voice down,” whispered the fox. “Do you see that long cavalcade approaching? That’s the king who’s declared war on Papa Ogre. Tell him the sheep are Papa Ogre’s, and the knights will slay you.”
“What are we to say, then?”
“I don’t know! Try, ‘They belong to Count Peartree!’ ”
When the king came up to the flock, he asked, “Who owns this superb flock of sheep?”
“Count Peartree!” cried the shepherds.
“My heavens, the man really must be rich!” exclaimed the king, overjoyed.
A bit further on, the fox met a herd of thousands upon thousands of pigs. “Whose pigs are these?” she asked the swineherds.
“Shhhhhhhh, see all those soldiers coming down the road on horseback? Tell them they are Papa Ogre’s and they’ll kill you. You must say they are Count Peartree’s”
When the king approached and asked the swineherds whose pigs those were, they told him, “Count Peartree’s,” and the king was quite glad to have a son-in-law so rich.
Next the king’s party met a vast herd of horses. “Whose horses are these?” asked the king. “Count Peartree’s.” Then they saw a drove of cattle. “Whose cattle?” “Count Peartree’s.” And the king felt ever happier over the fine match his daughter had made.
Finally Giovannuzza reached the palace where Papa Ogre lived all alone with his wife, Mamma Ogress. Rushing inside, she exclaimed, “Oh, you poor things, if you only knew what a horrible destiny is in store for you!”
“What has happened?” asked Papa Ogre, scared to death.
“See that cloud of dust approaching? It’s a regiment of cavalry dispatched by the king to kill you!”
“Sister fox, sister fox, help us!” whimpered the couple.
“Know what I advise?” said Giovannuzza. “Go hide in the stove. I’ll give the signal when they’ve all gone.”
Papa Ogre and Mamma Ogress obeyed. They crawled into the stove and, once inside, pleaded with Giovannuzza. “Giovannuzza dear, close up the mouth of the stove with tree branches, so they won’t see us.” That was just what the fox had in mind, and she completely stopped up the opening with branches.
Then she went and stood on the doorstep, and when the king arrived, she curtseyed and said, “Sacred Crown, please deign to dismount; this is the palace of Count Peartree.”
The king and the newlyweds dismounted, climbed the grand staircase, and beheld such wealth and magnificence as to leave the king speechless and pensive. “Not even my palace,” he said to himself, “is half so beautiful.” And Joseph, poor man, stood gaping beside him.
“Why,” asked the king, “are there no servants around?”
In a flash, the fox answered, “They were all dismissed, since my master wanted to make no arrangements whatever before first knowing the wishes of his beautiful new wife. Now she can command what best suits her.”
When they had scrutinized everything, the king returned to his own palace, while Count Peartree remained behind with the king’s daughter in Papa Ogre’s palace.
Meanwhile Papa Ogre and Mamma Ogress were still closed up in the stove. At night the fox went up to the stove and whispered, “Papa Ogre, Mamma Ogress, are you still there?”
“Yes,” they answered in a weak voice.
“And there you will remain,” replied the fox. She lit the branches, made a big fire, and Papa Ogre and Mamma Ogress burned up in the stove.
“Now you are rich and happy,” said Giovannuzza to Count Peartree and his wife, “and must promise me one thing: when I die, you must lay me out in a beautiful coffin and bury me with full honors.”
“Oh, sister Giovannuzza,” said the king’s daughter, who had grown quite fond of the fox, “why do you talk about death?”
A little later, Giovannuzza decided to put the couple to the test. She played dead. When the king’s daughter saw her stretched out stiff, she exclaimed, “Oh, Giovannuzza is dead! Our poor dear friend! We must have a very beautiful coffin built at once for her.”
“A coffin for an animal?” said Count Peartree. “We’ll just pitch her out the window!” And he grabbed her by the tail.
At that, the fox jumped up and cried, “Penniless man! Faithless, ungrateful wretch! Have you forgotten everything? Forgotten that your prosperity is due to me? You’d still be living on charity, if it hadn’t been for me! You stingy thing! Ungrateful, faithless wretch!”
“Fox,” begged Count Peartree all flustered, “forgive me, dear friend, please forgive me. I meant no harm, the words just slipped out, I spoke without thinking…”
“This is the last you’ll see of me”—and she made for the door.
“Forgive me, Giovannuzza, please, remain with us…” But the fox ran off down the road, disappeared around the bend, and was never seen again.
Fox Hill near Dodow
The Skinned Goat
The Fox and the Hare in Winter
The Fox and the Wolf
Fox Hill near Dodow
The Skinned Goat
There once lived a father an his son, and they had a goat. The boy had to drive her to the pasture every day. But this goat was an old hag. In the evening the father used to ask her, if she had enough to eat and drink. But she always answered, “How can I have had enough to eat and to drink, if I have not even seen one stalk of grass and one drop of water?” Then the son always got a sound beating.
One day the father decided to find out for himself. He saw that after having eaten off three meadows and drunk up three ponds, she still pretended to be hungry. Now the old man decided to slaughter the goat.
He had already stuck and halfway skinned her, when he noticed his knife was getting blunt. He went into the house to sharpen it. No sooner had he gone than the goat got up and ran into the woods, where she hid in a foxhole.
When the fox came home and wanted to get into his hole, he was terribly frightened, for out of his hole there came a voice saying; “Halfway skinned and halfway killed, I am a piece of mutton. Come on in and I’ll eat you up!”
The fox was afraid and went right away to his brother-in-law, the bear, and told him about his grief. The bear went with him to the spot, got into the hole, but turned around immediately, when he heard the horrible words.
“I can’t do anything in this matter,” he said and ran away.
In his distress the fox went to the panther, then to the tiger, and finally to the lion. But none of them could help him, and they all took to their heels.
At last the fox met the bumblebee, to whom he poured out his complaints. The bumblebee said, “I will help you.”
“Bigger ones have tried in vain to help me, and you think you can do it?” replied the fox. But he obediently led the bumblebee to the hole. It flew buzzing inside, sat down on one of the skinned parts, and started stinging vigorously. The goat soon felt the pain and ran bleating out of the hole, where she fell again into the hands of her master, who had been looking for her, and so she was killed completely.
The Fox and the Hare in Winter
The Hare is able to support himself even in the coldest winter. He is satisfied with the buds he finds in hedges and shrubs.
One cold winter, the hare me the fox. Surprised, the fox asked the hare, “How fine and well fed you look! What are you living on these days? I am so hungry and I cannot find anything to eat.”
The hare replied, “I have been living on eggs of late.”
“On eggs! How on earth do you get them?” the fox wondered.
The hare answered, “This is what I do. There are women coming along here with basketfuls of eggs that they are taking to market. When I see a woman coming, I let myself fall flat on the ground before her, as if I were wounded by a shot. Then the woman puts her basket down in order to catch me and to take me to the market. Just as she thinks she had caught me, I stagger on for about ten steps and let myself fall to the ground again. I repeat this several times, until I am far away from the basket. Then I hurry back to the basket and carry it into the wood, and there I have enough food for a whole week.”
The fox replied, “I like that. Wouldn’t you help me get some eggs, too, in these hard times?”
“With great pleasure,” replied the hare, “if you will be kind enough to let me have my share.”
As agreed, they took their positions behind a bush on the road. The fox got a basketful of eggs in the described manner, and he hurried into the wood with it. The hare followed him in order to get his share. When he reached him, the fox had divided up the eggs into several little piles. The hare asked him with astonishment, “Why so many shares?”
Pointing to the different piles, the fox replied, “This one is for my father; this one for my mother; the other one is for my brother and my sister and the last one is mine.”
“And where is my share?” asked the hare in surprise.
“There is nothing left for you,” was the answer. Too weak to punish the fox, the hare left angrily. But decided to watch for a chance to pay back the fox.
After some time, the hare and the fox met again. It was very cold, and the earth was covered with snow. Again the fox wondered at the hare’s prosperous look, since he himself was suffering terribly from hunger. Thus he asked, “What are you living on now?”
“On fish,” the hare replied.
“Please,” said the fox, “couldn’t you let me have some as well to appease my hunger?”
The hare answered, “I shall help you once more. Not far from here by the castle, there is a fishpond. The inhabitants have made a hole in the ice in order to catch fish. In the evening I go there; I stand on the ice and put my little tail into the hole, and after some time, I draw it out and there are plenty of fish hanging on it.”
“Well,” replied the fox, “this sounds all right to me. With my long tail, I should be able to catch a lot.”
The hare said, “You will find me at the fishpond tonight.”
At night they met at the appointed place, and the hare said, “Sit down by the hole, put your tail into the water, and remain like this until I come back. I shall go over to the garden to eat some cabbage.”
The hare went away, and the fox remained there patiently, happily thinking of appeasing his gnawing hunger. After a while he tried pulling and found that his tail was getting heavy. But he continued to sit there, just as the hare had told him to do.
It was a long time before the hare came back and asked, “How are things going?”
The fox replied, “You have been away for a very long time. I have tried once, but my tail is so heavy that you will have to help me get it out.”
The hare said, “Pull hard!”
But the fox could not get it out. He pulled as hard as he could, but the tail was frozen fast in the ice.
Now the hare approached with a stick, hit him over the head, crying, “This one is for my father; this one is for my mother; this one is for my brother and my sister; and the last one is for me!” He knocked him on the head from the right side and from the left, until the fox fell down dead.
The Fox and the Wolf
The fox and the wolf once divided the produce of their common work in a field. But the fox cheated the wolf when sifting the chaff from the corn: he kept the corn for himself and left the chaff for the wolf. The wolf was satisfied with this distribution, because his heap was bigger than that of the fox. Then they both went grinding. When the corn was being ground, the millstones noisily said, “cricks cracks,” but when the chaff was being ground, they only said very softly, “climm clamm,” so that the sound could barely be heard.
The wolf listened to this with astonishment. He could not explain it, and asked, “How is it that before the millstones said ‘cricks cracks’, whereas now they only whisper ‘climm clamm?’”
The sly fox gave him the advice, “Throw small stones and sand among it; then you can hear the grinding better!”
This is what the stupid wolf did. And hark! What a noise the millstones made now. They grated so loudly that one had to shut one’s ears. The wolf jumped for joy when he heard the millstones making more noise when grinding the chaff than when grinding the corn.
The Five Little Foxes and the Tiger (East Pakistan)
The Fox, the Fish and the Bear (Lapland)
The Fox and the Sheepskin Jacket (Palestine)
How the Fox saved the Horse’s Life (Russia)
The Fox and the Gulls (Peru)
The Five Little Foxes and the Tiger (East Pakistan)
Once upon a time, on the plains of East Pakistan, a fox and his wife lived in a little hole. They had five children who were too young to feed themselves, and so every evening Mr. and Mrs. Fox crept out of their hole and made their way to the bazaar or market place, which was full of roughly-made stalls.
But they didn’t go there to buy anything. They waited until all the people had gone home to their suppers, and then the two foxes crept amongst the stalls looking for scraps of food for their children.
Sometimes they found nothing but a few grains of rice or shreds of pumpkin but at other times they picked up quite large pieces of fish or meat which had been dropped un-noticed by a stall-holder.
Then the two foxes were overjoyed and would hurry home talking happily together. But no matter who had found the most food – and to be truthful it was nearly always Mrs. Fox who was the better scavenger – Mr. Fox was so full of pride at his cleverness that he could not stop boasting.
‘How much sense have you got, my dear?’ he would ask his wife as they hurried along between large tufts of brown grass and withered-looking bushes.
‘About as much as would fill a small vegetable basket,’ Mrs. Fox would reply modestly.
Then after a few minutes she would say, ‘And how much sense have you got, my good husband?’
‘As much as would fill twelve large sacks, needing twelve strong oxen to carry them,’ the conceited Mr. Fox would reply, time and time again.
Now one evening, when the two foxes were on their way home with food for their children, and Mr. Fox had just told his wife for the hundredth time how clever he was, a large tiger suddenly stepped out from behind a bush and barred their way.
‘At last I’ve got you,’ growled the tiger, showing them his sharp white teeth which glistened in the moonlight.
Mr. Fox began to tremble and his legs gave way, so that he crumpled up into a heap and lost the power to speak.
But clever Mrs. Fox held her head high, and looking straight into the flashing eyes of the tiger, she said with a smile, ‘How glad we are to have met you, O Uncle! My husband and I have been having an argument, and since neither will give way to the other, we decided that we would ask the first superior animal who crossed our path to settle the matter for us.’
The tiger was surprised at being spoken to so politely, and also very flattered at being called ‘Uncle’, which is a term of great respect in Pakistan.
So he did not spring at the foxes to kill and eat them, but replied, ‘Very well. I will help you if I can. Tell me what you were arguing about.’
‘My husband and I have decided to part company,’ said Mrs. Fox in a clear, calm voice, while her husband, who had closed his eyes in fear, now opened them wide in surprise. ‘But we have five children waiting at home for us, and we cannot decide how to divide them between us fairly. I think that I should have three, since I have had to spend more time in looking after them than my husband, and that he should have only two. But my husband insists that I let him have the three boy-cubs, and that I keep only the two girl-cubs. Now, O wise Uncle, who do you think is right?’
When Mrs. Fox saw the tiger licking his lips she knew that he was thinking that somehow he must have the five fox cubs as well as their parents for his dinner. And this was exactly what she had hoped for.
‘I must see the cubs for myself before I can make a decision,’ said the tiger. ‘Will you take me to your home?’
‘Certainly,’ said Mrs. Fox. ‘We will lead the way, and you shall follow.’
Poor Mr. Fox was completely at a loss to know what his wife was doing, but thinking that anything would be better than being eaten alive by a tiger, he staggered to his feet and followed his wife along the rough track, until they reached their home.
‘Wait here,’ said Mrs. Fox to the tiger. ‘You are too big to get inside our hole, so we will bring the children outside for you to see.’
She turned to her husband to tell him to go in, but he, needing no encouragement to get away from the tiger, shot into the opening like a flash.
Mrs. Fox went in more slowly, talking all the time, saying that she would not keep him waiting more than a moment, and thanking him for being so gracious as to promise to judge their case for them.
‘Once inside their hole, the foxes gathered their children together as far away from the opening as possible, and in whispers told them what happened.
‘Don’t make a sound,’ said Mrs. Fox, ‘and presently the tiger will realize he has been tricked, and will go away.’
She was right. The tiger waited for hours, first patiently, then furiously, as it gradually dawned on him that the foxes had no intention of letting him see their children, and when the sun rose the next morning, he had to go hungrily away.
After this, Mr. and Mrs. Fox went by a different path to the bazaar, and kept a sharp look-out for tigers.
Mr. Fox never again asked his wife how much sense she had, but once or twice, when he showed signs of becoming proud again she would say to him, ‘How much sense have you got, my dear?’ and he would answer with an embarrassed laugh, ‘Oh! About as much as would fill a small vegetable basket – a very small one, I’m afraid.’
The Fox, the Fish, and the Bear (Lapland)
Far away in the north of Lapland there once lived a fox who had been looking for food for days and days but had found none.
‘What shall I do?’ he asked himself as he lay on the hard packed snow. ‘If I cannot find food I shall die.’
Just then he heard the sound of dogs barking in the distance and he guessed that some sleighs were coming up from the sea towards the place where he lay.
Now most of the Laplanders in this part of the country were fishermen, and this fox loved eating fish. So he stretched himself out on the snow in such a way that the sleigh-driver would think he were dead.
Sure enough, after a few moments a string of sleighs stopped right beside the fox.
‘What luck!’ said a man’s voice. ‘A dead fox! Now I can sell it’s fur.’
Then, picking up the fox, the man slung its body on to the front sleigh and continued on his way.
Cautiously the fox opened his eyes. He saw that the dogs were dragging four sleighs, and that they were all empty except for the last one, which was piled high with fish.
Presently, as the sleighs rode over some bumpy ground, the fox let himself fall off on to the snow, taking care to make a loud plop.
Immediately the man reined in the dogs, leapt off the front sleigh and slung the fox up on to the second sleigh. Then he continued his journey.
After a few more miles the fox again let himself fall off the sleigh, taking care to make an even louder plop as he dropped into the crisp snow.
Once again the man stopped the sleighs, picked up the fox and slung him on to the third sleigh.
From here the fox could smell the fish so strongly that his stomach ached with hunger and his mouth watered profusely.
In no time at all he had dropped off the third sleigh and the man had stopped yet again and picked him up.
‘What a nuisance you are!’ said the Laplander, throwing him up on the top of all the fish on the fourth sleigh. ‘If you fall off here, I shan’t bother to stop again. I shall never get home at this rate.’ Then, climbing back and settling himself into the front sleigh, the man whipped up the dogs and hurried off.
Now the fox opened his eyes and began to get busy. The cunning animal gnawed the thin ropes which tied the fourth sleigh to the third, until at last he separated the sleighs.
The man drove on, never realizing that he now had only three sleighs, and empty ones at that, while the fox seized the broken rope in his teeth and dragged the sleigh off the track, towards a big snowdrift where he could hide.
Never had he eaten such a splendid meal. Fish after fish went down the fox’s throat, until he began to think he could eat no more.
He was just taking hold of what he had decided must be the last fish of the day when the snapping of a near-by twig made him turn his head.
In horror, he saw a huge, long-tailed bear approaching through the trees.
‘Where did you get all that fish?’ growled the bear, looking at the sleigh which still held a good pile of fish.
‘I caught it myself,’ lied the fox. ‘It’s all mine and you are not to touch it.’
‘What did you catch it with?’ asked the bear.
‘I will show you if you like,’ said the fox. ‘Come down to the river and you will soon have a pile of fish even bigger than mine.’
So the fox made his way through the trees towards the river, while the bear lumbered after him.
The river was covered with ice, so, taking a sharp stone, the fox knocked a hole through the ice until they could see the sluggish water flowing below.
‘Now,’ said the fox, ‘you have to sit on the bank with your back to the river and your tail hanging down through the hole into the water.’
The stupid bear did as he was told, and sitting down he gently eased his long tail into the hole in the ice.
‘How shall I know when I have caught a fish?’ he asked.
‘Oh, that’s easy,’ replied the fox. ‘You will feel a slight nip as the fish bites and then you must gently ease your tail up through the hole, eat the fish, and begin again.’
Then the fox dashed off to his sleigh, and, seizing the rope in his mouth, he dragged it as far away from the river as he could.
But the bear sat on and on, waiting for the slight nip which would tell him that he had caught a fish. It got colder and colder as night came on, and presently the bear began to realize that the fox had tricked him.
‘Wait till I catch him!’ he growled, trying to turn away from the river in the direction the fox had taken. But the ice had frozen tight around his long tail and he could not move.
He tugged and pulled for a long time in vain, until at last his great strength triumphed and he found that he had freed himself from the ice.
But on looking behind, he also found that he had left most of his big, bushy tail in the frozen river, and all that remained was a little furry stump.
And that is the reason, say the Laplanders, why even today, all the bears have such short stumpy tails.
The Fox and the Sheepskin Jacket (Palestine)
Once upon a time a fox living in Palestine lifted his head from the undergrowth where he had been hiding, and saw an eagle.
‘Hallo!’ cried the eagle as it swooped down close to the fox. ‘How you can bear to live all your life down there on the ground, I do not know. You really are a most un-enterprising creature.’
Then the eagle soared up into the blue sky again, and as the fox watched it he half wished that he could fly too.
In a few moments the eagle was swooping down again, saying, ‘Did you hear what I said?’
‘Yes I did,’ called the fox. ‘What does the world look like from so high?’
The eagle alighted beside him and replied, ‘Sometimes it is so far away this it is almost invisible.’
The fox laughed scornfully. ‘I don’t believe you,’ he said.
This annoyed the eagle who had always hated the fox for his cunning underhanded ways, and now he suddenly thought of a plan to get rid of him.
‘Jump on my back and I’ll take you up to see for yourself,’ he said.
The fox hesitated for a moment and then he climbed on to the strong back of the eagle, settled himself among the feathers and cried: ‘I’m ready! Up you go!’
The eagle soared upwards and the fox closed his eyes in alarm, for he had never travelled as fast as this on the ground, let alone in the air.
‘How big does the earth look now?’ asked the eagle presently.
The fox opened his eyes and gasped as he peered downwards. ‘It looks about as big as one of those straw baskets they make at Lydda,’ he said.
‘Aha!’ said the eagle. ‘But it won’t look as big as that in a minute.’ Up and up they went, and then the eagle asked again, ‘How big does the earth look now?’
‘It looks about as big as an onion,’ replied the fox, hoping that the eagle would soon begin flying down again.
But the eagle continued to soar upwards, while the fox clung to its feathers, feeling very alarmed and still scarcely daring to open his eyes.
‘How big does it look now?’ asked the eagle at last.
Peering down through half-closed eyes, the fox could see nothing at all. Even when he opened his eyes wide in surprise, he could still not see the earth, as it was so far away below them.
‘I can’t see anything at all!’ he said. ‘How far away do you think the earth is now?’
‘That I can’t tell,’ replied the eagle. ‘But I leave it to you to find out.’ So saying the eagle turned right over onto his back so that the fox was shaken off.
With a scream the fox began to fall down. Through the air he rushed, sometimes the right way up, sometimes the wrong, but all the time wondering what would happen to him when he hit the earth.
Suddenly he knew! He had landed on a ploughboy’s soft sheepskin coat, in the middle of a ploughed field, and because this had broken his fall, he was still alive.
Heaving a sigh of relief, the fox scrambled under the sheepskin jacket. Using this as a disguise in case anybody saw him and tried to kill him again, he ran swiftly into some woods to take cover.
But he was not safe here, for immediately he came face to face with a leopard. But instead of attacking the fox and eating him, the leopard was so surprised at the coat he was wearing that he asked, ‘Where did you get that warm coat, Fox? I’ve never seen you wearing one of those before.’
‘I’ve changed my way of living,’ replied the fox quickly. ‘No longer do I steal the farmers’s chickens, because I have become a furrier and have learned how to sew. Would you like me to make you a sheepskin jacket like mine?’
‘Yes I would,’ said the leopard, thinking what good camouflage it would be when he was stalking game for his dinner.
‘Very well,’ said the fox, ‘You’re a much better hunter than I am, so if you can bring me six sheep, I will make you a jacket with their coats, and will eat their meat for my payment.’
The unsuspecting leopard went off to steal the sheep from a near-by hillside, while the fox lay down and laughed to himself, feeling very pleased at his own cleverness.
When the leopard came back with the six dead sheep, the fox persuaded him to help him to carry them close to his den. Then, promising the leopard that the jacket would be ready next week, he sent him away.
Now the fox had a wife and six little cubs, and when they saw all the meat that the leopard had provided for them, they were delighted. Never had they had such a feast before! For days they all ate as much as they could and each night they slept deeply and rested well, for there was no need to go hunting now.
But the leopard was not so happy. He kept coming back to the fox’s den and shouting: ‘Isn’t my jacket ready yet?’
The fox put him off with various excuses, until all the meat had gone, and then he said, ‘You are a much bigger animal than I am, Leopard, so I’m afraid I shall need more than six sheepskins for your coat. Will you bring me three more sheep tomorrow? Then I think I can finish making it.’
The leopard was getting a little suspicious by now, but off he went and killed three more sheep, and brought them back to the fox.
Now the family could eat their fill again, and they all feasted happily until the meat had gone. But the fox was beginning to regret his behavior, as he knew the leopard would want to be revenged when he found out that there was to be no sheepskin jacket after all, for he had no idea how to sew.
He began to go hunting in a different part of the country, and always looked around carefully to make sure the leopard was nowhere near when he went in or out of his hole. When he did meet the leopard he made excuses about the jacket, saying that he had run out of thread, or just broken his needle; he even pretended that he was not the fox who had eaten the sheep, and since all foxes are very much alike, the leopard could not be sure which was which.
But at last the leopard knew that he had been tricked, and he decided that it was time to get even with the fox.
Hiding behind a boulder one night, he lay still, scarcely breathing, until he heard the sound of the fox returning from a hunting expedition. With a bound the leopard pounced on the fox, intending to kill him, but the fox was so quick in reaching his hole, that all the leopard managed to catch was the fox’s bushy tail.
‘All right! I’ve missed you this time,’ the leopard shouted. ‘But I shall know you from all the other foxes now, as you will be the only one without a tail.’
Then to make sure that the fox would suffer a few days’ starvation, the leopard took a hornets’ nest and put it on the ground beside the opening to the fox’s den. He knew that the humming sound the hornets made was very much like the noise of a leopard purring, and he hoped that the fox would stay inside, not daring to go hunting while he thought the leopard was waiting for him.
For almost a week, the fox family went hungry, until at last the fox began to get suspicious, for he wondered how the leopard could stay in one place for so long without going away to get food.
Creeping close to the opening, the fox peered cautiously outside, and discovered the hornets’ nest.
He was furious that he had been tricked so easily, but he dared not show himself to the leopard, as he would easily recognize him now that he had lost his tail.
However, he had to take some risks if he were going to put into practice the plan which he had been working out, while listening to the hornets’ humming.
So, waiting until darkness fell, the fox rushed hither and thither, calling at the homes of all his friends and relations.
‘Come with me! I have found you a splendid vineyard full of ripe grapes. Come and feast with me, while it is dark and the owner is asleep at home.’
Soon dozens of foxes were following behind him and he led them to a secluded vineyard some way from his den. ‘What a feast! What juicy grapes!’ all the foxes exclaimed as they began to eat them hungrily.
‘Wait a minute,’ commanded the fox. ‘We mustn’t all eat from the same vine. I will show you each your place, and then you can eat unhindered by anyone else, and we shall not have any quarrels.’
One by one, he led the foxes to a different vine, and said to each, ‘Now you must not mind if I tie your tail to your particular vine. This will show the others that the vine belongs to you, and it will prevent any greed fox from straying to his brother’s place and eating his grapes.’
All the foxes agreed quite readily, until eventually nothing could be heard but the steady munching of grapes.
Silently the fox left the vineyard and made his way to the owner’s house, where he banged on the door and woke up the whole household, crying: ‘Go to your vineyard! The foxes are robbing it! Take up your sticks and drive them away.’
The people in the house were soon awake, and ran shouting towards the vineyard, waving their heavy sticks.
The foxes heard them coming and tried to run away, but their tails were tied so tightly to the vines that the only way the could escape was by tugging so hard that they left their tails behind them.
After this every fox in the district had a short tail, and so the leopard never found out which was the fox who had tricked him. He was so annoyed that he went away to live in a different part of the country, and then the fox, his wife and his six little cubs were able to roam about freely, and to hunt wherever they liked.
How the Fox Saved the Horse’s Life (Russia)
Once upon a time a bear was hiding behind some trees on the edge of a field in Russia, hungrily watching a peasant and his horse ploughing the soil.
The horse was old and tired, and presently the peasant shouted angrily: ‘I’m fed up with your slowness, old horse! You are no use to me at all. I shall let the bears have you!’
Now the peasant did not really mean what he said, and was thoroughly alarmed when the bear lumbered out from behind the trees and growled, ‘Very well! I will eat your horse for you. Give him to me.’
‘Oh no!’ gasped the man. ‘Don’t eat him yet, I beg you. Give me enough time to finish ploughing this field and then I will let you have him.’
Of course the man had no intention of giving his horse to the bear, for he knew he would never find enough money to buy another one, but he hoped that by the end of the day he might have thought of a plan to outwit the bear.
‘Very well,’ said the bear. ‘I will wait until you have finished.’
The peasant went on with his ploughing, but his mind was not on his job. He kept wondering how he could get the horse home safely, for the bear was a big one who could kill both the horse and man with one blow.
Later in the day the peasant stopped work for a few moments’ rest, and sat down at the edge of the field to eat a crust of bread.
He heard a rustle in the nearby bushes and turning he saw the face of a fox peering at him.
‘Sh!’ said the fox. ‘Don’t call out! I heard what the bear said to you, and have worked out a plan that will save your horse. But you will have to reward me.’
‘I would give anything I have to save my poor old horse,’ said the old man. ‘What is your plan?’
‘First of all, we will decide on my reward,’ said the greedy fox. ‘I shall want twelve hens for my supper.’
‘Very well,’ said the peasant, who had only twelve hens and no more. ‘I will give them to you if your plan works.’
‘I have a small bell here, which I shall fasten round my neck,’ said the fox. ‘Then I shall go into the forest, creep behind the bear, and leap about so that the bell rings.’
‘But that will not frighten a bear!’ exclaimed the man.
‘Of course it won’t,’ said the fox, impatiently. ‘But when the bear hears it and asks you what it is, you must tell him that the King’s son is bear-hunting with a number of his courtiers. That should frighten the bear away pretty quickly.’
Off went the fox among the trees, and up got the peasant and began to plough again. Presently the sound of a bell reached him, and he knew that the fox was leaping about in the forest, trying to make his bell sound like those the bear-hunters tied to their horses.
The bear came towards the peasant with his eyes full of fear. ‘What is that noise?’ he asked.
‘I heard that the King’s son was coming into the forest today, bear-hunting with his friends,’ replied the peasant. ‘I expect they have started the hunt and the bells are those on their horses.’
The bear had changed from a bully to a coward now, and he begged the peasant to save him. ‘Don’t betray me,’ he said, ‘and I promise not to eat your horse after all.’
‘I will not let the hunters get you,’ said the peasant, ‘but I will hold you to your promise afterwards.’
The bear crouched on the ground beside the cart on which the peasant had brought the plough to his field. Then the fox got as close to the bear as he could without being seen, and shouted: ‘We are hunting bears. What is that dark shape beside you, my man?’
‘That is a tree stump,’ called the peasant. ‘I have been cutting wood for my fire.’
‘If it’s a tree stump, why is it standing up? Are you sure it’s not a bear?’
‘Lie down,’ whispered the peasant, giving the terrified bear a push, and sending him under the cart. ‘It’s a tree stump all right,’ called the man. ‘I have cut it down now, and it’s on the ground.’
‘Well that’s a queer place to put it,’ shouted the fox, who was still well hidden by the trees. ‘Why don’t you load it on your cart, and tie it firmly with rope, so that it doesn’t fall off? That is what we do with logs as big as that.’
‘Very well,’ said the man, and the bear, needing no encouragement, scrambled up into the cart and allowed the peasant to tie him up firmly with rope.
‘You are a foolish fellow,’ called the fox. ‘Most people put an axe in the cart with the log, and then they can chop it up for firewood as soon as they get home.’
So the peasant took his axe, climbed into the cart, and killed the bear with one blow.
The horse neighed with happiness as the peasant harnessed him to the cart and prepared to go home, but the fox kept leaping and bounding around them as they went, crying: ‘Don’t forget my reward. Twenty hens you promised me.’
‘Not twenty! I have only twelve and that was the number we agreed on,’ said the poor peasant, wondering what his wife would say when he handed over her fine, plump laying hens to the fox.
As they neared the peasant’s cottage, his three dogs heard him coming, and leaping up from their place beside the hearth, the rushed out joyously to greet him.
‘Dogs!’ screamed the fox. ‘You didn’t tell me you kept dogs!’
He turned tail at once and rushed back towards the forest. The three dogs chased after him for several miles but he just managed to get into his hole before they caught up with him.
‘I shall never try to help a human being again,’ said the fox as he lay down to get back his breath in the safety of his home.
But the peasant was delighted that his dogs had saved him from giving up his wife’s precious hens, and when they returned, panting loudly and extremely hungry, he gave them an extra big supper.
Later on, he told his wife the whole story. But she did not believe him, so he took her outside in the darkness and showed her the dead bear, promising that he would skin it in the morning, and make her a fine, fur rug to go on her bed and keep her warm during the bitter, winter nights.
As for the horse, he said nothing, but he lived to a ripe old age, and never again did the peasant threaten to give him up to the bears.
The Fox and the Gulls (Peru)
Once upon a time a gull laid her eggs on the shore of Lake Titicaca in Peru. There were three eggs altogether and the whole day long the mother gull sat on them to keep them warm, only leaving the nest very occasionally to go and catch herself a fish from the lake.
At last the eggs were ready and three little gulls pecked and chirped their way into the world.
Their mother was tremendously proud of them, for this was her first family, and she was kept very busy flying to the lake to catch small fish for her children, or up to the cliffs behind the nest, to search for insects.
As the little gulls grew bigger, the mother had to spend more and more time away from the nest, searching for food to satisfy their healthy appetites; and so it happened that she did not notice her old enemy, the fox, hiding behind a small outcrop of rocks not far from the nest, watching her every moment.
The country around Lake Titicaca was almost all desert, so there were very few trees and bushes about and practically no smaller animals for the fox to feed on.
‘Be patient!’ the fox muttered to himself, for he was very hungry! ‘Don’t make a sound and you will soon have the best meal of your life.’
Waiting until the mother gull had flown high up the cliffs to search for insects, the fox crawled stealthily towards the young gulls in their nest.
On his way he noticed an old sack. Which had been blown by the wind from a near-by village, and picking it up he exclaimed:
‘Just what I wanted! Now I can put the gulls in this sack and carry them right away from their nest before I eat them. Then their mother will not hear their cries, and will not come and peck me to pieces.’
Closer and closer the fox crawled to the nest until suddenly he pounced upon the first gull and thrust it in his sack. The second and third gulls had scarcely time to utter more than a few surprised chirps when they too were seized by the fox, who slung the sack over his shoulder and hurried away as fast as he could go.
But the few weak cries of the gull-chicks had been heard by the mother as she was flying back with her mouth full of fish for her children.
Looking down she could see the fox running away from the lake towards some rocky hillocks where he hoped to hide while he ate his meal.
The cunning gull did not swoop down on the fox at once, but followed him at a distance so that he did not know she was there.
‘O my poor children!’ she cried to herself as she flew. ‘How can I get you away from that evil creature?’
The sun was hot and the earth was dry and dusty, and before long the fox was feeling very exhausted with all his running. Added to this his back was getting sore, for the young gulls had sharp beaks and they continually pecked at him through the sack as he ran.
Presently he stopped, and, giving the top of the sack an extra twist or two, he put it on the ground, placed a heave stone on top of it and sank down nearby to have a rest.
‘I’m exhausted!’ he said. ‘I’ll just have a short nap and then make for that pile of rocks on the other side of the valley. Nobody will see or hear anything there!’
Closing his eyes the fox was soon fast asleep, and then the mother gull, who had been silently flying above him for some time, glided down to the earth.
‘Hush, my children!’ she whispered with her beak close to the sack. ‘Don’t make a sound or you will wake the wicked fox. Just do exactly as I tell you and all will be well.’
The little gulls were delighted to hear their mother’s voice, and lay quietly while she pushed the heavy stone off the sack and untwisted the top.
‘Creep out now!’ she whispered, ‘and go and bring me some thorny twigs from that dead bush.’
The little gulls blinked from the sunlight for a moment of two, and then they staggered over to a shriveled bush nearby and picked as many thorny, prickly twigs as they could.
‘Push them in the sack quickly,’ said the mother gull, and as soon as they had done this, she twisted the neck of the sack up again and put the large stone back on top of it.
‘Now, follow me!’ she said softly, and the little gulls hopped and ran behind her until they had reached the safety of a small cave in the cliffs.
‘Now I shall take you home on my back, one by one,’ said the mother gull, for her children were not yet old enough to fly on their own. ‘But don’t make a sound while I am away, or the fox will hear you.’
So the mother gull got her children safely home again. But she found a new place for her nest, right on the other side of the lake, where the fox would not be able to seize her children again once he found he had been tricked.
Now the fox had been very tired when he fell asleep, and it was not until an hour or two later that he woke.
Looking up at the sun and seeing how much of the day he had wasted, he slung the bag onto his back again and hurried off in the direction of the pile of rocks he had chosen for eating his meal.
He thought that the sack seemed a little lighter than before, but the thorns pricked his back in the same way that the little gulls’ beaks had done, and so he did not realize that the birds were not there.
At last he reached the place where he though he could eat them without anyone seeing or hearing, and cautiously he opened the sack, and reached in to take out the first bird.
With a cry he withdrew his front leg, covered with scratches and with a branch of the thorn entangled in his fur.
‘I have been tricked!’ he screamed. ‘Who put these thorns in my bag and let out the gulls?’
He knew the answer to this at once, for only the mother bird could have done it. So, leaving the bag on the ground he hurried back to the lakeside to the place where the gull had had her nest.
But of course it was not there, and peering across the lake the fox saw what looked like the mother gull sweeping down to a nest with food for her chicks.
The fox was determined to have his revenge, but could see no way of getting across to the other side of the lake.
All night long he lay on the shore trying to decide on a plan to get the better of the gulls, and when morning came he thought he had one.
‘I will drink and drink and drink,’ he said to himself, ‘until the lake is dry and then I can go across on the mud and seize those little gulls again.’
So he lay down at the edge of the lake and began to drink swallowing the muddy water as fast as he could.
Gradually he began to swell and soon he was feeling most uncomfortable. Bigger and bigger grew his body and still he went on drinking.
‘There can’t be much water left now,’ he puffed, his eyes half closed, and body swollen to six times its normal size.
Gasping and gurgling, he swallowed a few more mouthfuls, and then ‘Crack!’, the sound of a loud explosion filled the air.
The fox had drunk so much water that he had burst, and now lay dead on the shore of the lake.
Across the water the gulls heard the strange noise, and the mother flew off to see what it was all about.
‘The fox is dead, my children,’ she cried happily when she returned. ‘Now we need have no fear that he will try to take you away again.’
So the gulls lived happily and peacefully beside the lake until the children learned to fly and were able to go off and have families of their own.