|THE BEAR AND THE FOX
By P. C. Asbjornsen
Once upon a time there was a bear, who sat on a sunny hillside
nap. Just then a fox came slinking by and saw him.
"Aha! have I caught you napping, grandfather? See if I don't
a trick this time!" said Reynard to himself.
He then found three wood mice and laid them on a stump of a tree
under the bear's nose.
"Boo! Bruin! Peter the hunter is just behind that stump!"
fox right into the bear's ear, and then took to his heels and
into the wood.
The bear woke at once, and when he saw the three mice he became
angry that he lifted his paw and was just going to strike them,
thought it was they who had shouted in his ear.
But just then he saw Reynard's tail between the bushes and he
at such a speed that the branches crackled under him, and Bruin
soon so close upon Reynard that he caught him by the right hind
just as be was running into a hole under a pine tree.
Reynard was now in a fix; but he was not to be outwitted, and
"Slip pine root, grip fox foot," and so the bear let
go his hold; but
the fox laughed far down in the hole and said:
"I sold you that time, also, grandfather!"
"Out of sight is not out of mind!" said the bear, who
was in a fine
The other morning, when Bruin came trudging across the moor with
pig, Master Reynard was lying on a stone by the moorside.
"Good-day, grandfather!" said the fox. "What nice
thing have you got
"Pork," said the bear.
"I have got something tasty as well," said the fox.
"What's that?" said the bear.
"It's the biggest bees' nest I ever found," said Reynard.
"Ah, indeed," said the bear, grinning, and his mouth
began to water, he
thought a little honey would be so nice. "Shall we change
"No, I won't do that," said Reynard. But they made
a wager about
naming three kinds of trees. If the fox could say them quicker
the bear he was to have one bite at the pig; but if the bear could
them quicker he was to have one suck at the bee's nest. The bear
thought he would be able to suck all the honey up at one gulp.
"Well said the fox, "that's all well and good but if
I win you must
promise to tear off the bristles where I want to have a bite,"
"Well, I suppose I must, since you are too lazy yourself,"
Then they began to name the trees.
"Spruce, fir, pine," growled the bear. His voice was
very gruff. But
all these were only different names of one kind of tree.
"Ash, aspen, oak," screeched the fox, so that the forest
had thus won the bet, and so he jumped down, took the heart out
pig at one bite, and tried to run off. But the bear was angry,
he had taken the best bit of the whole pig, and seized hold of
his tail and held him fast.
"Just wait a bit," said the bear, who was furious.
"Never mind, grandfather; if you'll let me go you shall
have a taste of
my honey," said the fox.
When the bear heard this he let go his hold and the fox jumped
the stone after the honey.
"Over this nest," said Reynard, "I'll put a leaf,
and in the leaf there
is a hole, through which you can suck the honey." He then
put the nest
right up under the bear's nose, pulled away the leaf, jumped on
stone, and began grinning and laughing; for there was neither
honeycomb in the nest. It was a wasp's nest as big as a man's
full of wasps, and out they swarmed and stung the bear in his
ears and on his mouth and snout. He had so much to do with scratching
them off him that he had no the to think of Reynard.
Ever since the bear has been afraid of wasps.
Once the fox and the bear made up their minds to have a field
common. They found a small clearing far away in the forest, where
sowed rye the first year.
"Now we must share and share alike," said Reynard;
"if you will have
the roots I will have the tops," he said.
Yes, Bruin was quite willing; but when they had thrashed the
fox got all the corn, while the bear got nothing but the roots
Bruin didn't like this, but the fox said it was only as they
"This year I am the gainer," said the fox; "another
year it will be
your turn; you can then have the tops and I will be satisfied
Next spring the fox asked the bear if he didn't think turnips
the right thing for that year.
"Yes, that's better food than corn," said the bear;
and the fox thought
When the autumn came the fox took the turnips, but the bear only
The bear then became so angry that he parted company then and
One day the bear was lying eating a horse which he had killed.
was about again and came slinking along, his mouth watering for
bit of the horseflesh.
He sneaked in and out and round about till he came up behind
when he made a spring to the other side of the carcass, snatching
piece as he jumped across.
The bear was not slow either; he made a dash after Reynard and
the tip of his red tail in his paw. Since that time the fox has
had a white tip to his tail.
"Wait a bit Reynard, and come here," said the bear,
"and I'll teach you
how to catch horses."
Yes, Reynard was quite willing to learn that, but he didn't trust
himself too near the bear.
"When you see a horse lying asleep in a sunny place,"
said the bear,
"you must tie yourself fast with the hair of his tail to
and then fasten your teeth in his thigh," he said.
Before long the fox found a horse lying asleep on a sunny hillside;
so he did as the bear had told him; he knotted and tied himself
the horse with the hair of the tail and then fastened his teeth
Up jumped the horse and began to kick and gallop so that Reynard
dashed against stock and stone, and was so bruised and battered
nearly lost his senses.
All at once a hare rushed by. "Where are you off to in such
Reynard?" said the hare.
"I'm having a ride, Bunny!" said the fox.
The hare sat up on his hind legs and laughed till the sides of
mouth split right up to his ears, at the thought of Reynard having
a grand ride; but since then the fox has never thought of catching
That time it was Bruin who for once had the better of Reynard;
otherwise they say the bear is as simple-minded as the trolls.