The Cat and The Fox
Once upon a time there a
peasant who had a cat, such a scamp of a cat that there was no way of
controlling him. The peasant couldn’t think what to do about him, but at last
one day he put him into a sack and carried him far away into the forest. He left
him there-no doubt, to perish.
The cat walked and walked and finally saw a little hut. He climbed up to the attic and lay down to rest. When he got hungry he went back to the forest to catch birds and mice. He got his fill and then went back happily to the attic. And so he lived there.
One day in the forest he met a fox-a vixen it was. She was surprised to see him.
”I’ve been living in the forest for years, and I’ve never seen an animals like you before,” she said. “Who are you, sir? How do you come to be here, and what is your name?”
The cat’s hair stood on end as he replied:
”My name is Tom and I’ve been sent here from the Siberian forest as leader of all the armies.”
”Ah, Tom,” said the fox, “I had never heard of you before. Come and visit me.”
The cat followed her. She brought him to her hole and fed him with every sort of game, and then she asked him:
”Tom, are you a married man or a bachelor?”
”And I,” said the fox, “am a spinster. Will you marry me?”
The cat agreed and they began to celebrate their engagement.
The next day the fox went out to hunt for food while the cat remained at home.
The fox raced about and caught a duck. She was carrying it home when she met a wolf.
”Stop, fox, give me the duck.”
”Well, I’ll get it all the same.”
”If you do, I’ll tell Tom about it and he’ll sentence you to death.”
”Who is Tom?”
”What? You don’t know? He has been sent to us as commander, all the way from the Siberian forest. I used to be the spinster fox and now I’m our commander’s wife.”
”No, I have never heard of him. Couldn’t I see him?”
”Oh, Tom is an angry creature, and if he doesn’t like someone he’ll eat him up at once. But maybe you could bring a lamb as an offering and put it somewhere where it can be seen, while you hide so that Tom can’t see you-otherwise, you’ll have a rough time.”
The wolf went to fetch the lamb and the fox ran home.
On her way she met a bear.
“Stop, fox, give me the duck,”
“You’d better go while the going’s good, my friend, or I’ll tell Tom and he’ll sentence you to death.”
”Who is Tom?”
”He’s been sent all the way from the Siberian forest to be our commander. I used to be spinster fox, and now I’m the wife of Tom, our commander-in-chief.”
”Couldn’t I have a look at him?”
”Oh, my Tom is an angry creature; if he doesn’t like the look of someone, he’ll eat him up at once. Of course, you could bring him an ox an offering and put it very much in view, while you hide well out of sight so that Tom can’t see you. If he does, you’ll have a rough time.”
The bear went to get an ox and the fox ran home. The wolf brought a lamb, skinned it, and set off the fox. Soon he met a bear dragging an ox.
”Greetings, Misha,” he said.
”Greetings, friend. Have you seen the fox and her husband?”
”No, Misha, I’m waiting for them myself.”
”Why don’t you go and fetch them?” asked the bear.
”No, no, I don’t want to-I’m too clumsy. You’d better do it.”
”No, no, friend, I’m shaggy and not nimble-I’d never do it.”
Suddenly out of the blue, a hare came running. Both the bear and the wolf shouted at him:
”Come here, Master Hare!”
The hare drew back his ears and made himself small.
”You’re swift on your paws and nimble. Run to the fox and tell her that the bear and the wolf are ready and are expecting her with her husband to collect their offerings-an ox and a lamb.”
The hare raced as fast as he could to the fox while the bear and the wolf wondered where to hide.”
The bear said:
”I’ll climb the fir tree.”
The wolf said:
”Where shall I go? I can’t a tree. Hide me some where.”
The bear hid the wolf in the bushes, covered him up with dry leaves, and climbed to the top of the fir tree, where he sat watching for the fox and her husband.
Meanwhile the hare got to the fox’s hole.
”The bear and the wolf have sent me to tell you that they are ready and expecting you and your husband with an ox and a lamb,” he said.
”Right, Master Hare, we’re coming,’ they said and off they went. They bear saw them and said to the wolf:
”The commander-in-chief is quite tiny!”
The cat pounced on the ox, his hair on end, and began to tear at the flesh with teeth and paws, growling angrily as he did so. Then the bear said to the wolf:
”He’s small, but greedy. It would take more than us to eat the ox, but it’s not enough for him. He might even work up an appetite for us!”
The wolf wanted to have a peep at Tom as well, but the dry leaves were in his way. He started to move them softly with his paws. The cat heard the rustling, thought it might be a mouse, and rushed at the bushes. His claws dug straight into the wolf’s eyes!
The wolf was terrified and ran for his life. The cat was frightened too, and climbed up the very tree where the bear was sitting.
”Well,’ thought the bear, “the end has come; he’s seen me!”
There was no time to climb down, so he tumbled to the ground, bruised and shattered, and took to his heels.
And the fox shouted:
”Run, run, or he’ll have your skin!”
From then on all the animals lived in fear of the cat. The cat and the fox laid in a great store of meat for the winter, and lived happily ever after.
Copyright © 2006 Russian Fairy Tales