There was once a Fox who built herself a hut and lived there as snug as you please. But winter came, it was cold in the hut, and so off the Fox ran to the village to fetch a light for her stove. She came to an Old Woman’s house and said:
“Top of the morning, Grandma! Do give me a light, and I will do as much for you some day.”
“Very well, Sister Fox,” the Old Woman said. “Sit down and warm up while I take my baking out of the oven.”
Now, the Old Woman was baking some poppy-seed cakes. She took them out of the oven and put them on the table to cool. And the Fox took one look at them, and, snatching up a cake, made off with it. She ate up the poppy-seed filling, stuffed the cake full of straw, covered it with the crust and set off on her way again at a run.
She ran and she ran till she saw two shepherd boys driving a herd of cows to water.
“Good morning, my fine lads!” the Fox called.
“Good morning to you, Sister Fox!”
“Let’s trade! You give me a young bull and I’ll give you this poppy-seed cake.”
“But mind you don’t eat the cake till I leave the village.”
So the Fox gave the shepherds the cake in return for a young bull. She made off with the bull for the forest, and the shepherds began to eat the cake and found it stuffed full of straw.
Sister Fox came to her hut and she cut down a tree and made herself a sledge. She harnessed the bull-calf to the sledge and went driving along, and by and by who should come running toward her but Brother Wolf.
“Good morning, Sister Fox!” called the Wolf.
“Good morning to you, Brother Wolf!”
“Where did you get the sledge and the little bull?”
“I made them.”
“Do let me ride with you a little way, Sister Fox!”
“How can I do that? You’ll break my sledge.”
“No, I won’t. I’ll just put one of my legs on it.”
“Oh, very well.”
So the Fox and the Wolf went driving along together, and by and by the Wolf said:
“I think I’ll put my second leg on the sledge, Sister Fox!”
“Don’t, for you’ll break the sledge, Brother Wolf.”
“No, I won’t.”
“Well, go ahead, then!”
So the Wolf put another leg on the sledge, and he and the Fox went driving along again when suddenly there came a great c-r-rack!
“Hey there, you’re breaking my sledge, Brother Wolf!” the Fox cried.
“No, I’m not, Sister Fox, I was only cracking a nut.”
“Oh, well, if that was all!”
So the two of them went driving along again, and by and by the Wolf said:
“I think I’ll put my third leg on the sledge now, Sister Fox.”
“Don’t be silly! You’ll break the sledge, and then what will I have to carry my firewood in?”
“I won’t break it. Never you feral”
“Oh, very well, then.”
So the Wolf put his third leg on the sledge, and something went cr-r-ack! ? again.
“Dear me! You’d better go away, Brother Wolf, or you’ll break my sledge!” said the Fox.
“No, Sister Fox, I was only cracking a nut,
“Give me one!”
“I haven’t any more- That was the last.”
They went driving along again, and by and by the Wolf said:
“I think I’ll climb into your sledge now, Sister Fox.”
“You mustn’t, Brother Wolf, you’ll break the sledge!” No, I won’t. I’ll be careful.”
“Well, see that you are!”
So the Wolf climbed into the sledge and of course it broke under him and fell to pieces!
The Fox was furious. She scolded the Wolf and she scolded him. And -en she said:
“Go and cut down a tree. You bad so-and-so, and chop it up into logs, enough to keep my house warm and to make a new sledge too, and then put the logs here!”
“How will I do that?” said the Wolf. “I don’t know which tree You want.”
“You bad so-and-so!” the Fox cried. “You knew how to break my sledge, but when it comes to chopping down a tree, You pretend You don’t know how to do it.”
She scolded and scolded him and then she said:
“As soon as You come to the forest You must say: “Fall do crooked and straight! Fall down, tree, crooked and straight!”
Off the Wolf went, he came to the forest and said:
“Fall down, tree, crooked and crooked! Fall down, tree, crock crooked!”
The tree fell down, and the logs were so twisted and knobby even a stick could be made out of them, let alone sledge runners.
The Wolf took the logs to the Fox, and the Fox took one look and began scolding the Wolf harder than ever.
You bad so-and-so,” she said, You must have said the wrong
“Oh no, Sister Fox! What I said was: ‘Fall down, tree, crooked and crooked!'”
“I knew it! What a blunder-head You are! Sit here, and I’ll go and chop down a tree myself.”
And off the Fox went.
There sat the Wolf, and by and by he began to grow very hungry. He looked all over the Fox’s hut but found nothing. He thought and he thought and said to himself:
“I think I’ll eat the little bull and run away.”
He made a hole in the bull’s side, ate up his insides, stuffed the bull full of sparrows, sealed the hole with a handful of straw and himself ran away.
By and by the Fox came back. She made herself a beautiful new sledge, climbed in and called:
“Giddy-up, little bull!”
But the bull-calf never stirred from the spot.
Then the Fox took up a stick and she gave the bull such a blow that the handful of straw fell from his side, and the sparrows flew out with a wh-o-o-sh!
“You wicked, wicked Wolf!” cried the Fox. “You wait, I’ll pay You back for this!”
And off she went.
She stretched herself out on the road and lay there very quietly.
By and by some chumak carters came driving up with a wagon caravan loaded with fish. The Fox lay there without stirring and pretended to be dead.
The men looked and were much surprised.
“Let’s take the Fox and sell it, brothers,” said they. “We ought to be able to get enough money for it to buy some liquor.”
They threw the Fox into the last wagon and drove on. The Fox saw that they never looked back and began to throw the fish one after another out onto the road. Then, leaving the cart only half full, she climbed down herself.
The men drove on, and the Fox gathered up the fish, sat down and began to eat.
By and by the Wolf came running up.
“Hello there, Sister Fox!” he called.
“Hello yourself, Brother Wolf!”
“What are You doing, Sister Fox?”
“Give me some!”
“Go catch them yourself.”
“I can’t, I don’t know how to do it!”
“Well, that’s your business, You won’t get as much as a bone from me.’-
” Won’t You at least tell me how to do it”
And the Fox said to herself:
“You wait, Little Brother! You ate my little bull and now I’ll pay You back for it!”
Then she turned to the Wolf and said:
“Go to the river, put your tail into an ice hole, move it slowly back and forth and say: ‘Come and be caught, fish, big and small!’ That way you’ll catch all the fish You want.”
“Thank You for telling me,” said the Wolf.
He ran to the river, let down his tail into an ice hole, moved it slowly, back and forth and said:
“Come and be caught, fish, big and small!”
And the Fox looked out at him through the reeds on the bank and said:
“Freeze, freeze, Wolf’s tail!”
Now, there was a bitter frost out, and the Wolf kept moving his tail back and forth and saying:
“Come and be caught, fish, big and small!”
And the Fox kept repeating:
“Freeze, freeze, Wolf’s tail!”
There the Wolf stayed catching fish till his tail was frozen fast to the ice, and when that happened the Fox ran to the village and cried:
“Come, good people, and kill the Wolf!”
And the villagers came running with pokers, prongs and axes. They fell on the poor Wolf and killed him.
And as for the Fox, she still lives in her hut as snug as You please.
Russian Stories From the Old Days…