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Native American Stories : The Fox And The Wolf

Fox and Wolf

Tales of the North American Indians

The Fox And The Wolf

Very long ago there were two men living together, and making maple-sugar. They made one mokok (“bark box”) of sugar, and then they cached it away, burying it, and said to each other, “We will let it remain here until we are very hungry.”
The younger man was a Fox, and he was a good hunter. Every time he went out, he brought home chickens or small wild game. The other man was a greedy Wolf, and he never killed anything, or brought anything home: so Fox thought he would play a trick on his chum for being lazy.
“You ought to go over to that house,” said Fox to Wolf. “Maybe they will give you something to eat. When I went over there, they gave me a chicken.”
So Wolf went over as he was told. When he got to the house, he did not hide himself, but went in open sight. The owner of the house saw the Wolf coming up; so he set his dogs on him to drive him away; and Wolf escaped only by running into the river.
“So it is this one that takes off our chickens!” said the man.
When Wolf arrived at his home, he told his younger brother, Fox, “Why, I hardly escaped from that man!”
[Page 255] “Why!” said Fox to him. “They did not recognize you; that’s why.” But Wolf made no answer.
While they were in the house together, Fox went outside, and cried, “He!” to deceive Wolf.
“What’s the matter with you?” asked Wolf.
“Oh! they have come after me to give a name to a child.”
“Then you’d better go over. Maybe they will give you something to eat.”
Instead of going, however, Fox went to their cache of maple-sugar, and ate some of it. When he returned, Wolf asked him, “What did you name the baby?”
“Mokimon,” replied Fox; and this word means to “reveal” or “dig out” something you have hidden.
At another time, while they were sitting together, Fox said, “He!” and “Oh, yes!”
“What’s that?” inquired Wolf.
“Oh, I am called to give a name to a newborn baby.”
“Well, then, go. Maybe they will give you something to eat.” So Fox went and returned.
“What’s the name of the child?” asked Wolf.
This time, Fox answered, “Wapiton,” and this word means “to commence to eat.”
At another time, time, Fox cried out, “He!” and “All right!” as though some one had called to him, “I’ll come.”
“What’s that?” asked Wolf.
“They want me to go over and name their child.”
“Well, then, go,” says Wolf. “You always get something to eat every time they want you.”
So Fox went, and soon returned.. Wolf asked him again, “What name did you give it?”
“Hapata kiton,” answered Fox; that is to say, “half eaten.”
Then another time Fox cried “He!” as if in answer to some one speaking to him, and then, as though some one called from the distance, “Hau!”
Wolf, as he did not quite hear, asked Fox what the matter was.
“Oh, nothing!” replied Fox, “only they want me to come over and name their child.”
“Well, then, you’d better go. Maybe you’ll get a chance to eat; maybe you’ll fetch me something too.”
So Fox started out, and soon returned home.
[Page 256] “Well, what name did you give this time?” asked Wolf.
“Noskwaton,” said Fox; and this means “all licked up.”
Then Wolf caught on. “Maybe you are eating our stored maple-sugar!” he cried. But Fox sat still and laughed at him.
Then Wolf went over and looked at their cache. Sure enough, he found the empty box with its contents all gone, and pretty well licked up. Meantime Fox skipped out, and soon found a large tree by the river, leaning out over the water. He climbed into its branches and hid there. Presently the angry Wolf returned home, and, not finding Fox, tracked him to the tree. Wolf climbed part way to Fox without seeing him, as he was on the branches. Then Wolf was afraid, and while he was hesitating, he happened to look at the water, and there he saw the reflection of Fox laughing at him on the surface. The Wolf, in a fury, plunged into the bottom of the stream, but of course failed to catch Fox. He tried four times, and after the fourth attempt he was tired, and quit jumping in for a while. While he was resting, he looked up and saw Fox laughing at him. Then Wolf said to Fox, “Let’s go home and make up”; for he thought in his heart that anyway Fox was feeding him all the time.
By and by it became winter. Fox frequently went out, and returned with abundance of fish.
“How do you manage to get so many?” asked Wolf.
“You’d better go out and try for yourself,” said Fox. “The way I do, when I am fishing, is to cut a hole in the ice. I put my tail in, instead of a line, and I remain there until I feel bites. I move ahead a little to let the fish string on my tail; but I stay a long time, until I get a great many fish on my tail. When it feels pretty heavy, I jerk it out, and catch all I want.”
Fox was in hopes that he could get Wolf frozen to death in the ice, and so avoid the necessity of feeding him any longer. So he took Wolf out, and cut five holes in the ice,–one for his tail, and one for each paw,–telling him he could catch more fish that way. Wolf staid there to fish all night. Every once in a while he would move his feet or tail a little, and they felt so heavy, he was sure he was getting a tremendous load; and he staid a little longer. In the mean time he was freezing fast in the ice. When he found out the predicament he was in, he jerked backwards and forwards again and again, until all the hair wore off his tail, and there he was. He thought he had let too many fish on his tail and feet to haul them out, and he [Page 257] worked hard to free himself. At last he wore his tail out at the surface of the ice, and pulled off his claws and the bottoms of his feet. Fox told him he had caught too many fish, and that they had bitten his tail and feet; and Wolf believed it.
Another time, Fox found a wasp’s nest in a tree: so he went home and told Wolf that there was honey in it, and persuaded him to try and jump up and get it, on the plea that Wolf could jump higher than he could. As soon as Wolf set out to try, Fox ran away, and Wolf was nearly stung to death. Fox fled over a wagon-road to conceal his tracks, and as he travelled, he met a negro with a team, hauling a load of bread. Fox, cunning as he was, lay down on the side of the road and pretended that he was dead. The negro saw him lying there, and picked him up and put him in his wagon behind his load. Fox very presently came to, and, waiting for his chance, he would throw off a loaf of bread every now and then, till he had gotten rid of a good many, Then he jumped off, and carried the loaves to a secret place, where he built him a shelter, and prepared to live for a time.
In the mean time, Wolf came along, half starved, and crippled from his meddling with a live wasp’s nest and from his fishing experience.
Fox fed him on his arrival, and said, “You ought to do the way I did. It’s easy to get bread. I got mine by playing dead on the road. To-morrow the negro will pass by with another load; and you can watch for him and do as I did, and steal his bread.”
Next morning, Wolf started out to watch the road and pretty soon he saw the negro coming with a big load of bread: so he lay down beside the road, where the {negro} could see him, and played dead. The {negro} did see him, sure enough; and he stopped his team, and got off and got a big stick, and knocked Wolf over the head, and killed him dead for sure.
“I will not get fooled this time!” he said, “for yesterday I lost too many loaves of bread for putting a dead Fox in my wagon without examining him!”
So he did take the Wolf home dead. That ended him, and since then Fox has eaten alone.

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