ONCE upon a time there was a partridge, and that partridge was sorely troubled, for no one in this world is safe from trouble and worry. Her trouble was that for some time back she was not able to rear her young, because of AUNTIE FOX, who made a royal feast of the young brood. No sooner did the fox find out that the partridge had hatched her young, than she tied some brambles to her tail, and, dragging it along the ground, pretended to plough the land, close to the place where the partridge had her nest. Turning to the partridge, the fox would say:
"How dare you trespass on my land. Off you go, lest I eat you up." The partridge, frightened, would run away, and the fox would eat the young. This had gone on for three years. On the fourth year it so happened that, while the partridge was weeping, just as a man will do out of worry and grief, she met a hound.
"What is the matter with thee, friend; why dost thou weep so, what ails thee, why art thou so inconsolable?"
"Eh!" said the poor bird, "I am full of trouble."
Then the hound said sympathetically, "What has happened unto thee?"
"What has happened unto me? O! dear friend, so many years have I tried to rear my young, and no sooner do I see God's blessing when auntie fox, with the brambles and thorns trailing behind her tail, comes and claims the land, and says, 'Hast thou again hatched young on my land? Get thee off lest I eat thee.' And I am so frightened that I run away, and the fox then takes the family and leaves me childless." The bird stopped here and looked despairingly at the hound. She wondered what he could do for her. But no one knows whence help may come, and just when it is least expected it comes. And so it happened to the bird. The dog who had been sitting all the time, listening as it were with half-closed ears, suddenly shook himself and said, "Is that the trouble which ails thee?"
"Yes, that is my trouble."
"Well, if that be so, let me come with thee, and may be that I shall be of some help."
And so they both went to the nest of the partridge. There the dog crouched behind the bushes and waited for the fox to come. He had not to wait very long until the fox came with the brambles tied to her tail, and, pulling it along, made pretence of ploughing the land. "Now then you partridge, are you trespassing again--"
But the fox was not allowed to finish the sentence, for out of the bushes sprang the dog. The fox took to her legs, running as fast as they would carry her. Now, whether the hound ran or did not run I do not know, but I certainly can say that the fox ran for all she was worth and raised a cloud of dust behind her. And so she ran and ran until she reached her lair, and she buried herself deep in the ground, very thankful to have saved her skin from the jaws of death. The hound, wearied, tired, and vexed that the fox had escaped, settled down at the mouth of the lair waiting for the chance that the fox would come out again, that he might set his eyes upon her, but it was all in vain, for the fox, once safe, never dreamt of coming out again. But then the fox, having nothing else to do, started talking to herself.
"Clever fox, clever fox, I know that thou takest care of thy skin. Well, thou didst well to save thyself, and to get safely away from that hound. Now let me ask my eyes, 'What did you do when the hound was after me?'"
"Well, we, turning right and left, looked out to see which way we could save thee and hide thee."
"Dear eyes," said the fox, and full of satisfaction, she stroked them with her paws.
"Now I will ask my forelegs."
"And ye, my forelegs, what did you do when the hound was chasing me?"
"What did we do? We ran as fast as we could to carry thee safe to the lair and to save thee."
"Very good, then, my darlings," and she kissed them and stroked them lovingly.
Then she asked the hind legs.
"What did you do when the hound was chasing me?"
"What did we do? We raised the dust and threw it into his eyes to save thee."
"My darlings," again the fox said, and licked them and caressed them, "so must you always do."
The fox, having nothing else to do, said, "I must now ask thee, tail, 'What didst thou do, O my tail?'"
"I, what was I to do? I waddled to the right and left and yet he never caught me. If it were not for the legs, I am afraid I should not see the sun any more, and neither wouldst thou, O fox."
"As thou sayest, then, thou art the only one who did not help me, thou art mine enemy, for if it were not for the blessed legs, none of us would have seen the sun any more. All right, out thou goest, thou fool. Thou must no longer be with me or with my darling eyes." And, turning round, she crawled backwards and pushed it out of the lair. The hound, who was sitting outside, was just waiting for this, and no sooner did he see the bush of the tail coming out than he pounced on it and, getting hold of it, he pulled with all his might and dragged out tail and fox together. And that was the end of the fox. The fox may have been very clever, but the old proverb is true. "Each animal dies through his own tongue." And since that time the partridge hatches her young unmolested, and the land of the fox has remained unploughed.
This Rumanian tale belongs to a large cycle of similar tales, of which the Rumanian seems to have preserved only the first part, unless the second part has afterwards been tacked on to it. In the extended tale the dog asks for the payment of the food, drink, and merriment which the bird had promised.
An almost identical story is found among the Slavonic Tales, Krauss, No. 9. In this no mention is made of the fox claiming to be the landowner. It is only out of pity for the partridge that the dog attacks the fox, which runs away, and then the story continues exactly like the Rumanian. The first part of No. 6 is another parallel to the Rumanian tale, but it is greatly reduced and is only the first part of a much longer tale of "The Starling, the Fox, and the Dog."
The starling promises the dog food, drink, and merriment, if he would avenge it against the fox, who, in spite of sworn friendship, had taken advantage of the absent starling to eat the young birds. The tale contains also the episode of the fox's undoing. But then the Slavonic story goes on to detail the manner in which the starling outwitted a boy who carried food to his people on the field, a man who carried a wine cask, and a hewer of wood, all to provide for the promised food, drink, and merriment of, the dog.
This last part, as a tale by itself, quite independent of the story of the dog and fox, is found in Haltrich, No. 81. Here the bird offers food, drink and merriment to the fox who is to spare her young.
In a more reduced form still, the first part having entirely disappeared, the story appears in Grimm, iii. p. 100, who refers to a similar episode in the French version of Reinecke and to an Esthonian tale. Cf. also the Russian Tale in Afanasief, No. 32.
Story of the Partridge, the Fox and the Hound, The.
Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories
Sidgwick & Jackson
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