I DO not know how he managed it, but a fox one day got into a poultry-yard and there he ate his fill. Some time afterwards, going along to the poultry-yard, the hedgehog met him. "Where are you going, brother?"
"I am going to eat my fill."
"Surely you cannot get it just as you like."
"Oh," he said, "you just come with me and I will show you. I know my way, and there is plenty for me and for you, and some to leave behind for another time."
The hedgehog, who was a wise old fellow, said to the fox:
"Now, be careful; are you sure that the owners of the poultry yard will let you in again so easily?"
"Don't you trouble," said the fox. "I know my business, you just come with me." And the hedgehog went with him.
But the people of the poultry-yard were not such fools as the fox had taken them for, and just where the fox had got in last time they had dug a deep pit, and into that the fox and the hedgehog tumbled. When they found themselves at the bottom of the pit, the hedgehog turned to the fox and said, "Well, you clever fellow, is that the proper way to get into the poultry-yard? Did I not warn you?"
"What is the good of talking?" replied the fox, "We are here now, and we must see how to get out of it."
"But you are so clever, and I am only a poor old fool."
"Never mind, you were always a wise one. Can you help me?"
"No," he said, "I cannot help you. This sudden fall has upset me, and I feel queer and sick."
"What," cried the fox, "you are not going to be sick here; that is more than I can stand; out you go!"
So he got hold of the hedgehog by the snout, and the hedgehog coiled himself up with his little paws into a little ball round the fox's mouth, the fox lifted up his head with a jerk and threw the little fellow out of the pit.
As soon as he saw himself safely out of the pit, the little hedgehog, bending over the mouth of the pit, said, chuckling to the fox:
"Where is your wisdom, you fool? You boast that you have a bagful of wits, whilst it is I who get myself out of the pit though I have only a little wit."
"Oh," said the fox, whining, "do have pity on me! you are such a clever old fellow, help me out of it too."
"Well," said the hedgehog, "I will help you. Now, you pretend to be dead, and when the people come and find you stiff and stark, and a nasty smell about you, they will say, 'The fox has died and his carcase is rotting; it is going to make all the poultry yard offensive.' They will take you and throw you out. And then see whither your way lies."
The fox did as the hedgehog had advised him, and when the people came and found him in that state, they hauled him out and threw him out of the yard on to the road.
Quicker than you could clap your hands, the fox was on his legs, and he ran as if the ground was burning under him.
Since then the fox and the hedgehog are good friends.
South Slavonic Tales, Krauss, No. 13.
A fox meeting a hedgehog asked him, "How many wits have you?" And he replied, "Only three. But how many have you?" "I," boasted the fox, "have seventy-seven."
As they were talking and walking along, not noticing whither they were going, they fell into a deep hole which the peasants had dug. The fox asked the hedgehog to save him. The hedgehog said, "I have only three wits, perhaps you will save me first, then I will see about you afterwards"; and he asked the fox to pitch him out of the hole. The fox did so, and then asked the hedgehog whether he could help him. The hedgehog said, "I cannot help you with three if you cannot help yourself with seventy-seven." And so the fox was caught in the morning by the peasants and killed.
In the Rumanian version, the hedgehog saves the fox by one wit and puts him to shame, which rounds off the story much better; in the Slavonic tale there is scarcely any point.
But this probably goes back to a more ancient legend referred to in a Greek epigram, v. Benfey, Pantschatantra, i. 316.
Compare the parallel story in Grimm (No. 75) of a fox with the hundred wits, and also Hahn (91).
Story of the Fox and His Bagful of Wits and the One-Witted Hedgehog, The.
Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories
Sidgwick & Jackson
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