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Little Grey Wolf True-Beaten Black And Blue

2006-07-13 22:42

  Little Grey Wolf True was a nice, polite wolf and it was not till he had gone off to see the great wide world that he came to be called Little Grey Wolf True-Beaten Black and Blue. Now, this is the way it happened.

  One day Little Wolf's mother went to the forest to see how fast the rabbits were growing and she told her children to stay quickly in their den and wait till she came back. Little Wolf, who was lying on a bed of dry leaves, was left alone with his little sisters. He soon got up and played games with them, but tiring of this and of having nothing to do, he crept to the door and glanced out. The great wide world spread out before him, a world he had never seen. The forests were dark, the hills blue, and the sun very bright. Oh, how beautiful it all was!

  Little Wolf, who was a brave little wolf, did not take long to decide whether to be a good little wolf and stay at home or a bad little wolf and go to see more of the great wide world. He would not listen to his sisters who tried to make him stay with them and crawled out of the den. Little Wolf was a very little wolf and his legs did not hold him up properly. So, not being able to move very fast, he did not get very far and was in a thicket amid some hazel bushes when someone seized him by the scruff of the neck! In no time at all the frightened little thing found himself back in the family den, and it was only then that he learnt that it was his mother who had come across him on her way home and carried him back with her.

  After that the mother wolf watched over her son with greater care than ever before. Whenever she took her children out walking she would stay with them in the glade and take them home again before it grew light, and she would keep an eye on Little Wolf all of the time, giving him more of her attention than she did to her other five children taken together. Now, Little Wolf was so full of curiosity and eagerness to learn all about everything that whenever he chanced to get away from his mother he would keep her waiting a long, long time before he came back. And as for the mother wolf, she both rejoiced at having such a clever little son and feared to let him out into the world before he had learnt enough to be able to take care of himself.

  Feeling that she had to pass on to her children all of her own hard-won knowledge, she started by weaning them. She thought them quite big enough now to eat meat, and there was plenty of it to be had in the forest. She killed a mouse and gave it to them, but they hated the sight of it and could not understand why they were expected to eat something that did not flow like milk and that they had to tear with their teeth. But after they had tried some meat once or twice they liked it so much that they begged their mother to let them have more. Once, she brought them a dead rabbit, and, oh, how they gnashed their teeth and growled and tore at it, and Little Wolf was the greediest and quickest of them and snatched the best pieces for himself. He was an able pupil, and one day the mother wolf took him out hunting with her for the first time.

  Not far from the forest was a wide field where a young shepherd was grazing sheep. The mother wolf saw the sheep and explained to Little Wolf how to get close to them. He was to move against the wind, she told him, so the dogs would not scent him, creep from one bush to another to avoid being seen and then wait for the shepherd to doze away or to at least close his eyes. When that happened he was seize the sheep closest to him and run!

  Little Wolf did just as his mother said. He crept close to the flock of sheep and when the time was ripe seized a lamb with his teeth, threw it over his shoulder and made off it. The dogs began to bark, but he was far away by then and out of reach.

  After that the young shepherd kept a closer watch over his sheep. One day, as he waited for the Wolf to come, he got it into his head to play a joke on the villagers, a very foolish thing to do indeed. “Help! Help! A wolf!” he cried. The villagers came running, some with pitchforks, others with rakes, and lo! - there was no wolf there. The shepherd burst out laughing at having fooled them, and Little Wolf, who had been waiting on the edge of the forest, stole up close to the flock, and as soon as the angry villagers went away, seized a lamb and took to his heels. In vain did the shepherd call for help: no one came, for no one believed him any more. And Little Wolf, watching from afar, laughed at him, saying: “You got what you asked for, you little liar!”

  By then Little Wolf had learnt all he needed to know, and his mother said:

  “It is time for you to go out into the world by yourself now, son, and seek your fortune. Only mind, always think first before doing anything.”

  Little Wolf set out on his way. He walked and he walked, he crossed forests and hills, and after a while he was very hungry. By and by he met Little Sister Fox. She was riding in a sledge to which a cow was harnessed and goading the cow on with a stick. Little Wolf's mouth began to water, for he could not help thinking how good the cow would be to eat, and he said to the Fox:

  “Please, Little Sister, let me ride with you.”

  “I can't do that, the sledge might break,” the Fox replied.

  “Well, then, just let me put one of my legs on it.”

  So politely did Little Wolf speak that Little Sister Fox thought there would be no harm in letting him do as he asked. Little Wolf threw one leg over the side of the sledge, and the sledge gave a loud creak.

  “Did you hear that, Little Wolf?” cried Little Sister Fox. “You'll break my sledge!”

  “That wasn't the sledge creaking but my bones,” Little Wolf said. “I haven't eaten for such a long time!”

  “Oh, all right, get into the sledge, all of you!” the Fox said.

  The Wolf did not wait to be asked a second time and climbed into the sledge. But no sooner had he done so than the sledge creaked loudly again and broke under him.

  “Oh, oh, what did I tell you!” the Fox cried. “You've broken the sledge and now it will have to be repaired.”

  Little Wolf at once got out an axe and went with it at the sledge, and lo! - the sledge broke in two.

  Little Sister Fox was very angry.

  “What are you doing, you fool!” she cried. “Give me that axe and I'll go and cut down a tree. I'll have to make a new sledge now. You wait here and watch over my cow.”

  “I will, you can depend on it!” said Little Wolf, his mouth watering, and no sooner was the Fox out of his sight than he pounced on the cow, killed it and set to eating the meat with great relish. And when he had had his fill he walked away without so much as a thank you to the Fox!

  By and by Little Sister Fox came back, dragging a tree behind her and calling to the Wolf when she was still some distance away:

  “Are you watching my cow, Little Wolf?”

  There was no reply, and the Fox said to herself:

  “Little Wolf must have run away. It's lucky the cow's still there, I can see it lying on the ground.”

  But when she came nearer and saw what Little Wolf had done she knew how foolish she had been and beat her head against a tree in despair.

  And as for Little Wolf, he was very pleased with himself for having been able to trick someone as sly as the Fox and was sure now that he could make his way in the world easily.

  He came out onto the road that led to the village, and what did he see there but a peasant riding along in a cart. The road was a bumpy one, the cart was flung violently about, and just as Little Wolf came nearer something fell out of it. He looked and saw that it was a piece of salt pork.

  “I'm in luck!” said Little Wolf to himself. “I can have some nice fat pork after all that dry beef. Only salt pork is very salty usually and will make me thirsty. I think I'd better run to that brook over there first and have a drink of water.”

  Off made Little Wolf for the brook, and while he was away the peasant noticed that he had lost a piece of pork and went back for it. Little Wolf returned, and lo! - the pork was gone.

  “Oh, how foolish I am!” he cried. “Why did I have to drink before eating?”

  He walked on, and by and by whom should he see standing by the side of the road but a Wild Boar, and a good, fat boar he was.

  “Now, there's a nice piece pork for me to eat!” thought Little Wolf. “Only how am I to get at him?” And he said to the Boar:

  “Hello there, Boar!”

  “Hello, Dog!” the Boar replied.

  This made Little Wolf very angry.

  “How dare you call me dog, I am a wolf and as true a wolf as they make them!” he said.

  The Boar was frightened.

  “Please don't be angry!” he begged. “It's just that I didn't recognize you.”

  “Oh, no, Wolf, I am old and my flesh is tough. Better get on my back and I'll take you to where some young pigs are grazing. There you'll have plenty to choose from.”

  Little Wolf was overjoyed and got on the Boar's back. Ad the Boar took him to a village and called: “Oink, oink!”

  “What are you making so much noise for, Boar?” asked Little Wolf.

  “I want the pigs to come and bring their young with them,” the Boar, who was as sly as he was old, replied.

  But instead of the pigs who should come running but the villagers! They fell on Little Wolf with pitchforks, flails and pokers, and they gave him such a beating that from that day on he was called Little Grey Wolf True-Beaten Black and Blue.

  The villagers let him go finally, and Little Wolf ran to the forest. He lay down there for a rest and he thought about all he had gone through.

  “Oh, how foolish I am!” he said to himself. “I even let that foolish old Boar get the better of me.”

  He rose to his feet and roamed the forest, but it was not long before he began to feel that if he did not eat soon he would die of hunger.

  By and by he met a man coming toward him and he stopped where he was and barred his way.

  “I will eat you up!” he said.

  “Very well,” said the man. “Only let me throw away this stick of mine first so it won't be in your way.”

  To this Little Wolf agreed, and he stood there politely and waited for the man to do as he said. He did not know that it was not a stick the man was holding but a gun, and when the man pressed the trigger the only thing that saved Little Wolf's life was that he happened to bend down just then, and even so the fur on his back was scorched. Little Wolf did not wait any more but took to his heels, and he ran so fast that the leaves rained down from the trees.

  The man ran after him, and this made Little Wolf run even faster. He reached the edge of the forest and he saw a poor peasant there ploughing a field.

  “Please, my good man, hide me,” begged Little Wolf. “I will be grateful to you always.”

  Now, beside the furrow lay an empty sack, and the peasant thrust Little Wolf into it. The man who had been following him ran out into the field, but, not seeing Little Wolf there, went back to the forest.

  The peasant let Little Wolf out of the sack, but instead of thanking him, Little Wolf pounced on him and cried: “And now I will eat you up!”

  “So that is the thanks I get for hiding you from the hunter!” the peasant said.

  “I owe you no thanks, for you were one of those that gave me a beating in the village,” said Little Wolf with a growl.

  The peasant looked at him in surprise.

  “I never set eyes on you before!” he said.

  “I don't care if you did or not, I'm so hungry that I'll eat you up just the same!”

  At this the Fox, who had heard them talking, came running out of the forest.

  “What are you quarrelling about?” she asked.

  “Be our judge, Sister Fox,” the peasant said. “I hid Little Wolf from the hunter, and now he threatens to eat me up. Now, is that a nice thing to do?”

  “I can only reply to that when I have seen for myself how you hid Little Wolf,” the Fox replied.

  “Go ahead and show her!” Little Wolf said, and he crawled into the sack.

  The peasant did not think long. He tied the sack quickly, and, taking a stick, beat Little Wolf with it as hard as he could.

  Sister Fox burst out laughing, and Little Wolf cried:

  “Please let me out, my good man, please!”

  “How can I do that when you mean to eat me up?” said the peasant with a laugh.

  “Oh, no, only let me out and I'll never even think about it again or eat meat at all, ever!”

  The peasant let him out, and Little Wolf ran away across the field, but so hungry was he that his legs carried him of themselves to the village, he came to the nearest hut, and what did he see but the mistress of the house feeding a pig in the yard.

  Little Wolf sat down by the gate and watched her, but though the sight of the pig made his mouth water he dared not come inside.

  “If the people come running again with their pitchforks and flails I'll not get away from them alive again,” said he to himself.

  The woman went into the hut, and pig climbed into the trough and began gulping down the slop.

  Little Wolf wasted no time.

  “What is slop but water,” said he to himself. “So there's water in the trough, and a fish in the water. And I never promised anyone not to eat fish.”

  He ran into the yard, seized the pig and made off with it for the forest. He killed it and ate his fill of the meat, and then he patted his belly and said:

  “One has got to suffer before one learns to be wise.”

  And with that we end our tale.

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