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Reynard And Bruin

from Europa's Fairy Book





You must know that once upon a time Reynard the Fox and Bruin the Bear
went into partnership and kept house together. Would you like to know
the reason? Well, Reynard knew that Bruin had a beehive full of
honeycomb, and that was what he wanted; but Bruin kept so close a
guard upon his honey that Master Reynard didn't know how to get away
from him and get hold of the honey. So one day he said to Bruin,
"Pardner, I have to go and be gossip--that means god-father, you
know--to one of my old friends." "Why, certainly," said Bruin. So off
Reynard goes into the woods, and after a time he crept back and
uncovered the beehive and had such a feast of honey. Then he went back
to Bruin, who asked him what name had been given to the child. Reynard
had forgotten all about the christening and could only say,
"Just-begun." "What a funny name," said Master Bruin.

A little while after Reynard thought he would like another feast of
honey. So he told Bruin that he had to go to another christening; and
off he went. And when he came back and Bruin asked him what was the
name given to the child Reynard said, "Half-eaten." The third time the
same thing occurred, and this time the name given by Reynard to the
child that didn't exist was "All-gone,"--you can guess why.

A short time afterwards Master Bruin thought he would like to eat up
some of his honey and asked Reynard to come and join him in the feast.
When they got to the beehive Bruin was so surprised to find that there
was no honey left; and he turned round to Reynard and said,
"Just-begun, Half-eaten, All-gone--so that is what you meant; you have
eaten my honey." "Why no," said Reynard, "how could that be? I have
never stirred from your side except when I went a-gossiping, and then
I was far away from here. You must have eaten the honey yourself,
perhaps when you were asleep; at any rate we can easily tell; let us
lie down here in the sunshine, and if either of us has eaten the
honey, the sun will soon sweat it out of us." No sooner said than
done, and the two lay side by side in the sunshine. Soon Master Bruin
commenced to doze, and Mr. Reynard took some honey from the hive and
smeared it round Bruin's snout; then he woke him up and said, "See,
the honey is oozing out of your snout; you must have eaten it when you
were asleep."

Some time after this Reynard saw a man driving a cart full of fish,
which made his mouth water. So he ran and he ran and he ran till he
got far away in front of the cart and lay down in the road as still as
if he were dead. When the man came up to him and saw him lying there
dead, as he thought, he said to himself, "Why, that will make a
beautiful red fox scarf and muff for my wife Ann." And he got down and
seized hold of Reynard and threw him into the cart all along with the
fish, and then he went driving on as before. Reynard began to throw
the fish out till there were none left, and then he jumped out himself
without the man noticing it, who drove up to his door and called out,
"Ann, Ann, see what I have brought you." And when his wife came to the
door she looked into the cart and said, "Why, there is nothing there."

Reynard in the meantime had brought all his fish together and began
eating some when up comes Bruin and asked for a share. "No, no," said
Reynard, "we only share food when we have shared work. I fished for
these, you go and fish for others."

"Why, how could you fish for these? the water is all frozen over,"
said Bruin.

"I'll soon show you," said Reynard, and brought him down to the bank
of the river, and pointed to a hole in the ice and said, "I put my
tail in that, and the fish were so hungry I couldn't draw them up
quick enough. Why do you not do the same?"

So Bruin put his tail down and waited and waited but no fish came.
"Have patience, man," said Reynard; "as soon as one fish comes the
rest will follow."

"Ah, I feel a bite," said Bruin, as the water commenced to freeze
round his tail and caught it in the ice.



"Better wait till two or three have been caught and then you can catch
three at a time. I'll go back and finish my lunch."

And with that Master Reynard trotted up to the man's wife and said to
her, "Ma'am, there's a big black bear caught by the tail in the ice;
you can do what you like with him." So the woman called her husband
and they took big sticks and went down to the river and commenced
whacking Bruin who, by this time, was fast in the ice. He pulled and
he pulled and he pulled, till at last he got away leaving three
quarters of his tail in the ice, and that is why bears have such short
tails up to the present day.

Meanwhile Master Reynard was having a great time in the man's house,
golloping everything he could find till the man and his wife came back
and found him with his nose in the cream jug. As soon as he heard them
come in he tried to get away, but not before the man had seized hold
of the cream jug and thrown it at him, just catching him on the tail,
and that is the reason why the tips of foxes' tails are cream white to
this very day.



Well, Reynard crept home and found Bruin in such a state, who
commenced to grumble and complain that it was all Reynard's fault that
he had lost his tail. So Reynard pointed to his own tail and said,
"Why, that's nothing; see my tail; they hit me so hard upon the head
my brains fell out upon my tail. Oh, how bad I feel; won't you carry
me to my little bed." So Bruin, who was a good-hearted soul, took him
upon his back and rolled with him towards the house. And as he went on
Reynard kept saying, "The sick carries the sound, the sick carries the
sound."

"What's that you are saying?" asked Bruin.

"Oh, I have no brains left, I do not know what I am saying," said
Reynard but kept on singing, "The sick carries the sound, ha, ha, the
sick carries the sound."

Then Bruin knew that he had been done and threw Reynard down upon the
ground, and would have eaten him up but that the fox slunk away and
rushed into a briar bush. Bruin followed him closely into the briar
bush and caught Reynard's hind leg in his mouth. Then Reynard called
out, "That's right, you fool, bite the briar root, bite the briar
root."

Bruin thinking that he was biting the briar root, let go Reynard's
foot and snapped at the nearest briar root. "That's right, now you've
got me,

don't hurt me too much,"

called out Reynard, and slunk away.

"Don't hurt me too much,
don't hurt me too much."

When Bruin heard Reynard's voice dying away in the distance he knew
that he had been done again, and that was the end of their
partnership.

Some time after this a man was plowing in the field with his two oxen,
who were very lazy that day. So the man called out at them, "Get a
move on or I'll give you to the Bear"; and when they didn't quicken
their pace he tried to frighten them by calling out, "Bear, Bear, come
and take these lazy oxen." Sure enough, Bruin heard him and came out
of the woods and said, "Here I am, give me the oxen, or else it'll be
worse for you." The man was in despair but said, "Yes, yes, of course
they are yours, but please let me finish my morning's plowing so I may
finish this acre." Bruin could not say "No" to that, and sat down
licking his chops and waiting for the oxen. The man went on plowing,
thinking what he should do, when just at the corner of the field
Reynard came up to him and said, "If you will give me two geese, I'll
help you out of this fix and deliver the Bear into your hands." The
man agreed and he told him what to do and went away into the woods.
Soon after, the Bear and the man heard a noise like "Bow-wow,
Bow-wow"; and the Bear came to the man and said, "What's that?" "Oh,
that must be the lord's hounds out hunting for bears." "Hide me, hide
me," said Bruin, "and I will let you off the oxen." Then Reynard
called out from the wood, "What's that black thing you've got there?"
And the Bear said, "Say it's the stump of a tree." So when the man had
called this out to the Fox, Reynard called out, "Put it in the cart;
fix it with the chain; cut off the boughs, and drive your axe into the
stump." Then the Bear said to the man, "Pretend to do what he bids
you; heave me into the cart; bind me with the chain; pretend to cut
off the boughs, and drive the axe into the stump." So the man lifted
Bruin into the cart, bound him with the chain, then cut off his limbs
and buried the axe in his head.

Then Reynard came forward and asked for his reward, and the man went
back to his house to get the pair of geese that he had promised.

"Wife, wife," he called out, as he neared the house, "get me a pair of
geese, which I have promised the Fox for ridding me of the Bear."

"I can do better than that," said his wife Ann, and brought him out a
bag with two struggling animals in it.

"Give these to Master Reynard," said she; "they will be geese enough
for him." So the man took the bag and went down to the field and gave
the bag to Reynard; but when he opened it out sprang two hounds, and
he had great trouble in running away from them to his den.

When he got to his den the Fox asked each of his limbs, how they had
helped him in his flight. His nose said, "I smelt the hounds"; his
eyes said, "We looked for the shortest way"; his ears said, "We
listened for the breathing of the hounds"; and his legs said, "We ran
away with you." Then he asked his tail what it had done, and it said,
"Why, I got caught in the bushes or made your leg stumble; that is all
I could do." So, as a punishment, the Fox stuck his tail out of his
den, and the hounds saw it and caught hold of it, and dragged the Fox
out of his den by it and ate him all up. So that was the end of Master
Reynard, and well he deserved it. Don't you think so?





Next: The Dancing Water The Singing Apple And The Speaking Bird

Previous: Beauty And The Beast



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