The Farmer and the Fox
A farmer was tolling away in the fields one day, carrying his Hoe and Trowell, his Sicle and Scythe, and his twine to bind all that he was going tobring home that day. Now this farmer was getting on in years, his eyes not so sharp and his arms not so strong. At the end of the day he found that he could not carry all his tools and all the grain that he had harvested at the same time, so he sat down to think about his problem.
"What do I do?" He said, thinking about the consequences of either choice. "If I leave my tools, the morning dew will come and rust them. If I leave the grain, some beast of the land will come and eat it."
While he debated, a fox crept up to where the man sat, and looked up at him. Now this fox, he was a clever one. He always looked out for an opertunity to get away with tricks and things that wern't his, and so his friends and his adversaries called him Sharp-Eyed Fox. He liked the name.
So Sharp-Eyed Fox comes up to the feet of the farmer and says to the man, "I know what you can do, old farmer."
Now the farmer had heard tales about the trickyness of the foxes, so he was wary, but he had not heard about Shar-Eyed Fox, and he alays made sure that every man or beast had a chance to prove themselves before they were a target for his scorn.
The farmer sighed, and looked down at the little red fox. "Ok, little fox. You tell me your ideas, and if you help me, I will gladly share my grain with you."
Now Sharp-Eyed Fox had a great plan in his head. "Now here, old man. What you do is you leave your sicle and your scythe here, and most of your grain. And here I'll sit on top of your sicle and your scyth, and I'll watch your grain for you. That way you can carry some of your tools, and food for tonight."
The sky was getting dark, and the old farmer knew that he had to either trust the fox, or lose all the food he had harvested that day. The old farmer looked into fox's eyes and saw something there that he could not place, but he knew he had little choice.
"Ok Fox. We have a deal." So the farmer took a third of the grain, and his trowell and his hoe, and he walked home, ate, and slept.
Now Fox had no intention of doing what he said he would, so he went and got a few stick and stones and made some marks in the ground. Then he ate up all of the grain that the farmer had left, and he went back to his cave to sleep.
In the morning the farmer came back with his trowell and his hoe, to the place that the fox was supposed to be. The first thing he saw was that the grain was gone. The next thing he saw was his tools, all rusted and ruined, laying in the grass. Then he noticed he bear tracks all over the ground.
"Fox!" He called, "What happened here?"
Now fox came out of the grass and walked to where the man was, his red fur moist and his body shivering. "Oh old man!" fox cried, "It was terrible! Big old bear came out saying that ne needed a snack before he went to sleep for the winter! I tried to stop him from eating up all the grain, but I had to sit there on your tools!"
The old farmer looked at his poor scythe and his poor sickle, and then back to fox. "If you were sitting there on my poor scythe and my poor sicle, then why are they all rusted and ruined?"
Now Fox knew he was getting himself into some troube here, but he was a quick thinker, and came up with a good answer. "I had to run, old man! Big Old Bear said he was going to eat me too, if I was just going to sith there like that."
Now the farmer was suspicious, but he looked around and saw all the bear tracks, so he knew that Fox was telling him the truth.
Well, the farmer went back to his work, but he finished really late this night because he had to fix his sickle and his scythe before he could get to work. The old man found that it was far too late, and his old back was far too tired to carry everything back with him. He calls out again to Fox to try and get him to do his same favor again.
"Fox!" he yells, and almost as though the was waiting for the call, Sharp-Eyed Fox comes out of the grass and up to the famer again.
"Fox, will you sit on my tools and watch my grain again tonight?" The farmer asks.
"I don't know, old man. What if bear comes back and I need to run again?" the little red-furred animal says.
Now the farmer thinks for a second, "Well, you said that bear was just out for a snack before he slept all winter long. He shouldn't be coming back at all this time." He says to Fox.
Fox nods his head, and agrees to help again, though this is not what he intends at all. So the old famer goes home with a third of his grain and his hoe and his sickle, though as he turns he notices that Fox has two tails, not one. He thinks nothing of it and goes on his way.
He comes back the next morning to find his grain gone and his tools rusted. The ground this time though is covered with wolf prints, and fox gives him a story like before, though the wolves were there to get food for their cubs.
Farmer sighs, fixes his tools, and goes to work. That night he is again out of time and too tired to carry everything. Fox is waiting for him this time, and makes his same offer. The farmer takes him up on it and goes home, though he sees three tails on fox this time.
And so things went like this until the morning after the eighth night. First bear, then wolf, then tiger, then strix, then bobcat, then hawk, then spider, all come, one each night, to eat all the grain that the farmer had left.
This time there are mouse prints all over the ground, and farmer yells at fox, "Why did you run this time from mice? You eat mice! They do not frighten foxes!"
And Fox just smiles. After eight nights of beast prints, he had run out of ideas for a new beast, and with mice he had though he was being as clever as he ever was. "The mice were small and it was dark. They did not frighten me, but the sneaked past me to take all the grain."
It was after this that the farmer saw the eight tails on fox and the widend girth of his belly. He looked at his tools for a moment, seeing the rust on their edges, and finally realized that something was wrong. He kept his mouth shut, and returned to work, and once aain it was too dark and he was too tired to carry everything at once.
"Oh fox," he called, "would you watch again this grain and my tools. I cannot carry it all again."
Fox nodded and sat down on the tools one more time. Farmer came to him then, and gave him a full pheasant, the one that he had planned to eat for dinner that night. Fox looked at him, a bit puzzled, but took it anyway.
Farmer smiled and said to fox "This is for watching my things for me these past nights, and for all the danger you have gone through for me." Farmer left then, leaving the Fox with his dinner, and ran off faster than he had movied in quite a while.
Fox ate up, and was full after the pheasant was done. "I do not want all of the grain now." he said to himself, "And I am tired. I will sleep and eat the grain before the old man returns in the morning." HE curled up next to, but not on, the tools, and quicly fell into slumber.
Now while Fox ate and slept Farmer ran around the land, waking and calling all of the animals there. He told them all of Fox's tricks, and how he blamed each of them for eacting all of the grain and scaring him away from the tools. So farmer gathered up all of the animals, first bear, then wolf, then tiger, then strix, then bobcat, then hawk, then spider, then mice, and brought them all to where he left the fox and his sickle and his scythe and his grain.
All of them gathered around fox while he slept there, and each one plucked a tail from the back of fox, and he woke then, rubbing his poor behind, and was startled to see each of the animals and the old farmer standing there.
He watched as each of the animals ate one of his tails. Farmer looked down at fox then, and saw that there were no more tails on him. "Now fox, you've eaten all my grain for eight nights, and if i didn't feed you fist you would have done it again tonight. Each night you let my tools rust so I would have to take longer and call on you again. Well, each of the animals has gotten their fill, and I am still hungry."
So fox panicked then, and he tried to run. He could not move quicly though, his fattened gut was dragging on the ground. The old man caught up with the fox quickly, and smacked him with his rusty scythe.
He picked up poor fox and carried him all the way home, where he ate a good, heary meal of fox and grain, and went out into the fields the next day, carrying his tools on his strong back.