The Fox and the Cat

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

It happened that the cat met Mr. Fox in the woods. She thought, "He is intelligent and well experienced, and is highly regarded in the world," so she spoke to him in a friendly manner, "Good-day, my dear Mr. Fox. How is it going? How are you? How are you getting by in these hard times?"

The fox, filled with arrogance, examined the cat from head to feet, and for a long time did not know whether he should give an answer. At last he said, "Oh, you poor beard-licker, you speckled fool, you hungry mouse hunter, what are you thinking? Have you the nerve to ask how I am doing? What do you know? How many tricks do you understand?"

"I understand but one," answered the cat, modestly.

"What kind of a trick is it?" asked the fox.

"When the dogs are chasing me, I can jump into a tree and save myself."

"Is that all?" said the fox. "I am master of a hundred tricks, and in addition to that I have a sackful of cunning. I feel sorry for you. Come with me, and I will teach you how one escapes from the dogs."

Just then a hunter came by with four dogs. The cat jumped nimbly up a tree, and sat down at its top, where the branches and foliage completely hid her.

"Untie your sack, Mr. Fox, untie your sack," the cat shouted to him, but the dogs had already seized him, and were holding him fast.

"Oh, Mr. Fox," shouted the cat. "You and your hundred tricks are left in the lurch. If you been able to climb like I can, you would not have lost your life."

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Revised September 6, 2002.