The Bear’s Tail
The Bear's Tail
Once upon a time there was a fisherman who earned a living selling fish from a cart. One cold winter day, while the fisherman was crossing the woods, a wily fox smelled the fish and began following the cart at a close distance. The fisherman kept his fish in long wicker baskets, and the sight of the fish made the fox's mouth water. Oh, she was hungry for some fish!
The fox, however, was reluctant to jump on the cart to steal a fish because the fisherman had a long whip that he cracked from time to time to spur on the horse. He didn't want that whip used on him! But the smell of fresh fish was so enticing that the fox overcame her fear of the whip, leaped on the cart, and with a quick movement of her paw, dropped a wicker basket on the snow.
The fisherman did not notice anything and continued his journey. The fox was very happy. She opened the basket and got ready to enjoy her meal. She was just about to taste the first bite of fresh fish when a huge bear appeared.
“Where did you get all that tasty trout?” the big bear asked, looking terribly hungry.
“I've been fishing,” the fox lied.
“Fishing? How? The lake is frozen over,” the bear said, incredulous. “How did you manage to fish?”
The fox knew that unless she could get rid of the bear with some kind of excuse, she would have to share her fish. Finally, she said, “I fished with my tail.”
“With your tail?” said the bear, even more astonished.
“Sure, with my tail. I made a hole in the ice, and I dropped my tail in the water. When I felt a bite, I pulled it out, and a fish was stuck on my tail,” the fox told the bear.
The bear, a gullible type, touched his tail and his mouth began watering. He said: “Thanks for the tip. I'm going fishing, too.” And the bear lumbered away.
The lake was not too far away, but the ice was very thick and the bear had a hard time making a hole in it. Finally, his long, sharp claws got the job done. As time went by and evening approached, it got colder and colder. The bear shivered, but he kept sitting by the hole with his tail in the water. No fish had bitten yet. The bear was very cold, and the water of the lake began freezing around his tail. It was then that the bear felt something like a bite on the end of his frozen tail. Oh! Success at last, he thought.
The bear pulled with all his strength, heard something tear, and at the same time felt a very sharp pain. He turned around to find out what kind of fish he had caught and realized that his tail, trapped in the ice, had been torn off. Ever since then, bears have had a little stump instead of a long and thick tail.