The Fox as Nurse
The wolf's wife gave birth to three little cubs and then died.
"You poor children!" the wolf said, "your mother is dead and there is
no one to take her place. I must get you a nurse." So he went through
the forest hunting someone to take care of his motherless cubs. The
white grouse offered her services, but when she sang a lullaby to show
what a good nurse she could be, the wolf shook his head.
"Your voice won't quite do," he said. "I cannot take you."
Then the hare said he wanted the job. "Quiet work like nursing would suit me," said the hare.
"Can you sing lullabies?" the wolf asked, "Oh, yes! Listen!" and the hare began squealing.
"Stop!" the wolf cried. "I don't like your voice at all."
Just then the fox came running up. "Good day, wolf," he said. "I hear you're out looking for a nurse for your sweet babies."
"Yes, I am. Can you recommend one?"
"I'd like the job myself," the fox said.
"But you cannot sing lullabies, can you?"
"Oh, yes! I sing them very well. Listen,
'Hushabye, sweet little cubs,
Hushabye to sleep!
Who best loves you,
do you think?
Who will give you food and drink?
Who on faithful guard will keep?
'Hushabye, sweet little cubs,
Mikko loves you well,
Loves each little pointed nose.
Loves your little scratchy toes.
Loves you more than he can tell –
The wolf was charmed with the lullaby.
"Beautiful! Beautiful!" he said. "I never heard a sweeter lullaby! You're the very nurse I want! Come home with me at once."
So the fox went home with the wolf and took over the care of the three little wolf cubs.
"I'll go off now and get them something to eat," the wolf said.
He came back after a while with the hind leg of a horse.
"This will be enough for them to start on," he said.
The fox shook his head. "It won't last them very long. They're healthy children with good appetites."
"The little dears!" the wolf said. "Let me see them."
"No, not now!" the fox insisted. "They're asleep and mustn't be disturbed. Go out and get more food instead."
The wolf felt that the fox must be a very good nurse to be so strict, and went off hunting again without seeing his children.
As soon as he was gone, the fox ate up all the horse meat without
giving the cubs one bite. And since he was still hungry, he ate one of
the cubs too. Next day he ate another cub, and the day after he ate the
last of them. He was just finishing that last cub when the wolf came
home and called in at the door, "Now, nurse, here I am to see my dear
children! They're well, aren't they?"
"Oh my!" the fox declared. "But the house isn't quite large enough to
hold them and you and me comfortably at the same time. If you're coming
in, I will get out first."
So the wolf stood aside as the fox came out and scampered away.
Then the wolf went in. All he could find of his dear children were their bones.
"You faithless, faithless nurse!" he cried.
In awful rage he ran after the fox and was about to overtake him when
the fox slipped into a crevice in the rocks. Only one paw stuck out.
The wolf pounced on this paw and began gnawing it.
"Say, wolf, have you gone crazy?" the fox asked. "What do you think
you're doing biting that old root? I hope you don't think it's one of
my paws. I'm sitting on all four paws."
The wolf looked up to see whether this was true, and quick as a flash the fox drew in his paw.
Fooled again, the wolf went sadly home.