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The Mink and the Wolf
by [?]

In a big forest in the north of America lived a quantity of wild animals of all sorts. They were always very polite when they met; but, in spite of that, they kept a close watch one upon the other, as each was afraid of being killed and eaten by somebody else. But their manners were so good that no one would ever had guessed that.

One day a smart young wolf went out to hunt, promising his grandfather and grandmother that he would be sure to be back before bedtime. He trotted along quite happily through the forest till he came to a favourite place of his, just where the river runs into the sea. There, just as he had hoped, he saw the chief mink fishing in a canoe.

‘I want to fish too,’ cried the wolf. But the mink said nothing and pretended not to hear.

‘I wish you would take me into your boat!’ shouted the wolf, louder than before, and he continued to beseech the mink so long that at last he grew tired of it, and paddled to the shore close enough for the wolf to jump in.

‘Sit down quietly at that end or we shall be upset,’ said the mink; ‘and if you care about sea-urchins’ eggs, you will find plenty in that basket. But be sure you eat only the white ones, for the red ones would kill you.’

So the wolf, who was always hungry, began to eat the eggs greedily; and when he had finished he told the mink he thought he would have a nap.

‘Well, then, stretch yourself out, and rest your head on that piece of wood,’ said the mink. And the wolf did as he was bid, and was soon fast asleep. Then the mink crept up to him and stabbed him to the heart with his knife, and he died without moving. After that he landed on the beach, skinned the wolf, and taking the skin to his cottage, he hung it up before the fire to dry.

Not many days later the wolf’s grandmother, who, with the help of her relations, had been searching for him everywhere, entered the cottage to buy some sea-urchins’ eggs, and saw the skin, which she at once guessed to be that of her grandson.

‘I knew he was dead–I knew it! I knew it!’ she cried, weeping bitterly, till the mink told her rudely that if she wanted to make so much noise she had better do it outside as he liked to be quiet. So, half-blinded by her tears, the old woman went home the way she had come, and running in at the door, she flung herself down in front of the fire.

‘What are you crying for?’ asked the old wolf and some friends who had been spending the afternoon with him.

‘I shall never see my grandson any more!’ answered she. ‘Mink has killed him, oh! oh!’ And putting her head down, she began to weep as loudly as ever.

‘There! there!’ said her husband, laying his paw on her shoulder. ‘Be comforted; if he IS dead, we will avenge him.’ And calling to the others they proceeded to talk over the best plan. It took them a long time to make up their minds, as one wolf proposed one thing and one another; but at last it was agreed that the old wolf should give a great feast in his house, and that the mink should be invited to the party. And in order that no time should be lost it was further agreed that each wolf should bear the invitations to the guests that lived nearest to him.

Now the wolves thought they were very cunning, but the mink was more cunning still; and though he sent a message by a white hare, that was going that way, saying he should be delighted to be present, he determined that he would take his precautions. So he went to a mouse who had often done him a good turn, and greeted her with his best bow.