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The War of the Wolf and the Fox
by [?]

There was once upon a time a man and his wife who had an old cat and an old dog. One day the man, whose name was Simon, said to his wife, whose name was Susan, ‘Why should we keep our old cat any longer? She never catches any mice now-a-days, and is so useless that I have made up my mind to drown her.’

But his wife replied, ‘Don’t do that, for I’m sure she could still catch mice.’

‘Rubbish,’ said Simon. ‘The mice might dance on her and she would never catch one. I’ve quite made up my mind that the next time I see her, I shall put her in the water.’

Susan was very unhappy when she heard this, and so was the cat, who had been listening to the conversation behind the stove. When Simon went off to his work, the poor cat miawed so pitifully, and looked up so pathetically into Susan’s face, that the woman quickly opened the door and said, ‘Fly for your life, my poor little beast, and get well away from here before your master returns.’

The cat took her advice, and ran as quickly as her poor old legs would carry her into the wood, and when Simon came home, his wife told him that the cat had vanished.

‘So much the better for her,’ said Simon. ‘And now we have got rid of her, we must consider what we are to do with the old dog. He is quite deaf and blind, and invariably barks when there is no need, and makes no sound when there is. I think the best thing I can do with him is to hang him.’

But soft-hearted Susan replied, ‘Please don’t do so; he’s surely not so useless as all that.’

‘Don’t be foolish,’ said her husband. ‘The courtyard might be full of thieves and he’d never discover it. No, the first time I see him, it’s all up with him, I can tell you.’

Susan was very unhappy at his words, and so was the dog, who was lying in the corner of the room and had heard everything. As soon as Simon had gone to his work, he stood up and howled so touchingly that Susan quickly opened the door, and said ‘Fly for your life, poor beast, before your master gets home.’ And the dog ran into the wood with his tail between his legs.

When her husband returned, his wife told him that the dog had disappeared.

‘That’s lucky for him,’ said Simon, but Susan sighed, for she had been very fond of the poor creature.

Now it happened that the cat and dog met each other on their travels, and though they had not been the best of friends at home, they were quite glad to meet among strangers. They sat down under a holly tree and both poured forth their woes.

Presently a fox passed by, and seeing the pair sitting together in a disconsolate fashion, he asked them why they sat there, and what they were grumbling about.

The cat replied, ‘I have caught many a mouse in my day, but now that I am old and past work, my master wants to drown me.’

And the dog said, ‘Many a night have I watched and guarded my master’s house, and now that I am old and deaf, he wants to hang me.’

The fox answered, ‘That’s the way of the world. But I’ll help you to get back into your master’s favour, only you must first help me in my own troubles.’

They promised to do their best, and the fox continued, ‘The wolf has declared war against me, and is at this moment marching to meet me in company with the bear and the wild boar, and to-morrow there will be a fierce battle between us.’

‘All right,’ said the dog and the cat, ‘we will stand by you, and if we are killed, it is at any rate better to die on the field of battle than to perish ignobly at home,’ and they shook paws and concluded the bargain. The fox sent word to the wolf to meet him at a certain place, and the three set forth to encounter him and his friends.