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From Snowdrop and Other Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
Start of Story
Age Rating 4 to 8.
There was once an old Fox who thought that his wife was not true to
him, and determined to put her to the test. He stretched himself under
the bank, lay motionless, and pretended to be as dead as a door nail.
Mrs. Reynard went to her chamber, and shut herself in; and her
servant, Mistress Cat, sat by the fire, and cooked the dinner.
Now, when it became known that the old Fox was dead, suitors began to
announce themselves. Soon afterwards, the servant heard some one
knocking at the front door. She went and opened the door, and there
stood a young Fox, who said--
'What are ye doing, pray, Mistress Cat?
Sleeping or waking? or what are ye at?'
'I'm not asleep; I'm wide awake.
D'ye want to know what now I make?
I'm warming beer, with butter in it;
I beg ye'll taste it in a minute.'
'I'm much obliged, Mistress,' said the Fox. 'What is Mrs. Reynard
The Maid answered--
'In chamber sad she sits alone,
And ceases not with grief to moan.
She weeps until her eyes are red,
Because the dear old Fox is dead.'
'Well, just tell her, Mistress, that there's a young Fox here, who
would be glad to woo her.'
'Very well, young gentleman.'
'Then went the Cat with pit-a-pat
And smote the door, rat-tata-tat!
"Pray, Mrs. Reynard, are you in?
Outside a wooer waits below!"'
'Well, what's he like? I want to know. Has he got nine such beautiful
tails as the late lamented Mr. Reynard?'
'Oh dear no,' answered the Cat. 'He has only got one.'
'Then I won't have him.'
Mistress Cat went down, and sent the wooer away.
Soon after this there was knocking again, and another Fox appeared at
the door, who wished to pay his addresses to Mrs. Reynard. He had two
tails, but he came off no better than the first. Afterwards others
came, each with one tail more; but they were all rejected, till at
last one came that had nine tails like old Mr. Reynard.
When the widow heard this, full of joy, she said to the Cat--
'Open the gates and doors; be swift.
Old Mr. Reynard turn adrift.'
But when the wedding was about to be celebrated, then old Mr. Reynard
under the bank roused himself, and gave the whole crew a good
drubbing, and sent them, Mrs. Reynard and all, helter-skelter out of
When old Mr. Reynard really died, the Wolf came as a suitor, and
knocked at the door, and the Cat who acted as servant to Mrs. Reynard,
The Wolf greeted her, and said--
'Good-day, Miss Cat, of sprightly wit,
How comes it that alone you sit?
What are you making there, so good?'
The Cat answered--
'Tumbling milk and butter up.
Will your Lordship have a sup?'
'Thank you kindly, Mistress Cat. Mistress Reynard is not at home, I
'Upstairs in her chamber she sits,
And weeps as her sorrow befits.
Her sad case she doth much deplore,
Because Mr. Reynard's no more.'
The Wolf answered--
'"If now she wants to wed again,
She must come down the stairs, 'tis plain."
The Cat ran up without delay,
Nor did her claws their clatter stay
Until she reached the long saloon.
There, tapping with her five gold rings,
"Is Mrs. Reynard in?" she sings.
"If now she wants to wed again,
She must come down the stairs, 'tis plain."'
Mrs. Reynard asked: 'Does the gentleman wear red breeches, and has he
a pointed muzzle?'
'No,' answered the Cat.
'Then he is no use to me.'
When the Wolf was rejected, there came a Dog, a Stag, a Hare, a Bear,
and one after another every sort of wild animal. But in every one
there was wanting some of the good qualities which old Mr. Reynard had
possessed, and the Cat was obliged to dismiss the suitors every time.
At last there came a young Fox. Then Mrs. Reynard asked: 'Does the
gentleman wear red breeches, and has he got a pointed muzzle?'
'Yes,' said the Cat. 'He has both.'
'Then let him come up,' said Mrs. Reynard, and ordered the maid to
make ready the wedding feast.
'Now, Cat, set to and sweep the room.
Then fling the old Fox from the house;
Bring in many a good fat mouse,
But eat them all yourself alone,
Nor give your mistress e'er a one.'
Then the wedding with young Mr. Fox was held, and there was
merry-making and dancing, and if they haven't stopped, they are