Select the desired text size

This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.

Why the tail of the fox has a white tip.

From The Book of Nature Myths by Florence Holbrook.

Start of Story

"I must have a boy to watch my sheep and my cows," thought an old woman, and so she went out to look for a boy. She looked first in the fields and then in the forest, but nowhere could she find a boy. As she was walking down the path to her home, she met a bear. "Where are you going?" asked the bear. "I am looking for a boy to watch my cows and my sheep," she answered. "Will you have me?" "Yes, if you know how to call my animals gently." "Ugh, ugh," called the bear. He tried to call softly, but he had always growled before, and now he could do nothing but growl. "No, no," said the old woman, "your voice is too loud. Every cow in the field would run, and every sheep would hide, if you should growl like that. I will not have you." Then the old woman went on till she met a wolf. "Where are you going, grandmother?" he asked. "I am looking for a boy to watch my cows and my sheep," she answered. "Will you have me?" asked the wolf. "Yes," she said, "if you know how to call my animals gently." "Ho-y, ho-y," called the wolf.



"Your voice is too high," said the old woman. "My cows and my sheep would tremble whenever they heard it. I will not have you." Then the old woman went on till she met a fox. "I am so glad to meet you," said the fox. "Where are you going this bright morning?" "I am going home now," she said, "for I cannot find a boy to watch my cows and my sheep. The bear growls and the wolf calls in too high a voice. I do not know what I can do, for I am too old to watch cows and sheep." "Oh, no," said the cunning fox, "you are not old, but any one as beautiful as you must not watch sheep in the fields. I shall be very glad to do the work for you if you will let me." "I know that my sheep will like you," said she. "And I know that I shall like them dearly," said the fox. "Can you call them gently, Mr. Fox?" she asked. "Del-dal-halow, del-dal-halow," called the fox, in so gentle a voice that it was like a whisper.



"That is good, Mr. Fox," said the old woman. "Come home with me, and I will take you to the fields where my animals go." Each day one of the cows or one of the sheep was gone when the fox came home at night. "Mr. Fox, where is my cow?" the old woman would ask, or, "Mr. Fox, where is my sheep?" and the fox would answer with a sorrowful look, "The bear came out of the woods, and he has eaten it," or, "The wolf came running through the fields, and he has eaten it." The old woman was sorry to lose her sheep and her cows, but she thought, "Mr. Fox must be even more sorry than I. I will go out to the field and carry him a drink of cream." She went to the field, and there stood the fox with the body of a sheep, for it was he who had killed and eaten every one that was gone. When he saw the old woman coming, he started to run away. "You cruel, cunning fox!" she cried. She had nothing to throw at him but the cream, so she threw that. It struck the tip of his tail, and from that day to this, the tip of the fox's tail has been as white as cream.

       


Back To Top Audio version of this story