The Cat who became Head-Forester
They ate up everything there was in the place.
Next morning the pretty young fox went off busily into the forest to get food for her grand husband. But the old tom-cat stayed at home, and cleaned his whiskers and slept. He was a lazy one, was that cat, and proud.
The fox was running through the forest, looking for game, when she met an old friend, the handsome young wolf, and he began making polite speeches to her.
"What had become of you, gossip?" says he. "I've been to all the best earths and not found you at all."
"Let be, fool," says the fox very shortly. "Don't talk to me like that. What are you jesting about? Formerly I was a young, unmarried fox; now I am a wedded wife."
"Whom have you married, Lisabeta Ivanovna?"
"What!" says the fox, "you have not heard that the great Cat Ivanovitch, who has only one ear, has been sent from the far Siberian forests to be Head-forester over all of us? Well, I am now the Head-forester's wife."
"No, I had not heard, Lisabeta Ivanovna. And when can I pay my respects to his Excellency?"
"Not now, not now," says the fox. "Cat Ivanovitch will be raging angry with me if I let any one come near him. Presently he will be taking his food. Look you. Get a sheep, and make it ready, and bring it as a greeting to him, to show him that he is welcome and that you know how to treat him with respect. Leave the sheep near by, and hide yourself so that he shall not see you; for, if he did, things might be awkward."
"Thank you, thank you, Lisabeta Ivanovna," says the wolf, and off he goes to look for a sheep.
The pretty young fox went idly on, taking the air, for she knew that the wolf would save her the trouble of looking for food.
Presently she met the bear.
"Good-day to you, Lisabeta Ivanovna," says the bear; "as pretty as ever, I see you are."
"Bandy-legged one," says the fox; "fool, don't come worrying me. Formerly I was a young, unmarried fox; now I am a wedded wife."
"I beg your pardon," says the bear, "whom have you married, Lisabeta Ivanovna?