The Cat who became Head-Forester
trot along here."
The hare came up, slowly, two steps at a time, trembling with fright.
"Now then, you squinting rascal," says the bear, "do you know where the fox lives, over there?"
"I know, Michael Ivanovitch."
"Get along there quickly, and tell her that Michael Ivanovitch the bear and his brother Levon Ivanovitch the wolf have been ready for a long time, and have brought presents of a sheep and an ox, as greetings to his Excellency ..."
"His Excellency, mind," says the wolf; "don't forget."
The hare ran off as hard as he could go, glad to have escaped so easily. Meanwhile the wolf and the bear looked about for good places in which to hide.
"It will be best to climb trees," says the bear. "I shall go up to the top of this fir."
"But what am I to do?" says the wolf. "I can't climb a tree for the life of me. Brother Michael, Brother Michael, hide me somewhere or other before you climb up. I beg you, hide me, or I shall certainly be killed."
"Crouch down under these bushes," says the bear, "and I will cover you with the dead leaves."
"May you be rewarded," says the wolf; and he crouched down under the bushes, and the bear covered him up with dead leaves, so that only the tip of his nose could be seen.
Then the bear climbed slowly up into the fir tree, into the very top, and looked out to see if the fox and Cat Ivanovitch were coming.
They were coming; oh yes, they were coming! The hare ran up and knocked on the door, and said to the fox,—
"Michael Ivanovitch the bear and his brother Levon Ivanovitch the wolf have been ready for a long time, and have brought presents of a sheep and an ox as greetings to his Excellency."
"Get along, Squinteye," says the fox; "we are just coming."
And so the fox and the cat set out together.
The bear, up in the top of the tree, saw them, and called down to the wolf,—
"They are coming, Brother Levon; they are coming, the fox and her husband. But what a little one he is, to be sure!"
"Quiet, quiet," whispers the wolf. "He'll hear you, and then we are done for.