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The Fox, the Bear and the Mountain Sami

A mountain Sami was out driving. The fox was also out wandering then, and he began to get hungry when he didn’t find any food. Then he began to think: “What should I do now that I’m hungry?” Then he came up with this idea: “I’m going to lie down in the path as if dead.” So he lay down there. The mountain Sami was driving a string of reindeer sleds and found the dead fox already frozen stiff. He took the fox and put it on the last sled wherein there were bunches of fish. The mountain Sami drove away again. Then the fox began to bite the towrope. He bit it off, and the sled was left behind, and the mountain Sami didn’t notice at all that it was missing. The fox took a bunch of fish and left with it. Then he meets the bear. The bear asks the fox: “Where did you get the fish?” The fox answers: “I stuck my tail into the real folks’ well, and the fish bit into it.” The bear says: “Can you get them to bite into my tail too?” The fox says: “Just stick your tail into the real folks’ well!” At that time the bear had a long tail. So the bear went and stuck his tail into the peoples’ well one cold night, and the fox ran up to him. The fox asks the bear to check and see whether his tail is becoming heavy. The bear says: “It’s beginning to get a little heavy now.” The fox understood that it wasn’t frozen solid yet. Then he began to shout: “Real people, bring your rifles and spears! The bear is messing up your well.” Then the bear jerked and ripped off his tail because it was frozen solid. He set out after the fox, and the fox took flight. The fox ran under a fir tree root. The bear began to dig the fox out and got hold of him and put him on his back, and then started to carry him to his eating-place. While he was carrying him the fox says: “Better days they were when I dressed up those small birds.” The bear says: “What are you saying, old fox?” The fox answers: “Those were better days that time I dressed up those small birds.” The bear says: “Can’t you dress me up too?” The fox says: “You won’t be able to stand all the pain the small birds tolerated.” The bear says: “Oh, I can take it.” The fox says: “You have to do a lot: you have to dig a pit, and then carry wood to it, and then pound in pegs, and withes have to be twisted and fire started.” The bear says: “Oh, I’ll do all of that.” Then the bear began to dig a pit and carried wood to the edge of the pit, and then he pounded in pegs around the pit and twisted withes. The fox then asked the bear to lie down at the edge of the pit and tied him fast with the withes. The bear’s back he turned toward the pit, and then he lit the wood that was in the pit. The fox began to bite off the withes with which the bear was tied fast at the edge of the pit; he bit them off and then the bear fell down into the burning pit and burned up there. When the fire burnt down and everything was put out, the fox gathered the bear’s burnt bones, put them in a sack and began to drag the sack along.

Then the mountain Sami comes toward him with a string of reindeer. He asks: “What do you have in the sack?” The fox says: “I have my father’s and mother’s inheritance, silver and gold.” The mountain Sami says: “Don’t you want to entrust me with that sack?” The fox says: “I’ll swap it for the reindeer.” The mountain Sami swapped the reindeer for the sack. The fox says: “You must not open the sack before you have gotten past five or six small mountains. If you open it before then, the contents will turn into burnt bones.” Then they each went their own way, the mountain Sami with the fox’s sack, the fox with the mountain Sami’s reindeer. When the fox has gotten behind a hill, he picked up some comrades and then they began to flay those reindeer. His comrades were the wolf and the weasel and the raven, and they began to shoot. The wolf shot into the heart, and to this very day there is a little narrow bone that we call the wolf arrow. The weasel shot into the hoofs where to this very day there is a narrow bone we call the weasel arrow, and then they took care of the slaughtering. The sly fox wonders how he can get all of it for himself. Then it occurred to him: “I’m going to wash a reindeer stomach in secret,” and then he began to shriek and groan as if some people had gotten hold of him. Then his comrades became frightened and ran away; only the weasel stayed.

Then the mountain Sami, who had been tricked by the fox, came, and he took a firebrand and threw it at the weasel he saw there. He only hit the tip of the tail, and therefore the weasel’s tail tip is black to this very day, because the mountain Sami in days of yore threw the firebrand. The fox started to run away from the mountain Sami and it ran to a lake where there were fish; he ran up onto a rock and shouted that the fish should come ashore and carry him over, “because I’m not supposed to get my feet wet.” The char came, and it was little. The fox says: “You’re kind; but you aren’t able to carry me.” Then the sea trout who is larger came. The fox says: “You’re kind; come closer to shore, then I can get up on your back!” The sea trout came closer to land, and the fox grasped it, jerked it onto land and pulled it up into the underbrush. He made a fire and began to fry the fish. Then he hears warriors coming through the underbrush, and the branches crackle below their feet. The fox says: “It’s my little fish that is crackling.” Nevertheless, he then saw that people were coming, and he grabbed the fish and slapped it against a rock. Then the hot fish spattered so that pieces got into the fox’s eyes, and it burnt his eyes and he became blind.

Then he began to roam and asks everything he meets for eyes. He met the birch first and says: “Can’t you loan me eyes for a short while? I have my eyes on the other side of this hill. You’ll get them back when I get to my eyes.” The birch doesn’t loan them to him. Then he comes to the aspen and says: “Loan me eyes for a little while! You’ll get your eyes back when I get to my eyes!” The aspen says: “I can’t loan them to you for very long.” Then the fox got eyes from the aspen, and the aspen got burnt eyes from the fox, and therefore the aspen to this very day has reddish, sort of burnt spots, because it got the burnt eyes from the fox. The fox went on, and when he went over a high mountain, I didn’t care to go along any more and see how things went for him later on. The fox went over the mountain, and I went home.