And there was once a wolf that seemed strange to the eyes of those who saw him. But he really was remarkable; with the strength of his teeth and a monkey’s agility he was able to catch so much game, but then after having eaten just a bit, he would save the rest, afraid that famine may hit the woods and the surrounding countryside, just as it had many times before.

       One day he discovered a den in the woods, amongst the bramble bushes and chestnut tree stumps. It was very, very long and dark and it continued downhill further and further down into a Tufa mountain.

      The wolf then realised that the den was very, very nice and cool and that he could keep his food in there much better than in a fridge, but as we well-know there were no fridges in those days, and even if there had been, how would a wolf have been able to run one, as nobody could ever provide him with electricity?  He had stuffed so much food into the den, and had stored it away just like a good housewife who has a cellar under her house.

      He then set out for the woods to look for an animal to use to guard his den.

      He saw a hare and thought it was only fit to be eaten: “Too small and silly,” he said.

      A rabbit, the same thing.

      The beechmarten, too small.

      What could a blackbird do? “just cheep, cheep” he thought.

      The weasel, too small like the beechmarten.

      A fox! Yes, why not have a fox as a watchman: not too small, and crafty as anything!

      “Oh yes, a fox is what I need to guard my food. A fox! Nothing but a fox will do: never a wolf, for God’s sake! : It would only devour me and everything I’m keeping in there.. One of my wolf friends? No, what could be worse! : God protects me from my friends, and I can take care of my enemies! Yes, yes, a fox is what I need, if she does anything silly I’ll just cut her into pieces and I could even make a stew of her! And if I wanted to

I could even use her tail as a brush: yes, this little fox is smaller than me…and she’s sly, and I like that: she’ll know that I’m a wolf. So, a fox it shall be. A fox is just what I need here.” he said out loud so happily that you could see it from his muzzle. The wolf then rolled over into the brambles with a long and affected summersault.

       So he then made his way into the wood of a thousand chestnut- tree stumps where the hill was hunchbacked: this was where he was sure to meet a lot of foxes and choose the one he wanted.

       Once he got there he gathered all the foxes round. Then, one by one, he took them behind a big oak tree stump. Here he started to ask them a lot of simple questions and some very strange and muddled ones. In the end he chose a fox, and took her with him.

      “Do you want a steady supply of food?” the wolf asked the fox. “I can give you food for as long as you live, and you will never even know what famine is. So, do you want this food?”, asked the wolf.” Yes, I do”, said the fox. So off they set.

      Once they reached the den, the wolf started to toddle here and there with the fox, to show her round the place. He showed her the paths and where they led to, and told her all about the many animals that lived in the different bushes.

      “Can you see that bush over there? No, not there, where are you looking? There, there, where my paw is pointing. You must keep your eye on that one! That’s where the rats are, they will whiz into the den in a flash and take everything we have! You don’t see them, but they dig like crazy and next thing you know you find them inside, without knowing how they got in. Keep your eyes open and sniff them out, you will be able to tell them from their smell, oh yes you will: the rat smells like anything! I’m telling you to look out, because those rats are quite capable of nibbling away at you as well. Be careful not to fall asleep when the sun is baking the woods. The rats are cunning and know everything; it’s just when the sun is beating down in the afternoon that they come out to do their thieving…Oh, one last

thing, if you should see a wolf heading this way don’t let him see you or challenge him, as he would only butcher you. Just run to call me, and I’ll take care of him.”

      The wolf waved good-bye to the fox with its paw, and left in a hurry as that night there was hunting to do.

      Time went by, and in passing and passing it brought both happy times and famine, but the wolf and the fox never suffered.

      However, once a fox, always a fox and the wolf knew this well!

     The wolf also knew that she would sometimes steal something and then say it had been nibbled away by the rats and that she hadn’t noticed, as rats are just like the devil! But in return she was very good as a guard.

      Word got around that she was happy with the wolf and had become nice and fat. A lot of the animals were envious of her.

       So one day a fox who lived in the wood of a thousand chestnut-tree stumps came out of a bush and begged the wolf to take her with him, as she had heard that his very own fox had been stealing as much as she could from his den.

       “With the excuse of guarding your food…she’s robbing you! Don’t trust her, she spends whole days eating the things you bring back, and then blames the rats. Kick her out and take me with you.”

       “Kick her out? “, answered the wolf. “To take you? Don’t you know that I know she steals from me? She robs from me. But only just a little bit.”

       “You know this and you still keep her on? Bah, a wolf who knows this…and still you don’t kick her out with your own paws?”

       “Calm down, I can read those eyes of yours above your muzzle! Leave me alone! I know that you know, but you don’t know that I know what I know! Just toddle off!”, replied the wolf. He then went on to say: “All the foxes in this wood steal! But I’m sure, and I know that that one doesn’t steal much, and she suits me fine. Let me tell you this: she suits me fine! If I took on you or another fox, I’m sure that you would even steal

my den! Let me tell you… but why am I telling you this: you already know everything…It is a stupid person indeed that expects to have an honest fox working for them! If you need a fox, then find one, but one that only steals a bit from you!”

       And the fox understood and blushed, and then quietly left; she had realised that that wolf knew exactly how the wood worked- if he had chosen her as a guard, he wouldn’t even have had his den left!

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