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  1. The Magpie and the Fox

The Magpie and the Fox

The magpie had a nest in a holly bush. The fox robbed it and killed the young ones, so the magpie had a grudge against him. One day when the fox had nothing to eat, he met the magpie.

"It is a fine day," said the magpie.

"The day is fine, but I am hungrym" said the fox.

"You can have enough to eat soon," said the magpie.

Two girls, carrying tubs on their heads, came toward them. They were on their way to the turf bog. One of them carried slices of bread and butter for the turf cutters, and the other had a tubful of curds. After a little while the girls hang the tubs high up in the air on a rope they fastened to a larch branch, so that animals could not get it while they rested by a little river there, and washed themselves a little.

"You'll soon have plenty of food now," said the magpie to the fox while the girls were washing and splashing. "I'll throw down some food for you."

The magpie flew up into the tub where the bread and butter was, and started to throw slices down to the fox. After a while, he flew to the other tub, took up mouthfuls of the curds, and threw them down also. It was not long until the fox had to stretch out on his belly.

"Oh," said he, "I fear I have eaten too much. What am I to do?" He slid away into the bushes and found a place to lie.

The magpie said after awhile. "I know a doctor -," and flew off, adding softly to herself, "I I know him, but that does not mean I will fetch anything there."

Instead of going to the doctor, the magpie went to a man who kept hounds. "There's a fox in a certain place," said the magpie, "and he has eaten too much. If you bring your hounds they may get him today."

The magpie returned to the fox.

"Do you come with medicine for me?" asked the fox.

"Not medicine," said the magpie, "but you will be out of your pains very soon all the same."

The fox cocked his ears. "Dogs are coming!" he cried.

"Yes," said the magpie as two hounds rushed up.

The fox tried to escape, but he was not up to much now. The hounds caught him and tore him to pieces.

[From O'Sullivan 1968, p. 14-15. Retold.]

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