The time came when a field of barley that the fox Mikko and the wolf had planted together, was ready to harvest. So the two friends cut the grain and carried the sheaves to the threshing bam where they spread them out to dry. When it was time to thresh the grain, they asked the bear to come and help them.
"Certainly," the bear said.
At the time agreed, the three animals met at the threshing barn.
"Now the first thing to decide," the wolf said, "is how to divide the work."
The fox climbed nimbly up to the rafters. "I'll stay up here," he called down, "and support the beams and the rafters. In that way there won't be any danger of their falling and injuring either of you. You two work down there without any concern. Trust me! I'll take care of you!"
So the bear used the flail, the wolf winnowed the chaff from the grain, and the fox from time to time dropped down on them a hunk of wood.
"Take care!" they'd call out. "Do you want to kill us?"
"You have no idea how hard it is for me to hold up all these rafters!" Mikko would say. "You're lucky it's only a little piece that drops on you now and then! If it weren't for me, you'd certainly be killed, both of you!"
Well, the bear and the wolf worked steadily. When they were finished, the fox leaped down from the rafters and stretched himself as if he had been working the hardest of them all. "I'm glad that my job is finished!" he said. "I couldn't have held things up much longer!"
"Well now," the wolf asked, "how shall we divide the harvest?"
"I'll tell you how," the fox said. "Here are three of us and, see, here on the floor is our harvest already divided into three heaps. The biggest heap will naturally go to the biggest of us. That's the bear. The middle sized heap will go to the wolf. I'm the smallest, so the smallest heap comes to me."
The bear and the wolf agreed to this. So the bear took the great heap of straw, the wolf the pile of chaff, and the clever fox got for his share the little mound of clean grain.
Together they all went to the mill to grind their meal. As the millstone turned on Mikko's grain, it made a rough rasping sound.
"Strange," the bear said to the wolf, "Mikko's grain sounds different from ours."
"'Mix some sand with yours," the fox said, "then yours will make the same sound."
So the bear and the wolf poured some sand in their straw and their chaff. And sure enough, when they turned their millstones again, they, too, got a rough rasping sound.
This satisfied them and they went home feeling they had just as good a winter's supply of food as Mikko.
The bear, the wolf and the fox had harvested a barley field and shared the harvest. The fox had fooled the other two so well that he got all the corn while the other two animals had only straw and chaff without even knowing they had been tricked. Now they all wanted to see what kind of porridge their meal would make.
The bear's porridge came out black and disgusting. Greatly disturbed he ambled over to the house of the fox for advice. The fox was stirring his own porridge. It was white and smooth.
"What's the matter with my porridge?" the bear asked. "Yours is white and smooth but mine is black and horrid."
"Did you wash your meal before you put it into the pot?" the fox asked.
"Wash it? No! How do you wash meal?"
"You take it to the river and drop it in the water. Then when it's clean you take it out."
The bear at once went home and got his ground up straw and took it to the river. He dropped it in the water, and it spread out far and wide as the current carried it off. That was the end of the bear's share of the harvest.
The wolf had as little luck as the bear with his porridge. Soon he, too, came to the fox for advice.
"I don't know what's wrong with me," he said. "I don't seem to be able to make good porridge. Look - yours all white and smooth! I must watch you how you make it. Won't you let me hang my pot on your crane? Then I'll do just as you do."
"Certainly," the fox said. "Hang your pot on this chain and the two pots can then cook side by side."
"Yours is so white to begin with," the wolf said, "and mine looks no better than dirt."
"Before you came I climbed up the chain and hung over the pot," the fox said. "The heat of the fire melted the fat in my tail and it dripped down into the pot. It's that fat that makes my porridge look so white."
The wolf at once climbed the chain and let himself hang above his porridge. But he didn't stay there long. The flames scorched him and he fell down hurting his side. And to this day all wolves smell of burnt hair.
After he had got his breath, the wolf tasted his porridge again to see if it was any better. But it was as bad as ever.
"I don't see any difference in it," he said. "Let me taste yours, Mikko."
The fox artfully scooped up a spoonful of the wolf's porridge and dropped it into his own pot.
"Help yourself," he said. "Take some out of that spot there. That's good."
The place he pointed to was the place where he had dropped some of the wolf's own porridge. Thus the wolf sampled his own porridge again, thinking he was tasting Mikko's.
"Strange," he said, "your porridge doesn't taste good to me either. I don't think anything tastes good to me today. The truth is I don't think I like porridge."
He went home, sad and discouraged, while the fox chuckled to himself and said, "I wonder why the wolf doesn't like porridge. It tastes good to me!"
The wolf's wife gave birth to three little cubs and then died.
"You poor children!" the wolf said, "your mother is dead and there is no one to take her place. I must get you a nurse." So he went through the forest hunting someone to take care of his motherless cubs. The white grouse offered her services, but when she sang a lullaby to show what a good nurse she could be, the wolf shook his head.
"Your voice won't quite do," he said. "I cannot take you."
Then the hare said he wanted the job. "Quiet work like nursing would suit me," said the hare.
"Can you sing lullabies?" the wolf asked, "Oh, yes! Listen!" and the hare began squealing.
"Stop!" the wolf cried. "I don't like your voice at all."
Just then the fox came running up. "Good day, wolf," he said. "I hear you're out looking for a nurse for your sweet babies."
"Yes, I am. Can you recommend one?"
"I'd like the job myself," the fox said.
"But you cannot sing lullabies, can you?"
"Oh, yes! I sing them very well. Listen,
'Hushabye, sweet little cubs,
The wolf was charmed with the lullaby.
"Beautiful! Beautiful!" he said. "I never heard a sweeter lullaby! You're the very nurse I want! Come home with me at once."
So the fox went home with the wolf and took over the care of the three little wolf cubs.
"I'll go off now and get them something to eat," the wolf said.
He came back after a while with the hind leg of a horse.
"This will be enough for them to start on," he said.
The fox shook his head. "It won't last them very long. They're healthy children with good appetites."
"The little dears!" the wolf said. "Let me see them."
"No, not now!" the fox insisted. "They're asleep and mustn't be disturbed. Go out and get more food instead."
The wolf felt that the fox must be a very good nurse to be so strict, and went off hunting again without seeing his children.
As soon as he was gone, the fox ate up all the horse meat without giving the cubs one bite. And since he was still hungry, he ate one of the cubs too. Next day he ate another cub, and the day after he ate the last of them. He was just finishing that last cub when the wolf came home and called in at the door, "Now, nurse, here I am to see my dear children! They're well, aren't they?"
"Oh my!" the fox declared. "But the house isn't quite large enough to hold them and you and me comfortably at the same time. If you're coming in, I will get out first."
So the wolf stood aside as the fox came out and scampered away.
Then the wolf went in. All he could find of his dear children were their bones.
"You faithless, faithless nurse!" he cried.
In awful rage he ran after the fox and was about to overtake him when the fox slipped into a crevice in the rocks. Only one paw stuck out. The wolf pounced on this paw and began gnawing it.
"Say, wolf, have you gone crazy?" the fox asked. "What do you think you're doing biting that old root? I hope you don't think it's one of my paws. I'm sitting on all four paws."
The wolf looked up to see whether this was true, and quick as a flash the fox drew in his paw.
Fooled again, the wolf went sadly home.
One day while the bear was prowling about the woods he caught a grouse. "Well done!" he thought to himself. "And wouldn't the other animals be surprised if they knew this old bear had caught a grouse!"
He was so proud of his feat that he wanted everyone around to know of it. So, holding the grouse carefully in his teeth without injuring it, he began parading up and down the forest paths.
"They'll all certainly envy me this nice plump grouse," he thought. "And they won't be so ready to call me awkward and lumbering after this, either!"
Then the fox sauntered by. He saw at once that the bear was showing off, and did not want to indulge him with any admiration. Instead he pretended not to see the grouse at all. Instead he pointed his nose upwards and sniffed.
"Um! Um"" grunted the bear trying to attract attention to himself.
"Ah," the bear remarked, casually, "is that you? What way is the wind blowing today? Can you tell me?"
The bear could not answer without opening his mouth, so he grunted again, expecting that the fox noticed why he couldn't answer. But the fox didn't glance at him at all. With his nose still pointed upwards he kept sniffing the air.
"It seems to me it's from the south," he said. "Isn't it from the south?"
"Um! Um!" the bear grunted.
*'You say it is from the south? Are you sure?"
"Um! Um!" the bear repeated, while growing more impatient every moment.
"Oh, not from the south, you say. Then from what direction is it blowing?"
By this time the bear was so exasperated by the interest the fox showed in the wind when he should have been admiring the grouse that he forgot himself, opened his mouth, and roared out, "North!"
The moment he opened his mouth, the grouse flew away.
"Now see what you've done!" he stormed angrily. "You've made me lose my fine plump grouse!"
"I?" asked the fox. "What had I to do with it?"
"You kept asking me about the wind till I opened my mouth – that's what you did!"
The fox shrugged his shoulders. "Why did you open your mouth?"
"You cannot say, 'North' without opening your mouth, can you?" the bear demanded.
The fox laughed heartily.
"See here, bear, don't blame me. Blame yourself. If I had had that grouse in my mouth and you had asked me about the wind, I should never have said, 'North'"
"What would you have said?" the bear asked.
The fox laughed. Then he clenched his teeth and said, "East!"