Norwegian fairy tale from Asbjørnsen and Moe
's collections. The original ("Reven snyter bjørnen for julekosten") was found at Project Runeberg
and translated to English by me
for E2. Enjoy!
Note: The fox in Norwegian fairy tales is often called Mikkel Rev ("Mikkel the Fox").
Thanks to TenMinJoe and DejaMorgana for pointing out that there is a similar Brothers Grimm fairy tale called Cat and Mouse in Partnership.
The bear and the fox had once bought a lump of butter together; they were having it for Christmas, and had therefore hidden it under a thick spruce. Then they walked some way away from it and lay down on a sunny slope to sleep. When they had been there for a while, the fox got up and yelled: "Yes!" and set off over to the butter, which he ate a good third of. But when he came back, and the bear asked where he had been, he said: "Would you believe it, I was asked to a Christening."
"Oh. What was the name of the child?" asked the bear.
"Touched," said the fox.
And they went to sleep again. After a little while, the fox jumped up again and yelled: "Yes!" and ran over to the butter. This time he ate a good portion of it. When he came back and the bear asked him where he had been, he answered: "Oh, would you believe it, I was asked to a Christening again."
"What was the name of the child this time, then?" said the bear.
"Half-eaten," answered the fox.
The bear thought it was a funny name, but he didn't think too much about it before he yawned and fell asleep again; not before he had slept for a short while, the same thing happened again; the fox jumped up again, yelled "Yes!" and ran off over to the butter, and this time he finished it off. When he came back, he had been to a Christening again; and when the bear wanted to know what the child was called, he answered "Licked-to-the-bottom!"
They went to sleep again, and slept for a long while. Then they went over to see the butter; but it was eaten. And the bear blamed the fox, and the fox blamed the bear; the one said the other had been over to the butter while the other was asleep.
"Oh well," said Mikkel, "we will soon know which one of us stole the butter. We will go back and sleep some more: the one who is greasy behind when we wake up, he has stolen it."
Yes, the bear wouldn't mind agreeing to that test; he knew with himself that he hadn't even tasted the butter, and safely went to sleep. Then Mikkel snuck off to the butter, and found a small piece that was left behind, and he went back and smeared it on the bear; then he went to sleep as if nothing had happened. When they both woke up, the sun had melted the butter, and then the bear was the one who had eaten it anyway.
More fairy tales here!