Norwegian fairy tale collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe in their "Norwegian Folk Tales" (1841-1844). The original ("Mikkel vil smake hestekjøtt") was found at Project Runeberg and translated to English by me.

Note: Mikkel Rev is the name of the fox in Norwegian fairy tales. The bear is often called Bamse Brakar.


There was one day the bear was lying around eating a horse he had killed. Mikkel turned up, sneaking around and drooling for a piece of the horse meat. He snuck up on the bear from behind, then ran past on the other side of the carcass, tearing off a bite as he ran past. But Bamse wasn't slow either, he lashed out with a paw, hitting the tip of the red fox tail; since that day, the fox's tail had a white tip1.

"Wait a second, Mikkel, and come here," said the bear, "I'll teach you to capture a horse." Yes, Mikkel would love to learn, but kept a safe distance. "When you see a horse sleeping on a sunny slope," said the bear, "you should tie yourself to his rump with his tail, then sink your teeth into his thigh," he said.

As you've guessed, it wasn't long before the fox found a horse sleeping in a sunny slope, and he did like the bear told him to, tying himself with the horse's tail, then sank his teeth into the horse's thigh. It bounced up, bolted and ran, and Mikkel was flung towards branches and rocks. He was beaten so much that he nearly lost all sense.

Since that ride, the fox has never considered capturing a horse. That time, the bear was sly; otherwise they say he's as daft as the trolls.


Note 1: The Fox as a Shepherd has another explanation for this...

More fairy tales, please!