Georgian Folk Tales, by Marjory Wardrop , at sacred-texts.com
THERE was once a king who had a son. Every one treated him badly, and chased him away. Even passers-by looked upon him with disfavour. The prince thought and thought, and at last he mounted his horse, took his bow and arrow, and departed from his father's palace.
When he had gone some distance he came into a sheltered wood. He wandered about until he found a suitable nook. He built for himself a mud hut, and dwelt there.
Every day the prince went out to hunt. He would shoot a stag or a roebuck, and bring it home. After he had eaten as much as he wanted, there was always enough meat left for the next day, but he never ate it the next day, as he
went hunting again, and there was thus always a quantity of food left over.
A fox perceived this, and every day, when the prince had gone out to the chase, he stole into the hut and ate all the food that was left; then he stole away again. Some time passed thus. Then the fox said: 'There is no bravery in this! I carry away all his meat secretly, yet there is plenty. I will show myself to him.'
Once when the prince was hunting, the fox stole in, and, when his hunger was satisfied, he went about arranging everything. When the prince came home, the fox leaped out in front of him. The prince drew his bow, and was just about to shoot him, when the fox cried out: 'Do not kill me, and I will help to make thy fortune!' The prince did not kill him, and the fox attended to the horse, and led it about, until the sweat dried off its coat. They lived thus for some time. The fox lighted the fire, tidied the hut, and did all the work.
But, in spite of this, there was still meat left. 'I will go and find some one who will help to eat it,' said the fox. He went out, and saw a wolf hardly able to walk from want of food. It could scarcely move from the spot where it was. The fox said: 'Come home with me, and thou shalt have plenty of everything.' The wolf followed him. They both went into the hut, where the fox told his companion: 'I will tidy the house, thou must stay here, and when the master comes in attend to his horse.'
The master came, and on the saddle of his horse was slung a stag. The wolf sprang out to attend to the horse; the youth drew his bow, and was about to shoot the wolf, when the fox cried out: 'Do not kill him, he is a friend!' The prince did not kill him, but jumped down from his
horse, took the stag, and went in. The wolf attended to the horse, and led him up and down, while the fox himself saw to the inside of the house; thus they lived for some time.
The fox noticed that there was much meat left even now. He ran out and brought in a famished bear. The wolf was sent for grass, the bear commanded to tend the horse, while the fox arranged the house. In a little time the prince came in, and when the bear jumped out to look after his horse he drew his bow to shoot him, but the fox cried out: 'Do not kill him, he is a friend!' The youth did not kill the bear, and he tended the horse and led it about; then the wolf came in with the grass, and gave it to the horse.
Some time passed. The fox saw that even yet there was meat to spare. He went out and sought until he found an eagle, which he brought home. He commanded the eagle to attend to the horse, sent the bear for grass, and the wolf for wood to burn, while he saw to household affairs. Thus each had his business to do. When the master returned, the eagle flew out to tend the horse. The prince was about to shoot him, when the fox cried out: 'Do not kill him, he is a friend!' The prince did not kill him, but thought to himself: 'What will this vile fox bring in next? I shall see all the game in the country here.' They lived thus some time.
Once the fox said to his master: 'Give us leave to go away for two weeks; at the end of that time we shall return to thee.' The master gave them leave, and thought to himself: 'I do not mind if I never see you again, for I am afraid of you all.' The fox, the wolf, the bear, and the eagle went away. They saw a glade in the wood, and rested there. The fox said to his companions: 'Now, let
us build a good house for our master.' They all agreed, and set to work. The wolf cut down trees, the bear cut the wood into shape, and did the joiner work, the eagle carried it, and the fox gave orders. When the wood was ready, they set to and built the house. They built so beautiful a house that the prince could not have imagined one like it, even in his dreams. Everything was finished, but there was no furniture in it.
The fox arose and took his companions into a neighbouring town. They went into the bazaar, and looked at the house-furniture. Each one had his work to do again. The fox chose the goods, the wolf was ordered to break the shutters, the bear to carry the things to the door, and the eagle to take everything to the palace. They seized everything necessary for furnishing a house--domestic utensils, carpets, and vessels. They carried them to the palace, and placed them there; so now all was finished, and there was nothing more left to wish for.
Two weeks had expired, so the four went home. The prince was hunting, but they went to meet him. They surrounded him, and would not let him pass. The fox cried out: 'I command thee to come with us whither we lead thee.' The prince was afraid, he did not know what it could mean, but went with them. In a little while they arrived in the glade. It was girt by a wall over which no bird could fly. They opened the gates and went inside. When the king's son saw, he was stupefied with surprise. Inside the wall was laid out a beautiful garden, with fountains playing, and there stood a magnificent palace. Then they said: 'We have made all this ready in two weeks, now live happily in it.' The prince rejoiced greatly, and gave hearty thanks to his fox.
Some time passed after this. The fox said: 'I must see if I can find a good wife for my master.' He came to the prince, and again asked a fortnight's absence. Then he went away and made a sledge. He harnessed the wolf and bear to it, and said to the eagle: 'Fly up high, and keep a watch; when thou seest a beautiful princess, seize her in thy claws and carry her off.' He himself sat down and acted as coachman. Thus they travelled from place to place.
In the villages, the fox played the trumpet, and the bear and the wolf leaped and danced along. Crowds of people came out to look. When they came to the capital, a maiden, fair as the sun, looked from her window, the eagle seized her in his claws, and flew off. The bear and the wolf turned round and started for home. When the people saw this, they all set off in pursuit. The fox was behind his companions, and the dogs came nearer, and almost touched his cloak, but in some way or other they all escaped, and brought the fair one to their master.
The king's son could scarcely stand on his feet for joy. The princess's father was in the greatest consternation, and said: 'To him who finds and brings back my daughter will I give the half of my kingdom.' But none was able to find trace of her. At last an old woman appeared, and said to the king: 'I will find thy daughter.' She arose and went forth. At last she came to the prince's house, and asked: 'Do ye not want an attendant? I will come for small wages.' The fox, wolf, bear, and even the beautiful princess herself, said: 'We do not want thee, we shall not take thee.' But the prince did not agree with them, and engaged her as servant.
The old woman served them faithfully for a long time,
and did not harm them. Then one day, when the prince was asleep, the old woman wanted the princess to go out into the garden with her. She did not wish to go, but the old woman pressed her until she consented. When they came to the fountains, the old woman offered her some water. The princess refused it, but the old woman insisted. She placed a litra (large jar) full of water to her lips, and it suddenly swallowed up the princess. Then the old woman put it to her own mouth, and it swallowed her. The litra rolled away. The fox saw and pursued, but that which he sought was soon lost to sight.
The fox reproached his master, but it was no use saying anything now. He asked again for a fortnight's leave, made another sledge like the former, and harnessed the bear and wolf to it. He sat up on the seat, and held tambourines in his paws. He struck them, and the wolf and bear pranced and danced along. The eagle flew up high, and looked round. All the people in the land came out to gaze at the sight. The king was angry with his beautiful daughter, and said, 'Do not go out! Do not even look out.' The eagle watched for a long time, but could not see her. At last he caught a glimpse of the princess through a little window; he struck against it, broke it, seized the princess, and flew away. He rejoined his companions, and all hastened off.
They brought the princess to their master. The king collected all his army, and sent the old woman with it to the prince's palace. The fox saw them appearing in the distance like a swarm of flies. He ordered the eagle to carry stones up high in the air. When the army approached, the eagle let the stones fall on the men; the fox, the bear, and the wolf attacked them, and completely exterminated
them. There escaped only one single man; they fell upon him too, gnawed one of his feet, and said: 'Go and tell thy king what has befallen his hosts.'
When the king saw his man, and heard the sad end of his army, he was out of his mind with grief. He assembled all the chief priests in his kingdom, went in front of them, and they all came on bended knees. When they were near, the fox saw them, and told his master. The prince ran out to meet them, raised them all on their feet, and took them into his house. The father and son-in-law became reconciled, and lived happily together. Then the fox said to his master: 'I am getting old now, and the day of my death will soon be here, promise to bury me in a fowl-house.' The prince promised. The fox said to himself: 'Come, I will see if my master means to keep his promise,' and he stretched himself out as if he were dead. When the prince saw the corpse, he ordered it to be taken away and thrown into the earth.
The fox was enraged, jumped up and cried out: 'Is this the way thou rememberest my goodness to thee? Well, since thou halt done thus, when I die you will all be cursed, and there will not remain a trace of you.' Some time after this the fox died. After his death, his word came to pass, and they were all destroyed. The wolf, the bear, and the eagle remained masters of the field. 1
103:1 Cf. Carnoy et Nicolaides: Traditions Populaires de l’Asie Mineure, p. 1, 'Le Roman du Renard.'