An arctic Fox constructed a fish weir on a small river to catch fish. It was winter time, and he was at work cutting the ice. A Bear came to him, and said, "O Fox! what are you doing?"--"I am arranging a fish weir for catching fish."--"All right. Give me a share in the spoils."--"I will not. How can I? I bring forth children by the dozen at each litter. How shall I feed them?"--"Nay, nay! You must give me a share of the catch."--"All right. Since you are so insistent, I will give you half. Come here! I will show you what to do." He made him sit down on the floor planks, which were all wet with water. "Sit down here and keep watch over the weir. Perhaps the ice will split. You must not stir, lest you should frighten the fish away. In due time I shall come back."
The bear sat there for three days. He was frozen to the ice. At last, on the fourth day, the arctic Fox came back. "Here, you, Fox! Come to me! You talked about the fish, but where is the fish? I am near dying of cold. At least, help me to get away, pick me off, and make me free from this ice."--"Ah!" said the arctic Fox, "You are too heavy. I cannot pick you off. Here!" cried the arctic Fox, "Children, come here, all of you. I caught a big fat bear for you. Come here and have a meal!" The young arctic Foxes came and bit the bear to death. They had a liberal meal, and soon the bear was gone.
After that a Wolf came. "You, arctic Fox, what are you doing?"--"I am constructing a fish weir to catch fish."--"Give me a share."--"O, no! How can I? I have too many children. I bring forth a dozen in one litter."--"I say, give me a share!"--"All right, I shall give you half the catch." He made him sit down on the flanks. "See here!" said Fox, "put your bushy tail down into the water, you will catch some nice fish. But you must stay quiet, and not even move a toe. Otherwise all the fish will be scared away."
After three days the arctic Fox came back to the weirs. "Oh, oh!" cried the Wolf. "There, you arctic Fox, where is your fish? I am frozen and nearly dying of cold. Please help me get away, and pick me off!"--"Ah!" said the arctic Fox, "You are too heavy. Pick yourself off." Then the Wolf turned his head and gnawed at his tail. Seeing this, the arctic Fox set off, and ran away along the river bank. The Wolf, tail-less and very angry, found his tracks, and gave pursuit, but the Fox dug a hole in the snow and lay down, feigning to be lame. "Ah, you scoundrel!" growled the Wolf through his teeth, "I will catch you and tear you into three parts. You have deceived me most heartlessly." He came to the Fox, and snarled, "Here you are! You thief! where is your fish? I will tear you to pieces." The arctic Fox shut one eye and pretended to be blind. "What fish?" asked he innocently. "I am lame and nearly blind. My other eye is also worthless. I have not left here for a number of days."--"Of course," acquiesced the Wolf, "the other one had two eyes, but still these seem to be your tracks."--"How can they be mine?" said arctic Fox. "Am I the only arctic Fox hereabouts? There are ever so many."--"That is right," said the Wolf. He followed another track, and caught another arctic Fox. "I have you," snarled he. "It is you who made me stick to the ice of the river." And he tore him to pieces. 1
Told by Ulashkan, a Lamut man, on the Molonda River, in the Kolyma country, summer of 1895.
33:1 O. Dähnhardt, Natursagen, vol. 4, 219.--F. B.