Tuesday, August 1, 2017
The Wolf's Dream, a German Odenwald Tale by Johann W Wolf 1855
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The wolf lay one night in his cave, and suddenly he heard a sound in his left ear.
"That meant a good dinner," said he, and left all his pieces of meat the next morning, and marched away. Then he came to a meadow, where two lambs were browsing.
He went up to them, and said, "I must eat one of you two."
"Yes," said the elder of the two rams, and the most indigestible, "you will do as you please, for we are quite powerless against you. However, before you eat either of us, I wish you would measure off the proper parts of this meadow belonging to each; then our heirs wont dispute."
"Very well," said the wolf, who was flattered by the notion, and he ran round the meadow with his nose to the ground, and then went into the middle.
"Now," said he, "you two go, one to that corner, and the other to that, and then come towards me in a direct line, and you'll see that I have measured it equally."
This was done, the two rams ran towards him, and hit him so hard with their horns that he fell down badly hurt. Then the rams ran away, which was the best thing they could do.
When he came to himself again, he said, "I don't mind the pain a bit: I believe in what my ear told me."
So he went on further again, and came to another meadow; there he found a horse grazing with a foal.
"One of you two I must eat," said the wolf. The horse replied, "Sir wolf, you have the power of doing as you please, for you are stronger than we are. But I have got a thorn in my hoof, and if you eat my foal, I shall have no one left who can pull it out; therefore, as I know you are an excellent doctor, pray do it before you eat the foal."
"Certainly," said the wolf, who was very much delighted at the compliment. "Put up your foot, and just tell me where the thorn is; I 'll get it out, before you can say Jack Robinson."
The horse held up one of his hind legs, and the wolf came and stooped down to see what was the matter; and while he was looking, the horse gave him a tremendous kick on the head, so that the fireworks went off in his head, and he lay down half killed.
Then the horse and foal ran away, and after such sense I'm sure nobody can deny that the horse is a very clever animal.
When the wolf came to himself for the second time, he said, "I don't care for the pain: I believe in what my ear said, and will go seek my good dinner."
He went along very sadly at first, but after a time more lustily, and came at last to a village. By the village was an oven, and the oven was hot, and an old nanny-goat, with seven little kids, stood beside it, and they made a most tremendous ma-ma-ing.
The wolf came running up to them, and said "I must eat one of you."
"Must is hard," said the nanny-goat, "but you can. Still, you could do us a favour beforehand."
"What is that?" asked the wolf.
"We were singing a glee at the time you came, but couldn't get on for want of a bass voice; now, as you are an excellent musician, you might help us, and then eat any one of the kids you please."
This flattered the wolf not a little, for he was always pleased to hear himself praised.
So he sat down on his hind legs, and began to howl so dreadfully that all the people in the village came running together, and beat him until they were quite exhausted.
Then he went very sadly and hungrily into the forest, and lay down under an oak, and sighed out, "Oh, what a stupid fellow I am, after all! I wish Odin would throw down his sharp sword and hit me, for being so foolish as to believe my ears!"
Now, on the oak tree, there was sitting a peasant, who had been cutting wood in the forest, and had just got up into the tree when he saw the wolf coming.
When he heard what the wolf said, he took his axe, and threw it right down on the wolf's head.
"Oh dear! oh dear!" said the wolf: "this is too holy a grove; Odin has heard my prayer too soon."
Then he dragged himself wearily and wretchedly to his cave. When he got there, other wolves had eaten up all his store, and there was none left.
At last he said to himself these words, and he was nearly heart-broken, "My father was not a land-surveyor, therefore I can be none; my father was no musician, therefore I can be none; and I, therefore, am quite unable to earn my bread."
After this, he felt so uneasy in his mind, that he lay down and died.