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Norwegian fairy tale collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe in their Norwegian folk tales (1841-1844). The original Norwegian text ("Reve-enka") was found at Project Runeberg, and has been translated by me. Please note that the original dialog is written in rhymes, although my translation isn't - I have concentrated on making it as literal as possible.

Fun fact: See the end of tale (don't want to spoil the plot!)

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Once upon a time there was a fox and a vixen, who lived far into the forest in the fox-house. They were friends and lived well together, as couples may do. But one day the fox had been in the farmer's chicken coop, and he ate all there was, and it was too much for him. Then he got ill and died; and all the vixen mourned and cried, it didn't help, he was dead and stayed dead.

But when he was well under ground and the funeral over, suitors started coming to the widow. On Saturday evening there were three knocks on the fox house door. "Oh go out, Korse, and see what it is," said the fox widow; she had a cat as maid, and her name was Korse. When the girl came out, a bear stood outside.

"Good evening," greeted the bear.

"Good evening back," said Korse.

"Is the fox widow home tonight?" he asked.

"She is inside," answered the girl.

"What is she doing tonight, does she sound ill or well?" asked the bear.

"She mourns over her husband's death and cries her nose sore and red - she doesn't know what to do," said the cat.

"Ask her to come out, she'll get good advice!" said the bear.

When the cat came in, the mistress asked:

"Who walks around and knocks, interrupting my quiet evening?"

"It is your suitors," answered the cat; "I was to ask you to come out, you would get good advice."

"What colour was his fur?" asked the lady fox.

"Beautiful brown," answered the girl; "large fellow and sharp eyes," she said.

"Let 'm go, let 'm go! I don't need his advice."

Korse walked over to the door, opened it a crack and said:

"She asks you to go home, she doesn't want advice."

Yes, there was nothing to do about it, the bear had to turn around and go back to where he came from.

Next Saturday night, there was another knock. This time there was a wolf outside.

"Good evening," said the wolf, is the fox widow at home?"

Yes, so she was.

"What is she doing tonight, does she sound ill or well?" he asked.

"Oh, she doesn't know what to do," answered the girl; "she cries her nose sore and red, she mourns over her husband's death."

"Ask her to come out, she'll get good advice!" said the wolf.

"Who flies around and knocks, interrupting my quiet evening," asked the fox widow.

"Oh, I know it's suitors," said the cat. "I was to ask you to come out, you would get good advice," she said.

No, first the vixen wanted to know what colour his fur had.

"Beautiful gray; long body with little on," answered Korse.

"Let 'm go, let 'm go! I don't need his advice!" said the widow; and when the gray wolf was told, he had to turn around as well.

The same thing happened the third Saturday evening. Three knocks on the door, and the cat went out to see. It was a hare.

"Good evening," he said.

"Good evening back," she answered; "are there strangers travelling around, so late at night?" she said.

Yes, so there was, and he also asked whether the fox widow was home and what she was doing.

"She cries her nose sore and red, she mourns over her husband's death", answered the girl.

"Ask her to come out, she'll get good advice," said the hare.

"Who trips around and knocks, interrupting my quiet evening," said the mistress to Korse.

"It is suitors, madam!" answered the girl.

Yes, she wanted to know what colour the fur was this time.

"Beautiful white, thick frieze and no wear," said the cat.

But that wasn't better: "Let 'm go, let 'm go, I don't need his advice," answered the fox widow.

Then came the fourth Saturday evening. Suddenly, there were three knocks on the door again. "Go out and see what's happening," the widow said to the maid. When the cat came out, a fox was outside.

"Good evening. Nice to meet you," said the fox.

"The same to you," answered the girl.

"Is the vixen home?" he asked.

"Yes, she mourns over her husband's death, and cries her nose sore and red," said the girl; "she doesn't know what to do, poor thing!"

"Just ask her to come out, she'll get good advice," said the fox.

Korse went inside.

"Who whizzes around and knocks, interrupting my quiet evening," asked the mistress.

"Oh you know," said the cat, "it is your suitors. "I was to ask you to come out, you would get good advice."

"What colour is his fur?" asked the fox widow.

Beautiful red, just like the one who is dead," answered the cat.

"Dear, ask him in to see, he has good advice!" said the widow.

"Pass me here my small socks, I would like to go out with him; pass me here my shoes to button, I would like to speak with him."

She wanted him, and it was invited for party and wedding at the widow's at once. And if he hasn't been to the chicken coop as well, they still live in the fox house this very day.

More fairy tales, please!


The Norwegian artist Ivo Caprino made a puppet film of this story, with a slightly different twist. There are only three suitors in it - the hare has been given a different role. Both the bear and the wolf chases the hare before trying to court, but the fox has a polite and unforgettable conversation with him, taken from the small fairy tale The Hare Who Got Married.

I guess in having a polite conversation rather than trying to kill someone, he further shows what a good man he is. (Further than having a red fur, that is...)

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