A hen and a rooster accompanied each other while hunting for nuts in the Nut-mountain. One day when they were searching for nuts, the rooster told the hen, “Don’t eat a nut alone if you find one. Share half of it with me; otherwise you will be choked to death.” After sometime the hen found a nut indeed, but she ate it alone. The kernel of the nut stuck to her tiny throat such a way that she was almost chocked.
Frightened, she started calling, “Rooster! My dear rooster! Take me quickly to a spring; I’m chocking!” How could a rooster carry a hen to a spring far away? He rushed to the spring in the forest and said, “Spring – dear spring! Give me some water that I can carry to my hen on the top of the nut mountain; she is suffocating.”
The spring said, “First go to the bride and bring me the coronet from her!”
The rooster ran to the bride and cried, “Bride, dear bride! Give me your coronet that I have to give the spring so that I can take water to my hen who is suffocating on the top of the Nut-mountain.” But the bride said, “First go to the shoemaker and get me a pair of shoes!”
As the rooster came to shoemaker, he said, “First go to the sow and get me some belly fat.”
The Sow said, “First go to the cow and get me some milk.”
And the cow demanded, “First go to the meadow and get me some grass.”
Luck favoured him only after reaching the meadow. The meadow was a gentle one who gave him loads of fresh grass and bunch of beautiful flowers without asking for any further commitment.
Taking those the rooster hurried to the cow and received milk in return which he gave the swine. For the milk he received swine fat with which the shoemaker smeared his leather to instantly make a pair of shoes for the bride. Seeing the beautiful shoes, the sweet bride gave her coronet which the rooster passed to the spring. Straight away it cascaded its clear water into the vessel brought by the rooster. You won’t believe how fast the rooster ran back to the ailing hen on the top of the Nut-mountain.
But he was so unfortunate! By the time he arrived, his hen was choked to death.
All the animals in the neighbourhood could hear the loud cry of the grief-stricken rooster. All of them came running and assembled beside him and mourned for the hen. Six poor mice built a funeral carriage for her, placed her on it and started pulling it.
While the rooster, the dead hen, the little mice and the mourning-cart were on their way to the burial ground, a fox followed them from behind. Slowly he walked to the mourning fowl; asked, “Where are you going, dear rooster?”
“I am going to bury my dear hen.”
“That is but my task, you fool!” – telling this the fox swallowed the hen as its body was still fresh.
Seeing his beloved getting buried in the fox’s stomach, the mourning rooster cried miserably, “I wish I was dead by now so that I could be with my hen.”
The fox howled, “That is the way it should be!” And swallowed the rooster as well. The grieving mice started lamenting and the fox thought, they too wanted to die. He gulped them too at one go. He didn’t realize that the mice tied themselves with the carriage to be able to pull it efficiently. Since he was busy gobbling them up, the pole of the carriage bounced and hit his chest hard. He fell down on the road – remained lying stretching all four legs upwards.
After some time a tiny bird was flying towards a lime** branch singing, “The fox lies as dead as a dodo – it lies as dead as a dodo!”
*Sounds like a fable? Märchen include fables too. Though this story from Ludwig Bechstein’s collection does not have a moral quote at the end, the story had a moral at the core.
**Lime tree is associated with unravelling the truth in pre-Christian era German myth – became symbol of jurisprudence after Christianity came. In the folklore, it is often a symbol of undying love as “tree of lovers”.
Like in Indian fables, fox is symbol of cunningness and greed which is always punished at the end of a story.
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