250 THE FOX AND THE LAPP
instant, and caught the bands of willow and the bear's rough hair; but he did not stir, for he thought that the fox was rubbing the bright colours into his skin, and that he would soon be as beautiful as a whole meadow of flowers. But when the fire grew hotter still he moved uneasily from one foot to the other, saying, imploringly : ' It is getting rather warm, old man.' But all the answer he got was: ' I thought you would never be able to suffer pain like those little birds.'
The bear did not like being told that he was not as brave as a bird, so he set his teeth and resolved to endure anything sooner than speak again ; but by this time the last willow band had burned through, and with a push the fox sent his victim tumbling into the grass, and ran off to hide himself in the forest. After a while he stole cautiously and found, as he expected, nothing left but a few charred bones. These he picked up and put in a bag, which he slung over his back.
By-and-by he met a Lapp driving his team of reindeer along the road, and as he drew near, the fox rattled the bones gaily.
' That sounds like silver or gold,' thought the man to himself. And he said politely to the fox:
' Good-day, friend ! What have you got in your bag that makes such a strange sound ?'
' All the wealth my father left me,' answered the fox. ' Do you feel inclined to bargain ? '
' Well, I don't mind,' replied the Lapp, who was a prudent man, and did not wish the fox to think him too eager; ' but show me first what money you have got.'
' Ah, but I can't do that,' answered the fox, ' my bag is sealed up. But if you will give me those three reindeer, you shall take it as it is, with all its contents.
The Lapp did not quite like it, but the fox spoke with such an air that his doubts melted away. He nodded, and stretched out his hand; the fox put the bag into it, and unharnessed the reindeer he had chosen.