252 THE FOX AND THE LAPP
for though he could steal reindeer he was too small to kill them. ' After all, it will be quite easy,' thought he, and he bade a squirrel, who was watching him on a tree close by, take a message to all the robber beasts of the forest, and in less than half an hour a great crashing of branches was heard, and bears, wolves, snakes, mice, frogs, and other creatures came pressing up to the cave.
When they heard why they had been summoned, they declared themselves ready each one to do his part. The bear took his crossbow from his neck and shot the reindeer in the chin ; and, from that day to this, every reindeer has a mark in that same spot, which is always known as the bear's arrow. The wolf shot him in the thigh, and the sign of his arrow still remains ; and so with the mouse and the viper and all the rest, even the frog ; and at the last the reindeer all died. And the fox did nothing, but looked on.
' I really must go down to the brook and wash my* self,' said he (though he was perfectly clean), and he went under the bank and hid himself behind a stone. From there he set up the most frightful shrieks, so that the animals fled away in all directions. Only the mouse and the ermine remained where they were, for they thought that they were much too small to be noticed.
The fox continued his shrieks till he felt sure that the animals must have got to a safe distance ; then he crawled out of his hiding-place and went to the bodies of the reindeer, which he now had all to himself. He gathered a bundle of sticks for a fire, and was just preparing to cook a steak, when his enemy, the Lapp, came up, panting with haste and excitement.
' What are you doing there ? ' cried he ; ' why did you palm off those bones on me ? And why, when you had got the reindeer, did you kill them ?
' Dear brother,' answered the fox with a sob, ' do not blame me for this misfortune. It is my comrades who have slain them in spite of my prayers.'