58 THE FOX AND THE WOLF
'What am I doing? What I am going to do is to make my supper off you, in less time than a cock takes to crow.'
'Well, I suppose you must have your joke/ answered the fox lightly, but never removing her eye from the wolf, who replied with a snarl which showed all his teeth:
'I don't want to joke, but to eat!'
'But surely a person of your talents must perceive that you might eat me to the very last morsel and never know that you had swallowed anything at all!'
' In this world the cleverest people are always the hungriest,' replied the wolf.
'Ah! how true that is; but------'
'I can't stop to listen to your "buts" and "yets,"' broke in the wolf rudely; 'let us get to the point, and the point is that I want to eat you and not talk to you.'
'Have you no pity for a poor mother?' asked the fox, putting her tail to her eyes, but peeping slily out of them all the same.
'I am dying of hunger,' answered the wolf, doggedly; 'and you know,' he added with a grin, 'that charity begins at home.'
'Quite so,' replied the fox; 'it would he unreasonable of me to object to your satisfying your appetite at my expense. But if the fox resigns herself to the sacrifice, the mother offers you one last request.'
'Then be quick and don't waste time, for I can't wait much longer. What is it you want?'
'You must know,' said the fox, 'that in this village there is a rich man who makes in the summer enough cheeses to last him for the whole year, and keeps them in an old well, now dry, in his courtyard. By the well hang two buckets on a pole that were used, in former days, to draw up water. For many nights I have crept down to the place, and have lowered myself in the bucket,