251 THE FOX AND THE LAPP
' No, thank you,' answered the fox, ' your back is much too weak for me. I should break it.'
' Try mine,' said the eel, who had wriggled to the front.
' No, thank you,' replied the fox again, ' I should slip over your head and be drowned.'
' You won't slip on my back,' said the perch, coming forward.
' No; but you are really too rough,' returned the fox.
' Well, you can have no fault to find with me,' put in the trout.
' Good gracious ! are you here ?' exclaimed the fox. ' But I'm afraid to trust myself to you either.'
At this moment a fine salmon swam slowly up.
' Ah, yes, you arc the person I want,' said the fox; ' but come near, so that I may get on your back, without wetting my feet.'
So the salmon swam close under the island, and when he was touching it the fox seized him in his claws and drew him out of the water, and put him on a spit, while he kindled a fire to cook him by. When everything was ready, and the water in the pot was getting hot, he popped him in, and waited till he thought the salmon was nearly boiled. But as he stooped down the water gave a sudden fizzle, and splashed into the fox's eyes, blinding him. He started backwards with a cry of pain, and sat still for some minutes, rocking himself to and fro. When he was a little better he rose and walked down a road till he met a grouse, who stopped and asked what was the matter.
' Have you a pair of eyes anywhere about you ? ' asked the fox politely.
' No, I am afraid I haven't,' answered the grouse, and passed on.
A little while after the fox heard the buzzing of an early bee, whom a gleam of sun had tempted out.