This Mongolian animal tale one is actually representing a particular type of the genre: three friends, one gets trapped, another one wants to eat him, the last one comes to the rescue. Sounds kind of like the tale about the lame magpie? Yeah, no. Not really. But read for yourselves. Especially since you can never read too many Mongolian animal tales.
The Khulan, the Crow and the Wolf
In times long ago, a khulan – that is a Mongolian wild ass –, a crow and a wolf lived together as brothers. One day they went in search of a new place to live and the crow said: “There is this place where every one of us would find plenty to eat. But there lives a skilled hunter with his bow and his traps. The traps would be a danger for us.”The wolf thought: “If the khulan would happen to get caught in one of the hunter’s traps, I could eat as much as I want.” So he said out loud: “Let’s move to this beautiful place and live there. Or are you afraid of one hunter?”
Therefore the three friends moved to that place and for a while they lived there in peace. But one day the khulan got caught in a trap. As soon as the wolf heard about it, he hurried to get to the trapped animal before the crow would find him. When he arrived there, the wolf asked the khulan: “How did this happen?”
“How did I got caught in this trap? I don’t really know. I was just walking along when I suddenly fell into it,” the khulan answered, “How will I get out of it again?”
The wolf told him: “Jump up and down! You will surely be able to free yourself that way!” And with that the wolf left the khulan alone. He thought it would be better to wait a bit longer before eating the khulan and so he hid himself behind a bush.
But just then the crow came flying along and when she saw the khulan she asked her friend: “Why are you jumping up and down like that?”
“Why do I do it? I got caught in one of the hunter’s traps and the wolf came along and said: ‘Jump up and down and you will be free soon!’ That’s why I jump like this. But now my legs are hurting and I’m very tired,” the khulan said.
The crow gave him the following piece of advise: “Stop jumping up and down. You will break your legs and then you will probably die soon. You mustn’t move at all! Play dead! When the hunter believes that you’re dead already, he will set you free. And when he does, then you can flee. But you will have to run as fast as you can.” The khulan nodded and did what the crow had told him.
The crow flew up into the air, ever higher, and started circling above the ger of the hunter croaking to draw his attention. The experienced hunter thought: “Oh, an animal must have gotten caught in my trap.” And so he took his bow and his quiver and went to take a look.
In the meanwhile the wolf thought: “That annoying crow has come and opened the khulan’s eyes.” He got up to get back to the still trapped khulan when he caught sight of the approaching hunter. “Now the time has come to fill my belly,” the wolf said to himself and crouched behind the bush again.
When the hunter saw that it was a khulan who he had caught, he was very happy. And since he believed that the animal was dead, he set him free. Then he sat down to smoke his pipe. At this moment the khulan jumped up and ran away as fast as he could. The hunter shot many arrows after him. But because the khulan had run into the direction of the bush behind which the wolf hid himself, the arrows didn’t hit the khulan but the wolf who died when one of them hit him fatally at the head.
Copyright of the tale’s translation and narration: TaleTellerin
Copyright for image: picture taken by Snowyowls @ WikiMedia Commons
Like in the animal tale The Dumb Wolf, it is the wolf’s presence and his role as men’s rival for food that shifts the mood of this tale from playful to a bit more serious. What do we learn from this? Rivalry? Not good.