The Fox and the Wolf
Once upon a time – or as the Mongols put it – in times long, long past, a fox and a wolf lived together as close and peacefully as brothers. One day, they had just gone out to find something to eat, when they suddenly came upon a lump of butter that lay right in the middle of the road. A fat, shiny lump of butter.
They were just about to share the butter between them, as brothers do, when the fox said: “If we would eat the butter right here, in the middle of the road, men might come by and take it from us. Better to climb to the top of the mountain over there and eat our butter in peace.”
“Fine. Let’s do it like you said. But how are we going to carry the butter to the top of that mountain?” the Wolf replied.
“How we are going to carry this tiny piece of butter? Well, one of us will put it on his back, of course,” said the fox. “But it is the wheezing and groaning which is the really hard part anyway.”
“Let me carry the butter. You do the wheezing and groaning,” the Wolf hurried to say, put the big lump of butter on his back and started his way up the mountain.
“If you insist,” the fox agreed. And he opened his mouth as widely as it would go and followed the wolf, wheezing and groaning loudly the whole way.
After hours upon hours of climbing the steep mountain-path, they finally reached the top of the mountain. The wolf was just putting down the butter, which had left shiny traces in his fur, when the fox said: “It is a bad idea to share the butter when the piece is so tiny to begin with. Only one of us should eat it.”
“And which one of us should eat it?” the wolf asked.
The fox replied: “Whoever is older, of course. How old are you?”
The wolf wanted to outsmart the fox so he could eat the butter by himself. And so he said: “When I was just a little cub, the Sumber Mountain was but a small hump amidst the rolling hills of the steppe and the Milk Sea was just a tiny puddle.”
The wolf had not even quite finished his tale, when the fox suddenly broke down in tears. The wolf thought he was crying because he had lost the butter to the wolf who was after all as old as the mythical Sumber Mountain and the mythical Milk Sea. But out loud he still asked: “Why are you crying?”
“Oh, I just miss my three cubs. Hearing you talk, I just realized that you are the same age as my youngest,” the fox replied sniffling.
Now the wolf felt deeply ashamed of having tried to trick his elder. His stomach wheezing and groaning with hunger, he made his way back to their cave while the fox stayed on the mountain top a while longer and enjoyed the butter all by himself.