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Hovhannes Tumanian: The Fish That Lost its Tail

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Translation of story by Hovhannes Tumanian
1907


ONCE UPON A TIME there lived an old woman. One day she milked her goat, put the pail down and went to fetch some firewood to boil the milk.

A Fox chanced by, and seeing the pail, stuck his head into it and lapped up all the milk.

The old woman flew at him with her chopper and chopped off his tail.

The fox ran off to a boulder, and crouching on it, began to plead with the old woman:

“Old lady, old lady, give me back my tail! I’ll fix it in place again, and then I’ll be able to return to my brethren. Otherwise they will make fun of me for being without a tail.’

The old woman answered:

“You give me back my milk, and I’ll give you back your tail.”

The Fox ran up to the Cow, and said:

“Cow, kind Cow, please give me some milk. I’ll give it to the old woman, and then she’ll give me back my tail. I’ll fix my tail in place again, and then I’ll be able to return to my brethren. Otherwise they will make fun of me for being without a tail.”

The Cow answered:

“Bring me some grass!”

So the Fox went to the Field.

“Field, my beautiful Field, please give me some grass! I’ll take it to the Cow, and the Cow will give me some milk. I’ll take the milk to the old woman, and she’ll give me back my tail. I’ll fix my tail in place again and then I’ll be able to return to my brethren; otherwise they will make fun of me for being without a tail.5’

The Field replied:

"Fetch me some water!”

So the Fox went to a Stream and said:

“Stream, dear Stream, please give me some water! I’ll take it to the Field, and the Field will give me some grass. I’ll take the grass to the Cow, and the Cow will give me some milk. I’ll take the milk to the old woman, and she’ll give me back my tail. I’ll fix my tail in place again, and then I’ll be able to return to my brethren. Otherwise they will make fun of me for being without a tail.’’

The Stream answered:

“Bring me a jug!”

So the Fox went to a Maiden and pleaded:

“Maiden, fair Maiden, give me your jug! I’ll take it to the Stream, and the Stream will give me some water. I’ll take the water to the Field, and the Field will give me some grass. I’ll take the grass to the Cow, and the Cow will give me some milk. I’ll take the milk to the old woman, and she’ll give me back my tail. I’ll fix my tail in place again, and then I’ll be able to return to my brethren. Otherwise they will make fun of me for being without a tail.”

The Maiden replied:

"Bring me some pretty beads!”

The Fox went to the Peddler, and pleaded for some beads.

"Pedd1er kind Peddler, give me some pretty beads! I’ll take the pretty beads to the Maiden, and she’ll give me her jug. I’ll take the jug to the Stream, and the Stream will give me some water. I’ll take the water to the Field, and the Field will give me some grass. I’ll take the grass to the Cow, and the Cow will give me some niilk. I’ll take the milk to the old woman, and she’ll give me back my tail. I’ll fix my tail in place again, and then I’ll be able to return to my brethren. Otherwise they will make fun of me for being without a tail.”

The Peddler answered:

“Bring me an egg!”

The Fox went to the Hen, and begged:

“Hen, my dear little Hen, give me an egg! I’ll take the egg to the Peddler, and he’ll give me some pretty beads. I’ll take the pretty beads to the Maiden, and she’ll give me her jug. I’ll take the jug to the Stream, and the Stream will give me some water. I’ll take the water to the Field, and the Field will give me some grass. I’ll take the grass to the Cow, and the Cow will give me some milk. I’ll take the milk to the old woman, and she’ll give me back my tail. I’ll fix my tail in place again, and then I’ll be able to return to my brethren. Otherwise they will make fun of me for being without a tail.”

The Hen said:

“Bring me some grain!”

The Fox went to the Thresher, and begged:

“Thresher, kind Thresher, give me some grain! I’ll take the grain to the Hen, and she’ll give me an egg. I’ll take the egg to the Peddler, and he’ll give me some pretty beads. I’ll take the pretty beads to the Maiden, and she’ll give me her jug. I’ll take the jug to the Stream, and the Stream will give me some water. I’ll take the water to the Field, and the Field will give me some grass. I’ll take the grass to the Cow, and the Cow will give me some milk. I’ll take the milk to the old woman, and she’ll give me back my tail. Then I’ll fix my tail in place again, and I’ll be able to return to my brethren. Otherwise they will make fun of me for being without a tail.”

The Thresher felt sorry for the poor Fox, and gave him a handful of grain.

So the Fox took the grain to the Hen, and the Hen gave him an egg. The Fox took the egg to the Peddler, and the Peddler gave him some pretty beads. The Fox took the pretty beads to the Maiden, and the Maiden gave him her jug. The Fox took her jug to the Stream, and the Stream gave him some water. The Fox took the water to the Field, and the Field gave him some grass. The Fox gave the grass to the Cow, and the Cow gave him some milk. The Fox took the milk to the old woman, and the old woman gave him back his tail.

The Fox fixed his tail in place again, and ran off to join his brethren, and none of them made fun of him.