Friday, March 5, 2021

The Two Friends And The Barrel Of Grease


The Two Friends And The Barrel Of Grease [Folk Tales Of Flanders]

The Two Friends And The Barrel Of Grease [Folk Tales Of Flanders]

A dog and a wolf who were very great friends set up house together, and agreed to share equally any food they might obtain. One day they managed to steal a barrel of grease from the house of a countryman who lived close by, and having no immediate need of it, they decided to put it away until the winter, when they might be glad of anything they could get to appease their hunger. So the barrel of grease was carefully hidden away in the cellar.

All went well for some time, and then the wolf began to think longingly of the hidden store. Every time he thought of the grease he imagined himself licking it up, and at last he could withstand the  temptation no longer, so he went to the dog and said: “I shall be out all day to-morrow. A cousin of mine has just had a little son, and he has sent for me to go and be godfather at the christening.”

“Very well, my friend,” answered the dog. “Go by all means. They have paid you a great honour by asking you, and of course you cannot refuse.”

The wolf departed, but he went no farther than the cellar, where he spent the whole of the day by the barrel of grease, eating and eating until he could hold no more. Late at night he returned, licking his chops, and the dog said: “Well, my friend, did everything go off well?”

“Splendidly, thank you!” answered the wolf.

“Good! And what name did they give the child?”

“Oh,” said the wolf, thinking of the barrel of grease, “they called him Begun .”

“What a strange name!” cried the dog, “I never heard the like of it in my life. However, every one to his taste!”

A day or two later the wolf once again began to think of the delicious food in the cellar, so he told the dog that he had just received another summons from a different cousin, who also had a baby to which she wished him to stand godfather. “I wish to goodness they would leave me alone!” he said, pretending to be very much annoyed. “Anybody would think that I had nothing else to do but to stand godfather to other people’s brats!”

“You shouldn’t be so good-natured,” laughed the dog. “It is clear that you make a very good godfather, or you would not be so much in demand.”

Away went the wolf and spent a second satisfying day with the barrel of grease. When he returned the dog asked him the name of the child.

Half-Done ,” said the wolf.

“Bah!” cried the dog, “that is an even sillier name than the other. I can’t think what parents are coming to—in my time plain Jean or Jacques was good enough for anybody.”

The wolf made no reply, being in fact fast asleep, for he had dined very well, and was drowsy. A day or two afterwards however, he played the same trick again, and devoured the last of the fat in the  barrel. This time, when asked the name of the child to whom he had stood godfather, he answered: “ All-done .”

The Two Friends And The Barrel Of Grease [Folk Tales Of Flanders]

The dog had no suspicion of the way he had been deceived, and all went well until the winter came and food became difficult to procure. Then one day the dog said: “It seems to me that the time has come to tap our barrel of grease. What do you say, friend? Weren’t we wise to put it away for a time like this!”

“I believe you,” answered the wolf.

“Come then, let us go to the cellar and enjoy the fruits of our prudence.”

So off they went to the cellar, where they found the barrel in the very place they had left it, but with nothing inside it. The dog looked at the wolf, and the wolf looked at the dog, and of the two the wolf seemed the more surprised.

“What’s this?” cried the dog. “Where has our grease gone?” Then, looking at the wolf suspiciously: “This is some of your work, my friend!”

“Oh, indeed!” said the wolf, “and since when has it been proved that dogs do not like grease?”

“You mean to accuse me of stealing it?” cried the dog angrily.

“One of the two of us must have taken it, for nobody else knew it was here!”

“It was certainly not I.”

“Well,” said the wolf, “it is no use squabbling over the matter. Fortunately there is a way of discovering which of us is the culprit. Obviously the one who has eaten all that grease must be absolutely full of fat. Let us both go to sleep in the sunshine. At the end of an hour or two the heat will melt the grease which will soak through and show on the body of the one who is the thief.”

Feeling quite secure in his innocence, the dog willingly agreed to this plan, and the two went out and lay down in a sheltered place, where the heat of the sun was strong. After a time the dog began to yawn, and in less than half an hour he was sound asleep, but the wolf had a good reason for not following his example, and although he closed his eyes to deceive his friend, he remained wide awake.

Presently, having made sure that the dog was slumbering peacefully, he arose and tiptoed softly down to the cellar. There he collected with his long tongue, every bit of the grease that still remained sticking to the sides and bottom of the barrel, and returning to the sleeper, carefully smeared the grease over his jaws, back, and thighs. Several times he did this, until the dog was covered with a thin greasy film. Then he lay down again and once more pretended to sleep.

A little while afterwards the dog woke up, and found the grease all over his body. He could not make out how it got there, and while he was still regarding himself with a look of blank surprise, the wolf cried: “Ah, now we know who was the thief! The grease has betrayed you, my friend!”

The poor dog looked very sheepish, and had not a word to say for himself. He puzzled over the matter until his head ached, and at last he came to the conclusion that he must have been sleep-walking and have stolen the grease without knowing it—a conclusion with which the wolf entirely agreed.  

The Two Friends And The Barrel Of Grease [Folk Tales Of Flanders]