Wolf and Mouse as Partners (Egypt)
Retold by Kevin Strauss (c) 2003
Long, long ago, people say, wolf was a farmer. Every spring he would use his claws to till the soil, he would carry seeds in his mouth and spit them into the ground. But, truth be told, wolf was not a very good farmer. He would forget to water his crops or he would put off weeding them. And when fall came, wolf’s fields gave him very little to eat.
“I know what I need. I need is a partner,” said wolf.
Wolf looked all across the valley to decide who to get for his partner. In those days, all of the animals farmed, and the best farmer in the valley was mouse.
Wolf walked up to mouse’s house and knocked on the door. When mouse answered, he was surprised to see wolf standing outside.
“Mouse, you and I are going to be partners in farming,” said wolf.
Mouse didn’t want to disagree with wolf, because wolf could swallow mouse with one gulp.
“Uh, O.K., we can be partners. But we should decide now on how we will divide the work and how we will divide the crops,” said mouse.
“I’ll rent the land and clear it with my claws. You can plant the seeds and we can both water and weed. And when the plants are grown, since I spend most of my time above ground, I want everything that grows above the ground. Since you live underground, you can have everything that grows underneath the ground,” said wolf.
“O.K. wolf, I’ll see you tomorrow,” said mouse.
The next day, wolf had rented some land from bear and he cleared the land and tilled it with his claws. When mouse got there, mouse began planting the seeds, but he didn’t tell wolf what kind of seeds he was planting.
The two of them weeded the field and watered the field throughout the summer. Slowly, little whitish-green stalks rose above the ground. When fall came, wolf gathered the little white stalks, but they didn’t taste very good. When wolf was done, mouse called to all of his friends and relations, because if there is one thing that mice have a lot of, its friends and relations.
“O.K. everybody, dig up those potatoes!” said mouse.
And as wolf watched, mouse and his family dug up basket after basket of tasty potatoes.
As wolf sat in his cave, chewing on potato stalks, he started thinking to himself, “mouse tricked me once, but he won’t trick me again.”
The next day he went back to mouse’s house.
“O.K. mouse, we are going to be partners again, but this time, I get to have what grows underground and you get to have what grows above ground,” said wolf.
“O.K.,” said mouse. What else could he say?
Once again, wolf tilled the land and mouse planted the seeds. But these seeds looked different from the first ones. As time went by, the seeds grew into tall, golden stalks, with grains of wheat at the top. When it came time to harvest, mouse came up to wolf.
“Say wolf, under our agreement, I would get everything above ground. But I am feeling generous today, so all I want is the very tops of the plants. You can have everything else,” said mouse.
“Well, thank you mouse, that’s very generous of you,” said wolf.
Mouse and his family gathered all of the wheat grains from the tops of the plants and went home with baskets and baskets and tasty wheat. Wolf gathered the stalks and the skinny wheat roots and took them home. But when he tried to eat the wheat stalks, they tasted just like straw, because that was what they were.
From that day on, wolf decided that mouse was way too smart for him. From that day on, wolf decided to be a hunter. But mouse and his children live on are farms to this day, planting crops and gathering their share of the grain.