Adaptation of a popular tale from Chile
The Mapuche people who inhabited southern Chile many years ago, told a story about a fox and a partridge that has survived to this day.
It seems that there was a fox that lived in those lands that sang so badly that nobody wanted to marry him. The animal had a terrible time because he did not want to spend the rest of his life alone, without a partner with whom to share his joys and sorrows.
Day after day he spent the hours thinking of a possible solution to the problem, but all the ideas that came to his head were too crazy. One morning it occurred to him that the sensible thing to do was to ask someone who could sing better than he for help.
– Determined! I urgently need an expert on the subject, but … Who could give me a hand? Deer, insects and weasels discarded. All those sing worse than me! Let’s see … I’ve got it, the partridge!
Overjoyed because he believed he had found the right animal, he ran home to the spotted partridge. He was far, far away, and when he knocked on his door three times, sweat was streaming down his forehead and his paws were aching and damp from nerves.
The partridge, which was preparing food, heard the knocks and went out. Obviously, he was very scared when he saw the red face of the fox through the peephole.
– What are you looking for at my house?
– Ma’am, I don’t want to disturb you. I just came to ask you a favor. There is something that worries me and I do not know who to turn to. I assure you that I have no intention of doing you any harm.
The partridge did not know whether to trust him, but as he had a trusting nature by nature, he decided to unbolt and listen to what that daring fox had to tell him.
– Come on, get out, you got me on edge!
– You see, I’m looking forward to getting married but I can’t find a girlfriend. All the females that I like say that I sing fatal and they don’t want to know anything about me.
– No wonder! It has a huge mouth and thus it is impossible to sing something beautiful and in tune.
– Wow … Well, I hadn’t realized it! Unfortunately, that has no solution …
– The fox lowered his head and a tear rolled down his cheek to the tip of his upturned nose.
– I can think of something that might work! But of course … That won’t come for free. My work has a price!
– Madam, I promise to give you everything you want if you can make me sing well. I can bring her jewelry, pretty hats, and little glass slippers so she can look pretty every day.
The partridge trusted him.
– Okay, deal done! Come in and sit down. I’m going to find everything I need so that I can sing.
The fox entered the house. She was small but very cute: she had lace tablecloths in the living room, boxes of seeds arranged by size in the pantry and the rooms decorated with little vases full of flowers. Of course the partridge was a lady with very good taste!
In a few minutes, the gracious hostess appeared in the living room with a huge needle and a spool of black thread so thick it looked more like fishing line. The fox made a panicky face.
– But ma’am! What are you going to do?
– Don’t worry, trust me, haven’t you noticed that the animals that sing the best have little mouths? Well that’s what I’m going to do! I will sew his mouth so that it is small like that of a goldfinch. You will see what baritone voice he will have in a little while!
The fox was shaking everything. It took him a long time to be still while the partridge threaded the needle, and why count when he gave him the first prick on the lip.
– Oh! Oh! This hurts!
– Hold on a little, man, you already know that the saying goes that to show off, you have to suffer.
The fox stoically endured the mouth reduction operation, and when it was done, he looked at himself in the mirror. It no longer had a muzzle like a mailbox, but a very cute little pine nut mouth. It even looked much more attractive!
– Let’s see, friend … It is evident that he is more handsome than before. Now let’s see if he can sing better now.
The fox cleared his throat with a few sips of water and began to hum a nice ballad. His voice was sweet and harmonious, capable of making anyone fall in love. In fact, it could be said that it was almost like that of a nightingale. The partridge smiled and looked at him with satisfaction.
– Well, that’s it! Goal accomplished! You already have a beautiful mouth and a beautiful voice like no other. Now, keep your end of the bargain.
The fox, who already had what he wanted, began to deny everything he had promised.
– Me, pay you? With the damage he has done to me! Besides, I haven’t offered him anything.
– How can I not? What about hats, jewelry, and glass slippers? Bad memory you have!
– Look, don’t be angry! Even though my mouth is smaller now, I am still a fox and can eat it at any time!
Hearing those words, the poor partridge was terrified and flew out the window of his little house. The fox, satisfied, went to his very happy with his new appearance.
A couple of days later, the fox was sleeping soundly on a large stone in the road, when the partridge passed by, wanting revenge. He walked over to him and put his beak almost close to his furry ear. He sucked in air, puffing out his chest and gave a very loud cry. The fox was so frightened that he jumped up and opened his mouth wide. All the seams jumped and, from the pull of the thread, it was even bigger than before.
The partridge started laughing in his face and the fox regretted being so ungrateful. Of course, the chances of finding a wife were gone forever and he only got a scar for life.