ONE day while the Fox was out walking in the forest he met a stranger.
"Good day," he said. "Who are you?"
"I am Mirri," the stranger said, "a poor unfortunate Cat out of employment. I had service in a decent family but I've had to leave them."
"Did they treat you badly?" the Fox asked.
"No, it wasn't that. They were considerate enough but they kept getting poorer and poorer until finally they hadn't food enough to feed us animals. Then I overheard the master say that soon they'd be forced to eat us and that they'd begin with me. At that I decided it was time for me to run away and here I am."
"My poor Cat," Mikko said, "you've had a cruel experience! Why don't you take service with me?"
"Will I be safe with you?" the Cat asked. "Will you protect me?"
"Will I?" the Fox repeated boastfully. "My dear Mirri, once it becomes known that you are Mikko's servant all the animals will show you a wholesome respect."
"Well then, I'll enter your service," the Cat said.
So the bargain was struck and the Fox at once began to train his new servant.
"Now, Mirri, tell me: what would you do if you suddenly met a Bear?"
"There's just one thing I could do, master: I'd run up a tree."
The Fox laughed.
"You must have more ways than one to meet such a situation! Take me now: there are any of a hundred things that I could do if I met a Bear!"
Just then Osmo, the Bear, ambled softly up behind the Fox. The Cat saw him and instantly flew up a tree. Before the Fox could move Osmo clutched him firmly on the shoulder with his teeth.
"Oh, master, master!" the Cat called down from the tree. "What's this? I with my one way have escaped and you with your hundred are caught!"
But the Fox paid no heed to the Cat. He twisted his head around and looked reproachfully at the Bear.
"Why, Osmo, my dear old friend!" he said, "what in the world do you mean taking hold of me so roughly! Ouch! You're nipping my shoulder, really you are! I don't understand why you're acting this way! Here I've always been such a good friend to you, so faithful, so true, so--"
"What!" rumbled the Bear. "Faithful! True! Oh, you--"
Osmo's feelings overcame him to such an extent that he opened his jaws to roar out freely his denial of the Fox's hypocrisy.
That gave the Fox just the chance he wanted. He jerked quickly away and fled and the Bear was left standing with his mouth wide open.
Later when the Bear had ambled off the Fox returned and called the Cat down from the tree.
"You see, Mirri," he remarked casually, "it wasn't anything at all for me to get the best of the Bear!"
He could see that he had vastly impressed the Cat, so he let the subject drop.
"Come along, Mirri," he said, "it's time for us to go home."