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Boris Zakhoder

The Wolf Who Sang Songs

The Wolf Who Sang Songs

Translated by Avril Pyman
Illustrated by G.Kalinovky

Once upon a time, in the forest, there lived a grey wolf, enormously fierce. He lived all right, but for everyone else in the neighbourhood life was not worth living.

It was not just that he behaved like a regular brigand, dragging off good and bad alike to his lair: it was the dreadful way he would howl. Other wolves only howl when they’re hungry, but this shaggy old bandit would kill a calf, gorge himself sick on it, and then strike up a song. A wolf, of course, only has the one song:

“I’ll kill you-ou-ou! I’ll eat you-ou-ou!”

So terrifying and repulsive was his howling that all the creatures-except of course, Screech Owl and Tawny Owl - tried everything to stop their ears from it. Yet he seemed to revel in it: he would pause for breath and then strike up the same old song.

“Oo-oo-oooooo! I’ll eat you-ou-ououou!”

The Wolf Who Sang Songs

Well, once he had been howling in this way all night. He howled and howled and only fell silent towards morning when at last he fell asleep. He would have slept all day long, but the sun rose and sent a warm ray to tickle his nose.

Grey Wolf was so sleepy he thought it was a fly and snapped at it! Nothing there - only his teeth clashed together; a second time he snapped... missed again; a third time... and bit his own tongue. By then he was wide awake and Red Fox happened to be passing by, carrying a fat hen.

“Hi, Grey Wolf,” she called. “No more sleep for you! What do you think you’re doing snoring your head off when there’s a flock of sheep grazing in the glade down by the stream and no shepherds or dogs! Over there!” At that Grey Wolf forgot all about sleep.

“Is that trrrue?” he snarled.

But why should Red Fox lie? She knew what she was talking about.

Grey Wolf sped off in the direction she had pointed out and, sure enough, there were the sheep, about a hundred and fifty of them all on their ownsomes...

They saw the wolf, trembled and huddled together in a solid mass. There they stood, poor things, bleating away and expecting every moment to be their last...

Grey Wolf licked his chops. “A-a-a!” he snarled. “Now I’ll eat you all up!”

And he would have, too, only suddenly one sheep stepped out from among the others, bowed to Grey Wolf and said:

“You can eat us any time you like, Sir. But if Your Mercy would be so good.”

“Mercy?” the wolf snarled. ‘What mercy do you ask of Grey Wolf?”

“Well, you see, Sir, it’s like this: we have no one to give us the note when we sing. Don’t take it personally, please, but we enjoy singing, too. We used to have a choir-leader-a ram with a great voice, almost as loud as yours, but they drove him away somewhere. Wouldn’t you help us to get our choir going again? You could always eat us afterwards! It would be no trouble for you: you are such a famous musician, we hear you every night, can’t sleep for listening to you!”

Grey Wolf was most flattered: “Really, you can’t sleep?”

“How could we think of sleeping!” replied the sheep. “We don’t get a wink, Sir, really we don’t!”

“Hm! All right then,” said Grey Wolf. “I don’t see why not. Only mark, you all do as I say, or I’ll do you!”

The Wolf Who Sang Songs

Grey Wolf climbed up onto the stump of a tree and started up his usual song:

“I’ll kill you-ou-ou! I’ll eat you-ou-ou!”

And the sheep, all in chorus, responded:

“M-m-m-misery, m-m-m-e! La-a-ack-a-day de-e-e-e!”

“Wrong!” yelled Grey Wolf. “Less noise from the basses there! Let’s hear the descant!”

And off he went again: “Oo-oo-oo-oo-ooh!”

And the sheep: “Ba-a-a! Ma-a-aa!”

They made such a din that soon they had roused the whole village and people and dogs came running from all sides.

And that was the end of the wolf who sang songs.

The Wolf Who Sang Songs

Author: Zakhoder B.; illustrated by Kalinovky G.

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