A mouse was on her way she knew not where one day when all of a sudden she met a deer.
"Where do you come from and where are you going, friend?" she asked.
The deer raised his head.
"Can't you see?" said he. "I am going after my own four legs."
"Oh, so then you don't know where you are going any more than I do where I am. Let's go together!" the mouse said.
So on they went together.
The deer broke into a run, and so fast did he go that it was all the mouse could do to keep up with him.
Whether a long time passed or not, nobody knows, but the deer kept losing sight of the mouse, who would often fall behind him, and only finding her again when she let out a squeak.
"Ah, my friend, my good friend, there you are!" he would say.
This happened several times until at last the mouse spoke up.
"I'm tired of running after you, deer," said she. "Let's play hide-and-seek for a change!"
It was as if the deer had been waiting for these words.
"Good idea. Let's!" he cried.
"Which of us will hide first?" the mouse asked.
"You are much smaller than I, so I will," the deer replied. "Don't look now!"
"All right!" agreed the mouse, but instead of closing her eyes and turning away, she darted into a mouse hole.
The deer ran off a little way and lay down in a hollow.
The mouse sprang out of the hole and began looking for him, she looked and she looked till she was quite worn out, but find him she could not.
"I'll get the better of that giant of a deer by cunning!" said she to herself, and she shouted at the top of her voice:
"Hey there, deer, don't you know how to hide? Your antlers are showing!"
"My, how silly of me not to have hidden my antlers!" thought the deer.
He left the hollow and came towards the mouse.
"Now it's my turn to hide!" said the mouse.
But of course, being a mouse, she could not go very far, so she hid herself at the deer's very feet.
The deer looked here and he looked there, he looked for a long time, but he could not find her. Feeling hungry and spent, he began nibbling at the moss under his feet, and he swallowed the mouse together with the moss.
After a time, when he had had his fill, the deer lay down for a rest. But the mouse gnawed a little hole in his side between two of his ribs and slipped out.
"You are big but foolish, my friend," said she. "I who am so much smaller than you have proved to be the stronger. There's enough of you here to feed my children and the children of my children."
The mouse wanted to skin the deer, but so thick and furry was his hide that try as she would she could not.
So what did she do but call a sea gull.
''Sea gull, sea gul!" she cried. "I have killed a deer. Come and skin him for me."
The sea gull came flying. He tried to skin the deer but could not.
So what did the mouse do but call a raven.
"Raven, raven!" she cried. "I have killed a deer. Come and skin him for me."
The raven came flying up. He tried to skin the deer and only plucked out his eyes.
"Who will skin the deer for me, I wonder?" though the mouse.
She looked, and there running towards her came a fox and a wolf.
Seeing the deer, they stopped.
"Good for you, mouse!" the fox cried. "That is a fine, meaty deer by the looks of him. But you must be tired. Why don't you take a nap? The wolf and I will skin the deer and wake you as soon as we're done."
The mouse, taken in by the fox's friendly words, laid her head on her front paws and fell fast asleep.
She was wakened by the fox.
"Get up, mouse!" she called. "Your deer is all skinned. Time to eat!"
Up sprang the mouse and ran to the spot where she had left the deer. Alas! Nothing was let of him but his antlers and hoofs, and as for the fox and the wolf, they were gone without a trace.
The mouse was very angry, but what could she do! She had got the better of the deer, but the fox and the wolf had got the better of her.