Eat Me When I'm Fatter

folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 122F
translated and/or edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2000-2008


  1. The Sheep, the Lamb, the Wolf, and the Hare (Tibet).

  2. The Lambikin (India).

  3. The Fisher and the Little Fish (Aesop).

  4. The Dog and the Wolf (Bohemia).

  5. Mr. Hawk and Brother Rabbit (African-America).

  6. Related links.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

The Sheep, the Lamb, the Wolf, and the Hare


Once upon a time there lived an old sheep in a low-lying valley of Tibet, and every year she, with her lamb, were in the habit of leaving the valley during the early months of summer, and going up on to the great northern plateau, where grass is plentiful, and where many sheep and goats graze throughout the summer. One spring the sheep, in accordance with her annual custom, set out for the north, and one day, as she was strolling sedately along the path, while her little lamb skipped about beside her, she suddenly came face to face with a large, fierce-looking wolf.

"Good morning, Aunty Sheep," said the wolf; "where are you going to?"

"Oh! Uncle Wolf," replied the trembling sheep, "we are doing no harm; I am just taking my lamb to graze on the rich grass of the great northern plateau."

" Well," said the wolf, " I am really very sorry for you; but the fact is, I am hungry, and it will be necessary for me to eat you both on the spot."

"Please, please, Uncle Wolf, don't do that," replied the sheep. "Please don't eat us now; but if you will wait till the autumn, when we shall both be very much fatter than we are now, you can eat us with much more benefit to yourself on our return journey."

The wolf thought this was a good idea. "Very well, Aunty Sheep," said he, "that is a bargain. I will spare your lives now, but only on condition that you meet me at this very spot on your return journey from the north in the autumn."

So saying, he galloped off, and the sheep and the lamb continued on their way towards the north, and soon forgot all about their encounter with the wolf. All the summer they grazed about on the succulent grass of the great plateau, and when autumn was approaching both were as fat as fat could be, and the little lamb had grown into a fine young sheep.

When the time came for returning to the south, the sheep remembered her bargain with the wolf, and every day as they drew farther and farther south she grew more and more downhearted. One day, as they were approaching the place where they had met the wolf, it chanced that a hare came hopping along the road towards them.

The hare stopped to say good morning to the sheep, and noticing that she was looking very sad, he said, "Good-morning, Sister Sheep, how is it that you, who are so fat and have so fine a lamb, are looking so sad this morning?"

"Oh! Brother Hare," replied the sheep, "mine is a very sad story. The fact is that last spring, as I and my lamb were coming up this very road, we met an ugly- looking wolf, who said he was going to eat us; but I begged him to spare our lives, explaining to him that we should both be much larger and fatter in the autumn, and that he would get much better value from us if he waited till then. The wolf agreed to this, and said that we must meet him at the same spot in the autumn. We are now very near the appointed place, and I very much fear that in another day or two we shall both be killed by the wolf." So saying, the poor sheep broke down altogether and burst into tears.

"Dear me! Dear me!" replied the hare. "This is indeed a sad story; but cheer up, Sister Sheep, you may leave it to me, and I think I can answer for it that I know how to manage the wolf."

So saying, the hare made the following arrangements. He dressed himself up in his very best clothes, in a new robe of woolen cloth, with a long earring in his left ear, and a fashionable hat on his head, and strapped a small saddle on to the back of the sheep. He then prepared two small bundles, which he slung across the lamb, and tied them on with a rope. When these preparations were complete, he took a large sheet of paper in his hand, and, with a pen thrust behind his ear, he mounted upon the back of the sheep, and the little procession started off down the path.

Soon after, they arrived at the place where they were to meet the wolf, and sure enough there was the wolf waiting for them at the appointed spot.

As soon as they came within earshot of where the wolf was standing the hare called out in a sharp tone of authority, "Who are you, and what are you doing there?"

"I am the wolf," was the reply; " and I have come here to eat this sheep and its lamb, in accordance with a regular arrangement. Who may you be, pray?"

"I am Lomden, the hare," that animal replied, "and I have been deputed to India on a special mission by the Emperor of China. And, by the way, I have a commission to bring ten wolf skins as a present to the King of India. What a fortunate thing it is that I should have met you here! Your skin will do for one, anyway."

So saying, the hare produced his sheet of paper, and, taking his pen in his hand, he wrote down the figure "1" very large.

The wolf was so frightened on hearing this that he turned tail and fled away ignominiously; while the sheep and the lamb, after thanking the hare heartily for his kind offices, continued their journey safely to their own home.

The Lambikin


Once upon a time there was a wee wee lambikin, who frolicked about on his little tottery legs, and enjoyed himself amazingly.

Now one day he set off to visit his granny, and was jumping with joy to think of all the good things he should get from her, when who should he meet but a jackal, who looked at the tender young morsel and said, "Lambikin! Lambikin! I'll eat YOU!"

But Lambikin only gave a little frisk and said,

To granny's house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.

The jackal thought this reasonable, and let Lambikin pass.

By and by he met a vulture, and the vulture, looking hungrily at the tender morsel before him, said, "Lambikin! Lambikin! I'll eat YOU!"

But Lambikin only gave a little frisk, and said,

To granny's house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.

The vulture thought this reasonable, and let Lambikin pass.

And by and by he met a tiger, and then a wolf, and a dog, and an eagle, and all these, when they saw the tender little morsel, said, "Lambikin! Lambikin! I'll eat YOU!"

But to all of them Lambikin replied, with a little frisk,

To granny's house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.

At last he reached his granny's house, and said, all in a great hurry, "Granny, dear, I've promised to get very fat. So, as people ought to keep their promises, please put me into the corn bin at once."

So his granny said he was a good boy, and put him into the corn bin, and there the greedy little lambikin stayed for seven days, and ate, and ate, and ate, until he could scarcely waddle, and his granny said he was fat enough for anything, and must go home.

But cunning little Lambikin said that would never do, for some animal would be sure to eat him on the way back, he was so plump and tender. "I'll tell you what you must do," said Master Lambikin. "You must make a little drumikin out of the skin of my little brother who died, and then I can sit inside and trundle along nicely, for I'm as tight as a drum myself."

So his granny made a nice little drumikin out of his brother's skin, with the wool inside, and Lambikin curled himself up snug and warm in the middle, and trundled away gaily. Soon he met with the eagle, who called out,

Drumikin! Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin?

And Mr. Lambikin, curled up in his soft warm nest, replied,

Fallen into the fire, and so will you
On little Drumikin. Tum-pa, tum-too!

"How very annoying!" sighed the eagle, thinking regretfully of the tender morsel he had let slip.

Meanwhile Lambikin trundled along, laughing to himself, and singing,

Tum-pa, tum-too;
Tum-pa, tum-too!

Every animal and bird he met asked him the same question,

Drumikin! Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin?

And to each of them the little sly-boots replied,

Fallen into the fire, and so will you
On little Drumikin. Tum-pa, tum-too!
Tum-pa, tum-too; Tum-pa, tum-too!

Then they all sighed to think of the tender little morsel they had let slip.

At last the jackal came limping along, for all his sorry looks as sharp as a needle, and he too called out,

Drumikin! Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin?

And Lambikin, curled up in his snug little nest, replied gaily,

Fallen into the fire, and so will you
On little Drumikin! Tum-pa --

But he never got any further, for the jackal recognized his voice at once, and cried, "Hullo! You've turned yourself inside out, have you? Just you come out of that!" Whereupon he tore open Drumikin and gobbled up Lambikin.

The Fisher and the Little Fish


It happened that a fisher, after fishing all day, caught only a little fish. "Pray, let me go, master," said the fish. "I am much too small for you to eat just now. If you put me back into the river I shall soon grow. Then you can make a fine meal off me."

"Nay, nay, my little fish," said the fisher. "I have you now. I may not catch you hereafter."

A little thing in hand is worth more than a great thing in prospect.

The Dog and the Wolf


Once upon a time there was a peasant family who had a watchdog named Sultan among their household animals. The dog grew old, and, thinking that he could no longer properly attend to to his duties, the peasant chased him away. Dejected and with his head hanging low, the dog left the village, complaining to himself, "So this is my reward for loyalty at a difficult job. After using up my youthful and energetic years at work, they chase me away and grant me no rest now that I am old and weak."

He sadly went his way, wandering aimlessly about for many days without finding any tolerable shelter. Emaciated and weak from his long journey, he came to a forest. A wolf came out of the forest, ran up to the poor dog, and cried, "Stop, old fellow! Beware, you are now in my power."

Hearing the wolf speak in this manner, the frightened old Sultan said, "Dear friend, just take a good look at me, and your appetite for me will disappear. I would make the worst roast you have ever had, for I am nothing but skin and bones. But I do have some advice for you."

The wolf said, "I don't need any advice from you, you miserable creature. I know what you will say even before you speak, namely that I should let you live. No, I won't change my mind. The long and the short of it is that I am going to eat you."

To this the dog answered, "I wouldn't think of asking that of you, for I do not want to live any longer. Bite away as long as you want to. But I still have good advice for you. Wouldn't it be better to fatten me up before eating me? You wouldn't loose anything on the feed, because you would get it all back on me. Then I'd make a decent roast. What do you think, Brother Wolf?"

The wolf spoke, "I'll do it, if the feeding doesn't take too long. Follow me to my hut."

The dog did this, and together they went deeper into the woods. Arriving at the hut, Sultan crept inside, while the wolf went forth to hunt some game for the weak dog. When he returned, he threw his capture to Sultan, who ate it with relish.

The next day the wolf came and spoke to the dog, "Yesterday you ate. Today I will eat."

The dog replied, "What are you thinking of, dear wolf? I scarcely felt yesterday's food in my stomach."

To be sure, this irritated the wolf, but he had to be happy with going into the woods again to hunt game for the dog. With similar responses, our Sultan put off the wolf as long as he was not strong enough to take on the wolf. The wolf continued to hunt and to bring the dog whatever he captured, eating little or nothing himself so that Sultan would have enough. Thus the dog grew ever stronger, while the opposite was true for the wolf.

On the sixth day the wolf came to the dog and spoke, "I believe that you are ready now."

Sultan answered, "Yes indeed. To be sure, I feel so well that I will take you on unless you set me free."

The wolf spoke, "You are joking! Just think, I have been feeding you for six days now, while eating nothing myself. Now am I to go away with nothing? That will never do!"

To this Sultan responded, "You are partially right, but does that give you the right to eat me up?"

"That is the right of the strong over the weak," answered the wolf.

"Right on!" replied the dog. "And thus you have pronounced judgment on yourself." With these words he made a daring leap, and before the wolf knew it, he was lying on the ground, overpowered by Sultan.

"Because you allowed me to live, I will not kill you immediately, but rather submit your life to fate. Choose two companions, and I will do the same. Tomorrow come to this place in the woods with them, and we will settle our dispute."

The two separated to seek out their fellow warriors. Angrily, the wolf went deeper into the woods. The dog hurried to the nearest village. After much pleading, the wolf got an ill-tempered, grumbling bear and a sly fox to be his comrades.

Our Sultan ran first to the parsonage, where he talked a large gray cat into going with him. Then he went to the town judge's barnyard where he found a brave rooster as a second fellow warrior.

It was just getting light, and the dog was already underway with his two companions. They had what they needed. He might even surprise his enemies while they were still deep in sleep.

The wolf was the first one to awaken. He woke his comrades, then said to the bear, "You can climb trees, can't you? Be so good as to climb that tall fir tree and see if you can't get a glimpse of our enemies."

The bear did this, and from the top of the tree he cried down, "Flee! Our enemies are very near, and what powerful enemies they are! One of them is riding proudly along, carrying many sharp sables. They glisten strongly in the morning sun. Another one is walking stealthily after him, pulling a long iron rod behind. Woe unto us!"

The fox was so frightened at these words, that he decided it would be advisable to make himself scarce. The bear hurriedly climbed down from the tree and crept into some thick brush, so that only the tip of his tail was showing.

The enemy was now at hand. The wolf, seeing that his friends had deserted him, tried to get away, but Sultan confronted him. One leap, and the dog had the wolf by the back of his neck, and he finished him off. Meanwhile, the cat noticed the tip of the bear's tail moving in the brush. Hoping to catch a mouse, she snapped at it. Terrified, the bear jumped from his hiding place and fled in all haste up a tree, where he thought he would be safe from the enemy.

But he was wrong, because the rooster was there as well. Seeing the bear in the tree, the rooster jumped from one branch to the next, always going higher and higher. The bear was beside himself. Terrified, he fell from the tree and lay there stone dead. And thus the battle ended.

The news of the brave deeds of Sultan and his companions spread far and wide, also to the village where Sultan had formerly served. As a consequence, the peasant family took back their loyal watchdog and cared for him.

Mr. Hawk and Brother Rabbit

African-America (Joel Chandler Harris)

One time Brer Rabbit was going along through the bushes singing to himself, and he saw a shadow pass before him. He looked up, and there was Mr. Hawk sailing around and around. Every time he sailed around, he got a little closer, but Brer Rabbit didn't notice this, and by and by, down he dropped right slam-bang on Brer Rabbit, and there he had him. He held him in a mighty tight grip. He held him so tight that it made Brer Rabbit's breath come short like it does off a long journey.

He hollered and he begged, but that didn't do any good. He squalled and he cried, but that didn't do any good. He kicked and he groaned, but that didn't do any good. Then Brer Rabbit lay still and studied about what in the name of goodness he was going to do. By and by he up and allowed, "I don't know what you want with me, Mr. Hawk. I am scarcely a mouthful for you."

Mr. Hawk, he said, "I'll do away with you, and then I'll go catch me a couple of jay-birds."

This made Brer Rabbit shake all over, because if there was any kind of creature that he despised on the topside of the earth, it was a jay-bird. Brer Rabbit, he said, "Do pray, Mr. Hawk, go catch those jay-birds first, because I can't stand them being on top of me. I'll stay right here until you come back," he said.

Mr. Hawk, he said, "Oh-oh, Brer Rabbit, you've been fooling too many folks. You're not fooling me," he said.

Brer Rabbit, he said, "If you can't do that, Mr. Hawk, then the best thing for you to do is to wait and let me get tame, because I am so wild now that I won't taste good."

Mr. Hawk, he said, "Oh-oh!"

Brer Rabbit, he said, "Well then, if that won't do, you had better wait and let me grow big, so I'll be a full meal of vittles."

Mr. Hawk, he said, "Now you are talking sense!"

Brer Rabbit, he said, "And I'll rush around among the bushes and drive out some partridges for you, and we'll have more fun than what you can shake a stick at."

Mr. Hawk was sort of studying about this, and Brer Rabbit, he begged, and he explained, and the long and short of it was that Brer Rabbit got loose, and he did not get any bigger, and neither did he drive out any partridges for Mr. Hawk.

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Revised December 4, 2008.