The summer had been very hot. Not a drop of rain had fallen for many weeks, and there was drought in the valley where the animals lived. The streams had dried up and the springs had ceased to flow. The fox took up his pipe and went out to take a walk under the lime-trees to think things over. There he met the she-goat.
“Good morning,” he said.
She answered: “Alas! I don’t know what we are to do to get water. We have finished all the water we had in the barrel, and unless we can find some more very quickly I and my children will die of thirst.”
The fox said: “And I am so dry that my tongue is sticking to the roof of my mouth. I cannot even smoke my pipe with pleasure. What do you say to searching for water together? Four eyes are better than two, any day in the week.”
“Agreed,” said the goat, and away they started together. For a long time they looked everywhere, but not a trace of water could they find. Then all of a sudden the goat gave a cry of joy. Running up to her, the fox saw that she had found a well and was standing on the brink of it, gazing at the cool water far below.
“Hurrah!” cried the fox.
The goat answered: “The water is far down. How are we to get at it!”
“Leave that to me,” said the fox. “I know a thing about wells. What you have to do is to get into the bucket which is hanging by the rope and glide down as smoothly and as safely as you please. I’ll go first, just to show you the way.”
So the fox got into the bucket, and the weight of him made it go downward while the empty bucket at the other end of the rope rose to the top of the well. A minute afterwards he was at the bottom, leaning over the side of the pail and greedily lapping up the water. Nothing had ever tasted so delicious. He drank and drank until he could hold no more.
“Is it good?” cried the goat from above, dancing with impatience.
“It is like the purest nectar!” answered the fox. “Get into the bucket quickly and come down and join me.”
So the goat stepped into the bucket, which at once began to go downward with her weight, while at the same time the bucket with the fox in it began to rise to the surface. The two met half-way.
“How is this?” asked the she-goat in surprise. “I thought you were going to wait for me!”
“Ah,” answered the fox with a grin, “what do I care! Some go up and some go down. I hope you will enjoy your drink, Good-bye!”
And as soon as he got to the top he jumped out of the bucket and ran off.
The poor she-goat had to stay there at the bottom of the well until the farmer came and found her, half dead with cold. And when at last she was rescued she found that the farmer put her into the fold with his own sheep and goats. She was not free to go home to her kids.