One fine autumn day, the collector of fairytales, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, is walking up the mountainside. He is headed up to where he knows the dairymaid Gurine is staying at a small stone cabin together with her granddaughter. Gurine is a mine of fairytales and old legends, and along the way, Asbjørnsen is treated to the tale of the Fox's Widow.
A fair widowed vixen once lived deep in the woods with her maid, the feline Korse. Some time after her husband had passed away, suitors began to call.
The first to try his luck was the wolf. On the way he met an old woman who had got her long nose caught in a tree stump. She had stood there for a hundred years or more, and now begged the wolf for help. But the wolf didn't care, he had other business for he was going to the Fox's Widow to ask for her hand. Some way on, he met a hare who was so happy because he had got him a wife and a fine house. But the wolf paid no heed, and chased the hare with a mind to eat him.
Right in front of the Fox's house, the hare stumbled and begged for his life. The wolf played kind and pretended to help him back on his feet - wanting to make a good impression if the Fox's Widow had seen him. He knocked at the door and Korse the maid opened. The Fox's Widow asked who was knocking at the door. Korse, who had seen the episode outside, didn't care for the wolf at all, and said it was someone she shouldn't trust. So the wolf is rejected and the door slammed in his face.
The next suitor was the bear, a mighty beast of the forest. He did just like the wolf. He came upon the old woman and the hare and was just as unkind, and when Korse described the suitor to the Fox's Widow, well then he too was shown the door.
The last suitor to come a-courting was a poor and humble fox. A kind-hearted soul, he helped the old woman out of the tree stump, and gave her the last of the food from his knapsack. The old woman used her magic to give him a new, gleaming pelt, and poured cream over the end of his tail which then turned white. Along the way he also met the happy hare, and listened kindly to his joyful story.
Korse was delighted to see the fine figure of a fox arriving. She opened the door and gave him the warmest recommendation. And so finally, the Fox's Widow got the one she wanted. Asbjørnsen thanked the dairymaid for the tale and her hospitality, picked up his knapsack and gun and continued on his travels.