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78 The Bear, the Fox, the Gadfly, and the Peasant 48. There lived and dwelt this peasant, and he had a dappled horse. The peasant harnessed it to a cart and set off for the forest to cut wood. He had just got into the forest, when a big bear came up to him. He greeted the peasant and asked,“Tell me, peasant, who dappled your horse? It’s such a speckled and fine one!”“Oh, brother Mishka!” said the peasant,“I colored it that way myself.”“Do you really know how to dapple?”“Who? Me? I’m already such a past master of it. If I wished, I could probably make you more colorful than my horse.” The bear rejoiced.“Be so kind, please! For your work I’ll bring you a whole hive of honey.”“Oh well, all right. But I’d have to tie you up with ropes, you old devil. Otherwise, you wouldn’t lie there when I start dappling you.” The bear agreed. “Wait,” thought the peasant, “I’ll swaddle you.” He took the reins and ropes and wound them round the bear. He wound him so much that the bear began roaring to the whole forest.And the peasant said,“Wait, brother Mishka! Don’t move, it’s time to dapple you.”“Untie me, peasant!” the bear pleaded. “I don’t want to be dappled any more. Please, release me!”“No, you old devil! You asked for it, and that’s how it’s going to be.” The peasant chopped some wood, made a whole heap, and started a hot-hot fire. Then he took his axe and put it right into the fire. When the axe was heated red-hot, the peasant drew it out and began dappling the bear. How the bear sizzled! The bear roared with all its might. He strained and broke all the ropes and reins, and then struck out running through the forest without a backward glance—and how that forest shook. The bear roamed and roamed through the forest until he was exhausted. He wanted to lie down, but he dared not; all his belly and sides were scorched. So he roared and roared!“Just wait until that peasant falls into my clutches, he’ll remember it!’ The next day, the peasant’s wife went out into the field to harvest some rye, and she took with her a crust of bread and a jug of milk. She went to her row, set the jug of milk down to one side, and started in cutting. Then the peasant thought,“I’ll check up on the wife.” He harnessed his horse and was riding up to his strip, when he saw a fox strolling through The Bear, the Fox, the Gadfly, and the Peasant  h 79 the rye. The rascal crept up to the jug of milk and somehow got her entire head in it, and no way could she pull it out. She wandered through the stubble, shaking her head and saying,“I was just joking, jug, that’s enough! . . . Enough of this nonsense. Let me go! . . . Dear little jug! My dearest! Enough of playing the fool, you’ve had your play, and that’s all there is to it!” But she kept on shaking her head. Then while the fox was trying to persuade the jug, the peasant got a piece of wood, went up to the fox, and whacked it on the legs. The fox tore off to one side and hit a stone with its head, and thus broke the jug into tiny pieces. It saw that the peasant was chasing it with the wood, so the fox increased its speed—never mind on three legs, you couldn’t catch it with dogs—and it disappeared into the forest. The peasant returned and began putting the sheaves on the cart. Suddenly , out of nowhere a gadfly lit on his neck and bit him severely. The peasant grabbed at his neck and caught the gadfly.“Well,” he said,“what should I do with you? Wait just a minute and, yes, you’ll remember me!” The peasant took a straw and stuck it up the gadfly’s ass.“Now then, fly as you know best!” The poor gadfly flew off, dragging the straw behind it. “Well,” it thought,“I fell into his hands. I’ve never dragged such a burden about as this, never ever.” So it flew on and on, and it flew into the...


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