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89 The Bear 57. There lived and dwelt this old man and old woman.They had no children. The old woman said to the old man, “Old man, go get some firewood.” The old man went out after the firewood. He chanced to meet a bear, and the bear said,“Old man, let’s wrestle.” The old man went and chopped off the bear’s paw with his axe. Then he went home with the paw and gave it to the old woman:“Cook up the bear’s paw, old woman.” The old woman right away took and skinned it, sat down on it and began feeling the fur, and she put the paw in the stove to cook. The bear howled and howled, thought it through, and then made himself a linden paw. Then he went to the old man on his peg leg and sang: Squeak, leg, Squeak, linden one! And the water sleeps, And the earth sleeps, And they are asleep in the villages, And they are asleep in the hamlets; Only the old woman does not sleep. She’s sitting on my skin, She’s spinning my fur, She’s cooking my meat, She’s drying my skin. Then the old man and old woman got frightened. The old man hid in the rafters beneath a trough, and the old woman on the stove beneath some dirty shirts. The bear came into the hut; the old man groaned under the trough from fear, and the old woman coughed. The bear found them, took them, and ate them. 58. There lived and dwelt this old woman. Her hut stood on the outskirts of the village. Her yard was poorly fenced, but she had plenty of animals: a 90 h The Bear cow and six sheep. In the winter wolves and bears roamed about. A bear chanced to visit the old woman in the nighttime to eat her sheep. It broke down the pickets in the back, ate a sheep, and then ate a second. The old woman started guarding them, and she worked herself into a fury—it was as if night had become day! She took the wool off the sheep that had been slaughtered by the bear and sat up all night spinning. The bear came many times, whenever it felt like eating a sheep, but it didn’t happen! The moment the bear was on the pickets, the old woman was out the door and into the yard. The vexed bear ceased coming in at the rear and crept up beneath the window of the old woman’s hut and sang this song:“Squeak, squeak, fiddle, on a wooden leg! The water sleeps, the land sleeps; only the old granny doesn’t sleep, she’s spinning her wool!” Then the old woman went outside the gates to see who was singing so nicely, and the bear in a flash was back at the pickets. It dragged off a sheep and went off into the forest. In just such a way it dragged off all the sheep. The poor old woman broke up her hut and settled in a corner next to the stove of her brother. They lived there and prospered, gaining wealth and avoiding all ill. ...


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