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104 The Dog and the Woodpecker 66. This peasant and his wife lived on, not knowing what work was. They had a dog, and the dog fed them and kept them in drink. But time passed, and the dog got old. How could it feed the peasant and his wife? It was itself nearly perishing from hunger.“Listen, old man,” said the wife,“take that dog, lead it out of the village, and chase it away. Let it go where it wants. It’s no longer of any use to us these days! There was a time when it fed us, and we kept it.” So the old man took the dog, led it out of the village, and chased it away. The dog walked around the empty steppe and was afraid to go home: The old man and old woman would beat it, hit it. It walked and walked, and then sat down on the ground and howled in a loud voice. A woodpecker was flying by and asked, “What are you howling about?”“Why should I not howl, woodpecker! I used to be young. I fed and brought drink to the old man and old woman. I got old and they’ve chased me away. I don’t know where to live out my life.”“Come to me, watch over my children, and I’ll feed you.” The dog agreed and ran after the woodpecker. The woodpecker flew into the forest to an old oak, and in that oak was a hollow, and in the hollow was the woodpecker’s nest.“Sit down next to the oak,” said the woodpecker,“and don’t let anybody up close. I’ll fly off to search for food.” The dog settled down next to the oak, and the woodpecker flew off. It flew and flew, and then it saw some women coming along the road with pots, carrying them to the field for their husbands’ dinner. It headed back to the oak, flew up, and said, “Well, dog, come along behind me. Some women are carrying pots to the field for their husbands’ dinner. You get behind a bush, and I’ll dip into the water and roll about in the sand and flutter along the road in front of the women, as if I can’t fly any higher. They’ll try to catch me and put their pots down on the ground and go after me. Then you quickly rush to those pots and eat your fill.” The dog ran after the woodpecker and went behind a bush, as he’d been told. The woodpecker rolled about in the sand and began fluttering about in the road in front of the women.“Look,” the women said,“that woodpecker is all wet. Let’s catch it.” They left their pots on the ground The Dog and the Woodpecker h 105 and went after the woodpecker, but it went farther and farther away from them. It led them off to the side, then rose up and flew away. And meanwhile , the dog ran out from behind the bush and ate everything that was in the pots and then went away. The women returned and saw that their pots were empty. There was nothing for them to do; they took their pots and went home. The woodpecker caught up to the dog and asked, “Well, have you eaten enough?”“I have,” answered the dog. “Then let’s go home.” So the woodpecker flew, and the dog ran. On the way, they chanced to meet a fox.“Catch that fox,” said the woodpecker. The dog rushed at the fox, and the fox tore out of there with all its might. It happened that just at that time a peasant was riding along with a barrel of tar. That fox dashed across the road and right toward the cart, and hopped through the spokes of the wheel. The dog was right after it, but got caught in the wheel, and there it gave up the ghost. “Well, peasant,” said the woodpecker, “since you’ve killed my dog, I shall cause you a great misfortune!” It perched in the cart and started drilling a hole in the barrel, banging away at its bottom. The peasant had no sooner driven it away from his barrel, than the woodpecker went after the horse, and then again to the barrel. It drilled a hole in the barrel and let out all the tar. Then it said,“That’s...


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