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119 The Greedy Old Woman 76. There lived an old man and an old woman. Once he went into the forest to chop wood. He sought out an old tree, raised his axe and was about to chop. The tree said to him,“Don’t chop me, peasant! Whatever you need, I’ll do it all.”“Well, make me rich.”“All right, go home and you will have more than enough of everything.” The old man returned home—a new hut, just like a full cup. He had scads of money, even grain for decades, and as to cows, horses, and sheep—you couldn’t count them in three days! “Oh, old man, where’s all this come from?” asked the old woman. “Well you see, wife, I found this tree, and whatever you wish for, it will do it.” They went on living there for about a month. The rich life got to bore the old woman, and she said to the old man,“Even though we are living well, what’s the point of it if people don’t respect us! If the bailiff wishes, he can force both you and me to go to work—and quarrel and he’ll punish us with sticks. Go to that tree and ask that you be made bailiff.”So the old man took his axe, went to the tree, and prepared to chop it at the very roots.“What do you need,” asked the tree.“Make me a bailiff.”“Very well, now go with God.” He went back home, and soldiers had already long since been waiting : “Where have you been out loafing around, you old devil? Give us our quarters and be quick about it, and make sure they’re nice ones too. Well, get on with it!” And they beat him with their broadswords about his back. The old woman saw that not even a bailiff always receives the honor due him, and she said to the old man,“What’s the gain of being a bailiff ’s wife? See how the soldiers beat you, but there’s nothing to be said for being a landowner. Whatever he wants, he does. Go to that tree and ask it to make you a landowner and me a landowner’s lady.” So the old man took his axe, went to the tree, and got ready once more to chop. The tree asked,“What do you need, old man?”“Make me a landowner and the old woman a lady.”“Very well, go with God.” The old woman lived a while as a lady, but she wanted more, and she said to the old man,“What’s the gain of being a lady! If you were a colonel, and I a colonel’s wife, that would be a different matter, everyone would envy us.” 120 h The Greedy Old Woman She chased the old man off once more to the tree. He took his axe, came there, and got ready to chop. The tree asked him, “What do you require?”“Make me a colonel and the old woman a colonel’s wife.”“Very well, go with God!” So the old man returned home, and they made him a colonel. Some time passed, and the old woman said to him,“Is being a colonel such a great thing? If a general wants, he can put someone under arrest. Go to your tree and ask that you be made a general, and me a general’s wife.” So the old man went to the tree and got ready to chop with his axe. “What do you require?” asked the tree.“Make me a general and the old woman a general’s wife.”“Very well, go with God!” So the old man went home, and they promoted him to general. Again some time passed, and the old woman got bored with being a general’s wife. She said to the old man, “Is being a general such a great thing? If the sovereign wishes, he can send you to Siberia. Go to your tree and ask to be made tsar, and me tsaritsa.” So the old man went to the tree and was ready to chop with his axe. “What do you require?” asked the tree.“Make me tsar and the old woman tsaritsa.”“Very well, go with God.” The old man returned home, and some messengers came for him: “The sovereign has died and you have been chosen in his place.” The old man...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781626740549
Related ISBN
9781628460933
MARC Record
OCLC
878813021
Pages
560
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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