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160 Daughter and Stepdaughter 98. A peasant widower with a daughter married a widow, also with a daughter , and so they had these two stepdaughters. The stepmother was filled with hate and gave no rest to the old man:“Take your daughter into the forest to a lean-to! She’ll spin more there.” What was to be done? The peasant heeded his wife, took his daughter to the lean-to, and gave her a flint and steel, some tinder, and a little bag of groats. And he said,“Here’s for a fire. Don’t let it go out. Make yourself some porridge and sit there and spin—and keep the hut door to.” Night came. The girl lit the stove and made some porridge. Out of nowhere, a little mouse came and said,“Miss, Miss, give me a tiny spoonful of porridge.”“Oh, you dear little mouse! Talk away my loneliness, and I’ll give you not just one spoonful; I’ll feed you until you’re full.” The little mouse ate as much as it wanted and went away. Then in the night a bear broke in. “Well, then, Miss, put out the fire, and let’s play blind man’s buff.” The little mouse ran up onto the girl’s shoulder and whispered in her ear,“Don’t be afraid, Miss! Say‘Let’s,’ and then put out the fire and crawl beneath the stove, and I’ll run around ringing a little bell.”And that’s what happened. The bear ran after the mouse, but couldn’t catch it. It started roaring and throwing fire logs about. It tossed them and tossed them, but they all missed. The bear grew tired and muttered,“You’re some expert at this blind man’s bluff, and for that in the morning I’ll send you a herd of horses and a cartload of fine things!” The next morning the wife said,“Ride out, old man, and find out from your daughter how much did she manage to spin in a night.” The old man rode off, and the woman sat there waiting. Likely he’d bring back his daughter’s bones! But then the dog went,“Arf-arf-arf! The daughter will be coming with the old man, driving a herd of horses, bringing a cartload of fine things.”“You’re lying, you fibber! That’s the bones rumbling about in the basket.” So then the gates squeaked and the horses ran into the yard, and the daughter and her father were sitting in the cart. The cart was full of fine things! In her greed the woman’s eyes just burned.“Oh, what pretentiousness!” she shouted.“Take my daughter into the woods Daughter and Stepdaughter h 161 for the night. My daughter will bring back two herds of horses, and bring in two cartloads of fine things.” So the peasant took his wife’s daughter to the lean-to and equipped her with some food and fire. Towards evening, she made some porridge. Out came the little mouse and asked Natashka for some. But Natashka shouted,“Yuck! What filth!” and she threw a spoon at it. The mouse ran away. Natashka gobbled up all the porridge by herself, put out the fire, and curled up in a corner. Midnight came, and the bear broke in and said,“Hey, where are you, miss? Let’s play blind man’s bluff.” The girl was silent, only her teeth chattered from fright.“Oh, here’s where you are! Here, take this little bell and run, and I’ll try to catch you.” She took the bell, her hand trembled, the bell ran out unceasingly, and the little mouse called out,“That nasty girl shall not live!” The next morning, the woman sent the old man into the woods:“Go on, my daughter will be bringing back two cartloads and two herds.” The peasant went off, and the woman sat down by the gates to wait. Then the dog piped up:“Arf-arf-arf! The mistress’s daughter is coming. Those are her bones rattling in the basket, and the old man is sitting in an empty cart.” “You’re lying, you fibber! My daughter is driving up a herd and bringing carts.” But look: The old man handed his wife the basket at the gates. The woman opened up the basket and looked at the bones and began wailing, and then she got so angry that from her grief...


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