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321 The Bear, Moustaches, Mountain Man, and Oakman Bogatyrs 141. In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt an old man and his old woman. They had no children. Once, the old man said,“Old woman, go and buy us a turnip; we’ll eat it for dinner.” The old woman went off, bought two turnips. One of them she sort of gnawed on, and the other she put in the stove to steam. A little while later, they heard something in the stove:“Granny, undo this, it’s hot here!” The old woman undid the latch, and in the stove there lay a live little girl.“What’s that in there?” asked the old man.“Oh, old man! The Lord has given us a little girl.”The old man and old woman rejoiced and called the little girl Repka, the little turnip. So Repka grew and grew and grew into a big girl. Once, some village girls came and asked,“Granny, let Repka come with us to the wood after berries?”“I won’t let her, you little bitches! You’ll leave her in the woods.” “No, Granny, no way would we leave her.” The old woman let Repka go. The girls got ready and went after berries, and they went deep into this dense wood such that you couldn’t see a thing. They looked about, and there stood this little hut in the woods. They entered the hut, and sitting on a pillar was a bear.“Greetings, beautiful maidens!” said the bear.“I’ve been waiting for you for a long time.” He sat them down at the table and gave them some kasha and said,“Eat, you fine little things! The one who doesn’t eat I’ll take as my wife.”All the girls ate their kasha, except Repka didn’t eat. The bear let the girls go home, except for Repka, whom he kept with him. He dragged up the sleigh, attached it to the ceiling, and made her rock him. Repka rocked him while intoning,“Rock-a-bye, you old fart!”“Not like that!” said the bear.“Say: Rock-a-bye, my dear friend!” There was nothing to be done, so she rocked him and said,“Rock-a-bye, my dear friend!” So somehow the bear lived with her nearly a year. Repka was with child, and she thought about how she could find a chance to go away home. Once the bear went to his booty and left her in the hut, and he propped up the door with oak stumps. Repka started clawing her way 322 h The Bear, Moustaches, Mountain Man, and Oakman Bogatyrs out, and with force somehow got out and ran home. The old man and old woman were overjoyed that she’d been found. They lived there a month, then a second and third, and in the fourth Repka gave birth to a son that was half human and half bear. They baptized him and gave him the name Ivashko-Medvedko, Ivan the Little Bear. Ivashko grew not by years, but by hours. Given an hour and he’d be a couple of inches taller. It was as if someone were pulling him up! When he hit fifteen, he began going out with the other boys to play games and perform all sorts of nasty tricks. He’d grab somebody by the arm, and off would come the arm—or the head, and off came the head. The peasants came to complain, and they said to the old man:“Whatever you wish, neighbor, your son can’t stay here! We can’t have our children maimed because of his strength!” The old man was saddened, grief-stricken. “What’s the matter, Grandfather, why are you so unhappy ?” asked Ivashko-Medvedko. “Or has somebody defrauded you?” The old man sighed with difficulty:“Oh, Grandson, you were our breadwinner , but now they’re demanding that I send you out of the village.”“Oh, Grandfather, that’s no great misfortune. The misfortune is that I have no defense. Go and make me an iron club of twenty-five poods.” The old man went off and made him the twenty-five-pood club. Ivashko took his leave of his grandfather and his grandmother, took his club, and went off to wherever his eyes might take him. He went along the road and path, and he came to a river three versts wide. On the banks stood a...


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