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Bearskin

here was once upon a time a young fellow who enlisted for a soldier, and became so brave and courageous that he was always in the front ranks when it rained blue beans. As long as the war lasted all went well, but when peace was concluded he received his discharge, and the captain told him he might go where he liked. His parents meanwhile had died, and as he had no longer any home to go to he paid a visit to his brothers, and asked them to give him shelter until war broke out again. His brothers, however, were hard-hearted, and said, "What could we do with you? We could make nothing of you; see to what you have brought yourself"; and so turned a deaf ear. The poor Soldier had nothing but his musket left; so he mounted this on his shoulder and set out on a tramp. By and by he came to a great heath with nothing on it but a circle of trees, under which he sat down, sorrowfully considering his fate. "I have no money," thought he; "I have learnt nothing but soldiering, and now, since peace is concluded, there is no need of me. I see well enough I shall have to starve." All at once he heard a rustling, and as he looked round he perceived a stranger standing before him, dressed in a gray coat, who looked very stately, but had an ugly cloven foot. "I know quite well what you need," said this being; "gold and other possessions you shall have, as much as you can spend; but first I must know whether you are a coward or not, that I may not spend my money foolishly."

"A soldier and a coward!" replied the other, "that cannot be; you may put me to any proof."

"Well, then," replied the stranger, "look behind you."

The Soldier turned and saw a huge bear, which eyed him very ferociously. "Oho!" cried he, "I will tickle your nose for you, that you shall no longer be able to grumble"; and, raising his musket, he shot the bear in the forehead, so that he tumbled in a heap upon the ground, and did not stir afterward. Thereupon the stranger said, "I see quite well that you are not wanting in courage; but there is yet one condition which you must fulfil.

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