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Bearskin

The grizzly bear would have pleased me better who came to see us once, and gave himself out as a man, for he wore a hussar's hat, and had white gloves on besides."

But the youngest daughter said, "Dear father, this must be a good man who has assisted you out of your troubles; if you have promised him a bride for the service your word must be kept"

It was a pity the man's face was covered with dirt and hair, else one would have seen how glad at heart these words made him. Bearskin took a ring off his finger, broke it in two, and, giving the youngest daughter one half, he kept the other for himself. On her half he wrote his name, and on his own he wrote hers, and begged her to preserve it carefully. Thereupon he took leave, saying, "For three years longer I must wander about; if I come back again, then we will celebrate our wedding; but if I do not, you are free, for I shall be dead. But pray to God that he will preserve my life."

When he was gone the poor bride clothed herself in black, and whenever she thought of her bridegroom burst into tears. From her sisters she received nothing but scorn and mocking. "Pay great attention when he shakes your hand," said the eldest, "and you will see his beautiful claws!" "Take care!" said the second, "bears are fond of sweets, and if you please him he will eat you up, perhaps!" "You must mind and do his will," continued the eldest, "or he will begin growling!" And the second daughter said further, "But the wedding will certainly be merry, for bears dance well!" The bride kept silence, and would not be drawn from her purpose by all these taunts; and meanwhile Bearskin wandered about in the world, doing good where he could, and giving liberally to the poor, for which they prayed heartily for him. At length the last day of the seven years approached, and Bearskin went and sat down again on the heath beneath the circle of trees. In a very short time the wind whistled, and the Evil One presently stood before him and looked at him with a vexed face.

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