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Main > Slavic Folktale > Fairy tale "The Silver Tracks - The Story of the Poor Man Who Befriended a Beggar"

The Silver Tracks - The Story of the Poor Man Who Befriended a Beggar

The two sows were two sisters-in-law who hated each other bitterly. The two bulls and the two rams were neighbors who fought for years and years over the boundary lines of their farms and now they keep on fighting through eternity. The two bitches were two sisters who fought until they died over the inheritance left them by their father. The old man whose hair the oxen eat was a farmer who always pastured his cattle on his neighbors' fields. Now he has his reward. The man at whose eyes the ravens peck was an ungrateful son who mistreated his parents. The man with the awful thirst that can never be quenched was a drunkard, and the one at whose lips the apples turn to ashes was a glutton."

So they talked on together, the Poor Man and the Beggar, until it was late afternoon and the Beggar said:

"And now, dear friend, you will sup with me as I once supped with you."

"Thank you," the Poor Man said, "I will. But let me first go out and see how my donkey is."

"Very well," the Beggar said, "go. But be sure to come back for I shall be waiting for you."

So the Poor Man went out the garden gate and looked for his donkey. But the donkey was gone.

"He must have started home," the Poor Man thought. "I'll hurry and overtake him."

So he started back afoot the way he had come. He went on and on but saw no donkey. He crossed the golden bridge and the silver bridge and the copper bridge and the iron bridge and the stone bridge and last of all the wooden bridge, but still there was no donkey.

"He must have got all the way home," he thought.

When the Poor Man reached his native village things looked different. Houses that he remembered had disappeared and others had taken their places. He couldn't find his own little house at all. He asked the people he met and they knew nothing about it. And they knew nothing about him, either, not even his name. And nobody even knew about his sons. At last he did meet one old man who remembered the family name and who told him that many years before the last of the sons had gone to another village to live.

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