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Main > Ukrainian folktales > Fairy tale "The Straw Ox"

The Straw Ox

“Dad, dad!” she cried, “look, look! the ox has brought us a bear. Come out and kill it!” Then the old man jumped up, tore off the bear, tied him up, and threw him in the cellar.

Next morning, between dark and dawn, the old woman took her distaff and drove the ox into the steppe to graze. She herself sat down by a mound, began spinning, and said, “Graze, graze away, little ox, while I spin my flax! Graze, graze away, little ox, while I spin my flax!” And while she spun, her head drooped down and she dozed. And, lo! from behind the dark wood, from the back of the huge pines, a grey wolf came rushing out upon the ox and said, “Who are you? Come, tell me!”––“I am a three-year-old heifer, stuffed with straw and trimmed with tar,” said the ox.––“Oh! trimmed with tar, are you? Then give me of your tar to tar my sides, that the dogs and the sons of dogs tear me not!”––“Take some,” said the ox. And with that the wolf fell upon him and tried to tear the tar off. He tugged and tugged, and tore with his teeth, but could get none off. Then he tried to let go, and couldn’t; tug and worry as he might, it was no good. When the old woman woke, there was no heifer in sight. “Maybe my heifer has gone home!” she cried; “I’ll go home and see.” When she got there she was astonished, for by the palings stood the ox with the wolf still tugging at it. She ran and told her old man, and her old man came and threw the wolf into the cellar also.

On the third day the old woman again drove her ox into the pastures to graze, and sat down by a mound and dozed off. Then a fox came running up. “Who are you?” it asked the ox.––“I’m a three-year-old heifer, stuffed with straw and daubed with tar.”––“Then give me some of your tar to smear my sides with, when those dogs and sons of dogs tear my hide!”––“Take some,” said the ox. Then the fox fastened her teeth in him and couldn’t draw them out again. The old woman told her old man, and he took and cast the fox into the cellar in the same way. And after that they caught Pussy Swift-foot (the hare) likewise.

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