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

The Straw Ox

So when he had got them all safely, the old man sat down on a bench before the cellar and began sharpening a knife. And the bear said to him, “Tell me, daddy, what are you sharpening your knife for?”––“To flay your skin off, that I may make a leather jacket for myself and a pelisse for my old wife.”––“Oh! don’t flay me, daddy dear! Rather let me go, and I’ll bring you a lot of honey.”––“Very well, see you do it,” and he unbound and let the bear go. Then he sat down on the bench and again began sharpening his knife. And the wolf asked him, “Daddy, what are you sharpening your knife for?”––“To flay off your skin, that I may make me a warm cap against the winter.”––“Oh! don’t flay me, daddy dear, and I’ll bring you a whole herd of little sheep.”––“Well, see that you do it,” and he let the wolf go. Then he sat down and began sharpening his knife again. The fox put out her little snout and asked him, “Be so kind, dear daddy, and tell me why you are sharpening your knife!”––“Little foxes,” said the old man, “have nice skins that do capitally for collars and trimmings, and I want to skin you!”––“Oh! don’t take my skin away, daddy dear, and I will bring you hens and geese.”––“Very well, see that you do it!” and he let the fox go. The hare now alone remained, and the old man began sharpening his knife on the hare’s account. “Why do you do that?” asked puss, and he replied, “Little hares have nice little soft warm skins, which will make me gloves and mittens against the winter!”––“Oh! daddy dear! don’t flay me, and I’ll bring you kale and good cauliflower, if only you let me go!” Then he let the hare go also.

Then they went to bed, but very early in the morning, when it was neither dusk nor dawn, there was a noise in the doorway like “Durrrrrr!”––“Daddy!” cried the old woman, “there’s some one scratching at the door, go and see who it is!” The old man went out, and there was the bear carrying a whole hive full of honey. The old man took the honey from the bear, but no sooner did he lie down than again there was another “Durrrrr!

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