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Straw ox.

By R. NESBIT BAIN
From The Book of Stories for the Storyteller by Fanny E. Coe.

Start of Story

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 PussySwift the hare likewise. 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 woman."



"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, as to 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 nice 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 someone 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 again than there was another _Durrrrr!_ at the door. The old man looked out and saw the wolf driving a whole flock of sheep into the courtyard. Close on his heels came the fox, driving before him geese and hens, and all manner of fowls; and last of all came the hare, bringing cabbage and kale, and all manner of good food. And the old man was glad, and the old woman was glad. And the old man sold the sheep and oxen, and got so rich that he needed nothing more. As for the straw-stuffed ox, it stood in the sun till it fell to pieces.

       



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