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READING-LITERATURE: First Reader by  Harriette Taylor Treadwell and Margaret Free
 Table of Contents  |  Index  | Previous: Wee Robin's Christmas Song  |  Next: The Boy and the Fox

The Straw Ox

A long time ago there was an old man
and an old woman.

They were very poor.

The old man worked in the field.

And the old woman spun flax.


One day the old woman said,

"Daddy, make me a straw ox,
and smear it with tar."


"What is the good of a straw ox?"
said the old man.


"Please make me a straw ox,"
said the old woman.


So the old man made the straw ox,
and he smeared it with tar.


The next morning the old woman drove
the straw ox into the field.

She said, "Graze away, little ox,
while I spin my flax."


She spun her flax a long time.

Then she fell asleep.


Soon a bear came out of the woods.

He ran at the ox and said,
"Who are you? Speak and tell me."


"I am an ox, I am.

I am made of straw
and smeared with tar, I am."


"Oh," said the bear,

"you are made of straw
and smeared with tar, are you?

Give me some straw and tar.

Then I can mend my torn fur."


"You may take some," said the ox.


[Illustration]

The bear ran at the ox.

He began to tear away the tar,
and he stuck fast.

He pulled and pulled, but could not let go.

Then the ox dragged the bear home.


The old woman awoke.

"Where is my ox?" she cried.

"I will go home to see."

So she got up and ran home.

And there stood the ox and the bear.


She ran to the old man.

"Look," she cried,
"the ox has brought us a bear."

The old man threw the bear into the cellar.


The next morning the old woman drove
the ox into the field again.

"Graze away, little ox," she said,
"while I spin my flax."

She spun her flax a long time.

Then she fell asleep.


Soon a wolf came out of the woods.

He ran at the ox and said,
"Who are you? Speak and tell me."


"I am an ox, I am.

I am made of straw
and smeared with tar, I am."


"Oh, you are made of straw

and smeared with tar, are you?"
said the wolf.


"Give me some of your tar.

Then I can smear my coat,
and the dogs can not tear me."


"You may take some," said the ox.


The wolf ran at the ox.

He began to tear away the tar,
and he stuck fast.

He pulled and pulled,
but he could not get away.

Then the ox brought the wolf home.


[Illustration]

The old woman awoke.

"Where is my ox?" she cried.

"I will go home to see."

So she got up and went home,

There stood the ox and the wolf.


She ran to the old man.

"Look," she cried,
"the ox has brought us a wolf."

The old man came out
and threw the wolf into the cellar.


The next morning the old woman caught
a fox in the same way.

And the next morning she caught a hare.

The old man put them into the cellar.


Then he sat down by the cellar door
and began to sharpen his knife.


The bear said,
"Daddy, why do you sharpen your knife?"


[Illustration]

"I am going to take your skin off.

I want a warm jacket for winter,
and the old woman wants a coat."


"Do not take away my skin, Daddy.

Let me go and I will bring you some honey."


"See that you do," said the old man.

And he let the bear go.


Then he sat down again,
and he began to sharpen his knife.


"Why do you sharpen your knife, Daddy?"
said the wolf.


"I am going to take your skin off.

I want a fur cap for winter."


"Do not take away my skin, Daddy.

Let me go, and I will bring you
a flock of sheep."


"See that you do," said the old man,
and he let the wolf go.


Then he sat down again
and began to sharpen his knife.


"Why do you sharpen your knife, Daddy?"
said the fox.


"I am going to take your skin off.

I want a fur collar for winter."


"Do not take away my skin, Daddy.

Let me go and I will bring you
a flock of geese."


"See that you do," said the old man,
and he let the fox go.


Then the old man began to sharpen
his knife again.

The little hare said,

"Daddy, why do you sharpen your knife?"


"I am going to take your skin off.

Little hares have warm fur.

I want some mittens for winter."


"Do not take away my skin, Daddy.

Let me go, and I will bring you
some turnips."

"See that you do," said the old man,
and he let the hare go.


The next morning the old woman said,
"Some one is at the door.

Let us go to see who it is."


[Illustration]

They went to the door.

There stood the bear with the honey.

There stood the wolf with the sheep.

There stood the fox with the geese.

And there stood the hare with the turnips.


Now the old man and the old woman
have all they need.

And the straw ox stands in the sun.


-Russian Folk Tale.