VII. The Fox, the Bear, and the Farmer (1)
A poor farmer went to a field one morning to plough
1 with his two cows; he was too poor to keep oxen. As he drove
1 near the edge of the forest,2 he suddenly heard a great noise
of rustling and crackling 3 and growling. Leaving his plough, he
crept softly to the wood and peeped cautiously 4 through the branches.
There he saw a huge b bear dancing on his hind legs. That struck
the farmer as 6 the funniest sight 7 he had ever seen.
He laughed and laughed until it seemed he could never stop laughing.8
This made the bear very angry.
What do you mean by laughing so at me I" he growled savagely.
The poor farmer was now as much frightened as he had been amused
9 a moment before. He couldn't answer a word.lo
I'll teach you not to laugh at me again," growled the bear. "I
am going to eat you and your two cows."
With these words the bear rushed up to the farmer with
wide open jaws.11
The farmer now found his tongue 12 and cried in terror : 13 "Oh,
please, Mr Bear, I couldn't help laughing!" I really couldn't
! I beg you not to eat me. I promise never, never to laugh at you
No, I think you will not laugh at me again. You will not have the
chance," 15 growled the bear. " I am going to eat you
and your two cows on the spot." 16
The poor farmer now begged with tears in his eyes that the bear
would spare him 17 and his two cows. But it was all in vain.18
The more he begged, the more fiercely 19 the bear declared 20 that
he should be eaten.
Finally 21 the farmer said: " Only let me live until the evening,
Mr Bear, so that I can plough and sow 22 this field. Then my family
will not be without bread to eat when winter comes."
The bear consented 23 and went back into the forest, while the
farmer returned with a heavy heart 24 to his ploughing.
Towards noon 25 a fox passed that way.26
Why are you looking so sad, my poor man ?" asked the fox kindly.
The farmer told him about the bear.
Oh, if that is all," 27 cried the fox cheerfully, " I
can easily help you to save your own life and the lives of your
two cows as well. And besides,28 you shall have the skin 29 of
that bear for a warm rug." 29
But how can that be done, good Mr Fox ?"
What will you give me if I tell you ?"
At first the farmer did not know what to offer. Finally, however,
it was agreed 30 that he should give the fox nine hens and a cock.
1 The farmer ploughs his fields in the autumn. The plough is often
drawn by horses ; the farmer drives the plough. 2 See IV. 29. 3
When we put our foot on a dry branch, it crackles as it breaks.
If we burn dry wood it also makes a crackling noise. 4 Or : with
caution, carefully. bVery big. A huge mountain, a huge building.
6 Or: seemed, appeared to the farmer. 7 sight (that) he 8 Or :
he must go on laughing for ever. 9 It amuses us to see or hear
something funny. 10 He was dumb with fright ; he was so much afraid
that he could give no reply. 11 The mouth has an upper and a lower
jaw. The teeth are in the jaws. When we are much surprised, we
often open our eyes wide. When it is very hot we like the windows
to be wide open. 12 Or : was able to speak again. 13 Or: in great
fear, because the bear looked so terrible. 14 Or: I had to laugh,
it was impossible not to laugh. 15 Or: it will not be possible
for you. 16 Or : at once, immediately. 17 Or : would not take his
life, would let him live. is Or : it was all no good, the bear
would not listen to his words. 19 Savagely. rierce : opp, gentle
20 Said. 21 At last, in the end; " r" is the final letter
of " bear." 22 When the field is ploughed, the farmer
sows the seed. The seed grows, and in the spring it becomes a plant.
He sowed the field; he has sown it. 23 He said: " Very well," or, "It
shall be so," or, "I will not eat you before the evening." a4
opp. with a light heart, cheerfully, gladly. 250r: about midday.
260r: came by. 270r: if it is nothing worse than that. 28 Or: what
is more. 29 The skin of a bear is covered with long hair. We often
use it for rugs, which are put on the floor. We also put them over
our legs, when we are travelling in cold weather. 30 The farmer
said: "I will give so much," and the fox consented to
this, saying: " Yes, that will do." He agreed to help
the farmer if he gave him the ten birds.