Once upon a time there lived an Old Man and an Old Woman. The Old Man went out to work and made tar for a living, and the Old Woman stayed home spinning tow. But the little they earned all went on food, and they had nothing at all to their name.
Now, the Old Woman began to fret and to worry and she said to the Old Man:
"Do make me a little bull of straw, Old Man, and smear him with tar."
"What's come over you, you silly Old Woman, what do you want with a straw bull?"
"I know what I want, just you make me one."
There was nothing to be done, so the Old Man made a little bull of straw and smeared his back and sides over with tar. Night came, and in the morning the Old Woman led the Little Straw Bull out to pasture and she took her spinning with her.
She sat down on a hillside and she spun her thread and said:
"Graze, graze, Little Bull, while I spin my thread! Graze, graze, Little Bull, while I spin my thread!"
And she spun and she spun till at last she dozed off.
All of a sudden who should come running out of the great dark forest but a Bear! He lumbered straight up to the Bull and said:
"Do tell me who you are!"
"I am the Little Straw Bull with the Tarred Back."
"Give me a little tar, Straw Bull, for my side is torn and perhaps it will heal faster if I put some tar on it."
But the Straw Bull just stood there and made no reply.
So then the Bear began clawing at the Straw Bull's back and side to get some tar off, and there he was stuck fast. He tugged and he pulled, and before he knew it he had pulled the Bull from the spot and out of sight.
The Old Woman woke up, she looked about her, and there was no sign of the Bull anywhere.
"Dear me, what a terrible thing to have happened!" she cried. "Where is my Bull? Perhaps he has gone home."
She lifted her distaff, put it over her shoulder and went home in great haste. Her way lay through the forest, and she had only walked a short distance when lo and behold! ? there was the Bull standing where the Bear had dragged him.
The Old Woman ran home and she cried at the top of her voice:
"Old Man, Old Man, the Straw Bull has caught a Bear. Come quickly and kill him!"
The Old Man came running, he pulled the Bear free and threw him into the cellar.
On the following day, at the first glimpse of dawn, the Old Woman k the Straw Bull out to pasture again and she took her spinning with he She sat down on a hillside and she spun her thread and said:
"Graze, graze, Little Bull, while I spin my thread' Graze, graze, Litt Bull, while I spin my thread'"
And she spun and she spun till at last she dozed off.
All of a sudden who should come running out of the great dark. fore but a Wolf' He saw the Bull and said:
'Do tell me who you are'"
'I am the Little Straw Bull with the Tarred Back!" the Bull replied-
'Well, then, let me have some tar, for the dogs have torn my side!"
The Wolf caught at the Straw Bull's side with his teeth and beg trying to get some of the tar off. He tried very, very hard, but befc he knew it there he was stuck fast and unable to get his teeth out! he pulled and he pulled till he had pulled the Straw Bull from the spot a out of sight.
The Old Woman woke up, she looked about her, and there was no) sign of the Little Straw Bull anywhere!"
"Perhaps he has gone home," said she to herself, and off she w< home.
But she had not gone very far before she saw the Bull being drag^ along by the Wolf. So she ran home and told the Old Man about it. c the Old Man came and seized the Wolf and threw him into the cellar.
On the third day the Old Woman took the Little Bull out to past' again. She sat down on the hillside and dozed off.
By and by a Fox came running up and she saw the Straw Bull and asl him who he was.
'I am the Little Straw Bull with the Tarred Back," the Little Bull plied.
"Well, then, do be a dear and let me have some tar to put on my s:
The dogs have nearly taken the hide off me!"
The Fox tried to take some of the tar and she too was stuck fasi the Bull's side and, try as she would, could not get free.
The Old Woman woke, she called the Old Man, and the Old Man th the Fox into the cellar.
And on the next day they caught a Rabbit in the same way and th him into the cellar too.
So now there were four of them there, and the Old Man sat down on the trap door and began sharpening his knife.
"Why do you sharpen your knife, Old Man?" the Bear asked.
"Because I mean to skin you and make coats for myself and my Old Woman."
"Don't do that, Old Man! Let me go free, and I will bring you lots and lots of honey."
All right, then, see that you do!"
And with that the Old Man let the Bear go free.
Then he seated himself on the trap door again and began sharpening his knife.
"Why do you sharpen your knife. Old Man?" the Wolf asked.
'I am going to skin you and make a warm hat for myself for the winter."
"Don't do that, Old Man. Let me go free, and I will bring you a whole herd of sheep.'
"Well, then, see that you do!"
And he let the Wolf go free and began sharpening his knife again.
The Fox heard him and she pushed up the trap door with her head.
"Please, Old Man, do be a dear and tell me why you are sharpening your knife," she said. 'I am going to skin you, Fox,' the Old Man replied. 'For you have fine fluffy fur that will make a nice collar and trimming for my Old Woman's coat."
'Please don't kill me, Old Man! Let me go free, and I will bring you some chickens and geese.
"All right, then, see that you do!"
And with that he let the Fox go free.
So now there was only the Rabbit left in the cellar.
The Old Man began sharpening his knife again, and when the Rabbit asked him why he was doing it he said:
"You have soft, warm fur that will go to make a pair of fine mittens for me and a hat as well."
"Please don't kill me, Old Man! Let me go free, and I'll bring you beads and earrings and ribbons."
So the Old Man let the Rabbit go free too.
Night came and passed, and just before dawn had set in or day broken, there came a rap-tap-tap at the door.
"Someone is knocking at the door, Old Man', she cried. "Go and see who it is."
The Old Man opened the door, and there stood the Bear with a whole hive of honey'.
The Old Man took the honey, put it away and had only }ust gone to sleep when suddenly there came a rap-tap-tap at the door again,
The Old Man opened the door, and there stood the Wolf with a whole herd of sheep'. And soon after that the Fox came. bringing chickens and geese and other towl, and after her the Rabbit with a bag full of ribbons and beads and earrings.
The Old Man and the Old Woman were overjoyed. They sold the -sheep and bought themselves a team of oxen, and the Old Man took to carrying other people's wares to market for them. And they became so -rich and had so much money that no one could have asked for more,
And as for the Straw Bull, there was no longer any use for him, and so he stood out in the sun until he melted away.