The Tops and the Roots


Once upon a time in a small Russian village an old peasant was planting different vegetables and spices for living. The man did not own a farm or a land, but instead he used to find for an open field that does not belong to anyone and plant the seeds on it. One spring the old peasant found a good field to plant the turnips. He went there with his horse, cleared it from the tree roots and weeds and planted lots of seeds into the ground. As soon as the peasant finished his hard work, he encountered a bear that was running toward him from the forest. The bear said to the peasant in a human voice, “What are you doing here, peasant? I am going to eat you since you did not ask for my permission to use my field.” The man replied to the bear, “Please do not eat me, bear! In the fall, I will share my harvest with you. You can have whatever grows above the surface leaving for me the roots.”

The bear liked the peasant’s offer and agreed to wait until harvest. In the fall, the peasant came back on the field to pick up his harvest. The bear heard his horse and also rushed to the field to get his share. As agreed, the peasant took all of the roots, leaving the tops for the bear. The beast gathered his part of the harvest into one pile and carried it all to the forest. The peasant gathered his turnips and rode his horse toward a local market to sell his harvest. As soon as the bear tried one piece of his part of the harvest, it got very angry and ran to the road to meet the peasant. “Where are you going, peasant?” asked the bear. The man replied, “To the market, dear bear. I wish to sell my part of the harvest for money.” “Let me try one of your roots,” said the bear and grabbed one of the man’s turnips. After it ate one and understood it sweet taste, the bear cried to the peasant, “You tricked me, peasant! Do not dare to show up in my forest again!” But the peasant took off and was on his way to the market. Next spring, the peasant decided to plant rye on the same field since its soil was already soft and free of tree roots.

As soon as the man finished planting, the same bear appeared out of nowhere and threatened to eat the peasant if he did not agree to share the harvest once again, but this time the bear wanted to keep the roots and leave the tops for the peasant. The old man agreed to the bear’s conditions. In the fall, the peasant came back to pick up his harvest where he encountered the bear again that was already waiting for the man to give him his share as agreed. The man picked up his rye and loaded it on his cart while the bear gathered his roots together and carried it into the forest. However, the bear soon realized that it could not find any use for the roots and the beast was more angry at the old man than ever before. Since then the bear does not try to make any deals with the men.

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