THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHE-BEAR

Once upon a time there was a shepherd who had lots of sheep. When summer came, the shepherd took the sheep and led to the mountain to graze them. One day he heard a howl coming from the forest. That freaked him out so much that he stunned and grabbed the riffle to defend. But there was a giant she-bear coming out of the woods, she limped and her mouth steamed. The shepherd also raised the rifle and fired a bullet but didn’t kill the bear. Then the bear got angry and ran amuck to him as if he were a haystack. The shepherd was terrified but tried to not show it, he aimed the riffle at the bear to shoot at her, but he heard a coarse voice:

 - Wait son, I have to tell you something.

The shepherd was confused by the bear’s voice but then pulled himself together and said:

- What do you have to tell me, that you will lie to me and tear me off?

That’s all shepherd said and aimed to shoot at her, but she said he should listen before he did anything else. The shepherd told her to speak quickly and leave.

She said: - A few days earlier a prickle stuck in my paw and I am really suffering.

Shepherd told her he didn’t trust her, but the bear showed the paw with the prickle and the shepherd said: - Well, I trust you. But what can I do for you?

Please take the prickle out of my paw and I will never forget the good you are doing to me. See how the foot is swollen, I can’t even walk. – bear said.

The shepherd felt really sorry and told her to go closer. The bear came limping and stretched her leg. The shepherd reached the prickle and pulled it out. Tears came out of her eyes because of the pain, but for a little while she relieved and said to the shepherd:

- Oh you good man, you saved my life, I hope God protects you from bad things and I’ll recompense in the moments of joy. Tell me, what do you want from me?

Shepherd said at once he didn’t want anything, but after a little the bear said:

- Why don’t we become brothers and drink blood from each other?

The shepherd was surprised by that, then laughed and said:

- How can I become your brother? You are a beast and I am a man!

The bear felt very bad from his words but did show it and insisted, saying:

- So what if I'm the beast? God has given me too and I have a heart and a soul too.

Shepherd thought for a little while and it seemed that the bear was right. He agreed to become the bear’s brother. They spent all day long talking and told their problems to each-other. The next morning the bear said:

- Go home and finish the housework, I’ll take care of the livestock.

Shepherd liked that and went back to the village. The summer passed and autumn came, so the shepherd came back. He met the bear and they talked to each-other as brother to brother. When the bear asked why he came, he said:

I came to gather the livestock because the weather will get worse and it will start to rain. The bear said:

- If it was for me the livestock can stay here, but you know this better.

The shepherd said that if he left the sheep there, they would because of the cold. They talked and played with each-other all day long because the shepherd would leave the next morning. After lunch-time, when the evening hadn’t still come, the sky became cloudy and it started to rain. Te shepherd took the flock into the cabin but he couldn’t go inside and got wet. Then he said to the bear: -How do I do now? The rain will wash me and I will get sick!

But the bear said she knew a small cave nearby and they went there. But when they arrived and noticed that the cave was very small and they couldn’t stay both inside. The bear left him go in the cave and she stood at the entrance of the cave. To take care of him so he wouldn’t get sick, she bosomed him so neither rain nor wind would affect him. The shepherd had a great sleep till morning, but the bear couldn’t sleep. When he awoke, the bear asked: - How did you sleep, my dear brother?

And the shepherd replied relaxed: - As in the bear’s bosom.

These words hurt her heart, she got very sad but did not say anything. The rain had stopped, and after the bear basked, she said to the shepherd to take a walk, but he said that he would get late and he had to get back to the village. The bear grabbed the shepherd by the hand and said:

- Let’s take a walk into the woods, there is plenty of time for you to get back.

She led him and cracked up the boughs that got into their way. She stopped somewhere and turned to the shepherd: - Do you see that axe stuck in that oak tree?

Hence Shepherd tried to see everywhere and when he saw the axe he asked whose it was. The bear said of a woodcutter who had come to the forest to cut wood, but he was afraid of bears and had forgotten the axe there. Then she told him to go get it. The shepherd said he didn’t want it but she said she needed the axe. The shepherd asked why she needed that, but the bear told him to take it once, then she would tell him why. Then he went closer to the tree, took the axe and gave it to the bear, but the bear said: - No, you keep it and shoot me hammer and tongs in the neck.

The shepherd did not believe his ears, and said he would never do that. The bear begged so much that she could finally persuade the shepherd, so he took the ax and hit her in the neck. Then she said: - I am so glad you hurt my body!

A little bit shocked, he asked the bear why she asked him to do that and she told him: - I wanted to let out the bad blood.

Then the shepherd gathered the livestock and returned to the village. The bear climbed on a cliff and saw him off until he was no longer visible. When she noticed that she was alone, she began to cry, and tears came out incessantly. The fox passed and asked the she-bear why she was so sad, but the bear said it wasn’t her problem. Then there came a crow and she asked the bear too, and the bear frightened her too. A little later, the wolf came and asked why she was crying, and the bear said she was crying because he was that far that she couldn’t rip him off. The wolf was terrified and ran away. Lastly, the lion went past her. When he saw the bear crying, he stopped and asked: - What have you been crying, sister?

I’m crying because my heart hurts, my dear brother. -  the bear answered.

The lion saw the blood streaming from her neck and said her that blood was flowing from the neck, not from the heart.

- The blood flowing from the heart is worse than the neck. -  the bear said.

- I hope god saves your life. – the lion said and took off.

The bear went inside the cave and didn’t go out, so she survived the winter. She was constantly screaming in her sleep from the heartache her brother caused with his words. She had never had a longer winter than that. At last the winter passed, and when the summer came, the shepherd with his flock came there too. After greeting each-other, she told him to look at the wound she had in the neck and the shepherd told her it was better. The bear told him to touch it at look at it better, he touched it and said it was okay. She raised her head and said:

- Listen, you man! The wound the axe caused healed in six months, while the wound you caused my heart with the words "I slept as in the bear’s bosom" is not healed yet and you should know it will never get healed.

The shepherd lost his patience and turned to her: - What the hell are you saying to me, my dear brother?!

And the bear said: - The words you said hurt my soul, and the wound of the soul is heavier and hurts more than all the other ones. From now on we’re not brothers anymore, so go and get the flock away, I don’t want to see you ever again.

Then, the shepherd realized that he behaved like a beast with the bear, and not as if he had been a brother of blood to her.