Woe Bogotir

Woe jumped in and laughed out loud.

“I declare, master,” he screamed, “there is no end of gold! There are twenty and more pots filled with it,” and Woe handed one pot to the poor man, who took the pot, hastily hid it under his blouse, and slipped the heavy stone into its place. So Bitter Woe remained in the deep pit and the peasant thought to himself, “Now there is the right place for my comrade, for with such a friend, even gold would taste bitter.”

The crafty fellow made the sign of the cross and hurried home. He became quite a new man, courageous, sober, and industrious; bought a grove and some cattle; remodeled the izba, and even started a trade. And very successful he was, too. Within a year he earned much money, and in place of the old hut built a fine, new log cabin.

One bright day he went into town to ask his rich brother, with his wife and children, to do him the favor of coming to a feast which was to be given in the new home.

“That’s a joke!” exclaimed the rich brother. “Without a ruble in thy pockets, stupid fellow! Thou evidently desirest to imitate rich people,” and then the rich brother laughed and laughed at him. But at the same time he got very anxious to know how it was with his poor brother, so he went without delay to the new place. When he arrived there he could not believe his eyes. His poor brother seemed to be quite rich, perhaps richer than himself. Everything bespoke wealth and care. The host treated his brother and the brother’s family most kindly and was very hospitable. They had good things to eat and plenty of honey to drink, and all became talkative. The brother who had been poor related everything about Woe, how he decided to deceive him and how, free from such a burden, he was getting to be a very happy man.

The rich man grew eager and thought:

“Is he a fool? Out of so many pots, to take only one! Fool and nothing but fool ! If one has money, even the Bitter Woe is not too bad.”

So at once he decided to go in search of the stone, to remove it, to take the treasure, the whole treasure, and to send Woe Bogotir back to his brother.

No sooner thought than done. The rich brother said good-by and went away, but did not go to his wealthy home. No, he hurried to the stone. He had to toil hard with the heavy stone, but finally moved it just a little, and had not time to look inside when the hidden Bogotir had jumped out and onto his shoulders.

The rich man felt a burden, oh, what a heavy burden! looked around and perceived the hideous monster. He heard this monster whisper in his ear:

“Thou art bright! Thou didst want to let me perish in that pit? Now, dearest, thou wilt not get rid of me; now we shall always be together.”

“Stupid Woe,” began the rich man; “it was not I who hid thee under the stone; it was my brother; go to him.”

But no, Woe would not go. The monster laughed and laughed.

“All the same, all the same,” he answered to the rich man. “Let us remain dear companions.”

The rich man went home under the heavy burden of the misery-giving Woe. His wealth was soon lost, but his brother, who knew how to get rid of Woe, was prosperous and is prosperous to this day.

From Folk tales from the Russian, by Verra de Blumenthal.
Chicago, New York, London: Rand, McNally and Company, 1903.

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