June 16, 2023

#08-319: Bearskin, Part II

Bearskin and the swineherd have a grand feast (Gutenberg)

Note: As Bearskin's story continues, we see him overcome an adversary in much the same way Queen Esther overcame Haman (see Lesson #08-294).

Get Ready: Which do think is more important, physical strength or mental cleverness (though bearskin exhibits both!)

In Part I of "Bearskin" (see Lesson #08-318) a king tried to prevent a newborn miller's son from growing up to marry his daughter, the princess. After the king's attempt to kill him failed, the boy grew up in the woods, raised by a she-bear.

The grown-up princess was going to be sacrificed to a three-headed dragon. Using armor given him by the she-bear, Bearskin slew the dragon and received from the princess a ring, a scarf, and a necklace (and a kiss!).

As we continue the story, Bearskin has gone back to work helping the king's swineherd, who joshingly asked if the boy had killed the dragon. Sure, Bearskin said, it was easy. The swineherd just laughed and laughed.

Meanwhile, the steward took the dragon's three heads and, after threatening the princess that he would kill her if she told the truth, presented the heads to the king and claimed the princess for his bride.

When the wedding feast was being prepared, Bearskin gave the swineherd the ring, and told him to go to the palace to exchange it for some bread and meat. (He was reluctant to go, until Bearskin beat him with a stick!) He did the same with the scarf, in exchange for some wine, and at last the necklace for some dessert.

After Bearskin and the swineherd had feasted, he got a horse and suitable clothes from the she-bear and went to the castle to claim the princess for his own. When he arrived, Bearskin asked the steward what should be done to one who falsely claimed to have killed the dragon? Why, the steward said, he should be put to death in a most gruesome manner!

"Then that's what will happen to you," said Bearskin, "because that is exactly what you have done."

"How so?" said the steward. "Do you not see the three heads I have fetched?"

"Yes," said Bearskin. "But where are their tongues?" And sure enough, upon examination the mouths were found to be vacant. Drawing the tongues out of his handkerchief, Bearskin fit one to each head.

And so Bearskin married the princess, and the steward was put to death in a most gruesome manner!

The she-bear came to the wedding feast (causing quite a stir!) and the king--never knowing this was the miller's son--was satisfied that his daughter had married a great hero.


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. dessert
  2. drawing
  3. feasted
  4. fetched
  5. gruesome
  6. joshingly
  7. reluctant
  8. slew
  9. stir
  10. vacant

  1. ghastly; horrifying
  2. in a joking way
  3. retrieved
  4. unwilling; hesitant
  5. pulling; bringing
  6. empty
  7. sweet foods after dinner
  8. eaten a big meal
  9. killed
  10. excited disturbance; commotion

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for June 16, 2023

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