Stones and Bones Rattle in My Belly
B. Silverman Weinreich, “Yiddish Folktales”, New York 1988: “Stones and Bones Rattle in My Belly”.
Once upon a time there was a rabbi and his wife, and they had many children. One day the rabbi went to the synagogue and his wife went to do some work in the mill. A bear came along and broke down the door of their house and ate all the children up. When the rabbi came home from the synagogue and his wife came home from the mill, they looked everywhere but couldn’t find the children.
“Children,” they called, “children, children, where are you?”
And the children called back, “Here we are, inside the bear. He came to the house and broke the door. Then he ate us up.”
So the parents called, “Bear, bear, come let us pick your lice.”
“No,” said the bear. “I won’t.”
“Come,” said the parents, “and we’ll give you a bowl of cereal with butter.”
But again the bear sad, “I won’t.”
“Come,” said the parents, “and we’ll give you groats with butter.”
But again the bear said, “I won’t.”
“Come,” said the parents, "and we’ll give you some sweets.”
But still the bear said, “I won’t.”
“Come,” said the parents, “and we’ll give you some meat.”
“For meat,” said the bear, “I’ll come.” And he came. The parents gave him as much meat as he could eat and he ate and ate until he fell asleep. Then they took a huge knife and cut his belly open and took all their children out.
The rabbi and his wife washed and scrubbed each of the children. Then they put one of them on top of the table, one under the table, one in the bed, one under the bed, one on the clay oven, and one beside the clay oven. They fed them all boiled groats with milk.
Then the rabbi and his wife put stones and bones inside the bear’s belly and sewed him up. When they were done, they woke the bear, who grabbed at his belly, but there were no children there. Then off he went singing,
“Tra, la, tra, la, tri, li.
Oh, I’ve got bones
And big heavy stones
Rattling in my bell-eeeeee.”