OSMO, the Bear, used to go day after day to a field of growing rye and eat as much as he wanted. The Farmer noticed from the Bear's tracks that he always came by the same route.
"I'll teach that Bear a lesson!" the Farmer thought to himself.
So he set a snare made of a strong net and carefully covered it over with leaves and branches.
That day Osmo, when he came as usual to the field, got entangled in the net and was unable to escape.
The Farmer when he came and found him securely caught was overjoyed.
"Now, you brute!" he said, "I've got you and I'm going to kill you!"
"Oh, master, don't do that!" the Bear implored. "Don't kill me!"
"Why shouldn't I kill you?" the Farmer asked. "Aren't you destroying my rye?"
"Let me off this time!" Osmo begged, "and I'll reward you! I swear I will!"
He begged and begged until at last he prevailed upon the Farmer to open the net and let him out.
"Now then," the Farmer said as soon as the Bear was freed, "how are you going to reward me?"
Osmo put a heavy paw on the Farmer's shoulder.
"This is how I'm going to reward you," he said: "I'm going to eat you up!"
"What!" the Farmer exclaimed, "is that your idea of a reward for kindness?"
"Exactly!" Osmo declared. "In this world that is the reward kindness always gets! Ask any one!"
"I don't believe it! I don't believe it!" the Farmer cried.
"Very well. I'll prove to you that I'm right. We'll ask the first person we meet."
The first person they met was an old Horse. They put their case to him.
"The Bear is right," the old Horse said. "Look at me: For thirty years I gave my master faithful service and just this morning I heard him say: 'It's time we killed that old plug! He's no good for work any more and he's only eating his head off!'"
The Bear squinted his little eyes.
"No, I don't see!" the Farmer insisted. "We must ask some one else."
They walked on a little farther until they met an old Dog. They put their case to him and at once the Dog said:
"The Bear is right! Look at me: I gave my master a life time of faithful service and just this morning I overheard him say: 'It's time we killed that old Dog!' Alas, alas, in this wicked world goodness is always so rewarded!"
But still the Farmer was unsatisfied and to humor him Osmo said that he was willing that they should put their case once more to the judgment of an outsider.
The next person they met was Mikko, the Fox. Mikko listened carefully and then drawing the Farmer aside he whispered:
"If I give judgment in your favor will you let me carry off all the chickens in your hen-house?"
"Indeed I will!" the Farmer promised.
Then Mikko cleared his throat importantly and said:
"H'm! H'm! To give fair judgment in this case I must go over all the ground. First show me the field of rye and the damage Osmo did."
So they went to the field and the Fox, after he had appraised the damage, shook his head seriously.
"It was certainly wicked of Osmo eating all that rye!... Now show me the net."
So they went to the snare and the Fox examined it carefully.
"You say the Bear got entangled in this snare. I want to see just how he did it."
Osmo showed just how he had been caught.
"Get all the way in," the Fox said. "I want to make sure that you couldn't possibly get out unaided."
So the Bear entangled himself again in the net and proved that he couldn't possibly get out unaided.
"Well," said Mikko, the rascal, "you deserved to get caught the first time and now that you're in there again you can just stay there! Come on, Mr. Farmer."
So Mikko and the Farmer went off leaving Osmo to his fate.
That night the Fox went to the Farmer's hen-house to claim his reward. When he came in the chickens, of course, set up an awful squawking that aroused the family. The Farmer stayed in bed but he sent his wife out with a stout club.
"It sounds to me," he said, "as if some rascally Fox is trying to steal our hens. If you catch him, don't be gentle with him!"
"Gentle!" repeated the wife significantly.
She hurried out to the hen-house and when she found Mikko inside she gave him an awful beating. In fact he barely escaped with his life.
"Ah!" he said to himself as he limped painfully home, "to think that this is the reward my kindness has received! Oh, what a wicked, wicked world this is!"