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The Three Kingdoms: Russian Folk Tales

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Year:
1998
Publisher:
Raduga Publisher,C.I.S.
Language:
english
Pages:
136
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WAS IST WAS, Band 36: Polargebiete

Year:
1993
Language:
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THE THREE KINGDOMS
RUSSIAN FOLK TALES

From
Alexander Afanasiev's Collection
Illustrated by A.Kurkin

Raduga Publishers
Moscow
1985

Contents
The Animals in the Pit
The Cat, the Rooster and the Fox
The Wolf and the Goat
The Animals' Winter Home
The Tale of Ruff Ruffson, Son of Bristle
The Fox and the Crane
The Greedy Old Woman
Baba-Yaga and Puny
The Swan-Geese
Right and Wrong
Prince Ivan and Princess Martha
The Three Kingdoms
Evening, Midnight and Dawn
Shabarsha
Marya Morevna
King Ivan and Bely, the Warrior of the Plains
Emelya and the Pike
The Fire-Bird and Princess Vassilissa
The Horse, the Table-Cloth and the Horn
Go I Know Not Where, Bring I Know Not What
The King of the Sea and Vassilissa the Wise
Fenist the Falcon
Elena the Wise
The Prophetic Dream
The Mountain of Gold
A Cunning Trade
The White Duck
The Riddle
The Wise Maid and the Seven Robbers
The Fortune-Teller
Ivan the Fool
Good But Bad
The Miser
Don't Listen, If You Don't Like

English translation © Raduga Publishers 1985

The Animals in the Pit
There was once an old couple whose only possession was a hog.
One day the hog went off to the forest to eat acorns. On the way he met
a wolf. "Hog, hog, where are you going?" "To the forest to eat acorns."
"Take me with you." "I would," said the hog, "but there's a deep, wide
pit on the way, and you won't be able to jump over it." "Oh, yes, I will,"
said the wolf. So off they set. On they went through the forest until
they came to the pit. "Go on, jump," said the wolf. The hog jumped
right over to the other side. Then the wolf jumped and fell straight in.
The hog ate his fill of acorns and went home. The next day the hog
went off to the forest again. On the way he met a bear. "Hog, hog,
where are you going?" "To the forest to eat acorns." "Take me with
you," said the bear. "I would, but there's a deep, wide pit on the way,
and you won't be able to jump over it." I'll jump over it alright,";  said
the bear. They came to the pit. The hog jumped right over to the other
side. But the bear jumped and fell straight in. The hog ate his fill of
acorns and went home.
The third day the hog went off to the forest again to eat acorns. On
the way he met Squint-Eye the hare. "Good-day to you, hog!" "Goodday, Squint-Eye!" "Where are you going?" "To the forest to eat
acorns." "Take me with you." "No, Squint-Eye, there's a deep, wide pit
on the way, and you won't be able to jump over it." "What a thing to
say! Of course I will!" Off they went and came to the pit. The hog
jumped right over to the other side. The hare jumped and landed in the
pit. Then the hog ate his fill of acorns and went home.
The fourth day the hog went off to the forest to eat acorns. On the
way he met a fox, who also asked the hog to take her with him. "No,"
said the hog, "there's a deep, wide pit on the way, and you won't be able
to jump over it." "Oh, yes, I will," said the fox. And she landed in the
pit as well. So now there were four of them down there, and they began
racking their brains about how to get food.
"Let's howl without taking a breath for as long as we can and eat the
one who stops first," said the fox. So they began to howl. The hare was
the first to stop, and the fox went on the longest. So they seized the
hare, tore him to pieces and ate him. They grew hungry again and
agreed to howl as long as they could and eat the one that stopped first.
"If I stop first, you must eat me," said the fox. So they began to howl.
This time the wolf was the first to give up, he just couldn't go on any
longer. So the fox and the bear seized him, tore him to pieces and ate
him.

But the fox cheated the bear. She gave him only a little of the meat
and hid the rest to eat when he wasn't looking. The bear grew hungry
again and said: "Where do you get food, Mistress Fox?" "Don't you
know, Master Bruin? Stick your paw in your ribs, grab hold of them
and yank, then you'll find out." The bear did as he was told, yanked at
his ribs, and that was the end of him. Now the fox was all alone. After
feasting off the bear, she began to feel hungry again.
Now there was a tree by the pit, and in that tree a thrush was
building a nest. The fox sat in the pit watching the thrush and said to it:
"Thrush, thrush, what are you doing?" "Building a nest." "What for?"
"For my children." "Get me some food, Thrush. If you don't, I'll gobble
your children up." The thrush racked its brains about how to get the fox
some food. It flew to the village and brought back a chicken. The fox
gobbled up the chicken and said again: "Thrush, thrush, you got me
some food, didn't you?" "Yes, I did." "Well, now get me some drink."
The thrush racked its brains about how to get the fox some drink. It
flew to the village and brought back some water. The fox drank her fill
and said: "Thrush, thrush, you got me some food, didn't you?" "Yes, I
did." "And you got me some drink, didn't you?" "Yes, I did." "Well,
now get me out of the pit."
The thrush racked its brains about how to get the fox out. Then it
dropped sticks into the pit, so many that the fox was able to climb over
them out of the pit, lay down by the tree and stretched out. "Now," she
said, "you got me some food, didn't you, thrush?" "Yes, I did." "And
you got me some drink, didn't you?" "Yes, I did." "And you got me out
of the pit, didn't you?" "Yes, I did." "Well, now make me laugh." The
thrush racked its brains about how to make the fox laugh. "I'll fly
away," it said, "and you follow me. " So the thrush flew off to the
village and perched on the gate of a rich man's house, while the fox lay
down by the gate. Then the thrush began to call out: "Mistress,
mistress, give me a knob of lard! Mistress, mistress, give me a knob of
lard!" Out raced the dogs and tore the fox to pieces.
Oh, I was there and drank mead-wine, it wetted my lips, but not my
tongue. They gave me to wear a cloak so gay, but the crows cawed
loudly on their way: "Cloak so gay! Cloak so gay!" "Throw it away," I
thought they said, so I did straightway. They gave me to wear a cap of
red, but the crows cawed loudly as they sped: "Cap of red! Cap of red!"
"Cap off head," I thought they said, so I pulled it off—and was left with
naught.
Translated by Kathleen Cook

The Cat, the Rooster and the Foõ
There was once an old man who had a cat and a rooster.
One day the old man went to the forest to chop wood, the cat soon
followed him with his dinner, and the rooster was left all alone.
By and by a fox came running up. She seated herself under the
window and sang out:
"Come, Friend Rooster, comb of gold,
You who are so brave and bold,
Look out of the window, please,
And you'll get some nice, fresh peas!"
The rooster pushed open the window, stuck out his head and looked
round to see who was calling him, and the fox seized him and carried
him off with her.
"Save me, Puss, I beg and pray,
Fox is dragging me away,
Beyond the dark forests,
Beyond the white sands,
Beyond the blue seas,
To the thrice-ten lands!"
the rooster cried.
The cat heard him. He ran after the fox, got the rooster out of her
clutches and brought him back home.
"Take care, friend Rooster," said the cat, "do not believe what the
fox says or look out of the window, for she will eat you up, bones and
all!"
On the next day the old man told the rooster to watch over the house
and not to look out of the window and went to the forest again to chop
wood, and the cat soon followed with his dinner. The fox, who dearly
wanted to eat up the rooster, waited for them to go away and then came
up to the house and sang out:
"Come, Friend Rooster, comb of gold,
You who are so brave and bold,
Look out of the window, please,
And you'll get some nice, fresh peas,
And some grains of wheat, too!"

The rooster walked up and down the house and stayed mum, and the
fox sang her little song again and threw a handful of peas in through
the window. The rooster ate the peas and said: "You can't fool me, Fox!
I know you want to eat me up, bones and all." "Don't be silly, Rooster!"
said the fox. "Why should I eat you! All I want is for you to pay me a
visit and see what a nice house I have." And she sang out again:
"Come, Friend Rooster, comb of gold,
You who are so brave and bold,
Look out of the window, please,
And you'll get some nice, fresh peas,
And some grains of wheat, too!"
The rooster glanced out of the window and lo! — he found himself
in the fox's claws!
"Save me, Puss, I beg and pray,
Fox is dragging me away,
Beyond the thick forests,
Beyond the dark groves,
Beyond the steep hills
Where the wild wind roves...
She wants to eat me up, bones and all!"
he called.
The cat heard him. He ran after the fox, got the rooster out of her
clutches and brought him back home. "Didn't I tell you not to look out
of the window if you did not want the fox to seize you and eat you up!"
said he. "Take care now, for tomorrow we will be going deeper into the
forest."
On the next day the old man was in the forest chopping wood and
the cat had just left the house with his dinner when the fox crept up to
the window. She sang her song three times over, but, seeing that the
rooster made no reply, said: "What's the matter with you, Rooster, have
you turned deaf and dumb?" "You won't fool me, Fox, I won't look out
of the window!" the rooster told her. The fox threw a handful of peas
and some wheat grains in through the window and sang out again:

"Come, Friend Rooster, comb of gold,
You who are so brave and bold,
Look out of the window, do,
And my house I'll show to you
Where I keep some nice, ripe wheat
Which is very good to eat!"
And she added:
"You can't imagine what treasures I have in my house, Rooster!
Come, now, show yourself and forget what the cat told you. Had I
wanted to eat you up, I would have done so long ago. I like you,
Rooster, I like you very much and I want to teach you the ways of the
world. Look out of the window, and I'll go round the corner if you don't
want me near." And she squeezed herself against the wall.
The rooster jumped up on a bench, but, not being able to see the fox
and wanting to know where she was, he stuck his head out of the
window, and the fox seized him and was off with him in a trice! The
rooster called to the cat to save him, but the cat did not hear him, and
the fox took him behind a clump of fir trees and ate him up. She left
nothing but some feathers, which were carried away by the wind. The
old man and the cat came home, but the rooster was gone. They grieved
and sorrowed for a time, and then they said: "That is what happens
when you don't listen to those who wish you well!"

Translated by Irina Zheleznova

The Wolf and the Goat
There was once a goat who built herself a little house in the woods
and gave birth to a family of kids. The mother goat would often go out
to seek for food, and the kids would lock the door behind her and never
so much as show their noses outside. The mother goat would come
back, knock at the door and sing out:
"My kiddies own, my children dear,
Open the door, for your mother is here!
By a stream I walked, on a grass-grown bank,
Of fresh grass I ate, of cool water drank;
I bring you milk which is rich and sweet,
It runs from my udder down to my feet!"
The kids would open the door and let in their mother, the mother
goat would feed them and go off to the woods again, and they would
lock the door behind her just as they had before.
Now, the wolf heard the mother goat call to her kids, and one day
when she had just gone out, he stole up to the house and cried in his
gruff voice:
"My kiddies own, my children dear,
Open the door, for your mother is here.
I bring you milk which is rich and sweet,
It runs from my udder down to my feet!"
And the kids called back: "We hear you, whoever you are, but that
isn't our mother's voice. Mother's voice is thin and sweet and the words
she says are different." The wolf went away and hid himself, and after a
while the mother goat came back home. She knocked at the door and
sang out:
"My kiddies own, my children dear,
Open the door, for your mother is here!
By a stream I walked, on a grass-grown bank,
Of fresh grass I ate, of cool water drank;
I bring you milk which is rich and sweet,
It runs from my udder down to my feet!"

The kids let in their mother and told her about the wolf and about
how he had wanted to eat them up. The mother goat fed the kids, and,
before leaving for the woods, told them very sternly indeed that if
anyone came to the house, asked to be let in in a gruff voice and not
used the very same words as she they were not to let him in on any
account. She had no sooner left than the wolf came running up. He
knocked at the door and sang out in a thin little voice:
"My kiddies own, my children dear,
Open the door, for your mother is here.
By a stream I walked, on a grass-grown bank,
Of fresh grass I ate, of cool water drank;
I bring you milk which is rich and sweet,
It runs from my udder down to my feet!"
The kids opened the door, and the wolf rushed in and gobbled them
all up save for one little kid who had crawled into the stove and hidden
himself there.
By and by the mother goat came home, but call and shout as she
would no one answered her. She gave the door a push, and seeing that
it was unlocked, ran inside. The house was empty, but she glanced into
the stove, and lo!—found one little kid there. Great was the mother
goat's grief when she heard what had happened to her children. Down
she dropped on the bench and began sobbing loudly, saying over and
over again:
"O my children dear, î my kiddies own,
Why did I ever leave you alone?
For the wicked wolf you opened the door,
Never, I fear, will I see you more!"
The wolf heard her, and, coming into the house, said: "Why do you
make me out to be such a villain, Mistress Goat? I would never eat
your kids! Do not grieve but come for a walk in the woods with me."
"No, Mister Wolf, I'm in no mood for a walk." "Please come, please!"
the wolf begged.
They went to the woods and soon came to a hole in the ground with
a fire burning in it. It had been used by some robbers for cooking gruel
in and they had not doused the flames. "Come, Wolf, let us see which
of us can jump over the hole!" said the mother goat. To this the wolf
agreed. He leapt across, but tripped and fell into the fire. His belly burst
open from the heat, and out the kids hopped, safe and sound, and ran

straight to their mother. And they lived happily ever after. The wiser
from year to year they grew and never a day of misfortune knew.
Translated by Irina Zheleznova

The Animals' Winter Home
A bull was walking through the forest, when he met a ram. "Where
are you going, ram?" asked the bull. "Away from winter to find
summer," said the ram. "Come with me!" So off they went together. On
the way they met a pig. "Where are you going, pig," said the bull.
"Away from winter to find summer," replied the pig. "Come with us!"
The three of them set off. On the way they met a goose. "Where are
you going, goose?" asked the bull. "Away from winter to find
summer," replied the goose. "Well, follow us!" So the goose followed
them. On the way they met a rooster. "Where are you going, rooster?"
asked the bull. "Away from winter to find summer," replied the rooster.
"Follow us." They went on their way and began to talk among
themselves: "What shall we do, brothers? The cold season is coming.
How shall we keep warm?" And the bull said to them: "Let's build a
house, or we'll freeze to death in the winter." The ram said: "I've got a
nice warm coat—just look at the fleece! I'll get through the winter
alright." The pig said: "I'm not afraid of any frosts, I'll bury myself in
the ground and get through the winter without a house." The goose
said: "And I'll perch in a fir tree, lie on one wing and cover myself with
the other. The cold won't hurt me. I'll get through the winter easily."
"So will I!" said the rooster. The bull saw it was no good, he'd have to
do it on his own. "Do as you like," he said, "but I'm going to build a
house." So he built himself a house and went to live in it.
A cold frosty winter came and chilled the animals to the marrow.
There was nothing for it, so the ram went to the bull and said: "Let me
in to get warm, brother." "No, ram, you've got a nice warm coal. You'll
get through the winter alright. Go away." "If you don't let me in, I'll
butt your house and knock out a log, then you'll be cold." The bull
thought for a while: "I'd better let him in or I'll freeze to death too," and
he let the ram in. Then the pig got cold and came to the bull: "Let me in
to get warm, brother." "No, I won't. You can bury yourself in the
ground and get through the winter like that!" "If you don't let me in, I'll
dig round the posts with my snout and bring your house down." There
was nothing for it, so the bull let the pig in. Then up came the goose
and the rooster: "Let us in to get warm, brother." "No, I won't. You've
each got two wings, you can lie on one and cover yourself with the
other. You'll get through the winter easily." "If you don't let me in,"
said the goose, "I'll peck all the moss from the chinks in your walls,
then you'll be cold." "So you won't let me in, eh?" said the rooster.
"Then I'll fly up and scrape all the straw off the roof. That'll make you

cold." There was nothing for it, so the bull let the goose and the rooster
in too.
So they all lived together in the house. The rooster warmed up and
began singing songs. A fox heard the rooster singing and longed to
gobble up this tasty morsel, but how was she to catch him? She hatched
a cunning plan, went to the bear and the wolf and said: "I have found
some fine fare for each of us, dear masters: a bull for you, bear, a ram
for you, wolf, and a rooster for myself." "Well done, mistress," said the
bear and the wolf. "We shall not forget your kind service! Let us go and
finish them off, then eat them."
The fox took them to the house. "Open the door, master," she said to
the bear. "I will go in first and eat the rooster." The bear opened the
door, and the fox ran into the house. The bull saw her and straightway
pinned her against the wall with his horns, while the ram butted her
sides until she gave up the ghost. "Why is she taking so long over the
rooster?" said the wolf. "Open the door, friend Bruin! I'll go in now."
"Very well, off you go." The bear opened the door, and the wolf ran
into the house. The bull pinned him against the wall with his horns,
while the ram butted his sides, and they gave him such a welcome that
the wolf soon breathed his last. The bear waited and waited. "Why is he
taking so long over the ram? I'd better go in." In he went, and the bull
and the ram gave him the same welcome, but he managed to fight his
way out and ran away as fast as his legs would carry him.

Translated by Kathleen Cook

The Tale of Ruff Ruffson, Son of Bristle
There once lived fat-bellied Ruff Ruffson, who dwelt in a fine house
and was forever telling tales about his fellows! He came upon hard
times and drove off to Lake Rostov in a miserable sledge drawn by a
three-legged nag. There Ruff Ruffson cried out in a loud voice: "Oh,
fish of the lake, both large and small, burbot and sterlet, carp, chub and
roach, the last among you all! Let me, Ruff Ruffson, into your lake, I
pray. Not for a whole year there to stay, but just to feast for one brief
day, eat from your table and listen to your prattle." So the fish of the
lake, both large and small, burbot and sterlet, carp, chub and roach, the
last among them all, agreed to let him into the lake for a day. Then Ruff
Ruffson went on the rampage, harassing the poor fish everywhere,
driving them into the slime and up to the weir. The fish of the lake
grew angry and complained about Ruff Ruffson to Peter Sturgeon the
Just: "Oh, Peter Sturgeon the Just! Why does Ruff Ruffson harass us?
He asked to come into our lake for a day, then started chasing us all
away. Hear and pass judgement, Peter Sturgeon." Peter Sturgeon the
Just sent the gudgeon, a little fish, to fetch Ruff Ruffson. The gudgeon
hunted for him in the lake, but could not find him. So Peter Sturgeon
the Just sent the pike, a middling fish, to look for him.
With a splash of her tail, the pike dived into the lake and found the
ruff under a snag. "Hello, Ruff Ruffson!" "Good-day, Pikey! What
brings you here?" "I have come to summon you to Peter Sturgeon, who
is to pass judgement; a complaint has been made against you." "By
whom?" "By the fish of the lake, both large and small, burbot and
sterlet, carp, chub and roach, the last among them all, even she has
complained about you, and the catfish too, a simple fellow, with lips so
thick he can hardly speak. So let's go to the court, Ruff Ruffson, and
see that justice is done." "Oh, no, Pikey, dear! Now just listen here.
Come along with me, and we'll go on a spree." The pike refused to go
with Ruff Ruffson, and tried to take him to court so that he would get
his just deserts. "Sharp as you are of tooth and scale, you won't catch
Ruff Ruffson by the tail! Today is Saturday, Pikey. The lasses will
gather at my father's house and there will be feasting and carousing.
Let's go and have fun, eh, and tomorrow, though it be Sunday, we'll go
to the court: at least our bellies will be full." So the pike agreed and
went on a spree with Ruff Ruffson. He made her drunk, lured her into a
barn, locked the door and she was heard of no more.
They waited and waited for Ruff Ruffson to appear in court. At last
Peter Sturgeon sent the big catfish to fetch him. With a splash of his

tail, the catfish dived into the lake and found the ruff under a snag.
"Good-day, son-in-law!" "Hello, father-in-law!" "Come with me to
court, Ruff Ruffson. A complaint has been made against you." "By
whom?" "By the fish of the lake, both large and small, burbot and
sterlet, carp, chub and roach, the last among them all!" Ruff Ruffson
was the catfish's son-in-law, so there was nothing left for him but to go.
"Why have you called me here, Peter Sturgeon the Just?" asked Ruff
Ruffson. "Why have I called you indeed! You asked to be let into Lake
Rostov for a day, then began chasing all the fish away. They were
greatly angered by this; so the fish of the lake, both large and small,
burbot and sterlet, carp, chub and roach, the last among them all,
complained to me about you and asked me to pass judgement on the
matter!" "Well, now hear my complaint too," replied Ruff Ruffson. "It
is they who have wronged me by splashing about and washing away
the banks. I was driving past in a hurry and fell into the lake! Summon
the king's fishermen, Peter Sturgeon the Just, cast fine nets and drive
the fish into the weir, then you will see who is right and who is wrong.
For the one who is right will get out of the plight and leap free out of
the net."
Peter the Sturgeon heard his request, summoned the king's
fishermen and drove all the fish into the weir. Ruff Ruffson got caught
in a net. He began twisting and thrashing, with eyes a-popping, and was
the first to leap free. "Now do you see who was right and who was
wrong, Peter Sturgeon the Just?" "I see that you were right, Ruff
Ruffson; go back to the lake and swim at your ease. No one will vex
you now, unless the lake dry up and the crows drag you out of the
mud." So Ruff Ruffson went down into the lake, boasting for all to
hear: "Now fish of the lake, both large and small, burbot and sterlet,
carp and chub, you're all in trouble. Nor shall I forgive the roach, the
last of them all. Or the fat-bellied catfish. Too thick-lipped to speak,
but he knows how to complain! I'll get even with the lot of you!" Up
came Akim and didn't like this bragging; up came Innokenty with
stakes a-plenty; up came Maxim and drove the stakes in; up came Gleb
and spread out a net; up came Demian and caught the ruffian; then up
came Ustin and Ruff slipped free.

Translated by Kathleen Cook

The Fox and the Crane
A fox and a crane became friends. The fox wanted to give her friend
the crane a treat and invited him to dinner.
"Come and have dinner with me, Brother Crane, I'll give you an
excellent meal!"
The crane accepted the invitation and the fox made some porridge
and spread it on plates.
"Eat it all up, Brother Crane," said the fox, "it's very good, I made it
myself."
The crane pecked and pecked at the plate with his long beak; he
pecked and pecked but could not get anything off the plate.
Meanwhile the fox was licking her plate with her tongue; she licked
and licked until the plate was quite clean. She ate up all the porridge
herself.
"Don't be angry with me, Brother Crane, but that's all I have in the
house. There's nothing else to eat."
"Thank you for that, Sister Fox," answered the crane. "Now you
must come and have dinner with me one day."
The fox went to the crane for dinner. The crane had made some soup
and put it in tall jars with narrow necks. He put the jars on the table and
said:
"Eat it all up, Sister Fox. It's all I have in the house."
The fox walked round and round her jar. She tried this way and that,
she licked it, she sniffed it, but not a drop of that soup could she get, for
her head was too big to go into the neck of the jar.
But the crane had his long beak in the jar and pecked and pecked
until he had eaten all the soup.
"Don't be angry with me, Sister Fox, but that's really all I have in the
house."
But the fox was angry. She had thought she would eat enough to last
her a week, but she went home hungry, as hungry as she had come. The
crane had given her tit for tat.
Since then there has been no friendship between the fox and the
crane.
Translated by Bernard Isaacs

The Greedy Old Woman
There once lived an old man and an old woman, peasants both. One
day the old man went to the forest to chop wood. He found an old tree,
took up his axe and was about to set to work, but the tree said in a
human voice: "Spare me, Old Man, and I will do for you whatever you
wish." "All right, then, make me rich." "Very well! Go home, and you'll
find that you'll have everything you want waiting for you." The old
man came home, and lo!—in place of the old hut stood a new one, and
it was full of everything! There was money enough to burn, flour
enough to last him and his old woman for dozens of years, and there
were so many cows, horses and sheep in the barnyard that it would
have taken three days and over to count them all. "Where did all this
come from, Old Man?" the old woman asked. "Well, you see, Wife, I
found a tree that says it will give me whatever I ask for."
A month passed, and the old woman was no longer content with her
rich life. "I know we're rich, but what good does it do us when people
show us no respect!" said she." If the steward wants to, he can make us
work very hard, and if there's something he doesn't like, he can have us
flogged. Go back to the tree and ask it to make you a steward." The old
man took his axe, went to the forest and up to the tree and made as if to
chop it down. "What do you want, Old Man?" the tree asked. "I want to
become a steward." "Very well. And now go with God!"
He came back home, and lo!—he had been made a steward, and
there were soldiers waiting for him who wanted him to find them
quarters in the village.
"Where have you been gadding about, you old devil?" they shouted.
"Find us quarters and good ones. Come on, be quick about it!" And
they went at him with the blunt sides of their broadswords and gave
him a sound trouncing.
Seeing that a steward too does not always get the respect due him,
the old woman said: "What's the good of being a steward! The soldiers
gave you a beating, so what is there to say about the landlord: he'll do
whatever he wants with you. Go to the forest and ask the tree to make
you a landlord."
The old man took his axe, went to the forest and up to the tree and
made as if to chop it down. "What do you want, Old Man?" the tree
asked. "I want to become a landlord." "Very well. And now go with
God!"
The old man became a landlord, but after leading a life of leisure for
some time the old woman felt it was not enough and said to the old

man: "What's the good of you being a landlord! Now, had you been a
colonel it would be a different matter, for everyone would envy us."
And she told the old man to go and ask the tree to make him a colonel.
The old man took his axe, went to the forest and up to the tree and
made as if to chop it down. "What do you want, Old Man?" the tree
asked. "I want to become a colonel," the old man said. "Very well, a
colonel you shall be! And now go with God!" The old man came back
home, and lo!—he had been made colonel.
Some time passed, and the old woman said: "Being a colonel isn't all
that much. You could be put in the guardhouse by a general if he so
wished. Go to the tree, Old Man, and say that you want to become a
general." The old man went to the forest and up to the tree and made as
if to chop it down with his axe. "What do you want, Old Man?" the tree
asked. "I want to become a general." "Very well. And now go with
God!" The old man came back home, and lo!—he had been made
general.
Some more time passed, and the old woman, who was no longer
content being a general's wife, said to the old man:
"Being a general isn't all that much! If the king so wishes, he can
exile you to Siberia. Go to the tree and ask it to make you a king and
me a queen." Off went the old man to the forest and up to the tree and
made as if to chop it down with his axe. "What is it you want, Old
Man?" the tree asked. "I want to be king." "Very well. Go with" God!"
The old man came back home, and there were envoys there waiting to
take him to the palace. "The king is dead," said they, "and you have
been made king in his stead."
The old man and old woman had not reigned very long when the old
woman decided that it wasn't enough to be a queen. So she called the
old man and said: "To be king isn't all that much! If God so wills, he'll
send death after you and you'll find yourself dead and buried. Go to the
tree and ask it to make gods of us." Off went the old man to see the
tree, but when it had heard out his mad speeches, it rustled its leaves
and said: "Not gods shall you be, both of you, but bears!" And the same
moment the old man turned into a he-bear and the old woman into a
she-bear, and away they ran into the deep of the forest.
Translated by Irina Zheleznova

Baba-Yaga and Puny
There once lived a man and his wife who had no children. They did
all they could, they prayed to God to help them, but God did not seem
to hear them. One day the man went to the forest to gather mushrooms
and he met an old man on the way. "I know what's on your mind," the
old man said. "You want a child. Well, then, what you must do is go
from house to house in your village, ask each of your neighbours for an
egg and then put a brood-hen on them. You'll see what comes of it!"
The man went back to the village, and as there were forty-one houses
there and he made the rounds of them all, he collected forty-one eggs,
and, this done, put a brood-hen on them. Two weeks passed, and the
couple were amazed to see that forty-one babies, all boys, were hatched
out of the eggs. Forty of the boys were strong and healthy, but the
forty-first was frail and puny. The man began giving the boys names,
but could think of only forty and was at a loss to think of a forty-first.
"Well," said he to the forty-first boy, "you're frail and puny, so Puny
you shall be!"
The boys grew fast, not by the day but by the hour, and when they
had grown to manhood, began to help their mother and father, the first
forty working in the field and Puny doing the things that needed to be
done in the house. Mowing time came, and the forty brothers cut the
grass and made hayricks, and after they had worked for a week, came
back home. They had their supper and went to bed, and the father
looked at them and said: "Look at those lads! They eat a lot, they sleep
soundly, but I don't suppose they've done much work!" "Go to the field
and see for yourself before you say that, Father," Puny said. The father
harnessed a horse and drove to the meadow, and what was his surprise
when he saw forty hayricks there! "Good lads to have cut so much
grass and put up so many hayricks in one week!" he cried.
On the following day the father again set out for the meadow, for he
wanted to feast his eyes on the hayricks. But when he came there he
saw that one of the hayricks was gone! He came back home and told
his sons about it. "Never mind, Father, we'll find the thief!" Punny said.
"Give me a hundred rubles and Ï1 do it myself." The father gave him a
hundred rubles, and he went to a smithy and asked the smith if he could
forge a chain long enough to bind a man with from head to toe. "And
why not!" said the smith. "Well, then, make it as strong as you can. If I
find that it's as strong as I want it to be, you'll get a hundred rubles, but
if it breaks, then all your labours will have been in vain." The smith
forged an iron chain, but when Puny wound it round himself and then

pulled at it, it up and broke! The smith then forged him another chain,
twice as thick, and finding it to be good and strong, Puny took it, paid
the smith his hundred rubles and made for the meadow. He sat down
under a hayrick and waited to see what would happen.
Midnight came, the wind began to blow, the sea rose in waves, and
from out of its depths stepped a mare. She ran up to the first hayrick
and began eating the hay. And Puny jumped up, threw his chain round
the mare and sprang on her back. The mare kicked and reared and she
carried him over hills and dales, but he sat on her back firmly, and,
seeing that she could not throw him. she stopped and said: "Since you
were able to get the better of me, my brave lad, you shall have my colts
for your own!" She ran to the blue sea and gave a loud whinny, the sea
rose in waves, and on to the shore stepped forty-one colts. Each of
them was better than the other, and you could not find their like even if
you were to search all over the world! Morning came, and the father
heard a great pounding of hooves and a loud neighing coming from
outside. He rushed out into the yard with his sons, and whom should
they see there but Puny leading in a whole herd of horses! "Greetings to
you, brothers!" Puny said. "There's a horse here for each of us. Let us
go to seek brides for ourselves!" "A good idea!" the brothers said. The
mother and father blessed them and off they set on their way.
Long did they ride over the wide world, but where could they find
so many brides all in one place! For, not wanting to hurt one another's
feelings, they had all of them set their hearts on marrying at one and the
same time. On rode the brothers, beyond the thrice-nine lands, and they
came to a steep mountain on top of which stood a great house of white
stone with a high wall around it and forty-one iron pillars at the gate.
They tied their horses to the pillars and went in through the gate into
the yard, and whom should they see coming toward them but BabaYaga the Witch. "How dared you tie your horses to the pillars without
asking, you who come here uninvited!" said she. "Why do you shout,
old one? First steam us in the baths and give us food and drink and then
ask your questions." Baba-Yaga steamed them in the baths and gave
them food and drink and then she said: "Come, my brave lads, tell me.
have you some purpose in mind or do you come merely to while away
the time?" "We have a purpose in mind, Grandma." "And what is it?"
"We wish to marry and are seeking brides for ourselves." "I have many
daughters," said Baba-Yaga, and she hurried into the house and was
soon back, bringing forty-one maids with her.
Each of the brothers then chose himself a bride, a great wedding
feast was held, and they all drank and made merry. Evening came, and
Puny went to see how his mare was faring. The mare saw him and said

in a human voice: "Mind this, master! Before going to bed you must
put on your brides' clothes and have them put on yours! If you do not
do this, it'll be the end for all of us." Puny passed on to his brothers
what the mare had said, and they put on their brides' clothes and had
them put on theirs and went to bed. They were soon asleep, all save
Puny who never closed an eye. Midnight struck, and Baba-Yaga called
out in a loud voice: "Make haste, my faithful servants, cut off the heads
of these guests of ours!" And the servants came running and cut off the
heads of Baba-Yaga's forty-one daughters. Puny then woke his brothers
and told them what had happened, and they took the heads and stuck
them on the iron poles that surrounded the wall. Then they saddled
their horses and made off in great haste. Morning came, Baba-Yaga
rose and looked out of the window, and there, crowning the poles, were
her daughters' heads! She flew into a passion, and, ordering her fiery
shield to be brought, rode off in pursuit. Where were the brothers to
hide? Ahead of them lay the blue sea, and behind them came BabaYaga burning everything in her way with her shield! Death seemed
close, but Puny was a clever lad and had not forgotten to take along
Baba-Yaga's magic kerchief. He waved the kerchief in front of him, a
bridge spanning the blue sea rose before him, and he and his brothers
crossed it and were soon on the opposite shore. Then Puny waved the
kerchief behind him, the bridge vanished, Baba-Yaga was forced to
turn back, and the brothers rode safely home.

Translated by Irina Zheleznova

The Swan-Geese
There once lived a man and a woman who had a little daughter and a
son who was still a baby. One day the mother and father prepared to go
to the field, and the mother said to the daughter: "Your father and I are
going out to work, child, and if you will be a good and a clever girl,
take good care of your little brother and never leave the yard, we will
bring you back a bun, buy you a kerchief and make you a pretty dress."
The mother and father went away, and the little girl never gave her
mother's words a thought. She seated her brother on the grass under the
window and herself ran out into the street where she began playing
with friends and got so caught up in the games that she quite forgot
what she had been told. All of a sudden a flock of Swan-Geese came
flying up. They swept up the little boy and carried him off on their
wings.
The girl came home, and her brother was not there! She oh'd and
ah'd and rushed about looking for him, but there was not a sign of him
anywhere! She called to him, and she wept and sobbed, saying over and
over again that her mother and father would punish her, but he never
replied. Now, the Swan-Geese were known to be wicked birds who did
much evil and stole little children, and so, guessing that it was they
who had carried off her brother, she decided to run after them and to try
and overtake them. She ran and she ran and she came to an oven.
"Please, Oven, tell me where the Swan-Geese have flown," said she.
"Eat one of my rye buns, and I will." "A rye bun? Never! Why, at home
we don't even eat wheaten buns!" The oven kept mum and would tell
her nothing, and the girl ran on. By and by she came upon an appletree. "Please, Apple-Tree, tell me where the Swan-Geese have flown,"
said she. "Eat one of my wild apples, and I will!" "Not I! Why, at home
we don't even eat garden apples!" On she ran, and she came to a river
of milk with fruit jelly banks.
"Please, milk river with fruit jelly banks, tell me where the SwanGeese have flown," said she. "Eat some of my jelly with milk and I
will." "Not I! Why, at home we don't even eat jelly with cream!"
The girl ran on, and she would have been roaming the fields and
woods to this day if she hadn't been lucky enough to meet a hedgehog.
She wanted to push it away, but did not, for she was afraid of getting
pricked. "Please, Hedgehog, tell me, have you seen where the SwanGeese have flown?" she asked. "Over there.'" And he showed her
where. On she ran and she came to a hut on chicken feet which kept
turning round and round. Inside the hut sat Baba-Yaga the Witch with a

face lined and grey and a leg of clay, and on a bench beside her sat the
little girl's brother playing with some golden apples. The girl crept up
to him, seized him and carried him off with her. But the Swan-Geese,
wicked birds that they were, flew after her and if she did not want to
get into their clutches she had to find some place to hide. There before
her was the milk river with the fruit jelly banks, and she bent over it
and said: "Please, River, be a mother to me and hide me." "Have some
of my fruit jelly first!" There was nothing to be done, so she had some
of the jelly. The river hid her under its bank, and the Swan-Geese flew
past and never saw her. She thanked the river and ran on with her
brother, but the Swan-Geese had turned back and were flying straight
toward her. What was the girl to do! There before her was the appletree, so she turned to it and said: "Please, Apple-Tree, be a mother to
me and hide me!" "Eat one of my wild apples, and I will!" The girl ate
one quickly, and the apple-tree hid her and her little brother among its
leaves and branches. The Swan-Geese flew past, and the little girl
picked up her brother and ran on. The Swan-Geese saw her and flew
after her. They were very close now, they flapped their wings and were
about to tear her brother out of her arms at any moment! Luckily, there
was the oven just in front of her. "Please, Mistress Oven, hide me!" she
begged. "Have one of my rye buns, and I will!" The girl popped a rye
bun into her mouth and herself crawled into the oven. The Swan-Geese
flew round and round, screaming and honking, but after a while gave
up and flew away. The little girl ran home with her brother, and she got
there just in time, for her mother and father came in right after her.

Translated by Irina Zheleznova

Right and Wrong
In a certain realm there lived two peasants, Ivan and Naum. They
made friends and set off together to look for work. On and on they
went until they came to a prosperous village and hired themselves out
to different masters. They worked for a week and met up on Sunday.
"How much have you earned, brother?" asked Ivan. "The Lord has
given me five rubles." "The Lord! He won't give you a brass farthing, if
you don't earn it for yourself." "No, you are wrong, brother. Without
the Lord's help you can do nothing, not even earn a farthing!"
Thereupon they began to argue and at last agreed on this: "We'll both
walk along the road and ask the first person we meet who is right. The
one who loses must give all the money he has earned to the other." So
off they went. They had barely gone twenty paces, when they met an
evil spirit in human guise. They asked him their question, and he
replied: "What you earn, you earn yourself. It's no good relying on the
Lord. He won't give you a brass farthing!" So Naum gave all his money
to Ivan and returned to his master empty-handed. Another week passed.
The following Sunday the two men met again and had the same
argument. Naum said: "Even though you took all my money last week,
the Lord has given me more!" "Well," said Ivan, "if you really think
that the Lord gave it to you and not that you earned it, let's ask the first
person we meet again who is right. The one who is wrong must hand
over all his money and lose his right arm." Naum consented.
Off they went along the road and met the evil spirit again, who gave
the same answer as before. Ivan took his friend's money, cut off his
right arm and left him there. Naum wondered what he would do now
without an arm and who would feed him. But the Lord is merciful! He
went to the river and lay down on the bank under a boat. "I'll spend the
night here and decide what to do in the morning. Morning's wiser than
evening."
At the stroke of midnight a host of evil spirits assembled in the boat
and began to boast of the mischief they had wrought. One said: "I gave
false judgement in a quarrel between two men, and the man who was
right had his arm cut off." To which another replied: "That's nothing!
He need only roll in the dew three times and his arm will grow again!"
"I put the evil eye on a rich man's only daughter and she's almost
wasted away!" bragged a third. "Listen to that!" sneered a fourth.
"Anyone who feels sorry for the man can easily cure his daughter. Just
get hold of such-and-such a plant, boil it up and bathe her in the water.
She'll be as fit as a fiddle!" "I know a man who built a water mill and

has worked hard for years, all for nothing. As soon as he finishes the
weir, I make a hole in it and let the water out..." "Your miller's a fool!"
scoffed a sixth evil spirit. "He should line the weir with brushwood and
throw a sheaf of hay in when the water begins to run out: that would be
the end of you!"
Naum overheard all this. The next day he made his right arm grow
again, fixed the miller's weir and cured the rich man's daughter. The
miller and the rich man rewarded him generously, and he began to
prosper. One day he met his old friend, who was most surprised and
asked him how he had made his money and got his right arm back.
Naum told him the whole story, concealing nothing. Ivan listened and
thought: "Why don't I do the same and get even richer!" He went to the
river and lay down on the bank under the boat. At midnight the evil
spirits assembled. "Someone must be eavesdropping, brothers," said
one of them. "That man's arm has grown again, the rich man's daughter
is cured, and the weir is working properly."
They rushed to look under the boat, found Ivan and made
mincemeat of him. And so the biter was bit!

Translated by Kathleen Cook

Prince Ivan and Princess Martha
A certain king had a copper man with arms of steel and a head of
iron, a very artful character, whom he kept locked up in prison. The
king's son, Prince Ivan, was still a little boy. One day as he walked past
the prison, the old man called him over and said to him: "Please give
me a drink, Prince Ivan!" Prince Ivan was too small to know better, so
he got some water and gave it to him, whereupon the old man slipped
out of the prison and vanished. Word of this reached the king, who
ordered Prince Ivan to be banished from the realm. The king's word is
law. So Prince Ivan was banished forthwith and set off on his
wanderings.
On and on he went until he came to another kingdom, went straight
to the king and asked him for work. The king took him in and made
him a stable-boy. He did nothing but doze all day in the stables and
would not look after the horses. The head groom often beat him. But
Prince Ivan bore it all patiently. Then another king asked for this king's
daughter in marriage and was refused, so he declared war. Our king
went off with his army, leaving his fair daughter Princess Martha to
rule the land. She had noticed that the stable-boy was not of common
stock and sent him off to be the governor of somewhere or other.
Prince Ivan went to live and rule there. One day he decided to go
hunting. He had just set off when the copper man with arms of steel
and a head of iron popped up out of thin air. "Good-day, Prince Ivan!"
Prince Ivan returned his greeting. "Come and be my guest," said the
man. So off they went. The old man took him to a rich house and called
to his youngest daughter: "Bring us food and drink, and a gallon-sized
goblet of liquor!" They began to dine. The daughter brought in the
gallon-sized goblet of liquor and took it up to Prince Ivan. He refused
it, saying: "I couldn't manage all that!" The old man told him to have a
try. So he picked up the goblet and suddenly found the strength to drain
it in a single draught.
Then the old man took him out to try his strength. They came to a
stone weighing five hundred poods. "Pick up this stone, Prince Ivan,"
the old man said. "I can × lift that," Prince Ivan thought to himself.
"But I'll have a go." He picked it up and tossed it like a feather. "Where
did I get the strength?" he wondered again. "It must have been in that
liquor the old man gave me." They strolled on for a while, then turned
back. When they came back to the house, the old man called to the
middle daughter to bring two gallons of liquor. Prince Ivan grasped the
goblet boldly and drained it in a single draught. They went out for a

walk again and came to a stone weighing a thousand poods. "Now toss
this stone!" said the old man. Prince Ivan picked up the stone and
tossed it like a feather. "What strength I have inside me!" he thought to
himself.
Then back they went, and the old man called to the eldest daughter
to bring a three-gallon goblet of liquor. Prince Ivan drained this too in a
single draught. He and the old man went out for a walk. Prince Ivan
tossed a stone weighing two thousand poods with the greatest of ease.
Then the old man gave him a magic table-cloth and said: "There is
great strength inside you now, Prince Ivan. Your horse cannot carry
you! Strengthen the porch of your house, for it will not bear your
weight either. Get new chairs. And put more supports under the floors.
God be with you!" People laughed to see the governor returning from
the hunt on foot, leading his horse by the bridle. When he got home, he
ordered them to put more supports under the floors and make new
chairs. He sent away the cooks and chambermaids and lived on his own
like a hermit. Nobody cooked for him, and people marvelled that he did
not need to eat. The magic table-cloth was feeding him all the time, of
course.
He never went visiting, and indeed how could he? The houses could
not bear his weight.
Meanwhile the king returned from the wars, heard that Prince Ivan
was a governor and had him replaced and sent back to the stables.
There was nothing for it, so Prince Ivan became a stable-boy again.
One day the head groom gave him some orders and hit him. Prince Ivan
lost his temper, seized the head groom and knocked his head off. Word
of this reached the king. He summoned Prince Ivan. "Why did you
strike the groom?" asked the king. "He hit me first, Your Majesty, so I
hit him back, not very hard, on the head. And his head just fell off."
The other stable-boys said the same thing. The head groom had hit
Prince Ivan first, and Prince Ivan Mt him back; but not very hard. The
king did nothing to Prince Ivan, only made him a soldier instead of a
stable-boy. So Prince Ivan went off to the army.
Not long after this a thumb-sized mannikin with a long, long beard
brought a letter bearing three black seals from the Water King. It said
that if the king did not deliver his daughter, Princess Martha, to suchand-such an island on such-and-such a day to marry the Water King's
son, he would kill the lot of them and burn the whole kingdom to ashes.
A three-headed dragon would collect Princess Martha. The king read
the letter and sent a reply to the Water King consenting to the match.
He saw the mannikin off and summoned together his senators and
ministers to think up a way of saving his daughter from the three-

headed dragon. If he did not deliver her to the island, the whole
kingdom would be destroyed by the Water King. A proclamation was
issued calling for someone to save Princess Martha from the dragon.
The king promised his daughter's hand in return for this service.
A fine gentleman volunteered. He took a regiment of soldiers and
set off with Princess Martha for the island. There he left her in a cabin
and waited outside for the dragon. Meanwhile Prince Ivan heard that
Princess Martha had been taken to the Water King and he set off for the
island too. He came to the cabin, where Princess Martha was weeping.
"Do not weep, Princess," he said to her. "God is merciful!" He lay
down on the bench with his head on Princess Martha's lap and fell fast
asleep. Suddenly the dragon began to rise out of the water, sending up a
wave ten feet high. The fine gentleman was with the soldiers. When the
water began to rise, he ordered: "Quick march, into the forest." Off
scurried the soldiers into the forest. The dragon came out and made
straight for the cabin. Princess Martha saw it coming for her and woke
Prince Ivan. He jumped up, cut off the dragon's three heads with one
fell swoop, and went away. The fine gentleman took Princess Martha
home to her father.
Not long after that the thumb-sized mannikin with the long, long
beard came out of the water again bearing a letter with six black seals
from the Water King asking the king to deliver his daughter to a sixheaded dragon on the self-same island. If he did not, the Water King
threatened to flood the whole kingdom. The king once more wrote
consenting to deliver Princess Martha. The mannikin went away. The
king issued a proclamation, and notices were put up all over the land,
calling for someone to save Princess Martha from the dragon. The same
fine gentleman turned up and said: "I'll save her, Your Majesty, only
give me a regiment of soldiers." "Don't you need more than that? It's a
six-headed dragon this time." "That will do. It's more than enough for
me."
They made ready and went off with Princess Martha. Prince Ivan
learnt that Princess Martha was in danger again and, remembering her
kindness in making him a governor, he set off once again, on foot or
horseback, I cannot say. He found Princess Martha in the cabin and
went in to her. She was waiting for him and was overjoyed to see him.
He lay down and fell fast asleep. Suddenly the six-headed dragon
began to rise out of the water, sending up a wave twenty feet high. The
fine gentleman and the soldiers were safe in the forest. The dragon
made for the cabin. Princess Martha woke Prince Ivan. He and the
dragon grappled and fought. Prince Ivan cut off one head, another, a
third, then all the rest, threw them into the water and walked away as

cool as a cucumber. The fine gentleman came out of the forest with the
soldiers, went back and told the king that the Lord had helped him to
save Princess Martha. He must have threatened her in some way, for
she dared not say that someone else had rescued her. The fine
gentleman wanted them to fix the wedding day there and then. But
Princess Martha said they must wait. "Give me time to get over the
shock," she said. "I had a really nasty fright."
Suddenly the thumb-sized mannikin with the long, long beard came
out of the water again bearing a letter with nine black seals that asked
the king to deliver Princess Martha to a nine-headed dragon on suchand-such an island and such-and-such a day and said that if he did not
his whole kingdom would be flooded. The king again wrote his
consent, then set about looking for someone to save the princess from
the nine-headed dragon. The same fine gentleman volunteered again
and set off with a regiment of soldiers and Princess Martha.
Prince Ivan heard of this, made ready and set off to where Princess
Martha was waiting for him. When he arrived, she was overjoyed and
asked him who he was, what he was called and who his parents were.
He said nothing, but lay down and fell fast asleep. Then the nineheaded dragon began to rise out of the water, sending up a wave thirty
feet high. "Quick march into the forest!" the fine gentleman ordered the
soldiers. Off they scurried. Princess Martha tried to wake Prince Ivan,
but in vain. The dragon was on the threshold. She burst into tears; for
she could not rouse Prince Ivan. The dragon slithered up to Prince
Ivan! He lay fast asleep. Now Princess Martha had a penknife. She
gashed Prince Ivan's cheek with it. He awoke, sprang to his feet, and
grappled with the dragon. The dragon began to get the better of Prince
Ivan. Suddenly out of thin air up popped the copper man with arms of
steel and a head of iron. Together they chopped off all the dragon's
heads, threw them into the water and went away. The fine gentleman
was as pleased as punch; he hopped out of the forest, went back to his
kingdom and began pestering the king to fix the wedding day there and
then. Princess Martha kept saying: "Wait till I've got over the shock.
That was a really nasty fright."
The thumb-sized mannikin with the long, long beard brought
another letter. The Water King demanded to have the guilty person.
The fine gentleman didn't want to go to the Water King, but they made
him. A boat was prepared and off they set. Prince Ivan happened to be
serving in the navy and somehow managed to be on the same boat.
Suddenly they met another boat, flying like the wind. "Who is the
guilty one? Who is the guilty one?" came the shouts from it as it sped
past. A little later they met another boat. "Who is the guilty one? Who

is the guilty one?" Prince Ivan pointed to the fine gentleman. They beat
him to within an inch of his life and sailed on.
Then they came to the Water King. The Water King ordered an iron
bath to be filled to the top with boiling water and the guilty person to
be put into it. The fine gentleman took fright. His heart sank into his
boots! This was the end! But with Prince Ivan was a man from the navy
who had seen that Prince Ivan was not of common stock and stayed to
serve him. Prince Ivan said to him: "Go and sit in the bath." The
servant ran off and did as he was told, and nothing happened to the
devil. He came back unscathed. Again the guilty one was summoned,
this time to appear before the Water King himself. They took the fine
gentleman to him. The Water King cursed him roundly, beat him
soundly, and bade them take him away. So back home they all went.
At home the fine gentleman was more conceited than ever and kept
pestering the king to name the wedding day. The king agreed and the
date was fixed. You should have seen how high and mighty the fine
gentleman got then, strutting around and looking down his nose at
everybody. But the Princess said to her father: "Have all the soldiers
lined up, Sire. I want to inspect them." No sooner said than done.
Princess Martha walked up and down until she came to Prince Ivan.
She looked at his cheek and saw the scar from the cut with the
penknife. Then she took Prince Ivan by the hand and led him to her
father. "Here is the man who rescued me from the dragon, Sire. I didn't
know who he was, but now I recognise him by the scar on his cheek.
The fine gentleman hid in the forest with the soldiers!" Straightway the
soldiers were asked if this were really so. "Yes, Your Majesty," they
replied. "The fine gentleman was scared out of his wits!" So the fine
gentleman was stripped of all his honours; but Prince Ivan married
Princess Martha and they lived happily ever after.

Translated by Kathleen Cook

The Three Kingdoms
In a certain kingdom, in a certain realm there lived a king by the
name of Bel-Belianin who had a wife named Nastasya the Golden Plait
and three sons, Prince Pyotr, Prince Vassily and Prince Ivan. One day
the queen and her women and maids went for a walk in the garden. All
of a sudden a great whirlwind arose and it caught up the queen, which
God forbid should happen to anyone, and carried her off none knew
where.
The king was very sad and woebegone and did not know what to do,
but when his sons had grown to manhood he said to them: "My dear
sons, my beloved sons, will not one of you go to seek your mother?"
The two elder sons did not delay but set off at once, and the third and
youngest son began pleading with his father to let him go too. "No, my
son, you mustn't leave me, an old man, all alone," said the king. "Please
let me go, Father! I do so want to travel over the world and find my
mother." The king reasoned with him, but, seeing that he could not stop
him from going, said: "Oh, all right then, I suppose it can't be helped.
Go and God be with you!"
Prince Ivan saddled his trusty steed and set forth from home.
Whether he was long on the way or not nobody knows, for a tale is
quick in the telling and a deed is slow in the doing, but by and by he
came to a forest where stood a most beautiful palace. Prince Ivan rode
into the yard, and a large yard it was, and, seeing an old man coming
toward him, said: "Good morrow, old man, and many long years of life
to you!" "Welcome, welcome, my brave lad! And who may you be?" "I
am Prince Ivan, son of King Bel-Belianin and Queen Nastasya the
Golden Plait." "Then you are my own nephew! Whither are you
bound?" "I am seeking my mother. Do you know where she is to be
found, Uncle?" "No, my lad, I don't. But I'll do what I can for you. Here
is a little ball. Throw it down before you, and it will start rolling and
bring you to a tall, steep mountain with a cave in it. Go into the cave,
take the iron claws that you will see there, fit them on to your hands
and feet and climb the mountain. You may well find your mother on its
top."
Well and good. Prince Ivan bade his uncle farewell and threw the
ball before him. On the ball rolled, and he rode after it. Whether a short
or a long time passed nobody knows, but by and by he came to a field
and whom should he see there but his brothers Prince Pyotr and Prince
Vassily surrounded by a host of fighting men. The brothers rode forth
to meet him. "Where are you going, Prince Ivan?" they asked. "I got

bored staying at home and thought I would go to seek our mother. Send
your men home and come with me." The brothers did as he said. The)
sent the men home and joined him, and the three of them followed the
ball together.
By and by they saw the mountain, and so tall and steep was it that it
touched the sky with its peak! The ball rolled up straight to a cave, and
Prince Ivan got off his horse and said to his brothers: "Stay here and
look after my horse, brothers, and I will climb the mountain and try to
find our mother. Wait for me for three months, and if I am not back by
then, you will know that it's no use waiting any longer." "A man can
break his neck climbing a mountain like that!" thought the brothers, but
they said to him: "Very well, then, go with God and we will wait for
you here."
Prince Ivan came up to the cave, gave its door of iron a mighty push
and sent it flying open. He came inside, and the iron claws jumped up
and fixed themselves to his hands and feet. But it took all of his
strength to climb the mountain, and a whole month passed before he at
last reached its top. "God be thanked, I'm here at last!" said he. He
rested awhile and then went on. He walked and he walked, and,
standing before him, saw a palace of copper. Chained to the gate with
copper chains were the most fearful of dragons, while close by was a
well with a copper dipper dangling at the end of a copper chain. Prince
Ivan scooped up some water and gave the dragons a drink, and, thus
having quietened them, passed on into the palace where he was met by
the Princess of the Copper Kingdom.
"Who are you, brave youth?" she asked. "I am Prince Ivan." "Is it of
your own free will that you have come here, Prince Ivan, or at another's
bidding?" "Of my own free will. I am seeking my mother, Nastasya the
Golden Plait, who was carried off by Whirlwind. Do you happen to
know where she is?" "No, I don't. But my middle sister the Princess of
the Silver Kingdom, lives nearby, and she may know." And she
brought out a copper ball and a copper ring and gave them to him.
"This ball," said she, "will lead you to my middle sister, and in this ring
is the whole of my Copper Kingdom. When you have vanquished
Whirlwind, who keeps me captive here and comes to see me every
three months, do not forget me, unhappy soul that I am, but deliver me
from captivity and take me with you to where I can be free." "Very
well, I'll do that," said Prince Ivan. He cast the copper ball down on the
ground, started it rolling and went after it.
He came to the Silver Kingdom and saw before him a palace that
was made of silver and was even more beautiful than the copper one.
Chained with silver chains to the gate were fearful dragons, and close

by was a well with a silver dipper. Prince Ivan scooped up some water
and gave it to the dragons to drink, and they lay down on the ground
and let him pass on into the palace where he was met by the Princess of
the Silver Kingdom. "It will be three years soon that I have been kept
here by Whirlwind, and I have not seen a Russian face or heard Russian
speech in all that time," said she. "Who are you, brave youth?" "I am
Prince Ivan." "Have you come here of your own free will or at another's
bidding?" "Of my own free will. I am seeking my mother whom
Whirlwind seized when she was out walking in the garden and carried
off none knows where. Do you know where I can find her?" "No, I
don't. But my elder sister, Elena the Fair, the Princess of the Golden
Kingdom, lives nearby, and she may know. Here is a silver ball for
you. Send it rolling and follow it, and it will lead you to the Golden
Kingdom. And when you have killed Whirlwind do not forget me,
unhappy soul that I am, but deliver me from captivity and take me with
you to where I can be free. For Whirlwind keeps me captive here and
comes to see me every two months." She gave him a silver ring and
said: "My whole Silver Kingdom is in this ring." And Prince Ivan sent
the silver ball rolling along and went after it.
Whether a short or a long time passed nobody knows, but by and by
he saw before him a palace of gold that flamed like fire. Fearful
dragons, chained to the wall with chains of gold, guarded the gate, and
close by was a well with a dipper of gold dangling at the end of a gold
chain. Prince Ivan scooped up a dipperful of water and gave the
dragons a drink, and they quietened and lay down on the ground so that
he was able to pass on into the palace. Elena the Fair met him there and
asked him who he was. "I am Prince Ivan." "Have you come here of
your own free will or at another's bidding?" "Of my own free will. I am
seeking my mother, Nastasya the Golden Plait. Do you know where I
can find her?" "That I do. She lives nearby, and Whirlwind comes to
see her once a week and me, once a month. Here is a gold ball for you.
Send it rolling along and go after it, and it will lead you wherever you
wish to go. And take this gold ring, too; in it is the whole of the Golden
Kingdom. But mind this, Prince Ivan: when you have vanquished
Whirlwind, do not forget me, unhappy soul that I am, but take me with
you to where I can be free." "I'll not forget you, " said the Prince.
He sent-the ball rolling along and went after it, he walked and he
walked, and he came to a palace that flamed like fire so many were the
diamonds and other gems studding its walls. By the gate were sixheaded dragons that hissed as he came near, but Prince Ivan gave them
water to drink and they quietened and let him pass on into the palace.
Many were the chambers he passed through, and in the last one, sitting

on a high throne, he found his mother. She was garbed in royal
garments and had on a gem-studded crown. She glanced up as he came
in, and seeing who it was, cried: "Dear God in Heaven, is it you, my
beloved son? How did you get here?" He told her all about everything
and then said: "1 have come for you." "It is a hard task you have set
yourself, my son," said she. "For .the ruler of this mountain is
Whirlwind who is as mighty as he is evil and who holds all the spirits
in his sway. It was he who carried me off, and it is him you will have to
grapple with! Now come down into the cellar with me."
They went down into the cellar, and there were two tubs of water
there, one standing near the right wall and the other, near the left one.
"Drink some water out of the tub that is near the right wall," said
Nastasya the Golden Plait. Prince Ivan did as she told him. "How
strong do you feel?" she asked him. "So strong that I know I could turn
this whole palace round with one hand if I chose!" "Take another sip
from the same tub." Prince Ivan bent down and took another sip. "And
how strong do you feel now?" "So strong that I know I could turn the
whole world upside down!" "That makes you very strong indeed! And
now move the tub that is near the right wall to the left wall, and the one
near the left wall to the right one." Prince Ivan did as she told him.
"The tub you drank from is filled with strong water, my dear son," his
mother said, "and the other, with strengthless water. He who drinks of
the first will become very, very strong, and he who drinks of the
second, very weak. Now, Whirlwind always drinks out of the first tub,
which he keeps near the right wall, and if we are to get the better of him
we must trick him."
They climbed the cellar stairs and were soon back in the self-same
chamber, and his mother told Prince Ivan that Whirlwind would soon
be coming home. "Hide under my mantle that he might not see you,"
she said. "And as soon as he flies in and begins embracing and kissing
me, grab hold of his cudgel and don't let go of it. He will rise high into
the air and carry you over mountains and seas, but you must never
loosen your hold. He will tire after a while, and, wanting to drink of the
strong water, come down into the cellar and rush to the tub we have put
near the right wall. He will drink from it, and you must drink from the
other one. When you see that he has lost all of his strength, you must
seize his sword and smite off his head with one blow. When you have
done that, you will hear voices telling you to smite again. Do not heed
them but say in reply: 'A true knight never smites but once!' "
No sooner had Prince Ivan hidden himself under his mother's mantle
than it grew dark outside, everything around them began to shake and
to tremble, and Whirlwind came flying up. He struck the ground,

turned into a tall and handsome man and came into the palace, a great
cudgel in his hand. "Fee-fo-fum! I smell Russian flesh. Has anyone
been here?" "No, and I don't know what makes you think so," the queen
said. Whirlwind threw his arms around her and began kissing her, and
Prince Ivan grabbed hold of his cudgel. "I'll soon do away with you!"
Whirlwind cried. "That remains to be seen. You might and then again
you might not." At this Whirlwind flew out through the window and
soared to the sky, and he bore Prince Ivan away with him. They flew
over a mountain, and Whirlwind said, "I'll dash you to the ground and
kill you!" They flew over the sea, and he said, "I'll throw you down and
drown you!" But he could not make good his threats, for Prince Ivan
held on to the cudgel and would not let go of it.
Whirlwind flew all round the world, and at last, feeling weary, he
came down to the ground and into the cellar. Not knowing that it was
filled with strengthless water, he rushed to the tub that stood near the
right wall and began drinking from it, and Prince Ivan let him do it and
himself drank from the tub that stood near the left wall and that was
filled with strong water. Very soon Whirlwind lost all his strength
while Prince Ivan became the strongest man that ever lived. Snatching
his sabre from him, he smote off Whirlwind's head, and the moment he
had done so he heard voices calling from behind him: "Smite again,
smite again or he will come back to life!" "No," said Prince Ivan, "a
true knight never smites but once." He made up a fire, burnt
Whirlwind's head and his body and cast the ashes into the wind.
Nastasya the Golden Plait was overjoyed. "Let us now make merry and
eat and drink, my son," said she, "and then make haste and set out for
home, for this is a dull place with no one to talk to even." "Who is to
serve us, then, if no one lives here?" "That you shall see." And before
another word was said the table was covered with a cloth, and all sorts
of foods and drinks appeared on it. And as they ate, the sound of music
fell on their ears and someone they could not see sang to them. They
ate and they drank and had a rest, and Prince Ivan said: "It is time to
go, Mother! My two brothers are waiting for us at the foot of the
mountain, and I still have to free the three princesses whom Whirlwind
has been keeping captive."
They took every thing they needed and set out on their way. They
freed the three Princesses and taking away a length of cloth as well as
many of the fine and costly things they found in the three palaces, went
on and soon came to the place where they could begin their descent
from the mountain. Prince Ivan tied his mother to the cloth first and let
her down on it, and then he let down Elena the Fair and her two sisters.
His two brothers stood below watching and said: "We'll leave Prince

Ivan on the mountain top, and we'll take our mother and the three
princesses to our father and tell him that it was we who found and freed
them." "I will marry Elena the Fair, and you the Princess of the Silver
Kingdom," said Prince Pyotr to Prince Vassily, "and the Princess of the
Copper Kingdom will have to be content with a general."
It was now the turn of Prince Ivan to let himself down from the
mountain, but his brothers seized the bottom end of the cloth and
ripped it off. Prince Ivan was left on the top of the mountain and there
was nothing he could do. He burst into tears and went back along the
road, but though he walked all over the Copper Kingdom, the Silver
Kingdom and the Golden Kingdom, not a soul did he see. He came to
the Diamond Kingdom, but there was no one there either, and he felt so
lonely he wanted to die. Then, lying on the window sill in one of the
palace chambers, he saw a pipe. "I think I'll play a little tune just to
keep boredom away," said he picking it up. He put the pipe to his lips
and blew, and as if out of nowhere there appeared before him a lame
man and a one-eyed man. "What can we do for you, Prince Ivan?"
asked they. "I'm hungry. Bring me something to eat." And lo!—quick
as lightning the table was set and the best of foods and drinks appeared
on it. Prince Ivan ate and then he said to himself: "And now I wouldn't
mind having a rest." He put the pipe to his lips and blew, and the lame
man and the one-eyed man appeared. "What can we do for you, Prince
Ivan?" they asked. "Make a bed for me." No sooner were the words out
of his mouth than the bed was made, and it was the softest he had ever
slept on.
He had a good sleep and then blew upon his pipe again. "What can
we do for you?" asked the lame man and the one-eyed man. "Does that
mean that I can ask for anything and it will be done?" asked Prince
Ivan. "Yes, anything at all, Prince Ivan. All you have to do is blow
upon the pipe. Just as we were ready to serve Whirlwind before, so are
we ready to serve you now. Only you must have the pipe with you
always." "Good!" said Prince Ivan, and he added: "I wish to be back in
my own realm." And no sooner had he said this than he found himself
in his own realm, at a market-place. He walked along, and there,
coming toward him, he saw a shoemaker, as jolly a fellow as ever
lived. "Where are you going, my man?" asked Prince Ivan. "To sell a
pair of boots. I'm a shoemaker." "How would you like me to work for
you?" "Can you make shoes?" "Yes, and clothes, too. I can do
anything." "Good! Come along, then!"
They came to the shoemaker's house, and the shoemaker said:
"Now, then, make me a pair of boots out of this piece of leather, and it's
fine leather, believe me you. I want to see what you can do." He

showed Prince Ivan into the room he was to live in and left him there.
Prince Ivan got out his pipe and blew upon it, and the lame man and the
one-eyed man appeared before him. "What can we do for you, Prince
Ivan?" they asked. "I want you to make me a pair of boots, to be ready
by tomorrow." "It shall be done!" "Here, take this piece of leather." "A
poor piece, if ever there was one! It ought to be thrown out." Morning
came, Prince Ivan rose, and there on the table stood a beautiful pair of
boots! The shoemaker too got up from bed. "Are the boots ready?" he
asked. "They are," said Prince Ivan. "Well, then, let me see them!"
Prince Ivan brought out the boots, and the shoemaker took one look at
them and gasped in wonder. "I have found myself a master shoemaker,
a man with magic fingers!" he cried. And he took the boots and made
for the market-place with them.
Now, at this same time preparations for three weddings were under
way in the palace: Prince Pyotr was marrying Elena the Fair, Prince
Vassily, the Princess of the Silver Kingdom, and a general the Princess
of the Copper Kingdom. Finery of all sorts was being purchased for the
brides and grooms, and Elena the Fair said that she needed a pair of
boots. Now, as no boots better than the ones the shoemaker was
offering could be found, he was at once brought to the palace. And
Elena the Fair took one look at them and said: "Such boots can only
have been made in Whirlwind's palace!" She paid the shoemaker a
large sum of money and bade him make her another pair. "They must
be ornamented with diamonds and other precious stones," said she.
"And I will not have you measuring my feet. Just remember this. If
they are not ready by breakfast-time tomorrow, you shall be hanged!"
The shoemaker took the money and the gems with which the boots
were to be ornamented and left the palace with hanging head.
"Unhappy man that I am! What am I to do?" he said to himself. "How
can I have the boots ready by tomorrow? It's the gallows for me and no
mistake! I think I had better have a drink or two with my friends before
I die." He stepped into an inn where he found some of his friends, of
whom he had many, and, seeing him, they asked why he was so glum.
"Ah, my friends, I'm to be hanged tomorrow!" "Hanged? What for?"
The shoemaker told them about the boots he had been ordered to make.
"It's no use trying to work!" said he. "Let's drink and make merry
instead." They drank and made merry, and by the time the day was
drawing to a close the shoemaker could hardly stand on his feet he was
so drunk. "I think I'll take a keg of wine home and go to bed," said he.
"And when they come for me tomorrow, I'll down a half of it. A man
can't feel the rope round his neck when he's dead drunk." He came
home and said to Prince Ivan: "See what those boots of yours have

done, curse you! I'm to be hanged. Wake me when they come for me
tomorrow morning."
Night came, Prince Ivan got out his pipe and blew upon it, and the
lame man and the one-eyed man appeared. "What can we do for you,
Prince Ivan?" they asked. "You are to make me a pair of boots to be
ready by morning," said he, and he told them what kind of boots were
wanted. "It shall be done!" Prince Ivan went to bed and to sleep, and in
the morning, there were the boots standing on the table, the gems on
them sparkling and glittering. "Time to get up, Master!" he called to the
shoemaker. "Have they come for me, then? Bring the keg of wine and
pour me a cupful, let them hang me drank." "But the boots are ready,
Master." "What! Where are they?" He rushed into Prince Ivan's room,
and, seeing the boots, said: "When did you and I manage to make
them?" "During the night, Master. Don't you remember?" "No, I'm that
fuzzy. I don't."
He took the boots, wrapped them up and ran to the palace, and when
Elena the Fair saw them she at once knew that it was Whirlwind's two
servants who had made them. "How ever did you manage to make
these boots?" asked she of the shoemaker. "I can do anything!" "If that
is so, then make me a wedding dress sewn with gold and studded with
diamonds and other precious stones. And it must be ready by tomorrow
or I'll have you put to death!" The shoemaker left the palace with
hanging head. His friends, who had been waiting for him, greeted him
and asked how he had fared. "It's cursed I am!" he told them. "Elena the
Fair will drive all us good Christians to our grave! She's ordered me to
make her a dress sewn with gold and studded with precious stones, and
what sort of a tailor am I! I'm sure to be put to death." "Let's have a
drink or two now, friend, and then you can go to bed. Night is the
mother of wisdom, don't forget."
They went to an inn and drank and made merry, and by and by the
shoemaker was so drank he could hardly stand. He dragged a keg of
wine home with him and said to Prince Ivan: "Wake me tomorrow and
I'll down this whole keg of wine. I want to be drank when they chop off
my head. For never in my life can I hope to make a dress like the one
demanded of me." He went to bed and was soon snoring loudly, and
Prince Ivan put his pipe to his lips and blew. The lame man and the
one-eyed man appeared and asked him what they could do for him. "I
want a dress to be made by tomorrow, and it must be as fine as the ones
Elena the Fair wore when she lived in Whirlwind's palace." "It shall be
done!" Prince Ivan woke at dawn, and there was the dress lying on the
table and sparkling so brightly that it lit up the whole room. So he went
and roused the shoemaker who rubbed his eyes and said: "Have they

come for me, then? Hurry and bring the wine!" "But the dress is all
ready." "Is it? When did we make it?" "During the night. It was you did
the cutting." "Did I? I'm that fuzzy I don't remember." And taking the
dress, the shoemaker ran to the palace.
Elena the Fair gave him a large sum of money and said: "You are to
build a kingdom of gold in the middle of the sea and also a bridge of
gold that will connect this palace with it. The bridge is to be carpeted
with the richest of velvets, beautiful trees are to grow on either side of
it, and songbirds are to sit in them and sing away for all they are worth.
And if it is not ready by breakfast-time tomorrow, I shall have you
quartered!" The shoemaker left the palace with hanging head. "Well,
how was it?" his friends asked him. "It's the end of me, I am to be
quartered tomorrow. She's set me such a task that the devil himself
could not cope with it!" "Now, now, let's go and have a drink and then
you can go to bed. Night is the mother of wisdom, don't forget." "And
why not! A man should have a little pleasure before he dies."
They went to an inn and drank much wine, and so drank was the
shoemaker by evening that his friends had to drag him home.
"Goodbye, my lad!" said he to Prince Ivan. "I am to be put to death
tomorrow." "Have you been set another task?" "Yes." He told Prince
Ivan what it was, went to bed and was soon snoring away. And Prince
Ivan went to his own room and blew upon his pipe. The lame man and
the one-eyed man appeared and asked him what they could do for him.
He told them what it was he wanted done, and they said: "That is no
easy task, Prince Ivan, but never fear, everything will be done by
tomorrow morning." Prince Ivan woke just as day broke, he looked out
of the window, and lo and behold!—there stood the palace of gold
flaming like fire. Prince Ivan roused the shoemaker who jumped to his
feet with a start. "What is it? Have they come for me? Bring the wine,
quick! I want to be put to death drunk." "But the palace has been built."
"It has?" And the shoemaker glanced out of the window and gasped in
wonder. "When was it built?" he asked. "Don't you remember? You
and I worked very, very hard." "I must have slept so soundly I forgot
all about it."
They hurried to the golden palace and found it to be full of treasures
such as no one had seen or heard of before. Said Prince Ivan: "Here is a
feather duster for you, Master. Go and dust the railings, and if anyone
comes and asks you who lives in the palace, don't say a word but just
give them this note." Off went the shoemaker and began dusting the
railings, and Elena the Fair, who had just risen from bed, saw the
golden bridge and hurried to tell the king about it. "Just look, Your
Majesty!" she cried. "A palace of gold has been built in the middle of

the sea, and a bridge too that connects it with your palace. And on
either side of the bridge grow the most beautiful trees in which sit
songbirds that fill the air with their music."
The king, who feared that some great warrior was about to lay siege
to his kingdom, at once sent envoys to ask what it all could mean. And
the shoemaker being on the bridge, the envoys addressed all their
questions to him. "I know nothing, but here is a note you can take to
your king," the shoemaker said. Now, in the note Prince Ivan had told
his father all about everything, about how he had freed his mother and
Elena the Fair and about how his elder brothers had tricked him. And
he sent coaches of gold for the king and queen, asking them to pay him
a visit together with Elena the Fair and her sisters. He invited his
brothers too, but said that they were to travel in an ordinary peasant
sled.
The king and queen and the rest did not delay but set off at once,
and Prince Ivan welcomed them with great joy. The king wanted to
punish his two elder sons for what they had done, but Prince Ivan
pleaded with him not to and he forgave them. A great feast was then
held, and Prince Ivan married Elena the Fair. He gave the Princess of
the Silver Kingdom in marriage to Prince Pyotr, and the Princess of the
Copper Kingdom, to Prince Vassily, and he had the shoemaker made
general.
I was at the feast too, and I drank mead and wine, but all of it ran
down this beard of mine.

Translated by Irina Zheleznova

Evening, Midnight and Dawn
In a certain realm there once lived a king who had three daughters so
beautiful as cannot be described. The king treasured them as the apple
of his eye and had underground chambers built where they were kept
like birds in a cage that the wild winds might not blow on them or the
bright sun burn them with its rays. One day the three princesses read in
a book about the wonders of the great wide world, and when the king
came to pay them a visit, they began pleading with him with tears in
their eyes to let them out of their chambers. "Please, Father, you who
are our king and ruler, let us out for a walk in the green garden that we
may see the light of day!" they said. The king tried to talk them out of
it, but they would not listen to him, and the more often he entreated
them to think better of it the more they badgered him and the louder
they begged him to do as they wished. It could not be helped, and the
king gave in.
The beautiful princesses came out for a walk in the garden, they saw
the bright sun and the trees and flowers and took great joy in being free
and out in the fresh air. They ran about and played, marvelling at every
blade of grass and every flower, when all of a sudden the wild wind
caught them up and carried them off none knew where. Their maids
and women were greatly alarmed and ran to tell the king about it, and
the king at once sent his many faithful servants to all parts of the realm,
promising that he who found some sign of them would be richly
rewarded. But though the servants searched far and near, they came
back with nothing to show for it. The king then called together the
highest of his courtiers and asked them if there was not one among
them who would undertake to try to find his daughters. And he said
that he who found them would get whichever one he chose of the three
in marriage and a dowry that would make him rich for the rest of his
life. He addressed the courtiers once, and they were silent; he addressed
them a second time, and they said nothing; he addressed them for a
third time, and they uttered not a word! The king burst into tears. "It
seems I have no friends or defenders to help me in my trouble," he said.
And he had it heralded throughout the realm that he was waiting for
someone from among the ordinary folk to come forward and offer to
find his daughters.
Now, at that selfsame time, in a certain village there lived a poor
widow who had three sons, strong and fearless lads all three. They had
been born on one day: the eldest son in the evening, the middle son at
midnight, and the youngest son at dawn, and because of that were

named Evening, Midnight and Dawn. Hearing of the call put out by the
king, they asked their mother's blessing, made ready and rode off for
the king's own city. They came to the palace, bowed low before the
king and said: "May you prosper for many years to come, Sire! We
have not come here to feast but to serve you. Allow us to go to seek the
princesses." "May good luck attend you, brave youths! What are your
names?" "We are brothers, and our names are Evening, Midnight and
Dawn." "Is there anything I can do for you before you go?" "We want
nothing for ourselves, Sire, but do not leave our mother in her old age;
help her if she should be in want." The king did as they asked. He had
their mother brought to the palace to live there for as long as she
desired, and he gave orders that she should share of his board and be
given clothes to wear from his own coffers.
The three brothers set out on their way, they rode for a month, and
another, and a third, and they came to a great and empty plain. Beyond
it stretched a dense forest, and they were halfway through it when there
before them they saw a little hut. They knocked at the window, but
there was no reply; they came inside, and there was no one there.
"Well, brothers, let us stay here awhile and rest from our journey," they
said. They took off their clothes, said their prayers and went to bed, and
on the following morning Dawn said to his elder brother Evening:
"Midnight and I will go off to hunt, and you must stay home and
prepare our dinner for us." To this Evening agreed, and there being a
shed full of sheep near the hut, he slaughtered the best one he could
find among them and roasted it. Then, everything being ready, he lay
down on a bench for a sleep. All of a sudden there came a great
thumping and banging, the door opened, and a bearded old man the size
of a thumb stepped into the hut looking glum as glum. "How dared you
play the master in my house, how dared you slaughter my sheep!" he
cried. "First grow a wee bit so a man can tell you from a bug!" Evening
said. "You don't want me to drown you in a spoonful of soup, do you!"
The little old man became angrier still. "I'm small but bold and can
knock you out cold!" he cried. And grabbing a crust of bread, he began
hitting Evening over the head with it and gave him such a walloping
that he was all but dead by the time he got through with him. Then he
thrust him under the bench, ate up the roasted sheep and went away.
And as for Evening, he came to after a while, tied a rag round his head
and lay there moaning. The two brothers came back, and, seeing him in
so sorry a state, asked what had happened. "Well, you see, brothers, I
lit the oven and got such a terrible headache from the heat that I lay
around all day in a half-swoon and could not cook anything."

On the following day Dawn and Evening went off to hunt, and they
left Midnight at home to prepare the dinner.
Midnight lit the oven, slaughtered the fattest sheep he could find in
the shed and, having roasted it, lay down on the bench for a sleep.
All of a sudden there was a great thumping and banging, and a little
old man the size of a thumb came into the hut looking glum as glum.
He fell on Midnight, gave him such a walloping that he was all but
dead by the time he was through with him, and, having eaten the
roasted sheep, went away. And Midnight tied a rag round his head and
lay moaning under the bench. Dawn and Evening came back, and
Dawn asked him what had happened to him. "I lit the oven and got
such a headache from the fumes that I had to lie around all day and
could not cook anything," Midnight said.
On the third day the two elder brothers went off to hunt, and Dawn
stayed home. He slaughtered the best sheep he could find in the shed,
skinned and roasted it, and, this done, lay down on the bench for a
sleep.
All of a sudden there was a great thumping and banging, and a little
old man the size of a thumb came into the yard looking glum as glum.
He had a whole stack of hay on his head and a large tub of water in his
hands, and having set the tub of water down on the ground and strewn
the hay over the yard, began counting the sheep. Seeing that one sheep
was missing, he flew into a temper, ran into the hut, threw himself at
Dawn and gave him a sharp knock on the head. But Dawn jumped up,
clutched the little old man by the beard and began dragging him over
the floor, saying as he did so, "Look before you leap if it's whole you
would keep!"
"Have mercy on me, brave youth!" cried the little old man. "Spare
my life and let me go!" But Dawn dragged him out into the yard and up
to a pillar of oak, and, using a wedge of iron, stuck his beard into a split
in the wood. Then he came back into the hut and sat there waiting for
his brothers. The brothers were soon back and they marvelled to see
him unharmed. "Come out into the yard with me, brothers, and you'll
see your 'headache'," said Dawn with a laugh. They came out into the
yard, but the little old man was gone, and all they saw was a part of his
beard sticking out from the split and a trail of blood on the ground.
The trail led the brothers to a deep pit, and Dawn went to the forest,
stripped some bark off a tree, made a rope out of it and told Evening
and Midnight to let him down into the pit on it. This they did, and,
finding that he was in the netherworld, Dawn untied himself and set off
along a road that stretched before him and led he knew not where. He
walked and he walked, and there before him was a palace of copper. He

stepped inside, and the youngest of the princesses, a maid as lovely as a
flower, came toward him. "Is it of your own free will or at another's
bidding that you have come here, brave youth?" she asked. "It was your
father who sent me to seek you and your sisters," Dawn told her. The
princess at once seated him at a table, dined and wined him and then
gave him a phial of strong water. "Here, drink this water, and it will
make you very, very strong," said she. Dawn drank the water and at
once felt himself to be filled with a great strength. "Now I can get the
better of anyone!" said he to himself.
All of a sudden a wild wind began to blow, and the princess was
frightened. "The three-headed dragon is coming!" she cried, and she
took Dawn by the hand and hid him in her chamber. The dragon now
came flying up, and he struck the ground and turned into a man. "I
smell Russian flesh!" he cried. "Is anyone here?" "How could there
be!" the princess said. "You have been flying over Russ and must have
brought the smell of Russian flesh with you." The dragon asked her to
give him food and drink, and she brought in a plate of food and a
goblet of wine, and, first having added a sleeping powder to the wine,
offered it to him. The dragon ate and drank, and, feeling very sleepy,
placed his head on the princess's lap and fell fast asleep. The princess at
once called Dawn, who came out of his hiding-place and smote off all
of the dragon's three heads with one stroke of his sword. He then made
up a fire, burnt the dragon's body and strewed the ashes over the plain.
"And now I must bid you goodbye, Princess," said Dawn, "for I am
off to seek your sisters. But I will come back for you as soon as I find
them."
He set off on his way, he walked and he walked, and there before
him rose a silver palace in which the middle sister was kept captive by
a six-headed dragon. Dawn killed the dragon, freed the princess and
went on. Whether a short or a long time passed nobody knows, but he
came at last to a palace of gold where the eldest princess was kept
captive by a twelve-headed dragon. He killed the dragon, and the
princess was overjoyed and prepared to set out for home. She came out
into the courtyard and waved a red kerchief, and the kingdom of gold
turned into a golden egg. This she put in her pocket and went with
Dawn to where he had left her sisters. Then after the middle princess
had turned her kingdom into a silver egg and the younger sister had
turned hers into a copper egg, the four of them made for the bottom of
the pit. Evening and Midnight dragged Dawn and the three princesses
out of the pit, and they all went back together to their own realm. The
princesses sent the eggs rolling over the plain, and at once the three
kingdoms, one of copper, one of silver and one of gold, appeared

before them. They came to the palace, and so happy was the king as
cannot be told! He married his youngest daughter to Dawn, his middle
daughter to Evening, and his eldest daughter to Midnight, and he made
Dawn his heir.
Translated by Irina Zheleznova

Shabarsha
How about a nice story, ladies and gents? A fairy story with lots of
weird and wonderful happenings and that rogue to end all rogues,
Shabarsha, who never does things by halves, and no mistake!
Shabarsha hired himself out, but it was a real bad harvest that year. His
master racked his brains about how to drive away care, keep the wolf
from the door and get hold of some cash. "Do not worry, master!"
Shabarsha said to him. "Just give me the day, and I'll find a way!" And
off he went to the mill pond. "I'll catch some fish," he thought, "then
sell it and get some money! Bother, I haven't got any twine for the
hook... Never mind, I'll make some." He asked the miller for some
hemp, sat down on the bank and began to make twine.
While he was working a little boy in a black jacket and red cap
jumped out of the water onto the bank. "What are you doing, uncle?" he
asked. "Making some twine." "What for?" "I'm going to clean up the
pond and pull you devils out of the water." "Oh, no! Wait a moment,
I'll go and tell my grandad." The little devil dived into the water, and
Shabarsha went on with his work. "Ha, ha," he thought, "I'll play a trick
on you, you wicked crew, and make you give me all your gold and
silver." And Shabarsha dug a deep hole and placed his cap upside down
over it. But the crafty fellow had cut the top off. "Shabarsha! Hey,
Shabarsha! Grandad says I must strike a bargain with you. What will
you take to leave us in peace?" "Fill this cap here with gold and silver."
The devil boy dived back into the water and then returned. "Grandad
says that first you and I must have a wrestling match." "How can a
puny stripling like you wrestle with me! You couldn't even take on my
middle brother Bruin." "Where is he, this Bruin of yours?" "Over there,
resting in that hollow under a bush." "How can I get him to wrestle?"
"Just give him a dig in the ribs. He'll get up alright then." The devil boy
went to the hollow, found the bear and poked him in the ribs with a
stick. Brain reared up on his hind legs and hugged the devil boy so hard
that his ribs cracked. He straggled free from the bear's clutches and fled
back to the old man in the pond. "Grandad!" he squealed in terror,
"Shabarsha's middle brother called Brain wrestled with me and made
my ribs crack! What would have happened if I'd wrestled with
Shabarsha himself?" "Hmm. Go back and have a race with Shabarsha.
See who comes first."
So the boy in the red cap went back to Shabarsha and told him what
his grandad had said. "You race against me! Why, even my little
brother Harry Hare would leave you miles behind!" "Where is your

brother, Harry Hare?" "Over there, lying in the grass, having a rest. Go
up and tickle his ear—he'll race with you alright then." The devil boy
ran up to Harry Hare and tickled his ear. Off the hare shot like
lightning, leaving the boy far behind. "Stop, stop, Harry Hare. Wait for
me. Oh dear, he's gone!" "I was going to race like the wind, grandad,"
he explained to the water demon. "But I never had a chance, and it
wasn't Shabarsha himself, just his young brother!" "Hmm," muttered
the old man, frowning darkly. "Go and have a whistling contest with
Shabarsha. See who can whistle the loudest."
"Shabarsha! Hey, Shabarsha! Grandad says we must see who can
whistle the loudest." "Alright, you whistle first." The devil boy
whistled so loudly that Shabarsha could hardly keep on his feet, and the
leaves fell off the trees. "Not bad," said Shabarsha, "but not as good as
me! When I whistle you'll be knocked off your feet and your eardrums
will split. So lie face down on the ground and put your hands over your
ears." The devil boy lay face down and covered his ears with his hands.
Shabarsha took a heavy stick, brought it down with all his might on the
devil boy's neck, and whistled. "Oh, grandad, grandad! Shabarsha gave
such a whistle that I saw stars before my eyes. I could hardly get up
from the ground, and all the bones in my neck and back felt broken."
"Ho, you're not very strong, my lad! Go and get my iron cudgel from
the reeds and see which of you can toss it higher."
The devil boy found the cudgel, heaved it onto his shoulder and
went to Shabarsha. "Shabarsha, grandad told me to have one more try.
Let's see which of us can toss this cudgel highest into the air." "Alright,
you toss first and I'll watch." The devil boy tossed the cudgel up, and it
flew higher and higher until it was only a tiny dot in the sky. They had
to wait an age for it to come down again. Then Shabarsha picked it up.
Phew, what a weight! He leaned on it and gazed up at the sky. "Why
don't you toss it? What are you waiting for?" asked the devil boy. "I'm
waiting for that black cloud to get nearer. I'll throw the cudgel up to it.
My brother the blacksmith is up there and he could do with a nice bit of
iron like this." "Oh, no, Shabarsha! Don't throw cudgel up to the cloud.
Grandad will be angry!" The devil boy snatched the cudgel and dived
back to his grandfather.
When his grandfather heard that Shabarsha had almost thrown his
cudgel away, he got such a fright that he ordered the money to be
fetched from the pond and given to Shabarsha. The devil boy kept
pouring money into the cap, but still it was not full. "Shabarsha's got a
mighty strange cap, grandad. I keep filling it with gold and silver, but
it's still empty. You have only one more chest left now." "Take that up
too quickly. Is he getting the twine ready?" "Yes, grandad!" "Hurry up

then." There was nothing for it. The devil boy took his grandfather's
last precious chest and poured the coins into Shabarsha's cap, until at
last it was full! Ever since that day Shabarsha has lived in clover. I was
asked round to drink mead and beer with him, but I did not go. They
say the mead was bitter, and the beer cloudy. So what might be the
meaning of that, eh?

Translated by Kathleen Cook

Marya Morevna
In a certain kingdom, in a certain realm there once lived a king and a
queen with their son, Prince Ivan, and their three daughters, Princess
Marya, Princess Olga and Princess Anna. The time came for the mother
a