The Firebird and Princess Vassilissa…

In a certain kingdom, in a thrice-ten realm that lay far away, beyond the thrice-nine lands, there once lived a mighty king. The king had an archer who was as brave as he was strong, and the archer had a horse that was as strong as it was fleet of foot. One day the archer got on his horse and rode off to the forest to hunt.

He rode along a road, and a wide road it was, and he saw a fire-bird’s feather lying there and flaming like fire.’ Said his horse to the archer: “Leave the feather where it is, for if you don’t you will know a great misfortune.” Now, this made the archer stop and think.

He was sorely tempted to take the feather, for if he presented it to the king, the king would surely reward him, and who is there that does not prize the favor of a king!

In the end, he decided to take it, and, picking it up, carried it away with him and presented it to the king. “Many thanks to you, Archer?” said the king. “But since you were able to fetch its feather, you must fetch me the fire-bird itself If you don’t it’ll be out with my sword and off with your head?” The archer went back to his horse weeping bitterly. “Why do you weep. Master?” the horse asked. “The king has ordered me to fetch him the fire-bird.” “I told you not to take the feather’ Still, you must not fear or give way to despair. You are in no great trouble

now, there is worse to come! Just go to the king and ask him for a hundred bags of corn to be strewn over that field yonder.” This the archer did, and the king had a hundred bags of corn strewn over the field.

At dawn on the following day the archer rode to the field. He unbridled his horse, let it roam there at will and himself hid behind a tree. All of a sudden the wind swept over the forest and sent it rustling, the sea rose in waves, and the fire-bird came flying to the field. Down it dropped and began pecking the corn, and the archer’s horse ran up and stepped hard on one of its wings, pinning it to the ground. The archer then rushed out from behind the tree, and, binding the fire-bird with a rope, got o the horse with it and rode at a gallop for the palace. He presented the fire-bird to the king, who was greatly pleased, thanked the archer for serving him. so well, promoted him and at once set him another task. ”You were able to fetch the fire-bird, so you should be able to fetch me the maid I wish to marry, Princess Vassilissa. She lives at the very end of the earth, where the bright sun rises, and it is her I want and none other. If you bring her to me, I will shower you with gold and silver, but if y ou don’t, it’ll be out with my sword and off with your head!”

The archer went back to his horse weeping bitterly. “Why do you weep, Master?” the horse asked. “The king bids me fetch him Princess Vassilissa.” ”Do not weep or be sad. You are in no great trouble, there is worse to come! Go to the king and ask him for a gold-topped tent and for food and drink for you to take with you on your journey.” The king gave him food and drink and a tent with a top of gold, and the archer got on his horse and set off on his way. Beyond thrice-nine lands he traveled, and whether a short or a long time passed nobody knows, but he came at last to the end of the earth, where the bright sun rises from the blue sea. And there on the sea, in a silver boat that she pushed with a paddle of gold, was Princess Vassilissa herself. The archer unbridled his horse and let it roam at will in the green meadow and pick at the fresh grass, and then he set up the gold-topped tent, put foods and drinks on a table, and sat down to eat and drink while he waited for Princess Vassilissa.

And Princess Vassilissa saw the gold top gleaming in the sunlight, paddled to shore, and, stepping out of the boat, stood there looking admiringly at the tent. ”Good morrow to you, Princess Vassilissa!” the archer said. “Pray come in and share of my board and taste of the wines I brought from far-off lands.” Princess Vassilissa came into the tent and she and the archer ate and drank and made merry. A whole glass of wine did she drink and was so overcome that she fell fast asleep. The archer called his horse, and when it came running, folded the tent with the top of gold, picked up Princess Vassilissa, mounted the horse with now, there is worse to come! Just go to the king and ask him for a hundred bags of corn to be strewn over that field yonder.” This the archer did, and the king had a hundred bags of corn strewn over the field.

At dawn on the following day the archer rode to the field. He unbridled his horse, let it roam there at will and himself hid behind a tree. All of a sudden the wind swept over the forest and sent it rustling, the sea rose in waves, and the fire-bird came flying to the field. Down it dropped and began pecking the corn, and the archer’s horse ran up and stepped hard on one of its wings, pinning it to the ground. The archer then rushed out from behind the tree, and, binding the fire-bird with a rope, got on the horse with it and rode at a gallop for the palace. He presented the fire-bird to the king, who was greatly pleased, thanked the archer for serving him so well, promoted him and at once set him another task.

”You were able to fetch the fire-bird, so you should be able to fetch me the maid I wish to marry, Princess Vassilissa. She lives at the very end of the earth, where the bright sun rises, and it is her I want and none other. If you bring her to me, I will shower you with gold and silver, but if you don’t, it’ll be out with my sword and off with your head!”

The archer went back to his horse weeping bitterly. ”Why do you weep, Master?” the horse asked. “The king bids me fetch him Princess Vassilissa.” ”Do not weep or be sad. You are in no great trouble, there is worse to come! Go to the king and ask him for a gold-topped tent and for food and drink for you to take with you on your journey.” The king gave him food and drink and a tent with a top of gold, and the archer got on his horse and set off on his way. Beyond thrice-nine lands he traveled, and wheth er a short or a long time passed nobody knows, but he came at last to the end of the earth, where the bright sun rises from the blue sea. And there on the sea, in a silver boat that she pushed with a paddle of gold, was Princess Vassilissa herself. The archer unbridled his horse and let it roam at will in the green meadow and pick at the fresh grass, and then he set up the gold-topped tent, put foods and drinks on a table, and sat down to eat and drink while he waited for Princess Vassilissa.

And Princess Vassilissa saw the gold top gleaming in the sunlight, paddled to shore, and, stepping out of the boat, stood there looking admiringly at the tent. ”Good morrow to you, Princess Vassilissa!” the archer said. “Pray come in and share of my board and taste of the wines I brought from far-off lands.” Princess Vassilissa came into the tent and she and the archer ate and drank and made merry. A whole glass of wine did she drink and was so overcome that she fell fast asleep. The archer called his horse, and when it came running, folded the tent with the top of gold, picked up Princess Vassilissa, mounted the horse with her in his arms, and set off home. As fast as an arrow he flew and was soon in the palace.

The king was overjoyed at the sight of Princess Vassilissa. He thanked the archer for having served him so well and gave him a still higher rank. But when Princess Vassilissa awoke and learnt that she was far, far away from the blue sea, she began sobbing and weeping and her face turned dark with grief. And though the king pleaded with her not to be sad, there was nothing he could do. He begged her to marry him, but she said: “Let him who brought me here go to my realm at the end of the earth and fetch my wedding dress which lies under a large rock in the middle of the sea. I will not marry without it!” The king sent for the archer. “Go at once to the end of the earth where the bright sun rises. In the middle of the sea you will find a large rock and under it Princess Vassilissa’s wedding dress. Bring the dress here, for I wish to wed without delay! If you bring it, I shall reward you richly, more so than ever before, but if you don’t, it’ll be out with my sword and off with your head!” Back went the archer to his horse weeping bitterly. ‘1 will not escape death this time!” said he to himself. “Why do you weep, Master?” the horse asked. “The king bids me fetch him Princess Vassilissa’s wedding dress from the bottom of the sea.” ”Didn’t I tell you not to take the fire-bird’s feather? But never fear, you are in no great trouble, there is worse to come! Get on my back and let us go to the blue sea.”

Whether a short or a long time passed nobody knows, but the archer came to the end of the earth and stopped on the shore of the blue sea. A huge lobster came crawling over the sand toward him, and the horse saw it and stepped on its tail with its hoof. Said the lobster: “Spare me, Horse, do not let me die! I will do whatever you ask.” And the horse said in reply: “There is a great rock lying on the bottom of the sea and hidden under it is Princess Vassilissa’s wedding dress. Fetch the dress for me!”

The lobster gave a great roar that carried over the whole of the sea, the sea rose in waves, and lobsters, big and small, came crawling to the shore from all sides. And so many were they that there was no counting them! The lobster who had called them and who was their elder bade them fetch the dress, and they plunged into the sea and came back with it before an hour had passed.

The archer brought the dress to the king, but Princess Vassilissa was as stubborn as ever and said that she would not marry him until he had made the archer take a dip in boiling water. The king at once ordered an iron cauldron to be filled with water, the water to be heated, and as soon as it came to the boil, the archer to be thrown in it. Everything was soon ready, the water began to seethe and to boil, sprays of it flying to all sides, and the archer was led in.

“Poor, unhappy man that I am!” thought he. “What made me take the fire-bird’s feather? Why didn’t I listen to my horse?” And recalling the horse, he said to the king: “0 great king, my ruler, allow me to bid my horse goodbye before I die!”

“Very well,” said the king. The archer went to see the horse, and the tears poured from his eyes. “Why do you weep, Master?” the horse asked. “The king bids me dip myself in boiling water.” “Fear nothing and do not weep, you will not die!” said the horse, and he cast a spell over the archer that he might not get scalded by the boiling water. The archer left the stall, and the king’s servants seized him and threw him into the cauldron. He took a dip and another and jumped out of the cauldron, and lo!?so handsome had he become as neither pen can write nor tongue tell! Seeing this, the king took it into his head to take a dip himself. He jumped into the cauldron and was boiled alive! And after he was buried the archer was chosen to rule the realm in his stead. He married Princess Vassilissa and they lived together for many long years and were as happy as happy can be.

Russian Stories From the Old Days…

The Cat and the Rooster…

Once upon a time there lived a Cat and a Cock who loved one another dearly. The Cat would play his fiddle and the Cock would sing, the Cat would go out to get food for the two of them, and the Cock would stay at home and look after the house. Every time the Cat prepared to go out he would say to the Cock:

“You mustn’t let anyone into the house, Cock, or go out yourself, no matter who calls you.”
“I won’t, don’t you worry,” the Cock would reply, and he would get into the house and stay there till the Cat came home.

Now, a Fox once saw the Cock and decided to lure him out and catch him. She crept up to the window of their house when the Cat was out and called out:

“Come out, Cock, and join me, and I’ll give you grains of wheat and some water clear and sweet.”

But the Cock called out in reply: “Cock-a-doodle-doo, I’ll do without, For I promised Puss I’d not go out!”

The Fox saw that this was not the way to go about things, so one night she crept up to the house, threw some wheat grains under the window for the Cock to see and herself hid behind a bush.

By and by the Cat went out hunting as usual, and the Cock opened the window and looked out. There was no one about, he saw, but there, scattered on the ground, lay some luscious grains of wheat. The Cock was eager to eat them and said to himself:

“I think I’ll go out and peck at those grains for a bit. There is no one about, so no one will see me or tell Puss on me.”

But no sooner did he step over the threshold than the Fox was upon him. She seized him by the scruff of his neck and away she ran to her own house! And the Cock called out to the Cat:

“Save me, Brother Puss, I pray!
Foxy’s taking me far away.
For her bushy tail
I can’t see the trail.
If you don’t come, friend,
I will meet my end.”

Now, the Cat was a long way off and he did not hear the Cock, and by the time he returned home it was too late for him to go after the Fox. He tried to overtake her, but could not, so back he went home and wept and cried. But he got to thinking after a while, and, taking his fiddle and a bright-pictured sack, set out for the Fox’s house.

Now, the Fox had four daughters and a son, and before going out hunting that day, she told them to keep an eye on the Cock and to heat a potfull of water so that as soon as she was back she could kill and cook him for dinner.

“And mind you let no one into the house while I’m away,” she said.

Away she went, and the Cat came up to the house, stood under the window and began to play and to sing the following song:

“Foxy’s house is big and tall,
Her four little daughters are beauties all,
And Pilipko, her only son,
Is very sweet to look upon.
Step outside, young Foxy, do,
And I’ll sing some more for you!”

Now, the Fox’s eldest daughter felt that she must go and see who it was playing and she said to the others:

“Stay here in the house and I’ll go and see who it is that plays so well.”

She came out of the house, and the Cat rapped her smartly on the nose, whisked her into his sack and began to play and to sing again:

“Foxy’s house is big and tall,
Her four little daughters are beauties all,
And Pilipko, her only son,
Is very sweet to look upon.
Step outside, young Foxy, do,
And I’ll sing some more for you!”

The Fox’s second daughter went out to see who it was playing, and the Cat rapped her on the nose and whisked her into his sack. And the very same thing happened to the Fox’s two younger daughters. There sat their brother Pilipko in the house and waited for his sisters, but they did not come back.

“I think I’ll go out and get them to come home,” said he to himself, “or our mother will give me a good hiding when she gets back.”

He stepped outside, and the Cat rapped him on the nose too and whisked him into the sack! Then he hanged the sack on a dry willow tree and ran into the Fox’s house. He found the Cock and untied him, and the two of them ate all of the Fox’s food, overturned the pot of boiling water, broke all the dishes and ran home. And the Cock did just as the Cat told him ever after and never, never disobeyed him.

Russian Stories From the Old Days…


Once upon a time there lived an old man and his wife who had no children, and were very lonely. One day, the old man shaped a piece of wood and the old woman wrapped it up and rocked it like a baby, singing:

Close your pretty eyes, Teryosha,
Sleep, my darling child!
All the fishes and the thrushes,
All the hares and foxes wild
Have gone bye-bye in the forest,
Sleep, my darling child!

Little by little, the pierce of wood they called Teryosha began to change into a real child, and before long he grew into a big and clever boy. The old man made a boat for him, painting it white, and a pair of paddles, which he painted red. Teryosha got into the boat, and said:

My little white boat, do as I wish
And take me to where there’s plenty of fish.

The little white boat obeyed, and took Teryosha far out into the river. After that, he went fishing every day, and at midday his mother would bring him his lunch and, standing on the bank, sing out:

Come and eat your lunch, Teryosha sonny,
There’s milk, and curds, and bread and honey!

Teryosha, hearing his mother’s voice from afar, would paddle to the bank and come ashore. His mother would take the fish he had caught, give him his lunch, change his shirt and belt, and let him go out in his boat again. The Witch saw and heard all this. And so, one day she came to the bank and called in her ugly voice:

Come and eat your lunch, Teryosha sonny,
There’s milk, and curds, and bread and honey!

Teryosha knew it was not his mother’s voice, and urged his little white boat to take him as far away from the bank as it could. The Witch ran to the blacksmith and told him to re-fashion her throat so that her voice would sound as sweet as that of Teryosha’s mother. The blacksmith did his best. And then the Witch came to the bank and called:

Come and eat your lunch, Teryosha sonny,
There’s milk, and curds, and bread and honey!

Teryosha thought it was his mother calling, for the voice was exactly like hers, and paddled to the bank. The Witch grabbed him, stuffed him into her bag, and carried him to her cottage in the forest. She told her daughter Alynoka to light the stove and roast Teryosha for dinner, while she was away doing more wickedness. Alyonka got the fire going, and when the oven was very, very hot, ordered Teryosha to lie flat on the shovel. But he sat on it, instead of lying down, threw out his arms and legs and try as she might Alyonka could not push him into the oven. “I told you to lie flat,” she snapped at him. “I don’t know how. You show me…”, Teryosha replied. “Lie down the way cats sleep and dogs sleep, that’s how.” “You show me anyway”. Alyonka lay down on the shovel, and Teryosha quickly pushed her into the oven and clamped the oven door shut. He ran outside and climbed to the top of an old oak, because he saw the Witch returning home. The Witch opened the oven, gobbled up Alyonka and picked the bone clean. When she had stuffed herself, she came outside and started rolling in the grass, chanting:

I’ll take a roll, and I’ll take a loll,
With Teryosha’s meat I’m nice and full!

Teryosha replied quietly from the top of the oak:

“With Alyonka’s meat you’re full.” The Witch thought it was simply the oak leaves rustling in the wind, and went on chanting:

I’ll take a roll, and I’ll take a loll,
With Teryosha’s meat I’m nice and full!

And again Teryosha said: “With Alyonka’s meat you’re full.” The Witch looked up and saw him sitting in the tree. She rushed at the oak and tried to bite it across. She bit and she bit, broke two of her front teeth, and ran to the blacksmith: “Make me two iron teeth, quickly.” Yhe blacksmith made her two iron teth, and she went back to bite the oak across. She bit and she bit, and broke two of her lower front teeth. She ran to the blacksmith again, and told him to make her two more iron teeth. The blacksmith did as he was told. Now she went at the oak so hard that chips flew to right and left. The oak was beginning to creak and sway. What was Teryosha to do? Suddenly he saw a flock of geese flying overhead, and he begged them:

Oh, good friends, oh darling geese,
Take me home to mother, please!

But the geese replied: “Another flock’s close behind, the geese are feebler than we are, they’ll take you'” Now the Witch would take a bite or two, give Teryosha a glare, smack her lips, and go on biting at the tree. Another flock came along, and Teryosha begged:

Oh, good friends, oh darling geese,
Take me home to mother, please!

And the geese replied: “There’s a pecked young goose coming behind us, he’ll take you home!” The Witch had only a little way to go before the oak toppled. The pecked young goose came, and Teroysha begged him:

You’re the kindest of the geese,
Take me home to mother, please!

The pecked young goose took pity on Teryosha, came down to let him climb on to his back, and carried him home to mother. They came to the cottage and alighted on the grass right under the window. The old women had made some pancakes to remember Teryosha by, and handing one to the old man she said: “here’s a pancake for you, and here’s one for me.” “What about me?” Teryosha asked from where he was. The old woman heard him, and said to the old an: “Go outside and look who’s asking for a pancake.” The old man went outside, saw Teryosha, took him home to the old woman, and she could not kiss and hug her darling son enough! They gave the pecked goose all the food and water he wanted, and let him run free in the yard until he grew into a big and strong bird. He leads the flocks now, flaps his wide wings and often remembers Teroysha.

Russian Stories From the Old Days…

Termok (The Little Hut)…

Once upon a time, a little fly built a tower in the forest. A flea jumped by, saw the tower and knocked on the door:
“Who is it that lives in this nice tall tower?”
“I, the little fly, and who are you?”
“I am the buzzing mosquito. Come live with me!” And a little field mouse ran by and knocked on the door, “Who is it that lives in this nice tall tower?”
“I, the little fly.”
“I, the buzzing mosquito, and who are you?”
“I am the little field mouse.”
“Come live with us!” And a croaking frog hopped by and knocked on the door, “Who is it that lives in this nice tall tower?”
“I, the little fly.”
“I, the buzzing mosquito.”
“And I, the little field mouse, and who are you?”
“I am a croaking frog.”
“Come live with us!” And a nervous rabbit bounced by and knocked on the door, “Who is it that lives in this nice tall tower?”
“I, the little fly.”
“I, the buzzing mosquito.”
“I, the little field mouse.”
“And I, the croaking frog, and who are you?”
“I am a nervous rabbit.”
“Come live with us!” And a sly fox ran by and knocked on the door, “Who is it that lives in this nice tall tower?”
“I, the little fly.”
“I, the buzzing mosquito.”
“I, the little field mouse.”
“I, the croaking frog.”
“And I, the nervous rabbit, and who are you?”
“I am a sly fox.”
“Come live with us!” And a gray wolf came by and knocked on the door, “Who is it that lives in this nice tall tower?”
“I, the little fly.”
“I, the buzzing mosquito.”
“I, the little field mouse.”
“I, the croaking frog.”
“I, the running rabbit.”
“I, the sly fox, and who are you?”
“I am a gray wolf.”
“Come live with us!” So they lived happily in the little tower.
Then a big bear came by and roared, “Who is it that lives in this nice tall tower?”
“I, the little fly.”
“I, the buzzing mosquito.”
“I, the little field mouse.”
“I, the croaking frog.”
“I, the running rabbit.”
“I, the sly fox.”
“I, the gray wolf, and who are you?”
“I am the big bear.”
“Well, come on in!”
The bear tried to climb into the tower, but no matter how he tried, he just didn’t fit.
“I think it would be better if I lived on the roof.”
“You will squash us all!”
“No, I won’t!” The bear sat down on the roof, and smashed the little tower. All of the other animals managed to jump out of the tower, and went back to the forest to live.

Russian Stories from the Old Days…

Tale of the dead princess and the seven knights…


With his suite the Tsar departed.
The Tsaritsa tender-hearted
At the window sat alone,
Wishing he would hurry home.
All day every day she waited,
Gazing till her dedicated
Eyes grew weak from overstrain,
Gazing at the empty plain,
Not a sign of her beloved!
Nothing but the snowflakes hurried
Heaping drifts upon the lea.
Earth was white as white could be.
Nine long months she sat and waited,
Kept her vigil unabated.
Then from God on Christmas Eve
She a daughter did receive.
Next day early in the morning,
Love and loyalty rewarding,
Home again from travel far
Came at last the father-Tsar.
One fond glance at him she darted,
Gasped for joy with thin lips parted,
Then fell back upon her bed
And by prayer-time was dead.

Long the Tsar sat lonely, brooding.
But he, too, was only human.
Tears for one sad year he shed…
And another woman wed.
She (if one be strictly truthful)
Was a born Tsaritsa?youthful,
Slim, tall, fair to look upon,
Clever, witty?and so on.
But she was in equal measure
Stubborn, haughty, wilful, jealous.
In her dowry rich and vast
Was a little looking-glass.
It had this unique distinction:
It could speak with perfect diction.
Only with this glass would she
In a pleasant humour be.
Many times a day she’d greet it
And coquettishly entreat it:
“Tell me, pretty looking-glass,
Nothing but the truth, I ask:
Who in all the world is fairest
And has beauty of the rarest?”
And the looking-glass replied:
“You, it cannot be denied.
You in all the world are fairest
And your beauty is the rarest.”
The Tsaritsa laughed with glee,
Shrugged her shoulders merrily,
Puffed her cheeks and bat her eyelids,
Flicked her fingers coyly, slyly,
Pranced around with hand on hips,
Arrogance upon her lips.

All this time the Tsar’s own daughter
Quietly, as Nature taught her,
Grew and grew, and came quite soon
Like a flower into bloom:
Raven-browed, of fair complexion,
Breathing kindness and affection.
And the choice of fiance
Lighted on Prince Yelisei.
Suit was made. The Tsar consented
And her dowry was indented:

Seven towns with wealthy store,
Mansion-houses ? sevenscore.
On the night before the wedding
For a bridal party dressing
The Tsaritsa, time to pass,
Chatted with her looking-glass:
“Who in all the world is fairest
And has beauty of the rarest?”
Then what did the glass reply?
“You are fair, I can’t deny.
But the Princess is the fairest
And her beauty is the rarest.”
Up the proud Tsaritsa jumped.
On the table how she thumped,
Angrily the mirror slapping,
Slipper heel in fury tapping!
“O you loathsome looking-glass,
Telling lies as bold as brass!
By what right is she my rival?
Such young folly I shall bridle.
So she’s grown up?me to spite!
Little wonder she’s so white:
With her bulging mother gazing
At that snow?what’s so amazing!
Now look here, explain to me
How can she the fairer be?
Scour this realm of ours and seek well,
Nowhere shall you find my equal.
Is not that the truth?” she cried.
Still the looking-glass replied:
“But the Princess is the fairest
And her beauty is the rarest.”
The Tsaritsa burst with spite,
Hurled the mirror out of sight
Underneath the nearest cupboard,
And when breath she had recovered
Summoned Smudge, her chamber maid,
And to her instructions gave:
“Take the Princess to the forest,
Bind her hand and foot and forehead
To a tree! When wolves arrive
Let them eat the girl alive!”

Woman’s wrath would daunt the devil!
Protest was no use whatever.
Soon the Princess left with Smudge
For the woods. So far they trudged
That the Princess guessed the reason.
Scared to death by such foul treason,
Loud she pleaded: “Spare my life!
Innocent of guilt am I!
Do not kill me, I beseech you!
And when I become Tsaritsa
I shall give you rich reward.”
Smudge, who really loved her ward,
Being loth to kill or bind her,
Let her go, remarking kindly:
“God be with you! Do not moan!”
And, this said, went back alone.
“Well?” demanded the Tsaritsa,
“Where’s that pretty little creature?”
“In the forest on her own,”
Smudge replied. “And there she’ll stay.
To a tree I firmly lashed her.
When a hungry beast attacks her
She’ll have little time to cry
And the quicker she shall die!”

Rumour spread and caused a panic:
“What, the Tsar’s own daughter vanished!”
Mournful was the Tsar that day.
But the young Prince Yelisei
Offered God a fervent prayer
And departed then and there
To seek out and homeward guide
His sweet-tempered, youthful bride.
Meanwhile his young bride kept walking
Through the forest until morning,
Vague as to her whereabouts.
Suddenly she spied a house.
Out a dog ran growling, yapping,
Then sat down, his tail tap-tapping.
At the gate there was no guard.
All was quiet in the yard.
Close at heel the good dog bounded
As the Princess slowly mounted
Stairs to gain the living floor,
Turned the ring upon the door.
Silently the door swung open
And before her eyes unfolded
A bright chamber: all around
Benches strewn with rugs she found,
Board of oak beneath the ikon
And a stove with tiles to lie on.
To the Princess it was clear
Kindly folk were dwelling here
Who would not deny her shelter.
No one was at home, however.
So she set to, cleaned the pans,
Made the whole house spick and span,
Lit a candle in the corner,
Fed the fire to be warmer,
Climbed onto the platform bed
There to lay her sleepy head.

Dinner time. The yard resounded,
Horses stamped and men dismounted.
Thick-moustached and ruddy-skinned,
Seven lusty Knights walked in.
Said the Eldest: “How amazing!
All so neat! The fire blazing!
Somebody’s been cleaning here
And is waiting somewhere near.
Who is there? Come out of hiding!
Be a friend in peace abiding!
If you’re someone old and hoar,
Be our uncle evermore!
If you’re young and love a scuffle.

We’ll embrace you as a brother.
If a venerable dame,
Then shall ‘mother’ be your name.
If a maiden fair, we’ll call you
Our dear sister and adore you.”
So the Princess rose, came down
To the Seven Knights and bowed,
Her good wishes emphasising,
Blushing and apologising
That to their delightful home
Uninvited she had come.
Straight they saw her speech bore witness
To the presence of a Princess.
So they cleared a corner seat,
Offered her a pie with meat,
Filled a glass with wine and served it
On a tray, as she deserved it.
But the glass of heady wine
She politely did decline
And the pie she broke with caution,
Savouring a tiny portion.
Pleading she was very tired,
Soon she gracefully retired
And the Seven Knights conveyed her
To the best and brightest chamber
And, away as they did creep,
She was falling fast asleep.

Days flew by?the Princess living
All the time without misgiving
In the forest, never bored
With the Seven Knights abroad.
Darkness would the earth still cover
When at dawn the seven brothers
Would ride out to try their luck
With a long-bow, shooting duck,
Or to ply their sword in battle
And a Saracen unsaddle,
Headlong at a Tartar go,
Chop his head off at a blow,
Or give chase to a Circassian,
From the forest send him dashing.

She, as lady of the house,
Rose much later, moved about
Dusting, polishing and cooking,
Never once the Knights rebuking.
They, too, never chided her.
Days flew by like gossamer.

And in time they grew to love her.
Thereupon all seven brothers
Shortly after dawn one day
To her chamber made their way
And the Eldest Knight addressed her:
“As you know, you are our sister.
But all seven of us here
Are in love with you, my dear,
And we all desire your favours.
But that must not be. God save us!
Find some way to give us peace!
Be a wife to one at least,
To the rest remain a sister!
But you shake your head. Is this to
Say our offer you refuse?
Nothing from our stock you’ll choose?”
“O my brave and bonny brothers,
Virtuous beyond all others!”
In reply the Princess’said,
“God in heaven strike me dead
If my answer be not honest:
I’ve no choice?my hand is promised!
You’re all equal in my eyes,
All so valiant and wise,
And I love you all, dear brothers!
But my heart is to another
Pledged for evermore. One day
I shall wed Prince Yelisei!”

Hushed, the brothers kept their station,
Scratched their foreheads in frustration.
“As you wish! So now we know,”
Said the Eldest with a bow.
“Pray forgive us?and I promise
You’ll hear nothing further from us!”
“I’m not angry,” she replied.
“By my pledge I must abide.”
Bowing low, the seven suitors
Left her room with passions muted.
So in harmony again
Did they live and friendship reign.

The Tsaritsa was still livid
Every time she saw in vivid
Memory the Princess fair.
Long the mirror, lying there,
Was the object of her hatred;
But at last her wrath abated.
So one day it came to pass
That she took the looking-glass
Up again and sat before it,
Smiled and, as before, implored it:
“Greetings, pretty looking-glass!
Tell me all the truth, I ask:
Who in all the world is fairest
And has beauty of the rarest?”
Said the mirror in reply:
“You are fair, I can’t deny.
But where Seven Knights go riding
In a green oak-grove residing
Humbly lives a person who
Is more beautiful than you.”
The Tsaritsa’s wrath descended
On her maid: “What folly tempted
You to lie? You disobeyed!”
Smudge a full confession made…
Uttering a threat of torture,
The Tsaritsa grimly swore to
Send the Princess to her death
Or not draw another breath.

One day by her window waiting
For her brothers homeward hasting
Sat the young Princess and span.
Suddenly the dog began
Barking. Through the courtyard scurried
A poor beggar-woman, worried
By the dog she kept at bay
With her stick. “Don’t go away!
Stay there, stay!” the Princess shouted,
From the window leaning outward.
“Let me call the dog to heel
And I’ll offer you a meal.”
And the beggar-woman answered:
“Pretty child, you take my fancy!
For that dog of yours, you see,
Could well be the death of me.
See him snarling, bristling yonder!
Come here, child!” The Princess wanted
To go out, and took a loaf.
But the dog its body wove
Round her feet, refused to let her
Step towards the woman-beggar.
When the woman, too, drew near,
Wilder than an angry bear
It attacked her. How perplexing!
“Had a bad night’s sleep, I reckon!”
Said the Princess. “Catch it! There!”
And the bread flew through the air.
The poor beggar-woman caught it.
“I most humbly thank you, daughter,
God be merciful!” said she.
“In return take this from me!”
The bright apple she was holding,
Newly picked, fresh, ripe and golden,
Straight towards the Princess flew…
How the dog leapt in pursuit!
But the Princess neatly trapped it
In her palms. “Enjoy the apple
At you leisure, little pet!
Thank you for the loaf of bread…”
Said the beggar-woman, brandished
In the air her stick and vanished…
Up the stairs the Princess ran
With the dog, which then began
Pitifully staring, whining
Just as if its heart were pining
For the gift of speech to say:
“Throw that apple far away!”
Hastily his neck she patted:
“Hey, Sokolko, what’s the matter?
Lie down!” Entering once more
Her own room, she shut the door,
Sat there with her spindle humming,
Waiting for her brothers’ coming.
But she could not take her gaze
From the apple where it lay
Full of fragrance, rosy, glowing,
Fresh and juicy, ripe and golden,
Sweet as honey to the lips!
She could even see the pips…

First the Princess thought of waiting
Until dinner. But temptation
Proved too strong. She grasped the bright
Apple, took a stealthy bite
And with fair cheek sweetly hollowed
A delicious morsel swallowed.
All at once her breathing stopped,
Listlessly her white arms dropped.
From her lap the rosy apple
Tumbled to the floor. The hapless
Maiden closed her swooning eyes,
Reeled and fell without a cry,
On the bench her forehead striking,
Then lay still beneath the ikon…
Now the brothers, as it chanced,
Were returning in a band
From another warlike foray.
Out to meet them in the forest
Went the dog and, running hard,
Led them straight into the yard.
Said the Knights: “An evil omen!
Grief in store!” The door they opened,
Walked into the room and gasped.
But the dog like lightning dashed
For the apple and devoured it.
Death that instant overpowered it.
For the apple was, they saw,
Filled with poison to the core.
By the dead Princess the brothers
Bent their heads in tears and uttered
Holy prayer to save her soul;
Nothing could their grief console.

From the bench they raised her, dressed her,
Wished within a grave to rest her,
Then had second thoughts. For she
Was as rosy as if sleep
Garlands of repose were wreathing
Round her?though she was not breathing.
Three whole days they waited, but
Still her eyes were tightly shut.
So that night with solemn ritual
In a coffin made of crystal
They laid out the body fair
Of the Princess and from there
To a hollow mountain bore her,
Where a tomb they fashioned for her:
Iron chains they used to fix
Her glass case to pillars six
With due caution, and erected
Iron railings to protect it.

Then the Eldest smote his breast
And the dead Princess addressed:
“Ever peaceful be your slumber!
Though your days were few in number
On this earth?spite took its toll?
Yet shall heaven have your soul.
With pure love did we regard you,
For your loved one did we guard you,
But you came not to the groom,
Only to a chill dark tomb.”

That same day the bad Tsaritsa,
Waiting for good news to reach her,
Secretly the mirror took
And her usual question put:
“Who is now by far the fairest
And has beauty of the rarest?”
And the answer satisfied:
“You, it cannot be denied.
You in all the world are fairest
And your beauty is the rarest!”

In pursuit of his sweet bride
Through the country far and wide
Still Prince Yelisei goes riding,
Weeping bitterly. No tidings!
For no matter whom he asks
People either turn their backs
Or most rudely rock with laughter:
No one knows what he is after.
Now to the bright Sun in zeal
Did the bold young Prince appeal:
“Sun, dear Sun! The whole year coursing
Through the sky, in springtime thawing
From the chill earth winter snow!
You observe us all below.
Surely you’ll not grudge an answer?
Tell me, did you ever chance to
See the Princess I revere?
I’m her fiance.” “My dear,”
Said the Sun with some insistence,
“I have nowhere seen your Princess,
So she’s dead, we must presume,
That is, if my friend, the Moon,
Has not met her on his travels
Or seen clues you may unravel.”

Through the dark night Yelisei,
Feeling anything but gay,
With a lover’s perseverance
Waited for the Moon’s appearance.
“Moon, O Moon, my friend!” he said,
“Gold of horn and round of head,
From the darkest shadows rising,
With your eye the world apprising,
You whom stars with love regard
As you mount your nightly guard!
Surely you’ll not grudge an answer?
Tell me, did you ever chance to
See the Princess I revere?
I’m her fiance.” “O dear!”
Said the Moon in consternation,
“No, I have not seen the maiden.

On my round I only go
When it is my turn, you know.
It would seem that I was resting
When she passed.” “How very vexing!”
Cried aloud Prince Yelisei.
But the Moon went on to say:
“Wait a minute! I suggest you
Have the Wind come to the rescue.
Call him now! It’s worth a try.
And cheer up a bit! Goodbye!”

Yelisei, not losing courage,
To the Wind’s abode now hurried.
“Wind, O Wind! Lord of the sky,
Herding flocks of clouds on high,
Stirring up the dark-blue ocean,
Setting all the air in motion,
Unafraid of anyone
Saving God in heaven alone!
Surely you’ll not grudge an answer?
Tell me, did you ever chance to
See the Princess I revere?
I’m her fiance.” “O hear!”
Said the Wind in turmoil blowing.
“Where a quiet stream is flowing
Stands a mountain high and steep
In it lies a cavern deep;
In this cave in shadows dismal
Sways a coffin, made of crystal.
Hung by chains from pillars six.

Round it barren land in which
No man ever meets another.
In that tomb your bride discover!”
With a howl the Wind was gone.
Yelisei wept loud and long.
To the barren land he journeyed
Desperately, sadly yearning
Once again to see his bride.
On he rode. A mountain high
Rose before him, soaring steeply
From a land laid waste completely.
At its foot?an entrance dim.
Yelisei went quickly in.
There, he saw, in shadows dismal
Swayed a coffin made of crystal
Where the Princess lay at rest
In the deep sleep of the blest.
And the Prince in tears dissolving
Threw himself upon the coffin…
And it broke! The maiden straight
Came to life, sat up, in great
Wonder looked about and yawning
As she set her bed see-sawing
Said with pretty arms outstretched:
“Gracious me! How long I’ve slept!”
Down she stepped from out the coffin.
O the sighing and the sobbing!
Carrying his bride, he strode
Back to daylight. Home they rode,
Making pleasant conversation
Till they reached their destination.
Swiftly rumour spread around:
“The Princess is safe and sound!”
It so happened the Tsaritsa
In her room was idly seated
By her magic looking-glass
And to pass the time did ask:
“Who in all the world is fairest
And has beauty of the rarest?”
Said the mirror in reply:

“You are fair, I can’t deny,
But the Princess is the fairest
And her beauty is the rarest!”
The Tsaritsa leapt and smashed
On the floor her looking-glass,
Rushing to the door she saw the
Fair young Princess walk towards her.
Overcome by grief and spite,
The Tsaritsa died that night.
From the grave where she was buried
To a wedding people hurried,
For the good Prince Yelisei
Wed his Princess that same day.
Never since the World’s creation
Was there such a celebration;
I was there, drank mead and yet
Barely got my whiskers wet.

Russian Stories From the Old Days…

Tale about the Golden Cockerel…

Somewhere in a secret kingdom,
In a far and distant kingdom,
Lived the famous Tsar Dadon.

Fierce one when took the throne
Put to rubbish all the neighbors
Never thought about sequels.

But when matured and turned gray
Wished to find a peaceful way
And to take repose and slumber.

Then the neighbors made much trouble
For the old and feeble king
Giving him a lot of sting.

To defend his distant borders
From the permanent disorders
He was urged to maintain
Cohogorts of defensive men.

Chiefs of guard refused to sleep,
Tried to get the faithful tip:
Whether from the South blast,
From the East assault on us?

Beat them here – savage people
From the sea. Without sleeping
Wept with fury Tsar Dadon,
Troubles meanwhile carried on.

Could one live in such a fever!

Asked for help he from the clever
Wise old eunuh, sorcerer,
Astrologer, conjurer.

Begging him to come to chamber.

Came he with a tricky number –
Pulled from figured tissue sack
Golden Cockerel by neck.

“Place – he said – this golden bird –
On the top of your abode
And my Golden Cockerel
Will perform his duty well:
While it’s quiet on the border
He will sit in peace and order
But at minor threat of war
From each quarter of the World
Or of military invasion,
Or of unexpected danger,
In a flash my Cockerel
Will upraise his caruncle,
Give a loud crow of glory
And will gaze at source of worry”.
Tsar with grace to sorcerer
Vows him a bag of pearls.

“In return for this your favor, –
Tsar at that time was enamoured –
I would grant your premier will
As my own – to fulfill”.

Cockerel from the top of spire
Watches round for the fire.

Is the danger seen by chance –
Faithful sentry wakes at once
Spread his wings and make a turn
Towards the side it’s coming from
Issuing a loud cry –

“Reign in peace and sidelong lie!”
And the neighbor kings grew quiet,
Could not further war provide:
Since that year Tsar Dadon
Stopped them all of fighting on.
Quietly runs year after year;
Cockerel keeps to watch and hear.

All of a sudden Tsar Dadon
Was awaked with noise and storm:
“Tsar, your majesty, Godfather! –
Claims the general, – the bother,
Sir! Wake up! We need defense!”

“What’s the matter, dear friends? –
Asked Dadon with loud yawn –
Who is there, what is wrong?”

Chief of troops replies in fever:

“Cockerel shrills just more than ever;

Funk and noise across the town”
Tsar – to window. Makes sound,
Jumps and flatters Cockerel
Screaming as the warning bell.

“Quickly, folks, to horse, do hurry!

Don’t loose time, for time is money!”;

Tsar sends army to the East
Elder son leads it abreast
Cockerel’s concern abated,
Clamor calmed, Tsar dissipated.

Eight days passed without roar
No news came from the war;
Whether happened any battle –
Can’t Dadon wise up and settle.
Cockerel starts again to crow.

Tsar collects the second crowd;
Which the younger son will run
To assist the elder one;
Cockerel again keeps level.
No news about travel!

Came within eight lasting days;
People fear, wait and pray;

Cockerel starts again to crow,
Tsar collects another crowd
And he leads them to the East
Hoping to return at least.

Troops are marching day and night;
All the men are deadly tired.
Neither battlefield, camp ground,
Nor a hill or burial mound
Had encountered Tsar Dadon.

“What’s the miracle?” – looks he on.
Week had passed of trip almighty,
Tsar brought troops to highland country
There, amidst sky-touching peaks
Stands a silky tent on sticks.

Valley lays in deep, fine silence
No sound over mountains
In the narrow canyon
Murdered crowds sees Dadon.

Near tent he sees two bodies
His two sons without clothes,
No armors, helmet less
Swords run through each others’ chests,
Cold and breathless.

Their horses Wander lose – free from remorse’s
In the crushed and blood-stained grass
By the narrow mountain pass
Tsar gave weep: “My sons, my children!
Woe is me!

They both are beaten
Both of proud falcons my –
Nothing else I want but die!”

All the army mourned and grieved
Heavy echo was received
From the mountains before
Suddenly the silky door
Of the tent was quickly opened
And Shemakha Queen was gotten –
Stunning beauty, like the dawn
Quietly stepped to meet Dadon.

Like the owl in the morning
Silenced Tsar not feeling warning
He forgot death of his sons
At the sight of Queen at once
She gave smile as rose in bloom
To Dadon with little bow
Took with tenderness his hand
And led him inside the tent.

There she sat him at the table,
Feasted him with viands of fable,
Bedded brocade bed for rest
Tsar got in the homey nest
After, for a week exactly,
Captured by her charm directly,
Caught in network, caught in trap,
Stayed Dadon within her lap.

So at length Dadon decided
Back to kingdom he resided
With his army and the Queen
Tsar returned to home in sheen
In the front of him the talking,
Truth and false were widely walking.
At the capital gateway
Swarms of people met them gay
Crowds run behind the carriage
Greetings for the coming marriage
Greets his people Tsar Dadon…

Suddenly he stared upon
Ancient, like the swan gray-headed
Wearing Saracen’s, unbearded
Old friend, eunuch, sapient
“How are you, eminent –

Called the Tsar- Come over here,
Tell me what you want, I hear”

Tsar! – replied the old wise sage,
Let us settle at this stage.
I remind you of your promise
In return for my good service
You would grant my premier will
As your own – to fulfill.
Let me now have this maiden,
Queen of Shemakha, you’ve taken.

Tsar couldn’t keep from great amazement
“Why requiring such payment?

a Either devil stole your mind?

Or you’re definitely blind?

What accrued inside your head?

If I knew you were so mad
I wouldn’t promise you at all.
And besides, why just the girl?

Easy, be aware of mine
You may ask for things just fine
Ask for place at royal table,
Any horse from royal stable,
Ask for half my kingdom yet”

“I want none of those, instead
Let me take this maiden charming,
Queen of Shemakha” – diviner
So answered – old white hat.

Spat Dadon – “Be damned for that!

You will get just less than nothing.

Need you, sinner, for adjusting;
You’ll bring trouble on your head;
Drag away this ancient bat”;
The old man began to argue
But it’s harmful with the ugly;
Tsar knocked him with iron staff
On the forehead – that’s enough
Shuddered and recoiled the crowd,
Girl resumed to laugh and shout –
Ha-ha-ha, then he-he-he!

Say, not fears own sin.
Although Tsar was frightened much,
Gave to her a gentle touch.
Now carriage moves to town…
There arose a gentile sound
And in presence of the folks
Cockerel swooped from spire’s top,
Flew to carriage and alighted,
On Tsar’s crown like the cockfighter,
Spread his wings, pecked once the Tsar
And soared up in deep blue sky
From the carriage Tsar Dadon
Fell on earth and he was gone.
And the Queen – she disappeared,
As if she was never here.

Tale is lie, but there’s a hint!
For good fellows a tip.

Russian Stories From the Old Days…

Stone Flower…

A long time ago in one Urals village there lived a famous craftsman named Prokopyich. He made jewelry and other things from malachite and was renowned as the best gem carver in the Urals. The rulers ordered him to teach some boys his profession, but none of them was talented enough.

At the same time an orphan named Danila lived in the village. He was weak and couldn’t work at the factory. But he was full of dreams and liked to observe nature. Once he tried to help an old herdsman, but when he played his flute, the old shepherd felt asleep and several cattle were eaten by wolves. Danila and the herdsman were were severely punished.

A kind old woman took Danila into her house and healed him using many herbs and flowers. She taught him the lore of plants, and one day told him about the Stone Flower from Malachite Mountain. She told him it was the most beautiful flower in the world. But she also warned him, “Whoever finds that flower will never be happy.”

After Danila recovered, the manager of the factory sent him to Prokopyich to study gem carving. He was surprisingly gifted. Prokopyich was a widow without children, and he loved the boy as if he were his own son. Several years passed. Danila became a strong, handsome young man.

One day the owner of the factory sent him a commission to make a vase from malachite, along with a sketch of what he wanted. Danila began the intricate task, but he was unsatisfied with the idea on the sketch. Every day he went to the woods looking for inspiration and observing many flowers and plants. He worked for a long time and at last completed a vase like the one in the sketch. When he showed it to the other craftsmen, they liked it and praised it. But Danila said, “This vase is made precisely according to the sketch, but there is no living beauty in it. When you look at the simplest flower, joy fills your heart because of its beauty. Where is there such beauty in the stone?”

One very old craftsman warned him, “Don’t even think that way. Otherwise you could become a servant of the Mistress of Copper Mountain. Her workers live and work in the Mountain and nobody ever sees them. Once I was lucky enough to see their work. Magnificent! Our work can’t compare with theirs, because they have seen the Stone Flower and understand the beauty of the stone.”

After this conversation Danila went to the woods more often looking for a block of stone for his own vase. Prokopyich was worried about him and urged him to marry the nice girl named Katya to whom Danila was engaged. But Danila said, “I want to wait! First I need to make my own vase and then we will think about marriage.”.

One day he was in the woods looking for stone and suddenly heard a whisper saying, “Danila-Craftsman, look for stone on Serpent Hill.” He turned around and saw the dim outline of a woman, which vanished in a second. He thought, “Perhaps it was the Mistress of Copper Mountain!” So he went to Serpent Hill and found a huge block of malachite. He was very glad, took the stone home and started to carve the vase.

But soon again he was disappointed with the result and said sadly, “Maybe I am just not able to understand the power and the beauty of the stone.” So he and Katya announced the date of their wedding. The day before the wedding he went for a walk to Serpent Hill again, sat down and thought about the Stone Flower. “How I desire to see that Flower!” he mused.

All a sudden the Mistress of Copper Mountain appeared before his eyes. Danila began to implore her: “There is no life for me without seeing that Flower!”

She replied, “I could show it to you, but afterwards you will regret it. Those who have seen my Flower have left their family and come to live in my mountain. Think about Prokopyich and Katya who love you.”

“I know,” shouted Danila, “but I must see it.” “All right,” she said. “Let’s go then to my garden.” So she took him and showed him the wonderful Stone Flower.

In the evening Danila came to the village. His fiancee Katya had a party the day before the wedding. At first he had fun, danced, and sang songs, but then he became sadder and sadder. To Katya’s questions he replied that he had a headache. After the party he returned home, broke his vase and ran away.

The village was full of rumors after he disappeared, but no one knew where he had gone. Three years passed. Katya did not marry. After her parents died she came to live with old Prokopyich and helped him in his work. But soon Prokopyich died, too, and Katya lived on her own. She did not have any money, so she decided to try making some brooches.

She went to Serpent Hill hoping to find good pieces of stone. But at the hill she remembered her beloved Danila and wept. Suddenly she saw a beautiful piece of malachite. Katya took it home and tried to carve several brooches. She worked hard and well and her carving beautifully set off the natural patterns in the stone. Katya was happy when she sold her works to a merchant in the village. She thought, “My brooches are the best in his store. I was lucky finding that malachite. Maybe Danila helped me?”

She ran again to Serpent Hill looking for another good stone. But she thought again of Danila and burst into tears, sobbing, “Where are you, my beloved friend? Why did you leave me?” When Katya looked around it seemed to her she stood in an unfamiliar woods, and the mountain opened before her eyes. “Here is the magic mountain,” she thought. “Maybe I could see my Danila.”

When Katya looked down, she saw a man who looked just like Danila. The man raised his hands toward her. She wanted to jump down to him, but the vision disappeared. She told her relatives what she had seen but they did not believe her and decided that she must be ill.

The next day Katya ran to the hill hoping desperately to see Danila. Her sister followed her. Katya came to the same place and found herself in the magic woods. She started to call out, “Danila, where are you? Answer me!” The echo answered: “He is not here! He is not here!” Then suddenly the Mistress of Copper Mountain appeared and demanded, “Why did you come to my garden? If you need the stones, take what you wish and go away.”

Brave Katya replied, “I don’t need your dead stones. Give me my Danila back. You don’t have the right to take another’s fiance.” The Mistress laughed. “Do you have any idea whom you are speaking to?” Katya cried out, “I am not blind, I know who you are. I am not afraid of you! Not at all! And I know that Danila wants to come back to me.” The Mistress said, “All right, let him speak then.”

At the same moment Katya saw Danila. The Mistress said, “You have to choose, Danila-Craftsman. If you go with her, you will forget everything you saw and learned in the mountain. If you want to stay here, you have to forget the rest of the world.”

Danila sighed, “I am sorry. I can’t forget the people I love. I think about Katya every minute of my life.” The Mistress smiled and said, “All right, Danila. Go back home. And for your honesty and loyalty I will give you a present. You will not lose your knowledge that you have learned here. But do not tell people about the mountain. If somebody asks you where have you been, just say that you went away to improve your skill.”

Katya and Danila returned home, filled with joy. Katya’s sister could not find her in the woods and returned home. When she came into the house she saw Danila and Katya. She cried out, “Danila, where have you been?” Danila just smiled. “I went to study my craft with a master who lives far away. “Katya and Danila lived happily together for many years. He became known far and wide as the greatest carver in the Ural Mountains.

Russian Stories From the Old Days…

Snow-maiden the Russian Tale…

There was once a daughter born to Fairy Spring and Father Frost. This daughter was the most beautiful maiden that had ever been known, she had skin as pale as the snow, eyes blue like the sky, and thick blond hair that hung to her waist. She was named Snow-maiden.

Fairy Spring had to hide her daughter from the Sun God, whose rays could easily destroy the beautiful girl, so for a very long time Snow-maiden lived deep within the woods. But it was very lonely there, and one day Snow-maiden decided to take a long walk. As she walked she heard a beautiful sound. At first it was very far away, but it drew Snow-maiden closer and closer to its source. Snow-maiden followed it for a long time, all the way to the edge of the forest. There in an open field sat Lyle, a farm boy, playing his flute. Snow-maiden listened and watched form the edge of the forest, and became enchanted with Lyle.

Snow-maiden went to the edge of the forest every day to listen to the farm boy play his flute. Lyle always ignored the beautiful girl standing in the shade of the trees, and instead danced with the girls who sat with him in the field. This broke Snow-maiden’s tender heart, and she decided to go speak with her mother about it. “Mother,” Snow-maiden began, “please let me feel real love.” Fairy Spring understood that her daughter wanted the farm boy to fall in love with her. “If you want real love,” Fairy Spring answered, “you must leave the protection of the forest and go into the open field where the boy plays his flute.”

The next day Snow-maiden once again followed the sweet sound of Lyle’s music to the edge of the woods. She stepped out of the trees, and walked into the opening. Lyle turned to look at her, and thought she was the most beautiful girl that he had ever seen in his life. Just then Snow-maiden stepped into a ray of sunshine, which illuminated her beauty to its fullest. But the Sun God’s ray was to strong for Snow-maiden, and she melted before Lyle’s eyes…

Russian Stories From Russia…


Once upon a time there lived a woodcutter and his old wife. They were poor and had no children. The old man cut logs in the forest and carried them into town; in this way he eked out a living. As they grew older they became sadder and sadder at being childless.

“We are growing so old. Who will take care of us?” the wife would ask from time to time.

“Do not worry, old woman. God will not abandon us. He will come to our aid in time,” answered the old man.

One day, in the dead of winter, he went into the forest to chop wood and his wife came along to help him. The cold was intense and they were nearly frozen.

“We have no child,” said the woodcutter to his wife. “Shall we make a little snow girl to amuse us?”

They began to roll snowballs together, and in a short while they had made a “snegurochka,” a snow maiden, so beautiful that no pen could describe her. The old man and the old woman gazed at her and grew even sadder.

“If only the good Lord had sent us a little girl to share our old age!” said the old woman.

They thought on this so strongly that suddenly a miracle happened. They looked at their snow maiden, and were amazed at what they saw. The eyes of the snow maiden twinkled; a diadem studded with precious stones sparkled like fire on her head; a cape of brocade covered her shoulders; embroidered boots appeared on her feet.

The old couple looked at her and did not believe their eyes. Then the mist of breath parted the red lips of Snegurochka; she trembled, looked around, and took a step forward.

The old couple stood there, stupefied; they thought they were dreaming. Snegurochka came toward them and said:

“Good day, kind folk, do not be frightened! I will be a good daughter to you, the joy of your old age. I will honor you as father and mother.”

“My darling daughter, let it be as you desire,” answered the old man. “Come home with us, our longed-for little girl!” They took her by her white hands and led her from the forest.

As they went, the pine trees swayed goodbye, saying their farewell to Snegurochka, with their rustling wishing her safe journey, happy life.

The old couple brought Snegurochka home to their wooden hut, their ‘isba,’ and she began her life with them, helping them to do the chores. She was always most respectful, she never contradicted them, and they could not praise her enough, nor tire of gazing at her, she was so kind and so beautiful.

Snegurochka, nevertheless, worried her adopted parents. She was not at all talkative and her little face was always pale, so pale. She did not seem to have a drop of blood, yet her eyes shone like little stars. And her smile! When she smiled she lighted up the isba like a gift of rubles.

They lived together thus for one month, two months; time passed. The old couple could not rejoice enough in their little daughter, gift of God.

One day the old woman said to Snegurochka: “My darling daughter, why are you so shy? You see no friends, you always stay with us, old people; that must be tiresome for you. Why do you not go out and play with your friends, show yourself and see people? You should not spend all your time with us, aged folk.”

“I have no wish to go out, dear Mother,” answered Snegurochka. “I am happy here.”

Carnival time arrived. The streets were alive with strollers, with singing from early morning until late at night. Snegurochka watched the merrymaking through the little frozen window panes. She watched … and finally she could resist no longer; she gave in to the old woman, put on her little cape, and went into the street to join the throng.

In the same village there lived a maiden called Kupava. She was a true beauty, with hair as black as a raven’s wing, skin like blood and milk, and arching brows.

One day a rich merchant came through town. His name was Mizgir, and he was young and tall. He saw Kupava and she pleased him. Kupava was not at all shy; she was saucy and never turned down an invitation to stroll.

Mizgir stopped in the village, called to all the young girls, gave them nuts and spiced bread, and danced with Kupava. From that moment he never left town, and, it must be said, he soon became Kupava’s lover. There was Kupava, the belle of the town, parading around in velvets and silks, serving sweet wines to the youths and the maidens and living the joyful life.

The day Snegurochka first strolled in the street, she met Kupava, who introduced all her friends. From then on Snegurochka came out more often and looked at the yours. A young boy, a shepherd, pleased her. He was named Lel. Snegurochka pleased him too, and they became inseparable. Whenever the young girls came out to stroll and to sing, Lel would run to Snegurochka’s isba, tap on the window and say: “Snegurochka, dearest, come out and join the dancing.” Once she appeared, he never left her side.

One day Mizgir came to the village as the maidens were dancing in the street. He joined in with Kupava and made them all laugh. He noticed Snegurochka and she pleased him; she was so pale and so pretty! From then on Kupava seemed too dark and too heavy. Soon he found her unpleasant. Quarrels and scenes broke out between them and Mizgir stopped seeing her.

Kupava was desolate, but what could she do? One cannot please by force nor revive the past! She noticed that Mizgir often returned to the village and went to the house of Snegurochka’s old parents. The rumor flew that Mizgir had asked for Snegurochka’s hand in marriage.

When Kupava learned this, her heart trembled. She ran to Snegurochka’s isba, reproached her, insulted her, called her a viper, a traitor, made such a scene that they had to force her to leave.

“I will go to the Tsar!” she cried. “I will not suffer this dishonor. There is no law that allows a man to compromise a maiden, then throw her aside like a useless rag!”

So Kupava went to the Tsar to beg for his help against Snegurochka, who she insisted had stolen her lover.

Tsar Berendei ruled this kingdon; he was a good and gracious Tsar who loved truth and watched over all his subjects. He listened to Kupava and ordered Snegurochka brought before him.

The Tsar’s envoys arrived at the village with a proclamation ordering Snegurochka to appear before their master.

“Good subjects of the Tsar! Listen well and tell us where the maiden Snegurochka lives. The Tsar summons her! Let her make ready in haste! If she does not come of her will we will take her by force!”

The old woodcutters were filled with fear. But the Tsar’s word was law. They helped Snegurochka to make ready and decided to accompany her, to present her to the Tsar.

Tsar Berendei lived in a splendid palace with walls of massive oak and wrought-iron doors; a large stairway led to great halls where Bukhara carpets covered the floors and guardsmen stood in scarlet kaftans with shining axes. All the vast courtyard was filled with people.

Once inside the sumptuous palace, the old couple and Snegurochka stood amazed. The ceilings and arches were covered with paintings, the precious plate was lined up on shelves, along the walls ran benches covered with carpets and brocades, and on these benches were seated the boyars wearing tall hats of bear fur trimmed with gold. Musicians played intricate music on their tympanums. At the far end of the hall, Tsar Berendei himself sat erect on his gilded and sculptured throne. Around him stood bodyguards in kaftans white as snow, holding silver axes.

Tsar Berendei’s long white beard fell to his belt. His fur hat was the tallest; his kaftan of precious brocade was embroidered all over with jewels and with gold.

Snegurochka was frightened; she did not dare to take a step nor to raise her eyes.

Tsar Berendei said to her: “Come here, young maiden, come closer, gentle Snegurochka. Do not be afraid, answer my questions. Did you commit the sin of separating two lovers, after stealing the heart of Kupava’s beloved? Did you flirt with him and do you intend to marry him? Make sure that you tell me the truth!”

Snegurochka approached the Tsar, curtsied low, knelt before him, and spoke the truth; that she was not at fault, neither in body nor in soul; that it was true that the merchant Mizgir had asked for her in marriage, but that he did not please her and she had refused his hand.

Tsar Benendei took Snegurochka’s hands to help her to rise, looked into her eyes and said: “I see in your eyes, lovely maiden, that you speak the truth, that you are nowhere at fault. Go home now in peace and do not be upset!”

And the Tsar let Snegurochka leave with her adoptive parents.

When Kupava learned of the Tsar’s decision she went wild with grief. She ripped her sarafan, tore her pearl necklace from her white neck, ran from her isba, and threw herself in the well.

From that day on, Segurochka grew sadder and sadder. She no longer went out in the street to stroll, not even when Lel begged her to come.

Meanwhile, spring had returned. The glorious sun rose higher and higher, the snow melted, the tender grass sprouted, the bushes turned green, the birds sang and made their nests. But the more the sun shone, the paler and sadder Snegurochka grew.

One beautiful spring morning Lel came to Snegurochka’s little window and pleaded with her to come out with him, just once, for just a moment. For a long while Snegurochka refused to listen, but finally her heart could no longer resist Lel’s pleas, and she went with her beloved to the edge of the village.

“Lel, oh my Lel, play your flute for me alone!” she asked. She stood before Lel, barely alive, her feet tingling, not a drop of blood in her pale face!

Let took out his flute and began to play Snegurochka’s favorite air.

She listened to the song, and tears rolled down from her eyes. Then her feet melted beneath her; she fell onto the damp earth and suddenly vanished.

Lel saw nothing but a light mist rising from where she had fallen. The vapor rose, rose, and disappeared slowly in the blue sky…

Russian Stories From The Old days…


Once upon a time in a Russian village lived an old peasant. He had three sons. The two elder sons were clever, but the youngest was a fool named Ivanushka. The family had a wheat field. One day they noticed that at night something had come into the field and trampled the wheat. The old peasant sent his sons to guard the field.

On the first night the eldest son went to the field, but did not try hard enough to stay awake and fell asleep. On the second night the middle son went to the field, but he too fell asleep and did not see anything.

On the third night Ivanushka went there. At midnight he saw a great chestnut-gray stallion wearing a gold saddle and a silver bridle. The stallion started to eat and trampled the wheat. Ivanushka managed to catch the wonderful horse. The stallion said, “Let me go free, I will be your friend. If you need something, go to the field, whistle and say, “Sivka-Burka, appear here!” I will come and help you.”

Ivanushka agreed and let him go free. It happened about that time that the tsar, who had no son, organized a contest to determine who would succeed him as tsar. He placed his beautiful daughter on the top floor of a very tall tower and announced that the man who could reach the princess jumping on a horse and could take the ring from her finger would win her hand in marriage and rule the land. The older brothers decided to go to the competition, but Ivanushka stayed home.

When his brothers left, he whistled and called Sivka-Burka, who rose thundering out of the ground. Ivanushka climbed in his right ear and climbed out of the left ear a very handsome, well-dressed young man. Then he rode to the competition to try his luck. Sivka jumped trying to reach the princess. Ivan was very close to her, but couldn’t quite reach the ring. He quickly turned the horse and galloped home. There he turned back into his previous self. When his brothers came from the tsar’s courtyard they told Ivanushka about the handsome man who almost reached the princess. Ivanushka only laughed at them.

The next day the same thing happened. On the third day, Ivanushka and Sivka-Burka reached the princess and took the ring from her finger. Then they galloped away so quickly that nobody could even see Ivanushka’s face. At home he turned back into his previous self but he had one hand in a bandage. His brothers asked him, “What is wrong with your hand?” He laughed and said, “Nothing serious, just a scratch.”

Three days later, the tsar invited everyone to a feast. The old peasant came with his three sons. They sat at the table ate, drank and had fun. At the end of the feast the tsar’s daughter herself served honey to the guests. When she approached Ivanushka, she noticed the bandage on his hand and asked him, “Good young man, why do have a bandage on your hand? Let me look at it!” And there everyone saw the ring on his finger. The princess said, “Dear father, here is my fiance!” Ivanushka called Sivka-Burka, turned into the handsome man and married the princess.

Russian Stories from Russia!

Sister Fox and Brother Wolf…

There was once a Fox who built herself a hut and lived there as snug as you please. But winter came, it was cold in the hut, and so off the Fox ran to the village to fetch a light for her stove. She came to an Old Woman’s house and said:

“Top of the morning, Grandma! Do give me a light, and I will do as much for you some day.”

“Very well, Sister Fox,” the Old Woman said. “Sit down and warm up while I take my baking out of the oven.”

Now, the Old Woman was baking some poppy-seed cakes. She took them out of the oven and put them on the table to cool. And the Fox took one look at them, and, snatching up a cake, made off with it. She ate up the poppy-seed filling, stuffed the cake full of straw, covered it with the crust and set off on her way again at a run.

She ran and she ran till she saw two shepherd boys driving a herd of cows to water.

“Good morning, my fine lads!” the Fox called.

“Good morning to you, Sister Fox!”

“Let’s trade! You give me a young bull and I’ll give you this poppy-seed cake.”

“Very well.”

“But mind you don’t eat the cake till I leave the village.”

So the Fox gave the shepherds the cake in return for a young bull. She made off with the bull for the forest, and the shepherds began to eat the cake and found it stuffed full of straw.

Sister Fox came to her hut and she cut down a tree and made herself a sledge. She harnessed the bull-calf to the sledge and went driving along, and by and by who should come running toward her but Brother Wolf.

“Good morning, Sister Fox!” called the Wolf.

“Good morning to you, Brother Wolf!”

“Where did you get the sledge and the little bull?”

“I made them.”

“Do let me ride with you a little way, Sister Fox!”

“How can I do that? You’ll break my sledge.”

“No, I won’t. I’ll just put one of my legs on it.”

“Oh, very well.”

So the Fox and the Wolf went driving along together, and by and by the Wolf said:


“I think I’ll put my second leg on the sledge, Sister Fox!”

“Don’t, for you’ll break the sledge, Brother Wolf.”

“No, I won’t.”

“Well, go ahead, then!”

So the Wolf put another leg on the sledge, and he and the Fox went driving along again when suddenly there came a great c-r-rack!

“Hey there, you’re breaking my sledge, Brother Wolf!” the Fox cried.

“No, I’m not, Sister Fox, I was only cracking a nut.”

“Oh, well, if that was all!”

So the two of them went driving along again, and by and by the Wolf said:

“I think I’ll put my third leg on the sledge now, Sister Fox.”

“Don’t be silly! You’ll break the sledge, and then what will I have to carry my firewood in?”

“I won’t break it. Never you feral”

“Oh, very well, then.”

So the Wolf put his third leg on the sledge, and something went cr-r-ack! ? again.

“Dear me! You’d better go away, Brother Wolf, or you’ll break my sledge!” said the Fox.

“No, Sister Fox, I was only cracking a nut,

“Give me one!”

“I haven’t any more- That was the last.”

They went driving along again, and by and by the Wolf said:

“I think I’ll climb into your sledge now, Sister Fox.”

“You mustn’t, Brother Wolf, you’ll break the sledge!” No, I won’t. I’ll be careful.”

“Well, see that you are!”

So the Wolf climbed into the sledge and of course it broke under him and fell to pieces!

The Fox was furious. She scolded the Wolf and she scolded him. And -en she said:

“Go and cut down a tree. You bad so-and-so, and chop it up into logs, enough to keep my house warm and to make a new sledge too, and then put the logs here!”

“How will I do that?” said the Wolf. “I don’t know which tree You want.”

“You bad so-and-so!” the Fox cried. “You knew how to break my sledge, but when it comes to chopping down a tree, You pretend You don’t know how to do it.”

She scolded and scolded him and then she said:

“As soon as You come to the forest You must say: “Fall do crooked and straight! Fall down, tree, crooked and straight!”

Off the Wolf went, he came to the forest and said:

“Fall down, tree, crooked and crooked! Fall down, tree, crock crooked!”

The tree fell down, and the logs were so twisted and knobby even a stick could be made out of them, let alone sledge runners.

The Wolf took the logs to the Fox, and the Fox took one look and began scolding the Wolf harder than ever.

You bad so-and-so,” she said, You must have said the wrong

“Oh no, Sister Fox! What I said was: ‘Fall down, tree, crooked and crooked!'”

“I knew it! What a blunder-head You are! Sit here, and I’ll go and chop down a tree myself.”

And off the Fox went.

There sat the Wolf, and by and by he began to grow very hungry. He looked all over the Fox’s hut but found nothing. He thought and he thought and said to himself:

“I think I’ll eat the little bull and run away.”

He made a hole in the bull’s side, ate up his insides, stuffed the bull full of sparrows, sealed the hole with a handful of straw and himself ran away.

By and by the Fox came back. She made herself a beautiful new sledge, climbed in and called:

“Giddy-up, little bull!”

But the bull-calf never stirred from the spot.

Then the Fox took up a stick and she gave the bull such a blow that the handful of straw fell from his side, and the sparrows flew out with a wh-o-o-sh!

“You wicked, wicked Wolf!” cried the Fox. “You wait, I’ll pay You back for this!”

And off she went.

She stretched herself out on the road and lay there very quietly.

By and by some chumak carters came driving up with a wagon caravan loaded with fish. The Fox lay there without stirring and pretended to be dead.

The men looked and were much surprised.

“Let’s take the Fox and sell it, brothers,” said they. “We ought to be able to get enough money for it to buy some liquor.”

They threw the Fox into the last wagon and drove on. The Fox saw that they never looked back and began to throw the fish one after another out onto the road. Then, leaving the cart only half full, she climbed down herself.

The men drove on, and the Fox gathered up the fish, sat down and began to eat.

By and by the Wolf came running up.

“Hello there, Sister Fox!” he called.

“Hello yourself, Brother Wolf!”

“What are You doing, Sister Fox?”

“Eating fish.”

“Give me some!”

“Go catch them yourself.”

“I can’t, I don’t know how to do it!”

“Well, that’s your business, You won’t get as much as a bone from me.’-

” Won’t You at least tell me how to do it”

And the Fox said to herself:

“You wait, Little Brother! You ate my little bull and now I’ll pay You back for it!”

Then she turned to the Wolf and said:

“Go to the river, put your tail into an ice hole, move it slowly back and forth and say: ‘Come and be caught, fish, big and small!’ That way you’ll catch all the fish You want.”

“Thank You for telling me,” said the Wolf.

He ran to the river, let down his tail into an ice hole, moved it slowly, back and forth and said:

“Come and be caught, fish, big and small!”

And the Fox looked out at him through the reeds on the bank and said:

“Freeze, freeze, Wolf’s tail!”

Now, there was a bitter frost out, and the Wolf kept moving his tail back and forth and saying:

“Come and be caught, fish, big and small!”

And the Fox kept repeating:

“Freeze, freeze, Wolf’s tail!”

There the Wolf stayed catching fish till his tail was frozen fast to the ice, and when that happened the Fox ran to the village and cried:

“Come, good people, and kill the Wolf!”

And the villagers came running with pokers, prongs and axes. They fell on the poor Wolf and killed him.

And as for the Fox, she still lives in her hut as snug as You please.

Russian Stories From the Old Days…

Sister Alyonushka and Brother Ivanushka…

Once there lived an old man and his wife, and they had a daughter named Alyonushka and a son named Ivanushka.

The old man and the old woman died, and Alyonushka and Ivanushka were left all alone in the world.

Alyonushka set off to work and took her little brother with her. They had a long way to go, and a wide field to cross, and after they had been walking for a time, Ivanushka began to feel very thirsty. “Sister Alyonushka, I am thirsty,” he said. “Be patient, little brother, we shall soon come to a well.” They walked and they walked, and the sun was now high up in the sky, and so hot were the two that they felt very blue. They came upon a cow’s hoof filled with water, and Ivanushka said: “May I drink out of the hoof, Sister Alyonushka?”

“No, little brother. If you do, you will turn into a calf.”

Ivanushka obeyed, and they walked on a bit farther. The sun was still high up in the sky, and the heat was so bad that they felt very sad. They came upon a horse’s hoof filled with water, and Ivanushka said: May I drink out of the hoof. Sister Alyonushka?”

“No, little brother. If you do, you will turn into a foal.”

Ivanushka sighed and they walked on again. They walked and they walked, but the sun was still high up in the sky, and the air was so dry that they felt they could die. They came upon a goat’s hoof filled with water, and Ivanushka said: “May I drink out of the hoof, Sister Alyonushka?”

“No, little brother. If you do, you will turn into a kid.” But Ivanushka did not heed his sister and drank out of the goat’s hoof. And the moment he did so he turned into a little white goat. Alyonushka called her brother, and instead of Ivanushka the goat came running up to her.

Alyonushka burst into tears. She sat sobbing on the ground by a stack of hay while the little goat skipped round in play. Just then a Merchant chanced to be riding by.

“What are you crying for, pretty maid?” asked he. Alyonushka told him of her trouble. Said the Merchant:

“Marry me, pretty maid. I will dress you in gold and silver, and the little goat will live with us.”

Alyonushka thought it over and agreed to marry the Merchant.

They lived together happily, and the little goat lived with them and ate and drank with Alyonushka out of the same cup.

One day the Merchant went away from home and all of a sudden a Witch appeared out of nowhere. She stood under Alyonushka’s window and begged her ever so sweetly to go and bathe in the river with her.

Alyonushka followed the Witch to the river, and when they got there the Witch fell upon Alyonushka and, tying a stone round her neck, threw her into the water and herself took on her shape.

Then she put on Alyonushka’s clothes and went to her house, and no one guessed she was not Alyonushka but a Witch. The Merchant came home and even he did not guess.

Only the little goat knew what had happened. He went about with drooping head and did not touch food or drink. Morning and evening he never left the river bank and, standing at the water’s edge, called:

“Sister, dear Sister Alyonushka!
Swim out, swim out to me”.

The Witch learned of this, and she asked her husband to kill the little goat.

The Merchant was sorry for the little goat, for he had become very fond of him. But the Witch kept coaxing and wheedling so that there was nothing to be done, and he gave in at last.

“All right, you kill him then,” he said. The Witch had big fires kindled, big pots heated and big knives sharpened.

The little goat found out that he was going to be killed, so he said to the Merchant:

“Let me go to the river before I die and have a last little drink.” “Go,” said the Merchant.

The little goat ran to the river, stood on the bank and cried piteously:

“Sister, dear Sister Alyonushka!
Swim out, swim out to me.
Fires are burning high,
Pots are boiling,
Knives are ringing,
And I am going to die.”

And Alyonushka answered from out the river:

“Brother, dear Brother Ivanushka!
A heavy stone lies on my shoulders,
Silken weeds entangle my legs,
fellow sands press hard on my breast.”

“Go and find the goat and bring him to me.”
The servant went to the river, and what did he see but the little goat running up and down the bank, calling piteously:

“Sister, dear Sister Alyonushka!
Swim out, swim out to me.
Fires are burning high,
Pots are boiling,
Knives are ringing,
And I am going to die.”

And from the river someone’s voice called back:

“Brother, dear Brother Ivanushka!
A heavy stone lies on my shoulders,
Silken weeds entangle my legs,
Yellow sands press harden my breast.”

The servant ran home and told his master what he had heard and seen. The Merchant called some people together, they went down to the river and, casting a silken net, dragged Alyonushka out on to the bank. They untied the stone which was round her neck, dipped her in spring water and dressed her in bright clothes. And Alyonushka came back to life and was more beautiful than ever.

The little goat was wild with joy, he turned three somersaults, and lo and behold! He was changed into his proper shape again.

And the wicked Witch was tied to a horse’s tail and the horse turned loose in an open field to be drug until the end of her days.

Russian Stories From Old…


There was once a man who had a dog named Sirko. The dog was very, very old, and one day his master drove him out of the house. Sirko went roaming the fields, and he felt very sad and woebegone.

“I served my master for so many years and watched over his house,”

said he to himself, “and now that I’m old and weak he grudges me even a crust of bread and has driven me out of the house.”

He wandered on, thinking these thoughts, when all of a sudden who should come up to him but a Wolf.

“What are you doing, roaming about like that?” asked the Wolf.

“There’s nothing else I can do, for my master has driven me out of the house,” Sirko replied.

“I can help you if you like,” the Wolf said. “If you do as I say, your master will take you back again.”

“Please, please help me, my dear friend!” Sirko cried. “I will find a way to repay you for your kindness.”

“Well, then, listen to me. Your master and mistress will soon go out to the fields to reap, and the mistress will leave her baby beside a stack of straw to sleep there while she is helping her husband. Now, you must stay close to the baby so I’ll know where it is. I’ll come running up and carry it off, and you must run after me and try to take it away. Then I’ll pretend I’m frightened and let it go.”

The time to reap the wheat came, and the master and mistress went to the field. The mistress left her baby beside a straw stack and herself joined her husband and set to work. They were not at it very long when the Wolf ran up. He seized the baby and ran off with it across the field. Sirko ran after him, and his master cried:

“Catch him, Sirko!”

Sirko caught up with the Wolf, snatched the baby away from him, and brought it back to his master. And his master got out some bread and a piece of bacon from a sack and said:

“Here, Sirko, eat your fill! This is to thank you for saving our baby.”

Evening came, the master and mistress went home, and they took Sirko with them. They went into the house, and the master said:

“Make us an extra dish of dumplings, wife, and don’t spare the fat!”

The dumplings were soon ready, and the master seated Sirko at the table and sat down beside him.

“Serve the dumplings, wife!” said he. “We’re going to have our supper.”

The mistress set the dumplings on the table, and the master filled a dish full of them and gave the dish to Sirko. And he blew on them lest Sirko burn himself while he ate.

“This is all the Wolf’s doing,” said Sirko to himself. “I must repay him for his kindness.”

Now, Sirko’s master, who had waited till it was the season for eating meat, prepared to marry off his eldest daughter.

Sirko went out into the field, found the Wolf there and said to him.

“Come to our vegetable garden toward evening on Sunday. I will take you into the house and repay you for your kindness.”

The Wolf waited till Sunday came round and went where Sirko ha told him to.

Now, it was on that very day that the wedding was held. Sirko went outside, took the Wolf into the house and hid him under the table. The he seized a bottle of vodka and a big piece of meat from the table and gave them to the Wolf. The guests wanted to beat Sirko, but the master stopped them.

“Do not touch Sirko!” he said. “He has done me a great service, an I will be kind to him always.”

And Sirko took some of the best pieces from the table and gave them to the Wolf. So well did he feast him that the Wolf who had had to much to drink could not stop himself and said:

“I’m going to sing!”

“Please don’t or you’ll get into trouble,” Sirko begged. “I’ll give yo some more vodka if only you promise to keep quiet.”

He gave the Wolf another bottle of vodka, and the Wolf drained it dry.

“I’m going to sing no matter what you say!” he cried.

“Don’t do it or we’ll both pay with our lives for it!” Sirko said.

“I can’t help myself, I’m going to sing and that’s the end of it!” the Wolf cried again, and he let out a terrific howl from under the table!

The guests jumped up in fright, they rushed hither and thither, and some of them wanted to beat up the Wolf. So then Sirko jumped on top of him and made as though he was about to kill him.

“Don’t touch the Wolf or you’ll hurt Sirko!” the master said. “And don’t you worry, he’ll teach him a good lesson!”

Sirko took the Wolf to the field and said:

“You did me a kindness once, and now I have paid you back for it!”

They bade each other goodbye and went their separate ways.

Soviet Stories…

Silver Hoof…

A long time ago, there was an old widowed hunter named Kokovanya. He was lonely so he adopted Daryonka, a poor little orphan girl. When he took Daryonka into his home with him, he also let her bring her scrawny kitten.

Kokovanya, Daryonka, and the kitten were not rich but they had a good life. While the old man hunted, Daryonka would clean the cottage and cook soup. Her cat kept her company. At night, Kokovanya told wonderful tales, but the girl?s favorite was the one about Silver Hoof, the magical goat. Legend had it that Silver Hoof was a very special goat. Where most goats have two horns, Silver Hoof has antlers with five tines. On his right forefoot he had a silver hoof. When he stamped his foot, a gem would be left there. If he stamped it twice there would be two, but if he pawed the ground there would be a whole pile of gems.

Kokovanya told Daryonka that he had been trying for years to find Silver Hoof and that when Autumn came he would be going into the woods to find him. Daryonka begged the old man to let her go with him, since she would be so lonely in the cottage and because she truly wanted to see Silver Hoof also.

So the old man, the young girl, and the cat headed deep into the woods. By now the cat was a very healthy and hearty cat and could offer them protection. They stayed in a cabin that the old man had there. The hunter hunted many goats, but he never found Silver Hoof. Towards the end of winter, he told Daryonka that he had so many goat skins and meat that he would have to go into town to get a horse to help bring it all home. It would take him several days.

On the 2nd day that Daryonka was by herself in the cabin, she heard a pitter patter outside. It was Silver Hoof! She opened the door and called out to him, but he ran away. On the 3rd day the cat went out to play but did not return. Daryonka was worried so she went outside to find him. There he was in the glade with Silver Hoof. Both were nodding their heads as if they were talking to each other. Then they began to run about in the snow. The goat would run and stamp all around the cabin. Then he jumped upon the roof and stamped some more. Precious stones flashed out like sparks — red, green, light blue, dark blue, and many other colors.

It was then that Kokovanya returned, but he did not recognize his hut. It was covered in gems and sparkled in the moonlight. Suddenly, Silver Hoof and the cat just disappeared from the roof. They were gone. The old man gathered some of the stones in his hat and then he and Daryonka went in to sleep. They had such wonderful dreams. When they awoke they ran outside to look at the wonder, but all the gems were gone. All they had left were the ones the old man had put in his hat. But that was enough to let them live happily ever after. No one ever saw Silver Hoof or the cat again, but sometimes people still find stones in the glade where the goat played that night.


In the north of Holy Russia lies the mighty and glorious town of Novgorod, known to all as Lord Novgorod the Great. And once there lived in great Novgorod a bard, a musician of some repute, by name: Sadko. He had little in the way of gold, and to support himself he made the rounds of the noble feasts and banquets, entrancing and delighting everyone, whether prince or boyar, merchant or peasant, with his marvelous skill on the gusli and his golden voice and his skill at weaving words and music into mighty visions of the exploits of Russian folk. He was always in demand and he looked forward to a day when he might have saved enough money to allow him to sing and play simly for pleasure rather than sustenance.

Alas! Misfortune strikes us all, and so it struck Sadko. A day arrived when no one called for his presence, and he did not sing that day, neither did he receive any payment for his music. A second day passed without feast or banquet calling for his songs, and then a third. His money pouch was quicky being depleted, and his plans for an easier life being thwarted.

Sighing with regret, Sadko journeyed down to the shores of Lake Ilmen and sat upon a rock by the waters. He began to pluck the strings of his faithful gusli, and to sing a song of lament. All the day, from just after the rising of the great, red sun until late in the afternoon as that same sun sank toward the western hills, Sadko played and sang. First a lament, then a mighty ballad of a great bogatyr, then a love song, then another lament, and so on through the passing hours. Just as evening fell, as he finished another song, there was a disturbance in the waters of the lake. Suddenly the waves began to swirl and a great noise of thunder rose from the depths of the waters. Great clouds of sand darkened the lake still further. Sadko, quite frightened, tucked his gusli under his arm and fled back to the town of Novgorod.

The dark night passed and once again the sun rose into the heavens, but once again no invitation to perform came to Sadko. Being forced into idleness is tremendously wearing, so the bard went once again to the lovely shores of Lake Ilmen, sat upon the rocks by the blue waters, and began to sing. This day he sang new songs, songs he was only then composing in his mind. He sang to the glory of Novgorod, and to the prince, and he sang to the glory of Christ our Lord and to His Mother, the Theotokos. He sang new tales of Russian bogatyri and of magical beings who played tricks on unwary travelers. All the day long he played, and as it grew on toward dusk, there was a disturbance in the waters of the lake. Suddenly the waves began to swirl and a great noise of thunder rose from the depths of the waters. Great clouds of sand darkened the lake still further. Sadko, once more afraid, returned swiftly back to Novgorod.

On the third morning the door remained undarkened by anyone inviting Sadko to play at feasting, and so for the third time he went again to the stones on the shore of Lake Ilmen and sat in the warm sun and played his gusli while he sang sweet songs. As on the previous two days, at dusk the waves began to swirl and a great noise of thunder rose from the depths of the waters. Great clouds of sand darkened the lake still further. This time, however, Sadko remained in his place atop a great boulder and continued to sing and to play. He played as the night came on, a long while or a short while, it matters not a bit, for all of a sudden the waves grew high and crashed at the baseof Sadko’s stone, and the thunderous roar of the waters grew louder than ever before. Then, before the terrified bard could move a muscle, the waters sank back into quietude and parted! Up from the depths of Lake Ilmen strode the mighty form of the King of the Blue Seas!

“Many thanks to you, O Sadko the Bard of Novgorod,” cried the King, and his voice was like the crashing of waves and rushing of waters. “For three days now you have greatly entertained us, for I have been holding feastday in my palace beneath Lake Ilmen. All have been bewitched by the golden tones of your voice, the dexterity of your fingers on the gusli, and the wit and wisdom of your words. Would that we could reward you adequately, but I know not how I should… But wait! Go now to your home in Novgorod, O Sadko, and on the morrow you shall be called to perform at the banquet of the wealthiest merchant of the city. Everyone will be present, from the veche, to the prince, to the merchants. As always happens with men, when they have eaten and drunk all they desire, they will begin to boast, and oh, such boasting as would make a bard’s ears tingle with ideas for rollicking songs! One will brag of his great wealth, another of his noble steed, yet another of his great might and prowess in battle, and even more of his youth. Wisdom will boast of his elderly father and mother, foolishness will boast of his sweet young wife. But you, Sadko the Bard, will make a boast to shame theirs! Say to them: ‘I, Sadko the Bard, knowthat dwelling in Lake Ilmen are fish with fins of pure gold!” Those rich (and ignorant) merchants of Novgorod will delight t ridiculing your words, and they will contradict you and deny that such fish are in Lake Ilmen. Thereupon you must wager with them, setting your turbulent head against all their shops and precious goods. When they accept (and they will, for foolish men always do), take a net of silk and come here, casting the net into the lake three times. Whenyou do this, I will send you each time a fishwith fins of pure gold. And in this way you will win markets full of shops and become Sadko the richest merchant of Novgorod, and you will be able to play and sing solely for pleasure rather than sustenance!”

Sadko returned to Novgorod, sighing over the tricks of a head left to sit too long in the heat of the sun. But lo and behold! on the morrow when he went forth from his bed he was greeted by the chamberlain of the richest merchant in town, and invited to grace a great feast with song and story. And everything happened just as the King of the Blue Sea had predicted.

When everyone present, the veche, the prince, and the rich merchants, had eaten and drunk all they desired, they began to boast and oh! the braggarts told tales that would make fodder for many fine witticisms of Sadko the Bard for long years to come! One boasted of his great riches and endless treasures, another of his noble steed descended from the most ancient and worthy bloodlines, yet another of his knightly bearing on the field of battle and his prowess a arms, while a wise man boasted of his elderly and saintly father and mother, and a fool bragged of his sweet young wife. All the while, Sadko sat and spoke not a word. When the feasters had finished their bragging, the host of the banquet turned to the silent and smiling Sadko and asked him whether he had nothing to boast of. Laying aside his gusli, Sadko arose and said:

“Aie me! O noble merchants of Novgorod, o mighty prince, o all-powerful veche, what could a poor man such as I, Sadko the Bard, have to match against your glorious boasts? I have no goden treasure, I have no sweet wife. My music is a gift of God and not mine to boast of. I know of only one thing whereof I could boast, for I alone know that in Lake Ilmen swim fish with fins of gold!”

At first there was silence, then a snicker, and finally the merchants of Novgorod roared with laughter! Then they began to argue and contend with the bard, asserting that no such fish existed in the lake, or even in the wide world.

“Ah, if I were rich, like you,” lamented Sadko, “I would be able to wager much gold on the truth of my words. But alas! I have nothing but my own turbulent head to offer as stakes.”

“We gladly accept your wager, Sadko!” chuckled the over-confident merchants. “We say no fish with fins of gold are in Lake Ilmen, and we shall wager all of our shops in the Great Market and all of their fine goods against your turbulent head!”

Then Sadko took a net of silk and went straightaway to the shores of Lake Ilmen and cast it into the waters. When he drew it out, there lay within it a tiny fish with fins of pure gold. The merchants were amazed, but Sadko did as the King of the Blue Sea had bidden him and cast the net into the lake twice more, and each time he drew forth a tiny fish with fins of pure gold. Without argument and seeing that the bard had spoken truth (for the merchants of Novgorod prided themselves on their honesty), they turned over to Sadko the shops in the Great market and all their fine goods. Thus did Sadko the Bard become one of the richest merchants in the glorious town of Novgorod, and no more sang for sustenance, but rather for pleasure.

Rusalka (The Water-Nymph)

In lakeside leafy groves a friar
Escaped the world; out there he passed
His summer days in constant prayer,
Deep studies and eternal fast.
Already with a humble shovel
The elder dug himself a grave;
And calling saints to bless his hovel,
Death, nothing other, did he crave.

So once upon a falling night he
Bowed down beside his droopy shack
And meekly prayed to the Almighty.
The grove was turning slowly black;
Above the lake a mist was lifting;
Through milky clouds across the sky
The ruddy moon was softly drifting,
When water drew the friar’s eye…

He looks there, puzzled, full of trouble,
A fear he cannot quite explain,
And sees: the waves begin to bubble
And suddenly grow calm again.
Then — white as first snow in the highlands,
Light-footed as nocturnal shade,
There comes ashore and sits in silence
Upon the bank a naked maid.

She eyes the monk and brushes gently
Her hair and water off her arms.
He shakes with fear and looks intently
At her and at her lovely charms.
With eager hands she waves and beckons,
Nods quickly, smiling from afar,
Then — shoots within two flashing seconds
Into still water like a star.

The glum old man slept not an instant
All night, all day not once he prayed:
Before his eyes still hung and glistened
The wondrous girl’s persistent shade…
The grove puts on the gown of nightfall;
The moon walks on the cloudy floor;
And there’s the maiden, pale, delightful,
Reclining on the spellbound shore.

She looks at him, her hair she brushes,
Nods, sends him kisses drolly wild,
Plays with the waves — caresses, splashes, —
Now laughs, now whimpers like a child,
Moans tenderly, calls louder, louder…
“Come, monk, come, monk! To me, to me!..”
Then — vanishes in limpid water…
And all is silent instantly…

On the third day the ardent hermit
Was sitting by the shore, in love,
Awaiting the enticing mermaid,
As shade was lying on the grove…
Dark ceded to the sun’s emergence;
By then the monk had disappeared,
No one knew where, and only urchins,
While swimming, saw a hoary beard.

A. S. Pushkin, 1819

The Princess Frog…

Long, long ago, in days of yore, there lived a king who had three sons, all of them grown to manhood. One day the king called them to him and said, “My sons. let each of you make a bow for himself and shoot an arrow. The maiden who brings your arrow back will be your bride; and he whose arrow is not returned will stay unwed.” The eldest son shot an arrow and a prince’s daughter brought it back. The middle son loosed an arrow and a general’s daughter brought it back. But young Prince Ivan’s arrow fell into a marsh and was brought back by a frog holding it between her teeth. The first two brothers were joyful and happy, but Prince Ivan was downcast and cried: “How can I live with a frog? Marrying is for a lifetime, it isn’t like wading a stream or crossing a field!” He wept and wept but there was nothing for it: he had to marry the frog. All three couples were wed together according to the custom—the frog being held aloft on a platter.

Some time passed. One day the king wished to see which bride was the best needle-woman. So he ordered them to make him a shirt. Poor Prince Ivan was again downcast and cried: “How can my frog sew? I’ll be a laughing stock.” The frog only jumped across the floor croaking. But no sooner was Prince Ivan asleep than she went outside, cast off her skin and turned into a beautiful maiden, calling. “Maids and matrons, sew me a shirt!” The maids and matrons straightway brought a finely-embroidered shirt: she took it, folded it and placed it alongside Prince Ivan.

There upon she turned back into a frog as if nothing had happened. In the morning Prince Ivan awoke and was overjoyed to find the shirt which he took forthwith to the king. The king gazed at it and said: “Now there’s a shirt for you, fit to wear on holy days!” Then the middle brother brought a shirt, at which the king said, “This shirt is fit only for the bath-house!” And taking the eldest brother’s shirt, he said, “And this one is fit only for a smoky peasant hut!” The king’s sons went their separate ways, with the two eldest muttering among themselves, “We were surely wrong to mock at Prince Ivan’s wife; she must be a cunning sorceress, not a frog.”

Presently the king again issued a command: this time the daughters-in-law were each to bake a loaf of bread, and bring it to him to judge which bride was the best cook. The other two brides had made fun of the frog, but now they sent a chamber- maid to see how she would bake her loaf. The frog noticed the woman, so she kneaded some dough, rolled it out, made a hole in the stove and tipped the dough straight into the fire. The chambermaid ran to tell her mistresses, the royal brides, and they proceeded to do the same. But the crafty frog had tricked them; as soon as .the woman had gone, she retrieved the dough, cleaned and mended the stove as if nothing had happened, then went out on to the porch, cast off her skin and called, “Maids and matrons, bake me a loaf of bread such as my dear father used to eat on Sundays and holidays.” In an instant the maids and matrons brought the bread. She took it, placed it beside Prince Ivan, and turned into a frog again. In the morning Prince Ivan awoke, took the loaf of bread and gave it to his father. His father was receiving the loaves brought by the elder brothers: their wives had dropped the dough into the fire just as the frog had done, so their bread was black and lumpy. First the king took the eldest son’s loaf, inspected it and dispatched it to the kitchen.

The Princess Frog then he took the middle son’s loaf and dispatched it thither too. Then came Prince Ivan’s turn: he presented his loaf to his father who looked at it and said, “Now this is bread fit to grace a holy day. It is not at all like the burnt offerings of my elder daughters-in-law!”

After that the king thought to hold a ball to see which of his sons’ wives was the best dancer. AU the guests and daughters-in-law assembled; everyone was there except Prince Ivan, who thought: “How can I go to the ball with a frog?” And the poor prince began- to weep bitterly. “Do not cry, Prince Ivan,” said the frog. “Go to the ball. I shall follow in an hour.” Prince Ivan was somewhat cheered at the frog’s words, and left for the ball. Then the frog cast off her skin and turned into a lovely maid dressed in finery. When she arrived at the ball, Prince Ivan was overjoyed, and the guests clapped their hands at the sight of such beauty. They began to eat and drink. But the frog-princess would eat and slip the bones into her sleeve, then drink and pour the dregs into her other sleeve. The elder brothers’ wives saw this and followed suit, slipping bones into one sleeve and dregs into the other. When the time came for dancing, the king called upon his elder sons’ wives but they insisted on the frog-princess dancing first. And she straightway took Prince Ivan’s arm and came forward to dance. She danced and danced, whirling round and round, to the delight of all. When she shook her right sleeve, woods and lakes appeared; when she shook her left sleeve, all kinds of birds flew about. The guests were filled with wonder. When she finished dancing, everything disappeared. Then the wives of the two elder sons began to dance. They wished to do as the frog-princess had done, so they shook their right sleeves and bones flew out hitting folk about them; and when they shook their left sleeves, water splashed all over the onlookers. The king was most displeased and soon called an end to the dancing.

The ball was over. Prince Ivan rode off ahead of his wife, found the frog-skin and burnt it. So when his wife returned and looked for the skin, it was nowhere to be seen. She lay down to sleep with Prince Ivan, but just before daybreak she said to him, “Oh, Prince Ivan, if only you had waited a little longer I would have been yours. Now God alone knows when we shall meet again. Farewell. If you wish to find me you must go beyond the Thrice-Nine Land to the Thrice-Ten Kingdom.” And the frog-princess vanished.

A year went by, and Prince Ivan still pined for his wife. As a second year began, he made ready to leave, seeking first the blessing of his father and mother. He rode for a long way and eventually chanced upon a little hut facing the trees, with its back to him. “Little hut, little hut,” he called. ‘Turn your face to me, please, and your back to the trees.” The little hut did as he said and Prince Ivan entered. There before him sat an old woman, who cried, “Fie, Foh! There was neither sight nor sound of Russian bones, yet now they come marching in of their own free will! Whither go you, Prince Ivan?” “First give me food and drink and put me to bed, old woman, then ask your questions.” So the old woman gave food and drink and put him to bed. Then Prince Ivan said to her, “Grannie, I have set out to rescue Yelena the Fair.” “Oh, my child,” the old woman said, “you’ve waited too long! At first she spoke of you often, but now she no longer remembers you. I haven’t seen her for a long time. Go now to my middle sister, she knows more than me.”

In the morning Prince Ivan set out, came to another little hut, and cried, “Little hut, little hut, turn your face to me, please, and your back to the trees.” The little hut did as he said and Prince Ivan entered. There before him sat an old woman, who cried, “Fie, Foh! There was neither sight nor sound of Russian bones, yet now they come marching in of their own free will! Whither go you. Prince Ivan?” “I seek Yelena the Fair, Grannie-,” he replied. “Oh, Prince Ivan,” the old woman said, “you’ve waited too long! She has begun to forget you and is to marry another. She is now living with my eldest sister; go there now, but beware: as you approach they will know it is you. Yelena will turn into a spindle, her dress will turn to gold. My sister will wind the gold thread around the spindle and put it into a box which she will lock. But you must find the key, open the box, break the spindle, toss the top over your shoulder and the bottom before you. Then she will appear.”

Off went Prince Ivan, came to the old woman’s hut, entered and saw her winding gold thread around a spindle; she then locked it in a box and hid the key. But Prince Ivan quickly found the key, opened the box, took out the spindle, broke it as he had been told, tossed the top over his shoulder and the bottom before him. All of a sudden, there was Yelena the Fair standing in front of him. “Oh, Prince Ivan,” she sighed, “how long you were in coming! I almost wed another.” And she told him that the other bridegroom would soon arrive. But, taking a magic carpet from the old woman, Yelena the Fair sat upon it and they soared up and away like birds. The bridegroom set off quickly in pursuit. He was clever and guessed that they had fled. He was within ten feet of them when they flew on the carpet into Russia. Just in time! He could not follow them there, so he turned back. But Prince Ivan and Yelena the Fair flew home to the rejoicing of all; and lived happily ever after.

Soviet Stories!

Pea-Roll Along…

There was once a man who had six sons and one daughter, Olenka by name. One day the sons went out to plough and they told their sister to bring them their dinner to the field.

“How will I find you there?” Olenka asked.

“We will make a furrow stretching from our house to the place where we will be,” said they.

And with that they drove away.

Now, in the forest beyond the field there lived a Dragon, and he came and filled in the furrow the brothers had made with earth and made a furrow of his own which led to the door of his house. And when Olenka went out to take her brothers dinner to them she followed it and walked straight into the Dragon’s courtyard. And the Dragon seized her and held her captive.

In the evening the brothers came home and they said to their mother:

“We were ploughing all day. Why didn’t you send us anything to eat, Mother?”

“But I did!’ the mother replied. “I sent Olenka to the field with your dinner. She must have lost her way.”

“We must go and look for her,” the brothers said.

They set out at once, and, seeing the Dragon’s furrow, followed it and came to his house. They walked in through the gate, and there was their sister running out to meet them!

“Oh, my brothers, my dear brothers, where will I hide you?” she cried. “The Dragon is out now but he will eat you up when he comes back!”

And lo! — there was the Dragon flying toward them.

“I smell a man, I smell many men!” he cried. “Well, now, my lads, is it to fight me you have come or to make peace with me?”

“To fight you!”

“Very well, then, let us go to the iron threshing floor.”

They went to the iron threshing floor, but they did not fight long. For the Dragon struck them once and drove them into the floor. Then he pulled them out, more dead than alive, and threw them into a deep dungeon.

The mother and father waited for their sons to return, but they waited in vain.

One day the mother went to the river with her laundry, and what should she see rolling toward her along the road but a pea! She picked

“Perhaps I can free you,” said Pea-Roll Along.

“My brothers, and there were six of them, tried and could not do it, so how can you!”

“We shall see what we shall see!” said Pea-Roll Along.

And he sat down to wait by a window.

By and by the Dragon came flying back. He stepped into the house, sniffed and said:

“I smell a man!”

“Of course you do, for here I am!” said Pea-Roll Along, coming forward.

“And what brings you here, my lad? Do you want to fight me or to make peace with me?”

“I want to fight you!”

“Well, then, let us go to the iron threshing floor!”


They came to the threshing floor, and the Dragon faced Pea-Roll Along.

“You strike first!” he said.

“No, you do!” said Pea-Roll Along.

At this the Dragon pounced on Pea-Roll Along and struck him such a blow that he sank ankle-deep into the iron threshing floor. But Pea-Roll Along was out again in a flash and he gave the Dragon an answering blow with his mace and drove him knee-deep into the floor. The Dragon heaved himself out and he again came at Pea-Roll Along and drove him as deep into the floor as he had just been driven himself. But Pea-Roll Along was not one to be frightened. He struck the Dragon a blow which drove him waist-deep into the floor, and then another that killed him on the spot.

After that he made his way to the dungeon, freed his brothers, who were more dead than alive, and, taking them and his sister Olenka with him, and all the gold and silver the Dragon had in the house too, set out for home. But he never told them that he was their brother.

Whether they were long on their way or not nobody knows, but by and by they sat down for a rest under an oak tree, and so tired was Pea-Roll Along after having battled the Dragon that he fell fast asleep. And his six brothers talked it all over among themselves and said:

“We will be mocked at when it becomes known that the six of us could not do away with the Dragon while this young lad here did it all by himself. And he will get all the Dragon’s riches besides.”

And they decided to tie Pea-Roll Along while he was asleep and Helpless to the oak tree and leave him there to be eaten up by a wild beast.

No sooner said than done. They bound Pea-Roll Along to the tree, left him there and went away.

And Pea-Roll Along slept on and felt nothing. He slept for a day and he slept for a night, and he woke to find himself bound to the oak tree. But he jerked and heaved, and lo! — out came the tree, roots and all, from the ground, and Pea-Roll Along threw it over his shoulder and went home.

He came up to his house and he heard his brothers talking to their mother.

“Did you have any more children, Mother, after we left home?” they asked.

“Yes, indeed!” the mother replied. “I had a son, Pea-Roll Along by name, who went to seek you.”

“Then it must have been he we bound to the oak tree. We shall have to go back at once and untie him!”

But Pea-Roll Along waved the oak tree he was carrying and it struck the roof of the hut so hard that the but all but tumbled to the ground.

“Stay where you are since you are what you are and no better, my brothers!” he cried. “I will go off by myself and roam the wide world.”

And he shouldered his mace and away he went.

He walked and he walked and he saw two mountains ahead. Between them stood a man who had his hands and his feet set against them and was trying to push them apart.

“Good morning, friend!” Pea-Roll Along called out.

“Good morning to you!” the man replied.

“What are you doing?”

“Moving the mountains apart to make a path for passers-by.”

“Where are you going?”

“To see the world and seek my fortune.”

“I am out to do the same. What is your name?”

“Move-Mountain. What’s yours?”

“Pea-Roll Along. Let’s go together!”


They went along together, they walked and they walked, and they saw a man in the forest who was pulling out oak trees by their roots. And he had only to give a tree one twist, and out it came!

“Good morning, friend!” called Pea-Roll Along and Move-Mountain.

“Good morning to you, my lads!” the man called back.

“What are you doing?”

“Uprooting oak trees to make a path for anyone who wants to walk here.”

“Where are you going?”

“To seek my fortune.”

“We are out to do the same. What’s your name?”

“Twist-Oak. And yours?”

“Pea-Roll Along and Move-Mountain. Let’s go together!”


The three of them went on together, they walked and they walked, and they saw a man sitting on the bank of a river. The man had the longest of long whiskers, and he had only to twirl one of them for the waters to part and roll away, leaving a path for anyone who wanted to walk over the river bed.

“Good morning, friend!” they called to him.

“Good morning to you, my lads!”

“What are you doing?”

“Parting the waters in order to cross the river.”

“Where are you going?”

“To seek my fortune.”

“We are out to do the same. What’s your name?”

“Twirl-Whisker. What are yours?”

“Pea-Roll Along, Move-Mountain and Twist-Oak. Let’s go together!”


They went on together and had an easy time of it, for Move-Mountain

moved aside every mountain, Twist-Oak uprooted every forest, and Twirl-Whisker parted the waters of every river that was in their way.

They walked and they walked, and they came to a small hut standing in the middle of a large forest. They stepped inside, and lo! — there was no one there.

“Here’s where we will spend the night!” said Pea-Roll Along.

They spent the night in the hut, and in the morning Pea-Roll Along said:

“You stay at home, Move-Mountain, and make dinner, and we three will go hunting.”

They went away, and Move-Mountain cooked a big dinner and lay down for a sleep.

All of a sudden there came a rap at the door: rap-tap-tap!

“Open the door!” someone called.

“I’m no servant of yours to open doors!” Move-Mountain called back.

The door opened, and the same voice called again:

“Carry me over the threshold!”

“You’re no lord of mine, so don’t wail or whine!” Move-Mountain called back.

And lo! — there climbed over the threshold the tiniest old man that ever was, with a beard so long that it dragged over the floor. The little old man caught Move-Mountain by the hair and hung him on a nail on the wall. Then he ate all there was to eat and drank all there was to drink, and after cutting a long strip of skin from Move-Mountain’s back, went away.

Move-Mountain twisted and turned on the nail till he broke loose, and then he set to work making dinner anew. He was still at it when his friends returned.

“Why are you so late getting dinner?” they asked.

“I dozed off and forgot about it,” said Move-Mountain.

They ate their fill and went to bed, and on the following morning Pea-Roll Along said:

“Now you stay at home, Twist-Oak, and the rest of us will go hunting.”

They went away, and Twist-Oak cooked a big dinner and lay down for a sleep.

All of a sudden there came a rap at the door: rap-tap-tap!

“Open the door!” a voice called.

“I’m no servant of yours to open doors!” Twist-Oak called back.

“Carry me over the threshold!” the same voice called again.

“You’re no lord of mine, so don’t wail or whine!” Twist-Oak replied.

And lo! — there climbed over the threshold and stepped into the hut the tiniest little old man that ever was, with a beard so long that it trailed over the floor. The old man grabbed Twist-Oak by the hair and hung him on a nail, and then ate all there was to eat and drank all there was to drink, and, after cutting a long strip of skin from Twist-Oak’s back, went away.

Twist-Oak twisted and turned this way and that till he succeeded in breaking free, and then he started to make dinner again. He was still at it when his friends returned.

“Why are you so late getting dinner?” they asked.

“I dozed off and only woke a little while ago,” said Twist-Oak.

Move-Mountain, who guessed what had happened, said nothing.

On the third day Twirl-Whisker was the one to remain at home, and the same thing happened to him.

Said Pea-Roll Along:

“You three are very slow getting dinner. Tomorrow you’ll go hunting and I’ll stay home.”

Morning came, and Pea-Roll Along remained at home while his three friends went hunting. He cooked a big dinner, and just as he lay down for a nap there came a rap at the door: rap-tap-tap!

“Open up!” a voice called.

Pea-Roll Along opened the door, and there before him was the tiniest little old man that ever lived, with a beard so long that it trailed over the floor.

“Carry me over the threshold, my lad!” said the little old man.

Pea-Roll Along picked him up, carried him into the hut and set him down on the floor, and the little old man began dancing round and round and taking little flying jumps at him.

“What do you want?” asked Pea-Roll Along.

“You’ll soon see what I want!” said the little old man. He stretched out his hand and was about to seize Pea-Roll Along by the hair, but Pea-Roll Along cried out, “Oh, so that’s the sort you are!” and caught him by the beard instead. Then, taking an axe, he dragged the little old man outside and up to an oak tree, split the oak tree in two, and thrust the little old man’s beard deep into the cleft, pinning it fast.

“You were wicked enough to try to catch me by the hair, Grandpa,” he said, “so now you’ll have to stay here till I return.”

Back he went to the hut, and he found his three friends waiting for him there.

“Is dinner ready?” they asked.

“Yes, it’s been ready and waiting a long time,” Pea-Roll Along replied.

They sat down and began eating, and after they had finished he


“Come with me and I will show you a most strange sight.” He led them outside, but oddly enough there was no oak tree there and

no little old man either. For the little old man had pulled out the oak

tree by the roots and dragged it away with him.

Pea-Roll Along then told his friends of all that had happened to him,

and they, on their part, confessed that the little old man had had them

hanging from a nail and had cut strips of skin from their backs.

“He’s a wicked old thing, is the little old man, and we had better go and find him,” said Pea-Roll Along.

Now, the little old man had been dragging the oak tree and had thus left a trail which they found easy to follow. The trail led them to a hole in the ground so deep that it seemed bottomless.

Pea-Roll Along turned to Move-Mountain.

“Climb down the hole, Move-Mountain!” he said.

“Not I!” answered Move-Mountain.

“How about you, Twist-Oak, or you, Twirl-Whisker?”

But neither Twist-Oak nor Twirl-Whisker would risk climbing down the hole.

“All right, then, I’ll do it!” said Pea-Roll Along. “But I’ll need a rope. Let’s plait one!”

They plaited a rope, and Pea-Roll Along wound one end of it round his wrist.

“Now let me down!” he said.

They began letting him down, and it took them a long time, for so deep was the hole that to reach its bottom was like trying to reach the nether world itself. But they got him down at last, and Pea-Roll Along set out to explore the place. On he walked, and by and by he came across a huge palace. He went inside, and everything in the palace sparkled and shone, for it was made of gold studded with precious stones. He passed from chamber to chamber, and all of a sudden who should come running toward him but a princess, and so beautiful was she that her equal could not have been found anywhere in the world.

“What brings you here, good youth?” she asked.

“I am looking for a little old man with a beard that trails over the ground,” said Pea-Roll Along.

“He got his beard stuck in the cleft of a tree and is now trying to pull it out,” said the princess. “Don’t go to him or he will kill you as he has killed others.”

“He won’t kill me,” said Pea-Roll Along. “It was I who caught him by the beard and stuck it in the cleft. But who are you?”

“I am a princess, the daughter of a king. The little old man carried me off and is keeping me captive here.”

“I will free you, never fear! Just take me to him.”

The princess led Pea-Roll Along to the little old man, and lo!—there he sat stroking his beard which he had pulled out of the cleft. At the sight of Pea-Roll Along he turned red with anger.

“What brings you here — have you come to fight me or to make peace with me?” he asked.

“I am here to fight you!” said Pea-Roll Along. “Do you think I would make peace with the likes of you?”

They began to fight, and they fought fiercely and long till at last Pea-Roll Along struck the little old man with his mace and killed him at once.

After that Pea-Roll Along and the princess took all the gold and gems they could find in the palace, and, filling three sacks full of them, made for the hole down which Pea-Roll Along had climbed into the underground kingdom.

They came to it soon enough, and Pea-Roll Along cupped his hands round his mouth and began calling to his friends.

“Are you still there, my brothers?” he called.

“We are!” came the reply.

Pea-Roll Along tied one of the sacks to the rope.

“Pull it up, brothers! he called again. “The sack is yours!”

They pulled up the sack and let the rope down again, and Pea-Roll Along tied the second sack to it.

“Pull it up! This one is yours too!” he called.

He sent up the third sack as well, and then he tied the princess to the rope.

“The princess is mine!” he called.

The three friends pulled out the princess, and now only Pea-Roll Along was left at the bottom of the hole.

“Let’s pull him up and then let go of the rope!” said they. “He will fall and be killed, and the princess will be ours.”

But Pea-Roll Along guessed what they were up to and tied a large stone to the rope

“Now pull me up!” he called.

They pulled up the rope nearly to the top and then let go of it, and down came the stone with a crash!

“A fine lot of friends I have!” said Pea-Roll Along, and he set out to roam the kingdom at the bottom of the hole.

On and on he walked, and all of a sudden the sky became overcast, and it began to rain and to hail. Pea-Roll Along hid under an oak tree, and as he stood there he heard the chirping of baby griffins coming from a nest at the top of the tree. He climbed the tree, and, taking off his coat, covered the birds with it.

The rain stopped, and a huge griffin, the nestlings’ father, came flying up.

“Who was it that covered you, my little ones?” asked he.

“We’ll tell you if you promise not to eat him up,” said the nestlings.

“I won’t, never fear!”

“Well, do you see that man sitting under the tree? It was he who did it.”

The griffin flew down from the tree.

“Ask of me whatever you want, and I will do it!” said he to Pea-Roll Along. “For this is the first time that none of my children has drowned in such a downpour, with me away.”

“Take me to my own kingdom,” said Pea-Roll Along.

“That is not easy to do, but if we take six barrels of meat and six of water with us I may be able to do it,” the griffin said. “Every time I turn my head to the right you will throw a piece of meat into my mouth, and every time I turn it to the left you will give me a sip of water. If you don’t do it we’ll never get there, for I’ll die on the way.”

They took six barrels of meat and six of water. Pea-Roll Along put them on the griffin’s back and climbed on himself, and away they flew! And whenever the griffin turned his head to the right Pea-Roll Along put some meat into his mouth, and whenever he turned it to the left he gave him a sip of water.

They flew for a long time and had nearly reached Pea-Roll Along’s kingdom when the griffin turned his head to the right again. Pea-Roll Along looked into the barrel, the last of the six, and, seeing that there was not a scrap of meat left there, cut off a piece of his own leg and gave it to him.

“What was it that I just ate? It was very good,” the griffin asked.

“A piece of my own flesh,” replied Pea-Roll Along pointing to his leg.

The griffin said nothing, but spat out the piece, and leaving Pea-Roll Along to wait for him, flew off to fetch some living water. He was back with it before long, and no sooner had they put the piece that he had cut off to Pea-Roll Along’s leg and sprinkled it with the living water than it grew fast to it again.

After that the griffin flew home, and Pea-Roll Along went to seek his three faithless friends.

Now, the three had made their way to the palace of the princess’s father, the king, and they were now living there and quarrelling among
themselves, for each of them wanted to marry the princess and would not give her up to the others.

It was there that Pea-Roll Along found them, and when they saw him they turned white with fright.

“Traitors deserve no mercy! cried Pea-Roll Along, and he struck them with his mace and killed them.

Soon after that he married the princess, and they lived happily ever after.

Soviet Stories!


Once there lived an old widower and his daughter. In due time, the man remarried to an older woman who had a daughter herself from a previous marriage. The woman doted on her own daughter, praising her at every opportunity, but she despised her stepdaughter

She found fault with everything the girl did and made her work long and hard all day long.

Morozko One day the old woman made up her mind to get rid of the stepdaughter once and for all. She ordered her husband:

“Take her somewhere so that my eyes no longer have to see her, so that my ears no longer have to hear her. And don’t take her to some relative’s house. Take her into the biting cold of the forest and leave her there.”

The old man grieved and wept but he knew that he could do nothing else; his wife always had her way. So he took the girl into the forest and left her there. He turned back quickly so that he wouldn’t have to see his girl freeze.

Oh, the poor thing, sitting there in the snow, with her body shivering and her teeth chattering! Then Morozko (the Father Frost), leaping from tree to tree, came upon her. “Are you warm, my lass?” he asked.

“Welcome, my dear Morozko. Yes, I am quite warm,” she said, even though she was cold through and through.

At first, Morozko had wanted to freeze the life out of her with his icy grip. But he admired the young girl’s stoicism and showed mercy. He gave her a warm fur coat and downy quilts before he left. In a short while, Morozko returned to check on the girl.

“Are you warm, my lass?” he asked.

“Welcome again, my dear Morozko. Yes, I am very warm,” she said.

And indeed she was warmer. So this time Morozko brought a large box for her to sit on. A little later, Morozko returned once more to ask how she was doing. She was doing quite well now, and this time Morozko gave her silver and gold jewelry to wear, with enough extra jewels to fill the box on which she was sitting!

Meanwhile, back at her father’s hut, the old woman told her husband to go back into the forest to bring back the body of his daughter. He did as he was ordered. He arrived at the spot where had left her, and was overjoyed when he saw his daughter alive, wrapped in a sable coat and adorned with silver and gold. When he arrived home with his daughter and the box of jewels, his wife looked on in amazement.

Morozko” Harness the horse, you old goat, and take my own daughter to that same spot in the forest and leave her there,” she said.

The old man did as he was told. Like the other girl at first, the old woman’s daughter began to shake and shiver. In a short while, Morozko came by and asked her how she was doing.

“Are you blind?” she replied. “Can’t you see that my hands and feet are quite numb? Curse you, you miserable old man!” Dawn had hardly broken the next day when, back at the old man’s hut, the old woman woke her husband and told him to bring back her daughter, adding:

“Be careful with the box of jewels.” The old man obeyed and went to fetch the girl. A short while later, the gate to the yard creaked. The old woman went outside and saw her husband standing next to the sleigh. She rushed forward and pulled aside the sleigh’s cover. To her horror, she saw the body of her daughter, frozen by an angry Morozko. She began to scream and berate her husband, but it was all in vein. Later, the old man’s daughter married a neighbor, had children, and lived happily. Her father would visit his grandchildren every now and then, and remind them always to respect Old Man Winter…

Masha and The Bear…

Once upon a time there lived an old man and woman who had a granddaughter named Masha. One day some friends of Masha’s decided to go to the forest to gather mushrooms and berries and they came to Masha’s house to ask her to go with them.

“Please, Grannie and Gram-pa,” said Masha, “do let me go to the forest”

“You may go but see that you keep close to the others and do not lose sight of them or you might get lost”, the two old people replied.

Masha and her friends came to the forest and began to hunt for the mushrooms and berries. From bush to bush, from tree to tree went Masha. Before she knew it she had strayed away from her friends. When at last she saw that she was all alone she began to halloo and call to them, but her friends did not hear her and made no answer. Masha went here and there, she walked all over the forest, and there before her she saw a little hut. Masha knocked on the door but there was no answer, so she gave the door a push and lo! the door opened. Masha went into the hut and sat down on a bench by the window.

“I wonder who lives here she thought”. Now in that hut lived a great big bear, only he was out walking in the forest just then. It was evening by the time he came home and when he saw Masha he was very pleased.

“Aha”, said he, “now I’ll never let you go!. You will live here in my house as meek as a mouse, and you will cook my dinner and my breakfast too, and be my servant, faithful and true.”

Masha grieved and sorrowed for a long time, but it could not be helped, and so she stayed with the bear and kept house for him. Every day the bear would go into the forest for the day and before leaving, he would tell Masha to stay in the hut and wait for him.

“You must never go out without me, he told her, for if you do I will catch you and eat you up.”

So Masha sat thing of how she could get away from the bear. All around was the forest and there was no one to ask which way to go. She thought and thought until she knew what to do.

That day, when the bear came back from the forest, Masha said to him:

” Bear, Bear do let me to to my village for a day. I want to take something good to eat for my Grandma and Grandpa.”

“No that wont do at all” said the bear, “you will get lost in the forest, but if you give me what it is you want to give your Grandma and Grandpa, I will take it myself”.

Now that was all that Masha wanted to hear. She baked some pies, put them on a plate, and getting out a very large basket, said to the bear:

“I’ll put the pies in the basket and you can take them to my Grandma and Grandpa. But mind you are not to open the basket on the way and you are not to eat any of the pies. I am going to climb to the top of the big oak tree and watch that you do not open the basket.”

“Very well “, said the bear, “Give me the basket”.

The bear went out on the porch to make sure that it was not raining. When he did, Masha crawled into the basket and covered herself with the pies. The bear came in, and there was the basket all ready to go. So he strapped the basket on his back and started off. Tramp-tramp went the bear amid the spruce trees. Clumpity-clumphe went amid the birch trees, up hill and down dale went his long winding trail, and on and on he walked. At last he got tired and sat down to rest.

“If I don’t rest my bones I think I will die, So I will sit on a stump And I’ll eat a pie”, said the Bear.

But Masha called out from the basket:

“I see you, I see you Don’t sit on the stump And don’t eat my pie But take it to Grandma And Grandpa, say I”.

“Dear me what sharp eyes eyes Masha has”, said the bear, “she sees everything”.

He picked up the basket and went on. He stopped again and said:

“If I don’t rest my bones, I think I will dies, so I’ll sit on a stump and eat a pie”.

But Masha called out again from the basket:

“I see you, I see you! Don’t sit on the stump, and don’t eat my pie, but take it to Grandma and Grandpa, say I”.

“What a clever little girls Masha is”, said the bear. “She is sitting high up in a tree and she is far away, but she sees all I do and she hears all I say”.

He got to his feet and walked on and on even faster than before. He came to the village and finding the house where Masha’s grandfather and grandmother lived he began to bang away on the gate with all his might.

” KNOCK, KNOCK, open the gate”, he cried, “I have brought something for you from Masha, he cried”.

But the village dogs scented the bear and rushed out at him from every yard, yelping and barking. The bear was frightened, he set down the basket by the gate and away he ran as fast as he could without looking back.

The old man and woman came up to the gate and saw the basket.

“What is in the basket”, the old woman asked.

The old man lifted the top, and looked and he could not believe his eyes. For there in the basket sat Masha alive and well. The old man and woman were overjoyed. They kissed and hugged and embraced. Masha and they said she was as clever as clever can be, as indeed all our readers will surely agree.

Soviet Stories!

Tales From a Soviet Childhood…