The Russian Garland - being Russian Falk Tales
Author: Various
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PAGE Foreword vii

Story of Lyubim Tsarevich and the Winged Wolf 1

Story of the most wonderful and noble Self-Playing Harp 16

The Seven Brothers Simeon 29

Story of Ivan, the Peasant's Son 39

Story of the Golden Mountain 50

Iliya of Murom and the Robber Nightingale 61

The Renowned Hero, Bova Korolevich and the Princess Drushnevna 68

The Mild Man and his Cantankerous Wife 117

Story of the Duck with Golden Eggs 125

Story of Bulat the Brave Companion 131

Story of Prince Malandrach and the Princess Salikalla 142

Story of a Shoemaker and his Servant Prituitshkin 153

Emelyan, the Fool 166

The Judgment of Shemyaka 183

Story of Prince Peter with the Golden Keys, and the Princess Magilene 187

Sila Tsarevich and Ivashka with the White Smock 194

Story of the Knight Yaroslav Lasarevich and the Princess Anastasia 202


PAGE The Horse grew restive, reared higher than the waving forest Frontispiece

Instantly upstarted Lyubim Tsarevich, put on his armour and leapt upon his steed 4

At length they fell in with a cripple on the road 64

"Alas! my gracious mother, why have you put me in prison?" 74

The Judge thought that the bundle was full of roubles 184

And so saying, he stretched out his hand to take the sword 226


The special interest of this volume of Russian Folk Tales is that it is a translation from a collection of peasant Chap-books of all sorts made in Moscow about 1830, long before the Censorship had in great measure stopped the growth of popular literature. It is not necessary to dilate upon the peculiarities of Chap-books and their methods: in the conditions of their existence many of the finest qualities of the primitive stories are eliminated, but on the other hand certain essentials are enforced. The story must be direct, the interest sustained, and the language however fine, simple and easily understood.

It is to be hoped that some of these merits have been preserved in this translation: for this book is intended to appeal to a class of severe and incorruptible critics—the children of to-day. To older critics the matter is also interesting. Who on earth would ever expect to find in a Russian Chap-book printed in Slavonic type on a coarse broadside sheet the Provencal legend of "Pierre et Maguelonne" or the Old English tale of "Bevis of Hampton." And the mystery deepens when one is told that Bevis of Hampton is ages old in Russia, however the names have been re-furbished by the printer to—not the English, but—the Italian form. Some of the tales are evidently of German origin—adopted and made Russian, like that of the "Seven Simeons" or "Emelyan, the Fool"; others are as evidently Eastern. A few date from the Russian Epics, like that of "Iliya of Murom" and "Ivan the Peasant's Son"; others are of later date, like that of "The Judgment of Shemyaka," who was a historic character who lived about 1446.

It is hardly necessary to dilate on the peculiar expressions here to be found; how that a child grows "not day by day, but hour by hour," how that when the Tsar wants to drink "beer is not brewed nor brandy distilled," seeing he is served at once, how the hero passes through "thrice nine lands to the thirtieth country," how brothers are always in threes, and how the youngest always succeeds where his elders fail. Students of folklore will know all about them, and the rest of us must take them on trust. Do you know why you must never go under a ladder?

R. S.


In a certain country there once lived a Tsar named Elidarovich, with his wife, Militissa Ibrahimovna, who had three sons. The eldest son was named Aksof Tsarevich, the second Hut Tsarevich, and the youngest, Lyubim Tsarevich; and they grew, not from day to day, but from hour to hour. And when the eldest son was twenty years of age, he begged leave of his parents to travel in other countries, and seek a beautiful princess for his wife. So his parents at last consented, gave him their blessing, and dismissed him to the four quarters of the earth.

Not long after this, Hut Tsarevich in like manner begged permission of his parents to travel; and Tsar Elidar and the Tsarina gave their consent with the greatest pleasure. And so Hut Tsarevich went out into the world too, and they wandered about a long while, until at length nothing more was heard or seen of them, and they were given up for dead.

As the Tsar and the Tsarina were troubled and wept for their lost sons, came the youngest son, Lyubim Tsarevich, and likewise entreated them to let him go forth to seek his brothers. But his parents said to him: "Son, you are too young and cannot undertake so long a journey; and how can we part with you, our only child left to us? We are already in years, and to whom should we leave our crown?" But Lyubim Tsarevich would not be denied; he remained firm to his purpose, and said: "It is needful for me to travel and see the world; for if ever I am called to rule over the country, I must learn to do so with justice."

When the Tsar Elidar and Tsarina Militissa heard these words from their son, they were overjoyed, and gave him their consent to travel; but only for a short time, and making him promise to have no companions, nor expose himself to any great dangers. Upon taking leave, Lyubim bethought him how to provide himself with a knightly steed and a suit of armour; and as he went musing thus to the city, an old woman met him, who said: "Why are you so sad, my dear Lyubim Tsarevich?" But he did not give her an answer, and passed by the old woman without saying a word. But then he bethought him that old folk are wiser than young ones, turned round, and going up to the old woman, accosted her. And Lyubim Tsarevich said to her: "At the first meeting, mother, I disdained to tell you why I was sad, but it came into my mind that old folk must know more than young ones." "There it is, Lyubim Tsarevich," said the old woman, "you can't easily get away from old folk. Say, why are you sad? Tell the old wife." And Lyubim Tsarevich said to her: "I have no good horse and no armour, yet I must travel far and wide in search of my brothers." Then the old woman said: "What think you? There is a horse and a suit of armour in your father's forbidden meadow,[A] behind twelve gates, and this horse is fastened by twelve chains. On that meadow is also a broadsword and a fine suit of armour."

[A] The "royal forbidden meadows" were those belonging to the Sovereign, the use of which was strictly forbidden to his subjects. When an enemy came into the country they first pitched their camp in these fields, as a declaration of hostilities.

When Lyubim Tsarevich had heard this, and thanked the old woman, he went straightway, overjoyed, to the forbidden meadow. On reaching the place where the horse was, he stopped, and bethought him, "How shall I break through the twelve gates?" At last he made the attempt, and presently broke down one gate; then the steed perceived by his scent the presence of the brave youth, and with a great effort burst his chains; and then Lyubim Tsarevich broke through three more gates, and the steed trampled down the rest. Then Lyubim Tsarevich surveyed the steed and the armour; and put on the armour, but left the steed in the meadow; after which he went to his home, found his parents, and with great joy told them all that had befallen him, and how an old woman had helped him, and begged their blessing on his travels. So his parents gave him their blessing, and, mounting his good steed, he set forth on his journey. And he went his way, and travelled until he came at length to a place where three roads met; in the centre stood a column, with three inscriptions, which ran as follows: "He who turns to the right will have plenty to eat, but his steed will starve; he who goes straight forward will hunger himself, but his steed will have food enough; and whoever takes the left road will be slain by the Winged Wolf."

When Lyubim Tsarevich read this, he pondered over it, and resolved to go no other road but to choose the left, and either be slain himself, or destroy the Winged Wolf, and free all those who might be travelling that way. So he journeyed on until he came to the open plains, where he pitched his tent to rest, when on a sudden he perceived in the west the Winged Wolf come flying toward him. Instantly upstarted Lyubim Tsarevich, put on his armour, and leaped upon his steed. And Lyubim rode at the Wolf, which beat him so hard with his wings that he nearly fell from his horse; nevertheless, Lyubim kept his seat, flew into a violent rage, and with his battle-sword struck the Winged Wolf a blow that felled him to the ground, and injured his right wing so that he could no longer fly.

When the Wolf came to himself he said to Lyubim Tsarevich, in a human voice: "Do not kill me! I will be useful to you and serve you as your trusty servant." Then Lyubim Tsarevich replied: "Know you where my brothers are?" And the Wolf answered: "They have long ago been slain; but we will bring them to life again when we have won the beautiful Princess." "How shall we do that?" said Lyubim Tsarevich. "Hark ye," replied the Wolf; "leave your steed here, and——."

"How! What shall I do without my horse?" cried Lyubim.

"Only hear me out," said the Wolf; "I will change myself into a horse, and carry you; but this steed of yours is not fit for the task we have to do; in the city where the Princess lives, there are strings from the walls to all the bells in the city; and we must leap over all these without touching the smallest, otherwise we shall be taken." Lyubim Tsarevich saw at once that the Wolf spoke wisely, so he consented, and exclaimed, "On then!"

Away they went, until they came to the white stone wall of the city; and when Lyubim Tsarevich looked on it he grew frightened. "How is it possible to leap over this high white stone wall?" said he to the Wolf. But the Wolf replied: "It is not hard for me to jump over this; but afterwards fresh obstacles will arise, from your falling in love; then you must bathe in the water of life, and take some for your brothers, and also some of the water of death."

Thereupon they leaped safely over the city wall, without touching a stone. Lyubim Tsarevich stopped at the palace and went to the court of the beautiful Princess. And as he entered the first apartment he found a number of chamber women all fast asleep, but the Princess was not there; he found her not. Then went Lyubim Tsarevich into the second room, where he found a number of beautiful ladies-in-waiting, all fast asleep, but the Princess was still not there. Then Lyubim went into the third apartment, and there he saw the Princess herself, sleeping; and his heart was on fire with her beauty, and he fell so deeply in love that he could not tear himself away from her presence. But at last, fearing he might be seized if he remained too long, he went into the garden to fetch some of the waters of life and of death. Then he bathed in the water of life, and taking with him bladders-full of both waters, he returned to his Wolf. And as he was sitting on his Wolf-steed, the Wolf said to him: "You have become very heavy. We cannot leap back over the wall, but shall strike against it and wake everyone up. Nevertheless you shall kill them; and when they are all slain, be sure to seize on a white horse. I will then help you to fight; and as soon as we reach our tent, take your own steed, and I will mount the white horse. And when we have slain all the warriors, the Princess herself will come to meet you and offer to be your wife, professing a violent love for you."

Thereupon they attempted to leap over the high city wall; but they touched the strings, and instantly the bells rang an alarm through all the city, and the drums beat. Then every one jumped up and ran out of the court with their weapons, whilst some opened the gate that no misfortune might befall the Princess. Presently the Princess herself awoke; and, perceiving that a youth had been in the apartment, she gave an alarm, which soon brought all the courtiers around her. There was speedily gathered a crowd of famous and valiant knights, and she said to them: "Now ye brave warriors, go forth and fetch hither this youth and bring me his head; so shall his boldness be punished!"

And the valiant knights promised her: "We will not rest until we have slain him, and brought his head to you, even if he were in the midst of an army." So the Princess dismissed them, and went up into her balcony, and gazed after her army and after the stranger who had dared to intrude into the privacy of her court, and caress her in her sleep.

When the alarm was given, Lyubim Tsarevich had already ridden a great distance on his Wolf-steed, and was half-way to his tent before he could be overtaken. As soon as he saw them approach, he wheeled about and grew furious at beholding such an array of Knights in the field. Then they fell upon him; but Lyubim Tsarevich laid about him valiantly with his sword, and slew many, whilst his horse trod down still more under his hoofs, and it ended in their slaying nearly all the little knightlets. And Lyubim Tsarevich saw one single knight mounted upon a white steed, with a head like a beer-barrel, who rode at him; but Lyubim Tsarevich slew him also, leaped on the white horse, and left the Wolf to rest. When they had rested they betook themselves to their tent.

When the beautiful Princess saw Lyubim Tsarevich overcome singly such a large host, she collected a still larger army and sent them forth against him, whilst she went back again to her balcony.

But Lyubim Tsarevich came to his tent, and there the Wolf transformed himself into a valiant knight, such as no one could imagine except in a fairy-tale. And presently the army of the beautiful Tsarevna was seen approaching—a countless host; whereupon Lyubim Tsarevich mounted his white steed, accompanied by his companion the Wolf, and awaited their attack; and when the army of the beautiful Tsarevna was near, Lyubim, taking the right wing, ordered the Wolf to attack the left, and they made ready for the charge. Then on a sudden they fell upon the warriors of the Tsarevna with a fierce onset, mowing them down like grass, until only two persons remained on the field, the Wolf and Lyubim Tsarevich. And after this dreadful fight was ended the brave Wolf said to Lyubim: "See, yonder comes the beautiful Tsarevna herself, and she will ask you to take her to wife; there is nothing more to fear from her; I have expiated my crimes through my bravery; dismiss me now, and let me return to my own kingdom." So Lyubim Tsarevich thanked him for his service and counsel and bade him farewell.

The Wolf thereupon vanished; and when Lyubim Tsarevich saw the beautiful Princess coming toward him, he rejoiced, and, going to meet her, he took her by her white hands, kissing her honey-sweet mouth, pressed her to his stormy heart, and said: "Did I not love you, my dearest fair Tsarevna, I should not have remained here; but you have seen that my love was stronger than your armies." Then the fair Tsarevna replied: "Ah! thou valiant knight. Thou hast overcome all my powers, and my strong and famous knights, on whom my hopes relied; and my city is now desolate. I will leave it and go with you; henceforth you shall be my protector."

"Joyfully do I take you for my wife," replied Lyubim Tsarevich, "and I will guard and protect you and your kingdom faithfully." Conversing thus they entered the tent, and sat down to rest and feast.

Early the next morning they mounted their horses and set out on their journey to the kingdom of Elidar; and on the way Lyubim Tsarevich said: "Ah! thou fair Princess, I had two elder brothers, who left our home before I did, in hopes of winning your hand; in these wilds they have been murdered, and where their remains lie I do not know; but I have brought with me the waters of life and death, and will seek and restore them to life; they cannot be far distant from our road; do you therefore ride on to the pillar with the inscriptions, and wait for me. I shall soon rejoin you."

So saying, Lyubim Tsarevich parted from his fair Princess, and went forth to seek his brothers' remains. He found them at last among some trees; and after sprinkling them with the water of death, they grew together; then he sprinkled them with the water of life, and his two brothers became alive, and stood up on their feet. Then Aksof and Hut Tsarevich exclaimed: "Ah! brother! how long have we been sleeping here?" And Lyubim Tsarevich said: "Ay, indeed, and you might have still slept on for ever, had it not been for me." Then he related to them all his adventures—how he had conquered the Wolf, and won the beautiful Princess, and had brought them the waters of life and death. Thereupon they repaired to the tent, where the fair Tsarevna was waiting for them; and they all rejoiced and feasted together.

When they had retired to rest, Aksof Tsarevich said to his brother Hut Tsarevich: "How shall we go to our father Elidar and our mother Militissa, and what shall we say to them? Our youngest brother can boast that he won the beautiful Princess and awakened us from death. Is it not disgraceful for us to live with him? Had we not better kill him at once?" So they agreed, and took the battle-sword and cut Lyubim Tsarevich to pieces, and cast his remains to the winds. Then they threatened the Princess with the same fate if she betrayed the secret to anyone; and, drawing lots, the waters of life and death fell to Hut, and the beautiful Princess to Aksof Tsarevich.

So they journeyed on to their father's kingdom; and when they reached the forbidden meadows, and had pitched their tents, the Tsar Elidar sent messengers to demand who had encamped there. Then Hut replied: "Aksof and Hut Tsarevich are come, with a beautiful Princess; and tell our father, the Tsar, that we have brought with us the waters of life and death."

The messenger immediately returned to the Court and told this to the Tsar, who inquired whether all his three sons were come; but the messenger replied: "Only the two eldest, your Majesty; the youngest is not with them." The Tsar, nevertheless, rejoiced greatly, and hastened to tell the Tsarina, his wife, of the return of their two eldest sons.

Then Tsar Elidar and Tsarina Militissa arose and went to meet their sons in the way, and unarmed them, and embraced them tenderly. And when they returned to the palace a great banquet was made, and they feasted seven days and seven nights. At the end of this time they began to think of the wedding, and to make preparations, and invite the guests, boyars, and brave warriors and knights.

Now, the Winged Wolf, who knew that they had slain their brother, Lyubim Tsarevich, ran and fetched the waters of life and death, collected all the remains of Lyubim, and sprinkled them with the water of death; thereupon the bones grew together, and no sooner had he sprinkled them with the water of life than the brave youth stood up, as if nothing had happened to him, and said: "Ah, what a time I have slept!" Then the Wolf answered: "Ay, you would have slept on for ever had I not come to awaken you"; and he related to Lyubim all that his brothers had done; and, changing himself into a horse, he said: "Hasten after them—you will be sure to overtake them; to-morrow your brother Aksof Tsarevich is to marry the Princess."

So Lyubim instantly set out, and the Wolf-steed galloped over hill and dale, until they arrived at the city of the Tsar, where Lyubim dismounted. Then he walked through the market, and bought a gusli; and stationed himself in a spot which the Princess would pass. And, as she was being conducted to the church, Lyubim Tsarevich began to sing the events of his youth, accompanying himself on the gusli; and when the beautiful Princess drew nigh, he sang of his brothers, and how cruelly they had slain him and deceived their father. Then the Princess stopped her carriage, and ordered her attendants to call to her the stranger with the gusli, and to ask his name and who he was. But without answering a word, Lyubim went straight to the Princess; and when she saw him, she was overjoyed, and, seating him in her carriage, they drove off to his parents.

When the Tsar Elidar and his wife Militissa, beheld their son Lyubim, they were unspeakably glad; and the beautiful Princess said: "Lyubim Tsarevich it was, and not Aksof, who gained my hand, and it was he, too, who obtained the waters of life and death." Then Lyubim related all his adventures; and the Tsar and Tsarina, after summoning their sons, Aksof and Hut, asked them why they had acted so unnaturally; but they denied the charge. Thereat the Tsar waxed wroth, and commanded that they should be shot at the gate of the city. Lyubim Tsarevich married the beautiful Princess, and they lived in perfect harmony for many years; and so this story has an end.


In a certain country there lived a king named Filon, whose wife Chaltura had an only son, named Astrach, who from his earliest years had a strong desire to render himself famous by knightly deeds. When he arrived at mature age, Astrach began to think of marrying, and he asked his father in what kingdom lived the most beautiful of all Tsar's or King's daughters. The King replied: "If it is your wish to marry, my dearest son, my noble child, I will show you the portraits of the daughters of the Tsars and Kings of all lands." So saying, he led Prince Astrach to a gallery, and showed him the pictures. After examining them all closely, Astrach fell passionately in love with the Tsarevna Osida, daughter of Afor, the Tsar of Egypt. Then he besought his father's blessing, and asked leave to repair to the Court of the Egyptian Sultan, to sue for the hand of Osida. King Filon rejoiced at the thought of his son's marrying, gave him his blessing, and dismissed him.

Then Prince Astrach went to seek a goodly steed in the royal stables, but could find none there to his mind. So he bade farewell to his father and mother, and started for his journey to Egypt alone on foot; and he wandered long, here and there, far and near, until at length he saw on the plain a palace of white marble, roofed with gold, which emitted beams of light, shining like the sun. Prince Astrach went up to the palace; and, on reaching it, he walked round the building, looking in at every window, to see if any persons were there; but he could discover no one. So he went into the courtyard, and wandered up and down for a long time; but there, too, he could see no living soul; then he entered the marble palace, and went from room to room, but all was silent and deserted. At length he came to an apartment, in which a table was spread for one person; and being very hungry, Prince Astrach sat down, and ate and drank his fill; after which he laid himself down on a bed and fell fast asleep.

As soon as he awoke, he wandered again through the palace until he came to a room, from the window of which he saw the most beautiful garden he had ever beheld, and it came into his mind to go for a walk in it. Then he went out of the palace and strolled about for a long time; and at length came to a stone wall, in which was an iron door, with a massive lock. As the Prince touched the lock he heard behind the door the neighing of a horse; and, wishing to remove the lock, he took up a huge stone in his arms and fell to hammering the door. At the first blow it burst open, and there behind it was a second iron door, with a lock like the first. This, too, he broke open, and found behind it ten other doors, through all of which he forced his way in like manner; and behind the last he beheld a noble charger, with a complete suit of armour. Then he went up and stroked the horse, which stood still as if rooted to the spot.

Prince Astrach forthwith proceeded to saddle his horse with a Tcherkess saddle, put a silken bridle into his mouth, and leading him out, mounted, and rode into the open fields. But as soon as he applied the spur, the horse grew restive, reared higher than the waving forests, plunged lower than the flying clouds; mountains and rivers he left behind; small streams he covered with his tail and broad rivers he crossed at a bound, until at length Prince Astrach so tired out the brave steed that he was covered with foam.

Then the horse spoke with a man's voice the following words: "O Prince, thou my noble rider, it is now three-and-thirty years since I served the dead Yaroslav Yaroslavovich—that stout and powerful knight—and I have borne him in many a single combat and battle; yet never have I been so worn out as to-day; now I am ready to serve you faithfully till death." Then Prince Astrach returned into the courtyard, put his brave steed into the stable, and gave him white corn and spring water; after which he went into the marble palace, ate and drank his fill, and then laid him down to sleep.

The following morning he rose early, saddled his good horse, and rode forth towards Egypt, to Tsar Afor, to sue for the hand of his daughter, the beautiful Tsarevna Osida. When he arrived at the court he announced himself as the son of King Filon, whereupon Tsar Afor received him with all honour, and enquired what purpose had brought him thither, to which Prince Astrach replied: "Great Tsar of all the lands of Egypt, I am not come to your Court to feast and banquet, but to ask for your lovely daughter to wife."

"Brave Knight, Prince Astrach," answered the Tsar, "I will gladly bestow my daughter on you; but one service you must render me. The unbelieving Tartar Tsar is drawing near, and threatens to lay waste my kingdom, to carry off my daughter, and slay me and my wife." Prince Astrach replied: "My gracious lord, Tsar Afor, readily will I go forth to battle for the Faith with this unbelieving Tsar; and to protect your city from untimely destruction." Whereat Tsar Afor was glad at heart, and ordered a great banquet to be prepared for the bold and fair Prince Astrach; so there was great feasting, and the betrothal took place with all solemnity.

The next day the Busurman army of three hundred thousand men arrived before the city, whereat Tsar Afor was greatly alarmed, and took counsel with Astrach. Then the Prince saddled his steed, went into the royal palace, and offered up his prayers, bowing himself to all four quarters of the globe. After this he took leave of Tsar Afor and his wife, and his betrothed Tsarevna, the beautiful Osida, and rode straight to the enemy's camp; and when he spurred his charger, the steed bounded from the earth higher than the waving forests, and lower than the drifting clouds; mountains and valleys he left beneath his feet, small streams he covered with his tail, wide rivers he sprang across, and at length arrived at the enemy's camp. Then Prince Astrach fell upon the Busurmen with fearful slaughter, and in a short time cut them to pieces; and wherever he waved his arm, a way was opened, and where he turned his horse there was a clear space for him; so he routed and destroyed the whole army, took the Busurman Tsar himself prisoner, and brought him to Tsar Afor, who threw him into prison.

Then there was great feasting and rejoicing, and the revels lasted for a whole fortnight. At the end of this time, Prince Astrach reminded Tsar Afor of his marriage contract with the Tsarevna Osida; and Tsar Afor ordered a great banquet to be made, and bade his daughter prepare for the wedding. When the Tsarevna heard this, she called Prince Astrach and said: "My beloved friend and bridegroom, you are in too great a haste to marry; only think how dull a wedding feast would be without any music, for my father has no players. Therefore, dear friend, ride off, I entreat you, through thrice nine lands, to the thirtieth kingdom, in the domain of the deathless Kashtshei, and win from him the Self-playing Harp; it plays all tunes so wonderfully that every one is bound to listen to it, and it is beyond price: this will enliven our wedding."

Then Astrach, the King's son, went to the royal stable and saddled his steed; and, after taking leave of Tsar Afor and his betrothed Princess, mounted his good horse and rode off to the kingdom of the deathless Kashtshei, in search of the Self-playing Harp. As he rode along he saw an old hut, standing in a garden facing a wood; and he called out with his knightly voice: "Hut, hut, turn about, with your back to the wood, and your front to me!" And instantly the hut turned itself round. Then Prince Astrach dismounted and entered the hut, and there was an old witch sitting on the floor spinning flax. And the witch screamed with a frightful voice: "Fu! fu! fu! never before has the sound of a Russian spirit been heard here; and now a Russian spirit comes to sight!" Then she asked Prince Astrach: "Wherefore, good youngling, Prince Astrach, art thou come hither—of thine own free will or not? Hither no bird flies, no wild beast wanders, no knight ever passes my hut. And how has God brought you here?"

But Prince Astrach replied: "You silly old wife, first give me food and drink, and then put your questions." Thereupon the old witch instantly set food before Prince Astrach, whipped him into the bath-room, combed his locks, made ready his bed, and then fell again to questioning him. "Tell me, good youth, whither art thou travelling—to what far country? and dost thou go of thine own free will or no?"

And Prince Astrach answered: "Willingly as I go, yet I go twice as unwillingly through thrice nine lands into the thirtieth kingdom, the domain of the deathless Kashtshei, to fetch the Self-playing Harp."

"Ho! ho! ho!" cried the old witch. "You'll find it a hard task to gain the Harp; but say your prayers and lie down to rest; the morning is the time for such exploits, but the night for sleep." So Astrach, the King's son, laid himself down to sleep.

The next morning the witch awoke early, got up, and aroused Prince Astrach. "Bestir yourself, Prince Astrach, it is time for you to set out on your travels." So Astrach arose and speedily dressed himself, pulled on his stockings and boots, washed, and said his prayers, bowing himself north, south, east, and west, and made ready to take leave of the witch. Then she said: "How! will you go away without asking an old woman like me how you can gain the Self-playing Harp?" And when he asked her she said: "Go your way, in God's name, and when you come to the realm of the deathless Kashtshei, manage to arrive exactly at noon. Near his golden palace is a green garden, and in this garden you will see a fair Princess walking about. Leap over the wall and approach the maiden; she will rejoice to see you, for it is now six years since she was carried off from her father's court by the deathless Kashtshei. Enquire of this maiden how you can obtain the Self-playing Harp, and she will direct you."

Thereupon Prince Astrach mounted his good steed and rode far and fast, and came into the kingdom of the deathless Kashtshei. Then he repaired to the golden palace, and heard the sound of the Self-playing Harp: he stood still to listen, and was absorbed by its wonderful music. At last he came to himself, leaped over the wall into the green garden, and beheld there the Princess, who was at first sight terrified; but Prince Astrach went up to her, quieted her fears, and asked her how he could obtain the Self-playing Harp. Then the Tsarevna Darisa answered: "If you will take me with you from this place I will tell you how to obtain the Harp." So Prince Astrach gave her his promise. Then she told him to wait in the garden, and meanwhile she herself went to the deathless Kashtshei and began to coax him with false and flattering words. "My most beloved friend and intimate, tell me, I pray you, will you never die?"

"Assuredly never," replied Kashtshei.

"Then," said the Princess, "where is your death? Is it here?"

"Certainly," he replied; "it is in the broom under the threshold."

Thereupon Tsarevna Darisa instantly seized the broom and threw it into the fire; but, although the besom burned, the deathless Kashtshei still remained alive. Then the Tsarevna said to him: "My beloved, you do not love me sincerely, for you have not told me truly where is your death; nevertheless, I am not angry, but love you with my whole heart."

And with these fawning words, she entreated Kashtshei to tell her in truth where was his death. Then he said with a laugh: "Have you any reason for wishing to know? Well, then, out of love I will tell you where it lies; in a certain field there stand three green oaks, and under the roots of the largest oak is a worm, and if ever this worm is found and crushed, that instant I shall die."

When the Tsarevna Darisa heard these words, she went straight to Prince Astrach, and told him how he must go to that field, and seek for the three oaks, dig up the worm under the biggest oak and crush it. So the Prince went forth, and rode on from morning to night, until at length he came to the three green oaks. Then he dug up the worm from the roots of the largest, and having killed it, he returned to the Tsarevna Darisa, and said to her: "Does the deathless Kashtshei still live? I have found the worm and destroyed it." And she replied, "Kashtshei is still alive."

Then said Prince Astrach, "Go again and ask him right lovingly where is his death." So the Princess went, and said to him with tears: "You do not love me, and don't tell me the truth, but treat me as a stupid"; and at last King Kashtshei yielded to her entreaties, and told her the whole truth, saying: "My death is far from hence, and hard to find, on the wide ocean: in that sea is the island of Bujan, and upon this island there grows a green oak, and beneath this oak is an iron chest, and in this chest is a small basket, and in this basket a hare, and in this hare a duck, and in this duck an egg; and he who finds this egg, and breaks it, at that same instant causes my death."

As soon as the Tsarevna heard these words she hastened back to Prince Astrach and told him all. And thereupon he straightway mounted his good steed, and rode to the seashore. There he saw a fisherman in a boat, and asked him to carry him to the island of Bujan; and, taking a seat in the boat, they speedily reached the island, where he landed. Prince Astrach soon found the green oak, and he dug up the iron chest, and broke it in pieces, and opened the basket, and took out of the basket the hare, and tore in pieces the hare, when out flew a grey duck; and as she flew over the sea, she let fall the egg into the water. Thereat Prince Astrach was very sorrowful, and ordered the fisherman to cast his nets into the sea, and instantly the man did so, and caught a huge pike. So Prince Astrach drew the pike out of the net, and found in it the egg which the duck had dropped: and, seating himself in the boat, he bade the fisherman make for the shore. Then, after rewarding the man for his trouble, the Prince mounted his steed and returned to the Tsarevna Darisa.

As soon as he arrived and told her that he had found the egg, the Princess said: "Now fear nothing; come with me straight to Kashtshei." And when they appeared before him, Kashtshei jumped up, and would have killed Prince Astrach; but the Prince instantly took the egg in his hand and fell to crushing it gradually. Then Kashtshei began to cry and roar aloud, and said to the Tsarevna Darisa: "Was it not out of love that I told you where my death was? And is this the return you make?" So saying he seized his sword from the wall to slay the Tsarevna; but at the same moment Astrach, the King's son, crushed the egg, and Kashtshei fell dead upon the ground like a sheaf of corn.

Then the Tsarevna Darisa led Astrach into the palace, where was the Self-playing Harp, and said to him: "The Harp is now thine—take it; but in return for it, conduct me back to my home." So Prince Astrach took up the Harp, and it played so gloriously that he was struck dumb with amazement at its sounds, as well as its workmanship of the purest Eastern crystal and gold strings. After gazing at it for a long time, Prince Astrach left the palace, and mounting his gallant steed with Darisa, set out upon his return. First he carried the Tsarevna back to her parents, and afterwards went on his way to Egypt, to Tsar Afor, and gave the Self-playing Harp to his betrothed, the Tsarevna Osida. Then they placed the Harp on the table, and it fell to playing the most beautiful and merry tunes.

The next day Prince Astrach married the fair Tsarevna Osida, and in a short time left Egypt, and returned to his native country. When his father and mother saw their dear son again they rejoiced exceedingly. Not long afterwards King Filon died, and Prince Astrach wore his father's crown, and lived with his beloved Queen Osida in all joy and happiness until they died.


There were once upon a time two old serfs, who lived together for many years without children; and in their old age they prayed for a child to keep them from want when they were no longer able to labour. After seven years the good woman gave birth to seven sons, who were all named Simeon; but when these boys were in their tenth year, the old folk died, and the sons tilled the ground which their father left them.

It chanced one day that the Tsar Ador drove past, and wondered sore to see such little fellows all busy at work in their field. So he sent his oldest boyar to ask them whose children they were, and why they were working so hard, and the eldest Simeon answered, that they were orphans, and had no one to work for them, and that they were all called Simeon. When the boyar told this to Tsar Ador, he ordered the boys to be brought along with him.

On returning to the palace, the Tsar called together all his boyars, and asked their advice, saying: "My boyars, you see here seven poor orphans, who have no kinsfolk; I am resolved to make such men of them that they shall hereafter have cause to thank me; and therefore I ask your advice—what handicraft or art shall I have them taught?" Then the boyars replied: "Your Majesty, seeing that they are old enough to have understanding, it would be well to ask each brother separately what craft he wishes to learn."

This answer pleased the Tsar, and he said to the eldest Simeon: "Tell me, friend, what art or trade would you like to learn? I will apprentice you to it." But Simeon answered: "Please your Majesty, I wish to learn no art; but if you will command a smithy to be put up in the middle of your court, I will raise a column which shall reach to the sky." By this time the Tsar at once saw that the first Simeon wanted indeed no teaching if he was so good a smith as to do such work; but he did not believe that he could make so tall a pillar; so he ordered a smithy to be built in his courtyard, and the eldest Simeon straightway set to work.

Then the Tsar asked the second Simeon: "What craft or art would you learn, my friend?" and the lad replied: "Your Majesty, I will learn neither craft nor art; but when my eldest brother has smithied the iron column, I will mount to the top of it, look around over the whole world, and tell you what is passing in every kingdom." So the Tsar saw there was clearly no need to teach this brother, as he was clever enough already.

Thereupon he questioned the third Simeon: "What craft or what art will you learn?" He replied: "Your Majesty, I want to learn neither craft nor art; but if my eldest brother will make me an axe I will build a ship in the twinkling of an eye." When the Tsar heard this he exclaimed: "Such master workers are just the men I want! Thou also hast nothing to learn."

Then he asked the fourth Simeon: "Thou Simeon, what craft or what art will thou learn?" and he answered: "Your Majesty, I need to learn nothing; but when my third brother has built a ship, and the ship is attacked by enemies, I will seize it by the prow, and draw it into the kingdom under the earth; and when the foe has departed, I will bring it back again upon the sea." The Tsar was astonished at such marvels, and replied: "In truth you have nothing to learn."

Then he asked the fifth Simeon: "What trade or what art would you learn, Simeon?" And he replied: "I need none, your Majesty; but when my eldest brother has made me a gun, I will shoot with it every bird that flies, however distant, if I can see it." And the Tsar said: "You'll be a famous hunter truly!"

The Tsar now asked the sixth Simeon: "What art will you learn?" and he replied in like manner: "Sire, I will follow no art, but when my fifth brother has shot a bird in the air I will catch it before it falls to the ground, and bring it to your Majesty." "Bravo!" said the Tsar; "you will serve in the field as well as a retriever."

Thereupon the Tsar enquired of the last Simeon what craft or art he would learn. "Your Majesty," he replied, "I will learn neither craft nor trade, for I am already skilled in a precious art." "What kind of art do you understand then?" said the Tsar. "I understand how to steal better than any man alive." When the Tsar heard of such a wicked art, he grew angry, and said to his boyars: "My Lords, how do you advise me to punish this thief Simeon? What death shall he die?" But they all replied: "Wherefore, O Tsar, should he die? Who knows but that he may be a clever thief, and prove useful in case of need?" "How so?" said the Tsar. "Your Majesty," replied the boyars, "has for ten long years sued for the hand of the beautiful Tsarina Helena in vain, and has already lost many armies and great store of money. Who knows but that this thief Simeon may in some way steal the fair Tsarina for your Majesty."

"Well spoken, my friends," replied the Tsar; and, turning to the thief Simeon, he said: "Hark you, friend, can you pass through thrice nine lands into the thirtieth kingdom and steal for me the fair Queen Helena? I am in love with her, and if you can bring her to me I will reward you richly."

"Leave it to us," answered Simeon; "your Majesty has only to command."

"I do not order you, I entreat you then," said the Tsar, "not to tarry longer at my Court, but take with you all the armies and treasure you require." "I want not your armies nor your treasure," said Simeon; "only send us brothers forth together; without the rest I can do nothing." The Tsar was unwilling to let them all go; nevertheless he was obliged to consent.

Meanwhile the eldest Simeon had finished the iron column in the smithy of the palace-yard. Then the second Simeon climbed up it, and looked around on all sides, to see whereabouts the kingdom of fair Helena's father lay; and presently he called out to the Tsar Ador: "Please, your Majesty, beyond thrice nine lands, in the thirtieth kingdom, sits the fair Tsarina at her window. How beautiful she is! One can see the very marrow of her bones, her skin is so clear." On hearing this the Tsar was more in love than ever, and cried aloud to the Simeons: "My friends, set out instantly on your journey, and come back as soon as possible; I can no longer live without the fair Tsarina."

So the eldest Simeon made for the third brother a gun, and took bread for their travels; and the thief Simeon took a cat with him, and so they set out. Now thief Simeon had so accustomed this cat to him, that she ran after him everywhere like a dog; and whenever he stopped, she sat up on her hind legs, rubbed her coat against him and purred. So they all went their way, until they came to the shore of the sea over which they must sail. For a long time they wandered about, seeking wood, to build a ship with. At last they found a huge oak. Then the third Simeon took his axe and laid it at the root of the tree, and in the twinkling of an eye the oak was felled, and a ship built from it, fully rigged, and in the ship there were all kinds of costly wares.

After some months' voyage they arrived safely at the place to which they were bound, and cast anchor. The next day Simeon the thief took his cat and went into the city; and walking straight up to the Tsar's palace, he stood under the window of Queen Helena. Immediately his cat sat up on her hind legs, and fell to rubbing him and purring. But you must know that no cat had ever been seen or heard of in this country, nor was anything known of such an animal.

The fair Tsarina Helena was sitting at her window, and observing the cat, she sent her attendants to inquire of Simeon what kind of animal it was, and whether he would sell it, and for how much. And when the servants asked him, Simeon replied: "Tell her Majesty that this creature is called a cat, but I cannot consent to sell her; if, however, her Majesty pleases, I shall have the honour of presenting the cat to her."

So the attendants ran back and told what they had heard from Simeon; and when the Tsarina Helena knew it, she was overjoyed, and went herself to him, and asked why he would not sell it, but would only give it to her. Then she took the cat in her arms, went into her room, and invited Simeon to accompany her; and, going to her father, the Tsar Sarg, the Tsarina showed him the cat, and told him that a stranger had presented it to her. The Tsar gazed at the wonderful animal with delight, and commanded the thief Simeon to be summoned; and when he came, the Tsar wanted to reward him richly for the cat. But Simeon would not take anything; and the Tsar said: "Stay here in my palace for a time, and meanwhile the cat will become better used to my daughter in your presence."

Simeon, however, had no desire to remain, and answered: "Your Majesty, I would stay in your palace with pleasure had I not a ship, in which I came to your kingdom, and which I cannot entrust to anyone; but if your Majesty pleases, I will come every day to the palace and accustom the cat to your fair daughter."

This offer pleased the Tsar: so every day Simeon went to the fair Queen; and once he said to her: "Gracious Lady, Your Majesty, often as I have come to visit you, I have not observed that you ever go out to take a walk. If you will come once on board my ship, I will show you a quantity of fine wares, diamonds and gold brocades, more beautiful than you have ever seen before." Thereupon the Tsarina went to her father and asked his permission to take a walk upon the quay. The Tsar consented, bidding her take her attendants and lady's-maids with her.

When they came to the quay, Simeon invited the Tsarina on board his ship, where he and his brothers displayed to her all kinds of wares. Then said Simeon the thief to the fair Helena: "You must order your attendants to leave the ship, and I will show you some more costly wares which they must not see." So the Tsarina ordered them to return to shore; and Simeon the thief instantly desired his brothers to cut the cable, set all the sails, and put out to sea.

Meantime he amused the Tsarina by unpacking the wares and making her various presents. In this manner hours passed by; and at last she told him it was time for her to return home, as her father would be expecting her back. So saying, she went up from the cabin and perceived that the ship was already far out at sea, and almost out of sight of land. Thereat she beat her breast, changed herself into a swan, and flew away. But in an instant the fifth Simeon seizing his gun, fired at her; and the sixth brother caught her before she fell into the water, and placed her on the deck, when the Tsarina changed back into a woman.

Meanwhile the attendants and lady's-maids, who were standing on the shore, and had seen the ship sail away with the Tsarina, went and told the Tsar of Simeon's treachery. Then the Tsar instantly commanded his whole fleet to go in pursuit; and it had already got very near to the Simeons' ship when the fourth brother seized the vessel by the prow and drew it into the subterranean region. When the ship disappeared, all the sailors in the fleet thought it had sunk, together with the beautiful Tsarina Helena, and went back to the Tsar Sarg and told him the sad tidings. But the seven brothers Simeon returned safely to their own country, and conducted the Tsarina Helena to Tsar Ador, who gave the Simeons their freedom as a reward for the services they had rendered, together with much gold and silver and precious stones. And the Tsar lived with the beautiful Queen Helena for many years in peace and happiness.


In a certain village there lived a poor peasant with his wife, who for three years had no children: at length the good woman had a little son, whom they named Ivan. The boy grew, but even when he was five years old, could not walk. His father and mother were very sad, and prayed that their son might be strong on his feet; but, however many their prayers, he had to sit, and could not use his feet for three-and-thirty years long.

One day the peasant went with his wife to church; and whilst they were away, a beggar man came to the window of the cottage and begged alms of Ivan the peasant's son. And Ivan said to him: "I would gladly give you something, but I cannot rise from my stool." Then said the beggar: "Stand up and give me alms! Your feet are stout and strong!" In an instant Ivan rose up from his stool, and was overjoyed at his newly acquired power: he called the man into the cottage and gave him food to eat. Then the beggar asked for a draught of beer, and Ivan instantly went and fetched it; the beggar, however, did not drink it, but bade Ivan empty the flask himself, which he did to the very bottom. Then the beggar said: "Tell me, Ivanushka, how strong do you feel?" "Very strong," replied Ivan. "Then fare you well!" said the beggar; and disappeared, leaving Ivan standing lost in amazement.

In a short time his father and mother came home, and when they saw their son healed of his weakness, they were astonished, and asked him how it had happened. Then Ivan told them all, and the old folk thought it must have been no beggar but a holy man who had cured him; and they feasted for joy and made merry.

Presently Ivan went out to make a trial of his strength; and going into the kitchen garden, he seized a pole and stuck it half its length into the ground, and turned it with such strength that the whole village turned round. Then he went back into the cottage to take leave of his parents and ask their blessing. The old folk fell to weeping bitterly when he spoke of leaving them, and entreated him to stay at least a little longer; but Ivan heeded not their tears, and said: "If you will not give me your consent, I shall go without it." So his parents gave him their blessing; and Ivan prayed, bowing himself to all four sides, and then took leave of his father and mother. Thereupon he went straight out of the yard, and followed his eyes, and wandered for ten days and ten nights until at length he came to a large kingdom. He had scarcely entered the city when a great noise and outcry arose; whereat the Tsar was so frightened that he ordered a proclamation to be made, that whoever appeased the tumult should have his daughter for wife, and half his kingdom with her.

When Ivanushka heard this he went to the Court and desired the Tsar to be informed that he was ready to appease the tumult. So the doorkeeper went straight and told the Tsar, who ordered Ivan the peasant's son to be called. And the Tsar said to him: "My friend, is what you have said to the doorkeeper true?"

"Quite true," replied Ivan; "but I ask for no other reward than that your Majesty gives me whatever is the cause of the noise." At this the Tsar laughed, and said: "Take it by all means, if it is of any use to you." So Ivan the peasant's son made his bow to the Tsar and took his leave.

Then Ivan went to the doorkeeper and demanded of him a hundred workmen, who were instantly given him; and Ivan ordered them to dig a hole in front of the palace. And when the men had thrown up the earth, they saw an iron door, with a copper ring. So Ivan lifted up this door with one hand, and beheld a steed fully caparisoned, and a suit of knightly armour. When the horse perceived Ivan, he fell on his knees before him, and said with a human voice: "Ah, thou brave youth! Ivan the peasant's son! the famous knight Lukopero placed me here; and for three-and-thirty years have I been impatiently awaiting you. Seat yourself on my back, and ride whithersoever you will: I will serve you faithfully, as I once served the brave Lukopero."

Ivan saddled his good steed, gave him a bridle of embroidered ribands, put a Tcherkess saddle on his back, and buckled ten rich silken girths around him. Then he vaulted into the saddle, struck him on the flank, and the horse chafed at the bit, and rose from the ground higher than the forest; he left hill and dale swiftly under his feet, covered large rivers with his tail, sent forth a thick steam from his ears, and flames from his nostrils.

At length Ivan the peasant's son came to an unknown country, and rode through it for thirty days and thirty nights, until at length he arrived at the Chinese Empire. There he dismounted, and turned his good steed out into the open fields, while he went into the city and bought himself a bladder, drew it over his head, and went round the Tsar's palace. Then the folks asked him whence he came, and what kind of man he was, and what were his father and mother's names. But Ivan only replied to their questions, "I don't know." So they all took him for a fool, and went and told the Chinese Tsar about him. Then the Tsar ordered Ivan to be called, and asked where he came from and what was his name; but he only answered as before, "I don't know." So the Tsar ordered him to be driven out of the Court. But it happened that there was a gardener in the crowd, who begged the Tsar to give the fool over to him that he might employ him in gardening. The Tsar consented, and the man took Ivan into the garden, and set him to weed the beds whilst he went his way.

Then Ivan lay down under a tree and fell fast asleep. In the night he awoke, and broke down all the trees in the garden. Early the next morning the gardener came and looked round, and was terrified at what he beheld: so he went to Ivan the peasant's son and fell to abusing him, and asked him who had destroyed all the trees. But Ivan only replied, "I don't know." The gardener was afraid to tell this to the Tsar; but the Tsar's daughter looked out of her window and beheld with amazement the devastation, and asked who had done it all. The gardener replied that fool Know-nothing had destroyed the noble trees; but entreated her not to tell her father, promising to put the garden into a better condition than it was before.

Ivan did not sleep the next night, but went and drew water from the well, and watered the broken trees; and early in the morning they began to rise and grow; and when the sun rose they were all covered with leaves, and were even finer than ever. When the gardener came into the garden he was amazed at the change; but he did not again ask Know-nothing any questions, as he never returned an answer. And when the Tsar's daughter awoke, she rose from her bed, and looking out into the garden, she saw it in a better state than before; then, sending for the gardener, she asked him how it had all happened in so short a time. But the man answered that he could not himself understand it, and the Tsar's daughter began to think Know-nothing was in truth wonderfully wise and clever. From that moment she loved him more than herself, and sent him food from her own table.

Now the Chinese Tsar had three daughters, who were all very beautiful: the eldest was named Duasa, the second Skao, and the youngest, who had fallen in love with Ivan the peasant's son, was named Lotao. One day the Tsar called them to him and said to them: "My dear daughters, fair Princesses, the time is come that I wish to see you married; and I have called you now to bid you choose husbands from the princes of the countries around." Then the two eldest instantly named two Tsareviches with whom they were in love; but the youngest fell to weeping, and begged her father to give her for wife to Know-nothing. At this request the Tsar was amazed, and said: "Have you lost your senses, daughter, that you wish to marry the fool Know-nothing, who cannot speak even a word?" "Fool as he may be," she answered, "I entreat you, my lord father, to let me marry him." "If nothing else will please you," said the Tsar sorrowfully, "take him—you have my consent."

Soon after, the Tsar sent for the Princes whom his eldest daughters had chosen for husbands; they obeyed the invitation instantly, and came with all speed to China, and the weddings were celebrated. The Princess Lotao also was married to Ivan the peasant's son, and her elder sisters laughed at her for choosing a fool for a husband.

Not long afterwards a great army invaded the country, and its leader, the knight Polkan, demanded of the Tsar his daughter, the beautiful Lotao, for wife, threatening that, if he did not consent, he would burn his country with fire and slay his people with the sword, throw the Tsar and Tsarina into prison, and take their daughter by force. At these threats the Tsar was aghast with terror, and instantly ordered his armies to be collected; and they went forth, commanded by the two Princes, against Polkan. Then the two armies met, and fought like two terrible thunder-clouds, and Polkan overthrew the army of the Chinese Tsar.

At this time the Princess came to her husband, Ivan the peasant's son, and said to him: "My dear friend Know-nothing, they want to take me from you; the infidel knight Polkan has invaded our country with his army and routed our hosts with his terrible sword." Then Ivan told the Princess to leave him in peace; and, jumping out of the window, he ran into the open fields, and cried aloud:

"Sivka Burka! he! Fox of Spring! Appear! Like a grass blade, here Stand before me!"

The horse galloped until the earth trembled: from his ears came steam, from his nostrils flames. Ivan the peasant's son crept into his ear to change himself, and came out looking such a brave knight as no pen can write down or story tell. Then he rode up to the army of Polkan, and laid about him with his sword, trod the army down under his horse's hoofs, and drove it quite out of the kingdom. At the sight of this the Chinese Tsar came to Ivan, but knew him not, and invited him to his palace; but Ivan answered: "I am not your subject and I will not serve you." And so saying, away he rode, let his horse run loose in the open fields, went back to the palace, crept again through the window, drew the bladder over his head, and lay down to sleep.

The Tsar gave a public feast for this great victory, and it lasted several days; until the knight Polkan once more invaded the country with a fresh army, and again demanded with threats the youngest Princess for his wife. The Tsar instantly assembled his armies again, and sent them against Polkan; but the knight defeated them forthwith. Then Lotao went to her husband, and everything happened exactly as before; and Ivan again drove Polkan and his army out of the empire. Thereupon the Tsar invited him to his palace; but without heeding him, Ivan turned off his horse in the fields, went back to the palace, and lay down to sleep. So the Tsar gave another feast, in honour of the victory over Polkan; but he marvelled what hero it could be who had so bravely defended his realm.

After a while, Polkan a third time invaded the empire, and all fell out as before: Ivan jumped out of the window, ran into the fields, mounted his steed, and rode forth against the enemy. Then the horse said in a human voice: "Listen, Ivan Peasantson! we have now a hard task to perform; defend yourself as stoutly as possible, and stand firm against Polkan—otherwise you and the whole Chinese army will be destroyed." Then Ivan spurred his steed, rode against Polkan's host, and began to slay them right and left. When Polkan saw that his army was defeated, he flew into a rage, and fell upon Ivan the peasant's son like a furious lion, and a fight began between the two horses, at the sight of which the whole army stood aghast. They fought for a long time, and Polkan wounded Ivan in the left hand. Thereupon Ivan the peasant's son, in a fierce rage, aimed his javelin at Polkan, and pierced him through the heart: then he struck off his head, and drove the whole army out of China.

Ivan now went to the Chinese Tsar, who bowed to the ground, and invited him to his palace. The Princess Lotao, seeing blood upon Ivan's left hand, bound it up with her handkerchief, and invited him to remain in the palace; but, without heeding her, Ivan mounted his steed and trotted off. Then he turned his horse into the fields, and went himself to sleep.

The Tsar again ordered a great banquet to be prepared; and the Princess Lotao went to her husband and tried to awaken him, but all in vain. On a sudden she beheld with surprise golden hair upon his head, from which the bladder had fallen off; and, stepping up to him, she saw her handkerchief bound on his left hand; and now she knew that he it had been who had three times defeated and at last slain Polkan. Then she ran instantly to her father, led him into the apartment, and said: "See, my father! You told me I had married a fool; look closely at his hair, and at this wound which he received from Polkan." Then the Tsar saw that it had been he who had thrice delivered his empire, and he rejoiced greatly.

When Ivan the peasant's son awoke, the Emperor took him by his white hands, led him into the palace, thanked him for the services he had rendered; and being himself far advanced in years, he placed the crown upon Ivan's head. Then Ivan mounted the throne, and ruled happily, and lived with his wife for many years in the greatest harmony and love.


In a certain country there lived a Tsar with his wife, who had three handsome sons; the eldest was named Vasili Tsarevich, and the second Fedor Tsarevich, and the youngest son Ivan Tsarevich. One day the Tsar went out with his Tsarina for a walk in the garden, and on a sudden a violent storm came on, which carried off the Tsarina from his sight. The Tsar was very much grieved, and mourned a long time for his wife; and the two eldest sons, seeing their father's sorrow, begged his blessing and permission to go forth and wander in search of their mother. So he consented, and dismissed them.

The two sons travelled for a long time, until at length they came to a wide desert, where they pitched their tents, and waited until some one should pass who might show them the way. For three whole years they waited, but saw no one.

Meanwhile the youngest brother, Ivan Tsarevich, grew up, and went likewise to his father, begged his blessing, and took leave. And he wandered for a long time, until at length he discerned in the distance some tents, up to which he rode; and there he discovered his brothers. "What brings you to such a desolate place, brothers?" said he; "let us join company and travel in search of our mother." The others followed his advice, and they all journeyed on together.

They rode on and on for many days, until at length they saw afar off a palace, built of crystal, and surrounded by a fence of the same material. So they rode up to the palace, and Ivan Tsarevich opened the gate, and entered the courtyard; and at the entrance-door he saw a pillar, into which were fastened two rings, one of gold and the other of silver. Then drawing his bridle through both these rings, he tied up his steed, and went up the stairs. At the head of the stairs the King himself came to meet him; and, after a long conversation, he found out that Ivan Tsarevich was his nephew. So he conducted him into his hall, and invited in his brothers also.

After remaining in the palace a long time, the King gave the brothers a magic ball, which they bowled away, and then rode after it, until they came to a mountain, so high and steep that they could not ascend it. Ivan Tsarevich rode round and round the mountain, until at last he found a cleft. He stepped into it and beheld an iron door, with a copper ring; and on opening this he perceived some iron hooks, which he fastened to his hands and feet, and by their aid he climbed up the mountain. On reaching the top he was very tired, and sat down to rest; but no sooner had he taken off the hooks than they disappeared.

In the distance upon the mountain Ivan beheld a tent of fine cambric, upon which was represented a copper kingdom, and on its top was a copper ball. Then he approached the tent; but at its entrance there lay two huge lions, which allowed no one to enter. Ivan Tsarevich seeing two copper basins standing close by, poured some water into them, and quenched the thirst of the lions, who then let him freely enter the tent. And when he got in, Ivan beheld a beautiful Queen lying on a sofa, and sleeping at her feet a dragon with three heads, which he cut off at a single blow. The Queen thanked him for this service, and gave him a copper egg, in which was contained a copper kingdom, whereupon the Tsarevich took his leave and went his way further.

After travelling for a long time, he descried a tent of fine gauze, fastened to a cedar tree by silver cords, with knobs of emeralds; upon the tent was represented a silver kingdom, and on the top was a silver ball. At the entrance lay two immense tigers, to which he in like manner gave to drink, and they permitted him to pass. On entering the tent he beheld, seated on a sofa, a Queen richly attired, who far surpassed the first one in beauty. At her feet lay a six-headed dragon, as large again as the other. Then Ivan Tsarevich struck off all the heads at a blow, and, as a reward for his valor, the Queen presented him with a silver egg, in which was enclosed a silver kingdom. Thereupon he took leave of the Queen and journeyed on.

After a time Ivan came to a third tent, made of silk, upon which was embroidered a golden kingdom, and on its top was placed a ball of pure gold. The tent was fastened to a laurel tree with golden cords, from which hung knobs of diamonds. Before the entrance lay two huge crocodiles, which breathed forth flames of fire. The Tsarevich gave them some water to drink, and thus gained an entrance into the tent, in which he beheld a Queen, who in beauty far surpassed the former ones. At her feet lay a dragon with twelve heads, all of which Ivan Tsarevich struck off at two blows. The Queen, in return for this service, gave him a golden egg, which contained a golden kingdom; and with the egg she gave him also her heart. As they were conversing together, Ivan asked the Queen whether she knew where his mother was; then she showed Ivan her dwelling, and wished him success in his enterprise.

After travelling a great distance, Ivan Tsarevich came to a castle; he entered, and went through many apartments, but without finding anyone. At length he came to a spacious hall, where he beheld his mother sitting, arrayed in royal robes. Ivan embraced her tenderly, telling her how he had travelled far and wide with his brothers in search of her. Then the Tsarina told Ivan Tsarevich that a spirit would soon appear, and bade him hide himself in the folds of her cloak. "When the spirit comes and tries to embrace me," she added, "try all you can to seize his magic wand with both hands: he will then rise up with you from the earth; fear not, but remain quiet, for he will presently fall down again, and be dashed to pieces. These you must collect and burn, and strew the ashes in the field."

Scarcely had the Tsarina spoken, and wrapped Ivan in her cloak, when the Spirit appeared and offered to embrace her. Then Ivan Tsarevich started up, as his mother had directed, and seized the magic wand. In a furious rage the Spirit flew with him high up into the air, but soon fell to the ground and was dashed in pieces. Then the Tsarevich gathered up the remains and burned them, and kept the magic wand; after which he took with him his mother and the three Queens he had rescued, came to an oak tree, and let them all slide down the mountain in a linen cloth. When his brothers saw him left alone on the mountain, they pulled the cloth from his hands, conducted their mother and the Queens back to their own kingdom, and made them promise solemnly to tell their father that it was the elder brothers who had found and rescued them.

Ivan Tsarevich was thus left alone on the mountain, and knew not how to get down. Lost in thought he wandered about; and, throwing by chance the magic wand from one hand to the other, on a sudden a man stood before him, who said: "What is your pleasure, Ivan Tsarevich?" Thereat Ivan wondered greatly, and asked the man who he was, and how he had come to that uninhabited mountain. "I am a Spirit," replied the figure, "and was subject to him whom you have destroyed; but as you now possess his magic wand, and have changed it from one hand to the other—which you must always do when you have need of me—I am here ready to obey you." "Good!" said Ivan Tsarevich; "then do me now the first service, and carry me back to my own kingdom."

No sooner had Ivan uttered these words than he found himself at once transported to his native city. He wished first to know what was passing in the castle; but instead of going in directly, he went and took work in a shoemaker's shop, thinking that he should not be easily recognised in such a place. The next morning the shoemaker went into the city to buy leather, and returned home so tipsy that he was unable to work, and left it all to his new assistant. But Ivan, being quite ignorant of shoemaking, called the Spirit to his aid, ordered him to take the leather and make it into shoes, and then lay down to sleep.

Early the next morning, when the shoemaker awoke, he went to see what work Ivan had done; but, perceiving him still fast asleep, he flew into a rage, and exclaimed: "Up, you lazy loon! have I engaged you only to sleep?" Ivan, stretching himself slowly, replied: "Have patience, master; first go to the workshop, and see what you shall find." So the shoemaker went to the shop; and what was his astonishment at beholding a quantity of shoes all made and ready! And when he took up a shoe, and examined the work closely, his amazement only increased, and he could scarcely believe his eyes, for the shoes had not a single stitch, but were just as if cast in a mould.

The shoemaker now took his goods, and went into the city to sell them; and no sooner were these wonderful shoes seen than they were all bought in the twinkling of an eye. In a short time the man became so renowned that his fame reached the palace; then the Princesses desired him to be summoned, and ordered of him many dozens of pairs of shoes; but they were all to be ready without fail the next morning. The poor shoemaker in vain assured them that this was impossible; they only threatened that, unless he obeyed their will his head should be struck off, as they saw clearly that there was some magic in the affair.

The shoemaker left the castle in despair, and went into the city to buy leather. Late in the evening he returned home, threw the leather on the floor, and said to Ivan: "Hark ye, fellow, what a piece of work you have made with your devilish tricks!" Then he told Ivan what the Princesses had ordered him to do, and how they had threatened him unless he fulfilled their commands. "Do not trouble yourself," said Ivan Tsarevich, "go to bed and sleep—an hour in the morning is worth two at night." The shoemaker thanked him for his advice, threw himself on the bench, and soon began to snore aloud. Then Ivan Tsarevich summoned the Spirit, ordered him to have the work done and in readiness by the morning, and then lay down to sleep.

Early the next morning, when the shoemaker awoke, he called to mind that he was to lose his head that day; so he went in despair to Ivan to bid him farewell, and asked him to come and have a drink so that he could bear up. But Ivan said: "Fear nothing, man; go into the workshop and take the work which was ordered." The shoemaker went distrustfully into the shop; but when he beheld all the shoes ready made, he capered about, not knowing what to do for joy, and embraced his companion. Then he took all the shoes, and hastened to the castle.

When the Princesses saw all this they were more than ever convinced that Ivan Tsarevich must be in the city; and they said to the shoemaker; "You have well and truly fulfilled our orders; but there is another service which you must render us; to-night a golden castle must be built opposite to ours, with a porcelain bridge from one to the other, covered with velvet." The shoemaker stood aghast on hearing this demand, and replied: "I am indeed only a poor shoemaker, and how can I possibly do such a thing?" "Well," replied the Princesses, "unless you fulfil our wish your head shall assuredly be struck off."

The poor fellow left the castle overwhelmed with grief, and wept bitterly. On his return home, he told Ivan Tsarevich what a feat he had been ordered to accomplish. "Go quietly to bed," replied Ivan; "the morning sun shall see it done." So the shoemaker lay down on the bench and fell fast asleep. Then Ivan called up the Spirit, and desired him to fulfil the command of the King's daughters, after which he went to bed.

Early the next morning Ivan Tsarevich awoke his master, and giving him a goose's wing, bade him go on to the bridge and sweep off the dust. Meanwhile Ivan went into the Golden castle. And when the Tsar and the Princesses went out early on to the balcony they were amazed at beholding the Castle and the bridge; but the Princesses were out of their wits with joy, for they were now quite sure that Ivan Tsarevich was in the city; and presently after, indeed, they saw him at a window in the golden castle. Then they begged the Tsar and Tsarina to go with them into the castle; and as soon as they set foot on the staircase, Ivan Tsarevich came out to meet them. Thereupon his mother and the three Princesses ran and embraced him, exclaiming: "This is our deliverer!" His brothers looked down ashamed, and the Tsar stood dumb with amazement; but his wife soon explained it all to him. Thereat the Tsar fell into a passion with his eldest sons, and was going to put them all to death; but Ivan fell at his feet and said: "Dear father, if you desire to reward me for what I have done, only grant my brothers their lives, and I am content." Then his father raised him up, embraced him, and said: "They are truly unworthy of such a brother!" So they all returned to the castle.

The next day three weddings were celebrated. The eldest son, Vasili Tsarevich, took the Princess of the copper kingdom; Fedor Tsarevich, the second son, chose the Princess of the silver kingdom, and Ivan Tsarevich settled with his Princess in the golden kingdom. He took the poor shoemaker into his household, and they all lived happily for many years.


In the famous city of Murom there once lived a countryman named Ivan Timofeyevich. Now Ivan had a son named Iliya, the joy of his heart, who was thirty years of age before he could walk; when all at once he acquired such strength that he could not only run about, but made for himself a suit of armour and a steel spear, saddled his steed, and went to his parents and begged their blessing. "Dear father and mother," said he "grant me permission to go to the famous city of Kiev." So his parents gave him their blessing and dismissed him, saying: "Go straight to Kiev, straight to the city Chernigov, but do no wrong upon your way, nor shed Christian blood in vain."

Then Iliya of Murom took leave of his parents, and journeyed on, far into the depths of a dark forest, until he came to a camp of robbers. When the robbers saw him they longed to possess his noble steed, and conspired together to kill Iliya and seize the horse. So they fell upon Iliya of Murom, five-and-twenty men. But Iliya of Murom reined in his steed, drew an arrow from his quiver, laid it on his bow, and shot the shaft deep into the ground till it scattered the earth far and wide over three acres. When the robbers saw this, they were struck dumb with terror, fell on their knees, and said: "Our lord and father, dear good youth, we have done you wrong: in punishment for our crime, take all our treasures and rich dresses, and as many steeds as you desire." Iliya laughed and said: "What should I do with your treasures? But if you have any regard for your lives, beware in future how you run such risks." And so saying he journeyed on to the famous city of Kiev.

On his way, Iliya came to the city of Chernigov, which was besieged by a countless Pagan army, threatening to destroy its houses and churches, and to carry off into slavery all the princes and voyevodes. Iliya of Murom was terrified at the sight of such an army; nevertheless, at last he summoned courage, and resolved to die for his religion. So with a brave heart and a stout spear he attacked the unbelieving host, scattered them to the winds, took their leader prisoner, and carried him in triumph to Chernigov. Then the citizens came out to meet him, headed by the governor and nobles, and offered him thanks for their deliverance; whereupon they conducted Iliya to the palace and gave him a grand banquet.

After this, Iliya of Murom followed the straight road to Kiev, which the Robber Nightingale had held for thirty years, and on which he suffered no traveller to pass, on foot or horse; putting them all to death, not with the sword, but with his robber's whistle. When Iliya came into the open fields, he rode into the Brianski forest, passing over swamps, on bridges of elder, to the river Smarodienka. Then the Robber Nightingale, seeing him approach at a distance, sounded his robber whistle. The hero's heart quailed not, but when he was within ten versts the Nightingale whistled so loud that Iliya's steed fell down upon his knees. Then Iliya of Murom went straight up to the nest, which was built upon twelve oaks, and the Robber Nightingale looked forth upon the Russian hero, whistled with all his might, and tried to slay him. But Iliya took his strong bow, and laying an arrow upon it, shot straight into the nest and hit the Robber Nightingale in his right eye; whereupon he fell down from the tree like a sheaf of oats.

Then Iliya of Murom bound the Robber Nightingale fast to his stirrup and rode off to the famous city of Kiev. On the road he passed the palace of the Nightingale, where he saw the daughters of the Robber looking out of the window. "See!" cried the youngest, "here comes riding our father, bringing a peasant bound to his stirrup." But the eldest daughter eyed Iliya more closely, and fell to weeping bitterly, exclaiming: "Nay, that is not our father, but some strange man, bringing our father prisoner." Then they called aloud to their husbands, beseeching them to ride out and meet the stranger, and deliver their father. Now their husbands were famous horsemen, and they rode out with their stout lances to meet the Russian rider, and slay him. But the Robber Nightingale, seeing them approach, cried out: "My sons, bring not disgrace upon yourselves, by provoking so brave a rider to slay you; invite him rather to come to our palace and drink a glass of vodka."

Then Iliya of Murom, at their invitation, turned to go into the palace, little anticipating the danger that awaited him, for the eldest daughter had drawn up by a chain a huge rafter to let fall and slay Iliya as he rode through the gate. But Iliya perceived her design, and slew her with his lance. Thereupon he rode on toward Kiev, and going straight to the palace, prayed to God and saluted the nobles. And the Prince of Kiev said to Iliya, "Tell me, brave youth, what is your name, and whence do you come?" "My lord," replied Iliya, "my name is Iliyushka, and I was born in the city of Murom." Then the Prince asked him which way he had come; and Iliya answered: "I rode from Murom to Chernigov, where I slew a countless army of pagans, and delivered the city. Thence I came straight hither, and on my road have captured the mighty Robber Nightingale, and brought him prisoner bound to my stirrup." But the Prince was wroth, for he thought Iliya was deceiving him. Then two of the knights, Alescha Popovich and Dobrinja Nikitich, rode forth to ascertain the truth of the matter; and when the Prince was convinced, he ordered a glass of vodka to be given to the brave youth, and begged to hear the famous whistle of the Robber Nightingale. So Iliya of Murom took the Prince and Princess under his arm, wrapped in his sable pelisse, and ordered the Robber Nightingale to sound his whistle softly. But the Robber whistled so loud that he stunned all the knights and they fell flat upon the ground, whereat Iliya of Murom was so enraged that he slew him on the spot.

Then Iliya formed a close friendship with Dobrinja Nikitich; and saddling their steeds they rode off, and journeyed on for three months without meeting any enemy. At length they fell in with a cripple on the road; his beggar's cloak weighed fifty poods, his bonnet nine poods, and his crutch was six feet long. Then Iliya of Murom rode at him to try his courage; but the cripple said: "Ah, Iliya of Murom, do you not remember me, and how we studied together at the same school? And have you now the heart to slay me, a poor helpless cripple? Know you not that a great calamity has befallen the famous city of Kiev? An unbelieving knight, with a head as big as a beer-barrel, eyebrows a span apart, and shoulders six feet broad, has entered it? He devours a whole ox at a time, and drinks off a barrel of beer at a draught. The Prince is lamenting your absence."

Then Iliya of Murom drew the cripple's cloak around him, rode off to the city of Kiev, and going straight up to the Prince's palace, cried aloud, "Ho there, Prince of Kiev! give alms to a poor cripple." And when the Prince heard this he said: "Come into my palace, and I will give you meat and drink, and money for your journey." Then Iliya went into the palace, and seated himself near the stove; and close by sat the idolator, who called for food and drink. Thereupon the attendants brought him a whole roasted ox, which he ate up, bones and all; and seven-and-twenty men brought him a barrel of beer, which he emptied at a draught. Then said Iliya of Murom: "My father had once a greedy horse, which ate so much that he burst." At this the idolator knight fell into a violent rage and exclaimed: "How dare you provoke me with such talk, you miserable cripple? Are you forsooth a match for me? Why, look ye, I could set you on the palm of my hand, and squeeze you like an orange. You had indeed a valiant hero in your country, Iliya of Murom, with whom I would fain wage a battle; but you indeed——!"

"Here stands Iliya of Murom!" exclaimed the cripple; and so saying, he took off his hat, and struck him a blow on the head, which, although not hard, drove it through the wall of the palace. Then Iliya took up the body, and flung it into the courtyard. And the Prince rewarded Iliya richly, and retained him at his court as his boldest and bravest knight.


In the famous city of Anton ruled the brave and mighty King Guidon; who heard so much from his own subjects, as well as foreigners, of the beauty of the Princess Militrisa Kirbitovna, that he longed to see her. So he set out, and travelled to the city of Dimichtian, where he saw her many times, and fell deeply in love with her.

When King Guidon returned home, he sent his servant Litcharda as ambassador to King Kirbit Versoulovich, the father of the Princess Militrisa Kirbitovna, with a letter written by his own hand, to ask for his daughter in marriage. When Litcharda arrived at the city of Dimichtian, he delivered to King Kirbit the letter from his master; and after Kirbit had read it through, he went at once to the Princess Militrisa, and said to her: "My dear daughter, the fame of your beauty has reached the brave and powerful King Guidon. He has been in the city to see you, and has fallen deeply in love with you. He has sent a messenger to demand your hand, and I have already given my consent."

As King Kirbit spoke these words, Militrisa fell to weeping; and her father seeing this said: "Grieve not, dear daughter, Guidon is powerful, renowned, and rich; he will be a good husband to you, and you will share the government with him. To refuse his request is impossible, for he would return with a large army, storm our city, and carry you off by force."

When the Princess Militrisa heard this, she began to sob, fell on her knees, and said: "My lord and father, you have sovereign power over me, but let me confess the truth: I have seen Guidon, but his very look terrified me; I fear therefore to marry him. I entreat you, dear father, to alter your resolution, and to give me to Tsar Dadon, who is our neighbour, a faithful friend, and protector of our kingdom." But Kirbit did not listen to her entreaties, and sent her to King Guidon to be his wife, in the city of Anton. Guidon rejoiced exceedingly at her arrival, ordered a great feast to be prepared for their wedding the following day, and set at liberty all the prisoners in his kingdom on this joyous event.

For three years Guidon lived with Militrisa, and they had one only son, named Bova Korolevich, who was of a powerful figure and handsome bearing, and he grew, not from day to day, but from hour to hour. One day Queen Militrisa Kirbitovna called her faithful servant Litcharda, and said: "Do me a true service; I will repay you with gold and precious stones: take this letter to Tsar Dadon, without the knowledge of King Guidon: fail not to do my bidding, or you shall die a miserable death."

Litcharda took the private letter of the Queen, mounted his horse, rode to Tsar Dadon, and delivered the letter to him. When Dadon read it through he laughed, and said to Litcharda: "Your Queen either jokes or wishes to affront me: she invites me to lead my army before the city of Anton, and promises to deliver up her husband to me; this cannot truly be meant, because she has a young son." But Litcharda replied: "Mighty Tsar Dadon, let not this letter arouse your suspicion; put me in prison with food and drink, collect your army, and march to the city of Anton, and if the contents of the letter prove untrue, let me suffer death."

When Tsar Dadon heard these words from Litcharda, he rejoiced, and ordering the trumpets to sound, he collected an army of thirty thousand men, marched upon the city of Anton, and encamped on the royal meadows. No sooner was Militrisa Kirbitovna informed that Tsar Dadon was encamped before the city with his army, than, dressing herself in her best attire, she went to King Guidon, and, pretending to be ill, begged him to go out and slay a wild boar for her to eat. The King was glad to oblige his wife, and mounting his trusty horse, rode out to hunt.

As soon as he had left the city, Militrisa ordered the drawbridges to be raised and the gates to be shut. And hardly had King Guidon approached Tsar Dadon's rearguard, when the latter instantly pursued him. Guidon turned his horse towards the city, but flight was in vain; when he came to the gates, and found them closed, and the drawbridges up, he was sad at heart, and exclaimed: "Most miserable of men! Now I see the cunning of my wicked wife, and the death she has prepared for me. But Bova, my dear boy, why did you not tell me of your mother's treachery?" As he spoke these words Dadon rode at him, pierced him through the heart with his lance, and Guidon fell dead from his horse.

When Militrisa Kirbitovna saw this from the city walls, she ordered the gates to be opened and the bridges let down, and went out to meet Tsar Dadon, kissed him on the lips, took him by the white hands, and conducted him into the castle. Here they sat together at a table where a banquet was spread, and they began to feast. But the little boy, Bova Korolevich, young as he was, when he saw his mother's wicked conduct, went out of the castle to the stable, and sitting down under a manger was sad at heart. His attendant, Simbalda, saw him sitting there, and wept at the sight, and said: "My dear young master, Bova Korolevich, your cruel mother has let Tsar Dadon kill my good lord your father, and now she feasts and sports with the murderer in the palace. You are young, my child, and cannot avenge your father's death; indeed, who knows but that she may kill you likewise? To save our lives, therefore, we will fly to the city of Sumin, over which my father rules." And so saying, Simbalda saddled for himself a good steed, and for Bova a palfrey, took with him thirty stout young fellows, and hurried out of the city.

As soon as Dadon's followers saw this, they went and told their master that Bova and Simbalda had escaped towards Sumin. When Tsar Dadon heard this he forthwith commanded his army to be collected, and sent in pursuit of Bova Korolevich and his protector Simbalda, whom they overtook at a short distance from Sumin. Simbalda at once saw their danger, and, setting spurs to his horse, galloped off to the city and shut the gates. But Bova Korolevich, who was very young, could not hold his seat upon the horse, and fell to the ground. Then the pursuers seized Bova, and carried him to Tsar Dadon, who sent him to his mother, Militrisa; and, collecting all his army, he rode up to the city of Sumin, in order to take it by force, and put to death its inhabitants and Simbalda; and pitched his tent on the forbidden meadows around the city.

One night Dadon dreamed that Bova Korolevich pierced him through with a lance: and when he awoke he called to him his chief boyar, and sent him to Queen Militrisa, bidding her to put Bova to death. But when Militrisa Kirbitovna heard this message she replied: "I cannot myself kill him, for he is my own son; but I will command him to be thrown into a dark dungeon, and kept without food or drink, and so he will die of hunger."

Meanwhile Tsar Dadon lay encamped before the city of Sumin for half a year, but could neither take it by force nor starvation; so at length he broke up his camp and returned to Anton. After his departure, Simbalda assembled an army of fifteen thousand men, marched upon the city of Anton, surrounded it on all sides, and demanded that Bova should be given up to him. But Dadon collected an army twice as strong as Simbalda's, and drove him back into the city of Sumin.

One day, as Queen Militrisa was walking in her garden, she by chance passed the prison where Bova Korolevich was confined. Then he cried aloud: "Alas! my gracious mother, fair Queen Militrisa, why are you so enraged against me? Why have you put me in prison and given me no food on purpose to let me die of hunger? Have I grieved you by any ill conduct or cruel words, that you treat me in this way, or have wicked people spoken evil of me to you?" Militrisa answered: "I know of nothing wrong in you, and have only put you in prison on account of your irreverence to Tsar Dadon, who defends our kingdom against our enemies, while you are young; but I will soon set you at liberty, and will send you now some sweetmeats and meat; you can eat as much as you like."

So saying, Queen Militrisa went into the palace and set to work to make two cakes, of wheaten dough and serpent's fat, which she baked and sent to Bova Korolevich by a servant maid named Chernavka. But when the maid came to Bova she said: "Master, do not eat the cakes which your mother has sent, but give them to the dogs, for they are poisoned, here is a piece of my own bread." So Bova took the cakes and threw them to the dogs, and as soon as they tasted them they died. And when he saw Chernavka's kindness and fidelity, he took her black bread and ate it, and begged her not to close the prison door: so she left it open, and when she came again to Militrisa she told her she had given the cakes to Bova.

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