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THE VAMPIRE AND ST MICHAEL Part II – from COSSACK FAIRY TALES AND FOLK TALES

 

When night came, he took up his laths and boards and a basket of pears, and went to the church. He entrenched himself behind his boards, stood there and began to read. At dead of night there was a rustling and a rattling. O Lord! what was that? There was a shaking of the bier––bang! bang!––and the Tsarivna arose from her coffin and came straight toward him. She leaped upon the boards and made a grab at him and fell back. Then she leaped at him again, and again she fell back. Then he took his basket and scattered the pears. All through the church they rolled, she after them, and she tried to pick them up till cockcrow, and at the very first “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” she got into her bier again and lay still.

 

When God’s bright day dawned, the people came to clean out the church and sweep away his bones; but there he was reading his prayers, and the rumour of it went through the town and they were all filled with joy.

 

Next night it was the turn of the second uncle, and he began to beg and pray, “Go thou, simpleton, in my stead! Look now, thou hast already passed a night there, thou mayst very well pass another, and I’ll give thee all my ship.”––But he said, “I won’t go, I am afraid.”––But then St Michael said to him again, “Fear not, but go! Fence thee all about with thy boards, and take with thee a basket of nuts. When she rushes at thee, scatter thy nuts, and the nuts will go rolling all about the church, and it will take her till cockcrow to gather them all up. But do thou go on reading thy prayers, nor look thou up, whatever may happen.”

 

And he did so. He took his boards and the basket of nuts, and went to the church at nightfall and read. A little after midnight there was a rustling and an uproar, and the whole church shook. Then came a fumbling round about the coffin––bang! bang!––up she started, and made straight for him. She leaped and plunged, she very nearly got through the boards. She hissed, like seething pitch, and her eyes glared at him like coals of fire, but it was of no use. He read on and on, and didn’t once look at her. Besides, he scattered his nuts, and she went after them and tried to pick them all up till cockcrow. And at the first “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” she leaped into her coffin again and pulled down the lid. In the morning the people came to sweep away his bones, and lo! they found him alive.

 

The next night he had to go again in the third uncle’s stead. Then he sat down and cried and wailed, “Alas, alas! what shall I do? ’Twere better I had never been born!”––But St Michael said to him, “Weep not, ’twill all end happily. Fence thyself about with thy boards, sprinkle thyself all about with holy water, incense thyself with holy incense, and take me with thee. She shall not have thee. And the moment she leaves her coffin, do thou jump quickly into it. And whatever she may say to thee, and however she may implore thee, let her not get into it again until she says to thee, ‘My consort!’”

 

So he went. There he stood in the middle of the church, fenced himself about with his boards, strewed consecrated poppy-seed around him, incensed himself with holy incense, and read and read. About the middle of the night a tempest arose outside, and there was a rustling and a roaring, a hissing and a wailing. The church shook, the altar candelabra were thrown down, the holy images fell on their faces. O Lord, how awful! Then came a bang! bang! from the coffin, and again the Tsarivna started up. She left her coffin and fluttered about the church. She rushed at the boards and made a snatch at him, and fell back; she rushed at him again, and again she fell back. She foamed at the mouth, and her fury every instant grew worse and worse. She dashed herself about, and darted madly from one corner of the church to the other, seeking him everywhere. But he skipped into the coffin, with the image of St Michael by his side. She ran all over the church seeking him. “He was here––and now he is not here!” cried she. Then she ran farther on, felt all about her, and cried again, “He was here––and now he’s not here!” At last she sprang up to the coffin, and there he was. Then she began to beg and pray him, “Come down, come down! I’ll try and catch thee no more, only come down, come down!” But he only prayed to God, and answered her never a word. Then the cock crew once, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”––“Alas! come down, come down, my consort!” cried she. Then he came down, and they both fell on their knees and began praying to God, and wept sore and gave thanks to God because He had had mercy on them both.

They Were on Both Knees - from Cossack Folk Tales and Fairy Tales

And at dawn of day crowds of people, with the Tsar at the head of them, came to the church. “Shall we find him reading prayers, or shall we only find his bones?” said they. And lo! there they both were on their knees praying fervently to God. Then the Tsar rejoiced greatly, and embraced both him and her. After that they had a grand service in the church, and sprinkled her with holy water, and baptized her again, and the unclean spirit departed from her. Then the Tsar gave the young man half his power and half his kingdom, but the merchants departed in their ships, with their nephew on board.

 

They lived together, and time went on and the young man still remained a bachelor, and was so handsome that words cannot describe it. But the Tsar lived alone with his daughter. She, however, grew sadder and sadder, and was no longer like her former self, so sorrowful was she. And the Tsar asked her, saying, “Wherefore art thou so sorrowful?”––“I am not sorrowful, father,” said she. But the Tsar watched her, and saw that she was sorrowful, and there was no help for it. Then he asked her again, “Art thou ill?”––“Nay, dear dad,” said she. “I myself know not what is the matter with me.”

 

And so it went on, till the Tsar dreamt a dream, and in this dream it was said to him, “Thy daughter grieves because she loves so much the youth who drove the unclean spirit out of her.” Then the Tsar asked her, “Dost thou love this youth?”––And she answered, “I do, dear father.”––“Then why didst thou not tell me before, my daughter?” said he. Then he sent for his heyducks and commanded them, saying, “Go this instant to such and such a kingdom, and there ye will find the youth who cured my daughter; bring him to me.” Then they went on and on until they found him, and he took just the same laths and boards that he had had before, and went with them. The Tsar met him, and bought all his boards, and when they split them in pieces, lo! they were full of precious stones. Then the Tsar took him to his own house and gave him his daughter. And they lived right merrily together.

 

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From COSSACK FAIRY TALES AND FOLK TALES

Format: Currently only in PDF ebook format

ISBN: 978-1-907256-30-1

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_cossack.html

 

Cossack Folk Tales and Fairy Tales

 

 

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Once upon a time in a certain village there lived two neighbours; one was rich, very rich, and the other so poor that he had nothing in the world but a little hut, and that was tumbling about his ears. At length things came to such a pass with the poor man that he had nothing to eat, and could get work nowhere. Full of grief, he bethought him what he should do. He thought and thought, and at last he said, “Look ye, wife! I’ll go to my rich neighbour. Perchance he will lend me a silver rouble; that, at any rate, will be enough to buy bread with.” So he went.

 

He came to the rich man. “Good health to my lord!” cried he.––“Good health!”––“I have come on an errand to thee, dear little master!”––“What may thine errand be?” inquired the rich man.––“Alas! would to God that I had no need to say it. It has come to such a pass with us that there’s not a crust of bread nor a farthing of money in the house. So I have come to thee, dear little master; lend us but a silver rouble and we will be ever thankful to thee, and I’ll work myself old to pay it back.”––“But who will stand surety for thee?” asked the rich man.––“I know not if any man will, I am so poor. Yet, perchance, God and St Michael will be my sureties,” and he pointed at the ikon in the corner. Then the ikon of St Michael spoke to the rich man from the niche and said, “Come now! lend it him, and put it down to my account. God will repay thee!”––“Well,” said the rich man, “I’ll lend it to thee.” So he lent it, and the poor man thanked him and returned to his home full of joy.

 

But the rich man was not content that God should give him back his loan by blessing him in his flocks and herds, and in his children, and in his health, and in the blessed fruits of the earth. He waited and waited for the poor man to come and pay him back his rouble, and at last he went to seek him. “Thou son of a dog,” he shouted, before the house, “why hast thou not brought me back my money? Thou knowest how to borrow, but thou forgettest to repay!” Then the wife of the poor man burst into tears. “He would repay thee indeed if he were in this world,” said she, “but lo now! he died but a little while ago!” The rich man snarled at her and departed, but when he got home he said to the ikon, “A pretty surety thou art!” Then he took St Michael down from the niche, dug out his eyes, and began beating him.

 

He beat St Michael again and again, and at last he flung him into a puddle and trampled on him. “I’ll give it thee for standing me surety so scurvily,” said he. While he was thus abusing St Michael, a young fellow about twenty years old came along that way, and said to him, “What art thou doing, my father?”––“I am beating him because he stood surety and has played me false. He took upon himself the repayment of a silver rouble, which I lent to the son of a pig, who has since gone away and died. That is why I am beating him now.”––“Beat him not, my father! I’ll give thee a silver rouble, but do thou give me this holy image!”––“Take him if thou wilt, but see that thou bring me the silver rouble first.”

 

Then the young man ran home and said to his father, “Dad, give me a silver rouble!”––“Wherefore, my son?”––“I would buy a holy image,” said he, and he told his father how he had seen that heathen beating St Michael.––“Nay, my son, whence shall we who are poor find a silver rouble to give to him who is so rich?”––“Nay, but give it me, dad!” and he begged and prayed till he got it. Then he ran back as quickly as he could, paid the silver rouble to the rich man, and got the holy image. He washed it clean and placed it in the midst of sweet-smelling flowers. And so they lived on as before.

 

Now this youth had three uncles, rich merchants, who sold all manner of merchandise, and went in ships to foreign lands, where they sold their goods and made their gains. One day, when his uncles were again making ready to depart into foreign lands, he said to them, “Take me with you!”––“Why shouldst thou go?” said they; “we have wares to sell, but what hast thou?”––“Yet take me,” said he.––“But thou hast nothing.”––“I will make me laths and boards and take them with me,” said he.––His uncles laughed at him for imagining such wares as these, but he begged and prayed them till they were wearied. “Well, come,” they said, “though there is naught for thee to do; only take not much of these wares of thine with thee, for our ships are already full.”––Then he made him laths and boards, put them on board the ship, took St Michael with him, and they departed.

 

They went on and on. They sailed a short distance and they sailed a long distance, till at last they came to another tsardom and another empire. And the Tsar of this tsardom had an only daughter, so lovely that the like of her is neither to be imagined nor divined in God’s fair world, neither may it be told in tales. Now this Tsarivna one day went down to the river to bathe, and plunged into the water without first crossing herself, whereupon the Evil Spirit took possession of her. The Tsarivna got out of the water, and straightway fell ill of so terrible a disease that it may not be told of. Do what they would––and the wise men and the wise women did their utmost––it was of no avail. In a few days she grew worse and died. Then the Tsar, her father, made a proclamation that people should come and read the prayers for the dead over her dead body, and so exorcise the evil spirit, and whosoever delivered her was to have half his power and half his tsardom.

 

And the people came in crowds––but none of them could read the prayers for the dead over her, it was impossible. Every evening a man went into the church, and every morning they swept out his bones, for there was naught else of him remaining. And the Tsar was very wrath. “All my people will be devoured,” cried he. And he commanded that all the foreign merchants passing through his realm should be made to read prayers for the dead over his daughter’s body. “And if they will not read,” said he, “they shall not depart from my kingdom.”

The Tsarivna Arose from her coffin

The Tsarivna arose from her coffin

So the foreign merchants went one by one. In the evening a merchant was shut up in the church, and in the early morning they came and found and swept away his bones. At last it came to the turn of the young man’s uncles to read the prayers for the dead in the church. They wept and lamented and cried, “We are lost! we are lost! Heaven help us!” Then the eldest uncle said to the lad, “Listen, good simpleton! It has now come to my turn to read prayers over the Tsarivna. Do thou go in my stead and pass the night in the church, and I’ll give thee all my ship.”––“Nay, but,” said the simpleton, “what if she tear me to pieces too? I won’t go!”––But then St Michael said to him, “Go and fear not! Stand in the very middle of the church, fenced round about with thy laths and boards, and take with thee a basket full of pears. When she rushes at thee, take and scatter the pears, and it will take her till cockcrow to pick them all up. But do thou go on reading thy prayers all the time, and look not up, whatever she may do.”

 

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From COSSACK FAIRY TALES AND FOLK TALES

Format: Currently only in PDF ebook format

ISBN: 978-1-907256-30-1

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_cossack.html

 

Cossack Folk Tales and Fairy Tales

 

 

There was once upon a time a lark who was the Tsar among the birds, and he took unto himself as his Tsaritsa a little shrew-mouse. They had a field all to themselves, which they sowed with wheat, and when the wheat grew up they divided it between them, when they found that there was one grain over! The mouse said, “Let me have it!” But the lark said, “No, let me have it!”––“What’s to be done?” thought they. They would have liked to take counsel of some one, but they had no parents or kinsmen, nobody at all to whom they could go and ask advice in the matter. At last the mouse said, “At any rate, let me have the first nibble!” The lark Tsar agreed to this; but the little mouse fastened her teeth in it and ran off into her hole with it, and there ate it all up. At this the Tsar lark was wrath, and collected all the birds of the air to make war upon the mouse Tsaritsa; but the Tsaritsa called together all the beasts to defend her, and so the war began. Whenever the beasts came rushing out of the wood to tear the birds to pieces, the birds flew up into the trees; but the birds kept in the air, and hacked and pecked the beasts wherever they could. Thus they fought the whole day, and in the evening they lay down to rest. Now when the Tsaritsa looked around upon her forces, she saw that the ant was taking no part in the war. She immediately went and commanded the ant to be there by evening, and when the ant came, the Tsaritsa ordered her to climb up the trees with her kinsmen and bite off the feathers round the birds’ wings.

Next day, when there was light enough to see by, the mouse Tsaritsa cried, “Up, up, my warriors!” Thereupon the birds also rose up, and immediately fell to the ground, where the beasts tore them to bits. So the Tsaritsa overcame the Tsar. But there was one eagle who saw there was something wrong, so he did not try to fly, but remained sitting on the tree. And lo! there came an archer along that way, and seeing the eagle on the tree, he took aim at it; but the eagle besought him and said, “Do not kill me, and I’ll be of great service to thee!” The archer aimed a second time, but the eagle besought him still more and said, “Take me down rather and keep me, and thou shalt see that it will be to thy advantage.” The archer, however, took aim a third time, but the eagle began to beg of him most piteously, “Nay, kill me not, but take me home with thee, and thou shalt see what great advantage it will be to thee!” The archer believed the bird. He climbed up the tree, took the eagle down, and carried it home. Then the eagle said to him, “Put me in a hut, and feed me with flesh till my wings have grown again.”

Now this archer had two cows and a steer, and he at once killed and cut up one of the cows for the eagle. The eagle fed upon this cow for a full year, and then he said to the archer, “Let me go, that I may fly. I see that my wings have already grown again!” Then the archer let him loose from the hut. The eagle flew round and round, he flew about for half a day, and then he returned to the archer and said, “I feel I have but little strength in me, slay me another cow!” And the archer obeyed him, and slew the second cow, and the eagle lived upon that for yet another year. Again the eagle flew round and round in the air. He flew round and about the whole day till evening, when he returned to the archer and said, “I am stronger than I was, but I have still but little strength in me, slay me the steer also!” Then the man thought to himself, “What shall I do? Shall I slay it, or shall I not slay it?” At last he said, “Well! I’ve sacrificed more than this before, so let this go too!” and he took the steer and slaughtered it for the eagle. Then the eagle lived upon this for another whole year longer, and after that he took to flight, and flew high up right to the very clouds. Then he flew down again to the man and said to him, “I thank thee, brother, for that thou hast been the saving of me! Come now and sit upon me!”––“Nay, but,” said the man, “what if some evil befall me?”––“Sit on me, I say!” cried the eagle. So the archer sat down upon the bird.

Then the eagle bore him nearly as high as the big clouds, and then let him fall. Down plumped the man; but the eagle did not let him fall to the earth, but swiftly flew beneath him and upheld him, and said to him, “How dost thou feel now?”––“I feel,” said the man, “as if I had no life in me.”––Then the eagle replied, “That was just how I felt when thou didst aim at me the first time.” Then he said to him, “Sit on my back again!” The man did not want to sit on him, but what could he do? Sit he must. Then the eagle flew with him quite as high as the big clouds, and shook him off, and down he fell headlong till he was about two fathoms from the ground, when the bird again flew beneath him and held him up. Again the eagle asked him, “How dost thou feel?” And the man replied, “I feel just as if all my bones were already broken to bits!”––“That is just how I felt when thou didst take aim at me the second time,” replied the eagle. “But now sit on my back once more.” The man did so, and the eagle flew with him as high as the small fleecy clouds, and then he shook him off, and down he fell headlong; but when he was but a hand’s-breadth from the earth, the eagle again flew beneath him and held him up, and said to him, “How dost thou feel now?” And he replied, “I feel as if I no longer belonged to this world!”––“That is just how I felt when thou didst aim at me the third time,” replied the eagle. “But now,” continued the bird, “thou art guilty no more. We are quits. I owe thee naught, and thou owest naught to me; so sit on my back again, and I’ll take thee to my master.”

They flew on and on, they flew till they came to the eagle’s uncle. And the eagle said to the archer, “Go to my house, and when they ask thee, ‘Hast thou not seen our poor child?’ reply, ‘Give me the magic egg, and I’ll bring him before your eyes!’” So he went to the house, and there they said to him, “Hast thou heard of our poor child with thine ears, or seen him with thine eyes, and hast thou come hither willingly or unwillingly?”––And he answered, “I have come hither willingly!”––Then they asked, “Hast thou smelt out anything of our poor youngster? for it is three years now since he went to the wars, and there’s neither sight nor sound of him more!”––And he answered, “Give me the magic egg, and I’ll bring him straightway before your eyes!”––Then they replied, “’Twere better we never saw him than that we should give thee the magic egg!”––Then he went back to the eagle and said to him, “They said, ‘’Twere better we never saw him than that we should give thee the magic egg.’”––Then the eagle answered, “Let us fly on farther!”

They flew on and on till they came to the eagle’s brother, and the archer said just the same to him as he had said to the eagle’s uncle, and still he didn’t get the egg. Then they flew to the eagle’s father, and the eagle said to him, “Go up to the hut, and if they ask for me, say that thou hast seen me and will bring me before their eyes.”––So he went up to the hut, and they said to him, “O Tsarevich, we hear thee with our ears and see thee with our eyes, but hast thou come hither of thine own free will or by the will of another?”––And the archer answered, “I have come hither of my own free will!”––Then they asked him, “Hast thou seen our son? Lo, these four years we have not had news of him. He went off to the wars, and perchance he has been slain there.”––And he answered them, “I have seen him, and if you will give me the magic egg, I will bring him before your eyes.”––And the eagle’s father said to him, “What good will such a thing do thee? We had better give thee the lucky penny!”––But he answered, “I don’t want the lucky penny, give me the magic egg!”––“Come hither then,” said he, “and thou shalt have it.” So he went into the hut. Then the eagle’s father rejoiced and gave him the egg, and said to him, “Take heed thou dost not break it anywhere on the road, and when thou gettest home, hedge it round and build a strong fence about it, and it will do thee good.”

So he went homeward. He went on and on till a great thirst came upon him. So he stopped at the first spring he came to, and as he stooped to drink he stumbled and the magic egg was broken. Then he perceived that an ox had come out of the egg and was rolling away. He gave chase to the ox, but whenever he was getting close to one side of it, the other side of it got farther away from him. Then the poor fellow cried, “I shall do nothing with it myself, I see.”––At that moment an old she-dragon came up to him and said, “What wilt thou give me, O man, if I chase this ox back again into the egg for thee?”––And the archer replied, “What can I give?”––The dragon said to him, “Give me what thou hast at home without thy will and wit!”––“Done!” said the archer. Then the dragon chased the ox nicely into the egg again, patched it up prettily and gave it into the man’s hand. Then the archer went home, and when he got home he found a son had been born to him there, and his son said to him, “Why didst thou give me to the old she-dragon, dad? But never mind, I’ll manage to live in spite of her.” Then the father was very grieved for a time, but what could he do? Now the name of this son was Ivan.

So Ivan lost no time in going to the dragon, and the dragon said to him, “Go to my house and do me three tasks, and if thou dost them not, I’ll devour thee.” Now, round the dragon’s house was a large meadow as far as the eye could reach. And the dragon said to him, “Thou must in a single night weed out this field and sow wheat in it, and reap the wheat and store it, all in this very night; and thou must bake me a roll out of this self-same wheat, and the roll must be lying ready for me on my table in the morning.”

Then Ivan went and leaned over the fence, and his heart within him was sore troubled. Now near to him there was a post, and on this post was the dragon’s starveling daughter. So when he came thither and fell a-weeping, she asked him, “Wherefore dost thou weep?”––And he said, “How can I help weeping? The dragon has bidden me do something I can never, never do; and what is more, she has bidden me do it in a single night.”––“What is it, pray?” asked the dragon’s daughter. Then he told her. “Not every bush bears a berry!” cried she. “Promise to take me to wife, and I’ll do all she has bidden thee do.” He promised, and then she said to him again, “Now go and lie down, but see that thou art up early in the morning to bring her her roll.” Then she went to the field, and before one could whistle she had cleaned it of weeds and harrowed it and sown it with wheat, and by dawn she had reaped the wheat and cooked the roll and brought it to him, and said, “Now, take it to her hut and put it on her table.”

Then the old she-dragon awoke and came to the door, and was amazed at the sight of the field, which was now all stubble, for the corn had been cut. Then she said to Ivan, “Yes, thou hast done the work well. But now, see that thou doest my second task.” Then she gave him her second command. “Dig up that mountain yonder and let the Dnieper flow over the site of it, and there build a store-house, and in the store-house stack the wheat that thou hast reaped, and sell this wheat to the merchant barques that sail by, and everything must be done by the time I get up early next morning!” Then he again went to the fence and wept, and the maiden said to him, “Why dost thou weep?” and he told her all that the she-dragon had bidden him do. “There are lots of bushes, but where are the berries? Go and lie down, and I’ll do it all for thee.” Then she whistled, and the mountain was levelled and the Dnieper flowed over the site of it, and round about the Dnieper store-houses rose up, and then she came and woke him that he might go and sell the wheat to the merchant barques that sailed by that way, and when the she-dragon rose up early in the morning she was amazed to see that everything had been done which she had commanded him.

Then she gave him her third command. “This night thou must catch the golden hare, and bring it to me by the morning light.” Again he went to the fence and fell a-weeping. And the girl asked him, “Why art thou weeping?”––He said to her, “She has ordered me to catch her the golden hare.”––“Oh, oh!” cried the she-dragon’s daughter, “the berries are ripening now; only her father knows how to catch such a hare as that. Nevertheless, I’ll go to a rocky place I know of, and there perchance we shall be able to catch it.” So they went to this rocky place together, and she said to him, “Stand over that hole. I’ll go in and chase him out of the hole, and do thou catch him as he comes out; but mind, whatever comes out of the hole, seize it, for it will be the golden hare.”

So she went and began beating up, and all at once out came a snake and hissed, and he let it go. Then she came out of the hole and said to him, “What! has nothing come out?”––“Well,” said he, “only a snake, and I was afraid it would bite me, so I let it go.”––“What hast thou done?” said she; “that was the very hare itself. Look now!” said she, “I’ll go in again, and if any one comes out and tells you that the golden hare is not here, don’t believe it, but hold him fast.” So she crept into the hole again and began to beat for game, and out came an old woman, who said to the youth, “What art thou poking about there for?”––And he said to her, “For the golden hare.”––She said to him, “It is not here, for this is a snake’s hole,” and when she had said this she went away. Presently the girl also came out and said to him, “What! hast thou not got the hare? Did nothing come out then?”––“No,” said he, “nothing but an old woman who asked me what I was seeking, and I told her the golden hare, and she said, ‘It is not here,’ so I let her go.”––Then the girl replied, “Why didst thou not lay hold of her? for she was the very golden hare itself, and now thou never wilt catch it unless I turn myself into a hare and thou take and lay me on the table, and give me into my mother’s, the she-dragon’s hands, and go away, for if she find out all about it she will tear the pair of us to pieces.”

So she changed herself into a hare, and he took and laid her on the table, and said to the she-dragon, “There’s thy hare for thee, and now let me go away!” She said to him, “Very well––be off!” Then he set off running, and he ran and ran as hard as he could. Soon after, the old she-dragon discovered that it was not the golden hare, but her own daughter, so she set about chasing after them to destroy them both, for the daughter had made haste in the meantime to join Ivan. But as the she-dragon couldn’t run herself, she sent her husband, and he began chasing them, and they knew he was coming, for they felt the earth trembling beneath his tread. Then the she-dragon’s daughter said to Ivan, “I hear him running after us. I’ll turn myself into standing wheat and thee into an old man guarding me, and if he ask thee, ‘Hast thou seen a lad and a lass pass by this way?’ say to him, ‘Yes, they passed by this way while I was sowing this wheat!’”

A little while afterward the she-dragon’s husband came flying up. “Have a lad and a lass passed by this way?” said he. “Yes,” replied the old man, “they have.”––“Was it long ago?” asked the she-dragon’s husband.––“It was while this wheat was being sown,” replied the old man.––“Oh!” thought the dragon, “this wheat is ready for the sickle, they couldn’t have been this way yesterday,” so he turned back. Then the she-dragon’s daughter turned herself back into a maiden and the old man into a youth, and off they set again. But the dragon returned home, and the she-dragon asked him, “What! hast thou not caught them or met them on the road?”––“Met them, no!” said he. “I did, indeed, pass on the road some standing wheat and an old man watching it, and I asked the old man if he had seen a lad and a lass pass by that way, and he said, ‘Yes, while this wheat was being sown,’ but the wheat was quite ripe for the sickle, so I knew it was a long while ago and turned back.”––“Why didst thou not tear that old man and the wheat to pieces?” cried the she-dragon; “it was they! Be off after them again, and mind, this time tear them to pieces without fail.”

So the dragon set off after them again, and they heard him coming from afar, for the earth trembled beneath him, so the damsel said to Ivan, “He’s coming again, I hear him; now I’ll change myself into a monastery, so old that it will be almost falling to pieces, and I’ll change thee into an old black monk at the gate, and when he comes up and asks, ‘Hast thou seen a lad and a lass pass this way?’ say to him, ‘Yes, they passed by this way when this monastery was being built.’” Soon afterward the dragon came flying past, and asked the monk, “Hast thou seen a lad and a lass pass by this way?”––“Yes,” he replied, “I saw them what time the holy fathers began to build this monastery.” The dragon thought to himself, “That was not yesterday! This monastery has stood a hundred years if it has stood a day, and won’t stand much longer either,” and with that he turned him back. When he got home, he said to the she-dragon, his wife, “I met a black monk who serves in a monastery, and I asked him about them, and he told me that a lad and a lass had run past that way when the monastery was being built, but that was not yesterday, for the monastery is a hundred years old at the very least.”––“Why didst thou not tear the black monk to pieces and pull down the monastery? for ’twas they. But I see I must go after them myself, thou art no good at all.”

So off she set and ran and ran, and they knew she was coming, for the earth quaked and yawned beneath her. Then the damsel said to Ivan, “I fear me ’tis all over, for she is coming herself! Look now! I’ll change thee into a stream and myself into a fish––a perch.” Immediately after the she-dragon came up and said to the perch, “Oh, oh! so thou wouldst run away from me, eh!” Then she turned herself into a pike and began chasing the perch, but every time she drew near to it, the perch turned its prickly fins toward her, so that she could not catch hold of it. So she kept on chasing it and chasing it, but finding she could not catch it, she tried to drink up the stream, till she drank so much of it that she burst.

Then the maiden who had become a fish said to the youth who had become a river, “Now that we are alive and not dead, go back to thy lord-father and thy father’s house and see them, and kiss them all except the daughter of thy uncle, for if thou kiss that damsel thou wilt forget me, and I shall go to the land of Nowhere.” So he went home and greeted them all, and as he did so he thought to himself, “Why should I not greet my uncle’s daughter like the rest of them? Why, they’ll think me a mere pagan if I don’t!” So he kissed her, and the moment he did so he forgot all about the girl who had saved him.

So he remained there half a year, and then bethought him of taking to himself a wife. So they betrothed him to a very pretty girl, and he accepted her and forgot all about the other girl who had saved him from the dragon, though she herself was the she-dragon’s daughter. Now the evening before the wedding they heard a young damsel crying Shishki in the streets. They called to the young damsel to go away, or say who she was, for nobody knew her. But the damsel answered never a word, but began to knead more cakes, and made a cock-dove and a hen-dove out of the dough and put them down on the ground, and they became alive. And the hen-dove said to the cock-dove, “Hast thou forgotten how I cleared the field for thee, and sowed it with wheat, and thou mad’st a roll from the corn which thou gavest to the she-dragon?”––But the cock-dove answered, “Forgotten! forgotten!”––Then she said to him again, “And hast thou forgotten how I dug away the mountain for thee, and let the Dnieper flow by it that the merchant barques might come to thy store-houses, and that thou mightst sell thy wheat to the merchant barques?” But the cock-dove replied, “Forgotten! forgotten!”––Then the hen-dove said to him again, “And hast thou forgotten how we two went together in search of the golden hare? Hast thou forgotten me then altogether?”––And the cock-dove answered again, “Forgotten! forgotten!” Then the good youth Ivan bethought him who this damsel was that had made the doves, and he took her to his arms and made her his wife, and they lived happily ever afterward.

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From “Cossack Folk Tales and Fairy Tales” ISBN 978-1-907256-30-1

http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_cossack.html

Cossack Fairy Tales and Folk Tales

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