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Herein are 25 famous stories from The Greek, German, English, Spanish Scandinavian, Danish, French, Russian, Bohemian, Italian and other sources. These stories are further brought to life by 24 full colour plates

The myths and legends gathered here have appealed and will continue to appeal to every age. Nowhere in the realm of fiction are there stories to compare with those which took form centuries ago when the human race was in its childhood—stories so intimately connected with the life and history and religion of the great peoples of antiquity that they have become an integral part of our own civilization. These are a heritage of wealth to every child that is born into the world. Myths and legends like:
Prometheus The Friend Of Man, The Labors Of Hercules, The Gorgon’s Head, The Golden Fleece, The Cyclops, The Sack Of Troy, Beowulf And Grendel, The Good King Arthur and many, many more.

This volume is sure to keep you and your young ones enchanted for hours, if not because of the content, then because of their quality.

Format: eBook – Mobi/Kindle, ePub, PDF

Download Link: https://folklore-fairy-tales-myths-legends-and-other-stories.stores.streetlib.com/en/anon-e-mouse/myths-and-legends-of-all-nations-25-illustrated-myths-legends-and-stories-for-children/

MYTHS AND LEGENDS of all nations

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An excerpt from Andrew Lang’s RED FAIRY BOOK

 

THERE was once upon a time a fisherman, who lived hard by a palace and fished for the King’s table. One day he was out fishing, but caught nothing at all. Let him do what he might with rod and line, there was never even so much as a sprat on his hook; but when the day was well nigh over, a head rose up out of the water, and said: `If you will give me what your wife shows you when you go home, you shall catch fish enough.’

So the man said `Yes’ in a moment, and then he caught fish in plenty; but when he got home at night, and his wife showed him a baby which had just been born, and fell a-weeping and wailing when he told her of the promise which he had given, he was very unhappy.

All this was soon told to the King up at the palace, and when he heard what sorrow the woman was in, and the reason of it, he said that he himself would take the child and see if he could not save it. The baby was a boy, and the King took him at once and brought him up as his own son until the lad grew up. Then one day he begged to have leave to go out with his father to fish; he had a strong desire to do this, he said. The King was very unwilling to permit it, but at last the lad got leave. He stayed with his father, and all went prosperously and well with them the whole day, until they came back to land in the evening. Then the lad found that he had lost his pocket-handkerchief, and would go out in the boat after it; but no sooner had he got into the boat than it began to move off with him so quickly that the water foamed all round about, and all that the lad did to keep the boat back with the oars was done to no purpose, for it went on and on the whole night through, and at last he came to a white strand that lay far, far away. There he landed, and when he had walked on for some distance he met an old man with a long white beard.

`What is the name of this country?’ said the youth.

`Whiteland,’ answered the man, and then he begged the youth to tell him whence he came and what he was going to do, and the youth did so.

`Well, then,’ said the man, `if you walk on farther along the seashore here, you will come to three princesses who are standing in the earth so that their heads alone are out of it. Then the first of them will call you—she is the eldest—and will beg you very prettily to come to her and help her, and the second will do the same, but you must not go near either of them. Hurry past, as if you neither saw nor heard them; but you shall go to the third and do what she bids you; it will bring you good fortune.’

When the youth came to the first princess, she called to him and begged him to come to her very prettily, but he walked on as if he did not even see her, and he passed by the second in the same way, but he went up to the third.

`If thou wilt do what I tell thee, thou shalt choose among us three,’ said the Princess.

So the lad said that he was most willing, and she told him that three Trolls had planted them all three there in the earth, but that formerly they had dwelt in the castle which he could see at some distance in the wood.

`Now,’ she said, `thou shalt go into the castle, and let the Trolls beat thee one night for each of us, and if thou canst but endure that, thou wilt set us free.’

`Yes,’ answered the lad, `I will certainly try to do so.’

`When thou goest in,’ continued the Princess, `two lions will stand by the doorway, but if thou only goest straight between them they will do thee no harm; go straight forward into a small dark chamber; there thou shalt lie down. Then the Troll will come and beat thee, but thou shalt take the flask which is hanging on the wall, and anoint thyself wheresoever he has wounded thee, after which thou shalt be as well as before. Then lay hold of the sword which is hanging by the side of the flask, and smite the Troll dead.’

So he did what the Princess had told him. He walked straight in between the lions just as if he did not see them, and then into the small chamber, and lay down on the bed.

The first night a Troll came with three heads and three rods, and beat the lad most unmercifully; but he held out until the Troll was done with him, and then he took the flask and rubbed himself. Having done this, he grasped the sword and smote the Troll dead.

In the morning when he went to the sea-shore the Princesses were out of the earth as far as their waists.

The next night everything happened in the same way, but the Troll who came then had six heads and six rods, and he beat him much more severely than the first had done but when the lad went out of doors next morning, the Princesses were out of the earth as far as their knees.

On the third night a Troll came who had nine heads and nine rods, and he struck the lad and flogged him so long, that at last he swooned away; so the Troll took him up and flung him against the wall, and this made the flask of ointment fall down, and it splashed all over him, and he became as strong as ever again.

Then, without loss of time, he grasped the sword and struck the Troll dead, and in the morning when he went out of the castle the Princesses were standing there entirely out of the earth. So he took the youngest for his Queen, and lived with her very happily for a long time.

At last, however, he took a fancy to go home for a short time to see his parents. His Queen did not like this, but when his longing grew so great that he told her he must and would go, she said to him:

`One thing shalt thou promise me, and that is, to do what thy father bids thee, but not what thy mother bids thee,’ and this he promised.

So she gave him a ring, which enabled him who wore it to obtain two wishes.

He wished himself at home, and instantly found himself there; but his parents were so amazed at the splendour of his apparel that their wonder never ceased.

When he had been at home for some days his mother wanted him to go up to the palace, to show the King what a great man he had become.

The father said, `No; he must not do that, for if he does we shall have no more delight in him this time; `but he spoke in vain, for the mother begged and prayed until at last he went.

When he arrived there he was more splendid, both in raiment and in all else, than the other King, who did not like it, and said:

`Well, you can see what kind of Queen mine is, but I can’t see yours. I do not believe you have such a pretty Queen as I have.’

`Would to heaven she were standing here, and then you would be able to see!’ said the young King, and in an instant she was standing there.

But she was very sorrowful, and said to him, `Why didst thou not remember my words, and listen only to what thy father said? Now must I go home again at once, and thou hast wasted both thy wishes.’

Then she tied a ring in his hair, which had her name upon it, and wished herself at home again.

And now the young King was deeply afflicted, and day out and day in went about thinking of naught else but how to get back again to his Queen. `I will try to see if there is any place where I can learn how to find Whiteland,’ he thought, and journeyed forth out into the world.

When he had gone some distance he came to a mountain, where he met a man who was Lord over all the beasts in the forest —for they all came to him when he blew a horn which he had. So the King asked where Whiteland was.

`I do not know that,’ he answered, `but I will ask my beasts.’ Then he blew his horn and inquired whether any of them knew where Whiteland lay, but there was not one who knew that.

So the man gave him a pair of snow shoes. `When you have these on,’ he said, `you will come to my brother, who lives hundreds of miles from here; he is Lord over all the birds in the air—ask him. When you have got there, just turn the shoes so that the toes point this way, and then they will come home again of their own accord.’

When the King arrived there he turned the shoes as the Lord of the beasts had bidden him, and they went back.

And now he once more asked after Whiteland, and the man summoned all the birds together, and inquired if any of them knew where Whiteland lay. No, none knew this. Long after the others there came an old eagle. He had been absent ten whole years, but he too knew no more than the rest.

`Well, well,’ said the man, `then you shall have the loan of a pair of snow shoes of mine. If you wear them you will get to my brother, who lives hundreds of miles from here. He is Lord of all the fish in the sea—you can ask him. But do not forget to turn the shoes round.’

The King thanked him, put on the shoes, and when he had got to him who was Lord of all the fish in the sea, he turned the snow shoes round, and back they went just as the others had gone, and he asked once more where Whiteland was.

The man called the fish together with his horn, but none of them knew anything about it. At last came an old, old pike, which he had great difficulty in bringing home to him.

When he asked the pike, it said, `Yes, Whiteland is well known to me, for I have been cook there these ten years. To-morrow morning I have to go back there, for now the Queen, whose King is staying away, is to marry someone else.’

`If that be the case I will give you a piece of advice,’ said the man. `Not far from here on a moor stand three brothers, who have stood there a hundred years fighting for a hat, a cloak, and a pair of boots; if anyone has these three things he can make himself invisible, and if he desires to go to any place, he has but to wish and he is there. You may tell them that you have a desire to try these things, and then you will be able to decide which of the men is to have them.’

So the King thanked him and went, and did what he had said.

`What is this that you are standing fighting about forever and ever?’ said he to the brothers; `let me make a trial of these things, and then I will judge between you.’

They willingly consented to this, but when he had got the hat, the cloak, and the boots, he said, `Next time we meet you shall have my decision,’ and hereupon he wished himself away.

While he was going quickly through the air he fell in with the North Wind.

`And where may you be going?’ said the North Wind.

`To Whiteland,’ said the King, and then he related what had happened to him.

`Well,’ said the North Wind, `you can easily go a little quicker than I can, for I have to puff and blow into every corner; but when you get there, place yourself on the stairs by the side of the door, and then I will come blustering in as if I wanted to blow down the whole castle, and when the Prince who is to have your Queen comes out to see what is astir, just take him by the throat and fling him out, and then I will try to carry him away from court.’

As the North Wind had said, so did the King. He stood on the stairs, and when the North Wind came howling and roaring, and caught the roof and walls of the castle till they shook again, the Prince went out to see what was the matter; but as soon as he came the King took him by the neck and flung him out, and then the North Wind laid hold of him and carried him off. And when he was rid of him the King went into the castle. At first the Queen did not know him, because he had grown so thin and pale from having travelled so long and so sorrowfully; but when she saw her ring she was heartily glad, and then the rightful wedding was held, and held in such a way that it was talked about far and wide.

 

From: Andrew Lang’s RED FAIRY BOOK

ISBN: 978-1-907256-87-5

URL: www.AbelaPublishing.com/redfairybook.html

Time went on, and the old woman grew tired of being only a lady. And at last there came a day when she sent into the yard to tell the old man to come before her. The poor old man combed his hair and cleaned his boots, and came into the house, and bowed low before the old woman.

 

“Be off with you, you old good-for-nothing!” says she. “Go and find your golden fish, and tell him from me that I am tired of being a lady. I want to be Tzaritza, with generals and courtiers and men of state to do whatever I tell them.”

 

The old man went along to the seashore, glad enough to be out of the courtyard and out of reach of the stablemen with their whips. He came to the shore, and cried out in his windy old voice,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

And there was the golden fish looking at him with its wise eyes.

 

“What’s the matter now, old man?” says the fish.

 

“My old woman is going on worse than ever,” says the old fisherman. “My back is sore with the whips of her grooms. And now she says it isn’t enough for her to be a lady; she wants to be a Tzaritza.”

 

“Never you worry about it,” says the fish. “Go home and praise God;” and with that the fish turned over and went down into the sea.

 

The old man went home slowly, for he did not know what his wife would do to him if the golden fish did not make her into a Tzaritza.

 

But as soon as he came near he heard the noise of trumpets and the beating of drums, and there where the fine stone house had been was now a great palace with a golden roof. Behind it was a big garden of flowers, that are fair to look at but have no fruit, and before it was a meadow of fine green grass. And on the meadow was an army of soldiers drawn up in squares and all dressed alike. And suddenly the fisherman saw his old woman in the gold and silver dress of a Tzaritza come stalking out on the balcony with her generals and boyars to hold a review of her troops. And the drums beat and the trumpets sounded, and the soldiers cried “Hurrah!” And the poor old fisherman found a dark corner in one of the barns, and lay down in the straw.

 

Time went on, and at last the old woman was tired of being Tzaritza.

 

She thought she was made for something better. And one day she said to her chamberlain,–

 

“Find me that ragged old beggar who is always hanging about in the courtyard. Find him, and bring him here.”

 

The chamberlain told his officers, and the officers told the servants, and the servants looked for the old man, and found him at last asleep on the straw in the corner of one of the barns. They took some of the dirt off him, and brought him before the Tzaritza, sitting proudly on her golden throne.

 

“Listen, old fool!” says she. “Be off to your golden fish, and tell it I am tired of being Tzaritza. Anybody can be Tzaritza. I want to be the ruler of the seas, so that all the waters shall obey me, and all the fishes shall be my servants.”

 

“I don’t like to ask that,” said the old man, trembling.

 

“What’s that?” she screamed at him. “Do you dare to answer the Tzaritza? If you do not set off this minute, I’ll have your head cut off and your body thrown to the dogs.”

 

Unwillingly the old man hobbled off. He came to the shore, and cried out with a windy, quavering old voice,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

Nothing happened.

 

The old man thought of his wife, and what would happen to him if she were still Tzaritza when he came home. Again he called out,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

Nothing happened, nothing at all.

 

A third time, with the tears running down his face, he called out in his windy, creaky, quavering old voice,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

Suddenly there was a loud noise, louder and louder over the sea. The sun hid itself. The sea broke into waves, and the waves piled themselves one upon another. The sky and the sea turned black, and there was a great roaring wind that lifted the white crests of the waves and tossed them abroad over the waters. The golden fish came up out of the storm and spoke out of the sea.

 

“What is it now?” says he, in a voice more terrible than the voice of the storm itself.

 

“O fish,” says the old man, trembling like a reed shaken by the storm, “my old woman is worse than before. She is tired of being Tzaritza. She wants to be the ruler of the seas, so that all the waters shall obey her and all the fishes be her servants.”

 

The golden fish said nothing, nothing at all. He turned over and went down into the deep seas. And the wind from the sea was so strong that the old man could hardly stand against it. For a long time he waited, afraid to go home; but at last the storm calmed, and it grew towards evening, and he hobbled back, thinking to creep in and hide amongst the straw.

 

As he came near, he listened for the trumpets and the drums. He heard nothing except the wind from the sea rustling the little leaves of birch trees. He looked for the palace. It was gone, and where it had been was a little tumbledown hut of earth and logs. It seemed to the old fisherman that he knew the little hut, and he looked at it with joy. And he went to the door of the hut, and there was sitting his old woman in a ragged dress, cleaning out a saucepan, and singing in a creaky old voice. And this time she was glad to see him, and they sat down together on the bench and drank tea without sugar, because they had not any money.

 

They began to live again as they used to live, and the old man grew happier every day. He fished and fished, and many were the fish that he caught, and of many kinds; but never again did he catch another golden fish that could talk like a human being. I doubt whether he would have said anything to his wife about it, even if he had caught one every day.

 

————————-

From OLD PETER’S RUSSAIN TALES

ISBN: 978-1-907256-40-0

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

 

Old Peter's Russian Tales

 

 

 

Early in the morning she woke the old man again, and he had to get up and go down to the seashore. He was very much afraid, because he thought the fish would not take it kindly. But at dawn, just as the red sun was rising out of the sea, he stood on the shore, and called out in his windy old voice,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

And there in the morning sunlight was the golden fish, looking at him with its wise eyes.

“I beg your pardon,” says the old man, “but could you, just to oblige my wife, give us some sort of trough to put the bread in?”

 

“Go home,” says the fish; and down it goes into the blue sea.

 

The old man went home, and there, outside the hut, was the old woman, looking at the handsomest bread trough that ever was seen on earth. Painted it was, with little flowers, in three colours, and there were strips of gilding about its handles.

 

“Look at this,” grumbled the old woman. “This is far too fine a trough for a tumble-down hut like ours. Why, there is scarcely a place in the roof where the rain does not come through. If we were to keep this trough in such a hut, it would be spoiled in a month. You must go back to your fish and ask it for a new hut.”

 

“I hardly like to do that,” says the old man.

 

“Get along with you,” says his wife. “If the fish can make a trough like this, a hut will be no trouble to him. And, after all, you must not forget he owes his life to you.”

 

“I suppose that is true,” says the old man; but he went back to the shore with a heavy heart. He stood on the edge of the sea and called out, doubtfully,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

Instantly there was a ripple in the water, and the golden fish was looking at him with its wise eyes.

 

“Well?” says the fish.

 

“My old woman is so pleased with the trough that she wants a new hut to keep it in, because ours, if you could only see it, is really falling to pieces, and the rain comes in and –.”

 

“Go home,” says the fish.

 

The old fisherman went home, but he could not find his old hut at all. At first he thought he had lost his way. But then he saw his wife. And she was walking about, first one way and then the other, looking at the finest hut that God ever gave a poor moujik to keep him from the rain and the cold, and the too great heat of the sun. It was built of sound logs, neatly finished at the ends and carved. And the overhanging of the roof was cut in patterns, so neat, so pretty, you could never think how they had been done. The old woman looked at it from all sides. And the old man stood, wondering. Then they went in together. And everything within the hut was new and clean. There were a fine big stove, and strong wooden benches, and a good table, and a fire lit in the stove, and logs ready to put in, and a samovar already on the boil–a fine new samovar of glittering brass.

 

You would have thought the old woman would have been satisfied with that. Not a bit of it.

 

“You don’t know how to lift your eyes from the ground,” says she. “You don’t know what to ask. I am tired of being a peasant woman and a moujik’s wife. I was made for something better. I want to be a lady, and have good people to do the work, and see folk bow and curtsy to me when I meet them walking abroad. Go back at once to the fish, you old fool, and ask him for that, instead of bothering him for little trifles like bread troughs and moujiks’ huts. Off with you.”

 

The old fisherman went back to the shore with a sad heart; but he was afraid of his wife, and he dared not disobey her. He stood on the shore, and called out in his windy old voice,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

Instantly there was the golden fish looking at him with its wise eyes.

 

“Well?” says the fish.

 

“My old woman won’t give me a moment’s peace,” says the old man; “and since she has the new hut–which is a fine one, I must say; as good a hut as ever I saw–she won’t be content at all. She is tired of being a peasant’s wife, and wants to be a lady with a house and servants, and to see the good folk curtsy to her when she meets them walking abroad.”

 

“Go home,” says the fish.

 

The old man went home, thinking about the hut, and how pleasant it would be to live in it, even if his wife were a lady.

 

But when he got home the hut had gone, and in its place there was a fine brick house, three stories high. There were servants running this way and that in the courtyard. There was a cook in the kitchen, and there was his old woman, in a dress of rich brocade, sitting idle in a tall carved chair, and giving orders right and left.

 

“Good health to you, wife,” says the old man.

 

“Ah, you, clown that you are, how dare you call me your wife! Can’t you see that I’m a lady? Here! Off with this fellow to the stables, and see that he gets a beating he won’t forget in a hurry.”

 

Instantly the servants seized the old man by the collar and lugged him along to the stables. There the grooms treated him to such a whipping that he could hardly stand on his feet. After that the old woman made him doorkeeper. She ordered that a besom should be given him to clean up the courtyard, and said that he was to have his meals in the kitchen. A wretched life the old man lived. All day long he was sweeping up the courtyard, and if there was a speck of dirt to be seen in it anywhere, he paid for it at once in the stable under the whips of the grooms.

 

 

————————-

From OLD PETER’S RUSSAIN TALES

ISBN: 978-1-907256-40-0

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

 

Old Peter's Russian Tales

 

 

“This,” said old Peter, “is a story against wanting more than enough.”

 

Long ago, near the shore of the blue sea, an old man lived with his old woman in a little old hut made of earth and moss and logs. They never had a rouble to spend. A rouble! they never had a kopeck. They just lived there in the little hut, and the old man caught fish out of the sea in his old net, and the old woman cooked the fish; and so they lived, poorly enough in summer and worse in winter. Sometimes they had a few fish to sell, but not often. In the summer evenings they sat outside their hut on a broken old bench, and the old man mended the holes in his ragged old net. There were holes in it a hare could jump through with his ears standing, let alone one of those little fishes that live in the sea. The old woman sat on the bench beside him, and patched his trousers and complained.

 

Well, one day the old man went fishing, as he always did. All day long he fished, and caught nothing. And then in the evening, when he was thinking he might as well give up and go home, he threw his net for the last time, and when he came to pull it in he began to think he had caught an island instead of a haul of fish, and a strong and lively island at that–the net was so heavy and pulled so hard against his feeble old arms.

 

“This time,” says he, “I have caught a hundred fish at least.”

 

Not a bit of it. The net came in as heavy as if it were full of fighting fish, but empty –.

 

“Empty?” said Maroosia.

 

“Well, not quite empty,” said old Peter, and went on with his tale.

 

Not quite empty, for when the last of the net came ashore there was something glittering in it–a golden fish, not very big and not very little, caught in the meshes. And it was this single golden fish which had made the net so heavy.

 

The old fisherman took the golden fish in his hands.

 

“At least it will be enough for supper,” said he.

 

But the golden fish lay still in his hands, and looked at him with wise eyes, and spoke–yes, my dears, it spoke, just as if it were you or I.

 

“Old man,” says the fish, “do not kill me. I beg you throw me back into the blue waters. Someday I may be able to be of use to you.”

 

“What?” says the old fisherman; “and do you talk with a human voice?”

 

“I do,” says the fish. “And my fish’s heart feels pain like yours. It would be as bitter to me to die as it would be to yourself.”

 

“And is that so?” says the old fisherman. “Well, you shall not die this time.” And he threw the golden fish back into the sea.

Old Peter and the Golden Fish

You would have thought the golden fish would have splashed with his tail, and turned head downwards, and swum away into the blue depths of the sea. Not a bit of it. It stayed there with its tail slowly flapping in the water so as to keep its head up, and it looked at the fisherman with its wise eyes, and it spoke again.

 

“You have given me my life,” says the golden fish. “Now ask anything you wish from me, and you shall have it.”

 

The old fisherman stood there on the shore, combing his beard with his old fingers, and thinking. Think as he would, he could not call to mind a single thing he wanted.

 

“No, fish,” he said at last; “I think I have everything I need,”

 

“Well, if ever you do want anything, come and ask for it,” says the fish, and turns over, flashing gold, and goes down into the blue sea.

 

The old fisherman went back to his hut, where his wife was waiting for him.

 

“What!” she screamed out; “you haven’t caught so much as one little fish for our supper?”

 

“I caught one fish, mother,” says the old man: “a golden fish it was, and it spoke to me; and I let it go, and it told me to ask for anything I wanted.”

 

“And what did you ask for? Show me.”

 

“I couldn’t think of anything to ask for; so I did not ask for anything at all.”

 

“Fool,” says his wife, “and dolt, and us with no food to put in our mouths. Go back at once, and ask for some bread.”

 

Well, the poor old fisherman got down his net, and tramped back to the seashore. And he stood on the shore of the wide blue sea, and he called out,–

 

“Head in air and tail in sea,
Fish, fish, listen to me.”

 

And in a moment there was the golden fish with his head out of the water, flapping his tail below him in the water, and looking at the fisherman with his wise eyes.

 

“What is it?” said the fish.

 

“Be so kind,” says the fisherman; “be so kind. We have no bread in the house.”

 

“Go home,” says the fish, and turned over and went down into the sea.

 

“God be good to me,” says the old fisherman; “but what shall I say to my wife, going home like this without the bread?” And he went home very wretchedly, and slower than he came.

 

As soon as he came within sight of his hut he saw his wife, and she was waving her arms and shouting.

 

“Stir your old bones,” she screamed out. “It’s as fine a loaf as ever I’ve seen.”

 

And he hurried along, and found his old wife cutting up a huge loaf of white bread, mind you, not black–a huge loaf of white bread, nearly as big as Maroosia.

 

“You did not do so badly after all,” said his old wife as they sat there with the samovar on the table between them, dipping their bread in the hot tea.

 

But that night, as they lay sleeping on the stove, the old woman poked the old man in the ribs with her bony elbow. He groaned and woke up.

 

“I’ve been thinking,” says his wife, “your fish might have given us a trough to keep the bread in while he was about it. There is a lot left over, and without a trough it will go bad, and not be fit for anything. And our old trough is broken; besides, it’s too small. First thing in the morning off you go, and ask your fish to give us a new trough to put the bread in.”

 

 

 

————————-

From OLD PETER’S RUSSAIN TALES

ISBN: 978-1-907256-40-0

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

 

Old Peters Russian Tales

 

 

 

THERE was and there was not at all, there was a blind monarch; all the doctors in the kingdom had been applied to, but the king could not be cured.

At last one doctor said: ‘In a certain sea is a fish red as blood. If this is caught, killed, and its blood sprinkled on your eyes, it may do good–the light will come back into your eyes–if not, there can be no other cure for you.’

Then the king assembled every fisherman in his realm, and commanded: ‘Go wherever it may be or may not be, catch such a fish as this, and I shall give you a rich reward.’

Some time passed by. An old fisherman caught just such a crimson fish, and took it to the king. The king was asleep, and they did not dare to wake him, so they put the fish into a basin full of water.

Just then his son returned from his lessons. He saw the blood-red fish swimming in the basin. He took it up in his hands, caressed it, and said: ‘What do you want with the pretty fish in the basin?’ They said to him: ‘This is good for your father, it must be killed, its blood sprinkled on his eyes, and he will regain his sight.’ ‘But is it not a sin to kill it?’ asked the prince; and he took the fish out to a stream in the meadow, and gave it freedom.

A little while after, the king awoke; his viziers said to him: ‘An old fisherman brought td you a blood-red fish, but your son, who had just returned from his lessons, let it away.’

The king was very angry, and sent his son from the house. ‘Go hence, I shall be well when thou art no longer remembered in the kingdom; with my eyes I cannot look upon thee, but never let me hear thine unpleasant voice again.’ The boy was grieved, rose, and went away.

He went, he went, and he knew not whither he went. On the way he saw a stream. He was weary and sat down to rest on the bank. Behold, a boy of his own age came out of the water. He came to the prince, greeted him, and said: ‘Whence comest thou? and what troubles thee?’ The prince went to him and told him all that had happened to him. His new acquaintance said: ‘I also am discontented with my lot, so let us become brothers, and live together.’ The prince agreed, and they went on their way.

They travelled on some distance, when they came to a town, and they dwelt there. When the next day dawned, his adopted brother said to the prince: ‘Stay thou at home, do not go out of doors, lest they eat thee, for such is the custom here.’ The prince promised, and from morning until night he sat indoors. The other boy was away in the town all day. At twilight, when he came home, he had a handkerchief quite full of provisions.

Several days slipped by. The prince stayed in all day, and his brother brought the food and drink. At last the prince said to himself: ‘This is shameful! My adopted brother goes out and brings in food and drink. Why do I not do something? What an idle fellow I am! I will go and do something!’

And so it happened that one day the king’s son went into the town; he wandered here and there, and in one place saw his brother, who was sitting cross-legged on the ground, at his feet was stretched a pocket handkerchief, in his hand he held a chonguri (a stringed instrument), which he played, and he chanted to it with a sweet voice. Whoever passed by placed money in the handkerchief.

The king’s son listened and listened, and said: ‘No, this must not be; this is not my business.’ So he turned and went back.

Near there he saw a tower. Outside was a wall, and on the top were arranged in rows men’s heads: some were quite shrivelled up, some had an unpleasant odour of decay, and some had just been placed there.

He looked and looked, and could not understand what it meant. He asked a man: ‘Whose tower is this, and why are men’s heads arranged in rows in this way?’ He was told: ‘In this tower dwells a maiden beautiful as the sun. Any king’s son may ask her in marriage. She asks him a question: if he cannot answer it his head is cut off, but if he can he may demand her in marriage. No one has yet been able to answer her question.’

The prince thought and thought, and said to himself: ‘I will go. I will ask this maiden in marriage: I will know if this is my fate. What is to be will be. What can she ask me that I shall not know?’ So he rose and went.

He came to the sunlike maiden and asked her in marriage. She answered: ‘It is well, but first I have a question to ask thee; if thou canst answer, then I am thine, if not, I shall cut off thy head.’ ‘So let it be,’ said the prince. ‘I ask thee this, Who are Gulambara and Sulambara?’ enquired the beautiful maiden. The king’s son said to himself: ‘I know indeed that Gulambara and Sulambara are names of flowers, but I never heard in all my life of human beings thus named.’ He asked three days grace and went away.

He went home and told his brother what had happened, and said: ‘If thou canst not help me now, in three days I shall lose my head.’ His brother reproached him, saying: ‘Did I not tell thee to stay indoors? This is a wicked town.’ But then he comforted him, saying: ‘Go now, buy a pennyworth of aromatic gum and a candle. I have a grandmother, I shall take thee to her, and she will help thee. But at the moment when my grandmother looks at us, give her the gum and the candle, or she will eat thee.’

He bought the gum and the candle, and they set out. The grandmother was standing in her doorway; the prince immediately gave her the gum and the candle. ‘What is it? what is the matter with thee?’ enquired the grandmother of the prince’s adopted brother. He came forward, and told everything in detail. Then he added: ‘This is my good brother, and certainly thou shouldst help him.’ ‘Very well,’ said the old woman to the prince; ‘sit down on my back.’ The prince seated himself on her back. The old woman flew up high, and then, in the twinkling of an eye, she flew down into the depths.

She took him into a town there, and went to the entrance of a bazaar. She pointed out a shopkeeper and said: ‘Go and engage thyself as assistant to this shopkeeper; but in the evening, when he leaves business and goes home, tell him that he must take thee with him, and must not leave thee in the shop. Where thou goest with him thou wilt learn the story of Gulambara and Sulambara. Then when thou hast need of me, whistle and I shall be there.’

The prince did exactly as the old woman had instructed him; he went to the butcher, as his assistant. At twilight, when the butcher spoke of going home, the prince said to him: ‘Do not leave me here; I am a stranger in this land. I am afraid; take me with thee.’ The butcher objected strongly, but the prince entreated him until he agreed.

The butcher went home, and took the prince with him. They came to a wall, opened a door, went in, and it closed. Inside that, was another wall; they went through that, and it closed. They passed thus through nine walls, and then they entered a house. The butcher opened a cupboard door, took out a woman’s head, and then an iron whip. He put down the decaying head and struck it. He struck and struck until the head was completely gone.

When the prince saw this he was astonished, and enquired: ‘Tell me, why do you strike this head that is so mutilated, and whose head is this?’ The butcher made answer: ‘I tell this to no one, this is my secret, but if I do tell any one he must then lose his head.’ ‘I still wish to know,’ said the prince. The butcher rose, took a sword, prepared himself, and said to the prince. ‘I had a wife who was so lovely that she excelled the sun; her name was Gulambara. I kept her under these nine locks, and I took care of her so that not even the wind of heaven blew on her. Whatever she asked me I gave her at once. I loved her to distraction, and trusted her, and she told me that she loved no one in the world but me. At that time I had an assistant who was called Sulambara, and my wife loved him and deceived me. Once I found them together, and seized them. I locked one in one cupboard and the other in another. Whenever I came home from business I went to the cupboards, and took out first one and then the other, and beat them as hard as I could. I struck so hard that Sulambara crumbled away yesterday, and only Gulambara’s head remained, and that has just now crumbled away before thine eyes.’

The story ended, he took his sword and said to the prince: ‘Now I am going to fulfil my threat, so come here and I shall cut off thy head.’ The prince entreated him: ‘Give me a little time. I will go to the door and pray to my God, and then do to me even as thou wishest.’ The butcher thought: ‘It can do no harm to let him go to the door for a short time, for he certainly cannot open the nine doors; let him pray to his God and have his wish.’

The prince went to the gate and whistled. Immediately the old woman flew down, took him on her back, and flew off. The youth went to the town where the beautiful maiden dwelt, and told the sunlike one the story of Gulambara and Sulambara. The maiden was very much surprised; when she had heard all, she agreed to marry him. They were married; she collected all her worldly possessions, and set out with the prince for his father’s kingdom.

When he came to the brook, his adopted brother appeared before him, and said: ‘In thy trouble I befriended thee, and now, when thou art happy, shall this friendship cease? Whatever thou hast obtained has been by my counsel, therefore thou shouldst share it with me.’ The prince divided everything in halves, but still his adopted brother was not pleased. ‘It is all very well to share this with me, whilst thou hast the beautiful maiden.’ The prince arose and gave up his own share of the goods.

His adopted brother would not take it, and spoke thus: ‘If thou holdest fast to our friendship thou shouldst share with me this maiden, the most precious of thy possessions!’ As he said this he seized the maiden’s hand, bound her to a tree, stretched forth his sword, and, as he was about to strike, a green stream flowed from the terror-stricken maiden’s mouth. Again the youth raised his sword. The same thing happened. A third time he prepared to strike, with the same result. Then he came, unbound her from the tree, gave her to the prince, and said: ‘Although this maiden was beautiful, yet she was venomous, and, sooner or later, would have killed thee. Now whatever poison was in her is completely gone, so do not fear her in the slightest degree. 1 Go! and God guide thee. As for these possessions, they are thine; I do not want them. May God give thee His peace.’ From his pocket he took out a handkerchief, gave it to the prince, and said: ‘Take this handkerchief with thee; when thou reachest home wipe thy father’s eyes with it and he will see. I am the fish that was in the basin, and thou didst set me free. Know, then, that kindness of heart is never lost.’ So saying, the prince’s adopted brother disappeared.

The prince remained astonished. Before he had time to express his gratitude the young man had suddenly disappeared. At last, when he had recovered himself, he took his wife and went to his father. He laid the handkerchief on the king’s eyes, and his sight came back to him. When he saw his only son and his beautiful daughter-in-law his joy was so great that his eyes filled with tears. His son sat down and told him all that had happened since he left him.

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From Georgian Folk Tales – ISBN 978-1-907256-12-7

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

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