You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘poor’ tag.

A Lost Paradise - An Old English Folktale

A Lost Paradise – An Old English Folktale

 

ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 71

 

In Issue 71 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates an old English folk tale about the poor charcoal burner and his wife who are on the brink of starving. The King takes pity on them and gives them shelter but lays down one condition. If the condition is broken they will lose all they have been given. What was the condition and was it broken? Well you’ll have to download and read the story to find out what happened.

 

eBook Link: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Anon_E_Mouse_A_LOST_PARADISE_An_Old_English_Folk_T?id=UIsQDAAAQBAJ

 

Each issue also has a “Where in the World – Look it Up” section, where young readers are challenged to look up a place on a map somewhere in the world. The place, town or city is relevant to the story, on map. HINT – use Google maps.

 

INCLUDES LINKS TO 8 FREE DOWNLOADS

 

Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children’s stories from around the world. Baba Indaba translates as “Father of Stories”.

Advertisements
In Issue 24 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the Russian tale of SALT and that of Ivan the Ninny. His father gave two great ships to Ivan’s older brothers and a small, worn-out ship with patchwork sails to Ivan and sends them across to trade. But Ivan comes back with his ship laden with treasure and a Princess on his arm, while his brothers don’t have much to show. How did Ivan do it? Well you’ll have to read the story to find out!
 
It is believed that folklore and tales are believed to have originated in India and made their way overland along the Silk and Spice routes and through Central Asia before arriving in Europe.
 
This book also has a “Where in the World – Look it Up” section, where young readers are challenged to look up a place on a map somewhere in the world. The place, town or city is relevant to the story, on map. HINT – use Google maps.
 
Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children’s stories from around the world. Baba Indaba translates as “Father of Stories”.
 
ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 24 (Digital)
 

Salat – Baba Indaba Children’s Stories

THERE was and there was not at all (of God’s best may it be!), there was a king. When the day of his death was drawing nigh, he called his son to him, and said: ‘In the day when thou goest to hunt in the east, take this coffer, but only open it when thou art in dire distress.’

 

The king died, and was buried in the manner he had wished. The prince fell into a state of grief, and would not go outside the door. At last the ministers of state came to the new king, and proposed to him that he should go out hunting. The king was delighted with the idea, and set out for the chase with his suite.

 

They went eastwards, and killed a great quantity of game. On their way home, the young monarch saw a tower near the road, and wished to know what was in it. He asked one of his viziers to go and try to find out about it. He obeyed, but first said:

 

‘I hope to return in three days, and if I do not I shall be dead.’

 

Three days passed, and the vizier did not return. The king sent a second, a third, a fourth, but not one of them came back. Then he rose and went himself. When he arrived, he saw written over the door: ‘Enter and thou wilt repent; enter not and thou wilt repent.’

 

‘I must do one or the other,’ said the king to himself, ‘so I shall go in.’

 

He opened the door and went in. Behold! there stood twelve men with drawn swords. They took his hand and led him into twelve rooms. When he was come into the twelfth, he saw a golden couch, on which was stretched a boy of eight or nine years of age. His eyes were closed, and he did not utter a word. The king was told:

 

‘Thou mayst ask him three questions, but if he does not understand and answer all of them, thou must lose thy head.’

 

The king became very sad, but at last remembered the coffer his father had given him. ‘What greater misfortune can I have than to lose my head?’ said he to himself. He took out the coffer and opened it; from it there fell out an apple, which rolled towards the couch. ‘What help can this be to me?’ said the king.

 

But the apple began to speak, and told the following tale to the boy:–‘A certain man was travelling with his wife and brother, when night fell, and they had no food. The woman’s brother-in-law went into a neighbouring village to buy bread; on the way he met brigands, who robbed him and cut off his head. When his brother did not return, the man went to look for him; he met the same fate. The next day the unhappy woman went to seek them, and there she saw her husband and brother-in-law lying in one place with their heads cut off; around was a pool of blood. The woman sat down, tore her hair, and began to weep bitterly. At that moment there jumped out a little mouse. It began to lick the blood, but the woman took a stone, threw it at the mouse, and killed it. Then the mouse’s mother came out and said: “Look at me, I can bring my child back to life, but what canst thou do for thy husband and his brother?” She pulled up an herb, applied it to the little mouse, and it was restored to life. Then they both disappeared in their hole. The woman rejoiced greatly when she saw this; she also plucked of the same herb, put the heads on the bodies, and applied it to them. Her husband and brother-in-law both came back to life, but alas! she had put the wrong heads on the bodies. Now, my sage youth! tell me, which was the woman’s husband?’ concluded the apple.

 

He opened his eyes, and said: ‘Certainly it was he who had the right head.’

 

The king was very glad.

 

‘A joiner, a tailor, and a priest were travelling together at one time,’ began the apple. ‘Night came on when they were in a wood; they lighted a huge fire, had their supper, and then said: “Do not let us be deprived of employment, each of us shall in turn watch, and do something in his trade.” The joiner’s turn came first. He cut down a tree, and out of it he fashioned a man. Then he lay down, and went to sleep, while the tailor mounted guard. When he saw the wooden man, he took off his clothes and put them on it. Last of all, the priest acted as sentinel. When he saw the man he said: “I will pray to God that He may give this man a soul.” He prayed, and his wish was granted.’

 

‘Now, my boy, canst thou tell me who made the man?’

 

‘He who gave him the soul.’

 

The king was pleased, and said to himself: ‘That is two.’ The apple again went on: ‘There were a diviner, a physician, and a swift runner. The diviner said: “There is a certain prince who is ill with such and such a disease.” The physician said: “I know a cure for it.” “I will run with it,” said the swift runner. The physician prepared the medicine, and the man ran with it. Now tell me who cured the king’s son?’ said the apple.

 

‘He who made the medicine,’ replied the boy. When he had given the three answers, the apple rolled back into the casket, and the king put it in his pocket. The boy arose, embraced the king, and kissed him: ‘Many men have been here, but I have not been able to speak before: now tell me what thou wishest, and I will do it.’ The king asked that his viziers might be restored to life, and they all went away with rich presents.

 

————————-

From Georgian Folk Tales (1894) compiled and translated by Marjory Wardrop

ISBN: 978-1-907256-12-7

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

 

Click on the URL for more info, a table of contents and to order in USD or GBP.

 

Georgian Folk Tales 1894

 

 

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.

 

————————-

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

 

 

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.”

 

————————-

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

Advertisements