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The Dragon-giant And His Stone-steed






Category: South Africa

Source: Fairy Tales From All Nations

Not one amongst the numerous wives of Vladimir the Great was
comparable in beauty to the Bulgarian Princess Milolika. Her eyes
resembled those of the falcon; the fur of the sable was not more
glossy than her eyebrows, and her breast was whiter than snow.

She had been carried off by robbers of the Volga, from the vicinity of
Boogord, the capital of her native country, and on account of her rare
beauty they deemed her worthy to be a wife of the great monarch. They
therefore conducted her to Kiev, the residence of the mighty Vladimir,
and presented her to him. Vladimir, a good judge of female charms, the
moment he beheld her, was enchanted by the surpassing beauty of the
Bulgarian princess, and in a short time his love for her became so
great that he made her his consort, and dismissed all his other
wives. The proud heart of the king's daughter was touched by this
proof of his affection, and she rewarded his tenderness with
reciprocal and true love.

The life of Vladimir was now one of great happiness. His conquests had
procured him riches in superfluity; a long period of peace had
augmented the prosperity of his country; his subjects loved him as
their father; and the tenderness of Milolika made earth seem to him as
heaven.

One day as in company with his consort and his Bojars, he sat in the
golden chamber by his oaken table, holding a festival in memory of a
victory over the Greeks, the sound of a warrior's horn was heard at a
distance. The rejoicings in the lofty hall suddenly ceased. The
monarch and the Bojars cast their eyes to the ground, full of thought
and heaviness. Swatorad alone, the spirited Voivode of Kiev, started
up from the table, and leaving his goblet undrained, approached the
great monarch. "Thou art," spake he, as he bent low before him, "thou
art our father and our lord, thou art the child of renown: wherefore
sinks thy head? Why does the sound of the warrior's horn make thy
heart heavy? Even if it be a hostile knight who now appears before
the capital, hast thou not enough brave heroes to confront any foe?
Away then! Send forth thy heralds to demand who dares to defy the
country of the Russians?"

Vladimir looked friendly upon the gallant Swatorad, and thus replied
to his address: "I thank thee for thy zeal, good Swatorad; but my
anxiety does not arise from fear. I have defeated hosts, made myself
master of fortified cities, and overthrown kings: how should I know
fear? But it was my desire henceforth to preserve to my subjects the
blessing of peace, and that alone is the cause that this challenge to
combat makes me sorrowful. If however it must be so, I will defend my
country and myself. Go and send heralds to demand who dares to come
forth against Kiev, to challenge Vladimir to battle?"

The brave Swatorad immediately sent forth two heralds, who sprang upon
their horses and rushed to the open plain, where they at once beheld a
monstrous tent, before which a horse of unusual size was grazing. As
soon as the horse perceived them, he stamped upon the ground, and
cried aloud in a human voice: "Awake powerful son of the dragon,
Tugarin awake! Kiev sends heralds to thee."

This marvel considerably astounded the heralds, and their amazement
was increased when they beheld issuing from the tent a giant of the
most monstrous kind, beneath whose footsteps the earth resounded. Yet
they did not lose their composure, but discharged their commission as
beseemed them well. "Who art thou?" cried they, after they had
courteously bent before him. "Who art thou, bold youth from a foreign
land? What is thy name, and how stands thy report in thy father-land?
Art thou a Czar, or a Czarewitsch? A king or a king's son? We are sent
by the invincible prince of Kiev, the son of renown, by Vladimir, to
ask thee why thou darest to advance against Kiev?--how thou darest to
challenge him to combat?"

The questions displeased the giant, and he fell into fierce wrath.
Lightning flashed from his eyes, his nose sent forth sparks, and he
addressed the heralds in a voice of thunder: "Contemptible wights, how
dare ye to put such questions to me? The herald's staff alone protects
you from my fury. Return, and tell your prince that I am come to fetch
his head, in order to carry it to the great king, Trewul, of Bulgaria,
who is wrath with him, for the abduction of his sister Milolika. Tell
him, that nought can save him; neither the summit of the mountain,
nor the darkness of the forest, and that he cannot redeem his head by
gold, nor by silver, by jewels, nor by pearls. What I am called, and
what my report is in my country, it needs not that you should know;
sufficient, that I show you what I can perform." At these words, he
grasped an enormous stone, which lay near the tent, and flung it with
such force into the air, that it resembled a little speck.

Full of terror, the heralds returned to Kiev, and presenting
themselves before the monarch, related what they had seen and heard.
When Milolika heard that the horse had called the stranger knight
Tugarin, Son of the Dragon, she grew pale, and a stream of tears
bedewed her cheeks. "Ah," cried she, "beloved husband, we are lost!
Nought can save us, but our flight to the sacred Bug. Tugarin is an
invincible enchanter. His magic power ceases only on the shores of the
Bug. Thither let us fly."[1]

[Footnote 1: The river Bug was especially held sacred by the
Slavonians, and its waters possessed the power to destroy all kinds of
magic.]

Vladimir endeavoured to re-assure his consort. He represented to her
that the brave warriors, and the walls of the impregnable Kiev, would
afford them sufficient protection; but Milolika was not to be
comforted. "Thou knowest not, beloved husband," said she, sobbing and
crying, "how dangerous is this giant, Tugarin, to me and my family,
and how bitterly he must hate thee, since he was my betrothed, and
awaited my hand." Vladimir besought Milolika to explain to him this
enigma, and she related the following:--

"I am the daughter of the Bulgarian king, Bogoris, and of the princess
Kuridana. My birth-place is the city Shikotin, where my parents were
wont to pass the summer months. As this city lies on the banks of the
Volga, it offers great facilities for fishing, a diversion to which my
mother was extremely partial.

"Once, when my father was fighting against a neighbouring nation, my
mother endeavoured to while away her grief at his absence by her
accustomed diversion, and caused the nets to be spread in the Volga.
The fish were very plentiful, and a great number of barks and boats
covered the river, amongst which, the vessel in which my mother was
embarked, was distinguishable by its magnificence and elegance.
Surrounded by her ladies, and her body-guard, Kuridana stood in the
centre of the vessel, and beheld with pleasure the spectacle of the
fishery, when suddenly a mountain, that was situated on the other side
of the river, burst with a tremendous crash. Every eye was directed
to the spot, and they saw issue from the aperture, a man of rude, and
terrific aspect, seated on a car of shining steel drawn by two winged
horses. He directed his course towards the river, and when he reached
the water, the steel car rolled over the waves, as if they had been
firm land. When it was perceived that he was bending his way to my
mother's bark, heralds were dispatched in a boat, to inquire why he
presumed to approach the princess without permission. But the fierce
being, who was a powerful and malignant enchanter, did not permit the
unfortunate heralds to discharge their commission. As they began to
speak, he blew upon their boat, overset it, and all who were in it
were buried beneath the waves. At this melancholy sight, my mother's
attendants seized their bows, and discharged a shower of arrows
against the intruder; but in vain, for the arrows rebounded from him,
and fell shivered into the water.

"The greatest amazement now seized all present, for they became
petrified when the magician with a single word, bound every boat, with
its crew, so that they stood motionless, whilst he, with outstretched
arms, hastened towards my mother, and endeavoured to remove her into
his car. But some unseen power crippled all his efforts. Each time he
endeavoured to seize Kuridana, his arms sank powerless, and he was, at
length, obliged to desist from the vain enterprise. He then sprang
into the bark, cast himself on his knees before her, and in the most
moving, and earnest expressions, besought her love. He promised her
all the treasures of the world, and the highest earthly happiness, if
she would reward his vehement love with reciprocal affection, or only
lay aside the talisman which she wore upon her breast. This talisman,
which now preserved her, she had received at her birth from a
beneficent enchantress, and as she well knew its force, she had drawn
it out of the case where she usually concealed it, and held it before
his eyes.

"Then the evil one trembled so violently, that at last, as if stricken
by lightning, he fell to the ground, and not until Kuridana had again
enclosed the talisman, did he recover from his insensibility. He then
sprang up, and mounted his steel car, uttering the most fearful
threats, 'Think not,' cried he, foaming with shame and rage, 'think
not to escape my hands; I will possess thee, and will force Bogoris
himself, by the most dreadful devastation of his country, to yield
thee to me. Behold, I swear by Tschernobog,[2] that I will either,
slay, or gain possession of thee. Thou shalt see me soon again,' With
these words he disappeared.

[Footnote 2: Tschernobog was the evil spirit of the Slavonians, and no
one could swear more solemnly, than by Tschernobog.]

"Kuridana then left the spot, and not believing herself secure in
Shikotin, retired to the strong city of Boogord, where she awaited, in
great anxiety, the result of this alarming adventure.

"The very next morning, appeared on the plain before the capital city,
a dreadful two-headed monster, of that dragon species which, in the
language of my country, is called Sylant. It devoured herbs, and
flocks, and men, and devastated the surrounding country with its
poisonous breath. In a short time, the region round Boogord became a
desert, and many brave warriors, who sought to free their country of
this demon, fell victims to their patriotism and valour. The Sylant
appeared each morning before the walls, and bellowed out with a
fearful voice,: 'Bogoris, give me Kuridana, or I will make thy country
a desert!'

"No sooner did my father hear of the misfortune which menaced his
people, and his beloved Kuridana, than he left his career of victory,
and hastened to the capital. What were his feelings when he beheld
the misery which the monster had spread over his land! But greater
bitterness still awaited him, for when the first tempest of joy and
grief, which his return had excited in the hearts of all, and
especially in that of Kuridana, had subsided, this noble-minded
princess proposed herself as a willing sacrifice for the king, and the
good Bulgarians. 'No!' cried Bogoris, 'sooner will I perish, than lose
thee. I will combat the Dragon. Perhaps the Gods will grant me
victory, and if I am vanquished in the fight, at least I shall die for
thee, and for my country,' The most generous dispute now arose between
the magnanimous pair, and finally they agreed to appeal to the
decision of the magnates of the empire, who should decide the dispute.

"The king assembled them, and when they had heard Kuridana's
resolution, they loaded her with panegyrics, and expressions of
gratitude. 'Thy magnanimous sacrifice alone, Kuridana,' said the
eldest of the assembly, an aged man, of a hundred years, 'can rescue
us and Bulgaria. For, supposing that Bogoris were to fight with the
Sylant, and fall, would not our misfortune be greater still? No,
Prince! thou must preserve thyself for thy people, in order to heal
the wounds which the Dragon has inflicted. Kuridana alone can save
us.' All the magnates coincided with the old man, and Bogoris was in
despair.

"It was morning, and the dreadful words: 'Bogoris, give me thy wife!'
at that moment resounded round the palace. Kuridana courageously
arose, embraced her speechless husband, and bade him an eternal
farewell.

"At the words 'for ever,' Bogoris sank senseless on the ground.
Manly as his heart had been up to that hour, it could not endure
separation from the beloved Kuridana. The high-minded wife bedewed him
with her tears, but at length, turning to the nobles, who stood round
her weeping, she said: 'Lead me where you will. I am prepared to
endure everything for my husband and my country,' They now
reverentially supported her trembling steps, and conducted her as
rapidly as her weak state permitted, to the front of the city.

"Meanwhile the altars smoked with incense, and both priests and people
supplicated for the deliverance of their noble princess.

"Shortly after the magnates had left the palace with Kuridana, Bogoris
came to himself, and when he perceived that he was alone, he guessed
his misfortune, and his despair knew no bounds. He drew his sword,
and was in the act of piercing his breast with it, in order not to
survive Kuridana, when a matron of beautiful and majestic aspect stood
before him, staid his hand, and thus addressed him:

"'What, Bogoris! Dost thou despair?--Be tranquil; the Sylant has no
power to harm Kuridana. The talisman which she wears on her breast,
will, at all times, and under all circumstances, mock his power. I am
the enchantress Dobrada, the protectress of thy wife, she who, as thou
knewest, hung the talisman around her immediately on her birth. But it
is not now requisite that I should reveal to thee the causes which
induced me to provide her with that shield against danger. Enough,
that I foresaw at her birth that she would have much to fear from the
love of a powerful sorcerer, called Sarragur. And because I am ever
willing to do all the good I can, I hung around her this talisman,
which protects her from his utmost power, and will now defend her from
the Sylant, who is no other than Sarragur himself. For, when he
perceived that I was opposed to his passion, and had taken Kuridana
under my protection, he sought to avenge himself on me, by every kind
of secret mischief, so that I was at length obliged to chastise him.
By my superior power, I enclosed him within a mountain by the Volga,
and bound his fate by the most awful spell, which even Tschernobog
respects, to a golden fish, which I sank in the depths of the Volga.
By this spell, Sarragur was to remain in his subterranean prison until
some mortal should draw up the golden fish; and should he ever thus
obtain his freedom, he could then never transform himself into an evil
and noxious animal, except on the condition that he should never again
resume his own form, and should perish shortly after the
transformation. It chanced that a sturgeon swallowed the golden fish,
and this sturgeon was caught on the very day when Kuridana was
diverting herself with the fishery. Sarragur thus became free, and the
first use he made of his freedom was to endeavour to carry off
Kuridana, whom he still loved with unabated passion.

"'When this attempt was baffled by the power of the talisman, and
still more, when he perceived Kuridana's aversion for him, he became
furious, and transformed himself into the Sylant, although he knew
what must be the consequences. Madman, his hour is come, and thou,
Bogoris, art destined to destroy him. Receive from my hands the sword
of the renowned Egyptian king, Sesostris. It possesses the wonderful
power of destroying every spell, and with it thou wilt overpower the
sorcerer, though he should summon all the powers of hell to succour
him. Only, mark what I am now about to say. In order to extirpate
Sarragur, and every remembrance of him from the earth, thou must cut
off both the heads of the Sylant by one stroke. If thou succeed not in
doing this, and hewest off but one head, the sorcerer, it is true,
will lose his life, but he will escape to his cavern, where, before he
expires, he will lay an egg, in which will be enclosed all his magic
power, and from the head hewn off, will arise a horse of stone, which
shall receive life at the moment the bad spirits shall have hatched
the egg, and from this egg will issue the giant Tugarin, who, one day,
will be formidable to thy children. For, not only will he inherit from
his father the entire power to work evil, whereby so much misery has
befallen thee and thy land, but he will also love thy daughter as
fiercely as Sarragur loves thy wife. Thy son Trewul will refuse him
his sister's hand, and then he will desolate the country, until
Milolika's hand is promised to him. He also is to be conquered by no
other weapon than the sword of the wise Sesostris, and a knight who
shall live without having been born, is destined to slay him. After
thy victory over the Sylant, hang up the sword in thy armoury amongst
the other swords there, and at the appointed time fate will give it
into the hands destined wield it. Of that which I have now told thee,
reveal not a word, except to thy wife, and she may hereafter repeat it
to her daughter.'

"Having uttered these words, Dobrada shrouded herself in a
rose-coloured cloud, and disappeared. Heavenly perfumes filled the
chamber, and Bogoris felt that all sorrow had vanished from his soul.
Hastily he vaulted on his horse, and rushed to deliver his wife and
his country from the fell sorcerer.

"When he reached the plain, he beheld the efforts of the Sylant to
grasp Kuridana, and how he was impeded by the talisman, from coming
close to her. Bogoris immediately unsheathed his sword, and flew upon
the monster. When the Sylant perceived his antagonist, he sent forth
fire streams from both his jaws, which, however, were rendered
innocuous by the sword of Sesostris. In order to bring the combat to a
speedy conclusion, Bogoris aimed a powerful stroke at the heads of the
monster, which would assuredly have separated both from the trunk, and
so have extirpated the sorcerer and all remembrance of him from the
earth, if the Sylant, at the very moment the stroke fell, had not
soared into the air. By this movement, he saved one head. The other
rolled on the ground, and immediately became stone. Awfully bellowing,
the impure being flew to his cavern. Bogoris pursued, but in vain; the
Sylant disappeared in the mountain by the Volga, which immediately
closed on him.



"My father regretted that he had not succeeded in entirely
annihilating the sorcerer and all his brood; but joy at having
delivered his beloved wife and his country, soon prevailed over
sorrow. He committed the future to the Gods, and after he had revealed
to my mother the predictions of the good enchantress, he hung up the
sword of Sesostris in his armoury.

"My parents passed the remainder of their lives in uninterrupted peace
and content. When I was grown up, my mother related to me her history,
and at the same time revealed to me what awaited me through the giant
Tugarin. She then hung round me the talisman which she had received
from Dobrada. Shortly after this both my parents died. After their
death I lived several years with my brother in undisturbed
tranquillity, till one day the report arose of a wonderful phenomenon
of nature, which was to be seen in the vicinity of the capital. The
king, my brother, went thither, and I accompanied him. They showed us
a stone which daily increased in size, and was assuming the form of an
enormous horse. Everybody marvelled at this sport of Nature, as they
called it; but I remembered Dobrada's predictions, and doubted not
that the hour of Tugarin's birth, and of my misfortunes, was arrived.
Whilst I was still thinking on it, we were alarmed by an earthquake.
The neighbouring Sylant Mount,--for from the time the Sylant had
escaped thither, it had borne that name,--opened, and a giant of
monstrous size stepped forth. He strode across the Volga, and went
straight to the stone horse. The moment he laid his hand on it, it
became animated. The giant sprang upon it, and dashed towards me. He
tried to seize me, but quickly drew back his robber hands, as if they
had been burnt. The power of the talisman withstood him. He then
turned towards my brother, and cried out in dreadful tones:--'Hear,
Trewul! I see that thy sister cannot be carried off by force, and
therefore I require of thee to persuade her to give me her hand
voluntarily. I give thee three days for consideration, and when they
are expired, I either receive Milolika from thy hands, or I make thy
country desolate.' After these terrible words he departed on his
colossal steed, with the rapidity of lightning.

"We returned heavy-hearted to the city, where my brother immediately
assembled the council, and laid before it the giant's demand, and his
threats. The counsellors were unanimously of opinion, that, as the
princess was averse to giving her hand to the giant, an army must be
sent against him, of sufficient force to set his menaces at nought.
Ten thousand archers, and two thousand horsemen, in armour, were
hastily collected, and on the dawn of the third day, were drawn out
on the plain before the city, to await the giant. Tugarin soon
appeared, and the Bulgarians at once discharged their arrows and darts
at him, but they proved as powerless against him as formerly against
his father. They rebounded from him as from a rock. At this attack,
the giant broke forth with mingled rage and scorn:--'What,' bellowed
he, 'does Trewul send troops against me? Must I then become his enemy?
Woe to the helpless being!' And without further delay, he seized the
horsemen and archers by the dozen, and swallowed them a dozen at a
time, till not a man was left.

"He then began to lay waste and destroy everything round the city. Men
and cattle were all engulfed in the monster's insatiable maw. He
shattered the dwellings of the inhabitants with his gigantic fists.
Whole forests were uprooted by him, and the hoofs of his enormous
horse trod down fields and meadows. At length my brother, in order to
put a stop to the universal misery, resolved to sacrifice me. With
bitter tears he announced to me that he knew no other means of saving
himself and his country from destruction, than to promise my hand to
the giant. I replied to him only by my tears, and he reluctantly sent
an embassy to invite Tugarin to Boogord. He came. Proudly he advanced
to the gate where Trewul and the nobles of the land awaited him. I was
in despair. At length I bethought me of a means of escape. I agreed to
bestow my hand on the giant, on condition that, through some
beneficent power, he should first obtain the form and stature of an
ordinary man. I trusted that this would not easily be done, and in the
mean time I might be able to effect my escape. Tugarin, blinded by his
love for me, did not hesitate to accept the condition, and swore by
Tschernobog, that he would not require me to be delivered to him until
my requisition was satisfied. He established himself in Boogord, and
served my brother with great zeal. I soon found an opportunity of
making my escape, and wandering a whole day without food, was at last
taken by the robbers of the Volga, and brought to thy court.

"You will now, my beloved husband," said Milolika, as she concluded
her narration, "easily comprehend the danger which threatens you.
Tugarin must hate thee, since thou art my husband. His power is great,
and no one can vanquish him, except the knight who came unborn into
the world, and no weapon can slay him, but the sword of the wise
Sesostris. Thou and all thy brave heroes are powerless against him.
Therefore, dear husband, let us flee. On the banks of the sacred Bug
we shall be safe; no magic can operate there."

This narration made the deepest impression on the heart of the prince;
he could not, however, resolve to abandon his country in the hour of
need, and besides, to fly before a single warrior, great as he might
be, seemed still not a very honourable proceeding. "What!" exclaimed
he, "shall the monarch before whom the East trembles, whose courage
the whole world admires, shall he shrink in the moment of
danger,--shall he, with all his might, flee before a single foe? No:
sooner a hundred times will I die the most cruel death!" But with all
this how was he to comfort Milolika? How was he to withstand the
dreadful giant, seeing that he had not, unborn, beheld the light,
neither did he possess the sword of the Egyptian king Sesostris? These
difficulties weighed upon his soul. The first, however, he soon
disposed of. He bethought himself that the lime with which the walls
of Kiev were constructed, had been tempered with water from the sacred
Bug, and consequently would prevent the giant from entering the city.
This sufficed to tranquillise Milolika, who no longer insisted on
flight, as she perceived that her beloved Vladimir was just as secure
in Kiev, as he would be on the shores of the Bug. As far as she
herself was concerned, the giant could avail nothing, since the power
of the talisman would shield her from every danger. But still the
thought of the combat with this giant, greatly disturbed the prince.
"Where," said he, "is the unborn mortal who is destined, with the
sword of Sesostris, to destroy the fell Tugarin?"

Lo! suddenly a knight of bold and noble aspect, armed with a costly
sword, and cased in shining armour, but without shield or lance, rode
at full speed into the court of the palace. He sprang from his
spirited steed, and gave him to his lusty squire. Then he proudly
advanced up the steps, to the golden chamber of the great monarch, and
addressed Vladimir as follows:--"My name is Dobruna Mikilitsch, and I
come to serve thee."

"Thou art welcome," replied Vladimir, "but how is it possible that
thou hast escaped the giant Tugarin, who holds the road to Kiev in
blockade?"

"Tugarin!" rejoined the knight, "I fear him!--already would I have
laid his great head at thy feet, but that I desired to achieve that
deed in thy presence."

The monarch marvelled at the boldness of the stranger-youth, and
inquired if he seriously intended to combat the giant.

"Assuredly," said Dobruna, "and with that object am I come to Kiev."

"But knowest thou not, that none can vanquish the giant, except only a
knight who came into the world unborn?"

"I know it," replied Dobruna, "and that knight am I!"

"Hast thou, then, the sword of Sesostris?"

"Behold it," said Dobruna, as he drew the sword from its scabbard,
"and if thou wilt permit me, mighty prince, to relate to thee my
history, thou wilt know that it is I who am appointed by destiny to
rid the earth of the monster Tugarin."

The monarch joyfully granted him permission, and Dobruna thus
commenced:--

"It is true that I had both a father and a mother, but not the less
did I behold the light of the world without going through the process
of being born. Shortly before my mother would have brought me forth,
she was slain by robbers, during a journey she was making with my
father, to visit a relation. My father being also killed, I must
doubtless have perished, if the beneficent enchantress Dobrada, who
was just then passing by, had not rescued me, and taken me under her
protection. She carried me to the beautiful island, in the ocean,
where she usually dwells, and brought me up with the greatest care.
She nourished me with the milk of a lioness, bathed me several times a
day in the waves of the ocean, and inured me by day and night to
labour and privation. This mode of education rendered my body so
strong, that in my tenth year, I was already able to tear up the
strongest trees by the root. Six ancient men instructed me in all the
six-and-twenty known languages, and in arms, wherein I made such
progress, that in my fifteenth year I was able to parry at once all
the six swords of my teachers. Dobrada recompensed me for my diligence
with the shining armour I now wear, which possesses the virtue of
protecting my body from every danger.

"Shortly after that time, the enchantress whom I loved and honoured as
a mother, thus addressed me:--'Dobruna Mikilitsch, thy education is
completed, and it is time that in foreign lands thou shouldst by
knightly deeds acquire renown and honour. Go forth: thou art destined
for great things. It is not permitted to me to reveal all the future
to thee; but thus much thou mayst know: thou wilt obtain possession of
the wondrous sword of the wise Sesostris of Egypt. As soon as thou
approachest it, the sword thou now wearest will fall of itself to the
earth, and that of Sesostris will become agitated. Take possession of
it in peace, for thou wilt require it, for a great service thou must
render to him in whose armoury thou wilt find it; for with it thou
wilt destroy a mighty sorcerer and giant, who has worked him much woe.
Whatever else thou mayst require during thy travels,' continued she,
'this ring will supply. Thou hast but to turn it three times on thy
finger, in order to see every reasonable wish fulfilled.'

"She then bade me enter a boat into which she followed me. The boat
shot through the waves like an arrow, and I presently sank into a
profound sleep. How long our journey was I know not; for when I awoke
I found myself alone on a vast plain, not far from a large city. But
Dobrada could not have long quitted me, for the heavenly perfumes
which ordinarily surrounded her, yet floated round me, and far in the
eastern horizon I saw the rose-coloured cloud which always shrouded
her. My soul was now filled with sadness at the thought that I was
now separated from the wise and kind Dobrada, whom I loved as my
mother.

"At length I regained my composure. I wished that I had a horse and
squire that I might ride into the city that lay near me, and as at the
same time I accidentally turned on my finger three times the ring,
whose virtue I scarcely recollected, I saw at once before me a squire
with two horses, of which I selected the finest and the most richly
adorned for myself, and left the other for my squire; and thus I rode
into the city.

"At the gate I was informed that the city was called Boogord, and was
the capital of the Bulgarian empire. Trewul reigned in Boogord, and
the giant Tugarin was at his court. The king had been obliged to
promise him the hand of his sister, in order to avert the total ruin
of his country, which the giant had devastated until Trewul had
acceded to his desire. When I appeared in the king's presence, I made
a very favourable impression on him, and he not only received me into
his service, but made me keeper of the armoury, the first dignity at
the Bulgarian court.

"From the first moment that Tugarin beheld me, he manifested the
bitterest hate towards me; and when I heard what evil he had brought
on Trewul and his land, I doubted not that he was the sorcerer and
giant I was destined to overthrow. But the sword of Sesostris was
still wanting to me. It was however not long before this invaluable
weapon came into my possession.

"I entered the royal armoury in order to inspect the weapons entrusted
to my care, and I had scarcely crossed the threshold when the sword I
wore fell to the ground, and amongst the numerous others that hung
there, I observed one moving to and fro. I could not doubt that this
was the wonderful sword of the Egyptian king with which I was to slay
the giant. I took possession of it with the greater confidence, from
the knowledge that by its aid I should rid Trewul of so dangerous an
enemy to himself and his family. I girded it upon me, and hung mine in
its place.

"From that moment the giant avoided me, knowing most likely by his
magic art that I was in possession of the sword that was to be fatal
to him, and ere long he disappeared from Boogord, telling the king he
was going in search of Milolika.

"I immediately took leave of the king, and set out in pursuit of the
giant. I gained information on my way that he had gone to Kiev, where
Milolika resided as thy wife. I hastened after him, and am come, as I
see, at the right moment to prevent misfortune. I now await thy
permission, mighty prince, to engage in combat thy enemy and mine."

As he concluded Dobruna bent one knee before the monarch, who rose
from his seat, and taking the golden chain from his own neck, threw it
round the knight's with the following words: "Let this mark of my
favour prove to thee, Dobruna Mikilitsch, how greatly I rejoice to
have so brave a knight in my service. To-morrow thou shalt engage the
giant, and I doubt not that thou wilt conquer." He then commanded that
an apartment should be prepared for him in the palace, and all due
honour be paid to him. Dobruna returned thanks to the monarch for the
favours shown him, and took leave in order to repose after his
journey, and to gather strength for the approaching fight.

In the mean time the heralds by Vladimir's command went round the
city, and summoned the people to assemble on the walls the following
morning, to witness the combat between the knight and the sorcerer,
and the priests offered up solemn sacrifices to implore blessings on
Kiev and the knight against the malignant sorcerer and the powers
which aided him.

Scarcely had the purple-tinted Simzerla[3] spread her glowing mantle
over the sky, and decked the path of the great light of the world with
her thousand coloured rays, before the vast population of Kiev
impatiently thronged to the walls in order not to delay the grand
spectacle. The monarch attended by his consort and all the magnates of
the empire, ascended a tribunal which had been hastily erected over
the principal gate of the city for this great event.

[Footnote 3: Simzerla was the Aurora of the Slavonians.]

The clangor of trumpets and horns at length announced the arrival of
the knight. Ten thousand corsletted warriors rode with uplifted lances
before him, and drew up in two lines before the gate. After them, on a
richly caparisoned charger, rode the knight in his shining armour,
bearing in his hand the precious sword of Sesostris. The people
welcomed him with a cry of joy, and the warriors clashed their arms as
he appeared before the gate. With noble bearing and knightly aspect he
turned his horse and saluted the monarch by thrice lowering his sword.
"Great ruler of Russia," he began, "at thy command I go forth to fight
the sorcerer and giant Tugarin, who has presumed to challenge thee to
combat." "Go forth," replied Vladimir, "go forth, valiant youth, and
fight in my name the vile sorcerer: may the Gods give thee victory!"
Dobruna then dashed at full speed through the lines of warriors to the
white tent, followed by the acclamations and the blessings of the
spectators.

The giant, who had been awakened by the unusual noise of the trumpets
and horns, and the joyful cries of the people, had already mounted his
horse, and was in the act of riding towards the city to ascertain the
cause, when he beheld the knight approaching. When he recognised in
him the dreaded keeper of the Bulgarian monarch's armoury, who was in
possession of the wonderful sword, he set up a fearful yell. Foaming
with rage he rushed with out-spread arms against the knight to grasp
him; but Dobruna laughed at his impotent fury, and in order better to
overcome him, he first touched with his sword the enchanted horse,
which immediately crumbled into dust. He then caused the
magic-destroying weapon of the wise Sesostris to gleam over the head
of the sorcerer, who, by the sudden crumbling of his horse, had fallen
to the earth. Tugarin's destruction seemed inevitable, and the
beholders from the walls already shouted forth their plaudits to the
victor, when at once all the powers of hell broke forth to aid
their beloved son. A stream of fire crackled between the combatants,
fiery serpents hissed around the knight, and a thick cloud of smoke
enveloped the giant. But short was this infernal display. Dobruna
touched the stream with his sword, made a few strokes with it in the
air, and the fiery flood and the hissing serpents vanished. He then
approached the smoke which concealed the giant, but scarcely had he
thrust his sword into it, when like the enchantments that also
disappeared. The giant was seen outstretched on the ground, and heard
to roar with terror. No sooner did he perceive that the smoke which
concealed him had vanished, than he sprang up and rushed, as if in
madness, on the knight. Dobruna awaited him unmoved, and as the giant
stretched forth his monstrous hands for the second time to seize him,
he cut them both off with a single stroke. The second stroke of that
wondrous sword, wielded by the strong hand of the knight, severed the
vile head from the shoulders. The colossus fell, and the earth shook
beneath his weight.



Then the people lifted up a cry of joy. A hundred thousand voices
shouted, "Long live our monarch, and the conqueror of the giant,
Dobruna Mikilitsch!"

The knight, who had dismounted to raise the fallen enemy's head on
the point of his sword in sign of victory, was about to remount in
order to give the monarch an account of his combat, when he beheld him
coming towards him, accompanied by his consort and the magnates of the
empire. The courteous knight hastened forward and laid the giant's
head at his feet. The great prince embraced him in presence of the
assembled people, and placed on his finger a gold ring, whilst
Milolika hung around him a gold-embroidered scarf. Dobruna bent his
knee and thanked the royal pair in graceful and courteous words for
these marks of favour. They then all returned full of joy to the city,
where the festivities and rejoicings in honour of the knight lasted
many weeks.

Vladimir also despatched messengers to his brother-in-law, Trewul, to
inform him of his marriage with the beautiful Milolika, and the
overthrow of their common enemy, the giant Tugarin. Dobruna however
remained at the court of Vladimir, and performed many more great and
valiant deeds, which procured him great fame and honour, and rendered
great service to the monarch, and he became the most beloved and most
esteemed, both by prince and people, of all the knights in Vladimir's
court.




THE STORY OF SIVA AND MADHAVA.




There still exists a town famed for its splendour and richness, called
Ratnapura. In it there once dwelt two rogues, Siva and Madhava, who,
with the help of their confederates, contrived to make both rich and
poor of that place victims to their cunning and rapacity.

Once these two individuals met together to consult. "This town," they
said, "has so entirely been laid under contribution by us, that we can
have no reasonable hopes of any further success; let us, therefore, go
to Ujjayini, and settle ourselves down there. The house-priest of the
king, Sankar'aswarni by name, is considered a very rich man, and if,
by some contrivance, we could possess ourselves of his treasures, it
would be easy to curry favour with the charming and lovely women of
the Malavese. The Brahmins, without exception, call him avaricious and
miserly, for, though so rich that he measures his treasures by the
bushel, he begrudges every offering to their altars, and it is only on
compulsion he gives a portion of the dues. It is also well known that
he has a remarkably beautiful daughter, whom, if we once are able to
gain his confidence, one of us must receive as a wife from his own
hands."

After this, these two rogues, Siva and Madhava, having first matured
their plans and resolved upon the parts each individually was to play,
took their departure from the city of Ratnapura and soon arrived at
Ujjayini.

Madhava, disguised as a Rajput, remained with his followers in a small
village outside the city; but Siva, more versed in all the arts of
deceit, entered the town alone, garbed in the habit of a devout
penitent. He built a cell on an elevated place on the banks of the
Sipra, from whence he could be well observed, and here he laid on the
ground a deer-skin, a pot wherein to collect alms, some darbha-grass,
and some clay.

At the first dawn of morning he rubbed his whole body over with clay;
he then entered the river, and remained with his head for a
considerable time under the water; leaving the bath, he steadfastly
fixed his gaze on the sun, then, holding in his hand some kusa-grass,
he knelt before the image of a god, murmuring his prayers; he then
plucked holy flowers, which he sacrificed to Siva, and when his
offering was concluded he again began to pray, and remained long lost
in deepest devotion.

On the following day, in order to gather alms, he wandered through the
town, mute, as if dumb, leaning on a staff, and his only raiment
consisting of the small skin of a black gazelle. After having made his
collections at the houses of the Brahmins, he divided the gifts
received into three parts; the first he gave to the crows, the second
to the first person he met, and with the third he fed himself; then
slowly counting the beads of his rosary, with constant and fervent
prayers, he returned to his cell. The nights he devoted, apparently,
to deepest meditation, and to the solution of great religious and
philosophical questions.

Thus, by daily repeating these deceptions, he impressed on the
inhabitants so great an idea of his sanctity that he was universally
revered; and, when he passed, the people of Ujjayini reverentially
bowed and knelt before him, exclaiming, "This is, indeed, a holy
man!"

Meanwhile, his friend Madhava had, through his spies, received
intelligence of all these doings, and now, magnificently dressed like
a Rajput he also entered the city. He took up his abode in an adjacent
temple, and went to the banks of the Sipra to bathe in the river.
After having performed his ablutions, Madhava saw Siva, who, lost in
prayer, knelt before the image of the god. The former then, along with
his retinue, prostrated himself in reverence before the holy man; and
addressing the people around him, said, "There lives not on earth a
more devout penitent; more than once in my travels have I seen him,
when, as here, he has been visiting the sacred rivers and the holy
places of pilgrimage."

Though Siva had well observed and heard his companion, no feature
betrayed the fact; immoveably as before, he continued in his devotion.
Madhava soon after returned to his dwelling.

In the depth of night in a lonely place they again met, where, after
having well feasted, they consulted together upon their next
proceedings. At the dawn of morning Siva returned to his cell, and
Madhava commanded one of his companions at an early hour of the day as
follows: "Take these two robes of honour and present them to
Sankar'aswarni, the house-priest of the king, and address him
thus:--'A Rajput named Madhava, treacherously assaulted, and by his
nearest relations driven from his empire, has, with the vast treasures
of his father, taken refuge in these realms, and is anxious to present
himself before the king and offer him the faithful and gratuitous
services of himself and his brave followers. He has therefore sent me
to thee, thou ocean of fame, to beg thy permission to visit him.'" As
Madhava had commanded him, the follower, holding the robes of honour
in his hands, waited at the house of the priest. Watching a favourable
opportunity when the priest was alone, he presented himself before
him, laid the presents at his feet, and delivered Madhava's message.
The priest, full of dignity, received them condescendingly, and
longing for some of the treasures to which the messenger had made no
slight allusions, he graciously acquiesced in the demand.

Madhava consequently went the following day at a proper hour to visit
the priest, accompanied by his followers, dressed like courtiers, in
magnificent robes, and with silver spears in their hands. A messenger
was sent in advance to announce them, and the priest receiving them
at the entrance of his house, most reverentially saluted them, and
gave them the very best welcome. Madhava after having passed a short
time in pleasant conversation, and made a favourable impression on the
priest, returned to his own dwelling.

The following day he again sent two robes of honour, and then
presented himself to the priest, saying: "We are anxious as early as
possible to enter the service of the king, for time hangs heavily on
our hands; let our sole recompense be the honour of attending him, for
we have sufficient treasures for all our wants."

When the priest had heard this, hoping to extract large sums from him,
he granted his request, and immediately went to the king, who, out of
esteem and love for his religious adviser, at once permitted the
introduction of the Rajput at court.

On the following day the priest formally introduced Madhava and his
followers to the king, who graciously, and with honours received them,
and at once appointed the former to fill a high station in the
household, for he was greatly pleased with his appearance, which in
everything resembled that of a high-born Rajput. Thus was Madhava
fairly installed at court, but every night he went secretly to Siva,
to consult with him about their plans. Once the avaricious priest
said to Madhava, who with his rich presents had shown him marked
attention: "Come and live in my house," and as he pressed him very
much, Madhava and his followers removed to the spacious dwelling of
the priest.

Madhava had procured a great quantity of ornaments and trinkets set
with false stones, wondrously well imitated; these he had inclosed in
a jewel-box, which, slightly opening it that the priest might learn
its contents, he begged him to deposit in his treasury. By this
artifice he entirely won his confidence, and being thus secure, he
feigned illness, and by abstaining for several days from taking any
food, at last grew so thin and emaciated, that he had every appearance
of being in a very alarming state of health. A few more days thus
passed away, and the illness seemed to make rapid progress, when in a
faint voice he thus addressed the priest, who was sitting at the side
of his bed: "The malady which is devouring my strength and energies
seems a retribution from the Gods for some of the sins my flesh has
committed; bring therefore to me, O wise and pious man, some
distinguished Brahmin to whom I may bequeath my treasures to insure my
salvation here and there; for what man, even of ordinary wisdom
would, when life is ebbing, set value on gold or jewels!"

Whereupon the priest answered: "I will do as thou wishest."

Out of gratitude, Madhava knelt down and kissed his feet. But whatever
Brahmin the priest brought to the sick man, not one pleased him; he
said an inward voice told him that their life was not pure enough,
their favour with Brahma not sufficient. When this had been several
times repeated, with the same result, one of the rogues, who was
standing by, suggested in a low tone of voice, "As not one of all
these Brahmins seems worthy of the benefits intended to be conferred;
the holy priest, Siva, so celebrated for his sanctity, who dwells on
the shores of the Sipra, might be sent for: perhaps he might find
favour with our master."

Madhava when appealed to, sighed heavily, and as if unable in his
agony to articulate, bowed his head by way of consent. The priest
forthwith rose and went to Siva, whom he found absorbed in deepest
meditation. After having walked round him without being observed, he
at last placed himself on the ground facing him. The impostor having
finished his long-protracted prayers, raised his eyes, when the
priest reverentially saluted him, and said: "Most holy man, if thou
wouldst permit me, I have a petition to make to thee; there lives at
my house a very rich Rajput, by name, Madhava, born in the south, and
lately arrived from thence. He is dying, and wishes for some holy
individual to whom he may give his riches; if it should please thee, I
think it is for thee he intends all his treasures, which consist in
ornaments and jewels of inestimable value."

Siva having attentively listened to this, thoughtfully and slowly
answered: "Brahmin, how should I, whose whole earthly striving and
longing is after immortal reward; whose only aspiration is heaven,
there to have my prayers and my privations recognised and approved;
whose meagre maintenance is derived from alms of the charitable; how
should I feel any wish or desire for earthly possessions?"

Whereupon the king's priest answered: "Say not so, noble and pious
man! Well you know the pleasure of the God towards the Brahmin-priest,
who in his own person is able to offer hospitality to the Gods and to
man; who within his own house can welcome and relieve the devout
pilgrim; who with rich contributions can assist in the embellishments
of their temples and the splendour of their service, and who by
taking a wife can extend his sphere of utility and philanthropy. Only
by the possession of treasures these things are achievable, therefore
it is laudable in man to strive after wealth. The father of a family
is the best of Brahmins."

To which Siva answered: "Whence should I take a wife? My poverty
prevents my alliance with any great family."

When the priest heard this he thought the treasures already his own,
and having found a favourable opportunity, he said to him: "I have an
unmarried daughter, her name is Vinyasvamini; she is most beautiful;
her I will give thee to wife. The treasure that will be thine through
the generosity of Madhava, I will guard and preserve for thee; choose,
therefore, the pleasures and the bliss of the married state."

Siva attentively and with inward pleasure listened to the words of the
priest, in which he saw their deep-laid scheme and their anxious
wishes brought into fulfilment, and with diffidence he answered:
"Brahmin, if by so doing I shall be able to please you and gain your
favour, I consent to it; and as regards the treasure, to you I leave
the whole and sole control and management thereof, as neither my
understanding nor inclination lies in that direction."

Rejoiced at this answer of Siva, the priest forthwith took him into
his house, assigned him a suite of apartments there, and announced to
Madhava his arrival and what he had done, for which the latter warmly
thanked him. Next the priest gave his unhappy daughter in marriage to
Siva, thus sacrificing her to his avarice; and on the third day after
the nuptials he led the bridegroom to Madhava, who now assumed a
faintness as if in the last gasp of dissolution. After a pause,
apparently rallying all his strength, he said: "In deepest humiliation
I salute thee, most holy man, and beg of thee to accept, as I am dying
and shall have no use for it, all that I possess of earthly wealth."
He then had the artfully imitated jewels brought from the priest's
treasury, and according to the sacred rites and customs on such
occasions, had them presented to Siva. The latter, in accepting them,
handed them over to the priest without even looking at them, saying,
"Of such things I understand nothing, but you know their value."

"I will take care of them, as agreed between us," answered the priest;
and again deposited the supposed treasure in its former place of
security. Siva, after having in solemn words pronounced his blessing
over Madhava, returned to the apartments of his wife.

The following day Madhava seemed already greatly recovered, and
ascribed this wonderful change to the influence of his gift and the
holiness of the man on whom he had bestowed it. In warmest terms, he
thanked the priest for his kind interference, and assured him of his
everlasting gratitude. With Siva he now openly allied himself,
praising him every where, and declaring that through his great powers
alone his life had been preserved.

After the lapse of a few days Siva said to the priest, "It is not
right that I thus should continue to live in thy house where I must be
of vast expense to thee; thou hadst better give me a sum, if only
corresponding with half the value of the gems, which you consider so
precious."

The priest, who in reality priced these jewels and ornaments at an
inestimable sum, a sum capable of purchasing an empire, was very glad
to assent to such a proposition; and with the idea of giving something
like the twentieth part of their value, he gave him all the money he
possessed. He then had documents drawn out, in which on both sides the
exchange of the properties was legally secured, for fear that Siva in
the course of time might repent of his bargain. They then separated,
Siva and his wife living in greatest joy and happiness, and soon they
were joined by Madhava, with whom the former now divided the treasures
of the priest.

After some years the priest wanted money to make some purchase, and
taking a part of the ornaments, he went to a goldsmith who had a stand
in the market to offer them for sale. This man, who was a great judge,
after narrowly examining them, cried out, full of astonishment--"The
man who has manufactured these must indeed be a great artisan; for
though of no intrinsic value, they are the finest and most wonderful
imitations that ever were worked out of such materials; for these
stones are nothing but glass, and the setting nothing but gilt metal."

Having heard this, the priest, breathless though full of despair, ran
back to his house, fetched the contents of the whole casket, and,
unwilling to believe, went from one merchant to the other to have his
treasure examined; but in every instance the answer was the
same--"Only glass and brass!" The priest, as if he had been struck by
lightning, fell senseless on the ground, and had to be carried home;
but early the following morning having recovered, he ran to Siva and
said to him, "Take back thy jewels, and return me my money."

This the other refused, alleging that the greater part of it had
already been expended, and the rest he had so invested as to be most
useful for his wife and children.

Thus disputing they both went before the king, on whom Madhava at the
time was in attendance. The priest in the following words made the
king acquainted with his case: "Behold, my gracious king, these
ornaments; they are all artfully manufactured out of valueless metal,
coloured pieces of glass and crystal. Without knowing this, and
believing them real, I have given Siva my whole fortune in exchange
for them, and he already has spent it."

To which Siva answered: "From my very childhood, mighty king, have I
lived in holy seclusion and devotion; from this seclusion the father
of my wife drew me forth, pressed and entreated me to accept the gift
of honour, with the value of which I was wholly ignorant; but he
assured me he was aware of its great pecuniary worth, and he would
guarantee it to me. On my accepting it, without even giving it a look,
I handed it over to him: he afterwards voluntarily purchased it from
me, giving me his own price, and in proof of this I adduce this
contract in his own handwriting: now, mighty ruler, judge between us;
I have in truth laid the case fairly before you."

Siva having thus concluded his defence, Madhava addressed himself to
the priest, saying: "Speak not derogatorily of this holy man, now your
son. Whatever the cause of your grievance, he is innocent, as you
yourself are good and upright; but I also owe an explanation to my
liege and master. In what way can I have committed myself?--neither
from you nor him have I taken or accepted the least benefit. The
fortune my father left me I had for years given into the custody of an
old and tried friend of our house; removing it from thence I presented
it, under the circumstances your majesty is aware of, to this Brahmin.
But if they had not been real gems, but only worthless metal and glass
as this worthy priest intimates, by what means was my restoration to
health so wonderfully wrought? That I gave it with pure and honest
intention, witness for me the all but miracle by which I was saved!"

Thus spoke Madhava without changing a feature; but the king and his
ministers laughed, and testified the good opinion they entertained for
him. They then pronounced the following judgment:--"Neither Siva nor
Madhava are in the least to blame, they are wholly innocent."

In sorrow and shame the priest went his way, robbed of his whole
fortune, and punished for his avarice and the heartless manner in
which he had sacrificed his daughter; though fortunately for her and
no thanks to her father, she found in Siva a good and affectionate
husband.

The two rogues altered their mode of life: thenceforward they walked
in the path of virtue and well-doing; and favoured by the king, whom
they faithfully served, they lived many years honoured, respected, and
happy in Ujjayini.





Next: The Goblin Bird

Previous: The Enchanted Crow



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