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The Story Of Little Tsar Novishny The False Sister And The Faithful Beasts






Source: Cossack Fairy Tales And Folk Tales

Once upon a time, in a certain kingdom, in a certain empire, there
dwelt a certain Tsar who had never had a child. One day this Tsar went
to the bazaar (such a bazaar as we have at Kherson) to buy food for
his needs. For though he was a Tsar, he had a mean and churlish soul,
and used always to do his own marketing, and so now, too, he bought a
little salt fish and went home with it. On his way homeward, a great
thirst suddenly fell upon him, so he turned aside into a lonely
mountain where he knew, as his father had known before him, there was
a spring of crystal-clear water. He was so very thirsty that he flung
himself down headlong by this spring without first crossing himself,
wherefore that Accursed One, Satan, immediately had power over him,
and caught him by the beard. The Tsar sprang back in terror, and
cried, "Let me go!" But the Accursed One held him all the tighter.
"Nay, I will not let thee go!" cried he. Then the Tsar began to
entreat him piteously. "Ask what thou wilt of me," said he, "only let
me go."--"Give me, then," said the Accursed One, "something that thou
hast in the house, and then I'll let thee go!"--"Let me see, what have
I got?" said the Tsar. "Oh, I know. I've got eight horses at home, the
like of which I have seen nowhere else, and I'll immediately bid my
equerry bring them to thee to this spring--take them."--"I won't
have them!" cried the Accursed One, and he held him still more tightly
by the beard. "Well, then, hearken now!" cried the Tsar. "I have
eight oxen. They have never yet gone a-ploughing for me, or done a
day's work. I'll have them brought hither. I'll feast my eyes on them
once more, and then I'll have them driven into thy steppes--take
them."--"No, that won't do either!" said the Accursed One. The Tsar
went over, one by one, all the most precious things he had at home,
but the Accursed One said "No!" all along, and pulled him more and
more tightly by the beard. When the Tsar saw that the Accursed One
would take none of all these things, he said to him at last, "Look
now! I have a wife so lovely that the like of her is not to be found
in the whole world, take her and let me go!"--"No!" replied the
Accursed One, "I will not have her." The Tsar was in great straits.
"What am I to do now?" thought he. "I have offered him my lovely wife,
who is the very choicest of my chattels, and he won't have her!"--Then
said the Accursed One, "Promise me what thou shalt find awaiting thee
at home, and I'll let thee go."

The Tsar gladly promised this, for he could think of naught else that
he had, and then the Accursed One let him go.

But while he had been away from home, there had been born to him a
Tsarevko[8] and a Tsarivna; and they grew up not by the day, or even
by the hour, but by the minute: never were known such fine children.
And his wife saw him coming from afar, and went out to meet him, with
her two children, with great joy. But he, the moment he saw them,
burst into tears. "Nay, my dear love," cried she, "wherefore dost thou
burst into tears? Or art thou so delighted that such children have
been born unto thee that thou canst not find thy voice for tears of
joy?"--And he answered her, "My darling wife, on my way back from the
bazaar I was athirst, and turned toward a mountain known of old to my
father and me, and it seemed to me as though there were a spring of
water there, though the water was very near dried up. But looking
closer, I saw that it was quite full; so I bethought me that I would
drink thereof, and I leaned over, when lo! that Evil-wanton (I mean
the Devil) caught me by the beard and would not let me go. I begged
and prayed, but still he held me tight. 'Give me,' said he, 'what thou
hast at home, or I'll never let thee go!'--And I said to him, 'Lo!
now, I have horses.'--'I don't want thy horses!' said he.--'I have
oxen,' I said.--'I don't want thine oxen!' said he.--'I have,' said I,
'a wife so fair that the like of her is not to be found in God's fair
world; take her, but let me go.'--'I don't want thy fair wife!' said
he.--Then I promised him what I should find at home when I got there,
for I never thought that God had blessed me so. Come now, my darling
wife! and let us bury them both lest he take them!"--"Nay, nay! my
dear husband, we had better hide them somewhere. Let us dig a ditch by
our hut--just under the gables!" (For there were no lordly mansions in
those days, and the Tsars dwelt in peasants' huts.) So they dug a
ditch right under the gables, and put their children inside it, and
gave them provision of bread and water. Then they covered it up and
smoothed it down, and turned into their own little hut.

[8] A little Tsar.

Presently the serpent (for the Accursed One had changed himself into a
serpent) came flying up in search of the children. He raged up and
down outside the hut--but there was nothing to be seen. At last he
cried out to the stove, "Stove, stove, where has the Tsar hidden
his children?"--The stove replied, "The Tsar has been a good master
to me; he has put lots of warm fuel inside me; I hold to him."--So,
finding he could get nothing out of the stove, he cried to the
hearth-broom, "Hearth-broom, hearth-broom, where has the Tsar
hidden his children?"--But the hearth-broom answered, "The Tsar has
always been a good master to me, for he always cleans the warm grate
with me; I hold to him." So the Accursed One could get nothing out
of the hearth-broom.--Then he cried to the hatchet, "Hatchet,
hatchet, where has the Tsar hidden his children?"--The hatchet
replied, "The Tsar has always been a good master to me. He chops
his wood with me, and gives me a place to lie down in; so I'll not
have him disturbed."--Then the Devil cried to the gimlet, "Gimlet,
gimlet, where has the Tsar hidden his children?"--But the gimlet
replied, "The Tsar has always been a good master to me. He drills
little holes with me, and then lets me rest; so I'll let him rest
too."--Then the serpent said to the gimlet, "So the Tsar's a good
master to thee, eh! Well, I can only say that if he's the good
master thou sayest he is, I am rather surprised that he knocks thee
on the head so much with a hammer."--"Well, that's true," said
the gimlet, "I never thought of that. Thou mayst take hold of me if
thou wilt, and draw me out of the top of the hut, near the front
gable; and wherever I fall into the marshy ground, there set to work
and dig with me!"

The Devil did so, and began digging at the spot where the gimlet fell
out on the marshy ground till he had dug out the children. Now, as
they had been growing all along, they were children no more, but a
stately youth and a fair damsel; and the serpent took them up and
carried them off. But they were big and heavy, so he soon got tired
and lay down to rest, and presently fell asleep. Then the Tsarivna sat
down on his head, and the Tsarevko sat down beside her, till a horse
came running up. The horse ran right up to them and said, "Hail!
little Tsar Novishny; art thou here by thy leave or against thy
leave?"--And the little Tsar Novishny replied, "Nay, little nag! we
are here against our leave, not by our leave."--"Then sit on my back!"
said the horse, "and I'll carry you off!" So they got on his back, for
the serpent was asleep all the time. Then the horse galloped off with
them; and he galloped far, far away. Presently the serpent awoke,
looked all round him, and could see nothing till he had got up out of
the reeds in which he lay, when he saw them in the far distance, and
gave chase. He soon caught them up; and little Tsar Novishny said to
the horse, "Oh! little nag, how hot it is. It is all up with thee and
us!" And, in truth, the horse's tail was already singed to a coal, for
the serpent was hard behind them, blazing like fire. The horse
perceived that he could do no more, so he gave one last wriggle and
died; but they, poor things, were left alive. "Whom have you been
listening to?" said the serpent as he flew up to them. "Don't you know
that I only am your father and tsar, and have the right to carry you
away?"--"Oh, dear daddy! we'll never listen to anybody else
again!"--"Well, I'll forgive you this time," said the serpent; "but
mind you never do it again."

Again the serpent took them up and carried them off. Presently he
grew tired and again lay down to rest, and nodded off. Then the
Tsarivna sat down on his head, and the Tsarevko sat down beside her,
till a humble-bee came flying up. "Hail, little Tsar Novishny!" cried
the humble-bee.--"Hail, little humble-bee!" said the little
Tsar.--"Say, friends, are you here by your leave or against your
leave?"--"Alas! little humble-bumble-bee, 'tis not with my leave I
have been brought hither, but against my leave, as thou mayst see for
thyself."--"Then sit on my back," said the bee, "and I'll carry you
away."--"But, dear little humble-bumble-bee, if a horse couldn't save
us, how will you?"--"I cannot tell till I try," said the humble-bee.
"But if I cannot save you, I'll let you fall."--"Well, then," said
the little Tsar, "we'll try. For we two must perish in any case,
but thou perhaps mayst get off scot-free." So they embraced each
other, sat on the humble-bee, and off they went. When the serpent
awoke he missed them, and raising his head above the reeds and rushes,
saw them flying far away, and set off after them at full speed.
"Alas! little humble-bumble-bee," cried little Tsar Novishny, "how
burning hot 'tis getting. We shall all three perish!" Then the
humble-bee turned his wing and shook them off. They fell to the
earth, and he flew away. Then the serpent came flying up and fell
upon them with open jaws. "Ah-ha!" cried he, with a snort, "you've
come to grief again, eh? Didn't I tell you to listen to nobody but
me!" Then they fell to weeping and entreating, "We'll listen to you
alone and to nobody else!" and they wept and entreated so much that
at last he forgave them.

So he took them up and carried them off once more. Again he sat down
to rest and fell asleep, and again the Tsarivna sat upon his head and
the Tsarevko sat down by her side, till a bullock came up, full tilt,
and said to them, "Hail, little Tsar Novishny! art thou here with thy
leave or art thou here against thy leave?"--"Alas! dear little
bullock, I came not hither by my leave; but maybe I was brought here
against my leave!"--"Sit on my back, then," said the bullock, "and
I'll carry you away."--But they said, "Nay, if a horse and a bee could
not manage it, how wilt thou?"--"Nonsense!" said the bullock. "Sit
down, and I'll carry you off!" So he persuaded them.--"Well, we can
only perish once!" they cried; and the bullock carried them off. And
every little while they went a little mile, and jolted so that they
very nearly tumbled off. Presently the serpent awoke and was very very
wrath. He rose high above the woods and flew after them--oh! how fast
he did fly! Then cried the little Tsar, "Alas! bullock, how hot it
turns. Thou wilt perish, and we shall perish also!"--Then said the
bullock, "Little Tsar! look into my left ear and thou wilt see a
horse-comb. Pull it out and throw it behind thee!"--The little Tsar
took out the comb and threw it behind him, and it became a huge wood,
as thick and jagged as the teeth of a horse-comb. But the bullock went
on at his old pace: every little while they went a little mile, and
jolted so that they nearly tumbled off. The serpent, however, managed
to gnaw his way through the wood, and then flew after them again. Then
cried the little Tsar, "Alas! bullock, it begins to burn again. Thou
wilt perish, and we shall perish also!"--Then said the bullock, "Look
into my right ear, and pull out the brush thou dost find there, and
fling it behind thee!"--So he threw it behind him, and it became a
forest as thick as a brush. Then the serpent came up to the forest and
began to gnaw at it; and at last he gnawed his way right through it.
But the bullock went on at his old pace: every little while they went
a little mile, and they jolted so that they nearly tumbled off. But
when the serpent had gnawed his way through the forest, he again
pursued them; and again they felt a burning. And the little Tsar said,
"Alas! bullock, look! look! how it burns. Look! look! how we perish."
Now the bullock was already nearing the sea. "Look into my right ear,"
said the bullock, "draw out the little handkerchief thou findest
there, and throw it in front of me." He drew it out and flung it, and
before them stood a bridge. Over this bridge they galloped, and by the
time they had done so, the serpent reached the sea. Then said the
bullock to the little Tsar, "Take up the handkerchief again and wave
it behind me." Then he took and waved it till the bridge doubled up
behind them, and went and spread out again right in front of them.
The serpent came up to the edge of the sea; but there he had to stop,
for he had nothing to run upon.

So they crossed over that sea right to the other side, and the serpent
remained on his own side. Then the bullock said to them, "I'll lead
you to a hut close to the sea, and in that hut you must live, and you
must take and slay me." But they fell a-weeping sore. "How shall we
slay thee!" they cried; "thou art our own little dad, and hast saved
us from death!"--"Nay!" said the bullock; "but you must slay me, and
one quarter of me you must hang up on the stove, and the second
quarter you must place on the ground in a corner, and the third
quarter you must put in the corner at the entrance of the hut, and the
fourth quarter you must put round the threshold, so that there will be
a quarter in all four corners." So they took and slew him in front of
the threshold, and they hung his four quarters in the four corners as
he had bidden them, and then they laid them down to sleep. Now the
Tsarevko awoke at midnight, and saw in the right-hand corner a horse
so gorgeously caparisoned that he could not resist rising at once and
mounting it; and in the threshold corner there was a self-slicing
sword, and in the third corner stood the dog Protius[9], and in the
stove corner stood the dog Nedviga[9]. The little Tsar longed to be
off. "Rise, little sister!" cried he. "God has been good to us! Rise,
dear little sister, and let us pray to God!" So they arose and prayed
to God, and while they prayed the day dawned. Then he mounted his
horse and took the dogs with him, that he might live by what they
caught.

[9] The two fabulous hounds of Ruthenian legend.

So they lived in their hut by the sea, and one day the sister went
down to the sea to wash her bed-linen and her body-linen in the blue
waters. And the serpent came and said to her, "How didst thou manage
to jump over the sea?"--"Look, now!" said she, "we crossed over in
this way. My brother has a handkerchief which becomes a bridge when he
waves it behind him."--And the serpent said to her, "I tell thee what,
ask him for this handkerchief; say thou dost want to wash it, and take
and wave it, and I'll then be able to cross over to thee and live with
thee, and we'll poison thy brother."--Then she went home and said to
her brother, "Give me that handkerchief, dear little brother; it is
dirty, so I'll wash and give it back to thee." And he believed her and
gave it to her, for she was dear to him, and he thought her good and
true. Then she took the handkerchief, went down to the sea, and waved
it--and behold there was a bridge. Then the serpent crossed over to
her side, and they walked to the hut together and consulted as to the
best way of destroying her brother and removing him from God's fair
world. Now it was his custom to rise at dawn, mount his horse, and go
a-hunting, for hunting he dearly loved. So the serpent said to her,
"Take to thy bed and pretend to be ill, and say to him, 'I dreamed a
dream, dear brother, and lo, I saw thee go and fetch me wolf's milk to
make me well.' Then he'll go and fetch it, and the wolves will tear
his dogs to pieces, and then we can take and do to him as we list, for
his strength is in his dogs."

So when the brother came home from hunting the serpent hid himself,
but the sister said, "I have dreamed a dream, dear brother. Methought
thou didst go and fetch me wolf's milk, and I drank of it, and my
health came back to me, for I am so weak that God grant I die
not."--"I'll fetch it," said her brother. So he mounted his horse and
set off. Presently he came to a little thicket, and immediately a
she-wolf came out. Then Protius ran her down and Nedviga held her
fast, and the little Tsar milked her and let her go. And the she-wolf
looked round and said, "Well for thee, little Tsar Novishny, that thou
hast let me go. Methought thou wouldst not let me go alive. For that
thou hast let me go, I'll give thee, little Tsar Novishny, a
wolf-whelp."--Then she said to the little wolf, "Thou shalt serve this
dear little Tsar as though he were thine own dear father." Then the
little Tsar went back, and now there were with him two dogs and a
little wolf-whelp that trotted behind them.

Now the serpent and the false sister saw him coming from afar, and
three dogs trotting behind him. And the serpent said to her, "What a
sly, wily one it is! He has added another watch-dog to his train! Lie
down, and make thyself out worse than ever, and ask bear's milk of
him, for the bears will tear him to pieces without doubt." Then the
serpent turned himself into a needle, and she took him up and stuck
him in the wall. Meanwhile the brother dismounted from his horse and
came with his dogs and the wolf to the hut, and the dogs began
snuffing at the needle in the wall. And his sister said to him, "Tell
me, why dost thou keep these big dogs? They let me have no rest." Then
he called to the dogs, and they sat down. And his sister said to him,
"I dreamed a dream, my brother. I saw thee go and search and fetch me
from somewhere bear's milk, and I drank of it, and my health came back
to me."--"I will fetch it," said her brother.

But first of all he laid him down to sleep. Nedviga lay at his head,
and Protius at his feet, and Vovchok[10] by his side. So he slept
through the night, and at dawn he arose and mounted his good steed and
hied him thence. Again they came to a little thicket, and this time a
she-bear came out. Protius ran her down, Nedviga held her fast, and
the little Tsar milked her and let her go. Then the she-bear said,
"Hail to thee, little Tsar Novishny; because thou hast let me go, I'll
give thee a bear-cub." But to the little bear she said, "Obey him as
though he were thine own father." So he set off home, and the serpent
and his sister saw that four were now trotting behind him. "Look!"
said the serpent, "if there are not four running behind him! Shall we
never be able to destroy him? I tell thee what. Ask him to get thee
hare's milk; perhaps his beasts will gobble up the hare before he can
milk it." So he turned himself into a needle again, and she fastened
him in the wall, only a little higher up, so that the dogs should not
get at him. Then, when the little Tsar dismounted from his horse, he
and his dogs came into the hut, and the dogs began snuffing at the
needle in the wall and barked at it, but the brother knew not the
cause thereof. But his sister burst into tears and said, "Why dost
thou keep such monstrous dogs? Such a kennel of them makes me ill with
anguish!" Then he shouted to the dogs, and they sat down quite still.
Then she said to him, "I am so ill, brother, that nothing will make me
well but hare's milk. Go and get it for me."--"I'll get it," said he.

[10] Little Wolf.

But first he laid him down to sleep. Nedviga lay at his head, Protius
at his feet, and Vovchok and Medvedik[11] each on one side. He slept
through the night, but at dawn he mounted his steed, took his pack
with him, and departed. Again he came to a little thicket, and a
she-hare popped out. Protius ran her down, Nedviga held her fast, then
he milked her and let her go. Then the hare said, "Hail to thee,
little Tsar Novishny; because thou hast let me go--I thought thou
wouldst have torn me to pieces with thy dogs--I'll give thee a
leveret." But to the leveret she said, "Obey him, as though he were
thine own father." Then he went home, and again they saw him from
afar. "What a wily rogue it is!" said they. "All five are following
him, and he is as well as ever!"--"Ask him to get thee fox's milk!"
said the serpent; "perhaps when he goes for it his beasts will leave
him in the lurch!" Then he changed himself into a needle, and she
stuck him still higher in the wall, so that the dogs could not get at
him. The Tsar again dismounted from his horse, and his dogs rushed up
to the hut and began snuffing at the needle. But his sister fell
a-weeping, and said, "Why dost thou keep such monstrous dogs?" He
shouted to them, and they sat down quietly on their haunches. Then his
sister said again, "I am ailing, my brother; go and get me fox's milk,
and I shall be well."--"I'll fetch it for thee," said her brother.

[11] Little Bear.

But first he lay down to sleep. Nedviga lay at his head, Protius at
his feet, and Vovchok, Medvedik, and the leveret by his side. The
little Tsar slept through the night, and at dawn he arose, mounted his
horse, took his pack with him, and went off. They came to a little
thicket, and a vixen popped out. Protius ran her down, Nedviga held
her fast, and the little Tsar milked her and let her go. Then said the
vixen to him, "Thanks to thee, little Tsar Novishny, that thou hast
let me go. Methought thou wouldst tear me in pieces with thy dogs. For
thy kindness I'll give thee a little fox." But to the little fox she
said, "Obey him as though he were thine own father." So he went home,
and they saw him coming from afar, and lo! now he had six guardians,
and yet had come by no harm. "'Tis no good; we shall never do for
him," said the serpent. "Look, now! Make thyself worse than ever, and
say to him, 'I am very ill, my brother, because in another realm, far,
far away, there is a wild boar who ploughs with his nose, and sows
with his ears, and harrows with his tail--and in that same empire
there is a mill with twelve furnaces that grinds its own grain and
casts forth its own meal, and if thou wilt bring me of the meal that
is beneath these twelve furnaces, so that I may make me a cake of it
and eat, my soul shall live.'"--Then her brother said to her,
"Methinks thou art not my sister, but my foe!"--But she replied, "How
can I be thy foe when we two live all alone together in a strange
land?"--"Well, I will get it for thee," said he. For again he believed
in his sister.

So he mounted his steed, took his pack with him, and departed, and he
came to the land where were that boar and that mill she had told him
of. He came up to the mill, tied his horse to it, and entered into it.
And there were twelve furnaces there and twelve doors, and these
twelve doors needed no man to open or shut them, for they opened and
shut themselves. He took meal from beneath the first furnace and went
through the second door, but the dogs were shut in by the doors.
Through all twelve doors he went, and came out again at the first
door, and looked about him, and--there were no dogs to be seen. He
whistled, and he heard his dogs whining where they could not get out.
Then he wept sore, mounted his horse, and went home. He got home, and
there was his sister making merry with the serpent. And no sooner did
the brother enter the hut than the serpent said, "Well, we wanted
flesh, and now flesh has come to us!" For they had just slain a
bullock, and on the ground where they had slain it there sprang up a
whitethorn-tree, so lovely that it may be told of in tales, but
neither imagined nor divined. When the little Tsar saw it, he said,
"Oh, my dear brother-in-law!" (for without his dogs he must needs be
courteous to the serpent) "pray let me climb up that whitethorn-tree,
and have a good look about me!" But the sister said to the serpent,
"Dear friend, make him get ready boiling water for himself, and we
will boil him, for it does not become thee to dirty thy hands."--"Very
well," said the serpent; "he shall make the boiling water ready!" So
they ordered the little Tsar to go and chop wood and get the hot water
ready. Then he went and chopped wood, but as he was doing so, a
starling flew out and said to him, "Not so fast, not so fast, little
Tsar Novishny. Be as slow as thou canst, for thy dogs have gnawed
their way through two doors."

Then the little Tsar poured water into the cauldron, and put fire
under it. But the wood that he had cut was rotten and very very dry,
so that it burned most fiercely, and he took and sprinkled it with
water, and sprinkled it again and again, so that it might not burn too
much. And when he went out into the courtyard for more water, the
starling said to him, "Not so fast, not so fast, little Tsar Novishny,
for thy dogs have gnawed their way through four doors!" As he was
returning to the hut his sister said to him, "That water does not boil
up quickly enough! Take the fire-shovel and poke the fire!" So he did
so, and the faggots blazed up, but when she had gone away he sprinkled
them with water again, so that they might burn more slowly. Then he
went into the courtyard again, and the starling met him and said, "Not
so fast, not so fast, little Tsar; be as slow as thou canst, for thy
dogs have gnawed their way through six doors." Then he returned to the
hut, and his sister again took up the shovel and made him poke up the
fire, and when she went away he again flung water on the burning
coals. So he kept going in and out of the courtyard. "'Tis weary
work!" cried he; but the starling said to him, "Not so fast, not so
fast, little Tsar Novishny, for thy dogs have already gnawed their way
through ten doors!" The little Tsar picked up the rottenest wood he
could find and flung it on the fire, to make believe he was making
haste, but sprinkled it at the same time with water, so that it might
not burn up too quickly, and yet the kettle soon began to boil. Again
he went to the forest for more wood, and the starling said to him,
"Not so fast, not so fast, little Tsar, for thy dogs have already
gnawed their way through all the doors, and are now resting!" But now
the water was boiling, and his sister ran up and said to him, "Come,
boil thyself, be quick; how much longer art thou going to keep us
waiting?" Then he, poor thing, began ladling the boiling water over
himself, while she got the table ready and spread the cloth, that the
serpent might eat her brother on that very table.

But he, poor thing, kept ladling himself, and cried, "Oh, my
dear brother-in-law, pray let me climb up to the top of that
whitethorn-tree; let me have a look out from the top of it, for
thence one can see afar!"--"Don't let him, dear!" said the sister
to the serpent; "he will stay there too long and lose our precious
time."--But the serpent replied, "It doesn't matter, it doesn't
matter; let him climb up if he likes." So the little Tsar went up
to the tree, and began to climb it; he did not miss a single
branch, and stopped a little at each one to gain time, and so he
climbed up to the very top, and then he took out his flute and
began to play upon it. But the starling flew up to him and said,
"Not so fast, little Tsar Novishny, for lo! thy dogs are running to
thee with all their might." But his sister ran out and said,
"What art thou playing up there for? Thou dost forget perhaps that
we are waiting for thee down here!" Then he began to descend the
tree, but he stopped at every branch on his way down, while his
sister kept on calling to him to come down quicker. At last he came
to the last branch, and as he stood upon it and leaped down to
the ground, he thought to himself, "Now I perish!" At that same
instant his dogs and his beasts, growling loudly, came running up,
and stood in a circle around him. Then he crossed himself and said,
"Glory to Thee, O Lord! I have still, perchance, a little time
to live in Thy fair world!" Then he called aloud to the serpent
and said, "And now, dear brother-in-law, come out, for I am ready
for thee!" Out came the serpent to eat him, but he said to his dogs
and his beasts, "Vovchok! Medvedik! Protius! Nedviga! Seize him!"
Then the dogs and the beasts rushed upon him and tore him to bits.

Then the little Tsar collected the pieces and burnt them to ashes, and
the little fox rolled his brush in the ashes till it was covered with
them, and then went out into the open field and scattered them to the
four winds. But while they were tearing the serpent to pieces the
wicked sister knocked out his tooth and hid it. After it was all over
the little Tsar said to her, "As thou hast been such a false friend to
me, sister, thou must remain here while I go into another kingdom."
Then he made two buckets and hung them up on the whitethorn-tree, and
said to his sister, "Look now, sister! if thou weepest for me, this
bucket will fill with tears, but if thou weepest for the serpent that
bucket will fill with blood!" Then she fell a-weeping and praying, and
said to him, "Don't leave me, brother, but take me with thee."--"I
won't," said he; "such a false friend as thou art I'll not have with
me. Stay where thou art." So he mounted his horse, called to him his
dogs and his beasts, and went his way into another kingdom and into
another empire.

He went on and on till he came to a certain city, and in this city
there was only one spring, and in this spring sat a dragon with twelve
heads. And it was so that when any went to draw water from this well
the dragon rose up and ate them, and there was no other place whence
that city could draw its water. So the little Tsar came to that town
and put up at the stranger's inn, and he asked his host, "What is the
meaning of all this running and crying of the people in the
streets?"--"Why, dost thou not know?" said he; "it is the turn of the
Tsar to send his daughter to the dragon!"--Then he went out and
listened, and heard the people say, "The Tsar proclaims that whoever
is able to slay the dragon, to him will he give his daughter and
one-half of his tsardom!" Then little Tsar Novishny stepped forth and
said, "I am able to slay this evil dragon!" So all the people
immediately sent and told the Tsar, "A stranger has come hither who
says he is ready to meet and slay the dragon." Then the Tsar bade them
take him to the watch-house and put him among the guards.

Then they led out the Tsarivna, and behind her they led him, and
behind him came his beasts and his horse. And the Tsarivna was so
lovely and so richly attired that all who beheld her burst into tears.
But the moment the dragon appeared and opened his mouth to devour the
Tsarivna, the little Tsar cried to his self-slicing sword, "Fall upon
him!" and to his beasts he cried, "Protius! Medvedik! Vovchok!
Nedviga! Seize him!" Then the self-slicing sword and the beasts fell
upon him, and tore him into little bits. When they had finished
tearing him, the little Tsar took the remains of the body and burnt
them to ashes, and the little fox took up all the ashes on her tail,
and scattered them to the four winds. Then he took the Tsarivna by the
hand, and led her to the Tsar, and the people rejoiced because their
water was free again. And the Tsarivna gave him the nuptial ring.

Then they set off home again. They went on and on, for it was a long
way from the tsardom of that Tsar, and at last he grew weary and lay
down in the grass, and she sat at his head. Then his lackey crept up
to him, unfastened the self-slicing sword from his side, went up to
the little Tsar, and said, "Self-slicing sword! slay him!" Then the
self-slicing sword cut him into little bits, and his beasts knew
nothing about it, for they were sleeping after their labours. After
that the lackey said to the Tsarivna, "Thou must say now to all men
that I saved thee from death, or if not, I will do to thee what I have
done to him. Swear that thou wilt say this thing!" Then she said, "I
will swear that thou didst save me from death," for she was sore
afraid of the lackey. Then they returned to the city, and the Tsar was
very glad to see them, and clothed the lackey in goodly apparel, and
they all made merry together.

Now when Nedviga awoke he perceived that his master was no longer
there, and immediately awoke all the rest, and they all began to think
and consider which of them was the swiftest. And when they had thought
it well over they judged that the hare was the swiftest, and they
resolved that the hare should run and get living and healing water and
the apple of youth also. So the hare ran to fetch this water and this
apple, and he ran and ran till he came to a certain land, and in this
land the hare saw a spring, and close to the spring grew an apple-tree
with the apples of youth, and this spring and this apple-tree were
guarded by a Muscovite, oh! so strong, so strong, and he waved his
sabre again and again so that not even a mouse could make its way up
to that well. What was to be done? Then the little hare had resort to
subtlety, and made herself crooked, and limped toward the spring as if
she were lame. When the Muscovite saw her he said, "What sort of a
little beast is this? I never saw the like of it before!" So the hare
passed him by, and went farther and farther on till she came right up
to the well. The Muscovite stood there and opened his eyes wide, but
the hare had now got up to the spring, and took a little flask of the
water and nipped off a little apple, and was off in a trice.

She ran back to the little Tsar Novishny, and Nedviga immediately took
the water and sprinkled therewith the fragments of the little Tsar,
and the fragments came together again. Then he poured some of the
living water into his mouth and he became alive, and gave him a bite
of the apple of youth, and he instantly grew young again and stronger
than ever. Then the little Tsar rose upon his feet, stretched himself,
and yawned. "What a long time I've been asleep!" cried he.--"'Tis a
good thing for thee that we got the living and healing water!" said
Protius.--"But what shall we do next?" said they all. Then they all
took council together, and agreed that the little Tsar should disguise
himself as an old man, and so go to the Tsar's palace.

So the little Tsar Novishny disguised himself as an old man, and went
to the palace of the Tsar. And when he got there he begged them to let
him in that he might see the young married people. But the lackeys
would not let him in. Then the Tsarivna herself heard the sound of his
begging and praying, and commanded them to admit him. Now when he
entered the room and took off his cap and cloak, the ring which the
Tsarivna had given him when he slew the serpent sparkled so that she
knew him, but, not believing her own eyes, she said to him, "Come
hither, thou godly old pilgrim, that I may show thee hospitality!"
Then the little Tsar drew near to the table, and the Tsarivna poured
him out a glass of wine and gave it to him, and he took it with his
left hand. She marked that he did not take it with the hand on which
was the ring, so she drank off that glass herself. Then she filled
another glass and gave it him, and he took it with his right hand.
Then she immediately recognized her ring, and said to her father,
"This man is my husband who delivered me from death, but that
fellow"--pointing to the lackey--"that rascally slavish soul killed my
husband and made me say that he was my husband." When the Tsar heard
this he boiled over with rage. "So that is what thou art!" said he
to the lackey, and immediately he bade them bind him and tie him to
the tail of a horse so savage that no man could ride it, and then turn
it loose into the endless steppe. But the little Tsar Novishny sat
down behind the table and made merry.

So the Tsarevko and the Tsarivna lived a long time together in
happiness, but one day she asked him, "What of thy kindred and thy
father's house?" Then he told her all about his sister. She
immediately bade him saddle his horse, and taking his beasts with him,
go in search of her. They came to the place where he had left her, and
saw that the bucket which was put up for the serpent was full of
blood, but that the little Tsar's bucket was all dry and falling to
pieces. Then he perceived that she was still lamenting for the
serpent, and said to her, "God be with thee, but I will know thee no
more. Stay here, and never will I look upon thy face again!" But she
began to entreat and caress and implore him that he would take her
with him. Then the brother had compassion on his sister and took her
away with him.

Now when they got home she took out the serpent's tooth which she had
hidden about her, and put it beneath his pillow on the bed whereon he
slept. And at night-time the little Tsar went to lie down and the
tooth killed him. His wife thought that he was sulky, and therefore
did not speak to her, so she begged him not to be angry; and, getting
no answer, took him by the hand, and lo! his hand was cold, as cold as
lead, and she screamed out. But Protius came bounding through the door
and kissed his master. Then the little Tsar became alive again, but
Protius died. Then Nedviga kissed Protius and Protius became alive,
but Nedviga died. Then the Tsarevko said to Medvedik, "Kiss Nedviga!"
He did so, and Nedviga became alive again, but Medvedik died. And so
they went on kissing each other from the greatest to the smallest,
till the turn came to the hare. She kissed Vovchok and died, but
Vovchok remained alive. What was to be done? Now that the little hare
had died there was none to kiss her back into life again. "Kiss her,"
said the little Tsar to the little fox. But the little fox was artful,
and taking the little hare on his shoulder, he trotted off to the
forest. He carried her to a place where lay a felled oak, with two
branches one on the top of the other, and put the hare on the lower
branch; then he ran under the branch and kissed the hare, but took
good care that the branch should be between them. Thereupon the
serpent's tooth flew out of the hare and fastened itself in the upper
branch, and both fox and hare scampered back out of the forest alive
and well. When the others saw them both alive they rejoiced greatly
that no harm had come to any of them from the tooth. But they seized
the sister and tied her to the tail of a savage horse and let her
loose upon the endless steppe.

So they all lived the merry lives of Tsars who feast continually. And
I was there too, and drank wine and mead till my mouth ran over and it
trickled all down my beard. So there's the whole kazka for you.





Next: The Vampire And St Michael

Previous: The Voices At The Window



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