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The Story Of The Unlucky Days

Source: Cossack Fairy Tales And Folk Tales

At the end of a village on the verge of the steppe dwelt two brothers,
one rich and the other poor. One day the poor brother came to the rich
brother's house and sat down at his table; but the rich brother drove
him away and said, "How durst thou sit at my table? Be off! Thy proper
place is in the fields to scare away the crows!" So the poor brother
went into the fields to scare away the crows. The crows all flew away
when they saw him, but among them was a raven that flew back again and
said to him, "O man! in this village thou wilt never be able to live,
for here there is neither luck nor happiness for thee, but go into
another village and thou shalt do well!" Then the man went home,
called together his wife and children, put up the few old clothes that
still remained in his wardrobe, and went on to the next village,
carrying his water-skin on his shoulders. On and on they tramped along
the road, but the Unlucky Days clung on to the man behind, and said,
"Why dost thou not take us with thee? We will never leave thee, for
thou art ours!" So they went on with him till they came to a river,
and the man, who was thirsty, went down to the water's edge for a
drink. He undid his water-skin, persuaded the Unlucky Days to get into
it, tied it fast again and buried it on the bank close by the river.
Then he and his family went on farther. They went on and on till they
came to another village, and at the very end of it was an empty
hut--the people who had lived there had died of hunger. There the
whole family settled down. One day they were all sitting down there
when they heard something in the mountain crying, "Catch hold! catch
hold! catch hold!" The man went at once into his stable, took down the
bit and reins that remained to him, and climbed up into the mountain.
He looked all about him as he went, and at last he saw, sitting down,
an old goat with two large horns--it was the Devil himself, but of
course he didn't know that. So he made a lasso of the reins, threw
them round the old goat, and began to drag it gently down the
mountain-side. He dragged it all the way up the ladder of his barn,
when the goat disappeared, but showers and showers of money came
tumbling through the ceiling. He collected them all together, and they
filled two large coffers. Then the poor man made the most of his
money, and in no very long time he was well-to-do. Then he sent some
of his people to his rich brother, and invited him to come and live
with him. The rich brother pondered the matter over. "Maybe he has
nothing to eat," thought he, "and that is why he sends for me." So he
bade them bake him a good store of fat pancakes, and set out
accordingly. On the way he heard that his brother had grown rich, and
the farther he went the more he heard of his brother's wealth. Then he
regretted that he had brought all the pancakes with him, so he threw
them away into the ditch. At last he came to his brother's house, and
his brother showed him first one of the coffers full of money and then
the other. Then envy seized upon the rich brother, and he grew quite
green in the face. But his brother said to him, "Look now! I have
buried a lot more money in a water-skin, hard by the river; you may
dig it up and keep it if you like, for I have lots of my own here!"
The rich brother did not wait to be told twice. Off he went to the
river, and began digging up the water-skin straightway. He unfastened
it with greedy, trembling hands; but he had no sooner opened it than
the Unlucky Days all popped out and clung on to him. "Thou art ours!"
said they. He went home, and when he got there he found that all his
wealth was consumed, and a heap of ashes stood where his house had
been. So he went and lived in the place where his brother had lived,
and the Unlucky Days lived with him ever afterward.

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