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The Story Of The Wind

Source: Cossack Fairy Tales And Folk Tales

Once upon a time there dwelt two brethren in one village, and one
brother was very, very rich, and the other brother was very, very
poor. The rich man had wealth of all sorts, but all that the poor man
had was a heap of children.

One day, at harvest-time, the poor man left his wife and went to reap
and thresh out his little plot of wheat, but the Wind came and swept
all his corn away down to the very last grain. The poor man was
exceeding wrath thereat, and said, "Come what will, I'll go seek the
Wind, and I'll tell him with what pains and trouble I had got my corn
to grow and ripen, and then he, forsooth! must needs come and blow it
all away."

So the man went home and made ready to go, and as he was making ready
his wife said to him, "Whither away, husband?"--"I am going to seek
the Wind," said he; "what dost thou say to that?"--"I should say, do
no such thing," replied his wife. "Thou knowest the saying, 'If thou
dost want to find the Wind, seek him on the open steppe. He can go ten
different ways to thy one.' Think of that, dear husband, and go not at
all."--"I mean to go," replied the man, "though I never return home
again." Then he took leave of his wife and children, and went straight
out into the wide world to seek the Wind on the open steppe.

He went on farther and farther till he saw before him a forest, and
on the borders of that forest stood a hut on hens' legs. The man went
into this hut and was filled with astonishment, for there lay on the
floor a huge, huge old man, as grey as milk. He lay there stretched
at full length, his head on the seat of honour,[6] with an arm and
leg in each of the four corners, and all his hair standing on end. It
was no other than the Wind himself. The man stared at this awful
Ancient with terror, for never in his life had he seen anything like
it. "God help thee, old father!" cried he.--"Good health to thee,
good man!" said the ancient giant, as he lay on the floor of the
hut. Then he asked him in the most friendly manner, "Whence hath God
brought thee hither, good man?"--"I am wandering through the wide
world in search of the Wind," said the man. "If I find him, I will
turn back; if I don't find him, I shall go on and on till I
do."--"What dost thou want with the Wind?" asked the old giant lying
on the floor. "Or what wrong hath he done thee, that thou shouldst
seek him out so doggedly?"--"What wrong hath he done me?" replied
the wayfarer. "Hearken now, O Ancient, and I will tell thee! I went
straight from my wife into the field and reaped my little plot of
corn; but when I began to thresh it out, the Wind came and caught
and scattered every bit of it in a twinkling, so that there was
not a single little grain of it left. So now thou dost see, old
man, what I have to thank him for. Tell me, in God's name, why such
things be? My little plot of corn was my all-in-all, and in the
sweat of my brow did I reap and thresh it; but the Wind came and blew
it all away, so that not a trace of it is to be found in the wide
world. Then I thought to myself, 'Why should he do this?' And I said
to my wife, 'I'll go seek the Wind, and say to him, "Another time,
visit not the poor man who hath but a little corn, and blow it not
away, for bitterly doth he rue it!"'"--"Good, my son!" said the giant
who lay on the floor. "I shall know better in future; in future I will
not blow away the poor man's corn. But, good man, there is no need
for thee to seek the Wind in the open steppe, for I myself am the
Wind."--"Then if thou art the Wind," said the man, "give me back my
corn."--"Nay," said the giant; "thou canst not make the dead come back
from the grave. Yet, inasmuch as I have done thee a mischief, I will
now give thee this sack, good man, and do thou take it home with
thee. And whenever thou wantest a meal say, 'Sack, sack, give me to
eat and drink!' and immediately thou shalt have thy fill both of
meat and drink, so now thou wilt have wherewithal to comfort thy
wife and children."

[6] Pokute, the place of honour in a Ruthenian peasant's hut, at
the right-hand side of the entrance.

Then the man was full of gratitude. "I thank thee, O Wind!" said he,
"for thy courtesy in giving me such a sack as will give me my fill of
meat and drink without the trouble of working for it."--"For a lazy
loon, 'twere a double boon," said the Wind. "Go home, then, but look
now, enter no tavern by the way; I shall know it if thou dost."--"No,"
said the man, "I will not." And then he took leave of the Wind and
went his way.

He had not gone very far when he passed by a tavern, and he felt a
burning desire to find out whether the Wind had spoken the truth in
the matter of the sack. "How can a man pass a tavern without going
into it?" thought he; "I'll go in, come what may. The Wind won't
know, because he can't see." So he went into the tavern and hung up
his sack upon a peg. The Jew who kept the tavern immediately said to
him, "What dost thou want, good man?"--"What is that to thee, thou
dog?" said the man.--"You are all alike," sneered the Jew, "take what
you can, and pay for nothing."--"Dost think I want to buy anything
from thee?" shrieked the man; then, turning angrily to the sack, he
cried, "Sack, sack, give me to eat and drink!" Immediately the table
was covered with all sorts of meats and liquors. Then all the Jews in
the tavern crowded round full of amazement, and asked all manner of
questions. "Why, what is this, good man?" said they; "never have we
seen anything like this before!"--"Ask no questions, ye accursed
Jews!" cried the man, "but sit down to eat, for there is enough for
all." So the Jews and the Jewesses set to and ate until they were full
up to the ears; and they drank the man's health in pitchers of wine of
every sort, and said, "Drink, good man, and spare not, and when thou
hast drunk thy fill thou shalt lodge with us this night. We'll make
ready a bed for thee. None shall vex thee. Come now, eat and drink
whatever thy soul desires." So the Jews flattered him with devilish
cunning, and almost forced the wine-jars to his lips.

The simple fellow did not perceive their malice and cunning, and he
got so drunk that he could not move from the place, but went to sleep
where he was. Then the Jews changed his sack for another, which they
hung up on a peg, and then they woke him. "Dost hear, fellow!" cried
they; "get up, it is time to go home. Dost thou not see the morning
light?" The man sat up and scratched the back of his head, for he was
loath to go. But what was he to do? So he shouldered the sack that was
hanging on the peg, and went off home.

When he got to his house, he cried, "Open the door, wife!" Then his
wife opened the door, and he went in and hung his sack on the peg and
said, "Sit down at the table, dear wife, and you children sit down
there too. Now, thank God! we shall have enough to eat and drink,
and to spare." The wife looked at her husband and smiled. She thought
he was mad, but down she sat, and her children sat down all round
her, and she waited to see what her husband would do next. Then
the man said, "Sack, sack, give to us meat and drink!" But the sack
was silent. Then he said again, "Sack, sack, give my children
something to eat!" And still the sack was silent. Then the man fell
into a violent rage. "Thou didst give me something at the tavern,"
cried he; "and now I may call in vain. Thou givest nothing, and thou
hearest nothing"--and, leaping from his seat, he took up a club
and began beating the sack till he had knocked a hole in the wall,
and beaten the sack to bits. Then he set off to seek the Wind again.
But his wife stayed at home and put everything to rights again,
railing and scolding at her husband as a madman.

But the man went to the Wind and said, "Hail to thee, O Wind!"--"Good
health to thee, O man!" replied the Wind. Then the Wind asked,
"Wherefore hast thou come hither, O man? Did I not give thee a sack?
What more dost thou want?"--"A pretty sack indeed!" replied the man;
"that sack of thine has been the cause of much mischief to me and
mine."--"What mischief has it done thee?"--"Why, look now, old
father, I'll tell thee what it has done. It wouldn't give me anything
to eat and drink, so I began beating it, and beat the wall in. Now
what shall I do to repair my crazy hut? Give me something, old
father."--But the Wind replied, "Nay, O man, thou must do without.
Fools are neither sown nor reaped, but grow of their own accord--hast
thou not been into a tavern?"--"I have not," said the man.--"Thou hast
not? Why wilt thou lie?"--"Well, and suppose I did lie?" said the man;
"if thou suffer harm through thine own fault, hold thy tongue about
it, that's what I say. Yet it is all the fault of thy sack that this
evil has come upon me. If it had only given me to eat and to drink, I
should not have come to thee again." At this the Wind scratched his
head a bit, but then he said, "Well then, thou man! there's a little
ram for thee, and whenever thou dost want money say to it, 'Little
ram, little ram, scatter money!' and it will scatter money as much as
thou wilt. Only bear this in mind: go not into a tavern, for if thou
dost, I shall know all about it; and if thou comest to me a third
time, thou shalt have cause to remember it for ever."--"Good," said
the man, "I won't go."--Then he took the little ram, thanked the Wind,
and went on his way.

So the man went along leading the little ram by a string, and they
came to a tavern, that very same tavern where he had been before, and
again a strong desire came upon the man to go in. So he stood by the
door and began thinking whether he should go in or not, and whether he
had any need to find out the truth about the little ram. "Well, well,"
said he at last, "I'll go in, only this time I won't get drunk. I'll
drink just a glass or so, and then I'll go home." So into the tavern
he went, dragging the little ram after him, for he was afraid to let
it go.

Now, when the Jews who were inside there saw the little ram, they
began shrieking and said, "What art thou thinking of, O man! that thou
bringest that little ram into the room? Are there no barns outside
where thou mayst put it up?"--"Hold your tongues, ye accursed
wretches!" replied the man; "what has it got to do with you? It is not
the sort of ram that fellows like you deal in. And if you don't
believe me, spread a cloth on the floor and you shall see something, I
warrant you."--Then he said, "Little ram, little ram, scatter money!"
and the little ram scattered so much money that it seemed to grow, and
the Jews screeched like demons.--"O man, man!" cried they, "such a ram
as that we have never seen in all our days. Sell it to us! We will
give thee such a lot of money for it."--"You may pick up all that
money, ye accursed ones," cried the man, "but I don't mean to sell my

Then the Jews picked up the money, but they laid before him a table
covered with all the dishes that a man's heart may desire, and they
begged him to sit down and make merry, and said with true Jewish
cunning, "Though thou mayst get a little lively, don't get drunk, for
thou knowest how drink plays the fool with a man's wits."--The man
marvelled at the straightforwardness of the Jews in warning him
against the drink, and, forgetting everything else, sat down at table
and began drinking pot after pot of mead, and talking with the Jews,
and his little ram went clean out of his head. But the Jews made him
drunk, and laid him in the bed, and changed rams with him; his they
took away, and put in its place one of their own exactly like it.

When the man had slept off his carouse, he arose and went away, taking
the ram with him, after bidding the Jews farewell. When he got to his
hut he found his wife in the doorway, and the moment she saw him
coming, she went into the hut and cried to her children, "Come,
children! make haste, make haste! for daddy is coming, and brings a
little ram along with him; get up, and look sharp about it! An evil
year of waiting has been the lot of wretched me, but he has come home
at last."

The husband arrived at the door and said, "Open the door, little wife;
open, I say!"--The wife replied, "Thou art not a great nobleman, so
open the door thyself. Why dost thou get so drunk that thou dost not
know how to open a door? It's an evil time that I spend with thee.
Here we are with all these little children, and yet thou dost go away
and drink."--Then the wife opened the door, and the husband walked
into the hut and said, "Good health to thee, dear wife!"--But the wife
cried, "Why dost thou bring that ram inside the hut, can't it stay
outside the walls?"--"Wife, wife!" said the man, "speak, but don't
screech. Now we shall have all manner of good things, and the children
will have a fine time of it."--"What!" said the wife, "what good can
we get from that wretched ram? Where shall we get the money to find
food for it? Why, we've nothing to eat ourselves, and thou dost saddle
us with a ram besides. Stuff and nonsense! I say."--"Silence, wife,"
replied the husband; "that ram is not like other rams, I tell
thee."--"What sort is it, then?" asked his wife.--"Don't ask
questions, but spread a cloth on the floor and keep thine eyes
open."--"Why spread a cloth?" asked the wife.--"Why?" shrieked the man
in a rage; "do what I tell thee, and hold thy tongue."--But the wife
said, "Alas, alas! I have an evil time of it. Thou dost nothing at all
but go away and drink, and then thou comest home and dost talk
nonsense, and bringest sacks and rams with thee, and knockest down our
little hut."--At this the husband could control his rage no longer,
but shrieked at the ram, "Little ram, little ram, scatter money!"--But
the ram only stood there and stared at him. Then he cried again,
"Little ram, little ram, scatter money!"--But the ram stood there
stock-still and did nothing. Then the man in his anger caught up a
piece of wood and struck the ram on the head, but the poor ram only
uttered a feeble baa! and fell to the earth dead.

The man was now very much offended and said, "I'll go to the Wind
again, and I'll tell him what a fool he has made of me." Then he took
up his hat and went, leaving everything behind him. And the poor wife
put everything to rights, and reproached and railed at her husband.

So the man came to the Wind for the third time and said, "Wilt thou
tell me, please, if thou art really the Wind or no?"--"What's the
matter with thee?" asked the Wind.--"I'll tell thee what's the
matter," said the man; "why hast thou laughed at and mocked me and
made such a fool of me?"--"I laugh at thee!" thundered the old
father as he lay there on the floor and turned round on the other ear;
"why didst thou not hold fast what I gave thee? Why didst thou not
listen to me when I told thee not to go into the tavern, eh?"--"What
tavern dost thou mean?" asked the man proudly; "as for the sack and
the ram thou didst give me, they only did me a mischief; give me
something else."--"What's the use of giving thee anything?" said the
Wind; "thou wilt only take it to the tavern. Out of the drum, my
twelve henchmen!" cried the Wind, "and just give this accursed
drunkard a good lesson that he may keep his throat dry and listen a
little more to old people!"--Immediately twelve henchmen leaped out of
his drum and began giving the man a sound thrashing. Then the man saw
that it was no joke and begged for mercy. "Dear old father Wind,"
cried he, "be merciful, and let me get off alive. I'll not come to
thee again though I should have to wait till the Judgment Day, and
I'll do all thy behests."--"Into the drum, my henchmen!" cried the
Wind.--"And now, O man!" said the Wind, "thou mayst have this drum
with the twelve henchmen, and go to those accursed Jews, and if they
will not give thee back thy sack and thy ram, thou wilt know what to

So the man thanked the Wind for his good advice, and went on his way.
He came to the inn, and when the Jews saw that he brought nothing with
him they said, "Hearken, O man! don't come here, for we have no
brandy."--"What do I want with your brandy?" cried the man in a
rage.--"Then for what hast thou come hither?"--"I have come for my
own."--"Thy own," said the Jews; "what dost thou mean?"--"What do I
mean?" roared the man; "why, my sack and my ram, which you must give
up to me."--"What ram? What sack?" said the Jews; "why, thou didst
take them away from here thyself."--"Yes, but you changed them," said
the man.--"What dost thou mean by changed?" whined the Jews; "we will
go before the magistrate, and thou shalt hear from us about
this."--"You will have an evil time of it if you go before the
magistrate," said the man; "but at any rate, give me back my own." And
he sat down upon a bench. Then the Jews caught him by the shoulders to
cast him out and cried, "Be off, thou rascal! Does any one know where
this man comes from? No doubt he is an evil-doer." The man could not
stand this, so he cried, "Out of the drum, my henchmen! and give the
accursed Jews a sound drubbing, that they may know better than to take
in honest folk!" and immediately the twelve henchmen leaped out of the
drum and began thwacking the Jews finely.--"Oh, oh!" roared the Jews;
"oh, dear, darling, good man, we'll give thee whatever thou dost want,
only leave off beating us! Let us live a bit longer in the world, and
we will give thee back everything."--"Good!" said the man, "and
another time you'll know better than to deceive people." Then he
cried, "Into the drum, my henchmen!" and the henchmen disappeared,
leaving the Jews more dead than alive. Then they gave the man his sack
and his ram, and he went home, but it was a long, long time before the
Jews forgot those henchmen.

So the man went home, and his wife and children saw him coming from
afar. "Daddy is coming home now with a sack and a ram!" said she;
"what shall we do? We shall have a bad time of it, we shall have
nothing left at all. God defend us poor wretches! Go and hide
everything, children." So the children hastened away, but the husband
came to the door and said, "Open the door!"--"Open the door thyself,"
replied the wife.--Again the husband bade her open the door, but she
paid no heed to him. The man was astonished. This was carrying a joke
too far, so he cried to his henchmen, "Henchmen, henchmen! out of the
drum, and teach my wife to respect her husband!" Then the henchmen
leaped out of the drum, laid the good wife by the heels, and began to
give her a sound drubbing. "Oh, my dear, darling husband!" shrieked
the wife, "never to the end of my days will I be sulky with thee
again. I'll do whatever thou tellest me, only leave off beating
me."--"Then I have taught thee sense, eh?" said the man.--"Oh, yes,
yes, good husband!" cried she. Then the man said: "Henchmen, henchmen!
into the drum!" and the henchmen leaped into it again, leaving the
poor wife more dead than alive.

Then the husband said to her, "Wife, spread a cloth upon the floor."
The wife scudded about as nimbly as a fly, and spread a cloth out on
the floor without a word. Then the husband said, "Little ram, little
ram, scatter money!" And the little ram scattered money till there
were piles and piles of it. "Pick it up, my children," said the man,
"and thou too, wife, take what thou wilt!"--And they didn't wait to be
asked twice. Then the man hung up his sack on a peg and said, "Sack,
sack, meat and drink!" Then he caught hold of it and shook it, and
immediately the table was as full as it could hold with all manner of
victuals and drink. "Sit down, my children, and thou too, dear wife,
and eat thy fill. Thank God, we shall now have no lack of food, and
shall not have to work for it either."

So the man and his wife were very happy together, and were never tired
of thanking the Wind. They had not had the sack and the ram very long
when they grew very rich, and then the husband said to the wife, "I
tell thee what, wife!"--"What?" said she.--"Let us invite my brother
to come and see us."--"Very good," she replied; "invite him, but dost
thou think he'll come?"--"Why shouldn't he?" asked her husband. "Now,
thank God, we have everything we want. He wouldn't come to us when we
were poor and he was rich, because then he was ashamed to say that I
was his brother, but now even he hasn't got so much as we have."

So they made ready, and the man went to invite his brother. The poor
man came to his rich brother and said, "Hail to thee, brother; God
help thee!"--Now the rich brother was threshing wheat on his
threshing-floor, and, raising his head, was surprised to see his
brother there, and said to him haughtily, "I thank thee. Hail to
thee also! Sit down, my brother, and tell us why thou hast come
hither."--"Thanks, my brother, I do not want to sit down. I have come
hither to invite thee to us, thee and thy wife."--"Wherefore?"
asked the rich brother.--The poor man said, "My wife prays thee, and
I pray thee also, to come and dine with us of thy courtesy."--"Good!"
replied the rich brother, smiling secretly. "I will come whatever
thy dinner may be."

So the rich man went with his wife to the poor man, and already from
afar they perceived that the poor man had grown rich. And the poor
man rejoiced greatly when he saw his rich brother in his house. And
his tongue was loosened, and he began to show him everything,
whatsoever he possessed. The rich man was amazed that things were
going so well with his brother, and asked him how he had managed
to get on so. But the poor man answered, "Don't ask me, brother. I
have more to show thee yet." Then he took him to his copper money,
and said, "There are my oats, brother!" Then he took and showed
him his silver money, and said, "That's the sort of barley I thresh
on my threshing-floor!" And, last of all, he took him to his gold
money, and said, "There, my dear brother, is the best wheat I've
got."--Then the rich brother shook his head, not once nor twice,
and marvelled at the sight of so many good things, and he said,
"Wherever didst thou pick up all this, my brother?"--"Oh! I've more
than that to show thee yet. Just be so good as to sit down on that
chair, and I'll show and tell thee everything."

Then they sat them down, and the poor man hung up his sack upon a peg.
"Sack, sack, meat and drink!" he cried, and immediately the table was
covered with all manner of dishes. So they ate and ate, till they were
full up to the ears. When they had eaten and drunken their fill, the
poor man called to his son to bring the little ram into the hut. So
the lad brought in the ram, and the rich brother wondered what they
were going to do with it. Then the poor man said, "Little ram, scatter
money!" And the little ram scattered money, till there were piles and
piles of it on the floor. "Pick it up!" said the poor man to the rich
man and his wife. So they picked it up, and the rich brother and his
wife marvelled, and the brother said, "Thou hast a very nice piece of
goods there, brother. If I had only something like that I should lack
nothing;" then, after thinking a long time, he said, "Sell it to me,
my brother."--"No," said the poor man, "I will not sell it."--After a
little time, however, the rich brother said again, "Come now! I'll
give thee for it six yoke of oxen, and a plough, and a harrow, and a
hay-fork, and I'll give thee besides, lots of corn to sow, thus thou
wilt have plenty, but give me the ram and the sack." So at last they
exchanged. The rich man took the sack and the ram, and the poor man
took the oxen and went out to the plough.

Then the poor brother went out ploughing all day, but he neither
watered his oxen nor gave them anything to eat. And next day the poor
brother again went out to his oxen, but found them rolling on their
sides on the ground. He began to pull and tug at them, but they didn't
get up. Then he began to beat them with a stick, but they uttered not
a sound. The man was surprised to find them fit for nothing, and off
he ran to his brother, not forgetting to take with him his drum with
the henchmen.

When the poor brother came to the rich brother's, he lost no time in
crossing his threshold, and said, "Hail, my brother!"--"Good health to
thee also!" replied the rich man, "why hast thou come hither? Has thy
plough broken, or thy oxen failed thee? Perchance thou hast watered
them with foul water, so that their blood is stagnant, and their flesh
inflamed?"--"The murrain take 'em if I know thy meaning!" cried the
poor brother. "All that I know is that I thwacked 'em till my arms
ached, and they wouldn't stir, and not a single grunt did they give;
till I was so angry that I spat at them, and came to tell thee. Give
me back my sack and my ram, I say, and take back thy oxen, for they
won't listen to me!"--"What! take them back!" roared the rich brother.
"Dost think I only made the exchange for a single day? No, I gave them
to thee once and for all, and now thou wouldst rip the whole thing up
like a goat at the fair. I have no doubt thou hast neither watered
them nor fed them, and that is why they won't stand up."--"I didn't
know," said the poor man, "that oxen needed water and food."--"Didn't
know!" screeched the rich man, in a mighty rage, and taking the poor
brother by the hand, he led him away from the hut. "Go away," said he,
"and never come back here again, or I'll have thee hanged on a
gallows!"--"Ah! what a big gentleman we are!" said the poor brother;
"just thou give me back my own, and then I will go away."--"Thou hadst
better not stop here," said the rich brother; "come, stir thy stumps,
thou pagan! Go home ere I beat thee!"--"Don't say that," replied the
poor man, "but give me back my ram and my sack, and then I will
go."--At this the rich brother quite lost his temper, and cried to his
wife and children, "Why do you stand staring like that? Can't you come
and help me to pitch this insolent rogue out of the house?" This,
however, was something beyond a joke, so the poor brother called to
his henchmen, "Henchmen, henchmen! out of the drum, and give this
brother of mine and his wife a sound drubbing, that they may think
twice about it another time before they pitch a poor brother out of
their hut!" Then the henchmen leaped out of the drum, and laid hold of
the rich brother and his wife, and trounced them soundly, until the
rich brother yelled with all his might, "Oh, oh! my own true brother,
take what thou wilt, only let me off alive!" whereupon the poor
brother cried to his henchmen, "Henchmen, henchmen! into the drum!"
and the henchmen disappeared immediately.

Then the poor brother took his ram and his sack, and set off home with
them. And they lived happily ever after, and grew richer and richer.
They sowed neither wheat nor barley, and yet they had lots and lots to
eat. And I was there, and drank mead and beer. What my mouth couldn't
hold ran down my beard. For you, there's a kazka, but there be fat
hearth-cakes for me the asker. And if I have aught to eat, thou shalt
share the treat.

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