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The Complete Folktales of A. N. Afanas’ev

The Complete Folktales of A. N. Afanas’ev: Volume I

Edited by Jack V. Haney
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 560
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  • Book Info
    The Complete Folktales of A. N. Afanas’ev
    Book Description:

    The folktales of A. N. Afanas'ev represent the largest single collection of folktales in any European language and perhaps in the world. Widely regarded as the Russian Grimm, Afanas'ev collected folktales from throughout the Russian Empire in what are now regarded as the three East Slavic languages, Byelorusian, Russian, and Ukrainian. The result of his own collecting, the collecting of friends and correspondents, and in a few cases his publishing of works from earlier and forgotten collections is truly phenomenal. In his lifetime, Afanas'ev published more than 575 tales in his most popular and best known work,Narodnye russkie skazki. In addition to this basic collection he prepared a volume of Russian legends, many on religious themes, an anthology of mildly obscene tales, and voluminous writings on Slavic folk life and Slavic mythology. His works were subject to the strict censorship of ecclesiastical and state authorities that lasted until the demise of the Soviet Union at the end of the twentieth century. Overwhelmingly, his particular emendations were of a stylistic nature, while those of the censors mostly concerned content. The censored tales are generally not included.

    Up to now, there has been no complete English-language version of the Russian folktales of Afanas'ev. This translation is based on L. G. Barag and N. V. Novikov's edition (Moscow: Nauka, 1984-1986), widely regarded as the authoritative edition. The present edition includes commentaries to each tale as well as its international classification number.

    eISBN: 978-1-62674-054-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-X)
    (pp. XI-XII)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. XIII-XIV)
  5. INTRODUCTION A. N. Afanas’ev: His Life and Works
    (pp. XV-XXXII)

    Aleksandr Nikolaevich Afanas’ev was born in theguberniia(province) of Voronezh, located southeast of Moscow, on 12 July 1826. His father was a minor court official in the small town of Boguchar. His mother died when Aleksandr was an infant, and his father, a domineering figure, oversaw his son’s upbringing. The family had limited resources, and Afanas’ev later stated that though his father was brought up “on coppers” (na mednye dengi), Nikolai Ivanovich Afanas’ev was a respected man in the Boguchar district. He was educated and frequently consulted on legal matters, and he subscribed to several of the leading monthly...

    (pp. XXXIII-XXXIV)
    (pp. XXXV-2)

    This translation of A. N. Af anas’ev’sNarodnye russkie skazkiis based on the 1984–86 edition, edited by L. G. Barag and N. V. Novikov and published by the academic publishing house Nauka in Moscow. Scrupulously edited and accurately presented in three volumes in the series “Literaturnye pamiatniki,” the Barag-Novikov edition continues the careful treatment Russian scholars have long accorded Afanas’ev’s work.

    I have endeavored to present a fair and accurate translation of the texts into English while fully aware of the inconsistencies in my work, which has taken place over a long period of time. Transliterations generally follow...

  8. The Tales

    • Little Sister Fox and the Wolf
      (pp. 3-15)

      There lived then an old man and his woman. The old man said to the woman: “Woman, you go bake some pies, and I’ll go after some fish.” He caught a lot of fish and was carrying a whole cart home. Then as he rode along, he saw a vixen curled up like a pastry and lying in the road. The old man climbed down from his cart, went up to the vixen, and she didn’t move, she lay there as if dead. “Here’s a gift for the wife,” the old man said, and he took the vixen and laid...

    • For a Bast Boot, a Hen—For the Hen, a Goose
      (pp. 16-16)

      A fox was walking along the road and found a bast boot. She came to this peasant’s and asked, “Master, let me in to spend the night.” He said, “There’s no room, foxy! It’s crowded.” “But do I need a lot of room? I’ll go on a bench and my tail under the bench.” They let her in to spend the night. She said, “Put my bast boot in with your chickens.” They did so, and in the night the fox got up and threw her bast boot away. In the morning they all got up, and she asked for...

    • The Fox Midwife
      (pp. 17-24)

      There were living and dwelling together a couple of friends, a wolf and a fox. They had this barrel of honey. Now the fox really liked sweets. The friends were lying in their hut, and the fox stealthily knocked with her tail. “Friend, oh friend,” said the wolf. “Someone’s knocking.” “Oh, you know, they’re calling me out to be a midwife!” murmured the fox. “Then off you go,” said the wolf. So she left the hut and went straight to that honey, licked up her fill, and came back. “And what did God grant?” asked the wolf. “A beginning,” answered...

    • The Fox, the Hare, and the Cock
      (pp. 25-26)

      There lived and dwelt a fox and hare. The fox had a little hut of ice, the hare one of bast. Beautiful spring came, and the fox’s hut melted away, while the hare’s remained there as of old. The fox asked the hare to let her in to get warm, and then she chased the hare away. The hare was walking down the road, crying, and it met some dogs.

      “Arf, arf, arf! Why are you crying, hare?”

      “Just leave me be, dogs! Why should I not cry? I had a little bast hut and the fox one of ice,...

    • The Fox Confessor
      (pp. 27-31)

      Once a fox wandered about the forest one long autumn night without eating a thing. At daybreak she ran into a village, entered the yard of a peasant, and climbed up onto a roost to the hens. She’d just crept up there and was about to seize a single hen, when the cock decided it was time to sing. Suddenly he flapped his wings, stamped his feet, and shouted out at the top of his lungs. The fox from fright flew off the roost, such that she lay in a fever for about three weeks.

      Then once the cock decided...

    • The Fox Healer
      (pp. 32-33)

      There lived and dwelt an old man and old woman. The old man planted a head of cabbage in the cellar, and the old woman in an ash heap. The old woman’s cabbage in the ash heap completely withered away, but the old man’s grew and grew, right up to the floor. The old man took an axe and cut out a hole in the floor just above the cabbage.

      Again the cabbage head grew and grew, and it grew right up to the ceiling. Again the old man took an axe and cut out a hole in the ceiling...

    • An Old Man Climbs Up to the Sky
      (pp. 34-34)

      There lived this old man and old woman. The old man rolled a single pea around. It fell onto the ground. They searched and searched for it, but couldn’t find it for a week. The week passed, and the old man and old woman saw that the pea had sprouted. They watered it, and the pea grew taller than their hut.

      The pea got ripe, and the old man climbed up it and picked a large bundle, and then he started climbing down the pea vine. He dropped his bundle and killed the old woman. That’s how it ended....

    • The Old Man in Heaven
      (pp. 35-35)

      There lived this old man and his woman and they had this hut. Under the table the old man planted a bean, and the woman planted a pea. A hen pecked the pea, but the bean grew right beneath that table. They moved the table, and it grew still higher. They took down the ceiling, then the roof—it kept on growing, and it grew right up to the sky. The old guy climbed up to the sky. He climbed and climbed. Up there was a hut, the walls made of bliny, the benches of buns, the stove of curd...

    • The Fox as Keener
      (pp. 36-37)

      There lived and dwelt this old man and old woman, and they had a daughter. Once she was eating some beans and dropped one on the ground. The bean grew and grew and grew, right up to the sky. The old man climbed up to the sky. When he got up there, he walked and walked about, taking everything in, admiring it all, and he said to himself, “I’ll bring the old woman up here. She’ll really enjoy it.” He climbed back down to earth, put the old woman in a sack, put the sack in his teeth, and started...

    • The Peasant, the Bear, and the Fox
      (pp. 38-43)

      A peasant was plowing his field, and a bear came up to him and said, “Peasant, I’m going to bash you in!” “No, don’t touch me; I’m sowing turnips and I’ll just take the roots for myself and give you the tops.” “Agreed,” said the bear, “but if you deceive me, don’t come into my woods again for firewood!” He said that, and then went off into a copse. Time passed. The peasant dug up the turnips, and the bear came out of the copse. “Well, peasant, let’s divide it up!” “Very well, little bear! Let me bring you the...

    • Old Hospitality Is Soon Forgotten
      (pp. 44-45)

      Once a lone wolf fell into a trap, but he somehow got out and started making his way to some out-of-the-way place. Some hunters saw him and started tracking him. The wolf had to cross the road, and just at that time a peasant was walking along that road from the field with a sack and flail. The lobo said to him, “Do me a favor, peasant, hide me in your sack! Hunters are chasing after me.” The peasant agreed, hid him in the sack, tied it up, and slung it onto his shoulders. He went on and soon met...

    • The Sheep, the Fox, and the Wolf
      (pp. 46-46)

      A peasant’s sheep ran away from the flock. It chanced to meet a fox, and the fox asked it, “Where, cousin, is God taking you?” “Oh, my friend! I was in this peasant’s flock and had no life. Whenever the ram played up, I, just a ewe, was guilty! So I decided to go off wherever my eyes might take me.” “I’m doing the same,” replied the fox. “Whenever my husband snatches a hen, I, the vixen, am the guilty one. Let’s run off together.” After a little while they met a lone wolf. “Good health, cousin!” “Greetings!” said the...

    • The Beasts in the Pit
      (pp. 47-50)

      A pig was going to Petersburg to pray to God. She chanced to meet a wolf.

      “Pig, oh pig, where are you going?”

      “To Petersburg, to pray to God.”

      “Take me with you!”

      “Let’s go, my friend!”

      They walked and walked, and then they met a fox:

      “Pig, oh pig, where are you going?”

      “Take me with you”

      “Come along, friend.”

      They walked and they walked, and they met a hare:

      “Pig, oh pig, where are you going?”

      “To Petersburg, to pray to God.”

      “Take me with you, too!”

      “Come along then, Cross-eyes!”

      Then a squirrel asked to go, and...

    • The Fox and the Grouse
      (pp. 51-51)

      A fox was running through the forest, and she saw a grouse in the tree and said, “Terentii, Terentii! I’ve just been to town.”

      “Boo-boo-boo, Boo-boo-boo. If you were, you were.” “Terentii, Terentii! I got an order!”

      “Boo-boo-boo, Boo-boo-boo. If you did, you did.”

      “It says no grouse is to sit in trees but must strut about in green meadows.”

      “Boo-boo-boo, Boo-boo-boo! So strut and strut.”

      “Terentii, who’s that coming here?” asked the fox, hearing a horse’s hoofs and a barking dog.

      “A peasant.”

      “Who’s that running after him?”

      “A colt.”

      “And how’s its tail?”

      “In a hook.”

      “Then farewell,...

    • The Fox and the Woodpecker
      (pp. 52-52)

      A woodpecker lived and dwelt in an oak. It had woven itself a little nest and laid three eggs and hatched out three chicks. A fox took to visiting it. Knock, knock with its big tail on the damp, old oak:

      “Woodpecker, woodpecker! Climb down here from that oak. I have to bend that oak ‘sechikhichiki.’”¹

      “Oh, foxy! You haven’t let me hatch out even one baby.” “Oh, woodpecker! Toss down one of them and I’ll teach him to be a smith!”

      The woodpecker threw one down, and the fox—from bush to bush, from grove to grove—and she...

    • The Fox and the Crane
      (pp. 53-53)

      A fox and a crane became friends. They were even godparents for the same child!

      Then once, the fox decided to entertain the crane, and she went to invite it to be her guest. “Come, my friend, come, my dearest! How well I’ll entertain you!” The crane went to the feast as invited. The fox had boiled up some semolina and spread it out on a dish. She gave it to the crane and entreated it, “Eat, my dear friend! I cooked it myself!” The crane pecked and pecked with its bill, but couldn’t pick anything up! Meanwhile, the fox...

    • Snow Maiden and the Fox
      (pp. 54-55)

      There lived and dwelt an old man and his old woman, and they had this granddaughter, Snow Maiden. All her girl friends got together to go into the forest to pick berries, and they came to invite her to go along with them. For a long time, the old folks wouldn’t agree, but after much begging they let Snow Maiden go and told her not to lag behind her friends. Walking through the forest and picking berries, tree-by-tree and bush-by-bush, Snow Maiden got separated from her friends. They called out to her and called out, but Snow Maiden didn’t hear...

    • The Fox and the Crayfish
      (pp. 56-56)

      A fox and a crayfish were standing next to each other and talking. The fox said to the crayfish, “Let’s race.” The crayfish: “Why not, fox, let’s do it!”

      They started their race. The moment the fox began running, the crayfish grabbed hold of the fox’s tail. The fox ran to the finish line, but the crayfish didn’t let go. The fox turned around to take a look, and turned her tail. The crayfish let go and said, “I’ve been waiting here for you for some time.”...

    • The Bun
      (pp. 57-58)

      There lived and dwelt an old man and his old woman. The old man asked, “Bake me a bun, old woman!” “And what would I bake it from? There’s no flour.” “Oh, old woman! Scrape around the barrel, sweep out the bin; maybe you’ll find enough flour.”

      The old woman took a feather duster and scraped out the barrel and swept out the bin, and got about two handfuls of flour. She mixed it with sour cream, fried it in butter, and placed it on the windowsill to cool.

      The bun lay there, lay there for a while, and then...

    • The Tomcat, the Cock, and the Fox
      (pp. 59-63)

      There lived and dwelt this old man, and he had a tomcat and a cock. The old man went away to the woods to work, the tomcat brought him his food, and the cock remained behind to guard the house. Just then, up came a fox.

      Cock-a-doodle-doo, cock,

      Cock with the golden comb!

      Look out the window,

      I’ll give you a pea.

      That’s what the fox sang, sitting beneath the window. The cock opened the window, stuck out its head and looked. Who was that singing? The fox grabbed the cock in its claws and carried it off to be...

    • The Tomcat and the Fox
      (pp. 64-69)

      There lived and dwelt this peasant. He had a cat, but here’s the misfortune: It was a loser. The peasant got tired of it. The peasant thought and thought, then took the cat, put it in a sack, tied it up, and carried it into the woods. He got to the woods and tossed it there; let it perish! The tom walked and walked about and came upon a hut in which a forester was living. He climbed up into the attic and stretched himself out. Whenever he wanted to eat, he’d go through the woods, catching mice and birds,...

    • The Frightened Bear and Wolves
      (pp. 70-77)

      There lived an old man and old woman, and they had a tomcat and a ram. The old woman was separating the cream from the milk to churn butter, and the cat pinched some of it. “Old man,” said the old woman, “things aren’t quite right in our cellar.” “We’ll have to take a look,” the old man said to her. “Perhaps someone from outside is stealing things.” So the old woman went to the cellar and looked. The cat was just moving the lid from the pot with its paw and licking some cream. She chased the cat out...

    • The Bear, the Fox, the Gadfly, and the Peasant
      (pp. 78-79)

      There lived and dwelt this peasant, and he had a dappled horse. The peasant harnessed it to a cart and set off for the forest to cut wood. He had just got into the forest, when a big bear came up to him. He greeted the peasant and asked, “Tell me, peasant, who dappled your horse? It’s such a speckled and fine one!” “Oh, brother Mishka!” said the peasant, “I colored it that way myself.” “Do you really know how to dapple?” “Who? Me? I’m already such a past master of it. If I wished, I could probably make you...

    • The Wolf
      (pp. 80-80)

      There lived this old man and old woman. They had five sheep, a sixth was a stallion, the seventh a calf. A wolf came and started singing this song:

      There lived this man.

      His house among bushes;

      He has five sheep,

      A sixth a stallion,

      A seventh a calf.

      The old woman said to the old man, “Oh, what a fine song! Old man, give it a sheep.” The old man gave it to the wolf, the wolf ate it, and came once more with the same song. And this went on until such time as he had eaten the...

    • The Sow and the Wolf
      (pp. 81-81)

      There lived this old man, and an old woman lived with him. The old man and the old woman had no son, no daughter. They had for stock just a sharp-snouted sow. And then this sow took to leaving the yard by the back gates. The devil took her, and off to someone else’s strip of land, into the oats.

      A wolf came running over there and fell silent. It grabbed the sow by her bristles, dragged her off beyond the fence, and tore her to bits. And with that the tale is ended.

      There was this old sow, and...

    • The Wolf and the Goat
      (pp. 82-84)

      There lived and dwelt this goat, and it made a hut for itself in the forest and gave birth to children. The goat often went into a forest to search for food. Whenever she would leave, the kids would lock up the hut, and they themselves never went out. The nanny would return, knock on the door, and sing out, “My little kiddies, my children! Open up, unlock the door! I, the nanny goat, have been in the forest. I ate the silken grass and drank the cold water. Milk is running out of my udder, from my udder to...

    • The Wolf Is a Fool
      (pp. 85-88)

      In this one village there lived and dwelt a peasant and he had a dog. The dog had guarded his house since it was young, but then came difficult old age, and it ceased barking. The master grew tired of the dog. So then he got ready, took a rope, fastened it to the dog’s neck, and led it into the forest. He led it to an aspen and was about to strangle it, when he saw that bitter tears were flowing over the muzzle of the old dog, and he took pity. He relented and tied the dog to...

    • The Bear
      (pp. 89-90)

      There lived and dwelt this old man and old woman. They had no children. The old woman said to the old man, “Old man, go get some firewood.” The old man went out after the firewood. He chanced to meet a bear, and the bear said, “Old man, let’s wrestle.” The old man went and chopped off the bear’s paw with his axe. Then he went home with the paw and gave it to the old woman: “Cook up the bear’s paw, old woman.” The old woman right away took and skinned it, sat down on it and began feeling...

    • The Bear, the Dog, and the Cat
      (pp. 91-93)

      A peasant lived by himself, and he had a good dog that had grown so old that it ceased to bark and guard the yard and barns. The peasant no longer wanted to feed it with bread, so he chased it away from the yard. The dog went off into the forest and lay down beneath a tree to expire.

      Suddenly a bear came along and asked, “What is this, hound, why have you lain down here?”

      “I came here to die from hunger! You see, this is the truth among people: While you’ve strength, they feed you and give...

    • The Goat
      (pp. 94-96)

      A billy goat sat there crying. He’d sent the goat after nuts; She’d gone off and disappeared. So the billy goat started singing:

      There’s no goat with the nuts,

      No goat with the red-hot ones!

      Fine then, goat! I’ll send the wolves against you.

      But the wolves wouldn’t go chase the goat:

      There’s no goat with the nuts,

      No goat with the red-hot ones!

      Fine then, wolves! I’ll send the bear against you.

      The bear wouldn’t go fight the wolves,

      The wolves wouldn’t go chase the goat:

      There’s no goat with the nuts,

      No goat with the red-hot ones!


    • A Tale about a Shedding Goat
      (pp. 97-98)

      A goat was near collapse, half its side had it shed! Listen, hear me out! There lived and dwelt this peasant, and he had a hare. So then, this peasant went into the steppe, and there he saw a goat lying there, half its side had it shed, the other half not. The peasant took pity on it, took it, and brought it home and put it next to the barn. When he had eaten dinner and rested, he went out to his garden, and the hare went with him. The goat then came out from under the barn and...

    • A Tale about a Certain One-Sided Ram
      (pp. 99-100)

      This one landowner had a lot of livestock. He slaughtered five sheep to make a sheepskin coat of their skins, and he prepared to sew up the coat. He summoned a tailor. ”Well,” he said, “sew me a coat.” The tailor measured and measured, and he saw that he was short half a sheepskin for the coat. “Too little skin, there’s not enough for the lapels,” he said. “We can solve that problem,” said the landowner, and he ordered a servant to take off the skin from one side of one of his rams. The servant did just what the...

    • The Beasts’ Winter Quarters
      (pp. 101-102)

      A bull was walking through the forest. He chanced to meet a ram. “Where are you going, ram?” asked the bull. “I’m searching for summer from winter,” said the ram. “Come with me!” So they set off together, and along the way they encountered a sow. “Where are you going, sow?” asked the bull. “I’m searching for summer from winter,” replied the sow. “Come with us!” So the three of them set off further. They encountered a goose. “Where are you going, goose?” asked the bull. “I’m searching for summer from winter,” replied the goose. So the goose went with...

    • The Bear and the Cock
      (pp. 103-103)

      This old man had a fool for a son. The son asked his father to let him get married.

      “If you won’t marry me off, I’ll smash up the stove.”

      “How can I marry you off? We’ve no money.”

      “There’s no money, but there’s the ox. Sell it for slaughter.”

      The ox heard this and ran off into the forest. Again the fool approached his father: “Marry me off, or I’ll smash up the stove.” His father said, “I’d be glad to marry you off, but there’s no money.” “There’s no money, but there is the ram. Sell it for...

    • The Dog and the Woodpecker
      (pp. 104-106)

      This peasant and his wife lived on, not knowing what work was. They had a dog, and the dog fed them and kept them in drink. But time passed, and the dog got old. How could it feed the peasant and his wife? It was itself nearly perishing from hunger. “Listen, old man,” said the wife, “take that dog, lead it out of the village, and chase it away. Let it go where it wants. It’s no longer of any use to us these days! There was a time when it fed us, and we kept it.” So the old...

    • The Cock and the Hen
      (pp. 107-107)

      This hen and cock lived together, and they once went into the forest after nuts. They came to a nut tree. The cock got into the nut tree to pluck the nuts and left the hen on the ground to gather them up. So then the cock tossed down a nut, and it caught the hen in the eye and knocked out her eye. The hen went off crying. Some boyars came along and asked,

      “Hen, oh hen! Why are you crying?”

      “The cock knocked out my eye.”

      “Cock, oh cock! For what reason did you knock out the hen’s...

    • The Death of the Cock
      (pp. 108-109)

      A hen and cock were walking about a priest’s threshing floor. The cock choked on a bean. The hen took pity and went to a stream to ask for some water. The stream said, “Go to the linden, ask for a leaf, and then I’ll give you some water. “Linden, linden! Give me a leaf. I’ll take the leaf to the stream, the stream will give some water, and I’ll carry it to the cock. The cock has choked on a bean. He doesn’t breathe, doesn’t sigh, and he’s lying there as if dead.”

      The linden said, “Go to a...

    • The Hen
      (pp. 110-112)

      There lived this old man and old woman, and they had this Tatar hen. She laid an egg in a back corner beneath a window. It was colorful, sharp, resilient, wise! She laid it on a shelf. A little mouse was walking by and nudged it with its little tail. The shelf fell, the egg broke. The old man cries, the old woman sobs. The stove is on fire, the roof of the hut trembles, the little granddaughter choked in the grief. The baker of communion breads walked by and asked why they were crying so. “We have this Tatar...

    • The Crane and the Heron
      (pp. 113-113)

      An owl was flying—a cheerful soul. So it flew and flew about and perched, twitched its tail about, looked from side to side, and then flew on. It flew and flew about and perched, twitched its tail about, looked from side to side …. That’s the pre-tale; the tale’s yet to come.

      In a swamp there lived and dwelt a crane and a heron. They built their huts at opposite ends. The crane found it tedious to live alone, so it decided to marry. “I’ll just go and court the heron!”

      The crane set off. Tap, tap! It’d waded...

    • The Crow and the Lobster
      (pp. 114-114)

      A crow was flying over and above the sea, and it looked and saw this lobster crawling along. It grabbed that lobster and carried it off to the forest, where it could settle down on some branch or other and have a tasty bite to eat. The lobster saw that it was to perish and said to the crow, “Hey crow, oh crow! I knew your old man and your mum! Fine folk, they were!” “Uh-huh,” replied the crow, not opening its mouth.

      “And I knew your brothers and sisters, what kind folk” “Uh, huh!”

      “They were really good folk,...

    • The Eagle and the Crow
      (pp. 115-115)

      There lived and dwelt in Rus this crow with nannies and nurses, with little children, with near neighbors. The swan-geese came and laid some eggs, and the crow began harassing them. It started stealing their eggs.

      A night owl chanced to fly past. It saw that Crow was harassing the big birds, and it flew straight to a gray eagle. It came and said, “Oh Father Gray Eagle! Give us a judgment against that rascally crow.” Gray Eagle sent his speedy envoy, the sparrow, to bring in the crow. The sparrow immediately flew off and seized the crow. It was...

    • The Gold Fish
      (pp. 116-118)

      In the sea, in the ocean, on the island Buian, there stood a tiny, tumbledown hut. In this hut there lived an old man and old woman. They lived in great poverty. The old man made a net and started going out to sea to catch fish. By this means he managed to obtain just enough to feed them each day. Once, the old man somehow threw out his net and began pulling it in, and it seemed to him heavy, much heavier than ever before. He could hardly pull it in. He looked: The net was empty. He’d caught...

    • The Greedy Old Woman
      (pp. 119-120)

      There lived an old man and an old woman. Once he went into the forest to chop wood. He sought out an old tree, raised his axe and was about to chop. The tree said to him, “Don’t chop me, peasant! Whatever you need, I’ll do it all.” “Well, make me rich.” “All right, go home and you will have more than enough of everything.” The old man returned home—a new hut, just like a full cup. He had scads of money, even grain for decades, and as to cows, horses, and sheep—you couldn’t count them in three...

    • The Tale of Ersh Ershovich, Bristleback’s Son
      (pp. 121-133)

      Restless little Ruff, pernicious little Ruff, wrangled his way onto a sledge with his little babies. He went to the River Kama, from the River Kama to the River Trosna, from the River Trosna to Lake Kuben, from Lake Kuben to Lake Rostov, and in this lake he asked to spend just one night. From one night two nights, from two nights two weeks, from two weeks two months, and from two months two years, and from two years he’s been living there thirty. He began frequenting the whole lake. He stuck it to both little and big fish. Then...

    • A Story about a Toothsome Pike
      (pp. 134-135)

      On the eve of St. John’s Day [June 23–JVH], pike was born in the Sheksna, and so large-toothed was this fish! God preserve us! The bream, the perch, the sticklebacks all gathered to take a look at pike and were amazed at such a marvel. At that time the waters of the Sheksna were roiled. A steamboat was crossing the river and nearly sank, and the beautiful maidens cavorting on the shores were scattered every which way. Such a large-toothed pike had been born. And it began growing not by the day, but by the hour. Every day it...

    • The Tower of the Fly
      (pp. 136-139)

      A fly built a tower. A creepy louse came:

      “Who’s that there in this tower? Who’s that there in this tall one?”

      “A woeful fly, and who are you?”

      “I’m a creepy louse.”

      Then up came a hopping flea:

      “Who’s that there in this tower? Who’s that there in this tall one?”

      “I, a woeful fly, and I, creepy louse.”

      Then there came a long-legged mosquito:

      “Who’s that there in this tower? Who’s that there in this tall one?”

      “I, a woeful fly, and I, creepy louse, and I, hopping flea.”

      Then came little Miss Mousie, the squeaker:

      “Who’s that...

    • The Spider
      (pp. 140-141)

      Years ago, in years past, one beautiful spring, in warm summer there occurred such a scandal, such a burden to the earth: Mosquitoes and midges swarmed, biting people, drawing warm blood. A spider appeared, a brave and good lad, and he began shaking his legs and weaving his webs, placing them on the paths and ways where the mosquitoes and midges flew. A dirty fly, a filthy insect, flew and nearly stumbled and fell into the spider’s web. The spider began beating the fly, killing it, grabbing it by the throat. The fly pleaded with the spider: “Oh Father Spider!...

    • The Bubble, the Straw, and the Bast Boot
      (pp. 142-142)

      There lived and dwelt a bubble, a straw, and a bast boot. They all went into the woods to cut firewood. They came to a river and didn’t know how to cross that river. The boot said to the bubble, “Bubble, let’s swim across on you!” “No, boot, it would be better for the straw to stretch from shore to shore, and we’ll cross on it.” The straw stretched out; the bast boot set off on it, but it broke. The boot fell into the water, and the bubble laughed and laughed—and then broke!

      Two old men were walking...

    • The Turnip
      (pp. 143-143)

      The old man sowed some turnips. He went to pull up a turnip. He grabbed hold of it. He pulled and pulled, but he couldn’t pull it out. The old man summoned the old woman. The old woman grabbed hold of the old man, the old man grabbed the turnip. They pulled and pulled but couldn’t pull it out. Their granddaughter came. Granddaughter grabbed the old woman, the old woman the old man, and the old man the turnip. They pulled and pulled, but couldn’t pull it out. Up came a pup. The pup grabbed the granddaughter, she the old...

    • Mushrooms
      (pp. 144-144)

      A mushroom conceived it. The pine mushroom, sitting beneath a little oak, gazing at all the other mushrooms, decided it. It gave the orders: “Come here, you boletes, come and fight me!”

      But the boletes refused: “We are noble lady mushrooms. We will not go to war!”

      “Come here, you saffron mushrooms, come and fight me!”

      But the mushrooms declined: “We are rich men, ill-equipped to go to war.”

      “Come here, you coral mushrooms, come and fight me!”

      But these coral mushrooms also refused: “We are gentlemen’s chefs. We do not go to war.”

      “Come here, you honey mushrooms, come...

    • Frost, Sun, and Wind
      (pp. 145-145)

      Once a man met Sun, Frost, and Wind along the road. And having encountered them, he gave them Christian greetings.¹ “And to whom are you giving this greeting?” Sun asked. “Not to me, for I’m not shining.” And then Frost said, “Perhaps to me and not you, because he’s not afraid as much of you as of me.” “That’s just a lie! It’s not true,” said Wind, finally. “That man greeted me and not you.”

      They started a disputation, they quarreled, and they nearly came to blows.

      “Well then, let’s ask him to whom he was giving this greeting: to...

    • Sun, Moon, and Raven Ravenson
      (pp. 146-147)

      There lived and dwelt an old man and an old woman, and they had three daughters. The old man went to the barn to fetch some meal. He took the meal and set off for his house, but in the bag there was a little hole. The meal dribbled out of the bag, and just kept on flowing out. He came home, and the old woman asked him, “Where’s the meal?” But the meal had all trickled out. The old man set off to collect it, and he said, “If the sun warmed, if the moon shone, if Raven Ravenson...

    • The Witch and the Sun’s Sister
      (pp. 148-150)

      In a certain tsardom, in a far off land, there lived and dwelt a tsar and his tsaritsa, and they had a son, Ivan Tsarevich, who had been unable to speak since birth. When he was twelve years old, he once went to the stables to his favorite groom. That groom always told him tales, and so now Ivan Tsarevich had come to hear some stories from him—but not what he heard from him!

      “Ivan Tsarevich!” said the groom. “Soon your mother will give birth to a daughter, a sister for you. She will be a horrible witch. She’ll...

    • The Vazuza and the Volga
      (pp. 151-151)

      The Volga and the Vazuza had long argued: Which one was cleverer, stronger, and more worthy of the greater honor? They argued and argued, but neither could out-argue the other, and so they decided on this step: “Let’s both lie down to sleep, and the one who first wakes up and gets first to the Caspian Sea, that one will be cleverer and stronger and more worthy of respect.” The Volga lay down to sleep, and so did the Vazuza. In the night, the Vazuza quietly got up and ran off from the Volga, chose its path, both straighter and...

    • Frost
      (pp. 152-157)

      There lived an old man and an old woman. They had three daughters. The old woman didn’t like the eldest daughter (she was a stepdaughter), often reproving her, waking her early, and making her do all the work. The girl fed and watered the stock, carried the wood and water into the hut, heated up the stove, made the festive costumes, swept the hut, and cleared everything up before sunrise. But the old woman was still dissatisfied with her, and she scolded Marfusha: “You’re so lazy, you’re such a sloven! And the grate isn’t quite right and isn’t standing there...

    • The Old Woman Who Griped
      (pp. 158-159)

      Day and night the old woman griped; you’d have to wonder whether her tongue didn’t ache! And it was always about her stepdaughter: She wasn’t clever, she wasn’t refined! Coming and going, standing and sitting—nothing was right, always just short of acceptable. From morning to evening the same old strings! The husband was tired of it. Everyone was so tired of it that they wanted to run away. The old man harnessed up his horse, wishing to go to take a load of millet to town, but the old woman yelled at him: “Take the stepdaughter along, at least...

    • Daughter and Stepdaughter
      (pp. 160-161)

      A peasant widower with a daughter married a widow, also with a daughter, and so they had these two stepdaughters. The stepmother was filled with hate and gave no rest to the old man: “Take your daughter into the forest to a lean-to! She’ll spin more there.” What was to be done? The peasant heeded his wife, took his daughter to the lean-to, and gave her a flint and steel, some tinder, and a little bag of groats. And he said, “Here’s for a fire. Don’t let it go out. Make yourself some porridge and sit there and spin—and...

    • The Mare’s Head
      (pp. 162-163)

      So then there lived this old man and his wife, and they had two daughters: One was the old man’s, the other his wife’s. Now, the old man’s wife was the kind that always got up early and did everything, but it was as if his wife’s daughter did nothing at all! So once the woman sent them spinning. “Go,” she said, “and spin a lot for me.” The old man’s daughter got up before dawn and spun and spun, but the woman’s daughter by evening had only spun a little. She hadn’t spun any more.

      In the morning, when...

    • Little Bitty Khavroshechka
      (pp. 164-165)

      You know that on earth there are good people and those who are not so good, and there are those who do not fear God and who know no shame. To the latter belonged Little Bitty Khavroshechka. She had been left an orphan when small. Some people took her in, fed her, and did not let her go out into the open, made her work every day, and simply wore her out. She set things out and cleared away, and answered for all and for everything.

      Her mistress had three grown daughters. The eldest was called One-eye, the middle one...

    • The Little Red Cow
      (pp. 166-168)

      In no certain tsardom, in no certain country, there lived and dwelt a tsar and his tsaritsa, and they had just one daughter, Maria Tsarevna. But when the tsaritsa died, the tsar took another wife, Yagishna.¹ Yagishna gave birth to two daughters. One had two eyes, but the second three. Her stepmother didn’t like Maria Tsarevna and sent her out to herd the little red cow, and she gave her a dried crust of bread.

      The tsarevna went out into the steppe, bowed down to the right leg of the little red cow Burenushka, and ate and drank her fill....

    • Baba Yaga
      (pp. 169-172)

      There lived and dwelt a man and his wife, and they brought a daughter into the world. Then the wife died. The man married another, and they in turn had a daughter. So then the wife didn’t like her stepdaughter; she gave her no peace. Our peasant thought and thought, and took his daughter off into the woods. They were riding through the woods, and they saw this hut on cock’s legs. So then the peasant said, “Hut, little hut! Stand with your rear to the woods and your front to me.” The little hut turned around.

      The peasant went...

    • Vasilisa the Beautiful
      (pp. 173-179)

      In a certain tsardom, there lived and dwelt a merchant. He’d been married for twelve years and only had the one daughter, Vasilisa the Beautiful. When her mother died, the little girl was eight years old. As she was dying, the merchant’s wife called her daughter to her, took a doll from under the blanket, gave it to her, and said: “Listen, Vasilisushka! Remember me, and fulfill my last words. I am dying and am leaving you my mother’s blessing and this doll. Always keep it with you, and show it to no one. And when some misfortune befalls you,...

    • Baba Yaga and the Midget
      (pp. 180-182)

      There lived and dwelt this old man and old woman. They had no children. No matter what they did, however much they prayed to God, the old woman still bore no child. Once the old man went into the woods hunting for mushrooms. Along the way, he encountered an old grandfather. “I know,” he said, “I know what you have in your thoughts. You keep on thinking about children. Go throughout your village and collect an egg from every household, and put the eggs to a setting hen. What will happen you’ll see for yourself!”

      The old man returned to...

    • Baba Yaga and the Nimble Youth
      (pp. 183-186)

      There lived this tomcat, a sparrow, and the third was a nimble youth. The cat and sparrow went off to cut wood, and they said to the nimble youth, “Keep care of the house and watch out. If that Baba Yaga comes and starts to count the spoons, don’t say anything. Be quiet!” “All right,” the nimble youth answered. The tom and the sparrow went away, and the nimble youth sat down on the stove behind the chimney. Suddenly Baba Yaga appeared, took the spoons, and counted: “This is tomcat’s spoon, this is sparrow’s spoon, and the third is the...

    • Ivashko and the Witch
      (pp. 187-196)

      There lived this old man and his woman, and they had one son, Ivashechko. They loved him so much that you can’t even describe it. So then, once Ivashechko asked his father and mother,

      “Let me go, I’d like to go fishing!”

      “What do you mean? You’re too small. You’d probably drown, or something.”

      “No, I won’t drown, and I’ll catch some fish for you. Let me!”

      The woman put a clean shirt on him, tied a red belt around him, and let Ivashechko go. He got into a boat and said:

      Boat, little boat, sail away!

      Boat, little boat,...

    • Tereshechka
      (pp. 197-199)

      This old man and old woman had a miserable life! They’d lived all their lives, but still had no children. In their youth they’d somehow managed, but they’d grown old, and there was no one to give them even a drink, so they grieved and wept. So they made a chunk of wood, wrapped it in swaddling clothes, put it in a cradle, and began rocking it and singing little lullabies to it. And in place of that block, a son, Tereshechka, began growing in those swaddling clothes, and a real little berry he was! The little boy grew and...

    • The Swan-Geese
      (pp. 200-201)

      There lived an old man and old woman. They had a daughter and a little son. “Daughter, Daughter!” said the mother. “We’re going out to work. We’ll bring you a bun, sew you a dress, and buy you a kerchief. But be clever, and take care of your little brother. Don’t go out of the yard.” The old folks left, and the daughter forgot what they had told her to do. She set her little brother down on the grass beneath the window, and she ran out into the street, played about, enjoyed herself. Then the swan-geese came, grabbed up...

    • Prince Danila Govorila
      (pp. 202-205)

      There lived and dwelt this old princess. She had a grown son and daughter, and so stocky, so fine they were! This wicked witch really disliked them: “How could I destroy them. How could I bring them to a bad end?” She thought and thought about it. So she turned herself into a fox, and went to their mother and said, “My dear little friend, my little dove! Here’s a ring for you. Put it on your son’s finger and it will make him rich and generous. Only he mustn’t take it off and must marry the girl whose hand...

    • The Truth and the Lie
      (pp. 206-219)

      Well, you see, it was just such an affair, and I’ll tell you to your health. And not to the anger of your grace, but just to put it into words, to talk as we now are with you, as to how two of our brethren got overheated between themselves, two poor, ever so poor peasants. One of them lived somehow, striking out with every sort of injustice, capable, you see, of deceits, and thieving was his main occupation. And the other one, just listen, followed the path of truth, living out his days in labor. And because of this...

    • The Prince and His Uncle
      (pp. 220-228)

      There lived and dwelt this king, and he had an adolescent son. The prince was in every way good, good-looking and of a good disposition. But the father wasn’t so. Greed kept tormenting him to get more work out of his peasants and take in more rents. Once, he saw this old man with some sables and martens and beavers and foxes.

      “Wait right there, old man! Where are you from?”

      “I’m from such and such a village, Father, but I am now serving the old leshii, the spirit of the forest.”

      “And how do you catch these creatures?”


    • Ivan Tsarevich and Marfa Tsarevna
      (pp. 229-233)

      This one tsar had for many years kept this little man in prison—iron arms, cast iron head, himself copper, and very clever, but somehow pompous. The son to the tsar, Ivan Tsarevich, was little, but he would walk by the prison. The old man called the tsarevich over and begged him, “Give me a drink, Ivan Tsarevich!” Ivan Tsarevich still knew nothing—he was little. He dipped some water out and gave it to him. The old man was out of the prison in a flash; he was gone. The news came to the tsar. For this the tsar...

    • The Little Copper Man
      (pp. 234-238)

      There was this landlord, and he had three sons. Two were clever, but the third was a fool.

      It happened that someone was trampling the landlord’s wheat, and one day a good acre was eaten. The first night the landlord sent his oldest son to stand watch. He went there, sat and sat, and just before daybreak he fell asleep. And in the morning, when he got up, more wheat had been ruined. The next night the second son went, and he fell asleep just like the first son, before dawn—and something ate the wheat. The third night the...

    • The Merchant’s Daughter and Her Maid
      (pp. 239-242)

      There lived this really rich merchant. He had this one daughter, who was good-looking, really beautiful! This merchant took his goods to various provinces, and he once went to this tsardom to a tsar, and he brought him these fine goods and began giving them to him. The tsar had this conversation with him: “I wonder that I can’t find myself a bride.” So then the merchant said to this tsar, “I’ve a fine daughter, and she’s so fine that whatever a man thinks, she’ll find it out!” The tsar didn’t wait a minute, but wrote a letter and shouted...

    • The Three Tsardoms—Copper, Silver, and Gold
      (pp. 243-260)

      There used to be, there once lived—there lived and dwelt an old man and an old woman. They had three sons: Yegorushko the Unexpected, Misha the Pigeon-toed, and the third was Ivashko, who loved to lie behind the stove. So their father and mother decided to marry them off. They sent the biggest one to look for a bride, and he walked and walked, but couldn’t choose anyone. He didn’t like any of them. Then he met on the road a serpent with three heads, and he got frightened. But the serpent said to him, “Where are you off...

    • Frolka the Dropout
      (pp. 261-263)

      There lived and dwelt this tsar, and he had three daughters. And such beauties they were that you can’t describe them in a tale, or depict them with a pen. They loved to go strolling about in their garden of an evening, and that garden was large and glorious. But a Black Sea serpent took to flying there. Once the royal daughters tarried in the garden, admiring the flowers. Suddenly, out of nowhere, that Black Sea serpent appeared and carried them away on its fiery wings. The tsar waited and waited—no daughters! He sent servant girls to search for...

    • The Norka Beast
      (pp. 264-268)

      There lived this tsar and tsaritsa. They had three sons. Two were clever, but the third was a fool. The tsar had this animal park, in which he kept a great many various animals. There was one great beast that invaded this animal park, and they called it Norka. And it truly did a lot of damage. Every night it ate some animals. No matter what the tsar did, he couldn’t destroy it. So finally he summoned his sons and said, “Whoever destroys the Norka beast will receive half the tsardom.” So the eldest son took it on. When night...

    • Rollingpea
      (pp. 269-280)

      There lived this man and his wife, and they had two sons and a daughter. Their father sent the sons to plow. They said, “Who will bring us dinner?” Their father said, “The girl.” But the girl said, “I don’t know the way.” The brothers said, “When you go to the top of the hill, there’ll be three roads. There’ll be some wood shavings lying on one road, and you take that one.” A serpent watched the two brothers go and put shavings down on the road. It took the shavings, gathered them up, and tossed them on the road...

    • Ivan Popialov
      (pp. 281-283)

      Once there lived this old man and his wife, and they had three sons. Two were clever, but the third was a fool. He was named Ivan and nicknamed Popialov, Ivan of the Ashes. For twelve years he lay among the ashes of the stove, but then later he got up from the ashes and shook himself such that six poods of ash flew off him! In that tsardom where Ivan lived, there was no day, only night; a serpent had done this. So Ivan was called upon to destroy that serpent, and he said to his father, “Papa, make...

    • Storm-Bogatyr, Ivan the Cow’s Son
      (pp. 284-294)

      In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a king with his queen. They had no children, though they had lived together for up to ten years. So then the tsar sent out word to all the tsars, to all the cities, to all peoples, even to the common folk: Who was there who could cure her so that the queen became pregnant? The princes and the boyars, rich merchants and peasants gathered. The king fed them to their fill, got them all drunk, and then began his querying. No one knew, no one had a...

    • Ivan the Bull’s Son
      (pp. 295-303)

      In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a tsar and his tsaritsa. They had no children. They prayed to God to give them a child to gaze upon in youth and in old age to feed them. They prayed, lay down to sleep, and fell into a deep slumber.

      In their sleep, they dreamed that not far from the palace was a quiet pond, and in that pond a golden-finned ruff swam. If the tsaritsa were to eat it, she’d right away likely become pregnant. The tsar and tsaritsa woke up, summoned their nurses and...

    • Ivan the Peasant’s Son and the Little Man the Size of a Finger with Moustaches Seven Versts Long
      (pp. 304-308)

      In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a tsar. In this tsar’s courtyard, there stood a column, and on this column were three rings: one gold, one silver, and the third copper. One night the tsar dreamed this dream: It was as if a horse was tied to a golden ring, and every hair on it was silver, and on its forehead shone a moon. In the morning, he got up and sent out a call: He’d marry his daughter to whoever could decipher this dream and get the horse for him, and he’d give...

    • Ivan Suchenko and the Belyi Polianin
      (pp. 309-316)

      This tale begins from the gray, from the brown, from the magic steed. On the sea, on the ocean, on the island of Buian, there stands a roasted ox, and next to it a strung bow. And three lads were walking, and they dropped in and breakfasted and then went on farther, boasting away and amusing themselves: “We, brothers, were at such and such a place. We ate more than a village woman’s dough!” That’s the pre-tale, the tale will follow.

      In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a tsar in a flat place, just...

    • Dawn, Evening, and Midnight
      (pp. 317-320)

      In a certain country there lived and dwelt a king. He had three daughters of indescribable beauty. The king guarded them more than his own eyes. He built underground chambers and put them there like birds in a cage, so that no wild winds would blow on them, nor would the bright sun burn them with its rays. Once somehow, the princesses read in a particular book that there was a marvelous bright world, and when the king came to visit them, they began asking him tearfully: “Oh Sovereign and our batiushka! Let us look at the bright earth and...

    • The Bear, Moustaches, Mountain Man, and Oakman Bogatyrs
      (pp. 321-329)

      In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt an old man and his old woman. They had no children. Once, the old man said, “Old woman, go and buy us a turnip; we’ll eat it for dinner.” The old woman went off, bought two turnips. One of them she sort of gnawed on, and the other she put in the stove to steam. A little while later, they heard something in the stove: “Granny, undo this, it’s hot here!” The old woman undid the latch, and in the stove there lay a live little girl. “What’s...

    • Nodei, the Priest’s Grandson
      (pp. 330-333)

      In no certain tsardom, in no certain land, there lived a priest. The priest was a widower, and this priest had a single daughter of his own. You see, Brother, he watched over her, and whenever he went out somewhere in the parish, he always brought her presents. Now, these parishioners knew that our priest had a daughter, and that it was necessary to send her a gift somehow. And so, he went out into the parish, to a village about twelve versts away. And he went to give someone communion, and he gave a man communion. Well, so then...

    • The Flying Ship
      (pp. 334-338)

      There were this old man and his wife, and they had three sons. Two were clever, but the third was a fool. The woman loved the first two and kept them dressed cleanly, but the third was always dressed poorly and walked about only in a dirty black shirt. They heard that a paper had come from the tsar: “Whoever builds a ship that can fly, I shall marry to the tsarevna.” The older brothers made up their minds to go seek their fortunes, and asked the old couple for their blessing. Their mother outfitted them for the road, loaded...

    • The Seven Simeons
      (pp. 339-346)

      In this one place, a peasant had seven sons—seven Simeons—each one more of a lad than the others, but also such lazybones, idlers, that you couldn’t find such in the whole world. They did nothing. Their father agonized and agonized over them, and led them to the tsar. He brought them there and put them all into the tsar’s service. The tsar thanked him for such lads and asked what they knew how to do. “Ask them themselves, Your Royal Highness!” The tsar first summoned the oldest Simeon and asked, “What do you know how to do?” “Thieve,...

    • Nikita the Tanner
      (pp. 347-348)

      A serpent appeared around Kiev, and he collected from the people a not insignificant tribute: from each household a beautiful maiden. He’d then take the maiden and eat her. The turn of the tsar’s daughter came to go to that serpent. The serpent grabbed the tsarevna and dragged her off to his lair, but he didn’t eat her. The beautiful maiden remained just the beautiful maiden, and he took her as his wife. The serpent would fly off on his missions, and he’d blockade the girl in with logs so that she couldn’t go away. The tsarevna had a little...

    • The Serpent and the Gypsy
      (pp. 349-351)

      In olden times, there existed this one village, and a serpent took to flying to this village to devour people. He ate them all up, and there remained but one peasant. So then this gypsy came there, and the whole thing took place late one evening. Wherever he looked in—it was empty! He finally came to the last little hut. There sat the last peasant, weeping.

      “Greetings, my good man!”

      “Why have you come here, gypsy? Likely life has become a bore to you?”

      “What do you mean?”

      “Well, this serpent has taken to flying here and eating up...

    • The Hired Hand
      (pp. 352-355)

      There lived and dwelt this peasant. He had three sons. The oldest son went off to hire on as a laborer. He went to the town and hired out to a merchant, and that merchant was ever so tight and stern! He kept repeating the same words: “When the cock crows, hired man get up and get to work.” For the lad it appeared both difficult and hard. He got through a week and then returned home. So the second son departed, and he stayed with the merchant for a week, couldn’t stand it any longer, and checked out. “Father,”...

    • Shabarsha
      (pp. 356-358)

      So-ooo, shall I amuse you with a little tale? It’s a tale miraculous. In it are wondrous wonders, miraculous miracles, and the laborer Shabarsha, a rogue among rogues. Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound! So this Shabarsha set off to find work as a laborer, and times were bad. There was no grain at all. The vegetables hadn’t grown. But one owner thought this very deep thought. How could he chase away his misery, what could he live on, where could he get some money? “Don’t worry about it!” Shabarsha said to him. “The day will...

    • Ivan the Bear’s Son
      (pp. 359-361)

      In this certain village, there lived and dwelt a rich peasant and his wife. Once she went off into the forest after pepper caps [Agaricus piperatus–JVH], got lost, and wandered into a bear den. The bear took her for his own, and after a long or short time, he had a son with her—down to the belt human, but up to the belt a bear. His mother called her son Ivanko Medvedko, or Ivanko the Little Bear. The years passed. Ivanko Medvedko grew up, and he and his mother decided to go away into the village to be...

    • A Soldier Rescues a Tsarevna
      (pp. 362-366)

      A soldier was posted to distant borders. He served his prescribed term, received a clear discharge, and went back to his homeland. He walked through many lands, through many countries. He came to a capital city and stopped at the dwelling of a poor old woman. He began questioning her: “How is it with you, Granny, is everything going well?” “Oh, Soldier! Our tsar has this beautiful daughter, Marfa Tsarevna. This foreign prince has been courting her. The tsarevna didn’t want to marry him, and he has sent down an evil spell onto her. She’s been ill these three years!...

    • A Fugitive Soldier and the Devil
      (pp. 367-370)

      A soldier requested leave, gathered up his kit, and set off. He walked and walked, but nowhere did he see any water with which he might moisten his hardtack on the road along the way, and his stomach was long since empty. There was nothing else to be done. He trudged on. He looked about and saw a stream running. He approached it, got three hard biscuits out of his knapsack, and put them in the water. This soldier also had a fiddle. When he had free time, he’d play various songs on it to idle away boredom. So this...

    • The Two Ivans, a Soldier’s Sons
      (pp. 371-380)

      In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a peasant. The time came, and he was conscripted into the army. He was leaving his pregnant wife. He spoke his farewells, saying, “Look here, Wife, live well, don’t make fun of kind folks, don’t ruin the household, and wait for me. If God permits it, I’ll come back retired. I’ll return to you. Here are twenty-five rubles. Whether you have a daughter or a son doesn’t matter. Keep the money until they are grown. Then, if you have a daughter, this will be her dowry. And if...

    • Koshchei the Deathless
      (pp. 381-400)

      In a certain tsardom, in a certain country, there lived and dwelt a tsar. And this tsar had three sons, all of whom had come of age. Only suddenly, Kosh the Deathless carried off their mother. The oldest son asked his father’s blessing to go in search of the mother. The father blessed him, and he rode away and disappeared without a trace. The middle son waited and waited, and then asked for the same thing from his father. He rode away, and he, too, disappeared without a trace. The little son, Ivan Tsarevich, said to his father, “Father! Bless...

    • Mar’ia Morevna
      (pp. 401-407)

      In a certain tsardom in a certain country, there lived and dwelt Ivan Tsarevich, and he had three sisters: Mar’ia Tsarevna, Olga Tsarevna, and the third was Anna Tsarevna. Their father and mother had died. As they were dying, they said to their son, “Whoever first comes courting your sisters, marry her to him. Don’t keep them with you for long!” The tsarevich buried his parents, and in his grief went out to stroll in a green garden with his sisters. Suddenly a dark storm cloud appeared in the sky, and a terrible storm arose. “Let’s go home, sisters,” said...

    • Fedor Tugarin and Anastasia the Beautiful
      (pp. 408-412)

      There lived this tsar and tsaritsa, and they had this one son by the name of Fedor, nicknamed Tugarin, and they had three daughters. No matter how little or how richly they lived, they were dying, and they instructed their son that he should marry his sisters to the first suitors they had. A year had passed since the tsar and tsaritsa had died. Then one day a storm gathered, the wind blew—saints preserve us! The moment Wind blew up to the porch, all was quiet. So then Wind said to Fedor Tugarin, “Give me your oldest sister, and...

    • Ivan Tsarevich and the Belyi Polianin
      (pp. 413-418)

      In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt this tsar, and the tsar had three daughters and one son, Ivan Tsarevich. The tsar grew old and died, and Ivan Tsarevich received the crown. When the neighboring kings found out about this, they immediately gathered innumerable armies and came to make war on him. Ivan Tsarevich didn’t know what to do. He went to his sisters and asked them, “My dearest sisters! What should I do? All the kings have raised an army up against me.” “Oh you, you brave warrior! What are you afraid of? Somehow...

    • The Crystal Mountain
      (pp. 419-421)

      In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a tsar, and this tsar had three sons. So, then the children said to him, “Gracious Sovereign and Father! Bless us, we wish to go out hunting.” Their father blessed them, and they rode off in various directions. The youngest one rode and rode and got lost. He rode out into a glen, and in that glen lay a dead horse. Every sort of beast and bird and serpent was gathered round it. A falcon flew up and to the tsarevich. It perched on his shoulder and said,...

    • Bukhtan Bukhtanovich
      (pp. 422-424)

      In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there had long lived a certain Bukhtan Bukhtanovich. This Bukhtan Bukhtanovich had raised up a stove on pillars in the middle of the steppe. He would lie on this stove propped up by his elbow in cockroach milk. Once a fox came to him and said,

      “Bukhtan Bukhtanovich, would you like me to marry you to the daughter of the tsar?”

      “What, Foxy?”

      “Do you have any money?”

      “I have, but just a five-kopeck piece.”

      “Hand it over!”

      So then the fox went and changed the five-kopeck piece for smaller coins, for...

    • Kozma Quickrich
      (pp. 425-428)

      There lived and dwelt Kuzenka, all by himself in a dark forest. He had a poor dwelling, and one cock and five hens. A fox took to visiting Kuzenka. Once he went off hunting, and he was no sooner out of the house, and the fox was there! She ran in, killed one hen, roasted it, and ate it up. Kuzenka came back. One hen was missing! And he thought probably a kite had carried it off. The next day, he went off hunting again. He chanced to meet the fox, who asked him, “Where are you going, Kuzenka?” “Out...

    • Emelia the Fool
      (pp. 429-438)

      This was all in some village: There lived this peasant, and he had three sons, and two were clever, but the third was a fool whom they called Emelia. And as their father had lived a long time, he entered into deep old age, and he summoned his sons to him and said to them, “My dear children! I sense that I haven’t long to live with you. I am leaving you my house and livestock, which you will divide evenly among you. And I am also leaving you each a hundred rubles.” Soon after that, their father died and...

    • At the Pike’s Command
      (pp. 439-442)

      There lived and dwelt this poor peasant. No matter how he labored, no matter how he worked, he had nothing. “Ach,” he thought to himself, “mine is a bitter fate! Every day I beat myself up with my farming, and just look—I’m going to have to die of starvation. And my neighbor lies about his whole life, and so? He has a big farm, and the quitrents just pour into his pocket. Obviously, I’m not pleasing to God. I shall pray from morning to evening and perhaps the Lord will have mercy.” So he began praying to God. He...

    • The Tale about Ivan Tsarevich, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf
      (pp. 443-452)

      Once there was in a certain tsardom, in a certain land, well, there lived and dwelt this tsar by the name of Vyslav Andronovich. He had three sons, tsareviches: The first was Dmitrii Tsarevich, the second Vasilii Tsarevich, and the third Ivan Tsarevich. This Tsar Vyslav Andronovich had this really fine garden; there was no finer one in any other land. And in this garden grew various rare trees, some with fruits and others without. And this tsar had a favorite apple tree, and on this apple tree grew golden apples. Then a firebird took to coming to Tsar Vyslav’s...

    • The Firebird and Vasilisa Tsarevna
      (pp. 453-459)

      In a certain tsardom beyond the thrice-nine land, in the thrice-ten country, there lived and dwelt a strong and powerful tsar. This tsar had a young man and shooter, and this young man and shooter had a bogatyr’s horse. Once the shooter set off on his bogatyr’s horse to the forest to hunt. He was riding along a road, along a wide road, and he came upon the feather of a firebird. The feather shone like fire! His bogatyr’s horse said to him, “Don’t take that gold feather! If you take it, you’ll know misfortune.” But the young man contemplated:...

    • A Tale about the Brave Lad, the Rejuvenating Apples, and the Living Water
      (pp. 460-490)

      This one tsar had grown very old and could no longer see, but he heard that beyond nine ninths in the tenth tsardom there was this garden with rejuvenating apples, and in that garden a well of the living water. If the old man were to eat an apple, he would become young, and if a blind man were to rinse his eyes with that water, he would see. Now this tsar had three sons. So, then he sent the oldest one on horseback to that garden for an apple and the water; the tsar wanted to be both young...

    (pp. 491-510)
    (pp. 511-511)