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Anthony R. (Anthony Reubens) Montalba.

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and was in the act of piercing his breast with it, in order not to
survive Kuridana, when a matron of beautiful and majestic aspect stood
before him, staid his hand, and thus addressed him:

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

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

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

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

[Illustration]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: THE DRAGON GIANT. P. 183.]

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

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


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Online LibraryAnthony R. (Anthony Reubens) MontalbaFairy tales from all nations → online text (page 8 of 19)