Robert Steele.

The Russian garland of fairy tales : being Russian folk legends online

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Foreword vii
Story of Lyubim Tsarevich and the Winged

Wolf i
Story of the most wonderful and noble Self-
Playing Harp 1 6
The Seven Brothers Simeon 29
Story of Ivan, the Peasant's Son 39
Story of the Golden Mountain 50
Iliya of Murom and the Robber Nightingale 61
The Renowned Hero, Bova Korolevich and

the Princess Drushnevna 68

The Mild Man and his Cantankerous Wife 117

Story of the Duck with Golden Eggs 125

Story of Bulat the Brave Companion 131
Story of Prince Malandrach and the Princess

Salikalla 142
Story of a Shoemaker and his Servant

Prituitshkin 153

Emelyan, the Fool 166

The Judgment of Shemyaka 183
Story of Prince Peter with the Golden Keys,

and the Princess Magilene 187
Sila Tsarevich and Ivashka with the White

Smock 194
Story of the Knight Yaroslav Lasarevich and

the Princess Anastasia 202



The Horse grew restive, reared higher than

the highest forest Frontispiece

Instantly upstarted Lyubim Tsarevich, put

on his armour and leapt upon his steed 4
At length they fell in with a cripple in the

road 64

" Alas ! my gracious mother, why have you

put me in prison ? ' 74

The Judge thought that the bundle was full

of roubles 184

And so saying, he stretched out his hand to

take the sword 226


THE special interest of this volume of Russian
Folk Tales is that it is a translation from a
collection of peasant Chap-books of all sorts
made in Moscow about 1830, long before the
Censorship had in great measure stopped the
growth of popular literature. It is not necessary
to dilate upon the peculiarities of Chap-books and
their methods : in the conditions of their exist-
ence many of the finest qualities of the primitive
stories are eliminated, but on the other hand
certain essentials are enforced. The story must
be direct, the interest sustained, and the language
however fine, simple and easily understood.

It is to be hoped that some of these merits have
been preserved in this translation : for this book
is intended to appeal to a class of severe and in-
corruptible critics the children of to-day. To
older critics the matter is also interesting. Who on
earth would ever expect to find in a Russian Chap-
book printed in Slavonic type on a coarse broad-
side sheet the Provencal legend of ' Pierre et
Maguelonne" or the Old English tale of f Bevis
of Hampton." And the mystery deepens when



one is told that Bevis of Hampton is ages old in
Russia, however the names have been re-furbished
by the printer to not the English, but the Italian
form. Some of the tales are evidently of German
origin adopted and made Russian, like that of
the " Seven Simeons" or " Emelyan, the Fool";
others are as evidently Eastern. A few date from
the Russian Epics, like that of ' Iliya of Murom' 3
and " Ivan the Peasant's Son " ; others are of
later date, like that of " The Judgment of Shem-
yaka," who was a historic character who lived
about 1446.

It is hardly necessary to dilate on the peculiar
expressions here to be found ; how that a child
grows " not day by day, but hour by hour," how
that when the Tsar wants to drink " beer is not
brewed or brandy distilled," seeing he is served
at once, how the hero passes through " thrice nine
lands to the thirtieth country," how brothers are
always in threes, and how the youngest always
succeeds where his elders fail. Students of folk-
lore will know all about them, and the rest of us
must take them on trust. Do you know why you
must never go under a ladder ?

R. S.




IN a certain country there once lived a Tsar
named Elidarovich, with his wife, Militissa
Ibrahimovna, who had three sons. The eldest
son was named Aksof Tsarevich, the second Hut
Tsarevich, and the youngest, Lyubim Tsarevich ;
and they grew, not from day to day, but from
hour to hour. And when the eldest son was twenty
years of age, he begged leave of his parents to travel
in other countries, and seek a beautiful princess
for his wife. So his parents at last consented, gave
him their blessing, and dismissed him to the four
quarters of the earth.

Not long after this, Hut Tsarevich in like manner
begged permission of his parents to travel ; and
Tsar Elidar and the Tsarina gave their consent
with the greatest pleasure. And so Hut Tsarevich
went out into the world too, and they wandered
about a long while, until at length nothing more
was heard or seen of them, and they were given
up for dead.

As the Tsar and the Tsarina were troubled and
wept for their lost sons, came the youngest son,



Lyubim Tsarevich, and likewise entreated them
to let him go forth to seek his brothers. But his
parents said to him : " Son, you are too young
and cannot undertake so long a journey ; and how
can we part with you, our only child left to us ?
We are already in years, and to whom should we
leave our crown ? ' But Lyubim Tsarevich would
not be denied ; he remained firm to his purpose,
and said : " It is needful for me to travel and see
the world ; for if ever I am called to rule over the
country, I must learn to do so with justice."

When the Tsar Elidar and Tsarina Militissa
heard these words from their son, they were over-
joyed, and gave him their consent to travel ; but
only for a short time, and making him promise to
have no companions, nor expose himself to any
great dangers. Upon taking leave, Lyubim bethought
him how to provide himself with a knightly steed
and a suit of armour ; and as he went musing thus
to the city, an old woman met him, who said :
" Why are you so sad, my dear Lyubim Tsare-
vich ? ' But he did not give her an answer, and
passed by the old woman without saying a word.
But then he bethought him that old folk are wiser
than young ones, turned round, and going up to
the old woman, accosted her. And Lyubim Tsare-
vich said to her : ' At the first meeting, mother,



I disdained to tell you why I was sad, but it came
into my mind that old folk must know more than
young ones." " There it is, Lyubim Tsarevich,"
said the old woman, " you can't easily get away
from old folk. Say, why are you sad ? Tell the old
wife." And Lyubim Tsarevich said to her : "I
have no good horse and no armour, yet I must
travel far and wide in search of my brothers."
Then the old woman said : " What think you ?
There is a horse and a suit of armour in your
father's forbidden meadow,* behind twelve gates,
and this horse is fastened by twelve chains. On
that meadow is also a broadsword and a fine suit of


When Lyubim Tsarevich had heard this, and
thanked the old woman, he went straightway, over-
joyed, to the forbidden meadow. On reaching the
place where the horse was, he stopped, and be-
thought him ' How shall I break through the
twelve gates ? " At last he made the attempt, and
presently broke down one gate ; then the steed
perceived by his scent the presence of the brave
youth, and with a great effort burst his chains ;

* The " royal forbidden meadows " were those belonging to the
Sovereign, the use of which was strictly forbidden to his subjects.
When an enemy came into the country they first pitched their camp
in these fields, as a declaration of hostilities.


and then Lyubim Tsarevich broke through three
more gates, and the steed trampled down the rest.
Then Lyubim Tsarevich surveyed the steed and
the armour ; and put on the armour, but left the
steed in the meadow ; after which he went to his
father, the Tsar Elidar, and his mother, and told
them all that had befallen him, and how an old
woman had helped him, and begged their blessing
on his travels. So his parents gave him their bless-
ing, and, mounting his good steed, he set forth on
his journey. And he went his way, and travelled
until he came at length to a place where three roads
met ; in the centre stood a column, with three
inscriptions, which ran as follows : " He who
turns to the right will have plenty to eat, but his
steed will starve ; he who goes straight forward
will hunger himself, but his steed will have food
enough ; and whoever takes the left road will be
slain by the Winged Wolf."

When Lyubim Tsarevich read this, he pondered
over it, and resolved to go no other road but to
choose the left, and either be slain himself, or
destroy the Winged Wolf, and free all those who
might be travelling that way. So he journeyed on
until he came to the open plains, where he pitched
his tent to rest, when on a sudden he perceived in
the west the Winged Wolf come flying toward




him. Instantly up started Lyubim Tsarevich, put
on his armour, and leaped upon his steed. And
Lyubim rode at the Wolf, which beat him so hard
with his wings that he nearly fell from his horse ;
nevertheless, Lyubim kept his seat, flew into a
violent rage, and with his battle-sword struck the
Winged Wolf a blow that felled him to the ground,
and injured his right wing so that he could no longer

When the Wolf came to himself he said to
Lyubim Tsarevich, in a human voice : Do not
kill me ! I will be useful to you and serve you as
your trusty servant." Then Lyubim Tsarevich
replied : " Know you where my brothers are ? '
And the Wolf answered : They have long ago
been slain ; but we will bring them to life again
when we have won the beautiful Princess." " How
shall we do that ? ' said Lyubim Tsarevich.
" Hark ye," replied the Wolf ; " leave your
steed here, and- -."

" How ! What shall I do without my horse ? '
cried Lyubim.

" Only hear me out," said the Wolf ; " I will
change myself into a horse, and carry you ; but
this steed of yours is not fit for the task we have
to do ; in the city where the Princess lives, there
are strings from the walls to all the bells in the city ;



and we must leap over all these without touching
the smallest, otherwise we shall be taken." Lyubim
Tsarevich saw at once that the Wolf spoke wisely,
so he consented, and exclaimed, " On then ! '

Away they went, until they came to the white
stone wall of the city ; and when Lyubim Tsare-
vich looked on it he grew frightened. " How is it
possible to leap over this high white stone wall ? '
said he to the Wolf. But the Wolf replied : " It is
not hard for me to jump over this ; but afterwards
fresh obstacles will arise, from your falling in love ;
then you must bathe in the water of life, and take
some for your brothers, and also some of the w r ater
of death."

Thereupon they leaped safely over the city wall,
without touching a stone. Lyubim Tsarevich
stopped at the palace and went to the court of the
beautiful Princess. And as he entered the first
apartment he found a number of chamber women
all fast asleep, but the Princess was not there ; he
found her not. Then went Lyubim Tsarevich into
the second room, where he found a number of
beautiful ladies-in-waiting, all fast asleep, but the
Princess was still not there. Then Lyubim went
into the third apartment, and there he saw the
Princess herself, sleeping ; and his heart was on
fire with her beauty, and he fell so deeply in love



that he could not tear himself away from her
presence. But at last, fearing he might be seized
if he remained too long, he went into the garden
to fetch some of the waters of life and of death.
Then he bathed in the water of life, and taking
with him bladders-full of both waters, he returned
to his Wolf. And as he was sitting on his Wolf-
steed, the Wolf said to him : " You have become
very heavy. We cannot leap back over the wall, but
shall strike against it and wake everyone up. Never-
theless you shall kill them ; and when they are all
slain, be sure to seize on a white horse. I will then
help you to fight ; and as soon as we reach our
tent, take your own steed, and I will mount the
white horse. And when we have slain all the war-
riors, the Princess herself will come to meet you
and offer to be your wife, professing a violent love
for you."

Thereupon they attempted to leap over the high
city wall ; but they touched the strings, and in-
stantly the bells rang an alarm through all the city,
and the drums beat. Then every one jumped up
and ran out of the court with their weapons, whilst
some opened the gate that no misfortune might
befall the Princess. Presently the Princess herself
awoke ; and, perceiving that a youth had been in
the apartment, she gave an alarm, which soon



brought all the courtiers around her. There was
speedily gathered a crowd of famous and valiant
knights, and she said to them : " Now ye brave
warriors, go forth and fetch hither this youth and
bring me his head ; so shall his boldness be pun-
ished ! "

And the valiant knights promised her : " We
will not rest until we have slain him, and brought
his head to you, even if he were in the midst of an
army." So the Princess dismissed them, and went
up into her balcony, and gazed after her army and
after the stranger who had dared to intrude into
the privacy of her court, and caress her in her sleep.

When the alarm was given, Lyubim Tsarevich
had already ridden a great distance on his Wolf-
steed, and was half-way to his tent before he could
be overtaken. As soon as he saw them approach,
he wheeled about and grew furious at beholding
such an array of Knights in the field. Then they
fell upon him ; but Lyubim Tsarevich laid about
him valiantly with his sword, and slew many, whilst
his horse trod down still more under his hoofs,
and it ended in their slaying nearly all the little
knightlets. And Lyubim Tsarevich saw one single
knight mounted upon a white steed, with a head
like a beer-barrel, who rode at him ; but Lyubim
Tsarevich slew him also, leaped on the white horse,



and left the Wolf to rest. When they had rested
they betook themselves to their tent.

When the beautiful Princess saw Lyubim Tsare-
vich overcome singly such a large host, she collected
a still larger army and sent them forth against him,
whilst she went back again to her balcony.

But Lyubim Tsarevich came to his tent, and there
the Wolf transformed himself into a valiant knight,
such as no one could imagine except in a fairy-tale.
And presently the army of the beautiful Tsarevna
was seen approaching a countless host ; where-
upon Lyubim Tsarevich mounted his white steed,
accompanied by his companion the Wolf, and
awaited their attack ; and when the army of the
beautiful Tsarevna was near, Lyubim, taking the
right wing, ordered the Wolf to attack the left,
and they made ready for the charge. Then on a
sudden they fell upon the warriors of the Tsarevna
with a fierce onset, mowing them down like grass,
until only two persons remained on the field, the
Wolf and Lyubim Tsarevich. And after this dread-
ful fight was ended the brave Wolf said to Lyubim :
1 See, yonder comes the beautiful Tsarevna her-
self, and she will ask you to take her to wife ; there
is nothing more to fear from her ; I have expiated
my crimes through my bravery ; dismiss me now,
and let me return to my own kingdom." So



Lyubim Tsarevich thanked him for his service
and counsel and bade him farewell.

The Wolf thereupon vanished ; and when
Lyubim Tsarevich saw the beautiful Princess coming
toward him, he rejoiced, and, going to meet her,
he took her by her white hands, kissing her honey-
sweet mouth, pressed her to his stormy heart, and
said : " Did I not love you, my dearest fair Tsarevna,
I should not have remained here ; but you have
seen that my love was stronger than your armies."
Then the fair Tsarevna replied : " Ah ! thou
valiant knight. Thou hast overcome all my powers,
and my strong and famous knights, on whom my
hopes relied ; and my city is now desolate. I will
leave it and go with you ; henceforth you shall be
my protector."

" Joyfully do I take you for my wife," replied
Lyubim Tsarevich, " and I will guard and protect
you and your kingdom faithfully." Conversing
thus they entered the tent, and sat down to rest
and feast.

Early the next morning they mounted their
horses and set out on their journey to the kingdom
of Elidar ; and on the way Lyubim Tsarevich
said : " Ah ! thou fair Princess, I had two elder
brothers, who left our home before I did, in hopes
of winning your hand ; in these wilds they have



been murdered, and where their remains lie I do
not know ; but I have brought with me the waters
of life and death, and will seek and restore them
to life ; they cannot be far distant from our road ;
do you therefore ride on to the pillar with the in-
scriptions, and wait for me. I shall soon rejoin

So saying, Lyubim Tsarevich parted from his
fair Princess, and went forth to seek his brothers'
remains. He found them at last among some trees ;
and after sprinkling them with the water of death,
they grew together ; then he sprinkled them with
the water of life, and his two brothers became alive,
and stood up on their feet. Then Aksof and Hut
Tsarevich exclaimed : ' Ah ! brother ! how long
have we been sleeping here ? ' ' And Lyubim Tsare-
vich said : " Ay, indeed, and you might have still
slept on for ever, had it not been for me." Then
he related to them all his adventures how he had
conquered the Wolf, and won the beautiful Princess,
and had brought them the waters of life and death.
Thereupon they repaired to the tent, where the
fair Tsarevna was waiting for them ; and they all
rejoiced and feasted together.

When they had retired to rest, Aksof Tsarevich
said to his brother Hut Tsarevich : " How shall
we go to our father Elidar and our mother Militissa,



and what shall we say to them ? Our youngest
brother can boast that he won the beautiful Princess
and awakened us from death. Is it not disgraceful
for us to live with him ? Had we not better kill
him at once ? " So they agreed, and took the battle-
sword and cut Lyubim Tsarevich to pieces, and
cast his remains to the winds. Then they threat-
ened the Princess with the same fate if she be-
trayed the secret to anyone ; and, drawing lots,
the waters of life and death fell to Hut, and the
beautiful Princess to Aksof Tsarevich.

So they journeyed on to their father's kingdom ;
and when they reached the forbidden meadows,
and had pitched their tents, the Tsar Elidar sent
messengers to demand who had encamped there.
Then Hut replied ; " Aksof and Hut Tsarevich
are come, with a beautiful Princess ; and tell our
father, the Tsar, that we have brought with us the
waters of life and death."

The messenger immediately returned to the
Court and told this to the Tsar, who inquired
whether all his three sons were come ; but the
messenger replied : " Only the two eldest, your
Majesty ; the youngest is not with them." The
Tsar, nevertheless, rejoiced greatly, and hastened
to tell the Tsarina, his wife, of the return of their
two eldest sons.



Then Tsar Elidar and Tsarina Militissa arose
and went to meet their sons in the way, and un-
armed them, and embraced them tenderly. And
when they returned to the palace a great banquet
was made, and they feasted seven days and seven
nights. At the end of this time they began to think
of the wedding, and to make preparations, and
invite the guests, boyars, and brave warriors and

Now, the Winged Wolf, who knew that they
had slain their brother, Lyubim Tsarevich, ran
and fetched the waters of life and death, collected
all the remains of Lyubim, and sprinkled them
with the water of death ; thereupon the bones
grew together, and no sooner had he sprinkled
them with the water of life than the brave youth
stood up, as if nothing had happened, to him, and
said : ' Ah, what a time I have slept ! ' Then the
Wolf answered : ' Ay, you would have slept on
for ever had I not come to awaken you " ; and he
related to Lyubim all that his brothers had done ;
and, changing himself into a horse, he said :
1 Hasten after them you will be sure to overtake
them ; to-morrow your brother Aksof Tsarevich
is to marry the Princess."

So Lyubim instantly set out, and the Wolf-
steed galloped over hill and dale, until they arrived



at the city of the Tsar, where Lyubim dismounted.
Then he walked through the market, and bought
a gusli ; and stationed himself in a spot which the
Princess would pass. And, as she was being con-
ducted to the church, Lyubim Tsarevich began
to sing the events of his youth, accompanying
himself on the gusli ; and when the beautiful
Princess drew nigh, he sang of his brothers, and
how cruelly they had slain him and deceived their
father. Then the Princess stopped her carriage,
and ordered her attendants to call to her the
stranger with the gusli, and to ask his name and
who he was. But without answering a word,
Lyubim went straight to the Princess ; and when
she saw him, she was overjoyed, and, seating him
in her carriage, they drove off to his parents.

When the Tsar Elidar and his wife Militissa,
beheld their son Lyubim, they were unspeakably
glad ; and the beautiful Princess said : " Lyubim
Tsarevich it was, and not Aksof, who gained my
hand, and it was he, too, who obtained the waters
of life and death." Then Lyubim related all his
adventures ; and the Tsar and Tsarina, after
summoning their sons, Aksof and Hut, asked them
why they had acted so unnaturally ; but they
denied the charge. Thereat the Tsar waxed wroth,
and commanded that they should be shot at the


gate of the city. Lyubim Tsarevich married the
beautiful Princess, and they lived in perfect har-
mony for many years ; and so this story has an


IN a certain country there lived a king named
Filon, whose wife Chaltura had an only son,
named Astrach, who from his earliest years
had a strong desire to render himself famous by
knightly deeds. When he arrived at mature age,
Astrach began to think of marrying, and he asked
his father in what kingdom lived the most beautiful
of all Tsar's or King's daughters. The King re-
plied : " If it is your wish to marry, my dearest
son, my noble child, I will show you the portraits
of the daughters of the Tsars and Kings of all
lands." So saying, he led Prince Astrach to a
gallery, and showed him the pictures. After ex-
amining them all closely, Astrach fell passionately
in love with the Tsarevna Osida, daughter of Afor,
the Tsar of Egypt. Then he besought his father's
blessing, and asked leave to repair to the Court of
the Egyptian Sultan, to sue for the hand of Osida.
King Filon rejoiced at the thought of his son's
marrying, gave him his blessing, and dismissed him.
Then Prince Astrach went to seek a goodly
steed in the royal stables, but could find none
there to his mind. So he bade farewell to his father



and mother, and started for his journey to Egypt
alone on foot ; and he wandered long or short
time, far and near, until at length he saw on the
plain a palace of white marble, roofed with gold,
which emitted beams of light, shining like the
sun. Prince Astrach went up to the palace ; and,
on reaching it, he walked round the building,
looking in at every window, to see if any persons
were there ; but he could discover no one. So he
went into the courtyard, and wandered up and
down for a long time ; but there, too, he could
see no living soul ; then he entered the marble
palace, and went from room to room, but all was
silent and deserted. At length he came to an apart-
ment, in which a table was spread for one person ;
and being very hungry, Prince Astrach sat down,
and ate and drank his fill ; after which he laid him-
self down on a bed and fell fast asleep.

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Online LibraryRobert SteeleThe Russian garland of fairy tales : being Russian folk legends → online text (page 1 of 13)