Firebird by Ivan Bilibin

Russian Wonder Tales by Post Wheeler

Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin

Russian Wonder Tales
by Post Wheeler

Table of Contents


Tsar Saltan

Vasilissa the Beautiful

The Little Humpbacked Horse

Tsarevitch Ivan, the Fire Bird and the Gray Wolf

Maria Morevna

Martin the Peasant's Son

The Feather of Finist the Falcon

The Frog-Tsarevna


Little Bear's Son

Vasilii the Unlucky

Tsarevitch Petr and the Wizard

Russian Fairy Tales Main Page

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Martin the Peasant's Son

A LONG time ago, not in our day, beyond the trackless woods, beyond the desert sands, in a certain far Tsardom of a certain Empire, there lived an old peasant and his wife, who had one son called Martin. Time passed, and the peasant fell ill and died, and Martin and his mother grieved much and wept more than a little. Tears, however, could not avail, since they cannot bring back the dead, so the old woman began to plan by what means she and her son could live.

Now the peasant had left to his wife the sum of two hundred roubles, and though she disliked to begin so soon to spend it, they could not die of starvation. So when in a week's time they had eaten all the bread they had in store, she took a half of the sum and gave it to her son, saying: "There, my son, are a hundred roubles. Go to the neighbor's and borrow a horse and drive to town to buy bread. With it we may somehow drag through the winter, and when spring comes we can search for work."

Martin borrowed the horse and went to town. There, as he passed a butcher's shop, he saw the street full of people and heard a great noise of scolding. He stopped and found that the butchers had caught a hunting-dog with drooping ears, and having tied it to a post, were beating it with a stick, while the poor dog, whining and crying, was struggling to tear himself free.

Martin ran to the butchers and stayed their hands. "Brothers," he said, "why do ye treat so unmercifully this poor dog?"

The butchers answered: "Why should we not beat the wretched brute? He has spoiled for us a whole side of beef!" And again they began belaboring him.

"Enough!" said Martin. "There is no profit for you in that. Better sell him to me."

The butchers thought this an excellent jest. "Very good," they replied. "Buy him if thou wilt, but thou shalt give us a hundred roubles for him."

"That I will," said Martin, and taking out his hundred roubles, gave them to the butchers, untied the dog and took him home. And all the way the dog wagged his tail and rubbed his head against his new master's hand as if to show he well understood that Martin had saved his life.

When Martin reached home, his mother asked: "Little son, where is the bread thou didst buy?"

"I bought none," he replied.

"What, then, hast thou purchased?" asked she.

"I have bought a piece of good luck for myself," he answered, and showed her the dog, which he had named Jourka [Growler].

"What luck is there in a dog, which must eat, even as we must?" cried his mother. "But what else didst thou buy?"

"If I had had more money, I would have bought food," said Martin, "but the clog cost the whole hundred roubles."

Then the old woman began to upbraid him. "We have nothing to eat ourselves," she said, "for today I used the last scrapings of the bin to make a dry meal cake. Tomorrow we shall not have even this!"

That night they ate the dry meal cake while his mother did not leave off her scolding, and Martin broke his share in half and gave one piece to the dog Jourka.

Next day the old woman took out the other hundred roubles, and giving them to Martin, said: "Here little son, take the last of our money to town and buy us bread, and mind thou dost not, as before, waste it upon nothing."

Martin drove to town, and on his way to the bake-shop he saw a crowd following a boy, who had tied a cord about the neck of a cat with a crooked tail, and was dragging her along the street.

"Stop!" cried Martin. "Where dost thou drag that poor cat?"

"I go to drown the rascally pest in the river," the boy replied. "She has run off with a cake from our table."

"No good can come to thee from that," said Martin, "Better sell her to me."

"Good," said the boy mockingly. "Thou shalt have her for a hundred roubles."

Martin spent no time in reflection. He put his hand into his breast, pulled out the money, took the cat, put her into a bag and went home.

"Where is the bread thou didst buy, little son?" asked his mother.

"I bought none," he answered.

"What, then," the old woman asked, "didst thou purchase?"

So Martin took out the cat, which he had named Vaska [Puss], saying, "I have bought this second piece of good luck for myself."

"Small luck in a cat, which must be fed," said his mother. "But what else didst thou purchase?"

"If I had had more money," Martin replied, "I would have bought food. But I had to give the whole hundred roubles for her."

At this the old woman flew into a passion.

"What a fool thou art!" she screamed. "No longer shalt thou live in this house! Get thee gone, and search for thy bread among strangers!"

So Martin left his home and went to a neighboring village to look for work, and wherever he went Jourka the dog and Vaska the cat went running after him. At length he met a priest, who asked, "Whither art thou going, good youth?"

"To engage myself as a workman," replied Martin.

"Come with me," said the priest. "I give no contract, but whoever labors for me three years will not be displeased with what I pay him."

Martin agreed and went with the priest, and labored for him, without tiring, three summers and three winters. When it came time for his payment, the priest called him into his storehouse and said: "Now, Martin, thou shalt receive the wage for thy service. Here are three bags, one filled with gold, one with silver, and one with sand. Take which thou wilt."

Martin looked at the bags and began to think. "If I take the gold," he said to himself, "I may buy what I will for a long time. If I take the silver, I shall be rich for a little time. If I take the sand, I shall be neither poorer nor richer than I am now. But who would take sand when lie could get silver, or silver when he might have gold? There is surely deeper reason hidden beneath this simple thing!" So, having reflected, he said: "By your leave, master, I choose the bag of sand."

"Well," said the other, "since thou despisest gold and silver, take it."

Martin hoisted up the heavy bag on to his back and set out, followed by the dog with drooping ears and the cat with the crooked tail, to find another master and another service. He walked a long way and he walked a short way, and the bag grew heavier each minute, and the dog Jourka and the cat Vaska followed after him wherever he went. He came at length, in a thick dark wood that seemed untrodden and asleep, to a green lawn, and in the middle of it a fire had been kindled, and in the fire, bound with twelve cords, sat a maiden of such beauty that it could neither be guessed nor dreamed of, but only told in a tale.

When the maiden saw him, she cried: "Good youth, if thou wouldst get good luck for thyself, haste and quench this flame!"

"To be sure," thought Martin, "it is better to help a being in distress than to drag about such a weight of useless sand, of which more can be found anywhere," and untying the mouth of the bag, he poured the sand on the flames and extinguished them, and cut the twelve cords, and set the maiden free.

"Who art thou, fair damsel?" he asked.

"Thanks, good youth," said she. "I am daughter to Tsar Zmei, the ruler of the Snake-Tsardom, who is at war with Koshchei the Wizard. He it was who prepared this hateful death from which thou hast rescued me. But tell me, how camest thou to bear on thy back the bag of sand?"

"It was my wage," he answered, "for three years' service, and I chose it rather than silver and gold."

"Then must it have been precious," she said. "And yet, even so, I will richly repay thee." She took a ring from her little finger and gave it to him. "This is no ordinary ring," she said. "If thou desirest anything, even though it be to wed a Tsar's daughter, thou hast but to throw it from one hand to the other. But beware to tell anyone of it, else wilt thou bring upon thyself a great misfortune." So saying, she struck her foot sharply against the ground and instantly became transformed into a snake, which darted away into the forest.

"If all I want may be made to come so easily," thought Martin, "what is the need of seeking for work?" and putting the ring on his finger, he started back the way he had come. Whether it was near or far, whether the journey was a long one or a short one, he came at length to his native Tsardom and to his own village, and finding his old mother, who had repented with many tears that she had sent him away in anger, they began again to live together, with Jourka the dog and Vaska the cat, without any sorrow. When they had need of anything Martin had but to take off his ring, throw it from one hand to the other, and immediately twelve youths would appear, all alike to the very hair and voice, saying: "What wilt thou, Martin the peasant's son?" And he had but to name what he desired, to have it straightway brought him.

Time passed and at length Martin made up his mind to marry, and remembering what the daughter of the Snake- Tsar had told him of the ring, he said to himself, "Since I may have whomever I wish, I will wed the Tsar's daughter herself!"

He called his mother, therefore, and bade her go to the Tsar and ask for the Tsarevna's hand; but the old woman besought him to give up his purpose. "It were far more suitable for thee, my son," she said, "to marry a humble maiden. Should I go to the Tsar with this mad invention of thine, small doubt he would be angered and we should both lose our heads."

"Never mind, little mother," he answered. "Fear nothing. Surely, if I send thee on this errand, thou mayest be bold enough to carry it. Go and bring me the Tsar's answer, and come not back without it."

So his mother hobbled off to the Tsar's Palace. She went into the courtyard, and was half-way up the stairway when the sentries seized her. "What, beldame!" they said. "Wouldst thou go where even mighty champions and valiant generals may not pass without royal leave?"

"Ye blockheads!" scolded the old woman. "I enter here on a fair errand! Who are ye, when I come to arrange a marriage for my son with the beautiful Tsarevna, to seize the skirt of my gown?" And she fell to shrieking and upbraiding them till the place had never known such a din and even the Tsar heard it and came to the Palace window.

Seeing the sentries dragging away an old woman, he bade them let her in. They took their hands from her, therefore, and she entered the room where the Tsar sat with his sages and wise Counsellors, and first saying a prayer before the holy pictures on the wall, saluted him.

"Well, old woman," he asked, "what wouldst thou with me?"

"O Tsar's Majesty!" she said. "I pray thee be not angered, but I have a merchant and thou hast merchandise. The merchant is my little son, Martin, who is the most clever lad in the world, and the merchandise is thy daughter, the beautiful Tsarevna. If thou wilt give her to him for wife, what a brave pair that will be!"

"Art thou mad, old woman?" shouted the Tsar.

"No, O Tsar," said she, "and if it please thee, give me thine answer."

The Tsar, thinking she had lost her wits, said: "Thou shouldst know, old woman, that a suitor for the hand of a Tsar's daughter should send rich gifts, precious things such as are not to be found in the royal treasury. Go, therefore, with God, till thou canst come in such manner, as is fitting." This he said, thinking easily to be rid of the matter.

So the old woman went back and gave the answer to her son. "And now," she said, "thou wilt give over this silly plan of thine."

Martin, however, went out of the cottage, threw his ring from one hand to the other, and instantly the twelve youths, alike as twelve peas, appeared, saying: "What wouldst thou, Martin the peasant's son?" And he bade them bring, on twelve golden trays, precious gifts fit for a Tsar, such as were not to be found in the royal treasury. At once, disappearing, they returned bearing all manner of gold and silver work and jewels such as cannot be described in words, and with these he sent his mother to the Palace.

When the sentries reported to the Tsar that the old peasant woman had returned thus laden, he bade them admit her, and at the richness of the gifts she brought could scarce believe his eyes. When she again demanded the hand of his daughter for her son, however, he called his Ministers, asking: "What answer is a fitting one to give? These are truly a king's gifts, and where she has obtained them I cannot guess, but after all her son is only a peasant, and it is not seemly that a peasant wed a Tsarevna."

Then the Prime Minister, coming forward, craved the Tsar's permission, and said to her: "Since thy son, old woman, is, as thou hast said, the cleverest lad in the world, let him build in one round of the sun a splendid Palace beside this one, with a bridge of crystal from one to the other. Let the bridge be adorned with curious carvings, and covered with embroidered carpets, and on either side of it let there be a row of apple-trees with fruit of silver and gold, and with birds of paradise upon each branch. And near by let him build a five-domed cathedral where, when they are wed, he and the Tsarevna may receive the marriage crown. If thy son does this, then he shall have the Tsar's daughter. If not, ye shall both be beheaded."

The old woman went out from the Tsar's presence to her son, weeping a flood of bitter tears. "Did I not tell thee, my son," she said to Martin, "to keep to thine own place? But thou didst pay no heed and now our heads are forfeit. Tomorrow we shall both be executed!"

"Weep not, little mother," he said, comforting her; "per haps we shall not perish. Pray to God, take a drink of kvass and lie down to sleep; we may find more wisdom in the morning than in the evening."

At midnight Martin rose, went outside the cottage, threw the ring from one hand to the other, and instantly the twelve youths appeared, saying: "What wouldst thou, Mar tin the peasant's son?" He bade them build the Palace as the Tsar's Minister had demanded, and at once they rushed away in different directions, returning with an army of masons, carpenters, and foremen, and the work began.

In the morning, the Tsar, going to his balcony, saw to his surprise the Palace, the cathedral, the crystal bridge with its costly carpets, and its trees with silver and gold apples, all as had been required. He sent, then, for his Ministers and Boyars, and bade the beautiful Tsarevna prepare for her bridal. "Little I thought," he said, "to behold thee wed the son of a peasant, but I see not how it can be avoided."

Meanwhile, at his own cottage, Martin, summoning by aid of the ring the twelve youths, demanded a Boyar's dress, with an open carriage, richly ornamented and drawn by six horses, and drove to the cathedral. Thither also came the Tsar, with all his Ministers, and with his daughter, washed, powdered, rouged and clad in splendid Court robes, and after the Mass, Martin the peasant's son and the beautiful Tsarevna stood before the people and were married.

The Tsar gave his daughter a rich marriage-portion, bestowed high rank upon his son-in-law, and made a festival for the whole Realm, and the newly-wedded pair began to live together in the new Palace.

Now the Tsar's daughter was vain and proud, and it angered her that she had been given, not to a king nor to a Tsarevitch, but to a simple peasant, and she began to wish to be rid of her husband. So she flattered him in every way and asked him many wheedling questions in order to discover by what means he was able to do such wonderful things. For a long time Martin withstood her, but one evening, when she had plied him with vodka and covered him with kisses and tempted him with caressing words, he yielded and told her the secret of the wonder-working ring.

As soon as he was asleep, his wife took the ring from his finger, went to the balcony and threw it from one hand to another, and instantly the twelve youths appeared, saying, "What wouldst thou, beautiful Tsar's daughter?" She bade them that same hour to transport the Palace, the bridge and the cathedral, with herself, across three times nine lands to the thirtieth Tsardom, and as for her husband, to leave him lying on the meadow.

In the morning the Tsar went to his balcony, and looking, saw no longer either Palace, bridge or cathedral. He called messengers and sent them out, and running swiftly, they returned, saying: "O Tsar's Majesty! where yesterday were the splendid Palace and cathedral is now only a bare meadow, with thy son-in-law lying asleep in the middle of it. But thy daughter, the Tsarevna, is nowhere to be found."

In great wrath, the Tsar bade them bring Martin before him, and calling a council of his Boyars, demanded what he had done with the Palace and the Tsarevna. And when Martin could not answer, he gave orders to build a great stone column with but a single- small window, and to wall him alive within it, without food or drink, till the Tsar evna be found. So the masons came and built the stone column and walled poor Martin in to die of starvation.

Now Jourka, the dog with drooping ears, had been away paying a visit, and returning on the third day, found what had happened to his master. He set off at once to the cottage of Martin's mother, where he found Vaska, the cat, purring on the stove. "O thou scoundrel Vaska," said he, "who thinkest only to lie in warm places and to scratch thyself! Knowest thou not that our master is in danger of death? Hast thou forgot how he paid a hundred roubles to save thy worthless life? But for him the worms would long ago have eaten thee! Up, quickly! We must help him in some way."

The cat leaped up from the stove and went with the dog, and together they hastened to the stone column, up which the cat was able to climb. Having looked through the small window, she jumped to the ground and said: "Our master is in evil case and as helpless as a man with one leg tied to his ear. He sits weeping, bemoaning the loss of a ring which his wife hath taken from him, and left him to perish of starvation. How can we get food for him?"

"Thou canst climb a wall, Vaska," said the dog, "but all the same thou art a fool. I will tell thee a way. We shall run about the town, and when we meet a baker's boy with a tray, I shall roll under his feet, so that he will stumble and drop the tray from his head. Then do thou seize quickly a loaf and make off with it, and carry it to the master."

The cat agreed, and going to the main street, they soon met a baker's apprentice with a tray. Jourka rushed under his feet, the boy staggered and dropped the tray, and from terror and fear lest the dog might be mad, ran away. The loaves scattered, and the cat, seizing one, carried it to the stone column, climbed to its top and pushed it through the little window. In the same way they frightened a peasant carrying kvass and brought Martin many a little bottle. So they took him one by one, loaves of white bread and rolls of brown, meats and provisions of all sorts, with vodka and kvass in abundance, sufficient for a whole year.

Then Jourka, the dog, said to the cat: "Thou saidst our master bemoaned the loss of his ring, which we may be sure is at the bottom of all his misfortune. His wife, who has taken it, has disappeared with the Palace. We have only to find the Palace, therefore, and we shall be near to finding the ring. Let us go in search of it without delay." Accordingly that same night they set out.

They went a long way and a short way, when they came to the blue sea-ocean, and there the cat mounted the dog's back and so they crossed to the thirtieth Tsardom, and after a search, found the Palace in which Martin had lived.

Then the dog said: "Thou, Vaska, creep into the wine cellar and keep thine eyes open, and when the housekeeper sends for anything, haste and get it for her. I shall lie in the courtyard, and when they send from the kitchen for fuel- wood, I shall run and fetch it." They did so, until one day the housekeeper said: "I hear there is a cat with a crooked tail in the wine-cellar which fetches whatever is required. Bring her to me, and let her sleep indoors." And the cook said: "I hear there is a dog in the courtyard which, as soon as I send for wood, runs and fetches it. Let him stay in the kitchen at night." So Jourka and Vaska had the run of the house, and set themselves to discover where the Tsarevna kept the wonder-working ring. And soon they saw that the Tsarevna indeed had a ring which she wore on her little finger, but by day she never took it off, and try as they might they could not succeed in getting into her sleeping chamber.

Now when they had almost despaired of securing it, the dog said to the cat: "The only thing that can get at night into the Tsarevna's sleeping chamber is a mouse. In this country is the Mouse-Tsardom. Let us go there and compel the Mouse-Tsar to aid us." They set out at once and soon arrived at the Tsardom of the Mice, where was no human being to be seen, but so many mice that it was impossible to count them. There they both fell upon the mice and began to kill them with teeth and claws and to pile their bodies in heaps, like sheaves.

Now this great slaughter produced terror throughout all the Tsardom, and at last, seeing so many of his subjects slain, the Mouse-Tsar himself came and saluting with his mustaches, prostrated himself humbly before the dog and cat. "O strong and powerful heroes!" he said, "have mercy on my wretched little people and make not my Tsardom perish! What service can I serve ye in return for our lives?"

Jourka, the dog, answered: "In this country is a Palace in which lives a beautiful Tsar's daughter. She has stolen from thy master a ring which she wears on her little finger. Return to us the ring, or thy Tsardom shall be made empty and disappear."

The Mouse-Tsar called his subjects together, great and small, and questioned them, whereupon a mouseling came forward and said: "O Tsar's Majesty, I know well the Palace and have often been in the Tsarevna's sleeping chamber. She wears the ring on her little finger by day, but at night, when she lies down to sleep, she puts it in her mouth."

"Bring it to me," said the Tsar, "and thou shalt have the chief place of honor about my person!"

The mouseling hastened to the Palace, and at nightfall crept into the Tsarevna's bedroom, and when she had fallen asleep, jumped to her pillow and thrust his tail into her nostril. It tickled her so that she sneezed and the ring flew out of her mouth and rolled to the floor, where the mouse ling instantly seized it and carried it to the Mouse-Tsar who delivered it to the dog and cat.

Jourka and Vaska bade the Mouse-Tsar farewell and pre pared to return. "Give me the ring," said the cat. "Thou, Jourka, must always be barking, but I shall carry it in my mouth safer than one of thine eyes." The cat put it in her mouth, therefore, and they set out. When they came to the sea-ocean, she mounted on Jourka's back, gripped his coat with her claws, and the dog began to swim across.

He swam one hour, he swam two hours, he swam three hours, when a black, iron-beaked crow came flying and, alighting on the cat's head, began to peck it. Vaska was in sore trouble, for she dared not loosen her claws since she could not swim. Nor could she even so much as show her teeth to the crow lest she drop the ring. She endured it as long as she could, while the crow pecked till the blood came, until at length she could stand it no longer, and opening her mouth to defend herself, the ring dropped into the sea-ocean. The crow flapped away, and Jourka, as he swam, called out to know what was the matter.

Vaska dared not tell, lest the dog in anger drown her, so she said: "I did but stretch myself and yawn."

Presently they reached shore, when the cat instantly climbed a tree, from whose safe top she confessed her fault. "I am guilty before thee," she said. "A crow attacked me, and when I opened my mouth to drive it away, the ring fell into the sea-ocean."

"O miserable idiot!" cried the dog. "Lucky for thee I did not know it before, else thou shouldst have dived for it! Thou shiftless mouth-opener! How shall we now appear be fore the master?"

"Well, Jourka," said the cat, "there is no good in quarreling. I have a plan, if thou wilt make peace so that I may come down."

The dog made peace, and coming down from the tree, the cat said: "It is said that everything that happens in the water is known to the lobsters. Let us compel their Tsar to aid us."

So, running along the beach, they began to catch and kill all lobsters, large and small, and to heap the bodies as high as haystacks, so there fell great fear in all the sea-ocean. At length, seeing so many of his subjects slain, the huge Lobster-Tsar came out of the water and prostrated himself before the dog and cat. "Mighty heroes!" he said, "I pray you cease to slaughter my people, and whatsoever service ye will, that will I serve."

"Bring us," said Jourka, "a ring which we dropped a little while ago in crossing the sea-ocean, or thy whole Tsardom shall be made waste and desolate."

The Lobster at once summoned his subjects, big and little, and questioned them, when a little lobsterling came forward scarce a span long. "I saw the ring, O Tsar's Majesty!" he said. "The moment it fell into the sea-ocean, a pike-fish snatched and swallowed it before my eyes." Then the Lobster-Tsar bade his subjects depart into all parts of the sea-ocean and find the Tsar of the Pike-fish and order him to come before him, else would he declare unending war against him and all his kind.

They hastened into all waters, and when they had found the Tsar of the Pike-fish, they gave him the royal command, and with a great retinue of attendants he came swimming to where the Lobster-Tsar waited. He made his obeisance and the other said: "These two unconquerable heroes, my friends, but lately dropped into the sea-ocean a ring, which was swallowed by one of thy subjects. Find and bring hither that ring, else will I war against thee and waste and destroy thy whole Tsardom."

So the Tsar of the Pike-fish, since he feared the Lobster- Tsar, summoned all his people, and when they had gathered together small and great, he questioned them. And a tiny pike-fish swam forward, and said: "O Tsar's Majesty! there is a pike I know who did swallow something this morning which disagreed with him so that he fell sick, and a little while ago he died."

The Tsar of the Pike-fish bade them bring the dead one, and as soon as they did so the dog fell upon it and began to devour it, beginning with the tail. Vaska, the cat, how ever, cunningly made a small hole in its side, stretched in her paw, found the ring and ran off with it, thinking: "While that glutton is dining, I shall run to our master and give him the ring, and he will think that I have found it unaided and will prefer me henceforth over Jourka."

The dog, not noticing Vaska's disappearance, continued to eat the fish until nothing remained save the head. "It is strange," he said to himself, "that my teeth have not yet found the ring." Missing his companion at that moment, however, he guessed what had happened, and ran in pursuit, barking: "Thou cheat! Thou swindler! If I but catch thee I shall tear thee into small pieces!"

Whether in a long time or a short time, he at length overtook the cat, but Vaska, coming to a birch tree, climbed to its top and sat there with the ring in her mouth.

"Very well," said the dog, "thou wilt not sit there for the rest of thy life, and as for me I shall not stir from this spot."

For three days Vaska sat in the birch tree, and during that time the dog did not take his eyes from her. Then the cat said: "Well, Jourka, there is no profit in quarreling. Let us make peace, for if I do not come down our master cannot have his wonder-working ring."

So the dog made peace, and the cat came down from the tree, and together they hastened to their own capital, where Martin sat in the stone column waiting for death. The cat climbed the stone wall and pushed the ring through the little window so that it fell at Martin's feet.

Now for three days past Martin's food and drink had all been gone, and as it had been so long since he had seen his two faithful friends, he had concluded that some misfortune had befallen them and that he must die. When he saw the ring, however, and recognized it as the one he had lost, he rejoiced greatly, and at once, throwing it from one hand to the other, he summoned the twelve youths.

"What wilt thou, Martin the peasant's son?" they asked.

"Bring me," he answered, "food to eat and wine to drink, and since I have been sad, bring a band of musicians and let them play music so sweet that all who hear must stop and listen."

So the food and drink were brought and the music began to play while Martin gladdened his heart, and presently a messenger came to the Tsar and said: "O Tsar's Majesty, the prisoner, thy son-in-law, who should have been dead long ago, is surely a magician. For from the column of stone in which he is prisoned there comes the noise of feasting and merriment and the sound of music, and a great con course of people is gathered in the open square to listen."

The Tsar sent a herald to order them to disperse, but they could not move because of the music, which held even the herald spellbound. He sent, then, a troop of soldiers, but they also were compelled to stay and listen. Finally the Tsar himself, with his attendants, left the Palace and went to the stone column. But hearing the cunning music, he, too, found it impossible to leave the spot, so that he and his Court, his soldiers and well-nigh all the people of his capital, were forced to stand there till they were re to faint from weariness.

At last, when night had come, the Tsar called to Martin saying: "O my son-in-law, let thy music cease! Tell me the meaning of these strange things, and thou shalt be for given!"

Martin caused the musicians to cease playing and called to the Tsar. "O Tsar's Majesty!" he said, "go to thy Palace and sleep. The morning will be wiser than the evening." So the troops dispersed the people, and the Tsar returned to the Palace. Then Martin, summoning the twelve youths, said: "Bring from the thirtieth Tsardom my Palace, with the five-domed cathedral and the crystal bridge, and let my unfaithful wife be brought also."

In the morning when the Tsar went to his balcony he saw all once more as it had been. He hastened to cross the crystal bridge to his son-in-law's Palace, where Martin met him, took his hand, and led him to his council-hall. There he recounted all that had befallen him at the hands of the Tsarevna, his wife. "Thus," he said, "did thy daughter by me, her husband. What, now, shall be her punishment?"

The Tsar considered, and said: "She should be tied to the tail of a wild stallion and her body scattered in the deep ravines, but since she is my daughter and thy wife, I beseech thee, my son-in-law, by thy forgiveness to make her ashamed of her folly and to take her to thee once more."

So Martin sent for his wife, who, having awaked to find her Palace in its old place, knew not what evil death awaited her, and he forgave her and took her again to wife. And she was ashamed, and wept before him and began to love him truly from that moment.

So they dwelt together in happiness always, but to his life's end Martin kept on his finger the wonder-working ring, and parted not with his two friends, Jourka the dog and Vaska the cat.

The text came from:

Wheeler, Post. Russian Wonder Tales. New York: The Century Company, 1912. Buy the book in paperback.

To read more about the changes made to the text and various editions of this book, please see my Notes About This Book.

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Russian Fairy Tales by Post Wheeler

Russian Fairy Tales by Afanasyev

Baba Yaga by Andreas Johns


©Heidi Anne Heiner, SurLaLune Fairy Tales
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