Stories To Read Or Tell From Fairy Tales And Folklore - novelonlinefull.com
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"Then we must not lose our time," said Princess Mary, and in a minute she turned into a river, the prince into an iron bridge the steed into a black raven, and the large road was divided into three smaller roads.
Swiftly the chase was coming by the fresh tracks, but when they came to the river, they stopped perplexed. Up to the bridge they could follow the track, but beyond it the track was lost. Nothing could be done. They had to go back.
King Koshchey was terribly angry when he heard about their failure. "You fools!" cried he. "The river and the bridge must have been they. Couldn't you guess it, you idiots! Go again, and do not fail to bring them with you."
The pursuit started anew.
"I hear the tramping of horses," said Princess Mary to Prince Ivan.
He dismounted again, put his ear against the ground and said, "Yes, they are tramping, and pretty near us."
In a second Princess Mary, together with Prince Ivan and the steed, turned into a wild dark forest. In that forest there were numberless paths, and a horse with two riders seemed to gallop through it. Now the chase came by the fresh track to the forest. They saw the riders and ran after them. The forest reached as far as King Koshchey's underground kingdom. The chase was flying and the horse with the two riders was always before them. Now they almost reached them, now they only had to grasp them,--but no, the steed was again far behind them. And see! There they were again before the entrance to King Koshchey's kingdom at the same place where they started their chase; and everything disappeared,--no more horse, no more forest.
With empty hands the pursuers appeared before King Koshchey. Like one mad the king tossed about. "Wait until I catch that wretch! I will go myself now. Let us see how they are going to escape me!"
Again Princess Mary whispered to Prince Ivan, "I hear tramping."
Again he answered her, "Yes, they are approaching us."
"Woe to us! This is my father himself; but his power reaches only to the first church. Give me the cross you wear upon your neck."
The prince took from his neck the golden cross, the gift of his mother, gave it to the princess, and in a minute she turned into a church, he into a monk, and the steed into a bell-tower.
Right after King Koshchey came with his suite. "Did you not see any travelers pa.s.s by, my venerable man?" he asked the monk.
"Just now Prince Ivan and Princess Mary pa.s.sed by; they went into the church to pray, and asked me to pray for your help, and to remember them to you if you should come to me."
"Oh, I wish they would break their necks, the wretches!" cried King Koshchey. Turning his horse like one possessed, he returned home with his suite. After his arrival he cruelly whipped all his servants.
Ivan with the princess went further, no longer fearing the pursuit. They were riding very slowly. The sun was setting, and suddenly in the evening rays they beheld a beautiful city. Ivan was very anxious to go inside.
"Prince Ivan," said the princess, "do not go; not in vain does my heart ache. A misfortune will happen to us."
"What are you afraid of, dear princess? Let us go in just for a very short time. Let us see the city and then continue the journey."
"It is not hard to get in, but it will be hard to get out. Do as you please. Go, and I will remain here, lying as a white stone upon the road.
Look out, my dear, be careful. The king, queen, and their daughter will come out to meet you with a beautiful child; do not kiss that child. If you do, you will immediately forget me; then I will live no longer; I will die from grief, and you will be the cause of my death. Here at the road I will wait for you for three days. If you do not come--but good-bye now. Go."
Bidding her farewell, the prince went into the city. At the road as a white stone remained Princess Mary. One day pa.s.sed, another pa.s.sed, at last the third day pa.s.sed. The prince did not come. Poor Princess Mary! He did not follow her instructions. In the city he met the king, queen, and their daughter. With them came a beautiful child, a curly-headed boy, very lively, his eyes shining like bright stars. He ran straight into Ivan's arms. The prince was so charmed with his beauty that, losing his mind, he began to kiss his warm cheeks, and at the same time his memory was darkened and he forgot about Princess Mary.
She was seized with grief, "You left me, and I do not want to live any longer." In a moment she turned into a sky-blue flower. "Here by the road I will remain, perhaps somebody pa.s.sing by will tread me down into the earth," said she, and tears like dew-drops glittered upon the blue petals.
An old man pa.s.sed that place. He saw the blue flower. Delighted with its delicate beauty, he dug it carefully out with the roots, carried it into his hut, planted it in a flowerpot, watered it and cared for it tenderly.
What happened? From that time everything was changed in the poor man's hut.
Something wonderful was going on there. When the old man awoke, he found the hut all cleaned and in perfect order. There was nowhere a grain of dust to be found. At noon when he came home, the dinner was cooked and the table neatly set; he had only to sit down and eat. He wondered but could not explain matters. At last he was frightened and went to an old fairy to ask for advice.
"I will tell you what to do," answered the fairy, "get up very early at dawn, before the c.o.c.ks' sing, and look about the hut. Whatever begins to move first, cover it with this kerchief. What happens, you will see."
The whole night the old man lay sleepless in his bed. The sun began to rise, and there was light in the hut. Suddenly he saw that the blue flower moved, flew off its thin stalk and began to fly about the room. Everything went right away to its place, everything was dusted and cleaned, and a bright fire began to burn in the stove. Quickly jumped the old man off his bed and covered the flower with the fairy's kerchief and before him there appeared the beautiful Princess Mary.
"What have you done?" said she. "Why did you bring me to life again? My bridegroom, Prince Ivan, left me and I am forgotten by him."
"Your Prince Ivan is getting married to-day. The wedding-feast is all ready and all the guests have arrived."
Princess Mary cried bitterly. Then she wiped her tears. Putting on a "sarafan" (Russian national dress for women) she went into the city as a country girl. She came into the king's kitchen. The cooks were running here and there in their white caps and ap.r.o.ns. There was plenty of noise, bustle, and clatter. She went up to the chief cook, and with an imploring face and a voice as sweet as a flute said, "Cook dear, allow me to bake the wedding cake for the prince."
The cook, disturbed in his work, wanted to refuse her, but no angry word could escape his lips when he looked at her, and he answered very kindly, "Very well, fair maiden, do what you please; I myself will serve your cake to Prince Ivan."
At the feast when all the guests were sitting around the table, the chief cook put before Ivan a large cake upon a beautiful silver plate. All the guests were surprised at the skill of the baker. But as soon as Ivan cut off the top of it, a new wonder! A pair of pigeons flew out of it. The gray male pigeon was walking upon the table, and the white female after him cooing. "Pigeon, my pigeon, stop, do not run away; you will forget me just as Prince Ivan has forgotten Princess Mary."
Ivan groaned when he heard this. He jumped up like mad, and ran to the door behind which Mary was waiting. Before the palace the black steed all saddled and bridled, was impatiently stamping the ground. They did not tarry. Ivan and his princess rode away. After a long journey they arrived in King Longbeard's kingdom, where the old king and queen gave them a joyful reception. They prepared for the wedding; guests were invited and a great feast feasted. And I was there and feasted with them, and that is the end of the whole story.
A Flea, a Gra.s.shopper, and a Toy-goose once wanted to see which of them could jump highest, and so they invited the whole world and everybody else who would like to come, to see the frolic. When the three met together in the room, everyone thought they were remarkable jumpers.
"Well, I'll give my daughter to the one who jumps highest!" said the king; "for it would not be fair to let these people jump for nothing!"
The first one to step forward was the Flea; he had such perfect manners and bowed on every side, for he had n.o.ble blood in his veins, and more than that, he a.s.sociated only with human beings, which makes a great difference.
Then came the Gra.s.shopper; he was certainly very much larger, however, he carried himself well, and wore the green uniform he was born with.
Moreover, as he said, he belonged to a very old family in the land of Egypt, and was well thought of here at home.
The fact was, when he was brought out of the fields he was put in a house, three storeys high, all made of court-cards with the colored side turned in; both doors and windows were cut out in the waist of the Queen of Hearts. "I sing so well," he said "that sixteen native crickets who had chirped since they were born, and still had no house of cards to live in, grew thinner than they were before out of vexation when they heard of me."
So it was that the Flea and the Gra.s.shopper were able to give a good account of themselves, and saw no reason why they should not marry the princess.
The Toy-goose said nothing; and people thought it was because he knew all the more; the house-dog sniffed at him with his nose, and a.s.sured them the Toy-goose was of good family. The old councilor, who had three orders given him for holding his tongue, said that the Toy-goose was a prophet; for one could see on his back if there would be a severe or mild winter, and that was more than one could see on the back of the man who writes the almanacs.
[Ill.u.s.tration: He jumped so high that n.o.body could see where he went to.]
"Well, I shall say nothing," said the king, "however I have my own opinion."
The trial was to take place at once, so the Flea jumped first. He jumped so high that n.o.body could see where he went to; so they said he had not jumped at all; which was shameful.
The Gra.s.shopper jumped only half as high; but he jumped right into the king's face, which, the king said was most unpleasant.
The Toy-goose stood still for a long time, thinking to himself; at last the people believed he would not jump at all.
"I only hope he is not ill," said the house-dog; when, pop! he made a side jump right into the lap of the princess, who was sitting on a little golden stool close by.
Then the king said, "There is nothing above my daughter; therefore he has made the highest jump that can be made: to do this, one must have a good mind and the Toy-goose has shown that he has a good mind. He has a mind of his own!"
And so he won the princess.