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Title: Russian Fairy Tales - A Choice Collection of Muscovite Folk-lore
Author: Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Russian Fairy Tales - A Choice Collection of Muscovite Folk-lore" ***

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                 Russian Fairy Tales.

                 A CHOICE COLLECTION


                 MUSCOVITE FOLK-LORE.


               W. R. S. RALSTON, M. A.,

                OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM,



[Illustration: The King got on the Eagle's back. Away they went
flying.--Page 131.]

To the Memory of


I Dedicate this Book,



The stories contained in the following pages are taken from the
collections published by Afanasief, Khudyakof, Erlenvein, and
Chudinsky. The South-Russian collections of Kulish and Rudchenko I
have been able to use but little, there being no complete dictionary
available of the dialect, or rather the language, in which they are
written. Of these works that of Afanasief is by far the most
important, extending to nearly 3,000 pages, and containing 332
distinct stories--of many of which several variants are given,
sometimes as many as five. Khudyakof's collection contains 122
skazkas--as the Russian folk-tales are called--Erlenvein's 41, and
Chudinsky's 31. Afanasief has also published a separate volume,
containing 33 "legends," and he has inserted a great number of stories
of various kinds in his "Poetic views of the Old Slavonians about
Nature," a work to which I have had constant recourse.

From the stories contained in what may be called the "chap-book
literature" of Russia, I have made but few extracts. It may, however,
be as well to say a few words about them. There is a Russian word
_lub_, diminutive _lubok_, meaning the soft bark of the lime tree,
which at one time was used instead of paper. The popular tales which
were current in former days were at first printed on sheets or strips
of this substance, whence the term _lubochnuiya_ came to be given to
all such productions of the cheap press, even after paper had taken
the place of bark.[1]

The stories which have thus been preserved have no small interest of
their own, but they cannot be considered as fair illustrations of
Russian folk-lore, for their compilers in many cases took them from
any sources to which they had access, whether eastern or western,
merely adapting what they borrowed to Russian forms of thought and
speech. Through some such process, for instance, seem to have passed
the very popular Russian stories of Eruslan Lazarevich and of Bova
Korolevich. They have often been quoted as "creations of the Slavonic
mind," but there seems to be no reason for doubting that they are
merely Russian adaptations, the first of the adventures of the Persian
Rustem, the second of those of the Italian Buovo di Antona, our Sir
Bevis of Hampton. The editors of these "chap-book skazkas" belonged to
the pre-scientific period, and had a purely commercial object in view.
Their stories were intended simply to sell.

A German version of seventeen of these "chap-book tales," to which
was prefixed an introduction by Jacob Grimm, was published some forty
years ago,[2] and has been translated into English.[3] Somewhat later,
also, appeared a German version of twelve more of these tales.[4]

Of late years several articles have appeared in some of the German
periodicals,[5] giving accounts or translations of some of the Russian
Popular Tales. But no thorough investigation of them appeared in
print, out of Russia, until the publication last year of the erudite
work on "Zoological Mythology" by Professor Angelo de Gubernatis. In
it he has given a summary of the greater part of the stories contained
in the collections of Afanasief and Erlenvein, and so fully has he
described the part played in them by the members of the animal world
that I have omitted, in the present volume, the chapter I had prepared
on the Russian "Beast-Epos."

Another chapter which I have, at least for a time, suppressed, is
that in which I had attempted to say something about the origin and
the meaning of the Russian folk-tales. The subject is so extensive
that it requires for its proper treatment more space than a single
chapter could grant; and therefore, though not without reluctance, I
have left the stories I have quoted to speak for themselves, except in
those instances in which I have given the chief parallels to be found
in the two collections of foreign folk-tales best known to the English
reader, together with a few others which happened to fall within the
range of my own reading. Professor de Gubernatis has discussed at
length, and with much learning, the esoteric meaning of the skazkas,
and their bearing upon the questions to which the "solar theory" of
myth-explanation has given rise. To his volumes, and to those of Mr.
Cox, I refer all who are interested in those fascinating enquiries. My
chief aim has been to familiarize English readers with the Russian
folk-tale; the historical and mythological problems involved in it can
be discussed at a later period. Before long, in all probability, a
copious flood of light will be poured upon the connexion of the
Popular Tales of Russia with those of other lands by one of those
scholars who are best qualified to deal with the subject.[6]

Besides the stories about animals, I have left unnoticed two other
groups of skazkas--those which relate to historical events, and those
in which figure the heroes of the Russian "epic poems" or "metrical
romances." My next volume will be devoted to the Builinas, as those
poems are called, and in it the skazkas which are connected with them
will find their fitting place. In it, also, I hope to find space for
the discussion of many questions which in the present volume I have
been forced to leave unnoticed.

The fifty-one stories which I have translated at length I have
rendered as literally as possible. In the very rare instances in which
I have found it necessary to insert any words by way of explanation, I
have (except in the case of such additions as "he said" or the like)
enclosed them between brackets. In giving summaries, also, I have kept
closely to the text, and always translated literally the passages
marked as quotations. In the imitation of a finished work of art,
elaboration and polish are meet and due, but in a transcript from
nature what is most required is fidelity. An "untouched" photograph is
in certain cases infinitely preferable to one which has been carefully
"worked upon." And it is, as it were, a photograph of the Russian
story-teller that I have tried to produce, and not an ideal portrait.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following are the principal Russian books to which reference has
been made:--

      AFANASIEF (A.N.). Narodnuiya Russkiya Skazki[7]
      [Russian Popular Tales]. 8 pts. Moscow, 1863-60-63.
      Narodnuiya Russkiya Legendui[8] [Russian Popular
      Legends]. Moscow, 1859. Poeticheskiya Vozzryeniya
      Slavyan na Prirodu [Poetic Views of the Slavonians
      about Nature].[9] 3 vols. Moscow, 1865-69.

      KHUDYAKOF (I.A.). Velikorusskiya Skazki [Great-Russian
      Tales]. Moscow, 1860.

      CHUDINSKY (E.A.). Russkiya Narodnuiya Skazki, etc.
      [Russian Popular Tales, etc.]. Moscow, 1864.

      ERLENVEIN (A.A.). Narodnuiya Skazki, etc. [Popular
      Tales, collected by village schoolmasters in the
      Government of Tula]. Moscow, 1863.

      RUDCHENKO (I.). Narodnuiya Yuzhnorusskiya Skazki
      [South-Russian Popular Tales].[10] Kief, 1869.

Most of the other works referred to are too well known to require a
full setting out of their title. But it is necessary to explain that
references to Grimm are as a general rule to the "Kinder- und
Hausmärchen," 9th ed. Berlin, 1870. Those to Asbjörnsen and Moe are to
the "Norske Folke-Eventyr," 3d ed. Christiania, 1866; those to
Asbjörnsen only are to the "New Series" of those tales, Christiania,
1871; those to Dasent are to the "Popular Tales from the Norse," 2d
ed., 1859. The name "Karajich" refers to the "Srpske Narodne
Pripovijetke," published at Vienna in 1853 by Vuk Stefanovich
Karajich, and translated by his daughter under the title of
"Volksmärchen der Serben," Berlin, 1854. By "Schott" is meant the
"Walachische Mährchen," Stuttgart und Tubingen, 1845, by "Schleicher"
the "Litauische Märchen," Weimar, 1857, by "Hahn" the "Griechische und
albanesische Märchen," Leipzig, 1864, by "Haltrich" the "Deutsche
Volksmärchen aus dem Sachsenlande in Siebenbürgen," Berlin, 1856, and
by "Campbell" the "Popular Tales of the West Highlands," 4 vols.,
Edinburgh, 1860-62.

A few of the ghost stories contained in the following pages appeared
in the "Cornhill Magazine" for August 1872, and an account of some of
the "legends" was given in the "Fortnightly Review" for April 1, 1868.


[1] So our word "book," the German _Buch_, is derived from the _Buche_
or beech tree, of which the old Runic staves were formed. Cf. _liber_
and βίβλος.

[2] "Russische Volksmärchen in den Urschriften gesammelt und ins
Deutsche übersetzt von A. Dietrich." Leipzig, 1831.

[3] "Russian Popular Tales," Chapman and Hall, London, 1857.

[4] "Die ältesten Volksmärchen der Russen. Von J. N. Vogl." Wien,

[5] Such as the "Orient und Occident," "Ausland," &c.

[6] Professor Reinhold Köhler, who is said to be preparing a work on
the Skazkas, in co-operation with Professor Jülg, the well-known
editor and translator of the "Siddhi Kür" and "Ardshi Bordschi Khan."

[7] In my copy, pt. 1 and 2 are of the 3d, and pt. 3 and 4 are of the
2d edition. By such a note as "Afanasief, i. No. 2," I mean to refer
to the second story of the first part of this work.

[8] This book is now out of print, and copies fetch a very high price.
I refer to it in my notes as "Afanasief, _Legendui_."

[9] This work is always referred to in my notes as "Afanasief,

[10] There is one other recent collection of skazkas--that published
last year at Geneva under the title of "Russkiya Zavyetnuiya Skazki."
But upon its contents I have not found it necessary to draw.



The Folk-tale in general, and the Skazka in particular--Relation
of Russian Popular Tales to Russian Life--Stories about
Courtship, Death, Burial and Wailings for the Dead--Warnings
against Drink, Jokes about Women, Tales of Simpletons--A rhymed
Skazka and a Legend                                                 15



_Principal Incarnations of Evil._

On the "Mythical Skazkas"--Male embodiments of Evil: 1. The
Snake as the Stealer of Daylight; 2. Norka the Beast, Lord of
the Lower World; 3. Koshchei the Deathless, The Stealer of Fair
Princesses--his connexion with Punchkin and "the Giant who had no
Heart in his Body"--Excursus on Bluebeard's Chamber; 4. The Water
King or Subaqueous Demon--Female Embodiments of Evil: 1. The Baba
Yaga or Hag, and 2. The Witch, feminine counterparts of the
Snake                                                               75



_Miscellaneous Impersonations._

One-eyed Likho, a story of the Polyphemus Cycle--Woe, the Poor
Man's Companion--Friday, Wednesday, and Sunday personified
as Female Spirits--The Léshy or Wood-Demon--Legends about
Rivers--Frost as a Wooer of Maidens--The Whirlwind personified as
a species of Snake or Demon--Morfei and Oh, two supernatural
beings                                                             186



The Waters of Life and Death, and of Strength and Weakness--Aid
given to Children by Dead Parents--Magic Horses, Fish, &c.--Stories
about Brides won by a Leap, &c.--Stories about Wizards and
Witches--The Headless Princess--Midnight Watchings over Corpses--The
Fire Bird, its connexion with the Golden Bird and the Phœnix       237



Slavonic Ideas about the Dead--On Heaven and Hell--On the
Jack and the Beanstalk Story--Harmless Ghosts--The Rip van
Winkle Story--the attachment of Ghosts to their Shrouds and
Coffin-Lids--Murderous Ghosts--Stories about Vampires--on the
name Vampire, and the belief in Vampirism                          295



1. _Saints, &c._

Legends connected with the Dog, the Izba, the Creation of Man,
the Rye, the Snake, Ox, Sole, &c.; with Birds, the Peewit,
Sparrow, Swallow, &c.--Legends about SS. Nicholas, Andrew,
George, Kasian, &c.                                                329

2. _Demons, &c._

Part played by Demons in the Skazkas--On "Hasty Words," and
Parental Curses; their power to subject persons to demoniacal
possession--The dulness of Demons; Stories about Tricks played
upon them--Their Gratitude to those who treat them with Kindness
and their General Behavior--Various Legends about Devils--Moral
Tale of the Gossip's Bedstead                                      361



      I. THE FIEND                                                  24

     II. THE DEAD MOTHER                                            32

    III. THE DEAD WITCH                                             34

     IV. THE TREASURE                                               36

      V. THE CROSS-SURETY                                           40

     VI. THE AWFUL DRUNKARD                                         46

    VII. THE BAD WIFE                                               52

   VIII. THE GOLOVIKHA                                              55

     IX. THE THREE COPECKS                                          56

      X. THE MISER                                                  60

     XI. THE FOOL AND THE BIRCH-TREE                                62

    XII. THE MIZGIR                                                 68

   XIII. THE SMITH AND THE DEMON                                    70

    XIV. IVAN POPYALOF                                              79

     XV. THE NORKA                                                  86

    XVI. MARYA MOREVNA                                              97

   XVII. KOSHCHEI THE DEATHLESS                                    111

  XVIII. THE WATER SNAKE                                           126

    XIX. THE WATER KING AND VASILISSA THE WISE                     130

     XX. THE BABA YAGA                                             148

    XXI. VASILISSA THE FAIR                                        158

   XXII. THE WITCH                                                 171

  XXIII. THE WITCH AND THE SUN'S SISTER                            178

   XXIV. ONE-EYED LIKHO                                            186

    XXV. WOE                                                       193

   XXVI. FRIDAY                                                    207

  XXVII. WEDNESDAY                                                 208

 XXVIII. THE LÉSHY                                                 213

   XXIX. VAZUZA AND VOLGA                                          215

    XXX. SOZH AND DNIEPER                                          216

         VOLGA, AND THE DVINA                                      217

  XXXII. FROST                                                     221

 XXXIII. THE BLIND MAN AND THE CRIPPLE                             246

  XXXIV. PRINCESS HELENA THE FAIR                                  262

   XXXV. EMILIAN THE FOOL                                          269

  XXXVI. THE WITCH GIRL                                            274

 XXXVII. THE HEADLESS PRINCESS                                     276

XXXVIII. THE SOLDIER'S MIDNIGHT WATCH                              279

  XXXIX. THE WARLOCK                                               292

     XL. THE FOX-PHYSICIAN                                         296

    XLI. THE FIDDLER IN HELL                                       303

   XLII. THE RIDE ON THE GRAVESTONE                                308

  XLIII. THE TWO FRIENDS                                           309

   XLIV. THE SHROUD                                                311

    XLV. THE COFFIN-LID                                            314

   XLVI. THE TWO CORPSES                                           316

  XLVII. THE DOG AND THE CORPSE                                    317

 XLVIII. THE SOLDIER AND THE VAMPIRE                               318

   XLIX. ELIJAH THE PROPHET AND NICHOLAS                           344

      L. THE PRIEST WITH THE GREEDY EYES                           355

     LI. THE HASTY WORD                                            370




There are but few among those inhabitants of Fairy-land of whom
"Popular Tales" tell, who are better known to the outer world than
Cinderella--the despised and flouted younger sister, who long sits
unnoticed beside the hearth, then furtively visits the glittering
halls of the great and gay, and at last is transferred from her
obscure nook to the place of honor justly due to her tardily
acknowledged merits. Somewhat like the fortunes of Cinderella have
been those of the popular tale itself. Long did it dwell beside the
hearths of the common people, utterly ignored by their superiors in
social rank. Then came a period during which the cultured world
recognized its existence, but accorded to it no higher rank than that
allotted to "nursery stories" and "old wives' tales"--except, indeed,
on those rare occasions when the charity of a condescending scholar
had invested it with such a garb as was supposed to enable it to make
a respectable appearance in polite society. At length there arrived
the season of its final change, when, transferred from the dusk of the
peasant's hut into the full light of the outer day, and freed from the
unbecoming garments by which it had been disfigured, it was recognized
as the scion of a family so truly royal that some of its members
deduce their origin from the olden gods themselves.

In our days the folk-tale, instead of being left to the careless
guardianship of youth and ignorance, is sedulously tended and held in
high honor by the ripest of scholars. Their views with regard to its
origin may differ widely. But whether it be considered in one of its
phases as a distorted "nature-myth," or in another as a demoralized
apologue or parable--whether it be regarded at one time as a relic of
primeval wisdom, or at another as a blurred transcript of a page of
mediæval history--its critics agree in declaring it to be no mere
creation of the popular fancy, no chance expression of the uncultured
thought of the rude tiller of this or that soil. Rather is it believed
of most folk-tales that they, in their original forms, were framed
centuries upon centuries ago; while of some of them it is supposed
that they may be traced back through successive ages to those myths in
which, during a prehistoric period, the oldest of philosophers
expressed their ideas relative to the material or the spiritual world.

But it is not every popular tale which can boast of so noble a
lineage, and one of the great difficulties which beset the mythologist
who attempts to discover the original meaning of folk-tales in general
is to decide which of them are really antique, and worthy, therefore,
of being submitted to critical analysis. Nor is it less difficult,
when dealing with the stories of any one country in particular, to
settle which may be looked upon as its own property, and which ought
to be considered as borrowed and adapted. Everyone knows that the
existence of the greater part of the stories current among the various
European peoples is accounted for on two different hypotheses--the one
supposing that most of them "were common in germ at least to the Aryan
tribes before their migration," and that, therefore, "these traditions
are as much a portion of the common inheritance of our ancestors as
their language unquestionably is:"[11] the other regarding at least a
great part of them as foreign importations, Oriental fancies which
were originally introduced into Europe, through a series of
translations, by the pilgrims and merchants who were always linking
the East and the West together, or by the emissaries of some of the
heretical sects, or in the train of such warlike transferrers as the
Crusaders, or the Arabs who ruled in Spain, or the Tartars who so long
held the Russia of old times in their grasp. According to the former
supposition, "these very stories, these _Mährchen_, which nurses still
tell, with almost the same words, in the Thuringian forest and in the
Norwegian villages, and to which crowds of children listen under the
pippal trees of India,"[12] belong "to the common heirloom of the
Indo-European race;" according to the latter, the majority of European
popular tales are merely naturalized aliens in Europe, being as little
the inheritance of its present inhabitants as were the stories and
fables which, by a circuitous route, were transmitted from India to
Boccaccio or La Fontaine.

On the questions to which these two conflicting hypotheses give rise
we will not now dwell. For the present, we will deal with the Russian
folk-tale as we find it, attempting to become acquainted with its
principal characteristics to see in what respects it chiefly differs
from the stories of the same class which are current among ourselves,
or in those foreign lands with which we are more familiar than we are
with Russia, rather than to explore its birthplace or to divine its
original meaning.

We often hear it said, that from the songs and stories of a country we
may learn much about the inner life of its people, inasmuch as popular
utterances of this kind always bear the stamp of the national
character, offer a reflex of the national mind. So far as folk-songs
are concerned, this statement appears to be well founded, but it can
be applied to the folk-tales of Europe only within very narrow limits.
Each country possesses certain stories which have special reference to
its own manners and customs, and by collecting such tales as these,
something approximating to a picture of its national life may be
laboriously pieced together. But the stories of this class are often
nothing more than comparatively modern adaptations of old and foreign
themes; nor are they sufficiently numerous, so far as we can judge
from existing collections, to render by any means complete the
national portrait for which they are expected to supply the materials.
In order to fill up the gaps they leave, it is necessary to bring
together a number of fragments taken from stories which evidently
refer to another clime--fragments which may be looked upon as
excrescences or developments due to the novel influences to which the
foreign slip, or seedling, or even full-grown plant, has been
subjected since its transportation.

The great bulk of the Russian folk-tales, and, indeed, of those of
all the Indo-European nations, is devoted to the adventures of such
fairy princes and princesses, such snakes and giants and demons, as
are quite out of keeping with ordinary men and women--at all events
with the inhabitants of modern Europe since the termination of those
internecine struggles between aboriginals and invaders, which some
commentators see typified in the combats between the heroes of our
popular tales and the whole race of giants, trolls, ogres, snakes,
dragons, and other monsters. The air we breathe in them is that of
Fairy-land; the conditions of existence, the relations between the
human race and the spiritual world on the one hand, the material world
on the other, are totally inconsistent with those to which we are now
restricted. There is boundless freedom of intercourse between mortals
and immortals, between mankind and the brute creation, and, although
there are certain conventional rules which must always be observed,
they are not those which are enforced by any people known to
anthropologists. The stories which are common to all Europe differ, no
doubt, in different countries, but their variations, so far as their
matter is concerned, seem to be due less to the moral character than
to the geographical distribution of their reciters. The manner in
which these tales are told, however, may often be taken as a test of
the intellectual capacity of their tellers. For in style the folk-tale
changes greatly as it travels. A story which we find narrated in one
country with terseness and precision may be rendered almost
unintelligible in another by vagueness or verbiage; by one race it may
be elevated into poetic life, by another it may be degraded into the
most prosaic dulness.

Now, so far as style is concerned, the Skazkas or Russian folk-tales,
may justly be said to be characteristic of the Russian people. There
are numerous points on which the "lower classes" of all the Aryan
peoples in Europe closely resemble each other, but the Russian peasant
has--in common with all his Slavonic brethren--a genuine talent for
narrative which distinguishes him from some of his more distant
cousins. And the stories which are current among the Russian peasantry
are for the most part exceedingly well narrated. Their language is
simple and pleasantly quaint, their humor is natural and unobtrusive,
and their descriptions, whether of persons or of events, are often
excellent.[13] A taste for acting is widely spread in Russia, and the
Russian folk-tales are full of dramatic positions which offer a wide
scope for a display of their reciter's mimetic talents. Every here and
there, indeed, a tag of genuine comedy has evidently been attached by
the story-teller to a narrative which in its original form was
probably devoid of the comic element.

And thus from the Russian tales may be derived some idea of the
mental characteristics of the Russian peasantry--one which is very
incomplete, but, within its narrow limits, sufficiently accurate. And
a similar statement may be made with respect to the pictures of
Russian peasant life contained in these tales. So far as they go they
are true to nature, and the notion which they convey to a stranger of
the manners and customs of Russian villagers is not likely to prove
erroneous, but they do not go very far. On some of the questions which
are likely to be of the greatest interest to a foreigner they never
touch. There is very little information to be gleaned from them, for
instance, with regard to the religious views of the people, none with
respect to the relations which, during the times of serfdom, existed
between the lord and the thrall. But from the casual references to
actual scenes and ordinary occupations which every here and there
occur in the descriptions of fairy-land and the narratives of heroic
adventure--from the realistic vignettes which are sometimes inserted
between the idealized portraits of invincible princes and irresistible
princesses--some idea may be obtained of the usual aspect of a Russian
village, and of the ordinary behavior of its inhabitants. Turning from
one to another of these accidental illustrations, we by degrees create
a mental picture which is not without its peculiar charm. We see the
wide sweep of the level corn-land, the gloom of the interminable
forest, the gleam of the slowly winding river. We pass along the
single street of the village, and glance at its wooden barn-like
huts,[14] so different from the ideal English cottage with its windows
set deep in ivy and its porch smiling with roses. We see the land
around a Slough of Despond in the spring, an unbroken sea of green in
the early summer, a blaze of gold at harvest-time, in the winter one
vast sheet of all but untrodden snow. On Sundays and holidays we
accompany the villagers to their white-walled, green-domed church, and
afterwards listen to the songs which the girls sing in the summer
choral dances, or take part in the merriment of the social gatherings,
which enliven the long nights of winter. Sometimes the quaint lyric
drama of a peasant wedding is performed before our eyes, sometimes we
follow a funeral party to one of those dismal and desolate nooks in
which the Russian villagers deposit their dead. On working days we see
the peasants driving afield in the early morn with their long lines of
carts, to till the soil, or ply the scythe or sickle or axe, till the
day is done and their rude carts come creaking back. We hear the songs
and laughter of the girls beside the stream or pool which ripples
pleasantly against its banks in the summer time, but in the winter
shows no sign of life, except at the spot, much frequented by the
wives and daughters of the village, where an "ice-hole" has been cut
in its massive pall. And at night we see the homely dwellings of the
villagers assume a picturesque aspect to which they are strangers by
the tell-tale light of day, their rough lines softened by the mellow
splendor of a summer moon, or their unshapely forms looming forth
mysteriously against the starlit snow of winter. Above all we become
familiar with those cottage interiors to which the stories contain so
many references. Sometimes we see the better class of homestead,
surrounded by its fence through which we pass between the
often-mentioned gates. After a glance at the barns and cattle-sheds,
and at the garden which supplies the family with fruits and vegetables
(on flowers, alas! but little store is set in the northern provinces),
we cross the threshold, a spot hallowed by many traditions, and pass,
through what in more pretentious houses may be called the vestibule,
into the "living room." We become well acquainted with its
arrangements, with the cellar beneath its wooden floor, with the
"corner of honor" in which are placed the "holy pictures," and with
the stove which occupies so large a share of space, within which daily
beats, as it were the heart of the house, above which is nightly taken
the repose of the family. Sometimes we visit the hut of the
poverty-stricken peasant, more like a shed for cattle than a human
habitation, with a mud-floor and a tattered roof, through which the
smoke makes its devious way. In these poorer dwellings we witness much
suffering; but we learn to respect the patience and resignation with
which it is generally borne, and in the greater part of the humble
homes we visit we become aware of the existence of many domestic
virtues, we see numerous tokens of family affection, of filial
reverence, of parental love. And when, as we pass along the village
street at night, we see gleaming through the utter darkness the faint
rays which tell that even in many a poverty-stricken home a lamp is
burning before the "holy pictures," we feel that these poor tillers of
the soil, ignorant and uncouth though they too often are, may be
raised at times by lofty thoughts and noble aspirations far above the
low level of the dull and hard lives which they are forced to lead.

From among the stories which contain the most graphic descriptions of
Russian village life, or which may be regarded as specially
illustrative of Russian sentiment and humor those which the present
chapter contains have been selected. Any information they may convey
will necessarily be of a most fragmentary nature, but for all that it
may be capable of producing a correct impression. A painter's rough
notes and jottings are often more true to nature than the most
finished picture into which they may be developed.

The word skazka, or folk-tale, does not very often occur in the
Russian popular tales themselves. Still there are occasions on which
it appears. The allusions to it are for the most part indirect, as
when a princess is said to be more beautiful than anybody ever was,
except in a skazka; but sometimes it obtains direct notice. In a
story, for instance, of a boy who had been carried off by a Baba Yaga
(a species of witch), we are told that when his sister came to his
rescue she found him "sitting in an arm-chair, while the cat Jeremiah
told him skazkas and sang him songs."[15] In another story, a
_Durak_,--a "ninny" or "gowk"--is sent to take care of the children of
a village during the absence of their parents. "Go and get all the
children together in one of the cottages and tell them skazkas," are
his instructions. He collects the children, but as they are "all ever
so dirty" he puts them into boiling water by way of cleansing them,
and so washes them to death.[16]

There is a good deal of social life in the Russian villages during the
long winter evenings, and at some of the gatherings which then take
place skazkas are told, though at those in which only the young people
participate, songs, games, and dances are more popular. The following
skazka has been selected on account of the descriptions of a
_vechernitsa_, or village _soirée_,[17] and of a rustic courtship,
which its opening scene contains. The rest of the story is not
remarkable for its fidelity to modern life, but it will serve as a
good illustration of the class to which it belongs--that of stories
about evil spirits, traceable, for the most part, to Eastern sources.

  THE FIEND.[18]

  In a certain country there lived an old couple who had a daughter
  called Marusia (Mary). In their village it was customary to
  celebrate the feast of St. Andrew the First-Called (November
  30). The girls used to assemble in some cottage, bake _pampushki_,[19]
  and enjoy themselves for a whole week, or even longer.
  Well, the girls met together once when this festival arrived, and
  brewed and baked what was wanted. In the evening came the
  lads with the music, bringing liquor with them, and dancing and
  revelry commenced. All the girls danced well, but Marusia the
  best of all. After a while there came into the cottage such a
  fine fellow! Marry, come up! regular blood and milk, and
  smartly and richly dressed.

  "Hail, fair maidens!" says he.

  "Hail, good youth!" say they.

  "You're merry-making?"

  "Be so good as to join us."

  Thereupon he pulled out of his pocket a purse full of gold,
  ordered liquor, nuts and gingerbread. All was ready in a trice,
  and he began treating the lads and lasses, giving each a share.
  Then he took to dancing. Why, it was a treat to look at him!
  Marusia struck his fancy more than anyone else; so he stuck
  close to her. The time came for going home.

  "Marusia," says he, "come and see me off."

  She went to see him off.

  "Marusia, sweetheart!" says he, "would you like me to
  marry you?"

  "If you like to marry me, I will gladly marry you. But
  where do you come from?"

  "From such and such a place. I'm clerk at a merchant's."

  Then they bade each other farewell and separated. When
  Marusia got home, her mother asked her:

  "Well, daughter! have you enjoyed yourself?"

  "Yes, mother. But I've something pleasant to tell you besides.
  There was a lad there from the neighborhood, good-looking
  and with lots of money, and he promised to marry me."

  "Harkye Marusia! When you go to where the girls are to-morrow,
  take a ball of thread with you, make a noose in it, and,
  when you are going to see him off, throw it over one of his buttons,
  and quietly unroll the ball; then, by means of the thread,
  you will be able to find out where he lives."

  Next day Marusia went to the gathering, and took a ball of
  thread with her. The youth came again.

  "Good evening, Marusia!" said he.

  "Good evening!" said she.

  Games began and dances. Even more than before did he
  stick to Marusia, not a step would he budge from her. The time
  came for going home.

  "Come and see me off, Marusia!" says the stranger.

  She went out into the street, and while she was taking leave
  of him she quietly dropped the noose over one of his buttons.
  He went his way, but she remained where she was, unrolling the
  ball. When she had unrolled the whole of it, she ran after the
  thread to find out where her betrothed lived. At first the thread
  followed the road, then it stretched across hedges and ditches,
  and led Marusia towards the church and right up to the porch.
  Marusia tried the door; it was locked. She went round the
  church, found a ladder, set it against a window, and climbed up
  it to see what was going on inside. Having got into the church,
  she looked--and saw her betrothed standing beside a grave and
  devouring a dead body--for a corpse had been left for that
  night in the church.

  She wanted to get down the ladder quietly, but her fright prevented
  her from taking proper heed, and she made a little noise.
  Then she ran home--almost beside herself, fancying all the
  time she was being pursued. She was all but dead before she
  got in. Next morning her mother asked her:

  "Well, Marusia! did you see the youth?"

  "I saw him, mother," she replied. But what else she had
  seen she did not tell.

  In the morning Marusia was sitting, considering whether she
  would go to the gathering or not.

  "Go," said her mother. "Amuse yourself while you're

  So she went to the gathering; the Fiend[20] was there already.
  Games, fun, dancing, began anew; the girls knew nothing of
  what had happened. When they began to separate and go

  "Come, Marusia!" says the Evil One, "see me off."

  She was afraid, and didn't stir. Then all the other girls
  opened out upon her.

  "What are you thinking about? Have you grown so bashful,
  forsooth? Go and see the good lad off."

  There was no help for it. Out she went, not knowing what
  would come of it. As soon as they got into the streets he began
  questioning her:

  "You were in the church last night?"


  "And saw what I was doing there?"


  "Very well! To-morrow your father will die!"

  Having said this, he disappeared.

  Marusia returned home grave and sad. When she woke up
  in the morning, her father lay dead!

  They wept and wailed over him, and laid him in the coffin.
  In the evening her mother went off to the priest's, but Marusia
  remained at home. At last she became afraid of being alone in
  the house. "Suppose I go to my friends," she thought. So
  she went, and found the Evil One there.

  "Good evening, Marusia! why arn't you merry?"

  "How can I be merry? My father is dead!"

  "Oh! poor thing!"

  They all grieved for her. Even the Accursed One himself
  grieved; just as if it hadn't all been his own doing. By and by
  they began saying farewell and going home.

  "Marusia," says he, "see me off."

  She didn't want to.

  "What are you thinking of, child?" insist the girls. "What
  are you afraid of? Go and see him off."

  So she went to see him off. They passed out into the street.

  "Tell me, Marusia," says he, "were you in the church?"


  "Did you see what I was doing?"


  "Very well! To-morrow your mother will die."

  He spoke and disappeared. Marusia returned home sadder
  than ever. The night went by; next morning, when she awoke,
  her mother lay dead! She cried all day long; but when the
  sun set, and it grew dark around, Marusia became afraid of
  being left alone; so she went to her companions.

  "Why, whatever's the matter with you? you're clean out of
  countenance!"[21] say the girls.

  "How am I likely to be cheerful? Yesterday my father
  died, and to-day my mother."

  "Poor thing! Poor unhappy girl!" they all exclaim sympathizingly.

  Well, the time came to say good-bye. "See me off, Marusia,"
  says the Fiend. So she went out to see him off.

  "Tell me; were you in the church?"


  "And saw what I was doing?"


  "Very well! To-morrow evening you will die yourself!"

  Marusia spent the night with her friends; in the morning
  she got up and considered what she should do. She bethought
  herself that she had a grandmother--an old, very old woman,
  who had become blind from length of years. "Suppose I go
  and ask her advice," she said, and then went off to her grandmother's.

  "Good-day, granny!" says she.

  "Good-day, granddaughter! What news is there with you?
  How are your father and mother?"

  "They are dead, granny," replied the girl, and then told
  her all that had happened.

  The old woman listened, and said:--

  "Oh dear me! my poor unhappy child! Go quickly to the
  priest, and ask him this favor--that if you die, your body shall
  not be taken out of the house through the doorway, but that the
  ground shall be dug away from under the threshold, and that
  you shall be dragged out through that opening. And also beg
  that you may be buried at a crossway, at a spot where four
  roads meet."

  Marusia went to the priest, wept bitterly, and made him promise
  to do everything according to her grandmother's instructions.
  Then she returned home, bought a coffin, lay down in it,
  and straightway expired.

  Well, they told the priest, and he buried, first her father and
  mother, and then Marusia herself. Her body was passed underneath
  the threshold and buried at a crossway.

  Soon afterwards a seigneur's son happened to drive past
  Marusia's grave. On that grave he saw growing a wondrous
  flower, such a one as he had never seen before. Said the
  young seigneur to his servant:--

  "Go and pluck up that flower by the roots. We'll take
  it home and put it in a flower-pot. Perhaps it will blossom

  Well, they dug up the flower, took it home, put it in a glazed
  flower-pot, and set it in a window. The flower began to grow
  larger and more beautiful. One night the servant hadn't gone
  to sleep somehow, and he happened to be looking at the window,
  when he saw a wondrous thing take place. All of a sudden the
  flower began to tremble, then it fell from its stem to the ground,
  and turned into a lovely maiden. The flower was beautiful, but
  the maiden was more beautiful still. She wandered from room
  to room, got herself various things to eat and drink, ate and
  drank, then stamped upon the ground and became a flower
  as before, mounted to the window, and resumed her place upon
  the stem. Next day the servant told the young seigneur of the
  wonders which he had seen during the night.

  "Ah, brother!" said the youth, "why didn't you wake me?
  To-night we'll both keep watch together."

  The night came; they slept not, but watched. Exactly at
  twelve o'clock the blossom began to shake, flew from place to
  place, and then fell to the ground, and the beautiful maiden
  appeared, got herself things to eat and drink, and sat down to
  supper. The young seigneur rushed forward and seized her by
  her white hands. Impossible was it for him sufficiently to look
  at her, to gaze on her beauty!

  Next morning he said to his father and mother, "Please
  allow me to get married. I've found myself a bride."

  His parents gave their consent. As for Marusia, she said:

  "Only on this condition will I marry you--that for four years
  I need not go to church."

  "Very good," said he.

  Well, they were married, and they lived together one year,
  two years, and had a son. But one day they had visitors at
  their house, who enjoyed themselves, and drank, and began
  bragging about their wives. This one's wife was handsome;
  that one's was handsomer still.

  "You may say what you like," says the host, "but a handsomer
  wife than mine does not exist in the whole world!"

  "Handsome, yes!" reply the guests, "but a heathen."

  "How so?"

  "Why, she never goes to church."

  Her husband found these observations distasteful. He
  waited till Sunday, and then told his wife to get dressed for

  "I don't care what you may say," says he. "Go and get
  ready directly."

  Well, they got ready, and went to church. The husband
  went in--didn't see anything particular. But when she looked
  round--there was the Fiend sitting at a window.

  "Ha! here you are, at last!" he cried. "Remember old
  times. Were you in the church that night?"


  "And did you see what I was doing there?"


  "Very well! To-morrow both your husband and your son will

  Marusia rushed straight out of the church and away to her
  grandmother. The old woman gave her two phials, the one full
  of holy water, the other of the water of life, and told her what
  she was to do. Next day both Marusia's husband and her son
  died. Then the Fiend came flying to her and asked:--

  "Tell me; were you in the church?"

  "I was."

  "And did you see what I was doing?"

  "You were eating a corpse."

  She spoke, and splashed the holy water over him; in a
  moment he turned into mere dust and ashes, which blew to the
  winds. Afterwards she sprinkled her husband and her boy with
  the water of life: straightway they revived. And from that
  time forward they knew neither sorrow nor separation, but they
  all lived together long and happily.[22]

Another lively sketch of a peasant's love-making is given in the
introduction to the story of "Ivan the widow's son and Grisha."[23]
The tale is one of magic and enchantment, of living clouds and
seven-headed snakes; but the opening is a little piece of still-life
very quaintly portrayed. A certain villager, named Trofim, having been
unable to find a wife, his Aunt Melania comes to his aid, promising to
procure him an interview with a widow who has been left well provided
for, and whose personal appearance is attractive--"real blood and
milk! When she's got on her holiday clothes, she's as fine as a
peacock!" Trofim grovels with gratitude at his aunt's feet. "My own
dear auntie, Melania Prokhorovna, get me married for heaven's sake!
I'll buy you an embroidered kerchief in return, the very best in the
whole market." The widow comes to pay Melania a visit, and is induced
to believe, on the evidence of beans (frequently used for the purpose
of divination), that her destined husband is close at hand. At this
propitious moment Trofim appears. Melania makes a little speech to the
young couple, ending her recommendation to get married with the

"I can see well enough by the bridegroom's eyes that the bride is to
his taste, only I don't know what the bride thinks about taking him."

"I don't mind!" says the widow. "Well, then, glory be to God! Now,
stand up, we'll say a prayer before the Holy Pictures; then give each
other a kiss, and go in Heaven's name and get married at once!" And so
the question is settled.

From a courtship and a marriage in peasant life we may turn to a death
and a burial. There are frequent allusions in the Skazkas to these
gloomy subjects, with reference to which we will quote two stories,
the one pathetic, the other (unintentionally) grotesque. Neither of
them bears any title in the original, but we may style the first--


  In a certain village there lived a husband and wife--lived happily,
  lovingly, peaceably. All their neighbors envied them; the
  sight of them gave pleasure to honest folks. Well, the mistress
  bore a son, but directly after it was born she died.
  The poor moujik moaned and wept. Above all he was in despair
  about the babe. How was he to nourish it now? how to
  bring it up without its mother? He did what was best, and
  hired an old woman to look after it. Only here was a wonder!
  all day long the babe would take no food, and did nothing but
  cry; there was no soothing it anyhow. But during (a great
  part of) the night one could fancy it wasn't there at all, so silently
  and peacefully did it sleep.

  "What's the meaning of this?" thinks the old woman; "suppose
  I keep awake to-night; may be I shall find out."

  Well, just at midnight she heard some one quietly open the
  door and go up to the cradle. The babe became still, just as if
  it was being suckled.

  The next night the same thing took place, and the third
  night, too. Then she told the moujik about it. He called his
  kinsfolk together, and held counsel with them. They determined
  on this; to keep awake on a certain night, and to spy out
  who it was that came to suckle the babe. So at eventide they
  all lay down on the floor, and beside them they set a lighted
  taper hidden in an earthen pot.

  At midnight the cottage door opened. Some one stepped
  up to the cradle. The babe became still. At that moment one
  of the kinsfolk suddenly brought out the light. They looked,
  and saw the dead mother, in the very same clothes in which
  she had been buried, on her knees besides the cradle, over
  which she bent as she suckled the babe at her dead breast.

  The moment the light shone in the cottage she stood up,
  gazed sadly on her little one, and then went out of the room
  without a sound, not saying a word to anyone. All those who
  saw her stood for a time terror-struck; and then they found the
  babe was dead.[25]

The second story will serve as an illustration of one of the Russian
customs with respect to the dead, and also of the ideas about
witchcraft, still prevalent in Russia. We may create for it the title


  There was once an old woman who was a terrible witch, and
  she had a daughter and a granddaughter. The time came for
  the old crone to die, so she summoned her daughter and gave
  her these instructions:

  "Mind, daughter! when I'm dead, don't you wash my body
  with lukewarm water; but fill a cauldron, make it boil its very
  hottest, and then with that boiling water regularly scald me all

  After saying this, the witch lay ill two or three days, and
  then died. The daughter ran round to all her neighbors, begging
  them to come and help her to wash the old woman, and
  meantime the little granddaughter was left all alone in the cottage.
  And this is what she saw there. All of a sudden there
  crept out from beneath the stove two demons--a big one and
  a tiny one--and they ran up to the dead witch. The old demon
  seized her by the feet, and tore away at her so that he stripped
  off all her skin at one pull. Then he said to the little demon:

  "Take the flesh for yourself, and lug it under the stove."

  So the little demon flung his arms round the carcase, and
  dragged it under the stove. Nothing was left of the old woman
  but her skin. Into it the old demon inserted himself, and then
  he lay down just where the witch had been lying.

  Presently the daughter came back, bringing a dozen other
  women with her, and they all set to work laying out the corpse.

  "Mammy," says the child, "they've pulled granny's skin off
  while you were away."

  "What do you mean by telling such lies?"

  "It's quite true, Mammy! There was ever such a blackie
  came from under the stove, and he pulled the skin off, and got
  into it himself."

  "Hold your tongue, naughty child! you're talking nonsense!"
  cried the old crone's daughter; then she fetched a big cauldron,
  filled it with cold water, put it on the stove, and heated it till it
  boiled furiously. Then the women lifted up the old crone, laid
  her in a trough, took hold of the cauldron, and poured the whole
  of the boiling water over her at once. The demon couldn't
  stand it. He leaped out of the trough, dashed through the
  doorway, and disappeared, skin and all. The women stared:

  "What marvel is this?" they cried. "Here was the dead
  woman, and now she isn't here. There's nobody left to lay out
  or to bury. The demons have carried her off before our very

A Russian peasant funeral is preceded or accompanied by a
considerable amount of wailing, which answers in some respect to the
Irish "keening." To the _zaplachki_,[28] or laments, which are uttered
on such occasions--frequently by hired wailers, who closely resemble
the Corsican "vociferators," the modern Greek "myrologists"--allusions
are sometimes made in the Skazkas. In the "Fox-wailer,"[29] for
example--one of the variants of the well-known "Jack and the
Beanstalk" story--an old man puts his wife in a bag and attempts to
carry her up the beanstalk to heaven. Becoming tired on the way, he
drops the bag, and the old woman is killed. After weeping over her
dead body he sets out in search of a Wailer. Meeting a bear, he cries,
"Wail a bit, Bear, for my old woman! I'll give you a pair of nice
white fowls." The bear growls out "Oh, dear granny of mine! how I
grieve for thee!" "No, no!" says the old man, "you can't wail." Going
a little further he tries a wolf, but the wolf succeeds no better than
the bear. At last a fox comes by, and on being appealed to, begins to
cry aloud "Turu-Turu, grandmother! grandfather has killed thee!"--a
wail which pleases the widower so much that he hands over the fowls to
the fox at once, and asks, enraptured, for "that strain again!"[30]

One of the most curious of the stories which relate to a village
burial,--one in which also the feeling with which the Russian
villagers sometimes regard their clergy finds expression--is that


  In a certain kingdom there lived an old couple in great poverty.
  Sooner or later the old woman died. It was in winter, in severe
  and frosty weather. The old man went round to his friends and
  neighbors, begging them to help him to dig a grave for the old
  woman; but his friends and neighbors, knowing his great poverty,
  all flatly refused. The old man went to the pope,[32] (but in that
  village they had an awfully grasping pope, one without any
  conscience), and says he:--

  "Lend a hand, reverend father, to get my old woman buried."

  "But have you got any money to pay for the funeral? if
  so, friend, pay up beforehand!"

  "It's no use hiding anything from you. Not a single copeck
  have I at home. But if you'll wait a little, I'll earn some, and
  then I'll pay you with interest--on my word I'll pay you!"

  The pope wouldn't so much as listen to the old man.

  "If you haven't any money, don't you dare to come here,"
  says he.

  "What's to be done?" thinks the old man. "I'll go to the
  graveyard, dig a grave as I best can, and bury the old woman
  myself." So he took an axe and a shovel, and went to the graveyard.
  When he got there he began to prepare a grave. He
  chopped away the frozen ground on the top with the axe, and
  then he took to the shovel. He dug and dug, and at last he dug
  out a metal pot. Looking into it he saw that it was stuffed full
  of ducats that shone like fire. The old man was immensely delighted,
  and cried, "Glory be to Thee, O Lord! I shall have
  wherewithal both to bury my old woman, and to perform the
  rites of remembrance."

  He did not go on digging the grave any longer, but took the
  pot of gold and carried it home. Well, we all know what money
  will do--everything went as smooth as oil! In a trice there
  were found good folks to dig the grave and fashion the coffin.
  The old man sent his daughter-in-law to purchase meat and
  drink and different kind of relishes--everything there ought to
  be at memorial feasts--and he himself took a ducat in his hand
  and hobbled back again to the pope's. The moment he reached
  the door, out flew the pope at him.

  "You were distinctly told, you old lout, that you were not to
  come here without money; and now you've slunk back again."

  "Don't be angry, batyushka,"[33] said the old man imploringly.
  "Here's gold for you. If you'll only bury my old woman, I'll
  never forget your kindness."

  The pope took the money, and didn't know how best to
  receive the old man, where to seat him, with what words to
  smooth him down. "Well now, old friend! Be of good cheer;
  everything shall be done," said he.

  The old man made his bow, and went home, and the pope
  and his wife began talking about him.

  "There now, the old hunks!" they say. "So poor, forsooth,
  so poor! And yet he's paid a gold piece. Many a defunct
  person of quality have I buried in my time, but I never got so
  from anyone before."

  The pope got under weigh with all his retinue, and buried
  the old crone in proper style. After the funeral the old man
  invited him to his house, to take part in the feast in memory of
  the dead. Well, they entered the cottage, and sat down to table--and
  there appeared from somewhere or other meat and drink
  and all sorts of snacks, everything in profusion. The (reverend)
  guest sat down, ate for three people, looked greedily at what
  was not his. The (other) guests finished their meal, and separated
  to go to their homes; then the pope also rose from the
  table. The old man went to speed him on his way. As soon
  as they got into the farmyard, and the pope saw they were alone
  at last, he began questioning the old man: "Listen, friend!
  confess to me, don't leave so much as a single sin on your soul--it's
  just the same before me as before God! How have you
  managed to get on at such a pace? You used to be a poor
  moujik, and now--marry! where did it come from? Confess,
  friend, whose breath have you stopped? whom have you

  "What are you talking about, batyushka? I will tell you the
  exact truth. I have not robbed, nor plundered, nor killed anyone.
  A treasure tumbled into my hands of its own accord."

  And he told him how it all happened. When the pope
  heard these words he actually shook all over with greediness.
  Going home, he did nothing by night and by day but think,
  "That such a wretched lout of a moujik should have come in
  for such a lump of money! Is there any way of tricking him
  now, and getting this pot of money out of him?" He told his
  wife about it, and he and she discussed the matter together, and
  held counsel over it.

  "Listen, mother," says he; "we've a goat, haven't we?"


  "All right, then; we'll wait until it's night, and then we'll do
  the job properly."

  Late in the evening the pope dragged the goat indoors, killed
  it, and took off its skin--horns, beard, and all complete. Then
  he pulled the goat's skin over himself and said to his wife:

  "Bring a needle and thread, mother, and fasten up the skin
  all round, so that it mayn't slip off."

  So she took a strong needle, and some tough thread, and
  sewed him up in the goatskin. Well, at the dead of night, the
  pope went straight to the old man's cottage, got under the window,
  and began knocking and scratching. The old man hearing
  the noise, jumped up and asked:

  "Who's there?"

  "The Devil!"

  "Ours is a holy spot![34]" shrieked the moujik, and began
  crossing himself and uttering prayers.

  "Listen, old man," says the pope, "From me thou will not
  escape, although thou may'st pray, although thou may'st cross
  thyself; much better give me back my pot of money, otherwise I
  will make thee pay for it. See now, I pitied thee in thy misfortune,
  and I showed thee the treasure, thinking thou wouldst
  take a little of it to pay for the funeral, but thou hast pillaged it

  The old man looked out of window--the goat's horns and
  beard caught his eye--it was the Devil himself, no doubt of it.

  "Let's get rid of him, money and all," thinks the old man;
  "I've lived before now without money, and now I'll go on living
  without it."

  So he took the pot of gold, carried it outside, flung it on the
  ground, and bolted indoors again as quickly as possible.

  The pope seized the pot of money, and hastened home.
  When he got back, "Come," says he, "the money is in our
  hands now. Here, mother, put it well out of sight, and take a
  sharp knife, cut the thread, and pull the goatskin off me before
  anyone sees it."

  She took a knife, and was beginning to cut the thread at the
  seam, when forth flowed blood, and the pope began to howl:

  "Oh! it hurts, mother, it hurts! don't cut mother, don't

  She began ripping the skin open in another place, but with
  just the same result. The goatskin had united with his body all
  round. And all that they tried, and all that they did, even to taking
  the money back to the old man, was of no avail. The goatskin
  remained clinging tight to the pope all the same. God evidently
  did it to punish him for his great greediness.

A somewhat less heathenish story with regard to money is the
following, which may be taken as a specimen of the Skazkas which bear
the impress of the genuine reverence which the peasants feel for their
religion, whatever may be the feelings they entertain towards its
ministers. While alluding to this subject, by the way, it may be as
well to remark that no great reliance can be placed upon the evidence
contained in the folk-tales of any land, with respect to the relations
between its clergy and their flocks. The local parson of folk-lore is,
as a general rule, merely the innocent inheritor of the bad reputation
acquired by some ecclesiastic of another age and clime.


  Once upon a time two merchants lived in a certain town just on
  the verge of a stream. One of them was a Russian, the other a
  Tartar; both were rich. But the Russian got so utterly ruined
  by some business or other that he hadn't a single bit of property
  left. Everything he had was confiscated or stolen. The Russian
  merchant had nothing to turn to--he was left as poor as a
  rat.[36] So he went to his friend the Tartar, and besought him to
  lend him some money.

  "Get me a surety," says the Tartar.

  "But whom can I get for you, seeing that I haven't a soul
  belonging to me? Stay, though! there's a surety for you, the
  life-giving cross on the church!"

  "Very good, my friend!" says the Tartar. "I'll trust your
  cross. Your faith or ours, it's all one to me."

  And he gave the Russian merchant fifty thousand roubles.
  The Russian took the money, bade the Tartar farewell, and
  went back to trade in divers places.

  By the end of two years he had gained a hundred and fifty
  thousand roubles by the fifty thousand he had borrowed. Now
  he happened to be sailing one day along the Danube, going with
  wares from one place to another, when all of a sudden a storm
  arose, and was on the point of sinking the ship he was in. Then
  the merchant remembered how he had borrowed money, and
  given the life-giving cross as a surety, but had not paid his debt.
  That was doubtless the cause of the storm arising! No sooner
  had he said this to himself than the storm began to subside.
  The merchant took a barrel, counted out fifty thousand roubles,
  wrote the Tartar a note, placed it, together with the money, in
  the barrel, and then flung the barrel into the water, saying to
  himself: "As I gave the cross as my surety to the Tartar, the
  money will be certain to reach him."

  The barrel straightway sank to the bottom; everyone supposed
  the money was lost. But what happened? In the Tartar's
  house there lived a Russian kitchen-maid. One day she
  happened to go to the river for water, and when she got there
  she saw a barrel floating along. So she went a little way into
  the water and began trying to get hold of it. But it wasn't to be
  done! When she made at the barrel, it retreated from her:
  when she turned from the barrel to the shore, it floated after
  her. She went on trying and trying for some time, then she
  went home and told her master all that had happened. At first
  he wouldn't believe her, but at last he determined to go to the
  river and see for himself what sort of barrel it was that was
  floating there. When he got there--sure enough there was the
  barrel floating, and not far from the shore. The Tartar took off
  his clothes and went into the water; before he had gone any
  distance the barrel came floating up to him of its own accord.
  He laid hold of it, carried it home, opened it, and looked inside.
  There he saw a quantity of money, and on top of the money a
  note. He took out the note and read it, and this is what was
  said in it:--

  "Dear friend! I return to you the fifty thousand roubles for
  which, when I borrowed them from you, I gave the life-giving
  cross as a surety."

  The Tartar read these words and was astounded at the power
  of the life-giving cross. He counted the money over to see
  whether the full sum was really there. It was there exactly.

  Meanwhile, the Russian merchant, after trading some five
  years, made a tolerable fortune. Well, he returned to his old
  home, and, thinking that his barrel had been lost, he considered
  it his first duty to settle with the Tartar. So he went to his
  house and offered him the money he had borrowed. Then the
  Tartar told him all that had happened and how he had found
  the barrel in the river, with the money and the note inside it.
  Then he showed him the note, saying:

  "Is that really your hand?"

  "It certainly is," replied the other.

  Every one was astounded at this wondrous manifestation,
  and the Tartar said:

  "Then I've no more money to receive from you, brother;
  take that back again."

  The Russian merchant had a service performed as a thank-offering
  to God, and next day the Tartar was baptized with all
  his household. The Russian merchant was his godfather, and
  the kitchen-maid his godmother. After that they both lived
  long and happily, survived to a great age, and then died peacefully.[37]

There is one marked feature in the Russian peasant's character to
which the Skazkas frequently refer--his passion for drink. To him
strong liquor is a friend, a comforter, a solace amid the ills of
life. Intoxication is not so much an evil to be dreaded or remembered
with shame, as a joy to be fondly anticipated, or classed with the
happy memories of the past. By him drunkenness is regarded, like
sleep, as the friend of woe--and a friend whose services can be even
more readily commanded. On certain occasions he almost believes that
to get drunk is a duty he owes either to the Church, or to the memory
of the Dead; at times without the slightest apparent cause, he is
seized by a sudden and irresistible craving for ardent spirits, and he
commences a drinking-bout which lasts--with intervals of coma--for
days, or even weeks, after which he resumes his everyday life and his
usual sobriety as calmly as if no interruption had taken place. All
these ideas and habits of his find expression in his popular tales,
giving rise to incidents which are often singularly out of keeping
with the rest of the narrative in which they occur. In one of the many
variants,[38] for instance, of a widespread and well known story--that
of the three princesses who are rescued from captivity by a hero from
whom they are afterwards carried away, and who refuse to get married
until certain clothes or shoes or other things impossible for ordinary
workmen to make are supplied to them--an unfortunate shoemaker is told
that if he does not next day produce the necessary shoes (of perfect
fit, although no measure has been taken, and all set thick with
precious stones) he shall be hanged. Away he goes at once to a
_traktir_, or tavern, and sets to work to drown his grief in drink.
After awhile he begins to totter. "Now then," he says, "I'll take home
a bicker of spirits with me, and go to bed. And to-morrow morning, as
soon as they come to fetch me to be hanged, I'll toss off half the
bickerful. They may hang me then without my knowing anything about

In the story of the "Purchased Wife," the Princess Anastasia, the
Beautiful, enables the youth Ivan, who ransoms her, to win a large sum
of money in the following manner. Having worked a piece of embroidery,
she tells him to take it to market. "But if any one purchases it,"
says she, "don't take any money from him, but ask him to give you
liquor enough to make you drunk." Ivan obeys, and this is the result.
He drank till he was intoxicated, and when he left the kabak (or
pot-house) he tumbled into a muddy pool. A crowd collected and folks
looked at him and said scoffingly, "Oh, the fair youth! now'd be the
time for him to go to church to get married!"

"Fair or foul!" says he, "if I bid her, Anastasia the Beautiful will
kiss the crown of my head."

"Don't go bragging like that!" says a rich merchant--"why she wouldn't
even so much as look at you," and offers to stake all that he is worth
on the truth of his assertion. Ivan accepts the wager. The Princess
appears, takes him by the hand, kisses him on the crown of his head,
wipes the dirt off him, and leads him home, still inebriated but no
longer impecunious.[40]

Sometimes even greater people than the peasants get drunk. The story
of "Semilétka"[41]--a variant of the well known tale of how a woman's
wit enables her to guess all riddles, to detect all deceits, and to
conquer all difficulties--relates how the heroine was chosen by a
Voyvode[42] as his wife, with the stipulation that if she meddled in
the affairs of his Voyvodeship she was to be sent back to her father,
but allowed to take with her whatever thing belonging to her she
prized most. The marriage takes place, but one day the well known case
comes before him for decision, of the foal of the borrowed mare--does
it belong to the owner of the mare, or to the borrower in whose
possession it was at the time of foaling? The Voyvode adjudges it to
the borrower, and this is how the story ends:--

"Semilétka heard of this and could not restrain herself, but said that
he had decided unfairly. The Voyvode waxed wroth, and demanded a
divorce. After dinner Semilétka was obliged to go back to her father's
house. But during the dinner she made the Voyvode drink till he was
intoxicated. He drank his fill and went to sleep. While he was
sleeping she had him placed in a carriage, and then she drove away
with him to her father's. When they had arrived there the Voyvode
awoke and said--

"'Who brought me here?'

"'I brought you,' said Semilétka; 'there was an agreement between us
that I might take away with me whatever I prized most. And so I have
taken you!'

"The Voyvode marvelled at her wisdom, and made peace with her. He and
she then returned home and went on living prosperously."

But although drunkenness is very tenderly treated in the Skazkas, as
well as in the folk-songs, it forms the subject of many a moral
lesson, couched in terms of the utmost severity, in the _stikhi_ (or
poems of a religious character, sung by the blind beggars and other
wandering minstrels who sing in front of churches), and also in the
"Legends," which are tales of a semi-religious (or rather
demi-semi-religious) nature. No better specimen of the stories of this
class referring to drunkenness can be offered than the history of--


  Once there was an old man who was such an awful drunkard
  as passes all description. Well, one day he went to a kabak,
  intoxicated himself with liquor, and then went staggering home
  blind drunk. Now his way happened to lie across a river.
  When he came to the river, he didn't stop long to consider, but
  kicked off his boots, hung them round his neck, and walked
  into the water. Scarcely had he got half-way across when he
  tripped over a stone, tumbled into the water--and there was an
  end of him.

  Now, he left a son called Petrusha.[44] When Peter saw that
  his father had disappeared and left no trace behind, he took the
  matter greatly to heart for a time, he wept for awhile, he had a
  service performed for the repose of his father's soul, and he
  began to act as head of the family. One Sunday he went to
  church to pray to God. As he passed along the road a woman
  was pounding away in front of him. She walked and walked,
  stumbled over a stone, and began swearing at it, saying, "What
  devil shoved you under my feet?"

  Hearing these words, Petrusha said:

  "Good day, aunt! whither away?"

  "To church, my dear, to pray to God."

  "But isn't this sinful conduct of yours? You're going to
  church, to pray to God, and yet you think about the Evil One;
  your foot stumbles and you throw the fault on the Devil!"

  Well, he went to church and then returned home. He
  walked and walked, and suddenly, goodness knows whence,
  there appeared before him a fine-looking man, who saluted him
  and said:

  "Thanks, Petrusha, for your good word!"

  "Who are you, and why do you thank me?" asks Petrusha.

  "I am the Devil.[45] I thank you because, when that woman
  stumbled, and scolded me without a cause, you said a good
  word for me." Then he began to entreat him, saying, "Come
  and pay me a visit, Petrusha. How I will reward you to be
  sure! With silver and with gold, with everything will I endow

  "Very good," says Petrusha, "I'll come."

  Having told him all about the road he was to take, the Devil
  straightway disappeared, and Petrusha returned home.

  Next day Petrusha set off on his visit to the Devil. He
  walked and walked, for three whole days did he walk, and then he
  reached a great forest, dark and dense--impossible even to see
  the sky from within it! And in that forest there stood a rich
  palace. Well, he entered the palace, and a fair maiden caught
  sight of him. She had been stolen from a certain village by the
  evil spirit. And when she caught sight of him she cried:

  "Whatever have you come here for, good youth? here
  devils abide, they will tear you to pieces."

  Petrusha told her how and why he had made his appearance
  in that palace.

  "Well now, mind this," says the fair maiden; "the Devil will
  begin giving you silver and gold. Don't take any of it, but ask
  him to give you the very wretched horse which the evil spirits
  use for fetching wood and water. That horse is your father.
  When he came out of the kabak drunk, and fell into the water,
  the devils immediately seized him and made him their hack, and
  now they use him for fetching wood and water."

  Presently there appeared the gallant who had invited
  Petrusha, and began to regale him with all kinds of meat and
  drink. And when the time came for Petrusha to be going homewards,
  "Come," said the Devil, "I will provide you with
  money and with a capital horse, so that you will speedily get

  "I don't want anything," replied Petrusha. "Only, if you
  wish to make me a present, give me that sorry jade which you
  use for carrying wood and water."

  "What good will that be to you? If you ride it home
  quickly, I expect it will die!"

  "No matter, let me have it. I won't take any other."

  So the Devil gave him that sorry jade. Petrusha took it by
  the bridle and led it away. As soon as he reached the gates
  there appeared the fair maiden, and asked:

  "Have you got the horse?"

  "I have."

  "Well then, good youth, when you get nigh to your village,
  take off your cross, trace a circle three times about this horse,
  and hang the cross round its neck."

  Petrusha took leave of her and went his way. When he
  came nigh to his village he did everything exactly as the maiden
  had instructed him. He took off his copper cross, traced a
  circle three times about the horse, and hung the cross round its
  neck. And immediately the horse was no longer there, but in
  its place there stood before Petrusha his own father. The son
  looked upon the father, burst into tears, and led him to his cottage;
  and for three days the old man remained without speaking,
  unable to make use of his tongue. And after that they
  lived happily and in all prosperity. The old man entirely gave
  up drinking, and to his very last day never took so much as a
  single drop of spirits.[46]

The Russian peasant is by no means deficient in humor, a fact of
which the Skazkas offer abundant evidence. But it is not easy to find
stories which can be quoted at full length as illustrations of that
humor. The jokes which form the themes of the Russian facetious tales
are for the most part common to all Europe. And a similar assertion
may be made with regard to the stories of most lands. An unfamiliar
joke is but rarely to be discovered in the lower strata of fiction. He
who has read the folk-tales of one country only, is apt to attribute
to its inhabitants a comic originality to which they can lay no claim.
And so a Russian who knows the stories of his own land, but has not
studied those of other countries, is very liable to credit the Skazkas
with the undivided possession of a number of "merry jests" in which
they can claim but a very small share--jests which in reality form the
stock-in-trade of rustic wags among the vineyards of France or
Germany, or on the hills of Greece, or beside the fiords of Norway, or
along the coasts of Brittany or Argyleshire--which for centuries have
set beards wagging in Cairo and Ispahan, and in the cool of the
evening hour have cheered the heart of the villager weary with his
day's toil under the burning sun of India.

It is only when the joke hinges upon something which is peculiar to a
people that it is likely to be found among that people only. But most
of the Russian jests turn upon pivots which are familiar to all the
world, and have for their themes such common-place topics as the
incorrigible folly of man, the inflexible obstinacy of woman. And in
their treatments of these subjects they offer very few novel features.
It is strange how far a story of this kind may travel, and yet how
little alteration it may undergo. Take, for instance, the skits
against women which are so universally popular. Far away in outlying
districts of Russia we find the same time-honored quips which have so
long figured in collections of English facetiæ. There is the good old
story, for instance, of the dispute between a husband and wife as to
whether a certain rope has been cut with a knife or with scissors,
resulting in the murder of the scissors-upholding wife, who is pitched
into the river by her knife-advocating husband; but not before she
has, in her very death agony, testified to her belief in the scissors
hypothesis by a movement of her fingers above the surface of the
stream.[47] In a Russian form of the story, told in the government of
Astrakhan, the quarrel is about the husband's beard. He says he has
shaved it, his wife declares he has only cut it off. He flings her
into a deep pool, and calls to her to say "shaved." Utterance is
impossible to her, but "she lifts one hand above the water and by
means of two fingers makes signs to show that it was cut."[48] The
story has even settled into a proverb. Of a contradictory woman the
Russian peasants affirm that, "If you say 'shaved' she'll say 'cut.'"

In the same way another story shows us in Russian garb our old friend
the widower who, when looking for his drowned wife--a woman of a very
antagonistic disposition--went up the river instead of down, saying to
his astonished companions, "She always did everything contrary-wise,
so now, no doubt, she's gone against the stream."[49] A common story
again is that of the husband who, having confided a secret to his wife
which he justly fears she will reveal, throws discredit on her
evidence about things in general by making her believe various absurd
stories which she hastens to repeat.[49] The final paragraph of one of
the variants of this time-honored jest is quaint, concluding as it
does, by way of sting, with a highly popular Russian saw. The wife has
gone to the seigneur of the village and accused her husband of having
found a treasure and kept it for his own use. The charge is true, but
the wife is induced to talk such nonsense, and the husband complains
so bitterly of her, that "the seigneur pitied the moujik for being so
unfortunate, so he set him at liberty; and he had him divorced from
his wife and married to another, a young and good-looking one. Then
the moujik immediately dug up his treasure and began living in the
best manner possible." Sure enough the proverb doesn't say without
reason: "Women have long hair and short wits."[50]

There is another story of this class which is worthy of being
mentioned, as it illustrates a custom in which the Russians differ
from some other peoples.

A certain man had married a wife who was so capricious that there was
no living with her. After trying all sorts of devices her dejected
husband at last asked her how she had been brought up, and learnt that
she had received an education almost entirely German and French, with
scarcely any Russian in it; she had not even been wrapped in
swaddling-clothes when a baby, nor swung in a _liulka_.[51] Thereupon
her husband determined to remedy the short-comings of her early
education, and "whenever she showed herself capricious, or took to
squalling, he immediately had her swaddled and placed in a _liulka_,
and began swinging her to and fro." By the end of a half year she
became "quite silky"--all her caprices had been swung out of her.

But instead of giving mere extracts from any more of the numerous
stories to which the fruitful subject of woman's caprice has given
rise, we will quote a couple of such tales at length. The first is the
Russian variant of a story which has a long family tree, with
ramifications extending over a great part of the world. Dr. Benfey has
devoted to it no less than sixteen pages of his introduction to the
Panchatantra,[52] tracing it from its original Indian home, and its
subsequent abode in Persia, into almost every European land.


  A bad wife lived on the worst of terms with her husband, and
  never paid any attention to what he said. If her husband told
  her to get up early, she would lie in bed three days at a stretch;
  if he wanted her to go to sleep, she couldn't think of sleeping.
  When her husband asked her to make pancakes, she would say:
  "You thief, you don't deserve a pancake!"

  If he said:

  "Don't make any pancakes, wife, if I don't deserve them,"
  she would cook a two-gallon pot full, and say,

  "Eat away, you thief, till they're all gone!"

  "Now then, wife," perhaps he would say, "I feel quite sorry
  for you; don't go toiling and moiling, and don't go out to the
  hay cutting."

  "No, no, you thief!" she would reply, "I shall go, and do
  you follow after me!"

  One day, after having had his trouble and bother with her
  he went into the forest to look for berries and distract his grief,
  and he came to where there was a currant bush, and in the middle
  of that bush he saw a bottomless pit. He looked at it for
  some time and considered, "Why should I live in torment with
  a bad wife? can't I put her into that pit? can't I teach her a
  good lesson?"

  So when he came home, he said:

  "Wife, don't go into the woods for berries."

  "Yes, you bugbear, I shall go!"

  "I've found a currant bush; don't pick it."

  "Yes I will; I shall go and pick it clean; but I won't give
  you a single currant!"

  The husband went out, his wife with him. He came to the
  currant bush, and his wife jumped into it, crying out at the top
  her voice:

  "Don't you come into the bush, you thief, or I'll kill you!"

  And so she got into the middle of the bush, and went flop
  into the bottomless pit.

  The husband returned home joyfully, and remained there
  three days; on the fourth day he went to see how things were
  going on. Taking a long cord, he let it down into the pit, and
  out from thence he pulled a little demon. Frightened out of his
  wits, he was going to throw the imp back again into the pit,
  but it shrieked aloud, and earnestly entreated him, saying:

  "Don't send me back again, O peasant! let me go out into
  the world! A bad wife has come, and absolutely devoured us
  all, pinching us, and biting us--we're utterly worn out with it.
  I'll do you a good turn, if you will."

  So the peasant let him go free--at large in Holy Russia.
  Then the imp said:

  "Now then, peasant, come along with me to the town of
  Vologda. I'll take to tormenting people, and you shall cure

  Well, the imp went to where there were merchant's wives
  and merchant's daughters; and when they were possessed by
  him, they fell ill and went crazy. Then the peasant would go to
  a house where there was illness of this kind, and, as soon as he
  entered, out would go the enemy; then there would be blessing
  in the house, and everyone would suppose that the peasant was
  a doctor indeed, and would give him money, and treat him to
  pies. And so the peasant gained an incalculable sum of money.
  At last the demon said:

  "You've plenty now, peasant; arn't you content? I'm going
  now to enter into the Boyar's daughter. Mind you don't go
  curing her. If you do, I shall eat you."

  The Boyar's daughter fell ill, and went so crazy that she
  wanted to eat people. The Boyar ordered his people to find out
  the peasant--(that is to say) to look for such and such a physician.
  The peasant came, entered the house, and told Boyar to
  make all the townspeople, and the carriages with coachmen, stand
  in the street outside. Moreover, he gave orders that all the
  coachmen should crack their whips and cry at the top of their
  voices: "The Bad Wife has come! the Bad Wife has come!"
  and then he went into the inner room. As soon as he entered
  it, the demon rushed at him crying, "What do you mean, Russian?
  what have you come here for? I'll eat you!"

  "What do _you_ mean?" said the peasant, "why I didn't
  come here to turn you out. I came, out of pity to you, to say
  that the Bad Wife has come here."

  The Demon rushed to the window, stared with all his eyes,
  and heard everyone shouting at the top of his voice the words,
  "The Bad Wife!"

  "Peasant," cries the Demon, "wherever can I take refuge?"

  "Run back into the pit. She won't go there any more."

  The Demon went back to the pit--and to the Bad Wife too.

  In return for his services, the Boyar conferred a rich guerdon
  on the peasant, giving him his daughter to wife, and presenting
  him with half his property.

  But the Bad Wife sits to this day in the pit--in Tartarus.[54]

Our final illustration of the Skazkas which satirize women is the
story of the _Golovikha_. It is all the more valuable, inasmuch as it
is one of the few folk-tales which throw any light on the working of
Russian communal institutions. The word _Golovikha_ means, in its
strict sense, the wife of a _Golova_, or elected chief [_Golova_ =
head] of a _Volost_, or association of village communities; but here
it is used for a "female _Golova_," a species of "mayoress."


  A certain woman was very bumptious. Her husband came
  from a village council one day, and she asked him:

  "What have you been deciding over there?"

  "What have we been deciding? why choosing a Golova."

  "Whom have you chosen?"

  "No one as yet."

  "Choose me," says the woman.

  So as soon as her husband went back to the council (she was
  a bad sort; he wanted to give her a lesson) he told the elders
  what she had said. They immediately chose her as Golova.

  Well the woman got along, settled all questions, took bribes,
  and drank spirits at the peasant's expense. But the time came
  to collect the poll-tax. The Golova couldn't do it, wasn't able
  to collect it in time. There came a Cossack, and asked for the
  Golova; but the woman had hidden herself. As soon as she
  learnt that the Cossack had come, off she ran home.

  "Where, oh where can I hide myself?" she cries to her
  husband. "Husband dear! tie me up in a bag, and put me out
  there where the corn-sacks are."

  Now there were five sacks of seed-corn outside, so her husband
  tied up the Golova, and set her in the midst of them. Up
  came the Cossack and said:

  "Ho! so the Golova's in hiding."

  Then he took to slashing at the sacks one after another with
  his whip, and the woman to howling at the pitch of her voice:

  "Oh, my father! I won't be a Golova, I won't be a Golova."

  At last the Cossack left off beating the sacks, and rode away.
  But the woman had had enough of Golova-ing; from that time
  forward she took to obeying her husband.

Before passing on to another subject, it may be advisable to quote one
of the stories in which the value of a good and wise wife is fully
acknowledged. I have chosen for that purpose one of the variants of a
tale from which, in all probability, our own story of "Whittington and
his Cat" has been derived. With respect to its origin, there can be
very little doubt, such a feature as that of the incense-burning
pointing directly to a Buddhist source. It is called--


  There once was a poor little orphan-lad who had nothing at all
  to live on; so he went to a rich moujik and hired himself out to
  him, agreeing to work for one copeck a year. And when he had
  worked for a whole year, and had received his copeck, he went to
  a well and threw it into the water, saying, "If it don't sink, I'll
  keep it. It will be plain enough I've served my master faithfully."

  But the copeck sank. Well, he remained in service a second
  year, and received a second copeck. Again he flung it into the
  well, and again it sank to the bottom. He remained a third year;
  worked and worked, till the time came for payment. Then his
  master gave him a rouble. "No," says the orphan, "I don't
  want your money; give me my copeck." He got his copeck and
  flung it into the well. Lo and behold! there were all three copecks
  floating on the surface of the water. So he took them and
  went into the town.

  Now as he went along the street, it happened that some small
  boys had got hold of a kitten and were tormenting it. And he
  felt sorry for it, and said:

  "Let me have that kitten, my boys?"

  "Yes, we'll sell it you."

  "What do you want for it?"

  "Three copecks."

  Well the orphan bought the kitten, and afterwards hired
  himself to a merchant, to sit in his shop.

  That merchant's business began to prosper wonderfully. He
  couldn't supply goods fast enough; purchasers carried off everything
  in a twinkling. The merchant got ready to go to sea,
  freighted a ship, and said to the orphan:

  "Give me your cat; maybe it will catch mice on board, and
  amuse me."

  "Pray take it, master! only if you lose it, I shan't let you off

  The merchant arrived in a far off land, and put up at an inn.
  The landlord saw that he had a great deal of money, so he gave
  him a bedroom which was infested by countless swarms of rats
  and mice, saying to himself, "If they should happen to eat him
  up, his money will belong to me." For in that country they knew
  nothing about cats, and the rats and mice had completely got the
  upper hand. Well the merchant took the cat with him to his
  room and went to bed. Next morning the landlord came into
  the room. There was the merchant alive and well, holding the
  cat in his arms, and stroking its fur; the cat was purring away,
  singing its song, and on the floor lay a perfect heap of dead rats
  and mice!

  "Master merchant, sell me that beastie," says the landlord.


  "What do you want for it?"

  "A mere trifle. I'll make the beastie stand on his hind legs
  while I hold him up by his forelegs, and you shall pile gold
  pieces around him, so as just to hide him--I shall be content
  with that!"

  The landlord agreed to the bargain. The merchant gave him
  the cat, received a sackful of gold, and as soon as he had settled
  his affairs, started on his way back. As he sailed across the
  seas, he thought:

  "Why should I give the gold to that orphan? Such a lot of
  money in return for a mere cat! that would be too much of a
  good thing. No, much better keep it myself."

  The moment he had made up his mind to the sin, all of a sudden
  there arose a storm--such a tremendous one! the ship was
  on the point of sinking.

  "Ah, accursed one that I am! I've been longing for what
  doesn't belong to me; O Lord, forgive me a sinner! I won't
  keep back a single copeck."

  The moment the merchant began praying the winds were
  stilled, the sea became calm, and the ship went sailing on prosperously
  to the quay.

  "Hail, master!" says the orphan. "But where's my cat?"

  "I've sold it," answers the merchant; "There's your money,
  take it in full."

  The orphan received the sack of gold, took leave of the
  merchant, and went to the strand, where the shipmen were.
  From them he obtained a shipload of incense in exchange for
  his gold, and he strewed the incense along the strand, and burnt
  it in honor of God. The sweet savor spread through all that
  land, and suddenly an old man appeared, and he said to the

  "Which desirest thou--riches, or a good wife?"

  "I know not, old man."

  "Well then, go afield. Three brothers are ploughing over
  there. Ask them to tell thee."

  The orphan went afield. He looked, and saw peasants tilling
  the soil.

  "God lend you aid!" says he.

  "Thanks, good man!" say they. "What dost thou want?"

  "An old man has sent me here, and told me to ask you which
  of the two I shall wish for--riches or a good wife?"

  "Ask our elder brother; he's sitting in that cart there."

  The orphan went to the cart and saw a little boy--one that
  seemed about three years old.

  "Can this be their elder brother?" thought he--however he
  asked him:

  "Which dost thou tell me to choose--riches, or a good wife?"

  "Choose the good wife."

  So the orphan returned to the old man.

  "I'm told to ask for the wife," says he.

  "That's all right!" said the old man, and disappeared from
  sight. The orphan looked round; by his side stood a beautiful

  "Hail, good youth!" says she. "I am thy wife; let us go
  and seek a place where we may live."[57]

One of the sins to which the Popular Tale shows itself most hostile is
that of avarice. The folk-tales of all lands delight to gird at misers
and skinflints, to place them in unpleasant positions, and to gloat
over the sufferings which attend their death and embitter their
ghostly existence. As a specimen of the manner in which the humor of
the Russian peasant has manipulated the stories of this class, most of
which probably reached him from the East, we may take the following
tale of--

  THE MISER.[58]

  There once was a rich merchant named Marko--a stingier fellow
  never lived! One day he went out for a stroll. As he went
  along the road he saw a beggar--an old man, who sat there asking
  for alms--"Please to give, O ye Orthodox, for Christ's

  Marko the Rich passed by. Just at that time there came up
  behind him a poor moujik, who felt sorry for the beggar, and gave
  him a copeck. The rich man seemed to feel ashamed, for he
  stopped and said to the moujik:

  "Harkye, neighbor, lend me a copeck. I want to give that
  poor man something, but I've no small change."

  The moujik gave him one, and asked when he should come
  for his money. "Come to-morrow," was the reply. Well next
  day the poor man went to the rich man's to get his copeck. He
  entered his spacious courtyard and asked:

  "Is Marko the Rich at home?"

  "Yes. What do you want?" replied Marko.

  "I've come for my copeck."

  "Ah, brother! come again. Really I've no change just now."

  The poor man made his bow and went away.

  "I'll come to-morrow," said he.

  On the morrow he came again, but it was just the same story
  as before.

  "I haven't a single copper. If you like to change me a note
  for a hundred--No? well then come again in a fortnight."

  At the end of the fortnight the poor man came again, but
  Marko the Rich saw him from the window, and said to his wife:

  "Harkye, wife! I'll strip myself naked and lie down under
  the holy pictures. Cover me up with a cloth, and sit down and
  cry, just as you would over a corpse. When the moujik comes
  for his money, tell him I died this morning."

  Well the wife did everything exactly as her husband directed
  her. While she was sitting there drowned in bitter tears, the
  moujik came into the room.

  "What do you want?" says she.

  "The money Marko the Rich owes me," answers the poor

  "Ah, moujik, Marko the Rich has wished us farewell;[59] he's
  only just dead."

  "The kingdom of heaven be his! If you'll allow me, mistress,
  in return for my copeck I'll do him a last service--just
  give his mortal remains a wash."

  So saying he laid hold of a pot full of boiling water and began
  pouring its scalding contents over Marko the Rich. Marko, his
  brows knit, his legs contorted, was scarcely able to hold out.[60]

  "Writhe away or not as you please," thought the poor man,
  "but pay me my copeck!"

  When he had washed the body, and laid it out properly, he

  "Now then, mistress, buy a coffin and have it taken into the
  church; I'll go and read psalms over it."

  So Marko the Rich was put in a coffin and taken into the
  church, and the moujik began reading psalms over him. The
  darkness of night came on. All of a sudden a window opened,
  and a party of robbers crept through it into the church. The
  moujik hid himself behind the altar. As soon as the robbers had
  come in they began dividing their booty, and after everything
  else was shared there remained over and above a golden sabre--each
  one laid hold of it for himself, no one would give up his
  claim to it. Out jumped the poor man, crying:

  "What's the good of disputing that way? Let the sabre
  belong to him who will cut this corpse's head off!"

  Up jumped Marko the Rich like a madman. The robbers
  were frightened out of their wits, flung away their spoil and
  scampered off.

  "Here, Moujik," says Marko, "let's divide the money."

  They divided it equally between them: each of the shares
  was a large one.

  "But how about the copeck?" asks the poor man.

  "Ah, brother!" replies Marko, "surely you can see I've got
  no change!"

  And so Marko the Rich never paid the copeck after all.

We may take next the large class of stories about simpletons, so dear
to the public in all parts of the world. In the Skazkas a simpleton is
known as a _duràk_, a word which admits of a variety of explanations.
Sometimes it means an idiot, sometimes a fool in the sense of a
jester. In the stories of village life its signification is generally
that of a "ninny;" in the "fairy stories" it is frequently applied to
the youngest of the well-known "Three Brothers," the "Boots" of the
family as Dr. Dasent has called him. In the latter case, of course,
the hero's _durachestvo_, or foolishness, is purely subjective. It
exists only in the false conceptions of his character which his family
or his neighbors have formed.[61] But the _duràk_ of the following
tale is represented as being really "daft." The story begins with one
of the conventional openings of the Skazka--"In a certain _tsarstvo_,
in a certain _gosudarstvo_,"--but the two synonyms for "kingdom" or
"state" are used only because they rhyme.


  In a certain country there once lived an old man who had three
  sons. Two of them had their wits about them, but the third was
  a fool. The old man died and his sons divided his property
  among themselves by lot. The sharp-witted ones got plenty of
  all sorts of good things, but nothing fell to the share of the Simpleton
  but one ox--and that such a skinny one!

  Well, fair-time came round, and the clever brothers got ready
  to go and transact business. The Simpleton saw this, and said:

  "I'll go, too, brothers, and take my ox for sale."

  So he fastened a cord to the horn of the ox and drove it to
  the town. On his way he happened to pass through a forest, and
  in the forest there stood an old withered Birch-tree. Whenever
  the wind blew the Birch-tree creaked.

  "What is the Birch creaking about?" thinks the Simpleton.
  "Surely it must be bargaining for my ox? Well," says he, "if
  you want to buy it, why buy it. I'm not against selling it. The
  price of the ox is twenty roubles. I can't take less. Out with
  the money!"

  The Birch made no reply, only went on creaking. But the
  Simpleton fancied that it was asking for the ox on credit. "Very
  good," says he, "I'll wait till to-morrow!" He tied the ox to the
  Birch, took leave of the tree, and went home. Presently in came
  the clever brothers, and began questioning him:

  "Well, Simpleton! sold your ox?"

  "I've sold it."

  "For how much?"

  "For twenty roubles."

  "Where's the money?"

  "I haven't received the money yet. It was settled I should
  go for it to-morrow."

  "There's simplicity for you!" say they.

  Early next morning the Simpleton got up, dressed himself,
  and went to the Birch-tree for his money. He reached the wood;
  there stood the Birch, waving in the wind, but the ox was not to
  be seen. During the night the wolves had eaten it.

  "Now, then, neighbor!" he exclaimed, "pay me my money.
  You promised you'd pay me to-day."

  The wind blew, the Birch creaked, and the Simpleton cried:

  "What a liar you are! Yesterday you kept saying, 'I'll pay
  you to-morrow,' and now you make just the same promise.
  Well, so be it, I'll wait one day more, but not a bit longer. I want
  the money myself."

  When he returned home, his brothers again questioned him

  "Have you got your money?"

  "No, brothers; I've got to wait for my money again."

  "Whom have you sold it to?"

  "To the withered Birch-tree in the forest."

  "Oh, what an idiot!"

  On the third day the Simpleton took his hatchet and went to
  the forest. Arriving there, he demanded his money; but the
  Birch-tree only creaked and creaked. "No, no, neighbor!"
  says he. "If you're always going to treat me to promises,[63]
  there'll be no getting anything out of you. I don't like such
  joking; I'll pay you out well for it!"

  With that he pitched into it with his hatchet, so that its chips
  flew about in all directions. Now, in that Birch-tree there was
  a hollow, and in that hollow some robbers had hidden a pot full
  of gold. The tree split asunder, and the Simpleton caught sight
  of the gold. He took as much of it as the skirts of his caftan
  would hold, and toiled home with it. There he showed his
  brothers what he had brought.

  "Where did you get such a lot, Simpleton?" said they.

  "A neighbor gave it me for my ox. But this isn't anything
  like the whole of it; a good half of it I didn't bring home with
  me! Come along, brothers, let's get the rest!"

  Well, they went into the forest, secured the money, and carried
  it home.

  "Now mind, Simpleton," say the sensible brothers, "don't
  tell anyone that we've such a lot of gold."

  "Never fear, I won't tell a soul!"

  All of a sudden they run up against a Diachok,[64] and says

  "What's that, brothers, you're bringing from the forest?"

  The sharp ones replied, "Mushrooms." But the Simpleton
  contradicted them, saying:

  "They're telling lies! we're carrying money; here, just take
  a look at it."

  The Diachok uttered such an "Oh!"--then he flung himself
  on the gold, and began seizing handfuls of it and stuffing them
  into his pocket. The Simpleton grew angry, dealt him a blow
  with his hatchet, and struck him dead.

  "Heigh, Simpleton! what have you been and done!" cried
  his brothers. "You're a lost man, and you'll be the cause of our
  destruction, too! Wherever shall we put the dead body?"

  They thought and thought, and at last they dragged it to an
  empty cellar and flung it in there. But later on in the evening
  the eldest brother said to the second one:--

  "This piece of work is sure to turn out badly. When they
  begin looking for the Diachok, you'll see that Simpleton will tell
  them everything. Let's kill a goat and bury it in the cellar, and
  hide the body of the dead man in some other place."

  Well, they waited till the dead of night; then they killed a
  goat and flung it into the cellar, but they carried the Diachok to
  another place and there hid him in the ground. Several days
  passed, and then people began looking everywhere for the Diachok,
  asking everyone about him.

  "What do you want him for?" said the Simpleton, when he
  was asked. "I killed him some time ago with my hatchet, and
  my brothers carried him into the cellar."

  Straightway they laid hands on the Simpleton, crying, "Take
  us there and show him to us."

  The Simpleton went down into the cellar, got hold of the
  goat's head, and asked:--

  "Was your Diachok dark-haired?"

  "He was."

  "And had he a beard?"

  "Yes, he'd a beard."

  "And horns?"

  "What horns are you talking about, Simpleton?"

  "Well, see for yourselves," said he, tossing up the head to
  them. They looked, saw it was a goat's, spat in the Simpleton's
  face, and went their ways home.

One of the most popular simpleton-tales in the world is that of the
fond parents who harrow their feelings by conjuring up the misfortunes
which may possibly await their as yet unborn grandchildren. In
Scotland it is told, in a slightly different form, of two old maids
who were once found bathed in tears, and who were obliged to confess
that they had been day-dreaming and supposing--if they had been
married, and one had had a boy and the other a girl; and if the
children, when they grew up, had married, and had had a little child;
and if it had tumbled out of the window and been killed--what a
dreadful thing it would have been. At which terrible idea they both
gave way to not unnatural tears. In one of its Russian forms, it is
told of the old parents of a boy named Lutonya, who weep over the
hypothetical death of an imaginary grandchild, thinking how sad it
would have been if a log which the old woman has dropped had killed
that as yet merely potential infant. The parent's grief appears to
Lutonya so uncalled for that he leaves home, declaring that he will
not return until he has found people more foolish than they. He
travels long and far, and witnesses several foolish doings, most of
which are familiar to us. In one place, a cow is being hoisted on to a
roof in order that it may eat the grass growing thereon; in another a
horse is being inserted into its collar by sheer force; in a third, a
woman is fetching milk from the cellar, a spoonful at a time. But the
story comes to an end before its hero has discovered the surpassing
stupidity of which he is in quest. In another Russian story of a
similar nature Lutonya goes from home in search of some one more
foolish than his mother, who has been tricked by a cunning sharper.
First he finds carpenters attempting to stretch a beam which is not
long enough, and earns their gratitude by showing them how to add a
piece to it. Then he comes to a place where sickles are unknown, and
harvesters are in the habit of biting off the ears of corn, so he
makes a sickle for them, thrusts it into a sheaf and leaves it there.
They take it for a monstrous worm, tie a cord to it, and drag it away
to the bank of the river. There they fasten one of their number to a
log and set him afloat, giving him the end of the cord, in order that
he may drag the "worm" after him into the water. The log turns over,
and the moujik with it, so that his head is under water while his legs
appear above it. "Why, brother!" they call to him from the bank, "why
are you so particular about your leggings? If they do get wet, you can
dry them at the fire." But he makes no reply, only drowns. Finally
Lutonya meets the counterpart of the well-known Irishman who, when
counting the party to which he belongs, always forgets to count
himself, and so gets into numerical difficulties. After which he
returns home.[65]

It would be easy to multiply examples of this style of humor--to
find in the folk-tales current all over Russia the equivalents of
our own facetious narratives about the wise men of Gotham, the old
woman whose petticoats were cut short by the pedlar whose name was
Stout, and a number of other inhabitants of Fool-land, to whom the
heart of childhood is still closely attached, and also of the
exaggeration-stories, the German _Lügenmährchen_, on which was founded
the narrative of Baron Munchausen's surprising adventures. But instead
of doing this, before passing on to the more important groups of the
Skazkas, I will quote, as this chapter's final illustrations of the
Russian story-teller's art, an "animal story" and a "legend." Here is
the former:--


  In the olden years, long long ago, with the spring-tide fair and
  the summer's heat there came on the world distress and shame.
  For gnats and flies began to swarm, biting folks and letting
  their warm blood flow.

  Then the Spider[67] appeared, the hero bold, who, with waving
  arms, weaved webs around the highways and byways in
  which the gnats and flies were most to be found.

  A ghastly Gadfly, coming that way, stumbled straight into
  the Spider's snare. The Spider, tightly squeezing her throat,
  prepared to put her out of the world. From the Spider the
  Gadfly mercy sought.

  "Good father Spider! please not to kill me. I've ever so
  many little ones. Without me they'll be orphans left, and from
  door to door have to beg their bread and squabble with dogs."

  Well, the Spider released her. Away she flew, and everywhere
  humming and buzzing about, told the flies and gnats of
  what had occurred.

  "Ho, ye gnats and flies! Meet here beneath this ash-tree's
  roots. A spider has come, and, with waving of arms and weaving
  of nets, has set his snares in all the ways to which the flies
  and gnats resort. He'll catch them, every single one!"

  They flew to the spot; beneath the ash-tree's roots they hid,
  and lay there as though they were dead. The Spider came,
  and there he found a cricket, a beetle, and a bug.

  "O Cricket!" he cried, "upon this mound sit and take
  snuff! Beetle, do thou beat a drum. And do thou crawl, O
  Bug, the bun-like, beneath the ash, and spread abroad this news
  of me, the Spider, the wrestler, the hero bold--that the Spider,
  the wrestler, the hero bold, no longer in the world exists; that
  they have sent him to Kazan; that in Kazan, upon a block,
  they've chopped his head off, and the block destroyed."

  On the mound sat the Cricket and took snuff. The Beetle
  smote upon the drum. The Bug crawled in among the ash-tree's
  roots, and cried:--

  "Why have ye fallen? Wherefore as in death do ye lie
  here? Truly no longer lives the Spider, the wrestler, the hero
  bold. They've sent him to Kazan and in Kazan they've chopped
  his head off on a block, and afterwards destroyed the block."

  The gnats and flies grew blithe and merry. Thrice they
  crossed themselves, then out they flew--and straight into the
  Spider's snares. Said he:--

  "But seldom do ye come! I would that ye would far more
  often come to visit me! to quaff my wine and beer, and pay me

This story is specially interesting in the original, inasmuch as it
is rhymed throughout, although printed as prose. A kind of lilt is
perceptible in many of the Skazkas, and traces of rhyme are often to
be detected in them, but "The Mizgir's" mould is different from
theirs. Many stories also exist in an artificially versified form, but
their movement differs entirely from that of the naturally cadenced
periods of the ordinary Skazka, or of such rhymed prose as that of
"The Mizgir."

The following legend is not altogether new in "motive," but a certain
freshness is lent to it by its simple style, its unstrained humor, and
its genial tone.


  Once upon a time there was a Smith, and he had one son, a
  sharp, smart, six-year-old boy. One day the old man went to
  church, and as he stood before a picture of the Last Judgment
  he saw a Demon painted there--such a terrible one!--black, with
  horns and a tail.

  "O my!" says he to himself. "Suppose I get just such
  another painted for the smithy." So he hired an artist, and
  ordered him to paint on the door of the smithy exactly such
  another demon as he had seen in the church. The artist painted
  it. Thenceforward the old man, every time he entered the
  smithy, always looked at the Demon and said, "Good morning,
  fellow-countryman!" And then he would lay the fire in the
  furnace and begin his work.

  Well, the Smith lived in good accord with the Demon for
  some ten years. Then he fell ill and died. His son succeeded
  to his place as head of the household, and took the smithy into
  his own hands. But he was not disposed to show attention to
  the Demon as the old man had done. When he went into the
  smithy in the morning, he never said "Good morrow" to him;
  instead of offering him a kindly word, he took the biggest hammer
  he had handy, and thumped the Demon with it three times
  right on the forehead, and then he would go to his work. And
  when one of God's holy days came round, he would go to church
  and offer each saint a taper; but he would go up to the Demon
  and spit in his face. Thus three years went by, he all the
  while favoring the Evil One every morning either with a spitting
  or with a hammering. The Demon endured it and endured it,
  and at last found it past all endurance. It was too much for

  "I've had quite enough of this insolence from him!" thinks
  he. "Suppose I make use of a little diplomacy, and play him
  some sort of a trick!"

  So the Demon took the form of a youth, and went to the

  "Good day, uncle!" says he.

  "Good day!"

  "What should you say, uncle, to taking me as an apprentice?
  At all events, I could carry fuel for you, and blow the

  The Smith liked the idea. "Why shouldn't I?" he replied.
  "Two are better than one."

  The Demon began to learn his trade; at the end of a month
  he knew more about smith's work than his master did himself,
  was able to do everything that his master couldn't do. It was
  a real pleasure to look at him! There's no describing how
  satisfied his master was with him, how fond he got of him.
  Sometimes the master didn't go into the smithy at all himself,
  but trusted entirely to his journeyman, who had complete charge
  of everything.

  Well, it happened one day that the master was not at home,
  and the journeyman was left all by himself in the smithy.
  Presently he saw an old lady[70] driving along the street in her
  carriage, whereupon he popped his head out of doors and began

  "Heigh, sirs! Be so good as to step in here! We've
  opened a new business here; we turn old folks into young

  Out of her carriage jumped the lady in a trice, and ran into
  the smithy.

  "What's that you're bragging about? Do you mean to say
  it's true? Can you really do it?" she asked the youth.

  "We haven't got to learn our business!" answered the
  Demon. "If I hadn't been able to do it, I wouldn't have invited
  people to try."

  "And how much does it cost?" asked the lady.

  "Five hundred roubles altogether."

  "Well, then, there's your money; make a young woman of

  The Demon took the money; then he sent the lady's coachman
  into the village.

  "Go," says he, "and bring me here two buckets full of

  After that he took a pair of tongs, caught hold of the lady
  by the feet, flung her into the furnace, and burnt her up; nothing
  was left of her but her bare bones.

  When the buckets of milk were brought, he emptied them
  into a large tub, then he collected all the bones and flung them
  into the milk. Just fancy! at the end of about three minutes
  the lady emerged from the milk--alive, and young, and beautiful!

  Well, she got into her carriage and drove home. There she
  went straight to her husband, and he stared hard at her, but
  didn't know she was his wife.

  "What are you staring at?" says the lady. "I'm young and
  elegant, you see, and I don't want to have an old husband! Be
  off at once to the smithy, and get them to make you young; if
  you don't, I won't so much as acknowledge you!"

  There was no help for it; off set the seigneur. But by that
  time the Smith had returned home, and had gone into the
  smithy. He looked about; the journeyman wasn't to be seen.
  He searched and searched, he enquired and enquired, never a
  thing came of it; not even a trace of the youth could be found.
  He took to his work by himself, and was hammering away,
  when at that moment up drove the seigneur, and walked straight
  into the smithy.

  "Make a young man of me," says he.

  "Are you in your right mind, Barin? How can one make a
  young man of you?"

  "Come, now! you know all about that."

  "I know nothing of the kind."

  "You lie, you scoundrel! Since you made my old woman
  young, make me young too; otherwise, there will be no living
  with her for me."

  "Why I haven't so much as seen your good lady."

  "Your journeyman saw her, and that's just the same thing.
  If he knew how to do the job, surely you, an old hand, must
  have learnt how to do it long ago. Come, now, set to work at
  once. If you don't, it will be the worse for you. I'll have you
  rubbed down with a birch-tree towel."

  The Smith was compelled to try his hand at transforming
  the seigneur. He held a private conversation with the coachman
  as to how his journeyman had set to work with the lady,
  and what he had done to her, and then he thought:--

  "So be it! I'll do the same. If I fall on my feet, good; if
  I don't, well, I must suffer all the same!"

  So he set to work at once, stripped the seigneur naked, laid
  hold of him by the legs with the tongs, popped him into the
  furnace, and began blowing the bellows. After he had burnt
  him to a cinder, he collected his remains, flung them into the
  milk, and then waited to see how soon a youthful seigneur
  would jump out of it. He waited one hour, two hours. But
  nothing came of it. He made a search in the tub. There was
  nothing in it but bones, and those charred ones.

  Just then the lady sent messengers to the smithy, to ask
  whether the seigneur would soon be ready. The poor Smith
  had to reply that the seigneur was no more.

  When the lady heard that the Smith had only turned her
  husband into a cinder, instead of making him young, she was
  tremendously angry, and she called together her trusty servants,
  and ordered them to drag him to the gallows. No sooner said
  than done. Her servants ran to the Smith's house, laid hold of
  him, tied his hands together, and dragged him off to the gallows.
  All of a sudden there came up with them the youngster
  who used to live with the Smith as his journeyman, who asked

  "Where are they taking you, master?"

  "They're going to hang me," replied the Smith, and straightway
  related all that had happened to him.

  "Well, uncle!" said the Demon, "swear that you will never
  strike me with your hammer, but that you will pay me the same
  respect your father always paid, and the seigneur shall be alive,
  and young, too, in a trice."

  The Smith began promising and swearing that he would
  never again lift his hammer against the Demon, but would
  always pay him every attention. Thereupon the journeyman
  hastened to the smithy, and shortly afterwards came back again,
  bringing the seigneur with him, and crying to the servants:

  "Hold! hold! Don't hang him! Here's your master!"

  Then they immediately untied the cords, and let the Smith
  go free.

  From that time forward the Smith gave up spitting at the
  Demon and striking him with his hammer. The journeyman
  disappeared, and was never seen again. But the seigneur and
  his lady entered upon a prosperous course of life, and if they
  haven't died, they're living still.[71]


[11] Dasent's "Popular Tales from the Norse," p. xl.

[12] Max Müller, "Chips," vol. ii. p. 226.

[13] Take as an illustration of these remarks the close of the story
of "Helena the Fair" (No. 34, Chap. IV.). See how light and bright it
is (or at least was, before it was translated).

[14] I speak only of what I have seen. In some districts of Russia, if
one may judge from pictures, the peasants occupy ornamented and
ornamental dwellings.

[15] Khudyakof, vol. ii. p. 65.

[16] Khudyakof, vol. ii. p. 115.

[17] For a description of such social gatherings see the "Songs of the
Russian People," pp. 32-38.

[18] Afanasief, vi. No. 66.

[19] Cakes of unleavened flour flavored with garlic.

[20] The _Nechistol_, or unclean. (_Chisty_ = clean, pure, &c.)

[21] Literally, "on thee no face is to be seen."

[22] I do not propose to comment at any length upon the stories quoted
in the present chapter. Some of them will be referred to farther on.
Marusia's demon lover will be recognized as akin to Arabian Ghouls, or
the Rákshasas of Indian mythology. (See the story of Sidi Norman in
the "Thousand and One Nights," also Lane's translation, vol. i., p.
32; and the story of Asokadatta and Vijayadatta in the fifth book of
the "Kathásaritságara," Brockhaus's translation, 1843, vol. ii. pp.
142-159.) For transformations of a maiden into a flower or tree, see
Grimm, No. 76, "Die Nelke," and the notes to that story in vol. iii.,
p. 125--Hahn, No. 21, "Das Lorbeerkind," etc. "The Water of Life,"
will meet with due consideration in the fourth chapter. The Holy Water
which destroys the Fiend is merely a Christian form of the "Water of
Death," viewed in its negative aspect.

[23] Chudinsky, No. 3.

[24] Afanasief, vi. p. 325. Wolfs "Niederlandische Sagen," No. 326,
quoted in Thorpe's "Northern Mythology," i. 292. Note 4.

[25] A number of ghost stories, and some remarks about the ideas of
the Russian peasants with respect to the dead, will be found in Chap.
V. Scott mentions a story in "The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,"
vol. ii. p. 223, of a widower who believed he was haunted by his dead
wife. On one occasion the ghost, to prove her identity, gave suck to
her surviving infant.

[26] Afanasief, viii. p. 165.

[27] In West-European stories the devil frequently carries off a
witch's soul after death. Here the fiend enters the corpse, or rather
its skin, probably intending to reappear as a vampire. Compare Bleek's
"Reynard the Fox in South Africa," No. 24, in which a lion squeezes
itself into the skin of a girl it has killed. I have generally
rendered by "demon," instead of "devil," the word _chort_ when it
occurs in stories of this class, as the spirits to which they refer
are manifestly akin to those of oriental demonology.

[28] For an account of which, see the "Songs of the Russian People,"
pp. 333-334. The best Russian work on the subject is Barsof's
"Prichitaniya Syevernago Kraya," Moscow, 1872.

[29] Afanasief, iv. No. 9.

[30] Professor de Gubernatis justly remarks that this "howling" is
more in keeping with the nature of the eastern jackal than with that
of its western counterpart, the fox. "Zoological Mythology," ii. 130.

[31] Afanasief, vii. No. 45.

[32] _Pope_ is the ordinary but disrespectful term for a priest
(_Svyashchennik_), as _popovich_ is for a priest's son.

[33] "Father dear," or "reverend father."

[34] A phrase often used by the peasants, when frightened by anything
of supernatural appearance.

[35] Afanasief, Skazki, vii. No. 49.

[36] The Russian expression is _gol kak sokòl_, "bare as a hawk."

[37] In another story St. Nicolas's picture is the surety.

[38] Another variant of this story, under the title of "Norka," will
be quoted in full in the next chapter.

[39] Afanasief, vii. p. 107.

[40] Afanasief, vii. p. 146.

[41] Or "The Seven-year-old." Khudyakof, No. 6. See Grimm, No. 94,
"Die kluge Bauerntochter," and iii. 170-2.

[42] _Voevoda_, now a general, formerly meant a civil governor, etc.

[43] Afanasief. "Legendui," No. 29.

[44] Diminutive of Peter.

[45] The word employed here is not _chort_, but _diavol_.

[46] Some remarks on the stories of this class, will be found in Chap.
VI. The Russian peasants still believe that all people who drink
themselves to death are used as carriers of wood and water in the
infernal regions.

[47] In the sixty-fourth story of Asbjörnsen's "Norske Folke-Eventyr,"
(Ny Samling, 1871) the dispute between the husband and wife is about a
cornfield--as to whether it should be reaped or shorn--and she tumbles
into a pool while she is making clipping gestures "under her husband's
nose." In the old fabliau of "Le Pré Tondu" (Le Grand d'Aussy,
Fabliaux, 1829, iii. 185), the husband cuts out the tongue of his
wife, to prevent her from repeating that his meadow has been clipped,
whereupon she makes a clipping sign with her fingers. In Poggio's
"Facetiæ," the wife is doubly aggravating. For copious information
with respect to the use made of this story by the romance-writers, see
Liebrecht's translations of Basile's "Pentamerone," ii. 264, and of
Dunlop's "History of Literature," p. 516.

[48] Afanasief, v. p. 16.

[49] Ibid., iii. p. 87.

[50] Chudinsky, No. 8. The proverb is dear to the Tartars also.

[51] Ibid. No. 23. The _liulka_, or Russian cradle, is suspended and
swung, instead of being placed on the floor and rocked. Russian babies
are usually swaddled tightly, like American papooses.

[52] "Panchatantra," 1859, vol. i. § 212, pp. 519-524. I gladly avail
myself of this opportunity of gratefully acknowledging my obligations
to Dr. Benfey's invaluable work.

[53] Afanasief, i. No. 9. Written down in the Novgorod Government. Its
dialect renders it somewhat difficult to read.

[54] This story is known to the Finns, but with them the Russian
Demon, (_chortenok_ = a little _chort_ or devil), has become the
Plague. In the original Indian story the demon is one which had
formerly lived in a Brahman's house, but had been frightened away by
his cantankerous wife. In the Servian version (Karajich, No. 37), the
opening consists of the "Scissors-story," to which allusion has
already been made. The vixen falls into a hole which she does not see,
so bent is she on controverting her husband.

[55] Afanasief, ii. No. 12. Written down by a "Crown Serf," in the
government of Perm.

[56] Afanasief, viii. No. 20. A copeck is worth about a third of a

[57] The story is continued very little further by Afanasief, its
conclusion being the same as that of "The Wise Wife," in Book vii. No.
22, a tale of magic. For a Servian version of the tale see Vuk
Karajich, No. 7.

[58] Afanasief, v. No. 3. From the Novgorod Government.

[59] Literally, "has bid to live long," a conventional euphemism for
"has died." "Remember what his name was," is sometimes added.

[60] It will be observed that the miser holds out against the pain
which the scalded demon was unable to bear. See above, p. 21.

[61] Professor de Gubernatis remarks that he may sometimes be called
"the first Brutus of popular tradition." "Zoological Mythology," vol.
i. p. 199.

[62] Afanasief, v. No. 53.

[63] _Zavtrakami podchivat_ = to dupe; _zavtra_ = to-morrow; _zavtrak_
= breakfast.

[64] One of the inferior members of the Russian clerical body, though
not of the clergy. But in one of the variants of the story it is a
"pope" or priest, who appears, and he immediately claims a share in
the spoil. Whereupon the Simpleton makes use of his hatchet. Priests
are often nicknamed goats by the Russian peasantry, perhaps on account
of their long beards.

[65] Afanasief, ii. No. 8, v. No. 5. See also Khudyakof, No. 76. Cf.
Grimm, No. 34, "Die kluge Else." Haltrich, No. 66. Asbjörnsen and Moe,
No. 10. (Dasent No. 24, "Not a Pin to choose between them.")

[66] Afanasief, ii. No. 5. Written down by a crown-peasant in the
government of Perm.

[67] _Mizgir_, a venomous spider, like the Tarantula, found in the
Kirghiz Steppes.

[68] In another story bearing the same title (v. 39) the spider lies
on its back awaiting its prey. Up comes "the honorable widow," the
wasp, and falls straight into the trap. The spider beheads her. Then
the gnats and flies assemble, perform a funeral service over her
remains, and carry them off on their shoulders to the village of
Komarovo (_komar_ = gnat). For specimens of the Russian "Beast-Epos"
the reader is referred (as I have stated in the preface) to Professor
de Gubernatis's "Zoological Mythology."

[69] Afanasief, "Legendui," No. 31. Taken from Dahl's collection. Some
remarks on the Russian "legends" are given in Chap. VI.

[70] _Baruinya_, the wife of a _barin_ or seigneur.

[71] The _chort_ of this legend is evidently akin to the devil
himself, whom traditions frequently connect with blacksmiths; but his
prototype, in the original form of this story, was doubtless a demigod
or demon. His part is played by St. Nicholas in the legend of "The
Priest with the Greedy Eyes," for which, and for further comment on
the story, see Chap. VI.



_Principal Incarnations of Evil._

The present chapter is devoted to specimens of those skazkas which
most Russian critics assert to be distinctly mythical. The stories of
this class are so numerous, that the task of selection has been by no
means easy. But I have done my best to choose such examples as are
most characteristic of that species of the "mythical" folk-tale which
prevails in Russia, and to avoid, as far as possible, the repetition
of narratives which have already been made familiar to the English
reader by translations of German and Scandinavian stories.

There is a more marked individuality in the Russian tales of this
kind, as compared with those of Western Europe, than is to be traced
in the stories (especially those of a humorous cast) which relate to
the events that chequer an ordinary existence. The actors in the
_comediettas_ of European peasant-life vary but little, either in
title or in character, wherever the scene may be laid; just as in the
European beast-epos the Fox, the Wolf, and the Bear play parts which
change but slightly with the regions they inhabit. But the
supernatural beings which people the fairy-land peculiar to each race,
though closely resembling each other in many respects, differ
conspicuously in others. They may, it is true, be nothing more than
various developments of the same original type; they may be traceable
to germs common to the prehistoric ancestors of the now widely
separated Aryan peoples; their peculiarities may simply be due to the
accidents to which travellers from distant lands are liable. But at
all events each family now has features of its own, typical
characteristics by which it may be readily distinguished from its
neighbors. My chief aim at present is to give an idea of those
characteristics which lend individuality to the "mythical beings" in
the Skazkas; in order to effect this, I shall attempt a delineation of
those supernatural figures, to some extent peculiar to Slavonic
fairy-land, which make their appearance in the Russian folk-tales. I
have given a brief sketch of them elsewhere.[72] I now propose to deal
with them more fully, quoting at length, instead of merely mentioning,
some of the evidence on which the proof of their existence depends.

For the sake of convenience, we may select from the great mass of the
mythical skazkas those which are supposed most manifestly to typify
the conflict of opposing elements--whether of Good and Evil, or of
Light and Darkness, or of Heat and Cold, or of any other pair of
antagonistic forces or phenomena. The typical hero of this class of
stories, who represents the cause of right, and who is resolved by
mythologists into so many different essences, presents almost
identically the same appearance in most of the countries wherein he
has become naturalized. He is endowed with supernatural powers, but he
remains a man, for all that. Whether as prince or peasant, he alters
but very little in his wanderings among the Aryan races of Europe.

And a somewhat similar statement may be made about his feminine
counterpart--for all the types of Fairy-land life are of an
epicene nature, admitting of a feminine as well as a masculine
development--the heroine who in the Skazkas, as well as in other
folk-tales, braves the wrath of female demons in quest of means
whereby to lighten the darkness of her home, or rescues her bewitched
brothers from the thraldom of an enchantress, or liberates her captive
husband from a dungeon's gloom.

But their antagonists--the dark or evil beings whom the hero attacks
and eventually destroys, or whom the heroine overcomes by her virtues,
her subtlety, or her skill--vary to a considerable extent with the
region they occupy, or rather with the people in whose memories they
dwell. The Giants by killing whom our own Jack gained his renown, the
Norse Trolls, the Ogres of southern romance, the Drakos and Lamia of
modern Greece, the Lithuanian Laume--these and all the other groups of
monstrous forms under which the imagination of each race has embodied
its ideas about (according to one hypothesis) the Powers of Darkness
it feared, or (according to another) the Aborigines it detested,
differ from each other to a considerable and easily recognizable
extent. An excellent illustration of this statement is offered by the
contrast between the Slavonic group of supernatural beings of this
class and their equivalents in lands tenanted by non-Slavonic members
of the Indo-European family. A family likeness will, of course, be
traced between all these conceptions of popular fancy, but the gloomy
figures with which the folk-tales of the Slavonians render us familiar
may be distinguished at a glance among their kindred monsters of
Latin, Hellenic, Teutonic, or Celtic extraction. Of those among the
number to which the Russian skazkas relate I will now proceed to give
a sketch, allowing the stories, so far as is possible, to speak for

If the powers of darkness in the "mythical" skazkas are divided into
two groups--the one male, the other female--there stand out as the
most prominent figures in the former set, the Snake (or some other
illustration of "Zoological Mythology"), Koshchei the Deathless, and
the Morskoi Tsar or King of the Waters. In the latter group the
principal characters are the Baba Yaga, or Hag, her close connection
the Witch, and the Female Snake. On the forms and natures of the less
conspicuous characters to be found in either class we will not at
present dwell. An opportunity for commenting on some of them will be
afforded in another chapter.

To begin with the Snake. His outline, like that of the cloud with
which he is so frequently associated, and which he is often supposed
to typify, is seldom well-defined. Now in one form and now in another,
he glides a shifting shape, of which it is difficult to obtain a
satisfactory view. Sometimes he retains throughout the story an
exclusively reptilian character; sometimes he is of a mixed nature,
partly serpent and partly man. In one story we see him riding on
horseback, with hawk on wrist (or raven on shoulder) and hound at
heel; in another he figures as a composite being with a human body and
a serpent's head; in a third he flies as a fiery snake into his
mistress's bower, stamps with his foot on the ground, and becomes a
youthful gallant. But in most cases he is a serpent which in outward
appearance seems to differ from other ophidians only in being winged
and polycephalous--the number of his heads generally varying from
three to twelve.[73]

He is often known by the name of Zméï [snake] Goruinuich [son of the
_gora_ or mountain], and sometimes he is supposed to dwell in the
mountain caverns. To his abode, whether in the bowels of the earth, or
in the open light of day--whether it be a sumptuous palace or "an
_izba_ on fowl's legs," a hut upheld by slender supports on which it
turns as on a pivot--he carries off his prey. In one story he appears
to have stolen, or in some way concealed, the day-light; in another
the bright moon and the many stars come forth from within him after
his death. But as a general rule it is some queen or princess whom he
tears away from her home, as Pluto carried off Proserpina, and who
remains with him reluctantly, and hails as her rescuer the hero who
comes to give him battle. Sometimes, however, the snake is represented
as having a wife of his own species, and daughters who share their
parent's tastes and powers. Such is the case in the (South-Russian)
story of


  Once upon a time there was an old couple, and they had three
  sons. Two of these had their wits about them, but the third
  was a simpleton, Ivan by name, surnamed Popyalof.

  For twelve whole years Ivan lay among the ashes from the
  stove; but then he arose, and shook himself, so that six poods
  of ashes[75] fell off from him.

  Now in the land in which Ivan lived there was never any
  day, but always night. That was a Snake's doing. Well, Ivan
  undertook to kill that Snake, so he said to his father, "Father,
  make me a mace five poods in weight." And when he had got
  the mace, he went out into the fields, and flung it straight up in
  the air, and then he went home. The next day he went out into
  the fields to the spot from which he had flung the mace on high,
  and stood there with his head thrown back. So when the mace
  fell down again it hit him on the forehead. And the mace
  broke in two.

  Ivan went home and said to his father, "Father, make me
  another mace, a ten pood one." And when he had got it he
  went out into the fields, and flung it aloft. And the mace went
  flying through the air for three days and three nights. On the
  fourth day Ivan went out to the same spot, and when the mace
  came tumbling down, he put his knee in the way, and the mace
  broke over it into three pieces.

  Ivan went home and told his father to make him a third
  mace, one of fifteen poods weight. And when he had got it, he
  went out into the fields and flung it aloft. And the mace was
  up in the air six days. On the seventh Ivan went to the same
  spot as before. Down fell the mace, and when it struck Ivan's
  forehead, the forehead bowed under it. Thereupon he said,
  "This mace will do for the Snake!"

  So when he had got everything ready, he went forth with
  his brothers to fight the Snake. He rode and rode, and presently
  there stood before him a hut on fowl's legs,[76] and in that
  hut lived the Snake. There all the party came to a standstill.
  Then Ivan hung up his gloves, and said to his brothers, "Should
  blood drop from my gloves, make haste to help me." When he
  had said this he went into the hut and sat down under the

  Presently there rode up a Snake with three heads. His
  steed stumbled, his hound howled, his falcon clamored.[78] Then
  cried the Snake:

  "Wherefore hast thou stumbled, O Steed! hast thou howled,
  O Hound! hast thou clamored, O Falcon?"

  "How can I but stumble," replied the Steed, "when under
  the boarding sits Ivan Popyalof?"

  Then said the Snake, "Come forth, Ivanushka! Let us
  try our strength together." Ivan came forth, and they began to
  fight. And Ivan killed the Snake, and then sat down again
  beneath the boarding.

  Presently there came another Snake, a six-headed one, and
  him, too, Ivan killed. And then there came a third, which had
  twelve heads. Well, Ivan began to fight with him, and lopped
  off nine of his heads. The Snake had no strength left in him.
  Just then a raven came flying by, and it croaked:

  "Krof? Krof!"[79]

  Then the Snake cried to the Raven, "Fly, and tell my wife
  to come and devour Ivan Popyalof."

  But Ivan cried: "Fly, and tell my brothers to come, and
  then we will kill this Snake, and give his flesh to thee."

  And the Raven gave ear to what Ivan said, and flew to his
  brothers and began to croak above their heads. The brothers
  awoke, and when they heard the cry of the Raven, they hastened
  to their brother's aid. And they killed the Snake, and then,
  having taken his heads, they went into his hut and destroyed
  them. And immediately there was bright light throughout the
  whole land.

  After killing the Snake, Ivan Popyalof and his brothers set
  off on their way home. But he had forgotten to take away his
  gloves, so he went back to fetch them, telling his brothers to
  wait for him meanwhile. Now when he had reached the hut
  and was going to take away his gloves, he heard the voices of
  the Snake's wife and daughters, who were talking with each
  other. So he turned himself into a cat, and began to mew
  outside the door. They let him in, and he listened to everything
  they said. Then he got his gloves and hastened away.

  As soon as he came to where his brothers were, he mounted
  his horse, and they all started afresh. They rode and rode;
  presently they saw before them a green meadow, and on that
  meadow lay silken cushions. Then the elder brothers said,
  "Let's turn out our horses to graze here, while we rest ourselves
  a little."

  But Ivan said, "Wait a minute, brothers!" and he seized
  his mace, and struck the cushions with it. And out of those
  cushions there streamed blood.

  So they all went on further. They rode and rode; presently
  there stood before them an apple-tree, and upon it were gold
  and silver apples. Then the elder brothers said, "Let's eat an
  apple apiece." But Ivan said, "Wait a minute, brothers; I'll
  try them first," and he took his mace, and struck the apple-tree
  with it. And out of the tree streamed blood.

  So they went on further. They rode and rode, and by and
  by they saw a spring in front of them. And the elder brothers
  cried, "Let's have a drink of water." But Ivan Popyalof
  cried: "Stop, brothers!" and he raised his mace and struck
  the spring, and its waters became blood.

  For the meadow, the silken cushions, the apple-tree, and the
  spring, were all of them daughters of the Snake.

  After killing the Snake's daughters, Ivan and his brothers
  went on homewards. Presently came the Snake's Wife flying
  after them, and she opened her jaws from the sky to the earth,
  and tried to swallow up Ivan. But Ivan and his brothers threw
  three poods of salt into her mouth. She swallowed the salt,
  thinking it was Ivan Popyalof, but afterwards--when she had
  tasted the salt, and found out it was not Ivan--she flew after
  him again.

  Then he perceived that danger was at hand, and so he let
  his horse go free, and hid himself behind twelve doors in the
  forge of Kuzma and Demian. The Snake's Wife came flying
  up, and said to Kuzma and Demian, "Give me up Ivan Popyalof."
  But they replied:

  "Send your tongue through the twelve doors and take him."
  So the Snake's Wife began licking the doors. But meanwhile
  they all heated iron pincers, and as soon as she had sent her
  tongue through into the smithy, they caught tight hold of her
  by the tongue, and began thumping her with hammers. And
  when the Snake's Wife was dead they consumed her with fire,
  and scattered her ashes to the winds. And then they went
  home, and there they lived and enjoyed themselves, feasting
  and revelling, and drinking mead and wine.

  I was there, too, and had liquor to drink; it didn't go into
  my mouth, but only ran down my beard.[80]

The skazka of Ivan Buikovich (Bull's son)[81] contains a variant of
part of this story, but the dragon which the Slavonic St. George kills
is called, not a snake, but a Chudo-Yudo.[82] Ivan watches one night
while his brothers sleep. Presently up rides "a six-headed Chudo-Yudo"
which he easily kills. The next night he slays, but with more
difficulty, a nine-headed specimen of the same family. On the third
night appears "a twelve-headed Chudo-Yudo," mounted on a horse "with
twelve wings, its coat of silver, its mane and tail of gold." Ivan
lops off three of the monster's heads, but they, like those of the
Lernæan Hydra, become re-attached to their necks at the touch of their
owner's "fiery finger." Ivan, whom his foe has driven into the ground
up to his knees, hurls one of his gloves at the hut in which his
brothers are sleeping. It smashes the windows, but the sleepers
slumber on and take no heed. Presently Ivan smites off six of his
antagonist's heads, but they grow again as before.[83] Half buried in
the ground by the monster's strength, Ivan hurls his other glove at
the hut, piercing its roof this time. But still his brothers slumber
on. At last, after fruitlessly shearing off nine of the Chudo-Yudo's
heads, and finding himself embedded in the ground up to his armpits,
Ivan flings his cap at the hut. The hut reels under the blow and its
beams fall asunder; his brothers awake, and hasten to his aid, and the
Chudo-Yudo is destroyed. The "Chudo-Yudo wives" as the widows of the
three monsters are called, then proceed to play the parts attributed
in "Ivan Popyalof" to the Snake's daughters.

"I will become an apple-tree with golden and silver apples," says the
first; "whoever plucks an apple will immediately burst." Says the
second, "I will become a spring--on the water will float two cups, the
one golden, the other of silver; whoever touches one of the cups, him
will I drown." And the third says, "I will become a golden bed;
whoever lies down upon that bed will be consumed with fire." Ivan, in
a sparrow's form, overhears all this, and acts as in the preceding
story. The three widows die, but their mother, "an old witch,"
determines on revenge. Under the form of a beggar-woman she asks alms
from the retreating brothers. Ivan tenders her a ducat. She seizes,
not the ducat, but his outstretched hand, and in a moment whisks him
off underground to her husband, an Aged One, whose appearance is that
of the mythical being whom the Servians call the Vy. He "lies on an
iron couch, and sees nothing; his long eyelashes and thick eyebrows
completely hide his eyes," but he sends for "twelve mighty heroes,"
and orders them to take iron forks and lift up the hair about his
eyes, and then he gazes at the destroyer of his family. The glance of
the Servian Vy is supposed to be as deadly as that of a basilisk, but
the patriarch of the Russian story does not injure his captive. He
merely sends him on an errand which leads to a fresh set of
adventures, of which we need not now take notice.

In a third variant of the story,[84] they are snakes which are killed
by the hero, Ivan Koshkin (Cat's son), and it is a Baba Yaga, or Hag,
who undertakes to revenge their deaths and those of their wives, her
daughters. Accordingly she pursues the three brothers, and succeeds in
swallowing two of them. The third, Ivan Koshkin, takes refuge in a
smithy, and, as before, the monster's tongue is seized, and she is
beaten with hammers until she disgorges her prey, none the worse for
their temporary imprisonment.

We have seen, in the story about the Chudo-Yudo, that the place
usually occupied by the Snake is at times filled by some other magical
being. This frequently occurs in that class of stories which relates
how three brothers set out to apprehend a trespasser, or to seek a
mother or sister who has been mysteriously spirited away. They usually
come either to an opening which leads into the underground world, or
to the base of an apparently inaccessible hill. The youngest brother
descends or ascends as the case may be, and after a series of
adventures which generally lead him through the kingdoms of copper, of
silver, and of gold, returns in triumph to where his brothers are
awaiting him. And he is almost invariably deserted by them, as soon as
they have secured the beautiful princesses who accompany him--as may
be read in the following (South-Russian) history of--

  THE NORKA.[85]

  Once upon a time there lived a king and queen. They had three
  sons, two of them with their wits about them, but the third a
  simpleton. Now the King had a deer-park in which were quantities
  of wild animals of different kinds. Into that park there
  used to come a huge beast--Norka was its name--and do fearful
  mischief, devouring some of the animals every night. The King
  did all he could, but he was unable to destroy it. So at last he
  called his sons together and said: "Whoever will destroy the
  Norka, to him will I give the half of my kingdom."

  Well, the eldest son undertook the task. As soon as it was
  night, he took his weapons and set out. But before he reached
  the park, he went into a _traktir_ (or tavern), and there he spent
  the whole night in revelry. When he came to his senses it was
  too late; the day had already dawned. He felt himself disgraced
  in the eyes of his father, but there was no help for it. The next
  day the second son went, and did just the same. Their father
  scolded them both soundly, and there was an end of it.

  Well, on the third day the youngest son undertook the task.
  They all laughed him to scorn, because he was so stupid, feeling
  sure he wouldn't do anything. But he took his arms, and went
  straight into the park, and sat down on the grass in such a position
  that, the moment he went asleep, his weapons would prick
  him, and he would awake.

  Presently the midnight hour sounded. The earth began to
  shake, and the Norka came rushing up, and burst right through
  the fence into the park, so huge was it. The Prince pulled himself
  together, leapt to his feet, crossed himself, and went straight
  at the beast. It fled back, and the Prince ran after it. But he
  soon saw that he couldn't catch it on foot, so he hastened to the
  stable, laid his hands on the best horse there, and set off in
  pursuit. Presently he came up with the beast, and they began a
  fight. They fought and fought; the Prince gave the beast three
  wounds. At last they were both utterly exhausted, so they lay
  down to take a short rest. But the moment the Prince closed his
  eyes, up jumped the Beast and took to flight. The Prince's horse
  awoke him; up he jumped in a moment, and set off again in
  pursuit, caught up the Beast, and again began fighting with it.
  Again the Prince gave the Beast three wounds, and then he and
  the Beast lay down again to rest. Thereupon away fled the
  Beast as before. The Prince caught it up, and again gave it
  three wounds. But all of a sudden, just as the Prince began
  chasing it for the fourth time, the Beast fled to a great white
  stone, tilted it up, and escaped into the other world,[86] crying out
  to the Prince: "Then only will you overcome me, when you
  enter here."

  The Prince went home, told his father all that had happened,
  and asked him to have a leather rope plaited, long enough to
  reach to the other world. His father ordered this to be done.
  When the rope was made, the Prince called for his brothers, and
  he and they, having taken servants with them, and everything that
  was needed for a whole year, set out for the place where the
  Beast had disappeared under the stone. When they got there,
  they built a palace on the spot, and lived in it for some time.
  But when everything was ready, the youngest brother said to
  the others: "Now, brothers, who is going to lift this stone?"

  Neither of them could so much as stir it, but as soon as he
  touched it, away it flew to a distance, though it was ever so big--big
  as a hill. And when he had flung the stone aside, he spoke
  a second time to his brothers, saying:

  "Who is going into the other world, to overcome the Norka?"

  Neither of them offered to do so. Then he laughed at them
  for being such cowards, and said:

  "Well, brothers, farewell! Lower me into the other world,
  and don't go away from here, but as soon as the cord is jerked,
  pull it up."

  His brothers lowered him accordingly, and when he had
  reached the other world, underneath the earth, he went on his
  way. He walked and walked. Presently he espied a horse with
  rich trappings, and it said to him:

  "Hail, Prince Ivan! Long have I awaited thee!"

  He mounted the horse and rode on--rode and rode, until he
  saw standing before him, a palace made of copper. He entered
  the courtyard, tied up his horse, and went indoors. In one of
  the rooms a dinner was laid out. He sat down and dined, and
  then went into a bedroom. There he found a bed, on which he
  lay down to rest. Presently there came in a lady, more beautiful
  than can be imagined anywhere but in a skazka, who said:

  "Thou who art in my house, name thyself! If thou art an
  old man, thou shall be my father; if a middle-aged man, my
  brother; but if a young man, thou shalt be my husband dear.
  And if thou art a woman, and an old one, thou shalt be my grandmother;
  if middle-aged, my mother; and if a girl, thou shalt be
  my own sister."[87]

  Thereupon he came forth. And when she saw him, she was
  delighted with him, and said:

  "Wherefore, O Prince Ivan--my husband dear shalt thou be!--wherefore
  hast thou come hither?"

  Then he told her all that had happened, and she said:

  "That beast which thou wishest to overcome is my brother.
  He is staying just now with my second sister, who lives not far
  from here in a silver palace. I bound up three of the wounds
  which thou didst give him."

  Well, after this they drank, and enjoyed themselves, and held
  sweet converse together, and then the prince took leave of her,
  and went on to the second sister, the one who lived in the silver
  palace, and with her also he stayed awhile. She told him that
  her brother Norka was then at her youngest sister's. So he
  went on to the youngest sister, who lived in a golden palace.
  She told him that her brother was at that time asleep on the
  blue sea, and she gave him a sword of steel and a draught of the
  Water of Strength, and she told him to cut off her brother's
  head at a single stroke. And when he had heard these things,
  he went his way.

  And when the Prince came to the blue sea, he looked--there
  slept Norka on a stone in the middle of the sea; and when it
  snored, the water was agitated for seven versts around. The
  Prince crossed himself, went up to it and smote it on the head
  with his sword. The head jumped off, saying the while, "Well,
  I'm done for now!" and rolled far away into the sea.

  After killing the Beast, the Prince went back again, picking
  up all the three sisters by the way, with the intention of taking
  them out into the upper world: for they all loved him and would
  not be separated from him. Each of them turned her palace
  into an egg--for they were all enchantresses--and they taught
  him how to turn the eggs into palaces, and back again, and they
  handed over the eggs to him. And then they all went to the
  place from which they had to be hoisted into the upper world.
  And when they came to where the rope was, the Prince took
  hold of it and made the maidens fast to it.[88] Then he jerked
  away at the rope, and his brothers began to haul it up. And
  when they had hauled it up, and had set eyes on the wondrous
  maidens, they went aside and said: "Let's lower the rope, pull
  our brother part of the way up, and then cut the rope. Perhaps
  he'll be killed; but then if he isn't, he'll never give us these
  beauties as wives."

  So when they had agreed on this, they lowered the rope.
  But their brother was no fool; he guessed what they were at,
  so he fastened the rope to a stone, and then gave it a pull.
  His brothers hoisted the stone to a great height, and then cut
  the rope. Down fell the stone and broke in pieces; the Prince
  poured forth tears and went away. Well, he walked and walked.
  Presently a storm arose; the lightning flashed, the thunder
  roared, the rain fell in torrents. He went up to a tree in order
  to take shelter under it, and on that tree he saw some young
  birds which were being thoroughly drenched. So he took off
  his coat and covered them over with it, and he himself sat down
  under the tree. Presently there came flying a bird--such a big
  one, that the light was blotted out by it. It had been dark
  there before, but now it became darker still. Now this was the
  mother of those small birds which the Prince had covered up.
  And when the bird had come flying up, she perceived that her
  little ones were covered over, and she said, "Who has wrapped
  up my nestlings?" and presently, seeing the Prince, she added:
  "Didst thou do that? Thanks! In return, ask of me any
  thing thou desirest. I will do anything for thee."

  "Then carry me into the other world," he replied.

  "Make me a large _zasyek_[89] with a partition in the middle,"
  she said; "catch all sorts of game, and put them into one half
  of it, and into the other half pour water; so that there may be
  meat and drink for me."

  All this the Prince did. Then the bird--having taken the
  _zasyek_ on her back, with the Prince sitting in the middle of it--began
  to fly. And after flying some distance she brought him
  to his journey's end, took leave of him, and flew away back.
  But he went to the house of a certain tailor, and engaged himself
  as his servant. So much the worse for wear was he, so
  thoroughly had he altered in appearance, that nobody would
  have suspected him of being a Prince.

  Having entered into the service of this master, the Prince
  began to ask what was going on in that country. And his
  master replied: "Our two princes--for the third one has disappeared--have
  brought away brides from the other world, and
  want to marry them, but those brides refuse. For they insist
  on having all their wedding-clothes made for them first, exactly
  like those which they used to have in the other world, and that
  without being measured for them. The King has called all the
  workmen together, but not one of them will undertake to do it."

  The Prince, having heard all this, said, "Go to the King,
  master, and tell him that you will provide everything that's in
  your line."

  "However can I undertake to make clothes of that sort;
  I work for quite common folks," says his master.

  "Go along, master! I will answer for everything," says
  the Prince.

  So the tailor went. The King was delighted that at least
  one good workman had been found, and gave him as much
  money as ever he wanted. When the tailor had settled everything,
  he went home. And the Prince said to him:

  "Now then, pray to God, and lie down to sleep; to-morrow
  all will be ready." And the tailor followed his lad's advice,
  and went to bed.

  Midnight sounded. The Prince arose, went out of the city
  into the fields, took out of his pocket the eggs which the
  maidens had given him, and, as they had taught him, turned
  them into three palaces. Into each of these he entered, took
  the maidens' robes, went out again, turned the palaces back
  into eggs, and went home. And when he got there he hung up
  the robes on the wall, and lay down to sleep.

  Early in the morning his master awoke, and behold! there
  hung such robes as he had never seen before, all shining with
  gold and silver and precious stones. He was delighted, and he
  seized them and carried them off to the King. When the princesses
  saw that the clothes were those which had been theirs in
  the other world, they guessed that Prince Ivan was in this
  world, so they exchanged glances with each other, but they
  held their peace. And the master, having handed over the
  clothes, went home, but he no longer found his dear journeyman
  there. For the Prince had gone to a shoemaker's, and him too
  he sent to work for the King; and in the same way he went the
  round of all the artificers, and they all proffered him thanks,
  inasmuch as through him they were enriched by the King.

  By the time the princely workman had gone the round of all
  the artificers, the princesses had received what they had asked
  for; all their clothes were just like what they had been in the
  other world. Then they wept bitterly because the Prince had
  not come, and it was impossible for them to hold out any
  longer, it was necessary that they should be married. But when
  they were ready for the wedding, the youngest bride said to the

  "Allow me, my father, to go and give alms to the beggars."

  He gave her leave, and she went and began bestowing alms
  upon them, and examining them closely. And when she had
  come to one of them, and was going to give him some money,
  she caught sight of the ring which she had given to the Prince
  in the other world, and her sisters' rings too--for it really was
  he. So she seized him by the hand, and brought him into the
  hall, and said to the King:

  "Here is he who brought us out of the other world. His
  brothers forbade us to say that he was alive, threatening to slay
  us if we did."

  Then the King was wroth with those sons, and punished
  them as he thought best. And afterwards three weddings were

      [The conclusion of this story is somewhat obscure.
      Most of the variants represent the Prince as forgiving
      his brothers, and allowing them to marry two of the
      three princesses, but the present version appears to
      keep closer to its original, in which the prince
      doubtless married all three. With this story may be
      compared: Grimm, No. 166, "Der starke Hans," and No.
      91, "Dat Erdmänneken." See also vol. iii. p. 165,
      where a reference is given to the Hungarian story in
      Gaal, No. 5--Dasent, No. 55, "The Big Bird Dan," and
      No. 56, "Soria Moria Castle" (Asbjörnsen and Moe, Nos.
      3 and 2. A somewhat similar story, only the palaces
      are in the air, occurs in Asbjörnsen's "Ny Samling,"
      No. 72)--Campbell's "Tales of the West Highlands," No.
      58--Schleicher's "Litauische Märchen," No. 38--The
      Polish story, Wojcicki, Book iii. No. 6, in which
      Norka is replaced by a witch who breaks the windows of
      a church, and is wounded, in falcon-shape, by the
      youngest brother--Hahn, No. 70, in which a Drakos, as
      a cloud, steals golden apples, a story closely
      resembling the Russian skazka. See also No. 26, very
      similar to which is the Servian Story in "Vuk
      Karajich," No. 2--and a very interesting Tuscan story
      printed for the first time by A. de Gubernatis,
      "Zoological Mythology," vol. ii. p. 187. See also
      ibid. p. 391.

      But still more important than these are the parallels
      offered by Indian fiction. Take, for instance, the
      story of Sringabhuja, in chap. xxxix. of book vii. of
      the "Kathásaritságara." In it the elder sons of a
      certain king wish to get rid of their younger
      half-brother. One day a Rákshasa appears in the form
      of a gigantic crane. The other princes shoot at it in
      vain, but the youngest wounds it, and then sets off in
      pursuit of it, and of the valuable arrow which is
      fixed in it. After long wandering he comes to a castle
      in a forest. There he finds a maiden who tells him she
      is the daughter of the Rákshasa whom, in the form of a
      crane, he has wounded. She at once takes his part
      against her demon father, and eventually flies with
      him to his own country. The perils which the fugitives
      have to encounter will be mentioned in the remarks on
      Skazka XIX. See Professor Brockhaus's summary of the
      story in the "Berichte der phil. hist. Classe der K.
      Sächs. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften," 1861, pp.
      223-6. Also Professor Wilson's version in his "Essays
      on Sanskrit Literature," vol. ii. pp. 134-5.

      In two other stories in the same collection the hero
      gives chase to a boar of gigantic size. It takes
      refuge in a cavern into which he follows it. Presently
      he finds himself in a different world, wherein he
      meets a beauteous maiden who explains everything to
      him. In the first of these two stories the lady is the
      daughter of a Rákshasa, who is invulnerable except in
      the palm of the left hand, for which reason, our hero,
      Chandasena has been unable to wound him when in his
      boar disguise. She instructs Chandasena how to kill
      her father, who accordingly falls a victim to a
      well-aimed shaft. (Brockhaus's "Mährchensammlung des
      Somadeva Bhatta," 1843, vol. i. pp. 110-13). In the
      other story, the lady turns out to be a princess whom
      "a demon with fiery eyes" had carried off and
      imprisoned. She tells the hero, Saktideva, that the
      demon has just died from a wound inflicted upon him,
      while transformed into a boar, by a bold archer.
      Saktideva informs her that he is that archer.
      Whereupon she immediately requests him to marry her
      (ibid. vol. ii. p. 175). In both stories the boar is
      described as committing great ravages in the upper
      world until the hero attacks it.]

The Adventures of a prince, the youngest of three brothers, who has
been lowered into the underground world or who has ascended into an
enchanted upper realm, form the theme of numerous skazkas, several of
which are variants of the story of Norka. The prince's elder brothers
almost always attempt to kill him, when he is about to ascend from the
gulf or descend from the steeps which separate him from them. In one
instance, the following excuse is offered for their conduct. The hero
has killed a Snake in the underground world, and is carrying its head
on a lance, when his brothers begin to hoist him up. "His brothers
were frightened at the sight of that head and thinking the Snake
itself was coming, they let Ivan fall back into the pit."[90] But this
apology for their behavior seems to be due to the story-teller's
imagination. In some instances their unfraternal conduct may be
explained in the following manner. In oriental tales the hero is often
the son of a king's youngest wife, and he is not unnaturally hated by
his half-brothers, the sons of an older queen, whom the hero's mother
has supplanted in their royal father's affections. Accordingly they do
their best to get rid of him. Thus, in one of the Indian stories which
correspond to that of Norka, the hero's success at court "excited the
envy and jealousy of his brothers [doubtless half-brothers], and they
were not satisfied until they had devised a plan to effect his
removal, and, as they hoped, accomplish his destruction."[91] We know
also that "Israel loved Joseph more than all his children," because he
was the son "of his old age," and the result was that "when his
brethren [who were only his half-brothers] saw that their father loved
him more than all his brethren, they hated him."[92] When such tales
as these came west in Christian times, their references to polygamy
were constantly suppressed, and their distinctions between brothers
and half-brothers disappeared. In the same way the elder and jealous
wife, who had behaved with cruelty in the original stories to the
offspring of her rival, often became turned, under Christian
influences, into a stepmother who hated her husband's children by a
previous marriage.

There may, however, be a mythological explanation of the behavior of
the two elder brothers. Professor de Gubernatis is of opinion that "in
the Vedic hymns, Tritas, the third brother, and the ablest as well as
best, is persecuted by his brothers," who, "in a fit of jealousy, on
account of his wife, the aurora, and the riches she brings with her
from the realm of darkness, the cistern or well [into which he has
been lowered], detain their brother in the well,"[93] and he compares
this form of the myth with that which it assumes in the following
Hindoo tradition. "Three brothers, _Ekata_ (_i.e._ the first), _Dwita_
(_i.e._ the second) and _Trita_ (_i.e._ the third) were travelling in
a desert, and being distressed with thirst, came to a well, from which
the youngest, Trita, drew water and gave it to his brothers; in
requital, they drew him into the well, in order to appropriate his
property and having covered the top with a cart-wheel, left him in the
well. In this extremity he prayed to the gods to extricate him, and by
their favor he made his escape."[94] This myth may, perhaps, be the
germ from which have sprung the numerous folk-tales about the
desertion of a younger brother in some pit or chasm, into which his
brothers have lowered him.[95]

It may seem more difficult to account for the willingness of Norka's
three sisters to aid in his destruction--unless, indeed, the whole
story be considered to be mythological, as its Indian equivalents
undoubtedly are. But in many versions of the same tale the difficulty
does not arise. The princesses of the copper, silver, and golden
realms, are usually represented as united by no ties of consanguinity
with the snake or other monster whom the hero comes to kill. In the
story of "Usuinya,"[96] for instance, there appears to be no
relationship between these fair maidens and the "Usuinya-Bird," which
steals the golden apples from a monarch's garden and is killed by his
youngest son Ivan. That monster is not so much a bird as a flying
dragon. "This Usuinya-bird is a twelve-headed snake," says one of the
fair maidens. And presently it arrives--its wings stretching afar,
while along the ground trail its moustaches [_usui_, whence its name].
In a variant of the same story in another collection,[97] the part of
Norka is played by a white wolf. In that of Ivan Suchenko[98] it is
divided among three snakes who have stolen as many princesses. For the
snake is much given to abduction, especially when he appears under the
terrible form of "Koshchei, the Deathless."

Koshchei is merely one of the many incarnations of the dark spirit
which takes so many monstrous shapes in the folk-tales of the class
with which we are now dealing. Sometimes he is described as altogether
serpent-like in form; sometimes he seems to be of a mixed nature,
partly human and partly ophidian, but in some of the stories he is
apparently framed after the fashion of a man. His name is by some
mythologists derived from _kost'_, a bone whence comes a verb
signifying to become ossified, petrified, or frozen; either because he
is bony of limb, or because he produces an effect akin to freezing or

He is called "Immortal" or "The Deathless,"[100] because of his
superiority to the ordinary laws of existence. Sometimes, like Baldur,
he cannot be killed except by one substance; sometimes his
"death"--that is, the object with which his life is indissolubly
connected--does not exist within his body. Like the vital centre of
"the giant who had no heart in his body" in the well-known Norse tale,
it is something extraneous to the being whom it affects, and until it
is destroyed he may set all ordinary means of annihilation at
defiance. But this is not always the case, as may be learnt from one
of the best of the skazkas in which he plays a leading part, the
history of--


  In a certain kingdom there lived a Prince Ivan. He had three
  sisters. The first was the Princess Marya, the second the Princess
  Olga, the third the Princess Anna. When their father and
  mother lay at the point of death, they had thus enjoined their
  son:--"Give your sisters in marriage to the very first suitors
  who come to woo them. Don't go keeping them by you!"

  They died and the Prince buried them, and then, to solace his
  grief, he went with his sisters into the garden green to stroll.
  Suddenly the sky was covered by a black cloud; a terrible storm

  "Let us go home, sisters!" he cried.

  Hardly had they got into the palace, when the thunder
  pealed, the ceiling split open, and into the room where they were,
  came flying a falcon bright. The Falcon smote upon the ground,
  became a brave youth, and said:

  "Hail, Prince Ivan! Before I came as a guest, but now I
  have come as a wooer! I wish to propose for your sister, the
  Princess Marya."

  "If you find favor in the eyes of my sister, I will not interfere
  with her wishes. Let her marry you in God's name!"

  The Princess Marya gave her consent; the Falcon married
  her and bore her away into his own realm.

  Days follow days, hours chase hours; a whole year goes by.
  One day Prince Ivan and his two sisters went out to stroll in
  the garden green. Again there arose a stormcloud with whirlwind
  and lightning.

  "Let us go home, sisters!" cried the Prince. Scarcely had
  they entered the palace, when the thunder crashed, the roof
  burst into a blaze, the ceiling split in twain, and in flew an eagle.
  The Eagle smote upon the ground and became a brave youth.

  "Hail, Prince Ivan! Before I came as a guest, but now I
  have come as a wooer!"

  And he asked for the hand of the Princess Olga. Prince
  Ivan replied:

  "If you find favor in the eyes of the Princess Olga, then let
  her marry you. I will not interfere with her liberty of choice."

  The Princess Olga gave her consent and married the Eagle.
  The Eagle took her and carried her off to his own kingdom.

  Another year went by. Prince Ivan said to his youngest

  "Let us go out and stroll in the garden green!"

  They strolled about for a time. Again there arose a stormcloud,
  with whirlwind and lightning.

  "Let us return home, sister!" said he.

  They returned home, but they hadn't had time to sit down
  when the thunder[102] crashed, the ceiling split open, and in flew
  a raven. The Raven smote upon the floor and became a brave
  youth. The former youths had been handsome, but this one
  was handsomer still.

  "Well, Prince Ivan! Before I came as a guest, but now I
  have come as a wooer. Give me the Princess Anna to wife."

  "I won't interfere with my sister's freedom. If you gain her
  affections, let her marry you."

  So the Princess Anna married the Raven, and he bore her
  away to his own realm. Prince Ivan was left alone. A whole
  year he lived without his sisters; then he grew weary, and

  "I will set out in search of my sisters."

  He got ready for the journey, he rode and rode, and one day
  he saw a whole army lying dead on the plain. He cried aloud,
  "If there be a living man there, let him make answer! who has
  slain this mighty host?"

  There replied unto him a living man:

  "All this mighty host has been slain by the fair Princess
  Marya Morevna."

  Prince Ivan rode further on, and came to a white tent, and
  forth came to meet him the fair Princess Marya Morevna.

  "Hail Prince!" says she, "whither does God send you?
  and is it of your free will or against your will?"

  Prince Ivan replied, "Not against their will do brave youths

  "Well, if your business be not pressing, tarry awhile in my

  Thereat was Prince Ivan glad. He spent two nights in the
  tent, and he found favor in the eyes of Marya Morevna, and
  she married him. The fair Princess, Marya Morevna, carried
  him off into her own realm.

  They spent some time together, and then the Princess took
  it into her head to go a warring. So she handed over all the
  housekeeping affairs to Prince Ivan, and gave him these instructions:

  "Go about everywhere, keep watch over everything, only do
  not venture to look into that closet there."

  He couldn't help doing so. The moment Marya Morevna
  had gone he rushed to the closet, pulled open the door, and
  looked in--there hung Koshchei the Deathless, fettered by
  twelve chains. Then Koshchei entreated Prince Ivan, saying,--

  "Have pity upon me and give me to drink! Ten years long
  have I been here in torment, neither eating or drinking; my
  throat is utterly dried up."

  The Prince gave him a bucketful of water; he drank it up
  and asked for more, saying:

  "A single bucket of water will not quench my thirst; give
  me more!"

  The Prince gave him a second bucketful. Koshchei drank
  it up and asked for a third, and when he had swallowed the
  third bucketful, he regained his former strength, gave his chains
  a shake, and broke all twelve at once.

  "Thanks, Prince Ivan!" cried Koshchei the deathless,
  "now you will sooner see your own ears than Marya Morevna!"
  and out of the window he flew in the shape of a terrible whirlwind.
  And he came up with the fair Princess Marya Morevna
  as she was going her way, laid hold of her, and carried her off
  home with him. But Prince Ivan wept full sore, and he arrayed
  himself and set out a wandering, saying to himself: "Whatever
  happens, I will go and look for Marya Morevna!"

  One day passed, another day passed: at the dawn of the
  third day he saw a wondrous palace, and by the side of the palace
  stood an oak, and on the oak sat a falcon bright. Down flew
  the Falcon from the oak, smote upon the ground, turned into a
  brave youth and cried aloud:

  "Ha, dear brother-in-law! how deals the Lord with you?"

  Out came running the Princess Marya, joyfully greeted her
  brother Ivan, and began enquiring after his health, and telling
  him all about herself. The Prince spent three days with them,
  then he said:

  "I cannot abide with you; I must go in search of my wife
  the fair Princess Marya Morevna."

  "Hard will it be for you to find her," answered the Falcon.
  "At all events leave with us your silver spoon. We will look at
  it and remember you." So Prince Ivan left his silver spoon at
  the Falcon's, and went on his way again.

  On he went one day, on he went another day, and by the
  dawn of the third day he saw a palace still grander than the former
  one, and hard by the palace stood an oak, and on the oak
  sat an eagle. Down flew the eagle from the oak, smote upon
  the ground, turned into a brave youth, and cried aloud:

  "Rise up, Princess Olga! Hither comes our brother dear!"

  The Princess Olga immediately ran to meet him, and began
  kissing him and embracing him, asking after his health and telling
  him all about herself. With them Prince Ivan stopped three
  days; then he said:

  "I cannot stay here any longer. I am going to look for my
  wife, the fair Princess Marya Morevna."

  "Hard will it be for you to find her," replied the Eagle,
  "Leave with us a silver fork. We will look at it and remember

  He left a silver fork behind, and went his way. He travelled
  one day, he travelled two days; at daybreak on the third day he
  saw a palace grander than the first two, and near the palace
  stood an oak, and on the oak sat a raven. Down flew the Raven
  from the oak, smote upon the ground, turned into a brave youth,
  and cried aloud:

  "Princess Anna, come forth quickly! our brother is coming!"

  Out ran the Princess Anna, greeted him joyfully, and began
  kissing and embracing him, asking after his health and telling
  him all about herself. Prince Ivan stayed with them three days;
  then he said:

  "Farewell! I am going to look for my wife, the fair Princess
  Marya Morevna."

  "Hard will it be for you to find her," replied the Raven,
  "Anyhow, leave your silver snuff-box with us. We will look at
  it and remember you."

  The Prince handed over his silver snuff-box, took his leave
  and went his way. One day he went, another day he went, and
  on the third day he came to where Marya Morevna was. She
  caught sight of her love, flung her arms around his neck, burst
  into tears, and exclaimed:

  "Oh, Prince Ivan! why did you disobey me, and go looking
  into the closet and letting out Koshchei the Deathless?"

  "Forgive me, Marya Morevna! Remember not the past;
  much better fly with me while Koshchei the Deathless is out of
  sight. Perhaps he won't catch us."

  So they got ready and fled. Now Koshchei was out hunting.
  Towards evening he was returning home, when his good steed
  stumbled beneath him.

  "Why stumblest thou, sorry jade? scentest thou some ill?"

  The steed replied:

  "Prince Ivan has come and carried off Marya Morevna."

  "Is it possible to catch them?"

  "It is possible to sow wheat, to wait till it grows up, to reap
  it and thresh it, to grind it to flour, to make five pies of it, to
  eat those pies, and then to start in pursuit--and even then to be
  in time."

  Koshchei galloped off and caught up Prince Ivan.

  "Now," says he, "this time I will forgive you, in return for
  your kindness in giving me water to drink. And a second time
  I will forgive you; but the third time beware! I will cut you to

  Then he took Marya Morevna from him, and carried her off.
  But Prince Ivan sat down on a stone and burst into tears. He
  wept and wept--and then returned back again to Marya Morevna.
  Now Koshchei the Deathless happened not to be at home.

  "Let us fly, Marya Morevna!"

  "Ah, Prince Ivan! he will catch us."

  "Suppose he does catch us. At all events we shall have
  spent an hour or two together."

  So they got ready and fled. As Koshchei the Deathless was
  returning home, his good steed stumbled beneath him.

  "Why stumblest thou, sorry jade? scentest thou some

  "Prince Ivan has come and carried off Marya Morevna."

  "Is it possible to catch them?"

  "It is possible to sow barley, to wait till it grows up, to reap
  it and thresh it, to brew beer, to drink ourselves drunk on it,
  to sleep our fill, and then to set off in pursuit--and yet to be in

  Koshchei galloped off, caught up Prince Ivan:

  "Didn't I tell you that you should not see Marya Morevna
  any more than your own ears?"

  And he took her away and carried her off home with him.

  Prince Ivan was left there alone. He wept and wept; then
  he went back again after Marya Morevna. Koshchei happened
  to be away from home at that moment.

  "Let us fly, Marya Morevna."

  "Ah, Prince Ivan! He is sure to catch us and hew you in

  "Let him hew away! I cannot live without you."

  So they got ready and fled.

  Koshchei the Deathless was returning home when his good
  steed stumbled beneath him.

  "Why stumblest thou? scentest thou any ill?"

  "Prince Ivan has come and has carried off Marya Morevna."

  Koshchei galloped off, caught Prince Ivan, chopped him into
  little pieces, put them in a barrel, smeared it with pitch and
  bound it with iron hoops, and flung it into the blue sea. But
  Marya Morevna he carried off home.

  At that very time, the silver turned black which Prince Ivan
  had left with his brothers-in-law.

  "Ah!" said they, "the evil is accomplished sure enough!"

  Then the Eagle hurried to the blue sea, caught hold of the
  barrel, and dragged it ashore; the Falcon flew away for the
  Water of Life, and the Raven for the Water of Death.

  Afterwards they all three met, broke open the barrel, took out
  the remains of Prince Ivan, washed them, and put them together
  in fitting order. The Raven sprinkled them with the Water of
  Death--the pieces joined together, the body became whole. The
  Falcon sprinkled it with the Water of Life--Prince Ivan shuddered,
  stood up, and said:

  "Ah! what a time I've been sleeping!"

  "You'd have gone on sleeping a good deal longer, if it hadn't
  been for us," replied his brothers-in-law. "Now come and pay
  us a visit."

  "Not so, brothers; I shall go and look for Marya Morevna."

  And when he had found her, he said to her:

  "Find out from Koshchei the Deathless whence he got so
  good a steed."

  So Marya Morevna chose a favorable moment, and began
  asking Koshchei about it. Koshchei replied:

  "Beyond thrice nine lands, in the thirtieth kingdom, on the
  other side of the fiery river, there lives a Baba Yaga. She has
  so good a mare that she flies right round the world on it every
  day. And she has many other splendid mares. I watched her
  herds for three days without losing a single mare, and in return
  for that the Baba Yaga gave me a foal."

  "But how did you get across the fiery river?"

  "Why, I've a handkerchief of this kind--when I wave it
  thrice on the right hand, there springs up a very lofty bridge and
  the fire cannot reach it."

  Marya Morevna listened to all this, and repeated it to Prince
  Ivan, and she carried off the handkerchief and gave it to him.
  So he managed to get across the fiery river, and then went on to
  the Baba Yaga's. Long went he on without getting anything
  either to eat or to drink. At last he came across an outlandish[103]
  bird and its young ones. Says Prince Ivan:

  "I'll eat one of these chickens."

  "Don't eat it, Prince Ivan!" begs the outlandish bird;
  "some time or other I'll do you a good turn."

  He went on farther and saw a hive of bees in the forest.

  "I'll get a bit of honeycomb," says he.

  "Don't disturb my honey, Prince Ivan!" exclaims the queen
  bee; "some time or other I'll do you a good turn."

  So he didn't disturb it, but went on. Presently there met
  him a lioness with her cub.

  "Anyhow I'll eat this lion cub," says he; "I'm so hungry, I
  feel quite unwell!"

  "Please let us alone, Prince Ivan," begs the lioness; "some
  time or other I'll do you a good turn."

  "Very well; have it your own way," says he.

  Hungry and faint he wandered on, walked farther and farther
  and at last came to where stood the house of the Baba Yaga.
  Round the house were set twelve poles in a circle, and on each
  of eleven of these poles was stuck a human head, the twelfth
  alone remained unoccupied.

  "Hail, granny!"

  "Hail, Prince Ivan! wherefore have you come? Is it of your
  own accord, or on compulsion?"

  "I have come to earn from you a heroic steed."

  "So be it, Prince, you won't have to serve a year with me, but
  just three days. If you take good care of my mares, I'll give you
  a heroic steed. But if you don't--why then you mustn't be
  annoyed at finding your head stuck on top of the last pole up

  Prince Ivan agreed to these terms. The Baba Yaga gave
  him food and drink, and bid him set about his business. But the
  moment he had driven the mares afield, they cocked up their
  tails, and away they tore across the meadows in all directions.
  Before the Prince had time to look round, they were all out of
  sight. Thereupon he began to weep and to disquiet himself, and
  then he sat down upon a stone and went to sleep. But when the
  sun was near its setting, the outlandish bird came flying up to him,
  and awakened him saying:--

  "Arise, Prince Ivan! the mares are at home now."

  The Prince arose and returned home. There the Baba Yaga
  was storming and raging at her mares, and shrieking:--

  "Whatever did ye come home for?"

  "How could we help coming home?" said they. "There
  came flying birds from every part of the world, and all but pecked
  our eyes out."

  "Well, well! to-morrow don't go galloping over the meadows,
  but disperse amid the thick forests."

  Prince Ivan slept all night. In the morning the Baba Yaga
  says to him:--

  "Mind, Prince! if you don't take good care of the mares, if
  you lose merely one of them--your bold head will be stuck on
  that pole!"

  He drove the mares afield. Immediately they cocked up their
  tails and dispersed among the thick forests. Again did the
  Prince sit down on the stone, weep and weep, and then go to
  sleep. The sun went down behind the forest. Up came running
  the lioness.

  "Arise, Prince Ivan! The mares are all collected."

  Prince Ivan arose and went home. More than ever did the
  Baba Yaga storm at her mares and shriek:--

  "Whatever did ye come back home for?"

  "How could we help coming back? Beasts of prey came
  running at us from all parts of the world, all but tore us utterly
  to pieces."

  "Well, to-morrow run off into the blue sea."

  Again did Prince Ivan sleep through the night. Next morning
  the Baba Yaga sent him forth to watch the mares:

  "If you don't take good care of them," says she, "your bold
  head will be stuck on that pole!"

  He drove the mares afield. Immediately they cocked up
  their tails, disappeared from sight, and fled into the blue sea.
  There they stood, up to their necks in water. Prince Ivan sat
  down on the stone, wept, and fell asleep. But when the sun had
  set behind the forest, up came flying a bee and said:--

  "Arise, Prince! The mares are all collected. But when
  you get home, don't let the Baba Yaga set eyes on you, but go
  into the stable and hide behind the mangers. There you will
  find a sorry colt rolling in the muck. Do you steal it, and at
  the dead of night ride away from the house."

  Prince Ivan arose, slipped into the stable, and lay down behind
  the mangers, while the Baba Yaga was storming away at
  her mares and shrieking:--

  "Why did ye come back?"

  "How could we help coming back? There came flying bees
  in countless numbers from all parts of the world, and began
  stinging us on all sides till the blood came!"

  The Baba Yaga went to sleep. In the dead of the night
  Prince Ivan stole the sorry colt, saddled it, jumped on its back,
  and galloped away to the fiery river. When he came to that river
  he waved the handkerchief three times on the right hand, and
  suddenly, springing goodness knows whence, there hung across
  the river, high in the air, a splendid bridge. The Prince rode
  across the bridge and waved the handkerchief twice only on the
  left hand; there remained across the river a thin--ever so thin
  a bridge!

  When the Baba Yaga got up in the morning, the sorry colt
  was not to be seen! Off she set in pursuit. At full speed did
  she fly in her iron mortar, urging it on with the pestle, sweeping
  away her traces with the broom. She dashed up to the fiery
  river, gave a glance, and said, "A capital bridge!" She drove
  on to the bridge, but had only got half-way when the bridge
  broke in two, and the Baba Yaga went flop into the river. There
  truly did she meet with a cruel death!

  Prince Ivan fattened up the colt in the green meadows, and
  it turned into a wondrous steed. Then he rode to where Marya
  Morevna was. She came running out, and flung herself on his
  neck, crying:--

  "By what means has God brought you back to life?"

  "Thus and thus," says he. "Now come along with me."

  "I am afraid, Prince Ivan! If Koshchei catches us, you will
  be cut in pieces again."

  "No, he won't catch us! I have a splendid heroic steed now;
  it flies just like a bird." So they got on its back and rode

  Koshchei the Deathless was returning home when his horse
  stumbled beneath him.

  "What art thou stumbling for, sorry jade? dost thou scent
  any ill?"

  "Prince Ivan has come and carried off Marya Morevna."

  "Can we catch them?"

  "God knows! Prince Ivan has a horse now which is better
  than I."

  "Well, I can't stand it," says Koshchei the Deathless. "I
  will pursue."

  After a time he came up with Prince Ivan, lighted on the
  ground, and was going to chop him up with his sharp sword.
  But at that moment Prince Ivan's horse smote Koshchei the
  Deathless full swing with its hoof, and cracked his skull, and the
  Prince made an end of him with a club. Afterwards the Prince
  heaped up a pile of wood, set fire to it, burnt Koshchei the
  Deathless on the pyre, and scattered his ashes to the wind.
  Then Marya Morevna mounted Koshchei's horse and Prince Ivan
  got on his own, and they rode away to visit first the Raven, and
  then the Eagle, and then the Falcon. Wherever they went they
  met with a joyful greeting.

  "Ah, Prince Ivan! why, we never expected to see you again.
  Well, it wasn't for nothing that you gave yourself so much trouble.
  Such a beauty as Marya Morevna one might search for all the
  world over--and never find one like her!"

  And so they visited, and they feasted; and afterwards they
  went off to their own realm.[104]

With the Baba Yaga, the feminine counterpart of Koshchei and the
Snake, we shall deal presently, and the Waters of Life and Death will
find special notice elsewhere.[105] A magic water, which brings back
the dead to life, plays a prominent part in the folk-lore of all
lands, but the two waters, each performing one part only of the cure,
render very noteworthy the Slavonic stories in which they occur. The
Princess, Marya Morevna, who slaughters whole armies before she is
married, and then becomes mild and gentle, belongs to a class of
heroines who frequently occur both in the stories and in the "metrical
romances," and to whom may be applied the remarks made by Kemble with
reference to a similar Amazon.[106] In one of the variants of the
story the representative of Marya Morevna fights the hero before she
marries him.[107] The Bluebeard incident of the forbidden closet is
one which often occurs in the Skazkas, as we shall see further on; and
the same may be said about the gratitude of the Bird, Bee, and

The story of Immortal Koshchei is one of very frequent occurrence,
the different versions maintaining a unity of idea, but varying
considerably in detail. In one of them,[108] in which Koshchei's part
is played by a Snake, the hero's sisters are carried off by their
feathered admirers without his leave being asked--an omission for
which a full apology is afterwards made; in another, the history of
"Fedor Tugarin and Anastasia the Fair,"[109] the hero's three sisters
are wooed and won, not by the Falcon, the Eagle, and the Raven, but by
the Wind, the Hail, and the Thunder. He himself marries the terrible
heroine Anastasia the Fair, in the forbidden chamber of whose palace
he finds a snake "hung up by one of its ribs." He gives it a lift and
it gets free from its hook and flies away, carrying off Anastasia the
Fair. Fedor eventually finds her, escapes with her on a magic foal
which he obtains, thanks to the aid of grateful wolves, bees, and
crayfish, and destroys the snake by striking it "on the forehead" with
the stone which was destined to be its death. In a third version of
the story,[110] the hero finds in the forbidden chamber "Koshchei the
Deathless, in a cauldron amid flames, boiling in pitch." There he has
been, he declares, for fifteen years, having been lured there by the
beauty of Anastasia the Fair. In a fourth,[111] in which the hero's
three sisters marry three beggars, who turn out to be snakes with
twenty, thirty, and forty heads apiece, Koshchei is found in the
forbidden chamber, seated on a horse which is chained to a cauldron.
He begs the hero to unloose the horse, promising, in return, to save
him from three deaths.

      [Into the mystery of the forbidden chamber I will not
      enter fully at present. Suffice to say that there can
      be little doubt as to its being the same as that in
      which Bluebeard kept the corpses of his dead wives. In
      the Russian, as well as in the Oriental stories, it is
      generally the curiosity of a man, not of a woman,
      which leads to the opening of the prohibited room. In
      the West of Europe the fatal inquisitiveness is more
      frequently ascribed to a woman. For parallels see the
      German stories of "Marienkind," and "Fitchers Vogel."
      (Grimm, _KM._, Nos. 3 and 46, also the notes in Bd.
      iii. pp. 8, 76, 324.) Less familiar than these is,
      probably, the story of "Die eisernen Stiefel" (Wolf's
      "Deutsche Hausmärchen," 1851, No. 19), in which the
      hero opens a forbidden door--that of a
      summer-house--and sees "deep down below him the earth,
      and on the earth his father's palace," and is seized
      by a sudden longing after his former home. The
      Wallachian story of "The Immured Mother" (Schott, No.
      2) resembles Grimm's "Marienkind" in many points. But
      its forbidden chamber differs from that of the German
      tale. In the latter the rash intruder sees "die
      Dreieinigkeit im Feuer und Glanz sitzen;" in the
      former, "the Holy Mother of God healing the wounds of
      her Son, the Lord Christ." In the Neapolitan story of
      "Le tre Corune" (Pentamerone, No. 36), the forbidden
      chamber contains "three maidens, clothed all in gold,
      sitting and seeming to slumber upon as many thrones"
      (Liebrecht's translation, ii. 76). The Esthonian tale
      of the "Wife-murderer" (Löwe's "Ehstnische Märchen,"
      No. 20) is remarkably--not to say suspiciously--like
      that French story of Blue Beard which has so often
      made our young blood run cold. Sister Anne is
      represented, and so are the rescuing brothers, the
      latter in the person of the heroine's old friend and
      playmate, Tönnis the goose-herd. Several very curious
      Gaelic versions of the story are given by Mr. Campbell
      ("Tales of the West Highlands," No. 41, ii. 265-275).
      Two of the three daughters of a poor widow look into a
      forbidden chamber, find it "full of dead gentlewomen,"
      get stained knee-deep in blood, and refuse to give a
      drop of milk to a cat which offers its services. So
      their heads are chopped off. The third daughter makes
      friends with the cat, which licks off the tell-tale
      blood, so she escapes detection. In a Greek story
      (Hahn, ii. p. 197) the hero discovers in the
      one-and-fortieth room of a castle belonging to a
      Drakos, who had given him leave to enter forty only, a
      magic horse, and before the door of the room he finds
      a pool of gold in which he becomes gilded. In another
      (Hahn, No. 15) a prince finds in the forbidden
      fortieth a lake in which fairies of the swan-maiden
      species are bathing. In a third (No. 45) the fortieth
      room contains a golden horse and a golden dog which
      assist their bold releaser. In a fourth (No. 68) it
      imprisons "a fair maiden, shining like the sun," whom
      the demon proprietor of the castle has hung up within
      it by her hair.

      As usual, all these stories are hard to understand.
      But one of the most important of their Oriental
      equivalents is perfectly intelligible. When Saktideva,
      in the fifth book of the "Kathásaritságara," comes
      after long travel to the Golden City, and is welcomed
      as her destined husband by its princess, she warns him
      not to ascend the central terrace of her palace. Of
      course he does so, and finds three chambers, in each
      of which lies the lifeless form of a fair maiden.
      After gazing at these seeming corpses, in one of which
      he recognizes his first love, he approaches a horse
      which is grazing beside a lake. The horse kicks him
      into the water; he sinks deep--and comes up again in
      his native land. The whole of the story is, towards
      its termination, fully explained by one of its
      principal characters--one of the four maidens whom
      Saktideva simultaneously marries. With the version of
      this romance in the "Arabian Nights" ("History of the
      Third Royal Mendicant," Lane, i. 160-173), everyone is
      doubtless acquainted. A less familiar story is that of
      Kandarpaketu, in the second book of the "Hitopadesa,"
      who lives happily for a time as the husband of the
      beautiful semi-divine queen of the Golden City. At
      last, contrary to her express commands, he ventures to
      touch a picture of a Vidyádharí. In an instant the
      pictured demigoddess gives him a kick which sends him
      flying back into his own country.

      For an explanation of the myth which lies at the root
      of all these stories, see Cox's "Mythology of the
      Aryan Nations," ii. 36, 330. See also Professor de
      Gubernatis's "Zoological Mythology," i. 168.]

We will now take one of those versions of the story which describe how
Koshchei's death is brought about by the destruction of that
extraneous object on which his existence depends. The incident is one
which occupies a prominent place in the stories of this class current
in all parts of Europe and Asia, and its result is almost always the
same. But the means by which that result is brought about differ
considerably in different lands. In the Russian tales the "death" of
the Evil Being with whom the hero contends--the substance, namely, the
destruction of which involves his death--is usually the last of a
sequence of objects either identical with, or closely resembling,
those mentioned in the following story of--


  In a certain country there once lived a king, and he had three
  sons, all of them grown up. All of a sudden Koshchei the
  Deathless carried off their mother. Then the eldest son craved
  his father's blessing, that he might go and look for his mother.
  His father gave him his blessing, and he went off and disappeared,
  leaving no trace behind. The second son waited and waited,
  then he too obtained his father's blessing--and he also disappeared.
  Then the youngest son, Prince Ivan, said to his father,
  "Father, give me your blessing, and let me go and look for my

  But his father would not let him go, saying, "Your brothers
  are no more; if you likewise go away, I shall die of grief."

  "Not so, father. But if you bless me I shall go; and if you
  do not bless me I shall go."

  So his father gave him his blessing.

  Prince Ivan went to choose a steed, but every one that he
  laid his hand upon gave way under it. He could not find a steed
  to suit him, so he wandered with drooping brow along the road
  and about the town. Suddenly there appeared an old woman,
  who asked:

  "Why hangs your brow so low, Prince Ivan?"

  "Be off, old crone," he replied. "If I put you on one of my
  hands, and give it a slap with the other, there'll be a little wet
  left, that's all."[113]

  The old woman ran down a by-street, came to meet him a
  second time, and said:

  "Good day, Prince Ivan! why hangs your brow so low?"

  Then he thought:

  "Why does this old woman ask me? Mightn't she be of
  use to me?"--and he replied:

  "Well, mother! because I cannot get myself a good steed."

  "Silly fellow!" she cried, "to suffer, and not to ask the old
  woman's help! Come along with me."

  She took him to a hill, showed him a certain spot, and said:

  "Dig up that piece of ground."

  Prince Ivan dug it up and saw an iron plate with twelve padlocks
  on it. He immediately broke off the padlocks, tore open
  a door, and followed a path leading underground. There,
  fastened with twelve chains, stood a heroic steed which evidently
  heard the approaching steps of a rider worthy to mount it, and
  so began to neigh and to struggle, until it broke all twelve of its
  chains. Then Prince Ivan put on armor fit for a hero, and
  bridled the horse, and saddled it with a Circassian saddle. And
  he gave the old woman money, and said to her:

  "Forgive me, mother, and bless me!" then he mounted his
  steed and rode away.

  Long time did he ride; at last he came to a mountain--a
  tremendously high mountain, and so steep that it was utterly
  impossible to get up it. Presently his brothers came that way.
  They all greeted each other, and rode on together, till they came
  to an iron rock[114] a hundred and fifty poods in weight, and on it
  was this inscription, "Whosoever will fling this rock against
  the mountain, to him will a way be opened." The two elder
  brothers were unable to lift the rock, but Prince Ivan at the
  first try flung it against the mountain--and immediately there
  appeared a ladder leading up the mountain side.

  Prince Ivan dismounted, let some drops of blood run from
  his little finger into a glass, gave it to his brothers, and said:

  "If the blood in this glass turns black, tarry here no longer:
  that will mean that I am about to die." Then he took leave of
  them and went his way.

  He mounted the hill. What did not he see there? All
  sorts of trees were there, all sorts of fruits, all sorts of birds!
  Long did Prince Ivan walk on; at last he came to a house, a
  huge house! In it lived a king's daughter who had been carried
  off by Koshchei the Deathless. Prince Ivan walked round the
  enclosure, but could not see any doors. The king's daughter
  saw there was some one there, came on to the balcony, and
  called out to him, "See, there is a chink in the enclosure; touch
  it with your little finger, and it will become a door."

  What she said turned out to be true. Prince Ivan went into
  the house, and the maiden received him kindly, gave him to eat
  and to drink, and then began to question him. He told her how
  he had come to rescue his mother from Koshchei the Deathless.
  Then the maiden said:

  "It will be difficult for you to get at your mother, Prince
  Ivan. You see, Koshchei is not mortal: he will kill you. He
  often comes here to see me. There is his sword, fifty poods in
  weight. Can you lift it? If so, you may venture to go."

  Not only did Prince Ivan lift the sword, but he tossed it
  high in the air. So he went on his way again.

  By-and-by he came to a second house. He knew now where
  to look for the door, and he entered in. There was his mother.
  With tears did they embrace each other.

  Here also did he try his strength, heaving aloft a ball which
  weighed some fifteen hundred poods. The time came for
  Koshchei the Deathless to arrive. The mother hid away her
  son. Suddenly Koshchei the Deathless entered the house and
  cried out, "Phou, Phou! A Russian bone[115] one usen't to hear
  with one's ears, or see with one's eyes, but now a Russian bone
  has come to the house! Who has been with you? Wasn't it
  your son?"

  "What are you talking about, God bless you! You've been
  flying through Russia, and got the air up your nostrils, that's
  why you fancy it's here," answered Prince Ivan's mother, and
  then she drew nigh to Koshchei, addressed him in terms of
  affection, asked him about one thing and another, and at last

  "Whereabouts is your death, O Koshchei?"

  "My death," he replied, "is in such a place. There stands
  an oak, and under the oak is a casket, and in the casket is a
  hare, and in the hare is a duck, and in the duck is an egg, and
  in the egg is my death."

  Having thus spoken, Koshchei the Deathless tarried there a
  little longer, and then flew away.

  The time came--Prince Ivan received his mother's blessing,
  and went to look for Koshchei's death. He went on his way a
  long time without eating or drinking; at last he felt mortally
  hungry, and thought, "If only something would come my way!"
  Suddenly there appeared a young wolf; he determined to kill
  it. But out from a hole sprang the she wolf, and said, "Don't
  hurt my little one; I'll do you a good turn." Very good! Prince
  Ivan let the young wolf go. On he went and saw a crow.
  "Stop a bit," he thought, "here I shall get a mouthful." He
  loaded his gun and was going to shoot, but the crow exclaimed,
  "Don't hurt me; I'll do you a good turn."

  Prince Ivan thought the matter over and spared the crow.
  Then he went farther, and came to a sea and stood still on the
  shore. At that moment a young pike suddenly jumped out of
  the water and fell on the strand. He caught hold of it, and
  thought--for he was half dead with hunger--"Now I shall have
  something to eat." All of a sudden appeared a pike and said,
  "Don't hurt my little one, Prince Ivan; I'll do you a good turn."
  And so he spared the little pike also.

  But how was he to cross the sea? He sat down on the shore
  and meditated. But the pike knew quite well what he was
  thinking about, and laid herself right across the sea. Prince
  Ivan walked along her back, as if he were going over a bridge,
  and came to the oak where Koshchei's death was. There he
  found the casket and opened it--out jumped the hare and ran
  away. How was the hare to be stopped?

  Prince Ivan was terribly frightened at having let the hare
  escape, and gave himself up to gloomy thoughts; but a wolf,
  the one he had refrained from killing, rushed after the hare,
  caught it, and brought it to Prince Ivan. With great delight
  he seized the hare, cut it open--and had such a fright! Out
  popped the duck and flew away. He fired after it, but shot
  all on one side, so again he gave himself up to his thoughts.
  Suddenly there appeared the crow with her little crows, and set
  off after the duck, and caught it, and brought it to Prince Ivan.
  The Prince was greatly pleased and got hold of the egg. Then
  he went on his way. But when he came to the sea, he began
  washing the egg, and let it drop into the water. However was
  he to get it out of the water? an immeasurable depth! Again
  the Prince gave himself up to dejection.

  Suddenly the sea became violently agitated, and the pike
  brought him the egg. Moreover it stretched itself across the
  sea. Prince Ivan walked along it to the other side, and then
  he set out again for his mother's. When he got there, they
  greeted each other lovingly, and then she hid him again as before.
  Presently in flew Koshchei the Deathless and said:

  "Phoo, Phoo! No Russian bone can the ear hear nor the
  eye see, but there's a smell of Russia here!"

  "What are you talking about, Koshchei? There's no one
  with me," replied Prince Ivan's mother.

  A second time spake Koshchei and said, "I feel rather unwell."

  Then Prince Ivan began squeezing the egg, and thereupon
  Koshchei the Deathless bent double. At last Prince Ivan came
  out from his hiding-place, held up the egg and said, "There is
  your death, O Koshchei the Deathless!"

  Then Koshchei fell on his knees before him, saying, "Don't
  kill me, Prince Ivan! Let's be friends! All the world will lie
  at our feet."

  But these words had no weight with Prince Ivan. He
  smashed the egg, and Koshchei the Deathless died.

  Ivan and his mother took all they wanted and started homewards.
  On their way they came to where the King's daughter
  was whom Ivan had seen on his way, and they took her with
  them too. They went further, and came to the hill where Ivan's
  brothers were still waiting for him. Then the maiden said,
  "Prince Ivan! do go back to my house. I have forgotten a
  marriage robe, a diamond ring, and a pair of seamless shoes."

  He consented to do so, but in the mean time he let his mother
  go down the ladder, as well as the Princess--whom it had been
  settled he was to marry when they got home. They were received
  by his brothers, who then set to work and cut away the ladder,
  so that he himself would not be able to get down. And they
  used such threats to his mother and the Princess, that they
  made them promise not to tell about Prince Ivan when they
  got home. And after a time they reached their native country.
  Their father was delighted at seeing his wife and his two sons,
  but still he was grieved about the other one, Prince Ivan.

  But Prince Ivan returned to the home of his betrothed, and
  got the wedding dress, and the ring, and the seamless shoes.
  Then he came back to the mountain and tossed the ring from
  one hand to the other. Immediately there appeared twelve
  strong youths, who said:

  "What are your commands?"

  "Carry me down from this hill."

  The youths immediately carried him down. Prince Ivan put
  the ring on his finger--they disappeared.

  Then he went on to his own country, and arrived at the city
  in which his father and brothers lived.

  There he took up his quarters in the house of an old woman,
  and asked her:

  "What news is there, mother, in your country?"

  "What news, lad? You see our queen was kept in prison
  by Koshchei the Deathless. Her three sons went to look for
  her, and two of them found her and came back, but the third,
  Prince Ivan, has disappeared, and no one knows where he is.
  The King is very unhappy about him. And those two Princes
  and their mother brought a certain Princess back with them;
  and the eldest son wants to marry her, but she declares he must
  fetch her her betrothal ring first, or get one made just as she
  wants it. But although they have made a public proclamation
  about it, no one has been found to do it yet."

  "Well, mother, go and tell the King that you will make one.
  I'll manage it for you," said Prince Ivan.

  So the old woman immediately dressed herself, and hastened
  to the King, and said:

  "Please, your Majesty, I will make the wedding ring."

  "Make it, then, make it, mother! Such people as you are
  welcome," said the king. "But if you don't make it, off goes
  your head!"

  The old woman was dreadfully frightened; she ran home,
  and told Prince Ivan to set to work at the ring. But Ivan lay
  down to sleep, troubling himself very little about it. The ring
  was there all the time. So he only laughed at the old woman,
  but she was trembling all over, and crying, and scolding him.

  "As for you," she said, "you're out of the scrape; but you've
  done for me, fool that I was!"

  The old woman cried and cried until she fell asleep. Early in
  the morning Prince Ivan got up and awakened her, saying:

  "Get up, mother, and go out! take them the ring, and mind,
  don't accept more than one ducat for it. If anyone asks who
  made the ring, say you made it yourself; don't say a word about

  The old woman was overjoyed and carried off the ring. The
  bride was delighted with it.

  "Just what I wanted," she said. So they gave the old woman
  a dish full of gold, but she took only one ducat.

  "Why do you take so little?" said the king.

  "What good would a lot do me, your Majesty? if I want some
  more afterwards, you'll give it me."

  Having said this the old woman went away.

  Time passed, and the news spread abroad that the bride had
  told her lover to fetch her her wedding-dress or else to get one
  made, just such a one as she wanted. Well, the old woman,
  thanks to Prince Ivan's aid, succeeded in this matter too, and
  took her the wedding-dress. And afterwards she took her the
  seamless shoes also, and would only accept one ducat each time
  and always said that she had made the things herself.

  Well, the people heard that there would be a wedding at the
  palace on such-and-such a day. And the day they all anxiously
  awaited came at last. Then Prince Ivan said to the old woman:

  "Look here, mother! when the bride is just going to be
  married, let me know."

  The old woman didn't let the time go by unheeded.

  Then Ivan immediately put on his princely raiment, and went
  out of the house.

  "See, mother, this is what I'm really like!" says he.

  The old woman fell at his feet.

  "Pray forgive me for scolding you," said she.

  "God be with you," said he.[116]

  So he went into the church and, finding his brothers had not
  yet arrived, he stood up alongside of the bride and got married
  to her. Then he and she were escorted back to the palace, and
  as they went along, the proper bridegroom, his eldest brother,
  met them. But when he saw that his bride and Prince Ivan were
  being escorted home together, he turned back again ignominiously.

  As to the king, he was delighted to see Prince Ivan again,
  and when he had learnt all about the treachery of his brothers,
  after the wedding feast had been solemnized, he banished the
  two elder princes, but he made Ivan heir to the throne.

In the story of "Prince Arikad,"[117] the Queen-Mother is carried off
by the Whirlwind,[118] instead of by Koshchei. Her youngest son climbs
the hill by the aid of iron hooks, kills Vikhor, and lowers his mother
and three other ladies whom he has rescued, by means of a rope made of
strips of hide. This his brothers cut to prevent him from
descending.[119] They then oblige the ladies to swear not to betray
them, the taking of the oath being accompanied by the eating of
earth.[120] The same formality is observed in another story in which
an oath of a like kind is exacted.[121]

The sacred nature of such an obligation may account for the singular
reticence so often maintained, under similar circumstances, in stories
of this class.

In one of the descriptions of Koshchei's death, he is said to be
killed by a blow on the forehead inflicted by the mysterious egg--that
last link in the magic chain by which his life is darkly bound.[122]
In another version of the same story, but told of a Snake, the fatal
blow is struck by a small stone found in the yolk of an egg, which is
inside a duck, which is inside a hare, which is inside a stone, which
is on an island [_i.e._, the fabulous island Buyan].[123] In another
variant[124] Koshchei attempts to deceive his fair captive, pretending
that his "death" resides in a besom, or in a fence, both of which she
adorns with gold in token of her love. Then he confesses that his
"death" really lies in an egg, inside a duck, inside a log which is
floating on the sea. Prince Ivan gets hold of the egg and shifts it
from one hand to the other. Koshchei rushes wildly from side to side
of the room. At last the prince breaks the egg. Koshchei falls on the
floor and dies.

This heart-breaking episode occurs in the folk-tales of many
lands.[125] It may not be amiss to trace it through some of its forms.
In a Norse story[126] a Giant's heart lies in an egg, inside a duck,
which swims in a well, in a church, on an island. With this may be
compared another Norse tale,[127] in which a _Haugebasse_, or Troll,
who has carried off a princess, informs her that he and all his
companions will burst asunder when above them passes "the grain of
sand that lies under the ninth tongue in the ninth head" of a certain
dead dragon. The grain of sand is found and brought, and the result is
that the whole of the monstrous brood of Trolls or _Haugebasser_ is
instantaneously destroyed. In a Transylvanian-Saxon story[128] a
Witch's "life" is a light which burns in an egg, inside a duck, which
swims on a pond, inside a mountain, and she dies when it is put out.
In the Bohemian story of "The Sun-horse"[129] a Warlock's "strength"
lies in an egg, which is within a duck, which is within a stag, which
is under a tree. A Seer finds the egg and sucks it. Then the Warlock
becomes as weak as a child, "for all his strength had passed into the
Seer." In the Gaelic story of "The Sea-Maiden,"[130] the "great beast
with three heads" which haunts the loch cannot be killed until an egg
is broken, which is in the mouth of a trout, which springs out of a
crow, which flies out of a hind, which lives on an island in the
middle of the loch. In a Modern Greek tale the life of a dragon or
other baleful being comes to an end simultaneously with the lives of
three pigeons which are shut up in an all but inaccessible
chamber,[131] or inclosed within a wild boar.[132] Closely connected
with the Greek tale is the Servian story of the dragon[133] whose
"strength" (_snaga_) lies in a sparrow, which is inside a dove, inside
a hare, inside a boar, inside a dragon (_ajdaya_) which is in a lake,
near a royal city. The hero of the story fights the dragon of the
lake, and after a long struggle, being invigorated at the critical
moment by a kiss which the heroine imprints on his forehead--he flings
it high in the air. When it falls to the ground it breaks in pieces,
and out comes the boar. Eventually the hero seizes the sparrow and
wrings its neck, but not before he has obtained from it the charm
necessary for the recovery of his missing brothers and a number of
other victims of the dragon's cruelty.

To these European tales a very interesting parallel is afforded by
the Indian story of "Punchkin,"[134] whose life depends on that of a
parrot, which is in a cage placed beneath the lowest of six jars of
water, piled one on the other, and standing in the midst of a desolate
country covered with thick jungle. When the parrot's legs and wings
are pulled off, Punchkin loses his legs and arms; and when its neck is
wrung, his head twists round and he dies.

One of the strangest of the stories which turn on this idea of an
external heart is the Samoyed tale,[135] in which seven brothers are
in the habit, every night, of taking out their hearts and sleeping
without them. A captive damsel whose mother they have killed, receives
the extracted hearts and hangs them on the tent-pole, where they
remain till the following morning. One night her brother contrives to
get the hearts into his possession. Next morning he takes them into
the tent, where he finds the brothers at the point of death. In vain
do they beg for their hearts, which he flings on the floor. "And as he
flings down the hearts the brothers die."

The legend to which I am now about to refer will serve as a proof of
the venerable antiquity of the myth from which the folk-tales, which
have just been quoted, appear to have sprung. A papyrus, which is
supposed to be "of the age of the nineteenth dynasty, about B.C.
1300," has preserved an Egyptian tale about two brothers. The younger
of these, Satou, leaves the elder, Anepou (Anubis) and retires to the
Valley of the Acacia. But, before setting off, Satou states that he
shall take his heart and place it "in the flowers of the acacia-tree,"
so that, if the tree is cut down, his heart will fall to the ground
and he will die. Having given Anepou instructions what to do in such a
case, he seeks the valley. There he hunts wild animals by day, and at
night he sleeps under the acacia-tree on which his heart rests. But at
length Noum, the Creator, forms a wife for him, and all the other gods
endow her with gifts. To this Egyptian Pandora Satou confides the
secret of his heart. One day a tress of her perfumed hair floats down
the river, and is taken to the King of Egypt. He determines to make
its owner his queen, and she, like Rhodope or Cinderella, is sought
for far and wide. When she has been found and brought to the king, she
recommends him to have the acacia cut down, so as to get rid of her
lawful husband. Accordingly the tree is cut down, the heart falls, and
Satou dies.

About this time Anepou sets out to pay his long-lost brother a visit.
Finding him dead, he searches for his heart, but searches in vain for
three years. In the fourth year, however, it suddenly becomes desirous
of returning to Egypt, and says, "I will leave this celestial sphere."
Next day Anepou finds it under the acacia, and places it in a vase
which contains some mystic fluid. When the heart has become saturated
with the moisture, the corpse shudders and opens its eyes. Anepou
pours the rest of the fluid down its throat, the heart returns to its
proper place, and Satou is restored to life.[136]

In one of the Skazkas, a _volshebnitsa_ or enchantress is introduced,
whose "death," like that of Koshchei, is spoken of as something
definite and localized. A prince has loved and lost a princess, who is
so beautiful that no man can look at her without fainting. Going in
search of her, he comes to the home of an enchantress, who invites him
to tea and gives him leave to inspect her house. As he wanders about
he comes to a cellar in which "he sees that beautiful one whom he
loves, in fire." She tells him her love for him has brought her there;
and he learns that there is no hope of freeing her unless he can find
out "where lies the death of the enchantress." So that evening he asks
his hostess about it, and she replies:

"In a certain lake stands a blue rose-tree. It is in a deep place, and
no man can reach unto it. My death is there."

He sets out in search of it, and, aided by a magic ring, reaches the
lake, "and sees there the blue rose-tree, and around it a blue
forest." After several failures, he succeeds in plucking up the
rose-tree by the roots, whereupon the enchantress straightway sickens.
He returns to her house, finds her at the point of death, and throws
the rose-bush into the cellar where his love is crying, "Behold her
death!" and immediately the whole building shakes to its
foundations--"and becomes an island, on which are people who had been
sitting in Hell, and who offer up thanks to Prince Ivan."[137]

In another Russian story,[138] a prince is grievously tormented by a
witch who has got hold of his heart, and keeps it perpetually seething
in a magic cauldron. In a third,[139] a "Queen-Maiden" falls in love
with the young Ivan, and, after being betrothed to him, would fain
take him away to her own land and marry him. But his stepmother throws
him into a magic slumber, and the Queen-Maiden has to return home
without him. When he awakes, and learns that she has gone, he sorrows
greatly, and sets out in search of her. At last he learns from a
friendly witch that his betrothed no longer cares for him, "her love
is hidden far away." It seems "that on the other side of the ocean
stands an oak, and on the oak a coffer, and in the coffer a hare, and
in the hare a duck, and in the duck an egg, and in the egg the love of
the Queen-Maiden." Ivan gets possession of the egg, and the friendly
witch contrives to have it placed before the Queen-Maiden at dinner.
She eats it, and immediately her love for Ivan returns in all its
pristine force. He appears, and she, overjoyed, carries him off to her
own land and there marries him.

       *       *       *       *       *

After this digression we will now return to our Snakes. All the
monstrous forms which figure in the stories we have just been
considering appear to be merely different species of the great serpent
family. Such names as Koshchei, Chudo Yudo, Usuinya, and the like,
seem to admit of exchange at the will of the story-teller with that of
Zméï Goruinuich, the many-headed Snake, who in Russian storyland is
represented as the type of all that is evil. But in the actual Russia
of to-day, snakes bear by no means so bad a character. Their presence
in a cottage is considered a good omen by the peasants, who leave out
milk for them to drink, and who think that to kill such visitors would
be a terrible sin.[140] This is probably a result of some remembrance
of a religious cultus paid to the household gods under the form of
snakes, such as existed of old, according to Kromer, in Poland and
Lithuania. The following story is more in keeping with such ideas as
these, than with those which are expressed in the tales about Koshchei
and his kin.


  There was once an old woman who had a daughter; and her
  daughter went down to the pond one day to bathe with the
  other girls. They all stripped off their shifts, and went into the
  water. Then there came a snake out of the water, and glided on
  to the daughter's shift. After a time the girls all came out, and
  began to put on their shifts, and the old woman's daughter wanted
  to put on hers, but there was the snake lying on it. She tried
  to drive him away, but there he stuck and would not move. Then
  the snake said:

  "If you'll marry me, I'll give you back your shift."

  Now she wasn't at all inclined to marry him, but the other
  girls said:

  "As if it were possible for you to be married to him! Say
  you will!" So she said, "Very well, I will." Then the snake
  glided off from the shift, and went straight into the water. The
  girl dressed and went home. And as soon as she got there,
  she said to her mother,

  "Mammie, mammie, thus and thus, a snake got upon my
  shift, and says he, 'Marry me or I won't let you have your shift;'
  and I said, 'I will.'"

  "What nonsense are you talking, you little fool! as if one
  could marry a snake!"

  And so they remained just as they were, and forgot all about
  the matter.

  A week passed by, and one day they saw ever so many snakes,
  a huge troop of them, wriggling up to their cottage. "Ah,
  mammie, save me, save me!" cried the girl, and her mother
  slammed the door and barred the entrance as quickly as possible.
  The snakes would have rushed in at the door, but the door was
  shut; they would have rushed into the passage, but the passage
  was closed. Then in a moment they rolled themselves into a
  ball, flung themselves at the window, smashed it to pieces, and
  glided in a body into the room. The girl got upon the stove, but
  they followed her, pulled her down, and bore her out of the room
  and out of doors. Her mother accompanied her, crying like

  They took the girl down to the pond, and dived right into the
  water with her. And there they all turned into men and women.
  The mother remained for some time on the dike, wailed a little,
  and then went home.

  Three years went by. The girl lived down there, and had
  two children, a son and a daughter. Now she often entreated
  her husband to let her go to see her mother. So at last one day
  he took her up to the surface of the water, and brought her
  ashore. But she asked him before leaving him,

  "What am I to call out when I want you?"

  "Call out to me, 'Osip, [Joseph] Osip, come here!' and I
  will come," he replied.

  Then he dived under water again, and she went to her
  mother's, carrying her little girl on one arm, and leading her boy
  by the hand. Out came her mother to meet her--was so
  delighted to see her!

  "Good day, mother!" said the daughter.

  "Have you been doing well while you were living down
  there?" asked her mother.

  "Very well indeed, mother. My life there is better than
  yours here."

  They sat down for a bit and chatted. Her mother got
  dinner ready for her, and she dined.

  "What's your husband's name?" asked her mother.

  "Osip," she replied.

  "And how are you to get home?"

  "I shall go to the dike, and call out, 'Osip, Osip, come
  here!' and he'll come."

  "Lie down, daughter, and rest a bit," said the mother.

  So the daughter lay down and went to sleep. The mother
  immediately took an axe and sharpened it, and went down to the
  dike with it. And when she came to the dike, she began calling

  "Osip, Osip, come here!"

  No sooner had Osip shown his head than the old woman
  lifted her axe and chopped it off. And the water in the pond
  became dark with blood.

  The old woman went home. And when she got home her
  daughter awoke.

  "Ah! mother," says she, "I'm getting tired of being here; I'll
  go home."

  "Do sleep here to-night, daughter; perhaps you won't have
  another chance of being with me."

  So the daughter stayed and spent the night there. In the
  morning she got up and her mother got breakfast ready for her;
  she breakfasted, and then she said good-bye to her mother and
  went away, carrying her little girl in her arms, while her boy
  followed behind her. She came to the dike, and called out:

  "Osip, Osip, come here!"

  She called and called, but he did not come.

  Then she looked into the water, and there she saw a head
  floating about. Then she guessed what had happened.

  "Alas! my mother has killed him!" she cried.

  There on the bank she wept and wailed. And then to her
  girl she cried:

  "Fly about as a wren, henceforth and evermore!"

  And to her boy she cried:

  "Fly about as a nightingale, my boy, henceforth and evermore!"

  "But I," she said, "will fly about as a cuckoo, crying
  'Cuckoo!' henceforth and evermore!"

      [Stories about serpent-spouses are by no means
      uncommon, but I can find no parallel to the above so
      far as the termination is concerned. Benfey quotes or
      refers to a great number of the transformation tales
      in which a husband or a wife appears at times in the
      form of a snake (Panchatantra, i. pp. 254-7 266-7).
      Sometimes, when a husband of this kind has doffed his
      serpent's skin, his wife seizes it, and throws it into
      the fire. Her act generally proves to be to her
      advantage, as well as to his, but not always. On a
      story of this kind was doubtless founded the legend
      handed down to us by Appuleius of Cupid and Psyche.
      Among its wildest versions are the Albanian
      "Schlangenkind" (Hahn, No. 100), a very similar
      Roumanian tale (Ausland 1857, No. 43, quoted by
      Benfey), the Wallachian Trandafíru (Schott, No. 23, in
      which the husband is a pumpkin (_Kürbiss_) by day),
      and the second of the Servian tales of the
      Snake-Husband (Vuk Karajich, No. 10).]

The snakes which figure in this weird story, the termination of which
is so unusually tragic, bear a strong resemblance to the Indian Nágas,
the inhabitants of Patala or the underground world, serpents which
take at will the human shape and often mix with mortals. They may,
also, be related to the mermen and mermaids of the sea-coasts, and to
the similar beings with which, under various names, tradition peoples
the lakes, and streams, and fountains of Europe. The South-Russian
peasantry have from immemorial times maintained a firm belief in the
existence of water-nymphs, called Rusalkas, closely resembling the
Nereids of Modern Greece, the female Nixies of the North of Europe,
and throughout the whole of Russia, at least in outlying districts,
there still lingers a sort of cultus of certain male water-sprites who
bear the name of Vodyanies, and who are almost identical with the
beings who haunt the waters of various countries--such as the German
_Nix_, the Swedish _Nek_, the Finnish _Näkke_, etc.[142]

In the Skazkas we find frequent mention of beauteous maidens who
usually live beneath the wave, but who can transform themselves into
birds and fly wherever they please. We may perhaps be allowed to
designate them by the well-known name of Swan-Maidens, though they do
not always assume, together with their plumage-robes, the form of
swans, but sometimes appear as geese, ducks, spoonbills, or aquatic
birds of some other species. They are, for the most part, the
daughters of the Morskoi Tsar, or Water King--a being who plays an
important part in Slavonic popular fiction. He is of a somewhat
shadowy form, and his functions are not very clearly defined, for the
part he usually fills is sometimes allotted to Koshchei or to the
Snake, but the stories generally represent him as a patriarchal
monarch, living in subaqueous halls of light and splendor, whence he
emerges at times to seize a human victim. It is generally a boy whom
he gets into his power, and who eventually obtains the hand of one of
his daughters, and escapes with her to the upper world, though not
without considerable difficulty. Such are, for instance, the leading
incidents in the following skazka, many features of which closely
resemble those of various well-known West-European folk-tales.


  Once upon a time there lived a King and Queen, and the King
  was very fond of hunting and shooting. Well one day he went
  out hunting, and he saw an Eaglet sitting on an oak. But just
  as he was going to shoot at it the Eaglet began to entreat him,

  "Don't shoot me, my lord King! better take me home with
  you; some time or other I shall be of service to you."

  The King reflected awhile and said, "How can you be of use
  to me?" and again he was going to shoot.

  Then the Eaglet said to him a second time:--

  "Don't shoot me, my lord King! better take me home with
  you; some time or other I shall be of use to you."

  The King thought and thought, but couldn't imagine a bit the
  more what use the Eaglet could be to him, and so he determined
  to shoot it. Then a third time the Eaglet exclaimed:--

  "Don't shoot me, my lord King! better take me home with
  you and feed me for three years. Some time or other I shall be
  of service to you!"

  The King relented, took the Eaglet home with him, and fed
  it for a year, for two years. But it ate so much that it devoured
  all his cattle. The King had neither a cow nor a sheep left. At
  length the Eagle said:--

  "Now let me go free!"

  The King set it at liberty; the Eagle began trying its wings.
  But no, it could not fly yet! So it said:--

  "Well, my lord King! you have fed me two years; now,
  whether you like it or no, feed me for one year more. Even if
  you have to borrow, at all events feed me; you won't lose by it!"

  Well, this is what the King did. He borrowed cattle from
  everywhere round about, and he fed the Eagle for the space of a
  whole year, and afterwards he set it at liberty. The Eagle rose
  ever so high, flew and flew, then dropt down again to the earth
  and said:--

  "Now then, my lord King! Take a seat on my back! we'll
  have a fly together?"

  The King got on the Eagle's back. Away they went flying.
  Before very long they reached the blue sea. Then the Eagle
  shook off the King, who fell into the sea, and sank up to his
  knees. But the Eagle didn't let him drown! it jerked him on to
  its wing, and asked:--

  "How now, my lord King! were you frightened, perchance?"

  "I was," said the King; "I thought I was going to be drowned

  Again they flew and flew till they reached another sea. The
  Eagle shook off the King right in the middle of the sea; the King
  sank up to his girdle. The Eagle jerked him on to its wing
  again, and asked:--

  "Well, my lord King, were you frightened, perchance?"

  "I was," he replied, "but all the time I thought, 'Perhaps,
  please God, the creature will pull me out.'"

  Away they flew again, flew, and arrived at a third sea. The
  Eagle dropped the King into a great gulf, so that he sank right
  up to his neck. And the third time the Eagle jerked him on to
  its wing, and asked:--

  "Well, my lord King! Were you frightened, perchance?"

  "I was," says the King, "but still I said to myself, 'Perhaps
  it will pull me out.'"

  "Well, my lord King! now you have felt what the fear of
  death is like! What I have done was in payment of an old score.
  Do you remember my sitting on an oak, and your wanting to
  shoot me? Three times you were going to let fly, but I kept on
  entreating you not to shoot, saying to myself all the time, 'Perhaps
  he won't kill me; perhaps he'll relent and take me home
  with him!'"

  Afterwards they flew beyond thrice nine lands: long, long
  did they fly. Says the Eagle, "Look, my lord King! what is
  above us and what below us?"

  The King looked.

  "Above us," he says, "is the sky, below us the earth."

  "Look again; what is on the right hand and on the left?"

  "On the right hand is an open plain, on the left stands a

  "We will fly thither," said the Eagle; "my youngest sister
  lives there."

  They went straight into the courtyard. The sister came out
  to meet them, received her brother cordially, and seated him at
  the oaken table. But on the King she would not so much as
  look, but left him outside, loosed greyhounds, and set them at
  him. The Eagle was exceedingly wroth, jumped up from table,
  seized the King, and flew away with him again.

  Well, they flew and flew. Presently the Eagle said to the
  King, "Look round; what is behind us?"

  The King turned his head, looked, and said, "Behind us is a
  red house."

  "That is the house of my youngest sister--on fire, because
  she did not receive you, but set greyhounds at you."

  They flew and flew. Again the Eagle asked:

  "Look again, my lord King; what is above us, and what
  below us?"

  "Above us is the sky, below us the earth."

  "Look and see what is on the right hand and on the left."

  "On the right is the open plain, on the left there stands a

  "There lives my second sister; we'll go and pay her a visit."

  They stopped in a wide courtyard. The second sister received
  her brother cordially, and seated him at the oaken table; but the
  King was left outside, and she loosed greyhounds, and set them
  at him. The Eagle flew into a rage, jumped up from table,
  caught up the King, and flew away farther with him. They flew
  and flew. Says the Eagle:

  "My lord King! look round! what is behind us?"

  The King looked back.

  "There stands behind us a red house."

  "That's my second sister's house burning!" said the Eagle.
  "Now we'll fly to where my mother and my eldest sister live."

  Well, they flew there. The Eagle's mother and eldest sister
  were delighted to see them, and received the King with cordiality
  and respect.

  "Now, my lord King," said the Eagle, "tarry awhile with
  us, and afterwards I will give you a ship, and will repay you for
  all I ate in your house, and then--God speed you home again!"

  So the Eagle gave the King a ship and two coffers--the one
  red, the other green--and said:

  "Mind now! don't open the coffers until you get home.
  Then open the red coffer in the back court, and the green coffer
  in the front court."

  The King took the coffers, parted with the Eagle, and sailed
  along the blue sea. Presently he came to a certain island, and
  there his ship stopped. He landed on the shore, and began
  thinking about the coffers, and wondering whatever there could
  be in them, and why the Eagle had told him not to open them.
  He thought and thought, and at last couldn't hold out any more--he
  longed so awfully to know all about it. So he took the red
  coffer, set it on the ground, and opened it--and out of it came
  such a quantity of different kinds of cattle that there was no
  counting them: the island had barely room enough for them.

  When the King saw that, he became exceedingly sorrowful,
  and began to weep and therewithal to say:

  "What is there now left for me to do? how shall I get all
  this cattle back into so little a coffer?"

  Lo! there came out of the water a man--came up to him, and

  "Wherefore are you weeping so bitterly, O lord King?"

  "How can I help weeping!" answers the King. "How
  shall I be able to get all this great herd into so small a coffer?"

  "If you like, I will set your mind at rest. I will pack up all
  your cattle for you. But on one condition only. You must give
  me whatever you have at home that you don't know of."

  The King reflected.

  "Whatever is there at home that I don't know of?" says he.
  "I fancy I know about everything that's there."

  He reflected, and consented. "Pack them up," says he. "I
  will give you whatever I have at home that I know nothing

  So that man packed away all his cattle for him in the coffer.
  The King went on board ship and sailed away homewards.

  When he reached home, then only did he learn that a son
  had been born to him. And he began kissing the child, caressing
  it, and at the same time bursting into such floods of tears!

  "My lord King!" says the Queen, "tell me wherefore thou
  droppest bitter tears?"

  "For joy!" he replies.

  He was afraid to tell her the truth, that the Prince would
  have to be given up. Afterwards he went into the back court,
  opened the red coffer, and thence issued oxen and cows, sheep
  and rams; there were multitudes of all sorts of cattle, so that
  all the sheds and pastures were crammed full. He went into
  the front court, opened the green coffer, and there appeared a
  great and glorious garden. What trees there were in it to be
  sure! The King was so delighted that he forgot all about
  giving up his son.

  Many years went by. One day the King took it into his
  head to go for a stroll, and he came to a river. At that moment
  the same man he had seen before came out of the water, and

  "You've pretty soon become forgetful, lord King! Think a
  little! surely you're in my debt!"

  The King returned home full of grief, and told all the truth to
  the Queen and the Prince. They all mourned and wept together,
  but they decided that there was no help for it, the Prince must
  be given up. So they took him to the mouth of the river and
  there they left him alone.

  The Prince looked around, saw a footpath, and followed
  trusting God would lead him somewhere. He walked and walked,
  and came to a dense forest: in the forest stood a hut, in the
  hut lived a Baba Yaga.

  "Suppose I go in," thought the Prince, and went in.

  "Good day, Prince!" said the Baba Yaga. "Are you seeking
  work or shunning work?"

  "Eh, granny! First give me to eat and to drink, and then ask
  me questions."

  So she gave him food and drink, and the Prince told her
  everything as to whither he was going and with what purpose.

  Then the Baba Yaga said: "Go, my child, to the sea-shore;
  there will fly thither twelve spoonbills, which will turn into fair
  maidens, and begin bathing; do you steal quietly up and lay
  your hands on the eldest maiden's shift. When you have come
  to terms with her, go to the Water King, and there will meet
  you on the way Obédalo and Opivalo, and also Moroz Treskum[144]--take
  all of them with you; they will do you good service."

  The Prince bid the Yaga farewell, went to the appointed spot
  on the sea-shore, and hid behind the bushes. Presently twelve
  spoonbills came flying thither, struck the moist earth, turned
  into fair maidens, and began to bathe. The Prince stole the
  eldest one's shift, and sat down behind a bush--didn't budge
  an inch. The girls finished bathing and came out on the shore:
  eleven of them put on their shifts, turned into birds, and
  flew away home. There remained only the eldest, Vasilissa the
  Wise. She began praying and begging the good youth:

  "Do give me my shift!" she says. "You are on your way
  to the house of my father, the Water King. When you come
  I will do you good service."

  So the Prince gave her back her shift, and she immediately
  turned into a spoonbill and flew away after her companions.
  The Prince went further on; there met him by the way three
  heroes--Obédalo, Opivalo, and Moroz Treskum; he took them
  with him and went on to the Water King's.

  The Water King saw him, and said:

  "Hail, friend! why have you been so long in coming to me?
  I have grown weary of waiting for you. Now set to work.
  Here is your first task. Build me in one night a great crystal
  bridge, so that it shall be ready for use to-morrow. If you don't
  build it--off goes your head!"

  The Prince went away from the Water King, and burst into a
  flood of tears. Vasilissa the Wise opened the window of her
  upper chamber, and asked:

  "What are you crying about, Prince?"

  "Ah! Vasilissa the Wise! how can I help crying? Your
  father has ordered me to build a crystal bridge in a single night,
  and I don't even know how to handle an axe."

  "No matter! lie down and sleep; the morning is wiser than
  the evening."

  She ordered him to sleep, but she herself went out on the
  steps, and called aloud with a mighty whistling cry. Then from
  all sides there ran together carpenters and workmen; one
  levelled the ground, another carried bricks. Soon had they
  built a crystal bridge, and traced cunning devices on it; and then
  they dispersed to their homes.

  Early next morning Vasilissa the Wise awoke the Prince:

  "Get up, Prince! the bridge is ready: my father will be
  coming to inspect it directly."

  Up jumped the Prince, seized a broom, took his place on the
  bridge, and began sweeping here, clearing up there.

  The Water King bestowed praise upon him:

  "Thanks!" says he. "You've done me one service: now
  do another. Here is your task. Plant me by to-morrow a
  garden green--a big and shady one; and there must be birds
  singing in the garden, and flowers blossoming on the trees, and
  ripe apples and pears hanging from the boughs."

  Away went the Prince from the Water King, all dissolved in
  tears. Vasilissa the Wise opened her window and asked:

  "What are you crying for, Prince?"

  "How can I help crying? Your father has ordered me to
  plant a garden in one night!"

  "That's nothing! lie down and sleep: the morning is wiser
  than the evening."

  She made him go to sleep, but she herself went out on the
  steps, called and whistled with a mighty whistle. From every
  side there ran together gardeners of all sorts, and they planted
  a garden green, and in the garden birds sang, on the trees
  flowers blossomed, from the boughs hung ripe apples and pears.

  Early in the morning Vasilissa the Wise awoke the Prince:

  "Get up, Prince! the garden is ready: Papa is coming to
  see it."

  The Prince immediately snatched up a broom, and was off to
  the garden. Here he swept a path, there he trained a twig.
  The Water King praised him and said:

  "Thanks, Prince! You've done me right trusty service. So
  choose yourself a bride from among my twelve daughters. They
  are all exactly alike in face, in hair, and in dress. If you can
  pick out the same one three times running, she shall be your
  wife; if you fail to do so, I shall have you put to death."

  Vasilissa the Wise knew all about that, so she found time to
  say to the Prince:

  "The first time I will wave my handkerchief, the second I
  will be arranging my dress, the third time you will see a fly
  above my head."

  And so the Prince guessed which was Vasilissa the Wise
  three times running. And he and she were married, and a wedding
  feast was got ready.

  Now the Water King had prepared much food of all sorts
  more than a hundred men could get through. And he ordered
  his son-in-law to see that everything was eaten. "If anything
  remains over, the worse for you!" says he.

  "My Father," begs the Prince, "there's an old fellow of
  mine here; please let him take a snack with us."

  "Let him come!"

  Immediately appeared Obédalo--ate up everything, and
  wasn't content then! The Water King next set out two score
  tubs of all kinds of strong drinks, and ordered his son-in-law to
  see that they were all drained dry.

  "My Father!" begs the Prince again, "there's another old
  man of mine here, let him, too, drink your health."

  "Let him come!"

  Opivalo appeared, emptied all the forty tubs in a twinkling,
  and then asked for a drop more by way of stirrup-cup.[145]

  The Water King saw that there was nothing to be gained that
  way, so he gave orders to prepare a bath-room for the young
  couple--an iron bath-room--and to heat it as hot as possible.
  So the iron bath-room was made hot. Twelve loads of firewood
  were set alight, and the stove and the walls were made
  red-hot--impossible to come within five versts of it.

  "My Father!" says the Prince; "let an old fellow of ours
  have a scrub first, just to try the bath-room."

  "Let him do so!"

  Moroz Treskum went into the bath room, blew into one corner,
  blew in another--in a moment icicles were hanging there.
  After him the young couple also went into the bath-room, were
  lathered and scrubbed,[146] and then went home.

  After a time Vasilissa said to the Prince, "Let us get out of
  my father's power. He's tremendously angry with you; perhaps
  he'll be doing you some hurt."

  "Let us go," says the Prince.

  Straightway they saddled their horses and galloped off into
  the open plain. They rode and rode; many an hour went by.

  "Jump down from your horse, Prince, and lay your ear close
  to the earth," said Vasilissa. "Cannot you hear a sound as of

  The prince bent his ear to the ground, but he could hear nothing.
  Then Vasilissa herself lighted down from her good
  steed, laid herself flat on the earth, and said: "Ah Prince! I hear
  a great noise as of chasing after us." Then she turned the
  horses into a well, and herself into a bowl, and the Prince into
  an old, very old man. Up came the pursuers.

  "Heigh, old man!" say they, "haven't you seen a youth and
  a maiden pass by?"

  "I saw them, my friends! only it was a long while ago. I was
  a youngster at the time when they rode by."

  The pursuers returned to the Water King.

  "There is no trace of them," they said, "no news: all we
  saw was an old man beside a well, and a bowl floating on the

  "Why did not ye seize them?" cried the Water King, who
  thereupon put the pursuers to a cruel death, and sent another
  troop after the Prince and Vasilissa the Wise.

  The fugitives in the mean time had ridden far, far away.
  Vasilissa the Wise heard the noise made by the fresh set of
  pursuers, so she turned the Prince into an old priest, and she
  herself became an ancient church. Scarcely did its walls hold
  together, covered all over with moss. Presently up came the

  "Heigh, old man! haven't you seen a youth and a maiden
  pass by?"

  "I saw them, my own! only it was long, ever so long ago. I
  was a young man when they rode by. It was just while I was
  building this church."

  So the second set of pursuers returned to the Water King,

  "There is neither trace nor news of them, your Royal Majesty.
  All that we saw was an old priest and an ancient church."

  "Why did not ye seize them?" cried the Water King louder
  than before, and having put the pursuers to a cruel death, he
  galloped off himself in pursuit of the Prince and Vasilissa the
  Wise. This time Vasilissa turned the horses into a river of
  honey with _kissel_[147] banks, and changed the Prince into a Drake
  and herself into a grey duck. The Water King flung himself
  on the _kissel_ and honey-water, and ate and ate, and drank and
  drank until he burst! And so he gave up the ghost.

  The Prince and Vasilissa rode on, and at length they drew
  nigh to the home of the Prince's parents. Then said Vasilissa,

  "Go on in front, Prince, and report your arrival to your
  father and mother. But I will wait for you here by the wayside.
  Only remember these words of mine: kiss everyone
  else, only don't kiss your sister; if you do, you will forget me."

  The Prince reached home, began saluting every one, kissed
  his sister too--and no sooner had he kissed her than from that
  very moment he forgot all about his wife, just as if she had
  never entered into his mind.

  Three days did Vasilissa the Wise await him. On the fourth
  day she clad herself like a beggar, went into the capital, and
  took up her quarters in an old woman's house. But the Prince
  was preparing to marry a rich Princess, and orders were given
  to proclaim throughout the kingdom, that all Christian people
  were to come to congratulate the bride and bridegroom, each
  one bringing a wheaten pie as a present. Well, the old woman
  with whom Vasilissa lodged, prepared, like everyone else, to
  sift flour and make a pie.

  "Why are you making a pie, granny?" asked Vasilissa.

  "Is it why? you evidently don't know then. Our King is
  giving his son in marriage to a rich princess: one must go to
  the palace to serve up the dinner to the young couple."

  "Come now! I, too, will bake a pie and take it to the
  palace; may be the King will make me some present."

  "Bake away in God's name!" said the old woman.

  Vasilissa took flour, kneaded dough, and made a pie. And
  inside it she put some curds and a pair of live doves.

  Well, the old woman and Vasilissa the Wise reached the
  palace just at dinner-time. There a feast was in progress, one
  fit for all the world to see. Vasilissa's pie was set on the table,
  but no sooner was it cut in two than out of it flew the two
  doves. The hen bird seized a piece of curd, and her mate said
  to her:

  "Give me some curds, too, Dovey!"

  "No I won't," replied the other dove: "else you'd forget
  me, as the Prince has forgotten his Vasilissa the Wise."

  Then the Prince remembered about his wife. He jumped
  up from table, caught her by her white hands, and seated her
  close by his side. From that time forward they lived together
  in all happiness and prosperity.

      [With this story may be compared a multitude of tales
      in very many languages. In German for instance, "Der
      König vom goldenen Berg," (Grimm, _KM._ No. 92. See
      also Nos. 51, 56, 113, 181, and the opening of No.
      31), "Der Königssohn und die Teufelstochter,"
      (Haltrich, No. 26), and "Grünus Kravalle" (Wolf's
      "Deutsche Hausmärchen," No. 29)--the Norse
      "Mastermaid," (Asbjörnsen and Moe, No. 46, Dasent, No.
      11) and "The Three Princesses of Whiteland," (A. and
      M. No. 9, Dasent, No. 26)--the Lithuanian story
      (Schleicher, No. 26, p. 75) in which a "field-devil"
      exacts from a farmer the promise of a child--the
      Wallachian stories (Schott, Nos. 2 and 15) in which a
      devil obtains a like promise from a woodcutter and a
      fisherman--the Modern Greek (Hahn, Nos. 4, 5, 54, and
      68) in which a child is promised to a Dervish, a
      _Drakos_, the Devil, and a Demon--and the Gaelic tales
      of "The Battle of the Birds" and "The Sea-maiden,"
      (Campbell, Nos. 2 and 4) in the former of which the
      child is promised to a Giant, in the latter to a
      Mermaid. The likeness between the Russian story and
      the "Battle of the Birds" is very striking. References
      to a great many other similar tales will be found in
      Grimm (_KM._ iii. pp. 96-7, and 168-9). The group to
      which all these stories belong is linked with a set of
      tales about a father who apprentices his son to a
      wizard, sometimes to the Devil, from whom the youth
      escapes with great difficulty. The principal Russian
      representative of the second set is called "Eerie
      Art," "Khitraya Nauka," (Afanasief, v. No. 22, vi. No.
      45, viii. p. 339).

      To the hero's adventures while with the Water King,
      and while escaping from him, an important parallel is
      offered by the end of the already mentioned (at p. 92)
      Indian story of Sringabhuja. That prince asks
      Agnisikha, the Rákshasa whom, in his crane-form, he
      has wounded, to bestow upon him the hand of his
      daughter--the maiden who had met him on his arrival at
      the Rákshasa's palace. The demon pretends to consent,
      but only on condition that the prince is able to pick
      out his love from among her numerous sisters. This
      Sringabhuja is able to do in spite of all the demon's
      daughters being exactly alike, as she has told him
      beforehand she will wear her pearls on her brow
      instead of round her neck. Her father will not remark
      the change, she says, for being of the demon race, he
      is not very sharp witted. The Rákshasa next sets the
      prince two of the usual tasks. He is to plough a great
      field, and sow a hundred bushels of corn. When this,
      by the daughter's help, is done, he is told to gather
      up the seed again. This also the demon's daughter does
      for him, sending to his aid a countless swarm of ants.
      Lastly he is commanded to visit the demon's brother
      and invite him to the wedding. He does so, and is
      pursued by the invited guest, from whom he escapes
      only by throwing behind him earth, water, thorns, and
      lastly fire, with all of which he has been provided by
      his love. They produce corresponding obstacles which
      enable him to get away from the uncle of his bride.
      The demon now believes that his proposed son-in-law
      must be a god in disguise, so he gives his consent to
      the marriage. All goes well for a time, but at last
      the prince wants to go home, so he and his wife fly
      from her father's palace. Agnisikha pursues them. She
      makes her husband invisible, while she assumes the
      form of a woodman. Up comes her angry sire, and asks
      for news of the fugitives. She replies she has seen
      none, her eyes being full of tears caused by the death
      of the Rákshasa prince Agnisikha. The slow-witted
      demon immediately flies home to find out whether he is
      really dead. Discovering that he is not, he renews the
      pursuit. Again his daughter renders her husband
      invisible, and assumes the form of a messenger
      carrying a letter. When her father arrives and repeats
      his question, she says she has seen no one: she is
      going with a letter to his brother from Agnisikha, who
      has just been mortally wounded. Back again home flies
      the demon in great distress, anxious to find out
      whether he has really been wounded to death or not.
      After settling this question, he leaves his daughter
      and her husband in peace. See Professor Brockhaus in
      the "Berichte der phil. hist. Classe der K. Sächs.
      Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften," 1861, pp. 226-9, and
      Professor Wilson, "Essays, &c.," ii. p. 136-8. Cf. R.
      Köhler in "Orient und Occident," ii. pp. 107-14.]

In another story a king is out hunting and becomes thirsty. Seeing a
spring near at hand, he bends down and is just going to lap up its
water, when the Tsar-Medvéd, a King-Bear, seizes him by the beard. The
king is unable to free himself from his grasp, and is obliged to
promise as his ransom "that which he knows not of at home," which
turns out to be a couple of children--a boy and a girl--who have been
born during his absence. In vain does he attempt to save the twins
from their impending fate, by concealing them in a secret abode
constructed for that purpose underground. In the course of time the
King-Bear arrives to claim them, finds out their hiding-place, digs
them up, and carries them off on his back to a distant region where no
man lives. During his absence they attempt to escape being carried
through the air on the back of a friendly falcon, but the King-Bear
sees them, "strikes his head against the earth, and burns the falcon's
wings." The twins fall to the ground, and are carried by the King-Bear
to his home amid inaccessible mountains. There they make a second
attempt at escape, trusting this time to an eagle's aid; but it meets
with exactly the same fate as their first trial. At last they are
rescued by a bull-calf, which succeeds in baffling all the King-Bear's
efforts to recover them. At the end of their perilous journey the
bull-calf tells the young prince to cut its throat, and burn its
carcase. He unwillingly consents, and from its ashes spring a horse, a
dog, and an apple-tree, all of which play important parts in the next
act of the drama.[148]

In one of the variants of the Water King story,[149] the seizer of
the drinking kings' beard is not called the _Morskoi Tsar_ but _Chudo
Morskoe_, a Water Chudo, whose name recalls to mind the Chudo Yudo we
have already met with.[150] The Prince who is obliged, in consequence
of his father's promise, to surrender himself to the Water Giant,
falls in love with a maiden whom he finds in that potentate's palace,
and who is an enchantress whom the Chudo has stolen. She turns herself
into a ring, which he carries about with him, and eventually, after
his escape from the Chudo, she becomes his bride.

In another story,[151] the being who obtains a child from one of the
incautious fathers of the Jephthah type who abound in popular fiction,
is of a very singular nature. A merchant is flying across a river on
the back of an eagle, when he drops a magic "snuff-box," which had
been entrusted to his charge by that bird, and it disappears beneath
the waters. At the eagle's command, the crayfish search for it, and
bring back word that it is lying "on the knees of an Idol." The eagle
summons the Idol, and demands the snuff box. Thereupon the Idol says
to the merchant--"Give me what you do not know of at home?" The
merchant agrees and the Idol gives him back his snuff-box.

In some of the variants of the story, the influence of ideas
connected with Christianity makes itself apparent in the names given
to the actors. Thus in the "Moujik and Anastasia Adovna,"[152] it is
no longer a king of the waters, but a devil's imp,[153] who bargains
with the thirsting father for his child, and the swan-maiden whose
shift the devoted youth steals bears the name of Adovna, the daughter
of Ad or Hades. In "The Youth,"[154] a moujik, who has lost his way in
a forest makes the rash promise to a man who enables him to cross a
great river; "and that man (says the story) was a devil."[155] We
shall meet with other instances further on of parents whose "hasty
words" condemn their children to captivity among evil spirits. In one
of the stories of this class,[156] the father is a hunter who is
perishing with cold one night, and who makes the usual promise as the
condition of his being allowed to warm himself at a fire guarded by a
devil. Being in consequence of this deprived of a son, he becomes very
sad, and drinks himself to death. "The priest will not bury his sinful
body, so it is thrust into a hole at a crossway," and he falls into
the power of "that very same devil," who turns him into a horse, and
uses him as a beast of burden. At last he is released by his son, who
has forced the devil to free him after several adventures--one of them
being a fight with the evil spirit in the shape of a three-headed

In the Hindoo story of "Brave Seventee Bai,"[157] that heroine kills
"a very large Cobra" which comes out of a lake. Touching the waters
with a magic diamond taken from the snake, she sees them roll back "in
a wall on either hand," between which she passes into a splendid
garden. In it she finds a lovely girl who proves to be the Cobra's
daughter and who is delighted to hear of her serpent-father's death.

Demon haunted waters, which prove fatal to mortals who bathe in or
drink of them, often occur in oriental fiction. In one of the Indian
stories, for instance,[158] a king is induced to order his escort to
bathe in a lake which is the abode of a Rákshasa or demon. They leap
into the water simultaneously, and are all devoured by the terrible
man-eater. From the assaults of such a Rákshasa as this it was that
Buddha, who was at the time a monkey, preserved himself and 80,000 of
his brother monkeys, by suggesting that they should drink from the
tank in which the demon lay in wait for them, "through reeds
previously made completely hollow by their breath."[159]

       *       *       *       *       *

From these male personifications of evil--from the Snake, Koshchei,
and the Water King--we will now turn to their corresponding female
forms. By far the most important beings of the latter class are those
malevolent enchantresses who form two closely related branches of the
same family. Like their sisters all over the world, they are, as a
general rule, old, hideous, and hateful. They possess all kinds of
supernatural powers, but their wits are often dull. They wage constant
war with mankind, but the heroes of storyland find them as easily
overcome as the males of their family. In their general character they
bear a strong resemblance to the Giantesses, Lamias, female Trolls,
Ogresses, Dragonesses, &c., of Europe, but in some of their traits
they differ from those well-known beings, and therefore they are
worthy of a detailed notice.

In several of the stories which have already been quoted, a prominent
part is played by the Baba Yaga, a female fiend whose name has given
rise to much philological discussion of a somewhat unsatisfactory
nature.[160] Her appearance is that of a tall, gaunt hag, with
dishevelled hair. Sometimes she is seen lying stretched out from one
corner to the other of a miserable hut, through the ceiling of which
passes her long iron nose; the hut is supported "by fowl's legs," and
stands at the edge of a forest towards which its entrance looks. When
the proper words are addressed to it, the hut revolves upon its
slender supports, so as to turn its back instead of its front to the
forest. Sometimes, as in the next story, the Baba Yaga appears as the
mistress of a mansion, which stands in a courtyard enclosed by a fence
made of dead men's bones. When she goes abroad she rides in a mortar,
which she urges on with a pestle, while she sweeps away the traces of
her flight with a broom. She is closely connected with the Snake in
different forms; in many stories, indeed, the leading part has been
ascribed by one narrator to a Snake and by another to a Baba Yaga. She
possesses the usual magic apparatus by which enchantresses work their
wonders; the Day and the Night (according to the following story) are
among her servants, the entire animal world lies at her disposal. On
the whole she is the most prominent among the strange figures with
which the Skazkas make us acquainted. Of the stories which especially
relate to her the following may be taken as a fair specimen.


  Once upon a time there was an old couple. The husband lost
  his wife and married again. But he had a daughter by the first
  marriage, a young girl, and she found no favor in the eyes of
  her evil stepmother, who used to beat her, and consider how she
  could get her killed outright. One day the father went away
  somewhere or other, so the stepmother said to the girl, "Go to
  your aunt, my sister, and ask her for a needle and thread to make
  you a shift."

  Now that aunt was a Baba Yaga. Well, the girl was no fool,
  so she went to a real aunt of hers first, and says she:

  "Good morning, auntie!"

  "Good morning, my dear! what have you come for?"

  "Mother has sent me to her sister, to ask for a needle and
  thread to make me a shift."

  Then her aunt instructed her what to do. "There is a birch-tree
  there, niece, which would hit you in the eye--you must tie
  a ribbon round it; there are doors which would creak and bang--you
  must pour oil on their hinges; there are dogs which would
  tear you in pieces--you must throw them these rolls; there is a
  cat which would scratch your eyes out--you must give it a piece
  of bacon."

  So the girl went away, and walked and walked, till she came
  to the place. There stood a hut, and in it sat weaving the Baba
  Yaga, the Bony-shanks.

  "Good morning, auntie," says the girl.

  "Good morning, my dear," replies the Baba Yaga.

  "Mother has sent me to ask you for a needle and thread to
  make me a shift."

  "Very well; sit down and weave a little in the meantime."

  So the girl sat down behind the loom, and the Baba Yaga
  went outside, and said to her servant-maid:

  "Go and heat the bath, and get my niece washed; and mind
  you look sharp after her. I want to breakfast off her."

  Well, the girl sat there in such a fright that she was as much
  dead as alive. Presently she spoke imploringly to the servant-maid,

  "Kinswoman dear, do please wet the firewood instead of
  making it burn; and fetch the water for the bath in a sieve."
  And she made her a present of a handkerchief.

  The Baba Yaga waited awhile; then she came to the window
  and asked:

  "Are you weaving, niece? are you weaving, my dear?"

  "Oh yes, dear aunt, I'm weaving." So the Baba Yaga went
  away again, and the girl gave the Cat a piece of bacon, and

  "Is there no way of escaping from here?"

  "Here's a comb for you and a towel," said the Cat; "take
  them, and be off. The Baba Yaga will pursue you, but you must
  lay your ear on the ground, and when you hear that she is close
  at hand, first of all throw down the towel. It will become a wide,
  wide river. And if the Baba Yaga gets across the river, and
  tries to catch you, then you must lay your ear on the ground
  again, and when you hear that she is close at hand, throw down
  the comb. It will become a dense, dense forest; through that
  she won't be able to force her way anyhow."

  The girl took the towel and the comb and fled. The dogs
  would have rent her, but she threw them the rolls, and they let
  her go by; the doors would have begun to bang, but she poured
  oil on their hinges, and they let her pass through; the birch-tree
  would have poked her eyes out, but she tied the ribbon around
  it, and it let her pass on. And the Cat sat down to the loom,
  and worked away; muddled everything about, if it didn't do
  much weaving. Up came the Baba Yaga to the window, and

  "Are you weaving, niece? are you weaving, my dear?"

  "I'm weaving, dear aunt, I'm weaving," gruffly replied the

  The Baba Yaga rushed into the hut, saw that the girl was
  gone, and took to beating the Cat, and abusing it for not having
  scratched the girl's eyes out. "Long as I've served you," said
  the Cat, "you've never given me so much as a bone; but she
  gave me bacon." Then the Baba Yaga pounced upon the dogs,
  on the doors, on the birch-tree, and on the servant-maid, and set
  to work to abuse them all, and to knock them about. Then the
  dogs said to her, "Long as we've served you, you've never so
  much as pitched us a burnt crust; but she gave us rolls to eat."
  And the doors said, "Long as we've served you, you've never
  poured even a drop of water on our hinges; but she poured oil
  on us." The birch-tree said, "Long as I've served you, you've
  never tied a single thread round me; but she fastened a ribbon
  around me." And the servant-maid said, "Long as I've served
  you, you've never given me so much as a rag; but she gave me
  a handkerchief."

  The Baba Yaga, bony of limb, quickly jumped into her
  mortar, sent it flying along with the pestle, sweeping away the
  while all traces of its flight with a broom, and set off in pursuit
  of the girl. Then the girl put her ear to the ground, and when
  she heard that the Baba Yaga was chasing her, and was now
  close at hand, she flung down the towel. And it became a wide,
  such a wide river! Up came the Baba Yaga to the river, and
  gnashed her teeth with spite; then she went home for her oxen,
  and drove them to the river. The oxen drank up every drop of
  the river, and then the Baba Yaga began the pursuit anew.
  But the girl put her ear to the ground again, and when she heard
  that the Baba Yaga was near, she flung down the comb, and
  instantly a forest sprang up, such an awfully thick one! The
  Baba Yaga began gnawing away at it, but however hard she
  worked, she couldn't gnaw her way through it, so she had to go
  back again.

  But by this time the girl's father had returned home, and he

  "Where's my daughter?"

  "She's gone to her aunt's," replied her stepmother.

  Soon afterwards the girl herself came running home.

  "Where have you been?" asked her father.

  "Ah, father!" she said, "mother sent me to aunt's to ask
  for a needle and thread to make me a shift. But aunt's a Baba
  Yaga, and she wanted to eat me!"

  "And how did you get away, daughter?"

  "Why like this," said the girl, and explained the whole
  matter. As soon as her father had heard all about it, he became
  wroth with his wife, and shot her. But he and his daughter
  lived on and flourished, and everything went well with them.

In one of the numerous variants of this story[162] the heroine is sent
by her husband's mother to the Baba Yaga's, and the advice which saves
her comes from her husband. The Baba Yaga goes into another room "in
order to sharpen her teeth," and while she is engaged in that
operation the girl escapes, having previously--by the advice of the
Cat, to which she had given a lump of butter--spat under the
threshold. The spittle answers for her in her absence, behaving as do,
in other folk-tales, drops of blood, or rags dipped in blood, or
apples, or eggs, or beans, or stone images, or wooden puppets.[163]

The magic comb and towel, by the aid of which the girl effects her
escape, constantly figure in Skazkas of this class, and always produce
the required effect. A brush, also, is frequently introduced, from
each bristle of which springs up a wood. In one story, however, the
brush gives rise to mountains, and a _golik_, or bath-room whisk,
turns into a forest. The towel is used, also, for the purpose of
constructing or annihilating a bridge. Similar instruments are found
in the folk-tales of every land, whether they appear as the brush,
comb, and mirror of the German water-sprite;[164] or the rod, stone,
and pitcher of water of the Norse Troll;[165] or the knife, comb, and
handful of salt which, in the Modern Greek story, save Asterinos and
Pulja from their fiendish mother;[166] or the twig, the stone, and the
bladder of water, found in the ear of the filly, which saves her
master from the Gaelic giant;[167] or the brush, comb, and egg, the
last of which produces a frozen lake with "mirror-smooth" surface,
whereon the pursuing Old Prussian witch slips and breaks her
neck;[168] or the wand which causes a river to flow and a mountain to
rise between the youth who waves it and the "wicked old Rákshasa" who
chases him in the Deccan story;[169] or the handful of earth, cup of
water, and dry sticks and match, which impede and finally destroy the
Rákshasa in the almost identical episode of Somadeva's tale of "The
Prince of Varddhamána."[170]

In each instance they appear to typify the influence which the
supernatural beings to whom they belonged were supposed to exercise
over the elements. It has been thought strange that such stress should
be laid on the employment of certain toilet-articles, to the use of
which the heroes of folk-tales do not appear to have been greatly
addicted. But it is evident that like produces like in the
transformation in question. In the oldest form of the story, the
Sanskrit, a handful of earth turns into a mountain, a cup of water
into a river. Now, metaphorically speaking, a brush may be taken as a
miniature wood; the common use of the term brushwood is a proof of the
general acceptance of the metaphor. A comb does not at first sight
appear to resemble a mountain, but its indented outline may have
struck the fancy of many primitive peoples as being a likeness to a
serrated mountain range. Thence comes it that in German _Kamm_ means
not only a comb but also (like the Spanish _Sierra_) a mountain ridge
or crest.[171]

In one of the numerous stories[172] about the Baba Yaga, four heroes
are wandering about the world together; when they come to a dense
forest in which a small izba, or hut, is twirling round on "a fowl's
leg." Ivan, the youngest of the party, utters the magical formula
"Izbushka, Izbushka! stand with back to the forest and front towards
us," and "the hut faces towards them, its doors and windows open of
their own accord." The heroes enter and find it empty. One of the
party then remains indoors, while the rest go out to the chase. The
hero who is left alone prepares a meal, and then, "after washing his
head, sits down by the window to comb his hair." Suddenly a stone is
lifted, and from under it appears a Baba Yaga, driving in her mortar,
with a dog yelping at her heels. She enters the hut and, after some
short parley, seizes her pestle, and begins beating the hero with it
until he falls prostrate. Then she cuts a strip out of his back, eats
up the whole of the viands he has prepared for his companions, and
disappears. After a time the beaten hero recovers his senses, "ties up
his head with a handkerchief," and sits groaning until his comrades
return. Then he makes some excuse for not having got any supper ready
for them, but says nothing about what has really happened to him.

On the next day the second hero is treated in the same manner by the
Baba Yaga, and on the day after that the third undergoes a similar
humiliation. But on the fourth day it falls to the lot of the young
Ivan to stay in the hut alone. The Baba Yaga appears as usual, and
begins thumping him with her pestle; but he snatches it from her,
beats her almost to death with it, cuts three strips out of her back,
and then locks her up in a closet. When his comrades return, they are
surprised to find him unhurt, and a meal prepared for them, but they
ask no questions. After supper they all take a bath, and then Ivan
remarks that each of his companions has had a strip cut out of his
back. This leads to a full confession, on hearing which Ivan "runs to
the closet, takes those strips out of the Baba Yaga, and applies them
to their backs," which immediately become cured. He then hangs up the
Baba Yaga by a cord tied to one foot, at which cord all the party
shoot. At length it is severed, and she drops. As soon as she touches
the ground, she runs to the stone from under which she had appeared,
lifts it, and disappears.[173]

The rest of the story is very similar to that of "Norka," which has
already been given, only instead of the beast of that name we have the
Baba Yaga, whom Ivan finds asleep, with a magic sword at her head.
Following the advice of her daughters, three fair maidens whom he
meets in her palace, Ivan does not attempt to touch the magic sword
while she sleeps. But he awakes her gently, and offers her two golden
apples on a silver dish. She lifts her head and opens her mouth,
whereupon he seizes the sword and cuts her head off. As is usual in
the stories of this class, his comrades, after hoisting the maidens
aloft, cut the cord and let him fall back into the abyss. But he
escapes, and eventually "he slays all the three heroes, and flings
their bodies on the plain for wild beasts to devour." This Skazka is
one of the many versions of a widespread tale, which tells how the
youngest of a party, usually consisting of three persons, overcomes
some supernatural foe, generally a dwarf, who had been more than a
match for his companions. The most important of these versions is the
Lithuanian story of the carpenter who overcomes a Laume--a being in
many respects akin to the Baba Yaga--who has proved too strong for his
comrades, Perkun and the Devil.[174]

The practice of cutting strips from an enemy's back is frequently
referred to in the Skazkas--much more frequently than in the German
and Norse stories. It is not often that such strips are turned to good
account, but in the Skazka with which we have just been dealing, Ivan
finding the rope by which he is being lowered into the abyss too
short, ties to the end of it the three strips he has cut from the Baba
Yaga's back, and so makes it sufficiently long. They are often exacted
as the penalty of losing a wager, as well in the Skazkas as
elsewhere.[175] In a West-Slavonian story about a wager of this kind,
the winner cuts off the loser's nose.[176] In the Gaelic stories it is
not an uncommon incident for a man to have "a strip of skin cut off
him from his crown to his sole."[177]

The Baba Yaga generally kills people in order to eat them. Her house
is fenced about with the bones of the men whose flesh she has
devoured; in one story she offers a human arm, by way of a meal, to a
girl who visits her. But she is also represented in one of the
stories[178] as petrifying her victims. This trait connects her with
Medusa, and the three sister Baba Yagas with the three Gorgones. The
Russian Gorgo's method of petrifaction is singular. In the story
referred to, Ivan Dévich (Ivan the servant-maid's son) meets a Baba
Yaga, who plucks one of her hairs, gives it to him, and says, "Tie
three knots and then blow." He does so, and both he and his horse turn
into stone. The Baba Yaga places them in her mortar, pounds them to
bits, and buries their remains under a stone. A little later comes
Ivan Dévich's comrade, Prince Ivan. Him also the Yaga attempts to
destroy, but he feigns ignorance, and persuades her to show him how to
tie knots and to blow. The result is that she becomes petrified
herself. Prince Ivan puts her in her own mortar, and proceeds to pound
her therein, until she tells him where the fragments of his comrade
are, and what he must do to restore them to life.

The Baba Yaga usually lives by herself, but sometimes she appears in
the character of the house-mother. One of the Skazkas[179] relates how
a certain old couple, who had no children, were advised to get a
number of eggs from the village--one from each house--and to place
them under a sitting hen. From the forty-one eggs thus obtained and
treated are born as many boys, all but one of whom develop into strong
men, but the forty-first long remains a poor weak creature, a kind of
"Hop-o'-my-thumb." They all set forth to seek brides, and eventually
marry the forty-one daughters of a Baba Yaga. On the wedding night she
intends to kill her sons-in-law; but they, acting on the advice of him
who had been the weakling of their party, but who has become a mighty
hero, exchange clothes with their brides before "lying down to sleep."
Accordingly the Baba Yaga's "trusty servants" cut off the heads of her
daughters instead of those of her sons-in-law. Those youths arise,
stick the heads of their brides on iron spikes all round the house,
and gallop away. When the Baba Yaga awakes in the morning, looks out
of the window, and sees her daughters' heads on their spikes, she
flies into a passion, calls for "her burning shield," sets off in
pursuit of her sons-in-law, and "begins burning up everything on all
four sides with her shield." A magic, bridge-creating kerchief,
however, enables the fugitives to escape from their irritated

In one story[180] the heroine is ordered to swing the cradle in which
reposes a Baba Yaga's infant son, whom she is ordered to address in
terms of respect when she sings him lullabies; in others she is told
to wash a Baba Yaga's many children, whose appearance is usually
unprepossessing. One girl, for instance, is ordered by a Baba Yaga to
heat the bath, but the fuel given her for the purpose turns out to be
dead men's bones. Having got over this difficulty, thanks to the
advice of a sparrow which tells her where to look for wood, she is
sent to fetch water in a sieve. Again the sparrow comes to her rescue
telling her to line the sieve with clay. Then she is told to wait upon
the Baba Yaga's children in the bath-room. She enters it, and
presently in come "worms, frogs, rats, and all sorts of insects."
These, which are the Baba Yaga's children, she soaps over and
otherwise treats in the approved Russian-bath style, and afterwards
she does as much for their mother. The Baba Yaga is highly pleased,
calls for a "samovar" (or urn), and invites her young bath-woman to
drink tea with her. And finally she sends her home with a blue coffer,
which turns out to be full of money. This present excites the cupidity
of her stepmother, who sends her own daughter to the Baba Yaga's,
hoping that she will bring back a similar treasure. The Baba Yaga
gives the same orders as before to the new-comer, but that conceited
young person fails to carry them out. She cannot make the bones burn,
nor the sieve hold water, but when the sparrow offers its advice she
only boxes its ears. And when the "rats, frogs, and all manner of
vermin," enter the bath-room, "she crushed half of them to death,"
says the story; "the rest ran home, and complained about her to their
mother." And so the Baba Yaga, when she dismisses her, gives her a red
coffer instead of a blue one. Out of it, when it is opened, issues
fire, which consumes both her and her mother.[181]

Similar to this story in many of its features as well as in its
catastrophe is one of the most spirited and dramatic of all the
Skazkas, that of--


  In a certain kingdom there lived a merchant. Twelve years
  did he live as a married man, but he had only one child, Vasilissa
  the Fair. When her mother died, the girl was eight years
  old. And on her deathbed the merchant's wife called her little
  daughter to her, took out from under the bed-clothes a doll,
  gave it to her, and said, "Listen, Vasilissa, dear; remember
  and obey these last words of mine. I am going to die. And
  now, together with my parental blessing, I bequeath to you this
  doll. Keep it always by you, and never show it to anybody; and
  whenever any misfortune comes upon you, give the doll food,
  and ask its advice. When it has fed, it will tell you a cure for
  your troubles." Then the mother kissed her child and died.

  After his wife's death, the merchant mourned for her a befitting
  time, and then began to consider about marrying again. He
  was a man of means. It wasn't a question with him of girls (with
  dowries); more than all others, a certain widow took his fancy.
  She was middle-aged, and had a couple of daughters of her own
  just about the same age as Vasilissa. She must needs be both
  a good housekeeper and an experienced mother.

  Well, the merchant married the widow, but he had deceived
  himself, for he did not find in her a kind mother for his
  Vasilissa. Vasilissa was the prettiest girl[183] in all the
  village; but her stepmother and stepsisters were jealous of her
  beauty, and tormented her with every possible sort of toil, in
  order that she might grow thin from over-work, and be tanned by
  the sun and the wind. Her life was made a burden to her! Vasilissa
  bore everything with resignation, and every day grew plumper and
  prettier, while the stepmother and her daughters lost flesh and
  fell off in appearance from the effects of their own spite,
  notwithstanding that they always sat with folded hands like fine

  But how did that come about? Why, it was her doll that
  helped Vasilissa. If it hadn't been for it, however could the
  girl have got through all her work? And therefore it was that
  Vasilissa would never eat all her share of a meal, but always
  kept the most delicate morsel for her doll; and at night, when
  all were at rest, she would shut herself up in the narrow chamber[184]
  in which she slept, and feast her doll, saying[185] the while:

  "There, dolly, feed; help me in my need! I live in my
  father's house, but never know what pleasure is; my evil stepmother
  tries to drive me out of the white world; teach me how
  to keep alive, and what I ought to do."

  Then the doll would eat, and afterwards give her advice, and
  comfort her in her sorrow, and next day it would do all Vasilissa's
  work for her. She had only to take her ease in a shady place
  and pluck flowers, and yet all her work was done in good time;
  the beds were weeded, and the pails were filled, and the cabbages
  were watered, and the stove was heated. Moreover, the
  doll showed Vasilissa herbs which prevented her from getting
  sunburnt. Happily did she and her doll live together.

  Several years went by. Vasilissa grew up and became old
  enough to be married.[186] All the marriageable young men in the
  town sent to make an offer to Vasilissa; at her stepmother's
  daughters not a soul would so much as look. Her stepmother
  grew even more savage than before, and replied to every

  "We won't let the younger marry before her elders."

  And after the suitors had been packed off, she used to beat
  Vasilissa by way of wreaking her spite.

  Well, it happened one day that the merchant had to go
  away from home on business for a long time. Thereupon the
  stepmother went to live in another house; and near that house
  was a dense forest, and in a clearing in that forest there stood
  a hut,[187] and in the hut there lived a Baba Yaga. She never let
  any one come near her dwelling, and she ate up people like so
  many chickens.

  Having moved into the new abode, the merchant's wife kept
  sending her hated Vasilissa into the forest on one pretence or
  another. But the girl always got home safe and sound; the
  doll used to show her the way, and never let her go near the
  Baba Yaga's dwelling.

  The autumn season arrived. One evening the stepmother
  gave out their work to the three girls; one she set to lace-making,
  another to knitting socks, and the third, Vasilissa, to weaving;
  and each of them had her allotted amount to do. By-and-by
  she put out the lights in the house, leaving only one candle
  alight where the girls were working, and then she went to bed.
  The girls worked and worked. Presently the candle wanted
  snuffing; one of the stepdaughters took the snuffers, as if she
  were going to clear the wick, but instead of doing so, in obedience
  to her mother's orders, she snuffed the candle out, pretending
  to do so by accident.

  "What shall we do now?" said the girls. "There isn't a
  spark of fire in the house, and our tasks are not yet done. We
  must go to the Baba Yaga's for a light!"

  "My pins give me light enough," said the one who was making
  lace. "I shan't go."

  "And I shan't go, either," said the one who was knitting
  socks. "My knitting-needles give me light enough."

  "Vasilissa, you must go for the light," they both cried out
  together; "be off to the Baba Yaga's!"

  And they pushed Vasilissa out of the room.

  Vasilissa went into her little closet, set before the doll a supper
  which she had provided beforehand, and said:

  "Now, dolly, feed, and listen to my need! I'm sent to the
  Baba Yaga's for a light. The Baba Yaga will eat me!"

  The doll fed, and its eyes began to glow just like a couple of

  "Never fear, Vasilissa dear!" it said. "Go where you're
  sent. Only take care to keep me always by you. As long as I'm
  with you, no harm will come to you at the Baba Yaga's."

  So Vasilissa got ready, put her doll in her pocket, crossed
  herself, and went out into the thick forest.

  As she walks she trembles. Suddenly a horseman gallops
  by. He is white, and he is dressed in white, under him is a white
  horse, and the trappings of the horse are white--and the day
  begins to break.

  She goes a little further, and a second rider gallops by. He
  is red, dressed in red, and sitting on a red horse--and the sun

  Vasilissa went on walking all night and all next day. It was
  only towards the evening that she reached the clearing on which
  stood the dwelling of the Baba Yaga. The fence around it was
  made of dead men's bones; on the top of the fence were stuck
  human skulls with eyes in them; instead of uprights at the gates
  were men's legs; instead of bolts were arms; instead of a lock
  was a mouth with sharp teeth.

  Vasilissa was frightened out of her wits, and stood still as if
  rooted to the ground.

  Suddenly there rode past another horseman. He was black,
  dressed all in black, and on a black horse. He galloped up to
  the Baba Yaga's gate and disappeared, just as if he had sunk
  through the ground--and night fell. But the darkness did not
  last long. The eyes of all the skulls on the fence began to shine
  and the whole clearing became as bright as if it had been midday.
  Vasilissa shuddered with fear, but stopped where she was,
  not knowing which way to run.

  Soon there was heard in the forest a terrible roar. The trees
  cracked, the dry leaves rustled; out of the forest came the Baba
  Yaga, riding in a mortar, urging it on with a pestle, sweeping
  away her traces with a broom. Up she drove to the gate, stopped
  short, and, snuffing the air around her, cried:--

  "Faugh! Faugh! I smell Russian flesh![188] Who's there?"

  Vasilissa went up to the hag in a terrible fright, bowed low
  before her, and said:--

  "It's me, granny. My stepsisters have sent me to you for a

  "Very good," said the Baba Yaga; "I know them. If you'll
  stop awhile with me first, and do some work for me, I'll give you
  a light. But if you won't, I'll eat you!"

  Then she turned to the gates, and cried:--

  "Ho, thou firm fence of mine, be thou divided! And ye, wide
  gates of mine, do ye fly open!"

  The gates opened, and the Baba Yaga drove in, whistling as
  she went, and after her followed Vasilissa; and then everything
  shut to again. When they entered the sitting-room, the Baba
  Yaga stretched herself out at full length, and said to Vasilissa:

  "Fetch out what there is in the oven; I'm hungry."

  Vasilissa lighted a splinter[189] at one of the skulls which were
  on the fence, and began fetching meat from the oven and setting
  it before the Baba Yaga; and meat enough had been provided
  for a dozen people. Then she fetched from the cellar kvass,
  mead, beer, and wine. The hag ate up everything, drank up
  everything. All she left for Vasilissa was a few scraps--a crust
  of bread and a morsel of sucking-pig. Then the Baba Yaga lay
  down to sleep, saying:--

  "When I go out to-morrow morning, mind you cleanse the
  courtyard, sweep the room, cook the dinner, and get the linen
  ready. Then go to the corn-bin, take out four quarters of wheat,
  and clear it of other seed.[190] And mind you have it all done--if
  you don't, I shall eat you!"

  After giving these orders the Baba Yaga began to snore. But
  Vasilissa set the remnants of the hag's supper before her doll,
  burst into tears, and said:--

  "Now, dolly, feed, listen to my need! The Baba Yaga has
  set me a heavy task, and threatens to eat me if I don't do it all.
  Do help me!"

  The doll replied:

  "Never fear, Vasilissa the Fair! Sup, say your prayers, and
  go to bed. The morning is wiser than the evening!"

  Vasilissa awoke very early, but the Baba Yaga was already up.
  She looked out of the window. The light in the skull's eyes was
  going out. All of a sudden there appeared the white horseman,
  and all was light. The Baba Yaga went out into the courtyard and
  whistled--before her appeared a mortar with a pestle and a broom.
  The red horseman appeared--the sun rose. The Baba Yaga
  seated herself in the mortar, and drove out of the courtyard,
  shooting herself along with the pestle, sweeping away her traces
  with the broom.

  Vasilissa was left alone, so she examined the Baba Yaga's
  house, wondered at the abundance there was in everything, and
  remained lost in thought as to which work she ought to take to
  first. She looked up; all her work was done already. The doll
  had cleared the wheat to the very last grain.

  "Ah, my preserver!" cried Vasilissa, "you've saved me
  from danger!"

  "All you've got to do now is to cook the dinner," answered
  the doll, slipping into Vasilissa's pocket. "Cook away, in God's
  name, and then take some rest for your health's sake!"

  Towards evening Vasilissa got the table ready, and awaited
  the Baba Yaga. It began to grow dusky; the black rider appeared
  for a moment at the gate, and all grew dark. Only the
  eyes of the skulls sent forth their light. The trees began to
  crack, the leaves began to rustle, up drove the Baba Yaga.
  Vasilissa went out to meet her.

  "Is everything done?" asks the Yaga.

  "Please to look for yourself, granny!" says Vasilissa.

  The Baba Yaga examined everything, was vexed that there
  was nothing to be angry about, and said:

  "Well, well! very good!"

  Afterwards she cried:

  "My trusty servants, zealous friends, grind this my wheat!"

  There appeared three pairs of hands, which gathered up the
  wheat, and carried it out of sight. The Baba Yaga supped, went
  to bed, and again gave her orders to Vasilissa:

  "Do just the same to-morrow as to-day; only besides that take
  out of the bin the poppy seed that is there, and clean the earth
  off it grain by grain. Some one or other, you see, has mixed a
  lot of earth with it out of spite." Having said this, the hag turned
  to the wall and began to snore, and Vasilissa took to feeding her
  doll. The doll fed, and then said to her what it had said the
  day before:

  "Pray to God, and go to sleep. The morning is wiser than the
  evening. All shall be done, Vasilissa dear!"

  The next morning the Baba Yaga again drove out of the courtyard
  in her mortar, and Vasilissa and her doll immediately did
  all the work. The hag returned, looked at everything, and cried,
  "My trusty servants, zealous friends, press forth oil from the
  poppy seed!"

  Three pairs of hands appeared, gathered up the poppy seed,
  and bore it out of sight. The Baba Yaga sat down to dinner.
  She ate, but Vasilissa stood silently by.

  "Why don't you speak to me?" said the Baba Yaga; "there
  you stand like a dumb creature!"

  "I didn't dare," answered Vasilissa; "but if you give me
  leave, I should like to ask you about something."

  "Ask away; only it isn't every question that brings good.
  'Get much to know, and old soon you'll grow.'"

  "I only want to ask you, granny, about something I saw. As
  I was coming here, I was passed by one riding on a white horse;
  he was white himself, and dressed in white. Who was he?"

  "That was my bright Day!" answered the Baba Yaga.

  "Afterwards there passed me another rider, on a red horse;
  red himself, and all in red clothes. Who was he?"

  "That was my red Sun!"[191] answered the Baba Yaga.

  "And who may be the black rider, granny, who passed by
  me just at your gate?"

  "That was my dark Night; they are all trusty servants of

  Vasilissa thought of the three pairs of hands, but held her

  "Why don't you go on asking?" said the Baba Yaga.

  "That's enough for me, granny. You said yourself, 'Get
  too much to know, old you'll grow!'"

  "It's just as well," said the Baba Yaga, "that you've only
  asked about what you saw out of doors, not indoors! In my house
  I hate having dirt carried out of doors;[192] and as to over-inquisitive
  people--well, I eat them. Now I'll ask you something.
  How is it you manage to do the work I set you to do?"

  "My mother's blessing assists me," replied Vasilissa.

  "Eh! eh! what's that? Get along out of my house, you
  bless'd daughter. I don't want bless'd people."

  She dragged Vasilissa out of the room, pushed her outside
  the gates, took one of the skulls with blazing eyes from the
  fence, stuck it on a stick, gave it to her and said:

  "Lay hold of that. It's a light you can take to your stepsisters.
  That's what they sent you here for, I believe."

  Home went Vasilissa at a run, lit by the skull, which went out
  only at the approach of the dawn; and at last, on the evening
  of the second day, she reached home. When she came to the
  gate, she was going to throw away the skull.

  "Surely," thinks she, "they can't be still in want of a light
  at home." But suddenly a hollow voice issued from the skull,

  "Throw me not away. Carry me to your stepmother!"

  She looked at her stepmother's house, and not seeing a light
  in a single window, she determined to take the skull in there
  with her. For the first time in her life she was cordially received
  by her stepmother and stepsisters, who told her that from the
  moment she went away they hadn't had a spark of fire in the
  house. They couldn't strike a light themselves anyhow, and
  whenever they brought one in from a neighbor's, it went out as
  soon as it came into the room.

  "Perhaps your light will keep in!" said the stepmother. So
  they carried the skull into the sitting-room. But the eyes of the
  skull so glared at the stepmother and her daughters--shot forth
  such flames! They would fain have hidden themselves, but run
  where they would, everywhere did the eyes follow after them.
  By the morning they were utterly burnt to cinders. Only Vasilissa
  was none the worse.[193]

      [Next morning Vasilissa "buried the skull," locked up
      the house and took up her quarters in a neighboring
      town. After a time she began to work. Her doll made
      her a glorious loom, and by the end of the winter she
      had weaved a quantity of linen so fine that it might
      be passed like thread through the eye of a needle. In
      the spring, after it had been bleached, Vasilissa made
      a present of it to the old woman with whom she lodged.
      The crone presented it to the king, who ordered it to
      be made into shirts. But no seamstress could be found
      to make them up, until the linen was entrusted to
      Vasilissa. When a dozen shirts were ready, Vasilissa
      sent them to the king, and as soon as her carrier had
      started, "she washed herself, and combed her hair, and
      dressed herself, and sat down at the window." Before
      long there arrived a messenger demanding her instant
      appearance at court. And "when she appeared before the
      royal eyes," the king fell desperately in love with

      "No; my beauty!" said he, "never will I part with
      thee; thou shalt be my wife." So he married her; and
      by-and-by her father returned, and took up his abode
      with her. "And Vasilissa took the old woman into her
      service, and as for the doll--to the end of her life
      she always carried it in her pocket."]

The puppet which plays so important a part in this story is worthy of
a special examination. It is called in the original a _Kùkla_ (dim.
_Kùkolka_), a word designating any sort of puppet or other figure
representing either man or beast. In a Little-Russian variant[194] of
one of those numerous stories, current in all lands, which commence
with the escape of the heroine from an incestuous union, a priest
insists on marrying his daughter. She goes to her mother's grave and
weeps there. Her dead mother "comes out from her grave," and tells her
what to do. The girl obtains from her father a rough dress of pig's
skin, and two sets of gorgeous apparel; the former she herself
assumes, in the latter she dresses up three _Kuklui_, which in this
instance were probably mere blocks of wood. Then she takes her place
in the midst of the dressed-up forms, which cry, one after the other,
"Open, O moist earth, that the fair maiden may enter within thee!" The
earth opens, and all four sink into it.

This introduction is almost identical with that prefixed to the German
story of "Allerleirauh,"[195] except in so far as the puppets are

Sometimes it is a brother, instead of a father, from whom the heroine
is forced to flee. Thus in the story of _Kniaz Danila Govorila_,[196]
Prince Daniel the Talker is bent upon marrying his sister, pleading
the excuse so often given in stories on this theme, namely, that she
is the only maiden whose finger will fit the magic ring which is to
indicate to him his destined wife. While she is weeping "like a
river," some old women of the mendicant-pilgrim class come to her
rescue, telling her to make four _Kukolki_, or small puppets, and to
place one of them in each corner of her room. She does as they tell
her. The wedding day arrives, the marriage service is performed in the
church, and then the bride hastens back to the room. When she is
called for--says the story--the puppets in the four corners begin to

"Kuku! Prince Danila!

"Kuku! Govorila.

"Kuku! He wants to marry,

"Kuku! His own sister.

"Kuku! Split open, O Earth!

"Kuku! Sister, disappear!"

The earth opens, and the girl slowly sinks into it. Twice again the
puppets sing their song, and at the end of its third performance, the
earth closes over the head of the rescued bride. Presently in rushes
the irritated bridegroom. "No bride is to be seen; only in the corners
sit the puppets singing away to themselves." He flies into a passion,
seizes a hatchet, chops off their heads, and flings them into the

In another version of the same story[199] a son is ordered by his
parents to marry his sister after their death. They die, and he tells
her to get ready to be married. But she has prepared three puppets,
and when she goes into her room to dress for the wedding, she says to

"O Kukolki, (cry) Kuku!"

The first asks, "Why?"

The second replies, "Because the brother his sister takes."

The third says, "Split open, O Earth! disappear, O sister!"

All this is said three times, and then the earth opens, and the girl
sinks "into that world."

In two other Russian versions of the same story, the sister escapes by
natural means. In the first[200] she runs away and hides in the hollow
of an oak. In the second[201] she persuades a fisherman to convey her
across a sea or lake. In a Polish version[202] the sister obtains a
magic car, which sinks underground with her, while the spot on which
she has spat replies to every summons which is addressed to her.[203]

Before taking leave of the Baba Yaga, we may glance at a malevolent
monster, who seems to be her male counterpart. He appears, however, to
be known in South Russia only. Here is an outline of the contents of
the solitary story in which he is mentioned. There were two old folks
with whom lived two orphan grandchildren, charming little girls. One
day the youngest child was sent to drive the sparrows away from her
grandfather's pease. While she was thus engaged the forest began to
roar, and out from it came Verlioka, "of vast stature, one-eyed,
crook-nosed, bristly-headed, with tangled beard and moustaches half an
ell long, and with a wooden boot on his one foot, supporting himself
on a crutch, and giving vent to a terrible laughter." And Verlioka
caught sight of the little girl and immediately killed her with his
crutch. And afterwards he killed her sister also, and then the old
grandmother. The grandfather, however, managed to escape with his
life, and afterwards, with the help of a drake and other aiders, he
wreaked his vengeance on the murderous Verlioka.[204]

We will now turn to another female embodiment of evil, frequently
mentioned in the Skazkas--the Witch.[205] She so closely resembles the
Baba Yaga both in disposition and in behavior, that most of the
remarks which have been made about that wild being apply to her also.
In many cases, indeed, we find that one version of a story will allot
to a Baba Yaga the part which in another version is played by a Witch.
The name which she bears--that of _Vyed'ma_--is a misnomer; it
properly belongs either to the "wise woman," or prophetess, of old
times, or to her modern representative, the woman to whom Russian
superstition attributes the faculties and functions ascribed in olden
days by most of our jurisprudents, in more recent times by a few of
our rustics, to our own witch. The supernatural being who, in
folk-tales, sways the elements and preys upon mankind, is most
inadequately designated by such names as _Vyed'ma_, _Hexe_, or
_Witch_, suggestive as those now homely terms are of merely human,
though diabolically intensified malevolence. Far more in keeping with
the vastness of her powers, and the vagueness of her outline, are the
titles of Baba Yaga, Lamia, Striga, Troll-Wife, Ogress, or Dragoness,
under which she figures in various lands. And therefore it is in her
capacity of Baba Yaga, rather than in that of _Vyed'ma_, that we
desire to study the behavior of the Russian equivalent for the
terrible female form which figures in the Anglo-Saxon poem as the
Mother of Grendel.

From among the numerous stories relating to the _Vyed'ma_ we may
select the following, which bears her name.

  THE WITCH.[206]

  There once lived an old couple who had one son called
  Ivashko;[207] no one can tell how fond they were of him!

  Well, one day, Ivashko said to his father and mother:

  "I'll go out fishing if you'll let me."

  "What are you thinking about! you're still very small; suppose
  you get drowned, what good will there be in that?"

  "No, no, I shan't get drowned. I'll catch you some fish;
  do let me go!"

  So his mother put a white shirt on him, tied a red girdle round
  him, and let him go. Out in a boat he sat and said:

    Canoe, canoe, float a little farther,
    Canoe, canoe, float a little farther!

  Then the canoe floated on farther and farther, and Ivashko began to
  fish. When some little time had passed by, the old woman hobbled down
  to the river side and called to her son:

    Ivashechko, Ivashechko, my boy,
    Float up, float up, unto the waterside;
    I bring thee food and drink.

  And Ivashko said:

    Canoe, canoe, float to the waterside;
    That is my mother calling me.

  The boat floated to the shore: the woman took the fish, gave her boy
  food and drink, changed his shirt for him and his girdle, and sent him
  back to his fishing. Again he sat in his boat and said:

    Canoe, canoe, float a little farther,
    Canoe, canoe, float a little farther.

  Then the canoe floated on farther and farther, and Ivashko began to
  fish. After a little time had passed by, the old man also hobbled down
  to the bank and called to his son:

    Ivashechko, Ivashechko, my boy,
    Float up, float up, unto the waterside;
    I bring thee food and drink.

  And Ivashko replied:

    Canoe, canoe, float to the waterside;
    That is my father calling me.

  The canoe floated to the shore. The old man took the fish, gave his
  boy food and drink, changed his shirt for him and his girdle, and sent
  him back to his fishing.

  Now a certain witch[208] had heard what Ivashko's parents had cried
  aloud to him, and she longed to get hold of the boy. So she went down
  to the bank and cried with a hoarse voice:

    Ivashechko, Ivashechko, my boy,
    Float up, float up, unto the waterside;
    I bring thee food and drink.

  Ivashko perceived that the voice was not his mother's, but was that of
  a witch, and he sang:

    Canoe, canoe, float a little farther,
    Canoe, canoe, float a little farther;
    That is not my mother, but a witch who calls me.

  The witch saw that she must call Ivashko with just such a voice as
  his mother had.

  So she hastened to a smith and said to him:

  "Smith, smith! make me just such a thin little voice as Ivashko's
  mother has: if you don't, I'll eat you." So the smith forged her a
  little voice just like Ivashko's mother's. Then the witch went down by
  night to the shore and sang:

    Ivashechko, Ivashechko, my boy,
    Float up, float up, unto the waterside;
    I bring thee food and drink.

  Ivashko came, and she took the fish, and seized the boy and carried
  him home with her. When she arrived she said to her daughter
  Alenka,[209] "Heat the stove as hot as you can, and bake Ivashko well,
  while I go and collect my friends for the feast." So Alenka heated the
  stove hot, ever so hot, and said to Ivashko,

  "Come here and sit on this shovel!"

  "I'm still very young and foolish," answered Ivashko: "I haven't yet
  quite got my wits about me. Please teach me how one ought to sit on a

  "Very good," said Alenka; "it won't take long to teach you."

  But the moment she sat down on the shovel, Ivashko instantly pitched
  her into the oven, slammed to the iron plate in front of it, ran out
  of the hut, shut the door, and hurriedly climbed up ever so high an
  oak-tree [which stood close by].

  Presently the witch arrived with her guests and knocked at the door of
  the hut. But nobody opened it for her.

  "Ah! that cursed Alenka!" she cried. "No doubt she's gone off
  somewhere to amuse herself." Then she slipped in through the window,
  opened the door, and let in her guests. They all sat down to table,
  and the witch opened the oven, took out Alenka's baked body, and
  served it up. They all ate their fill and drank their fill, and then
  they went out into the courtyard and began rolling about on the grass.

  "I turn about, I roll about, having fed on Ivashko's flesh," cried
  the witch. "I turn about, I roll about, having fed on Ivashko's

  But Ivashko called out to her from the top of the oak:

  "Turn about, roll about, having fed on Alenka's flesh!"

  "Did I hear something?" said the witch. "No it was only the noise of
  the leaves." Again the witch began:

  "I turn about, I roll about, having fed on Ivashko's flesh!"

  And Ivashko repeated:

  "Turn about, roll about, having fed on Alenka's flesh!"

  Then the witch looked up and saw Ivashko, and immediately rushed at
  the oak on which Ivashko was seated, and began to gnaw away at it. And
  she gnawed, and gnawed, and gnawed, until at last she smashed two
  front teeth. Then she ran to a forge, and when she reached it she
  cried, "Smith, smith! make me some iron teeth; if you don't I'll eat

  So the smith forged her two iron teeth.

  The witch returned and began gnawing the oak again.

  She gnawed, and gnawed, and was just on the point of gnawing it
  through, when Ivashko jumped out of it into another tree which stood
  beside it. The oak that the witch had gnawed through fell down to the
  ground; but then she saw that Ivashko was sitting up in another tree,
  so she gnashed her teeth with spite and set to work afresh, to gnaw
  that tree also. She gnawed, and gnawed, and gnawed--broke two lower
  teeth, and ran off to the forge.

  "Smith, smith!" she cried when she got there, "make me some iron
  teeth; if you don't I'll eat you!"

  The smith forged two more iron teeth for her. She went back again, and
  once more began to gnaw the oak.

  Ivashko didn't know what he was to do now. He looked out, and saw that
  swans and geese[210] were flying by, so he called to them imploringly:

    Oh, my swans and geese,
    Take me on your pinions,
    Bear me to my father and my mother,
    To the cottage of my father and my mother,
    There to eat, and drink, and live in comfort.

  "Let those in the centre carry you," said the birds.

  Ivashko waited; a second flock flew past, and he again cried

    Oh, my swans and geese!
    Take me on your pinions,
    Bear me to my father and my mother,
    To the cottage of my father and my mother,
    There to eat, and drink, and live in comfort.

  "Let those in the rear carry you!" said the birds.

  Again Ivashko waited. A third flock came flying up, and he cried:

    Oh, my swans and geese!
    Take me on your pinions,
    Bear me to my father and my mother,
    To the cottage of my father and my mother,
    There to eat, and drink, and live in comfort.

  And those swans and geese took hold of him and carried him back, flew
  up to the cottage, and dropped him in the upper room.

  Early the next morning his mother set to work to bake pancakes, baked
  them, and all of a sudden fell to thinking about her boy. "Where is my
  Ivashko?" she cried; "would that I could see him, were it only in a

  Then his father said, "I dreamed that swans and geese had brought our
  Ivashko home on their wings."

  And when she had finished baking the pancakes, she said, "Now, then,
  old man, let's divide the cakes: there's for you, father! there's for
  me! There's for you, father! there's for me."

  "And none for me?" called out Ivashko.

  "There's for you, father!" went on the old woman, "there's for me."

  "And none for me!" [repeated the boy.]

  "Why, old man," said the wife, "go and see whatever that is up there."

  The father climbed into the upper room and there he found Ivashko.
  The old people were delighted, and asked their boy about everything
  that had happened. And after that he and they lived on happily

      [That part of this story which relates to the baking
      and eating of the witch's daughter is well known in
      many lands. It is found in the German "Hänsel und
      Grethel" (Grimm. _KM._ No. 15, and iii. p. 25, where a
      number of parallels are mentioned); in the Norse
      "Askelad" (Asbjörnsen and Moe, No. 1. Dasent, "Boots
      and the Troll," No. 32), where a Troll's daughter is
      baked; and "Smörbuk" (Asb. and Moe, No. 52. Dasent,
      "Buttercup," No. 18), in which the victim is daughter
      of a "Haugkjœrring," another name for a Troll-wife;
      in the Servian story of "The Stepmother," &c. (Vuk
      Karajich, No. 35, pp. 174-5) in which two _Chivuti_,
      or Jews, are tricked into eating their baked mother;
      in the Modern Greek stories (Hahn, No. 3 and ii. p.
      181), in which the hero bakes (1) a _Drakäna_, while
      her husband, the _Drakos_, is at church, (2) a
      _Lamiopula_, during the absence of the _Lamia_, her
      mother; and in the Albanian story of "Augenhündin"
      (Hahn, No. 95), in which the heroine gets rid in a
      similar manner of Maro, the daughter of that four eyed
      συκιένεζα. (See note, ii, 309.) Afanasief also refers
      (i. p. 121) to Haltrich, No. 37, and Haupt and
      Schmaler, ii. pp. 172-4. He also mentions a similar
      tale about a giantess existing among the Baltic
      Kashoubes. See also the end of the song of Tardanak,
      showing how he killed "the Seven Headed Jelbegen,"
      Radloff, i. p. 31.]

A variant of this story (from the Chernigof Government)[211] begins by
telling how two old people were childless for a long time. At last the
husband went into the forest, felled wood, and made a cradle. Into
this his wife laid one of the logs he had cut, and began swinging it,
crooning the while a rune beginning

    Swing, blockie dear, swing.

After a little time "behold! the block already had legs. The old
woman rejoiced greatly and began singing anew, and went on singing
until the block became a babe." In this variant the boy rows a silver
boat with a golden oar; in another South Russian variant[212] the boat
is golden, the oar of silver. In a White-Russian variant quoted by
Afanasief (i. p. 118), the place of the witch's daughter is filled by
her son, who had been in the habit of alluring to her den by gifts of
toys, and there devouring, the children from the adjacent villages.
Buslaef's "Historical Essays," (i. pp. 313-321) contain a valuable
investigation of Kulish's version of this story, which he compares
with the romance of "The Knight of the Swan."

In another of the variants of this story[213] Ivanushka is the son of
a Baruinya or Lady, and he is carried off in a whirlwind by a Baba
Yaga. His three sisters go to look for him, and each of them in turn
finds out where he is and attempts to carry him off, after sending the
Baba Yaga to sleep and smearing her eyelids with pitch. But the two
elder sisters are caught on their way home by the Baba Yaga, and
terribly scratched and torn. The youngest sister, however, succeeds in
rescuing her brother, having taken the precaution of propitiating with
butter the cat Jeremiah, "who was telling the boy stories and singing
him songs." When the Baba Yaga awakes, she tells Jeremiah to scratch
her eyes open, but he refuses, reminding her that, long as he has
lived under her roof, she has never in any way regaled him, whereas
the "fair maiden" had no sooner arrived than she treated him to
butter. In another variant[214] the bereaved mother sends three
servant-maids in search of her boy. Two of them get torn to pieces;
the third succeeds in saving Ivanushka from the Baba Yaga, who is so
vexed that she pinches her butter-bribed cat to death for not having
awakened her when the rescue took place. A comparison of these three
stories is sufficient to show how closely connected are the Witch and
the Baba Yaga, how readily the name of either of the two may be
transferred to the other.

But there is one class of stories in which the _Vyed'ma_ is
represented as differing from the Baba Yaga, in so far as she is the
offspring of parents who are not in any way supernatural or inhuman.
Without any apparent cause for her abnormal conduct, the daughter of
an ordinary royal house will suddenly begin to destroy and devour all
living things which fall in her way--her strength developing as
rapidly as her appetite. Of such a nature--to be accounted for only on
the supposition that an evil spirit has taken up its abode in a human
body[215]--is the witch who appears in the somewhat incomprehensible
story that follows.


  In a certain far-off country there once lived a king and queen.
  And they had an only son, Prince Ivan, who was dumb from
  his birth. One day, when he was twelve years old, he went into
  the stable to see a groom who was a great friend of his.

  That groom always used to tell him tales [_skazki_], and on
  this occasion Prince Ivan went to him expecting to hear some
  stories [_skazochki_], but that wasn't what he heard.

  "Prince Ivan!" said the groom, "your mother will soon
  have a daughter, and you a sister. She will be a terrible witch,
  and she will eat up her father, and her mother, and all their subjects.
  So go and ask your father for the best horse he has--as
  if you wanted a gallop--and then, if you want to be out of harm's
  way, ride away whithersoever your eyes guide you."

  Prince Ivan ran off to his father and, for the first time in his
  life, began speaking to him.

  At that the king was so delighted that he never thought of
  asking what he wanted a good steed for, but immediately ordered
  the very best horse he had in his stud to be saddled for the

  Prince Ivan mounted, and rode off without caring where he
  went.[217] Long, long did he ride.

  At length he came to where two old women were sewing
  and he begged them to let him live with them. But they said:

  "Gladly would we do so, Prince Ivan, only we have now
  but a short time to live. As soon as we have broken that trunkful
  of needles, and used up that trunkful of thread, that instant
  will death arrive!"

  Prince Ivan burst into tears and rode on. Long, long did
  he ride. At length he came to where the giant Vertodub was,[218]
  and he besought him, saying:

  "Take me to live with you."

  "Gladly would I have taken you, Prince Ivan!" replied the
  giant, "but now I have very little longer to live. As soon as I
  have pulled up all these trees by the roots, instantly will come
  my death!"

  More bitterly still did the prince weep as he rode farther and
  farther on. By-and-by he came to where the giant Vertogor
  was, and made the same request to him, but he replied:

  "Gladly would I have taken you, Prince Ivan! but I myself
  have very little longer to live. I am set here, you know, to
  level mountains. The moment I have settled matters with these
  you see remaining, then will my death come!"

  Prince Ivan burst into a flood of bitter tears, and rode on
  still farther. Long, long did he ride. At last he came to the
  dwelling of the Sun's Sister. She received him into her house,
  gave him food and drink, and treated him just as if he had been
  her own son.

  The prince now led an easy life. But it was all no use; he
  couldn't help being miserable. He longed so to know what was
  going on at home.

  He often went to the top of a high mountain, and thence
  gazed at the palace in which he used to live, and he could see
  that it was all eaten away; nothing but the bare walls remained!
  Then he would sigh and weep. Once when he returned after
  he had been thus looking and crying, the Sun's Sister asked

  "What makes your eyes so red to-day, Prince Ivan?"[219]

  "The wind has been blowing in them," said he.

  The same thing happened a second time. Then the Sun's
  Sister ordered the wind to stop blowing. Again a third time
  did Prince Ivan come back with a blubbered face. This time
  there was no help for it; he had to confess everything, and then
  he took to entreating the Sun's Sister to let him go, that he
  might satisfy himself about his old home. She would not let
  him go, but he went on urgently entreating.

  So at last he persuaded her, and she let him go away to
  find out about his home. But first she provided him for the
  journey with a brush, a comb, and two youth-giving apples.
  However old any one might be, let him eat one of these apples,
  he would grow young again in an instant.

  Well, Prince Ivan came to where Vertogor was. There was
  only just one mountain left! He took his brush and cast it
  down on the open plain. Immediately there rose out of the
  earth, goodness knows whence,[220] high, ever so high mountains,
  their peaks touching the sky. And the number of them was
  such that there were more than the eye could see![221] Vertogor
  rejoiced greatly and blithely recommenced his work.

  After a time Prince Ivan came to where Vertodub was, and
  found that there were only three trees remaining there. So he
  took the comb and flung it on the open plain. Immediately from
  somewhere or other there came a sound of trees,[222] and forth from
  the ground arose dense oak forests! each stem more huge than
  the other! Vertodub was delighted, thanked the Prince, and
  set to work uprooting the ancient oaks.

  By-and-by Prince Ivan reached the old women, and gave
  each of them an apple. They ate them, and straightway became
  young again. So they gave him a handkerchief; you only had
  to wave it, and behind you lay a whole lake! At last Prince
  Ivan arrived at home. Out came running his sister to meet him,
  caressed him fondly.

  "Sit thee down, my brother!" she said, "play a tune on the
  lute while I go and get dinner ready."

  The Prince sat down and strummed away on the lute [_gusli_].

  Then there crept a mouse out of a hole, and said to him in a
  human voice:

  "Save yourself, Prince. Run away quick! your sister has
  gone to sharpen her teeth."

  Prince Ivan fled from the room, jumped on his horse, and
  galloped away back. Meantime the mouse kept running over
  the strings of the lute. They twanged, and the sister never
  guessed that her brother was off. When she had sharpened
  her teeth she burst into the room. Lo and behold! not a soul
  was there, nothing but the mouse bolting into its hole! The
  witch waxed wroth, ground her teeth like anything, and set off
  in pursuit.

  Prince Ivan heard a loud noise and looked back. There was
  his sister chasing him. So he waved his handkerchief, and a
  deep lake lay behind him. While the witch was swimming across
  the water, Prince Ivan got a long way ahead. But on she came
  faster than ever; and now she was close at hand! Vertodub
  guessed that the Prince was trying to escape from his sister.
  So he began tearing up oaks and strewing them across the road.
  A regular mountain did he pile up! there was no passing by for
  the witch! So she set to work to clear the way. She gnawed,
  and gnawed, and at length contrived by hard work to bore her
  way through; but by this time Prince Ivan was far ahead.

  On she dashed in pursuit, chased and chased. Just a little
  more, and it would be impossible for him to escape! But Vertogor
  spied the witch, laid hold of the very highest of all the mountains,
  pitched it down all of a heap on the road, and flung
  another mountain right on top of it. While the witch was
  climbing and clambering, Prince Ivan rode and rode, and found
  himself a long way ahead. At last the witch got across the
  mountain, and once more set off in pursuit of her brother. By-and-by
  she caught sight of him, and exclaimed:

  "You sha'n't get away from me this time!" And now she is
  close, now she is just going to catch him!

  At that very moment Prince Ivan dashed up to the abode of
  the Sun's Sister and cried:

  "Sun, Sun! open the window!"

  The Sun's Sister opened the window, and the Prince bounded
  through it, horse and all.

  Then the witch began to ask that her brother might be given
  up to her for punishment. The Sun's Sister would not listen
  to her, nor would she give him up. Then the witch said:

  "Let Prince Ivan be weighed against me, to see which is the
  heavier. If I am, then I will eat him; but if he is, then let him
  kill me!"

  This was done. Prince Ivan was the first to get into one of
  the scales; then the witch began to get into the other. But no
  sooner had she set foot in it than up shot Prince Ivan in the air,
  and that with such force that he flew right up into the sky, and
  into the chamber of the Sun's Sister.

  But as for the Witch-Snake, she remained down below on

      [The word _terem_ (plural _terema_) which occurs twice
      in this story (rendered the second time by "chamber")
      deserves a special notice. It is defined by Dahl, in
      its antique sense, as "a raised, lofty habitation, or
      part of one--a Boyar's castle--a Seigneur's house--the
      dwelling-place of a ruler within a fortress," &c. The
      "terem of the women," sometimes styled "of the girls,"
      used to comprise the part of a Seigneur's house, on
      the upper floor, set aside for the female members of
      his family. Dahl compares it with the Russian
      _tyurma_, a prison, and the German _Thurm_. But it
      seems really to be derived from the Greek τέρεμνον,
      "anything closely shut fast or closely covered, a
      room, chamber," &c.

      That part of the story which refers to the Cannibal
      Princess is familiar to the Modern Greeks. In the
      Syriote tale of "The Strigla" (Hahn, No. 65) a
      princess devours her father and all his subjects. Her
      brother, who had escaped while she was still a babe,
      visits her and is kindly received. But while she is
      sharpening her teeth with a view towards eating him, a
      mouse gives him a warning which saves his life. As in
      the Russian story the mouse jumps about on the strings
      of a lute in order to deceive the witch, so in the
      Greek it plays a fiddle. But the Greek hero does not
      leave his sister's abode. After remaining concealed
      one night, he again accosts her. She attempts to eat
      him, but he kills her.

      In a variant from Epirus (Hahn, ii. p. 283-4) the
      cannibal princess is called a Chursusissa. Her brother
      climbs a tree, the stem of which she gnaws almost
      asunder. But before it falls, a Lamia comes to his aid
      and kills his sister.

      Afanasief (viii. p. 527) identifies the Sun's Sister
      with the Dawn. The following explanation of the skazka
      (with the exception of the words within brackets) is
      given by A. de Gubernatis ("Zool. Myth." i. 183).
      "Ivan is the Sun, the aurora [or dawn] is his [true]
      sister; at morning, near the abode of the aurora, that
      is, in the east, the shades of night [his witch, or
      false sister] go underground, and the Sun arises to
      the heavens; this is the mythical pair of scales. Thus
      in the Christian belief, St. Michael weighs human
      souls; those who weigh much sink down into hell, and
      those who are light arise to the heavenly paradise."]

As an illustration of this story, Afanasief (_P.V.S._ iii. 272) quotes
a Little-Russian Skazka in which a man, who is seeking "the Isle in
which there is no death," meets with various personages like those
with whom the Prince at first wished to stay on his journey, and at
last takes up his abode with the moon. Death comes in search of him,
after a hundred years or so have elapsed, and engages in a struggle
with the Moon, the result of which is that the man is caught up into
the sky, and there shines thenceforth "as a star near the moon."

The Sun's Sister is a mythical being who is often mentioned in the
popular poetry of the South-Slavonians. A Servian song represents a
beautiful maiden, with "arms of silver up to the elbows," sitting on a
silver throne which floats on water. A suitor comes to woo her. She
waxes wroth and cries,

    Whom wishes he to woo?
    The sister of the Sun,
    The cousin of the Moon,
    The adopted-sister of the Dawn.

Then she flings down three golden apples, which the
"marriage-proposers" attempt to catch, but "three lightnings flash
from the sky" and kill the suitor and his friends.

In another Servian song a girl cries to the Sun--

    O brilliant Sun! I am fairer than thou,
    Than thy brother, the bright Moon,
    Than thy sister, the moving star [Venus?].

In South-Slavonian poetry the sun often figures as a radiant youth.
But among the Northern Slavonians, as well as the Lithuanians, the sun
was regarded as a female being, the bride of the moon. "Thou askest me
of what race, of what family I am," says the fair maiden of a song
preserved in the Tambof Government--

    My mother is--the beauteous Sun,
    And my father--the bright Moon;
    My brothers are--the many Stars,
    And my sisters--the white Dawns.[223]

A far more detailed account might be given of the Witch and her near
relation the Baba Yaga, as well as of those masculine embodiments of
that spirit of evil which is personified in them, the Snake, Koshchei,
and other similar beings. But the stories which have been quoted will
suffice to give at least a general idea of their moral and physical
attributes. We will now turn from their forms, so constantly
introduced into the skazka-drama, to some of the supernatural figures
which are not so often brought upon the stage--to those mythical
beings of whom (numerous as may be the traditions about them) the
regular "story" does not so often speak, to such personifications of
abstract ideas as are less frequently employed to set its conventional
machinery in motion.


[72] "Songs of the Russian People," pp. 160-185.

[73] In one story (Khudyakof, No. 117) there are snakes with
twenty-eight and twenty-nine heads, but this is unusual.

[74] Afanasief, ii. No. 30. From the Chernigof Government. The accent
falls on the second syllable of Ivan, on the first of Popyalof.

[75] _Popyal_, provincial word for _pepel_ = ashes, cinders, whence
the surname Popyalof. A pood is about 40lbs.

[76] On slender supports.

[77] _Pod mostom_, _i.e._, says Afanasief (vol. v. p. 243), under the
raised flooring which, in an _izba_, serves as a sleeping place.

[78] _Zatvelyef_, apparently a provincial word.

[79] The Russian word _krof_ also signifies blood.

[80] The last sentence of the story forms one of the conventional and
meaningless "tags" frequently attached to the skazkas. In future I
shall omit them. Kuzma and Demian (SS. Cosmas and Damian) figure in
Russian folk-lore as saintly and supernatural smiths, frequently at
war with snakes, which they maltreat in various ways. See A. de
Gubernatis, "Zoological Mythology," vol. ii. p. 397.

[81] Afanasief, Skazki, vol. vii. p. 3.

[82] _Chudo_ = prodigy. _Yudo_ may be a remembrance of Judas, or it
may be used merely for the sake of the rhyme.

[83] In an Indian story ("Kathásaritságara," book vii. chap. 42),
Indrasena comes to a place in which sits a Rákshasa on a throne
between two fair ladies. He attacks the demon with a magic sword, and
soon cuts off his head. But the head always grows again, until at last
the younger of the ladies gives him a sign to split in half the head
he has just chopped off. Thereupon the demon dies, and the two ladies
greet the conqueror rapturously. The younger is the demon's sister,
the elder is a king's daughter whom the demon has carried off from her
home, after eating her father and all his followers. See Professor
Brockhaus's summary in the "Berichte der phil. hist. Classe der K.
Sächs. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften," 1861. pp. 241-2.

[84] Khudyakof, No. 46.

[85] Afanasief, vol. i. No. 6. From the Chernigof Government. The
_Norka-Zvyer'_ (Norka-Beast) of this story is a fabulous creature, but
zoologically the name of Norka (from _nora_ = a hole) belongs to the

[86] Literally "into _that_ world" as opposed to this in which we

[87] This address is a formula, of frequent occurrence under similar

[88] Literally "seated the maidens and pulled the rope."

[89] Some sort of safe or bin.

[90] Khudyakof, ii. p. 17.

[91] "Kathásaritságara," bk. vii. c. xxxix. Wilson's translation.

[92] Genesis, xxxvii. 3, 4.

[93] "Zoological Mythology," i. 25.

[94] Quoted from the "Nitimanjari," by Wilson, in his translation of
the "Rig-Veda-Sanhita," vol. i. p. 142.

[95] See also Jülg's "Kalmukische Märchen," p. 19, where Massang, the
Calmuck Minotaur, is abandoned in the pit by his companions.

[96] Khudyakof, No. 42.

[97] Erlenvein, No. 41. A king's horses disappear. His youngest son
keeps watch and discovers that the thief is a white wolf. It escapes
into a hole. He kills his horse at its own request and makes from its
hide a rope by which he is lowered into the hole, etc.

[98] Afanasief, v. 54.

[99] The word _koshchei_, says Afanasief, may fairly be derived from
_kost'_, a bone, for changes between _st_ and _shch_ are not
uncommon--as in the cases of _pustoi_, waste, _pushcha_, a wild wood,
or of _gustoi_, thick, _gushcha_, sediment, etc. The verb
_okostenyet'_, to grow numb, describes the state into which a skazka
represents the realm of the "Sleeping Beauty," as being thrown by
Koshchei. Buslaef remarks in his "Influence of Christianity on
Slavonic Language," p. 103, that one of the Gothic words used by
Ulfilas to express the Greek δαιμόνιον is _skôhsl_, which "is purely
Slavonic, being preserved in the Czekh _kauzlo_, sorcery; in the
Lower-Lusatian-Wendish, _kostlar_ means a sorcerer. (But see Grimm's
"Deutsche Mythologie," pp. 454-5, where _skôhsl_ is supposed to mean a
forest-sprite, also p. 954.) _Kost'_ changes into _koshch_ whence our
Koshchei." There is also a provincial word, _kostit'_, meaning to
revile or scold.

[100] _Bezsmertny_ (_bez_ = without, _smert'_ = death).

[101] Afanasief, viii. No. 8. _Morevna_ means daughter of _More_, (the
Sea or any great water).

[102] _Grom._ It is the thunder, rather than the lightning, which the
Russian peasants look upon as the destructive agent in a storm. They
let the flash pass unheeded, but they take the precaution of crossing
themselves when the roar follows.

[103] _Zamorskaya_, from the other side of the water, strange,

[104] In Afanasief, iv. No. 39, a father marries his three daughters to
the Sun, the Moon, and the Raven. In Hahn, No. 25, a younger brother
gives his sisters in marriage to a Lion, a Tiger, and an Eagle, after
his elder brothers have refused to do so. By their aid he recovers his
lost bride. In Schott, No. 1 and Vuk Karajich, No. 5, the three sisters
are carried off by Dragons, which their subsequently-born brother
kills. (See also Basile, No. 33, referred to by Hahn, and Valjavec, p.
1, Stier, No. 13, and Bozena Nêmcova, pp. 414-432, and a German story
in Musæus, all referred to by Afanasief, viii. p. 662.)

[105] See Chap. IV.

[106] "Being by the advice of her father Hæreð given in marriage to
Offa, she left off her violent practices; and accordingly she appears
in Hygelác's court, exercising the peaceful duties of a princess. Now
this whole representation can hardly be other than the modern,
altered, and Christian one of a Wælcyrie or Swan-Maiden; and almost in
the same words the Nibelungen Lied relates of Brynhild, the flashing
shield-may of the Edda, that with her virginity she lost her mighty
strength and warlike habits."--Kemble's Beowulf, p. xxxv.

[107] Khudyakof, ii, p. 90.

[108] Khudyakof, No. 20.

[109] Afanasief, i. No. 14.

[110] Khudyakof, No. 62.

[111] Erlenvein, No. 31.

[112] Afanasief, ii. No. 24. From the Perm Government.

[113] A conventional expression of contempt which frequently occurs in
the Skazkas.

[114] _Do chugunnova kamnya_, to an iron stone.

[115] "_Russkaya kost'._" I have translated literally, but the words
mean nothing more than "a man," "something human." Cf. Radloff, iii.
III. 301.

[116] _Bog prostit_ = God will forgive. This sounds to the English ear
like an ungracious reply, but it is the phrase ordinarily used by a
superior when an inferior asks his pardon. Before taking the sacrament
at Easter, the servants in a Russian household ask their employers to
forgive them for any faults of which they may have been guilty. "God
will forgive," is the proper reply.

[117] Khudyakof, No. 43.

[118] _Vikhor'_ (_vit'_ = to whirl), an agent often introduced for the
purpose of abduction. The sorcerers of the present day are supposed to
be able to direct whirlwinds, and a not uncommon form of imprecation
in some parts of Russia is "May the whirlwind carry thee off!" See
Afanasief, _P.V.S._ i. 317, and "Songs of the Russian People," p. 382.

[119] This story is very like that of the "Rider of Grianaig," "Tales
of the West Highlands," iii. No. 58.

[120] Cf. Herodotus, bk. iv. chap. 172.

[121] Khudyakof, No. 44.

[122] Erlenvein, No. 12, p. 67. A popular tradition asserts that the
Devil may be killed if shot with an egg laid on Christmas Eve. See
Afanasief, _P.V.S._ ii. 603.

[123] Afanasief, i. No. 14, p. 92. For an account of Buyan, see "Songs
of the Russian People," p. 374.

[124] Afanasief, vii. No. 6, p. 83.

[125] Some of these have been compared by Mr. Cox, in his "Mythology
of the Aryan Nations," i. 135-142. Also by Professor A. de Gubernatis,
who sees in the duck the dawn, in the hare "the moon sacrificed in the
morning," and in the egg the sun. "Zoological Mythology," i. 269.

[126] Asbjörnsen and Moe, No. 36, Dasent, No. 9, p. 71.

[127] Asbjörnsen's "New Series," No. 70, p. 39.

[128] Haltrich's "Deutsche Volksmärchen aus dem Sachsenlande in
Siebenbürgen," p. 188.

[129] Wenzig's "Westslawischer Märchenschatz," No. 37, p. 190.

[130] Campbell's "Tales of the West Highlands," i. No. 4, p. 81.

[131] Hahn, No. 26, i. 187.

[132] Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 215, 294-5.

[133] Vuk Karajich, No. 8. The monster is called in the Servian text
an _Ajdaya_, a word meaning a dragon or snake. It is rendered by
_Drache_ in the German translation of his collection of tales made by
his daughter, but the word is evidently akin to the Sanskrit _ahi_,
the Greek ἐχιρ ἐχιδνα, the Latin _anguis_, the Russian _ujak_, the
Luthanian _angis_, etc. The Servian word _snaga_ answers to the
Russian _sila_, strength.

[134] Miss Frere's "Old Deccan Days," pp. 13-16.

[135] Castren's "Ethnologische Vorlesungen über die Altaischen
Völker," p. 174.

[136] The story has been translated by M. de Rougé in the "Revue
Archéologique," 1852-3, p. 391 (referred to by Professor Benfey,
"Panchatantra," i. 426) and summarized by Mr. Goodwin in the
"Cambridge Essays" for 1858, pp. 232-7, and by Dr. Mannhardt in the
"Zeitschrift für deutsche Mythologie," &c., vol. iv. pp. 232-59. For
other versions of the story of the Giant's heart, or Koshchei's death,
see Professor R. Köhler's remarks on the subject in "Orient und
Occident," ii. pp. 99-103. A singular parallel to part of the Egyptian
myth is offered by the Hottentot story in which the heart of a girl
whom a lion has killed and eaten, is extracted from the lion, and
placed in a calabash filled with milk. "The calabash increased in
size, and in proportion to this, the girl grew again inside it."
Bleek's "Reynard the Fox in South Africa," p. 55. Cf. Radloff, i. 75;
ii. 237-8, 532-3.

[137] Khudyakof, No. 109.

[138] Khudyakof, No. 110.

[139] Afanasief, v. No. 42. See also the _Zagovor_, or spell, "to give
a good youth a longing for a fair maiden," ("Songs of the Russian
People," p. 369,) in which "the Longing" is described as lying under a
plank in a hut, weeping and sobbing, and "waiting to get at the white
light," and is desired to gnaw its way into the youth's heart.

[140] For stories about house snakes, &c., see Grimm "Deutsche
Mythologie," p. 650, and Tylor, "Primitive Culture," ii. pp. 7,

[141] Or _Ujak_. Erlenvein, No. 2. From the Tula Government.

[142] Grimm, "Deutsche Mythologie," 456. For a description of the
Rusalka and the Vodyany, see "Songs of the Russian People," pp.

[143] Afanasief, v. No. 23. From the Voroneje Government.

[144] Three of the well-known servants of Fortunatus. The eater-up
(_ob'egedat'_ = to devour), the drinker-up (_pit'_ = to drink,
_opivat'sya_, to drink oneself to death), and "Crackling Frost."

[145] _Opokhmyelit'sya_, which may be rendered, "in order to drink off
the effects of the debauch."

[146] The Russian bath somewhat resembles the Turkish. The word here
translated "to scrub," properly means to rub and flog with the soft
twig used in the baths for that purpose. At the end of the ceremonies
attended on a Russian peasant wedding, the young couple always go to
the bath.

[147] A sort of pudding or jelly.

[148] Afanasief, v. No. 28. In the preceding story, No. 27, the king
makes no promise. He hides his children in (or upon) a pillar, hoping
to conceal them from a devouring bear, whose fur is of iron. The bear
finds them and carries them off. A horse and some geese vainly attempt
their rescue; a bull-calf succeeds, as in the former case. In another
variant the enemy is an iron wolf. A king had promised his children a
wolf. Unable to find a live one, he had one made of iron and gave it
to his children. After a time it came to life and began destroying all
it found, etc. An interesting explanation of the stories of this class
in which they are treated as nature-myths, is given by A. de
Gubernatis in his "Zoological Mythology," chap. i. sect. 4.

[149] Khudyakof, No. 17.

[150] It has already been observed that the word _chudo_, which now
means a marvel or prodigy, formerly meant a giant.

[151] Erlenvein, No. 6, pp. 30-32. The Russian word _idol_ is
identical with our own adaptation of ειδωλου.

[152] Khudyakof, No. 18.

[153] _Zhidenok_, strictly the cub of a _zhid_, a word which properly
means a Jew, but is used here for a devil.

[154] Khudyakof, No. 118.

[155] _Chort_, a word which, as has been stated, sometimes means a
demon, sometimes the Devil.

[156] Afanasief, viii. p. 343.

[157] "Old Deccan Days," pp. 34-5. Compare with the conduct of the
Cobra's daughter that of Angaraka, the daughter of the Daitya who,
under the form of a wild boar, is chased underground by Chandasena.
Brockhaus's "Mährchensammlung des Somadeva Bhatta," 1843, vol. i. pp.

[158] "Panchatantra," v. 10.

[159] Upham's "Sacred and Historical Books of Ceylon," iii. 287.

[160] Afanasief says (_P.V.S._ iii. 588), "As regards the word _yaga_
(_yega_, Polish _jedza_, _jadza_, _jedzi-baba_, Slovak, _jenzi_,
_jenzi_, _jezi-baba_, Bohemian, _jezinka_, Galician _yazya_) it
answers to the Sanskrit _ahi_ = snake."

Shchepkin (in his work on "Russian Fable-lore," p. 109) says: "_Yaga_,
instead of _yagaya_, means properly noisy, scolding, and must be
connected with the root _yagat'_ = to brawl, to scold, still preserved
in Siberia. The accuracy of this etymology is confirmed by the use, in
the speech of the common people, of the designation _Yaga Baba_ for a
quarrelsome, scolding old woman."

Kastorsky, in his "Slavonic Mythology," p. 138, starts a theory of his
own. "The name _Yaga Baba_, I take to be _yakaya baba_, _nycyakaya
baba_, and I render it by _anus quædam_." Bulgarin (Rossiya, ii. 322)
refers the name to a Finnish root. According to him, "_Jagga-lema_, in
Esthonian, means to quarrel or brawl, _jagga-lemine_ means quarrelling
or brawling." There is some similarity between the Russian form of the
word, and the Singalese name for a (male) demon, _yaka_, which is
derived from the Pali _yakkho_, as is the synonymous term _yakseya_
from the Sanskrit _yaksha_ (see the valuable paper on Demonology in
Ceylon by Dandris de Silva Gooneratne Modliar in the "Journal of the
Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society," 1865-6). Some Slavonic
philologists derive _yaga_ from a root meaning to eat (in Russian
_yest'_). This corresponds with the derivation of the word _yaksha_
contained in the following legend: "The Vishnu Purāna, i. 5,
narrates that they (the Yakshas) were produced by Brahmā as beings
emaciate with hunger, of hideous aspect, and with long beards, and
that, crying out 'Let us eat,' they were denominated Yakshas (fr.
_jaksh_, to eat)." Monier Williams's "Sanskrit Dictionary," p. 801. In
character the Yaga often resembles a Rákshasí.

[161] Afanasief, i. No. 3 b. From the Voroneje Government.

[162] Khudyakof, No. 60.

[163] See Grimm, _KM._ iii. 97-8. Cf. R. Köhler in "Orient und
Occident," ii. 112.

[164] Grimm, No. 79. "Die Wassernixe."

[165] Asbjörnsen and Moe, No. 14. Dasent, p. 362. "The Widow's Son."

[166] Hahn, No. 1.

[167] Campbell's "Tales of the West Highlands," No. 2.

[168] Töppen's "Aberglauben aus Masuren," p. 146.

[169] Miss Frere's "Old Deccan Days," p. 63.

[170] "Kathásaritságara," vii. ch. xxxix. Translated by Wilson,
"Essays," ii. 137. Cf. Brockhaus in the previously quoted "Berichte,"
1861, p. 225-9. For other forms, see R. Köhler in "Orient and
Occident," vol. ii. p. 112.

[171] See, however, Mr. Campbell's remarks on this subject, in "Tales
of the West Highlands," i. pp. lxxvii-lxxxi.

[172] Afanasief, viii. No. 6.

[173] See the third tale, of the "Siddhi Kür," Jülg's "Kalm. Märchen,"
pp. 17-19.

[174] Schleicher's "Litauische Märchen," No. 39. (I have given an
analysis of the story in the "Songs of the Russian People," p. 101.)
In the variant of the story in No. 38, the comrades are the hero
Martin, a smith, and a tailor. Their supernatural foe is a small gnome
with a very long beard. He closely resembles the German "Erdmänneken"
(Grimm, No. 91), and the "Männchen," in "Der starke Hans" (Grimm, No.

[175] Hahn, No. 11. Schleicher, No. 20, &c., &c.

[176] Wenzig, No. 2.

[177] "Tales of the West Highlands," ii. p. 15. Mr. Campbell says "I
believe such a mode of torture can be traced amongst the
Scandinavians, who once owned the Western Islands." But the Gaelic
"Binding of the Three Smalls," is unknown to the Skazkas.

[178] Erlenvein, No. 3.

[179] Afanasief, vii. No. 30.

[180] Khudyakof, No. 97.

[181] Khudyakof, No. 14. Erlenvein, No. 9.

[182] Afanasief, iv. No. 44.

[183] The first _krasavitsa_ or beauty.

[184] _Chulanchik._ The _chulan_ is a kind of closet, generally used
as a storeroom for provisions, &c.

[185] _Prigovarivaya_, the word generally used to express the action
of a person who utters a charm accompanied by a gesture of the hand or

[186] Became a _nevyesta_, a word meaning "a marriageable maiden," or
"a betrothed girl," or "a bride."

[187] _Ishbushka_, a little _izba_ or cottage.

[188] "Phu, Phu! there is a Russian smell!" the equivalent of our own
"Fee, faw, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!"

[189] _Luchina_, a deal splinter used instead of a candle.

[190] _Chernushka_, a sort of wild pea.

[191] _Krasnoe solnuischko_, red (or fair) dear-sun.

[192] Equivalent to saying "she liked to wash her dirty linen at

[193] I break off the narrative at this point, because what follows is
inferior in dramatic interest, and I am afraid of diminishing the
reader's admiration for one of the best folk-tales I know. But I give
an epitome of the remainder within brackets and in small type.

[194] From the Poltava Government. Afanasief, vi. No. 28 _b_.

[195] Grimm, No. 65. The Wallachian and Lithuanian forms resemble the
German (Schott, No. 3. Schleicher, No. 7). In all of them, the heroine
is a princess, who runs away from an unnatural father. In one of the
Modern Greek versions (Hahn, No. 27), she sinks into the earth. For
references to seven other forms of the story, see Grimm, _KM._, iii.
p. 116. In one Russian variant (Khudyakof, No. 54), she hides in a
secret drawer, constructed for the purpose in a bedstead; in another
(Afanasief, vi. No. 28 _a_), her father, not recognising her in the
pig-skin dress, spits at her, and turns her out of the house. In a
third, which is of a very repulsive character (ibid. vii. No. 29), the
father kills his daughter.

[196] Afanasief, vi. No. 18.

[197] The Russian word is _zakukovali_, _i.e._, "They began to
cuckoo." The resemblance between the word _kukla_, a puppet, and the
name and cry of the cuckoo (_Kukushka_) may be merely accidental, but
that bird has a marked mythological character. See the account of the
rite called "the Christening of the Cuckoos," in "Songs of the Russian
people," p. 215.

[198] Very like these puppets are the images which reply for the
sleeping prince in the opening scene of "De beiden Künigeskinner"
(Grimm, No. 113). A doll plays an important part in one of
Straparola's stories (Night v. Fable 2). Professor de Gubernatis
identifies the Russian puppet with "the moon, the Vedic Râkâ, very
small, but very intelligent, enclosed in the wooden dress, in the
forest of night," "Zoological Mythology," i. 207-8.

[199] Afanasief, ii. No. 31.

[200] Khudyakof, No. 55.

[201] Ibid., No. 83.

[202] Wojcicki's "Polnische Volkssagen," &c. Lewestam's translation,
iii. No. 8.

[203] The germ of all these repulsive stories about incestuous unions,
proposed but not carried out, was probably a nature myth akin to that
alluded to in the passage of the Rigveda containing the dialogue
between Yama and Yami--"where she (the night) implores her brother
(the day) to make her his wife, and where he declines her offer
because, as he says, 'they have called it sin that a brother should
marry his sister.'" Max Müller, "Lectures," sixth edition, ii. 557.

[204] Afanasief, vii. No. 18.

[205] Her name _Vyed'ma_ comes from a Slavonic root _véd_, answering
to the Sanskrit _vid_--from which springs an immense family of words
having reference to knowledge. _Vyed'ma_ and _witch_ are in fact
cousins who, though very distantly related, closely resemble each
other both in appearance and in character.

[206] Afanasief, i. No. 4 _a_. From the Voroneje Government.

[207] Ivashko and Ivashechko, are caressing diminutives of Ivan.

[208] "Some storytellers," says Afanasief, "substitute the word snake
(_zmei_) in the Skazka for that of witch (_vyed'ma_)."

[209] Diminutive of Elena.

[210] _Gusi--lebedi_, geese--swans.

[211] Afanasief, i. No. 4.

[212] Kulish, ii. 17.

[213] Khudyakof, No. 53.

[214] Ibid. No. 52.

[215] The demonism of Ceylon "represents demons as having _human_
fathers and mothers, and as being born in the ordinary course of
nature. Though born of human parents, all their qualities are
different from those of men. They leave their parents sometime after
their birth, but before doing so, they generally take care to try
their demoniac powers on them." "Demonology and Witchcraft in Ceylon,"
by Dandris de Silva Gooneratne Modliar. "Journal of Ceylon Branch of
Royal Asiatic Society," 1865-6, p. 17.

[216] Afanasief, vi. No. 57. From the Ukraine.

[217] "Whither [his] eyes look."

[218] Vertodub, the Tree-extractor (_vertyet'_ = to twirl, _dub_ =
tree or oak) is the German _Baumdreher_ or _Holzkrummacher_;
_Vertogor_ the Mountain leveller (_gora_ = mountain) answers to the
_Steinzerreiber_ or _Felsenkripperer_.

[219] Why are you just now so _zaplakannoi_ or blubbered.
(_Zalplakat'_, or _plakat'_ = to cry.)

[220] _Otkuda ni vzyalis._

[221] _Vidimo--nevidimo_, visibly--invisibly.

[222] _Zashumyeli_, they began to produce a _shum_ or noise.

[223] Afanasief, _P.V.S._, i. 80-84. In the Albanian story of "The
Serpent Child," (Hahn, No. 100), the heroine, the wife of the man whom
forty snake-sloughs encase, is assisted in her troubles by two
subterranean beings whom she finds employed in baking. They use their
hands instead of shovels, and clean out the oven with their breasts.
They are called "Sisters of the Sun."



_Miscellaneous Impersonifications._

Somewhat resembling the picture usually drawn of the supernatural
Witch in the Skazkas, is that which some of them offer of a
personification of evil called Likho.[224] The following story,
belonging to the familiar Polyphemus-cycle, will serve to convey an
idea of this baleful being, who in it takes a female form.


  Once upon a time there was a smith. "Well now," says
  he, "I've never set eyes on any harm. They say there's evil
  (_likho_)[225] in the world. I'll go and seek me out evil." So he
  went and had a goodish drink, and then started in search of
  evil. On the way he met a tailor.

  "Good day," says the Tailor.

  "Good day."

  "Where are you going?" asks the Tailor.

  "Well, brother, everybody says there is evil on earth. But
  I've never seen any, so I'm going to look for it."

  "Let's go together. I'm a thriving man, too, and have seen
  no evil; let's go and have a hunt for some."

  Well, they walked and walked till they reached a dark, dense
  forest. In it they found a small path, and along it they went--along
  the narrow path. They walked and walked along the path,
  and at last they saw a large cottage standing before them. It
  was night; there was nowhere else to go to. "Look here,"
  they say, "let's go into that cottage." In they went. There
  was nobody there. All looked bare and squalid. They sat
  down, and remained sitting there some time. Presently in
  came a tall woman, lank, crooked, with only one eye.

  "Ah!" says she, "I've visitors. Good day to you."

  "Good day, grandmother. We've come to pass the night
  under your roof."

  "Very good: I shall have something to sup on."

  Thereupon they were greatly terrified. As for her, she went
  and fetched a great heap of firewood. She brought in the heap
  of firewood, flung it into the stove, and set it alight. Then she
  went up to the two men, took one of them--the Tailor--cut his
  throat, trussed him, and put him in the oven.

  Meantime the Smith sat there, thinking, "What's to be done?
  how's one to save one's life?" When she had finished her
  supper, the Smith looked at the oven and said:

  "Granny, I'm a smith."

  "What can you forge?"


  "Make me an eye."

  "Good," says he; "but have you got any cord? I must
  tie you up, or you won't keep still. I shall have to hammer
  your eye in."

  She went and fetched two cords, one rather thin, the other
  thicker. Well, he bound her with the one which was thinnest.

  "Now then, granny," says he, "just turn over." She turned
  over, and broke the cord.

  "That won't do, granny," says he; "that cord doesn't suit."

  He took the thick cord, and tied her up with it famously.

  "Now then, turn away, granny!" says he. She turned and
  twisted, but didn't break the cord. Then he took an awl, heated
  it red-hot, and applied it to her eye--her sound one. At
  the same moment he caught up a hatchet, and hammered away
  vigorously with the back of it at the awl. She struggled like
  anything, and broke the cord; then she went and sat down at
  the threshold.

  "Ah, villain!" she cried. "You sha'n't get away from me

  He saw that he was in an evil plight again. There he sat,
  thinking, "What's to be done?"

  By-and-by the sheep came home from afield, and she drove
  them into her cottage for the night. Well, the Smith spent the
  night there, too. In the morning she got up to let the sheep
  out. He took his sheep-skin pelisse and turned it inside out
  so that the wool was outside, passed his arms through its
  sleeves, and pulled it well over him, and crept up to her as
  he had been a sheep. She let the flock go out one at a time,
  catching hold of each by the wool on its back, and shoving it
  out. Well, he came creeping up like the rest. She caught
  hold of the wool on his back and shoved him out. But as
  soon as she had shoved him out, he stood up and cried:

  "Farewell, Likho! I have suffered much evil (_likha_) at your
  hands. Now you can do nothing to me."

  "Wait a bit!" she replied; "you shall endure still more.
  You haven't escaped yet!"

  The Smith went back through the forest along the narrow
  path. Presently he saw a golden-handled hatchet sticking in a
  tree, and he felt a strong desire to seize it. Well, he did seize
  that hatchet, and his hand stuck fast to it. What was to be
  done? There was no freeing it anyhow. He gave a look behind
  him. There was Likho coming after him, and crying:

  "There you are, villain! you've not got off yet!"

  The Smith pulled out a small knife which he had in his
  pocket, and began hacking away at his hand--cut it clean off
  and ran away. When he reached his village, he immediately
  began to show his arm as a proof that he had seen Likho at last.

  "Look," says he, "that's the state of things. Here am I,"
  says he, "without my hand. And as for my comrade, she's
  eaten him up entirely."

In a Little-Russian variant of this story, quoted by Afanasief,[226]
(III. p. 137) a man, who often hears evil or misfortune (_likho_)
spoken of, sets out in search of it. One day he sees an iron castle
beside a wood, surrounded by a palisade of human bones tipped with
skulls. He knocks at the door, and a voice cries "What do you want?"
"I want evil," he replies. "That's what I'm looking for." "Evil is
here," cries the voice. So in he goes, and finds a huge, blind giant
lying within, stretched on a couch of human bones. "This was Likho
(Evil)," says the story, "and around him were seated Zluidni (Woes)
and Zhurba (Care)." Finding that Likho intends to eat him, the
misfortune-seeker takes to flight. Likho hears the iron doors creak,
and cries to them to stop the fugitive. "But he had already passed out
of doors. Only he lost his right hand, on which the door slammed:
whereupon he exclaimed 'Here's misfortune, sure enough!'"

The opening of the story of Likho is somewhat similar to that of one
of the tales of Indian origin translated by Stanislas Julien from the
Chinese. Once upon a time, we are told, a king grew weary of good
fortune, so he sent messengers in search of misfortune. It a certain
god sold to them, in the shape of a sow which devoured a peck of
needles a day. The king's agents took to worrying his subjects for
needles, and brought such trouble upon the whole kingdom, that his
ministers entreated him to have the beast put to death. He consented,
and it was led forth to die. But neither knife nor axe could penetrate
its hide, so they tried to consume it with fire. After a time it
became red-hot, and then it leaped out from amid the flames, and
dashed about setting fire to all manner of things. The conflagration
spread and was followed by famine, so that the whole land was involved
in ruin.[227]

The Polyphemus story has been so thoroughly investigated by Wilhelm
Grimm,[228] that there is no occasion to dwell upon it here. But the
following statement is worthy of notice. The inhabitants of the
Ukraine are said still to retain some recollection of the one-eyed
nation of Arimaspians of whom Herodotus speaks (Bk. IV. c. 27).
According to them the One-Eyes[229] dwell somewhere far off, beyond
the seas. The Tartars, during their inroads, used to burn towns and
villages, kill old folks and infants, and carry off young people. The
plumpest of these they used to sell to cannibals who had but one eye
apiece, situated in the forehead. And the cannibals would drive away
their purchases, like sheep, to their own land, and there fatten them
up, kill them, and eat them. A similar tradition, says Afanasief
(VIII. 260) exists also among the Ural Cossacks.

While on the subject of eyes, it may be remarked that the story of
"One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes," rendered so familiar to juvenile
English readers by translations from the German,[230] appears among
the Russian tales in a very archaic and heathenish form. Here is the
outline of a version of it found in the Archangel Government.[231]
There once was a Princess Marya, whose stepmother had two daughters,
one of whom was three-eyed. Now her stepmother hated Marya, and used
to send her out, with nothing to eat but a dry crust, to tend a cow
all day. But "the princess went into the open field, bowed down before
the cow's right foot, and got plenty to eat and to drink, and fine
clothes to put on; all day long she followed the cow about dressed
like a great lady--when the day came to a close, she again bowed down
to the cow's right foot, took off her fine clothes, went home and laid
on the table the crust of bread she had brought back with her."
Wondering at this, her stepmother sent her two-eyed stepsister to
watch her. But Marya uttered the words "Sleep, sleep, one-eye! sleep,
sleep, other eye!" till the watcher fell asleep. Then the three-eyed
sister was sent, and Marya by the same spell sent two of her eyes to
sleep, but forgot the third. So all was found out, and the stepmother
had the cow killed. But Marya persuaded her father, who acted as the
butcher, to give her a part of the cow's entrails, which she buried
near the threshold; and from it there sprang a bush covered with
berries, and haunted by birds which sang "songs royal and rustic."
After a time a Prince Ivan heard of Marya, so he came riding up, and
offered to marry whichever of the three princesses could fill with
berries from the bush a bowl which he brought with him. The
stepmother's daughters tried to do so, but the birds almost pecked
their eyes out, and would not let them gather the berries. Then
Marya's turn came, and when she approached the bush the birds picked
the berries for her, and filled the bowl in a trice. So she married
the prince, and lived happily with him for a time.

But after she had borne him a son, she went to pay a visit to her
father, and her stepmother availed herself of the opportunity to turn
her into a goose, and to set her own two-eyed daughter in her place.
So Prince Ivan returned home with a false bride. But a certain old man
took out the infant prince afield, and there his mother appeared,
flung aside her feather-covering, and suckled the babe, exclaiming the
while with tears--

"To-day I suckle thee, to-morrow I shall suckle thee, but on the third
day I shall fly away beyond the dark forests, beyond the high

This occurred on two successive days, but on the second occasion
Prince Ivan was a witness of what took place, and he seized her
feather-dress and burnt it, and then laid hold of her. She first
turned into a frog, then assumed various reptile forms, and finally
became a spindle. This he broke in two, and flung one half in front
and the other behind him, and the spell was broken along with it. So
he regained his wife and went home with her. But as for the false
wife, he took a gun and shot her.

We will now return to the stories in which Harm or Misery figures as
a living agent. To Likho is always attributed a character of
unmitigated malevolence, and a similar disposition is ascribed by the
songs of the people to another being in whom the idea of misfortune is
personified. This is _Goré_, or Woe, who is frequently represented in
popular poetry--sometimes under the name of _Béda_ or Misery--as
chasing and ultimately destroying the unhappy victims of destiny. In
vain do the fugitives attempt to escape. If they enter the dark
forest, Woe follows them there; if they rush to the pot-house, there
they find Woe sitting; when they seek refuge in the grave, Woe stands
over it with a shovel and rejoices.[232] In the following story,
however, the gloomy figure of Woe has been painted in a less than
usually sombre tone.


  In a certain village there lived two peasants, two brothers: one
  of them poor, the other rich. The rich one went away to live
  in a town, built himself a large house, and enrolled himself
  among the traders. Meanwhile the poor man sometimes had
  not so much as a morsel of bread, and his children--each one
  smaller than the other--were crying and begging for food.
  From morning till night the peasant would struggle, like a fish
  trying to break through ice, but nothing came of it all. At last
  one day he said to his wife:

  "Suppose I go to town, and ask my brother whether he won't
  do something to help us."

  So he went to the rich man and said:

  "Ah, brother mine! do help me a bit in my trouble. My
  wife and children are without bread. They have to go whole
  days without eating."

  "Work for me this week, then I'll help you," said his brother.

  What was there to be done! The poor man betook himself
  to work, swept out the yard, cleaned the horses, fetched water,
  chopped firewood.

  At the end of the week the rich man gave him a loaf of bread,
  and says:

  "There's for your work!"

  "Thank you all the same," dolefully said the poor man,
  making his bow and preparing to go home.

  "Stop a bit! come and dine with me to-morrow, and bring
  your wife, too: to-morrow is my name-day, you know."

  "Ah, brother! how can I? you know very well you'll
  be having merchants coming to you in boots and pelisses,
  but I have to go about in bast shoes and a miserable old grey

  "No matter, come! there will be room even for you."

  "Very well, brother! I'll come."

  The poor man returned home, gave his wife the loaf, and

  "Listen, wife! we're invited to a party to-morrow."

  "What do you mean by a party? who's invited us?"

  "My brother! he keeps his name-day to-morrow."

  "Well, well! let's go."

  Next day they got up and went to the town, came to the rich
  man's house, offered him their congratulations, and sat down on
  a bench. A number of the name-day guests were already seated
  at table. All of these the host feasted gloriously, but he forgot
  even so much as to think of his poor brother and his wife; not
  a thing did he offer them; they had to sit and merely look on
  at the others eating and drinking.

  The dinner came to an end; the guests rose from table,
  and expressed their thanks to their host and hostess; and the
  poor man did likewise, got up from his bench, and bowed down
  to his girdle before his brother. The guests drove off homewards,
  full of drink and merriment, shouting, singing songs. But
  the poor man had to walk back empty.

  "Suppose we sing a song, too," he says to his wife.

  "What a fool you are!" says she, "people sing because
  they've made a good meal and had lots to drink; but why ever
  should you dream of singing?"

  "Well, at all events, I've been at my brother's name-day
  party. I'm ashamed of trudging along without singing. If I
  sing, everybody will think I've been feasted like the rest."

  "Sing away, then, if you like; but I won't!"

  The peasant began a song. Presently he heard a voice
  joining in it. So he stopped, and asked his wife:

  "Is it you that's helping me to sing with that thin little

  "What are you thinking about! I never even dreamt of
  such a thing."

  "Who is it, then?"

  "I don't know," said the woman. "But now, sing away,
  and I'll listen."

  He began his song again. There was only one person singing,
  yet two voices could be heard. So he stopped, and asked:

  "Woe, is that you that's helping me to sing?"

  "Yes, master," answered Woe: "it's I that's helping you."

  "Well then, Woe! let's all go on together."

  "Very good, master! I'll never depart from you now."

  When the peasant got home, Woe bid him to the _kabak_ or

  "I've no money," says the man.

  "Out upon you, moujik! What do you want money for? why
  you've got on a sheep-skin jacket. What's the good of that? It
  will soon be summer; anyhow you won't be wanting to wear it.
  Off with the jacket, and to the pot-house we'll go."

  So the peasant went with Woe into the pot-house, and they
  drank the sheep-skin away.

  The next day Woe began groaning--its head ached from
  yesterday's drinking--and again bade the master of the house
  have a drink.

  "I've no money," said the peasant.

  "What do we want money for? Take the cart and the
  sledge; we've plenty without them."

  There was nothing to be done; the peasant could not shake
  himself free from Woe. So he took the cart and the sledge,
  dragged them to the pot-house, and there he and Woe drank them
  away. Next morning Woe began groaning more than ever, and
  invited the master of the house to go and drink off the effects
  of the debauch. This time the peasant drank away his plough
  and his harrow.

  A month hadn't passed before he had got rid of everything
  he possessed. Even his very cottage he pledged to a neighbor,
  and the money he got that way he took to the pot-house.

  Yet another time did Woe come close beside him and say:

  "Let us go, let us go to the pot-house!"

  "No, no, Woe! it's all very well, but there's nothing more
  to be squeezed out."

  "How can you say that? Your wife has got two petticoats:
  leave her one, but the other we must turn into drink."

  The peasant took the petticoat, drank it away, and said to

  "We're cleaned out at last, my wife as well as myself. Not
  a stick nor a stone is left!"

  Next morning Woe saw, on waking, that there was nothing
  more to be got out of the peasant, so it said:


  "Well, Woe?"

  "Why, look here. Go to your neighbor, and ask him to
  lend you a cart and a pair of oxen."

  The peasant went to the neighbor's.

  "Be so good as to lend me a cart and a pair of oxen for a
  short time," says he. "I'll do a week's work for you in return."

  "But what do you want them for?"

  "To go to the forest for firewood."

  "Well then, take them; only don't overburthen them."

  "How could you think of such a thing, kind friend!"

  So he brought the pair of oxen, and Woe got into the cart
  with him, and away he drove into the open plain.

  "Master!" asks Woe, "do you know the big stone on this

  "Of course I do."

  "Well then if you know it, drive straight up to it."

  They came to the place where it was, stopped, and got out
  of the cart. Woe told the peasant to lift the stone; the peasant
  lifted it, Woe helping him. Well, when they had lifted it there
  was a pit underneath chock full of gold.

  "Now then, what are you staring at!" said Woe to the
  peasant, "be quick and pitch it into the cart."

  The peasant set to work and filled the cart with gold;
  cleared the pit to the very last ducat. When he saw there was
  nothing more left:

  "Just give a look, Woe," he said; "isn't there some money
  left in there?"

  "Where?" said Woe, bending down; "I can't see a thing."

  "Why there; something is shining in yon corner!"

  "No, I can't see anything," said Woe.

  "Get into the pit; you'll see it then."

  Woe jumped in: no sooner had it got there than the peasant
  closed the mouth of the pit with the stone.

  "Things will be much better like that," said the peasant:
  "if I were to take you home with me, O Woeful Woe, sooner
  or later you'd be sure to drink away all this money, too!"

  The peasant got home, shovelled the money into his cellar,
  took the oxen back to his neighbor, and set about considering
  how he should manage. It ended in his buying a wood, building
  a large homestead, and becoming twice as rich as his

  After a time he went into the town to invite his brother and
  sister-in-law to spend his name-day with him.

  "What an idea!" said his rich brother: "you haven't a
  thing to eat, and yet you ask people to spend your name-day
  with you!"

  "Well, there was a time when I had nothing to eat, but
  now, thank God! I've as much as you. If you come, you'll see
  for yourself."

  "So be it! I'll come," said his brother.

  Next day the rich brother and his wife got ready, and went
  to the name-day party. They could see that the former beggar
  had got a new house, a lofty one, such as few merchants had!
  And the moujik treated them hospitably, regaled them with all
  sorts of dishes, gave them all sorts of meads and spirits to
  drink. At length the rich man asked his brother:

  "Do tell me by what good luck have you grown rich?"

  The peasant made a clean breast of everything--how Woe
  the Woeful had attached itself to him, how he and Woe had
  drunk away all that he had, to the very last thread, so that the
  only thing that was left him was the soul in his body. How
  Woe showed him a treasure in the open field, how he took that
  treasure, and freed himself from Woe into the bargain. The
  rich man became envious.

  "Suppose I go to the open field," thinks he, "and lift up the
  stone and let Woe out. Of a surety it will utterly destroy my
  brother, and then he will no longer brag of his riches before me!"

  So he sent his wife home, but he himself hastened into the
  plain. When he came to the big stone, he pushed it aside, and
  knelt down to see what was under it. Before he had managed
  to get his head down low enough, Woe had already leapt out
  and seated itself on his shoulders.

  "Ha!" it cried, "you wanted to starve me to death in here!
  No, no! Now will I never on any account depart from you."

  "Only hear me, Woe!" said the merchant: "it wasn't I at
  all who put you under the stone."

  "Who was it then, if it wasn't you?"

  "It was my brother put you there, but I came on purpose to
  let you out."

  "No, no! that's a lie. You tricked me once; you shan't
  trick me a second time!"

  Woe gripped the rich merchant tight by the neck; the man
  had to carry it home, and there everything began to go wrong
  with him. From the very first day Woe began again to play
  its usual part, every day it called on the merchant to renew his
  drinking.[234] Many were the valuables which went in the pot-house.

  "Impossible to go on living like this!" says the merchant to
  himself. "Surely I've made sport enough for Woe! It's time
  to get rid of it--but how?"

  He thought and thought, and hit on an idea. Going into the
  large yard, he cut two oaken wedges, took a new wheel, and
  drove a wedge firmly into one end of its axle-box. Then he
  went to where Woe was:

  "Hallo, Woe! why are you always idly sprawling there?"

  "Why, what is there left for me to do?"

  "What is there to do! let's go into the yard and play at

  Woe liked the idea. Out they went into the yard. First
  the merchant hid himself; Woe found him immediately. Then
  it was Woe's turn to hide.

  "Now then," says Woe, "you won't find me in a hurry!
  There isn't a chink I can't get into!"

  "Get along with you!" answered the merchant. "Why you
  couldn't creep into that wheel there, and yet you talk about

  "I can't creep into that wheel? See if I don't go clean out
  of sight in it!"

  Woe slipped into the wheel; the merchant caught up the
  oaken wedge, and drove it into the axle-box from the other
  side. Then he seized the wheel and flung it, with Woe in it,
  into the river. Woe was drowned, and the merchant began to
  live again as he had been wont to do of old.

In a variant of this story found in the Tula Government we have, in
the place of woe, _Nuzhda_, or Need. The poor brother and his wife are
returning home disconsolately from a party given by the rich brother
in honor of his son's marriage. But a draught of water which they take
by the way gets into their heads, and they set up a song.

"There are two of them singing (says the story), but three voices
prolong the strain.

"'Whoever is that?' say they.

"'Thy Need,' answers some one or other.

"'What, my good mother Need!'

"So saying the man laid hold of her, and took her down from his
shoulders--for she was sitting on them. And he found a horse's head
and put her inside it, and flung it into a swamp. And afterwards he
began to lead a new life--impossible to live more prosperously."

Of course the rich brother becomes envious and takes Need out of the
swamp, whereupon she clings to him so tightly that he cannot get rid
of her, and he becomes utterly ruined.[235]

In another story, from the Viatka Government, the poor man is invited
to a house-warming at his rich brother's, but he has no present to
take with him.

"We might borrow, but who would trust us?" says he.

"Why there's Need!" replies his wife with a bitter laugh. "Perhaps
she'll make us a present. Surely we've lived on friendly terms with
her for an age!"

"Take the feast-day sarafan,"[236] cries Need from behind the stove;
"and with the money you get for it buy a ham and take it to your

"Have you been living here long, Need?" asks the moujik.

"Yes, ever since you and your brother separated."

"And have you been comfortable here?"

"Thanks be to God, I get on tolerably!"

The moujik follows the advice of Need, but meets with a cold reception
at his brother's. On returning sadly home he finds a horse standing by
the road side, with a couple of bags slung across its back. He strikes
it with his glove, and it disappears, leaving behind it the bags,
which turn out to be full of gold. This he gathers up, and then goes
indoors. After finding out from his wife where she has taken up her
quarters for the night, he says:

"And where are you, Need?"

"In the pitcher which stands on the stove."

After a time the moujik asks his wife if she is asleep. "Not yet,"
she replies. Then he puts the same question to Need, who gives no
answer, having gone to sleep. So he takes his wife's last sarafan,
wraps up the pitcher in it, and flings the bundle into an

In one of the "chap-book" stories (a _lubochnaya skazka_), a poor man
"obtained a crust of bread and took it home to provide his wife and
boy with a meal, but just as he was beginning to cut it, suddenly out
from behind the stove jumped Kruchìna,[238] snatched the crust from
his hands, and fled back again behind the stove. Then the old man
began to bow down before Kruchìna and to beseech him[239] to give back
the bread, seeing that he and his had nothing to eat. Thereupon
Kruchìna replied, "I will not give you back your crust, but in return
for it I will make you a present of a duck which will lay a golden egg
every day," and kept his word.[240]

In Little-Russia the peasantry believe in the existence of small
beings, of vaguely defined form, called _Zluidni_ who bring _zlo_ or
evil to every habitation in which they take up their quarters. "May
the Zluidni strike him!" is a Little-Russian curse, and "The Zluidni
have got leave for three days; not in three years will you get rid of
them!" is a White-Russian proverb. In a Little-Russian skazka a poor
man catches a fish and takes it as a present to his rich brother, who
says, "A splendid fish! thank you, brother, thank you!" but evinces no
other sign of gratitude. On his way home the poor man meets an old
stranger and tells him his story--how he had taken his brother a fish
and had got nothing in return but a "thank ye."

"How!" cries the old man. "A _spasibo_[241] is no small thing. Sell it
to me!"

"How can one sell it?" replies the moujik. "Take it pray, as a

"So the _spasibo_ is mine!" says the old man, and disappears, leaving
in the peasant's hands a purse full of gold.

The peasant grows rich, and moves into another house. After a time his
wife says to him--

"We've been wrong, Ivan, in leaving our mill-stones in the old house.
They nourished us, you see, when we were poor; but now, when they're
no longer necessary to us, we've quite forgotten them!"

"Right you are," replies Ivan, and sets off to fetch them. When he
reaches his old dwelling, he hears a voice saying--

"A bad fellow, that Ivan! now he's rich, he's abandoned us!"

"Who are you?" asks Ivan. "I don't know you a bit."

"Not know us! you've forgotten our faithful service, it seems! Why,
we're your Zluidni!"

"God be with you!" says he. "I don't want you!"

"No, no! we will never part from you now!"

"Wait a bit!" thinks Ivan, and then continues aloud, "Very good, I'll
take you; but only on condition that you bring home my mill-stones for

So he laid the mill-stones on their backs, and made them go on in
front of him. They all had to pass along a bridge over a deep river;
the moujik managed to give the Zluidni a shove, and over they went,
mill-stones and all, and sank straight to the bottom.[242]

There is a very curious Servian story of two brothers, one of whom is
industrious and unlucky, and the other idle and prosperous. The poor
brother one day sees a flock of sheep, and near them a fair maiden
spinning a golden thread.

"Whose sheep are these?" he asks.

"The sheep are his whose I myself am," she replies.

"And whose art thou?" he asks.

"I am thy brother's Luck," she answers.

"But where is my Luck?" he continues

"Far away from thee is thy Luck," she replies.

"But can I find her?" he asks.

"Thou canst; go and seek her," she replies.

So the poor man wanders away in search of her. One day he sees a
grey-haired old woman asleep under an oak in a great forest, who
proves to be his Luck. He asks who it is that has given him such a
poor Luck, and is told that it is Fate. So he goes in search of Fate.
When he finds her, she is living at ease in a large house, but day by
day her riches wane and her house contracts. She explains to her
visitor that her condition at any given hour affects the whole lives
of all children born at that time, and that he had come into the world
at a most unpropitious moment; and she advises him to take his niece
Militsa (who had been born at a lucky time) to live in his house, and
to call all he might acquire her property. This advice he follows, and
all goes well with him. One day, as he is gazing at a splendid field
of corn, a stranger asks him to whom it belongs. In a forgetful moment
he replies, "It is mine," and immediately the whole crop begins to
burn. He runs after the stranger and cries, "Stop, brother! that field
isn't mine, but my niece Militsa's," whereupon the fire goes out and
the crop is saved.[243]

On this idea of a personal Fortune is founded the quaint opening of
one of the Russian stories. A certain peasant, known as Ivan the
Unlucky, in despair at his constant want of success, goes to the king
for advice. The king lays the matter before "his nobles and generals,"
but they can make nothing of it. At last the king's daughter enters
the council chamber and says, "This is my opinion, my father. If he
were to be married, the Lord might allot him another sort of Fortune."
The king flies into a passion and exclaims:

"Since you've settled the question better than all of us, go and marry
him yourself!"

The marriage takes place, and brings Ivan good luck along with

Similar references to a man's good or bad luck frequently occur in
the skazkas. Thus in one of them (from the Grodno Government) a poor
man meets "two ladies (_pannui_), and those ladies are--the one
Fortune and the other Misfortune."[245] He tells them how poor he is,
and they agree that it will be well to bestow something on him. "Since
he is one of yours," says Luck, "do you make him a present." At length
they take out ten roubles and give them to him. He hides the money in
a pot, and his wife gives it away to a neighbor. Again they assist
him, giving him twenty roubles, and again his wife gives them away
unwittingly. Then the ladies bestow on him two farthings (_groshi_),
telling him to give them to fishermen, and bid them make a cast "for
his luck." He obeys, and the result is the capture of a fish which
brings him in wealth.[246]

In another story[247] a young man, the son of a wealthy merchant, is
so unlucky that nothing will prosper with him. Having lost all that
his father has left him, he hires himself out, first as a laborer,
then as a herdsman. But as, in each capacity, he involves his masters
in heavy losses, he soon finds himself without employment. Then he
tries another country, in which the king gives him a post as a sort of
stoker in the royal distillery, which he soon all but burns down. The
king is at first bent upon punishing him, but pardons him after
hearing his sad tale. "He bestowed on him the name of Luckless,[248]
and gave orders that a stamp should be set on his forehead, that no
tolls or taxes should be demanded from him, and that wherever he
appeared he should be given free board and lodging, but that he should
never be allowed to stop more than twenty-four hours in any one
place." These orders are obeyed, and wherever Luckless goes, "nobody
ever asks him for his billet or his passport, but they give him food
to eat, and liquor to drink, and a place to spend the night in; and
next morning they take him by the scruff of the neck and turn him out
of doors."[249]

We will now turn from the forms under which popular fiction has
embodied some of the ideas connected with Fortune and Misfortune, to
another strange group of figures--the personifications of certain days
of the week. Of these, by far the most important is that of Friday.

The Russian name for that day, _Pyatnitsa_,[250] has no such
mythological significance as have our own Friday and the French
_Vendredi_. But the day was undoubtedly consecrated by the old
Slavonians to some goddess akin to Venus or Freyja, and her worship in
ancient times accounts for the superstitions now connected with the
name of Friday. According to Afanasief,[251] the Carinthian name for
the day, _Sibne dan_, is a clear proof that it was once holy to Siva,
the Lithuanian Seewa, the Slavonic goddess answering to Ceres. In
Christian times the personality of the goddess (by whatever name she
may have been known) to whom Friday was consecrated became merged in
that of St. Prascovia, and she is now frequently addressed by the
compound name of "Mother Pyatnitsa-Prascovia." As she is supposed to
wander about the houses of the peasants on her holy day, and to be
offended if she finds certain kinds of work going on, they are (or at
least they used to be) frequently suspended on Fridays. It is a sin,
says a time-honored tradition, for a woman to sew, or spin, or weave,
or buck linen on a Friday, and similarly for a man to plait bast
shoes, twine cord, and the like. Spinning and weaving are especially
obnoxious to "Mother Friday," for the dust and refuse thus produced
injure her eyes. When this takes place, she revenges herself by
plagues of sore-eyes, whitlows and agnails. In some places the
villagers go to bed early on Friday evening, believing that "St.
Pyatinka" will punish all whom she finds awake when she roams through
the cottage. In others they sweep their floors every Thursday evening,
that she may not be annoyed by dust or the like when she comes next
day. Sometimes, however, she has been seen, says the popular voice,
"all pricked with the needles and pierced by the spindles" of the
careless woman who sewed and spun on the day they ought to have kept
holy in her honor. As for any work begun on a Friday, it is sure to go

These remarks will be sufficient to render intelligible the following
story of--


  There was once a certain woman who did not pay due reverence
  to Mother Friday, but set to work on a distaff-ful of flax,
  combing and whirling it. She span away till dinner-time, then
  suddenly sleep fell upon her--such a deep sleep! And when
  she had gone to sleep, suddenly the door opened and in came
  Mother Friday, before the eyes of all who were there, clad in a
  white dress, and in such a rage! And she went straight up to
  the woman who had been spinning, scooped up from the floor a
  handful of the dust that had fallen out of the flax, and began stuffing
  and stuffing that woman's eyes full of it! And when she had
  stuffed them full, she went off in a rage--disappeared without
  saying a word.

  When the woman awoke, she began squalling at the top of
  her voice about her eyes, but couldn't tell what was the matter
  with them. The other women, who had been terribly frightened,
  began to cry out:

  "Oh, you wretch, you! you've brought a terrible punishment
  on yourself from Mother Friday."

  Then they told her all that had taken place. She listened to
  it all, and then began imploringly:

  "Mother Friday, forgive me! pardon me, the guilty one!
  I'll offer thee a taper, and I'll never let friend or foe dishonor
  thee, Mother!"

  Well, what do you think? During the night, back came
  Mother Friday and took the dust out of that woman's eyes, so
  that she was able to get about again. It's a great sin to dishonor
  Mother Friday--combing and spinning flax, forsooth!

Very similar to this story is that about Wednesday which follows.
Wednesday, the day consecrated to Odin, the eve of the day sacred to
the Thundergod,[254] may also have been held holy by the heathen
Slavonians, but to some commentators it appears more likely that the
traditions now attached to it in Russia became transferred to it from
Friday in Christian times--Wednesday and Friday having been associated
by the Church as days sacred to the memory of Our Lord's passion and
death. The Russian name for the day, _Sereda_ or _Sreda_, means "the
middle," Wednesday being the middle of the working week.


  A young housewife was spinning late one evening. It was during
  the night between a Tuesday and a Wednesday. She had
  been left alone for a long time, and after midnight, when the
  first cock crew, she began to think about going to bed, only she
  would have liked to finish spinning what she had in hand. "Well,"
  thinks she, "I'll get up a bit earlier in the morning, but just
  now I want to go to sleep." So she laid down her hatchel--but
  without crossing herself--and said:

  "Now then, Mother Wednesday, lend me thy aid, that I may
  get up early in the morning and finish my spinning." And then
  she went to sleep.

  Well, very early in the morning, long before it was light, she
  heard some one moving, bustling about the room. She opened
  her eyes and looked. The room was lighted up. A splinter of
  fir was burning in the cresset, and the fire was lighted in the
  stove. A woman, no longer young, wearing a white towel by
  way of head-dress, was moving about the cottage, going to and
  fro, supplying the stove with firewood, getting everything ready.
  Presently she came up to the young woman, and roused her, saying,
  "Get up!" The young woman got up, full of wonder, saying:

  "But who art thou? What hast thou come here for?"

  "I am she on whom thou didst call. I have come to thy aid."

  "But who art thou? On whom did I call?"

  "I am Wednesday. On Wednesday surely thou didst call.
  See, I have spun thy linen and woven thy web: now let us bleach
  it and set it in the oven. The oven is heated and the irons are
  ready; do thou go down to the brook and draw water."

  The woman was frightened, and thought: "What manner of
  thing is this?" (or, "How can that be?") but Wednesday glared
  at her angrily; her eyes just did sparkle!

  So the woman took a couple of pails and went for water. As
  soon as she was outside the door she thought: "Mayn't something
  terrible happen to me? I'd better go to my neighbor's instead
  of fetching the water." So she set off. The night was
  dark. In the village all were still asleep. She reached a neighbor's
  house, and rapped away at the window until at last she
  made herself heard. An aged woman let her in.

  "Why, child!" says the old crone; "whatever hast thou got
  up so early for? What's the matter?"

  "Oh, granny, this is how it was. Wednesday has come to me,
  and has sent me for water to buck my linen with."

  "That doesn't look well," says the old crone. "On that linen
  she will either strangle thee or scald[256] thee."

  The old woman was evidently well acquainted with Wednesday's

  "What am I to do?" says the young woman. "How can I
  escape from this danger?"

  "Well, this is what thou must do. Go and beat thy pails together
  in front of the house, and cry, 'Wednesday's children
  have been burnt at sea!'[257] She will run out of the house, and
  do thou be sure to seize the opportunity to get into it before she
  comes back, and immediately slam the door to, and make the
  sign of the cross over it. Then don't let her in, however much
  she may threaten you or implore you, but sign a cross with your
  hands, and draw one with a piece of chalk, and utter a prayer.
  The Unclean Spirit will have to disappear."

  Well, the young woman ran home, beat the pails together,
  and cried out beneath the window:

  "Wednesday's children have been burnt at sea!"

  Wednesday rushed out of the house and ran to look, and the
  woman sprang inside, shut the door, and set a cross upon it.
  Wednesday came running back, and began crying: "Let me in,
  my dear! I have spun thy linen; now will I bleach it." But the
  woman would not listen to her, so Wednesday went on knocking
  at the door until cock-crow. As soon as the cocks crew, she
  uttered a shrill cry and disappeared. But the linen remained
  where it was.[258]

In one of the numerous legends which the Russian peasants hold in
reverence, St. Petka or Friday appears among the other saints, and
together with her is mentioned another canonized day, St. Nedélya or
Sunday,[259] answering to the Greek St. Anastasia, to _Der heilige
Sonntag_ of German peasant-hagiology. In some respects she resembles
both Friday and Wednesday, sharing their views about spinning and
weaving at unfitting seasons. Thus in Little-Russia she assures
untimely spinners that it is not flax they are spinning, but her hair,
and in proof of this she shows them her dishevelled _kosa_, or long
back plait.

In one of the Wallachian tales[260] the hero is assisted in his
search after the dragon-stolen heroine by three supernatural
females--the holy Mothers Friday, Wednesday, and Sunday. They replace
the three benignant Baba Yagas of Russian stories. In another,[261]
the same three beings assist the Wallachian Psyche when she is
wandering in quest of her lost husband. Mother Sunday rules the animal
world, and can collect her subjects by playing on a magic flute. She
is represented as exercising authority over both birds and beasts, and
in a Slovak story she bestows on the hero a magic horse. He has been
sent by an unnatural mother in search of various things hard to be
obtained, but he is assisted in the quest by St. Nedĕlka, who
provides him with various magical implements, and lends him her own
steed Tatoschik, and so enables him four times to escape from the
perils to which he has been exposed by his mother, whose mind has been
entirely corrupted by an insidious dragon. But after he has returned
home in safety, his mother binds him as if in sport, and the dragon
chops off his head and cuts his body to pieces. His mother retains his
heart, but ties up the rest of him in a bundle, and sets it on
Tatoschik's back. The steed carries its ghastly burden to St.
Nedĕlka, who soon reanimates it, and the youth becomes as sound and
vigorous as a young man without a heart can be. Then the saint sends
him, under the disguise of a begging piper, to the castle in which his
mother dwells, and instructs him how to get his heart back again. He
succeeds, and carries it in his hand to St. Nedĕlka. She gives it
to "the bird Pelekan (no mere Pelican, but a magic fowl with a very
long and slim neck), which puts its head down the youth's throat, and
restores his heart to its right place."[262]

St. Friday and St. Wednesday appear to belong to that class of
spiritual beings, sometimes of a demoniacal disposition, with which
the imagination of the old Slavonians peopled the elements. Of several
of these--such as the Domovoy or House-Spirit, the Rusalka or Naiad,
and the Vodyany or Water-Sprite--I have written at some length
elsewhere,[263] and therefore I will not at present quote any of the
stories in which they figure. But, as a specimen of the class to which
such tales as these belong, here is a skazka about one of the
wood-sprites or Slavonic Satyrs, who are still believed by the
peasants to haunt the forests of Russia. In it we see reduced to a
vulgar form, and brought into accordance with everyday peasant-life,
the myth which appears to have given rise to the endless stories about
the theft and recovery of queens and princesses. The leading idea of
the story is the same, but the Snake or Koshchei has become a paltry
wood-demon, the hero is a mere hunter, and the princely heroine has
sunk to the low estate of a priest's daughter.

  THE LÉSHY.[264]

  A certain priest's daughter went strolling in the forest one day,
  without having obtained leave from her father or her mother--and
  she disappeared utterly. Three years went by. Now in
  the village in which her parents dwelt there lived a bold hunter,
  who went daily roaming through the thick woods with his dog and
  his gun. One day he was going through the forest; all of a sudden
  his dog began to bark, and the hair of its back bristled up.
  The sportsman looked, and saw lying in the woodland path before
  him a log, and on the log there sat a moujik plaiting a bast
  shoe. And as he plaited the shoe, he kept looking up at the
  moon, and saying with a menacing gesture:--

  "Shine, shine, O bright moon!"

  The sportsman was astounded. "How comes it," thinks he,
  "that the moujik looks like that?--he is still young; but his
  hair is grey as a badger's."[265]

  He only thought these words, but the other replied, as if
  guessing what he meant:--

  "Grey am I, being the devil's grandfather!"[266]

  Then the sportsman guessed that he had before him no mere
  moujik, but a Léshy. He levelled his gun and--bang! he let
  him have it right in the paunch. The Léshy groaned, and
  seemed to be going to fall across the log; but directly afterwards
  he got up and dragged himself into the thickets. After
  him ran the dog in pursuit, and after the dog followed the sportsman.
  He walked and walked, and came to a hill: in that hill
  was a fissure, and in the fissure stood a hut. He entered the
  hut--there on a bench lay the Léshy stone dead, and by his
  side a damsel, exclaiming, amid bitter tears:--

  "Who now will give me to eat and to drink?"

  "Hail, fair maiden!" says the hunter. "Tell me whence
  thou comest, and whose daughter thou art?"

  "Ah, good youth! I know not that myself, any more than if
  I had never seen the free light--never known a father and

  "Well, get ready as soon as you can. I will take you back
  to Holy Russia."

  So he took her away with him, and brought her out of the
  forest. And all the way he went along, he cut marks on the
  trees. Now this damsel had been carried off by the Léshy, and
  had lived in his hut for three years--her clothes were all worn
  out, or had got torn off her back, so that she was stark naked
  but she wasn't a bit ashamed of that. When they reached the
  village, the sportsman began asking whether there was any one
  there who had lost a girl. Up came the priest, and cried, "Why,
  that's my daughter." Up came running the priest's wife, and

  "O thou dear child! where hast thou been so long? I had
  no hope of ever seeing thee again."

  But the girl gazed and just blinked with her eyes, understanding
  nothing. After a time, however, she began slowly to come
  back to her senses. Then the priest and his wife gave her in
  marriage to the hunter, and rewarded him with all sorts of good
  things. And they went in search of the hut in which she had
  lived while she was with the Léshy. Long did they wander
  about the forest; but that hut they never found.

To another group of personifications belong those of the Rivers. About
them many stories are current, generally having reference to their
alleged jealousies and disputes. Thus it is said that when God was
allotting their shares to the rivers, the Desna did not come in time,
and so failed to obtain precedence over the Dnieper.

"Try and get before him yourself," said the Lord.

The Desna set off at full speed, but in spite of all her attempts, the
Dnieper always kept ahead of her until he fell into the sea, where the
Desna was obliged to join him.[267]

About the Volga and its affluent, the Vazuza, the following story is


  Volga and Vazuza had a long dispute as to which was the wiser,
  the stronger, and the more worthy of high respect. They wrangled
  and wrangled, but neither could gain the mastery in the dispute,
  so they decided upon the following course:--

  "Let us lie down together to sleep," they said, "and whichever
  of us is the first to rise, and the quickest to reach the Caspian
  Sea, she shall be held to be the wiser of us two, and the
  stronger and the worthier of respect."

  So Volga lay down to sleep; down lay Vazuza also. But
  during the night Vazuza rose silently, fled away from Volga,
  chose the nearest and the straightest line, and flowed away.
  When Volga awoke, she set off neither slowly nor hurriedly, but
  with just befitting speed. At Zubtsof she came up with Vazuza. So
  threatening was her mien, that Vazuza was frightened, declared
  herself to be Volga's younger sister, and besought Volga to take
  her in her arms and bear her to the Caspian Sea. And so to
  this day Vazuza is the first to awake in the Spring, and then she
  arouses Volga from her wintry sleep.

In the Government of Tula a similar tradition is current about the Don
and the Shat, both of which flow out of Lake Ivan.

Lake Ivan had two sons, Shat and Don. Shat, contrary to his father's
wishes, wanted to roam abroad, so he set out on his travels, but go
whither he would, he could get received nowhere. So, after fruitless
wanderings, he returned home.

But Don, in return for his constant quietness (the river is known as
"the quiet Don"), obtained his father's blessing, and he boldly set
out on a long journey. On the way, he met a raven, and asked it where
it was flying.

"To the blue sea," answered the raven.

"Let's go together!"

Well, they reached the sea. Don thought to himself, "If I dive right
through the sea, I shall carry it away with me."

"Raven!" he said, "do me a service. I am going to plunge into the sea,
but do you fly over to the other side and as soon as you reach the
opposite shore, give a croak."

Don plunged into the sea. The raven flew and croaked--but too soon.
Don remained just as he appears at the present day.[269]

In White-Russia there is a legend about two rivers, the beginning of
which has evidently been taken from the story of Jacob and Esau:--


  There was once a blind old man called Dvina. He had
  two sons--the elder called Sozh, and the younger Dnieper.
  Sozh was of a boisterous turn, and went roving about the forests,
  the hills, and the plains; but Dnieper was remarkably
  sweet-tempered, and he spent all his time at home, and was his
  mother's favorite. Once, when Sozh was away from home, the
  old father was deceived by his wife into giving the elder son's
  blessing to the younger son. Thus spake Dvina while blessing

  "Dissolve, my son, into a wide and deep river. Flow past
  towns, and bathe villages without number as far as the blue sea.
  Thy brother shall be thy servant. Be rich and prosperous to
  the end of time!"

  Dnieper turned into a river, and flowed through fertile meadows
  and dreamy woods. But after three days, Sozh returned
  home and began to complain.

  "If thou dost desire to become superior to thy brother,"
  said his father, "speed swiftly by hidden ways, through dark
  untrodden forests, and if thou canst outstrip thy brother, he will
  have to be thy servant!"

  Away sped Sozh on the chase, through untrodden places,
  washing away swamps, cutting out gullies, tearing up oaks by
  the roots. The Vulture[270] told Dnieper of this, and he put on
  extra speed, tearing his way through high hills rather than turn
  on one side. Meanwhile Sozh persuaded the Raven to fly
  straight to Dnieper, and, as soon as it had come up with him
  to croak three times; he himself was to burrow under the earth,
  intending to leap to the surface at the cry of the Raven, and by
  that means to get before his brother. But the Vulture fell on
  the Raven; the Raven began to croak before it had caught up
  the river Dnieper. Up burst Sozh from underground, and fell
  straight into the waves of the Dnieper.[271]

Here is an account of--


  The Dnieper, Volga, and Dvina used once to be living people.
  The Dnieper was a boy, and the Volga and Dvina his sisters.
  While they were still in childhood they were left complete orphans,
  and, as they hadn't a crust to eat, they were obliged to
  get their living by daily labor beyond their strength. "When
  was that?" Very long ago, say the old folks; beyond the
  memory even of our great-grandfathers.

  Well, the children grew up, but they never had even the
  slightest bit of good luck. Every day, from morn till eve, it was
  always toil and toil, and all merely for the day's subsistence. As
  for their clothing, it was just what God sent them! They sometimes
  found rags on the dust-heaps, and with these they managed
  to cover their bodies. The poor things had to endure cold and
  hunger. Life became a burden to them.[273]

  One day, after toiling hard afield, they sat down under a bush
  to eat their last morsel of bread. And when they had eaten it,
  they cried and sorrowed for a while, and considered and held
  counsel together as to how they might manage to live, and to
  have food and clothing, and, without toiling, to supply others
  with meat and drink. Well, this is what they resolved: to set
  out wandering about the wide world in search of good luck and
  a kindly welcome, and to look for and find out the best places
  in which they could turn into great rivers--for that was a possible
  thing then.

  Well, they walked and walked; not one year only, nor two
  years, but all but three; and they chose the places they wanted,
  and came to an agreement as to where the flowing of each one
  should begin. And all three of them stopped to spend the night
  in a swamp. But the sisters were more cunning than their
  brother. No sooner was Dnieper asleep than they rose up
  quietly, chose the best and most sloping places, and began to
  flow away.

  When the brother awoke in the morning, not a trace of his
  sisters was to be seen. Then he became wroth, and made
  haste to pursue them. But on the way he bethought himself,
  and decided that no man can run faster than a river. So he
  smote the ground, and flowed in pursuit as a stream. Through
  gullies and ravines he rushed, and the further he went the
  fiercer did he become. But when he came within a few versts
  of the sea-shore, his anger calmed down and he disappeared in
  the sea. And his two sisters, who had continued running from
  him during his pursuit, separated in different directions and fled
  to the bottom of the sea. But while the Dnieper was rushing
  along in anger, he drove his way between steep banks. Therefore
  is it that his flow is swifter than that of the Volga and the
  Dvina; therefore also is it that he has many rapids and many

There is a small stream which falls into Lake Ilmen on its western
side, and which is called Chorny Ruchei, the Black Brook. On the banks
of this brook, a long time ago, a certain man set up a mill, and the
fish came and implored the stream to grant them its aid, saying, "We
used to have room enough and be at our ease, but now an evil man is
taking away the water from us." And the result was this. One of the
inhabitants of Novgorod was angling in the brook Chorny. Up came a
stranger to him, dressed all in black, who greeted him, and said:--

"Do me a service, and I will show thee a place where the fish swarm."

"What is the service?"

"When thou art in Novgorod, thou wilt meet a tall, big moujik in a
plaited blue caftan, wide blue trowsers, and a high blue hat. Say to
him, 'Uncle Ilmen! the Chorny has sent thee a petition, and has told
me to say that a mill has been set in his way. As thou may'st think
fit to order, so shall it be!'"

The Novgorod man promised to fulfil this request, and the black
stranger showed him a place where the fish swarmed by thousands. With
rich booty did the fisherman return to Novgorod, where he met the
moujik with the blue caftan, and gave him the petition. The Ilmen

"Give my compliments to the brook Chorny, and say to him about the
mill: there used not to be one, and so there shall not be one!"

This commission also the Novgorod man fulfilled, and behold! during
the night the brook Chorny ran riotous, Lake Ilmen waxed boisterous, a
tempest arose, and the raging waters swept away the mill.[274]

In old times sacrifices were regularly paid to lakes and streams in
Russia, just as they were in Germany[275] and in other lands. And even
at the present day the common people are in the habit of expressing,
by some kind of offering, their thanks to a river on which they have
made a prosperous voyage. It is said that Stenka Razin, the insurgent
chief of the Don Cossacks in the seventeenth century, once offered a
human sacrifice to the Volga. Among his captives was a Persian
princess, to whom he was warmly attached. But one day "when he was
fevered with wine, as he sat at the ship's side and musingly regarded
the waves, he said: 'Oh, Mother Volga, thou great river! much hast
thou given me of gold and of silver, and of all good things; thou hast
nursed me, and nourished me, and covered me with glory and honor. But
I have in no way shown thee my gratitude. Here is somewhat for thee;
take it!' And with these words he caught up the princess and flung her
into the water."[276]

Just as rivers might be conciliated by honor and sacrifice, so they
could be irritated by disrespect. One of the old songs tells how a
youth comes riding to the Smorodina, and beseeches that stream to show
him a ford. His prayer is granted, and he crosses to the other side.
Then he takes to boasting, and says, "People talk about the Smorodina,
saying that no one can cross it whether on foot or on horseback--but
it is no better than a pool of rain-water!" But when the time comes
for him to cross back again, the river takes its revenge, and drowns
him in its depths, saying the while: "It is not I, but thy own
boasting that drowns thee."

From these vocal rivers we will now turn to that elementary force by
which in winter they are often rendered mute. In the story which is
now about to be quoted will be found a striking personification of
Frost. As a general rule, Winter plays by no means so important a part
as might have been expected in Northern tales. As in other European
countries, so in Russia, the romantic stories of the people are full
of pictures bathed in warm sunlight, but they do not often represent
the aspect of the land when the sky is grey, and the earth is a sheet
of white, and outdoor life is sombre and still. Here and there, it is
true, glimpses of snowy landscapes are offered by the skazkas. But it
is seldom that a wintry effect is so deliberately produced in them as
is the case in the following remarkable version of a well-known tale.


  There was once an old man who had a wife and three daughters.
  The wife had no love for the eldest of the three, who
  was her stepdaughter, but was always scolding her. Moreover,
  she used to make her get up ever so early in the morning, and
  gave her all the work of the house to do. Before daybreak the
  girl would feed the cattle and give them to drink, fetch wood
  and water indoors, light the fire in the stove, give the room a
  wash, mend the dresses, and set everything in order. Even
  then her stepmother was never satisfied, but would grumble
  away at Marfa, exclaiming:--

  "What a lazybones! what a slut! Why here's a brush not
  in its place, and there's something put wrong, and she's left the
  muck inside the house!"

  The girl held her peace, and wept; she tried in every way to
  accommodate herself to her stepmother, and to be of service to
  her stepsisters. But they, taking pattern by their mother, were
  always insulting Marfa, quarrelling with her, and making her
  cry: that was even a pleasure to them! As for them, they lay
  in bed late, washed themselves in water got ready for them,
  dried themselves with a clean towel, and didn't sit down to
  work till after dinner.

  Well, our girls grew and grew, until they grew up and were
  old enough to be married. The old man felt sorry for his eldest
  daughter, whom he loved because she was industrious and
  obedient, never was obstinate, always did as she was bid, and
  never uttered a word of contradiction. But he didn't know how
  he was to help her in her trouble. He was feeble, his wife was
  a scold, and her daughters were as obstinate as they were

  Well, the old folks set to work to consider--the husband
  how he could get his daughters settled, the wife how she could
  get rid of the eldest one. One day she says to him:--

  "I say, old man! let's get Marfa married."

  "Gladly," says he, slinking off (to the sleeping-place) above
  the stove. But his wife called after him:--

  "Get up early to-morrow, old man, harness the mare to the
  sledge, and drive away with Marfa. And, Marfa, get your
  things together in a basket, and put on a clean shift; you're
  going away to-morrow on a visit."

  Poor Marfa was delighted to hear of such a piece of good
  luck as being invited on a visit, and she slept comfortably all
  night. Early next morning she got up, washed herself, prayed
  to God, got all her things together, packed them away in proper
  order, dressed herself (in her best things), and looked something
  like a lass!--a bride fit for any place whatsoever!

  Now it was winter time, and out of doors was a rattling
  frost. Early in the morning, between daybreak and sunrise,
  the old man harnessed the mare to the sledge, and led it up to
  the steps. Then he went indoors, sat down on the window-sill,
  and said:--

  "Now then! I've got everything ready."

  "Sit down to table and swallow your victuals!" replied the
  old woman.

  The old man sat down to table, and made his daughter sit
  by his side. On the table stood a pannier; he took out a loaf,[278]
  and cut bread for himself and his daughter. Meantime his
  wife served up a dish of old cabbage soup, and said:--

  "There, my pigeon, eat and be off; I've looked at you quite
  enough! Drive Marfa to her bridegroom, old man. And look
  here, old greybeard! drive straight along the road at first, and
  then turn off from the road to the right, you know, into the
  forest--right up to the big pine that stands on the hill, and there
  hand Marfa over to Morozko (Frost)."

  The old man opened his eyes wide, also his mouth, and
  stopped eating, and the girl began lamenting.

  "Now then, what are you hanging your chaps and squealing
  about?" said her stepmother. "Surely your bridegroom is a
  beauty, and he's that rich! Why, just see what a lot of things
  belong to him, the firs, the pine-tops, and the birches, all in
  their robes of down--ways and means that any one might envy;
  and he himself a _bogatir_!"[279]

  The old man silently placed the things on the sledge, made
  his daughter put on a warm pelisse, and set off on the journey.
  After a time, he reached the forest, turned off from the road;
  and drove across the frozen snow.[280] When he got into the
  depths of the forest, he stopped, made his daughter get out,
  laid her basket under the tall pine, and said:--

  "Sit here, and await the bridegroom. And mind you receive
  him as pleasantly as you can."

  Then he turned his horse round and drove off homewards.

  The girl sat and shivered. The cold had pierced her through.
  She would fain have cried aloud, but she had not strength
  enough; only her teeth chattered. Suddenly she heard a
  sound. Not far off, Frost was cracking away on a fir. From
  fir to fir was he leaping, and snapping his fingers. Presently he
  appeared on that very pine under which the maiden was sitting
  and from above her head he cried:--

  "Art thou warm, maiden?"

  "Warm, warm am I, dear Father Frost," she replied.

  Frost began to descend lower, all the more cracking and
  snapping his fingers. To the maiden said Frost:--

  "Art thou warm, maiden? Art thou warm, fair one?"

  The girl could scarcely draw her breath, but still she replied:

  "Warm am I, Frost dear: warm am I, father dear!"

  Frost began cracking more than ever, and more loudly did
  he snap his fingers, and to the maiden he said:--

  "Art thou warm, maiden? Art thou warm, pretty one?
  Art thou warm, my darling?"

  The girl was by this time numb with cold, and she could
  scarcely make herself heard as she replied:--

  "Oh! quite warm, Frost dearest!"

  Then Frost took pity on the girl, wrapped her up in furs,
  and warmed her with blankets.

  Next morning the old woman said to her husband:--

  "Drive out, old greybeard, and wake the young couple!"

  The old man harnessed his horse and drove off. When he
  came to where his daughter was, he found she was alive and had
  got a good pelisse, a costly bridal veil, and a pannier with rich
  gifts. He stowed everything away on the sledge without saying
  a word, took his seat on it with his daughter, and drove back.
  They reached home, and the daughter fell at her stepmother's
  feet. The old woman was thunderstruck when she saw the girl
  alive, and the new pelisse and the basket of linen.

  "Ah, you wretch!" she cries. "But you shan't trick me!"

  Well, a little later the old woman says to her husband:--

  "Take my daughters, too, to their bridegroom. The presents
  he's made are nothing to what he'll give them."

  Well, early next morning the old woman gave her girls their
  breakfast, dressed them as befitted brides, and sent them off on
  their journey. In the same way as before the old man left the
  girls under the pine.

  There the girls sat, and kept laughing and saying:

  "Whatever is mother thinking of! All of a sudden to marry
  both of us off! As if there were no lads in our village, forsooth!
  Some rubbishy fellow may come, and goodness knows who he
  may be!"

  The girls were wrapped up in pelisses, but for all that they
  felt the cold.

  "I say, Prascovia! the frost's skinning me alive. Well, if
  our bridegroom[281] doesn't come quick, we shall be frozen to
  death here!"

  "Don't go talking nonsense, Mashka; as if suitors[282] generally
  turned up in the forenoon. Why it's hardly dinner-time

  "But I say, Prascovia! if only one comes, which of us will
  he take?"

  "Not you, you stupid goose!"

  "Then it will be you, I suppose!"

  "Of course it will be me!"

  "You, indeed! there now, have done talking stuff and
  treating people like fools!"

  Meanwhile, Frost had numbed the girl's hands, so our
  damsels folded them under their dress, and then went on
  quarrelling as before.

  "What, you fright! you sleepy-face! you abominable shrew!
  why, you don't know so much as how to begin weaving: and as
  to going on with it, you haven't an idea!"

  "Aha, boaster! and what is it you know? Why, nothing at
  all except to go out to merry-makings and lick your lips there.
  We'll soon see which he'll take first!"

  While the girls went on scolding like that, they began to
  freeze in downright earnest. Suddenly they both cried out at

  "Whyever is he so long coming. Do you know, you've turned
  quite blue!"

  Now, a good way off, Frost had begun cracking, snapping
  his fingers, and leaping from fir to fir. To the girls it sounded
  as if some one was coming.

  "Listen, Prascovia! He's coming at last, and with bells,

  "Get along with you! I won't listen; my skin is peeling
  with cold."

  "And yet you're still expecting to get married!"

  Then they began blowing on their fingers.

  Nearer and nearer came Frost. At length he appeared on
  the pine, above the heads of the girls, and said to them:

  "Are ye warm, maidens? Are ye warm, pretty ones? Are
  ye warm, my darlings?"

  "Oh, Frost, it's awfully cold! we're utterly perished!
  We're expecting a bridegroom, but the confounded fellow has

  Frost slid lower down the tree, cracked away more, snapped
  his fingers oftener than before.

  "Are ye warm, maidens? Are ye warm, pretty ones?"

  "Get along with you! Are you blind that you can't see our
  hands and feet are quite dead?"

  Still lower descended Frost, still more put forth his might,[283]
  and said:

  "Are ye warm, maidens?"

  "Into the bottomless pit with you! Out of sight, accursed
  one!" cried the girls--and became lifeless forms.[284]

  Next morning the old woman said to her husband:

  "Old man, go and get the sledge harnessed; put an armful
  of hay in it, and take some sheep-skin wraps. I daresay the
  girls are half-dead with cold. There's a terrible frost outside!
  And, mind you, old greybeard, do it quickly!"

  Before the old man could manage to get a bite he was out of
  doors and on his way. When he came to where his daughters
  were, he found them dead. So he lifted the girls on to the
  sledge, wrapped a blanket round them, and covered them up
  with a bark mat. The old woman saw him from afar, ran out
  to meet him, and called out ever so loud:

  "Where are the girls?"

  "In the sledge."

  The old woman lifted the mat, undid the blanket, and found
  the girls both dead.

  Then, like a thunderstorm, she broke out against her husband,
  abusing him saying:

  "What have you done, you old wretch? You have destroyed
  my daughters, the children of my own flesh and blood, my
  never-enough-to-be-gazed-on seedlings, my beautiful berries! I
  will thrash you with the tongs; I will give it you with the stove-rake."

  "That's enough, you old goose! You flattered yourself
  you were going to get riches, but your daughters were too stiff-necked.
  How was I to blame? it was you yourself would
  have it."

  The old woman was in a rage at first, and used bad language;
  but afterwards she made it up with her stepdaughter,
  and they all lived together peaceably, and thrived, and bore no
  malice. A neighbor made an offer of marriage, the wedding
  was celebrated, and Marfa is now living happily. The old man
  frightens his grandchildren with (stories about) Frost, and
  doesn't let them have their own way.

In a variant from the Kursk Government (Afanasief IV. No. 42. _b_),
the stepdaughter is left by her father "in the open plain." There she
sits, "trembling and silently offering up a prayer." Frost draws near,
intending "to smite her and to freeze her to death." But when he says
to her, "Maiden, maiden, I am Frost the Red-Nosed," she replies
"Welcome, Frost; doubtless God has sent you for my sinful soul."
Pleased by her "wise words," Frost throws a warm cloak over her, and
afterwards presents her with "robes embroidered with silver and gold,
and a chest containing rich dowry." The girl puts on the robes, and
appears "such a beauty!" Then she sits on the chest and sings songs.
Meantime her stepmother is baking cakes and preparing for her funeral.
After a time her father sets out in search of her dead body. But the
dog beneath the table barks--"Taff! Taff! The master's daughter in
silver and gold by the wedding party is borne along, but the
mistress's daughter is wooed by none!" In vain does its mistress throw
it a cake, and order it to modify its remarks. It eats the cake, but
it repeats its offensive observations, until the stepdaughter appears
in all her glory. Then the old woman's own daughter is sent afield.
Frost comes to have a look at his new guest, expecting "wise words"
from her too. But as none are forthcoming, he waxes wroth, and kills
her. When the old man goes to fetch her, the dog barks--"Taff! Taff!
The master's daughter will be borne along by the bridal train, but the
bones of the mistress's daughter are being carried in a bag," and
continues to bark in the same strain until the yard-gates open. The
old woman runs out to greet her daughter, and "instead of her embraces
a cold corpse."

To the Russian peasants, it should be observed, Moroz, our own Jack
Frost, is a living personage. On Christmas Eve it is customary for the
oldest man in each family to take a spoonful of kissel, a sort of
pudding, and then, having put his head through the window, to cry:

"Frost, Frost, come and eat kissel! Frost, Frost, do not kill our
oats! drive our flax and hemp deep into the ground."

The Tcheremisses have similar ideas, and are afraid of knocking the
icicles off their houses, thinking that, if they do so, Frost will wax
wroth and freeze them to death. In one of the Skazkas, a peasant goes
out one day to a field of buckwheat, and finds it all broken down. He
goes home, and tells the bad news to his wife, who says, "It is Frost
who has done this. Go and find him, and make him pay for the damage!"
So the peasant goes into the forest and, after wandering about for
some time, lights upon a path which leads him to a cottage made of
ice, covered with snow, and hung with icicles. He knocks at the door,
and out comes an old man--"all white." This is Frost, who presents him
with the magic cudgel and table-cloth which work wonders in so many of
the tales.[285] In another story, a peasant meets the Sun, the Wind,
and the Frost. He bows to all three, but adds an extra salutation to
the Wind. This enrages the two others, and the Sun cries out that he
will burn up the peasant. But the Wind says, "I will blow cold, and
temper the heat." Then the Frost threatens to freeze the peasant to
death, but the Wind comforts him, saying, "I will blow warm, and will
not let you be hurt."[286]

Sometimes the Frost is described by the people as a mighty smith who
forges strong chains with which to bind the earth and the waters--as
in the saying "The Old One has built a bridge without axe and without
knife," _i.e._, the river is frozen over. Sometimes Moroz-Treskun, the
Crackling Frost, is spoken of without disguise as the preserver of the
hero who is ordered to enter a bath which has been heated red-hot.
Frost goes into the bath, and breathes with so icy a breath that the
heat of the building turns at once to cold.[287]

The story in which Frost so singularly figures is one which is known
in many lands, and of which many variants are current in Russia. The
jealous hatred of a stepmother, who exposes her stepdaughter to some
great peril, has been made the theme of countless tales. What gives
its special importance, as well as its poetical charm, to the skazka
which has been quoted, is the introduction of Frost as the power to
which the stepmother has recourse for the furtherance of her murderous
plans, and by which she, in the persons of her own daughters, is
ultimately punished. We have already dealt with one specimen of the
skazkas of this class, the story of Vasilissa, who is sent to the Baba
Yaga's for a light. Another, still more closely connected with that of
"Frost," occurs in Khudyakof's collection.[288]

A certain woman ordered her husband (says the story) to make away with
his daughter by a previous marriage. So he took the girl into the
forest, and left her in a kind of hut, telling her to prepare some
soup while he was cutting wood. "At that time there was a gale
blowing. The old man tied a log to a tree; when the wind blew, the log
rattled. She thought the old man was going on cutting wood, but in
reality he had gone away home."

When the soup was ready, she called out to her father to come to
dinner. No reply came from him, "but there was a human head in the
forest, and it replied, 'I'm coming immediately!' And when the Head
arrived, it cried, 'Maiden, open the door!' She opened it. 'Maiden,
Maiden! lift me over the threshold!' She lifted it over. 'Maiden,
Maiden! put the dinner on the table!' She did so, and she and the Head
sat down to dinner. When they had dined, 'Maiden, Maiden!' said the
Head, 'take me off the bench!' She took it off the bench, and cleared
the table. It lay down to sleep on the bare floor; she lay on the
bench. She fell asleep, but it went into the forest after its
servants. The house became bigger; servants, horses, everything one
could think of suddenly appeared. The servants came to the maiden, and
said, 'Get up! it's time to go for a drive!' So she got into a
carriage with the Head, but she took a cock along with her. She told
the cock to crow; it crowed. Again she told it to crow; it crowed
again. And a third time she told it to crow. When it had crowed for
the third time, the Head fell to pieces, and became a heap of golden

Then the stepmother sent her own daughter into the forest. Everything
occurred as before, until the Head arrived. Then she was so frightened
that she tried to hide herself, and she would do nothing for the Head,
which had to dish up its own dinner, and eat it by itself. And so
"when she lay down to sleep, it ate her up."

In a story in Chudinsky's collection, the stepdaughter is sent by
night to watch the rye in an _ovin_,[290] or corn-kiln. Presently a
stranger appears and asks her to marry him. She replies that she has
no wedding-clothes, upon which he brings her everything she asks for.
But she is very careful not to ask for more than one thing at a time,
and so the cock crows before her list of indispensable necessaries is
exhausted. The stranger immediately disappears, and she carries off
her presents in triumph.

The next night her stepsister is sent to the _ovin_, and the stranger
appears as before, and asks her to marry him. She, also, replies that
she has no wedding-clothes, and he offers to supply her with what she
wants. Whereupon, instead of asking for a number of things one after
the other, she demands them all at once--"Stockings, garters, a
petticoat, a dress, a comb, earrings, a mirror, soap, white paint and
rouge, and everything which her stepsister had got." Then follows the

  The stranger brought her everything, all at once.

  "Now then," says he, "will you marry me now?"

  "Wait a bit," said the stepmother's daughter, "I'll wash
  and dress, and whiten myself and rouge myself, and then I'll
  marry you." And straightway she set to work washing and
  dressing--and she hastened and hurried to get all that done--she
  wanted so awfully to see herself decked out as a bride.
  By-and-by she was quite dressed--but the cock had not yet

  "Well, maiden!" says he, "will you marry me now?"

  "I'm quite ready," says she.

  Thereupon he tore her to pieces.[291]

There is one other of those personifications of natural forces which
play an active part in the Russian tales, about which a few words may
be said. It often happens that the heroine-stealer whom the hero of
the story has to overcome is called, not Koshchei nor the Snake, but
Vikhor,[292] the whirlwind. Here is a brief analysis of part of one of
the tales in which this elementary abducer figures. There was a
certain king, whose wife went out one day to walk in the garden.
"Suddenly a gale (_vyeter_) sprang up. In the gale was the
Vikhor-bird. Vikhor seized the Queen, and carried her off." She left
three sons, and they, when they came to man's estate, said to their
father--"Where is our mother? If she be dead, show us her grave; if
she be living, tell us where to find her."

"I myself know not where your mother is," replied the King. "Vikhor
carried her off."

"Well then," they said, "since Vikhor carried her off, and she is
alive, give us your blessing. We will go in search of our mother."

All three set out, but only the youngest, Prince Vasily, succeeded in
climbing the steep hill, whereon stood the palace in which his mother
and Vikhor lived. Entering it during Vikhor's absence, the Prince made
himself known to his mother, "who straightway gave him to eat, and
concealed him in a distant apartment, hiding him behind a number of
cushions, so that Vikhor might not easily discover him." And she gave
him these instructions. "If Vikhor comes, and begins quarrelling,
don't come forth, but if he takes to chatting, come forth and say,
'Hail father!' and seize hold of the little finger of his right hand,
and wherever he flies do you go with him."

Presently Vikhor came flying in, and addressed the Queen angrily.
Prince Vasily remained concealed until his mother gave him a hint to
come forth. This he did, and then greeted Vikhor, and caught hold of
his right little finger. Vikhor tried to shake him off, flying first
about the house and then out of it, but all in vain. At last Vikhor,
after soaring on high, struck the ground, and fell to pieces, becoming
a fine yellow sand. "But the little finger remained in the possession
of Prince Vasily, who scraped together the sand and burnt it in the

       *       *       *       *       *

With a mention of two other singular beings who occur in the Skazkas,
the present chapter may be brought to a close. The first is a certain
Morfei (Morpheus?) who figures in the following variant of a
well-known tale.

There was a king, and he had a daughter with whom a general who lived
over the way fell in love. But the king would not let him marry her
unless he went where none had been, and brought back thence what none
had seen. After much consideration the general set out and travelled
"over swamps, hill, and rivers." At last he reached a wood in which
was a hut, and inside the hut was an old crone. To her he told his
story, after hearing which, she cried out, "Ho, there! Morfei, dish up
the meal!" and immediately a dinner appeared of which the old crone
made the general partake. And next day "she presented that cook to the
general, ordering him to serve the general honorably, as he had served
her. The general took the cook and departed." By-and-by he came to a
river and was appealed to for food by a shipwrecked crew. "Morfei,
give them to eat!" he cried, and immediately excellent viands
appeared, with which the mariners were so pleased that they gave the
general a magic volume in exchange for his cook--who, however, did not
stay with them but secretly followed his master. A little later the
general found another shipwrecked crew, who gave him, in exchange for
his cook, a sabre and a towel, each of magic power. Then the general
returned to his own city, and his magic properties enabled him to
convince the king that he was an eligible suitor for the hand of the

The other is a mysterious personage whose name is "Oh!" The story in
which he appears is one with which many countries are familiar, and of
which numerous versions are to be found in Russia. A father sets out
with his boy for "the bazaar," hoping to find a teacher there who will
instruct the child in such science as enables people "to work little,
and feed delicately, and dress well." After walking a long way the man
becomes weary and exclaims, "Oh! I'm so tired!" Immediately there
appears "an old magician," who says--

"Why do you call me?"

"I didn't call you," replies the old man. "I don't even know who you

"My name is Oh," says the magician, "and you cried 'Oh!' Where are you
taking that boy?"

The father explains what it is he wants, and the magician undertakes
to give the boy the requisite education, charging "one assignat
rouble" for a year's tuition.[295]

The teacher, in this story, is merely called a magician; but as in
other Russian versions of it his counterpart is always described as
being demoniacal, and is often openly styled a devil, it may be
assumed that Oh belongs to the supernatural order of beings. It is
often very difficult, however, to distinguish magicians from fiends in
storyland, the same powers being generally wielded, and that for the
same purposes, by the one set of beings as by the other. Of those
powers, and of the end to which the stories represent them as being
turned, some mention will be made in the next chapter.


[224] The adjective _likhoi_ has two opposite meanings, sometimes
signifying what is evil, hurtful, malicious, &c., sometimes what is
bold, vigorous, and therefore to be admired. As a substantive, _likho_
conveys the idea of something malevolent or unfortunate. The Polish
_licho_ properly signifies _uneven_. But odd numbers are sometimes
considered unlucky. Polish housewives, for instance, think it
imprudent to allow their hens to sit on an uneven number of eggs. But
the peasantry also describe by _Licho_ an evil spirit, a sort of
devil. (Wojcicki in the "Encyklopedyja Powszechna," xvii. p. 17.)
"When Likho sleeps, awake it not," says a proverb common to Poland and
South Russia.

[225] Afanasief, iii. No. 14. From the Voroneje Government.

[226] From an article by Borovikovsky in the "Otech. Zap." 1840, No.

[227] "Les Avadânas," vol. i. No. 9, p. 51.

[228] In the "Philogische und historische Abhandlungen," of the Berlin
Academy of Sciences for 1857, pp. 1-30. See also Buslaef, "Ist. Och.,"
i. 327-331.; Campbell's "West Highland Tales," i. p. 132, &c.

[229] _Ednookie_ (_edno_ or _odno_ = one; _oko_ = eye). A Slavonic
equivalent of the name "Arimaspians," from the Scythic _arima_ = one
and _spû_ = eye. Mr. Rawlinson associates _arima_, through _farima_,
with Goth. _fruma_, Lat. _primus_, &c., and _spû_ with Lat. root
_spic_ or _spec_--in _specio_, _specto_, &c., and with our "spy," &c.

[230] Grimm, No. 130, &c.

[231] Afanasief, vi. No. 55.

[232] See the "Songs of the Russian People," p. 30.

[233] Afanasief, v. No. 34. From the Novgorod Government.

[234] _Opokhmyelit'sya_: "to drink off the effects of his debauch."

[235] Erlenvein, No. 21.

[236] Our "Sunday gown."

[237] Afanasief, viii. p. 408.

[238] Properly speaking "grief," that which morally _krushìt_ or
crushes a man.

[239] _Kruchìna_, as an abstract idea, is of the feminine gender. But
it is here personified as a male being.

[240] Afanasief, v. p. 237.

[241] _Spasibo_ is the word in popular use as an expression of thanks,
and it now means nothing more than "thank you!" But it is really a
contraction of _spasi Bog!_ "God save (you)!" as our "Good-bye!" is of
"God be with you!"

[242] Maksimovich, "Tri Skazki" (quoted by Afanasief, viii. p. 406).

[243] Vuk Karajich, No. 13.

[244] Afanasief, viii. No. 21.

[245] _Schastie_ and _Neschastie_--Luck and Bad-luck--the exact
counterparts of the Indian Lakshmí and Alakshmí.

[246] Afanasief, iii. No. 9.

[247] Afanasief viii. pp. 32-4.

[248] _Bezdolny_ (_bez_ = without; _dolya_ = lot, share, etc.).

[249] Everyone knows how frequent are the allusions to good and bad
fortune in Oriental fiction, so that there is no occasion to do more
than allude to the stories in which they occur--one of the most
interesting of which is that of Víra-vara in the "Hitopadesa" (chap.
iii. Fable 9), who finds one night a young and beautiful woman, richly
decked with jewels, weeping outside the city in which dwells his royal
master Sudraka, and asks her who she is, and why she weeps. To which
(in Mr. Johnson's translation) she replies "I am the Fortune of this
King Sudraka, beneath the shadow of whose arm I have long reposed very
happily. Through the fault of the queen the king will die on the third
day. I shall be without a protector, and shall stay no longer;
therefore do I weep." On the variants of this story, see Benfey's
"Panchatantra," i. pp. 415-16.

[250] From _pyat_ = five, Friday being the fifth working day.
Similarly Tuesday is called _Vtornik_, from _vtoroi_ = second;
Wednesday is _Sereda_, "the middle;" Thursday _Chetverg_, from
_chetverty_ = fourth. But Saturday is _Subbòta_.

[251] _P.V.S._, i. 230. See also Buslaef, "Ist. Och." pp. 323, 503-4.

[252] A tradition of our own relates that the Lords of the Admiralty,
wishing to prove the absurdity of the English sailor's horror of
Friday, commenced a ship on a Friday, launched her on a Friday, named
her "The Friday," procured a Captain Friday to command her, and sent
her to sea on a Friday, and--she was never heard of again.

[253] Afanasief, "Legendui," No. 13. From the Tambof Government.

[254] For an account of various similar superstitions connected with
Wednesday and Thursday, see Mannhardt's "Germanische Mythen," p. 15,
16, and W. Schmidt's "Das Jahr und seine Tage," p. 19.

[255] Khudyakof, No. 166. From the Orel Government.

[256] Doubtful. The Russian word is "Svarit," properly "to cook."

[257] Compare the English nursery rhyme addressed to the lady-bird:

    "Lady-bird, lady-bird, fly away home,
    Your house is a-fire, your children at home."

[258] Wednesday in this, and Friday in the preceding story, are the
exact counterparts of Lithuanian Laumes. According to Schleicher
("Lituanica," p. 109), Thursday evening is called in Lithuania _Laumiú
vákars_, the Laume's Eve. No work ought to be done on a Thursday
evening, and it is especially imprudent to spin then. For at night,
when the Laumes come, as they are accustomed to do between Thursday
evening and Friday morning, they seize any spinning which has been
begun, work away at it till cock-crow, and then carry it off. In
modern Greece the women attribute all nightly meddling with their
spinning to the _Neraïdes_ (the representatives of the Hellenic
Nereids. See Bernhard Schmidt's "Volksleben der Neugriechen," p. 111).
In some respects the _Neraïda_ closely resemble the _Lamia_, and both
of them have many features in common with the _Laume_. The latter name
(which in Lettish is written Lauma) has never been satisfactorily
explained. Can it be connected with the Greek _Lamia_ which is now
written also as Λάμνια, Λάμνα and Λάμνισσα?

[259] The word _Nedyelya_ now means "a week." But it originally meant
Sunday, the non-working day (_ne_ = not, _dyelat'_ = to do or work.)
After a time, the name for the first day of the week became
transferred to the week itself.

[260] That of "Wilisch Witiâsu," Schott, No. 11.

[261] That of "Trandafíru," Schott, No. 23.

[262] J. Wenzig's "Westslawischer Märchenschatz," pp. 144-155.
According to Wenzig Nedĕlka is "the personified first Sunday after
the new moon." The part here attributed to St. Nedĕlka is played by
a Vila in one of the Songs of Montenegro. According to an ancient
Indian tradition, the Aswattha-tree "is to be touched only on a
Sunday, for on every other day Poverty or Misfortune abides in it: on
Sunday it is the residence of Lakshmí" (Good Fortune). H. H. Wilson
"Works," iii. 70.

[263] "Songs of the Russian People," pp. 120-153.

[264] Afanasief, vii. No. 33. The name Léshy or Lyeshy is derived from
_lyes_, a forest.

[265] Literally "as a _lun_," a kind of hawk (_falco rusticolus_).
_Lun_ also means a greyish light.

[266] _Ottogo ya i cyed chto chortof dyed._

[267] Afanasief, _P.V.S._, ii. 226.

[268] Afanasief, iv. No. 40. From the Tver Government.

[269] Translated literally from Afanasief, _P.V.S._ ii. 227.

[270] Yastreb = vulture or goshawk

[271] Quoted from Borichefsky (pp. 183-5) by Afanasief.

[272] Tereshchenko, v. 43, 44.

[273] Literally "Life disgusted them worse than a bitter radish."

[274] Translated literally from Afanasief, _P.V.S._ ii. 230.

[275] "Deutsche Mythologie," 462.

[276] Afanasief, _loc. cit._ p. 231.

[277] Afanasief, iv. No. 42. From the Vologda Government.

[278] _Chelpan_, a sort of dough cake, or pie without stuffing.

[279] _Bogatir_ is the regular term for a Russian "hero of romance."
Its origin is disputed, but it appears to be of Tartar extraction.

[280] _Nast_, snow that has thawed and frozen again.

[281] _Suzhenoi-ryazhenoi._

[282] _Zhenikhi._

[283] _Sil'no priudaril_, mightily smote harder.

[284] _Okostenyeli_, were petrified.

[285] Afanasief, _P.V.S._ i. 318-19.

[286] Ibid. i. 312.

[287] As with Der Frostige in the German story of "Die sechs Diener,"
_KM._, No. 134, p. 519, and "The Man with the White Hat," in that of
"Sechse kommen durch die ganze Welt," No. 71, p. 295, and their
variants in different lands. See Grimm, iii. p. 122.

[288] No. 13, "The Stepmother's Daughter and the Stepdaughter,"
written down in Kazan.

[289] This is a thoroughly Buddhistic idea. According to Buddhist
belief, the treasure which has belonged to anyone in a former
existence may come to him in the shape of a man who, when killed,
turns to gold. The first story of the fifth book of the
"Panchatantra," is based upon an idea of this kind. A man is told in a
vision to kill a monk. He does so, and the monk becomes a heap of
gold. A barber, seeing this, kills several monks, but to no purpose.
See Benfey's Introduction, pp. 477-8.

[290] For an account of the _ovin_, and the respect paid to it or to
the demons supposed to haunt it see "The Songs of the Russian People,"
p. 257.

[291] Chudinsky, No. 13. "The Daughter and the Stepdaughter." From the
Nijegorod Government.

[292] _Vikhr'_ or _Vikhor'_ from _vit'_, to whirl or twist.

[293] Khudyakof, No. 82. The story ends in the same way as that of
Norka. See supra, p. 73.

[294] Khudyakof, No. 86. Morfei the Cook is merely a development of
the magic cudgel which in so many stories (_e.g._ the sixth of the
Calmuck tales) is often exchanged for other treasures by its master,
to whom it soon returns--it being itself a degraded form of the hammer
of Thor, the lance of Indra, which always came back to the divine hand
that had hurled it.

[295] Khudyakof, No. 19. The rest of the story is that of "Der Gaudief
un sin Meester," Grimm's _KM._ No. 68. (See also vol. iii. p. 118 of
that work, where a long list is given of similar stories in various



Most of the magical "properties" of the "skazka-drama," closely
resemble those which have already been rendered familiar to us by
well-known folk-tales. Of such as these--of "caps of darkness," of
"seven-leagued boots," of "magic cudgels," of "Fortunatus's purses,"
and the like[296]--it is unnecessary, for the present, to say more
than that they are of as common occurrence in Slavonic as in other
stories. But there are some among them which materially differ from
their counterparts in more western lands, and are therefore worthy of
special notice. To the latter class belong the Dolls of which mention
has already been made, and the Waters of Life and Death of which I am
now about to speak.

A Water of Life plays an important part in the folk-tales of every
land.[297] When the hero of a "fairy story" has been done to death by
evil hands, his resuscitation by means of a healing and vivifying
lotion or ointment[298] follows almost as a matter of course. And by
common consent the Raven (or some sort of crow) is supposed to know
where this invaluable specific is to be found,[299] a knowledge which
it shares with various supernatural beings as well as with some human
adepts in magic, and sometimes with the Snake. In all these matters
the Russian and the Western tales agree, but the Skazka differs from
most stories of its kind in this respect, that it almost invariably
speaks of _two_ kinds of magic waters as being employed for the
restoration of life. We have already seen in the story of "Marya
Morevna," that one of these, sometimes called the _mertvaya voda_--the
"dead water," or "Water of Death"--when sprinkled over a mutilated
corpse, heals all its wounds; while the other, which bears the name of
the _zhivaya voda_,--the "living water," or "Water of Life"--endows it
once more with vitality.

      [In a Norse tale in Asbjörnsen's new series, No. 72,
      mention is made of a Water of Death, as opposed to a
      Water of Life. The Death Water (_Doasens Vana_) throws
      all whom it touches into a magic sleep, from which
      only Life Water (_Livsens Vand_) can rouse them (p.
      57). In the Rámáyana, Hanuman fetches four different
      kinds of herbs in order to resuscitate his dead
      monkeys: "the first restore the dead to life, the
      second drive away all pain, the third join broken
      parts, the fourth cure all wounds, &c." Talboys
      Wheeler, "History of India," ii. 368. In the Egyptian
      story already mentioned (at p. 113), Satou's corpse
      quivers and opens its eyes when his heart has become
      saturated with a healing liquid. But he does not
      actually come to life till the remainder of the liquid
      has been poured down his throat.

      In a Kirghiz story, quoted by Bronevsky,[300] a
      golden-haired hero finds, after long search, the
      maiden to whom he had in very early life been
      betrothed. Her father has him murdered. She persuades
      the murderer to show her the body of her dead love,
      and weeps over it bitterly. A spirit appears and tells
      her to sprinkle it with water from a neighboring well.
      The well is very deep, but she induces the murderer to
      allow her to lower him into it by means of her
      remarkably long hair. He descends and hands up to her
      a cup of water. Having received it, she cuts off her
      hair, and lets the murderer drop and be drowned. Then
      she sprinkles her lover's corpse with the water, and
      he revives. But he lives only three days. She refuses
      to survive him, and is buried by his side. From the
      graves of the lovers spring two willows, which mingle
      their boughs as if in an embrace. And the neighbors
      set up near the spot three statues, his and hers and
      her nurse's.

      Such is the story, says Bronevsky, which the Kirghiz
      tell with respect to some statues of unknown origin
      which stand (or used to stand) near the Ayaguza, a
      river falling into Lake Balkhash. A somewhat similar
      Armenian story is quoted by Haxthausen in his
      Transcaucasia (p. 350 of the English translation).

      In the Kalevala, when Lemmenkäinen has been torn to
      pieces, his mother collects his scattered remains, and
      by a dexterous synthetical operation restores him to
      physical unity. But the silence of death still
      possesses him. Then she entreats the Bee to bring
      vivifying honey. After two fruitless journeys, the Bee
      succeeds in bringing back honey "from the cellar of
      the Creator." When this has been applied, the dead man
      returns to life, sits up, and says in the words of the
      Russian heroes--"How long I have slept!"[301]

      Here is another instance of a life-giving operation
      of a double nature. There is a well-known Indian story
      about four suitors for the hand of one girl. She dies,
      but is restored to life by one of her lovers, who
      happens one day to see a dead child resuscitated, and
      learns how to perform similar miracles. In two
      Sanskrit versions of the "Vetálapanchavinsati,"[302]
      as well as in the Hindi version,[303] the life-giving
      charm consists in a spell taken from a book of magic.
      But in the Tamil version, the process is described as
      being of a different and double nature. According to
      it, the mother of the murdered child "by the charm
      called _sisupàbam_ re-created the body, and, by the
      incantation called _sanjìvi_, restored it to life."
      The suitor, having learnt the charm and the
      incantation, "took the bones and the ashes (of the
      dead girl), and having created out of them the body,
      by virtue of the charm _sisupàbam_ gave life to that
      body by the _sanjìvi_ incantation." According to Mr.
      Babington, "Sanjìvi is defined by the Tamuls to be a
      medicine which restores to life by dissipating a
      mortal swoon.... In the text the word is used for the
      art of using this medicine."[304]]

As a general rule, the two waters of which mention is made in the
Skazkas possess the virtues, and are employed in the manner, mentioned
above; but there are cases in which their powers are of a different
nature. Sometimes we meet with two magic fluids, one of which heals
all wounds, and restores sight to the blind and vigor to the cripple,
while the other destroys all that it touches. Sometimes, also,
recourse is had to magic draughts of two kinds, the one of which
strengthens him who quaffs it, while the other produces the opposite
effect. Such liquors as these are known as the "Waters of Strength and
Weakness," and are usually described as being stowed away in the
cellar of some many-headed Snake. For the Snake is often mentioned as
the possessor, or at least the guardian, of magic fluids. Thus one of
the Skazkas[305] speaks of a wondrous garden, in which are two springs
of healing and vivifying water, and around that garden is coiled like
a ring a mighty serpent. Another tells how a flying Snake brought two
heroes to a lake, into which they flung a green bough, and immediately
the bough broke into flame and was consumed. Then it took them to
another lake, into which they cast a mouldy log. And the log
straightway began to put forth buds and blossoms.[306]

In some cases the magic waters are the property, not of a Snake, but
of one of the mighty heroines who so often occur in these stories, and
who bear so great a resemblance to Brynhild, as well in other respects
as in that of her enchanted sleep. Thus in one of the Skazkas[307] an
aged king dreams that "beyond thrice nine lands, in the thirtieth
country, there is a fair maiden from whose hands and feet water is
flowing, of which water he who drinks will become thirty years
younger." His sons go forth in search of this youth-giving liquid, and,
after many adventures, the youngest is directed to the golden castle in
which lives the "fair maiden," whom his father has seen in his vision.
He has been told that when she is awake her custom is to divert herself
in the green fields with her Amazon host--"for nine days she rambles
about, and then for nine days she sleeps a heroic slumber." The Prince
hides himself among the bushes near the castle, and sees a fair maiden
come out of it surrounded by an armed band, "and all the band consists
of maidens, each one more beautiful than the other. And the most
beautiful, the most never-enough-to-be-gazed-upon, is the Queen
herself." For nine days he watches the fair band of Amazons as they
ramble about. On the tenth day all is still, and he enters the castle.
In the midst of her slumbering guards sleeps the Queen on a couch of
down, the healing water flowing from her hands and feet. With it he
fills two flasks, and then he retires. When the Queen awakes, she
becomes conscious of the theft and pursues the Prince. Coming up with
him, she slays him with a single blow, but then takes compassion on
him, and restores him to life.

In another version of the story, the precious fluid is contained in a
flask which is hidden under the pillow of the slumbering "Tsar
Maiden." The Prince steals it and flees, but he bears on him the
weight of sin, and so, when he tries to clear the fence which girds
the enchanted castle, his horse strikes one of the cords attached to
it, and the spell is broken which maintains the magic sleep in which
the realm is locked. The Tsar Maiden pursues the thief, but does not
succeed in catching him. He is killed, however, by his elder brothers,
who "cut him into small pieces," and then take the flask of magic
water to their father. The murdered prince is resuscitated by the
mythical bird known by the name of the _Zhar-Ptitsa_, which collects
his scattered fragments, puts them together, and sprinkles them first
with "dead water" and then with "live-water,"--conveyed for that
purpose in its beak--after which the prince gets up, thanks his
reviver, and goes his way.[308]

In one of the numerous variants of the story in which a prince is
exposed to various dangers by his sister--who is induced to plot
against his life by her demon lover, the Snake--the hero is sent in
search of "a healing and a vivifying water," preserved between two
lofty mountains which cleave closely together, except during "two or
three minutes" of each day. He follows his instructions, rides to a
certain spot, and there awaits the hour at which the mountains fly
apart. "Suddenly a terrible hurricane arose, a mighty thunder smote,
and the two mountains were torn asunder. Prince Ivan spurred his
heroic steed, flew like a dart between the mountains, dipped two
flasks in the waters, and instantly turned back." He himself escapes
safe and sound, but the hind legs of his horse are caught between the
closing cliffs, and smashed to pieces. The magic waters, of course,
soon remedy this temporary inconvenience.[309]

In a Slovak version of this story, a murderous mother sends her son
to two mountains, each of which is cleft open once in every
twenty-four hours--the one opening at midday and the other at
midnight; the former disclosing the Water of Life, the latter the
Water of Death.[310] In a similar story from the Ukraine, mention is
made of two springs of healing and life-giving water, which are
guarded by iron-beaked ravens, and the way to which lies between
grinding hills. The Fox and the Hare are sent in quest of the magic
fluid. The Fox goes and returns in safety, but the Hare, on her way
back, is not in time quite to clear the meeting cliffs, and her tail
is jammed in between them. Since that time, hares have had no

On the Waters of Strength and Weakness much stress is laid in many of
the tales about the many-headed Snakes which carry off men's wives and
daughters to their metallic castles. In one of these, for instance,
the golden-haired Queen Anastasia has been torn away by a whirlwind
from her husband "Tsar Byel Byelyanin" [the White King]. As in the
variant of the story already quoted,[312] her sons go in search of
her, and the youngest of them, after finding three palaces--the first
of copper, the second of silver, the third of gold, each containing a
princess held captive by Vikhor, the whirlwind--comes to a fourth
palace gleaming with diamonds and other precious stones. In it he
discovers his long-lost mother, who gladly greets him, and at once
takes him into Vikhor's cellar. Here is the account of what ensued.

  Well, they entered the cellar; there stood two tubs of water,
  the one on the right hand, the other on the left. Says the

  "Take a draught of the water that stands on the right
  hand." Prince Ivan drank of it.

  "Now then, how strong do you feel?" said she.

  "So strong that I could upset the whole palace with one
  hand," he replied.

  "Come now, drink again."

  The Prince drank once more.

  "How strong do you feel now?" she asked.

  "Why now, if I wanted, I could give the whole world a

  "Oh that's plenty then! Now make these tubs change
  places--that which stands on the right, set on the left: and
  that which is on the left, change to the right."

  Prince Ivan took the tubs and made them change places.
  Says the Queen--

  "See now, my dear son; in one of these tubs is the 'Water
  of Strength,' in the other is the 'Water of Weakness.'[313] He
  who drinks of the former becomes a mighty hero, but he who
  drinks of the second loses all his vigor. Vikhor always quaffs
  the Strong Water, and places it on the right-hand side; therefore
  you must deceive him, or you will never be able to hold
  out against him."

The Queen proceeds to tell her son that, when Vikhor comes home, he
must hide beneath her purple cloak, and watch for an opportunity of
seizing her gaoler's magic mace.[314] Vikhor will fly about till he is
tired, and will then have recourse to what he supposes is the "Strong
Water;" this will render him so feeble that the Prince will be able to
kill him. Having received these instructions, and having been warned
not to strike Vikhor after he is dead, the Prince conceals himself.
Suddenly the day becomes darkened, the palace quivers, and Vikhor
arrives; stamping on the ground, he becomes a noble gallant, who
enters the palace, "holding in his hands a battle mace." This Prince
Ivan seizes, and a long struggle takes place between him and Vikhor,
who flies away with him over seas and into the clouds. At last, Vikhor
becomes exhausted and seeks the place where he expects to find the
invigorating draught on which he is accustomed to rely. The result is
as follows:

  Dropping right into his cellar, Vikhor ran to the tub which
  stood on the right, and began drinking the Water of Weakness.
  But Prince Ivan rushed to the left, quaffed a deep draught of
  the Water of Strength, and became the mightiest hero in the
  whole world. Then seeing that Vikhor was perfectly enfeebled,
  he snatched from him his keen faulchion, and with a single
  blow struck off his head. Behind him voices began to cry:

  "Strike again! strike again! or he will come to life!"

  "No," replied the Prince, "a hero's hand does not strike
  twice, but finishes its work with a single blow." And straightway
  he lighted a fire, burnt the head and the trunk, and scattered
  the ashes to the winds.[315]

The part played by the Water of Strength in this story may be
compared with "the important share which the exhilarating juice of the
Soma-plant assumes in bracing Indra for his conflict with the hostile
powers in the atmosphere," and Vikhor's sudden debility with that of
Indra when the Asura Namuchi "drank up Indra's strength along with a
draught of wine and soma."[316]

Sometimes, as has already been remarked, one of the two magic waters
is even more injurious than the Water of Weakness.[317] The following
may be taken as a specimen of the stories in which there is introduced
a true Water of Death--one of those deadly springs which bear the same
relation to the healing and vivifying founts that the enfeebling bears
to the strengthening water. The Baba Yaga who figures in it is, as is
so often the case, replaced by a Snake in the variant to which
allusion has already been made.


  In a certain kingdom there lived a king and queen; they had a
  son, Prince Ivan, and to look after that son was appointed a
  tutor named Katoma.[319] The king and queen lived to a great
  age, but then they fell ill, and despaired of ever recovering. So
  they sent for Prince Ivan and strictly enjoined him:

  "When we are dead, do you in everything respect and obey
  Katoma. If you obey him, you will prosper; but if you choose
  to be disobedient, you will perish like a fly."

  The next day the king and queen died. Prince Ivan buried
  his parents, and took to living according to their instructions.
  Whatever he had to do, he always consulted his tutor about it.

  Some time passed by. The Prince attained to man's estate,
  and began to think about getting married. So one day he went
  to his tutor and said:

  "Katoma, I'm tired of living alone, I want to marry."

  "Well, Prince! what's to prevent you? you're of an age at
  which it's time to think about a bride. Go into the great hall.
  There's a collection there of the portraits of all the princesses in
  the world; look at them and choose for yourself; whichever
  pleases you, to her send a proposal of marriage."

  Prince Ivan went into the great hall, and began examining
  the portraits. And the one that pleased him best was that of the
  Princess Anna the Fair--such a beauty! the like of her wasn't
  to be found in the whole world! Underneath her portrait were
  written these words:

  "If any one asks her a riddle, and she does not guess it, him
  shall she marry; but he whose riddle she guesses shall have his
  head chopped off."

  Prince Ivan read this inscription, became greatly afflicted, and
  went off to his tutor.

  "I've been in the great hall," says he, "and I picked out for
  my bride Anna the Fair; only I don't know whether it's possible
  to win her."

  "Yes, Prince; she's hard to get. If you go alone, you
  won't win her anyhow. But if you will take me with you, and
  if you will do what I tell you, perhaps the affair can be managed."

  Prince Ivan begged Katoma to go with him, and gave his
  word of honor to obey him whether in joy or grief.

  Well, they got ready for the journey and set off to sue for the
  hand of the Princess Anna the Fair. They travelled for one
  year, two years, three years, and traversed many countries.
  Says Prince Ivan--

  "We've been travelling all this time, uncle, and now we're
  approaching the country of Princess Anna the Fair; and yet we
  don't know what riddle to propound."

  "We shall manage to think of one in good time," replied
  Katoma. They went a little farther. Katoma was looking down
  on the road, and on it lay a purse full of money. He lifted it up
  directly, poured all the money out of it into his own purse, and

  "Here's a riddle for you, Prince Ivan! When you come
  into the presence of the Princess, propound a riddle to her in
  these words: 'As we were coming along, we saw Good lying on
  the road, and we took up the Good with Good, and placed it in
  our own Good!' That riddle she won't guess in a lifetime; but
  any other one she would find out directly. She would only have
  to look into her magic-book, and as soon as she had guessed it,
  she'd order your head to be cut off."

  Well, at last Prince Ivan and his tutor arrived at the lofty
  palace in which lived the fair Princess. At that moment she
  happened to be out on the balcony, and when she saw the newcomers,
  she sent out to know whence they came and what they
  wanted. Prince Ivan replied--

  "I have come from such-and-such a kingdom, and I wish to
  sue for the hand of the Princess Anna the Fair."

  When she was informed of this, the Princess gave orders that
  the Prince should enter the palace, and there in the presence of
  all the princes and boyars of her council should propound his

  "I've made this compact," she said. "Anyone whose riddle
  I cannot guess, him I must marry. But anyone whose riddle I
  can guess, him I may put to death."

  "Listen to my riddle, fair princess!" said Prince Ivan. "As
  we came along, we saw Good lying on the road, and we took up
  the Good with Good, and placed it in our own Good."

  Princess Anna the Fair took her magic-book, and began
  turning over its leaves and examining the answers of riddles.
  She went right through the book, but she didn't get at the meaning
  she wanted. Thereupon the princes and boyars of her
  council decided that the Princess must marry Prince Ivan. She
  wasn't at all pleased, but there was no help for it, and so she
  began to get ready for the wedding. Meanwhile she considered
  within herself how she could spin out the time and do away with
  the bridegroom, and she thought the best way would be to overwhelm
  him with tremendous tasks.

  So she called Prince Ivan and said to him--

  "My dear Prince Ivan, my destined husband! It is meet
  that we should prepare for the wedding; pray do me this small
  service. On such and such a spot of my kingdom there stands
  a lofty iron pillar. Carry it into the palace kitchen, and chop it
  into small chunks by way of fuel for the cook."

  "Excuse me, Princess," replied the prince. "Was it to chop
  fuel that I came here? Is that the proper sort of employment
  for me? I have a servant for that kind of thing, Katoma _dyadka_,
  of the oaken _shapka_."

  The Prince straightway called for his tutor, and ordered
  him to drag the iron pillar into the kitchen, and to chop it into
  small chunks by way of fuel for the cook. Katoma went to the
  spot indicated by the Princess, seized the pillar in his arms,
  brought it into the palace kitchen, and broke it into little pieces;
  but four of the iron chips he put into his pocket, saying--

  "They'll prove useful by-and-by!"

  Next day the princess says to Prince Ivan--

  "My dear Prince, my destined husband! to-morrow we have
  to go to the wedding. I will drive in a carriage, but you should
  ride on a heroic steed, and it is necessary that you should
  break him in beforehand."

  "I break a horse in myself! I keep a servant for that."

  Prince Ivan called Katoma, and said--

  "Go into the stable and tell the grooms to bring forth the
  heroic steed; sit upon him and break him in; to-morrow I've
  got to ride him to the wedding."

  Katoma fathomed the subtle device of the Princess, but, without
  stopping long to talk, he went into the stable and told the
  grooms to bring forth the heroic steed. Twelve grooms were
  mustered, they unlocked twelve locks, opened twelve doors, and
  brought forth a magic horse bound in twelve chains of iron.
  Katoma went up to him. No sooner had he managed to seat
  himself than the magic horse leaped up from the ground and
  soared higher than the forest--higher than the standing forest,
  lower than the flitting cloud. Firm sat Katoma, with one hand
  grasping the mane; with the other he took from his pocket an
  iron chunk, and began taming the horse with it between the ears.
  When he had used up one chunk, he betook himself to another;
  when two were used up, he took to a third; when three were
  used up, the fourth came into play. And so grievously did he
  punish the heroic steed that it could not hold out any longer,
  but cried aloud with a human voice--

  "Batyushka Katoma! don't utterly deprive me of life in the
  white world! Whatever you wish, that do you order: all shall
  be done according to your will!"

  "Listen, O meat for dogs!" answered Katoma; "to-morrow
  Prince Ivan will ride you to the wedding. Now mind! when the
  grooms bring you out into the wide courtyard, and the Prince
  goes up to you and lays his hand on you, do you stand quietly,
  not moving so much as an ear. And when he is seated on your
  back, do you sink into the earth right up to your fetlocks, and
  then move under him with a heavy step, just as if an immeasurable
  weight had been laid upon your back."

  The heroic steed listened to the order and sank to earth
  scarcely alive. Katoma seized him by the tail, and flung him
  close to the stable, crying--

  "Ho there! coachmen and grooms; carry off this dog's-meat
  to its stall!"

  The next day arrived; the time drew near for going to the
  wedding. The carriage was brought round for the Princess, and
  the heroic steed for Prince Ivan. The people were gathered
  together from all sides--a countless number. The bride and
  bridegroom came out from the white stone halls. The Princess
  got into the carriage and waited to see what would become of
  Prince Ivan; whether the magic horse would fling his curls to
  the wind, and scatter his bones across the open plain. Prince
  Ivan approached the horse, laid his hand upon its back, placed
  his foot in the stirrup--the horse stood just as if petrified, didn't
  so much as wag an ear! The Prince got on its back, the magic
  horse sank into the earth up to its fetlocks. The twelve chains
  were taken off the horse, it began to move with an even heavy
  pace, while the sweat poured off it just like hail.

  "What a hero! What immeasurable strength!" cried the
  people as they gazed upon the Prince.

  So the bride and bridegroom were married, and then they
  began to move out of the church, holding each other by the hand.
  The Princess took it into her head to make one more trial of
  Prince Ivan, so she squeezed his hand so hard that he could not
  bear the pain. His face became suffused with blood, his eyes
  disappeared beneath his brows.

  "A fine sort of hero you are!" thought the Princess.
  "Your tutor has tricked me splendidly; but you sha'n't get off
  for nothing!"

  Princess Anna the Fair lived for some time with Prince Ivan
  as a wife ought to live with a god-given[320] husband, flattered him
  in every way in words, but in reality never thought of anything
  except by what means she might get rid of Katoma. With the
  Prince, without the tutor, there'd be no difficulty in settling
  matters! she said to herself. But whatever slanders she might
  invent, Prince Ivan never would allow himself to be influenced
  by what she said, but always felt sorry for his tutor. At the end
  of a year he said to his wife one day--

  "Beauteous Princess, my beloved spouse! I should like
  to go with you to my own kingdom."

  "By all means," replied she, "let us go. I myself have
  long been wishing to see your kingdom."

  Well they got ready and went off; Katoma was allotted the
  post of coachman. They drove and drove, and as they drove
  along Prince Ivan went to sleep. Suddenly the Princess Anna
  the Fair awoke him, uttering loud complaints--

  "Listen, Prince, you're always sleeping, you hear nothing!
  But your tutor doesn't obey me a bit, drives the horses on purpose
  over hill and dale, just as if he wanted to put an end to us
  both. I tried speaking him fair, but he jeered at me. I won't go
  on living any longer if you don't punish him!"

  Prince Ivan, 'twixt sleeping and waking, waxed very wroth
  with his tutor, and handed him over entirely to the Princess,

  "Deal with him as you please!"

  The Princess ordered his feet to be cut off. Katoma submitted
  patiently to the outrage.

  "Very good," he thinks; "I shall suffer, it's true; but the
  Prince also will know what to lead a wretched life is like!"

  When both of Katoma's feet had been cut off, the Princess
  glanced around, and saw that a tall tree-stump stood on one side;
  so she called her servants and ordered them to set him on that
  stump. But as for Prince Ivan, she tied him to the carriage by
  a cord, turned the horses round, and drove back to her own
  kingdom. Katoma was left sitting on the stump, weeping bitter

  "Farewell, Prince Ivan!" he cries; "you won't forget me!"

  Meanwhile Prince Ivan was running and bounding behind
  the carriage. He knew well enough by this time what a blunder
  he had made, but there was no turning back for him. When
  the Princess Anna the Fair arrived in her kingdom, she set
  Prince Ivan to take care of the cows. Every day he went afield
  with the herd at early morn, and in the evening he drove them
  back to the royal yard. At that hour the Princess was always
  sitting on the balcony, and looking out to see that the number
  of the cows were all right.[321]

  Katoma remained sitting on the stump one day, two days,
  three days, without anything to eat or drink. To get down was
  utterly impossible, it seemed as if he must die of starvation.
  But not far away from that place there was a dense forest. In
  that forest was living a mighty hero who was quite blind. The
  only way by which he could get himself food was this: whenever
  he perceived by the sense of smell that any animal was running
  past him, whether a hare, or a fox, or a bear, he immediately started
  in chase of it, caught it--and dinner was ready for him. The
  hero was exceedingly swift-footed, and there was not a single
  wild beast which could run away from him. Well, one day it
  fell out thus. A fox slunk past; the hero heard it, and was
  after it directly. It ran up to the tall stump, and turned sharp
  off on one-side; but the blind hero hurried on, took a spring,
  and thumped his forehead against the stump so hard that he
  knocked the stump out by the roots. Katoma fell to the ground,
  and asked:

  "Who are you?"

  "I'm a blind hero. I've been living in the forest for thirty
  years. The only way I can get my food is this: to catch some
  game or other, and cook it at a wood fire. If it had not been
  for that, I should have been starved to death long ago!"

  "You haven't been blind all your life?"

  "No, not all my life; but Princess Anna the Fair put my
  eyes out!"

  "There now, brother!" says Katoma; "and it's thanks to
  her, too, that I'm left here without any feet. She cut them both
  off, the accursed one!"

  The two heroes had a talk, and agreed to live together, and
  join in getting their food. The blind man says to the lame:

  "Sit on my back and show me the way; I will serve you
  with my feet, and you me with your eyes."

  So he took the cripple and carried him home, and Katoma
  sat on his back, kept a look out all round, and cried out from
  time to time: "Right! Left! Straight on!" and so forth.

  Well, they lived some time in the forest in that way, and
  caught hares, foxes, and bears for their dinner. One day the
  cripple says--

  "Surely we can never go on living all our lives without a
  soul [to speak to]. I have heard that in such and such a town
  lives a rich merchant who has a daughter; and that merchant's
  daughter is exceedingly kind to the poor and crippled. She
  gives alms to everyone. Suppose we carry her off, brother, and
  let her live here and keep house for us."

  The blind man took a cart, seated the cripple in it, and rattled
  it into the town, straight into the rich merchant's courtyard.
  The merchant's daughter saw them out of window, and immediately
  ran out, and came to give them alms. Approaching the
  cripple, she said:

  "Take this, in Christ's name, poor fellow!"

  He [seemed to be going] to take the gift, but he seized her
  by the hand, pulled her into the cart, and called to the blind
  man, who ran off with it at such a pace that no one could catch
  him, even on horseback. The merchant sent people in pursuit--but
  no, they could not come up with him.

  The heroes brought the merchant's daughter into their forest
  hut, and said to her:

  "Be in the place of a sister to us, live here and keep house
  for us; otherwise we poor sufferers will have no one to cook
  our meals or wash our shirts. God won't desert you if you do

  The merchant's daughter remained with them. The heroes
  respected her, loved her, acknowledged her as a sister. They
  used to be out hunting all day, but their adopted sister was
  always at home. She looked after all the housekeeping, prepared
  the meals, washed the linen.

  But after a time a Baba Yaga took to haunting their hut and
  sucking the breasts of the merchant's daughter. No sooner
  have the heroes gone off to the chase, than the Baba Yaga is there
  in a moment. Before long the fair maiden's face began to fall
  away, and she grew weak and thin. The blind man could see
  nothing, but Katoma remarked that things weren't going well.
  He spoke about it to the blind man, and they went together to
  their adopted sister, and began questioning her. But the Baba
  Yaga had strictly forbidden her to tell the truth. For a long
  time she was afraid to acquaint them with her trouble, for a
  long time she held out, but at last her brothers talked her over
  and she told them everything without reserve.

  "Every time you go away to the chase," says she, "there
  immediately appears in the cottage a very old woman with a
  most evil face, and long grey hair. And she sets me to dress
  her head, and meanwhile she sucks my breasts."

  "Ah!" says the blind man, "that's a Baba Yaga. Wait a
  bit; we must treat her after her own fashion. To-morrow we
  won't go to the chase, but we'll try to entice her and lay hands
  upon her!"

  So next morning the heroes didn't go out hunting.

  "Now then, Uncle Footless!" says the blind man, "you
  get under the bench, and lie there ever so still, and I'll go into
  the yard and stand under the window. And as for you, sister,
  when the Baba Yaga comes, sit down just here, close by the
  window; and as you dress her hair, quietly separate the locks
  and throw them outside through the window. Just let me lay
  hold of her by those grey hairs of hers!"

  What was said was done. The blind man laid hold of the
  Baba Yaga by her grey hair, and cried--

  "Ho there, Uncle Katoma! Come out from under the
  bench, and lay hold of this viper of a woman, while I go into
  the hut!"

  The Baba Yaga hears the bad news and tries to jump up to
  get her head free. (_Where are you off to? That's no go, sure
  enough!_[322]) She tugs and tugs, but cannot do herself any good!

  Just then from under the bench crawled Uncle Katoma, fell
  upon her like a mountain of stone, took to strangling her until
  the heaven seemed to her to disappear.[323] Then into the cottage
  bounded the blind man, crying to the cripple--

  "Now we must heap up a great pile of wood, and consume
  this accursed one with fire, and fling her ashes to the wind!"

  The Baba Yaga began imploring them:

  "My fathers! my darlings! forgive me. I will do all that is

  "Very good, old witch! Then show us the fountain of healing
  and life-giving water!" said the heroes.

  "Only don't kill me, and I'll show it you directly!"

  Well, Katoma sat on the blind man's back. The blind man
  took the Baba Yaga by her back hair, and she led them into the
  depths of the forest, brought them to a well,[324] and said--

  "That is the water that cures and gives life."

  "Look out, Uncle Katoma!" cried the blind man; "don't
  make a blunder. If she tricks us now we shan't get right all
  our lives!"

  Katoma cut a green branch off a tree, and flung it into the
  well. The bough hadn't so much as reached the water before
  it all burst into a flame!

  "Ha! so you're still up to your tricks," said the heroes, and
  began to strangle the Baba Yaga, with the intention of flinging
  her, the accursed one, into the fiery fount. More than ever
  did the Baba Yaga implore for mercy, swearing a great oath
  that she would not deceive them this time.

  "On my troth I will bring you to good water," says she.

  The heroes consented to give her one more trial, and she
  took them to another fount.

  Uncle Katoma cut a dry spray from a tree, and flung it into
  the fount. The spray had not yet reached the water when it
  already turned green, budded, and put forth blossoms.

  "Come now, that's good water!" said Katoma.

  The blind man wetted his eyes with it, and saw directly.
  He lowered the cripple into the water, and the lame man's
  feet grew again. Then they both rejoiced greatly, and said to
  one another, "Now the time has come for us to get all right!
  We'll get everything back again we used to have! Only first
  we must make an end of the Baba Yaga. If we were to pardon
  her now, we should always be unlucky; she'd be scheming
  mischief all her life."

  Accordingly they went back to the fiery fount, and flung the
  Baba Yaga into it; didn't it soon make an end of her!

  After this Katoma married the merchant's daughter, and the
  three companions went to the kingdom of Anna the Fair in order
  to rescue Prince Ivan. When they drew near to the capital,
  what should they see but Prince Ivan driving a herd of cows!

  "Stop, herdsman!" says Katoma; "where are you driving
  these cows?"

  "I'm driving them to the Princess's courtyard," replied the
  Prince. "The Princess always sees for herself whether all
  the cows are there."

  "Here, herdsman; take my clothes and put them on, and I
  will put on yours and drive the cows."

  "No, brother! that cannot be done. If the Princess found
  it out, I should suffer harm!"

  "Never fear, nothing will happen! Katoma will guarantee
  you that."

  Prince Ivan sighed, and said--

  "Ah, good man! If Katoma had been alive, I should not
  have been feeding these cows afield!"

  Then Katoma disclosed to him who he was. Prince Ivan
  warmly embraced him and burst into tears.

  "I never hoped even to see you again," said he.

  So they exchanged clothes. The tutor drove the cows to
  the Princess's courtyard. Anna the Fair went into the balcony,
  looked to see if all the cows were there, and ordered them to be
  driven into the sheds. All the cows went into the sheds except
  the last one, which remained at the gate. Katoma sprang at it,

  "What are you waiting for, dog's-meat?"

  Then he seized it by the tail, and pulled it so hard that he
  pulled the cow's hide right off! The Princess saw this, and
  cried with a loud voice:

  "What is that brute of a cowherd doing? Seize him and
  bring him to me!"

  Then the servants seized Katoma and dragged him to the
  palace. He went with them, making no excuses, relying on
  himself. They brought him to the Princess. She looked at
  him and asked--

  "Who are you? Where do you come from?"

  "I am he whose feet you cut off and whom you set on a
  stump. My name is Katoma _dyadka_, oaken _shapka_."

  "Well," thinks the Princess, "now that he's got his feet
  back again, I must act straight-forwardly with him for the

  And she began to beseech him and the Prince to pardon
  her. She confessed all her sins, and swore an oath always to
  love Prince Ivan, and to obey him in all things. Prince Ivan
  forgave her, and began to live with her in peace and concord.
  The hero who had been blind remained with them, but Katoma
  and his wife went to the house of [her father] the rich merchant,
  and took up their abode under his roof.

      [There is a story in the "Panchatantra" (v. 12) which,
      in default of other parallels, may be worth comparing
      with that part of this Skazka which refers to the
      blind man and the cripple in the forest. Here is an
      outline of it:--

      To a certain king a daughter is born who has three
      breasts. Deeming her presence unfortunate, he offers a
      hundred thousand purses of gold to anyone who will
      marry her and take her away. For a long time no man
      takes advantage of the offer, but at last a blind man,
      who goes about led by a hunchback named Mantharaka or
      Cripple, marries her, receives the gold, and is sent
      far away with his wife and his friend. All three live
      together in the same house. After a time the wife
      falls in love with the hunchback and conspires with
      him to kill her husband. For this purpose she boils a
      snake, intending to poison her husband with it. But he
      stirs the snake-broth as it is cooking, and the steam
      which rises from it cures his blindness. Seeing the
      snake in the pot, he guesses what has occurred, so he
      pretends to be still blind, and watches his wife and
      his friend. They, not knowing he can see, embrace in
      his presence, whereupon he catches up the "cripple" by
      the legs, and dashes him against his wife. So violent
      is the blow that her third breast is driven out of
      sight and the hunchback is beaten straight. Benfey
      (whose version of the story differs at the end from
      that given by Wilson, "Essays," ii. 74) in his remarks
      on this story (i. p. 510-15), which he connects with
      Buddhist legends, observes that it occurs also in the
      "Tuti-Nameh" (Rosen, ii. 228), but there the hunchback
      is replaced by a comely youth, and the similarity with
      the Russian story disappears. For a solar explanation
      of the Indian story see A. de Gubernatis, "Zool.
      Mythology," i. 85.]

Of this story there are many variants. In one of them[325] a king
promises to reward with vast wealth anyone who will find him "a bride
fairer than the sun, brighter than the moon, and whiter than snow." A
certain moujik, named Nikita Koltoma, offers to show him where a
princess lives who answers to this description, and goes forth with
him in search of her. On the way, Nikita enters several forges,
desiring to have a war mace cast for him, and in one of them he finds
fifty smiths tormenting an old man. Ten of them are holding him by the
beard with pincers, the others are thundering away at his ribs with
their hammers. Finding that the cause of this punishment is an unpaid
debt of fifty roubles, Nikita ransoms the greybeard, who straightway
disappears. Nikita obtains the mace he wants, which weighs fifty
poods, or nearly a ton, and leaves the forge. Presently the old man
whom he has ransomed comes running up to him, thanks him for having
rescued him from a punishment which had already lasted thirty years,
and bestows on him, as a token of gratitude, a Cap of Invisibility.

Soon after this Nikita, attended by the king and his followers,
reaches the palace of the royal heroine, Helena the Fair. She at first
sends her warriors to capture or slay the unwelcome visitors, but
Nikita attacks them with his mace, and leaves scarce one alive. Then
she invites the king and his suite to the palace, having prepared in
the mean time a gigantic bow fitted with a fiery arrow, wherewith to
annihilate her guests. Guessing this, Nikita puts on his Cap of
Invisibility, bends the bow, and shoots the arrow into the queen's
_terema_ [the women's chambers], and in a moment the whole upper story
is in a blaze. After that the queen submits, and is married to the

But Nikita warns him that for three nights running his bride will
make trial of his strength by laying her hand on his breast and
pressing it hard--so hard that he will not be able to bear the
pressure. When that happens, he must slip out of the room, and let
Nikita take his place. All this comes to pass; the bride lays her hand
on the bridegroom's breast, and says--

"Is my hand heavy?"

"As a feather on water!" replies the king, who can scarcely draw his
breath beneath the crushing weight of the hand he has won. Then he
leaves the room, under the pretext of giving an order, and Nikita
takes his place. The queen renews the experiment, presses with one
hand, presses with both, and with all her might. Nikita catches her
up, and then flings her down on the floor. The room shakes beneath the
blow, the bride "arises, lies down quietly, and goes to sleep," and
Nikita is replaced by the king. By the end of the third night the
queen gives up all hope of squeezing her husband to death, and makes
up her mind to conjugal submission.[326]

But before long, she, like Brynhild, finds out that she has been
tricked, and resolves on revenge. Throwing Nikita into a slumber which
lasts for twenty-four hours, she has his feet cut off, and sets him
adrift in a boat; then she degrades her husband, turning him into a
swineherd, and she puts out the eyes of Nikita's brother Timofei. In
the course of time the brothers obtain from a Baba Yaga the healing
and vivifying waters, and so recover the eyes and feet they had lost.
The Witch-Queen is put to death, and Nikita lives happily as the
King's Prime Minister. The specific actions of the two waters are
described with great precision in this story. When the lame man
sprinkles his legs with the Healing Water, they become whole at once;
"his legs are quite sound, only they don't move." Then he applies the
Vivifying Water, and the use of his legs returns to him. Similarly
when the blind man applies the Healing Water to his empty orbits, he
obtains new eyes--"perfectly faultless eyes, only he cannot see with
them;" he applies the Vivifying Water, "and begins to see even better
than before."

In a Ryazan variant of the story,[327] Ivan Dearly-Bought, after his
legs have been cut off at the knees, and he has been left in a forest,
is found by a giant who has no arms, but who is so fleet that "no post
could catch him up." The two maimed heroes form an alliance. After a
time, they carry off a princess who is suffering from some mysterious
disease, and take her to their forest home. She tells them that her
illness is due to a Snake, which comes to her every night, entering by
the chimney, and sucks away her strength. The heroes seizes the Snake,
which takes them to the healing lake, and they are cured. Then they
restore the princess, also cured, to her father. Ivan returns to the
palace of the Enchantress Queen who had maimed him, and beats her with
red-hot iron bars until he has driven out of her all her magic
strength, "leaving her only one woman's strength, and that a very poor

In a Tula variant[328] the wicked wife, who has set her confiding
husband to tend her pigs, is killed by the hero. She had put out his
eyes, and had cut off the feet of another companion of her husband; in
this variant also the Healing Waters are found by the aid of a snake.

The supernatural steed which Katoma tamed belongs to an equine race
which often figures in the Skazkas. A good account of one of these
horses is given in the following story of--


  _We say that we are wise folks, but our old people dispute
  the fact, saying: "No, no, we were wiser than you are." But
  skazkas tell that, before our grandfathers had learnt anything,
  before their grandfathers[330] were born_--[331]

  There lived in a certain land an old man of this kind who instructed
  his three sons in reading and writing[332] and all book
  learning. Then said he to them:

  "Now, my children! When I die, mind you come and read
  prayers over my grave."

  "Very good, father, very good," they replied.

  The two elder brothers were such fine strapping fellows! so
  tall and stout! But as for the youngest one, Ivan, he was like
  a half-grown lad or a half-fledged duckling, terribly inferior to
  the others. Well, their old father died. At that very time
  there came tidings from the King, that his daughter, the Princess
  Helena the Fair, had ordered a shrine to be built for her
  with twelve columns, with twelve rows of beams. In that shrine
  she was sitting upon a high throne, and awaiting her bridegroom,
  the bold youth who, with a single bound of his swift steed,
  should reach high enough to kiss her on the lips. A stir ran
  through the whole youth of the nation. They took to licking
  their lips, and scratching their heads, and wondering to whose
  share so great an honor would fall.

  "Brothers!" said Vanyusha,[333] "our father is dead; which
  of us is to read prayers over his grave?"

  "Whoever feels inclined, let him go!" answered the

  So Vanya went. But as for his elder brothers they did
  nothing but exercise their horses, and curl their hair, and dye
  their mustaches.

  The second night came.

  "Brothers!" said Vanya, "I've done my share of reading.
  It's your turn now; which of you will go?"

  "Whoever likes can go and read. We've business to look
  after; don't you meddle."

  And they cocked their caps, and shouted, and whooped, and
  flew this way, and shot that way, and roved about the open

  So Vanyusha read prayers this time also--and on the third
  night, too.

  Well, his brothers got ready their horses, combed out their
  mustaches, and prepared to go next morning to test their
  mettle before the eyes of Helena the Fair.

  "Shall we take the youngster?" they thought. "No, no.
  What would be the good of him? He'd make folks laugh and
  put us to confusion; let's go by ourselves."

  So away they went. But Vanyusha wanted very much to
  have a look at the Princess Helena the Fair. He cried, cried
  bitterly; and went out to his father's grave. And his father
  heard him in his coffin, and came out to him, shook the damp
  earth off his body, and said:

  "Don't grieve, Vanya. I'll help you in your trouble."

  And immediately the old man drew himself up and straightened
  himself, and called aloud and whistled with a ringing
  voice, with a shrill[334] whistle.

  From goodness knows whence appeared a horse, the earth
  quaking beneath it, a flame rushing from its ears and nostrils.
  To and fro it flew, and then stood still before the old man, as if
  rooted in the ground, and cried,

  "What are thy commands?"

  Vanya crept into one of the horse's ears and out of the
  other, and turned into such a hero as no skazka can tell of, no
  pen describe! He mounted the horse, set his arms akimbo,
  and flew, just like a falcon, straight to the home of the Princess
  Helena. With a wave of his hand, with a bound aloft, he only
  failed by the breadth of two rows of beams. Back again he
  turned, galloped up, leapt aloft, and got within one beam-row's
  breadth. Once more he turned, once more he wheeled, then
  shot past the eye like a streak of fire, took an accurate aim, and
  kissed[335] the fair Helena right on the lips!

  "Who is he? Who is he? Stop him! Stop him!" was
  the cry. Not a trace of him was to be found!

  Away he galloped to his father's grave, let the horse go free,
  prostrated himself on the earth, and besought his father's counsel.
  And the old man held counsel with him.

  When he got home he behaved as if he hadn't been anywhere.
  His brothers talked away, describing where they had
  been, what they had seen, and he listened to them as of old.

  The next day there was a gathering again. In the princely
  halls there were more boyars and nobles than a single glance
  could take in. The elder brothers rode there. Their younger
  brother went there too, but on foot, meekly and modestly, just
  as if he hadn't kissed the Princess, and seated himself in a
  distant corner. The Princess Helena asked for her bridegroom,
  wanted to show him to the world at large, wanted to give him
  half her kingdom; but the bridegroom did not put in an appearance!
  Search was made for him among the boyars, among
  the generals; everyone was examined in his turn--but with no
  result! Meanwhile, Vanya looked on, smiling and chuckling,
  and waiting till the bride should come to him herself.

  "I pleased her then," says he, "when I appeared as a gay
  gallant; now let her fall in love with me in my plain caftan."

  Then up she rose, looked around with bright eyes that shed
  a radiance on all who stood there, and saw and knew her bridegroom,
  and made him take his seat by her side, and speedily was
  wedded to him. And he--good heavens! how clever he turned
  out, and how brave, and what a handsome fellow! Only see
  him mount his flying steed, give his cap a cock, and stick his
  elbows akimbo! why, you'd say he was a king, a born king!
  you'd never suspect he once was only Vanyusha.

The incident of the midnight watch by a father's grave, kept by a son
to whom the dead man appears and gives a magic horse, often occurs in
the Skazkas. It is thoroughly in accordance with Slavonic ideas about
the residence of the dead in their tombs, and their ability to assist
their descendants in time of trouble. Appeals for aid to a dead parent
are of frequent occurrence in the songs still sung by the Russian
peasantry at funerals or over graves; especially in those in which
orphans express their grief, calling upon the grave to open, and the
dead to appear and listen and help.[336] So in the Indian story of
Punchkin, the seven hungry stepmother-persecuted princesses go out
every day and sit by their dead mother's tomb, and cry, and say, "Oh,
mother, mother, cannot you see your poor children, how unhappy we
are," etc., until a tree grows up out of the grave laden with fruits
for their relief.[337] So in the German tale,[338] Cinderella is aided
by the white bird, which dwells in the hazel tree growing out of her
mother's grave.

In one of the Skazkas[339] a stepdaughter is assisted by her cow. The
girl, following its instructions, gets in at one ear and out of the
other, and finds all her tasks performed, all her difficulties
removed. When it is killed, there springs from its bones a tree which
befriends the girl, and gains her a lordly husband. In a Servian
variant of the story, it is distinctly stated that the protecting cow
had been the girl's mother--manifestly in a previous state of
existence, a purely Buddhistic idea.[340]

In several of the Skazkas we find an account of a princess who is won
in a similar manner to that described in the story of Helena the Fair.
In one case,[341] a king promises to give his daughter to anyone "who
can pluck her portrait from the house, from the other side of ever so
many beams." The youngest brother, Ivan the Simpleton, carries away
the portrait and its cover at the third trial. In another, a king
offers his daughter and half his kingdom to him "who can kiss the
princess through twelve sheets of glass."[342] The usual youngest
brother is carried towards her so forcibly by his magic steed that, at
the first trial, he breaks through six of the sheets of glass; at the
second, says the story, "he smashed all twelve of the sheets of glass,
and he kissed the Princess Priceless-Beauty, and she immediately
stamped a mark upon his forehead." By this mark, after he has
disappeared for some time, he is eventually recognized, and the
princess is obliged to marry him.[343] In a third story,[344] the
conditions of winning the princely bride are easier, for "he who takes
a leap on horseback, and kisses the king's daughter on the balcony, to
him will they give her to wife." In a fourth, the princess is to marry
the man "who, on horseback, bounds up to her on the third floor." At
the first trial, the _Durak_, or Fool, reaches the first floor, at the
next, the second; and the third time, "he bounds right up to the
princess, and carries off from her a ring."[345]

In the Norse story of "Dapplegrim,"[346] a younger brother saves a
princess who had been stolen by a Troll, and hidden in a cave above a
steep wall of rock as smooth as glass. Twice his magic horse tries in
vain to surmount it, but the third time it succeeds, and the youth
carries off the princess, who ultimately becomes his wife. Another
Norse story still more closely resembles the Russian tales. In "The
Princess on the Glass Hill"[347] the hero gains a Princess as his wife
by riding up a hill of glass, on the top of which she sits with three
golden apples in her lap, and by carrying off these precious fruits.
He is enabled to perform this feat by a magic horse, which he obtains
by watching his father's crops on three successive St. John's Nights.

In a Celtic story,[348] a king promises his daughter, and two-thirds
of his kingdom, to anyone who can get her out of a turret which "was
aloft, on the top of four carraghan towers." The hero Conall kicks
"one of the posts that was keeping the turret aloft," the post breaks,
and the turret falls, but Conall catches it in his hands before it
reaches the ground, a door opens, and out comes the Princess Sunbeam,
and throws her arms about Conall's neck.

In most of these stories the wife-gaining leap is so vaguely described
that it is allowable to suppose that the original idea has been
greatly obscured in the course of travel. In some Eastern stories it
is set in a much plainer light; in one modern collection for
instance,[349] it occurs four times. A princess is so fond of her
marble bath, which is "like a little sea," with high spiked walls all
around it, that she vows she will marry no one who cannot jump across
it on horseback. Another princess determines to marry him only who can
leap into the glass palace in which she dwells, surrounded by a wide
river; and many kings and princes perish miserably in attempting to
perform the feat. A third king's daughter lives in a garden "hedged
round with seven hedges made of bayonets," by which her suitors are
generally transfixed. A fourth "has vowed to marry no man who cannot
jump on foot over the seven hedges made of spears, and across the
seven great ditches that surround her house;" and "hundreds of
thousands of Rajahs have tried to do it, and died in the attempt."

The secluded princess of these stories may have been primarily akin
to the heroine of the "Sleeping Beauty" tales, but no special
significance appears now to be attributable to her isolation. The
original idea seems to have been best preserved in the two legends of
the wooing of Brynhild by Sigurd, in the first of which he awakens her
from her magic sleep, while in the second he gains her hand (for
Gunnar) by a daring and difficult ride--for "him only would she have
who should ride through the flaming fire that was drawn about her
hall." Gunnar fails to do so, but Sigurd succeeds; his horse leaps
into the fire, "and a mighty roar arose as the fire burned ever
madder, and the earth trembled, and the flames went up even unto the
heavens, nor had any dared to ride as he rode, even as it were through
the deep murk."[350]

We will take next a story which is a great favorite in Russia, and
which will serve as another illustration of the use made of magical
"properties" in the Skazkas.


  There were once three brothers, of whom two were sharp-witted,
  but the third was a fool. The elder brothers set off to
  sell their goods in the towns down the river,[352] and said to the

  "Now mind, fool! obey our wives, and pay them respect as
  if they were your own mothers. We'll buy you red boots, and
  a red caftan, and a red shirt."

  The fool said to them:

  "Very good; I will pay them respect."

  They gave the fool their orders and went away to the downstream
  towns; but the fool stretched himself on top of the stove
  and remained lying there. His brothers' wives say to him--

  "What are you about, fool! your brothers ordered you to
  pay us respect, and in return for that each of them was going to
  bring you a present, but there you lie on the stove and don't do
  a bit of work. Go and fetch some water, at all events."

  The fool took a couple of pails and went to fetch the water.
  As he scooped it up, a pike happened to get into his pail. Says
  the fool:

  "Glory to God! now I will cook this pike, and will eat it all
  myself; I won't give a bit of it to my sisters-in-law. I'm savage
  with them!"

  The pike says to him with a human voice:

  "Don't eat me, fool! if you'll put me back again into the
  water you shall have good luck!"

  Says the fool, "What sort of good luck shall I get from

  "Why, this sort of good luck: whatever you say, that shall
  be done. Say, for instance, 'By the Pike's command, at my
  request, go home, ye pails, and be set in your places.'"

  As soon as the fool had said this, the pails immediately
  went home of their own accord and became set in their places.
  The sisters-in-law looked and wondered.

  "What sort of a fool is this!" they say. "Why, he's so
  knowing, you see, that his pails have come home and gone to
  their places of their own accord!"

  The fool came back and lay down on the stove. Again did
  his brothers' wives begin saying to him--

  "What are you lying on the stove for, fool? there's no wood
  for the fire; go and fetch some."

  The fool took two axes and got into a sledge, but without
  harnessing a horse to it.

  "By the Pike's command," he says, "at my request, drive,
  into the forest, O sledge!"

  Away went the sledge at a rattling pace, as if urged on by
  some one. The fool had to pass by a town, and the people he
  met were jammed into corners by his horseless sledge in a way
  that was perfectly awful. They all began crying out:

  "Stop him! Catch him!"

  But they couldn't lay hands on him. The fool drove into
  the forest, got out of the sledge, sat down on a log, and said--

  "One of you axes fell the trees, while the other cuts them
  up into billets."

  Well, the firewood was cut up and piled on the sledge. Then
  says the fool:

  "Now then, one of you axes! go and cut me a cudgel,[353] as
  heavy a one as I can lift."

  The axe went and cut him a cudgel, and the cudgel came
  and lay on top of the load.

  The fool took his seat and drove off. He drove by the
  town, but the townspeople had met together and had been looking
  out for him for ever so long. So they stopped the fool, laid
  hands upon him, and began pulling him about. Says the fool--

  "By the Pike's command, at my request, go, O cudgel, and
  bestir thyself."

  Out jumped the cudgel, and took to thumping and smashing,
  and knocked over ever such a lot of people. There they lay on
  the ground, strewed about like so many sheaves of corn. The
  fool got clear of them and drove home, heaped up the wood,
  and then lay down on the stove.

  Meanwhile, the townspeople got up a petition against him,
  and denounced him to the King, saying:

  "Folks say there's no getting hold of him the way we tried;[354]
  we must entice him by cunning, and the best way of all will be
  to promise him a red shirt, and a red caftan, and red boots."

  So the King's runners came for the fool.

  "Go to the King," they say, "he will give you red boots, a
  red caftan, and a red shirt."

  Well, the fool said:

  "By the Pike's command, at my request, do thou, O stove,
  go to the King!"

  He was seated on the stove at the time. The stove went;
  the fool arrived at the King's.

  The King was going to put him to death, but he had a
  daughter, and she took a tremendous liking to the fool. So
  she began begging her father to give her in marriage to the fool.
  Her father flew into a passion. He had them married, and
  then ordered them both to be placed in a tub, and the tub to be
  tarred over and thrown into the water; all which was done.

  Long did the tub float about on the sea. His wife began to
  beseech the fool:

  "Do something to get us cast on shore!"

  "By the Pike's command, at my request," said the fool,
  "cast this tub ashore and tear it open!"

  He and his wife stepped out of the tub. Then she again
  began imploring him to build some sort of a house. The fool

  "By the Pike's command, at my request, let a marble palace
  be built, and let it stand immediately opposite the King's

  This was all done in an instant. In the morning the King
  saw the new palace, and sent to enquire who it was that lived
  in it. As soon as he learnt that his daughter lived there, that
  very minute he summoned her and her husband. They came.
  The King pardoned them, and they all began living together
  and flourishing.[355]

"The Pike," observes Afanasief, "is a fish of great repute in
northern mythology." One of the old Russian songs still sung at
Christmas, tells how a Pike comes from Novgorod, its scales of silver
and gold, its back woven with pearls, a costly diamond gleaming in its
head instead of eyes. And this song is one which promises wealth, a
fact connecting the Russian fish with that Scandinavian pike which was
a shape assumed by Andvari--the dwarf-guardian of the famous treasure,
from which sprang the woes recounted in the _Völsunga Saga_ and the
_Nibelungenlied_. According to a Lithuanian tradition,[356] there is a
certain lake which is ruled by the monstrous pike Strukis. It sleeps
only once a year, and then only for a single hour. It used always to
sleep on St. John's Night, but a fisherman once took advantage of its
slumber to catch a quantity of its scaly subjects. Strukis awoke in
time to upset the fisherman's boat; but fearing a repetition of the
attempt, it now changes each year the hour of its annual sleep. A
gigantic pike figures also in the _Kalevala_.

It would be easy to fill with similar stories, not only a section of
a chapter, but a whole volume; but instead of quoting any more of
them, I will take a few specimens from a different, though a somewhat
kindred group of tales--those which relate to the magic powers
supposed to be wielded in modern times by dealers in the Black Art.
Such narratives as these are to be found in every land, but Russia is
specially rich in them, the faith of the peasantry in the existence of
Witches and Wizards, Turnskins and Vampires, not having been as yet
seriously shaken. Some of the stories relating to the supernatural
Witch, who evidently belongs to the demon world, have already been
given. In those which I am about to quote, the wizard or witch who is
mentioned is a human being, but one who has made a compact with evil
spirits, and has thereby become endowed with strange powers. Such
monsters as these are, throughout their lives, a terror to the
district they inhabit; nor does their evil influence die with them,
for after they have been laid in the earth, they assume their direst
aspect, and as Vampires bent on blood, night after night, they go
forth from their graves to destroy. As I have elsewhere given some
account of Slavonic beliefs in witchcraft,[357] I will do little more
at present than allow the stories to speak for themselves. They will
be recognized as being akin to the tales about sorcery current farther
west, but they are of a more savage nature. The rustic warlocks and
witches of whom we are accustomed to hear have little, if any, of that
thirst for blood which so unfavorably characterizes their Slavonic
counterparts. Here is a story, by way of example, of a most gloomy


  Late one evening, a Cossack rode into a village, pulled up at
  its last cottage, and cried--

  "Heigh, master! will you let me spend the night here?"

  "Come in, if you don't fear death!"

  "What sort of a reply is that?" thought the Cossack, as he
  put his horse up in the stable. After he had given it its food
  he went into the cottage. There he saw its inmates, men and
  women and little children, all sobbing and crying and praying to
  God; and when they had done praying, they began putting on
  clean shirts.

  "What are you crying about?" asked the Cossack.

  "Why you see," replied the master of the house, "in our
  village Death goes about at night. Into whatsoever cottage she
  looks, there, next morning, one has to put all the people who
  lived in it into coffins, and carry them off to the graveyard. To-night
  it's our turn."

  "Never fear, master! 'Without God's will, no pig gets its

  The people of the house lay down to sleep; but the Cossack
  was on the look-out and never closed an eye. Exactly at midnight
  the window opened. At the window appeared a witch all
  in white. She took a sprinkler, passed her arm into the cottage,
  and was just on the point of sprinkling--when the Cossack
  suddenly gave his sabre a sweep, and cut her arm off close to
  the shoulder. The witch howled, squealed, yelped like a dog,
  and fled away. But the Cossack picked up the severed arm,
  hid it under his cloak, washed away the stains of blood, and lay
  down to sleep.

  Next morning the master and mistress awoke, and saw that
  everyone, without a single exception, was alive and well, and
  they were delighted beyond expression.

  "If you like," says the Cossack, "I'll show you Death!
  Call together all the Sotniks and Desyatniks[359] as quickly as
  possible, and let's go through the village and look for her."

  Straightway all the Sotniks and Desyatniks came together
  and went from house to house. In this one there's nothing, in
  that one there's nothing, until at last they come to the Ponomar's[360]

  "Is all your family present?" asks the Cossack.

  "No, my own! one of my daughters is ill. She's lying on
  the stove there."

  The Cossack looked towards the stove--one of the girl's arms
  had evidently been cut off. Thereupon he told the whole story
  of what had taken place, and he brought out and showed the
  arm which had been cut off. The commune rewarded the
  Cossack with a sum of money, and ordered that witch to be

Stories of this kind are common in all lands, but the witches about
whom they are told generally assume the forms of beasts of prey,
especially of wolves, or of cats. A long string of similar tales will
be found in Dr. Wilhelm Hertz's excellent and exhaustive monograph on
werwolves.[361] Very important also is the Polish story told by
Wojcicki[362] of the village which is attacked by the Plague, embodied
in the form of a woman, who roams from house to house in search of
victims. One night, as she goes her rounds, all doors and windows have
been barred against her except one casement. This has been left open
by a nobleman who is ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of
others. The Pest Maiden arrives, and thrusts her arm in at his window.
The nobleman cuts it off, and so rids the village of its fatal
visitor. In an Indian story,[363] a hero undertakes to watch beside
the couch of a haunted princess. When all is still a Rákshasa appears
on the threshold, opens the door, and thrusts into the room an
arm--which the hero cuts off. The fiend disappears howling, and leaves
his arm behind.

The horror of the next story is somewhat mitigated by a slight
infusion of the grotesque--but this may arise from a mere accident,
and be due to the exceptional cheerfulness of some link in the chain
of its narrators.


  In a certain country there lived a King; and this King had a
  daughter who was an enchantress. Near the royal palace there
  dwelt a priest, and the priest had a boy of ten years old, who
  went every day to an old woman to learn reading and writing.
  Now it happened one day that he came away from his lessons
  late in the evening, and as he passed by the palace he looked
  in at one of the windows. At that window the Princess happened
  to be sitting and dressing herself. She took off her head,
  lathered it with soap, washed it with clean water, combed its
  hair, plaited its long back braid, and then put it back again in
  its proper place. The boy was lost in wonder.

  "What a clever creature!" thinks he. "A downright

  And when he got home he began telling every one how he
  had seen the Princess without her head.

  All of a sudden the King's daughter fell grievously ill, and
  she sent for her father, and strictly enjoined him, saying--

  "If I die, make the priest's son read the psalter over me
  three nights running."

  The Princess died; they placed her in a coffin, and carried
  it to church. Then the king summoned the priest, and said--

  "Have you got a son?"

  "I have, your majesty."

  "Well then," said the King, "let him read the psalter over
  my daughter three nights running."

  The priest returned home, and told his son to get ready. In
  the morning the priest's son went to his lessons, and sat over
  his book looking ever so gloomy.

  "What are you unhappy about?" asked the old woman.

  "How can I help being unhappy, when I'm utterly done

  "Why what's the matter? Speak out plainly."

  "Well then, granny, I've got to read psalms over the princess,
  and, do you know, she's a witch!"

  "I knew that before you did! But don't be frightened,
  there's a knife for you. When you go into the church, trace a
  circle round you; then read away from your psalter and don't
  look behind you. Whatever happens there, whatever horrors
  may appear, mind your own business and go on reading, reading.
  But if you look behind you, it will be all over with you!"

  In the evening the boy went to the church, traced a circle
  round him with the knife, and betook himself to the psalter.
  Twelve o'clock struck. The lid of the coffin flew up; the Princess
  arose, leapt out, and cried--

  "Now I'll teach you to go peeping through my windows, and
  telling people what you saw!"

  She began rushing at the priest's son, but she couldn't anyhow
  break into the circle. Then she began to conjure up all
  sorts of horrors. But in spite of all that she did, he went on
  reading and reading, and never gave a look round. And at daybreak
  the Princess rushed at her coffin, and tumbled into it at
  full length, all of a heap.

  The next night everything went on just the same. The
  priest's son wasn't a bit afraid, went on reading without a stop
  right up to daybreak, and in the morning went to the old woman.
  She asked him--

  "Well! have you seen horrors?"

  "Yes, granny!"

  "It will be still more horrible this time. Here's a hammer
  for you and four nails. Knock them into the four corners of the
  coffin, and when you begin reading the psalter, stick up the
  hammer in front of you."

  In the evening the priest's son went to the church, and did
  everything just as the old woman had told him. Twelve o'clock
  struck, the coffin lid fell to the ground, the Princess jumped up
  and began tearing from side to side, and threatening the youth.
  Then she conjured up horrors, this time worse than before. It
  seemed to him as if a fire had broken out in the church; all
  the walls were wrapped in flames! But he held his ground
  and went on reading, never once looking behind him. Just before
  daybreak the Princess rushed to her coffin--then the fire
  seemed to go out immediately, and all the deviltry vanished!

  In the morning the King came to the church, and saw that
  the coffin was open, and in the coffin lay the princess, face downwards.

  "What's the meaning of all this?" says he.

  The lad told him everything that had taken place. Then the
  king gave orders that an aspen stake should be driven into his
  daughter's breast, and that her body should be thrust into a hole
  in the ground. But he rewarded the priest's son with a heap of
  money and various lands.

Perhaps the most remarkable among the stories of this class is the
following, which comes from Little Russia. Those readers who are
acquainted with the works of Gogol, the great Russian novelist, who
was a native of that part of the country, will observe how closely he
has kept to popular traditions in his thrilling story of the _Vy_,
which has been translated into English, from the French, under the
title of "The King of the Gnomes."[365]


  Once upon a time there was a Soldier who served God and the
  great Gosudar for fifteen years, without ever setting eyes on his
  parents. At the end of that time there came an order from the
  Tsar to grant leave to the soldiers--to twenty-five of each company
  at a time--to go and see their families. Together with
  the rest our Soldier, too, got leave to go, and set off to pay a
  visit to his home in the government of Kief. After a time he
  reached Kief, visited the _Lavra_, prayed to God, bowed down
  before the holy relics, and then started again for his birthplace,
  a provincial town not far off. Well, he walked and walked.
  Suddenly there happens to meet him a fair maiden who was the
  daughter of a merchant in that same town; a most remarkable
  beauty. Now everyone knows that if a soldier catches sight of
  a pretty girl, nothing will make him pass her by quietly, but he
  hooks on to her somehow or other. And so this Soldier gets
  alongside of the merchant's daughter, and says to her jokingly--

  "How now, fair damsel! not broken in to harness yet?"

  "God knows, soldier, who breaks in whom," replies the girl.
  "I may do it to you, or you to me."

  So saying she laughed and went her way. Well, the Soldier
  arrived at home, greeted his family, and rejoiced greatly at finding
  they were all in good health.

  Now he had an old grandfather, as white as a _lun_, who had
  lived a hundred years and a bit. The Soldier was gossiping
  with him, and said:

  "As I was coming home, grandfather, I happened to meet
  an uncommonly fine girl, and, sinner that I am, I chaffed her,
  and she said to me:

  "'God knows, soldier, whether you'll break me in to harness,
  or I'll break you.'"

  "Eh, sirs! whatever have you done? Why that's the
  daughter of our merchant here, an awful witch! She's sent
  more than one fine young fellow out of the white world."

  "Well, well! I'm not one of the timid ones, either! You
  won't frighten me in a hurry. We'll wait and see what God will

  "No, no, grandson!" says the grandfather. "If you don't
  listen to me, you won't be alive to-morrow!"

  "Here's a nice fix!" says the Soldier.

  "Yes, such a fix that you've never known anything half so
  awful, even when soldiering."

  "What must I do then, grandfather?"

  "Why this. Provide yourself with a bridle, and take a thick
  aspen cudgel, and sit quietly in the izba--don't stir a step anywhere.
  During the night she will come running in, and if she
  manages to say before you can 'Stand still, my steed!' you
  will straightway turn into a horse. Then she will jump upon
  your back, and will make you gallop about until she has ridden
  you to death. But if you manage to say before she speaks,
  'Tprru! stand still, jade!' she will be turned into a mare.
  Then you must bridle her and jump on her back. She will run
  away with you over hill and dale, but do you hold your own; hit
  her over the head with the aspen cudgel, and go on hitting her
  until you beat her to death."

  The Soldier hadn't expected such a job as this, but there
  was no help for it. So he followed his grandfather's advice,
  provided himself with a bridle and an aspen cudgel, took his
  seat in a corner, and waited to see what would happen. At the
  midnight hour the passage door creaked and the sound of steps
  was heard; the witch was coming! The moment the door of
  the room opened, the Soldier immediately cried out--

  "Tprru! stand still, jade!"

  The witch turned into a mare, and he bridled her, led her
  into the yard, and jumped on her back. The mare carried him
  off over hills and dales and ravines, and did all she could to try
  and throw her rider. But no! the Soldier stuck on tight, and
  thumped her over the head like anything with the aspen cudgel,
  and went on treating her with a taste of the cudgel until he
  knocked her off her feet, and then pitched into her as she lay on
  the ground, gave her another half-dozen blows or so, and at last
  beat her to death.

  By daybreak he got home.

  "Well, my friend! how have you got on?" asks his grandfather.

  "Glory be to God, grandfather! I've beaten her to death!"

  "All right! now lie down and go to sleep."

  The Soldier lay down and fell into a deep slumber. Towards
  evening the old man awoke him--

  "Get up, grandson."

  He got up.

  "What's to be done now? As the merchant's daughter is
  dead, you see, her father will come after you, and will bid you
  to his house to read psalms over the dead body."

  "Well, grandfather, am I to go, or not?"

  "If you go, there'll be an end of you; and if you don't go,
  there'll be an end of you! Still, it's best to go."

  "But if anything happens, how shall I get out of it?"

  "Listen, grandson! When you go to the merchant's he will
  offer you brandy; don't you drink much--drink only a moderate
  allowance. Afterwards the merchant will take you into the room
  in which his daughter is lying in her coffin, and will lock you in
  there. You will read out from the psalter all the evening, and
  up to midnight. Exactly at midnight a strong wind will suddenly
  begin to blow, the coffin will begin to shake, its lid will
  fall off. Well, as soon as these horrors begin, jump on to the
  stove as quick as you can, squeeze yourself into a corner, and
  silently offer up prayers. She won't find you there."

  Half an hour later came the merchant, and besought the
  Soldier, crying:

  "Ah, Soldier! there's a daughter of mine dead; come and
  read the psalter over her."

  The Soldier took a psalter and went off to the merchant's
  house. The merchant was greatly pleased, seated him at his
  table, and began offering him brandy to drink. The Soldier
  drank, but only moderately, and declined to drink any more.
  The merchant took him by the hand and led him to the room in
  which the corpse lay.

  "Now then," he says, "read away at your psalter."

  Then he went out and locked the door. There was no help
  for it, so the Soldier took to his psalter and read and read.
  Exactly at midnight there was a great blast of wind, the coffin
  began to rock, its lid flew off. The Soldier jumped quickly on
  to the stove, hid himself in a corner, guarded himself by a sign
  of the cross, and began whispering prayers. Meanwhile the
  witch had leapt out of the coffin, and was rushing about from
  side to side--now here, now there. Then there came running
  up to her countless swarms of evil spirits; the room was full of

  "What are you looking for?" say they.

  "A soldier. He was reading here a moment ago, and now
  he's vanished!"

  The devils eagerly set to work to hunt him up. They
  searched and searched, they rummaged in all the corners. At
  last they cast their eyes on the stove; at that moment, luckily
  for the Soldier, the cocks began to crow. In the twinkling of
  an eye all the devils had vanished, and the witch lay all of a
  heap on the floor. The Soldier got down from the stove, laid
  her body in the coffin, covered it up all right with the lid, and
  betook himself again to his psalter. At daybreak came the
  master of the house, opened the door, and said--

  "Hail, Soldier!"

  "I wish you good health, master merchant."

  "Have you spent the night comfortably?"

  "Glory be to God! yes."

  "There are fifty roubles for you, but come again, friend, and
  read another night."

  "Very good, I'll come."

  The Soldier returned home, lay down on the bench, and
  slept till evening. Then he awoke and said--

  "Grandfather, the merchant bid me go and read the psalter
  another night. Should I go or not?"

  "If you go, you won't remain alive, and if you don't go, just
  the same! But you'd better go. Don't drink much brandy,
  drink just what is right; and when the wind blows, and the
  coffin begins to rock, slip straight into the stove. There no one
  will find you."

  The Soldier got ready and went to the merchant's, who
  seated him at table, and began plying him with brandy. Afterwards
  he took him to where the corpse was, and locked him into
  the room.

  The Soldier went on reading, reading. Midnight came, the
  wind blew, the coffin began to rock, the coffin lid fell afar off on
  the ground. He was into the stove in a moment. Out jumped
  the witch and began rushing about; round her swarmed devils,
  the room was full of them!

  "What are you looking for?" they cry.

  "Why, there he was reading a moment ago, and now he's
  vanished out of sight. I can't find him."

  The devils flung themselves on the stove.

  "Here's the place," they cried, "where he was last night!"

  There was the place, but he wasn't there! This way and
  that they rushed. Suddenly the cocks began to crow, the devils
  vanished, the witch lay stretched on the floor.

  The Soldier stayed awhile to recover his breath, crept out
  of the stove, put the merchant's daughter back in her coffin, and
  took to reading the psalter again. Presently he looks round,
  the day has already dawned. His host arrives:

  "Hail, Soldier!" says he.

  "I wish you good health, master merchant."

  "Has the night passed comfortably?"

  "Glory be to God! yes."

  "Come along here, then."

  The merchant led him out of the room, gave him a hundred
  roubles, and said--

  "Come, please, and read here a third night; I sha'n't treat
  you badly."

  "Good, I'll come."

  The Soldier returned home.

  "Well, grandson, what has God sent you?" says his grandfather.

  "Nothing much, grandfather! The merchant told me to
  come again. Should I go or not?"

  "If you go, you won't remain alive, and if you don't go, you
  won't remain alive! But you'd better go."

  "But if anything happens where must I hide?"

  "I'll tell you, grandson. Buy yourself a frying-pan, and hide
  it so that the merchant sha'n't see it. When you go to his house
  he'll try to force a lot of brandy on you. You look out, don't
  drink much, drink just what you can stand. At midnight, as
  soon as the wind begins to roar, and the coffin to rock, do you
  that very moment climb on to the stove-pipe, and cover yourself
  over with the frying-pan. There no one will find you out."

  The Soldier had a good sleep, bought himself a frying-pan,[367]
  hid it under his cloak, and towards evening went to the merchant's
  house. The merchant seated him at table and took to plying
  him with liquor--tried every possible kind of invitation and
  cajolery on him.

  "No," says the Soldier, "that will do. I've had my whack.
  I won't have any more."

  "Well, then, if you won't drink, come along and read your

  The merchant took him to his dead daughter, left him alone
  with her, and locked the door.

  The Soldier read and read. Midnight came, the wind blew,
  the coffin began to rock, the cover flew afar off. The Soldier
  jumped up on the stove-pipe, covered himself with the frying-pan,
  protected himself with a sign of the cross, and awaited what was
  going to happen. Out jumped the witch and began rushing
  about. Round her came swarming countless devils, the izba
  was full of them! They rushed about in search of the Soldier;
  they looked into the stove--

  "Here's the place," they cried, "where he was last night."

  "There's the place, but he's not there."

  This way and that they rush,--cannot see him anywhere.
  Presently there stepped across the threshold a very old devil.

  "What are you looking for?"

  "The Soldier. He was reading here a moment ago, and now
  he's disappeared."

  "Ah! no eyes! And who's that sitting on the stove-pipe

  The Soldier's heart thumped like anything; he all but tumbled
  down on the ground!

  "There he is, sure enough!" cried the devils, "but how are
  we to settle him. Surely it's impossible to reach him there?"

  "Impossible, forsooth! Run and lay your hands on a candle-end
  which has been lighted without a blessing having been
  uttered over it."

  In an instant the devils brought the candle-end, piled up a
  lot of wood right under the stove-pipe, and set it alight. The
  flame leapt high into the air, the Soldier began to roast: first one
  foot, then the other, he drew up under him.

  "Now," thinks he, "my death has come!"

  All of a sudden, luckily for him, the cocks began to crow,
  the devils vanished, the witch fell flat on the floor. The soldier
  jumped down from the stove-pipe, and began putting out the
  fire. When he had put it out he set every thing to rights, placed
  the merchant's daughter in her coffin, covered it up with the
  lid, and betook himself to reading the psalter. At daybreak
  came the merchant, and listened at the door to find out whether
  the Soldier was alive or not. When he heard his voice he
  opened the door and said--

  "Hail, Soldier!"

  "I wish you good health, master merchant."

  "Have you passed the night comfortably?"

  "Glory be to God, I've seen nothing bad."

  The merchant gave him a hundred and fifty roubles, and

  "You've done a deal of work, Soldier! do a little more.
  Come here to-night and carry my daughter to the graveyard."

  "Good, I'll come."

  "Well, friend, what has God given?"

  "Glory be to God, grandfather, I've got off safe! The merchant
  has asked me to be at his house to-night, to carry his
  daughter to the graveyard. Should I go or not?"

  "If you go, you won't be alive, and if you don't go, you won't
  be alive. But you must go; it will be better so."

  "But what must I do? tell me."

  "Well this. When you get to the merchant's, everything will
  be ready there. At ten o'clock the relations of the deceased will
  begin taking leave of her; and afterwards they will fasten three
  iron hoops round the coffin, and place it on the funeral car; and
  at eleven o'clock they will tell you to take it to the graveyard.
  Do you drive off with the coffin, but keep a sharp look-out. One
  of the hoops will snap. Never fear, keep your seat bravely; a
  second will snap, keep your seat all the same; but when the
  third hoop snaps, instantly jump on to the horse's back and
  through the _duga_ (the wooden arch above its neck), and run
  away backwards. Do that, and no harm will come to you."

  The Soldier lay down to sleep, slept till the evening, and then
  went to the merchant's. At ten o'clock the relations began
  taking leave of the deceased; then they set to work to fasten
  iron hoops round the coffin. They fastened the hoops, set the
  coffin on the funeral car, and cried--

  "Now then, Soldier! drive off, and God speed you!"

  The Soldier got into the car and set off: at first he drove
  slowly, but as soon as he was out of sight he let the horse go
  full split. Away he galloped, but all the while he kept an eye on
  the coffin. Snap went one hoop--and then another. The witch
  began gnashing her teeth.

  "Stop!" she cried, "you sha'n't escape! I shall eat you up
  in another moment."

  "No, dovey! Soldiers are crown property; no one is allowed
  to eat them."

  Here the last hoop snapped: on to the horse jumped the
  Soldier, and through the _duga_, and then set off running backwards.
  The witch leapt out of the coffin and tore away in pursuit.
  Lighting on the Soldier's footsteps she followed them back
  to the horse, ran right round it, saw the soldier wasn't there, and
  set off again in pursuit of him. She ran and ran, lighted again
  on his footsteps, and again came back to the horse. Utterly at
  her wit's end, she did the same thing some ten times over. Suddenly
  the cocks began crowing. There lay the witch stretched
  out flat on the road! The Soldier picked her up, put her in the
  coffin, slammed the lid down, and drove her to the graveyard.
  When he got there he lowered the coffin into the grave, shovelled
  the earth on top of it, and returned to the merchant's house.

  "I've done it all," says he; "catch hold of your horse."

  When the merchant saw the Soldier he stared at him with
  wide-open eyes.

  "Well, Soldier!" said he, "I know a good deal! and as to
  my daughter, we needn't speak of her. She was awfully sharp,
  she was! But, really, you know more than we do!"

  "Come now, master merchant! pay me for my work."

  So the merchant handed him over two hundred roubles. The
  soldier took them, thanked him, and then went home, and gave
  his family a feast.

      [The next chapter will contain a number of vampire
      stories which, in some respects, resemble these tales
      of homicidal corpses. But most of them belong, I
      think, to a separate group, due to a different myth or
      superstition from that which has given rise to such
      tales as those quoted above. The vampire is actuated
      by a thirst which can be quenched only by blood, and
      which impels it to go forth from the grave and
      destroy. But the enchanted corpses which rise at
      midnight, and attempt to rend their watchers, appear
      to owe their ferocity to demoniacal possession. After
      the death of a witch her body is liable, says popular
      tradition, to be tenanted by a devil (as may be seen
      from No. iii.), and to corpses thus possessed have
      been attributed by the storytellers the terrible deeds
      which Indian tales relate of Rákshasas and other evil
      spirits. Thus in the story of Nischayadatta, in the
      seventh book of the "Kathásaritságara," the hero and
      the four pilgrims, his companions, have to pass a
      night in a deserted temple of Siva. It is haunted by a
      _Yakshini_, a female demon, who turns men by spells
      into brutes, and then eats them; so they sit watching
      and praying beside a fire round which they have traced
      a circle of ashes. At midnight the demon-enchantress
      arrives, dancing and "blowing on a flute made of a
      dead man's bone." Fixing her eyes on one of the
      pilgrims, she mutters a spell, accompanied by a wild
      dance. Out of the head of the doomed man grows a horn;
      he loses all command over himself, leaps up, and
      dances into the flames. The _Yakshini_ seizes his
      half-burnt corpse and devours it. Then she treats the
      second and the third pilgrim in the same way. But just
      as she is turning to the fourth, she lays her flute on
      the ground. In an instant the hero seizes it, and
      begins to blow it and to dance wildly around the
      _Yakshini_, fixing his eyes upon her and applying to
      her the words of her own spell. Deprived by it of all
      power, she submits, and from that time forward renders
      the hero good service.[368]]

In one of the skazkas a malignant witch is destroyed by a benignant
female power. It had been predicted that a certain baby princess would
begin flying about the world as soon as she was fifteen. So her
parents shut her up in a building in which she never saw the light of
day, nor the face of a man. For it was illuminated by artificial
means, and none but women had access to it. But one day, when her
nurses and _Mamzeli_ had gone to a feast at the palace, she found a
door unlocked, and made her way into the sunlight. After this her
attendants were obliged to allow her to go where she wished, when her
parents were away. As she went roaming about the palace she came to a
cage "in which a _Zhar-Ptitsa_,[369] lay [as if] dead." This bird, her
guardians told her, slept soundly all day, but at night her papa flew
about on it. Farther on she came to a veiled portrait. When the veil
was lifted, she cried in astonishment "Can such beauty be?" and
determined to fly on the _Zhar-Ptitsa_ to the original of the picture.
So at night she sought the _Zhar-Ptitsa_, which was sitting up and
flapping its wings, and asked whether she might fly abroad on its
back. The bird consented and bore her far away. Three times it carried
her to the room of the prince whose portrait she had so much admired.
On the first and second occasion he remained asleep during her visit,
having been plunged into a magic slumber by the _Zhar-Ptitsa_. But
during her third visit he awoke, "and he and she wept and wept, and
exchanged betrothal rings." So long did they remain talking that,
before the _Zhar-Ptitsa_ and his rider could get back, "the day began
to dawn--the bird sank lower and lower and fell to the ground." Then
the princess, thinking it was really dead, buried it in the
earth--having first cut off its wings, and "attached them to herself
so as to walk more lightly."

After various adventures she comes to a land of mourning. "Why are
you so mournful?" she asks. "Because our king's son has gone out of
his mind," is the reply. "He eats a man every night." Thereupon she
goes to the king and obtains leave to watch the prince by night. As
the clock strikes twelve the prince, who is laden with chains, makes a
rush at her; but the wings of the _Zhar-Ptitsa_ rustle around her, and
he sits down again. This takes place three times, after which the
light goes out. She leaves the room in search of the means of
rekindling it, sees a glimmer in the distance, and sets off with a
lantern in search of it. Presently she finds an old witch who is
sitting before a fire, above which seethes a cauldron. "What have you
got there?" she asks. "When this cauldron seethes," replies the witch,
"within it does the heart of Prince Ivan rage madly."

Pretending to be merely getting a light, the Princess contrives to
splash the seething liquid over the witch, who immediately falls dead.
Then she looks into the cauldron, and there, in truth, she sees the
Prince's heart. When she returns to his room he has recovered his
senses. "Thank you for bringing a light," he says. "Why am I in
chains?" "Thus and thus," says she. "You went out of your mind and ate
people." Whereat he wonders greatly.[370]

The _Zhar-Ptitsa_, or Fire-Bird, which plays so important a part in
this story, is worthy of special notice. Its name is sufficient to
show its close connection with flame or light,[371] and its appearance
corresponds with its designation. Its feathers blaze with silvery or
golden sheen, its eyes shine like crystal, it dwells in a golden cage.
In the depth of the night it flies into a garden, and lights it up as
brightly as could a thousand burning fires. A single feather from its
tail illuminates a dark room. It feeds upon golden apples which have
the power of bestowing youth and beauty, or according to a Croatian
version, on magic-grasses. Its song, according to Bohemian legends,
heals the sick and restores sight to the blind. We have already seen
that, as the Phœnix, of which it seems to be a Slavonic counterpart,
dies in the flame from which it springs again into life, so the
_Zhar-Ptitsa_ sinks into a death-like slumber when the day dawns, to
awake to fresh life after the sunset.

One of the skazkas[372] about the _Zhar-Ptitsa_ closely resembles the
well-known German tale of the Golden Bird.[373] But it is a
"Chap-book" story, and therefore of doubtful origin. King Vuislaf has
an apple-tree which bears golden fruits. These are stolen by a
_Zhar-Ptitsa_ which flies every night into the garden, so he orders
his sons to keep watch there by turns. The elder brothers cannot keep
awake, and see nothing; but the youngest of the three, Prince Ivan,
though he fails to capture the bird, secures one of its tail-feathers.
After a time he leaves his home and goes forth in search of the bird.
Aided by a wolf, he reaches the garden in which the _Zhar-Ptitsa_
lives, and succeeds in taking it out of its golden cage. But trying,
in spite of the wolf's warning, to carry off the cage itself, an alarm
is sounded, and he is taken prisoner. After various other adventures
he is killed by his envious brothers, but of course all comes right in
the end. In a version of the story which comes from the Bukovina, one
of the incidents is detailed at greater length than in either the
German or the Russian tale. When the hero has been killed by his
brothers, and they have carried off the _Zhar-Ptitsa_, and their
victim's golden steed, and his betrothed princess--as long as he lies
dead, the princess remains mute and mournful, the horse refuses to
eat, the bird is silent, and its cage is lustreless. But as soon as he
comes back to life, the princess regains her spirits, and the horse
its appetite. The _Zhar-Ptitsa_ recommences its magic song, and its
cage flashes anew like fire.

In another skazka[374] a sportsman finds in a forest "a golden feather
of the _Zhar-Ptitsa_; like fire does the feather shine!" Against the
advice of his "heroic steed," he picks up the feather and takes it to
the king, who sends him in search of the bird itself. Then he has
wheat scattered on the ground, and at dawn he hides behind a tree near
it. "Presently the forest begins to roar, the sea rises in waves, and
the _Zhar-Ptitsa_ flies up, lights upon the ground and begins to peck
the wheat." Then the "heroic steed" gallops up, sets its hoof upon the
bird's wing, and presses it to the ground, so that the shooter is able
to bind it with cords, and take it to the king. In a variant of the
story the bird is captured by means of a trap--a cage in which "pearls
large and small" have been strewed.

       *       *       *       *       *

I had intended to say something about the various golden haired or
golden-horned animals which figure in the Skazkas, but it will be
sufficient for the present to refer to the notices of them which occur
in Prof. de Gubernatis's "Zoological Mythology." And now I will bring
this chapter to a close with the following weird story of


  There was once a Moujik, and he had three married sons.
  He lived a long while, and was looked upon by the village as a
  _Koldun_ [or wizard]. When he was about to die, he gave orders
  that his sons' wives should keep watch over him [after his death]
  for three nights, taking one night apiece; that his body should
  be placed in the outer chamber,[376] and that his sons' wives
  should spin wool to make him a caftan. He ordered, moreover,
  that no cross should be placed upon him, and that none should
  be worn by his daughters-in-law.

  Well, that same night the eldest daughter-in-law took her
  seat beside him with some grey wool, and began spinning.
  Midnight arrives. Says the father-in-law from his coffin:

  "Daughter-in-law, art thou there?"

  She was terribly frightened, but answered, "I am." "Art
  thou sitting?" "I sit." "Dost thou spin?" "I spin." "Grey
  wool?" "Grey." "For a caftan?" "For a caftan."

  He made a movement towards her. Then a second time he
  asked again--

  "Daughter-in-law, art thou there?"

  "I am." "Art thou sitting?" "I sit." "Dost thou spin?"
  "I spin." "Grey wool?" "Grey." "For a caftan?" "For a

  She shrank into the corner. He moved again, came a couple
  of yards nearer her.

  A third time he made a movement. She offered up no
  prayer. He strangled her, and then lay down again in his coffin.

  His sons removed her body, and next evening, in obedience
  to his paternal behest, they sent another of his daughters-in-law
  to keep watch. To her just the same thing happened: he
  strangled her as he had done the first one.

  But the third was sharper than the other two. She declared
  she had taken off her cross, but in reality she kept it on. She
  took her seat and spun, but said prayers to herself all the while.

  Midnight arrives. Says her father-in-law from his coffin--

  "Daughter-in-law, art thou there?"

  "I am," she replies. "Art thou sitting?" "I sit." "Dost
  thou spin?" "I spin." "Grey wool?" "Grey." "For a
  caftan?" "For a caftan."

  Just the same took place a second time. The third time, just
  as he was going to rush at her, she laid the cross upon him. He
  fell down and died. She looked into the coffin; there lay ever
  so much money. The father-in-law wanted to take it away with
  him, or, at all events, that only some one who could outdo him in
  cunning should get it.[377]

In one of the least intelligible of the West Highland tales, there is
a scene which somewhat resembles the "lykewake" in this skazka. It is
called "The Girl and the Dead Man," and relates, among other strange
things, how a youngest sister took service in a house where a corpse
lay. "She sat to watch the dead man, and she was sewing; in the middle
of night he rose up, and screwed up a grin. 'If thou dost not lie down
properly, I will give thee the one leathering with a stick.' He lay
down. At the end of a while, he rose on one elbow, and screwed up a
grin; and the third time he rose and screwed up a grin. When he rose
the third time, she struck him a lounder of the stick; the stick stuck
to the dead man, and the hand stuck to the stick, and out they were."
Eventually "she got a peck of gold and a peck of silver, and the
vessel of cordial" and returned home.[378]

The obscurity of the Celtic tale forms a striking contrast to the
lucidity of the Slavonic. The Russian peasant likes a clear statement
of facts; the Highlander seems, like Coleridge's Scotch admirer, to
find a pleasure in seeing "an idea looming out of the mist."


[296] About which, see Professor Wilson's note on Somadeva's story of
the "Origin of Pátaliputra," "Essays," i. p. 168-9, with Dr. Rost's
reference to L. Deslongchamps, "Essai sur les Fables Indiennes,"
Paris, 1838, p. 35 and Grässe, "Sagenkreise des Mittelalters,"
Leipsig, 1842, p. 191. See also the numerous references given by
Grimm, _KM._ iii. pp. 168-9.

[297] As well as in all the mythologies. For the magic draught of the
fairy-story appears to be closely connected with the Greek _ambrosia_,
the Vedic _soma_ or _amrita_, the Zend _haoma_.

[298] A water, "Das Wasser des Lebens," in two German stories (Grimm,
Nos. 92 and 97, and iii. p. 178), and in many Greek tales (Hahn, Nos.
32, 37, &c.). An oil or ointment in the Norse tale (Asbjörnsen and
Moe, No. 35, Dasent, No. 3). A balsam in Gaelic tales, in which a
"Vessel of Balsam" often occurs. According to Mr. Campbell ("West
Highland Tales," i. p. 218), "Ballan Iocshlaint, teat, of ichor, of
health, seems to be the meaning of the words." The juice squeezed from
the leaves of a tree in a modern Indian tale ("Old Deccan Days," p.

[299] The mythical bird Garuda, the Indian original of the Roc of the
Arabian Nights, was similarly connected with the Amrita. See the story
of Garuda and the Nágas in Brockhaus's translation of the
"Kathásaritságara," ii. pp. 98-105. On the Vedic falcon which brings
the Soma down to earth, see Kuhn's "Herabkunft des Feuers," pp.

[300] In the Russian periodical, "Otechestvennuiya Zapiski," vol. 43
(for 1830) pp. 252-6.

[301] Schiefners's translation, 1852, pp. 80, 81.

[302] In that attributed to Sivadása, tale 2 (Lassen's "Anthologia
Sanscritica," pp. 16-19), and in the "Kathásaritságara," chap. lxxvi.
See Brockhaus's summary in the "Berichte der phil. hist. Classe der
Kön. Sächs. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften," December 3, 1853, pp.

[303] The "Baitál-Pachísí," translated by Ghulam Mohammad Munshi,
Bombay 1868, pp. 23-24.

[304] B. G. Babington's translation of "The Vedàla Cadai," p. 32.
contained in the "Miscellaneous Translations" of the Oriental
Translation Fund, 1831, vol. i. pt. iv pp. 32 and 67.

[305] Afanasief, _P.V.S._ ii. 551.

[306] Afanasief, viii. p. 205.

[307] Afanasief, vii. No. 5 _b_.

[308] Afanasief, vii. No. 5 _a_. For the _Zhar-Ptitsa_, see infra, p.

[309] Afanasief, vi. p. 249. For a number of interesting legends,
collected from the most distant parts of the world, about grinding
mountains and crashing cliffs, &c., see Tylor's "Primitive Culture,"
pp. 313-16. After quoting three mythic descriptions found among the
Karens, the Algonquins, and the Aztecs, Mr. Tylor remarks, "On the
suggestion of this group of solar conceptions and that of Maui's
death, we may perhaps explain as derived from a broken-down fancy of
solar-myth, that famous episode of Greek legend, where the good ship
Argo passed between the Symplêgades, those two huge cliffs that opened
and closed again with swift and violent collision."

Several of the Modern Greek stories are very like the skazka mentioned
above. In one of these (Hahn, ii. p. 234), a Lamia guards the water of
life (ἀϐάνατο νερὸ) which flows within a rock; in another (ii. p.
280) a mountain opens at midday, and several springs are disclosed,
each of which cries "Draw from me!" but the only one which is
life-giving is that to which a bee flies.

[310] Wenzig, p. 148.

[311] Afanasief, _P.V.S._ ii. 353.

[312] See above, p. 233.

[313] _Silnaya voda_ or potent water, and _bezsilnaya voda_, or
impotent water (_sila_ = strength).

[314] _Palitsa_ = a cudgel, etc. In the variant of the story quoted in
the preceding section the prince seized Vikhor by the right little
finger, _mizinets_. _Palets_ meant a finger. The similarity of the two
words may have led to a confusion of ideas.

[315] Afanasief, vii. pp. 97-103.

[316] Muir's "Sanskrit Texts," v. p. 258 and p. 94. See, also
Mannhardt's "Germ. Mythen," pp. 96-97.

[317] Being as destructive as the poison which was created during the
churning of the Amrita.

[318] Afanasief, v. No. 35.

[319] In the original he is generally designated as _Katòma--dyàd'ka,
dubovaya shàpka_, "Katòma-governor, oaken-hat." Not being able to
preserve the assonance, I have dropped the greater part of his title.

[320] _Bogodanny_ (_bog_ = God; _dat'_, _davat'_ = to give). One of
the Russian equivalents for our hideous "father-in-law" is "god-given
father" (_bogodanny otets_), and for "mother-in-law," _bogodanny mat'_
or "God-given mother." (Dahl.)

[321] Four lines are omitted here. See A. de Gubernatis, "Zool.
Mythology," i. 181, where a solar explanation of the whole story will
be found.

[322] These ejaculations belong to the story-teller.

[323] Literally, "Seemed to her as small as a lamb."

[324] _Kolòdez_, a word connected with _kolòda_ a log, trough, &c.

[325] Afanasief, viii. No. 23 _a_.

[326] To this episode a striking parallel is offered by that of
Gunther's wedding night in the "Nibelungenlied," in which Brynhild
flings her husband Gunther across the room, kneels on his chest, and
finally binds him hand and foot, and suspends him from a nail till
daybreak. The next night Siegfried takes his place, and wrestles with
the mighty maiden. After a long struggle he flings her on the floor
and forces her to submit. Then he leaves the room and Gunther returns.
A summary of the story will be found in the "Tales of the Teutonic
Lands," by G. W. Cox and E. H. Jones, pp. 94-5.

[327] Khudyakof, i. No. 19. pp. 73-7.

[328] Erlenvein, No. 19, pp. 95-7. For a Little-Russian version see
Kulish, ii. pp. 59-82.

[329] Afanasief, vi. No. 26. From the Kursk Government.

[330] _Prashchurui._

[331] The sentence in italics is a good specimen of the _priskazka_,
or preface.

[332] _Gramota_ = γράμματα whence comes _gràmotey_, able to read and
write = γραμματικός.

[333] Vanya and Vanyusha are diminutives of Ivan (John), answering to
our Johnny; Vanka is another, more like our Jack.

[334] Literally "with a Solovei-like whistle." The word _solovei_
generally means a nightingale, but it was also the name of a mythical
hero, a robber whose voice or whistle had the power of killing those
who heard it.

[335] _Chmoknuel_, smacked.

[336] See Barsof's rich collection of North-Russian funeral poetry,
entitled "Prichitaniya Syevernago Kraya," Moscow, 1872. Also the
"Songs of the Russian People," pp. 334-345.

[337] Miss Frere's "Old Deccan Days," pp. 3, 4.

[338] Grimm, _KM._ No. 21.

[339] Afanasief, vi. No. 54.

[340] _Ona krava shto yoy ye bila mati_, Vuk Karajich, p. 158. In the
German translation (p. 188) _Wie dies nun die Kuh sah, die einst seine
Mutter gewesen war_.

[341] Afanasief, ii. p. 254.

[342] _Cherez dvyenadtsat' stekol._ _Steklo_ means a glass, or a pane
of glass.

[343] Afanasief, ii. p. 269.

[344] Khudyakof, No. 50.

[345] Afanasief, iii. p. 25.

[346] Dasent's "Norse Tales," No. 40. Asbjörnsen and Moe, No. 37.

[347] Dasent, No. 13. Asbjörnsen and Moe, No. 51. "Jomfruen paa

[348] Campbell's "West-Highland Tales," iii. pp. 265, 266.

[349] Miss Frere's "Old Deccan Days," pp. 31, 73, 95, 135.

[350] "Völsunga Saga," translated by E. Magnússon and W. Morris, pp.

[351] Afanasief, vi. No. 32. From the Novgorod Government. A
"chap-book" version of this story will be found in Dietrich's
collection (pp. 152-68 of the English translation); also in
Keightley's "Tales and Popular Fictions."

[352] _Nijnie_, lower. Thus Nijny Novgorod is the lower (down the
Volga) Novgorod. (Dahl.)

[353] _Kukova_, a stick or cudgel, one end of which is bent and
rounded like a ball.

[354] _Tak de ego ne vzat'._

[355] There are numerous variants of this story among the Skazkas. In
one of these (Afanasief, vii. No. 31) the man on whom the pike has
bestowed supernatural power uses it to turn a Maiden princess into a
mother. This renders the story wholly in accordance with (1) the
Modern Greek tale of "The Half Man," (Hahn, No. 8) in which the magic
formula runs, "according to the first word of God and the second of
the fish shall such and such a thing be done!" (2) The Neapolitan
story of "Pervonto" (Basile's "Pentamerone," No. 3) who obtains his
magic power from three youths whom he screens from the sun as they lie
asleep one hot day, and who turn out to be sons of a fairy. Afanasief
compares the story also with the German tale of "The Little Grey
Mannikin," in the "Zeitschrift für Deutsche Mythologie," &c., i. pp.
38-40. The incident of wishes being fulfilled by a fish occurs in many
stories, as in that of "The Fisherman," in the "Arabian Nights," "The
Fisherman and his Wife," in Grimm (_KM._, No. 19). A number of stories
about the Pike are referred to by A. de Gubernatis ("Zoolog.
Mythology," ii. 337-9).

[356] Quoted by Afanasief from Siemienski's "Podania," Posen, 1845, p.

[357] "Songs of the Russian People," pp. 387-427.

[358] Afanasief, vii. No. 36 _a_. This story has no special title in
the original.

[359] The rural police. _Sotnick_ = centurion, from _sto_ = 100.
_Desyatnik_ is a word of the same kind from _desyat_ = 10.

[360] A Ponomar is a kind of sacristan.

[361] "Der Werwolf, Beitrag zur Sagengeschichte," Stuttgart, 1862. For
Russian ideas on the subject see "Songs of the Russian people," pp.

[362] "Polnische Volkssagen" (translated by Lewestam), p. 61.

[363] Brockhaus's "Mährchensammlung des Somadeva Bhatta," ii. p. 24.

[364] Afanasief, vii. No. 36 _b_. This story, also, is without special

[365] In Mr. Hain Friswell's collection of "Ghost Stories," 1858.

[366] Afanasief, vii. No. 36 _c_. Also without special title.

[367] The Russian _skovoroda_ is a sort of stew-pan, of great size,
without a handle.

[368] From Professor Brockhaus's summary in the "Berichte der phil.
hist. Classe der Königl. Sächs. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften,"
1861, pp. 215, 16.

[369] For an account of this mythological bird, see the note on next
page. Ornithologically, the _Zhar-ptitsa_ is the Cassowary.

[370] Khudyakof, No. 110. From the Nijegorod Government.

[371] _Zhar_ = glowing heat, as of a furnace; _zhar-ptitsa_ = the
glow-bird. Its name among the Czekhs and Slovaks is _Ptak Ohnivák_.
The heathens Slavonians are said to have worshipped Ogon or Agon,
Fire, the counterpart of the Vedic Agni. _Agon_ is still the ordinary
Russian word for fire, the equivalent of the Latin _ignis_.

[372] Afanasief, vii. No. 11. See also the notes in viii. p. 620, etc.

[373] Grimm's _KM._, No. 57. See the notes in Bd. iii. p. 98.

[374] Afanasief, vii. No. 12.

[375] Khudyakof, No. 104. From the Orel Government.

[376] The _kholodnaya izba_--the "cold izba," as opposed to the "warm
izba" or living room.

[377] The etymology of the word _koldun_ is still, I believe, a moot
point. The discovery of the money in the warlock's coffin seems an
improbable incident. In the original version of the story the wizard
may, perhaps, have turned into a heap of gold (see above, p. 231, on

[378] Campbell, No. 13, vol. i. p. 215.



The Russian peasants have very confused ideas about the local
habitation of the disembodied spirit, after its former tenement has
been laid in the grave. They seem, from the language of their funeral
songs, sometimes to regard the departed spirit as residing in the
coffin which holds the body from which it has been severed, sometimes
to imagine that it hovers around the building which used to be its
home, or flies abroad on the wings of the winds. In the food and money
and other necessaries of existence still placed in the coffin with the
corpse, may be seen traces of an old belief in a journey which the
soul was forced to undertake after the death of the body; in the
_pomniki_ or feasts in memory of the dead, celebrated at certain short
intervals after a death, and also on its anniversary, may be clearly
recognized the remains of a faith in the continued residence of the
dead in the spot where they had been buried, and in their subjection
to some physical sufferings, their capacity for certain animal
enjoyments. The two beliefs run side by side with each other,
sometimes clashing and producing strange results--all the more strange
when they show signs of an attempt having been made to reconcile them
with Christian ideas.[379]

Of a heavenly or upper-world home of departed spirits, neither the
songs nor the stories of the people, so far as I am aware, make
mention. But that there is a country beyond the sky, inhabited by
supernatural beings of magic power and unbounded wealth, is stated in
a number of tales of the well-known "Jack and the Beanstalk" type. Of
these the following may be taken as a specimen.


  There once was an old couple. The old man planted a cabbage-head
  in the cellar under the floor of his cottage; the old
  woman planted one in the ash-hole. The old woman's cabbage,
  in the ash-hole, withered away entirely; but the old man's grew
  and grew, grew up to the floor. The old man took his hatchet and
  cut a hole in the floor above the cabbage. The cabbage went on
  growing again; grew, grew right up to the ceiling. Again the old
  man took his hatchet and cut a hole in the ceiling above the cabbage.
  The cabbage grew and grew, grew right up to the sky.
  How was the old man to get a look at the head of the cabbage?
  He began climbing up the cabbage-stalk, climbed and climbed,
  climbed and climbed, climbed right up to the sky, cut a hole in
  the sky, and crept through. There he sees a mill[381] standing.
  The mill gives a turn--out come a pie and a cake with a pot of
  stewed grain on top.

  The old man ate his fill, drank his fill, and then lay down to
  sleep. When he had slept enough he slid down to earth again,
  and cried:

  "Old woman! why, old woman! how one does live up in
  heaven! There's a mill there--every time it turns, out come a
  pie and a cake, with a pot of _kasha_ on top!"

  "How can I get there, old man?"

  "Slip into this sack, old woman. I'll carry you up."

  The old woman thought a bit, and then got into the sack.
  The old man took the sack in his teeth, and began climbing up
  to heaven. He climbed and climbed, long did he climb. The
  old woman got tired of waiting and asked:

  "Is it much farther, old man?"

  "We've half the way to go still."

  Again he climbed and climbed, climbed and climbed. A
  second time the old woman asked:

  "Is it much farther, old man?"

  The old man was just beginning to say: "Not much farther--" when
  the sack slipped from between his teeth, and the old
  woman fell to the ground and was smashed all to pieces. The
  old man slid down the cabbage-stalk and picked up the sack.
  But it had nothing in it but bones, and those broken very small.
  The old man went out of his house and wept bitterly.

  Presently a fox met him.

  "What are you crying about, old man?"

  "How can I help crying? My old woman is smashed to

  "Hold your noise! I'll cure her."

  The old man fell at the fox's feet.

  "Only cure her! I'll pay whatever is wanted."

  "Well, then, heat the bath-room, carry the old woman there
  along with a bag of oatmeal and a pot of butter, and then stand
  outside the door; but don't look inside."

  The old man heated the bath-room, carried in what was
  wanted, and stood outside at the door. But the fox went into
  the bath-room, shut the door, and began washing the old
  woman's remains; washed and washed, and kept looking about
  her all the time.

  "How's my old woman getting on?" asked the old man.

  "Beginning to stir!" replied the fox, who then ate up the
  old woman, collected her bones and piled them up in a corner,
  and set to work to knead a hasty pudding.

  The old man waited and waited. Presently he asked;

  "How's my old woman getting on?"

  "Resting a bit!" cried the fox, as she gobbled up the hasty

  When she had finished it she cried:

  "Old man! open the door wide."

  He opened it, and the fox sprang out of the bath-room and
  ran off home. The old man went into the bath-room and looked
  about him. Nothing was to be seen but the old woman's bones
  under the bench--and those picked so clean! As for the oatmeal
  and the butter, they had all been eaten up. So the old man was
  left alone and in poverty.

This story is evidently a combination of two widely differing tales.
The catastrophe we may for the present pass over, but about the
opening some few words may be said. The Beanstalk myth is one which is
found among so many peoples in such widely distant regions, and it
deals with ideas of such importance, that no contribution to its
history can be considered valueless. Most remarkable among its
numerous forms are those American and Malayo-Polynesian versions of
the "heaven-tree" story which Mr. Tylor has brought together in his
"Early History of mankind."[382] In Europe it is usually found in a
very crude and fragmentary form, having been preserved, for the most
part, as the introduction to some other story which has proved more
attractive to the popular fancy. The Russian versions are all, as far
as I am aware, of this nature. I have already[383] mentioned one of
them, in which, also, the Fox plays a prominent part. Its opening
words are, "There once lived an old man and an old woman, and they had
a little daughter. One day she was eating beans, and she let one fall
on the ground. The bean grew and grew, and grew right up to heaven.
The old man climbed up to heaven, slipped in there, walked and walked,
admired and admired, and said to himself, 'I'll go and fetch the old
woman; won't she just be delighted!'" So he tries to carry his wife up
the bean stalk, but grows faint and lets her fall; she is killed, and
he calls in the Fox as Wailer.[384]

In a variant of the "Fox Physician" from the Vologda Government, it is
a pea which gives birth to the wondrous tree. "There lived an old man
and an old woman; the old man was rolling a pea about, and it fell on
the ground. They searched and searched a whole week, but they couldn't
find it. The week passed by, and the old people saw that the pea had
begun to sprout. They watered it regularly, and the pea set to work
and grew higher than the izba. When the peas ripened, the old man
climbed up to where they were, plucked a great bundle of them, and
began sliding down the stalk again. But the bundle fell out of the old
man's hands and killed the old woman."[385]

According to another variant, "There once lived a grandfather and a
grandmother, and they had a hut. The grandfather sowed a bean under
the table, and the grandmother a pea. A hen gobbled up the pea, but
the bean grew up as high as the table. They moved the table, and the
bean grew still higher. They cut away the ceiling and the roof; it
went on growing until it grew right up to the heavens (_nebo_). The
grandfather climbed up to heaven, climbed and climbed--there stood a
hut (_khatka_), its walls of pancakes, its benches of white bread, the
stove of buttered curds. He began to eat, ate his fill, and lay down
above the stove to sleep. In came twelve sister-goats. The first had
one eye, the second two eyes, the third three, and so on with the
rest, the last having twelve eyes. They saw that some one had been
meddling with their hut, so they put it to rights, and when they went
out they left the one-eyed to keep watch. Next day the grandfather
again climbed up there, saw One-Eye and began to mutter[386] 'Sleep,
eye, sleep!' The goat went to sleep. The man ate his fill and went
away. Next day the two-eyed kept watch, and after it the three-eyed
and so on. The grandfather always muttered his charm 'Sleep, eye!
Sleep, second eye! Sleep, third eye!' and so on. But with the twelfth
goat he failed, for he charmed only eleven of her eyes. The goat saw
him with the twelfth and caught him,"--and there the story ends.[387]

In another instance the myth has been turned into one of those tales
of the Munchausen class, the title of which is the "saw" _Ne lyubo, ne
slushai_, _i.e._, "If you don't like, don't listen"--the final words
being understood; "but let me tell you a story." A cock finds a pea in
the part of a cottage under the floor, and begins calling to the hens;
the cottager hears the call, drives away the cock, and pours water
over the pea. It grows up to the floor, up to the ceiling, up to the
roof; each time way is made for it, and finally it grows right up to
heaven (_do nebushka_). Says the moujik to his wife:

"Wife! wife, I say! shall I climb up into heaven and see what's going
on there? May be there's sugar there, and mead--lots of everything!"

"Climb away, if you've a mind to," replies his wife.

So he climbs up, and there he finds a large wooden house. He enters
in and sees a stove, garnished with sucking pigs and geese and pies
"and everything which the soul could desire." But the stove is guarded
by a seven-eyed goat; the moujik charms six of the eyes to sleep, but
overlooks the seventh. With it the goat sees him eat and drink and
then go to sleep. The house-master comes in, is informed by the goat
of all that has occurred, flies into a passion, calls his servants,
and has the intruder turned out of the house. When the moujik comes to
the place where the pea-stalk had been, "he looks around--no pea-stalk
is there." He collects the cobwebs "which float on the summer air,"
and of them he makes a cord; this he fastens "to the edge of heaven"
and begins to descend. Long before he reaches the earth he comes to
the end of his cord, so he crosses himself, and lets go. Falling into
a swamp, he remains there some time. At last a duck builds her nest on
his head, and lays an egg in it. He catches hold of the duck's tail,
and the bird pulls him out of the swamp; whereupon he goes home
rejoicing, taking with him the duck and her egg, and tells his wife
all that has happened.[388]

In another variant it is an acorn which is sown under the floor. From
it springs an oak which grows to the skies. The old man of the story
climbs up it in search of acorns, and reaches heaven. There he finds a
hand-mill and a cock with a golden comb, both of which he carries off.
The mill grinds pies and pancakes, and the old man and his wife live
in plenty. But after a time a Barin or Seigneur steals the mill. The
old people are in despair, but the golden-combed cock flies after the
mill, perches on the Barin's gates, and cries--

"Kukureku! Boyarin, Boyarin! Give us back our golden, sky-blue mill!"

The cock is flung into the well, but it drinks all the water, flies
up to the Barin's house, and there reiterates its demand. Then it is
thrown into the fire, but it extinguishes the flames, flies right into
the Barin's guest-chamber, and crows as before. The guests disperse,
the Barin runs after them, and the golden-combed cock seizes the mill
and flies away with it.[389]

In a variant from the Smolensk Government, it is the wife who climbs
up the pea-stalk, while the husband remains down below. When she
reaches the top, she finds an _izbushka_ or cottage there, its walls
made of pies, its tables of cheese, its stove of pancakes, and so
forth. After she has feasted and gone to sleep in a corner, in come
three goats, of which the first has two eyes and two ears, the second
has three of each of these organs, and the third has four. The old
woman sends to sleep the ears and the eyes of the first and the second
goat; but when the third watches it retains the use of its fourth eye
and fourth ear, in spite of the incantations uttered by the intruder,
and so finds her out. On being questioned, she explains that she has
come "from the earthly realm into the heavenly," and promises not to
repeat her visit if she is dismissed in peace. So the goats let her
go, and give her a bag of nuts, apples, and other good things to take
with her. She slides down the pea-stalk and tells her husband all that
has happened. He persuades her to undertake a second ascent together
with him, so off they set in company, their young granddaughter
climbing after them. Suddenly the pea-stalk breaks, they fall headlong
and are never heard of again. "Since that time," says the story, "no
one has ever set foot in that heavenly izbushka--so no one knows
anything more about it."[390]

Clearer and fuller than these vague and fragmentary sketches of a
"heavenly realm," are the pictures contained in the Russian folk-tales
of the underground world. But it is very doubtful how far the stories
in which they figure represent ancient Slavonic ideas. In the name, if
not in the nature, of the _Ad_, or subterranean abode of evil spirits
and sinful souls, we recognize the influence of the Byzantine Hades;
but most of the tales in which it occurs are supposed to draw their
original inspiration from Indian sources, while they owe to Christian,
Brahmanic, Buddhistic, and Mohammedan influences the form in which
they now appear. To these "legends," as the folk-tales are styled in
which the saints or their ghostly enemies occur, belongs the following
narrative of--


  There was a certain moujik who had three sons. His life was
  a prosperous one, and he laid by money enough to fill two pots.
  The one he buried in his corn-kiln, the other under the gate of
  his farmyard. Well, the moujik died, and never said a word
  about the money to any one. One day there was a festival in
  the village. A fiddler was on his way to the revel when, all of
  a sudden, he sank into the earth--sank right through and
  tumbled into hell, lighting exactly there where the rich moujik
  was being tormented.

  "Hail, friend!" says the Fiddler.

  "It's an ill wind that's brought you hither!"[392] answers the
  moujik; "this is hell, and in hell here I sit."

  "What was it brought you here, uncle?"

  "It was money! I had much money: I gave none to the
  poor, two pots of it did I bury underground. See now, they
  are going to torment me, to beat me with sticks, to tear me with

  "Whatever shall I do?" cried the Fiddler. "Perhaps
  they'll take to torturing me too!"

  "If you go and sit on the stove behind the chimney-pipe,
  and don't eat anything for three years--then you will remain

  The Fiddler hid behind the stove-pipe. Then came fiends,[393]
  and they began to beat the rich moujik, reviling him the while,
  and saying:

  "There's for thee, O rich man. Pots of money didst thou
  bury but thou couldst not hide them. There didst thou bury
  them that we might not be able to keep watch over them. At
  the gate people are always riding about, the horses crush our
  heads with their hoofs, and in the corn-kiln we get beaten with

  As soon as the fiends had gone away the moujik said to the

  "If you get out of here, tell my children to dig up the money--one
  pot is buried at the gate, and the other in the corn-kiln--and
  to distribute it among the poor."

  Afterwards there came a whole roomful of evil ones, and
  they asked the rich moujik:

  "What have you got here that smells so Russian?"

  "You have been in Russia and brought away a Russian
  smell with you," replied the moujik.

  "How could that be?" they said. Then they began looking,
  they found the Fiddler, and they shouted:

  "Ha, ha, ha! Here's a Fiddler."

  They pulled him off the stove, and set him to work fiddling.
  He played three years, though it seemed to him only three
  days. Then he got tired and said:

  "Here's a wonder! After playing a whole evening I used
  always to find all my fiddle-strings snapped. But now, though
  I've been playing for three whole days, they are all sound. May
  the Lord grant us his blessing!"[394]

  No sooner had he uttered these words than every one of the
  strings snapped.

  "There now, brothers!" says the Fiddler, "you can see
  for yourselves. The strings are snapped; I've nothing to
  play on!"

  "Wait a bit!" said one of the fiends. "I've got two hanks
  of catgut; I'll fetch them for you."

  He ran off and fetched them. The Fiddler took the strings,
  screwed them up, and again uttered the words:

  "May the Lord grant us his blessing!"

  In a moment snap went both hanks.

  "No, brothers!" said the Fiddler, "your strings don't suit
  me. I've got some of my own at home; by your leave I'll go
  for them."

  The fiends wouldn't let him go. "You wouldn't come back,"
  they say.

  "Well, if you won't trust me, send some one with me as an

  The fiends chose one of their number, and sent him with the
  Fiddler. The Fiddler got back to the village. There he could
  hear that, in the farthest cottage, a wedding was being celebrated.

  "Let's go to the wedding!" he cried.

  "Come along!" said the fiend.

  They entered the cottage. Everyone there recognized the
  Fiddler and cried:

  "Where have you been hiding these three years?"

  "I have been in the other world!" he replied.

  They sat there and enjoyed themselves for some time.
  Then the fiend beckoned to the Fiddler, saying, "It's time to
  be off!" But the Fiddler replied: "Wait a little longer! Let
  me fiddle away a bit and cheer up the young people." And so
  they remained sitting there till the cocks began to crow. Then
  the fiend disappeared.

  After that, the Fiddler began to talk to the sons of the rich
  moujik, and said:

  "Your father bids you dig up the money--one potful is
  buried at the gate and the other in the corn-kiln--and distribute
  the whole of it among the poor."

  Well, they dug up both the pots, and began to distribute
  the money among the poor. But the more they gave away the
  money, the more did it increase. Then they carried out the
  pots to a crossway. Every one who passed by took out of
  them as much money as his hand could grasp, and yet the
  money wouldn't come to an end. Then they presented a petition
  to the Emperor, and he ordained as follows. There was a
  certain town, the road to which was a very roundabout one.
  It was some fifty versts long, whereas if it had been made in a
  straight line it would not have been more than five. And so
  the Emperor ordained that a bridge should be made the whole
  way. Well, they built a bridge five versts long, and this piece
  of work cleared out both the pots.

  About that time a certain maid bore a son and deserted him
  in his infancy. The child neither ate nor drank for three years
  and an angel of God always went about with him. Well, this
  child came to the bridge, and cried:

  "Ah! what a glorious bridge! God grant the kingdom of
  heaven to him at whose cost it was built!"

  The Lord heard this prayer, and ordered his angels to
  release the rich moujik from the depths of hell.[395]

With the bridge-building episode in this "legend" may be compared the
opening of another Russian story. In it a merchant is described as
having much money but no children. So he and his wife "began to pray
to God, entreating him to give them a child--for solace in their
youth, for support in their old age, for soul-remembrance[396] after
death. And they took to feeding the poor and distributing alms.
Besides all this, they resolved to build, for the use of all the
faithful, a long bridge across swamps and where no man could find a
footing. Much wealth did the merchant expend, but he built the bridge,
and when the work was completed he sent his manager Fedor, saying--

"'Go and sit under the bridge, and listen to what folks say about
me--whether they bless me or revile me.'

"Fedor set off, sat under the bridge, and listened. Presently three
Holy Elders went over the bridge, and said one to another--

"'How ought the man who built this bridge to be rewarded?' 'Let there
be born to him a fortunate son. Whatsoever that son says--it shall be
done: whatsoever he desires--that will the Lord bestow!'"[397]

The rest of the story closely resembles the German tale of "The
Pink."[398] In the corresponding Bohemian story of "The Treacherous
Servant,"[399] it may be observed, the bridge-building incident has
been preserved.

But I will not dwell any longer on the story of the Fiddler, as I
propose to give some account in the next chapter of several other
tales of the same class, in most of which such descriptions of evil
spirits are introduced as have manifestly been altered into what their
narrators considered to be in accordance with Christian teaching. And
so I will revert to those ideas about the dead, and about their
abiding-place, which the modern Slavonians seem to have inherited from
their heathen ancestors, and I will attempt to illustrate them by a
few Russian ghost-stories. Those stories are, as a general rule, of a
most ghastly nature, but there are a few into the composition of which
the savage element does not enter. The "Dead Mother," which has
already been quoted,[400] belongs to the latter class; and so does the
following tale--which, as it bears no title in the original, we may


  Late one evening a certain artisan happened to be returning
  home from a jovial feast in a distant village. There met him
  on the way an old friend, one who had been dead some ten

  "Good health to you!" said the dead man.

  "I wish you good health!" replied the reveller, and straight
  way forgot that his acquaintance had ever so long ago bidden
  the world farewell.

  "Let's go to my house. We'll quaff a cup or two once

  "Come along. On such a happy occasion as this meeting
  of ours, we may as well have a drink."

  They arrived at a dwelling and there they drank and revelled.

  "Now then, good-bye! It's time for me to go home," said
  the artisan.

  "Stay a bit. Where do you want to go now? Spend the night
  here with me."

  "No, brother! don't ask me; it cannot be. I've business
  to do to-morrow, so I must get home as early as possible."

  "Well, good-bye! but why should you walk? Better get on
  my horse; it will carry you home quickly."

  "Thanks! let's have it."

  He got on its back, and was carried off--just as a whirlwind
  flies! All of a sudden a cock crew. It was awful! All around
  were graves, and the rider found he had a gravestone under

Of a somewhat similar nature is the story of--


  In the days of old there lived in a certain village two young
  men. They were great friends, went to _besyedas_[403] together, in
  fact, regarded each other as brothers. And they made this
  mutual agreement. Whichever of the two should marry first
  was to invite his comrade to his wedding. And it was not to
  make any difference whether he was alive or dead.

  About a year after this one of the young men fell ill and
  died. A few months later his comrade took it into his head to
  get married. So he collected all his kinsmen, and set off to
  fetch his bride. Now it happened that they drove past the
  graveyard, and the bridegroom recalled his friend to mind, and
  remembered his old agreement. So he had the horses stopped,

  "I'm going to my comrade's grave. I shall ask him to come
  and enjoy himself at my wedding. A right trusty friend was
  he to me."

  So he went to the grave and began to call aloud:

  "Comrade dear! I invite thee to my wedding."

  Suddenly the grave yawned, the dead man arose, and said:

  "Thanks be to thee, brother, that thou hast fulfilled thy
  promise. And now, that we may profit by this happy chance,
  enter my abode. Let us quaff a glass apiece of grateful drink."

  "I'd have gone, only the marriage procession is stopping
  outside; all the folks are waiting for me."

  "Eh, brother!" replied the dead man, "surely it won't take
  long to toss off a glass!"

  The bridegroom jumped into the grave. The dead man
  poured him out a cup of liquor. He drank it off--and a hundred
  years passed away.

  "Quaff another cup, dear friend!" said the dead man.

  He drank a second cup--two hundred years passed away.

  "Now, comrade dear, quaff a third cup!" said the dead
  man, "and then go, in God's name, and celebrate thy marriage!"

  He drank the third cup--three hundred years passed away.

  The dead man took leave of his comrade. The coffin lid fell;
  the grave closed.

  The bridegroom looked around. Where the graveyard had
  been, was now a piece of waste ground. No road was to be
  seen, no kinsmen, no horses. All around grew nettles and tall

  He ran to the village--but the village was not what it used
  to be. The houses were different; the people were all strangers
  to him. He went to the priest's--but the priest was not the one
  who used to be there--and told him about everything that had
  happened. The priest searched through the church-books, and
  found that, three hundred years before, this occurrence had
  taken place: a bridegroom had gone to the graveyard on his
  wedding-day, and had disappeared. And his bride, after some
  time had passed by, had married another man.

      [The "Rip van Winkle" story is too well known to
      require more than a passing allusion. It was doubtless
      founded on one of the numerous folk-tales which
      correspond to the Christian legend of "The Seven
      Sleepers of Ephesus"--itself an echo of an older tale
      (see Baring Gould, "Curious Myths," 1872, pp. 93-112,
      and Cox, "Mythology of the Aryan Nations," i.
      413)--and to that of the monk who listens to a bird
      singing in the convent garden, and remains entranced
      for the space of many years: of which latter legend a
      Russian version occurs in Chudinsky's collection (No.
      17, pp. 92-4). Very close indeed is the resemblance
      between the Russian story of "The Two Friends," and
      the Norse "Friends in Life and Death" (Asbjörnsen's
      New Series, No. 62, pp. 5-7). In the latter the
      bridegroom knocks hard and long on his dead friend's
      grave. At length its occupant appears, and accounts
      for his delay by saying he had been far away when the
      first knocks came, and so had not heard them. Then he
      follows the bridegroom to church and from church, and
      afterwards the bridegroom sees him back to his tomb.
      On the way the living man expresses a desire to see
      something of the world beyond the grave, and the
      corpse fulfils his wish, having first placed on his
      head a sod cut in the graveyard. After witnessing many
      strange sights, the bridegroom is told to sit down and
      wait till his guide returns. When he rises to his
      feet, he is all overgrown with mosses and shrub (var
      han overvoxen med Mose og Busker), and when he reaches
      the outer world he finds all things changed.]

But from these dim sketches of a life beyond, or rather within the
grave, in which memories of old days and old friendships are preserved
by ghosts of an almost genial and entirely harmless disposition, we
will now turn to those more elaborate pictures in which the dead are
represented under an altogether terrific aspect. It is not as an
incorporeal being that the visitor from the other world is represented
in the Skazkas. He comes not as a mere phantom, intangible,
impalpable, incapable of physical exertion, haunting the dwelling
which once was his home, or the spot to which he is drawn by the
memory of some unexpiated crime. It is as a vitalized corpse that he
comes to trouble mankind, often subject to human appetites, constantly
endowed with more than human strength and malignity. His apparel is
generally that of the grave, and he cannot endure to part with it, as
may be seen from the following story--

  THE SHROUD.[404]

  In a certain village there was a girl who was lazy and slothful,
  hated working but would gossip and chatter away like anything.
  Well, she took it into her head to invite the other girls to a spinning
  party. For in the villages, as every one knows, it is the
  lazybones who gives the spinning-feast, and the sweet-toothed
  are those who go to it.

  Well, on the appointed night she got her spinners together.
  They span for her, and she fed them and feasted them. Among
  other things they chatted about was this--which of them all was
  the boldest?

  Says the lazybones (_lezhaka_):

  "I'm not afraid of anything!"

  "Well then," say the spinners, "if you're not afraid, go
  past the graveyard to the church, take down the holy picture
  from the door, and bring it here."

  "Good, I'll bring it; only each of you must spin me a distaff-ful."

  That was just her sort of notion: to do nothing herself, but
  to get others to do it for her. Well, she went, took down the
  picture, and brought it home with her. Her friends all saw that
  sure enough it was the picture from the church. But the picture
  had to be taken back again, and it was now the midnight hour.
  Who was to take it? At length the lazybones said:

  "You girls go on spinning. I'll take it back myself. I'm
  not afraid of anything!"

  So she went and put the picture back in its place. As she
  was passing the graveyard on her return, she saw a corpse in a
  white shroud, seated on a tomb. It was a moonlight night;
  everything was visible. She went up to the corpse, and drew
  away its shroud from it. The corpse held its peace, not uttering
  a word; no doubt the time for it to speak had not come yet.
  Well, she took the shroud and went home.

  "There!" says she, "I've taken back the picture and put
  it in its place; and, what's more, here's a shroud I took away
  from a corpse."

  Some of the girls were horrified; others didn't believe what
  she said, and laughed at her.

  But after they had supped and lain down to sleep, all of a
  sudden the corpse tapped at the window and said:

  "Give me my shroud! Give me my shroud!"

  The girls were so frightened they didn't know whether they
  were alive or dead. But the lazybones took the shroud, went to
  the window, opened it, and said:

  "There, take it."

  "No," replied the corpse, "restore it to the place you took
  it from."

  Just then the cocks suddenly began to crow. The corpse

  Next night, when the spinners had all gone home to their
  own houses, at the very same hour as before, the corpse came,
  tapped at the window, and cried:

  "Give me my shroud!"

  Well, the girl's father and mother opened the window and
  offered him his shroud.

  "No," says he, "let her take it back to the place she took
  it from."

  "Really now, how could one go to a graveyard with a corpse?
  What a horrible idea!" she replied.

  Just then the cocks crew. The corpse disappeared.

  Next day the girl's father and mother sent for the priest,
  told him the whole story, and entreated him to help them in their

  "Couldn't a service[405] be performed?" they said.

  The priest reflected awhile; then he replied:

  "Please to tell her to come to church to-morrow."

  Next day the lazybones went to church. The service began,
  numbers of people came to it. But just as they were going
  to sing the cherubim song,[406] there suddenly arose, goodness
  knows whence, so terrible a whirlwind that all the congregation
  fell flat on their faces. And it caught up that girl, and then flung
  her down on the ground. The girl disappeared from sight;
  nothing was left of her but her back hair.[407]

They are generally the corpses of wizards, or of other sinners who
have led specially unholy lives, which leave their graves by night and
wander abroad. Into such bodies, it is held, demons enter, and the
combination of fiend and corpse goes forth as the terrible Vampire
thirsting for blood. Of the proceedings of such a being the next story
gives a detailed account, from which, among other things, may be
learnt the fact that Slavonic corpses attach great importance to their
coffin-lids as well as to their shrouds.


  A moujik was driving along one night with a load of pots. His
  horse grew tired, and all of a sudden it came to a standstill
  alongside of a graveyard. The moujik unharnessed his horse
  and set it free to graze; meanwhile he laid himself down on
  one of the graves. But somehow he didn't go to sleep.

  He remained lying there some time. Suddenly the grave
  began to open beneath him: he felt the movement and sprang
  to his feet. The grave opened, and out of it came a corpse--wrapped
  in a white shroud, and holding a coffin lid--came out
  and ran to the church, laid the coffin-lid at the door, and then
  set off for the village.

  The moujik was a daring fellow. He picked up the coffin-lid
  and remained standing beside his cart, waiting to see what would
  happen. After a short delay the dead man came back, and was
  going to snatch up his coffin-lid--but it was not to be seen.
  Then the corpse began to track it out, traced it up to the moujik,
  and said:

  "Give me my lid: if you don't, I'll tear you to bits!"

  "And my hatchet, how about that?" answers the moujik.
  "Why, it's I who'll be chopping you into small pieces!"

  "Do give it back to me, good man!" begs the corpse.

  "I'll give it when you tell me where you've been and what
  you've done."

  "Well, I've been in the village, and there I've killed a couple
  of youngsters."

  "Well then, now tell me how they can be brought back to

  The corpse reluctantly made answer:

  "Cut off the left skirt of my shroud, and take it with you.
  When you come into the house where the youngsters were killed,
  pour some live coals into a pot and put the piece of the
  shroud in with them, and then lock the door. The lads will be
  revived by the smoke immediately."

  The moujik cut off the left skirt of the shroud, and gave up
  the coffin-lid. The corpse went to its grave--the grave opened.
  But just as the dead man was descending into it, all of a sudden
  the cocks began to crow, and he hadn't time to get properly
  covered over. One end of the coffin-lid remained sticking out
  of the ground.

  The moujik saw all this and made a note of it. The day
  began to dawn; he harnessed his horse and drove into the village.
  In one of the houses he heard cries and wailing. In he
  went--there lay two dead lads.

  "Don't cry," says he, "I can bring them to life!"

  "Do bring them to life, kinsman," say their relatives.
  "We'll give you half of all we possess."

  The moujik did everything as the corpse had instructed him,
  and the lads came back to life. Their relatives were delighted,
  but they immediately seized the moujik and bound him with
  cords, saying:

  "No, no, trickster! We'll hand you over to the authorities.
  Since you knew how to bring them back to life, maybe it was
  you who killed them!"

  "What are you thinking about, true believers! Have the
  fear of God before your eyes!" cried the moujik.

  Then he told them everything that had happened to him
  during the night. Well, they spread the news through the
  village; the whole population assembled and swarmed into the
  graveyard. They found out the grave from which the dead man
  had come out, they tore it open, and they drove an aspen stake
  right into the heart of the corpse, so that it might no more rise
  up and slay. But they rewarded the moujik richly, and sent him
  away home with great honor.

It is not only during sleep that the Vampire is to be dreaded. At
cross-roads, or in the neighborhood of cemeteries, an animated corpse
of this description often lurks, watching for some unwary wayfarer
whom it may be able to slay and eat. Past such dangerous spots as
these the belated villager will speed with timorous steps,
remembering, perhaps, some such uncanny tale as that which comes next.


  A soldier had obtained leave to go home on furlough--to pray
  to the holy images, and to bow down before his parents. And
  as he was going his way, at a time when the sun had long set,
  and all was dark around, it chanced that he had to pass by a
  graveyard. Just then he heard that some one was running after
  him, and crying:

  "Stop! you can't escape!"

  He looked back and there was a corpse running and gnashing
  its teeth. The Soldier sprang on one side with all his
  might to get away from it, caught sight of a little chapel,[410] and
  bolted straight into it.

  There wasn't a soul in the chapel, but stretched out on a
  table there lay another corpse, with tapers burning in front of
  it. The Soldier hid himself in a corner, and remained there,
  hardly knowing whether he was alive or dead, but waiting to see
  what would happen. Presently up ran the first corpse--the one
  that had chased the Soldier--and dashed into the chapel. Thereupon
  the one that was lying on the table jumped up, and cried
  to it:

  "What hast thou come here for?"

  "I've chased a soldier in here, so I'm going to eat him."

  "Come now, brother! he's run into my house. I shall eat
  him myself."

  "No, I shall!"

  "No, I shall!"

  And they set to work fighting; the dust flew like anything.
  They'd have gone on fighting ever so much longer, only the
  cocks began to crow. Then both the corpses fell lifeless to
  the ground, and the Soldier went on his way homeward in peace,

  "Glory be to Thee, O Lord! I am saved from the wizards!"

Even the possession of arms and the presence of a dog will not always,
it seems, render a man secure from this terrible species of


  A moujik went out in pursuit of game one day, and took a
  favorite dog with him. He walked and walked through woods
  and bogs, but got nothing for his pains. At last the darkness of
  night surprised him. At an uncanny hour he passed by a graveyard,
  and there, at a place where two roads met, he saw standing
  a corpse in a white shroud. The moujik was horrified, and knew
  not which way to go--whether to keep on or to turn back.

  "Well, whatever happens, I'll go on," he thought; and on he
  went, his dog running at his heels. When the corpse perceived
  him, it came to meet him; not touching the earth with its feet,
  but keeping about a foot above it--the shroud fluttering after it.
  When it had come up with the sportsman, it made a rush at him;
  but the dog seized hold of it by its bare calves, and began a tussle
  with it. When the moujik saw his dog and the corpse grappling
  with each other, he was delighted that things had turned out so
  well for himself, and he set off running home with all his might.
  The dog kept up the struggle until cock-crow, when the corpse
  fell motionless to the ground. Then the dog ran off in pursuit of
  its master, caught him up just as he reached home, and rushed at
  him, furiously trying to bite and to rend him. So savage was it,
  and so persistent, that it was as much as the people of the house
  could do to beat it off.

  "Whatever has come over the dog?" asked the moujik's
  old mother. "Why should it hate its master so?"

  The moujik told her all that had happened.

  "A bad piece of work, my son!" said the old woman. "The
  dog was disgusted at your not helping it. There it was fighting
  with the corpse--and you deserted it, and thought only of saving
  yourself! Now it will owe you a grudge for ever so long."

  Next morning, while the family were going about the farmyard,
  the dog was perfectly quiet. But the moment its master
  made his appearance, it began to growl like anything.

  They fastened it to a chain; for a whole year they kept it
  chained up. But in spite of that, it never forgot how its master
  had offended it. One day it got loose, flew straight at him, and
  began trying to throttle him.

  So they had to kill it.

In the next story a most detailed account is given of the manner in
which a Vampire sets to work, and also of the best means of ridding
the world of it.


  A certain soldier was allowed to go home on furlough.
  Well, he walked and walked, and after a time he began to draw
  near to his native village. Not far off from that village lived a
  miller in his mill. In old times the Soldier had been very
  intimate with him: why shouldn't he go and see his friend? He
  went. The Miller received him cordially, and at once brought
  out liquor; and the two began drinking, and chattering about
  their ways and doings. All this took place towards nightfall, and
  the Soldier stopped so long at the Miller's that it grew quite

  When he proposed to start for his village, his host exclaimed:

  "Spend the night here, trooper! It's very late now, and perhaps
  you might run into mischief."

  "How so?"

  "God is punishing us! A terrible warlock has died among
  us, and by night he rises from his grave, wanders through the
  village, and does such things as bring fear upon the very boldest!
  How could even you help being afraid of him?"

  "Not a bit of it! A soldier is a man who belongs to the
  crown, and 'crown property cannot be drowned in water nor
  burnt in fire.' I'll be off: I'm tremendously anxious to see my
  people as soon as possible."

  Off he set. His road lay in front of a graveyard. On one
  of the graves he saw a great fire blazing. "What's that?"
  thinks he. "Let's have a look." When he drew near, he saw
  that the Warlock was sitting by the fire, sewing boots.

  "Hail, brother!" calls out the Soldier.

  The Warlock looked up and said:

  "What have you come here for?"

  "Why, I wanted to see what you're doing."

  The Warlock threw his work aside and invited the Soldier to
  a wedding.

  "Come along, brother," says he, "let's enjoy ourselves.
  There's a wedding going on in the village."

  "Come along!" says the Soldier.

  They came to where the wedding was; there they were
  given drink, and treated with the utmost hospitality. The Warlock
  drank and drank, revelled and revelled, and then grew
  angry. He chased all the guests and relatives out of the house,
  threw the wedded pair into a slumber, took out two phials and
  an awl, pierced the hands of the bride and bridegroom with the
  awl, and began drawing off their blood. Having done this, he
  said to the Soldier:

  "Now let's be off."

  Well, they went off. On the way the Soldier said:

  "Tell me; why did you draw off their blood in those phials?"

  "Why, in order that the bride and bridegroom might die.
  To-morrow morning no one will be able to wake them. I alone
  know how to bring them back to life."

  "How's that managed?"

  "The bride and bridegroom must have cuts made in their
  heels, and some of their own blood must then be poured back
  into those wounds. I've got the bridegroom's blood stowed
  away in my right-hand pocket, and the bride's in my left."

  The Soldier listened to this without letting a single word
  escape him. Then the Warlock began boasting again.

  "Whatever I wish," says he, "that I can do!"

  "I suppose it's quite impossible to get the better of you?"
  says the Soldier.

  "Why impossible? If any one were to make a pyre of aspen
  boughs, a hundred loads of them, and were to burn me on that
  pyre, then he'd be able to get the better of me. Only he'd
  have to look out sharp in burning me; for snakes and worms
  and different kinds of reptiles would creep out of my inside, and
  crows and magpies and jackdaws would come flying up. All
  these must be caught and flung on the pyre. If so much as a
  single maggot were to escape, then there'd be no help for it; in
  that maggot I should slip away!"

  The Soldier listened to all this and did not forget it. He and
  the Warlock talked and talked, and at last they arrived at the

  "Well, brother," said the Warlock, "now I'll tear you to
  pieces. Otherwise you'd be telling all this."

  "What are you talking about? Don't you deceive yourself;
  I serve God and the Emperor."

  The Warlock gnashed his teeth, howled aloud, and sprang
  at the Soldier--who drew his sword and began laying about him
  with sweeping blows. They struggled and struggled; the Soldier
  was all but at the end of his strength. "Ah!" thinks he,
  "I'm a lost man--and all for nothing!" Suddenly the cocks
  began to crow. The Warlock fell lifeless to the ground.

  The Soldier took the phials of blood out of the Warlock's
  pockets, and went on to the house of his own people. When he
  had got there, and had exchanged greetings with his relatives,
  they said:

  "Did you see any disturbance, Soldier?"

  "No, I saw none."

  "There now! Why we've a terrible piece of work going
  on in the village. A Warlock has taken to haunting it!"

  After talking awhile, they lay down to sleep. Next morning
  the Soldier awoke, and began asking:

  "I'm told you've got a wedding going on somewhere here?"

  "There was a wedding in the house of a rich moujik,"
  replied his relatives, "but the bride and bridegroom have died
  this very night--what from, nobody knows."

  "Where does this moujik live?"

  They showed him the house. Thither he went without
  speaking a word. When he got there, he found the whole
  family in tears.

  "What are you mourning about?" says he.

  "Such and such is the state of things, Soldier," say they.

  "I can bring your young people to life again. What will
  you give me if I do?"

  "Take what you like, even were it half of what we've got!"

  The Soldier did as the Warlock had instructed him, and
  brought the young people back to life. Instead of weeping
  there began to be happiness and rejoicing; the Soldier was
  hospitably treated and well rewarded. Then--left about, face!
  off he marched to the Starosta, and told him to call the peasants
  together and to get ready a hundred loads of aspen wood.
  Well, they took the wood into the graveyard, dragged the Warlock
  out of his grave, placed him on the pyre, and set it alight--the
  people all standing round in a circle with brooms, shovels,
  and fire-irons. The pyre became wrapped in flames, the Warlock
  began to burn. His corpse burst, and out of it crept snakes,
  worms, and all sorts of reptiles, and up came flying crows, magpies,
  and jackdaws. The peasants knocked them down and
  flung them into the fire, not allowing so much as a single maggot
  to creep away! And so the Warlock was thoroughly consumed,
  and the Soldier collected his ashes and strewed them
  to the winds. From that time forth there was peace in the

  The Soldier received the thanks of the whole community.
  He stayed at home some time, enjoying himself thoroughly.
  Then he went back to the Tsar's service with money in his
  pocket. When he had served his time, he retired from the
  army, and began to live at his ease.

The stories of this class are very numerous, all of them based on the
same belief--that in certain cases the dead, in a material shape,
leave their graves in order to destroy and prey upon the living. This
belief is not peculiar to the Slavonians but it is one of the
characteristic features of their spiritual creed. Among races which
burn their dead, remarks Hertz in his exhaustive treatise on the
Werwolf (p. 126), little is known of regular "corpse-spectres." Only
vague apparitions, dream-like phantoms, are supposed, as a general
rule, to issue from graves in which nothing more substantial than
ashes has been laid.[413] But where it is customary to lay the dead
body in the ground, "a peculiar half-life" becomes attributed to it by
popular fancy, and by some races it is supposed to be actuated at
intervals by murderous impulses. In the East these are generally
attributed to the fact of its being possessed by an evil spirit, but
in some parts of Europe no such explanation of its conduct is given,
though it may often be implied. "The belief in vampires is the
specific Slavonian form of the universal belief in spectres
(_Gespenster_)," says Hertz, and certainly vampirism has always made
those lands peculiarly its own which are or have been tenanted or
greatly influenced by Slavonians.

But animated corpses often play an important part in the traditions
of other countries. Among the Scandinavians and especially in Iceland,
were they the cause of many fears, though they were not supposed to be
impelled by a thirst for blood so much as by other carnal
appetites,[414] or by a kind of local malignity.[415] In Germany tales
of horror similar to the Icelandic are by no means unknown, but the
majority of them are to be found in districts which were once wholly
Lettic or Slavonic, though they are now reckoned as Teutonic, such as
East Prussia, or Pomerania, or Lusatia. But it is among the races
which are Slavonic by tongue as well as by descent, that the genuine
vampire tales flourish most luxuriantly: in Russia, in Poland, and in
Servia--among the Czekhs of Bohemia, and the Slovaks of Hungary, and
the numerous other subdivisions of the Slavonic family which are
included within the heterogeneous empire of Austria. Among the
Albanians and Modern Greeks they have taken firm root, but on those
peoples a strong Slavonic influence has been brought to bear. Even
Prof. Bernhard Schmidt, although an uncompromising opponent of
Fallmerayer's doctrines with regard to the Slavonic origin of the
present inhabitants of Greece, allows that the Greeks, as they
borrowed from the Slavonians a name for the Vampire, may have received
from them also certain views and customs with respect to it.[416]
Beyond this he will not go, and he quotes a number of passages from
Hellenic writers to prove that in ancient Greece spectres were
frequently represented as delighting in blood, and sometimes as
exercising a power to destroy. Nor will he admit that any very great
stress ought to be laid upon the fact that the Vampire is generally
called in Greece by a name of Slavonic extraction; for in the islands,
which were, he says, little if at all affected by Slavonic influences,
the Vampire bears a thoroughly Hellenic designation.[417] But the
thirst for blood attributed by Homer to his shadowy ghosts seems to
have been of a different nature from that evinced by the material
Vampire of modern days, nor does that ghastly _revenant_ seem by any
means fully to correspond to such ghostly destroyers as the spirit of
Gello, or the spectres of Medea's slaughtered children. It is not only
in the Vampire, however, that we find a point of close contact between
the popular beliefs of the New-Greeks and the Slavonians. Prof.
Bernhard Schmidt's excellent work is full of examples which prove how
intimately they are connected.

The districts of the Russian Empire in which a belief in vampires
mostly prevails are White Russia and the Ukraine. But the ghastly
blood-sucker, the _Upir_,[418] whose name has become naturalized in so
many alien lands under forms resembling our "Vampire," disturbs the
peasant-mind in many other parts of Russia, though not perhaps with
the same intense fear which it spreads among the inhabitants of the
above-named districts, or of some other Slavonic lands. The numerous
traditions which have gathered around the original idea vary to some
extent according to their locality, but they are never radically

Some of the details are curious. The Little-Russians hold that if a
vampire's hands have grown numb from remaining long crossed in the
grave, he makes use of his teeth, which are like steel. When he has
gnawed his way with these through all obstacles, he first destroys the
babes he finds in a house, and then the older inmates. If fine salt be
scattered on the floor of a room, the vampire's footsteps may be
traced to his grave, in which he will be found resting with rosy cheek
and gory mouth.

The Kashoubes say that when a _Vieszcy_, as they call the Vampire,
wakes from his sleep within the grave, he begins to gnaw his hands and
feet; and as he gnaws, one after another, first his relations, then
his other neighbors, sicken and die. When he has finished his own
store of flesh, he rises at midnight and destroys cattle, or climbs a
belfry and sounds the bell. All who hear the ill-omened tones will
soon die. But generally he sucks the blood of sleepers. Those on whom
he has operated will be found next morning dead, with a very small
wound on the left side of the breast, exactly over the heart. The
Lusatian Wends hold that when a corpse chews its shroud or sucks its
own breast, all its kin will soon follow it to the grave. The
Wallachians say that a _murony_--a sort of cross between a werwolf and
a vampire, connected by name with our nightmare--can take the form of
a dog, a cat, or a toad, and also of any blood-sucking insect. When he
is exhumed, he is found to have long nails of recent growth on his
hands and feet, and blood is streaming from his eyes, ears, nose and

The Russian stories give a very clear account of the operation
performed by the vampire on his victims. Thus, one night, a peasant is
conducted by a stranger into a house where lie two sleepers, an old
man and a youth. "The stranger takes a pail, places it near the youth,
and strikes him on the back; immediately the back opens, and forth
flows rosy blood. The stranger fills the pail full, and drinks it dry.
Then he fills another pail with blood from the old man, slakes his
brutal thirst, and says to the peasant, 'It begins to grow light! let
us go back to my dwelling.'"[419]

Many skazkas also contain, as we have already seen, very clear
directions how to deprive a vampire of his baleful power. According to
them, as well as to their parallels elsewhere, a stake must be driven
through the murderous corpse. In Russia an aspen stake is selected for
that purpose, but in some places one made of thorn is preferred. But a
Bohemian vampire, when staked in this manner in the year 1337, says
Mannhardt,[420] merely exclaimed that the stick would be very useful
for keeping off dogs; and a _strigon_ (or Istrian vampire) who was
transfixed with a sharp thorn cudgel near Laibach, in 1672, pulled it
out of his body and flung it back contemptuously. The only certain
methods of destroying a vampire appear to be either to consume him by
fire, or to chop off his head with a grave-digger's shovel. The Wends
say that if a vampire is hit over the back of the head with an
implement of that kind, he will squeal like a pig.

The origin of the Vampire is hidden in obscurity. In modern times it
has generally been a wizard, or a witch, or a suicide,[421] or a
person who has come to a violent end, or who has been cursed by the
Church or by his parents, who takes such an unpleasant means of
recalling himself to the memory of his surviving relatives and
acquaintances. But even the most honorable dead may become vampires by
accident. He whom a vampire has slain is supposed, in some countries,
himself to become a vampire. The leaping of a cat or some other animal
across a corpse, even the flight of a bird above it, may turn the
innocent defunct into a ravenous demon.[422] Sometimes, moreover, a
man is destined from his birth to be a vampire, being the offspring of
some unholy union. In some instances the Evil One himself is the
father of such a doomed victim, in others a temporarily animated
corpse. But whatever may be the cause of a corpse's "vampirism," it is
generally agreed that it will give its neighbors no rest until they
have at least transfixed it. What is very remarkable about the
operation is, that the stake must be driven through the vampire's body
by a single blow. A second would restore it to life. This idea
accounts for the otherwise unexplained fact that the heroes of
folk-tales are frequently warned that they must on no account be
tempted into striking their magic foes more than one stroke. Whatever
voices may cry aloud "Strike again!" they must remain contented with a
single blow.[423]


[379] Some account of Russian funeral rites and beliefs, and of the
dirges which are sung at buryings and memorials of the dead, will be
found in the "Songs of the Russian People," pp. 309-344.

[380] Afanasief, iv. No. 7. From the Archangel Government.

[381] _Zhornovtsui_, _i.e._ mill-stones, or a hand-mill.

[382] Pp. 341-349 of the first edition. See, also, for some other
versions of the story, as well as for an attempt to explain it, A. de
Gubernatis, "Zoological Mythology," i. 243, 244.

[383] See _supra_, chap. I. p. 36.

[384] Afanasief, iv. No. 9.

[385] Ibid., iv. No. 7. p. 34.

[386] _Prigovarivat'_ = to say or sing while using certain (usually
menacing) gestures.

[387] Afanasief, iv. p. 35.

[388] Afanasief, vi. No. 2.

[389] Afanasief, "Legendui," No. 33.

[390] Chudinsky, No. 9.

[391] Afanasief, v. No. 47. From the Tver Government.

[392] "You have fallen here" _neladno_. _Ladno_ means "well,"
"propitiously," &c., also "in tune."

[393] _Nenashi_ = not ours.

[394] _Gospodi blagoslovi!_ exactly our "God bless us;" with us now
merely an expression of surprise.

[395] _Iz adu kromyeshnago_ = from the last hell. _Kromyeshnaya t'ma_
= utter darkness. _Kromyeshny_, or _kromyeshnaya_, is sometimes used
by itself to signify hell.

[396] _Ha pomin dushi._ _Pomin_ = "remembrance," also "prayers for the

[397] Afanasief, vii. No. 20. In some variants of this story, instead
of the three holy elders appear the Saviour, St. Nicholas, and St.

[398] "Die Nelke," Grimm, _KM._, No. 76, and vol. iii. pp. 125-6.

[399] Wenzig, No. 17, pp. 82-6.

[400] See Chap. I. p. 32.

[401] Afanasief, v. p. 144.

[402] Afanasief, vi, p. 322, 323.

[403] Evening gatherings of young people.

[404] Afanasief, v. No. 30 _a_, pp. 140-2. From the Voroneje

[405] _Obyednya_, the service answering to the Latin mass.

[406] At the end of the _obyednya_.

[407] The _kosa_ or single braid in which Russian girls wear their
hair. See "Songs of the Russian People," pp. 272-5. On a story of this
kind Goethe founded his weird ballad of "Der Todtentanz." Cf.
Bertram's "Sagen," No. 18.

[408] Afanasief, v. pp. 142-4. From the Tambof Government.

[409] Afanasief, vi. pp. 324, 325.

[410] _Chasovenka_, a small chapel, shrine, or oratory.

[411] Afanasief, vi. pp 321, 322.

[412] Afanasief, v. pp. 144-7. From the Tambof Government.

[413] On this account Hanush believes that the Old Slavonians, as
burners of their dead, must have borrowed the vampire belief from some
other race. See the "Zeitschrift für deutsche Mythologie," &c., vol.
iv. p. 199. But it is not certain that burial by cremation was
universally practised by the heathen Slavonians. Kotlyarevsky, in his
excellent work on their funeral customs, arrives at the conclusion
that there never was any general rule on the subject, but that some
Slavonians buried without burning, while others first burned their
dead, and then inhumed their ashes. See "Songs of the Russian People,"
p. 325.

[414] See the strange stories in Maurer's "Isländische Volkssagen,"
pp. 112, and 300, 301.

[415] As in the case of Glam, the terrible spectre which Grettir had
so much difficulty in overcoming. To all who appreciate a shudder may
be recommended chap. xxxv. of "The Story of Grettir the Strong,"
translated from the Icelandic by E. Magnússon and W. Morris, 1869.

[416] The ordinary Modern-Greek word for a vampire, βουρκόλακας, he
says, "is undoubtedly of Slavonic origin, being identical with the
Slavonic name of the werwolf, which is called in Bohemian _vlkodlak_,
in Bulgarian and Slovak, _vrkolak_, &c.," the vampire and the werwolf
having many points in common. Moreover, the Regular name for a vampire
in Servian, he remarks, is _vukodlak_. This proves the Slavonian
nature (_die Slavicität_) of the name beyond all doubt.--"Volksleben
der Neugriechen," 1871, p. 159.

[417] In Crete and Rhodes, καταχανᾶς; in Cyprus, σαρκωμένος; in
Tenos, ἀναικαθούμενος. The Turks, according to Mr. Tozer, give the
name of _vurkolak_, and some of the Albanians, says Hahn, give that of
βουρβολάκ-ου to the restless dead. Ibid, p. 160.

[418] Russian _vampir_, South-Russian _upuir_, anciently _upir_;
Polish _upior_, Polish and Bohemian _upir_. Supposed by some
philologists to be from _pit'_ = drink, whence the Croatian name for a
vampire _pijawica_. See "Songs of the Russian People," p. 410.

[419] Afanasief, _P.V.S._ iii. 558. The story is translated in full in
"Songs of the Russian People," pp. 411, 412

[420] In a most valuable article on "Vampirism" in the "Zeitschrift
für deutsche Mythologie und Sittenkunde," Bd. iv. 1859, pp. 259-82.

[421] How superior our intelligence is to that of Slavonian peasants
is proved by the fact that they still drive stakes through supposed
vampires, whereas our law no longer demands that a suicide shall have
a stake driven through his corpse. That rite was abolished by 4 Geo.
iv. c. 52.

[422] Compare with this belief the Scotch superstition mentioned by
Pennant, that if a dog or cat pass over a corpse the animal must be
killed at once. As illustrative of this idea, Mr. Henderson states, on
the authority of "an old Northumbrian hind," that "in one case, just
as a funeral was about to leave the house, the cat jumped over the
coffin, and no one would move till the cat was destroyed." In another,
a colly dog jumped over a coffin which a funeral party had set on the
ground while they rested. "It was felt by all that the dog must be
killed, without hesitation, before they proceeded farther, and killed
it was." With us the custom survives; its explanation has been
forgotten. See Henderson's "Notes on the Folk Lore of the Northern
Counties of England," 1866, p. 43.

[423] A great deal of information about vampires, and also about
turnskins, wizards and witches, will be found in Afanasief, _P.V.S._
iii. chap. xxvi., on which I have freely drawn. The subject has been
treated with his usual judgment and learning by Mr. Tylor in his
"Primitive Culture," ii. 175, 176. For several ghastly stories about
the longing of Rákshasas and Vetálas for human flesh, some of which
bear a strong resemblance to Slavonic vampire tales, see Brockhaus's
translation of the first five books of the "Kathásaritságara," vol. i.
p. 94; vol. ii. pp. 13, 142, 147.




_About Saints._

As besides the songs or _pyesni_ there are current among the people a
number of _stikhi_ or poems on sacred subjects, so together with the
_skazki_ there have been retained in the popular memory a multitude of
_legendui_, or legends relating to persons or incidents mentioned in
the Bible or in ecclesiastical history. Many of them have been
extracted from the various apocryphal books which in olden times had
so wide a circulation, and many also from the lives of the Saints;
some of them may be traced to such adaptations of Indian legends as
the "Varlaam and Josaphat" attributed to St. John of Damascus; and
others appear to be ancient heathen traditions, which, with altered
names and slightly modified incidents, have been made to do service as
Christian narratives. But whatever may be their origin, they all bear
witness to the fact of their having been exposed to various
influences, and many of them may fairly be considered as relics of
hoar antiquity, memorials of that misty period when the pious
Slavonian chronicler struck by the confusion of Christian with heathen
ideas and ceremonies then prevalent, styled his countrymen a
two-faithed people.[424]

On the popular tales of a religious character current among the
Russian peasantry, the duality of their creed, or of that of their
ancestors, has produced a twofold effect. On the one hand, into
narratives drawn from purely Christian sources there has entered a
pagan element, most clearly perceptible in stories which deal with
demons and departed spirits; on the other hand, an attempt has been
made to give a Christian nature to what are manifestly heathen
legends, by lending saintly names to their characters and clothing
their ideas in an imitation of biblical language. Of such stories as
these, it will be as well to give a few specimens.

Among the legends borrowed from the apocryphal books and similar
writings, many of which are said to be still carefully preserved among
the "Schismatics," concealed in hiding-places of which the secret is
handed down from father to son--as was once the case with the Hussite
books among the Bohemians--there are many which relate to the creation
of the world and the early history of man. One of these states that
when the Lord had created Adam and Eve, he stationed at the gates of
Paradise the dog, then a clean beast, giving it strict orders not to
give admittance to the Evil One. But "the Evil One came to the gates
of Paradise, and threw the dog a piece of bread, and the dog went and
let the Evil One into Paradise. Then the Evil One set to work and spat
over Adam and Eve--covered them all over with spittle, from the head
to the little toe of the left foot." Thence is it that spittle is
impure (_pogana_). So Adam and Eve were turned out of Paradise, and
the Lord said to the dog:

"Listen, O Dog! thou wert a Dog (_Sobaka_), a clean beast; through all
Paradise the most holy didst thou roam. Henceforward shalt thou be a
Hound (_Pes_, or _Pyos_), an unclean beast. Into a dwelling it shall
be a sin to admit thee; into a church if thou dost run, the church
must be consecrated anew."

And so--the story concludes--"ever since that time it has been called
not a dog but a hound--skin-deep it is unclean (_pogana_), but clean

According to another story, when men first inhabited the earth, they
did not know how to build houses, so as to keep themselves warm in
winter. But instead of asking aid from the Lord, they applied to the
Devil, who taught them how to make an _izba_ or ordinary Russian
cottage. Following his instructions, they made wooden houses, each of
which had a door but no window. Inside these huts it was warm; but
there was no living in them, on account of the darkness. "So the
people went back to the Evil One. The Evil one strove and strove, but
nothing came of it, the izba still remained pitch dark. Then the
people prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said: 'Hew out a window!' So
they hewed out windows, and it became light."[425]

Some of the Russian traditions about the creation of man are closely
connected with Teutonic myths. The Schismatics called _Dukhobortsui_,
or Spirit-Wrestlers, for instance, hold that man was composed of
earthly materials, but that God breathed into his body the breath of
life. "His flesh was made of earth, his bones of stone, his veins of
roots, his blood of water, his hair of grass, his thought of the wind,
his spirit of the cloud."[426] Many of the Russian stories about the
early ages of the world, also, are current in Western Europe, such as
that about the rye--which in olden days was a mass of ears from top to
bottom. But some lazy harvest-women having cursed "God's corn," the
Lord waxed wroth and began to strip the ears from the stem. But when
the last ear was about to fall, the Lord had pity upon the penitent
culprits, and allowed the single ear to remain as we now see it.[427]

A Little-Russian variant of this story says that Ilya (Elijah), was so
angry at seeing the base uses to which a woman turned "God's corn,"
that he began to destroy all the corn in the world. But a dog begged
for, and received a few ears. From these, after Ilya's wrath was
spent, mankind obtained seed, and corn began to grow again on the face
of the earth, but not in its pristine bulk and beauty. It is on
account of the good service thus rendered to our race that we ought to
cherish and feed the dog.[428]

Another story, from the Archangel Government, tells how a certain
King, as he roamed afield with his princes and boyars, found a grain
of corn as large as a sparrow's egg. Marvelling greatly at its size,
he tried in vain to obtain from his followers some explanation
thereof. Then they bethought them of "a certain man from among the old
people, who might be able to tell them something about it." But when
the old man came, "scarcely able to crawl along on a pair of
crutches," he said he knew nothing about it, but perhaps his father
might remember something. So they sent for his father, who came
limping along with the help of one crutch, and who said:

"I have a father living, in whose granary I have seen just such a

So they sent for his father, a man a hundred and seventy years old.
And the patriarch came, walking nimbly needing neither guide nor
crutch. Then the King began to question him, saying:

"Who sowed this sort of corn?"

"I sowed it, and reaped it," answered the old man, "and now I have
some of it in my granary. I keep it as a memorial. When I was young,
the grain was large and plentiful, but after a time it began to grow
smaller and smaller."

"Now tell me," asked the King, "how comes it, old man, that thou goest
more nimbly than thy son and thy grandson?"

"Because I lived according to the law of the Lord," answered the old
man. "I held mine own, I grasped not at what was another's."[429]

The existence of hills is accounted for by legendary lore in this
wise. When the Lord was about to fashion the face of the earth, he
ordered the Devil to dive into the watery depths and bring thence a
handful of the soil he found at the bottom. The Devil obeyed, but when
he filled his hand, he filled his mouth also. The Lord took the soil,
sprinkled it around, and the Earth appeared, all perfectly flat. The
Devil, whose mouth was quite full, looked on for some time in silence.
At last he tried to speak, but choked, and fled in terror. After him
followed the thunder and the lightning, and so he rushed over the
whole face of the earth, hills springing up where he coughed, and
sky-cleaving mountains where he leaped.[430]

As in other countries, a number of legends are current respecting
various animals. Thus the Old Ritualists will not eat the crayfish
(_rak_), holding that it was created by the Devil. On the other hand
the snake (_uzh_, the harmless or common snake) is highly esteemed,
for tradition says that when the Devil, in the form of a mouse, had
gnawed a hole in the Ark, and thereby endangered the safety of Noah
and his family, the snake stopped up the leak with its head.[431] The
flesh of the horse is considered unclean, because when the infant
Saviour was hidden in the manger the horse kept eating the hay under
which the babe was concealed, whereas the ox not only would not touch
it, but brought back hay on its horns to replace what the horse had
eaten. According to an old Lithuanian tradition, the shape of the sole
is due to the fact that the Queen of the Baltic Sea once ate one half
of it and threw the other half into the sea again. A legend from the
Kherson Government accounts for it as follows. At the time of the
Angelical Salutation, the Blessed Virgin told the Archangel Gabriel
that she would give credit to his words "if a fish, one side of which
had already been eaten, were to come to life again. That very moment
the fish came to life, and was put back in the water."

With the birds many graceful legends are connected. There is a bird,
probably the peewit, which during dry weather may be seen always on
the wing, and piteously crying _Peet, Peet_,[432] as if begging for
water. Of it the following tale is told. When God created the earth,
and determined to supply it with seas, lakes and rivers, he ordered
the birds to convey the waters to their appointed places. They all
obeyed except this bird, which refused to fulfil its duty, saying that
it had no need of seas, lakes or rivers, to slake its thirst. Then the
Lord waxed wroth and forbade it and its posterity ever to approach a
sea or stream, allowing it to quench its thirst with that water only
which remains in hollows and among stones after rain. From that time
it has never ceased its wailing cry of "Drink, Drink," _Peet,

When the Jews were seeking for Christ in the garden, says a Kharkof
legend, all the birds, except the sparrow, tried to draw them away
from his hiding-place. Only the sparrow attracted them thither by its
shrill chirruping. Then the Lord cursed the sparrow, and forbade that
men should eat of its flesh. In other parts of Russia, tradition tells
that before the crucifixion the swallows carried off the nails
provided for the use of the executioners, but the sparrows brought
them back. And while our Lord was hanging on the cross the sparrows
were maliciously exclaiming _Jif! Jif!_ or "He is living! He is
living!" in order to urge on the tormentors to fresh cruelties. But
the swallows cried, with opposite intent, _Umer! Umer!_ "He is dead!
He is dead." Therefore it is that to kill a swallow is a sin, and that
its nest brings good luck to a house. But the sparrow is an unwelcome
guest, whose entry into a cottage is a presage of woe. As a punishment
for its sins, its legs have been fastened together by invisible bonds,
and therefore it always hops, not being able to run.[434]

A great number of the Russian legends refer to the visits which Christ
and his Apostles are supposed to pay to men's houses at various times,
but especially during the period between Easter Sunday and Ascension
Day. In the guise of indigent wayfarers, the sacred visitors enter
into farm-houses and cottages and ask for food and lodging; therefore
to this day the Russian peasant is ever unwilling to refuse
hospitality to any man, fearing lest he might repulse angels unawares.
Tales of this kind are common in all Christian lands, especially in
those in which their folk-lore has preserved some traces of the old
faith in the heathen gods who once walked the earth, and in
patriarchal fashion dispensed justice among men. Many of the Russian
stories closely resemble those of a similar nature which occur in
German and Scandinavian collections; all of them, for instance,
agreeing in the unfavorable light in which they place St. Peter. The
following abridgment of the legend of "The Poor Widow,"[435] may be
taken as a specimen of the Russian tales of this class.

Long, long ago, Christ and his twelve Apostles were wandering about
the world, and they entered into a village one evening, and asked a
rich moujik to allow them to spend the night in his house. But he
would not admit them, crying:

"Yonder lives a widow who takes in beggars; go to her."

So they went to the widow, and asked her. Now she was so poor that
she had nothing in the house but a crust of bread and a handful of
flour. She had a cow, but it had not calved yet, and gave no milk. But
she did all she could for the wayfarers, setting before them all the
food she had, and letting them sleep beneath her roof. And her store
of bread and flour was wonderfully increased, so that her guests fed
and were satisfied. And the next morning they set out anew on their

As they went along the road there met them a wolf. And it fell down
before the Lord, and begged for food. Then said the Lord, "Go to the
poor widow's; slay her cow, and eat."

The Apostles remonstrated in vain. The wolf set off, entered the
widow's cow-house, and killed her cow. And when she heard what had
taken place, she only said:

"The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away. Holy is His will!"

As the sacred wayfarers pursued their journey, there came rolling
towards them a barrel full of money. Then the Lord addressed it,

"Roll, O barrel, into the farmyard of the rich moujik!"

Again the Apostles vainly remonstrated. The barrel went its way, and
the rich moujik found it, and stowed it away, grumbling the while:

"The Lord might as well have sent twice as much!"

The sun rose higher, and the Apostles began to thirst. Then said the

"Follow that road, and ye will find a well; there drink your fill."

They went along that road and found the well. But they could not
drink thereat, for its water was foul and impure, and swarming with
snakes and frogs and toads. So they returned to where the Lord awaited
them, described what they had seen, and resumed their journey. After a
time they were sent in search of another well. And this time they
found a place wherein was water pure and cool, and around grew
wondrous trees, whereon heavenly birds sat singing. And when they had
slaked their thirst, they returned unto the Lord, who said:

"Wherefore did ye tarry so long?"

"We only stayed while we were drinking," replied the Apostles. "We did
not spend above three minutes there in all."

"Not three minutes did ye spend there, but three whole years," replied
the Lord. "As it was in the first well, so will it be in the other
world with the rich moujik! But as it was in the second well, so will
it be in that world with the poor widow!"

Sometimes our Lord is supposed to wander by himself, under the guise
of a beggar. In the story of "Christ's Brother"[436] a young
man--whose father, on his deathbed, had charged him not to forget the
poor--goes to church on Easter Day, having provided himself with red
eggs to give to the beggars with whom he should exchange the Pascal
greeting. After exhausting his stock of presents, he finds that there
remains one beggar of miserable appearance to whom he has nothing to
offer, so he takes him home to dinner. After the meal the beggar
exchanges crosses with his host,[437] giving him "a cross which blazes
like fire," and invites him to pay him a visit on the following
Tuesday. To an enquiry about the way, he replies, "You have only to go
along yonder path and say, 'Grant thy blessing, O Lord!' and you will
come to where I am."

The young man does as he is told, and commences his journey on the
Tuesday. On his way he hears voices, as though of children, crying, "O
Christ's brother, ask Christ for us--have we to suffer long?" A little
later he sees a group of girls who are ladling water from one well
into another, who make the same request. At last he arrives at the end
of his journey, finds the aged mendicant who had adopted him as his
brother, and recognizes him as "the Lord Jesus Christ Himself." The
youth relates what he has seen, and asks:

"Wherefore, O Lord, are the children suffering?"

"Their mothers cursed them while still unborn," is the reply.
"Therefore is it impossible for them to enter into Paradise."

"And the girls?"

"They used to sell milk, and they put water into the milk. Now they
are doomed to pour water from well to well eternally."

After this the youth is taken into Paradise, and brought to the place
there provided for him.[438]

Sometimes the sacred visitor rewards with temporal goods the kindly
host who has hospitably received him. Thus the story of "Beer and
Corn"[439] tells how a certain man was so poor that when the rest of
the peasants were brewing beer, and making other preparations to
celebrate an approaching feast of the Church, he found his cupboard
perfectly bare. In vain did he apply to a rich neighbor, who was in
the habit of lending goods and money at usurious rates; having no
security to offer, he could borrow nothing. But on the eve of the
festival, when he was sitting at home in sadness, he suddenly rose and
drew near to the sacred painting which hung in the corner, and sighed
heavily, and said,

"O Lord! forgive me, sinner that I am! I have not even wherewith to
buy oil, so as to light the lamp before the image[440] for the

Soon afterwards an old man entered the cottage, and obtained leave to
spend the night there. After a time the guest enquired why his host
was so sad, and on learning the reason, told him to go again to his
rich neighbor and borrow a quarter of malt. The moujik obeyed, and
soon returned with the malt, which the old man ordered him to throw
into his well. When this was done the villager and his guest went to

Next morning the old man told his guest to borrow a number of tubs,
and fill them with liquor drawn from the well, and then to make his
neighbors assemble and drink it. He did so, and the buckets were
filled with "such beer as neither fancy nor imagination can conceive,
but only a skazka can describe." The villagers, excited by the news,
collected in crowds, and drank the beer and rejoiced. Last of all came
the rich neighbor, begging to know how such wonderful beer was brewed.
The moujik told him the whole story, whereupon he straightway
commanded his servants to pour all his best malt into his well. And
next day he hastened to the well to taste the liquor it contained; but
he found nothing but malt and water; not a drop of beer was there.

We may take next the legends current among the peasantry about
various saints. Of these, the story of "The Prophet Elijah and St.
Nicholas," will serve as a good specimen. But, in order to render it
intelligible, a few words about "Ilya the Prophet," as Elijah is
styled in Russia, may as well be prefixed.

It is well known that in the days of heathenism the Slavonians
worshipped a thunder-god, Perun,[441] who occupied in their
mythological system the place which in the Teutonic was assigned to a
Donar or a Thor. He was believed, if traditions may be relied upon, to
sway the elements, often driving across the sky in a flaming car, and
launching the shafts of the lightning at his demon foes. His name is
still preserved by the western and southern Slavonians in many local
phrases, especially in imprecations; but, with the introduction of
Christianity into Slavonic lands, all this worship of his divinity
came to an end. Then took place, as had occurred before in other
countries, the merging of numerous portions of the old faith in the
new, the transferring of many of the attributes of the old gods to the
sacred personages of the new religion.[442] During this period of
transition the ideas which were formerly associated with the person of
Perun, the thunder-god, became attached to that of the Prophet Ilya or

One of the causes which conduced to this result may have been--if
Perun really was considered in old times, as he is said to have been,
the Lord of the Harvest--that the day consecrated by the Church to
Elijah, July 20, occurs in the beginning of the harvest season, and
therefore the peasants naturally connected their new saint with their
old deity. But with more certainty may it be accepted that, the
leading cause was the similarity which appeared to the recent converts
to prevail between their dethroned thunder-god and the prophet who was
connected with drought and with rain, whose enemies were consumed by
fire from on high, and on whom waited "a chariot of fire and horses of
fire," when he was caught up by a whirlwind into heaven. And so at the
present day, according to Russian tradition, the Prophet Ilya thunders
across the sky in a flaming car, and smites the clouds with the darts
of the lightning. In the Vladimir Government he is said "to destroy
devils with stone arrows,"--weapons corresponding to the hammer of
Thor and the lance of Indra. On his day the peasants everywhere expect
thunder and rain, and in some places they set out rye and oats on
their gates, and ask their clergy to laud the name of Ilya, that he
may bless their cornfields with plenteousness. There are districts,
also, in which the people go to church in a body on Ilya's day, and
after the service is over they kill and roast a beast which has been
purchased at the expense of the community. Its flesh is cut up into
small pieces and sold, the money paid for it going to the church. To
stay away from this ceremony, or not to purchase a piece of the meat,
would be considered a great sin; to mow or make hay on that day would
be to incur a terrible risk, for Ilya might smite the field with the
thunder, or burn up the crop with the lightning. In the old Novgorod
there used to be two churches, the one dedicated to "Ilya the Wet,"
the other to "Ilya the Dry." To these a cross-bearing procession was
made when a change in the weather was desired: to the former in times
of drought, to the latter when injury was being done to the crops by
rain. Diseases being considered to be evil spirits, invalids used to
pray to the thunder-god for relief. And so, at the present day, a
_zagovor_ or spell against the Siberian cattle-plague entreats the
"Holy Prophet of God Ilya," to send "thirty angels in golden array,
with bows and with arrows" to destroy it. The Servians say that at the
division of the world Ilya received the thunder and lightning as his
share, and that the crash and blaze of the storm are signs of his
contest with the devil. Wherefore the faithful ought not to cross
themselves when the thunder peals, lest the evil one should take
refuge from the heavenly weapons behind the protecting cross. The
Bulgarians say that forked lightning is the lance of Ilya who is
chasing the Lamia fiend: summer lightning is due to the sheen of that
lance, or to the fire issuing from the nostrils of his celestial
steeds. The white clouds of summer are named by them his heavenly
sheep, and they say that he compels the spirits of dead Gypsies to
form pellets of snow--by men styled hail--with which he scourges in
summer the fields of sinners.[443]

Such are a few of the ideas connected by Slavonian tradition with the
person of the Prophet Elijah or Ilya. To St. Nicholas, who has
succeeded to the place occupied by an ancient ruler of the waters, a
milder character is attributed than to Ilya, the thunder-god's
successor. As Ilya is the counterpart of Thor, so does Nicholas in
some respects resemble Odin. The special characteristics of the Saint
and the Prophet are fairly contrasted in the following story.


  A long while ago there lived a Moujik. Nicholas's day he
  always kept holy, but Elijah's not a bit; he would even work
  upon it. In honor of St. Nicholas he would have a taper lighted
  and a service performed, but about Elijah the Prophet he
  forgot so much as to think.

  Well, it happened one day that Elijah and Nicholas were
  walking over the land belonging to this Moujik; and as they
  walked they looked--in the cornfields the green blades were
  growing up so splendidly that it did one's heart good to look at

  "Here'll be a good harvest, a right good harvest!" says
  Nicholas, "and the Moujik, too, is a good fellow sure enough,
  both honest and pious: one who remembers God and thinks
  about the Saints! It will fall into good hands--"

  "We'll see by-and-by whether much will fall to his share!"
  answered Elijah; "when I've burnt up all his land with lightning,
  and beaten it all flat with hail, then this Moujik of yours will
  know what's right, and will learn to keep Elijah's day holy."

  Well, they wrangled and wrangled; then they parted asunder.
  St. Nicholas went off straight to the Moujik and said:

  "Sell all your corn at once, just as it stands, to the Priest
  of Elijah.[445] If you don't, nothing will be left of it: it will all be
  beaten flat by hail."

  Off rushed the Moujik to the Priest.

  "Won't your Reverence buy some standing corn? I'll sell
  my whole crop. I'm in such pressing need of money just now.
  It's a case of pay up with me! Buy it, Father! I'll sell it

  They bargained and bargained, and came to an agreement.
  The Moujik got his money and went home.

  Some little time passed by. There gathered together, there
  came rolling up, a stormcloud; with a terrible raining and hailing
  did it empty itself over the Moujik's cornfields, cutting
  down all the crop as if with a knife--not even a single blade did
  it leave standing.

  Next day Elijah and Nicholas walked past. Says Elijah:

  "Only see how I've devastated the Moujik's cornfield!"

  "The Moujik's! No, brother! Devastated it you have
  splendidly, only that field belongs to the Elijah Priest, not to
  the Moujik."

  "To the Priest! How's that?"

  "Why, this way. The Moujik sold it last week to the
  Elijah Priest, and got all the money for it. And so, methinks,
  the Priest may whistle for his money!"

  "Stop a bit!" said Elijah. "I'll set the field all right again.
  It shall be twice as good as it was before."

  They finished talking, and went each his own way. St.
  Nicholas returned to the Moujik, and said:

  "Go to the Priest and buy back your crop--you won't lose
  anything by it."

  The Moujik went to the Priest, made his bow, and said:

  "I see, your Reverence, God has sent you a misfortune--the
  hail has beaten the whole field so flat you might roll a ball
  over it. Since things are so, let's go halves in the loss. I'll
  take my field back, and here's half of your money for you to
  relieve your distress."

  The Priest was rejoiced, and they immediately struck hands
  on the bargain.

  Meanwhile--goodness knows how--the Moujik's ground
  began to get all right. From the old roots shot forth new tender
  stems. Rain-clouds came sailing exactly over the cornfield
  and gave the soil to drink. There sprang up a marvellous crop--tall
  and thick. As to weeds, there positively was not one to be
  seen. And the ears grew fuller and fuller, till they were fairly
  bent right down to the ground.

  Then the dear sun glowed, and the rye grew ripe--like so
  much gold did it stand in the fields. Many a sheaf did the
  Moujik gather, many a heap of sheaves did he set up; and now
  he was beginning to carry the crop, and to gather it together into

  At that very time Elijah and Nicholas came walking by
  again. Joyfully did the Prophet gaze on all the land, and say:

  "Only look, Nicholas! what a blessing! Why, I have rewarded
  the Priest in such wise, that he will never forget it all
  his life."

  "The Priest? No, brother! the blessing indeed is great,
  but this land, you see, belongs to the Moujik. The Priest
  hasn't got anything whatsoever to do with it."

  "What are you talking about?"

  "It's perfectly true. When the hail beat all the cornfield
  flat, the Moujik went to the Priest and bought it back again at
  half price."

  "Stop a bit!" says Elijah. "I'll take the profit out of the
  corn. However many sheaves the Moujik may lay on the
  threshing-floor, he shall never thresh out of them more than a
  peck[446] at a time."

  "A bad piece of work!" thinks St. Nicholas. Off he went
  at once to the Moujik.

  "Mind," says he, "when you begin threshing your corn,
  never put more than one sheaf at a time on the threshing-floor."

  The Moujik began to thresh: from every sheaf he got a peck
  of grain. All his bins, all his storehouses, he crammed with
  rye; but still much remained over. So he built himself new
  barns, and filled them as full as they could hold.

  Well, one day Elijah and Nicholas came walking past his
  homestead, and the Prophet began looking here and there, and

  "Do you see what barns he's built? has he got anything to
  put into them?"

  "They're quite full already," answers Nicholas.

  "Why, wherever did the Moujik get such a lot of grain?"

  "Bless me! Why, every one of his sheaves gave him a
  peck of grain. When he began to thresh he never put more
  than one sheaf at a time on the threshing-floor."

  "Ah, brother Nicholas!" said Elijah, guessing the truth,
  "it's you who go and tell the Moujik everything!"

  "What an idea! that I should go and tell--"

  "As you please; that's your doing! But that Moujik sha'n't
  forget me in a hurry!"

  "Why, what are you going to do to him?"

  "What I shall do, that I won't tell you," replies Elijah.

  "There's a great danger coming," thinks St. Nicholas, and
  he goes to the Moujik again, and says:

  "Buy two tapers, a big one and a little one, and do thus
  and thus with them."

  Well, next day the Prophet Elijah and St. Nicholas were
  walking along together in the guise of wayfarers, and they met
  the Moujik, who was carrying two wax tapers--one, a big
  rouble one, and the other, a tiny copeck one.

  "Where are you going, Moujik?" asked St. Nicholas.

  "Well, I'm going to offer a rouble taper to Prophet Elijah;
  he's been ever so good to me! When my crops were ruined
  by the hail, he bestirred himself like anything, and gave me
  a plentiful harvest, twice as good as the other would have

  "And the copeck taper, what's that for?"

  "Why, that's for Nicholas!" said the peasant and passed

  "There now, Elijah!" says Nicholas, "you say I go and
  tell everything to the Moujik--surely you can see for yourself
  how much truth there is in that!"

  Thereupon the matter ended. Elijah was appeased and
  didn't threaten to hurt the Moujik any more. And the Moujik
  led a prosperous life, and from that time forward he held in
  equal honor Elijah's Day and Nicholas's Day.

It is not always to the Prophet Ilya that the power once attributed to
Perun is now ascribed. The pagan wielder of the thunderbolt is
represented in modern traditions by more than one Christian saint.
Sometimes, as St. George, he transfixes monsters with his lance;
sometimes, as St. Andrew, he smites with his mace a spot given over to
witchcraft. There was a village (says one of the legends of the
Chernigof Government) in which lived more than a thousand witches, and
they used to steal the holy stars, until at last "there was not one
left to light our sinful world." Then God sent the holy Andrew, who
struck with his mace--and all that village was swallowed up by the
earth, and the place thereof became a swamp.[447]

About St. George many stories are told, and still more ballads (if we
may be allowed to call them so) are sung. Under the names of Georgy,
Yury, and Yegory the Brave, he is celebrated as a patron as well of
wolves as of flocks and herds, as a Christian Confessor struggling and
suffering for the faith amid pagan foes, and as a chivalrous destroyer
of snakes and dragons. The discrepancies which exist between the
various representations given of his character and his functions are
very glaring, but they may be explained by the fact that a number of
legendary ideas sprung from separate sources have become associated
with his name; so that in one story his actions are in keeping with
the character of an old Slavonian deity, in another, with that of a
Christian or a Buddhist saint.

In some parts of Russia, when the cattle go out for the first time to
the spring pastures, a pie, made in the form of a sheep, is cut up by
the chief herdsman, and the fragments are preserved as a remedy
against the diseases to which sheep are liable. On St. George's Day in
spring, April 23, the fields are sanctified by a church service, at
the end of which they are sprinkled with holy water. In the Tula
Government a similar service is held over the wells. On the same day,
in some parts of Russia, a youth (who is called by the Slovenes the
Green Yegory) is dressed like our own "Jack in the Green," with
foliage and flowers. Holding a lighted torch in one hand and a pie in
the other, he goes out to the cornfields, followed by girls singing
appropriate songs. A circle of brushwood is then lighted, in the
centre of which is set the pie. All who take part in the ceremony then
sit down around the fire, and eventually the pie is divided among

Numerous legends speak of the strange connection which exists between
St. George and the Wolf. In Little Russia that animal is called "St.
George's Dog," and the carcases of sheep which wolves have killed are
not used for human food, it being held that they have been assigned by
divine command to the beasts of the field. The human victim whom St.
George has doomed to be thus destroyed nothing can save. A man, to
whom such a fate had been allotted, tried to escape from his
assailants by hiding behind a stove; but a wolf transformed itself
into a cat, and at midnight, when all was still, it stole into the
house and seized the appointed prey. A hunter, who had been similarly
doomed, went on killing wolves for some time, and hanging up their
skins; but when the fatal hour arrived, one of the skins became a
wolf, and slew him by whom it had before been slain. In Little Russia
the wolves have their own herdsman[448]--a being like unto a man, who
is often seen in company with St. George. There were two brothers
(says a popular tale), the one rich, the other poor. The poor brother
had climbed up a tree one night, and suddenly he saw beneath him what
seemed to be two men--the one driving a pack of wolves, the other
attending to the conveyance of a quantity of bread. These two beings
were St. George and the Lisun. And St. George distributed the bread
among the wolves, and one loaf which remained over he gave to the poor
brother; who afterwards found that it was of a miraculous nature,
always renewing itself and so supplying its owner with an
inexhaustible store of bread. The rich brother, hearing the story,
climbed up the tree one night in hopes of obtaining a similar present.
But that night St. George found that he had no bread to give to one of
his wolves, so he gave it the rich brother instead.[449]

One of the legends attributes strange forgetfulness on one occasion to
St. George. A certain Gypsy who had a wife and seven children, and
nothing to feed them with, was standing by a roadside lost in
reflection, when Yegory the Brave came riding by. Hearing that the
saint was on his way to heaven, the Gypsy besought him to ask of God
how he was to support his family. St. George promised to do so, but
forgot. Again the Gypsy saw him riding past, and again the saint
promised and forgot. In a third interview the Gypsy asked him to leave
behind his golden stirrup as a pledge.

A third time St. George leaves the presence of the Lord without
remembering the commission with which he has been entrusted. But when
he is about to mount his charger the sight of the solitary stirrup
recalls it to his mind. So he returns and states the Gypsy's request,
and obtains the reply that "the Gypsy's business is to cheat and to
swear falsely." As soon as the Gypsy is told this, he thanks the Saint
and goes off home.

"Where are you going?" cries Yegory. "Give me back my golden stirrup."

"What stirrup?" asks the Gypsy.

"Why, the one you took from me."

"When did I take one from you? I see you now for the first time in my
life, and never a stirrup did I ever take, so help me Heaven!"

So Yegory had to go away without getting his stirrup back.[450]

There is an interesting Bulgarian legend in which St. George appears
in his Christian capacity of dragon-slayer, but surrounded by
personages belonging to heathen mythology. The inhabitants of the
pagan city of Troyan, it states, "did not believe in Christ, but in
gold and silver." Now there were seventy conduits in that city which
supplied it with spring-water; and the Lord made these conduits run
with liquid gold and silver instead of water, so that all the people
had as much as they pleased of the metals they worshipped, but they
had nothing to drink.

After a time the Lord took pity upon them, and there appeared at a
little distance from the city a deep lake. To this they used to go for
water. Only the lake was guarded by a terrible monster, which daily
devoured a maiden, whom the inhabitants of Troyan were obliged to give
to it in return for leave to make use of the lake. This went on for
three years, at the end of which time it fell to the lot of the king's
daughter to be sacrificed by the monster. But when the Troyan
Andromeda was exposed on the shore of the lake, a Perseus arrived to
save her in the form of St. George. While waiting for the monster to
appear, the saint laid his head on her knees, and she dressed his
locks. Then he fell into so deep a slumber that the monster drew nigh
without awaking him. But the Princess began to weep bitterly, and her
scalding tears fell on the face of St. George and awoke him, and he
slew the monster, and afterwards converted all the inhabitants of
Troyan to Christianity.[451]

St. Nicholas generally maintains in the legends the kindly character
attributed to him in the story in which he and the Prophet Ilya are
introduced together. It is to him that at the present day the anxious
peasant turns most readily for help, and it is he whom the legends
represent as being the most prompt of all the heavenly host to assist
the unfortunate among mankind. Thus in one of the stories a peasant is
driving along a heavy road one autumn day, when his cart sticks fast
in the mire. Just then St. Kasian comes by.

"Help me, brother, to get my cart out of the mud!" says the peasant.

"Get along with you!" replies St. Kasian. "Do you suppose I've got
leisure to be dawdling here with you!"

Presently St. Nicholas comes that way. The peasant addresses the same
request to him, and he stops and gives the required assistance.

When the two saints arrive in heaven, the Lord asks them where they
have been.

"I have been on the earth," replies St. Kasian. "And I happened to
pass by a moujik whose cart had stuck in the mud. He cried out to me,
saying, 'Help me to get my cart out!' But I was not going to spoil my
heavenly apparel."

"I have been on the earth," says St. Nicholas, whose clothes were all
covered with mud. "I went along that same road, and I helped the
moujik to get his cart free."

Then the Lord says, "Listen, Kasian! Because thou didst not assist the
moujik, therefore shall men honor thee by thanksgiving once only every
four years. But to thee, Nicholas, because thou didst assist the
moujik to set free his cart, shall men twice every year offer up

"Ever since that time," says the story, "it has been customary to
offer prayers and thanksgiving (_molebnui_) to Nicholas twice a year,
but to Kasian only once every leap-year."[452]

In another story St. Nicholas comes to the aid of an adventurer who
watches beside the coffin of a bewitched princess. There were two
moujiks in a certain village, we are told, one of whom was very rich
and the other very poor. One day the poor man, who was in great
distress, went to the house of the rich man and begged for a loan.

"I will repay it, on my word. Here is Nicholas as a surety," he cried,
pointing to a picture of St. Nicholas.

Thereupon the rich man lent him twenty roubles. The day for repayment
came, but the poor man had not a single copeck. Furious at his loss,
the rich man rushed to the picture of St. Nicholas, crying--

"Why don't you pay up for that pauper? You stood surety for him,
didn't you?"

And as the picture made no reply, he tore it down from the wall, set
it on a cart and drove it away, flogging it as he went, and crying--

"Pay me my money! Pay me my money!"

As he drove past the inn a young merchant saw him, and cried--

"What are you doing, you infidel!"

The moujik explained that as he could not get his money back from a
man who was in his debt, he was proceeding against a surety; whereupon
the merchant paid the debt, and thereby ransomed the picture, which he
hung up in a place of honor, and kept a lamp burning before it. Soon
afterwards an old man offered his services to the merchant, who
appointed him his manager; and from that time all things went well
with the merchant.

But after a while a misfortune befell the land in which he lived, for
"an evil witch enchanted the king's daughter, who lay dead all day
long, but at night got up and ate people." So she was shut up in a
coffin and placed in a church, and her hand, with half the kingdom as
her dowry, was offered to any one who could disenchant her. The
merchant, in accordance with his old manager's instructions, undertook
the task, and after a series of adventures succeeded in accomplishing
it. The last words of one of the narrators of the story are, "Now this
old one was no mere man. He was Nicholas himself, the saint of

With one more legend about this favorite saint, I will conclude this
section of the present chapter. In some of its incidents it closely
resembles the story of "The Smith and the Demon," which was quoted in
the first chapter.


  In the parish of St. Nicholas there lived a Pope. This
  Pope's eyes were thoroughly pope-like.[455] He served Nicholas
  several years, and went on serving until such time as there
  remained to him nothing either for board or lodging. Then our
  Pope collected all the church keys, looked at the picture of
  Nicholas, thumped him, out of spite, over the shoulders with
  the keys, and went forth from his parish as his eyes led him.
  And as he walked along the road he suddenly lighted upon an
  unknown man.

  "Hail, good man!" said the stranger to the Pope. "Whence
  do you come and whither are you going? Take me with you
  as a companion."

  Well, they went on together. They walked and walked for
  several versts, then they grew tired. It was time to seek repose.
  Now the Pope had a few biscuits in his cassock, and the companion
  he had picked up had a couple of small loaves.[456]

  "Let's eat your loaves first," says the Pope, "and afterwards
  we'll take to the biscuits, too."

  "Agreed!" replies the stranger. "We'll eat my loaves,
  and keep your biscuits for afterwards."

  Well, they ate away at the loaves; each of them ate his fill,
  but the loaves got no smaller. The Pope grew envious:
  "Come," thinks he, "I'll steal them from him!" After the
  meal the old man lay down to take a nap, but the Pope kept
  scheming how to steal the loaves from him. The old man went
  to sleep. The Pope drew the loaves out of his pocket and
  began quietly nibbling them at his seat. The old man awoke
  and felt for his loaves; they were gone!

  "Where are my loaves?" he exclaimed; "who has eaten
  them? was it you, Pope?"

  "No, not I, on my word!" replied the Pope.

  "Well, so be it," said the old man.

  They gave themselves a shake, and set out again on their
  journey. They walked and walked; suddenly the road branched
  off in two different directions. Well, they both went the same
  way, and soon reached a certain country. In that country the
  King's daughter lay at the point of death, and the King had given
  notice that to him who should cure his daughter he would give
  half of his kingdom, and half of his goods and possessions; but
  if any one undertook to cure her and failed, he should have his
  head chopped off and hung up on a stake. Well, they arrived,
  elbowed their way among the people in front of the King's palace,
  and gave out that they were doctors. The servant came out
  from the King's palace, and began questioning them:

  "Who are you? from what cities, of what families? what
  do you want?"

  "We are doctors," they replied; "we can cure the Princess!"

  "Oh! if you are doctors, come into the palace."

  So they went into the palace, saw the Princess, and asked
  the King to supply them with a private apartment, a tub of
  water, a sharp sword, and a big table. The King supplied
  them with all these things. Then they shut themselves up in
  the private apartment, laid the Princess on the big table, cut
  her into small pieces with the sharp sword, flung them into the
  tub of water, washed them, and rinsed them. Afterwards they
  began putting the pieces together; when the old man breathed
  on them the different pieces stuck together. When he had put
  all the pieces together properly, he gave them a final puff of
  breath: the Princess began to quiver, and then arose alive and
  well! The King came in person to the door of their room, and

  "In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy

  "Amen!" they replied.

  "Have you cured the Princess?" asked the King.

  "We've cured her," say the doctors. "Here she is!"

  Out went the Princess to the King, alive and well.

  Says the King to the doctors: "What sort of valuables will
  you have? would you like gold or silver? Take whatever you

  Well, they began taking gold and silver. The old man used
  only a thumb and two fingers, but the Pope seized whole handfuls,
  and kept on stowing them away in his wallet--shovelling
  them into it, and then lifting it a bit to see if he was strong
  enough to carry it.

  At last they took their leave of the King and went their way.
  The old man said to the Pope, "We'll bury this money in the
  ground, and go and make another cure." Well, they walked
  and walked, and at length they reached another country. In
  that country, also, the King had a daughter at the point of death,
  and he had given notice that whoever cured his daughter should
  have half of his kingdom and of his goods and possessions; but
  if he failed to cure her he should have his head chopped off and
  hung up on a stake.[457] Then the Evil One afflicted the envious
  Pope, suggesting to him "Why shouldn't he go and perform
  the cure by himself, without saying a word to the old man, and
  so lay hold of all the gold and silver for himself?" So the
  Pope walked about in front of the royal gates, forced himself on
  the notice of the people there, and gave out that he was a doctor.
  In the same way as before he asked the King for a private
  room, a tub of water, a large table, and a sharp sword. Shutting
  himself up in the private room, he laid the Princess on the table,
  and began chopping her up with the sharp sword; and however
  much the Princess might scream or squeal, the Pope, without
  paying any attention to either screaming or squealing, went on
  chopping and chopping just as if she had been so much beef.
  And when he had chopped her up into little pieces, he threw
  them into the tub, washed them, rinsed them, and then put
  them together bit by bit, exactly as the old man had done, expecting
  to see all the pieces unite with each other. He breathes
  on them--but nothing happens! He gives another puff--worse
  than ever! See, the Pope flings the pieces back again into the
  water, washes and washes, rinses and rinses, and again puts
  them together bit by bit. Again he breathes on them--but still
  nothing comes of it.

  "Woe is me," thinks the Pope; "here's a mess!"

  Next morning the King arrives and looks--the doctor has
  had no success at all--he's only messed the dead body all over
  with muck!

  The King ordered the doctor off to the gallows. Then our
  Pope besought him, crying--

  "O King! O free to do thy will! Spare me for a little
  time! I will run for the old man, he will cure the Princess."

  The Pope ran off in search of the old man. He found the
  old man, and cried:

  "Old man! I am guilty, wretch that I am! The Devil
  got hold of me. I wanted to cure the King's daughter all by
  myself, but I couldn't. Now they're going to hang me. Do
  help me!"

  The old man returned with the Pope.

  The Pope was taken to the gallows. Says the old man to
  the Pope:

  "Pope! who ate my loaves?"

  "Not I, on my word! So help me Heaven, not I!"

  The Pope was hoisted on to the second step. Says the old
  man to the Pope:

  "Pope! who ate my loaves?"

  "Not I, on my word! So help me Heaven, not I!"

  He mounted the third step--and again it was "Not I!"
  And now his head was actually in the noose--but it's "Not I!"
  all the same. Well, there was nothing to be done! Says the
  old man to the King:

  "O King! O free to do thy will! Permit me to cure the
  Princess. And if I do not cure her, order another noose to be
  got ready. A noose for me, and a noose for the Pope!"

  Well, the old man put the pieces of the Princess's body together,
  bit by bit, and breathed on them--and the Princess stood
  up alive and well. The King recompensed them both with
  silver and gold.

  "Let's go and divide the money, Pope," said the old man.

  So they went. They divided the money into three heaps.
  The Pope looked at them, and said:

  "How's this? There's only two of us. For whom is this
  third share?"

  "That," says the old man, "is for him who ate my loaves."

  "I ate them, old man," cries the Pope; "I did really, so
  help me Heaven!"

  "Then the money is yours," says the old man. "Take my
  share too. And now go and serve in your parish faithfully;
  don't be greedy, and don't go hitting Nicholas over the shoulders
  with the keys."

  Thus spake the old man, and straightway disappeared.

      [The principal motive of this story is, of course, the
      same as that of "The Smith and the Demon," in No. 13
      (see above, p. 70). A miraculous cure is effected by a
      supernatural being. A man attempts to do likewise, but
      fails. When about to undergo the penalty of his
      failure, he is saved by that being, who reads him a
      moral lesson. In the original form of the tale the
      supernatural agent was probably a demigod, whom a
      vague Christian influence has in one instance degraded
      into the Devil, in another, canonized as St. Nicholas.

      The Medea's cauldron episode occurs in very many
      folk-tales, such as the German "Bruder Lustig" (Grimm,
      No. 81) and "Das junge geglühte Männlein" (Grimm, No.
      147), in the latter of which our Lord, accompanied by
      St. Peter, spends a night in a Smith's house, and
      makes an old beggar-man young by first placing him in
      the fire, and then plunging him into water. After the
      departure of his visitors, the Smith tries a similar
      experiment on his mother-in-law, but quite
      unsuccessfully. In the corresponding Norse tale of
      "The Master-Smith," (Asbjörnsen and Moe, No. 21,
      Dasent, No. 16) an old beggar-woman is the victim of
      the Smith's unsuccessful experiment. In another Norse
      tale, that of "Peik" (Asbjörnsen's New Series, No.
      101, p. 219) a king is induced to kill his wife and
      his daughter in the mistaken belief that he will be
      able to restore them to life. In one of the stories of
      the "Dasakumáracharita," a king is persuaded to jump
      into a certain lake in the hope of obtaining a new and
      improved body. He is then killed by his insidious
      adviser, who usurps his throne, pretending to be the
      renovated monarch. In another story in the same
      collection a king believes that his wife will be able
      to confer on him by her magic skill "a most celestial
      figure," and under that impression confides to her all
      his secrets, after which she brings about his death.
      See Wilson's "Essays," ii. 217, &c., and 262, &c.
      Jacob's "Hindoo Tales," pp. 180, 315.]


_About Demons._

From the stories which have already been quoted some idea may be
gained of the part which evil spirits play in Russian popular fiction.
In one of them (No. 1) figures the ghoul which feeds on the dead, in
several (Nos. 37, 38, 45-48) we see the fiend-haunted corpse hungering
after human flesh and blood; the history of _The Bad Wife_ (No. 7)
proves how a demon may suffer at a woman's hands, that of _The Dead
Witch_ (No. 3) shows to what indignities the remains of a wicked woman
may be subjected by the fiends with whom she has chosen to associate.
In the _Awful Drunkard_ (No. 6), and the _Fiddler in Hell_ (No. 41),
the abode of evil spirits is portrayed, and some light is thrown on
their manners and customs; and in the _Smith and the Demon_ (No. 13),
the portrait of one of their number is drawn in no unkindly spirit.
The difference which exists between the sketches of fiends contained
in these stories is clearly marked, so much so that it would of itself
be sufficient to prove that there is no slight confusion of ideas in
the minds of the Russian peasants with regard to the demoniacal beings
whom they generally call _chorti_ or devils. Still more clearly is the
contrast between those ideas brought out by the other stories, many in
number, into which those powers of darkness enter. It is evident that
the traditions from which the popular conception of the ghostly enemy
has been evolved must have been of a complex and even conflicting

Of very heterogeneous elements must have been composed the form under
which the popular fancy, in Russia as well as in other lands, has
embodied the abstract idea of evil. The diabolical characters in the
Russian tales and legends are constantly changing the proportions of
their figures, the nature of their attributes. In one story they seem
to belong to the great and widely subdivided family of Indian demons;
in another they appear to be akin to certain fiends of Turanian
extraction; in a third they display features which may have been
inherited from the forgotten deities of old Slavonic mythology; in all
the stories which belong to the "legendary class" they bear manifest
signs of having been subjected to Christian influences, the effect of
which has been insufficient to do more than slightly to disguise their

The old gods of the Slavonians have passed away and left behind but
scanty traces of their existence; but still, in the traditions and
proverbial expressions of the peasants in various Slavonic lands,
there may be recognized some relics of the older faith. Among these
are a few referring to a White and to a Black God. Thus, among the
peasants of White Russia some vague memory still exists of a white or
bright being, now called Byelun,[458] who leads belated travellers out
of forests, and bestows gold on men who do him good service. "Dark is
it in the forest without Byelun" is one phrase; and another, spoken of
a man on whom fortune has smiled, is, "He must have made friends with
Byelun." On the other hand the memory of the black or evil god is
preserved in such imprecations as the Ukraine "May the black god smite
thee!"[459] To ancient pagan traditions, also, into which a Christian
element has entered, may be assigned the popular belief that infants
which have been cursed by their mothers before their birth, or which
are suffocated during their sleep, or which die from any causes
unchristened or christened by a drunken priest, become the prey of
demons. This idea has given rise in Russia, as well as elsewhere, to a
large group of stories. The Russian peasants believe, it is said, that
in order to rescue from the fiends the soul of a babe which has been
suffocated in its sleep, its mother must spend three nights in a
church, standing within a circle traced by the hand of a priest. When
the cocks crow on the third morning, the demons will give her back her
dead child.[460]

Great stress is laid in the skazkas and legends upon the terrible
power of a parent's curse. The "hasty word" of a father or a mother
will condemn even an innocent child to slavery among devils, and when
it has once been uttered, it is irrevocable. It might have been
supposed that the fearful efficacy of such an imprecation would have
silenced bad language, as that of the _Vril_ rendered war impossible
among the Vril-ya of "The Coming Race;" but that such was not the case
is proved by the number of narratives which turn on uncalled-for
parental cursing. Here is an abridgment of one of these stories.

There was an old man who lived near Lake Onega, and who supported
himself and his wife by hunting. One day when he was engaged in the
pursuit of game, a well-dressed man met him and said,

"Sell me that dog of yours, and come for your money to the Mian
mountain to-morrow evening."

The old man sold him the dog, and went next day to the top of the
mountain, where he found a great city inhabited by devils.[461] There
he soon found the house of his debtor, who provided him with a banquet
and a bath. And in the bath-room he was served by a young man who,
when the bath was over, fell at his feet, saying,

"Don't accept money for your dog, grandfather, but ask for me!"

The old man consented. "Give me that good youth," said he. "He shall
serve instead of a son to me."

There was no help for it; they had to give him the youth. And when the
old man had returned home, the youth told him to go to Novgorod, there
to enquire for a merchant, and ask him whether he had any children.

He did so, and the merchant replied,

"I had an only son, but his mother cursed him in a passion, crying,
'The devil take thee!'[462] And so the devil carried him off."

It turned out that the youth whom the old man had saved from the
devils was that merchant's son. Thereupon the merchant rejoiced
greatly, and took the old man and his wife to live with him in his

And here is another tale of the same kind, from the Vladimir

Once upon a time there was an old couple, and they had an only son.
His mother had cursed him before he was born, but he grew up and
married. Soon afterwards he suddenly disappeared. His parents did all
they could to trace him, but their attempts were in vain.

Now there was a hut in the forest not far off, and thither it chanced
that an old beggar came one night, and lay down to rest on the stove.
Before he had been there long, some one rode up to the door of the
hut, got off his horse, entered the hut, and remained there all night,
muttering incessantly:

"May the Lord judge my mother, in that she cursed me while a babe

Next morning the beggar went to the house of the old couple, and told
them all that had occurred. So towards evening the old man went to the
hut in the forest, and hid himself behind the stove. Presently the
horseman arrived, entered the hut, and began to repeat the words which
the beggar had overheard. The old man recognized his son, and came
forth to greet him, crying:

"O my dear son! at last I have found thee! never again will I let thee

"Follow me!" replied his son, who mounted his horse and rode away, his
father following him on foot. Presently they came to a river which was
frozen over, and in the ice was a hole.[464] And the youth rode
straight into that hole, and in it both he and his horse disappeared.
The old man lingered long beside the ice-hole, then he returned home
and said to his wife:

"I have found our son, but it will be hard to get him back. Why, he
lives in the water!"

Next night the youth's mother went to the hut, but she succeeded no
better than her husband had done.

So on the third night his young wife went to the hut and hid behind
the stove. And when she heard the horseman enter she sprang forth,

"My darling dear, my life-long spouse! now will I never part from

"Follow me!" replied her husband.

And when they came to the edge of the ice-hole--

"If thou goest into the water, then will I follow after thee!" cried

"If so, take off thy cross," he replied.

She took off her cross, leaped into the ice-hole--and found herself in
a vast hall. In it Satan[465] was seated. And when he saw her arrive,
he asked her husband whom he had brought with him.

"This is my wife," replied the youth.

"Well then, if she is thy wife, get thee gone hence with her! married
folks must not be sundered."[466]

So the wife rescued her husband, and brought him back from the devils
into the free light.[467]

Sometimes it is a victim's own imprudence, and not a parent's "hasty
word," which has placed him in the power of the Evil One. There is a
well-known story, which has spread far and wide over Europe, of a
soldier who abstains for a term of years from washing, shaving, and
hair-combing, and who serves, or at least obeys, the devil during that
time, at the end of which he is rewarded by the fiend with great
wealth. His appearance being against him, he has some difficulty in
finding a wife, rich as he is. But after the elder sisters of a family
have refused him, the youngest accepts him; whereupon he allows
himself to be cleansed, combed, and dressed in bright apparel, and
leads a cleanly and a happy life ever afterwards.[468]

In one of the German versions of this story, a king's elder daughter,
when asked to marry her rich but slovenly suitor, replies, "I would
sooner go into the deepest water than do that." In a Russian
version,[469] the unwashed soldier lends a large sum of money to an
impoverished monarch, who cannot pay his troops, and asks his royal
creditor to give him one of his daughters in marriage by way of
recompense. The king reflects. He is sorry for his daughters, but at
the same time he cannot do without the money. At last, he tells the
soldier to get his portrait painted, and promises to show it to the
princesses, and see if one of them will accept him. The soldier has
his likeness taken, "touch for touch, just exactly as he is," and the
king shows it to his daughters. The eldest princess sees that "the
picture is that of a monster, with dishevelled hair, and uncut nails,
and unwiped nose," and cries:

"I won't have him! I'd sooner have the devil!"

Now the devil "was standing behind her, pen and paper in hand. He
heard what she said, and booked her soul."

When the second princess is asked whether she will marry the soldier,
she exclaims:

"No indeed! I'd rather die an old maid, I'd sooner be linked with the
devil, than marry that man!"

When the devil heard that, "he booked her soul too."

But the youngest princess, the Cordelia of the family, when she is
asked whether she will marry the man who has helped her father in his
need, replies:

"It's fated I must, it seems! I'll marry him, and then--God's will be

While the preparations are being made for the marriage, the soldier
arrives at the end of his term of service to "the little devil" who
had hired him, and from whom he had received his wealth in return for
his abstinence and cleanliness. So he calls the "little devil," and
says, "Now turn me into a nice young man."

Accordingly "the little devil cut him up into small pieces, threw them
into a cauldron and set them on to boil. When they were done enough,
he took them out and put them together again properly--bone to bone,
joint to joint, vein to vein. Then he sprinkled them with the Waters
of Life and Death--and up jumped the soldier, a finer lad than stories
can describe, or pens portray!"

The story does not end here. When the "little devil" returns to the
lake from which he came, "the grandfather" of the demons asks him--

"How about the soldier?"

"He has served his time honestly and honorably," is the reply. "Never
once did he shave, have his hair cut, wipe his nose, or change his
clothes." The "grandfather" flies into a passion.

"What! in fifteen whole years you couldn't entrap a soldier! What, all
that money wasted for nothing! What sort of a devil do you call
yourself after that?"--and ordered him to be flung "into boiling

"Stop, grandfather!" replies his grandchild. "I've booked two souls
instead of the soldier's one."

"How's that?"

"Why, this way. The soldier wanted to marry one of three princesses,
but the elder one and the second one told their father that they'd
sooner marry the devil than the soldier. So you see both of them are

After he had heard this explanation, "the grandfather acknowledged
that the little devil was in the right, and ordered him to be set
free. The imp, you see, understood his business."

      [For two German versions of this story, see the tales
      of "Des Teufels russiger Bruder," and "Der
      Bärenhäuter" (Grimm, Nos. 100, 101, and Bd. iii. pp.
      181, 182). More than twelve centuries ago,
      Hiouen-Thsang transferred the following story from
      India to China. A certain Rishi passed many times ten
      thousand years in a religious ecstasy. His body became
      like a withered tree. At last he emerged from his
      ecstasy, and felt inclined to marry, so he went to a
      neighboring palace, and asked the king to bestow upon
      him one of his daughters. The king, exceedingly
      embarrassed, called the princesses together, and asked
      which of them would consent to accept the dreaded
      suitor (who, of course, had not paid the slightest
      attention to his toilette for hundreds of centuries).
      Ninety-nine of those ladies flatly refused to have
      anything to do with him, but the hundredth, the last
      and youngest of the party, agreed to sacrifice herself
      for her father's sake. But when the Rishi saw his
      bride he was discontented, and when he heard that her
      elder and fairer sisters had all refused him, he
      pronounced a curse which made all ninety-nine of them
      humpbacks, and so destroyed their chance of marrying
      at all. Stanislas Julien's "Mémoires sur les contrées
      occidentales," 1857, i. pp. 244-7.]

As the idea that "a hasty word" can place its utterer or its victim
in the power of the Evil One (not only after death, but also during
this life) has given rise to numerous Russian legends, and as it still
exists, to some extent, as a living faith in the minds of the Russian
peasantry, it may be as well to quote at length one of the stories in
which it is embodied. It will be recognized as a variant of the
stories about the youth who visits the "Water King" and elopes with
one of that monarch's daughters. The main difference between the
"legend" we are about to quote, and the skazkas which have already
been quoted, is that a devil of the Satanic type is substituted in it
for the mythical personage--whether Slavonic Neptune or Indian
Rákshasa--who played a similar part in them.


  In a certain village there lived an old couple in great poverty,
  and they had one son. The son grew up,[471] and the old woman
  began to say to the old man:

  "It's time for us to get our son married."

  "Well then, go and ask for a wife for him," said he.

  So she went to a neighbor to ask for his daughter for her
  son: the neighbor refused. She went to a second peasant's,
  but the second refused too--to a third, but he showed her the
  door. She went round the whole village; not a soul would
  grant her request. So she returned home and cried--

  "Well, old man! our lad's an unlucky fellow!"

  "How so?"

  "I've trudged round to every house, but no one will give
  him his daughter."

  "That's a bad business!" says the old man; "the summer
  will soon be coming, but we have no one to work for us here.
  Go to another village, old woman, perhaps you will get a bride
  for him there."

  The old woman went to another village, visited every house
  from one end to the other, but there wasn't an atom of good to
  be got out of it. Wherever she thrusts herself, they always
  refuse. With what she left home, with that she returned

  "No," she says, "no one wants to become related to us
  poor beggars."

  "If that's the case," answers the old man, "there's no use
  in wearing out your legs. Jump up on to the _polati_."[472]

  The son was sorely afflicted, and began to entreat his parents,

  "My born father and my born mother! give me your blessing.
  I will go and seek my fate myself."

  "But where will you go?"

  "Where my eyes lead me."

  So they gave him their blessing, and let him go whithersoever
  it pleased him.[473]

  Well, the youth went out upon the highway, began to weep
  very bitterly, and said to himself as he walked:

  "Was I born into the world worse than all other men, that
  not a single girl is willing to marry me? Methinks if the devil
  himself would give me a bride, I'd take even her!"

  Suddenly, as if rising from the earth, there appeared before
  him a very old man.

  "Good-day, good youth!"

  "Good-day, old man!"

  "What was that you were saying just now?"

  The youth was frightened and did not know what reply to

  "Don't be afraid of me! I sha'n't do you any harm, and
  moreover, perhaps I may get you out of your trouble. Speak

  The youth told him everything precisely.

  "Poor creature that I am! There isn't a single girl who
  will marry me. Well, as I went along I became exceedingly
  wretched, and in my misery I said: 'If the devil offered me a
  bride, I'd take even her!'"

  The old man laughed and said:

  "Follow me, I'll let you choose a lovely bride for yourself."

  By-and-by they reached a lake.

  "Turn your back to the lake and walk backwards," said the
  old man. Scarcely had the youth had time to turn round and
  take a couple of steps, when he found himself under the water
  and in a white-stone palace--all its rooms splendidly furnished,
  cunningly decorated. The old man gave him to eat and to
  drink. Afterwards he introduced twelve maidens, each one
  more beautiful than the other.

  "Choose whichever you like! whichever you choose, her
  will I bestow upon you."

  "That's a puzzling job!" said the youth; "give me till to-morrow
  morning to think about it, grandfather!"

  "Well, think away!" said the old man, and led his guest to
  a private chamber. The youth lay down to sleep and thought:

  "Which one shall I choose?"

  Suddenly the door opened; a beautiful maiden entered.

  "Are you asleep, or not, good youth?" says she.

  "No, fair maiden! I can't get to sleep, for I'm always thinking
  which bride to choose."

  "That's the very reason I have come to give you counsel.
  You see, good youth, you've managed to become the devil's
  guest. Now listen. If you want to go on living in the white
  world, then do what I tell you. But if you don't follow my
  instructions, you'll never get out of here alive!"

  "Tell me what to do, fair maiden. I won't forget it all
  my life."

  "To-morrow the fiend will bring you twelve maidens, each one
  exactly like the others. But you take a good look and choose
  me. A fly will be sitting above my right eye--that will be a
  certain guide for you." And then the fair maiden proceeded to
  tell him about herself, who she was.

  "Do you know the priest of such and such a village?" she
  says. "I'm his daughter, the one who disappeared from home
  when nine years old. One day my father was angry with me,
  and in his wrath he said, 'May devils fly away with you!' I
  went out on the steps and began to cry. All of a sudden the
  fiends seized me and brought me here; and here I am living
  with them!"

  Next morning the old man brought in the twelve fair
  maidens--one just like another--and ordered the youth to
  choose his bride. He looked at them and took her above whose
  right eye sat a fly. The old man was loth to give her up, so he
  shifted the maidens about, and told him to make a fresh choice.
  The youth pointed out the same one as before. The fiend
  obliged him to choose yet a third time. He again guessed
  his bride aright.

  "Well, you're in luck! take her home with you," said the

  Immediately the youth and the fair maiden found themselves
  on the shore of the lake, and until they reached the high road
  they kept on walking backwards. Presently the devils came
  rushing after them in hot pursuit:

  "Let us recover our maiden!" they cry.

  They look: there are no footsteps going away from the
  lake; all the footsteps lead into the water! They ran to and
  fro, they searched everywhere, but they had to go back empty

  Well, the good youth brought his bride to her village, and
  stopped opposite the priest's house. The priest saw him and
  sent out his laborer, saying:

  "Go and ask who those people are."

  "We? we're travellers; please let us spend the night in
  your house," they replied.

  "I have merchants paying me a visit," says the priest,
  "and even without them there's but little room in the house."

  "What are you thinking of, father?" says one of the
  merchants. "It's always one's duty to accommodate a traveller,
  they won't interfere with us."

  "Very well, let them come in."

  So they came in, exchanged greetings, and sat down on a
  bench in the back corner.

  "Don't you know me, father?" presently asks the fair
  maiden. "Of a surety I am your own daughter."

  Then she told him everything that had happened. They
  began to kiss and embrace each other, to pour forth tears of

  "And who is this man?" says the priest.

  "That is my betrothed. He brought me back into the white
  world; if it hadn't been for him I should have remained down
  there for ever!"

  After this the fair maiden untied her bundle, and in it were
  gold and silver dishes: she had carried them off from the devils.
  The merchant looked at them and said:

  "Ah! those are my dishes. One day I was feasting with my
  guests, and when I got drunk I became angry with my wife. 'To
  the devil with you!' I exclaimed, and began flinging from the
  table, and beyond the threshold, whatever I could lay my hands
  upon. At that moment my dishes disappeared!"

  And in reality so had it happened. When the merchant
  mentioned the devil's name, the fiend immediately appeared at
  the threshold, began seizing the gold and silver wares, and
  flinging in their place bits of pottery.

  Well, by this accident the youth got himself a capital bride.
  And after he had married her he went back to his parents.
  They had long ago counted him as lost to them for ever.
  And indeed it was no subject for jesting; he had been away
  from home three whole years, and yet it seemed to him that
  he had not in all spent more than twenty-four hours with the

      [A quaint version of the legend on which this story is
      founded is given by Gervase of Tilbury in his "Otia
      Imperialia," whence the story passed into the "Gesta
      Romanorum" (cap. clxii.) and spread widely over
      mediæval Europe. A certain Catalonian was so much
      annoyed one day "by the continued and inappeasable
      crying of his little daughter, that he commended her
      to the demons." Whereupon she was immediately carried
      off. Seven years after this, he learnt (from a man
      placed by a similar imprecation in the power of the
      demons, who used him as a vehicle) that his daughter
      was in the interior of a neighboring mountain, and
      might be recovered if he would demand her. So he
      ascended to the summit of the mountain, and there
      claimed his child. She straightway appeared in
      miserable plight, "arida, tetra, oculis vagis, ossibus
      et nervis et pellibus vix hærentibus," etc. By the
      judicious care, however, of her now cautious parent
      she was restored to physical and moral respectability.
      For some valuable observations on this story see
      Liebrecht's edition of the "Otia Imperialia," pp.
      137-9. In the German story of "Die sieben Raben"
      (Grimm, No. 25) a father's "hasty word" turns his six
      sons into ravens.]

When devils are introduced into a story of this class, it always
assumes a grotesque, if not an absolutely comic air. The evil spirits
are almost always duped and defeated, and that result is generally due
to their remarkable want of intelligence. For they display in their
dealings with their human antagonists a deficiency of intellectual
power which almost amounts to imbecility. The explanation of this
appears to be that the devils of European folk-lore have nothing in
common with the rebellious angels of Miltonic theology beyond their
vague denomination; nor can any but a nominal resemblance be traced
between their chiefs or "grandfathers" and the thunder-smitten but
still majestic "Lucifer, Son of the Morning." The demon rabble of
"Popular Tales" are merely the lubber fiends of heathen mythology,
beings endowed with supernatural might, but scantily provided with
mental power; all of terrific manual clutch, but of weak intellectual
grasp. And so the hardy mortal who measures his powers against theirs,
even in those cases in which his strength has not been intensified by
miraculous agencies, easily overcomes or deludes the slow-witted
monsters with whom he strives--whether his antagonist be a Celtic or
Teutonic Giant, or a French Ogre, or a Norse Troll, or a Greek Drakos
or Lamia, or a Lithuanian Laume, or a Russian Snake or Koshchei or
Baba Yaga, or an Indian Rákshasa or Pisácha, or any other member of
the many species of fiends for which, in Christian parlance, the
generic name is that of "devils."

There is no great richness of invention manifested in the stories
which deal with the outwitting of evil spirits. The same devices are
in almost all cases resorted to, and their effect is invariable. The
leading characters undergo certain transmutations as the scene of the
story is shifted, but their mutual relations remain constant. Thus, in
a German story[474] we find a schoolmaster deceiving the devil; in one
of its Slavonic counterparts[475] a gypsy deludes a snake; in another,
current among the Baltic Kashoubes, in place of the snake figures a
giant so huge that the thumb of his glove serves as a shelter for the
hero of the tale--one which is closely connected with that which tells
of Thor and the giant Skrymir.

The Russian stories in which devils are tricked by mortals closely
resemble, for the most part, those which are current in so many parts
of Europe. The hero of the tale squeezes whey out of a piece of cheese
or curd which he passes off as a stone; he induces the fleet demon to
compete with his "Hop o' my Thumb" the hare; he sets the strong demon
to wrestle with his "greybeard" the bear; he frightens the
"grandfather" of the fiends by proposing to fling that potentate's
magic staff so high in the air that it will never come down; and he
persuades his diabolical opponents to keep pouring gold into a
perforated hat or sack. Sometimes, however, a less familiar incident
occurs. Thus in a story from the Tambof Government, Zachary the
Unlucky is sent by the tailor, his master, to fetch a fiddle from a
wolf-fiend. The demon agrees to let him have it on condition that he
spends three years in continually weaving nets without ever going to
sleep. Zachary sets to work, but at the end of a month he grows
drowsy. The wolf asks if he is asleep. "No, I'm not asleep," he
replies; "but I'm thinking which fish there are most of in the
river--big ones or little ones." The wolf offers to go and enquire,
and spends three or four months in solving the problem. Meanwhile
Zachary sleeps, taking care, however, to be up and at work when the
wolf returns to say that the big fishes are in the majority.

Time passes, and again Zachary begins to nod. The wolf enquires if he
has gone to sleep, but is told that he is awake, but engrossed by the
question as to "which folks are there most of in the world--the living
or the dead." The wolf goes out to count them, and Zachary sleeps in
comfort, till just before it comes back to say that the living are
more numerous than the dead. By the time the wolf-fiend has made a
third journey in order to settle a doubt which Zachary describes as
weighing on his mind--as to the numerical relation of the large beasts
to the small--the three years have passed away. So the wolf-fiend is
obliged to part with his fiddle, and Zachary carries it back to the
tailor in triumph.[476]

The demons not unfrequently show themselves capable of being actuated
by gratitude. Thus, as we have already seen, the story of the Awful
Drunkard[477] represents the devil himself as being grateful to a man
who has rebuked an irascible old woman for unjustly blaming the Prince
of Darkness. In a skazka from the Orenburg Government, a lad named
Vanka [Jack] is set to watch his father's turnip-field by night.
Presently comes a boy who fills two huge sacks with turnips, and
vainly tries to carry them off. While he is tugging away at them he
catches sight of Vanka, and immediately asks him to help him home with
his load. Vanka consents, and carries the turnips to a cottage,
wherein is seated "an old greybeard with horns on his head," who
receives him kindly and offers him a quantity of gold as a recompense
for his trouble. But, acting on the instructions he has received from
the boy, Vanka will take nothing but the greybeard's lute, the sounds
of which exercise a magic power over all living creatures.[478]

One of the most interesting of the stories of this class is that of
the man who unwittingly blesses the devil. As a specimen of its
numerous variants we may take the opening of a skazka respecting the
origin of brandy.

"There was a moujik who had a wife and seven children, and one day he
got ready to go afield, to plough. When his horse was harnessed, and
everything ready, he ran indoors to get some bread; but when he got
there, and looked in the cupboard, there was nothing there but a
single crust. This he carried off bodily and drove away.

"He reached his field and began ploughing. When he had ploughed up
half of it, he unharnessed his horse and turned it out to graze. After
that he was just going to eat the bread, when he said to himself,

"'Why didn't I leave this crust for my children?'

"So after thinking about it for awhile, he set it aside.

"Presently a little demon came sidling up and carried off the bread.
The moujik returned and looked about everywhere, but no bread was to
be seen. However, all he said was, 'God be with him who took it!'

"The little demon[479] ran off to the devil,[480] and cried:

"'Grandfather! I've stolen Uncle Sidor's[481] bread!'

"'Well, what did he say?'

"'He said, "God be with him!"'

"'Be off with you!' says the devil. 'Hire yourself to him for three

"So the little demon ran back to the moujik."

The rest of the story tells how the imp taught Isidore to make
corn-brandy, and worked for him a long time faithfully. But at last
one day Isidore drank so much brandy that he fell into a drunken
sleep. From this he was roused by the imp, whereupon he exclaimed in a
rage, "Go to the Devil!" and straightway the "little demon"

In another version of the story,[483] when the peasant finds that his
crust has disappeared, he exclaims--

"Here's a wonder! I've seen nobody, and yet somebody has carried off
my crust! Well, here's good luck to him![484] I daresay I shall starve
to death."

When Satan heard what had taken place, he ordered that the peasant's
crust should be restored. So the demon who had stolen it "turned
himself into a good youth," and became the peasant's hireling. When a
drought was impending, he scattered the peasant's seed-corn over a
swamp; when a wet season was at hand, he sowed the slopes of the
hills. In each instance his forethought enabled his master to fill his
barns while the other peasants lost their crops.

      [A Moravian version of this tale will be found in "Der
      schwarze Knirps" (Wenzig, No. 15, p. 67). In another
      Moravian story in the same collection (No. 8) entitled
      "Der böse Geist im Dienste," an evil spirit steals the
      food which a man had left outside his house for poor
      passers by. When the demon returns to hell he finds
      its gates closed, and he is informed by "the oldest of
      the devils," that he must expiate his crime by a three
      years' service on earth.

      A striking parallel to the Russian and the former of
      the Moravian stories is offered by "a legend of
      serpent worship," from Bhaunagar in Káthiáwád. A
      certain king had seven wives, one of whom was badly
      treated. Feeling hungry one day, she scraped out of
      the pots which had been given her to wash some remains
      of rice boiled in milk, set the food on one side, and
      then went to bathe. During her absence a female Nága
      (or supernatural snake-being) ate up the rice, and
      then "entering her hole, sat there, resolved to bite
      the woman if she should curse her, but not otherwise."
      When the woman returned, and found her meal had been
      stolen, she did not lose her temper, but only said,
      "May the stomach of the eater be cooled!" When the
      Nága heard this, she emerged from her hole and said,
      "Well done! I now regard you as my daughter," etc.
      (From the "Indian Antiquary," Bombay, No. 1, 1872, pp.
      6, 7.)]

Sometimes the demon of the _legenda_ bears a close resemblance to the
snake of the _skazka_. Thus, an evil spirit is described as coming
every night at twelve o'clock to the chamber of a certain princess,
and giving her no rest till the dawn of day. A soldier--the fairy
prince in a lower form--comes to her rescue, and awaits the arrival of
the fiend in her room, which he has had brilliantly lighted. Exactly
at midnight up flies the evil spirit, assumes the form of a man, and
tries to enter the room. But he is stopped by the soldier, who
persuades him to play cards with him for fillips, tricks him in
various ways, and fillips him to such effect with a species of
"three-man beetle," that the demon beats a hasty retreat.

The next night Satan sends another devil to the palace. The result is
the same as before, and the process is repeated every night for a
whole month. At the end of that time "Grandfather Satan" himself
confronts the soldier, but he receives so tremendous a beating that he
flies back howling "to his swamp." After a time, the soldier induces
the whole of the fiendish party to enter his knapsack, prevents them
from getting out again by signing it with a cross, and then has it
thumped on an anvil to his heart's content. Afterwards he carries it
about on his back, the fiends remaining under it all the while. But at
last some women open it, during his absence from a cottage in which he
has left it, and out rush the fiends with a crash and a roar. Meeting
the soldier on his way back to the cottage, they are so frightened
that they fling themselves into the pool below a mill-wheel; and
there, the story declares, they still remain.[485]

This "legend" is evidently nothing more than an adaptation of one of
the tales about the dull demons of olden times, whom the Christian
story-teller has transformed into Satan and his subject fiends.

By way of a conclusion to this chapter--which might be expanded
indefinitely, so numerous are the stories of the class of which it
treats--we will take the moral tale of "The Gossip's Bedstead."[486] A
certain peasant, it relates, was so poor that, in order to save
himself from starvation, he took to sorcery. After a time he became an
adept in the black art, and contracted an intimate acquaintance with
the fiendish races. When his son had reached man's estate, the peasant
saw it was necessary to find him a bride, so he set out to seek one
among "his friends the devils." On arriving in their realm he soon
found what he wanted, in the person of a girl who had drunk herself to
death, and who, in common with other women who had died of drink, was
employed by the devils as a water carrier. Her employers at once
agreed to give her in marriage to the son of their friend, and a
wedding feast was instantly prepared. While the consequent revelry was
in progress, Satan offered to present to the bridegroom a receipt
which a father had given to the devils when he sold them his son. But
when the receipt was sought for--the production of which would have
enabled the bridegroom to claim the youth in question as his slave--it
could not be found; a certain devil had carried it off, and refused to
say where he had hidden it. In vain did his master cause him to be
beaten with iron clubs, he remained obstinately mute. At length Satan

"Stretch him on the Gossip's Bedstead!"

As soon as the refractory devil heard these words, he was so
frightened that he surrendered the receipt, which was handed over to
the visitor. Astonished at the result, the peasant enquired what sort
of bedstead that was which had been mentioned with so much effect.

"Well, I'll tell you, but don't you tell anyone else," replied Satan,
after hesitating for a time. "That bedstead is made for us devils, and
for our relations, connexions, and gossips. It is all on fire, and it
runs on wheels, and turns round and round."

When the peasant heard this, fear came upon him, and he jumped up from
his seat and fled away as fast as he could.

       *       *       *       *       *

At this point, though much still remains to be said, I will for the
present bring my remarks to a close. Incomplete as is the account I
have given of the Skazkas, it may yet, I trust, be of use to students
who wish to compare as many types as possible of the Popular Tale. I
shall be glad if it proves of service to them. I shall be still more
glad if I succeed in interesting the general reader in the tales of
the Russian People, and through them, in the lives of those Russian
men and women of low degree who are wont to tell them, those Russian
children who love to hear them.


[424] Afanasief, _Legendui_, p. 6.

[425] These two stories are quoted by Buslaef, in a valuable essay on
"The Russian Popular Epos." "Ist. Och." i. 438. Another tradition
states that the dog was originally "naked," _i.e._, without hair; but
the devil, in order to seduce it from its loyalty, gave it a _shuba_,
or pelisse, _i.e._, a coat of hair.

[426] Buslaef, "Ist. Och," i. 147, where the Teutonic equivalents are

[427] Tereshchenko, v. 48. For a German version of the story, see the
_KM._, No. 124, "Die Kornähre."

[428] Afanasief, _P.V.S._ i. 482.

[429] Afanasief, _Legendui_, p. 19.

[430] Tereshchenko, v. p. 45. Some of these legends have been
translated by O. von. Reinsberg-Düringsfeld in the "Ausland," Dec. 9,

[431] According to a Bohemian legend the Devil created the mouse, that
it might destroy "God's corn," whereupon the Lord created the cat.

[432] _Pit'_, = to drink.

[433] Tereshchenko, v. 47.

[434] Afanasief, _Legendui_, p. 13.

[435] Afanasief, _Legendui_, No. 3. From the Voroneje Government.

[436] Afanasief, _Legendui_, No. 8.

[437] Who thus becomes his "brother of the cross." This
cross-brothership is considered a close spiritual affinity.

[438] Afanasief, in his notes to this story, gives several of its
variants. The rewards and punishments awarded in a future life form
the theme of a great number of moral parables, apparently of Oriental
extraction. For an interesting parallel from the Neilgherry Hills, see
Gover's "Folk-Songs of Southern India," pp. 81-7.

[439] Afanasief, _Legendui_, No. 7.

[440] The icona, ἐικών or holy picture.

[441] For some account of Perun--the Lithuanian Perkunas--whose name
and attributes appear to be closely connected with those of the Indian
Parjanya, see the "Songs of the Russian Nation," pp. 86-102.

[442] A Servian song, for instance, quoted by Buslaef ("Ist. Och." i.
361) states that "The Thunder" (_i.e._, the Thunder-God or Perun)
"began to divide gifts. To God (_Bogu_) it gave the heavenly heights;
to St. Peter the summer" (_Petrovskie_ so called after the Saint)
"heats; to St. John, the ice and snow; to Nicholas, power over the
waters, and to Ilya the lightning and the thunderbolt."

[443] Afanasief, _Legendui_, pp. 137-40, _P.V.S._, i. 469-83. Cf.
Grimm's "Deutsche Mythologie," pp. 157-59.

[444] Afanasief, _Legendui_, No. 10. From the Yaroslaf Government.

[445] _Il'inskomu bat'kye_--to the Elijah father.

[446] Strictly speaking, a _chetverìk_ = 5.775 gallons.

[447] Afanasief, _P.V.S._, iii. 455.

[448] Called _Lisun_, _Lisovik_, _Polisun_, &c. He answers to the
_Lyeshy_ or wood-demon (_lyes_ = a forest) mentioned above, p. 212.

[449] Afanasief, _P.V.S._ i. 711.

[450] Afanasief, _Legendui_, No. 12.

[451] Quoted by Buslaef, "Ist. Och." i. 389. Troyan is also the name
of a mythical king who often figures in Slavonic legends.

[452] Afanasief, _Legendui_, No. 11. From the Orel district.

[453] Afanasief, _Legendui_, pp. 141-5. With this story may be
compared that of "The Cross-Surety." See above, p. 40.

[454] Afanasief, _Legendui_, No. 5. From the Archangel Government.

[455] _Popovskie_, from _pop_, the vulgar name for a priest, the Greek

[456] The _prosvirka_, or _prosfora_, is a small loaf, made of fine
wheat flour. It is used for the communion service, but before
consecration it is freely sold and purchased.

[457] A few lines are here omitted as being superfluous. In the
original the second princess is cured exactly as the first had been.
The doctors then proceed to a third country, where they find precisely
the same position of affairs.

[458] _Byely_ = white. See the "Songs of the Russian People," p. 103,
the "Deutsche Mythologie," p. 203.

[459] _Shchob tebe chorny bog ubif!_ Afanasief, _P.V.S._, i. 93, 94.

[460] Afanasief, _P.V.S._ iii. 314, 315.

[461] _Lemboï_, perhaps a Samoyed word.

[462] _Lemboi te (tebya) voz'mi!_

[463] Afanasief, _P.V.S._ iii. pp. 314, 315.

[464] _Prolub'_ (for _prorub'_), a hole cut in the ice, and kept open,
for the purpose of getting at the water.

[465] _Satana._

[466] The word by which the husband here designates his wife is
_zakon_, which properly signifies (1) law, (2) marriage. Here it
stands for "spouse." Satan replies, "If this be thy _zakon_, go hence
therewith! to sever a _zakon_ is impossible."

[467] Abridged from Afanasief, _P.V.S._ iii. 315, 316.

[468] See the notes in Grimm's _KM._ Bd. iii. to stories 100 and 101.

[469] Afanasief, v. No. 26.

[470] Afanasief, v. No. 48.

[471] "Entered upon his matured years," from 17 to 21.

[472] The sleeping-place.

[473] Literally, "to all the four sides."

[474] Haltrich, No. 27.

[475] Afanasief, v. No. 25.

[476] Khudyakof, No. 114.

[477] Chap. i. p. 46.

[478] Afanasief, vii., No. 14.

[479] _Byesenok_, diminutive of _Byes_.

[480] _Chort._

[481] Isidore.

[482] Erlenvein, No. 33. From the Tula Government.

[483] Quoted from Borichefsky, by Afanasief, _Legendui_, p. 182.

[484] _Emy na zdorovie!_ "Good health to him!"

[485] Afanasief, v. No. 43.

[486] Afanasief, _Legendui_, No. 27. From the Saratof Government. This
story is merely one of the numerous Slavonic variants of a tale
familiar to many lands.


Ad, or Hades, 303

Anepou and Satou, story of, 122

Andrew, St., legend about, 348

Arimaspians, 190

Awful Drunkard, story of the, 46

Baba Yaga, her name and nature, 146;
  stories about, 103-107, 148-166, 254-256

Back, cutting strips from, 155

Bad Wife, story of the, 52

Beanstalk stories, 35, 296

Beer and Corn, legend of, 339

Birds, legends about, 335

Blind Man and Cripple, story of the, 246

Bluebeard's Chamber, 109

Brandy, legend about origin of, 378

Bridge-building incident, 306

Brothers, enmity between, 93

Brushes, magic, 151

Cat, Whittington's, 56

Chort, or devil, 35

Christ's Brother, legend of, 338

Chudo Morskoe, or water monster, 143

Chudo Yudo, a many-headed monster, 83

Clergy: their bad reputation in folk-tales, 40

Coffin Lid, story of the, 314

Combs, magic, 151

Creation of Man, legends about, 330

Cross Surety, story of the, 40

Curses, legends about, 363

Days of the Week, legends about, 206-212

Dead Mother, story of the, 32

Demons: part played in the Skazkas by, 361;
  souls of babes stolen by, 363;
  legends about children devoted to, 364;
  about persons who give themselves to, 367;
  dulness of, 375;
  tricks played upon, 375;
  gratitude of, 377;
  resemblance of to snakes, 380

Devil, legends about, 330, 331, 333

Dnieper, Volga, and Dvina, story of the, 217

Dog, legends about, 330-332

Dog and Corpse, story of the, 317

Dolls, or puppets, magic, 167-169

Don and Shat, story of the rivers, 215

Drink, Russian peasant's love of, 42;
  stories about, 48

Durak, or Ninny, stories about, 23, 62

Eggs, lives of mythical beings connected with, 119-124

Elijah, traditions about, 341-343

Elijah and Nicholas, legend of, 344

Emilian the Fool, story of, 269

Evil, personified, 186

Fiddler in Hell, story of the, 303

Fiend, story of the, 24

Fool and Birch-tree, story of the, 62

Fools, stories about, 62

Fortune, stories about, 203

Fox-Physician, story of the, 296

Fox-Wailer, story of the, 35

Friday, legend of, 207

Frost, story of, 221

George, St., legends about, 348;
  the Wolves and, 349;
  the Gypsy and, 350;
  the people of Troyan and, 351

Ghost stories, 295-328

Gold-Men, 231

Golden Bird, the _Zhar-Ptitsa_ or, 291

Golovikha, or Mayoress, story of the, 55

Goré, or Woe, story of, 192

Gossip's Bedstead, story of the, 381

Gravestone, story of the Ride on the, 308

Greece, Vampires in, 323

Gypsy, story of St. George and the, 350

Hades, 303

Hasty Word, story of the, 370

Head, story of the trunkless, 230

Headless Princess, story of the, 276

Heaven-tree Myth, 298

Helena the Fair, story of, 262

Hell, story of the Fiddler in, 303

Hills, legend of creation of, 333

Ivan Popyalof, story of, 79

Katoma, story of, 246

Koshchei the Deathless, stories of, 96-115

Kruchìna, or Grief, 201

Kuzma and Demian, the holy Smiths, 82

Lame and Blind Heroes, story of the, 246

Laments for the dead, 36

Leap, bride won by a, 266-269

Legends, 329-382

Léshy, or Wood-demon, story of the, 213

Life, Water of, 237

Likho the One-Eyed, story of, 186

Luck, stories about, 203-206

Marya Morevna, story of, 97

Medea's Cauldron incident, 359, 368

Miser, story of the, 60

Mizgir, or Spider, story of the, 68

Morfei the Cook, story of, 234

Mouse, legends about the, 334

Mythology, &c. Personifications of Good and Evil, 77;
  the Snake, 78;
  Daylight eclipsed by a Snake, 81;
  the Chudo-Yudo, 83;
  the Norka-Beast, 86;
  the Usuinya-Bird, 95;
  Koshchei the Deathless, 96-116;
  the Bluebeard's Chamber myth, 109;
  stories about external hearts and fatal eggs, &c., 119-124;
  the Water Snake, 129;
  the Tsar Morskoi or Water King, 130-141;
  the King Bear, 142;
  the Water-Chudo, 143;
  the Idol, 144;
  Female embodiments of Evil, 146;
  the Baba Yaga, 146-166;
  magic dolls or puppets, 167;
  the story of Verlioka, 170;
  the Supernatural Witch, 170-183;
  The Sun's Sister and the Dawn, 178-185;
  Likho or Evil, 186-187;
  Polyphemus and the Arimaspians, 190;
  Goré or Woe, 192;
  Nuzhda or Need, 199;
  Kruchìna or Grief, 201;
  Zluidni, 201;
  stories about Luck, 203-206;
  Friday, 206;
  Wednesday, 208;
  Sunday, 211;
  the Léshy or Woodsprite, 213;
  stories about Rivers, 215-221;
  about Frost, 221;
  about the Whirlwind, 232;
  Morfei, 234;
  Oh! the, 235;
  Waters of Life and Death, 237-242;
  Symplêgades, 242;
  Waters of Strength and Weakness, 243-245;
  Magic Horses, 249, 264;
  a Magic Pike, 269-273;
  Witchcraft stories, 273-295;
  the Zhar-Ptitsa or Glow-Bird, 289-292;
  upper-world ideas, 296;
  the heaven-tree myth, 296-302;
  lower-world ideas, 303;
  Ghost-stories, 308;
  stories about Vampires, 313-322;
  home and origin of Vampirism, 323-328;
  legends about Saints, the Devil, &c., 329;
  Perun, the thunder-god, 341;
  superstitions about lightning, 343;
  legends about St. George and the Wolves, 349;
  old Slavonian gods changed into demons, 362;
  power attributed to curses, 364;
  dulness of demons, 375;
  their resemblance to snakes, 380

National character, how far illustrated by popular tales, 18

Need, story of Nuzhda or, 199

Nicholas, St., legends about, 343;
  his kindness, 352-354;
  story of the Priest of, 355

Nicholas, St., and Elijah, story of, 343

Norka, story of the, 86

Oh! demon named, 235

One-Eyed Likho, story of, 186

One-Eyes, Ukraine legend of, 190

Peewit, legend about the 335

Perun, the thunder-god, 341

Pike, story of a magic, 269

Polyphemus, 190

Poor Widow, story of the, 336

Popes, Russian Priests called, 36

Popular Tales, their meaning &c., 16-18;
  human and supernatural agents in, 75-78

Popyalof, story of Ivan, 79

Priest with the Greedy Eyes, story of the, 355

Princess Helena the Fair, story of the, 262

Purchased Wife, story of the, 44

Ride on the Gravestone, story of the, 308

Rip van Winkle story, 310

Rivers, legends about, 215-221

Russian children, appearance of, 157

Russian Peasants;
  their dramatic talent, 19;
  pictures of their life contained in folk-tales, 21;
  a village soirée, 24;
  a courtship, 31;
  a death, 32;
  preparations for a funeral, 33;
  wailing over the dead, 35;
  a burial, 36;
  religious feeling of, 40;
  passion for drink, 42;
  humor, 48;
  their jokes against women, 49;
  their dislike of avarice, 59;
  their jokes about simpletons, 62

Rye, legends about, 332

Saints, legends about, 341;
  Ilya or Elijah, 341-343;
  story of Elijah and Nicholas, 344;
  St. Andrew, 348;
  St. George, 348-352;
  St. Nicholas, 352-354;
  St. Kasian, 352

Scissors story, 49

Semilétka, story of, 44

Shroud, story of the, 311

Skazkas or Russian folk-tales,
  their value as pictures of Russian life, 19-23;
  occurrence of word _skazka_ in, 23;
  their openings, 62;
  their endings, 83

Smith and the Demon, story of the, 70

Snake, the mythical, his appearance, 78;
  story of Ivan Popyalof, 79;
  story of the Water Snake, 126;
  Snake Husbands, 129;
  legend about the Common Snake, 334;
  likeness between Snakes and Demons, 380

Soldier and Demon, story of, 380

Soldier and the Devil, legend about, 366

Soldier and the Vampire, story of the, 318

Soldier's Midnight Watch, story of the, 279

Sozh and Dnieper, story of, 216

Sparrow, legends about the, 335

Spasibo or Thank You, 202

Spider, story of the, 68

Stakes driven through Vampires, 326-328

Stepmothers, character of, 94

Strength and Weakness, Waters of, 243

Suicides and Vampires, 327

Sunday, tales about, 211

Sun's Sister, 178-182

Swallow, legends about the, 335

Swan Maidens, 129

Symplêgades, 242

Terema or Upper Chambers, 182

Three Copecks, story of the, 56

Treasure, story of the, 36

Troyan, City of, legend about, 351

Two Corpses, story of the, 316

Two Friends, story of the, 309

Ujak or Snake, 126

Unwashed, story of the, 366

Usuinya-Bird, 95

Vampires, stories about, 313-322;
  account of the belief in, 322-328

Vasilissa the Fair, story of, 158

Vazuza and Volga, story of, 215

Vechernitsa or Village Soirée, 24

Verlioka, story of, 170

Vieszcy, the Kashoube Vampire, 325

Vikhor or the Whirlwind, story of, 232-244

Volga, story of Vazuza and, 215;
  of Dnieper and Dvina and, 217

Vy, the Servian, 84

Warlock, story of the, 292

Water King and Vasilissa the Wise, story of the, 130

Water Snake, story of the, 126

Waters of Life and Death, 237-242

Waters of Strength and Weakness, 243

Wednesday, legend of, 208

Week, Days of the, 206-21

Whirlwind, story of the, 232

Whittington's Cat, 56-58

Wife, story of the Bad, 49;
  about a Good, 56

Wife-Gaining Leap, stories of a, 266-269

Witch, story of the, 171

Witch, story of the Dead, 34

Witch and Sun's Sister, story of the, 178

Witch Girl, story of the, 274

Witchcraft, 170-183, 273-295

Woe, story of, 193

Wolf-fiend, story of a, 376

Wolves, traditions about, 349

Women, jokes about, 49-56

Yaga Baba. _See_ Baba Yaga

Youth, Fountain of, 72

Zhar-Ptitsa or Glow Bird, 289-292

Zluidni, malevolent beings called, 201

Transcriber's Note:

This book was originally typeset using three different font sizes:
largest for the main body of the text, smaller for the text of the
tales, and smallest for the square bracketed author notes. As font
size cannot be varied in this version of the e-text, the effect has
been reproduced here using indentation: no indentation for the main
body of the text, small indentation for the tales, and larger
indentation for the square bracketed author notes.

The frontispiece illustration has been moved to follow the title page.

There were a very large number of typographic errors in the source
edition of this text. Minor punctuation errors (omitted or incorrect
punctuation, mismatched quote marks etc.) have been amended without
note. Regularly used abbreviations (for example, "Grimm, KM." or
"P.V.S.") have been made consistent throughout, without note. Use of
accents have been made consistent throughout without note. Hyphenation
has been made consistent throughout, without note.

The author uses some alternative spellings--for example, "arn't"
rather than "aren't", "dulness" rather than "dullness", both "shan't"
and "sha'n't"--which have been left unchanged. There are also some
unusual grammatical structures in places, which probably result from
the author's intention to render the translations as literally as
possible. These have also been left unchanged.

The remaining amendments are listed below. All were checked against a
later edition of the book that had been retypeset, and references to
other works were additionally checked against online library
catalogues. In the case of proper names, the amendments were based on
other available occurrences of the name in the text.

  Page 9--Khudyayof amended to Khudyakof--"KHUDYAKOF (I.A.). ..."

  Page 9, footnote [7]--1 amended to i--"... Afanasief," i. No. 2,

  Page 10--Karadjich amended to Karajich--"The name "Karajich" refers to
  the ..."

  Page 10--Tale amended to Tales--"... the "Popular Tales of the West
  Highlands," 4 vols. ..."

  Page 14--page reference for The Shroud amended from 351 to 311.

  Page 14--page reference for The Dog and the Corpse amended from 316
  to 317.

  Page 16--medieval amended to mediæval--"... a blurred transcript of a
  page of mediæval history ..."

  Page 20, footnote [13]--Helen amended to Helena--"... the close of
  the story of Helena the Fair ..."

  Page 32--bare amended to bore--"Well, the mistress bore a son ..."

  Page 37--garveyard amended to graveyard--"I'll go to the graveyard,

  Page 37--pack amended to back--"... and hobbled back again ..."

  Page 41--rubles amended to roubles--"... he had gained a hundred and
  fifty thousand roubles ..."

  Page 42, footnote [37]--Nicola's amended to Nicholas's--"In another
  story St. Nicolas's picture is the surety."

  Page 44, footnote [41]--Dei amended to Die--"Die kluge Bauerntochter"

  Page 45--crouched amended to couched--"... couched in terms of
  the utmost severity ..."

  Page 49--alternation amended to alteration--"... how little
  alteration it may undergo."

  Page 54, footnote [54]--chortevnok amended to chortenok--"...
  (_chortenok_ = a little _chort_ or devil) ..."

  Page 55--Golovh amended to Golova--"_Golova_ = head"

  Page 59--the author uses the statement, "The folk-tales of all lands
  delight to gird at misers and skinflints ...". While gird does not
  seem to be the right word in this context, it's unclear what the
  author really intended--possibly gibe?--so it is left as printed.

  Page 80, footnote [77]--Afansief amended to Afanasief--"... _i.e._,
  says Afanasief ..."

  Page 83, footnote [83]--Wissenchaften amended to
  Wissenschaften--"... Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften ..."

  Page 92--Mährchen amended to Märchen--"...Schleicher's "Litauische
  Märchen" ..."

  Page 97, footnote [101]--Afansief amended to Afanasief--"Afanasief,
  viii. No. 8. ..."

  Page 98--gronnd amended to ground--"The Eagle smote upon the ground

  Page 101--Is it amended to It is--"It is possible to sow wheat, ..."

  Page 104--me amended to met--"Presently there met him a lioness ..."

  Page 104--omitted 'I' added--"... so hungry, I feel quite unwell!"

  Page 109, footnote [108]--No. 20o amended to No. 20--"Khudyakof, No.

  Page 110--faries amended to fairies--"... a lake in which fairies of
  the swan-maiden ..."

  Page 113, footnote [114]--chigunnova amended to chugunnova--"_Do
  chugunnova kamnya_, to an iron stone."

  Page 120, footnote [128]--Siebenbügen amended to Siebenbürgen--"...
  Deutsche Volksmärchen aus dem Sachsenlande in Siebenbürgen ..."

  Page 123, footnote [136]--Professer amended to Professor--"...
  referred to by Professor Benfey ..."

  Page 123, footnote [136]--Egyptain amended to Egyptian--"... parallel
  to part of the Egyptian myth ..."

  Page 126--nto amended to into--"Then in a moment they rolled
  themselves into ..."

  Page 129, footnote [142]--Rusalk amended to Rusalka--"For a
  description of the Rusalka ..."

  Page 138, footnote [146]--traslated amended to translated--"The
  word here translated ..."

  Page 143, footnote [148]--Afansief amended to Afanasief--"Afanasief,
  v. No. 28. In the preceding story ..."

  Page 146, footnote [160]--the word "jenzi" is repeated. Probably one
  of the occurrences had a diacritical mark which was not reproduced in
  this edition; it has been left as printed.

  Page 153--foul's amended to fowl's--"... twirling round on "a fowl's

  Page 160--By-and-bye amended to By-and-by--"By-and-by she put out the
  lights ..."

  Page 167, footnote [194]--government amended to Government--"From the
  Poltava Government."

  Page 170, footnote [204]--Afansief amended to Afanasief--"Afanasief,
  vii. No. 18."

  Page 170, footnote [205]--Sanscrit amended to Sanskrit--"...
  answering to the Sanskrit ..."

  Page 171, footnote [206]--Voronej amended to Voroneje--"From the
  Voroneje Government."

  Page 172, footnote [208]--Shazka amended to Skazka--"... the Skazka for that
  of witch ..."

  Page 172--Ivaschechko amended to Ivashechko (verse following "...
  called to her son")--"Ivashechko, Ivashechko, my boy ..."

  Page 177--servants-maids amended to servant-maids--"... the bereaved
  mother sends three servant-maids ..."

  Page 177, footnote [214]--Id. amended to Ibid.--"Ibid. No. 52."

  Page 179--woman amended to women--"... where two old women were
  sewing ..."

  Page 190--in amended to it--"... there is no occasion to dwell
  upon it here."

  Page 208, footnote [255]--Rhudyakof amended to Khudyakof--"Khudyakof,
  No. 166."

  Page 213--plating amended to plaiting--"... sat a moujik plaiting a
  bast shoe."

  Page 214--alloting amended to allotting--"... when God was allotting
  their shares ..."

  Page 215, footnote [267]--i.i. amended to ii.--"Afanasief, _P.V.S._,
  ii. 226."

  Page 217, footnote [271]--Borichesky amended to Borichefsky--"Quoted
  from Borichefsky ..."

  Page 218--withen amended to within--"... when he came within a few
  versts of the sea-shore ..."

  Page 225--superfluous 'to' removed before "out to merry-makings"

  Page 228--put amended to puts--"... the girl puts on the robes, and
  appears ..."

  Page 233--n amended to in--"... went out one day to walk in the

  Page 233--omitted 'a' added--"... hiding him behind a number of
  cushions, ..."

  Page 241--Brynhildr amended to Brynhild--"... who bear so great a
  resemblance to Brynhild ..."

  Page 252, footnote [321]--omitted roman i. reference added--"See
  A. de Gubernatis, "Zool. Mythology," i. 181."

  Page 255--euough amended to enough--"That's no go, sure enough!"

  Page 257--t amended to it--"If the Princess found it out, ..."

  Page 260, footnote [326]--omitted word 'Cox' added--"... by
  G. W. Cox ..."

  Page 261, footnote [328]--Kullish amended to Kulish--"For a
  little-Russian version see Kulish ..."

  Page 262--shaskas amended to skazkas--"But skazkas tell that ..."

  Page 276--the amended to The--"The fiend disappears howling, ..."

  Page 276, footnote [363]--Märchensammlung amended to
  Mährchensammlung--"Brockhaus's "Mährchensammlung des Somadeva Bhatta"

  Page 277--dont amended to don't--"... from your psalter and don't look
  behind ..."

  Page 286--of amended to off--"Do you drive off with the coffin, ..."

  Page 288, footnote [368]--Gessellschaft amended to Gesellschaft--"...
  Königl. Sächs. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften ..."

  Page 291--sportman amended to sportsman--"... a sportsman finds in a
  forest ..."

  Page 313, footnote [407]--Geöthe amended to Goethe--"... Goethe
  founded his weird ballad ..."

  Page 321--omitted word 'in' added--"The pyre became wrapped in
  flames ..."

  Page 334, footnote [430]--Tereschenko amended to
  Tereshchenko--"Tereshchenko, v. p. 45."

  Page 335, footnote [433]--Tereschenko amended to
  Tereshchenko--"Tereshchenko, v. 47."

  Page 344, footnote [445]--Il'inskomy amended to
  Il'inskomu--"Il'inskomu bat'kye--to the Elijah father."

  Page 350, footnote [448]--page reference 206 amended to 212--"...
  mentioned above, p. 212."

  Page 354, footnote [453]--page reference 27 amended to 40--"... See
  above, p. 40."

  Page 365, footnote [464]--omitted apostrophe added after Prolub--"Prolub'"

  Page 369--merged amended to emerged--"At last he emerged from his

  Page 374--cap amended to chap--"... into the "Gesta Romanorum"
  (chap. clxii.) ..."

  Page 378--youself amended to yourself--"Hire yourself to him ..."

  Page 379, footnote [482]--Governmen amended to Government--"From the
  Tula Government."

  Page 381, footnote [486]--familar amended to familiar--"... a tale
  familiar to many lands."

  Page 383--page reference 316 amended to 317 in index entry for
  "Dog and Corpse, story of the".

  Page 384--page reference 194 amended to 201 in index entry
  for "Mythology, &c. Personifications of Good and

  Page 385 and Page 386--page reference 243 amended to 242 in
  index entries for "Symplêgades".

  Page 385--lighting amended to lightning--"superstitions about
  lightning, 343;"

  Page 385--page reference 255 amended to 355 in index entry for
  "Priest with the Greedy Eyes, story of the".

  Page 385--page reference 383 amended to 157 in index entry for
  "Russian children, appearance of".

  Page 385--page reference 36 amended to 49 in index entry for
  "Russian peasants—their jokes against women".

  Page 386--page reference 83 amended to 84 in index entry for
  "Vy, the Servian,".

  Page 386--page reference 113 amended to 130 in index entry for
  "Water King and Vasilissa the Wise, story of the".

  Page 386--30-237 amended to 237-242, in line with other index
  entry for "Waters of Life and Death".

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Russian Fairy Tales - A Choice Collection of Muscovite Folk-lore" ***

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