Russian Fairy Tales
Magic Swan Geese
A couple left their daughter in charge of her younger brother,
but she lost track of him, and the magic swan geese snatched
him away. She chased after him and came to an oven. It offered
to tell her if she ate its rye buns; she scorned them, saying
she doesn't even eat wheat buns. She also scorned similar
offers from an apple tree, and a river of milk. She came across
a little hut built on a hen's foot, in which she found Baba
Yaga with her brother; Baba Yaga set her to spin flax and
left. A mouse scurried out and said it would tell her what
she needed to know if she gave it porridge; she did, and it
told her that Baba Yaga was heating the bath house to steam
her, then she would cook her. The mouse took over her spinning,
and the girl took her brother and fled.
Baba Yaga sent the swan geese after her. She begged the river
for aid, and it insisted she eat some of it first; she did,
and it sheltered her. When she ran on, the swan geese followed
again, and the same happened with the apple tree and the oven.
Then she reached home and safety.
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Tale of Tsar Saltan, of his son, the glorious and mighty knight
prince Gvidon Saltanovich, and of the fair Swan-princess
The Tale of Tsar Saltan is a poem by Alexander Pushkin.
Three fair maidens, late one night,
Sat and spun by candlelight.
"Were our tsar to marry me,"
Said the eldest of the three,
"I would cook and I would bake -
Oh, what royal feasts I'd make."
Said the second of the three:
"Were our tsar to marry me,
I would weave a cloth of gold
Fair and wondrous to behold."
But the youngest of the three
Murmured: "If he married me -
I would give our tsar an heir
Handsome, brave, beyond compare."
The story is of three sisters, of whom the youngest is chosen
by Tsar Saltan to be his wife, while he makes the other two
his royal cook and royal weaver. They are jealous of course,
and when the tsarina gives birth to a son, Prince Gvidon,
they arrange to have her and her child ordered to be shut
up in a barrel and thrown into the sea. The sea itself takes
pity on them, and they are cast up on the shore of a remote
island Buyan. The son, having quickly grown while in the barrel,
goes hunting. However, he ends up saving an enchanted swan
from a kite. The swan creates a city for Prince Gvidon to
rule, but he is homesick, and the swan turns him into a mosquito.
In this guise he visits Tsar Saltan's court, where he stings
his aunt's eye and escapes.
Back in his distant realm, the swan gives Gvidon a magical
squirrel. But he continues to pine for home, so the swan transforms
him into a fly, and in the Tsar's court he stings the eye
of his other aunt. In a third round he becomes a wasp (or
bee) and stings the nose of his grandmother. In the end, he
expresses a desire for a bride instead of his old home, upon
which the swan is revealed to be a beautiful princess, whom
he marries. He is visited by the Tsar, who is over joyed to
find his wife and newly-married son.
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and the Pike
Emelya the Fool was known to every one around as the laziest
man alive. Emelya spent most of his days lounging on the stove,
doing nothing, while his family worked hard in the fields.
One day, however, Emelya caught a Pike. The Pike was no ordinary
fish. Filled with magic, it was able to grant Emelya anything
he wanted in exchange for its freedom. At first, living in
his little village, Emelya found only simple uses for his
new magic he got wood to cut itself, and the sled to run without
a horse. But soon Emelya's antics brought him to the attention
of the Tsar. Forced to go before the Tsar, Emelya actually
flew there on his stove. But once at the palace, an unexpected
event led to a dramatic change in plans Emelya fell in love
with the Tsar's beautiful daughter, Tsarevna Marya, and she
with him. But the Tsar wasn't very happy with this state of
affairs, and he had both Emelya and his daughter put into
a barrel and cast into the ocean. But Emelya, with the Pike's
help, escaped the barrel and made a beautiful palace for himself
and Marya. All was well until the Tsar rode by the castle
one day, and sent his messengers to investigate.
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In the Russian tale the tsar orders his three sons shoot
arrows and find their brides where the arrows land. The youngest
son's arrow is picked up by a frog; so he is at a loss until
a friendly frog takes pity on him and offers to marry him.
The king then assigns his three prospective daughters-in-law
various tasks. In every task the frog far outdoes the lazy
brides-to-be of the older brothers. Still, the young prince
is ashamed of his froggy bride, until she is magically transformed
into a tsarevna...
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, the Tsar decided
that it was time for his three sons to get married. He called
them together, telling them each to shoot their arrows, and
whatever maiden their arrows should land by would be their
bride. The eldest son drew back his bow, and shot his arrow,
which hit next to a nobleman's daughter. The middle son then
drew his bow, and shot his arrow, which landed by a merchant's
Then came the turn of the youngest son, Ivan Tsarevich. Ivan
drew back his bow and shot his arrow. But Ivan's arrow didn't
find a maiden, it flew off into a swamp. To Ivan's great surprise,
his arrow had landed next to a frog. His two older brothers
laughed at him, and Ivan begged the Tsar not to make him marry
the frog. But the Tsar understood the fate of young Ivan,
and Ivan and the frog were married.
Soon after his sons were married, the Tsar called them together
once more. He had decided to set their wives to certain tasks
to see which one could perform them the best. The first task
was for them to bake a loaf of bread. Ivan went home and told
his frog about baking the bread. The frog replied for him
not to worry, and sent Ivan to bed. After Ivan was sleeping,
the frog removed her skin and turned into Vasilisa the Beautiful.
She stood in the doorway, clapped her hands, and her servants
came running to her aid. When Ivan awoke the next morning
the frog handed a loaf of white bread to him. After tasting
the bread of all three wives, the Tsar declared that the bread
of Ivan's wife was by far the best.
The second task was to weave a beautiful carpet. Once again
the frog sent Ivan to bed, shed her skin, summoned her servants,
and wove a magnificent carpet. The Tsar once again chose the
work of Ivan's wife over the others.
The third task was to see which wife could dance the best
at the royal ball. The frog told Ivan to arrive at the ball
alone, and she would follow an hour later. And so Ivan arrived
alone, and an hour later his wife, Vasilisa the Beautiful,
arrived. She shamed the other wives by using her magic powers
to dance and create a lake of swans.
Ivan was so enchanted with her, that he destroyed her frog
skin. Vasilisa screamed at him to stop, but it was to late.
As soon as her skin was destroyed, Vasilisa turned into a
swan and flew away to where she was obliged to be the prisoner
of Koschei the Deathless. Ivan had to embark upon a long and
magical journey to find his wife. He had to inquire from the
evil witch Baba Yaga to learn of the magical feats that he
must accomplish to free his wife.
Baba Yaga tells him that he must travel to the Island of
Buyan, and that Koschei's death is on the point of a needle,
which is in an egg, inside a duck, which is in a hare, contained
in a chest buried underneath a large oak tree. Ivan travels
to the island, finds the tree, and with the help of several
animals that he has befriended, he is able to break the egg
to kill Koschei, and to snap the needle which frees Vasilisa.
They return to their home and live happily ever after.
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Once there lived an old widower and his daughter. In due
time, the man remarried to an older woman who had a daughter.
The woman doted on her own daughter, praising her at every
opportunity, but she despised her stepdaughter. She found
fault with everything the girl did and made her work long
and hard all day long. One day the old woman made up her mind
to get rid of the stepdaughter once and for all. She ordered
her husband, "Take her somewhere far away and don't take
her to some relative's house. Take her into the biting cold
of the forest and leave her there."
The old man grieved and wept but he knew that he could do
nothing else; his wife always had her way. So he took the
girl into the forest and left her there. He turned back quickly
so that he wouldn't have to see his girl freeze.
The poor thing, sat there in the snow, with her body shivering
and her teeth chattering! Then Morozko (Father Frost), leaping
from tree to tree, came upon her.
"Are you warm, dear?" he asked.
"Welcome, my dear Morozko. Yes, I am quite warm,"
she said, even though she was cold to the bone.
Later, Morozko returned twice to ask how she was doing, and
this time Morozko gave her silver and gold jewelry to wear,
with enough extra jewels to fill the box.
Meanwhile, back at her father's hut, the old woman told her
husband to go back into the forest and fetch the body of his
daughter. Joy overwhelmed the old man when he saw his daughter
was still alive, wrapped in a sable coat and adorned with
silver and gold! When he arrived home with his daughter and
the box of jewels, his wife wanted the same for her daughter.
The old man did as he was told.
Like the other girl at first, the old woman's daughter began
to shake and shiver. In a short while, Morozko came by and
asked her how she was doing.
"Are you blind?" she replied. "Can't you see
that my hands and feet are quite numb? Curse you, you miserable
The next day the old man went to get the girl. A short while
later, the gate to the yard creaked. The old woman went outside
and saw her husband standing next to the sleigh. She rushed
forward and pulled aside the sleigh's cover. To her horror,
she saw the body of her daughter, frozen by an angry Morozko.
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Once there lived an evil, greedy woman who loved her own
daughter and hated her virtuous, hardworking stepdaughter.
On a very cold day in January, she sent her poor stepdaughter
to the forest to pick snowdrops for her stepsister's birthday.
"But the snowdrops won't be blooming for another two
months, at least!" cried the poor girl." Her stepmother
said, "I don't want to hear about it. Go out there and
find them and don't come back until you do."
Since the girl had no choice, she started walking through
the frozen woods. She walked further and further and got colder
and colder, but there wasn't a living thing to be seen. The
wind began to blow and the snow began to fall.
Suddenly, she came out into a clearing where she saw twelve
men, from very young to very old, dressed in rich clothes.
They asked her why she was out at night in the forest during
a snowstorm. She bowed politely to them and told them that
her stepmother had ordered her to pick snowdrops for her stepsister.
The twelve months felt sorry for her, and decided to help
January, who looked like a very old man, took his cane, hit
the ground with it, and chanted a spell. Around them, that
cold first month of the year passed by within seconds. He
then gave the cane to February, and the same thing happened,
and then the cane went to March, who made flowers spring up
all over the glade. She picked great armfuls of tender spring
flowers and put them in her basket.
When she returned home and told what had happened to her
in the forest, the jealous stepmother let her own daughter
go to the glade to ask the twelve months for berries, mushrooms,
apples and cucumbers. The girl found the glade and the twelve
months around the big fire. But this daughter was rude to
them and did not get anything. January waved his hand and
she was buried in thick layers of snow. Her mother tried to
find her, but also was frozen to death.
The kindhearted stepdaughter lived long and happily. In May
she had the freshest flowers in her house, in June the best
berries, and in September the best apples. People said that
the twelve months visited her regularly and always gave her
Narrative and translation: Donna Richardson and Tatyana Stonebarger.
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Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf
A king's apple tree bore golden apples, but every night,
one was stolen. Guards reported that the Firebird stole them.
The king told his two oldest sons that the one who caught
the bird would receive half his kingdom and be his heir. They
drew lots to see who would be first, but both fell asleep;
they tried to claim it had not come, but it had stolen an
apple. Finally Ivan Tsarevich, the youngest son, asked to
try; his father was reluctant because of his youth but consented.
Ivan remained awake and caught a tail feather. The Firebird
did not return, but the king longed for the bird. He said
that still, whoever caught it would have half his kingdom
and be his heir.
The older brothers set out. They came to a stone that said
whoever took one road would know hunger and cold; whoever
took the second would live, though his horse would die; and
whoever took the third would die, though his horse would live.
They did not know which way to take, and so took up an idle
Ivan begged to be allowed to go until his father yielded.
He took the second road, and a wolf ate his horse. He walked
until he was exhausted, and the wolf offered to carry him.
It brought him to the garden where the firebird was and told
him to take it out without its golden cage. The prince went
in, but thought it was a great pity not to take the cage,
but when he touched it, bells rang, waking everyone, and he
was captured. He told his story, and the First King said he
could have had it for the asking, but he could be spared now
only if he got the Horse with the Golden Mane.
He met the wolf and admitted to his disobedience. It carried
him to the kingdom and stables where he could get the horse
and warned him against the golden bridle. Its beauty tempted
him, and he touched it, and instruments of brass sounded.
He was captured, and the Second King told him that if he had
come with the word, he would have given him the horse, but
now he would be spared only if he brought him Helen the Beautiful
to be his wife.
Ivan went back to the wolf, confessed, and was brought to
her castle. The wolf carried her off, but Ivan was able to
assuage her fears. Ivan brought her back to the Second King,
but wept because they had come to love each other. The wolf
turned itself into the form of the princess and had Ivan exchange
it for the Horse with the Golden Mane. Ivan and Helen rode
off on the Horse. The wolf escaped the king. It reached Ivan
and Helen, and Helen rode the horse and Ivan the wolf. Ivan
asked the wolf to become like the horse and let him exchange
it for the Firebird, so that he could keep the horse as well.
The wolf agreed, the exchange was done, and Ivan returned
to his own kingdom with Helen, the horse, and the Firebird.
The wolf said its service was done when they returned to
where it had eaten Ivan's horse. Ivan dismounted and lamented
their parting. They went on for a time and slept. His older
brothers found them, killed Ivan, sliced his body to pieces,
and told Helen that they would kill her if she would not say
that they had gotten the horse, the firebird, and her. They
brought them to their father, and the second son got half
the kingdom, and the oldest was to marry Helen.
The Grey Wolf found Ivan's body and caught two fledgling
crows that would have eaten it. Their mother pleaded for them,
and the wolf sent her to fetch the water of death, which restored
the body, and the water of life, which revived him. The wolf
carried him to the wedding in time to stop it; the older brothers
were made servants or killed by the wolf, but Ivan married
Helen and lived happily with her.
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Snow Girl (Snegurochka)
A long time ago in the forests of Russia there lived a peasant
by the name of Ivan with his wife, Maria. Although they loved
each other very much and had many friends, they were unhappy
because they had no children.
One winter day, they watched the village children build a
snowman. "Let's build a snowman, too!," said Ivan.
And they proceeded to craft a pretty little maiden out of
snow. Struck with their creation, Ivan said, "Little
snowmaiden, speak to me." Maria exclaimed, "Yes,
come to life so you can romp and play like the other children!"
Before their very eyes, Snegurochka became a real girl. "I
have come from the land of winter, ice and snow," said
the little girl. She ran and hugged them. There was joyous
singing, dancing and celebrating in the village that night.
All that long Russian winter Snegurochka romped and played
with the other children. Everyone loved her. She, Ivan and
Maria were very happy.
Then one day, when the first signs of spring appeared, Snegurochka
came to Ivan and Maria, and with tear-filled eyes told them
that she must go away, up North to the land of snow. They
begged her to stay. Upset, Ivan jumped up and shut the door
to the hut so the snowmaiden couldn't leave, and Maria hugged
her tight. But as she held the little girl, the child melted
away. Ivan and Maria wept bitterly.
All spring and summer they were lonely. Summer turned into
fall and fall into winter and once again it was cold and icy
outside. One night a familiar voice was heard. "Mother!
Father! Open the door! The snow has brought me back once more!"
Ivan threw open the door and Snegurochka ran into their arms.
All that winter she lived with them and played with the other
village children. But in the spring she had to go back North,
whence she had come. This time Ivan and Maria did not weep,
knowing she would return once more when winter appeared on
the land. And so it was that the snowmaiden brought warmth
and joy to Ivan and Maria during the long, cold, Russian winter
for many, many, many years.
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Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)
One of the two tales with the same name Snegurochka (The
Snow Maiden) is retold by Alexandr Ostrovsky.
It has been winter for fifteen years because the Sun God
is angry that Frost and Spring have had a daughter together:
Snegurochka. Now on the verge of adulthood, she decides to
escape the cold and lonely forest and join the world of the
mortals. She is attracted by Lel’s seductive songs but
is unable to express her feelings for him. Snegurochka’s
friend Kupava is engaged to Mizgir, but when he sees Snegurochka
he falls in love with her instead and breaks off the original
engagement, leaving Kupava upset and angry at her betrayal.
She seeks solace in the arms of Lel. Meanwhile Snegurochka
begs her mother to grant her the capacity for human love and
warmth. At a mass spring wedding, Snegurochka professes her
love for Mizgir as a ray of sun strikes her and she melts
away. The Sun God is appeased by her death and all celebrate
the coming of spring.
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Once upon a time there lived an old man and his wife.
One day the old woman went into the pantry and saw that there.
It turned out just right, crunchy side, delicious aroma.
Old woman put Kolobok on the window sill to cool. Kolobok
looked around, jumped off and ran away Kolobok rolled along
and met the Rabbit.
"Kolobok, Kolobok, I will eat you." Said the Rabbit.
"Don't eat me, I will sing you a song." Said Kolobok
and began to sing: "I'm a happy Kolobok, with a crunchy
brown side. In the oven I was baked, on the window sill cooled.
From old man I ran away, from old woman too. I will run away
from you." and Kolobok ran along and met the wolf.
"Kolobok, I will eat you." Said the Wolf. "Don't
eat me, Wolf, I will sing you a song." Said Kolobok and
began to sing: "I'm a happy Kolobok, with a crunchy brown
side. In the oven I was baked, on the window sill cooled.
From old man I ran away, from old woman too. I ran away from
Rabbit and will run away from you." Kolobok rolled on
his way and met the Bear.
"Kolobok, Kolobok, I will eat you." Grumbled the
Bear. "Don't eat me, I will sing you a song." Said
Kolobok and started singing: "I'm a happy Kolobok, with
a crunchy brown side. In the oven I was baked, on the window
sill cooled. From old man I ran away, from old woman too.
I ran away from Rabbit and Wolf and will run away from you."
Kolobok rolled away from Bear. As he rolled along, Kolobok
saw the Fox.
"Kolobok, Kolobok," called the Fox. "I will
eat you." "Don't eat me, Fox, I will sing you a
song." Said Kolobok and started singing: "I'm a
happy Kolobok, with a crunchy brown side. In the oven I was
baked, on the window sill cooled. From old man I ran away,
from old woman too. I ran away from Rabbit, Wolf and Bear,
and will run away from you."
"What a wonderful song." Said Fox. Too bad I am
hard of hearing. Come closer and sing for me again, so I can
hear better." Said fox. Kolobok climbed closer, and as
he began to sing . . .
And the Fox ate kolobok. The End.
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Sadko was a merchant and gusli musician from Novgorod.
Sadko played the gusli on the shores of a lake. The Sea Tsar
appeared to express his gratitude. On the Tsar's advice, Sadko
made a bet with the local merchants about a certain fish in
the lake; then he caught it, and the merchants had to pay
the bet, making Sadko a rich merchant.
Sadko traded on the seas with his new wealth, but one day,
his ships stopped in the sea and would not move. He and his
sailors tried to appease the Sea Tsar with gold, but finally
Sadko had to jump into the sea. He played the gusli for the
Sea Tsar, who offered him, already married man, a new bride.
On advice, he took the last maiden in a long line, and lay
down beside her.
He woke up on the shore and rejoined his wife.
This tale attracted the attention of several authors in 19th
century with the rise of the Slavophile movement and served
as a basis for a number of derived works.
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Ruslan and Ludmila is a poem by Alexander Pushkin, published
in 1820. It is written as an epic fairy tale consisting of
a dedication, six "songs" or "cantos",
and an epilogue.
In a brief prologue, the narrator of the story describes
a green oak by the sea, and makes reference to several other
elements common in Russian folktales, such as a hut on hen’s
legs, Baba Yaga, and King Koschei. Bound to the tree by a
golden chain is a story-telling cat. The narrator remembers
one of the cat’s stories in particular, namely the one
Prince Vladimir of Kiev celebrates the marriage of his daughter,
Ludmila, to the bold warrior Ruslan. Among the guests are
Ruslan’s jealous rivals, the bold warrior Rogday, the
boastful Farlaf, and the young khazar Khan Ratmir.
On their wedding night, as Ruslan prepares to consummate
the marriage, a strange presence fills the bedroom, accompanied
by thunder and lightning. Ruslan finds that his bride has
On hearing of Ludmila's disappearance, the angered Vladimir
annuls the marriage and promises his daughter’s hand
to whoever is able to return her safely. Ruslan and his three
rivals set off on horseback. Ruslan encounters an old man
in a cavern who tells him that Ludmila had been abducted by
the long bearded sorcerer Chernomor, and that Ruslan would
find her unharmed.
The brave knight Ruslan had to face all the challenges and
obstacles to find and rescue her.
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The Golden Cockerel is a poem by Alexander Pushkin, who based
this tale on two chapters of Tales of the Alhambra by Washington
Pushkin's tale is set in the land of Tsar Dadon, who is looking
for a new method to protect his rich kingdom. He offers the
reward of the person's choice in return for finding a perfect
security system. He is disappointed when he tries several
different techniques, but at last there appears an astrologer,
who seems to have the answer. The astrologer gives him a Golden
Cockerel, which will crow any time that the Kingdom is endangered.
The astrologer then chooses not to claim his reward immediately,
but to wait until he can decide what he would like.
The magic Cockerel proves to be the perfect protection for
Tsar Dadon's kingdom. The Cockerel ends up crowing three times.
The first time he crows, an enemy army is advancing towards
Tsar Dadon's land. The Tsar sends his elder son and his mighty
army to fight the enemy. The tsardom is saved, but the Tsar's
son and army never return.
The Cockerel crows the second time as another army is advancing
to capture Dadon's land. This time he sends his younger son
and an army into battle. But once again, though the kingdom
is spared, neither the son nor the army ever returns.
The Cockerel then crows the third time, sounding the alarm
that yet a third army is planning to invade. This time, Dadon
himself leads an army to the farthest borders of the kingdom.
Arriving there, he is horrified at what he discovers. All
along the border of his land are strewn out the dead bodies
of his soldiers that he had sent into battle. He also finds
the slaughtered bodies of his two sons. Tsar Dadon is then
overcome with sickness and grief. He walks into a tent to
sit down, and there his sadness is lifted when he sees a most
beautiful sight! Before him stands the seductive Queen of
Shemakha. Dadon immediately falls in love with her, and plans
to marry her once they return to his castle. But on the way
home they encounter the Astrologer who has decided that he
would like to claim the enchanting Queen for himself, as his
reward. Tsar Dadon is engulfed with anger and envy. He not
only denies the Astrologer his reward, but also kills him.
The Golden Cockerel then flies down from his perch and pecks
Dadon to death for not keeping his end of the bargain.
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The story is basically a variation of the tale Beauty and
Once upon a time in a far away land, a merchant was preparing
to set out on a long journey. This merchant had three daughters,
and he asked all of them what they would like as gifts for
themselves when he returned from his voyage. The first daughter
requested a golden crown, and the second one wanted a crystal
mirror. The third daughter asked only for "the little
The merchant set out on his journey. It did not take him
very long to find a beautiful golden crown and a fine crystal
mirror. He had difficulty, however, finding the third gift,
the scarlet flower. He searched everywhere, and eventually
his search led him into a magical forest. Deep within these
woods there was situated a palace, in whose courtyard grew
a beautiful flower. As the merchant drew closer to the flower,
he realized what it was--the scarlet flower. Cautiously, the
merchant picked the flower that his youngest daughter wanted
so badly. Upon picking the scarlet flower, he was confronted
by a hideous beast, who demanded that in return for picking
the flower the merchant must send one of his daughters deep
into the enchanted forest to live with the beast forever.
Upon receiving the scarlet flower, the merchant's youngest
daughter agreed to go to the beast. She journeyed alone into
the forest and found the castle where she would dwell forever.
For a time, she lived there very happily. The beast had not
revealed himself to her, and showered her daily with kindness
and gifts. She started to grow quite fond of her invisible
keeper, and one day asked that he show himself. The beast
reluctantly gave into her plea, and just as he had feared,
she recoiled in terror at the site of him.
That night the girl had a haunting dream about her father
falling deathly ill. She begged the beast to release her,
so that she could find her dying father. Touched by her concern,
the beast released her on one condition--that she return to
him in three days time. The girl found her father, and prepared
to return to the beast in the allotted time. However, her
sisters altered the time on the clocks, making her arrive
late. There upon her arrival the girl was horrified at what
she encountered. The beast was dead, lying there clutching
her scarlet flower. Heartbroken, the girl embraced the dead
beast, and declared her love for him. Having done this, she
unknowingly broke the evil spell, and her beloved beast awoke,
turning into a handsome prince.
They lived happily ever after.
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Humpbacked Little Pony
An old man has three sons - the elder two are considered
fairly smart, while the youngest, Ivan, is considered an idiot.
One day the father sends the three to find out who's been
taking the hay in their fields at night. The elder brothers
decide to lie hidden in a haystack, where they promptly fall
asleep. Ivan, meanwhile, sits beside a birch tree and plays
on his recorder. Suddenly, he sees a magnificent horse come
flying out of the sky. Ivan grabs its mane and holds on as
the horse tries to shake him off. Finally, the horse begs
him to let her go and in return gives him two beautiful black
horses and a little humpbacked horse (Konyok-gorbunok) to
be his companion.
Ivan finds that his brothers have taken his two beautiful
horses. Konyok-gorbunok tells him that they will catch them
in the city, so Ivan sits on its back and they go flying through
the clouds. Along the way, Ivan finds the fiery feather of
a firebird, which shines without giving off any heat, and
takes it despite Konyok-gorbunok's warning that it will cause
him difficulty later.
They reach the city, and Ivan outwits his brothers and sells
his black horses to the Tsar. When it is found that nobody
can control them except Ivan, he is put in charge of the Tsar's
stables. The Tsar's adviser takes a disliking to Ivan, and
hides himself in the stables to watch him at work so that
he can think of a way to remove him from the Tsar's favour.
After seeing Ivan use the firebird's feather for light, he
steals it from him and shows it to the Tsar, who commands
Ivan to catch him a firebird or lose his post.
With Konyok-gorbunok's help, Ivan catches one and brings it
back to the Tsar. The Tsar's advisor tells the Tsar to make
Ivan catch a beautiful legendary maiden of the sea, so the
Tsar summons him and tells him that the consequences will
be dire if he doesn't bring her within three weeks. Ivan again
manages to do this.
The elderly tsar is overjoyed and begs the young maiden to
marry him, but she refuses, telling him that she would only
marry him if he were young and handsome, and that to become
young and handsome he would need to bath first in boiling
water, then in milk and then in freezing water. The tsar's
advisor tells him to try this out on Ivan first, hoping at
last to be rid of his nemesis. The tsar agrees, and when Ivan
protests upon being told of this the tsar orders him to be
thrown into prison until everything is ready the next morning.
Konyok-gorbunov comes to Ivan and through the prison bars
tells him not to worry - to simply whistle for him in the
morning and let him put a magic spell on the water so that
it will not be harmfull to him. The advisor overhears this,
and kidnaps Konyok-gorbunok just as he is walking away from
In the morning, Ivan whistles for Konyok-gorbunok, who is
tied in a bag. He manages to free himself eventually, and
at the last moment comes to Ivan's rescue and puts a spell
on the three containers of water. Ivan jumps into the boiling
water, then the milk and then the freezing water, and emerges
as a handsome young man instead of a boy. The young maiden
falls in love with him and they walk away. Meanwhile, the
tsar gets excited and decides that he also wants to be young
and handsome. However, the spell is no longer working, so
after he jumps into the boiling water he doesn't come back
Soon after the Tsar's death Ivan and the Maiden Queen were
married, and they lived with their Little Humpbacked Horse
happily ever after.
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Tale of the Fisherman and the Golden Fish
The Tale of the Fisherman and the Golden Fish is a poem by
Once upon a time, there lived a very poor couple in a hut
not far from the edge of the sea. Their only means of food
was the fish that the old man caught in the sea. One morning,
as was usual, the fisherman went to the sea to fish. But something
unusual happened for he caught the Golden Fish. The Golden
Fish begged the fisherman to spare his life, and in return
offered to grant the him any wish he wanted. But the kindhearted
fisherman asked for nothing, and returned the Golden Fish
to the sea.
However, when he got home and told his wife about the incident,
she became irate her and sent him back to the sea to catch
the Golden Fish and to wish for a loaf of bread. The fisherman
went back, caught the fish and asked for a loaf of bread.
When he returned home, he found a fresh loaf of bread on the
The greedy wife decided that she could ask more than just
a loaf of bread. The next morning, she sent her husband to
ask for a new washtub. The new washtub appeared, but she still
The following day the husband was sent to the sea to find
the magic fish and to wish for a new house. This wish was,
like the ones before it, granted. But the wish-list kept growing.
With the fish's boon, the fisherman's wife first became governor.
She dressed in rich, fine clothes and ordered about her many
servants. But the woman was still unhappy, and demanded to
become the queen of all the land.
Eventually, even being queen of all the land did not satisfy
the wife, and so she sent her husband one last time to the
sea to catch the Golden Fish and ask that she become ruler
of the sea and of all creatures who live in it. The fisherman
caught the fish, and made the wish. However, when he returned
home his wife was dressed in her old rags, standing by her
old broken washtub, inside the old shack, with not even a
loaf of bread to eat.
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Tale of the Dead (Sleeping) Princess and the Seven Knights
The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights is a
1833 fairy-tale poem by Aleksandr Pushkin. The story is based
on the tale Little Snow White from Grimm's Fairy Tales.
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, an evil queen sat
with her magic plate in her hand. A magic apple would roll
around a plate and reveal answers to any questions. She was
appalled when this mirror said to her that she was no longer
the most beautiful in all the land, but that a young princess
In her rage, the evil queen ordered that the princess be
led deep into the forest, and then be killed. However, the
old woman assigned the grim task of leading the beautiful
girl astray took pity upon her intended victim, and left her
in the forest without killing her. In the forest the princess
found shelter with seven "bogatyrs" (warriors),
and she lived there very happily. She had no idea that back
in the castle the wicked queen's magic mirror had told her
the secret of the girl's whereabouts, and that the queen had
made plans to ensure that the princess would not once again
escape her wrath.
One day, the beautiful princess was approached by a seemingly
harmless old woman who offered her a delicious red apple.
The naive princess never suspected that it was the evil queen
in disguise, and gladly took the apple. Upon her first bite
she fell into a deep, seemingly irreversible sleep.
But all hope was not to be lost. Far away, the great Prince
Yelisei had heard of the fate befallen his love, and set out
to break this spell which had cast her into such a deep sleep.
He rode on his horse, inquiring first of the moon, then the
wind, and then the sun, as to where his princess could be
found. He finally found her sleeping body encased in a crystal
tomb. Smashing the tomb with his sword, he broke the evil
spell, and the princess awoke. They lived happily ever after.
The evil queen however, did not. She died of grief as soon
as her mirror revealed to her that the princess would live
happily ever after.
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Alyonushka and brother Ivanushka
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a brother and
sister walked together down a long road. The sister's name
was Alyonushka, and her brother was called Ivanushka. The
two had been walking a long time when they came to a cow's
hoof filled with water.
"May I drink form it sister?" little Ivanushka asked.
"No, or you will turn into a calf," Alyonushka answered.
Little Ivanushka was very thirsty, but obeyed his sister.
He obeyed her again when they came to a horse's hoof filled
with water. Alyonushka told him that if he drank from it,
he would turn into a foal. The brother and sister walked along
further, and Ivanushka became increasingly thirsty. Then they
came upon a goat's hoof filled with water.
"May I drink from it?" Ivanushka asked.
Alyonushka once again was firm.
"No, if you do you will turn into a kid." But this
time the boy disobeyed his sister, and upon his first sip
turned into a little goat.
Alyonushka sat on the rode crying when a merchant drove by
and inquired about her trouble. Alyonushka explained the situation
to him, and he said that if she married him they could live
happily with the goat. Alyonushka agreed, and so they lived
happily this way for some time.
Then one day an evil witch tricked Alyonushka into going
down to the river, where she tied a stone around her neck
and threw her in. The witch then took on Alyonushka's form
and lived as her for awhile. Only poor Ivanushka knew the
truth about his sister. Little did he know that the witch
had plans for him, too. When witch overheard him one day talking
to his sister in the lake, she decided to ask the merchant
to kill the little goat.
It was hard for the merchant to agree to kill Ivanushka,
as he loved the goat like a person. But, being deceived by
the witch, he felt his wife's wishes to be the most important.
Ivanushka asked the merchant if he could go to the river for
one last drink before he died, and the merchant agreed.
There at the river's edge the goat cried out to his sister,
and she answered him that she couldn't help him with a stone
tied around her neck. Neither the brother nor sister realized
that this time a peasant had overheard their conversation,
and was on his way to stop the merchant from killing Ivanushka.
Upon hearing the peasant's story, the merchant ran to the
river, found Alyonushka, and took the stone from around her
The witch was then tied to a horse, which was turned loose
in an open field. The little goat was so happy that he turned
three somersaults, and was changed back into a boy.
They lived happily ever after.
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