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Ukrainian folk tale
Translated by I.Didenko
Illustrated by Kolesnikov A.
Once, long ago it was, when the hens gave the birth to calves but sheep did the same with the painted bags which were more miraculous, then they usually made in Kosov. Then there lived a poor man and had he three daughters — Mariyka, Gannusya and Vasylinka. This peasant lived in a great poverty until his daughters had grown up, from that time he felt a little bit releif, the girls were just fit for cooking, cleaning rags and even for working in the field. The girls turned out to be as lovely as three blossoming snowball-trees.
One day the poor man took his daughters to the field to weed potatoes. Suddenly from out of nowhere a cart rolled out of the forest and stopped just in front of them on the road. Some gentleman stepped out of it.
— Good afternoon, master. Gnaw this lenten soil, do you?
— Yes, gnawing I am, your lordship.
— And wouldn't your daughters be gnawing it in such a way all their life through?
— Probably they will. Nobody knows what will fall to his lot.
— I know this,— the gentleman said boasting.— Your elder daughter's destiny will be happy if you give me her hand in marriage.
A poor man wondered:
— But what are you then?
— I am Oldekwyth, the most prominent gentlemen in the neighboring land.
Poor peasant got mused upon his words. Truly saying he was glad, that at least one of his daughters wouldn't be suffering from poverty. And, who knows, may be she won't let her sisters to griev in a wide world, may be she will help them, because she will be able, she will have with what and how to do them good.
— And what about you, Mariyka? Will you accept a proposal of this gentleman?
Mariyka glimpsed at Oldekwith — a handsome one: lovely blue eyes, black hair.
— Yes, dad, I'll do.
Then the oldman said:
— Lets hold a wedding feast on Sunday.
— The only condition is to hold it in my palace,— the gentleman insisted. And the bride has to set off with me immediately. And again the poor man get mused but soon agreed.
— Let's go, Mariyka, said the young gentleman. A long way is waiting for us and a sunset is nearly.
The girl took leave of her kindreds, sat into the cart and gone away.
A week had passed but Oldekwith didn't invite the oldman to the wedding feast. And the whole year had passed since that, but poor soul nothing knew about his daughter.
And again the time of weeding had come. The oldman came into the field with Gannusya and Vasylinka. They weeded and weeded until in a short while Oldekwith came out of the forest.
— Good afternoon,— says he,— and you as before are gnawing your field, aren't you?
— Yes, gnawing. Getting over our grief. And where is our Mariyka? Why didn't she come back?
She gave the birth to a child and asked Gannusya to come to her at least for a week to help her about the house. Gannusya even jumped with joy.
— I'll go, father! Mariyka is alone, she's dull and upset. I'll amuse her and nurse the baby. Then I'll come back and tell you how she keeps her house.
The oldman agreed. And again not a week had passed, but the whole year. Nothing was heard about Mariyka and Gannusya. And again the summer has come. The poor man came out into the field with his youngest daughter Vasylinka to weed the potatoes.
And as earlier Oldekwyth came out of the forest.
— Good afternoon,— said he.— Well, and what then, you are proceeding to gnaw the poor soil till now, aren't you?
— But nothing more in this world left for us. We ought to work in order to keep body and soul. And where's our Gannusya? Why hasn't she been coming home for such a long time?
— Many times I tried to get her home but Mariyka didn't let her do this. She speaks, that she would feel lonely without a sister. Gannusya had fallen ill a little bit and now she asks Vasylinka to come to visit her at least for three days. And then they will return home together.
— I shall go, Dad! Not for a long time, for only three days. Let me go!
— Well, go! But only in three days be at home and that's all.
— Oll right, Dad, I'll go. Vasylinka sat into the cart and the horses started. First they rode like all other people on the road and in a meantime this cart rose up and flew like a bird. It rushed along by air for a long time until it reached the stone castle, which stood on the mountain. The huge gates opened by themselves in front of the cart. Vasylinka jumped out of the cart hoping that her sisters would have come to meet her. But nobody was waiting for her. It seemed that far and wide there was not a man to be seen in the castle. The only crows were croaking on the roof. Vasylinka got frightened.
— Oh! Where are my sisters dear? — Besides, there were no Oldekwyth with his cart, as if the ground had swallowed them.
The girl began running along gloomy corridors and dropping into the dark chambers.
— Mariyka! Gannusya!
But no answer had come back. Sat she down on the cold stone and burst into tears. It was long enough that the bitter tears flowed from her eyes. Suddenly the decrepit old woman appeared in front of her.
— What are you crying over, dear?
— What else should I do but cry if Oldekwyth had brought me to my sisters and they are seen nowhere? And he himself disappeared and I've been left alone on this cold stone. What have I to do now?
— You will see your sisters not very soon. Oldekwyth is an anheard hangman. He tormants them in his deep dungeons. And such destiny will be your's too.
— No, Grannie! I'll run away of here.
— Nobody will run away from here because those iron gates are locked with golden key.
— Can you give me a piece of advise?
An old woman handed in her a thin belt.
— Put it on and be obedient before Oldekwyth. If he'll command you to become his wife put your left hand under the belt and agree to him, accept his proposal. Tell him that you love him stronger then your father and sisters. Remember well, do everything having your left hand under the belt. It has a magic strength. This is a belt of a goodness.
— Thank you. Granny dear.— uttered Vasylinka.
An oldwoman disappeared as even she never had been here.
The girl put on the magic belt and began waiting for her enemy. In the evening Oldekwyth had retuned and at once spoke to Vasylinka.
— I should like you to become my wife. The girl put the left palm under the belt and answered him kindly:
— All my life I shall be faithful wife to you.
— Do you love me really, indeed?
— Oh, stronger then my father and my sisters.
— You will be happy. You are just the only wife I need.— Oldekwyth was glad. Vasylinka cooked the supper. Oldekwyth had eaten fill, quenched his thirst, gave Vasylinka a bunch of golden keys and told:
— Those are the keys of all the doors in my castle. But don't call in those rooms and I'll bring you whatever you want. I set off to the distant lands for the whole week. Look behind attentively, not a thread must be lost.
— I'll do my best, my master. Oldekwyth was glad having such a wife, he sat down into his cart and rushed away.
Vasylinka couldn't sleep all night through. In the morning she went away into the garden, lay down into the grass and cried. Under the ground she suddenly had heard the voices of Mariyka and Gannusya.
— Dad, kindred, save us from this Oldekwyth! How long can we suffer in this prison!
Vasylinka jumped up and went to the castle. She roamed over the rooms, looked for her sisters. But there were only heaps of gold and diamonds.
The next night in her dream a kind old woman came and said to her:
— Unlock the door in the floor of the twelfth room. Vasylinka woke up and began to look for the twelfth room. Having found it she opened the door in the floor and looked down. Three young fellows were chained to the iron stub. One of them saw Vasylinka and asked her:
— Beauty dear, go and fetch me a painted pot for a moment. A thirst tired out me at all.
Vasylihka had found a magic painted pot in chambers, went dounstears into the dungeon. A young fellow quenched his thirst and immediately had become an athlete. He strongly pulled the chain and teared himself off the iron stub.
— Girl dear, give me also to drink from this painted pot, asked the next fellow.
Vasylinka was not greedy and gave him also some water. He drank, collected his forces, pulled the chain and teared himself off the iron stub.
— Girl dear. I'm also suffering from thirst. Let me drink from magic pot,— called the third boy.
Vasylinka helped him too. When they all three put the chains away from their hands the girl asked them:
— Don't you know, my brothers, where my sisters are?
— Your sisters are under this iron stub. Let us drink once more and you will see them.
Young fellows drank some water from the painted pot and rolled the iron stub into the corner. Under it there was an iron door. Vasylinka openеd it with the golden key and looked down. In a wet dungeon her sisters were sitting and bitterly crying. Youngsters went down and carried them away.
Vasylinka was so glad to meet them that she didn't hear the returning of Oldekwyth. He ran himself off his legs. He rushed to drink from the painted pot, but couldn't find it in his chambers. He lay down and had soundly fallen asleep in order at least to recover his forces in such a way.
Vasylinka locked all the doors in the palace with the golden keys, even those, where Oldekwith had been sleeping. She opened the iron gates and they all six rushed away.
Somewhat later they got to the dense forrest. Just immediately something had terribly buzzed.
— This is Oldekwith,— wispered Vasylinka in fear.
They drank some water from painted pot and ran more quickly. But is it possibly to run away from Oldekwyth? Under the large oaks they saw a hut on the hen's leg. It was turned to them by its front.
— Take the gold key and hide yourself in this hut,— said Vasylinka to the fellow who held Mariyka's hand. They entered the hut and locked the door behind themselves.
All the rest drank from the painted pot and ran futher. Oldekwyth, being beside himself with anger as he saw stars, asked the hut:
— Hadn't Mariyka with fellow hidden under your roof? The hut turned round itself and stood with its back wall in front of him.
— I would burnt you down but I'm lack of time now,— shouted Oldekwyth and rushed futher. Air buzzed and the earth was alike mouning.
But before fugitives from out of nowhere the hut on a duck leg appeared in a wav. Vasylinka looked at a boy, holding Gunnusya's hand and said:
— Take this golden key and hide yourself in this hut. This fellow took the key and they jumped into a hut. A minute later Oldekwyth was under its windows and asked:
— Tell me, the hut. Didn't Gannusya with her fellow call on you?
The hut turned on its duck leg and stood with its back wall in front of him.
— I would burnt you down but I'm lack of time now,— Oldekwyth shouted.
And Vasylinka with her fellow drank again from the painted pot and ran on of all their fources. It seemed, that the horrible storm flew through the forest.
Here, look! There on a glade the hut on a gooze leg stands. Vasylinka pulled the fellow after her and jumped into the hut with him. She locked the door with golden key and not a sound had been heard.
— Hut dear, tell me please, didn't Vasylinka with her fellow drop in?
The hut turned around and stood with its back wall in front of him.
— Wouldn't I be in an awfull hurry, I should burnt you down, hut. But now I have to catch them and drawn them in the sea.
Oldekwyth ran on and on until he appeared on the shore of the blue sea. He stopped there, looked around. But he had seen nobody anywhere. And at last he had burst from fierce.
And the sisters married those young fellows with whom they ran away. They lived a long life in their cottages, ammused their children and retold them a tale about magic pot.
Author: Ukrainian Folk Tale; illustrated by Kolesnikov A.
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