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A Ukrainian Fairy Tale

Pea-Roll Along

Pea-Roll Along

Translated by
Illustrated by V.Gluzdov

There once lived a man who had six sons and one daughter, Olenka by name. One day the sons went out to plough and they told their sister to bring them their dinner to the field.

"How will I find you there" Olenka asked.

Said the brothers:

"We will dig a furrow stretching from the hut to the patch we will be ploughing. You will find us if you follow it."

And with that they drove away.

Now, in the forest beyond the field there lived a Dragon, and he came and filled in the furrow the brothers had made with earth and made a furrow of his own, which led to the door of his house. And when Olenka went to take her brothers' dinner to them she followed it, walked straight into the Dragon's courtyard, and was at once seized by the Dragon.

Pea-Roll Along

In the evening the brothers came home and they said to their mother:

"We were ploughing all day. Why didn't you send us anything to eat?"

"But I did!" the mother replied. "I sent Olenka to the field with your dinner, and I thought she would be coming back with you. She must have lost her way."

"We must go and look for her," the brothers said.

They set out at once, all six of them, and followed the Dragon's furrow to his courtyard. They came in through the gate, and there was their sister running out to meet them.

"Oh, my brothers, my dear brothers, where will I hide you?" Olenka cried. "The Dragon is out now, but he will eat you up when he comes back!"

And lo! — there was the Dragon flying toward them and hissing like the serpent he was.

"I smell a man, I smell many men!" called he. "Well, now, my lads, is it to fight me you have come or to make peace with me?"

"To fight you!" they called back.

"Very well, then, let us go to the iron threshing floor."

They went to the iron threshing floor, but they did not fight long. For the Dragon struck them once and drove them into the floor. Then he pulled them out, more dead than alive, and threw them into a deep dungeon.

Pea-Roll Along

The mother and father waited for their sons to return, but they waited in vain.

One day the mother went to the river with her washing. She looked, and there, rolling toward her along the road, she saw a tiny pea. She picked it up and ate it, and in due time a son was born to her and they called him Pokati-Goroshek or Pea-Roll Along.

Pea-Roll Along grew very fast, he grew and he grew, and though young in years, was big and strong.

One day his father and he were digging a well, and their spades struck a stone, it was a huge stone, and the father went to call his neighbours to help him lift it. But Pea-Roll Along had lifted it and thrown it out by himself before he was back. The neighbours came and looked and were amazed and frightened too, for they saw that Pea-Roll Along was much stronger than any of them. Indeed, so frightened were they that they wanted to kill him. But Pea-Roll Along tossed the stone up into the air and then caught it, and, seeing this feat of strength, they ran away.

The father and son went on digging. They dug till their spades struck a huge piece of iron, and Pea-Roll Along lifted it out and hid it.

Some time passed, and one day Pea-Roll Along asked his parents if it was true that he had six brothers and a sister.

"Indeed it is, son," the parents said. "But they went away once and never returned." And they told him the whole story.

"I will go in search of them," said Pea-Roll Along.

The mother and father began pleading with him not to.

"Don't do it, son," they said. "Your brothers went to seek your sister, and all six of them perished, and you, all alone as you are, will fare no better."

"No, no, I will!" said Pea-Roll Along, "They are my own flesh and blood and I must find out what happened to them."

And he took the piece of iron he had found to the blacksmith. "Forge me a sword, and the bigger it will be the better!" said he. And the blacksmith forged him a sword so large and heavy that it was as much as anyone could do to carry it out of his shop. But Pea-Roll Along lifted it easily and hurled it high into the air.

Pea-Roll Along

"I will now have a sleep," said he to his father. "Wake me in twelve days' time, when the sword comes flying back."

He went to bed and slept for twelve days, and on the thirteenth day the sword came flying back, making a humming sound as it flew. The father woke him, Pea-Roll Along sprang up and held up a finger, and the sword struck it and split in two.

"I cannot go to seek my brothers and sister with so poor a sword," said Pea-Roll Along, "I must have another."

And picking up the broken sword, he took it to the blacksmith, "Forge me a new sword out of this one," said he. "Make one to suit a man as strong as I!"

Pea-Roll Along

The blacksmith forged him a sword that was even bigger than the first, and Pea-Roll Along flung it high into the air and then went to bed and slept for another twelve days. On the thirteenth day the sword came flying hack, humming as it flew and making the earth quake and tremble. The mother and father woke Pea-Roll Along who sprang to his feet and held up a finger, and the sword struck it but did not break and only bent a little.

"Here is a good sword indeed!" said Pea-Roll Along. "Now I can go to seek my brothers and sister. Bake me some bread, Mother, and make some rusks, and I will set out on my way."

He took his sword and a bagful of rusks, and, bidding his mother and father goodbye, set forth from home.

He followed the Dragon's old furrow, which was barely to be seen, and was soon deep in the forest, and he walked on and on till he came to a fenced-in courtyard that surrounded a large house. He walked into the yard and on into the house, and he found his sister Olenka there.

"Good morning, lass!" said Pea-Roll Along, who didn't know it was his sister.

"Good morning to you, good youth! Why have you come here The Dragon is out, but lie will soon be back and will eat you up," Olenka said.

"We shall see! Perhaps he won't. But who are you, lass, and why are you here?"

"I used to live with my mother and father, but the Dragon carried me off, and though my six brothers tried to free me, they did not succeed."

"Where are your brothers" Pea-Roll Along asked.

"The Dragon threw them into a dungeon, and I do not know if they are alive or dead."

"Perhaps I can free you," said Pea-Roll Along.

"My brothers, and there were six of them, could not do it, so how can you!"

"We shall see what we shall see!" said Pea-Roll Along.

And he sat down by a window and waited.

By and by the Dragon came flying back. He flew into the house and he twitched his nose.

"I smell a man!" cried he.

"Of course you do, for here I am!" said Pea-Roll Along, coming forward.

"And what brings you here, my lad? Do you want to fight me or to make peace with me?"

"To fight you!" Pea-Roll Along cried.

"Well, then let us go to the iron threshing floor."


They came to the iron threshing floor, and the Dragon faced Pea-Roll Along.

"You strike first," he said.

"No, you do!" said Pea-Roll Along.

They crossed swords, and the Dragon struck Pea-Roll Along such a blow that he sank ankle-deep into the iron threshing floor. But Pea-Roll Along was out again in a flash and he brandished his sword and gave the Dragon an answering blow that drove him knee-deep into the iron threshing floor. The Dragon heaved himself out and he again came at Pea-Roll Along and drove him as deep into the floor as he had just been driven himself. But Pea-Roll Along was not one to be frightened, and he struck the Dragon a blow which drove him waist-deep into the floor, and then another that killed him on the spot.

Pea-Roll Along

He then made his way to the dungeon, freed his brothers who were more dead than alive, and, taking them and his sister Olenka with him and all the gold and silver in the Dragon's house, too, set out for home. But he never told them that he was their brother.

Whether they were long on the way or not nobody knows, hut by and by they sat down for a rest under an oak-tree, and so tired was Pea-Roll Along after his battle that he fell fast asleep. And his six brothers talked it all over among themselves and said:

"People will laugh at us when they learn that the six of us could not do away with the Dragon while this young lad here did it all by himself. And he will get all the Dragon's riches besides."

And they decided to bind Pea-Roll Along while he was asleep and helpless to the oak-tree and leave him there to be devoured by wild beasts.

No sooner said than done. They bound Pea-Roll Along to the tree, left him there and went away.

And Pea-Roll Along slept on and felt nothing. He slept for a day and he slept for a night, and he woke to find himself bound to the oak-tree. But he jerked and heaved, and lo! — out came the tree, roots and all, from the ground, and Pea-Roll Along threw it over his shoulder and went home. He came up to the house and he heard his brothers talking to their mother.

"Did you have any more children, Mother, after we left home?" they asked her.

"Yes, indeed!" the mother replied. "I had a son, Pea-Roll Along by name, who went off to seek you."

"Then it must have been he we bound to the oak-tree! We had better go back at once and untie him!" the brothers said.

But Pea-Roll Along brandished the oak he was carrying and struck the roof of the hut so hard with it that the hut all but crumbled to the ground.

"Stay where you are since you are what you are and no better, my brothers!" he cried. "I will go off by myself and roam the wide world."

And he shouldered his sword and set out on his way.

On and on he walked and he saw two mountains ahead of him. Between them stood a man who had his hands and his feet set against them and was trying to push them apart.

Pea-Roll Along

"Good morning, friend!" Pea-Roll Along called out.

"Good morning to you!" the man replied.

"What are you doing?"

"Moving the mountains apart to make a path."

"Where are you going?"

"To see the world and make my fortune."

"I am out to do the same! What is your name?"

"Move-Mountain. What's yours?"

"Pea-Roll Along. Let's go together!"


They went along together, they walked and they walked, and they saw a man in the forest who was pulling out oak-trees by their roots. And he had only to give a tree one twist, and out it camel.

Pea-Roll Along

"Good morning, friend!" called Pea-Roll Along and Move-Mountain.

"Good morning to you, my lads!" the man called back.

"What are you doing?"

"Uprooting trees in order to make a path."

"Where are you going?"

"To seek my fortune."

"We are out to do the same. What's your name?"

"Twist-Oak. What are yours?"

"Pea-Roll Along and Move-Mountain. Let's go together!"


So the three of them went on together. They walked and they walked, and by and by they saw a man sitting on the bank of a river. The man had the longest of long whiskers, and he had only to twirl one of them for the waters to part and roll away, leaving a path and thus enabling all who wanted to to walk over the river bed.

Pea-Roll Along

"Good morning, friend!" they called to him.

"Good morning to you, my lads!"

"What are you doing?"

"Parting the waters in order to cross the river."

"Where ate you going?"

"To seek my fortune."

"We are out to do the same. What's your name?"

"Twirl-Whisker. What are yours?"

"Pea-Roll Along, Move-Mountain and Twist-Oak. Let's go together!"


They went on together and had an easy time of it, for Move-Mountain moved aside every mountain, Twist-Oak uprooted every forest and Twirl-Whisker parted the waters of every river that lay in their path.

Pea-Roll Along

They walked and they walked, and they came to a small hut standing in the middle of a large forest. They stepped inside, and — would you believe it — there was no one there.

"Here's where we will spend the night," said Pea-Roll Along.

They spent the night in the hut, and in the morning Pea-Roll Along said:

"You stay at home, Move-Mountain, and cook our dinner for us, and we three will go hunting."

They went away, and Move-Mountain cooked a big dinner and lay down for a sleep. Suddenly there came a rap at the door: rap-tap-tap!

"Open the door!" someone called.

"Tm no servant of yours to open doors!" Move-Mountain called back. The door opened, and the same voice called again:

"Carry me over the threshold!"

"You're no lord of mine, so don't wail or whine!" Move-Mountain called back.

And lo! — there climbed over the threshold the tiniest old man that ever was seen, with a beard so long that it trailed over the floor. The little old man caught Move-Mountain by the hair and hung him on a nail on the wall.

Pea-Roll Along

Then he ate all there was to eat and drank all there was to drink, and, after cutting a long strip of skin from Move-Mountain's back, went away.

Pea-Roll Along

Move-Mountain twisted and turned on the nail till he broke loose, and then he set to work cooking dinner anew. He was still at it when his friends returned.

"Why are you so late getting dinner?" they asked.

"I dozed off and forgot all about it." said Move-Mountain.

They are their fill and went to bed, and on the following morning Pea-Roll Along said:

"Now you stay at home, Twist-Oak, and the rest of us will go hunting."

They went away, and Twist-Oak cooked a big dinner and lay down for a sleep. Suddenly there came a rap at the door: rap-tap-tap!

"Open the door!" a voice called.

"I'm no servant of yours to open doors!" Twist-Oak called back.

"Carry me over the threshold!" the same voice called again.

"You're no lord of mine, so don't wail or whine!" Twist-Oak replied.

And lo! — there climbed over the threshold and stepped into the hut the tiniest old man that ever was seen, with a beard so long that it trailed over the floor. He caught Twist-Oak by the hair and hung him on a nail, and then he ate all there was to eat and drank all there was to drink, and, after cutting a long strip of skin from Twist-Oak's back, went away.

Twist-Oak twisted and turned this way and that till he succeeded in breaking free, and then he at once set to work cooking dinner anew.

He was still at it when his friends returned.

"Why are you so late getting dinner?" they asked.

"I dozed off and only woke a little while ago," said Twist-Oak.

But Move-Mountain said nothing, for he knew what had happened.

On the third day Twirl-Whisker was the one to remain at home, and the same thing happened to him.

Said Pea -Roll Along:

"You are indeed slow getting dinner, all three of you! Tomorrow you'll go hunting, and I'll stay home."

Morning came, and Pea-Roll Along remained at home while his three friends went hunting. He cooked a big dinner, and just as he lay down for a sleep there came a rap at the door: rap-tap-tap.

"Open the door!" someone called.

Pea-Roll Along opened the door, and there before him was the tiniest old man that ever lived, with a beard so long that it trailed over the floor.

"Carry me over the threshold, my lad!" said the little old man.

Pea-Roll Along picked him up, carried him into the hut, and set him down on the floor, and the little old man began dancing round and round and taking little flying jumps at him.

"What do you want?" asked Pea-Roll Along.

"You'll soon see what I want!" said the little old man, and, stretching out his hand, he was about to seize Pea-Roll Along by the hair, but Pea-Roll Along cried out: "Ah, that's the sort you are!" and caught him by the beard instead.

Then, taking an axe, he dragged the little old man to an oak-tree, split the oak-tree in two and thrust the little old man's heard into the cleft, pinning it fast.

"You were mean enough to try and catch me by the hair," said he to the little old man, "so now you'll have to stay here till I return."

He went back to the hut, and he found his three friends waiting for him there.

"Is dinner ready?" they asked.

"Yes, it's been ready and waiting a long time," Pea-Roll Along replied.

They sat down and began eating, and after they had finished Pea-Roll Along said:

"Come with me and I will show you a most unusual sight!"

He led them outside, but, oddly enough, there was no oak-tree there and no little old man, either. For the little old man had pulled out the oak-tree by the roots and dragged it away with him.

Pea-Roll Along

Pea-Roll Along then told his friends of all that had happened to him, and they, on their part, confessed that the little old man had had them hanging from a nail and had cut strips of skin from their backs.

"He's a wicked old thing, the little old man is, and we had better go and find him," said Pea-Roll Along.

Now, the little old man had been dragging the oak-tree and had left a trail they found easy to follow, and it led them to a hole in the ground so deep that it seemed bottomles.

Pea-Roll Along turned to Move-Mountain:

"Climb down the hole, Move-Mountain!" he said.

"Not I!" answered Move-Mountain.

"How about you, Twist-Oak, or you, Twirl-Whisker?"

But neither Twist-Oak nor Twirl-Whisker would risk climbing down the hole.

"Very well, then I'll do it!" said Pea-Roll Along. "Let's plait a rope!"

They plaited a rope, and Pea-Roll Along wound one end of it round his hand.

"Now let me down!" he said.

They began letting him down, and it took them a long time, for so deep was the hole that to reach its bottom was like trying to reach the nether world. But they got him down at last, and Pea-Roll Along set out to explore the place. On and on he walked, and there before him was a huge palace. He came inside, and everything there sparkled and shone, for the palace was made of gold and precious stones. He passed from chamber to chamber, and all of a sudden who should come running toward him but a princess, and so beautiful was she that no pen could describe her and no tongue sing her praises.

Pea-Roll Along

"What brings you here, good youth?" she asked.

"I am looking for a little old man with a beard that trails over the ground," said Pea-Roll Along.

"Ah," said she, "the little old man has got his beard stuck in the cleft of an oak-tree and is trying to pull it out. Don't go to him or he will kill you as he did many others before you."

"He won't kill me," said Pea-Roll Along. "It was I who stuck his beard in the cleft. But who are you and what are you doing here?"

"I am a princess and the daughter of a king. The little old man carried me off and is keeping me captive here," the princess said.

"I will free you, never fear! Just take me to him."

The princess led Pea-Roll Along to the little old man, and lo! — there he sat, stroking his heard which he had pulled out of the cleft. At the sight of Pea-Roll Along the little old man turned red with anger.

"What brings you here — have you come to fight me or to make peace with me" he asked.

"I am here to fight you!" said Pea-Roll Along, "Do you think I would make peace with the likes of you?"

They crossed swords then, and they fought long and fiercely till at last Pea-Roll Along struck the little old man hard and killed him.

Pea-Roll Along

After that Pea-Roll Along and the princess took all the gold and gems they could find in the palace, and, filling three sacks full of them, made for the hole down which Pea-Roll Along had climbed into the underground kingdom.

Pea-Roll Along

They came to it soon enough and Pea-Roll Along began calling to his friends.

"Are you still there, my brothers?" he cried.

"We are!" came the reply.

Pea-Roll Along tied one of the sacks to the rope.

"Pull it up, brothers!" he cried again. "The sack is yours!"

They pulled up the sack and let down the rope, and Pea-Roll Along tied the second sack to it.

"Pull it up! This one is yours too!" he called.

He sent up the third sack as well, and then he tied the princess to the rope.

"The princess is mine!" he called.

The three friends pulled out the princess, and now only Pea-Roll Along was left at the bottom of the hole.

"Let's pull him up a little way and then let go of the rope," said they. "He will be killed, and the princess will be ours."

Rut Pea-Roll Along guessed what they were up to and tied a large stone to the rope.

"Now pull me up!" he called.

They pulled up the rope and then let go of it, and down came the stone with a crash!

Pea-Roll Along

"A fine lot of friends I have!" said Pea-Roll Along, and he set out to roam the kingdom at the bottom of the hole. On and on he walked, and all of a sudden the sky became overcast and the rain came down, and hail, too. Pea-Roll Along hid under an oak-tree, and as he stood there he heard the chirping of baby eagles coming from a nest at the top of the tree. He climbed the tree, and, taking off his coat, covered the eagles with it.

The rain stopped, and a huge eagle, the nestlings' father, came flying.

"Who was it that covered you, my little ones?" asked he.

"We'll tell you if you promise not to eat him up," said the nestlings.

"Never fear, I won't!"

"Well, do you see that man sitting under the tree It was he who did it."

The eagle flew down from the tree.

"Ask of me whatever you want, and I will do it," said he to Pea-Roll Along. "This is the first time that none of my children has drowned in such a downpour, with me away."

Pea-Roll Along

"Take me to my own kingdom," said Pea-Roll Along.

"That is not easy to do, but if we take six barrels of meat and six of water with us I may be able to do it," the eagle said. "Every time I turn my head to the right you will throw a piece of meat into my mouth, and every time I turn it to the left you will give me a sip of water. If you don't do it we'll never get there, for I'll die on the way."

They took six barrels of meat and six of water, Pea-Roll Along put them on the eagle's back and climbed on himself, and away they flewd And whenever the eagle turned his head to the right, Pea-Roll Along would put some meat into his mouth, and whenever he turned it to the left he would give him a sip of water

They flew for a long time and had nearly reached Pea-Roll Along's kingdom when the eagle turned his head to the right again. Pea-Roll Along looked into the barrel, the last of the six, and, seeing that there was not a scrap of meat left there, he cut off a piece of his own leg and gave it to him.

Pea-Roll Along

"What was it I just ate?" the eagle asked. "It was very good."

"A piece of my own flesh," Pea-Roll Along replied, pointing to his leg.

The eagle said nothing, but he spat out the piece of meat, and, leaving Pea-Roll Along to wait for him, flew off to fetch some living water. He was back with it before long, and no sooner had they put the piece that he had cut off to Pea-Roll Along's leg and sprinkled it with the water than it grew fast to it again.

After that the eagle flew home, and Pea-Roll Along went to seek his three faithless friends.

Now, the three had made their way to the palace of the princess's father, and were now living there and quarrelling among themselves, for each wanted to marry the princess and would not give her up to the others.

Pea-Roll Along

It was there that Pea-Roll Along found them, and when they saw him they turned white with fright.

Said Pea-Roll Along:

"My own brothers betrayed me, so what can I ask of you! I think I'll have to forgive you."

And forgive them he did.

Soon after that he married the princess and the two of them lived happily together ever after.

Pea-Roll Along

Author: Ukrainian Folk Tale; illustrated by Gluzdov V.

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