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Ukrainian folk tale
Translated by Irina Zheleznova
Illustrated by A.Bazilevich
There was once a man who had a dog named Sirko. The dog was very, very old, and one day his master drove him out of the house. Sirko went roaming the fields, and he felt very sad and woebegone.
"I served my master for so many years and watched over his house," said he to himself, "and now that I'm old and weak he grudges me even a crust of bread and has driven me out of the house."
He wandered on, thinking these thoughts, when all of a sudden who should come up to him but a Wolf.
"What are you doing, roaming about like that?" asked the Wolf.
"There's nothing else I can do, for my master has driven me out of the house," Sirko replied.
"I can help you if you like," the Wolf said. "If you do as I say, your master will take you back again."
"Please, please help me, my dear friend!" Sirko cried. "I will find a way to repay you for your kindness."
"Well, then, listen to me. Your master and mistress will soon go out to the fields to reap, and the mistress will leave her baby beside a stack of straw to sleep there while she is helping her husband. Now, you must stay close to the baby so I'll know where it is. I'll come running up and carry it off, and you must run after me and try to take it away. Then I'll pretend I ’m frightened and let it go."
The time to reap the wheat came, and the master and mistress went to the field. The mistress left her baby beside a straw stack and herself joined her husband and set to work. They were not at it very long when the Wolf ran up. He seized the baby and ran off with it across the field. Sirko ran after him, and his master cried:
"Catch him, Sirko!"
Sirko caught up with the Wolf, snatched the baby away from him, and brought it back to his master. And his master got out some bread and a piece of bacon from a sack and said:
"Here, Sirko, eat your fill! This is to thank you for saving our baby."
Evening came, the master and mistress went home, and they took Sirko with them. They went into the house, and the master said:
"Make us an extra dish of dumplings, wife, and don't spare the fat!"
The dumplings were soon ready, and the master seated Sirko at the table and sat down beside him.
"Serve the dumplings, wife!" said he. "We're going to have our supper."
The mistress set the dumplings on the table, and the master filled a dish full of them and gave the dish to Sirko. And he blew on them lest Sirko burn himself while he ate.
"This is all the Wolf's doing," said Sirko to himself. "I must repay him for his kindness."
Now, Sirko's master, who had waited till it was the season for eating meat, prepared to marry off his eldest daughter.
Sirko went out into the field, found the Wolf there and said to him:
"Come to our vegetable garden toward evening on Sunday. I will take you into the house and repay you for your kindness."
The Wolf waited till Sunday came round and went where Sirko had told him to.
Now, it was on that very day that the wedding was held. Sirko went outside, took the Wolf into the house and hid him under the table. Then he seized a bottle of vodka and a big piece of meat from the table and gave them to the Wolf. The guests wanted to beat Sirko, but the master stopped them.
"Do not touch Sirko!" he said. "He has done me a great service, and I will be kind to him always."
And Sirko took some of the best pieces from the table and gave them to the Wolf. So well did he feast him that the Wolf who had had too much to drink could not stop himself and said:
"I'm going to sing!"
"Please don't or you’ll get into trouble," Sirko begged. I'll give you some more vodka if only you promise to keep quiet."
He gave the Wolf another bottle of vodka, and the Wolf drained it dry.
"I'm going to sing no matter what you say!" he cried.
"Don’t do it or we'll both pay with our lives for it!" Sirko said.
"I can't help myself, I'm going to sing and that's the end of it!" the Wolf cried again, and he let out a terrific howl from under the table!
The guests jumped up in fright, they rushed hither and thither, and some of them wanted to beat up the Wolf. So then Sirko jumped on top of him and made as though he was about to kill him.
"Don’t touch the Wolf or you'll hurt Sirko!" the master said. "And don't you worry, he'll teach him a good lesson!"
Sirko took the Wolf to the field and said:
"You did me a kindness once, and now I have paid you back for it!"
They bade each other goodbye and went their separate ways.
Author: Ukrainian Folk Tale; illustrated by Bazilevich A.
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