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180 Baba Yaga and the Midget 105. There lived and dwelt this old man and old woman. They had no children . No matter what they did, however much they prayed to God, the old woman still bore no child. Once the old man went into the woods hunting for mushrooms. Along the way, he encountered an old grandfather .“I know,” he said,“I know what you have in your thoughts.You keep on thinking about children. Go throughout your village and collect an egg from every household, and put the eggs to a setting hen. What will happen you’ll see for yourself!” The old man returned to the village. In that village there were fortyone households. He went to each household and collected an egg from each, and set a hen on the forty-one eggs. Two weeks passed, and the old man looked and the old woman looked too—from each of those eggs a little boy was born. Forty of them were strong and healthy, but the fortyfirst had no such luck: He was skinny and weak! The old man gave out names to the boys. He gave them to each, but he didn’t have a name for the last one.“Well,” he said.“Let him be Midget.” The old folks’ children grew, they grew not by the day, but by the hour. They grew up and went to work, helping their father and mother. The forty boys helped in the field, but Midget took charge of the house. Haymowing season came. The brothers cut the grass, put up the stacks, working out there about a week, and then they returned to the village. They ate and lay down to sleep. The old man looked and said,“Greenhorns! They eat a lot, sleep soundly, but when it comes right down to it, nothing gets done.”“You should take a look first, Father!” Midget responded. The old man got dressed and set out for the meadows. He looked: There were forty haystacks.“Oh, you good lads! So much hay you’ve cut and stacked in a week!” The next day, the old man also decided to go to the meadows. He wanted to admire his good fortune. He rode out there, and one haystack was missing! He came back home and said,“Oh, children! One haystack has disappeared.”“Never mind, Father,” replied Midget.“We’ll catch the thief. Give me a hundred rubles, and I’ll do the deed.” He took a hundred rubles from his father and went to the blacksmith. Baba Yaga and the Midget  h 181 “Can you forge me a chain that would encircle a person from head to toe?” “Why not?” “But look now, you make it even stronger. If the chain holds, I’ll give you the hundred rubles, but if it breaks, your work will be in vain.” The smith forged an iron chain. Midget wrapped it around himself, yanked on it, and it broke. The smith made one twice as strong. That one worked just fine. Midget took the chain, paid him the hundred rubles, and went off to guard the hay. He sat down by a stack and waited. At midnight a storm got up, the sea heaved, and from out of the sea’s depths there came a wondrous mare. She ran to the first stack and started chomping down the hay. Midget leapt up, threw the iron chain around her, and got on. The mare began bucking, carrying him through the valleys and over the hills, but she wasn’t able to knock the rider off! She stopped and said to him,“Well, young lad, since you’ve managed to ride me, take and possess my colts.” The mare ran up to the deep blue sea and neighed loudly. The sea heaved, and forty-one colts came out onto the shore, each horse better than the other. Go right round the world, you’d never find such! The next morning, the old man heard this whinnying and stomping of feet. What could it be? And then his son Midget drove in an entire herd of horses.“Greetings, brothers!” he said.“Now each of us will have a horse. Let’s go off looking for brides.”“Let’s go!”Their father and mother blessed them, and the brothers rode off on the long and distant way. They rode for a long time over the wide earth, but where would they find so many brides? They didn’t...


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