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284 Storm-Bogatyr, Ivan the Cow’s Son 136. In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a king with his queen. They had no children, though they had lived together for up to ten years. So then the tsar sent out word to all the tsars, to all the cities , to all peoples, even to the common folk: Who was there who could cure her so that the queen became pregnant? The princes and the boyars, rich merchants and peasants gathered. The king fed them to their fill, got them all drunk, and then began his querying. No one knew, no one had a clue. No one would take it upon himself to say by what means the queen might bear fruit, except for one peasant’s son. The king went to his treasury and handed him a full fistful of gold coins and indicated a time of three days. So now then, the peasant’s son had taken this on himself. And what’s to be said—he’d never even dreamed about it. He left the city and pondered it hard. He met an old woman: “Tell me, oh son of a peasant, what are you pondering?” He answered her: “Be quiet, you old crone, don’t bother me!” But she ran on ahead and said,“Tell me your deepest thoughts. I’m an old person, and I know everything.” He thought: Why was I so rude to her? Perhaps she does know.“Well, Granny, I’ve taken it upon myself to tell the king how his queen might bear fruit, but I myself don’t know!” “Aha! But I know. Go to the king and tell him to have three silk nets woven. In that sea that’s beneath the window is a gold-finned pike, and it always swims just opposite the palace.When the king catches it and has it cooked, and when the queen eats it, then she’ll bear a child.” The peasant’s son went himself to fish in the sea. He cast the three silk nets, a pike leapt up and tore all three nets. He cast them a second time—and once more they were torn. The peasant’s son removed his belt and the silk kerchief from his neck, tied the nets together, and cast them a third time, and he caught the gold-finned pike. He was incredibly happy as he took it and carried it to the king. The king ordered the pike washed, cleaned, roasted, and given to the queen. The cooks cleaned and washed it, and poured the wash water out the window. A cow came and drank that wastewater. As soon as the cooks had roasted the pike, a servant girl Storm-Bogatyr, Ivan the Cow’s Son h 285 ran in, placed it on a platter, went off with it to the queen. But on the way, she tore off a fin and tried it. All three got pregnant the same day at the same hour: the cow, the servant girl, and the queen. Soon a tale is told; not so soon is the deed done. After a little time, the girl who tended the cows came to the king from the barnyard and reported to the king that the cow had given birth to a human child. The king was greatly surprised. He’d hardly had time to digest these words, when they came running to tell him that the servant girl had given birth to a little boy exactly like the cow’s child. And right after, that they came to report that the queen had given birth to a son exactly like the cow’s— the same voice and the same hair. What wondrous little boys had been born! Usually a child grows by the year, but these grew by the hour.What one would grow in a year, they grew in an hour.What one usually grew in three years, they grew in three hours. They came of age and felt in themselves a mighty, bogatyr’s strength. They went to their father and king, and asked for permission to visit the town, to look at people, and show themselves off. He permitted them, only ordering that they play quietly and peacefully, and he gave them as much money as they could take. So those good lads set off. One was called Ivan Tsarevich, the second Ivan the maid’s son, and the third...


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