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295 Ivan the Bull’s Son 137. In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a tsar and his tsaritsa. They had no children. They prayed to God to give them a child to gaze upon in youth and in old age to feed them. They prayed, lay down to sleep, and fell into a deep slumber. In their sleep, they dreamed that not far from the palace was a quiet pond, and in that pond a golden-finned ruff swam. If the tsaritsa were to eat it, she’d right away likely become pregnant. The tsar and tsaritsa woke up, summoned their nurses and nannies, and told them their dream. The nurses and nannies came to the conclusion that what was seen in a dream could take place in the waking world. The tsar summoned fishermen and gave them strict orders to catch that golden-finned ruff. At daybreak, the fishermen went to the quiet pond, cast their nets, and to their good fortune in the first cast they caught the golden-finned ruff. They took it out and brought it to the palace . When the tsaritsa saw it, she couldn’t sit still, ran over to the fishermen , took them by the hand, and gave them much treasure. Afterward she summoned her favorite cook and handed the golden-finned ruff over into her very hands.“So now, prepare this for dinner, and don’t let anyone come close to touching it!” The cook cleaned the fish, washed it, and cooked it. The rinsing water she left outside. A cow was wandering about and drank that water. The tsaritsa ate the fish, and the cook licked the plate. And all three got pregnant at once: the tsaritsa, her favorite cook, and the cow. And they all delivered at one and the same time—three sons. The tsaritsa gave birth to Ivan Tsarevich, the cook to Ivan the cook’s son, and the cow to Ivan the bull’s son. Those kids grew not by the days, but by the hours, like a good dough rises on leaven. They just stretched straight up. All three lads were alike in their faces, and it was impossible to tell which of them was the royal child, which the cook’s, and which had been born of the cow. There was only one thing that distinguished them: When they returned from an outing, Ivan Tsarevich asked to change his linens, the cook’s son wangled it to get something to eat, and Ivan the cow’s son went straightaway to 296 h Ivan the Bull’s Son lie down and rest. After their tenth year, they came to the tsar and said, “Gracious Batiushka! Give us an iron club weighing fifty poods.” The tsar ordered his blacksmiths to make the fifty-pood club. They set right to work, and in a week the club was ready. Nobody could lift even an edge of the club but Ivan Tsarevich, Ivan the cook’s son, and Ivan Bykovich all twirled it between their fingers as if it were a goose feather. They went out into the broad royal courtyard. “Well, brothers,” said Ivan Tsarevich. “Let’s test our strength. We’ll see who’ll be the senior brother.”“All right,” replied Ivan Bykovich.“Take the club and beat us on the shoulders.” Ivan Tsarevich took the iron cub and hit Ivan the cook’s son and Ivan Bykovich on the shoulders, and drove them into the ground up to their knees. Ivan the cook’s son struck and drove Ivan Tsarevich and Ivan Bykovich into the ground up to their chests. So Ivan Bykovich struck and drove both brothers in up to their necks. The tsarevich said,“Let’s try our strength again.We’ll toss this iron club up in the air.Whoever throws it highest will be our senior brother.” Ivan Tsarevich threw it, and the club fell back down in a quarter of an hour. Ivan the cook’s son threw it, and the club fell down in half an hour. So Ivan Bykovich threw it, and it didn’t come down for an hour!“Well, Ivan Bykovich, you’ll be our senior brother.” After that, they went walking in the garden and came upon an enormous stone.“Oh, what a stone! Can anyone move it from its place?” said Ivan Tsarevich. And he put his arms around it and tried and tried, but no, he didn’t...


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