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304 Ivan the Peasant’s Son and the Little Man the Size of a Finger with Moustaches Seven Versts Long 138. In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a tsar. In this tsar’s courtyard, there stood a column, and on this column were three rings: one gold, one silver, and the third copper. One night the tsar dreamed this dream: It was as if a horse was tied to a golden ring, and every hair on it was silver, and on its forehead shone a moon. In the morning , he got up and sent out a call: He’d marry his daughter to whoever could decipher this dream and get the horse for him, and he’d give half the tsardom as a dowry. A host of princes, boyars, and all sorts of gentlemen gathered at the royal call, but no one could interpret the dream, no one would even try to get that horse. Finally, they reported to the tsar that some poor old man had a son, Ivan, who could interpret the dream and thus get the horse. The tsar summoned him. They called in Ivan. The tsar asked him, “Can you tell me the meaning of my dream and also get the horse for me?” Ivan answered, “First, tell me your dream, and what sort of horse it is that you need.” The tsar said,“Last night I dreamed that in my courtyard there was this golden ring, and tied to it was a horse, and every hair on it was silver, and on its forehead shone a moon.”“That was no dream, that was fact, because last night a twelve-headed serpent came to you on that horse and tried to steal your tsarevna and daughter.”“And can you get hold of that horse?” Ivan answered,“It can be done, but only when I’ve reached my fifteenth year.” Right then Ivan was only twelve years old. The tsar brought him into the palace, fed him, and gave him something to drink until he was fifteen. Then, when Ivan had passed his fifteenth birthday, he said to the tsar,“Give me a horse, Sovereign, on which I can ride to the place where the serpent lives.” The tsar led him to the stables and showed him all his horses, but he couldn’t take even one on account of his strength and weight.Whenever he laid his bogatyr’s hand on a horse, that horse would fall down. And so he said to the tsar,“Let me go into the open steppe to search for a horse up to my strength.” The tsar let him go. Ivan the Peasant’s Son and the Little Man the Size of a Finger h 305 For three years, Ivan the peasant’s son searched, but nowhere could he find a horse. He was returning in tears to the tsar, but along the way he met an old man who asked him,“Why are you crying, lad?” He replied to the question rudely and simply chased the old man away. The old man said,“Watch out, young man, and don’t forget me!” Ivan went off a little way from the old man and thought to himself: “Why did I offend that old man? The old folks know a lot.” He went back, caught up to the old man, fell at his feet, and said,“Grandfather, forgive me, I offended you in my own grief. Here’s why I’m crying: For three years, I’ve been wandering over the steppe and seen many herds of horses, but nowhere have I found myself a horse.” The old man replied,“Go to such and such a village, and there in a certain peasant’s stables is a mare, and that mare has just delivered of a mangy colt.Take it and raise it up. It will be up to your strength.” Ivan bowed to the old man and went to the village. He went straight up to the peasant in the stables, saw the mare with the mangy colt, and placed his hand on the colt. The colt didn’t give a bit! He took it from the peasant, fed it for a certain time, came to the tsar, and told him that he’d got himself a horse. Then he got ready to go do battle with the serpent. The tsar asked him,“Ivan the peasant’s son, what force do you need?” Ivan...


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