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309 Ivan Suchenko and the Belyi Polianin1 139. This tale begins from the gray, from the brown, from the magic steed. On the sea, on the ocean, on the island of Buian, there stands a roasted ox, and next to it a strung bow. And three lads were walking, and they dropped in and breakfasted and then went on farther, boasting away and amusing themselves: “We, brothers, were at such and such a place. We ate more than a village woman’s dough!” That’s the pre-tale, the tale will follow. In a certain tsardom, in a certain land, there lived and dwelt a tsar in a flat place, just like a tablecloth. And from birth he’d had no children. A beggar came to him. The tsar queried him:“Do you not know what I need to do so that I have children?” He replied,“Gather all the seven-year old boys and girls, and have the girls spin and the boys weave a net in one night. Tell them to catch in the net a gold-finned bream in the sea, and give it to the tsaritsa to eat.” So they caught the gold-finned bream and handed it over to the kitchen to fry. The cook cleaned and washed the bream, tossed the innards to the dog, and the rinsing water she gave to three mares to drink. She herself swallowed the bones, and the tsaritsa ate the fish. These were all born at once: the tsaritsa, a son; the cook, a son; the dog, a son; and the three mares gave birth to three colts. The tsar gave them all names: Little tsar Ivan, Little cook Ivan, and Ivan Suchenko, the son of the bitch. They grew apace, did the good lads, not by the days and not by the hours, but by the minutes. They grew large, and Ivan Suchenko sent Ivan Tsarevich to the tsar:“Go and ask the tsar to let us saddle up those three horses that the mares bore, and then let us ride about the town and prance and strut.” The tsar gave his permission. They saddled the horses and rode out of town, and began talking among themselves: “What do we have to live on here with batiushka, the tsar? It’d be better to go to some foreign lands!” So they bought some iron and had clubs made for themselves, each club weighing ten poods, and they drove their horses on. 1.  The White Spirit of the Steppe. 310 h Ivan Suchenko and the Belyi Polianin A little later, Ivan Suchenko said,“Brothers, how can we keep to the road, when we don’t have a senior or junior brother?” The little tsar said that his tsar had made him senior, and Ivan Suchenko said it was he— that they’d have to test their strength by throwing an arrow. So, one after the other they threw their arrows. First the little tsar went, then the little cook Ivan, and finally Ivan Suchenko. They rode neither far nor near, and there lay the little tsar’s arrow. And a little farther, the little cook’s fell down, but Suchenko’s was nowhere to be seen! They rode on and on, and rode beyond the thrice-nine tsardom into the thrice-ten tsardom, a foreign land, and there lay Suchenko’s arrow. So then it was decided: The little tsar would be the junior brother, the cook’s son the middle one, and Suchenko the most senior. And then they set forth on the road again. The steppe stretched out before them, and in that steppe was a tent, destroyed. Next to the tent stood a horse eating spring wheat and drinking sweetened water. Ivan Suchenko sent Ivan Tsarevich over:“Go and find out who’s in the tent.” So the little tsar came to the tent, and there on a bed lay the white spirit of the steppe, the Belyi Polianin. And Belyi Polianin hit him on his forehead with his little finger and tossed him under the bed. Suchenko waited and waited, but then could wait no more. He ran there himself and struck Belyi Polianin just once—and knocked his eyes out! After that he carried him out of the tent. A fresh breeze was blowing. Belyi Polianin came to, and begged, “Don’t kill me! Take me on as your most junior brother.” Ivan Suchenko had mercy on him. So all four brothers saddled...


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