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381 Koshchei the Deathless 156. In a certain tsardom, in a certain country, there lived and dwelt a tsar. And this tsar had three sons, all of whom had come of age. Only suddenly , Kosh the Deathless carried off their mother. The oldest son asked his father’s blessing to go in search of the mother. The father blessed him, and he rode away and disappeared without a trace. The middle son waited and waited, and then asked for the same thing from his father. He rode away, and he, too, disappeared without a trace. The little son, Ivan Tsarevich, said to his father,“Father! Bless me to go in search of mother.” His father wouldn’t let him go, and said,“Your brothers are gone, and if you go away, I’ll die of grief!”“No, Father, bless me and I’ll go. But if you won’t bless me, I’ll still go.” His father blessed him. Ivan Tsarevich set off to choose a horse for himself.Whichever one he laid a hand on fell down. He couldn’t select a horse, so he set off through the town, hanging his head. Out of nowhere there appeared an old woman who asked him, “Why are you hanging your head, Ivan Tsarevich?” “Go away, old woman! I’ll lay a hand on you and smash it with the other, and there’ll be just a damp spot.” The old woman ran around by another alleyway and once more came to meet him.And she said,“Greetings, Ivan Tsarevich! Why are you hanging your head?” And he thought,“Why is this old woman asking me this? Will she perhaps help me?” So he said to her,“Well, Granny, I can’t find a good horse for myself.” “You silly little fool! You’re tormenting yourself and bothering an old woman!” answered the old woman. “Come with me!” She led him to a mountain and pointed out the place:“Dig out the earth here.” Ivan Tsarevich dug and saw an iron slab with twelve locks. He right away tore off the locks and opened the doors and entered the underworld. There stood a bogatyr’s horse chained by twelve chains. The horse apparently had heard its rider and whinnied, struggled and broke all twelve chains. Ivan Tsarevich put on his warrior’s armor, put a bridle on the horse, a Cherkass saddle, gave the old woman some money, and said, “Bless me and farewell, Granny!” He mounted up and rode off. He rode for a long time and finally rode up to a mountain. It was an enormous mountain, steep, and riding up it was impossible. And his 382 h Koshchei the Deathless brothers were riding along next to the mountain. They greeted each other and rode off together. They rode up to an iron lodestone weighing about 150 poods, and on that iron slab was written:“Whoever throws this stone up onto the mountain will have entrance.” The older brothers couldn’t lift the stone, but Ivan Tsarevich threw it onto the mountain with one try. And immediately a stairway appeared into the mountain. He left his horse, bled a glassful of blood, and gave it to his brothers. And then he said,“If the blood in this glass turns black, don’t wait for me any longer. It means I shall die!” He took his leave and set off. He went up onto the mountain and what did he not see: every sort of tree, all sorts of berries, and all kinds of birds! Ivan Tsarevich walked for a long time, and then he came up to a house, an enormous house! A tsar’s daughter was living in it, stolen away by Kosh the Deathless. Ivan Tsarevich walked around the fence, but he saw no doors.The tsar’s daughter saw someone and went out onto the balcony and shouted to him,“Look over there, there’s a chink in the fence. Touch it with your little finger, and there’ll be doors!”And that’s what was done! Ivan Tsarevich entered the house. The maiden received him, gave him drink and fed him, and questioned him about everything. He told her that he had come to take his mother back from Kosh the Deathless. The girl spoke to him about this: “It will be difficult to get to your mother, Ivan Tsarevich! Why, he’s deathless—he’ll kill you. He often comes to visit me . . . . There...


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