Alenoushka and her Brother
She sent a servant to catch the lamb; and she said to the fine gentleman, who thought all the time that she was Alenoushka, "It is time for the lamb to be killed, and made into a tasty stew."
The fine gentleman was astonished.
"What," says he, "you want to have the lamb killed? Why, you called it your brother when first I found you by the hayrick in the plain. You were always giving it caresses and sweet words. You loved it so much that I was sick of the sight of it, and now you give orders for its throat to be cut. Truly," says he, "the mind of woman is like the wind in summer."
The lamb ran away when he saw that the servant had come to catch him. He heard the sharpening of the knives, and had seen the cutting of the wood, and the great cauldron taken from its place. He was frightened, and he ran away, and came to the river bank, where the wind was sighing through the tall reeds. And there he sang a farewell song to his sister, thinking he had not long to live. The servant followed the lamb cunningly, and crept near to catch him, and heard his little song. This is what he sang:—
"Alenoushka, little sister, They are going to slaughter me; They are cutting wooden fagots, They are heating iron cauldrons, They are sharpening knives of steel."
And Alenoushka, lamenting, answered the lamb from the bottom of the river:—
"O my brother Ivanoushka, A heavy stone is round my throat, Silken grass grows through my fingers, Yellow sand lies on my breast."
The servant listened, and marvelled at the miracle of the lamb singing, and the sweet voice answering him from the river. He crept away quietly, and came to the fine gentleman, and told him what he had heard; and they set out together to the river, to watch the lamb, and listen, and see what was happening.
The little white lamb stood on the bank of the river weeping, so that his tears fell into the water. And presently he sang again:—
"Alenoushka, little sister, They are going to slaughter me; They are cutting wooden fagots, They are heating iron cauldrons, They are sharpening knives of steel.