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Iliya of Murom and the Robber Nightingale

In the famous city of Murom there once lived a countryman named Ivan Timofeyevich. Now Ivan had a son named Iliya, the joy of his heart, who was thirty years of age before he could walk; when all at once he acquired such strength that he could not only run about, but made for himself a suit of armour and a steel spear, saddled his steed, and went to his parents and begged their blessing. “Dear father and mother,” said he “grant me permission to go to the famous city of Kiev.” So his parents gave him their blessing and dismissed him, saying: “Go straight to Kiev, straight to the city Chernigov, but do no wrong upon your way, nor shed Christian blood in vain.”

Then Iliya of Murom took leave of his parents, and journeyed on, far into the depths of a dark forest, until he came to a camp of robbers. When the robbers saw him they longed to possess his noble steed, and conspired together to kill Iliya and seize the horse. So they fell upon Iliya of Murom, five-and-twenty men. But Iliya of Murom reined in his steed, drew an arrow from his quiver, laid it on his bow, and shot the shaft deep into the ground till it scattered the earth far and wide over three acres. When the robbers saw this, they were struck dumb with terror, fell on their knees, and said: “Our lord and father, dear good youth, we have done you wrong: in punishment for our crime, take all our treasures and rich dresses, and as many steeds as you desire.” Iliya laughed and said: “What should I do with your treasures? But if you have any regard for your lives, beware in future how you run such risks.” And so saying he journeyed on to the famous city of Kiev.

On his way, Iliya came to the city of Chernigov, which was besieged by a countless Pagan army, threatening to destroy its houses and churches, and to carry off into slavery all the princes and voyevodes. Iliya of Murom was terrified at the sight of such an army; nevertheless, at last he summoned courage, and resolved to die for his religion. So with a brave heart and a stout spear he attacked the unbelieving host, scattered them to the winds, took their leader prisoner, and carried him in triumph to Chernigov.

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