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Main > Russia folktales > Fairy tale "Little Master Misery"

Little Master Misery

My wife and children are without bread. All day long they sit hungry and waiting, and I have no food to give them."

The rich brother looks at him, and hums and strokes his beard. Then says he: "I will help you. But, of course, you must do something in return. Stay here and work for me, and at the end of a week you shall have the help you have earned."

The poor brother thanked him, and bowed and kissed his hand, and praised God for the kindness of his brother's heart, and set instantly to work. For a whole week he slaved, and scarcely slept. He cleaned out the stables and cut the wood, swept the yard, drew water from the well, and ran errands for the cook. And at the end of the week his brother called him, and gave him a single loaf of bread.

"You must not forget," says the rich brother, "that I have fed you all the week you have been here, and all that food counts in the payment."

The poor brother thanked him, and was setting off to carry the loaf to his wife and children when the rich brother called him back.

"Stop a minute," said he; "I would like you to know that I am well disposed towards you. To-morrow is my name-day. Come to the feast, and bring your wife with you."

"How can I do that, brother? Your friends are rich merchants, with fine clothes, and boots on their feet. And I have nothing but my old coat, and my legs are bound in rags and my feet shuffle along in straw slippers. I do not want to shame you before your guests."

"Never mind about that," says the rich brother; "we will find a place for you."

"Very good, brother, and thank you kindly. God be praised for having given you a tender heart."

And the poor brother, though he was tired out after all the work he had done, set off home as fast as he could to take the bread to his wife and children.

"He might have given you more than that," said his wife.

"But listen," said he; "what do you think of this? To-morrow we are invited, you and I, as guests, to go to a great feast."

"What do you mean? A feast?

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