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

Little Master Misery

"Come, wife," says the poor brother as he trudged along, "let us sing a song like the others."

"What a fool you are!" says his wife. Hungry and cross she was, as even Maroosia would be after a day like that watching other people stuff themselves. "What a fool you are!" says she. "People may very well sing when they have eaten tasty dishes and drunk good wine. But what reason have you got for making a merry noise in the night?"

"Why, my dear" says he, "we have been at my brother's name-day feast. I am ashamed to go home without a song. I'll sing. I'll sing so that everyone shall think he loaded us with good things like the rest."

"Well, sing if you like; but you'll sing by yourself."

So the peasant, the poor brother, started singing a song with his dry throat. He lifted his voice and sang like the rest, while his wife trudged silently beside him.

But as he sang it seemed to the peasant that he heard two voices singing—his own and another's. He stopped, and asked his wife,—

"Is that you joining in my song with a little thin voice?"

"What's the matter with you? I never thought of singing with you. I never opened my mouth."

"Who is it then?"

"No one except yourself. Any one would say you had had a drink of wine after all."

"But I heard some one ... a little weak voice ... a little sad voice ... joining with mine."

"I heard nothing," said his wife; "but sing again, and I'll listen."

The poor man sang again. He sang alone. His wife listened, and it was clear that there were two voices singing—the dry voice of the poor man, and a little miserable voice that came from the shadows under the trees. The poor man stopped, and asked out loud,—

"Who are you who are singing with me?"

And a little thin voice answered out of the shadows by the roadside, under the trees,—

"I am Misery."

"So it was you, Misery, who were helping me?"

"Yes, master, I was helping you."

"Well, little Master Misery, come along with us and keep us company."

"I'll do that willingly," says little Master Misery, "and I'll never, never leave you at all—no, not if you have no other friend in the world.

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