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Main > Russia folktales > Fairy tale "Seven Simeons"

Seven Simeons

The merchant guests appeared, prayed to the holy icons hanging in the corner, bowed to the Tsar, bowed to the wise advisers. The Tsar ordered his servants to serve them with tumblers of strong green wine. The guests drank the strong green wine and wiped their beards with embroidered towels. Then the Tsar Archidei addressed them:

"We are aware that you gallant sea merchants cross all the big waters and see many wonderful things. My desire is to ask you about something, and you must give a straightforward answer without any deceit or evasion."

"So be it, mighty Tsar Archidei Aggeivitch," answered the merchant guests, bowing.

"Well, then, can you tell me if somewhere in an empire or kingdom, or among great princes, there is a maiden as beautiful and wise as I myself, Tsar Archidei; an illustrious maiden who would be a proper wife for me, a suitable Tsaritza for my country?"

The merchant guests seemed to be puzzled, and after a long silence the eldest among them thus replied:

"Indeed, I once heard that yonder beyond the great sea, on an island called Buzan, there is a great country; and the sovereign of that land has a daughter named Helena, a princess very beautiful, not less so, I dare say, than thyself. And wise she is, too; a wise man once tried for three years to guess a riddle that she gave, and did not succeed."

"How far is that island, pray tell, and where are the roads that lead to it?"

"The island is not near," answered the old merchant. "If one chooses the wide sea he must journey ten years. Besides, the way to it is not known to us. Moreover, even suppose we did know the way, it seems that the Princess Helena is not a bride for thee."

The Tsar Archidei shouted with anger:

"How dost thou dare to speak such words, thou, a long-bearded buck?"

"Thy will be done, but think for thyself. Suppose thou shouldst send an envoy to the island of Buzan. He would require ten long years to go there, ten years equally long to come back, and so his journey would require fully twenty years.

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