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Main > Russia folktales > Fairy tale "Seven Simeons"

Seven Simeons


Hearing these kind words, the seventh Simeon smiled, looked around, shook his curls and began:

"My trade is one for which there is no mercy in thy tsarstvo, and it is the one thing I am able to do. My trade is to steal and to hide the trace of how and when. There is no treasure, no fortunate possession, not even a bewitched one, nor a secret place that could be forbidden me if it be my wish to steal."

As soon as these bold words of the seventh Simeon reached the Tsar's ears he became very angry.

"No!" he exclaimed, "I certainly shall not pardon thee, thief and burglar! I will give orders for thy cruel death! I will have thee chained and thrown into my subterranean prison with nothing but bread and water for food until thou forget thy trade!"

"Great and merciful Tsar Archidei Aggeivitch, postpone thy orders. Listen to my peasant talk," prayed the seventh Simeon. "Our old Russian saying is: 'He is no thief who is not caught, and neither is he who steals, but the one who instigates the theft.' If my wish had been to steal, I should have done it long ago. I should have stolen thy treasures and thy judges would not have objected to take a small share of them, and I could have built a white-walled stone palace and have been rich. But, mark this: I am a stupid peasant of low origin. I know well enough how to steal, but will not. If thy wish were to learn my trade, how could I keep it from thee? And if thou, for this sincere acknowledgment, wilt have me put to death, then what is the value of thy royal word?"

The Tsar thought a moment. "For this time," he said, "I will not let thee die, for it pleases me to grant thee my grace. But from this very day, this very hour, thou never shalt see God's light nor the bright sunshine nor the silvery moon. Thou shalt never walk at liberty through the wide fields, but thou, my dear guest, shalt dwell in a palace where no sunny ray ever penetrates. You, my servants, take him, chain his hands and his feet and lead him to my chief jailor.

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