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Main > Russia folktales > Fairy tale "Story of Ivan, the Peasant's Son"

Story of Ivan, the Peasant's Son

In a certain village there lived a poor peasant with his wife, who for three years had no children: at length the good woman had a little son, whom they named Ivan. The boy grew, but even when he was five years old, could not walk. His father and mother were very sad, and prayed that their son might be strong on his feet; but, however many their prayers, he had to sit, and could not use his feet for three-and-thirty years long.

One day the peasant went with his wife to church; and whilst they were away, a beggar man came to the window of the cottage and begged alms of Ivan the peasant’s son. And Ivan said to him: “I would gladly give you something, but I cannot rise from my stool.” Then said the beggar: “Stand up and give me alms! Your feet are stout and strong!” In an instant Ivan rose up from his stool, and was overjoyed at his newly acquired power: he called the man into the cottage and gave him food to eat. Then the beggar asked for a draught of beer, and Ivan instantly went and fetched it; the beggar, however, did not drink it, but bade Ivan empty the flask himself, which he did to the very bottom. Then the beggar said: “Tell me, Ivanushka, how strong do you feel?” “Very strong,” replied Ivan. “Then fare you well!” said the beggar; and disappeared, leaving Ivan standing lost in amazement.

In a short time his father and mother came home, and when they saw their son healed of his weakness, they were astonished, and asked him how it had happened. Then Ivan told them all, and the old folk thought it must have been no beggar but a holy man who had cured him; and they feasted for joy and made merry.

Presently Ivan went out to make a trial of his strength; and going into the kitchen garden, he seized a pole and stuck it half its length into the ground, and turned it with such strength that the whole village turned round. Then he went back into the cottage to take leave of his parents and ask their blessing. The old folk fell to weeping bitterly when he spoke of leaving them, and entreated him to stay at least a little longer; but Ivan heeded not their tears, and said: “If you will not give me your consent, I shall go without it.

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