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

Story of Ivan, the Peasant's Son

Then he vaulted into the saddle, struck him on the flank, and the horse chafed at the bit, and rose from the ground higher than the forest; he left hill and dale swiftly under his feet, covered large rivers with his tail, sent forth a thick steam from his ears, and flames from his nostrils.

At length Ivan the peasant’s son came to an unknown country, and rode through it for thirty days and thirty nights, until at length he arrived at the Chinese Empire. There he dismounted, and turned his good steed out into the open fields, while he went into the city and bought himself a bladder, drew it over his head, and went round the Tsar’s palace. Then the folks asked him whence he came, and what kind of man he was, and what were his father and mother’s names. But Ivan only replied to their questions, “I don’t know.” So they all took him for a fool, and went and told the Chinese Tsar about him. Then the Tsar ordered Ivan to be called, and asked where he came from and what was his name; but he only answered as before, “I don’t know.” So the Tsar ordered him to be driven out of the Court. But it happened that there was a gardener in the crowd, who begged the Tsar to give the fool over to him that he might employ him in gardening. The Tsar consented, and the man took Ivan into the garden, and set him to weed the beds whilst he went his way.

Then Ivan lay down under a tree and fell fast asleep. In the night he awoke, and broke down all the trees in the garden. Early the next morning the gardener came and looked round, and was terrified at what he beheld: so he went to Ivan the peasant’s son and fell to abusing him, and asked him who had destroyed all the trees. But Ivan only replied, “I don’t know.” The gardener was afraid to tell this to the Tsar; but the Tsar’s daughter looked out of her window and beheld with amazement the devastation, and asked who had done it all. The gardener replied that fool Know-nothing had destroyed the noble trees; but entreated her not to tell her father, promising to put the garden into a better condition than it was before.

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