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Story of Ivan, the Peasant's Son

The Princess Lotao also was married to Ivan the peasant’s son, and her elder sisters laughed at her for choosing a fool for a husband.

Not long afterwards a great army invaded the country, and its leader, the knight Polkan, demanded of the Tsar his daughter, the beautiful Lotao, for wife, threatening that, if he did not consent, he would burn his country with fire and slay his people with the sword, throw the Tsar and Tsarina into prison, and take their daughter by force. At these threats the Tsar was aghast with terror, and instantly ordered his armies to be collected; and they went forth, commanded by the two Princes, against Polkan. Then the two armies met, and fought like two terrible thunder-clouds, and Polkan overthrew the army of the Chinese Tsar.

At this time the Princess came to her husband, Ivan the peasant’s son, and said to him: “My dear friend Know-nothing, they want to take me from you; the infidel knight Polkan has invaded our country with his army and routed our hosts with his terrible sword.” Then Ivan told the Princess to leave him in peace; and, jumping out of the window, he ran into the open fields, and cried aloud:

“Sivka Burka! he!

Fox of Spring! Appear!

Like a grass blade, here

Stand before me!”

The horse galloped until the earth trembled: from his ears came steam, from his nostrils flames. Ivan the peasant’s son crept into his ear to change himself, and came out looking such a brave knight as no pen can write down or story tell. Then he rode up to the army of Polkan, and laid about him with his sword, trod the army down under his horse’s hoofs, and drove it quite out of the kingdom. At the sight of this the Chinese Tsar came to Ivan, but knew him not, and invited him to his palace; but Ivan answered: “I am not your subject and I will not serve you.” And so saying, away he rode, let his horse run loose in the open fields, went back to the palace, crept again through the window, drew the bladder over his head, and lay down to sleep.

The Tsar gave a public feast for this great victory, and it lasted several days; until the knight Polkan once more invaded the country with a fresh army, and again demanded with threats the youngest Princess for his wife.

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