The Seven Brothers Simeon
There were once upon a time two old serfs, who lived together for many years without children; and in their old age they prayed for a child to keep them from want when they were no longer able to labour. After seven years the good woman gave birth to seven sons, who were all named Simeon; but when these boys were in their tenth year, the old folk died, and the sons tilled the ground which their father left them.
It chanced one day that the Tsar Ador drove past, and wondered sore to see such little fellows all busy at work in their field. So he sent his oldest boyar to ask them whose children they were, and why they were working so hard, and the eldest Simeon answered, that they were orphans, and had no one to work for them, and that they were all called Simeon. When the boyar told this to Tsar Ador, he ordered the boys to be brought along with him.
On returning to the palace, the Tsar called together all his boyars, and asked their advice, saying: “My boyars, you see here seven poor orphans, who have no kinsfolk; I am resolved to make such men of them that they shall hereafter have cause to thank me; and therefore I ask your advice—what handicraft or art shall I have them taught?” Then the boyars replied: “Your Majesty, seeing that they are old enough to have understanding, it would be well to ask each brother separately what craft he wishes to learn.”
This answer pleased the Tsar, and he said to the eldest Simeon: “Tell me, friend, what art or trade would you like to learn? I will apprentice you to it.” But Simeon answered: “Please your Majesty, I wish to learn no art; but if you will command a smithy to be put up in the middle of your court, I will raise a column which shall reach to the sky.” By this time the Tsar at once saw that the first Simeon wanted indeed no teaching if he was so good a smith as to do such work; but he did not believe that he could make so tall a pillar; so he ordered a smithy to be built in his courtyard, and the eldest Simeon straightway set to work.