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Main > Slavic Folktale > Fairy tale "Imperishable"

Imperishable

Niezguinek caressed his horse, kissed him and wept over him; then, raising his mighty club, struck him full on the forehead. The poor creature staggered and fell down dead. Niezguinek cut him open, and putting an end of his entrails in the water, he kept hold of it and hid himself in the water-rushes. Soon there came a crowd of crawfish, and amongst them a gigantic lobster as large as a year-old calf. Niezguinek seized him and threw him on the beach. The lobster said, “I am king of all the crawfish tribe. Let me go, and I will give you great riches for my ransom.”

“I do not want your riches,” answered Niezguinek, “but in exchange for your freedom give me the diamond key which belongs to the silver ship with the golden masts, for in that vessel dwells Princess Sudolisu.”

The King of the Crawfish whistled, upon which myriads of his subjects appeared. He spoke to them in their own language, and dismissed one, who soon returned with the magic diamond key in his claws.

Niezguinek loosed the King of the Crawfish; and hiding himself inside his horse’s body as he had been instructed, lay in wait. At that moment an old raven, followed by all his nestlings, happened to pass, and attracted by the horse’s carcase, he called to his young ones to come and feast with him. Niezguinek seized the smallest of the birds and held it firmly.

“Let my birdling go,” said the old raven, “I will give you in return anything you like to ask.”

“Fetch me then three kinds of water, the Life-giving, the Curing, and the Strengthening.”

The old raven started off, and while awaiting his return Niezguinek, who still held the ravenling, questioned him as to where he had come from and what he had seen on his travels, and in this way heard news of his brothers.

When the father bird returned, carrying with him the bottles filled with the marvellous waters, he wanted to have his nestling back.

“One moment more,” said Niezguinek, “I want to be sure that they are of the right sort.”

Then he replaced the entrails in the body of his horse and sprinkled him first with the Life-giving, then with the Curing, and finally with the Strengthening Water; after which his beloved steed leapt to his feet full of strength and cried, “Ah!

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