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Main > Slavic Folktale > Fairy tale "Kinkach Martinko"

Kinkach Martinko

While thus wondering the hungry old man again came by, and she gave him her dinner. She was heart-sick and her eyes were full of tears, for she thought she would never guess the spinner’s name, nor of what stuff his boots were made, unless perhaps God would help her.

“Why are you so sad?” asked the old man when he had eaten and drunk; “tell me the cause of your grief, dear lady.”

For a long time she would not tell him, thinking it would be useless; but at last, yielding to his entreaties, she gave a full account of the conditions under which the gold thread was made, explaining that unless she could answer the little old man’s questions satisfactorily she feared some great misfortune would befall her. The old man listened attentively, then, nodding his head, he said:

“In coming through the forest to-day I passed close to a large pile of burning wood, round which were placed nine iron pots. A little man in a red cap was running round and jumping over them, singing these words:

“My sweet friend, fair Helen, at the Red Castle near,

Two days and two nights seeks my name to divine.

She’ll never find out, so the third night ’tis clear

My sweet friend, fair Helen, can’t fail to be mine.

Hurrah! for my name is Kinkach Martinko,

Hurrah! for my boots are of doggies’ skin O!”

“Now that is exactly what you want to know, my dear girl; so do not forget, and you are saved.”

And with these words the old man vanished.

Helen was greatly astonished, but she took care to fix in her memory all that the good fellow had told her, and then went to sleep, feeling that she could face to-morrow without fear.

On the third day, very early in the morning, the little old man appeared and set busily to work, for he knew that all the hemp must be spun before sunset, and that then he should be able to claim his rights. When evening came all the hemp was gone, and the room shone with the brightness of the golden thread.

As soon as his work was done, the queer little old man with the red cap drew himself up with a great deal of assurance, and with his hands in his pockets strutted up and down before Helen, ordering her to tell him his right name and to say of what stuff the boots were made: but he felt certain that she would not be able to answer aright.

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