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Main > Slavic Folktale > The abode of the Gods > Fairy tale "Time and the king of the elements"

Time and the king of the elements

There was once a married pair who loved each other tenderly. The husband would not have given up his wife for all the riches in the world, while her first thought was how best to please him. So they were very happy, and lived like two grains in one ear of corn.

One day while working in the fields, a great longing came over him to see her: so without waiting for the hour of sunset he ran home. Alas! she was not there. He looked high and low, he ran here, there, and everywhere, he wept, he called to her; in vain! his dear wife was not to be found.

So heartbroken was he that he no longer cared to live. He could think of nothing but the loss of his dear wife and how to find her again. At last he determined to travel all over the world in search of her. So he began to walk straight on, trusting God to direct his steps. Sad and thoughtful, he wandered for many days, until he reached a cottage close by the shores of a large lake. Here he stopped, hoping to find out news. On entering the cottage he was met by a woman, who tried to prevent him entering.

“What do you want here, unlucky wretch?” said she. “If my husband sees you, he will kill you instantly.”

“Who is your husband then?” asked the traveller.

“What! you do not know him? My husband is the Water-King; everything under water obeys him. Depart quickly, for if he finds you here he will certainly devour you.”

“Perhaps after all he would take pity on me. But hide me somewhere, for I am worn and weary, and without shelter for the night.”

So the Water-Queen was persuaded, and hid him behind the stove. Almost immediately after the Water-King entered. He had barely crossed the threshold when he called out, “Wife, I smell human flesh; give it me quickly, for I am hungry.” She dared not disobey him, and so she had to tell him of the traveller’s hiding-place. The poor man became terribly frightened, and trembled in every limb, and began to stammer out excuses.

“I assure you I have done no harm. I came here in search of news of my poor wife.

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