The Enchanted Peafowl - The Story of the Golden Apples, the Wicked Dragon, and the Magic Horse
Have you ever heard the story of the Peafowl who became a Queen and of the Tsar's Youngest Son who married her? Well, here it is:
There was once a Tsar who took great delight in his garden. Every morning you could see him bending over his flowers or picking the fruit of his favorite tree. This was an apple-tree that had the magic property of bearing buds, blossoms, and golden fruit every twenty-four hours. It was known as the golden apple-tree. In the morning the first thing when he woke up the Tsar would look out his bedroom window to see that all was well with his beloved tree.
One morning when as usual he looked out he was grieved to see that the tree had been stripped of all the golden fruit which had ripened during the night.
"Who has stolen my golden apples?" he cried.
The palace guards looked everywhere for some trace of the thief but found nothing.
The next morning the same thing had happened and every morning thereafter when the Tsar looked out of his bedroom window he saw that the tree had again been stripped of its golden fruit.
He called his three sons to him and said:
"Is it seemly that a Tsar who has three able-bodied sons should be robbed night after night of his golden apples? Are you willing that this should happen and you do nothing about it?"
The eldest son who was a braggart said:
"My father, you need say no more. I myself will watch to-night and when the thief appears I will overpower him and bring him to you."
So the eldest son watched that night, standing on guard under the apple-tree and leaning against its trunk.
As midnight approached his eyes grew heavy and he fell asleep. While he slept the golden apples ripened and were stolen and the next morning, as usual, the branches were bare.
The second son who was a crafty youth laughed at his brother and said:
"To-night I will watch. I will pretend to be asleep and when the thief appears I will jump upon him and overpower him."
So when night came the second son went on guard under the tree and in order to deceive the thief he lay down on the ground and closed his eyes.