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Main > Ukrainian folktales > Fairy tale "Oh: The Tsar of the Forest"

Oh: The Tsar of the Forest

The olden times were not like the times we live in. In the olden times all manner of Evil Powers walked abroad. The world itself was not then as it is now: now there are no such Evil Powers among us. I’ll tell you a kazka (story) of Oh, the Tsar of the Forest, that you may know what manner of being he was.

Once upon a time, long long ago, beyond the times that we can call to mind, ere yet our great-grandfathers or their grandfathers had been born into the world, there lived a poor man and his wife, and they had one only son, who was not as an only son ought to be to his old father and mother. So idle and lazy was that only son that Heaven help him! He would do nothing, he would not even fetch water from the well, but lay on the stove all day long and rolled among the warm cinders. If they gave him anything to eat, he ate it; and if they didn’t give him anything to eat, he did without. His father and mother fretted sorely because of him, and said, “What are we to do with thee, O son? for thou art good for nothing. Other people’s children are a stay and a support to their parents, but thou art but a fool and dost consume our bread for naught.” But it was of no use at all. He would do nothing but sit on the stove and play with the cinders. So his father and mother grieved over him for many a long day, and at last his mother said to his father, “What is to be done with our son? Thou dost see that he has grown up and yet is of no use to us, and he is so foolish that we can do nothing with him. Look now, if we can send him away, let us send him away; if we can hire him out, let us hire him out; perchance other folk may be able to do more with him than we can.” So his father and mother laid their heads together, and sent him to a tailor’s to learn tailoring. There he remained three days, but then he ran away home, climbed up on the stove, and again began playing with the cinders. His father then gave him a sound drubbing and sent him to a cobbler’s to learn cobbling, but again he ran away home.

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