The Serpent-Tsarevich and His Two Wives
There was once a Tsaritsa who had no child, and greatly desired one, so the soothsayers said to her, “Bid them catch thee a pike, bid them boil its head and nothing but its head, eat it, and thou shalt see what will happen.” So she did so. She ate the pike’s head and went about as usual for a whole year, and when the year was out she gave birth to a son who was a serpent.
And no sooner was he born than he looked about him, and said, “Mammy and daddy! Bid them make me a stone hut, and let there be a little bed there, and a little stove and a fire to warm me, and let me be married in a fortnight!”––So they did as he desired. They shut him up in a stone hut, with a little bed and a little stove and fire to warm him, and in a fortnight he grew quite big, indeed he grew too big for his little bed. “And now,” said he, “I want to be married!” So they brought to him all the fair young damsels of the land that he might choose one to be his own true bride. Exceeding fair were all the damsels they brought him, and yet he would choose none of them. Now there was an old woman there, who had twelve daughters, and eleven of these daughters they brought to the Serpent-Tsarevich, but not the twelfth. “She is too young!” said they.––Then the youngest daughter said, “Ye fools, not to take me too! Why, if I were brought to the Serpent-Tsarevich, he would make me his bride at once.”
Now this came to the Tsar’s ears, and he commanded them to bring her to him straightway. And the Tsar said to her, “Wilt thou be my son’s bride or not?”––And she said, “I will; but before I go to thy son, give me at once a score of chemises, and a score of linen kirtles, and a score of woollen kirtles, and twenty pairs of shoes––twenty of each, I say.”––So the Tsar gave them to her, and she put on the twenty chemises, the twenty linen kirtles, the twenty woollen kirtles, and the twenty pairs of shoes, one after the other, and went to see the Serpent-Tsarevich. When she came to the threshold of his hut, she stopped and said, “Hail, O Serpent-Tsarevich!