The Story of Little Tsar Novishny, the False Sister, and the Faithful Beasts
Again the serpent took them up and carried them off. Presently he grew tired and again lay down to rest, and nodded off. Then the Tsarivna sat down on his head, and the Tsarevko sat down beside her, till a humble-bee came flying up. “Hail, little Tsar Novishny!” cried the humble-bee.––“Hail, little humble-bee!” said the little Tsar.––“Say, friends, are you here by your leave or against your leave?”––“Alas! little humble-bumble-bee, ’tis not with my leave I have been brought hither, but against my leave, as thou mayst see for thyself.”––“Then sit on my back,” said the bee, “and I’ll carry you away.”––“But, dear little humble-bumble-bee, if a horse couldn’t save us, how will you?”––“I cannot tell till I try,” said the humble-bee. “But if I cannot save you, I’ll let you fall.”––“Well, then,” said the little Tsar, “we’ll try. For we two must perish in any case, but thou perhaps mayst get off scot-free.” So they embraced each other, sat on the humble-bee, and off they went. When the serpent awoke he missed them, and raising his head above the reeds and rushes, saw them flying far away, and set off after them at full speed. “Alas! little humble-bumble-bee,” cried little Tsar Novishny, “how burning hot ’tis getting. We shall all three perish!” Then the humble-bee turned his wing and shook them off. They fell to the earth, and he flew away. Then the serpent came flying up and fell upon them with open jaws. “Ah-ha!” cried he, with a snort, “you’ve come to grief again, eh? Didn’t I tell you to listen to nobody but me!” Then they fell to weeping and entreating, “We’ll listen to you alone and to nobody else!” and they wept and entreated so much that at last he forgave them.
So he took them up and carried them off once more. Again he sat down to rest and fell asleep, and again the Tsarivna sat upon his head and the Tsarevko sat down by her side, till a bullock came up, full tilt, and said to them, “Hail, little Tsar Novishny! art thou here with thy leave or art thou here against thy leave?