The Story of Tremsin, the Bird Zhar, and Nastasia, the Lovely Maid of the Sea
There was once upon a time a man and a woman, and they had one little boy. In the summertime they used to go out and mow corn in the fields, and one summer when they had laid their little lad by the side of a sheaf, an eagle swooped down, caught up the child, carried him into a forest, and laid him in its nest. Now in this forest three bandits chanced to be wandering at the same time. They heard the child crying in the eagle’s nest: “Oo-oo! oo-oo! oo-oo!” so they went up to the oak on which was the nest and said one to another, “Let us hew down the tree and kill the child!”––“No,” replied one of them, “it were better to climb up the tree and bring him down alive.” So he climbed up the tree and brought down the lad, and they nurtured him and gave him the name of Tremsin. They brought up Tremsin until he became a youth, and then they gave him a horse, set him upon it, and said to him, “Now go out into the wide world and search for thy father and thy mother!” So Tremsin went out into the wide world and pastured his steed on the vast steppes, and his steed spoke to him and said, “When we have gone a little farther, thou wilt see before thee a plume of the Bird Zhar; pick it not up, or sore trouble will be thine!” Then they went on again. They went on and on, through ten tsardoms they went, till they came to another empire in the land of Thrice Ten where lay the feather. And the youth said to himself, “Why should I not pick up the feather when it shines so brightly even from afar?” And he went near to the feather, and it shone so that the like of it cannot be expressed or conceived or imagined or even told of in tales. Then Tremsin picked up the feather and went into the town over against him, and in that town there lived a rich nobleman. And Tremsin entered the house of this nobleman and said, “Sir, may I not take service with thee as a labourer?”––The nobleman looked at him, and seeing that he was comely and stalwart, “Why not? Of course thou mayst,” said he. So he took him into his service.