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Main > Ukrainian folktales > Fairy tale "The Wondrous Story of Ivan Golik and the Serpents"

The Wondrous Story of Ivan Golik and the Serpents

“I know why thou art so yellow. But I can make thee once more just as God made thee.”

Now the Tsar had heard them speaking, and the words of the cripples moved him strangely. So he had the armless man and the legless man in the wagon brought to him, and said to them, “Do as you are able.”

But Legless said, “O Tsar! let the Tsarivna speak the truth, and confess openly how she became so yellow!”

Then the father turned to his daughter, and she confessed and said, “The serpent flew to me, and drew my blood out of my breast.”

“When did he fly to thee?” they asked.

“Just before dawn, when the guards were sleeping, he came flying down my chimney. In he came flying, and lay down beneath the cushions of my couch.”

“Stop!” cried Legless; “we’ll hide in the straw in thy room, and when the serpent comes flying in again, thou must cough and wake us.”

So they hid them in the straw, and just as the guards had ceased knocking at the doors as they went their rounds, sparks began to flash beneath the straw roof, and the Tsarivna coughed. They rushed up to her, and saw the serpent already nestling beneath the cushions. Then the Tsarivna leaped out of bed; but Armless lay down on the floor and kicked Legless on to the cushions, and Legless took the serpent in his arms and began to throttle it. “Let me go! let me go!” begged the serpent, “and I’ll never fly here again, but will renounce my tithes.”

But Legless said, “That is but a small thing. Thou must carry us to the place of healing waters, that I may get back my legs and my brother here his arms.”

“Catch hold of me,” said the serpent, “and I’ll take you, only torture me no more.”

So Legless clung on to him with his arms and Armless with his feet, and the serpent flew away with them till he came to a spring. “There’s your healing water!” cried he.

Armless wanted to plunge in straightway, but Legless shrieked, “Wait, brother! Hold the serpent tight with your legs while I thrust a dry stick into the spring, and then we shall see whether it really is healing water.

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