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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

So he thrust a stick in, and no sooner had it touched the water than it was consumed as though by fire. Then the pair of them, in their rage, fell upon that false serpent and almost killed him. They beat him and beat him till he cried for mercy. “Beat me no more!” cried he; “the spring of healing water is not very far off!” Then he took them to another spring. Into this they also dipped a dry stick, and immediately it burst into flower. Then Armless leaped into the spring and leaped out again with arms, whereupon he pitched in Legless, who immediately leaped out again with legs of his own. So they let the serpent go, first making him promise never to fly to the Tsarivna again, and then each thanked the other for his friendship, and so they parted.

But Ivan Golik went again to his brother the prince, to see what had become of him. “I wonder what the princess has done to him?” thought he. So he went toward that tsardom, and presently he saw not very far from the roadside, a swineherd tending swine; he was tending swine, but he himself sat upon a tomb. “I’ll go and ask that swineherd what he’s doing there,” thought Ivan Golik.

So he went up to the swineherd, and, looking straight into his eyes, recognized his own brother. And the swineherd looked at him, and recognized Ivan Golik. There they stood for a long time looking into each other’s eyes, but neither of them spoke a word. At last Ivan Golik found his voice: “What!” cried he. “Is it thou, O prince, who art feeding swine? Thou art rightly served! Did I not bid thee, ‘Tell not thy wife the truth for seven years’?”

At this the prince flung himself down at the other’s feet, and cried, “O Ivan Golik! forgive me, and have mercy!”

Then Ivan Golik raised him up by the shoulders and said, “’Tis well for thee that thou art still in God’s fair world! Yet wait a little while, and thou shalt be Tsar again!”

The prince thereupon asked Ivan Golik how he had got his legs back again, for the princess had told him how she had cut Ivan Golik in two.

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