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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 the messenger returned to the prince and told him. Then the prince bade his servants open his trunk and take out a shirt and pantaloons and all manner of raiment, whereupon the naked man went into the water and washed, and after that he dressed himself. Then they brought him to the prince, and he said to him, “If you take me with you, you must all obey me. If you listen to me, you shall remain in the land of Russia; but if not, you shall all perish.”

“Be it so!” said the prince, and he bade all his suite obey him.

They went on and on till they overtook the hosts of the mice. The prince wanted to go hunting after the mice, but Ivan Golik said, “Nay, step aside and give place to the mice, so that not a single one of them lose a single hair!”

So they turned aside, and the mice swept by in their hosts, but the hindmost mouse turned round and said, “Thanks to thee, Ivan Golik, thou hast saved my host from perishing; I will save thine also.”

Then they went on farther, and lo! the gnat was marching with his host, and so vast was it that no eye could take it all in. Then the lieutenant-general of the gnats came flying up and said, “Oh, Ivan Golik! let my host drink of thy blood. If thou dost consent, ’twill be to thy profit; but if thou dost not consent, thou shalt not remain in the land of Russia.”

Then he stripped off his shirt and bade them tie him up so that he could not beat off a single gnat, and the gnats drank their fill of him and flew off again.

After that they went along by the seashore till they came to a man who had caught two pike. Then Ivan Golik said to the prince, “Buy those two pike of the man, and let them go into the sea again.”

“But wherefore?”

“Ask not wherefore, but buy them!”

So they bought the pike, and let them go into the sea again. But as they swam away, the pike turned round and said, “We thank thee, Ivan Golik, that thou hast not let us perish, and it shall be to thy weal and welfare!”

Swiftly they moved on their way, but the story that tells thereof moves still swifter.

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