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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

“Why should I not weep, seeing the task that the serpent has given me is impossible?”

“Nay, weep not, my prince, but lie down to sleep, and by the morning light it will all be done!”

No sooner had Ivan Golik left the prince than he went outside and whistled for the mice. Then the mice assembled round them in their hosts: “Why dost thou whistle, and what dost thou want of us, O Ivan Golik?” said they.

“Why should I not whistle, seeing that the serpent has bidden us thresh out his barn by the morning light, so that straw lies by straw, chaff by chaff, and grain by grain?”

No sooner did the mice hear this than they began scampering all about the barn! There were so many of them that there was not room to move. They set to work with a will, and long before dawn it was quite finished. Then they went and awoke Ivan Golik. He went and looked, and lo! all the chaff was by itself, and all the grain was by itself, and all the straw by itself! Then Ivan bade them be quite sure that there was not a single grain remaining in a single ear of corn. So they scampered all about, and there was not a mouse which did not look under every stalk of straw. Then they ran up to him, and said, “Fear not! there is not a single loose grain anywhere. And now we have requited thee thy service, Ivan Golik, farewell!”

Next morning the prince came to seek Ivan, and marvelled to find that everything had been done as the serpent had commanded. So he thanked Ivan Golik, and went off to the serpent. Then they both went together, and the serpent himself was amazed. He called to his twenty-one daughters to search the ears of corn well to see whether one single grain might not be found therein, and his daughters searched and searched, but there was not a single loose grain to be found. Then said the serpent, “’Tis well, let us go! We will eat and drink and make merry till evening, and in the evening I will give thee thy to-morrow’s task.” So they made merry till evening, and then the serpent said, “Early this morning, my youngest daughter went bathing in the sea and lost her ring in the water.

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