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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

The prince walked all round the bow and looked at it. “Why,” said he, “I would not deign to touch a bow like that. I’ll call one of my servants, for any one of them can bend such a bow as that!”

Then the serpent looked at the prince’s servants one after the other, and said, “Well, let them try!”

“Come forward thou, Ivan Golik!” cried the prince.

And the prince said to him, “Take me up that bow and bend it!”

Ivan Golik took up the bow, placed the arrow across it, and drew the bow so that the arrow split into twelve pieces and the bow burst. Then the prince said, “Did I not tell you? and was I to put myself to shame by touching a bow that one of my servants can draw?”

After that Ivan Golik returned to his fellow-servants, and put the pieces of the broken bow behind his shin-bone; but the prince returned with the serpents into the guest-chamber, and they all rejoiced because he had done his appointed task. But the serpent whispered something in the ear of his youngest daughter, and she went out, and he after her. They remained outside a long time, and then the serpent came in again, and said to the prince, “There is no time for anything more to-day, but we’ll begin again early to-morrow morning. I have a horse behind twelve doors; if thou canst mount it, thou shalt have my daughter.”

Then they made merry again till evening and lay down to sleep, but the prince went and told Golik. Golik listened to the prince, and said, “Now thou knowest, I suppose, why I took up those pieces of the broken bow, for I could see what was coming. When they lead forth this horse, look at it and say, ‘I will not mount that horse lest I put myself to shame. ’Tis with the horse as with the bow, any one of my servants can mount it!’ But that horse is no horse at all, but the serpent’s youngest daughter! Thou must not sit upon her back, but I will trounce her finely.”

Early in the morning they all arose, and the prince went to the serpent’s house to greet them all, and there he saw twenty of the serpent’s daughters, but where was the twenty-first?

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