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Петр Ершов - Ершов - The little humpbacked horse

Проза и поэзия >> Русская классика >> Петр Ершов
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Pyotr Yershov. The little humpbacked horse

---------------------------------------------------------------

1834 "Яихея Пикацхия" Illustrated by N.M. Kochergin

Translated from the Russian by Louis Zellikoff

Designed by Yuri Kapylov,

First printing 1957

Printed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Progress Publishers Moscow

OCR: http://home.freeuk.net/russica2/

---------------------------------------------------------------

PART ONE


     Now the telling of the tale begins


     Past the woods and mountains steep,

     Past the rolling waters deep,

     You will find a hamlet pleasant

     Where once dwelt an aged peasant.

     Of his sons-and he had three,

     Th'eldest sharp was as could be;

     Second was nor dull nor bright,

     But the third-a fool all right.

     Now, these brothers planted wheat,

     Brought it to the royal seat,

     By which token you may know

     That they hadn't far to go.


     There they sold their golden grain

     Counted carefully their gain

     And, with well-filled money bags,

     Home again would turn their nags.

     But, upon an evil day,

     Dire misfortune came their way-

     Someone, 'twixt the dark and dawn,

     Took to trampling down their corn;

     Never had such grief before

     Come to visit at their door;

     Day and night they sat and thought

     How the villain could be caught,

     Till at last it dawned upon them

     That the way to solve the problem

     And to save their crops from harm

     Was, each night to guard their farm.


     As the day drew near its close,

     Up the eldest brother rose

     And, with pitchfork, axe in hand,

     Started out his watch to stand

     Dark and stormy was the night,

     He was overcome with fright

     And, of all his wits deprived,

     In the nearest haystack dived.

     Slowly night gave way to day;

     Our brave watchman left his hay,

     And, with water from the well,

     Soused himself-then, with a yell,

     Pounded on the cottage door;

     And you should have heard him roar!


     "Hey, you sleepy owls," cried he-

     "Open up the door-it's me!

     I am soaked right to the skin!

     Hurry, there, and let me in!"

     Quickly they the door unbarred

     Letting in their sentry-guard.

     Then they started questioning-

     Had he noticed anything?

     First, in prayer he bent his head,

     Cleared his throat, and then he said

     (After bowing left and right):

     "Why-I never slept all night!

     And I really wonder whether

     There was ever fouler weather!

     Cats and dogs it poured, no joking!

     Feel my shirt-it's simply soaking!

     Oh, it was an awful night!

     But, then, everything's all right.

     " Father praised his son with pleasure,

     Said: "Danilo, you're a treasure!

     You have served me well, my son,

     I can only say, well done!

     You have proved that you're a man

     And have not disgraced me, Dan!"

     As next day drew near its close,

     Up the second brother rose

     And, with pitchfork, axe in hand,

     Also went his watch to stand.

     Such a fearful frost set in,

     That he shivered in his skin.

     Teeth a-chatt'ring in his head,

     Freezing, from his post he fled.

     All night long, bereft of sense,

     He walked round his neighbour's fence,

     What a dreadful night he passed!

     But the morning came at last,

     Found him on the porch once more

     Pounding on the cottage door.

     "Hey, you sleepy owls," yelled he,

     "Let your brother in-it's me!

     I am frozen, frozen quite-

     It was dreadful cold last night!

     " Quickly they the door unbarred

     Letting in their sentry guard.

     Then they started questioning-

     Had he noticed anything?

     First, in prayer he bent his head,

     Through his teeth, he slowly said

     (After bowing left and right):

     "Why, I never slept all night!

     And I really wonder whether

     There was ever colder weather!

     It was cold, I'd have you know-

     I kept running to and fro-

     Wasn't it a chilly night!

     But, then, everything's all right.

     " And his father said with pleasure:

     "You, Gavrilo, are a treasure."


     Evening once again drew near,

     Now the third should don his gear,

     But he never turned a hair,

     Sitting on the oven there,

     Singing with his foolish might:

     "0, you eyes, as black as night!"

     Then to coax and beg Ivan

     Both the elder sons began;

     Bade him go and guard the grain;

     They grew hoarse-but all in vain.

     Father finally said: "Here,

     You just listen, Vanya dear,

     Go on watch, and if you do,

     This is what I'll do for you:

     I shall give you beans and peas,

     And some pictures, if you please."


     At these words, Ivan climbed down,

     Donned his coat of russet brown,

     Pocketed a lump of bread

     And on sentry-go he sped.


     Night fell and the white moon rose.

     On his beat Ivan now goes,

     Looking sharply all around;

     Then he sits upon the ground,

     Munching slowly at his bread,

     Counts the bright stars overhead.

     Suddenly, a neigh resounded-

     To his feet our sentry bounded;

     Peering round with shaded eyes,

     In the field a mare he spies.

     Now, this mare, I'd have you know,

     Whiter was than whitest snow,

     Silken mane in ringlets streaming

     To the ground, all golden gleaming.

     "Oh, ho ho-so this is it!

     You're the rogue-but wait a bit!

     I don't like such nasty jokes

     Played on honest farming folks!

     Trifling never was my line

     And I'll jump upon your spine,

     Nasty little plague," said he

     And, approaching stealthily,

     Seized her tail as in a vice,

     Mounted on her in a trice,

     Landed on her with a smack,

     Back to front and front to back.

     But the mare, whose blood was hot,

     Started bucking on the spot.


     Eyes ablaze with angry glow,

     Like an arrow from its bow

     Over hills and valleys sped,

     Over streams and gullies fled,

     On her haunches rearing, prancing,

     "Neath the forest branches dancing,

     All her wiles and strength in vain

     Plying, to be free again.

     But-she found her match at last-

     To her tail Ivan stuck fast.

     Finally, she said to him,

     Spent, and trembling in each limb:

     "Since you sat me,

     I confess I am yours now to possess;

     Find a place for me to rest,

     Care for me as you know best,

     But-remember this my warning:

     That for three days, every morning,

     You must let me out to graze.

     At the end of these three days,

     Two such handsome steeds I'll bear

     As have ne'er been seen, I swear;

     And a third I promise you,

     Only twelve hands high, with two

     Little humps upon his back-

     Ears-a yard long; eyes-coal-black;

     If you wish, why, sell the two,

     But, Ivan, whate'er you do,

     Part not with the little steed,

     Though you be in direst need,

     Nor for gold, nor silken raiment,

     Nor for lucky charm in payment.

     Faithful friend to you he'll be,

     Where you go, on land or sea;

     He'll find shade from summer's heat,

     Keep you warm in snow and sleet,

     Find your food in time of need,

     Quench your thirst with cooling mead,

     Afterwards, you'll set me free,

     Let me roam at liberty."


     Now, Ivan thought this all right,

     Found her shelter for the night

     In an empty shepherd's shack;

     O'er its door he hung a sack;

     Then he homeward made his way

     With the early light of day,

     Singing merrily: "Heigh-ho,

     Vanya would a-wooing go."

     See him near his home once more,

     Knocking at the cottage door,

     Calling out with might and main,


     Till the rafters rang again.

     You'd have sworn, to hear him shout,

     That a fire had broken out.

     Up his brothers from their beds

     Jumped in fright, and scratched their heads,

     Stammering: "Who knocks so loud?"

     "Me, the Fool," came answer proud.

     So they opened up the door,

     Let him in, and roundly swore

     At Ivan-how did he dare

     Give his brothers such a scare?

     But Ivan, with heedless air,

     Climbed up on the oven, where,

     Lying down in all his clothes,

     He related, at repose,

     His adventures-while, amazed,

     Open-mouthed, his hearers gazed.

     "Well, I didn't sleep all night,

     Counting all the stars so bright.

     Possibly, the moon was there,

     Though I really wouldn't swear-

     Satan suddenly appeared,

     Bristling whiskers, bushy beard,

     Cat-like face and saucer eyes;

     I stared on in stark surprise

     As that devil, with his tail,

     Whipped the wheat as with a flail.

     You know, joking's not my line-

     So I jumped right on his spine.

     He led me a dance, look you-

     Nearly broke my head in two.

     But I'm not a fool-not quite-

     Like a vice, I held him tight.

     How that cunning rascal tried!

     Finally, he begged and cried:

     'Spare my life this once, please do!

     For twelve months, I promise you

     Not to break a single law,

     Christian folks to plague no more.'

     I believed him on the spot-

     Off the devil's back I got."

     And Ivan then said no more-

     Yawned and soon began to snore,

     While his brothers, though they tried

     Not to, laughed until they cried,

     Laughing at that booby's joke-

     You'd have thought that they would choke!

     Father, too, could not refrain-

     Laughed, and cried, and laughed again,

     Though it is a sin, they say,

     For old men to laugh that way.


     Since that night, I cannot say

     How much time had passed away-

     For of this I heard no word

     Nor from man, nor beast, nor bird.

     What is this to you or me

     Whether one year passed, or three?

     Time can't be recalled, once fled-

     Let me tell my tale instead.

     Well, Danilo-(I should say-

     This was on a holiday)

     Tipsy, reeled along the track

     Leading to that shepherd's shack.

     There he saw a handsome pair-

     Steeds, with manes of golden hair,

     And beside them, in its stall,

     Stood a horse, so queer and small,


     Two humps on his little back;

     Ears a yard long; eyes-coal-black.

     All the fumes immediately

     Left Danilo's head, and he

     Murmured: "Hm! At last it's clear

     Why that fool is sleeping here!

     " Breathless bursting home, Danilo

     Cried excitedly: "Gavrilo,

     Come and see that lovely pair

     Our young fool has hidden there-

     Steeds, with manes of golden hair-

     No one saw their likes, I swear.

     " Fast as legs could carry, Dan,

     Barefoot, with Gavrilo ran,

     Through the fields, as though on wings,

     Heedless of the nettle stings.


     Thrice they fell, and thrice they rose,

     Bruised their eyes and tore their clothes

     Ere they reached the shepherd's shack,

     Rubbing one another's back.

     Here, two chargers met their gaze-

     Snorting, ruby eyes ablaze,

     Silken tails in ringlets streaming,

     Golden in the shadows gleaming;

     And their hoofs, of diamonds made,

     Were with monster pearls inlaid.

     Yes, it cannot be denied-

     Horses fit for tsars to ride.

     And they nearly burst from spleen

     As they stared upon this scene;

     Th'eldest, gaping, scratched his head-

     "Where'd he get them from?" he said.

     "This just proves the ancient rule-

     Fortune favours but the fool.

     Though you'd rack your brains, you'd never

     Raise a ruble, though you're clever.

     Say, Gavrilo-let's go down,

     Sunday, to the fair in town,


     Sell them to the Boyards there;

     We will share the takings square-

     And, with money, you'll agree

     We can have a merry spree,

     Once we set our pockets jingling,

     While not e'en the slightest inkling

     Of his horses' whereabout

     Will he have, that foolish lout.

     Let him seek them high and low-

     Strike the bargain, brother-so!"

     Said and done-and here, each brother

     Crossed himself and kissed the other;

     They went home in glee together

     Chatting, in the highest feather,

     Of the steeds, their future feast,

     And that little wonder beast.

     Slowly, Time crept on its way,

     Hour by hour and day by day;

     Sunday came and found them dressed

     For the town, in all their best;

     There they meant to sell their ware,

     Find out, at the harbour there,

     What strange ships had put to port,

     And what linens merchants sought;

     Had Saltan his flag unfurled

     To enslave the Christian world?

     See them at their icons praying,

     Then, for Father's blessing staying,

     After which, in secret, they

     Took the steeds and stole away.


     Night her shadows softly spread,

     And Ivan set out for bed

     . Through the village he went, swinging,

     Munching at his crust, and singing;

     Through the meadow now he skips,

     With his hands upon his hips;

     In the shack, upon his toes,

     Like a very lord, he goes.

     Everything was in its place-

     But the steeds-of them no trace!

     Only tiny humpback, neighing,

     Fawned around his feet, a-playing,

     Flapping both ears left and right,

     Prancing gaily in delight.

     At this sight, Ivan wept sore,

     As he leaned against the door.

     "Oh, my horses black as night,

     With your golden manes so bright!

     Did not I look after you?

     What foul devil stole you? Who?

     Plague on him, the dirty dog!

     May he perish in a bog!

     When he to the next world goes,

     May he trip and break his nose!

     Oh, my horses black as night,

     With your golden manes so bright!"

     Humpback neighed and shook his head:

     "Do not fret, Ivan," he said.

     "Yes, your loss is great, I know-

     But I'll help you in your woe.

     Blame the devil for his deeds-

     Your two brothers stole those steeds.

     Dry your tears, Ivan-make haste-

     We have not much time to waste.

     Mount my back-when I say: 'Go,'

     Hold to me for all you know.

     Though I'm small-that's true, of course,

     I'm as good as any horse.

     Once I get into my pace

     Any demon I'll outrace."


     Saying this, he stretched out flat,

     On his back Ivan then sat,

     Grabbed his ears and held them tight,

     Shouting out with all his might;

     Little humpback's sinews quivered,

     He stood on his feet and shivered

     Shook his mane and, with a neigh,

     Like an arrow sped away.

     Only dust clouds marked the course

     Of the rider and the horse.

     On they flew, as quick as thought-

     In a trice, the thieves were caught.


     Seeing him, his brothers stared,

     Scratched their heads, confused and scared;

     Wrathfully, Ivan exclaimed:

     "Brothers, are you not ashamed!

     Though you're clev'rer than Ivan,

     Still, Ivan's an honest man.

     I did not rob you-not I!"

     Th'eldest, squirming, made reply:

     "We are both to blame,

     I fear, But, dear brother-listen here-

     And, consider if you please

     That we lead no life of ease;

     Though we sow a lot of wheat,

     We can hardly make ends meet.

     Quit-rent's always overdue,

     The police, they fleece us too.

     So, Gavrilo, here, and I

     All last night ne'er closed an eye

     Talking of our sorry plight

     And of how to put things right;

     So, to meet our many needs,

     We resolved to sell your steeds

     For a thousand at the fair-

     Not a ruble less, I swear;

     And, in gratitude to you,

     Bring you back a gift or two-

     High-heeled boots of finest leather,

     And a cap, with bells and feather.

     Then-the old man's frail and ailing-

     He can work no more-he's failing,

     Yet must dodder out his span-

     Come, you're not a fool, Ivan."

     "If that's so," Ivan said, "well,

     I suppose you'd better sell

     My two golden-crested horses-

     Take me with you-let's join forces.

     " If thoughts could, their thoughts would kill-

     But, perforce, they feigned goodwill.

     Soon the sky grew overcast,

     Colder, colder blew the blast,

     So they called a bivouac

     So as not to lose the track,

     In a wood; the steeds were made

     Fast beneath its leafy shade;

     There they made themselves at ease,

     Ate and drank beneath the trees,

     After which, in happy mood,

     Each made merry as he could.

     Soon, Danilo saw a light

     In the darkness of the night;

     Nudged Gavrilo on the sly,

     Cunningly, he winked an eye,

     Pointed where the light was burning,

     Coughed a muffled cough of warning,

     After which he scratched his head.

     "My-how dark it is," he said.

     "If the moon would show her face

     Even for a little space,

     How much better it would be-

     Why, the blindest owl can see

     More than us-but stay-look there-

     Can you see it? I declare

     Something's burning-yes, a fire!

     Just the thing that we require!

     Listen, now, Vanyusha dear,

     Go and fetch some embers here-

     For it really slipped my mind,

     And I left my flint behind."

     To himself says brother Dan:

     "May you break your neck, young man!"

     Says Gavrilo, "Do I care?

     Lord knows what is burning there.

     If a highwayman besets him,

     We for ever can forget him."


     So our fool, who knew no care,

     Climbed upon his horse right there,

     Twined its mane around his wrist,

     Urged it on with heel and fist,

     Shouting out with all his might.

     Up his horse rose out of sight.

     Then Gavrilo cried in fright:

     "Saints be with us all this night!

     Save us, Lord, from evil sin-

     Say-what devil's under him?'

     Brighter, brighter shone the light,

     Swifter, swifter was their flight

     Till they halted where it lay-

     There, the field was bright as day,

     Lit by wondrous brilliant rays-

     Cold and smokeless in their blaze!

     Here, Ivan in stark surprise,

     Stared and said: "Why, bless my eyes!

     Look-there's light in plenty there-

     But no smoke or heat-I swear

     Now, this is a'curious light."


     Quoth his horse: "Yes, you're quite right.

     And you very well may stare!

     That's a Fire-Bird's feather there!

     But, Ivan, for your own sake,

     Touch it not, for in its wake

     Many sorrows, many woes

     Follow everywhere it goes."

     Growled our fool: "You're telling me-

     Woes and sorrows-we shall see!"

     So he wrapped it up with care

     In a rag to hide the glare,

     Hid it in his hat, and then

     Galloped swiftly back again;

     Tied his horse fast to a tree,

     To his brothers then said he:

     "When I got there, all I found,

     Was a burnt stump on the ground;

     I blew hard to raise a spark,

     Nearly burst there in the dark.

     And I puffed and puffed-in vain,

     For it wouldn't burn again!"

     Both his brothers laughed all night

     At Ivan, in sheer delight.

     He, however, merely crept

     'Neath the wain and snoring, slept

     Till the dawning of the day,

     When to town they drove away,

     Halting at the Hostlers' Fair,

     Opposite the Palace there.


     Now, there was an old tradition

     That, without the Mayor's permission,

     Nothing could be bought or sold,

     Nor for barter, nor for gold.

     As the church-bells called for prayer,

     On his palfrey rode the Mayor;

     Spurred and belted, furs on shoulders,

     Guarded by a hundred soldiers,

     Near him, bearded and sedate,

     Rode a crier in full state,

     Golden trumpet gaily sounding,

     Voice stentorian resounding:

     "Oyez, honest merchants there,

     Open up and sell your ware!

     And you watchmen-stay you near,

     Guard their stalls-keep eye and ear

     Sharp, maintaining strictest order,

     Keep from riots and disorder;

     See no rogue, however sly,

     Fools good folk with honeyed lie.

     " Then the merchants loudly call,

     As each opens up his stall:

     "Honest masters-come this way!

     See what wares we have today!

     Oh, come buy! Come buy! come buy!

     Our goods always satisfy!"

     Buyers flock like flies round honey,

     Choose their goods and pay their money;

     As the coins change hands and chink,

     Merchants to the watchmen wink.


     Meanwhile, with his guards, the Mayor

     Halted at the Hostlers' Fair,

     Where he saw a crowd so great,

     That it blocked up every gate,

     Surging like a stormy sea,

     Shouting, laughing lustily.

     Here, the Mayor, who wished to see

     What aroused such jollity,

     Gave his troops an order to

     Clear the way and let him through.

     "Hey, you ragamuffins there-

     Make way! Make way for the Mayor!"

     Shouted his bewhiskered soldiers,

     Cracking whips on backs and shoulders.

     Doffing hats, the crowd in pain,

     Stepped aside and made a lane.


     Then the Mayor rode in the Fair,

     Saw two chargers standing there-

     Handsome horses, black as night,

     Silken manes in ringlets bright

     Golden in the sunlight streaming,

     Flowing tails, all golden gleaming.

     Here the old man stroked his beard

     And his anger disappeared.

     "Wondrous is God's world," quoth he.

     "Countless are its marvels-see!"

     And his guards bowed to the ground

     Dumbstruck by his speech profound.

     Then the Mayor gave out strict orders

     'Gainst all tumults and disorders,

     That those steeds, on no condition,

     Might be sold without permission;

     Set a guard, and off to Court

     Raced to hand in his report.


     Straightway to the Tsar went he.

     "Pardon, Gracious Majesty!"

     Cried the Mayor, as he fell prone

     Breathlessly before the throne.

     "Be not angry with your slave-

     Suffer me to speak, I crave."


     "Speak," vouchsafed the Tsar. "Commence,

     But be sure your words make sense."

     "I shall try, Your Majesty,

     I am Lord Mayor here, you see,

     I would give my life for you ..."

     "Yes-we know-we know 'tis true."

     "Sire, I rode to Hostlers' Fair

     With my guard today, and there

     I beheld a crowd, so great,

     That it blocked up every gate;

     So I told my men that they

     Break the crowd and clear the way-

     Which they did, Your Majesty.

     In I rode-what did I see

     When I got inside the Fair?

     I saw two such chargers there-

     Handsome horses, black as night,

     Silken manes in ringlets bright,

     Golden in the sunlight streaming,

     Flowing tails, all golden gleaming,

     And their hoofs, of diamonds made,

     Were with monster pearls inlaid."

     Cried the Tsar excitedly:

     "We shall have to go and see-

     And, if they are all you say,

     We shall buy those two today.

     Ho! My coach !"-he clapped his hands-

     Lo !-his coach all ready stands-

     Donned his robes and crown with care

     And in haste drove to the fair,

     Followed by his Guard of State.


     When he stopped outside the gate,

     All the people straightaway

     Kneeled and wildly cheered: "Hurray!"

     In reply, the Tsar smiled brightly,

     Bowed, and.from his coach sprang lightly...

     Charmed by those two steeds, the Tsar

     Gazed at them from near and far,

     Praised and praised them once again,

     Softly stroked each golden mane,

     Gently patted each steed's spine,

     Felt their necks, so sleek and fine.


     After he had gazed his fill,

     He turned round with right goodwill,

     Saying: "My good people, who

     Owns these handsome chargers two?

     Who's the master?" Here, Ivan,

     Arms akimbo, like a Pan*, (Pan-Gentleman -Tr.)

     Pushed his brothers both aside,

     Puffed his cheeks and proudly cried:

     "Tsar, these steeds belong to me,

     I'm their owner, too, you see."

     "Will you sell them to me, say?"

     "No, I'm swapping them today."

     "What will you be taking, then?"

     "Twice five caps-and that makes ten,

     Full of silver-that's my price!"

     So the coins were in a trice

     Counted out-the Tsar, in pleasure,

     Gave five rubles for good measure-

     Generous a tsar was he !

     Ten grey grooms in livery,

     Trimmed with gold and silver slashes,

     Each with gaily coloured sashes,

     Each with saffian whip in hand,

     Took the horses' bridles, and

     Led them to the Royal Palace,

     But the steeds, in play, or malice,

     Tripped their grooms and straightway ran,

     Bridles broken, to Ivan.

     Back the Tsar drove to Ivan,

     Said to him: "Look here, my man,

     Now, my grooms can't hold those two-

     So, there's nothing else to do,

     But to come along with me.

     I shall issue a decree,

     Make you Master of my Horse,

     Like a lord, you'll live, of course;

     You'll have raiment of the best,

     Gold brocade upon your chest;

     On my royal word-you'll see!

     Are you willing?" "Well, I'll be ...

     In the Palace I shall live!

     And to me, the Tsar will give

     Handsome raiment of the best,

     Gold brocade upon my chest!

     Like a lord, I'll live in clover,

     Rule the Royal Stables over!

     I, a ploughboy, now will be

     Voivode to His Majesty!

     Well, I never! Your commission,

     I accept, Tsar, on condition-

     That you never treat me rough,

     Always let me sleep enough-

     Or you'll see no more of me!"


     Whistling to his horses, he

     Sauntered through the city, singing,

     Carelessly his mittens swinging,

     Followed by his steeds a-prancing

     And his humpbacked horse a-dancing

     To the rhythm of his song,

     And the marvel of the throng.

     As for his two brothers, they

     Stowed the silver safe away

     In their belts; then, in high feather,

     Had a drink or two together

     And rode home in glee; once there,

     Shared the money fair and square;

     Married, 'mid much joy and laughter,

     Lived and prospered ever after.

     And the rest of all their days

     Spoke of their Ivan with praise.


     Let us now forget those two

     And, good people, Christians true,

     I'll amuse you if I can

     With the deeds of our Ivan.

     How he ruled the stables over,

     Living like a lord in clover,

     And was taken for a sprite;

     How he lost his feather bright;

     How he laid the Fire-Bird's snare;

     How he stole the Tsar-Maid fair;

     How he found her ring for her,

     How he was her messenger;

     How the Sun, at his request,

     Gave the Monster Whale his rest;

     One more deed, but not the least,

     How he thirty ships released;

     How, when boiled in cauldrons, he

     Came out handsome as could be.

     In a word, how our young man

     Ended up as Tsar Ivan.
PART TWO


     Tales, you know, are quickly spun,

     Deeds are sooner said than done.


     Onже again my tale proceeds

     Of Ivan and of his deeds,

     Of the tiny fallow bay

     Talking horse, so wise and gay.

     Goats are grazing on the seas,

     Hills are overgrown with trees;

     Golden bridle, loosely swinging,

     See the stallion sunward winging-

     Far below him, forests glide;

     Thunder-clouds, on every side,

     Race across the sky and dash,

     Hurling lightning as they crash.

     Wait-this is the prelude to

     What I shall be telling you.

     Have you heard of Buyan Island

     Floating on the ocean wild, and

     Of the maiden wondrous fair

     Sleeping in a casket there?

     Forest beasts with gentle tread

     Guard her grave, while overhead

     Nightingales their music pour.

     Wait, my friends, a little more-

     Now my prelude's said and done,

     And my story is begun.


     Well, good friends and Christians true,

     Fellow-countrymen-look you-

     Our young fellow made his way

     To the Palace that fine day.

     He is Master of the Horse

     And he doesn't pine, of course,

     For his brothers and his dad.

     And, indeed, why should our lad,

     Living in the Royal Court,

     Waste on them a single thought?

     He has garments gay in plenty

     And possesses five and twenty

     Chests, all full of caps and shoes

     Out of which to pick and choose.

     All he does is eat his fill,

     Slake his thirst, and sleep at will.


     Now, the chamberlain began,

     As weeks passed, to watch Ivan ...

     You should know, that he had been

     (Till Ivan came on the scene)

     Master of the Royal Horse-

     His was noble blood, of course-

     So, no wonder that he bore

     Malice towards Ivan, and swore

     That he'd die, but soon or late

     Drive the upstart from the gate.

     But the rogue, his good time biding

     And his double-dealing hiding,

     Feigned to be Ivan's best friend,

     Masked his feelings to this end,

     Thinking-"Wait, you dirty lout,

     Time will come, I'll turn you out."


     So, the chamberlain began

     As weeks passed, to watch Ivan;

     And he noticed that he never

     Fed or groomed those steeds, or ever

     Took them out for exercise;

     Yet those steeds, to his surprise,

     Always were, whene'er paraded,

     Brushed and burnished, manes a-braided.

     Tails, in flowing ringlets streaming,

     Glossy coats, like satin gleaming,

     Mangers-always full of wheat

     Which, it seemed, grew at their feet.

     And huge tubs, he could have sworn,

     Were fresh-filled with mead each morn.

     "Now, whatever can this mean?"

     Sighed the chamberlain in spleen-

     "Can it be, a goblin sprite

     Comes and plays his pranks at night?

     Watch him-that's what I shall do.

     And it should be easy to

     Spin a story in a flash

     And to settle that fool's hash.

     I shall tell the Tsar, of course,

     That the Master of the Horse

     Is a wicked infidel,

     And a sorcerer as well;

     That Old Nick his soul has taken,

     That he has God's Church forsaken,

     Bows before the Cross of Rome,

     During Lent, eats meat at home."


    

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Бомж подходит к двум студентам, идущим по улице... Один категорически отказывается дать ему денег, другой порылся в кармане - и дал бомжу несколько рублей.

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