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Fairy tales: Ivan the mediocre And Elena the Wise


Fairy tales: Ivan the mediocre And Elena the Wise

 A peasant woman, a widow, lived in one village. She lived for a long time and raised her son Ivan.

And now the time has come – Ivan has grown up. The mother is glad that he has become big, but it is bad that he grew up mediocre with her. And it’s true: every business leaves Ivan’s hands, not like people’s; every business is not in his favor and for the future, but everything is across. Ivan used to go to plow, his mother said to him:

– Above, the earth has blundered, on top it has been eaten with bread, you, son, deeper a little of your plow!

Ivan will plow the field deeper, reach the very clay and wrap the clay out; Then he sows bread – nothing will be born, and seeds will grow out. It is the same in another matter: Ivan tries to do what is best done in a kind way, but he has no luck and little reason. And the mother has become old, the work is beyond her strength. How should they live? And they lived poorly, they had nothing.

They finished the last crust of bread, the very last. The mother thinks about her son – how he will live, untalented! It would be necessary to marry him: with a reasonable wife, look, and an unsuccessful husband in the household is a worker and does not eat bread for free. Who, however, will take her mediocre son as her husband? Not only that the red maiden, but also the widow, hey, won’t take it!

As long as his mother was twisting like this, Ivan sat on the heap and did not grieve about anything.

He looks – an old man is walking, shabby, dazed, and the earth has eaten into his face, caught up with the wind.

– Sonny, – the old man says, – feed me: I grew thin for the long journey, there was nothing left in my bag.

Ivan answered him:

– And we, grandfather, do not have bread crumbs in the hut. If I had known that you would come, I would not have eaten the last edge myself just now, I would have left it for you. Go, at least I’ll wash you and rinse your shirt.

Ivan heated the bathhouse, washed the old man in the bathhouse, washed off all the dirt from him, steamed him with a broom, and then rinsed his shirt and ports clean and put him to sleep in the hut.

Here the old man rested, woke up and said:

– I will remember your good. If you feel bad, go to the forest. When you get to the place where two roads part, you will see there is a gray stone – push that stone with your shoulder and click: grandfather, they say, I will be here. The old man said so and left. And Ivan and his mother became very ill: they collected all the scrapers from the chest, ate all the crumbs.

– Wait for me, mother, – Ivan said. – Maybe I’ll bring you some bread.

– Yes, where are you! – answered the mother. – Where to you, mediocre, bread to get! You yourself should at least eat, but I’ll probably die if I’ve not eaten … I would have found a bride for myself, – lo and behold, in front of your wife, if the wise woman turns out to be, you will always be with bread.

Ivan sighed and went into the forest. He comes to the place where the roads part, he touched the stone with his shoulder, the stone and moved. That grandfather came to Ivan.

– What do you want? – is talking. – Al came to visit?

Grandfather took Ivan to the forest. Ivan sees that there are rich huts in the forest. Grandfather takes Ivan to one hut – to know, he is the owner here.

The old man told the kitchen fellow and the cook-grandmother to fry a ram for the first thing. The host began to treat the guest.

Ivan ate and asks for more.

– Fry, – he says, – give another ram and bread to the cracker.

The host grandfather told the kitchen fellow to fry another ram and serve a rug of wheat bread.

“If you please,” he says, “treat yourself to whatever your soul takes. Al not full?

“I’m well fed,” Ivan replies, “I thank you, but let your fellow take the bread and the ram to my mother, she doesn’t live.

The old owner ordered the young kitchen lad to take down Ivan’s mother two carpets of white bread and a whole ram. And then he says:

– Why don’t you live with your mother? Look, you grew up big, look – you are getting married, what will you feed your family?

Ivan answered him:

– And you don’t know how, grandfather! I don’t have a wife.

– What a woe! – said the owner. – And I’ll give my daughter to you in marriage. She’s a smart one, her mind is enough for two of you.

The old man called his daughter. Here is a beautiful girl in the upper room. No one had seen such beauty, and it was not known that it was in the world. Ivan glanced at her, and his heart stopped.

The old father looked at his daughter with sternness and said to her:

– Here is your husband, and you are his wife. The beautiful daughter only lowered her gaze:

– Your will, father. So they got married and began to live and live. They live well, richly, Ivan’s wife rules the house, and the old master is rarely at home: he walks around the world, looking for wisdom there among the people, and when he finds it, he returns to the court and writes it down in a book. And one day the old man brought a magic round mirror. He brought it from far away, from the master wizard from the cold mountains – he brought it, and even hid it. Ivan’s mother was now well fed and contented, but she lived, as before, in her hut in the village. The son called her to live with him, but her mother did not want to: she did not like life in the house of Ivan’s wife, with her daughter-in-law.

“I’m afraid, sonny,” said mother to Ivan. – Look, she, Yelenushka, your wife, what a beautiful written woman, rich and noble – how did you deserve her? Your father and I lived in poverty, and you were born without destiny at all.

And Ivan’s mother remained to live in her old hut. And Ivan lives and thinks: Mother speaks the truth; everything seems to be enough for him, and his wife is affectionate, she will not say a word across, but Ivan feels, as if it is always cold to him. And he lives like this with his young wife half-heartedly, but not so well at all. One day an old man comes to Ivan and says:

– I will go far, further than I went before, I will not return soon. Take, on you, the key from me. Before I wore it with me, but now I am afraid of losing it: the road is long for me. Take care of the key and don’t open the barn for it. And when you go to the barn, don’t take your wife there. And if you cannot bear it and lead your wife, don’t give her a colored dress. The time will come, I myself will give it to her, for her and the shore. Look, remember what I told you, otherwise you will lose your life in death!

The old man said and left. More time passed. Ivan thinks:

“Why so! I’ll go to the barn and see what is there, but I won’t take my wife!”

Ivan went to that barn that had always been locked up, opened it, looked – there was a lot of gold, pieces of it, and stones, like heat, were burning, and there was also good, for which Ivan did not know the name. And in the corner of the barn there was also a closet or a secret place, and the door led there. Ivan only opened the door to the closet and did not have time to step there, when he shouted by accident:

– Yelenushka, my wife, come here soon!

A semi-precious woman’s dress hung in the closet. It shone like a clear sky, and light, like a living wind, went over it. Ivan was delighted to see such a dress; it will just fit his wife and she will like it.

Ivan remembered that the old man had not told him to give his wife a dress, but what would become of the dress if he only showed it! And Ivan loved his wife: where she smiles, there is happiness for him.

The wife came. She saw this dress and clasped her hands.

– Ah, – he says, – what a kind dress!

Here she asks Ivan:

– Dress me in this dress and iron it so that it fits well.

And Ivan does not tell her to dress in a dress. Then she cries:

“You,” he says, “know you don’t love me: you regret such a kind dress for your wife. Let me at least thread my hands, I’ll feel what the dress is – maybe it won’t work. Ivan told her:

– Pass it, – he says, – experience what it will be like for you.

The wife put her hands in the sleeves and again to her husband:

– See nothing. Push your head into the gate. Ivan ordered. She stuck her head in, and pulled the dress over herself, and she wrapped herself all in it. She felt that there was a mirror in one pocket, took it out and looked.

– Look, – he says, – what a beauty, but she lives behind a mediocre husband! If I could become a bird, I would fly far, far away from here!

She screamed in a high voice, threw up her hands, lo and behold – and she was not there. She turned into a dove and flew out of the barn far, far into the blue sky, where she wished. Know, she put on a magical dress. Ivan was sunbathing here. Why grieve – he had no time. He put in a bag of bread and went to look for his wife.

– Eh, – he said, – what a villainess, she disobeyed her father, she left the parental yard without asking! I’ll find her, teach her wits!

He said so, but he remembered that he himself was living untalented, and he began to cry.

Here he is walking the path, walking the road, walking the path, it is bad for him, he grieves for his wife. Ivan sees – the pike lies by the water, dies completely, but cannot get into the water.

“Look,” thinks Ivan, “I’m feeling bad, but she’s even worse.” He picked up a pike and put it into the water. The pike has now dived into the depths and back up, stuck out its head and said:

– I will not forget your good. It will become bitter for you – just say: “Pike, pike, remember Ivan!” Ivan ate a piece of bread and walked on. He walks, walks, and the time is already at night.

Ivan looks and sees: the kite has caught a sparrow, holds it in its claws and wants to peck it.

“Eh,” Ivan looks, “I am in trouble, but death is a sparrow!”

Ivan frightened the kite, and he released the sparrow from its claws.

The sparrow sat on a branch, he himself says to Ivan:

– If you need it – call me: “Hey, they say, sparrow, remember my good!”

Ivan spent the night under a tree, and the next morning he went on. And already far from his home he moved away, all tired and became skinny in body, so that he also supports his clothes with his hand. And he had a long way to go, and Ivan walked for another year and six months. He walked all over the land, reached the sea, there is nowhere to go further.

He asks the inhabitant:

– Whose land is here, who is the king and queen?

The resident answers Ivan:

– Elena the Wise lives in our queens: she knows everything – she has such a book, where everything is written, and she sees everything – she has such a mirror. She can still see it.

Indeed, Elena saw Ivan in her mirror. She had Daria, a servant. So Daria wiped the dust from the mirror with a towel, looked into it herself, first admired herself, and then saw a strange peasant in him.

– No way, someone else’s man is coming! – said the maid to Elena the Wise. – From a distance, you see, he is walking: thin but all over the place, and worn out his bast shoes.

Elena the Wise looked in the mirror.

– And then, – he says, – a stranger! It was my husband who came. Ivan approached the royal court. He sees that the yard is fenced off. And in the tyna there are stakes, and on the stakes there are human dead heads; only one stake is empty, there is nothing.


Ivan asks the inhabitant – what is it, they say?

And a resident to him:

“And these,” he says, “are the suitors of our queen, Helena the Wise, who wooed her. Our queen – you have not seen her – an unspeakable beauty and a sorceress in the mind. So the grooms, noble and daring, are wooing her. And she needs such a groom to be too clever, that’s what! And whoever does not overthink her, she will execute those with death. Now one stake remained: this is for the one who still comes to her husband.

– Yes, here I am going to her husband! – said Ivan.

– So, and the stake is empty for you, – answered the inhabitant and went to where his hut stood.

Ivan came to Elena the Wise. And Elena is sitting in her royal room, and her father’s dress is on her, in which she arbitrarily clothed herself in the barn.

– What do you want? – Elena the Wise asked. – Why did you come?

– To look at you, – Ivan tells her, – I miss you.

“They missed me too,” said Elena the Wise and pointed to the tyn outside the window, where there were dead heads.

Ivan then asked:

– Al you are not my wife anymore?

“I was your wife,” the queen tells him, “but I’m not the same now. What a husband you are to me, a mediocre man! And if you want me to be your wife, deserve me again! And if you do not deserve it, get your head off your shoulders! There is an empty stake sticking out in the tyne.

– The empty stake does not miss me, – said Ivan. – Look, as if you miss me. Tell me: what should you do?

The queen answered him:

– And do what I command! Hide from me wherever you want, even at the end of the world, so that I do not find you, but I find you – I would not recognize you. Then you will be smarter than me, and I will become your wife. And if you fail to be in secrecy, I guess you, you will lose your head.

“Allow me,” Ivan asked, “to sleep on straw and eat your bread until morning, and in the morning I will fulfill your wish.

In the evening the servant Daria laid straw in the entryway and brought a little crust of bread and a jug of kvass. Ivan lay down and thinks: what will happen in the morning? And he sees – Daria came, sat down on the porch in the entryway, spread the queen’s light dress and began to mend a hole in it. Daria darned, darned, sewed up, sewn up a hole, and then she began to cry. Ivan asks her:

– Why are you crying, Daria?

– And how can I not cry, – Daria answers, – if tomorrow my death will be! The queen told me to sew a hole in my dress, but the needle does not sew it, but only rips it open: the dress is so delicate, it opens from the needle. And I will not sew, the queen will execute me in the morning.

“Let me try to sew,” Ivan says, “maybe I’ll sew it, and you don’t need to die.

– How can you give such a dress? – Daria says. – The queen said: you are a mediocre man. However, try a little and I’ll see.

Ivan sat down at the dress, took the needle and began to sew. He sees – and it is true that the needle does not sew, but tears: the dress is as light as air, the needle cannot take hold in it. Ivan dropped the needle, began to tie each thread with another thread with his hands. Daria saw and got angry with Ivan:

– There is no skill in you! But how can you tie all the threads in the hole with your hands? There are thousands of them here!

– And I will connect them with desire and patience, look, and I will tie them! – answered Ivan. – And you go and go to bed, by the morning I, look, and get off.

Ivan worked all night. A month from heaven shone on him, and the dress shone by itself, as if it were alive, and he saw every thread of it.

By the morning dawn, Ivan managed. He looked at his work: there was no longer a hole, everywhere the dress was now one-piece. He lifted the dress by his hand and felt – it seemed to be heavy. He looked at the dress: in one pocket there was a book – in it the old man, Elena’s father, wrote down all the wisdom, and in the other pocket there was a round mirror, which the old man had brought from the master wizard from the cold mountains. Ivan looked in the mirror – it was visible in it, but dimly; he read a book – did not understand anything. Then Ivan thought: “People say I am mediocre, – the truth is.”

The next morning, Daria the servant came, she took the ready-made dress, examined it and said to Ivan:

– Thank you. You saved me from death, and I will remember your good.

Now the sun has risen over the earth, it’s time for Ivan to go to a secret place where Queen Elena will not find him. He went out into the yard and saw that the haystack was piled up; he lay down in the hay, thought that he had completely taken cover, and the yard dogs were talking at him, and Daria shouted from the porch:

– What a mediocre! I even see you, not only that the queen! Get out of there, don’t muddy the hay with bast shoes!

Ivan got out and wondered where to go? I saw – the sea is close.

He went to the sea and remembered a pike.

– Pike, – he says, – pike, remember Ivan!

A pike leaned out of the water.

– Go, – he says, – I’ll hide you at the bottom of the sea!

Ivan threw himself into the sea. A pike dragged it to the bottom, buried it in the sand, and muddied the water with its tail. Elena the Wise took her round mirror, directed it to the ground: Ivan was not there; pointed to the sky: Ivan is not there; she pointed out to the sea on the water: and there you can’t see Ivan, only the water is muddy. “I’m cunning, I’m smart,” the queen thinks, “and he’s not simple, Ivan Bestalny!” She opened her father’s book of wisdom and reads there: “The cunning of the mind is strong, but the good is stronger than the cunning, the good and the creature remembers.” The queen read these words first from the written, and then from the unwritten, and the book said to her: de Ivan lies in the sand at the bottom of the sea; click the pike, tell her to get Ivan from the bottom, or else, they say, I’ll catch you, pike, and eat you at lunchtime.

The queen sent Daria the servant, told her to call a pike from the sea, and let the pike lead Ivan from the bottom.

Ivan appeared to Elena the Wise.

– Execute me, – he says, – I did not deserve you.

Elena the Wise thought: she will always have time to execute, and she and Ivan are not strangers to each other, they lived in the same family.

She says to Ivan:

– Go and hide again. Whether you outsmart me or not, then I will either execute you or have mercy.

Ivan went to look for a secret place so that the queen would not find him. Where will you go! Queen Helena has a magic mirror: she sees everything in it, and what is not visible in the mirror, a wise book will tell her about it. Ivan called:

– Hey, sparrow, do you remember my goodness?

And the sparrow is already here.

– Fall to the ground, – he says, – become a grain!

Ivan fell to the ground, became a grain, and a sparrow ate it.

And Elena the Wise pointed the mirror at the ground, at the sky, at the water – Ivan was not there. Everything is in the mirror, but what is needed is not. Wise Elena got angry, threw the mirror on the floor, and it broke. Then Daria the servant came to the upper room, collected the fragments from the mirror in the hem and carried them to the black corner of the courtyard. Elena the Wise father’s book opened. And he reads there: “Ivan is in the grain, and the grain is in the sparrow, and the sparrow sits on the wattle fence.”

Then Elena told Darya to call a sparrow from the wattle fence: let the sparrow give the grain, otherwise the kite will eat it.

Daria went to the sparrow. Darya heard a sparrow, got scared and threw a grain out of its beak. The grain fell to the ground and turned into Ivan. He became as he was.

Here Ivan appears again before Elena the Wise.

– Execute me now, – he says, – it is evident that I really am mediocre, and you are wise.

“I’ll be executed tomorrow,” the queen tells him. – Tomorrow I’ll hang your head on the rest of the stake. Ivan lies in the hallway in the evening and thinks about what to do when he has to die in the morning. Then he remembered his mother. He remembered, and it became easy for him – he loved her so much.

He looks – Daria is walking and bringing him a pot of porridge.

Ivan ate porridge. Daria says to him:

“Don’t be afraid of our queen. She’s not too angry.

And Ivan to her:

– The wife is not afraid of her husband. I would only have time to teach her wisdom.

“You don’t hurry to the execution tomorrow,” Daria tells him, “but tell me, you have something to do, you’re not allowed to die, you’re expecting mother to visit.”

Here in the morning Ivan says to Elena the Wise:

– Allow me to live a little more: I want to see my mother – maybe she will come to visit. The queen looked at him.

“You can’t live for free,” he says. – And you hide from me for the third time. I will not find you, live, so be it.

Ivan went to look for a secret place, and Daria the servant met him.

“Wait,” she says, “I’ll cover you.” I remember your good.

She blew into Ivan’s face, and Ivan disappeared, he turned into the warm breath of a woman. Daria breathed in and pulled him into her chest. Then Daria went to the upper room, took the Tsaritsa’s book from the table, wiped the dust off it, and opened it and blew into it: immediately her breath turned into a new capital letter of that book, and Ivan became a letter. Daria folded the book and went out. Soon came Elena the Wise, opened the book and looked into it: where is Ivan. And the book says nothing. And what he says is not clear to the queen; there was no sense in the book. The queen did not know that from the new capital letter all the words in the book had changed.

Elena the Wise slammed the book and hit it on the ground. All the letters scattered from the book, and the first, capital letter, as it hit, turned into Ivan.

Ivan looks at Helen the Wise, his wife, he looks and cannot take his eyes off. The tsarina also looked at Ivan, and when she looked, she smiled at him. And she became even more beautiful than before.

“But I thought,” she says, “my husband is a mediocre man, but he hid himself from the magic mirror and outwitted the book of wisdom!

They began to live in peace and harmony and lived like that for the time being. Yes, the queen asks Ivan once:

– Why doesn’t your mother come to visit us?

Ivan answers her:

– And that’s true! Why, your father has not been there for a long time! In the morning I’ll go for my mother and my father.

And in the morning, barely light, Mother Ivan and Father Helena the Wise themselves came to visit their children. Father Helena knew the way to her kingdom; they walked short and did not get tired.

Ivan bowed to his mother, and fell at the old man’s feet.

– It’s bad, – he says, – father! I did not observe your prohibition. Forgive me, mediocre!

The old man hugged him and forgave him.

– Thank you, – he says, – son. There was charm in the cherished dress, in the book – wisdom, and in the mirror – all the semblance of the world. I thought, I collected a dowry for my daughter, I didn’t just want to give it before the time. I collected everything for her, but I did not put what was in you – the main talent. I went farther after him, but he turned out to be close. Apparently, it is not put and is not given, but is obtained by the person himself.

Elena the Wise cried here, kissed Ivan, her husband, and asked his forgiveness. Since then, they began to live gloriously – both Elena and Ivan, and their parents – and still live.


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