Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Story of Lubim Czarevitch and the Winged Wolf (Russian Tale)


The Story of Lubim Czarevitch and the Winged Wolf (Russian Popular Tale) by Anton Dietrich (edited by Jacob Grimm) 1857

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IN a certain country there lived a Czar named Elidar, with his wife Militissa, who had three sons. The eldest son was named Aksof, the second Hut, and the youngest one Lubim; and they grew, not from day to day, but from hour to hour. And when the eldest son was twenty years of age, he begged leave of his parents to travel in other countries, and seek a beautiful princess for his wife. So his parents at last consented, gave him their blessing, and dismissed him.

Not long after this, Hut Czarevitch in like manner begged permission of his parents to travel; and the Czar and his wife gave their consent. So the two brothers went out into the world, and wandered about a long while, until at length nothing more was heard or seen of them, and they were given up for dead.

As the Czar and the Czarina were grieving for their lost sons, the youngest brother, Lubim, likewise entreated them to let him go forth, to seek his brothers. But his parents said to him, "Son, you are too young to undertake long travels; and how can we part with you, our only child left to us? We are already old, and to whom should we leave our crown?" But Lubim would not be denied; he remained firm to his purpose, and said, “It is surely right and needful for me to travel and see the world; for if ever I am called to rule over the country, I must learn to do so with justice.”

When the Czar and Czarina heard these words from their son, they were overjoyed, and gave him their consent to travel; but only for a short time, and making him promise to have no companions, nor expose himself to any dangers. Upon taking leave, Lubim bethought him how to provide himself with a knightly steed and a suit of armour; and as he went musing thus to the city, an old woman met him, who said, “Wherefore so sad, Lubim Czarevitch?” But he did not deign to reply, and passed on without saying a word. Presently however, reflecting that old folk are wiser than young ones, he turned round, and going up to the old woman accosted her, saying that he had to travel far and wide in search of his brothers, but could obtain neither a steed nor armour. Then the old woman said, “What think you? upon your father's forbidden meadows", behind twelve gates, are a trusty steed, a suit of armour, and a sword; the steed is fastened by twelve chains.” [The “royal forbidden meadows,” were those belonging to the Sovereign, the use of which was strictly forbidden to his subjects. When an enemy came into the country, they first pitched their camp in these fields, which was considered a declaration of hostilities.]

When Lubim heard this, he thanked the old woman, and hastened overjoyed to the forbidden meadows. On reaching the place where the horse was, he stopped, and bethought him how he could break through the twelve gates. At last he made the attempt, and presently broke down one gate; then the steed perceived by his scent the presence of the brave youth, and with a great effort burst his chains; and Lubim Czarevitch then broke through three more gates, and the steed trampled down the rest. Then Lubim surveyed the steed and the armour; and he put on the armour, but left the steed in the meadows; after which he went to his parents, told them all that had befallen him, and begged their blessing on his travels. So his parents gave him their blessing, and mounting his gallant steed he set forth on his journey. And he went his way, and travelled until he came at length to a place where three roads met; in the centre stood a pillar, with three inscriptions, which ran as follows: “He who turns to the right will have plenty to eat, but his steed will starve; he who goes straight forward will hunger himself, but his steed will have food enough; and whoever takes the left road will be slain by the Winged Wolf.”

When Lubim Czarevitch read this, he pondered over it, and resolved to choose the left road, and either be slain himself, or destroy the Winged Wolf, and free all those who might be travelling that way. So he journeyed on until he came to the open plains, where he pitched his tent to rest, when on a sudden he perceived in the west the Winged Wolf come flying toward him. Instantly up started Lubim Czarevitch, donned his armour, and leaped upon his steed. And Lubim rode at the Wolf, which beat him so hard with his wings that he nearly fell from his horse; nevertheless Lubim kept his seat, flew into a violent rage, and with his battle-sword struck the Winged Wolf a blow that felled him to the ground, and injured his right wing so that he could not fly.


When the Wolf came to himself, he said to Lubim in a human voice, “Do not kill me! I will follow and serve you as your trusty squire.” Then Lubim replied, “Know you where my brothers are?” And the Wolf answered, “They have long ago been slain; but we will bring them to life again, if we can obtain the beautiful Princess.” “But how to accomplish that?” said Lubim. “Hark-ye,” replied the Wolf; “leave your steed here, and—”

“How!” cried Lubim, “shall I part from my faithful steed?”

“Only hear me out,” said the Wolf: “I will change myself into a horse, and carry you; but this steed of yours is not fit for the task we have to do; in the city where the Princess lives, there are strings from the city-walls to all the bells; and we must leap over all these without touching the smallest, otherwise we shall be caught and taken prisoners.”

Lubim Czarevitch saw at once that the Wolf spoke well and wisely; so he consented, and exclaimed, "On then!" Away they went, until they came to the stone wall of the city; and when Lubim looked on it, he grew frightened, and cried, “How is it possible to leap over this high wall?” But the Wolf replied, “I have no difficulty in this; but afterwards fresh obstacles will arise, from your falling in love; then you must bathe in the water of life, and take some for your brothers, and also some of the water of death.” Thereupon they leaped safely over the city wall, without touching a stone. Lubim stopped at the palace, and went to the court of the beautiful Princess; and on entering the first apartment he found a number of lady's-maids all fast aleep, but looked in vain for the Princess. Then he went into the second room, where he found a number of beautiful ladies-in-waiting, all fast asleep, but the Princess was still not there. Then Lubim went into the third apartment, and there he saw the Princess herself, sleeping; his heart beat with rapture on beholding her beauty, and he fell so deeply in love, that he could not tear himself away from her presence. But at last, fearing that he might be seized if he remained too long, he went into the garden, to fetch some of the waters of life and of death. Then he bathed in the water of life, and taking with him a bladder-full of both waters, he returned to the Wolf. And as he was sitting on his Wolf-steed, the Wolf said, “You are grown so heavy, we cannot leap back over the wall, but shall strike against it, and arouse all the people. Nevertheless you shall kill them; and when they are all slain, mind that you seize on a white horse. I will then help you to fight; and as soon as we reach our tent, take your own steed and I will mount the white horse. And when we have slain all the warriors, the Princess herself will come to meet you, and offer to be your wife, professing a violent love for you.”

Thereupon they attempted to leap over the high city-wall; but they touched the strings, and instantly the bells rang an alarm through all the city, and the drums beat. Then every one jumped up, and ran out of the court with drawn sword; whilst some opened the gate, that no misfortune might befall the Princess. Presently the Princess herself awoke; and perceiving that a stranger had been in the apartment, she gave an alarm, which soon brought all the courtiers around her. There was speedily gathered a crowd of valiant knights, and she said to them, “Brave warriors, go forth and fetch hither this insolent stranger,-bring me his head; so shall his temerity be punished!” And the knights all promised not to rest until they had slain the man, and brought his head to the court. So the Princess dismissed them, and went up into her balcony, and gazed after her warriors and the stranger who had dared to intrude into her Court.

When the alarm was given, Lubim Czarevitch had already ridden a great distance on his Wolf-steed, and was half-way to his tent before the knights could overtake him. As soon as he saw them approach, he wheeled about, and grew furious at beholding such an army of knights in the field. Then they fell upon him; but Lubim laid about him valiantly with his sword, and slew many, whilst the Wolf-steed trod down still more under his hoofs: and it ended in their slaying nearly all the knights. One however still remained, with a head like a beer-barrel, who rode at Lubim Czarevitch, mounted upon a white steed; but Lubim slew him also, leaped on the horse, and left the Wolf to rest; and after awhile they betook themselves to their tent.

When the beautiful Princess saw Lubim Czarevitch overcome singly such a large host, she collected a still larger army, and sent them forth against him; whilst she retired again to her balcony. On reaching the tent the Wolf transformed himself into a valiant knight, such as no one can imagine except in a fairytale. And presently the army of the beautiful Princess was seen approaching—a countless host; whereupon Lubim Czarevitch mounted his white steed, accompanied by the Wolf, and awaited their attack: and Lubim, taking the right wing, ordered the Wolf to attack the left, and they made ready for the charge. Then on a sudden they fell upon the warriors of the Princess with a fierce onset, mowing them down like grass, until only two persons remained upon the field, the Wolf and Lubim. And after this dreadful fight was ended, the Wolf said to Lubim, “See, yonder comes the Princess herself, and she will ask you to take her to wife: fear nothing any longer; I have expiated my crime through your bravery; dismiss me now, and let me return to my own kingdom.” So Lubim thanked the Wolf for his service and counsel, and bade him farewell.

The Wolf thereupon vanished; and when Lubim Czarevitch saw the beautiful Princess coming toward him, he rejoiced, and going to meet her, took her lily-white hands, and kissing her lips, said, “Did I not love you, fair Princess, I should not have remained here; but you have seen that my love was stronger than your armies.” Then the Princess replied, “Valiant knight, you have overcome all my powers, and my strong and famous knights, on whom my hopes relied; my city is now desolate,—I will leave it, and go with you: henceforth you shall be my protector.”

“Joyfully do I take you for my wife,” replied Lubim, “and I will guard and protect you and your kingdom faithfully.” Conversing thus they entered the tent, and sat down to rest and feast.

Early the next morning they mounted their horses, and set out on their journey to the kingdom of Elidar; and on the way Lubim Czarevitch said, “Alas, fair Princess, I had two elder brothers, who left our home before I did, in hopes of winning your hand; in these wilds they have been murdered, and where their remains lie I know not; but I have brought with me the waters of life and death, and will seek and restore them to life; they cannot be far distant from our road; do you therefore ride on to the pillar with the inscriptions, and wait for me. I shall soon rejoin you.”

So saying, Lubim Czarevitch parted from the Princess, and went forth to seek his brothers’ remains. He found them at last among some trees; and after sprinkling them with the water of death, they grew together; then he sprinkled them with the water of life, and his brothers became alive, and stood up on their feet. Then Aksof and Hut exclaimed, “Ah, brother! how long have we been sleeping here?” And Lubim said, “Ay, indeed, and you might have still slept on for ever, had it not been for me.” Then he related to them all his adventures,—how he had conquered the Wolf, and won the beautiful Princess, and had brought them the waters of life and death. Thereupon they repaired to the tent, where the Princess awaited them; and they all rejoiced and feasted together.

When they had retired to rest, Aksof Czarevitch said to his brother Hut, “What a tale, indeed, shall we have to tell to our parents! our youngest brother will boast that he won the beautiful Princess, and awakened us from death. Had we not better kill him at once, than suffer such disgrace?” So they agreed, and took the battle-sword, and cut Lubim Czarevitch to pieces, and cast his remains to the winds. Then they threatened the Princess with the same fate, if she betrayed the secret to any one; and drawing lots, the waters of life and death fell to Hut, and the beautiful Princess to Aksof Czarevitch.

So they journeyed on to their father's kingdom; and when they reached the forbidden meadows, and had pitched their tents, the Czar Elidar sent messengers to demand who had encamped there. Then Hut replied, “Aksof and Hut Czarevitch are come, with a beautiful Princess; and tell our father the Czar that we have brought with us the waters of life and death.”

The messenger immediately returned to the Court and told this to the Czar, who inquired whether all his three sons were come; but the messenger replied, “Only the two eldest, your Majesty; the youngest is not with them.” The Czar nevertheless rejoiced greatly, and hastened to tell the Czarina his wife of the return of their two eldest sons.

Then Elidar and Militissa arose, and went to meet their sons, and embraced them tenderly. And when they returned to the palace, a great banquet was made, and they feasted seven days and seven nights. At the end of this time they began to think of the nuptials, and to make preparations, and invite the guests, nobles, and brave warriors and knights.

Now the Winged Wolf, who knew that they had slain their brother Lubim Czarevitch, ran and fetched the waters of life and death, collected all the remains of Lubim, and sprinkled them with the water of death: thereupon the bones grew together; and no sooner had he sprinkled them with the water of life, than the brave youth stood up, as if nothing had happened to him, and said, “Ah, what a time I have slept!” Then the Wolf answered, “Ay, you would have slept on for ever, had not I come to awaken you;” and he related to Lubim all that his brothers had done; and changing himself into a horse, he said, “Hasten after them,-you will be sure to overtake them; tomorrow your brother Aksof is to marry the Princess.”

So Lubim instantly set out, and the Wolf-steed galloped over hill and dale, until they arrived at the city of the Czar, where Lubim dismounted. Then he walked through the market, and bought a gusli,[A dulcimer] and stationed himself in a spot which the Princess would pass. And as she was being conducted to the church, Lubim Czarevitch began to sing the events of his youth, accompanying himself on the gusli; and when the beautiful Princess drew nigh, he sang of his brothers, and how cruelly they had slain him and deceived their father. Then the Princess stopped her carriage, and ordered her attendants to call to her the stranger with the gusli, and to demand his name and who he was. But without answering a word, Lubim went straight to the Princess; and when she saw him, she was overjoyed, and seating him in her carriage they drove off to his parents.

When the Czar and his wife beheld their son Lubim, they were unspeakably glad; and the beautiful Princess said, “Lubim Czarevitch it was, and not Aksof, who gained my hand, and it was he too who obtained the waters of life and death.” Then Lubim related all his adventures; and the Czar and Czarina, after summoning their sons Aksof and Hut, asked them why they had acted so unnaturally; but they denied the charge. Thereat the Czar waxed wroth, and commanded that they should be shot at the gate of the city. Lubim Czarevitch married the beautiful Princess, and they lived in perfect harmony for many many years; and so ends the story.

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