A RUSSIAN FAIRYTALE FOR YOU
Once upon a time, there was an old man and an old woman. They had lived a lifetime together, but never had any children. So they took a little log, swaddled it like a baby and began to rock it gently singing all the while: "Sleep, Tereshechka; close you r eyes. The swallows all have gone to bed. The martins too lay down their heads. The fox and the vixen both are asleep So are the cows, so are the sheep. Sleep, Tereshechka; close your eyes, As we sing this lullaby."
They rocked and rocked, sang and sang, and instead of a log they had a little son - Thereshechka, a real delight. The boy grew up and when he was of an age to look after himself, the old man made him a boat. He painted the boat white and the paddles red. Tereshechka got into his new boat and said: "Boat, o boat, carry me far away! Boat, o boat, carry me far away!" And the boat did indeed carry him far away. Tereshechka began to catch fish and his mother brought him milk and cheese. She would come down to the shore and call out: "Tereshechka, Tereshechka, come over there! I've brought you food and drink, my dear!" Tereshechka could hear his mother calling far out on the water and came in to the shore. His mother took mthe fish he had caught, gave him food, drink and a change of clothes and left him to go back to his fishing. A witch found out about all this. She came down to the shore and called out in her terrible voice: "Tereshechka, Tereshecka, come over there! I've brought you food and drink, my dear!"
Tereshechka realised it was not his mother's voice, though, and said:
"Boat, o boat, carry me far away! For its not mother's voice I hear today!"
Then the old witch ran to the forge and had the smith beat her throat into shape so that her voice sounded like Tereshecka's mother. After the smith had done his work, the witch went down to the shore again and called out in her new voice: "Tereshechka, Tereshecka, come over here! I've brought you food and drink, my dear!"
This time Tereshechka failed o notice the deception and came into the shore. The witch seized him, popped him in a sack and ran off. She carried him to her hut on chicken's legs and told her daughter Alionka to stoke up the stove and roast Tereshechka. Meanwhile, she went off to see what else she could catch. Alionka stoked the stove until it was as hot as she could get it, then said to Tereshechka: "Climb on the shovel." He lay down on the shovel, but spread his arms and legs wide so that he would not fit in the oven. She shouted at him: "Lie properly!" "I don't know how - you show me."
"Lie down like a cat going to sleep." "You'd better lie down yourself and show me." Allionka got into the shovel and quick as a flash Tereshechka popped her in the oven and shut the door. Then he climbed out of the hut and up a tall oak tree. The witch came back, opened the oven and pulled out her daughter Alionka. She ate her all up and gnawed on the bones. Then she went outside and began rolling on the grass. She rolled this way and that, repeating to herself: "Rolling around, can't keep to my feet, I've eaten my fill of Tereshechka's meat."
Then Tereshechka called down from his oak: "Rolling around, can't keep to your feet, you've eaten your fill of Alionka's meat!" The witch said: "What was that? The wind in the leaves?" Again she repeated: "Rolling around, can't keep my feet, I've eaten my fill of Tereshechka's meat!" And Tereshechka called down: "Rolling around, can't keep your feet, you've eaten your fill of Alionka's meat!" The witch looked up and spotted him in the tall oak. She hurled herself at the tree and began gnawing at it. She gnawed and gnawed until her top front teeth broke. Then she ran to the forge: "Smith, smith, make me a pair of iron teeth." The smith made her a pair of teeth. The witch came back and started gnawing at the oak again. She gnawed and gnawed until her bottom front teeth broke. Then she ran to the forge: "Smith, smith, make me another pair of iron teeth!" The smith made her another pair of teeth. The witch came back and started gnawing at the oak again. She worked so hard and fast that the splinters simply flew. The oak was already swaying and on the point of failing. Tereshechka was wondering what on earth he could do when he saw the swan-geese flying by. He called out to them: "Swans, swans, geese, my dears! Carry me away from here! Take me back to father; take me back to mother!" But the swan-geese answered: "Honk, honk, there are more behind, hungrier than us. They will take you." The witch kept gnawing and gnawing. She glanced up at Tereshechka, licked her lips, and went back to work. Another skein of birds flew past. Tereshechka called out to them: "Swans, swans, geese, my dears! Carry me away from here! Take me back to father! Take me back to mother!" But the swan-geese answered: "Honk, honk, there is a pecked gosling behind. He will take you and bring you home." By now the witch had nearly finished. Another few bites and the oak would fall. The pecked gosling flew by. Tereshechka called out to him: "My dear swan-goose, carry me away from here! Take me back to father; take me back to mother!" The pecked gosling took pity on him, sat him on his neck, spread his wings, and flew away. They flew to Tereshechka's house and landed on the grass outside. The old woman was following the old custom and cooking pancakes in Tereshechka's memory, as she believed him to be dead. "Here's a pancake for you, old man, and here's one for me." Tereshechka called in through the window: "And where's my pancake?" The old woman heard him and said: "Just a moment, old man Who's that asking for a pancake?" The old man went outside, saw Tershechka, and brought him in. How they hugged and kissed each other! They fed and watered the pecked gosling until he became a fine goose, then they let him go. From that time on he spread his wings with pride and led the flock far and wide. Tereshechka was ever on his mind, he repaid the kindness by being kind.