THE MAGIC EGG
HERE was once upon a time a lark who was the Czar
among the birds, and he took unto himself as his
Czaritsa a little shrew mouse. They had a field all
to themselves, which they sowed with wheat, and when
the wheat grew up they divided it between them. When
they found that there was one grain over, the mouse
"Let me have it!"
But the lark said:
"No, let me have it!"
"What's to be done?" thought they.
They would have liked to take counsel of some one; but
they had no parents or kinsmen-nobody at all to whom
they could go and ask advice in the matter. At last the
"At any rate, let me have the first nibble!"
The lark Czar agreed to this; but the little mouse
fastened her teeth in it, and ran off into her hole
with it, and there ate it all up. At this the lark
Czar was wroth, and collected all the birds of the air
to make war upon the mouse Czaritsa; but the Czaritsa
called together all the beasts to defend her, and so
the war began. Whenever the beasts came rushing out
of the wood to tear the birds to pieces, the birds flew
up into the trees; but the birds kept in the air, and
hacked and pecked the beasts wherever they could.
Thus they fought the whole day, and in the evening they
lay down to rest. Now when the Czaritsa looked
around upon her forces she saw that the ant was taking
no part in the war. She immediately went and
commanded the ant to be there by evening, and when the
ant came the Czaritsa ordered her to climb up the trees
with her kinsmen, and bite off the feathers around the
Next day, when there was light enough to see by, the
mouse Czaritsa cried:
"Up, up, my warriors!"
Thereupon the birds also rose up, and immediately fell
to the ground, where the beasts tore them to bits.
Czar-  itsa overcame the Czar. But there was one eagle who saw
there was something wrong, so he did not try to fly,
but re-mained sitting on the tree. And lo! there came
an archer along that way, and seeing the eagle on the
tree, he took aim at it; but the eagle besought him and
"Do not kill me, and I'll be of great service to thee!"
The archer aimed a second time, but the eagle besought
him still more and said:
"Take me down rather and keep me, and thou shalt see
that it will be to thy advantage."
The archer, however, took aim a third time, but the
eagle began to beg of him most piteously:
"Nay, kill me not, but take me home with thee, and thou
shalt see what great advantage it will be to thee!"
The archer believed the bird. He climbed up the tree,
took the eagle 'down, and carried it home. Then the
eagle said to
"Put me in a hut, and feed me with flesh till my wings
Now this archer had two cows and a steer, and he at
once killed and cut up one of the cows for the eagle.
The eagle fed upon this cow for a full year, and then
he said to the archer:
"Let me go, that I may fly. I see that my wings have
already grown again!"
Then the archer let him loose from the hut. The eagle
flew around and around, he flew about for half a day,
and then he returned to the archer and said:
"I feel I have but little strength in me, slay me
And the archer obeyed him, and slew the second cow, and
the eagle lived upon that for yet another year. Again
the eagle flew around and around in the air. He flew
around and about the whole day till evening, when he
returned to the archer and said:
"I am stronger than I was, but I have still but little
strength in me, slay me the steer also!"
 Then the man thought to himself:
"What shall I do? Shall I slay it, or shall I not
At last he said:
"Well! I've sacrificed more than this before, so let
go too!" and he took the steer and slaughtered it for
Then the eagle lived upon this for another whole
longer, and after that he took to flight, and flew high
to the very clouds. Then he flew down again to the man
said to him:
"I thank thee, brother, for that thou hast been the
of me! come now and sit upon me!"
"Nay, but," said the man," what if some evil befall
"Sit on me, I say!" cried the eagle.
So the archer sat down upon the bird.
Then the eagle bore him nearly as high as the big
and then let him fall. Down plumped the man; but the
did not let him fall to the earth, but swiftly flew
and upheld him, and said to him:
"How dost thou feel now?"
"I feel," said the man, " as if I had no life in me."
Then the eagle replied:
"That was just how I felt when thou didst aim at me the
Then he said to him:
"Sit on my back again!"
The man did not want to sit on him, but what could he
do? Sit he must. Then the eagle flew with him quite as
high as the big clouds, and shook him off, and down he
fell headlong till he was about two fathoms from the
ground, when the bird again flew beneath him and held
him up. Again the eagle asked him:
"How dost thou feel?"
And the man replied:
"I feel just as if all my bones were already broken to
"That is just how I felt when thou didst take aim at
 the second time," replied the eagle. "But now sit on
my back once more."
The man did so, and the eagle flew with him as high as
the small fleecy clouds, and then he shook him off, and
down he fell headlong; but when he was but a hand's
breadth from the earth, the eagle again flew beneath
him and held him up, and said to him:
"How dost thou feel now?"
And he replied:
"I feel as if I no longer belonged to this world!"
"That is just how I felt when thou didst aim at me the
third time," replied the eagle. "But now," continued
the bird, "thou art guilty no more. We are quits. I owe
thee naught, and thou owest naught to me; so sit on my
back again, and I'll take thee to my master."
They flew on and on, they flew till they came to the
eagle's uncle. And the eagle said to the archer:
"Go to my house, and when they ask thee: 'Hast thou not
seen our poor child?' reply, 'Give me the magic egg,
and I'll bring him before your eyes!' "
So he went to the house, and there they said to him:
"Hast thou heard of our poor child with thine ears, or
seen him with thine eyes, and hast thou come hither
willingly or unwillingly?"
And he answered:
"I have come hither willingly!"
Then they asked:
"Hast thou smelt out anything of our poor youngster ?
for it is three years now since he went to the wars,
and there's neither sight nor sound of him more!"
And he answered:
"Give me the magic egg, and I'll bring him straightway
before your eyes!"
Then they replied:
" 'Twere better we never saw him than that we should
give thee the magic egg!"
Then he went back to the eagle and said to him:
 "They said: ' 'Twere better we never saw him than that
we should give thee the magic egg.' "
Then the eagle answered:
"Let us fly on farther!"
They flew on and on till they came to the eagle's
brother, and the archer said just the same to him as he
had said to the eagle's uncle, and still he didn't get
the egg. Then they flew to the eagle's father, and the
eagle said to him:
"Go up to the hut, and if they ask for me, say that
that thou hast seen me and will bring me before their
So he went up to the hut, and they said to him:
"O Czarevich, we hear thee with our ears and see thee
with our eyes, but hast thou come hither of thine own
free will or by the will of another?"
And the archer answered:
"I have come hither of my own free will!"
Then they asked him:
"Hast thou seen our son? Lo, these four years we
have not had news of him. He went off to the wars,
and perchance he has been slain there."
And he answered them:
"I have seen him, and if thou wilt give me the magic
egg,| I will bring him before your eyes."
And the eagle's father said to him:
"What good will such a thing do thee? We had better
give thee the lucky penny!"
But he answered:
"I don't want the lucky penny, give me the magic egg!"
"Come hither, then!" said he, "and thou shalt have it."
So he went into the hut. Then the eagle's father
rejoiced and gave him the egg, and said to him:
"Take heed thou dost not break it anywhere on the road,
and when thou gettest home, hedge it around and build a
strong fence about it, and it will do thee good."
So he went homeward. He went on and on till a great
thirst came upon him. So he stopped at the first
spring he came to, and as he stooped to drink he
stumbled and the magic
 egg was broken. Then he perceived that an ox had come
out of the egg and was rolling away. He gave chase to
the ox, but whenever he was getting close to one side
of it, the other side of it got farther away from him.
Then the poor fellow cried:
"I shall do nothing with it myself, I see."
At that moment an old she dragon came up to him and
"What wilt thou give me, O man, if I chase this ox back
again into the egg for thee?"
And the archer replied:
"What can I give?"
The dragon said to him:
"Give me what thou hast at home without thy will and
"Done!" said the archer.
Then the dragon chased the ox nicely into the egg
again, patched it up prettily, and gave it into the
man's hand. Then the archer went home, and when he got
home he found a son had been born to him there, and his
son said to him:
"Why didst thou give me to the old she dragon, dad? But
never mind, I'll manage to live in spite of her."
Then the father was very grieved for a time, but what
could he do? Now the name of this son was Ivan.
So Ivan lost no time in going to the dragon, and the
dragon said to him:
"Go to my house and do me three tasks, and if thou dost
them not, I'll devour thee."
Now around the dragon's house was a large meadow
stretching as far as the eye could reach. And the
dragon said to him:
"Thou must in a single night weed out this field and
sow wheat in it, and reap the wheat and store it, all
in this very night; and thou must bake me a roll out of
this selfsame wheat, and the roll must be lying ready
for me on my table in the morning."
Then Ivan went and leaned over the fence, and his heart
within him was sore troubled. Now near to him there was
 post, and on this post was the dragon's starveling
daughter. So when he came thither and fell a-weeping,
she asked him:
"Wherefore dost thou weep?"
And he said: "How can I help weeping? The dragon has
bidden me do something I can never, never do; and what
is more, she has bidden me do it in a single night."
"What is it, pray?" asked the dragon's daughter. Then
he told her.
"Not every bush bears a berry!" cried she. "Promise
take me to wife, and I'll do all she has bidden thee
He promised, and then she said to him again:
"Now go and lie down, but see that thou art up early in
the morning to bring her her roll."
Then she went to the field, and before one could
whistle she had cleaned it of weeds and harrowed it and
sown it with wheat, and by dawn she had reaped the
wheat and cooked the roll and brought it to him, and
"Now, take it to her hut and put it on her table."
Then the old she dragon awoke and came to the door, and
was amazed at the sight of the field, which was now all
stubble, for the corn had been cut. Then she said to
"Yes, thou hast done the work well. But now, see that
thou doest my second task."
Then she gave him her second command:
"Dig up that mountain yonder and let the Dnieper flow
past the site of it, and there build a storehouse, and
in the storehouse stack the wheat that thou hast
reaped, and sell this wheat to the merchant barques
that sail by, and everything must be done by the time I
get up early next morning!"
Then he again went to the fence and wept, and the
maiden said to him:
"Why dost thou weep?" and he told her all that the she
dragon had bidden him do.
"There are lots of bushes, but where are the berries?
Go and lie down, and I'll do it all for thee."
Then she whistled, and the mountain was leveled and the
Dnieper flowed over the site of it, and round about
 Dnieper, storehouses rose up, and then she came and
woke him that he might go and sell the wheat to the
merchant barques that sailed by that way, and when the
she dragon rose up early in the morning she was amazed
to see that everything had been done which she had
Then she gave him her third command:
"This night thou must catch the golden hare, and bring
it to me by the morning light."
Again he went to the fence and fell a-weeping. And the
girl asked him:
"Why art thou weeping?"
He said to her: "She has ordered me to catch her the
"Oh, oh!" cried the she dragon's daughter, "the
berries are ripening now; only her father knows how to
catch such a hare as that. Nevertheless, I'll go to a
rocky place I know of, and there perchance we shall be
able to catch it."
So they went to this rocky place together, and she said
"Stand over that hole. I'll go in and chase him out of
the hole, and thou catch him as he comes out; but mind,
what-ever comes out of the hole, seize it, for it will
be the golden hare."
So she went and began beating up, and all at once out
came a snake and hissed, and he let it go. Then she
came out of the hole and said to him:
"What! has nothing come out?"
"Well," said he, "only a snake, and I was afraid it
would bite me, so I let it go."
"What hast thou done?" said she; "that was the very
hare itself. Look now!" said she, "I'll go in again,
and if anyone comes out and tells you that the golden
hare is not here, don't believe it, but hold him fast."
So she crept into the hole again and began to beat for
game, and out came an old woman, who said to the youth:
"What art thou poking about there for?"
And he said to her: "For the golden hare."
 She said to him: "It is not here, for this is a snake's
hole," and when she had said this she went away.
Presently the girl also came out and said to him:
"What! hast thou not got the hare? Did nothing come
"No," said he, "nothing but an old woman who asked me
what I was seeking, and I told her the golden hare, and
she said, 'It is not here,' so I let her go."
Then the girl replied: "Why didst thou not lay hold of
her? for she was the very golden hare itself, and now
thou never wilt catch it unless I turn myself into a
hare and thou take and lay me on the table, and give me
into my mother's, the she dragon's hands, and go away,
for if she find out all about it she will tear the pair
of us to pieces."
So she changed herself into a hare, and he took and
laid her on the table, and said to the she dragon:
"There's thy hare for thee, and now let me go away!"
She said to him: "Very well-be off!"
Then he set off running, and he ran and ran as hard as
he could. Soon after the old she dragon discovered
that it was not the golden hare, but her own daughter,
so she set about chasing after them and destroying them
both, for the daughter had made haste in the meantime
to join Ivan. But as the she dragon couldn't run
herself, she sent her husband, and he began chasing
them and they knew he was coming, for, they felt the
earth trembling beneath his tread. Then the dragon's
daughter said to Ivan:
"I hear him running after us. I'll turn myself into
standing wheat and thee into an old man guarding me,
and if he ask thee, ' Hast thou seen a lad and a lass
pass by this way?' say to him: 'Yes, they passed by
this way while I was sowing this wheat!'"
A little while afterwards the she dragon's husband came
"Have a lad and a lass passed by this way?" said he.
"Yes," replied the old man, "they have."
"Was it long ago?" asked the she dragon's husband.
 "It was while this wheat was being sown," replied the
"Oh!" thought the serpent, "this wheat is ready for the
sickle; they couldn't have been this way yesterday."
So he turned back. Then the she dragon's daughter
turned herself back into a maiden and the old man into
a youth, and off they set again. But the dragon
returned home, and the she dragon asked him:
"What! hast thou not caught them or met them on the
"Met them, no!" said he. "I did, indeed, pass on the
road some standing wheat and an old man watching it, at
I asked the old man if he had seen a lad and a lass
pass by that way, and he said, 'Yes, while this wheat
was being sown but the wheat was quite ripe for the
sickle, so I knew it was a long while ago and turned
"Why didst thou not tear that old man and the wheat
pieces?" cried the she dragon; "it was they! Be off
after them again, and mind, this time tear them to
pieces without fail."
So the dragon set off after them again, and they heard
him coming from afar, for the earth trembled beneath
him. So the damsel said to Ivan:
"He's coming again; I hear him; now I'll change myself
into a monastery, so old that it will be almost falling
to pieces, and I'll change thee into an old black monk
at the gate, and when he comes up and asks, 'Hast thou
seen a lad and a lass pass this way?' say to him: 'Yes,
they passed by this way when this monastery was being
Soon afterwards the dragon came flying past, and asked
the monk: "Hast thou seen a lad and a lass pass by
"Yes," he replied, "I saw them what time the holy
father began to build this monastery."
The dragon thought to himself: "That was not yesterday
This monastery has stood a hundred years if it has
stood a day, and won't stand much longer either"; and
with that he turned him back. When he got home he said
to the she
 dragon, his wife: "I met a black monk who
serves in a monastery and I asked him about them, and
he told me that a lad and a lass had run past that way
when the monastery was being built, but that was not
yesterday, for the monastery is a hundred years old at
the very least."
"Why didst thou not tear the black monk to pieces and
pull down the monastery? for 'twas they. But I see I
must go after them myself; thou art no good at all."
So off she set and ran and ran, and they knew she was
coming, for the earth quaked and yawned beneath her.
Then the damsel said to Ivan:
"I fear me 'tis all over, for she is coming herself!
Look now, I'll change thee into a stream and myself
into a fish-perch."
Immediately after the she dragon came up and said to
"Oh, oh! so thou wouldst run away from me, eh!"
Then she turned herself into a pike and began chasing
the perch, but every time she drew near to it the perch
turned its prickly fins toward her, so that she could
not catch hold of it. So she kept on chasing it and
chasing it, but finding she could not catch it, she
tried to drink up the stream, till she so much of it
that she burst.
Then the maiden who had become a fish said to the youth
who had become a river:
"Now that we are alive and not dead, go back to thy
lord father and thy father's house and see them, and
kiss them all except the daughter of thy uncle, for if
thou kiss that damsel thou wilt forget me, and I shall
go to the land of Nowhere."
So he went home and greeted them all, and as he did so he
thought to himself:
"Why should I not greet my uncle's daughter like the
rest of them? Why, they'll think me a mere pagan if I
So he kissed her, and the moment he did so he forgot
all about the girl who had saved him.
So he remained there half a year, and then bethought
him of taking to himself a wife. So they betrothed
him to a very
 pretty girl, and he accepted her and forgot all about
the other girl who had saved him from the dragon, the
one who herself was the she dragon's daughter. Now the
evening before the wedding they heard a young damsel
in the streets. They called to the young
damsel to go away, or say who she was, for nobody knew
her. But the damsel answered never a word, but began to
knead more cakes, and made a cock dove and a hen dove
out of the dough and put them down on the ground, and
they became alive. And the hen dove said to the cock
"Hast thou forgotten how I cleared the field for thee,
and sowed it with wheat, and thou mad'st a roll from
the corn which thou gavest to the she dragon?" But the
cock dove answered: "Forgotten! forgotten!"
Then she said to him again:
"And hast thou forgotten how I dug away the mountain
for thee, and let the Dnieper flow by it that the
merchant barques might come to thy storehouses, and
that thou might'st sell thy wheat to the merchant
barques?" But the cock dove replied: "Forgotten!
Then the hen dove said to him again:
"And hast thou forgotten how we two went together in
search of the golden hare? Hast thou forgotten me then
And the cock dove answered again:
Then the good youth Ivan bethought him who this damsel
was that had made the doves, and he took her to his
arms and made her his wife, and they lived happily ever