Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE IRON WOLF
THERE was once upon a time a parson who had a servant
and when this servant had served him faithfully for
twelve years and upward, he came to the parson and
said: "Let us now settle our accounts, master, and pay
me what thou owest me. I have now served long enough,
and would fain have a little place in the wide world
all to myself."
"Good!" said the parson. "I'll tell the now what wage
I'll give thee for thy faithful service. I'll give thee
this egg. Take it home, and when thou gettest there,
make to thyself a cattle pen, and make it strong; then
break the egg in the middle of thy cattle pen, and thou
shalt see something. But whatever thou doest, don't
break it on thy way home, or all thy luck will leave
So the servant departed on his homeward way. He went on
and on, and at last he thought to himself:
"Come now, I'll see what is inside this egg of mine!"
So he broke it, and out of it came all sorts of cattle
such in such numbers that the open steppe became like a
fair. The servant stood there in amazement, and he
thought to himself:
"However in this world shall I be able to drive all
these cattle back again?" He had scarcely uttered the
words when the Iron Wolf came running up, and said to
"I'll collect and drive back all these cattle back into
the egg again, and I'll patch the egg up so that it
will become quite whole. But in return for that,"
continued the Iron Wolf, "whenever thou dost sit down
on the bridal bench, I'll come and eat thee."
"Well," thought the servant to himself, "a lot of
things may happen before I sit down on the bridal bench
and he comes to eat me, and in the meantime I shall get
all these cattle. Agreed then," said he. So the Iron
Wolf immediately collected all the cattle, and drove
them back into the egg, and patched up the egg and made
it whole just as it was before.
The servant went home to the village where he lived,
made him a cattle pen stronger than strong, went inside
it and broke the egg, and immediately the cattle pen
was as full of cattle as it could hold. Then he took to
farming and cattle-breeding, and he became so rich that
in the whole wide world there was none richer than he.
He kept to himself, and his goods increased and
multiplied exceedingly; the only thing wanting to his
happiness was a wife, but a wife he was afraid to take.
Now near to where he lived was a general who had a
lovely daughter, and this daughter fell in love with
the rich man. So the general went and said to him:
"Come, why don't you marry? I'll give you my daughter
and lots of money with her."
"How is it possible for me to marry?" replied the man;
"as soon as I ever sit down on the bridal bench the
Iron Wolf will come and eat me up." And he told the
general all that had happened.
"Oh nonsense!" said the general, "don't be afraid. I
have a mighty host, and when the time comes for you to
sit down on the bridal bench we'll surround your house
with three strong rows of soldiers, and they won't let
the Iron Wolf get at you, I can tell you." So they
talked the matter over till he let himself be
persuaded, and then they began to make great
preparations for the bridal banquet. Everything went
off exceedingly well, and they made merry till the time
came when the bride and bridegroom were to sit down
together on the bridal bench. Then the general placed
his men in three strong rows all around the house so as
not to let the Iron Wolf get in; and no sooner had the
young people sat down upon the bridal bench than, sure
enough, the Iron Wolf came running up. He saw the host
standing around the house in three strong rows, but
through all three rows he leaped and made straight for
the house. But the man, as soon as he saw the Iron
Wolf, leaped out of the window, mounted his horse, and
galloped off with the wolf after him.
Away and away he galloped, and after him came the wolf,
but try as it would, it could not catch him up anyhow.
At last, toward evening, the man stopped and looked
about him, and saw that he was in a lone forest, and
before him stood a hut. He went up to this hut, and saw
an old man and an old woman sitting in front of it, and
said to them:
"Would you let me rest a little while with you, good
"By all means!" they said.
"There is one thing, however, good people ," said he.
Don't let the Iron Wolf catch me while I am resting
"Have no fear of that!" replied the old couple. "We
have a dog called Chutko who can hear a wolf coming a
mile off, and he'll be sure to let us know."
So he laid him down to sleep, and was just dropping off
when Chutko began to bark. Then the old people awoke
him, and said:
"Be off! Be off! for the Iron Wolf is coming."
And they gave him the dog, and a wheaten hearth cake as
provision by the way.
So he went on and on, and the dog followed after him
till it began to grow dark, and then he perceived
another hut in another forest. He went up to that hut,
and in front of it were sitting an old man and an old
woman. He asked them for a night's lodging.
"Only," said he, "take care that the Iron Wolf doesn't
"Have no fear of that," said they. "We have a dog here
called Vazhko, who can hear a wolf nine miles off."
So he laid him down and slept. Just before dawn Vazhko
began to bark. Immediately they awoke him. "Run!" cried
they, "the Iron Wolf is coming!"
And they gave him the dog, and a barley hearth-cake as
provision by the way. So he took the hearth cake, sat
him on his horse and off he went, and his two dogs
followed after him.
He went on and on. On and on he went till evening, when
again he stopped and looked about him, and he saw that
he was in another forest, and another little hut stood
before him. He went into the hut, and there were
sitting an old man and an old woman.
"Will you let me pass the night here, good people?"
said he. "Only take care that the Iron Wolf does not
get hold of me."
"Have no fear," said they, "we have a dog called Bary,
who can hear a wolf coming twelve miles off. He'll let
So he lay down to sleep and early in the morning Bary
let them know that the Iron Wolf was drawing nigh.
Immediately they awoke him.
" 'Tis high time for you to be off!" said they.
Then they gave him the dog and a buckwheat hearth cake
as provision by the way. He took the hearth cake, sat
him on his horse, and off he went. So now he had three
dogs, and they all three followed him.
He went on and on, and toward evening he found himself
in front of another hut. He went into it, and there was
nobody there. He went and lay down, and his dogs lay
down also- Chutko on the threshold of the room door,
Vazhko at the threshold of the house door, and Bary at
the threshold of the outer gate. Presently the Iron
Wolf came trotting up. Immediately Chutko gave the
alarm, Vazhko nailed him to the earth, and Bary tore
him to pieces.
Then the man gathered his faithful dogs around him,
mounted his horse, and went back to his home.