And The Wizard
An old man
and an old woman had a son they loved very much. But the couple were
very poor and the old man decided to apprentice his son to a master.
That way he could learn a trade and be able to make his way in the world,
and he could look after his parents as they grew older still.
old man set out for the city with his son and tried to find him a
master. But no matter how many people he asked - bakers, wheelwrights,
blacksmiths, barrelmakers, tanners and weavers - he could find no one who
would give his son a place. All of them wanted moneij and the old
man had nothing to pay them with. And so the two returned
home sadly, and the old man and the old woman wept loud and
long. But their son, whose name was Ivan, told them to cheer
up."For," he said, "we can try again tomorrow in
another part of the city."
So the old man and the old woman dried their tears and the next day the
old man set out again for the city, with Ivan by his side. But no
matter how many people the old man spoke to, no one wanted
to apprentice his son.
Then, at the
end of the day, as they were preparing to return home again, a tall, well
- dressed man come up to the old father and asked him why he
looked so sad.
been looking everywhere for someone who will take my son as an apprentice
but no one wants to take him on without payment, and I have no money.
said the stranger, looking at Ivan, "give him to me. In three years I will
teach him many wonderful things. But remember this, you must be at
this very spot exactly three gears from now, not a minute earlier or a
minute later. Otherwise you will not get your son back."
old man was so overjoyed that he forgot to ask the stranger's name, or
where he lived, or even what he would teach Ivan. He gave his son
over into the man's keeping and went home happily to tell his wife all
about their good fortune. But what he did not know was that the man
to whom he had apprenticed his son was a wizard.
years passed quickly. By that time the old man had completety
forgotten the day and the hour that he was supposed to be back in the city
to collect his son. But one day, shortly before the end of the three
years, a strange bird alighted on a mound of earth next
to the old man's house and turned into a handsome
it was Ivan. He had come to remind his parents that the three
years were up on the next day and that the old man must go to the city
and be at a certain place at a certain time.
Ivan said, "there are some things you should know. I am not my
master's only apprentice. There are eleven others and he does not want
to give any of us up. In fact, the others have been with him forever
because when their parents came to claim them they could not recognize
their children at all. If you don't recognize me tomorrow, I shall
be forced to stay as well."
have no difficulty in recognizing mg own son," said the father.
will not be as easy as that," said Ivan. "You see, our master is
he will make us all look exactlq alike. And what is more, he will
put us into other shapes, to make it even harder."
"What shall I do then?" cried the old man.
"Listen to me and all shall be well," said Ivan. "First of all my
master will show you twelve white doves. And every one will look
exactly the same, feather for feather, as the next. He will ask gou
which one is me. Watch carefully because, as the doves fly overhead,
I shall fly just a little bit higher than the rest. And so you will
know it is me."
"I shall not forget," said the old man.
"But that is not the end of it, said Ivan, "for my master will next lead
out twelve horses, every one the same from mane to tail. And again,
he will ask you to show him which one is your son. Watch carefully,
because I shall stamp my right foot twice as you go past, and so you will
know that it is me."
"Be sure I shall remember that, said his father.
"There is more get," said Ivan. "Next my master will bring out twelve
youths, and every one of them will look just the same, as though they had
one mother. Look very carefully at each one of them. You will
see that on the right cheek of one of them is a fly. That one will
I will do as 'you say," promised the old man. With that, the youth
went outside and struck the mound of earth with his right foot.
At once he turned back into a bird and flew away.
The next day the old man went into the city and at the appointed time he
was waiting at the exact some
spot where he had first met the wizard three years ago. And
there, sure enough, came the tall, well - dressed man.
"Good day to you, old man," he said. I have taught your son many
wonderful things, just as I promised. But if you want him back you
must recognize him. If you do not, he will
have to stay with me forever." Then, just as Ivan had said he would,
the wizard set free twelve white doves, every one of them alike in every
"Now show me your son," said the wizard.
The old man looked and looked, and every one of the birds seemed exactly
the same. Then he noticed that one of them was flying a little bit
higher than all the rest. "That is my son," he said.
The wizard looked angry. "Well," he said, and snapped his fingers.
There, in place of the twelve white doves, were twelve identical horses,
every one of them as handsome and high stepping as the other. "Which
one of these is your son?" asked the wizard.
The old man looked and looked. He walked up the line of horses, and
he walked down. Then he saw that one of them stamped its right foot
twice on the ground, and he went up to that one and touched its mane.
"This is my son," he said.
"Well, well, well," said the wizard, looking even more angry. He
snapped his fingers and in the place of the twelve horses stood twelve
young men, dressed in fine silk and linen and every
one of them as alike as though they had been born
to the some mother. "And which one of these is your son?"
The old man walked up the line and down the line. Then he walked
the line and up the line.
The wizard tapped his foot. The old man peered
closely at every identical face until he saw that one of them had a fly
on his right cheek. He stopped in front of that youth.
"This is my son," he said.
The wizard stamped his foot and vanished in a flash of light and a curl
of smoke. Eleven of the ijouths vanished too, leaving the old man
standing in the road with his son by his side. Joyfully
they embraced and set off home together.
a happy life together, and with the magic he had learned from
the wizard, Ivan earned them some money. But it was still not much,
and so one day the boy said to his father, "I'm going to turn myself
into a bird. Take me to market and sell me for the best price you can get.
But don't sell the cage I shall be in, or I won't be able to get back."
he stamped on the earth with his right foot and became a bird in a
beautiful golden cage. The old man went to market and soon had a
crowd of people who wanted to buy the bird. Then the wizard appeared
and offered more than anyone.
old man agreed, but took the bird from its cage. The wizard scowled
mightity at this, and wrapped the bird in his handkerchief. Then
he went home and called to his lovely daughter. "Come and see what
I have for you he cried. "It's that rascal who used to
be my apprentice."
wizard's daughter, who had taken a liking to Ivan, came running.
"Where is he?" she asked. But when the wizard unfolded his handkerchief
the bird was nowhere to be found.
next week as market daq approached, Ivan said, "I am going to turn
myself into a horse. Take me to the market and sell me for the best
price you can get. But be sure you keep my bridle, because otherwise
I shall not be able to get back."
he stamped on the earth with his right foot and in a flash there stood
a great wild black horse with the most wonderful jeweled bridle.
The old man took him to market and soon a crowd gathered.
Some offered one thing and some another, but soon the wizard
arrived and he offered more than anvone. The old
man took the money and began to take off the horse's bridle.
said the wizard. "How shall I lead my horse without a bridle?" The
old man hesitated. But all the other horse dealers began to shout
could not sell a horse without
a bridle. What could he do? He gave the bridle to the wizard.
the wizard went home, leading the horse. He took it to his stable
and tethered it so tightly that it could not even move its head to eat
or drink. The wizard went inside his house and called to his daughter.
"Come and see what I have caught," he said.
is it?" asked the girl.
other than that rascal who used to be my apprentice." The girl went out
to the stable to look. But when she saw the horse tied up so tightly
she took pity on it and loosened the reins. At once the horse pulled
free and galloped off. The girl ran indoors, weeping.
"I'm sorry, father. The horse has run away."
The wizard gave a great cry and turned himself into a grey wolf.
He ran as fast as the wind and faster yet after the horse, and soon he
almost caught up with it. The horse came to the bank of a river and,
quick as a flash, turned into a perch and swam off. But the wizard
turned himself into a great greedy pike with savage teeth and swam after
it as fast as the wind and faster.
perch swam and swam until it was exhausted. Then it came to the
bank where some lovely maidens were washing clothes. The perch jumped
out of the water and became a golden ring which rolled to the feet of one
of the maidens.
wizard took his own shape again and demanded the golden ring. The
maiden threw it on the ground
and when it struck the earth it shattered. And
instead of the ring were several
grains of wheat. The wizard laughed and turned
himself into a cock. He began to peck at the wheat. Then one
of the grains became a hawk, and it tore the cock to pieces.
And that was the end of the wizard.
As for Ivan, he went home and continued to make his old parents rich.
And I did hear that he married the wizard's daughter, but whether that
is true or not, I cannot say.