Ivan  And The Wizard
       RUSSIAN 

    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. 
     So the 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. 
     "I have 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.
     "Well," 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."
     The 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.
     Three 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 young man.
     Of course, 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.
     "But,"' 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."
     "I shall have no difficulty in recognizing mg own son," said the father.
     "It will not be as easy as that," said Ivan.  "You see, our master is realty a
    wizard, and 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 be me."
      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 way.
      "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 down
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.
    They lived 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."
     Then 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.
     The 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."
     The 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.
     The 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."
     Then 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.
     Wait," 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 that he
could not sell a horse without a bridle.  What could he do?  He gave the bridle to the wizard.
     Smiling, 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.
     "What is it?" asked the girl.
     "None 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.
     The 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.
     The 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. 

 

 

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