At the Pike’s Behest



Once upon a time there was an older peasant who had three sons. Two elder brothers were bright merchants. The youngest brother Yemelya was a bit of a fool as everyone thought. While his elder brothers went to work, Yemelya stayed home and slept on the warm stove with little interest in anything. One Sunny winter morning Yemelya’s sister-in-law asked him to bring some water from the river. But he yelled from the top of the brick stove: “That’s not my job”. The women persuaded by promising him a new red jacket and a new red hat. He jumped off the stove and went down to the frozen river. He broke a hole in the ice in order to fill his buckets. Shortly after he spotted a pike in the ice-hole and managed to caught it with his bare hands. "This will make a great fish dish," said Yemelya. Suddenly the pike said to him in a human voice, "Set me free, Yemelya. I will grant you anything you wish. All you need to do is to say, 'At the pike's behest and at my request….’ Remember these words and say them when you need anything again in the future.Yemelya put the magic pike back in the water and said: "At the pike's behest and at my request – dear buckets, deliver yourselves home without spilling a drop." As soon as he said these words, buckets started moving towards his house. The buckets made it home, as promised, without spilling a single drop.

As soon as Yemelya returned back home, he climbed back onto the stove and went back to sleep. Another day Yemelya’s brothers’ wives planned to make pancakes, but there was not enough firewood. They asked him to go to the forest Yemelya went to the yard, sat in a sledge and whispered, "At the pike's behest and at my request - dear sledge, take me to the forest!" As soon as he said that, his sledge stirred out of the gate with an incredible speed! Now in the forest, Yemelya let his axe do its job. Unfortunately, on the way back home, Yemelya had to go through the town center, and many people were hit by his sledge who did not move out of his way on time. After returning home, Yemelya jumped again onto his beloved brick stove and fell asleep. The Tsar heard the rumors about Yemelya’s miracle, therefore he ordered to find Yemelya and bring him to the Tsar palace for investigation. The Tsar official found Yemelya on the top his beloved brick stove and wanted to drag him down in order to arrest." That made Yemelya very angry and he shouted once again: "At the pike's behest and at my request - cudgel, come down and greet this man." The cudgel had no mercy for the tsar’s official and beat him very hard. Second Tsar’s officer was smarter than the first one; he asked Yemelyas’ sister-in-law what Yemelya may like the most. The woman answered that for nice clothes and delicious sweets Yemelya will do whatever you’ ask. Next morning, this officer brought raisins, prunes and spice-cakes and kindly asked Yemelya to follow him to the tsar's palace. The Tsar official also told Yemelya that there is a lot more delicious things and fine outfits in tsar palace that will be granted to Yemelya just for showing up and meeting Tsar.

That was an offer that Yemelya could not turn down. As soon as the tsar official left, Yemelya commanded:”At the pike’s behest and at my request – stove, carry me right to the tsar palace!” As soon as he finished, one wall fell down on the ground and the stove lumbered off down the road, straight to the palace. The Tsar saw it coming and was astonished by this miracle. When Yemelya finally arrived, Tsar stated: “Yemelya, I’ve got lots of complaints against you. They say that you have hit many people on the streets another day. I wish to hear your explanation!” Yemelya answered: “It was not my fault, they failed to move off the road on time knowing that my sledge is coming.” At this moment Yemelya saw Varvara, the Tsar’s daughter. He whispered his wish: “At the pike’s behest and at my request – may this beautiful girl fall in love with me!” And he added right after: “Dear stove, take me home now.” The stove turned around and went back home. It entered the house and settled in exact the same place it was before. In a meanwhile, the tsar's daughter Varvara longed for Yemelya and begged her father to let her marry him. The Tsar became very angry and ordered his official to bring Yemelya back to the palace. This time, the official brought even more treats and wines for Yemelya. By the time Yemelya finished it all, he got tired and fell fast asleep. The officer then drag him from the stove and brought to the Tsar’s palace. Then he and the princess Varvara were sealed inside of a big barrel and were thrown into the sea. When Yemelya finally woke up, he found himself in the barrel with a beautiful girl.

Princess Varvara explained in great details what had happened to them. Yemelya immediately commanded: "At the pike's behest and at my request - wind, roll this barrel to shore!" In a moment they were saved, climbed out of the barrel and found themselves on a beautiful island. "My beloved Yemelya, where will we live?" asked the princess. Yemelya commanded once again: "At the pike's behest and at my request - build me the greatest palace of all!" At exact moment he finished his command, the beautiful palace has appeared in front of him with a green garden full of exotic plants and birds. One day the Tsar came across the island and saw an amazing palace. When Yemelya greeted him, the Tsar did not recognize him. When the Tsar went inside, he found there his own daughter, Princess Varvara , who told him the whole story what happened to her and Yemelya after they were saved from the sea. The Tsar wept and was granted their forgiveness. Yemelya and Varvara got married on the island and had wedding like no one had before. They ruled their kingdom and lived happily ever after.

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