The Tale of Czar Saltan


Once upon a time, there were three sisters who were taking to each other by sitting near the open window and spinning their yarn. The eldest sister said to others that if she would be chosen to be the tsar Saltan’s wife, she would prepare a great feast for the whole world to enjoy. “If I were a Queen,” said the middle one, “I would make linens and fabric that would cover the whole world.” When it was a turn for the youngest one to say her wish, she said that she would bear a son for the Tsar, the brave and handsome knight. As a coincidence, the Tsar Saltan happened to walk nearby and overheard the sisters’ conversation. As soon as he heard the last maiden’s words, he fell in love with her and went inside their house.

He greeted the sisters who were overjoyed with his visit but the Tsar had a goal. He came to ask the youngest sister to marry him. The other two sisters the Tsar granted with the jobs of a senior cook and a senior weaver. Shortly after the couple got married, the queen got pregnant. Her beloved husband could not stay with her though since he had to lead his men to the war. While Saltan was at war, his wife gave a birth to a baby boy and named him Gvidon. The messenger was sent to the Tsar in order to bring him the good news about his wife and a newborn son. However, the two elder sisters of the Queen and the old witch named Babarikha were so jealous to their sister’s good luck that they decided to kidnap the royal messenger and replace him with their own one who would carry different type of news, which the tsar soon read, "Your wife and our Queen, did give a birth to neither a son nor daughter, to neither a mouse nor a frog, but to some unknown beast." The Tsar was furious at the messenger for bringing this news and wanted to execute him on the spot, but then send him home with an answer and advice for his wife to wait for the tsar Saltan’s return. The wicked weaver, the cook and an old Babarikha waited for the messenger on their end, invited him into their hut, got him drunk and secretly replaced the Tsar’s letter with their own one that gave the instructions to seal the queen with her new baby into a wooden barrel and throw the barrel into the depth of the blue sea. The whole kingdom cried about the Queen but they could not disobey their Ruler’s command and did what they had been told to.

The young Tsarevich grew stronger not by the hour but by every minute. Soon he asked the sea’s weaves to wash the barrel to the shore. The sea obeyed and soon both young Tsarevich and his mother found themselves on a mysterious island. They got out of the barrel and young Gvidon went hunting hoping to find something for his mother and himself for dinner. Tsarevich made a bow and one arrow from the branches that he managed to find and was on his way. Soon he encountered a white swan that was attacked by a huge black bird. The young prince did not hesitate to fire his only arrow and killed the black hawk. As soon as the hawk fell into the sea, the swan thanked him and said in a human voice, “You did not kill an ordinary bird, but a wicked wizard, you did not save an ordinary swan, but a maiden. For that great thing, I shell serve you as my great master.” The young Tsarevich returned back to his mother and they fell asleep being still hungry and tired. Next morning when they woke up they saw a mysterious kingdom in front of them. They went inside to look around and the local people were bowing to them and proclaimed the young man to be their Tsar. So, the young Gvidon and his mother became the rulers of the kingdom. One day, the ship full of merchants sailed down to their island. Gvidon invited them inside his castle and treated them as his great guests. The merchants told them that they mostly sell furs and their next stop was the kingdom of Tsar Saltan. As soon as young Tsarevich heard his father’s name, he asked the merchants to greet the old tsar on his behalf. As soon as the merchants left, the young Gvidon went for a walk near the sea where he saw the white swan again. He shared with the swan that the merchants made him think of his father and that he really would like to meet him one day.

The swan splashed the young tsar with water that turned him into a tiny gnat. The bug flew over the ocean, caught up with the merchant’s ship and hid inside a crack on it. When the merchants arrived to the kingdom of Saltan, the old tsar asked them to tell their stories about the foreign land and the possible wonders they may have encountered on their way. The merchant told him about the miracle kingdom that appeared overnight on the desert island. They also told him about Tsar Gvidon who asked them to greet the old tsar on his behalf. Saltan did not know who the tsar Gvidon was but he replied to the merchants that some day he would love to meet the young tsar Gvidon and see his miracle town. Then, the two elder sisters along with an old Babarikha, who did not want Saltan to go, replied to the merchant’s comment, that the town they saw is nothing in compare to a real wonder of singing and dancing squirrel that sits under the pine tree peeling the golden nuts which kernels are pure emeralds. Those words said by his eldest aunt drove the gnat Gvidon crazy. He was sitting by the window and overheard the whole conversation.

Gvidon flew up in the air and stung the wicked woman’s right eye as soon as she finished telling her story. After that the gnat flew back home and told the swan the story that he heard at his father’s kingdom. Next morning the young prince found a real singing squirrel near his castle that was sitting under the pine tree and peeled the emeralds out of their golden shells. Gvidon ordered to build a crystal house for the animal and put a couple of guards near it. One day, another ship with merchants sailed to his harbor. The young prince treated them well as his guests and found out that his father’s kingdom was their next stop. Before the merchants left, Gvidon went to see the swan again who turned him into a fly. When the merchants arrived to the tsar Saltan’s kingdom, they told him about the wonder they saw and about the young Tsar Gvidon. The old tsar was very excited to hear the story and said that he would love to visit Tsar Gvidon one day himself. But the second oldest aunt of Tsar Gvidon spoke out bad about the dancing squirrel and pointed out the better wonder of thirty three handsome brothers, the brave warriors led by their uncle Chernomor out of the depth of the blue sea every time they feel a thread. The fly got mad hearing those words and stung the wicked woman’s left eye before returning back home. Upon his arrival, Gvidon shared with the white swan the story that his wicked aunt was telling. Next morning, when the young prince was watching the sea out of his tower, the giant wave came to the shore and brought thirty three men all dressed in armor with swords and spears. They were brothers of the swan who sent them over to Gvidon. Before they went back, the knights promised to the young prince to come out every time he needs their help to defend the city against the enemies.

One day, the merchants were on their way to the tsar Saltan’s kingdom and stopped to greet the young tsar Gvidon on their way. The young Tsarevich greeted them and welcomed to his castle with fine foods and wine. Before the merchants left Gvidon turned into a bumblebee and hid inside their ship. As soon as they arrived to the tsar Saltan’s kingdom they told him about all miracles and wonders they saw in the tsar Gvidon’s kingdom. The Tsar attempted to visit him right then but the old woman Babarikha stepped in front of him and spoke of another wonder that would convince the old tsar stay home. The real miracle of all miracles was a princess that lived on the other side of the sea and is so beautiful and stunning that no one take their eyes off her. She has a silver moon in her hair and a golden star shines out from her forehead. Those words made Gvidon very angry and he stung Babarikha’s nose before returning back home. Shortly after he arrived he went to see the swan again who turned out to be the beautiful princess that the old Babarikha was talking about. As soon as young Gvidon saw her, he was impressed by the princess beauty and fell in love with her. Next evening the couple got married and the swan princess stayed with her husband in his kingdom. One day the merchants sailed up to the tsar Gvidon’s land where they were welcomed by the tsar and his young lovely wife. This time, the young Tsar did not travel with them to see his father, but asked them to greet the old tsar on his behalf and remind him that he wanted to visit one day but never did. When the merchants arrived to the tsar Saltan’s kingdom they were telling stories of one miracle city that is ruled by the young tsar Gvidon, who has a crystal dome with a dancing squirrel in it and the thirty three sea knights that are always ready to defend the city against any enemies. The merchants also mentioned about the tsar Gvidon’s wife whose beauty goes beyond any comparison or description. “You, Tsar, was going to visit, so take your chance now,” continued the merchants.

As soon as the merchants left, the Tsar Saltan was so anxious to meet the young tsar Gvidon and see all of the wonders in person that he ordered to prepare a ship for him and sailed down to the mysterious island. The two of his sisters-in-law and old Babarikha went along. As soon as they arrived, the young tsar Gvidon greeted them and led them to his palace where they met his lovely wife, swan princess, the thirty three knights, the dancing squirrel and the Tsar’s mother. As soon as Tsar Saltan saw her, he recognized his missing wife who he thought was accidentally killed years ago. Saltan kissed and hugged his wife and crying asked for her and her son’s forgiveness. The queen’s elder sisters along with old Babarikha hid inside the Tsar Saltan’s Ship. When they were found by the Tsar’s guards and brought for justice, they begged to forgive them and confessed in everything they did. The Tsar was very angry at them, but he let them go home free. The Tsar then re-united with his wife, son and his daughter-in-law and they all lived a very happy life together.

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