Russian Folk-Tales/Chufíl-Fílyushka

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Once upon a time there were three brothers in a family; the eldest was called the Ram, the second the Goat, and the third and youngest Chufíl-Fílyushka. [1] One day all three went into the forest, where the warder lived who was their real grandfather. With him Ram and Goat left their own brother Chufíl-Fílyushka, and went out into the forest to hunt. Fílyushka had all his own will and way: his grandfather was old, and a great stupid; and Fílyushka was generous. He wanted to eat an apple. So he eluded his grandfather, got into the garden, and climbed up the apple-tree.

All of a sudden, Heaven knows where from, who should come but the Yagá-Búra, [2] with an iron mortar, and a pestle in her hand; she leaped up to the apple-tree, and said, "How are you, Fílyushka? What have you come here for?"

"Oh, to pluck an apple!" said Fílyushka.

"Well, then, dearie, have a bite of mine!"

"No, it's a rotten one," said Fílyushka.

"Well, here's another one!"

"No, it's all wormy!"

"Don't be saucy; just come up and take one out of my hand."

He stretched out his hand. Then Yagá-Búra gripped it tight, put him into the mortar, and made off, leaping over hills, and forests, and clefts; and swiftly with the pestle driving the mortar.

Then Fílyushka remembered himself, and began to cry out, "Goat, Ram, come along quick. Yagá has carried me away beyond the high, steep hills, the dark, lone woods, the steppes, where the geese roam."

The Ram and the Goat were just then resting. One was lying on the ground, and heard a noise of somebody shouting. So he told the other one: "Come and lie down, and listen!"

"Oh, it's our Fílyushka crying."

Off they went and ran and ran, and ran the Yagá-Búra down, saved Fílyushka and brought him home to his grandfather, who had nearly gone out of his mind with fright! They told him to look after Fílyushka better, and went out again.

But Fílyushka was a real boy, and the first chance he got, off he was again to the apple-tree, clambered up. There was the Yagá-Búra again, and offering him an apple.

"No, you won't catch me this time, you old beast!" said Fílyushka.

"Don't be unkind—do just take an apple from me; I'll throw it to you!"

"Right: throw it down."

Then Yagá threw him down an apple: he stretched out his hand, and she clutched it and leapt over hills, and valleys, and dark forests, so fast that it seemed like a twinkling of an eye, got him into her home, washed him, went out and put him into the bunk.

In the morning she made ready to go out, and ordered her daughter, "Listen! heat the oven well, very hot, and roast me Chufíl-Fílyushka for supper." And she went out to seek further booty.

The daughter went and got the oven thoroughly hot, took out and bound Fílyushka, and put him on the shovel, and was just going to shove him into the oven, when he went and knocked his forehead with his feet.

"That's not the way, Fílyushka," said the daughter of the Yagá-Búra.

"How then?" he answered. "I don't understand."

"Look here, just let go; I'll show you." She went and lay down on the shovel in the right fashion.

But, although Chufíl-Fílyushka was small, he was no fool! He stuffed her at once into the oven, and shut the oven-door with a bang.

About two or three hours later Fílyushka smelt a smell of good roast meat, opened the door, and took out the daughter of the Yagá-Búra well-cooked; buttered it over, put it into the frying-pan and covered it with a towel, and put it into the bunk; then he climbed up to the roof-tree and took away the business-day pestle and mortar of the Yagá-Búra.

About evening-time, the Yagá-Búra came in, went straight to the bunk and took the roast meat out; ate it all up, collected all the bones, laid them out on the ground in rows, and began to roll on them. But somehow she could not find her daughter, and thought she had gone away to another cottage to weave. But suddenly, whilst she was rolling, she said, "My dear daughter, do come to me and help me roll Fílyushka's little bones!"

Then Fílyushka cried out from the rafters: "Roll away, mother, and stand on your daughter's little bones!"

"Are you there, you brigand! You just wait, and I'll give it you!"

But little Chufíl was not frightened, and when the Yagá-Búra, gnashing her teeth, stamping on the ground, had got up to the ceiling, he just got hold of the pestle and with all his might struck her on the forehead, and down she flopped. Then Fílyushka climbed up on to the roof, and saw some geese flying, and called out to them, "Lend me your wings; I want wings to carry me home."

They lent him their wings, and he flew home.

But they had long, long ago been praying for the repose of his soul at home, and how glad they were to see him turn up alive and sound! So they changed the requiem for a merry festival, and lived out their lives, and lived on to receive more good yet!

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

  1. ΘεόΦιλος
  2. An equivalent to the Bába Yagá