Russian Folk-Tales/Prince Evstáfi

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PRINCE EVSTÁFI


In a certain kingdom once there lived a Tsar who had a young son—Tsarévich Evstáfi—who did not love visiting or dances, nor promenades, but only liked going in the streets and walking among the poor, the simple folk, and the beggars, and bestowing alms on them. And the Tsar was very angry with him for this, and commanded him to be taken up to the gallows and to be delivered to a cruel death.

So the attendants took the Tsarévich, and were on the point of hanging him, when the Tsarévich fell on his knees before his father and began to ask for three hours' interval. And the Tsar agreed, and gave him the three hours' respite.

And the Tsarévich went to the silversmith's and ordered him to make three chests—one of gold, one of silver, and for the third he was simply to divide a stump into two, to mortise out a trough, and to attach a lock. So the smith made the three cases, and took them up to the gallows.

The Tsar with all his boyárs looked on to see what was going to happen. And the Tsarévich opened the cases and showed them. On the gold one, very much gold had been poured, on the silver, very much silver had been poured, and the wooden one was buried in dirt. He showed them, and once more opened the cases, and then banged them tight.

And the Tsar was even more angry, and he asked Prince Evstáfi: "What is this new insolence of yours?"

"My king and my father," said the Tsarévich Evstáfi, "you are here with the boyárs to value these cases, what they are worth."

Then the boyárs valued the silver case at a high price, and the golden one at a higher price still, and did not deign to look at the wooden one.

And Evstáfi Tsarévich said: "Now open the cases and see what is in them."

And they opened the golden case and there were snakes and frogs and all sorts of dirt in it; and looked into the silver one, and they saw the same; and looked into the wooden one, and there trees with leaves and fruit were growing, which emitted sweet odours, and in the middle there was a church and an orchard.

And the Tsar was humbled; and did not bid Evstáfi be punished.


This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.