The Iron Wolf

Ukrainian Folk Tale

Reading Level: 3-4



Book Description

Once upon a time there lived a czar who had a pear tree which bore golden fruit in his courtyard. Then something started to steal those pears. It happened like this. One day the courtyard was lustrous with the pears, then, during the night, they disappeared - only the leaves were leit. The czar also had three sons. He called them together and said, “You will take turns watchs the pear tree.” When night came, the oldest brother took his long-handled axe and some food and went to the pear tree. After some time had passed, he sat down and began to eat supper. Suddenly a mouse appeared from somewhere, looked at him and said, “Son of the Czar, give me a crust. of bread.” Lae prince was annoyed. “Why would I, a czar’s son, give a mouse ood?” The mouse burst into tears and left him. He sat and sat, and then he fell asleep. When he woke up, it was broad daylight and there was not a pear on the tree. The czar was very angry and banished him from home. The next day he sent the middle son to watch the pear tree. He also took his long- handled axe and some food. He came to the pear tree and began to eat his supper. The mouse came again, looked at him and begged, “Son of the Czar, give me a crust of bread.” He replied, “Where was it ever heard of, that a czar’s son fed mice? Be off with you!” She burst into tears and left him. He fell asleep right away. When _ he eee up in the morning and looked-the pear tree had nothing but eaves. The czar also banished this son from home. On the third night, the youngest son went to guard the pear tree. He arrived, lit a fire and began to broil some bacon, when the mouse appeared: “Son of the Czar, give me some bread.” When the young prince saw how pitifully she begged, he spread fat on some bread and gave it to her. | She ate it and said, “Now, go to sleep. At midnight Pll awaken you. A golden bird with a golden basket will fly here and pick the pears. Hon cue the pear tree so that it will not hear you and maybe you'll “eatch 16” | So, she awakened him at midnight. He looked, and up in the pear tree he saw a very beautiful golden bird put a golden basket among the branches and start to pick the pears. Slowly, slowly he climbed -the pear tree, crept up to the bird and grabbed it by the tail. The bird jerked hard an flew off, leaving only its tail in his hand. He took. the feathers and the basket and carried them home. “Well, Son, did you look after the pear tree?” the czar asked. “I did,” he replied, “but I did not catch the thief. I only brought back its tail and basket.” 7 He told his father what had happened. When he had finished, he asked, “Father, give me a good horse and I’ll ride off and find this bird, for it will come to steal again.” _ The czar gave him a good horse and away he rode. He rode and rode, until he came to a fork in the road. Here, there was a sign which said, “If you take the first road, you will die; if you take the second, you will not return; if you take the third, the iron wolf will eat you.” He thought and thought about which way to go and decided to take the third road. He rode until he came to.a mountain, when he heard a aun in the air. He looked and saw an iron wolf approaching, its jaws wide open. The boy quickly jumped off his horse and said, “Don’t eat me, Wolf, eat my horse instead. Just see what a fine horse it is.” The wolf looked. “It is a fine horse,” he agreed. : He ate the horse, then asked, “Where are you travelling, Boy?” “T am seeking the golden bird.” “Ah, that is a long, long journey. You will not get there alone. Just sit on my back and hang on tight.” = 7 He sat on the wolf, and they set off on their journey. They came to another country, which was ruled by an evil czar. The wolf stopped by the forest. “Well, Son,” he said, “go into the czar’s courtyard and Pll make sure the guard -won’t see you as you go through the gate. The golden bird is in a golden Bape on the terrace of the palace. Take the bird, but be sure not to take the cage, or you will be caught.” So the boy passed through the gate and approached the terrace. Sure enough, there was the golden bird in a golden cage. He opened the cage and took the bird. , The cage glowed so, shone so! He thought, “My, what a beautiful cage! How can I leave it? I’ll take the cage as well.” He no sooner put his hand on it than there began a great rattling and clamour. The guards seized him and took him to the evil czar. When the czar found out that he wanted to take the golden bird out of his kingdom, he said, “If you bring me the golden-maned horse from the next kingdom I shall set you free, but if not-by my sword - your head will come off your shoulders. Wherever you may be, I shall find you, for I have an old man who has only to look in his books to find out who is going where.” The boy returned to the wolf. ; “Didn’t I say to you ‘Don’t touch the cage’?” the wolf asked. “It is lucky you got away in one piece. Well, what’s done is done. We'll go to the other evil czar for the horse.” When they arrived, the wolf told him, “Go through the gate. Nobody > will see you. Go into the stable, where you will see the golden-maned horse. Lead him out, but do not take the bridle, or they will hear you right away and you will be caught.” The boy passed through the gate, and opened the stable door. Sure enough, there was the golden-maned horse, its bridle shining in golden splendour. When he saw it, he immediately forgot the wolt’s advice. He no sooner grabbed the bridle than a great hue and cry began - what a din! The guards came running, seized him and led him to the czar. “So, Thief,” said the czar. “You wanted to take the golden-maned horse from my kingdom. Well-here is the sabre-off with your head!”. The boy quickly told the whole story. Then the czar said, “In a certain kingdom, there is a golden-haired girl. If you do not get her for me, I shall find you even at the farthest corners of the earth.” | | Sethe boy went to the wolf and told him the whole story. The wolf angrily said, “Didn’t I tell you to leave the bridle alone? But no, you wou n’t listen to me!” And he gave him a resounding slap on the cheek. ae obes he said, “is so that you will listen. Now get on-we’ll go for the girl.” ; They came to the third eng om, and approached the palace of the royal family. The wolf said, “I’ll go for the girl myself, for you will not be able to bring her. Wait for me here, but sit quietly, for if they catch you here you will surely die.” , And so he went. When he came to the gate, he changed into a handsome little dog and went fawningly up to the guard. One picked him up and took him into the palace courtyard. Then the golden-haired | girl, the czar’s daughter, came out and immediately took a liking to him. “Oh, how I wish he were mine!” she cried. They Ave her the dog. As she walked through the garden, the dog followed her. When everyone went in to dinner the dog looked around - there was no one in sight. te he oa changed back into a wolf, threw the girl over his back, and fled. He hurried to the boy, who mounted him, and they sped away. 7 That czar had a horse with twelve legs. When he discovered what had happened, he immediately mounted that horse and chased after the wolf. The wolf ran swiftly, ‘but he soon heard them catching up. He turned to face the horse. He shook his paw, and there appeared an iron hill so high that no horse could ever jump it. | They rode on until they came to the place where the wolf had eaten the boy’s horse. “You stay here with the girl,” the wolf said, “and Ill go for the golden bird and the golden-maned horse.” And away he went. After a while he returned, leading the golden-maned horse and carrying the bird. He gave them to the boy and said, “Now I’ll stay here, and you return to your own country. But mind you do not fall asleep on the way, or it will go hard with you.” They got off the horse, leaving him to graze while they sat down to rest. They were so tired that they fell asleep right away. The czar from whom the golden bird was stolen waited and waited for the boy to bring the horse. Finally he called the old man who could see anything happening anywhere. The old man looked into his books. “There he is,” he said. “And he is asleep. Allow me to go there, Czar, because I know the road best.” The boy only laughed. Then he took the bird and the girl, they mounted the horse and rode away to his own country. When they arrived, what a sight-his brothers were sweeping the street! When they saw him, they hid and consulted each other, saying, “Let us take what he has gained and drive him away. We’ll tell Father that we acquired it all.” So they seized him and threatened, “If you tell Father that we did not acquire all this, you’ll die a cruel death.” The boy promised not to tell. He said, “Pll go away from here to the ends of the earth.” | So they took the golden-haired girl, the golden-maned horse and the golden bird and rode to the palace. The youngest son wandered here and there, and in two years he returned, very poor and wretched. The golden-haired girl was so happy to see him! She took him by the hand and led him to the czar. When the czar asked him why he was so pee he answered, “Father, I can not tell you. Let this girl tell you the whole story.” And that is exactly what she did. When she had finished, the czar banished the two older sons and the youngest married the girl and himself became czar.







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