Box. 1929 Palekh
Next morning, when he went
to report to his father, the tsar asked him:
"Well, Ivan, did you see the thief?"
"Dear father," Ivan answered, "I cannot say I caught
him, but I have found out who is eating our apples.
And I have brought you a tail feather in proof. It
is the Firebird."
The tsar took the feather and looked at it, and no
longer felt sorrowful; but he thought a great deal
about the Firebird, and one day he sent for his sons
and told them:
"My dear children, I want you to saddle good horses
and ride forth into the world to see whether you can
find and bring back the Firebird."
The young men bowed to their father, saddled good
horses, and set out on their travels: the eldest in
one direction, the second son in another, and Prince
Ivan in a third direction.
He rode near and far, high and low, along by-paths
and by-ways - for speedily a tale is spun, but with
less speed a deed is done - until he came to a wide,
open field, a green meadow. And there in the field
stood a pillar, and on the pillar these words were
written: "Whosoever goes from this pillar on
the road straight before him will be cold and hungry.
"Whosoever goes to the right side will be safe
and sound, but his horse will be killed. And whosoever
goes to the left side will be killed himself, but
his horse will be safe and sound." Prince Ivan
read this inscription and went to the right, thinking
that although his horse might be killed, he himself
would remain alive and would in time get another horse.
He rode one day, then a second day, then a third.
Suddenly an enormous gray wolf came toward him and
said: "Ah, so it's you, young lad, Prince Ivan!
You saw the inscription on the pillar that said that
your horse would be killed if you came this way. Why
then have you come hither?" When he had said
these words, he tore Prince Ivan's horse in twain
and ran off to one side.
Prince Ivan was sorely grieved for his horse; he shed
bitter tears and then continued on foot. He walked
a whole day and was utterly exhausted. He was about
to sit down and rest for a while when all at once
the gray wolf caught up with him and said: "I
am sorry for you, Prince Ivan, because you are exhausted
from walking; I am also sorry that I ate your good
horse. Tell me why you have travelled so far, and
where you are going"
"My father has sent me to ride through the world until
I find the Firebird."
"Why, you could have ridden even on your good horse
for three years and never found the Firebird for only
I know where it lives. I ate your horse, so now I
will serve you faithfully and well. Get on my back
and hold on tight."
A.Lopatine "Prince Ivan and the Grey Wolf"
Box. 1999. Palekh
Prince Ivan seated himself
astride the grey wolf, and it loped away, past the
green forests, and the azure lakes. At last they came
to a very high fortress. There the grey wolf told
"Listen to me, and remember what I say. Climb over
the wall and do not be afraid; all the guards are
asleep. In the attic you will see a small window;
in the window hangs a golden cage, and in that cage
is the Firebird. Take the bird and hide it under your
coat; but be sure not to touch the cage."
Prince Ivan climbed over the wall and saw the attic.
And, just as the wolf had said, in the attic window
a golden cage was hanging, and the Firebird was in
the cage. He took out the bird and put it under his
coat. But as he looked at the golden cage he could
not help coveting it. It was made of precious gold;
how could he leave it behind? He completely forgot
what the wolf had told him. But as soon as he touched
the cage the alarm was sounded all through the fortress;
drums rolled and trumpets blared, the guards woke
up, captured Prince Ivan and took him to Tsar Afron.
The tsar was furious at this attempt to steal the
Firebird and the cage, and asked the prince:
"Who are you, and where are you from?"
"I am Prince Ivan, the son of Tsar Berendey," Ivan
"How shameful! The son of a tsar coming here to steal!"
the tsar exclaimed.
"That is as may be," the prince retorted. "But your
bird flew to our orchard and stole the golden apples."
In that case you should have come to me and asked
me for the Firebird and I would have given it to you
out of respect for your father. But now I shall see
to it that all the world knows of your behavior! And
in order to earn my forgiveness you will have to enter
my service. A certain Tsar Kusman has a horse with
a golden mane. Bring that horse to me, and I will
give you the Firebird and the cage."
Prince Ivan was downcast at the thought
of having to undertake such a task, and he went to
tell the grey wolf what had happened. But the wolf
said to him:
"I told you not to touch the cage. Why did you disobey
"I know I did wrong; but forgive me, grey wolf."
"It is easy enough to ask forgiveness," the wolf
answered. "All right, get on my back again. We will
not turn back now."
Once more the grey wolf loped off with Prince Ivan
on its back. And at last they came to the fortress
where the horse with the golden mane was stabled.
Then the wolf told Ivan:
"Climb over the wall; do not be afraid, the guards
are asleep. Go to the stable and bring out the horse.
But be sure not to touch the bridle you will see hanging
The prince climbed over the wall into the fortress,
and saw that the guards were asleep. He went straight
to the stable and found the horse with the golden
mane. But his eyes fell on a bridle hanging up; it
was of gold and studded with precious stones: the
only bridle fit for a horse with a golden mane. And
he put out his hand to take it. But at once the alarm
was sounded all through the fortress; drums rolled
and trumpets blared, the guards woke up, took the
prince a prisoner and led him before Tsar Kusman.
"Who are you, and where are you from ?" the tsar asked
"I am Prince Ivan."
"To attempt to steal a horse shows little wisdom!
Even a peasant would not try to do that. But I will
let you off, Prince Ivan, if you agree to enter my
service. A certain tsar named Dalmat has a daughter,
the beautiful Helen. Carry her off and bring her to
me, and then I will give you the golden-maned horse
and the golden bridle."
At this verdict Prince Ivan was even more downcast
than before. Again he went to see the grey wolf. But
the wolf said:
"I told you not to touch the bridle. You did not obey
"Nevertheless, forgive me, forgive me, grey wolf,"
the prince pleaded.
"It is all very well, saying “forgive”.
All right, get on my back."
Once more the grey wolf raced off with Prince Ivan
on his back, until they came to Tsar Dalmat's fortress.
But this time the grey wolf said to the prince:
"I am not going to ser am going myself. You set of
back to Tsar Afron; I will soon catch up."
Prince Ivan obediently started to go back, while the
grey wolf sprang over the fortress wall and into the
garden. In the garden the beautiful Helen was walking
with her attendants. The wolf sat behind a bush and
watched them, and the moment the princess fell a little
way behind her attendants the wolf seized her, flung
her over his back, and scampered away.
Ivan had gone some distance when the grey wolf caught
up with him, bringing the beautiful Helen sitting
on its back. The prince was delighted, but the wolf
"Quick, get on my back, in case we are followed."
The prince sat on the wolf's back behind the princess,
and the wolf rushed away with them, past the green
forests and the azure rivers and lakes. At last they
arrived at Tsar Kusman's fortress. But the prince
seemed very sad, so the wolf asked:
"Why are you silent, Prince Ivan? Are you sad?"
"Have I not good reason to be, grey wolf? How can
I part with this beautiful princess? How can I exchange
her for a horse?"
"I will see to it that you are not parted from her,"
the wolf promised. "We will hide her somewhere, then
I will turn myself into the beautiful Princess Helen,
and you can lead me to the tsar."
So they hid the princess in a forest hut. Then the
grey wolf uttered a magic spell and at once became
her living image. Prince Ivan took her to Tsar Kusman.
The tsar was delighted and said:
"Thank you, Prince Ivan, for getting me such a beautiful
woman for my wife. Take the golden-maned horse and
The prince bridled the horse, mounted it, and rode
off to the hut where the true Helen was hidden. He
seated her behind him on the horse, and they rode
S.Kamanin. "Russian Fairy Tales"
Casket. 1999. Palekh
Kusman made arrangements for his wedding, feasted
all day and half the night, and, when it was time
for bed, he led the mock-princess into his bedroom.
But when he lay down beside her on the bed he found
he was lying not with a beautiful young wife, but
with a grey wolf. He was terrified and fled, and the
wolf slipped away and out of the fortress.
When the wolf caught up with Prince Ivan it noticed
that he was looking sad again, so it asked:
"Why are you so thoughtful, prince?"
"I have good reason to be. I am sad to think I have
to give up the golden-maned horse in exchange for
"Do not be downhearted; I will help you," said the
wolf. When they arrived at Tsar Afron's fortress the
"You go and hide the horse and the princess. Then
I will turn myself into the golden-maned horse and
you can take me to Tsar Afron."
So they hid Helen and the horse in the forest. The
grey wolf uttered a magic spell and became a golden-maned
horse, and Ivan led the horse to the tsar. Tsar Afron
was delighted, and gave him the Firebird and the golden
cage as well. The prince carried the cage with the
bird into the forest, seated the princess on the golden-maned
horse, and rode off on his journey back to his native
Meanwhile, Tsar Kusman gave the order for the golden-maned
horse to be brought to him. But when he tried to mount
it the horse turned into a grey wolf. The tsar was
so frightened that he fell to the ground, while the
grey wolf made good its escape and soon overtook Prince
"Now I must say goodbye; I cannot come any farther,"
it told the prince.
So Ivan dismounted from his horse and bowed very low
three times, thanking the grey wolf respectfully.
But the wolf said:
"Do not bid goodbye forever to me. I shall yet be
of service to you."
"How can you be of any further service to me?" Ivan
thought. "All my wishes have come true."
the golden-maned horse and rode away with beautiful
Helen and the Firebird. He arrived in his own country,
but as he still had some way to go to reach home he
decided to have a rest at midday. So they ate some
food, drank water from a spring, and lay down to rest.
No sooner had the prince fallen asleep than his brothers
happened to ride past, and saw him. They had travelled
far and wide in search of the Firebird, but of course
they had not found it. When thev saw their brother
lying asleep and noticed that he had the Firebird,
the horse with its bridle, and even a beautiful girl,
they plotted to kill their brother and take everything
So they killed Prince Ivan, seated themselves on the
golden-maned horse, put beautiful Helen on another,
and threatened her:
"You must not say a word to anyone when we get home."
Then they rode oft, with the horse, the princess,
and the Firebird, to their father.
They left Prince Ivan lying dead, with the crows already
gathering above him. But suddenly the grey wolf ran
up and caught one crow with its young chick.
"Crow, you must fly away and bring back to me some
sparkling water and some still water," the wolf
told the crow. "If you bring back the two sorts of
water I will let your young one go."
The crow agreed, and flew off, while the wolf watched
over the chick. In due time the crow flew back with
both the sparkling and the still water. Then the wolf
sprinkled Ivan's wounds with the still water, and
the wounds healed; it sprinkled him with the sparkling
water, and the prince revived.
"I have had such a deep sleep," he yawned.
"Yes, you were sleeping very soundly," the grey wolf
said. "But for me you would never have awakened. Your
own brothers killed you and carried off all you had
gained. Now get on my back, quick!"
The wolf raced off in pursuit of the two elder brothers,
and soon caught up with them. It tore them to pieces
and scattered them over the field.
Prince Ivan bowed and thanked the grey wolf once more,
and said goodbye to it forever. He mounted the golden-maned
horse, and rode home with the princess. He had obtained
the Firebird for his father, and beautiful Helen as
a wife for himself.
Tsar Berendey was delighted to see him with the Firebird,
and asked him to tell of all his adventures. Prince
Ivan told his father how the grey wolf had helped
him to win the Firebird, the horse, and the beautiful
Helen, how his brothers had killed him while he was
asleep, and how the wolf had restored him to life
and then torn them to pieces.
The tsar mourned the loss of his two sons, but he
was soon comforted, by the wedding of Prince Ivan
and the beautiful Princess Helen, and they lived happily