Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Author: Alexander Afanasyev - 1855

Translated into English
  by Kathleen Cook

Original title (Russian):
Конь, скатерть и рожок

Country of origin: Russia


English - aligned

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The Horse, the Table-Cloth and the Horn

Alexander Afanasyev / Kathleen Cook

There was once an old woman whose son was a fool. One day the fool found three peas. He went out of the village and planted them. When the shoots came up, he kept watch over them. One day he came to the spot and saw a crane pecking at the plants. The fool crept up and caught the crane. "Aha!" he said. "I'm going to kill you." But the crane said to him: "Please don't kill me! I'll give you a present." "Very well," agreed the fool. The crane gave him a horse, saying: "If you want some money say 'Go!' to this horse, and when you have enough say 'Stop!' "
The fool took the horse, mounted it and said "Go!" The horse turned into a pile of silver. The fool laughed gleefully and then said "Stop!" And the silver turned back into a horse. The fool bade farewell to the crane and led the horse home, taking it through the yard, right into the house to his mother. He gave her strict instructions: "Don't say 'Go!' Only say 'Stop!' mother." And went to keep watch over his peas. His mother puzzled for a long time: "Why did he tell me those words? What if I do say 'Go!' instead?" And she said it. The horse turned into a pile of silver. The old woman's eyes lit up. She hurriedly scooped the money into her chest and when she had enough said "Stop!"
Meanwhile the fool again found the crane eating his peas, caught it and threatened to kill it. But the crane said: "Please don't kill me. I'll give you a present." And it gave him a table-cloth. "When you are hungry say 'Unfold!' and when you have eaten your fill say 'Fold up!' " The fool immediately tried it out. "Unfold!" he said, and the table-cloth unfolded. He ate and drank his fill and ordered "Fold up!" And the table-cloth folded itself up. He took it home. "Now listen, mother. Don't say 'Unfold!' to the table-cloth, only^ say 'Fold up!' " Then the fool went to keep watch over his peas again. His mother did the same with the table-cloth as with the horse. She said "Unfold!" and proceeded to eat and drink everything on the cloth, then ordered "Fold up!" and the tablecloth folded itself up.
On the pea patch the fool again caught the crane, who presented him with a horn and called out as it flew up into the air: "Say 'Out of the horn!' " To his great misfortune the fool did as the crane bade him, and two strapping young men with cudgels leapt out of the horn and beat him until he fell to the ground. Then the crane called out from above "Into the horn!" and the two young men disappeared. The fool went home to his mother and said: "Don't say 'Out of the horn!' Say 'Into the horn!' instead, mother." As soon as the fool had gone round to the neighbours, his mother latched the door and said "Out of the horn!"
Whereupon the two strapping young men with cudgels leapt out and began to beat the old woman, who yelled the house down. The fool heard her screams and ran home as fast as his legs would carry him. Seeing that the door was latched, he shouted, "Into the horn! Into the horn!" When the old woman had recovered from her drubbing, she opened the door and let the fool in. "Serve you right, mother!" he said. "I told you not to say that."
The fool decided to give a feast and invited all the lords and ladies. When they had arrived and sat down, he led the horse into the house and said: "Go, trusty steed!" The horse turned into a pile of silver. The guests were astounded and began to snatch up the silver and hide it in their pockets. Then the fool said "Stop!" and the horse reappeared, without its tail. The fool saw it was time to feed the guests, so he got out the table-cloth and said: "Unfold!" The table-cloth unfolded and all manner of food and drink appeared on it. The guests began to eat, drink and make merry. When they had eaten their fill, the fool said: "Fold up!" And the table-cloth folded up. The guests began to yawn and scoff: "Show us something else, fool." "With pleasure," said the fool. "I've got just the thing for you!" And he brought out the horn. The guests shouted: "Out of the horn!" Then the two strapping young men leapt out and began to beat them with all their might until the guests gave back the money they had stolen and ran off as fast as their legs would carry them. And the fool and his mother lived happily ever after with the horse, the table-cloth and the horn.