Telesik-Little Stick (ukrainian folk tale)

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Telesik-Little Stick (ukrainian folk tale)Once upon a time there lived an old man and an old woman. They had no children and no one to look after them in their old age, and this made them very sad indeed.

One day the old woman said to the old man:

Go to the forest, Old Man, and cut down a tree. We'll make a little cradle, I'll put a stick of wood in it, and I’ll rock the cradle and amuse myself that way.

The old man did not want to do it at first, but the old woman begged him to again and again and he finally did as she asked. He went to the forest, cut down a tree and made a cradle out of it, and the old woman put a stick of wood in the cradle and began rocking it, singing as she did so:

Little Stick, sleep soundly, do,

And I'll cook some mush for you,

Just enough for you to eat And to feed your hands and feet.

And she went on rocking the cradle till it was evening and time to go to bed.

On the following morning, when the old man and the old woman rose, they looked in the cradle, and lo! – instead of the stick of wood, there was a little boy there.

This made them so happy as words cannot say! They now had a son and they called him Telesik-Little Stick.

Telesik-Little Stick grew very fast and he became so handsome that the old man and old woman could not take their eyes off him.

One day, when Telesik was a grown lad, he said to the old man:

Make me a boat of gold and an oar of silver, Father. I will catch fish and feed both Mother and you.”

The old man made a golden boat and a silver oar, he let the boat down into the water, and Telesik went rowing along and catching fish. He spent most of his time on the water. He would catch some fish and give them to the old man and old woman, and then he would go rowing again. And the old woman brought him food for him to eat in the boat.

Said the old woman:

You must remember to row to shore only when I call you, Telesik. If you hear a stranger calling you must row past him and away!

One day she cooked Telesik some food, brought it to the river shore and called:

Telesik-Little Stick,

Come and be quick!

I have brought you some food,

And some water to drink!”

Telesik heard her and cried:

Move, golden boat,

Row, silver oar,

My mother is waiting for me on the shore!”

He made for the shore, pulled in, had his food and drink, and giving his boat a push with his silver oar, made off again to catch fish.

Now, a snake heard his mother calling to Telesik, she crawled out onto the shore and called in her harsh voice:

Telesik-Little Stick,

Come and be quick!

I have brought you some food,

And some water to drink.

But Telesik was not easy to trick.

That is not my mother's voice! he said to himself and called out loudly:

Move, golden boat, row, silver oar,

Carry me farther away from the shore!

He swung his oar, and the boat moved off. And the snake waited on the shore for a while and then crawled away.

After a time Telesik's mother made him some dinner, took it to the

river shore and called:

Telesik-Little Stick,

Come and be quick!

I have brought you some food,

And some water to drink.

Telesik heard her and cried:

Move, golden boat,

Row, silver oar,

My mother is waiting for me on the shore!

He pulled in to the shore, ate and drank, gave his mother the fish

he had caught and made off again.

And the snake crawled out onto the shore and called in her hoarse voice:

Telesik-Little Stick,

Come and be quick!

I have brought you some food And some water to drink!

But Telesik knew it wasn't his mother calling and began plying his oar the harder.

Move, golden boat,

Row, silver oar,

Carry me farther away from the shore!

he cried.

The boat moved off, and the snake who saw that nothing would come of her trying to trick Telesik, left the river and went to the blacksmith.

Blacksmith, Blacksmith!” she cried. Forge me a new throat. I want my throat to be as thin as that of Telesik's mother.

The Blacksmith did that, and the snake went to the river calling:

Telesik-Little Stick,

Come and be quick!

I have brought you some food And some water to drink!”

Telesik thought it was his mother calling and cried:

Move, golden boat,

Row, silver oar,

My mother is waiting for me on the shore!

He pulled in to the shore, and the snake seized him and carried him off to her house.

Open the door, Olenka, little snake!” she called.

Olenka opened the door, and the snake came inside.

Olenka, little snake, heat the oven, make it so hot that the bricks will come rolling out of it, and roast Telesik for me, she said. I'll go and invite some guests and we'll have a feast.

And off she hurried to call the guests.

Olenka lit the oven, made it so hot that it all but fell apart and said: Get on this spade, Telesik.

I don’t know how to do it, Telesik said. You must show me how. Come, now, sit down on it!

Telesik put his hand on the spade.

Like this?” he asked.

No! Didn't you hear me? You must sit on it!”

Telesik put his head on the spade.

Like this? he asked again.

No!

Like this, then? And he put his leg on the spade.

No, silly!

Well, then, show me how to do it.

There was no help for it, so she got on the spade, and Telesik seized it, thrust it into the oven and shut the oven door. Then he left the hut, climbed a tall sycamore tree and waited.

Some time passed, and the snake and her guests the dragons came flying up.

Olenka, little snake, open the door!” she called.

The door remained closed.

Olenka, little snake, where are you? Open the door! she called again.

But Olenka did not reply.

A plague on that young one! She must have gone off somewhere! cried the snake.

She unlocked the door, let in her guests and seated them round the table. Then she took the roast out of the oven, and, thinking it was Telesik, she and her guests set to eating it. They ate their fill, came out into the yard and lay down on the grass.

We’ll lie on the grass and roll on it, for we made a good meal of little Telesik! they cried.

And Telesik called from the top of the tree:

Yes, lie on the grass and roll on it, for you made a good meal of little Olenka! - They heard him, but could not make out who it was calling and cried again:

We'll lie on the grass and roll on it, for we made a good meal of little Telesik!

And Telesik called once more from the top of the tree:

Yes, lie on the grass and roll on it, for you made a good meal of little Olenka!

Now, this made them stop and ponder who it was calling. They looked all around, and, seeing Telesik on the top of the sycamore tree, rushed to the tree and began chewing at it. They chewed and they chewed till they broke their teeth, but they could not chew through it. So they ran to a Blacksmith and said:

Blacksmith, Blacksmith, forge us teeth strong enough to chew through a sycamore tree!

The Blacksmith forged them teeth of metal, and they chewed away at the tree again. They had nearly chewed through it when all of a sudden who should come flying by but a flock of geese. Telesik saw them and called:

Little Geese, heed my plea,

To my folks carry me!

At the door they will meet us,

To a feast they will treat us;

We will eat and drink too

And then dance the night through!

And the geese called back:

Let the ones that are flying behind us help you!”

The dragons gnawed away at the tree again when all of a sudden who should come flying up but another flock of geese.

Telesik saw them and called:

Little Geese, heed my plea,

To my folks carry me!

At the door they will meet us,

To a feast they will treat us!

We will eat and drink too

And then dance the night through!

And the geese called back:

Let the ones that are flying behind us help you!

By that time the sycamore tree was all but chewed through and it creaked and swayed. The dragons would stop for a rest and then chew away at the tree again, and this happened once and twice and three times.

All of a sudden who should come flying by but a third flock of geese. Telesik saw them and called:

Little Geese, heed my plea,

To my. folks carry me!

At the door they will meet us,

To a feast they will treat us;

We will eat and drink too

And then dance the night through!

But the geese called back:

Let the ones that are flying behind us help you! And away they flew. There sat Telesik and he was very sad indeed, for the tree was about to fall and he knew he would fall with it and be killed!

All of a sudden who should come flying up but a young goose all by itself. It had fallen behind the other geese and was so spent that it could hardly fly.

Telesik saw it and called:

Little Goose, take me, pray,

Off this tree and away!

Little Goose, heed my plea,

To my folks carry me!

At the door they will meet us,

To a feast they will treat us;

We will eat and drink too

And then dance the night through.

The goose took pity on Telesik.

Get on! it cried, and it helped Telesik climb on its back and flew on. So tired was the poor thing that it could only fly very low, and the dragons went after it and tried to seize Telesik, but though they tried very hard they could not do it and soon gave up.

The goose brought Telesik home, put him down on a bench by the side of the house and began walking over the yard and picking at the grass.

Telesik sat on the bench and listened to what was being said in the hut. Now, the old woman was baking pies just then. She took some out of the oven and said:

Here is a pie for you, Old Man, and here is another for me!

And Telesik called from where he was sitting on the bench:

How about one for me, Mother?'

The old woman took some more pies out of the oven and said again: Here is a pie for you, Old Man, and here is another for me!

And Telesik called again:

Don't you want to give me one, Mother?

The old man and old woman stopped and listened.

What was that? Didn't I hear someone calling me, Old Man? the old woman asked.

It only seemed so to you,” said the old man.

The old woman took some more pies out of the oven.

Here's a pie for you, Old Man, and another for me! she said.

Don't you want to give me one, Mother? Telesik called again.

Say what you will, but I hear someone calling me! said the old woman. She glanced out of the window, and there was Telesik sitting on the bench!

The old man and old woman rushed out of the hut, seized Telesik and carried him inside, and they were as glad as glad can be!

Now, the goose was still in the yard, and the old woman saw it and said:

There's a young goose out in the yard. I will go and catch it and roast it for our dinner.

Oh, no, Mother, don't do that! Telesik cried. Feed it instead. For if it wasn't for the goose I would not be with you now.

So they fed the goose and gave it water to drink, and they put some millet under the porch for it to eat later. And the goose felt much stronger for the food it ate and flew away.

So there's a little tale for you,

And for me some rolls and some honey too!

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