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Russian Fairy Tale and Folklore
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Once upon a time two merchants lived in a certain town just on
the verge of a stream. One of them was a Russian, the other a
Tartar; both were rich. But the Russian got so utterly ruined
by some business or other that he hadn't a single bit of property
left. Everything he had was confiscated or stolen. The Russian
merchant had nothing to turn to--he was left as poor as a
rat. So he went to his friend the Tartar, and besought him to
lend him some money.
"Get me a surety," says the Tartar.
belonging to me? Stay, though! there's a surety for you, the
life-giving cross on the church!"
"Very good, my friend!" says the Tartar. "I'll trust your
cross. Your faith or ours, it's all one to me."
And he gave the Russian merchant fifty thousand roubles.
The Russian took the money, bade the Tartar farewell, and
went back to trade in divers places.
By the end of two years he had gained a hundred and fifty
thousand roubles by the fifty thousand he had borrowed. Now
he happened to be sailing one day along the
wares from one place to another, when all of a sudden a storm
arose, and was on the point of sinking the ship he was in. Then
the merchant remembered how he had borrowed money, and
given the life-giving cross as a surety, but had not paid his debt.
That was doubtless the cause of the storm arising! No sooner
had he said this to himself than the storm began to subside.
The merchant took a barrel, counted out fifty thousand roubles,
wrote the Tartar a note, placed it, together with the money, in
the barrel, and then flung the barrel into the water, saying to
himself: "As I gave the cross as my surety to the Tartar, the
money will be certain to reach him."
The barrel straightway sank to the bottom; everyone supposed
the money was lost. But what happened? In the Tartar's
house there lived a Russian kitchen-maid. One day she
happened to go to the river for water, and when she got there
she saw a barrel floating along. So she went a little way into
the water and began trying to get hold of it. But it wasn't to be
done! When she made at the barrel, it retreated from her:
when she turned from the barrel to the shore, it floated after
her. She went on trying and trying for some time, then she
went home and told her master all that had happened. At first
he wouldn't believe her, but at last he determined to go to the
river and see for himself what sort of barrel it was that was
floating there. When he got there--sure enough there was the
barrel floating, and not far from the shore. The Tartar took off
his clothes and went into the water; before he had gone any
distance the barrel came floating up to him of its own accord.
He laid hold of it, carried it home, opened it, and looked inside.
There he saw a quantity of money, and on top of the money a
note. He took out the note and read it, and this is what was
said in it:--
"Dear friend! I return to you the fifty thousand roubles for
which, when I borrowed them from you, I gave the life-giving
cross as a surety."
The Tartar read these words and was astounded at the power
of the life-giving cross. He counted the money over to see
whether the full sum was really there. It was there exactly.
Meanwhile, the Russian merchant, after trading some five
years, made a tolerable fortune. Well, he returned to his old
home, and, thinking that his barrel had been lost, he considered
it his first duty to settle with the Tartar. So he went to his
house and offered him the money he had borrowed. Then the
Tartar told him all that had happened and how he had found
the barrel in the river, with the money and the note inside it.
Then he showed him the note, saying:
"Is that really your hand?"
"It certainly is," replied the other.
Every one was astounded at this wondrous manifestation,
and the Tartar said:
"Then I've no more money to receive from you, brother;
take that back again."
The Russian merchant had a service performed as a thank-offering
to God, and next day the Tartar was baptized with all
his household. The Russian merchant was his godfather, and
the kitchen-maid his godmother. After that they both lived
long and happily, survived to a great age, and then died peacefully.