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Russian Fairy Tales

The Shepherd’s Flute

In a village there was an very poor old man who had a son named Ivanushka. From an early age Ivanushka loved to play the flute and he played it so well that everyone who heard him play could never seem to hear enough. 
When Ivanushka played a sad song all the people wept. When he played a happy tune everyone danced, they simply could not resist doing so. 
When Ivanushka grew up he told his father and his mother that he was going out to find work. After saying their goodbyes Ivanushka walked down the road.
After some time Ivanushka came to a village but no one was hiring so Ivanushka went on. 
He waked and walked from hut to hut but no one needed to hire anyone for anything. Then at last he came to a house where a man asked if he could watch over the sheep as they grazed.
Ivanushka told the man that he could.
“I have only one condition,” the man told Ivanushka. “If you do a good job, I’ll pay you double what a shepherd normally earns but if you loose just one sheep you don’t get paid anything.”
Ivanushka agreed to this and so early in the morning at the first sign of light he went out with the sheep and returned with them when the sun had set. And every evening when he returned home the owner of the sheep was there counting them to find that all the sheep were safe. 
A month passed this way, and another and then another until it was nearly time for the owner of the sheep to pay Ivanushka the promised amount. 
The owner of the sheep grew worried then because he’d never had all the sheep survive. One sheep always disappeared or was lost to a wolf. Anxious and not wanting to pay the Ivanushka the owner decided to spy on him to see how he was being so successful. 
So the next morning when everyone was still asleep the sheeps owner pulled on a sheepskin coat and went into the barn with the other sheep on all fours. He then waited for Ivanushka to come and lead the sheep out to pasture.
When the sun was rising Ivanushka came and drove the sheep bleating up to the pasture, and although it was difficult for the sheep’s owner to keep up he didn’t fall very far behind.
Ivanushka drove the sheep to the edge of the forest and sat down under a tree while the sheep nibbled grass in the meadow. 
Whenever a sheep started to wander into the forest Ivanushka played a tune on his pipe and all the sheep came running over to him.
Meanwhile the owner of the sheep was walking on all fours nibbling grass like a sheep. He felt worried at what the neighbors would think at his having to pay his shepherd double. 
“Now that your well fed,” Ivanushka told the sheep you can dance.
With that Ivanushka began to play on his flute and the sheep began to tap their hooves as they danced around. The sheep’s owner started to dance too even though he was still hungry after eating nothing but grass all day. 
Ivanushka played faster and faster, and so the sheep and their owner began to dance faster and faster. He started to dance so fat that he felt as though he were going to die. The sweat rolled down his red face. When he could take it no longer he shouted out begging the Ivanushka to stop playing as he had to urinate but Ivanushka did not hear him and kept right on playing.
Finally when Ivanushka stopped he noticed the owner of the sheep sprawled out and exhausted. 
“Oh master is that you? Ivanushka asked. How did you get here?
“I just wandered her by chance.”
“Why are you wearing wool? Ivanushka asked.
“It seemed like it would be a cold day,” the sheep’s owner responded.
After that the sheep’s owner dragged himself through the bushes and back to his house and told his wife what had happened.
“We need to get rid of that shepherd quickly,” the man said to his wife. “So we don’t have to pay him that much.”
“We cannot give up,” the mans wife told him. “We would be shamed if we had to pay him so much.”
“But he made me dance so hard I nearly died,” the man told her.
“You fool,” his wife told him. You cannot dance if you are locked away. 
So they went to the attic and she locked him inside a trunk, latching it with a bar.
When Ivanushka returned the mans wife approached him.
“Is it true that you can play the flute so well that everyone who hears it must dance?” she asked him.
“Its true.”
“Well play, if my husband and I dance we’ll pay your salary if not you must go.”
So Ivanushka took up his flute and began to play.
The women tried to resist dancing by kneading dough but she could not and soon she was dancing with her dough. 
Ivanushka played faster and faster and louder and louder causing the women to dance faster and faster. Her husband heard the song in the attic and began to dance in the trunk. He danced and squirmed until at last he broke out of the trunk head first and began to dance across the attic floor. He danced down out of the attic and began to dance with his wife.
Ivanushka went out and sat on the porch and played and played.
The man and his wife jumped off the porch and began to dance in the yard. They became so exhausted they could barley breath but they could not stop dancing. They danced with the chickens, the sheep, the cows, and the dogs in their kennels. 
Ivanushka stood on the porch the whole time, playing and playing. He then walked to the gate and everyone followed behind him dancing. 
“Please, please stop,” the man begged Ivanushka. “Don’t enter the village and dishonor us in front of everyone. We’ll pay you what we promised.”
“Oh no, let the people look at you and have a good laugh,” Ivanushka smiled. 
He then lead the man and his wife dancing wildly through the village and the whole village came running and laughed as they pointed at the couple dancing away.
In the morning Ivanushka received his pay and went home to his father and his mother as the man and his wife hid away too embarrassed to show their faces.


Russian Monsters:   Alkonost    Baba Yaga    Bannik     Domovoi     Leshy     Vampires      Morozko      Zmey     



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Fairies, Fairy Tales, Fairy Books