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Russian Fairy Tale and Folklore
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 A Russian Fairy Tale
  In a certain kingdom there lived an old couple in great poverty.
  Sooner or later the old woman died. It was in winter, in severe
  and frosty weather. The old man went round to his friends and
  neighbors, begging them to help him to dig a grave for the old
  woman; but his friends and neighbors, knowing his great poverty,
  all flatly refused. The old man went to the pope, (but in that
  village they had an awfully grasping pope, one without any
  conscience), and says he:--
  "Lend a hand, reverend father, to get my old woman buried."
  "But have you got any money to pay for the funeral? if
  so, friend, pay up beforehand!"
  "It's no use hiding anything from you. Not a single copeck
  have I at home. But if you'll wait a little, I'll earn some, and
  then I'll pay you with interest--on my word I'll pay you!"
  The pope wouldn't so much as listen to the old man.
  "If you haven't any money, don't you dare to come here,"
  says he.
  "What's to be done?" thinks the old man. "I'll go to the
  graveyard, dig a grave as I best can, and bury the old woman
  myself." So he took an axe and a shovel, and went to the graveyard.
  When he got there he began to prepare a grave. He
  chopped away the frozen ground on the top with the axe, and
  then he took to the shovel. He dug and dug, and at last he dug
  out a metal pot. Looking into it he saw that it was stuffed full
  of ducats that shone like fire. The old man was immensely delighted,
  and cried, "Glory be to Thee, O Lord! I shall have
  wherewithal both to bury my old woman, and to perform the
  rites of remembrance."
  He did not go on digging the grave any longer, but took the
  pot of gold and carried it home. Well, we all know what money
  will do--everything went as smooth as oil! In a trice there
  were found good folks to dig the grave and fashion the coffin.
  The old man sent his daughter-in-law to purchase meat and
  drink and different kind of relishes--everything there ought to
  be at memorial feasts--and he himself took a ducat in his hand
  and hobbled back again to the pope's. The moment he reached
  the door, out flew the pope at him.
  "You were distinctly told, you old lout, that you were not to
  come here without money; and now you've slunk back again."
  "Don't be angry, batyushka," said the old man imploringly.
  "Here's gold for you. If you'll only bury my old woman, I'll
  never forget your kindness."
  The pope took the money, and didn't know how best to
  receive the old man, where to seat him, with what words to
  smooth him down. "Well now, old friend! Be of good cheer;
  everything shall be done," said he.
  The old man made his bow, and went home, and the pope
  and his wife began talking about him.
  "There now, the old hunks!" they say. "So poor, forsooth,
  so poor! And yet he's paid a gold piece. Many a defunct
  person of quality have I buried in my time, but I never got so
  from anyone before."
  The pope got under weigh with all his retinue, and buried
  the old crone in proper style. After the funeral the old man
  invited him to his house, to take part in the feast in memory of
  the dead. Well, they entered the cottage, and sat down to table--and
  there appeared from somewhere or other meat and drink
  and all sorts of snacks, everything in profusion. The (reverend)
  guest sat down, ate for three people, looked greedily at what
  was not his. The (other) guests finished their meal, and separated
  to go to their homes; then the pope also rose from the
  table. The old man went to speed him on his way. As soon
  as they got into the farmyard, and the pope saw they were alone
  at last, he began questioning the old man: "Listen, friend!
  confess to me, don't leave so much as a single sin on your soul--it's
  just the same before me as before God! How have you
  managed to get on at such a pace? You used to be a poor
  moujik, and now--marry! where did it come from? Confess,
  friend, whose breath have you stopped? whom have you
  "What are you talking about, batyushka? I will tell you the
  exact truth. I have not robbed, nor plundered, nor killed anyone.
  A treasure tumbled into my hands of its own accord."
  And he told him how it all happened. When the pope
  heard these words he actually shook all over with greediness.
  Going home, he did nothing by night and by day but think,
  "That such a wretched lout of a moujik should have come in
  for such a lump of money! Is there any way of tricking him
  now, and getting this pot of money out of him?" He told his
  wife about it, and he and she discussed the matter together, and
  held counsel over it.
  "Listen, mother," says he; "we've a goat, haven't we?"
  "All right, then; we'll wait until it's night, and then we'll do
  the job properly."
  Late in the evening the pope dragged the goat indoors, killed
  it, and took off its skin--horns, beard, and all complete. Then
  he pulled the goat's skin over himself and said to his wife:
  "Bring a needle and thread, mother, and fasten up the skin
  all round, so that it mayn't slip off."
  So she took a strong needle, and some tough thread, and
  sewed him up in the goatskin. Well, at the dead of night, the
  pope went straight to the old man's cottage, got under the window,
  and began knocking and scratching. The old man hearing
  the noise, jumped up and asked:
  "Who's there?"
  "The Devil!"
  "Ours is a holy spot!" shrieked the moujik, and began
  crossing himself and uttering prayers.
  "Listen, old man," says the pope, "From me thou will not
  escape, although thou may'st pray, although thou may'st cross
  thyself; much better give me back my pot of money, otherwise I
  will make thee pay for it. See now, I pitied thee in thy misfortune,
  and I showed thee the treasure, thinking thou wouldst
  take a little of it to pay for the funeral, but thou hast pillaged it
  The old man looked out of window--the goat's horns and
  beard caught his eye--it was the Devil himself, no doubt of it.
  "Let's get rid of him, money and all," thinks the old man;
  "I've lived before now without money, and now I'll go on living
  without it."
  So he took the pot of gold, carried it outside, flung it on the
  ground, and bolted indoors again as quickly as possible.
  The pope seized the pot of money, and hastened home.
  When he got back, "Come," says he, "the money is in our
  hands now. Here, mother, put it well out of sight, and take a
  sharp knife, cut the thread, and pull the goatskin off me before
  anyone sees it."
  She took a knife, and was beginning to cut the thread at the
  seam, when forth flowed blood, and the pope began to howl:
  "Oh! it hurts, mother, it hurts! don't cut mother, don't
  She began ripping the skin open in another place, but with
  just the same result. The goatskin had united with his body all
  round. And all that they tried, and all that they did, even to taking
  the money back to the old man, was of no avail. The goatskin
  remained clinging tight to the pope all the same. God evidently
  did it to punish him for his great greediness.
A somewhat less heathenish story with regard to money is the
following, which may be taken as a specimen of the Skazkas which bear
the impress of the genuine reverence which the peasants feel for their
religion, whatever may be the feelings they entertain towards its
ministers. While alluding to this subject, by the way, it may be as
well to remark that no great reliance can be placed upon the evidence
contained in the folk-tales of any land, with respect to the relations
between its clergy and their flocks. The local parson of folk-lore is,
as a general rule, merely the innocent inheritor of the bad reputation
acquired by some ecclesiastic of another age and clime.