The boy given to the mus

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The boy given to the mus (Kalmyk fairytales)

Once upon a time there were the old man and the old woman and their two sons. They had a hundred red oxen and a short horse as black as pitch.

One day the old man rode his horse as black as pitch, took his spear thirty sazhens* long and drove a hundred oxen to White Sacred Lake *. The oxen did not drink the water and shied. He patted his horse as black as pitch, wondered why the oxen did not drink, and looking at the lake, he thought that he was feeling dizzy or the lake was evaporating. He saw something of pink colour floating. He pierced the top of its head with his spear thirty sazhens long. The pink creature turned into a three-year-old black mus * with thirty five heads, seized the old man and did not let him out.

- Let me out; I will give you my hundred red oxen, - the old man said.

- I will kill your oxen after your death.

The old man: - I will give you my old woman.

- I will kill your old woman after your death.

- Please, let me out; I will give you the elder of my sons, - he said.

- I will kill your son after your death. Give me the younger of your sons, - the beast said.

The old man laughed in its face and wept behind its back and said that he would.

- Well, how will I give him to you?

- I will set fire to the white hillside * tomorrow at noon sharp; send your son to me, - he said.

- Well - the old man said, and having given him his oxen to eat, he came home and suffered.

The next day the white hillside caught fire at noon sharp.

- Father, our hillside is on fire, - the boy said to his father.

- Go and put it out, - he said.

The boy rode his horse as black as pitch; he almost reached the fire and saw a yellow-headed snake in the fire. He pulled it out of the fire and it turned into the three-year-old black mus with thirty five heads; he took the boy along with him to his home. The beast married his daughter to him; they lived happily, and the mus said:

- Well, I have become old and sit at home. You choose: to live here or return to your father, boy.

- I will come back to my father, - he said.

The mus gave him half of his possessions and half of his subjects. The boy took them along with him, got to his father and got off, and having reached his father, they dismounted and stood behind him. It turned out that his elder brother used not to go out. He used to eat ashes and be busy with them.

One day the brother did go out. Having seen the house of his younger brother, he came and said: “You have bought a house for my younger brother; buy a house for me too”, - he bothered his parents.

- Well, what shall we do? - the old woman and the old man talked it over; “I gave five goats to your great grandfather, go and take them back”, they decided to say. They called their son. The son came.

- I gave five goats to your great grandfather; go and take them back.

- Well, I will - he said.

He came home. He had an angry air.

- Why have you become angry? - his wife asked him.

- My father has told me to take back his five goats from my great grandfather.

- Well, all right - she said, and boiled a hundred horses, a hundred cows and a hundred sheep together and put them layered into a small bag *.

The boy took it, made sandals of iron and a stick of iron and started on his way. It is unknown how long he has been gone. He saw a hole while he was going on his way. He sat down on the hole, had meals and closed his eyes tightly, closed his ears and fell into it. It was buzzing around him while he was getting into the underground world. Everybody had been suffering there. While he was going on his way, a man driving goats asked him:

- You, boy, where are you coming from and going to? - he said.

- My father has sent me. He told me that my great grandfather had kept five goats and that I should bring him his five goats.

- A living man must not walk in this world. He gave him a leather bag with two divisions *. “Take this and do not open it”, he said. He held out a golden ring to the boy. “Take it,” he said, “do not open it”, he told him. He gave the golden ring to him.

- Well, boy, as soon as you reach the entrance to the hole, pray to the god and have a sleep. Boy, good luck and come back safely, - he said and disappeared.

The boy ran and, having reached the entrance to the hole, prayed and fell asleep. As he woke up, he found himself lying across the hole. He got up and started on his way back. While he was going on his way, he wondered what was in the sack given to him by the old man and opened it.

Naked people with spears of reeds and swords of reed mace * cut the grass to the roots and began approaching the boy. He thought what to do and showed the ring. They went back into the bag. He tied up the bag and ran. He came home and threw the bag near the door; he came home, and while he was having tea, his wife:

- Look, our grandfather is being attacked, - she said.

- Yes, he is - he said.

He stood up and showed his ring. So they went back into the bag. He tied up the bag, and they lived together happily.



A mus * - a beast, a monster, who eats much food; its pronunciation in Kalmyk is [mus].

A sazhen *- the ancient measure of length: from someone’s finger tips of one outstretched arm to finger tips of the other outstretched arm; the combined length of both outstretched arms.

White Sacred Lake * - the invented name of the lake; a lake with clear and transparent water.

A white hillside * - a hillside covered with feather grass.

A small bag * - a small bag made of cloth or leather with tapes.

A leather bag * - a leather bag with a strap that was worn on a shoulder. In the given case it was a bag, which had two divisions - two bags sewn together.

Reed mace (bulrushes, cattails) * - a southern plant that grows in fresh and salt marshes and has sword-shaped leaves.



Translated from Kalmyk into English by Danara Balayeva-Kokayeva
Перевод с калмыцкого на английский Данары Балаевой-Кокаевой

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