A collection Fairy tales from Russia. Sergei Aksakov: The little scarlet flower.


 

A collection Fairy tales from Russia. 
Sergei Aksakov: The little scarlet flower.

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Leaving the palace by another staircase, this one of green marble and copper malachite with gilded banisters, he descended straight into the verdant gardens. And there he walked and admired the trees covered in fruit ripe and red, just asking to be eaten, so tempting they made his mouth water. And beautiful flowers blos-somed, full and fragrant and bright with every colour. Strange birds flitted about, like gold and silver displayed on green and crimson velvet, singing heavenly music. Fountains of water spouted so high a man had to throw back bis head to see their tops, and clear springs ran bustling and babbling through crystal channels.
The honest merchant walked in awe, Us eyes racing to and fro to take in all these marvels-and he knew not where to look or what to listen to. Whether he wandered long in this way I cannot say;
it is quicker to tell the tale than do the deed. But, all of a sudden, he saw on a grassy mpund a flower of scarlet hue; its beauty was more than words can tell or a pen depict. The honest merchant's heart missed a beat; he drew near to the flower, and he felt its perfume fill the air throughout the garden, like a fragrant stream. And his hands and legs trembled as he cried out joyfully, "This is the Little Scarlet Flower whose beauty is greater than anything in the world, that my beloved youngest daughter asked me to bring!"
With these words, he approached and plucked the Little Scarlet Hower, That same moment, with no black warning cloud, lightning flashed and thunder rolled till the earth shook beneath his feet. And there appeared before the merchant, as from the ground, a creature that was neither beast nor man, a monster covered in hair and ter-rible to behold. And the monster roared in a savage voice,

"What hast thou done? How darest thou pluck my favourite flower, the sacred flower of my garden? I tended and cherished it more than the apple of my eye, and it was my pleasure every day to behold it. Now thou hast taken all the pleasure out of my life. I am the lord of this palace and garden; I welcomed thee as a guest, dear and honoured; I gave thee food and drink and rest. Is this how thou repayest my goodness? Learn then thy bitter fate: for thy crime thou wilt die before thy time!"
And a great choms of savage voices took up the cry, "For thy crime thou wilt die before thy time!"
The honest merchant's teeth clattered from fright. He looked round and saw on every side, from under every bush and tree, from the water and the ground, a host of evil spirits, all hideous monsters, were crawling towards him. Falling on his knees before the great and terrible monster, he cried in piteous tones. "Dear Lord and Master, Honest Sir, Beast of the Forest, Denizen of the Deep-I know not how to call thee, I cannot tell. Destroy not my Christian soul for my innocent boldness; have me not cut down and slain; but let me plead with thee. I have three daughters, three fair maidens good and kind; and I promised to bring them each a gift-for the eldest a jewelled crown, for the second a crystal mirror, and for the youngest the Little Scarlet Flower whose beauty is greater than anything in the world. I found the gifts for my eldest daughters, but not for my youngest, no matter where I looked. Then I saw it in thy garden, the Little Scarlet Flower whose beauty is greater than anything in the world, and I thought that such a very wealthy lord, so glorious and mighty, would not begrudge the Little Scarlet Flower for which my dear youngest daughter asked. I repent my crime before thy Majesty. Forgive me, I was foolish and stupid, let me go free to my dear daughters and let me have the Little Scarlet Flower as a gift for my beloved youngest daughter. I shall pay thee in golden coin, whatever price thou demandest."
A great roar of laughter rang through the forest, like thunder rumbling in the heavens, and the Beast of the Forest, that Denizen of the Deep, addressed the merchant thus,

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