The Renowned Hero, Bova Korolevich and the Princess Drushnevna (Russian Folk Tale)

Folk Tales, Russian Folk Tales9120


In the famous city of Anton ruled the brave and mighty King Guidon; who heard so much from his own subjects, as well as foreigners, of the beauty of the Princess Militrisa Kirbitovna, that he longed to see her. So he set out, and travelled to the city of Dimichtian, where he saw her many times, and fell deeply in love with her.

When King Guidon returned home, he sent his servant Litcharda as ambassador to King Kirbit Versoulovich, the father of the Princess Militrisa Kirbitovna, with a letter written by his own hand, to ask for his daughter in marriage. When Litcharda arrived at the city of Dimichtian, he delivered to King Kirbit the letter from his master; and after Kirbit had read it through, he went at once to the Princess Militrisa, and said to her: “My dear daughter, the fame of your beauty has reached the brave and powerful King Guidon. He has been in the city to see you, and has fallen deeply in love with you. He has sent a messenger to demand your hand, and I have already given my consent.”

As King Kirbit spoke these words, Militrisa fell to weeping; and her father seeing this said: “Grieve not, dear daughter, Guidon is powerful, renowned, and rich; he will be a good husband to you, and you will share the government with him. To refuse his request is impossible, for he would return with a large army, storm our city, and carry you off by force.”

When the Princess Militrisa heard this, she began to sob, fell on her knees, and said: “My lord and father, you have sovereign power over me, but let me confess the truth: I have seen Guidon, but his very look terrified me; I fear therefore to marry him. I entreat you, dear father, to alter your resolution, and to give me to Tsar Dadon, who is our neighbour, a faithful friend, and protector of our kingdom.” But Kirbit did not listen to her entreaties, and sent her to King Guidon to be his wife, in the city of Anton. Guidon rejoiced exceedingly at her arrival, ordered a great feast to be prepared for their wedding the following day, and set at liberty all the prisoners in his kingdom on this joyous event.

For three years Guidon lived with Militrisa, and they had one only son, named Bova Korolevich, who was of a powerful figure and handsome bearing, and he grew, not from day to day, but from hour to hour. One day Queen Militrisa Kirbitovna called her faithful servant Litcharda, and said: “Do me a true service; I will repay you with gold and precious stones: take this letter to Tsar Dadon, without the knowledge of King Guidon: fail not to do my bidding, or you shall die a miserable death.”

Litcharda took the private letter of the Queen, mounted his horse, rode to Tsar Dadon, and delivered the letter to him. When Dadon read it through he laughed, and said to Litcharda: “Your Queen either jokes or wishes to affront me: she invites me to lead my army before the city of Anton, and promises to deliver up her husband to me; this cannot truly be meant, because she has a young son.” But Litcharda replied: “Mighty Tsar Dadon, let not this letter arouse your suspicion; put me in prison with food and drink, collect your army, and march to the city of Anton, and if the contents of the letter prove untrue, let me suffer death.”

When Tsar Dadon heard these words from Litcharda, he rejoiced, and ordering the trumpets to sound, he collected an army of thirty thousand men, marched upon the city of Anton, and encamped on the royal meadows. No sooner was Militrisa Kirbitovna informed that Tsar Dadon was encamped before the city with his army, than, dressing herself in her best attire, she went to King Guidon, and, pretending to be ill, begged him to go out and slay a wild boar for her to eat. The King was glad to oblige his wife, and mounting his trusty horse, rode out to hunt.

As soon as he had left the city, Militrisa ordered the drawbridges to be raised and the gates to be shut. And hardly had King Guidon approached Tsar Dadon”s rearguard, when the latter instantly pursued him. Guidon turned his horse towards the city, but flight was in vain; when he came to the gates, and found them closed, and the drawbridges up, he was sad at heart, and exclaimed: “Most miserable of men! Now I see the cunning of my wicked wife, and the death she has prepared for me. But Bova, my dear boy, why did you not tell me of your mother”s treachery?” As he spoke these words Dadon rode at him, pierced him through the heart with his lance, and Guidon fell dead from his horse.

When Militrisa Kirbitovna saw this from the city walls, she ordered the gates to be opened and the bridges let down, and went out to meet Tsar Dadon, kissed him on the lips, took him by the white hands, and conducted him into the castle. Here they sat together at a table where a banquet was spread, and they began to feast. But the little boy, Bova Korolevich, young as he was, when he saw his mother”s wicked conduct, went out of the castle to the stable, and sitting down under a manger was sad at heart. His attendant, Simbalda, saw him sitting there, and wept at the sight, and said: “My dear young master, Bova Korolevich, your cruel mother has let Tsar Dadon kill my good lord your father, and now she feasts and sports with the murderer in the palace. You are young, my child, and cannot avenge your father”s death; indeed, who knows but that she may kill you likewise? To save our lives, therefore, we will fly to the city of Sumin, over which my father rules.” And so saying, Simbalda saddled for himself a good steed, and for Bova a palfrey, took with him thirty stout young fellows, and hurried out of the city.

As soon as Dadon”s followers saw this, they went and told their master that Bova and Simbalda had escaped towards Sumin. When Tsar Dadon heard this he forthwith commanded his army to be collected, and sent in pursuit of Bova Korolevich and his protector Simbalda, whom they overtook at a short distance from Sumin. Simbalda at once saw their danger, and, setting spurs to his horse, galloped off to the city and shut the gates. But Bova Korolevich, who was very young, could not hold his seat upon the horse, and fell to the ground. Then the pursuers seized Bova, and carried him to Tsar Dadon, who sent him to his mother, Militrisa; and, collecting all his army, he rode up to the city of Sumin, in order to take it by force, and put to death its inhabitants and Simbalda; and pitched his tent on the forbidden meadows around the city.

One night Dadon dreamed that Bova Korolevich pierced him through with a lance: and when he awoke he called to him his chief boyar, and sent him to Queen Militrisa, bidding her to put Bova to death. But when Militrisa Kirbitovna heard this message she replied: “I cannot myself kill him, for he is my own son; but I will command him to be thrown into a dark dungeon, and kept without food or drink, and so he will die of hunger.”

Meanwhile Tsar Dadon lay encamped before the city of Sumin for half a year, but could neither take it by force nor starvation; so at length he broke up his camp and returned to Anton. After his departure, Simbalda assembled an army of fifteen thousand men, marched upon the city of Anton, surrounded it on all sides, and demanded that Bova should be given up to him. But Dadon collected an army twice as strong as Simbalda”s, and drove him back into the city of Sumin.

One day, as Queen Militrisa was walking in her garden, she by chance passed the prison where Bova Korolevich was confined. Then he cried aloud: “Alas! my gracious mother, fair Queen Militrisa, why are you so enraged against me? Why have you put me in prison and given me no food on purpose to let me die of hunger? Have I grieved you by any ill conduct or cruel words, that you treat me in this way, or have wicked people spoken evil of me to you?” Militrisa answered: “I know of nothing wrong in you, and have only put you in prison on account of your irreverence to Tsar Dadon, who defends our kingdom against our enemies, while you are young; but I will soon set you at liberty, and will send you now some sweetmeats and meat; you can eat as much as you like.”

“Alas! my gracious mother, why have you put me in prison?”

So saying, Queen Militrisa went into the palace and set to work to make two cakes, of wheaten dough and serpent”s fat, which she baked and sent to Bova Korolevich by a servant maid named Chernavka. But when the maid came to Bova she said: “Master, do not eat the cakes which your mother has sent, but give them to the dogs, for they are poisoned, here is a piece of my own bread.” So Bova took the cakes and threw them to the dogs, and as soon as they tasted them they died. And when he saw Chernavka”s kindness and fidelity, he took her black bread and ate it, and begged her not to close the prison door: so she left it open, and when she came again to Militrisa she told her she had given the cakes to Bova.

As soon as the servant was gone, Bova escaped from his prison and went to the harbour to forget his sorrow. There some drunken people seized and carried him on board a ship, and the merchants on it asked him of what condition he was. Bova Korolevich told them that he was of the poor class, and that his mother got her living by washing linen for strangers. When the sailors heard this they wondered that he should look so handsome, and bethought them how they might keep him with them. They began to wrangle as to who should be his master, but as soon as Bova perceived their intention, he told them not to quarrel for his sake, for that he would serve them all in turn.

Then the shipmen left the city of Anton and sailed out to sea, to the Armenian kingdom of King Sensibri Andronovich. There they cast anchor, and went into the city to follow their business; whilst Bova went on shore, and wandered about, playing on the lute. Meantime the port officers came on board the ship, whom King Sensibri sent to enquire whence the ship had come, who the merchants were, and what was their business. But when they heard Bova Korolevich playing, and saw the beauty of his features, they forgot what they had come for, and returning to King Sensibri, said only that they had seen a youth of unspeakable beauty on board the ship, who played on the lute so wonderfully that they were never tired of listening to him; adding, that they had quite forgotten to enquire what wares the ship contained. When the King heard this he went himself to the ship, and when he had seen Bova, he offered to purchase him, but the merchants would not sell him for any price, telling the King that he belonged to them all equally, and relating how they had picked him up on the seashore. At this King Sensibri flew into a rage, and instantly ordered them to be driven out of his kingdom, forbidding them ever to return. On hearing this order, the merchants agreed to sell Bova Korolevich for three hundred bars of gold.

When Bova was brought to the Court, the King called to him and said: “Tell me, young fellow, to what class do you belong, and what is your name?” And Bova replied: “Gracious King, Sensibri Andronovich, I am of the poor class, and lost my father at an early age: my mother washes linen for strangers; and thus supports herself and me. My name is Anhusei, and I will serve thee henceforth faithfully.”

When the King heard this he said: “As you are of the lowest class and cannot remember your father, go into my stables, and you shall be the head over all my grooms.” So Bova made his bow and went into the stable.

Bova often drove out with his comrades to the forbidden meadows of the King, to get grass for the horses; but he never took a sickle with him, but pulled all the grass with his hands, and gathered himself as much as ten men together could mow. When the other grooms saw this they were amazed at his strength. His fame at length reached the King”s daughter, the fair Drushnevna, who went to see him: and as soon as she beheld Bova, she was enraptured with his uncommon beauty. And one day she said to the King: “My gracious father, you are indeed powerful and renowned, not only in your own kingdom, but in all countries far and near, and no King, Tsar, or Knight can compare with you; but, O King! you have no trusty and clever steward in your household. Now, I have heard that there is a young lad in our royal stables whom you have purchased from some shipmen; his name is Anhusei. This lad will prove trusty and useful in your service; order him to be taken from the stable and employed in your household.”

King Sensibri replied: “My dear daughter, I have never refused to grant any one of your wishes, and in this matter too you are free to do as you will.” When the Princess Drushnevna heard these words, she thanked her father, made her obeisance, and went out. Then she ordered Bova to be called and desired him to leave his old task and to enter on his new employment in the household.

The next day she called Bova to her and said: “Hark ye, Anhusei, to-morrow my father will have a great feast, and all the princes, boyars, and knights will be present to eat and drink and sport; you must stand near me at the table to do my bidding.” Thereupon Bova made his bow and was going away, but the Princess Drushnevna called him back, and said: “Tell me the truth, young fellow, what class do you belong to–of boyar or kingly race? Or are you the son of some brave knight, or of a merchant from a foreign land? And what is your true name? I believe not that you are born of common folk as you told my father.” Then Bova replied: “Gracious Lady, I have told your royal father truly my name and condition, and can only repeat it to you.” And so saying he left the room.

On the morrow the King held a great feast, and Bova had to hold a roasted swan to the Princess Drushnevna, which she began to carve; and, on purpose, she let fall a fork on the floor. Bova instantly picked it up, and as he held it out to her she kissed him on the head. As soon as the feast was ended, Bova lay down to sleep, and slept three days and three nights; no shaking could arouse him. The fourth day, when he awoke, he rode out into the open country, walked into the forbidden meadows, gathered some beautiful flowers, and, making a wreath, placed it on his head, and so went into the city. When the Princess saw him thus decked out, she called him before her, and bade him take the wreath from his head and place it on hers. Bova did not obey; but he took the wreath from his head, pulled it to pieces, and flung it on the ground; then he left the room, and shut the door after him with such force that he pulled out the silver handle, and a stone fell from the wall and wounded him on the head. The fair Drushnevna hearing this, cured his wound with her medicines; and when it was healed Bova lay down again to sleep, and slept five days and five nights.

Now at this time King Marcobrun came from the kingdom beyond the Don, with many hundred thousand warriors; and surrounding the Armenian city with his army, he sent an ambassador to Sensibri to demand the Princess his daughter Drushnevna for wife; promising, in return, to reward and defend him; but threatening, in case of his refusal, to destroy the city with fire and sword, to throw him into prison, and carry off his daughter by force. Then King Sensibri answered: “Tell your Master, the renowned King Marcobrun that, until this day, I have never had any disagreement with him, but have lived in friendship and good-will; and that I have no desire now to quarrel with him; but better it had been to have sent you with a simple request instead of threats. I pardon him, however, on account of his youth, and invite him to my royal castle to eat bread and salt, and to celebrate the marriage with my daughter.”

King Sensibri dismissed the messenger, and commanding the city gates to be opened, went himself to meet King Marcobrun, took him by his white hands, led him into the marble palace, seated him at an oaken table spread with checkered tablecloths and sweetmeats, and they fell to eating and drinking and disport.

Just then Bova Korolevich awoke from his five days” sleep, and heard the confused sounds of men, and the neighing of horses, outside the city. Whereupon he went into the white marble palace to Princess Drushnevna, and said: “Gracious Lady, I hear the sounds of men and horses outside the city, and people say that Marcobrun”s nobles are amusing themselves with holding a tournament. I have a wish to join in it; command, I pray, a good steed to be given me, and allow me to go forth and see the sports.”

The Princess answered: “My little fellow Anhusei, how can you ride with Marcobrun”s nobles? You are still very young, and cannot sit fast on a horse. However, if you have so great a longing to go, choose a good horse and ride off to see the sport; but take no weapon, and do not mingle in their games.”

The instant Bova received this permission he went into the stable, straddled across a broom, and so rode out of the city. And as soon as Marcobrun”s nobles saw Bova Korolevich riding upon a broom, they began to laugh at him, and cried: “Look, look at King SensibrI's groom! riding cock-horse upon a broom! to sweep the field and make us room!” But Bova did not relish their jokes, and riding up to them, he defended himself with his broom, laying about him right and left, and knocking them down by twos and threes. When Marcobrun”s nobles saw this sport they rushed upon Bova, ten or more at once; but he took them as they came, and overthrew them all. Thereat the other knights were enraged, and attacked Bova, two hundred in a body, and tried to ride him down. Still Bova flinched not, but slew them all, one after another, to the number of two hundred thousand men. When the King”s daughter saw this from her window, she went to her father and said: “My gracious father, command your servant Anhusei to return. He has ridden forth to see the sports of Marcobrun”s nobles; but they are engaged against him, and are attacking him with great fury. It were a shame to let him be slain: he is still but a young child, and has little strength.” So King Sensibri Andronovich instantly sent to Bova, and ordered him to return to the city.

Bova obeyed the command, rode back to the city, lay down to sleep, and slept for nine days and nine nights. Meanwhile the powerful Tsar and knight Lukoper came to the Armenian kingdom: his head was as large as a beer-barrel, his eyebrows were a span apart, his shoulders an arrow”s length broad, and he was as tall as a journey. Never before had such a powerful knight been heard of; and he came at the head of a host twice as strong as the army of Marcobrun. Then he surrounded the city of King Sensibri, and sent an ambassador to him, demanding the hand of the Princess Drushnevna; threatening, if he refused, to lay waste his city with fire and sword, to imprison all the inhabitants, to overthrow Marcobrun”s army, slay both Kings, and carry off the Princess Drushnevna. But if Sensibri assented to his demand, Lukoper promised him his aid and protection.

When King Sensibri heard this message he dared not refuse, and dismissed the ambassador without an answer. Then he called Marcobrun, and took counsel with him, and they agreed to attack Lukoper with all their forces. They forthwith ordered their horses to be saddled; each seized in his right hand a steel sword, and in his left a sharp lance, and they rode forth out of the city. When the Tsar Lukoper beheld them, he rode with the blunt end of his lance against Marcobrun and Sensibri, overthrew them one after another, took them prisoners, and sent them to his father, Saltan Saltanovich, who was encamped with his army on the seashore. Then Lukoper fell upon the armies of Sensibri and Marcobrun, and slew them without mercy, while his gallant steed trampled down still more than he killed; and in a short time the royal forbidden meadows were covered with the dead.

Just at this time Bova Korolevich awoke from his sleep, and heard the noise of Lukoper”s army, and the neighing of the horses. Then he went to the Princess Drushnevna and said: “Gracious Lady, I hear the noise of Lukoper”s warriors, who are disporting in a tourney after the victory over your father and Marcobrun, whom he has sent prisoners to his father the Tsar Saltan Saltanovich, on the seashore. I am therefore come, as your faithful servant, to crave permission to take from the royal stable a good horse, with trappings, a sword, and a steel lance. Let me go forth against Lukoper”s army, measure my strength with him, and try the valour of his boasting warriors.” The Princess answered: “I will consent to your wish, young fellow; but you must first tell me truly of what rank of life you are, and what is your real name? You have not told my father the truth: your handsome figure and valorous deeds show clearly that you are no poor man”s son.”

“Lady,” replied Bova Korolevich, “I would not disclose to you my true rank and name, but that I am now going forth to a battle of life and death, and know not whether I shall return from it alive, or lose my head in rescuing my King from prison; therefore I will confess the truth. My father was the renowned King Guidon, a mighty hero in the field, and a merciful prince to his subjects. My mother is Queen Militrisa, daughter of the Tsar Kirbit Versoulovich: my name is Bova. I left my country in early youth, when King Dadon laid waste our kingdom, treacherously murdered my father, and seized upon his dominions. He sought to kill me too; but I fled, sailed with some merchants to your kingdom, and was bought by your father.”

When the Princess heard this story she loved Bova Korolevich still more, and she said to him: “Brave Knight, you would engage in a fight of life and death with the Tsar Lukoper, but you do not know, perhaps, how powerful he is, and what an immense army he has with him; besides, you are still very young, and have not the strength of manhood. Stay rather in my city, take me for your wife, and protect my country and people against our foes.”

Bova, however, was unmoved by her words; and again entreated her to let him have a steed and armour. When the Princess Drushnevna saw how earnestly he begged, she took from the wall a battle sword, buckled it on him with her own hands, put on his armour, and led him to the stone stable to fetch a steed, which stood there behind twelve iron doors and twelve huge locks. Then she commanded the grooms to strike off the locks; but as soon as the horse perceived a rider worthy of him, he began to burst the doors with his hoofs, broke them all down, ran out, set himself on his hind legs before Bova, and neighed so loud that the fair Drushnevna and all the bystanders were ready to fall down senseless.

When Bova took the horse by his black-grey mane and began to pat him, he stood still as if rooted to the spot; and Bova Korolevich seeing this, placed a Tcherkess saddle upon him, with girths of Persian silk and golden buckles. And when he vaulted into the saddle and took leave of the Princess Drushnevna, she embraced and kissed him. The royal Chamberlain, named Orlop, who saw this, began to reproach her, which angered Bova so much that he hurled him to the ground half-dead with the butt-end of his lance, and rode out of the city. Then Bova struck the flanks of his steed, which started, rose from the ground, and leaped over the city wall.

When Bova beheld the camp of the Tsar Lukoper, in which the tents stood as thick as trees in a forest, he drew his battle sword and mace, and rode straight against the mighty Tsar. The crash of two mountains falling upon one another is not so great as was the onset between these two powerful knights. Lukoper struck at Bova”s heart with his lance, but Bova parried the thrust with his shield, and the lance was shivered in pieces. Then Bova struck Lukoper on the head with his sword, and cleft his body in twain to the very saddle; after which he fell upon Lukoper”s army, and many as he slew with his battle-axe, as many again were trodden down under his horse”s hoofs. Bova fought five days without resting, and overthrew well nigh the whole army; a small number only escaped, who fled to the Tsar Saltan, and said to him: “Our Lord Tsar Saltan Saltanovich, after we had taken prisoners Tsars Sensibri and Marcobrun, and had overthrown all their enemies, a young fellow of handsome look rushed out of SensibrI's city, who slew your brave son Lukoper in single combat, and routed our whole army. He is even now in pursuit of us, slaying all whom he can overtake, and will presently attack you.”

On hearing this, Tsar Saltan was seized with terror, and hastened with his troops on board his ships, leaving all his tents and treasures behind, cut the cable, and instantly set sail from the Armenian kingdom. But hardly had he left the shore when Bova rode into the camp, and found not a single living soul except the Kings Marcobrun and Sensibri, who lay bound hand and foot beside Saltan”s tent. Bova Korolevich freed them from their bonds, and rode with them back to the Armenian kingdom.

On the way Sensibri Andronovich said to Bova: “My trusty servant Anhusei, I see your fidelity and valour; I owe my liberty to you, and I know not how to reward you: ask of me whatsoever you desire–my treasures are at your command.” Then Bova answered: “My gracious lord King, I am rewarded by your royal favour, and ask no more; but I will serve you faithfully to the best of my power.” And as they conversed thus they came to the Armenian city, where they feasted and made merry. Then Bova lay down to sleep, and slept nine days and nine nights.

At length Kings Sensibri and Marcobrun, tired of feasting, rode out into the fields to hunt for three days. And meanwhile it happened that the Chamberlain, jealous of the favour that the King showed to Bova, called to him thirty young fellows and said: “My friends, you see that this rascal Anhusei has deceived our King and the Princess Drushnevna, and, turning their favour from us, drives us from their presence. Come with me into the stable where he sleeps; let us put him to death, and I will reward you with gold and silver, with jewels and fine clothes.” When Orlop had told his plan, one of the thirty answered: “We are not strong enough to slay Anhusei in his sleep; should he awake he would kill us all. A better plan would be for one of us to lie in the King”s bed, whilst he is out at the chase, to summon Anhusei, and give him a letter to the Tsar Saltan Saltanovich desiring him to put Anhusei to death.”

When the Chamberlain Orlop heard this he leaped for joy, embraced the fellow who had given this wicked advice, and rewarded him more than the rest. And when the letter was prepared, Orlop went and lay down in the King”s bed, called Bova to him, and said: “Do me a service, Anhusei; take this letter and give it to the Tsar Saltan with your own hand. On your return I will reward you in any way you may desire.” Bova, who was half asleep, did not discover the cheat, but took the letter, went out and saddled a good horse, and rode off to the kingdom of the Tsar Saltan.

Bova rode for two months, until he came to a desert, where there was neither river, brook, nor fountain, and grew sore athirst. At length he met a pilgrim, who had a leather bottle full of water, and he begged him for a draught to quench his thirst. The old man secretly put a sleeping powder into the water and gave it to Bova; but hardly had he drunk it than it took effect, and he fell from his horse and slept like one dead. Then the old man took the battle sword, mounted the horse and rode off, leaving Bova alone and unarmed in the midst of the desert.

Bova slept on for ten days; and when he awoke and saw that his steed, his sword, and battle-axe were all gone he wept bitterly and said to himself: “It seems that I am doomed to lose my life in this service, and that King Sensibri has sent me to Tsar Saltan only to meet death in return for my fidelity.” Then he went his way on foot, and his head hung lower than his shoulders.

When Bova Korolevich appeared before the Tsar Saltan he bowed to the ground, handed him the letter and said: “Long life to you, gracious lord and Tsar Saltan Saltanovich! I am sent by King Sensibri to your Majesty to bring news of his health, to enquire after yours, and to deliver to your Majesty this letter.” Then Saltan took the letter, broke the seal, and after reading it exclaimed aloud: “Where are my valiant knights, my faithful servants and warriors? Seize this messenger from King Sensibri, and lead him to the gallows, for he has slain my dear son and destroyed our mighty army.”

Thereupon sixty of Saltan”s knights rode forth, surrounded Bova, and led him into the open fields to hang him. On the way Bova bethought him how he could have deserved such a shameful death, and to lose his life in the flower of his days. “Better had it been,” said he, “if my mother had killed me in the city of Anton, or if I had been slain by Marcobrun”s nobles or by Lukoper in the field.” And with that he rose up, overthrew all the sixty knights, and fled out of the kingdom.

When the Tsar Saltan heard this, he instantly commanded the trumpets to sound, and collected his knights to the number of a hundred thousand, pursued Bova Korolevich, and surrounded him on all sides. Bova had neither a good steed, a sharp sword, nor a steel lance–he had nothing with which to defend himself. Then he seized one of Saltan”s warriors, and began to fight with him; but he saw that he could not slay them all, and gave himself up prisoner. So they seized him, bound his hands, and led him before Saltan Saltanovich. As soon as the Tsar saw Bova he ordered the hangman to be fetched, to hang him.

Just then the Tsar”s daughter, the fair Princess Miliheria, fell on her knees before her father and said: “My gracious lord and father, do not let Bova be hung, but allow me to speak; his death will not bring either my brother or your army to life again. Rather grant him his life, turn him to our faith, and make him the successor to your throne. Then will he be a defence in war to your old age.”

The Tsar answered: “My dear daughter, Miliheria, you comfort me with your tender words and wise advice; I give Bova into your hands, and if he embraces our faith he shall be my successor and your husband, and I will resign to him all my cities and villages, my treasures of gold and jewels.”

The Tsar”s daughter made her obeisance to her father, left the hall, and ordered Bova to be brought before her. Then she endeavoured with gentle speech to persuade him to adopt her faith; but Bova answered that neither for the whole kingdom, nor all the treasures of gold and jewels, would he consent to change his faith.

Then Miliheria commanded Bova to be led to prison, and the entrance to be stopped up with sand, and that he should have no food nor drink for five days. At the end of this time she put on a gold-embroidered dress, adorned with jewels, and went to the prison. Then she ordered the sand to be removed, and the door to be opened, and, going in, she said to Bova: “Now, young fellow, have you considered the matter? Will you change your faith, and live, and rule over my father”s kingdom, or have you not yet overcome your obstinacy and will rather end your life on gallows?”

“Never, as long as I live, will I deny my faith,” answered Bova, “nor abandon it for yours. Tempt me not in vain with cunning words and promises; I will rather suffer death than be a despicable man.”

The Princess Miliheria was very angry at Bova”s answer; she went instantly to her father and said: “My lord and father, I confess to you my wrong in having interceded for the life of this unbelieving prisoner, in the hope of converting him to our faith, and making him a good subject of your Majesty. But now I see his obstinacy and hard heart, I no longer plead for him, but give him back into your hands; do with him as you will.” And so saying she went out.

Saltan Saltanovich, on hearing this, called to him thirty bold knights, and sent them to Bova”s prison; but when they came thither they could not remove the sand from the door as the Tsar”s daughter, in her anger, had heaped up too much; and they thought of taking off the roof and dragging Bova out. Then Bova Korolevich was sad at heart, and said, weeping: “Alas, I am the most unfortunate of men! I have neither sword nor battl



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