A Dead Man's Tale

A man was riding at night with pots; he rode and rode, and his horse got tired and stopped just in front of the cemetery.

The man unhitched his horse, let it ride on the grass, and lay down on one grave, but he could not sleep. He was lying down, suddenly the grave started to dissolve under him, he felt it and jumped up.

The dead man with a coffin lid and a white shroud came out of the grave; he ran to the church, put the lid on, and went into the village.

The man was a brave man; he took the coffin lid and stood by his cart, waiting to see what would happen.

A little later the dead man came, and wanted to take the lid, but it was gone; he followed the trail, reached the man and said:

- Give me back my lid, or I'll tear it to shreds!

- What's the axe for? - replies the man. - I'll chop you into little pieces myself!

- Give it back, good man!

- The dead man asks him.

- I'll give it back when you tell me: where were you and what did you do?

- I was in the village; I killed two young lads there.

- Tell me now: how can you bring them back to life? A dead man will tell you:

- Cut off the left half of my shroud and take it with you; when you come to the house where the lads were drowned, pour hot coals into a pot and put a scrap of the shroud there, and shut the door; the smoke will bring them back to life.

The man cut off the left side of the shroud and handed over the coffin lid.

The dead man came to the grave - the grave dissolved; began to sink into it - suddenly the roosters cried out, and he did not have time to close as necessary: one end of the lid was outside.

The man saw it all, noticed it all. It began to dawn; he saddled his horse and rode into the village.

He hears crying and shouting in one house; he goes in - there are two boys lying dead.

- Don't cry! I can revive them.

- Come back to life, my dear; we will give you half of our goods, - said the relatives.

The man did everything as the dead man taught him, and the lads came to life.

The relatives were happy, but they grabbed the man at once, and tied him with ropes. We'll take you to the authorities; if you were able to revive him, you must have drowned him!

- What are you, orthodox!

Fear God! -The man shouted and told everything that had happened to him during the night.

They found the grave the dead man was leaving, dug it up and drove a stake through his heart to prevent him from getting up again and killing people. The man was handsomely rewarded and sent home with honour.

A soldier was released on leave to his homeland; so he walked and walked, whether long or short, and began to approach his village.

Near to village lived the miller on mill; in former time the soldier had a great acquaintance with it; why not to drop in to the buddy? He went in; the miller greeted him kindly, brought him some wine and began to drink and talk about his life. It was the evening before the miller's house, and it had already fallen dark. The soldier was about to leave for the village, and the owner said:

- Soldier, stay overnight at my place; it's too late now, and you may be in trouble!

- Why so?

- God has punished! A terrible sorcerer has died here; he rises from his grave at night, wanders the village and does deeds that frighten the bravest! I wish he'd bother you too!

- Nothing! A soldier is a civil servant, and civil servants do not sink in water or burn in fire; I will go, I want to see my family as soon as possible.

He set off, and the road led past the cemetery. He saw a light on one grave.

- What is it? Let me have a look.

He approached, and a sorcerer was sitting by the fire, shovelling boots.

- Hello, brother! - The servant shouted to him. The sorcerer looked at him and asked:

- Why have you come here?

- I wanted to see what you were doing.

The sorcerer left his work and calls the soldier to the wedding:

- Come, brother, let's go out - there's a wedding in the village!

- Let's go!

They came to the wedding, and they started drinking and treating them in every way. The sorcerer drank and drank, strolled and strolled, and became angry; he drove all the guests and families out of the house, put the bridal couple to sleep, took out two bottles and an awl, wounded the bride and groom's hands with the awl, and drew their blood. Made oto and said to the soldier:

- Now let's get out of here.

So they went. On the road the soldier asks:

- Tell me, what did you put the blood in the vials for?

- For the bride and groom to die; no one will wake them tomorrow! I alone know how to revive them.

- How?

- The bride and groom's heels must be cut open, and blood must be poured into the wounds - each of them with his own blood: I have the bride and groom's blood in my right pocket and the bride's in the left.

The soldier listened without saying a word, but the sorcerer kept boasting:

- I will do as I please, he says!

- As if you cannot be dealt with?

- How? If one were to gather a hundred carts of aspen firewood and burn me on it, then maybe he would be able to cope with me! But you have to burn me skilfully; then snakes, worms, and various creepers will fly out of my womb, and crows, magpies, and magpies will fly in; you have to catch them and throw them into the fire: if one worm escapes, then nothing will help! In that worm I shall slip away!

The soldier listened and remembered.

They talked and talked and finally reached the grave.

- Well, brother," said the sorcerer, "now I will tear you; or you will tell everything.

- Come, come to your senses. How shall I be torn? I serve God and my sovereign.

The sorcerer gnashed his teeth, howled, and rushed at the soldier, who drew his sword and began beating him furiously.

They fought and fought, and the soldier was almost worn out; he thought he was lost for nothing!

Suddenly the roosters crowed - the sorcerer fell down breathless. The soldier took vials of blood from his pockets and went to his kinsmen.

He came, said hello, and his kin asked:

- Have you not seen, my soldier, any alarm?

- No, I have not.

- That's just it! There's trouble in our village: A sorcerer has turned up.

They talked and went to bed; in the morning the soldier woke up and began to ask:

- They say you are having a wedding somewhere? The relatives replied:

- There was a wedding at a rich man's house, only both the bride and groom died this night, and no one knows why.

- And where does this man live?

They showed him a house, and without saying a word he went there and found the whole family in tears.

- What are you grieving about?

- So and so, servant!

- I can revive your young ones, what will you give me?

- I don't care if you take half the estate!

The soldier did as the sorcerer had taught him and brought the young men to life; instead of weeping, joy and merriment began.

The soldier was both treated and rewarded.

He went around to the left and march to the mayor; he ordered him to gather the peasants and prepare a hundred carts of aspen firewood.

They brought the wood to the cemetery, heaped it up, pulled the Sorcerer out of the grave, put him on the fire, and lit it, while other people surrounded the village - all with brooms, spades, and pokers. The fire poured out in flames, and the sorcerer began to burn; his womb burst, and snakes, worms and various creepers crawled out of there, and crows, magpies and birds flew out; the men beat them and threw into the fire, not a worm was allowed to escape. And so the sorcerer was burned! A soldier immediately gathered up his ashes and scattered them in the wind.

Since then, the village has been quiet; the peasants thanked the soldier in peace; he stayed at home, had a good time, and returned to the Tsar's service with money. He served his time, retired and began to live happily ever after, to make good things happen, and to get rid of bad things.

The soldier asked to go on leave, to visit his native land and parents, and departed. He walked for a day, another day, and on the third he wandered into a dense forest. Where was there to spend the night? When he saw two huts standing at the edge of the forest, he went into the last one and found an old woman at home.

- Hello, Granny!

- Hello, servant boy!

- Let me sleep the night away.

- Go ahead, but you'll be restless here.

- What? Is it cramped?

Grandma, it's all right. A soldier needs a little space. I'll lie down somewhere, but not in the yard!

- Not so, soldier! You've come to sin...

- What sin?

- Here's a sin: an old man, a great sorcerer, recently died in a neighboring house, and now every night he roams through other people's houses and eats people.

- Granny, God will not give you away, nor will a pig eat you. The soldier undressed, had supper, and went to the cot; he lay down to rest, and laid his cleaver beside himself. At twelve o'clock sharp, all the locks fell down and all the doors opened; a dead man in a white shroud enters the house and rushes at the old woman.

- You cursed one, why did you come here?

- The soldier shouted at him.

The sorcerer left the old woman, jumped on the floorboard and started to fight with the soldier. He cut and chopped him with the hatchet, he smashed all his fingers in his hands, but he still can't get better. They clashed firmly and both fell to the floor from the floorboards; the sorcerer got under, and the soldier got on top; the soldier grabbed him by the beard and was spoiling him with the cleaver until the roosters began to sing. At that very minute the sorcerer became dead; he lay there, not moving, as if he were a block of wood.

The soldier dragged him out into the yard and threw him into the well - head down, feet up. Look: the sorcerer had nice new boots on his feet, nailed and tarred! "Oh, what a pity, they will be wasted for nothing, - thought the soldier, - let me take them off!" He took off the dead man's boots and returned to the hut.

- Oh, father," says the old woman, "why did you take off his boots?

- Well, why did you leave them on him? Look at those boots! He'll give a ruble for a silver coin to anybody who doesn't want them, and I'm a man of the field, they'll come in great use to me!

The next day the soldier bade farewell to his mistress and departed. At exactly twelve o'clock every night, the sorcerer comes to his window, demanding his boots.

- I will never leave you alone; I will go all the way with you; I will not let you rest at home, I will torture you at work!

The soldier could not stand it:

- What the devil do you want?

- Give me my boots! The soldier threw his boots through the window:

- Here, get off me, unclean force! The sorcerer picked up his boots, whistled, and was out of sight.

In the olden days, there were two young lads in a village; they lived together as friends, and respected one another as their brother. They made the following pact among themselves: which of them will marry first, he will invite his comrade to the wedding; whether he will live, whether he will die - it is all the same.

A year later one young man fell ill and died, and a few months later his friend decided to get married.

He gathered his kinsmen together and rode after the bride.

They happened to go by the cemetery; the groom remembered his friend, remembered the old agreement, and ordered the horses to stop.

- I will go to my friend's grave, he said, and ask him to come to my wedding; he was my true friend!

He went to the grave and began to call:

- Dear comrade! Please come to my wedding. Suddenly the grave dissolved, the dead man stood up and said:

- Thank you, brother, for keeping your promise! Come to me for joy; we'll have a glass of sweet wine together.

- I would, but the train is standing and people are waiting. The dead man answers:

- Oh, brother, it won't take long to drink a glass. The bridegroom went down to the grave; the dead man poured him a cup of wine, he drank, and a hundred years passed.

- Drink, sweetheart, another cup!

Drank another - two hundred years have passed.

- Well, my friend, drink the third and go with God, play your wedding!

Drink the third cup and three hundred years have passed. The dead man bade farewell to his companion; the coffin was closed, the grave was leveled. The bridegroom looks; where there was a cemetery, there is no road, no kinsmen, no horses, nettles and tall grass grow everywhere. He ran to the village, and the village was no longer the same: the houses were different, and all the people were unfamiliar.

He went to the priest - and the priest was not the same, he told him what had happened.

The priest looked it up in books, and found that three hundred years ago there was such a case: on his wedding day the bridegroom went to the cemetery and disappeared, and his bride later married another man.

There was a husband and wife in one village, they lived merrily, harmoniously, lovingly; all their neighbors envied them, and good people, looking at them, rejoiced. The landlady grew heavy, gave birth to a son, and died in childbirth.

The poor peasant wept and cried. He was devastated about his baby - how could he nurse and bring him up without his mother? He hired an old woman to take care of him.

But what is this parable? The baby does not eat during the day, always screams, there is nothing to console him; and when night comes - as if he does not exist, quietly and peacefully sleeps.

- Why so? - thinks the old woman.

- Let me stay up all night and see if I can find out.

Just at midnight she heard someone open the door quietly and come to the cradle; the baby was quiet, as if suckling.

The next night and the third, the same thing again.

She began to tell the man about it; he gathered his relatives and began to give advice. So they decided not to sleep one night and to peep: who is it that walks and feeds the child?

In the evening, they all settled down on the floor, put a lighted candle in their heads, and covered it with a clay pot.

At midnight, the door to the house opened, and someone came to the cradle - and the baby fell asleep. At that time one of the relatives suddenly opened the candle - they looked: the dead mother in the very dress she was buried in, kneeling, bending over the cradle, and feeding the child with her dead breast.

As soon as the hut lighted up, she immediately got up, looked sadly at her baby, and left quietly, without saying a word to anyone. Everyone who saw her turned to stone, and the baby was found dead.


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