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A Very Old Fairy Tale: Part 2

Article by Vyacheslav Checkanov

And thus about a week or a fortnight went. The Old Woman became still more stupid than she had been previously and sent the Old Man to the Little Golden Fish again: ‘Will you kindly return and bow to the Little Golden Fish. I don’t want to be a noble lady, but most ardently desire to live in grand style in careless abundance, so that they to make a fuss of me as a sovereign queen!’ The Old Man was afraid and implored her: ‘Ah me, wife, you will drive me mad. Have you taken leave of your senses? How crazy can you get? No, do you really think it is feasible? You have neither an imposing bearing nor any correct articulation and will make the laughing-stock of yourself for the whole kingdom!’ The Old Woman got more angry and out of spite splendidly fetched him a box on the ear, a whole skin of his cheek had been terribly burnt. And then like out of the frying-pan into the fire: ‘That’s the limit! What impudence! Bite your tongue and shut your mouth! How dare you, fisherman, contradict me? I’m a lady! Let me give you some advice, keep your breath to cool your porridge, do you hear, I’ll thank you not to argue with me and to split hairs. There’s one thing more, blockhead, that I must tell you. You are not attending at all. Listen, rogue, to me when I speak. There’s no standing still. So you’d better go to the sea while the going’s good. Also, mind you don’t put your foot in it and make a real mess of things. Take care of playing square, or else, it’s quite likely you’ll have to go against your will’.

The Old Man went to the sea, the blue sea became black. He began calling the Little Golden Fish, it came swimming to him and asked: ‘Hail, my dear old fellow, what do you want? Can I be of service to you? Just say the word, I’m ready to do whatever you wish!’ The Old Man bowed low and answered it restlessly: ‘Your Excellency Lord Fish, have mercy! Pardon and help us! Would you mind doing a great favor? My old woman is in a white rage again, she doesn’t want to be a noble lady any longer, but desires to be a sovereign queen’. The Little Golden Fish said to him nicely in reply: ‘Don’t worry, be happy! You may well rest assured. The Old Woman shall be a queen. Cheer up, go and may God help you!’

In the next place the Old Man came back home. Well, and what was all that? Little he dreamt such a thing was possible. The powerful impregnable walls of a king’s castle there rose before his astonished eyes. In the castle he saw his old woman, she sat on the throne in the state-room as a queen. The dukes and the earls richly dressed in smart clothes regarded it high honor to serve her. They poured with much consideration good foreign wine into her goblet. Imagine that, Great Scott, the Old Woman was given to the bottle! She drank wine as a fish and tasted a piece of the gilt sweet honey gingerbread after it. The redoubtable able-bodied black-bearded bodyguard with halberds stood around swaggering in a prodigious number. They held their formidable arms over their square broad shoulders. When the Old Man had seen them he was so highly frightened that he bowed down to the very ground before his old woman: ‘How goes it, my terrible queen? Well, I see you’re doing fine! I wonder now whether you can be feeling inclined to sing delirious with delight?’ But the Old Woman didn’t even bat an eyelid and give him so much as a glance. In fact, she merely bade to get him directly taken out of her sight. Here straight away at short notice a whole crowd of nobles came tearing up. They caught the Old Man by the scruff of the neck and chucked him exultantly out. Then in the passage the bodyguard ran rapidly up and very nearly killed him with their sharp halberds. After a while in the market-place the common folk jeered and sneered and had a fling and a tilt at him: ‘It serves you right, old lout! Next time you, boor, shall keep your distance! The cobbler must stick to his last!’

And thus about a month or two passed. The Old Woman lost definitely her reason and became unusually crazy. She sent her courtiers out for her husband. They found the Old Man and brought him around to her. Here quite unexpectedly the Old Man let himself go and behaved with complete abandon. You’ve got to hand it him for dauntless courage, because he rose above himself on tiptoes, even if that’s not the way to behave to a queen. Without a moment’s hesitation he had the nerve to put her a question: ‘Well, and what the deuce are you wanting this time, I wonder?’ Yet the Old Woman contrived to take him down a peg and to bring him to heel, she hit with her fist on the table and wagged her finger at him. Then she said sheer nonsense to the Old Man’s face: ‘What a load of old cobblers! That’s rich. Don’t pull my leg and talk at random and out of turn. I have a bone to pick with you. Let’s be frank. Most certainly, hangdog, this is your last chance. Don’t throw it away. Now then, blackguard, return at once and bow to the Little Golden Fish. And out mind be quick about it! I don’t want to be a sovereign queen, but my only cherished hope is to steal the show, the matter allows of no delay: I have felt a desire to be Mistress of the Seas and to live in the boundless ocean, so that the very Little Golden Fish should serve me and run on my indispensable errands’.

‘But why should I? Not bloody likely! I won’t hear of it and entertain such a foolish idea. Now you bit more than you can chew’, the Old Man thought to himself. Still he didn’t venture on to contradict her and dare to argue her out of this course of action. For, if you know what I mean-it’s plain as the nose on your face, the Old Woman being mad with rage, knitting badly her brows nailed the Old Man thoroughly down and he only shook obstinately his head in silence. He did go then to the sea and beheld: the blue sea was raging like hell! The storm-clouds spread themselves over the sky. There were huge angry waves heaving and a strong fierce gale raving and howling. No ship could live in such a rough sea. He began calling the Little Golden Fish, it came swimming to him and asked: ‘Hail, my dear old fellow, well met! What can I do for you? Just say the word, I shall arrange all things as you wish and like’. Bowing low the Old Man answered it restlessly: ‘Please help us and have mercy on us, your Excellency! Would you render a good grace? What the mischief am I to do with this awful scold of wife? She doesn’t want to be a sovereign queen any longer, but it’s her sole and exclusive desire to be Mistress of the Seas and to live in the boundless ocean, so that you, Lord Fish, should bow to her whims, dance attendance upon her and rush on her wild errands. I would be very, very grateful, if you would. I should never forget your kindness’. Nevertheless the Little Golden Fish said absolutely nothing in reply. Only splashing with its tail of irradiant scales on the water it silently dived into the deep blue sea. Right away the storm had calmed down as quick as a flash of lightning. In vain on the shore of the sea on his bended knees after that quite a while the Old Man had been patiently waiting for answer till he couldn’t wait any longer! ‘Oh well, that’s, so to speak, that then. It seems to me that my good luck is played out. Well, I never. Just go ahead. It can’t be that hard. And even if it were so, why should I care! What I’ve got to do with it? But after all, it’s not the end of the world and then from me all like water off a duck’s back. It is as it is. Come what may. Let it be. Things are working round in my favor. All is fish that comes in my net. Well, actually anything may happen, but all the same it will turn out well somehow’, in long run he said to himself and pretending that nothing was wrong he went back to his old woman. And now, what the blazes? Lo and behold! Funky shit, it made his flesh creep and took his breath away. The tears rose to his eyes. Drops of sweat stood on his forehead. At last he spat and burst out laughing: ‘Oh, my! Ye gods and little fishes! Well, to be sure! Fine goings on!’ And what did all this mean? Their miserable earth-house was there before him again, the Old Woman upset utterly down, supporting her chin on the palm of her hand, sat lost in reverie on the threshold ( ‘They always say: there’s no justice in the world. But there’s no one in the beyond! I can see that with the utmost clarity, just as if it were a common scale’) and the exact same split wash-tub, pretty kettle of fish and a rather dirty trick of fortune, lay just in front of her as far as the arm could reach. Well, my dear friends, and what the dickens one can say to that? It stands to reason: the morning sun never lasts a day!

Although as a matter of fact the fairy-tale might well be a lie, yet it contains a suggestion of truth which can serve some lesson for the youth. When you’re smiling and do anything with pleasure, you obtain your peace and freedom; if you fly into a passion, will you please take your leave of indulgence of your destiny.

Even if it takes an old hand to do a good job, however, the wisest of the wise may err! What does it matter? Well, actually anything may happen ( keep well, God grant you health and peace to the world, I don’t know how but it works ). Let it go! Take it in your stride. Don’t do more than you can help. Let well alone. While there is a life, there is a hope. Don’t bother. It won’t do any good to complain. You might as well bang your head against a brick wall. Mind your business, sit still. We’ll see what we’ll see. So far, so good. Let things take their course. That will do, as it is for the time being. Rivet your attention on that: when you look for perfection, you will never be satisfied. It’s no use crying over spilt milk. Good riddance! All isn’t so as it appears, everything is as it should be. Do not make a mountain out of a molehill! Be glad of what you get and don’t grieve about what you haven’t. Lord is alive and also your soul does. The life is but a span and all we need is Love! Yet what more do we need? We need calm and confidence. Wherever may you be far and wide always consider yourself in your element. Take it easy. Who can tell? Why not? We must forgive and forget. By giving up a little, we gain a lot. Don’t set yourself up over another and put another not above yourself. Let’s come down to earth, not all is absurd that you cannot understand: make light of yourself and still be aware of your worth ( the fish is small, but the ocean’s great ). Let it be, trust in luck: all is well in this the best of the worlds; but if it doesn’t fit, the shop will change it for another size. Rest easy, keep simple and cool. Remember your death, don’t tremble for your bum. There’s no another choice but to valiantly fight. Go ahead with courage so that to rest oneself. Put up a good show and may the best man win. Honor and freedom are above of all, therefore on the road to your aim, if it comes to the crunch ( in for a penny, in for a pound ) crush the enemy without hesitation. Only that democracy is worth of something, which is capable to be protected. To be survival is not enough! The dead lions as they say are not ashamed ( live free or die ). But never mind! To the greater glory of Lord we’re sure to break through and will come out with flying colors. Just take off-hand your course quite unconcerned. Sink or swim. Suit yourself, it’s up to you. He that forecasts all perils will never sail the sea. Turn over a new leaf, that’s the first day of the rest of your life. Every cloud has a silver lining. Take all responsibility for your life upon yourself. Make a virtue of necessity. The trees grow even on the rocks. Everything can be turned into your favor. Any wares have their buyers. ( If they’re marketed in the right way, they’ll sell very well. ) Some things in life take time, so don’t give up too soon trying. All comes to the one who is able to wait. The more you sweat in training, the less you’ll bleed in battle. Look what kindness can do ( one stare is worth a thousand words ): when you’re smiling, the world smiles at you and things are getting on swimmingly ( to live in agreement with oneself, to be in harmony with the world ). Take care of an instant and eternity shall take care of itself. Trust, persistence and work will result in success, the secret here is really simple enough: to all that you do one ought to concern with soul and heart!

Oh how many smart words, whose sense I understand not thoroughly or they are clear to me not perfectly. In vain I endeavor to substitute by means of them reality. After all, it is virtually not feasible.


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