A Goat Tale

Last year, Mom wrote a book about goats. It includes paraphrased fairy tales and folk stories including our favorite, "Alyonushka and Ivanushka.”

by Martok
Photo by Sue Weaver
My favorite goat fairy tale is “Alyonushka and Ivanushka.” What’s yours?

Last year, Mom wrote a book about goats. It includes paraphrased fairy tales and folk stories including our favorite, “Alyonushka and Ivanushka.” There wasn’t enough room for it in the book, so here it is. Do you have a favorite goat story? If you do, tell me about it!

Alyonushka and Ivanushka
Long ago in old Russia, there lived an orphan girl named Alyonushka and her little brother, Ivanushka. One day, they set off together to see the wide world and find some work. On and on they went, the sun shone brightly and they became thirsty, but there was no well in sight.

They had been walking for many hours when they came upon a cow’s hoof print filled with water. “May I drink from it, Alyonushka?” Ivanushka asked his sister.

“No, or you will turn into a calf,” Alyonushka told him. Ivanushka was very thirsty but he obeyed.

They walked on and on. It was so hot they soon felt very thirsty, indeed. Then they came upon a horse’s hoof print filled with water and Ivanushka said, “May I drink out of the hoof print, Alyonushka?”

“No,” she said. “If you do, you will turn into a foal.” Ivanushka sighed and they walked on again.

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They walked and walked and became so thirsty they felt they might die. Then they came upon a goat’s hoof filled with water. “Please,” Ivanushka begged, “Let me drink from this hoof print, Alyonushka.”

“No!” she said. “If you do, you will turn into a kid.” But Ivanushka didn’t listen to his sister. He fell behind and drank out of the goat’s hoof print. And the moment he did, he turned into a little white goat.

Alyonushka called her brother and the little goat came running to her side. Alyonushka burst into tears. She sat sobbing on the ground while the little goat skipped around her.

At that moment a merchant chanced to ride by. “What are you crying for, pretty miss?” he asked. Alyonushka told him.

Said the merchant, “Marry me, and the little goat shall live in our home.”

Alyonushka thought it over and agreed to marry the merchant. They lived most happily. The little goat lived with them and ate and drank with Alyonushka out of the same cup.

Word of the strange but happy family reached an evil sorceress who wanted to taste the happiness of others. One day while the merchant was away, she appeared at Alyonushka’s door. She spoke sweetly and lured Alyonushka to the riverbank, where she fell upon the girl. She tied a heavy stone around her neck and shoved Alyonushka into the water. After that, she took on Alyonushka’s form and not even the merchant guessed who she was.

Only Ivanushka knew what happened to his sister. The little goat moped about and wouldn’t touch food or drink. He never left the riverbank and standing at the water’s edge, he called:

“Sister, dear Alyonushka! Swim out, swim out to me.”

The evil sorceress overheard him and vowed that the little goat must die. “Have the goat killed,” she said to the merchant. “I’m tired of him.”

The merchant felt sorry for the little goat. He knew how much his wife had loved him, but the sorceress nagged at him to kill the goat until he gave in at last.

When Ivanushka learned he hadn’t long to live, he begged the merchant to let him go to the river for one last drink of water. Ivanushka hurried to the riverbank and cried out:

“Alyonushka, swim out to me! Fires are kindled, water is boiling, I am going to die.”

Alyonushka could do nothing! She called from the riverbed:

“Ivanushka, dear Ivanushka! I cannot come to you. A heavy stone presses down on me. Silken weeds entangle my legs.”

When the fire was hot and the water was boiling, the sorceress sent a servant to fetch the little goat. The servant went to the riverbank and heard Ivanushka cry out to Alyonushka and heard her reply. The servant ran home and told the merchant what he overheard.

The merchant raced to the river and dove in. He found Alyonushka and took the stone from around her neck.

The little goat was wild with joy. He was so happy to see his sister that he turned three somersaults and was changed back into a little boy!

The merchant sent the evil sorceress far, far away, and the merchant, Alyonushka and Ivanushka lived happily ever after.

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