Good and evil
Centuries ago, there was an old man before. He was very poor because he had nothing in this world except for his wife and a moldy donkey. He collected logs in the forest, sold them at the fair, and supported himself, his wife and donkey from it.
Once he was wading through the sands when he suddenly saw two winds, white and black, that almost reached the sky. The poor man came closer to look at them more closely, and here the white wind turns into a viper. The white viper crawls up to him and says in a human voice:
- Old man! I can change into whatever I want. I'm about to become a needle, and you quickly put me in your pocket. The black viper is my bitter enemy. When she flies past you, take the needle out of your pocket and I will grant your every wish.
The old man agreed to help the fugitive.
- By the white viper, by the black viper, let me become a needle - said the white viper spell and immediately turned into a needle.
The old man picked it up quickly and put it in his pocket. And here a black wind flies to him, turns into a snake and asks:
- Hey, old man! Was there a white viper?
No, said the poor man.
- Just tell the truth, because you will be bad! She hissed menacingly.
The old man waved his hand and said to be free of her:
"I don't know what it was, but there was a white wind there."
The black viper instantly turned into a black whirlwind and gave chase.
The old man takes out the needle and says:
- Your enemy is already gone.
The needle became a snake again.
- Oh, savior, ask for whatever you want.
- I don't need anything. Or maybe - let the wood load itself onto the donkey, and let the donkey walk in front of me so that I do not have to rush it.
- By the white viper, by the black viper, let the old man's wish come true! the white viper ordered.
And actually. The trees loaded themselves onto the donkey, and the donkey was merrily and briskly patting its hoofs and trotted home.
As they entered the city, they met the Tsarevna; she sat in a white palanquin * on the back of a camel. Seeing the donkey, which was jogging ahead of its master without haste, the tsarevna ordered her servants to stop the old man and said to him:
- You can see that this donkey was studying. Tell me, old man, who trained him like that?
- And who are you? The poor man asked.
"I am the Tsar's daughter," she replied.
- If so, I won't. You're not gonna like my answer and you're gonna have me hanged.
"Answer without fear," said the Tsarevna.
- Well. If you want, know that hunger taught him that.
Carewna continued on, but the spies informed the tsar:
- Your daughter talked to the old man who trades in jokes.
The tsar was cruelly angry and ordered the poor man to be seized. They dragged
old man to the palace, and the tsar, without even considering the matter, ordered:
"Give this wicked one twenty lashes and drive him out of the city!"
The tormentors of the old man were smashed, they let the hut in smoke, and he and the old woman were driven out of the city.
The poor people wander through the sands, weep over their cruel fate, until a white viper appears before them.
- Old man, what happened to you?
- The tsar ordered me to be beaten and chased out of the city. Build me a palace. Let it be made of marble, and on its four towers let the golden roosters cringe, 'the old man asked.
- By the white viper, by the black viper, let the old man's wish come true, ordered the white viper.
And a marble palace grew up in the desert, and the old man and his wife lived in it, rejoicing greatly.
One day the tsar went hunting and saw a marble palace in the sands.
"Go and seize those who have dared to build a palace for themselves without my consent, and set it up before me." And if he refuses, bring me his head.
With a menacing hum and the crunch of armor, the tsarist servants approached the marble palace. The white viper appears in front of the old man and asks:
- What should I do with them?
"You know better," he replied.
- The white viper, the black viper, with the consent of the old man, let these knights return to the tsarist rooms.
As she said, so it happened. The tsarist servants tumbled back to the tsar's face in his imperial chambers, and the commander of the guard whimpers miserably:
- God, keep from such an enemy! Do not fight him, my chap! We haven't even seen him, and here's what happened to us.
- Frejacks! The tsar got angry and hit the commander of the guard with kulaks. And then, accompanied by the vizier, he set off for the marble palace.
The old man saw them walking and said to the white viper:
- Here is the tsar with the vizier.
- What should I do with them? Asked the white viper.
"You know better," replied the old man.
- By the white viper, by the black viper, with the consent of the old man, let the tsar turn into a donkey and the vizier into a donkey. And let them run around the marble palace seven times, roaring like donkeys.
And in an instant the tsar and vizier turned into donkeys and started running around the palace with a roar.
The old man's wife was baking bread at that time. While the donkeys were running past her, the old woman, not knowing that it was the tsar with the vizier, treated them with a stick. And the donkeys circled the palace seven times and stopped.
- By the white viper, by the black viper, become yourselves with the consent of the old man! the white viper ordered.
And donkeys turned into vizier and tsar.
- O venerable white snake! - asked the old man - give them the most modest food and let them wander the earth from now on, nowhere finding shelter, as they wanted it for others. Let them feel for themselves what is good and what is bad.
* Palanquin - a covered litter used as a means of transport, especially in India and China.