Prince Ivan and the grey wolf set out in search of the horse with the golden mane. Where will their adventure lead them?
The grey wolf took Ivan to the fortress of Tsar Kusman who owned the horse with the golden mane. “The horse is in the stable and the guards are asleep. Just go and get the horse as quickly as you can,” instructed the wolf when they reached the gates. “But never, repeat, never touch the bridle!”
Ivan scaled the gates and made his way to the stable. The horse with the golden mane was there and the Prince had no difficulty in leading him out. It was then that he noticed the bridle hanging inside. He gasped. It was pure gold and set with precious stones.
A horse must have a bridle, thought he, as he touched the bridle. All at once there were trumpets blaring, bells clanging and drums beating. The sleeping guards awoke and caught the intruder.
He was produced before Tsar Kusman who was surprised that the horse thief was a prince. “Why, even a peasant would not do such a thing! How low can you stoop?” he asked. “Please forgive me... it was foolish of me…” began Ivan but the Tsar cut him short.
“I will let you keep that horse... provided you do something for me. There is in the neighbouring kingdom ruled by Tsar Dalmat a beautiful princess named Yelena. She is his daughter. Bring her to me and this horse shall be yours.”
Dejected, Prince Ivan returned to the grey wolf who shook his head disapprovingly. “Why don’t you learn to listen to me? Come, let’s go now to look for this princess. This time, however, you must listen to me.”
Before long they were at the castle of Tsar Dalmat. “We don’t want any more follies,” said the wolf. “You wait outside this time. In fact, retrace your steps. I’ll get the princess and join you shortly.” And the grey wolf entered the castle and hid behind some bushes in the garden. Very soon Princess Yelena came for a walk and as she passed the bush the wolf sprang up from behind and swiftly carried her away on his back. He raced through the forest and soon caught up with Ivan who was walking back. “Quick, Ivan! Climb on to my back too… Tsar Dalmat’s men will soon be looking for us!” cried the grey wolf. And with both Yelena and Ivan on his back the wolf raced through the path to Tsar Kusman’s fortress.
“Why do you look so sad, Prince Ivan?” asked the wolf when they reached their destination. “I have fallen in love with the beautiful Yelena and she with me. How can I part from her now?” asked Ivan.
The grey wolf sighed. “Don’t worry. You don’t have to part. Let’s hide her in this forest and go in on our own. I’ll find a way.” So Elena hid in a cave nearby while the other two made their way to the fortress. The grey wolf was a shape shifter and was transformed into a beautiful maiden.” Here she is Tsar Kusman, Princess Yelena as you asked,” said Ivan presenting the fake maiden to the Tsar. The unsuspecting Tsar gave him the golden horse and began preparations for his own wedding with the “Princess”.
“You must stay for the wedding,” he told the Prince but Ivan made his excuses and left. He found Yelena in the cave and together they left on the golden horse. When the night came after the wedding festivities had ended, the Tsar entered his bedchamber where he was startled to see a big grey wolf seated on the bed! A frightened Tsar rushed out screaming while the wolf quietly jumped out of the window and soon joined Ivan and Yelena.
“Now I must give this golden horse to the Tsar,” said Ivan sadly, “and I have no horse to take me home with the Princess.”
“Oh, you keep the horse. I’ll do something about this, don’t worry,” said the grey wolf.
“You are most kind, grey wolf... I don’t know how I will thank you,” Ivan hugged the wolf.
“Go on, hide the Princess and the horse in the blue forest. We’ll then go meet Tsar Afron and get the fire bird from him,” said the wolf.
To be continued….