What happens to the queen if a wicked witch lure her into the garden and into a pool, and turn into a white duck, herself taking the queen’s own form and place? Listen to this Russian folk tale audio book in Russian and English languages. Read it along with a corresponding side-by-side e-book.


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Женился один князь на прекрасной княжне и не успел еще на нее наглядеться, не успел с нею наговориться, не успел ее наслушаться, а уж надо было им расставаться, предстояло ему в дальний путь собираться, покидать жену на чужих руках. Что делать! Как говориться, век обнявшись не просидеть.
There was once a prince who married a most beautiful princess, but he had not yet had time to feast his eyes on her to his heart’s content or to have enough time of talking and listening to her when the time came for them to part, for he had to go on a long journey. What was to be done! It is said that you cannot spend your life in em-braces.

Много слѐз пролила княгиня, много князь ее утешал, да наказ дал не покидать терема, беседы не заваживать, с дурным людом не ватажиться, худых разговоров не слушаться. Обещала княгиня мужу, наказ его не забывать, да всѐ как велит исполнить. Князь уехал. Заперлась княгиня в своих покоях и не выходит.
The princess wept and the prince, who kept begging her not to, bade her, since he was leaving her with strang-ers, never to leave her chambers, to avoid the company of wicked people and to close her ears to wicked talk. The princess promised to do that, and as soon as the prince had gone, she locked herself in her chamber.

И пришла к ней однажды женщина, показалось княгине она простой и душевной!
One day a woman, who seemed a sim-ple and kind soul, came to see the princess.

– Что, – говорит, – ты скучаешь? Хоть бы на Божий свет поглядела, хоть бы по саду прогуливалась, тоску разгоняла.
– Why are you bored? Why don’t you at least go out for a walk in the garden and have a breath of fresh air?

Долго княгиня противилась, идти не хотела, наконец поразмыслила: по саду походить не беда – и пошла. В саду ключевая вода хрусталем разливается.
At first the princess would not hear of it, but then, telling herself that a walk in the garden could do her no harm, she went outside. The fresh springs were running in the garden

– Что, – говорит женщина, – день такой жаркий, солнце палит, а водица студеная так и плещет, так и льется, не искупаться ли нам в ней?
– It’s a very hot today, – the woman said – and the water is nice and cool. So why don’t you take a dip?

– Нет, нет, не хочу! – А потом поразмыслила: искупаться, ведь беды не случится!
– No, no, I can’t do that! – the princess said, but then thought what bad can happen if she swims.

Сняла сарафанчик и нырнула в водицу. Лишь окунулась княгиня, как ударила ее по спине женщина.
She took off her gown and stepped into the water. As she dived into the water the woman at once struck her on the back saying:

– Плыви ты, – говорит, – белою уточкой!
– Be a white duck and swim in the wa-ter!

И поплыла княгиня белою уточкой.
And the princess turned into a white duck.

Ведьма, которой была эта женщина, тотчас в платье еѐ нарядилася, убралась, прихорошилась и присела князя ждет.
After that the witch, for that was what the woman was. took the princess’s shape, put on the princess’s gown, combed her hair, painted her cheeks and brows and sat down to wait for the prince.

Только щенок тявкнул, колокольчик звякнул, а она уж бежит навстречу, бросилась к князю, целует, милует. Он обрадовался, сам руки протянул, ничего не заподозрил.
By and by a pup yelped, a bell tinkled, and there was the prince at the gate! The witch rushed out to meet him, she embraced and kissed him, and the prince, who was overcome with joy, pressed her to his heart and did not suspect anything.

А белая уточка снесла яичек, родила деточек: двух хороших да удалых, а третьего – заморыша. Она их вырастила, стали они по реченьке ходить, злату рыбку ловить, лоскутики собирать, кафтанчики сшивать, да выскакивать на бережок, да глядеть на лужок.
And as for the white duck, she laid three eggs, and out of them three ba-bies were hatched, three boys, two of them fine, sturdy little lads, and the third, a tiny little thing. Their mother took good care of them and they grew quickly and were soon splashing about and catching fish, which now became their favorite dish, jumping out on the bank for a look at the lea, a place which they found very pleasant to see, and were nothing loath to make shirts of cloth.

– Ох, не ходите туда, дети! – говорила мать. А дети не слушали; нынче поиграют на травке, завтра побегают по муравке, дальше, дальше – и забрались на княжий двор.
– Don’t go far, children! – the mother said. But the three boys would not lis-ten to her and with each passing day went farther away. One day they wan-dered even farther away than usual and found themselves in the prince’s courtyard.

Ведьма чутьем их узнала, зубами застучала. Позвала она деточек, накормила-напоила и спать уложила, а там велела огня разложить, навесить котлы и ножи заточить. Легли два братца и уснули; а заморыша, чтоб не застудить, приказала им мать в пазушке носить, – заморышек-то и не спит, все слышит, все видит.
The witch knew at once who they were and gnashed her teeth in anger. She got them to come inside, gave them food and drink and put them to bed, and then ordered fires to be kindled, kettles to be hung and knives sharp-ened. The two bigger lads lay down and fell fast asleep, but the third, the tiny one, whom one or the other of them kept always in his bosom lest he catch cold, did not sleep and saw and heard everything.

Ночью ведьма пришла под дверь и спрашивает:
In the middle of the night the witch came to the door of their chamber and called:

– Спите вы, детки, иль нет?
– Are you asleep, my little ones?

А заморышек отвечает:
And Tiny called back:

– Мы спим – не спим, думу думаем, что хотят нас всех поизвести; огни кладут калиновые, котлы кипят каленые, ножи точат булатные!
– We cannot sleep for the thoughts that chill us; We dare not sleep, for they mean to kill us- Fires are being kin-dled. Kettles are being hung, Knives are being sharpened

– Не спят!
– They’re not asleep!

Ведьма ушла, походила-походила и опять под дверь:
She went away, took a walk and then came back to the door of their cham-ber again.

– Спите, детки, или нет?
– Are you asleep, my little ones?

Заморышек опять отвечает:
But Tiny replied again:

– Мы спим – не спим, думу думаем, что хотят нас всех поизвести; огни кладут калиновые, котлы кипят каленые, ножи точат булатные!
– We cannot sleep for the thoughts that chill us; We dare not sleep, for they mean to kill us. Fires are being kin-dled, Kettles are being hung, Knives are being sharpened!

“Что же это все один голос?” – подумала ведьма, отворила дверь потихоньку, видит: спят братья крепким сном, тотчас обвела их мертвой рукой – и они померли.
“Why is it that one and the same voice answers me?” – thought the witch. She opened the door quietly, and, seeing that the two brothers were sound asleep, passed a dead man’s hand cut off at the wrist over them so that they might never wake.

Поутру белая уточка зовет деток; не идут детки. Зачуяло ее сердце, встрепенулась она и полетела на княжий двор. На княжьем дворе, белы как платочки, холодны как пласточки, лежат два братца рядышком. Кинулась она к ним, бросилась, крылышки распустила, деточек обхватила и материнским голосом завопила:
In the morning the white duck called to her children, but they did not reply, and her heart told her that evil had be-fallen them. She flew to the prince’s court-yard, and there were her sons, their faces white as snow and their bodies cold as ice, lying side by side. She rushed to them, her wings out-spread, and called out in a human voice:

– Кря, кря, мои деточки
Кря, кря, голубяточки,
Я нуждой вас выхаживала,
Я слезой вас выпаивала,
Темну ночь недосыпала,
Сладок кус недоедала.
– Quack-quack, my sons,
Quack-quack, my beloved ones.
In want I reared you,
With tears I suckled you,
You slept — I lay sleepless.
You ate — I went hungry.

– Жена, слышишь небывалое? Утка приговаривает.
– Did you ever hear the like, wife? The duck is speaking in a human voice.

– Это тебе чудится! Велите утку со двора прогнать!
– It only seems so to you. Ho there, all! Drive the duck out of the yard!

Ее прогонят, она облетит да опять к своим деткам:
The servants chased the duck away, but it flew round and round and dropped down beside her children again.

– Кря, кря, мои деточки. Кря, кря, голубяточки.
Погубила вас ведьма злючая, Ведьма старая, змея лютая,
Змея лютая, подколодная.
Отняла у вас отца р0дного, Отца родного – моего мужа,
Потопила нас в быстрой реченьке, Обратила нас в белых уточек,
А сама живет – величается.
– Quack-quack, my sons. Quack-quack, my beloved ones!
The witch it was that put you to sleep, The witch it was with her wicked ways,
For a snake is she and a deadly one.
From you she took your father own, Your father own and my own dear spouse;
She drowned us all in the river swift, She turned us all into white-winged ducks,
And herself she lives like a princess true!

“Эге!” – подумал князь и крикнул: – Словите мне белую уточку! Бросились все, а белая уточка летает, никому не дается; выбежал князь сам, она к нему на руки и пала. Взял он ее за крылышко и говорит:
“Ah, so that is the truth of it!” thought the prince, and he called to his ser-vants telling them to catch the duck. They rushed to do his bidding, but the duck flew round and round and would not be caught. But when the prince went after her himself she came down of her own free will and dropped into his hands. He took her by the wing and said:

– Стань белая береза у меня позади, а красная девица впереди!
– Rise behind me, a white birch! Stand before me, a fair maid!

Белая береза вытянулась у него позади, а красная девица стала впереди, и в красной девице князь узнал свою молодую княгиню.
And a white birch rose behind him and a fair maid stood in front of him, and she was none other but his own dear wife.

Тотчас отловили сороку, подвязали ей два пузырька, наказали в один набрать воды живящей, в другой – говорящей. Сорока быстро обернулась, принесла воды.
They then caught a magpie, and, tying two phials to its wings, bade it fill one with living water and the other with talking water. Away flew the magpie and was soon back with the living and the talking water.

Сбрызнули деток живящею водою – они проснулись, сбрызнули говорящею к ним речь вернулась.
They sprinkled their sons with the liv-ing water, and the lads started and came back to life; they sprinkled them with the talking water, and they began talking and laughing.

И стала с тех пор у князя семья целая, и стали все жить-поживать, добро наживать, худое забывать.
And so now the prince has his whole family with him, and they never had cause to shed a tear and prospered the more from year to year. Never more to return was the evil past, and they could be happy together at last.

А ведьму к лошадиному хвосту привязали, размыкали по полю: где оторвалась нога – там стала кочерга; где рука – там грабли; где голова – там куст да колода. Налетели птицы – мясо поклевали, поднялись ветры – кости разметали, и не осталось от колдуньи ни следа, ни памяти!
And as for the witch, she was tied to a horse’s tail and the horse sent across a field. Where the witch’s leg came off, there a poker appeared; where her arm was severed, there lay a rake; where her head rolled down, there a burdock grew up. The birds came flying up, and they pecked the flesh; the winds swept up, and they bore off the bones. And nothing was left of the wicked witch, neither trace nor word nor memory.

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