Once upon a time in some kingdom there lived a tsar. He had many servants and different masters: gunsmiths, goldsmiths, joiners, potters, tailors, carpenters, builders, cooks and many others. The tsar liked to wear fashionable clothes and boots. His tableware was adorned with beautiful drawings and patterns; his palace was decorated with whimsical carving.
In the morning all the court masters gathered in the yard to find out what new task the tsar had invented for them to fulfill.
One day a joiner collided with a goldsmith at the threshold of the tsar’s palace and started disputing which of them was the best in his profession and whose job was harder.
The goldsmith said:
“Your trade isn’t serious. You make your handicrafts out of wood whereas I make my handicrafts out of gold.”
The joiner retorted him:
“It isn’t difficult to make an expensive handicraft if you work with gold that costs much. Try to make a handicraft out of plain wood that will gladden people’s hearts! If you manage to do it I will believe that you really a skilful master!”
The masters were arguing for a long time till the tsar appeared in the yard. The tsar heard their conversation, grinned and ordered:
“Each of you must make me a wonder. The goldsmith will make me a wonder out of gold, and the joiner will make me a wonder out of wood! I will check your work and decide which of you is the best! The errand must be carried out in a week!”
Nobody could dare to argue with the tsar and the masters went to fulfill the tsar’s order. In a week they returned in the palace and started waiting for the tsar. Each of them carried a package.
The tsar came in and exclaimed, giggling by stealth:
“So, the masters, show me your talents!”
Then he ordered to call his wife and his young son to look at the wonders. The tsar and his wife sat on the bench and the tsarevich stood nearby. The goldsmith stepped ahead and said:
“Your Majesty! Order to bring a big tub filled with water!”
The servants carried the big tub and filled it with water. The goldsmith untied his package, pulled out the golden duck and put it on the water. The golden duck started swimming, quacking, and cleaning its feathers as if it was living.
The tsar was open-mouthed with astonishment and the tsaritsa exclaimed:
“This duck is living, it isn’t artificial! The goldsmith has covered the living duck with golden dust!”
The goldsmith offended and said:
“This duck is artificial! It is made out of gold! I can disassemble it and assemble it again!”
The goldsmith took out the golden duck out of the tab, and unscrewed its wings and its head. Then he unscrewed the duck into details and assembled it again. Soon the duck was put on the water and it again started swimming, quaking and turning its head.
All the court circle began clapping their hands being delighted with the duck and the tsar exclaimed:
“You’ve really made a wonder! I’ve never seen anything like it!”
Then he turned round and addressed to the joiner:
“Now, its your turn to show me your art!”
The joiner bowed low to the tsar and said:
“Your Majesty! Order to open the window in this chamber!”
The servants opened the window. The joiner unwrapped his package and pulled out a wooden eagle from there. The wooden eagle was so skillfully cut out of wood that it was impossible to distinguish it from a living one.
“The golden duck is able to swim, and my eagle is able to fly!” exclaimed the joiner and saddled the eagle. As soon as he turned a screw on the eagle’s head, the bird raised in the air and flew away out of the tsar’s chamber. All people who were in the chamber rushed to the windows. Having looked out of the windows, they opened their mouths being greatly surprised. The joiner was hovering over the tsar’s yard, sitting on the wooden eagle. When he turned the screw to the left, the eagle started rising up in the air. When he turned the screw to the right, the eagle started descending. The tsar, his wife and son and all the court circle were standing motionless, staring at the wonderful bird. Nobody had never seen such an art!
Soon the joiner flew back to the tsar’s chamber and addressed to the tsar:
“Do you like my wooden eagle?”
“I like your eagle very much! replied the tsar. “I’ve never seen anything like it! How have you managed to make it?”
The joiner began explaining the tsar the secrets of the eagle’s making. Meanwhile the tsarevich saddled the wooden eagle, turned the screw and flew out of the tsar’s chamber through the wide window.
“Come back!” cried the tsar and his wife. “Where are you going? You may fall down!”
The tsarevich waved goodbye to his parents and flew over the tsar’s yard and the silver palace. Then he turned the screw to the left and the eagle raised high in the skies and disappeared behind the clouds.
The tsar was angry with the joiner and said:
“You’ve invented your wooden eagle purposely! You’ve planned to kill my only son! Guard, seize him and throw into the dungeon! If my son doesn’t return I will order to hang the joiner.”
The guard seized the joiner and threw him into the dark dungeon.
Meanwhile the Tsarevich flew far from his native kingdom. He was flying over the dark woods, wide fields, high mountains and blue rivers In the evening he flew to the unknown kingdom and descended near a ramshackle hut. He knocked at the door. An old woman opened the door.
“Let me stay in your hut for the night, grandmother!” said the Tsarevich.
“Come in! answered the old woman. “I live alone, there is enough room in my hut!”
The Tsarevich disassembled the eagle, wrapped it in paper and came into the hut. The old woman served supper. While eating his supper, the Tsarevich began inquiring the old woman about the town, its citizens and last news.
“There is a wonder in our kingdom,” said the old woman. “There is the tsar’s palace in the middle of our kingdom and there is a high tower near the palace. In this tower the beautiful maiden is locked. She is the daughter of our tsar. The tower is guarded by thirty watchmen. Nobody is allowed to come into this tower. The tsar and his wife don’t want their beloved daughter marry a young Tsarevich and leave them. She is their only child.”
“Is the tsarevna really beautiful?” asked the Tsarevich.
“I don’t know, my son,” replied the old woman. “I haven’t seen her, but people say she is the most beautiful maiden in our kingdom!”
The tsarevich wished to look at the tsarevna. Next day he assembled the wooden eagle, saddled it and flew to the forbidden tower. Flying up to the very top of the tower, he knocked at the window. The tsarevna was very surprised when she saw the handsome young man sitting on the wooden eagle. She opened the window and the eagle flew into the room. The tsarevich greeted the maiden and told her about himself. They fell in love with each other and the tsarevich proposed marriage to the maiden.
“I want to be your wife,” answered the maiden. “But I am afraid my parents won’t allow me to marry you!”
The wicked nanny who guarded the Tsarevna overheard their conversation and reported the tsar that the stranger had flown to the Tsarevna. The tsar’s servants found out that the Tsarevich lived in the old woman’s hut, seized him and dragged to the palace.
“How have you dared to break the tsar’s law and penetrate into the tower? Tomorrow you will be put to death!” said the incensed tsar, shaking his fist at the Tsarevich.
The tsar’s servants threw the tsarevich into the dungeon. In the morning the tsar, his wife and all citizens of the kingdom gathered in the square to look at the Tsarevich’s death penalty. The Tsarevich mounted the scaffold and suddenly said:
“Your Majesty! Can you fulfil my last wish?”
The tsar frowned but couldn’t refuse him.
“Order your servants to go to the old woman’s hut and bring me my paper package!” asked the tsarevich.
The tsar’s messenger ran to the old woman’s hut and soon returned with the paper package. The tsarevich unwrapped the package, pulled out the wooden eagle, saddled it and flew away. The tsar, his wife and all people gave a gasp.
“Seize him!” cried the tsar, but the servants couldn’t reach the tsarevich as he managed to rise high in the sky.
Meanwhile the tsarevich directed the wooden eagle to the tower, flew up to the familiar window, grasped the tsarevna by the arm and offered her to seat on the eagle. The eagle carried them to the kingdom of tsarevich.
The tsarevich introduced the tsarevna to his parents and told everything that had happened to him. The tsar and his wife were so glad that they forgave his son’s prank and released the joiner from the dungeon. The tsar arranged a sumptuous feast in honor of his son’s marriage. All people of the kingdom were celebrating the wedding for three months.