In a certain kingdom there lived an unmarried king who possessed a whole company of riflemen who supplied the king with game-bird. Fedot the Rifleman served in this company. He was the best rifleman in the company and the king loved him very much.
One day Fedot the Rifleman went shooting. He entered the depths of the forest and noticed a turtledove sitting peacefully on the tree. Fedot aimed his gun at the bird and fired at it. The wounded turtledove fell on the ground. Andrey raised it and was already going to wring its neck, but suddenly the bird said in a human voice: "Don't kill me! Take me home, put me on the windowsill, strike me with your right hand as soon as I begin to doze and you will find your happiness."
Fedot the Rifleman was very surprised; he had never come across birds speaking like people. Fedot came back home, put the turtledove on the windowsill and began waiting for subsequent events. Some time later the bird put its head under its wing and began to doze. Fedot remembered all its instructions and struck the turtledove with his right hand. The bird fell on the ground and turned into a beautiful girl. The beauty said: "Let's marry; I will be a faithful and merry wife!" They married and lived happily till their troubles began.
Once the wife said: "You work for days on end, but your profession isn't profitable. I know how to earn a great deal of money. Go to the market and buy different silk cloths. I will improve the situation." Fedot the Rifleman went to his friends and borrowed 200 rubles, bought silk and brought it to his wife. The wife said: "Fedot, don't worry and go to sleep."
When Fedot fell asleep, the wife entered the porch and opened her magic book. At that moment two giants appeared and exclaimed: "What do you want from us?"
"Take this silk and make a marvelous carpet for me. The whole kingdom must be displayed on this carpet including towns, villages, forests, fields, rivers, birds flying in the sky, animals in the mountains, fish in the sea, the moon and the sun." In ten minutes the giants finished the work, gave the marvelous carpet to the wife and disappeared at once.
In the morning the wife gave the carpet to Fedot and said: "Bring this carpet to the market and sell it to the merchants. Don't quote your price, take whatever money that people will give you and come back." Fedot took the carpet, hung it on his hand and went to the market. Many people wanted to buy the carpet in the market, but nobody could quote a price, because they had never seen anything of this kind. The Court Commandant who accidentally was strolling nearby noticed a crowd of merchants and squeezed through it.
"Where have you found this splendid carpet?" asked the Commandant.
"My wife has woven it" Fedot the Rifleman replied.
"How much is it?"
"I don't know, my wife forbade me to bargain." The Commandant gave Fedot ten thousands rubles, took the carpet and went to the palace. At dinner the Commandant showed the carpet to the king. The king looked at it and said: "Do everything you want but I won't give you back this carpet! It is marvelous!" The king gave the Commandant twenty five thousand rubles and hung the carpet in the palace.
The Commandant thought: "Never mind! I will order a new one." He went to the village where Fedot the Rifleman lived, found his house and knocked at the door. Fedot's wife opened the door. The Commandant had never seen such a beautiful maiden; he stood motionless and couldn't even say a word. He could hardly regain consciousness and returned to the palace. Since that time the Commandant couldn't eat and drink; he always thought about Fedot's wife. The king noticed that the Commandant was in a dismal mood and asked him: "What has happened with you?"
"Oh, Your Majesty, I've seen Fedot's wife and since that time I can't help thinking of her. She is the most beautiful girl I've ever seen!" replied the Commandant. The king was very thrilled with this confession and decided to look at Fedot's wife by himself. He thought to himself: "I am unmarried; if this maiden is really beautiful, I will marry her!" Having visited Fedot's wife, the king returned to the palace with a steady purpose to get rid of Fedot and marry his wife. He called the Commandant and said: "Think out how I can rid of Fedot the Rifleman. I want to marry his wife. If you help me I will endow you richly. If you don't solve my problem, I will execute you."
The Commandant grew sad because he couldn't devise how do away with the rifleman. He decided to go to the forest and find Baba Yaga who could help him. He reached a tumbledown hut standing on chicken legs and saw Baba Yaga sitting near the hut. The Commandant said: "Baba Yaga, you are my friend. Please, help me to get rid of Fedot the Rifleman. I will pay you a good sum."
"Fedot is a plain lad but his wife is very sly. We will propose Fedot a very difficult riddle to solve. There is an island situated in the middle of the sea in the furthest kingdom. A magic golden antlered deer lives in this island. Fedot will have to carry this deer to the king. Let the king collect a team of seafarers. These seafarers must be the most confirmed drunkards. Then the king should build a ramshackle, putrid ship. It takes three years to get the island and three years to come back. The ship will serve a month and then it will go down together with Fedot and all sailors!" offered Baba Yaga.
The Commandant thanked Baba Yaga, awarded her richly with gold and silver and returned to the palace.
Having heard the riddle the king ordered to build a ramshackle ship and find the most confirmed drunkards among sailors. Then he called Fedot and ordered: "Fedot, you are my best rifleman. Go to the furthest kingdom, find the island where the golden antlered deer lives and carry it to me!"
Fedot came back home in a bad mood. His wife asked him: "Fedot, why are you so sad?" Fedot told his wife everything that had happened with him. The wife calmed Fedot: "Don't be so sad! It's easy to solve this riddle. Go to bed, in the morning this service will be performed!" She entered the porch and opened her magic book. At that moment two giants appeared and exclaimed: "What do you want from us?"
"Go to the furthest kingdom, find the island where the golden antlered deer lives and carry it to me!" commanded the wife. The giants dashed to the furthest kingdom, found the island, caught the golden antlered deer and returned to the rifleman's yard by the morning with the deer. The wife woke up Fedot and said: "Look! The golden antlered deer is walking on your yard. Take it on board of the ship. Sail for five days and then come back!"
It was time for Fedot to sail away. Many people including the king gathered in the square to bid farewell to Fedot. Fedot and the team of sailors came on board and the ship unmoored. Five days passed and the rifleman rolled out a big barrel of wine on the deck and said to sailors: "You may drink wine as much as you want." The drunkards rushed to the barrel and got drunk. Fedot took the rudder, turned the ship to the bank and sailed back. As soon as the sailors grew sober the rifleman offered them another barrel of wine to drink. So, the sailors didn't understand that they were sailing in the opposite direction.
In eleven days the ship moored to the landing stage and guns began to fire. The king heard the firing and became very angry. "How can you dare to return prematurely?" asked the king.
"I've fulfilled your order. Here is the golden antlered deer" replied Fedot. The king hid his anger, thanked the rifleman and let him go home. Next day the king called the Commandant and said: "Are you laughing at me? Why couldn't you devise a more difficult way of exterminating Fedot? Invent something else otherwise I will execute you!"
The Commandant went to the forest where he met Baba Yaga. "I know your problems, Fedot has brought the golden antlered deer. I can help you again" offered Baba Yaga. "Please, help!" beseeched the Commandant. "Offer Fedot the following riddle: "Go to the unknown land and bring something that nobody has ever seen. Fedot won't be able to solve this riddle." said Baba Yaga. The Commandant thanked Baba Yaga, returned to the palace and proposed the king the new riddle.
The king called Fedot at once and said: "You've carried out my order well, but I have another task for you to perform. Go to the unknown land and bring something that nobody has ever seen. Otherwise I will execute you." Fedot came back home in low spirits. His wife asked him:
"What's the matter? What has happened?"
"The King has ordered me to go to some unknown land to bring something that nobody has ever seen." replied Fedot.
"It will be difficult to perform this service. Go to bed, I will try to devise something" said the wife and opened her magic book as soon as Fedot fell asleep. Two giants appeared immediately and exclaimed: "What do you want from us?"
"Do you know where the unknown land is situated and where it's possible to find something that nobody has ever seen?" the wife asked them.
"No, we don't know!" was the reply.
The next morning the wife equipped Fedot for his journey, giving him a ball of yarn and a towel. "This ball will be moving and showing you way. Remember this thing: wherever you'll be, wipe your face with this towel." Fedot said goodbye to his wife and began his journey.
Some time later the king called the Commandant and said: "Fedot has departed. It will take him eighteen years to get to the furthest kingdom and come back. I gave him a lot of money. Robbers may attack and kill him on the way. It's high time to marry his wife. Go to the village and bring her to the palace!" The Commandant fulfilled the order and brought Fedot's wife to the palace. The king said to her: "Do you want to be a queen? I want to marry you!" The girl said nothing, fell on the ground, turned into the turtledove and flew away.
Meantime Fedot the Rifleman passed many kingdoms and different lands. The ball stopped near a splendid palace. Three beautiful maidens met Fedot and invited him into the palace. They fed him and put him to bed. When he woke up the maidens brought him a wash-basin and a towel. Fedot refused to take their towel and said that he had his own. The maidens looked at the Fedot's towel and gasped with surprise. "It's our sister's towel. She has embroidered it with silk!" they exclaimed.
"Your daughter is my wife" said the rifleman. The maidens called their mother and she began to question Fedot. He began to tell her about his life and said what riddle the king had proposed to him.
The old woman entered the porch, cried something in a loud voice and at that moment different beasts and birds gathered near the palace. "Do you know where the unknown land is situated and where it's possible to find something that nobody has ever seen?" she asked them.
"No, we don't know," came the reply. Then the old woman opened her magic book and two giants appeared at once.
"Carry me to the middle of the ocean," she ordered. The giants carried her to the middle of the ocean. The old woman cried something in a loud voice again. Different fish and sea reptiles swam to her. "Do you know where the unknown land is situated and where it's possible to find something that nobody has ever seen?" she asked them.
"No, we don't know," was the reply.
Suddenly an old frog croaked and said: "I know how to help you. I know where the unknown land is situated!"
The old woman took the frog and ordered the giants to carry her home. Then the old woman began to question the frog and received the following reply: "I'm very old and can't walk by myself. I'll show you the way if you put me in a pot of milk and deliver me to the Fiery River." Fedot the Rifleman put the frog in the pot of milk, thanked the old woman and her daughters and continued his journey.
Some time passed and they reached the Fiery River. The frog began to swell up and turned into an enormous frog. It jumped and carried Fedot in the opposite bank of the river and became small again. "Follow this path and you will come to the cave where you can find something that nobody has ever seen." said the old frog.
Fedot came to the mountain, entered it and hid himself behind a big stone. Some time later two old men came and said: "Shmat-Rasum, we want to eat!" At that moment different food appeared on the table. The old men finished their supper and said: "Shmat-Rasum, clear the table!" At that moment plates and dishes disappeared and the old men left the cave.
Fedot the Rifleman was very surprised. He sat at the table and repeated the old men's words: "Shmat-Rasum, I want to eat!" At that moment different food appeared on the table. "Shmat-Rasum, sit at the table and eat with me!" offered Fedot.
"Thank you very much. Nobody has never offered me to eat," answered Shmat-Rasum. The food began to disappear of its own accord from the table.
"Can you show yourself?" asked Fedot.
"No, I can't. Nobody can see me. I am something that nobody has ever seen." Fedot inquired of Shmat-Rasum: "Would you like to serve me?"
"You are very kind. I will serve you with pleasure." was the answer.
Fedot left the cave and found the old frog. It jumped and carried the rifleman to the opposite bank of the river. Then Fedot put the frog in the pot of milk again and went back. Arriving at the palace, the rifleman ordered Shmat-Rasum to feed the old woman and her daughters. The old frog was awarded with three big jars of milk. Then Fedot started out for his kingdom. He walked and walked and became very tired.
"Oh, if could find myself in my native kingdom at once, without walking" exclaimed he.
"Why haven't you said it to me earlier?" said Shmat-Rasum. At that moment a whirlwind raised Fedot high in the skies. He flew over the ground; forests, mountains, towns and villages were flashing beneath.
The rifleman was very tired and Shmat-Rasum offered him: "Let's rest! I can build a gold gazebo in the middle of the sea." Fedot agreed and in ten minutes an island appeared on the sea and sometime later a beautiful gold gazebo appeared.
Then Shmat-Rasum said: "Three merchant ships will arrive here soon. They will show you three wonders. Exchange me for these wonders and don't be afraid, I will come back to you." The prediction came true and soon Fedot saw three merchant ships sailing to the island. Fedot met the merchants and invited them to eat supper. "Who has made this supper? Who has cooked these delicious dishes?" asked the merchants.
"My servant, Shmat-Rasum, has made this supper," replied Fedot the Rifleman.
"Who has built this wonderful gold palace?" the merchant continued their asking.
"My servant, Shmat-Rasum, has built this palace for the night," answered Fedot.
The merchants offered Fedot to exchange Shmat-Rasum for three wonders. The first wonder was the magic cudgel that could beat people by itself. The second one was the magic axe that could build ships. The third one was the magic pipe that by means of its melody an army appeared. Fedot agreed and exchanged his servant for these wonders. Shortly after he exclaimed: "Shmat-Rasum where are you?"
"I am here," replied Shmat-Rasum.
"Carry me to my kingdom," ordered Fedot.
Having arrived to the kingdom the rifleman went home. On the way home Fedot met the turtledove that turned into his wife. She said: "The king has burnt our house to ashes and tried to compel me to marry him.
Fedot the Rifleman exclaimed: "Shat-Rasum, are you here? Build a palace!" At that moment a wonderful palace surrounded with a splendid park appeared. Fedot the Rifleman and his wife settled in this palace and lived happily.
The king found out that Fedot came back and built a palace in his kingdom. He was infuriated and declared war on the rifleman. Fedot noticed the king's army coming to his palace and took his three wonders. He seized the magic axe and at that moment the axe built one hundred ships. Then he took the magic pipe, blew it and at that moment an army including cavalry and infantry appeared. The rifleman's army defeated the king's army. The king was very frightened and decided to run away. Fedot grasped the magic cudgel and ordered it beat the king. The cudgel began beating the king and killed him.
Some time passed. The people of that kingdom gathered and asked Fedot the Rifleman to be their king. Fedot agreed, arranged a great feast and ruled that kingdom justly till his death.