The Golden Antlered Deer is a tale written by the famous Ukrainian writer Dmitro Pavlychko.
In a certain kingdom there lived a shepherd named Vasilko. He was an orphan because his father was killed by the King and his mother died from grief. Everyday Vasilko tended a herd of sheep in the green, sunlit meadows and glades. When he played his pipe, forest animals and birds gathered nearby to listen to his enchanting, wonderful tunes. One hot, sunny day, Vasilko left the herd in the meadow and went to the forest brook to quench his thirst. Suddenly he heard a strange rustling and concealed himself in bushes. A wonderful golden antlered deer with his doe came to the brook.
The doe said, "I can't stay with you anymore. People like gold and everyone would be more than glad to possess your golden antlers. They will chase after you. I'm very afraid of hunters."
"You know, I hate my golden antlers--they're the reason of all my misfortunes. I can't get rid of them. It's my destiny to hide; I'm doomed to loneliness. Go your own way!" replied the golden antlered deer.
The doe went away and the deer began to cry bitterly. Vasilko was very sorry for the deer and decided to help it. He came up to the deer, embraced it and said, "Don't cry, deer, this apprehensive doe doesn't deserve your tears. Come with me and be my friend. I will smear your antlers with mud and nobody will see their golden brilliance. And you can help me tend the herd."
The deer agreed and they became bosom-friends. They tended the herd in the green meadows all summer and were happy. But soon they had to part. Autumn came and Vasilko had to return to his village for the winter. The boy asked the deer to come with him but the deer refused. So they arranged to meet again next spring in the place where they had parted.
The winter came and covered the cold ground with snow. The deer was very lonely. Everyday it remembered Vasilko and his wonderful pipe playing. The deer had nothing to eat and was ready to barter its golden antlers for ordinary hay. In despair it decided to go to the village. It knocked on the first house and bartered its golden antlers for a haystack. The peasant who got the golden antlers promised to keep their meeting a secret, but he was so happy at his good fortune that told his wife about the wonderful deer, who told the secret to all their relatives. Soon the news reached the wicked and greedy King.
The King declared a hunt for the golden antlered deer. His servants rushed into the house of the peasant who had acquired the golden antlers in exchange for hay, seized the antlers and compelled the peasant to show the secret place in the forest where the haystack was hidden. Soon the deer was caught. The King locked the deer in the cage and began to mint gold coins made from the golden antlers. He caressed the deer and fed it to its heart's content, but the deer was unhappy in captivity.
With the help of the wonderful deer the King improved the financial situation in the kingdom and was very happy. Soon he issued the following edict. "I'm very kind and love the people of my kingdom. Only a good king may possess such riches as I possess. I like animals very much and I am on friendly terms with the deer. I love it so much that I will execute anyone who may dare to touch it."
Having heard this edict, Vasilko understood that his friend had got into trouble and decided to help him. He went to the King's palace, sat nearby and began to play his pipe. The tune was so wonderful that the King ordered the boy to be brought before him. "Your music is enchanting, Vasilko! You shall be my court musician," ordered the King.
Everyday Vasilko played his pipe and secretly tried to find the golden antlered deer. One day he asked the King's servants, "Please, show me the wonderful deer, I want to see it very much."
"We'll fulfill your request, on one condition--we'll blind you after this meeting. Nobody should know where the deer is hidden." The boy agreed. Having entered the room he whispered, "I'm here my dear friend. Destroy the cage! They won't dare to touch you. The King has promised to execute everyone who may dare to touch you."
The deer destroyed the cage and scattered all the servants who dared to try and catch it. Vasilko jumped on the deer's back and they left the palace immediately. They fled the kingdom to find their happiness and have never parted since.