Believe it or not, once there lived soldier Fedot, and this is the tale of the daring fellow. He was neither handsome nor a fright, neither wealthy nor hard up, neither ragged nor dressed up, neither pale nor ruddy-faced, he was so-so, quite commonplace. Fedot's mission was hunting and fishing. The Tsar had fish and game, Fedot had thanks, and that was his gain. The Tsar's palace was crammed with travellers. One was a Greek, another Hawaiian, a third was a Swede, and they all needed a feed! One wanted lobsters, another wanted oysters, a third wanted a prawn while the catcher was only one.
One day Fedot was ordered to come to the court. The Tsar was the shrimp of a man, his head like a little onion, while his malice could fill the whole palace. He looked at Fedot as if to say: "I can't stomach you anyway".
Out of dread Fedot turned wet, his ears started ringing, his guts gave way, and here's the beginning of the tale, so to say
The British envoy has come for
Our refreshment after night before,
While we only have to eat
Stale bread, a bone... and that's it!
You must go and bring some food,
Something special, something good,
Say, a partridge, or a grouse
Or whatever, from the wood.
If you can't do that, my dear,
I shall have to execute you, hear?
It's a matter of importance,
A state affair, is it clear?
Yes, of course, I understand,
I'm wise enough for that,
A stupid bumpkin I'm not,
And I do know what is what.
Well, as far as I can see,
I make all the policy,
If I fail to shoot a grouse,
There will be a war on us.
To content the British guest
I shall do my double best,
Even at the cost of life
I'll procure some food-stuff.
The Tsar's word is as firm as wood: if he says: "go bear hunting", you will go bear hunting. What else can you do? You just have to! Fedot had covered the ground of a hundred of woods and bogs around. Alas, there was neither a partridge nor a grouse! He was all in, dog-tired, and it was almost night. He had nothing in the bag, yet it was time to go back. Suddenly, as if in a vision, he saw a bird, a little wood-pigeon. It didn't try to hide showing no sign of fright.
What affliction! What a shame!
There isn't any trace of game.
Pr'haps that's the bird I have to shoot,
It's at least some kind of food!
They say pigeon meat is bad,
I should not agree with that,
When you have it with a sauce
It's like a grouse, or not worse.
Please, don't hurt me, dear Fedot,
It's quite worthless, is it not?
Just one bird is not enough
For a dish or pillow stuff.
Your foreigner might like to eat
Some kind of very special meat,
Whereas my meat's just enough
To make a wild cat laugh.
Is the goblin somewhere here?
Are these tricks of the evening air?
Is there anything the matter
With my eyes or with my ear?
Has the Tsar decreed
Should now speak
Like human beings?
Don't do wrong to me, Fedot,
Take me home, and you know what:
When you bring me to your chamber
I shall be your destined lot!
I shall sew and wash and cook,
Never give you a rebuke,
I shall keep the house clean,
And I'll play the violin!
What a story, what a gag!
All right, get into my bag,
When we get home I'll find out
What this trick is all about!
Fedot brought the bird to his room and sat there hanging his head, filled with gloom. He was really sad, and there was a reason for that. His game hunt hadn't come off, and it was no joke -- the Tsar would chop off his head right off. So he sat in grief taking his leave with the whole wide world. He remembered the vision of the little wood-pigeon. He looked up and, instead of the bird, he saw a young woman in the middle of the room, a maid full of splendour, so gracious, so slender!
Hello, Fedya, from now on
You and I will get along,
I'm Marusya, your good wife,
Or should I say, your better half.
Why are you silent? Have you got
A bone or something in your throat?
Maybe, you don't like my head-dress,
Or, maybe, you dislike my coat?
There is nothing I won't do
To admire you and be with you,
But I don't think that I can
Marry you and be your man.
See, this morning I was called
To the Tsar, and I was told
To get, you know' a sort of a grouse
'nd bring it to the Royal house.
Though it's not a hunting season
With the Tsar it's hard to reason,
Then I thought, all right, a grouse
Is not a bison, so it's easy.
I have tramped the woods all day
But was out of luck today:
There was not a single game bird,
Nothing good came in my way.
So there isn't any chance
That I go out for a dance,
When I see the Tsar tomorrow
He'll chop of"my head at once.
Without my head... , well, I don't think
That I'm good for anything,
For it's my mind that makes the meaning
And the essence of my being!
Now, don't worry, don't complain!
You will have the meals and game.
Stand before me, Frol and Tit,
Get immediately what we need!
(Marusya claps her hands, and two burly fellows appear in front of her.)
Do you hear what I say?
Go and do it without delay.
You don't have to doubt us,
We have done it many times!
Meanwhile the Tsar and the envoy are sitting at the table. Look who's there to join them! Yes! It's the Nursemaid and the princess! All are waiting for the game Fedot promised to obtain. Now the table is empty -- no meal. There are cabbages and dill, parsley, carrots, roots of beet, and that's all there's to it.
The guest looks bored; he sits dangling his foot and watching the holes on the table cloth. The Tsar is boiling hot, swearing and cursing soldier Fedot. Suddenly, -- oh my! -- as if from the sky, there come a loaf of bread and an apple pie, a bucket of caviar, stewed turkey, giblets, sturgeon soup, fishes and a thousand more of such-like dishes. With dainty like that, isn't it nice to have a chat?
I am interested in
Your technology of seedin':
Do your farmers skin the swedes
When they plant them in the fields?
I'm interested in
Your daily eating routine:
Do your people have their cocoa
With or without saccharine?
Then there's another thing
That I'm interested in:
Do your women wear knickers,
Something underneath, I mean?
Are you crazy? Shame on you!
Think whom you are talking to!
Women is the subject you
Turn all conversations to!
Will you shut up, be so kind.
If you don't, I'll jail you, mind!
It's not an idle talk, you see?
It's my foreign policy!
Look, she's quite a big lass
But she is as thin as a lath!
So I'm thinking, if we can
Marry her to this here man.
To entice him we must act
Very cautiously, with tact,
Talking round, making hints,
Trying not to hurt his feelings.
Not even I -- not for your life! --
Would really want to be his wife,
All he has in mind is try
And swallow something on the sly!
"Yes"is all he is repeating,
While he never ceases eating,
Close your eyes, and he'll devour
Half of Russia, at one sitting!
Keep your mouth shut, my dear,
Or I'll kick you out of here.
You have scared all the envoys,
All the aliens, as it were.
There was a Spanish grandee,
He was a fop! A real dandy!
Bedecked with diamonds, he made
A perfect party for our maid.
What you did you sat our friend
Down on a nail, "by accident".
Consequently the guest has
A strong bias against us.
I remember that Spaniard,
I recall he ate like mad,
He was so absorbed in eating
That he smudged his bow in fat.
No matter what you asked him he
Would keep parroting: "si, si"
While he would indulge in eating
Our herring ivashi!
Stop it now! Or you'll wind up
Rotting in a prison camp!
I'm quite serious!.. Don't think
That I 'm talking tongue in cheek.
The German baron that we knew
Was good from every point of view.
Yet you did your best to hurt him
And offend him, didn't you?
Wasn't it you who worked him up,
By putting a mouse in his cup?
You are a wicked, vicious woman,
A god damn treacherous thing, a vermin!
Well, your baron was quite good,
Good at eating our food,
Put him in a flock of ravens,
He will fight them like a brute!
Looking proud, talking big,
He's voracious like a pig.
He would even gobble hay