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A collection Fairy tales from Russia.
Sergei Aksakov: The little scarlet flower.

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He arrived in foreign parts, traded in unknown realms, sold bis wares at thrice their value and bought others at three times less. He bartered ware for ware, and received gold and silver into the bargain, then loaded his ships with gold coin and sent them home. He obtained the cherished gift for his eldest daughter, the golden crown set with precious stones that turn the dark of night into the light of day. And he found the cherished gift for his second daugh-ter, the crystal mirror which reflects all the beauty under the sun, which is such that she who looks into it never grows old, but grows ever younger. Yet nowhere could he find the cherished gift for his youngest and dearest daughter, the Little Scarlet Flower whose beauty is greater than anything in the whole wide world.
In the gardens of tsars and kings and sultans he came upon many red flowers of greater beauty than tales can tell or words can relate. But no one could assure him that a particular flower was the most beautiful in the world. Nor was he sure himself. As he journeyed on his way with his loyal servants, over shifting sands and through dense forests, he was suddenly set upon by robbers, infidels they were, Turks and Indians and suchlike. In the face of such adversity, the honest merchant left behind his rich caravans and loyal servants and fled into the dark forests.
"Better that wild beasts should tear me asunder," thought he, "than that I should fall into the hands of heathen robbers and spend the rest of my days as their captive slave."
So he wandered through the dense, nigh impassable forest; and the farther he went, the easier the going became, for the trees and the thick bushes seemed to part to make way for him. Yet when he looked back, he could not stretch forth his hand; he looked to the right, and the undergrowth was so thick that a cross-eyed hare could not have passed; he looked to the left, and that was even worse. The honest merchant was astonished: he could not understand the marvel that was befalling him. He walked on and on along the beaten track that appeared beneath his feet. From dawn to dusk he walked, never hearing a wild beast roar, a snake hiss, an owl hoot or a bird sing. A deathly silence lay all about him. And then dark night descended making it pitch black all around except for a patch of light beneath his feet. On he walked till midnight and he began to see some kind of glow before him, and he thought....


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