Sunday, January 24, 2016

Old Peter's Russian Tales: "Little Master Misery"

         Little Master Misery is a Russian folktale from "Old Peter's Russian Tales." The story concerns two brothers, one cunning and constantly gaining wealth and one kind and constantly losing wealth. After the cunning brother invites the poor brother over for his "Name-day" and does not give him anything to eat, the poor brother encounters a being called "Misery" on his way home. Misery takes advantage of the poor brother's generosity by causing him to spend all of what little wealth he has going to the tavern every night. When the poor brother finally has nothing left to sell, misery directs him to a boulder in the middle of a field, revealing a large stash of gold, silver and gems. The generous brother, having had enough of misery forcing him to drink away his money and possessions, tricks the being into entering the hole under the boulder and sealing him underneath. When the cunning brother is invited to his previously poor brother's name-day feast, he becomes jealous of his wealth and asks him how he acquired it. The generous brother tells him the truth and the cunning brother intends to release misery in the hopes that he will kill his brother for sealing him away. However, when the cunning brother releases misery, the being mistakes him for the generous brother and latches onto him, eventually forcing him to drink away his money as well. The cunning brother eventually tricks misery into trapping himself in a cart wheel, which he then throws in the river. The cunning brother intends to work his way back to his former wealthy status while the narrator informs us that misery has been released and his whereabouts are unknown.

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