Monday, December 26, 2016

The Tale of Silverhoof

(Details from Silverhoof Matrioshka set by Golden Cockerel of St. Petersburg)

Once upon a time, there was an old man named Vania who lived alone and was very lonely as he had neither wife nor child.  He heard about an orphan girl who was not wanted by the family who had taken over her old home.  Although his original intention was to adopt a boy whom he could teach to hunt and follow in his footsteps, he realised that the girl needed a family and, if she were anything like her parents, they would enjoy a good life together.

He went to visit her at her old house and found her in a corner with a cat on her knees.  The woman of the house declared that caring for Daria was nothing but a nuisance and a burden.  She had not asked for the responsibility and she and her husband would be happier without the girl.   Vania asked Daria if she would be willing to live with him instead, even though he was only a poor hunter who lived in the forest.  While telling her of his life there, he mentioned his lifelong quest for the stag with the silver hoof.  Daria was intrigued by the tale and wanted to know why he was so interested in the stag... Vania declared he would tell her all the details only if she went with him.  She agreed, on condition that he accepted her cat Moura as well.  Vania agreed and off they went.

The new family was content with their life.  Vania hunted, Daria cooked and cleaned and Moura chased mice.   The lonely old man no longer felt lonely in the least.  Daria no longer felt like an orphan and Moura no longer was thin and hungry.

Vania kept his promise to tell Daria about the White Stag.  It was a magical creature seldom seen.  He had a silver hoof on his right forefoot.  When he stamped it, a multitude of jewels spilled out onto the earth.

Winter approached and Vania  told Daria that he intended to spend the season in his hunting cabin far from all human habitation.  Daria begged to accompany him but at first he refused, saying it was no place for a child.  In the end, however, he surrendered to her wishes and all three of them, Vania, Daria and the cat Moura began the long journey to the cabin.  The villagers whispered among themselves, saying that the old man was irresponsible to take a child into the wilderness for the winter but Daria was happy to go wherever her new father went and she was determined to see the White Stag somehow.

At the cabin, Vania spent his days hunting.  Daria cooked and cleaned and Moura caught mice.  All three were happy.  One day, while Vania was out hunting, Daria heard a noise and, looking out the window beheld a gorgeous White Stag with five-pointed antlers.  She ran quickly to the door and opened it.  There was nothing whatsoever to be seen.  She thought she had to have fallen asleep for a moment and seen a vision perhaps...

The next day, while Vania was off hunting, Daria heard the clatter of hooves on the rooftop.  She quietly went to the door and opened it.  There, standing in the snow in front of the cabin was a beautiful White Stag with five-pointed antlers and a silver hoof.  Daria clapped her hands with delight.  The Stag ran off...

The next day, Daria found herself still alone in the cabin as Vania had not returned yet from his hunting trip.  Moreover, Moura the Cat had disappeared.  She was worried and went out into the snow to search for her beloved cat.  She walked until she came to a hill covered with snow.  There on the top of the hill stood both the White Stag and Moura.  The two animals faced one another, their heads nodding as though deep in conversation.  After a time, Moura began to walk away and the Silver Stag followed him.

Although Daria attempted to follow the animals, she was unable to find them.  It was growing late, so she finally realised she had to return to the cabin.  When she did, she found the Silver Stag, Silvershod on the roof.  The magical creature stamped his silver hoof and jewels flew out, into the snow: diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies, piled high.

At this moment, Vania returned from his trip and beheld the magical Stag again in conversation with the cat Moura, jewels sparkling all round them.  When he moved forward, Moura gave a strange unearthly cry and both animals vanished.  Vania filled his cap with jewels, but Daria suggested that he leave the rest where they had fallen... the sight of them glittering in the sunlight was so beautiful!  Let them enjoy the incredible display for a time.

The old man and young girl went into the house, leaving the rest of the jewels in the snow.  More snow began to fall.

The next day, Vania tried to find the jewels beneath the new snowfall but no matter how deep he dug, he could not find a single jewel.  Nonetheless, the jewels in his cap were more than sufficient to give them both a good life.  Moura the Cat never returned, however and both Vania and Daria missed her terribly...  Even so, it is comforting to think that the White Stag and Moura now are inseparable companions, friends forever!

No comments: