|STORY OF LITTLE SIMPLETON
By John T. Naak?ONCE there lived a peasant and his wife who had
three daughters. The
two elder girls were cunning and selfish; the youngest was simple
open-hearted, and on that account came to be called, first by
sisters and afterward by her father and mother, "Little Simpleton."
Little Simpleton was pushed about, had to fetch everything that
wanted, and was always kept at work; but she was ever ready to
she was told, and never uttered a word of complaint. She would
the garden, prepare pine splinters, milk the cows, and feed the
she had to wait upon everybody-in a word, she was the drudge of
One day, as the peasant was going with the hay to market, he
daughters what they would like him to buy for them.
"Buy me some kumach (Red wool stuff from Bucharest) for
a sarafan (A
long dress worn by the Russian peasant women) father," answered
"And me some nankeen," said the second. The youngest
did not ask for a present. The peasant was moved with compassion
the girl; although a simpleton she was still his daughter.
Turning to her he asked "Well, Little Simpleton, what shall
I buy for
Little Simpleton smiled and replied-
"Buy me, dearest father, a little silver plate and a little
"What do you want them for?" asked her sisters.
"I will make the little apple roll round the plate, and
will say some
words to it which an old woman taught me because I gave her a
The peasant promised to buy his daughters what they asked of
then started for market. He sold his hay, and bought the presents:
some nankeen for one of his daughters, for another some kumach,
Little Simpleton a little silver plate and a little apple. Then
returned home and gave these things to his daughters.
The girls were delighted; the two elder ones made themselves
and laughed at Little Simpleton, wondering what she would do with
silver plate and the apple.
Little Simpleton did not eat the apple, but sat down in a corner
"Roll, roll, little apple on the silver plate, and show
me towns and
fields, forests and seas, lofty mountains and beautiful skies."
And the apple began to roll on the plate, and there appeared
on it town
after town; ships sailing on the seas, and people in the fields;
mountains and beautiful skies; suns and stars. All these things
so beautiful, and were so wonderful, that it would be impossible
tell of them in a story, or describe them with the pen.
At first the elder sisters looked at the little plate with delight;
soon, however, their hearts were filled with envy, and they began
try to get it from their younger sister. But the girl would not
with it on any account. Then the wicked girls said- "Dearest
let us go into the forest to gather blackberries."
Little Simpleton got up, gave the plate and apple to her father,
went with them into the forest. They walked about and gathered
blackberries. All at once they saw a spade lying upon the ground.
wicked sisters killed Little Simpleton with it, and buried her
They returned home late, and told their father, "The Simpleton
she ran away from us in the forest; we searched, but could not
anywhere. The wolves must have eaten her."
The peasant regretted the loss of his daughter bitterly; for
so simple she was still his child. The wicked sisters also shed
Her father put the little silver plate and the little apple into
and locked them up.
Next morning a shepherd was tending his sheep near the place,
on his pipe, and searching in the forest for one of his flock
missing. He observed the little grave under the birch tree; it
covered by the most lovely flowers, and out of the middle of the
there grew a reed. The shepherd cut off the reed, and made a pipe
it. As soon as the pipe was prepared, oh, wonderful! It began
of itself, and say-
"Play, oh pipe, play! and comfort my poor parents and sisters.
killed for the sake of my little silver plate and my little apple."
When the people heard of this they ran out of their huts, and
round the shepherd and began to ask him who was killed.
"Good people," answered the shepherd, "I don't
know who it is. While
searching for one of my sheep in the forest, I came upon a grave
covered with flowers. Above them all stood a reed. I cut off the
and made this pipe of it. It plays of itself, and you have heard
The father of Little Simpleton happened to be present. He took
pipe into his own hand, and it began to play:
"Play, oh pipe, play! Comfort my poor father and mother.
I was killed
for the sake of my little silver plate and my little apple."
peasant asked the shepherd to take him to the place where he had
the reed. They all went into the forest, saw the grave, and were
astonished at the sight of the lovely flowers which grew there.
opened the grave, and there discovered the body of a girl, which
poor man recognized as that of his youngest daughter. There she
murdered-but by whom no one could tell. The people asked one another
who it was that had killed the poor girl. Suddenly the pipe began
"Oh, my dearest father; my sisters brought me to this forest,
killed me for the sake of my little plate and my little apple.
will not bring me to life until you fetch some of the water from
Then the wicked sisters confessed it all. They were seized and
into a dark prison, to await the pleasure of the czar. The peasant
out for the capital. As soon as he arrived at the city, he went
palace, saw the czar, told his story, and begged permission to
some water from the well. The czar said, "You may take some
life from my well, and as soon as you have restored your daughter
life, bring her here with her little plate and the little apple;
your other two daughters also."
The peasant bowed to the ground, and returned home with a bottle
of the water of life. He hastened to the grave in the forest,
up the body of his daughter, and as soon as he had sprinkled it
the water the girl came to life again, and threw herself into
All who were present were moved to tears.
Then the peasant started again for the capital, and arriving
at once to the czar's palace. The czar came out, and saw the peasant
with his three daughters, two of them with their arms bound, the
as beautiful as the spring flowers, stood near, the tears like
falling down her cheeks. The czar was very angry with the two
sisters; then he asked the youngest for her little plate and apple.
The girl took the box from her father's hands, and said-
"Sire, what would you like to see? Your towns or your armies;
ships at sea, or the beautiful stars in the sky?"
Then she made the little apple roll round the plate, and there
on it many towns, one after the other, with bodies of soldiers
them, with their standards and artillery. Then the soldiers made
for the fight, and the officers stood in their places. The firing
commenced, the smoke arose, and hid it all from view. The little
began again to roll on the plate, and there appeared the sea covered
with ships, their flags streaming in the wind. The guns began
the smoke arose, and again all disappeared from their sight. The
again began to roll on the plate, and there appeared on it the
beautiful sky with suns and stars.
The czar was astonished. The girl fell down on her knees before
"Oh, Sire, take my little plate and my little apple, and
The czar was moved by her tears and entreaties and forgave the
sisters; the delighted girl sprang up and began to embrace and
them. The czar smiled, took her by the hand and said, "I
goodness of your heart, and admire your beauty. Would you like
become my wife?"
"Sire," answered the beautiful girl, "I obey your
royal command; but
allow me first to ask my parents' permission."
The delighted peasant at once gave his consent; they sent for
mother, and she, too, gladly bestowed her blessing.
"One favor more," said the beautiful girl to the czar.
parents and sisters to remain with me."
On hearing this the sisters fell down on their knees before her,
"We are not worthy of so much favor!"
"Dearest sisters," said the beautiful girl, "all
is forgotten and
forgiven. They who remember the past with malice deserve to lose
She then tried to lift them up from the ground, but they, shedding
bitter tears, would not rise. Then the czar, looking at them with
frown, bade them get up; he allowed them, however, to stay in
A magnificent entertainment then began: the palace was splendidly
lighted up, and looked like the sun among the clouds. The czar
czarina rode out in an open chariot and showed themselves to the
people, who cried joyfully-
"Long live czar and czarina! May they shine upon us like
sun for years and years to come!"