Pea-Roll Along Russian folktale

There was once a man who had six sons and one daughter, Olenka by name. One day the sons went out to plough and they told their sister to bring them their dinner to the field.

"How will I find you there?" Olenka asked.

"We will make a furrow stretching from our house to the place where we will be," said they.

And with that they drove away.

Now, in the forest beyond the field there lived a Dragon, and he came and filled in the furrow the brothers had made with earth and made a furrow of his own which led to the door of his house. And when Olenka went out to take her brothers dinner to them she followed it and walked straight into the Dragon's courtyard. And the Dragon seized her and held her captive.

In the evening the brothers came home and they said to their mother:

"We were ploughing all day. Why didn't you send us anything to eat, Mother?"

"But I did!' the mother replied. "I sent Olenka to the field with your dinner. She must have lost her way."

"We must go and look for her," the brothers said.

They set out at once, and, seeing the Dragon's furrow, followed it and came to his house. They walked in through the gate, and there was their sister running out to meet them!

"Oh, my brothers, my dear brothers, where will I hide you?" she cried. "The Dragon is out now but he will eat you up when he comes back!"

And lo! ? there was the Dragon flying toward them.

"I smell a man, I smell many men!" he cried. "Well, now, my lads, is it to fight me you have come or to make peace with me?"

"To fight you!"

"Very well, then, let us go to the iron threshing floor."

They went to the iron threshing floor, but they did not fight long. For the Dragon struck them once and drove them into the floor. Then he pulled them out, more dead than alive, and threw them into a deep dungeon.

The mother and father waited for their sons to return, but they waited in vain.

One day the mother went to the river with her laundry, and what should she see rolling toward her along the road but a pea! She picked

"Perhaps I can free you," said Pea-Roll Along.

"My brothers, and there were six of them, tried and could not do it, so how can you!"

"We shall see what we shall see!" said Pea-Roll Along.

And he sat down to wait by a window.

By and by the Dragon came flying back. He stepped into the house, sniffed and said:

"I smell a man!"

"Of course you do, for .here I am!" said Pea-Roll Along, coming forward.

"And what brings you here, my lad? Do you want to fight me or to make peace with me?"

"I want to fight you!"

"Well, then, let us go to the iron threshing floor!"


They came to the threshing floor, and the Dragon faced Pea-Roll Along.

"You strike first!" he said.

"No, you do!" said Pea-Roll Along.

At this the Dragon pounced on Pea-Roll Along and struck him such a blow that he sank ankle-deep into the iron threshing floor. But Pea-Roll Along was out again in a flash and he gave the Dragon an answering blow with his mace and drove him knee-deep into the floor. The Dragon heaved himself out and he again came at Pea-Roll Along and drove him as deep into the floor as he had just been driven himself. But Pea-Roll Along was not one to be frightened. He struck the Dragon a blow which drove him waist-deep into the floor, and then another that killed him on the spot.

After that he made his way to the dungeon, freed his brothers, who were more dead than alive, and, taking them and his sister Olenka with him, and all the gold and silver the Dragon had in the house too, set out for home. But he never told them that he was their brother.

Whether they were long on their way or not nobody knows, but by and by they sat down for a rest under an oak tree, and so tired was Pea-Roll Along after having battled the Dragon that he fell fast asleep. And his six brothers talked it all over among themselves and said:

"We will be mocked at when it becomes known that the six of us could not do away with the Dragon while this young lad here did it all by himself. And he will get all the Dragon's riches besides."

And they decided to tie Pea-Roll Along while he was asleep and Helpless to the oak tree and leave him there to be eaten up by a wild beast.

No sooner said than done. They bound Pea-Roll Along to the tree, left him there and went away.

And Pea-Roll Along slept on and felt nothing. He slept for a day and he slept for a night, and he woke to find himself bound to the oak tree. But he jerked and heaved, and lo! ? out came the tree, roots and all, from the ground, and Pea-Roll Along threw it over his shoulder and went home.

He came up to his house and he heard his brothers talking to their mother.

"Did you have any more children, Mother, after we left home?" they asked.

"Yes, indeed!" the mother replied. "I had a son, Pea-Roll Along by name, who went to seek you."

"Then it must have been he we bound to the oak tree. We shall have to go back at once and untie him!"

But Pea-Roll Along waved the oak tree he was carrying and it struck the roof of the hut so hard that the but all but tumbled to the ground.

"Stay where you are since you are what you are and no better, my brothers!" he cried. "I will go off by myself and roam the wide world."

And he shouldered his mace and away he went.

He walked and he walked and he saw two mountains ahead. Between them stood a man who had his hands and his feet set against them and was trying to push them apart.

"Good morning, friend!" Pea-Roll Along called out.

"Good morning to you!" the man replied.

"What are you doing?"

"Moving the mountains apart to make a path for passers-by."

"Where are you going?"

"To see the world and seek my fortune."

"I am out to do the same. What is your name?"

"Move-Mountain. What's yours?"

"Pea-Roll Along. Let's go together!"


They went along together, they walked and they walked, and they saw a man in the forest who was pulling out oak trees by their roots. And he had only to give a tree one twist, and out it came!

"Good morning, friend!" called Pea-Roll Along and Move-Mountain.

"Good morning to you, my lads!" the man called back.

"What are you doing?"

"Uprooting oak trees to make a path for anyone who wants to walk here."

"Where are you going?"

"To seek my fortune."

"We are out to do the same. What's your name?"

"Twist-Oak. And yours?"

"Pea-Roll Along and Move-Mountain. Let's go together!"


The three of them went on together, they walked and they walked, and they saw a man sitting on the bank of a river. The man had the longest of long whiskers, and he had only to twirl one of them for the waters to part and roll away, leaving a path for anyone who wanted to walk over the river bed.

"Good morning, friend!" they called to him.

"Good morning to you, my lads!"

"What are you doing?"

"Parting the waters in order to cross the river."

"Where are you going?"

"To seek my fortune."

"We are out to do the same. What's your name?"

"Twirl-Whisker. What are yours?"

"Pea-Roll Along, Move-Mountain and Twist-Oak. Let's go together!"


They went on together and had an easy time of it, for Move-Mountain

moved aside every mountain, Twist-Oak uprooted every forest, and Twirl-Whisker parted the waters of every river that was in their way.

They walked and they walked, and they came to a small hut standing in the middle of a large forest. They stepped inside, and lo! ? there was no one there.

"Here's where we will spend the night!" said Pea-Roll Along.

They spent the night in the hut, and in the morning Pea-Roll Along said:

"You stay at home, Move-Mountain, and make dinner, and we three will go hunting."

They went away, and Move-Mountain cooked a big dinner and lay down for a sleep.

All of a sudden there came a rap at the door: rap-tap-tap!

"Open the door!" someone called.

"I'm no servant of yours to open doors!" Move-Mountain called back.

The door opened, and the same voice called again:

"Carry me over the threshold!"

"You're no lord of mine, so don't wail or whine!" Move-Mountain called back.

And lo! ? there climbed over the threshold the tiniest old man that ever was, with a beard so long that it dragged over the floor. The little old man caught Move-Mountain by the hair and hung him on a nail on the wall. Then he ate all there was to eat and drank all there was to drink, and after cutting a long strip of skin from Move-Mountain's back, went away.

Move-Mountain twisted and turned on the nail till he broke loose, and then he set to work making dinner anew. He was still at it when his friends returned.

"Why are you so late getting dinner?" they asked.

"I dozed off and forgot about it," said Move-Mountain.

They ate their fill and went to bed, and on the following morning Pea-Roll Along said:

"Now you stay at home, Twist-Oak, and the rest of us will go hunting."

They went away, and Twist-Oak cooked a big dinner and lay down for a sleep.

All of a sudden there came a rap at the door: rap-tap-tap!

"Open the door!" a voice called.

"I'm no servant of yours to open doors!" Twist-Oak called back.

"Carry me over the threshold!" the same voice called again.

"You're no lord of mine, so don't wail or whine!" Twist-Oak replied.

And lo! ? there climbed over the threshold and stepped into the hut the tiniest little old man that ever was, with a beard so long that it trailed over the floor. The old man grabbed Twist-Oak by the hair and hung him on a nail, and then ate all there was to eat and drank all there was to drink, and, after cutting a long strip of skin from Twist-Oak's back, went away.

Twist-Oak twisted and turned this way and that till he succeeded in breaking free, and then he started to make dinner again. He was still at it when his friends returned.

"Why are you so late getting dinner?" they asked.

"I dozed off and only woke a little while ago," said Twist-Oak.

Move-Mountain, who guessed what had happened, said nothing.

On the third day Twirl-Whisker was the one to remain at home, and the same thing happened to him.

Said Pea-Roll Along:

"You three are very slow getting dinner. Tomorrow you'll go hunting and I'll stay home."

Morning came, and Pea-Roll Along remained at home while his three friends went hunting. He cooked a big dinner, and just as he lay down for a nap there came a rap at the door: rap-tap-tap!

"Open up!" a voice called.

Pea-Roll Along opened the door, and there before him was the tiniest little old man that ever lived, with a beard so long that it trailed over the floor.

"Carry me over the threshold, my lad!" said the little old man.

Pea-Roll Along picked him up, carried him into the hut and set him down on the floor, and the little old man began dancing round and round and taking little flying jumps at him.

"What do you want?" asked Pea-Roll Along.

"You'll soon see what I want!" said the little old man. He stretched out his hand and was about to seize Pea-Roll Along by the hair, but Pea-Roll Along cried out, "Oh, so that's the sort you are!" and caught him by the beard instead. Then, taking an axe, he dragged the little old man outside and up to an oak tree, split the oak tree in two, and thrust the little old man's beard deep into the cleft, pinning it fast.

"You were wicked enough to try to catch me by the hair, Grandpa," he said, "so now you'll have to stay here till I return."

Back he went to the hut, and he found his three friends waiting for him there.

"Is dinner ready?" they asked.

"Yes, it's been ready and waiting a long time," Pea-Roll Along replied.

They sat down and began eating, and after they had finished he


"Come with me and I will show you a most strange sight." He led them outside, but oddly enough there was no oak tree there and

no little old man either. For the little old man had pulled out the oak

tree by the roots and dragged it away with him.

Pea-Roll Along then told his friends of all that had happened to him,

and they, on their part, confessed that the little old man had had them

hanging from a nail and had cut strips of skin from their backs.

"He's a wicked old thing, is the little old man, and we had better go and find him," said Pea-Roll Along.

Now, the little old man had been dragging the oak tree and had thus left a trail which they found easy to follow. The trail led them to a hole in the ground so deep that it seemed bottomless.

Pea-Roll Along turned to Move-Mountain.

"Climb down the hole, Move-Mountain!" he said.

"Not I!" answered Move-Mountain.

"How about you, Twist-Oak, or you, Twirl-Whisker?"

But neither Twist-Oak nor Twirl-Whisker would risk climbing down the hole.

"All right, then, I'll do it!" said Pea-Roll Along. "But I'll need a rope. Let's plait one!"

They plaited a rope, and Pea-Roll Along wound one end of it round his wrist.

"Now let me down!" he said.

They began letting him down, and it took them a long time, for so deep was the hole that to reach its bottom was like trying to reach the nether world itself. But they got him down at last, and Pea-Roll Along set out to explore the place. On he walked, and by and by he came across a huge palace. He went inside, and everything in the palace sparkled and shone, for it was made of gold studded with precious stones. He passed from chamber to chamber, and all of a sudden who should come running toward him but a princess, and so beautiful was she that her equal could not have been found anywhere in the world.

"What brings you here, good youth?" she asked.

"I am looking for a little old man with a beard that trails over the ground," said Pea-Roll Along.

"He got his beard stuck in the cleft of a tree and is now trying to pull it out," said the princess. "Don't go to him or he will kill you as he has killed others."

"He won't kill me," said Pea-Roll Along. "It was I who caught him by the beard and stuck it in the cleft. But who are you?"

"I am a princess, the daughter of a king. The little old man carried me off and is keeping me captive here."

"I will free you, never fear! Just take me to him."

The princess led Pea-Roll Along to the little old man, and lo!?there he sat stroking his beard which he had pulled out of the cleft. At the sight of Pea-Roll Along he turned red with anger.

"What brings you here ? have you come to fight me or to make peace with me?" he asked.

"I am here to fight you!" said Pea-Roll Along. "Do you think I would make peace with the likes of you?"

They began to fight, and they fought fiercely and long till at last Pea-Roll Along struck the little old man with his mace and killed him at once.

After that Pea-Roll Along and the princess took all the gold and gems they could find in the palace, and, filling three sacks full of them, made for the hole down which Pea-Roll Along had climbed into the underground kingdom.

They came to it soon enough, and Pea-Roll Along cupped his hands round his mouth and began calling to his friends.

"Are you still there, my brothers?" he called.

"We are!" came the reply.

Pea-Roll Along tied one of the sacks to the rope.

"Pull it up, brothers! he called again. "The sack is yours!"

They pulled up the sack and let the rope down again, and Pea-Roll Along tied the second sack to it.

"Pull it up! This one is yours too!" he called.

He sent up the third sack as well, and then he tied the princess to the rope.

"The princess is mine!" he called.

The three friends pulled out the princess, and now only Pea-Roll Along was left at the bottom of the hole.

"Let's pull him up and then let go of the rope!" said they. "He will fall and be killed, and the princess will be ours."

But Pea-Roll Along guessed what they were up to and tied a large stone to the rope

"Now pull me up!" he called.

They pulled up the rope nearly to the top and then let go of it, and down came the stone with a crash!

"A fine lot of friends I have!" said Pea-Roll Along, and he set out to roam the kingdom at the bottom of the hole.

On and on he walked, and all of a sudden the sky became overcast, and it began to rain and to hail. Pea-Roll Along hid under an oak tree, and as he stood there he heard the chirping of baby griffins coming from a nest at the top of the tree. He climbed the tree, and, taking off his coat, covered the birds with it.

The rain stopped, and a huge griffin, the nestlings' father, came flying up.

"Who was it that covered you, my little ones?" asked he.

"We'll tell you if you promise not to eat him up," said the nestlings.

"I won't, never fear!"

"Well, do you see that man sitting under the tree? It was he who did it."

The griffin flew down from the tree.

"Ask of me whatever you want, and I will do it!" said he to Pea-Roll Along. "For this is the first time that none of my children has drowned in such a downpour, with me away."

"Take me to my own kingdom," said Pea-Roll Along.

"That is not easy to do, but if we take six barrels of meat and six of water with us I may be able to do it," the griffin said. "Every time I turn my head to the right you will throw a piece of meat into my mouth, and every time I turn it to the left you will give me a sip of water. If you don't do it we'll never get there, for I'll die on the way."

They took six barrels of meat and six of water. Pea-Roll Along put them on the griffin's back and climbed on himself, and away they flew! And whenever the griffin turned his head to the right Pea-Roll Along put some meat into his mouth, and whenever he turned it to the left he gave him a sip of water.

They flew for a long time and had nearly reached Pea-Roll Along's kingdom when the griffin turned his head to the right again. Pea-Roll Along looked into the barrel, the last of the six, and, seeing that there was not a scrap of meat left there, cut off a piece of his own leg and gave it to him.

"What was it that I just ate? It was very good," the griffin asked.

"A piece of my own flesh," replied Pea-Roll Along pointing to his leg.

The griffin said nothing, but spat out the piece, and leaving Pea-Roll Along to wait for him, flew off to fetch some living water. He was back with it before long, and no sooner had they put the piece that he had cut off to Pea-Roll Along's leg and sprinkled it with the living water than it grew fast to it again.

After that the griffin flew home, and Pea-Roll Along went to seek his three faithless friends.

Now, the three had made their way to the palace of the princess's father, the king, and they were now living there and quarrelling among

themselves, for each of them wanted to marry the princess and would not give her up to the others.

It was there that Pea-Roll Along found them, and when they saw him they turned white with fright.

"Traitors deserve no mercy! cried Pea-Roll Along, and he struck them with his mace and killed them.

Soon after that he married the princess, and they lived happily ever after.