by Victor Vasnetsov

The Tzarevnas of the Underground Kingdom

Page 2

The stone did not look at all heavy and Gregory began to feel a little braver. 'I'll soon have that out of the way!' he shouted as he set to trying to lift the stone. He pulled and pulled, but the stone would not budge.

'Not to worry, he told the dragon, 'I'm just going about it the wrong way - it has to be pushed aside.' Puffing and panting, his head throbbing and sweat dripping into his eyes, he puffed and panted over the stone until he was close to collapsing.

The dragon told him:'I'm afraid you have failed the test. You will not find a wife.'

Feeling a bit glum that he had failed the test, although on the other hand also relieved that he did not have to marry, Gregory made his way back home and told his parents what had happened. They were disappointed, although they did not like to say it.

A few days later they decided to send their second son, Misha, out to find a wife. Now Misha felt just the same as Gregory: he was more than happy to stay at home and take life easy. But he knew he had to go.

And exactly the same thing happened to him. He met the same dragon on the road, well perhaps it was a different one: at any rate it said it would put him to the test. He came home with tears in his eyes (an onion helped) and told his parents that he could not move the stone either.

'Poor, little Misha!' they said, (although he was taller than they were) 'we know you did your best!'

Although they were as disappointed as before, they tried hard not to show it. That evening when the boys were in bed, the parents discussed what to do.

'We can't possibly send Ivan out to look for a wife, he never does anything right!'

'All he's good for is huddling over the stove and eating sunflower seeds all day! Why it could even be dangerous - the dragon might become angry and kill him!'

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