IN a certain kingdom there lived a rich peasant, who had three sonsSimeon (a soldier), Tarras-Briukhan (fat man), and Ivan (a fool)and one daughter, Milania, born dumb. Simeon went to war, to serve the Czar; Tarras went to a city and became a merchant; and Ivan, with his sister, remained at home to work on the farm.
For his valiant service in the army, Simeon received an estate with high rank, and married a nobles daughter. Besides his large pay, he was in receipt of a handsome income from his estate; yet he was unable to make ends meet. What the husband saved, the wife wasted in extravagance. One day Simeon went to the estate to collect his income, when the steward informed him that there was no income, saying:
The old man, however, refused to comply with his request, saying: You had no hand in the accumulation of our property, and what our household contains is the result of Ivans hard work. It would be unjust, he repeated, to Ivan and his sister.
Tarras replied: But he does not need it. He is a fool, and cannot marry, for no one will have him; and sister does not require anything, for she was born dumb. Turning then to Ivan he continued: Give me half the grain you have, and I will not touch the implements or fishing-nets; and from the cattle I will take only the dark mare, as she is not fit to plow.
Ivan laughed and said: Well, I will go and arrange matters so that Tarras may have his share, whereupon Tarras took the brown mare with the grain to town, leaving Ivan with one old horse to work on as before and support his father, mother, and sister.