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The next morning Ivan's exploits were the talk of the village, and news of the wonderful things he had done reached the ears of his brother Simeon, who immediately went to Ivan to learn all about it.
"Explain to me," he said; "from whence did you bring the soldiers, and where did you take them?"
"And what do you wish to know for?" asked Ivan.
"Why, with soldiers we can do almost anything we wish - whole kingdoms can be conquered," replied Simeon.
This information greatly surprised Ivan, who said: "Well, why did you not tell me about this before? I can make as many as you want."
Ivan then took his brother to the barn, but he said: "While I am willing to create the soldiers, you must take them away from here; for if it should become necessary to feed them, all the food in the village would last them only one day."
Simeon promised to do as Ivan wished, whereupon Ivan proceeded to convert the straw into soldiers. Out of one bundle of straw he made an entire regiment; in fact, so many soldiers appeared as if by magic that there was not a vacant spot in the field.
Turning to Simeon Ivan said, "Well, is there a sufficient number?"
Beaming with joy, Simeon replied: "Enough! enough! Thank you, Ivan!"
"Glad you are satisfied," said Ivan, "and if you wish more I will make them for you. I have plenty of straw now."
Simeon divided his soldiers into battalions and regiments, and after having drilled them he went forth to fight and to conquer.
Simeon had just gotten safely out of the village with his soldiers when Tarras, the other brother, appeared before Ivan - he also having heard of the previous day's performance and wanting to learn the secret of his power. He sought Ivan, saying: "Tell me the secret of your supply of gold, for if I had plenty of money I could with its assistance gather in all the wealth in the world."
Ivan was greatly surprised on hearing this statement, and said: "You might have told me this before, for I can obtain for you as much money as you wish."
Tarras was delighted, and he said, "You might get me about three bushels."
"Well," said Ivan, "we will go to the woods, or, better still, we will harness the horse, as we could not possibly carry so much money ourselves."
The brothers went to the woods and Ivan proceeded to gather the oak leaves, which he rubbed between his hands, the dust falling to the ground and turning into gold pieces as quickly as it fell.
When quite a pile had accumulated Ivan turned to Tarras and asked if he had rubbed enough leaves into money, whereupon Tarras replied: "Thank you, Ivan; that will be sufficient for this time."
Ivan then said: "If you wish more, come to me and I will rub as much as you want, for there are plenty of leaves."
Tarras, with his tarantas (wagon) filled with gold, rode away to the city to engage in trade and increase his wealth; and thus both brothers went their way, Simeon to fight and Tarras to trade.
Simeon's soldiers conquered a kingdom for him and Tarras-Briukhan made plenty of money.
Some time afterward the two brothers met and confessed to each other the source from whence sprang their prosperity, but they were not yet satisfied.
Simeon said: "I have conquered a kingdom and enjoy a very pleasant life, but I have not sufficient money to procure food for my soldiers;" while Tarras confessed that he was the possessor of enormous wealth, but the care of it caused him much uneasiness.
"Let us go again to our brother," said Simeon; "I will order him to make more soldiers and will give them to you, and you may then tell him that he must make more money so that we can buy food for them."
They went again to Ivan, and Simeon said: "I have not sufficient soldiers; I want you to make me at least two divisions more." But Ivan shook his head as he said: "I will not create soldiers for nothing; you must pay me for doing it."
"Well, but you promised," said Simeon.
"I know I did," replied Ivan; "but I have changed my mind since that time."
"But, fool, why will you not do as you promised?"
"For the reason that your soldiers kill men, and I will not make any more for such a cruel purpose." With this reply Ivan remained stubborn and would not create any more soldiers.
Tarras-Briukhan next approached Ivan and ordered him to make more money; but, as in the case of Tarras, Ivan only shook his head, as he said: "I will not make you any money unless you pay me for doing it. I cannot work without pay."
Tarras then reminded him of his promise.
"I know I promised," replied Ivan; "but still I must refuse to do as you wish."
"But why, fool, will you not fulfill your promise?" asked Tarras.
"For the reason that your gold was the means of depriving Mikhailovna of her cow."
"But how did that happen?" inquired Tarras.
"It happened in this way," said Ivan. "Mikhailovna always kept a cow, and her children had plenty of milk to drink; but some time ago one of her boys came to me to beg for some milk, and I asked, 'Where is your cow?' when he replied, 'A clerk of Tarras-Briukhan came to our home and offered three gold pieces for her. Our mother could not resist the temptation, and now we have no milk to drink. I gave you the gold pieces for your pleasure, and you put them to such poor use that I will not give you any more.'"
The brothers, on hearing this, took their departure to discuss as to the best plan to pursue in regard to a settlement of their troubles.
Simeon said: "Let us arrange it in this way: I will give you the half of my kingdom, and soldiers to keep guard over your wealth; and you give me money to feed the soldiers in my half of the kingdom."
To this arrangement Tarras agreed, and both the brothers became rulers and very happy.
Turn to the next chapter: CHAPTER VIII.