THE OLD devil, having finished with the second brother, went to Ivan the Fool. This time he disguised himself as a General, the same as in the case of Simeon, and, appearing before Ivan, said: Get an army together. It is disgraceful for the ruler of a kingdom to be without an army. You call your people to assemble, and I will form them into a fine large army.
The old devil then went through Ivans kingdom to secure recruits for the army, saying: Come, shave your heads [the heads of recruits are always shaved in Russia] and I will give each of you a red hat and plenty of vodki (whiskey).
At this the fools only laughed, and said: We can have all the vodki we want, for we distill it ourselves; and of hats, out little girls make all we want, of any color we pleases, and with handsome fringes.
The fools went to the General, and said: You tell us that Ivan will punish with death all those who refuse to become soldiers, but you have omitted to state what will be done with us soldiers. We have been told that we are only to be killed.
Ivan began to laugh heartily on hearing this, and said: Well, how I alone can punish you with death is something I cannot understand. If I was not a fool myself I would be able to explain it to you, but as it is I cannot.
The old devil, seeing his schemes about to prove failures, went to the ruler of Tarakania and became his friend, saying: Let us go and conquer Ivans kingdom. He has no money, but he has plenty of cattle, provisions, and various other things that would be useful to us.
The Tarakanian ruler gathered his large army together, and equipping it with cannons and rifles, crossed the boundary line into Ivans kingdom. The people went to Ivan and said: The ruler of Tarakania is here with a large army to fight us.
The Tarakanian ruler, after crossing the line into Ivans kingdom, looked in vain for soldiers to fight against; and waiting some time and none appearing, he sent his own warriors to attack the villages.
They soon reached the first village, which they began to plunder. The fools of both sexes looked calmly on, offering not the least resistance when their cattle and provisions were being taken from them. On the contrary, they invited the soldiers to come and live with them, saying: If you, dear friends, find it is difficult to earn a living in your own land, come and live with us, where everything is plentiful.
The soldiers decided to remain, finding the people happy and prosperous, with enough surplus food to supply many of their neighbors. They were surprised at the cordial greetings which they everywhere received, and, returning to the ruler of Tarakania, they said: We cannot fight with these peopletake us to another place. We would much prefer the dangers of actual warfare to this unsoldierly method of subduing the village.
Why do you treat us so cruelly? they cried to the invading soldiers. Why do you wish to destroy everything we have? If you have more need of these things than we have, why not take them with you and leave us in peace?