Friday, October 19, 2012

Clever Katya

Clever Katya
A story from Russia
 Retold by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Jane Kochnewitz

          The Czar of Russia was out in his coach when he saw a farmer eating some bread.
          ‘I’m hungry,’ said the Czar. ‘Stop the coach!’
          He got out and asked the farmer for some bread. The farmer bowed low and gave him some.

          ‘This is the best bread I have ever tasted,’ said the Czar.  ‘Who made it? ’
          ‘My daughter, Katya, your Majesty,’ replied the farmer.
          ‘Tell me about Katya,’ said the Czar.

          ‘ Oh, she’s a wonderful girl,’ said the farmer.
‘ So pretty, so good, so strong, such a good worker, such a good singer …’
          ‘ And such a good baker,’ said the Czar with his mouth full of bread. ‘Is she clever too?’

          ‘Oh yes,’ boasted the farmer. ‘She’s the cleverest person in Russia.’
          ‘What? Cleverer than me?’  asked the Czar.
          ‘Oh no, your Majesty. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that,’ began the farmer.
          But the Czar had jumped back into his coach.
          ‘I’ll be back!’ he called out.

          The next day the Czar came back. He gave the farmer a basket of eggs.
          ‘If your Katya is so clever, see if she can hatch these eggs into chickens,’ he said. ‘I’ll be back tomorrow!’

          The farmer took the eggs to Katya.
‘But these eggs are hard boiled,’ she said. ‘They won’t ever hatch out.’
‘Oh no!’ said the farmer. ‘What shall we do?’
‘Don’t worry, I know what to do,’ said Katya with a smile.  


          The next day the Czar was on his way back to the farmer’s house when he saw a girl throwing some beans onto the ground. She was singing a song.
          ‘Grow, beans, grow!’ she sang.

          The Czar stopped the coach.
          'What is your name?' he asked the girl.
          'Katya,' she replied.
          'So you're Clever Katya,' said the Czar. 'What are you doing?
          'I'm sowing boiled beans, your Majesty,' said Katya, and she went on with her song.

                      The Czar lauhged. 'How can boiled beans grow, you silly girl?' he asked.
          'They can grow just as quickly as hard boiled eggs can hatch out,'replied Katya.
          The Czar lalughed again. 'That's a clever reply,' he said. 'I thought I could trick you but you were too clever for me. All right, you win this time, but let's see if you can do something else.'
         'What's that?' asked Katya.

         The Czar gave her a handful of wool.
         ' I want you to make curtains for the palace out of this,' he said.

        Katya took the wool home and told her father what she had do.
        'Oh no,'said the farmer. 'How can you make curtains with so little wool? It's impossible.'
        'Don't worry, Father,' replied Katya. 'I'll think of something.'


       The next day the Czar came back to the house.
       He was beginning to like Katya.
       'Well?' he asked. 'Have you made the curtains?'
      Katya smiled and gave him a little twig.
      'What's this for?' asked the Czar.
      'Well, your Majesty, it's like this,' said Katya. 'We're very poor - too poor to buy a spinning wheel. But if you can make a spinning wheel out of this twig, then I can spin the wool and make your curtains.'

     The Czar laughed. he knew he couldn't make a spinning wheel out of a little twig.
     ' You win again,' he said.
     Katya laughed too. She was beginning to like the Czar.
     'There's one more thing I want you to do,' said the Czar, and gave Katya a cup.
     ' I want you to fill this cup with all the water from the sea,' he said.

     Katya told her what she had to do.
     'but that's impossible,' he said.
     'Don't worry,' Katya replied. 'I'll think of something.'

     The next day the Czar was back. Katya came to the door with the cup.
     'It's empty!' said the Czar. 'You're not so clever after all. You can't do what I asked.'

     'Yes, I can,' replied Katya. 'I can fill the cup with all the water from the sea, but there's one problem.'
     'What's that?' asked the Czar.
     ' Well,' said Katya, 'if I do that, then all the rivers will flow into the sea and fill it up again. But if you dam up all the rivers first, then I can fill the cup with water from the sea.'

      The Czar laughed louder than ever. he knew he couldn't dam up all the rivers.
      'You're a very clever girl,' he said. 'Will youi marry me?'
      'I will if you promise me one thing,' said Katya.
      'What's that?' asked the Czar.

      'Promise me that if you ever get fed up with me and send me back home, you will let me take one thing with me.'
      'What thing?' asked the Czar.
      'The thing I love best in the palace,' replied Katya.
      'I promise,' said the Czar.

     So Katya married the Czar, and for a year they lived happily. But one night the Czar was in bad mood and he quarrelled with Katya.
    'You think you're so clever,' he said. 'Well, you can go back and be clever in your father's house.'

     He called his servants and told them to get a cart ready to take Katya home.
     All Katya said was, 'You look tired. Have a cushion for your head.'
     The cushion was very soft. The Czar closed his eyes and Katya began to sing softly. Before long the Czar fell asleep in his chair....

    When the servants came back, Katya gave them a big chest and told them to put it on the cart.
    'My clothes are in there,' she said.
    'Your clothes are very heavy,' said the servants, but they heaved the chest onto the cart.

The servants took Katya home.
‘It’s good to see you, Katya,’ said her father, but he looked worried. ‘Why are you back? Did you quarrel with the Czar?’
‘Yes,’ said Katya. ‘But don’t worry. I won’t be back for long.’

They heaved the big chest off the cart and took it into the house.
‘It’s very heavy,’ said Katya’s father. ‘What’s in it?’
‘Open the lid and see,’ said Katya.

The farmer opened the lid of the chest. There inside lay the Czar, fast asleep.
‘What have you done?’ asked the farmer. He looked frightened.

           Just then the Czar woke up and saw Katya.
          ‘I thought I told you to go back to your father’s house,’ he said.
          ‘I did,’ replied Katya.

The Czar sat up and looked around. He saw Katya’s father.
‘You wicked girl!’ he said to Katya. ‘How dare you kidnap the Czar of Russia!’

 ‘Don’t you remember your promise?’ asked Katya.
‘What promise?’ asked the Czar.
‘You promised that if you ever got fed up and sent me home I could keep the thing I loved best in the palace. Well, it’s you!’

The Czar laughed. He jumped out of the chest and hugged Katya.
‘You were right,’ he said to the farmer. ‘Your daughter is the cleverest person in Russia, and I’ll never send her away again.’
The End