The Water Maid

(Told by a country boy)


The summer day was hot and sunny, and I was swimming in the lake;
A splash of water, games so funny and dives I liked to take.

This merry way I did enjoy my playing for an hour
And certain was I not to sweat, moreover short I was of power;
tatar fairy tales
So quickly I ran out of the lake to put my clothes on.
But what was wrong? A sence of fear! And all my friends were gone!

To leave the place I was about, but suddenly I saw a bridge.
And on the bridge I saw an awful woman. Was she a mermaid or a witch?

In the daylight, broad and clear, golden combs of hers I saw.
She was doing her long hair, I had doubts no more.

Breathless, frightened even shocked stood I there not so long;
In the shade of old thick trees I felt tremor in my knees.

Having combed her thick long hair, splashing water in the air
In the waves she dissapeared. Oh. my Lord. I so feared.

As for me I ran towards the bridge, thoughtless was of course that siege.
But how great was my surprise: golden combs of hers beheld my eyes.

What I did - I looked around. Not a single soul was seen.
Like a thief I took one from the ground. Oh, of me it was so mean.

Seeing nothing on the way, I was rushing far away.
I was burning in the fire, would I get through all that mire?

Time was endless, so I thought, looked around, her I sought.
What I saw was awful, scary. I was followed by the fairy.

«Will you stop? Don't run away! How unlucky is the day!»
Shouting she was chasing in a line. «Don't you know the comb is mine?»

I was trying to escape, she was roaring like an ape.
In the field I was alone, being followed by her moan.

Running this way so fast, came the village into view at last.
Soon the dogs began to bark, it was such a nice good mark.

«Bow-wow-wow», - the dogs were barking, after her they all were darting.
«Now it's your turn, be afraid, good-for-nothing ugly maid».

So the business being settled, though the creature was too nettled:
I achieved my evil goal. Heavens! I was on a roll!

On my coming to my place, rushing home at such a pace,
Told my mum I with a burst that enormous was my thirst.

I showed her a comb of gold, tried to look so brave and bold.
Words of mine that it was found seemed to her to have no ground.


Farewell! The sun went down and at once I went to bed.
I was lucky not to drown. Thanks to God I wasn't dead.

While I was upon my pillow, sleep did not befall on me.
I heard knocking at the window. Oh, my God, I wished to flee.

Notwithstanding all that noise. I behaved like real boys.
But my mum was soon awake, would she know I was a fake?

«Who is there making dogs to bark? Who is walking in the dark?
Decent people stay at home, night is not the time to roam!»

«People call me Water Maid and of gold my combs are made.
One was stolen by your boy, give it back, it's not a toy!»

In the sky the moon was bright I was left by all my might.
Trembling I lay in my bed. If I could, I would have fled.

She was knocking all the time. Her concern was very prime.
Water dropped from her long hair, was she only my nightmare?

Mother quickly took the comb, threw away it from my home.
Prompt she was to lock the door, she wished troubles no more.

When we got rid of the maid, to the Lord she humbly prayed.
Then she scolded me in time, stealing things was such a crime.

Since that time I understood, let it be a thing or food.
Not to touch and not to take what was left not for my sake.

tatar fairy tales

Tukay G.M.
Translated from Tatar into English by Aydar Shamsutdinov

See also: colouring Water Maid