Tales of the
Steppes, a Trilogy -
and the Elves
winds blew across the Siberian Steppes. Ellya knew snows would be
here before Christmas. Ellya also knew that to survive the cruel
Siberian winter, he would have to get a new warm coat, warm hat,
new winter boots with felt insoles and fur mittens. The clothes
he stood up in now had seen him through the autumn, but would not
see him through a winter in the coldest place on earth.
Ellya had seen 60 summers and 60 winters, a rare feat in this part
of the world. His hard work, wisdom and cunning, had kept him alive.
He worked cutting fallen wood in the forests and selling it as fuel
to the local inhabitants, who used wood burning stoves. It was a
hard way to make a living, out early, back late, cutting, chopping,
pulling his heavily laden cart himself. He would stand in the market
square of the towns and villages, selling faggots of fuel.
But Ellya was
getting older and more tired, journeys took longer, fallen
wood became scarcer. This winter Ellya realised he must work
closer to home, to cut more wood, to earn more money for the
Ellya would have to go into the Enchanted Forest. No one went
there, the piles of fallen wood would be huge, but what about
the elves Ellya thought. Everyone knew the elves were very
jealous of the Enchanted Forest and would harry and frighten
anyone brave enough to enter, no - one was brave enough to
enter, no - one would dare. Ellya, knew he must get the wood;
the elves can do as they please, I need my winter clothes
Early next morning
before sunrise Ellya set out, pulling his well-greased cart. He
noiselessly made his way to the Enchanted Forest. He entered the
forbidding forest quietly, but as soon as Ellya seen the abundance
of fallen wood he forgot all caution and worked loading his cart.
The elves were watching, silently, angrily watching. They waited
until the cart was nearly full, when Ellya turned from cutting the
last bundle of wood, the cart and all its contents had disappeared.
Ellya knew the elves had taken his cart because he could hear them
laughing in the distance, now Ellya knew he was in trouble his wood
and his cart had gone.
This is a crisis, no cart means no wood, no wood means no warm clothes.
Ellya realised the only way to avoid disaster is to use his wisdom
and cunning. On returning home Ellya thought hard and worked out
a ruse. Having been many years on this earth, a woodsman and out-
doors man, Ellya knew all about the special plants growing all around.
The one in particular, was the resin of a Lattice pine plant. This
was used with other natural plants to make powerful glue. Ellya
often repaired his wooden shingle roof, his cart and 1001 other
things with this strong adhesive.
Ellya also knew how to make a potion with Sage–brush juice to break
down the stickiness of the glue, when he needed to take things apart
for repair. All through the night Ellya worked, preparing the two
concoctions. Next morning very early, Ellya set off for the enchanted
forest. He took with him a piece of rope, his old cart, badly worn
and rickety, but part of the plan.
the old cart by a stout tree in the enchanted forest. He tied
the axle to the stout tree, very tightly. Then he smeared
the sticky glue over the handles and sides of the cart. He
carried on filling the cart, knowing the elves were watching,
waiting, not believing a human would be so silly as to come
to their glade for wood again. Just as Ellya prepared the
last of the wood, he heard the cries and screams of the Elves.
Ellya turned smiling, the elves were stuck fast to the handles
and sides of Ellya’s cart. Struggle as they may they could
not get free. They could not release their hands and could
not move the cart tied firmly to the stout tree.
“Ha”, says Ellya gloatingly. “Now I can take you back to the
village, the villagers would love to get their hands on wicked
elves, who harass and frighten their children. They’d have
special punishments for you.
“Oh please, please
sir, spare us”, pleaded the elves. ‘We only want to protect our
forest from strangers. What can we do for you to release us”, beg
the elves. Ellya scratched his bearded chin, thought deeply, and
then said. “I can set you free, but only if you give me an elf’s
promise you will agree these conditions.
You return my best cart back with all the wood.
You fill my cart every day with wood from your forest
You pull the cart to my home every day so I may sell the wood.
Well what do you say?’
The Elves had to promise and an elf’s promise Ellya knew is never
broken. Ellya then went around each elf pouring the juice over the
Elves hands, which released them from the glue.
The Elves of course were delighted and kept their promise bringing
Ellyas best cart back and transporting all the wood home. This they
done everyday, Ellya soon had his warm clothes and money to spare.
But best of all the elves soon realised by helping Ellya and collecting
all the fallen wood, they were tyding up their forest, clearing
glades and dells making their homes much neater. Ellya did not have
to work at all now, so he used to invite the elves to share his
tea with him. The Elves in return allowed Ellya to visit their forest
and have honey sip and nectar. They knew Ellya would not tell any
one else about their friendship, they trusted him and he trusted
them. Ellya said. ” Of my
sixty summers and winters, this is truly the best”.
Tales of the
Steppes, a Trilogy -
Vasilia the Fair
Contributing Story Teller:
Terry Voyle - ex bricklayer - disabled now writes short stories
to fill in long days.