Dmitri (justbeast) wrote,

[Fairy Tales] Second Kaverin tale: Many Good People and One Envier

It's been a while since I posted my first translation of V.A. Kaverin's fairy tales, Of Mitya and Masha, of the Happy Chimneysweep, and of the Master Golden-Hands. Kaverin's "Skazki Goroda Nemuhina" (Tales of Nemuhin) was one of my favorite books when I was growing up; I discovered that there is no English translation available at the moment, and set about translating them.

I realized that I have a second one translated and waiting to be posted, so, here it is. Just as before, I will post a chapter each day.

Kaverin's tales are remarkable in the way they mix the modern world and the fairytale, seamlessly. The first tale was one of strange geographies, of a girl being whisked away to a facist kingdom ruled by Koschei, and of her brother going to rescue her. This next one, about the Great Envier, takes place in the home city, and deals with a brave girl and her friends who is trying to save a sick father.

Also, thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has helped us out. I am still speechless from all the love and support.

Many Good People and One Envier
(by V.A. Kaverin, translated by me)

Chapter 1. Tanya Goes To The Blue Spheres Pharmacy

The Machinist from the Green Plantation Trust was standing by a window, when all of a sudden, "ding!", a golden ring broke the glass pane and, still ringing, rolled under the bed. This was the same ring that she lost -- or thought that she lost -- twenty years ago, on her wedding day.

The Puppet Theater Dentist wanted a drink of water in the night. He got up, and saw in the water pitcher all of the golden teeth that ever went missing from his cabinet.

The Director of the Bathrobe Shop returned from vacation, and found on his desk the golden glasses, which have been stolen from him in the past, when he was not yet the Bathrobe Shop Director. There they lay, sparkling, in their usual spot -- between the ashtray and the letter opener.

In a day or two, this mystery was the talk of the whole town. On each corner, you could hear:

"A silver teacup-cradle..?"

"Ah, that means they're returning not only golden things, but silver too?"

"Yes, imagine it! And even copper ones, if they were polished with powder until they shone."


"Just imagine! In that very same box, from which it was missing!"

"Poppycock. People would not willingly return valuable things."

"Well, who, then?"

"Birds. Professor Foamster insists that it has to be birds, and not the blackbirds, as Professor Mamlugin is trying to prove, but specifically the magpies."

This story began one evening, when Tanya Zabotkina crouched by the door and listened as her mother talked to Doctor Ball. Her father had a bad heart -- this she knew already. What she did not know, was that only a miracle could save him. So said the Chief City-Wide Doctor, and you could not disbelieve him, since he was Chief, and City-Wide, and never made mistakes -- or at least, so claimed his patients.

"Nevertheless," said Dr. Ball, "if I were you, I would at least try and visit the Blue Spheres Pharmacy."

The doctor was old, wore large green glasses, and had a wart on his big nose, which he kept touching and muttering, "Bad habit."

"Oh, but Pyotr Stepanovich!" replied Mom, hotly.

"As you wish. In any case, I shall leave the prescription. The pharmacy is at number five Bear Mountain street."

He left, after sadly touching his wart before the big mirror in the front hall.

Dad was long asleep, and Mom fell asleep, but Tanya kept thinking, "What sort of pharmacy is 'Blue Spheres'?"

When the house became so quiet, that you could hear the cat sigh and scratch behind her ear, Tanya took the prescription, and went off to the Blue Spheres Pharmacy.

For the first time in her life, she was walking down the street at night. The streets were not very dark, just merely darkish. She had to cross the entire town -- now this itself was scary, or at least scaryish. Tanya always figured, that even the toughest things are not so tough, if you called them tough-ish.

And here was number five Bear Mountain street. It has recently rained, and the building entrances shone, as if drawn in sketching ink on black glossy paper. One of them, with a wide open door, took on such an air, as if it was saying "Come in, please, and we'll think of something." But under this very entranceway, she could see blue lanterns glowing in the windows. On one of the lanterns was written, "Welcome To", and on the other, "Our Pharmacy".

A small, grey haired, long nosed man in a shabby green suit stood behind the counter.

The pharmacist, thought Tanya.

"No, Healer-Pharmacist," the man objected brightly.

"My apologies. May I please order this medicine?"

"No, you may not."


"Because, until July first, the Chief Advisor On Healing Herbs is in charge of miracles. If he gives permission, I will prepare the medicine for you."

He walked out, leaving Tanya all alone.

And what a pharmacy it was! Bottles stood on the shelves - big bottles, small ones, and the very smallest, in which you could barely fit a single tear. Porcelain squirrels, crouched on hind legs, were hidden between them. These too were bottles, for holding only the rarest medicines. On the matte glass along the counter, a sign flickered on and off, "Antiscoundrelin". While Tanya was pondering what this strange word could mean, the door opened, and a pudgy boy, peering about as if scared, entered the pharmacy. This was Petya, the very same boy that she met last year at the Pioneer summer camp. But the thing was, Petya did not resemble himself! The lapels of his jacket were turned up, and his hat slid down to his ears.

"Hello, Petya! I'm so glad that we met! Now it won't be as scary to return home."

"If you're scared," objected Petya, "you can buy some anti-fear pills, which I don't need, because I don't fear anything. And also, I am not Petya at all."

But of course, this was Petya! And, of course, he came to buy anti-fear pills. But he was embarassed when he saw Tanya, and so tried to pretend that he was not Petya at all.

"You silly boy," Tanya began, but in that very moment, the Healer-Pharmacist returned.

"The Advisor does not permit it," he said, from the door. "He is in a foul mood today."

"Please, give me back the prescription," Tanya asked. "Where does he live? The Chief City-Wide Doctor said, that only a miracle can save my father."

"Good heavens, hush," said the Healer-Pharmacist, wincing painfully. "I have a bad heart, and I feel very sorry for you, which isn't healthy for it. I have to look after myself, after all. Take the prescription. He lives at number three, Kozihinskaya street."

Chapter 2 >
Tags: fairy tales, kaverin
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