As Ilya rode along, the road split into three paths.
There was a stone, on which was written: “Whosoever
goes to the right will be killed; whosoever goes to the
left will be rich; whosoever goes straight will be married.”
cover of Bilini, a book of tales about Ilya.
“Why does an old man like me need wealth?” pondered
Ilya Murometz. “I
have neither wife nor children, no one to wear a fancy dress.
Should I really go to be married?
A young wife wouldn’t be suitable, but an old one
would try to domesticate me.
That kind of an old age is not for Ilya Murometz.
I will take that road which leads to death.
I will die on an open field, like renowned bogatyr!”
So he rode down the path that led to death.
A sweep of the hat.
had only ridden three versts, not even a mile, when
forty bandits fell on him.
They wanted to drag him from his horse, rob him,
and beat him to death.
But Ilya said, “You bandits, there is nothing to
steal from me. All I have is a marten-fur coat worth five
hundred rubles, a mink-fur hat worth three hundred, a bridle
worth five hundred rubles, and Circassian saddle worth two
thousand. And between Burushka’s ears is a diamond. On fall nights, it burns like the sun, so that everything within
three versts is illuminated.
Also there is my Burushka: No other creature like
this priceless one exists in the world.
For such a trifling, is it really worth it to cut
off the head of an old man?”
opening illustration of Bilini's version
of "The Three Journeys of Ilya Murometz."
The bandits’ leader replied, “Listen how he ridicules
us! You old devil! You speak too much! Off with his head!”
Ilya dismounted from Burushka-Kosmatushka and began
to wave his hat. With
one sweep of the hat, ten bandits were struck down.
After the second—already twenty had perished!
The leader pleaded, “Don’t kill us all! Take from us gold, silver, or herds of horses.
Just leave us alive!”