viernes, 2 de junio de 2017

THE FLYING SHIP: A SLAVIC STEAMPUNK TALE

THE FLYING SHIP: A SLAVIC STEAMPUNK TALE



0

There was an old peasant couple and they had three children: two boys and one girl. The two elder sons were rather strong and clever, but the girl was--how to put this politely?--well, she was a regular dunce.
 There was once a man named John Duns Scotus and there were people who attacked his writings because they thought they were stupid. Hence, the word dunce for stupid. I don't know the writings of this John Duns Scotus, but I think most everyone has heard of the word dunce. How would you like to be remembered in the way John Duns Scotus is remembered?
 The two clever lads were appreciated by their parents for their cleverness, but the youngest daughter was always getting in the way, and her parents had no patience with her. She was always following her brothers and parents around and asking them, "Why this?" and "Why that?" It was one question after another like she didn't know anything. "Why does the sun rise in the east and set in the west?" "Why is the sky blue and not green?" "Why do cats go meow and dogs go ruff?" "Why do we have five fingers on each hand and not four or seven?" "Why are there twelve notes in a musical scale?" "How can light be made up of both waves and particles?" "Why do I have to go to bed so early?"


1


One day, it was announced in the village that the Czar had issued a decree offering his daughter, the princess, in marriage to whoever should build a ship that could fly. The two older sons, who were so incredibly clever, decided if nothing was ventured, nothing was gained, and told their parents they were going to go travel around and see if they could learn from watching various winged bugs, birds, and bats how to build a ship that could fly.
"If a bird or a butterfly can figure out how to fly, then one of you should certainly be able to as well. You're both much cleverer than birds or bats," their parents said.
 "Can I come with you?" the girl asked. "I could help."
But the brothers only laughed.
Their parents gave them new sets of clothes, some food and money and many best wish kisses. The husband and wife even cried tears of loss and of pride as they stood on their stoop and waved farewell to the two clever youths as they set off to explore the world of winged things.
 When her elder brothers had gone, the poor simpleton began to pester her mother that she should give her a new set of clothes as well, and food and money and let her go off to try her luck at finding out how to build an airship like her brothers.
"The Czar has promised his daughter to whoever can build the ship," the elderly mother protested. "You can't marry a princess! Are you so stupid you don't know that?"
"I'm not sure I really care about marrying the czar's daughter," the simpleton replied. "I'm also not sure I'd want to marry someone who looks down on peasants. She can marry someone else if she prefers. I just want to go out in the world like my brothers to try my luck at finding out how to build an airship."
 "You, of all people, would never learn how to build an airship," the mother replied.
 "Why not?" asked the girl.
 "What would become of a dolt like you," her mother said. "You don't have the good sense to save yourself from drowning if you fell face first into a puddle of water nose deep."
But the girl kept repeating, "I will go, I will go, I will go!" So, seeing that nothing could be done with her, her mother gave her a crust of brown bread and a bottle of water and sent her off on her way.
When the simple girl had gone a short distance she met a little greenish colored man. If eating lots of carrots can give your skin an orange tint, she considered, then maybe a diet of greens would make you green. They said, "Hello!", "Hello!" to one another, and the little man asked the girl where she was going. She told the little man, "I'm going to the Czar's Court. He has promised to give his daughter to whoever can make a flying ship."


2



 "Do you want to marry the czar's daughter?" the little green man asked.
 "I don't care so much about that," said the girl. "All I want to do is make an airship because I think it would be fun to fly through the air rather than have to walk. It would be great fun to look down from the ship and watch everyone else walking, especially my brothers."
 "And can you make such a ship?" the green man asked.
 "If I could I'd have made it already. Maybe later," the girl said.
 "Then why are you going to the Royal Court?"
 "Can't tell," the girl said.
"Can't tell, or won't tell," the green man asked.
 "What do you mean by that?" the girl said.
 "Ah, yes, if that's the case," said the little man, "come, sit down beside me. We'll rest for a bit and have something to eat. Give me what you have got in your satchel. You at least set out with some food didn't you?"
The simple girl was ashamed to show what she had in her satchel, which was only an old crust of hard. brown bread. But she thought it better not to act inhospitably, so she opened the satchel to give the little man her crust of brown bread, and could scarcely believe her eyes. There, instead of the hard crust, were two fresh large brioche buns, some cold lunch meat, and two great heads of green, leafy lettuce. Trying to not act surprised, so the little man wouldn't think she didn't know what was in her own satchel, she shared the buns and lunch meat and lettuce with him.
 After eating all the lettuce, the little man licked his lips and said, "Now, go into the woods over there, stop in front of the first tree, bow three times, then strike the tree with your axe, fall on your knees on the ground with your face on the earth and remain there untill you are raised up. You will then find a ship at your side. Step into it and fly to the palace. My only demand is if you meet anyone on the way, be hospitable enough to take that person with you."
 "An axe?" the girl scratched her head. "I don't have an axe."
 "Of course you do," said the little man. "Now, go over to the woods like I told you."
 The girl looked and saw at her side was an axe. Where had that come from? Perhaps she had been carrying it and forgot about it. That was just as plausible, if not more so, than it appearing out of thin air.
The simple girl thanked the man very kindly, bade him farewell, and went across the road to the woodland.

3

 When she got to the first tree, she stopped in front of it. She bowed three times. She struck the tree with the axe, then fell on her knees with her face on the earth and promptly fell asleep. When she woke up and realized what had happened, it seemed a little strange to her, but she reasoned that perhaps she only needed a nap.
 Rubbing her eyes, she stood and blinked, and blinked again, then blinked once more for good measure, for at her side was a ready-made ship. It was not the kind of ship you saw on the sea or on freshwater, but it was certainly an airship for it was hovering a little off the ground. This was before the time of any type of aircraft, or even zeppelins, had been invented. The girl should have been drop-dead surprised when she saw the craft, but as the little green old man had told her to expect it she was simply (yes, simply) excited at her good fortune.
The girl climbed into the silver ship, and the ship rose and rose, and in another minute was flying through the air. The simple girl, remembering that she must be on the look-out for anyone traveling on the road below, looked down out of the ship and saw, on the highway beneath her, a man who was kneeling with his ear pressed to the damp ground. "Hello," she called out to him, "what are you doing down there?"
"Hello!" the man called back. "Are you an angel riding Ezekiel's chariot?"
The girl replied, "I'm no angel but I can't tell you that this isn't Ezekiel's chariot, for I don't know what Ezekiel's chariot is and I don't know what this is except that it is an airship. Anyway, what are you doing down there?"
 "I'm listening to what is going on in the world," replied the man.
 "I'm supposed to give you a ride in my ship," said the girl.
 "How do you know that?" the man, Earnest, asked.
 "The little green fellow who gave me the ship told me so."
 The man was only too glad not to have to continue walking, and got in the ship with the girl. And the ship flew, and flew, and flew through the air, until again from her outlook the simple girl saw, on the highway below, a man who was hopping on his left leg while the right leg was tied up behind his ear--if you can imagine that. The girl hailed him, calling out, "Hello! What are you doing, hopping on one leg with the other tied behind your ear? Are you a circus contortionist or a swami yogi?"


4

The girl knew that Eastern yogis often put their bodies in peculiar and strenuous positions. You see, the brain has what we can rather say are highways down which one's thoughts travel, and after a while the road map is pretty well set. The highways become habitual. Yogis put their bodies in peculiar and strenuous positions, called asanas, in order to break the habituated highways in the brain.
 "Hello!" the man called back to the girl. "Am I sleeping?" "No," the girl called back. "You are wide awake. And I am wide awake too, which is important news for you, since it means I'm not dreaming you."
"It's good to hear that," said the man. "As for what I'm doing, I can't help it. I walk so fast that unless I tie up one leg I would be at the ends of the Earth in a single bound."
 "The Earth is round like a ball. There is no end that you have to worry about reaching and accidentally falling over into space," the girl called back to him. "Now, tell me, would you like a ride or not? I'm supposed to pick up any I meet on my way." The man, introducing himself as Lightning, made no objections, but joined the two on the ship. And the ship flew on, and on, and on, until suddenly the simple girl, looking down on the road below, beheld a woman aiming with a gun into the distant sky.
"Hello!" she shouted to the woman. "What are you aiming at? As far as my eyes can see, there is not a single bird, not even a wren, in sight."
 "Hello," the woman called back, strapping on the goggles around her neck. "What are you doing in that silver ship? Are you dead and on your way to heaven?"
 "Of course not," the girl said. "I'm every bit as alive as you are. I just happen to have had the good fortune to bow to a tree, hit it with an axe, kneel with my face on the ground and fall asleep, then wake up to find an airship at my side. Now, tell me, what are you aiming at?"
 The woman answered, "There is no challenge hitting anything I can see within a few miles. My eyes are so sharp, I can hit any flying beast, be it a bat or bird, or even bug, even at a hundred miles' distance. That is the kind of hunting I enjoy."
 "Glad it's not the most dangerous game! Come into the ship with us," the girl said. "I'm supposed to pick up anyone I meet along my way on this highway."
 The huntswoman asked, "I certainly hope that's not to imply if I don't wish to get on your ship, you will have to kidnap me?"
 "I don't know," the girl replied. "It hasn't come to that yet. I have two other gentlemen with me and they were quite glad for the ride."
 "And so shall I be," said the sharp-shooter, who called herself Eagle-Eye, and boarded the craft.


5

The ship flew on, farther and farther, until again the simple girl spied a hefty man on the road below. This one was carrying on his back a rickshaw full of bread. Waving to him, she called out, "Hello! Where are you going?"
 "Hello!" the man with the bread called back. "I must have a fever and am hallucinating from it. I believe I see you riding in an airship, but that's impossible."
 "You aren't hallucinating, and it's not impossible, for I am indeed on an airship," the girl replied.
 "It's good to hear that. Now, as for your question, I'm on my way to fetch bread for my breakfast."
 "Bread? You have got a whole cartload of bread on your back," the simple girl observed.
 "That's nothing," the man told her. "I should finish that in one mouthful."
"You must have a very big mouth, a huge appetite, and the guts to match it," said the girl
"That I do," said the man.
 "Will you come along with me in my ship?" the girl asked.
 "As long as you're asking and not demanding," the glutton said, and joined the party.
The ship mounted again into the air, and flew up and onward, until the simple girl saw the same hefty man walking by the shore of a great lake. He appeared to be looking for something.
 "Hello!" the girl cried out to him. "What are you seeking?"
 "Hello!" the hefty man called back. "Are you a good witch or a wicked witch? I had heard witches could fly through the air, but I thought they did so on brooms. Ah, it's that girl captain of that silver airship!!" 
The girl answered, "I'm neither a good witch nor a wicked witch. Haven't you ever heard that today's magic is tomorrow's science?"
 "So, what kind of science is that craft you're on," the man asked.
 "I don't have a clue," the girl answered and asked him again what he was seeking.
"I want water to drink, I'm so thirsty," replied the fat man.
"But there's a whole lake in front of you," the girl called back. "Why don't you drink some of that?"
"That lake is nothing to me," answered the man. "I would drink it up in one gulp."
"You certainly have a gargantuan thirst," said the girl. "Will you come ride with us? You also seem to be that man who has a gargantuan appetite for solid food; and I also have on board a woman who has gargantuan eyesight, a man with gargantuan hearing, a third man who has a gargantuan running speed, and a fourth man who has a gargantuan capacity for hearing. You would fit right in."


6



 "And what's your own talent?" the hefty man --Om-Nomnivore, or Om-Nom for short-- asked.
 "I can bow before a tree, strike it with an axe, kneel with my face to the ground and fall asleep, then find an airship at my side upon waking," the girl captain replied.
 "An extraordinary talent indeed," the man replied, and climbed into the ship.
 The ship flew farther and even farther, until again the simple girl looked out and this time saw a woodsman walking through the forest beneath, dragging a bundle of wood.
 "Hello!" the girl shouted to him. "Why are you carrying wood through a forest? You are surrounded by all the wood you could ever need."
 "Hello," the man called back. "Riding in such a peculiar boat in the sky, are you a devil? Or a vampire?"
 "No, I'm not a devil, or a vampire either for that matter." the girl captain said. "I'm a simple girl from the countryside."
 "Glad to hear it," the man replied. "This isn't common wood that I'm dragging. If you throw it on the ground, every stick will be changed into an army of soldiers. Call me Stick-Figure."
 The girl invited the man, "Come fly with me in the ship."
 And so the man, dragging the bundle of wood, joined the girl and her crew on the ship, and away the ship flew on, and on, and on, and once more the simple girl looked out, and this time she saw a woman carrying straw in her large white fur overcoat, which appeared to be out of season on that bright summer day.
 "Hello," she called out. "Where are you carrying all that straw to?"
 "Hello," the woman called back. "I have never seen an airship before."
The girl answered, "Well now you have."
 "I'm carrying this straw to the nearest village," the woman said.
 "Is there no straw in the village?" the girl asked.
 "This is quite peculiar straw," the woman animatedly answered her. "It's winter straw. If you strew it about even in the hottest summer, the air at once becomes cold, and snow falls, and frost forms on the windows and treetops, and the people freeze. Thus, I have to wear this coat during the warm seasons to keep those straw-induced winters in check and not freeze everyone within my reach."
 "You are right. That is very peculiar straw," the girl said. "There are times, especially in July, when I have thought it altogether too hot and your straw would have come in very handy. But cooling until you're an icicle seems a bit extreme to me."
The simple girl asked if the woman would join their company as well, and Iceabelle surely did.

7

 At last the silver ship, with its strange crew, arrived at the czar's court. The ruler was having a feast for supper when he saw the ship fly past just outside his window, and he at once sent one of his servants to find out what the huge, strange bird or bug it could be and how it should be classified.
The servant, a little frightened, peeped into the ship and saw the girl and her friends. "What manner of bird or butterfly is this," the servant asked, "that it is hollow and carries people inside of it? Is it not a bird or a bug at all, but a flying egg? How should our scholars and scientists classify you?"
 "This is a flying ship," the girl answered the servant. "Go tell the Czar that a flying ship has arrived at his court."
The servant returned to his liege and told him that the unidentified flying object was but a strange egg which carried a strange assortment of peasants and was a flying ship. The Czar remembered his oath, that he would give his daughter's hand in marriage to anyone who would build an airship, but when he heard that this ship was manned by peasants he thought again about the wisdom or folly of having made such an oath, for he didn't like the idea his daughter might now have to marry a peasant. He thought and he thought about what he should do, and then said to himself, "I know exactly what I shall do. The peasant to whom this ship belongs, I will give him some impossible tasks to perform. That will get rid of him, but we will have to think of a way to make the ship mine."
So, the Czar prepared to send one of his servants to tell the peasants that his command was they should fetch him the water of healing that can be found at the other end of the Earth, and they should have it back to him before he had finished his supper.
 But while the czar was instructing the servant on exactly what he was to say, the first mate of the ship's company, Earnest, the one with the miraculous ears, overheard the czar's words all the way from the ship and reported them to the captain.
"Doesn't he want to come see my marvelous ship?" she asked. "What a bother. I arrive with this ship and already he's sending me out to perform his errands. It would take me at least a year, and maybe my whole life to find this healing water, especially because I don't know what he means by this world's edge business. I tell you, the Earth is round like a ball, not flat like a pancake."
 "Never fear," said Lightning confidently. "I will fetch what His Grace wants. Though the circle signifies the eternal, I know just where the Earth begins and ends."


8


So, when the servant arrived with the Czar's request, the simple girl said, "Tell his majesty that his orders shall be obeyed." And forthwith the swift runner unbound the right foot that was strung up behind his ear and --whooosh!-- there he was at the known world's edge, where the Midgard Serpent with the tail in its mouth lives.
 Drawing the healing water from the wells of the Serpent's eyes, this fastest man thought, "Dear me, that was a rather tiring run. I think I'll rest for a bit before starting back. After all, the way royals dine on one course after another after another, it will be some time before the Czar gets to his dessert." Thus, Lightning threw himself down on the grass and was instantly asleep.
 In the meantime, all the ship's crew was anxiously waiting his return. "What's keeping him?" the first mate with the marvelous hearing said. Getting down on all fours, he put his ear to the ground and listened. "I don't believe this!" he exclaimed. "Our runner is lying on the ground, snoring hard. That's a nice sort of fellow to let us down like this."
The markswoman Eagle-Eye seized her gun, took aim, and, in order to wake the sluggard, fired in the direction of the Serpent's end and beginning, which were one and the same, as you remember.
A moment later, still yawning, the swift runner reappeared with the healing water. "Sorry, I didn't mean to fall asleep on the job."
The Czar was still half-way through supper when he received the news that the healing water had been procured for him.
 What was to be done now? So he thought for a minute of what other kind of impossible task he should ask the owner of the airship to perform, the more absurd the better. "I know," he said to his servant. "Go tell the captain and crew of that airship that they are instantly to eat up twelve roasted cattle and twelve tonnes of French bread."
 Once more, the sharp-eared first mate overheard the czar's words and reported them to the simple girl. "Alas," she sighed. "What is the meaning of this task? Certainly it must mean something more than it appears to, it is such a ridiculous demand. Anyway, what am I to do? It would take us a year, possibly our whole lives, to eat up twelve whole cattle and twelve tonnes of bread. Already my stomach feels quite ill."
"Never fear," said Om-Nom, patting his gut. "I'm starving!! Twelve cattle and twelve tonnes of French bread will scarcely be enough to fill me..."

9


Twelve whole roasted cattle and twelve tonnes of bread were brought to the ship. And Om-Nom sat down to eat and at one sitting, all by himself, he devoured it all. "I wish they'd brought some more. It seems I'm never satisfied," he said, licking his fingertips.
 "Oh no," said the sharp-eared Earnest, his ear to the ground, "the Czar has already come up with our next chore. He's ordered that forty casks of Rhenish wine, containing forty gallons each, are to be drunk up on the spot by the owner of the airship and crew..."
 "Alas," exclaimed the simple girl, "what am I to do? It would take us a year, possibly our whole lives even, to drink so much wine. And think of the throbbing in our heads afterwards!"
 "Never fear, here's Om-Nom to the rescue again!! All of that beef made me really thirsty, so I'll drink it all up at one gulp, see if I don't!" And sure enough, when the forty casks of Rhenish containing forty gallons each were brought to the ship, they disappeared down the thirsty comrade's throat in no time. "I'm still thirsty, and still sober," he said afterward. "It seems I'm never satisfied. I should have been glad to have two more casks."
 Then the Czar sent an order to the captain of the airship to have a steam bath in a sauna on the royal palace grounds, and after, that the betrothal to his daughter would take place.
 "I don't believe I want to marry the Czar's daughter," the simple girl said, but went anyway as she'd been commanded to do.
 Now, the sauna was located in a garden cottage all clad within with iron, and the Czar gave orders that it was to be heated to such an intense degree that it would steam the captain of the airship to death. The sharp-eared mate heard this and said to the woman with the straw that would freeze the air on the hottest day, "Run, Iceabelle, quick, they plan to suffocate, or steam, our captain!." So, just as the simple girl stepped into the sauna room and discovered the iron walls were red hot, immediately behind her entered the woman with the straw. She scattered it about, and the red-hot changed to icy blue; the walls cooled so the whole room became cold as the South Pole. "You know, it's so cold that I don't think I'll be able to bear taking a snow bath," the simple girl said. "Anyway, the water's frozen. It looks like if I'm going to have to marry the Czar's daughter, it will be with dirty feet." In the morning, when the royal household's servants opened the door, there she was safe and sound sitting atop the stove with some bath towels wrapped around her waist for warmth. "It was unbearable," she told the servants, chattering her teeth. "It's just like a freezer in here."


10



 The girl returned to the airship where the quick-eared friend and first mate informed her that the czar had now ordered that the owner of the airship should instantly raise an army for him. "I guess since I didn't take that steam bath," said the girl, "His Grace decided he didn't want me to marry his daughter today after all. As if he thinks I have nothing better to do with my time than do all his chores, now he puts this task on me. I fear I'm done for this time. I know nothing about raising armies."
"Have you forgotten about me?" said Stick-Figure, the friend who had dragged the bundle of wood through the forest. "Remember my special wood?"
 In the meantime, a messenger in livery, who had run all the way from the palace with this new command, reaching the ship panting and out of breath, delivered the royal decree.
 "I will raise an army for the Czar," the simple girl said. "But if, after that, he still refuses to have his daughter marry me, I will declare war upon him, wage war against him, and carry the princess off by force!!"
 "But I thought you didn't want to marry the princess," Earnest replied to the captain after the messenger had gone.
 "He is an annoying king," replied the girl. "Do you know he has yet to come out and take a look at my fine airship? And I so wanted to show it off to him. Well, maybe if I marry his daughter he will be forced to give me a personal how-do-you-do, and then he will come out and see what a fine airship I have. What do you think?"
 "I think he will only be more annoyed with you," said the sharp-eared friend.
 During the night, the simple girl and her friend who carried the special wood went out together into a big field, one so vast that the Czar's army used it for military maneuvers and reviews. There, Stick-Figure spread the wood out in all directions, and in a moment a mighty army stood upon the spot, regiment on regiment of cannon, horse, and footsoldiers. The bugles sounded, the drums were beat, the bagpipes whined, the chargers neighed, and the multitudes of soldiers presented arms.
 In the morning, when the Czar awoke, he was startled by these warlike sounds, the bagpipes, the drums, the bugles, the clatter of the horses, and the shouts of legions of officers and soldiers. Stepping to the window, he saw the bayonets gleam in the sunlight and the glitter of armour and weapons. "It's my own fault," he thought, "I have undone myself with this last request of mine. I am powerless in comparison with the owner of the airship."


11



And thus, the Czar sent to the captain of the airship a mess uniform and costly jewels, and commanded the owner to come to the palace to be married to the princess. The simple girl put on the royally glittering coat and breeches, which were far too big for her, then went to the palace. When she entered with her friends, the Czar stared right past her, as if he was expecting someone else. The simple girl said to him, "Any moment I will be married to your daughter and this is how you treat me. You won't even look at me. I would expect you to be more courteous. You could at least come outside and admire my fine airship."
"Y-you're the c-captain of the airship?!" the Czar stuttered, mouth agape. "All this time I thought you were a gentleman. I shouldn't have worried about my daughter marrying a peasant, for though you may be a peasant, you're also a girl, so certainly you don't want to marry my daughter... not to say that you surely love her... Anyway... This country, and especially the Court and the Church, are steeped too deep in the past. What do you want, then? Why didn't you inform me before now you were not a man? Silly dunce, have you no brain at all?"
The simple girl replied, "My mother used to tell me I wouldn't have the good sense to save myself from drowning if I fell face first into a puddle of water, nose-deep."
So the czar thought hard about this. He thought very, very hard. He was calling over his servant to go get a bucket of water and pour it out onto the floor when the simple girl said, "I have learned a great trick. Do you want to see me do it? I can breathe through my ears."
 Have you ever seen someone breathe through their ears? It is a strange sight. Don't try it at home though. That would be a simpleton thing to do.
 Finally someone thought to ask the princess to come to her own wedding. When the princess heard what was going on she adamantly refused to be married to someone so stupid (even though our shero, as we have seen, wasn't stupid, but just bright in her own special way!), or rather to be married to another maiden (after all, our princess was straight through and through), so that took care of that. In fact, she was so humiliated, that she refused to leave her room.
 By now, the czar had thought things over several times and decided it wouldn't be such a bad idea to have such a resourceful girl as the owner of the airship on his side. He told the simpleton she must marry him and be his queen, his czarina.
"No," the simple girl said. "I won't marry you. When I think about it, I realize you have been rather rude to me. Why should I want to marry someone who is so rude to me?" Still dressed in her mess uniform and jewels, the simple girl turned on her heel and walked out of the royal court.


12



 "I promise I'll change," the Czar said, following her out to the airship. This was very unusual that a girl would refuse to marry royalty. It's almost never happened in fairytales. And he didn't know what to think of it. "You can't turn me down," the czar insisted, becoming angry, as the captain, followed by her friends, climbed back into the airship. "If you refuse to marry me, I will take your airship anyway. I hereby declare, by royal decree, that your airship is mine. I am your king. You are my subject. You must obey! Come down out of that airship now! All the land around you that you see, as far as you can see, is mine! Whatever is on it is mine! Its crops are mine! Its people are my subjects! They are mine to command! Your airship is on my land, and it is, therefore, rightfully mine!"
 "If that is how it is with you kings, I think from now on I will live in the air, in my airship," the simple girl called back, as the ship rose into the sky. "Or do you think you own the air as well? At night, when you look into the sky, do you tell yourself you own every star that you see? The moon? Will you chain the sun, Venus, Mars, and every cloud that passes over your kingdom, and anchor them to the ground and claim them as yours?"
And thus, the airship flew away, with the simple girl and her companions on board.
"I don't think that was an airship after all," the czar said to himself after a bit. "I think that girl and her companions were all devils, and the airship was a devilish apparition. We are very lucky they are gone, yes indeed. Do you see now how cunning I was that I was able to run those devils off?"
On the airship, the first mate with the extremely sharp ears told the simple girl what the ruler was saying.
The simple girl said, "I have heard that somewhere, hidden by a cloud, is a fairy kingdom in the sky. What say we go look for it?"
 And they did. But that's the subject of quite another adventure, and perchance it will be told some other time. 


Is her desire to win the princess' hand in marriage? Well, the protagonist always responds, she hasn't given it that much thought--her motivation is simply the desire for the flying ship. And, in the end, the princess having rejected her, the comic heroine, or rather shero, rejects the king (whereas in typical tales she would have accepted him) because he has treated her rudely and is so proud as to think he rules the universe, which she proves he does not by his lack of control over her in her flying ship. 

Perhaps in former generations the flying ship was imagined as a ship with sails as one might find on the sea. But how she comes about the ship is through a meeting with a little magical man, and I have integrated that with today's tales of UFOs. Not that today's classical UFOs were unknown in earlier times--for there are accounts of them and, curiously, they have in some of these old accounts been connected with appearing during battles and swaying victory to one side or another, just as here the flying ship's captain and her helpmates succeed in battle against the czar with the miracle of the army arising from the scattered wood.

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