Russian Fairytale: The Spotted Hen

Russian: Курочка Ряба, Kurochka Ryaba

Once upon a time there lived Grandma and a Grandpa. They were very poor, and often went hungry.

One of their few earthly belongings was a hen, which laid very few eggs. One day the hen laid a golden egg. Grandpa set it on the table and called his wife. They discussed what they should do with the egg. Grandpa thought that if they took it to the tsar they might be honored as nobles and given some land.

"But what good is it to be nobles if we have no finery?" Grandma asked.

"We should take the egg instead to the market and fill our house with silks and porcelain."

"But how can we prove to the king that we are not just merchants or thieves if we have sold the egg?" countered Grandpa. And the old couple began to argue.

The Spotten Hen Fairytale Illustrated on a Nesting Doll
An egg shaped nesting doll featuring a painting from The Spotted Hen.

As they were arguing, a little mouse ran by and knocked the egg on the floor. As it hit the floor, it became an ordinary egg, and broke, leaving only a mess on the floor. Grandpa and Grandma were left with nothing. They were very sad.

But the hen reassured them: "Don’t worry," she said, "I will provide you with an egg every day, and you will never go hungry." And she did, so Grandma was making the sunny-side-up eggs for Grandpa every morning from then on. The couple lived their remaining years with a constant supply of eggs.

The moral of the story is that one shouldn’t rely on temporary riches, and should be happy with the little daily things that provide life.

"Riches and land will come and go, and so will the tsar’s favor; so I’ll be content with an egg each day, and my family’s love for flavor."

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