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Beksolta Who Could Grab Three Lions In One Swoop

[A Chechen folk-tale, translated from a Russian translation available here.]

Once upon a time there lived a man and his wife. They had a son on whose arm was written: “Beksolta who can catch three lions in one swoop.” But in fact, the boy was such a coward that he scarcely stepped out of his house in the daytime, leave alone catch lions.

“He will never become a man if in fifteen years he has never set foot outside the house,” said his parents. “We cannot look after him forever.” They took Beksolta into the forest and left him there. The boy, fearing that wolves would attack him, immediately climbed a plane tree.

Meanwhile, one of the nearby villages was being savaged by a wolf. People were beginning to give up all hope of ridding themselves of this scourge. When they  set out hunting that day, they came across Beksolta perched high on the branch. They turfed him out of the tree and asked him:

“What are you doing here?”

“Well, I’m here hunting lions,” replied Beksolta, shivering with fear. He held out his arm so that the people could see what was written on it. The hunters were pleased to have found such a brave man. The whole village got to hear of him, and people gossiped about Beksolta, who had miraculously appeared in their midst.

“Here is Beksolta who can catch three lions in one swoop,” they said to each other happily, “He will kill the wolf that has been besieging our village.”

The villagers armed the boy and sent him back into the forest on the trail of the predator.

“I’ll hide near where the wolf dwells, and you drive him to me,” he said, climbing the plane tree, terrified that the wolf would carry him off.

Presently, the wolf, heading to the village, passed by the plane tree. Beksolta looked down, and seeing the wolf, froze in his fright, fell off the tree onto the animal and broke its back. Dragging the carcass behind him, he came back to the village.

“How did you manage to kill the wolf?” asked the villagers, astounded.

“As soon as the wolf came near  me,” said Beksolta, “I grabbed him and twisted him and broke his spine.”

Beksolta’s fame soon resounded through the district, and the villagers made much of him.

Shortly thereafter, a quarrel between Beksolta’s village and a neighbouring town began to escalate into outright violence. The villagers went to Beksolta seeking his advice on what to do.

“We will fight them,” said Beksolta. “Bring me a herd of horses so that I can choose one for my own.”

Bearing a wooden nail, Beksolta went to the middle of the herd. Walking past the horses, he poked them with the nail, and, ignoring those that jerked away from the nail, he finally found a stallion that shrugged off the irritation. Beksolta had thought to find himself a horse so dull that it would fall back during the battle ahead, but, ironically, he found himself a horse of fortitude that had never once before been in battle. The villagers were amazed at his choice of an untested horse, but they prepared themselves for the fight, and stood awaiting the enemy. As soon as the enemy was seen, Beksolta’s horse reared and charged full-tilt towards them, leaving his cohorts behind. The boy, fearing that the horse, in the heat of its passion, would hurtle further into battle, somehow guided it between two wooden columns that were standing upright in the ground. As the horse charged between them, Beksolta, trying to slow it down, snatched at the poles, and uprooted them.

The horse, suddenly enthralled by the fighting, tore into the midst of the battle, and charged wildly up and down the field. Clutching onto the wooden columns for dear life, and waving them about desperately, Beksolta laid the enemy low left and right, and flattened their forces single-handedly.

Victorious, the villagers returned home with the boy. Unwillingly having performed feats of valour twice, Beksolta became the most famous man in the region. And the words “Beksolta, who can grab three lions in one swoop” firmly became his motto.

Categories: chechnya, folk tales, russia

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