Fairy Tale about the Last Hunt
Anechka came into the room of grandpa Vanya to listen to a new fairy tale as usual.
There was a big photo of him on the wall. On this photo, young grandpa Vanya posed on a horse and in a military uniform.
Anechka liked this portrait very much. Grandpa Vanya was so handsome on it! And the horse matched him very well!
Grandpa Vanya was still handsome in his old age. His body was tall, with broad shoulders, strong hands, and a fluffy grey moustache.
Anechka loved to brush this moustache with a small comb and turn up the ends of it on her fingers when grandpa Vanya permitted that.
They both dreamed about buying horses to ride together, but their dreams did not come true yet. That is why Anechka often imagined, when she rode her bike, that it was her faithful horse! And when she was going to ride a bike with her dad, they would even exclaim: “Saddle up!” Anechka even learned to sit on her bicycle like on a horse, “in a masculine way”, so that she could learn to jump on a horse quickly later on!
However, this time Anechka, having looked at that photo, asked grandpa Vanya about something different:
“Tell me, grandpa, were you in a war?”
“I was, Anechka, but I will not tell you about this now.
“War brings a lot of sorrow to people! It’s not fairy tales when soldiers gallop on horses against tanks, because their commanders ordered them to do so.
“It’s terrible when there is war! Then people, horses, and other animals are maimed and killed. There is so much terrible pain during wars!
“Even if war is for justice, it’s not joyful either!
“I wish that you never see what happens at war!”
Anechka started profoundly thinking about this and said:
“My friends and I played war this summer. They are boys. They like to play war. And I played with them. For fun, we shot a toy pistol and a toy shotgun at an imaginary adversary and, of course, we won. It was interesting to hide and to lie in ambush without moving.
“So, that means it’s bad to shoot, to play war?”
“Anechka, you should think about this yourself and decide what is bad and what is good, and why!”
“Do you remember how I promised to tell you what magic wish I would like to make?” asked Anechka.
“I do remember. Did you think it up?”
“At that time I couldn’t, but now I know! I wish that war never happens! Will my wish come true?”
“Your wish is good, Anechka! But it seems it’s not enough that only you wish so! A lot of people must wish the same thing for it to come true!
“It’s important for everyone to understand both what is good, and therefore needs to be done, as well as what causes harm to others and, consequently, is bad!
“If there is no harm for others, the action may be done. If, additionally, your action is useful for others, it is even better!
“It’s always good to think about this!
“Let me tell you how I understood this about hunting when I went to hunt for the last time.”
“Were you a hunter?”
“I was, Anechka!
“Hunting is similar to war to a certain degree. But hunters do not think about this at all, and I myself didn’t think this either. It never occurred to me that it is a sin to shoot at birds and other animals!
“Many people hunt, and it’s a custom that comes from ancient times. That’s why I didn’t think about that…
“I liked to hunt, for it is so nice to spend a night near a fire in the forest in the open air, to listen to the silence of the night, and to see the sunrise!
“Hunters often hide and lie in ambush for a long time while waiting and observing birds and other animals. They even adapt special places to have a possibility to shoot a bird or other animal from a better position.
“Such a place is called ‘a hunting blind’, and from it, a hunter can see all the surroundings without being seen by animals.
“It’s interesting to be in it, listening to the songs of birds and watching how the sun rises! It’s possible to see so much beauty in the morning forest from it!
“What birds do you know, Anechka?”
Anechka thought over it and started enumerating:
“I know sparrows, pigeons, crows, starlings, bullfinches, ducks, swans…”
“Maybe, you know geese too?”
“I only read about them and saw them on TV. But I didn’t see real geese.”
“There are birds that live near humans. But when I was a hunter, I saw so many different forest birds and listened to theirs beautiful songs. Such birds are wood grouses, woodcocks, snipes, and black grouses.
“Well, we digressed.
“At that time, I hunted for ducks and had a hunting blind made of reeds. I was sitting in it and observing.
“Soon I saw a nice drake swimming. A drake is a male duck. It has dark green feathers on its head and a little white strip on its neck, while female ducks are fully covered with brown feathers. They need to disguise themselves because they hatch eggs and then look after their nestlings.
“So, this beautiful drake was swimming without seeing me.
“I admired it! I even began to think that, maybe, I should not shoot it and take pity on such a beautiful bird.”
“What would you do, Anechka, in my place? Would you take pity?”
“Sure, I would take pity!” said Anechka confidently.
“I, on the contrary, thought over this for some time and then decided that it was my weakness that appeared from the contemplation of this beauty!
“I was an experienced hunter, and this had never happened to me before. I thought: ‘Beauty is beauty, but the thing should be done! How much game I shot during my entire life! Black grouses, partridges, hares! I even hunted for wild boars and elks! Why did I become so sentimental all of the sudden? I don’t understand! Other hunters are shooting nearby. If I do not shoot this drake, another hunter will do so! The hunting season is open now!’
“So I took aim again and it seemed to me that I even squeezed the trigger, but then something extraordinary happened! Believe me or not, but I flew like a bullet instead of pellets and found myself in the body of that drake! I was moving with my paws and swimming, but I still was thinking like a human…
“Or, maybe, ducks can think too? I don’t know.
“Although I had turned into the drake, I remembered that I was a hunter and that I took aim.
“I began swimming to reeds far away from that place.
“However, out of the blue, a boat appeared, and another hunter aimed his gun at me. I began to move my webbed feet faster, flapped my wings, and then took off!
“I’m saved!” I thought.
“When I was a human, I could not fly. But now I could! And this took my breath away! From this height, I could see the whole lake, the forest, and a big river that took its rise from the lake. Such beauty!
“I decided to fly to the river, but it did not work out that way!
“I heard: ‘Pow, pow!’ They were shooting at me.
“I got scared! But there was nowhere to hide: they were shooting at me from all sides!
“Then they hit me.
“I felt terrible pain in my entire body! I understood that the end of my life came. I started falling and passed out from that pain.
“However, it wasn’t the end!
“Suddenly, I found myself in the body of a black grouse. I had black feathers, red eyebrows, and some white feathers on my wings and tail. If I spread my tail like a fan, these white feathers would be quite visible. In short, I felt very very handsome!
“I was sitting on the top of a birch, and the branch under my heavy body was sagging and swinging.
“I looked around. It was so beautiful! Dawn had just begun. The sky was pink, but the sun did not show up yet from behind the forest.
“I wanted to sing very much! Well, it was not spring, but fall, not a very appropriate time for singing!
“But the weather was so beautiful that I was dying to sing!
“So I decided to fly to a mating site and to sing there a little bit while no one was seeing me!
“Black grouses, Anechka, dance on a mating site and sing their songs in spring.
“A mating site of black grouses is a special place where male black grouses gather every morning in spring. Female black grouses also come flying there to admire the singing of males from behind the bushes and to choose a husband for themselves.
“In the course of my entire life as a hunter, I saw many times how black grouses perform their courtship rituals. I used to make a special shelter of branches on their mating place near some bush so that black grouses did not notice me. I got there at night and sat very quietly.
“The silence was all around!
“Black grouses would come flying to their mating place in the dark, while the sun did rise yet.
“Usually it happens like this: you are sitting in a blind, and suddenly a great number of birds come flying noisily and, after looking around, begin running over a mating place and jump up from inspiration! Then they start singing so amazingly that it is difficult to describe this with words! They grandly walk before each other, fluff out their tails, and sometimes even fight against one another to show females who is the boldest among them!
“I saw it many times, but I myself never sang so. And now, in the body of a black grouse, I wanted badly to do this!
“And I sang! And I ran over a mating place, but not for a long time! It was fall, after all.
“And then I wanted to eat very much.
“So I flew back to the birches and sat on a branch where there were a lot of birch catkins swinging. I pecked one of such catkins and really liked it!
I pecked another one! It was so tasty! It was slightly similar to nuts.
“You, Anechka, can taste these birch catkins when you go for a walk or go skiing to a forest. Humans can also eat them!
“Nevertheless, I did not have enough time to satiate myself with birch catkins and completely relish the life of a black grouse! Another hunter aimed at me and fired. I got scared and flew away. But no way! Another shot of this hunter reached me.
“At this point, I died as a black grouse and quite unexpectedly found myself in an elk’s body.
“It was strange, because I did not have arms but just four legs and huge antlers!
“Near me, I saw my girlfriend, an elk cow, on a glade! She was so beautiful! She had slender, long legs and hair that was gleamed with gold!
“We went for a walk side by side in the forest.
“We walked so and ate grass and young branches with small leaves. From time to time, we stopped and snuggled up to each other to show how we love one another!
“Unexpectedly, hunters with dogs appeared!
“We began running. We ran and ran! But they wounded my girlfriend and then killed her...
“I stopped running and thought: ‘Let them kill me or let dogs bite me to death! For there is no happiness for me without my beloved!’
“I felt so sorry for her that I began to cry!
“Then suddenly I recalled my human life and my wife Akulina. What if someone would kill her in the same way, for nothing?!
“That was when I found myself again in a human body. I was sitting in my blind and the drake was swimming right before me without suspecting anything dangerous.
“It turned out that I had not pulled the trigger after all. Now I was so happy about this! I quickly unloaded my gun and went home!
“I picked up a lot of mushrooms on my way back as usual. My Akulina was so surprised, saying:
“Why did you come back with mushrooms from hunting but without game?”
“I smiled behind my mustache. How can I tell her that I love her, my Akulina, as the elk loved his elk cow! And maybe even more!
“That’s why I decided not go to a forest with my gun anymore and never ever shoot birds and other animals!
“Later on, I told Akulina about my adventures!
“She cooked mushroom soup, boiled potatoes, made pancakes, and then said: ‘There is no tastier food than this one! We will live from our vegetable garden and from what the forest will give us!’
“These are the adventures that happened to me, Anechka!
“Since then, I do not shoot anyone!”
“So, it means that it is always bad to shoot and kill?” asked Anechka.
“Yes, it’s always bad! It’s better to avoid this! However, it happens sometimes that we need to protect other good people from villains! In those cases, it is impossible to find another way.”
“But it is possible to always avoid shooting birds and other animals and admire them instead!
“Do you want me to ask my dad to give you a photo camera? He has two of them!”
“Thank you, Anechka, for your consideration! But it will be difficult for me to learn to take photos. But you can learn! You will take pictures of birds, of other animals, and of different kinds of natural beauty!
“It is great that you have started thinking about how to live without causing harm to anyone!
“And always try to act kindly!
“If we think about this from our childhood and if we start implementing our good intentions in our lives, then, maybe, when you grow up, there will be no wars anywhere! People will not kill animals in vain! And all will live together in peace and happiness!”