This section is from the book "Myths And Folk-Tales Of The Russians, Western Slavs, And Magyars", by Jeremiah Curtin. Also available from Amazon: Myths and Folk-Tales of the Russians, Western Slavs, and the Magyars.
"What an unfortunate man," thought Nikita; "for fifty roubles he suffers such torment!" And he said to the blacksmiths: "Listen, brothers: I 'll pay you for him; let the old man go".
"Agreed, good man; it is all the same to us from whom we get the money, so that we have it".
Nikita took out fifty roubles. The blacksmiths took the money, and the moment they freed the old man out of the iron pincers, he vanished from the eye. Nikita looked. "But where is the old man?"
"Oh, look for him now; he is a wizard!"
Nikita ordered them to forge an iron staff of fifty poods. He hurled it up three hundred feet, and held out his hand: the staff stood the test, did not break. "This will do," said Nikita, and rode off to overtake his comrades. All at once he heard a voice behind him. Nikita Koltoma stopped; he looked around, and saw the same old man running after him.
"Thanks to thee," said the old man, "for saving me from cruel torture; I suffered that misery for thirty years exactly. Here is a present to remember me by, - take it; it will be of use to thee;" and he gave him a cap of invisibility. "Just put it on thy head; no man will see thee".
Nikita took the cap, thanked the old man, and galloped on. He overtook his comrades, and all rode together. Whether it was long or short, near or far, they came to a castle; around the castle was a great iron paling; there was no way to enter, on foot or on horseback. The terrible Tsar said: "Well, brother Nikita, there is no passage farther".
Nikita Koltoma answered: "Why not, Great Tsar? I'll go through the whole world but I 'll find thee a bride. This paling is no stop to us. Now, boys, break the paling; open the gate to the wide court!"
The good youths came down from their horses and went at the paling; but no matter what they did, they could not break it, it stood fast.
"Oh, brothers," said Nikita, "ye sail in shallow water! No use in my depending on you; I must work myself".
Nikita sprang from his horse, went to the paling, took it with his heroic hand, pulled once, - the whole paling was on the ground. The terrible Tsar and the young men rode in on the broad court, and there on the green meadow they put up their white woven, gold-embroidered tents, ate what God sent them, lay down, and from weariness slept a sound sleep. Each one had a tent, but there was none for Nikita Kol-toma; he found three worn bark mats, made himself a little hut, lay down on the bare ground. As to sleeping, he slept not; he waited for what would be.
At the morning dawn Yelena the Beautiful woke up in her chamber, looked out through her lattice-window, and saw that thirteen white woven tents were standing on her green meadow, and in front of all a small hut of bark rugs.
"What is this?" thought the Tsarevna; "whence have these guests come? See, the iron paling is broken!"
Yelena the Beautiful was terribly enraged; she called her powerful, mighty hero, and said: "To horse this minute! Ride to the tents and give all those disobedient scoundrels to a cruel death; throw their bodies over the fence, and bring the tents to me.
The powerful, mighty hero saddled his good steed, put on his battle-armor, and went toward the unbidden guests. Nikita Koltoma saw him. "Who goes?" asked he.
"And who art thou, rude fellow, that askest?"
These words did not please Nikita. He sprang out of his hut, caught the hero by the foot, dragged him from the horse to the damp earth, raised his iron staff of fifty poods, gave him one blow, and said: "Go now to thy Tsarevna, tell her to stop her pride, not to waste her men, but to marry our terrible Tsar".
The hero galloped back, glad that Nikita had left him alive, came to the castle, and said to the Tsarevna: "Men of immeasurable strength have come to our place. They ask thee for their terrible Tsar in marriage, and commanded me to tell thee to put an end to thy pride, not to waste thy army in vain, and to marry their Tsar".
When Yelena the Beautiful heard such bold speeches she was roused. She summoned her great, mighty heroes, and began to command them all: "My trusty servants, assemble a countless army, take down these white tents, kill these unbidden guests, that the dust of them be not here".
The great, mighty heroes did not stop long. They collected a countless army, sat on their heroic steeds, and bore down on the white woven, gold-embroidered tents.
As soon as they came to the bark hut, Nikita Koltoma sprang out before them, took his iron staff of fifty poods, and began to wave it at them in different directions. In a little while he had killed the whole army, and of the great, mighty heroes he left but one alive. "Go," said he, "to thy Tsarevna, Yelena the Beautiful, and tell her not to waste her army further. She cannot frighten us with armies. Now I have fought with you alone; what will happen to your kingdom when my comrades wake? We will not leave a stone upon a stone; we will scatter everything over the open field".
The hero returned to the Tsarevna and said: "Thy whole army is slain; against such champions no power can avail." Yelena the Beautiful sent to invite the terrible Tsar to the castle, and then ordered that the sharp arrow be ready; went herself to meet the guests with grace, with honor. The Tsarevna moves on to meet them, and behind her fifty men are bearing the bow and the arrow. Nikita Koltoma saw that that was a hero's bow, and knew at once that it was intended to treat them to the arrow. He put on the cap of invisibility, drew the bow, and aimed the arrow at the Tsarevna's chamber. In one moment he knocked off the whole top of her castle.
There was no help for her now. Yelena the Beautiful took the terrible Tsar by the hand, led him to the white-walled chambers, seated him and his men at the oaken tables with the spread cloths. They began to drink, to eat and rejoice. In the chambers were wonderful ornaments; the whole world might be searched, and the like wouldst thou find nowhere.