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.
IN a certain kingdom in a certain land lived a Tsar, - Bail Bailyanyin. He had a wife, Nas-tasya, Golden Tress, and three sons, - Pyotr Tsare-vich, Vassili Tsarevich, and Ivan Tsarevich. The Tsaritsa went with her maidens and nurses to walk in the garden. All at once such a mighty Whirlwind rose that, God save us! it caught the Tsaritsa and bore her it was unknown whither.
The Tsar was grieved and distressed, and knew not what to do. His sons grew up, and he said to them: "My dear children, which of you will go to seek your mother?"
The two elder brothers made ready and went. After they had gone, the youngest begged permission of his father. "No," said the Tsar, "go not, my dear son; do not leave me an old man in loneliness".
"Let me go, father; I want awfully to wander over the white world and find my mother".
The Tsar dissuaded and dissuaded, but could not convince him. "Well, there is no help for it, go; God be with thee!"
Ivan saddled his good steed and set out. He rode and rode, whether it was long or short: a tale is soon told, but a deed is not soon done; he came to a forest. In that forest was the richest of castles. Ivan Tsarevich entered a broad court, saw an old man, and said, "Many years' health to thee!"
"We beg the favor of thy presence. Who art thou, gallant youth?"
"I am Ivan Tsarevich, the son of Tsar Bail Baily-anyin and of Tsaritsa Nastasya, Golden Tress".
"Oh, my own nephew! Whither is God bearing thee?"
"For this cause and that," said he, "I am in search of my mother. Canst thou not tell me, uncle, where to find her?"
"No, nephew, I cannot; with what I am able, with that I do service. But here is a ball; throw it ahead, it will roll on before thee and lead thee to steep, rugged mountains. In those mountains is a cave, enter it; take there iron claws, put them on thy hands and thy feet, and climb up the mountains. Perhaps thou wilt find there thy mother, Nastasya, Golden Tress".
That was good aid. Ivan Tsarevich took leave of his uncle, and threw the ball before him; the ball rolled and rolled on, he rode behind it. Whether it was long or short, he saw his brothers, Pyotr Tsare-vich and Vassili Tsarevich. They were encamped in the open field with thousands of troops. His brothers were surprised, and asked, "Where art thou going, Ivan Tsarevich?"
"Oh!" said he, "I grew weary at home, and I thought of going to look for my mother. Send your army home, and let us go on together".
They sent home the army, and the three went on together after the ball. While yet at a distance they saw the mountains, - such steep and lofty mountains that, God save us! they touched the heavens with their heads. The ball rolled straight to a cave. Ivan Tsarevich slipped down from his horse and said to his brothers, "Here, brothers, is my good steed; I will go up on the mountains to look for my mother, and ye remain here. Wait for me just three months. If I am not here in three months, there will be no use in waiting longer".
The brothers thought, but how could a man climb these mountains? He would break his head there.
"Well," said they, "go, with God; we will wait for thee here".
Ivan approached the cave; he saw that the door was of iron. He struck it with all his strength. It opened, he entered; iron claws went on to his feet and hands of themselves. He began to climb the mountains, - climb, climb; he toiled a whole month, reaching the top with difficulty. "Well," said he, "glory be to God!" He rested a little, and walked along on the mountain; walked and walked, walked and walked, saw a copper castle, at the gate terrible serpents fastened with copper chains, crowds of them; and right there was a well, and at the well a copper bucket hung by a copper chain. Ivan Tsare-vich drew water and gave the serpents to drink. They became quiet, lay down, and he passed into the court.
The Tsaritsa of the Copper Kingdom ran out to meet him. "Who art thou, gallant youth?'
"I am Ivan Tsarevich".
"Well, hast thou come of thy own will, or against thy will?"
"Of my own will; I am in search of my mother, Nastasya, Golden Tress. A certain Whirlwind bore her away out of the garden. Dost thou know where she is?"
"No; but not far from here lives my second sister, the Tsaritsa of the Silver kingdom, - maybe she will tell thee".
She gave him a copper ball and a copper ring. "The ball," said she, "will lead thee to my second sister, and in this ring is the whole Copper Kingdom. When thou overcomest Whirlwind, who keeps me here and flics to me once in three months, forget me not, poor woman, rescue me from this place, and take me with thee to the free world".
"I will," said Ivan Tsarevich. He threw the copper ball before him; the ball rolled ahead, and he followed after. He came to the Silver Kingdom and saw a castle finer than the first, all silver; at the gate were terrible serpents fastened to silver chains, and at the side of them was a well with a silver bucket. Ivan Tsarevich drew water and gave the serpents to drink. They lay down then, and let him enter the castle. The Tsaritsa of the Silver Kingdom came out.
"It will soon be three years," said she, "since mighty Whirlwind confined me here, and no Russian have I heard with hearing, or seen with sight; but now a Russian I see. Who art thou, good youth?"
"I am Ivan Tsarevich".
"How didst thou happen hither, - with thy own will, or against thy will?"
"With my own will; I am in search of my mother. She went in the green garden to walk, Whirlwind came and bore her away, it is unknown whither. Canst thou not tell me where to find her?"
"No, I cannot; but not far from here lives my eldest sister, the Tsaritsa of the Golden Kingdom, Yelena the Beautiful, - maybe she will tell thee. Here is a silver ball, roll it ahead and follow; it will lead thee to the Golden Kingdom. But see, when thou hast killed Whirlwind, forget me not, poor woman; rescue me from this place, and take me to the free world. Whirlwind holds me captive, and flies hither once in two months." Then she gave him a silver ring, saying, "In this ring is the whole Silver Kingdom".