Gaevkhaetu and the chieftain’s daughter
Once upon a time, in a large village, there lived a young man called Gaevkhaetu. He woke up early one morning to go cut down some grass. He looked out of the window facing the east, where the sun was rising, and suddenly saw a huge bird flying towards his house. It was bigger that any bird he had seen before. The bird flew over him and landed upon the roof of the chieftain’s house. The chieftain had a daughter, so beautiful that people could not keep their eyes off her. The bird looked around furtively and then disappeared in the chimney.
“What does this bird want to fly into the chieftain’s house for?” thought Gaevkhaetu. Right then, the bird reappeared from the chimney, holding a young woman in its claws. While the bird flew right over him, Gaevkhaetu noticed a silver ring on the woman’s finger. The whole thing looked very suspicious to him, but he had to go and cut down the grass. When he returned to the village, his neighbours told him that the chieftain’s only daughter was missing. The chieftain asked his guards to visit every house in search for his daughter. The guards arrived at Gaevkhaetu’s house and asked him whether he had seen the missing girl. He said, “This morning, I saw a huge bird, bigger than I’d ever seen before, fly east carrying a young woman in its claws. I noticed a shiny ring on her finger. Could she be the chieftain’s daughter?”
The guards then took Gaevkhaetu to the chieftain, and the young man told him what he had seen that morning. The chieftain said to Gaevkhaetu, “Take a hundred warriors and find my daughter! You reward will be generous – you will take my daughter’s hand in marriage.”
Gaevkhaetu and the village warriors set off to the east, where the sun rises and where the bird flew. They walked for a long time and got tired. Eventually they stumbled upon a large hole in the ground. Gaevkhaetu told the warriors to build a log cabin, wrapped a length of rope around the house, got inside, took a bell in his hands and asked the warriors to lower the cabin into the hole.
He said, “As soon as I find the chieftain’s daughter, I will ring the bell thrice. When you hear the bell, pull me up.”
It took Gaevkhaetu a long, long time to reach the bottom. At first, he was surrounded by complete darkness. Them he suddenly saw the light that was getting brighter and brighter as the cabin was being lowered into the hole. After he reached the ground, he walked for a long time until he happened upon a large house. He entered the house and saw the chieftain’s daughter there.
“You shouldn’t be here!” cried the woman. “This is a very dangerous place. My husband is an evil spirit who stole me from my father.”
She gave Gaevkhaetu plenty of food and then hid him under her bed. As soon as she finished cleaning the house, her husband, a sullen, terrifying, red-haired giant arrived, carrying a wild deer he had slain. He threw the deer by his wife’s feet and said, “Go ahead and cook me a dinner. And what with this strange smell in our house?”
“This is how this wild deer smells. I’ll roast it for you right away.”
Having eaten his dinner, the evil spirit asked his wife to search for insects on his head. Just like dogs have flees in their fur, the chieftain daughter’s husband had insects in his red hair. As she began doing it, the evil spirit fell asleep and soon started snoring.
“Gaevkhaetu, Gaevkhaetu,”, whispered the woman, and as soon as she did, the evil spirit suddenly woke up.
“What is it? Who’s Gaevkhaetu?” shouted the evil spirit, but immediately started snoring again, his red hair rising on his head.
“Come out, Gaevkhaetu, he’s fast asleep. See his hair sticking out? His power and his life are contained there. If you cut off his hair, he will die.”
Gaevkhaetu then took a big knife in his hand, cut off the spirit’s red hair, and the evil spirit was no more. The young man and the chieftain’s daughter ran towards the log cabin in which Gaevkhaetu descended into the subterranean realm. They got inside, and Gaevkhaetu rang the bell thrice. The warriors started pulling them up. At first, the subterranean light disappeared and it became completely dark; then, sunlight broke in from above. Gaevkhaetu helped the chieftain’s daughter to get to the surface and was about to get out himself when suddenly one of the warriors cut the rope with his sword, for he wanted the chieftain’s daughter as a wife for himself.
After a long fall, Gaevkhaetu hit the ground and became unconscious. No-one knows how much time his spent lying on the ground, but eventually he came to and started crawling towards the evil spirit’s house. As soon as he entered the house, all that was left of his strength dissipated completely, and he fell asleep.
In the dream he had while sleeping, he opened a strange looking-door and saw two vessels behind that door, one filled with white-coloured liquid and the other with red-coloured liquid. Gaevkhaetu then woke up, wandered around the evil spirit’s house and found the door from his dream and two vessels behind it. He put his hand in the white liquid and immediately felt so sick, he almost died on the spot. Then he put his hand in the red liquid and found himself feeling well again, looking more handsome than ever.
After that, Gaevkhaetu stepped out of the house and started looking for a way out. Suddenly, he heard a child crying nearby. He looked around but did not see anything. Then he looked up and saw a small boy up in a tall tree, his clothes caught on a branch, crying and weeping. Gaevkhaetu tried to climb the tree, but a strong gust of wind threw the boy down and smashed him against the ground. The child stopped crying and just lay there, motionless. Gaevkhaetu picked him up and carried him back to the evil spirit’s house. He walked through the strange door and immersed the child in the red liquid. The boy came to and became healthy and beautiful.
“Thank you, Gaevkhaetu,” said the boy. “My home is not far from this place. My mom and dad are probably crying and searching for me – they do not know that the evil spirit took me away and you saved me. When they find out I’m alive they’ll be happy and grant you one wish – any wish.”
The boy’s parents were indeed overfilled with joy when they found out their boy was alive and well. They thanked Gaevkhaetu and asked him if he desired any reward for saving their child. Gaevkhaetu told them he wanted to get back home.
The boy’s parents gave him a two-headed flying saevaen who quickly took Gaevkhaetu to the surface and carried him to his village. Gaevkhaetu thanked the saevaen and went to the chieftain’s house. There, wedding preparations were underway – the chieftain was going to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to the villainous warrior who had cut the rope. Gaevkhaetu then approached the chieftain and said, “It is I, not this traitor, who saved your daughter. I should marry her.”
As he spoke these words, the chieftain’s daughter ran into the room and saw Gaevkhaetu. Joyously, she cried out to her father, “It is him, Gaevkhaetu, who saved me!”
The chieftain then learned the truth and gave his daughter’s hand to Gaevkhaetu in marriage. And they lived happily ever after.