There once lived a wealthy tradesman who had a daughter named Akiko. Akiko was generous and well-loved. Early in her life, her mother died and her father remarried a woman who was sharp-tongued and mean. Envy surged through every inch of the new wife’s soul. She tried to weaken Akiko’s grace and charm by ordering her to take on extra household tasks. Although the work loomed before her like an immense mountain, Akiko worked until it was done… and she still managed to greet visitors at the door with a smile and beggars with a bowl of rice.
Once upon a time there was a Tsar named Berendei, and he had three sons, the youngest of whom was called Ivan. Now the Tsar had a beautiful garden with an apple-tree in it that bore golden apples. One day the Tsar found that somebody was visiting his garden and stealing his golden apples. The Tsar was very unhappy about this. He sent watchmen into the garden, but they were unable to catch the thief.