A clever queen who lived in Petersburg was very vain. “I am good at everything. Isn’t there anyone who can beat me?” she thought to herself. One day she announced, “I, the queen, will marry the man who asks me three riddles which I cannot answer.” Many people came from far and wide and tried their luck, but failed.
Finally, young Ivan, a peasant from the neighboring village, came up with three riddles and set off for the queen’s palace. He asked the first riddle: “I saw one good thing with another good thing in it. In order to do good, I took the second good thing out of the first good thing.”
The queen did not know the answer. She made an excuse saying, “I have a headache,” and left. Later in the night, she asked her maidservant to coax out the answer from Ivan. The maid did as she was told. The next day, when Ivan appeared the queen said, “Here’s the answer: A horse was in a wheat field and I chased it out.”
Ivan asked his second riddle “On the road I saw a bad thing. I took up a second bad thing and hit it. So one bad thing killed another bad thing.” The queen again did not know the answer. She sent her maid to coax the answer out of Ivan again. When Ivan came in the morning she said, “I saw a snake on the road and killed it with a stick.” Ivan then asked his third riddle. “How did you know the answers to the first two riddles?”
The queen did not want to admit that she had cheated. “I don’t know,” she replied. Ivan married the queen and they lived happily ever after.