Kyunhylyu

In olden times there lived in one village a very pretty girl Kyunhylyu by name. She was the only daughter of a very well known in those parts man of wealth Karabai.

The girl was so beautiful that when she went down to the Ai river to get some water the river stopped flowing and gazed at the girl in admiration. All those living in the Ai valley were proud of the girl's beauty. Kyunhylyu was also a wonderful singer, everyone listened to her heartfelt singing with bated breath.

Whenever Kyunhylyu started her singing, the nightingales stopped warbling, the winds dropped, the beasts quietened down in woods. At the sight of her yegets lost their minds and stood motionless as if turned to stone.Once Tsar* Alexei came to Karabai on a visit. He saw his daughter and fell in love width her at first sight. And he decided to many her. Only Russians could not have two wives their religion forbade it.

Karabai loved his daughter very much and he kept her locked at home, never letting so out He was afraid that she would be kidnapped.

They were flooded with offers from matchmakers. Only Kyunhylyu's father turned all of them down. As it happened, he had promised to marry her off to a myrtha* from Kazan Aksura by name. He was very rich and was considered to be one of the closest Tsar Alexet's retainers.

Once the young went to the fields to have a feast They slaughtered a mare, made a bonfire and hung a cauldron over it Then contests of wrestling, race and horse race started Kyunhylyu was watching all this sitting on a large white felt mat in a white marquee. The winner of that habantui* was a yeget whose name was Arythlan from the neighbouring village of Salyegut. He was as handsome as prophet Yusuf.

Arythlan was the son of a poor shepherd. He tended grazing cattle in his Salyegut Kyunhylyu caught his eye and fell in love with Arythlan. People were presenting various gifts to the winner. Kyunhylyu sent him a handkerchief with her name Kyunhylyu embroidered on it. They exchanged glances and smiled at each other. Arythlan also fell in love with Kyunhylyu at first sight. All his dreams were of her ever since.

Once young people took horses to night pasture. There was a stone there, where girls were dancing. It was wide and flat at the top, and at the bottom it was like a hut made for shelter - there was a deep hole. It was called the Stone-house. Arythlan was playing the kurai*, and the girls were dancing to its tune. Kyunhylyu was dancing as everyone was, not caring for anything. This event was reported to a mullah*, who held everyone in fear. At the sight of the mullah guys and young girls ran away in different directions, and only Kyunhylyu and Arythlan did not notice his appearance. The mullah threatened Arythlan with a stick. It was the fact that the mullah himself had sent matchmakers to Karabai, asking him to give consent to his marrying Karabai's daughter as his fourth wife. "There, there, look at your dissipated daughter," said the mullah to Karabai with malice. The latter did not go deep into the matter and thrashed both of them, Karabai as well as Kyunhylyu. Striving to avoid publicity, he begged the mullah not to say anything to anyone, to exchange be promised to give his consent to the mullah's marrying his daughter.

And the mullah got what he was after. He was overcome with joy.

Eventually there was spread the news that Kyunhylyu was to be married to the mullah of Habanack village. Arythlan was filled with sorrow. He persuaded his father to go to Karabai as a matchmaker, but the latter took it as an insult, he let his dogs turn the old man out so that Arythlan's father could hardly escape. "Poor beggars," Karabai was shouting, "you arethe cause of my disgrace. Because of you I have to marry off my daughter, intended for myrtha* Aksura, to a robber from the mosque."

The wisest and most respectable old men of the village tried to admonish Karabai. "Don't ruin your only daughter's life," they told him. But alas! The conceited bai*, who was prone to boast of his riches, stood his ground.

Hardly having risen to his feet, Arythlan set forth to Habanack. He was wandering up and down the tillage street and then headed for the Stone-house. As he came there he saw Kyunkhylu sitting on the stone. She was very sad. They embraced each other and were sitting on the stone together, their eyes filled with tears.

Having noticed his young wife's absence, the mullah rushed to Karabai. They started in search of Kyunhylyu together. As they cast glances in the direction of the Stone-house they saw some flickering light over there. So they decided that the fugitives were there and set forth in the direction of the stone. On the way they encountered Aksura with his men. It appeared that a word came to him in Kazan that Kyunhylyu was going to many, and he was hurrying to her with his men. All together they went to the Stone-house and they saw the embracing girl and yeget sitting on the stone. The mullah jerked out the carving knife which was used for slaughtering cattle, and stabbed both the lovers.

Having seen that, Aksura stabbed the mullah by his sword. There was a muezzin* present, the one who was the mullah's son-in-law. "You killed my father-in-law!" he exclaimed and killed Aksura by his axe. Karabai was standing petrified with fear. All those having killed each other were lying dead on the ground, he was alone standing among them as if turned to stone. It took him time to come to his senses. Having regained consciousness, he wanted to raise the blood-stained body of his daughter. But at this very moment the Stone-house began to move and covered Kyunhylyu and Arythlan. All of a sudden darkness fell on this place. When the moon emerged from behind the clouds, Karabai lost sight of the Stone-house, it was not at its place. He only took notice of some object of white colour, flying off in the direction of the Yiyiktau mountain.

Karabai ran right after this white object, he kept running on and on until he found himself in the area where the foot of man had never trod.

Next day the news spread that the Stone-house had disappeared. People came to that place but there was only a trace of the stone. Two skeletons were lying nearby. It was impossible to determine whose skeletons they were as the bodies were eaten up by dogs and ravens.

Arythlan's father did not survive his son too long, he died of a heart attack. Karabai's dead body was found on the same day. Both of them were buried.

About nine months thereafter, the mountain suddenly cleft in two, and two swans flew out of it They built a nest on a bank of the Ai river.

They say that swans of the Ai valley spring from those birds.