There once lived an old peasant and his wife. They had nor son nor daughter, and they prayed to God every night so that they could have a child that would be able to succeed them after they have passed.
One day to their surprise seven sons were born to the couple and all seven boys were named Semeon. Their mother died shortly after the birth and the father died shortly thereafter. The brothers were not going to be able to have a normal childhood from the start.
It is well known that an orphan's life consists of hardship and the need for survival. This is how life treated the seven brothers. When it came time to harvest, though they were small and weak, they worked just as hard as the grown men that were working with them.
While the boys were working in the fields the Tsar happened to drive by and see them working. He stopped his carriage and called them over. They talked for a while and he learned that they had no mother or father. The Tsar told them that he would be their father and asked each of them what skill or trade they wanted to master.
The first Semeon said that he would be a smith and erect a pillar so tall that it will almost touch the sky.
The second Semeon said that he would climb that pillar and keep watch on what is happening in the surrounding kingdoms.
The third Semeon said that he would be a ship builder.
The fourth Semeon said that he would be a helmsman and be the captain of that ship.
The fifth Semeon said that he would, if necessary, be able to take that ship to the bottom of the ocean so fast that no one will be able to see how he did it.
The sixth Semeon said that he would be able to bring that ship up from the bottom of the ocean as fast as his other brother took it down.
The Tsar was pleased to hear that they would be useful to his citizens in his kingdom and he asked the seventh Semeon what he wanted to be.
The seventh Semeon answered that he wanted to be a thief.
The Tsar exclaimed that he was not pleased and that he put thieves in his kingdom to death.
The Tsar said farewell to the brothers and rode off, having made all of them his apprentices.
The years passed and the seven Semeons had become grown men. One day the Tsar summoned all of them to see what they had learned.
The first brother erected a pillar with his skill of blacksmithing and the second brother quickly climbed to the top of the pillar and started reporting what was going on in the surrounding kingdoms. He said that in one of the kingdoms lived Elena the Fair, a princess so beautiful that there was no woman on the earth like her. Her eyes were as blue as the sky, her cheeks were as red as roses, and her skin was as smooth and as white as alabaster.
The third brother got to work in the shipyard and built a ship so beautiful, that its only equal was the Tsar's palace. Once the ship was built the fourth brother got onboard and started steering and navigating the ship that was lively as a porpoise.
The fifth brother took the ship by the bow and took it to the bottom of the ocean. A minute later the sixth brother took the ship by the bow and brought the ship back up to the surface.
The Tsar was overjoyed and he turned to the seventh brother and asked him if he was as skilled in his trade as his brothers were in theirs. The brother answered that his skill surpassed that of his brothers.
Hearing this, the Tsar ordered gallows to be prepared, a noose to be tied, and the seventh brother to be hung for being a thief by profession.
At the moment the noose was to go around the neck of the seventh Semeon he cried out that he would be able to steal Elena the Fair away from her kingdom for him. He requested that his brothers help him in his endeavor and for this he should spare his life.
The Tsar was fixated on the fact that Elena the Fair would actually be able to grace his kingdom. For years he wanted to marry her, but with the responsibility of running a kingdom he could never journey that far away from his land. He spared the thief's life and let the brothers take the new ship, which was stocked with foods and priceless gifts of all kinds, and the brothers sailed away to the kingdom of Elena the Fair.
It was a long journey by sea but the brothers finally made it to her kingdom. As soon as the thief got off the ship he made it a point to learn the traditions and customs of the foreign land. He learned how to play a flute unlike any other in the world and learned that there were no cats on this part of the earth. So he dressed like a merchant, took a kitten from the ship, and started stroking it while he walked in front of Elena's window.
As soon as she saw the kitten she fell in love with it and ordered all seven brothers into her palace along with the kitten. When they met with the Elena the kitten performed tricks and the seventh Semeon played his flute that made a sound that was more beautiful than any other. He also told Elena grand tales about his homeland and the marvelous cargo he had on the ship. He also brought with him breathtaking silks and finery that captivated Elena.
He then told her that what she had before her was nothing compared to what he had waiting for her to see on the ship. He told her that he had a stone that he could not bring with him anywhere, since everyone who saw it would want to buy it. The stone, he told her, was a gift to his Tsar, but he would let her see it if she accompanied him to the ship.
Elena the Fair was so taken aback that she agreed that she would visit his ship on the next day.
With her entourage behind her she made her way down to the shore where the ship was anchored. Only Elena the Fair and her ladies in waiting were allowed to board the ship. The seven Semeons had prepared for this moment. As soon as the women came aboard, the fifth brother took the ship by the bow to the bottom of the ocean. When they were at a safe distance from the shore, the sixth brother brought the ship back to the surface, and the fourth brother steered the ship in the direction of their kingdom.
On the shore the dukes, princes, and the nobility watched in horror as they witnessed the ship disappear into the depths of the ocean. When they saw the ship come back to the surface they were relieved but still sad, because they knew Elena the Fair had been tricked and that they would never see her or her ladies in waiting ever again.
When they arrived to their kingdom the Tsar was overjoyed because he never thought that Elena the Fair would ever be in his kingdom. He welcomed her and her ladies in waiting with warmth and charm. Fortunately Elena the Fair fell in love with the Tsar and they were married and celebrations broke out throughout all of the land.
As for the seven Semeons he rewarded them with no more rent on land and exempted them from taxes for the rest of their lives. The Tsar also realized that his new wife had ladies in waiting who were not yet married. Coincidentally they were seven of them and the Tsar gave them to the brothers so they could all be married and live happily ever after.