Select the desired text size
From The Book of Stories for the Storyteller by Fanny E. Coe.
Start of Story
The wives of the elder brothers watched these devices, and took care
to do the same.
Afterward, when Tsarevna began dancing with Ivan, she waved her left
hand and a lake appeared; she waved her right hand and white swans
were swimming in the water.
The Tsar and his guests were astonished.
And now the elder brides began dancing. They waved their left hands
and all the guests were squirted with water; they waved their right
hands and the bones flew right into the Tsar's eyes. The Tsar was
wroth, and drove them from court with dishonour.
Now one day the Tsarevich waited his opportunity, ran off home, found
the frog-skin and threw it into a great fire. Soon the Tsarevna missed
her frog-skin, was sore troubled, fell a-weeping, and said to the
Tsarevich: "Alas! Tsarevich Ivan! what hast thou done? If thou hadst
but waited for a little, I should have been thine for ever more, but
now farewell! Seek for me beyond lands thrice-nine, in the Empire of
Thrice-ten, at the house of Koshchei." Then she turned into a
white swan and flew out of the window.
[Footnote 19: Koshchei Bezsmertny, the deathless skeleton.]
Ivan wept bitterly, turned to all four points of the compass and
prayed to God, and went straight before his eyes. He went on and
on,--whether it was near or far, or long or short, matters not; when
there met him an old, old man. "Hail, good youth!" said he, "what dost
thou seek, and whither art thou going?"
The Tsarevich told him all his misfortune. "Alas! Tsarevich Ivan, why
didst thou burn that frog-skin? Thou didst not make, nor shouldst thou
therefore have done away with it. Vasilisa, thy wife, was born wiser
and more cunning than her father; he was therefore angry with her, and
bade her be a frog for three years. Here is a little ball for thee,
follow it whithersoever it rolls."
Ivan thanked the old man, and followed after the ball. He went along
the open plain, and there met him a bear. "Come now!" thought Ivan, "I
will slay this beast." But the bear implored him: "Slay me not,
Tsarevich Ivan, I may perchance be of service to thee somehow."
He went on farther, and lo! behind them came waddling a duck. The
Tsarevich bent his bow; he would have shot the bird, when suddenly she
greeted him with a human voice: "Slay me not, Ivan Tsarevich! I also
will befriend thee!"
Ivan had pity upon her, and went on farther to the blue sea, and
behold! on the beach lay gasping a pike. "Alas! Tsarevich Ivan!"
sighed the pike, "have pity on me and cast me into the sea." And he
cast it into the sea, and went on along the shore.
The ball rolled a short way, and it rolled a long way, and at last it
came to a miserable hut; the hut was standing on hen's legs and
turning round and round. Ivan said to it: "Little hut, little hut!
stand the old way as thy mother placed thee, with thy front to me, and
thy back to the sea!" And the little hut turned round with its front
to him, and its back to the sea. The Tsarevich entered in, and saw the
bony-legged Baba-Yaga lying on the stove, on nine bricks and grinding
"Hillo! good youth, why dost thou visit me?" asked the Baba-Yaga.
"Fie, thou old hag! thou call'st me a good youth, but thou shouldst
first feed and give me drink, and prepare me a bath, then only
shouldst thou ask me questions."
The Baba-Yaga fed him and gave him to drink, and made ready a bath for
him, and the Tsarevich told her he was seeking his wife, Vasilisa.
"I know," said the Baba-Yaga; "she is now with Koshchei. 'Tis hard to
get thither, and it is not easy to settle accounts with Koshchei. His
death depends upon the point of a needle. That needle is in a hare,
that hare is in a coffer, that coffer is on the top of a high oak,
and Koshchei guards that tree as the apple of his eye."
The Baba-Yaga then showed him in what place that oak grew: Ivan went
thither, but did not know what to do to get at the coffer. Suddenly,
how who can tell, the bear rushed at the tree and tore it up by the
roots, the coffer fell and was smashed to pieces, the hare leaped out,
and with one bound had taken cover.
But look! the other hare bounded off in pursuit, hunted him down and
tore him to bits; out of the hare flew a duck and rose high, high in
the air, but the other duck dashed after her, and struck her down,
whereupon the duck laid an egg, and the egg fell into the sea.
Ivan, seeing the irreparable loss of the egg, burst into tears, when
suddenly the pike came swimming ashore, holding the egg between its
teeth. He took the egg, broke it, drew out the needle and broke off
its little point. Then he attacked Koshchei, who struggled hard, but
wriggle about as he might he had to die at last.
Then Ivan went into the house of Koshchei, took Vasilisa, and returned
home. After that they lived together for a long, long time, and were
very, very happy.