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This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.

Tserevna.

By R. NESBIT BAIN
From The Book of Stories for the Storyteller by Fanny E. Coe.

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In a certain kingdom, in a certain Empire, there lived a Tsar with his Tsaritsa, and he had three sons, all of them young, valiant, and unwedded, the like of whom is not to be told in tales nor written by pens, and the youngest of them was called the Tsarevich Ivan. And the Tsar spoke these words to them: "My dear children, take unto you your darts, gird on your well-spanned bows, and go hence in different directions, and in whatsoever courts your arrows fall, there choose ye your brides!" The elder brother discharged his arrow and it fell into a boyar's court, right in front of the terem[18] of the maidens. The second brother discharged his arrow and it flew into the court of a merchant and remained sticking in a beautiful balcony, and on this balcony was standing a lovely young maiden soul, the merchant's daughter. The youngest brother discharged his arrow, and the arrow fell into a muddy swamp, and a quacking-frog seized hold of it. The Tsarevich Ivan said to his father: "How can I ever take this quacker to wife? A quacker is not my equal!" "Take her!" replied his father, "'tis thy fate to have her!" So the Tsareviches all got married--the eldest to the boyar's daughter, the second to the merchant's daughter, and the youngest to the quacking-frog. And the Tsar called them to him and said: "Let your wives, to-morrow morning, bake me soft white bread."



Ivan returned home, and he was not happy, and his impetuous head hung down lower than his shoulders. "_Qua! qua!_ Ivan Tsarevich! wherefore art thou so sad?" asked the Frog. "Or hast thou heard unpleasant words from thy father the Tsar?" "Why should I not be sad? My father and sovereign lord hath commanded thee to bake soft white bread to-morrow." "Do not afflict thyself, O Tsarevich! lie down and rest. The morning is wiser than the evening." She made the Tsarevich lie down and rest, then, casting her frog-skin, she turned into a maiden soul, went out upon her beautiful balcony, and cried with a piercing voice: "Nurseys--nurseys! assemble, set to work and make me soft white bread such as I myself used to eat at my dear father's!" In the morning Ivan awoke. The frog had got the bread ready long ago, and it was so splendid that the like of it is neither to be imagined nor guessed at, but is only to be told of in tales. The loaves were adorned with various cunning devices, royal cities were modelled on the sides thereof, with moats and ditches. The Tsar praised Ivan greatly because of his bread, and gave this command to his three sons: "Let your wives weave me a carpet in a single night." Ivan returned home, and he was sad, and his impetuous head hung lower than his shoulders. "_Qua! qua!_ Tsarevich Ivan! wherefore art thou so sad? Or hast thou heard cruel, unfriendly words from thy father the Tsar?"



"Have I not cause to grieve? My father and sovereign lord commands thee to weave him a silk carpet in a single night!" "Fret not, Tsarevich! come, lay thee down and sleep. The morning is wiser than the evening!" Then she made him lie down to sleep, and turning into the lovely maiden went forth upon her beautiful balcony, and cried with a piercing voice: "Nurseys--nurseys! assemble, set to work and weave me a silk carpet such as I was wont to sit upon at my dear father's!" No sooner said than done. In the morning Ivan woke, and the frog had had the carpet ready long ago, and it was such a wondrous carpet that the like of it can only be told in tales, but may neither be imagined nor guessed at. The carpet was adorned with gold and silver and with divers bright embroiderings. The Tsar greatly praised Ivan for his carpet, and there and then gave the new command that all three Tsareviches were to appear before him on the morrow to be inspected together with their wives. Again Ivan returned home and he was not happy, and his impetuous head hung lower than his shoulders. "_Qua! qua!_ Tsarevich Ivan! wherefore art thou grieved? Or hast thou heard words unkind from thy father the Tsar?" "Have I not cause to be sad? My father and sovereign lord has commanded me to appear before him with thee to-morrow! How can I show thee to people?"



"Fret not, Tsarevich! Go alone to the Tsar and pay thy visit, and I will come after thee. The moment you hear a rumbling, and a knocking, say: 'Hither comes my dear little Froggy in her little basket!'" And behold! the elder brothers appeared, to be inspected with their richly attired and splendidly adorned consorts. There they stood and laughed at the Tsarevich Ivan and said: "Why, brother! Why hast thou come hither without thy wife? Why, thou mightest have brought her with thee in a kitchen clout. And where didst thou pick up such a beauty? I suppose thou didst search through all the swamps fairly?" Suddenly there was a great rumbling and knocking, the whole palace shook. The guests were all terribly frightened and rushed from their places, and knew not what to do; but Ivan said: "Fear not, 'tis only my little Froggy coming in her little basket!" And then a golden coach drawn by six horses flew up the steps of the Tsar's balcony, and out of it stepped such a beauty as is only to be told of in tales, but can neither be imagined nor guessed at. Ivan took her by the hand and led her behind the oaken table, behind the embroidered tablecloth. The guests began to eat and drink and make merry. The lovely Tsarevna drank wine, but the dregs of her cup she poured behind her left sleeve; she ate also of the roast swan, but the bones thereof she concealed behind her right sleeve.

       



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