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A Russin Fairy Tale Story

In a certain kingdom there lived a merchant. Twelve years
did he live as a married man, but he had only one child, Vasilissa
the Fair. When her mother died, the girl was eight years
old. And on her deathbed the merchant's wife called her little
daughter to her, took out from under the bed-clothes a doll,
gave it to her, and said, "Listen, Vasilissa, dear; remember
and obey these last words of mine. I am going to die. And
now, together with my parental blessing, I bequeath to you this
doll. Keep it always by you, and never show it to anybody; and
whenever any misfortune comes upon you, give the doll food,
and ask its advice. When it has fed, it will tell you a cure for
your troubles." Then the mother kissed her child and died.

After his wife's death, the merchant mourned for her a befitting
time, and then began to consider about marrying again. He
was a man of means. It wasn't a question with him of girls (with
dowries); more than all others, a certain widow took his fancy.
She was middle-aged, and had a couple of daughters of her own
just about the same age as Vasilissa. She must needs be both
a good housekeeper and an experienced mother.

Well, the merchant married the widow, but he had deceived
himself, for he did not find in her a kind mother for his
Vasilissa. Vasilissa was the prettiest girl in all the
village; but her stepmother and stepsisters were jealous of her
beauty, and tormented her with every possible sort of toil, in
order that she might grow thin from over-work, and be tanned by
the sun and the wind. Her life was made a burden to her! Vasilissa
bore everything with resignation, and every day grew plumper and
prettier, while the stepmother and her daughters lost flesh and
fell off in appearance from the effects of their own spite,
notwithstanding that they always sat with folded hands like fine

But how did that come about? Why, it was her doll that
helped Vasilissa. If it hadn't been for it, however could the
girl have got through all her work? And therefore it was that
Vasilissa would never eat all her share of a meal, but always
kept the most delicate morsel for her doll; and at night, when
all were at rest, she would shut herself up in the narrow chamber[184]
in which she slept, and feast her doll, saying[185] the while:

"There, dolly, feed; help me in my need! I live in my
father's house, but never know what pleasure is; my evil stepmother
tries to drive me out of the white world; teach me how
to keep alive, and what I ought to do."

Then the doll would eat, and afterwards give her advice, and
comfort her in her sorrow, and next day it would do all Vasilissa's
work for her. She had only to take her ease in a shady place
and pluck flowers, and yet all her work was done in good time;
the beds were weeded, and the pails were filled, and the cabbages
were watered, and the stove was heated. Moreover, the
doll showed Vasilissa herbs which prevented her from getting
sunburnt. Happily did she and her doll live together.

Several years went by. Vasilissa grew up and became old
enough to be married. All the marriageable young men in the
town sent to make an offer to Vasilissa; at her stepmother's
daughters not a soul would so much as look. Her stepmother
grew even more savage than before, and replied to every

"We won't let the younger marry before her elders."

And after the suitors had been packed off, she used to beat
Vasilissa by way of wreaking her spite.

Well, it happened one day that the merchant had to go
away from home on business for a long time. Thereupon the
stepmother went to live in another house; and near that house
was a dense forest, and in a clearing in that forest there stood
a hut, and in the hut there lived a Baba Yaga. She never let
any one come near her dwelling, and she ate up people like so
many chickens.

Having moved into the new abode, the merchant's wife kept
sending her hated Vasilissa into the forest on one pretence or
another. But the girl always got home safe and sound; the
doll used to show her the way, and never let her go near the
Baba Yaga's dwelling.

The autumn season arrived. One evening the stepmother
gave out their work to the three girls; one she set to lace-making,
another to knitting socks, and the third, Vasilissa, to weaving;
and each of them had her allotted amount to do. By-and-by
she put out the lights in the house, leaving only one candle
alight where the girls were working, and then she went to bed.
The girls worked and worked. Presently the candle wanted
snuffing; one of the stepdaughters took the snuffers, as if she
were going to clear the wick, but instead of doing so, in obedience
to her mother's orders, she snuffed the candle out, pretending
to do so by accident.

"What shall we do now?" said the girls. "There isn't a
spark of fire in the house, and our tasks are not yet done. We
must go to the Baba Yaga's for a light!"

"My pins give me light enough," said the one who was making
lace. "I shan't go."

"And I shan't go, either," said the one who was knitting
socks. "My knitting-needles give me light enough."

"Vasilissa, you must go for the light," they both cried out
together; "be off to the Baba Yaga's!"

And they pushed Vasilissa out of the room.

Vasilissa went into her little closet, set before the doll a supper
which she had provided beforehand, and said:

"Now, dolly, feed, and listen to my need! I'm sent to the
Baba Yaga's for a light. The Baba Yaga will eat me!"

The doll fed, and its eyes began to glow just like a couple of

"Never fear, Vasilissa dear!" it said. "Go where you're
sent. Only take care to keep me always by you. As long as I'm
with you, no harm will come to you at the Baba Yaga's."

So Vasilissa got ready, put her doll in her pocket, crossed
herself, and went out into the thick forest.

As she walks she trembles. Suddenly a horseman gallops
by. He is white, and he is dressed in white, under him is a white
horse, and the trappings of the horse are white--and the day
begins to break.

She goes a little further, and a second rider gallops by. He
is red, dressed in red, and sitting on a red horse--and the sun

Vasilissa went on walking all night and all next day. It was
only towards the evening that she reached the clearing on which
stood the dwelling of the Baba Yaga. The fence around it was
made of dead men's bones; on the top of the fence were stuck
human skulls with eyes in them; instead of uprights at the gates
were men's legs; instead of bolts were arms; instead of a lock
was a mouth with sharp teeth.

Vasilissa was frightened out of her wits, and stood still as if
rooted to the ground.

Suddenly there rode past another horseman. He was black,
dressed all in black, and on a black horse. He galloped up to
the Baba Yaga's gate and disappeared, just as if he had sunk
through the ground--and night fell. But the darkness did not
last long. The eyes of all the skulls on the fence began to shine
and the whole clearing became as bright as if it had been midday.
Vasilissa shuddered with fear, but stopped where she was,
not knowing which way to run.

Soon there was heard in the forest a terrible roar. The trees
cracked, the dry leaves rustled; out of the forest came the Baba
Yaga, riding in a mortar, urging it on with a pestle, sweeping
away her traces with a broom. Up she drove to the gate, stopped
short, and, snuffing the air around her, cried:--

"Faugh! Faugh! I smell Russian flesh! Who's there?"

Vasilissa went up to the hag in a terrible fright, bowed low
before her, and said:--

"It's me, granny. My stepsisters have sent me to you for a

"Very good," said the Baba Yaga; "I know them. If you'll
stop awhile with me first, and do some work for me, I'll give you
a light. But if you won't, I'll eat you!"

Then she turned to the gates, and cried:--

"Ho, thou firm fence of mine, be thou divided! And ye, wide
gates of mine, do ye fly open!"

The gates opened, and the Baba Yaga drove in, whistling as
she went, and after her followed Vasilissa; and then everything
shut to again. When they entered the sitting-room, the Baba
Yaga stretched herself out at full length, and said to Vasilissa:

"Fetch out what there is in the oven; I'm hungry."

Vasilissa lighted a splinter at one of the skulls which were
on the fence, and began fetching meat from the oven and setting
it before the Baba Yaga; and meat enough had been provided
for a dozen people. Then she fetched from the cellar kvass,
mead, beer, and wine. The hag ate up everything, drank up
everything. All she left for Vasilissa was a few scraps--a crust
of bread and a morsel of sucking-pig. Then the Baba Yaga lay
down to sleep, saying:--

"When I go out to-morrow morning, mind you cleanse the
courtyard, sweep the room, cook the dinner, and get the linen
ready. Then go to the corn-bin, take out four quarters of wheat,
and clear it of other seed. And mind you have it all done--if
you don't, I shall eat you!"

After giving these orders the Baba Yaga began to snore. But
Vasilissa set the remnants of the hag's supper before her doll,
burst into tears, and said:--

"Now, dolly, feed, listen to my need! The Baba Yaga has
set me a heavy task, and threatens to eat me if I don't do it all.
Do help me!"

The doll replied:

"Never fear, Vasilissa the Fair! Sup, say your prayers, and
go to bed. The morning is wiser than the evening!"

Vasilissa awoke very early, but the Baba Yaga was already up.
She looked out of the window. The light in the skull's eyes was
going out. All of a sudden there appeared the white horseman,
and all was light. The Baba Yaga went out into the courtyard and
whistled--before her appeared a mortar with a pestle and a broom.
The red horseman appeared--the sun rose. The Baba Yaga
seated herself in the mortar, and drove out of the courtyard,
shooting herself along with the pestle, sweeping away her traces
with the broom.

Vasilissa was left alone, so she examined the Baba Yaga's
house, wondered at the abundance there was in everything, and
remained lost in thought as to which work she ought to take to
first. She looked up; all her work was done already. The doll
had cleared the wheat to the very last grain.

"Ah, my preserver!" cried Vasilissa, "you've saved me
from danger!"

"All you've got to do now is to cook the dinner," answered
the doll, slipping into Vasilissa's pocket. "Cook away, in God's
name, and then take some rest for your health's sake!"

Towards evening Vasilissa got the table ready, and awaited
the Baba Yaga. It began to grow dusky; the black rider appeared
for a moment at the gate, and all grew dark. Only the
eyes of the skulls sent forth their light. The trees began to
crack, the leaves began to rustle, up drove the Baba Yaga.
Vasilissa went out to meet her.

"Is everything done?" asks the Yaga.

"Please to look for yourself, granny!" says Vasilissa.

The Baba Yaga examined everything, was vexed that there
was nothing to be angry about, and said:

"Well, well! very good!"

Afterwards she cried:

"My trusty servants, zealous friends, grind this my wheat!"

There appeared three pairs of hands, which gathered up the
wheat, and carried it out of sight. The Baba Yaga supped, went
to bed, and again gave her orders to Vasilissa:

"Do just the same to-morrow as to-day; only besides that take
out of the bin the poppy seed that is there, and clean the earth
off it grain by grain. Some one or other, you see, has mixed a
lot of earth with it out of spite." Having said this, the hag turned
to the wall and began to snore, and Vasilissa took to feeding her
doll. The doll fed, and then said to her what it had said the
day before:

"Pray to God, and go to sleep. The morning is wiser than the
evening. All shall be done, Vasilissa dear!"

The next morning the Baba Yaga again drove out of the courtyard
in her mortar, and Vasilissa and her doll immediately did
all the work. The hag returned, looked at everything, and cried,
"My trusty servants, zealous friends, press forth oil from the
poppy seed!"

Three pairs of hands appeared, gathered up the poppy seed,
and bore it out of sight. The Baba Yaga sat down to dinner.
She ate, but Vasilissa stood silently by.

"Why don't you speak to me?" said the Baba Yaga; "there
you stand like a dumb creature!"

"I didn't dare," answered Vasilissa; "but if you give me
leave, I should like to ask you about something."

"Ask away; only it isn't every question that brings good.
'Get much to know, and old soon you'll grow.'"

"I only want to ask you, granny, about something I saw. As
I was coming here, I was passed by one riding on a white horse;
he was white himself, and dressed in white. Who was he?"

"That was my bright Day!" answered the Baba Yaga.

"Afterwards there passed me another rider, on a red horse;
red himself, and all in red clothes. Who was he?"

"That was my red Sun!" answered the Baba Yaga.

"And who may be the black rider, granny, who passed by
me just at your gate?"

"That was my dark Night; they are all trusty servants of

Vasilissa thought of the three pairs of hands, but held her

"Why don't you go on asking?" said the Baba Yaga.

"That's enough for me, granny. You said yourself, 'Get
too much to know, old you'll grow!'"

"It's just as well," said the Baba Yaga, "that you've only
asked about what you saw out of doors, not indoors! In my house
I hate having dirt carried out of doors; and as to over-inquisitive
people--well, I eat them. Now I'll ask you something.
How is it you manage to do the work I set you to do?"

"My mother's blessing assists me," replied Vasilissa.

"Eh! eh! what's that? Get along out of my house, you
bless'd daughter. I don't want bless'd people."

She dragged Vasilissa out of the room, pushed her outside
the gates, took one of the skulls with blazing eyes from the
fence, stuck it on a stick, gave it to her and said:

"Lay hold of that. It's a light you can take to your stepsisters.
That's what they sent you here for, I believe."

Home went Vasilissa at a run, lit by the skull, which went out
only at the approach of the dawn; and at last, on the evening
of the second day, she reached home. When she came to the
gate, she was going to throw away the skull.

"Surely," thinks she, "they can't be still in want of a light
at home." But suddenly a hollow voice issued from the skull,

"Throw me not away. Carry me to your stepmother!"

She looked at her stepmother's house, and not seeing a light
in a single window, she determined to take the skull in there
with her. For the first time in her life she was cordially received
by her stepmother and stepsisters, who told her that from the
moment she went away they hadn't had a spark of fire in the
house. They couldn't strike a light themselves anyhow, and
whenever they brought one in from a neighbor's, it went out as
soon as it came into the room.

"Perhaps your light will keep in!" said the stepmother. So
they carried the skull into the sitting-room. But the eyes of the
skull so glared at the stepmother and her daughters--shot forth
such flames! They would fain have hidden themselves, but run
where they would, everywhere did the eyes follow after them.
By the morning they were utterly burnt to cinders. Only Vasilissa
was none the worse.[193]

[Next morning Vasilissa "buried the skull," locked up
the house and took up her quarters in a neighboring
town. After a time she began to work. Her doll made
her a glorious loom, and by the end of the winter she
had weaved a quantity of linen so fine that it might
be passed like thread through the eye of a needle. In
the spring, after it had been bleached, Vasilissa made
a present of it to the old woman with whom she lodged.
The crone presented it to the king, who ordered it to
be made into shirts. But no seamstress could be found
to make them up, until the linen was entrusted to
Vasilissa. When a dozen shirts were ready, Vasilissa
sent them to the king, and as soon as her carrier had
started, "she washed herself, and combed her hair, and
dressed herself, and sat down at the window." Before
long there arrived a messenger demanding her instant
appearance at court. And "when she appeared before the
royal eyes," the king fell desperately in love with

"No; my beauty!" said he, "never will I part with
thee; thou shalt be my wife." So he married her; and
by-and-by her father returned, and took up his abode
with her. "And Vasilissa took the old woman into her
service, and as for the doll--to the end of her life
she always carried it in her pocket."]

The puppet which plays so important a part in this story is worthy of
a special examination. It is called in the original a _Kukla_ (dim.
_Kukolka_), a word designating any sort of puppet or other figure
representing either man or beast. In a Little-Russian variant[194] of
one of those numerous stories, current in all lands, which commence
with the escape of the heroine from an incestuous union, a priest
insists on marrying his daughter. She goes to her mother's grave and
weeps there. Her dead mother "comes out from her grave," and tells her
what to do. The girl obtains from her father a rough dress of pig's
skin, and two sets of gorgeous apparel; the former she herself
assumes, in the latter she dresses up three _Kuklui_, which in this
instance were probably mere blocks of wood. Then she takes her place
in the midst of the dressed-up forms, which cry, one after the other,
"Open, O moist earth, that the fair maiden may enter within thee!" The
earth opens, and all four sink into it.

This introduction is almost identical with that prefixed to the German
story of "Allerleirauh,"[195] except in so far as the puppets are

Sometimes it is a brother, instead of a father, from whom the heroine
is forced to flee. Thus in the story of _Kniaz Danila Govorila_,[196]
Prince Daniel the Talker is bent upon marrying his sister, pleading
the excuse so often given in stories on this theme, namely, that she
is the only maiden whose finger will fit the magic ring which is to
indicate to him his destined wife. While she is weeping "like a
river," some old women of the mendicant-pilgrim class come to her
rescue, telling her to make four _Kukolki_, or small puppets, and to
place one of them in each corner of her room. She does as they tell
her. The wedding day arrives, the marriage service is performed in the
church, and then the bride hastens back to the room. When she is
called for--says the story--the puppets in the four corners begin to

"Kuku! Prince Danila!

"Kuku! Govorila.

"Kuku! He wants to marry,

"Kuku! His own sister.

"Kuku! Split open, O Earth!

"Kuku! Sister, disappear!"

The earth opens, and the girl slowly sinks into it. Twice again the
puppets sing their song, and at the end of its third performance, the
earth closes over the head of the rescued bride. Presently in rushes
the irritated bridegroom. "No bride is to be seen; only in the corners
sit the puppets singing away to themselves." He flies into a passion,
seizes a hatchet, chops off their heads, and flings them into the

In another version of the same story[199] a son is ordered by his
parents to marry his sister after their death. They die, and he tells
her to get ready to be married. But she has prepared three puppets,
and when she goes into her room to dress for the wedding, she says to

"O Kukolki, (cry) Kuku!"

The first asks, "Why?"

The second replies, "Because the brother his sister takes."

The third says, "Split open, O Earth! disappear, O sister!"

All this is said three times, and then the earth opens, and the girl
sinks "into that world."

In two other Russian versions of the same story, the sister escapes by
natural means. In the first she runs away and hides in the hollow
of an oak. In the second she persuades a fisherman to convey her
across a sea or lake. In a Polish version the sister obtains a
magic car, which sinks underground with her, while the spot on which
she has spat replies to every summons which is addressed to her.

Before taking leave of the Baba Yaga, we may glance at a malevolent
monster, who seems to be her male counterpart. He appears, however, to
be known in South Russia only. Here is an outline of the contents of
the solitary story in which he is mentioned. There were two old folks
with whom lived two orphan grandchildren, charming little girls. One
day the youngest child was sent to drive the sparrows away from her
grandfather's pease. While she was thus engaged the forest began to
roar, and out from it came Verlioka, "of vast stature, one-eyed,
crook-nosed, bristly-headed, with tangled beard and moustaches half an
ell long, and with a wooden boot on his one foot, supporting himself
on a crutch, and giving vent to a terrible laughter." And Verlioka
caught sight of the little girl and immediately killed her with his
crutch. And afterwards he killed her sister also, and then the old
grandmother. The grandfather, however, managed to escape with his
life, and afterwards, with the help of a drake and other aiders, he
wreaked his vengeance on the murderous Verlioka.[204]

We will now turn to another female embodiment of evil, frequently
mentioned in the Skazkas--the Witch.[205] She so closely resembles the
Baba Yaga both in disposition and in behavior, that most of the
remarks which have been made about that wild being apply to her also.
In many cases, indeed, we find that one version of a story will allot
to a Baba Yaga the part which in another version is played by a Witch.
The name which she bears--that of _Vyed'ma_--is a misnomer; it
properly belongs either to the "wise woman," or prophetess, of old
times, or to her modern representative, the woman to whom Russian
superstition attributes the faculties and functions ascribed in olden
days by most of our jurisprudents, in more recent times by a few of
our rustics, to our own witch. The supernatural being who, in
folk-tales, sways the elements and preys upon mankind, is most
inadequately designated by such names as _Vyed'ma_, _Hexe_, or
_Witch_, suggestive as those now homely terms are of merely human,
though diabolically intensified malevolence. Far more in keeping with
the vastness of her powers, and the vagueness of her outline, are the
titles of Baba Yaga, Lamia, Striga, Troll-Wife, Ogress, or Dragoness,
under which she figures in various lands. And therefore it is in her
capacity of Baba Yaga, rather than in that of _Vyed'ma_, that we
desire to study the behavior of the Russian equivalent for the
terrible female form which figures in the Anglo-Saxon poem as the
Mother of Grendel.

From among the numerous stories relating to the _Vyed'ma_ we may
select the following, which bears her name.


There once lived an old couple who had one son called
Ivashko;[207] no one can tell how fond they were of him!

Well, one day, Ivashko said to his father and mother:

"I'll go out fishing if you'll let me."

"What are you thinking about! you're still very small; suppose
you get drowned, what good will there be in that?"

"No, no, I shan't get drowned. I'll catch you some fish;
do let me go!"

So his mother put a white shirt on him, tied a red girdle round
him, and let him go. Out in a boat he sat and said:

Canoe, canoe, float a little farther,
Canoe, canoe, float a little farther!

Then the canoe floated on farther and farther, and Ivashko began to
fish. When some little time had passed by, the old woman hobbled down
to the river side and called to her son:

Ivashechko, Ivashechko, my boy,
Float up, float up, unto the waterside;
I bring thee food and drink.

And Ivashko said:

Canoe, canoe, float to the waterside;
That is my mother calling me.

The boat floated to the shore: the woman took the fish, gave her boy
food and drink, changed his shirt for him and his girdle, and sent him
back to his fishing. Again he sat in his boat and said:

Canoe, canoe, float a little farther,
Canoe, canoe, float a little farther.

Then the canoe floated on farther and farther, and Ivashko began to
fish. After a little time had passed by, the old man also hobbled down
to the bank and called to his son:

Ivashechko, Ivashechko, my boy,
Float up, float up, unto the waterside;
I bring thee food and drink.

And Ivashko replied:

Canoe, canoe, float to the waterside;
That is my father calling me.

The canoe floated to the shore. The old man took the fish, gave his
boy food and drink, changed his shirt for him and his girdle, and sent
him back to his fishing.

Now a certain witch[208] had heard what Ivashko's parents had cried
aloud to him, and she longed to get hold of the boy. So she went down
to the bank and cried with a hoarse voice:

Ivashechko, Ivashechko, my boy,
Float up, float up, unto the waterside;
I bring thee food and drink.

Ivashko perceived that the voice was not his mother's, but was that of
a witch, and he sang:

Canoe, canoe, float a little farther,
Canoe, canoe, float a little farther;
That is not my mother, but a witch who calls me.

The witch saw that she must call Ivashko with just such a voice as
his mother had.

So she hastened to a smith and said to him:

"Smith, smith! make me just such a thin little voice as Ivashko's
mother has: if you don't, I'll eat you." So the smith forged her a
little voice just like Ivashko's mother's. Then the witch went down by
night to the shore and sang:

Ivashechko, Ivashechko, my boy,
Float up, float up, unto the waterside;
I bring thee food and drink.

Ivashko came, and she took the fish, and seized the boy and carried
him home with her. When she arrived she said to her daughter
Alenka,[209] "Heat the stove as hot as you can, and bake Ivashko well,
while I go and collect my friends for the feast." So Alenka heated the
stove hot, ever so hot, and said to Ivashko,

"Come here and sit on this shovel!"

"I'm still very young and foolish," answered Ivashko: "I haven't yet
quite got my wits about me. Please teach me how one ought to sit on a

"Very good," said Alenka; "it won't take long to teach you."

But the moment she sat down on the shovel, Ivashko instantly pitched
her into the oven, slammed to the iron plate in front of it, ran out
of the hut, shut the door, and hurriedly climbed up ever so high an
oak-tree [which stood close by].

Presently the witch arrived with her guests and knocked at the door of
the hut. But nobody opened it for her.

"Ah! that cursed Alenka!" she cried. "No doubt she's gone off
somewhere to amuse herself." Then she slipped in through the window,
opened the door, and let in her guests. They all sat down to table,
and the witch opened the oven, took out Alenka's baked body, and
served it up. They all ate their fill and drank their fill, and then
they went out into the courtyard and began rolling about on the grass.

"I turn about, I roll about, having fed on Ivashko's flesh," cried
the witch. "I turn about, I roll about, having fed on Ivashko's

But Ivashko called out to her from the top of the oak:

"Turn about, roll about, having fed on Alenka's flesh!"

"Did I hear something?" said the witch. "No it was only the noise of
the leaves." Again the witch began:

"I turn about, I roll about, having fed on Ivashko's flesh!"

And Ivashko repeated:

"Turn about, roll about, having fed on Alenka's flesh!"

Then the witch looked up and saw Ivashko, and immediately rushed at
the oak on which Ivashko was seated, and began to gnaw away at it. And
she gnawed, and gnawed, and gnawed, until at last she smashed two
front teeth. Then she ran to a forge, and when she reached it she
cried, "Smith, smith! make me some iron teeth; if you don't I'll eat

So the smith forged her two iron teeth.

The witch returned and began gnawing the oak again.

She gnawed, and gnawed, and was just on the point of gnawing it
through, when Ivashko jumped out of it into another tree which stood
beside it. The oak that the witch had gnawed through fell down to the
ground; but then she saw that Ivashko was sitting up in another tree,
so she gnashed her teeth with spite and set to work afresh, to gnaw
that tree also. She gnawed, and gnawed, and gnawed--broke two lower
teeth, and ran off to the forge.

"Smith, smith!" she cried when she got there, "make me some iron
teeth; if you don't I'll eat you!"

The smith forged two more iron teeth for her. She went back again, and
once more began to gnaw the oak.

Ivashko didn't know what he was to do now. He looked out, and saw that
swans and geese[210] were flying by, so he called to them imploringly:

Oh, my swans and geese,
Take me on your pinions,
Bear me to my father and my mother,
To the cottage of my father and my mother,
There to eat, and drink, and live in comfort.

"Let those in the centre carry you," said the birds.

Ivashko waited; a second flock flew past, and he again cried

Oh, my swans and geese!
Take me on your pinions,
Bear me to my father and my mother,
To the cottage of my father and my mother,
There to eat, and drink, and live in comfort.

"Let those in the rear carry you!" said the birds.

Again Ivashko waited. A third flock came flying up, and he cried:

Oh, my swans and geese!
Take me on your pinions,
Bear me to my father and my mother,
To the cottage of my father and my mother,
There to eat, and drink, and live in comfort.

And those swans and geese took hold of him and carried him back, flew
up to the cottage, and dropped him in the upper room.

Early the next morning his mother set to work to bake pancakes, baked
them, and all of a sudden fell to thinking about her boy. "Where is my
Ivashko?" she cried; "would that I could see him, were it only in a

Then his father said, "I dreamed that swans and geese had brought our
Ivashko home on their wings."

And when she had finished baking the pancakes, she said, "Now, then,
old man, let's divide the cakes: there's for you, father! there's for
me! There's for you, father! there's for me."

"And none for me?" called out Ivashko.

"There's for you, father!" went on the old woman, "there's for me."

"And none for me!" [repeated the boy.]

"Why, old man," said the wife, "go and see whatever that is up there."

The father climbed into the upper room and there he found Ivashko.
The old people were delighted, and asked their boy about everything
that had happened. And after that he and they lived on happily

[That part of this story which relates to the baking
and eating of the witch's daughter is well known in
many lands. It is found in the German "Haensel und
Grethel" (Grimm. _KM._ No. 15, and iii. p. 25, where a
number of parallels are mentioned); in the Norse
"Askelad" (Asbjoernsen and Moe, No. 1. Dasent, "Boots
and the Troll," No. 32), where a Troll's daughter is
baked; and "Smoerbuk" (Asb. and Moe, No. 52. Dasent,
"Buttercup," No. 18), in which the victim is daughter
of a "Haugkjoerring," another name for a Troll-wife;
in the Servian story of "The Stepmother," &c. (Vuk
Karajich, No. 35, pp. 174-5) in which two _Chivuti_,
or Jews, are tricked into eating their baked mother;
in the Modern Greek stories (Hahn, No. 3 and ii. p.
181), in which the hero bakes (1) a _Drakaena_, while
her husband, the _Drakos_, is at church, (2) a
_Lamiopula_, during the absence of the _Lamia_, her
mother; and in the Albanian story of "Augenhuendin"
(Hahn, No. 95), in which the heroine gets rid in a
similar manner of Maro, the daughter of that four eyed
+sykieneza+. (See note, ii, 309.) Afanasief also refers
(i. p. 121) to Haltrich, No. 37, and Haupt and
Schmaler, ii. pp. 172-4. He also mentions a similar
tale about a giantess existing among the Baltic
Kashoubes. See also the end of the song of Tardanak,
showing how he killed "the Seven Headed Jelbegen,"
Radloff, i. p. 31.]

A variant of this story (from the Chernigof Government)[211] begins by
telling how two old people were childless for a long time. At last the
husband went into the forest, felled wood, and made a cradle. Into
this his wife laid one of the logs he had cut, and began swinging it,
crooning the while a rune beginning

Swing, blockie dear, swing.

After a little time "behold! the block already had legs. The old
woman rejoiced greatly and began singing anew, and went on singing
until the block became a babe." In this variant the boy rows a silver
boat with a golden oar; in another South Russian variant[212] the boat
is golden, the oar of silver. In a White-Russian variant quoted by
Afanasief (i. p. 118), the place of the witch's daughter is filled by
her son, who had been in the habit of alluring to her den by gifts of
toys, and there devouring, the children from the adjacent villages.
Buslaef's "Historical Essays," (i. pp. 313-321) contain a valuable
investigation of Kulish's version of this story, which he compares
with the romance of "The Knight of the Swan."

In another of the variants of this story[213] Ivanushka is the son of
a Baruinya or Lady, and he is carried off in a whirlwind by a Baba
Yaga. His three sisters go to look for him, and each of them in turn
finds out where he is and attempts to carry him off, after sending the
Baba Yaga to sleep and smearing her eyelids with pitch. But the two
elder sisters are caught on their way home by the Baba Yaga, and
terribly scratched and torn. The youngest sister, however, succeeds in
rescuing her brother, having taken the precaution of propitiating with
butter the cat Jeremiah, "who was telling the boy stories and singing
him songs." When the Baba Yaga awakes, she tells Jeremiah to scratch
her eyes open, but he refuses, reminding her that, long as he has
lived under her roof, she has never in any way regaled him, whereas
the "fair maiden" had no sooner arrived than she treated him to
butter. In another variant[214] the bereaved mother sends three
servant-maids in search of her boy. Two of them get torn to pieces;
the third succeeds in saving Ivanushka from the Baba Yaga, who is so
vexed that she pinches her butter-bribed cat to death for not having
awakened her when the rescue took place. A comparison of these three
stories is sufficient to show how closely connected are the Witch and
the Baba Yaga, how readily the name of either of the two may be
transferred to the other.

But there is one class of stories in which the _Vyed'ma_ is
represented as differing from the Baba Yaga, in so far as she is the
offspring of parents who are not in any way supernatural or inhuman.
Without any apparent cause for her abnormal conduct, the daughter of
an ordinary royal house will suddenly begin to destroy and devour all
living things which fall in her way--her strength developing as
rapidly as her appetite. Of such a nature--to be accounted for only on
the supposition that an evil spirit has taken up its abode in a human
body[215]--is the witch who appears in the somewhat incomprehensible
story that follows.