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the water. The Tsar, the guests, the servants, even the gray cat sitting in the corner, all were amazed and wondered at the beautiful Vassilissa. Her two sisters-in-law alone envied
. her. When their turn came to dance, they also waved their left sleeves as Vassilissa had done, and, oh, wonder! they sprinkled wine all around. They waved their right sleeves, and instead of swans the bones flew in the face of the Tsar father. The Tsar grew very angry and bade them leave the palace. In the meantime Ivan Tsarevitch watched a moment to slip away unseen. He ran home, found the frogskin, and burned it in the fire.
Vassilissa, when she came back, searched for the skin, and when she could not find it, her beautiful face grew sad and her bright eyes filled with tears. She said to Tsarevitch Ivan, her husband:
“Oh, dear Tsarevitch, what hast thou done? There was but a short time left for me to wear the ugly frogskin. The moment was near when we could have been happy together forever. Now I must bid thee good-by. Look for me in a far-away country to which no one knows the road, at the palace of Kostshei the Deathless”; and Vassilissa turned into a white swan and flew away through the window.
Tsarevitch Ivan wept bitterly. Then he prayed to the almighty God, and making the sign of the cross northward, southward, eastward, and westward, he went on a mysterious journey.
No one knows how long his journey was, but one day he met an old, old man. He bowed to the old man, who said:
“Good day, brave fellow. What art thou searching for, and whither art thou going?”
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Tsarevitch Ivan answered sincerely, telling all about his misfortune without hiding anything.
“And why didst thou burn the frogskin? It was wrong to do so. Listen now to me. Vassilissa was born wiser than her own father, and as he envied his daughter's wisdom he
condemned her to be a frog for three long years. But I pity thee and want to help thee. Here is a magic ball. In whatever direction this ball rolls, follow without fear.”
Ivan Tsarevitch thanked the good old man, and followed his new guide, the ball. Long, very long, was his road. One day in a wide, flowery field he met a bear, a big Russian bear. Ivan Tsarevitch took his bow and was ready to shoot the bear.
“Do not kill me, kind Tsarevitch," said the bear. “Who knows but that I may be useful to thee?” And Ivan did not shoot the bear.
Above in the sunny air there flew a duck, a lovely white duck. Again the Tsarevitch drew his bow to shoot it. But the duck said to him:
"Do not kill me, good Tsarevitch. I certainly shall be useful to thee some day.”
And this time he obeyed the command of the duck and passed by. Continuing his way he saw a blinking hare. The Tsarevitch prepared an arrow to shoot it, but the gray, blinking hare said:
“Do not kill me, brave Tsarevitch. I shall prove myself grateful to thee in a very short time."
The Tsarevitch did not shoot the hare, but passed by. He walked farther and farther after the rolling ball, and came to the deep blue sea. On the sand there lay a fish. I do not remember the name of the fish, but it was a big fish, almost dying on the dry sand.
"O Tsarevitch Ivan!” prayed the fish, “have mercy upon me and push me back into the cool sea.”
The Tsarevitch did so, and walked along the shore. The
ball, rolling all the time, brought Ivan to a hut, a queer, tiny hut standing on tiny hen's feet.
“Izboushka! Izboushka!” — for so in Russia do they name small huts
"Izboushka, I want thee to turn thy front to me,” cried Ivan, and lo! the tiny
hut turned its front at once. Ivan stepped in and saw a witch, one of the ugliest witches he could imagine.
“Ho! Ivan Tsarevitch! What brings thee here?" was his greeting from the witch.
"Do not kill me, brare Tsarevitch"