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"Oh, thou old mischief!” shouted Ivan with anger. “Is it the way in holy Russia to ask questions before the tired guest gets something to eat, something to drink, and some hot water to wash the dust off?”
Baba Yaga, the witch, gave the Tsarevitch plenty to eat and drink, besides hot water to wash the dust off. Tsarevitch Ivan felt refreshed. Soon he became talkative, and related the wonderful story of his marriage. He told how he had lost his dear wife, and that his only desire was to find her.
“I know all about it," answered the witch. “She is now at the palace of Kostshei the Deathless, and thou must understand that Kostshei is terrible. He watches her day and night and no one can ever conquer him. His death depends on a magic needle. That needle is within a hare; that hare is within a large trunk; that trunk is hidden in the branches of an old oak tree; and that oak tree is watched by Kostshei as closely as Vassilissa herself, which means closer than any treasure he has.”
Then the witch told Ivan Tsarevitch how and where to find the oak tree. Ivan hastily went to the place. But when he perceived the oak tree he was much discouraged, not knowing what to do or how to begin the work. Lo and behold! that old acquaintance of his, the Russian bear, came running along, approached the tree, uprooted it, and the trunk fell and broke. A hare jumped out of the trunk and began to run fast; but another hare, Ivan's friend, came running after, caught it and tore it to pieces. Out of the hare there flew a duck, a gray one which flew very high and was almost invisible, but the beautiful white duck
followed the bird and struck its gray enemy, which lost an egg. That egg fell into the deep sea. Ivan meanwhile was anxiously watching his faithful friends helping him. But
when the egg disappeared in the blue waters he could not help weeping. All of a sudden a big fish came swimming up, the same fish he had saved, and brought the egg in his mouth. How happy Ivan was when he took it! He broke it and found the needle inside, the magic needle upon which everything depended.
At the same moment Kostshei lost his strength and power forever. Ivan Tsarevitch entered his vast dominions, killed him with the magic needle, and in one of the palaces found his own dear wife, his beautiful Vassilissa. He took her home and they were very happy ever after.
From "Folk Tales from the Russian.”
Tsär'stvo, the land ruled over by a tsar (czar); sov'ēr eign, ruling with supreme power; Tsa rev'itch (tsä rāv'ich), the son of the tsar; bo yar'-house, the house of a nobleman; ter'em (tār'ěm), the part of the boyar-house in which the rooms of the women were located; děs'tă ny, that which is determined by the higher powers; box, a carriage; wā'ģēr, to bet; Kost'she i (kost'shě ē), an evil spirit; măg'ie, with wonderful power; Iz boush'ka (ēz boosh'kä), a small hut; Bä'bä Yä gä', a witch; Vas sil is'sa (väs ēl ē'sä). STUDY HELPS
How did the three princes find their wives?
What third order did the Tsar give? Why was Ivan's brow "more cloudy than before"?
What instructions did the frog-wife give him about greeting her at the party?
Why did his brothers make fun of Ivan? What did they say was the reason he had not brought his wife?
Tell how Vassilissa arrived at the party, how she looked, and what she did.
Why was Ivan so happy?
What happened when the sisters-in-law tried to imitate Vassilissa?
Why did Ivan slip away before the party was over?
Tell the story of how he finally succeeded in rescuing Vassilissa from Kostshei. Be careful to name everything that helped Ivan; and to tell just how it helped.
Are you glad the story turns out as it does? Why?
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain lake, With frogs for their watchdogs,
All night awake.
High on the hilltop
The old King sits;
He's nigh lost his wits.
Columbkill he crosses, On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses; Or going up with music
On cold starry nights, To sup with the Queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.
They stole little Bridget
For seven years long; When she came down again
Her friends were all gone. They took her lightly back,
Between the night and morrow; They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow. They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake, On a bed of flag leaves,
Watching till she wake.