S.Teplov. "Maria Morevna"
Box. 1990 Kholui
she said. ''Where are you going, to freedom or slavery?''
''Fine young men do not ride to slavery,'' Prince Ivan
''Well, since there is no hurry, be our guest, and
enter our tents,'' she invited him. The prince was
glad of the invitation, and he spent two nights in
the queen''s camp. He fell in love with her and she
with him, and they were married.
The beautiful Queen Maria Morevna took the prince
with her to her own country, and they lived happily
for some time. But then the queen decided to make
war on another country, so she handed over the government
of all her lands to Prince Ivan, and told him: ''Ride
everywhere, and keep an eye on everything. But one
thing you must not do: you must not even look into
this boxroom,'' and she showed him the door of the
boxroom. Unfortunately, the prince could not restrain
his curiosity; as soon as the queen had ridden away
he ran to the boxroom, opened the door, looked in,
and saw Kashchey the Deathless, fettered with twelve
chains. When Kashchey saw the prince he pleaded: ''Have
pity on me, give me some water to drink. For ten years
I have been suffering torments here, being given neither
food nor drink. And my throat is quite dry.'' So the
prince brought him a full bucket of water; he drank
it all in one gulp and asked: ''Give me some more;
my thirst cannot be quenched with a single bucketful.''
So the prince brought him a second bucketful. Kashchey
drank that, and asked for a third. But when he had
drunk the third bucketful of water all his former
strength was restored, he shook his chains, and snapped
all twelve at once. ''Thank you, Prince Ivan,'' Kashchey
the Deathless said. ''Now you will never see Maria
Morevna again any more than you can see your own
ears.'' He flew out of the window in a fearful gust
of wind, overtook the beautiful Queen Maria Morevna
on the road, caught her up and carried her off.
The prince, left alone in
his palace, wept bitterly over the loss of his beautiful
Maria Morevna, but then he decided to go and search
for her, and made ready for a long journey. ''No matter
what happens,'' he declared, ''I shall search till I
find Maria Morevna.''
He rode for one day, then a second, and at dawn of
the third day he came to a wonderful palace. An oak
was standing outside the palace, and in the oak a
white falcon was sitting. The falcon flew down from
the oak, beat itself against the ground, and turned
into a handsome young man. He cried: ''Why, it is my
brother-in-law! How is God treating you, Prince Ivan
?'' Princess Maria, Ivan''s sister, heard the shout
and ran out. She welcomed Ivan joyfully, asking about
his health, and wanting to know all that had happened
to him since she left. The prince stayed with his
sister and brother-in-law as their guest for three
days. But then he told them: ''I cannot stay with you
longer; I am looking for my wife, the beautiful Queen
''You will have difficulty in finding her,'' the falcon
said. ''But leave your silver spoon with us, just in
case we can help. We shall look at it and it will
remind us of you.'' So Prince Ivan left his silver
spoon with the falcon and went his way.
He travelled for two days,
and at dawn of the third day he saw ahead of him a
palace still finer than the falcon's. Outside it was
an oak, and in the oak an eagle was sitting.
When it saw Ivan the eagle flew down from the oak,
turned into a handsome young man and cried: ''Get up,
Princess Olga. Our dear brother Ivan has arrived.''
Princess Olga ran out and greeted Ivan joyfully, embracing
him, asking after his health and all that had happened
to him since her marriage. Prince Ivan spent three
days with his sister and brother-in-law, then he said:
''I cannot remain as your guest any longer. I am going
to look for my wife, Maria Morevna, the beautiful
queen.'' The eagle told him, ''You will have difficulty
in finding her. But leave your silver fork with us;
we shall look at it from time to time to remind ourselves
of you.'' So the prince gave them his silver fork,
said farewell, and rode off on his way.
Two more days he spent on the road, and at the dawn
of the third he came to a palace even finer than either
of the other two. Outside the palace an oak was growing,
on the oak a raven was sitting. When it saw Ivan the
raven flew down from the oak, beat against the ground,
changed into a handsome young man, and cried: ''Princess
Anna! Come quickly, our brother has arrived.'' Princess
Anna ran out and welcomed her brother joyfully, embracing
him and asking after his health and all that had happened
to him since she left. Prince Ivan was their guest
for three days, then he said: ''Goodbye! I must be
on my way to look for my wife, the beautiful Queen
''You will have a hard task finding her,'' the raven
said. ''But leave your silver snuffbox with us; we
will look at it occasionally to remind ourselves of
you.'' The prince gave them his silver snuffbox, said
goodbye, and went his way.
Two more days passed, but on the third he found his
way to Maria Morevna. She saw her beloved husband
coming, threw herself into his arms, and wept bitterly
as she said: ''Ah, Prince Ivan, why did not you listen
to me? Why did you look into the box-room and release
Kashchey the Deathless?''
''Forgive me, Maria Morevna.'' he pleaded. ''Do not
reproach me with the past, but ride away with me before
Kashchey the Deathless sees us. Perhaps we shall get
too far for him to overtake us.'' So they made ready
and rode away. Kashchey was out hunting; as he returned
home late in the afternoon his good horse stumbled
under him. ''What is the matter with you, you old nag?''
he demanded. ''What made you stumble? Have you scented
some misfortune?'' The horse answered: ''Prince Ivan
has come and carried off Maria Morevna.''
''But can we overtake them?'' Kashchey asked.
''You could sow your wheat,
wait for it to grow, you could harvest it and thresh
it, grind it into flour, bake bread from it in five
ovens, and eat the bread, and only then set out in
pursuit. And even so we would overtake them,'' said
the horse. So Kashchey galloped after and overtook
Prince Ivan. ''Well,'' he said to the prince, ''this
first time I forgive you because of your kindness
in giving me water to drink. And I will forgive you
a second time. But if it happens a third time look
out for yourself: I shall cut you into little pieces.''
He took Maria Morevna from the prince and carried
her off, while Ivan sat down on a stone and wept.
He wept until he had no more
tears to weep, then he set out again to carry off
Maria Morevna. When he arrived Kashchey the Deathless
happened to be out hunting. ''Let us go, Maria,'' said
the prince. But she answered: ''Ah, dear Ivan, he will
''Let him,'' he said, ''we shall at least spend an hour
or two together.'' And as he insisted, they made ready
and rode away. In the late afternoon Kashchey the
Deathless was riding back home when his horse stumbled
under him. ''What is the matter with you, old nag?''
he demanded. ''Why did you stumble? Have you perhaps
scented some misfortune?''
''Prince Ivan has come and carried Maria Morevna away,''
the horse answered. ''Then can we overtake them?'' he
asked. ''You could sow barley, wait for it to grow,
you could harvest and thresh it, brew beer from it,
drink the beer till you were drunk, sleep it off completely
and then ride in pursuit: and still we would catch
them.'' So Kashchey galloped after Prince Ivan, caught
up with him, and said: ''Do you not remember my telling
you would no more see Maria Morevna than you can
see your own ears? But I forgive you this second time.''
He took Maria Morevna from him and carried her off.
Prince Ivan was left alone; he wept and wept, but
then he went back a third time for Maria Morevna.
Kashchey happened to be out when he arrived. ''Let
us go, Maria,'' he pleaded. ''Ah, Ivan'' she answered,
''but he will overtake us, and then he will cut you
''Let him!'' said Prince Ivan. ''I cannot live without
you.'' So they made ready and rode away. As Kashchey
the Deathless was riding home that afternoon his good
horse stumbled. ''What made you stumble?'' he asked.
The horse answered: ''Prince Ivan has arrived and carried
off Maria Morevna yet again.'' Kashchey did not stop
to ask whether the horse could overtake them: he galloped
after Ivan and Maria, caught up with them, cut Ivan
into little pieces with his sword, and put the pieces
into a tarred barrel. Then he ringed the barrel with
iron hoops and flung it into the blue sea. And he
carried Maria Morevna back to his palace.
At the very moment that Kashchey cut Prince Ivan into
pieces the silver articles the prince had left with
his sisters were tarnished. ''Ah,'' his brothers-in-law
said, ''evidently some misfortune has happened to him.''
The eagle flew up and saw the barrel floating in the
sea, and dragged it on to the shore. The falcon flew
to fetch spring water, and the raven for still water.
Then all three flew to the spot where the barrel was
lying, broke it open, took out the pieces of Prince
Ivan, washed them, and put them together as they had
been. The raven sprinkled the still water over the
pieces, and they grew together and became one whole;
the falcon sprinkled the spring water over the body,
and Prince Ivan shuddered, sat up, and remarked: ''Why,
what a long time I have been asleep!''
''You would have slept even longer if it had not been
for us,'' his brothers-in-law told him. ''Now come and
be our guest.''
''No, dear brothers,'' he answered. ''I must go and look
for Maria Morevna.''
So he set off once more, reached the palace where
she was being held, and asked her: ''Find out from
Kashchey the Deathless where he obtained such a splendid
horse as he rides.'' Maria Morevna waited for a favourable
moment, and then asked Kashchey about the horse. And
he told her. ''Beyond twenty-seven lands, in the thirtieth
kingdom, the farther side of the River of Fire lives
a witch, Baba Yaga. She has a mare on which she flies
right round the world every day. She has many other
remarkable mares too. I worked for her three days
as a shepherd. She would not give me one of her mares
in payment for my work, but she did give me one small
''But how did you get across the River of Fire ?'' Maria
''I have a magic handkerchief. I waved it three times
to the right and a very high bridge arose, which the
fire could not reach.'' Maria Morevna listened carefully
to what he said, and told Prince Ivan all she had
found out. She managed to get hold of the magic handkerchief
without Kashchey knowing, and gave it to the prince.
G.Kotchétov "Troika noces"
Baguire. 2000. Palekh
Ivan used the handkerchief to cross the River of Fire,
and hurried on to find the witch, Baba Yaga. He walked
on and on for a long time without finding anything
to eat or drink. At last he happened to see a bird
with her little chicks, and he told her: ''I must eat
one of your chicks.''
''Please do not do that, Prince Ivan,'' she pleaded.
''Do not take any of my chicks, and sooner or later
I shall be of service to you.''
So he went on. A little later, in the forest he saw
a beehive, and he said: ''I will take some of the honey.''
But the queen bee pleaded: ''Do not take any of my
honey, Prince Ivan. Then some day I shall be of service
to you." So he did not touch the honey, and walked
on. He saw a lioness with her cub coming towards him,
and said: ''At any rate I must eat that cub. I am so
hungry that I could eat anything.''
''Please do not hurt my cub, Prince Ivan,'' the lioness
pleaded. ''Some time or other I may be of service to
''All right, just as you wish,'' he said.
So he wandered on, feeling terribly hungry, until
he came to the house of the witch, Baba Yaga. The
house was surrounded by twelve poles; on eleven of
the poles human heads were impaled, and only one pole
was without a head. He went up to the witch and said:
''Greetings, Prince Ivan,'' she answered. ''Why have
you come to visit me, of your own free will or out
''I have come to earn an heroic horse from you,'' he
''By all means, Prince. And you will have to serve
me for a year, only three altogether. If you graze
my mares without losing one of them I will give you
a horse fit for any hero. But if you fail, you must
not mind if I stick your head on that empty pole.''
The prince agreed to these terms, the witch gave him
food and drink, and told him to begin working, but
he had hardly driven the mares out into the field
when they kicked up their hoofs and scattered all
over the meadows; before he had time to look they
had all disappeared from sight. He was plunged into
despair, sat down on a stone, and began to weep; but
he was so tired that he fell asleep. The sun was setting
when he was awakened by the bird whose chick he had
spared. ''Get up, Prince Ivan,'' she said. ''And do not
worry: the mares are already at home.'' So the prince
got up and went back to the witch''s house. There he
found her shouting and screaming at the mares: ''Why
have you come back home?''
''But what else were we to do?'' they asked. ''Birds
came flying from all over the world and all but pecked
out our eyes.''
''In that case, tomorrow do not scatter over the meadows,
but run into the dense forest,'' she told them.
Prince Ivan had a good sleep that night, and in the
morning the witch told him: ''Look to it, Prince! If
you do not guard my mares properly, if you lose even
one, your fair head will decorate that pole.'' He went
to the mares and drove them out into the field. But
they immediately flourished their tails and scattered
about the dense forest. In his despair the prince
sat down on a stone and wept. But he felt tired after
chasing the mares, and he fell asleep. As the sun
was setting beyond the forest the lioness ran up to
him and awakened him. ''Go home, Prince Ivan,'' she
told him. ''The mares are
all rounded up.'' So the prince went back to the house.
There he found the witch raging and storming even
more than before at the mares. ''Why have you come
back home?'' she demanded.
''But what else could we do?'' they asked. ''Savage beasts
from all over the world came running after us and
all but tore us to pieces.''
''Well then,'' she said, ''tomorrow you must run right
into the blue sea.''
The prince had another good sleep that night, and
next morning the witch sent him out a third time to
guard the mares. ''But if you lose one of them,'' she
warned him, ''your head will decorate the pole.'' As
soon as he drove the mares into the field they tossed
their manes and disappeared from his sight, for they
ran right into the blue sea. There they stood up to
their necks in the water. Prince Ivan was in despair;
he sat down on a stone and wept. And as he wept he
fell asleep. The sun was setting when the queen bee
flew up and told him: ''Get up, Prince. All the mares
are rounded up. But when you go back, do not let the
witch see you. Go into the stable and hide behind
the mangers. In there you will see a sorry-looking
foal rolling in the dung. Steal him, and in the dead
of night ride away from the witch''s house.''
Prince Ivan rose, went to the stable, and hid behind
the mangers. As he lay there he heard Baba Yaga shouting
and swearing at her mares: ''What have you come back
for?'' she demanded.
''But what else were we to do ?'' they asked. ''Swarms
of bees from all over the world flew up and stung
us until they drew blood.''
The witch went off to bed,
and at midnight Prince Ivan took the sorry-looking
foal, saddled it, and galloped off to the River of
Fire. He rode up to the river, and waved Kashchey's
handkerchief three times to the right. Suddenly a
magnificent, lofty bridge hung over the river, appearing
from nowhere. He rode across the bridge, and waved
the handkerchief to the left. But he waved it only
twice, and a very slender bridge was left across the
river. On the farther side, the prince gave the foal
a good feed of grass in a green meadow, and it grew
into a magnificent horse.
Next morning when the witch woke up she could not
find the prince, and soon discovered that the foal
had gone. So she rushed in pursuit, riding in her
iron mortar and urging it on with a pestle, sweeping
away her tracks behind her with a besom. She rode
up to the River of Fire, looked at the bridge, and
thought: ''That is a good bridge!'' But when she rode
on to the bridge and reached the middle it collapsed,
and she fell headlong into the River of Fire. There
she met with a fearful death.
Meanwhile, Prince Ivan rode once more to rescue Maria
Morevna; she saw him coming, ran out, and flung her
arms round his neck. ''How have you been restored to
life ?'' she asked him. He told her all that had happened
to him, and said: ''Now ride home with me.''
''But I am afraid, Prince Ivan,'' she answered. ''If
Kashchey overtakes us he will cut you into little
''He will not overtake us this time,'' he told her.
''Now I have a magnificent horse, good enough for any
hero; it flies along like a bird.'' So they mounted
the horse and rode away.
As Kashchey the Deathless was returning home in the
afternoon his horse stumbled. ''What is the matter
with you, old nag?'' he asked it.
''Prince Ivan has come again and carried off Maria
Morevna,'' the horse told him.
''But can we overtake them?'' he asked.
''Goodness knows!'' the horse answered. ''Prince Ivan
now has a horse fit for any hero, and it is even better
''No, I cannot endure the
thought of his getting away,'' Kashchey said. ''We
will go in pursuit.'' He rode long, he rode hard,
and he caught up with Prince Ivan, sprang to the ground,
and was about to cut him down with his sharp sword.
But Ivan's horse let fly with its hind hoofs, kicked
Kashchey with all its force and smashed in his head.
Ivan finished him off with a club. Then the prince
made a pile of wood, set fire to it, burnt Kashchey
the Deathless on the pyre, and scattered the ashes
to the four winds.
Maria Morevna seated herself
on Kashchey's horse, the prince mounted his, and they
rode away to visit first the raven, then the eagle,
and then the falcon. At each of the palaces they were
welcomed joyfully. ''Ah, Prince Ivan,'' his sisters
and brothers-in-law said, ''we had given up all hope
of ever seeing you again. But now we can see why you
exposed yourself to such great danger. You could search
all over the world for another queen as beautiful
as Maria Morevna, and you would never find one.''
At each of the three palaces they feasted and banqueted,
and then they rode off to their own kingdoms. When
they arrived home they once more lived in happiness