upon a time, there was a merchant who
lived alone with his three daughters
in a small village in Russia. The eldest,
Malvina, a powerfully built young woman
with fiery red hair and a temper to
match, tended to bully her younger sisters.
If she did not get her own way, she
would shout, scream, and a lot more
besides, until she did.
second eldest, Elvira, was a thin, dark
haired girl and rather sulky at times.
She often felt bullied by Malvina, but
was afraid to stand up to her and usually
ended up doing whatever Malvina wanted.
However, she had her own little methods
of paying back Malvina for her bullying.
two were known in the village as "the
Belles from hell."
the youngest, was a quiet girl, with
a long straw coloured plait, (her sisters
called it 'mousy') who spent a lot of
time on her own, since the others considered
her 'too young' to be included in their
village provided almost everything they
needed, but sometimes they
had to go into the local town to buy
other items that were not available.
day the merchant was going to town,
and asked his daughters what they would
like. Malvina said she wanted earrings,
while Elvira wanted a silk scarf.
however, had rather a strange request.
then again, there were those who thought
Raisa 'strange,' or a little odd because
of her daydreaming. She spent a lot
of time out alone in the forest and
was often seen talking to plants and
She had had a dream once of a prince
from a far off kingdom and sometimes
felt that this dream was more real to
her than her own life. She often thought
about this dream and what it could mean,
but she never spoke of it to anyone.
Picture by Kandinsky
asked: 'Father, please bring me back
a feather of Finist the Bright Falcon.'
Now, her Father, although he knew nothing
of Finist the Bright Falcon, was not
at all surprised at her request, for
it was already the third time she had
asked this of him during the past year.
But, my dear!' he replied 'I have asked
time and time again in the town for
such a feather and no one has ever heard
of Finist the Bright Falcon. People
are surely beginning to think I'm a
little mad.' Raisa answered with a smile
' But I have heard of him Father and
perhaps I will be lucky this time.'
The merchant, not knowing
quite what to
say, merely shook his head and promised
that he would try his best. Then he
kissed his daughters goodbye.
two sisters had, of course, laughed
at her request. When the father had
left the house they began to tease her.
'What do you want with an old feather?'
Malvina sneered. And Elvira added 'Just
look at you in those old things, why,
you're a disgrace to the family!'
said nothing. When her sisters teased
her, she was usually silent, which made
them angry and likely as not they would
then find some unpleasant task for her.
you have nothing better to do why don't
you go out and clean the henhouse!'
Malvina ordered her.
'Go on, what are you waiting for?' Elvira
sneered, 'perhaps you'll find a feather
(thirteen pages in all)