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- 12 -

by Ivan Bilibin


She sat down on the golden sands beside the blue ocean and took out the spinning wheel and began to spin. After a while people began to gather around her and were amazed to see the golden thread.

The bride of Finist was out walking on the beach. She saw the crowd of people gathered around Raisa and her spinning wheel. When she saw the pure gold thread Raisa was spinning she said:

'Will you sell me your spinning wheel, girl?'

'I will not sell it for money,' said Raisa. 'All I ask is to see Finist the Bright Falcon.'

The bride frowned when she heard these words and said nothing for a few minutes. But she badly wanted the spinning wheel.

'I could be rich if I had it!' she thought to herself. She walked off a little distance and discussed it with one of her friends.

'Why don't you give Finist a sleeping potion? Then he won't know anything about it!' said her friend.

'You're right!' she said. 'It can't do any harm.'

She went back over to where Raisa sat spinning. 'Give me the silver spinning wheel and the golden spindle and tonight when Finist is asleep, I will take you to him.' she said.

That evening the bride made up a strong sleeping potion and put it into Finist's wine. When he was asleep she took Raisa into his room.

Raisa spent the night crying and weeping over Finist. She cried over and over again 'Wake up, Finist, wake up! It's me, Raisa! I've been searching for you for so long!

I've done all you've asked of me. I've worn through three pairs of iron shoes, broken three iron rods and have eaten three stone-hard pilgrim's loaves while searching for you. Just open your eyes and look at me! Oh, why don't you wake up?'

But Finist did not wake up.

At dawn the bride came into the room and told Raisa, 'You must go now.'

When Finist woke up later that morning, he exclaimed 'How long have I been asleep?

I can't understand it - was it a dream, or what? I'm sure there was someone in my room last night. I could hear crying and weeping. But I couldn't open my eyelids, I was so tired.'

'You must have been dreaming, there was no one here at all,' said his bride.

The next day Raisa sat down beside the blue ocean and took out the silver bowl and golden egg. She began to roll the golden egg around in the silver bowl.

When it stopped rolling, a dozen golden eggs appeared in the bowl.

Again a crowd gathered around her and as before, the bride of Finist came up to her. When she saw the silver bowl with the golden eggs, she immediately asked Raisa to sell it to her. 'It is not for sale,' said Raisa.

'But if you let me watch a second night beside the bed of Finist the Bright Falcon, you may have it.'

The bride thought to herself  'Well, if Finist didn't realise she was there last night; one more night can't do any harm.' 'Very well', said the bride, 'come to the palace tonight as before.'

That evening a sleeping potion was once again put into Finist's wine.

Raisa again spent the night crying and weeping over her beloved Finist, entreating him to awaken. But, as before, he did not wake up.

Raisa was sent away at dawn.

Later on that morning Finist awoke and said: 'I've had that dream again! What can it mean? It seemed as if someone I loved a long time ago was crying and weeping over me all night long. My heart is sad because of this.'

'I've had some strange dreams too lately, but I don't think they mean anything though.' said his bride, with a sly smile.

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