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- 3 -

Raisa's Dream
Picture by Kandinsky


His three daughters came out to welcome him home and, needless to say, to get their presents. He gave Malvina the earrings and Elvira got the silk scarf.

He then turned to Raisa. 'And for you my dear, I have something I think you will like.' When he brought out the casket with the feather of Finist, she was overjoyed.

'It's a feather of Finist the Bright Falcon, isn't it Father?' she exclaimed happily, opening the casket. When she saw the beautiful rainbow-coloured feather, she hugged it to herself, all the time dancing around the room like a mad thing.

Now her sisters, who had been watching all this, exchanged glances. 'Well, it's all right for a feather, I daresay, but I can't for the life of me imagine what it's good for.' Malvina sneered, out of earshot of her father.

'Well, whatever tickles your fancy, I suppose!' sniggered Elvira.

Taking no notice of these remarks, Raisa thanked her father, returned the feather to its casket and went straight to her tiny room at the top of the house. As was her custom, she locked the door behind her.

When she was alone in her room, she opened the casket. The feather immediately flew out and drifted gently to the floor. It had barely touched the floorboards, when a handsome young Tsar's son appeared before her. Startled,she gasped out 'Who are you?'

He said nothing at first and just stood there smiling at her.
'Not - Finist?' she brought out at last.

'Who else?' he replied, at the same time giving her an exaggerated bow and a click of his heels.

She laughed and clapped her hands. 'That's just what you did in my dream!' she exclaimed.

After a while she forgot her nervousness and soon they were talking together as if they had known each other all their lives.

Meanwhile, her sisters had heard the sounds of whispering and muffled laughter coming from her room. They knocked upon the door calling out 'Who are you talking to in there, Raisa?' 'No one, I'm just talking to myself as usual,' she replied, trying to repress a giggle. This, of course, infuriated the other two, who demanded to be let into the room at once.

The Tsar's son immediately changed back into a feather again. She picked up the feather, returned it to its casket and unlocked the door. Her two sisters made a mad dash into the room, but there appeared to be no one there but Raisa.

What faces they made! Malvina muttered 'She's really going off her head now!' Elvira scowled in agreement.'That's what comes of Father giving in to her silly whims - I don't know how he could waste money on such a silly thing!'

Her sisters had barely left the room when the feather changed back into the form of the Tsar's son and Raisa could not help but laugh. 'I wish I could laugh like this about my sisters when I'm alone,' she said.

'From now on,' said Finist, 'you need never be alone again; whenever you call for me I will fly to you. If you should ever want anything, just wave the feather to the right and everything you wish for will be yours. When you wave it to the left, all will be as before.'

Finist by Ivan Bilibin

As the first rays of dawn broke over the dark forest, they said their farewells. Raisa took the feather from the casket, opened the window and called out:

                'Fly out and away,

                O feather mine,

                fly out wild and free,

                until the time is right -

                until the dark midnight!'

The feather changed into a rainbow coloured falcon and flew out and upwards into the brightening sky.


by Ivan Bilibin


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