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- 6 -

by Ivan Bilibin


The questionings, whisperings and accusations went on for days. But she wouldn't say a word about it and just smiled to herself when she was asked about the hairpin.

Now the other two were watching every move she made. They searched her room several times and found nothing.

One night they went to their father. 'Father, we are worried about Raisa. We can't sleep at night with the noise. We think she has a secret visitor. She locks herself in her room and she is talking to someone all the time. And we know that someone has given her a diamond hairpin.'

'Don't be ridiculous,' said the father, 'Raisa has no friends. She never has any visitors. And where's this diamond hairpin that she's supposed to have?'

'Well, we don't know where it is now, but we've seen it Father, and we think it belongs to the Tsar's daughter.'

' - Belongs to the Tsar's daughter! And how do you think Raisa got it? Are you going to tell me now that the Tsar's daughter is visiting her in her room? Whatever will you two think of next? You've been listening to too many of those old wive's tales again!'

But you don't understand Father, we're sure that a young man's been visiting her!' said Elvira.

'Is that so, well, can you please explain what the Tsar's daughter's got to do with it? said the father, getting more and more annoyed at them.

'But you've got to believe us Father!' wailed Malvina.

'Yes Father!' cried Elvira. 'She has been acting so strangely lately - she never does any work in the house, and she just sits around day dreaming all day.'

'What's so strange about that?' the father wanted to know. 'She's always been a bit of a day-dreamer.'

However, seeing that he would get no peace, he at last gave in to their pestering and went to check up on Raisa. But the Tsar's son had already turned himself back into a feather long before the father had reached the top of the creaking staircase.

He berated the two sisters afterwards. 'You silly jealous things! Stop telling lies and leave your sister alone!'

The two were now seething with anger against Raisa. 'So, she thinks she can outwit us!' hissed Malvina between gritted teeth. 'There's definitely someone coming to her at night and I'm determined to find out who it is!

Elvira agreed: 'We've got to think of a plan - she's clever of course, but if we watch her like a hawk, she's sure to make a mistake sometime and then we've got her - hah!'

'That's exactly what I say - hah!' Joining hands, they both did a little dance around the room at the thought of their success, chanting :

'We're going to get her! We're going to get her!'

by Kandinsky

Suddenly there was a loud knocking on the door. They froze immediately and clutched at one other in fright. It couldn't be ...?

'It must be ...!' they whispered to one another staring wide-eyed at the door. The knocking became even louder.

Malvina called out coyly. 'Just wait a minute sir, if you please.'

Then to Elvira 'How do I look? Oh, I wish we had a mirror in here!'

'Never mind how you look, how do I look? Oh, I wonder if he'll give me a diamond hairpin too?' she giggled.

'Why should he give it to you? I'm the eldest!'

'And why shouldn't he?' ' Just a minute, if you please sir!' called out Malvina shrilly.

Then again to Elvira: 'Will you let me open the door!'

'Certainly not - I want to open it!' While they were bickering about who should open the door, it suddenly swung open with a loud bang. Their father stood in the doorway looking furious.

'Oh it's you, Father!' they both exclaimed together. 'And who else would it be? What on earth's going on? Don't you know it's four in the morning! Can't a man get a bit of peace around here? And you two complain about Raisa - hah! '

Just then Raisa called down the stairs 'What's all the noise about down there? I'm trying to sleep! Don't you two know what time it is?'

'Sorry, dear,' said her father,' your sisters are just acting a little silly tonight, but they're going straight to bed now,' he added fiercely, 'aren't you?'

'Yes Father,' they both said meekly.

             by Ivan Bilibin

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