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Finist's Palace by Ivan Bilibin

 

Baba Yaga's spool of thread seemed to be rolling much faster now. 'Perhaps it knows it's coming to the end of its journey,' thought Raisa and began to feel a little better. Sometimes, when the thread rolled on and on through the night, she did not dare to rest in case she lost sight of it, no matter how tired she felt. Although she almost felt at the end of her strength now, Raisa somehow managed to keep stumbling along after the thread.

When at last the third pair of iron shoes had been worn through, the third iron walking stick broken and the third pilgrim's loaf eaten, the spool of thread led her to the house of the oldest Baba Yaga, in the middle of a forest of silver birch trees.

'Where are you going to, my pretty one?' said the oldest Baba Yaga fixing Raisa with her beady eye.

by Ivan Bibibin

'I am searching for Finist the Bright Falcon,' she
managed to gasp out in reply, for the oldest Baba Yaga was even more terrible to look upon than her two younger sisters.

'I know Finist the Bright Falcon of the rainbow feathers,' said Baba Yaga.

'Finist the Bright Falcon is living on the blue ocean in the three-times nine kingdom and is about to be married. There is not much time left.'

When she heard this Raisa once again shed bitter tears for Finist the Bright Falcon.

'Dry your tears and follow your dream,' said Baba Yaga.

Raisa again thought of the words that Finist had said to her and hope came back to her once more. 'After all,' she thought, 'I've already worn through three pairs of iron shoes, three iron rods and have eaten three stone-hard loaves - it can't be much further.'

 

by Ivan Bibibin

 

When she entered Baba Yaga's hut, everything was just the same as it had been in the huts of her two sisters.

'Now, where's that bear-hug armchair?' she said, looking around at all the things that were becoming familiar to her now, although there were quite a few things still that she could not quite get used to. She took good care now not to let her eyes even glance in the direction of the mirror and she ignored the thousand eye jars as best as she could.

'Did you ever get a feeling of Déja Vu puss?' joked Raisa to the cat as she sank down into the comfortable bear armchair.

' I don't speak French!' the cat replied in a haughty tone. 'Speak Russian!'

Poor Raisa got quite a shock at hearing the cat suddenly speak and stood there feeling quite foolish and not knowing what to say.

'Things are not always what they seem, ' said the oldest Baba Yaga going off into a long, loud cackle of laughter.

After a while she said: 'And yes, the toad can speak too. He just doesn't bother. He doesn't need to, do you, my pretty?' crooned Baba Yaga to him as she threw him down some food.

Raisa slept soundly that night and was woken by the old crone at sunrise.

The oldest Baba Yaga gave Raisa a parting gift. 'Here is a golden embroidery frame and a needle. When you hold the frame the needle will embroider by itself. When you come to the blue ocean, in the three-times nine kingdom, the bride of Finist will be out walking on the beach.

When she sees the golden embroidery frame she will want to buy it from you, but do not take any money for it. Instead ask her to see Finist the Bright Falcon.'

The oldest Baba Yaga took the spool of thread, threw it on the ground in front of Raisa and told her: 'Go now and follow this thread to the blue ocean. It will be your guide.' Raisa thanked the oldest Baba Yaga and went on her way, following the spool of thread.

After some time the forest came to an end and soon the blue ocean lay in front of her as far as the eye could see. In the distance the sun sparkled on the golden roof of the white palace.

'This must be the kingdom of Finist the Bright Falcon,' thought Raisa to herself.

by Ivan Bilibin

 

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