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- 10 -

 

Raisa thanked Baba Yaga and bade her farewell, and set out again on her journey. But her heart was now heavy since she had heard the news, for she feared that it was now perhaps already too late.

She walked for a long time over steppe and barren wilderness, until the second pair of iron shoes were worn out, the second iron walking stick broken and the second stone-hard loaf gone.

One evening she came to the edge of a swamp. Mosquitoes buzzed over the swamp. There was a smell of stagnant water in the air. It was almost dark and bats were swooping low over the swamp catching insects.

 


by Rousseau

 

Through the mist she spotted a hut on chicken's legs just like the last, but because darkness was coming down fast, she was afraid to go any further for fear of falling into the swamp.

In spite of the darkness, she could still see the spool of thread rolling ahead of her. It seemed to be shimmering in the darkness. It rolled on in a zig-zag path across the swamp.

Rather than turn back in the dark and risk falling into the swamp, she decided it would be best to follow it. Although she was already tired, she had to run to keep up with the spool of thread, which seemed to have put on an extra spurt of speed.

She stopped for a second to get her breath, but immediately decided to keep going when a swarm of mosquitoes began dancing around her head. To her relief, once she started moving on they disappeared again as fast as they had come.

A few moments later she realised that she had almost reached the hut.

Just then she heard an old croaking voice. 'Ah, so Baba Yaga, my youngest sister has at last returned my spool of thread! She has had it for more than ninety years.

No wonder my clothes are falling apart.'

Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibn

 

An old woman stepped out from behind a tree, picked up the spool of thread and held it to her gnarled old cheek. She stroked the spool of thread with her long bony fingers and spoke softly to it. 'And what have you brought with you this time?' And she cocked her head to one side as if listening to something.

Raisa listened too, but couldn't hear anything at all. The second Baba Yaga came up to her, squinted up into her face, (for she was bent over even more than the first Baba Yaga,) and croaked 'Where are you going to, my pretty one?'

Raisa got quite a shock at seeing that terrible face up so close, and her first instinct was to immediately turn around and run away as fast as possible.

But she had also been brought up to be polite and to consider the feelings of others. Another reason she did not run away could have been that she was numb with fright. Still, she could not help her voice trembling a little as she said:

'Oh please, I am looking for Finist the Bright Falcon.'

'I know Finist the Bright Falcon of the rainbow coloured feathers.' said second Baba Yaga. 'You have a long way in front of you. It won't be easy to find him. But you must follow your dream.

 

The one you seek is promised to be married in the three times nine kingdom. But I think I can help you.

First come inside and have something to eat.'

A crowd of fluttering bats flew up around the doorway as they entered the hut. Baba Yaga crooned to them:

'Don't be frightened of the pretty one, my little pets, she is a friend of Finist the Bright Falcon!'

Everything in the hut seemed to be exactly as it had been in the hut of the first Baba Yaga. There on the shelves were the jars with the thousand eyes that she could feel watching her whenever she looked away. There was the Mirror of Reality again with its strange dark reflections.

The chair with the carved bear's paws seemed to be welcoming her back into their arms again. The toad was starting to crawl over towards the table. The food was as delicious as in the last house, the freshly baked bread, the kefir drink, the mushrooms and berries.

Once again, a large black cat came up to the witch and rubbed itself against her boney legs.

After they had eaten, the second Baba Yaga gave her some cushions for the night where she slept soundly.

At dawn Baba Yaga woke her and gave her a present of a silver dish with a golden egg on it.

by Ivan Bibibin

'When you come to the blue ocean, in the three times nine kingdom, the bride of Finist the Bright Falcon will be out walking on the beach. When you roll the golden egg on the silver dish, she will want to buy it from you, but do not take any money for it. Instead ask to see Finist the Bright Falcon.'

She told her. 'Go now to the house of my older sister. She knows where to find Finist the Bright Falcon. She will help you.'

'But how will I find my way back through the swamp, now that I don't have the spool of thread anymore?' Raisa was thinking. To her relief Baba Yaga had also thought of that.

'You may follow the spool of thread to my older sister. Since I have waited over ninety years for my clothes to be mended, a few more won't make any difference!' with these words Baba Yaga threw down the spool of thread in front of Raisa and it began to roll out over the swamp.

Raisa thanked the second Baba Yaga and went on her way following the spool of thread.

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