- 6 -

Vasilisa walked deeper and deeper into the dark forest. She walked on in the darkness, becoming more and more certain that she was completely lost. Suddenly she heard the sound of a horse's hooves and a horseman galloped past her. He was dressed entirely in white, his horse was white, and as he passed her by, the first silver rays of dawn appeared in the sky.

A little while later she again heard the sound of a horse's hooves behind her and another man on horseback came galloping past her. She called out to him but he was going so fast he could not hear her.

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He was dressed in red, his horse was red and the harness was red. As he galloped passed her the sun came up and shone upon the topmost branches of the tallest trees.

Vasilisa walked on all day, not knowing where she was going. There was no path in that forest, as no one ever dared venture into it. The doll was silent, as she had no more food to give it.

Just as she thought she could no longer keep going, she saw a clearing through the trees. She could see what appeared to be a hut in the distance. But it seemed to be moving. At first she thought she was dreaming; for it was spinning around.

When she came closer she saw that the hut was on chicken's legs. The fence around the hut was made of bones, on the top of which were scores of grinning skulls with glaring eye sockets. The gates in the fence had hands for hinges. The locks were jawbones set with sharp iron teeth. At the sight of the fence Valilisa's blood ran cold and she stood rooted to the spot in terror.

Suddenly a third man on horseback came galloping up. His face was black, he was dressed all in black, and the horse he rode was jet black. He galloped up to the gates, took a leap towards the hut and suddenly disappeared into thin air. At the same moment night fell as if a black curtain had been thrown over the entire forest.

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Instantly, the glaring eye sockets of the skulls lit up and threw out their baleful light on the clearing until it gradually became as bright as day. Vasilisa shuddered at the sight - but worse was yet to come!

to page 7
(twelve pages in all)