Page:The Red Fairy Book.djvu/66

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48
THE DEATH OF KOSHCHEI THE DEATHLESS

'Why stumblest them? Scentest theu any ill?'

'Prince Ivan has come and has carried off Marya Morevna.'

Koshchei galloped off, caught Prince Ivan, chopped him into little pieces, put them into a barrel, smeared it with pitch and bound it with iron hoops, and flung it into the blue sea. But Marya Morevna he carried off home.

At that very time the silver articles turned black which Prince Ivan had left with his brothers-in-law.

'Ah!' said they, 'the evil is accomplished sure enough!'

Then the Eagle hurried to the blue sea, caught hold of the barrel, and dragged it ashore; the Falcon flew away for the Water of Life, and the Raven for the Water of Death.

Afterwards they all three met, broke open the barrel, took out the remains of Prince Ivan, washed them, and put them together in fitting order. The Raven sprinkled them with the Water of Death—the pieces joined together, the body became whole. The Falcon sprinkled it with the Water of Life—Prince Ivan shuddered, stood up, and said:

'Ah! what a time I've been sleeping!'

'You'd have gone on sleeping a good deal longer if it hadn't been for us,' replied his brothers-in-law. 'Now come and pay us a visit.'

'Not so, brothers; I shall go and look for Marya Morevna.'

And when he had found her, he said to her:

'Find out from Koshchei the Deathless whence he got so good a steed."

So Marya Morevna chose a favourable moment, and began asking Koshchei about it. Koshchei replied:

'Beyond thrice nine lands, in the thirtieth kingdom, on the other side of the fiery river, there lives a Baba Yaga. She has so good a mare that she flies right round the world on it every day. And she has many other splendid mares. I watched her herds for three days without losing a single mare, and in return for that the Baba Yaga gave me a foal.'

'But how did you get across the fiery river?'

'Why, I've a handkerchief of this kind—when I wave it thrice on the right hand, there springs up a very lofty bridge, and the fire cannot reach it.'

Marya Morevna listened to all this, and repeated it to Prince Ivan, and she carried off the handkerchief and gave it to him. So he managed to get across the fiery river, and then went on to the