Page:The Red Fairy Book.djvu/69

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
51
THE DEATH OF KOSHCHEI THE DEATHLESS

sit down on the stone, weep and weep, and then go to sleep. The sun went down behind the forest. Up came running the lioness.

'Arise, Prince Ivan! The mares are all collected.'

Prince Ivan arose and went home. More than ever did the Baba Yaga storm at her mares and shriek:

'Whatever did ye come back home for?'

'How could we help coming back? Beasts of prey came running at us from all parts of the world, and all but tore us utterly to pieces.'

'Well, to-morrow run off into the blue sea.'

Again did Prince Ivan sleep through the night. Next morning the Baba Yaga sent him forth to watch the mares.

'If you don't take good care of them,' says she, 'your bold head will be stuck on that pole!'

He drove the mares afield. Immediately they cocked up their tails, disappeared from sight, and fled into the blue sea. There they stood, up to their necks in water. Prince Ivan sat down on the stone, wept, and fell asleep. But when the sun had set behind the forest, up came flying a bee, and said:

'Arise, Prince! The mares are all collected. But when you get home, don't let the Baba Yaga set eyes on you, but go into the stable and hide behind the mangers. There you will find a sorry colt rolling in the muck. Do you steal it, and at the dead of night ride away from the house.'

Prince Ivan arose, slipped into the stable, and lay down behind the mangers, while the Baba Yaga was storming away at her mares and shrieking:

'Why did ye come back?'

'How could we help coming back? There came flying bees in countless numbers from all parts of the world, and began stinging us on all sides till the blood came!'

The Baba Yaga went to sleep. In the dead of the night Prince Ivan stole the sorry colt, saddled it, jumped on its back, and galloped away to the fiery river. When he came to that river he waved the handkerchief three times on the right hand, and suddenly, springing goodness knows whence, there hung across the river, high in the air, a splendid bridge. The Prince rode across the bridge and waved the handkerchief twice only on the left hand; there remained across the river a thin, ever so thin a bridge!

When the Baba Yaga got up in the morning the sorry colt was not to be seen! Off she set in pursuit. At full speed did she fly