Page:The Red Fairy Book.djvu/65

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47
THE DEATH OF KOSHCHEI THE DEATHLESS

'Why stumblest thou, sorry jade? Scentest thou some ill?'

The steed replied:

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

'Is it possible to catch them?'

'It is possible to sow wheat, to wait till it grows up, to reap it and thresh it, to grind it to flour, to make five pies of it, to eat those pies, and then to start in pursuit—and even then to be in time.'

Koshchei galloped off and caught up Prince Ivan.

'Now,' says he, 'this time I will forgive you, in return for your kindness in giving me water to drink. And a second time I will forgive you; but the third time beware! I will cut you to bits.'

Then he took Marya Morevna from him, and carried her off. But Prince Ivan sat down on a stone and burst into tears. He wept and wept—and then returned back again to Marya Morevna. Now Koshchei the Deathless happened not to be at home.

'Let us fly, Marya Morevna!'

'Ah, Prince Ivan! he will catch us.'

'Suppose he does catch us. At all events we shall have spent an hour or two together.'

So they got ready and fled. As Koshchei the Deathless was returning home, his good steed stumbled beneath him.

'Why stumblest thou, sorry jade? Scentest thou some ill? '

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

'Is it possible to catch them? '

'It is possible to sow barley, to wait till it grows up, to reap it and thresh it, to brew beer, to drink ourselves drunk on it, to sleep our fill, and then to set off in pursuit—and yet to be in time.'

Koshchei galloped off, caught up Prince Ivan:

'Didn't I tell you that you should not see Marya Morevna any more than your own ears?'

And he took her away and carried her off home with him. Prince Ivan was left there alone. He wept and wept; then he went back again after Marya Morevna. Koshchei happened to be away from home at that moment.

'Let us fly, Marya Morevna!'

'Ah, Prince Ivan! he is sure to catch us and hew you in pieces.'

'Let him hew away! I cannot live without you.'

So they got ready and fled.

Koshchei the Deathless was returning home when his good steed stumbled beneath him.