[Darkwood-SCA] A Russian Fairy Tale

Laurie Hupman rose at santiagosmagic.com
Wed Aug 27 19:13:15 PDT 2008

The Frog Princess

Once upon a time in a faraway land, there was a tsar who had three  
three unmarried sons. The tsar wanted them all to marry and carry on  
their line. He told them, "Each of you must go out to the field beyond  
the palace grounds and shoot an arrow into the air as far as you can.  
You must marry whoever lives at the place where your arrow lands."

The three sons did as their father had asked. The arrow of the eldest  
son landed in the courtyard of a boyar (nobleman) and the boyar's  
daughter picked it up. The arrow of the middle son fell into a  
merchant's yard, where the merchant's daughter found it. The youngest  
son, Prince Ivan, shot his arrow into a swamp. When he went into the  
swamp to find it, he found a frog holding the arrow in its mouth.  
Being a dutiful son, he did what his father had asked, and all three  
sons married their brides.

Of course, the first two sons never tired in the days that followed of  
laughing at their younger brother and his frog-wife. Prince Ivan was  
very sad, but he kept his bargain and treated the frog as if she were  
a princess. At least she was a frog who was able to speak.

One day the tsar called his three sons to him and said, "I want each  
of your wives to sew me the best possible shirt she can by tomorrow  

The first two sons went off to tell the tsar's command to their wives,  
while Prince Ivan went home looking very sad. When the frog asked him  
what was wrong, he said, "My father wants you to sew him a beautiful  
shirt by tomorrow." "Oh, don't worry, Prince Ivan," the frog replied,  
"just go to bed. Morning is wiser than evening."

That night when everyone was asleep, the frog turned into a beautiful  
princess named Vasilisa the Wise. She clapped her hands together and  
said, "Come, my maids and servants, sew me a shirt like the one I saw  
at my dear father's!" In the morning Ivan woke to find a beautiful  
shirt lying on a chair and ran happily with it to the palace. The tsar  
did not like the shirts of his other daughters-in-law, but loved the  
one Ivan had brought.

A few days later, the tsar said to his sons, "I want your wives to  
bake the finest bread for me by tomorrow." Of course, the same thing  
happened; the frog made the bread that pleased the tsar best. Then the  
tsar told his sons, "Dear sons, tomorrow I will hold a feast at the  
palace. I want you to bring your wives dressed in their finest  
clothes." Prince Ivan went home and told the frog about the feast. She  
told him, "Don't worry, Prince Ivan, go to the feast by yourself. I  
will come later."

Next day Ivan went to the feast alone, and his brothers and their  
wives started to laugh at him, saying, "Where is your frog-wife?" All  
of a sudden everybody heard a thunderous sound approaching the palace.  
A golden carriage drove up to the entrance, the door opened, and  
Vasilisa the Wise descended from the carriage. To everyone's  
astonishment, she took the hand of Prince Ivan and walked in with him  
to the feast.

At the dinner table Vasilisa, after eating the main course of baked  
swan, put some of the bones up her sleeve, drank some wine, and poured  
the rest from the glass up her other sleeve. Her sisters-in-law saw  
her and repeated what she had done. When everyone got up to dance,  
Vasilisa, dancing with Ivan, waved with one sleeve and a lake  
appeared, then waved with another sleeve and several white swans  
appeared on the lake. Her sisters-in-law also waved with their  
sleeves, but they only splashed the guests with wine and threw bones  
all over the dance floor.

Prince Ivan was so overjoyed to have such a wonderful wife that he ran  
home while everyone was still at the feast and burned his wife's  
discarded frog skin so that she would remain beautiful. When Vasilisa  
returned home and could not find her frog skin, she became sad and  
said, "Ah, Prince Ivan, you have no idea what you did. If you had  
waited three more days, I would have been your real wife forever. But  
now I must go live as the prisoner of Koshchei the Deathless." Then  
she disappeared.

Ivan wept sorrowfully and went to search for his wife. On the way he  
met an old man and told him what happened. The old man said,  
"Vasilisa's father turned her into a frog for three years, because she  
was wiser than he. If you wish to find her, Ivan, take this ball and  
follow it as it rolls along the ground."

Ivan followed the ball into the forest where he met a bear. Being very  
hungry, he was about to shoot the bear with an arrow but the bear  
begged him, "Don't kill me, prince. I will help you in the future."

Journeying further into the forest, Ivan saw a drake and wanted to  
kill it with his arrow. But the drake begged him, "Don't kill me,  
Prince Ivan. I could be helpful to you."

So Ivan kept walking onward, getting hungrier and hungrier. Later he  
came across a rabbit and also could not kill it, because the rabbit  
begged him not to. The same thing happened when he came to the  
seashore and encountered a pike.

Soon Ivan came to a little hut on chicken legs where a Baba Yaga  
(Grandmother Spirit) lived. She told him, "Vasilisa is at Koshchei's  
house. It's hard to win a victory over him. His death is at a needle's  
end, the needle is in an egg, the egg is in a duck, the duck is in a  
rabbit, the rabbit is in a stone chest, the chest is at the top of a  
tall oak-tree." Ivan thanked her.

He continued onward until he found the oak-tree, but it was too tall  
to climb and too strong to cut down. All of a sudden the bear Ivan had  
spared appeared and tore the tree up by its roots. The chest fell out  
of the tree and broke. The rabbit jumped out and wanted to run away.  
But the rabbit Ivan had spared overtook the first one and killed it.  
The duck flew out from the rabbit, but the drake Ivan had spared  
caught it. The egg fell out of the duck into the sea. The pike Ivan  
had spared found the egg and brought it to Ivan. He opened the egg,  
broke off the point of the needle and Koschei instantly died in his  
palace. Vasilisa was now free. Prince Ivan and Vasilisa returned home  
and lived happily together for the rest of their lives.

Want more?  Email me for tickets to the Baroness' Masked Ball on Sept. 27.

Rose, scullery maid and autocrat's shill

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