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Russian fairy tale

Father Frost

Father Frost

Translated by Irina Zheleznova
freebooksforkids.net
Illustrated by P.Ponomarenko

Once upon a time there lived an old man with his second wife, and they each had a daughter. He had a daughter and so had she.

Everyone knows what stepmothers are like. If you do wrong, you get a beating, and if you do right, you get a beating all the same. Not so with the stepmother's own daughter: she is petted and praised for a good and clever lass no matter what she does.

Father Frost

The old man's daughter rose before daybreak to look after the cattle, bring firewood and water into the house, light the stove and sweep the floor. But her stepmother found fault with everything and fussed and scolded her all day long.

A wind howls loud and then it drops. But there is no quieting an old dame once she is roused. The stepmother made up her mind to do her stepdaughter to death.

"Take her away, old one," she said to her husband, "I can't bear the sight of her. Take her to the forest into the biting frost and leave her there."

Father Frost

The old man wept and sorrowed but he knew he could do nothing, for his wife always had her way. So he harnessed his horse and called to his daughter:

"Come, my sweet child, get into the sledge."

He took the homeless girl to the forest, dumped her into a snowdrift beneath a large fir-tree and drove away.

It was very cold, and the girl sat under the fir-tree and shivered. Suddenly she heard Father Frost near by leaping from tree to tree and crackling and snapping among the twigs. In a twinkling he was on the top of the very tree beneath which she sat.

"Are you warm, my lass?" he called.

"Yes, I'm very warm. Father Frost!" she answered.

Father Frost

Father Frost came down lower and he crackled and snapped louder than ever.

"Are you warm, my lass?" he called again. "Are you warm, my pretty one?"

The girl was scarcely able to fetch her breath, but she said:

"Yes, I'm very warm. Father Frost!"

Father Frost came down still lower, crackling and snapping very loudly indeed.

"Are you warm, my lass?" he asked. "Are you warm, my pretty one? Are you warm, my sweet one?"

The girl was growing numb and could hardly move her tongue, but still she said:

"I'm very warm, good Father Frost!"

And Father Frost took pity on the girl and he wrapped her up in his fluffy furs and downy quilts.

Meanwhile, the stepmother was baking pancakes and preparing for the funeral feast. Said she to her husband:

"Go to the forest, you old croaker, and bring back your daughter to be buried!"

The old man went to the forest and there, in the very spot where he had left her, sat his daughter, very gay and rosy. She was wrapped in a sable coat and clad in silver and gold. Beside her stood a large basket full of costly presents.

Father Frost

The old man was overjoyed. He seated his daughter in the sledge, put the basket in beside her and drove home.

Now the old woman was still baking the pancakes when suddenly she heard her little dog under the table saying:

"Bow-wow! The old man's daughter comes a rich bride and fair.
But the old woman's daughter, she will marry ne'er!"

The old woman threw a pancake to the dog and said:

"You speak wrong, dog! You must say:

'The old woman's daughter will be wooed and won,
But the old man's daughter is dead and gone!'"

The dog ate the pancake, but still it said:

"Bow-wow! The old man's daughter comes a rich bride and fair,
But the old woman's daughter, she will marry ne'er!"

Father Frost

The old woman threw more pancakes to the dog and when this did not help she beat it, but still the dog said just what it had before.

All of a sudden the gate creaked, the door opened and in walked the old man's daughter, dazzling in her attire of silver and gold.

Father Frost

Behind her came her father carrying a large and heavy basket full of costly gifts. The old woman looked and her hands dropped.

"Harness the horse, you old croaker!" said she to her husband. "Take my daughter to the forest and leave her in the same place as yours."

The old man put the old woman's daughter in the sledge, took her to the forest to the same place, dumped her into the snowdrift underneath the tall fir-tree and drove away.

Father Frost

There sat the old woman's daughter and she was so cold her teeth chattered.

By and by Father Frost came leaping from tree to tree, crackling and snapping among the twigs and stopping now and then to glance at the old woman's daughter.

"Are you warm, my lass?" he called.

Said she in reply:

"Oh, no. I'm terribly cold! Don't scrunch and crackle so, Frost!"

Father Frost came down lower, and he crackled and snapped the louder.

"Are you warm, my lass?" he called. "Are you warm, my pretty one?"

"Oh, no," said she, "I'm numb all over! Go away, Frost!"

Father Frost

But Father Frost came down still lower and he crackled and snapped ever louder and his breath grew colder and colder.

"Are you warm, my lass?" he called again. "Are you warm, my pretty one?"

"Oh, no!" she cried. "I'm frozen! A plague on you, you old Frost! I hope the earth swallows you!"

Father Frost was so angered by these words that he gripped her with all his might and froze the old woman's daughter to death.

Day had barely dawned when the old woman said to her husband:

"Make haste and harness the horse, you old croaker. Go fetch my daughter and bring her back clad in silver and gold."

The old man drove away and the little dog under the table said:

"Bow-wow! The old man's daughter will soon be wed,
But the old woman's daughter is cold and dead!"

The old woman threw the dog a pie and said:

"You speak wrong, dog! You must say:

The old woman 's daughter comes a rich bride and fair,
But the old man's daughter, she will marry ne'er!'"

But the dog said just what it had before:

"Bow-wow! The old woman's daughter is cold and dead!"

Just then the gate creaked and the old woman rushed out to meet her daughter. She turned back the bast cover and there lay her daughter in the sledge, dead.

The old woman broke out into loud weeping, but it was all too late.

Father Frost

Author: Russian fairy tale; illustrated by Ponomarenko P.

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