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Russian fairy tale

Fenist the Falcon

Fenist the Falcon

Translated by Dorian Rottenberg
freebooksforkids.net
Illustrated by S.Kovaljov

Once upon a time there lived a Peasant. His wife died and left him three daughters. The old man wanted to hire a servant-girl to help about the house, but his youngest daughter Maryushka said:

"Don't hire a servant, Father, I shall keep house myself."

And so Maryushka began keeping house, and a fine house-keeper she made. There was nothing she could not do, and all she did she did well. Her father loved Maryushka dearly and was glad to have such a clever and hard-working daughter, and pretty too. For Maryushka was very beautiful! But as for her two sisters, they were ugly creatures, and full of envy and greed, and they were always painting and powdering their faces and dressing themselves in fancy clothes. They spent the days putting on new gowns and trying to look better than they were. But nothing ever pleased them long—neither gowns, nor shawls, nor high-heeled boots.

Fenist the Falcon

Now, one day the Peasant set out to market and he asked his daughters:

"What shall I buy for you, my dear daughters, what shall I bring that will please you?"

"Buy us each a shawl," said the two elder daughters. "And mind it has big flowers on it done in gold."

But Maryushka stood there and did not say a word.

Said the Peasant:

"And what would you like, Maryushka?"

"Buy me a feather of Fenist the Falcon, Father dear."

The Peasant went away, and in due time came back with the shawls. But he brought no feather, for he had not found one.

After a while he set out to market again.

"Well, little daughters, what shall I bring you?" asked he.

And the two elder daughters replied eagerly:

"Buy each of us a pair of silver-studded boots."

But Maryushka said again:

"Buy me a feather of Fenist the Falcon, Father dear."

All that day the Peasant walked about the market. He bought the boots, but could find no feather, and so came back without it.

Some time passed, and he set out to market for the third time, and his two elder daughters said:

"Buy us each a new gown."

But Maryushka said again:

"Buy me a feather of Fenist the Falcon, Father dear."

All that day the Peasant walked about the market, but no feather could he find. He drove out of town, and who should he meet on the way but a little old man.

"Good day, Grandfather!" said the Peasant.

"Good day to you, my good man. Where are you bound for?"

"Back to my village, Grandfather. And I'm that upset I don't know what to do. My youngest daughter asked me to buy her a feather of Fenist the Falcon, but I haven't found one."

"I have the feather you need; it is a charmed one, but I see you are a good man, so I think I'll let you have it."

And the little old man took out the feather and gave it to the Peasant. It looked just like any other feather, and as he rode home the Peasant wondered what good it could be to Maryushka.

Fenist the Falcon

He came home and gave the presents to his daughters. The two elder sisters tried on their new gowns and they laughed and laughed at Maryushka:

"Silly you were, and silly you will always be! Stick the feather in your hair—now won't you look fine with it!"

Maryushka made no answer, but she kept out of their way all that day. And when the whole house was asleep, she cast the feather on the floor and said softly:

"Come to me, Fenist the Falcon, my own love!"

And lo and behold! there appeared before her a youth so handsome as never was seen.

Fenist the Falcon

Many hours did he spend with her, and in the morning struck the floor and turned into a falcon. Maryushka opened the window and the Falcon soared up into the blue sky.

For three nights she made him welcome. During the day he flew about in the blue heavens in the guise of a falcon; and when night fell he came back to Maryushka and turned into a handsome youth.

But on the fourth day Maryushka's two wicked sisters found out about them and went and told their father.

"You had better look to yourselves and leave your sister alone, my daughters," said he.

"Very well," thought they, "we shall see what comes further."

They stuck a row of sharp knives into the window-pane and then hid themselves and waited to see what would happen.

Fenist the Falcon

After a while the Bright Falcon appeared. He flew up to the window, but could not get into Miryushka's room. He fluttered about and beat against the pane till his whole breast was cut by the blades. But Maryushka slept and heard nothing.

Said the Falcon:

"If you need me you will find me, but it won't be easy. You shall not find me till you wear out three pairs of iron shoes, and break three iron staffs, and tear three iron caps."

Fenist the Falcon

Maryushka heard him and she sprang from bed and rushed to the window. But the Falcon was gone, and all that was left on the window were drops of his blood. Maryushka burst out crying and her tears washed off the drops of blood.

She went to her father and said:

"Do not scold me, Father, but let me go on my weary way. If I live, we shall meet again; if I die, then so must it be."

The Peasant was sorry to part with his favourite daughter, but he finally let her go.

So Maryushka went and ordered three pairs of iron shoes, three iron staffs, and three iron caps. And off she set on her long weary way to seek her heart's desire—Fenist the Falcon.

Fenist the Falcon

Across open fields she went, through dark forests and over tall mountains. The birds cheered her heart with merry songs, the brooks washed her white face, and the dark forests made her welcome. And no one could do harm to Maryushka, for all the wild beasts—grey wolves, brown bears and red foxes—would come flocking to her. On and on she went till at last one pair of her iron shoes wore out, one iron staff broke and one iron cap was torn.

Fenist the Falcon

Maryushka came to a glade in the woods and she saw a little hut on hen's feet spinning round and round.

"Little hut, little hut," said Maryushka, "turn your back to the trees and your face to me, please. Let me in to eat bread within."

The little hut turned its back to the trees and its face to Maryushka, and in Maryushka went. And whom did she see there but Baba-Yaga, the witch with the switch, a bony hag with a nose like a snag.

Baba-Yaga caught sight of Maryushka and muttered:

"Ugh, ugh, Russian blood, never met by me before, now I smell it at my door. Who comes here? Where from? Where to?"

"I am looking for Fenist the Falcon, Granny dear."

"He's a long way off, my pretty one! You will have to pass through the Thrice-Nine Lands to the Thrice-Ten Tsardom to find him. The Tsaritsa of the Thrice-Ten Tsardom is a wicked sorceress, and she gave him a potion to drink and while the spell was upon him, made him marry her. But I shall help you. Here, take this silver saucer and golden egg. When you come to the Thrice-Ten Tsardom, get yourself taken on as a servant-girl to the Tsaritsa. After the day's work is done, take the silver saucer and put the golden egg on it. It will start to roll about all by itself. Should they wish to buy it, do not sell it—ask them to let you see Fenist the Falcon."

Fenist the Falcon

Maryushka thanked Baba-Yaga and set out on her way. It grew dark in the forest, and she was too frightened to move, when all of a sudden she saw a Cat coming towards her. It sprang up to Maryushka and said, purring:

"Have no fear, Maryushka, it will be still worse farther on, but you must go on and never look back."

Fenist the Falcon

The Cat rubbed against her legs and was gone, and Maryushka went farther. The deeper she went into the forest the darker it grew. She walked on and on till her second pair of iron shoes wore out, her second iron staff broke and her second iron cap was torn, and she came to a little hut on hen's feet with a paling round it and glowing skulls on the pales.

Said Maryushka:

"Little hut, little hut, turn your back to the trees and your face to me, please. Let me in to eat bread within."

The little hut turned its back to the trees and its face to Maryushka, and Maryushka went in. And there sat Baba-Yaga, the witch with the switch, a bony hag with a nose like a snag.

Baba-Yaga caught sight of Maryushka and muttered:

"Ugh, ugh, Russian blood, never met by me before, now I smell it at my door. Who comes here? Where from? Where to?"

"I am seeking Fenist the Falcon, Granny."

"And have you been to my sister's?"

"Yes, Granny dear, I have."

"Very well then, my beauty, I will help you. Take this golden needle and silver frame. The needle works all by itself and embroiders red velvet with silver and gold. Should they wish to buy it, do not sell it—ask them to let you see Fenist the Falcon."

Fenist the Falcon

Maryushka thanked Baba-Yaga and went on her way. There came a crashing and a thundering and a whistling in the forest, and the skulls crowning the pales shone with a weird light. Maryushka was terrified. She looked, and lo! a Dog came running up to her.

"Bow-wow, Maryushka, have no fear, my dear, it will be still worse, but you must go on and never look back."

So it spoke and was gone. Maryushka walked farther, and the forest grew darker, and its trees and shrubs scratched her knees and caught at her sleeves. But she went on and on and never looked back.

Whether she walked for a long or a little time nobody knows, but at last the third pair of iron shoes wore out, the third iron staff broke and the third iron cap was torn. Maryushka came to a glade in the forest and she saw a little hut on hen's feet with a paling all round and glowing horse skulls on the pales.

Said Maryushka:

"Little hut, little hut, turn your back to the trees and your face to me, please."

The hut turned its back to the trees and its face to Maryushka, and Maryushka went in. And there sat Baba-Yaga, the witch with the switch, a bony hag with a nose like a snag.

Baba-Yaga saw Miryushka and muttered:

"Ugh, ugh, Russian blood, never met by me before, now I smell it at my door. Who comes here? Where from? Where to?"

"I'm looking for Fenist the Falcon, Granny!"

"It is no easy task to find him, my beauty, but I shall help you. Here, take this silver distaff and this golden spindle. Hold the spindle in your hands and it will spin all by itself and the thread will come out all gold."

"Thank you, Granny."

"Save your thanks until afterwards, and now listen to me. Should they wish to buy the golden spindle, don't sell it, but ask them to let you see Fenist the Falcon."

Fenist the Falcon

Maryushka thanked Baba-Yaga and went on her way. And in the forest there came a roaring and a rumbling and a whistling. The owls spun and wheeled round and round and the mice crawled out of their holes and rushed straight at Maryushka. She looked, and lo! a Grey Wolf came running up to her.

Said the Wolf :

"Have no fear, Maryushka. Get on my back and never look behind you."

Fenist the Falcon

Maryushka climbed on the Wolf's back and off they went in a flash. They passed wide steppes and velvet meadows, they crossed honey rivers with jelly banks and they climbed tall mountains that touched the clouds. On and on raced the Wolf with Maryushka on his back and he reached a crystal palace with a carved porch and windows. And there was the Tsaritsa herself looking out of a window.

Fenist the Falcon

"Here we are, Maryushka," said the Wolf. "Climb off my back and go and ask to be taken on as a servant-girl at the palace."

Maryushka sprang down to the ground, took her bundle and, thanking the Wolf, went to the palace. She walked up to the Tsaritsa, bowed and said:

"I beg your pardon, I don't know your name, but do you need a servant-girl?"

"Yes, I do," the Tsaritsa replied. "I have long been looking for one. But she must be able to spin, to weave and to embroider."

"I can do all that," said Maryushka.

"Come in then and set to work."

And so Maryushka became a servant-girl. She worked all day, and when night came she took out her golden egg and silver saucer and said:

"Roll, roll, golden egg, over the silver saucer, and show me my Fenist, my own love."

And the golden egg rolled over the silver saucer, and there upon it Fenist the Falcon appeared. Maryushka gazed at him and her tears ran fast.

"Fenist, my Fenist, why have you left poor me to shed tears without you?"

The Tsaritsa overheard her and said:

"Sell me your silver saucer and golden egg, Maryushka."

"No," replied Maryushka, "they are not for sale, but you may have them free if you let me see Fenist the Falcon."

Fenist the Falcon

The Tsaritsa thought for a while and then she said:

"Very well, let it be so. Tonight, when he falls asleep, I will let you see him."

Night came, and Maryushka went to his chamber and saw Fenist the Falcon. Her love lay fast asleep and could not be wakened. She looked and looked and could not have enough of looking, and she kissed him on his sugar-sweet mouth and clung to him, but he slept on and did not wake. Morning set in, but still Maryushka could not rouse her beloved.

All that day she worked and in the evening took out her silver frame and golden needle. She sat there and sewed and said over again:

"Get embroidered, little towel, get embroidered, let my Fenist the Falcon have something to wipe his face with in the morning."

The Tsaritsa overheard her and said:

"Sell me your silver frame and golden needle, Maryushka."

"No, that I cannot do," Maryushka replied, "but you may have them free if you let me see Fenist the Falcon."

The Tsaritsa thought for a while and then she said:

"Very well, let it be so. You can come to see him tonight."

Night came, and Maryushka went to his chamber and saw Fenist the Falcon lying there fast asleep.

"O my Fenist, my brave and handsome Falcon, arise, wake up!" she said.

But Fenist slept on as fast as ever, and Maryushka could not wake him, try as she might.

At daybreak Maryushka set to work, and she took out her silver distaff and golden spindle. And the Tsaritsa saw her and began begging her to sell them. But Maryushka said:

"No, they are not for sale, but you may have them for nothing if only you let me see Fenist the Falcon."

"Very well," said the other, and she thought to herself: "She won't wake him anyway."

Night drew on, and Maryushka went to his chamber, but Fenist lay there as fast asleep as ever.

"O my Fenist, my brave and handsome Falcon, arise, wake up!" she said.

But Fenist slept on and did not wake.

Maryushka tried over and over again to wake him, but she could not. And it would soon be morning. She burst into tears and said:

"Fenist, dear Fenist, my own love, arise and open your eyes, look at your Maryushka, press her close to your heart!"

And Maryushka's hot tear fell on to Fenist's bare shoulder, and burnt it. Fenist the Falcon stirred and he opened his eyes and saw Maryushka. He took her in his arms and kissed her.

"Can it be you, my Maryushka? So you have worn out three pairs of iron shoes and broken three iron staffs and torn three iron caps? Cry no more. Let us go home now."

Fenist the Falcon

They began getting ready for the homeward journey, but the Tsaritsa saw them and bade her trumpeters spread the news of her husband's faithlessness throughout the land.

And the princes and merchants of her land came together to hold council and decide how to punish Fenist the Falcon.

And Fenist the Falcon stood up and said:

"Which do you think is the true wife, she who loves me with all her heart or she who sells and betrays me?"

And everyone had to agree that his true wife was Maryushka.

After that they went back to their own land. They held a feast there, and so grand was it that it is remembered to this day, and all the guns were fired and all the trumpets blew at their wedding. And from that day on they lived in love and cheer and grew richer from year to year.

Fenist the Falcon

Author: Russian fairy tale; illustrated by Kovaljov S.

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