The Frog-Tzarevna

Then the Baba-Yaga, being pleased with his spirit, gave him food and drink and made ready a bath for him;

The Frog-Tzarevna



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heir high walls and gates. The Tzar tasted it and sent it away, saying: "Put this on my table on Easter Sunday, when we shall have royal visitors." So Ivan went home rejoicing.

A third time the Tzar sent for his three sons and said to them: "My dear children, it is fitting that all women should know how to weave and broider in gold and silver, and I would see if thy wives are skilled also in this. Take, therefore, each of you, from my storehouse, silk, gold and silver, and tomorrow morning bring me each of you a carpet."

When Tzarevich Ivan brought sa~lly home the silk, the gold, and the silver, the frog was sitting on a chair. "Kwa! Kwa! Kworax!" she said." Tzarevich Ivan, why cost thou mourn? And why cloth thy bright head hang down lower than thy shoulders? Hast thou heard from the Tzar thy father a cruel and bitter word?"

"Have I not cause to mourn?" he answered. "The shirt thou hast sewn, and the bread thou has baked; but now my father has bidden that thou make for to-morrow a carpet of this gold, silver, and silk."

"Fret not, Tzarevich Tvan," said the frog. "Lay thee down and rest. The day has more wisdom than the night."

As soon as he was asleep she called servants and bade them take scissors and cut to pieces all the silk, the gold, and the silver, and then, sending them away, threw it out of the window, and said:

"Winds! Winds! fly abroad with-these pieces of silk, of gold, and of silver, and make me a carpet such as my dear father used to cover his windows!" And hardly had she said the last word, when back into the room flew the embroidered carpet.

Now again the wives of the elder brothers had sent the little black slave-girl to watch, and she ran quickly to tell them. And they, thinking that this time the charm must work, cut all of their silk and precious thread into pieces, threw them out of the window, and repeated:

"Winds! Winds! tly abroad with these pieces of silk, of gold, and of silver, and make us carpets such as our dear fathers used to cover their windows."

But though they waited a long time, the winds brought them no carpets. Then the Tzarevnas, angry at the loss of their rich threads, after beating the little slave-girl more cruelly than before, sent servants hastily for more material, and calling together their nurses and maidens to help them, began to work at weaving and embroidering.

In the morning when Tzarevich Ivan arose, the frog sent him to the Palace to show his carpet with his brothers.

The Tzar looked at the carpet of the eldest son and said: "Take this to the stables. It will do to cover my poorest horse when it is raining. "He looked at the carpet of the second, and said: "Put this in the hall; it may do, perhaps, to wipe my boots upon in bad weather." But when Tzarevich Ivan unrolled his carpet, so wondrously was it adorned with gold and silver fashionings, that its like cannot be imagined. And the Tzar ordered that it be kept with the greatest care, to be put on his own table on the most solemn feast-days.

"Now, my dear children," he said, "your wives, my daughters-in-law, have done all that I bade them do. Bring them to-morrow, therefore, to the Palace to dine, in order that I may congratulate them in person."

The two elder brothers went home to their wives, saying to one another: "Now he must bring his frog-wife with him to the royal audience for all to see." But Tzarevich Ivan went home weeping, and his bright head hung down lower than his shoulders.

When he reached home the frog was sitting at the door. " Kwa! Kwa! Kworax!" she said. "Tzarevich Ivan, why cost thou weep? Hast thou heard sharp and unfeeling words from the Tzar thy father?"

"Why should I not weep?" he answered. "Thou hast sewn the shirt, thou hast baked the bread, and thou hast woven the carpet; but after all thou art but a frog, and to-morrow the Tzar my father commands that I bring thee to the Palace to royal audience. How, to my shame, can I show thee to the people as my wife?"

"Weep no more," the frog said. "Go to thy bed and sleep. There is more wisdom in the morning than in the evening."

The next day when Tzarevich Ivan awoke, she said: "Pay no heed to what others think. The Tzar thy father was pleased with his shirt, his bread and his carpet; maybe he will be pleased also with his daughter-in-law when I shall come. Do thou go to the Palace and I will come after thee in an hour. Make thy respects to the Tzar, and when thou hearest a rumbling and a knocking, say: "Hither comes my poor little frog in her little basket!"

So Ivan drove away to the Palace somewhat cheered by her words.

When he was out of sight the frog went to the window, and called:

"Winds! Winds! bring for me at once a rich carriage of state, with white horses, footmen, outriders and runners!"

Instantly a horn blew and horsemen came galloping up the street, followed by six milk-white horses drawing a golden coach. As for herself, she threw off the skin of a frog and was transformed into a maiden so beautiful that she could be described neither by words in a tale nor with a pen in writing.

Meanwhile at the Palace the company were assembled, the two elder brothers with their lovely brides attired in silks and laden with shining jewels. And they all laughed at Tzarevich Ivan standing alone, saying: "Where is thy wife, the Tzarevna? Why didst thou not bring her in a kitchen cloth? And art thou certain that thou didst choose the greatest beauty of the swamp?" But while they jeered at poor Ivan, suddenly there came a great rumbling and shouting. The Tzar supposed some King or Prince was arriving to visit him, but Tzarevich Ivan said: "Be not disturbed, little father. It is only my poor little frog coming in her little basket."

Nevertheless everybody ran to the Palace windows, and they saw riders galloping and a golden coach drawn by six milk-white horses flew up to the entrance and out of it came the lovely maiden - such a beauty as to make the sun and moon ashamed when she looked at them. She came to Tzarevich Ivan and he took her hand and led her to the Tzar his father and the Tzar himself seated her at the royal table to dine.

As all began to feast and make merry, the wives of the elder sons whispered among themselves and said: "It is as we have thought. She is in truth a witch. Let us watch carefully and whatever she does let us be careful to do likewise. So, watching, they saw that the frog-wife did not drink the dregs of her wine-cup, but poured them in her left sleeve, and that the bones of the roast swan she put in her right sleeve, and they did the same.

When they rose from the table, the musicians began to play and the Tzar led out Ivan's beautiful wife to dance. This she did with exceeding grace. And as she danced - she waved her left sleeve, and at one end of the banquet hall a lake appeared one rod deep. She waved her right sleeve and swans and geese appeared swimming on it. The Tzar and his guests were astonished and could not sufficiently praise her cleverness. When she finished dancing the lake and the fowls upon it disappeared.

Then the wives of the elder sons began to dance. They waved their left sleeves and all the guests were splashed with the wine dregs; they waved their right sleeves and the bones flew right and left, and one nearly put out one of the Tzar's eyes. At this he was angered, and straightway ordered them out of the Palace, so that they went home in shame and dishonour.

Now seeing what a beautiful creature his little frogwife had become, Tzarevich lvan thought to himself: "What if she should turn back into a frog again!" And while they were dancing he hastened home, searched till he found the frog-skin and threw it into the fire.

His wife, arriving, ran to search for the skin and when she could not find it, guessed what he had done.

She immediately fell aweeping and said: "Alas, alas, Tzarevich Ivan, that thou couldst not have patience even for a little while! Now thou hast lost me for ever, unless thou canst find me beyond three times nine lands, in the thirtieth Tzardom, in the empire that lies under the sun. Know that I am the fairy Wassilissa the Wise." When she had said this she turned into a blue dove and flew out of the window.

Tzarevich Ivan wept till his tears were like a river, then he said a prayer to God and bidding the Tzar his father and the Tzaritza his mother farewell, went whither his eyes looked, in search of his lost wife.

He went on and on; whether it was near or far, or a short road or a long road, a tale is soon told, but such a journey is not made quickly. He travelled through thrice nine lands, asking everyone he met where he could find Wassilissa the Wise, but none could answer, till he reached the empire that lies under the sun, and there in the thirtieth Tzardom he met an old gray-beard to whom he told his story and asked his question.

"Well do I know of Wassilissa the Wise," answered the old man. "She is a powerful fairy whose father, in a fit of anger, turned her into a frog for three years. The time was almost up, and hadst thou not burned her frog-skin she would be with thee now. I cannot tell thee where she is, but take thou this magic ball which will roll wherever thou commandest it, and follow it."

Tzarevich Ivan thanked the old gray-beard, threw the ball he gave him on the ground and at his command it straightway began to roll. It rolled a short way and i

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