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148 The Witch and the Sun’s Sister 93. In a certain tsardom, in a far off land, there lived and dwelt a tsar and his tsaritsa, and they had a son, Ivan Tsarevich, who had been unable to speak since birth. When he was twelve years old, he once went to the stables to his favorite groom. That groom always told him tales, and so now Ivan Tsarevich had come to hear some stories from him—but not what he heard from him! “Ivan Tsarevich!” said the groom.“Soon your mother will give birth to a daughter, a sister for you. She will be a horrible witch. She’ll eat your father and mother and all the leading people. So go now and ask your father for the very best horse there is—as if you were going out riding. But ride out of here wherever your eyes may take you, if you want to escape misfortune.” Ivan Tsarevich ran to his father, and for the first time since his birth he started speaking with him. The tsar was so delighted by this that he didn’t even question him as to why he needed a good horse. He immediately ordered them to saddle up the very best horse from all his herds for the tsarevich. Ivan Tsarevich mounted up and rode off to wherever his eyes might take him. He rode and he rode, and then he rode up to two old seamstresses. He asked whether they’d let him live with them. The old women said,“We would gladly take you in, Ivan Tsarevich, but we haven’t long to live.We’ll finish busting up this case of needles, and sew up this case of thread, and then death will come!” Ivan Tsarevich cried and then rode on. He rode for a long time and came to Oak-Twister, and he asked,“Take me in!”“I would be happy to accept you, Ivan Tsarevich, but I have only a little time to live. As soon as I’ve uprooted all these oaks, I’ll immediately die!” The tsarevich cried even more than before and rode on and on. He came to Mountain-Twister. He asked him, but he replied,“I would be happy to accept you, Ivan Tsarevich, but I’ve only a little time to live. You see, I’m put here to twist down all these mountains.When I’ve dealt with the last ones, that will be my death!” Ivan Tsarevich wept bitter tears and rode on further. He rode and he rode, and finally he came to the Sun’s sister. She took him in, fed him, and gave him drink, and she looked after him as if he The Witch and the Sun’s Sister h 149 were her own son. The tsarevich was living well, but something wasn’t quite right and he felt sad. He wanted to find out what was happening in his own home. Once he went up onto a high mountain, and he looked at the palace and saw that everything had been devoured and only the walls remained! He sighed and began crying. But when he had looked at it and cried, he went back and the Sun’s sister asked him,“Why are you crying so much, Ivan Tsarevich?” He replied,“The wind has been blowing in my eyes.” The next time the same thing: The Sun’s sister went and forbade the wind to blow. The third time Ivan Tsarevich came back tear-stained, but now there was nothing to be done—he had to admit everything. He began asking the Sun’s sister to let him, a fine young lad, go back to his homeland to see what had happened. She wouldn’t let him go, and he kept on begging. Finally, he convinced her, and she let him go back to his homeland. And she gave him a brush for the road, a comb, and two rejuvenating apples. No matter how old a man be, if he ate one of these apples, he’d become young again! So Ivan Tsarevich came to Mountain-Twister, and just one mountain remained. He took the brush and threw it down in the open steppe. Out of nowhere, there suddenly sprang up from the earth high, high mountains , with their tops poking up into the heavens—and so many of them, you couldn’t count them. Mountain-Twister rejoiced and happily set to work. Then...


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