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152 Frost 95. There lived an old man and an old woman. They had three daughters. The old woman didn’t like the eldest daughter (she was a stepdaughter), often reproving her, waking her early, and making her do all the work. The girl fed and watered the stock, carried the wood and water into the hut, heated up the stove, made the festive costumes, swept the hut, and cleared everything up before sunrise. But the old woman was still dissatisfied with her, and she scolded Marfusha:“You’re so lazy, you’re such a sloven! And the grate isn’t quite right and isn’t standing there properly , and there’s filth everywhere in the hut.” The girl remained silent and wept. She tried every which way to please her stepmother and serve the other daughters, but the sisters, just like their mother, insulted Marfusha all the time and quarreled with her and made her cry. They really liked that! They always got up late, washed in the water already fetched for them, dried themselves with a clean towel, and sat down to work only when they had dined. So our maids grew and grew, and they grew up and became ready to marry. Now soon a tale is told, but not so soon is a deed done. The old man felt sorry for the eldest daughter. He loved her because she was obedient and hard- working, never resisted what she was told to do, never spoke back, and the old man didn’t know how to assuage his grief. He was weak, the old woman a crosspatch, and her daughters lazy and stubborn. So then the old folks started thinking: the old man how to arrange things for his daughters; the old woman how to get that eldest daughter off her hands. So once the old woman said to the old man, “Well, old man, let’s marry off Marfusha.”“Fine,” the old man said, and he crawled up onto the stove. The old woman was right after him: “Tomorrow, old man, you get up, you get up a little earlier and hitch the mare to the sledge and go with Marfusha.And you, Marfusha, collect your goods in a basket and toss on a clean blouse. Tomorrow you’re going visiting.” The good Marfusha was happy at this good fortune, that they were going to take her visiting, and she slept sweetly all the night through. In the morning she got up early, washed, prayed to God, gathered everything together, put everything in order, got dressed—and was already a maid, let alone Frost  h 153 a bride! And this all took place in winter, and there was a crackling frost outside. In the morning the old man—and it was neither daylight nor dawn—hitched up the mare to the sledge and drove up to the porch; he went into the hut, sat down on a bench, and said, “Well, I’ve arranged everything!” “Sit down at the table and eat!” the old woman said. The old man sat down at the table and sat his daughter with him. There was a breadbasket on the table, and he took out a chunk and cut it for his daughter and himself. And the old woman set a bowl of old cabbage soup down and said,“Well, my dove, eat and be gone, I’ve seen too much of you already! Old man, take Marfusha off to the groom. And watch out, you old coot, go by the direct road and then turn off that road to the right into that pine grove, you know, right to that big pine that stands on that little hill, and there give Marfusha to Frost.” The old man’s eyes bugged out, his mouth hung wide open, and he stopped chewing, and the girl started howling.“Well, why’d you drop your jaw? Your groom is both handsome and rich! Just look at what riches he has: all the firs, the pine tops and birches in powder! It’s an enviable existence, and he’s a real bogatyr himself.” Silently the old man loaded up her belongings and told his daughter to throw on her sheepskin, and he set off down the road. Whether he rode for a long time or a short time, I don’t know. Soon a tale is told, but not so soon is the deed done. Finally, he came to the grove, turned off the road...


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