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173 Vasilisa the Beautiful 104. In a certain tsardom, there lived and dwelt a merchant. He’d been married for twelve years and only had the one daughter, Vasilisa the Beautiful. When her mother died, the little girl was eight years old. As she was dying , the merchant’s wife called her daughter to her, took a doll from under the blanket, gave it to her, and said:“Listen, Vasilisushka! Remember me, and fulfill my last words. I am dying and am leaving you my mother’s blessing and this doll. Always keep it with you, and show it to no one. And when some misfortune befalls you, give the doll something to eat and ask its advice. The doll will eat and tell you how to help you in your woe.” Then the mother kissed her daughter and died. After the death of his wife, the merchant grieved, as was appropriate, and then he thought about getting married again. He was a good man; he didn’t think of taking a young girl. More to his liking was this one widow. She was already mature, had two daughters of her own who were about the age of Vasilisa. Consequently, she would be an experienced mistress and mother. The merchant married the widow but was deceived, and he did not find in her a good mother for his Vasilisa. Vasilisa was the most beautiful girl in the village. Her stepmother and her sisters envied her beauty and tormented her with all possible labors, so that she would look the worse for her efforts and grow dark from the wind and sun. They gave her no life! Vasilisa endured it all without complaint, and with every day grew more beautiful. And at the same time, the stepmother and her daughters got worse and more spiteful, despite the fact that they always just sat there with arms folded, like a fine lady. How did all this happen? Vasilisa’s little doll helped her! Without that, how could the girl manage with all that work! But Vasilisa herself didn’t eat most of the time, but saved the choicest morsel for the dol. And in the evening, when the others had all lain down, she would lock herself in a closet, where she lived, and entertain the doll, chanting:“Well, my doll, eat, hear my woe! I live in a house with my father, but I see no happiness. My evil stepmother is chasing me off the face of the earth. Tell me what to do and how to live.” The doll ate and then gave her advice and comforted her woes, and by morning had 174 h Vasilisa the Beautiful done all of Vasilisa’s work. Vasilisa just rested in the shade and picked flowers, while the doll weeded the beds and watered the cabbage, and fetched the water, and fired up the stove. Then the doll would show Vasilisa which herb to use against sunburn. She and the doll lived well. Several years passed. Vasilisa grew up and reached a marriageable age. All the young men in the village courted Vasilisa, but no one even glanced at the stepmother’s daughters. This made the stepmother more spiteful than ever, and she said to all the suitors,“I won’t marry off the younger ones before the oldest.” So she saw the suitors off and brought more evil to Vasilisa with her blows. Then once the merchant had to go away from home for a long time on his trading business. The stepmother moved to another house, and next to this house was a dense forest, and in the forest in a glade there stood a little hut, and in that hut lived Baba Yaga. She let no one come near her and ate people like chicks. When she had moved into the new house, the merchant’s wife would constantly send the hateful Vasilisa into that forest for some reason or other. But Vasilisa always returned home safely: the doll showed her the way and didn’t let her go to Baba Yaga’s hut. Autumn came. The stepmother gave each of the three girls evening work. One of them was to tat lace, the second to knit stockings, and Vasilisa was to spin. All of these tasks had to be completed. She would put out the fire in the house and leave just one candle where the girls were working, and then she’d go to sleep. The girls worked...


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