Fenist the Bright Falcon
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:
And so his daughter Maryushka began keeping house, and a fine housekeeper she made. There was nothing she could not do, and all she did she did splendidly. Her father loved Maryushka dearly and was glad to have such a clever and hard-working daughter. And how lovely she was! But her two sisters were ugly creatures, full of envy and greed, always paint-ed and powdered and dressed in their best. They spent all day putting on new gowns and trying to look better than they really were. But nothing ever pleased them long -- neither gowns, nor shawls, nor high-heeled boots.Now, one day the old man set out to market and he asked his daughters:
"What shall I buy you, dear daughters, what shall I please you with?"
"Buy us each a kerchief," said the two elder daughters. "And mind it has big flowers on it done in gold."
But his youngest daughter Maryushka stood silent, so the father asked her:
"And what would you like, Maryushka?"
"Dear Father, buy me a feather of Fenist the Bright Falcon."
By and by the father came back with the kerchiefs, but the feather he had not found.
After a while the man went to market again.
"Well, daughters, make your orders," said he.
And the two elder daughters replied eagerly: "Buy each of us a pair of silver-studded boots."
But Maryushka said again: "Dear Father, buy me a feather of Fenist the Bright Falcon."
All that day the father walked about the market and bought the boots,
but the feather he could not find. And so he came back without it. Very
well, then. He set out on his way to the market for the third time and
his elder daughters asked him:
All that day the father walked about the market, but still no feather.
So he drove out of town, and who should he meet on the way but a little
The little old man took out the feather and gave it to the girl's father,
but it looked quite ordinary, so the peasant rode home and he thought:
And there came to her a youth of wondrous beauty. Towards morning he
struck the floor and became a falcon. And Maryushka opened the window
and the falcon soared up into the blue sky.And so for three nights she
made him welcome. By day he flew about in the blue heavens as a falcon;
at nightfall he came back to Maryushka and turned into a handsome youth.
Maryushka heard this and she sprang from her bed to the window. But the
falcon was gone, and all he left on the window was a trace of red blood.
Maryushka burst into bitter tears, and the little tear-drops washed off
the trace of red blood and made her still prettier.And then she went to
her father and said to him:
The man was sorry to part with his sweet daughter, but at last he 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 Bright Falcon. She walked through
open fields, she went through dark forests and she climbed tall mountains.
The little birds cheered her heart with merry songs, the brooks washed
her white face, and the dark woods 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 running out towards her. At last one pair
of iron shoes wore out, one iron staff broke and one iron cap was torn.
And Maryushka came to a glade in the woods and she saw a little hut on
hen's feet spinning round and round.
The little hut turned its back to the trees and its face to Maryushka,
and in she went. And there she saw Baba-Yaga, the witch with a broom and
a switch, a bony hag with a nose like a snag.Baba-Yaga caught sight of
Maryushka and growled:
Maryushka thanked Baba-Yaga and went off. The woods became darker, and
she got too frightened to move, when all of a sudden there came a Cat.
It jumped up to Maryushka and it purred:
And the Cat rubbed against her feet and was gone, while Maryushka went
farther. And the deeper she went into the woods the darker it grew. She
walked and she walked, till her second pair of iron shoes wore out, her
second iron staff broke and her second iron cap got torn. And soon she
came to a little hut on hen's feet with a strong fence all round and terrible
glowing skulls on the pales.Maryushka said:
The little hut turned its back to the trees and its face to Maryushka,
and Maryushka went in. And there she saw Baba-Yaga, the witch with a broom
and a switch, a bony hag with a nose like a snag.Baba-Yaga caught sight
of Maryushka and she growled:
Maryushka thanked Baba-Yaga and went on her way. It crashed and it banged
and it whistled in the forest, and a weird light shone from the skull,
hanging round. How terrible it was! But suddenly up ran a Dog:
So it spoke and was gone. Maryushka went on and on, and the woods got
darker, scratching her knees and catching at her sleeves. But Maryushka
walked and walked and never looked back.How long she walked is hard to
say, but the third pair of iron shoes wore out, the third iron staff broke
and the third iron cap was torn. And she came to a glade in the forest
and saw a little hut on hen's feet with a tall paling all round and glowing
horse skulls on the pales.Then said Maryushka:
Maryushka thanked Baba-Yaga and went on her way. And it roared and rumbled
and whistled in the forest. The owls wheeled round, the mice crawled out
of their holes and rushed straight to Maryushka. Then all of a sudden
a Grey Wolf ran up to her and said:
So she sat on the Wolf's back and off they flashed out of sight. They
passed wide steppes and velvet meadows, they crossed honey rivers with
custard banks and they climbed tall mountains that touched the clouds.
On and on raced Maryushka till she reached a crystal palace with a carved
porch and fancy windows. And there was the Queen herself looking out of
Maryushka climbed off, took her bundle and thanked the Wolf. Then she
went up to the Queen and bowed.
And so Maryushka became a servant-girl. She worked all the day until
night-time, and then she took out her golden egg and silver saucer and
And the golden egg rolled about till Fenist the Bright Falcon appeared
before her. Maryushka gazed and gazed at him and her tears ran fast.
So when night came, Maryushka went to his bedroom and saw Fenist the
Bright Falcon. Her darling lay fast asleep and could not be awakened.
She looked and she looked and she could not look enough, and she kissed
him on his sweet mouth, and she pressed him to her white bosom, but her
darling slept on and did not awaken. Morning set in, but still Maryushka
could not rouse her beloved.All that day she worked and in the evening
took her silver frame and gold needle. And as it sewed, Maryushka kept
The Queen overheard her and asked:
The Queen thought hard, but at last she said:
Night came on, and Maryushka entered the bedroom and she saw her Fenist
the Bright Falcon lying fast asleep.
But her Fenist slept on as fast as ever, and Maryushka could not wake
him up, try as she might.At daybreak Maryushka set to work and took out
her silver distaff and golden spindle. And the Queen saw her and began
asking her to sell them. But Maryushka replied:
Night drew on and Maryushka entered the bedroom, but Fenist lay as fast
asleep as ever.
But Fenist slept on and would not awaken.Maryushka tried and tried again
to wake him, but she could not. And soon it would be morning. So Maryushka
burst out weeping and she said:
And a hot tear fell from Maryushka's eyes on the bare shoulder of Fenist
and burnt it. Fenist the Bright Falcon stirred and he opened his eyes
and saw Maryushka. And then he took her in his arms and kissed her.
And they started getting ready for the homeward journey. But the Queen
noticed it and she bade her trumpeters spread the news of her husband's
betrayal through all the towns of the land.And the princes and merchants
of her land came together to hold council and decide how to punish Fenist
the Bright Falcon.
Everyone had to agree that only Maryushka was fit to be his wife.
After that they went back to their own land. And they had a grand feast there, and all the guns fired and all the trumpets blew at their wedding. And the feast they had was so grand, it is still remembered. And they both lived happily ever afterwards.
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