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The Death of Koshchei the Deathless
by [?]

Afterwards they all three met, broke open the barrel, took out the remains of Prince Ivan, washed them, and put them together in fitting order. The Raven sprinkled them with the Water of Death–the pieces joined together, the body became whole. The Falcon sprinkled it with the Water of Life–Prince Ivan shuddered, stood up, and said:

‘Ah! what a time I’ve been sleeping!’

‘You’d have gone on sleeping a good deal longer if it hadn’t been for us,’ replied his brothers-in-law. ‘Now come and pay us a visit.’

‘Not so, brothers; I shall go and look for Marya Morevna.’

And when he had found her, he said to her:

‘Find out from Koshchei the Deathless whence he got so good a steed.’

So Marya Morevna chose a favourable moment, and began asking Koshchei about it. Koshchei replied:

‘Beyond thrice nine lands, in the thirtieth kingdom, on the other side of the fiery river, there lives a Baba Yaga. She has so good a mare that she flies right round the world on it every day. And she has many other splendid mares. I watched her herds for three days without losing a single mare, and in return for that the Baba Yaga gave me a foal.’

‘But how did you get across the fiery river?’

‘Why, I’ve a handkerchief of this kind–when I wave it thrice on the right hand, there springs up a very lofty bridge, and the fire cannot reach it.’

Marya Morevna listened to all this, and repeated it to Prince Ivan, and she carried off the handkerchief and gave it to him. So he managed to get across the fiery river, and then went on to the Baba Yaga’s. Long went he on without getting anything either to eat or to drink. At last he came across an outlandish bird and its young ones. Says Prince Ivan:

‘I’ll eat one of these chickens.’

‘Don’t eat it, Prince Ivan!’ begs the outlandish bird; ‘some time or other I’ll do you a good turn.’

He went on farther and saw a hive of bees in the forest.

‘I’ll get a bit of honeycomb,’ says he.

‘Don’t disturb my honey, Prince Ivan!’ exclaims the queen- bee; ‘some time or other I’ll do you a good turn.’

So he didn’t disturb it, but went on. Presently there met him a lioness with her cub.

‘Anyhow, I’ll eat this lion cub,’ says he; ‘I’m so hungry I feel quite unwell!’

‘Please let us alone, Prince Ivan!’ begs the lioness; ‘some time or other I’ll do you a good turn.’

‘Very well; have it your own way,’ says he.

Hungry and faint he wandered on, walked farther and farther, and at last came to where stood the house of the Baba Yaga. Round the house were set twelve poles in a circle, and on each of eleven of these poles was stuck a human head; the twelfth alone remained unoccupied.

‘Hail, granny!’

‘Hail, Prince Ivan! wherefore have yon come? Is it of your own accord, or on compulsion?’

‘I have come to earn from you an heroic steed.’

‘So be it, Prince! You won’t have to serve a year with me, but just three days. If you take good care of my mares, I’ll give you an heroic steed. But if you don’t–why, then you mustn’t be annoyed at finding your head stuck on top of the last pole up there.’

Prince Ivan agreed to these terms. The Baba Yaga gave him food and drink, and bade him set about his business. But the moment he had driven the mares afield, they cocked up their tails, and away they tore across the meadows in all directions. Before the Prince had time to look round they were all out of sight. Thereupon he began to weep and to disquiet himself, and then he sat down upon a stone and went to sleep. But when the sun was near its setting the outlandish bird came flying up to him, and awakened him, saying:

‘Arise, Prince Ivan! The mares are at home now.’