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The Tsarevnas of the Underground Kingdom

Page 6

Ivan continued on his way down the tunnel. In the distance he saw a faint glow of white light at the end of the tunnel. As he came closer the light gradually became brighter. Soon he was standing in a gigantic cave, the roof of which seemed to be miles above his head.

A ray of bright moonlight shone down upon a forest of silver birch from the roof of the cave.

A palace stood at the edge of a shimmering silver sea. Soft silvery sand covered the cave floor. Glittering stalactites hung down from the ceiling of the cave. The only sounds were the sighing of the wind and the breaking of the waves upon the beach.

The Tsarevna who was riding a white mare at the water's edge, turned and cantered towards him. He shivered slightly as he watched the horse splashing about in the cold waves. She reined in her horse in front of him and pushing back her silver hair from her face said:

'Welcome to the Silver Kingdom!'

Ivan bowed low before her wondering whether she too was made of silver. She smiled and asked him where he had come from and where he was going.

A little tongue-tied, he answered: 'Dear Lady, I must first eat and drink before I can answer your questions.'

They returned to the palace and she set food and wine before him. The food was of pure silver and the wine sparkled brightly in the beaker. While he was eating he glanced down at his hands and noticed that the copper tinge had almost gone and they were slowly taking on a silver sheen. As he ran his fingers through his hair and shivered as it made a curious clinking sound. 'Oh well, let's hope it doesn't last too long!' he thought to himself.

When he had eaten, he told the Tsarevna that he was looking for a wife and asked her if she would marry him.

She answered: 'Alas, that cannot be, for you must travel on through the dark tunnel until you reach the Golden Kingdom, where the Tsarevna awaits you. Take this silver ring and wear it always. It will protect you on your journey.'

Ivan thanked the Tsarevna of the Silver Kingdom and went on his way.

 

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