The Princess of the Golden Kingdom by Victor Vasnetsov

The Tzarevnas of the Underground Kingdom

Page 7

After some time travelling through the dark tunnel, he saw a golden glow up ahead of him. Soon the tunnel ended and he came out into an even larger cavern than the previous one. Everything in that Tzardom seemed to be bathed in a pure golden light. For a moment he thought he felt the sun, but when he looked up he realised that, although that golden light seemed to have a little of the warmth of the upper world, there was no sun to be seen.

When he thought back on it afterwards, it reminded him more of a reflection of sunlight upon water than sunlight itself. Under that light his own skin and clothes began to take on a golden glow. Everything in the Golden Kingdom was made of purest gold.

The Tsarevna stood on the golden sands in front of the palace. She was pleased to see him and set in front of him food of gold and sparkling golden wine.

Then he told her he had left home to look for a wife. 'If you would like to marry me then come with me now.'

To his great surprise and joy, the princess answered with a smile: 'Of course I will marry you. But take this golden ring, which will protect you. You must wear it always, along with the copper and the silver rings. And now we must go and free my sisters.'

On their way back through the dark tunnel, they passed through the Silver Kingdom. Here, they were greeted with great joy by the Silver Tsarevna, who joined them. Presently they came to the Copper Kingdom, where the first Tsarevna joined them.

They continued on their way, until they reached the shaft though which Ivan had made his descent into the underground realms.

The harness was still hanging down and although Ivan could not see the top of the shaft, unknown to him, his two brothers were at that very moment standing there. Their parents had sent them to look for Ivan. Guessing that he was somewhere below, they had already spent several hours trying to pluck up the courage to go down. Eventually they had persuaded each other that Ivan was probably dead.

They had been just about to leave when the Tsarevna from the Copper Kingdom climbed into the harness and gave it a little tug. The brothers saw the ropes moving and realised that someone was signalling from below. They began to draw up the harness with the Copper Tsarevna in it. When she was safely at the top they let the harness down again.

This time the Tsarevna from the Silver Kingdom got into the harness, and was drawn up. Then the Tsarevna from the Golden Kingdom was drawn up the shaft. Finally, Ivan himself got into the harness and the brothers pulled and pulled. By this time they were getting tired of pulling on the ropes.

When they realised it was Ivan, they became jealous at the thought that their younger brother had succeeded where they had failed miserably. 'Why should we help him?' said Gregory.

'We'll be the laughing stock of the village!' agreed Misha. Just before he was half way up, Gregory bent down and before the Tsarevnas could stop him, he had slashed through the ropes of the harness. The Tsarevnas wept bitterly for Ivan, and begged the brothers to help him, but they would not. The Tsarevnas could only comfort themselves with the thought that Ivan was still wearing their rings.

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