The Tsarevnas of the Underground Kingdom

Page 11

Soon all the meat was gone and there was still quite some way to go. The eagle began to turn its head towards Ivan again. Ivan knowing that there was no meat left to give it shouted out:

'Turn around, there's nothing left for you!' The eagle fixed Ivan with its baleful glare.

Ivan stared back at the eagle but he was trembling in every limb. After what seemed like an enternity, the eagle turned away again and Ivan breathed a sigh of relief.

Suddenly, with a screech that froze Ivan's blood, the eagle turned its head right around, tore a piece of flesh from Ivan's neck and swallowed it. Suddenly they were flying upwards through the shaft.

Ivan was in such a state of fear and shock that he felt no pain. He was sure that the eagle was about to devour him piece by piece. He made up his mind to jump off immediately, should it even look at him again.

As if in a dream he registered that were flying up and up through the shaft towards a distant speck of light. When they reached the top, the eagle alighted beside the black marble stone. Ivan tumbled onto the ground from the eagle's back. He lay stunned on the damp grass expecting the eagle to devour him.

But instead, the eagle brought back up the piece of flesh he had swallowed and told Ivan to hold it against the wound. Ivan did as the eagle said and his wound was healed. The eagle flew back down through the shaft.

Warmed by the rays of the sun, Ivan slowly felt the strength returning to his body. As he lay on the cool earth the sunlight sparkled on one of his rings and he remembered where he was.

He knelt and kissed the moist, black earth of Mother Russia, and then saw that his skin and clothes had returned to a normal colour. After saying a prayer of thanks, he returned to his home.

Ivan found the three Tzarevnas awaiting his return at his parent's house. They too, had been freed from the enchantment since they had returned to the upper world.

Ivan's parents had been told of what his brothers had done and they had been sent away in disgrace. Ivan begged his parents to forgive his brothers and they were allowed to come home again.

Ivan married the Tsarevna from the Golden Kingdom and they had many children. The other two Tsarevnas also married, but not Ivan's brothers, who stayed living happily with their parents.

The End

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