that's just the limit!' hissed Malvina
through gritted teeth, when their father
had gone. 'Getting us into trouble!
- She'll pay for this! I'm going to
catch her out if it kills me! I'm sure
that whoever comes to visit her can
only be coming through the window.'
'But it's so small, Malvina, how could
anyone possibly squeeze through it?'
we've been watching her door for weeks,
and we haven't seen a thing, so it can't
be that way.
I'll tell you what I've been thinking.
Elvira, dear, what about you keeping
watch at night in the old barn opposite
the house, until we find out how her
secret visitor gets into the room.'
Why me?' said Elvira sulkily. 'Why not
you see, I'll be keeping an eye on the
door, just in case he comes that way.'
I don't see why I have to be
the one out in the barn!'
you know how I fall asleep so easily
Elvira dear, and I do get so very
bad-tempered when I don't get a full
night's sleep. You should know that
by now.' There was no mistaking
the threat in Malvina's voice.
perhaps you're right,' muttered Elvira
frowning sulkily, 'but I still think
we should take it in turns.'
'Yes of course we will Elvira dear,'
said Malvina smoothly, 'but I'm trusting
you to do the first couple of nights,
as I'm sure you can do it so well.'
she didn't have much choice in the matter
Elvira resigned herself to spending
her nights out in the the barn keeping
watch on Raisa's window.
Whenever her sulking became unbearable,
Malvina would take an odd turn at keeping
father shook his head in dismay at the
sight of all three of his daughters
yawning and dozing off at all hours
during the day.
don't know what's going on around this
house - it seems as if I'm the only
one doing any housework around here.
The rest of you just seem to be half
asleep all day!'
Already in a rather bad mood from lack
of sleep the night before, Malvina replied:
'Yes, but as we've already told you
Father, it's because Raisa is always
chattering away in her room at night.
It keeps us awake.'
was his only answer to this as he washed
the dishes, clattering them noisily
around the sink.
they often fell asleep on the job, the
watching and waiting of Malvina and
Elvira in the barn at night eventually
paid off. They noticed the falcon flying
in and out of the window several times.
first, they did not pay much attention
to this, as Raisa often fed wild birds,
which sometimes became tame enough to
come to her.
after a while, they noticed that whenever
the falcon flew in the window, the talking
and laughter began again. 'I'm certain
that the falcon has something to do
with her secret visitor,' muttered Malvina
one morning after a another night out
in the barn.
how could it be? Falcons can't
talk!' exclaimed Elvira.
'Yes, but I've heard the old ones in
the village say that there are some
humans who can understand the language
of birds. Perhaps Raisa has these powers.'
could be right,' said Elvira after thinking
this over for a minute or two.
we've got to put a stop to it;' continued
Malvina, 'for if word got out about
this, someone might think she's a witch
- and we might also get branded as witches.
You know how superstitious the villagers
Elvira looked at her in horror - 'You
mean they'd even suspect us, how awful!'
'It's quite possible. And for Father's
sake, we've got to put a stop to it
now before it's too late!' said Malvina
'Yes, as you say, we've got to think
of a plan, for Father's sake,' agreed
could try to block up the window, to
stop the falcon coming through it,'
said Malvina with a sly smile.
'But she might notice it and take it
if she was asleep!' said Malvina.
how? Oh, I think I see... You mean a
sleeping potion? Doesn't Father take
something like that to help him sleep
at night?' said Elvira.
you get it! I know where he keeps it.
He'd never miss a few drops. And now
for the second part of our plan; what
do you say to this? We put something
against the window so the falcon can't
get in. That something has to be nice
and sharp so he doesn't want to come
back again - but what?' Malvina frowned.
Elvira thought about this for a moment.
'What about those rusty old knives out
in the barn? And there's a few old nails
out there too. They just might do the
a bad idea, isn't there a ladder out
'Yes, I think so.'
this evening I'll put a few drops of
sleeping potion, perhaps even more than
a few, into her drink and then she won't
notice a thing when her precious falcon
tries to flap against the window!' What
do you think of my plan now? grinned
Let's go and sharpen our knives!'
evening when it was dark, Malvina and
Elvira took the ladder from the barn,
along with the other things they had
prepared. They climbed up to the window
and put rusty knives and sharp nails
crossways outside it.
Later on, Malvina sent Raisa out to
the henhouse, so that Elvira could make
a quick dash up to Raisa's room to draw
the curtains. 'Let's hope she doesn't
notice anything!' whispered Elvira to
Malvina as she sneaked back down the
worry, I wasn't too sparing with the
nightcap!' Malvina smirked back at her.
evening they kept Raisa busy downstairs.
After she had taken her supper, and
unknown to her, the sleeping potion,
they kept her talking until they were
certain she was almost asleep.
'I don't know why I'm so sleepy this
evening,' she murmured yawning, as they
almost had to carry her up the stairs.
that's what comes of chattering away
to yourself all night long, I suppose,'
muttered Malvina under her breath.
'Oh, just let me sleep please,' Raisa
sighed as she slumped back onto the
bed already snoring lightly.' The other
two winked at each other and said 'Good
night, dear Raisa and sleep well.' There
was no reply. Raisa was already in a