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- 13 -

Finist's Palace by Ivan Bilibin

 

The next day Raisa sat down again beside the blue ocean and took out the golden embroidery frame and needle. When she held the golden embroidery frame in her hand, the needle began to embroider all by itself.

The patterns it made were more beautiful than any human hand could make. Again a crowd gathered around her and as before, the bride of Finist came up to her. When she saw the beautiful pictures the embroidery frame could make she clapped her hands together and said 'I must have it!'

'I want to buy your embroidery frame,' she said to Raisa, 'how much do you want for it? And don't tell me you want to spend another night at the bedside of Finist! He's already getting suspicious! Look, I can pay you for it!'

'It is not for sale,' said Raisa. 'But if you let me watch just one more night at the bedside of Finist, you may have it.'

'Oh, all right then,' said the bride, 'just one more night,' all the time thinking to herself: 'You little fool, you're just wasting your time!'

But aloud she said: 'Come to the palace tonight as before.'

The bride made sure that Finist got an even larger dose of sleeping potion that night. When she brought Raisa into the room where Finist was sleeping, she said to her:

'Take a good look at your precious Finist tonight, for it will be your last! Tomorrow is our wedding day.'

Raisa again spent the night crying and weeping over her beloved Finist, trying her best to waken him.

Though he could hear her crying through his sleep and his heart grieved, yet he still could not open his eyes. Just before dawn, her heart full of despair, Raisa cried out:

'Farewell, Finist my love, you will never see me again!' and she bent over to kiss him.

As she bent over him one of her hot tears fell upon his cheek.

With a start Finist cried out 'Something burnt me!' and suddenly opened his eyes.

When he saw Raisa in front of him, he was overjoyed. 'I thought it was a dream!' he said.

She told him everything that had happened, all about her sisters, what they had done and how she had searched for him for so long. He heard about how she had made the bargain with his bride.

'Then she cannot love me as I thought,' he said quietly.

Just then his bride came into the room. 'Time to go!' she said coldly to Raisa 'and don't let me see you around the palace again!'

Then she realised that Finist was awake. 'But how?...' she began.

She did not get time to finish, as Finist told her to leave the room and asked Raisa to stay. He ordered all his advisers and courtiers to appear before him and asked them:

'Who do you think I should share my life with, with someone who sold me for gold and silver or for one who has remained true and searched for so long for me though all kinds of hardships?'

Luckily, most of them gave the right answer and Raisa and Finist the Bright Falcon were soon married.

As for the precious gifts that Raisa had given to the almost-bride, they crumbled to dust as soon as she tried to use them.

And I am glad to say that the spool of thread eventually wound its way back to the second Baba Yaga, and she was able to mend her clothes at last.


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