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n a far off Tzardom, there lived a little girl who was so lovely that she was known as Vasilisa the beautiful.

                             

When Vasilisa was eight years old her mother became ill and no doctor could cure her.

Just before she died, she called Vasilisa to her bedside and told her:

'My dearest Vasilisa, do not weep for me, but listen carefully to my words.

I am leaving you this little wooden doll, which my own mother left me; you must never show it to anyone.

Always carry it with you wherever you go. It will help you whenever you are in trouble and comfort you when you have no one to turn to.

When you need help, go somewhere quiet and give it something to eat and it will tell you what to do.'

Blinking back her tears, Vasilisa took the little wooden doll, received her mother's blessing and kissed her for the last time.

Vasilisa was heartbroken when her beloved mother died. She missed her terribly and spent many lonely nights crying. When she woke up and remembered that her mother was no longer around, she would feel worse than ever.

She was so sad that she did not think of the little wooden doll for a long time afterwards.

One evening when she was thinking about her mother, she put her hand into her pocket and suddenly felt the little doll and remembered her mother's words.

She took some food to her room and fed the doll. As soon as the doll began to eat, its eyes began to shine as if they were human and it suddenly became alive.

Vasilisa was shocked for a moment, but the doll smiled up at her and said 'Don't be frightened, Vasilisa and do not be sad, for the morning is wiser than the evening. Lie down and sleep and tomorrow you will feel much better.' Vasilisa felt all her sadness slipping away from her and fell asleep.

After that, any time she felt sad Vasilisa would turn to the little doll for comfort. With the help of the little doll, her grief became somewhat easier to bear, although she still missed her mother very much.

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(twelve pages in all)