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Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin
Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin


Then, suddenly clapping her boney hands, she screeched:

'Hey! My faithful servants - my bosom friends! Come and grind my wheat!'

Immediately three pair of hands appeared, seized the wheat and took it away.

Baba Yaga sat down to supper, and Vasilisa put enough meat for a dozen men in front of her, with a barrel of mead, and red wine.

She swallowed the meat, bones and all, without even chewing it this time, then stretched herself out on the stove and said:

'Tomorrow do the same as today, and as well as that, take the poppy seeds from my stores and clean them one by one. Someone spiteful has mixed earth in with them and I want them cleaned.'

Then she turned her long nose to the ceiling and began to snore loudly. Vasilisa went into the corner, took the little doll from her pocket, gave it some food that was left and asked its advice. The doll said: 'Don't worry, Vasilisa! Say your prayers and go to sleep.' Her fears once again slipped away from her. She said her prayers and went to sleep.

Next morning, she awoke up to an ear-splitting whistle outside. She ran to the door just in time to catch a glimpse of a pair of extremely boney legs clambering into the huge iron mortar.

The usual noises echoed throughout the forest after the gates of bone had crashed shut behind the old witch.

She drove away through the forest with the host of spirits adding their terrifying voices to the din as they tore along behind her.

A few moments later it, the forest was as still again as if she had never been there.

When Vasilisa looked around the hut she found that once again, the little doll had done everything except the cooking. There was not a trace of earth left in the bowl of poppy-seeds. She rested until late in the afternoon, when she cooked the supper and shared some with the little doll.

The black horseman galloped up to the gates in the twilight, leaped up over them like a shadow and disappeared. Darkness came down once more over the forest.

It did not remain dark for long. An instant later, the eye-sockets began to glimmer in their skulls, then they glowed brighter and brighter until the clearing gradually became as bright as day.

Suddenly, the ground shook, the trees began to creak and groan as if they were breaking, and Baba-Yaga came crashing through the undergrowth in her iron mortar, urging it along with her pestle and sweeping away her traces with the broomstick.

She could not find any reason to complain about the work and was again disappointed that she could not eat Vasilisa.

Then she clapped her hands and screamed:

'Hey! my trusty servants! My soul friends! Press the oil from my poppy-seeds!'

And instantly the three pair of hands appeared, seized the bowl of poppy-seeds and took it away.

She sat down to supper and Vasilisa brought all she had cooked, enough meat for a dozen men, with beer, mead and red wine to drink, and then stood waiting until Baba Yaga was finished.

to page 11
(twelve pages in all)