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Her stepmother and stepsisters did not dare to venture near the forest, for Baba Yaga devoured people as if they were chickens. But they sent Vasilisa into the forest every day on some errand or other, hoping that she might be eaten, however, thanks to the little doll's protection, she always came home safe and sound.

Summer came and went and Vasilisa was still alive and well. She was sent out to work in the fields, and her stepsisters were amazed that she never seemed tired afterwards.

Soon the leaves turned golden on the trees and the nights became longer. It was a lonely life living on the edge of the forest.

'We don't want to spend the winter out here Mother, Liliya's daughters nagged her, 'we've got to get rid of her soon.'

'Don't worry, my dears, I have thought of a plan.'

One evening she gave the three girls work to do. She told one of her daughters to do some sewing, the other to knit a pair of socks and Vasilisa to do some spinning. Vasilisa was somewhat surprised at this, as her stepsisters normally never did any work - and they did not even protest once about it!

Then Liliya extinguished all the lamps in the house, saying 'Waste not, want not!' leaving only a single candle in the room where the three girls were working, and went upstairs to bed.

They had been working for some time, when one of the stepsisters tried to straighten the wick of the candle with her needle.

'Oh silly me!' she exclaimed as she put the candle out, pretending it was an accident.

'What are we going to do now?' asked her sister joining in the pretence, which was of course well planned.

'There is no other light in the house, and we are not finished our work yet. Mother will be frightfully angry with us.'

'We need a light,' said the first. ' Our nearest neighbour is Baba Yaga. We'll have to ask her for a light.'

'Well, I'm certainly not going!' said the first one.

'Nor am I,' said the second.

'Vasilisa,' said the first 'you're the youngest!'

'And you know your way around the forest!' said the second.

'You must go!' they both cried as they pushed Vasilisa out of the house, saying 'Don't come back until you get a light!'

Out in the garden, Vasilisa took the little doll from her pocket and cried:

'Little doll! Listen to my tale of woe. I've been told to go to Baba-Yaga for a light but I'm terrified that she'll eat me. What should I do?'

The doll's eyes began to shine like two candle flames as it became alive. It said:

'Don't be afraid, Vasilisa. Go to Baba Yaga's hut as you were told. While I am with you no harm shall come to you.'

Vasilisa went into the dark forest. Trembling with fear, she tried to keep her spirits up by thinking of her little doll's words.

to page 6
(twelve pages in all)