When he came again to Koshchey‘s palace he found his beloved Marya Morevna alone again and asked her, “Could you ask Koshchey where he got such wonderfully fast horse?”
That night she asked Koschey about the horse. He told her, “Behind the Fire River lives Baba Yaga. She has many good horses. Once I worked as a herdsman for her and she gave me this horse as a present.”
The next day, Prince Ivan decided to go to Baba Yaga and get a horse even better than Koshchey’s. He walked for a long time and became very hungry. All of a sudden he saw a bird with nestlings. He drew an arrow to shoot them for his meal.
But the mother bird begged him, “Don’t touch my children, Tsar Ivan. I could be helpful to you.”
Ivan had a kind heart and did not kill the small birds. Later in the woods he saw a beehive. But the bees begged him not to take their honey.
Then Ivan saw a lioness and her cub. “This is a good dinner,” he thought, aiming his arrow. But the lioness begged him, “Oh, Tsar Ivan, please, don’t kill my baby. I could be useful for you in the future.”
At last, tired and very hungry, Ivan came to the house of Baba Yaga and asked to work for her. She told him, “You can be my herdsman for three days. If you bring all my horses back safely at the end of the day, I will give you the pick of my horses. But if a single horse is missing, I’ll kill you, Ivan.”
The next morning when Ivan opened the stable door, all the horses ran away and disappeared. He started weeping and just lay down to sleep, since there was nothing he could do.
At sunset the bird whose nestling he had spared awakened him, saying, “Get up, Tsar Ivan, all your horses are back in the stable!”
When Baba Yaga found out, she cursed at her horses, yelling, “Why did you come home?”
They answered, “We were frightened back here. All the birds from the whole world came and pecked us!”
The next day the lioness helped Ivan round the horses up when they ran away. Baba Yaga was more furious than before at the horses. “Why did you come home this time?”
“Ah, we were so frightened. Wild animals from around the world came and chased us.”
On the third day the bees helped Ivan and one old bee said, “Do not go back to Baba Yaga. Go to the stable, take a scruffy small horse and run away.” He did everything as the bee recommended.
In the morning Baba Yaga discovered the loss and ran after Prince Ivan, but fell down into the Fire River and drowned. Ivan took good care of the small horse and before long it turned into a wonderful, strong horse.
Ivan returned to Koshchey’s house and took Marya Morevna away. Koshchey did his best to overtake them. But Ivan’s horse vanquished Koshchey’s.
Marya Morevna and Ivan visited his brothers-in-law and then returned home. Everybody lived happily ever after.
(If you like what you read here, you might also enjoy “Creative Musings” http://creativemusingsoflediar.com/, another blog of creative writing.)
“One of Kyives Oldest Tress” http://explorationart.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/one-of-kyives-oldest-trees/