When the dark fell, Finist the Falcon came flying to his love, and the needles pierced his breast and the knives cut his brilliant wings, and although he struggled and beat against it, the window remained closed. “My beautiful dearest,” he cried, “hast thou ceased so soon to love me? Never shalt thou see me again unless thou searchest through three times nine countries, to the thirtieth Tsardom, and thou shalt first wear through three pairs of iron shoes, and break in pieces three iron staves, and gnaw away three holy church-loaves of stone. Only then shalt thou find thy lover, Finist the Falcon!” But though through her sleep she heard these bitter words, still she could not awaken, and at last the wounded Falcon, hearing no reply, shot up angrily into the dark sky and flew away.
In the morning, when she awoke, she saw how the window had been barred with knives set crosswise, and with needles, and how great drops of crimson blood were falling from them, and she began to wring her hands and to weep salt tears. “Surely,” she thought, “my cruel sisters have made my dear love perish!” When she had wept a long time she thought of the bright feather, and ran to the porch and waved it to the right, crying: “Come to me, my own Finist the Falcon!” But he did not appear, and she knew that the charm was broken.
Then she remembered the words she had heard through her sleep, and telling no one, she went to a smithy and bade the smith make her three pairs of iron shoes, and three iron staves, and with these and three church-loaves of stone, she set out across three times nine countries to the thirtieth Tsardom.
She walked and walked, whether for a short time or a long time the telling is easy but the journey is not soon done. She wandered for a day and a night, for a week, for two months and for three. She wore through one pair of the iron shoes, and broke to pieces one of the iron staves, and gnawed away one of the stone church-loaves, when, in the midst of a wood which grew always thicker and darker, she came to a lawn. On the lawn was a little hut on whose door-step sat a sour-faced old woman.
“Whither dost thou hold thy way, beautiful maiden?” asked the old woman.
“O Grandmother,” answered the girl, “I beg for thy kind ness! Be my hostess and cover me from the dark night. I am searching for Finist the swift bright Falcon, who was my friend.”
“Well,” said the dame, “he is a relative of mine; but thou wilt have to cross many lands still to find him. Come in and rest for the night. The morning is wiser than the evening.”
More Images of Ivan Bilibin’s art: https://www.google.com/search?q=ivan+bilibin+finist+the+falcon+images&hl=en&prmd=imvnso&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=1R6AT4uFBMiG2gX_v82EBw&sqi=2&ved=0CCMQsAQ&biw=1600&bih=775
“Sur La Lune Fairy Tales:Russian Wonder Tales” http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/russian/russianwondertales/featherfinistfalcon.html