THE DEATH OF KOSHCHEI THE DEATHLESS
I N a certain kingdom there lived a Prince Ivan. He had three sisters. The first was the Princess Marya, the second the Princess Olga, the third the Princess Anna. When their father and mother lay at the point of death, they had thus enjoined their son: ' Give your sisters in marriage to the very first suitors who come to woo them. Don't go keeping them by you !'
They died, and the Prince buried them, and then, to solace his grief, he went with his sisters into the garden green to stroll. Suddenly the sky was covered by a black cloud; a terrible storm arose.
' Let us go home, sisters !' he cried.
Hardly had they got into the palace, when the thunder pealed, the ceiling split open, and into the room where they were came flying a falcon bright. The Falcon smote upon the ground, became a brave youth, and said :
' Hail, Prince Ivan ! Before I came as a guest, but now I have come as a wooer ! I wish to propose for your sister, the Princess Marya.'
' If you find favour in the eyes of my sister, I will not interfere with her wishes. Let her marry you, in God's name ! '
The Princess Marya gave her consent; the Falcon married her and bore her away into his own realm.
Days follow days, hours chase hours; a whole year goes by. One day Prince Ivan and his two sisters went out to stroll in the garden green. Again there arose a storm-cloud, with whirlwind and lightning.
' Let us go home, sisters !' cries the Prince. Scarcely had they entered the palace when the thunder crashed, the roof burst into a blaze, the ceiling split in twain, and in flew an eagle. The Eagle smote upon the ground and became a brave youth.
' Hail, Prince Ivan ! Before I came as a guest, but now I have come as a wooer ! '