Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cinderella #18 Vasilisa the Beautiful, a Cinderella story from Russia, pt.1

Illustrated by Herbert Danska
Once upon a time, in Russsia, " a merchant and his wife had an only daughter. She was so lovely to look at that she was called Vailisa the Beautiful.  One sad day, when Vasilisa was only 8 years old, her mother took ill. After many days in bed she called her child to her side and said, " I am dying, Vasilisa, my dear. I leave you my blessing and this little doll. Listen now, and remember what I say. You must keep this little doll with you always, and be sure you do not show it to any other person. If any trouble comes your way, you must feed this doll and ask its advice and it will tell you what to do." And so the mother died, and father and daughter wept. The years passed, and the merchant took another wife, a widow, "no longer young, who had two daughters  a little older than Vasilisa. He thought she would make a good mother for his Vasilisa - but he was wrong. " She was cruel and her girls spiteful, lazy and mean. They made their stepsister do "all the hardest work, hoping she would become tired and sickly and would be burned dark by the sun and the wind." They were wrong. She became even prettier while they got uglier by the day, " just from ill temper." Of course, Vasilisa had a secret. Each day she saved tidbits for her doll, and each evening she fed her and told her what tasks to do in the morning. And in this way, she grew to young ladyhood. Her doll worked the fields, watered the cabbage patch, filled the water jugs and tended the fire, while Vasilisa " rested in the garden, or picked flowers as the doll told her to do." By the time she was grown, every young man in the village was courting her. But no one wanted to date her ugly stepsisters! This made the mother even crueler and she let it be known that until she had married off her older girls no one could marry the youngest. Then she beat Vasilisa out of jealousy and smallness of spirit. One day, the merchant heard of a good bargain far from the village, and set out on a journey in search of it. His wife promptly moved the family to " a different house near a dense forest. She knew that in a clearing deep in the forest stood a small hut, and in that hut lived Baba Yaga. This Baba Yaga was a wicked witch. She ate people as if they were chickens." That's why the stepmother sent Vasilisa deeper into the woods each evening, after dark, in search of fire wood. She hoped the girl would get eaten like a chicken. But the little doll guided her safely back each time. Autumn came, and the mother gave tasks to each girl: the eldest was to make lace, the middle to knit stockings, and Vasilia to spin thread. They must finish the day's load before sleeping, so the mother always left one candle burning for them to work by, when she went to bed at night. One night, the candle was short. It sputtered, and the eldest snuffed it out, as her mother had told her to do when a candle was gone. And now they were in the dark. Mother would beat them all if their tasks weren't done by daylight, but how could they work in the dark? "We shall have to go and get a light from Baba Yaga", said the eldest. Her sister said that the light glinting from her knitting needles was enough to see by. She would not go out for a light. And the eldest agreed that her needles glinted as well, so she would not go. That left only Vasilisa, and she was soon shoved out into the night. That's when the dolly was drawn from her pocket, and whispered to. " 'Dolly dear, eat this and listen! My stepsisters are sending me to Baba Yaga, the witch. She will eat me up!' The little doll ate and her eyes shone like lighted candles. 'Do not be afraid.' she said, 'go where they send you but keep me with you and Baba Yaga can do you no harm.' Vasilisa hid the doll again in her pocket. She crossed herself and walked bravely into the thick, dark, forest. "