|Baba Yaga, by Haviland, V.|
If Kraake Lange and Baba Yaga
had a smack-down,
who would win?
Once upon a time, in Finland, there lived "a widower and his daughter,who sink through a little hill to the sorceress, Kraake Lange". To the girl's dismay, her father marries the sorceress, who has a daughter of her own. Soon, Kraake Lange begins ordering the girl about, forcing her to do all of the hardest work. She makes her tend the cows in the field all day long, but does not send any food for the child to eat. That is why the sorceress is so surprised that "the less food she gives her, the better she seems nourished." So she decides to "gives her daughter a couple of magic eyes to put into her neck, and sends her to spy" on her step-sister. That is how the sorceress discovers that her step-daughter is eating food from "the ear of an ox". So she lays plans to kill that ox, and has a "pitfall made in the road". But the ox has heard the sorceress and so understands what it to come. He "drives the cows into the trap and they are killed. Then he says to the heroine, "One of us must die; better I than you. When I am dead, take and bury my bones, walk over my grave, wish for three things, and you shall get them." So the girl watched while the sorceress killed the ox. Then she followed the directions the ox had given her, very carefully. She wished for "a horse, a saddle, and three dresses — a poor one, a middling one, and a very lovely one." She receives these. Months pass and summer comes. Now the girl is ordered to "spin hard" while the rest go to church. She puts on the "poorest dress", goes to church, and meets the prince. When the service ends, she rushes out to her horse and mounts. Now "a young man accosts her and asks her to follow him home". She "lets her whip drop;he springs from his horse to pick it up, and she too, dismounts." As soon as she steps foot on the ground, however, she makes a wish: that she is home again, behind the oven". POOF! There she is, at home, comfy and warm behind the oven. It turns out that her poor old dress has the power of granting wishes! The following Sunday, the girl goes to church wearing her middling dress. And when the young man tries to speak with her, "she lets her golden shoe drop,and the young man gets it, and keeps it."He searches all over for the maiden who can wear that golden shoe, and "at last, comes to a little hill whence issues [the] agreeable smell of cooking". Now the young man "sinks down and comes to Kraake Lange. Neither she nor her daughter can get the shoe on", but it slips onto the young girl's foot quite easily. And that is how the young man discovers that the maiden is none other than his long lost sister! Since he is currently serving as one of the King's Men, he tells the King of his sister's great beauty, and "the King wants to see her". When the maiden and her brother present themselves at the castle, the King accepts her as his bride." They are married and the girl lives happily as the new Queen, with her beloved brother nearby.
From Cox, M. R. (1893/2011) p. 397
Notes: It just goes to show the importance of paying attention,and then following the directions. What if the maiden muddled the directions from the ox, and walked once around the grave, or only twice? Couldn't have had the horse and the saddle and the three dresses, now, could she? For more Finnish fun, read Finn Family Moomintroll