Vasilissa the Fair
Pavlova, Elena, The World and I
There was once a merchant who was happily married. He and his wife had a very beautiful daughter, whom they named Vasilissa. But when the child was only eight years old, her mother grew dreadfully sick. "Come here, Vasilissa," said the mother, as she lay on her deathbed.
She took a small doll from beneath the covers and gave it to the child. "Listen carefully," she said. "Take this doll with my blessing, but do not show it to anyone. In times of trouble, the doll will help you. Give it food-and listen to its advice." Then Vasilissa's mother died.
The merchant grieved for his wife, as was only proper, but in time he decided to remarry. He chose a widow who had two daughters of her own, slightly older than Vasilissa. He was a good man and many would have accepted him, but he chose badly. His new wife was not a good stepmother to Vasilissa, and her daughters were jealous of Vasilissa's beauty. They gave the child every dirty and heavy job to do and always criticized and tormented her.
Poor Vasilissa endured everything without complaint. Indeed she grew more beautiful, despite her hard life and rough work, while her spiteful stepmother and stepsisters--though they all lived a life of ease--grew gaunt and ugly. How could this be? It was because Vasilissa was helped in all her tasks and trials by her little doll. The child would even go hungry to save food for it. And this special friend would do everything that needed to be done.
So Vasilissa was never coarsened by rough work. She grew to become a beautiful young woman, despite all the meanness that surrounded her. Soon every young man in the' town was coming to court her. But the stepmother would not allow fray man to woo Vasilissa and turned them all away. She was angry that none of the young men would consider her own daughters, and she often beat Vasilissa in her rage.
Vasilissa is sent away
Now the merchant's business required him to travel far away, to distant lands and for a long time. While he was gone, the stepmother moved the family to a house near the forest. Within these woods was the home of Baba Yaga, the evil and bony witch, who …
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Publication information: Article title: Vasilissa the Fair. Contributors: Pavlova, Elena - Author. Magazine title: The World and I. Volume: 13. Issue: 6 Publication date: June 1998. Page number: 204+. © 1999 News World Communications, Inc. COPYRIGHT 1998 Gale Group.
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