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Fenist The Bright Falcon

Fenist The Bright Falcon
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Once upon a time there lived a peasant. His wife died and left him three daughters. The old man wanted to hire a servant-girl to help about the house, but his youngest daughter Maryushka said:

"Don't hire a servant, Father, I shall keep house alone."

And so his daughter Maryushka began keeping house, and a fine housekeeper she made. There was nothing she could not do, and all she did she did splendidly. Her father loved Maryushka dearly and was glad to have such a clever and hard-working daughter. And how lovely she was! But her two sisters were ugly creatures, full of envy and greed, always paint-ed and powdered and dressed in their best. They spent all day putting on new gowns and trying to look better than they really were. But nothing ever pleased them long -- neither gowns, nor shawls, nor high-heeled boots.

Now, one day the old man set out to market and he asked his daughters:

"What shall I buy you, dear daughters, what shall I please you with?"

"Buy us each a kerchief," said the two elder daughters. "And mind it has big flowers on it done in gold."

But his youngest daughter Maryushka stood silent, so the father asked her:

"And what would you like, Maryushka?"

"Dear Father, buy me a feather of Fenist the Bright Falcon."

By and by the father came back with the kerchiefs, but the feather he had not found.

After a while the man went to market again.

"Well, daughters, make your orders," said he.

And the two elder daughters replied eagerly: "Buy each of us a pair of silver-studded boots."

But Maryushka said again: "Dear Father, buy me a feather of Fenist the Bright Falcon."

All that day the father walked about the market and bought the boots, but the feather he could not find. And so he came back without it.

Very well, then. He set out on his way to the market for the third time and his elder daughters asked him: "Buy us each a new gown."

But Maryushka said again: "Dear Father, buy me a feather of Fenist the Bright Falcon."

All that day the father walked about the market, but still no feather. So he drove out of town, and who should he meet on the way but a little old man.

"Good day, Grandfather!"

"Good day to you, my dear man. Where are you bound for?"

"Back to my village, Grandfather. And I don't know what to do. My youngest daughter asked me to buy her a feather of Fenist the Bright Falcon, but I haven't found it."

"I have the feather you need; it is a charmed one, but I see you are a good man, so you shall have it, come what may."

The little old man took out the feather and gave it to the girl's father, but it looked quite ordinary, so the peasant rode home and he thought: "What good can it be to my Maryushka?"

In a while the old man came home and gave the presents to his daughters. And the two elder ones tried on their new gowns and kept laughing at Maryushka:

"Silly you were, and silly you are! Stick it in your hair now -- won't you look fine with it!"

But Maryushka made no answer, she just kept away from them. And when the whole house was asleep, she cast the feather on the floor and said softly: "Come to me, dear Fenist, Bright Falcon, my cherished bridegroom!"

And there came to her a youth of wondrous beauty. Towards morning he struck the floor and became a falcon. And Maryushka opened the window and the falcon soared up into the blue sky.

And so for three nights she made him welcome. By day he flew about in the blue heavens as a falcon; at nightfall he came back to Maryushka and turned into a handsome youth.

But on the fourth day the wicked sisters caught sight of them and went and told their father.

"Dear daughters," said he, "better mind your own business."

"All right," thought the sisters, "we shall see what comes next." And they stuck a row of sharp knives into the window-sill and hid by watching.

And after a while the Bright Falcon appeared. He flew up to the window, but could not get into Maryushka's room. So he fluttered and fluttered there, beating against the pane, till all his breast was cut by the blades. But Maryushka slept fast and heard nothing. So at last the falcon said:

"Who needs me, will find me, but not without pains. You shall not find me till you wear out three pairs of iron shoes, and break three iron staffs, and tear three iron caps."

Maryushka heard this and she sprang from her bed to the window. But the falcon was gone, and all he left on the window was a trace of red blood. Maryushka burst into bitter tears, and the little tear-drops washed off the trace of red blood and made her still prettier.

And then she went to her father and said to him: "Do not chide me, Father, but let me go on my weary way. If I live to see you, I shall, but if I do not, then so must it be."

The man was sorry to part with his sweet daughter, but at last he let her go.

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