The Frog Princess


A long time ago there was an old widowed tsar who had three sons. None of his sons were married. One day the tsar called them all and said, “My dear sons, I am getting older, but before I die it would be a great pleasure for me to see you all married and settled with your own families. I want you all to go to the open field tomorrow morning and each of you should fire one arrow as far and as high as you can. You then should follow your arrow and marry the one who picks it up.” Next morning, all three sons went to the open field and fired their arrows. The arrow of the eldest son landed in the courtyard of a boyar and the nobleman’s daughter picked it up. The arrow of the second eldest son fell into a wealthy merchant's yard, where the merchant's daughter found it. The youngest son, Ivan, shot his arrow into a swamp and was picked up by a crowned frog. When he went into the swamp to find it, he found a frog holding the arrow in its mouth. Ivan could not deny his father’s will, so he picked up his bride from the swamp and later married the frog on the same exact day his elder brothers married their brides.

The elder brothers and their wives soon started pointing fun at unfortunate Ivan and his wife-frog, but despite that the young man always treated the frog as his wife. One day the Tsar called his sons and told them, “I would like to see your new wives’ skills. I want each one of them to sew me a new shirt by tomorrow morning." All three son bowed to their father and went home. When the first two sons told their wives the father’s wish, both ladies were not anxious to start working on it, but knew that had no choice but please the old man. But Ivan did not even say anything to his frog until she asked him why Ivan is not as happy as usual. Ivan Tsarevich told the frog his father’s wish. "Oh, don't worry, Ivan," the frog replied, "just go to bed and sleep well. The mornings are wiser than the nights." Indeed, when Ivan woke up next morning, he found a beautiful shirt lying on his bench. The shirt was beautifully embroidered with gold and silver threads. Ivan was overfilled with joy when he saw that. He took the shirt, wrapped it inside a towel and rushed to his father’s palace where his elder brothers were already waiting for him. The tsar did not like the shirts presented by his elder sons and ordered his servant to use them as rags, but the one that Ivan presented he only had worn at the important events. Another day, the Tsar called his sons again and told them, “I know how good your wives at sewing now, but I would like to see how well they can cook. I wish your wives to bake me a loaf by tomorrow morning.”

So when the morning came, the Tsar ordered to feed his horses with loafs baked by his elder sons’ wives. But the loaf baked by the Frog was so good, that Tsar decided to save it until the feast. Then the tsar told his sons, "Dear sons, tomorrow I will hold a feast and I want you to bring your wives to my celebration dressed in their finest clothes." Ivan Tsarevish went home glummer than ever and told the frog about the feast. "Don't worry, Ivan and go to your father’s palace by yourself. I will catch up with you later "said the wise frog. Next evening Ivan went to his father’s palace by himself as the frog advised, and his elder brothers and sisters-in-law started laughing at him by saying, "Where is your green wife now? You’ve must have search through the entire swamp to find such a beauty.” All of a sudden everybody heard a great thunderous sound approaching the palace. A golden carriage showed up to its entrance and as soon as the door opened the beautiful princess named Vasilisa the Wise stept down from it. No one expected her to walk inside and to take Ivan Tsarevich’s hand. However, a moment later, all guests returned back to the table and feast continued. The princess Vasilisa after drinking some wine poured the last drops of it in her left sleeve. After eating a piece of the roasted swan she threw some bones of it in her right sleeve. The elder brothers’ wives saw her doing that and copied her every step. When the feast was over all guests went to dance. As soon as Vasilisa showed up with Ivan Tsarevich everyone turned from dancers into the watchers. The princess frog danced so nice and smooth that all people could not stop watching her. At the end Vasilisa swung her left arm and a blue lake appeared on the floor, then she swung her right arm and the swans appeared on it. When she had finished dancing, the other two brothers and their wives occupied the floor. They too wanted impress the tsar and the public by their dance. When the women swung their left arms they splashed the guests with drops of wine; they swung their right arms and bones flew all over the floor hitting guest on their heads. Meanwhile, Ivan Tsarevich rushed back home before the feast was over. He found the frog skin on the floor and did not hesitate to burn it in the hot oven. When Vasilisa returned and could not find the frog skin where she left it she said to her husband with grief, “Oh, Ivan Tsarevich, what have you done! If you waited just three more days I would stay here with you forever, but now I have to leave. You can find me now at the Koschei’s the Deathless kingdom on the opposite side of the earth.”

As soon as Vasilisa said those words she turned into a gray bird and flew out of the window. Ivan wept sorrowfully realizing his horrible mistake for a full day. But in the morning he went to look for his beloved wife. After Ivan was exhausted, his shoes had holes in them and his hat was destroyed by the rain and wind, the young man met an old stranger who started talking to him and Ivan shared his story. The old wise man said to him in reply, "Ivan Tsarevich, why did you burn the frog skin? You did not create it therefore it was not your business to destroy it. It was Vasilisa's father who turned her into a frog for three years after he was angry with her that his daughter was smarter than him. Please take my yarn ball now and follow it everywhere it rolls. It will point you the right direction.” Ivan thanked the kind stranger and did what he has been told, he ran after the yarn ball that led him right into the forest where the young prince spotted a bear. Being very hungry, Ivan targeted the animal with his arrow when the bear cried to him in a human voice, "Don't kill me, Ivan Tsarevich. You may find me very helpful in the future." And the young man continued on his journey leaving the bear in peace. Going deeper into the forest, Ivan spotted a drake and wanted to fire his arrow at it once again. But the drake begged him in a human voice, “Do not harm me, Ivan Tsarevich. I will serve you well in the future.” And Ivan spared the bird as well. The kind hearted young prince spared the rabbit and a fish later in the same manner. Next, the ball led Ivan Tsarevich to a mysterious hut that was turning on its chicken legs. The brave Ivan went inside and met Baba Yaga. As soon as she saw the prince, the old woman said, “Ugh, I sense the Russian Soul nearby. Are you looking for an adventure, young man, or looking to avoid one?” Ivan Tsarevich replied to her, “You grew to be two hundred years of age, but did not learn to greet your guest with some food and drink first and ask your questions later.” Baba Yaga treated Ivan well by offering him a hot meal and a soft bed.

Then Ivan told her his story. “I know that your wife is now a prisoner of Koschei’ the Deathless. There is no such a sword or a bow that would defeat him. His death is located on the top of a needle, that needle is inside of an egg, that egg is inside of the duck, the duck is inside of the rabbit, that rabbit is inside of the wooden box that is tied with heavy chains to the top of the tallest oak. Be careful though, Ivan. Koschei watches after that oak closer than after an apple of his eye.” Next morning the young Russian prince thanked Baba Yaga and went straight to the tallest oak. When he finally arrived and saw the box, the young man realized that that it was tied up so high in the air that it was impossible for a human to reach it. Suddenly, the bear appeared from out of nowhere and knocked the oak down to the ground. The wooden box fell and got broken into many pieces.

As soon as it happened, a wild rabbit jumped out and ran as fast as it could. But another rabbit that was spared by Ivan ran after it, caught up and tore it apart. A split of a second later, a duck flew out of it high into the sky, but before it was torn apart by the drake, the duck dropped an egg into the blue sea. Ivan Tsarevich did not know what to do next and how to look for an egg in the deep waters of the sea. Suddenly, the fish that he spared earlier swam up to him with the egg in its mouth. As soon as the young man recovered the needle and broke its tip, Koschei died and his kingdom fell apart. Prince Ivan found and took Vasilisa home where the couple lived happily ever after.

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