Daughter and Step-Daughter


A widowed peasant lived happily with his daughter called Masha until he married a widow who also had a daughter from her previous marriage called Marfa. The stepmother was a wicked woman who set the old man’s daughter Masha to work all the hours that God sent: she had to keep the house clean as well as cooking for the entire family, cut the firewood, knit and sew. In other words, Masha alone was responsible for the entire household. In the meanwhile, the woman’s own daughter Marfusha was lazy and spent her days sleeping on the top of the brick stove with no interest in anything. One day, Masha was washing the floor and left her bucket standing in front of the oven. At the same time Marfusha was trying to come down from the oven since the delicious smell of home- made pies woke her up. Accidentally, Marfa fells in the bucket filled with water that Masha left standing there. Marfa’s mother became very angry and ordered her husband to take his daughter to the forest, where she should stay for three days and spin three hundred pounds of yarn as a punishment.

The older man has no other option rather than fulfill his wife’s wish. He carted Masha off to the forest hut and gave her steel, flint and tinder, and a bag of millet, saying, "Here is a fire; keep the fire burning and the porridge boiling, sit and spin, and let no one in." Night fell. The girl heated the stove, cooked the porridge, and suddenly heard a little mouse say, "Masha, Masha give me please a spoonful of porridge." "Oh, little mouse," she cried, "stay and talk to me: I'll give you more than a spoonful of porridge, I'll feed you as much as you want." So the mouse ate its fill and left. In the night a bear broke in, calling, "Come on, girl, put out the light and let's play blind man's buff. If you manage to escape, you can ask for anything you wish, but if I will win, I will eat you." The mouse suddenly appeared in front of Masha. It came scampering up to the maid's shoulder and whispered to her, "Don't be afraid, Masha! Accept the bear’s rules, then put out the light and crawl under the stove, and I will run around ringing a little bell instead of you." The bear started to chase the mouse, but could not catch it until he quickly got tired. "You are good at playing blind man's buff," he said. ” I will not eat you. Instead, in order to grant you for making me porridge and cleaning my hut well I will send you a drove of nice horses and a cartload of pure gold and silver as my gratitude."

Next morning Masha’s father came back to pick her up. He could not let his daughter to be by herself in the middle of the forest for three full days. The old man could not even dream to see his Masha in a nice new outfit standing in front of the Bear’s hut with drove of horses and richly decorated sledge. There was lots of gold and silver along with the processed yarn on that sledge. When Masha and her father approached their house’s gate the dog started barking. "Bow-wow-wow! The old man is coming back with his daughter driving a drove of horses and bringing a cartload of goods." "You're lying, fleabag!" shouted the step-mother. "Those are her bones rattling and clanking in the cart." The gate creaked, the horses raced into the yard, and there were the old man and his daughter sitting in the cart. With a cartload of goods! The woman's eyes gleamed with greed. She immediately told her husband to take her daughter Marfa to the same forest for one night. “My daughter is not a fool, like yours, she will return home with two droves of horses and two cartloads of goods,” she said. The peasant drove his wife’s daughter to the hut and provided her with food and fire as the woman requested to. As night falls she ate the leftovers of Masha’s porridge. Same mouse suddenly came to ask her for a spoonful of porridge. But Marfusha yelled:"Out, you, pest! You need a hungry cat more than a spoonful of porridge." The mouse ran away. Marfa finished up Masha’s porridge all by herself, put out the light and lay down in a corner. At midnight the bear broke in again crying. "Hey. where are you, girl? Are you ready to play a game of blind man's buff?" The girl was silent, only her teeth chattering from fear. "Ah,here you are." Bear said. "Please take this bell and run. If you will manage to escape you can ask me for anything you wish. However, if I win, I will eat you."

Marfusha’s hand was constantly shaking, she took the little bell and could not stop it ringing. Out of the darkness came the mouse's voice: 'The wicked girl will soon be the bear’s dinner!" Next morning the woman sent her husband to the forest in order to help her daughter carry back all of the goods that Bear was expected to grant. The peasant went off, leaving his wife waiting by the gate. The dog started barking once again: "Bow-wow-wow! The witch’s girl is coming: her bones are rattling in the bag, the old man's sitting on the nag!" "You're lying, fleabag," cried Marfa’s mother. "My daughter's driving droves and bringing loads." But when she looked up, there was the old man at the gate, handing her a grey bag. When she opened it and saw the bones of her daughter, she began to rant and rage so much that she died next day from grief. The old man lived out his life in peace with his daughter.

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