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Myths Russian

The Enchanted Crow



The Enchanted Crow






Category: Russian

Source: Fairy Tales From All Nations

In a royal palace dwelt, once upon a time, three fair sisters, all
equally young and pretty; the youngest, however, although not at all
more beautiful than the two elder, was the best and most amiable of
them all.

About half a mile distant from the palace, stood another lordly
dwelling, but which had then fallen into decay, although it still
could boast of a beautiful garden. In this garden the youngest
princess took great pleasure to wander.

Once as she was walking up and down between the lime trees, a black
crow hopped from under a rose-bush. The poor bird was all mutilated
and bloody, and the princess was moved with compassion for him. The
crow no sooner perceived this than he broke out into the following
discourse:--

"No black crow am I by birth, but an unhappy prince, suffering under a
malediction, and doomed to pass my years in this miserable condition.
If thou wilt, oh youthful princess, thou canst rescue me. But to do
so, thou must resolve to be ever my companion, to forsake thy sisters,
and to live in this castle. There is a habitable chamber in it,
wherein stands a golden bed; in that chamber thou must live in
solitude. But forget not, that whatsoever thou mayest see and hear by
night, thou must let no cry of fear escape thee; for if thou shouldst
utter but one single moan my tortures will be doubled."

The kind-hearted princess did forsake her father and sisters, and
hastened to the castle; and there dwelt in the chamber which contained
the golden bed. She was so full of anxious thought that she could not
sleep. As midnight drew near she heard, to her no small terror, some
one creeping in. The door opened wide, and a whole band of evil
spirits entered the chamber. They kindled a great fire on the hearth,
and placed over it a large cauldron, full of boiling water. With great
noise and loud cries they approached the bed, tore from it the
trembling maiden, and dragged her to the cauldron.

She was almost dead from fear, but she uttered no sound. Then suddenly
the cock crew, and all vanished. The crow immediately appeared, and
hopped joyfully about the room, and thanked the princess for her
courageous behaviour, for the sufferings of the unhappy bird were
already lessened.

One of her elder sisters, who had much curiosity in her disposition,
having heard of this, came to visit the princess in her ruined castle.
She besought her so earnestly, that the kind-hearted maiden at length
permitted her to pass one night beside her, in the golden bed. When
the evil spirits appeared as usual about midnight, the elder sister
shrieked aloud from fear, and immediately the cry of a bird in pain
was heard.

The young sister from that time never received the visits of either of
her sisters. Thus did she live; solitary by day, and suffering by
night the most terrible alarm from the evil spirits; but the crow came
daily to her, and thanked her for her endurance, assuring her that his
dreadful sufferings were greatly mitigated.

Thus had passed two years, when the crow came to her, and thus
addressed her:--

"In one year more I shall be delivered from the punishment to which I
am condemned; for then seven years will have passed over my head. But
before I can re-assume my real form, and gain possession of my
treasures, thou must go out into the wide world, and become a
servant."

Obedient to the will of her betrothed, the young princess served for a
whole year as a maid, and notwithstanding her youth and beauty, she
escaped all the snares laid for her by the ill-disposed.

One evening while she was spinning flax, and her white hands were
wearied with work, she heard a rustling, and an exclamation of joy. A
handsome young man entered her presence, knelt before her, and kissed
the little weary white hands.

"It is I," cried he, "I am the prince, whom thou, by thy goodness,
whilst I wandered in the form of a black crow, didst deliver from the
most dreadful tortures. Return with me now to my castle, there will we
live together in happiness."

They went together to the castle where she had undergone so much
terror. The palace was, however, no longer recognisable, it was so
improved and adorned, and in it did they dwell together for a hundred
happy and joyous years.





Next: The Dragon-giant And His Stone-steed

Previous: The Wolf And The Nightingale



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