Baba Yaga has allotted impossible chores but Vasilisa’s magic doll promises it will be all right…
When Vasilisa went to sleep, her little wooden doll got down to work. She summoned her feathered friends from the forests, sparrows, pigeons, birds all, who came and sorted the good grain from the black ones. Soon the sack was filled and ready in a corner when Vasilisa awoke the next morning.
Baba Yaga awoke too when the white horseman passed by the fence. With a great shriek, she summoned her mortar onto which she clambered and with the pestle in one hand and the broom in the other, she stormed her way out.
The sky was just beginning to light and the eye sockets on the fence had stopped shining, Vasilisa noticed. A little while later the red horseman rode past and the sun was beginning to come out.
Vasilisa swept the yard and cooked a huge dinner. Remember Baba Yaga could eat a whole horse and some more. By the time it had become evening and Vasilisa saw the dark horseman pass and the sky suddenly turning to night. The tornado arrived and along with it, Baba Yaga on her mortar. The eyes sockets of the skulls on the fence began to give out their eerie light and the hideous jaw unlocked itself for the witch. “So, little girl, have you picked out the grain, every single one?” asked Baba Yaga as she sat down once again by the stove. “Yes, Grandma... check if you like... there is not a single black speck”. “Humph,” Baba Yaga was not very happy to see the sack of grain all ready. Now this meant she couldn’t eat the girl today! “Now get me my supper!” she screeched. Vasilisa brought the food she had cooked, enough to feed an army, and along with it a barrel of mead and wine.
The witch gulped down everything in double quick time and when she finished, turned to Vasilisa again.
“So you managed to do everything I asked. Now there‘s some more. There’s a sack outside in the yard which is full of poppy seeds and peas. Separate the two, every one of them, by tomorrow evening and if you cannot, I’m afraid I will eat you up, my dear!” laughed Baba Yaga as if it was all a big joke. Then she threw herself on top of the still hot stove and was soon snoring loudly.
Vasilisa who got to eat only the leftovers, had saved a piece of bread for her doll whom she fed as soon as Baba Yaga was in slumber land. “Tomorrow I have another impossible chore — separating poppy seeds and peas! She’s surely going to eat me,’’ sobbed Vasilisa and the doll once again comforted her.“Don’t cry, dear Vasilisa! Say your prayers and off to sleep now. Remember mornings are always wiser than the evenings.”
And while she slept, the doll called her furry friends, mice and squirrels who came in quickly and sorted the seeds and the peas. When morning arrived the next day, Vasilisa woke to the same routine she saw the day before.
The white and the red horsemen sped by and Baba Yaga went off some place in her mortar. She was grateful to the doll who had now put the peas and poppy seeds in two separate sacks. Vasilisa then set to clean the yard and the hut and made dinner for the witch. Before she knew it, she saw the dark horseman pass and it was night again. Baba Yaga was home. “I’m ravenous!” she announced and flopped down near the stove. Vasilisa brought her meat and wine, a meal fit for a royal feast. But the witch finished it all in a jiffy and looked at Vasilisa, licking her lips.
“And what of that chore I gave you, my dear? If you haven’t finished it yet…,” Vasilisa quickly brought her the sacks. Baba Yaga’s green eyes turned red with anger. “WHAT? It cannot be! How could you manage to do this? Answer me now!” (She was hoping to eat the girl that day, you see!)
“Please, grandma, it’s only my mother’s blessing that helped me,” said Vasilisa timidly.
“WHAT? I don’t want any blessed daughters here! Blessings will hurt my very bones. Get out now!” shouted Baba Yaga.
“But grandma, the light. How can I return to my stepmother’s without the light?” asked Vasilisa. “Ha, if it’s light they want, they shall have it,” cackled Baba Yaga. And they went out to the gates, which opened at the witch’s bidding. Baba Yaga pulled out a skull head from the fence. The sockets were shining brightly. Taking a stick, she attached the skull to the top and gave it to Vasilisa.
Thanking Baba Yaga and bidding her good bye, Vasilisa made her way back home across the birch forest. It was not so difficult this time because she had the light.
The forest was silent too. When she reached home, she found the stepmother and her daughters sitting in the dark. From the day Vasilisa had been sent out into the night, there had been no light in the house as fires refused to burn.
When they saw Vasilisa with her glowing skull eyes for light, they had such a scare! “Take it away from us, you wicked girl,” shouted her stepmother for the sockets and their glow seemed to burn holes into their very souls. They tried to run away but the eyes followed them and burnt them to ashes.
The next morning Vasilisa dug a hole in the ground and buried the skull deep inside. She would go back to the village now and wait for her father.
My father will come home one day, I’m sure of it, she told herself and hugged her wooden doll gratefully.