In Russia, a peasant lived with his wife and two children who were twins. One day his wife died and he mourned for him for a long time. Thinking that his house will be better if he had another wife, he married again.
The stepmother was an envious woman, and she was jealous of her stepson and stepdaughter. One day, a wicked thought entered in her mind- to rid them all together. The wicked thought grew within her and she determined to send the children to the wicked witch, thinking sure enough that they’ll never return.
“Dear children,” she said , “go to my grandmother who lives in the forest in a hut on hen’s feet. You will do everything she wants you to, and she will give you sweet things to eat and you will be happy.”
The children went, not to the witch, but to their good grandmother.
“Oh, my poor darlings!, my heart aches for you, but it is not in my power to help you. You have to go not to a loving grandmother, but to a wicked witch. Now listen to me, my darlings,” she continued; “I will give you a hint: Be kind and good to every one; do not speak ill words to any one; do not despise helping the weakest, and always hope that for you, too, there will be the needed help.” She gave the children delicious fresh milk, cookies and a big slice of ham to each.
The obedient children arrived went and arrived at the hut. When the hut opened, they saw the witch who was named Baba Yaga rested there, and they were afraid. Yet they said politely: “Ho, grandmother, our stepmother sent us to thee to serve thee.”
“All right; I am not opposed to keeping you, children. If you satisfy all my wishes I shall reward you; if not, I shall eat you up.”
Without any delay she set the sister to spin the thread and the brother to carry water in a sieve to fill a big tub. The poor orphan girl wept her spinning-wheel and wiped away her tears. At once all around her appeared small mice squeaking and saying:
“Sweet girl, do not cry. Give us cookies and we will help thee.” And she did. The mice advised her to find the cat. While on her way to find the cat she passed by her brother, who was struggling to fill the sieve. So many times he had filled the sieve but the tub was still dry. Then, little birds chirped:
“Kind-hearted little children, give us some crumbs and we will advise you.” And they did. Then the birds advised them to use clay and water, which they followed, and the tub got filled instantly.
On their way in they met the cat and generously gave it food.
“Dear Kitty-cat, black and pretty, tell us what to do in order to get away from thy mistress, the witch?”
“Well, I will give you a towel and a comb and then you must run away. When you hear the witch running after you, drop the towel behind your back and a large river will appear in place of the towel. If you hear her once more, throw down the comb and in place of the comb there will appear a dark wood. This wood will protect you from the wicked witch, my mistress.”
Then the orphan went to bed- a straw bed on a very cold corner of the house. The next morning the witch came and ordered the sister to weave all linen and the brother to get a large supply of firewood from the forest.
When she had gone, the children took the towel and the comb and ran away. When the dogs chased them, they gave them cookies. They smoothed the gates with oil. When the birch tree tried to scratch their eyes, the children gave it ribbon.
Baba Yaga came home to find the children gone.
“Where are the children? Why hast thou all let them go?
The cat answered: “Well, it was because I have served you so many years and you have never given me a bite, while the dear children gave me some good ham.”
“Well,” barked the dogs, “you certainly art our mistress, but you have never done us a favor, and the orphans were kind to us.”
The gates replied: “We were always ready to obey you, but you neglect us, and the dear children smoothed us with oil.”
In a hurry, Baba Yaga set off in her broom to find the children, forgetting about her towel and comb. When the children heard her, they threw the towel and a wide and blue river appeared.
Baba Yaga crossed the river. Upon hearing her again, the twins threw down the comb, and a forest appeared- so dark, dusky and intertwined. She never passed the forest and returned home very very angry.
The children ran and rushed to their father, where they told him of all their troubles in great distress. The father, realizing what an evil deed the stepmother had done, sent her away and lived a new and good life with his good children.