WEE LITTLE HAVROSHECHKA
There are good people in the world and some who are not so good. There are also people who are shameless in their wickedness.
Wee Little Havroshechka had the bad luck to fall in with such as these. She was an orphan and these people took her in and brought her up, only to make her work till she couldn’t stand. She wove and spun and did the housework and had to answer for everyth ing.
Now the mistress of the house had three daughters. The eldest was called One-Eye, the second Two-Eyes, and the youngest Three-Eyes. The three sisters did nothing all day but sit by the gate and watch what went on in the street, while Wee Little Havroshe chka sewed, spun and wove for them and never heard a kind word in return.
Sometimes Wee Little Havroshechka would go out into the field, put her arms round the neck of her brindled cow and pour out all her sorrows to her.
«Brindled, my dear,» she would say, «they beat me and scold me, they don’t give me enough to eat, and yet they forbid me to cry. I am to have five pounds of flax spun, woven, bleached and rolled by tomorrow.»
And the cow would say in reply, «My bonny lass, you have only to climb into one of my ears and come out through the other and your work will be done for you.» And just as Brindled said, so it was. Wee Little Havroshechka would climb into one of the cow’s ears and come out through the other, and behold! there lay the cloth, all woven and bleached and rolled. Little Havroshechka would then take the rolls of cloth to her mistress, who would look at them and grunt, and put them away in a chest and give Wee Little Havroshechka even more work to do.
And Wee Little Havroshechka would go to Brindled, put her arms round her and stroke her, climb into one of her ears and come out through the other, pick up the ready cloth and take it to her mistress again.
One day the old woman called her daughter One-Eye to her and said, «My good child, my bonny child, go and see who helps the orphan with her work. Find out who spins the thread, weaves the cloth and rolls it.»
One-Eye went with Wee Little Havroshechka into the woods and she went with her into the fields, but she forgot her mother’s command and she basked in the sun and lay down on the grass. And Havroshechka murmured, «Sleep, little eye, sleep!»
One-Eye shut her eye and fell asleep. While she slept, Brindled wove, bleached and rolled the cloth. The mistress learned nothing, so she sent for her second daughter, Two-Eyes.
«My good child, my bonny child, go and see who helps the orphan with her work.»
Two-Eyes went with Wee Little Havroshechka, but she forgot her mother’s commend and she basked in the sun and lay down on the grass. And Wee Little Havroshechka murmured, «Sleep, little eye! Sleep, the other little eye!» Two-Eyes shut her eyes a nd she dozed off. While she slept, Brindled wove, bleached and rolled the cloth.
The old woman was very angry and on the third day she told her third daughter, Three-Eyes, to go with Wee Little Havroshechka, to whom she gave more work than ever. Three-Eyes played and skipped about in the sun until she was so tired that she lay down o n the grass. And Wee Little Havroshechka sang out, «Sleep, little eye! Sleep, the other little eye!»
But she forgot all about the third little eye. Two of Three-Eyes’ eyes fell asleep, but the third looked on and saw everything. It saw Wee Little Havroshechka climb into one of the cow’s ears and come out through the other and pick up the ready cloth.
Three-Eyes came home and told her mother what she had seen. The old woman was overjoyed, and on the very next day she went to her husband and said, «Go and kill the brindled cow.»
The old man was astonished and tried to reason with her. «Have you lost your wits, old woman?», he said. «The cow is a good one and still young.»
«Kill it and say no more,» the wife insisted.
There was no help for it, and the old man began to sharpen his knife. Wee Little Havroshechka found out all about it and she ran to the field and threw her arms around Brindled.
«Brindled, dearie,» she said, «they want to kill you!»
And the cow replied, «Do not grieve, my bonny lass, but do what I tell you. Take my bones, tie them up in a kerchief, bury them in the garden and water them every day. Do not eat of my flesh and never forget me.»
The old man killed the cow, and Wee Little Havroshechka did as Brindled had told her. She went hungry, but she would not touch the meat, and she buried the bones in the garden and watered them every day.
After a while an apple tree grew out of them, and a wonderful tree it was! Its apples were round and juicy, its swaying boughs were of silver, and its rustling leaves were of gold. Whoever drove by would stop to look, and whoever came near marveled.
A long time passed by and a little time. One day One-Eye, Two-Eyes and Three-Eyes were out walking in the garden. And who should chance to be riding by at the time but a young man, handsome and strong and rich and curly-haired. When he saw the juicy apples he stopped and said to the girls teasingly, «Fair maidens! Her I will marry amongst you three who brings me an apple off yonder tree.»
And off rushed the sisters to the apple tree, each trying to get ahead of the others. But the apples which had been hanging very low and seemed within easy reach now swung up high in the air above the sisters’ heads. The sisters tried to knock them down, but the leaves came down in a shower and blinded them. They tried to pluck the apples off, but the boughs caught in their braids and unplaited them. Struggle and stretch as they might, they could not reach the apples and only scratched their hands.
Then Wee Little Havroshechka walked up to the tree, and at once the boughs bent down and the apples came into her hands. She gave an apple to the handsome young stranger and he married her. From that day on she knew no sorrow, and she and her husband lived happily ever after.
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