Originally posted on Life in Russia
Many years ago, in a certain village lived an old couple, who had just one daughter, named Vassilisa. They lived in quite a small cottage, but they were comfortably off. Yet trouble came to them too, for the mother fell ill, and she realised that she was near to death. So she called her daughter to her, and gave her a small doll.
“Listen, my dear daughter,” she said. “Take great care of this little doll, and never let anyone else see it. If you ever get into trouble, give her something to eat and ask her advice. She will eat the food and will help you in your trouble.”
She gave Vassilisa a last kiss, and soon after she died. Although the old man mourned the loss of his wife, after some time he married again, thinking he would find his daughter a second mother. But all he gave her was an unkind stepmother. The new wife had two daughters of her own, who were stupid and fussy, and not at all good-natured. Their mother was very fond of them, but she made Vassilisa’s life a misery. She was always scolding her, treating her unkindly, working her hard. And her daughters were just as bad.
They did their best to make her look thin by overworking her, and to spoil her good looks by exposing her to the sun and the wind. All day the girl heard nothing but: “Get on with cooking the dinner, Vassilisa! It is time you swept out the home. Fetch some firewood, the fire is going out. Have you milked the cows yet? Do not stand there doing nothing, get a move on. You must work faster.”
Vassilisa was very willing, she did everything they asked, was always trying to please them, and managed to…