The Three Sisters

Many years ago, in a far-off land, there lived three sisters. They lived in a little country cottage by themselves, and since there was very little work for them to do, they spent most of their time idly daydreaming.

One day, when they were sitting in their garden, they talked about what it would be like to be married to the Czar, the ruler of their land.

“If I were married to him,” said the first sister, who was short and plump, “I would spend all my time cooking him delicious meals.”

“Eating is all that you ever think about,” the second sister snapped, for she was tall and thin. “Now, if I married the Czar, I would spend all day at my loom, waving the finest cloths and tapestries for him.”

“What would you do, little sister?” they asked the other girl.

The third sister was a slender, fair-haired girl, and the other two did not like her because she was so much prettier than they were.

“I would bear him a son.” she replied, “and he would be a hero.”

It so happened that the Czar chanced to pass by at that moment. He liked the idea of a hero for a son, and seeing what an attractive young girl she was, he asked her to become his wife.

“Your sisters may come to Court too,” the Czar told her. “They can be cooks and Court weavers.”

The two elder sisters were wild with rage and did their best to find some way of getting their own back on their sister, now the Empress.

However, soon afterwards, the Czar had to leave for the wars, and it pleased them considerably to see their sister so sad and mournful as she awaited his return, but their new-found happiness turned to rage once more when she gave birth to the Czar’s son. She decided to call him Hero.

It is impossible to describe the wild fury of the elder sisters; in their rage, they sent a cruel message to the Czar, telling him that the Empress had given birth to a son who was crippled.

This news saddened the Czar, and he ordered the Empress and her son to be banished from his Kingdom.

The wicked sisters, however, were not content with this. They told the Czar’s ministers that the Empress and her baby would be shut up in a barrel and thrown into the sea.

The order was carried out, and the Empress was left helplessly floating in the sea, sealed up in the barrel with her child.

Then, as though by a miracle, the son grew bigger and bigger until he became a strong and courageous young man. With one blow, he knocked the top from the barrel and managed to guide it towards the shore; but it was not the land they had left. It was a desért island.

The ex-Empress was sad and somewhat frightened, but Hero did not lose hope.

“I will make a bow, mother”, he told her, “and carve some long and pointed stones for arrows. We will be able to live on what I hunt.”

“We cannot do that forever,” his mother replied,” Who would ever find us on such a lonely island?”

One day, when Hero was out with his bow and arrows, he spotted a swan swimming near the shore, anxiously flapping its wings as if frightened. Then, circling high in the sky, he saw a vulture hovering above the helpless swan. Quickly, Hero let an arrow fly, bringing the vulture crashing into the sea.

“Thank you,” said the swan and Hero just stared. Indeed it had not been the swan speaking?

“I said ‘thank you’,” the swan repeated. “You see, I am no ordinary swan. I am a magic swan. You saved my life with the swiftness of your bow. If you had not been there, I would have been killed by the vulture.”

“I know about the trouble that has been brought upon your mother and yourself, and as you helped me, I will help you. Go back, find your mother, and tell her to lie and sleep. You must do the same. When you awake, things will be different.”

Hero went back and told his mother all that had happened to him.

“It cannot do any harm,” she said when he told her what the swan had said, “although I do not expect it to do much good, either.”

Hero and his mother lay down on the shore and fell asleep. They slept for many hours and could scarcely believe their eyes when they awoke. There, stretched before them, was a marvellous city of white marble and gold. In its midst stood the Royal court.

As they looked at it, an older man approached them.

“We have been expecting you,” ” he said, bowed very low.

“Expecting us?” asked Hero in surprise. “Why, we did not even know we were coming ourselves.”

“That is right,” his mother nodded. “I was the Empress of a far-off land, but because of a wicked plot by my two jealous sisters, my baby son and I were sealed up in a barrel and cast into the sea.”

“Eventually,” went on Hero, “I grew strong enough to break the top of the barrel, and we drifted ashore onto a desert island. There we have lived for many months. How could you possibly be expecting us?”

“You are to become King of this city, indeed of this whole, wonderful island,” replied the old man. “We knew of your troubles, and we watched over you to see that you came to no harm.”

At these words, a whole host of soldiers, artisans, nobles, women and children came run- ning towards them.

“Our king, our king!” one cried.

“Welcome, sire, a thousand times!” shouted a second.

“May you rule over us wisely for many long years,” another said.

Then, they all began to chant “Long Live the King,” “Long Live the King,” and they picked him up and carried him triumphantly to the fine Royal palace, where the rich coronation feast awaited them.

Hero was officially made their King, and his mother, the ex- Empress, became the Queen- Mother they both lived happily at Court for the rest of their days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *