Literature / The Fire-Bird, the Horse of Power, and the Princess Vasilissa
The Fire-Bird, the Horse of Power, and the Princess Vasilissa
is a Russian Fairy Tale
collected by Alexander Afanasyev
in Narodnye russkie skazki
A Tsar had an archer serve him, who had a horse of power. One day, as he rode in the forest, he saw a marvelous feather. The horse warned him not to pick it up, but he did, anyway, figuring the tsar would reward him. What the tsar did was demand that he get him the whole bird.
On the horse's advice, he demanded a hundred sacks of maize to be spread over fields at night. At dawn, the firebird arrived to eat it, and the archer managed to catch it. When he does that, the tsar sends him to bring back Princess Vasilissa to be his bride from the very edge of the world. At the horse's advice, he asks for a silver tent with a golden roof, and victuals for the journey. He rides the horse to her land, sets up the tent, and spreads the food. Curious, the princess looks in, and the archer invites her to eat and drink. She gets drunk and falls asleep. He carries her off on the horse.
Back on the tsar's realm, she dislikes the old tsar and admires the handsome young archer. She says she will not marry without her wedding dress, still in her own country. The tsar sends the archer after it, and the archer rode the horse back to that land. On the shore, the horse waited until it could get between an enormous lobster and the sea; then it set its foot on its tail and did not let it go until it agreed to bring the wedding dress.
When he returned with the dress, the princess refused to marry the tsar until the archer was boiled in water. The horse advises him to submit, and the princess waves her hand over the water once boiling. He plunged in and came over even more beautiful than before. The tsar jumped in after, and was boiled to death. They buried him, and made the archer tsar in his place, and he married the Princess Vasilissa.Full text here
. Compare Tsarevitch Ivan, the Fire Bird and the Gray Wolf