The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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Baba Yaga Giving the Burning Skull

The girl stands there watching me, dumb as a post. I command her. “Speak to me!”

“I’d like to ask you something,” she says.

“Fine. Go ahead, but not every question has a good answer. If you know too much you will soon grow old.”

She asks about my horsemen. I tell her they are my faithful servants. My bright day, my red sun, my dark night. “What else?” I want to know. “You’ve asked me about what is outside, not inside. Mind you, I do not like to have my dirty linen washed in public. So I will ask you something. How do you manage to do the work I set out for you?”

“I am helped by the blessing of my mother,” she says.

“Blessings! There will be no blessings in my house!” I drag her out and push her through the gate. Then I grab a skull with burning eyes from the fence, and stick it on a spike. “Here’s the light you came for. Give it to your stepsisters.”

Baba Yaga Giving the Burning Skull in Vasilisa the Beautiful, Russian Fairy Tales (Afanas’ev). Illustration by Adirenne Segur.

Baba Yaga Giving the Burning Skull