The Wicked Sisters

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The Wicked Sisters is a Russian fairy tale collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki.

Ruth Manning-Sanders included it, as "The Queen's Children", in A Book of Kings and Queens.


Prince Ivan hears three beautiful sisters talking. The older two say that if he married them, they would sew him a marvelous shirt; the youngest says she would bear him three sons with the sun on the forehead, the moon on the back of their heads, and stars to each side. The older sisters envied her and bribed her servants; when she bore the sons she had said, they stole them and hid them an arbor in the garden; then they presented the prince with first a puppy, then a kitten, then an ordinary child. The prince finally repudiated and demanded justice for her deceiving him. The chief justice decreed she should be blinded, put in a barrel with the ordinary child, and thrown out to sea; if she were guilty, she would die, but if she were innocent, she would emerge. This was done, and Prince Ivan married her oldest sister.

The substituted child grew by the hour, became reasonable, and commanded the barrel to come ashore and burst, then commanded a bathhouse to appear, in which he restored the princess's sight, and then a palace to appear. The arbor from the palace was in it. He had the princess bake three cakes. The three princes appeared and said that whoever brought them those cakes and told them of their mother would be their brother. The princess lived there with her sons and the child. One day they gave hospitality to monks, who went on to Prince Ivan's kingdom and told him of them. He immediately went to the palace and knew them for his wife and sons.

The oldest sister was thrown into the sea, and this time the barrel sank.

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