The Wood Maiden: The Story of Betushka and the Golden Birch Leaves
But they are often kind to little girls and sometimes make them rich presents. Why didn’t you tell me? If I hadn’t grumbled, I could have had yarn enough to fill the house!”
Betushka thought of the little basket and wondered if there might be something under the leaves. She took out the spindle and unspun flax and looked in once more.
“Mother!” she cried. “Come here and see!”
Her mother looked and clapped her hands. The birch leaves were all turned to gold!
Betushka reproached herself bitterly: “She told me not to look inside until I got home, but I didn’t obey.”
“It’s lucky you didn’t empty the whole basket,” her mother said.
The next morning she herself went to look for the handful of leaves that Betushka had thrown away. She found them still lying in the road but they were only birch leaves.
But the riches which Betushka brought home were enough. Her mother bought a farm with fields and cattle. Betushka had pretty clothes and no longer had to pasture goats.
But no matter what she did, no matter how cheerful and happy she was, still nothing ever again gave her quite so much pleasure as the dance with the wood maiden. She often went to the birch wood in the hope of seeing the maiden again. But she never did.