The Nickerman's Wife: The Story of Lidushka and the Imprisoned Doves
There was once a young housewife named Lidushka. One day while she was washing clothes in the river a great frog, all bloated and ugly, swam up to her. Lidushka jumped back in fright. The frog spread itself out on the water, just where Lidushka had been rinsing her clothes, and sat there working its jaws as if it wanted to say something.
"Shoo!" Lidushka cried, but the frog stayed where it was and kept on working its jaws.
"You ugly old bloated thing! What do you want and why do you sit there gaping at me?"
Lidushka struck at the frog with a piece of linen to drive it off so that she could go on with her work. The frog dived, came up at another place, and at once swam back to Lidushka.
Lidushka tried again and again to drive it away. Each time she struck at it, the frog dived, came up at another place, and then swam back. At last Lidushka lost all patience.
"Go away, you old fat thing!" she screamed. "I have to finish my wash! Go away, I tell you, and when your babies come I'll be their godmother! Do you hear?"
As if it accepted this as a promise, the frog croaked: "All right! All right! All right!" and swam off.
Some time after this, when Lidushka was again doing her washing at the river, the same old frog appeared not looking now so fat and bloated.
"Come! Come, my dear!" it croaked. "You remember your promise! You said you'd be godmother to my babies. You must come with me now for we're having the christening today."
Lidushka, of course, had spoken jokingly, but even so a promise is a promise and must not be broken.
"But, you foolish frog," she said, "how can I be godmother to your babies? I can't go down in the water."
"Yes, you can!" the old frog croaked. "Come on! Come on! Come with me!"
It began swimming upstream and Lidushka followed, walking along the shore and feeling every moment more frightened.
The old frog swam on until it reached the mill-dam. Then it said to Lidushka:
"Now, my dear, don't be afraid! Don't be afraid! Just lift that stone in front of you.