The Nickerman's Wife: The Story of Lidushka and the Imprisoned Doves
The dove, happy at being released, shook out its plumage, spread its wings, and flew away.
Lidushka lifted a second pot and under it there was another lovely dove which at once spread its fluttering wings and flew off as happy as its fellow.
Lidushka lifted up a third pot and there was a third dove.
"There must be doves under all these pots!" she told herself. "What cruel creature has imprisoned them, I wonder? As the dear God has given man a soul to live forever, so He has given the birds wings to fly, and He never intended them to be imprisoned under dark pots. Wait, dear doves, and I'll set you all free!"
So Lidushka lifted pot after pot and from under every one of them an imprisoned dove escaped and flew joyously away.
Just as she had lifted the last pot, the old frog came hopping in to her in great excitement.
"Oh, my dear, my dear!" she croaked. "What have you done setting free all those souls! Quick and get you a lump of dry earth or a piece of toasted bread or my husband will catch you and take your soul! Here he comes now!"
Lidushka looked up through the crystal walls of the house but could see no one coming. Then in the distance she saw some beautiful bright red streamers floating towards her on the top of the water. They came nearer and nearer.
"Oh!" she thought to herself in sudden fright. "Those must be the red streamers of a nickerman!"
Instantly she remembered the stories her grandmother used to tell her when she was a child, how the wicked nickerman lured people to their death with bright red streamers. Many an innocent maid, haying along the river, has seen the lovely streamers in the water and reached after them with her rake. That is what the nickerman wants her to do for then he can catch her and drag her down, down, down, under the water where he drowns her and takes her soul. The nickerman is so powerful that, if once he gets you, he can drown you in a teaspoon of water! But if you clutch in your hand a clod of dry earth or a piece of toasted bread, then he is powerless to harm you.