She also gave them some cookies—there are cookies everywhere—and when the children departed she stood looking after them a long, long time.
The obedient children arrived at the forest and, oh, wonder! there stood a hut, and what a curious one! It stood on tiny hen's feet, and at the top was a rooster's head. With their shrill, childish voices they called out loud:
"Izboushka, Izboushka! turn thy back to the forest and thy front to us!"
The hut did as they commanded. The two orphans looked inside and saw the witch resting there, her head near the threshold, one foot in one corner, the other foot in another corner, and her knees quite close to the ridge pole.
"Fou, Fou, Fou!" exclaimed the witch; "I feel the Russian spirit."
The children were afraid, and stood close, very close together, but in spite of their fear they said very politely:
"Ho, grandmother, our stepmother sent us to thee to serve thee."
"All right; I am not opposed to keeping you, children. If you satisfy all my wishes I shall reward you; if not, I shall eat you up."
Without any delay the witch ordered the girl to spin the thread, and the boy, her brother, to carry water in a sieve to fill a big tub. The poor orphan girl wept at her spinning-wheel and wiped away her bitter tears. At once all around her appeared small mice squeaking and saying:
"Sweet girl, do not cry. Give us cookies and we will help thee."
The little girl willingly did so.
"Now," gratefully squeaked the mice, "go and find the black cat. He is very hungry; give him a slice of ham and he will help thee."
The girl speedily went in search of the cat and saw her brother in great distress about the tub, so many times he had filled the sieve, yet the tub was still dry. The little birds passed, flying near by, and chirped to the children:
"Kind-hearted little children, give us some crumbs and we will advise you."
The orphans gave the birds some crumbs and the grateful birds chirped again:
"Some clay and water, children dear!"
Then away they flew through the air.