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Main > Russia folktales > Fairy tale "The Christening in the Village"

The Christening in the Village


"What bygones?" said Vanya.

Old Peter watched the crane's slow, steady flight above the low marshy ground on either side of the stream, and then he said,—

"Why, surely you know all about that. It is an old story, little one, and I must have told it you a dozen times."

"No, never, grandfather," said Maroosia. She was nearly as sleepy as Vanya after the day in the village, and the fuss and pleasure of the christening.

"Oh, well," said old Peter; and he told the tale of Mr. Crane and Miss Heron as the cart bumped slowly along the rough road, while Vanya and Maroosia looked out with sleepy eyes from their nest of hay and listened, and the sky turned green, and the trees grew dim, and the frogs croaked in the ditches.

Mr. Crane and Miss Heron lived in a marsh five miles across from end to end. They lived there, and fed on the frogs which they caught in their long bills, and held up in the air for a moment, and then swallowed, standing on one leg. The marsh was always damp, and there were always plenty of frogs, and life went well for them, except that they saw very little company. They had no one to pass the time of day with. For Mr. Crane had built his little hut on one side of the marsh, and Miss Heron had built hers on the other.

So it came into the head of Mr. Crane that it was dull work living alone. If only I were married, he thought, there would be two of us to drink our tea beside the samovar at night, and I should not spend my evenings in melancholy, thinking only of frogs. I will go to see Miss Heron, and I will offer to marry her.

So off he flew to the other side of the marsh, flap, flap, with his legs hanging out behind, just as we saw him to-night. He came to the other side of the marsh, and flew down to the hut of Miss Heron. He tapped on the door with his long beak.

"Is Miss Heron at home?"

"At home," said Miss Heron.

"Will you marry me?" said Mr. Crane.

"Of course I won't," said Miss Heron; "your legs are long and ill-shaped, and your coat is short, and you fly awkwardly, and you are not even rich.

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