TALES FOR MY LITTLE SOPHY
By Helena Panphylova
Before the Beginning
“I won’t go to bed,” Sophy says over and again, “I’m not sleepy.”
“Shut your eyes and keep quiet,” Granny insists.
Sophy closed her eyes waited Granny to leave the nursery, then gave a jump and began skipping and hopping about her bed. Soon she noticed it wasn’t her bed at all but a snow-covered field. The snow not being cold a bit, the girl began making a snowman. But before she finished the first ball, it started rolling away from her. Sophy rushed after it.
“Stop it immediately! Where are you going to?”
The snow ball spun around and turned out a pie puffy and light, brown and fried.
“Hi!” cried the pie. “How could you get here so high?”
Sophy looked down and got a fright: that wasn’t a field she was playing in, but a cloud high above the ground.
“How shall I get down?” Sophy thought and began crying. Her tears caused a driving rain. The girl chose a long rain thread and drove down it to a green glade. The rain stopped, the sun was shining again.
“Do you like it here?” a green grasshopper asked Sophy.
“Oh, it’s great! And most of all I like berries; they are tasty and look like my Mommy’s coral beans.”
“Then, why not string them?”
Sophy took a long blade of grass — it turned out a thread — and began stringing berries, changing into corals. Soon she had a beautiful necklace.
Sophy’d like to play more and more, but the grasshopper rubbed his eyes and said,
“Night is coming.”
And that was true: Night in her blue gown was coming, stars twinkling and jingling in her hair. Night waved her hand, the sky grew dark and a white soft cloud came down to the glade, covering everybody as a blanket and falling asleep itself.
“How very nice it is to sleep under the cloud,” Sophy thought.
Night fondly touched Sophy’s hair.
“Sleeping?” The grasshopper asked in Mommy’s voice.
“Yes, she is,” Night answered in a low voice just like Granny.
The Magic Azure
For her birthday Sophy got a lot of presents, but most of all she enjoyed slippers – her Mother’s gift. They were very nice: perky toes sticking up and fluffy bows of pink satin ribbons looked splendid. It was pleasant to look at them and much more pleasant to jump and dance with them on.
The day passed lightly. Sophy went to bed. She took her favourite toy mice Mick and Muck with her. She liked cartoons about those mischiefs and her Granny made them of some scraps. The mice didn’t look quite like their cartoon characters: it always happens so when you make toys yourselves.
Sophy wanted to take the slippers under the blanket too, but Mommy didn’t permit, and the smart newcomers were left on the carpet near Sophy’s bed. That carpet was very old. Granny’s Mother wasn’t yet born when it had been brought from hot countries. There was a rather unusual tracery on it: empty azure space in the middle and strange pieces of earth with grass and flowers, trees and birds in the corners.
It became dark and the full Moon lit the room. The slippers began to doze when a hollow senile voice said: “Get off from the carpet! Get off from the carpet, I say, or look out for trouble!”
And really, the slippers felt the carpet sagging a little under them. They quickly slipped to the edge of it and jumped onto the floor. Here they could see who was speaking to them: an old worn slipper looked from behind a wardrobe. Nobody could say how it had come to be at that place, and how long it had lain there. The wardrobe was much older than the slipper, perhaps, even older than the carpet, but it said nothing, only creaked and gave a deep sigh.
“Why shouldn’t we sleep on the carpet?”- asked the curious Left Slipper.
“Because…” – the Old Slipper had no time to answer. Sophy stirred her hand and her beloved mouse Muck fell down just into the middle of the carpet. Before they knew where they were, Muck disappeared and the blue surface closed above him.
Mick dashed about the bed.
“Muck! My dear friend! You can’t be lost forever! Can’t anybody give him help?!
“O.K, — said the Old Slipper, — let’s try! Get into me!”
Without a word Mick jumped into the Old Slipper, and slid over the carpet towards the Magic Azure. In a moment they disappeared.
Was it possible for the perky curious slippers to stay where they were? Never-never-never! They rushed after Mick and the Old Slipper and a moment later they were merrily somersaulting in the sky. Oh, yes! The Azure turned out the sky – broad and spacious sky! It was great!
“Muck, where are you? – called Mick. — We are flying!”
At last they saw Muck. The Old Slipper came nearer and soon Mick could give his friend a big hug.
How interesting it is to fly about when all the friends are together!
They looked about: in the blue sky there were flitting some isles or pieces of earth with trees, flowers, and grass on them. Beautiful birds were fluttering among them.
“What are those strange isles over there?”- asked the slippers.
“Once upon a time there was a whole earth, — the Old Slipper answered, — but some dark witchcraft interfered and it was broken into pieces”.
“Can’t anything be done to help it?”
“If somebody could join these fragments in order, they would become an earth again. But they must be drawn to each other. Alas, we haven’t got hands to do it. And mice paws are too weak to hold such big fragments”.
The slippers whispered with each other and merrily shouted, “It’s possible! Look at our ribbons: you see, they are very long! We could tie the fragments round and then carry them like a toy car along the floor! Mick and Muck will tie them round and then we’ll carry them all together!”
And they started working.
But let’s come back to Sophy’s room. Why is the Old Wardrobe sighing so anxiously? And what a strange shadow is dancing in the moonlight? This shadow is whirling like a smoke about the flat as if searching for something. Oh, you see! She is in need of a carpet beater! Having reached a blue wicker beater, the Shadow whirled and changed into a Witch!
This Witch lived in the neighbourhood and loved to play mean tricks on every one. With the carpet beater in her hands, she slunk into the nursery. Here is the carpet. She brandished the beater, but suddenly she heard an angry growl – Tappy scented the witch. Tappy was Granny’s dog and of all creatures she loved Granny. It was for Granny’s tranquility that she guarded Sophy. Every time she succeeded, Tappy slunk to the nursery and slept under Sophy’s bed.
That very evening Mom and Dad, having tidied everything after the birthday party, were so tired that didn’t control where the dog was, and she could cozily settle itself on her favourite place. Hearing the Witch, Tappy showed her teeth and growled, hair on her back stood on end.
Witches are very much afraid of dogs’ fangs. The beater fell down to the floor, the villain changed into a shadow again and flew out through the open window.
The friends were toiling hard. They tied the fragments round and pulled them together. Then matched them like puzzle-patterns, so that the parts could find each other. They pulled and pushed, pulled and pushed again and again…
At last the fragments seemed to remember what they had been formerly, and the work went on faster. A hill found its valley, a tree – its forest. Everything was put into its place. Birds sat in the trees; springs ran over the grass and didn’t make waterfalls in the sky any more.
It was so nice to rest after the labours but the Old Slipper hastened them, “Go up quickly or look out for trouble!” And up they went. On there way they picked up Granny’s spectacles and Sophy’s favourite tiny wooden doll. They had scarcely ascended when morning came.
“Granny! – Cried Sophy, — Look what has happened to my slippers! Their ribbons won’t do at all!
Granny ironed the ribbons and made new bows – better than the old ones. And in the middle of each bow she sewed a nice button. Now the slippers could not only put their noses on airs but also merrily look around with their button-eyes.
“Oh, my wooden doll is here, — skipped Sophy. – And what has happened to our carpet? Look, Granny!”
Indeed, the carpet changed totally. Now in the middle of it there was a beautiful earth with trees, flowers, and birds. And the large blue sky surrounded it.
Granny smiled. She remembered that when she was a little girl, the carpet looked just like this.
With a satisfied look she picked up her spectacles but then saw the carpet beater and frowned. She glanced under Sophy’s bed, her eyes met Tappy’s . Now she understood everything.
Sophy looked at Granny and understood nothing. It was especially strange to see Granny pushing an old worn slipper under the wardrobe. She wanted very much to ask lots of questions, but morning is not the right time for conversations: one has to do lots of work about the house. Sophy sighed and decided to wait till evening.
Joy that can’t be taken away
All day long a crow was sitting in a tree just opposite Sophy’s window. It skipped from one branch to another and stretched its neck as if trying to descry something there in the room. If somebody came up to the window the crow drew its head in and pretended to be asleep.
What could the crow see?
That day Sophy’s Father came home from some tour and brought his daughter a new doll. Sophy had never got such a beauty before. She could comb doll’s long hair and do it in any way. The doll had a smart dress. Together with her Granny, Sophy sewed it a nice new night gown and in the evening they put the doll into a doll’s bed.
Sophy went to bed with a happy smile on her face and quietly fell asleep.
The crow croaked contented and flew into their neighbour’s window.
That evening Father kept his eye to Tappy and didn’t permit it to stay in the nursery. He didn’t forget to draw the curtains either. Being hot, the window was opened and the night wind puffed the curtains up and let the moonbeam in. That time the beam wasn’t so clear as usual, one could notice some shadow in it. The shadow was rocking biding to its time.
And the moment came: Sophy laughed in her sleep. At once a hand stretched out of the shadow, passed over the girl’s face and rubbed away her smile. The light of child’s joy flickered in the fist like a fire fly. With ugly giggle the shadow – and now one could see it was the Witch –flew out of the window.
Sophy woke up and began to cry.
“Don’t cry,” the mice consoled her, “nothing has happened.”
“I’m sad,” cried Sophy.
“Just look at your new doll…”
“A new doll! So what? Then, it was yesterday that it was new.”
“You can’t console her,” the Old Slipper’s voice sounded. “The Witch has stolen her joy.”
“Oh, and will my life be joyless now?” Sophy asked. She wasn’t crying any more but was very sad.
“How very awfully,” said Muck.
“We must act,” bustled Mick, “we go there just now! We’ll give her what for! A mean coward! Stole in at night and stole the joy!”
“Well, what can we do? She’ll slam us down right on the window sill.”
“Muck is right,” the Old Slipper said, “we need somebody to steal into her room unnoticed.”
“I can help you,” a low voice came from under the wardrobe, “if Sophy isn’t afraid of me.”
“Nobody can frighten me,” Sophy replied sadly, “and who are you? Come up here!”
A little grey spider came from under the wardrobe. For a long time they had been friends with the Old Slipper. She never touched his web and they often had long friendly night talks about the life.
Some people are afraid of spiders, but Sophy loved all the living creatures so she liked the spider.
“But you are so small,” said she, “while you are crawling, morning will come and I’ll stay sad forever.”
“Of course, being alone I won’t be able to cope with it. But we could fly together with you on the Old Slipper and stop above the Witch’s window so that she couldn’t see us. Then I could go down with my web, seize your joy and quickly pull myself up, you will help me. And then – back home.”
“I wonder,” said Muck, “how is Sophy going to find room in the Old Slipper? She is too big for it.”
“Nonsense,” the Old Slipper replied, “there is not a thing in the world that a little child wouldn’t be able to find room in, especially at a moonlit night.”
Sophy sat into the Old Slipper, the spider settled comfortably on the crumpled pompon and they started. Sophy was sad. She was afraid she wouldn’t be joyful any more.
The light was twinkling in the glass placed on the table near the window. It being much fainter now, the Witch hurried. She was cooking some special potion, which had no power without child’s joy.
What did she need this potion for?
Well, have you ever seen how witches hate children’s merry-making? When children are noisily playing and have fun, a witch stamps her feet and cries that children are silly and rude. But she can’t help it. If she slaps some boy, he cries a little bit but soon again he plays and laughs joyfully.
The Witch had looked through all her books and at last she searched out a perfect recipe.
The ready potion had to be spilled about in yards and parks, then all the children would stroll joyless and bored. But the potion wouldn’t be efficacious without child’s joy, and to fetch it was the most difficult thing.
One can say it’s not difficult at all: there are lots of joyous children everywhere catch one and take his joy away. But if you were caught would you stay joyous? Of course, you wouldn’t! So, nothing could be taken away. The Witch had to resort to her device and succeeded in that guile.
The Witch poured some pounded toad paws into her potion, and then waited it to boil. And at the very moment that she intended to add child’s joy into it, she saw a little spider trying to move a lid off the glass.
“Oh, you, wicked creature!” screamed the Witch and rushed to the table. She brandished some cloth at the spider, his death seemed to be unavoidable, but the spider put his long legs together and Sophy pulled his web up. In a moment the spider was on the slipper.
“Such a pity,” said he, “I could do nothing for you.”
But for his surprise Sophy laughed and carefully stroked his back.
“Thank you, little spider,” she said happily, “I’m so glad everything has finished so well!”
You see, if you enjoy a present, it’s a small joy which can be easily taken away. And if you are glad for somebody’s sake, it’s a large joy and no witch can take it away.
When the Witch saw the light having gone out she began chasing the friends. She was just about to seize them. Sophy shut her eyes with fear and shouted, “Mommy!” She even didn’t know herself that “mommy” was the most magic word in the world. The Witch disappeared.
Sophy opened her eyes. She was in her bed. It was morning. Dad came in.
“Oh! You are already awake! Good girl!”
He began drawing the curtains apart.
Sophy threw away her blanket. The Old Slipper was there on the sheet. It was a great piece of luck that Dad did everything very carefully. While he was tidying the curtains Sophy had time to push the Old Slipper behind the wardrobe. Her father would become angry if he saw such a thing in her bed. Sophy wouldn’t be able to explain everything in a few words, and morning is not the time for long conversations.
It’s better not to offend
The doll was offended. “It was yesterday that it was new”, Sophy said. The doll was quite new indeed and thought she would be new forever. How she could know that to make acquaintance is not all you need. After that you have to learn being friends.
“Oh, Sophy meant that yesterday I was new and today nobody needs me!” thought the doll. She had too little time to make friends with other toys and she had no wish to do it – old toys seemed so homely and shabby – and now she hadn’t got anybody to complain of her offence and to talk things over.
In the morning Sophy dressed the doll, played with her, and sang her songs but the doll’s face looked sulky and displeased so she put the doll aside and set herself to other games. Tidying up her room in the evening Sophy threw the doll into the toy box with other toys, and there she stayed with her head down.
Night fell. The moon sent her beam into the room and the Witch percolated with it. She saw at once that the new doll was carelessly thrown into the toy box and realized how to benefit by this. She rushed to the doll took it and began to wail.
“Oh, you, poor thing! A day hasn’t yet passed and you are neglected!”
“Yes,” answered the doll, “they didn’t put me into my bed and I lie my head over heels!”
“We must teach them a lesson,” the witch egged her.
“Yes,” agreed the doll. She didn’t understand quite well what “teach them a lesson” meant but was pleased with the Witch’s sympathy.
“Then go with me!” said the Witch, seized the new doll, and flew out through the window.
Mick, Muck and slippers heard everything but they couldn’t impede. If they had tried to do it they could have been transmuted into lumps of mud and swept away in the morning.
Only the little spider gave a deep sigh and started crawling after the Witch.
Next morning Sophy discovered the loss. She looked for her doll under the bed and in the corners, peeped into the toy box and searched other rooms but in vain!
“Where was your doll yesterday evening?” inquired Granny.
“In the toy box.”
“In the toy box? Together with building blocks, pyramids and a top? Why not in its bed? You even didn’t change her cloths! Poor doll!”
Sophy tried to make an excuse for herself, “She was so sulky yesterday that it wasn’t interesting at all to bother with her,”
“Well, I wonder, if you are in low spirits tomorrow, we won’t put you into your bed, won’t kiss you and wish you good night?” asked Granny.
Sophy didn’t know what to answer.
All day long she puzzled over that matter but couldn’t light upon it.
Night fell. The moonbeam awoke Sophy.
“What has become of my doll?” she asked sitting up in her bed.
“The Witch has taken her,” Muck said.
“Yes,” — caught up Mick, “poor thing, nobody loves you”, so she wailed, and, you see, your doll went away with her.”
“Went away with the Witch!” Sophy threw up her hands. “Such a traitress! And I missed her so much!”
“Not a traitress at all,” a low voice came from the windowsill. It was the spider who had just crawled into the room. “I have heard and seen everything.”
“Well, I understood that you went there, and right I was!” The Old Slipper said. “Now, tell us everything, be quick, please!”
And the spider imparted them a terrible story.
It is known that a witch who wants to do harm to somebody makes a doll which looks very much alike that person. That Witch wasn’t a needle-woman, so she decided to use a new doll which looked like Sophy.
She took the doll home, smeared it with some stinking ointment, and said, “Now you are Sophy!” The doll didn’t like to be smeared, all its sympathy to the witch vanished, a strong wish to thwart appeared, and the doll cried, “No, I’m not Sophy! Not a bit! I haven’t yet got any name! I’m not Sophy!”
“Silly you are,” the Witch said, “Sophy’s offended you! She threw you into the toy box! Now you repeat after me: “I’m Sophy! I’ve got a headache!” And Silly Sophy will have got such a headache that no medicine will help! Do repeat after me: “I’m Sophy! I have a headache! My hands don’t hold my legs can’t stand!”
But the doll continued shouting, “I’m not Sophy! I’m a doll, a doll! Sophy is quite well! Sophy is healthy and strong!”
That might have been a kind man, who had made that doll.
“Now you know everything what had happened,” sighed the spider, “the Witch got mad and threw the doll out of the window. Now there it lies, all dirty, in the lawn.”
Sophy ran up to the window. Yes, the moon was shining brightly, and the doll was well seen on the mown grass.
“I’ll get it in a moment,” she said and climbed the windowsill.
“Never!” Tappy roared and seized her by the edge of her nightgown with its teeth.
“Tappy’s right, you mustn’t do that,” Muck said, “You can hurt yourself badly.
“And if we jump – that’ll be nothing,” cried Mick leaping from the bed to the sill.
“And back? How you’ll get back?” asked Muck catching him by his tail. “Do you think to call the Old Slipper? It’s impossible: there’s night dew on the grass, the Old Lady will get wet and all of us stay there! In the morning yard-keepers will sweep us away!”
“Such a pity my web isn’t strong enough” the spider said, “I’d go down, seize the doll and get back!”
“Oh, I see how we can do it!” exclaimed Sophy. “There’s some elastic in Granny’s box! Here it is! Now, we’ll tie one end around Muck and the other – around Mick. I hold tightly by the middle of it. The mice jump down to the lawn, seize the doll by her hands and jump up back to the sill, I’ll help them!”
And so they did!
They’d hardly returned into the room when the moon hid. At dark Sophy sought her bed and fell asleep.
In the morning Granny woke Sophy up and asked strictly,
“What has happened? What did you need elastic for? Where has your doll appeared from and why is it so dirty? My God! Your gown is torn badly! Explain me everything, quickly!”
“Granny,” Sophy said, “I can’t tell it in short, so many things have happened here at night!”
“Well,” Granny agreed, “let’s talk after breakfast.”
After Mom and Dad had gone to work and Sophy stayed together with Granny, they washed the doll, combed its hair. Then while Granny was sewing a new dress for the doll and patching up Sophy’s night gown, Sophy was telling her everything in succession.
“Yes,” Granny sighed, “sometimes we offend our near ones without having any intention. And the offended person can easily fall a pray to a witch. But you see your doll turned out a true friend of yours!”
“I’ll name her Trudy,” decided Sophy.
In the evening she put Trudy into its bed, tidied up all her toys and heartily kissed Mom and Dad goodnight – to make sure they weren’t offended.
Say “NO!” to the Witch
“How foolish of me it was to say to Granny the milk porridge was nasty,” Sophy thought. “It was, as usual, light and sweet with raisins and vanilla. And now I have to lie here hungry…and without any tale…”
The matter was that Sophy forgot herself in blowing soap bubbles that evening. It’s so exciting: you blow through the straw and a whole bubble garland flies out playing different colours. And at such a moment you are told to have supper and go to bed! Of course, Sophy became obstinate, “I’m not hungry! I don’t want your nasty porridge!” If Dad hadn’t been at home Mom and Granny might have tried to persuade her or offered some other food, but Daddy said, “A girl who says porridge’s nasty goes to bed without any supper!” He looked so strictly that Sophy went to the bathroom without a word.
Granny didn’t tell her a tale. Said “good night” and switched off the light. And Sophy didn’t want to beg her, only thought for herself, “How very offensive Granny is! Well, I can do without her!”
It became dark. The girl couldn’t sleep on an empty stomach and was bored greatly.
“And what if I make a tale myself?” Sophy thought, “Once upon a time there lived a girl. One day she went for a walk.” With these words she jumped out of her bed, put on her beloved slippers and began marching about the nursery. “So, on she went and on…” Sophy stopped: nothing more came to her mind. The girl intended to go back to her bed, but at that very moment a moonbeam passed through the space between the curtains, and she found herself standing on the carpet, right in the middle of the beautiful land with forests, springs, and wonderful birds. “Oh, yes,” continued Sophy, “and at last she came to the forest.”
With these words she sat down on the carpet as if it were some glade. Suddenly she felt everything around her reeling and staggering… It was not her room any more, but in a thick forest with birds flying about between the trees, with springs and red berries in soft grass.
To Sophy’s great surprise her slippers came off her feet all by themselves and began to flatter and somersault in the air laughing and chattering with the birds as if having been old friends with them.
Sophy began to pick up berries and to play on the grass. Then the biggest and most beautiful bird flew up to her. It had dark blew feathers and a nice golden cop on its head. It might be a bird queen.
“How have you got here, little girl?” asked the bird.
“I was going on and on,” answered Sophy, “and now here I am!”
“Yes, she couldn’t sleep, that’s why she began strolling about her room,” the slippers caught up.
“And why couldn’t she sleep?”
“She quarreled with her Granny, told her the porridge was nasty. Nobody gave her other porridge so she remained without any supper,” chattered the left slipper.
“And without a tale,” added the right one.
Sophy blushed with shame. It’s very unpleasant to be spoken about, especially if your friends tell your secrets to strangers.
“I won’t go back,” she said, “all of them are angry with me, I’ll stay here. It’s so nice and gay here and nobody commands.”
“No,” objected the Blue Bird, “a girl mustn’t stay here. The moon will hide soon, then all of us will change into simple pictures on the carpet and in the morning your parents won’t find you.”
“That’s great! I’m in my nursery and nobody sees my!”
“It’s great when you can dart out and cry, “Here I am!” But you’ll be only a little picture on the carpet and won’t be able to do it,” the Blue Bird said.
“It’s no good at all,” Sophy agreed, “I should return.”
“Yes!” The slippers cried and soared upwards.
Sophy tried to fly up too but couldn’t. She jumped up barefoot and with her slippers on, but all in vain: she was too heavy and the land didn’t let her go.
Sophy sat down and began crying. Now the forest seemed her dull, the grass prickly, and the birds too noisy. All the birds gathered in a flock chirping and twittering. Nobody seemed to sympathize with her in her sorrow.
Suddenly the Blue Bird flew up to Sophy.
“Don’t cry,” said the Bird, “once your friends saved us from great trouble. When our land had been broken into pieces by some dark witchcraft so that we had no place to live and to nest, they helped us, and now we are hosts of our beautiful land again. You are a good girl and a true friend – you see, we know everything about you. That’s why we’ll try to help you. Put on your slippers!”
Of course, you remember that Granny well fastened the bows on Sophy’s slippers. Now it stood them in good stead. A great number of birds took the bow-loops with their beaks, the Blue Bird let Sophy hold by its paws, and in such a way up they went all together. At last – bang! – And Sophy found herself on the carpet as if she were a ball darted out of water. All the birds stayed below and only the Blue Bird was still in the room because Sophy was holding it by its paws.
There in the room the Witch was waiting for them. She was lounging about to nose out where the girl could be. All of a sudden she saw Sophy coming to the surface with the Blue Bird in her hands! It took the Witch’s breath away: she knew the Blue Bird to be a happiness bird! If Sophy weren’t standing on the carpet the Witch would assault her at once and try to bereave the bird (though it’s well known the Blue Bird can’t live with a bad person, every witch in heart of her hearts considers herself to be a good one and dreams of possessing this marvel), but the carper protected both Sophy and the Bird.
“Give me the bird, quickly!” howled the Witch in a sinister voice. “Otherwise I’ll transmute you into a frog!”
“No! Not for the world!” Sophy said resolutely and put the Blue Bird down on the carpet. The soft surface sagged and in a moment the Blue Bird was sitting again on its branch. And Sophy stepped fearlessly towards the Witch and looked strait into her eyes.
“I’m not afraid of you!” She said.
And though having left the carpet the girl lost the magic protection, the villain could do her no harm: no witch can stand a strait and fearless gaze!
That time the moon set. The Witch flew out of the window hissing and spluttering with slobber. In darkness Sophy found her bed and fell asleep at once.
In the morning drawing the curtains apart Granny saw some slob on them. She got anxious and came up to Sophy. Her grand-daughter’s face was stained with berries and a tiny blue feather tangled in her hair. Granny glanced at the Blue Bird on the carpet and only shook her head.
Sophy opened her eyes and said,
“Granny, you are best of all! And your porridge is very tasty!”
It goes without saying that the Witch conceived hatred for Sophy! Mean and wicked people always hate those who can resist them. She couldn’t cope directly with the girl, so she decided to entrap her. The Witch bid for her time and at last it came.
Sophy couldn’t sleep. In the evening her Uncle had brought a new picture painted especially for her. He put it on the floor near the wall because a frame hadn’t yet been ready. In the picture there was a nice glade in the forest and a small house. All the evening Sophy was viewing the picture thinking who could live there in the house. And now in dark she was dreaming of running along the path to the house and finding out everything by herself.
The moon rose. Suddenly the moonbeam lighting the carpet began to skip and jump, got onto the mirror on the old wardrobe and reflected right to the picture. In a moment everything came to life there: trees rustled with leaves, birds chirped, and a merry song was heard from the house.
Sophy quickly jumped out of her bed, ran up to the picture, and stepped into the glade. But she had too little time to look around, the moonbeam died out. The girl wanted to return to her nursery but in vain. She was locked in the picture! At that moment she heard sinister laughter and saw the Witch running to the picture with her hands stretched forward to seize it.
Mary was a rag doll. Granny had sawn it when Sophy’s Mom was a little girl. When Sophy was a toddler she loved to play with the soft doll. But later Mary played a role of a muddle-headed slattern in Sophy’s games, because it could neither wink nor sit or walk. But Mary never took offence and always smiled with her embroidered mouth. Mary loved Sophy very much. Having seen the girl entrapped, she slipped down from the toy box where Sophy’d thrown her in the evening and fell just to the Witch’s feet. The villain stumbled over the doll and measured her length on the floor. Falling down she lost a little glass and it rolled to the bed. While the Witch was rising to her feet and fumbling about the floor for the glass, bright Mick had time to jump down to the floor and seize the glass first. He got a moonbeam with it and sent the reflection to the old mirror, and the picture came to life again. Sophy stepped to the nursery.
“What are you doing here?” She asked the Witch.
Having understood her crafty plan had ruined the Witch flew out of the window.
Sophy picked up her doll. The Witch’s heel had badly torn the rag body, but Mary was smiling as kindly as before. Sophy clasped the old doll to her breast and stretched her hand for Mick to stroke him. In his paw there was the Witch’s glass. It was smooth, concave, and limpid like an ice ball with a pit melted by the sun, and nobody reflected in it.
“It’s a magic glass,” the Old Slipper said.
“How do you come to know it?” asked Sophy.
“Brownie’s told me. It’s made of dew, moonlight, flower fragrance, and tears. It’s useless to look in it, but the beam reflected by it turns magic. The Witch used double reflection, it’s much stronger.”
“What for did she do it?”
“To captivate you in picture and keep at hers forever.”
“This glass – is it mine now?”
The Old Slipper waited for a while as if listening to something then said,
“No, you have to let it go. Next night the Witch will come for it. You catch the moonbeam with the glass, send the reflection into her eyes, and say a spell. Listen and remember:
“Oh, Magic Glass,
Bereave of strength!”
And the Witch will lose her strength. Then you say,
“You have helped us,
And we make you
Free at once!
Now go west or east
And at home
Rest in peace!”
Have you got it?
Sophy repeated the spell several times not to forget or confuse anything. Then asked again, “How do you come to know it?”
“You’ve already asked me this question. I say, Brownie’s told me.”
“And where is he?”
“Just here, next to me.”
Sophy looked around but saw nobody; only a small semi-transparent cloud was staying in the air near the old wardrobe. It was opalescent like pearls in Mom’s necklace.
“Are Brownies like this?” asked Sophy in surprise.
“Yes. Those are people who think up Brownie to be an old man. Of course, if he wants he can look like an old man or, for example, like a mouse. Sometimes he plays tricks on people. He can distract your attention so that you’ll be run off your legs looking for some thing which is before your eyes.”
Sophy wanted to stroke Brownie but her hand went through the cloud as if it consisted of some silky fir.
“You can’t touch him, he is different from us,” the Old Slipper said, “but I understand him, we have lived side by side for a long time. Well, the moon will hide soon. Remember! You shouldn’t look at the glass in the daytime or it can melt. It would be better to put it to my place under the wardrobe. And don’t tell anybody about it!”
Sophy put the glass under the wardrobe though it was difficult for her to part with that smooth ball and went to bed.
In the morning Sophy said to Granny, “Look, Mary is torn badly.”
“Yes,” Granny sighed, “now there is nothing for it, but throw it out.”
“Oh, no!” Sophy protested, “Let’s mend it somehow! It’s my favourite doll!”
Granny was a little bit surprised but took a needle and soon a neat patch appeared on Mary’s belly. Then they made her a new dress, a slip, and underpants. After that Mary looked much happier.
But Sophy remained thoughtful and mirthless. Firstly, all the time she repeated the spell in her mind not to forget or confuse it. Secondly, she was afraid to let out her secret, it was so difficult to keep silence while Granny looked at her so anxiously, touched her forehead, tried to amuse her. Maybe, if Mom were at home, Sophy would tell her everything, but Mom and Dad had gone on business.
At last night fell. As soon as Granny had gone out Sophy sat up in her bed. She decided not to lie for fear to oversleep. When it became quiet in the house she softly took the glass from under the wardrobe and sat down holding it tight in her fist.
The moon rose and with the moonlight the Witch flew into the room. She hoped Sophy would be asleep, and it would be easy to find the glass and take it away. But Sophy jumped to the floor, got the moonbeam with the glass, sent the reflection strait to the Witch’s eyes, and said,
“Oh, Magic Glass,
Bereave of strength!”
The Witch howled she rubbed her eyes, turned and spun about herself, and then jumped out of the window and tumbled down to the lawn. Having lost her bewitching force she couldn’t fly any more!
And Sophy recited the second part of the spell,
“You have helped us,
And we make you
Free at once!
Now go west or east
And at home
Rest in peace!”
As soon as she had said it, the glass disappeared as if evaporated.
“That’s my Sophy!” She heard Granny’s voice. “Overwhelmed the Witch!”
“Granny! Why have you come here?”
“I was anxious about you, so I wanted to make sure you haven’t got running temperature. That’s why I’ve seen everything!”
Granny folded Sophy. Having nestled up close to Granny’s warm stomach the girl felt such a relief! She gave a deep sigh and shut her eyes.
Granny put Sophy to bed, covered warmly with a blanket, and then strictly looked around. In a moment the slippers slipped under the bed, the Old Slipper whisked under and so Brownie-cloud did. Mick and Muck lay near Sophy and Mary smiled with her embroidered mouth.
The moon disappeared, Granny left the nursery and everything fell asleep.
And what happened to the Witch?
Of cause, she badly hurt herself when she fell down to the lawn. Then she looked about, found out where she was though couldn’t understand why, and went home through the door like all the common people.
Since then she couldn’t practice witchcraft any more because all the real magic books are written not with letters but with special signs, so she put them onto the upper shelf. And all the bottles with magic potions she threw away as not wanted. In short, she become a common woman – shrewish and envious, as she was formerly, but absolutely ordinary.
After the end
“Granny, dear, what happened next?” Sophy elicited.
“Nothing did,” Granny answered, “all the tales have gone; it’s high time to set to work. Don’t you see the button has come off?”
The needle started scurrying in Granny’s fingers. Sophy began exploring the needle work draw.
“Oh!” She cried suddenly. “Granny, who is there in the draw?”
“Who could it be there? Maybe some clews of woolen yarn.”
“No, Granny, they are hamsters.”
“Hamsters? Where could they come from?”
“From the field. There was thick snow and bitter frost, and some gopher ate up all their stores. Santa Claus happened to pass by and saw them freezing. He converted the hamsters into woolen clews. Now they live in your draw. They have to steal food from the kitchen. I remember you saying that sweets disappear in no time…”
“Yes, they do. And now I know for sure that tales will never disappear from our house.”