Father Frost

FATHER FROST story is a Russian fairy tale called Morozco, adopted in Andrew Lang’s yellow fairy book as the story of king frost illustrated by Ivan Billabin’s 1932 Note.


There was once upon a time a peasant woman who had a daughter and a step-

daughter, the daughter had her own way and everything, and whatever she did was

right in her mother’s eyes, but the poor step-daughter had a hard time letting her do

what she would, and she was always blamed and got small thanks for all the trouble

she took, nothing was right, everything wrong, and yet if the truth were known, the girl

was worth her weight in gold; she was so unselfish and good-hearted, but her

stepmother did not like her, and the poor girl’s days were spent weeping for

it was impossible to live peacefully with the woman.

The wicked shrew was determined to get rid of the girl by fair means or foul

and kept saying to her father,

“Send her away, old man, send her away anywhere so that my eyes shouldn’t be plagued any longer by the side of her or my ears tormented by the sound of her voice; send her out into the fields and let the cutting frost do for her in vain,”

did the poor old father weep and implore her pity?! She was firm, and he dared not

gainsay her, so he placed his daughter in a sled, not even daring to give her

a hoarse cloth to keep herself warm with and drove her out onto the bare open fields

where he kissed her and left her, driving home as fast as he could that he might not

witness her miserable death.

Deserted by her father, the poor girl sat down under a fur tree at the edge

of the forest and began to weep silently; suddenly, she heard a faint sound; it was

king frost springing from tree to tree and cracking his fingers as he went at length

he reached the third tree beneath which she was sitting and, with a crisp crackling

sound he alighted beside her and looked at her lovely face,

“Well, maiden,” he snapped out, “do you know who I am? I am king frost, king of the red noses”,

“all hail to you, great king,” answered the girl in a gentle trembling voice. “Have you come to take me?”,

“Are you warm, maiden?” he replied,

“quite warm, king frost,” she answered though she shivered as she spoke

then king frost stooped down and bent over the girl, and the crackling sound grew

louder, and the air seemed to be full of knives and darts, and again he asked

“maiden, are you warm? are you warm, you beautiful girl?”,

and though her breath was almost frozen on her lips, she whispered gently, “Quite warm, king frost,”

then king frost gnashed his teeth and cracked his fingers, and his eyes sparkled

and the crackling crisp sound was louder than ever, and for the last time,

he asked her

“maiden, are you still warm? are you still warm, little love?!”,

and the poor girl was so stiff and numb that she could gasp, “Still warm, oh king,”

now her gentle, courteous words and her uncomplaining ways touched king frost

and he had pity on her, and he wrapped her up in furs and covered her with blankets

and he fetched a great box in which were beautiful jewels and a rich robe

embroidered in gold and silver, and she put it on and looked more lovely than ever

and king frost stepped with her into his sled with six white horses,

in the meantime, the wicked stepmother was waiting at home for the news

of the girl’s death and preparing pancakes for the funeral feast, and she said

to her husband, “Old man, you had better go out into the fields and find

your daughter’s body and bury her just as the old man was leaving the house

the little dog under the table began to bark, saying, “Your daughter shall live to be your delight, and her daughter shall die this very night,”

“hold your tongue, you foolish beast,” scolded the woman. “There’s a pancake for you, but you must say her daughter shall have much silver and gold; his daughter is frozen quite stiff and cold,”

but the doggy ate up the pancake and barked, saying, “his daughter shall wear a crown on her head; her daughter shall die on rude unwed,”

then the old woman tried to coax the doggy with more pancakes and to terrify it

with blows, but he barked on, always repeating the same words, and suddenly, the door

creaked and flew open, and a great heavy chest was pushed in, and behind it came

the step-daughter and beautiful in a dress all glittering with silver and gold,

for a moment, the stepmother’s eyes were dazzled then she called to her husband

old man, get horses at once into the sled and take my daughter to the same field

and leave her in the same spot exactly and so the old man took a girl and left her

beneath the same tree where he had parted from his daughter in a few minutes.

King Frost came past and, looking at the girl, he said, “Are you warm maiden?”,

“What a blind old fool you must be to ask such a question!” she answered angrily. “Can’t you see that my hands and feet are nearly frozen?!,

then king frost sprang to the info in front of her questioning her and getting only rude

rough words in reply till, at last, he got very angry and cracked his fingers and gnashed

his teeth and froze her to death, but in the hut, her mother was waiting for her return

and as she grew impatient, she said to her husband, “Get out the horses, old man, to go and fetch her home, but see that you are careful not to upset the sled and lose the chest,”

but the doggy beneath the table began to bark, saying, “Your daughter is frozen quite stiff and cold and shall never have a chest full of gold,”

“Don’t tell such wicked lies,” scolded the woman. “There’s a cake for you now; say her daughter shall marry a mighty king,”

at that moment, the door flew open, and she rushed out to meet her daughter;

as she took her frozen body in her arms, she, too, was chilled to death.

The End.