Liberation :

There lived a Czar in a village. He had three sons. He wanted his sons to be married to beautiful and well mannered girls. But finding such girls was no easy.

One day, Czar called his sons and asked, ‘What kind of girls do you want to marry?'

“We shall marry whatever kind of girls you will choose for us," the sons obediently said.

The reply of the sons pleased their father, Czar. He made a plan in his mind and spoke 'I give you one arrow each. Go to the ground you see there in front of us. Shoot the arrows in different directions. On whichever home your arrows fall, you shall marry the daughter of that home respectively.”

The three sons agreed. They shot their arrows in different directions. The eldest son's arrow fell in the courtyard of a merchant's house. When Czar and the son reached there they found the daughter of the merchant standing in the courtyard with the arrow in her hand. Czar married his eldest son with that girl.

The second son's arrow fell on a fisherman's house. So, he got married to the fisherman s daughter.

The youngest son, Andrei's arrow had flown towards the jungle. Czar and Andrei went to the jungle looking for the arrow. There at one place, they found a cow frog crouching on the bank of a pond with the arrow in its mouth. Now the question was whom should Andrei marry?

Andrei took the arrow from the frog's mouth and the father and the son prepared to depart. Suddenly the cow frog spoke in human girl's voice, 'Won't you marry me?'

The girl’s voice greatly surprised Czar. He decided that Andrei should marry the cow frog. And they got married. The elder brothers were happy with their wives. But poor Andrei would sit sadly in his room with the frog. The cow frog would say, ‘Don't be sad, dear… You were fated to marry me. And It happened Simple."

Andrei would go to sleep with a long sigh. Thus the time passed on. One day Czar said to his sons, ‘I want to test my daughters-in-law. Each of them will have to tailor a shirt for me and the shirt must be ready by tomorrow morning."

The elder brothers made fun of Andrei. All three retired to their room with their respective wives. The elder brothers got busy in helping their wives prepare the shirts. But Andrei sat in the corner of his room in a sad mood. Seeing him sad the cow frog said, "Why are you so sad? Stop worrying and go to bed.'

Andrei turned his face to other side and went to sleep. The cow frog took off her frog skin and transformed into a beautiful princess, Tanya. She called her maids and got a pretty shirt stitched. Then, she again put on the frog skin and went to bed as a frog.

In the morning when Andrei got up he found a beautiful shirt placed on the side of his bed. The shirt was silken and it was beautifully embroidered. He folded the shirt and went to his father. The elder brothers were already there.

Czar examined all the shirts and remarked, "The shirt brought by the eldest is fit for the servants only. The second one's can serve as bed shirt. But Andrei s shirt is really wonderful. But tell us Andrei, who tailored the shirt?'

Andrei told them the story but his father and the brothers would not believe it. They thought that Andrei was telling a lie. They suspected that he had bought the shirt from the market to save his wife from shame or the cow frog was some sorceress.

A few days hence Czar again decided to test the wives of his sons. He said to his sons that the next day he would eat the cookings of their wives. The first daughter-in-law cooked food was to be taken in the morning. The second one's at noon and the third one's at night. Czar's order amused the elder sons and they went to their rooms laughing Andrei went to his room sadly. The elder wives got busy in preparing for the dishes. At the same time, they kept an eye on cow frog to see how it would cook food.

The cow frog knew about it. She made her husband go to bed. Then, it kneaded the flour, put it on very slow burning stove and went to sleep. The elder wives also did the same and went to bed.

Shortly after that, cow frog turned into Tanya and with the help of maids made all preparations for the next day’s meal. Then she went to bed as a frog.

Czar tasted the food prepared by the eldest daughter-in-law in the morning. It was too hard even to chew. He left the food uneaten.

The same thing happened at the noon meal. The food was not fit even for the animals.

The evening came and the night fell. The hungry Czar came to the dinner table. Andrei saw that the table had already been laid and delicious smells rose from the bowls. Andrei served the helpings to his father and himself. The food was finger licking tasty. They didn't know how the food got cooked. They could just relish and admire.

Czar’s birthday fell on the very next week. Entire town was invited to dinner. Czar wanted to introduce his daughters-in-law to the people on that occasion A big feast was organized.

The guests arrived at the right time The elder brothers came to the feast with their wives. Andrei sat sadly. He said to the cow frog. "I don't know how I shall introduce you to the people?"

The cow frog said, "You go I will come after getting ready. You won't be able to recognise me."

Andrei asked in surprise, “Then how shall I spot you?''

“I will come and hold your hand,” the cow frog spoke.

Andrei reached the dining hall a little puzzled. Meanwhile, Czar announced, ‘Friends! Today I shall introduce my three daughters-in-law to you.'

He called the elder sons and their wives and presented them to the guests. Andrei was getting worried. Just then a horse coach arrived at the door. It had silver wings and was studded with gems. Six horses pulled it. And a beauty like a fairy Tanya alighted from it drawing everyone's eyes.

Tanya came and she held the hand of Andrei. The hall echoed with the sound of hand clapping. Now Czar presented Tanya to guests as his youngest daughter-in-law.

Andrei’s joy knew no bounds. He slipped from there and ran to his room and burnt down the cow frog skin. Then he quietly returned.

After the feast the guests departed. When the sons were about to depart with their wives to their rooms, Czar looked at Tanya questioningly.

Tanya explained, ‘Father-in-law' I was transformed into a cow frog as a result of a curse. The curse was to be lifted when someone destroyed my frog skin. Your clever son Andrei did that without being told. I am lucky to have a husband like him.”

Thereafter the family lived happily.

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