Once on a hot day Mom and Miloyar went to the edge of the village to get some drinking water. The river, which gave water to the whole village, streamed merrily. People used to call it the Crybaby River, but why precisely it was called so no one could remember. Even the grey-headed grandfather Piyun surmised: «Either the water in it is as pure and clear as a baby’s tear, or the girls often came here to cry». After filling up the buckets with water they sat in the shade of a birch tree to rest. After some time awoman with a cask came out of the forest and went to the river. It was Saina. There were many rumors about her. But one was known exactly: she was a wicked witch. Previously she had lived in the village with others, but then moved to the forest house. The old Piyun said: «It’s either demons that have possessed her, or she has found a magic bell which turned her into a witch». She lived alone as an owl, but knew Meelo-Liza’s family quite well. Not only knew, but also envied them. She was consumed by jealousy of their warm family happiness. She secretly wanted to have a baby, but it was not her destiny.
The witch came up to the mother and her son and greeted them: «Look, you have two children, but I do not have any. You are able to give birth to more of those little things! Give me your Miloyar at least for several days». At first Mom was surprised at that, but when she saw how Saina regarded her son, she became scared and replied: «No, do not even think about it!» The witch gave her an evil look and said: «As you wish…» - and filled her cask with water. Mom hurried to take Miloyar home. A young girl was watching all this from the forest. It was Angelina, Ash-Druid’s daughter, who lived in the forest village of Druids. Suddenly Saina came up to a birch tree under which the mother and her child had rested. She embraced the birch and whispered something to it. The witch stocked a needle in the trunk for several times. Angelina caught her breath. She understood everything. The branches of the tree went limp; the leaves yellowed and fell to the ground.
Mom with her son came home, and suddenly she felt sick and went to bed. Meelo-Liza ran to the other side of the village. Granny
Martha lived there. The villagers also considered Martha a witch. But she was a good one and helped those who got in trouble. On the way there the girl met Angelina. Angelina told her everything she had seen on the riverside. Meelo-Liza came to Martha with tears in her eyes. This is what granny Martha said: «Angelina is right that Saina had put an evil curse on the family and thy mother now faces a deadly threat. However, she can be saved. And only you can make it, darling! Listen carefully and do as I tell you. Three days in a row take an egg from the laying hens, and put it at night under the pillow of your mother. She mustn’t know about it. And be careful not to break the egg! At sunrise take back the egg, find a secluded place of the garden and dig a small hole. Break the egg and throw its contents into the hole and fill it up. Do this for three days. Don’t say a word to anyone! And don’t tell anybody about the contents of the eggs! And one more thing. On the first day you must take the egg from the spotted hen, on the second day from the black hen, and on the third - from the white hen. Then return to me». Martha stroked the girl on the head and said: «Now go and don’t be scared! Day comes from the darkness, breeze comes from the grass!» Meelo-Liza thanked granny and promised to carry out her instructions.
On that day before bedtime she came to the roost, found a spotted hen there and asked her: «Spotted hen, please, give me one of your eggs!» - «For you, baby, I do not mind it! Take one!» - answered the hen. Meelo-Liza took a still warm egg and came into the room where her mother slept. She kissed her, and quietly put the egg under her pillow. As soon as the dawn came, the girl put her hand under the pillow, but pulled it away immediately. Meelo-Liza was scared: the egg was as hot as if it had just come out of boiling water! She wrapped it in a scarf and went into the garden. Finding a quiet place, she dug out a small hole and broke the egg. It appeared to be hard boiled! Moreover, the egg white was yellow, and the yolk was white! It was as if they had changed places. The girl was very surprised; she threw the egg into the hole and buried it. She told nobody about it.
On that day Mom felt better, and was even able to work a bit around the house. The day passed as usual, and children helped their mother. Before going to bed Meelo-Liza came to the roost again to find the black hen, and asked an egg from her. Then she put it under the pillow imperceptibly. At the dawn the girl carefully put her hand under the pillow and tried to find the egg. It was not hot but ordinary, and a bit tepid. Meelo-Liza secretly went to the same place in the garden and broke the egg. A thick black liquid run out from of it. Liza buried the pit and returned to the house. «What a wonder!» - she said to herself. Meelo-Liza wanted to go and see Martha, but she remembered: three days she must do the same! On that day Mom had obviously gone on the mend! She had already been able to do some work in the garden. After lunch Angelina came to visit her. When Meelo-Liza was seeing her out, Angelina told her: «This morning I met Saina. She had a sickly look. She could hardly move her feet! And it seems she was coming back from the Valley of Ancestors! But the entrance there is denied even to us Druids! No one there can find the trail back! However, it’s not a barrier for Saina. I seem to understand why she went there. Only there she can find the root of life – the Criss-Cross!» After seeing Angelona out to the village, Meelo-Liza met the old Piyun on her way home. He was full of sorrow and said that his son Sluyan had not returned from hunting. He must have come back three days ago. Piyun wanted to consult with granny Martha.
By evening Meelo-Liza again came to the roost. She looked for a white hen for a long time and finally found her. Same as the past few days, on that last night she put the egg under the pillow of her mother. In the morning the girl did everything the same way. When she broke the last egg, absolutely pure water ran out of it... as if it was from Crybaby River! Of course, Meelo-Liza was very surprised for the third time, but she had to keep quiet about it. Having filled up the hole, she ran to granny Martha and told her in details everything that happened during those three days. Martha listened carefully to her. This is what Grandmother Martha finally said: «Now, your mother is quite well! The contents of the first egg tell me that the damage was transferred to the person who brought it to your mother. The second egg suggests that the disease was gone from your mother, and the third - that she is perfectly healthy and her soul is pure as the clearest water! Saina, thanks to her sorcerer charms and the root of Criss-Cross remained alive, although very sick!» Happy Meelo-Liza thanked granny and hurried home. Mother met her daughter with a smile on her face and no trace of any disease.
© Copyright: Konstantin Dmitriev, 2008
Translated into English: Maria Lyukish, 2012
Illustrations by Anastasia Soloviova