Baba Yaga is a hideous old crone that has tusks for teeth and when she is hungry she gnaws through a tree trunk. Her skin is greenish, and her clothes and hair are bright red. She flies through the air not on a broom but rather in a magic mortar, with a pestle as her oar. She sweeps away her wake with a broom as she sings in a raspy voice:
Mortar, pestle time to fly
Lift me up into the sky!
Her cottage, made out of logs, stands high off the ground balanced on two legs of a chicken. A dozen crooked steps lead from the ground to the door. The house is topped with a royal blue roof. If she wants the house to move, the legs simply walk the house to where she wants them to stop. Surrounding the house is a decrepit wooden fence.
Now, Baba Yaga had a sister who married a handsome widower with a young daughter. Baba Yaga's sister was jealous of this child who was fair and lovely with long golden locks. Every day she conspired of ways to rid herself of this nuisance.
One day when the father was away, the stepmother sent the girl to Baba Yaga's house to borrow a needle and thread.
The girl knew of the witch and suspected the worse from her father's wife. On the way to the forest, she stopped at the house of her father's sister and told her of the errand. Her aunt listened attentively, then put into the child's pocket a piece of meat, a cut of bread, a bottle of oil, and a ribbon. After giving her instructions on the use of each, she sent the little girl on her way.
As she entered the dark wood, the child made note of her way lest she become lost. After some time, she reached the cottage of Baba Yaga. The old hag gave the girl a task of weaving, while she made preparations to have her for dinner.
Now the child, Petrushka as she is sometimes called, knowing that Baba Yaga was up to no good, made friends with the witch's cat and dog who gave her advice on how to foil the wicked witch.
Petrushka received help from talking animals and objects. Through them, she foiled Baba Yaga who pursued her with vengeance through the forest as magical events transpired to ultimately lead the young heroine back home.
Evil is overcome by good, as Petrushka's father learns of his wife's evil plan. He chastises her with words as hot as burning embers and sends her away from their cottage, never to return. Petrushka and her father then live happily ever after.
Written by Virginia Marin