Russian ethnographer and storyteller Alexander Afanasiev compiled and published the best known collection of Russian tales around the middle of the nineteenth century. The tales consisted of three volumes, and among them is the story of Havroshechka...
Orphaned at an early age, Havroshechka came to live with a mean woman who had three daughters--One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes. Just like Cinderella, Havroshechka had to do all the work while the woman and the daughters did nothing except boss the young girl around and scold her at every possible moment. The only consolation Havroshechka found was in telling her woes to the brindled cow in the field behind the house. Hearing her complaints about the pile of work that she had to do, the cow told her to jump into one of her ears and climb out the other, and all the work would be done for her. Havroshechka did as the cow instructed, and when she climbed out of its ear she found all the work had been finished.
Puzzled as to how Havroshechka was completing her tasks so quickly, the evil woman told her daughter One-Eye to follow Havroshechka and report what she does. They went to the fields and One-Eye quickly forgot what she was to do and laid down to rest. "Sleep little eye!" whispered Havroshechka. As soon as the girl fell asleep, Havroshechka climbed into the cow's ear and out the other and her work was done. One-Eye came home and was scolded for not finding out anything. The next day, Two-Eye was sent, and the same thing happened. "Sleep little eye, sleep other eye!" whispered Havroshechka, who then ran off to the cow. Again, the woman knew nothing of how Havroshechka accomplished all her work. So the next day she sent Three-Eye.
The two girls went to the far fields, and growing weary, Three-Eyes laid down to rest. "Sleep little eye, sleep other eye!" said Havroshechka. But she forgot about the girl's third eye, which saw everything. Three-Eyes went back to her mother and told her the story, and the woman immediately ordered that the cow to be killed. Before the old farm hands could kill the cow however, it instructed Havroshechka to take its bones, wrap them in a kerchief, and bury them in the garden and water them every day. Thus she did, and in time a beautiful apple tree grew there.
One day, a handsome and wealthy prince passed by. He saw four girls out front and then saw the apple tree, and said "Whoever brings me an apple from that tree, her will I marry!" Instantly the three daughter began clawing for apples, but the tree raised its branches high out of reach, shook its leaves down into the faces of the girls, and caught their braids in its boughs. But when Havroshechka came over to the tree, it lowered its branches to her height, she plucked a sweet apple, and handed it to the prince. As promised, he married her and took her away from the horrible family to live happily ever after. But Havroshechka never forgot the kind old brindled cow.