This section is from the book "Myths And Folk-Tales Of The Russians, Western Slavs, And Magyars", by Jeremiah Curtin. Also available from Amazon: Myths and Folk-Tales of the Russians, Western Slavs, and the Magyars.
Once the footless asked: "Is it possible that we shall live all our lives without company? I have heard that in a certain town there is a rich merchant with his daughter, and the daughter is very charitable to poor people and cripples, and gives alms herself to all. Let us carry her off, brother; let her live with us as a housekeeper".
The blind man took a wagon, put the footless in it, and drew him to the town. They went straight to the house of the rich merchant. The merchant's daughter saw them through the window. Straightway she sprang up and went to give them something. She went to the footless: "Take this, poor man, for Christ's sake." While taking the gift he seized her by the hand and into the wagon with her. He called to the blind man, who ran so swiftly that no horseman could come up with him.
The merchant sent a party in pursuit, but no one could overtake the two men. The heroes brought the merchant's daughter to their hut in the forest, and said to her: "Be to us in the place of our own sister; live with us, keep the house, for we have no one to cook a meal for us or to wash our shirts. God will not forget thee for doing this".
The maiden remained with them. The heroes respected and loved her, and considered her as their own sister. The way was, they used to go hunting, and she was always at home, took care of the housekeeping, cooked for them, washed for them. Now a Baba-Yaga, boneleg, began to come to the hut and suck the blood of the merchant's daughter. The moment the heroes went to hunt, Baba-Yaga was there. Whether it was long or short, the fair maiden's face fell away; she grew thin and poor.
The blind man saw nothing, but Uncle Katoma of the Oaken Cap noticed that something was wrong. He spoke of it to the blind man, and they questioned their adopted sister. They began to urge her to answer. The Baba-Yaga had strictly forbidden her to confess. For a long time she was afraid to tell of her trouble; long she resisted. At last they persuaded her, and she confessed everything. "Whenever ye go away to hunt, an ancient old woman comes, evil-faced, long-haired, gray; she makes me search in her head, and then sucks my blood".
"Ah!" said the blind man, "that is Baba-Yaga. Wait, we must settle with her in our own fashion; to-morrow we will not go to hunt, we will try to come upon her and catch her".
Next morning they did not go to hunt.
"Well, footless uncle," said the blind man, "crawl thou under the bench; sit quietly. I will go outside and stay under the window. And thou, sister, when Baba-Yaga comes, sit right here in this window, search in her head, separate her hair gradually, and let it out of the window. I will catch her by the gray locks".
It was said and done. The blind man caught the Baba-Yaga by the gray locks and cried, "Ei! Uncle Katoma, crawl from under the bench and hold the viperous old hag till I go into the house".
Baba-Yaga heard trouble, wanted to jump up, and raised her head. What could she do? She had no chance; she tore and tore, - no use.
Then Katoma crawled from under the bench, threw himself on her like a stone mountain, and began to smother Baba-Yaga. She was frightened out of her wits.
The blind man sprang into the house, and said to the footless: "We must make a big fire now, burn the old outcast, and scatter her ashes to the wind".
Baba-Yaga implored. "Father, dove, forgive me; whatever thou wishest I'll do".
"Well, old witch," said the heroes, "show us the well of living and healing water".
"Only don't beat me, and I'll show you this moment".
Uncle Katoma sat on the blind man, the blind man took Baba-Yaga by the hair, and she led them to the forest depth, brought them to a well, and said: "Here is the healing and living water".
"See to it, Uncle Katoma," said the blind man, "make no mistake; if she deceives us now, we cannot mend matters while we live".
Uncle Katoma of the Oaken Cap broke from a tree a green branch and threw it into the well; the branch had not reached the water when it burst into a blaze.
"Ah, thou hast turned to deceit!"
They began to choke the old woman, and wanted to throw her into the fiery well. She implored more than before, and gave an awful oath that now she would play no tricks. "Pon my true word, I will lead you now to good water".
They agreed to try once more, and the old woman brought them to another well.
Uncle Katoma broke a dry branch from a tree, and threw it into the well; the branch had not reached the water when it gave out buds, grew green, and blossomed.
"Oh, this is good water!" said Uncle Katoma.
The blind man moistened his eyes with it, and in a moment he saw. He let the footless down into the water, and his feet grew out.
Both were rejoiced, and said: "Now we will restore everything; but first we must settle with Baba-Yaga. If we forgive her now, we shall not see good ourselves; she will plot evil against us all our lives".
They returned to the fiery well and threw Baba- Yaga into it, so that she perished. Then Uncle Katoma married the merchant's daughter, and all three went to the kingdom of Anna the Beautiful to liberate Ivan Tsarevich.
They were approaching the capital town. They looked, Ivan Tsarevich was driving a herd of cows.
"Stop, herdsman!" said Uncle Katoma. "Whither art thou driving these cows?"
"I am driving them to the royal castle. The princess always counts them herself, to see if all the cows are there".
"Well, herdsman, here are my clothes; put them on. I'll put on thine, and drive the cows".
"No, brother, that is impossible; if the princess should know it, woe to me".
"Never fear, nothing will come of it; Uncle Katoma is security for thee in that".
Ivan Tsarevich sighed, and said: "Oh, kind man, if Uncle Katoma were living I should not be herding cows in this field".
Then Uncle Katoma confessed to him who he was. Ivan Tsarevich embraced him firmly and shed tears. "I did not think to see thee".
They changed clothes. Uncle Katoma drove the cows to the princess's yard. Anna the Beautiful came out on the balcony, counted to see if all the cows were there, and gave command to drive them into the shed. All went in but the last one; she stopped at the gate. Katoma jumped up. "What art thou waiting for, dog's meat?" caught her by the tail, and pulled her skin off.
The princess saw this and cried: "What is that scoundrel of a herdsman doing? Seize him; bring him to me!"
Here the servants caught Katoma and dragged him to the palace. He made no excuse, for he was confident in himself. They brought him to the palace. She looked at him and asked: "Who art thou? Whence art thou here?"
"I am the man whose feet thou didst cut off, and thou didst seat me on a stump; they call me Uncle Katoma of the Oaken Cap".
"Well," thought the princess, "if he has brought back his feet, there is no use in playing tricks with him; ' and she begged forgiveness of him, was sorry for her sins, and took an oath to love Ivan Tsarevich forever and obey him in all things.
Ivan Tsarevich forgave her, and began to live with her in peace and harmony. The blind hero lived with them, and Uncle Katoma went with his wife to the rich merchant and lived in his house.