The story of Tereshichka is a Russian tale of an old man and wife who mourned their childless existence. So they cut a block of wood, bundled it in swaddling clothes, put it in a cradle, and rocked it and sang lullabies to it. (Creepy…) Lucky for them, the little block of wood turned into a little boy, whom they named Tereshichka.
When he was a little older, Tereshichka would go out fishing on a boat his father had built for him. His mother would bring to him milk and cheese, calling him to shore when it was time to eat. Then one day, a wicked witch named Chuvilikha tried to trick him and called him to shore like his mother always did. But Tereshichka was not fooled.
Not one to be stymied, Chuvilikha found herself a singing teacher, who then taught her how to have a voice like Tereshichka’s mother. When she called to him a second time, Tereshichka was fooled. When he came to shore, the witch snatched him and put him in a bag. She then took him to her home, where she told her daughter to roast him for dinner.
But Tereshichka was clever, and he instead put the witch’s daughter into the oven to roast before running away to hide in a tree. When Chuvilikha returned, she ate the entire roast and was really quite pleased with herself. Seeing her revelry, Tereshichka called down to her from the tree that she had, in fact, just eaten her daughter.
Rightfully enraged, Chuvilikha starts gnawing at Tereshichka’s tree in order to knock it down. She made good progress, but before the tree came down, a little plucked goose flew by and saved the boy. They returned to Tereshichka’s home, and his parents, who had been serving Tereshichka’s funeral repast, were very happy to see him. They rewarded the little plucked goose with food and drink and then let him go. And the little goose thereafter was quite proud and flew at the head of the flock for having saved Tereshichka.
Source: Afanas’ev, Aleksandr, “Tereshichka”, Russian Fairy Tales, Pantheon Books, 2006. Translated by Nobert Guterman.