There once was a girl whose name was Yelena who lived in her father’s apple orchard. All of her meals were apples. Apple pie, apple tart, baked and boiled apples. They even drank only apple juice. But, Yelena was growing tired of apples. She wanted something new to eat. So, she left her father’s orchard and went into the dark woods. In the woods she came upon a bear and she asked this bear what there was to eat the in woods and the bear told her “You can eat me, but you must eat all of me and after you must use my fur to keep you warm in the winter.” But Yelena did not know how to skin a bear and so the bear said she must find something else to eat. Further into the woods the girl found some mushrooms in the brush under a tree.
She asked the mushrooms if they knew anything she might eat in the forest and the mushrooms told her “You may eat us, but only some, the rest you must dig up and bring someplace where we can grow taller and stronger.” But the Yelena did not know where mushrooms needed to go to grow taller. So the mushrooms would not allow her to eat them.
It was growing late and the forest became full of terrifying sounds. Yelena began to run to her father’s orchard lest she be eaten herself. As she reached the edge of the orchard it was so dark she could not find her way through. She searched and searched but could not find any way out of the orchard. So, she decided to climb one of the apple trees to wait until morning and find her way home in the daylight. She climbed the closest tree and as she did she found herself looking out at a vast ocean. On all sides there was nothing but water and the night sky. She sat on the topmost branch and began to cry. “Why are you crying?” Said a passing mermaid from the base of the tree. “I do not know how to get home and I am hungry.” She told the mermaid.
“But look around you. You have so many apples to eat.” Said the mermaid.
“I do not like apples.” Yelena told her.
“I have never had an apple, if you throw three down for me I will stay here through the night so that no harm comes to you and you might sleep to forget your hunger.”
Yelena agreed and threw the apples down to the mermaid. The mermaid ate them and remained in the water beside the tree through the night. Yelena fell asleep on the topmost branch. When she awoke, it was daylight. She looked around and realized she was still in the middle of the ocean. She had been gone all night and her father must be so worried, she thought. She saw a passing albatross and she called to it. “Oh Albatross, please will you deliver a message to my father.” The albatross came down to the branch next to her. “I will do as you ask, but it is a long journey and I have no food. If you would let me have three of these lovely apples, I will deliver this message for you.” Yelena agreed and gave the apples to the albatross and told him to tell her father that she was trapped up a tree and did not know how to get down. The albatross flew away.
Yelena laid down on the branch to wait. For three days she laid under the leaves on the topmost branch until she awoke suddenly with great heaving pains of hunger. She looked about her and found the branches bare of all but brittle leaves. Yelena began to cry.
A passing whale heard her and stopped at the base of the tree. “Why are you crying little girl?” it asked. She told the whale that she had no food and she had no way to get home. The whale told her that she could crawl inside her mouth and he would bring her back to her father’s orchard. “But” the whale said “What will you do for me?” Yelena told the whale that her father had only apples to give. The whale said that he loved apples and if she would bring him five apples when they arrive at shore, he would take her there. She agreed and climbed into the whale’s mouth. It was warm and she slept.
When they arrived at shore she found her father waiting for her, crazy with worry. He picked her up in his arms and thanked the whale. The whale reminded the girl of their agreement. Her father brought the whale five whole bushels of apples as he had cut down the entire orchard in search of his daughter after the albatross had told him she was stuck up a tree. The whale thanked the father and swam away. The father sold all of the apples and cut the wood from the trees to build himself a farm. He began raising cattle and Yelena got to have warm milk and honey on bread.
They lived happily.