The Twelve Months: The Story of Marushka and the Wicked Holena
"Now, Marushka," March cried, "there are your violets! Pick them quickly!"
Marushka was overjoyed. She stooped down and gathered a great bunch. Then she thanked the Months politely, bade them good-day, and hurried away.
Just imagine Holena and the stepmother's surprise when they saw Marushka coming home through the snow with her hands full of violets. They opened the door and instantly the fragrance of the flowers filled the cottage.
"Where did you get them?" Holena demanded rudely.
"High up in the mountain," Marushka said. "The ground up there is covered with them."
Holena snatched the violets and fastened them in her waist. She kept smelling them herself all afternoon and she let her mother smell them, but she never once said to Marushka:
"Dear sister, won't you take a smell?"
The next day as she was sitting idle in the chimney corner she took the notion that she must have some strawberries to eat. So she called Marushka and said:
"Here you, Marushka, go out to the forest and get me some strawberries."
"Good heavens, my dear sister," Marushka said, "where can I find strawberries this time of year? Whoever heard of strawberries growing under the snow?"
"What, you lazy little slattern!" Holena shouted. "You dare to argue with me! You go this minute and if you come back without strawberries, I'll kill you!"
Again the stepmother sided with Holena and, taking Marushka roughly by the shoulder, she pushed her out of the house and slammed the door.
Again the poor child climbed slowly up the mountain side weeping bitterly. All around the snow lay deep with no track of man or beast in any direction. Marushka wandered on and on, weak with hunger and shaking with cold. At last she saw ahead of her the glow of the same fire that she had seen the day before. With happy heart she hastened to it. The Twelve Months were seated as before with Great January on the high seat.
Marushka bowed politely and said:
"Kind sirs, may I warm myself at your fire? I am shaking with cold.