The Twelve Months: The Story of Marushka and the Wicked Holena
Then she picked another.
"That's enough, Marushka!" September shouted. "Don't pick any more!"
Marushka obeyed at once. Then she thanked the Months politely, bade them good-bye, and hurried home.
Holena and her stepmother were more surprised than ever to see Marushka coming through the snow with red apples in her hands. They let her in and grabbed the apples from her.
"Where did you get them?" Holena demanded.
"High up on the mountain," Marushka answered. "There are plenty of them growing there."
"Plenty of them! And you only brought us two!" Holena cried angrily. "Or did you pick more and eat them yourself on the way home?"
"No, no, my dear sister," Marushka said. "I haven't eaten any, truly I haven't. They wouldn't let me pick any more than two. They shouted to me not to pick any more."
"I wish the lightning had struck you dead!" Holena sneered. "I've a good mind to beat you!"
After a time the greedy Holena left off her scolding to eat one of the apples. It had so delicious a flavor that she declared she had never in all her life tasted anything so good. Her mother said the same. When they had finished both apples they began to wish for more.
"Mother," Holena said, "go get me my fur cloak. I'm going up the mountain myself. No use sending that lazy little slattern again, for she would only eat up all the apples on the way home. I'll find that tree and when I pick the apples I'd like to see anybody stop me!"
The mother begged Holena not to go out in such weather, but Holena was headstrong and would go. She threw her fur cloak over her shoulders and put a shawl on her head and off she went up the mountain side.
All around the snow lay deep with no track of man or beast in any direction. Holena wandered on and on determined to find those wonderful apples. At last she saw a light in the distance and when she reached it she found it was the great fire about which the Twelve Months were seated.
At first she was frightened but, soon growing bold, she elbowed her way through the circle of men and without so much as saying: "By your leave," she put out her hands to the fire.