The Twelve Months: The Story of Marushka and the Wicked Holena
She hadn't even the courtesy to say: "Good-day."
Great January frowned.
"Who are you?" he asked in a deep voice. "And what do you want?"
Holena looked at him rudely.
"You old fool, what business is it of yours who I am or what I want!"
She tossed her head airily and walked off into the forest.
The frown deepened on Great January's brow. Slowly he stood up and waved the staff over his head. The fire died down. Then the sky grew dark; an icy wind blew over the mountain; and the snow began to fall so thickly that it looked as if some one in the sky were emptying a huge feather-bed.
Holena could not see a step before her. She struggled on and on. Now she ran into a tree, now she fell into a snowdrift. In spite of her warm cloak her limbs began to weaken and grow numb. The snow kept on falling, the icy wind kept on blowing.
Did Holena at last begin to feel sorry that she had been so wicked and cruel to Marushka? No, she did not. Instead, the colder she grew, the more bitterly she reviled Marushka in her heart, the more bitterly she reviled even the good God Himself.
Meanwhile at home her mother waited for her and waited. She stood at the window as long as she could, then she opened the door and tried to peer through the storm. She waited and waited, but no Holena came.
"Oh dear, oh dear, what can be keeping her?" she thought to herself. "Does she like those apples so much that she can't leave them, or what is it? I think I'll have to go out myself and find her."
So the stepmother put her fur cloak about her shoulders, threw a shawl over her head, and started out.
She called: "Holena! Holena!" but no one answered.
She struggled on and on up the mountain side. All around the snow lay deep with no track of man or beast in any direction.
Still no answer.
The snow fell fast. The icy wind moaned on.
At home Marushka prepared the dinner and looked after the cow. Still neither Holena nor the stepmother returned.
"What can they be doing all this time?