Republishing the following from www.philly-bob.net in honor of the massive Ukrainian street protests, demanding their government break free from Russia and ally with Europe:
Illustration from an 1878 children's book Maroussia: A Maid of the Ukraine (Link1), telling a Ukrainian legend. It is a charming story of a little girl who gives her life to rescue The Envoy, a George Washington-type national hero, during a period of political turmoil (when the Ukraine was invaded by Russia, and was considering whether to ally with Poland or go independent). In the first picture, the girl's mother does a masterful job of stalling Cossacks who want to arrest the Envoy, a guest at their house. One pistol-wielding Cossack breaks a window to demand that the mother open the door or he will burn the house down. Cunning, the fearless mother plays stupid -- Oh my goodness, I lost the key, I know it's in here somewhere. I'm so confused. Think Edith Bunker in All in the Family. The delaying tactic gives the Envoy time to escape. The little girl on the left, whose hand is being grasped by her mother, is the heroine Maroussia. After the Envoy is gone and mother lets the Cossacks in, Maroussia slips outside and leads the Envoy through the battle-scarred steppes to his destination. That journey, their adventures together, and the stories they tell each other, form the legend's key narrative. I'm reading the English translation. or here.
In the second picture: during their journey, the plucky 11-year-old heroine hides the Envoy in an oxen wagon loaded with hay to smuggle the fugitive past the cossacks hunting him. But when the cossacks stop the wagon and begin to question her, quick-witted Maroussia charms her way out of it. The soldier guarding the wagon ask Maroussia where her parents are, but she turns it around, asking the soldier about his family, getting him to tell her about his own daughter, who is about the same age as Maroussia. Distracted, he doesn't search the wagon, doesn't find the Envoy hiding in the hay.
The third picture shows Maroussia and the Envoy arriving at a camp, their journey done.
After the Envoy is safely delivered, Maroussia is killed by a Tartar's stray bullet and is laid out on a funeral bier, where she is mourned by all. Not a dry eye in the house.