After working on many smaller card pictures, I wanted to try some larger format story illustrations. I had planned to begin with a different tale, but ran into the story of “Prince Danila Govorila,” and wanted to depict at least this scene.
This picture goes near the beginning of the tale (as collected by A.N. Afanas’ev). Due to the interference of a sinister witch, Prince Danila has forced his sister Katerina to marry him. However, she finds an escape route. Following the instructions of three wandering old ladies, she makes four dolls and places them in the four corners of her room. As her brother calls her on the wedding night, she stalls. The dolls begin to sing,
Куку, князь Данила!
Куку, сестру свою,
Куку, за себя берет.
Куку, расступись, земля.
Куку, провались, сестра!
which translates roughly (removing the rhyme), as
Cuckoo, Prince Danila!
Cuckoo, his own sister,
Cuckoo, he takes to himself.
Cuckoo, split open, Earth.
Cuckoo, fall in, sister!
Little by little, the earth opens up until Katerina falls through without a trace, to wander the underground world.
It is an intriguing tale, and I might return with more scenes for it. I think the English translations are all copyrighted and not freely available online, but you can read the Russian on Wikisource.