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Archive for the ‘Russian short stories’ Category

 

In a kingdom far away from our country, there was a town over which ruled the Tsar Pea with his Tsaritza Carrot. He had many wise statesmen, wealthy princes, strong, powerful warriors, and also simple soldiers, a hundred thousand, less one man. In that town lived all kinds of people: honest, bearded merchants, keen and open-handed rascals, German tradesmen, lovely maidens, Russian drunkards; and in the suburbs all around, the peasants tilled the soil, sowed the wheat, ground the flour, traded in the markets, and spent the money in drink.

In one of the suburbs there was a poor hut where an old man lived with his three sons, Thomas, Pakhom, and Ivan. The old man was not only clever, he was wise. He had happened once to have a chat with the devil. They talked together while the old man treated him to a tumbler of wine and got out of the devil many great secrets. Soon after this the peasant began to perform such marvelous acts that the neighbors called him a sorcerer, a magician, and even supposed that the devil was his kin.

Yes, it is true that the old man performed great marvels. Were you longing for love, go to him, bow to the old man, and he would give you some strange root, and the sweetheart would be yours. If there is a theft, again to him with the tale. The old man conjures over some water, takes an officer along straight to the thief, and your lost is found; only take care that the officer steals it not.

Indeed the old man was very wise; but his children were not his equals. Two of them were almost as clever. They were married and had children, but Ivan, the youngest, was single. No one cared much for him because he was rather a fool, could not count one, two, three, and only drank, or ate, or slept, or lay around. Why care for such a person? Every one knows life for some is brighter than for others. But Ivan was good-hearted and quiet. Ask of him a belt, he will give a kaftan also; take his mittens, he certainly would want to have you take his cap with them. And that is why all liked Ivan, and usually called him Ivanoushka the Simpleton; though the name means fool, at the same time it carries the idea of a kind heart.

Our old man lived on with his sons until finally his hour came to die. He called his three sons and said to them:

“Dear children of mine, my dying hour is at hand and ye must fulfill my will. Every one of you come to my grave and spend one night with me; thou, Tom, the first night; thou, Pakhom, the second night; and thou, Ivanoushka the Simpleton, the third.”

Two of the brothers, as clever people, promised their father to do according to his bidding, but the Simpleton did not even promise; he only scratched his head.

The old man died and was buried. During the celebration the family and guests had plenty of pancakes to eat and plenty of whisky to wash them down.

Now you remember that on the first night Thomas was to go to the grave; but he was too lazy, or possibly afraid, so he said to the Simpleton:

“I must be up very early to-morrow morning; I have to thresh; go thou for me to our father’s grave.”

“All right,” answered Ivanoushka the Simpleton. He took a slice of black rye bread, went to the grave, stretched himself out, and soon began to snore.

The church clock struck midnight; the wind roared, the owl cried in the trees, the grave opened and the old man came out and asked:

“Who is there?”

“I,” answered Ivanoushka.

“Well, my dear son, I will reward thee for thine obedience,” said the father.

Lo! the cocks crowed and the old man dropped into the grave. The Simpleton arrived home and went to the warm stove.

“What happened?” asked the brothers.

“Nothing,” he answered. “I slept the whole night and am hungry now.”

The second night it was Pakhom’s turn to go to his father’s grave. He thought it over and said to the Simpleton:

“To-morrow is a busy day with me. Go in my place to our father’s grave.”

“All right,” answered Ivanoushka. He took along with him a piece of fish pie, went to the grave and slept. Midnight approached, the wind roared, crows came flying, the grave opened and the old man came out.

“Who is there?” he asked.

“I,” answered his son the Simpleton.

“Well, my beloved son, I will not forget thine obedience,” said the old man.

The cocks crowed and the old man dropped into his grave. Ivanoushka the Simpleton came home, went to sleep on the warm stove, and in the morning his brothers asked:

“What happened?”

“Nothing,” answered Ivanoushka.

On the third night the brothers said to Ivan the Simpleton:

“It is thy turn to go to the grave of our father. The father’s will should be done.”

“All right,” answered Ivanoushka. He took some cookies, put on his sheepskin, and arrived at the grave.

At midnight his father came out.

“Who is there?” he asked.

“I,” answered Ivanoushka.

“Well,” said the old father, “my obedient son, thou shalt be rewarded;” and the old man shouted with a mighty voice:

“Arise, bay horse—thou wind-swift steed,

Appear before me in my need;

Stand up as in the storm the weed!”

And lo!—Ivanoushka the Simpleton beheld a horse running, the earth trembling under his hoofs, his eyes like stars, and out of his mouth and ears smoke coming in a cloud. The horse approached and stood before the old man.

“What is thy wish?” he asked with a man’s voice.

The old man crawled into his left ear, washed and adorned himself, and jumped out of his right ear as a young, brave fellow never seen before.

“Now listen attentively,” he said. “To thee, my son, I give this horse. And thou, my faithful horse and friend, serve my son as thou hast served me.”

Hardly had the old man pronounced these words when the first cock crew and the sorcerer dropped into his grave. Our Simpleton went quietly back home, stretched himself under the icons, and his snoring was heard far around.

“What happened?” the brothers again asked.

But the Simpleton did not even answer; he only waved his hand. The three brothers continued to live their usual life, the two with cleverness and the younger with foolishness. They lived a day in and an equal day out. But one morning there came quite a different day from all others. They learned that big men were going all over the country with trumpets and players; that those men announced everywhere the will of the Tsar, and the Tsar’s will was this: The Tsar Pea and the Tsaritza Carrot had an only daughter, the Tsarevna Baktriana, heiress to the throne. She was such a beautiful maiden that the sun blushed when she looked at it, and the moon, altogether too bashful, covered itself from her eyes. Tsar and Tsaritza had a hard time to decide to whom they should give their daughter for a wife. It must be a man who could be a proper ruler over the country, a brave warrior on the battlefield, a wise judge in the council, an adviser to the Tsar, and a suitable heir after his death. They also wanted a bridegroom who was young, brave, and handsome, and they wanted him to be in love with their Tsarevna. That would have been easy enough, but the trouble was that the beautiful Tsarevna loved no one. Sometimes the Tsar mentioned to her this or that one. Always the same answer, “I do not love him.” The Tsaritza tried, too, with no better result; “I do not like him.”

A day came when the Tsar Pea and his Tsaritza Carrot seriously addressed their daughter on the subject of marriage and said:

“Our beloved child, our very beautiful Tsarevna Baktriana, it is time for thee to choose a bridegroom. Envoys of all descriptions, from kings and tzars and princes, have worn our threshold, drunk dry all the cellars, and thou hast not yet found any one according to thy heart’s wish.”

The Tsarevna answered: “Sovereign, and thou, Tsaritza, my dear mother, I feel sorry for you, and my wish is to obey your desire. So let fate decide who is destined to become my husband. I ask you to build a hall, a high hall with thirty-two circles, and above those circles a window. I will sit at that window and do you order all kinds of people, tsars, kings, tsarovitchi, korolevitchi, brave warriors, and handsome fellows, to come. The one who will jump through the thirty-two circles, reach my window and exchange with me golden rings, he it will be who is destined to become my husband, son and heir to you.”

The Tsar and Tsaritza listened attentively to the words of their bright Tsarevna, and finally they said: “According to thy wish shall it be done.”

In no time the hall was ready, a very high hall adorned with Venetian velvets, with pearls for tassels, with golden designs, and thirty-two circles on both sides of the window high above. Envoys went to the different kings and sovereigns, pigeons flew with orders to the subjects to gather the proud and the humble into the town of the Tsar Pea and his Tsaritza Carrot. It was announced everywhere that the one who could jump through the circles, reach the window and exchange golden rings with the Tsarevna Baktriana, that man would be the lucky one, notwithstanding his rank—tsar or free kosack, king or warrior, tsarevitch, korolevitch, or fellow without any kinfolk or country.

The great day arrived. Crowds pressed to the field where stood the newly built hall, brilliant as a star. Up high at the window the tsarevna was sitting, adorned with precious stones, clad in velvet and pearls. The people below were roaring like an ocean. The Tzar with his Tzaritza was sitting upon a throne. Around them were boyars, warriors, and counselors.

The suitors on horseback, proud, handsome, and brave, whistle and ride round about, but looking at the high window their hearts drop. There were already several fellows who had tried. Each would take a long start, balance himself, spring, and fall back like a stone, a laughing stock for the witnesses.

The brothers of Ivanoushka the Simpleton were preparing themselves to go to the field also.

The Simpleton said to them: “Take me along with you.”

“Thou fool,” laughed the brothers; “stay at home and watch the chickens.”

“All right,” he answered, went to the chicken yard and lay down. But as soon as the brothers were away, our Ivanoushka the Simpleton walked to the wide fields and shouted with a mighty voice:

“Arise, bay horse—thou wind-swift steed,

Appear before me in my need;

Stand up as in the storm the weed!”

The glorious horse came running. Flames shone out of his eyes; out of his nostrils smoke came in clouds, and the horse asked with a man’s voice:

“What is thy wish?”

Ivanoushka the Simpleton crawled into the horse’s left ear, transformed himself and reappeared at the right ear, such a handsome fellow that in no book is there written any description of him; no one has ever seen such a fellow. He jumped onto the horse and touched his iron sides with a silk whip. The horse became impatient, lifted himself above the ground, higher and higher above the dark woods below the traveling clouds. He swam over the large rivers, jumped over the small ones, as well as over hills and mountains. Ivanoushka the Simpleton arrived at the hall of the Tsarevna Baktriana, flew up like a hawk, passed through thirty circles, could not reach the last two, and went away like a whirlwind.

The people were shouting: “Take hold of him! take hold of him!” The Tsar jumped to his feet, the Tsaritza screamed. Every one was roaring in amazement.

The brothers of Ivanoushka came home and there was but one subject of conversation—what a splendid fellow they had seen! What a wonderful start to pass through the thirty circles!

“Brothers, that fellow was I,” said Ivanoushka the Simpleton, who had long since arrived.

“Keep still and do not fool us,” answered the brothers.

The next day the two brothers were going again to the tsarski show and Ivanoushka the Simpleton said again: “Take me along with you.”

“For thee, fool, this is thy place. Be quiet at home and scare sparrows from the pea field instead of the scarecrow.”

“All right,” answered the Simpleton, and he went to the field and began to scare the sparrows. But as soon as the brothers left home, Ivanoushka started to the wide field and shouted out loud with a mighty voice:

“Arise, bay horse—thou wind-swift steed,

Appear before me in my need;

Stand up as in the storm the weed!”

—and here came the horse, the earth trembling under his hoofs, the sparks flying around, his eyes like flames, and out of his nostrils smoke curling up.

“For what dost thou wish me?”

Ivanoushka the Simpleton crawled into the left ear of the horse, and when he appeared out of the right ear, oh, my! what a fellow he was! Even in fairy tales there are never such handsome fellows, to say nothing of everyday life.

Ivanoushka lifted himself on the iron back of his horse and touched him with a strong whip. The noble horse grew angry, made a jump, and went higher than the dark woods, a little below the traveling clouds. One jump, one mile is behind; a second jump, a river is behind; and a third jump and they were at the hall. Then the horse, with Ivanoushka on his back, flew like an eagle, high up into the air, passed the thirty-first circle, failed to reach the last one, and swept away like the wind.

The people shouted: “Take hold of him! take hold of him!” The Tsar jumped to his feet, the Tsaritza screamed, the princes and boyars opened their mouths.

The brothers of Ivanoushka the Simpleton came home. They were wondering at the fellow. Yes, an amazing fellow indeed! one circle only was unreached.

“Brothers, that fellow over there was I,” said Ivanoushka to them.

“Keep still in thy own place, thou fool,” was their sneering answer.

The third day the brothers were going again to the strange entertainment of the Tsar, and again Ivanoushka the Simpleton said to them: “Take me along with you.”

“Fool,” they laughed, “there is food to be given to the hogs; better go to them.”

“All right,” the younger brother answered, and quietly went to the back yard and gave food to the hogs. But as soon as his brothers had left home our Ivanoushka the Simpleton hurried to the wide field and shouted out loud:

“Arise, bay horse—them wind-swift steed,

Appear before me in my need;

Stand up as in the storm the weed!”

At once the horse came running, the earth trembled; where he stepped there appeared ponds, where his hoofs touched there were lakes, out of his eyes shone flames, out of his ears smoke came like a cloud.

“For what dost thou wish me?” the horse asked with a man’s voice.

Ivanoushka the Simpleton crawled into his right ear and jumped out of his left one, and a handsome fellow he was. A young girl could not even imagine such a one.

Ivanoushka struck his horse, pulled the bridle tight, and lo! he flew high up in the air. The wind was left behind and even the swallow, the sweet, winged passenger, must not aspire to do the same. Our hero flew like a cloud high up into the sky, his silver-chained mail rattling, his fair curls floating in the wind. He arrived at the Tsarevna’s high hall, struck his horse once more, and oh! how the wild horse did jump!

Look there! the fellow reaches all the circles; he is near the window; he presses the beautiful Tsarevna with his strong arms, kisses her on the sugar lips, exchanges golden rings, and like a storm sweeps through the fields. There, there, he is crushing every one on his way! And the Tsarevna? Well, she did not object. She even adorned his forehead with a diamond star.

The people roared: “Take hold of him!” But the fellow had already disappeared and no traces were left behind.

The Tsar Pea lost his royal dignity. The Tsaritza Carrot screamed louder than ever and the wise counselors only shook their wise heads and remained silent.

The brothers came home talking and discussing the wonderful matter.

“Indeed,” they shook their heads; “only think of it! The fellow succeeded and our Tsarevna has a bridegroom. But who is he? Where is he?”

“Brothers, the fellow is I,” said Ivanoushka the Simpleton, smiling.

“Keep still, I and I—,” and the brothers almost slapped him.

The matter proved to be quite serious this time, and the Tsar and Tsaritza issued an order to surround the town with armed men whose duty it was to let every one enter, but not a soul go out. Every one had to appear at the royal palace and show his forehead. From early in the morning the crowds were gathering around the palace. Each forehead was inspected, but there was no star on any. Dinner time was approaching and in the palace they even forgot to cover the oak tables with white spreads. The brothers of Ivanoushka had also to show their foreheads and the Simpleton said to them:

“Take me along with you.”

“Thy place is right here,” they answered, jokingly. “But say, what is the matter with thy head that thou hast covered it with cloths? Did somebody strike thee?”

“No, nobody struck me. I, myself, struck the door with my forehead. The door remained all right, but on my forehead there is a knob.”

The brothers laughed and went. Soon after them Ivanoushka left home and went straight to the window of the Tsarevna, where she sat leaning on the window sill and looking for her betrothed.

“There is our man,” shouted the guards, when the Simpleton appeared among them. “Show thy forehead. Hast thou the star?” and they laughed.

Ivanoushka the Simpleton gave no heed to their bidding, but refused. The guards were shouting at him and the Tsarevna heard the noise and ordered the fellow to her presence. There was nothing to be done but to take off the cloths.

Behold! the star was shining in the middle of his forehead. The Tsarevna took Ivanoushka by the hand, brought him before Tsar Pea, and said:

“He it is, my Tsar and father, who is destined to become my groom, thy son-in-law and heir.”

It was too late to object. The Tsar ordered preparations for the bridal festivities, and our Ivanoushka the Simpleton was wedded to the Tsarevna Baktriana. The Tsar, the Tsaritza, the young bride and groom, and their guests, feasted three days. There was fine eating and generous drinking. There were all kinds of amusements also. The brothers of Ivanoushka were created governors and each one received a village and a house.

The story is told in no time, but to live a life requires time and patience. The brothers of Ivanoushka the Simpleton were clever men, we know, and as soon as they became rich every one understood it at once, and they themselves became quite sure about it and began to pride themselves, to boast, and to brag. The humble ones did not dare look toward their homes, and even the boyars had to take off their fur caps on their porches.

Once several boyars came to Tsar Pea and said: “Great Tsar, the brothers of thy son-in-law are bragging around that they know the place where grows an apple tree with silver leaves and golden apples, and they want to bring this apple tree to thee.”

The Tsar immediately called the brothers before him and bade them bring at once the wonderful tree, the apple tree with silver leaves and golden apples. The brothers had ever so many excuses, but the Tsar would have his way. They were given fine horses out of the royal stables and went on their errand. Our friend, Ivanoushka the Simpleton, found somewhere a lame old horse, jumped on his back facing the tail, and also went. He went to the wide field, grasped the lame horse by the tail, threw him off roughly, and shouted:

“You crows and magpies, come, come! There is lunch prepared for you.”

This done he ordered his horse, his spirited courser, to appear, and as usual he crawled into one ear, jumped out the other ear and they went—where? Toward the east where grew the wonderful apple tree with silver leaves and golden apples. It grew near silver waters upon golden sand. When Ivanoushka reached the place he uprooted the tree and turned toward home. His ride was long and he felt tired. Before he arrived at his town Ivanoushka pitched his tent and lay down for a rest. Along the same road came his brothers. The two were proud no more, but rather depressed, not knowing what answer to give the Tsar. They perceived the tent with silver top and near by the wonderful apple tree. They came nearer and—”There is our Simpleton!” exclaimed the brothers. Then they awakened Ivanoushka and wanted to buy the apple tree. They were rich and offered three carts filled with silver.

“Well, brothers, this tree, this wonderful apple tree, is not for sale,” answered Ivanoushka, “but if you wish to obtain it you may. The price will not be too high, a toe from each right foot.”

The brothers thought the matter over and finally decided to give the desired price. Ivanoushka cut the toes off, gave them the apple tree, and the happy brothers brought it to the Tsar and there was no end to their bragging.

“Here, all-powerful Tsar,” they said. “We went far, and had many a trouble on our way, but thy wish is fulfilled.”

The Tsar Pea seemed pleased, ordered a feast, commanded tunes to be played and drums beaten, rewarded the two brothers of Ivanoushka the Simpleton, each one with a town, and praised them.

The boyars and warriors became furious.

“Why,” they said to the Tsar, “there is nothing wonderful in such an apple tree with golden apples and silver leaves. The brothers of thy son-in-law are bragging around that they will get thee a pig with golden bristles and silver tusks, and not alone the pig, but also her twelve little ones!”

The Tsar called the brothers before him and ordered them to bring the very pig with her golden bristles and silver tusks and her twelve little ones. The brothers’ excuses were not listened to and so they went. Once more the brothers were traveling on a difficult errand, looking for a golden-bristled pig with silver tusks and twelve little pigs.

At that time Ivanoushka the Simpleton made up his mind to take a trip somewhere. He put a saddle on a cow, jumped up on her back facing the tail, and left the town. He came to a field, grasped the cow by the horns, threw her far on the prairie and shouted:

“Come, come, you gray wolves and red foxes! there is a dinner for you!”

Then he ordered his faithful horse, crawled into one ear, and jumped out of the other. Master and courser went on an errand, this time toward the south. One, two, three, and they were in dark woods. In these woods the wished-for pig was walking around, a golden-bristled pig with silver tusks. She was eating roots, and after her followed twelve little pigs.

Ivanoushka the Simpleton threw over the pig a silk rope with a running noose, gathered the little pigs into a basket and went home, but before he reached the town of the Tsar Pea he pitched a tent with a golden top and lay down for a rest. On the same road the brothers came along with gloomy faces, not knowing what to say to the Tsar. They saw the tent, and near by the very pig they were searching for, with golden bristles and silver tusks, was fastened with a silk rope; and in a basket were the twelve little pigs. The brothers looked into the tent. Ivanoushka again! They awakened him and wanted to trade for the pig; they were ready to give in exchange three carts loaded with precious stones.

“Brothers, my pig is not for trade,” said Ivanoushka, “but if you want her so much, well, one finger from each right hand will pay for her.”

The brothers thought over the case for a long while; they reasoned thus: “People live happily without brains, why not without fingers?”

So they allowed Ivanoushka to cut off their fingers, then took the pig to the Tsar, and their bragging had no end.

“Tsar Sovereign,” they said, “we went everywhere, beyond the blue sea, beyond the dark woods; we passed through deep sands, we suffered hunger and thirst; but thy wish is accomplished.”

The Tsar was glad to have such faithful servants. He gave a feast great among feasts, rewarded the brothers of Ivanoushka the Simpleton, created them big boyars and praised them.

The other boyars and different court people said to the Tsar:

“There is nothing wonderful in such a pig. Golden bristles, silver tusks,—yes, it is fine. But a pig remains a pig forever. The brothers of thy son-in-law are bragging now that they will steal for thee out of the stables of the fiery dragon a mare with golden mane and diamond hoofs.”

The Tsar at once called the brothers of Ivanoushka the Simpleton, and ordered the golden-maned mare with the diamond hoofs. The brothers swore that they never said such words, but the Tsar did not listen to their protests.

“Take as much gold as you want, take warriors as many as you wish, but bring me the beautiful mare with golden mane and diamond hoofs. If you do it my reward will be great; if not, your fate is to become peasants as before.”

The brothers went, two sad heroes. Their march was slow; where to go they did not know. Ivanoushka also jumped upon a stick and went leaping toward the field. Once in the wide, open field, he ordered his horse, crawled into one ear, came out of the other, and both started for a far-away country, for an island, a big island. On that island in an iron stable the fiery dragon was watchfully guarding his glory—the golden-maned mare with diamond hoofs, which was locked under seven locks behind seven heavy doors.

Our Ivanoushka journeyed and journeyed, how long we do not know, until at last he arrived at that island, struggled three days with the dragon and killed him on the fourth day. Then he began to tear down the locks. That took three days more. When he had done this he brought out the wonderful mare by the golden mane and turned homeward.

The road was long, and before he reached his town Ivanoushka, according to his habit, pitched his tent with a diamond top, and laid him down for rest. The brothers came along—gloomy they were, fearing the Tsar’s anger. Lo! they heard neighing; the earth trembled—it was the golden-maned mare! Though in the dusk of evening the brothers saw her golden mane shining like fire. They stopped, awakened Ivanoushka the Simpleton, and wanted to trade for the wonderful mare. They were willing to give him a bushel of precious stones each and promised even more.

Ivanoushka said: “Though my mare is not for trade, yet if you want her I’ll give her to you. And you, do you each give me your right ears.”

The brothers did not even argue, but let Ivanoushka cut off their ears, took hold of the bridle and went directly to the Tsar. They presented to him the golden-maned mare with diamond hoofs, and there was no end of bragging.

“We went beyond seas, beyond mountains,” the brothers said to the Tsar; “we fought the fiery dragon who bit off our ears and fingers; we had no fear, but one desire to serve thee faithfully; we shed our blood and lost our wealth.”

The Tsar Pea poured gold over them, created them the very highest men after himself, and planned such a feast that the royal cooks were tired out with cooking to feed all the people, and the cellars were fairly emptied.

The Tsar Pea was sitting on his throne, one brother on his right hand, the other brother on his left hand. The feast was going on; all seemed jolly, all were drinking, all were noisy as bees in a beehive. In the midst of it a young, brave fellow, Ivanoushka the Simpleton, entered the hall—the very fellow who had passed the thirty-two circles and reached the window of the beautiful Tsarevna Baktriana.

When the brothers noticed him, one almost choked himself with wine, the other was suffocating over a piece of swan. They looked at him, opened wide their eyes, and remained silent.

Ivanoushka the Simpleton bowed to his father-in-law and told the story as the story was. He told about the apple tree, the wonderful apple tree with silver leaves and golden apples; he told about the pig, the golden-bristled pig with silver tusks and her twelve little ones; and finally he told about the marvelous mare with a golden mane and diamond hoofs. He finished and laid out ears, fingers, and toes.

“It is the exchange I got,” said Ivanoushka.

Tsar Pea became furious, stamped his feet, ordered the two brothers to be driven away with brooms. One was sent to feed the pigs, another to watch the turkeys. The Tsar seated Ivanoushka beside himself, creating him the highest among the very high.

The feast lasted a very long time until all were tired of feasting.

Ivanoushka took control of the tsarstvo, ruling wisely and severely. After his father-in-law’s death he occupied his place. His subjects liked him; he had many children, and his beautiful Tsaritza Baktriana remained beautiful forever.

 

 

 

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Leo Tolstoi

I

An elder sister came to visit her younger sister in the country.

The elder was married to a tradesman in town, the younger to a

peasant in the village. As the sisters sat over their tea talking,

the elder began to boast of the advantages of town life: saying how

comfortably they lived there, how well they dressed, what fine

clothes her children wore, what good things they ate and drank, and

how she went to the theatre, promenades, and entertainments.

The younger sister was piqued, and in turn disparaged the life of a

tradesman, and stood up for that of a peasant.

“I would not change my way of life for yours,” said she. “We may

live roughly, but at least we are free from anxiety. You live in

better style than we do, but though you often earn more than you

need, you are very likely to lose all you have. You know the proverb,

‘Loss and gain are brothers twain.’ It often happens that people who

are wealthy one day are begging their bread the next. Our way is

safer. Though a peasant’s life is not a fat one, it is a long one.

We shall never grow rich, but we shall always have enough to eat.”

The elder sister said sneeringly:

“Enough? Yes, if you like to share with the pigs and the calves!

What do you know of elegance or manners! However much your good man

may slave, you will die as you are living-on a dung heap-and your

children the same.”

“Well, what of that?” replied the younger. “Of course our work is

rough and coarse. But, on the other hand, it is sure; and we need

not bow to any one. But you, in your towns, are surrounded by

temptations; today all may be right, but tomorrow the Evil One may

tempt your husband with cards, wine, or women, and all will go to

ruin. Don’t such things happen often enough?”

Pahom, the master of the house, was lying on the top of the oven,

and he listened to the women’s chatter.

“It is perfectly true,” thought he. “Busy as we are from childhood

tilling Mother Earth, we peasants have no time to let any nonsense

settle in our heads. Our only trouble is that we haven’t land

enough. If I had plenty of land, I shouldn’t fear the Devil himself!”

The women finished their tea, chatted a while about dress, and then

cleared away the tea-things and lay down to sleep.

But the Devil had been sitting behind the oven, and had heard all

that was said. He was pleased that the peasant’s wife had led her

husband into boasting, and that he had said that if he had plenty of

land he would not fear the Devil himself.

“All right,” thought the Devil. “We will have a tussle. I’ll give you

land enough; and by means of that land I will get you into my power.”

II

Close to the village there lived a lady, a small landowner, who had

an estate of about three hundred acres. She had always lived on

good terms with the peasants, until she engaged as her steward an

old soldier, who took to burdening the people with fines. However

careful Pahom tried to be, it happened again and again that now a

horse of his got among the lady’s oats, now a cow strayed into her

garden, now his calves found their way into her meadows-and he

always had to pay a fine.

Pahom paid, but grumbled, and, going home in a temper, was rough

with his family. All through that summer Pahom had much trouble

because of this steward; and he was even glad when winter came and

the cattle had to be stabled. Though he grudged the fodder when

they could no longer graze on the pasture-land, at least he was free

from anxiety about them.

In the winter the news got about that the lady was going to sell her

land, and that the keeper of the inn on the high road was bargaining

for it. When the peasants heard this they were very much alarmed.

“Well,” thought they, “if the innkeeper gets the land he will worry us

with fines worse than the lady’s steward. We all depend on that estate.”

So the peasants went on behalf of their Commune, and asked the lady

not to sell the land to the innkeeper; offering her a better price

for it themselves. The lady agreed to let them have it. Then the

peasants tried to arrange for the Commune to buy the whole estate,

so that it might be held by all in common. They met twice to

discuss it, but could not settle the matter; the Evil One sowed

discord among them, and they could not agree. So they decided to

buy the land individually, each according to his means; and the lady

agreed to this plan as she had to the other.

Presently Pahom heard that a neighbor of his was buying fifty acres,

and that the lady had consented to accept one half in cash and to

wait a year for the other half. Pahom felt envious.

“Look at that,” thought he, “the land is all being sold, and I shall

get none of it.” So he spoke to his wife.

“Other people are buying,” said he, “and we must also buy twenty

acres or so. Life is becoming impossible. That steward is simply

crushing us with his fines.”

So they put their heads together and considered how they could

manage to buy it. They had one hundred roubles laid by. They sold

a colt, and one half of their bees; hired out one of their sons as a

laborer, and took his wages in advance; borrowed the rest from a

brother-in-law, and so scraped together half the purchase money.

Having done this, Pahom chose out a farm of forty acres, some of it

wooded, and went to the lady to bargain for it. They came to an

agreement, and he shook hands with her upon it, and paid her a

deposit in advance. Then they went to town and signed the deeds; he

paying half the price down, and undertaking to pay the remainder

within two years.

So now Pahom had land of his own. He borrowed seed, and sowed it on

the land he had bought. The harvest was a good one, and within a

year he had managed to pay off his debts both to the lady and to his

brother-in-law. So he became a landowner, ploughing and sowing his

own land, making hay on his own land, cutting his own trees, and

feeding his cattle on his own pasture. When he went out to plough

his fields, or to look at his growing corn, or at his grass meadows,

his heart would fill with joy. The grass that grew and the flowers

that bloomed there, seemed to him unlike any that grew elsewhere.

Formerly, when he had passed by that land, it had appeared the same

as any other land, but now it seemed quite different.

III

So Pahom was well contented, and everything would have been right if

the neighboring peasants would only not have trespassed on his corn-

fields and meadows. He appealed to them most civilly, but they

still went on: now the Communal herdsmen would let the village cows

stray into his meadows; then horses from the night pasture would get

among his corn. Pahom turned them out again and again, and forgave

their owners, and for a long time he forbore from prosecuting any

one. But at last he lost patience and complained to the District

Court. He knew it was the peasants’ want of land, and no evil

intent on their part, that caused the trouble; but he thought:

“I cannot go on overlooking it, or they will destroy all I have.

They must be taught a lesson.”

So he had them up, gave them one lesson, and then another, and two

or three of the peasants were fined. After a time Pahom’s

neighbours began to bear him a grudge for this, and would now and

then let their cattle on his land on purpose. One peasant even got

into Pahom’s wood at night and cut down five young lime trees for

their bark. Pahom passing through the wood one day noticed

something white. He came nearer, and saw the stripped trunks lying

on the ground, and close by stood the stumps, where the tree had

been. Pahom was furious.

“If he had only cut one here and there it would have been bad enough,”

thought Pahom, “but the rascal has actually cut down a whole clump.

If I could only find out who did this, I would pay him out.”

He racked his brains as to who it could be. Finally he decided: “It

must be Simon-no one else could have done it.” Se he went to

Simon’s homestead to have a look around, but he found nothing, and

only had an angry scene. However’ he now felt more certain than

ever that Simon had done it, and he lodged a complaint. Simon was

summoned. The case was tried, and re-tried, and at the end of it

all Simon was acquitted, there being no evidence against him. Pahom

felt still more aggrieved, and let his anger loose upon the Elder

and the Judges.

“You let thieves grease your palms,” said he. “If you were honest

folk yourselves, you would not let a thief go free.”

So Pahom quarrelled with the Judges and with his neighbors. Threats

to burn his building began to be uttered. So though Pahom had more

land, his place in the Commune was much worse than before.

About this time a rumor got about that many people were moving to

new parts.

“There’s no need for me to leave my land,” thought Pahom. “But some

of the others might leave our village, and then there would be more

room for us. I would take over their land myself, and make my

estate a bit bigger. I could then live more at ease. As it is, I

am still too cramped to be comfortable.”

One day Pahom was sitting at home, when a peasant passing through

the village, happened to call in. He was allowed to stay the night,

and supper was given him. Pahom had a talk with this peasant and

asked him where he came from. The stranger answered that he came

from beyond the Volga, where he had been working. One word led to

another, and the man went on to say that many people were settling

in those parts. He told how some people from his village had

settled there. They had joined the Commune, and had had twenty-five

acres per man granted them. The land was so good, he said, that the

rye sown on it grew as high as a horse, and so thick that five cuts

of a sickle made a sheaf. One peasant, he said, had brought nothing

with him but his bare hands, and now he had six horses and two cows

of his own.

Pahom’s heart kindled with desire. He thought:

“Why should I suffer in this narrow hole, if one can live so well

elsewhere? I will sell my land and my homestead here, and with the

money I will start afresh over there and get everything new. In

this crowded place one is always having trouble. But I must first

go and find out all about it myself.”

Towards summer he got ready and started. He went down the Volga on

a steamer to Samara, then walked another three hundred miles on

foot, and at last reached the place. It was just as the stranger

had said. The peasants had plenty of land: every man had twenty-

five acres of Communal land given him for his use, and any one who

had money could buy, besides, at fifty-cents an acre as much good

freehold land as he wanted.

Having found out all he wished to know, Pahom returned home as

autumn came on, and began selling off his belongings. He sold his

land at a profit, sold his homestead and all his cattle, and

withdrew from membership of the Commune. He only waited till the

spring, and then started with his family for the new settlement.

IV

As soon as Pahom and his family arrived at their new abode, he

applied for admission into the Commune of a large village. He stood

treat to the Elders, and obtained the necessary documents. Five

shares of Communal land were given him for his own and his sons’

use: that is to say–125 acres (not altogether, but in different

fields) besides the use of the Communal pasture. Pahom put up the

buildings he needed, and bought cattle. Of the Communal land alone

he had three times as much as at his former home, and the land was

good corn-land. He was ten times better off than he had been. He

had plenty of arable land and pasturage, and could keep as many head

of cattle as he liked.

At first, in the bustle of building and settling down, Pahom was

pleased with it all, but when he got used to it he began to think

that even here he had not enough land. The first year, he sowed

wheat on his share of the Communal land, and had a good crop. He

wanted to go on sowing wheat, but had not enough Communal land for

the purpose, and what he had already used was not available; for in

those parts wheat is only sown on virgin soil or on fallow land. It

is sown for one or two years, and then the land lies fallow till it

is again overgrown with prairie grass. There were many who wanted

such land, and there was not enough for all; so that people

quarrelled about it. Those who were better off, wanted it for

growing wheat, and those who were poor, wanted it to let to dealers,

so that they might raise money to pay their taxes. Pahom wanted to

sow more wheat; so he rented land from a dealer for a year. He

sowed much wheat and had a fine crop, but the land was too far from

the village–the wheat had to be carted more than ten miles. After

a time Pahom noticed that some peasant-dealers were living on

separate farms, and were growing wealthy; and he thought:

“If I were to buy some freehold land, and have a homestead on it, it

would be a different thing, altogether. Then it would all be nice

and compact.”

The question of buying freehold land recurred to him again and again.

He went on in the same way for three years; renting land and sowing

wheat. The seasons turned out well and the crops were good, so that

he began to lay money by. He might have gone on living contentedly,

but he grew tired of having to rent other people’s land every year,

and having to scramble for it. Wherever there was good land to be

had, the peasants would rush for it and it was taken up at once, so

that unless you were sharp about it you got none. It happened in

the third year that he and a dealer together rented a piece of

pasture land from some peasants; and they had already ploughed it

up, when there was some dispute, and the peasants went to law about

it, and things fell out so that the labor was all lost.

“If it were my own land,” thought Pahom, “I should be independent,

and there would not be all this unpleasantness.”

So Pahom began looking out for land which he could buy; and he came

across a peasant who had bought thirteen hundred acres, but having

got into difficulties was willing to sell again cheap. Pahom

bargained and haggled with him, and at last they settled the price

at 1,500 roubles, part in cash and part to be paid later. They had

all but clinched the matter, when a passing dealer happened to stop

at Pahom’s one day to get a feed for his horse. He drank tea with

Pahom, and they had a talk. The dealer said that he was just

returning from the land of the Bashkirs, far away, where he had

bought thirteen thousand acres of land all for 1,000 roubles. Pahom

questioned him further, and the tradesman said:

“All one need do is to make friends with the chiefs. I gave away

about one hundred roubles’ worth of dressing-gowns and carpets,

besides a case of tea, and I gave wine to those who would drink it;

and I got the land for less than two cents an acre. And he showed

Pahom the title-deeds, saying:

“The land lies near a river, and the whole prairie is virgin soil.”

Pahom plied him with questions, and the tradesman said:

“There is more land there than you could cover if you walked a year,

and it all belongs to the Bashkirs. They are as simple as sheep,

and land can be got almost for nothing.”

“There now,” thought Pahom, “with my one thousand roubles, why

should I get only thirteen hundred acres, and saddle myself with a

debt besides. If I take it out there, I can get more than ten times

as much for the money.”

V

Pahom inquired how to get to the place, and as soon as the tradesman

had left him, he prepared to go there himself. He left his wife to

look after the homestead, and started on his journey taking his man

with him. They stopped at a town on their way, and bought a case of

tea, some wine, and other presents, as the tradesman had advised.

On and on they went until they had gone more than three hundred

miles, and on the seventh day they came to a place where the

Bashkirs had pitched their tents. It was all just as the tradesman

had said. The people lived on the steppes, by a river, in felt-

covered tents. They neither tilled the ground, nor ate bread.

Their cattle and horses grazed in herds on the steppe. The colts

were tethered behind the tents, and the mares were driven to them

twice a day. The mares were milked, and from the milk kumiss was

made. It was the women who prepared kumiss, and they also made

cheese. As far as the men were concerned, drinking kumiss and tea,

eating mutton, and playing on their pipes, was all they cared about.

They were all stout and merry, and all the summer long they never

thought of doing any work. They were quite ignorant, and knew no

Russian, but were good-natured enough.

As soon as they saw Pahom, they came out of their tents and gathered

round their visitor. An interpreter was found, and Pahom told them

he had come about some land. The Bashkirs seemed very glad; they

took Pahom and led him into one of the best tents, where they made

him sit on some down cushions placed on a carpet, while they sat

round him. They gave him tea and kumiss, and had a sheep killed,

and gave him mutton to eat. Pahom took presents out of his cart and

distributed them among the Bashkirs, and divided amongst them the

tea. The Bashkirs were delighted. They talked a great deal among

themselves, and then told the interpreter to translate.

“They wish to tell you,” said the interpreter, “that they like you,

and that it is our custom to do all we can to please a guest and to

repay him for his gifts. You have given us presents, now tell us

which of the things we possess please you best, that we may present

them to you.”

“What pleases me best here,” answered Pahom, “is your land. Our

land is crowded, and the soil is exhausted; but you have plenty of

land and it is good land. I never saw the like of it.”

The interpreter translated. The Bashkirs talked among themselves

for a while. Pahom could not understand what they were saying, but

saw that they were much amused, and that they shouted and laughed.

Then they were silent and looked at Pahom while the interpreter said:

“They wish me to tell you that in return for your presents they will

gladly give you as much land as you want. You have only to point it

out with your hand and it is yours.”

The Bashkirs talked again for a while and began to dispute. Pahom

asked what they were disputing about, and the interpreter told him

that some of them thought they ought to ask their Chief about the

land and not act in his absence, while others thought there was no

need to wait for his return.

VI

While the Bashkirs were disputing, a man in a large fox-fur cap

appeared on the scene. They all became silent and rose to their

feet. The interpreter said, “This is our Chief himself.”

Pahom immediately fetched the best dressing-gown and five pounds of

tea, and offered these to the Chief. The Chief accepted them, and

seated himself in the place of honour. The Bashkirs at once began

telling him something. The Chief listened for a while, then made a

sign with his head for them to be silent, and addressing himself to

Pahom, said in Russian:

“Well, let it be so. Choose whatever piece of land you like; we

have plenty of it.”

“How can I take as much as I like?” thought Pahom. “I must get a

deed to make it secure, or else they may say, ‘It is yours,’ and

afterwards may take it away again.”

“Thank you for your kind words,” he said aloud. “You have much

land, and I only want a little. But I should like to be sure which

bit is mine. Could it not be measured and made over to me? Life and

death are in God’s hands. You good people give it to me, but your

children might wish to take it away again.”

“You are quite right,” said the Chief. “We will make it over to you.”

“I heard that a dealer had been here,” continued Pahom, “and that

you gave him a little land, too, and signed title-deeds to that

effect. I should like to have it done in the same way.”

The Chief understood.

“Yes,” replied he, “that can be done quite easily. We have a scribe,

and we will go to town with you and have the deed properly sealed.”

“And what will be the price?” asked Pahom.

“Our price is always the same: one thousand roubles a day.”

Pahom did not understand.

“A day? What measure is that? How many acres would that be?”

“We do not know how to reckon it out,” said the Chief. “We sell it

by the day. As much as you can go round on your feet in a day is

yours, and the price is one thousand roubles a day.”

Pahom was surprised.

“But in a day you can get round a large tract of land,” he said.

The Chief laughed.

“It will all be yours!” said he. “But there is one condition: If

you don’t return on the same day to the spot whence you started,

your money is lost.”

“But how am I to mark the way that I have gone?”

“Why, we shall go to any spot you like, and stay there. You must

start from that spot and make your round, taking a spade with you.

Wherever you think necessary, make a mark. At every turning, dig a

hole and pile up the turf; then afterwards we will go round with a

plough from hole to hole. You may make as large a circuit as you

please, but before the sun sets you must return to the place you

started from. All the land you cover will be yours.”

Pahom was delighted. It-was decided to start early next morning.

They talked a while, and after drinking some more kumiss and eating

some more mutton, they had tea again, and then the night came on.

They gave Pahom a feather-bed to sleep on, and the Bashkirs

dispersed for the night, promising to assemble the next morning at

daybreak and ride out before sunrise to the appointed spot.

VII

Pahom lay on the feather-bed, but could not sleep. He kept thinking

about the land.

“What a large tract I will mark off!” thought he. “I can easily go

thirty-five miles in a day. The days are long now, and within a

circuit of thirty-five miles what a lot of land there will be! I

will sell the poorer land, or let it to peasants, but I’ll pick out

the best and farm it. I will buy two ox-teams, and hire two more

laborers. About a hundred and fifty acres shall be plough-land, and

I will pasture cattle on the rest.”

Pahom lay awake all night, and dozed off only just before dawn.

Hardly were his eyes closed when he had a dream. He thought he was

lying in that same tent, and heard somebody chuckling outside. He

wondered who it could be, and rose and went out, and he saw the

Bashkir Chief sitting in front of the tent holding his side and

rolling about with laughter. Going nearer to the Chief, Pahom

asked: “What are you laughing at?” But he saw that it was no longer

the Chief, but the dealer who had recently stopped at his house and

had told him about the land. Just as Pahom was going to ask, “Have

you been here long?” he saw that it was not the dealer, but the

peasant who had come up from the Volga, long ago, to Pahom’s old

home. Then he saw that it was not the peasant either, but the Devil

himself with hoofs and horns, sitting there and chuckling, and

before him lay a man barefoot, prostrate on the ground, with only

trousers and a shirt on. And Pahom dreamt that he looked more

attentively to see what sort of a man it was lying there, and he saw

that the man was dead, and that it was himself! He awoke horror-struck.

“What things one does dream,” thought he.

Looking round he saw through the open door that the dawn was breaking.

“It’s time to wake them up,” thought he. “We ought to be starting.”

He got up, roused his man (who was sleeping in his cart), bade him

harness; and went to call the Bashkirs.

“It’s time to go to the steppe to measure the land,” he said.

The Bashkirs rose and assembled, and the Chief came, too. Then they

began drinking kumiss again, and offered Pahom some tea, but he

would not wait.

“If we are to go, let us go. It is high time,” said he.

VIII

The Bashkirs got ready and they all started: some mounted on horses,

and some in carts. Pahom drove in his own small cart with his

servant, and took a spade with him. When they reached the steppe,

the morning red was beginning to kindle. They ascended a hillock

(called by the Bashkirs a shikhan) and dismounting from their carts

and their horses, gathered in one spot. The Chief came up to Pahom

and stretched out his arm towards the plain:

“See,” said he, “all this, as far as your eye can reach, is ours.

You may have any part of it you like.”

Pahom’s eyes glistened: it was all virgin soil, as flat as the palm

of your hand, as black as the seed of a poppy, and in the hollows

different kinds of grasses grew breast high.

The Chief took off his fox-fur cap, placed it on the ground and said:

“This will be the mark. Start from here, and return here again.

All the land you go round shall be yours.”

Pahom took out his money and put it on the cap. Then he took off

his outer coat, remaining in his sleeveless under coat. He

unfastened his girdle and tied it tight below his stomach, put a

little bag of bread into the breast of his coat, and tying a flask

of water to his girdle, he drew up the tops of his boots, took the

spade from his man, and stood ready to start. He considered for

some moments which way he had better go–it was tempting everywhere.

“No matter,” he concluded, “I will go towards the rising sun.”

He turned his face to the east, stretched himself, and waited for

the sun to appear above the rim.

“I must lose no time,” he thought, “and it is easier walking while

it is still cool.”

The sun’s rays had hardly flashed above the horizon, before Pahom,

carrying the spade over his shoulder, went down into the steppe.

Pahom started walking neither slowly nor quickly. After having gone

a thousand yards he stopped, dug a hole and placed pieces of turf

one on another to make it more visible. Then he went on; and now

that he had walked off his stiffness he quickened his pace. After a

while he dug another hole.

Pahom looked back. The hillock could be distinctly seen in the

sunlight, with the people on it, and the glittering tires of the

cartwheels. At a rough guess Pahom concluded that he had walked

three miles. It was growing warmer; he took off his under-coat,

flung it across his shoulder, and went on again. It had grown quite

warm now; he looked at the sun, it was time to think of breakfast.

“The first shift is done, but there are four in a day, and it is too

soon yet to turn. But I will just take off my boots,” said he to himself.

He sat down, took off his boots, stuck them into his girdle, and went on.

It was easy walking now.

“I will go on for another three miles,” thought he, “and then turn

to the left. The spot is so fine, that it would be a pity to lose

  1. The further one goes, the better the land seems.”

He went straight on a for a while, and when he looked round, the

hillock was scarcely visible and the people on it looked like black

ants, and he could just see something glistening there in the sun.

“Ah,” thought Pahom, “I have gone far enough in this direction, it

is time to turn. Besides I am in a regular sweat, and very thirsty.”

He stopped, dug a large hole, and heaped up pieces of turf. Next he

untied his flask, had a drink, and then turned sharply to the left.

He went on and on; the grass was high, and it was very hot.

Pahom began to grow tired: he looked at the sun and saw that it was noon.

“Well,” he thought, “I must have a rest.”

He sat down, and ate some bread and drank some water; but he did not

lie down, thinking that if he did he might fall asleep. After

sitting a little while, he went on again. At first he walked

easily: the food had strengthened him; but it had become terribly

hot, and he felt sleepy; still he went on, thinking: “An hour to

suffer, a life-time to live.”

He went a long way in this direction also, and was about to turn to

the left again, when he perceived a damp hollow: “It would be a pity

to leave that out,” he thought. “Flax would do well there.” So he

went on past the hollow, and dug a hole on the other side of it

before he turned the corner. Pahom looked towards the hillock. The

heat made the air hazy: it seemed to be quivering, and through the

haze the people on the hillock could scarcely be seen.

“Ah!” thought Pahom, “I have made the sides too long; I must make

this one shorter.” And he went along the third side, stepping

faster. He looked at the sun: it was nearly half way to the

horizon, and he had not yet done two miles of the third side of the

square. He was still ten miles from the goal.

“No,” he thought, “though it will make my land lopsided, I must

hurry back in a straight line now. I might go too far, and as it is

I have a great deal of land.”

So Pahom hurriedly dug a hole, and turned straight towards the hillock.

IX

Pahom went straight towards the hillock, but he now walked with

difficulty. He was done up with the heat, his bare feet were cut

and bruised, and his legs began to fail. He longed to rest, but it

was impossible if he meant to get back before sunset. The sun waits

for no man, and it was sinking lower and lower.

“Oh dear,” he thought, “if only I have not blundered trying for too

much! What if I am too late?”

He looked towards the hillock and at the sun. He was still far from

his goal, and the sun was already near the rim. Pahom walked on and

on; it was very hard walking, but he went quicker and quicker. He

pressed on, but was still far from the place. He began running,

threw away his coat, his boots, his flask, and his cap, and kept

only the spade which he used as a support.

“What shall I do,” he thought again, “I have grasped too much, and

ruined the whole affair. I can’t get there before the sun sets.”

And this fear made him still more breathless. Pahom went on

running, his soaking shirt and trousers stuck to him, and his mouth

was parched. His breast was working like a blacksmith’s bellows,

his heart was beating like a hammer, and his legs were giving way as

if they did not belong to him. Pahom was seized with terror lest he

should die of the strain.

Though afraid of death, he could not stop. “After having run all

that way they will call me a fool if I stop now,” thought he. And

he ran on and on, and drew near and heard the Bashkirs yelling and

shouting to him, and their cries inflamed his heart still more. He

gathered his last strength and ran on.

The sun was close to the rim, and cloaked in mist looked large, and

red as blood. Now, yes now, it was about to set! The sun was quite

low, but he was also quite near his aim. Pahom could already see

the people on the hillock waving their arms to hurry him up. He

could see the fox-fur cap on the ground, and the money on it, and

the Chief sitting on the ground holding his sides. And Pahom

remembered his dream.

“There is plenty of land,” thought he, “but will God let me live on

it? I have lost my life, I have lost my life! I shall never reach

that spot!”

Pahom looked at the sun, which had reached the earth: one side of it

had already disappeared. With all his remaining strength he rushed

on, bending his body forward so that his legs could hardly follow

fast enough to keep him from falling. Just as he reached the

hillock it suddenly grew dark. He looked up–the sun had already

set. He gave a cry: “All my labor has been in vain,” thought he,

and was about to stop, but he heard the Bashkirs still shouting, and

remembered that though to him, from below, the sun seemed to have

set, they on the hillock could still see it. He took a long breath

and ran up the hillock. It was still light there. He reached the

top and saw the cap. Before it sat the Chief laughing and holding

his sides. Again Pahom remembered his dream, and he uttered a cry:

his legs gave way beneath him, he fell forward and reached the cap

with his hands.

“Ah, what a fine fellow!” exclaimed the Chief. “He has gained

much land!”

Pahom’s servant came running up and tried to raise him, but he saw

that blood was flowing from his mouth. Pahom was dead!

The Bashkirs clicked their tongues to show their pity.

His servant picked up the spade and dug a grave long enough for

Pahom to lie in, and buried him in it. Six feet from his head to

his heels was all he needed.

(ack:online-literature.com)

The End

footnotes:

1. One hundred kopeks make a rouble. The kopek is worth about
half a cent.

2. A non-intoxicating drink usually made from rye-malt and rye-flour.

3. The brick oven in a Russian peasant’s hut is usually built so
as to leave a flat top, large enough to lie on, for those who want
to sleep in a warm place.

4. 120 “desyatins.” The “desyatina” is properly 2.7 acres; but in
this story round numbers are used.

5. Three roubles per “desyatina.”

6. Five “kopeks” for a “desyatina.”

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