The cycle consists of 25 short stories, which are sketches of the life of the landlords and petty nobility of the first half of the XIX century.
Chor and Kalinych
The difference between the appearance and life of the peasants of the Orel and Kaluga provinces is striking. Orel man is short, stooped, sullen, lives in aspen groves, goes to the corvee and wears bast shoes. Kaluga vobrochny muzhik lives in spacious pine huts, is tall, looks boldly, his face is clean and white, he trades and walks in boots during holidays.
While hunting in Zhizdrinsky district, I met a Kaluga landowner, Polutykin. Despite some oddities, Polutykin was a passionate hunter and an excellent man. On the first day he invited me to spend the night in his own estate. However, before the estate was far away, so on the way we drove to Khorya, one of the men Polutykin.
His manor, consisting of several pine log houses, towered on a cleared forest clearing. Choria was not at home. We met his son Fedya and led him to the hut. In the hut was clean, you could not see neither the Prussians nor the cockroaches. Soon on the cart to the house drove the rest of the sons of Khorya – six young giants, very similar to each other. We sat in a cart and half an hour later we drove into the courtyard of the manor house.
Over dinner, I asked Polutykin why the Horus lives separately from other peasants. Polutykin said that about 25 years ago the house of Khory in the village burned down, and he came to Father Polutykin with a request to move him to the swamp, promising to pay a good rent for this. Polutykin Sr. agreed and put Horia payback 50 rubles. Since then, Horus has made a fortune and now pays as much as 100 rubles to pay. Polutykin suggested that Khorya pay off, but he refused, referring to the lack of money.
The next day we went hunting again. Driving through the village, we stopped at a low log hut to take with us Kalinych, a tall and thin peasant about forty years old. Kalinich was a man of the most gay and gentle nature. Every day he went with the master to go hunting, and without him Polutykin could not take a step.
At noon, when the heat became especially strong, Kalinych took us to his apiary, to the very backwoods, and treated him with fresh honey. The next day, Polutykin left for business in the city. On the hunt I went alone, and on the way back I turned to Khorya. Chor himself turned out to be bald, of short stature, a broad-shouldered man with a curly beard. Talking with Horem, I noticed that he was a man on his mind.
I spent the night in the hayloft near Khor. In the morning, at breakfast, I asked Hory why all the children, all but Fedi, married, live with him. “They themselves want it, and they live” – answered the Chorus. Suddenly, a familiar voice came from behind the door and Kalinych entered the hut with a bunch of wild strawberries for his friend Khor. I did not expect such “tenderness” from the peasant.
The next three days I spent with Khor, with pleasure watching Khorem and Kalinych. Both friends were completely different from each other. The chorus was a rationalist, a positive and practical person. Kalinych was a dreamy romanticist and idealist. The horse perfectly settled, started a big family, saved up money, got along with the master and other authorities. Kalynych walked in bast shoes and interrupted somehow. Once he had a wife whom he was afraid, but there were no children at all. The chorus was seen right through Mr. Polutykin, and Kalinych reverenced his master. Kalynych stood closer to nature, he spoke blood, fear, rabies, drove worms, bees were given to him. The chorus was closer to the society.
Learning that I was abroad, Chor asked me about the customs and customs there. Kalinich was more interested in descriptions of nature and cities. Khor’s knowledge was vast in its own way, but, unlike Kalinich, he could not read. Bab Chorus despised from the bottom of the heart, and often teshilsya and mocked them. He often teased Kalynych that he does not know how to live and can not even even make his boots. Kalinich had a good voice, often sang, and Horus eagerly sang along with him.
On the fourth day, Polutykin sent for me. I was sorry to part with Khorem and Kalinych.
Ermolai and millericha
In the evening, we went with Ermolai to hunt woodcocks. Yermolai is a hunter, a man of about 45, tall, thin, with a long nose, narrow forehead, gray eyes and wide, mocking lips. All the year round he walked in a caftan of German cut and blue trousers. Yermolay had an old flintlock and a dog named Valetka, which he never fed. Ermolai belonged to my neighbor, an old-fashioned landowner. The landowner refused him, as from a man not fit for any work. His only duty was to deliver several pairs of black grouses and partridges to the master’s kitchen once a month.
Ermolai was carefree, like a bird. He constantly got into various alterations, and always returned home unscathed with a gun and with a dog. Not being a jolly fellow, he was always in a good mood and liked to talk. Yermolay had a wife who lived in a dilapidated hut and suffered hardship. He appeared at home once a week and treated his wife cruelly and rudely. At home he never stayed more than a day, and on the side of the house tyrant again turned into Ermolka, who was known for a hundred miles in the district.
Hunting we went to a large birch grove on the shore of Isti. Wishing to try our luck the next morning, we decided to spend the night at the nearest mill. When we came to the mill, it was already dark, and the owners did not want to let us in. In the end, we decided to buy straw from the miller and spend the night in the street under a canopy. Melnichikha brought us food. While Ermolai was baking in the ashes of potatoes, I dozed off.
A slight whisper woke me. I looked up and saw a woman whose pale face still contained traces of her former beauty. By reprimand, I recognized her as a domestic woman. It was the miller of Arina. She spoke quietly to Ermolai. He called her to “stay” and promised to drive his wife away. I got up and spoke to her. From Arina, I learned that she was the maid of the wife of Count Zverkov.
In Petersburg I was acquainted with Count Zverkov, who occupied a rather important place. From him I heard the story of Arina. Zverkov’s wife was plump, sensitive and angry. She had a firm rule: not to keep married housemaids. After 10 years of faithful service, the beautiful Arina, the daughter of the elder, began to ask Zverkov permission to marry. She was refused. After a while it turned out that Arina was pregnant with Peter’s lackey. Zverkov ordered to shave the girl, put it on rags and send him to the village.
From Ermolai I learned that the child of Arina had died. For two years she was married to a miller who bought it from the master. The footman Petrushka was given up as a soldier.
On a hot August day, I happened to be on the hunt. With difficulty I reached the key called “Raspberry Water”, striking from the high bank of Ista, got drunk and lay down in the shade. Not far from me two old men sat and fished the fish. In one of them, thin, small, in a patched coat, I recognized Stepushka.
Stepushka lived in the village of Shumihono at the gardener Mitrofan. Stepushka did not have a past. Who he is, where, what he lives of – no one knew about this. Nobody spoke to him, and he himself, it seems, did not open the mouth of the mouth. Mitrofan did not invite him to his home, but he did not drive him either. All day Stepushka was busy noiselessly and painfully, like an ant, and all just for the sake of eating. He had a small face, yellow eyes, hair to the eyebrows, a pointed little nose, large and transparent, like a bat, ears and a thin beard.
In Comrade Stepushka, I recognized Mikhailo Saveliev, nicknamed Tuman. He was a freedman of the Count Pyotr Ilyich *** and lived with the Bolshevik philistine, the innkeeper. The huge two-story wooden house, where the inn was located, belonged to Peter Ilyich, a wealthy nobleman of the last century. Many old residents still remember his feasts for the whole province. Disorganized, he went to Petersburg to look for places, and died in the hotel room. The fog served as his butler. He was a man of about 70, with a pleasant face and a good-natured smile.
I approached and started a conversation. The fog began to recollect the deceased count. He remembered the hunts and feasts that Pyotr Ilyich arranged, and his numerous mistresses. The Count chose them from the low estate. The most beautiful and wicked was Akulina, the daughter of the Sithovsky Titian.
Suddenly there was a noise in the ravine behind us. I looked back and saw a man of about 50 with a knapsack behind his shoulders. The fog named him Vlas. The peasant said that he went to Moscow to his master to ask him to reduce his rent or put him in corvee. Vlas died only son, who used to pay a rent for his father. The master was angry and drove him out. The fog asked how he would live, and Vlas, with a smile on his face and with tears in his eyes, answered that there was now nothing to take from him.
I asked how much money the master assigned to him. Ninety rubles – Vlas replied and complained that the land is small, one man’s forest, and even that sold. He sat down beside us and was deeply embarrassed. After half an hour we parted.
One autumn, returning from the hunt, I fell ill. Fever caught me in the hotel of a county town. I sent for the doctor. The county physician was a man of small stature, thin and black-haired. We talked, and he told me a story I bring here.
Once, in the great fast, the doctors were called to the sick. She was the daughter of a poor landowner, widow, and lived 20 miles from the city. The road was infernal, and the doctor struggled to reach a small, straw-covered house. The old landowner immediately took the doctor to the sick woman, followed by her two sisters. The sick girl was about 20 years old. When carrying out the necessary procedures, the doctor noticed that his patient was a rare beauty.
After the patient fell asleep, the tired doctor was given tea and put to bed, but he could not sleep. At last he could not stand it and went to look at the patient. The girl did not sleep, her fever and delirium began again. The next day the patient did not feel better. The doctor felt a strong disposition towards her and decided to stay. The family also liked this doctor. They were poor people, but they were extremely educated. Their father was a scientist, a writer. The books were the only wealth he left to the family. Doctors loved like a native.
Meanwhile, a terrible mudslide had become, even the medicine from the city was being delivered with difficulty. The patient did not recover. So passed day by day. The patient, Alexandra Andreevna, soon felt for the doctor a friendly disposition, which she took for love. Meanwhile, it was getting worse. The whole family had a blind trust in the doctor, which fell heavily on his shoulders. At night he sat around Alexandra’s bed, entertained her, and talked with her for a long time. She took medicine only from his hands.
Gradually the doctor began to understand that the girl would not survive. Alexandra also understood this. One night she made the doctor tell her the truth and said that she loved him. The doctor realized that this was not so – the girl was scared to die at 25 years old, without experiencing love. Alexandra kissed the doctor, and he could not resist. She lived for three more days and three nights, and every night the doctor spent with her. On the last night, a mother entered the room, and Alexandra told her that she was engaged to a doctor.
The next day the girl died. Since then, the doctor managed to marry a lazy and evil merchant’s daughter with a large dowry.
My neighbor Radilov
One autumn, Ermolai and I hunted woodcocks in an abandoned linden garden, many in Orel province. It turned out that this garden belongs to the landowner Radilov. He invited me to dinner, and I had no choice but to agree. Radilov led me through the kitchen garden to an old, gray house with a narrow roof and a curved porch. Ermolai was brought vodka, and I was led to the living room and introduced to Radilov’s mother – a small old woman with a kind, thin face and sad look. In the drawing room there was also an old man of about 70, thin, bald and toothless. It was Fedor Mikheich, a ruined landlord who lived with Radilov out of mercy.
A girl, introduced to me by Olya, entered the room, and we sat down at the table. At dinner Radilov, who served in the infantry regiment, set off for the stories, and I watched Olga. She was very nice and watched Radilov with passionate attention. After lunch, Radilov and I went to his office. With surprise, I noticed that there is no passion for what makes up the life of all the other landowners. It seemed that his whole soul, kind and warm, was imbued with one feeling. Radilov was not a gloomy man, but he felt that he could not make friends with anyone, because he lived in an inner life.
Soon Olga called us to drink tea. She spoke very little, but she did not have the manner of a district girl. Her gaze was calm and indifferent, as if she rested from great happiness, and the movements were resolute and free. In conversation, Radilov remembered the deceased wife, whose sister was Olga. With a strange expression, Olga quickly got up and went out into the garden. At the entrance there was a knocking of wheels and a tall, broad-shouldered and dense old man came in, a Ovsyannikov monastery, about which I will tell in another passage. Next day Ermolae and I went hunting again.
A week later I again went to Radilov, but did not find at home neither him nor Olga. Two weeks later I found out that he had left his mother and had gone somewhere with his sister-in-law. Only then did I understand Olga’s expression: it was blazing with jealousy. Before leaving the village, I visited the Old Lady Radilov, and asked if there was any news from my son. The old woman cried, and I did not ask her about Radilov.
The Ovsyannikov Monastery
Ovsyannikov was a full, high-born, 70-year-old, with a face resembling Krylov’s face. With his clothes and manner of holding, he was like a well-to-do merchant. His importance, intelligence, laziness, perseverance and directness, he reminded me of the Russian boyars of pre-Petrine times. It was one of the last people of the old age. All the neighbors respected him very much. He lived with his wife in a cozy house, he dressed his people in Russian and called the workers, and did not betray himself for the nobleman. Out of habit, Ovsyannikov adhered to ancient customs, but he shaved his beard and cut his hair in German.
Selling bread Ovsyannikov considered for sin, and during the famine in the 40th year, distributed to the surrounding landowners all their stock. He was often approached by neighbors with a request to judge and always obeyed his advice. And he found his wife on his own. Tatiana Ilinichna Ovsyannikova was a woman of high, important and silent. Many poor people called her benefactress. The right features still retain the remains of her famous beauty. The children did not have Ovsyannikovs.
I met him at Radilov’s and two days later I went to see him. He took me kindly and majestically. We talked about how people lived before, and how they live now. Against my expectation, Luka Petrovich Ovsyannikov did not praise the old time. He remembered how the homeless people were defenseless before the richer and stronger. Including I remembered my deceased grandfather, who took the wedge of the earth from him. I did not know what to answer Ovsyannikov, and did not dare look into his face.
Ovsyannikov also told about his other neighbor, Stepan Nikopoliyonych Komove. He liked very much to drink Komov and treat others to others, and if anyone refused to shoot, he threatened. Father Ovsyannikov fell in love with him. Slightly Komov did not drive him into the coffin, but he himself died: a drunk fell from the pigeon. He remembered Ovsyannikov how he lived in Moscow, saw there many nobles, including Count Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov-Chesmensky, whose uncle Luke Petrovich served as a butler. There was a graph of tall stature and a mighty build, every man before his own person allowed and up to all the hunter was. He arranged somehow dog races, to which hunters from all over Russia came. All of them then rode Milovidka, my grandfather’s dog.
I asked Ovsyannikov if he liked hunting. He replied that it was embarrassing for him to follow the nobles-only to shame himself. Very surprised Ovsyannikov modern nobles: and people are scientists, and in matters do not know anything. As an example, he brought Vasily Nikolaevich Lubozonov, who received the estate as a legacy from his mother. The first time he went out to the men dressed as a coachman, and then began to live in his own estate as a stranger.
We had tea. Tatyana Ilinichna spoke with her husband about his neputevom nephew Mitya. He quit his service, began to compose requests and slanders for the peasants, and to take land surveyors to the surface. Finally, Ovsyannikov agreed to forgive him, and Mitya entered the room. He was a guy of 28, tall, slender and curly. He believed that he stood for truth, he did not take from the poor and he had nothing to be ashamed of.
Suddenly the door opened and Franz Ivanovich Lezhen, my neighbor and the Oryol landowner, entered. He was born in Orleans, and came to Russia during the war with Napoleon. On the way back, he fell into the hands of Smolensk peasants, who were going to drown him in the ice-hole of the river Gniloterki. The landowner passed by and bought the Frenchman from the peasants. From this landowner Lezhen moved to another, married his pupil, gave his daughter in marriage to the Oryol landowner Lobyzanyev, and moved himself to live in the Eagle. With Ovsyannikov, Lezhen was in friendship.
One day Ermolai invited me to go to Lgov – to hunt for ducks. Lgov is a large village on the marshy river Rosote. About 5 versts from Lgov this river turns into a wide pond, overgrown with thick reeds. There were countless ducks of all possible breeds on this pond. It was difficult to hunt in this pond: dogs could not get shot from wild reed thickets. We decided to go to Lgov for a boat.
Suddenly, because of dense rakits, a middle-aged man with shabby clothes and hollow boots came out to meet us. He looked about 25 years old, his long fair-haired hair stuck out with immovable braids, small brown eyes blinked affably, and his face, tied with a black kerchief, smiled. He introduced himself as Vladimir and offered us his services.
On the way to Lgov I learned his story. Vladimir was freed, in his youth studied music, then served as valet, was literate and read books. He expressed himself very elegantly, as a provincial actor, playing the first lovers, for which he was loved by the girls. I asked why he tied his face with a handkerchief. Vladimir said that this is his friend, an inexperienced hunter, accidentally shot him the chin and index finger of his right hand.
We reached Lgov, and Ermolai decided to take a boat from a man named Suuchok. The barefooted and disheveled Bitches looked like 60 years old. He had a boat, but it was bad. We still decided to use it, hammering the pencil cracks. I asked the Bitch whether he had been a fisherman here for a long time. It turned out that Suchot changed many classes and hosts before he was in Lgov. He was a coachman, a cook, a gardener, and even an actor; changed five owners, and now he was made a fisherman on a pond where there was absolutely no fish. He was not married – his late lady, an old maiden, did not allow the householders to marry.
Finally the boat was ready, and we went on a hunt. By dinner our boat was full of game. We were already going to return to the village, when suddenly an unpleasant incident happened to us. The boat was gradually leaking, and Vladimir was instructed to bail out the water. Carried away by the hunt, he forgot about his duties. Suddenly, from the sharp movement of Ermolai, our dilapidated boat tilted and solemnly sank to the bottom. After a moment we were already up to our throats in the water, surrounded by bodies of ducks.
The water was very cold. Cane grew around. In the distance, above their tops, could be seen the shore. Ermolai went to look for a ford. He did not return for more than an hour, and we managed to freeze. Yermolay brought us out of the pond only in the evening. Two hours later we were already sitting, dried, in a big hay barn and were about to supper.
On a fine July day I hunted for black grouses in the Chern district of the Tula province. It was already evening when I decided to return home. I climbed the hill and instead of the familiar places I saw a narrow valley, opposite the wall a towering aspen rose. I went along the aspen tree, rounded the hill and found myself in a ravine. It looked like a cauldron with sloping sides, at the bottom of it there were a few large white stones – it seemed they had crept there for a secret meeting. In the valley it was so deaf and dejected that my heart sank.
I realized that I had finally lost my way and decided to follow the stars. Suddenly I saw a huge plain underneath, which was swirled around by a wide river. Directly beneath me in the darkness burned and smoked two bonfires. I realized that I went to Bezhin Meadow. My legs were shaking with fatigue. I went down to the campfires and found the children who took the horses to the night.
I lay down and watched the boys. From the conversations I realized that they were called Fedya, Pavlusha, Ilyusha, Kostya and Vanya. The oldest of them, Fedya, was 14 years old. It was a slender, handsome boy who, judging by his clothes, belonged to a wealthy family. Pavlusha had an unpleasant appearance, but his eyes were intelligent and direct, and his voice sounded powerful. The eloquent, elongated and furtive face of Ilyusha expressed dull care. And he and Pavlusha were no more than 12 years old. Kostya, a small, frail boy of about 10, struck a thoughtful and sad look. Vanya, who had eaten on the sidelines, was only 7 years old.
I pretended to be asleep, and the boys continued the conversation. Ilyusha began to talk about how he had to spend the night with the company of the guys at a paper mill. Suddenly, someone was stomping up, then he went down the stairs, approached the door. The door flew open, and behind it – no one. And then suddenly someone coughs up. I scared the house boys.
A new story began Kostya. Once the carpenter Gavrila went into the woods for nuts and lost his way. It’s getting dark. Gavrila sat down under a tree and dozed off. He woke up because someone was calling him. Gavrila watches – and on the tree the mermaid sits, calls him to him and laughs. Gavrila took and crossed himself. The mermaid stopped laughing, she began to cry plaintively. Gavril asked why she was crying. She cries because Gavrila has crossed herself – the mermaid answered. If he had not been baptized, he would have been happy with her, and now he will be crying even to the end of the day. Since then, Gavrila the unhappy is walking.
In the distance there was a long sound, in the forest they responded with a thin laughter. The boys jumped and crossed themselves. Ilyusha told a story that happened on a broken dam, an unclean place. Once upon a time there was buried a drowned man. Once an orderly sent a hacker Ermil to the post office. He returned through the dam late at night. Suddenly sees Ermil: on the grave of a drowned man a white sheep is sitting. I decided to take him with me. The lamb does not break out of his hands, only looks into his eyes. Ermila became terrible, he was ironing lamb and said: “Byasha, byasha!”. A lamb pointed his teeth, and answered him: “Byasha, byasha!”.
Suddenly the dogs barked and rushed away. Pavlusha rushed after them. Soon he returned and said that the dogs smelled the wolf. I was amazed at the courage of the boy. Ilyusha meanwhile told how the deceased master, who was looking for a rift-grass, was greeted in an unclean place-it was a very grave that was pressing him. The next story was about the woman Ulyana, who went to the parental Saturday night at the porch to find out who would die this year. Looks – the woman is coming; I looked closely, and this is herself, Ulyana. Then Ilyusha told a story about the amazing man Trishka, who will come during a solar eclipse.
After a pause, the boys began to discuss how the woodpecker differs from watering. Kostya talked about the boy who was dragged by the water under the water. The children fell asleep just before sunrise. In the same year Paul was killed by falling from a horse.
Kasyan with the Beautiful Swords
On a stifling summer day, I returned from hunting in a jolting cart. Suddenly my coachman was worried. Looking forward, I saw that the funeral train was crossing our path. It was a bad omen, and the coachman began to drive the horses to catch the road before the train. We did not pass a hundred paces, as our trolley broke the axis. Meanwhile, the deceased overtook us. The coachman Erofei reported that they were burying Martyn the carpenter.
We made our way to the Yudin settlement in order to buy a new axle there. There was not a soul in the settlements. Finally I saw a man sleeping in the middle of the courtyard in the sun, and woke him up. I was struck by his appearance. It was a 50-year-old dwarf with a swarthy, wrinkled face, small brown eyes and a cap of thick, curly, black hair. His body was puny, and his gaze was strangely strange. His voice was surprisingly young and feminine. The driver called him Kasyan
After much persuasion, the old man agreed to see me off the hook. Erofei harnessed Kasyanov’s horse, and we set out on our journey. In the office, I quickly bought an axle and went deep into the trimmings, hoping to hunt for black grouses. Kasyan was following me. It was not without reason that he was nicknamed Flea: he walked very quickly, tore off some grass and looked at me with a strange look.
Not having come across any brood, we entered the grove. I lay down on the grass. Suddenly Kasyan spoke to me. He said that the domestic creature is a god defined for man, and it is a sin to kill a forest creature. The old man’s speech sounded not masculine, it was a solemn and strange language. I asked Kasyan what he was doing. He replied that he was working poorly, and was fishing with nightingales for the pleasure of the human. He was literate, he did not have a family. Sometimes Kasyan treated people with herbs, and in the district he was considered a fool. They moved them from the Beautiful Sword 4 years ago, and Kasyan missed his native places. Taking advantage of his special position, Kasyan went around half-Russia.
Suddenly Kasyan flinched, staring intently into the thicket of the forest. I looked back and saw a peasant girl in a blue sarafan and with a wicker basket on her arm. The old man kindly called her, calling Alenushka. When she came closer, I saw that she was older than I thought, about 13 or 14 years old. She was small and slender, slender and dexterous. The pretty girl was strikingly similar to Kasyan: the same sharp features, movements and cunning eyes. I asked if he was his daughter. With mock negligence, Kasyan answered that she was his relative, while in all his appearance passionate love and tenderness were visible.
The hunt was not successful, and we returned to the settlement, where Erofei was waiting for me with the axis. Approaching the court, Kasyan said that he had taken the game from me. I could not convince him of the impossibility of this. An hour later I left, leaving Kasyan with some money. On the way I asked Erofey what kind of man Kasyan was. The coachman said that at first Kasyan with his uncles went to cart, and then abandoned, he began to live at home. Erofei denied that Kasyan can heal, although he himself cured by scrofula. Alyonushka was an orphan, she lived with Kasyan. He did not want a soul in her, and was going to teach him to read and write.
We stopped several times to moisten the axis, which was heated by friction. It was already quite late when we returned home.
Not far from my estate there is a young landowner, an officer in retirement, Arkady Pavlovich Penochkin. He is a sensible and educated man, he cares for his subjects and punishes them for their own good. Growth is small and not bad. From his light brown eyes and ruddy cheeks, he is bursting with health and goodwill. Arkady Pavlovich is considered one of the most educated nobles and enviable grooms of our province. He is cautious, and was not involved in any story. His house in St. Petersburg is in enviable order. Arkady Pavlovich speaks in a soft and pleasant voice, abundantly peppering the speech with phrases in French. Despite all these advantages, I visit him reluctantly. In my house, I am struck by a strange uneasiness.
Once I had to spend the night with Arkady Pavlovich. In the morning he did not let me go without breakfast, during which a footman forgot to warm up the wine. Penochkin found out that I was going to Ryabovo, and decided to go with me – in the same places was his village Shipilovka. He very much praised the local bailiff Sofron, a “state man.”
With him Arkady Pavlovich seized the abyss of things and the cook. We drove for a long time, and came straight to Shipilovka. That day I had to forget about hunting and submit to my fate. At the outskirts of the village we met the headman, the son of the burmist, a huge red-haired man. Sofron himself was not at home. We drove through the village. At the sight of our carriage, people fell silent and fled. An alarming excitement spread through the village. The burmistress’s wife met us at the porch and kissed the arm of Arkady Pavlovich for a long time.
We already managed to settle in the cold hut when the burgher arrived. He was small, stout, broad-shouldered and gray, with a red nose, small blue eyes and a beard in the form of a fan. Entering the hut, he spoke in a sing-song manner and, with tears of emotion, kissed the master’s pen. We were served dinner, and the burmist all reported on business and complained that there was not enough land. He told how on the ground Penochkin found a dead body, and he ordered to take him to the land of neighbors and appeased the police officer. Penochkin was amused by this trick. Falling asleep, Penochkin noticed to me that since the administration of Sofron, there was no arrears behind the peasants.
The next day Arkady Pavlovich persuaded me to stay, to show me his estate. We were accompanied by Sofron. During the inspection, he pressed everything on the fact that there was not enough land, and Penochkin allowed to buy it on his behalf. Leaving the barn after inspecting the winnowing machine, we saw two men in patched shirts. The elder was called Antip. They came to complain about the bailiff. It turned out that Sofron paid the arrears for them and took them into bondage, and not just them. All the adult sons of Antipas Sofron gave to the soldiers, and the latter wanted to give. Arkady Pavlovich did not want to listen to them until the end. Until my departure he was pouting Sofron.
An hour later I was already in Ryabov and together with a familiar peasant Anadist was going to hunt. I spoke with the Anadist about Sofron. He told me that Shipilovka was only registered as Penkin, and that it was owned by the bailiff. He has much more land than Penochkin thinks, besides, the burmist is also engaged in trade. Antip somehow argued with the burmistre, and now Sofron takes revenge on him.
In the autumn I wandered with a gun through the fields. A fine and cold rain made me look for some kind of shelter. At the ancient old man who guarded the pea field, I learned the way to the nearest village. Finally, I reached a large village with a stone church. I went to the biggest hut, assuming that it was the dwelling of the elders, but I found an office there. A man of about 50 years old appeared to me, fat, low, with a bull’s neck, eyes bulging and very round cheeks. For a fee, the fat man agreed to shelter me and led me to the next room. From him I learned that this is the estate of Elena Nikolaevna Losnyakova.
Soon the clerk on duty brought me tea. He said that the fat man is the chief clerk. In addition to him, another 6 people work in the office. In the estate there is a bailiff and a headman from the Germans, but the lady is in charge of everything. In the office orders and orders are written for the captain and the elder who are signed only by Losnyakov.
I fell asleep. After 2 hours I woke up and heard voices in the office behind the partition. The chief clerk, Nikolai Eremeyich, was bargaining with a merchant. From the conversation I realized that before making a deal with the lady, the merchants pay bribes to the chief clerk. With peasants, Nikolai Eremeyich also took a “rent” and sent them for good work. Thinking that I was asleep, they did not hide their business.
There was a noise on the porch and a short man with an extraordinarily long nose, large immovable eyes and a proud post entered the office. He was carrying a bundle of wood, around him crowded courtyard people. From their cries I learned that the man was called Kupry. Previously, he was a tailor at the lady. She let the Kupri loose, but because of unhappy love, he returned and became a stoker, for which the whole mop was mocked.
Nicholas Eremeyich was summoned to the lady. Suddenly a loud voice was heard and a tall, disgruntled man came in, neatly dressed, with a wrong but expressive and bold face named Pavel. He was looking for the chief clerk. When Nikolai Eremeyich returned, Pavel demanded that Tatyana leave his bride alone. The chief clerk said the girl, she was transferred to dishwashers and was forbidden to marry. Pavel was a paramedic, and Nikolai took revenge on him because of unsuccessful treatment. With Paul’s father, he also feuded.
Yeremeich said that the lady would have to choose one of them. Pavel rushed to Yeremeyich with his fists. A week later I learned that Losnyakova had left both Pavel and Nikolay, and Tatyana had exiled.
I rode with hunting one evening, on the road droshky. A heavy thunderstorm caught me on the road. Somehow I was buried under a broad bush and waited patiently for the end of the storm. Suddenly, with a flash of lightning, I saw a tall figure on the road. It turned out to be a forester here. He took me to his house – a small hut in the middle of a vast courtyard surrounded by a fence. The hut consisted of one room. In the very middle hung a cradle with a baby, which was rocked by a barefoot girl of 12 years old. I realized that the hostess was not in the hut. From all angles poverty looked.
Finally I could see the forester. He was tall, broad-shouldered and well built, his stern and masculine face overgrown with a beard, his small brown eyes boldly looked out from under his broad brows. Forester introduced himself as Thomas, nicknamed Biryuk. From Ermolai I often heard stories about Biryuk, who all the neighboring peasants feared. From his forest it was impossible to bear even a bundle of brushwood – he was strong and courageous, like a demon. It was impossible to bribe him, and it’s not easy to survive with light.
I asked if he had a mistress. Biryuk answered with a cruel smile that his wife had left the children and fled with the passer-by. He could not give me a treat: there was nothing in the house except bread. Meanwhile, the thunderstorm ended and we went out into the yard. Biryuk said that he hears the sound of an ax; I did not hear anything. The forester took his gun, and we went to the place where the wood was cut. At the end of the road, Biryuk was ahead of me. I have heard the sounds of the struggle and the mournful cry. I hastened my step and soon saw a felled tree near which a forester bound the hands of a thief-a wet peasant in rags with a long, disheveled beard. I said that I would pay for the tree and asked to release the unhappy man. Biryuk said nothing.
Again the rain fell. With difficulty we reached the forest lodge. I made myself clear at all costs to free the poor man. By the light of the lantern, I could see his drenched, wrinkled face and lean body. Soon the peasant began to ask Foma to let him go, but the forester did not agree. Suddenly the peasant straightened up, a face appeared on his face, and he began scolding Biryuk, calling him a beast.
Biriuk grabbed the peasant, released his hands in one movement and ordered him to go to hell. I was surprised and realized that in fact Biryuk was a nice fellow. Half an hour later he said goodbye to me at the edge of the forest.
Let me introduce you to two landowners, whom I often hunted. The first of them is retired Major-General Vyacheslav Illarionovich Khvalynsky. Tall and once slender, he was not even decrepit today. True, once the right features of his face changed a little, cheeks hung, wrinkles appeared, but Vyacheslav Illarionovich stands briskly, laughs loudly, clinks his spurs and twists his mustache. He is a very kind person, but with rather strange habits. He can not treat the poor nobility as with peers, even his speech is changing at the same time.
He was a dreadful lunatic, and the owner was a bad one: he took to himself a retired sergeant, an extraordinarily stupid man. Khvalynsky is a great lover of women. In cards he likes to play only with people of lower rank. When he has to play with his superiors, he changes a lot and does not even complain about losing. Vyacheslav Illarionovich reads little, while reading he constantly stirs his mustache and eyebrows. He plays an important role in the elections, but he refuses to honor the title of marshal.
General Khvalynsky does not like to talk about his military past. He lives alone in a small house and is still considered an advantageous groom. His housekeeper, a full, fresh, black-eyed and black-browed woman of 35 years, on weekdays walks in starched dresses. At large dinner parties and public celebrations, General Khvalynsky feels at ease. Khvalynsky does not own a special gift, so he does not tolerate long disputes.
Mardary Apollonich Stepunov is like Khvalynsky only in one – he is also a bachelor. He did not serve anywhere and was not considered a handsome man. Mardary Apollonich is a short, chubby old man, bald, with a double chin, soft hands and belly. He is hospitable and a joker, he lives for his own pleasure. His estate... Stegunov engaged in a rather superficial and lives on the old way. People at it are dressed in an old fashion, the farm manager from muzhiks manages, and the house – the wrinkled and buying up old woman. Guests Mardarius Apollonich accepts hospitably and treats to glory.
Once I arrived to him on a summer evening, after the Vigil. After Stegunov dismissed the young priest, having treated him with vodka, we sat on the balcony. Suddenly he saw other people’s hens in the garden and sent the courtyard to Yushka to drive them out. Yushka and three other courtyards rushed to the hens, and went to the fun. It turned out that these were the hens of Ermil the coachman and Stegunov ordered them to be taken away. Then the conversation turned to the settlements, which were given a bad place. Mardary Apollonich said that there are disgraced peasants, especially two families who can not manage to lime. In the distance I heard strange sounds. It turned out that they punished Vaska the barman, who served us at dinner.
In a quarter of an hour I said goodbye to Stegunov. Passing through the village, I met Vasya and asked why he was punished. He replied that they had punished for the case, and you do not find such a master like them, and in the whole province.
About 5 years ago I was in Lebedyan at the height of the fair. I stopped at the hotel, changed clothes and went to the fair. A sexual at the hotel managed to inform me that Prince N. and many other masters had stopped at them. I wanted to buy three horses for my brichka. I found two, but I did not manage to pick up a third one.
After lunch I went to the coffee shop. In the billiard room, there were about 20 people, among whom I noticed Prince N, a young man of about 22, with a cheerful and somewhat contemptuous face. He played with the retired lieutenant Victor Khlopakov, a small, swarthy and thin man of about 30, with black hair, brown eyes and a blunt, snub nose. Khlopakov had the ability to please young Moscow rich men, at the expense of which he lived. The success of the lieutenant consisted in the fact that he used the same expression for a year or two, which is unknown why he was mixing his patrons. After a while this phrase ceased to make laugh, and Khlopakov began to look for a new patron.
The next day I went to see the horses to the famous saint Sitnikov. I liked the gray stallion in apples, and we started bargaining. Suddenly from behind the corner a three horses flew out, drawn in a dandy cart. In it sat Prince N. with Khlopakov. Sitnikov fussed and began to show the prince the best horses. I did not wait for the end of the deal and left.
At the corner of the street I noticed a large sheet of paper attached to the gate of a grayish house. It was written on paper that an Anastasei Ivanych Chernobay, a Tambov landlord, sells horses here. Anastasei Ivanych was an old man of medium height, with white hair, beautiful blue eyes, an amiable smile and a pleasant, juicy voice. I bought an inexpensive horse from him. The next day she was pounded and lame. Back Chernobay horse did not take. I understood what was happening, and resigned myself to my fate. Fortunately, for the lesson I paid inexpensively.
In about two days I left and turned to Lebedyan in a week, on the way back. In the coffee house, I again found Prince N. behind the billiard table, but in the fate of Khlopakov there was an ordinary change – he was replaced by a blond officer.
Tatyana Borisovna and her nephew
Tatyana Borisovna – a woman of about 50, with large gray eyes, bulging, ruddy cheeks and a double chin, her face breathes with affection. Widowed, she settled permanently in her little estate. She was born in a poor family and did not receive any upbringing. Despite this, she is not infected with the usual ailments of a small lady. Tatyana Borisovna is free to hold herself, feels and thinks. With neighbors, she knows little and accepts only young people. In her small rooms a person is well, warm. No one can so comfort in sorrow, as Tatyana Borisovna.
Servants she keeps a small one. Her house is run by the housekeeper Agafia, her former nanny, a kind, tearful and toothless creature. The 70-year-old Polycarp, a retired violinist, an eccentric and well-read man, Napoleon’s personal enemy and a passionate hunter to the nightingales occupy the position of valet and butler. In support of Polycarp, his grandson Vasya is singled out, in which he diligently fosters hatred for Napoleon.
With the landlords Tatyana Borisovna little is found – she does not know how to occupy them and falls asleep to the noise of conversations. The sister of her young friend, the old maid, the kindest creature, but taut and enthusiastic, decided to finally complete the rich nature of Tatyana Borisovna. She began to go to her every day and would drive her into the coffin, if she did not fall in love with a traveling student.
About 8 years ago, her nephew Andryusha, a boy of 12, was living at Tatyana Borisovna’s, an orphan. He had large, light, moist eyes, a small mouth, a right nose and a fine exalted forehead. He spoke in a sweet voice and kept himself insinuating and quiet. From the earliest years Andryusha felt the desire to draw. Tatyana Borisovna did not feel great love for Andryusha-she did not like the servility of her nephew. Gradually she began to think about the future of the boy.
One day, Pyotr Mihalitch of Benevolensky came to see her, who was burning with an unselfish passion for art, with absolutely nothing to do with it. Benevolensky looked at Andryusha’s drawings, and recognized him as an outstanding talent. On the same day he invited Tatyana Borisovna to take Andryusha to Petersburg and give him an art education. Two days later they left.
Every year Andrei wrote to his aunt less and less. Once Tatyana Borisovna received a note from her nephew asking him to send money. A month later he demanded more, then asked for the third time. This time Tatyana Borisovna refused, and Andryusha came to visit “for health correction.” The gentle Andryusha turned into Andrei Ivanovich Belovzorov, a broad-shouldered, fat little man with a broad red face and fat curly hair. The neatness and shyness of the previous years replaced the unbearable slovenliness and insolence.
Andrei got up with his aunt. Days he spent, howling romances and accompanying himself with one finger to the piano. For a year he became wider than himself, his aunt does not like his soul, and the neighboring girls fall in love with him. Many former acquaintances stopped going to Tatyana Borisovna.
On one fine July morning I drove to my young neighbor Ardalion Mikhailovich with a proposal to hunt for grouse. He agreed with the condition that on the way we would go to him in Chaplygin, where the oak forest was being cut. The neighbor took with him the Tenth Arkhip, a fat and stocky peasant with a quadrangular face, and the manager Gottlieb von der Kok, a boy of about 19, thin, blond, blind, with sloping shoulders and a long neck. The estate was recently inherited by Ardalion from his aunt.
Oak forest Ardalion Mikhailovich I was familiar with since childhood – I often walked here with my tutor. The snowless and frosty winter of the 40th year was ruined by centuries-old oaks and ash trees. It was bitter for me to look at the dying forest. We made our way to the felling site, when suddenly there was a noise of a fallen tree and a shout. A pale man jumped out of the thicket and said that Maxim’s contractor had been crushed by a felled ash. When we ran to Maxim, he was already dying.
At the sight of this death, I thought that the Russian peasant was dying, as if he was performing a ritual: cold and simple. Several years ago, in the village of another neighbor of mine, the peasant was burned in a barn. When I went to him, he was dying, and in the house there was a normal, everyday life. I could not stand it and left.
Still, I remember, I once wrapped myself in a hospital in the village of Krasnogorya, to the familiar paramedic Kapiton. Suddenly a cart moved into the yard, in which sat a dense man with a colorful beard. It was the miller Vasily Dmitrievich. Raising a millstone, he broke. Kapiton examined him, found a hernia and began to persuade him to stay in the hospital. Miller refused flatly and hurried home to dispose of his property. On the fourth day he died.
I also remembered my old friend, the less educated student Avenir Sorokoumov. He taught children from the great-Russian landowner Gura Krupyanikova. Abner was neither wise nor memorable, but no one knew how to rejoice in the successes of his friends. I visited Sorokoumov shortly before his death from consumption. The landowner did not expel him from the house, but he stopped paying the salaries and hired the new teacher for the children. Abner recalled his student youth and eagerly listened to my stories. After 10 days he died.
There are many more examples that come to mind, but I will limit myself to one. When I was dying old lady landowner. The priest gave her the cross. She pressed herself to the cross, and thrust her hand under the pillow, where the money was lying – the payment to the priest, and she gave up the spirit. Yes, Russians are amazingly dying.
A small village Kotlovka lies on the slope of a bare hill, cut by a deep ravine, which winds along the very middle of the street. A few steps from the beginning of the ravine there is a small quadrangular hut, covered with straw. This – the pub “Pritynny.” He visits much more willingly than the rest of the institution, and the reason for this – the kisser Nikolai Ivanovich. This unusually fat, gray-haired man with a swollen face and cunningly good-natured eyes has been living in Kotlovka for more than 20 years. Unlike neither courtesy nor courtesy, he has the gift of attracting visitors and knows a lot about everything that is interesting to a Russian person. He is aware of everything that happens in the district, but he never spills.
Neighbors Nikolai Ivanovich enjoys respect and influence. He is married, and he has children. His wife – brisk, sharp-eyed and quick-eyed petty bourgeois, Nikolay Ivanovich in everything relies on her, and drunkards-screamers are afraid of her. The children of Nikolay Ivanovich went to their parents – smart and healthy guys.
It was a hot July day, when I, thirsty, approached Pritynnomu zabakovka. Suddenly a gray-haired man of high stature appeared at the threshold of a vegetable marrow and started calling someone up, waving his hands. He was answered by a short, fat and lame man with a sly expression on his face, nicknamed Morgach. From the conversation between Morgach and his friend Obolduyu, I realized that in a tavern zatevayetsya competition singers. The best singer in the neighborhood Yashka Turk will show his skills.
A lot of people gathered in the tavern, including Yashka, a thin and slender man of about 23 years with large gray eyes and light brown hair. Near him stood a broad-shouldered man of about 40, with black shiny hair and a ferocious thoughtful expression on his Tatar face. His name was Wild Barin. Opposite him sat Yashka’s rival – a rower from Zhizdra, a dense, short man of about 30, pock-marked and curly, with a stupid nose, brown eyes and a thin beard. Disposed of the Wild Barin.
Before describing the competition, I want to say a few words about the people gathered in the zucchini. Evgraf Ivanov, or Obalduy, was a bachelor spree. He did not know how to sing or dance, but not a single drinking party did without him – his presence was endured as an inevitable evil. The past of Morgach was unclear, they knew only that he was a coachman at the lady, got into clerks, was released to freedom and got rich. This is an experienced person on his mind, not kind and not evil. His entire family consists of a son who went to his father. Jacob, who came from a captive Turkish woman, was an artist in the shower, and by rank – a scraper in a paper mill. Nobody knew where the Wild Barin came from and how he lives. This sullen man lived without needing anyone, and enjoyed enormous influence. He did not drink wine, did not know women, and passionately loved singing.
The first to sing was a rowman. He sang a dance with endless ornaments and transitions, which caused the Wild Barin’s smile and the rapid approval of the other listeners. Jacob began with excitement. In his voice was a deep passion, and youth, and strength, and sweetness, and fascinating-careless, sad grief. The Russian soul sounded in it and grabbed at the heart. Tears welled in front of everyone. The rowman himself admitted defeat.
I left the tavern, not to spoil the impression, I reached the hayloft and fell asleep to a dead dream. In the evening, when I woke up, I was already celebrating Yashka’s victory in a tavern. I turned away and began to descend from the hill on which lies Kotlovka.
Petr Petrovich Karataev
About five years ago, in the fall, on the road from Moscow to Tula, I had to sit almost all day in a post house for a lack of horses. With cold despair I looked out the window when a small cart stopped in front of the porch. A 30-year-old man entered the room with a trace of smallpox on his dry, yellowish face, blue-black hair and small, swollen eyes. We talked for tea. The ruined landlord Pyotr Petrovich Karataev went to Moscow to serve. He told me about the cause of the ruin.
When Karataev lived in the village, he fell in love with a beautiful girl named Matryona. The girl did not belong to him, and Karataev wanted to redeem her. Her mistress was a rich and terrible old woman, who lived from him about 15 versts, she owned the village of Kukuevka. Karataev came to see her. Met his old companion, who promised to pass his request to the lady. Two days later Karataev again went to the lady and persuaded her to sell him Matryon for a long time, promised any money, but the harmful old woman, having learned about Karataev’s feelings, refused flatly. She said that she had sent Matryona to a distant steppe village, and suggested finding a respectable bride for Karataev.
Karataev suffered for a long time and blamed himself for ruining Matryon. Finally, he could not stand it: he found out in which village the girl was being held, went there and persuaded Matren to flee. Settled it Karataev in his own estate, in a small house, and they began to live a soul in the soul. One winter they went for a ride in a sleigh, and Matryona sent the horses straight to Kukuevka. On trouble, the old lady met them. They quickly passed by so quickly that the wagon of the lady turned over. Despite this, the lady recognized Matryona and sent a police officer to Karataev.
From this moment the troubles of Karataev began. The lady did not spare money to return Matryona. It turned out that she wanted to marry Karataev in her companion, and was very angry when her plans were upset. Matren Karataev hid in a remote farmstead. One night she came to him to say goodbye: she saw what troubles fell on Karataev because of her. The next day, Matryona returned to Kukuevka. What happened to her later, I never found out.
A year later I happened to go to a Moscow coffee shop. There, in the billiard room, I met Pyotr Petrovich Karataev. All this time he lived in Moscow – his village was sold at auction. Now it was a shabby, drunk person, disappointed in life. I never met Karataev again.
One autumn, in mid-September, I was sitting in a birch grove and admiring a fine day. Insensibly for myself, I fell asleep. When I woke up, I saw a peasant girl, she sat twenty paces from me with a bunch of wild flowers in her hand, her head lowered thoughtfully. The girl was not bad at all. Her thick, blond hair of ashy tinge was adhered to by a narrow scarlet bandage, pulled over her white forehead. She did not look up, but I could see her thin, high eyebrows and long wet eyelashes. On one of her cheeks a trace of tears gleamed in the sun. Her expression was meek, simple and sad, full of childish bewilderment before this sadness.
She was waiting for someone. Something crackled in the forest, and her eyes glittered in the shade, big, light and fearful, like that of a deer. In the distance footsteps were heard, and a young man came to the clearing, whom the girl met, trembling with joy. By all accounts, it was the spoiled valet of the rich master. His clothes exposed a taste for taste and flaunting negligence. His red and crooked fingers were decorated with silver and gold rings with forget-me-nots from turquoise. His face, ruddy, fresh and cheeky, belonged to those persons who very often like women. He was intolerably grimacing, trying to give his stupid face a contemptuous and bored expression.
I overheard their conversation. This was the last meeting between Viktor Aleksandrovich and Akulina – tomorrow his master was leaving for St. Petersburg. Akulina gave him a bunch of blue cornflowers. Victor with thoughtful importance turned the flowers in his fingers, and Akulina looked at him with reverent submission and love. Through his pretended indifference, his jaded self-esteem appeared on his face.
Soon Victor was going to leave. Akulina began to cry. She was afraid that she would be given away for the ungracious. Victor was irritated by her tears. He said that he can not marry her. At the same time, he stressed in every way that she was not educated, and therefore unworthy of him. The girl wanted to hear a sweet word from her beloved, but he did not wait for it. She fell face to face in the grass and wept bitterly. Victor stood over her, shrugged his shoulders and left.
She jumped up to run after him, but her legs gave way and she fell to her knees. I could not resist and rushed to her. Seeing me, she screamed weakly and ran away, leaving scattered flowers on the ground. I returned home, but the image of poor Akulina did not go out of my mind for a long time. Her cornflowers are still kept by me.
Hamlet of Shchigrovsky Uyezd
During one of my trips I received an invitation to dine with a rich landowner and hunter, Alexander Mikhailovich G ***. Alexander Mikhalych was not married and did not like women, his society was going to be bachelor and he lived on a broad foot. On that day he expected an important dignitary and experienced excitement incompatible with his wealth. Almost all the guests were unfamiliar to me. I began to get bored when Voynitsyn approached me, an undergraduated student who lived in this house in no way in what capacity. He introduced me to the local wimp Petr Petrovich Lupikhin, a man of small stature, with a high nose and bilious facial features. I listened to his caustic remarks about those present at the dinner.
Suddenly an alarming excitement spread throughout the house: a dignitary arrived. A few minutes later the whole society went to the dining room. The dignitary was seated in a place of honor and during the whole dinner with reverence he was listened to. After dinner, the whole society sat down for cards. I somehow waited for the evening and went to rest.
Because of the abundance of guests, no one slept alone. I could not fall asleep. My neighbor noticed this and started a conversation with me. He began to complain about the lack of originality in it, and then offered to tell the story of his life.
He was born from poor parents in Shchigrovsky district of Kursk province. He did not remember his father, his mother was engaged in his upbringing. His brother died in infancy. When he was 16 years old, my mother drove the tutor away, took her son to Moscow, wrote to the university and died, leaving her son in the care of my uncle, solicitor Koltunu-Babur. Even then he noticed in himself a lack of originality. At university he did not go his own way, but, like everyone else, he joined a circle in which everything was original and original. So he lived in Moscow for 4 years.
When he was 21, he took possession of what remained of his inheritance – his uncle ripped him clean. Leaving the manager of the freedman Vasily Kudryashov, he left for Berlin, where he spent 6 months without knowing European life. The case brought him to the house of one professor. He fell in love with one of the professor’s daughters, from which he periodically sucked under a spoonful, and a cold shiver ran through his stomach. Unable to withstand such happiness, he escaped and 2 more years wandered around Europe.
Returning to Moscow, he imagined himself to be the most original person, and those who supported this delusion were also found. Soon on his account was launched gossip, which forced him to leave. He retired to his village and occupied himself with farming. In the neighborhood lived a widow-colonel with two daughters. One day he visited them, and six months later he married one of the daughters. Sophia was a kind-hearted creature, but the old virgin’s habits were so full of her that she could not become a wife and mistress. In the fourth year Sophia died from childbirth with her child.
After the death of his wife, he entered the service in the provincial town, but he could not serve for a long time and retired. Over time, he humbled his pride, ambitions ceased. About him began to respond, as an empty, exhausted man, and the police chief told him “you.” A veil fell from his eyes, and he saw the seed as it is-an insignificant, unnecessary, unoriginal person.
He did not name his name, only said: “Call me Hamlet of Shchigrovsky Uyezd”. The next morning he was no longer in the room. He left before dawn.
Chertopkhanov and Nedopyuskin
On a hot summer day, Yermolay and I returned from the hunt for a cart. Having stopped in the thick undergrowth of bushes, we decided to hunt for grouse. After the first shot, the driver approached us and asked what right I was hunting here. Looking at it, I realized that I had never seen anything like it. He was small, blond, with a red snub nose, long red hair and pale blue glass eyes that ran like a drunk. His forehead was covered with a pointed Persian hat on his brow, a horn hung over his shoulder, and a dagger protruded behind his belt. He sat on a stunted red horse. The whole being of the stranger was breathing with extravagant courage and excessive pride.
Finding out that I am a nobleman, he graciously allowed me to hunt and introduced himself as Pantelei Chertopkhanov. After blowing the horn, he rushed headlong off. No sooner had I come to my senses than a fat man of about 40 years left the bushes quietly on a little black horse. His plump and round face expressed timidity, kindness and humble humility, round, dotted with blue veins, his nose exposed the sweetheart, his narrow eyes flashed gently. Having informed me where Chertopkhanov had gone, he was staggering after him. Ermolai told me that it was Tikhon Ivanovich Nedopyuskin, he lives at Chertopkhanov and is his best friend.
These friends aroused my curiosity. That’s what I learned about them. Pantelei Yeremeyich Chertopkhanov was a man of danger and extravagance, a proud and a bully. Very briefly he served in the army and retired “for trouble.” He came from an old, once rich, family. His father, Eremey Lukich, left to the heir the mortgaged village of Bessonovo, when he went to the nineteenth year. Quite unexpectedly, Pantelei, from a rich heir, turned into a poor man. He became wild, hardened and turned into a proud and a bully, who ceased to know his neighbors and, on the slightest occasion, offered to be cut on knives.
Father Nedopyuskina left the one-man villagers and achieved service with the forty-year service of the nobility. He belonged to the number of people who are constantly beset by misfortune, and died without earning the children a piece of bread. Even during his lifetime, his father managed to arrange Tikhon a supernumerary official in the chancery, but after his death, Tikhon retired. Tikhon was a sensitive, lazy, soft, gifted delicate sense of smell and taste designed for pleasure. Fate was scouring them all over Russia. Tikhon was also a majordomo at a quarrelsome lady, and a freeloader from a rich miser-merchant, and half-butler-half-joke of a dog hunter. This post was even more painful because Tikhon had no gift to make people laugh.
The last of the benefactors left Tikhon by testament to the village of Besselendeevka. During the reading of the will over Tikhon, one of the heirs began to mock. From this humiliating position, he was saved by Chertopkhanov, who was also a heir. Since that day, they no longer parted. Tikhon reverenced the fearless and disinterested Chertopkhanov.
A few days later I went to the village of Bessonovo to Panteley Yeremeyich. His small house was sticking out in a bare place, like a hawk on a plowed field. After chatting with me and showing his pack of greyhounds, Chertopkhanov called Masha. She turned out to be a beautiful woman of about 20, tall and slender, with a gypsy swarthy face, brown eyes, a black scythe and a face expressing a willful passion and carefree daring. Chertopkhanov presented her as “almost a wife”. Masha took the guitar, and after half an hour we chatted and played like children. Late in the evening I left Bessonov.
The end of Chertopkhanov
Two years later, Pantelei Jeremyich Chertopkhanov was hit with all sorts of disasters. The first of them was the most sensitive for him: Masha left him. Chertopkhanov was convinced that the fault of the Machine of Infidelity was a young neighbor, the retired Uhlan captain Yaff, but the reason for everything was the vagrant gypsy blood that flowed in the veins of Masha. Chertopkhanov tried to stop Masha, threatened to shoot her, begged her to shoot him, but nothing helped. Masha went missing. Chertopkhanov drank, then came to himself, and here he was hit by a second disaster.
His crony friend Tikhon Ivanovich Nedopyuskin died. The last two years, he suffered from shortness of breath, fell asleep incessantly, and waking up, for a long time could not come to his senses. The county physician assured him that “shockers” had happened to him. Care Masha very much knocked down Tikhon. After the first frosts, he suffered a real blow. On the same day he died. Tikhon bequeathed his estate to his friend Chertopkhanov, but soon it was sold. For this money Chertopkhanov erected a statue on his grave, which he wrote from Moscow. The statue was supposed to represent a praying angel, but instead he was sent to the goddess Flora. It still stands over the grave of Nedopyuskin.
After the death of his friend, Chertopkhanov’s affairs went badly, and there was nothing to hunt for. Driving one day on horseback in the neighboring village, Chertopkhanov saw that the peasants were beating the Jew. He dispersed the crowd with a whip and took the Jew with him. A few days later, in gratitude for saving the Jew, he brought him a wonderful horse. Out of pride, Chertopkhanov did not want to accept him as a gift and promised to pay 250 rubles in 6 months. He called the horse Malek-Adel.
From that day Malek-Adel became the main concern in the life of Chertopkhanov. He fell in love with the horse more than Masha, and became more attached to him than to Nedopyuskin. Thanks to Malek-Adel, Chertopkhanov had an undoubted, last superiority over his neighbors. Meanwhile, the payment deadline was approaching, and Chertopkhanov had no money. Two days before his term, he inherited from a distant aunt 2000 rubles. The same night, Malek-Adel was stolen from him. At first Chertopkhanov decided that the horse stole the Jew and nearly strangled him when he came for the money. Then, after intense reflection, Chertopkhanov came to the conclusion that Malek-Adel had been led away by his first master: only the horse would not resist him. Together with the Jew, Moshele Leiboy, they went on a chase, leaving the Cossack Perfishka at home.
A year later Chertopkhanov returned home with Malek-Adel. He told Perfishka how he found his horse at the fair in Romny, and how he had to buy it from the gypsy-baryshnik. At heart he was not entirely sure that the horse he had brought was really Malek-Adel, but drove those thoughts away. Most of all Chertopkhanov was embarrassed by the differences in the habits of that Malek-Adel and this.
Once Chertopkhanov drove through the backyard of the priest’s settlement surrounding the local church. The deacon who met him congratulated Chertopkhanov on the acquisition of a new horse. To the objection of Chertopkhanov that the horse is the same, the deacon protested that Malek-Adel was a gray suit in apples, and now he was the same, although he should have turned white – the gray suit is white in time. After this conversation, Chertopkhanov rushed home, locked himself in a key and began to drink.
After drinking half a bucket of vodka, Chertopkhanov took a pistol and led Malek-Adel to the neighboring forest to shoot the imposter. At the last moment he changed his mind, drove away the horse and went home. Suddenly something pushed him in the back – Malek-Adel returned. Chertopkhanov snatched the pistol, put the barrel to the forehead of the horse, fired and rushed away. Now he understood that this time he had done away with himself.
Six weeks later, the Cossack Perfishka stopped the passing manor of the bailiff and informed him that Chertopkhanov had fallen and apparently was dying. All this time he drank without drying out. Stanovoi ordered the Cossack woman to go to the priest’s house. That very night Panteley Yeremeych died. The coffin was escorted by two people: Perfishka da Moselle Leiba, who did not fail to pay his last debt to his benefactor.
For a hunter, rain is a real calamity. Such a disaster we suffered with Ermolai during the hunting for black grouses in Belevsky district. Finally, Ermolai suggested that Alekseyevka, owned by my mother, go to the farm, the existence of which I had never suspected before. When the hamlet was an old outbuilding, uninhabited and clean, in which I spent the night. The next day I woke up early and went into the overgrown garden. Nearby, I noticed an apiary, a narrow path led to it. Approaching the apiary, I saw beside it a wicker shed, and looked into the half-open door. In the corner I noticed a stage and a small figure on them.
I already walked away, when suddenly a weak, slow and hoarse voice called to me by the name: “Barin, Pyotr Petrovich!”. I approached and was dumbfounded. Before me lay a creature with a dried, bronzed head. The nose is narrow, like the blade of a knife, the lips can not be seen, only teeth and eyes whiten, and strands of yellow hair from under the scarf. From under the blanket, you can see two tiny dried-up hands. The face was not ugly, even beautiful, but terrible for its unusual.
It turned out that this creature was once Lukerya, the first beauty in our yard, a dancer and a songbird, over which I, a 16-year-old boy, secretly sighed. Lukerya told about her misfortune. Six or seven years ago Lukeyu was engaged to Vasilii Polyakov. One night she went out on to the porch, and she thought Vasin had a voice. She collapsed, she fell from the porch. From the bottom of the beginning Lukerya wither and dry, legs refused. No doctor could not help her. At the end, it completely ossified, and she was transported to this village. And Vasily Polyakov exerted, and married another.
In the summer Lukerya lies in a shed, and in winter it is transferred to the waiting room. She said that she hardly eats, lies, watches the world around her. She taught herself not to think and not to remember – so the time passes quickly. He will read the prayers that he knows, and again he lies without any thought. I offered to take her to the hospital, where she would be well looked after, but Lukerya refused. Accustomed to the darkness, I clearly distinguished her features, and even could find on this face traces of former beauty.
Lukerya complained that she was not sleeping much because of the pain in her whole body, but if she fell asleep, then her dreams were strange. Once Lukernya dreamed that she was sitting on the big road in the clothes of a pilgrim pilgrim. A crowd of wanderers passes by, and a woman is between them, a head taller than the others. The dress on it is not Russian and the face is strict, Lukerya asked the woman who she is, and the woman answered that she was her death. She began to ask Lukerya death to take her with him, and death said that she would come after her after petting. Only, it happens, a whole week will pass, and Lukerya will not fall asleep once. Once passing the lady left her cork with medicine for insomnia, but only long drank that bottle. I guessed that it was opium, and promised to get her such a bottle.
I could not help but marvel at her courage and patience. Lukerya objected that many people suffered more than she did. After a pause, I asked how old she was. It turned out that Lukerye was not yet 30. I said goodbye and asked if she needed anything. Lukerya asked only that my mother reduce the rent for local peasants, but for herself nothing.
On the same day, I learned from the farmstead of the tenth that Lukeryu was nicknamed “Living Power” in the village, and there is no worry from her. A few weeks later I learned that Lukerya died, just after the petrovki. All day before her death, she heard a bell ringing from the sky.
It was in the tenth day of July. I lay down to rest after a successful hunting for black grouse, when Ermolai came in and informed me that we had run out of fractions. He offered to send him for a shot to Tula, which was 45 versts from us. On my horses Ermolai could not go – limped, but horses could be taken from a local peasant, whom Yermolay called “from stupid stupid”. While Ermolai was following him, I decided to go to Tula himself. I hoped badly for Ermolai, who could return in a few days without money, fractions and horses. Besides, in Tula I could buy a new horse.
A quarter of an hour later Yermolai brought a tall, blond and blind-looking man with a red beard with a wedge, a long puffy nose and a gaping mouth. His name was Filofei. Having agreed with Philofey about payment of 20 rubles, we started on the road. My faithful servant Yermolai, resenting that I did not let him into Tula, even said goodbye to me.
On the way I fell asleep. I woke up with a strange gurgling. I looked up and saw that there was a smooth surface around the tarantas, and ahead of me, on the box, Filofei was sitting motionless. It turned out that Philofey was a little mistaken, skipped the ford, and now he waited for the root man to show where to go. Finally, the horse stirred, and we safely left the river. Soon I fell asleep again.
I was woken by Philotheus. This time the tarantas stood right in the middle of the big road. Philotheus said: “Knocks! .. Knocks!”. And for sure, in the distance, there was an intermittent clatter of wheels. Filofei explained that under Tula “sham,” and it could be brigands. After half an hour the sounds became closer, the whistling and clanking of the bells already could be heard. I suddenly became convinced that bad people were following us.
After 20 minutes we were caught up. I told Philothe to stop – it was impossible to escape anyway. Immediately, a large cart, drawn by a troika, overtook us and blocked the road. There were 6 people in the cart, all drunk. The cart was ridden by a giant in a sheepskin coat. They went in step, we followed them. We were not allowed to pass a cart. Ahead, in the hollow above the stream, was a bridge. According to Philotheus, it was there that we were going to be robbed.
Suddenly a troika with a giggle rushed, and, dashing to the bridge, stopped at the side of the road. When we were level with the cart, the giant jumped from it – and directly to us. Laying his hands on the doors and grinning, the giant said in a hurried way that they were coming from a merry wedding, and asked for money to get drunk. I gave him two rubles. He grabbed the money, jumped on the cart, and only we saw them.
We came to my senses with Philotheus not at once. Approaching Tula, we saw a familiar cart near the tavern and hurried past. The same evening we returned to the village of Philotheus, and I told Yermolai about what had happened. Two days later he informed me that the night we went to Tula, on the same road, they robbed and killed some merchant. Was it not with this “wedding” that our devotees returned? In this village, I stayed for 5 days, and every time I met Philotheus, I said to him: “Does it knock?”.
Forest and steppe
Hunting with a gun and a dog is beautiful in itself, but even if you are not a hunter, just love nature, you can not help envying our brother. What a pleasure to leave in the spring from home to dawn! The stars are blinking on the dark gray sky, a damp breeze rushes through a light wave, an indistinct whisper of night is heard. But the edge of the sky is turning red, the birds are waking up, the air is brightening. Now the golden stripes stretched across the sky, the predawn wind blew – and the purple sun rose softly. The weather will be nice. How the chest breathes freely, how the person, grasped by the breath of spring, gets stronger!
And who, apart from the hunter, experienced how pleasant it is to wander in the summer morning in the bushes. You spread the damp bush from the dew and you will be showered with the warm smell of the night. It’s still fresh, but the heat is already close. The sun is higher. It has already become hot. Through the thick hazel bushes you descend into a ravine, where under the cliff lies the source. You get drunk and stay in the shade, breathe odorous dampness. Suddenly, the wind blows. The sun is still shining around, but lightning flashes on the horizon. The cloud covers the arch with a dark sleeve, and you hide in the hay barn. As after a thunder-storm the air is fresh, as it smells of mushrooms and strawberries!
But now the dawn is engulfed in a half-sky fire, the sun sets. Together with the dew on the glades falls a scarlet shine, from the trees and bushes ran long shadows. The sun has set, the sky is blue, the air is filled with darkness. Time to go home.
And then lay the running droshky and go to the woods for grouse. It’s fun to make your way along a narrow path, between two walls of high rye. The forest meets with a shadow and silence. You drive along the green path all the way. The forest is dying, it is drowsy and quiet all around. And how this forest is good late autumn, when in the soft air the autumn smell is poured. All life unfolds before a man, like a scroll, and nothing hinders him – there is no sun, no wind, no noise.
And the autumn, clear, morning frosty day, when the sun no longer heats, a small aspen grove all sparkles, and the birch stands all golden, like a fairy tree. Good are also summer foggy days, when around is inexpressibly quiet. And on a winter day walk on snowdrifts, breathe frosty sharp air and squint from the dazzling glitter of soft snow. And the first spring days, when all around shines and melts, through the heavy steam of melted snow there is already a smell of warmed earth and larks are singing on the thawed patches.
However – it’s time to finish. In the spring it’s easy to part, in the spring and happy pulls into the distance…