Whenever the narrator descended from the village eel to the meadow, he seemed to fall into the world of his distant childhood – in the world of grasses, dragonflies, butterflies and, of course, horses. He often took bread with him and fed up the horses, and if there was no bread with him, he still stopped near them, patted his back, stroked, or even just talked with them.
The horses evoked from him, the villager, the most contradictory feelings – from excitement and joy to pity and even guilt in front of them. Mikolka the stable boy sometimes did not say to them day and night, and around the stake, to which every horse was tied, not only the grass-sod was gnawed. Poor animals constantly languished, they were tormented by midges.
The poor people did not live easily, so no one could pass by them indifferently.
And this time the man ran to the horses. I saw my favorite Clara, or Ryzhukha, as he called her simply.
This horse was from the breed mezhenok, animals of medium size, hardy and very unpretentious. In four or five years, her back was already knocked down, the belly visibly slackened and the veins began to swell. And yet she favorably stood out among her kinsmen in that she retained a cheerful disposition. Usually, seeing her friend, she performed a welcome circle of joy around the peg, to which she was tied.
But today something happened to her. When a man appeared, she stood motionless, like a petrified one. He thought that the filly was either sick, or had forgotten it during the work at the distant haymaking. He broke off bread for her from a big loaf, and she turned her head away.
The man drew his horse to his thick bangs and saw big tears in the eyes of the animal. The man calmed her with violence. Began to ask what happened. Ryzhukha said that they, horses, had a dispute about horse life here. That’s what she said.
On a distant hayfield she met an old mare, with whom she went in one mower. When they were completely unbearable, Zabava encouraged her with her songs. Ryzhukha said that she had never heard anything like it before. These songs said that in earlier times horses were called breadwinners, groomed and caressed, decorated with ribbons. Ryzhukha asked Zabava, but she did not console her. The neighbor answered that she had heard these songs from her mother, and that from her own.
When Ryzhuha tried to tell the rest of the horses about it, she was laughed at. She looked hopefully at the man and asked if the old mare had not deceived her.
The interlocutor could not stand the horse’s direct look and looked away. It seemed to him that the inquisitive horse eyes were looking at him from all sides.
It is not known how long this silent torture lasted. But the person is swelter from head to foot.
No, she did not deceive the old mare. There were times when the horse was breathing and living, she was fed the last piece, or even the last crust of bread....
After all, without a horse anywhere – neither in the field, nor in the forest. And do not walk without it as it should. After all, Russian festivities on horseback on Shrove Tuesday and compare with nothing.
The first toy of a peasant’s son is a wooden horse. The horse looked at the child and from the roof of his home, his mother sang about him, he decorated his spinster with his horse, he prayed to him. And horse horseshoe – a sign of happiness – met every porch. And what passions seethed around the horse in the first collective farm years!
Yes what to say about the peasants, if the narrator, even as a university student, could not indifferently pass by Kark, the breadwinner of his family. In the forty-seventh year the student returned to the village. Everywhere there was a famine, desolation, in houses wept for those who did not return from the war, and he, as soon as he saw the first horse, immediately remembered his Karka.
The groom-old man replied that Karka was no more, he gave his soul to God on the forest front. After all, not only people fought in this war, but also horses.
In each of us, probably, Pushkin’s prophetic Oleg lives. So the person who told this story, tried to find the remains of his horse, being in those places where the logging was going on in the war.
But the logging station had not existed for a long time, and thick thickets of Ivan-tea had grown on the site of the katishcha, and, of course, the search had not yielded results…
Ryzhuha continued to look hopefully at the man, all the other horses looked with hope and entreaty with her.
And the man has let down a reckless daring and said that it’s enough to sour and scrape his head with all sorts of nonsense. It is better to gnaw the bread while gnawing. Then he threw a piece of bread near Ryzhukha, dressed the rest of the horses, uttered some nonsense and went home.
And what else could he say to those poor people? To say that the old mare did not deceive, and did the horses really have a happy time?
He crossed the lake and went out to the old boundary, always happy with his herbage. But now the man did not see anything. His whole hearing was turned back. The man hoped that he would hear the usual crunch and grumbling grass in the meadow. But there was not the slightest sound.
And the man realized that he had committed the irreparable. He deceived Ryzhukha and all these unfortunate nags. Never will he have more with Ryzhuha of those sincere and trusting relationships that have been up to now.
And heavy horse-like anguish fell on him. Soon he seemed to himself an absurd, obsolete being from the same horse breed.