For a long time, in ancient times, an old man lived in the same city. He worked in a smithy near the Moscow road foreman at the main blacksmith, because he did not see well and was weak. He carried water, sand and coal to the smithy, fanned the horn, held hot iron on the anvil with tongs, while the chief smith chained him, drove the horse into the machine when it was necessary to shoe it, – in short, did any other work that needed to be done. His name was Yefim, but everyone called him Yushka. He was small and thin, his thin, wrinkled face had a few rare hair instead of a mustache and beard, his eyes were as white as a blind man, and there was always moisture in them, like tears.
Yushka lodged with the owner of the forge in the kitchen. In the morning he went to work, and in the evening back, for the night. The owner fed him, and Yushka should buy clothes, tea and sugar from his own small salary. But Yushka did not drink tea with sugar, and wore clothes for the same long
years. In the summer he walked barefoot, and in winter he wore the same felt boots.
When Yushka went to work, the old men and women went up and said that it was time to get up, because Yushka went to work. And in the evening, when Yushka was returning home, people said that it was time to have supper and go to bed, because even Yushka went to bed.
Little children and teenagers ran after him along the street, threw him into the earth and dry branches and yelled to Yushka after a different nonsense.
He did not answer the children, did not take offense at them, only walked as quietly as before, and did not close his face when pebbles and earth dust fell into him.
Children wondered why Yushka did not answer them, hailed him, touched and pushed. They did not understand why Yushka would not take the twig and pursue them, as all adults usually did. They continued to bully him in the hope that he would get angry than cheer them up. But he walked and was silent. Then the children began to get angry themselves.
When they did Yushek very painfully, he, calling them relatives and small, only asked
him not to touch, because they hit him in the eyes of the earth, and he sees nothing.
The children heard and did not understand it. They were happy that you can do anything with Yushka, but he will not do anything in response.
Yushka was also happy. He knew why his children torture him and laugh at him. He believed that they needed him, that they loved him, but they did not know how to love, and therefore they torment him.
And at home, fathers and mothers brought Yushka’s life to children as an example, how not to live and how not to be.
Adult people, having met Yushka on the street, also sometimes offended him. They often had grief and resentment in their hearts, or they were drunk, then their heart was filled with fierce rage. And when he saw Yushka, the man asked him why he was so blissful here and why he thought something special.
Yushka during the conversation stopped and was silent in return, and the person, convinced that Yushka was to blame for everything, beat him. From Yushkina meekness he was fierce and beat him more fiercely than he wanted at first, forgetting his grief in this cruelty.
Then Yushka lay for a long time on the road, coming to himself. Sometimes he would go up himself, sometimes the master’s daughter would come and take him home, saying that he would rather die than live like this. Yushka wondered why you should die when he was born to live. And then, the people love him. The daughter of the owner, Dasha, laughed at Yushka, saying, how it loves, if it maims. And Yushka replied that his people had no idea of the concept. The heart is a blind person in man. Dasha sighed that Yushka, according to his father, is not an old man. He confirmed that he was not really old yet, but he suffers from childhood and, due to illness, he has blundered…
Because of this illness, Yushka every year asked his master for a month and left the city. He said that he was walking to a remote village far away, where he had relatives. And people thought that there lives his beloved Yushkin’s daughter, as mild and superfluous to people as her father.
In July or August, Yushka put on a knapsack with bread, took a hundred rubles, earned and accumulated during the year, and left the city. On the way he breathed herbs, looked at the sky at the white clouds, listened to the voice of the rivers, and Yushkin’s sick chest rested. He did not feel his consumption. Going far away, where there were no people at all, he did not conceal his love for living beings: he leaned toward the flowers, stroked the bark in the trees, lifted the butterflies and beetles that had fallen dead.
On the way, Yushka was resting. He sat down in the shade of a roadside tree and dozed in warmth and peace. His sore chest rested. He was only forty years old, but his illness completely worn out and aged, so that he seemed to all old.
A month later, Yushka usually returned and again worked from morning till night in the smithy. Children and adults still reproached him for his unreasonable stupidity and continued to torment him.
But every year Yushka became weaker, so in one summer, when it came time for him to leave the city, he did not go anywhere.
Once he wandered, as usual, from the smithy to the host for the night. The merry passer-by, who knew Yushka, once again laughed at him, asking that this God-stuffed man was again trampling the earth.
For the first time in his life, Yushka became angry, answering that he was born according to the law of God, and parents are to live, and the whole world is also needed. The passer-by was angry, as this holy fool dared to equate him and himself. Yushka replied that he did not equal, and, if necessary, they were both equal.
The passerby pushed Yushka into the chest with all his strength of anger, and he fell backwards. A passerby went home to drink tea.
More Yushka did not get up. Found it was passing by a carpenter from a furniture workshop. Moving Yushka to his back, the carpenter saw Yuschka’s white, open, fixed eyes and a blackened mouth, which had a bloody mouth. Stolyar sighed and asked the deceased for the deceased for all those who rejected him.
The owner of the smithy and his daughter prepared for the burial. To say goodbye to a man who was tortured all his life, the whole people came. Yushku was buried and forgotten about him. Only without Yushka, life became worse. All the malice that had accumulated in people before was directed to Yushka, and now she was still among the people.
We again remembered about Yushka in the autumn. One day a young girl came to the smithy and asked the blacksmith how to find Yefim Dmitrievich. The smith was surprised and for a long time could not understand who he was talking about. But the girl did not leave, as if she were waiting for something. Finally, the smith guessed, looking into the face of a small puny guest with meek sad eyes that we are talking about Yushka.
The girl confirmed that the person she came to called himself Yushka.
The smith asked who would the girl Yushka, not a relative?
She replied that she was nobody to Yushka. She is a round orphan, and he put it in his family, a small one, in Moscow, and then he gave it to a school with a boarding house. Every year he came to see her and bring money for the whole year so that she lived and studied. Now she grew up and graduated from university, and for some reason Yefim Dmitrievich did not come this summer.
The smith took her to the cemetery. There the girl fell to the ground in which the dead Yushka lay, the man who had been feeding her since childhood, but at the same time did not eat sugar, so that she ate it.
She knew how Yuschka was ill, and, after studying for a doctor, she came to cure the one who was dearer to her than anything else in the world…
A long time passed. The doctor girl was left forever in this city. She began to work in the hospital for consumptive. I went to homes where tuberculosis patients lived, and I did not take money from anyone for my work.
Now she herself became old, but still treats and comforts sick people. And in the city everyone knows her and is called the daughter of a good Yushka, having long forgotten Yushka, and the fact that she never was his daughter.