“Shepherd and the Shepherdess” Astafyev in brief
On the desert steppe along the railway line, under the sky, in which the Ural mountain range emerges with heavy cloudy delirium, there is a woman. There are tears in her eyes, it becomes more difficult to breathe. At the dwarf kilometer pillar, she stops, moving her lips, repeats the figure that appears on the column, descends from the mound and finds a grave with a pyramid on the signaling mound. The woman kneels down in front of the grave and whispers: “How long have I been looking for you!”
Our troops were finishing off the almost smothered group of German troops, whose command, like at Stalingrad, refused to accept an ultimatum about unconditional surrender. Lieutenant Boris Kostyaev’s platoon, along with the other units, met an erupting enemy. Night battle with the participation of tanks and artillery, “Katyusha” was terrible – on the onslaught of the frantic Germans, frustrated by the cold and despair, on losses from both sides. Having
Behind the bathhouse, in the snow, Boris saw the artillerymen killed by the salvo and the old woman. They lay, covering each other. A local resident, Khvedor Khvomich, said that the dead had come to this Ukrainian farmstead from the Volga region in a hungry year. They grazed collective farm cattle. A shepherd and a cowherd boy. The hands of the shepherd and the cowherd boys, when they were buried, could not be disengaged. The soldier Lantsov quietly read the prayer over the old people. Khvedor Khvomich was surprised that the Red Army soldier knew prayers. He himself forgot them, when he was young he went about in atheists and the old men agitated to liquidate the icons. But they did not listen to him…
The platoon soldiers stopped at the house where the girl was Lusya. They warmed up and drank the moonshine. Everyone was tired, drunk and ate potatoes, only Sergeant Mokhnakov did not get drunk. Lusia drank along with everyone, saying at the same time: “With the return of you…
Soldiers one by one laid down to sleep on the floor. Those who still retained their strength, continued to drink, eat, joke, remembering a peaceful life. Boris Kostyaev, coming out into the passage, heard in the darkness the fuss and tearing voice of Lucy: “It’s not necessary.” Comrade Sergeant… “The lieutenant resolutely stopped the foreman’s harassment, led him out into the street. Between these people, who together went through many fights and adversities, enmity broke out. The lieutenant threatened to shoot the sergeant-major if he once again tried to offend the girl. The disgruntled Mohnakov went to another hut.
Lusia called the lieutenant into the house, where all the soldiers were already asleep. She spent Boris on a clean half, gave her dressing gown, so that he changed clothes, and cooked a trough with water behind the stove. When Boris washed himself and went to bed, his eyelids were heavy with themselves, and sleep fell upon him.
Even before dawn, the company commander called Lieutenant Kostyaev. Lusia did not even have time to wash his uniform, which was very upsetting. The platoon was ordered to knock out the fascists from the neighboring village, the last stronghold. After a short battle, the platoon, along with the other units, occupied the village. Soon the commander of the front arrived with his retinue. Never before had Boris seen a close commander, of whom legends went. In one of the barns the German general who was shot was shot. The commander ordered to bury the enemy general with all military honors.
Boris Kostyaev returned with the soldiers to the same house where they slept. The lieutenant again wore a sound sleep. At night, Lucy came to him, his first woman. Boris talked about himself, read his mother’s letters. He recalled how in his childhood his mother took him to Moscow and they watched ballet in the theater. A shepherd and a shepherdess danced on the stage. “They loved each other, were not ashamed of love and were not afraid for it.” In the gullibility they were defenseless. ” Then it seemed to Boris that the defenseless were inaccessible to evil…
Lusia listened with bated breath, knowing that such a night would not happen again. On this night of love they forgot about the war – a twenty-year-old lieutenant and a girl who was older than him for one war year.
Lusia learned from somewhere that the platoon would stay in the farm for another two days. But in the morning the order of the company was given: on the cars to overtake the main forces that had gone far behind the retreating enemy. Lusia, struck by the sudden separation, first stayed in the hut, then could not stand it, caught up with the car on which the soldiers were traveling. Not embarrassed by anyone, she kissed Boris and struggled to break away from him.
After heavy fighting, Boris Kostyaev asked the political officer for a vacation. And the deputy governor had already decided to send the lieutenant to short-term courses, so that he could come to his beloved one for a day. Boris already represented his meeting with Lucy… But nothing happened. The platoon did not even take part in the reorganization: heavy fighting was interfering. In one of them Mohnakov died heroically, with an anti-tank mine in a rifle rushing under a German tank. On the same day Boris was wounded with a splinter in his shoulder.
The people in the medical battalion were many. Boris waited a long time for dressings, medicines. The doctor, looking at Boris’s wound, did not understand why this lieutenant was not getting better. Yearning consumed Boris. One night the doctor came to him and said: “I appointed you for evacuation.” “In marching conditions, the souls do not heal…”
The sanitary train took Boris to the east. At one of the stations he saw a woman resembling Lyusya… Arina’s car wagon, looking at the young lieutenant, wondered why he was getting worse and worse every day.
Boris looked out the window, felt sorry for himself and his wounded neighbors, he pitied Lusya, who remained on the deserted square of the Ukrainian town, the old man and the old woman buried in the garden. He could not remember the faces of the shepherd and the cowherd boy, and it turned out that they looked like a mother, a father, all the people whom he had known…
One morning Arina came to wash Boris and saw that he was dead. He was buried in the steppe, making a pyramid from the signal column. Arina shook her head sadly: “Such a slight injury, and he died…”
After listening to the earth, the woman said: “Sleep, I will go, but I will return to you.” There no one can separate us… “
“And he, or what he once was, remained in a silent land, entangled in the roots of grass and flowers, which had ceased until the spring.” There is only one left – in the middle of Russia. “