It was a long time ago, in a life that “will not return forever.” The narrator walked along a large road, and in front, in a small birch grove, the peasants mowed grass and sang.
The narrator was surrounded by fields of “middle-aged, primordial Russia”.
It seemed that there was not, and never was, time, or division of it into ages, for years in this forgotten – or blessed – God country.
The Koscians marched from afar “along our, Oryol sites” into even more fertile steppes, on the way helping to cope with copious haymaking. They were friendly, carefree and “eager to work.” From local braids they were distinguished by dialect, customs and clothes.
A week ago they mowed in the neighborhood of the storyteller’s estate to the forest. Passing by, he saw the braids “come to work” – drinking spring water, becoming in a row and letting the braids in a wide semicircle. When the narrator
was returning, the skeins were having supper. He noticed that they were eating “terrible mushroom-agaric mushrooms” cooked in a bowler hat. The narrator was horrified, and the braids, laughing, said: “Nothing, they are sweet, pure chicken!”.
Now they were singing, and the narrator was listening and could not understand “what is the wondrous charm of their song”. The charm was in blood relationship, which the narrator felt between himself and these simple braids, one with the surrounding nature.
And then there was… the charm, that this homeland, this our common home was – Russia, and that only her soul could sing as the barkers sang in this birch forest that responded to each sigh.
The singing was like a single sigh of a strong young chest. So it was directly and easily sung only in Russia. The Koscians walked, without the slightest effort, “exposing the glades ahead of them” and exhaled a song in which they “parted with their native land”, they longed and said goodbye before the death, but still did not believe in “this
hopelessness.” They knew that there would be no real separation, while above them “the native sky, and around – boundless Russia”, spacious, free and full of fabulous wealth.
The good fellow cried in the song, and his native land stood up for him, his animals and birds rescued him, he received carpets-planes and invisibility caps, the milk rivers flowed for him and tablecloths-self-scratches unfolded. He flew out of the dungeon with a clear falcon, and hid it from the enemies of the wilds.
And there was also in this song what the narrator and the braids felt: infinite happiness. These distant days have passed, for nothing lasts forever, “the ancient defenders abandoned their children… the prayers and spells are wiped out, Mother-Cheese-Earth withered.” The end has come, “the limit of God’s forgiveness.”