The stories that the author tells his readers, he heard in Bessarabia, working with Moldovans to collect grapes. One evening, having finished working, all the workers went to the sea, and in the shade of the grapes only the author and an elderly woman named Izergil were left to rest. The evening came, the shadows of the clouds floated across the steppe, and Izergil, pointing to one of the shadows, called her Larra, and told the author the ancient legend.
In one country, where the land is lavish and beautiful, a happy human tribe lived. People hunted, grazed herds, resting, singing and having fun. One day during the feast the eagle took one of the girls. She returned only after twenty years and brought with her a handsome and well-mannered young man. It turned out that all the years
When the eagle began to age, he rushed from a height to the rocks and died, and the woman decided to return home.
The son of the king of birds did not look different from people, only “his eyes were cold and proud.” He spoke disrespectfully to the elders, but looked down on other people altogether, saying that “like him, there is no more.”
The elders became angry and ordered him to go wherever he wanted – he had no place in the tribe. The young man went up to the daughter of one of them and embraced. But she, fearing the anger of her father, pushed him away. The son of an eagle hit a girl, she fell and died. The young man was seized and tied up. For a long time the tribesmen thought what punishment to choose. After listening to the sage, people realized that “punishment is in himself” and just let the young man go.
The hero was called Larra – “outcast”. Larra lived for many years, freely living near the tribe: stealing cattle, stealing girls. The arrows of people did not take him, covered up with the “invisible veil of a higher punishment.” But one day Larra approached the tribe, letting people know that he would not defend himself. One
Thus a man was punished for his excessive pride.
To the interlocutors from the shore came a wonderful singing.
The old woman Izergil said that only those who are in love with life can sing so beautifully. She “had enough blood” to live to her age precisely because love was the essence of her life. Izergil told the author about her youth. Before him passed one after another images of beloved old woman Izergil.
Fisherman from Prut, the first love of the heroine. Hutsul, hanged by the authorities for robbery. A wealthy Turk, with a sixteen-year-old son, escaped Izergil from a harem “from boredom” to Bulgaria. A small Pole monk, “funny and mean”. which for insulting words the heroine, having lifted, has dumped in the river. “A worthy pan with a severed face.” who loved exploits (for his sake, Izergil refused from the love of a man who showered her with gold coins). Vengr, who left Izergil (he was found in a field with a bullet through his head). Arkadek, handsome nobleman, saved by the heroine of captivity, the last love of the forty-year-old Izergil.
About the different minutes of her “greedy life” told the interlocutor woman. The time has come when she realized – it’s time to get a family. After she left for Moldova, she married and has been living here for about thirty years. By the time the author became acquainted with her, her husband was not alive for about a year, and she lived with Moldovans – grape harvesters. She needs them, she is good with them.
The woman finished the story. The interlocutors sat watching the nocturnal steppe. In the distance, there were blue lights that looked like sparks. Asked if the author sees them, Izergil said that these are sparks of Dunco’s burning heart. and began to tell another ancient legend.
In ancient times lived in the steppe proud, cheerful, fearless people. Their camps were surrounded on three sides by wild forests. Once other people’s tribes came to the land of people and drove them into the depths of the old impenetrable forest, where there were swamps and eternal darkness. From the stench, rising from the swamp, people who are used to the steppe spaces, died one after another. Strong and courageous, they could go against the enemies, “but they could not die in battle, because they had covenants, and if they died, then the covenants would be lost with them.” People sat and thought about how to be – but from the painful thoughts they weakened their spirit and in their hearts settled fear. They were ready to surrender to the enemy, but their friend Danko “saved all one”. Danko turned to the people, urging them to pass through the forest – because somewhere the forest had to end.
The road was long and difficult, the strength and faith in Danko remained with people ever less. Once during a severe thunderstorm people despaired. But they could not admit their weakness, instead they accused Danko of inability to bring them out of the forest. Like wild beasts, they were ready to rush at him and kill him. The young man regretted them, knowing that without him the tribesmen would perish. His heart burned with the desire to save people – because he loved them. Danko tore his heart from his chest and lifted it high above his head – it burned brighter than the sun itself. The hero went forward and forward, illuminating the road with the “torch of great love for people”. Suddenly the forest was over – there was a vast expanse of steppe in front of people. With joy Danko looked at the free land – and died. People did not pay attention to the death of the young man, they did not see the heart, which still burned near the body of the hero. Only one person noticed the heart, and, fearing something, stepped on him with his foot. A proud heart, splashing sparks around, faded. Since then, the blue lights appear in the steppe, which the author saw.
The old woman Izergil finished the story. Everything was quiet, and it seemed to the author that even the steppe was enchanted with the nobility of the brave Danko, who did not expect a reward for the heart burned for the sake of people.
Like any classical work, Gorky’s story brings the reader to thinking about the most important questions: what does a person live for, how should he live and what principles of life should he follow, what is freedom. The retelling of “Old Woman Izergil” gives an idea of the plot, the idea, the characters of the work. Reading the full text of the story will allow the reader to plunge into the bright and expressive world of Gorky heroes.