The village girl Tanya wakes up from the cold. The mother has already risen and thunders. The wanderer who spent the night in their hut does not sleep either. He starts to ask Tanka, and the girl tells that they had to sell the cow and horse, there was only one calf.
Sale of the horse especially crashed into Tankin’s memory. She recalls how my father bargained with the gloomy horse-burgers for a long time, sold the horse for a song, then barely released the wet nurse from the yard, and the mother spoke for a long time standing in the middle of the hut.
Then came October, hit the frost, and “Tanya every day had to be surprised at his mother.” Last winter, Tanya and even her younger brother Vaska went to bed late, basking on the stove. The father near the table
In that winter, children were not often released from the hut. When they were asking for a pond, the mother coaxed them with a cup of hot potatoes and a slice of steeply salted bread, and for dinner they always had a thick soup with slices of bacon.
Now the mother does not give any bread or potatoes in the morning, dresses the children and herself releases them on the pond. In the evening she early puts Tanka and Vaska to bed, and when they start asking to eat, says that there is nothing to supper.
My father left for work long ago, he was at home only once, he said that everywhere “trouble” – no sheepskin coats are sewn, and he only repairs them here and there among rich men. Only once my father brought herrings and even a piece of salt pike perch. When my father left again, there is almost completely stopped.
Tanya pretends to be asleep and hears how the mother tells the wanderer about the famine that swept the whole district, and cries because the children have nothing to eat. In order not to ask for food and not to upset her mother, Tanya quietly dresses and goes to the pond, intending to return only in the evening.
On the way
Noticing that the coachman had lost his leather whip along the road, Pavel Antonych sent him to search and went on alone. Passing through the village, he notices Tanka, who stands on the sidelines and warms her blue hand in the mouth. Pavel Antonych stops, lures the girl into a sleigh and carries her to his estate. He wraps in a fur hungry, chilled and ragged child, and in his senile heart it becomes warmer. The coachman next to him, Pavel Antonych would not have dared to do it.
Pavel Antonych holds Tanya in all the rooms of the estate, treats with prunes, gives a few pieces of sugar that the girl hides for her mother, makes the clock play and plays the guitar. Then they drink tea with milk and pretzels for a long time.
Tanya falls asleep, and Pavel Antonych recalls the neighboring villages, their starving inhabitants, thinks about what awaits Tanya, the future village beauty. Gently treading boots, he comes up, kisses the sleeping girl and looks at the portrait of his son for a long time.
And Tanka dreamed of the garden surrounding the estate, and the sleigh running between the trees. Vaska dreams, the music of the clock and the voice of his mother, who sings or sings sad old songs.