I. N. Ptashnikov
The novel describes the tragedy of the burnt village of Dalva. The novel takes place in 1944.
Nasta was walking along the old field, driven out by cattle and carts. On his back lay a heavy and slippery sack. She poured so many rye that she could throw herself on her back, pour it, fearing, and suddenly not enough, because the German ordered to bring three poods from each yard. Rye was poured into an old trunk, which was buried in an old pit from under potatoes. Vlasovtsy for a long time did not miss it, everyone asked where it was hidden and what was hidden. Rye in a bag Nasta poured a long tin box from the cartridges. The box was left in the hut by the Lunin people: they came from under Logoisk and two weeks stood in their village.
Entering the yard, Nasta saw that near the barn on the ground are full bags of grain. She began to pour the rye out of her bag into someone else’s. Nasta tore the bag around the corners and felt that the rye did not want to get enough sleep, something was stopping. Looking at the complete foreign bag, she saw: on top of the grain is a white tin box from the cartridges. Pouring grain, Nastya put it in a bag and forgot. Immediately darkened in the eyes, and his legs buckled. Everyone looked at Nastu – both the Germans and the Vlasovites. She turned and went, every minute waiting for a shot in the back. In the middle of the street I thought that I was still alive, and, stopping, looked back. Behind no one was.
In the hut at the table sat Vlasovites, ate something. Nasta sat down on the bed and suddenly remembered that she had a bunch of tola under the bench, he was lunched there and forgotten. She was petrified with fear. Then she heard the door open. The threshold was crossed by another Vlasovite. He waved his hand, and the Vlasovites jumped out of the hut. He laid white woolen gloves on the corner of the table, took out of his pocket a small ball of thread, the same white as gloves, and ordered: “Stop, and quickly.” Nasta saw that one of the gloves had not got a thumb attached, pulled out the knitting needles and sat at the window. The white globule fell to the floor and rolled under the bench. Vlasovets bent down, shuffled his feet on the floor and hooked on the floor. The whole pile was scattered. Vlasovets turned white as a chalk, and grabbed his rifle. Nasta thought that now Vlasov will shoot her, and no one will see or hear. A bolt jingled, and two more Vlasovites and Boganchik entered the hut. It was necessary to go to Krasnoe, to take the rye, because she had a horse. Throw the children and go. Everyone in the village who has horses will go.
Nasta was traveling last in the train. On the gaty, I climbed down from the cart to make it easier for Bulanchik to carry. I walked and thought about the children: will I be able to return to them. His legs hurt. They rode and rowed up the mountain. From Mount Nasta I saw all the divers well. The front was Ivan Boganchik riding a gray stallion, which he had brought from the river at night. The black beard of Boganchika was visible from afar. Behind him, urging the bay-bearded Siberian, Miron Makhorka-Koreshki rode in a black shirt; followed by Volodya Panok – it is clear how his gray head is shaking from shaking. Panka caught up with the pock-marked mare Tanya Polianshchinka: behind Tanya, dangling his head in a big black cap, old Yanuk Tvoyat was driving; on the sixth cart was lying on his stomach and Sergei did not look at anyone Alyosha. Dite is still quite, the year of the year for him. Behind him was Bullanchik.
There was nothing to breathe-dust was above the road pillar. At the end of the village, a machine-gun hit, bullets whistled along the side of the road, overhead. Nasta began to chase Bulanchika, but he did not run: the front cart was in the way. “Alyosha was killed,” she thought suddenly. A village street full of people and Sergeyikh with twins arose before her eyes-she was driven by two Vlasovts to Mironovaya hut. When Nasta approached the cart, she saw that Alyosha was lying face down on the bags. Near the cart, Yanuk, who was deaf, was mumbling and mumbling in confusion. Nasta started calling other men, and when she looked back, Alyosha was sitting on the cart and rubbing his eyes with his fists. The boy slept like a slain. The train started off again, but after a while again, he wounded Tanya.
Tanya’s mother was sick and did not want to go with everyone to Korcevatki, drove Tanya alone. That morning, when the Germans began to bombard the village, they began to gather too late, knit knots. When it was time to harness the mare, there was no one to help. So they would not have left, if Yuzyuk, the eldest son of Sergeyikh, had not come to the rescue. He said that he came for Tanya, persuaded her to leave her mother in Korchevatki and go with him for Dvyanos, but Tanya could not leave her sick mother, she considered herself an adult – she was already fifteen.
Tanya saw that Alyosha and Nasta fell far behind, and thought that Nastya had let Alyosha go home. It became offensive: Alyosha was released, but she was not. Do not let go of the thought of the mother: how she is there alone. When Mahorka and the Vlasovites came to take the mare, her mother drove Tanya into the submariners, as if she were afraid of something. Suddenly, Tanya felt that she was wet under her feet. I got a knee pain in my knee – it burned like fire. From somewhere the white moths appeared and closed the light. Releasing the reins from her hands, Tanya fell on the sacks.
The leg was bandaged, as best they could, with the hem of Nastya’s shirt. The leg does not hurt anymore, only it’s very heavy. Tanya saw Alyosha, he sat ruffling on his cart. Adults began to curse: Nasta wants to return to the village, and Boganchik does not let him, screams that because of her, Dalvu will be burned. Finally they decided to go to Ludvinovo, and then it will be seen.
Ahead, where the road went uphill, a small cloud of white dust rose. Near the very entrance the cloud rose, obscuring everything around. From under the dust one by one, small black motorcycles began to jump out, like big pot-bellied mice. There were a lot of motorcycles and they were Germans: in green, in helmets, two, three on each. The carts stopped. The smell of heat burned, and Tanya remembered how, before the war, their village was burning.
The motorcycle stopped near Boganchika, blocking off the road to him. From it, the teardrop German in a cap with cords on a visor. Another German with a submachine gun on his chest remained sitting in a stroller. “What a stupid train?” asked the German in his cap in a squeaky voice, pointing his finger almost at Boganchik’s chest. Tanya saw the German waving his hand in a white glove and from below hit Boganchika in the jaw. The second German turned and pointed the men to the machine gun. “Who’s literate? Let him out,” said the German with gloves. Tanya saw how Boganchik separated from everyone, stepped sideways toward the German and handed him the paper. He showed it in the village when they were going on the road, and the Germans checked the carts. The German did not believe the paper, he decided that the rye is stolen. He retreated to the bike and pointed the gun at Boganchik’s head. “You, the beast, are responsible for the convoy!” cried the German. The white glove immediately slipped the gun into its holster and again shot up. The sound of a blow was heard. Boganchik, rested his back on Tanya’s cart, groaned, waved his hands in front of him – defended himself; then fell to his knees, into the sand. “You will go along the highway, in the forest there may be bandits,” Tanya heard a squeaky voice.
The train was already moving, when suddenly Yanuk came up to the German with gloves and began to mumble, begging for a cigarette. The German hissed, stretching his neck. His hand drew a pistol from his holster and slowly rose. Tanya thought that the German was now sure to kill Yanuka. Tanya does not remember how she found herself near Yanuk. She spread her arms, hiding him from the German, and cried… She felt the German hit her hard on the arm, and stepped on her aching leg. Opening her eyes, Tanya saw that she was lying beside Yanukova’s cart, and Yanuk and Nastia were bending over her.
It was hot in the dell. Boganchik suddenly thought that he was sitting in a pillbox under Red, in a loophole with a machine gun. Red stood behind Dvynosa, two highways intersected in it: Kraysk – Borisov and Dokshitsy – Minsk. Dots grew into the ground on the river bank, like huge gray boulders. In Red all the men from Dalva came a week ago, on the summons to the military enlistment office. From Red they were all immediately sent to Borisov, and Boganchika – he was in a Finnish machine-gunner – was sent back, under Dokshitsy, to the unit. Two days later they occupied the pillboxes under the Red: there were already Germans in Dokshitsy and Begoml. The ground and the walls of the pillbox trembled – they beat the sorrel. Then the Germans began to hit the pillbox against the river. Boganchik jumped out of the pillbox and ran along the shore. “Stop! I’ll shoot!” – shouted the captain, but Boganchika felt that they were not shouting to him. He crossed the river and ran to the side where the sun had set, on Tartak, bypass of the highway. There was a house in that direction.
All got off the carts and walked a bunch. Boganchik knew that now Mahorka would laugh at him all the way, and when he returned to Dalva, he would begin to tell how Boganchik was kneeling before the German. Boganchik said, without looking at Makhorka, that he would not go further with him, he would not incur his head under a bullet. Mahorka disliked Boganchika, he knew that he was a deserter. Boganchik grabbed Makhorka by the breasts, Nastya rushed to separate them, the other peasants threw themselves at Boganchik with a curse, reminding him of a lime concussion. Then the horses went from the mountain, and Boganchik no longer heard what they were saying about him.
We drove into the Ludvinovsky forest. And suddenly, in the direction where Ludvinovo was, someone shouted, and immediately the shots rattled. When Boganchik saw the flame, it seemed to him that he was burning somewhere very close. The flames shot up at the end of Ludvinov, where they wanted to go. A machine-gun was beamed behind the lasagna; on the road that turned off the highway to Ludvinovo, the cars roared. “Germans, back, over the river!” shouted Boganchik. People got into a pile, and he stayed on the road, away from everyone. Field covered the smoke – up to the forest.
Alyosha again dozed off. He was rocking, like at home on a swing. The swing was set by the father before leaving for the “Struggle” against Sukhov. That day his father sent him for Nastya, then in the hut for a long time and loudly screamed mother. Alyosha did not sleep all night, he listened to the creak of a creak near the mother’s bed,
Alyosha opened his eyes. Nasta bent over him, waking her. The sun had already set. Alyosha saw that all the submariners had met at Tanya’s cart and looked where the village should be. Instead of Zavishin, only white stoves stood in the kitchen gardens. People were nowhere to be found.
The scouts began to cross the river. Beyond the river suddenly a dust rose, white as ash, and struck the ground, as if a tree had collapsed. The second time it was rushed in the river itself, not far from them. Then a long shot from the machine gun – apparently the Germans noticed them from the highway.
Alyosha remembered how, at the end of the winter, when Zheleznyak took the garrison in Dolginov, Yuzyuk brought Vandya and his mother to Dalva. Tanya then led Vandu to them on a swing. Alyosha had never seen such a beautiful girl.
Alyosha leaned his elbows on the sacks, looked around: it was already dark, they stood in the forest. Alyosha felt that he wanted to eat. The last time he ate, it seems, last night in Korchevatki. “If you go, then only by the forest, on Tartak,” said Mahorka. On that and decided. They drove out into the clearing and again began: in front of them, someone groaned heavily in the dense thickets of pine. We thought – a man, but it was a wounded moose, old, with huge horns. Los died for a long time, digging the ground with hoofs and horns. Then the train started off. Raising his head from time to time, Alyosha could hear the sound of a dull knock on the roots of the wheel.
He leaned on his elbow and picked up his legs. It was cold, as in the morning in Korchevatki. Then there was a cold fog in the marsh, but they were afraid to fire. Children, all three, slept, covered with one casing. The fourth one, Vanya, was at Verka’s. Punk beat a cough, and he clamped his hand over his mouth so that it was not audible. At last he made a fire in a rotten stump under the tree. Panok heard the bucket buckle Werk – went to milk the cow. Here, in the swamp, only they have one cow. They have a baby on their hands, and Verka lost milk, probably from fright. Suddenly, a rush for the alder, and zastrekotal machine gun in the forest. Panok saw Veerka with the children and a knot on his shoulders disappeared into the louse, but he did not abandon the cow, dragged him behind him through the swamp. On the way, he fell into a quagmire, and the cow pulled him to a dry place. In the fir grove Panok saw people, ahead of all was Verka with her son in her arms. Everyone froze, lost in a heap. Suddenly the cow, seeing Veerka, zamychala and rushed to her. Then Panok pulled an ax from behind his belt and struck the cow with his butt between the horns with all his might. Immediately he coughed; The ax fell out of his hands and struck against the hard earth – near the inanimate cow.
It became cold. Ahead, above Tartak, a pale greenish dawn began to glow. Panok thought that the hungry son was shouting somewhere to the whole place. It was not necessary to destroy the cow, all the same the Germans found all. When it was again shod with something close, Panok jumped from the surprise to the cart. Ahead of him, above Krasny, the edge of the brown sky was trembling; then it diminished, became thick and red. In the same direction was Dalva. Nasta gurgled at the children. Everyone got together in a bunch. Nobody wanted to believe that it was burning Dalva. Mahorka proposed to go to Punishche and there to be buried.
Yanuk lay on his bags all the way, he thought that he had completely weakened and would not leave the cart until Red. Falling once in the spring on the bank, when the snow was still falling, Yanuk chilled and almost completely deaf. He then had a son, Pilip, now there is also a grandson, Kolechka. Now Yanuk only remembers the knocking of an ax and the tinkling of a latch, but he still hears when the firing is close. Yanuk recalls how the grandson of Kolechka took the first steps, how he went to tear the bast in the summer, and in the winter he wove the bast shoes for the whole family.
Makhorka again had a fire: Dalva was burning. Then he carried water along with everyone, watered the roofs so that the fire did not spread to the other side of the village. That night Sergei’s hut was burnt.
When Mahorka opened his eyes, it was already light. Panok bent over him, waking him. And then Mahorka heard distinctly how quietly and densely the forest roared. Then it seemed that it was buzzing in the road ahead, just behind Tartak. Getting closer, Mahorka saw that Boganchik was chewing something. It turned out that he typed in a pocket of grain and chewed it like a horse, should be all night. The makhorka is completely weakened without food. He thought that it had never occurred to him to untie the bag and heat it into the pockets of the rye. Meanwhile, Boganchik again started shaking the paper received from the Germans before Makhorkin’s nose and shouting that he would not go anywhere. In the end, Boganchik struck Mahorka in the jaw. When Mahorka grabbed Boganchika by the breast, he felt that he had all gone limp, like a rag, and squinted – he was afraid. Makhorka did not respond to the blow, did not want to dirty his hands.
The wheels rustled on dry gravel, and Alyosha remembered how, along with his mother, he buried a chest of grain in a stable before leaving for Korchevatki. When they got out of the shed, they saw that our troops were receding through Dalvu.
Alyosha awoke from the cold. The log ended. Ahead came a forest. Beyond the river, suddenly a heavy roaring sounded. Alyosha thought that he saw dust, white, rare, barely perceptible, over the pines. For a pine forest, the cars were buzzing, somewhere there was jarring, like a bolt in the passage. “Men, the Germans!” Nasta cried suddenly. Alyosha saw that all the men were ahead in the road, raising their hands up. On either side of them stood Germans with automatic weapons in their hands – two on each side. Alyosha was also driven to the men. Then the Germans drove all ahead of themselves along the old path to Tartak. Alyosha felt that his mouth was suddenly filled with saliva, his head began to spin, and he began to sink somewhere, like into a pit. When Mahorka picked Alyosha from the ground, he saw blood on his hands-she was walking beside Alyosha from the nose. Mahorka remembered how this winter, in a thaw, they smuggled guerrillas across the river, and Alyosha nearly drowned. Then Mahorka saved him. Mahorka told Alesha to the cart on hand. Everyone was at their waggons – so the Germans ordered. Apparently, they will drive everyone ahead of themselves through Tartak. Here, on the forest road, the Germans are afraid of mines and ambushes, here they hide behind the backs of others.
After the bridge, the road led to the old felling. Tartak began. This place was once a tartak – a sawmill. The Germans followed Nastya with a wide horseshoe cart. The carts were already in Tartak itself, when Mahorka heard the shot. He was shaken from below and thrown off the cart. On the road near the bridge, shots rattled. Nasta rushed to him. Pank’s horse jerked off the road into the pine forest. Makhorka jumped to Tanya’s cart and grabbed Tanya under the mice, pulled him to the sand, then rushed to Alyosha. Looking at the road, Mahorka saw how Germans rushed in here, into the ravine, as if someone had turned a mouse nest. It is evident that the Germans were ambushed. Mahorka saw how suddenly Alyoshin’s horse rose to the back legs, then fell heavily, his head buried in the sand. Mahorka straightened at the cart and stole Alyosha on the ground. Then he felt him hit something hard and hard in the back. His legs broke off, his shoulder felt hot and wet. Hitting the ground, Mahorka felt himself choking, and could only raise his hand.
Panok recalled how they chose potatoes before the guerrillas came to Dalva when the horse carried it. He rested his feet in the front, pulled on the reins, and suddenly he was thrown up. Then he flew into the pit along with sacks and a cart. Overhead, it whistled. Panok felt his hands twitch violently. The head began to spin, the earth floated upwards. He felt that he was being dragged somewhere along the ground and thought that the horse was dragging him home, to the village.
Yanuka, when he was looking from the cart to the road where the Germans were going, it was thought that he was at home, in Dalva near the school, to which they moved immediately after the fire. Yanuk then saw the Germans for the first time. One of the Germans tore off his head a new helmet – Pilip brought it last year from the Finnish war, – put it on a pole at the gate, snatched a white wide dagger and smashed it on the red star.
Yanuk saw that everyone was running somewhere, and realized that shooting began. Looking back, he saw Alyosha in a ravine, in the grass; I thought that his grandson, son and daughter-in-law had gone to Palik with the partisans-they would live. Yanuk felt a blow to his head. It seemed that they cut the dagger from the top of the head like a Red Army helmet. It became cold, it seemed that he was going home, to Dalva, after the sleigh. Yanuk had time to feel how he was falling from the cart: he bumped his head against something hard.
Tanya started to shake again. An aching leg died, it became heavy – you can not move it. Yuzyuk remembered that he was already somewhere far away, behind Dvinosa. Tanya felt that she was lying on the ground. Nasta bent over her and dragged her somewhere. It was cold again, my back was getting wetter. Then Nasta screamed and let Tanya out of her hands. Opening her eyes, Tanya saw a German on the side. In his hands the automatic machine was shaking. She did not have time to close her hands.
Nastya thought that she could hear the wind blowing from the courtyard into double frames. The unshrugged sewing machine knocks on the table – Nasta sews white camouflage gowns for the partisans from the tablecloths. From a long work, the eyelids stick together and the arms ache. In the hall the latch clanged – partisans entered into the hut, with them Sukhov. There were no more places, and the guerrillas kept coming, knocking at the threshold.
When Nasta opened her eyes, the sun was high. She wanted to get up, but she was led to the side, her back ached. She hardly crawled along the grass to Tanya, clinging to the dry heather with her fingers. When Nasta crawled out onto the road, she saw that Yanukov had been killed. Two were killed: Tanya and Yanuka. Neither Boganchik, nor Pank, nor Makhorka could be seen. Then she saw Makhorka-he was lying face down beside Aleshin’s cart. Nasta fell to the ground and felt that someone was bending over her. She recognized Sukhov from the Struggle. He was helped by someone high, as if Tareyev from the “Avenger”. “The partisans came running to save us,” thought Nasta, feeling that she was blind.
Boganchik ran down the hill, looking back every minute. Where his stallion with the cart, he did not remember. “To hell with them,” he thought. Here it was impossible to remain – the grave, we must run to the Red. The forest caught fire, and Boganchik ran to escape the fire. He ran out to the clearing and got directly to the dots. They fired at the felling. It seemed to the Bogachnik that he had been hit by a hoof in the belly with his hoofs, then pushed something hard and hot into his chest. Raising his head, he saw his guts – they were lying beside him on the sand. Writhing with pain, he saw the white pillbox darken and crumble, like a pile of ashes.
Alyosha fled to the mountain-along the sand and along the rye. Running to the road, he saw two old pines that had stood earlier near the farm. Then he recognized the street – no houses. Alyosha’s legs trembled. He realized that he was standing near Boganchikov’s fence. Alyosha thought that Yuzyuk was somewhere in Palik. Yuzuk remained alive.
In the sky hung clouds, black as earth, with yellow edges; crawled over the river – for Dalvu.