The man Ivan Afrikanovich Drynov is riding on the driftwood. I drank with the tractor driver Mishka Petrov and now he talks with the gelding Parmen. Lucky selpovo goods for the store, and drove drunk in the wrong village, then home only – in the morning… It’s a habit. And at night on the road, Ivan Afrikanovich is catching up with the same Mishka. Still drunk. And then Ivan Afrikanovich decides to co-opt Mishka his second cousin, a forty-year-old Nyushka-livestock specialist. She, however, with a thorn, but if you look from the left side, you can not see… Nyushka drives the friends out with a hook, and they have to spend the night in a bathhouse.
And just at this time the wife of Ivan Afrikanovich Katerina will be born the ninth, Ivan. And Katerina, although she had been forbidden by her medical assistant strictly, after giving birth – immediately to work, seriously ill. And Katerina recollects how Ivan Ivanov wandered with Peter the Great with a smart woman from their village Dasha Putanka and then, when Katerina forgave him, happily exchanged his Bible for “harmony” – to make his wife happy. And now Dasha does not want to take care of the calves, so Katerina has to work for her (otherwise the family will not feed). Exhausted by work and illness, Katerina suddenly faints. She’s taken to the hospital. Hypertension, stroke. And only more than two weeks later she returns home.
And Ivan Afrikanovich also remembers
It’s time for haymaking. Ivan Afrikanovich in the forest, secretly, for seven versts from the village mows at night. If you can not save three haystacks, there is nothing to feed the cow: ten percent of the hay on the collective farm suffices at most for a month. One night Ivan Afrikanovich takes Grishka’s young son with him, and the latter then tells the district commissioner by stupidity that he went to mow with his father at night. Ivan Afrikanovich is threatened with a court: he is a deputy of the village soviet, and then the same commissioner demands “to tell” who else in the woods at night mows, write a list… For this he promises to “not socialize” Draynov’s personal stacks. Ivan Afrikanovich negotiates with the neighbor’s chairman and, along with Katerina, goes to the forest to mow territory at night.
At this time, Mitka Polyakov, brother of Katerina, comes from Murmansk to their village without a penny of money. A week did not pass, as he watered the whole village, the bosses barked, Mishka took Dasha Putanka, and provided the cow with hay. And all seemingly. Dasha Putanka sings a bewitching potion to Mishka, and then he vomits for a long time, and a day later, on Mitkin’s instructions, they go to the village council and sign. Soon, Dashka tears off the reproduction of Rubens’ painting “The Union of Land and Water” from the Mishkino tractor (it shows a naked woman, generally believed to be Nyushka) and burns the “picture” in a kiln out of jealousy. Mishka almost throws the tractor Dashka, washing in the bath, with the bathhouse right into the river. As a result, the tractor is damaged, and illegally chopped hay is found in the attic of the bathhouse. Hay at the same time beginning to look for everyone in the village, the turn comes to Ivan Afrikanovich. Business usual.
Mitka is summoned to the police, to the district (for complicity in the damage of the tractor and for hay), but fifteen days are mistaken for fifteen days not to him, but to another Polyakov, also from Sosnovka (there are half a village Polyakov). Mishka is serving his fifteen days right in his village, without interruption of production, in the evenings drinking with a sergeant attached to him.
After Ivan Afrikanovich is deprived of all the hay secreted secretly, Mitka persuades him to leave the village and go to the Polar region for work. He does not want to leave his native places, but if he listens to Mitka, then there is no other way out… And Ivan Afrikanovich decides. The chairman does not want to give him a certificate on which you can get a passport, but Drinov threatens him with a poker in desperation, and the chairman suddenly wilts: “Though all run up…”
Now Ivan Afrikanovich is a free Cossack. He bids farewell to Katerina and suddenly everything is compressed from pain, pity and love for her. And, without saying anything, pushes it away, as if from shore to the pool.
And after his departure Katerina has to mow one. There, then, during mowing, and overtakes her second blow. Barely alive, they bring her home. And you can not go to a hospital like this – you will die, you will not take it.
And Ivan Afrikanovich returns to his native village. He was driving. And he tells the almost familiar guy from the distant village, how he went with Mitka, and he sold the onions and did not have time to jump on the train, and all the tickets remained with him. They landed Ivan Afrikanovich and demanded that he go back to the village within three hours, and they said that they will send a fine to the collective farm, but they did not say how to go, if not on anything. And suddenly – the train came up and from it tears Mitka. So here Ivan Afrikanovich and prayed: “I do not need anything, let me just go home.” They sold onions, bought a return ticket, and drove, finally, Drinov home.
And the guy in reply to the story informs the news: in the village of Ivan Afrikanovich the woman died, there were a lot of children left. The guy leaves, and Drinov suddenly falls on the road, clasps his head and rolls into a roadside ditch. He thumps his fist into the meadow, gnawing the ground…
Rogul, the cow of Ivan Afrikanovich, recalls his life, as if astonished at her, shaggy sun, warmth. She was always indifferent to herself, and her timeless immense contemplation was very rarely violated. Catherine Evstolya’s mother comes, she cries over her bucket and tells all the children to hug Rogul and say goodbye. Drinov asks Mishka to slaughter a cow, he can not. Meat is promised to be taken to the dining room. Ivan Afrikanovich sorts out the Rogulins, and tears fall on his bloody fingers.
The children of Ivan Afrikanovich, Mitka and Vaska, are given to a shelter,
Antoshku – in the school. Mitka wrote that they sent Katyusha to him in Murmansk, but it was painfully small. Remain Grishka with Marusya and two babies. And it’s difficult: Eustollia is old, her hands are thin. She remembers how Caterina before her death, already without a memory, called her husband: “Ivan, windy, oh, Ivan, windy like!”
After the death of his wife Ivan Afrikanovich does not want to live. Goes overgrown, terrible and smokes bitter rural tobacco. And Nyushka takes care of his children.
Ivan Afrikanovich goes into the woods (looking for aspen for a new boat) and suddenly sees on the branch a kerchief Katerina. Swallowing her tears, she inhales the bitter, birth-like smell of her hair… We must go. Go. Gradually, he realizes that he has lost his way. And without bread in the woods kayuk. He thinks a lot about death, more and more weakens, and only on the third day, when he is already crawling on the crooks, suddenly hears a tractor hum. And after saving his friend Mishka at first thinks that Ivan Afrikanovich is drunk, so he does not understand anything. Business usual.
… Two days later, on the fortieth day after Katerina’s death, Ivan Afrikanovich, sitting on the grave of his wife, tells her about the children, says that it is bad for him without her that she will go to her. And he asks to wait… “My dear, my fair… you have brought a mountain ash to you…”
He is trembling all over. Grief melts it on a cold, not overgrown ground. And no one sees this.