I rode with hunting one evening, on the road droshky. A heavy thunderstorm caught me on the road. Somehow I was buried under a broad bush and waited patiently for the end of the storm. Suddenly, with a flash of lightning, I saw a tall figure on the road. It turned out to be a forester here. He took me to his house – a small hut in the middle of a vast courtyard surrounded by a fence. The hut consisted of one room. In the very middle hung a cradle with a baby, which was rocked by a barefoot girl of 12 years old. I realized that the hostess was not in the hut. From all angles poverty looked.
Finally I could see the forester. He was tall, broad-shouldered and well built, his stern and masculine face overgrown with a beard, his small brown eyes boldly looked out from under his broad brows. Forester introduced himself as Thomas, nicknamed Biryuk. From Ermolai I often heard stories about Biryuk, who all the neighboring peasants feared. From his forest it was impossible to bear even a bundle of brushwood – he was strong and courageous, like a demon. It was impossible to bribe him, and it’s not easy to survive with light.
I asked if he had a mistress. Biryuk answered with a cruel smile that his wife had left the children and fled with the passer-by. He could not give me a treat: there was nothing in the house except bread. Meanwhile, the thunderstorm ended and we went out into the yard. Biryuk said that he hears the sound of an ax; I did not hear anything.
Again the rain fell. With difficulty we reached the forest lodge. I made myself clear at all costs to free the poor man. By the light of the lantern, I could see his drenched, wrinkled face and lean body. Soon the peasant began to ask Foma to let him go, but the forester did not agree. Suddenly the peasant straightened up, a face appeared on his face, and he began scolding Biryuk, calling him a beast.
Biriuk grabbed the peasant, released his hands in one movement and ordered him to go to hell. I was surprised and realized that in fact Biryuk was a nice fellow. Half an hour later he said goodbye to me at the edge of the forest.
A first-person story. The hunter was returning home from the hunt. The house was still eight versts away. Clouds rose from behind the forest, and a thunder storm was coming. The heat and stuffiness were gone, and a damp cool came over them. Accelerating, the hunter drove into the forest. The wind howled loudly, and the drops pounded on the leaves. Having sheltered under a bush, the hunter was going to wait there for inclement weather. At the next flash of lightning, in the distance appeared a tall figure. It was a local forester. He offered to hide from the storm in his hut. The hunter agreed and they went. He lived in a one-room hut standing in the middle of a wide courtyard. In the middle of the hut there was a cradle with a child, a barefoot girl, whose appearance was no more than twelve, was swaying.
The situation was poor and it was clear throughout that the hostess was not here. The forester was a tall, broad-shouldered brown-eyed man. It was called Foma, nicknamed Biryuk. Yermolai said that Biryuk was afraid of everyone, he did not allow us to take out even a little brushwood from the forest. He was strict and incorruptible. When asked where his wife was, he replied that she had fled with the middleman, abandoning him with the children. In the house of edible was only bread, so that the guest had nothing to offer. After the storm, the hunter and the forester came out into the yard. Biryuk heard the sound of an ax, and went for a gun. They went to the place where the sound came from. Biryuk overtook the hunter and accelerated, then the sounds of struggle and plaintive squeals were heard. Having reached the place where the tree was cut down, the hunter saw a lying tree and a nearby thief bound by a forester. He was bearded and dressed in rags, it was clear throughout that this man was poor. Hunter asked to release him and promised to pay for the damage. The forester did not answer. The rain started off with renewed vigor, and the travelers returned home.
The peasant asked the forester to release him, but he was adamant. Suddenly he got angry and started shouting at Biryuk, calling him an animal. Suddenly, the forester unbuttoned the thief’s hands and drove away. The hunter was surprised. Half an hour later they said goodbye to the edge of the forest.