Once in the fall on the big road two crews were traveling. In the front carriage were two women. One was a mistress, thin and pale. The other is the maid, rosy and full.
She folded her hands on her knees and closed her eyes, swaying weakly on the pillows and coughing. She wore a white night cap, parted straight through her blond, extremely flat, pomaded hair, and there was something dry and deadly in the whiteness of this parting. A flaccid, yellowish skin tightened the thin and beautiful outlines of the face and blushed on cheeks and cheekbones. The face of the lady expressed fatigue, irritation and habitual suffering.
It was stuffy in the carriage. The patient slowly opened her eyes. With brilliant dark eyes, she eagerly watched the movements
The carriage and the carriage drove into the village, the sick woman, looking at the village church, began to be baptized. They stopped at the station. Out of the carriage came the husband of a sick woman and a doctor, approached the carriage and inquired sympathetically:
“How do you feel?”
“If it’s bad for me, it’s not reasonable that you do not have breakfast,” the patient said. “No one cares about me,” she added to herself as soon as the doctor trotted up the steps of the station.
“I said: it’s not only up to Italy, it can not reach Moscow,” said the doctor.
– What is there to do? said the husband. – She makes plans about living abroad, as healthy. Tell her everything – kill her.
– Yes, she is already killed, a clergyman is needed.
– Aksyusha! – the caretaker’s daughter screeched, – let’s go to the mistress, let’s see that from a breast illness abroad they are being taken. I have
“It seems that it has become terrible,” the patient thought, “if only I can sooner go abroad, I will soon recover.”
“Shall we return to it?” said the husband, coming to the carriage and chewing a piece.
“What about home? … To die at home?” the patient flared up. But the word “die” frightened her, she looked pleadingly and inquiringly at her husband, he silently lowered his eyes. The patient burst into tears.
“No, I’ll go.” She prayed long and fervently, but her chest was also painfully and cramped, in the sky, in the fields it was just as gray and cloudy, and the same autumn mist was falling on the coachmen who, talking in strong, cheerful voices, laid the carriage. The
coach was laid, but the coachman hesitated. He went into the stuffy, dark Yamskoy hut. Several coachmen were in the room, the cook was fumbling around the stove, a sick man lay on the stove.
“I want to ask for a boot, I’ve beaten my own,” the guy said. “Uncle Fyodor?” he asked, walking to the stove.
– FAQ? – heard a weak voice, and a red, thin face bent down from the stove.
“You do not need new boots now,” the guy said, shifting. – Give it to me.
The sulky, dim eyes of Fedor rose with difficulty to the boy, something began to pour in his chest and grumble; he leaned over and began to choke on a cough.
“Where is it?” The cook suddenly snapped angrily and loudly. “The second month has not come off the stove.” In the new boots will not be buried. And it’s high time, took the whole angle!
“Take your boots, Seryoga,” the patient said, suppressing the cough. “Only, you hear, buy a stone as I die,” he wheezed, he added.
“Thank you, uncle, but I will buy a stone, for her.”
Serega quickly took off his broken boots and threw it under the bench. The new boots of Uncle Fedor were just right.
In the hut until the evening the patient was not heard. Before the night the cook climbed onto the stove.
“Do not be angry with me, Nastasya,” the patient said to her, “I’ll soon overtake your corner.”
“All right, well, nothing,” Nastasya murmured.
At night, the night light in the hut faded, everyone was asleep, only the patient weakly grunted, coughed and turned. By morning he had calmed down.
“I saw a wonderful dream,” the cook said the next morning. “It’s as if Uncle Fyodor’s got a tear from the stove and went to chop wood.” Well, I say, you were sick after all. No, he says, I’m healthy, but I can swing an ax. I’m not dead yet? Uncle Fyodor!
The patient did not have any relatives – he was distant, so the next day he was buried. Nastasya told me about her dream for several days, and about the fact that Uncle Fyodor was the first to miss.
* * *
Spring came, it was joyful in heaven, on earth, and in the heart of man. In a large manor house on one of the main streets was the same patient who was hurrying abroad. At the door of her room stood a husband and an elderly woman. On the couch sat a priest. In the corner, her mother cried bitterly. The husband in great excitement and confusion asked the cousin to persuade the sick to confess. The priest looked at him, raised his eyebrows to the sky and sighed.
“I’ll tell you, in my parish there was a sick woman, much worse than Marya Dmitrievna,” said the priest, “and what, a simple petty bourgeois cured her in a short time.”
“No, she’s no longer living,” the old woman said, and her feelings left her. The patient’s husband covered his face with his hands and ran out of the room.
In the corridor, he met a six-year-old boy, running into catch-up with the girl. When asked by the nurse, he said that the patient does not want to see the children, that it will upset her. The boy stopped for a moment, gazed intently at his father and ran off with a cheerful cry.
And in another room the cousin skillfully talked to prepare the patient for death. The doctor at the window interfered with drinking. The patient, all covered in pillows, was sitting on the bed.
“If my husband had listened to me before, I would have been in Italy and would have been healthy.” How much I have suffered. I tried to patiently endure my sufferings… The
cousin came out and blinked at her father. Five minutes later he left the sick room, and the cousin and husband came. The patient was crying quietly, looking at the image.
“How good it is now for me,” the patient said, and a slight smile played on her thin lips. “Is not God really merciful and omnipotent?” – And she again, with a greedy entreaty, looked at the image full of tears.
Then she said, as if remembering something:
– How many times have I said that these doctors do not know anything, there are simple medicines, they cure… The
doctor came up and took her by the hand – the pulse fought ever weaker. The doctor blinked at her husband, the patient noticed and looked around in fright. Cousin turned away and cried.
The same evening the patient lay in a coffin in the hall, in which sat one deacon and read the psalms. A bright light fell on the pale forehead of the deceased, on her waxen hands. The sexton, not understanding his words, read it gently, from time to time a child’s voices and footfall came from a distant room.
The deceased’s face was strict, calm, majestic and motionless. She was all attention. But did she even understand these great words now?
* * *
A stone chapel was built over the grave of the deceased a month later. Over the grave of the coachman, there was still no stone…
– You would have put a cross, – they blamed Serega. “You’re wearing boots.” Take the ax and go to the grove early, and you will wipe out the cross.
Early in the morning, Serega took an ax and went into the grove. Nothing broke the silence of the forest. Suddenly, a strange, strange sound to the nature spread on the edge. One of the tops trembled, then the tree shuddered all over, bent and quickly straightened. For a moment everything was quiet, but again the tree bent, again there was a crack in its trunk, and, breaking the branch and lowering the branches, it fell to the damp earth.
The first rays of the sun made their way through the cloud and ran through the earth. The birds were shouting, something happy was chattering; the leaves whispered joyfully and quietly in the peaks, and the branches of the living trees slowly, staggeringly moved over the dead tree, drooping…