The Cook's Wedding and Other Stories
A Day In The Country
BETWEEN eight and nine o'clock in the morning.
A dark leaden-coloured mass is creeping over the sky towards the sun. Red zigzags of
lightning gleam here and there across it. There is a sound of far-away rumbling. A warm
wind frolics over the grass, bends the trees, and stirs up the dust. In a minute there will be
a spurt of May rain and a real storm will begin.
Fyokla, a little beggar-girl of six, is running through the village, looking for Terenty the
cobbler. The white-haired, barefoot child is pale. Her eyes are wide-open, her lips are
"Uncle, where is Terenty?" she asks every one she meets. No one answers. They are all
preoccupied with the approaching storm and take refuge in their huts. At last she meets
Silanty Silitch, the sacristan, Terenty's bosom friend. He is coming along, staggering
from the wind.
"Uncle, where is Terenty?"
"At the kitchen-gardens," answers Silanty.
The beggar-girl runs behind the huts to the kitchen-gardens and there finds Terenty; the
tall old man with a thin, pock-marked face, very long legs, and bare feet, dressed in a
woman's tattered jacket, is standing near the vegetable plots, looking with drowsy,
drunken eyes at the dark storm-cloud. On his long crane-like legs he sways in the wind
like a starling-cote.
"Uncle Terenty!" the white-headed beggar-girl addresses him. "Uncle, darling!"
Terenty bends down to Fyokla, and his grim, drunken face is overspread with a smile,
such as come into people's faces when they look at something little, foolish, and absurd,
but warmly loved.
"Ah! servant of God, Fyokia," he says, lisping tenderly, "where have you come from?"
"Uncle Terenty," says Fyokia, with a sob, tugging at the lapel of the cobbler's coat.
"Brother Danilka has had an accident! Come along!"
"What sort of accident? Ough, what thunder! Holy, holy, holy. . . . What sort of
"In the count's copse Danilka stuck his hand into a hole in a tree, and he can't get it out.
Come along, uncle, do be kind and pull his hand out!"