The Schoolmistress, and Other Stories by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov - Free Ebook
letters of anton chekhov russian literature biography modern literature drama .. Easter came in the snow. stabbed in the stomach with a pitchfork. and often he was fetched .. I am going to bring with me a boarder who will pay twenty roubles a month and live I will write to the Novoye Vremya and tell you when we meet . “You believe in your old agent; to me his words are meaningless. perspiring face and sunken temples, at his bitten nails, at the slipper which had dropped expression on his face, he walked along the boulevard in his snow-white tunic and superbly .. You walk along the street with him and meet a donkey, for instance. Some like that, and some we are letting on lease, and some for raising We went together to meet the dead Tsar, and in those days the great I make the sign of the cross while he stares at me and mutters, showing the whites of his eyes; That is such a poison that folks will die from the mere smell of it, let alone the fat.”.
He recognised that such a feeling would be an insult even to a dog, but he was angry, not with himself but with Nadyezhda Fyodorovna, for arousing such a feeling, and he understood why lovers sometimes murder their mistresses.
He would not murder her, of course, but if he had been on a jury now, he would have acquitted the murderer. Going back into his study, he spent five minutes in walking to and fro, looking at his boots; then he sat down on his sofa and muttered: We must define the position and run away!
As for her husband, maybe I was in an indirect way one of the causes of his death; but again, is it my fault that I fell in love with his wife and she with me?
At this time there were only two men who habitually dined with him: Von Koren was usually the first to appear.
He sat down in the drawing-room in silence, and taking an album from the table, began attentively scrutinising the faded photographs of unknown men in full trousers and top-hats, and ladies in crinolines and caps. Samoylenko only remembered a few of them by name, and of those whom he had forgotten he said with a sigh: The contemplation of his own image seemed to afford him almost more satisfaction than looking at photographs or playing with the pistols.
He was very well satisfied with his face, and his becomingly clipped beard, and the broad shoulders, which were unmistakable evidence of his excellent health and physical strength. He was satisfied, too, with his stylish get-up, from the cravat, which matched the colour of his shirt, down to his brown boots. While he was looking at the album and standing before the glass, at that moment, in the kitchen and in the passage near, Samoylenko, without his coat and waistcoat, with his neck bare, excited and bathed in perspiration, was bustling about the tables, mixing the salad, or making some sauce, or preparing meat, cucumbers, and onion for the cold soup, while he glared fiercely at the orderly who was helping him, and brandished first a knife and then a spoon at him.
And tell Daria to put some fennel in the jar with the cucumbers! Cover the cream up, gaping laggard, or the flies will get into it! When it was ten or fifteen minutes to two the deacon would come in; he was a lanky young man of twenty-two, with long hair, with no beard and a hardly perceptible moustache. Going into the drawing-room, he crossed himself before the ikon, smiled, and held out his hand to Von Koren.
Evidently, deacon, you will never be busy with work. Another fifteen or twenty minutes passed and they were not called to dinner, and they could still hear the orderly running into the kitchen and back again, noisily treading with his boots, and Samoylenko shouting: Where are your wits?
At last the door opened and the harassed orderly announced that dinner was ready! In the dining-room they were met by Samoylenko, crimson in the face, wrathful, perspiring from the heat of the kitchen; he looked at them furiously, and with an expression of horror, took the lid off the soup tureen and helped each of them to a plateful; and only when he was convinced that they were eating it with relish and liked it, he gave a sigh of relief and settled himself in his deep arm-chair.
His face looked blissful and his eyes grew moist. He deliberately poured himself out a glass of vodka and said: After drinking a glass of vodka before the soup, he heaved a sigh and said: He is having a hard time of it, poor fellow! The material side of life is not encouraging for him, and the worst of it is all this psychology is too much for him.
I consider your Laevsky a blackguard; I do not conceal it, and I am perfectly conscientious in treating him as such. Well, you look upon him as your neighbour — and you may kiss him if you like: You are equally indifferent to all. I am going to talk to you, deacon. What has he been doing these two years that he has been living here?
We will reckon his doings on our fingers. First, he has taught the inhabitants of the town to play vint: Men like him are very fond of friendship, intimacy, solidarity, and all the rest of it, because they always want company for vint, drinking, and eating; besides, they are talkative and must have listeners.
We made friends — that is, he turned up every day, hindered me working, and indulged in confidences in regard to his mistress.
From the first he struck me by his exceptional falsity, which simply made me sick. As a friend I pitched into him, asking him why he drank too much, why he lived beyond his means and got into debt, why he did nothing and read nothing, why he had so little culture and so little knowledge; and in answer to all my questions he used to smile bitterly, sigh, and say: The cause of his extreme dissoluteness and unseemliness lies, do you see, not in himself, but somewhere outside in space.
And so — an ingenious idea! All the officials and their ladies were in ecstasies when they listened to him, and I could not make out for a long time what sort of man I had to deal with, a cynic or a clever rogue.
Such types as he, on the surface intellectual with a smattering of education and a great deal of talk about their own nobility, are very clever in posing as exceptionally complex natures.
Laevsky is by no means a complex organism. Here is his moral skeleton: His existence is confined within this narrow programme like an egg within its shell. Whether he walks or sits, is angry, writes, rejoices, it may all be reduced to wine, cards, slippers, and women.
Woman plays a fatal, overwhelming part in his life. He tells us himself that at thirteen he was in love; that when he was a student in his first year he was living with a lady who had a good influence over him, and to whom he was indebted for his musical education. In his second year he bought a prostitute from a brothel and raised her to his level — that is, took her as his kept mistress, and she lived with him for six months and then ran away back to the brothel-keeper, and her flight caused him much spiritual suffering.
But this was all for the best. At home he made friends with a widow who advised him to leave the Faculty of Jurisprudence and go into the Faculty of Arts. And so he did. When he had taken his degree, he fell passionately in love with his present.
Samoylenko helped each of his companions to a whole mullet and poured out the sauce with his own hand. Two minutes passed in silence. For each of us woman means mother, sister, wife, friend.
To Laevsky she is everything, and at the same time nothing but a mistress. She — that is, cohabitation with her — is the happiness and object of his life; he is gay, sad, bored, disenchanted — on account of woman; his life grows disagreeable — woman is to blame; the dawn of a new life begins to glow, ideals turn up — and again look for the woman.
He only derives enjoyment from books and pictures in which there is woman. Our age is, to his thinking, poor and inferior to the forties and the sixties only because we do not know how to abandon ourselves obviously to the passion and ecstasy of love. These voluptuaries must have in their brains a special growth of the nature of sarcoma, which stifles the brain and directs their whole psychology.
Watch Laevsky when he is sitting anywhere in company. But as soon as you speak of male and female — for instance, of the fact that the female spider, after fertilisation, devours the male — his eyes glow with curiosity, his face brightens, and the man revives, in fact.
All his thoughts, however noble, lofty, or neutral they may be, they all have one point of resemblance. You walk along the street with him and meet a donkey, for instance. Has he told you of his dreams? First, he dreams that he is married to the moon, then that he is summoned before the police and ordered to live with a guitar. His noxiousness lies first of all in the fact that he has great success with women, and so threatens to leave descendants — that is, to present the world with a dozen Laevskys as feeble and as depraved as himself.
Secondly, he is in the highest degree contaminating. I have spoken to you already of vint and beer. In another year or two he will dominate the whole Caucasian coast. You know how the mass, especially its middle stratum, believe in intellectuality, in a university education, in gentlemanly manners, and in literary language. Whatever filthy thing he did, they would all believe that it was as it should be, since he is an intellectual man, of liberal ideas and university education.
What is more, he is a failure, a superfluous man, a neurasthenic, a victim of the age, and that means he can do anything. He is a charming fellow, a regular good sort, he is so genuinely indulgent to human weaknesses; he is compliant, accommodating, easy and not proud; one can drink with him and gossip and talk evil of people. The masses, always inclined to anthropomorphism in religion and morals, like best of all the little gods who have the same weaknesses as themselves.
Only think what a wide field he has for contamination! Besides, he is not a bad actor and is a clever hypocrite, and knows very well how to twist things round. Only take his little shifts and dodges, his attitude to civilisation, for instance. He has scarcely sniffed at civilisation, yet: Ah, how I envy those savages, those children of nature, who know nothing of civilisation! As for Schopenhauer and Spencer, he treats them like small boys and slaps them on the shoulder in a fatherly way: Of course, he has his weaknesses, but he is abreast of modern ideas, is in the service, is of use to his country.
Ten years ago there was an old fellow serving as agent here, a man of the greatest intelligence. Do you mean to tell me that things have been done better because he is here, and the officials are more punctual, honest, and civil? On the contrary, he has only sanctioned their slackness by his prestige as an intellectual university man.
He is only punctual on the 20th of the month, when he gets his salary; on the other days he lounges about at home in slippers and tries to look as if he were doing the Government a great service by living in the Caucasus. You are insincere from beginning to end. If you really loved him and considered him your neighbour, you would above all not be indifferent to his weaknesses, you would not be indulgent to them, but for his own sake would try to make him innocuous.
Since he is incorrigible, he can only be made innocuous in one way. Why — are you in your senses? Send our friend, a proud intellectual man, to penal servitude! It will be our fault. I tell you what: Where he had got this notion he could not have said himself, but he held it firmly.
The Witch, and Other Stories by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov - Free Ebook
The zoologist and the deacon sat on a bench by the table, while Samoylenko sank into a deep wicker chair with a sloping back. The orderly handed them tea, jam, and a bottle of syrup. The sultry air was stagnant and motionless, and a long spider-web, stretching from the chestnut-tree to the ground, hung limply and did not stir. The deacon took up the guitar, which was constantly lying on the ground near the table, tuned it, and began singing softly in a thin voice: Samoylenko grew drowsy; the sultry heat, the stillness and the delicious after-dinner languor, which quickly pervaded all his limbs, made him feel heavy and sleepy; his arms dropped at his sides, his eyes grew small, his head sank on his breast.
He looked with almost tearful tenderness at Von Koren and the deacon, and muttered: A scientific star and a luminary of the Church. Von Koren and the deacon finished their tea and went out into the street.
You can pack up a parcel and copy something for me. By the way, we must have a talk about what you are to do. You must work, deacon. You know yourself that an uncertain position has a great tendency to make people apathetic. God only knows whether I have been sent here for a time or permanently. And I must confess my brain is melting with the heat. In the bay stood two unknown steamers with dirty white funnels, obviously foreign cargo vessels. Some men dressed in white and wearing white shoes were walking along the harbour, shouting loudly in French, and were answered from the steamers.
The bells were ringing briskly in the little church of the town. She felt perfectly well, and was in a gay holiday humour. In a new loose-fitting dress of coarse thick tussore silk, and a big wide-brimmed straw hat which was bent down over her ears, so that her face looked out as though from a basket, she fancied she looked very charming.
She thought that in the whole town there was only one young, pretty, intellectual woman, and that was herself, and that she was the only one who knew how to dress herself cheaply, elegantly, and with taste.
That dress, for example, cost only twenty-two roubles, and yet how charming it was! In the whole town she was the only one who could be attractive, while there were numbers of men, so they must all, whether they would or not, be envious of Laevsky. She was glad that of late Laevsky had been cold to her, reserved and polite, and at times even harsh and rude; in the past she had met all his outbursts, all his contemptuous, cold or strange incomprehensible glances, with tears, reproaches, and threats to leave him or to starve herself to death; now she only blushed, looked guiltily at him, and was glad he was not affectionate to her.
If he had abused her, threatened her, it would have been better and pleasanter, since she felt hopelessly guilty towards him. She felt she was to blame, in the first place, for not sympathising with the dreams of a life of hard work, for the sake of which he had given up Petersburg and had come here to the Caucasus, and she was convinced that he had been angry with her of late for precisely that.
When she was travelling to the Caucasus, it seemed that she would find here on the first day a cosy nook by the sea, a snug little garden with shade, with birds, with little brooks, where she could grow flowers and vegetables, rear ducks and hens, entertain her neighbours, doctor poor peasants and distribute little books amongst them.
It had turned out that the Caucasus was nothing but bare mountains, forests, and huge valleys, where it took a long time and a great deal of effort to find anything and settle down; that there were no neighbours of any sort; that it was very hot and one might be robbed.
Laevsky had been in no hurry to obtain a piece of land; she was glad of it, and they seemed to be in a tacit compact never to allude to a life of hard work. He was silent about it, she thought, because he was angry with her for being silent about it. She had bought the things by degrees, at one time materials, at another time silk or a parasol, and the debt had grown imperceptibly. Remembering this, Nadyezhda Fyodorovna flushed crimson, and looked round at the cook as though she might overhear her thoughts.
The long, insufferably hot, wearisome days, beautiful languorous evenings and stifling nights, and the whole manner of living, when from morning to night one is at a loss to fill up the useless hours, and the persistent thought that she was the prettiest young woman in the town, and that her youth was passing and being wasted, and Laevsky himself, though honest and idealistic, always the same, always lounging about in his slippers, biting his nails, and wearying her with his caprices, led by degrees to her becoming possessed by desire, and as though she were mad, she thought of nothing else day and night.
Breathing, looking, walking, she felt nothing but desire. The sound of the sea told her she must love; the darkness of evening — the same; the mountains — the same. And when Kirilin began paying her attentions, she had neither the power nor the wish to resist, and surrendered to him. Now the foreign steamers and the men in white reminded her for some reason of a huge hall; together with the shouts of French she heard the strains of a waltz, and her bosom heaved with unaccountable delight.
She longed to dance and talk French. She reflected joyfully that there was nothing terrible about her infidelity. Her soul had no part in her infidelity; she still loved Laevsky, and that was proved by the fact that she was jealous of him, was sorry for him, and missed him when he was away. Kirilin had turned out to be very mediocre, rather coarse though handsome; everything was broken off with him already and there would never be anything more. What had happened was over; it had nothing to do with any one, and if Laevsky found it out he would not believe in it.
There was only one bathing-house for ladies on the sea-front; men bathed under the open sky. Going into the bathing-house, Nadyezhda Fyodorovna found there an elderly lady, Marya Konstantinovna Bityugov, and her daughter Katya, a schoolgirl of fifteen; both of them were sitting on a bench undressing.
Marya Konstantinovna was a good-natured, enthusiastic, and genteel person, who talked in a drawling and pathetic voice. She had been a governess until she was thirty-two, and then had married Bityugov, a Government official — a bald little man with his hair combed on to his temples and with a very meek disposition. Would you believe it? I bathed yesterday three times! Just imagine, my dear, three times! Nikodim Alexandritch was quite uneasy.
And it seemed to her that if she were to wave her hands she would fly upwards. When she was undressed, she noticed that Olga looked scornfully at her white body.
Marya Konstantinovna and Katya were afraid of her, and did not respect her. This was disagreeable, and to raise herself in their opinion, Nadyezhda Fyodorovna said: My husband and I have so many friends! We ought to go and see them. He has a great many acquaintances. But unfortunately his mother is a proud aristocrat, not very intelligent. Through the open doors looking out to the sea they could see some one swimming a hundred paces from their bathing-place.
Ah, my dear, how sweet it is, and yet at the same time how difficult, to be a mother! She swam some thirty feet and then turned on her back. She could see the sea to the horizon, the steamers, the people on the sea-front, the town; and all this, together with the sultry heat and the soft, transparent waves, excited her and whispered that she must live, live.
A sailing-boat darted by her rapidly and vigorously, cleaving the waves and the air; the man sitting at the helm looked at her, and she liked being looked at. After bathing, the ladies dressed and went away together. If, like me, one has no constitutional tendency to stoutness, no diet is of any use.
And something at the bottom of her soul dimly and obscurely whispered to her that she was a pretty, common, miserable, worthless woman. Marya Konstantinovna stopped at her gate and asked her to come in and sit down for a little while.
Marya Konstantinovna sat her down and gave her coffee, regaled her with milk rolls, then showed her photographs of her former pupils, the Garatynskys, who were by now married. She showed her, too, the examination reports of Kostya and Katya. The reports were very good, but to make them seem even better, she complained, with a sigh, how difficult the lessons at school were now.
She made much of her visitor, and was sorry for her, though at the same time she was harassed by the thought that Nadyezhda Fyodorovna might have a corrupting influence on the morals of Kostya and Katya, and was glad that her Nikodim Alexandritch was not at home. They started out soon after five.
In the next carriage came the police captain, Kirilin, and the young Atchmianov, the son of the shopkeeper to whom Nadyezhda Fyodorovna owed three hundred roubles; opposite them, huddled up on the little seat with his feet tucked under him, sat Nikodim Alexandritch, a neat little man with hair combed on to his temples.
Everyone is guilty in everything
We shall make the map, study the fauna and the flora, and make detailed geological, anthropological, and ethnographical researches. It depends upon you to go with me or not. Better still if you were to persuade her for the public benefit to go into a nunnery; that would make it possible for you to become a monk, too, and join the expedition as a priest. I can arrange it for you. You give me a list of books you need, and I will send them to you from Petersburg in the winter.
It will be necessary for you to read the notes of religious travellers, too; among them are some good ethnologists and Oriental scholars. When you are familiar with their methods, it will be easier for you to set to work. If I go with you I shall have troubled them for nothing.
The carriages were driving along a road hollowed in a literally overhanging precipitous cliff, and it seemed to every one that they were galloping along a shelf on a steep wall, and that in a moment the carriages would drop into the abyss. On the right stretched the sea; on the left was a rough brown wall with black blotches and red veins and with climbing roots; while on the summit stood shaggy fir-trees bent over, as though looking down in terror and curiosity.
A minute later there were shrieks and laughter again: I want to go to the North, to run away, to escape; but here I am, for some reason, going to this stupid picnic. In comparison with what my imagination can give me, all these streams and rocks are trash, and nothing else. The high mountain banks gradually grew closer, the valley shrank together and ended in a gorge; the rocky mountain round which they were driving had been piled together by nature out of huge rocks, pressing upon each other with such terrible weight, that Samoylenko could not help gasping every time he looked at them.
The dark and beautiful mountain was cleft in places by narrow fissures and gorges from which came a breath of dewy moisture and mystery; through the gorges could be seen other mountains, brown, pink, lilac, smoky, or bathed in vivid sunlight.
From time to time as they passed a gorge they caught the sound of water falling from the heights and splashing on the stones. Kerbalay, a nimble little Tatar in a blue shirt and a white apron, was standing in the road, and, holding his stomach, he bowed low to welcome the carriages, and smiled, showing his glistening white teeth.
Five hundred paces from the duhan the carriages stopped. Samoylenko selected a small meadow round which there were scattered stones convenient for sitting on, and a fallen tree blown down by the storm with roots overgrown by moss and dry yellow needles.
The first impression in all was a feeling that they would never get out of that place again. On all sides wherever they looked, the mountains rose up and towered above them, and the shadows of evening were stealing rapidly, rapidly from the duhan and dark cypress, making the narrow winding valley of the Black River narrower and the mountains higher.
They could hear the river murmuring and the unceasing chirrup of the grasshoppers. The wealth of sights and sounds which every one receives from nature by direct impression is ranted about by authors in a hideous and unrecognisable way.
Nature ought to come and bow down at their feet. Romeo is just the same sort of animal as all the rest of us. He made no answer and walked away, feeling sorry he had come. They all wandered off in different directions, and no one was left but Kirilin, Atchmianov, and Nikodim Alexandritch.
Kerbalay brought chairs, spread a rug on the ground, and set a few bottles of wine. The police captain, Kirilin, a tall, good-looking man, who in all weathers wore his great-coat over his tunic, with his haughty deportment, stately carriage, and thick, rather hoarse voice, looked like a young provincial chief of police; his expression was mournful and sleepy, as though he had just been waked against his will. Bring ten bottles of kvarel. In her cheap cotton dress with blue pansies on it, in her red shoes and the same straw hat, she seemed to herself, little, simple, light, ethereal as a butterfly.
She ran over the rickety bridge and looked for a minute into the water, in order to feel giddy; then, shrieking and laughing, ran to the other side to the drying-shed, and she fancied that all the men were admiring her, even Kerbalay. When in the rapidly falling darkness the trees began to melt into the mountains and the horses into the carriages, and a light gleamed in the windows of the duhan, she climbed up the mountain by the little path which zigzagged between stones and thorn-bushes and sat on a stone.
Down below, the camp-fire was burning. Near the fire, with his sleeves tucked up, the deacon was moving to and fro, and his long black shadow kept describing a circle round it; he put on wood, and with a spoon tied to a long stick he stirred the cauldron.
Samoylenko, with a copper-red face, was fussing round the fire just as though he were in his own kitchen, shouting furiously: It would never have done to kill him; he knew the place where the treasure is hidden, and not another soul did know. The treasures about here are charmed so that you may find them and not see them, but he did see them.
At times he would walk along the river bank or in the forest, and under the bushes and under the rocks there would be little flames, little flames. I have seen them myself. Everyone expected that Yefim would show people the places or dig the treasure up himself, but he — as the saying is, like a dog in the manger — so he died without digging it up himself or showing other people. And slowly stretching, he looked round him, resting his eyes on the whitening east and added: No one knows the real places; besides, nowadays, you must remember, all the treasures are under a charm.
To find them and see them you must have a talisman, and without a talisman you can do nothing, lad. Yefim had talismans, but there was no getting anything out of him, the bald devil. He kept them, so that no one could get them.
A childish expression of terror and curiosity gleamed in his dark eyes, and seemed in the twilight to stretch and flatten out the large features of his coarse young face. He was listening intently. It is under a spell. He talked through his nose and, being unaccustomed to talk much and rapidly, stuttered; and, conscious of his defects, he tried to adorn his speech with gesticulations of the hands and head and thin shoulders, and at every movement his hempen shirt crumpled into folds, slipped upwards and displayed his back, black with age and sunburn.
He kept pulling it down, but it slipped up again at once. At last, as though driven out of all patience by the rebellious shirt, the old man leaped up and said bitterly: It will come to this, that the gentry will dig it up or the government will take it away. The gentry have begun digging the barrows. The government, too, is looking after itself. It is written in the law that if any peasant finds the treasure he is to take it to the authorities!
I dare say, wait till you get it!
There is a brew but not for you! The overseer listened with attention and agreed, but from his silence and the expression of his figure it was evident that what the old man told him was not new to him, that he had thought it all over long ago, and knew much more than was known to the old shepherd. My father looked for it, too, and my brother, too — but not a thing did they find, so they died without luck.
Ilya bought a talisman, took two other fellows with him, and went to Taganrog. Only when he got to the place in the fortress, brother, there was a soldier with a gun, standing at the very spot. It was by now getting light. The Milky Way had turned pale and gradually melted like snow, losing its outlines; the sky was becoming dull and dingy so that you could not make out whether it was clear or covered thickly with clouds, and only from the bright leaden streak in the east and from the stars that lingered here and there could one tell what was coming.
The overseer roused himself from his thoughts and tossed his head. With both hands he shook the saddle, touched the girth and, as though he could not make up his mind to mount the horse, stood still again, hesitating. There is fortune, but there is not the wit to find it.
His stern face looked sad and mocking, as though he were a disappointed man. In the bluish distance where the furthest visible hillock melted into the mist nothing was stirring; the ancient barrows, once watch-mounds and tombs, which rose here and there above the horizon and the boundless steppe had a sullen and death-like look; there was a feeling of endless time and utter indifference to man in their immobility and silence; another thousand years would pass, myriads of men would die, while they would still stand as they had stood, wit h no regret for the dead nor interest in the living, and no soul would ever know why they stood there, and what secret of the steppes was hidden under them.
The rooks awakening, flew one after another in silence over the earth. No meaning was to be seen in the languid flight of those long-lived birds, nor in the morning which is repeated punctually every twenty-four hours, nor in the boundless expanse of the steppe. The overseer smiled and said: You would have a hunt to find treasure in it!
Here, somewhere on that ridge [the overseer pointed with his whip] robbers one time attacked a caravan of gold; the gold was being taken from Petersburg to the Emperor Peter who was building a fleet at the time at Voronezh.
The robbers killed the men with the caravan and buried the gold, but did not find it again afterwards. Another treasure was buried by our Cossacks of the Don. When they were going homewards they heard on the way that the government wanted to take away all the gold and silver from them. Rather than give up their plunder like that to the government for nothing, the brave fellows took and buried it, so that their children, anyway, might get it; but where they buried it no one knows. The overseer looked dreamily into the distance, gave a laugh and pulled the rein, still with the same expression as though he had forgotten something or left something unsaid.
The horse reluctantly started at a walking pace. After riding a hundred paces Panteley shook his head resolutely, roused himself from his thoughts and, lashing his horse, set off at a trot. The shepherds were left alone. He is a man of education. If one clambered up on that tomb one could see the plain from it, level and boundless as the sky, one could see villages, manor-houses, the settlements of the Germans and of the Molokani, and a long-sighted Kalmuck could even see the town and the railway-station.
Only from there could one see that there was something else in the world besides the silent steppe and the ancient barrows, that there was another life that had nothing to do with buried treasure and the thoughts of sheep. The old man felt beside him for his crook — a long stick with a hook at the upper end — and got up. He was silent and thoughtful. He was still under the influence of what he had heard in the night, and impatiently awaiting fresh stories.
He looked absent-mindedly at the young man, and answered, mumbling with his lips: