Suddenly the insect seemed to rivet its attention on him, soared into the air, and swooping down upon his head, stung him on the brow, a little above the eyes.... The young man emitted a faint cry and fell dead.
The dreadful fly immediately flew away.... Only then did we divine what sort of a visitor we had had.
The son of a widowed peasant-woman died—a young fellow aged twenty, the best labourer in the village.
The lady-proprietor of that village, on learning of the peasant-woman’s affliction, went to call upon her on the very day of the funeral.
She found her at home.
Standing in the middle of her cottage, in front of the table, she was ladling out empty cabbage-soup from the bottom of a smoke-begrimed pot, in a leisurely way, with her right hand (her left hung limply by her side), and swallowing spoonful after spoonful.
The woman’s face had grown sunken and dark; her eyes were red and swollen ... but she carried herself independently and uprightly, as in church.
“O Lord!” thought the lady; “she can eat at such a moment ... but what coarse feelings they have!”
And then the lady-mistress recalled how, when she had lost her own little daughter, aged nine months, a few years before, she had refused, out of grief, to hire a very beautiful villa in the vicinity of Petersburg, and had passed the entire summer in town!—But the peasant-woman continued to sip her cabbage-soup.
At last the lady could endure it no longer.—“Tatyana!” said she.... “Good gracious!—I am amazed! Is it possible that thou didst not love thy son? How is it that thy appetite has not disappeared?—How canst thou eat that cabbage-soup?”
“My Vasya is dead,” replied the woman softly, and tears of suffering again began to stream down her sunken cheeks,—“and, of course, my own end has come also: my head has been taken away from me while I am still alive. But the cabbage-soup must not go to waste; for it is salted”
The lady-mistress merely shrugged her shoulders and went away. She got salt cheaply.
THE AZURE REALM
O azure realm! O realm of azure, light, youth, and happiness! I have beheld thee ... in my dreams.
There were several of us in a beautiful, decorated boat. Like the breast of a swan the white sail towered aloft beneath fluttering pennants.
I did not know who my companions were; but with all my being I felt that they were as young, as merry, as happy as I was!
And I paid no heed to them. All about me I beheld only the shoreless azure sea, all covered with a fine rippling of golden scales, and over-head an equally shoreless azure sea, and in it, triumphantly and, as it were, smilingly, rolled on the friendly sun.