Getting into the sledge, the old man spends a long time crossing himself in the direction in which the monastery walls make a patch of darkness in the fog. Yasha sits beside him on the very edge of the seat with his legs hanging over the side. His face as before shows no sign of emotion and expresses neither boredom nor desire. He is not glad that he is going home, nor sorry that he has not had time to see the sights of the city.
The cabman whips up the horse and, turning round, begins swearing at the heavy and cumbersome luggage.
* On many railway lines, in order to avoid accidents, it is against the regulations to carry hay on the trains, and so live stock are without fodder on the journey.—Author’s Note.
**The train destined especially for the transport of troops is called the troop train; when they are no troops it takes goods, and goes more rapidly than ordinary goods train. —Author’s Note.
The turner, Grigory Petrov, who had been known for years past as a splendid craftsman, and at the same time as the most senseless peasant in the Galtchinskoy district, was taking his old woman to the hospital. He had to drive over twenty miles, and it was an awful road. A government post driver could hardly have coped with it, much less an incompetent sluggard like Grigory. A cutting cold wind was blowing straight in his face. Clouds of snowflakes were whirling round and round in all directions, so that one could not tell whether the snow was falling from the sky or rising from the earth. The fields, the telegraph posts, and the forest could not be seen for the fog of snow. And when a particularly violent gust of wind swooped down on Grigory, even the yoke above the horse’s head could not be seen. The wretched, feeble little nag crawled slowly along. It took all its strength to drag its legs out of the snow and to tug with its head. The turner was in a hurry. He kept restlessly hopping up and down on the front seat and lashing the horse’s back.
“Don’t cry, Matryona,...” he muttered. “Have a little patience. Please God we shall reach the hospital, and in a trice it will be the right thing for you.... Pavel Ivanitch will give you some little drops, or tell them to bleed you; or maybe his honor will be pleased to rub you with some sort of spirit—it’ll... draw it out of your side. Pavel Ivanitch will do his best. He will shout and stamp about, but he will do his best.... He is a nice gentleman, affable, God give him health! As soon as we get there he will dart out of his room and will begin calling me names. ‘How? Why so?’ he will cry. ’Why did you not come at the right time? I am not a dog to be hanging about waiting on you devils all day. Why did you not come in the morning? Go away! Get out of my sight. Come again to-morrow.’ And I shall say: ’Mr. Doctor! Pavel Ivanitch! Your honor!’ Get on, do! plague take you, you devil! Get on!”