'Father, eh, father, get up, do you hear? --Eh, get a move on!'
'Oh God, oh Blessed Virgin!
Aoh!' groaned the old man, who was being violently shaken. His face
peeped out from under his sheepskin, a sunken, battered, and deeply-lined
face, of the same colour as the earth he had tilled for so many years; with a
shock of hair, grey as the furrows of ploughed fields in autumn. His
eyes were closed; breathing heavily he dropped his tongue from his half-open
bluish mouth with cracked lips.
'Get up! hi!' shouted his daughter.
'Grandad!' whimpered a little
girl who stood in her chemise and a cotton apron tied across her chest,
and raised herself on tiptoe to look at the old man's face.
'Grandad!' There were tears
in her blue eyes and sorrow in her grimy little face. 'Grandad!' she
called out once more, and plucked at the pillow.
'Shut up!' screamed her mother,
took her by the nape of the neck and thrust her against the stove.
'Out with you, damned dog!'
she roared, when she stumbled over the old half-blind bitch who was
sniffing the bed. 'Out you go! will you...you carrion!' and she kicked the
animal so violently with her clog that it tumbled over, and, whining, crept
towards the closed door. The little girl stood sobbing near the stove, and
rubbed her nose and eyes with her small fists.
'Father, get up while I am still in a good humour!'
The sick man was silent,
his head had fallen on one side, his breathing became more and more
laboured. He had not much longer to live.
'Get up. What's the idea?
Do you think you are going to do your dying here? Not if I know it! Go
to Julina, you old dog! You've given the property to Julina, let her
look after you...come now...while I'm yet asking you!'
'Oh blessed Child Jesus! oh Mary....'
his face, wet with anxiety and sweat. With a jerk his daughter tore
the feather-bed, and, taking the old man round the middle, she pulled
furiously half out of the bed, so that only his head and shoulders were
resting on it; he lay motionless like a piece of wood, and, like a
of wood, stiff and dried up.
he murmured under his heavy breathing.
you your priest!
You shall kick your bucket in the pigsty, you sinner...like a dog!' She
seized him under the armpits, but dropped him again directly, and
him entirely with the feather-bed, for she had noticed a shadow
past the window. Some one was coming up to the house.
scarcely had time to
push the old man's feet back into the bed. Blue in the face, she
banged the feather-bed and pushed the bedding about.
The wife of
the peasant Dyziak
came into the room.
the other, and glanced suspiciously at her out of the corners of her
'How do you
do? Are you well?'
God... so so...'
old man? Well?'
stamping the snow
off her clogs near the door.
should he be well?
He can hardly fetch his breath any more.'
you don't say
so... neighbour...' She was bending down over the old man.
dear me, he doesn't know me! The poor man wants the priest. He's dying,
that's certain, he's all but dead already... dear me! Well, and did you
send for his Reverence?'
'Have I got
any one to send?'
don't mean to let
a Christian soul die without the sacrament?'
run off and leave
him alone, and perhaps...he may recover.'
hoho... just listen to his breathing. That means that his inside is
up. It's just as it was with my Walek last year when he was so ill.'
dear, you'd better
go for the priest, make haste... look!'
all right. Poor
thing! He looks as if he couldn't last much longer. I must make
I'm off...' and she tied her apron more firmly over her head.