strangely empty. The lamp above the fireplace trembled feebly. The
girl was sobbing to herself.
her mother's knee.
the child on her
lap, and, pressing her close, she began to clean her head. The little
babbled incoherently, she looked feverish; she rubbed her eyes with her
small fists and presently went to sleep, still sobbing convulsively
time to time.
afterwards the husband
returned home. He was a huge fellow in a sheepskin, and wore a muffler
round his cap. His face was blue with cold; his moustache, covered with
hoar-frost, looked like a brush. He knocked the snow off his boots,
muffler and cap off together, dusted the snow off his fur, clapped his
stiff hands against his arms, pushed the bench towards the fire, and
took a saucepan full
of cabbage off the fire and put it in front of her husband, cut a piece
of bread and gave it him, together with the spoon. The peasant ate in
but when he had finished he undid his fur, stretched his legs, and
'Is there any more?'
him the remains
of their midday porridge; he spooned it up after he had cut himself
piece of bread; then he took out his pouch, rolled a cigarette and
it, threw some sticks on the fire and drew closer to it. A good while
he looked round the room. 'Where's the old man?'
should he be? In the
think so! What
should he loll in the bed for, and dirty the bedclothes? If he's got to
give up, he will give up all the quicker in there.... Has he given me a
single thing? What should he come to me for? Am I to pay for his
and give him his food? If he doesn't give up now--and I tell you, he is
a tough one--then he'll eat us out of house and home. If Julina is to
everything let her look after him--that's nothing to do with me.'
father... and cheated
us... he has. I don't care.... The old speculator!'
swallowed the smoke
of his cigarette and spat into the middle of the room.
hadn't cheated us
we should now have... wait a minute... we've got five... and seven and
a half... makes... five and... seven...'
a half. I had
counted that up long ago; we could have kept a horse and three cows...
bah!... the carrion!'
got up, laid the
child down on the bed, took the little rag bundle from the chest and
it into her husband's hand.
the linen rag.
An expression of greed came into his face, he bent forward towards the
fire with his whole frame, so as to hide the money, and counted it over
twice. 'How much is it?'
She did not
know the money
shone; she stretched
out her hand and fondled the money.
you come by it?'
how? Don't you
remember the old man telling us last year that he had put by enough to
pay for his funeral?'
right, he did say
stitched it into
his chaplet and I took it from him; holy things shouldn't knock about
a pigsty, that would be sinful; then I felt the silver through the
so I tore that off and took the money. That is ours; hasn't he wronged
God's truth. It's
ours; that little bit at least is coming back to us. Put it by with the
other money, we can just do with it. Only yesterday Smoletz told me he
wanted to borrow a thousand roubles from me; he will give his five
of ploughed fields near the forest as security.'
'I think I
you begin to sow
the fields yourself in the spring?'
if I shouldn't
have quite enough now, I will sell the sow; even if I should have to
the little ones as well I must lend him the money. For he won't be able
to redeem it,' he added, 'I know what I know. We shall go to the lawyer
and make a proper contract that the ground will be mine unless he
the money within five years.'
'Can you do
I can. How did
Dumin get hold of Dyziak's fields?... Put it away; you may keep the
buy what you like with it. Where's Ignatz?'
Ha! No water, it's all gone....'
got up without
a word, looked after the cattle, went in and out, fetched water and