was boiling in
the saucepan. Ignatz cautiously crept into the room; no one spoke to
They were all silent and strangely ill at ease. The old man was not
it was as if he had never been.
thought of his five
acres; he looked upon them as a certainty. Momentarily the old man came
into his mind, and then again the sow he had meant to kill when she had
finished with the sucking-pigs. Again and again he spat when his eyes
on the empty bedstead, as if he wanted to get rid of an unpleasant
He was worried, did not finish his supper, and went to bed immediately
after. He turned over from side to side; the potatoes and cabbage,
and bread gave him indigestion, but he got over it and went to sleep.
was silent, Antkowa
gently opened the door into the next room where the bundles of flax
From underneath these she fetched a packet of banknotes wrapped up in a
linen rag, and added the money. She smoothed the notes many times over,
opened them out, folded them up again, until she had gazed her fill;
she put out the light and went to bed beside her husband.
the old man had
died. The pigsty, a miserable lean-to run up of planks and thatched
branches, gave no protection against wind and weather. No one heard the
helpless old man entreating for mercy in a voice trembling with
No one saw him creep to the closed door and raise himself with a
effort to try and open it. He felt death gaining upon him; from his
it crept upwards to his chest, holding it as in a vice, and shaking him
in terrible spasms; his jaws closed upon each other, tighter and
until he was no longer able to open them and scream. His veins were
till they felt like wires. He reared up feebly, till at last he broke
on the threshold, with foam on his lips, and a look of horror at being
left to die of cold, in his broken eyes; his face was distorted by an
of anguish which was like a frozen cry. There he lay.
morning before dawn
Antek and his wife got up. His first thought was to see what had
to the old man.
He went to
look, but could
not get the door of the pigsty to open, the corpse was barring it from
the inside like a beam. At last, after a great effort, he was able to
it far enough to slip in, but he came out again at once,
He could hardly get fast enough across the yard and into the house; he
was almost senseless with fear. He could not understand what was
to him; his whole frame shook as in a fever, and he stood by the door
and unable to
utter a word.
at that moment
teaching little Magda her prayer. She turned her head towards her
with questioning eyes.
be done...' she
done...' the kneeling
child repeated like an echo.
he dead?' she jerked
out, '...on earth...'
sure, he's lying across
the door,' he answered under his breath.
'... as it
is in Heaven...'
'... is in
we can't leave him there; people might say we took him there to get rid
of him--we can't have that...'
you want me to do
'How do I
know? You must
can get him across
here?' suggested Antek.
that now...let him
rot! Bring him in here? Not if...'
will have to be
'Are we to
pay for his funeral?...but
deliver us from evil...what are you blinking your silly eyes for?...go
shouldn't think of paying
for that, that's Tomek's business by law and right.'
the sign of the
cross over the child, wiped its nose with her fingers and went up to