crowd of boys in
linen trousers and blue jackets with brass buttons, their bare feet
into wooden sandals, ran behind the priest, staring at the pictures of
heaven and hell, and intoning the intervals of the chant with thin,
voices: a! o!... They kept it up as long as the organist did not change
proudly walked in
front, holding the banner with one hand and singing the loudest of all.
He was flushed with exertion and cold, but he never relaxed, as though
eager to show that he alone had a right to sing, because it was his
who was being carried to the grave. They left the village behind. The
threw itself upon Antek, whose huge form towered above all the others,
and ruffled his hair; but he did not notice the wind, he was entirely
up with the horses and with steadying the coffin, which was tilting
at every hole in the road.
sisters were walking
close behind the coffin, murmuring prayers and eyeing each other with
at once, you carrion!' One of the mourners pretended to pick up a
The dog, who had been following the cart, whined, put her tail between
her legs, and fled behind a heap of stones by the roadside; when the
had moved on a good bit, she ran after it in a semi-circle, and
kept close to the horses, lest she should be prevented again from
chant had come
to an end. The women, with shrill voices, began to sing the old hymn:
who dwelleth under the protection of the Lord.'
thin. The blizzard,
which was getting up, did not allow the singing to come to much.
drove clouds of
snow across from the endless, steppe-like plains, dotted here and there
with skeleton trees, and lashed the little crowd of human beings as
loves and keeps
with faithful heart His word...,' they insisted through the whistling
the tempest and the frequent shouts of Antek, who was getting
with cold: 'Woa! woa, my lads!'
to form across the road like huge wedges, starting from behind trees
heaps of stones.
again the singing
was interrupted when the people looked round anxiously into the white
it seemed to be moving when the wind struck it with dull thuds; now it
towered in huge walls, now it dissolved like breakers, turned over, and
furiously darted sprays of a thousand sharp needles into the faces of
mourners. Many of them returned half-way, fearing an increase of the
the others hurried on to the cemetery in the greatest haste, almost at
a run. They got through the ceremony as fast as they could; the grave
ready, they quickly sang a little more, the priest sprinkled holy water
on the coffin; frozen clods of earth and snow rolled down, and the
invited everybody to
his house, because 'the reverend Father had said to him, that
the ceremony would doubtless end in an ungodly way at the public-house.'
answer to the invitation
was a curse. The four of them, including Ignatz and the peasant
turned into the inn.
four quarts of
spirits mixed with fat, ate three pounds of sausages, and talked about
the money transaction.
The heat of
the room and
the spirits soon made Antek very drunk. He stumbled so on the way home
that his wife took him firmly under the arm.
remained at the inn
to drink an extra glass in prospect of the loan, but Ignatz ran home
as fast as he could, for he was horribly cold.
Antek, 'the five acres are mine! aha! mine, do you hear? In the autumn
I shall sow wheat and barley, and in the spring we will plant
mine... they are mine!... God is my comfort, sayest thou...,' he
began to sing.
was raging, and
You'll fall down,
and that will be the end of it.'
angel keepeth watch...,'
he stopped abruptly. The darkness was impenetrable, nothing could be
at a distance of two feet. The blizzard had reached the highest degree
of fury; whistling and howling on a gigantic scale filled the air, and
mountains of snow hurled themselves upon them.
Tomek's cottage came
the sound of funeral chants and loud talking when they passed by.
heathen! These thieves!
You wait, I'll show you my five acres! Then I shall have ten. You won't
lord it over me! Dogs'-breed... aha! I'll work, I'll slave, but I shall
get it, eh, mother? we will get it, what?' he hammered his chest with
fist, and rolled his drunken eyes.
He went on
like this for
a while, but as soon as they reached their home, the woman dragged him
into bed, where he fell down like a dead man. But he did not go to
yet, for after a time he shouted: 'Ignatz!'
approached, but with
caution, for fear of contact with the paternal foot.
you dead dog! Ignatz,
you shall be a first-class peasant, not a beggarly professional man,'
bawled, and brought his fist down on the bedstead.
acres are mine,
mine! Foxy Germans¹, you... da...' He
went to sleep.
'German' is used
for 'foreigner' generally, whom the Polish peasant despises.