It was autumn.
Along the highway came two equipages
at a brisk pace. In the first carriage
sat two women. One was a lady, thin
and pale; the other, her maid, with
a brilliant red complexion, and plump. Her
short, dry locks escaped from under
a faded cap; her red hand, in a torn glove, put them back with a jerk.
Her full bosom, incased in a tapestry shawl, breathed of health; her keen
black eyes now gazed through the window at the fields
hurrying by them, now rested on her
mistress, now peered solicitously into the corners of the coach.
Before the maid's face swung the
lady's bonnet on the rack; on her knees
lay a puppy; her feet were raised by packages lying on the floor, and
could almost be heard
drumming upon them above the noise of the creaking of the
springs and the rattling of the windows.
The lady, with her hands resting in
her lap and her eyes shut, feebly swayed
on the cushions which supported her back, and, slightly frowning, tried
to suppress her cough.
She wore a white nightcap, and a blue
neckerchief twisted around her delicate
pale neck. A straight line,
disappearing under the cap, parted her
perfectly smooth blond hair, which was pomaded; and there was a dry
deathly appearance about the
whiteness of the skin, in this wide parting. The withered and rather sallow skin was loosely drawn over her
delicate and pretty features, and
there was a hectic flush on the cheeks and cheekbones.
Her lips were dry and
restless, her thin eyelashes had lost their curve, and a cloth traveling
capote made straight folds over her sunken chest.
Although her eyes were closed,
her face gave the impression of weariness, irascibility, and habitual
The lackey, leaning back, was napping
on the coachbox. The yamshchik, or
hired driver, shouting in a clear voice, urged on his four powerful and
sweaty horses, occasionally
looking back at the other driver, who was shouting just
behind them in an open barouche. The
tires of the wheels, in their even and
rapid course, left wide parallel tracks on the limy mud of the highway.
The sky was gray and cold, a moist
mist was falling over the fields and
the road. It was suffocating
in the carriage, and smelt of eau-de-Cologne and
dust. The invalid leaned
back her head, and slowly opened her eyes.
Her great eyes were
brilliant, and of a beautiful dark color.
"Again!" said she,
nervously, pushing away with her beautiful attenuated
hand the end of her maid's cloak, which occasionally hit against her leg.
Her mouth contracted painfully.
Matriosha raised her cloak in both
hands, lifting herself up on her strong
legs, and then sat down again, farther away. Her fresh face was suffused with a brilliant scarlet.
The invalid's beautiful dark eyes
eagerly followed the maid's motions; and
then with both hands she took hold of the seat, and did her best to raise
herself a little higher, but her strength was not sufficient.
Again her mouth became contracted,
and her whole face took on an expression
of unavailing, angry irony.
"If you would only help me ...
ah! It's not necessary.
I can do it myself. Only
have the goodness not to put those pillows behind me. ... On the
whole, you had better not touch them, if you don't understand!"
The lady closed her eyes, and then
again, quickly raising the lids, gazed
at her maid.
Matriosha looked at her, and gnawed
her red lower lip. A heavy sigh
escaped from the sick woman's breast; but the sigh was not ended, but was
merged in a fit of coughing.
She scowled, and turned her face away, clutching her chest with both hands.
When the coughing fit was over, she once more shut her
eyes, and continued to sit motionless.
The coach and the barouche rolled into a
village. Matriosha drew her fat hand from under her shawl, and made
the sign of the cross.
"What is this?" demanded
"A post-station, madame."
"Why did you cross yourself, I
should like to know?"
"The church, madame."
The invalid lady looked out of the
window, and began slowly to cross herself,
gazing with all her eyes at the great village church, in front of which
her carriage was now passing.
The two vehicles came to a stop
together at the post-house. The
sick woman's husband and the
doctor dismounted from the barouche, and came to the
"How are you feeling?"
asked the doctor, taking her pulse.
"Well, my dear, aren't you
fatigued?" asked the husband in French.
"Wouldn't you like to get out?"
Matriosha, gathering up the bundles,
squeezed herself into the corner, so
as not to interfere with the conversation.
"No matter, it's all the same
thing," replied the invalid. "I
will not get out."
The husband, after standing there a
little, went into the post-house.
Matriosha, jumping from the coach, tiptoed across the muddy road into the
"If I am miserable, there is no
reason why the rest of you should not have
breakfast," said the sick woman, smiling faintly to the doctor, who
was standing by her window.
"I makes no difference to them
how I am," she remarked to herself as the
doctor, turning from her with slow step, started to run up the steps of
"They are well, and it's all the same to them.
O my God!"
"How now, Edouard
Ivanovitch?" said the husband, as he met the doctor, and
rubbing his hands with a gay smile.
"I have ordered my traveling-case brought;
what do you say to that?"
"That's worth while,"
replied the doctor.
"Well, now, how about her?"
asked the husband, with a sigh, lowering his
voice and raising his brows.
"I have told you that she cannot
reach Moscow, much less Italy, especially
in such weather."
"What is to be done, then?
Oh! My God! My God!"
The husband covered his eyes with his
"Give it here," he added,
addressing his man, who came bringing the
"You'll have to stop somewhere
on the route," replied the doctor,
shrugging his shoulders.
"But tell me, what can I
do?" rejoined the husband. "I
have employed every argument
to keep her from going; I have spoken to her of our means, and of our children whom we should have to leave behind, and
of my business. She would
not hear a word. She has made her plans for living abroad, as if she were
well. But if I should
tell her what her real condition is, it would kill her."
"Well, she is a dead woman now;
you may as well know it, Vasili Dmitritch.
A person cannot live without lungs, and there is no way of making lungs
grow again. It is melancholy, it is hard, but what is to be done about
it? It is my
business and yours to make her last days as easy as possible.
The confessor is the person needed here."
"Oh, my God! Now just perceive
how I ma situated, in speaking to her of
her last will. Let come whatever may, yet I cannot speak of that.
And yet you know how good she is."
"Try at least to persuade her to
wait until the roads are frozen," said
the doctor, shaking his head significantly; "something might happen
during the journey." ...
"Aksiusha, oh, Aksiusha!"
cried the superintendent's daughter, throwing a cloak over her head, and tiptoeing down the muddy back
steps. "Come along.
Let us have a look at
the Shirkinskaya lady; the say she'' got lung trouble, and
they're taking her abroad. I
never saw how any one looked in consumption."
Aksiusha jumped down from the
door-sill; and the two girls, hand in hand,
hurried out of the gates. Shortening
their steps, they walked by the coach, and
stared in at the lowered window. The
invalid bent her head toward them; but,
when she saw their inquisitiveness, she frowned and turned away.
"Oh, de-e-ar!" said the
superintendent's daughter, vigorously shaking her head. .... "How wonderfully pretty she used to be,
and how she has changed! It
is terrible! Did you see? Did
you see, Aksiusha?"
"Yes, andhow thin she is!"
assented Aksiusha. "Let us go
by and look again; we'll make
believe we are going to the well. Did
you see, she turned away from
us; still I got a good view of her. Isn't
it too bad, Masha?"
"Yes, but what terrible
mud!" replied Masha, and both of them started to
run back within the gates.
"It's evident that I have become
a fright," thought the sick woman. ....
"But we must hurry, hurry, and get abroad, and there I shall soon
"Well, and how are you, my
dear?" inquired the husband, coming to the coach with still a morsel of something in his mouth.
"Always one and the same
question," thought the sick woman, "and he's even
"It's no consequence," she
murmured, between her teeth.
"Do you know, my dear, I am
afraid that this journey in such weather will
only make you worse. Edouard
Ivanovitch says the same thing. Hadn't
we better turn back?"
She maintained an angry silence.
"Maybe the weather will improve,
the roads will become good, and that
would be better for you; then at least we could start all together."
If I had not listened to you so long, I should at this moment
be at Berlin and have entirely recovered."
"What's to be done, my angel?
It was impossible, as you know. But
now if you would wait a
month, you would be ever so much better; I could finish up my
business, and we could take the children with us." ....
"The children are well, and I am
"But just see here, my love, if
in this weather you should grow worse on
the road .... At least we should be at home."
"What is the use of being at
home? ... Die at home?" replied the
But the word die evidently startled
her, and she turned on her husband a
supplicating and inquiring look. He dropped his eyes, and said nothing.
The sick woman's mouth suddenly
contracted in a childish fashion, and the
tears sprang to her eyes. Her
husband covered his face with his handkerchief, and silently turned from the coach.
"No, I will go," cried the
invalid; and, lifting her eyes to the sky, she clasped her hands, and began to whisper incoherent
words. "My God! Why must it be?"
she said, and the tears flowed more violently.
She prayed long and fervently, but
still there was just the same sense of
constriction and pain in her chest, just the same gray melancholy in the
sky and the fields and the
road; just the same autumnal mist, neither thicker nor more tenuous, but ever the same it in its monotony, falling
on the muddy highway, on the
roofs, on the carriage, and on the sheepskin coats of the drivers, who were
talking in strong, gay voices, as they were oiling and adjusting the
* * * *
The coach was ready, but the driver
loitered. He had gone into the
drivers' room [izba]. In the
izba it was warm, close, dark, and suffocating,
smelling of human occupation, of cooking bread, of cabbage, and of
Several drivers were in the room; the
cook was engaged near the oven, on top
of which lay a sick man wrapped up in his sheepskins.
"Uncle Khveodor! Hey!
Uncle Khveodor," called a young man, the driver, in
a tulup, and with his knout in his belt, coming into the room, and
addressing the sick man.
"What do you want, rattlepate?
What are you calling to Fyedka [Footnote:
Fyedka and Fyedya are diminutives of Feodor (Theodore), mispronounced by
the yamshchik.] for?"
asked one of the drivers. "There's
your carriage waiting for you."
"I want to borrow his boots.
Mine are worn out," replied the young
fellow, tossing back his curls and straightening his mittensin his belt.
"Why? Is he
asleep? Say, Uncle Khvodor!"
he insisted, going to the oven.
"What is it?" a weak voice
was heard saying, and an emaciated face was
lifted up from the oven.
A broad, gaunt hand, bloodless and
covered with hairs, pulled up his overcoat
over the dirty shirt that covered his bony shoulder.
"Give me something to drink, brother; what is it you want?"
The young fellow handed him a small
dish of water.
"I say, Fyedya," said he,
hesitating, "I reckon you won't want your new boots now; let me have them?
Probably you won't need them any more."
The sick man, dropping his weary head
down to the lacquered bowl, and dipping
his thin, hanging mustache into the brown water, drank feebly and
His tangled beard was unclean; his
sunken, clouded eyes were with difficulty
raised to the young man's face. When he had finished drinking, he tried to raise his hand to wipe his wet lips, but his
strength failed him, and he
wiped them on the sleeve of his overcoat. Silently,
and breathing with difficulty
through his nose, he looked straight into the young man's eyes, and
tried to collect his strength.
"Maybe you have promised them to
some one else?" said the young driver.
"If that's so, all right. The
worst of it is, it is wet outside, and I have to
go out to my work, and so I said to myself, 'I reckon I'll ask Fyedka for
his boots; I reckon he won't
be needing them.' But may you will need them, -- just say." ....
Something began to bubble up and
rumble in the sick man's chest; he bent
over, and began to strangle, with a cough that rattled in his throat.
"Now I should like to know where
he would need them?" unexpectedly snapped
out the cook, angrily addressing the whole hovel.
"This is the second month
that he has not crept down from the oven.
Just see how he is all broken up! And
you can hear how it must hurt him inside.
Where would he need boots? They would
not think of burying him in new ones!
And it was time long ago, God pardon me
the sin of saying so. Just see how he chokes!
He ought to be taken from this
room to another, or somewhere. They
say there's hospitals in the city; but
what's you going to do? He
takes up the whole room, and that's too much.
There isn't any room
at all. And yet you are expected to
"Hey! Seryoha, come along, take your place, the people are
waiting," cried the head
man of the station, coming to the door.
Seryoha started to go without waiting
for his reply, but the sick man during
his cough intimated by his eyes that he was going to speak.
"You take the boots,
Seryoha," said he, conquering the cough, and getting
his breath a little. "Only,
do you hear, buy me a stone when I am dead," he added hoarsely.
"Thank you, uncle; then I will
take them, and as for the stone, -- yei- yei!
-- I will buy you one." There,
children, you are witnesses," the sick man was able to articulate, and
then once more he bent over and began to choke.
"All right, we have heard,"
said one of the drivers. "But
run, Seryoha, or else the
starosta will be after you again. You
know Lady Shirkinskaya is sick."
Seryoha quickly pulled off his
ragged, unwieldy boots, and flung them
under the bench. Uncle
Feodor's new ones fitted his feet exactly, and the yung
driver could not keep his eyes off them as he went to the carriage.
"Ek! What splendid boots!
Here's some grease," called another driver with
the grease-pot in his hand, as Seryoha mounted to his box and gathered up
"Get them for nothing?"
"So you're jealous, are
you?" cried Seryoha, lifting up and tucking around
his legs the tails of his overcoat.
"Of with you, my darlings," he cried to the
horses, cracking his knout; and the coach and barouche, with their
occupants, trunks, and other
belongings, were hidden in the thick autumnal mist, and
rapidly whirled away over the wet road.
The sick driver remained on the oven
in the stifling hovel, and, not being
able to throw off the phlegm, by a supreme effort turned over on the
other side, and stopped
Till evening there was a continual
coming and going, and eating of meals
in the room, and the sick man was not noticed.
Before night came on, the cook
climbed up on the oven, and got the ssheepskin coat from the farther side
of his legs.
"Don't be angry with me,
Nastasya," exclaimed the sick man. "I
shall soon leave your
"All right, all right, it's of
no consequence," muttered the woman. "But
what is the matter with you, uncle?
"All my inwards are gnawed out.
God knows what it is!"
"And I don't doubt your gullet
hurts you when you cough so!"
"It hurts me all over.
My death is at hand, that's what it is.
Okh! Okh! Okh!"
groaned the sick man.
"Mow cover up your legs this
way," said Nastasya, comfortably arranging the overcoat so that it would cover him, and then
getting down from the oven.
During the night the room was faintly
lighted by a single taper. Nastasya
and a dozen drivers were sleeping, snoring loudly, on the floor and the
benches. Only the sick
man feebly hawked and coughed, and tossed on the oven.
In the morning no sound was heard
"I saw something wonderful in my
sleep," said the cook, as she stretched
herself in the early twilight the next morning.
"I seemed to see Uncle Khveodor
get down from the oven and go out to cut wood.
'Look here,' says he, 'I'm going
to help you, Nastya;' and I says to him, 'How can you split wood?' but he
seizes the hatchet, and begins to cut so fast, so fast that
nothing but chips fly. 'Why,'
sais I, 'haven't you been sick?' - 'No,' says he, 'I am well,' and he kind of lifted up the ax, and I was scared; and I
screamed and woke up. He can't be dead, can he?
-- Uncle Khveodor! Hey,
Feodor did not move.
"Now he can't be dead, can he?
Go and see," said one of the drivers, who
had just waked up.
The emaciated hand, covered with
reddish hair, that hung down from the
oven, was cold and pale.
"Go tell the superintendent; it
seems he is dead," said the driver.
Feodor had no relatives.
He was a stranger. On the next day they buried
him in the new burying-ground behind the grove; and Nastasya for many
days had to tell everybody of
the vision which she had seen, and how she had been the first to discover that Uncle Feodor was dead.
Spring had come.
Along the wet streets of the city
swift streamlets ran purling between
heaps of dung-covered ice; bright were the colors of people's dresses and
the tones of their voices, as
they hurried along. In the walled
gardens, the buds on the
trees were burgeoning, and the fresh breeze swayed their branches with a
soft gentle murmur. Everywhere
transparent drops were forming and falling. ....
The sparrows chattered incoherently,
and fluttered about on their little wings.
On the sunny side, on the walls, houses, and trees, all was full of life and brilliancy. The
sky, and the earth, and the heart of man overflowed with youth and joy.
In front of a great seigniorial
mansion, in one of the principal streets,
fresh straw had been laid down; in the house lay that same moribund
invalid whom we saw hastening
Near the closed doors of her room
stood the sick lady's husband, and a
lady well along in years. On
a divan sat the confessor, with cast-down eyes,
holding something wrapped up under his stole.
In one corner, in a Voltaire easy-chair,
reclined an old lady, the sick woman's mother, weeping violently.
Near her stood the maid, holding a
clean handkerchief, ready for the old
lady's use when she should ask for it.
Another maid was rubbing the old lady's
temples, and blowing on her gray head underneath her cap.
"Well, Christ be with you, my
dear," said the husband to the elderly lady who was standing with him near the door:
"she has such confidence in you; you
know how to talk with her; go and speak with her a little while, my
darling, please go!"
He was about to open the door for
her; but his cousin held him back, putting
her handkerchief several times to her eyes, and shaking her head.
"There, now she will not see
that I have been weeping," said she, and,
opening the door herself, went to the invalid.
The husband was in the greatest
excitement, and seemed quite beside himself.
He started to go over to the old mother, but, after taking a few
steps, he turned around, walked the length of the room, and approached
The priest looked at him, raised his
brows toward heaven, and sighed. The
thick gray beard also was lifted and fell again.
"My God! My God!" said the husband.
"What can you do?"
exclaimed the confessor, sighing and again lifting up
his brows and beard, and letting them drop.
"And the old mother there!"
exclaimed the husband almost in despair. "She
will not be able to endure it. You
see, she loved her so, she loved her so,
that she .... I don't know. You
might try, father, to calm her a little, and
persuade her to go away."
The confessor arose and went over to
the old lady.
"It is true, no one can
appreciate a mother's heart," said he, "but God is compassionate."
The old lady's face was suddenly
convulsed, and a hysterical sob shook her
"God is compassionate,"
repeated the priest, when she had grown a little calmer. "I
will tell you, in my parish there was a sick man, and much worse
than Marya Dmitrievna, and he, though he was only a shopkeeper, was cured
in a very short time, by
means of herbs. And this very same
shopkeeper is now in Moscow. I
have told Vasili Dmitrievitch about him; it might be tried, you know.
At all events, it would satisfy the invalid.
With God, all things are possible."
"No, she won't get well,"
persisted the old lady. "Why
should God have taken her,
and not me?"
And again the hysterical sobbing
overcame her, so violently that she fainted
The invalid's husband hid his face in
his hands, and rushed from the room.
In the corridor the first person whom
he met was a six-year-old boy, who was
chasing his little sister with all his might and main.
"Do you bid me take the children
to their mamasha?" inquired the nurse.
"No, she does not like to see
them. They distract her."
The lad stopped for a moment, and,
after looking eagerly into his father's
face, he cut a dido with his leg, and with merry shouts ran on.
"I'm playing whe's a horse,
papasha," cried the little fellow, pointing to his sister.
Meantime, in the next room, the
cousin had taken her seat near the sick
woman, and was skilfully bringing the conversation by degrees round so as
to prepare her for the
thought of death. The doctor stood
by the window, mixing some
The invalid, in a white capote, all
surrounded by cushions, was sitting up
in bed, and gazed silently at her cousin.
"Ah, my dear!" she
exclaimed, unexpectedly interrupting her, "don't try to prepare me; don't treat me like a little child!
I am a Christian woman. I
know all about it.
I know that I have not long to live; I know that if my husband
had heeded me sooner, I should have been in Italy, and possibly, yes
probably, should have been
well by this time. They all told
him so. But what is to be done? It's
as God saw fit. We all of us have
sinned, I know that; but I hope in
the mercy of God, that all will be pardoned, ought to be pardoned. I am trying
to sound my own heart. I also have
committed many sins, my love. But
how much I have suffered in atonement!
I have tried to bear my sufferings
"Then shall I have the confessor
come in, my love? It will be all
the easier for you, after you
have been absolved," said the cousin.
The sick woman dropped her head in
token of assent. "O God!
Pardon me, a sinner," she whispered.
The cousin went out, and beckoned to
the confessor. "She is an
angel," she said to the
husband, with tears in her eyes. The
husband wept. The priest
went into the sick room; the old lady still remained unconscious, and in
the room beyond all was
perfectly quiet. At the end of five
minutes the confessor came
out, and, taking off his stole, arranged his hair.
"Thanks be to the Lord, she is
calmer now," said he. "She
wishes to see you."
The cousin and the husband went to
the sick-room. The invalid, gently
weeping, was gazing at the images.
"I congratulate you, my
love," said the husband.
"Thank you. How well I feel now!
What ineffable joy I experience!" said
the sick woman, and a faint smile played over her thin lips.
"How merciful God is!
Is He not? He is merciful and omnipotent!"
And again with an eager prayer she
turned her tearful eyes toward the holy
Then suddenly something seemed to
occur to her mind. She beckoned to
"You are never willing to do
what I desire," said she, in a weak and
The husband, stretching his neck,
listened to her submissively.
"What is it, my love?"
"How many times I have told you
that these doctors don't know anything!
There are simple women doctors; they make cures.
That's what the good father said.
... A shopkeeper .... Send for him." ...
"For whom, my love?"
You can never understand me." And
the dying woman frowned, and
closed her eyes.
The doctor came to her, and took her
hand. Her pulse was evidently
growing feebler and feebler. He
made a sign to the husband. The
sick woman remarked this gesture, and looked around in fright.
The cousin turned away to hide
"Don't weep, don't torment
yourselves on my account," said the invalid. "That takes away from me my last
"You are an angel!"
exclaimed the cousin, kissing her hand.
"No, kiss me here.
They only kiss the hands of those who are dead.
My God! My
That same evening the sick woman was
a corpse, and the corpse in the coffin
lay in the parlor of the great mansion. In
the immense room, the doors of
which were closed, sat the clerk, and with a monstrous voice read the Psalms
of David through his nose.
The bright glare from the wax candles
in the lofty silver candelabra fell on
the white brow of the dead, on the heavy waxen hands, on the stiff folds of
the cerement which brought out into awful relief the knees and the feet.
The clerk, not varying his tones,
continued to read on steadily, and in
the silence of the chamber of death his words rang out and died away.
Occasionally from distant rooms came the voice of children and their
"Thou hidest thy face, they are
troubled; thou takest away their breath,
they die and return to their dust.
"Thou sendest forth thy Spirit,
they are created; and thou renewest the
fact of the earth.
"The glor of the Lord shall
endure forever." ...
The face of the dead was stern and
majestic. But there was no motion
either on the pure cold brow, or the firmly closed lips.
She was all attention! But
did she perhaps now understand these majestic words?
At the end of a month, over the grave
of the dead a stone chapel was erected.
Over the driver's there was as yet no stone, and only the fresh green
grass sprouted over the mound which served as the sole record of the past
existence of a man.
"It will be a sin and a shame,
Seryoha," said the cook at the station-
house one day, "if you don't buy a gravestone for Khveodor.
You kept saying, 'it's winter, winter,' but now why don't you keep your
word? I heard it all.
He has already come back once to ask why you don't do it; if you don't
buy him one, he will come
again, he will choke you."
"Well, now, have I denied
it?" urged Seryoha. "I am
going to buy him a stone, as
I said I would. I can get one for a
ruble and a half. I have not
forgotten about it; I'll have to get it. As soon as I happen to be in town, then I'll buy him one."
"You ought at least to put up a
cross, that's what you ought to do," said an old driver. It
isn't right at all. You're wearing
those boots now."
"Yes. But where could I get him a cross? You wouldn't want to make one
out of an old piece of stick, would you?"
"What is that you say?
Make one out of an old piece of stick?
No; take your ax, go
out to the wood a little earlier than usual, and you can hew him out
one. Take a little ash tree, and you can make one.
You can have a covered cross.
If you go then, you won't have to give the watchman a little drink of
vodka. One doesn't want to give vodka for every trifle.
Now, yesterday I broke my
axletree, and I go and hew out a new one of green wood.
No one said a word."
Early the next morning, almost before
dawn, Seryoha took his ax, and went to
Over all things hung a cold, dead
veil of falling mist, as yet untouched
by the rays of the sun.
The east gradually grew brighter,
reflecting its pale light over the vault
of heaven still covered by light clouds. Not a single grass-blade below, now a single leaf on the topmost branches of the tree-top,
waved. Only from time to time could be heard the sound of fluttering wings in
the thicket, or a rustling on
the ground broke in on the silence of the forest.
Suddenly a strange sound, foreign to
this nature, resounded and died away
at the edge of the forest. Again
the noise sounded, and was monotonously
repeated again and again, at the foot of one of the ancient, immovable
trees. A tree-top began to shake in an extraordinary manner; the
juicy leaves whispered something;
and the warbler, sitting on one of the branches, flew off a couple of
times with a shrill cry, and wagging its tail, finally perched on another
The ax rang more and more frequently;
the white chips, full of sap, were scattered
upon the dewy grass, and a slight cracking was heard beneath the
The tree trembled with all its body,
leaned over, and quickly straightened
itself, shuddering with fear on its base.
For an instant all was still, then
once more the tree bent over; a crash
was heard in its trunk; and, tearing the thicket, and dragging down the
branches, it plunged toward the damp earth.
The noise of the ax and of footsteps
The warbler uttered a cry, and flew
higher. The branch which she grazed
with her wings shook for an instant, and then came to rest like all the
others their foliage.
The trees, more joyously than ever,
extended their motionless branches over
the new space that had been made in their midst.
The first sunbeams, breaking through
the cloud, gleamed in the sky, and shone
along the earth and heavens.
The mist, in billows, began to float
along the hollows; the dew, gleaming,
played on the green foliage; translucent white clouds hurried along their
The birds hopped about in the
thicket, and, as if beside themselves,
voiced their happiness; the juicy leaves joyfully and contentedly
whispered on the tree-tops;
and the branches of the living trees slowly and majestically
waved over the dead and fallen tree.