Grandfather’s oldest son, Blagoye, Arsen’s father, is the third member of the home council. The rest of the family listens and obeys. The three elders sometimes leave the house intentionally, to give the children a chance to play to their heart’s desire, the women to talk as much as they might please and the men to smoke freely. The moment, however, one of the “big three” steps into the house, every one becomes quiet and busy.
Grandpa, being an old man, would frequently behave like a child. At times he would lose his temper for the least trifle, then he would rage, scold, and, in his excitement, strike at the nearest one. Again, he would be gentle, generous, play with the youngsters, give them coppers. Then again, for no reason in the world, he would begin to cry: “I am left alone in this world like a withered tree on a mountain.”
Youth has its frivolity, old age its senility.
The day following Arsen’s adventure, Blagoye came to Radoyka with a serious mien, saying, “Auntie! Arsen, God forgive us, is crazy about Burmas’ devil of a girl.”
“Arsen? Is that the boy who was a major last summer?”
“That’s the one.”
“Did you say Burmas’ dare-devil?”
“She is no good for our house.”
“No, no! I think so too. But Arsen, the Lord forgive us our sins, is deeply in love with her. Velinka tells me he behaved badly last night.”
“How! What did he do?”
“Please don’t say anything to grandpa.”
“Velinka told me he was drunk, and that he threatened to kill Philip Marichich, because, you know—this fellow is after Anoka.”
“What do you say?” Grandma meditated a while, then said, “I’ll take the matter to grandpa and see what he says.”
“Please don’t mention a thing about last night, you know.”
Radoyka went to grandpa
Radoyka went to grandpa and told him the story; he was obviously worried. After a silence he looked at the old woman and said: “You know, my dear sister-in-law, it is just as you say. But I have head our old people say that it does no good to break young people’s hearts and disregard their desires. I believe our community has some eighty souls.”
“By far more.”
“Thank God! Why, then, shouldn’t Anoka be able to adjust herself and become one of us?”
“God bless your words.”
Several days later Anoka said to one of her friends, “I knew every-thing would turn out favorably! I am the prettiest girl in the nine villages hereabout!” She took a mirror from a little box under her blouse and began to primp her curly hair.
After becoming one of the members of the zadruga Jedanich, she remained the same spoiled girl as of old. She was always vain and obstinate; she would never do what was required of her, being always ready with a retort:
“I didn’t do this in my father’s house!”
“Why should I knead dough for a whole army? One loaf of bread is sufficient for me and my Arsen!”