At the Well Part 5

At the Well Part 5

The same evening all the men were sitting around the table, for it was supper time. Radoyka was the only woman among them. The other women had their supper in the kitchen. Two or three women were serving at the table.

It was Anoka’s turn to serve.

Two other women walked in and out with dishes and food. Anoka leaned against the door and made faces.

Grandpa gave her a terrific look. All were speechless. Radoyka felt all the blood rushing to her head. Anoka did not even notice it!

After supper everybody made a sign of the cross, waiting for grand-pa’s sign for leaving the room.

Crust of bread

But the old man pushed aside a crust of bread, the spoon, the knife, and the wooden dish. He rested his head on his palm, looked around and fixed his eyes on Anoka.

She was on pins and needles, dropped her arms, stretched her strong and beautiful body, and moved to leave the room.

“Wait, my daughter,” said the old man, with an unusually clear voice.

The whole community was startled.

Grandpa continued in the same voice:

“Daughter, I hear… you feel a stranger in my house and with my folks.”

Grandpa again quietly said:

“I will not tolerate it as long as I live. My home shall never be a prison for any of my children. I understand that those women over there”—and he pointed in the direction of the kitchen—“are treating you badly. They forget that I am still the boss here.”

Anoka read malicious thoughts on grandpa’s lips. Hatred and fear possessed her heart.

“They are teasing you. They want you to work and to slave for them. You are not from a common family. Oh, no!”

He made every effort to look kind, sweet, and tender. Anoka felt uncomfortable.

Any quarrel

“I won’t permit anything of this kind any longer. I am an old and weak man, and cannot stand any quarrels. I now…”

His face looked severe, his lips trembled. He yelled out to the whole community:

“Hear ye all, you, Radoyka, too, and you, Blagoye, and the rest of you: I now command all of you and your wives to obey this woman here”—pointing to Anoka—“I don’t want her to do anything more in the house, so that her aristocratic hands won’t get dirty. God shall forsake any one who shall not obey her, or would insult her in any way.’ He arose, poor old man, with an attempt at dignity, which appeared pathetic and sad.

Now all crossed themselves, got up, silently passed Anoka, careful not to touch her. .

A fury possessed Anoka. She ran into the kitchen and triumphantly shouted out:

“Did you hear it all?”

As if women could fail to hear!

Blagoye’s woolen blanket

“Make a bed for me under the linden tree. I wish grandpa s cushion, Radoyka’s little pillow, Blagoye’s woolen blanket; and I want you, Petriya, whose brother is in jail, to take a stick, to chase the chickens from the trees, and to keep watch all through the night. God shall punish any one that does not obey my orders. Didn’t you hear grandpa say so?”

God be with us! How funny human beings sometimes are!

Nobody objected. A strange fear went into all of them. Grandpa swords, “God shall forsake!” still rang in everybody’s ears.

Arsen hid himself in the thrashing floor, lowered his head and tried to sleep, but in vain. Sleep is not like a blanket that you can put over your head whenever you like.

Anoka had her will.

But she couldn’t sleep as easily as she thought she might. She never before had this feeling of isolation and solitude. With no roof over her head she felt like a wild rider without reins, or like a sailboat on the open sea. She felt her heart burning, and no one to console her. But she remained stubborn.


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