Petka’s favorite activity was listening to his grandmother talk about how they used to live. She usually did it in the evening, when all the work is done and you can sit by the window at the spinning wheel. A spindle is spinning rapidly in her hands, at the end of which a thin thread of yarn is dancing.
— Yes, we lived differently, granddaughter. My mom had seven of us, and we all need to be fed. We, like those jackdaws, were always hungry. And where was that food to take on such a horde. Our cow, Zorenka, was already old. She didn’t give much milk, but half of that should be handed over to the collective farm. And from what was left, if we divide it into all, then there will be a glass, and then not full.
Mother will bring us liquid porridge in the oven in the evening, so in the morning we slurp. My brother Sasha and I were the eldest, he was older, I followed him. Mitka and Kolka, the twins, are behind us. And behind them, little by little less Manya, Nyura, and Dashutka. That’s why they got our portion of milk.
— My children, you are already big, strong, and Nyurka and Dashutka are so cute. They should have cottage cheese, but more. But where can I get it, when there is not enough milk,» the mother said, looking at us with her sad and tired eyes.
Poor mom, she was always tired. Is it a joke to have such a household on it. It’s not God knows how big — a cow, a pig, five geese, and a dozen chickens, but you have to keep track of all of them. And even your own vegetable garden, and a collective farm. And even to wash. Yes, each of us needs to say a kind word.
That’s how it turns like a squirrel in a wheel until the evening, and there is no time to sit down. That’s why there is fatigue in the eyes. That’s why the sadness.
No, Sasha and I helped, not without that. I milked the cow during the day, and gave out a glass of milk to the younger ones. I ran to the river to wash, it was scary, but what to do.
Grandfather Makar, our neighbor, told us that Lukerya, a drowned woman, lives in a pool. She drowned a hundred years ago, but still can’t forgive people that they were separated from the blacksmith.
And it was like this.
Ivan and Lukerya loved each other. They wanted to get married. But Ivan was a poor man, all his wealth is a mighty strength, and skill in blacksmithing. And he was an orphan and came from nowhere. Such people were not liked in the village and were not trusted.
And Lukerya’s father, Vasily, was well-to-do. He had a strong house, a large household, and a lot of gold. People said that he kept his wealth in a chest, and that it was buried in the forest. He knows some kind of conspiracy that you will read and no one will see, even if he lies under your nose. He was called a witcher, hated and feared. The well-to-do were not liked at all. They had plenty of everything, and they were well fed, and dressed, and their cheeks were rosy. And the common people did not like it when someone lives better than him. Envy has always clouded my eyes.
Well, Grandfather Makar said, Lukerya was the youngest daughter in Vasily’s family. He has already married two daughters, but successfully. They also live in rich houses, where the economy is large, but everything is in abundance.
It was the turn of the youngest daughter to marry, and to live out her life slowly.
He went to a neighboring village, and conspired there with a well-to-do peasant to marry the children. They were already waiting for matchmakers, as Lukerya disappeared from home.
And as soon as she heard about the matchmakers, she immediately ran away to Ivan.
— Vanechka, my dear, my named husband, I will not live in this world without you. We have to run wherever our eyes look,» she said, sobbing on Ivan’s chest.
And what does it matter to him, what does he have to run, that it doesn’t matter to live here, as long as Lukerya is nearby.
Well, they decided to spend the night, and with the first cocks to move on the road. And since husband and wife, though named, then they went to bed together. They have no one to hide now, come what may.
And there was the fact that they were overheard under the window, and they told Vasily when he and the peasants were chasing his Lukerya through the forest. Oh, what happened is what happened. Ivan was dragged out into the yard in his underwear. Four of them held him, and Vasily beat him with all his might. Lukerya grabbed him by the legs, shouted to spare him, but she also got it for shaming her father, the cursed whore.
They threw Ivan, beaten to death, in the middle of the yard, and dragged Lukerya home by the hair.
In the morning Ivan gave up the ghost, and Lukerya, when she heard about it, became like a statue. He can’t move a hand or a foot, he just sits at the window and looks at one point. In the evening she was put to bed like a little child. And she jumped up at night, ran and drowned herself in the pool. Since then, at night on the river, a white figure is often seen sitting on the bank and crying. This is Lukerya mourning her bitter fate. And if, God forbid, you see her during the day, then you will immediately become a pillar. She will drag you into her pool.
These are the stories Grandfather Makar told us. You hear enough of him and then you walk around looking around. It’s scary, but things have to be done. I’m doing laundry, but I’m afraid to look around myself, as if I won’t see Lukerya. It’s funny now, but then with the laundry washed, she jumped up the hill like your roe deer.
That’s how we lived, granddaughter. Is it good, is it bad, is it scary, is it fun. They lived in every way.