On the threshold, through the faint light of the early dawn, he noticed a human figure.
“Who are you, there?”
“It is me, grandpa, Anoka! I want to die. Forgive me, if you can.` Grandpa stopped, swayed, and almost fell.
“My child, it is sinful to talk like that. Look at my hair, not even the sheep`s wool is whiter.”
Anoka grasped the hem of his cloak which hung down from his shoulders, and kissed it.
“I have sinned awfully. I destroyed the harmony of your home. For-give me, for God`s sake!”
Nothing easier than to make an old man cry. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He took her head in both his hands and kissed her.
She followed him into the room.
“Sit down there.”
She sat on a stool, and grandpa on the edge of the bed.
“Shell some of these beans.”
She did so. Grandpa looked at her with joy. Both remained silent, without uttering a sound, yet their hearts spoke. Day began to reign.
“Grandpa looked rejuvenated. He skipped rather than walked.
“Come to the well!”
They reached it.
“Draw some water.”
Anoka did so.
Anoka poured, and grandpa splashed his face and head.
Anoka began to dry his head carefully. It was easy to wipe away the water, but an old man`s eyes are weak and tears continued to roll down his cheeks.
Grandpa noticed some folks standing in the yard.
“Come nearer, all of you. Why don`t you wash yourselves? Don`t you see Anoka is waiting to pour for all of you? Yes, all of you. Poor girl, she will do it. But if she were to ask somebody to do the same for her` there would be three hundred growlings.”
Rather timidly, the men and women came closer to the well. And like well-bred, citified people, they each said to Anoka: “Thank you!”
Arsen`s face shone with happiness. He too reached the well, spread his feet, bent forward, and held out his hands.
She did so.
Arsen was in the seventh heaven.
“And how fine you pour! Take it easy, I am getting wet. Stop, not so, not so.”
She rolled up his sleeves, and with her right hand poured.
“That`s right, God bless you.”
Petriya ran around, tears rolling down her cheeks, telling something to one woman, questioning another.
Grandpa, overwhelmed with joy, went into his room, opened an old wooden box, took out a string of pearls, put it carefully in a spotted handkerchief, hid it under his waist, and returned to the well.
On their knees and pray
They were through with washing. They all felt as if they were standing on holy ground and listening to a sacred choral chant: “The Lord blessed the waters of the earth….” If by chance someone in the group would have given a sign, all would have fallen on their knees and prayed. Grandpa looked around with shining dignity and pride. Dear old fellow!
“You are fine people. No one here to pour water for Anoka.”
All of them jumped and reached the coop.
“Too late now. I like to do it myself. Come, my child, wash yourself!”
It is hard to say whether grandpa`s hands were shivering, or Anoka`s heart trembling. He dried her with his own towel, and hung the string of pearls around her neck.
“She did everything by herself, poor child. But I will repeat what I said last night, and every one of you shall-remember it: `May God forsake anyone who insults her.` ”
Heaven looks down on earth and smiles with joy looking at human affairs in amazement. What a funny two-legged creature is man! He gazes into the sky, opens his arms in despair, exclaims in mysterious sounds, prays and waits and wonders. Something unknown to man burns in his bosom; his soul expands and rises like holy incense longing for communion with the universe…. By God, it was always so!
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