Peter the First

Peter the First

Peter the First

Peter the First

Excerpt

Sanka jumped down from the stove, and bumped open the sagging door with her buttocks. Yashka, Gavrilka and Artamoshka quickly climbed down after her; they all suddenly felt thirsty. They ran out into the dark passage, preceded by a cloud of steam and smoke from the stuffy hut. The faint, bluish light of dawn showed through the snow that covered the little window. It was very cold. The water butt was frozen over, and the wooden dipper was covered with ice.

The children hopped from one foot to the other -- they were all barefooted. There was a kerchief tied over Sanka's head; Gavrilka and Artamoshka had only little shirts on, which barely reached their navels.

"The door, you little wretches!" their mother shouted from inside the hut. She was standing in front of the stove. The kindling wood blazed in the hearth and the flames lit up her wrinkled face. Her eyes, sunk and dark-rimmed from much weeping, gleamed terribly, like an icon's. Sanka felt frightened, and banged the door shut with all her might. Then she scooped up some of the evil-smelling water, drank a little, bit on a piece of ice, and gave her brothers a drink.

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