This article is taken from Stand 224, 17(4) December 2019 - February 2020.

Aleksandr Afanasyev Four Fables
trans. Stephen Pimenoff
The Thieving Peasant

There once was an old woman who had two sons. One died, and the other went off to a distant land. Three days after her son had left, a soldier arrived and asked:

‘Granny, let me spend the night.’

‘Come in, my dear! Where are you from?’

‘I am a Nikonetz, granny – I come from the other world.’

‘Oh, my dear! You know my little sonny is dead. Did you see him?’

‘Of course I saw him. He and I lived in the same room.’

‘You don’t say!’

‘He tends cranes in that world, granny.’

‘My dear! You and he must have been so tired.’

‘We were exhausted! You see, granny, those cranes kept wandering through the dog-rose.’

‘I suppose his clothes were worn out?’

‘They were really worn out, entirely in rags.’

‘I have, my dear, about forty arshin of coarse linen and about ten roubles in cash. Take them to my son.’

‘It’ll be a pleasure, granny!’

Before long, her son arrived home.

‘Greetings, mother!’

‘While you were away a Nikonetz from the other world called in and gave me news of your dead brother. They lived together in one room. I sent him back with some coarse linen and ten roubles in cash.’

‘If that is so,’ said her son, ‘goodbye mother. I shall go through the wide ...
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