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by [?]

Translated From The Russian
By Isabel Hapgood

The son of a widowed peasant-woman died–a young fellow aged twenty, the best labourer in the village.

The lady-proprietor of that village, on learning of the peasant-woman’s affliction, went to call upon her on the very day of the funeral.

She found her at home.

Standing in the middle of her cottage, in front of the table, she was ladling out empty[73] cabbage-soup from the bottom of a smoke-begrimed pot, in a leisurely way, with her right hand (her left hung limply by her side), and swallowing spoonful after spoonful.

[73] That is, made without meat.–TRANSLATOR.

The woman’s face had grown sunken and dark; her eyes were red and swollen … but she carried herself independently and uprightly, as in church.[74]

[74] The ideal bearing in church is
described as standing “like a candle”;
that is, very straight and motionless.

“O Lord!” thought the lady; “she can eat at such a moment … but what coarse feelings they have!”

And then the lady-mistress recalled how, when she had lost her own little daughter, aged nine months, a few years before, she had refused, out of grief, to hire a very beautiful villa in the vicinity of Petersburg, and had passed the entire summer in town!–But the peasant-woman continued to sip her cabbage-soup.

At last the lady could endure it no longer.–“Tatyana!” said she…. “Good gracious!–I am amazed! Is it possible that thou didst not love thy son? How is it that thy appetite has not disappeared?–How canst thou eat that cabbage-soup?”

“My Vasya is dead,” replied the woman softly, and tears of suffering again began to stream down her sunken cheeks,–“and, of course, my own end has come also: my head has been taken away from me while I am still alive. But the cabbage-soup must not go to waste; for it is salted”

The lady-mistress merely shrugged her shoulders and went away. She got salt cheaply.

May, 1878.