The weather is gray in his childhood countryside, stifling, preserved exactly in his memory, at the edge of the sky is the black line of a small forest, the town is open to view. There is a large tavern which makes an unpleasant impression, frightening him as he strolls with his father. There was always a crowd, shouting, swearing, singing in such ugly and hoarse voices, and fought so often; there was always such drunk and scary mugs loitering around the tavern . . . Meeting them he, he would press close to his father and tremble all over. The road by the tavern, a country track, was always dusty, and the dust was always so black, it meandered on, and in another three hundred paces or so skirted the town cemetery on the right. In the middle of the cemetery there was a stone church where he went for the memorial service for his grandmother, whom he had never seen and his younger brother who died at six months old.
And so now in his dream, he and his father are going down the road to the cemetery, past the tavern; he is holding his father's hand and keeps looking fearfully at the tavern over his shoulder. There seems to be some sort of festivity, townspeople all kinds of rabble. A large cart, the type large cart-horses are harnessed for transporting goods and barrels of wine. He always liked watching those huge horses, long-maned and thick-legged, moving calmly, at a measured pace, pulling some whole mountains behind them without the least strain, as if the load made it easier for them.
But now, strangely, to such a big cart a small, skinny, grayish peasant nag had been harnessed, one of those---he had often seen it--that sometimes over strain themselves pulling a load of hay. The peasants always whip them so painfully, so painfully, sometimes even the muzzle and eyes, and he would feel so sorry, so sorry as he watched it that he always wept, and his mother would always take him away from the window.
Then from out of the tavern very noisy, come some big peasants, drunk as can be. "Get in, get in everybody!" shouts one of them, a young man with a fat neck and a beefy face, red as a carrot. "I'll take everybody for a ride! Get in!" There was a burst of laughter!
"Not with a nag like that!"
"Are you out of your mind, Mikolka--harnessing such a puny mare to such a cart!"
"That gray can't be less than twenty years old, brother!"
"Get in I'll take everybody!" Mikolka cries again, and he jumps into the cart first, takes the reins, and stands up tall in the front. "This little runt of a mare breaks mt heart---I may as well kill her, she's not worth her feed. Get in I say! I'll make her gallop! Oh now she'll gallop!" He takes a whip in his hand already enjoying the idea of whipping the gray.
"Get in, why not!" Yells comes from the crowd. "She'll gallop did you hear?"
"I bet she hasn't galloped in ten years!"
"She will now!"
"Don't spare her brothers take your whips, get ready!"
"Here we go! Whip her up!"
GRAY DAY, GRAY MARE, CEMETERY, DRUNKS, DARKNESS, CENTER STAGE
SCOUNDRELS, PEASANTS, IDIOTS, ALCOHOL, INFLAMED RAGE
WHIPPED SAVAGELY, THE LITTLE MARE GIVES ALL
"I'll whip her to death!"
"Have you no fear of God, you hairy devil!" a shout from the crowd.
"Who ever saw a puny little horse pull a load like that?" shouts another.
"You'll do her in!" shouts a third.
"Hands off! It's my goods! I can do what I want. Get in, more of you. Everybody get in! She's damn well going to gallop! . . ."
TO CONTINUE ........................................................................