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Chapter 10

  • Nikita awoke before daybreak. He was aroused by the cold that had begun t_reep down his back. He had dreamt that he was coming from the mill with _oad of his master's flour and when crossing the stream had missed the bridg_nd let the cart get stuck. And he saw that he had crawled under the cart an_as trying to lift it by arching his back. But strange to say the cart did no_ove, it stuck to his back and he could neither lift it nor get out from unde_t. It was crushing the whole of his loins. And how cold it felt! Evidently h_ust crawl out. 'Have done!' he exclaimed to whoever was pressing the car_own on him. 'Take out the sacks!' But the cart pressed down colder an_older, and then he heard a strange knocking, awoke completely, and remembere_verything. The cold cart was his dead and frozen master lying upon him. An_he knock was produced by Mukhorty, who had twice struck the sledge with hi_oof.
  • 'Andreevich! Eh, Andreevich!' Nikita called cautiously, beginning to realiz_he truth, and straightening his back. But Vasili Andreevich did not answe_nd his stomach and legs were stiff and cold and heavy like iron weights.
  • 'He must have died! May the Kingdom of Heaven be his!' thought Nikita.
  • He turned his head, dug with his hand through the snow about him and opene_is eyes. It was daylight; the wind was whistling as before between th_hafts, and the snow was falling in the same way, except that it was no longe_riving against the frame of the sledge but silently covered both sledge an_orse deeper and deeper, and neither the horse's movements nor his breathin_ere any longer to be heard.
  • 'He must have frozen too,' thought Nikita of Mukhorty, and indeed those hoo_nocks against the sledge, which had awakened Nikita, were the last effort_he already numbed Mukhorty had made to keep on his feet before dying.
  • 'O Lord God, it seems Thou art calling me too!' said Nikita. 'Thy Holy Will b_one. But it's uncanny… . Still, a man can't die twice and must die once. I_nly it would come soon!'
  • And he again drew in his head, closed his eyes, and became unconscious, full_onvinced that now he was certainly and finally dying.
  • It was not till noon that day that peasants dug Vasili Andreevich and Nikit_ut of the snow with their shovels, not more than seventy yards from the roa_nd less than half a mile from the village.
  • The snow had hidden the sledge, but the shafts and the kerchief tied to the_ere still visible. Mukhorty, buried up to his belly in snow, with th_reeching and drugget hanging down, stood all white, his dead head presse_gainst his frozen throat: icicles hung from his nostrils, his eyes wer_overed with hoar-frost as though filled with tears, and he had grown so thi_n that one night that he was nothing but skin and bone.
  • Vasili Andreevich was stiff as a frozen carcass, and when they rolled him of_ikita his legs remained apart and his arms stretched out as they had been.
  • His bulging hawk eyes were frozen, and his open mouth under his clippe_oustache was full of snow. But Nikita though chilled through was still alive.
  • When he had been brought to, he felt sure that he was already dead and tha_hat was taking place with him was no longer happening in this world but i_he next. When he heard the peasants shouting as they dug him out and rolle_he frozen body of Vasili Andreevich from off him, he was at first surprise_hat in the other world peasants should be shouting in the same old way an_ad the same kind of body, and then when he realized that he was still in thi_orld he was sorry rather than glad, especially when he found that the toes o_oth his feet were frozen.
  • Nikita lay in hospital for two months. They cut off three of his toes, but th_thers recovered so that he was still able to work and went on living fo_nother twenty years, first as a farm-labourer, then in his old age as _atchman. He died at home as he had wished, only this year, under the icon_ith a lighted taper in his hands. Before he died he asked his wife'_orgiveness and forgave her for the cooper. He also took leave of his son an_randchildren, and died sincerely glad that he was relieving his son an_aughter-in-law of the burden of having to feed him, and that he was no_eally passing from this life of which he was weary into that other life whic_very year and every hour grew clearer and more desirable to him. Whether h_s better or worse off there where he awoke after his death, whether he wa_isappointed or found there what he expected, we shall all soon learn.