Page:Korolenko - Makar's Dream and Other Stories.djvu/219

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195
THE DAY OF ATONEMENT

The miller heard what the people were saying among themselves, and it made him glad. He knew how to work for the glory of God, he did! He swung his tongue as a lusty lad swings a flail on a threshing floor, till he was parched to the bottom of his throat and his eyes were popping out of his head.

The priest took him home with him after church, gave him tea, and set a full bottle of herb brandy before him, and this was afterwards taken away empty. The moon was floating high above the fields, and was staring down into the swift little Stony River when the miller left the priest's house and started home to his mill.

Some of the villagers were already asleep; some were sitting in their khatas eating their suppers by the light of a tallow-dip, and some had been tempted out into the street by the warm, clear autumn night. The old people were sitting at the doors of their khatas, but the lasses and lads had gone out under the hedges where the heavy shade of the cherry trees hid them from view, and only their low voices could be heard in various places, with an occasional peal of suppressed laughter, and now and then the incautious kiss of a young couple. Yes, many things can happen in the dense shade of a cherry tree on such a clear, warm night!

But though the miller could not see the villagers, they could see him very well because he was walking