In our village Luke and Peter had a fight, and the sand clouded up the stream so bright, and the women started brawling with all their might: the lentil soup was wounded, all but dead, the jelly was a- captured, so they said, the radish and the carrot both got ambushed, and the poor old cabbage lost its head. I was lazing in the sun and came too late for the fun.
There were six of us, brothers, all Agafons. Dad's name was Taras, but I don't remember Mum's. Still, what's in a name, eh? Let's call her Malania. I was the youngest of the brothers, but ten times smarter than the others. When everyone to plough went out, we six just waved our arms about. Folk thought we were a-ploughing and waving at the horses. But we were just getting on with our own business.
A buckwheat seed to a whip Dad tied, he swung it hard and threw it wide. T'was a fine year for buckwheat, that. The folk came to the field to reap, but we lay in the furrows fast asleep. We lay till noon, then slept all afternoon, but we stacked up the buckwheat, row upon row, from Kazan to Moscow. Then we threshed the whole lot and got a handful of groats.
Next year Dad asks: "Well, my handsome lads so dear, where shall we sow the crop this year?" I was the youngest of the brothers, but ten times smarter than the others. "On the stove," said I. "That is fertile ground. It lies fallow all year round!" Our house was a right biggun. The first row of logs was the floor, the second the ceiling. The windows and doors were bored out with a gimlet. It looked very nice, but there wasn't much room in it.
Dad got up early and worked real hard, stood at the window and stared and stared. The frost crept in and up to the stove: our poor buckwheat really froze. We six brothers racked our brains, what to do to save the grain. I was the youngest of the brothers, but ten times smarter than the others. "We must reap it and stack it away," said I. "But where shall we stack it?" "On the chimney. There's room to spare." So we stacked it high up there.
At home we had a bald tom-cat: it sniffed the buckwheat and smelt a rat, then gave a pounce and banged its bounce. Down fell the stack into a tub. The six of us racked our brains about how to get the buckwheat out. Then in came our grey mare so nice and ate the buckwheat in a trice; off it trotted, but alas, in the doorway got stuck fast: its belly was swollen from the feast! There it stood and looked about, hind legs inside, front legs out. Then off it galloped like the
wind, dragging the house along behind. All this time we laid low, waiting to see what would happen now. When its belly went down again, I grabbed the grey mare by the mane, jumped onto its back and rode off to the inn. I downed some liquor and had a good time; then what did I see but the inn-keeper's gun. "Is it for sale?" asked I. " Tis indeed," quoth he. So I paid him a pittance and got me a gun.
Off I rode to an oak copse to shoot me some game: there sat a black grouse, and I took aim. But the gun had no flint! It was ten versts or more to the nearest town; by the time I got back the bird would have flown. While I thought thus, my sheepskin coat got caught upon a branch of oak; the grey mare started up with fear and banged my head against a tree—so hard I saw sparks before my eyes. One of the sparks fell on the gun, the gun fired and killed the grouse, the grouse fell on top of a hare, and the hare leapt up and bagged me the catch of my life! So off I set for Saratov with ten cartloads; and sold my catch for five hundred rabies. With the money I got me a wife, the thriftiest woman you've seen in your life: her skirts they do sweep, as she goes down the street; and when little lads meet her, they throw sticks to greet her. No need to buy firewood, so there. I live happily, without a care.