Thursday, May 21, 2009

The village of Ukleyevo lay in a ravine...

The village of Ukleyevo lay in a ravine, so that from the highway and the railroad station all you could see was the belfry and the smokestacks of the cotton mills. When passersby asked what village it was, they would be told:
"The one where the verger ate all the caviar at the funeral."
Once, at the memorial dinner for the factory-owner Kostiukov, the old verger spotted black caviar among the hors d'oeuvres and greedily began to eat it; they pushed him, pulled him by the sleeve, but he was as if frozen with pleasure; he felt nothing and simply ate. He ate all the caviar, and there were about four pounds of it in the jar. And much time had passed since then, the verger was long dead, but the caviar was still remembered. Either the life there was so poor, or the people were unable to notice anything except this unimportant event that had happened ten years ago, but nothing else was ever told about the village of Ukleyevo.

-- In the Ravine (1900), Anton Chekhov



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