A Boyar's Sin

excerpt I couldn't make out too much from the hunter's stubborn taciturnity. Sandu, the publican, kept talking again and he was either unable to tell me or feigned to be ignorant of the things that I wanted to find out. And he tried to dazzle me by talking too fast, he held out his finger, stretched his chin to his chest and shouted that he had been a corporal in the artillery. He was such a sly fox, this Sandu Popescu! He stealthily pushed glasses of ţuică towards the rifleman: it's on the boyar! It was the same with the tobacco, even if he had some in his belt purse, it wouldn't harm to have some more: it was on the boyar's expense! And he kept smiling so happily and his face was as ruddy as the full moon, so there was nothing I could do about it but to accept silently and to pay willingly…I had every reason in the world to do so. Our hunting was very exciting. Marin knew the most hidden burrows of the beasts and led me to them in the little boat which he rowed slowly, surreptitiously and so skillfully that he got me admiring him. On the other hand the pond was crammed with ducks and gallinules – all species of wildfowl with scared, round eyes and long, glossy, shivering necks. It seemed to me that even this hunter of mine had borrowed some of that furtive, fearful litheness of the neck and some of the roundness of the piercing glance, as green as the still water of the Iezer, a glance that made me quiver with anxiety.It had taken to the passion of hunting pond game only one week to enter my soul, my blood, my senses. I cantered to the pub when the sun was ready to set; Marin and Sandu's noisy advice were already awaiting me there. I ordered a mug of ţuică for the rifleman and I paid for two packs of tobacco, then we walked down to the reed plot. In the silence of the large pond the lonesome cry of a bird woke up the wilderness and made me wince, as if it were some howl. My eyes wide open, I examined the sky at the line of the reddish whisks, looking at the sunset that was fading away in flames, or at the long paths cut among the canes or at the dark shade of the willows in which the stars, flowers of light as they were, would twinkle and mirror. My heart started thumping when a stem of reed shivered. Now I was able to make the difference between the light swing of the wind and the soft, quiet disturbance that waterfowl would cause in their moving across the surface. Now my ears could identify the wind-like flight of the ducks and differentiate them from the soft, barely audible fluttering of the herons or from the wing sizzling of the reed crakes; I could also differentiate between the shriek of the eagles that spun in the air for prey, and the trumpet-like cry of the bitterns, or the short, husky gurgle of the geese. And while sitting in the boat, my eyes carefully watched around, my heart beat furiously, there was no other thought on my mind. In his soft, interrupted monotone, Marin lectured me on this kind of passionate game. In the long periods of silence he kept smoking his pipe which was always full. When it emptied he refilled it but before lighting it again, he had one or two drinks of ţuică. Step by step we came to be closer and I could find out some things about his painful past that had so utterly embittered his soul.

by Mihail Sadoveanu (1880-1961)