Learn Russian – Story 6 – The Old Cook
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Story 6 (of 15) – The Old Cook
The Russian writer Paustovsky (1892— 1968), has been an inspiration to many of the stories in this series of Stories in Russian.
One of his most famous tales is the one we used as model for one of our previous Stories. Its popularity can be seen if you happen to visit Paustovsky’s grave in Tarusa, outside of Moscow. There, by the grave, you will always find a basket with fir cones.
In this chapter, Paustovsky takes us to Vienna a winter evening in the year of 1786.
In a small house in the outskirts of the city, an old and blind cook is laying on his deathbed.
In earlier days, he used to be the cook in the house of a very rich man. He and his daughter, Maria, are however very poor. The only furniture in the house is the bed, a table, some chairs and an old harpsichord.
Maria, understanding that her father is dying, is sitting by his bed, watching him with love in her eyes. Suddenly her father says, “I have something I need to confess before I die. Please bring a priest or a monk.”
Maria is at loss of what to do. It is very late and they live far from any church or monastery.
“Go out on the street”, says the old man, “and when you see someone, ask him to come here to receive a confession from a dying man.”
Without much hope, but wanting to fulfil her father’s wish, Maria walks outside.
To her surprise, she meets almost instantly a young man who agrees to follow her to the house.
The stranger is elegantly and expensive dressed. Even if he is not a priest, he will listen to the confession and, since God has given him some unusual gifts, maybe be of some help.
The confession the old cook wants to make, is about when he once stole a gold-plate from the rich house where he was working. He did it to pay for medicine for his very sick wife whom he loved above everything. This crime had haunted him all his life.
“Was anyone punished for the theft?”, the young man asks seriously. “No, no”, answers the old cook. “And if I had known that the gold in any case wasn’t going to help my dear Marta to survive, I would never have done it.”
The stranger tells the old cook that he was not to blame since he did it out of love for his wife and since nobody else did suffer from the deed.
Then he asks if he can do something else for the dying man.
The old cook smiles and says dreamingly, “How I wish to once more see my Marta as she was when she was young. I wish I could see the sun, the flowers and the old garden in the springtime. Of course I know that it is not possible, forgive me.”
“Alright”, says the young man, and sits down by the old harpsichord. “Alright”, he says once more and starts to play. His face is serious and beautiful. Wonderful music fills the room and the garden outside.
“I can see. I can see the day I met my Marta. I can see the beautiful garden with white flowers, the sun and the blue sky”, whispers the old blind cook.
The stranger continues to play, quietly and slowly. Maria listens to the magical music and cries.
“I saw everything as clear as it was then. How can I thank you? I do not want to die without knowing who you are. What is your name, please, your name?
“————“ answered the stranger.
Maria took a deep bow for the famous musician. Her old father died with a calm and happy face.
To find out who the famous musician was, get this Story in Russian now. You can get it together with 14 other interesting and educating stories, written and read in perfect Russian language.
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Here are some examples of Russian Grammatik in this story:
… употребление частиц (particles) “- нибудь (-либо), “-то”
… там трудно встретить кого-либо
… надеясь, что кто-нибудь пройдёт мимо дома
(встретить кого-либо (одного из многих))
… кто-нибудь пройдёт (неважно, кто пройдёт)
она увидела какого-то человека
(конкретного человека, но она не знала, кто он)
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