They brought Gerasim the cabbage soup. He crumbled some bread into it, cut the meat into very small pieces, and put the plate on the floor. Mumu began to eat with her usual refinement, hardly touching her food with her little muzzle. Gerasim gazed at her for a long time; two big tears suddenly rolled out of his eyes: one fell on the dog's craggy little forehead, the other into the cabbage soup.
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(by Ivan Turgenev, 1852)
A terrible story that, better than any manifesto, indicted the absolute tyrannical cruelty of pre-revolutionary landowners in Russia. Gerasim is a deaf and dumb peasant, brought from the country to serve his mistress (modeled on Turgenev's monstrous mother) as caretaker of her city property on the outskirts of Moscow. He doesn't like his new life, but gets used to it, especially after he rescues a little puppy with black and white spots from the riverbank. Having this dog, Mumu, he finally has love in his bitter and otherwise loveless life, and the dog worships him. But one day the mistress calls for Mumu to be brought into her presence; when it was shy of her and bared its teeth at her approach, the mistress was stung to a fury, implacably ordering, "see that she isn't here today--do you hear?"
Her butler Gavrilo tries to sell Mumu, but she finds her way back. Gerasim hides the dog, but the mistress gets wise when Mumu's guard dog instincts make her bark at an intruder. This time the writing is on the wall: Gerasim is ordered to hand Mumu over--to be destroyed. The mistress will NOT have that ungrateful dog disturbing her rest.
"An hour after all this commotion, the door of the boxroom opened and Gerasim appeared. He had his Sunday coat on. He was leading Mumu on a string. Yeroshka got out of the way and let him pass. Gerasim went to the gates. All the small boys in the yard followed him with their eyes in silence. He did not even turn round, and only put on his cap in the street. Gavrilo sent Yeroshka after him in the role of an observer. Seeing from a distance that he had gone to an inn with the dog, Yeroshka waited for him to come out again.
"In the inn they knew Gerasim and understood his signs. He ordered cabbage soup with boiled meat and sat down, leaning on the table with his arms. Mumu stood beside his chair, watching him calmly with her clever little eyes. Her coat was glossy: it was evident that she had just been thoroughly brushed. They brought Gerasim the cabbage soup. He crumbled some bread into it, cut the meat into very small pieces, and put the plate on the floor. Mumu began to eat with her usual refinement, hardly touching her food with her little muzzle. Gerasim gazed at her for a long time; two big tears suddenly rolled out of his eyes: one fell on the dog's craggy little forehead, the other into the cabbage soup. He covered his face with his hand. Mumu ate up half the meat on the plate and walked away from it, licking her chops. Gerasim got up, paid for the cabbage soup, and went out, accompanied by the somewhat perplexed glances of the waiter. Yeroshka, catching sight of Gerasim, darted round a corner and, letting him go on, followed him again.
Gerasim walked unhurriedly, without letting Mumu off the string.... At the Crimean Ford he walked along the bank of the river, went up to the place where there were two little rowing boats tied to pegs (he had noticed them before), and jumped into one of them, together with Mumu....
...Gerasim rowed on and on. Soon Moscow was left behind. Soon meadows, kitchen-gardens, fields, and copses stretched on either side of the bank and peasants' cottages appeared. There came a breath of open country. He threw down the oars, put his head close to Mumu, who sat before him on a dry cross-seat (the bottom of the boat was full of water), and remained motionless, his powerful hands crossed on her back, while the boat was gradually carried back by the current toward the town. At last Gerasim sat up hurriedly with an expression of painful bitterness on his face, tied the bricks he had taken with a rope, made a running noose, put it round Mumu's neck, lifted her up over the river, and looked at her for the last time. She looked at him trustingly and without fear and wagged her tail slightly. He turned away, shut his eyes, and opened his hands. . . . Gerasim heard nothing, neither the quick shrill yelp of the falling Mumu nor the heavy splash of the water; for him the noisy day was soundless and silent as no still night is silent to us, and when he opened his eyes again, little waves as before were hurrying over the river, as though chasing each other and, as before, rippled against the two sides of the boat, and only far away behind some wide circles were spreading out towards the bank....