Gypsies - extract from my translation


closing paragraphs, pages 192-3:

The glow of a new day began to light up the east.  Beyond the mound Aléko, bloodied and with knife in hand, was sitting on the tombstone, a fearsome expression on his face.  The two bodies he had murdered lay in front of him.  A crowd of gypsies, aghast, gathered nervously around him.  Some began to dig a grave a little way away.  Sorrowing women came in a line and kissed the eyes of those who had died.  The old father sat alone and gazed at his dead daughter, speechless and paralysed with grief.  The bodies of the young couple were lifted up, carried off and laid to rest in the cold earth.  Aléko watched it all from a distance.  Only when they had covered the grave with the last handful of earth did he slowly and silently lean over and topple from the tombstone onto the grass. 

The old man came up to him and said: ‘Leave us.  You think you know better than us, don’t you?  We’re primitive folk, without laws; we don’t torture or execute; we don’t demand blood or screams of pain; but we’ve no wish to have a murderer living among us.  You weren’t born for this primitive life; the freedom you want is just for yourself; when you speak, you’ll only be hectoring us: we are shy, good-hearted folk; you are malign and domineering.  Leave us, I say.  Farewell! – and may peace go with you.’

          He finished speaking.  The noisy band of roaming gypsies struck camp and moved off from the valley where they had spent that fearful night; soon all had vanished in the remoteness of the steppe.  Only one waggon, with its covering of a worn-out rug, was left standing on the ill-fated camping ground.  In the same way on a misty morning at the onset of winter a late flock of cranes may fly up from the fields and set off for the far south with a cry, while one, hit by deadly lead shot, is left pathetically behind, dragging its injured wing.

          Night fell.  By the dark waggon noöne made up a fire; under the makeshift awning noöne lay down for a night’s sleep.