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Short Stories for Children of All Ages: Little Girls Wiser Than Their EldersLittle Girls Wiser Than Their Elders

 

 

                Easter was early. Folks had just ceased going in sledges. The snow still lay in the courtyards, and little streams ran through the village. In an alley between two dvors (courts) a large pool had collected from the dung heaps. And near this pool were standing two little girls from either dvor, one of them younger, the other older.

                The mothers of the two little girls had dressed them in new sarafans (jumpers), the younger one´s blue, the elder´s of yellow flowered damask. Both wore red hand­kerchiefs. The little girls, after mass was over, had gone to the pool, shown each other their dresses, and begun to play. And the whim seized them to splash in the water. The younger one was just going to wade into the pool with her little slip­pers on, but the older one said:

                “Don´t do it, Malashka. Your mother will scold. I´m going to take off my shoes and stockings. You take off yours.”

                The little girls took off their shoes and stockings, held up their clothes, and went into the pool so as to meet. Malashka waded in up to her ankles, and said:

                "It´s deep, Akulyushka. I am afraid."

                "Nonsense! It won´t be any deeper. Come straight toward me."

                They approached nearer and nearer to each other. And Akulka said:

                "Be careful, Malashka, don´t splash, but go more slowly."

                But the words were hardly out of her mouth, when Malashka put her foot down into the water; it splashed directly on Akulka´s sarafan.The sarafan was well spat­tered, and the water flew into her nose and eyes.         Akulka saw the spots on her sarafan; she became angry with Malashka, scolded her, ran after her, tried to slap her.

                Malashka was frightened when she saw what mischief she had done; she sprang out of the pool and hastened home.

                Akulka´s mother happened to pass by and saw her little daughter´s sarafan spat­tered, and her shirt bedaubed.

                "How did you get yourself all covered with dirt, you little good-for-nothing?"

                "Malashka spattered me on purpose."

                Akulka´s mother caught Malashka, and struck her on the back of the head.

                Malashka howled along the whole street. Malashka´s mother came out.

                "What are you striking my daughter for?"

                She began to scold her neighbor. A word for a word, the women got into a quar­rel. The muzhiks (peasants) hastened out; a great crowd gathered on the street. All were screaming. No one would listen to anyone. They quarreled, and the one jos­tled the other; there was a general row imminent; but an old woman, Akulka´­grandmother, interfered.

                She came out into the midst of the muzhiks, and began to speak.

                "What are you doing, neighbors? What day is it? We ought to rejoice. And you are doing such wrong things!"

                They did not heed the old woman; they almost struck her. And the old woman would never have succeeded in persuading them, had it not been for Akulka and Malashka. While the women were keeping up the quarrel, Akulka cleaned her sarafanchik and came out again to the pool in the alley. She picked up a little stone, and began to clear away the earth by the pool, so as to let the water run into the street.

                While she was cleaning it out, Malashka also came along and began to help her to make a little gutter with a splinter.

                The muzhiks were just coming to blows when the water reached the street, flowing through the gutter made by the little girls; and it went straight to the very spot where the old woman was trying to separate the muzhiks.

                The little girls were chasing it, one on one side, the other on the other, of the runnel.

                "Hold it back, Malashka! Hold it!" cried Akulka. Malashka also tried to say something, but she laughed so that she could not speak. Thus the little girls were chasing it, and laughing as the splinter swam down the runnel.

                They ran right into the midst of the muzhiks. The old woman saw them, and she said to the muzhiks:

                "You should fear God, you muzhiks! It was on account of these same little girls that you picked a quarrel, but they forgot all about it long ago; dear little things, they are playing together lovingly again."

                The muzhiks looked at the little girls and felt ashamed. Then the muzhiks laughed at themselves, and ·went home to their dvors.

 

"If ye are not like little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

                                                                                                          Leo Tolstoy

 

Marian Wright Edelman

I can make a difference

HarperCollinsPublishers, NY, 2005

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