Nikolay Gogol: May Night or The Floater

Careless and not at all worried about the pursuers, the perpetrator of this commotion was slowly approaching the old house and the pond. No need saying, it was Levko. His black jerkin was unbuttoned, his hands clutching the hat. He was drenched in sweat. Majestic and obscure was the maple wood, facing the moon. A breath of fresh air from the motionless pond wafted to the toiling strider, making him lie down on the shore to rest. All was quiet; in the thick of the woods nightingales roared. The irresistible urge to sleep closed his eyes; his tired body was ready to drift off to sleep; his head was ducking down… “Hey, I am not sleeping here!” he said, rubbing his eyes and standing up on his feet.

He ran his eyes over the plain: the night was magnificent. An unfathomable, but intoxicating glow entwined with the moonlight. Never before had he seen something like it happening. A silver fog fell all over the place. The odor of apple blossom and night flowers blanketed the ground. Astounded, he watched the still waters of the pond: an old mansion, tipped upside down, was showing out in its grandeur. Instead of dark shutters, it shone with gleeful glass doors and windows. Streaks of gild were flashing inside in the clean windows. Suddenly, he felt one of the windows opened. Totally motionless, with his eyes glued to the pond, he seemed to have plunged underwater. He saw a white elbow peeping out of the window, then came a friendly face with bright eyes, quietly glowing through waves of her fair hair; the head leaned on the elbow. He saw she was slightly nodding her head, waving her arm, smiling… His heart was pounding… The water stirred, and the window closed. Quietly he walked away from the pond and glanced at the house: the obscure shutters were open, and the glass was once again shimmering in the moonlight. “This is another proof of how wrong people’s talk is,” he thought to himself. “The house is new; the paint is fresh, like only put on today. Someone must be living in it.” Quietly, he walked up closer, but all was still silent. Loud and strong were the nightingale’s warbles, and when they seemed to die out in the languid agony, the crackling of grasshoppers or the hum of swamp birds would carry on, as they poked their slippery noses into the wide water mirror. A sweet silence and freedom, Levko felt, was entering his heart.

Translated by Ekaterina Shubnaya, RT

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