Vladimir Odoevsky: Igosha

I came running to the dining-room exactly when father was explaining what had taken him so long to come back home. “The stirrups kept breaking,” he said, “if not the stirrups, the coachman would lose his whip, or the outrunner would break her leg: in other words, out of the frying pan, into the fire! We might as well just have stopped on the side of the road; so I couldn’t help wondering: what if it really is some of Igosha’s frolics?”
“Igosha who?” mother asked him.
“Listen. In a gully, I stopped to feed the horses; I was cold, so I went inside the house to warm myself up; three coachmen were sitting around the table, with four spoons laid on the table in front of them; whenever they were cutting bread, they put an extra piece right next to the spoon; whenever they treated themselves to a pie, they left some of it on the table as well.”
“Who are you saving this all for, good men? You must be waiting for your friend?” I asked.
“Friend or no friend, this guy is piece of work – and he doesn’t like to be insulted.”
“Who is it?” I asked.
“Igosha, my master.”
What’s the story with this Igosha, I thought, and so I started questioning the men.
“Listen, my master,” one of them said, “in the summer, one of our neighbors had a little boy, so unwell he was, God have mercy on him, without arms or legs - barely holding his soul inside; hardly had they time to send for the priest – the baby passed away. Didn’t even make it till dinner. So, what to say, after doing all the crying and mourning, the baby was inhumed. But ever since, everything has been different with us… but Igosha, my master, is a kind lad: he keeps an eye on our horses, combs their manes, comes to the priest for his blessing; but if we don’t get him a fork, or if the priest forgets to give an extra blessing at church, Igosha gets naughty: either the priest’s wife’s dough gets tipped upside down, or the peas get scattered all over the place. He can break the horseshoe, or rip the bell’s tongue out – everything happens.”
“Hey! I see Igosha is a naughty boy," father said. “Give him to me, and if he serves me well, I will give him a good life, put him on a daily ration even .”
In the meantime, the horses had their rest, I warmed up, got into my sledge, and took off; hardly had we gone a mile before the breast band slipped, then the stirrups tore apart, and to make things worse, the shafts broke in two – we wasted a whole 2 hours. One might really think this was all Igosha’s evil-doing.”


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