The Christening in the Village
This chapter is not one of old Peter's stories, though there are, doubtless, some stories in it. It tells how Vanya and Maroosia drove to the village to see a new baby.
Old Peter had a sister who lived in the village not so very far away from the forest. And she had a plump daughter, and the daughter was called Nastasia, and she was married to a handsome peasant called Sergie, who had three cows, a lot of pigs, and a flock of fat geese. And one day when old Peter had gone to the village to buy tobacco and sugar and sunflower seeds, he came back in the evening, and said to the children,—
"There's something new in the village."
"What sort of a something?" asked Vanya.
"Alive," said old Peter.
"Is there a lot of it?" asked Vanya.
"No, only one."
"Then it can't be pigs," said Vanya, in a melancholy voice. "I thought it was pigs."
"Perhaps it is a little calf," said Maroosia.
"I know what it is," said Vanya.
"It's a foal. It's brown all over with white on its nose, and a lot of white hairs in its tail."
"What is it then, grandfather?"
"I'll tell you, little pigeons. It's small and red, and it's got a bumpy head with hair on it like the fluff of a duckling. It has blue eyes, and ten fingers to its fore paws, and ten toes to its hind feet—five to each."
"It's a baby," said Maroosia.
"Yes. Nastasia has got a little son, Aunt Sofia has got a grandson, you have got a new cousin, and I have got a new great-nephew. Think of that! Already it's a son, and a cousin, and a grandson, and a great-nephew, and he's only been alive twelve hours. He lost no time in taking a position for himself. He'll be a great man one of these days if he goes on as fast as that."
The children had jumped up as soon as they knew it was a baby.
"When is the christening?"
"The day after to-morrow."
"Who is going to the christening?"
"The baby, of course."
"Yes; but other people?"
"All the village."
"I have to go, and I suppose there'll be room in the cart for two little bear cubs like you.