Book 8, part 2. The Rites of Love (2006)
Love as a fully fledged member of the family
Little Liubomilka returned home with her sister. It was already the family’s supper-time. But Liubomilka didn’t want to sit down to the table. Clinging to her grandmother’s skirt, she begged:
“Can we go for a walk together in the garden, Grammykins? I want to tell you about a miracle — just you alone.”
Upon overhearing this request, the father protested:
“It’s not proper, daughter dear, to go off when the family’s about to sit down to table, let alone take your grandmother with you...”
But when the father looked into his daughter’s face, he broke into a smile. The Vedruss people knew the grace of childhood love. They knew how to treat love kindly, to embrace it as a heavenly gift to the family, to refrain from making fun of it and to respect its every trace.
They valued the grace of its great energy, and so the diverse energies of Love would come to them with great joy
“You and your grandmother go for a walk in the garden and eat some berries,” said the father, feigning an air of nonchalance.
Little Liubomilka sat her grandmother down in a far corner of the garden and right off began excitedly telling her story: “Grammykins, I was playing with my friends there at the haymaking, and they ran off to have a ride on the stooks. I didn’t feel like joining them. I was just minding my own business. All of a sudden this most kind and handsome young lad stops his horse and comes up to me. Yes, indeed, Grammykins, he comes just as close as you and I are right now. And he was so handsome and kind. Here he stands in front of me and says: ‘Little girl, I invite you...’ No, he didn’t say that. He put it another way He said: ‘Little girl, not only do I invite you, I beg you to take a little ride on my stook.’ And I had a ride. There. You see, Grammykins? Has something happened with him?”
“Something’s happened with you, granddaughter dear. And what might his name be?”
“I don’t know. He didn’t say”
“First of all, my little Liubomilochka, tell me the whole story, and try to remember the way it really happened.”
“The way it really... ” Liubomilka hung her head. “The way it really happened? I took a fall into a puddle, he came along and washed out my dress, then he gave me a ride on his stook, but I guess he never told me his name. He called me ‘Little one’, and when he left, he never once looked in my direction.” Liubomilka finished her story and began crying. She continued through her tears:
“I stayed standing there, and watched him go away. Only he never looked at me even once, and what his name was he didn’t say”
The grandmother gave her granddaughter a big hug, stroking her dark blonde hair, as though stroking the energy of Love within her. And she whispered, as though saying a prayer:
“O great energy from God! Turn and help my granddaughter with your grace. Do not burn her still immature heart. Give her inspiration to take part in co-creation!”
Aloud she said to Liubomilka:
“Granddaughter dear, would you like this very good lad to always have eyes for you alone?”
“Yes, I would, Grammykins. I would!”
“Then you should not let him come by or see you for three years.”
“When he spied you, you were all dirtied by the mud. He saw you as a crying, helpless little girl. That is the impression he still has of you. In three years’ time, if you yourself make the effort, you will be older, smarter and more beautiful.”
“I shall try. I shall try the very best I can. Only tell me, Grammykins, how should I try — what plan should I follow?”
“I shall share all my secrets with you, granddaughter dear. If you earnestly try to follow them, you will be more beautiful than all the flowers on the Earth, and people will rejoice at your presence. You will not need to wait to be chosen, you yourself will have your choice of lovers.”
“Tell me, Grammykins, and I shall do everything you say. Only tell me faster!” Little Liubomilka was trying to hurry her grandmother up, tugging impatiently at the hem of her dress.
And, slowly and solemnly uttering the words, the grandmother told Liubomilka:
“You need to get up earlier in the morning. You spend your mornings just lazing around. You should get out of bed, run to the stream and wash yourself with pure spring water. When
you get home, have a little porridge to eat. But you always demand sweet berries instead.”
“But Grammykins, why should I try doing this all at home if he’s not there to see me?” Liubomilka asked in surprise. “He won’t see how I bathe in the stream and eat my porridge each morning.”
“That, of course, is something he won’t see. But your efforts will be reflected in your outward beauty And the energy will be made apparent within.”
Liubomilka tried to follow her grandmother’s advice. She did not always succeed, especially that first year. But on those mornings her grandmother would come to her, sit down on her bed and say:
“If you don’t rise with the Sun and run down to the stream, you will not become more beautiful this day”
And Liubomilka began rising early By the second year she had become accustomed to the new regimen, and easily went through the routine of washing in the morning and cheerfully eating her porridge at breakfast.
Now the three-year waiting period recommended by her grandmother was almost at an end — only one month remained. People were gathering at the kapishche from all around for this season’s fair. Liubomila and her elder sister Yekaterina watched as carriages regularly passed by their domain on the way to the fair. And all at once they noticed one carriage pull off the road and approach their gate, where the sisters were standing. And lo and behold, there in the carriage...
Liubomilka recognised him right off. There sitting with the other passengers and holding the reins was none other than her beloved Radomir, looking just a little older.
The little girl’s heart began trembling when the carriage came up to their gate and stopped. An older gentleman among the passengers, probably the father, said:
“Cordial greetings, my maidens. Please convey my respects to your father and mother, and all your elders. We would like a drink of your kvass. We forgot to bring our own along on the journey.”
Liubomilka rushed into the house, calling out:
“They send all of you greetings. Where’s the pitcher? Our pitcher with the kvass, where is it? Oh, yes, it’s in the pantry, keeping cool.” And off to the pantry she dashed, overturning a pail of water standing by the door in the process. Turning around, she rattled off to her grandfather and grandmother: “Not to worry! I’ll mop it up when I come back.” Grabbing hold of the pitcher, she ran out to the gate, where she stopped to catch her breath. Restraining her excitement, she opened the gate, walked out with stately stride and handed the pitcher of kvass to the gentleman.
While the father of the family was drinking the kvass, Liubomilka kept her eyes fixed on Radomir. But he had eyes for Yekaterina.
When his turn came to be handed the pitcher, he drank up the remaining kvass, then jumped down from the carriage and held out the pitcher to Yekaterina, saying:
“Thank you. This kvass was prepared by kind hands.” Liubomilka watched as the carriage drove off, then, running to the deep far corner of the garden, collapsed on the bench and began weeping bitterly
“Why so sad again, Liubomilka?” Grandmother had come over and sat down beside her.
Through her tears the girl told her grandmother what had happened:
“They came to us and asked for kvass, and the boy was there who gave me a ride on the stook three years ago. He’s even
more handsome now. I ran and brought the kvass in a pitcher. They all took a drink, and said how good it was. He took a drink too, and then gave the pitcher to Yekaterina. Not to me, Grammykins, but to her, my rival, Yekaterina. And it was her he thanked, not me. She’s a real dingbat, that sister of mine. She must have been chatting him up while I was getting the kvass. He looked back at her and even smiled. My own sister — a rival! A real dingbat!”
“Why are you blaming your sister? She’s not at fault. You are.” ‘Why am I to blame, Grammykins? What have I done wrong?” “Listen carefully Your sister made a colourful embroidery pattern, which she neatly applied to the sleeves of her dress. You wanted to do everything yourself, too, but on your dress the sewing didn’t come out straight.
“Besides, your sister can speak in verse, she’s better than anyone at singing koliadki, and you’re unwilling to talk with any wise-men who can teach you to recite and compose verse. The boy you’ve chosen — no doubt he’s a pretty smart lad, he has an appreciation of beauty and intellect.”
“Does that mean I have to study another three years, Grammykins?”
“Three, perhaps. But it could be five.”