A Ballad (Bunin)

From Wikisum
Disclaimer: This summary was generated by AI, so it may contain errors.
A Ballad
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: An old woman recounted a tale of a prince who was killed by a wolf for his sinful desires. The prince had the wolf painted in the church as a lesson for his descendants.

On the eve of winter holidays, a country house was heated and prepared for the festivities. The house was filled with a reverential peace, with only the icons illuminated by candles and lamps. An elderly pilgrim named Mashenka, who occasionally stayed at the estate, would spend these nights praying and reciting psalms in the hallway.

Mashenka — elderly, religious woman; small and withered; often prayed and recited psalms.

One night, she was overheard praying to the "beast of God, the Lord’s wolf".

And thou, beast of God, the Lord’s wolf, pray for us to the Queen of Heaven.

When asked about this, Mashenka shared a story from her youth when she was a serf girl serving a prince. The prince had taken her on a trip to his grandfather's estate, where a church featured a painting of a fearsome wolf. This wolf was said to have killed the prince's grandfather, who had been a cruel and lustful man. The grandfather had even lusted after his own son's bride, leading to a chase in which the wolf attacked and killed him.

Before his death, the grandfather had ordered that the wolf be painted in the church above his tomb as a lesson to his descendants. Despite the wolf's terrifying image, it was seen as a divine instrument of justice, hence Mashenka's prayers to it.

It’s a sin to mock, sir. God’s world is full of wonders.

The listener of Mashenka's story was curious and respectful.