|Ivan Shishkin (1832-1898), The hut in the Forest|
"Where do you think this horrible wind comes from, Yarmola?"
"The wind?" Yarmola looked up lazily. "Why, don't you know, master?"
"Of course not. How could I know such a thing?"
"Don't you, really!" Yarmola was roused. "I'll tell you," he went on, a shade mysteriously. "Either a witch has been born, or a wizard's making merry." I pounced eagerly on this. "Who knows," I thought, "perhaps I may worm out of him some interesting story of magic, hidden treasures, or werewolves."
"Have you got any witches here in Polesye?" I asked..." This is how the main hero started getting involved in the world of witchcraft and... love. Yarmola then tells the master the tale that there was a witch but "the lads drove her away" to the forests, burning her house "so that not a chip would be left of her accursed nest".
Here we can see that the attitude towards witches is completely negative, moreover, the witch is blamed in whatever bad happens in the village. Thus the witch was driven away because she was believed to do loads of harm like casting spells, plait the stalks in the sheaves...and of course to cause serious illness in the family and furthermore a death of one woman's child!
The curiosity of the master rises as he gets to know that the witch is now living in the forest with her daughter or granddaughter. He intends to see her as soon as the days get warmer. Yarmola tells that the witch's name is Manuilikha...
I am going to cover the rest of the story in the next post, as this one gets too long to read at once. I am going to tell about the relations which tie up between the main hero and the witch's granddaughter...Do you think it's going to be as successful as the mystic venture of the Master and Margarita?
P.S. the citations are from the book "Olesya" translated from the Russian by Stepan Apresyan. The book is available here.