Fedko-brigand (Федько-халамидник англійською)

Володимир Винниченко

Авторський переклад відомого оповідання "Федько-халамидник" англійською мовою від нашої читачки Софії

This was the true brigand-deadbeat. Not a day went by without anyone complaining about Fedko: in one house a window was broken by an unsuccessful shot from a slingshot; one of Fedko's "bosom" friends was bruised; and a barrel full of rainwater that had been very troublesomely gathered was thrown over.

As if the devil himself had possessed the guy! All of the other kids had fun, skylarked, and blandly played together in peace. But Fedko seemed to be constantly seeking an opportunity to fight or turn something upside down. Calmness was his worst enemy with which he was fighting restlessly.

For example, such an occasion: children were sculpting sand lodges. In front of the house where Fedko lived there was an unpaved street in which horses always sank and struggled to walk. After rain, the sand became sticky and dabby — the best material for building lodges. One can dip a leg into this substance, put some sand on it, and take the leg out of the mash. A new lodge is now ready! Whoever would like to can also make a chimney for better sight. Near the lodge one can sculpt a fence and stick some stems of hay behind it to make a garden.

There is a lane between these self-made houses so that the children can make visits to one another.

Fedko is sculpting too. But suddenly he stands up and looks around attentively before wiping everything out — his own lodge and others too, while nickering loudly. If someone becomes angry or cries, he'll give them a good punch. There's no point in trying to fight with him because he's the strongest guy of all the kids in the whole street. He'll trip them, bend them, push them to the ground, and ask, "Well? Are you tired of living in the world? Speak immediately!" If they answer that they are, he spares them; but if they dare to disagree, he'll continue to beat them up further.

Another example: the guys are going to fly a kite in a huge field where there are no houses or shops. The wind in the field is extremely strong, so they are setting the kite free. Fedko is sitting on the fence near his house like Nightingale the Robber and watching the process. He loves climbing on roofs or sitting on the fence. The fence is high, and an additional annex is fixed on it, like a box. Fedko likes to sit in that box like a congressman.

"Let it go!" the guy who is holding the kite shouts.

The kite is blasting off like a bird in captivity willing freedom, but it's flight only lasts for a moment; at the next second it is falling and hitting the ground. Fedko feels chagrined: stupid boys, the tail is too short! But he doesn't say anything and remains silent. He has something else on his mind. The guys understand what's wrong and bind a rag to the tail.

After that, the kite is finally smoothly flying up into the sky. It's such a pleasant feeling to hold it! The wind is great; one only has to unwind the threads and make sure the knots are tied well. The kite seems to be flirting, shaking its head to one side and the other. If the ratchet is also bound, it will be such a great joy for the spirit! A trembling feeling rushes through you, as if all the day long you would just stay and hold it, looking up. The sky, blue and cold, seems to be so high, so far away.

The kite is niveous against its background. It's shaking, waging its tail as if it's swimming; as if it is stuffy and it's fanning itself. One can not only see, but barely hear the rumbling of the ratchet, as if Hrytsko or Styopka are somewhere high in the sky, pulling the thread, misbehaving and rumbling to make such a sound. The thread took a form of an arc. Eh, the hobble was made badly! If the hobble had been done well, the thread wouldn't have taken the form of an arc. Well, it's not that bad — unwind further. The thread is cutting the hand, but it is bearable.

As the kite is curling and twisting flying higher up into the sky, it becomes smaller and smaller. — Give me a telegram!

The telegram is launched. A white piece of paper is attached to the thread and pushed a bit higher along it. The wind picks it up and the telegram goes. It becomes stuck because of a knot and twirls, struggling to blast off: it may seem it should scream to the guys below, "I can't go!". But when the thread is pulled slightly, the wind picks it up again, allowing the white writ to sail in the sky. It's not far away from a kite; the telegram is now in such a place where even Havryk can't see the thread. Very soon, when it comes a bit closer, the kite will be able to read the telegram. But suddenly all of the guys hear a scream and shift their gaze from the kite to the ground. Fedko goes. Just goes and screams. He could steal up, but he didn't like that.

He's shouting from afar, "Hey, you there; give your kite to me!"

Fedko comes to take the kite away. His hands are in his pockets, and his cap is hanging sideways sloppily. He's slowly coming. He doesn't hurry. There's no way to escape — he runs like a redshank. The boys begin to wind the threads back, but how would it help?

"Give your kite to me!" Fedko comes closer.

Havryk curls his lips and hems. Styopka becomes pale, but he quickly tries to wind the threads back. Keeping an eye on Fedko, Spirka picks up a stone from the ground and shouts, "Eek, come here! Eek!"

But Fedko comes closer despite everything, not even taking his hands out of his pockets.

"Give your kite to me!"

Spirka stands in the way of Styopka and raises the stone higher, causing Fedko to take his hands out of his pockets. But Fedko isn't going to seek for any stone himself; he's just keeping an eye on Spirka's hand.

"So, will you give me your kite?"

"Do you think it's your kite?"

"As soon as I take it, it'll be mine."

"Gee! You, smug! I'll smash your head if you dare to come closer."

"Eek, try it! Beat me!" Fedko even puffs his chest out as if it's his only wish to be hit by a stone. His forelock sticks out from under his cap, and his gaze is slaphappy. Styopka winds back, and Styopka winds back in a hurry! The kite only rumbles somewhere in the navy blue sky, twitches and doesn't understand anything of what's happening below to cause its being pulled back so soon.

"Well, beat me! Eh, you! You're just afraid of me... Even though I'm without a stone and there are the three of you against me."

"Lyonka, Va-a-asko!" Spirka is screaming all of a sudden, — "Come here!... Fedko is taking the kite away!"

But Fedko is breaking away in a flash. He runs up to Spirka, trips him up and throws the boy to the ground; then he rises with a spring to Styopka, grabs the thread, and pulls it. The thread is cracking, and the kite is rumbling. Havryk cries and Fedko winds the thread on his hand, going home at an easy pace. He appears to be beaming with pride. Spirka and Styopka rush to him; their eyes light up, and they throw stones towards him, but Fedko easily dodges blows and jubilates.

"Brigand! Well, naff off our street!"

"Tramp! Bug!"

But Fedko continues to walk leisurely. The kite is already his. But sometimes he goes and does the unexpected. When the boys are far away from him and can't do anything to him, he suddenly comes back and gives the kite to its owners. He even brings his own threads and gives them to the guys.

"Take your kite back! Do you really think I need it? If I want to, I'll make it out of the whole sheet of paper. My dad will bring red paper from the printing house, I'll make it very well."

But that doesn't happen often. Things usually ends up with the boys running home and complaining; their mom or dad go to Fedko's mother and complain too. In the evening he'll be punished. But even in such a situation he doesn't behave like any other kid. He never cries, asks for forgiveness, or says that he won't ever do anything like that again. He frowns and sits silently. His mother scolds and threatens him — if only he would ever at least utter a word in response! He just sits and keeps silent. His dad comes home from work, tired and angry. His arms are grizzled because of the tin of the letters that he prints in the printing house. His thin and scrawny cheeks look as if they also are poured with tin; through the rare beard you can see skin.

"What? Again?" he asks, looking at Fedko. Fedko frowns even more and starts to poke the edge of the table with his finger. His mother tells everything.

"Is it the truth?" the father asked Fedko. Fedko keeps silent.

"Who am I talking to? Is it true what your mother says?"

"Yes," he replies quietly.

"Take off your trousers."

Fedko stands up silently, takes off his pants, and waits, lowering his head. The father takes off his belt, places Fedko on the chair, and starts flogging him. Fedko trembles all over, and his feet twitch. "Lie down!!" the father yells.

"What a damn child! Such a damn child!" the mother says, clapping her hands, "If he ever asked dad to forgive him, if he ever cried! Stone, not a kid! Some kind of a syberian, what else can I say..."

After beating the "syberian" up, the father takes two or three kopeks out of his pocket and gives them to him.

"That punishment was for your doings, and that's your regard because you always tell the truth."

Fedko wipes away the tears from his eyes, takes the money, and hides it in his pocket. He isn't angry for the punishment — he understands that he deserved it. But at the same time he takes the three kopeks because he really didn't lie. If he wanted to, he could get out and sklent, but Fedko hates to lie. Fedko also doesn't like to extradite comrades. The father praises him for that, but the mother is angry, all the same.

"Yeah-yeah, indulge him; give him money; do that. He'll keep roistering on purpose in order to tell the truth. A clever father teaches his son. Instead of giving it hot and strong for not turning in accomplices, he praises...

"That's nothing, my old one... You mustn't beat for everything. There are doings for which you have to be punished, also there are others for which you can be praised..."

"Yeah-yeah! Praise him, praise..."

But Fedko's worst trouncings occured because of Tolya.

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