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“What at night?” Rita’s mama feels some uneasiness. Such a

toad, but just look at her talk, and hasn’t it been said that

now and then from a child’s mouth God Himself chooses to

say something.

Dusya laughs.

“Shut up!” Rita’s mama exclaims.

Zatknis, dura gerevennaya –

shut up you stupid country

bumpkin!” Maya translates for Dusya.

Laura recognizes the power of cards over people. She

remembers how in front of Madalina people used to grow

silent. How the desire to know one’s future made people

shake and tremble as if in front of the greatest power. In

front of Madalina, whose legs had frozen off in the deadly

cold, the comrade wife of the


shivered in her

skunk fur coat. Buka’s fur coat, Laura’s grandmother,

which, as luck would have it, had been brought along from

Latvia and exchanged for a sack of peas.

Laura brings to the table and applies Madalina’s words and


“Cut the deck in half. Don’t whatever you do raise the cards

toward you! No!” Laura yells out in horrendous fright,

because Rita’s mama is ready to do precisely that. Rita’s