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– Stop! Pēterītis snaps. Everyone else’s sisters act normal,

and you’re the only idiot.

That’s what people said: Antonija – pretty and lazy. Toņa’s

heard it herself: That Toneite’s a gem, but daft, she’ll

believe anything you tell her. And what’s about her

obsession with death! She doesn’t want to give anything

back to the earth: not a run-over dog, not a sick hen, not

even a wilted flower. As soon as she sees something in

Death’s shadow, she hugs it to her chest, eyes brimming

with tears, crying: You can’t have it!

The horse stopped suddenly and wouldn’t move forward,

no matter what. Their stepfather tripped chest-first into the

plough’s handles, his ivory pipe tumbling from his lips. Her

brother tugged on the reins:

– Pull, stupid!

The animal breathed heavily into his face and didn’t budge

an inch.

Meanwhile, Ludvigs was feeling around for his pipe and

inspecting the till blade. It was lodged in the heel of a

leather boot.