Back to: Kerala Board Class 8th English Guide and Notes
Table of Contents
- Terenty: The cobbler
- Fyokla: a little girl and sister of Danilka
- Danilka: Brother of Fyokla
- Silanty Silitch: The sacristan
‘A day in the country’ is written by Chekhov. It pays homage to an unsung hero, a homeless cobbler whose name is Terenty. At the beginning of the story a beggar girl named Fyokla, who is 6 years old comes running through a village. The village is preparing for an approaching storm.
She addresses everyone as “uncle”. She is searching for a particular person. She finally finds Terenty in the kitchen garden. He is a “tall old man with a thin, pock-marked face, very long legs, and bare feet, dressed in a woman’s tattered jacket”. He does not look like a hero.
The storm was coming
This story is set in a Russian village, where the people live in huts. They work in the kitchen gardens, vegetable plots, and till the fields. There is a community barn, where they store corn. The two children Fyokla and Danilka are orphans and beggars. They live in a community barn. Danilka is an eight-year-old boy, with red hair and a pale sickly face whereas Terenty is a tall old man, with a thin pock-marked face, very long legs, and bare feet, dressed in a women’s jacket.
There was going to be a storm in the village. Big clouds cover the Sun, lightning flashes. As we all know, lightning occurs during a storm. It is usually followed by thunder. The wind blows heavily, bends the trees, and stirs up the dust. It was going to rain.
Danilka’s hand gets stuck
On the same day, the children, Fyokla and Danilka go to a nearby forest. They see Cuckoo’s eggs in the hole of a tree. When Fyokla asks for the eggs. Danilka puts his hand into the hole, to get the egg out of the hole for his sister. Unfortunately, his hand gets stuck in the hole and he can’t get it out.
Seeing that, Fyokla gets scared. She goes running into the village in search of Terenty, who could help the oy get his hand out of the tree. She asks everyone she meets about Terenty but no one seemed to be willing to answer They take no notice of her, as they are busy taking shelter from the approaching storm. At last, she meets Silanty Silitch, the sacristan, who is a friend of Terenty. He says that Terenty is in the kitchen- gardens.
Fyokla runs towards the kitchen gardens. She finds him standing near the vegetable plots. He looked drowsy and swayed in the wind like a songbird with a straight beak. The little girl grabs his coat and asks him to come along with her to help her brother out. When Terenty asks about what happened to her brother, she tells him how Danilka stuck his hand into a hole in a lime tree.
Terenty rushes to help Danilka
Terenty gets upset and rushes out to help the boy. He walks very fast. Fyokla can hardly keep up with him. The forest was about a mile and a half away. It was growing dark because of the big clouds in the sky.
They take the dusty road that leads off into the forest. When it starts raining the little girl gets scared. Terenty assures her, that it doesn’t harm a little kid like her. He tells her that trees are fed by the rain. The little girl was being taught to not be worried even if they get soaked in the rain. Because, soon after the clouds disappear, they shall be dry again just like the grass and earth.
While walking through the forest during a rainstorm, there is a big flash of lightning which is followed by thunder. It seems to Fyokla as if the lightning splitting the sky. This time, Fyokla is even more scared. Then Terenty Tries to pacify her by saying that it won’t hurt a little thing like her.
Terenty hurries down the road with long strides. His feet are covered with lumps of heavy, wet clay. It is slippery and difficult to walk. He stumbles over stumps which makes his pace slow. At last, they go into the count’s corpse. Fyokla points to Danilka, who stands leaning against a tree looking sideways at the sky.
The long way back home teaches a lot to the kids
Hearing footsteps and seeing the cobbler, Danilka gives a sickly smile. Terenty helps the boy by snapping off the broken piece of wood from the edge of the hole and pulling out his hand. Rubbing his red crushed hand, Danilka asks Terenty about what makes it thunder. Terenty also doesn’t mind answering his question. He says it happens when one cloud runs against the other. They came out of the corpse.
On their way back, they see a lot of things. Danilka tells him about the ducks, which flew by there the other day. He says, they must be nesting in the Gniliya Zaimishtcha marshes. Danilka asks Fyokla if she wants him to show her the nightingale’s nest. But, Terenty prevents them from touching the nest in order not to disturb the bird, who has had a voice given in his throat, to praise God and gladden the heart of man.
Gradually, the clouds disappear. They see a bright patch of blue in the sky. That means, now they can see the beauty in nature. They walk through the fields towards the river. Danilka points to the swarm of bees on a branch of a young Oaktree. Terenty tells them that a swarm of bees could be settled by water.
He teaches them that Bees hideout in the beehive when it rains hard. Because, if the raindrops are really big, they can break a bee’s wing. He tells them that when the bees are settled, they can even collect the whole swarm of bees by bending and shaking branches into a sack. Danilka looked at his sister’s neck and notices a big swelling on it. Terenty laughs, looking at Fyokla rubbing her neck vigorously. He tells her that a sting of a Spanish fly can cause swelling.
Now, there are no threatening clouds. The sun is shining brightly. They are walking through the fields. Terenty shows them the plants and flowers that spread the fragrance. He tells them of the herb, which is used to cure nose bleeding.
Terenty was a knowledgeable man
The children watch a train passing by their village. They ask Terenty, how could a train run without the help of horses. He says, that trains produce their pulling power through a steam engine. He explains, that trains are fuelled by burning materials like coal, and wood to produce steam. They cross the railway line and walk through the fields aimlessly. The children never stop asking doubts. Terenty loves the children, so he clarifies all the doubts of the children very patiently.
Terenty is a knowledgeable man. He knows the herbs cure diseases, looking at the sunset, at the moon, or the birds, he can tell what sort of weather it would be the next day. Terenty knows the names of all the wildflowers, animals, and stones. He knows everything and he is so wise. Not only Terenty, but all the villagers are also wise as Terenty is. Although they are not literate, they have learned all these things from their experiences with nature. Nature is their teacher.
It is the spring season. Being washed by the rain, the trees and fields are looking fresher and greener. The fields are so pleasant, full of fragrance. We all know, that being in nature reduces anxiety and stress and increases our attention. Enjoying the beauty of nature, the boy becomes more curious to learn many things from Terenty.
Terenty loves and cares about the children
The two of them, the cobbler and the boy walkabout fields talking unceasingly and tirelessly. They are engrossed in their talk of the beauty of the earth. They do not notice the weak little girl tripping after them. She was so tired that she couldn’t catch up with them. Towards midday, they take a walk along the river. They sit on the riverbank and eat the bread, Terenty says a prayer and falls asleep on the riverbank. But the boy does not sleep. He thinks about everything he has seen. The storms, the bees, the ants, the train, fishes in the river. He thinks about their appearance, size, how they move, what they eat, etc.
They wander in the fields all day, till it gets dark, Fyokla and Danilka enjoy spending time with nature and learning many things from Terenty. Thus, they spend “A Day in the Country”. They return to the village by late evening. Terenty leaving the barn goes back to the tavern. The children lie down on the straw. Fyokla falls asleep quickly because she gets so tired. The boy does not sleep as he can’t help but think about what he had seen in the day. Danilka was excited and exhausted after long hours of thinking.
He didn’t know why he was thinking so deeply. Fyokla was too young to explain what was happening to him so he asks Terenty. Terenty comes back after the children fall asleep, He puts the bread under their heads and prays for them. It shows how much love he has for the children. Though they are not his children, he is so fond of them. He always does the best for children. His love for the children was unconditional, just like the nature of mankind.
This lesson is about two children and a cobbler named Terenty who teaches them valuable lessons about nature. No matter, how much ever we know about nature, still there is so much scope for us to learn about nature. Because nature is more than just a place we can visit during our holidays or weekends. Nature is the art of God.