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    Leo Tolstoy

    24. Alyosha the Pot

    By Leo Tolstoy

    Alyosha was a younger brother. He was nicknamed “the Pot,” because once, when his mother sent him with a pot of milk for the deacon’s wife, he stumbled and broke it. His mother thrashed him soundly, and the children in the village began to tease him, calling him “the Pot.” Alyosha the Pot: and this is how he got his nickname.

    Alyosha was a skinny little fellow, lop-eared—his ears stuck out like wings—and with a large nose. The children always teased him about this, too, saying “Alyosha has a nose like a gourd on a pole!”

    There was a school in the village where Alyosha lived, but reading and writing and such did not come easy for him, and besides there was no time to learn. His older brother lived with a merchant in town, and Alyosha had begun helping his father when still a child. When he was only six years old, he was already watching over his family’s cow and sheep with his younger sister in the common pasture. And long before he was grown, he had started taking care of their horses day and night. From his twelfth year he plowed and carted. He hardly had the strength for all these chores, but he did have a certain manner—he was always cheerful. When the children laughed at him, he fell silent or laughed himself. If his father cursed him, he stood quietly and listened. And when they finished and ignored him again, he smiled and went back to whatever task was before him.

    When Alyosha was nineteen years old, his brother was taken into the army; and his father arranged for Alyosha to take his brother’s place as a servant in the merchant’s household. He was given his brother’s old boots and his father’s cap and coat and was taken into town. Alyosha was very pleased with his new clothes, but the merchant was quite dissatisfied with his appearance.

    “I thought you would bring me a young man just like Semyon,” said the merchant, looking Alyosha over carefully. “But you’ve brought me such a sniveler. What’s he good for?” . . . Read More.


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