“Greetings, oh great Master!” the Seeker started yelling. “I have heard a lot about your wisdom and knowledge and truly desire to become one of your devoted Disciples!”

“And won't your heart jump straight out of your chest, should I accept the offer?” the Master squinted his right eye and looked fixedly at unexpectedly found neophyte while continuing to nibble sunflower seeds. “For, you know, I have no desire to stand responsible before Gorzdrav for your breathless corpse, you see? After all, I am already on a note, for my own health is not the one it used to be in youth.”

“I would surely jump out of my trousers from the joy if you take me with yourself!” assured him the Seeker.

“It's a bad karma to jump like that. After all, we are not Europe here, see? Different spiritual climate, so to speak. And who was that wise man who advised you to visit me, especially so early in the morning, aye?” murmured Master while scratching his own back.

“Destiny itself has brought me to you by tracks rarely-walked and ways inconceivable!” ardently exclaimed Seeker.

“Probably, ye found the announcement in the newspaper, aye?” Master coughed, having choked with his next sunflower seed.

“In newspaper used in the toilet for the paper!” Seeker started chattering. “I have understood finally that throw away my life aimlessly in the trash can, like an ultimate fool, I do!”

“Well, you are not the very first, and surely not the last!” Master laughed in reply. “The last little fool here in our village was Vasily.”

“I finally desired to comprehend the meaning of my life, my mission, my path!” Seeker continued to chatter a tongue twister.

“Well, if you are such nimble, we can join our ways,” answered Master. “Can you chop firewood, for instance?”

“I will gladly learn this lesson!” ardently confirmed Seeker. “Just make me your Disciple!”

“All right, all right, have it your way!” Master coughed another time and spat out next sunflower seed on a grass. “Grab that ax over there and go with me. I myself is too old already for deeds like that, need a fresh blood to make things shine.”


“How are you holding your ax, silly one!” Master shouted and struck Disciple's head with a crutch. “What's the reason to hold it with one hand? Hold it with both hands when dealing a blow!”

“Like that, we should cut strenuously through burdens of our life?” Seeker looked hopefully at Master, brushing away sweat from his forehead.

“What sort of burden is that?!” Master looked shocked. “You were simply asked to chop firewood, nothing more and nothing less. What, have you eaten too much henbane to make daily routine tasks look like a feat?”

“I have consumed too much of Internet, Master!” bitterly exclaimed Disciple. “I have eaten it too much and become satiated! I spammed through forums, trolled poor children, scribbled disgusting articles in newspapers, I did!”

“Sins of yours are heavy!” Master has thrown up his hands. “And what are trolls, exactly?” he decided to specify just in case.

“Ones such as we are, Master,” sighed Disciple. “Shivering creatures.”

“Oh, you haven't tasted our frosts yet, dear!” Master laughed. “Not to worry, we shall cure you of this civilized nonsense, only give us some time.”

“Many thanks to you, Master!” cried Disciple. “Just tell me what should I do now, I am ready for everything!”

“Keep on chopping firewood, stupid city-dweller!” Master yelled and once again laid a precise blow with a crutch upon Disciple's head.


“Very well,” Master noticed with satisfaction, climbing upwards. “Stove is good, it gives warmth. And warmth is priceless nowadays.”

“Hearts of men have grown indifferent and cold to burdens of their earth brothers…” Disciple nodded knowingly in response.

“Goof!” replied Master and threw a felt boot from his leg into Disciple. “Firewood is cheaper, and oil radiator would cost me a fortune for sure. And my pension, I'll make you know that isn't a fortune at all, and it's without a premium. They didn't even give me a veteran of works status, nasty ones!” Master grumbled disappointedly, settling on a stove.

“Master!” frowned Disciple. “Master…”

“Zzzzzzzz…” noise came to his ears from stove's location.

“Master!” Disciple cried beggarly. “Master, I look forward to hearing from you!”

“Yes, what-what-what?!” opened his eyes almost fallen asleep from warmth Master, having stared at his Disciple. “Why have you once again disturbed me when I was regaining my strength, aye?” he said and threw a second felt boot in Disciple.

“Master, we have been engaged in some nonsense for several months already – we were dragging waters from a well, collecting grass in stacks, catching fish in a river, cooking a fish soup. When will we finally start doing something important and great, something that matters? My spirit has grown tired waiting for future achievements!”

“Does it look like insignificant to you? The fish soup we used to cook turned out to be great, by the way. Especially when made from carps and catfishes, – delicious! For a long time, I haven't tested such a meal without you.”

“Are you scoffing, Master?!” Disciple cried bitterly. “What kind of significance is that?”

“Your empty head!” Master sighed. “It surely doesn't want to put a meaning in things you are doing. For if you put sense in your deeds – you would love it, and if you loved it – you would do so with joy, and if you did them with joy – you would be happy, and if you were happy – you would share that happiness with others around you. And what kind of fish soup they would be able to cook then? Divine!”

“Easy for you to say!” Disciple took offense. “You keep lying in warmth while I have to freeze each day down here on this wooden bed. I would certainly like to be in your shoes!”

“Are you sure you want that?” Master blinked his eyes. “No problem, climb over here! And I will luxuriate in your place, for I get used to enjoying the place I live in no matter where I am.”

“Shit… how do I… where is… damn it… master! There is no free place here at all!” started complaining Disciple, has once again hit his head against a brick of the stove.

“It's you for whom there is no place over there, for you have your own place in life, simpleton!” with these words Master threw back his felt boot onto the stove. “Catch boot!”

“Why do you give me your footwear, Master?” Disciple looked at him with confusion. “Come back to your stove and I shall climb down to wooden bed.”

“Not so fast!” laughed Master. “Quickly put on felt boots and sheepskin coat, you shall go to a post office now. The lesson of humility and patience awaits ye.”


“Back so soon?” Master smiled, seeing as covered with hoarfrost Disciple has hardly rolled over a threshold and has wearily fallen to his bed even without putting off felt boots. “Well, how are my boots to you, don't they put too much pressure on you?”

“Hard is the journey in sandals of yours…” Disciple murmured wearily with hardly obeying lips.

“Well,” Master sighed with satisfaction, moving on a stove. “Russian Post, village… Should I explain it further, or will you manage to comprehend it itself, spineless troll? And I, by the way, went there every month to collect my pension. But I do see now that you can replace me in this battle.”

“Who the heck advised you to settle in such boondocks, Master!” grumbled Disciple. “God only knows how long I have been traveling to you through woods with no direct direction in order to find you!”

“By beloved dolt!” Master lifted his hands. “Who has told you the false fact that it was obligatory to crawl through woods for several days in order to find me – your own ego, or some kind of Buddhist? You, I gather, haven't even heard of such a thing as public transport even once in your life? Bus number sixty second goes to our bus stop every day, and it takes only ten minutes to get to me from there.”

“Wisdom of your speeches escapes the vision of my spirit…” Disciple murmured wearily, falling asleep.

“You have to find right stops in your life's journey, simpleton!” Master laughed in full voice.


“Master, why do we need all this at all, what's the point?” Disciple carefully touched Master's shoulder.

“We need to catch it first at this point, and you keep disturbing me from setting a drag-net on foxes right now!” and Master straightened out him. “Silence!”

“Aye, aye, sir!” replied Disciple. “I will be silent as a great Buddha, beholding the world.”

“No way, I don't demand these self-tortures from you here!” Master hushed on him. “I can't cease communication for such a long time myself, and won't advise you to do so either. We only need to set a couple of traps here – and then we go back to the stove.”

“It's important for men not to fall down into self-made pits or traps by bringing evils to our neighbors…” efficiently confirmed Disciple.

“Oh, my! When will you cease philosophizing for an instance, aye? Your ego is still wagging a tail just like a fox!”

“I have gathered wisdom during this year, including one from you, my Master!” Disciple assured him. “Now I feel myself stronger.”

“Tell this to forty-degree frost tomorrow when checking drag-nets,” said Master spitting on a snow.


“Master…” a familiar call ringed in the air once again, as always.

“I am not the master for you already! I am Egorych, Stepan Egorych!” said grandfather, wearily sitting down on the stock of wood. “I have been repeating you this for several years already, troll's head, and you are still crying ‘master!’ and ‘master!’”

“But in that old newspaper announcement you called yourself as ‘master’,” objected fairly overgrown during the last five years Disciple.

“I am a plumber, you dumb! They always name us that way. And I was looking for a disciple-assistant to repair pipes in our village, for they have been completely worn out during a Soviet period and may burst to pour at any moment, – and no masters will be able to help us if that shit happens.”

“It turns out that…” Disciple fatefully sat down on the ground, being shocked by what he has just heard, “you are not my Master?”

“Well, why not? If destiny itself has brought you to my doors – this means you belong here. After all, we have greatly uplifted and advanced our housekeeping for the last five years, so it might be a good time for you to go into the hands of Avdotya Mikhaylovna, – her pipe under a bathtub started leaking quite a while ago… and she needs someone to help get her pension from Russian Post office either way.”

“It means… everything was in vain… all meaning of life is thrown in a pipe…” stunned Disciple was barely whispering with disobeying lips.

“And maybe that purpose of your particular life which you have been seeking, – is exactly to laid a helping hand to Avdotya Mikhaylovna, aye?” and Master blinked his eye, smiling.


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Short Story
writing prokhor_ozornin
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