... It was a clear frosty afternoon.
With an ax in his belt, in a sheepskin coat and a hat pulled down to the very eyebrows, Mitrich was returning from the forest, dragging a Christmas tree on his shoulder. And the tree, and mittens, and felt boots were covered with snow, and Mitrich's beard was frosty and his mustache was frozen, but he himself walked with an even, soldier's step, waving his free hand like a soldier. He was having fun, although he was tired.
In the morning he went to the city to buy sweets for the children, and for himself - vodka and sausages, to which he was a passionate hunter, but he rarely bought it and ate only on holidays.
Without telling his wife, Mitrich brought the tree straight to the barn and sharpened the end with an ax; then he adjusted her to stand, and when everything was ready, he dragged her to the children.
- Well, the audience, now at attention! - he said, setting up the tree. - Here's a little thaw, then help!
The children looked and did not understand what Mitrich was doing, and he adjusted everything and said:
- What? Is it cramped? .. I suppose you think, the audience, that Mitrich has gone mad, huh? Why, they say, makes it cramped? .. Well, well, the audience, don't be angry! It will not be cramped! ..
When the tree warmed up, the room smelled fresh and resinous. Children's faces, sad and pensive, suddenly cheered up ... No one yet understood what the old man was doing, but everyone already sensed pleasure, and Mitrich glanced merrily at the eyes fixed on him from all sides. Then he brought in stubs and began tying them with threads.
- Well, you, gentleman! - he turned to the boy, standing on a stool. - Give me a candle here ... That's it! Give me, and I'll tie.
- And I! And I! - voices were heard.
- Well, you, - agreed Mitrich. - One hold the candles, the other the threads, the third give one, the fourth another ...
And you, Marfusha, look at us, and you all look ... Here we are, which means that we will all be in business. Right?
In addition to candles, eight candies were hung on the tree, hooked to the lower knots. However, looking at them, Mitrich shook his head and thought aloud:
- But ... liquid, audience?
He stood silently in front of the tree, sighed and said again:
- Liquid, brothers!
But, no matter how much Mitrich was fond of his idea, he could not hang anything on the tree, except for eight sweets.
- Hm! - he reasoned, wandering around the yard. - What would you think of it? ..
Suddenly he had such a thought that he even stopped.
- And what? he said to himself. - Will it be right or not? ..
Having lit a pipe, Mitrich again asked himself the question: right or wrong? .. It seemed like "right" ...
- They are small children ... they do not understand anything, - reasoned the old man. - Well, therefore, we will amuse them ...
And what about yourself? I suppose we want to have some fun ourselves?
And without hesitation, Mitrich made up his mind. Although he was very fond of sausage and treasured every piece, the desire to treat it to glory overpowered all his considerations.
- Okay! .. I will cut off a circle for each and hang it on a string. And I will cut the loaf piece by piece, and also for the Christmas tree.
And I’ll hang a bottle for myself! .. And I’ll pour myself, and I’ll treat the woman, and the orphans will have a treat! Ah yes Mitrich! the old man exclaimed cheerfully, slapping his thighs with both hands. - Oh yes entertainer!
As soon as it got dark, the tree was lit. It smelled like melted wax, pitch and greens. Always gloomy and pensive, the children shouted joyfully, looking at the lights. Their eyes brightened, their faces flushed, and when Mitrich ordered them to dance around the tree, they, clutching hands, galloped and made a noise. Laughter, shouts and talk revived for the first time this gloomy room, where from year to year only complaints and tears were heard. Even Agrafena threw up her hands in surprise, and Mitrich, rejoicing from the bottom of her heart, clapped her hands and shouted:
- That's right, the audience! .. That's right!
Admiring the tree, he smiled and, propping his sides with his hands, looked first at the pieces of bread hanging by strings, then at the children, then at the mugs of sausage, and finally commanded:
- The audience! Come in line!
Taking off a piece of bread and sausage from the tree, Mitrich dressed all the children, then took off the bottle and drank a glass with Agrafena.
- What, woman, am I? he asked, pointing to the children. - Look, the orphans are chewing! Chew! Look, woman! Rejoice!
Then he again took the harmonica and, forgetting his old age, began to dance with the children, playing and singing along:
Good, hundred, good!
The children jumped, squealed and whirled merrily, and Mitrich kept up with them. His soul was filled with such joy that he did not remember if there had ever been such a holiday in his life.
- The audience! he finally exclaimed. - The candles are burning out ... Take a piece of candy for yourself, and it's time to sleep!
The children shouted joyfully and rushed to the tree, and Mitrich, almost to the point of tears, whispered to Agrafena:
- Well, baba! .. Straightly you can say right! ..
This was the only bright holiday in the life of the migrant "God's children".
None of them will forget Mitrich's Christmas tree!