The Project Gutenberg EBook of The First Distiller, by Leo Tolstoy

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: The First Distiller

Author: Leo Tolstoy

Translator: Louise Maude
            Aylmer Maude

Release Date: September 20, 2008 [EBook #26662]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Bryan Ness, Jana Srna and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at

Transcriber's Note:

This e-book belongs to Tolstoy's Plays (Complete Edition). The front matter, including the table of contents, can be found in a separate e-book; it links to the other plays in the collection.

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible; changes (corrections of punctuation) made to the original text are marked like this. The original text appears when hovering the cursor over the marked text.























PEASANT [ploughing. Looks up] It's noon. Time to unharness. Gee up, get along! Fagged out? Poor old beast! One more turn and back again, that will be the last furrow, and then dinner. It was a good idea to bring that chunk of bread with me. I'll not go home, but sit down by the well and have a bite and a rest, and Peggy can graze awhile. Then, with God's help, to work again, and the ploughing will be done in good time.

Enter Imp; hides behind a bush.

IMP. See what a good fellow he is! Keeps calling on God. Wait a bit, friend,—you'll be calling on the Devil before long! I'll just take away his chunk. He'll miss it before long, and will begin to hunt for it. He'll be hungry, and then he'll swear and call on the Devil.

Takes the chunk of bread and sits down behind the bush watching to see what the Peasant will do.

PEASANT [unharnesses the horse] With God's blessing! [Lets the horse loose, and goes towards the place where his coat is lying] I'm awfully hungry. The wife cut a big chunk, but see if I don't eat it all. [Coming up to the coat] Gone! I must have put it under the coat. [Lifting the coat] No, it's not here either! What has happened? [Shakes the coat].

100 IMP [behind the bush] Go on, go on, search away! I've got it safe!

PEASANT [moves the plough and shakes his coat again] This is strange! Very strange! No one was here, yet the chunk is gone! If the birds had been at it there would be some crumbs left, but there's not a single crumb! No one has been here, and yet some one has taken it!

IMP [rises and looks out] Now he'll call on the Devil.

PEASANT. Well, it seems there's no help for it! Never mind, I shan't starve to death. If some one has taken it, he's taken it; let him eat it, and may it do him good.

IMP [spits] Oh, the damned peasant! Instead of swearing properly, he only says, “May it do him good.” What can one do with such a fellow?

Peasant lies down to rest, makes the sign of the cross, yawns, and falls asleep.

IMP [comes out from behind the bush] It's all very well for the boss to talk. The boss keeps on saying, “You don't bring enough peasants to Hell! See what a lot of tradesmen, gentlefolk, and all sorts of people flock in every day, and how few peasants!” Now, how's one to get round this one? There's no way of getting hold of him. Haven't I stolen his last crust? What can I do better than that? And yet he didn't swear. I'm at my wits' end what to do! Well, I must go and report!

Disappears into the ground.





Hell. The Chief of the Devils sits in the highest place. The Devil's Secretary sits lower down, at a table with writing materials. Sentinels stand at each side. To the right are five Imps of different kinds. To the left, by the door, the Doorkeeper. A dandified Imp stands before the Chief.

THE DANDY IMP. The whole of my booty for the three years has been 220,005 men. They're all in my power now.

THE CHIEF. All right. Thank you. Pass on.

The Dandy Imp goes to the right.

THE CHIEF [to the Secretary] I'm tired! Is there much business left? Whose reports have we had, and whose are still to come?

THE SECRETARY [counts on his fingers and, as he counts, points to the Imps to the right. When he mentions any Imp, the one referred to bows] We've had the Gentlefolks' Devil's report. He's captured 1836 in all. And the Tradesmen's Devil's with 9643. From the Lawyers', 3423. The Women's we've also just had: 186,315 married women, and 17,438 maids. Only two Devils are left, the Officials' and the Peasants'. There are altogether 220,005 souls on the list.

CHIEF. Well then, we'd better finish it all to-day. [To the Doorkeeper] Let them in!

The Officials' Devil enters, and bows to the Chief.

CHIEF. Well, how have you got on?

OFFICIALS' IMP [laughing, and rubbing his hands] My affairs are all right, just as soot they are white! The booty is 102such that I don't remember anything like it since the creation of the world.

CHIEF. What, have you captured a great many?

OFFICIALS' IMP. It's not so much the quantity. Only 1350 men in all, but such splendid fellows! Such fellows, they might shame any Devil! They can embroil people better than we ourselves can. I've introduced a new fashion among them.

CHIEF. What's that new fashion?

OFFICIALS' IMP. Why, in former times lawyers were in attendance on the judges and deceived people. Now, I've arranged for them to do business also apart from the judges. Whoever pays most, is the one to whose business they attend. And they'll take such trouble over it that they'll make out a case where there is none! They and the officials between them embroil people far better than we Devils can.

CHIEF. All right. I'll have a look at them. You may pass on.

The Officials' Imp goes to the right.

CHIEF [to Doorkeeper] Let in the last one.

Enter the Peasants' Imp with the chunk of bread. He bows to the ground.

PEASANTS' IMP. I can't live like this any longer! Give me another appointment!

CHIEF. What appointment? What are you jabbering about? Get up and talk sense. Give in your report! How many peasants have you captured this week?

PEASANTS' IMP [crying] Not one!

CHIEF. What? Not one! What do you mean? What have you been doing? Where have you been loafing?

PEASANTS' IMP [whimpering] I've not been loafing; I've been straining every nerve all the time, but I can't do anything! There now, I went and took his last crust from under the very nose of one of them, and, instead of swearing, he wished it might do me good!

103 CHIEF. What?… What?… What are you mumbling there? Just blow your nose, and then speak sensibly! One can't make head or tail of what you're saying.

PEASANTS' IMP. Why, there was a peasant ploughing; and I knew he had brought only a chunk of bread with him, and had nothing else to eat. I stole his crust. By rights he should have sworn; but what does he do? He says, “Let him who has taken it eat it, and may it do him good!” I've brought the chunk of bread away with me. Here it is!

CHIEF. Well, and what of the others?

PEASANTS' IMP. They're all alike. I could not manage to take a single one.

CHIEF. How dare you appear before me with empty hands? And as if that were not enough, you must needs bring some stinking crust or other here! Do you mean to mock me? Do you mean to live in Hell and eat the bread of idleness? The others do their best, and work hard! Why, they [points to the Imps] have each supplied 10,000 or 20,000, or even 200,000. And you come with empty hands, and bring a miserable crust, and begin spinning your yarns. You chatter, but don't work; and that's why you've lost hold of them. But wait a bit, my friend, I'll teach you a thing or two!

PEASANTS' IMP. Before you punish me, listen to what I'll tell you. It's all very well for those other Devils, who have to do with gentlefolk, with merchants, or with women. It's all plain sailing for them! Show a nobleman a coronet, or a fine estate, and you've got him, and may lead him where you like. It's the same with a tradesman. Show him some money and stir up his covetousness, and you may lead him as with a halter. And with the women it's also plain sailing. Give them finery and sweets—and you may do what you like with them. But as to the peasants—there's a long row to hoe with them! When he's at work from morn till night—sometimes even far 104into the night—and never starts without a thought of God, how's one to get at him? Master, remove me from these peasants! I'm tired to death of them, and have angered you into the bargain!

CHIEF. You're humbugging, you idler! It's no use your talking about the others. They've got hold of the merchants, the nobles, and the women, because they knew how to treat them, and invented new traps for them! The official one there—he has made quite a new departure. You must think of something too! You've stolen a crust, and brag about it! What a clever thing to do! Surround them with snares, and they'll get caught in one or other of them. But loafing about as you do, and leaving the way open for them, those peasants of yours have gained strength. They begin not to care about their last crust. If they take to such ways, and teach their women the same, they'll get quite beyond us! Invent something! Get out of the hole as best you can.

PEASANTS' IMP. I can't think how to set about it. Let me off! I can stand it no longer!

CHIEF [angrily] Can't stand it! What do you think, then? Am I to do your work for you?


CHIEF. Can't? Wait a bit! Hollo, there! bring the switches; give him a thrashing.

The Sentinels seize the Imp and whip him.


CHIEF. Have you thought of something?

PEASANTS' IMP. Oh, oh, I can't!

CHIEF. Give him some more. [They whip] Well—thought of something?

PEASANTS' IMP. Yes—yes, I have!

CHIEF. Well, tell us what it is.

PEASANTS' IMP. I've invented a dodge that will bring them all into my grasp, if you'll only let me take a 105labourer's place with that peasant. But I can't explain what it is beforehand.

CHIEF. All right. Only remember, that if you don't atone for that crust within three years, I'll flay you alive!

PEASANTS' IMP. They'll all be mine in three years' time.

CHIEF. All right. When the three years are past, I shall come and see for myself!





A barn. Carts loaded with grain. The Imp as a Labourer. He is shovelling grain off the cart, and the Peasant is carrying it away in a measure.


PEASANT. How many quarters?

LABOURER [looks at the numbers marked on the barn door] Twenty-six quarters. And this is the seventh bushel of the twenty-seventh quarter.

PEASANT. It won't all go in; the barn is nearly full!

LABOURER. Shovel it nice and even.

PEASANT. So I will.

Exit with measure.

LABOURER [alone, takes off his cap, his horns appear] It will be some time before he returns. I'll ease my horns a bit. [Horns rise] And I'll take my boots off too; I can't do it when he's here. [Takes his boots off, his hoofs appear. Sits on the threshold] It's the third year now. It's near the time of reckoning. There's more corn than there's room for. Only one more thing left to teach him, and then let the Chief come and see for himself. I'll have something worth showing him! He'll forgive me for that crust!

Neighbour approaches. Labourer hides his horns and hoofs.

NEIGHBOUR. Good day to you.

LABOURER. The same to you.

NEIGHBOUR. Where's your master?

LABOURER. He's gone to spread the grain more even; it won't all go in.

NEIGHBOUR. Dear me, what a run of luck your master is 107having! More than he has room for? We're all amazed at the harvests your master has had these two years. It's as if some one had told him what was coming. Last year was a dry season, and he had sown in the bog. Others had no harvest, but your threshing ground was covered with sheaves! This year we've a rainy summer, and he's been sharp enough to sow on the hill. Everybody's corn has rotted, but you have a splendid harvest. What grain! Ah, what grain!

Takes some grain, weighs it in his hand, and chews it.

PEASANT [enters with empty measure] How d'ye do, neighbour?

NEIGHBOUR. Good day. I was saying to your man here, how well you managed to guess where to sow your corn. Every one envies you. What heaps, what heaps of corn you have got! You'll not eat it all in ten years.

PEASANT. It's all thanks to Nicholas here. [Points to Labourer] It was his luck. Last year I sent him to plough, and what did he do but plough in the bog. I gave him a scolding, but he persuaded me to sow there. And so I did, and it turned out all for the best! And this year he again guessed right, and sowed on the hill!

NEIGHBOUR. It's as if he knew what kind of season it would be. Yes, you have got corn enough and no mistake! [Silence] And I have come to ask you to lend me a sack of rye. Ours is all used up. I'll return it next year.

PEASANT. All right, you may have it.

LABOURER [nudging the Peasant] Don't give it!

PEASANT. No more words about it. Take it.

NEIGHBOUR. Thank you. I'll just run and fetch a sack.

LABOURER [aside] He keeps to his old ways … still goes on giving. He doesn't always obey me. But just wait a bit. He'll soon stop giving away.

Exit Neighbour.

PEASANT [sitting down on the threshold] Why should one not give to a good man?

108 LABOURER. Giving is one thing, getting back another! You know—

“It's a good world to lend in, a good world to spend in,
But to get back one's own, it's the worst world that's known.”

That's what the old folk say.

PEASANT. Don't worry. We've plenty of corn.

LABOURER. Well, what of that?

PEASANT. We've enough, not only till next harvest but for two years ahead. What are we to do with it all?

LABOURER. What are we to do with it? I could make such stuff of this corn as would make you rejoice all the days of your life.

PEASANT. Why, what would you make of it?

LABOURER. A kind of drink. Drink, that would give you strength when you are weak, satisfy you when you are hungry, give you sleep when you are restless, make you merry when you're sad, give you courage when you're afraid. That's the drink I'd make!

PEASANT. Rubbish!

LABOURER. Rubbish indeed! It was just the same when I told you to sow in the bog, and then on the hill. You did not believe me then, but now you know! You'll find out about the drink the same way.

PEASANT. But what will you make it of?

LABOURER. Why, of this same corn.

PEASANT. But won't that be a sin?

LABOURER. Just hear him! Why should it be a sin? Everything is given for a joy to man.

PEASANT. And where did you get all your wisdom from, Nick? You seem a very ordinary man to look at, and hard-working too. Why, I don't remember you so much as ever taking your boots off all these two years you've been with me. And yet you seem to know everything. Where did you learn it?

LABOURER. I've been about a good deal!

109 PEASANT. And so you say this drink will give one strength?

LABOURER. Just wait till you try it and see the good that comes of it.

PEASANT. And how are we to make it?

LABOURER. It's not hard to make when you know how! Only we shall want a copper and a couple of iron vessels.

PEASANT. And does it taste nice?

LABOURER. As sweet as honey. When once you've tasted it you'll never give it up.

PEASANT. Is that so? Well, I'll go to the neighbour's; he used to have a copper. We'll have a try!





A barn. In the middle a closed copper on the fire, with another vessel, under which is a tap.

LABOURER [holds a tumbler under the tap and drinks the spirit] Well, master, it's ready now.

PEASANT [sitting on his heels and looking on] What a queer thing. Here's water coming out of the mixture. Why are you letting this water off first?

LABOURER. It's not water. It is the very stuff itself!

PEASANT. Why is it so clear? I thought it would be yellow like grain. This is just like water.

LABOURER. But you just smell it!

PEASANT. Ah, what a scent! Well, well, let's see what it's like in the mouth. Let me taste! [Tries to take the tumbler out of the Labourer's hand].

LABOURER. Mind, you'll spill it! [Turns the tap off, drinks and smacks his lips] It's ready! Here you are. Drink it!

PEASANT [drinks, first sipping, then taking more and more, till he empties the glass and gives it back] Now then, some more. One can't tell the taste from such a drop.

LABOURER [laughing] Well, you seem to like it! [Draws some more].

PEASANT [drinks] Eh, that's the sort! Let's call the missis. Hey, Martha! Come along! It's ready! Come on there!

Enter Wife and little girl.

WIFE. What's the matter? Why are you kicking up such a row?

111 PEASANT. You just taste what we've been distilling. [Hands her the glass] Smell! What does it smell of?

WIFE [smells] Dear me!


WIFE. But perhaps it may do one some harm?

PEASANT. Drink, fool!

WIFE. True. It is nice!

PEASANT [a little tipsy] Nice indeed! You wait and see what'll happen. Nick says it drives all weariness out of one's bones. The young grow old. I mean, the old grow young. There now, I've only had two glasses of it, and all my bones have got easy. [Swaggers] You see? Wait a bit, when you and I drink it every day we'll grow young again! Come, Martha! [Embraces her].

WIFE. Get along. Why, it's made you quite silly.

PEASANT. There, you see! You said Nick and I were wasting the corn, but just see what stuff we've concocted. Eh? It's good, ain't it?

WIFE. Of course, it's good if it makes the old young again. Just see how jolly it has made you! And I feel jolly too! Now then, join in! Ah … Ah … Ah … [Sings].

PEASANT. Yes, that's the way! We'll all be young, all young.

WIFE. We must call mother-in-law, for she's always sad and grumbling. She needs renewing. When she's younger she'll get kinder.

PEASANT [tipsy] Yes, call mother. Call her here, and grandfather too. I say, Mary, run and call your granny and great-grandfather. Tell him he must get down from the oven! We'll make him young again. Now then, quick! One, two, three, and away! Off like a shot! [Girl runs off. To Wife] We'll have another glass.

Labourer fills and hands the glasses.

PEASANT [drinks] At first we got young at the top, in the tongue; then it went down into the arms. Now it has 112reached the feet. I feel my feet getting younger. They're moving of themselves. [Starts dancing].

WIFE [drinks] You're a real clever 'un, Nick! Now then, strike up!

Labourer takes a balaláyka[1] and plays. Peasant and Wife dance.

LABOURER [plays in the foreground of the scene, laughing and winking as he watches them. Then he leaves off playing, but they still continue to dance] You'll pay for that crust! You've done it now, my fine fellows. They'll never get out of it. The Chief can come when he likes now!

Enter a fresh-looking elderly woman, and a very old white-haired man, the Peasant's Grandfather.

GRANDFATHER. What's the matter? Have you gone mad? Dancing while every one else is at work!

WIFE [dances and claps her hands] Oh—Oh—Oh— [Sings]

“That I'm sinning I will own,
Free from sin is God alone!”

OLD WOMAN. Oh, you wretch! The oven's not cleaned out yet, and here you are dancing!

PEASANT. Wait a bit, mother. See what has been happening here. We can make old people young again! Here you are! Just drink this! [Passes tumbler].

OLD WOMAN. There's plenty of water in the well. [Smells it] But what have you put in? My—what a smell!

PEASANT. You just drink it.

OLD WOMAN [tastes] Dear me! But won't one die of it?

WIFE. It will make you more alive. You'll grow young again!

OLD WOMAN. Nonsense! [Drinks] But it's nice! Better than our drinks. Here, father, have some too.

Grandfather sits down and shakes his head.

113 LABOURER. Never mind him. But granny must have another glass. [Hands some to the old woman].

OLD WOMAN. If only no harm comes of it. Oh dear, it does burn! But it is nice.

WIFE. Drink it! Then you'll feel it running through your veins.

OLD WOMAN. Well, I suppose I'll have to try. [Drinks].

WIFE. Has it reached your feet yet?

OLD WOMAN. True enough, it does run through you. I feel it here now! And it really makes one feel quite light. Come—give me some more. [Drinks again] Fine! Now I'm quite young again.

PEASANT. Didn't I tell you?

OLD WOMAN. Ah, it's a pity my old man is no longer here. He might have seen once more what I was like in my young days.

Labourer plays. Peasant and Wife dance.

OLD WOMAN [comes into the middle] Do you call that dancing? Let me show you. [Dances] That's the way! Then like this, and like that! Do you see?

Grandfather goes up to the vessel and lets the spirit run out on to the ground.

PEASANT [notices and rushes at his Grandfather] What are you up to, you old fool? Spilling such fine stuff! Oh, you old dotard! [Pushes him away and holds tumbler under tap] You've emptied it all!

GRANDFATHER. It's evil and not good! God has sent you a good harvest for you to feed yourself and others, but you have turned the corn into devils' drink. No good will come of it. Give up this business. Else you'll perish and ruin others! You think this is drink? It's fire, and will burn you up! [Takes a brand from the fire and lights the spilt spirit. The spirit burns. They all look on with horror].





Interior of hut. The Labourer alone, his horns and hoofs showing.

LABOURER. There's lots of corn. More than there's room for, and he's now got a taste for it. We've been distilling again, and we've filled a barrel and hidden it away. We're not going to treat any one for nothing, but when we want to get something out of a fellow, then we'll treat him! So to-day I told him to invite the village elders and treat them, that they should divide up the property between him and his grandfather, and give everything to him and nothing to the old man! My three years are up to-day, and my work is finished. Let the Chief come and see for himself. I needn't be ashamed of his seeing it!

Chief appears out of the ground.

CHIEF. Time's up! Have you redeemed your bread-blunder? I told you I'd come and see for myself. Have you managed the Peasant?

LABOURER. Done him completely! Judge for yourself. Some of them will meet here soon. Get into the oven, and see what they'll do. You'll be well satisfied!

CHIEF [climbs into the oven] We'll see!

Enter the Peasant and four old men. The Wife follows. The men sit down round the table. The Wife lays the cloth, sets ox-foot brawn and pies on the table. The old men exchange greetings with Labourer.

FIRST ELDER. Well, have you made more of the drink?

115 LABOURER. Yes, we've distilled as much as we need. Why let valuable stuff be wasted?

SECOND ELDER. And is it a success?

LABOURER. Better than the first lot.

SECOND ELDER. But where did you learn to make it?

LABOURER. Going about in the world one learns many things!

THIRD ELDER. Yes, yes, you're a knowing fellow.

Wife brings spirits and glasses.

PEASANT. Have a drop!

Wife takes a decanter and fills glasses.

WIFE. Do us the honour!

FIRST ELDER [drinks] Your health! Ah, that's good. It runs right through all one's joints. That's what I call proper drink!

The other three Elders do the same. Chief gets out of the oven. Labourer goes and stands by him.

LABOURER [to Chief] See what will happen now! I'll trip up the woman with my foot and she'll spill the liquor. Formerly he did not grudge his last crust, but now see what he'll do about a glass of spirits!

PEASANT. Now then, wife, fill again and hand it round in due order—first to our friend here, then to Daddy Michael.

Wife fills a glass and goes round the table. The Labourer trips her up; she stumbles and upsets the glass.

WIFE. Gracious goodness, I've spilt it! Why do you get in my way, confound you?

PEASANT [to Wife] There now, what a clumsy beast! Her fingers are all thumbs, and she goes swearing at others! See what fine stuff she goes spilling on the ground!

WIFE. I didn't do it on purpose.

PEASANT. On purpose indeed! Wait till I get up; I'll teach you how to pour spirits on the ground. [To Labourer] And you too, you confounded fool, what are you prancing round the table for? Go to the Devil!

116 Wife again fills and hands the glasses round.

LABOURER [goes back to the oven to the Chief] You see? Formerly he did not grudge his last crust, and now for a glass of spirits he nearly beat his wife and sent me to you—to the Devil!

CHIEF. It's good, very good! I'm satisfied.

LABOURER. You wait a bit. Let them empty the bottle—and you'll see what will happen. Even now they are giving each other smooth oily words; presently they'll start flattering each other,—as cunning as foxes.

PEASANT. Well, old friends, what's your opinion of my business? My grandfather has been living with me, and I have been feeding him and feeding him, and now he's gone to live with my uncle, and wants to take his share of the property and give it to uncle! Consider it well; you are wise men. We could as well do without our own heads as without you. There's no one in the whole village to come near you. Take you for example, Iván Fedótitch—doesn't every one say you're first among men? And as for me, I'll tell you the truth, Iván Fedótitch, I'm fonder of you than of my own father or mother. As for Michael Stepánitch, he's an old friend.

FIRST ELDER [to Peasant] It's good to talk with a good man. It's the way to get wisdom. It's just the same with you. One can't find any one to compare with you either.

SECOND ELDER. Wise and affectionate—that's what I like you for.

THIRD ELDER. You have my best sympathy. I can't find words to express it. I was saying to my old woman only to-day …

FOURTH ELDER. A friend, a real friend!

LABOURER [nudges the Chief] Do you hear? All lies! They abuse one another behind their backs, but see how thick they are laying it on now,—like foxes wagging their tails! And it all comes from that drink.

117 CHIEF. That drink is good, very good! If they take to lying like that, they'll all be ours. Very good; I'm satisfied!

LABOURER. Wait a bit. When they've finished a second bottle it will be better still!

WIFE [serves] Do have another glass.

FIRST ELDER. Won't it be too much? Your health! [Drinks] It's pleasant to drink in the company of a good man.

SECOND ELDER. How can one help drinking? Health to the host and hostess!

THIRD ELDER. Friends, your health!

FOURTH ELDER. This is a brew of the right sort! Let's be merry! We'll arrange things for you. 'Cos it all depends on me!

FIRST ELDER. On you? No, not on you, but on what your seniors say.

FOURTH ELDER. My seniors are greater fools. Go where you came from!

SECOND ELDER. What are you up to now? You fool!

THIRD ELDER. It's true what he's saying! 'Cos why? The host is not entertaining us for nothing. He means business. The business can be arranged. Only you must stand treat! Show us due respect. 'Cos it's you as wants me, and not I you! You're own brother to the pig!

PEASANT. And you're itself! What are you yelling for? Think to surprise me? You are all good at stuffing yourselves!

FIRST ELDER. What are you giving yourself airs for? See if I don't twist your nose to one side!

PEASANT. We'll see whose nose will get twisted!

SECOND ELDER. Think yourself such a marvel? Go to the Devil! I won't speak to you—I'll go away!

PEASANT [holds him] What, will you break up the company?

SECOND ELDER. Let me go, or I'll call for help!

118 PEASANT. I won't! What right have you to …?

SECOND ELDER. This right! [Beats him].

PEASANT [to the other Elders] Help me!

They fall on one another, and all speak at once.

FIRST ELDER. That's why. 'Cos it means we're all having a spree-ee!

SECOND ELDER. I can arrange everything!

THIRD ELDER. Let's have some more!

PEASANT [to Wife] Bring another bottle!

All sit round the table again and drink.

LABOURER [to Chief] Have you noticed? The wolf's blood in them was aroused, and they've turned as fierce as wolves.

CHIEF. The drink is good! I'm satisfied!

LABOURER. Wait a bit. Let them empty a third bottle. Things will be better still!





The scene represents a village street. To the right some old women are sitting on logs of wood with the Grandfather. In the centre, is a ring of women, girls, and lads. Dance music is played and they dance. Noise is heard from the hut, and drunken screams. An old man comes out and shouts in a tipsy voice. The Peasant follows him and leads him back.

GRANDFATHER. Ah, what doings! what doings! One would think, what more would any one want than to do his work on week days, and when Sunday comes round, to have a good wash, clean the harness, and rest a bit and sit with his family; or go outside and have a talk with the old folk about matters concerning the Commune. Or, if you're young, have a game. There they are playing,—and it's pleasant to look at them. It's all pleasant and good. [Screams inside the hut] But this sort of thing, what is it? It only leads men astray, and pleases the Devils. And it all comes of fat living!

Tipsy men come tumbling out of the hut, shout, and catch hold of the girls.

GIRLS. Leave off, Daddy Tom! What do you mean by it?

LADS. Let's go into the lane. It's impossible to play here.

Exeunt all who were playing in the ring.

PEASANT [goes up to Grandfather] What have you got now? The Elders will allot everything to me! [Snaps his fingers at him] That's what you'll get! So there you are! It's all mine and you've nothing! They'll tell you so themselves!

The four Elders speak all at once.

FIRST ELDER. 'Cos I know what's what!


“'Fore all I'll be heard,
'Cos I'm an old bird!”

THIRD ELDER. Friend! dear friend, dearest friend!


“Jog along hut, jog along bed,
The missis has nowhere to lay down her head!”

Now then, come along!

The Elders take each other's arms in couples and go off reeling, one couple following the other. The Peasant turns back to the hut, but stumbles before he reaches it,—falls down, and lies muttering incomprehensible words that sound like grunts. The Grandfather and those he was with, rise and exeunt.

Enter Labourer and Chief of Devils.

LABOURER. Did you see? Now the swine's blood has been roused in them, and from wolves they have turned into swine! [Points to Peasant] There he lies in the dirt and grunts like a hog!

CHIEF. You have succeeded! First like foxes, then like wolves, and now like swine! Well, that is a drink! But tell me, how did you make it? I suppose it's made of a mixture of foxes', wolves', and swine's blood?

LABOURER. Oh no! I only supplied him with too much corn! As long as he had only as much corn as he needed, he did not grudge his last crust, but when he had more than he knew what to do with, the fox's, the wolf's, and the swine's blood in him awoke. He always had beast's blood in him, only it could not get the upper hand.

CHIEF. Well, you're a fine fellow! You've atoned for your crust-blunder. Now they only need to drink spirits, and they're altogether ours!



[1] The balaláyka is an instrument (generally three-stringed) used by Russian peasants, and answering to the negroes' banjo.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The First Distiller, by Leo Tolstoy


***** This file should be named 26662-h.htm or *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:

Produced by Bryan Ness, Jana Srna and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at

Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark.  Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission.  If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy.  You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research.  They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.  Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial



To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at

Section 1.  General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A.  By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement.  If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B.  "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark.  It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement.  There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement.  See
paragraph 1.C below.  There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.  See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C.  The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works.  Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States.  If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed.  Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work.  You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D.  The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work.  Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change.  If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work.  The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United

1.E.  Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1.  The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

1.E.2.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges.  If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or

1.E.3.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder.  Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4.  Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5.  Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6.  You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form.  However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (,
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form.  Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7.  Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8.  You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided

- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
     the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
     you already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  The fee is
     owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
     has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
     Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  Royalty payments
     must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
     prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
     returns.  Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
     sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
     address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
     the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
     you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
     does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
     License.  You must require such a user to return or
     destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
     and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
     Project Gutenberg-tm works.

- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
     money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
     electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
     of receipt of the work.

- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
     distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9.  If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark.  Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.


1.F.1.  Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection.  Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal

defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from.  If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation.  The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund.  If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund.  If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4.  Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS' WITH NO OTHER

1.F.5.  Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law.  The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6.  INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.

Section  2.  Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers.  It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need, is critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come.  In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at

Section 3.  Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service.  The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541.  Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at  Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations.  Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email  Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at

For additional contact information:
     Dr. Gregory B. Newby
     Chief Executive and Director

Section 4.  Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment.  Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States.  Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements.  We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance.  To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States.  U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses.  Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including checks, online payments and credit card donations.
To donate, please visit:

Section 5.  General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic

Professor Michael S. Hart is the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone.  For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.