It was one more day until Dmytro would return home, but there was no food left in the
Verbitsky house and Khrystina and the children had not eaten for three days. They had eaten the
last potato on Wednesday. Despite the small ration Khrystina fed the children every day, she
couldn't manage to stretch the food thin enough. She saw their hungry eyes and boiled an extra
potato for them. After they ate all the food stored in the house, they drank a lot of water but it
did not diminish the hunger. It just burned in their empty stomachs, as if they were full of hot
The children were weak from malnutrition. They did not play; they only spoke in feeble
voices about the food Khrystina had served before the famine, especially on Christmas and on
Even though Khrystina heated the house once a day, the children felt cold and lay in bed
dressed in warm clothes. Finally, they stopped asking for food and only complained about the
pain in their stomachs. Their cries split Khrystina's heart. When Ganna threw up a greenish,
viscous looking liquid, Khrystina could not wait any longer. For the first time in her life, she had
to go into the village and beg for food. She was heart-broken. She dressed in the only clothes
that she had left, the ones she used to work in the barn. She put her felt boots and galoshes on
her bare feet, took the baby, and went out into the street.
The day was cold and windy. The gale blew piles of snow in the yard and in the street.
She walked along the quiet, empty street as snow crunched under her feet. All the dogs and cats
had disappeared from the yards as well as their own dog, Tobik, and cat, Murka. The children
missed them very much. They had called to them every day but they did not come home.
Probably someone had caught the animals and had eaten them.
The love between Dmytro, an impoverished aristocrat turned farmer, and Khrystina,
daughter of a wealthy landowner, carries their family through the horrors of the twentieth century
that befell the Ukraine.
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