It is a hard, immovable noon. Cloudless, clear sky. The sun is high, almost above the head. It shines so bright that it is unbearable to watch, the eyes are closing by themselves. Incandescent air burns even in the shadows, making difficult to draw breath. People fainted, they greedily catching a breath of wind to refresh a relaxed body.
There is only one salvation on such day - a yurt. Big white yurt. Tunduk and doors are wide open, the breeze is walking. It is possible to breathe only in yurts. Aul, recently migrated to Dzhaylyau, settled down by the river, in the tall grasses. There is the steppe from the river till faraway blue mountains. Motionless stems of steppe grasses are shining gold today.
Northern riverside is long yellow saddle. A lot of hills come here from the blue twisty mountains. And all of this together is the golden steppe, a narrow strip of the river in the green riversides, yellow hills and white aul, stretched to the sky blue-gray plumes of smoke, - everything complement each other. And that's the beauty of Dzhaylyau.
Khwaja Baibosyn’s aul has placed freely, aside from others. He captured the best place. Here is the river which is narrow everywhere but spreads outwards here, and grasses are rising above. Extensive pastures and meadows are around the aul, and – countless buysky herds on them.
Ten yurts are not pressing up one another. And four of them, big and white, are standing absolutely separately. One of them is yurt for bai itself, the other two are for sons, and the fourth is covered by the new felt matdecorated with ornaments, this is bride’s five-ropes yurt, daughter of the bai. Here will be celebration soon.
The others are small two or three-rope yurts. They are black and pitted, but not white. Workers and cattle-farmers live here.
In two hundred steps from the yurts is hitching post beaten into the ground. Now there are only foals. And the horses are at the river. Huddled together in a few herds and are cooling while standing in the water. And the animals are exhausted from the sun in this sultry noon. It is even worse to them than to people, because swarms of gadflies are pestering and constantly buzzing. And therefore these poor horses are standing up to their bellies in the water, slashing themselves by the tails on each side and distilling off annoying insects.
It’s really hard for the cows. Heat and cold are really harder to them. And the gadfly is the worst enemy. Cows are really becoming insane. Once they heard the monotonous hum, and here are they running pulled up their tails across the steppe to the aul.
Baibosyn’s aul today is unusually busy. The groom and Matchmaker came yesterday towards evening. Now people do not care about the heat. The spirits is lifted. Especially the girls’ spirit. Everyone feels obliged to come to the groom, to say hello. The noise and hubbub are rising, people are coming from neighboring auls. They also would like to welcome the groom.
There is so much fun near the white yurt, where the groom placed. Dressed up bai’s daughter and the neighbor girls running up there, and the popping up with a laugh and jokes over and over again.
The groom’s croniesares are not coming out from the white yurt from the morning. They have already drained a lot of roomy bowls. Kumiss lightly got into head, and now there is - a very loud conversation. The usual jokes turns into a heated debates. The guys jumping up, then proves something, and then they laugh again. The groom’s yurt is very attractive now. Noise, games, jokes! Moreover, the sound of dombra and and a thin voice of the famous steppe’s singer – Mataya breaks through this entire ruckus from time to time. Mataya’s songs are always having a deep meaning.
Old people think that coming into the groom’s yurt is obscenely. They sitting alone on the riverbank and conducting a sluggish talk. It is immediately obvious that this is the honored guests. They are domineering. They came in the deference to the groom - who is a noble bai. Because the groom Kasim is not just a man. He was recently elected as the chairperson of the Volost Executive Committee of the neighboring volost.
Kasim is from a famous family. This year he led one of the electoral groups. Kasim is not a warrior, not a craftsman, and he has no special merits at all. The people elected him for the rural municipality because of the memory of his father. As they say: «Even if he with a wry mouth, but let bai’s son to keep the speech».
And how not to give honor for the groom, if he comes with Ospan. He was promoted Kasim to the volost chiefs.
Ospan is a famous person. He has already set four chiefs of rural municipality. And he is just not very literate teacher. It is not preventing Kasim to claim: «Our Ospan is a real scientist ». Kasim remarked a special talent in his patron, which is extraordinary ability to be high and mighty. Ospan is big lover of respect and honor, that’s why the groom brought him. Honored guest!
Truly, Mr. Ospan is far from the needs of prairie life, but “the love to the Kazakhs'” forced him to accept the Kasim’s invitation. And here he is. The new rural municipality is going to get a “tokal” - the second wife. That is why he is betrothed to Baibosyn’s daughter.
Kasim is no more than forty years old. It doesn’t matter that the face is injured of the smallpox. He is pock-marked, but has a mighty shoulder. Moreover a huge head on his shoulders with a solid nose and a sparse beard. And here is the groom of Baibosyn’s daughter. He does not shine with eloquence and does not attract from the first words. But when it’s need he is very comprehensive. For example with Ospan. Whatever Ospan says, he takes like a great revelation. That is why, apparently, Ospan likes him.
After morning tea Ospan decided to take a walk and went into the yard. Soon the heat had tired him, but it was uncomfortable to get back to the yurt right now. He had to pretend, that he interested in village life. Accompanied by arrived with him "Adjutant" and a crowd of curious people he strode from yurt to yurt and looked with amazement at everything that came along the way. Someone might think that he saw it for the first time: sheep are resting in the shade and cows are galloping with pulled up tails. He noticed a tied stallion, stood in a pose, shook his head and said: «It's too hot for the poor animals! What a cruel people, these Kazakhs!»
When he was coming to the old woman, he saw that she was making a Kurt. Ospan got excited.
“What are you doing, Grandma? Wow, that's a real production!”
Ospan’s accompanies were nodding in agreement, hiding a chuckle and assenting: «We, Kazakhs, have this». A man has a short memory. Ospan forgot how he was spinning around the boiler, and also forgot how his mother beat him with the ladle if he bothering her too much. He forgot everything and now was staring at Kurt, as if he never tried it.
They have walked and came back. The groom has been already waiting for Ospan. He recalled him to the side: there’s a secret. It was necessary to leave the cool yurt again.
They moved fifty steps away from the aul and sat down on a green meadow. Kasim dropped his cap over his eyes, lowered his eyes and began to talk:
“I heard a conversation here and I really did not like it. You know, I betrothed to Baibosyn’s daughter. The girl's parents gave their consent and have taken away a lot of cattle. And I do not know what parents think, but the daughter said, that now they have a freedom, and she do not want to marry me, because I already have a wife, and I’m much older than she is! And that's what her aunt told me when she came up: “I will complain, will file a lawsuit” said the bride! And what is obtained? Today and yesterday I called her, she didn’t want. She repeats over and over again, “I won’t marry you”. Parents gave their blessing to the marriage, and we have already betrothed. Moreover, I have made it more difficult, and brought you here. Now it’s all up to you. You are support for the running away and for the catching-up! She decided to complain to you. If you try, you will easily save her from that foolishness. She will listen to you.”
Ospan pictured thought fullness, lowered his eyes, paused, and made a decision:
“All right, I will talk to her. Freedom is freedom, but the girl should be decent. Kazakh traditions should not be discarded”.
“That is right!”a happy groom approved. “She should not turn away from the groom. It should not be this way!”
Ospan decided not to postpone the case, he immediately went to the bride. It was even interesting; he has not seen her yet. He passed a groom’s yurt, paused at the entrance of the painted bride’s yurt, pulled out a comb from his pocket, smoothed his hair down, straightened like your rooster, coughed and stepped inside. The bride was sitting at the bedside, stitching something on the sewing machine. They were alone in the yurt. You did not need to look twice at Jamila to understand that she is beautiful. Black glossy hair, decorated with black embroidered skullcap, that is why her face looks especially white. Bright cheeks and neat straight nose. She was stacked girl in a sheath camisole, and a white dress pears over under it. These clothes fit to Jamila. Ospan have melted completely. Even wanted to do something nice for a girl. He took the place of honor, sat down and said hello. Jamila slightly moved her eyes and replied with dignity.
Jokingly, Ospan finally got to the question that brought him here. The girl turned her head and raised her eyebrows in surprise. It was difficult to Ospan. He was talking adumbrated and stumbling over the words, finally he said:
“Parents have already betrothed you. Your groom is the rural municipality chief, a respected man. Think, maybe it will be a mistake if you will say no to him? Maybe you will come to one's senses?”, he finished with a guilty smile.
These words do not embarrassed Jamila at all: she looked into his eyes directly and sarcastically.
“I don’t want to believe that this is your thoughts. You could not refuse a friend, because he brought you here, isn’t it?”
Ospan confused and couldn’t find what to say. He sympathetically smiled and mumbled:
“Maybe you are right, but I expressed those thoughts. I guess you should give the answer.”
“I would not be surprised if someone else would come. But you? You are educated, well-known person. We believe that you are our protector. We think you are for the liberation of girls, and suddenly you are a mediator in such business! How do you like it?”
“Oh, you offend me, how I can be a mediator!” implored Ospan.
“I’m glad to hear that.”The girl's eyes were laughing. “I expect justice from you. Your position, appearance, age, making me think that you are better.”
Ospan do not try to object, he conceded defeat and bowed his head, waiting for further reproaches. Girl’s wit and candor defeated him. The last words fell into the very soul and gave birth to the unintentional hope. Well the girl is up to him with a beauty and intelligence. Meanwhile Jamila, managed to see the beautiful Russian clothes of the "real scientist" and pleasant ruddy face.
Reciprocal feelings moved in her mind. They no more looked back on the groom. Poor Kasim, burned in two fires - hope and hopelessness, impatiently waited for Ospan. And perfidious ambassador has already made plans how to woo the beauty by himself.
A few more candid words and they started talking like old friends.
Ospan liked Jamila more and more. His determination was growing. The conversation was already revolving around a treasured topic. Ospan was telling a lot of jokes, shining, he needed to conquer the steppe-beauty not for the first time. Finally he decided to bluntly express innermost thoughts. A girl has putted a bold face on. Probably she has already listened to the love expression. She looked at amorous Ospan and said:
“Your wish can be fulfilled. But firstly listen to main...”
Ospan didn't allow her to finish. He jumped up, pulled her to himself and kissed. Jamila was confused, but not too much. She lowered her eyes and said softly: «Someone can enter here». And inspired Ospan already demanded a private meeting. She smiled.
“You are so fast. You fell in love a moment ago and already want a private meeting. Don’t hurry up. First of all you should listen to my wish.”
“Tell me it, tell me faster!”Ospan hurried her.
“Listen. Let our relationships not be fleeting. If you love me, let’s be together forever. What would you tell now?”
Ospan did not think hard, jumped with readiness.
“What a wonderful words, dear Jamila! It is my fondest wish. So let’s decide now: you are mine and I’m yours.”
What else’s left to lovers? Arrange a wedding, of course!
They discussed that situation for a long time and finally decided that the other day when Ospan will finish his business in the village, he go to the city. Then on the way, he will go down here and will take her away. And Jamila all those days should stand firm and shouldn’t accept Kasim’s purpose to the marriage in any case. So they agreed on that and hugged each other, like friends after a long time. Lover’s kissing is nice and it’s difficult to leave. But while Jamila is bride of another man – it’s better to go.
Of course Ospan didn’t tell the truth to the groom. He complained to the girl: «I urged the bride seriously and for a very long time. I don’t think that somebody could get round her. So am I». Kasim believed and not, but did not upbraid.
In the evening news has flown at the aul: a girl refused Kasim, doesn’t want to marry him. What a shame! The parents did not know where to hide their eyes. They have embarrassed themselves. But it was nothing to do. It’s impossible to oblige her to get married. Times have changed. And they are canceled wedding which was scheduled for tomorrow. Boys and girls was getting depressed and silenced. They have prepared from yesterday and there will not be any fun. They was trying to persuade the bride, was sending the whole delegation of relatives and friends but nothing helped. And they announced to the groom: «Our bride is naughty. Please do not be upset. Give us fifteen days, we will fix everything. Come in fifteen days». Later at night people from the groom's entourage began to disperse to their auls. The groom has left too.
Five days have passed. Baibosyn’s aul was sleeping, tired on a hot day. Quietly rolled ‘tarantass’ drawn by a triple. This is Ospan comes to take Jamila away.
No one guessed, what Ospan started. He cunningly took the case. He left the Baibosyn’s aul together with Kasim and all those days spent with the hapless groom. Who could guess that something was wrong?
The horses stopped at a small knoll on the edge of the aul, how it was agreed. Jamila was supposed to come here. Ospan was intently looking into the darkness–“hurry up!”Time goes by – so slowly! Minutes becomes an hours. Everything was quiet. Ospan and his companions are listening and waiting. The stars are winking high in the sky. Jigits saw caricatures of people figures. No, it’s just shadows...
One hour passed. Suddenly they heard the faint sound of the crowd. And now they can hear the conversation. There are two persons. White dress has flashed. Jamila! Ospan ran to meet her. The black chapan is thrown over the girl's head - just in case, so as not to be known. Here are Jamila said something softly to her escort, said goodbye, and the horses setting off.
City is in a hundred versts away from here. While aul will wake up and people realized what had happened, the escapees will be at the place already. The horses are racing at top speed.
The morning came. People in the aul have thought suddenly: “Where is Jamila?”And only at dinner they guessed that she has run away. But with whom? In the evening news of the escape was coming to the Kasim’s aul.
And the next day the people know, that escape was the Ospan’s handiwork.