Nara Wilson-Hall

Страна: Новая Зеландия

Нара Вилсон-Холл – увлеченный новозеландский автор исторических детективов, художественной и научной литературы. Родом из Андижана (Узбекистан), она жила в разных странах и владеет несколькими языками. Имеет академическое образование в области психологии и инженерии. Она проживает в Аотеароа (Новая Зеландия) в уютном городке, недалеко от Нейпира, мировой столицы арт-деко, работает в British Petroleum и наслаждается садоводством.

Country: New Zealand

Nara Wilson-Hall is a passionate New Zealand author of historical mysteries, art, and science fiction. Originally from Andijan (Uzbekistan), she has lived in several countries and speaks several languages. She holds degrees in psychology and engineering. She resides in Aotearoa, New Zealand, a cozy town near Napier, the Art Deco Capital of the world, works at BP, and enjoys gardening.

Отрывок из исторического детектива “Yuletide mysteries”

Vasilki villagers were convinced that Danyla would kill. He was considered a sorcerer and thus assumed to be evil. Muscovite by birth, the young man lived in a hut on land he had cleared in the outskirts. Ukrainians did not trust anyone from Moscow, known locally Muscovy.

One day, the villagers decided to spy on Danyla. Following his trail, they stepped through the dark forest. However, what they discovered far outweighed anything they had anticipated. And how it occurred was a complete mystery. To their amazement, they were startled to find in Danyla’s place, a gigantic wolfhound, gnawing on a bone, and grinning devilishly. In fear, the pursuers called out “Are you there, Danyla?” But all to no avail…

The following scenario took place in the Poltava province of central Ukraine over two centuries ago; a period in which Vasilki village appeared to be ensnared in a spiral of fate. It was Christmas Eve, the sky above the village was as red as the entrance to hell and as a result, people were anxious to their core.

Vasilki’s church deacon looked especially troubled after many of his congregation voiced their concern about the wolfhound and the sorcerer. On finding Danyla safely in his hut, Nikodim Savelyevich decided against investigating talk of mystical goings-on any further. Nevertheless, in his mind, a seed had been sown and although he never imagined it would happen, he was consumed with thoughts of a murder. Despite the absence of any sound reason, he wept every night before going to sleep. Indeed, this old man’s thoughts were as bad as the awful, odious smell emanating from the cottage in which he lived.

 

***

 

One morning on waking from a nightmare, Nikodim Savelyevich was greeted by the sight of his nephew, named Timoshka at birth but nicknamed Timofey.  Glancing around, Timoshka whispered, “What is the nasty odour?” Ignoring his comment, the deacon clasped his hand and announced, “Timofey, the future of Vasilki lies in your hands.  That murdering bastard’s up to no good.”

Timoshka leaned forward, trying not to gag from the stench wafting up from bed, “Is your life in danger?”

“I’m wary of Danyla,” replied the deacon and explained what had happened.

Tears poured from the deacon’s eyes and his icy fingers grabbed Timoshka’s arm. He knew only too well what was in store!

A moment later, Solomiya, the deacon’s wife, walked into the room giving Nikodim Savelyevich such a start that he cried, “Holy shit!”

Turning to the lad, she apologized for the smell in his uncle’s bedroom. Avoiding her eye, Timoshka pretended he hadn’t noticed but she was determined to set things straight. “Your uncle has ended up in this state because of that sorcerer! With a stash of plum schnapps and pickled herrings under the bed to sustain him, he has been hiding in his room, scheming on how to capture the Musovy. God help me!” Shaking her head, she continued: “And he’s been too drunk to clean up the mess.” Having chastised her husband, Solomiya spun around and in despair, left the two men.

 

***

 

The deacon and his wife cherished Timoshka’s easy-going nature. Neither tall nor small, he wore round spectacles which gave him a bookish appearance. They had no children of their own and always invited him to stay during the holidays. Highly literate since childhood and with a sound comprehension of rhetoric, philosophy, and other academic subjects, he excelled at the Ascension Monastery’s theological seminary. A voracious reader, he was also a naturally eloquent storyteller; a gift that had won him praise from an army clerk who resided in Vasilki village. Whenever he visited, Solomiya would spoil him with poppyseed pies, lamb, ham, and dumplings. And to top it all, there always the Vasilki fair and its whirlwind of rustic fun.

A fair is fascinating place to learn about people. Especially at Christmas. And it goes without saying that Ukrainian fairs, steeped in ancient culture and traditions, charm even the most cynical sceptics. Do you need a filly or gingerbread or bagels, sugar for the samovar, or are you looking for hand painted pots and ladles? Whatever you fancy, Christmas Eve is the most auspicious time to explore what’s on offer!

Vasilki has long staged prosperous fairs and that year was no exception. People from the nearby town and indeed, the whole county, flocked to the village early that snow-clad morning and the air rang with traders’ cries, the mooing of cows, the honking of geese and the babble of the motley crowd.

Between the rows of stalls and farmer’s stools, young bucks strutted back and forth, vying for attention from good-looking girls. Donned in brightly coloured garb, red boots and canvas trousers, with their hats tilted at a jaunty angle, they threw wolf whistles at passing women. And amidst the throng one voice carried louder than others as it declared love and admiration for one of the village maidens with pale blue eyes with a flowery scarf.

“Hey” warned her disgruntled father, “You’re even uglier than my goat! The only hand you’ll get from me is that in marriage to my pig!”

“Oh, spare your insults! I’m only having a bit of fun”, jostled the youth.

The old man spat angrily and hissed, “Ugh, go put your turnip head back in the ground.”

Crude laughter resounded from the onlookers, typifying the glee to be had by townsfolk from petty squabbles, yakking and gossip…

 

***

 

It was the first day of Christmas.

After drinking tea, Timoshka headed for the fairground. Accompanied by the sound of someone playing an accordion, buffoons cavorted and people cheerfully strode about drinking and singing hearty songs at the top of their voices. Trade was brisk. A line of browsers stretched the length of rows of stalls selling whistles, fish, salt, and other consumable goods whilst around ox carts, folk hustled and bustled for sacks of flour and wheat.

At the entrance to the fair, Timoshka approached the gathered crowd. The peasants were merrily discussing Danyla’s infatuation with Hanna and how people had spotted him sneaking about, peering through her windows, and stalking her. 

When Timoshka quizzed the men, he also discovered that to everyone’s surprise, Grisha the beekeeper had not come to the fair as usual, to sell his wares. His honey was produced from the loveliest nectar and the peasants were upset by the absence of his mead. Moreover, on Christmas Eve, farmers had spotted Danyla on the street heading for Grisha’s village apiary. Grisha had two places where he kept his beehives. One was on the edge of the farm in Vasilki village; the other was far away, in the wilds. The villagers had gone to closest apiary and looked around. Grisha was not there. Inside his house, the table was set and, in the yard, his team was harnessed. In the shed, the hives stood unattended. Everyone knew that Grisha would not abandon those bees when away at the distant apiary.  Indeed, he never allowed anyone to even enter the shed, in case they disturbed the bees by knocking into them. Checking a faraway apiary was an impossible task since no one knew the way. Based on their suspicions about Danyla, the peasants jumped to the conclusion that he had killed the beekeeper Grisha, a good respectable man.

In middle of the fair amongst a rowdy, good-natured throng, there was also gossip about Esaul Andriy captain of the Cossack army, who had arrived in Vasilki early that December. It was said that he carried out his duties well. Blessed with the striking noble features of a Kyiv prince, he was as strong as Pan Voyevoda, the Provincial Governor. Even so, it didn’t seem right for Pan Voyevoda’s daughter, the widow Pannoshka Hanna, to be mesmerised by Andriy as soon as she lay eyes on him! The young woman had only buried her husband the spring before last, exactly a month after their wedding.

 

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