"What shall I write ? " asked Yegor, dipping his pen in the ink.
Vasilissa had not seen her daughter for four years. Efimia had gone away to St. Petersburg with her husband after her wedding, had written two letters, and then had vanished as if the earth had engulfed her, not a word nor a sound had come from her since. So now, whether the aged mother was milking the cow at daybreak, or lighting the stove, or dozing at night, the tenor of her thoughts was always the same: "How is Efimia ? Is she alive and well ? " She wanted to send her a letter, but the old father could not write, and there was no one whom they could ask to write it for them.
But now Christmas had come, and Vasilissa could endure the silence no longer.