I did not remember how long I had slept, only that somebody’s footsteps suddenly crackled on the straw. There was a sensation as if a moist wing had lightly touched me on my shoulder. I opened my eyes. It was Jamila. She had come from the river in her cool, wrung out dress. She stopped, looked anxiously about and then sat down beside Daniyar.
“Daniyar, I’ve come, I’ve come of my own,” she said softly.
Silence was all around, a lightning bolt slid down noiselessly.
“Are you offended? You’re hurt a lot, aren’t you?”
And again silence, only a loosened lump of soil fell into the river with a soft splash.
“How could I be guilty? And you, too, are not guilty.”
Peals of thunder were heard far above the mountains. Lightning illumined Jamila’s profile. She looked round and threw herself down to Daniyar. Her shoulders heaved convulsively under his hands. Stretching herself out on the straw, she laid herself beside him.
A blistering wind sprung up from the steppe. A whirlwind swirled up the straw, struck the shaking yurt that stood at the edge of the threshing-floor, and spun round and round like a top, lop-sidedly, along the road. The flashing of bluish sheet lightning resumed, crisp peals of thunder reverberated in the sky. It was terrifying and joyful at the same time—a storm was drawing near, the last storm of the summer.
“Did you really think that I’d choose him rather than you?” Jamila whispered passionately. “No, I would not! He never loved me. Even his greeting, that, too, he would add at the very end of the letter. I don’t need him with his belated love, let them talk whatever they want to! My darling, my lonesome one, I won’t give you away to anyone! I have loved you for a long time. And when I didn’t know it—I loved you and waited for you, and you came, as if you had known that I was waiting for you!”
Blue lightning bolts, one after the other, bursting, went down into the river near the precipice. Cool raindrops, falling at an angle, started rustling on the straw.
“Jamilyam, Jamiltai!” whispered Daniyar, calling her with the most affectionate Kazakh and Kirghiz names. “Turn to me, let me look into your eyes!”
The storm broke lose. Torn from the yurt, a large felt mat was flapping like a bird hit by a bullet. The rain, whipped up along the ground, came down in violent bursts, as if kissing the earth. The thunder resounded in mighty avalanches across the entire sky. Bright flashes of summer lightning lit up with the springtime fire of tulips. The wind whistled, raged in the river gully.
The rain was pouring, and I lay hidden in the straw, and I felt how my heart was beating under my hand. I was happy. I had the sensation as if I had stepped outside for the first time after an illness to look at the sun. Both the rain and flash of lightning bolts reached me in the straw, but I felt good; I was falling asleep, smiling, and I could not make out if that were Daniyar and Jamila whispering with each other, or the subsiding rain rustling on the straw.