Her puffy frock is as white as the cherry flowers. Her curls are shining as golden frames of icons or as flicking fire of candles. Her thin pale skin -- like marble columns of little church, and the arched eyebrows -- like tree brunches around it.
Only the closest relatives are here. Stifling twilight in the church was wearisome for them, but a summer day, full of sunshine, cheered them up. They still hear choristers' voices, flying above arches and dome, and priest's bass, lying on tiled floor.
Just a moment -- and birds' chirping will stop sounds-recollections, and earthly life will overshadow the life at the heaven.
Does new better life wait for Anna?
Nor ward, nor distant cousin, nor housemaid -- that was her earlier position.
"Annette, let us have lunch together" -- "Yes, ma tante". That meant that aunt did not wait for guests, and Anna had to amuse her via boring discussions, gossips, solitaire.
"Anna, have lunch with the servants" -- "Yes, madam". This day a party would take place, and Anna would make beds and fluff pillows until her arms thrill because of exhaustion and she could not keep her eyes open.
Meetings with the nephew of lady, who sheltered her, were the only joy for Anna. He visited the manor once -- or maybe twice -- a year. He never know how much happiness -- and pain at the same time -- he gave Anna, because they almost did not talk with each other.
The mere "Good morning", that was said her in a hurry, made Anna's heart beat as quick as it is going to jump out, and Anna herself -- to blush and hesitate, to avert her eyes and to go away from him. This rich, handsome, kind man was absolutely not for her --a poor lowborn.
It was in winter, cold and snowy, which rare came in their province. He visited his aunt again. Having spent there two weeks, he still did not want to go away. The reason was -- Anna wanted to believe that, but she could not -- was a pretty ward, with who he spoke longer, met more often, and seemed to try seeing her not only in hall, while going to the dining room.
She thought he to be an ideal, a person she should admire. He lent her book, was persuading the aunt to let her stay for a dinner with guests -- that was so gentle of him. Moreover, he was fair: he gave land to the villagers not accepting any money.
"Do you know that feeling -- to love and not be loved?" -- once he asked Anna. She did not answer, just looked at him with admiration and moved from heating fireplace. She did not believe in her happiness: he cannot tell her about his feelings so suddenly!
"Or maybe... you love me?" -- he added. "I do..." -- Anna whispered. Her voice did not obey.
And then everything was just like Anna was sleeping. Not a predawn dream it was -- a nightmare, which you want to stop, which cripples your mind and after which you are worried for an all day. There meeting turned into the poison.
He hugged Anna around the waist with his strong hands and kissed her -- Anna felt his warm breath. "Stop it..." -- she tried to free up, turning her face away. -- "Let me go!" He just was hanging her stronger and coming closer to her lips. The picture, so adored by Anna, was disappearing like a fog in a morning; few seconds -- and it would vanish.
But steps were heared outside the closed door, and he went away from Anna.
Next day he left the manor, having left Anna alone with her disquiet. "How could he do so", -- she thought. -- "Why didn't he remain that ideal man?" But what if it was not his fault -- hers? The fault of Anna, who was not shy enough?
All house somehow knew about happened, and it increased her angst. Now the old lady kept her just as a housemaid -- out of pity, she told Anna. Now she had not only make beds, but do lots of other hard work. And servants thought her to be too trampy. "We aren't as fine as the master, are we?" -- grinned they when see Anna at the yard.
Now the nephew of the manor's owner is also here, stands near the church. Soon he will go to Anna, touch her cold fingers with his lips -- with respect and regret. He will look at her face, that has small wrinkles near the eyes, and whisper her name for a last time.
And the coffin will separate Anna from our world -- forever.