Besides old managers, overseers and foresters there is another type of man which is disappearing more and more from the face of the earth-the old servant.Â
When old Mikolai on his death-bed left Hania to my guardianship and conscience, I was sixteen years of age; she was younger by almost a year and was also just emerging from childhood. I had to lead her from the bed of her dead grandfather almost by force and we both went to my father's domestic chapel. The doors of the chapel were open and before the old Byzantine image of the Mother of God two candles were burning. The gleam of these lighted but faintly the darkness on the altar. We knelt down, one at the side of the other. She, broken by sorrow, wearied by sobbing, sleeplessness and grief, rested her poor little head on my arm and so we remained there in silence. The hour was late; in the hall adjoining the chapel, the cuckoo called hoarsely on the old Dantiz clock the second hour after midnight. Deep silence everywhere, broken only by the painful sighs of Hania and by the distant sound of the snow-bearing wind, which at times shook the leaden window-sash in the chapel. I did not dare to speak one word of solace; I merely drew her toward me, as her guardian, or her elder brother. . . .
That's the start to Henryk Sienkiewicz's powerful "Hania" -- which is nearly long enough to qualify as a novel, but is probably more rightly described as a novella. Regardless, this collection contains much, much more than "Hania".