Heat outside the window seemed to have become unbearable. The direful Dniapro was hardly moving between languished banks, and the torrent appeared heavy as molten tin. The thunder god was grumbling very close by, dreamily, almost nonstop.
Storm-clouds were floating from somewhere and covering the sky. They were boiling incredibly fast and piling one atop the other, inching towards the river, heading for the city, where whitish haze still hung on a tiny patch of blue sky.
At once hesitant shimmer of pale silent lightning flooded the expanse of the enraged Dniapro, swift crests of hoary rollers, and the distant dark bank. Gorov’s and Ivan’s oars hit the water that was pink from faraway flashes. And the very same moment the water turned ink-black, and heavy gloom engulfed the trio. Then, as if wanting to help, lightning bolts began to tear the sky apart over and over. Gorov saw the lady’s face; longing and waiting, unaware of the danger, single-mindedly urging forward, to freedom, she was exultantly looking at the other bank, which seemed not a bit nearer.
Their cockleshell was tossed into troughs between waves; lady’s dark shawl was flying in wind like huge impetuous wings.
Every five minutes they had to bail water out; everybody was wet waist-high. The dugout rode the waves, and foam sprayed their eyes – the furious Dniapro was spitting outboard.
It seemed to Gorov that the darkness would last endlessly, that dreadful hammering into the starboard would never cease. The dugout must have been carried away.
Yet the moment came when waves had settled down and the cockleshell was gently rolling in a nook behind a high spit at the opposite bank.
“I thought we’d sink, sir”, Ivan sighed.
“We could not sink”, she said with confidence. “How can we sink, when we carry life?”
Without a word, they dried clothes by a fire. Then, after smoothing out the parched, creased fabric, they noticed that grey dawn was breaking above the Dniapro.
In this muddy yellowish-grey light the great river calmed down, as if ashamed of what it had done last night. It was still breezy but the ground wind had given way to the upper wind, which, like a kindly uncle, smoothed out the rough water and cleared the river surface with its breath. It was still drizzling but, clearly, day would soon beam with all its fresh and warm colours. And the rain dripped so thinly that one couldn’t tell whether sparse drops were falling or bumper shoals of hungry bleak were splashing the water.
...When Gorov, rowing quite clumsily, got over the Dniapro and went on by the low bank, day was just about to defeat morning. Heavy after rain, unmown grass was steaming on lush withy banks; thick fog was floating from the bosom of the Dniapro, as from a bucket with freshly drawn milk.
“My God”, Gorov thought, “even rivers flow with cream. Why die on such blessed land?”
(translated from Belarusian; excerpt from Ferry on a Stormy River by Uladzimir Karatkevich)