Ludmila planted potatoes alone, praying and biting her lip. Then she prayed earnestly in the church to sprout the shoots. She believed

It is so easy to imagine her in black monastic clothes, would she hold the back a little straighter and have a little anger less. She was a devout aging virgin with unhealthy blush. Thin, poorly dressed typist in a scientific institute. Previously, when the blush was quite different, she was the secretary at the dean's office. The freshness has passed, a tedious contentiousness appeared, and she was removed. There are not timid students in SRI, here women are more toothy and Lyudmila’s life flowed into a squabble with almost all, in the fight without a win.

By way of life and by the strength of faith she was a nun, a nun in appearance and build. However, what to do with the damn  pugnaciousness? To give her a report to print always was a severe test of nerves. As I could, tried not to offend her – it was very easy to offend.

Lyudmila softened in the church, which attended regularly and for a long time. Chatted, she fell in love with the priest. At the slightest hint of it, she boiled with crimson. Always with her was The Bible in good hardcover, carefully wrapped in a breech Institute's tracing paper. In those strict communist times, it was shown only elected, furtively. Moreover, she commented with obvious gusto. The frown instantly disappeared; her face was becoming good, like faces of family women who had brought the photos of their favorite children.

She did not give Bible anyone to take home. Then this book was not for sale, she somehow got in the church. Nevertheless, I would like very much to read everything myself. Howbeit, she disliked me for handwriting. No matter how hard I tried to display the letters more clearly, it was easier to make a scientific report than to print it with her. Yet the Bible I dared to ask. After a long, careful look, she said with a serious frown:

- If you are looking in this way for approaches me as a woman, you try in vain.

I did not expect this, and mechanically, automatically wanted immediately to assure her both the innocence and the height of all my thoughts, but still had time to realize that so might offend her as a woman. Of course, there could not be more terrible insult. After all, even the most convinced nun is not able not to consider herself a woman, though, should be, I suppose. How should we respond in such a situation? I said nothing and got the divine book.

Here we have started the difficult times, and so many people have gained vegetable gardens. And Lyudmila has taken this up without a man, with a poor health. She traveled to distant lands. With God's help, it seems, has all turned out. It turned green her garden in neat rows. Lyudmila already has weeded out everything with prayer. The emerald rows were becoming lush, almost like a picture on the packs of tea.

Just here the trouble started. The Colorado beetles with stripes on the backside very busily were crawling at all the pretty shoots. Like silent evil spirit soared they above the vegetable gardens of quite inexperienced farmers. Who was more operatively began to spray poison. Who could ride more often, simply collected beetles. At first Lyudmila also tried to do something, but lacked the strength. She had no money enough to buy poison and for the bus tickets. The evil power was destroying the righteous work. It's so hard to go to the garden in hot weather in the crowded bus, but it's even more difficult to see how your work is lost. She covered with perspiration, crossed herself and with the same already empty bus escaped. For what is this overseas trouble to our Orthodox land?

She could not cope with the garden. It was painful to hear about her despair. Nevertheless, one day, after the holidays, when all at the Institute exchanged reports from the fields, Lyudmila did not complain. Moreover, she looked fresher. She looked at the gardeners little haughtily, as if she knew something not available to us, as if the striped trouble was not applicable to her. It seemed to me her face as if painted on the icon - calm and enlightened.

Not only I have noticed it. Women began whispering - whether a man helper had Lyudmila found? Sensation was being formed! They began eliciting with the approach - have you Lyudmila gone to the garden these days?

- No, I did not go!

She dissembled, of course! She might be afraid of evil eyes, hoodoo. Now it is impossible not to go to garden! And she said proudly:

- I did not go! - And she was smiling cryptically and meekly - just a nun
- Have you neglected your garden?
- No, it's all right!

The secret of the calm she opened just to me. Indeed, it could not have done without a man, but what a man!

- I ordered the prayer to the priest.
- What prayer?
- From the Colorado potato beetle.
- Are you kidding?
- Not at all. There is such a prayer!

I decided that Lyudmila went crazy - very characteristic eyes twinkled. I think that fanatic is indistinguishable from the crazy. She truly believed! Of despair and because long ago she come to rely on a higher power. It was heartwarming, of course, but in such a case and rather funny.

How can we imagine the miraculous escape? Once the prayer has been committed, an invisible shield would close the space above her potatoes. For striped only? In addition, what will happen to having been laid eggs? I thought she deliver the priest to the garden, but it turned more intricate - he is able to overcome and shame the evil spirit directly from his church, remotely. Great is the power of the real faith!

She did not answer my snide questions, but again she looked at me by narrowing eyes with indignant and bitter regret - the eyes were saying that I had read a good book in vain and had comprehended nothing. It seems to me that first and Lyudmila had any doubts, but they were very easy to drown in the bottomless ocean of omnipotent faith. Oh! Someone, who has the patron saint in heaven, does not afraid of overseas beetles! Yet it was not our typist in an old green jacket looked at me, and even not a meek nun looked at the typewriter, but shined over the lettered keys the brightly face of a saint, the reproaching face!

All my heretical humor extinguished itself. In addition, I was scared. Scary for her, whether there will really happen something when homespun truth upset her selfless hope.

Where there was not fight with the beetles, potato leaves were quickly disappearing. I brought a magnifying glass to my vegetable garden, and one could clearly see how smartly the larvae eat the green leaves. Here in the wider field of leaf from a side smoothly enters the incision furrow. Jaws are working as the raking paws of snowplow. It should be little off, and leaf is not recognizable - there is no almost half, and the new incisions enter the second half. On the tip of the bush from which swim out very young crumbs leaves, already young larvae glistening as eggs are moving  and also begin to devouring. Indeed - evil spirit! Ten to fifteen days, and there are some stems with dark, as if burnt heads. They dry in the sun. That's all.

Here the summer passed. The potato is already in the cellars. Lyudmila angrily knocks on a typewriter. It's awkward to ask her about the garden. Her cheeks in bad blush. I do not want to offend. Talking about the potato in the office began as something itself, I only caught the end. Very rarely gardeners praise their harvest, I think they fear the evil eye. And Ludmila - a man of God - all took at face value and, likely, in unison:

- And I have not digged up anything. - Like, God knows why.

And her kind is again meek, monastic and not grumpy at all.

Nobody knew about her outlandish and bizarre prayer.








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