Danko and His Fiery Heart
by Maxim Gorky
A tribe of strong men, with their families, were forced by their enemies to retreat into the depths of an old dark forest filled with swamps. Every day spent lost, wandering aimlessly in the forest weakened their faith. They were on the verge of surrendering to their enemy, exhausted from living in despair, resigned to live in slavery.
Danko loved his people very much. He knew that there must be a way out of the dark and hostile forest. He bravely led the people deeper inside, hoping to find a way out. After weeks lost in the forest, his followers started to grumble. Fueled by fear and darkness, frustration and anger grew among them. Danko looked at the people and saw only hatred in their faces. Despite the fear and pain a flame of desire to save them flared up in his heart.
This flame of love for his people became stronger and stronger, and suddenly, loudly, his heart, and his voice overpowering the sound of thunder, Danko exclaimed: 'What shall I do to save my people?' He tore apart his chest, tore out his heart and raised it high over his head. It blazed like the sun, even brighter than the sun, and the forest, stunned by this overwhelming love for the people, became quiet, shrank into nothingness and opened a way out of the darkness.
Danko ran forward, holding high his burning heart, lighting the road for his people, and they rushed after him. Suddenly, the forest ended, and they emerged into an ocean of sunshine and fresh air, cleansed by the rain. Danko looked at the free land, laughed proudly and suddenly fell dead to the ground. The happy people, filled with great hopes and expectations, ran past his body. They did not even notice Danko's death and did not see that next to his body his brave heart still burned brightly. Only one person noticed it, and fearfully, stomped on the proud heart and extinguished its flame.