A Bewitched Place by Nikolai Gogol
Author: Nikolai Gogol
Genre: Short Story
“A Bewitched Place” is a short story by Nikolai Gogol, first published in the second volume of his short story collection, Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka. The narrator of this story is also the narrator of “The Lost Letter,” the last story in the collection’s first volume.
The old sexton Foma relates a tale of his grandfather, who once tried to outdo him at dancing. Foma’s grandfather finds a spot in his garden where his legs stiffen up, making it impossible for him to dance. The spot is bewitched and transports him to a garden, where he discovers a gravestone that appears to have treasure buried under it.
2. Story Summary
Foma, the old sexton, shares a story about his grandfather, who used to enjoy spending time with passing wagoneers while tending to his melons. One day, he is talking to some wagoneers when he comes up with the idea of outdoing Foma in dancing. Foma’s grandfather dances well until he reaches a spot in his garden where his legs stiffen up, and he cannot move. He blames the strange phenomenon on the devil and tries again.
The bewitched spot whisks him away to a priest’s garden, where he finds a shining gravestone. He marks the gravestone with a stick, thinking treasure may be buried under it. Foma’s grandfather then goes home and returns to the priest’s garden the next day, only to find that the marked gravestone is no longer there.
Afterward, he returns to the mysterious spot where he cannot dance, and the spot again transports him to the garden with the shining gravestone. He digs under the grave while being harassed by a bird, sheep, and bear that all repeat what he says. The devil tries to frighten him, but the determined man manages to retrieve a cauldron from under the grave and takes it home.
Foma’s grandfather tells his wife and children about the cauldron found but discovers it contains nothing but waste. He resolves never to trust the devil again and fences off the bewitched spot.