It is Petya's birthday today, and, like every year, all the family visits him. The most interested are, undoubtedly, the children, always remaining in awe with Petya's insatiable playfulness, who always prepares a few surprises for the youngest.
All the children seem to look at Petya, avidly, who is now holding a huge wooden spoon. He smiles, moving the spoon towards the shiny samovar.
"What is uncle Petya going to take from the samovar?"
The children soon reply, in a cacophony of diverse answers, showing their impatience to know what there is inside:
"A dead fish!"
"An old man's eye!"
"A bald bat!"
"The ashes of our pet dog!"
He twists and turn the huge spoon into the samovar, with thick steam swiftly rising around his arm. He lifts the spoon, full of a grey, oily liquid, splattering everywhere and leaving dark stains wherever it falls.
"What is that, uncle Petya?" He proceeds to dilute the fluid with some hot water and gives each of the children a cup.
"It is a new recipe that I have been working on! It is a juice made with all sorts of wild fruits that I picked this week, together with a blend of spices that I have invented."
The children all smell their cups in awe, marvelling at the pungency and complexity of the aromas. Everyone starts to drink, attempting to enjoy the fruity, but bitter, flavours. The taste, strong and similar to that of a sweet concentrated leaf extract, is not putting them off; they all appear to want to please their uncle and make an effort to sip their astringent beverages.
A crash is heard, everyone turns around to see one of the porcelain cups smashed on the floor, next to a small puddle formed by its remaining contents. The children start reproaching him for dropping it.
"Come on, you should be more careful next time!"
"Is it really that difficult to hold a cup?"
"How did you drop it?"
Meanwhile, some of them calm down and try to soothe the more nervous children:
"It's not that important, we can clean up later."
"It might probably be because he passed out."
"Uncle Petya, can you bring me something for me mop it up with?"
Uncle Petya brings a small cloth to do so and everyone soon calms down, once they clean up the spilled drink and take the broken fragments away. Nobody is looking at the corpse any more and everyone continues sipping their drinks. A series of crashes shortly followed, with three more children having dropped their cups, and their bodies. This time uncle Petya tries to clean up the mess. The other children are no longer surprised.
"Why are they being so careless?"
"Uncle Petya, next time we should not drink from these porcelain cups."
"Not that we were going to do so: they have broken four already!"
Some thuds and crashes are heard, everyone is now on the floor, next to smashed cups. I imagine that if uncle Petya could still think, he would be regretting that he took the pottery out. He would most definitely be disappointed with how everyone has broken their cups. Nobody has even bothered to clean up afterwards, either! He might consider that it is a bit simpler to do it while alive, but surely, at least back in the old days, children would always be eager to help, and today only one offered to do so. The samovar is still not empty at all. It had been fun to put some of those herbs in it, right? They imparted a really nice flavour, herbal and bitter; their toxicity is somewhat irrelevant, although the collapsing bodies had surely brought some interesting notes to the atmosphere of the place. I think that uncle Petya might have wanted some more cinnamon in it. He had added a few cloves to the mixture when he was steeping it, but he did notice that it might have been slightly too strong, especially for the children's palate. It would maybe taste better with some honey? The ginger gave it a brilliant flavour too, but maybe his best idea was to use marjoram that he bought in the city a few days ago.