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110
THE COSSACKS

ing. The ensign's wife mentioned this name, in order to say something agreeable to Lukáshka's mother.

"I thank God, mother, he is a good son. He is a fine lad, everybody speaks well of him," said Lukáshka's mother, "only I should like to see him married, and then I could die in peace."

"Well, are there not enough girls in the village?" replied the sly ensign's wife, carefully putting the lid on the match-box with her crooked fingers.

"Plenty, mother, plenty," remarked Lukáshka's mother, shaking her head, "but your girl, Maryánka, your girl, I say, is one the like of whom you will not find in the Cossack settlements."

The ensign's wife knew the intention of Lukáshka's mother; but, although Lukáshka seemed to her to be a good Cossack, she wanted to ward off the subject,—in the first place because she was the ensign's wife, and a rich woman, while Lukáshka was the son of a Cossack of the rank and file, and poor; in the second place, because she did not wish to lose her daughter so soon; but chiefly, because propriety demanded it.

"Well, when Maryánka grows up she will be a nice girl," she said, discreetly and modestly.

"I will send the go-betweens, I will. Just let us get the gardens in shape, and then we will come to ask your favour," said Lukáshka's mother. "We will come to ask Ilyá Vasílevich's favour."

"What has Ilyá to do with it?" the ensign's wife said, proudly. "I am the person to be asked. There is a time for everything."

Lukáshka's mother saw by the stern face of the ensign's wife that it was improper to continue the subject. She lighted the rag with a match and, rising, said: "Do not forget, mother, but remember these words. I must go and start a fire," she added.

As she crossed the street and waved the lighted rag in