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VII.

The sun had disappeared, and the shadows of the night rapidly advanced from the forest. The Cossacks had finished their occupations at the cordon, and were getting ready to go to the hut for supper. Only the old man, in expectation of the hawk, remained under the plane-tree, pulling at the cord by which the falcon was tied. The hawk sat on a tree, but did not descend upon the chicken.

Lukáshka leisurely placed in the pheasant track, in the blackthorn grove, nooses with which to catch the pheasants, and sang one song after another. In spite of his tall stature and big hands, every kind of work, large and small, was, it appeared, equally successful in Lukáshka's hands.

"О Luká!" he heard Nazárka's shrill voice from near by in the grove. "The Cossacks have gone to their supper."

Nazárka was making his way through the blackthorn, with a pheasant under his arm, and finally crawled out on the foot-path.

"Oh!" said Lukáshka, growing silent for a moment. "Where did you get that cock? It must be my snare."

Nazárka was of the same age as Lukáshka, and had entered the army, like him, in the spring.

He was a short, homely, lean, sickly man, with a squeaky voice that grated upon the ears. He was a neighbour and friend of Lukáshka. Lukáshka was sitting in Tartar fashion on the grass, and fixing the nooses.

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