Open main menu

Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/112

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

horn" pronounced in a whisper. The general turned to me, and said with a smile,

"Ensign! the first votes at councils of war are usually given in favour of offensive measures: that is the usual procedure. Let us now continue to collect other votes. Kallejsky Savetnik,[1] tell us your opinion."

The little old man in the watered silk caftan quickly emptied his third cup of tea, mixed with a fair proportion of rum, and replied:—

"My opinion, your excellency, is, that we must act neither defensively nor offensively."

"How is that, Kallejsky Savetnik?" reiterated the astonished general. "Military tactics offer no alternative; action must be either defensive or offensive . . . ."

"Your excellency! try subornation."

"Eh! Eh! your opinion is a very reasonable one. Subornation is allowable in military tactics, and we may take advantage of your advice. We shall be able to offer for the miscreant's head . . . . seventy, or even one hundred roubles, . . . . from the secret fund . . . ."

"And," interrupted the Director of Customs, "may I, in that case, be a Khirghis ram, and not a Kallejskij Savetnik, if those robbers do not deliver up to us their leader, bound hand and foot?"

"We must reflect and talk it over," answered the general; "in any case, however, we must adopt military measures. Gentlemen, give your votes in legal order."

Every opinion was opposed to mine. All the officials

  1. Conseiller de Collége. An employé of the sixth class.—Tr.