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Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/30

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RUSSIAN ROMANCE.

kibitka, and saw my mother, who ran to meet me at the threshold with a look of deep grief. "Gently," she said, "thy father is ill and at death's door, and desires to take leave of thee." Struck with terror, I followed her into the bedroom. It is dimly lit; people with sorrowful faces stand at the bedside. I approach the bed noiselessly; my mother raises the curtains and says: "Andrey Petrovitch, Petrousha has come; he has returned on hearing of thy illness; bless him." I knelt and fixed my eyes on the patient. And what? . . . instead of my father, I see a moujik with a black beard stretched on the bed, who looks pleasantly at me. In my perplexity I turn to my mother and say: "What does this mean? This is not my father. And what should I ask a moujik's blessing for?" "It is the same thing, Petrousha," replies my mother; "this is thy nuptial sponsor: kiss his hand and let him kiss thee . . ." I didn't consent. Here the moujik jumps out of bed, draws an axe from behind his back,[1] and commences to swing it about; I seek to fly from him . . . and cannot; the room is strewn about with corpses; I stumble over them, and slip in pools of blood . . . the dreadful moujik calls me affectionately, saying, "Do not fear, come and receive my blessing;" . . . terror and anxiety seize hold of me . . . and at that moment I awoke; the horses stood still; Savelitch held me by the hand and said:

"Get out, sir; we have arrived."

"Arrived where?" I inquired, rubbing my eyes.

  1. The Russian peasant wears his axe behind his back, stuck into his belt.—Tr.