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Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/39

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and "The Burial of the Cat." At the window sat an old woman in a warm jacket; her head bound up with a kerchief. She was winding a skein of thread, which was being held by a one-eyed old man, in an officer's uniform.

"What is it you want, sir?" she asked, continuing her occupation.

I replied that I had come to enter the service, and had hastened to report myself to the captain, as in duty bound, and was about to address myself to the one-eyed man, whom I took for the commandant; but the old lady anticipated the speech I had prepared.

"Ivan Kouzmitch[1] is not at home," she said; "he is gone to Father Gherassim. But it does not matter, sir; I am his wife. I beg you to love and be gracious to us.[2] Sit down, my little father."

She called a maidservant, and told her to send the orderly. The little old man with the solitary eye kept looking at me with curiosity.

"Dare I ask," said he, "in what regiment you have served?"

I satisfied his curiosity.

"And dare I ask," he continued, "why you have left the Guards for this garrison?"

I replied that such was the will of my superiors.

"Probably in consequence of your conduct not being creditable to an officer in the Guards?" continued the indefatigable questioner.

"Leave off talking nonsense," said the captain's wife to

  1. John, the son of Cosmos.—Tr.
  2. A friendly mode of greeting.—Tr.