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Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/50

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RUSSIAN ROMANCE.

repaired at once to Ivan Ignatitch, and found him needle in hand: by order of the commandant's wife he was stringing mushrooms, which were to be dried for the winter.

"Ah! Piotr Andrevitch!" said he on seeing me; "you are welcome. What brings you here? What business, may I ask?"

In a few words I explained to him that I had had a row with Aleksey Ivanovitch, and asked him to be my second. Fixing his one eye on me, Ivan Ignatitch listened attentively.

"You say," said he, "that you are about to kill Aleksey Ivanovitch and wish me to be a witness! Is it so, may I ask?"

"It is so."

"Dear me, Piotr Andrevitch! What are you thinking of? You have had words with Aleksey Ivanovitch? There is no great harm in that. He insulted you, you insult him in return; he gives you a blow in the face, you give him a box on the ear—a second, and a third—and go your way; we will bring you together again. Instead of this, is it a right thing to do to kill one's neighbour, may I ask? At least, if you were sure of killing him, God be with him, with Aleksey Ivanovitch; I myself don't care much about him. But, supposing he makes a hole through you? what a business that would be. Who will be the fool then, may I ask?"

The good sub-lieutenant's reasoning did not move me. I did not swerve from my resolution.

"As you please," said Ivan Ignatitch, "please your-