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Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/53

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Shvabrine's impudence almost enraged me; none but myself seemed to have understood his coarse allusions; at least no one took any notice of them. The subject of songs led to a discussion on the merits of poets, and the commandant observed that they were all useless creatures and dreadful drunkards, and advised me, as a friend, to leave off writing verses, an occupation prejudicial to the service, and leading to no good.

Shvabrine's presence was unbearable. I took an early leave of the commandant and his family; on my return home, I examined my sword, tried its point, and went to bed, having left orders with Savelitch to call me at six o'clock.

The next morning, at the appointed hour, I was already standing behind the haystacks, waiting for my adversary. He soon appeared. "We might be caught out," he said, "we must be quick." We laid aside our uniform, keeping on our waistcoats, and drew our swords. At that instant Ivan Ignatitch, at the head of five invalids, rushed from behind the stacks. He summoned us to the commandant. We were vexed, but obeyed, the soldiers surrounded us, and we followed Ivan Ignatitch, who led the way in triumph, stepping out with an air of great importance.

We entered the house, Ivan Ignatitch threw open the door, and exclaimed, with solemnity, "I have brought them!" Vassilissa Yegorovna met us. "Ah! my little fathers! What does this mean? How! what! a premeditated murder in our fortress! Ivan Kouzmitch, they must immediately be placed under arrest. Piotr Andrevitch! Aleksey Ivanovitch! give me your swords;