Page:The Novels of Ivan Turgenev (volume V).djvu/307

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

pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and there, to their horror, bathed all naked in the holy river Jordan, for he believed not "in omen nor in dream, nor in the flight of birds," this logical Vaska Buslaev climbed up Mount Tabor, and on the top of this mountain there lies a great stone, over which men of every kind have tried in vain to jump. . . . Vaska too ventured to try his luck. And he chanced upon a dead head, a human skull in his road; he kicked it away with his foot. So the skull said to him; "Why do you kick me? I knew how to live, and I know how to roll in the dust—and it will be the same with you." And in fact, Vaska jumps over the stone, and he did quite clear it, but he caught his heel and broke his skull. And in this place, I must by the way observe that it wouldn't be amiss for our friends, the Slavophils, who are so fond of kicking dead heads and decaying nationalities underfoot to ponder over that legend.'

'But what does all that mean?' Litvinov interposed impatiently at last. 'Excuse me, it 's time for me . . .'

'Why, this,' answered Potugin, and his eyes beamed with such affectionate warmth as Litvinov had not even expected of him, 'this, that you do not spurn a dead human head, and for your goodness, perhaps you may succeed in

287