Page:The Prose Tales of Alexander Poushkin (Bell, 1916).djvu/409

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unknown official, but now occupying an important post, vividly described to me his departure.

At the gate of the prison stood a karoutsa. . . . Perhaps you do not know what a karoutsa is. It is a low, wicker vehicle, to which, not very long since, used generally to be yoked six or eight sorry jades. A Moldavian, with a moustache and a sheepskin cap, sitting astride one of them, incessantly shouted and cracked his whip, and his wretched animals ran on at a fairly sharp trot. If one of them began to slacken its pace, he unharnessed it with terrible oaths and left it upon the road, little caring what might be its fate. On the return journey he was sure to find it in the same place, quietly grazing upon the green steppe. It not unfrequently happened that a traveller, starting from one station with eight horses, arrived at the next with a pair only. It used to be so about fifteen years ago. Nowadays in Russianized Bessarabia they have adopted Russian harness and Russian telegas.

Such a karoutsa stood at the gate of the prison in the year 1821, towards the end of the month of September. Jewesses in loose sleeves and slippers down at heel, Arnouts in their ragged and picturesque attire, well-proportioned Moldavian women with black-eyed children in their arms, surrounded the karoutsa. The men preserved silence, the women were eagerly expecting something.

The gate opened, and several police officers stepped out into the street; behind them came two soldiers leading the fettered Kirdjali.

He seemed about thirty years of age. The features of his swarthy face were regular and harsh. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and seemed endowed with unusual physical strength. A variegated turban covered the side of his head, and a broad sash encircled his slender waist. A dolman of thick; dark-blue cloth, the broad folds of his