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Page:The Prose Tales of Alexander Poushkin (Bell, 1916).djvu/410

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POUSHKIN'S PROSE TALES

shiit falling below the knee, and handsome slippers composed the remainder of his costume. His look was proud and calm. . . .

One of the officials, a red-faced old man in a threadbare uniform, three buttons of which were dangling down, with a pair of pewter spectacles pinching the purple knob that served him for a nose, unrolled a paper and, in a snuffling tone, began to read in the Moldavian tongue. From time to time he glanced haughtily at the fettered Kirdjali, to whom apparently the paper referred. Kirdjali listened to him attentively. The official finished his reading, folded up the paper and shouted sternly at the people, ordering them to give way and the karoutsa to be driven up. Then Kirdjali turned to him and said a few words to him in Moldavian; his voice trembled, his countenance changed, he burst into tears and fell at the feet of the police official, clanking his fetters. The police official, terrified, started back; the soldiers were about to raise Kirdjali, but he rose up himself, gathered up his chains, stepped into the karoutsa and cried: "Drive on!" A gendarme took a seat beside him, the Moldavian cracked his whip, and the karoutsa rolled away.

"What did Kirdjali say to you?" asked the young official of the police officer.

"He asked me," replied the police officer, smiling, "to look after his wife and child, who lived not far from Kilia, in a Bulgarian village: he is afraid that they may suffer through him. The mob is so stupid!"

The young official's story affected me deeply. I was sorry for poor Kirdjali. For a long time I knew nothing of his fate. Some years later I met the young official. We began to talk about the past.

"What about your friend Kirdjali?" I asked. "Do you know what became of him?"