Page:The Prose Tales of Alexander Poushkin (Bell, 1916).djvu/412

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them took out their yataghans and commenced digging the earth. Three remained on guard. Kirdjali sat down upon the stone and watched them at their work.

"Well, how much longer are you going to be?" he asked; "haven't you come to it?"

"Not yet," replied the Turks, and they worked away with such ardour, that the perspiration rolled from them like hail.

Kirdjali began to show signs of impatience.

"What people!" he exclaimed: "they do not even know how to dig decently. I should have finished the whole business in a couple of minutes. Children! untie my hands and give me a yataghan."

The Turks reflected and began to take counsel together. "What harm would there be?" reasoned they. "Let us untie his hands and give him a yataghan. He is only one, we are seven."

And the Turks untied his hands and gave him a yataghan.

At last Kirdjali was free and armed. What must he have felt at that moment! . . . He began digging quickly, the guard helping him. . . . Suddenly he plunged his yataghan into one of them, and, leaving the blade in his breast, he snatched from his belt a couple of pistols.

The remaining six, seeing Kirdjali armed with two pistols, ran off.

Kirdjali is now carrying on the profession of brigand near Jassy. Not long ago he wrote to the Governor, demanding from him five thousand levs,[1] and threatening, in the event of the money not being paid, to set fire to Jassy and to reach the Governor himself. The five thousand levs were handed over to him!

Such is Kirdjali!

  1. A lev is worth about ten-pence.