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it would be revealed what they had forged; but no one could entrap these cunning artisans. On that occasion only the left-handed man did thrust himself out to the extent of his shoulders, and shout: "Burn by yourselves, but we have no time!"—and thereupon he hid his plucked pate again, clapped the shutter to, and proceeded with his business.

Only, it could be seen through tiny cracks, that a small fire was glowing in the house, and the delicate little hammers could be heard tapping away on the resonant anvils.

In a word, the whole affair was conduced with such fearful secrecy that it was impossible to find out anything at all, and, moreover, this continued up to the very moment of Cossack Platoff's return from the quiet Don to the Emperor; and during all that time these artisans saw no one and talked with no one.

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