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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Cossacks - Chapter 37
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The Cossacks - Chapter 37 Post by :haydnellen Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2005

Click below to download : The Cossacks - Chapter 37 (Format : PDF)

The Cossacks - Chapter 37

'Your health!' said Lukashka, taking from his mother's hands a cup
filled to the brim with chikhir and carefully raising it to his
bowed head.

'A bad business!' said Nazarka. 'You heard how Daddy Burlak said,
"Have you stolen many horses?" He seems to know!'

'A regular wizard!' Lukashka replied shortly. 'But what of it!' he
added, tossing his head. 'They are across the river by now. Go and
find them!'

'Still it's a bad lookout.'

'What's a bad lookout? Go and take some chikhir to him to-morrow
and nothing will come of it. Now let's make merry. Drink!' shouted
Lukashka, just in the tone in which old Eroshka uttered the word.
'We'll go out into the street and make merry with the girls. You
go and get some honey; or no, I'll send our dumb wench. We'll make
merry till morning.'

Nazarka smiled.

'Are we stopping here long?' he asked.

Till we've had a bit of fun. Run and get some vodka. Here's the
money.'

Nazarka ran off obediently to get the vodka from Yamka's.

Daddy Eroshka and Ergushov, like birds of prey, scenting where the
merry-making was going on, tumbled into the hut one after the
other, both tipsy.

'Bring us another half-pail,' shouted Lukashka to his mother, by
way of reply to their greeting.

'Now then, tell us where did you steal them, you devil?' shouted
Eroshka. 'Fine fellow, I'm fond of you!'

'Fond indeed...' answered Lukashka laughing, 'carrying sweets from
cadets to lasses! Eh, you old...'

'That's not true, not true! ... Oh, Mark,' and the old man burst
out laughing. 'And how that devil begged me. "Go," he said, "and
arrange it." He offered me a gun! But no. I'd have managed it, but
I feel for you. Now tell us where have you been?' And the old man
began speaking in Tartar.

Lukashka answered him promptly.

Ergushov, who did not know much Tartar, only occasionally put in a
word in Russian: 'What I say is he's driven away the horses. I
know it for a fact,' he chimed in.

'Girey and I went together.' (His speaking of Girey Khan as
'Girey' was, to the Cossack mind, evidence of his boldness.) 'Just
beyond the river he kept bragging that he knew the whole of the
steppe and would lead the way straight, but we rode on and the
night was dark, and my Girey lost his way and began wandering in a
circle without getting anywhere: couldn't find the village, and
there we were. We must have gone too much to the right. I believe
we wandered about well--nigh till midnight. Then, thank goodness,
we heard dogs howling.'

'Fools!' said Daddy Eroshka. 'There now, we too used to lose our
way in the steppe. (Who the devil can follow it?) But I used to
ride up a hillock and start howling like the wolves, like this!'
He placed his hands before his mouth, and howled like a pack of
wolves, all on one note. 'The dogs would answer at once ... Well,
go on--so you found them?'

'We soon led them away! Nazarka was nearly caught by some Nogay
women, he was!'

'Caught indeed,' Nazarka, who had just come back, said in an
injured tone.

'We rode off again, and again Girey lost his way and almost landed
us among the sand-drifts. We thought we were just getting to the
Terek but we were riding away from it all the time!'

'You should have steered by the stars,' said Daddy Eroshka.

'That's what I say,' interjected Ergushov,

'Yes, steer when all is black; I tried and tried all about... and
at last I put the bridle on one of the mares and let my own horse
go free--thinking he'll lead us out, and what do you think! he
just gave a snort or two with his nose to the ground, galloped
ahead, and led us straight to our village. Thank goodness! It was
getting quite light. We barely had time to hide them in the
forest. Nagim came across the river and took them away.'

Ergushov shook his head. 'It's just what I said. Smart. Did you
get much for them?'

'It's all here,' said Lukashka, slapping his pocket.

Just then his mother came into the room, and Lukashka did not
finish what he was saying.

'Drink!' he shouted.

'We too, Girich and I, rode out late one night...' began Eroshka.

'Oh bother, we'll never hear the end of you!' said Lukashka. 'I am
going.' And having emptied his cup and tightened the strap of his
belt he went out.

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It was already dark when Lukashka went out into the street. Theautumn night was fresh and calm. The full golden moon floated upbehind the tall dark poplars that grew on one side of the square.From the chimneys of the outhouses smoke rose and spread above thevillage, mingling with the mist. Here and there lights shonethrough the windows, and the air was laden with the smell ofkisyak, grape-pulp, and mist. The sounds of voices, laughter,songs, and the cracking of seeds mingled just as they had done inthe daytime, but were now more distinct. Clusters of whitekerchiefs and caps gleamed through the darkness
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Just then two men rode out of the side street into the square. Oneof them was Nazarka. The other, Lukashka, sat slightly sideways onhis well-fed bay Kabarda horse which stepped lightly over the hardroad jerking its beautiful head with its fine glossy mane. Thewell-adjusted gun in its cover, the pistol at his back, and thecloak rolled up behind his saddle showed that Lukashka had notcome from a peaceful place or from one near by. The smart way inwhich he sat a little sideways on his horse, the careless motionwith which he touched the horse under its belly with his whip, andespecially
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