Page:The Czar, A Tale of the Time of the First Napleon.djvu/20

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
10
A SLEEPING VILLAGE.

of his native granite. Evidently this was not by any means their first quarrel.

"Hold thy peace, one-eared Michael," Ivan answered at last. "I tell thee Anna wants me to swing her—me, and not thee."

"Let her say so, then. Is that true, Anna Popovna? Didst thou not promise me yesterday, after church, that I should swing thee to-day—I, and no one else?"

Thus appealed to, the little girl behaved very like a grown-up daughter of Eve. She pouted, blushed, stammered, and seemed to hesitate between her two cavaliers, neither of whom she wished to offend. At length she said, "If you wanted so much to swing me, why were you not here in time, Michael Ivanovitch?"

"Easy for those who have naught to do to blame those who work hard. I had water to fetch and wood to cut for the mother," said Michael, the widow's son.

"Well, it was a pity, since you stayed away so long, that you did not stay altogether, and leave us in peace," Anna rejoined in a pettish tone.

This exasperated Michael, and not without reason, if all were told. "You did not say that to me, Anna Popovna," he cried, "when I went to seek you in the snowstorm, you and your brother the Popovitch, and lost my left ear to save you." Then he turned fiercely upon Ivan, as upon a foe more worthy of his wrath: "It is all your fault, Ivan Barrinka. I am quite tired of you and of your pride. Lord though you may be, you shall not lord it over me. And, after all, who knows who and what you are? I'm sure I don't. Do you know yourself? Answer me that. Whose son are you?"

"It is you who are proud, Michael Ivanovitch. Since that wonderful snowstorm you were out in there has been no bearing with you. One would think, from the airs you give yourself, that no one ever had an ear frozen before."

By this time the loud voices had attracted the attention of