Page:The Czar, A Tale of the Time of the First Napleon.djvu/34

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24
IVAN'S ADVENTURE.

"Give the little one a taste, mother," they said. "Poor child, he is ready to faint."

It was to the honour of the people of Nicolofsky that, though themselves no patterns of sobriety, they had at least kept the destroyer from the young lips of their nursling. Ivan turned from the fiery beverage with loathing, and asked for kvass. "Here is no kvass," said the old woman roughly. "No man would be fool enough to drink it who could get vodka. But you can have water, if you like."

With this he was content. He wrapped himself up in his shuba, lay down beside the fire in the shed, and was soon fast asleep; while the mujiks sat outside talking, laughing, singing, and drinking vodka.