Page:The Czar, A Tale of the Time of the First Napleon.djvu/41

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31
SOMETHING WONDERFUL HAPPENS TO IVAN.

whatever they were directed to do, while the rest looked on in a kind of wondering stupefaction. How could even a boyar expect to bring a dead man to life?

After a considerable time had been spent in this manner, the whole party from the post-house came up, boyars and servants, all on horseback. Instead of calling upon their companion to join them, as Ivan rather expected them to do, the boyars at once dismounted and joined him, leaving their horses on the road in the care of the servants. One of these drew near Ivan, and attempted to take his charge from him ; but he resisted.

"No," he said. "My boyar's hand gave this bridle into mine, and into no other but his will I give it back again."

"Let the boy alone, Ilya," cried another of the attendants, with a good-humoured laugh. "Let him keep his luck. It may not come twice in his life-time."

After that Ivan could not so easily see what was happening, though he watched intently and with the keenest interest. "His boyar" seemed to refer the matter, as to a person of superior authority, to a very tall, very stern-looking individual, who examined Stefen carefully, putting his hand on his heart and on his wrist. Presently, and rather to Ivan's horror, he drew from his pocket a sort of case, out of which there flashed a bright instrument of steel, like a thin sharp knife, and with this he proceeded to inflict a deep cut upon Stefen's arm; while, far from objecting, the young boyar carefully held it for him, and then produced a fine white kerchief of his own, which he gave him to bind the wound.[1]

But still the pale, cold form lay there stiff and motionless. Was it death? or was it only a death-like swoon? It was the nobles who were busy now, chafing the cold hands and feet, and using every other possible means to restore animation; for the peasants had given place to them, and stood aside, silent and wondering spectators of the scene.

  1. Of course this would not be done now. But the scene is given exactly as it occurred.