Page:The Czar, A Tale of the Time of the First Napleon.djvu/43

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33
SOMETHING WONDERFUL HAPPENS TO IVAN.

to Ivan that his triumph over Michael would be complete and glorious. Michael assuredly had never seen a dead man brought to life again!

At last the great people seemed to be preparing to pursue their journey. Ivan watched "his boyar" as he talked for some time to the priest and the starost, who stood before him with uncovered heads and an air of the deepest reverence; then, seeing him look for his horse, he led his charge forward, and held the stirrup gracefully while he mounted. He got a word of praise for his "long patience," and a bright piece of gold glittered in his hand.

"Take me with you, my boyar," he cried, with a sudden impulse. "Let me serve you; I would love to do it."

"My child, you shall serve me one day not yet," said the boyar, smiling.

A few moments more, and the stately cavalcade had moved away. Ivan stood in silence, unable to withdraw his gaze from the retreating figure of his hero until it was lost in the distance.

The white-haired priest came up to him and laid his hand on his shoulder. "My lad," he said, "do you know who has spoken to you—whose horse you have had the honour of holding?"

"Yes," said Ivan, wakening out of a dream; "no—yes—at least I know it was a boyar, a great, and good, and splendid boyar, with the face of an angel. I love him!"

"Then pray for him all the days of thy life, for know that he is none other than thy sovereign lord and mine, the Czar Alexander Paulovitch."

Ivan stared, then burst out laughing. " You are jesting with me," he said. "Nay, father, I am only a boy, but I know better than that. I am quite twelve years old, and I know very well that the Czar lives in St. Petersburg, and wears a golden crown, and sits upon a throne, and all the boyars stand uncovered around him."