Page:The Czar, A Tale of the Time of the First Napleon.djvu/52

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42
IVAN'S HORIZON WIDENS.

again to pale. At last he said, "Bativshka, I will do what you think I ought."

"Then, dear child, you will go from us; for like should ever dwell with like."

But the old foster-mother lifted up her voice in lamentation, mingling her tears for her "little dove," her nursling, her treasure, with regrets that his shirts were not in order, that the new socks they had been knitting for him in the winter were not finished, and that his boots wanted mending.

"We will see to all that in the city, good mother," said Petrovitch, unable to repress a smile, as he pictured the extraodinary transformation Ivan's outer man would have to undergo before he could take his pleasure in the Kremlin gardens with the élite of Moscow society.

Hospitality is a plant that nourishes luxuriantly in Russian soil, and seems to find the smoky atmosphere of the izba as congenial as the clearer air of the palace. It was with great difficulty that Petrovitch could fix his departure for the next day but one; but a single day of rest for himself and of preparation for Ivan was all that the starost's importunities could obtain from him, since he knew his father's anxiety about the result of his mission.

That evening, in the starost's cottage, there was much baking of wheaten bread, of cakes called kissel, and of greasy, indigestible pastry called pirogua. There was also a great slaughter,—a sheep, a couple of sucking pigs, and quite a multitude of fowls were sacrificed on the altar of hospitality; for the whole of Nicolofsky would no doubt assist at the festival of the next day, not in the French, but in the English sense of the word. Huge buckets of kvass were of course prepared; and it might have been better if this harmless beverage had not been supplemented by a plentiful supply of vodka.

Next day began, not unworthily, with a service in the church, a kind of farewell to Ivan and compliment to Petrovitch. But