Page:The Czar, A Tale of the Time of the First Napleon.djvu/59

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49
PETROVICH.

except the great arm-chair at the upper end and the venerable figure of its occupant. "My father," said the younger Petrovitch, as he gently placed the boy directly in front of him, "I have brought thee our little lord."

The old man rose slowly from his chair, leaning upon his staff. His hair was white as snow, and so was the beard which reached nearly down to his waist. His large, dark eyes, once so full of fire, were dim with age, but an ardent soul glanced forth from them even yet, and they had, moreover, a wistful, pathetic look, as if seeking the light which was fading from them. "God be gracious to thee, Prince Ivan Ivanovitch Pojarsky," he said solemnly, laying his hand on the young fair head which was bowed before him in instinctive reverence. Then he kissed the boy, and having seated himself once more in his chair, drew him close and examined his features. "Like his grandfather, my dear friend and master," he said at last.

It was evident, from the silence which followed, that thoughts of other days came crowding fast upon the old man's memory. But he soon aroused himself from his reverie to bid Ivan welcome to Moscow, and to commend him to the care of the members of his family who had gathered around them.

These now came forward, drew Ivan gently away, and lavished upon him every kindness and attention that could be devised. He was charmed with his new friends, and quickly and easily took his place as the honoured guest of the great heterogeneous household united beneath the roof of its venerable head. There were sons and sons' sons, daughters-in-law and grand-daughters, and quite a tribe of servants, forming altogether a little clan rather than a family. This large household had all the necessaries of life in abundance, and many of its luxuries, though only such as the old Muscovite manners and traditions fully sanctioned. For Petrovitch was an autocrat in his own house, though usually a just and generous one. Woe to the son or grandson of his who should presume to