Page:Tolstoy - Tales from Tolstoi.djvu/156

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ales from Tolstoi

"Wait a bit," said he, "there's more to come yet!"

The rich muzhiks sat and drank their fill, and their host drank with them. They began to praise and flatter one another, and to speak false, oily words. The chief of the devils listened and listened. With this, too, he was very well satisfied.

"If this drink makes them all so foxy that they will try to swindle each other, the whole lot of them will very soon fall into our clutches!"

"Wait a bit," chuckled the little demon; "there's more to come yet. Only let them have another glass. At present they are foxes trying to get the better of one another; but in a few moments they will be wolves trying to do one another a mischief."

The muzhiks had another glass all round, and their language became coarse and snappish. Their words were no longer oily but rasping. At last they fell foul of each other, wrestled, fought, and knocked each other about. They told even their host to go to the devil, and knocked him about also.

This, too, the chief of the devils highly approved of. "Good! very good, indeed!" said he.

"Wait a bit," replied the little demon, "there's more to come yet! Stop till they've had a third glass! At present they are like ravening wolves, but let them have a third glass and you'll see them wallow about like swine!"

The muzhiks had a third glass, and became altogether maudlin. They gabbled and howled, and all talked together at the same time without knowing what they talked about. Then they set off home, some singly, others in twos or threes, and so they all