A Hero of Our Time Part 3

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"TELL me, what became of Kazb.i.+.c.h?" I asked the staff-captain impatiently.

"Why, what can happen to that sort of a fellow?" he answered, finis.h.i.+ng his tumbler of tea. "He slipped away, of course."

"And wasn't he wounded?" I asked.

"Goodness only knows! Those scoundrels take a lot of killing! In action, for instance, I've seen many a one, sir, stuck all over with bayonets like a sieve, and still brandis.h.i.+ng his sabre."

After an interval of silence the staff-captain continued, tapping the ground with his foot:

"One thing I'll never forgive myself for. On our arrival at the fortress the devil put it into my head to repeat to Grigori Aleksandrovich all that I had heard when I was eavesdropping behind the fence. He laughed--cunning fellow!--and thought out a little plan of his own."

"What was that? Tell me, please."

"Well, there's no help for it now, I suppose. I've begun the story, and so I must continue.

"In about four days' time Azamat rode over to the fortress. As his usual custom was, he went to see Grigori Aleksandrovich, who always used to give him sweetmeats to eat. I was present. The conversation was on the subject of horses, and Pechorin began to sound the praises of Kazb.i.+.c.h's Karagyoz. What a mettlesome horse it was, and how handsome! A perfect chamois! In fact, judging by his account, there simply wasn't another like it in the whole world!

"The young Tartar's beady eyes began to sparkle, but Pechorin didn't seem to notice the fact. I started to talk about something else, but immediately, mark you, Pechorin caused the conversation to strike off on to Kazb.i.+.c.h's horse. Every time that Azamat came it was the same story.

After about three weeks, I began to observe that Azamat was growing pale and wasted, just as people in novels do from love, sir. What wonder either!...

"Well, you see, it was not until afterwards that I learned the whole trick--Grigori Aleksandrovich exasperated Azamat to such an extent with his teasing that the boy was ready even to drown himself. One day Pechorin suddenly broke out with:

"'I see, Azamat, that you have taken a desperate fancy to that horse of Kazb.i.+.c.h's, but you'll no more see him than you will the back of your neck! Come, tell me, what would you give if somebody made you a present of him?'

"'Anything he wanted,' answered Azamat.

"'In that case I will get the horse for you, only on one condition...

Swear that you will fulfil it?'

"'I swear. You swear too!'

"'Very well! I swear that the horse shall be yours. But, in return, you must deliver your sister Bela into my hands. Karagyoz shall be her bridegroom's gift. I hope the transaction will be a profitable one for you.'

"Azamat remained silent.

"'Won't you? Well, just as you like! I thought you were a man, but it seems you are still a child; it is early for you to be riding on horseback!'

"Azamat fired up.

"'But my father--' he said.

"'Does he never go away, then?'

"'True.'

"'You agree?'

"'I agree,' whispered Azamat, pale as death. 'But when?'

"'The first time Kazb.i.+.c.h rides over here. He has promised to drive in half a score of rams; the rest is my affair. Look out, then, Azamat!'

"And so they settled the business--a bad business, to tell the truth!

I said as much to Pechorin afterwards, but he only answered that a wild Circa.s.sian girl ought to consider herself fortunate in having such a charming husband as himself--because, according to their ideas, he really was her husband--and that Kazb.i.+.c.h was a scoundrel, and ought to be punished. Judge for yourself, what could I say to that?... At the time, however, I knew nothing of their conspiracy. Well, one day Kazb.i.+.c.h rode up and asked whether we needed any rams and honey; and I ordered him to bring some the next day.

"'Azamat!' said Grigori Aleksandrovich; 'to-morrow Karagyoz will be in my hands; if Bela is not here to-night you will never see the horse.'..

"'Very well,' said Azamat, and galloped to the village.

"In the evening Grigori Aleksandrovich armed himself and rode out of the fortress. How they settled the business I don't know, but at night they both returned, and the sentry saw that across Azamat's saddle a woman was lying, bound hand and foot and with her head wrapped in a veil."

"And the horse?" I asked the staff-captain.

"One minute! One minute! Early next morning Kazb.i.+.c.h rode over, driving in half a score of rams for sale. Tethering his horse by the fence, he came in to see me, and I regaled him with tea, for, robber though he was, he was none the less my guest-friend.

"We began to chat about one thing and another... Suddenly I saw Kazb.i.+.c.h start, change countenance, and dart to the window; but unfortunately the window looked on to the back courtyard.

"'What is the matter with you?' I asked.

"'My horse!... My horse!' he cried, all of a tremble.

"As a matter of fact I heard the clattering of hoofs.

"'It is probably some Cossack who has ridden up.'

"'No! Urus--yaman, yaman!' [151] he roared, and rushed headlong away like a wild panther. In two bounds he was in the courtyard; at the gate of the fortress the sentry barred the way with his gun; Kazb.i.+.c.h jumped over the gun and dashed off at a run along the road... Dust was whirling in the distance--Azamat was galloping away on the mettlesome Karagyoz.

Kazb.i.+.c.h, as he ran, tore his gun out of its cover and fired. For a moment he remained motionless, until he had a.s.sured himself that he had missed. Then he uttered a shrill cry, knocked the gun against a rock, smashed it to splinters, fell to the ground, and burst out sobbing like a child... The people from the fortress gathered round him, but he took no notice of anyone. They stood there talking awhile and then went back.

I ordered the money for the rams to be placed beside him. He didn't touch it, but lay with his face to the ground like a dead man. Would you believe it? He remained lying like that throughout the rest of that day and the following night! It was only on the next morning that he came to the fortress and proceeded to ask that the name of the thief should be told him. The sentry who had observed Azamat untying the horse and galloping away on him did not see any necessity for concealment. At the name of Azamat, Kazb.i.+.c.h's eyes flashed, and he set off to the village where Azamat's father lived." === "And what about the father?"

"Ah, that was where the trick came in! Kazb.i.+.c.h could not find him; he had gone away somewhere for five or six days; otherwise, how could Azamat have succeeded in carrying off Bela?

"And, when the father returned, there was neither daughter nor son to be found. A wily rogue, Azamat! He understood, you see, that he would lose his life if he was caught. So, from that time, he was never seen again; probably he joined some gang of Abreks and laid down his turbulent life on the other side of the Terek or the Kuban. It would have served him right!"...

CHAPTER V

"I CONFESS that, for my part, I had trouble enough over the business.

So soon as ever I learned that the Circa.s.sian girl was with Grigori Aleksandrovich, I put on my epaulettes and sword and went to see him.

"He was lying on the bed in the outer room, with one hand under his head and the other holding a pipe which had gone out. The door leading to the inner room was locked, and there was no key in the lock. I observed all that in a moment... I coughed and rapped my heels against the threshold, but he pretended not to hear.

"'Ensign!' I said, as sternly as I could. 'Do you not see that I have come to you?'

"'Ah, good morning, Maksim Maksimych! Won't you have a pipe?' he answered, without rising.

"'Excuse me, I am not Maksim Maksimych. I am the staff-captain.'

"'It's all the same! Won't you have some tea? If you only knew how I am being tortured with anxiety.'

A Hero of Our Time Part 3

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A Hero of Our Time Part 3 summary

You're reading A Hero of Our Time Part 3. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Mikhail Yurevich Lermontov already has 205 views.

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