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Historical Episode, An

Ivan Ivanovich Susanin (that same historical personage who laid down his life for the tsar and was subsequently extolled by Glinka's opera) once went into a Russian hostelry and, having sat down at a table, ordered himself an entrecote. While the hostelry host grilled the entrecote, Ivan Ivanovich snatched at his beard with his teeth and fell to thinking, as was his wont.
Thirty-five poles of time elapsed and mine host brought Ivan Ivanovich his entrecote on a round wooden platter. Ivan Ivanovich was hungry and, as was the custom of the time, grabbed the entrecote with his hands and began to eat it. But, in his haste to satisfy his hunger, Ivan Ivanovich fell upon the entrecote so greedily that he forgot to pull his beard out of his mouth and consumed along with the entrecote a clump of his own beard.
And hereby arose great unpleasantness, as not fifteen poles of time had elapsed when a powerful gripe attacked Ivan Ivanovich's stomach. Ivan Ivanovich leaped up from the table and charged into the yard. Mine host began shouting to Ivan Ivanovich: -- Lo, what a tufty beard you have. -- But Ivan Ivanovich, paying no attention to anything, ran on into the yard.
Then the boyar Kovshegub, sitting in a corner of the hostelry drinking malt liquor, banged his fist on the table and yelled: -- Who be he?
And mine host, bowing low, answered the boyar: he be our patriot Ivan Ivanovich Susanin.
-- You don't say -- said the boyar, drinking up his malt liquor.
-- Care for a bit of fish? -- asked mine host.
-- Frig thee off! -- shouted the boyar and loosed a ladle at mine host. The ladle whistled past the head of mine host, flew out the window to the yard and smashed Ivan Ivanovich, sitting there in eagle-like pose, right in the teeth. Ivan Ivanovich clutched at his cheek with one hand and rolled on his side.
At this point Karp ran out of the stables on the right and, jumping over a trough in which, amid the slops, lay a pig, with a yell ran off towards the gates. Mine host looked out from the hostelry. -- What are you bawling for? -- he asked Karp. But Karp, not answering at all, ran away.
Mine host went out to the yard and spotted Susanin lying motionless on the ground. Mine host approached closer and looked him in the face. Susanin stared back at mine host.
-- So, be you in one piece? -- asked mine host.
-- One piece, yea, but I'm worried what might clobber me next -- said Susanin.
-- No -- said mine host -- don't worry. It were the boyar Kovshegub who half killed you, but he's gorn now.
-- Well, thankee God for that! -- said Ivan Susanin, getting up off the ground. -- A valiant man I may be, but I don't care to risk my guts for nowt. So I hugged the ground and waited: what next? First sign, and I'd have crawled right off on my guts all the way to Yeldyrin Dwellings... Ee-eek, what a swollen cheek. Oh my gawd! Half me beard's torn off!
-- Oh, ye were like that before -- said mine host.
-- What d'yer mean it were like it before? -- screamed the patriot Susanin. -- What, you reckon I go around so, with a tufty beard?
-- Aye, so -- said mine host.
-- Oh, a pox on you -- muttered Ivan Susanin.
Mine host narrowed his eyes and, arms aflail, he sailed into Susanin and took a swing across his ear. The patriot Susanin collapsed and did not move an inch. -- Take that! Pox yourself -- said mine host and retired within his hostelry.
For a few notches of time Susanin lay on the ground just listening but, hearing nothing suspicious, he cautiously raised his head and took stock. There was no one in the yard, unless we count the pig, which, having scrambled out of the trough, was now rolling in a filthy puddle. Ivan Susanin, with occasional backward glances, stealthily approached the gates. Luckily the gates were open and the patriot Ivan Susanin, writhing wormlike over the ground, crawled off in the direction of Yeldyrin Dwellings.
Here then is an episode from the life of the celebrated personage who laid down his life for the tsar and was subsequently extolled in Glinka's opera.