Taras Bulba and Other Tales
"Turn round, my boy! How ridiculous you look! What sort of a priest's cassock have you
got on? Does everybody at the academy dress like that?"
With such words did old Bulba greet his two sons, who had been absent for their
education at the Royal Seminary of Kief, and had now returned home to their father.
His sons had but just dismounted from their horses. They were a couple of stout lads who
still looked bashful, as became youths recently released from the seminary. Their firm
healthy faces were covered with the first down of manhood, down which had, as yet,
never known a razor. They were greatly discomfited by such a reception from their
father, and stood motionless with eyes fixed upon the ground.
"Stand still, stand still! let me have a good look at you," he continued, turning them
around. "How long your gaberdines are! What gaberdines! There never were such
gaberdines in the world before. Just run, one of you! I want to see whether you will not
get entangled in the skirts, and fall down."
"Don't laugh, don't laugh, father!" said the eldest lad at length.
"How touchy we are! Why shouldn't I laugh?"
"Because, although you are my father, if you laugh, by heavens, I will strike you!"
"What kind of son are you? what, strike your father!" exclaimed Taras Bulba, retreating
several paces in amazement.
"Yes, even my father. I don't stop to consider persons when an insult is in question."
"So you want to fight me? with your fist, eh?"
"Well, let it be fisticuffs," said Taras Bulba, turning up his sleeves. "I'll see what sort of a
man you are with your fists."
And father and son, in lieu of a pleasant greeting after long separation, began to deal each
other heavy blows on ribs, back, and chest, now retreating and looking at each other, now
"Look, good people! the old man has gone man! he has lost his senses completely!"
screamed their pale, ugly, kindly mother, who was standing on the threshold, and had not