On a hot summer day, Yermolay and I returned from the hunt for a cart. Having stopped in the thick undergrowth of bushes, we decided to hunt for grouse. After the first shot, the driver approached us and asked what right I was hunting here. Looking at it, I realized that I had never seen anything like it. He was small, blond, with a red snub nose, long red hair and pale blue glass eyes that ran like a drunk. His forehead was covered with a pointed Persian hat on his brow, a horn hung over his shoulder, and a dagger protruded behind his belt. He sat on a stunted red horse. The whole being of the stranger was breathing with extravagant courage and excessive pride.
Finding out that I am a nobleman, he graciously allowed me to hunt and introduced himself as Pantelei Chertopkhanov. After
These friends aroused my curiosity. That’s what I learned about them. Pantelei Yeremeyich Chertopkhanov was a man of danger and extravagance, a proud and a bully. Very briefly he served in the army and retired “for trouble.” He came from an old, once rich, family. His father, Eremey Lukich, left to the heir the mortgaged village of Bessonovo, when he went to the nineteenth year. Quite unexpectedly, Pantelei, from a rich heir, turned into a poor man. He became wild, hardened and turned into a proud and a bully, who ceased to know his neighbors and, on the slightest occasion, offered to be cut on knives.
Father Nedopyuskina left the one-man villagers and achieved service with the forty-year service of the nobility. He belonged to the number of people who are constantly beset by misfortune, and died without earning the children a piece of bread. Even during his lifetime, his father managed to arrange Tikhon a supernumerary official in the chancery, but after his death, Tikhon retired. Tikhon was a sensitive, lazy, soft, gifted delicate sense of smell and taste designed for pleasure. Fate was scouring them all over Russia. Tikhon was also a majordomo at a quarrelsome lady, and a freeloader from a rich miser-merchant, and half-butler-half-joke of a dog hunter. This post was even more painful because Tikhon had no gift to make people laugh.
The last of the benefactors left Tikhon by testament to the village of Besselendeevka. During the reading of the will over Tikhon, one of the heirs began to mock. From this humiliating position, he was saved by Chertopkhanov, who was also a heir. Since that day, they no longer parted. Tikhon reverenced the fearless and disinterested Chertopkhanov.
A few days later I went to the village of Bessonovo to Panteley Yeremeyich. His small house was sticking out in a bare place, like a hawk on a plowed field. After chatting with me and showing his pack of greyhounds, Chertopkhanov called Masha. She turned out to be a beautiful woman of about 20, tall and slender, with a gypsy swarthy face, brown eyes, a black scythe and a face expressing a willful passion and carefree daring. Chertopkhanov presented her as “almost a wife”. Masha took the guitar, and after half an hour we chatted and played like children. Late in the evening I left Bessonov.