PRETENDER and PUSHKIN
(In the background lies a dying horse) PRETENDER. Ah, my poor horse! How gallantly he charged Today in the last battle, and when wounded, How swiftly bore me. My poor horse! PUSHKIN. (To himself.) Well, here's A great ado about a horse, when all Our army's smashed to bits. PRETENDER. Listen! Perhaps He's but exhausted by the loss of blood, And will recover. PUSHKIN. Nay, nay; he is dying. PRETENDER. (Goes to his horse.) My poor horse!—what to do? Take off the bridle, And loose the girth. Let him at least die free. (He unbridles and unsaddles the horse. Some Poles enter.) Good day to you, gentlemen! How is't I see not Kurbsky among you? I did note today How to the thick of the fight he clove his path; Around the hero's sword, like swaying ears Of corn, hosts thronged; but higher than all of them His blade was brandished, and his terrible cry Drowned all cries else. Where is my knight? POLE. He fell On the field of battle. PRETENDER. Honour to the brave, And peace be on his soul! How few unscathed Are left us from the fight! Accursed Cossacks, Traitors and miscreants, you, you it is Have ruined us! Not even for three minutes To keep the foe at bay! I'll teach the villains! Every tenth man I'll hang. Brigands! PUSHKIN. Whoe'er Be guilty, all the same we were clean worsted, Routed! PRETENDER. But yet we nearly conquered. Just When I had dealt with their front rank, the Germans Repulsed us utterly. But they're fine fellows! By God! Fine fellows! I love them for it. From them I'll form an honourable troop. PUSHKIN. And where Shall we now spend the night? PRETENDER. Why, here, in the forest. Why not this for our night quarters? At daybreak We'll take the road, and dine in Rilsk. Good night. (He lies down, puts a saddle under his head, and falls asleep.) PUSHKIN. A pleasant sleep, tsarevich! Smashed to bits, Rescued by flight alone, he is as careless As a simple child; 'tis clear that Providence Protects him, and we, my friends, will not lose heart.