Boris Godunov

by Alexsander Pushkin

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The PRETENDER, surrounded by his supporters

   PRETENDER. Where is the prisoner?

   A POLE.                         Here.

   PRETENDER. Call him before me.

   (A Russian prisoner enters.)

   Who art thou?

   PRISONER.   Rozhnov, a nobleman of Moscow.

   PRETENDER. Hast long been in the service?

   PRISONER.                               About a month.

   PRETENDER. Art not ashamed, Rozhnov, that thou hast drawn
   The sword against me?

   PRISONER.           What else could I do?
   'Twas not our fault.

   PRETENDER.         Didst fight beneath the walls
   Of Seversk?

   PRISONER. 'Twas two weeks after the battle
   I came from Moscow.

   PRETENDER.        What of Godunov?

   PRISONER. The battle's loss, Mstislavsky's wound, hath caused him
   Much apprehension; Shuisky he hath sent
   To take command.

   PRETENDER.     But why hath he recalled
   Basmanov unto Moscow?

   PRISONER.           The tsar rewarded
   His services with honour and with gold.
   Basmanov in the council of the tsar
   Now sits.

   PRETENDER. The army had more need of him.
   Well, how go things in Moscow?

   PRISONER.                    All is quiet,
   Thank God.

   PRETENDER. Say, do they look for me?

   PRISONER.                          God knows;
   They dare not talk too much there now. Of some
   The tongues have been cut off, of others even
   The heads. It is a fearsome state of things—
   Each day an execution. All the prisons
   Are crammed. Wherever two or three forgather
   In public places, instantly a spy
   Worms himself in; the tsar himself examines
   At leisure the denouncers. It is just
   Sheer misery; so silence is the best.

   PRETENDER. An enviable life for the tsar's people!
   Well, how about the army?

   PRISONER.               What of them?
   Clothed and full-fed they are content with all.

   PRETENDER. But is there much of it?

   PRISONER.                         God knows.

   PRETENDER.                          All told
   Will there be thirty thousand?

   PRISONER.                    Yes; 'twill run
   Even to fifty thousand.

   (The Pretender reflects; those around him glance at
   one another.)

   PRETENDER.            Well! Of me
   What say they in your camp?

   PRISONER.                 Your graciousness
   They speak of; say that thou, Sire, (be not wrath),
   Art a thief, but a fine fellow.

   PRETENDER. (Laughing.)        Even so
   I'll prove myself to them in deed. My friends,
   We will not wait for Shuisky; I wish you joy;
   Tomorrow, battle.


   ALL.            Long life to Dimitry!

   A POLE. Tomorrow, battle! They are fifty thousand,
   And we scarce fifteen thousand. He is mad!

   ANOTHER. That's nothing, friend. A single Pole can challenge
   Five hundred Muscovites.

   PRISONER.              Yes, thou mayst challenge!
   But when it comes to fighting, then, thou braggart,
   Thou'lt run away.

   POLE.           If thou hadst had a sword,
   Insolent prisoner, then (pointing to his sword) with this I'd soon
   Have vanquished thee.

   PRISONER.           A Russian can make shift
   Without a sword; how like you this (shows his fist), you fool?

   (The Pole looks at him haughtily and departs in
   silence. All laugh.)


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