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It does not need much wisdom to utter words of reproof; but much wisdom is needed to find such words as do not embitter a man's misfortune, but encourage him, restore to him his spirit, put spurs to the horse of his soul, refreshed by water. I meant myself to speak words of comfort to you, but Kukubenko has forestalled me."
There were likewise many brave Cossacks among those who preferred to remain, including the kuren hetmans, Demitrovitch, Kukubenko, Vertikhvist, Balan, and Ostap Bulba.
"We choose Kukubenko," shouted some. "We won't have Kukubenko!" screamed another party: "he is too young; the milk has not dried off his lips yet." "Let Schilo be hetman!" shouted some: "make Schilo our Koschevoi!" "Away with your Schilo!" yelled the crowd; "what kind of a Cossack is he who is as thievish as a Tatar? To the devil in a sack with your drunken Schilo!"
Attack them in the rear, Kukubenko and Palivod! Check them, break them!" The Cossacks attacked on all sides, throwing the Lyakhs into confusion and getting confused themselves. They did not even give the foe time to fire, it came to swords and spears at once. All fought hand to hand, and each man had an opportunity to distinguish himself.
As the hail suddenly beats down a field where every ear of grain shines like purest gold, so were they beaten down. How the Cossacks hastened thither! How they all started up! How raged Kukubenko, the hetman, when he saw that the best half of his kuren was no more!
And Taras Bulba, who stood not far from the Koschevoi, said: "How now, Koschevoi? Kukubenko has spoken truth. What have you to say to this?" "What have I to say? I say, Blessed be the father of such a son!
Many heads and hands did he hew off; and slew Kobita by sending a bullet through his temple. "There's a man I should like to measure strength with!" shouted Kukubenko, the hetman of the Nezamaikovsky kuren. Spurring his horse, he dashed straight at the Pole's back, shouting loudly, so that all who stood near shuddered at the unearthly yell.
The short colonel beat the assembly, and ordered eight painted standards to be displayed to collect his men, who were scattered over all the plain. All the Lyakhs hastened to the standards. But they had not yet succeeded in ranging themselves in order, when the hetman Kukubenko attacked their centre again with his Nezamaikovtzi and fell straight upon the stout colonel.
Kukubenko, taking his heavy sword in both hands, thrust it through his mouth. The sword, breaking out two teeth, cut the tongue in twain, pierced the windpipe, and penetrated deep into the earth, nailing him to the ground. His noble blood, red as viburnum berries beside the river, welled forth in a stream staining his yellow, gold-embroidered caftan.
Cossacks, Cossacks! abandon not the flower of your army. Already was Kukubenko surrounded, and seven men only remained of all the Nezamaikovsky kuren, exhausted and with garments already stained with their blood. Taras himself, perceiving their straits, hastened to their rescue; but the Cossacks arrived too late.