Hetman Ostranitza, young, but firm in mind, led the vast Cossack force. Beside him was seen his old and experienced friend and counsellor, Gunya. Eight leaders led bands of twelve thousand men each. Two osauls and a bunchuzhniy assisted the hetman.
And he reflected for a couple of minutes, whether he should fling him to the wolves for prey, or respect in him the bravery which every brave man is bound to honour in another, no matter whom? Then he saw Golopuitenko galloping towards them and crying: "Woe, hetman, the Lyakhs have been reinforced, a fresh force has come to their rescue!"
"I tore myself away from this mad scene. It was six o'clock. On the Rue de Bac, I hailed a cab on its mad career. "'Twenty francs tip, I said to the coachman, 'if you get to the Gare de Lyon in time for the Marseilles train, six thirty-seven." The Hetman of Jitomir could say no more. He had rolled over on the cushions and slept with clenched fists. I walked unsteadily to the great window.
Pursued by the King of Naples, he was beating a retreat, when a ball reached one of the officers beside him, on which event the hetman was so much irritated against his magician that he had him flogged in presence of all his hordes, reproaching him most bitterly because he had not turned away the balls by his witchcraft.
"One card makes up for another," he added coldly. "I double," said the Hetman. Cacambo and Aguida followed his example. On our side, we were more careful. The manicure especially would not risk more than twenty francs at a time. "I demand that the cards be evened up," said Koukou imperturbably. "This fellow is unbearable," grumbled the count. "There, are you satisfied?"
A cornet-general carried the chief standard, whilst many other banners and standards floated in the air; and the comrades of the staff bore the golden staff of the hetman, the symbol of his office. There were also many other officials belonging to the different bands, the baggage train and the main force with detachments of infantry and cavalry.
"Nothing can give you any idea of the fever I was in from the day when the Hetman of Jitomir told me of his adventures to the day when I found myself in the presence of Antinea. The strangest part was that the thought that I was, in a way, condemned to death, did not enter into this fever.
If only I had never promised his Majesty the Emperor Napoleon II never to cut fives! There are times when it is hard, very hard. And look at that beast of a Negro who plays Charlemagne." It was true. Koukou swept in three-quarters of the chips, rose with dignity, and bowed to the company. "Till to-morrow, gentlemen." "Get along, the whole pack of you," howled the Hetman of Jitomir.
He was born as an ordinary Cossack in the Don province, and took part in the Prussian campaign, at first as a paid soldier of Prussia, later as an adherent of the Czar. At the bombardment of Bender he had become a Cossack hetman.
I felt at once a certain liking for the Hetman of Jitomir who was a perfect example of an old beau. He had magnificent whiskers, also chocolate-colored, in the style of the Emperor Francis Joseph. His nose was undeniably a little red, but so fine, so aristocratic. His hands were marvelous.