'Well, did you tell your wife not to give the cooper any vodka? he began in the same loud tone, quite convinced that Nikita must feel flattered to be talking with so clever and important a person as himself, and he was so pleased with his jest that it did not enter his head that the remark might be unpleasant to Nikita. The wind again prevented Nikita's hearing his master's words.
The wind came from the left, insistently blowing over to one side the mane on Mukhorty's sleek neck and carrying aside even his fluffy tail, which was tied in a simple knot. Nikita's wide coat-collar, as he sat on the windy side, pressed close to his cheek and nose. 'This road doesn't give him a chance it's too snowy, said Vasili Andreevich, who prided himself on his good horse.
And when saying this Vasili Andreevich was honestly convinced that he was Nikita's benefactor, and he knew how to put it so plausibly that all those who depended on him for their money, beginning with Nikita, confirmed him in the conviction that he was their benefactor and did not overreach them. 'Yes, I understand, Vasili Andreevich.
Having done that, and tethered him to the iron cramp at the front of the sledge where he had been before, he was going round the horse's quarters to put the breechband and pad straight and cover him with the cloth, but at that moment he noticed that something was moving in the sledge and Nikita's head rose up out of the snow that covered it.
After pushing the skirts of his coat between Nikita and the sides of the sledge, and holding down its hem with his knees, Vasili Andreevich lay like that face down, with his head pressed against the front of the sledge. Here he no longer heard the horse's movements or the whistling of the wind, but only Nikita's breathing.
The sun had set, and the night grew each moment darker. Our artist ordered Nikíta to bring a candle. "There are no candles," was Nikíta's reply. "How! no candles?" "There were none yesterday," said Nikíta. Tchartkóff remembered that there had been none the night before, and that his credit with the tallow-chandler was not such as to render it probable a supply had been sent in that morning.
When you've had a bite you'll feel more cheerful. But Mukhorty was restless and evidently not comforted by Nikita's remarks. He stepped now on one foot and now on another, and pressed close against the sledge, turning his back to the wind and rubbing his head on Nikita's sleeve.
Then, turning to the old master of the house and bowing first to him, then to all those at table, then to the women who stood by the oven, and muttering: 'A merry holiday! he began taking off his outer things without looking at the table. 'Why, you're all covered with hoar-frost, old fellow! said the eldest brother, looking at Nikita's snow-covered face, eyes, and beard.
'Whoa, whoa, whoa! he said to himself as he fell, and he tried to stop his fall but could not, and only stopped when his feet plunged into a thick layer of snow that had drifted to the bottom of the hollow. The fringe of a drift of snow that hung on the edge of the hollow, disturbed by Nikita's fall, showered down on him and got inside his collar.
He had never been a coward; but his imagination and nerves were sensitive, and that evening he could not explain his involuntary fear. He seated himself in one corner, but even then it seemed to him that some one was peeping over his shoulder into his face. Even Nikita's snores, resounding from the ante-room, did not chase away his fear.