"It will have, for this year at least, to be kept without you." Seating himself on the sand, the old soldier lit his pipe and growled: "What cowards you all are! The bank was only fifteen sazheni from us, yet you ran as though possessed!" "With you yourself as leader," put in Mokei. The old soldier took no notice, but added: "What were you all afraid of?
Twenty sazheni below the icebreaker was a gang of barefooted sailors, engaged in hacking out the floes from under their barges; and as they shattered the brittle, greyish-blue crust on the river, the mattocks rang out, and the sharp blades of the icecutters gleamed as they thrust the broken fragments under the surface.
Meanwhile in the tones of Ossip's voice there was a soft, musical ring that struck agreeably upon the ear, and harmonised to admiration with the song of the bells just when we were approaching the middle of the river's breadth of four hundred sazheni. There resounded over the surface of the ice a vicious rustle while a piece of ice slid from under my feet.
Meanwhile, it was the river rather than the town that seemed to be motionless the latter had begun, as it were, to quiver and reel, and, with the hill above it, to appear to be gliding slowly up stream, even as the grey, sandy bank some ten sazheni from us was beginning to grow tremulous, and to recede. "Run, all of you!" shouted Ossip, giving me a violent push as he did so.