which set even the Wild Master smiling, the
Gabbler could not refrain from a shout of delight. Everyone was roused. The Gabbler and
the Blinkard began joining in in an undertone,
and exclaiming, “Bravely done!…Take it, you
rogue!…Sing it out, you serpent!” and so on.
Emboldened by the signs of general approbation, the booth keeper went off in a whirl of
flourishes, and began to round off such trills, to
turn such shakes off his tongue, and to make
such furious play with his throat that when at
last, pale, exhausted, and bathed in hot perspiration, he uttered the last dying note, his whole
body flung back, a general united shout greeted
him in a violent outburst.
“Well, brother, you’ve given us a treat!”
bawled the Gabbler, not releasing the exhausted
booth keeper from his embraces. “You’ve given us
a treat, there’s no denying! You’ve won, brother,
you’ve won! I congratulate you—the quart’s
yours! Yashka’s miles behind you.”
“You sing beautifully, brother, beautifully,”
Nikolai Ivanitch observed caressingly. “And
now it’s your turn, Yashka. Mind, now, don’t
be afraid. We shall see who’s who. We shall see.
The booth keeper sings beautifully, though, ’pon
my soul, he does.”
“Yakov, begin!” said the Wild Master.
Yakov took himself by his throat: “Well,
really, brothers…something…Hmm, I don’t
know, on my word, what…”
“Come, that’s enough. Don’t be timid. For
shame!…Why go back?…Sing the best you
can, by God’s gift.”
Yakov was silent for a minute; he glanced
around and covered his face with his hand.
All had their eyes simply fastened on him,
especially the booth keeper, on whose face a faint,
Home Ranch (detail), by Thomas Eakins, 1892.