“I’m whole! I landed on sand.... But the descent was long! Ten rubles on you!”
“Climb out!” shouted his comrades.
“Yes, climb out!”—returned Misha. “Damn it! One can’t climb out of here! You will have to ride off now for ropes and lanterns. And in the meanwhile, so that I may not find the waiting tedious, toss me down a flask....”
And so Misha had to sit for five hours at the bottom of the ravine; and when they dragged him out, it appeared that he had a dislocated shoulder. But this did not daunt him in the least. On the following day a blacksmith bone-setter set his shoulder, and he used it as though nothing were the matter.
Altogether, his health was remarkable, unprecedented. I have already told you that until his death he preserved an almost childish freshness of complexion. He did not know what it was to be ill, in spite of all his excesses; the vigour of his constitution was not affected in a single instance. Where any other man would have fallen dangerously ill, or even have died, he merely shook himself like a duck in the water, and became more blooming than ever. Once—that also was in the Caucasus.... This legend is improbable, it is true, but from it one can judge what Misha was regarded as capable of doing.... So then, once, in the Caucasus, when in a state of intoxication, he fell into a small stream that covered the lower part of his body; his head and arms remained exposed on the bank. The affair took place in winter; a rigorous frost set in; and when he was found on the following morning, his legs and body were visible beneath a stout crust of ice which had frozen over in the course of the night—and he never even had a cold in the head in consequence! On another occasion (this happened in Russia, near Orel, and also during a severe frost), he chanced to go to a suburban eating-house in company with seven young theological students. These theological students were celebrating their graduation examination, and had invited Misha, as a charming fellow, “a man with a sigh,” as it was called then. They drank a great deal; and when, at last, the merry crew were preparing to depart, Misha, dead drunk, was found to be already in a state of unconsciousness. The whole seven theological students had between them only one troika sledge with a high back;—where were they to put the helpless body? Then one of the young men, inspired by classical reminiscences, suggested that Misha be tied by the feet to the back of the sledge, as Hector was to the chariot of Achilles! The suggestion was approved ... and bouncing over the hummocks, sliding sideways down the declivities, with his feet strung up in the air, and his head dragging through the snow, our Misha traversed on his back the distance of two versts which separated the restaurant from the town, and never even so much as coughed or frowned. With such marvellous health had nature endowed him!