The words were scarcely out of his mouth before there were a tremendous trampling and a roar of a great wind. The house shook with the footsteps of the giant as he strode up. The giant bent down over the courtyard and looked in at the feast.
“Little man, little man,” says he, “you promised not to boast of me. I told you what would come if you did, and here you are and have boasted already.”
“Forgive me,” says Ivan; “it was the drink that boasted, not I.”
“What sort of drink is it that knows how to boast?” says the giant.
“You shall taste it,” says Ivan.
And he made his ancient old sailormen roll a great barrel of wine into the yard, more than enough for a hundred men, and after that a barrel of beer that was as big, and then a barrel of mead that was no smaller.
“Try the taste of that,” says Ivan the Ninny.
Well, the giant did not wait to be asked twice. He lifted the barrel of wine as if it had been a little glass, and emptied it down his throat. He lifted the barrel of beer as if it had been an acorn, and emptied it after the wine. Then he lifted the barrel of mead as if it had been a very small pea, and swallowed every drop of mead that was in it. And after that he began stamping about and breaking things. Houses fell to pieces this way and that, and trees were swept flat like grass. Every step the giant took was followed by the crash of breaking timbers. Then suddenly he fell flat on his back and slept. For three days and nights he slept without waking. At last he opened his eyes.
“Just look about you,” says Ivan, “and see the damage that you’ve done.”
“And did that little drop of drink make me do all that?” says the giant. “Well, well, I can well understand that a drink like that can do a bit of bragging. And after that,” says he, looking at the wrecks of houses, and all the broken things scattered about—“after that,” says he, “you can boast of me for a thousand years, and I’ll have nothing against you.”
And he tugged at his great whiskers, and wrinkled his eyes, and went striding off into the sea.
That is the story about salt, and how it made a rich man of Ivan the Ninny, and besides, gave him the prettiest wife in the world, and she a Tzar’s daughter.
This chapter is not one of old Peter’s stories, though there are, doubtless, some stories in it. It tells how Vanya and Maroosia drove to the village to see a new baby.
Old Peter had a sister who lived in the village not so very far away from the forest. And she had a plump daughter, and the daughter was called Nastasia, and she was married to a handsome peasant called Sergie, who had three cows, a lot of pigs, and a flock of fat geese. And one day when old Peter had gone to the village to buy tobacco and sugar and sunflower seeds, he came back in the evening, and said to the children,—