“Come on, boy, turn around. What a sight! What’s that – a cassock or something? They all wear those in your seminary?”
This was old Bulba’s welcome to his two sons, back home from the Kiev Seminary, where they had just completed their studies.
The sons dismounted. They were big and strong and they hung their heads and looked up from under their brows as befits seminary students. Their healthy faces were covered with down still untouched by a razor. Their father’s reception took them aback and they stood staring at their feet.
“Fine, you just stand there. Let’s have a good look at you,” Bulba said, swinging the lads around, first one, then the other. “Well, your coats certainly aren’t too short. Some coats! Never seen the like in my whole life. Come, I’d like to see one of you run in that garb. Come on, get going! I bet you get tangled up in your skirts and fall flat on your face.”
“Stop it, Pa. Don’t laugh at me, I tell you,” the older of the two said finally.
“Look at that! Sensitive, eh? Why shouldn’t I laugh?”
“Why?… because you may be my pa, but if you keep on baiting us, I’ll take a poke at you, by God.”
“What! At your father? Are you mad?” Bulba said, surprised, and retreated a few steps.
“Father or no father, I don’t take that from anyone.”