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Chapter 12 The Orphan

  • The "kibitka" stopped before the door of the Commandant's house. Th_nhabitants had recognized the little bell of Pugatchéf's team, and ha_ssembled in a crowd. Chvabrine came to meet the usurper; he was dressed as _ossack, and had allowed his beard to grow.
  • The traitor helped Pugatchéf to get out of the carriage, expressing b_bsequious words his zeal and joy.
  • Seeing me he became uneasy, but soon recovered himself.
  • "You are one of us," said he; "it should have been long ago."
  • I turned away my head without answering him. My heart failed me when w_ntered the little room I knew so well, where could still be seen on the wal_he commission of the late deceased Commandant, as a sad memorial.
  • Pugatchéf sat down on the same sofa where ofttimes Iván Kouzmitch had dozed t_he sound of his wife's scolding.
  • Chvabrine himself brought brandy to his chief. Pugatchéf drank a glass of it, and said to him, pointing to me—
  • "Offer one to his lordship."
  • Chvabrine approached me with his tray. I turned away my head for the secon_ime. He seemed beside himself. With his usual sharpness he had doubtles_uessed that Pugatchéf was not pleased with me. He regarded him with alarm an_e with mistrust. Pugatchéf asked him some questions on the condition of th_ort, on what was said concerning the Tzarina's troops, and other simila_ubjects. Then suddenly and in an unexpected manner—
  • "Tell me, brother," asked he, "who is this young girl you are keeping unde_atch and ward? Show me her."
  • Chvabrine became pale as death.
  • "Tzar," he said, in a trembling voice, "Tzar, she is not under restraint; sh_s in bed in her room."
  • "Take me to her," said the usurper, rising.
  • It was impossible to hesitate. Chvabrine led Pugatchéf to Marya Ivánofna'_oom. I followed them. Chvabrine stopped on the stairs.
  • "Tzar," said he, "you can constrain me to do as you list, but do not permit _tranger to enter my wife's room."
  • "You are married!" cried I, ready to tear him in pieces.
  • "Hush!" interrupted Pugatchéf, "it is my concern. And you," continued he, turning towards Chvabrine, "do not swagger; whether she be your wife or no, _ake whomsoever I please to see her. Your lordship, follow me."
  • At the door of the room Chvabrine again stopped, and said, in a broken voice—
  • "Tzar, I warn you she is feverish, and for three days she has been delirious."
  • "Open!" said Pugatchéf.
  • Chvabrine began to fumble in his pockets, and ended by declaring he ha_orgotten the key.
  • Pugatchéf gave a push to the door with his foot, the lock gave way, the doo_pened, and we went in. I cast a rapid glance round the room and nearl_ainted. Upon the floor, in a coarse peasant's dress, sat Marya, pale an_hin, with her hair unbound. Before her stood a jug of water and a bit o_read. At the sight of me she trembled and gave a piercing cry. I cannot sa_hat I felt. Pugatchéf looked sidelong at Chvabrine, and said to him with _itter smile—
  • "Your hospital is well-ordered!" Then, approaching Marya, "Tell me, my littl_ove, why your husband punishes you thus?"
  • "My husband!" rejoined she; "he is not my husband. Never will I be his wife. _m resolved rather to die, and I shall die if I be not delivered."
  • Pugatchéf cast a furious glance upon Chvabrine.
  • "You dared deceive me," cried he. "Do you know, villain, what you deserve?"
  • Chvabrine dropped on his knees. Then contempt overpowered in me all feeling_f hatred and revenge. I looked with disgust upon a gentleman at the feet of _ossack deserter. Pugatchéf allowed himself to be moved.
  • "I pardon you this time," he said, to Chvabrine; "but next offence I wil_emember this one." Then, addressing Marya, he said to her, gently, "Come out, pretty one; I give you your liberty. I am the Tzar."
  • Marya Ivánofna threw a quick look at him, and divined that the murderer of he_arents was before her eyes. She covered her face with her hands, and fel_nconscious.
  • I was rushing to help her, when my old acquaintance, Polashka, came ver_oldly into the room, and took charge of her mistress.
  • Pugatchéf withdrew, and we all three returned to the parlour.
  • "Well, your lordship," Pugatchéf said to me, laughing, "we have delivered th_retty girl; what do you say to it? Ought we not to send for the pope and ge_im to marry his niece? If you like I will be your marriage godfather, Chvabrine best man; then we will set to and drink with closed doors."
  • What I feared came to pass.
  • No sooner had he heard Pugatchéf's proposal than Chvabrine lost his head.
  • "Tzar," said he, furiously, "I am guilty, I have lied to you; but Grineff als_eceives you. This young girl is not the pope's niece; she is the daughter o_ván Mironoff, who was executed when the fort was taken."
  • Pugatchéf turned his flashing eyes on me.
  • "What does all this mean?" cried he, with indignant surprise.
  • But I made answer boldly—
  • "Chvabrine has told you the truth."
  • "You had not told me that," rejoined Pugatchéf, whose brow had suddenl_arkened.
  • "But judge yourself," replied I; "could I declare before all your people tha_he was Mironoff's daughter? They would have torn her in pieces, nothing coul_ave saved her."
  • "Well, you are right," said Pugatchéf. "My drunkards would not have spared th_oor girl; my gossip, the pope's wife, did right to deceive them."
  • "Listen," I resumed, seeing how well disposed he was towards me, "I do no_now what to call you, nor do I seek to know. But God knows I stand ready t_ive my life for what you have done for me. Only do not ask of me anythin_pposed to my honour and my conscience as a Christian. You are my benefactor; end as you have begun. Let me go with the poor orphan whither God shal_irect, and whatever befall and wherever you be we will pray God every da_hat He watch over the safety of your soul."
  • I seemed to have touched Pugatchéf's fierce heart.
  • "Be it even as you wish," said he. "Either entirely punish or entirely pardon; that is my motto. Take your pretty one, take her away wherever you like, an_ay God grant you love and wisdom."
  • He turned towards Chvabrine, and bid him write me a safe conduct pass for al_he gates and forts under his command. Chvabrine remained still, and as i_etrified.
  • Pugatchéf went to inspect the fort; Chvabrine followed him, and I staye_ehind under the pretext of packing up. I ran to Marya's room. The door wa_hut; I knocked.
  • "Who is there?" asked Polashka.
  • I gave my name. Marya's gentle voice was then heard through the door.
  • "Wait, Petr' Andréjïtch," said she, "I am changing my dress. Go to Akoulin_amphilovna's; I shall be there in a minute."
  • I obeyed and went to Father Garasim's house.
  • The pope and his wife hastened to meet me. Savéliitch had already told the_ll that had happened.
  • "Good-day, Petr' Andréjïtch," the pope's wife said to me; "here has God s_uled that we meet again. How are you? We have talked about you every day. An_arya Ivánofna, what has she not suffered anent you, my pigeon? But tell me, my father, how did you get out of the difficulty with Pugatchéf? How was i_hat he did not kill you? Well, for that, thanks be to the villain."
  • "There, hush, old woman," interrupted Father Garasim; "don't gossip about al_ou know; too much talk, no salvation. Come in, Petr' Andréjïtch, and welcome.
  • It is long since we have seen each other."
  • The pope's wife did me honour with everything she had at hand, without ceasin_ moment to talk.
  • She told me how Chvabrine had obliged them to deliver up Marya Ivánofna t_im; how the poor girl cried, and would not be parted from them; how she ha_ad continual intercourse with them through the medium of Polashka, _esolute, sharp girl who made the "ouriadnik" himself dance (as they say) t_he sound of her flageolet; how she had counselled Marya Ivánofna to write m_ letter, etc. As for me, in a few words I told my story.
  • The pope and his wife crossed themselves when they heard that Pugatchéf wa_ware they had deceived him.
  • "May the power of the cross be with us!" Akoulina Pamphilovna said. "May Go_urn aside this cloud. Very well, Alexey Iványtch, we shall see! Oh! the sl_ox!"
  • At this moment the door opened, and Marya Ivánofna appeared, with a smile o_er pale face. She had changed her peasant dress, and was dressed as usual, simply and suitably. I seized her hand, and could not for a while say a singl_ord. We were both silent, our hearts were too full.
  • Our hosts felt we had other things to do than to talk to them; they left us.
  • We remained alone. Marya told me all that had befallen her since the taking o_he fort; painted me the horrors of her position, all the torment the infamou_hvabrine had made her suffer. We recalled to each other the happy past, bot_f us shedding tears the while.
  • At last I could tell her my plans. It was impossible for her to stay in a for_hich had submitted to Pugatchéf, and where Chvabrine was in command. Neithe_ould I dream of taking refuge with her in Orenburg, where at this junctur_ll the miseries of a siege were being undergone. Marya had no longer a singl_elation in the world. Therefore I proposed to her that she should go to m_arents' country house.
  • She was very much surprised at such a proposal. The displeasure my father ha_hown on her account frightened her. But I soothed her. I knew my father woul_eem it a duty and an honour to shelter in his house the daughter of a vetera_ho had died for his country.
  • "Dear Marya," I said, at last, "I look upon you as my wife. These strang_vents have irrevocably united us. Nothing in the whole world can part us an_ore."
  • Marya heard me in dignified silence, without misplaced affectation. She fel_s I did, that her destiny was irrevocably linked with mine; still, sh_epeated that she would only be my wife with my parents' consent. I ha_othing to answer. We fell in each other's arms, and my project became ou_utual decision.
  • An hour afterwards the "ouriadnik" brought me my safe-conduct pass, with th_crawl which did duty as Pugatchéf's signature, and told me the Tzar awaite_e in his house.
  • I found him ready to start.
  • How express what I felt in the presence of this man, awful and cruel for all, myself only excepted? And why not tell the whole truth? At this moment I fel_ strong sympathy with him. I wished earnestly to draw him from the band o_obbers of which he was the chief, and save his head ere it should be to_ate.
  • The presence of Chvabrine and of the crowd around us prevented me fro_xpressing to him all the feelings which filled my heart.
  • We parted friends.
  • Pugatchéf saw in the crowd Akoulina Pamphilovna, and amicably threatened he_ith his finger, with a meaning wink. Then he seated himself in his "kibitka"
  • and gave the word to return to Berd. When the horses started, he leaned out o_is carriage and shouted to me—
  • "Farewell, your lordship; it may be we shall yet meet again!"
  • We did, indeed, see one another once again; but under what circumstances!
  • Pugatchéf was gone.
  • I long watched the steppe over which his "kibitka" was rapidly gliding.
  • The crowd dwindled away; Chvabrine disappeared. I went back to the pope'_ouse, where all was being made ready for our departure. Our little luggag_ad been put in the old vehicle of the Commandant. In a moment the horses wer_arnessed.
  • Marya went to bid a last farewell to the tomb of her parents, buried behin_he church.
  • I wished to escort her there, but she begged me to let her go alone, and soo_ame back, weeping quiet tears.
  • Father Garasim and his wife came to the door to see us off. We took our seats, three abreast, inside the "kibitka," and Savéliitch again perched in front.
  • "Good-bye, Marya Ivánofna, our dear dove; good-bye, Petr' Andréjïtch, our ga_oshawk!" the pope's wife cried to us. "A lucky journey to you, and may Go_ive you abundant happiness!"
  • We started. At the Commandant's window I saw Chvabrine standing, with a fac_f dark hatred.
  • I did not wish to triumph meanly over a humbled enemy, and looked away fro_im.
  • At last we passed the principal gate, and for ever left Fort Bélogorsk.