I did not doubt that the cause of my arrest was my departure from Orenbur_ithout leave. Thus I could easily exculpate myself, for not only had we no_een forbidden to make sorties against the enemy, but were encouraged in s_oing.
Still my friendly understanding with Pugatchéf seemed to be proved by a crow_f witnesses, and must appear at least suspicious. All the way I pondered th_uestions I should be asked, and mentally resolved upon my answers. _etermined to tell the judges the whole truth, convinced that it was at onc_he simplest and surest way of justifying myself.
I reached Khasan, a miserable town, which I found laid waste, and well-nig_educed to ashes. All along the street, instead of houses, were to be see_eaps of charred plaster and rubbish, and walls without windows or roofs.
These were the marks Pugatchéf had left. I was taken to the fort, which ha_emained whole, and the hussars, my escort, handed me over to the officer o_he guard.
He called a farrier, who coolly rivetted irons on my ankles.
Then I was led to the prison building, where I was left alone in a narrow,
dark cell, which had but its four walls and a little skylight, with iron bars.
Such a beginning augured nothing good. Still I did not lose either hope o_ourage. I had recourse to the consolation of all who suffer, and, afte_asting for the first time the sweetness of a prayer from an innocent hear_ull of anguish, I peacefully fell asleep without giving a thought to wha_ight befall me.
On the morrow the gaoler came to wake me, telling me that I was summone_efore the Commission.
Two soldiers conducted me across a court to the Commandant's house, then,
remaining in the ante-room, left me to enter alone the inner chamber. _ntered a rather large reception room. Behind the table, covered with papers,
were seated two persons, an elderly General, looking severe and cold, and _oung officer of the Guard, looking, at most, about thirty, of easy an_ttractive demeanour; near the window at another table sat a secretary with _en behind his ear, bending over his paper ready to take down my evidence.
The cross-examination began. They asked me my name and rank. The Genera_nquired if I were not the son of Andréj Petróvitch Grineff, and on m_ffirmative answer, he exclaimed, severely—
"It is a great pity such an honourable man should have a son so very unworth_f him!"
I quietly made answer that, whatever might be the accusations lying heavil_gainst me, I hoped to be able to explain them away by a candid avowal of th_ruth.
My coolness displeased him.
"You are a bold, barefaced rascal," he said to me, frowning. "However, we hav_een many of them."
Then the young officer asked me by what chance and at what time I had entere_ugatchéf's service, and on what affairs he had employed me.
I indignantly rejoined that, being an officer and a gentleman, I had not bee_ble to enter Pugatchéf's service, and that he had not employed me on an_usiness whatsoever.
"How, then, does it happen," resumed my judge, "that the officer and gentlema_e the only one pardoned by the usurper, while all his comrades are massacre_n cold blood? How does it happen, also, that the same officer and gentlema_ould live snugly and pleasantly with the rebels, and receive from th_ingleader presents of a 'pelisse,' a horse, and a half rouble? What is th_ccasion of so strange a friendship? And upon what can it be founded if not o_reason, or at the least be occasioned by criminal and unpardonable baseness?"
The words of the officer wounded me deeply, and I entered hotly on m_indication.
I related how my acquaintance with Pugatchéf had begun, on the steppe, in th_idst of a snowstorm; how he had recognized me and granted me my life at th_aking of Fort Bélogorsk. I admitted that, indeed, I had accepted from th_surper a "touloup" and a horse; but I had defended Fort Bélogorsk against th_ascal to the last gasp. Finally I appealed to the name of my General, wh_ould testify to my zeal during the disastrous siege of Orenburg.
The severe old man took from the table an open letter, which he began to rea_loud.
"In answer to your excellency on the score of Ensign Grineff, who is said t_ave been mixed up in the troubles, and to have entered into communicatio_ith the robber, communication contrary to the rules and regulations of th_ervice, and opposed to all the duties imposed by his oath, I have the honou_o inform you that the aforesaid Ensign Grineff served at Orenburg from th_onth of Oct., 1773, until Feb. 24th of the present year, upon which day h_eft the town, and has not been seen since. Still the enemy's deserters hav_een heard to declare that he went to Pugatchéf's camp, and that h_ccompanied him to Fort Bélogorsk, where he was formerly in garrison. On th_ther hand, in respect to his conduct I can—"
Here the General broke off, and said to me with harshness—
"Well, what have you to say now for yourself?"
I was about to continue as I had begun, and relate my connection with Marya a_penly as the rest. But suddenly I felt an unconquerable disgust to tell suc_ story. It occurred to me that if I mentioned her, the Commission woul_blige her to appear; and the idea of exposing her name to all the scandalou_hings said by the rascals under cross-examination, and the thought of eve_eeing her in their presence, was so repugnant to me that I became confused,
stammered, and took refuge in silence.
My judges, who appeared to be listening to my answers with a certain goo_ill, were again prejudiced against me by the sight of my confusion. Th_fficer of the Guard requested that I should be confronted with the principa_ccuser. The General bade them bring in yesterday's rascal. I turned eagerl_owards the door to look out for my accuser.
A few moments afterwards the clank of chains was heard, and ther_ntered—Chvabrine. I was struck by the change that had come over him. He wa_ale and thin. His hair, formerly black as jet, had begun to turn grey. Hi_ong beard was unkempt. He repeated all his accusations in a feeble, bu_esolute tone. According to him, I had been sent by Pugatchéf as a spy t_renburg; I went out each day as far as the line of sharpshooters to transmi_ritten news of all that was passing within the town; finally, I ha_efinitely come over to the usurper's side, going with him from fort to fort,
and trying, by all the means in my power, to do evil to my companions i_reason, to supplant them in their posts, and profit more by the favours o_he arch-rebel. I heard him to the end in silence, and felt glad of one thing;
he had never pronounced Marya's name. Was it because his self-love was wounde_y the thought of her who had disdainfully rejected him, or was it that stil_ithin his heart yet lingered a spark of the same feeling which kept m_ilent? Whatever it was, the Commission did not hear spoken the name of th_aughter of the Commandant of Fort Bélogorsk. I was still further confirmed i_he resolution I had taken, and when the judges asked me if I had aught t_nswer to Chvabrine's allegations, I contented myself with saying that I di_bide by my first declaration, and that I had nothing more to show for m_indication.
The General bid them take us away. We went out together. I looked calmly a_hvabrine, and did not say one word to him. He smiled a smile of satisfie_atred, gathered up his fetters, and quickened his pace to pass before me. _as taken back to prison, and after that I underwent no further examination.
I was not witness to all that I have still to tell my readers, but I hav_eard the whole thing related so often that the least little details hav_emained graven in my memory, and it seems to me I was present myself.
Marya was received by my parents with the cordial kindness characteristic o_eople in old days. In the opportunity presented to them of giving a home to _oor orphan they saw a favour of God. Very soon they became truly attached t_er, for one could not know her without loving her. My love no longer appeare_ folly even to my father, and my mother thought only of the union of he_etrúsha with the Commandant's daughter.
The news of my arrest electrified with horror my whole family. Still, Mary_ad so simply told my parents the origin of my strange friendship wit_ugatchéf that, not only were they not uneasy, but it even made them laug_eartily. My father could not believe it possible that I should be mixed up i_ disgraceful revolt, of which the object was the downfall of the throne an_he extermination of the race of "boyárs." He cross-examined Savéliitc_harply, and my retainer confessed that I had been the guest of Pugatchéf, an_hat the robber had certainly behaved generously towards me. But at the sam_ime he solemnly averred upon oath that he had never heard me speak of an_reason. My old parents' minds were relieved, and they impatiently awaite_etter news. But as to Marya, she was very uneasy, and only caution an_odesty kept her silent.
Several weeks passed thus. All at once my father received from Petersburg _etter from our kinsman, Prince Banojik. After the usual compliments h_nnounced to him that the suspicions which had arisen of my participation i_he plots of the rebels had been proved to be but too well founded, addin_hat condign punishment as a deterrent should have overtaken me, but that th_zarina, through consideration for the loyal service and white hairs of m_ather, had condescended to pardon the criminal son, and, remitting th_isgrace-fraught execution, had condemned him to exile for life in the hear_f Siberia.
This unexpected blow nearly killed my father. He lost his habitual firmness,
and his sorrow, usually dumb, found vent in bitter lament.
"What!" he never ceased repeating, well-nigh beside himself, "What! my so_ixed up in the plots of Pugatchéf! Just God! what have I lived to see! Th_zarina grants him life, but does that make it easier for me to bear? It i_ot the execution which is horrible. My ancestor perished on the scaffold fo_onscience sake,[](footnotes.xml#footnote_70) my father fell with th_artyrs Volynski and Khuchtchoff,[](footnotes.xml#footnote_71) but that a
'boyár' should forswear his oath—that he should join with robbers, rascals,
convicted felons, revolted slaves! Shame for ever—shame on our race!"
Frightened by his despair, my mother dared not weep before him, an_ndeavoured to give him courage by talking of the uncertainty and injustice o_he verdict. But my father was inconsolable. Marya was more miserable tha_nyone. Fully persuaded that I could have justified myself had I chosen, sh_uspected the motive which had kept me silent, and deemed herself the sol_ause of my misfortune. She hid from all eyes her tears and her suffering, bu_ever ceased thinking how she could save me. One evening, seated on the sofa,
my father was turning over the Court Calendar; but his thoughts were far away,
and the book did not produce its usual effect on him. He was whistling an ol_arch. My mother was silently knitting, and her tears were dropping from tim_o time on her work. Marya, who was working in the same room, all at onc_nformed my parents that she was obliged to start for Petersburg, and begge_hem to give her the means to do so. My mother was much affected by thi_eclaration. "Why," said she, "do you want to go to Petersburg? You, too—d_ou also wish to forsake us?" Marya made answer that her fate depended on th_ourney, and that she was going to seek help and countenance from people hig_n favour, as the daughter of a man who had fallen victim to his fidelity. M_ather bowed his head. Each word which reminded him of the alleged crime o_is son was to him a keen reproach. "Go," he said at last, with a sigh; "we d_ot wish to cast any obstacles between you and happiness. May God grant you a_onest man as a husband, and not a disgraced and convicted traitor." He ros_nd left the room. Left alone with my mother, Marya confided to her part o_er plans. My mother kissed her with tears, and prayed God would grant he_uccess. A few days afterwards Marya set forth with Palashka and her faithfu_avéliitch, who, necessarily, parted from me, consoled himself by rememberin_e was serving my betrothed. Marya arrived safely at Sofia, and, learning tha_he court at this time was at the summer palace of Tzarskoe-Selo, she resolve_o stop there. In the post-house she obtained a little dressing-room behind _artition. The wife of the postmaster came at once to gossip with her, an_nnounced to her pompously that she was the niece of a stove-warmer attache_o the Palace, and, in a word, put her up to all the mysteries of the Palace.
She told her at what hour the Tzarina rose, had her coffee, went to walk; wha_igh lords there were about her, what she had deigned to say the evenin_efore at table, who she received in the evening, and, in a word, th_onversation of Anna Vlassiéfna[](footnotes.xml#footnote_72) might hav_een a leaf from any memoir of the day, and would be invaluable now. Mary_vanofna heard her with great attention. They went together to the Imperia_ardens, where Anna Vlassiéfna told Marya the history of every walk and eac_ittle bridge. Both then returned home, charmed with one another. On th_orrow, very early, Marya dressed herself and went to the Imperial Gardens.
The morning was lovely. The sun gilded with its beams the tops of the lindens,
already yellowed by the keen breath of autumn. The large lake sparkle_nruffled; the swans, just awake, were gravely quitting the bushes on th_ank. Marya went to the edge of a beautiful lawn, where had lately bee_rected a monument in honour of the recent victories of Coun_oumianzeff.[](footnotes.xml#footnote_73) All at once a little dog o_nglish breed ran towards her, barking. Marya stopped short, alarmed. At thi_oment a pleasant woman's voice said— "Do not be afraid; he will not hur_ou." Marya saw a lady seated on a little rustic bench opposite the monument,
and she went and seated herself at the other end of the bench. The lady looke_ttentively at her, and Marya, who had stolen one glance at her, could now se_er well. She wore a cap and a white morning gown and a little light cloak.
She appeared about 50 years old; her face, full and high-coloured, expresse_epose and gravity, softened by the sweetness of her blue eyes and charmin_mile. She was the first to break the silence. "Doubtless you are not of thi_lace?" she asked. "You are right, lady; I only arrived yesterday from th_ountry." "You came with your parents?" "No, lady, alone." "Alone! but you ar_ery young to travel by yourself." "I have neither father nor mother." "Yo_re here on business?" "Yes, lady, I came to present a petition to th_zarina." "You are an orphan; doubtless you have to complain of injustice o_rong." "No, lady, I came to ask grace, and not justice." "Allow me to ask _uestion: Who are you?" "I am the daughter of Captain Mironoff." "Of Captai_ironoff? He who commanded one of the forts in the Orenburg district?" "Yes,
lady." The lady appeared moved. "Forgive me," she resumed, in a yet softe_oice, "if I meddle in your affairs; but I am going to Court. Explain to m_he object of your request; perhaps I may be able to help you." Marya rose,
and respectfully saluted her. Everything in the unknown lady involuntaril_ttracted her, and inspired trust. Marya took from her pocket a folded paper;
she offered it to her protectress, who ran over it in a low voice. When sh_egan she looked kind and interested, but all at once her face changed, an_arya, who followed with her eyes her every movement, was alarmed by the har_xpression of the face lately so calm and gracious. "You plead for Grineff,"
said the lady, in an icy tone. "The Tzarina cannot grant him grace. He passe_ver to the usurper, not as an ignorant and credulous man, but as a deprave_nd dangerous good-for-nothing." "It's not true!" cried Marya. "What! it's no_rue?" retorted the lady, flushing up to her eyes. "It is not true, before Go_t is not true," exclaimed Marya. "I know all; I will tell you all. It is fo_e only that he exposed himself to all the misfortunes which have overtake_im. And if he did not vindicate himself before the judges, it is because h_id not wish me to be mixed up in the affair." And Marya eagerly related al_he reader already knows. The lady listened with deep attention. "Where do yo_odge?" she asked, when the young girl concluded her story. And when she hear_hat it was with Anna Vlassiéfna, she added, with a smile: "Ah! I know! Good-
bye! Do not tell anyone of our meeting. I hope you will not have to wait lon_or an answer to your letter." Having said these words, she rose and went awa_y a covered walk. Marya returned home full of joyful hope. Her hostes_colded her for her early morning walk—bad, she said, in the autumn for th_ealth of a young girl. She brought the "samovar," and over a cup of tea sh_as about to resume her endless discussion of the Court, when a carriage wit_ coat-of-arms stopped before the door. A lackey in the Imperial liver_ntered the room, announcing that the Tzarina deigned to call to her presenc_he daughter of Captain Mironoff. Anna Vlassiéfna was quite upset by thi_ews. "Oh, good heavens!" cried she; "the Tzarina summons you to Court! Ho_id she know of your arrival? And how will you acquit yourself before th_zarina, my little mother? I think you do not even know how to walk Cour_ashion. I ought to take you; or, stay, should I not send for the midwife,
that she might lend you her yellow gown with flounces?" But the lacke_eclared that the Tzarina wanted Marya Ivánofna to come alone, and in th_ress she should happen to be wearing. There was nothing for it but to obey,
and Marya Ivánofna started. She foresaw that our fate was in the balance, an_er heart beat violently. After a few moments the coach stopped before th_alace, and Marya, after crossing a long suite of empty and sumptuous rooms,
was ushered at last into the boudoir of the Tzarina. Some lords, who stoo_round there, respectfully opened a way for the young girl. The Tzarina, i_hom Marya recognized the lady of the garden, said to her, graciously— "I a_elighted to be able to accord you your prayer. I have had it all looked into.
I am convinced of the innocence of your betrothed. Here is a letter which yo_ill give your future father-in-law." Marya, all in tears, fell at the feet o_he Tzarina, who raised her, and kissed her forehead. "I know," said she, "yo_re not rich, but I owe a debt to the daughter of Captain Mironoff. Be eas_bout your future." After overwhelming the poor orphan with caresses, th_zarina dismissed her, and Marya started the same day for my father's countr_ouse, without having even had the curiosity to take a look at Petersburg.
Here end the memoirs of Petr' Andréjïtch Grineff; but family tradition assert_hat he was released from captivity at the end of the year 1774, that he wa_resent at the execution of Pugatchéf, and that the latter, recognizing him i_he crowd, made him a farewell sign with the head which, a few moments later,
was held up to the people, lifeless and bleeding. Soon afterwards Petr'
Andréjïtch became the husband of Marya Ivánofna. Their descendants still liv_n the district of Simbirsk. In the ancestral home in the village of —— i_till shown the autograph letter of Catherine II., framed and glazed. It i_ddressed to the father of Petr' Andréjïtch, and contains, with the acquitta_f his son, praises of the intellect and good heart of the Commandant'_aughter.