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Chapter 14 The Trial

  • 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,[[70]](footnotes.xml#footnote_70) my father fell with th_artyrs Volynski and Khuchtchoff,[[71]](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[[72]](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.[[73]](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.