“‘Who is that moaning, old woman?’ said he.
“I saluted the robber down to the ground.
“‘My niece, Tzar; she has been ill and in bed for more than a week.’
“‘And your niece, is she young?’
“‘She is young, Tzar.’
“‘Let us see, old woman; show me your niece.’
“I felt my heart fail me; but what could I do?
“’Very well, Tzar; but the girl is not strong enough to rise and come before your grace.’
“‘That’s nothing, old woman; I’ll go myself and see her.’
“And, would you believe it, the rascal actually went behind the partition. He drew aside the curtain, looked at her with his hawk’s eyes, and nothing more; God helped us. You may believe me when I say the father and I were already prepared to die the death of martyrs. Luckily the little dove did not recognize him. O, Lord God! what have we lived to see! Poor Ivan Kouzmitch! who would have thought it! And Vassilissa Igorofna and Iwan Ignatiitch! Why him too? And you, how came it that you were spared? And what do you think of Chvabrine, of Alexy Ivanytch? He has cut his hair short, and he is there having a spree with them. He is a sly fox, you’ll agree. And when I spoke of my sick niece, would you believe it, he looked at me as if he would like to run me through with his knife. Still, he did not betray us, and I’m thankful to him for that!”
At this moment up rose the vinous shouts of the guests and the voice of Father Garasim. The guests wanted more wine, and the pope was calling his wife.
“Go home, Petr’ Andrejitch,” she said to me, in great agitation, “I have something else to do than chatter to you. Some ill will befall you if you come across any of them now. Good-bye, Petr’ Andrejitch. What must be, must be; and it may be God will not forsake us.”
The pope’s wife went in; a little relieved, I returned to my quarters. Crossing the square I saw several Bashkirs crowding round the gallows in order to tear off the high boots of the hanged men. With difficulty I forbore showing my anger, which I knew would be wholly useless.
The robbers pervaded the fort, and were plundering the officers’ quarters, and the shouts of the rebels making merry were heard everywhere. I went home. Saveliitch met me on the threshold.
“Thank heaven!” cried he, upon seeing me, “I thought the villains had again laid hold on you. Oh! my father, Petr’ Andrejitch, would you believe it, the robbers have taken everything from us: clothes, linen, crockery and goods; they have left nothing. But what does it matter? Thank God that they have at least left you your life! But oh! my master, did you recognize their ‘ataman?’"
“No, I did not recognize him. Who is he?”
“What, my little father, you have already forgotten the drunkard who did you out of your ‘touloup’ the day of the snowstorm, a hareskin ‘touloup,’ brand new. And he, the rascal, who split all the seams putting it on.”