“Two dressing gowns, one cotton, the other striped silk, six roubles.”
“What does that mean?” interrupted Pugatchef, frowning.
“Tell him to read further,” rejoined Saveliitch, quite unmoved.
The Chief Secretary continued to read—
“One uniform of fine green cloth, seven roubles; one pair trousers, white cloth, five roubles; twelve shirts of Holland shirting, with cuffs, ten roubles; one box with tea service, two-and-a-half roubles.”
“What is all this nonsense?” cried Pugatchef. “What do these tea-boxes and breeches with cuffs matter to me?”
Saveliitch cleared his throat with a cough, and set to work to explain matters.
“Let my father condescend to understand that that is the bill of my master’s goods which have been taken away by the rascals.”
“What rascals?” quoth Pugatchef, in a fierce and terrible manner.
“Beg pardon, my tongue played me false,” replied Saveliitch. “Rascals, no they are not rascals; but still your fellows have well harried and well robbed, you must agree. Do not get angry; the horse has four legs, and yet he stumbles. Bid him read to the end.”
“Well, let us see, read on,” said Pugatchef.
The Secretary continued—
“One chintz rug, another of wadded silk, four roubles; one pelisse fox skin lined with red ratteen, forty roubles; and lastly, a small hareskin ‘touloup,’ which was left in the hands of your lordship in the wayside house on the steppe, fifteen roubles.”
“What’s that?” cried Pugatchef, whose eyes suddenly sparkled.
I confess I was in fear for my poor follower. He was about to embark on new explanations when Pugatchef interrupted him.
“How dare you bother me with such nonsense?” cried he, snatching the paper out of the hands of the Secretary and throwing it in Saveliitch’s face. “Foolish old man, you have been despoiled; well, what does it signify. But, old owl, you should eternally pray God for me and my lads that you and your master do not swing up there with the other rebels. A hareskin ‘touloup!’ Hark ye, I’ll have you flayed alive that ‘touloups’ may be made of your skin.”
“As it may please you!” replied Saveliitch. “But I am not a free man, and I must answer for my lord’s goods.”
Pugatchef was apparently in a fit of high-mindedness. He turned aside his head, and went off without another word. Chvabrine and the chiefs followed him. All the band left the fort in order. The people escorted it.
I remained alone in the square with Saveliitch. My follower held in his hand the memorandum, and was contemplating it with an air of deep regret. Seeing my friendly understanding with Pugatchef, he had thought to turn it to some account. But his wise hope did not succeed. I was going to scold him sharply for his misplaced zeal, and I could not help laughing.
“Laugh, sir, laugh,” said Saveliitch; “but when you are obliged to fit up your household anew, we shall see if you still feel disposed to laugh.”