I ran to the pope’s house to see Marya Ivanofna. The pope’s wife came to meet me with a sad piece of news. During the night high fever had set in, and the poor girl was now delirious. Akoulina Pamphilovna brought me to her room. I gently approached the bed. I was struck by the frightful change in her face. The sick girl did not know me. Motionless before her, it was long ere I understood the words of Father Garasim and his wife, who apparently were trying to comfort me.
Gloomy thoughts overwhelmed me. The position of a poor orphan left solitary and friendless in the power of rascals filled me with fear, while my own powerlessness equally distressed me; but Chvabrine, Chvabrine above all, filled me with alarm. Invested with all power by the usurper, and left master in the fort, with the unhappy girl, the object of his hatred, he was capable of anything. What should I do? How could I help her? How deliver her? Only in one way, and I embraced it. It was to start with all speed for Orenburg, so as to hasten the recapture of Belogorsk, and to aid in it if possible.
I took leave of the pope and of Akoulina Pamphilovna, recommending warmly to them her whom I already regarded as my wife. I seized the hand of the young girl and covered it with tears and kisses.
“Good-bye,” the pope’s wife said to me, as she led me away. “Good-bye, Petr’ Andrejitch; perhaps we may meet again in happier times. Don’t forget us, and write often to us. Except you, poor Marya Ivanofna has no longer stay or comforter.”
Out in the Square I stopped a minute before the gallows, which I respectfully saluted, and I then took the road to Orenburg, accompanied by Saveliitch, who did not forsake me.
As I thus went along, deep in thought, I heard all at once a horse galloping behind me. I turned round, and saw a Cossack coming up from the fort, leading a Bashkir horse, and making signs to me from afar to wait for him. I stopped, and soon recognized our “ouriadnik.”
After joining us at a gallop, he jumped from the back of his own horse, and handing me the bridle of the other—
“Your lordship,” said he, “our father makes you a present of a horse, and a pelisse from his own shoulder.” On the saddle was slung a plain sheepskin “touloup.” “And, besides,” added he, hesitatingly, “he gives you a half-rouble, but I have lost it by the way; kindly excuse it.”
Saveliitch looked askance at him.
“You have lost it by the way,” said he, “and pray what is that which jingles in your pocket, barefaced liar that you are?”
“Jingling in my pocket?” replied the “ouriadnik,” not a whit disconcerted; “God forgive you, old man, ’tis a bridlebit, and never a half rouble.”
“Well! well!” said I, putting an end to the dispute. “Thank from me he who sent you: and you may as well try as you go back to find the lost half rouble and keep it for yourself.”