“Farewell, your lordship; it may be we shall yet meet again!”
We did, indeed, see one another once again; but under what circumstances!
Pugatchef was gone.
I long watched the steppe over which his "kibitka" was rapidly gliding.
The crowd dwindled away; Chvabrine disappeared. I went back to the pope’s house, where all was being made ready for our departure. Our little luggage had been put in the old vehicle of the Commandant. In a moment the horses were harnessed.
Marya went to bid a last farewell to the tomb of her parents, buried behind the church.
I wished to escort her there, but she begged me to let her go alone, and soon came back, weeping quiet tears.
Father Garasim and his wife came to the door to see us off. We took our seats, three abreast, inside the “kibitka,” and Saveliitch again perched in front.
“Good-bye, Marya Ivanofna, our dear dove; good-bye, Petr’ Andrejitch, our gay goshawk!” the pope’s wife cried to us. “A lucky journey to you, and may God give you abundant happiness!”
We started. At the Commandant’s window I saw Chvabrine standing, with a face of dark hatred.
I did not wish to triumph meanly over a humbled enemy, and looked away from him.
At last we passed the principal gate, and for ever left Fort Belogorsk.
Reunited in so marvellous a manner to the young girl who, that very morning even, had caused me so much unhappy disquiet, I could not believe in my happiness, and I deemed all that had befallen me a dream.
Marya looked sometimes thoughtfully upon me and sometimes upon the road, and did not seem either to have recovered her senses. We kept silence—our hearts were too weary with emotion.
At the end of two hours we had already reached the neighbouring fort, which also belonged to Pugatchef. We changed horses there.
By the alertness with which we were served and the eager zeal of the bearded Cossack whom Pugatchef had appointed Commandant, I saw that, thanks to the talk of the postillion who had driven us, I was taken for a favourite of the master.
When we again set forth it was getting dark. We were approaching a little town where, according to the bearded Commandant, there ought to be a strong detachment on the march to join the usurper.
The sentries stopped us, and to the shout, “Who goes there?” our postillion replied aloud—
“The Tzar’s gossip, travelling with his good woman.”
Immediately a party of Russian hussars surrounded us with awful oaths.
“Get out, devil’s gossip!” a Quartermaster with thick moustachios said to me.
“We’ll give you a bath, you and your good woman!”
I got out of the “kibitka,” and asked to be taken before the authorities.