Seeing I was an officer, the men ceased swearing, and the Quartermaster took me to the Major’s.
Saveliitch followed me, grumbling—
“That’s fun—gossip of the Tzar!—out of the frying-pan into the fire! Oh, Lord! how will it all end?”
The “kibitka” followed at a walk. In five minutes we reached a little house, brilliantly lit up. The Quartermaster left me under the guard, and went in to announce his capture.
He returned almost directly, and told me “his high mightiness," had not time to see me, and that he had bid me be taken to prison, and that my good woman be brought before him.
“What does it all mean?” I cried, furiously; “is he gone mad?”
“I cannot say, your lordship,” replied the Quartermaster, “only his high mightiness has given orders that your lordship be taken to prison, and that her ladyship be taken before his high mightiness, your lordship.”
I ran up the steps. The sentries had not time to stop me, and I entered straightway the room, where six hussar officers were playing “faro."
The Major held the bank.
What was my surprise when, in a momentary glance at him, I recognized in him that very Ivan Ivanovitch Zourine who had so well fleeced me in the Simbirsk inn!
“Is it possible?” cried I. “Ivan Ivanovitch, is it you?”
“Ah, bah! Petr’ Andrejitch! By what chance, and where do you drop from? Good day, brother, won’t you punt a card?”
“Thanks—rather give me a lodging.”
“What, lodging do you want? Stay with me.”
“I cannot. I am not alone.”
“Well, bring your comrade too.”
“I am not with a comrade. I am—with a lady.”
“With a lady—where did you pick her up, brother?”
After saying which words Zourine began to whistle so slyly that all the others began to laugh, and I remained confused.
“Well,” continued Zourine, “then there is nothing to be done. I’ll give you a lodging. But it is a pity; we would have had a spree like last time. Hullo! there, boy, why is not Pugatchef’s gossip brought up? Is she refractory? Tell her she has nothing to fear, that the gentleman who wants her is very good, that he will not offend her in any way, and at the same time shove her along by the shoulder.”
“What are you talking about?” I said to Zourine; “of what gossip of Pugatchef’s are you speaking? It is the daughter of Captain Mironoff. I have delivered her from captivity, and I am taking her now to my father’s house, where I shall leave her.”
“What? So it’s you whom they came to announce a while ago? In heaven’s name, what does all this mean?”
“I’ll tell you all about it presently. But now I beg of you, do reassure the poor girl, whom your hussars have frightened dreadfully.”
Zourine directly settled matters. He went out himself into the street to make excuses to Marya for the involuntary misunderstanding, and ordered the Quartermaster to take her to the best lodging in the town. I stayed to sleep at Zourine’s house. We supped together, and as soon as I found myself alone with Zourine, I told him all my adventures.