When Marianne, after long and vain efforts to open the door, had finally managed, by tying her bed-clothes together, to let herself down into the garden, and had thence hastened into the house, and up into Natalie’s chamber, she found there all silent and still. Nothing stirred. Natalie lay in a deathlike swoon.
He, Carlo, already stiffened in death, and she, the senseless Natalie, with her head reclining against the marble face of her friend!
Poor Natalie! Why must Marianne succeed in awakening thee from thy swoon? Why did you not let her continue in her insensibility, Marianne? In sleep, she at least would not have realized that she was now left entirely alone, entirely abandoned, with no one to defend her against her cruel and artful enemies, of whose existence she never once dreamed!
Count Orloff lay in a comfortable, careless position upon his divan, leisurely smoking his long Turkish pipe. Before him stood Joseph Ribas, laughingly relating in his own comic manner the occurrences of the preceding night.
“You are a wonderful man,” said Orloff, when Joseph had finished. “You have honestly earned your epaulets, and to-day you will for the first time appear at my dinner-table as a Russian officer. Ah, I prophesy a great future for you. You have the requisite skill and address to make your fortune. You are shrewd, daring, and you recoil from no means, finding them all good and useful when they forward your aims. With such principles one may go far in this world, and Russia in fact offers you the best opportunity for bringing all these fine talents into use.”
“And, moreover, I commenced my Russian career with a good omen,” said Joseph. “I have placed a murder at the head of my Russian deeds! That is a promising commencement, is it not, Sir Count? You must know that better than any one.”
“Indeed yes, I must best know that,” said the count, laughing, and continually stroking his long black beard. “By a fair and well-timed murder one can always make his fortune in Russia. A well-timed and well-executed murder is with us often rewarded with a barony and the title of count. Indeed, sometimes with the highest and tenderest imperial favor and grace. Ah, a murder at the right moment is an excellent thing, only one must be quite sure of himself, and not fail of hitting the right man. An unsuccessful murder is a very bad, and, indeed, a very dangerous thing. I would have nothing to do with one, and never have had any thing to do with one. Whatever I have undertaken I have always boldly and successfully accomplished. The good Emperor Peter III. knew that, and consequently trembled when I, with Passeb and Bariatinsky, entered his chamber. The good emperor! He did not tremble long, it was soon finished. Yes, yes, that was a deed done at the right time, and therefore has the great Catharine been so grateful to us, and honoured us above all the illustrious grandees of her empire."(*)