“Silence that old sorceress,” said Pougatcheff.
A young Cossack struck her with his sabre on the head. She fell dead at the foot of the steps. Pougatcheff rode off, all the people following.
VIII. THE UNEXPECTED VISIT.
I stood in the vacant square, unable to collect my thoughts, disturbed by so many terrible emotions. Uncertainty about Marie’s fate tortured me. Where is she? Is she concealed? Is her retreat safe? I went to the Commandant’s house. It was in frightful disorder; the chairs, tables, presses had been burned up and the dishes were in fragments. I rushed up the little stairs leading to Marie’s room, which I entered for the first time in my life. A lamp still burned before the shrine which had enclosed the sacred objects revered by all true believers. The clothes-press was empty, the bed broke up. The robbers had not taken the little mirror hanging between the door and the window. What had become of the mistress of this simple, virginal abode? A terrible thought flashed through my mind. Marie in hands of the brigands! My heart was torn, and I cried aloud: “Marie! Marie!” I heard a rustle. Polacca, quite pale, came from her hiding-place behind the clothes-press.
“Ah! Peter,” said she, clasping her hands, “what a day! what horrors!”
“Marie?” I asked impatiently, “Marie—where is she?”
“The young lady is alive,” said the maid, “concealed at Accoulina’s, at the house of the Greek priest.”
“Great God!” I cried, with terror, “Pougatcheff is there!”
I rushed out of the room, made a bound into the street and ran wildly to the priest’s house. It was ringing with songs, shouts and laughter. Pougatcheff was at table there with his men. Polacca had followed me; I sent her in to call out Accoulina secretly. Accoulina came into the waiting-room, an empty bottle in her hand.
“In the name of heaven, where is Marie?” I asked with agitation.