Marie listened with dignity; she felt as I did, but repeated that without my parents’ consent she would never be my wife. I could not reply to this objection. I folded her to my heart, and my project became our mutual resolve.
An hour after, the Corporal brought me my passport, having the scratch which served as Pougatcheff’s sign-manual, and told me that the Czar awaited me. I found him ready for his journey. To this man—why not tell the truth?—cruel and terrible to all but me, I was drawn by strong sympathy. I wanted to snatch him from the horde of robbers, whose chief he was; but the presence of Alexis and the crowd around him prevented any expression of these feelings. Our parting was that of friends. As the horses were moving, he leaned out of the kibitka and said to me: “Adieu, again, your lordship; perhaps we may meet once more.”
We did meet again, but under what circumstances!
I returned to Father Garasim’s, where our preparations were soon completed. Our baggage was put into the Commandant’s old equipage. The horses were harnessed. Marie went, before setting off, to visit once more the tomb in the church-yard, and soon returned, having wept in silence over all that remained to her of her parents. Father Garasim and Accoulina stood on the steps. Marie, Polacca, and I sat in the interior of the kibitka. Saveliitch perched himself up in front.
“Adieu, Marie, sweet little dove! Adieu, Peter, our handsome falcon!” exclaimed the kind Accoulina.
Passing the Commandant’s house, I saw Alexis, whose face expressed determined hate.
XIII. THE ARREST.
In two hours we reached the neighboring fortress, which also belonged to Pougatcheff. We there changed horses. By the celerity with which they served us, and the eager zeal of the bearded Cossack, whom Pougatcheff had made Commandant, I perceived that, thanks to the talk of our postilion, I was supposed to be a favorite with their master. When we started off again, it was dusk; we were drawing near a town where, according to the bearded Commandant, there ought to be a very strong detachment of Pougatcheff’s forces. The sentinels stopped us and to the demand: “Who goes there?” our postilion answered in a loud voice: “A friend of the Czar, traveling with his wife.”
We were at once surrounded by a detachment of Russian hussars, who swore frightfully.
“Come out,” said a Russian officer, heavily mustached; “We’ll give you a bath!”
I requested to be taken before the authorities. Perceiving that I was an officer, the soldiers ceased swearing, and the officer took me to the Major’s. Saveliitch followed, growling out: “We fall from the fire into the flame!”
The kibitka came slowly after us. In five minutes we reached a small house, all lighted up. The officer left me under a strong guard, and entered to announce my capture. He returned almost instantly, saying that I was ordered to prison, and her ladyship to the presence of the Major.