Open main menu

Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/103

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
91
THE CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTER.

gallows, from which yesterday's victims were still suspended. The Cossacks were on horseback, the foot soldiers under arms. The standards were unfurled. Several guns, among which I noticed our own, had been mounted on field carriages. The inhabitants had also assembled in expectation of the Pretender. At the porch of the commandant's house stood a Cossack, holding a beautiful white horse of the Khirghis breed by the bridle. I looked for the body of the commandant's wife. It had been moved a little on one side, and covered with a piece of matting. Pougatcheff appeared. The crowd uncovered. Pougatcheff stopped in the doorway and saluted it. One of the chiefs handed to him a bagful of coppers, which he scattered in handfuls. The people rushed in a noisy scuffle to pick them up. Pougatcheff was surrounded by his principal accomplices. Shvabrine was one of the number. Our eyes met; he probably read contempt in mine, for he turned away with a look of genuine malice, and feigned derision. Perceiving me in the crowd, Pougatcheff nodded his head, and beckoned me to come to him.

"Listen," said he; "go at once to Orenburg, and tell the governor and all the generals that they are to expect me in a week. Recommend them to welcome me with childlike love and obedience; otherwise, they shall not escape a cruel death. A happy journey to you, your lordship!" Turning to the people, and pointing to Shvabrine, he said: "Here, my children, is your new commander. Obey him always; he is responsible for you and for the fortress."