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Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/114

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convictions, allowed himself to be influenced by the opinions of ignorant and inexperienced men.

A few days after this remarkable council had been held, we received intelligence that Pougatcheff, true to his word, was approaching Orenburg. I espied the rebel army from the city walls. Its number seemed to have increased tenfold since the last assault, which I had witnessed. The enemy also had the pieces of artillery, which Pougatcheff had captured from the small fortresses he had subdued. Bearing in mind the decision of the council, I foresaw a long confinement within the walls of Orenburg, and almost cried with vexation.

I shall not describe the siege of Orenburg, which belongs to history, and not to notes of a private nature. I shall briefly observe that this siege, owing to the imprudence of the local authorities, became fatal to the inhabitants, who suffered hunger and every misery imaginable. It will be readily understood that life at Orenburg became most unbearable. Everybody sorrowfully awaited the decision of his destiny; lamentations were universal by reason of the dearth, which was really terrible. The people were beginning to get accustomed to the shells, which flew into their court-yards; even the assaults of Pougatcheff ceased to attract general attention. I felt bored to death. Time sped on, I received no letter from the fortress of Byĕlogorsk. All the roads were cut off. My separation from Maria Ivanovna was becoming unendurable. My only recreation consisted in warlike sallies. Thanks to Pougatcheff, I had a good horse with which I shared my scant portion of food, and on which I