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help to us as soon as possible, and come yourself, if you can. I remain your devoted and poor orphan,

"Maria Mironoff."

I almost lost my senses on reading this letter. I rode off into the town, spurring my poor horse unmercifully. On the way I thought of one plan and then of another, for the liberation of the unhappy girl, without being able to come to any decision. Reaching the town, I went straight to the general's, and rushed into his room.

The general was pacing it to and fro, smoking his meerschaum pipe. He stopped on seeing me. He was probably startled at my appearance, for he asked, with concern, the object of my over-hasty visit.

"Your excellency," I said, "I come to you, as I would to my own father; for God's sake do not reject my supplication: my life-long happiness is at stake."

"What is it?" asked the old man, astonished. "What can I do for thee? Speak!"

"Your excellency! order me to take a battalion of troops and fifty Cossacks, and let me clear out the fortress of Byĕlogorsk."

The general looked fixedly at me, thinking probably that I had lost my reason (in which he was not entirely mistaken).

"What do you say? clear out the fortress of Byĕlogorsk?" said he, at last.

"I answer for success," I continued, with warmth; "only let me go."

"No, young man," said he, shaking his head; "at so great a distance the enemy might easily cut you off from