communication with the chief strategical point, and obtain a complete victory over you. The intercepted communications . . . ."
I became alarmed when I perceived that he was about to enter into deliberations of a military character, and hastened to interrupt him.
"The daughter of Captain Mironoff," said I, "writes a letter to me; she asks for help; Shvabrine forces her to marry him."
"Indeed! Oh! that Shvabrine is a great rascal, and if he falls into my hands, I shall order him to be tried within twenty-four hours, and he will be shot on the rampart of the fortress! but, until then, we must have patience . . . ."
"Have patience!" I exclaimed, beside myself; "and in the meanwhile he will marry Maria Ivanovna!"
"Oh!" reiterated the general, "there is no great harm in that; it is better she should be Shvabrine's wife in the meanwhile; he will thus be able to protect her, and when he is shot, why, then, please God, we shall find a bridegroom for her. Pretty little widows do not long remain single; at least, what I mean to say is, that a young widow will sooner find a husband than would a young girl."
"I should sooner consent to die," I said, enraged, "than cede her to Shvabrine."
"Bah! bah! bah! Ha!" said the old man. "Now I understand; thou art evidently in love with Maria Ivanovna. Oh! that is another affair! Poor fellow; but for all that, I cannot possibly give thee a battalion of