Open main menu

Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/124

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
112
RUSSIAN ROMANCE.

thin and bent old man, with a small gray beard, had nothing remarkable about him, excepting a blue ribbon which he wore over his gray coat across his shoulder. But I shall never forget his fellow. He was tall, powerful, and broad-shouldered, and appeared to be about five-and-forty. His thick red beard, his gray sparkling eyes, his nose without nostrils, and the red spots on his forehead and cheeks, gave his pock-marked broad face an indefinable expression. He wore a red shirt, a Khirghis dressing gown, and Cossack trowsers. The first (as I afterwards learned), was the deserter, Corporal Byĕlobaródoff; the second, Aphanasy Sakaloff (surnamed Hlopousha), a banished convict, who had escaped from the mines of Siberia on three different occasions. The society I so unexpectedly found myself in, for a time diverted my thoughts from the feelings that exclusively agitated me. But Pougatcheff's question recalled me to myself.

"Speak; upon what business hast thou left Orenburg?"

A strange thought struck me. I fancied that Providence, which for the second time had confronted me with Pougatcheff, was affording me the opportunity of carrying out my intentions. I decided upon taking advantage of this, and without giving myself time for reflection, I answered Pougatcheff's question.

"I go to the fortress of Byĕlogorsk, to free a poor insulted orphan."

Pougatcheff's eyes flashed.

"Who of my people has dared to offend the orphan?" he cried. "Were his forehead seven spans high, he shall