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Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/125

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not escape my judgment. Speak! who is the guilty one?"

"Shvabrine," answered I. "He keeps in confinement the girl which thou sawest sick at the priest's home, and wishes to force her to marry him."

"I shall teach Shvabrine!" said Pougatcheff, sternly. "He will learn what comes of indulging his own fancies, and oppressing my people. I shall hang him."

"Let me have a word to say," said Hlopousha, in a hoarse voice. "Thou wert in too much haste, when thou didst appoint Shvabrine commandant of the fortress, and now thou art equally in a hurry to hang him. Thou hast already offended the Cossacks by nominating a nobleman to be their chief; do not offend the noblemen in like manner, by executing them on the first accusation!"

"There is no necessity for having pity on them, and for showing them mercy," said the old man with the blue ribbon. "There is no harm in hanging Shvabrine; but it would be just as well to question this officer further: Why has he come? If he does not acknowledge thee to be his emperor, he has no right to seek justice at thy hands; and if he does acknowledge thee, why has he then up to this day remained at Orenburg with thy enemies? Wilt thou not order me to take him into the office and light a fire there? I begin to suspect that his grace is sent over to us by the Orenburg commanders."

The old wretch's logic struck me as being very convincing. A cold shiver ran through me as I thought of the hands into which I had fallen. Pougatcheff noticed my perturbation; "Well, your lordship," said he with a