reached the town, and should have been frozen to death by the way."
My bait took. Pougatcheff brightened up.
"A debt is rendered honourable by payment," said he, with a wink. "Tell me now, what is the girl, whom Shvabrine has offended, to thee? Is thy heart perchance caught, young man? Eh?"
"She is my affianced bride," I replied, seeing that the sky had cleared, and that there was no necessity for concealing the truth.
"Thy affianced bride!" exclaimed Pougatcheff. "Then why didst thou not say so before? We shall assist thee to get married, and shall feast at thy wedding!" Then, turning to Byĕlobaródoff: "Listen, field-marshal! His lordship and I are old friends. Let us sit down to supper; the morning will bring wiser counsels. We shall consider what is to be done."
I would gladly have declined the proffered honour; but there was no help for it. Two young Cossack women, the daughters of the proprietor of the isba, spread a white cloth, placed a loaf of bread, a dish of ouha, and several bottles of wine and beer on the table, and I found myself for the second time at the same board with Pougatcheff and his terrible comrades.
The orgies, of which I was an involuntary witness, continued until late at night. At last a state of intoxication began to overpower the revellers. Pougatcheff dozed in his chair; his companions rose and made me a sign to
- A fish-soup.—Tr.