failed to observe Pougatcheff's displeasure. He quailed before him, and looked at me mistrustfully. Pougatcheff made inquiries as to the condition of the fortress, as to the prevalent rumours in regard to the enemy, and such like, when suddenly and unexpectedly he asked:—
"Tell me, my little brother, who is the girl thou holdest here imprisoned? Let me see her."
Shvabrine turned deadly pale.
"Sire," said he in a trembling voice, . . . . "Sire, she is not imprisoned . . . . she is ill . . . . she is in bed."
"Lead me to her chamber then," said the pretender, rising. Refusal was impossible. Shvabrine conducted Pougatcheff to Maria Ivanovna's room. I followed them.
Shvabrine stopped on the staircase.
"Sire!" said he, "you have it in your power to demand whatever you please of me, but do not permit a stranger to enter my wife's bedroom."
I shook all over.
"Then thou art married!" said I to Shvabrine, prepared to tear him to pieces.
"Silence!" interrupted Pougatcheff, "that is my business. As to thee," he continued, addressing Shvabrine, "I will have no subtilty and no shamming: she may be thy wife or not, but I take who I please into her room. Your lordship, follow me."
Shvabrine again stopped when we had reached the bedroom door, and said falteringly:
"Sire, I warn you, she is in a high state of fever and has been delirious these three days."
"Open the door," said Pougatcheff.