was in existence? They would have torn her to pieces! Nothing could have saved her!"
"Thou art right again," said Pougatcheff, laughing. "My drunkards would not have spared the poor girl. The priest's wife has done well to deceive them."
"Listen," said I, upon seeing how well-disposed he appeared to be. "I do not know, and do not wish to know, by what name I am to address thee. . . . But God is my witness, that I should be happy to pay thee with my life for what thou hast done for me. Only do not demand what is against my honour and my conscience as a Christian. Thou art my benefactor. Complete what thou hast commenced: let me go with the poor orphan whithersover God may lead us. And we shall, wherever thou mayest be, whatever thy lot, pray to God daily for the salvation of thy sinful soul. . . ."
Pougatcheff's untamed heart seemed touched.
"Let it be as thou desirest," said he. "If one must execute, let execution be complete, and if one has to pardon, let pardon be complete: such is my custom. Take thy little beauty; lead her wherever thou pleasest, and may God bless your love and guide you."
Here he turned to Shvabrine, and ordered him to provide me with passes for all the barriers and fortresses subject to him. Completely humilitated, Shvabrine stood petrified. Pougatcheff then proceeded to inspect the fortress, accompanied by Shvabrine, and I remained behind, under the pretext that I had to get ready for my journey.
I rushed to the bedroom. The door was closed. I