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Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/158

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RUSSIAN ROMANCE.

the criminal son, and, sparing him from an ignominious death, had commanded that he should be sent to a distant part of Siberia, an exile for life.

This unexpected blow almost killed my father. He lost his habitual firmness, and vented his (usually mute) grief in bitter lamentations.

"What!" repeated he, beside himself. "That my son should have plotted with Pougatcheff! Oh, heavens! that I should have lived to see this! The empress delivers him from death! Am I the better for that? It is not execution that is dreadful; my great-grandfather died on the scaffold because he would not violate the dictates of his conscience; my father suffered with Volinsky[1] and Aroushtcheff. But that a nobleman should break his oath of allegiance, that he should unite himself with robbers, murderers, and runaway serfs!. . . It is a shame and a disgrace to our race!. . . ."

Alarmed at his despair, my mother dared not weep in his presence, and endeavoured to restore to him his courage by suggesting the probability of the rumours being false, and popular opinion divided. My father was inconsolable.

Maria Ivanovna suffered the most. Feeling persuaded that I might have exculpated myself had I wished to do so, she guessed the truth, and accused herself as being the cause of my misfortunes. She tried to conceal her tears

  1. Volinsky had presented to the Empress Anna a paper, having for its object the overthrow of Biron; he and his friends subsequently fell victims to the vengeance of that favourite.—Tr.