the sunshine, the swans emerged proudly from under the overhanging bushes. Maria Ivanovna passed by the beautiful lawn, upon which a monument had been lately erected in commemoration of the recent victories of Count Piotr Alexandrovitch Roumiantzoff. Suddenly a little white dog, of an English breed, barked and rushed at her. Maria Ivanovna started, and at the same moment she heard a pleasant female voice say:
"Do not fear, she does not bite."
And Maria Ivanovna saw a lady on the bench in front of the monument. Maria Ivanovna sat herself down at one end. The lady eyed her sharply, and Maria Ivanovna on her part had time, in a few side glances, to scan her from head to foot. She was in a white morning dress, a cap, and a doushegreyka. She appeared to be about forty years of age. Her full, blooming face was expressive of dignity and calm, and her blue eyes and smiling lips added an inexpressible charm. The lady was the first to break the silence.
"You are probably a stranger?" she said.
"Yes; I arrived yesterday only, from the country."
"You have come with your parents?"
"No, I have not. I have come alone."
"Alone! But you are so young."
"I have no father or mother."
"You are here on business, probably?"
"Yes, I have come to present a petition to the empress."
"You are an orphan, and probably have to complain of injustice or insult?"