"From bad to worse," thought I to myself. "Of what service has it been to me, to have been a sergeant in the Guards, almost from my mother's womb? What has it led to? To my being attached to the *** Regiment, and having to serve in a lonely fortress, on the frontier of the Khirghis-Kasak Steppe!" . . . . I dined with Andrey Karlovitch, in company with his old aide-de-camp. The strictest German economy was observed at his table, and I think that the dread of occasionally seeing an extra visitor at his bachelor's board, was partly the reason of my hasty removal to the garrison. The following day I took my leave of the general, and repaired to my destination.
The fortress of Byĕlogorsk was situated at a distance of forty versts from Orenburg. The road led along the steep banks of the Yaïk. The river was not yet frozen over, and its leaden-coloured waves contrasted gloomily with the monotonous snow-covered shores. Beyond them stretched out the Khirghis Steppe. I was lost in reflections, which were mostly of a sad nature. A garrison life offered little enough attraction to me; I endeavoured to picture to myself the person of Captain Mironoff, my future chief, and I conceived him to be a strict, morose old man, without an idea beyond his duties, and who would be ready to put me under arrest, on bread and water, for