Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/38

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every trifling offence. It was now getting dark; we were driving pretty fast. "Is the fortress far off?" I asked the yemstchick. "Not far," answered he; "there it is." I looked in all directions, expecting to view proud bastions, towers, and a ditch, but I could only see a small village, encircled by a wooden palisade. On one side stood three or four haystacks, partly covered with snow, upon the other was a sorry windmill, with bass fans which were in repose. "But where is the fortress?" I asked, in astonishment.

"Here it is," said the yemstchick, pointing at the village which we were about to enter. I observed at the gates an old bronze gun; the streets were narrow and crooked; the huts were low, and the greater number were thatched. I gave orders to drive to the commandant's residence, and in a few minutes the kibitka, stopped in front of a small wooden house, which stood upon high ground near the church, also built of wood.

Nobody came to meet me. I walked through the hall, and let myself into the ante-room. An old invalid, seated on a table, was fitting a blue patch to the elbow of a green uniform. I desired him to announce me.

"Come in, sir," said the invalid; "our people are at home."

I entered an old-fashioned and clean little room. In a corner stood a cupboard which contained crockery. An officer's commission, framed and glazed, hung on the wall; close to it were some coarse engravings, representing the taking of Kystrin and Otchakoff, "The Choice of a Bride,"