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34
RUSSIAN ROMANCE.

retired to enjoy their nap; I accompanied Shvabrine to his quarters, where I spent the remainder of the evening.

 

 

CHAPTER IV.

THE DUEL.

Several weeks had elapsed, and my existence at the fortress of Byĕlogorsk became not only bearable, but even agreeable. I was received at the house of the commandant as if I were one of the family. Both husband and wife were most excellent people. Ivan Kouzmitch, who had risen from the ranks, was simple-minded and uneducated, but most honest and kind-hearted. His wife ruled over him, which accorded well with his indolent disposition. Vassilissa Yegorovna assumed the direction of all matters connected with the service, as she did those of her household, and governed the fortress as she governed her own house. Maria Ivanovna soon became less shy of me. We got to know each other better, and I discovered her to be a sensible and feeling girl. I became imperceptibly attached to these good people, including even Ivan Ignatitch, the one-eyed sub-lieutenant of the garrison, whom Shvabrine accused of undue familiarity with Vassilissa Yegorovna, although there was not a shadow of truth in the statement; but this did not trouble Shvabrine.

I attained my officer's rank. The service did not weigh heavily on me. In this fortress, which owed its protec-