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35
THE CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTER.

tion to God alone, parades, exercises, and guards were dispensed with. The commandant instructed the soldiers himself from time to time, as he felt disposed, but he had not yet succeeded in teaching them to distinguish the right from the left side. Shvabrine possessed a few French books. I read them, and they awakened in me a taste for literature. In the forenoon I read, translated, and sometimes attempted the composition of verses. I invariably dined at the commandant's, where I usually passed the rest of the day, and occasionally Father Gherassim, with his wife Akoulina Pamphylovna,[1] the great tale-bearer in the neighbourhood, used to spend the evening with us. Of course Aleksey Ivanovitch Shvabrine and I met daily; but his conversations became more and more distasteful to me. I did not like his continuing to make a laughing-stock of the commandant's family, and especially his cutting remarks about Maria Ivanovna. Of other society there was none at the fortress, nor did I wish for any.

In spite of the prophecy, the Bashkirs did not revolt. Tranquillity reigned in our fortress. But this peace was unexpectedly interrupted by intestine strife. I have already said, that I was engaged in literary pursuits. My efforts, for the times, were tolerably successful, and were, a few years later, approved by Alexander Petrovitch Soumarokoff.[2] One song I wrote pleased me very much. It is a fact that under pretext of seeking advice,

  1. Aquiline, the daughter of Pamphylius.—Tr.
  2. Alexander, the son of Peter. Soumarokoff, a Russian poet and tragedian, 1718–77.—Tr.