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57
THE CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTER.

Sitting alone one evening (this was in the beginning of October, 1773), I was listening to the whistling of the autumn wind, and looking through the window, watched the clouds which were passing rapidly across the moon. The commandant sent for me; I instantly obeyed. I found Shvabrine, Ivan Ignatitch, and the Cossack orderly, assembled at his house. Neither Vassilissa Yegorovna nor Maria Ivanovna were in the room. The commandant saluted me in a disturbed manner. He closed the door, bid us all be seated, with the exception of the orderly, who remained standing, drew a paper from his pocket, and said, "Gentlemen, news of importance! Listen to what the general writes." Here he put on his spectacles, and read as follows:

 

"To the Commandant of the Fortress of Byelogorsk,

"Captain Mironoff.

"Confidential.

"I herewith inform you that Emilian Pougatcheff, a Cossack of the Don, and a sectarian, has escaped from arrest, and having with unpardonable temerity assumed the name of the late Emperor Peter III., has gathered around him a band of wretches, has incited to sedition, in the villages on the shores of the Yaïk, and has already taken and destroyed several fortresses, pillaging and massacring everywhere. You are therefore, captain, herewith commanded to adopt immediately, upon the receipt of this, the necessary measures for repelling the