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Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/70

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RUSSIAN ROMANCE.

above-named wretch and pretender; and you are, if possible, to annihilate him entirely should he attempt to attack the fortress entrusted to your charge."

 

"To take the necessary measures!" said the commandant, removing his spectacles, and folding the paper. "It is very easy to say so. The rascal seems to be formidable, and we can only muster one hundred and thirty men, all told, without including the Cossacks, on whom we can scarcely rely; no offence meant, Maksymitch" (the orderly smiled). "However, let us be ready, gentlemen. Be on the alert, establish sentry posts and night rounds; in the event of an attack, shut the gates and assemble the soldiers. Thou, Maksymitch, must watch thy Cossacks closely. Let the gun be examined and properly cleaned. And above all things, let this be kept secret, so that no person in the fortress shall know anything about it before the time."

Having given these directions, Ivan Kouzmitch dismissed us. Shvabrine and I went away together, discussing what we had just heard.

"How dost thou think this will end?" I asked.

"God knows," he answered; "we shall see. I see nothing alarming in all this as yet. But in case . . ."

Here he became thoughtful, absently whistling a French tune.

Notwithstanding all our precautions, the news of Pougatcheff's appearance had spread in the fortress. Although Ivan Kouzmitch entertained the greatest respect for his wife, nothing on earth would have in-