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Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/73

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gun. We may yet repulse Pougatcheff. If God does not forsake us, the pig will not eat us!"[1]

"And what is this Pougatcheff like?" asked the commandant's wife.

Here Ivan Ignatitch felt that he had betrayed himself, and stopped short. But it was too late. Vassilissa Yegorovna obliged him to confess everything, after having promised not to tell any one.

Vassilissa Yegorovna kept her word, and did not tell any one, except the priest's wife, and then she only did so because her cow was out grazing on the steppe, and might be carried off by the rascals.

Pougatcheff was soon in everybody's mouth. The rumours respecting him varied. The commandant despatched the orderly to the neighbouring villages and fortresses to gain all possible information about him. The orderly returned after a couple of days, and reported that he had seen, at a distance of about sixty versts from the fortress, a great many fires laid, and had heard from the Bashkirs that an innumerable host was advancing. He was not able, however, to affirm anything with certainty, for he was afraid to venture too far.

It was easy to notice the general excitement that prevailed among the Cossacks in the fortress; forming themselves into little groups in the streets, they conversed in an undertone, and dispersed at the sight of a dragoon or of one of the soldiers. Spies were set on them. Youlaï, a baptized Kalmuck, made to the commandant an important disclosure. "The orderly's report,"

  1. Russian proverb.—Tr.