Open main menu

Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/83

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

kirs among them, who were easily distinguished by their fur caps and quivers. The commandant walked round the lines exhorting the soldiers: "Come, boys, let us stand up for our mother empress to-day, and let us prove to the world that we are a brave and loyal people!"

The soldiers demonstrated their zeal by loud shouts. Shvabrine stood beside me, watching the enemy closely. On becoming aware of the movement in the fortress, the men we had seen on the steppe assembled in a cluster, and consulted with each other. The commandant ordered Ivan Ignatitch to lay the gun at the enemy, and himself applied the match. The ball whistled and flew past them without occasioning any harm. The horsemen separated and galloped out of sight, clearing the steppe.

At that moment, Vassilissa Yegorovna appeared on the rampart, accompanied by Masha, who was unwilling to quit her side.

"Well," asked the commandant's wife, "how does the battle progress? Where is the enemy?"

"The enemy is not far off," answered Ivan Kouzmitch; "please God all will be well. What, Masha, art thou afraid?"

"No, papa," replied Maria Ivanovna; "I feel more frightened sitting at home."

She looked at me and made an effort to smile. I involuntarily grasped the hilt of my sword, remembering that I had received it from her own hands the night before, as if for the protection of the one I loved best. My heart burned within me; I fancied myself her chosen