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Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/84

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RUSSIAN ROMANCE.

knight. I longed to prove that I was worthy of her trust, and impatiently awaited the decisive moment.

Fresh troops of horsemen now appeared from behind an eminence half a verst off, and soon the steppe became covered with people armed with spears and cross-bows. Amongst them was a man in a red caftan, riding a white horse, and holding a drawn sword; it was Pougatcheff himself. He halted, and was at once surrounded, when four men, evidently carrying out his instruction, rode up to the fortress at full speed. We recognized our deserters. One held a sheet of paper high above his cap; another had Youlaï's head stuck on his lance, which he threw at us over the palisade. The head of the poor Kalmuck had rolled to the commandant's feet. The traitors shouted:

"Do not fire! surrender to the emperor! The emperor is here!"

"I shall teach you!" cried Ivan Kouzmitch. "Boys, fire!"

Our soldiers fired. The Cossack who held the letter reeled and fell off his horse; the rest galloped back. I looked at Maria Ivanovna. Horrified at the sight of Youlaï's gory head, deafened by the discharge, she looked lifeless.

The commandant summoned a corporal, and ordered him to take the paper from the dead Cossack's hand. The corporal went and returned leading the horse of the fallen man by the bridle. He handed the letter to the commandant; Ivan Kouzmitch tore it to pieces after having silently read it. The rebels, however, were evi-