knocked off my legs, but I rose to my feet again, and followed the rebels into the fortress. The commandant, who was wounded in the head, was surrounded by the wretches, who demanded the keys of him. I was about to rush to his succour, but was seized by a few lusty Cossacks, who bound my hands with their belts, saying:
"Stop a bit, you will catch it by-and-by, you traitors to the emperor!"
We were dragged into the streets. The inhabitants had come out of their houses, carrying bread and salt. The bells began to peal. A loud voice in the crowd announced that the emperor was awaiting the prisoners in the square, prepared to receive their oaths of allegiance. The mob rushed to the square; we were also led thither.
Pougatcheff sat in an arm-chair in the porch of the commandant's house. He wore a handsome Cossack caftan, richly braided. The high sable hat, from which hung a golden tassel, came down to his sparkling eyes. I fancied I knew his face. He was surrounded by Cossack chiefs. Near the porch, pale and trembling, cross in hand, as if silently interceding on behalf of the victims which were to be, stood Father Gherassim. A gibbet was being hurriedly erected in the square. At our approach the Bashkirs quickly dispersed the crowd, and we were led before Pougatcheff. The ringing of bells had ceased; deep silence reigned.
"Which is the commandant?" asked the Pretender.
- A peace offering.—Tr.
- A long coat, worn by the lower classes.—Tr.