rades, when, to my indescribable astonishment, I saw amongst the rebel heads Shvabrine, with his hair evenly cut round, and wearing a Cossack caftan. He approached Pougatcheff, and whispered a few words to him.
"Let him be hanged!" said Pougatcheff, without looking at me.
A noose was thrown around my neck; I silently repeated a prayer, bringing sincere repentance for all my sins before God, and imploring the salvation of all dear to me. I was hurried to the gibbet.
"Do not fear—do not fear," repeated my executioners, perhaps really seeking to encourage me.
Suddenly I heard a cry; "Hold on, you cursed fellows!—hold on!"
The executioners paused. I looked back. Savelitch lay at Pougatcheff's feet.
"My father!" my poor servant was saying, "of what use can the death of that gentleman's child be to thee? Let him go; thou canst obtain a ransom for him; and, if thou dost want to make an example, and inspire fear, then let me, an old man, be hanged!"
Pougatcheff made a sign, my bonds were loosened, and I was set free.
"Our father pardons thee," was said to me.
I could not at that moment declare that I was overjoyed at my deliverance, though I did not regret it. My sensations were too confused. I was again conducted to the Pretender, and made to kneel before him. Pougatcheff extended his veined hand towards me.
"Kiss his hand—kiss his hand!" everybody repeated.