priest's wife came out to the lobby, with an empty bottle in her hand.
"For God's sake where is Maria Ivanovna?" I asked, with indescribable agitation.
"My poor little dove is lying on my bed, behind the partition," answered the priest's wife. "Ah! Piotr Andrevitch, we have had a narrow escape; but, thank God, all has gone off well: the wretch was just about to sit down to dinner, when she, poor thing, coming to herself, groaned. I felt a chill all over. He heard it. 'Who is it moaning there, old woman?' I bowed down low before the thief: 'My niece, sire, has been taken ill, and has been laid up a fortnight.'—'And is thy niece young?'—'Yes, sire.'—'Then let me see thy niece, old woman.' My heart leapt within me; but what could I do?' 'Welcome, sire; only the girl is not able to rise and come before your grace.'—'Never mind old woman; I shall go to her myself!' And he did go behind the partition, the d—d rascal! what dost thou think of that? He drew aside the curtain, looked in with his vulture's eyes—and that was all! God was with us. Wilt thou believe me, the Father and I were quite prepared to suffer a martyr's death? Fortunately, my little dove did not recognize him. Oh! Lord God, what a day we have lived to see! Poor Ivan Kouzmitch!—who would have believed it! And Vassilissa Yegorovna! and Ivan Ignatitch!—what had he done? How is it that you escaped? And what do you say of Shvabrine? He has had his hair cut, and here he is now, feasting with them! He has been sharp about it, I must say. And when I happened to mention