Open main menu

Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/95

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

off with thy life! Well, sir, and hast thou recognized the ataman?"[1]

"No, I have not. Who is he?"

"How, sir? hast thou forgotten the drunkard who coaxed the touloup out of thee at the inn? The little bran new hare-skin touloup; and he, the beast, split it by forcing himself into it!"

I was amazed. Indeed the resemblance between Pougatcheff and my guide was startling. I became convinced that Pougatcheff and he were the same person, and was now able to understand why I had been dealt with so mercifully. I could not but marvel at the circumstances so strongly linked together—a boy's touloup, made a present of to a vagabond, had saved me from the noose, and a drunkard who had hung about wayside inns, was now besieging fortresses, and shaking the empire!

"Wilt thou take something to eat?" asked Savelitch, unchanged in his habits. "There is nothing at home. I shall go out, and if I can find something, it shall be got ready for thee."

Left alone, I gave myself up to reflection. What was there for me to do? To remain in a fortress that had fallen into the power of the wretch, or to join his band, was equally impossible for an officer. Duty bade me go where I might still be of service to my country in the present embarrassing circumstances. . . . But my attachment urged me strenuously to stay near Maria Ivanovna to be her protector and guardian. And although I fore-

  1. Cossack chieftain.—Tr.