"The young girl was raised up. She seemed to me not at all bad-looking. . . . Impelled by an incomprehensible, unpardonable levity, I placed myself by her side in front of the pulpit; the priest hurried on; three men and a chambermaid supported the bride and only occupied themselves with her. We were married.
"'Kiss each other!' said the witnesses to us.
"My wife turned her pale face towards me. I was about to kiss her, when she exclaimed: 'Oh! it is not he! it is not he!' and fell senseless.
"The witnesses gazed at me in alarm. I turned round and left the church without the least hindrance, flung myself into the kibitka and cried: 'Drive off!'
"My God!" exclaimed Maria Gavrilovna. "And you do not know what became of your poor wife?"
"I do not know," replied Bourmin; "neither do I know the name of the village where I was married, nor the poststation where I set out from. At that time I attached so little importance to my wicked prank, that on leaving the church, I fell asleep, and did not awake till the next morning aftei leaching the third station. The servant, who was then with me, died during the campaign, so that I have no hope of ever discovering the woman upon whom I played such a cruel joke, and who is now so cruelly avenged."
"My God! my God! "cried Maria Gavrilovna, seizing him by the hand: "then it was you! And you do not recognize me?"
Bourmin turned pale—and threw himself at her feet.