We will now ask the permission of the reader to explain the last incidents of our story, by referring to the circumstances that preceded them, and which we have not yet had time to relate.
At the station of ——, at the house of the postmaster, of whom we have already spoken, sat a traveller in a corner, looking very modest and resigned, and having the appearance of a plebeian or a foreigner, that is to say, of a man having no voice in connection with the post route. His britchka stood in the courtyard, waiting for the wheels to be greased. Within it lay a small portmanteau, evidence of a very modest fortune. The traveller ordered neither tea nor coffee, but sat looking out of the window and whistling, to the great annoyance of the postmistress sitting behind the partition.
"The Lord has sent us a whistler," said she, in a low voice. "How he does whistle! I wish he would burst, the accursed pagan!"
"What does it matter?" said her husband. "Let him whistle!"
"What does it matter?" retorted his angry spouse; "don't you know the saying?"
"What saying? That whistling drives money away? Oh, Pakhomovna, whether he whistles or not, we shall get precious little money out of him."
"Then let him go, Sidoritch. What pleasure have you in keeping him here? Give him the horses, and let him go to the devil."
"He can wait, Pakhomovna. I have only three troikas in the stable, the fourth is resting. Besides, travellers of more importance may arrive at any moment, and I don't wish to risk my neck for a Frenchman.... Hallo! there you are! Don't you hear the sound of galloping! What a rate! Can it be a general?"
A caliche stopped in front of the steps. The servant jumped down from the box, opened the door, and a moment afterwards a young man in a military cloak and white cap entered the station. Behind him followed his servant, carrying a small box which he placed upon the window-ledge.
"Horses!" said the officer, in an imperious voice.
"Directly!" replied the postmaster: "your road-pass, if you please."
"I have no road-pass: I am not going to take the main road.... Besides, don't you recognize me?"
The postmaster hastened to hurry the postilions. The young man began to pace up and down the room. Then he went behind the partition, and inquired of the postmistress in a low voice:
"Who is that traveller?"
"God knows!" replied the postmistress: "some Frenchman or other. He has been five hours waiting for horses, and has done nothing but whistle the whole of the time. He has quite wearied me, the heathen!"
The young man spoke to the traveller in French.
"Where are you going to?" he asked.
"To the neighbouring town," replied the Frenchman: "and from there I am going to a landed proprietor who has engaged me as tutor without ever having seen me. I thought I should have reached the place to-day, but the postmaster has evidently decided otherwise. In this country it is difficult to procure horses, monsieur l'officier."
"And to which of the landed proprietors about here have you engaged yourself?" asked the officer.
"To Troekouroff," replied the Frenchman.
"To Troekouroff? Who is this Troekouroff?"
"Ma foi, monsieur. I have heard very little good of him. They say that he is a proud and wilful noble, and so harsh towards the members of his household, that nobody can live on good terms with him: that all tremble at his name, and that with his tutors he stands upon no ceremony whatever."
"And you have decided to engage yourself to such a monster?"
"What is to be done, monsieur l'officier? He proposes to give me good wages: three thousand roubles a year and everything found. Perhaps I may be more fortunate than the others. I have an aged mother: one half of my salary I will send to her for her support, and out of the rest of my money I shall be able in five years to save a small capital sufficient to make me independent for the rest of my life. Then, bon soir, I return to Paris and set up in business."
"Does anybody at Troekouroff's know you?" asked the officer.
"Nobody," replied the tutor. "He engaged me at Moscow, through one of his friends, whose cook is a countryman of mine, and who recommended me. I must tell you that I did not intend to be a tutor, but a confectioner; but I was told that in your country the profession of tutor is more lucrative."
The officer reflected.
"Listen to me," he said to the Frenchman: "What would you say if, instead of this engagement, you were offered ten thousand roubles, ready money, on condition that you returned immediately to Paris?"
The Frenchman looked at the officer in astonishment, smiled, and shook his head.
"The horses are ready," said the postmaster, entering the room at that moment.
The servant confirmed this statement.
"Presently," replied the officer: "leave the room for a moment." The postmaster and the servant withdrew "I am not joking," he continued in French. "I can give you ten thousand roubles; I only want your absence and your papers."
So saying, he opened his small box and took out of it several bank notes. The Frenchman opened his eyes. He did not know what to think.
"My absence ... my papers!" he repeated in astonishment. "Here are my papers ... but you are surely joking. What do you want my papers for?"
"That does not concern you. I ask you, do you consent or not?"
The Frenchman, still unable to believe his own ears, handed his papers to the young officer, who rapidly examined them.
"Your passport ... very well; your letter of recommendation ... let us see; the certificate of your birth ... capital! Well, here is your money; return home. Farewell."
The Frenchman stood as if glued to the spot. The officer came back.
"I had almost forgotten the most important thing of all. Give me your word of honour that all this will remain a secret between us.... Your word of honour."
"My word of honour," replied the Frenchman. "But my papers? What shall I do without them?"
"In the first town you come to, announce that you have been robbed by Doubrovsky. They will believe you, and give you fresh papers. Farewell: God grant you a safe and speedy return to Paris, and may you find your mother in good health."
Doubrovsky left the room, mounted the caliche, and galloped off.
The postmaster stood looking out of the window, and when the caliche had driven off, he turned to his wife, exclaiming:
"Pakhomovna, do you know who that was? That was Doubrovsky!"
The postmistress rushed towards the window, but it was too late. Doubrovsky was already a long way off. Then she began to scold her husband.
"You have no fear of God. Why did you not tell me sooner, I should at least have had a glimpse of Doubrovsky. But now I shall have to wait long enough before I get a chance of seeing him again. Shameless creature that you are!"
The Frenchman stood as if petrified. The agreement with the officer, the money—everything seemed like a dream to him. But the bundle of bank notes was there in his pocket, eloquently confirming the reality of the wonderful adventure.
He resolved to hire horses to take him to the next town. The postilion drove him very slowly, and he reached the town at nightfall.
On approaching the barrier, where, in place of a sentinel, stood a dilapidated sentry-box, the Frenchman told the postilion to stop, got out of the britchka and proceeded on foot, explaining by signs to the driver that he might keep the vehicle and the portmanteau and buy brandy with them. The driver was as much astonished at his generosity as the Frenchman himself had been by Doubrovsky's proposal. But concluding that the "German" had taken leave of his senses, the driver thanked him with a very profound bow, and not caring about entering the town, he made his way to a house of entertainment that was well known to him, and the proprietor of which was a friend of his. There he passed the whole night, and the next morning he started back on his return journey with the troika, without the britchka and without the portmanteau, but with a swollen face and# red eyes.
Doubrovsky, having possession of the Frenchman's papers, boldly appeared, as we have already seen, at the house of Troekouroff, and there established himself. Whatever, were his secret intentions—we shall know them later on—there was nothing in his behaviour to excite suspicion. It is true that he did not occupy himself very much with the education of little Sasha, to whom he allowed full liberty, nor was he very exacting in the matter of his lessons, which were only given for form's sake, but he paid great attention to the musical studies of his fair pupil, and frequently sat for hours beside her at the piano.
Everybody liked the young tutor: Kirila Petrovitch for his boldness and dexterity in the hunting-field; Maria Kirilovna for his unbounded zeal and slavish attentiveness; Sasha for his tolerance, and the members of the household for his kindness and generosity, apparently incompatible with his means. He himself seemed to be attached to the whole family, and already regarded himself as a member of it.
About a month had elapsed from the time of his entering upon the calling of tutor to the date of the memorable fête, and nobody suspected that the modest young Frenchman was in reality the terrible brigand whose name was a source of terror to all the landed proprietors of the neighbourhood. During all this time, Doubrovsky had never quitted Pokrovskoe, but the reports of his depredations did not cease for all that, thanks to the inventive imagination of the country people. It is possible, too, that his band may have continued their exploits during the absence of the chief.
Passing the night in the same room with a man whom he could only regard as a personal enemy, and one of the principal authors of his misfortune, Doubrovsky had not been able to resist temptation. He knew of the existence of the pouch, and had resolved to take possession of it.
We have seen how he frightened poor Anton Pafnoutitch by his unexpected transformation from a tutor into a brigand.
 A kind of open four-wheeled carriage, with a top and shutters to close at pleasure.
 A general name for all foreigners in Russia.