He awoke, and all the horror of her position rose up in her mind. She rang. The maid entered, and in answer to her questions, replied that Kirila Petrovitch had set out the evening before for Arbatova, and had returned very late; that he had given strict orders that she was not to be allowed out of her room and that nobody was to be permitted to speak to her; that otherwise, there were no signs of any particular preparations for the wedding, except that the pope had been ordered not to leave the village under any pretext whatever. After disburdening herself of this news, the maid left Maria Kirilovna and again locked the door.
Her words hardened the young prisoner. Her head burned, her blood boiled. She resolved to inform Doubrovsky of everything, and she began to think of some means by which she could get the ring conveyed to the hole in the sacred oak. At that moment a stone struck against her window; the glass rattled, and Maria Kirilovna, looking out into the courtyard, saw the little Sasha making signs to her. She knew that he was attached to her, and she was pleased to see him.
"Good morning, Sasha; why do you call me?"
"I came, sister, to know if you wanted anything. Papa is angry, and has forbidden the whole house to obey you; but order me to do whatever you like, and I will do it for you."
"Thank you, my dear Sasha. Listen; you know the old hollow oak near the arbour?"
"Yes, I know it, sister."
"Then, if you love me, run there as quickly as you can and put this ring in the hollow; but take care that nobody sees you."
With these words, she threw the ring to him and closed the window.
The lad picked up the ring, and ran off with all his might, and in three minutes he arrived at the sacred tree. There he paused, quite out of breath, and after looking round on every side, placed the ring in the hollow. Having successfully accomplished his mission, he wanted to inform Maria Kirilovna of the fact at once, when suddenly a red-haired ragged boy darted out from behind the arbour, dashed towards the oak and thrust his hand into the hole. Sasha, quicker than a squirrel, threw himself upon him and seized him with both hands.
"What are you doing here?" said he sternly.
"What business is that of yours?" said the boy, trying to disengage himself.
"Leave that ring alone, red head," cried Sasha, "or I will teach you a lesson in my own style."
Instead of replying, the boy gave him a blow in the face with his fist; but Sasha still held him firmly in his grasp, and cried out at the top of his voice:
"Thieves! thieves! help! help!"
The boy tried to get away from him. He seemed to be about two years older than Sasha, and very much stronger; but Sasha was more agile. They struggled together for some minutes; at last the red-headed boy gained the advantage. He threw Sasha upon the ground and seized him by the throat. But at that moment a strong hand grasped hold of his shaggy red hair, and Stepan, the gardener, lifted him half a yard from the ground.
"Ah! you red-headed beast!" said the gardener. "How dare you strike the young gentleman?"
In the meantime, Sasha had jumped to his feet and recovered himself.
"You caught me under the arm-pits," said he, "or you would never have thrown me. Give me the ring at once and be off."
"It's likely!" replied the red-headed one, and suddenly twisting himself round, he disengaged his bristles from Stepan's hand.
Then he started off running, but Sasha overtook him, gave him a blow in the back, and the boy fell. The gardener again seized him and bound him with his belt.
"Give me the ring!" cried Sasha.
"Wait a moment, young master," said Stepan; "we will lead him to the bailiff to be questioned.".
The gardener led the captive into the courtyard of the manor-house, accompanied by Sasha, who glanced uneasily at his trousers, torn and stained with the grass. Suddenly all three found themselves face to face with Kirila Petrovitch, who was going to inspect his stables.
"What is the meaning of this?" he said to Stepan.
Stepan in a few words related all that had happened.
Kirila Petrovitch listened to him with attention.
"You rascal," said he, turning to Sasha: "why did you wrestle with him?"
"He stole a ring out of the hollow tree, papa; make him give up the ring."
"What ring? Out of what hollow tree?"
"The one that Maria Kirilovna ... the ring...." Sasha stammered and became confused. Kirila Petrovitch frowned and said, shaking his head:
"Ah! Maria Kirilovna is mixed up in this. Confess everything, or I will give you such a birching as you have never had in your life."
"As true as heaven, papa, I ... papa ... Maria Kirilovna never told me to do anything, papa."
"Stepan, go and cut me some fine, fresh birch twigs."
"Stop, papa, I will tell you all. I was running about the courtyard to-day, when sister Maria Kirilovna opened the window. I ran towards her, and she accidentally dropped a ring, and I went and hid it in the hollow tree, and ... and this red-headed fellow wanted to steal the ring."
"She did not drop it accidentally,—you wanted to hide it ... Stepan, go and get the birch twigs."
"Papa, wait, I will tell you everything. Sister Maria Kirilovna told me to run to the oak tree and put the ring in the hollow; I ran and did so, but this nasty fellow——"
Kirila Petrovitch turned to the "nasty fellow" and said to him sternly:
"To whom do you belong?"
"I belong to my master Doubrovsky."
Kirila Petrovitch's face grew dark.
"It seems, then, that you do not recognize me as your master. Very well. What were you doing in my garden?"
"I was stealing raspberries."
"Ah, ah! the servant is like his master. As the pope is, so is his parish. And do my raspberries grow upon oak trees? Have you ever heard so?"
The boy did not reply.
"Papa, make him give up the ring," said Sasha.
"Silence, Alexander!" replied Kirila Petrovitch; "don't forget that I intend to settle with you presently. Go to your room. And you, squint-eyes, you seem to me to be a knowing sort of lad; if you confess everything to me, I will not whip you, but will give you a five copeck piece to buy nuts with. Give lip the ring and go."
The boy opened his fist and showed that there was nothing in his hand.
"If you don't, I shall do something to you that you little expect. Now!"
The boy did not answer a word, but stood with his head bent down, looking like a perfect simpleton.
"Very well!" said Kirila Petrovitch: "lock him up somewhere, and see that he does not escape, or I'll skin the whole household."
Stepan conducted the boy to the pigeon loft, locked him in there, and ordered the old poultry woman, Agatha, to keep a watch upon him.
"There is no doubt about it: she has kept up intercourse with that accursed Doubrovsky. But if she has really invoked his aid——" thought Kirila Petrovitch, pacing up and down the room, and angrily whistling his favourite air,——"I am hot upon his track, at all events, and he shall not escape me. We shall take advantage of this opportunity.... Hark! a bell; thank God, that is the sheriff. Bring here the boy that is locked up."
In the meantime, a small telega drove into the courtyard, and our old acquaintance, the sheriff, entered the room, all covered with dust.
"Glorious news!" said Kirila Petrovitch: "I have caught Doubrovsky."
"Thank God, Your Excellency!" said the sheriff, his face beaming with delight. "Where is he?"
"That is to say, not Doubrovsky himself, but one of his band. He will be here presently. He will help us to apprehend his chief. Here he is."
The sheriff, who expected to see some fierce-looking brigand, was astonished to perceive a lad of thirteen years of age, of somewhat delicate appearance. He turned to Kirila Petrovitch with an incredulous look, and awaited an explanation. Kirila Petrovitch then began to relate the events of the morning, without, however, mentioning the name of Maria Kirilovna.
The sheriff listened to him attentively, glancing from time to time at the young rogue, who, assuming a look of imbecility, seemed to be paying no attention to all that was going on around him.
"Will Your Excellency allow me to speak to you apart?" said the sheriff at last.
Kirila Petrovitch conducted him into the next room and locked the door after him.
Half an hour afterwards they returned to the hall, where the captive was awaiting the decision respecting his fate.
"The master wished," said the sheriff to him, "to have you locked up in the town gaol, to be whipped, and then to be sent to the convict settlement; but I interceded for you and have obtained your pardon. Untie him!"
The lad was unbound.
"Thank the master," said the sheriff.
The lad went up to Kirila Petrovitch and kissed his hand.
"Run away home," said Kirila Petrovitch to him, "and in future do not steal raspberries from oak trees."
The lad went out, ran merrily down the steps, and without looking behind him, dashed off across the fields in the direction of Kistenevka. On reaching the village, he stopped at a half-ruined hut, the first from the corner, and tapped at the window. The window was opened, and an old woman appeared.
"Grandmother, some bread!" said the boy: "I have eaten nothing since this morning; I am dying of hunger."
"Ah! it is you, Mitia; but where have you been all this time, you little devil?" asked the old woman.
"I will tell you afterwards, grandmother. For God's sake, some bread!"
"Come into the hut, then."
"I haven't the time, grandmother; I've got to run on to another place. Bread, for the Lord's sake, bread!"
"What a fidget!" grumbled the old woman: "there's a piece for you," and she pushed through the window a slice of black bread.
The boy bit it with avidity, and then continued his course, eating it as he went.
It was beginning to grow dark. Mitia made his way along by the corn kilns and kitchen gardens into the Kistenevka wood. On arriving at the two pine trees, standing like advanced guards before the wood, he paused, x looked round on every side, gave a shrill, abrupt whistle, and then listened. A light and prolonged whistle was heard in reply, and somebody came out of the wood and advanced towards him.
 Diminutive of Dimitry (Demetrius).