Kirila Petrovitch was pacing up and down the hall, whistling his favourite air louder than usual. The whole house was in a commotion; the servants were running about, and the maids were busy. In the courtyard there was a crowd of people. In Maria Kirilovna's dressing-room, before the looking-glass, a lady, surrounded by maidservants, was attiring the pale, motionless young bride. Her head bent languidly beneath the weight of her diamonds; she started slightly when a careless hand pricked her, but she remained silent, gazing absently into the mirror.
"Aren't you nearly finished?" said the voice of Kirila Petrovitch at the door.
"In a minute!" replied the lady. "Maria Kirilovna, get up and look at yourself. Is everything right?"
Maria Kirilovna rose, but made no reply. The door was opened.
"The bride is ready," said the lady to Kirila Petrovitch; "order the carriage."
"With God!" replied Kirila Petrovitch, and taking a sacred image from the table, "Approach, Masha," said he, in a voice of emotion; "I bless you...."
The poor girl fell at his feet and began to sob.
"Papa ... papa ..." she said through her tears, and then her voice failed her.
Kirila Petrovitch hastened to give her his blessing. She was raised up and almost carried into the carriage. Her godmother and one of the maidservants got in with her, and they drove off to the church. There the bridegroom was already waiting for them. He came forward to meet the bride, and was struck by her pallor and her strange look. They entered the cold deserted church together, and the door was locked behind them. The priest came out from the altar, and the ceremony at once began.
Maria Kirilovna saw nothing, heard nothing; she had been thinking of but one thing the whole morning: she expected Doubrovsky; nor did her hope abandon her for one moment. But when the priest turned to her with the usual question, she started and felt faint; but still she hesitated, still she expected. The priest, without waiting for her reply, pronounced the irrevocable words.
The ceremony was over. She felt the cold kiss of her hated husband; she heard the flattering congratulations of those present; and yet she could not believe that her life was bound for ever, that Doubrovsky had not arrived to deliver her. The Prince turned to her with tender words—she did not understand them. They left the church; in the porch was a crowd of peasants from Pokrovskoe. Tier glance rapidly scanned them, and again she exhibited her former insensibility. The newly-married couple seated themselves in the carriage and drove off to Arbatova, whither Kirila Petrovitch had already gone on before, in order to welcome the wedded pair there.
Alone with his young wife, the Prince was not in the least piqued by her cold manner. He did not begin to weary her with amorous protestations and ridiculous enthusiasm; his words were simple and required no answer. In this way they travelled about ten versts. The horses dashed rapidly along the uneven country roads, and the carriage scarcely shook upon its English springs. Suddenly were heard cries of pursuit. The carriage stopped, and a crowd of armed men surrounded it. A man in a half-mask opened the door on the side where the young Princess sat, and said to her:
"You are free! Alight."
"What does this mean?" cried the Prince. "Who are you that——"
"It is Doubrovsky," replied the Princess.
The Prince, without losing his presence of mind, drew from his side pocket a travelling pistol and fired at the masked brigand. The Princess shrieked, and, filled with horror, covered her face with both her hands. Doubrovsky was wounded in the shoulder; the blood was flowing. The Prince, without losing a moment, drew another pistol; but he was not allowed time to fire; the door was opened, and several strong arms dragged him out of the carriage and snatched the pistol from him. Above him flashed several knives.
"Do not touch him!" cried Doubrovsky, and his terrible associates drew back.
"Your are free!" continued Doubrovsky, turning to the pale Princess.
"No!" replied she; "it is too late! I am married. I am the wife of Prince Vereisky."
"What do you say?" cried Doubrovsky in despair. "No! you are not his wife. You were forced, you could never have consented."
"I have consented, I have taken the oath," she answered with firmness. "The Prince is my husband; give orders for him to be set at liberty, and leave me with him. I have not deceived you. I waited for you till the last moment ... but now, I tell you, now, it is too late. Let us go."
But Doubrovsky no longer heard her. The pain of his wound, and the violent emotion of his mind had deprived him of all power over himself. He fell against the wheel; the brigands surrounded him. He managed to say a few words to them. They placed him on horseback; two of them held him up, a third took the horse by the bridle, and all withdrew from the spot, leaving the carriage in the middle of the road, the servants bound, the horses unharnessed, but without carrying anything away with them, and without shedding one drop of blood in revenge for the blood of their chief.