United so unexpectedly with the dear girl, about whom I was so terribly uneasy that very morning, I could scarcely believe the evidence of my senses, and imagined that everything that had happened to me was nothing but an empty dream. Maria Ivanovna gazed thoughtfully, now at me, now at the road, and seemed as if she had not yet succeeded in recovering her senses. We were both silent. Our hearts were too full of emotion. The time passed almost imperceptibly, and after journeying for about two hours, we reached the next fortress, which was also subject to Pougatcheff. Here we changed horses. By the rapidity with which this was effected, and by the obliging manner of the bearded Cossack who had been appointed Commandant by Pougatcheff, I perceived that, thanks to the gossip of our driver, I was taken for a favourite of their master.
We continued our journey. It began to grow dark. We approached a small town, where, according to the bearded Commandant, there was a strong detachment on its way to join the impostor. We were stopped by the sentries. In answer to the challenge: "Who goes there?" our driver replied in a loud voice: "The Czar's friend with his little, wife."
Suddenly a troop of hussars surrounded us, uttering the most terrible curses.
"Step down, friend of the devil!" said a moustached sergeant-major. "We will make it warm for you and your little wife!"
I got out of the kibitka and requested to be brought before their commander. On seeing my officer's uniform, the soldiers ceased their imprecations, and the sergeant conducted me to the major.
Savelitch followed me, muttering:
"So much for your being a friend of the Czar! Out of the frying-pan into the fire. Lord Almighty! how is all this going to end?"
The kibitka followed behind us at a slow pace.
In about five minutes we arrived at a small, well-lighted house. The sergeant-major left me under a guard and entered to announce me. He returned immediately and informed me that his Highness had no time to receive me, but that he had ordered that I should be taken to prison, and my wife conducted into his presence.
"What does this mean?" I exclaimed in a rage. "Has he taken leave of his senses?"
"I do not know, your lordship," replied the sergeant-major. "Only his Highness has ordered that your lordship should be taken to prison, and her ladyship conducted into his presence, your lordship!"
I dashed up the steps. The sentinel did not think of detaining me, and I made my way straight into the room, where six Jiussar officers were playing at cards. The major was dealing. What was my astonishment when, looking at him attentively, I recognized Ivan Ivanovitch Zourin, who had once beaten me at play in the Simbirsk tavern.
"Is it possible?" I exclaimed. "Ivan Ivanovitch! Is it really you?"
"Zounds! Peter Andreitch! What chance has brought you here? Where have you come from? How is it with you, brother? Won't you join in a game of cards?"
"Thank you, but I would much rather you give orders for quarters to be assigned to me."
"What sort of quarters do you want? Stay with me."
"I cannot: I am not alone."
"Well, bring your comrade with you."
"I have no comrade with me; I am with a—lady."
"A lady! Where did you pick her up? Aha, brother mine!"
And with these words, Zourin whistled so significantly that all the others burst out laughing, and I felt perfectly confused.
"Well," continued Zourin: "let it be so. You shall have quarters. But it is a pity.... We should have had one of our old sprees.... I say, boy! Why don't you bring in Pougatcheff's lady friend? Or is she obstinate? Tell her that she need not be afraid, that the gentleman is very kind and will do her no harm—then bring her in by the collar."
"What do you mean?" said I to Zourin. "What lady-friend of Pougatcheff's are you talking of? It is the daughter of the late Captain Mironoff. I have released her from captivity, and I am now conducting her to my father's country seat, where I am going to leave her."
"What! Was it you then who was announced to me just now? In the name of Heaven! what does all this mean?"
"I will tell you later on. For the present, I beg of you to set at ease the mind of this poor girl, who has been terribly frightened by your hussars."
Zourin immediately issued the necessary orders. He went out himself into the street to apologize to Maria Ivanovna for the involuntary misunderstanding, and ordered the sergeant-major to conduct her to the best lodging in the town. I remained to spend the night with him.
We had supper, and when we two were left together, I related to him my adventures. Zourin listened to me with the greatest attention. When I had finished, he shook his head, and said:
"That is all very well, brother; but there is one thing which is not so; why the devil do you want to get married? As an officer and a man of honour, I do not wish to deceive you; but, believe me, marriage is all nonsense. Why should you saddle yourself with a wife and be compelled to dandle children? Scout the idea. Listen to me: shake off this Captain's daughter. I have cleared the road to Simbirsk, and it is quite safe. Send her to-morrow by herself to your parents, and you remain with my detachment. There is no need for you to return to Orenburg. If you should again fall into the hands of the rebels, you may not escape from them so easily a second time. In this way your love folly will die a natural death, and everything will end satisfactorily."
Although I did not altogether agree with him, yet I felt that duty and honour demanded my presence in the army of the Empress. I resolved to follow Zourin's advice: to send Maria Ivanovna to my father's estate, and to remain with his detachment.
Savelitch came in to help me to undress; I told him that he was to get ready the next day to accompany Maria Ivanovna on her journey. He began to make excuses.
"What do you say, my lord? How can I leave you? Who will look after you? What will your parents say?"
Knowing the obstinate disposition of my follower, I resolved to get round him by wheedling and coaxing him.
"My dear friend, Arkhip Savelitch!" I said to him: "do not refuse me; be my benefactor. I do not require a servant here, and I should not feel easy if Maria Ivanovna were to set out on her journey without you. By serving her you will be serving me, for I am firmly resolved to marry her, as soon as circumstances will permit."
Here Savelitch clasped his hands with an indescribable look of astonishment.
"To marry!" he repeated: "the child wants to marry! But what will your father say? And your mother, what will she think?"
"They will give their consent, without a doubt, when they know Maria Ivanovna," I replied. "I count upon you. My father and mother have great confidence in you; you will therefore intercede for us, won't you?"
The old man was touched.
"Oh, my father, Peter Andreitch!" he replied, "although you are thinking of getting married a little too early, yet Maria Ivanovna is such a good young lady, that it would be a pity to let the opportunity escape. I will do as you wish. I will accompany her, the angel, and I will humbly say to your parents, that such a bride does not need a dowry."
I thanked Savelitch, and then lay down to sleep in the same room with Zourin. Feeling very much excited, I began to chatter. At first Zourin listened to my remarks very willingly; but little by little his words became rarer and more disconnected, and at last, instead of replying to' one of my questions, he began to snore. I stopped talking and soon followed his example.
The next morning I betook myself to Maria Ivanovna. I communicated to her my plans. She recognized the reasonableness of them, and immediately agreed to carry them out. Zourin's detachment was to leave the town that day. There was no time to be lost. I at once took leave of Maria Ivanovna, confiding her to the care of Savelitch, and giving her a letter to my parents.
Maria burst into tears.
"Farewell, Peter Andreitch," said she in a gentle voice. "God alone knows whether we shall ever see each other again or not; but I will never forget you; till my dying day you alone shall live in my heart!"
I was unable to reply. There was a crowd of people around us, and I did not wish to give way to my feelings before them. At last she departed. I returned to Zourin, silent and depressed. He endeavoured to cheer me up, and I tried to divert my thoughts; we spent the day in noisy mirth, and in the evening we set out on our march.
It was now near the end of February. The winter, which had rendered all military movements extremely difficult, was drawing to its close, and our generals began to make preparations for combined action. Pougatcheff was still under the walls of Orenburg, but our divisions united and began to close in from every side upon the rebel camp. On the appearance of our troops, the revolted villages returned to their allegiance; the rebel bands everywhere retreated before us, and everything gave promise of a speedy and successful termination to the campaign.
Soon afterwards Prince Golitzin defeated Pougatcheff under the walls of the fortress of Tatischtscheff, routed his troops, relieved Orenburg, and to all appearances seemed to have given the final and decisive blow to the rebellion. Zourin was sent at this time against a band of rebellious Bashkirs, who, however, dispersed before we were able to come up with them. The spring found us in a little Tartar village. The rivers overflowed their banks, and the roads became impassable. We consoled ourselves for our inaction with the thought that there would soon be an end to this tedious petty warfare with brigands and savages.
But Pougatcheff was not yet taken. He soon made his appearance in the manufacturing districts of Siberia, where he collected new bands of followers and once more commenced his marauding expeditions. Reports of fresh successes on his part were soon in circulation. We heard of the destruction of several Siberian fortresses. Then came the news of the capture of Kazan, and the march of the impostor to Moscow, which greatly disturbed the leaders of the army, who had fondly imagined that the power of the despised rebel had been completely broken. Zourin received orders to cross the Volga.
I will not describe our march and the conclusion of the war. I will only say that the campaign was as calamitous as it possibly could be. Law and order came to an end everywhere, and the land-holders concealed themselves in the woods. Bands of robbers scoured the country in all directions; the commanders of isolated detachments punished and pardoned as they pleased; and the condition of the extensive territory in which the conflagration raged, was terrible.... Heaven grant that we may never see such, a senseless and merciless revolt again!
Pougatcheff took to flight, pursued by Ivan Ivanovitch Michelson. We soon heard of his complete overthrow. At last Zourin received news of the capture of the impostor, and, at the same time, orders to halt. The war was ended. At last it was possible for me to return to my parents. The thought of embracing them, and of seeing Maria Ivanovna, again, of whom I had received no information, filled me with delight. I danced about like a child. Zourin laughed and said with a shrug of his shoulders:
"No good will come of it! If you get married, you are lost!"
In the meantime a strange feeling poisoned my joy: the thought of that evil-doer, covered with the blood of so many innocent victims, and of the punishment that awaited him, troubled me involuntarily.
"Emelia, Emelia!" I said to myself with vexation, "why did you not dash yourself against the bayonets, or fall beneath the bullets? That was the best thing you could have done."
And how could I feel otherwise? The thought of him was inseparably connected with the thought of the mercy which he had shown to me in one of the most terrible moments of my life, and with the deliverance of my bride from the hands of the detested Shvabrin.
Zourin granted me leave of absence. In a few days' time I should again be in the midst of my family, and should once again set eyes upon the face of my Maria Ivanovna.... Suddenly an unexpected storm burst upon me.
On the day of my departure, and at the very moment when I was preparing to set out, Zourin came to my hut, holding in his hand a paper, and looking exceedingly troubled. A pang went through my heart. I felt alarmed, without knowing why. He sent my servant out of the room, and said that he had something to tell me.
"What is it?" I asked with uneasiness.
"Something rather disagreeable," replied he, giving me the paper. "Read what I have just received."
I read it: it was a secret order to all the commanders of detachments to arrest me wherever I might be found, and to send me without delay under a strong guard to Kazan, to appear before the Commission instituted for the trial of Pougatcheff.
The paper nearly fell from my hands.
"There is no help for it," said Zourin, "my duty is to obey orders. Probably the report of your intimacy with Pougatcheff has in some way reached the ears of the authorities. I hope that the affair will have no serious consequences, and that you will be able to justify yourself before the Commission. Keep up your spirits and set out at once."
My conscience was clear, and I did not fear having to appear before the tribunal; but the thought that the hour of my meeting with Maria might be deferred for several months, filled me with misgivings.
The telega was ready. Zourin took a friendly leave of me, and I took my place in the vehicle. Two hussars with drawn swords seated themselves, one on each side of me, and we set out for our destination.
 Diminutive of Emelian.
 After having advanced to the gates of Moscow, Pougatcheff was defeated, and being afterwards sold by his accomplices for 100,000 roubles, he was imprisoned in an iron cage and carried to Moscow, where he was executed in the year 1775.
 An open vehicle without springs.