Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/107

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night with a violent fever. She lay unconscious and delirious. Conducted to her room, I gently approached her bed. I was alarmed at her altered appearance. She did not recognize me! I stood and looked at her for a long time, regardless of Father Gherassim and of his good-natured wife, both of whom endeavoured to comfort me. I was agitated by gloomy thoughts. The condition of the poor, unprotected orphan, in the midst of lawless rebels, and my own helplessness in her behalf, terrified me. But Shvabrine, Shvabrine it was that most tormented me. Invested with authority by the Pretender, in command of the fortress where the unhappy girl, the innocent object of his hatred, would be left—he was capable of doing anything. Of what avail was I? What assistance could I render? How was I to free her from the villain's power? There was but one way; I decided upon going to Orenburg immediately, with the object of hastening and co-operating in the recovery of the fortress of Byĕlogorsk. I bid the priest and Akoulina Pamphylovna farewell, eagerly entrusting to their charge, her whom I already looked upon as my wife. I seized the poor girl's hand, my tears flowing fast as I kissed it.

"Good-bye," said the priest's wife, accompanying me to the door, "good-bye, Piotr Andrevitch. We must hope to meet in better times. Do not forget us, and mind you write often. Poor Maria Ivanovna has no one left now but yourself to protect her."

Returning to the square, I stopped an instant to look up at the gibbet, and inclined my head before it, then