Твори О.С. Пушкіна.Переклад англійською мовою > THE CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTER > XII. The Orphan

THE CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTER

 

XII. The Orphan

 

Even as our apple tree
Has neither leafy top nor spreading branches,
So has our little princess
Neither father nor mother.
There is no one to dress her.
There is no one to bless her.

A WEDDING SONG

The wagon drew up to the porch of the commandant's house. The people recognized Pugachev's bell and ran crowding after us. Shvabrin met the pretender on the porch. He was dressed like a Cossack and had grown a beard. The traitor helped Pugachev out of the wagon, voicing his joy and zeal in obsequious terms. When he saw me he became confused, but he soon recovered himself and offered his hand, saying, "So you, too, are on our side? High time!"
I turned away and did not answer anything.
My heart ached when we entered the long-familiar room, where the late commandant's commission still hung on the wall as a melancholy epitaph upon the past. Pugachev sat down on the same sofa on which Ivan Kuzmich used to be lulled to sleep by the grumbling of his spouse. Shvabrin himself brought in some vodka to offer to the pretender. Pugachev emptied his glass and said to him, pointing at me, "Offer some to His Honor, too."
Shvabrin came up to me with his tray, but I turned away from him once more. He seemed to be extremely ill at ease. With his usual perceptiveness he could, of course, guess that Pugachev was dissatisfied with him. He was cringing with fear before the pretender and kept glancing at me with suspicion. Pugachev asked him how things were at the fort, what he had heard about enemy troops, and so forth, and then suddenly turned on him with a question:
"Tell me, brother, what girl is this you're keeping here locked up? Show her to me."
Shvabrin turned pale as a corpse.
"Your Majesty," he said in a trembling voice, "Your Majesty, she's not locked up ... She's sick... She's in bed in her room."
"Lead me to her, then," said the pretender, rising from his seat.
There was no way to refuse him. Shvabrin went forward to lead Pugachev to Maria Ivanovna's room. I followed behind.
Shvabrin stopped on the stairs.
"Your Majesty," he said, "you're free to demand of me whatever you wish, but do not order me to let a stranger into my wife's bedroom."
I shuddered.
"So you're married!" I said to him, ready to tear him into pieces.
"Quiet!" Pugachev interrupted me. "This is my business. And you," he continued, turning to Shvabrin, "stop making excuses and raising difficulties: whether she's your wife or not, I will bring in whoever I please. Follow me, Your Honor."
Shvabrin stopped once more at the door of the bedroom and said in a faltering voice, "Your Majesty, I must warn you that she's in a delirium and has been raving incessantly for the last three days."
"Open the door!" said Pugachev.
Shvabrin searched his pockets and declared that he had not brought the key with him. Pugachev kicked the door; the lock flew off, the door flung open, and we entered.
I took one look and froze with fright. Maria Ivanovna, in a tattered peasant dress, pale and thin, with her hair dishevelled, sat on the floor. A jug of water covered with a chunk of bread stood before her. Seeing me, she shuddered and cried out. What I felt at that moment I cannot describe.
Pugachev looked at Shvabrin and said with a sarcastic smile, "Nice sick ward you have!" Then, approaching Maria Ivanovna: "Tell me, dear heart, what's your husband punishing you for? What have you done to offend him so?"
"My husband!" she repeated. "He's not my husband. I'll never be his wife! I've resolved I'd sooner die, and will die if I'm not set free."
Pugachev looked at Shvabrin menacingly.
"How dare you deceive me?" he asked him. "Do you know, rascal, what you deserve for this?"
Shvabrin fell on his knees... At that moment my contempt of him muffled all the hatred and anger I bore him. I was disgusted to see a nobleman grovelling at the feet of a fugitive Cossack. Pugachev relented.
"I'll pardon you this time," he said to Shvabrin, "but bear in mind that one more offence, and this one will also be remembered." Then he turned to Maria Ivanovna, saying to her kindly, "Go free, pretty maiden: I grant you freedom. I am your Sovereign."
Maria Ivanovna cast a quick glance at him and guessed that the murderer of her parents was standing before her. She covered her face with both hands and fainted away. I rushed to her side; but at this moment my old acquaintance Palashka pushed her way into the room boldly and took over the care of her young mistress. Pugachev left the bedroom, and the three of us went to me parlor.
"Well, Your Honor," said Pugachev, laughing, "we've delivered the pretty maiden! What do you think, should we send for the priest and make him marry his niece to you? I'll be father by proxy, if you like, and Shvabrin can be your best man: we'll feast and drink and banish sorrow!"
What I had been afraid of, now happened. Hearing Pugachev's suggestion, Shvabrin flew into a passion.
"Your Majesty!" he shouted, beside himself. "I'm guilty, I lied to you, but Grinev is also deceiving you. This girl is not the niece of the Belogorsk priest: she's the daughter of Ivan Mironov, who was executed when the fort was taken."
Pugachev fixed his fiery eyes on me.
"What's this now?" he asked me, bewildered.
"Shvabrin is telling the truth," I answered firmly.
"You didn't mention this to me," Pugachev remarked, and a cloud came over his features.
"Just consider," I replied, "could I have declared in front of your men that Mironov's daughter was alive? They would've torn her to pieces. Nothing could've saved her!"
"That's true enough," laughed Pugachev. "My drunkards wouldn't have spared the poor girl. That old dear, the priest's wife, did right to deceive them."
"Listen," I continued, seeing his favourable mood, "I don't know what to call you, and I don't wish to know... But God is my witness, I'd be glad to repay you with my life for what you've done for me. Only don't demand of me anything that is against my honor and Christian conscience. You are my benefactor. Please conclude the matter as you began it: let me and the poor orphan go free, wherever God will guide us. And wherever you may be, whatever may happen to you, we will pray to God every day to save your sinful soul..."
Pugachev's hardened soul, it seemed, was touched.
"Oh, well, let it be as you say," he said. "Hang him or spare him: don't do things by halves. That is my principle. Take your beautiful one, go with her where you want, and may God grant you peace and happiness!"
Then he turned to Shvabrin and ordered him to issue me a pass for all the outposts and forts he had occupied. Shvabrin, entirely crushed, stood rooted to the ground. Pugachev went to inspect the fort. Shvabrin followed him, while I stayed under the pretext of making preparations for our departure.
I ran to the bedroom. The door was locked. I knocked.
"Who's there?" asked Palashka.
I called out my name. Maria Ivanovna's sweet voice answered from behind the door. "Wait a moment, Petr Andreich. I'm changing. Go to Akulina Pamfilovna's: I'll be there in a minute."
I obeyed and went to Father Gerasim's house. Both he and his wife ran out to greet me. Savelich had already informed them of what had happened.
"Welcome, Petr Andreich," said the priest's wife. "It was God's will that we should meet again. How are you? We've been talking about you every day. And Maria Ivanovna, my little lamb, what has she gone through without you! But tell me, dear, how come you get on so well with Pugachev? How is it that he didn't dispatch you to kingdom come? For that at least we should be grateful to the villain."
"That'll do, old woman," Father Gerasim interrupted her. "There's no need to gabble about everything that comes into your head. Do not speak in vain as the heathens do. Petr Andreich, sir! Welcome, step right in. It's been a long, long time since we saw you last."
The priest's wife invited me to partake in whatever food there was in the house, and talked incessantly. She told me how Shvabrin had forced them to surrender Maria Ivanovna to him; how Maria Ivanovna had wept, unwilling to part with them; how she had managed to keep in touch with them through Palashka (a sprightly wench, who made even the sergeant dance to her tone); how she had advised Maria Ivanovna to write a letter to me, and so forth. I told her my own story briefly. The priest and his wife both crossed themselves when they heard that Pugachev had found out about their deception.
"May the Lord God protect us!" said Akulina Pamfilovna. "May the storm pass over! Oh, but that Aleksei Ivanych: a nasty bit of work, I'll vow!"
At that moment the door opened, and Maria Ivanovna came in with a smile on her pale face. She had shed her peasant costume and was dressed as always before, simply and tastefully.
I seized her hand and for a long time could not utter a single word. We both kept silent from a fullness of heart. Our host and hostess, feeling their presence superfluous, both left the room. We remained all alone. The whole world was forgotten. We talked and talked, and could not talk enough. Maria Ivanovna related to me everything that had happened to her since the taking of the fort; she described the full horror of her situation and all the torments she had experienced at the hands of the detestable Shvabrin. We recalled the earlier happy days too ... We both wept... At length I started outlining my plans to her. She could certainly not stay in the fort, under Pugachev's authority and Shvabrin's command. It would also have been senseless to go to Orenburg, subjected as it was to all the vicissitudes of a siege. She had not one relation in the whole wide world. I suggested to her that she go and stay with my parents in their village. At first she hesitated: she was afraid of my father since she knew about his unkindly feelings toward her. I reassured her. I knew that my father would consider it a blessing and an obligation to shelter the daughter of an honoured warrior who had given his life for the fatherland.
"My dear Maria Ivanovna!" I said at last. "I regard you as my wife. Our strange circumstances have united us inseparably: nothing in the world can make us part."
She listened to me simply, without affected bashfulness or coy reluctance. She felt that her fate was linked with mine. But she repeated that she would be my wife only if my parents gave their consent. I did not contradict her. We kissed fervently, with all our heart - and thus everything was settled between us.
After an hour the sergeant brought along my pass, with the pretender's signature scrawled on it, and told me that Pugachev wished to see me. I found him ready to leave. I cannot describe what I felt as I said farewell to this terrifying man, a monster and a blackguard to everyone except me. Why not confess the truth? At that moment I was drawn to him by a strong sense of sympathy. I ardently wished to extricate him from the company of the villains whose leader he was, and to save his head before it was too late. Shvabrin and the people crowding around us prevented me from expressing to him all the feelings that filled my heart.
We parted as friends. Seeing Akulina Pamfilovna in the crowd, Pugachev shook his finger at her and winked at her significantly; then he climbed into his wagon, giving orders to drive to Berda, and as the horses started off, he leaned out once more, shouting to me, "Farewell, Your Honor! Perhaps we'll see each other again!"
I was indeed to see him again, but under what circumstances!
Pugachev was gone. For a long time I gazed at the white steppe as his troika rapidly crossed it. The people dispersed. Shvabrin disappeared. I returned to the priest's house. Everything was ready for our departure, and I did not want to delay it any longer. Our belongings were all placed in the commandant's old carriage. The drivers harnessed the horses in no time. Maria Ivanovna went to pay a farewell visit to her parents' grave in the churchyard. I wanted to accompany her, but she asked me to let her go by herself. She returned in a few minutes, shedding silent tears. The carriage drew up. Father Gerasim and his wife came out on the porch. Three of us - Maria Ivanovna, Palashka, and I - took our seats inside the carriage, while Savelich climbed up on the box.
"Farewell, Maria Ivanovna, my little lamb! Farewell, Petr Andreich, my brave falcon!" said the good-hearted Akulina Pamfilovna. "Have a safe journey, and may God grant happiness to you both!"
We set off. I caught sight of Shvabrin standing at the window in the commandant's house. His face wore a surly expression of spite. I did not wish to appear to be triumphing over an annihilated enemy and turned my eyes the other way. At last we passed through the gate and left Fort Belogorsk behind forever.

 

      

I. The Sergeant of the Guards || II. The Guide|| III. The Fort || IV. The Duel|| V. Love || VI. The Pugachev Rebellion|| VII. The Assault || VIII. An Uninvited Guest|| IX. Separation || X.The Siege of a City|| XI. The Rebel Village|| XII. The Orphan || XIII. The Arrest || XIV. The Trial


 

Бібліотека ім. О. С. Пушкіна (м. Київ).
Про О.С. Пушкіна