Твори О.С. Пушкіна.Переклад англійською мовою > THE CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTER >XIV. The Trial

THE CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTER

 

XIV. The Trial

 

Speech on earth —
Ocean surf.

A PROVERB

I was sure that the cause of the whole affair was my unauthorized departure from Orenburg. I could easily justify myself, for not only had sorties never been forbidden, they had been fully encouraged. I could be accused of unwise impetuosity but not of disobedience. On the other hand, my friendly relations with Pugachev might have been reported by a number of witnesses and might have seemed, to say the least, highly suspicious. All during the journey I thought about the investigation awaiting me, turned over in my mind the answers I would give, and resolved to tell the plain truth before the tribunal, feeling certain that this was the simplest and at the same time the most reliable way to justify myself.
I arrived in Kazan, laid waste and ravaged by fire. Heaps of charcoal lined the streets instead of houses; blackened walls stuck out here and there, without roofs or windows. Such were the traces Pugachev had left behind! I was brought to the fortress, which had remained intact in the midst of the burned-down city. The hussars delivered me over to the officer of the guard. He sent for a blacksmith. Fetters were put around my ankles and hammered tight. Then I was taken to the prison and left alone in a narrow, dark, kennel-like cell, with bare walls and a tiny window crisscrossed by iron bars.
Such a beginning was not a good omen. But I did not lose either courage or hope. I resorted to the consolation of all those in distress, experiencing for the first time the comfort derived from prayer that pours forth from a pure but lacerated heart. I went to sleep calmly, not worrying about what the future would bring.
The next morning the prison guard woke me with a summons from the Commission. Two soldiers conducted me across the yard to the commandant's house; they stayed in the entrance hall and let me proceed into the inner rooms by myself.
I entered a good-sized chamber. Two men were seated behind a table covered with papers: a general of advanced years, who looked stern and cold, and a young captain of the Guards, aged about twenty-eight, who had a pleasant appearance and smooth, easy manners. Behind a separate desk by the window sat the secretary, with a quill stuck behind his ear, bending over his paper, ready to take down my deposition. The interrogation began. I was asked my name and tide. The general inquired if I was the son of Andrei Petrovich Grinev, and when he heard my answer, he sternly rejoined, "A great pity that such an honourable man should have such an unworthy son!"
I calmly replied that whatever the accusations levelled against me were, I hoped to refute them by a sincere recounting of the truth. He did not like my assurance.
"You're a sharp fellow," he said, frowning, "but we've dealt with sharper ones before now."
Then the young man asked me when and under what circumstances I had entered Pugachev's service, and what commissions I had carried out for him.
I answered with indignation that as an officer and a nobleman I could not have entered Pugachev's service and could not have accepted any commissions from him.
"How did it happen, then," rejoined my interrogator, "that this nobleman and officer was spared by the pretender while all his fellow officers were bestially murdered? How did it happen that this same officer and nobleman feasted with the rebels as their friend and accepted presents, such as a fur coat, a horse, and half a ruble, from the chief villain? What gave rise to this strange friendship, and what were its foundations if not treason or at least despicable and inexcusable cowardice?"
I was deeply offended by the words of the officer of the Guards and fervently began my justification. I related how my acquaintance with Pugachev had begun on the steppe during a blizzard, and how he had recognized and spared me after the taking of Fort Belogorsk. I said that I had indeed not scrupled to accept the sheepskin coat and horse from the pretender, but I had defended Fort Belogorsk against him to the last extremity. Finally I made reference to my general, who could testify to my zeal during the calamitous Orenburg siege.
The stern old man picked up an opened letter from the table and read aloud the following:

In answer to Your Excellency's letter of inquiry with regard to Ensign Grinev, according to which he had involved himself in the recent uprising and had entered into such dealings with the villain as constitute a breach of duty and a breaking of his oath of allegiance, I have the honor to report that the above-named Ensign Grinev served in Orenburg from the beginning of October 1773 till February 24 of the current year, on which date he departed from the city, never again reporting for duty under my command. Further, it has been reported by fugitives that he visited Pugachev in the village and rode together with him to Fort Belogorsk, where he had earlier been stationed; as for his conduct, I can...

Here the old man interrupted his reading and said to me grimly, "What can you say in your defence now?"
I was going to continue as I had begun, explaining my relations to Maria Ivanovna just as frankly as I had explained everything else, but suddenly I was overcome by an uncontrollable feeling of disgust. It occurred to me that if I named her, the Commission would summon her to testify: the thought of getting her name entangled with the vile denunciations of scoundrels, and of bringing her here for a confrontation with them, struck me as so horrible that I started to stammer in confusion.
My judges, who it seemed to me had begun listening to my answers with a little more benevolence, grew prejudiced against me once more as they saw my confusion. The officer of the Guards requested that I be confronted with the principal witness who had denounced me. The general ordered "yesterday's scoundrel" brought in. I turned toward the door with great interest, awaiting the appearance of my accuser. In a few minutes there was a clanking of chains, the door opened, and — Shvabrin entered. I was astonished to see how much he had changed. He was terribly thin and pale. His hair, jet-black only a short while before, had turned entirely gray, and his long beard was dishevelled. He repeated his accusations in a weak but defiant voice. According to his testimony, I had been sent to Orenburg by Pugachev as a spy; had sallied out daily in order to pass written reports to the rebels about conditions in the city; and in the end had openly gone over to the pretender's side, travelling with him from fort to fort and doing everything in my power to cause harm to my fellow traitors so as to occupy their places and gain more favours from the pretender. I listened to him silently and was satisfied on one score: the vile scoundrel had not pronounced the .name of Maria Ivanovna. I do not know whether his vanity forbade any thought of her who had rejected him with contempt or whether he harboured in his heart a spark of the same feeling that made me silent - in any case, the name of the Belogorsk commandant's daughter was not mentioned before the Commission. I grew even more firm in my resolve, and when the judges asked me what I had to say in refutation of Shvabrin's testimony, I replied that I wished to stand by my previous statement and had nothing else to add in self-justification. The general ordered us to be conducted from the room. We went out together. I looked at Shvabrin calmly and did not say a single word to him. He broke into a spiteful grin, lifted his shackles, and hurried past me. I was led back to prison and was not summoned for further interrogation.
I was not a witness to everything that I still have to relate to the reader, but I have heard it told so many times that even the minutest details have been engraved on my memory, as if I myself had been invisibly present at the events.
My parents received Maria Ivanovna with the sincere cordiality characteristic of people in the olden times. They regarded the opportunity to shelter and comfort the poor orphan as God's blessing. They soon grew genuinely fond of her, for it was impossible not to love her once you came to know her. My father no longer regarded my love as mere folly, and my mother could not wait to see her Petrushka married to the captain's charming daughter.
The whole family was thunderstruck by the news of my arrest. Maria Ivanovna had related my strange acquaintance with Pugachev so innocently that it not only did not worry my parents, but even made them laugh heartily. My father was loath to think that I could possibly have been involved in a vile rebellion aimed at overthrowing the monarchy and exterminating the nobility. He closely interrogated Savelich. My attendant did not conceal that his master had visited with Pugachev, and that the villain had indeed shown him favour, but he swore that there had never been even a suspicion of treason. My old ones felt reassured and waited impatiently for more favourable tidings. Maria Ivanovna was extremely worried, but being endowed with modesty and caution to the highest degree, she kept silent.
A few weeks passed... Then, unexpectedly, my father received a letter from Petersburg, from our relation Prince B. The Prince was writing about me. After the usual introductory remarks, he informed my father that the suspicions concerning my participation in the rebels' evil designs had unfortunately proved to be all too well-founded, and that I ought to have been subject to exemplary execution; but the Empress, in consideration of the father's services and advanced years, had pardoned the guilty son, exempting him from shameful execution but ordering him exiled to a distant part of Siberia for permanent settlement.
This unexpected blow almost killed my father. He lost his usual firmness of character, and his sorrow (which he would normally have borne in silence) poured forth in bitter lamentations.
"What!" he would repeat, working himself into a rage. "My son was a party to Pugachev's evil designs! Merciful God, what have I lived to see! The Empress is exempting him from execution! Will that make me feel any easier? It's not the execution that's horrible: one of my forefathers lost his head on the block defending his sacred convictions; and my father suffered along with Volynskii and Khrushchev. But that a nobleman should break his oath and ally himself with brigands, murderers, and runaway serfs!... It's a shame and disgrace to our family!"
Alarmed by his despair, my dear mother did not dare weep in his presence and tried to console him by talking about the unreliability of rumours and the fickleness of the world's opinions. But my father was inconsolable.
The person who suffered most, however, was Maria Ivanovna. Convinced that I could have vindicated myself if I had wanted to, she guessed the truth and blamed herself for my misfortune. She concealed her tears and torments from everybody, but incessantly brooded over what means she could employ to rescue me.
One evening my father sat on the sofa leafing through the pages of the Court Calendar. His thoughts, however, were far away, and the reading did not produce the usual effect on him. From time to time he would whistle an old military march. My mother was knitting a woollen jersey in silence, occasionally dropping a tear on her work. Suddenly Maria Ivanovna, who was also sitting over her work, declared that her affairs required her to travel to Petersburg, and asked if they could provide her with the means to undertake the journey. It saddened my mother very much.
"Why do you need to go to Petersburg?" she asked. "Do you too want to forsake us?"
Maria Ivanovna answered that her whole future depended on this trip, and that she was going to seek protection and help from the powers that be, as the daughter of a man who had suffered for his faithful service.
My father lowered his head: every word that reminded him of his son's presumed crime pained him and sounded like a bitter reproach to him.
"Go, my dear, go," he said with a sigh. "We wouldn't want to stand in the way of your happiness. God grant you a good man, not a publicly dishonoured traitor, for a husband."
He rose and went out of the room.
Left alone with my mother, Maria Ivanovna explained something of her plans to her. Mother embraced her with tears in her eyes and prayed to God for the success of her undertaking. They equipped Maria Ivanovna for the journey, and in a few days she set out, accompanied by her faithful Palashka and by the equally faithful Savelich, who, separated from me by force, was comforted by the thought that he was at least serving my betrothed.
Maria Ivanovna arrived safely in Sofia, and hearing at the post station that the Court currently resided at Tsarskoe Selo, she stopped there. They let her have a corner of a room behind a partition. The stationmaster's wife immediately entered into a conversation with her, informing her that she was a niece of the Court stoker, and initiating her into all the mysteries of Court life. She told her what time the Empress usually woke up, drank her coffee, and went out walking; which dignitaries were currently surrounding her; what she had graciously said over the table the day before; and whom she had received in the evening - to put it briefly, Anna Vlasevna's conversation was worth several pages of historical memoirs and, if preserved, would have been a precious gift to posterity. Maria Ivanovna listened to her attentively. They walked out into the park. Anna Vlasevna related the history of every avenue and every little bridge. Having walked to their hearts' content, they returned to the post station highly satisfied with each other.
The next morning Maria Ivanovna woke early, got dressed, and stole out into the park. It was a beautiful morning; the rays of the sun fell on the tops of the lime trees, whose leaves had already turned yellow under autumn's fresh breath. The wide pond glittered motionless. The swans, just awakened, majestically swam out from behind the bushes that overhung the banks. Maria Ivanovna walked by the lovely field where a monument commemorating Count Petr Aleksandrovich Rumiantsev's recent victories had just been erected. Suddenly a little white dog of English breed ran barking toward her. Frightened, Maria Ivanovna stopped. At the same moment she heard a pleasant feminine voice say, "Don't be afraid; she won't bite you."
Maria Ivanovna caught sight of a lady seated on a bench opposite the monument. She sat down on the other end of the bench. The lady looked at her intently, and on her part Maria Ivanovna, casting a few oblique glances at her, also managed to size up the lady from head to foot. She wore a white morning dress, a nightcap, and a padded sleeveless jacket. She seemed to be about forty. Her round, rosy cheeks expressed dignity and calm; and her blue eyes, together with the shadow of a smile playing on her lips, were inexpressibly charming. The lady was the first to break the silence.
"You do not live around here, I take it," she said.
"No, ma'am: I arrived from the country only yesterday."
"Did you come with your parents?"
"No, ma'am, I came by myself."
"By yourself! But you're so young!"
"I have neither father nor mother."
"You must have come on some business, of course?"
"Yes, ma'am. I have come to present a petition to the Empress."
"As an orphan, you're probably complaining against injustice and maltreatment?"
"No, ma'am. I have come to ask for mercy, not for justice."
"Allow me to ask, who are you?"
"I am the daughter of Captain Mironov."
"Captain Mironov! The same who was commandant of one of the forts in the Orenburg region?"
"Yes, ma'am."
The lady appeared to be moved.
"Forgive me," she said in an even kinder voice, "if I'm meddling in your affairs, but I'm frequently at Court: do tell me what it is you're petitioning for, and perhaps I'll be able to help."
Maria Ivanovna rose to her feet and thanked her respectfully. She was instinctively drawn to this unknown lady, whose every gesture inspired confidence. Maria Ivanovna drew from her pocket a folded piece of paper and handed it to her unknown benefactress, who proceeded to read it to herself.
As she started reading, she had an attentive and benevolent air, but suddenly her countenance changed, and Maria Ivanovna, who had been following all her movements with her eyes, was alarmed to see a stern expression come over her features, which had been so pleasant and serene only a moment before.
"So you're asking mercy for Grinev?" she asked coldly. "The Empress cannot pardon him. He went over to the pretender, not out of ignorance or gullibility, but as an immoral and ill-meaning scoundrel."
"Oh, that's not true!" cried Maria Ivanovna.
"What do you mean not true?" rejoined the lady, colouring.
"It isn't true, God is my witness, it isn't! I know all about it, I'll relate it all to you. Only for my sake did he expose himself to the misfortunes that befell him. And if he didn't vindicate himself before the court, it was only because he didn't want to involve me."
She then ardently related everything that is already known to the reader.
The lady listened to her with attention. Then she asked, "Where are you staying?" When she heard that Maria had put up at Anna Vlasevna's, she added with a smile, "Oh, yes, I know her. Good-bye, and don't tell anyone about our meeting. I hope you won't have to wait long before you receive an answer to your letter."
With these words, she rose and proceeded on through an arbour, while Maria Ivanovna, filled with joyous hope, returned to Anna Vlasevna's.
Her hostess scolded her for taking an early morning walk in this fall season, claiming that it was bad for a young girl's health. She brought in the samovar and was about to embark, over a cup of tea, on her interminable stories about the Court when a carriage from the palace drove up to the porch, and the Empress's chamberlain came in to announce that Her Majesty graciously summoned to her presence the maiden Mironova.
Anna Vlasevna was astonished and fell into a flutter.
"Bless me!" she cried. "Her Majesty is summoning you to Court! How did she learn about you? And how can you, my dear child, present yourself before her? I'll warrant you don't even know how to carry yourself at Court... Hadn't I better accompany you? I could at least give you a few hints. And how can you go in your travelling robe? Hadn't we better send to the midwife for her yellow dress that's got a hoop skirt?"
The chamberlain declared that it was the Empress's wish that Maria Ivanovna come by herself and in whatever she happened to be wearing. There was no helping it: Maria Ivanovna got into the carriage and set out for the palace, accompanied by Anna Vlasevna's advice and blessings.
Maria Ivanovna had a presentiment that our fate was about to be decided: her heart throbbed violently and irregularly. In a few minutes the carriage stopped in front of the palace. Maria Ivanovna mounted the stairs with trepidation. The doors opened wide before her. She passed through a long row of magnificent rooms with no one present; the chamberlain showed her the way. At length, when they came to a closed door, he said he would announce her and left her alone.
The thought of finding herself face to face with the Empress frightened her so much that she could hardly stand on her feet. After a moment the door opened, and she was admitted into the Empress's boudoir.
The Empress was busy with her toilette. She was surrounded by several courtiers, who respectfully made way for Maria Ivanovna. The Empress turned toward her kindly, and Maria Ivanovna recognized the lady to whom she had so candidly told her story only a little while before. The Empress bade her come closer and said with a smile:
"I am glad I have been able to keep my word and grant your request. The matter has been seen to. I have become convinced of the innocence of your fiance. Here is a letter; I would be grateful if you would personally deliver it to your future father-in-law."
Maria Ivanovna took the letter with a trembling hand, burst into tears, and fell at the Empress's feet. The latter lifted her up and kissed her. She entered into a conversation with her.
"I know you are not rich," she said, "but you should not worry about the future, for I feel indebted to the daughter of Captain Mironov. I will undertake to see to your welfare."
Having showered her affections on the poor orphan, the Empress let her go. Maria Ivanovna left in the same palace carriage she came in. Anna Vlasevna, who had been waiting for her return with impatience, smothered her with questions but received only half-hearted answers. She was dissatisfied with the young woman's inability to recollect details, but she attributed it to her provincial shyness and generously forgave her. Maria Ivanovna set out to return to the country the same day, without as much as taking one curious look at Petersburg...
***
With this the memoirs of Petr Andreevich Grinev come to an end. Family tradition has it that he was released from confinement at the end of 1774 by highest order; and that he was present at the execution of Pugachev, who recognized him in the crowd and acknowledged him with a nod of his head, which in another minute was displayed to the people lifeless and bloodied. Soon afterwards Petr Andreevich married Maria Ivanovna. Their progeny thrives to this day in Simbirsk Guberniia. Thirty versts from X. there is a village that now belongs to ten proprietors. In one wing of the mansion a letter from Catherine II, written in her own hand, is displayed, framed and glazed. Addressed to Petr Andreevich's father, it vindicates his son and praises the heart and mind of Captain Mironov's daughter. Petr Andreevich Grinev's manuscript was given to me by one of his grandsons, who had heard that I was engaged in a historical study of the times described by his grandfather. I have decided, with the permission of his descendants, to issue Grinev's manuscript as a separate publication, choosing an appropriate epigraph for each chapter and taking the liberty of changing some of the proper names.

October 19, 1836

The Publisher

 

      

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).
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