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Title: With Fire and Sword - An Historical Novel of Poland and Russia.
Author: Sienkiewicz, Henryk, 1846-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "With Fire and Sword - An Historical Novel of Poland and Russia." ***

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   2. The letter with a superscript dot is represented by
      [.Z], [.z]. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].

                            Popular Edition.

                               *   *   *

                          WITH FIRE AND SWORD.


                          HENRYK SIENKIKWICZ.

                               THE WORKS
                          HENRYK SIENKIEWICZ.


                               *   *   *

   Hania, 1 vol.
   Yanko the Musician, and Other Stories, 1 vol.
   Lillian Morris, and Other Stories, 1 vol.

                               *   *   *

                          Historical Romances.

                  Poland, Turkey, Russia, and Sweden.

                  With Fire And Sword, 1 vol.
                  The Deluge. 2 vols.
                  Pan Michael. 1 vol.

                       ROME IN THE TIME OF NERO.

                  "QUO VADIS." 1 vol.

                               *   *   *

                        Novels of Modern Poland.

   Children of the Soil. 1 vol.
   Without Dogma. 1 vol.

[Illustration: Henryk Sienkiewicz and his Children.]
Copyright, 1898, by Little, Brown, and Company.


                            FIRE AND SWORD.

                          An Historical Novel


                           POLAND AND RUSSIA.


                          HENRYK SIENKIKWICZ.

                             THE POLISH BY_

                            JEREMIAH CURTIN.


                      LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.


                        _Copyright, 1890, 1898_,

                          By Jeremiah Curtin.

                         _All rights reserved_.

                           University Press:
                 John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A.


                           PROF. JOHN FISKE,


                          CONFLICT IN EUROPE.

                                            JEREMIAH CURTIN.

Washington, D.C.,
            April 7, 1890.

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

   Henryk Sienkiewicz and his Children.
     From a photograph.

   Map of the Polish Commonwealth.

   "The falcon began to draw the hands together."
     Drawn by J. Wagrez.

   Vladislav IV., King of Poland.
     From an engraving by Moncornet.

   "He raised his eyes and began to pray aloud".
     Drawn by J. Wagrez.

   Bogdan Hmelnitski.
     From an old engraving.

   "The little knight, having discovered the whole power of his
     opponent, pushed on him briskly".
     Drawn by Evert Van Muyden.

   Yerzy Ossolinski, Chancellor of Poland.
     From an engraving by Moncornet.

   "Before them stood a kind of frightful-looking man, or rather an
     Drawn by Evert Van Muyden.

[Illustration: Map of the Polish Commonwealth.]


The history of the origin and career of the two Slav States, Poland and
Russia, is interesting not merely because it contains a vast number of
surprising scenes and marvellous pictures of life, not merely because
it gives us a kaleidoscope as it were of the acts of men, but because
these acts in all their variety fall into groups which may be referred
each to its proper source and origin, and each group contains facts
that concern the most serious problems of history and political

The history of these two States should be studied as one, or rather as
two parts of one history, if we are to discover and grasp the meaning
of either part fully. When studied as a whole, this history gives us
the life story of the greater portion of the Slav race placed between
two hostile forces,--the Germans on the west, the Mongols and Tartars
on the east.

The advance of the Germans on the Slav tribes and later on Poland
presents, perhaps, the best example in history of the methods of
European civilization. The entire Baltic coast from Lubeck eastward was
converted to Christianity by the Germans at the point of the sword. The
duty of rescuing these people from the errors of paganism formed the
moral pretext for conquering them and taking their lands. The warrior
was accompanied by the missionary, followed by the political colonist.
The people of the country deprived of their lands were reduced to
slavery; and if any escaped this lot, they were men from the higher
classes who joined the conqueror in the capacity of assistant
oppressors. The work was long and doubtful. The Germans made many
failures, for their management was often very bad. The Slavs west of
the Oder were stubborn, and under good leadership might have been
invincible; but the leadership did not come, and to the Germans at last
came the Hohenzollerns.

For the serious student there is no richer field of labor than the
history of Poland and the Slavs of the Baltic, which is inseparable
from the history of Mark Brandenburg and the two military orders, the
Teutonic Knights and the Knights of the Sword.

The conquest of Russia by the Mongols, the subjection of Europeans to
Asiatics,--not Asiatics of the south, but warriors from cold regions
led by men of genius; for such were Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and the
lieutenants sent to the west,--was an affair of incomparably greater
magnitude than the German wars on the Baltic.

The physical grip of the Mongol on Russia was irresistible. There was
nothing for the Russian princes to do but submit if they wished to
preserve their people from dissolution. They had to bow down to every
whim of the conqueror; suffer indignity, insult, death,--that is, death
of individuals. The Russians endured for a long time without apparent
result. But they were studying their conquerors, mastering their
policy; and they mastered it so well that finally the Prince of Moscow
made use of the Mongols to complete the union of eastern Russia and
reduce all the provincial princes of the country, his own relatives, to
the position of ordinary landholders subject to himself.

The difference between the Poles and Russians seems to be this,--that
the Russians saw through the policy of their enemies, and then overcame
them; while the Poles either did not understand the Germans, or if they
did, did not overcome them, though they had the power.

This Slav history is interesting to the man of science, it is
interesting also to the practical statesman, because there is no
country in the Eastern hemisphere whose future may be considered
outside of Russian influence, no country whose weal or woe may not
become connected in some way with Russia. At the same time there are no
states studied by so few and misunderstood by so many as the former
Commonwealth of Poland,--whose people, brave and brilliant but
politically unsuccessful, have received more sympathy than any other
within the circle of civilization,--and Russia, whose people in
strength of character and intellectual gifts are certainly among the
first of the Aryan race, though many men have felt free to describe
them in terms exceptionally harsh and frequently unjust.

The leading elements of this history on its western side are Poland,
the Catholic Church, Germany; on the eastern side they are Russia,
Eastern Orthodoxy, Northern Asia.

Now let us see what this western history was. In the middle of the
ninth century Slav tribes of various denominations occupied the entire
Baltic coast west of the Vistula; a line drawn from Lubeck to the Elbe,
ascending the river to Magdeburg, thence to the western ridge of the
Bohemian mountains, and passing on in a somewhat irregular course,
leaving Carinthia and Styria on the east, gives the boundary between
the Germans and the Slavs at that period. Very nearly in the centre of
the territory north of Bohemia and the Carpathians lived one of a
number of Slav tribes, the Polyane (or men of the plain), who occupied
the region afterwards called Great Poland by the Poles, and now called
South Prussia by the Germans. In this Great Poland political life among
the Northwestern Slavs began in the second half of the ninth century.
About the middle of the tenth, Mechislav (Mieczislaw), the ruler,
received Christianity, and the modest title of Count of the German
Empire. Boleslav the Brave, his son and successor, extended his
territory to the upper Elbe, from which region its boundary line passed
through or near Berlin, whence it followed the Oder to the sea. Before
his death, in 1025, Boleslav wished to be anointed king by the Pope.
The ceremony was denied him, therefore he had it performed by bishops
at home. About a century later the western boundary was pushed forward
by Boleslav Wry-mouth (1132-1139) to a point on the Baltic about
half-way between Stettin and Lubeck. This was the greatest extension of
Poland to the west. Between this line and the Elbe were Slav tribes;
but the region had already become marken (marches) where the intrusive
Germans were struggling for the lands and persons of the Slavs.

The eastern boundary of Poland at this period served also as the
western boundary of Russia from the head-waters of the western branch
of the river San in the Carpathian Mountains at a point west of Premysl
(in the Galicia of to-day) to Brest-Litovsk, from which point the
Russian boundary continued toward the northeast till it reached the
sea, leaving Pskoff considerably and Yurieff (now Dorpat) slightly to
the east,--that is, on Russian territory. Between Russia, north of
Brest-Litovsk and Poland, was the irregular triangle composing the
lands of Lithuanian and Finnish tribes. From the upper San the Russian
boundary southward coincided with the Carpathians, including the
territory between the Pruth to its mouth and the Carpathians. This
boundary between Poland and Russia, established at that period,
corresponds as nearly as possible with the line of demarcation between
the two peoples at the present day.

During the two centuries following 1139, Poland continued to lose on
the west and the north, and that process was fairly begun through which
the Germans finally excluded the Poles from the sea, and turned the
cradle of Poland into South Prussia, the name which it bears to-day.

At the end of the fourteenth century a step was taken by the Poles
through which it was hoped to win in other places far more than had
been lost on the west. Poland turned now to the east; but by leaving
her historical basis on the Baltic, by deserting her political
birthplace, the only ground where she had a genuine mission, Poland
entered upon a career which was certain to end in destruction, unless
she could win the Russian power by agreement, or bend it by conquest,
and then strengthened by this power, turn back and redeem the lost
lands of Pomerania and Prussia.

The first step in the new career was an alliance with Yagello (Yahailo)
of Lithuania, from which much was hoped. This event begins a new era in
Polish history; to this event we must now give attention, for it was
the first in a long series which ended in the great outburst described
in this book,--the revolt of the Russians against the Commonwealth.

To reach the motives of this famous agreement between the Lithuanian
prince and the nobles and clergy of Poland,--for these two estates had
become the only power in the land,--we must turn to Russia.

Lithuania of itself was small, and a prince of that country, if it
stood alone, would have received scant attention from Poland; but the
Lithuanian Grand Prince was ruler over all the lands of western Russia
as well as those of his own people.

What was Russia?

The definite appearance of Russia in history dates from 862, when Rurik
came to Novgorod, invited by the people to rule over them. Oleg, the
successor of this prince, transferred his capital from Novgorod to
Kieff on the Dnieper, which remained the chief city and capital for two
centuries and a half. Rurik's great-grandson, Vladimir, introduced
Christianity into Russia at the end of the tenth century. During his
long reign and that of his son Yaroslav the Lawgiver, the boundary was
fixed between Russia and Poland through the places described above, and
coincided very nearly with the watershed dividing the two river-systems
of the Dnieper and the Vistula, and serves to this day as the boundary
between the Russian and Polish languages and the Eastern and Catholic

In 1157 Kieff ceased to be the seat of the Grand Prince, the capital of
Russia. A new centre of activity and government was founded in the
north,--first at Suzdal, and then at Vladimir, to be transferred later
to Moscow.

In 1240 the conquest of Russia by the Tartars was complete. Half a
million or more of armed Asiatics had swept over the land, destroying
everything where they went. A part of this multitude advanced through
Poland, and were stopped in Silesia and Moravia only by the combined
efforts of central Europe. The Tartar dominion lasted about two hundred
and fifty years (1240-1490), and during this period great changes took
place. Russia before the Tartar conquest was a large country, whose
western boundary was the eastern boundary of Poland; liberated Russia
was a comparatively small country, with its capital at Moscow, and
having interposed between it and Poland a large state extending from
the Baltic to the Black Sea,--a state which was composed of two thirds
of that Russia which was ruled before the Tartar conquest by the
descendants of Rurik; a state which included Little, Red, Black, and
White Russia, more than two thirds of the best lands, and Kieff, with
the majority of the historic towns of pre-Tartar Russia.

How was this state founded?

This state was the Lithuanian Russian,--Litva í Rus (Lithuania and
Russia), as it is called by the Russians,--and it rose in the following
manner. In the irregular triangle on the Baltic, between Russia and
Poland of the twelfth century, lived tribes of Finnish and Lithuanian
stock, about a dozen in number. In the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries these were all conquered,--the Prussian Lithuanians from the
Niemen to the Vistula, by the Teutonic Knights, aided by crusading
adventurers from western Europe; the others, Lithuanian and Finnish, by
the Knights of the Sword,--with the exception of two tribes, the
Lithuanians proper, on the upper waters of the Niemen and its
tributaries, and the Jmuds or Samogitians on the right bank of the same
river, lower down and between the Lithuanians and the sea. These two
small tribes were destined through their princes--remarkable men in the
fullest sense of the word--to play a great part in Russian and Polish
history. It is needless to say much of the Lithuanians, who are better
known to scholars than any people, perhaps, of similar numbers in
Europe. The main interest in them at present is confined to their
language, which, though very valuable to the philologist and beautiful
in itself, has never been used in government or law, and has but one
book considered as belonging to literature,--"The Four Seasons" by

Though small, the Lithuanian country, ruled by a number of petty
princes, was as much given to anarchy as larger aggregations of men.
United for a time under Mindog by reason of pressure from outside, the
Lithuanians rose first to prominence under Gedimin (1315-1340), who in
a quarter of a century was able to substitute himself for the petty
princes of western Russia and extend his power to the south of Kieff.
Gedimin was followed by Olgerd, who with his uncle Keistut ruled till
1377; during which time the domains of the Lithuanian prince were
extended to the Crimea, and included the whole basin of the Dnieper
with its tributaries, together with the upper Dvina. Gedimin and Olgerd
respected in all places the clergy of the Eastern Church, and thus
acquired rule over a great extent of country with comparative ease and

Olgerd, who had completed a great state, left it to his sons and his
brother Keistut. Yagello (Yahailo), one of these sons, had Keistut put
to death; his brothers and cousins fled; Yagello became sole master. At
this juncture the nobles and clergy of Poland effected an arrangement
by which Yagello, on condition of becoming a Catholic, introducing the
Catholic religion into Lithuania, and joining the state to Poland, was
to marry the Queen Yadviga (the last survivor of the royal house) and
be crowned king of Poland at Cracow. All these conditions were carried
out, and with the reign of Yagello Polish history assumes an entirely
new character.

With the establishment by Gedimin and Olgerd of the Lithuanian dynasty
and its conquests, there were two Russias instead of one,--Western
Russia, ruled by the house of Gedimin, and Eastern Russia, ruled by the
house of Rurik. It had become the ambition of the Lithuanian princes to
unite all Russia; it had long been the fixed purpose of the princes at
Moscow to recover their ancient patrimony, the lands of Vladimir and
Yaroslav; that is, all western Russia to the Polish frontier;
consequently all the lands added by the Lithuanian princes to their
little realm on the Niemen and its tributaries. This struggle between
the two houses was very bitter, and more than once it seemed as though
Moscow's day had come, and Vilna was to be the capital of reconstituted

When the question was at this stage, Yagello became King of Poland. The
union, purely personal at first, became more intimate later on by means
of the two elements of Polish influence, the Church and the nobility.
Catholicism was made the religion of the Lithuanians at once; and
twenty-seven years later, at Horodlo, it was settled that the
Lithuanian Catholics of the higher classes should receive the same
privileges as the Polish nobility, with whom they were joined by means
of heraldry,--a peculiar arrangement, through which a number of
Lithuanian families received the arms of some Polish house, and became
thus associated, as the original inhabitants of America are associated
under the same _totem_ by the process of adoption.

Without giving details, for which there is no space here, we state
merely the meaning of all the details. Lithuania struggled persistently
against anything more than a personal union, while Poland struggled
just as persistently for a complete union; but no matter how the
Lithuanians might gain at one time or another, the personal union under
a king influenced by Polish ideas joined to the great weight of the
clergy and nobility was too much for them, and the end of the whole
struggle was that under Sigismond Augustus, the last of the Yagellon
kings, a diet was held at Lublin in which a union between Poland and
Lithuania was proclaimed against the protest of a large number of the
Lithuanians who left the diet. The King, who was hereditary Grand
Duke of Lithuania, and childless, made a present to Poland of his
rights,--made Poland his heir. The petty nobility of Lithuania were
placed on the same legal footing as the princes and men of great
historic families. Lithuania was assimilated to Poland in institutions.

The northern part of West Russia was attached to Lithuania, and all
southern Russia merged directly in Poland. If the work of this diet had
been productive of concord, and therefore of strength, Poland might
have established herself firmly by the sea and won the first place in
eastern Europe; but the Commonwealth, either from choice or necessity,
was more occupied in struggling with Russians than in standing with
firm foot on the Baltic. Sound statesmanship would have taught the
Poles that for them it was a question of life and death to possess
Pomerania and Prussia, and make the Oder at least their western
boundary. They had the power to do that; they had the power to expel
the two military orders from the coast; but they did not exert it,--a
neglect which cost them dear in later times. Moscow would not have
escaped the Poles had they been masters of the Baltic, and had they,
instead of fighting with Cossacks and Russians, attached them to the
Commonwealth by toleration and justice.

The whole internal policy of Poland from the coronation of Yagello to
the reign of Vladislav IV. was to assimilate the nobility of Lithuania
and Russia to that of Poland in political rights and in religious
profession. The success was complete in the political sense, and
practically so in the religious. The Polish nobility, who were in fact
the state, possessed at the time of Yagello's coronation all the land,
and owned the labor of the people; later on they ceased to pay taxes of
any kind. It was a great bribe to the nobles of Lithuania and Russia to
occupy the same position. The Lithuanians became Catholics at the
accession of Yagello, or soon after; but in Russia, where all belonged
to the Orthodox Church, the process was slow, even if sure. The princes
Ostrorog and Dominik Zaslavski of this book were of Russian families
which held their faith for a long time. The parents of Prince Yeremi
Vishnyevetski were Orthodox, and his mother on her death-bed implored
him to be true to the faith of his ancestors.

All had been done that could be done with the nobility; but the great
mass of Russian people holding the same faith as the Russians of the
East, whose capital was at Moscow, were not considered reliable;
therefore a union of churches was effected, mainly through the formal
initiative of the King Sigismond III. and a few ecclesiastics, but
rejected by a great majority of the Russian clergy and people. This new
or united church, which retained the Slav language with Eastern customs
and liturgy, but recognized the supremacy of the Pope, was made the
state church of Russia.

From this rose all the religious trouble.

The Russians, when Hmelnitski appeared, were in the following
condition: Their land was gone; the power of life and death over them
resided in lords, either Poles or Polonized Russians, who generally
gave this power to agents or tenants, not infrequently Jews. All
justice, all administration, all power belonged to the lord or to
whomsoever he delegated his authority; there was no appeal. A people
with an active communal government of their own in former times were
now reduced to complete slavery. Such was the Russian complaint on the
material side. On the moral side it was that their masters were
filching their faith from them. Having stripped them of everything in
this life, they were trying to deprive them of life to come.

The outburst of popular rage against Poland was without example in
history for intensity and volume, and this would have made the revolt
remarkable whatever its motives or objects. But the Cossack war was of
world-wide importance in view of the issues. The triumph of Poland
would have brought the utter subjection of the Cossacks and the people,
with the extinction of Eastern Orthodoxy not only in Russia but in
other lands; for the triumph of Poland would have left no place for
Moscow on earth but a place of subjection. The triumph of the Cossacks
would have brought a mixed government, with religious toleration and a
king having means to curb the all-powerful nobles. This was what
Hmelnitski sought; this was the dream of Ossolinski the Chancellor;
this, if realized, might possibly have saved the Commonwealth, and made
it a constitutional government instead of an association of
irresponsible magnates.

It turned out that the Cossacks and the uprisen people were not a match
for the Poles, and it was not in the interest of the Tartars to give
the Cossacks the fruits of victory. It was the policy of the Tartars to
bring the Poles into trouble and then rescue them; they wished the
Poles to have the upper hand, but barely have it, and be in continual
danger of losing it.

The battle of Berestechko, instead of giving peace to the Commonwealth,
opened a new epoch of trouble. Hmelnitski, the ablest man in Europe at
that time, could be conquered by nothing but death. Though beaten
through the treachery of the Khan at Berestechko and perhaps also by
treason in his own camp, he rallied, concluded the treaty of Bélaya
Tserkoff, which reduced the Cossack army from forty to twelve thousand
men, but left Hmelnitski hetman of the Zaporojians. That was the great
mistake of the Poles; every success was for them a failure so long as
Hmelnitski had a legal existence.

The Poles, though intellectual, sympathetic, brave, and gifted with
high personal qualities that have made them many friends, have been
always deficient in collective wisdom; and there is probably no more
astonishing antithesis in Europe than the Poles as individuals and the
Poles as a people.

After Berestechko the Poles entered the Ukraine as masters.
Vishnyevetski went as the ruling spirit. To all appearance the time of
his triumph had come; but one day after dinner he fell ill and died
suddenly. The verdict of the Russian people was: The Almighty preserved
him through every danger, saved him from every enemy, and by reason of
the supreme wickedness of "Yarema," reserved him for his own holy and
punishing hand.

The old order of things was restored in Russia,--landlords, garrisons,
Jews; but now came the most striking event in the whole history.

Moldavia, the northern part of the present kingdom of Romania, was at
that time a separate principality, owning the suzerainty of the Sultan.
Formerly it had been a part of the Russian principality of Galich
(Galicia), joined to Poland in the reign of Kazimir the Great, but
connected, at the time of our story, with Turkey. The Poles had
intimate relations with the country, and sought to bring it back. The
Hospodar was Vassily Lupul, a man of fabulous wealth, according to
report, and the father of two daughters, whose beauty was the wonder of
eastern Europe. Prince Radzivil of Lithuania had married the elder; the
younger, Domna (Domina) Rosanda, was sought in marriage by three men
from Poland and by Timofei Hmelnitski, the son of Bogdan. The first of
the Poles was Dmitry Vishnyevetski; the second was Kalinovski, the aged
hetman of the Crown, captured by Hmelnitski at Korsún, but now free and
more ambitions than any man in the Commonwealth of half his age, which
was then near seventy.

Lupul, who had consented to the marriage of his daughter with young
Hmelnitski, preferred Vishnyevetski; whereupon Bogdan exclaimed, "We
will send a hundred thousand best men with the bridegroom." Thirty-six
thousand Cossacks and Tartars set out for Yassy, the residence of
Lupul. Kalinovski, the Polish hetman, with twenty thousand men, barred
the way to young Hmelnitski at Batog on the boundary. It was supposed
that Timofei was attended by a party of only five thousand, and
Kalinovski intended to finish a rival and destroy the son of an enemy
at a blow. This delusion of the hetman was probably caused, but in
every case confirmed, by a letter from Bogdan, in which he stated that
his son, with some attendants, was on his way to marry the daughter of
the Hospodar; that young men are hot-headed and given to quarrels,
blood might be spilled; therefore he asked Kalinovski to withdraw and
let the party pass.

This was precisely what Kalinovski would not do; he resolved to stop
Timofei by force. The first day, five thousand Cossacks and Tartars,
while passing to the west, were attacked by the Poles, who pursued them
with cavalry. When a good distance from the camp, a courier rushed to
the hetman with news of a general attack on the rear of the Polish
army. The Poles returned in haste, pursued in their turn.

Young Hmelnitski had fallen upon a division of the army in the rear of
the camp, and almost destroyed it. Darkness brought an end to the
struggle. No eye was closed on either side that night. One half of the
Polish army resolved to escape in spite of the hetman. At daybreak they
were marching. "They shall not flee!" said Kalinovski "Stop them with
cavalry; open on the cowards with cannon!" One part of the Polish army
hurried to stop the other; there was a discharge of artillery; some of
the fugitives rushed on, but most of them stopped. Then a second
discharge of artillery, and a battle began. The Cossacks gazed on this
wonderful scene; when their amazement had passed, they attacked the
enemy, and indescribable slaughter began. It was impossible for the
Poles to re-form or make effective defence. At this moment the
army-servants, many of whom were Russians, set fire to the camp.
Outnumbered and panic-stricken, thousands of Poles rushed into the Bug
and were drowned. The Cossacks, with Berestechko in mind, showed mercy
to no man; and of the whole army of twenty thousand, less than five
hundred escaped. The peasants in all the country about killed the
fugitives with scythes and clubs. Those who crossed the river were
slaughtered on the other bank; among them was Samuel Kalinovski, son of
the hetman. Then Kalinovski himself, seeing that all was lost cried, "I
have no wish to live; I am ashamed to look on the sun of this morning!"
and rushed to the thick of the fight. He perished; and a Nogai horseman
raced over the field, while from his saddle-bow depended the head of
the hetman with its white streaming hair. After the battle the body was
discovered; on it the portrait of Domna Rosanda and the letter of

Farther on, near the Bug, was a division of five thousand Germans under
command of Marek Sobieski, the gifted chief who had fought at Zbaraj.
Attacked in front by the Cossacks, they stood with manful persistence
till Karach Murza, the Nogai commander, at the head of fourteen
thousand men, descended upon them from the hills of Botog like a mighty
rain from the clouds or a whirlwind of the desert, as the Ukraine
chronicler phrases it. Split in the centre, torn through and through,
the weapons dropped from their hands, they were ridden down and sabred
by Nogais and Cossacks. Sobieski perished; Pshiyemski, commander of
artillery, was killed.

A year later the Poles at Jvanyets were in greater straits than ever
before. They were surrounded by Hmelnitski and the Khan so that no
escape was possible; but they had more gold to give than had the
Cossacks. They satisfied those in power, from the Khan downward, with
gifts, and covenanted to let them plunder Russia and seize Russian
captives during six weeks. On these conditions the Tartars deserted
Hmelnitski, peace was concluded, and the Polish army and king were
saved from captivity.

This was the last act of the Cossack-Tartar alliance. Hmelnitski now
turned to Moscow; the Zaporojian army took the oath of allegiance to
Alexis, father of Peter the Great. Lithuania and western Russia were
overrun by the forces of Moscow and the Cossacks. The Swedes occupied
Warsaw and Cracow. Karl Gustav, their king, became king of Poland. Yan
Kazimir fled to Silesia.

Again the Polish king came back, but soon resigned, and ended his life
in France.

The eastern bank of the Dnieper, with Kieff on the west, went to
Russia; but it was not till the reign of Katherine II. that western
Russia was united to the east, and Prussia and Austria received all the
lands of Poland proper.

I feel constrained to ask kindly indulgence from the readers of this
sketch. I am greatly afraid that it will seem indefinite and lacking in
precision; but the field to be covered is so great that I wrote with
two kinds of readers in view,--those who are already well acquainted
with Slav history, and those who do not know this history yet, but who
may be roused to examine it for themselves. I hope to give a sketch of
this history in a future not too remote, with an account of the sources
of original information; so that impartial students, as Americans are
by position, may have some assistance in beginning a work of such
commanding importance as the history of Poland and Russia.

                                                  Jeremiah Curtin.

Washington, D. C, April 4, 1890.

                          WITH FIRE AND SWORD.

                               CHAPTER I.

The year 1647 was that wonderful year in which manifold signs in the
heavens and on the earth announced misfortunes of some kind and unusual
events. Contemporary chroniclers relate that beginning with spring-time
myriads of locusts swarmed from the Wilderness, destroying the grain
and the grass; this was a forerunner of Tartar raids. In the summer
there was a great eclipse of the sun, and soon after a comet appeared
in the sky. In Warsaw a tomb was seen over the city, and a fiery cross
in the clouds; fasts were held and alms given, for some men declared
that a plague would come on the land and destroy the people. Finally,
so mild a winter set in, that the oldest inhabitants could not remember
the like of it. In the southern provinces ice did not confine the
rivers, which, swollen by the daily melting of snows, left their
courses and flooded the banks. Rainfalls were frequent. The steppe was
drenched, and became an immense slough. The sun was so warm in the
south that, wonder of wonders! in Bratslav and the Wilderness a green
fleece covered the steppes and plains in the middle of December. The
swarms in the beehives began to buzz and bustle; cattle were bellowing
in the fields. Since such an order of things appeared altogether
unnatural, all men in Russia who were waiting or looking for unusual
events turned their excited minds and eyes especially to the
Wilderness, from which rather than anywhere else danger might show

At that time there was nothing unusual in the Wilderness,--no struggles
there, nor encounters, beyond those of ordinary occurrence, and known
only to the eagles, hawks, ravens, and beasts of the plain. For the
Wilderness was of this character at that period. The last traces of
settled life ended on the way to the south, at no great distance beyond
Chigirin on the side of the Dnieper, and on the side of the Dniester
not far from Uman; then forward to the bays and sea there was nothing
but steppe after steppe, hemmed in by the two rivers as by a frame. At
the bend of the Dnieper in the lower country beyond the Cataracts
Cossack life was seething, but in the open plains no man dwelt; only
along the shores were nestled here and there little fields, like
islands in the sea. The land belonged in name to Poland, but it was an
empty land, in which the Commonwealth permitted the Tartars to graze
their herds; but since the Cossacks prevented this frequently, the
field of pasture was a field of battle too.

How many struggles were fought in that region, how many people had laid
down their lives there, no man had counted, no man remembered. Eagles,
falcons, and ravens alone saw these; and whoever from a distance heard
the sound of wings and the call of ravens, whoever beheld the whirl of
birds circling over one place, knew that corpses or unburied bones were
lying beneath. Men were hunted in the grass as wolves or wild goats.
All who wished, engaged in this hunt. Fugitives from the law defended
themselves in the wild steppes. The armed herdsman guarded his flock,
the warrior sought adventure, the robber plunder, the Cossack a Tartar,
the Tartar a Cossack. It happened that whole bands guarded herds from
troops of robbers. The steppe was both empty and filled, quiet and
terrible, peaceable and full of ambushes; wild by reason of its wild
plains, but wild, too, from the wild spirit of men.

At times a great war filled it. Then there flowed over it like waves
Tartar chambuls, Cossack regiments, Polish or Wallachian companies. In
the night-time the neighing of horses answered the howling of wolves,
the voices of drums and brazen trumpets flew on to the island of Ovid
and the sea, and along the black trail of Kutchman there seemed an
inundation of men. The boundaries of the Commonwealth were guarded from
Kamenyets to the Dnieper by outposts and stanitsas; and when the roads
were about to swarm with people, it was known especially by the
countless flocks of birds which, frightened by the Tartars, flew onward
to the north. But the Tartar, if he slipped out from the Black Forest
or crossed the Dniester from the Wallachian side, came by the southern
provinces together with the birds.

That winter, however, the birds did not come with their uproar to the
Commonwealth. It was stiller on the steppe than usual. At the moment
when our narrative begins the sun was just setting, and its reddish
rays threw light on a land entirely empty. On the northern rim of the
Wilderness, along the Omelnik to its mouth, the sharpest eye could not
discover a living soul, nor even a movement in the dark, dry, and
withered steppe grass. The sun showed but half its shield from behind
the horizon. The heavens became obscured, and then the steppe grew
darker and darker by degrees. Near the left bank, on a small height
resembling more a grave-mound than a hill, were the mere remnants of a
walled stanitsa which once upon a time had been built by Fedor
Buchatski and then torn down by raids. A long shadow stretched from
this ruin. In the distance gleamed the waters of the widespread
Omelnik, which in that place turned toward the Dnieper. But the lights
went out each moment in the heavens and on the earth. From the sky were
heard the cries of storks in their flight to the sea; with this
exception the stillness was unbroken by a sound.

Night came down upon the Wilderness, and with it the hour of ghosts.
Cossacks on guard in the stanitsas related in those days that the
shades of men who had fallen in sudden death and in sin used to rise up
at night and carry on dances in which they were hindered neither by
cross nor church. Also, when the wicks which showed the time of
midnight began to burn out, prayers for the dead were offered
throughout the stanitsas. It was said, too, that the shades of mounted
men coursing through the waste barred the road to wayfarers, whining
and begging them for a sign of the holy cross. Among these ghosts
vampires also were met with, who pursued people with howls. A trained
ear might distinguish at a distance the howls of a vampire from those
of a wolf. Whole legions of shadows were also seen, which sometimes
came so near the stanitsas that the sentries sounded the alarm. This
was generally the harbinger of a great war.

The meeting of a single ghost foreboded no good, either; but it was not
always necessarily of evil omen, for frequently a living man would
appear before travellers and vanish like a shadow, and therefore might
easily and often be taken for a ghost.

Night came quickly on the Omelnik, and there was nothing surprising in
the fact that a figure, either a man or a ghost, made its appearance at
the side of the deserted stanitsa. The moon coming out from behind the
Dnieper whitened the waste, the tops of the thistles, and the distance
of the steppe. Immediately there appeared lower down on the plain some
other beings of the night. The flitting clouds hid the light of the
moon from moment to moment; consequently those figures flashed up in
the darkness at one instant, and the next they were blurred. At times
they disappeared altogether, and seemed to melt in the shadow. Pushing
on toward the height on which the first man was standing, they stole up
quietly, carefully, slowly, halting at intervals.

There was something awe-exciting in their movements, as there was in
all that steppe which was so calm in appearance. The wind at times blew
from the Dnieper, causing a mournful rustle among the dried thistles,
which bent and trembled as in fear. At last the figures vanished in the
shadow of the ruins. In the uncertain light of that hour nothing could
be seen save the single horseman on the height.

But the rustle arrested his attention. Approaching the edge of the
mound, he began to look carefully into the steppe. At that moment the
wind stopped, the rustling ceased; there was perfect rest.

Suddenly a piercing whistle was heard; mingled voices began to shout in
terrible confusion, "Allah! Allah! Jesus Christ! Save! Kill!" The
report of muskets re-echoed; red flashes rent the darkness. The tramp
of horses was heard with the clash of steel. Some new horsemen rose as
it were from beneath the surface of the steppe. You would have said
that a storm had sprung up on a sudden in that silent and ominous land.
The shrieks of men followed the terrible clash. Then all was silent;
the struggle was over.

Apparently one of its usual scenes had been enacted in the Wilderness.

The horsemen gathered in groups on the height; a few of them
dismounted, and examined something carefully. Meanwhile a powerful and
commanding voice was heard in the darkness.

"Strike a fire in front!"

In a moment sparks sprang out, and soon a blaze flashed up from the dry
reeds and pitch-pine which wayfarers through the Wilderness always
carried with them.

Straightway the staff for a hanging-lamp was driven into the earth. The
glare from above illuminated sharply a number of men who were bending
over a form stretched motionless on the ground.

These men were soldiers, in red uniforms and wolf-skin caps. Of these,
one who sat on a valiant steed appeared to be the leader. Dismounting,
he approached the prostrate figure and inquired,--

"Well, Sergeant, is he alive yet, or is it all over with him?"

"He is alive, but there is a rattling in his throat; the lariat stifled

"Who is he?"

"He is not a Tartar; some man of distinction."

"Then God be thanked!"

The chief looked attentively at the prostrate man.

"Well, just like a hetman."

"His horse is of splendid Tartar breed; the Khan has no better," said
the sergeant. "There he stands."

The lieutenant looked at the horse, and his face brightened. Two
soldiers held a really splendid steed, who, moving his ears and
distending his nostrils, pushed forward his head and looked with
frightened eyes at his master.

"But the horse will be ours, Lieutenant?" put in, with an inquiring
tone, the sergeant.

"Dog believer! would you deprive a Christian of his horse in the

"But it is our booty--"

Further conversation was interrupted by stronger breathing from the
suffocated man.

"Pour gorailka into his mouth," said the lieutenant, undoing his belt.

"Are we to spend the night here?"

"Yes. Unsaddle the horses and make a good fire."

The soldiers hurried around quickly. Some began to rouse and rub the
prostrate man; some started off for reeds to burn; others spread camel
and bear skins on the ground for couches.

The lieutenant, troubling himself no more about the suffocated
stranger, unbound his belt and stretched himself on a burka by the
fire. He was a very young man, of spare habit of body, dark complexion,
very elegant in manner, with a delicately cut countenance and a
prominent aquiline nose. In his eyes were visible desperate daring and
endurance, but his face had an honest look. His rather thick mustache
and a beard, evidently unshaven for a long time, gave him a seriousness
beyond his years.

Meanwhile two attendants were preparing the evening meal. Dressed
quarters of mutton were placed on the fire, a number of bustards and
partridges were taken from the packs, and one wild goat, which an
attendant began to skin without delay. The fire blazed up, casting out
upon the steppe an enormous ruddy circle of light. The suffocated man
began to revive slowly.

After a time he cast his bloodshot eyes around on the strangers,
examining their faces; then he tried to stand up. The soldier who had
previously talked with the lieutenant raised him by the armpits;
another put in his hand a halbert, upon which the stranger leaned with
all his force. His face was still purple, his veins swollen. At last,
with a suppressed voice, he coughed out his first word, "Water!"

They gave him gorailka, which he drank repeatedly, and which appeared
to do him good, for after he had removed the flask from his lips at
last, he inquired in a clear voice, "In whose hands am I?"

The officer rose and approached him. "In the hands of those who saved

"It was not you, then, who caught me with a lariat?"

"No; the sabre is our weapon, not the lariat. You wrong our good
soldiers with the suspicion. You were seized by ruffians, pretended
Tartars. You can look at them if you are curious, for they are lying
out there slaughtered like sheep."

Saying this, he pointed with his hand to a number of dark bodies lying
below the height.

To this the stranger answered, "If you will permit me to rest."

They brought him a felt-covered saddle, on which he seated himself in

He was in the prime of life, of medium height, with broad shoulders,
almost gigantic build of body, and striking features. He had an
enormous head, a complexion dried and sunburnt, black eyes, somewhat
aslant, like those of a Tartar; over his thin lips hung a mustache
ending at the tips in two broad bunches. His powerful face indicated
courage and pride. There was in it something at once attractive and
repulsive,--the dignity of a hetman with Tartar cunning, kindness, and

After he had sat awhile on the saddle he rose, and beyond all
expectation, went to look at the bodies instead of returning thanks.

"How churlish!" muttered the lieutenant.

The stranger examined each face carefully, nodding his head like a man
who has seen through everything; then he turned slowly to the
lieutenant, slapping himself on the side, and seeking involuntarily his
belt, behind which he wished evidently to pass his hand.

This importance in a man just rescued from the halter did not please
the young lieutenant, and he said in irony,--

"One might say that you are looking for acquaintances among those
robbers, or that you are saying a litany for their souls."

"You are both right and wrong. You are right, for I was looking for
acquaintances; and you are wrong, for they are not robbers, but
servants of a petty nobleman, my neighbor."

"Then it is clear that you do not drink out of the same spring with
that neighbor."

A strange smile passed over the thin lips of the stranger.

"And in that you are wrong," muttered he through his teeth. In a moment
he added audibly: "But pardon for not having first given thanks for the
aid and effective succor which freed me from such sudden death. Your
courage has redeemed my carelessness, for I separated from my men; but
my gratitude is equal to your good-will."

Having said this, he reached his hand to the lieutenant.

But the haughty young man did not stir from his place, and was in no
hurry to give his hand; instead of that he said,--

"I should like to know first if I have to do with a nobleman; for
though I have no doubt you are one, still it does not befit me to
accept the thanks of a nameless person."

"I see you have the mettle of a knight, and speak justly, I should have
begun my speech and thanks with my name. I am Zenovi Abdank; my
escutcheon that of Abdank with a cross; a nobleman from the province of
Kieff; a landholder, and a colonel of the Cossack regiment of Prince
Dominik Zaslavski."

"And I am Yan Skshetuski, lieutenant of the armored regiment of Prince
Yeremi Vishnyevetski."

"You serve under a famous warrior. Accept my thanks and hand."

The lieutenant hesitated no longer. It is true that armored officers
looked down on men of the other regiments; but Pan Yan was in the
steppe, in the Wilderness, where such things were less remembered.
Besides, he had to do with a colonel. Of this he had ocular proof, for
when his soldiers brought Pan Abdank the belt and sabre which were
taken from his person in order to revive him, they brought at the same
time a short staff with a bone shaft and ivory head, such as Cossack
colonels were in the habit of using. Besides, the dress of Zenovi
Abdank was rich, and his educated speech indicated a quick mind and
social training.

Pan Yan therefore invited him to supper. The odor of roasted meats
began to go out from the fire just then, tickling the nostrils and the
palate. The attendant brought the meats, and served them on a plate.
The two men fell to eating; and when a good-sized goat-skin of
Moldavian wine was brought, a lively conversation sprang up without

"A safe return home to us," said Pan Yan.

"Then you are returning home? Whence, may I ask?" inquired Abdank.

"From a long journey,--from the Crimea."

"What were you doing there? Did you go with ransom?"

"No, Colonel, I went to the Khan himself."

Abdank turned an inquisitive ear. "Did you, indeed? Were you well
received? And what was your errand to the Khan?"

"I carried a letter from Prince Yeremi."

"You were an envoy, then! What did the prince write to the Khan about?"

The lieutenant looked quickly at his companion.

"Well, Colonel," said he, "you have looked into the eyes of ruffians
who captured you with a lariat; that is your affair. But what the
prince wrote to the Khan is neither your affair nor mine, but theirs."

"I wondered, a little while ago," answered Abdank, cunningly, "that his
highness the prince should send such a young man to the Khan; but after
your answer I am not astonished, for I see that you are young in years,
but mature in experience and wit."

The lieutenant swallowed the smooth, flattering words, merely twisted
his young mustache, and inquired,--

"Now do you tell me what you are doing on the Omelnik, and how you come
to be here alone."

"I am not alone, I left my men on the road; and I am going to Kudák, to
Pan Grodzitski, who is transferred to the command there, and to whom
the Grand Hetman has sent me with letters."

"And why don't you go by water?"

"I am following an order from which I may not depart."

"Strange that the hetman issued such an order, when in the steppe you
have fallen into straits which you would have avoided surely had you
been going by water."

"Oh, the steppes are quiet at present; my acquaintance with them does
not begin with to-day. What has met me is the malice and hatred of

"And who attacked you in this fashion?"

"It is a long story. An evil neighbor, Lieutenant, who has destroyed my
property, is driving me from my land, has killed my son, and besides,
as you have seen, has made an attempt on my life where we sit."

"But do you not carry a sabre at your side?"

On the powerful face of Abdank there was a gleam of hatred, in his eyes
a sullen glare. He answered slowly and with emphasis,--

"I do; and as God is my aid, I shall seek no other weapon against my

The lieutenant wished to say something, when suddenly the tramp of
horses was heard in the steppe, or rather the hurried slapping of
horses' feet on the softened grass. That moment, also, the lieutenant's
orderly who was on guard hurried up with news that men of some kind
were approaching.

"Those," said Abdank, "are surely my men, whom I left beyond the
Tasmina. Not suspecting perfidy, I promised to wait for them here."

Soon a crowd of mounted men formed a half-circle in front of the
height. By the glitter of the fire appeared heads of horses, with open
nostrils, puffing from exertion; and above them the faces of riders,
who, bending forward, sheltered their eyes from the glare of the fire
and gazed eagerly toward the light.

"Hei! men, who are you?" inquired Abdank.

"Servants of God," answered voices from the darkness.

"Just as I thought,--my men," repeated Abdank, turning to the
lieutenant. "Come this way."

Some of them dismounted and drew near the fire.

"Oh, how we hurried, batko! But what's the matter?"

"There was an ambush. Hvedko, the traitor, learned of my coming to this
place, and lurked here with others. He must have arrived some time in
advance. They caught me with a lariat."

"God save us! What Poles are these about you?"

Saying this, they looked threateningly on Pan Skshetuski and his

"These are kind friends," said Abdank. "Glory be to God! I am alive and
well. We will push on our way at once."

"Glory be to God for that! We are ready."

The newly arrived began to warm their hands over the fire, for the
night was cool, though fine. There were about forty of them, sturdy men
and well armed. They did not look at all like registered Cossacks,
which astonished Pan Skshetuski not a little, especially since their
number was so considerable. Everything seemed very suspicious. If the
Grand Hetman had sent Abdank to Kudák, he would have given him a guard
of registered Cossacks; and in the second place, why should he order
him to go by the steppe from Chigirin, and not by water? The necessity
of crossing all the rivers flowing through the Wilderness to the
Dnieper could only delay the journey. It appeared rather as if Abdank
wanted to avoid Kudák.

In like manner, the personality of Abdank astonished the young
lieutenant greatly. He noticed at once that the Cossacks, who were
rather free in intercourse with their colonels, met him with unusual
respect, as if he were a real hetman. He must be a man of a heavy hand,
and what was most wonderful to Skshetuski, who knew the Ukraine on both
sides of the Dnieper, he had heard nothing of a famous Abdank. Besides,
there was in the countenance of the man something peculiar,--a certain
secret power which breathed from his face like heat from a flame, a
certain unbending will, declaring that this man withdraws before no man
and no thing. The same kind of will was in the face of Prince Yeremi
Vishnyevetski; but that which in the prince was an inborn gift of
nature special to his lofty birth and his position might astonish one
when found in a man of unknown name wandering in the wild steppe.

Pan Skshetuski[1] deliberated long. It occurred to him that this might
be some powerful outlaw who, hunted by justice, had taken refuge in the
Wilderness,--or the leader of a robber band; but the latter was not
probable. The dress and speech of the man showed something else. The
lieutenant was quite at a loss what course to take. He kept simply on
his guard. Meanwhile Abdank ordered his horse.

"Lieutenant, 'tis time for him to go who has the road before him. Let
me thank you again for your succor. God grant me to show you a service
of equal value!"

"I do not know whom I have saved, therefore I deserve no thanks."

"Your modesty, which equals your courage, is speaking now. Accept from
me this ring."

The lieutenant frowned and took a step backward, measuring with his
eyes Abdank, who then spoke on with almost paternal dignity in his
voice and posture,--

"But look, I offer you not the wealth of this ring, but its other
virtues. When still in the years of youth, a captive among infidels, I
got this from a pilgrim returning from the Holy Land. In the seal of it
is dust from the grave of Christ. Such a gift might not be refused,
even if it came from condemned hands. You are still a young man and a
soldier; and since even old age, which is near the grave, knows not
what may strike it before the last hour, youth, which has before it a
long life, must meet with many an adventure. This ring will preserve
you from misfortune, and protect you when the day of judgment comes;
and I tell you that that day is even now on the road through the

A moment of silence followed; nothing was heard but the crackling of
the fire and the snorting of the horses. From the distant reeds came
the dismal howling of wolves. Suddenly Abdank repeated still again, as
if to himself,--

"The day of judgment is already on the road through the Wilderness, and
when it comes all God's world will be amazed."

The lieutenant took the ring mechanically, so much was he astonished at
the words of this strange man. But the man was looking into the dark
distance of the steppe. Then he turned slowly and mounted his horse.
His Cossacks were waiting at the foot of the height.

"Forward! forward! Good health to you, my soldier friend!" said he to
the lieutenant. "The times are such at present that brother trusts not
brother. This is why you know not whom you have saved, for I have not
given you my name."

"You are not Abdank, then?"

"That is my escutcheon."

"And your name?"

"Bogdan Zenovi Hmelnitski."

When he had said this, he rode down from the height, and his Cossacks
moved after him. Soon they were hidden in the mist and the night. When
they had gone about half a furlong, the wind bore back from them the
words of the Cossack song,--

                "O God, lead us forth, poor captives,
                  From heavy bonds,
                  From infidel faith,
                  To the bright dawn,
                  To quiet waters,
                  To a gladsome land,
                  To a Christian world.
                  Hear, O God, our prayers,--
                  The prayers of the hapless,
                  The prayers of poor captives."

The voices grew fainter by degrees, and then were melted in the wind
sounding through the reeds.

                               CHAPTER II.

Reaching Chigirin next morning, Pan Skshetuski stopped at the house of
Prince Yeremi in the town, where he was to spend some time in giving
rest to his men and horses after their long journey from the Crimea,
which by reason of the floods and unusually swift currents of the
Dnieper had to be made by land, since no boat could make head against
the stream that winter. Skshetuski himself rested awhile, and then went
to Pan Zatsvilikhovski, former commissioner of the Commonwealth,--a
sterling soldier, who, though he did not serve with the prince, was his
confidant and friend. The lieutenant wanted to ask him if there were
instructions from Lubni; but the prince had sent nothing special. He
had ordered Skshetuski, in the event of a favorable answer from the
Khan, to journey slowly, so that his men and horses might be in good
health. The prince had the following business with the Khan; He desired
the punishment of certain Tartar murzas, who had raided his estates
beyond the Dnieper, and whom he himself had punished severely. The Khan
had in fact given a favorable answer,--had promised to send a special
envoy in the following April to punish the disobedient; and wishing to
gain the good-will of so famous a warrior as the prince, he had sent
him by Skshetuski a horse of noted stock and also a sable cap.

Pan Skshetuski, having acquitted himself of his mission with no small
honor, the mission itself being a proof of the high favor of the
prince, was greatly rejoiced at the permission to stop in Chigirin
without hastening his return. But old Zatsvilikhovski was greatly
annoyed by what had been taking place for some time in Chigirin. They
went together to the house of Dopula, a Wallachian, who kept an inn and
a wine-shop in the place. There they found a crowd of nobles, though
the hour was still early; for it was a market-day, and besides there
happened to be a halt of cattle driven to the camp of the royal army,
which brought a multitude of people together. The nobles generally
assembled in the square at Dopula's, at the so-called Bell-ringers'
Corner. There were assembled tenants of the Konyetspolskis, and
Chigirin officials, owners of neighboring lands, settlers on crown
lands, nobles on their own soil and dependent on no one, land stewards,
some Cossack elders, and a few inferior nobles,--some living on other
men's acres and some on their own.

These groups occupied benches at long oaken tables and conversed in
loud voices, all speaking of the flight of Hmelnitski, which was the
greatest event of the place. Zatsvilikhovski sat with Skshetuski in a
corner apart. The lieutenant began to inquire what manner of ph[oe]nix
that Hmelnitski was of whom all were speaking.

"Don't you know?" answered the old soldier. "He is the secretary of the
Zaporojian army, the heir of Subotoff,--and my friend," added he, in a
lower voice. "We have been long acquainted, and were together in many
expeditions in which he distinguished himself, especially under Tetera.
Perhaps there is not a soldier of such military experience in the whole
Commonwealth. This is not to be mentioned in public; but he has the
brain of a hetman, a heavy hand, and a mighty mind. All the Cossacks
obey him more than koshevoi and ataman. He is not without good points,
but imperious and unquiet; and when hatred gets the better of him he
can be terrible."

"What made him flee from Chigirin?"

"Quarrels with the Starosta Chaplinski; but that is all nonsense.
Usually a nobleman bespatters a nobleman from enmity. Hmelnitski is not
the first and only man offended. They say, too, that he turned the head
of the starosta's wife; that the starosta carried off his mistress and
married her; that afterward Hmelnitski took her fancy,--and that is a
likely matter, for woman is giddy, as a rule. But these are mere
pretexts, under which certain intrigues find deeper concealment. This
is how the affair stands: In Chigirin lives old Barabash, a Cossack
colonel, our friend. He had privileges and letters from the king. Of
these it was said that they urged the Cossacks to resist the nobility;
but being a humane and kindly man, he kept them to himself and did
not make them known. Then Hmelnitski invited Barabash to a dinner
in his own house, here in Chigirin, and sent people to Barabash's
country-place, who took the letters and the privileges away from his
wife and disappeared. There is danger that out of them such a rebellion
as that of Ostranitsa may arise; for, I repeat, he is a terrible man,
and has fled, it is unknown whither."

To this Skshetuski answered: "He is a fox, and has tricked me. He told
me he was a Cossack colonel of Prince Dominik Zaslavski. I met him last
night in the steppe, and freed him from a lariat."

Zatsvilikhovski seized himself by the head.

"In God's name, what do you tell me? It cannot have been."

"It can, since it has been. He told me he was a colonel in the service
of Prince Dominik Zaslavski, on a mission from the Grand Hetman to Pan
Grodzitski at Kudák. I did not believe this, since he was not
travelling by water, but stealing along over the steppe."

"He is as cunning as Ulysses! But where did you meet him?"

"On the Omelnik, on the right bank of the Dnieper. It is evident that
he was on his way to the Saitch."

"He wanted to avoid Kudák. I understand now. Had he many men?"

"About forty. But they came to meet him too late. Had it not been for
me, the servants of the starosta would have strangled him."

"But stop a moment! That is an important affair. The servants of the
starosta, you say?"

"That is what he told me."

"How could the starosta know where to look for him, when here in this
place all were splitting their heads to know what he had done with

"I can't tell that. It may be, too, that Hmelnitski lied, and
represented common robbers as servants of the starosta, in order to
call more attention to his wrongs."

"Impossible! But it is a strange affair. Do you know that there is a
circular from the hetman, ordering the arrest and detention of

The lieutenant gave no answer, for at that moment some nobleman entered
the room with a tremendous uproar. He made the doors rattle a couple of
times, and looking insolently through the room cried out,--

"My respects, gentlemen!"

He was a man of forty years of age, of low stature, with peevish face,
the irritable appearance of which was increased by quick eyes,
protruding from his face like plums,--evidently a man very rash,
stormy, quick to anger.

"My respects, gentlemen!" repeated he more loudly and sharply, since he
was not answered at once.

"Respects! respects!" was answered by several voices.

This man was Chaplinski, the under-starosta of Chigirin, the trusted
henchman of young Konyetspolski. He was not liked in Chigirin, for he
was a terrible blusterer, always involved in lawsuits, always
persecuting some one; but for all that he had great influence,
consequently people were polite to him.

Zatsvilikhovski, whom all respected for his dignity, virtues, and
courage, was the only man he regarded. Seeing him, he approached
immediately, and bowing rather haughtily to Skshetuski, sat down near
them with his tankard of mead.

"Well," inquired Zatsvilikhovski, "do you know what has become of

"He is hanging, as sure as I am Chaplinski; and if he is not hanging
yet, he will be soon. Now that the hetman's orders are issued, let me
only get him in my hands!"

Saying this, he struck the table with his fist till the liquor was
spilled from the glasses.

"Don't spill the wine, my dear sir!" said Skshetuski.

Zatsvilikhovski interrupted: "But how will you get him, since he has
escaped and no one knows where he is?"

"No one knows? I know,--true as I am Chaplinski. You know Hvedko. That
Hvedko is in his service, but in mine too. He will be Hmelnitski's
Judas. It's a long story. He has made friends with Hmelnitski's
Cossacks. A sharp fellow! He knows every step that is taken. He has
engaged to bring him to me, living or dead, and has gone to the steppe
before Hmelnitski, knowing where to wait for him."

Having said this, he struck the table again.

"Don't spill the wine, my dear sir!" repeated with emphasis Skshetuski,
who felt an astonishing aversion to the man from the first sight of

Chaplinski grew red in the face; his protruding eyes flashed. Thinking
that offence was given him, he looked excitedly at Pan Yan; but seeing
on him the colors of Vishnyevetski, he softened. Though Konyetspolski
had a quarrel with Yeremi at the time, still Chigirin was too near
Lubni, and it was dangerous not to respect the colors of the prince.
Besides, Vishnyevetski chose such people for his service that any one
would think twice before disputing with them.

"Hvedko, then, has undertaken to get Hmelnitski for you?" asked
Zatsvilikhovski again.

"He has, and he will get him,--as sure as I am Chaplinski."

"But I tell you that he will not. Hmelnitski has escaped the ambush,
and has gone to the Saitch, which you should have told Pan Pototski
to-day. There is no fooling with Hmelnitski. Speaking briefly, he has
more brains, a heavier hand, and greater luck than you, who are too
hotheaded. Hmelnitski went away safely, I tell you; and if perhaps you
don't believe me, this gentleman, who saw him in good health on the
steppe and bade good-by to him yesterday, will repeat what I have

"Impossible, it cannot be!" boiled up Chaplinski, seizing himself by
the hair.

"And what is more," added Zatsvilikhovski, "this knight before you
saved him and killed your servants,--for which he is not to blame, in
spite of the hetman's order, since he was returning from a mission to
the Crimea and knew nothing of the order. Seeing a man attacked in the
steppe by ruffians, as he thought, he went to his assistance. Of this
rescue of Hmelnitski I inform you in good season, for he is ready with
his Zaporojians, and it is evident that you wouldn't be very glad to
see him, for you have maltreated him over-much. Tfu! to the devil with
such tricks!"

Zatsvilikhovski, also, did not like Chaplinski.

Chaplinski sprang from his seat, losing his speech from rage; his face
was completely purple, and his eyes kept coming more and more out of
his head. Standing before Skshetuski in this condition, he belched
forth disconnected words,--

"How!--in spite of the hetman's orders! I will--I will--"

Skshetuski did not even rise from the bench, but leaned on his elbows
and watched Chaplinski, darting like a hawk on a sparrow.

"Why do you fasten to me like a burr to a dog's tail?"

"I'll drag you to the court with me!--You in spite of orders!--I with

He stormed so much that it grew quieter in other parts of the room, and
strangers began to turn their faces in the direction of Chaplinski. He
was always seeking a quarrel, for such was his nature; he offended
every man he met. But all were astonished, then, that he began with
Zatsvilikhovski, who was the only person he feared, and with an officer
wearing the colors of Prince Yeremi.

"Be silent, sir!" said the old standard-bearer. "This knight is in my

"I'll take you to the court!--I'll take you to the court--to the
stocks!" roared Chaplinski, paying no attention to anything or any man.

Then Skshetuski rose, straightened himself to his full height, but did
not draw his sabre; he had it hanging low, and taking it by the middle
raised it till he put the cross hilt under the very nose of Chaplinski.

"Smell that!" said he.

"Strike, whoever believes in God!--Ai! here, my men!" shouted
Chaplinski, grasping after his sword-hilt.

But he did not succeed in drawing his sword. The young lieutenant
turned him around, caught him by the nape of the neck with one hand,
and with the other by the trousers below the belt raised him, squirming
like a salmon, and going to the door between the benches called out,--

"Brothers, clear the road for big horns; he'll hook!"

Saying this, he went to the threshold, struck and opened the door with
Chaplinski, and hurled the under-starosta out into the street. Then he
resumed his seat quietly at the side of Zatsvilikhovski.

In a moment there was silence in the room. The argument used by Pan Yan
made a great impression on the assembled nobles. After a little while,
however, the whole place shook with laughter.

"Hurrah for Vislinyevetski's man!" cried some.

"He has fainted! he has fainted, and is covered with blood!" cried
others, who had looked through the door, curious to know what
Chaplinski would do. "His servants are carrying him off!"

The partisans of the under-starosta, but few in number, were silent,
and not having the courage to take his part, looked sullenly at

"Spoken truth touches that hound to the quick," said Zatsvilikhovski.

"He is a cur, not a hound," said, while drawing near, a bulky nobleman
who had a cataract on one eye and a hole in his forehead the size of a
thaler, through which the naked skull appeared,--"He is a cur, not a
hound! Permit me," continued he, turning to Pan Yan, "to offer you my
respects. I am Yan Zagloba; my escutcheon 'In the Forehead,' as every
one may easily know by this hole which the bullet of a robber made in
my forehead when I was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in penance for
the sins of my youth."

"But leave us in peace," said Zatsvilikhovski; "you said yourself that
that was knocked out of you with a tankard in Radom."

"As I live, the bullet of a robber! That was another affair in Radom."

"You made a vow to go to the Holy Land, perhaps; but that you have
never been there is certain."

"I have not been there, for in Galáts I received the palm of martyrdom;
and if I lie, I am a supreme dog and not a nobleman."

"Ah, you never stop your stories!"

"Well, I am a rogue without hearing. To you, Lieutenant!"

In the mean while others came up to make the acquaintance of Skshetuski
and express their regard for him. In general Chaplinski was not
popular, and they were glad that disgrace had met him. It is strange
and difficult to understand at this day that all the nobility in the
neighborhood of Chigirin, and the smaller owners of villages, landed
proprietors, and agriculturists, even though serving the
Konyetspolskis, all knowing in neighbor fashion the dispute of
Chaplinski with Hmelnitski, were on the side of the latter. Hmelnitski
had indeed the reputation of a famous soldier who had rendered no mean
services in various wars. It was known, also, that the king himself had
had communication with him and valued his opinion highly. The whole
affair was regarded as an ordinary squabble of one noble with another;
such squabbles were counted by thousands, especially in the Russian
lands. The part of the man was taken who knew how to incline to his
side the majority, who did not foresee what terrible results were to
come from this affair. Later on it was that hearts flamed up with
hatred against Hmelnitski,--the hearts of nobility and clergy of both
churches in equal degree.

Presently men came up to Skshetuski with liquor by the quart, saying,--

"Drink, brother!"

"Have a drink with me too!"

"Long life to Vishnyevetski's men!"

"So young, and already a lieutenant with Vishnyevetski!"

"Long life to Yeremi, hetman of hetmans! With him we will go to the
ends of the earth!"

"Against Turks and Tartars!"

"To Stamboul!"

"Long life to Vladislav, our king!"

Loudest of all shouted Pan Zagloba, who was ready all alone to
out-drink and out-talk a whole regiment.

"Gentlemen!" shouted he, till the window-panes rattled, "I have
summoned the Sultan for the assault on me which he permitted in

"If you don't stop talking, you may wear the skin off your mouth."

"How so, my dear sir? Quatuor articuli judicii castrensis: stuprum,
incendium, latrocinium et vis armata alienis ædibus illata. Was not
that specifically vis armata?"

"You are a noisy woodcock, my friend."

"I'll go even to the highest court."

"But won't you keep quiet?"

"I will get a decision, proclaim him an outlaw, and then war to the

"Health to you, gentlemen!"

Some broke out in laughter, and with them Skshetuski, for his head
buzzed a trifle now; but Zagloba babbled on just like a woodcock,
charmed with his own voice. Happily his discourse was interrupted by
another noble, who, stepping up, pulled him by the sleeve and said in
singing Lithuanian tones,--

"Introduce me, friend Zagloba, to Lieutenant Skshetuski,--introduce me,

"Of course, of course. Most worthy lieutenant, this is Pan Povsinoga."

"Podbipienta," said the other, correcting him.

"No matter; but his arms are Zervipludry--"[2]

"Zervikaptur,"[3] corrected the stranger.

"All right. From Psikishki--"[4]

"From Myshikishki,"[5] corrected the stranger.

"It's all the same. I don't remember whether I said mouse or dog
entrails. But one thing is certain: I should not like to live in either
place, for it is not easy to get there, and to depart is unseemly. Most
gracious sir," said he, turning to Skshetuski, "I have now for a week
been drinking wine at the expense of this gentleman, who has a sword at
his belt as heavy as his purse, and his purse is as heavy as his wit.
But if ever I have drunk wine at the cost of such an original, then may
I call myself as big a fool as the man who buys wine for me."

"Well, he has given him a description!"

But the Lithuanian was not angry; he only waved his hand, smiled
kindly, and said: "You might give us a little peace; it is terrible to
listen to you!"

Pan Yan looked with curiosity at the new figure, which in truth
deserved to be called original. First of all, it was the figure of a
man of such stature that his head was as high as a wall, and his
extreme leanness made him appear taller still. His broad shoulders and
sinewy neck indicated uncommon strength, but he was merely skin and
bone. His stomach had so fallen in from his chest that he might have
been taken for a man dying of hunger. He was well dressed in a gray
closely fitting coat of sveboda cloth with narrow arms, and high
Swedish boots, then coming into use in Lithuania. A broad and
well-filled elk-skin girdle with nothing to support it had slipped down
to his hips; to this girdle was attached a Crusader's sword, which was
so long that it reached quite to the shoulder of this gigantic man.

But whoever should be alarmed at the sword would be reassured in a
moment by a glance at the face of its owner. The face, lean like the
whole person, was adorned with hanging brows and a pair of drooping,
hemp-colored mustaches, but was as honest and sincere as the face of a
child. The hanging mustaches and brows gave him an expression at once
anxious, thoughtful, and ridiculous. He looked like a man whom people
elbow aside; but he pleased Skshetuski from the first glance because of
the sincerity of his face and his perfect soldierly self-control.

"Lieutenant," said he, "you are in the service of Prince

"I am."

The Lithuanian placed his hands together as if in prayer, and raised
his eyes.

"Ah, what a mighty warrior, what a hero, what a leader!"

"God grant the Commonwealth as many such as possible!"

"But could I not enter his service?"

"He will be glad to have you."

At this point Zagloba interrupted the conversation.

"The prince will have two spits for his kitchen,--one in you, one in
your sword,--or he will hire you as a cook, or he will order robbers to
be hanged on you, or he will measure cloth with you to make uniforms!
Tfu! why are you not ashamed as a man and a Catholic to be as long as a
serpent or the lance of an infidel?"

"Oh, it's disgusting to hear you," said the Lithuanian, patiently.

"What is your title?" asked Skshetuski; "for when you were speaking Pan
Zagloba interrupted so often that if you will pardon me--"


"Povsinoga," added Zagloba.

"Zervikaptur of Myshikishki."

"Here, old woman, is fun for you. I drink his wine, but I'm a fool if
these are not outlandish titles."

"Are you from Lithuania?" asked the lieutenant.

"Well, I'm two weeks now in Chigirin. Hearing from Pan Zatsvilikhovski
that you were coming, I waited to present my request to the prince with
his recommendation."

"Tell me, please,--for I am curious,--why do you carry such an
executioner's sword under your arm?"

"It is not the sword of an executioner, Lieutenant, but of a Crusader,
and I wear it because it is a trophy and has been long in my family. It
served at Khoinitsi in Lithuanian hands, and that's why I wear it."

"But it's a savage machine, and must be terribly heavy. It's for two
hands, I suppose?"

"Oh, it can be used in two hands or one."

"Let me have a look at it."

The Lithuanian drew the sword and handed it to him; but Skshetuski's
arm dropped in a moment. He could neither point the weapon nor aim a
blow freely. He tried with both hands; still it was heavy. Skshetuski
was a little ashamed, and turning to those present, said,--

"Now, gentlemen, who can make a cross with it?"

"We have tried already," answered several voices. "Pan Zatsvilikhovski
is the only man who raises it, but he can't make a cross with it."

"Well, let us see you, sir," said Skshetuski, turning to the

Podbipienta raised the sword as if it were a cane, and whirled it
several times with the greatest ease, till the air in the room whistled
and a breeze was blowing on their faces.

"May God be your aid!" said Skshetuski. "You have sure service with the

"God knows that I am anxious, and my sword will not rust in it."

"But what about your wits," asked Zagloba, "since you don't know how to
use them?"

Zatsvilikhovski now rose, and with the lieutenant was preparing to go
out, when a man with hair white as a dove entered, and seeing
Zatsvilikhovski, said,--

"I have come here on purpose to see you, sir."

This was Barabash, the Colonel of Cherkasi.

"Then come to my quarters," replied Zatsvilikhovski. "There is such a
smoke here that nothing can be seen."

They went out together, Skshetuski with them. As soon as he had crossed
the threshold, Barabash asked,--

"Are there news of Hmelnitski?"

"There are. He has fled to the Saitch. This officer met him yesterday
in the steppe."

"Then he has not gone by water? I hurried off a courier to Kudák to
have him seized; but if what you say is true, 'tis useless."

When he had said this, Barabash covered his eyes with his hands, and
began to repeat, "Oh, Christ save us! Christ save us!"

"Why are you disturbed?"

"Don't you know the treason he has wrought on me? Don't you know what
it means to publish such documents in the Saitch? Christ save us!
Unless the king makes war on the Mussulman, this will be a spark upon

"You predict a rebellion?"

"I do not predict, I see it; and Hmelnitski is somewhat beyond
Nalivaika and Loboda."

"But who will follow him?"

"Who? Zaporojians, registered Cossacks, people of the towns, the mob,
cottagers, and such as these out here."

Barabash pointed to the market-square and to the people moving around
upon it. The whole square was thronged with great gray oxen on the way
to Korsún for the army; and with the oxen went a crowd of herdsmen
(Chabani), who passed their whole lives in the steppe and
Wilderness,--men perfectly wild, professing no religion, ("religionis
nullius," as the Voevoda Kisel said). Among them were forms more like
robbers than herdsmen,--fierce, terrible, covered with remnants of
various garments. The greater part of them were dressed in sheepskin
doublets or in untanned skins with the wool outside, open in front and
showing, even in winter, the naked breast embrowned by the winds of the
steppe. All were armed, but with the greatest variety of weapons. Some
had bows and quivers on their shoulders; some muskets or "squealers"
(so called by the Cossacks); some had Tartar sabres, some scythes; and
finally, there were those who had only sticks with horse-jaws fastened
on the ends. Among them mingled the no less wild, though better armed
men from the lower country, taking to the camp for sale dried fish,
game, and mutton fat. Farther on were the Chumaki (ox-drivers) with
salt, bee-keepers from the steppes and forest, wax-bleachers with
honey, forest-dwellers with tar and pitch, peasants with wagons,
registered Cossacks, Tartars from Bélgorod, and God knows what tramps
and "vampires" from the ends of the earth. The whole town was full of
drunken men. Chigirin was the place of lodging, and therefore of a
frolic before bedtime. Fires were scattered over the market-square,
while here and there an empty tar-barrel was burning. From every point
were heard cries and bustle. The shrill squeak of Tartar pipes and the
sound of drums was mingled with the bellowing of cattle and the softer
note of the lyre, to which old men sang the favorite song of the

                       "Oh, bright falcon,
                        My own brother,
                        Thou soarest high,
                        Thou seest far."

And besides this went up the wild shouts "U-ha! u-ha!" of the Cossacks,
smeared with tar and quite drunk, dancing the tropak on the square. All
this was at once wild and frenzied. One glance was enough to convince
Zatsvilikhovski that Barabash was right; that one breath was sufficient
to let loose those chaotic elements, inclined to plunder and accustomed
to violence, with which the whole Ukraine was filled. And behind these
crowds stood the Saitch, the Zaporojie, recently bridled and put in
curb after Masloff Stav, still gnawing the bit impatiently, remembering
ancient privileges and hating commissioners, but forming an organized
power. That power had also on its side the sympathy of a countless mass
of peasants, less patient of control than in other parts of the
Commonwealth, because near them was Chertomelik, and beyond
lordlessness, booty, and freedom. The standard-bearer in view of this,
though a Russian himself and a devoted adherent of Eastern orthodoxy,
fell into gloomy thought.

Being an old man, he remembered well the times of Nalivaika, Loboda,
and Krempski. He knew the robbers of the Ukraine better perhaps than
any one in Russia; and knowing at the same time Hmelnitski, he knew
that he was greater than twenty Lobodas and Nalivaikas. He understood,
therefore, all the danger of his escape to the Saitch, especially with
the letters of the king, which Barabash said were full of promises to
the Cossacks and incitements to resistance.

"Most worthy colonel," said Zatsvilikhovski to Barabash, "you should go
to the Saitch and neutralize the influence of Hmelnitski; pacify them,
pacify them."

"Most worthy standard-bearer," answered Barabash, "I will merely say
that in consequence of the news of Hmelnitski's flight with the papers
of the king, one half of my men have followed him to the Saitch. My
time has passed; not the baton awaits me, but the grave!"

Barabash was indeed a good soldier, but old and without influence.

Meanwhile they had come to the quarters of Zatsvilikhovski, who had
regained somewhat the composure peculiar to his mild character; and
when they sat down to half a gallon of mead, he said emphatically,--

"All this is nothing, if, as they say, war is on foot against the
Mussulman; and it is likely that such is the case, for though the
Commonwealth does not want war, and the diets have roused much bad
blood in the king, still he may carry his point. All this fire may be
turned against the Turk, and in every case we have time on our side. I
will go myself to Pan Pototski, inform him, and ask that he, being
nearest to us, should come with his army. I do not know whether I shall
succeed, for though a brave man and a trained warrior, he is terribly
confident in himself and his army. And you, Colonel of Cherkasi, keep
the Cossacks in curb--and you, Lieutenant, the moment you arrive at
Lubni warn the prince to keep his eyes on the Saitch. Even if they
begin action, I repeat it, we have time. There are not many people at
the Saitch now; they have scattered around, fishing and hunting, and
are in villages throughout the whole Ukraine. Before they assemble,
much water will flow down the Dnieper. Besides, the name of the prince
is terrible, and if they know that he has his eye on Chertomelik,
perhaps they will remain in peace."

"I am ready," said the lieutenant, "to start from Chigirin even in a
couple of days."

"That's right. Two or three days are of no account. And do you, Colonel
of Cherkasi, send couriers with an account of the affair to
Konyetspolski and Prince Dominic. But you are asleep, as I see."

Barabash had crossed his hands on his stomach and was in a deep
slumber, snoring from time to time. The old colonel, when neither
eating nor drinking,--and he loved both beyond measure,--was sleeping.

"Look!" said Zatsvilikhovski quietly to the lieutenant; "the statesmen
at Warsaw think of holding the Cossacks in curb through such an old man
as that. God be good to them! They put trust, too, even in Hmelnitski
himself, with whom the chancellor entered into some negotiations or
other; and Hmelnitski no doubt is fooling them terribly."

The lieutenant sighed in token of sympathy. But Barabash snored more
deeply, and then murmured in his sleep: "Christ save us! Christ save

"When do you think of leaving Chigirin?" asked Zatsvilikhovski.

"I shall have to wait two days for Chaplinski, who will bring an
action, beyond doubt, for what has happened to him."

"He will not do that. He would prefer to send his servants against you
if you didn't wear the uniform of the prince; but it is ugly work to
tackle the prince, even for the servants of the Konyetspolskis."

"I will notify him that I am waiting, and start in two or three days. I
am not afraid of an ambush, either, having a sabre at my side and a
party of men."

The lieutenant now took farewell of Zatsvilikhovski, and went out.

The blaze from the piles on the square spread such a glare over the
town that all Chigirin seemed burning. The bustle and shouts increased
with the approach of night. The Jews did not peep from their houses. In
every corner crowds of Chabani howled plaintive songs of the steppe.
The wild Zaporojians danced around the fires, hurling their caps in the
air, firing from their "squealers," and drinking gorailka by the quart.
Here and there a scuffle broke out, which the starosta's men put down.
The lieutenant had to open a way with the hilt of his sabre. Hearing
the shouts and noise of the Cossacks, he thought at times that
rebellion was already beginning to speak. It seemed to him, also, that
he saw threatening looks and heard low-spoken curses directed against
his person. In his ears were still ringing the words of Barabash,
"Christ save us! Christ save us!" and his heart beat more quickly.

But the Chabani sang their songs more loudly in the town; the
Zaporojians fired from their muskets and swam in gorailka. The firing
and the wild "U-ha! u-ha!" reached the ears of the lieutenant, even
after he had lain down to sleep in his quarters.

                              CHAPTER III.

A few days later the lieutenant with his escort pressed forward briskly
in the direction of Lubni. After the passage of the Dnieper, they
travelled by a broad steppe road which united Chigirin with Lubni,
passing through Juki, Semi Mogil, and Khorol. A similar road joined
Lubni with Kieff. In times past, before the campaign of the hetman
Jolkyevski against Solonitsa, these roads were not in existence. People
travelled to Kieff from Lubni by the desert and the steppe; the way to
Chigirin was by water, with return by land through Khorol. In general
the country beyond the Dnieper, the ancient land of the Pólovtsi, was
wild, scarcely more inhabited than the Wilderness, frequently visited
by the Tartars, and exposed to Zaporojian bands.

On the banks of the Sula immense forests, which had never been touched
by the foot of man, gave forth their voices; and in places also on the
low shores of the Sula, the Ruda, Sleporod, Korovai, Orjavets, Psel,
and other greater and smaller rivers and streams, marshes were formed,
partly grown over with dense thickets and pine forests, and partly open
in the form of meadows. In these pine woods and morasses wild beasts of
every kind found commodious refuge; and in the deepest forest gloom
lived in countless multitudes the bearded aurochs, bears, with wild
boars, and near them wolves, lynxes, martens, deer, and wild goats. In
the swamps and arms of rivers beavers built their dams. There were
stories current among the Zaporojians that of these beavers were some a
century old and white as snow from age.

On the elevated dry steppes roamed herds of wild horses, with shaggy
foreheads and bloodshot eyes. The rivers were swarming with fish and
water-fowl. It was a wonderful land, half asleep, but bearing traces of
the former activity of man. It was everywhere filled with the ruins of
towns of previous generations; Lubni and Khorol were raised from such
ruins as these. Everywhere the country was full of grave-mounds,
ancient and modern, covered already with a growth of pine. Here, as in
the Wilderness, ghosts and vampires rose up at night. Old Zaporojians,
sitting around their fires, told marvellous tales of what took place
in those forest depths, from which issued the howling of unknown
beasts,--cries half human, half brute,--terrible sounds as of battle or
the chase. Under water was heard the ringing of bells in submerged
cities. The land was inhospitable, little accessible, in places too
soft, in places suffering from lack of water,--parched, dry, and
dangerous to live in; for when men settled down there anyhow and began
to cultivate the land, they were swept away by Tartar raids. But it was
frequently visited by Zaporojians while hunting--or, as they phrased
it, while at "industry"--along all the rivers, ravines, forests, and
reedy marshes, searching for beavers in places of which even the
existence was known to few.

And still settled life struggled to cling to those regions, like a
plant which seizes the ground with its roots wherever it can, and
though torn out repeatedly, springs up anew. On desert sites rose
towns, settlements, colonies, hamlets, and single dwellings. The earth
was fruitful in places, and freedom was enticing. But life bloomed up
first when these lands came into possession of the princes
Vishnyevetski. Prince Michael, after his marriage with a Moldavian
lady, began to put his domain beyond the Dnieper into careful order. He
brought in people, settled waste regions, gave exemption from service
for thirty years, built monasteries, and introduced his princely
authority. Even a settler in that country from a time of unreckoned
priority, who considered that he was on his own ground, was willing to
descend to the status of a tribute-payer, since for his tribute he came
under the powerful protection of the prince who guarded him,--defended
him from the Tartars and the men from below, who were often worse than
the Tartars. But real activity commenced under the iron hand of young
Prince Yeremi. His possessions began immediately outside Chigirin, and
ended at Konotóp and Komni. This did not constitute all the wealth of
the prince, for beginning at Sandomir his lands lay in the voevodstvos
of Volynia, Russia, and Kieff; but his domain beyond the Dnieper was as
the eye in his head to the victor of Putívl.

The Tartar lay long in wait on the Oryól or the Vorskla, and sniffed
like a wolf before he ventured to urge his horse to the north. The men
from below did not attempt attack. The local disorderly bands entered
service. Wild, plundering people, who had long subsisted by violence
and raids, now held in check, occupied outposts on the borders, and
lying on the boundaries of the state, were like a bull-dog on his
chain, threatening intruders with his teeth.

Everything flourished and was full of life. Roads were laid out on the
trace of ancient highways; rivers were blocked with dams, built by the
captive Tartar or men from below caught robbing with armed hand. The
mill now resounded where the wind used to play wildly at night in the
reeds, and where wolves howled in company with the ghosts of drowned
men. More than four hundred wheels, not counting the numerous
windmills, ground grain beyond the Dnieper. More than forty thousand
men were tributary to the prince's treasury. The woods swarmed with
bees. On the borders new villages, hamlets, and single dwellings were
rising continually. On the steppes, by the side of wild herds, grazed
whole droves of domestic cattle and horses. The endless monotony of
pine groves and steppes was varied by the smoke of cottages, the gilded
towers of churches,--Catholic and orthodox. The desert was changed into
a peopled land.

Lieutenant Skshetuski travelled on gladly, and without hurry, as if
going over his own ground, having plenty of leisure secured to him on
the road. It was the beginning of January, 1648; but that wonderful,
exceptional winter gave no sign of its approach. Spring was breathing
in the air; the earth was soft and shining with the water of melted
snow, the fields were covered with green, and the sun shone with such
heat on the road at midday that fur coats burdened the shoulders as in

The lieutenant's party was increased considerably in Chigirin, for it
was joined by a Wallachian embassy which the hospodar sent to Lubni in
the person of Pan Rozvan Ursu. The embassy was attended by an escort,
with wagons and servants. Our acquaintance, Pan Longin Podbipienta,
with the shield of Zervikaptur, his long sword under his arm, and with
a few servants, travelled with Pan Yan.

Sunshine, splendid weather, and the odor of approaching spring filled
the heart with gladness; and the lieutenant was the more rejoiced,
since he was returning from a long journey to the roof of the prince,
which was at the same time his own roof. He was returning having
accomplished his mission well, and was therefore certain of a good

There were other causes, also, for his gladness. Besides the good-will
of the prince, whom the lieutenant loved with his whole soul, there
awaited him in Lubni certain dark eyes. These eyes belonged to Anusia
Borzobogata Krasenska, lady-in-waiting to Princess Griselda, the most
beautiful maiden among all her attendants; a fearful coquette, for whom
every one was languishing in Lubni, while she was indifferent to all.
Princess Griselda was terribly strict in deportment and excessively
austere in manner, which, however, did not prevent young people from
exchanging ardent glances and sighs. Pan Yan, in common with the
others, sent his tribute to the dark eyes, and when alone in his
quarters he would seize a lute and sing,--

                 "Thou'rt the daintiest of the dainty;"


                 "The Tartar seizes people captive;
                  Thou seizest captive hearts."

But being a cheerful man, and, besides, a soldier thoroughly devoted to
his profession, he did not take it too much to heart that Anusia smiled
on Pan Bykhovets of the Wallachian regiment, or Pan Vurtsel of the
artillery, or Pan Volodyovski of the dragoons, as well as on him, and
smiled even on Pan Baranovski of the huzzars, although he was already
growing gray, and lisped since his palate had been wounded by a
musket-ball. Our lieutenant had even had a sabre duel with Volodyovski
for the sake of Anusia; but when obliged to remain too long at Lubni
without an expedition against the Tartars, life was tedious there, even
with Anusia, and when he had to go on an expedition, he went gladly,
without regret or remembrance.

He returned joyfully, however, for he was on his way from the Crimea
after a satisfactory arrangement of affairs. He hummed a song merrily,
and urged his horse, riding by the side of Pan Longin, who, sitting on
an enormous Livonian mare, was thoughtful and serious as usual. The
wagons of the embassy escort remained considerably in the rear.

"The envoy is lying in the wagon like a block of wood, and sleeps all
the time," said the lieutenant. "He told me wonders of his Wallachian
land till he grew tired. I listened, too, with curiosity. It is a rich
country,--no use in denying that,--excellent climate, gold, wine,
dainties, and cattle in abundance. I thought to myself meanwhile: Our
prince is descended from a Moldavian mother, and has as good a right to
the throne of the hospodar as any one else; which rights, moreover,
Prince Michael claimed. Wallachia is no new country to our warriors;
they have beaten the Turks, Tartars, Wallachians, and Transylvanians."

"But the people are of weaker temper than with us, as Pan Zagloba told
me in Chigirin," said Pan Longin. "If he is not to be believed;
confirmation of what he says may be found in prayer-books."

"How in prayer-books?"

"I have one myself, and I can show it to you, for I always carry one
with me."

Having said this, he unbuckled the saddle-straps in front of him, and
taking out a small book carefully bound in calfskin, kissed it
reverentially; then turning over a few leaves, said, "Read."

Skshetuski began: "'We take refuge under thy protection, Holy Mother of
God--' Where is there anything here about Wallachia? What are you
talking of? This is an antiphone!"

"Read on farther."

"'That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ our Lord. Amen.'"

"Well, here we've got a question."

Skshetuski read: "'Question: Why is Wallachian cavalry called light?
Answer: Because it is light-footed in flight. Amen.' H'm! this is true.
Still, there is a wonderful mixture of matters in this book."

"It is a soldiers' book, where, side by side with prayers, a variety of
military information is given, from which you may gain knowledge of all
nations,--which of them is noblest, and which mean. As to the
Wallachians, it appears that they are cowardly fellows, and terrible
traitors besides."

"That they are traitors is undoubted, for that is proven by the
adventures of Prince Michael. I have heard as a fact that their
soldiers are nothing to boast of by nature. But the prince has an
excellent Wallachian regiment, in which Bykhovets is lieutenant; but to
tell the truth, I don't think it contains even two hundred

"Well, Lieutenant, what do you think? Has the prince many men under

"About eight thousand, not counting the Cossacks that are at the
outposts. But Zatsvilikhovski tells me that new levies are ordered."

"Well, may God give us a campaign under the prince!"

"It is said that a great war against Turkey is in preparation, and that
the king himself is going to march with all the forces of the
Commonwealth. I know, too, that gifts are withheld from the Tartars,
who, I may add, are afraid to stir. I heard of this even in the Crimea,
where on this account, I suppose, I was received with such honor; for
the report is, that if the king moves with the hetmans, Prince Yeremi
will strike the Crimea and wipe out the Tartars. It is quite certain
they will not confide such an undertaking to any one else."

Pan Longin raised his hands and eyes to heaven.

"May the God of mercy grant such a holy war for the glory of
Christianity and our nation, and permit me, sinful man, to fulfil my
vow, so that I may receive joy in the struggle or find a praiseworthy

"Have you made a vow, then, concerning the war?"

"I will disclose all the secrets of my soul to such a worthy knight,
though the story is a long one; but since you incline a willing ear I
will begin. You are aware that the motto on my shield is 'Tear cowl;'
and this has the following origin: When my ancestor, Stoveiko
Podbipienta, at the battle of Grünwald saw three knights in monks'
cowls riding in a row, he dashed up to them and cut the heads off all
three with one blow. Touching this glorious deed, the old chroniclers
write in great praise of my ancestor."

"Your ancestor had not a lighter hand than you, and he was justly 'Tear

"To him the king granted a coat of arms, and upon it three goat-heads
on a silver field in memory of those knights, because the same heads
were depicted on their shields. Those arms, together with this sword,
my ancestor, Stoveiko Podbipienta, left to his descendants with the
injunction to strive to uphold the glory of their race and sword."

"It is not to be denied that you come of gentle stock."

Here Pan Longin began to sigh earnestly; and when he had comforted
himself somewhat he continued:--

"Being the last of my race, I made a vow in Troki to the Most Holy Lady
to live in continence and not marry till, in emulation of my ancestor
Stoveiko Podbipienta, I should sweep off with this same sword three
heads at one blow. Oh, merciful God, thou seest that I have done all in
my power. I have preserved my purity to this day; I have commanded a
tender heart to be still; I have sought war and I have fought, but
without good fortune."

The lieutenant smiled under his mustache. "And you have not taken off
three heads?"

"'No! it has not come to pass! No luck! Two at a blow I have taken more
than once, but never three. I've never been able to come up to them,
and it would be hard to ask enemies to stand in line for a blow. God
knows my grief. There is strength in my bones, I have wealth, youth is
passing away, I am approaching my forty-fifth year, my heart rushes
forth in affection, my family is coming to an end, and still the three
heads are not there! Such a Zervikaptur am I. A laughing-stock for the
people, as Pan Zagloba truly remarks. All of which I endure patiently
and offer to the Lord."

The Lithuanian began again to sigh, noticing which his Livonian mare
from sympathy for her master fell to groaning and snorting.

"Well, I can only tell you," said the lieutenant, "if you do not find
an opportunity under Prince Yeremi, then you will find it nowhere."

"God grant!" answered Podbipienta; "this is why I am going to beg a
favor of the prince."

Further conversation was interrupted by an unusual sound of wings. As
has been stated, birds of passage did not go beyond the sea that
winter; the rivers did not freeze over, therefore the whole country was
full of water-fowl, especially over the marshes. Just as the lieutenant
and Pan Longin were approaching the bank of the Kagamlik there was a
sudden rushing noise above their heads of a whole flock of storks,
which flew so near the ground that it was almost possible to strike
them with a stick. The flock flew with a tremendous outcry, and instead
of settling in the reeds rose unexpectedly through the air.

"They rush as if hunted," said Skshetuski.

"Ah, see!" said Pan Longin, pointing to a white bird which, cutting the
air in sidelong flight, tried to overtake the flock.

"A falcon stops them from alighting," said the lieutenant. "The envoy
has a falcon; it must be that he has let her out."

At that moment Pan Rozvan Ursu rode up at full speed on a black
Anatolian steed, and after him a number of his service.

"I beg you to come to the sport, Lieutenant," said he.

"This falcon is yours, then?"

"Yes, and a very noble bird, as you will see."

All three rushed forward, followed by the Wallachian falconer with a
hoop, who, fixing his eyes on the bird, shouted with all his might,
urging her to the struggle.

The valiant bird immediately forced the flock to rise in the air, and
then in a flash shot up still higher and hung over it. The storks
arranged themselves in one enormous circle, making the noise of a storm
with their wings. They filled the air with terrible cries, stretched
their necks, pointed their bills upward like lances, and waited the
attack. The falcon circled above them, at one time descending, at
another rising, as if hesitating to sweep down since a hundred sharp
beaks were waiting for her breast. Her white plumage, shone on by rays
of light, gleamed like the sun itself on the clear blue of the sky.
Suddenly, instead of rushing on the flock, the falcon darted like an
arrow into the distance, and disappeared at once behind the trees and
the reeds.

Skshetuski at first rushed after her at full speed. The envoy, the
falconer, and Longin followed his example.

At the crossing of the roads the lieutenant checked his horse. A new
and wonderful sight met his eye. In the middle of the road a carriage
lay on its side with a broken axle. Horses detached from the carriage
were held by two Cossacks. There was no driver at hand; he had
evidently gone for assistance. At the side of the carriage stood two
women. One wore a fox-skin cloak and a round-topped cap of the same
material; her face was stern and masculine. The other was a young lady
of tall stature, and gentle features of great regularity. On the
shoulder of the young lady the falcon was sitting quietly. Having
parted the feathers on her breast, the bird was stroking them with her

The lieutenant reined in his horse till its hoofs dug into the sand of
the road, and raised his hand to his cap in uncertainty, not knowing
what to say,--whether to greet the ladies or to speak to the falcon.
He was confused also because there looked upon him from under a
marten-skin hood eyes such as he had never seen in his life,--black,
satinlike, liquid, full of life and fire,--near which the eyes of
Anusia Borzobogata would be as a tallow candle before a torch. Above
those eyes dark velvety brows were defined in two delicate arches; her
blushing face bloomed like the most beautiful flower, and through her
slightly opened lips of raspberry hue were seen teeth like pearls, and
from under her hood flowed out rich dark tresses.

"Are you Juno in person or some other divinity?" thought the
lieutenant, seeing the form straight as an arrow, the swelling bosom,
and the white falcon on her shoulder. Our lieutenant stood with
uncovered head and forgot himself as before a marvellous image; his
eyes gleamed, and something, as if with a hand, seized his heart, and
he was about to begin, "If you are a mortal and not a divinity," when
the envoy, the falconer with his hoop, and Pan Longin came up. On
seeing them the goddess held her hand to the falcon, which, leaving the
shoulder, came to the hand at once, shifting from foot to foot.

The lieutenant, anticipating the falconer, wished to remove the bird,
when suddenly a wonderful omen was seen. The falcon, leaving one foot
on the hand of the lady, caught with the other the hand of the
lieutenant, and instead of going to it began to scream joyfully and
pull the hands together with such power that they touched. A quiver ran
over the lieutenant. The bird allowed herself to be taken only after
being hooded by the falconer. Then the old lady began to speak.

"Gentlemen!" said she, "whoever you are, you will not deny your
assistance to women who, left helpless on the road, know not themselves
what to do. It is no more than fifteen miles to our house; but the
carriage is broken, and we shall surely have to spend the night in the
field. I hurried off the driver to have my sons send even a wagon; but
before he reaches the house and returns, darkness will come, and it is
a terrible thing to be out in this place, for there are graves in the

The old lady spoke rapidly and with such a rough voice that the
lieutenant was astonished; still he answered politely,--


Copyright, 1898, by Little, Brown, and Company.

                     _From a drawing by J. Wagrez_.

"Do not think that we should leave you and your beautiful daughter
without assistance. We are going to Lubni, for we are soldiers in the
service of Prince Yeremi, and likely our roads are in the same
direction; and even if they are not, we shall be glad to go out of our
way in case our assistance is acceptable. As to a carriage I have none,
for with my companions I am travelling, soldier-fashion, on horseback;
but the envoy has, and being an affable gentleman will be glad, I
think, to put it at the service of yourself and your daughter."

The envoy removed his sable cap, for knowing the Polish language he
understood the conversation, and with a delicate compliment as became a
gracious boyar, he yielded his carriage to the ladies, and straightway
ordered the falconer to gallop for it to the wagons, which had lagged
considerably in the rear. Meanwhile the lieutenant looked at the young
lady, who, unable to endure his eager glance, dropped her eyes; and the
elderly lady, who had a Cossack face, continued,--

"God reward you, gentlemen, for your assistance; and since there is
still a long road to Lubni, do not reject my roof and that of my sons,
under which we shall be glad to see you. We are from Rozlogi-Siromakhi.
I am the widow of Prince Kurtsevich Bulyga; and this is not my
daughter, but the daughter of the elder Kurtsevich, brother of my
husband, who left his orphan to our care. My sons are not all at home
this moment, and I am returning from Cherkasi, where I was performing
devotions at the altar of the Holy Mother, and on our way back this
accident has met us, and were it not for your politeness, gentlemen, we
should undoubtedly have to pass the night on the road."

The princess would have said still more, but at that moment the wagons
appeared in the distance, approaching at a trot, surrounded by a crowd
of the envoy's retinue and the soldiers of Pan Yan.

"Then you are the widow of Prince Vassily Kurtsevich?" asked the

"No!" retorted the princess, quickly and as if in anger; "I am the
widow of Constantine, and this is the daughter of Vassily," said she,
pointing to the young lady.

"They speak of Prince Vassily often in Lubni. He was a great soldier,
and a confidant of the late Prince Michael."

"I have not been in Lubni," said she, with a certain haughtiness. "Of
his military virtues I have no knowledge. There is no need of
mentioning his later acts, since all know what they were."

Hearing this, Princess Helena dropped her head on her breast like a
flower cut with a scythe, and the lieutenant answered quickly,--

"Do not say that, madam. Prince Vassily, sentenced, through a terrible
error in the administration of human justice, to the loss of life and
property, was forced to save himself by flight; but later his entire
innocence was discovered. By the publication of this innocence he was
restored to honor as a virtuous man; and the greater the injustice done
him, the greater should be his glory."

The princess glanced quickly at the lieutenant, and in her disagreeable
sharp face anger was clearly expressed. But though Skshetuski was a
young man, he had so much knightly dignity and such a clear glance that
she did not dare to dispute him; she turned instead to Princess Helena.

"It is not proper for you to hear these things," said she. "Go and see
that the luggage is removed from our carriage to the equipage in which,
with the permission of these gentlemen, we are to ride."

"You will allow me to help you," said the lieutenant to Princess

Both went to the carriage; but as soon as they stood opposite, at the
doors on each side of it, the princess raised the lashes of her eyes,
and her glance fell upon the face of the lieutenant like a bright, warm
ray of the sun.

"How can I thank you," said she, in a voice which to him seemed music
as sweet as the sound of lyres and flutes,--"How can I thank you for
defending the good name of my father against the injustice which is put
upon it by his nearest relatives?"

The lieutenant felt his heart melting like snow in springtime, and
answered: "May God be as good to me as I am ready to rush into the fire
or shed my blood for such thanks, though the service is so slight that
I ought not to accept a reward."

"If you contemn my thanks, then I, poor orphan, have no other way to
show my gratitude."

"I do not contemn them," said he, with growing emphasis; "but for such
favor I wish to perform true and enduring service, and I only beg you
to accept me for that service."

The princess, hearing these words, blushed, was confused, then suddenly
grew pale, raised her hands to her face, and said in a sad voice: "Such
a service could bring only misfortune to you."

The lieutenant bent through the door of the carriage, and spoke quietly
and feelingly: "Let it bring what God gives; even should it bring
suffering, still I am ready to fall at your feet and beg for it."

"It cannot be that you, who have just seen me for the first time,
should conceive such a great desire for that service."

"I had scarcely seen you when I had forgotten myself altogether, and I
see that it has come to the soldier hitherto free to be changed to a
captive; but such clearly is the will of God. Love is like an arrow
which pierces the breast unexpectedly; and now I feel its sting, though
yesterday I should not have believed this if any man had told it me."

"If you could not have believed it yesterday, how am I to believe it

"Time will convince you best; but you can see my sincerity even now,
not only in my words but in my face."

Again the princess raised her eyes, and her glance met the manly and
noble face of the young soldier, and his look, so full of rapture that
a deep crimson covered her face. But she did not lower her glance, and
for a time he drank in the sweetness of those wonderful eyes, and they
looked at each other like two beings who, though they have met merely
on the highroad through the steppe, feel in a flash that they have
chosen each other, and that their souls begin to rush to a meeting like
two doves.

The moment of exaltation was disturbed for them by the sharp voice of
Constantine's widow calling to the princess. The carriages had arrived.
The attendants began to transfer the packages from the carriages, and
in a moment everything was ready. Pan Rozvan Ursu, the gracious boyar,
gave up his own carriage to the two ladies, the lieutenant mounted his
horse, and all moved forward.

The day was nearing its rest. The swollen waters of the Kagamlik were
bright with gold of the setting sun, and purple of the evening light.
High in the heavens flocks of small clouds reddening drifted slowly to
the horizon, as if, tired from flying through the air, they were going
to sleep somewhere in an unknown cradle.

Pan Yan rode by the side of Princess Helena, but without conversation,
since he could not speak to her before strangers as he had spoken a few
moments before, and frivolous words would not pass his lips now. But in
his heart he felt happiness, and in his head something sounding as if
from wine.

The whole caravan pushed on briskly, and quiet was broken only by the
snorting of the horses or the clank of stirrup against stirrup. After a
time the escort at the rear wagons began a plaintive Wallachian song;
soon, however, they stopped, and immediately the nasal voice of Pan
Longin was heard singing piously,--

           "In heaven I caused an endless light to dwell,
            And mist I spread o'er all the earth."

That moment it grew dark, the stars twinkled in the sky, and from the
damp plains white mists rose, boundless as the sea.

They entered a forest, but had gone only a few furlongs when the sound
of horses' feet was heard and five riders appeared before the caravan.
They were the young princes, who, informed by the driver of the
accident which had happened to their mother, were hurrying to meet her,
bringing a wagon drawn by four horses.

"Is that you, my sons?" called out the old princess.

The riders approached the carriage. "We, mother!"

"Come this way! Thanks to these gentlemen, we need no more assistance.
These are my sons, whom I commend to your favor, gentlemen,--Simeon,
Yury, Andrei, Nikolai-- And who is the fifth?" asked she, looking
around attentively. "Oh! if my old eyes can see in the darkness, it is

The princess drew back quickly to the depth of the carriage.

"Greetings to you, Princess, and to you, Princess Helena!" said the

"Ah, Bogun! You have come from the regiment, my falcon? And have you
brought your lute? Welcome, welcome! Well, my sons, I have asked these
gentlemen to spend the night with us at Rozlogi; and now greet them! A
guest in the house is God in the house. Be gracious to our house,

The young men removed their caps. "We entreat you most respectfully to
cross our lowly threshold."

"They have already promised me,--the envoy has promised and the
lieutenant. We shall receive honorable guests, but I am not sure that
our poor fare will be savory for men accustomed to castle dainties."

"We are reared on the fare of soldiers, not of castles," said

And Pan Rozvan added: "I have tried the hospitality of country-houses,
and know that it is better than that of castles."

The carriages moved on, and the old princess continued: "Our best days
have passed long ago. In Volynia and Lithuania there are still members
of the Kurtsevich family who have retinues of attendants and live in
lordly fashion, but they do not recognize their poor relations, for
which God punish them. We live in real Cossack poverty, which you must
overlook, and accept with a good heart what we offer with sincerity. I
and my five sons live on one village and a few hamlets, and in addition
we have this young lady to care for."

These words astonished the lieutenant not a little, for he had heard in
Lubni that Rozlogi was no small estate, and also that it belonged to
Prince Vassily, the father of Helena. He did not deem it proper,
however, to inquire how the place had passed into the hands of
Constantine and his widow.

"Then you have five sons, Princess?" asked Pan Rozvan Ursu.

"I had five, all like lions," answered she; "but the infidels in
Bélgorod put out the eyes of the eldest, Vassily, with torches,
wherefore his mind has failed him. When the young men go on an
expedition I stay at home with him and this young lady, with whom I
have more suffering than comfort."

The contemptuous tone with which the princess spoke of her niece was so
evident that it did not escape the attention of the lieutenant. His
breast boiled up in anger, and he had almost allowed an unseemly oath
to escape him; but the words died on his lips when he looked at the
young princess, and in the light of the moon saw her eyes filled with

"What has happened? Why do you weep?" asked he, in a low voice.

She was silent.

"I cannot endure to see you weep," said Pan Yan, and bent toward her.
Seeing that the old princess was conversing with the envoy and not
looking toward him, he continued: "In God's name, speak but one word,
for I would give blood and health to comfort you!"

All at once he felt one of the horsemen press against him so heavily
that the horses began to rub their sides together. Conversation with
the princess was interrupted. Skshetuski, astonished and also angered,
turned to the intruder. By the light of the moon he saw two eyes, which
looked at him insolently, defiantly, sneeringly. Those terrible eyes
shone like those of a wolf in a dark forest.

"What devil is that?" thought the lieutenant,--"a demon or who?" And
then, looking closely into those burning eyes, he asked: "Why do you
push on me with your horse, and dig your eyes into me?"

The horseman did not answer, but continued to look with equal
persistence and insolence.

"If it is dark, I can strike a light; and if the road is too narrow,
then to the steppe with you!" said the lieutenant, in a distinct voice.

"Off with you from the carriage, Pole, if you see the steppe!" answered
the horseman.

The lieutenant, being a man quick of action, instead of an answer
struck his foot into the side of his enemy's horse with such force that
the beast groaned and in a moment was on the very edge of the road.

The rider reined him in on the spot, and for a moment it seemed that he
was about to rush on the lieutenant; but that instant the sharp,
commanding voice of the old princess resounded.

"Bogun, what's the matter?"

These words had immediate effect. Bogun whirled his horse around, and
passed to the other side of the carriage to the princess, who
continued: "What is the matter? You are not in Pereyasláv nor the
Crimea, but in Rozlogi. Remember this! But now gallop ahead for me,
conduct the carriages; the ravine is at hand, and it is dark. Hurry on,
you vampire!"

Skshetuski was astonished, as well as vexed. Bogun evidently sought a
quarrel and would have found it; but why did he seek it,--whence this
unexpected attack? The thought flashed through the lieutenant's mind
that Princess Helena had something to do with this; and he was
confirmed in the thought, for, looking at her face, he saw, in spite of
the darkness, that it was pale, and evident terror was on it.

Bogun spurred forward immediately in obedience to the command of the
princess, who, looking after him, said half to herself and half to Pan

"That's a madcap, a Cossack devil."

"It is evident that he is not in his full mind," answered the
lieutenant, contemptuously. "Is that Cossack in the service of your

The old princess threw herself back in the seat.

"What do you mean? Why, that is Bogun, lieutenant-colonel, a famous
hero, a friend of my sons, and adopted by me as a sixth son. Impossible
that you have not heard his name, for all know of him."

This name was, in fact, well known to Pan Yan. From among the names of
various colonels and Cossack atamans this one had come to the top, and
was on every lip on both banks of the Dnieper. Blind minstrels sang
songs of Bogun in market-places and shops, and at evening meetings they
told wonders about the young leader. Who he was, whence he had come,
was known to no man. This much was certain,--the steppes, the Dnieper,
the Cataracts, and Chertomelik, with its labyrinth of narrows, arms,
islands, rocks, ravines, and reeds, had been his cradle. From childhood
he had lived and communed with that wild world.

In time of peace he went with others to fish and hunt, battered through
the windings of the Dnieper, wandered over swamps and reeds with a
crowd of half-naked comrades; then again he spent whole months in
forest depths. His school was in raids to the Wilderness on the herds
of the Tartars, in ambushes, battles, campaigns against Tartar coast
towns, against Bélgorod, Wallachia, or with boats on the Black Sea. He
knew no days but days on his horse, no nights but nights at a steppe

Soon he became the favorite of the entire lower country, a leader of
others, and surpassed all men in daring. He was ready to go with a
hundred horse even to Bagche Sarai, and start up a blaze under the very
eyes of the Khan; he burned Tartar towns and villages, exterminated the
inhabitants, tore captive murzas to pieces with horses, came down like
a tempest, passed by like death. On the sea he fell upon Turkish
galleys with frenzy, swept down upon the centre of Budjak,--rushed into
the lion's mouth, as 'tis said. Some of his expeditions were simple
madness. Men less daring, less fond of danger, perished impaled on
stakes in Stamboul, or rotted at the oar on Turkish galleys; he always
escaped unhurt, and with rich booty. It was said that he had collected
immense treasures, which he had hidden in the reeds of the Dnieper; but
it was also seen more than once how with muddy boots he had stamped
upon cloth of gold, and spread carpets under the hoofs of his
horse,--how, dressed in satin, he had spotted himself with tar, on
purpose to show Cossack contempt for these lordly stuffs.

He never warmed any place long. Caprice was the motive of his deeds. At
times, when he came to Chigirin, Cherkasi, or Pereyasláv, he had
terrible frolics with other Zaporojians; at times he lived like a monk,
spoke to no man, escaped to the steppe. Then again he surrounded
himself with blind minstrels, and listened to their songs and stories
for days at a time, heaping gold on them. Among nobles he knew how to
be a polished cavalier; among Cossacks he was the wildest of Cossacks.
In knightly company he was a knight; among robbers, a robber. Some held
him to be insane; for he was an unbridled, mad spirit. Why he was
living in the world, what he wanted, whither he was tending, whom he
served, he knew not himself. He served the steppes, the whirlwinds,
war, love, his own fancy. This fancy of his distinguished him from all
the other rude leaders, and from the whole robber herd who had only
plunder as an object, and for whom it was the same whether they
plundered Tartars or their own. Bogun took plunder, but preferred war
to pillage; he was in love with peril for its own charm; he gave gold
for songs; he hunted for glory, and cared for no more.

Of all leaders, he alone personified best the Cossack knight; therefore
songs had sought him out as a favorite, and his name was celebrated
throughout the whole Ukraine.

He had recently become the Pereyasláv lieutenant-colonel, but he
exercised the power of colonel; for old Loboda held the baton feebly in
his stiffening hand.

Pan Yan, therefore, knew well who Bogun was, and if he asked the old
princess whether the Cossack was in the service of her sons, he did it
through studied contempt; for he felt in him an enemy, and in spite of
all the reputation of Bogun, his blood boiled up because the Cossack
had begun with him so insolently. He understood, too, that what had
been begun would not end in a trifle. But Skshetuski was as unbending
as an axle, self-confident to excess, yielding before nothing, and
really eager for danger. He was ready even that moment to urge his
horse after Bogun, but he rode near the princess. Besides, the wagon
had already passed the ravine, and lights were gleaming in Rozlogi.

                              CHAPTER IV.

The Kurtsevichi Bulygi were of an ancient princely stock which used the
escutcheon of Kurts, claimed to be from Koryat, but was really from
Rurik. Of the two main lines, one lived in Lithuania, the other in
Volynia, till Prince Vassily, one of the numerous descendants of the
Volynian line, settled beyond the Dnieper. Being poor, he did not wish
to remain among his powerful relatives, and entered the service of
Prince Michael Vishnyevetski, father of the renowned "Yarema."[6]

Having covered himself with glory in that service, he received from the
latter, as a permanent possession, Krasnie Rozlogi, which subsequently,
by reason of its vast number of wolves, was called Volchie Rozlogi; and
there he settled for good. He went over to the Latin rite in 1629, and
married a lady of a distinguished Austrian family of Italian descent.
From that marriage a daughter, Helena, came into the world a year
later, her mother dying at her birth. Prince Vassily, without thinking
of a second marriage, gave himself up altogether to the management of
his land and the rearing of his only daughter. He was a man of great
character and uncommon virtue. Having acquired a moderate fortune
rather rapidly, he remembered at once his eldest brother Constantine,
who, rejected by his powerful family, remained in Volynia, and was
obliged to live on rented land. He brought him, with his wife and five
sons, to Rozlogi, and shared every bit of bread with him.

The two Kurtsevichi lived in this way quietly till the end of 1634,
when Vassily went with King Vladislav to the siege of Smolensk, where
that unfortunate event took place which caused his ruin. In the royal
camp was intercepted a letter written to Sheyin (the Russian
commander), signed with the name of the prince, with the seal of Kurts
added. Such a clear proof of treason on the part of a knight who till
then had enjoyed an unspotted fame, astonished and confounded every
one. It was in vain that Vassily called God to witness that neither the
hand nor the signature on the paper was his; the arms of Kurts on
the seal removed every doubt, no one believed that the seal had been
lost,--which was the prince's explanation,--and finally the unfortunate
prince, sentenced _pro crimine perduelionis_ to the loss of his honor
and his head, was forced to seek safety in flight.

Arriving at Rozlogi in the night, Vassily implored his brother
Constantine, by all that was holy, to care for Helena as his own
daughter, and then he disappeared forever. It was said that he wrote a
letter from Bar to Vishnyevetski, entreating the prince not to take the
bread out of Helena's mouth, and to leave her in peace at Rozlogi under
the care of Constantine; after that there was no more word of him.
There was a report that he had died suddenly, also that he had joined
the imperial army and had perished in battle in Germany. No one,
however, had certain knowledge of him; but he must have died, since he
inquired no further for his daughter. Soon mention of his name ceased,
and he was only remembered when his innocence became evident. A certain
Kuptsevich from Vytebsk confessed on his death-bed that he had written,
at the siege of Smolensk, the letter to Sheyin, and sealed it with the
seal found in camp. In the face of such testimony, pity and confusion
seized all hearts. The sentence was revoked, the name of Prince Vassily
restored to honor, but for Vassily himself the reward for his
sufferings came too late. As to Rozlogi, Yeremi did not think of
confiscating that; for the Vishnyevetskis, knowing Vassily better than
others, were never entirely convinced of his guilt. He might even have
remained under their powerful protection and laughed at the sentence;
and if he fled, it was because he was unable to endure disgrace.

Helena grew up quietly at Rozlogi under the tender care of her uncle,
and only after his death did painful times begin for her. The wife of
Constantine, from a family of dubious origin, was a stern, impulsive,
and energetic woman, whom her husband alone was able to keep within
bounds. After his death she gathered into her iron hand the management
of Rozlogi. The serving-men trembled before her, the house-servants
feared her as fire, and soon she made herself known to the neighbors.
During the third year of her management she attacked the Sivinskis of
Brovarki twice with armed hand, dressed in male attire and on
horseback, leading her servants with hired Cossacks. Once when the
regiments of Prince Yeremi scattered Tartar bands, plundering in the
neighborhood of Semi Mogil, the princess at the head of her people cut
to pieces the remnant that had escaped as far as Rozlogi. She had
settled for good in Rozlogi, and began to consider the place as the
property of herself and her sons. She loved these sons as the wolf
loves her young, but being rude she had no thought of a proper
education for them. A monk of the Greek rite from Kieff taught them to
read and write; here their education ended. It was not far to Lubni,
where Vishnyevetski's court was, at which the young princes might have
acquired polish and trained themselves to public business in the
Chancery, or entered the school of knighthood under his banners. The
princess, however, had reasons of her own for not sending the young men
to Lubni.

Prince Yeremi might remember to whom Rozlogi belonged, and might look
into the guardianship of Helena, or in memory of Vassily might take
that guardianship upon himself; then she would undoubtedly have to move
away from Rozlogi. The princess preferred, therefore, that in Lubni
they should forget there were Kurtsevichi on earth. So the young
princes were reared half wild, more as Cossacks than as nobles. While
still young, they took part in the quarrels of the old princess, in
attacks on the Sivinskis, and in her expeditions against Tartars.
Feeling an innate aversion to books and letters, they fired arrows from
bows for whole days, or took exercise in the management of their fists
or sabres and lariats. They never occupied themselves with the estate,
for their mother would not let that out of her own hands. It was sad to
look at those descendants of a noted stock in whose veins princely
blood was flowing, but whose manners were harsh and rude, and whose
ideas and dull hearts reminded one of the uncultivated steppe.
Meanwhile they were growing up like young oaks; seeing their own
ignorance, they were ashamed to live with the nobility; on the
contrary, the companionship of wild Cossack leaders was more agreeable.
When old enough, therefore, they went with companies to the lower
country, where they were considered as comrades. Sometimes they stayed
half a year in the Saitch; went to "industry" with the Cossacks, took
part in campaigns against the Turks and Tartars, which finally became
their chief and favorite occupation.

Their mother was not opposed to this, for they often brought back
abundant booty. But in one of these campaigns the eldest, Vassily, fell
into pagan hands. His brothers, it is true, with the aid of Bogun and
the Zaporojians, rescued him, but without his eyes. From that time
Vassily was forced to remain at home; as formerly he had been the
wildest of all, so then he became very mild and was sunk in meditation
and religious exercises. The young men continued their warlike
occupations, which at last obtained for them the surname of

A glance at Rozlogi-Siromakhi was enough to enable one to guess what
kind of people lived there. When the envoy and Pan Yan drove through
the gate with their wagons, they saw, not a castle, but rather a roomy
shed built of enormous oak planks, with narrow windows like port-holes.
Dwellings for servants and Cossacks, the stables, the granaries, and
store-rooms were attached directly to the house, composing an irregular
building made up of many parts, some high and some low. It would have
been difficult to consider such a poor and rude exterior as a human
dwelling, but for the lights in the windows. On the square in front of
the house were two well-cranes; nearer the gate was a post with a ring
on the top, to which was chained a bear. A strong gate of the same kind
of planks as the house afforded entrance to the square, which was
surrounded by a ditch and a palisade.

Evidently it was a fortified place, secure against attacks and
incursions. It recalled in every regard the Cossack posts of the
frontier; and though the majority of nobles on the border had no houses
of fashion different from this, still this was more like some species
of robber's nest than any of them. The attendants who came out with
torches to meet the guests were bandits in appearance, rather than
servants. Great dogs on the square tugged at their chains as if to
break away and rush at the newly arrived. From the stable was heard the
neighing of horses. The young Bulygi and their mother began to call to
the servants with commands and curses.

In the midst of this hurly-burly the guests entered the house. But now
Pan Rozvan Ursu, who had almost regretted his promise to pass the night
there when he saw the wildness and wretchedness of the place, was
really astonished at the sight that met his eyes. The inside of the
house answered in no way to the unseemly exterior. First they entered a
broad ante-room, the walls of which were almost entirely covered with
armor, weapons, and skins of wild beasts. Logs of wood were blazing in
two enormous fireplaces, and by their bright light were to be seen, on
one wall, horse-trappings, shining armor, Turkish steel shirts on which
here and there were glittering precious stones; chain-mail with gilt
knobs on the buckles, half armor, breast-pieces, neck-pieces, steel
armor of great value, Polish and Turkish helmets, steel caps with
silver tips. On the opposite wall hung shields, no longer used in that
age; near them Polish lances and Oriental javelins, also edged weapons
in plenty,--from sabres to daggers and yatagans,--the hilts of which
glittered in the firelight with various colors, like stars. In the
corners hung bundles of skins of bears, wolves, foxes, martens, and
ermine, gained by the hunting of the princes. Farther away, near the
walls, dozing on their rings were hawks, falcons, and great golden
eagles; the last, brought from the distant steppes of the East, were
used in the wolf-hunt.

From that antechamber the guests passed to a spacious reception-room,
and here in a chimney with a depression in front burned a brisk fire.
In this room there was still greater luxury than in the antechamber.
The bare planks of the walls were covered with woven stuffs. On the
floor lay splendid Oriental carpets. In the centre of the room stood a
long, cross-legged table, made of common planks, on which were goblets,
gilt or cut from Venetian glass. At the walls were smaller tables,
bureaus, and shelves on which were caskets, bottle-cases inlaid with
bronze, brass candlesticks and clocks, taken in their time by the Turks
from the Venetians and by the Cossacks from the Turks. The whole room
was crowded with superfluous objects, of a use very often unknown to
the possessor. Everywhere was luxury blended with the extreme rudeness
of the steppe. Costly Turkish bureaus, inlaid with bronze, ebony,
mother-of-pearl, were standing at the side of unplaned shelves; simple
wooden chairs at the side of soft sofas. Cushions lying in Eastern
fashion on sofas had covers of brocade or silk stuff, but were rarely
filled with down, oftener with hay or pea-stalks. Costly stuffs and
superfluous objects were the so-called Turkish or Tartar goods, partly
bought for a trifle from the Cossacks, partly obtained in numerous wars
by old Prince Vassily, partly during expeditions with men of the lower
country by the young Bulygi, who chose rather to go with boats to the
Black Sea than to marry or manage the land.

All this roused no surprise in Skshetuski, who was well acquainted with
houses on the border; but the Wallachian boyar was astonished to see in
the midst of all this luxury the Kurtsevichi in leather boots and fur
coats not much better than those worn by the servants. Pan Longin
Podbipienta, accustomed to a different order of things in Lithuania,
was equally astonished.

Meanwhile the young princes received the guests heartily and with great
welcome. Being little trained in society, they did this in so awkward a
manner that the lieutenant was scarcely able to restrain his laughter.
The eldest, Simeon, said,--

"We are glad to see you, and are thankful for your kindness. Our house
is your house; therefore make yourselves at home. We bow to you,
gentlemen, at our lowly thresholds."

And though no humility was observable in the tone of his speech, nor a
recognition that he received persons superior to himself, he bowed in
Cossack fashion to the girdle; and after him bowed the younger
brothers, thinking that politeness required it.

"The forehead to you, gentlemen, the forehead."

Just then the princess, seizing Bogun by the sleeve, led him to another

"Listen, Bogun," said she, hurriedly, "I've no time for long speeches:
I saw you attack that young noble. You are seeking a quarrel with him."

"Mother," answered the Cossack, kissing the old woman's hand, "the
world is wide,--one road to him, another to me. I have not known him,
nor heard of him; but let him not draw near the princess, or as I live
I'll flash my sabre in his eyes."

"Oh! are you mad? Where, Cossack, is your head? What has come upon you?
Do you want to ruin yourself and us? He is a soldier of Prince Yeremi,
a lieutenant, a person of distinction, for he was sent as envoy from
the prince to the Khan. Let a hair fall from his head while under our
roof, do you know what will happen? The prince will turn his eyes to
Rozlogi, will avenge this man, send us to the four winds, take Helena
to Lubni,--and then what? Will you quarrel with Vishnyevetski, or
attack Lubni? Try it if you want to taste an impaling stake, lost
Cossack! Whether he comes near the girl or not, he will leave here as
he came, and there will be peace. But restrain yourself! If not, then
be off to where you came from, for you will bring misfortune to us if
you stay."

The Cossack gnawed his mustache, frowned, but saw that the princess was

"They will go away in the morning, mother, and I will restrain myself;
only let the princess stay in her own rooms."

"Why do you ask this? So that they should think I keep her in
confinement? She will appear, because I wish it. Give no orders to me
in this house, for you are not master here!"

"Be not angry. Princess! Since it cannot be otherwise, I will be as
sweet to them as Turkish tidbits. I'll not grind my teeth nor touch my
head, even though anger were consuming me, though my soul were ready to
groan. Let your will be done."

"Oh, that's your talk! Take your lyre, play, sing; then you will feel
easier. But now meet the guests."

They returned to the reception-room, in which the princes, not knowing
how to entertain the guests, continued to ask them to make themselves
at home, and were bowing to the girdle before them.

Skshetuski looked sharply and haughtily into the eyes of Bogun as soon
as he came, but he saw in them neither quarrel nor defiance. The face
of the youthful leader was lighted up with good-humor, so well
simulated that it might have deceived the most experienced eye. The
lieutenant looked at him carefully, for previously he had been unable
to distinguish his features in the darkness. He saw now a young hero,
straight as a poplar, with splendid brunette face, and rich, dark,
drooping mustache. On that face gladness burst through the pensive mood
of the Ukraine, as the sun through a mist. The leader had a lofty
forehead, on which his dark hair drooped as a mane above his powerful
brow. An aquiline nose, dilated nostrils, and white teeth, shining at
every smile, gave the face a slight expression of rapacity; but on the
whole it was a model of Ukraine beauty, luxuriant, full of character
and defiance. His splendid dress also distinguished this hero of the
steppe from the princes dressed in skins. Bogun wore a tunic of silver
brocade and a scarlet kontush, which color was worn by all the
Pereyasláv Cossacks. His loins were girt with a silken sash from which
depended a rich sabre; but the sabre and the dress paled before the
Turkish dagger at his belt. This dagger was so thickly studded with
jewels that sparks flew from it. Arrayed in this fashion, he would have
been easily taken by any one for a scion of some great house; rather
than a Cossack, especially since his freedom and his lordly manners
betrayed no low descent.

Approaching Pan Longin, he listened to the story of his ancestor
Stoveiko and the cutting off of the three heads. He turned to the
lieutenant, and said with perfect indifference, just as if nothing had
happened between them,--

"You are on your way from the Crimea, I hear."

"From the Crimea," answered the lieutenant, dryly.

"I have been there too, though I did not go to Baktche Serai; but I
think I shall be there if the favorable news we hear comes true."

"Of what news are you speaking?"

"It is said that if the king opens war against the Turks, Prince
Vishnyevetski will visit the Crimea with fire and sword. This report
brings great joy through the whole Ukraine and the lower country, for
if under such a leader we do not frolic in Baktche Serai, then under

"We will frolic, as God is in heaven!" cried the young princes.

The respect with which Bogun spoke of the prince captivated the
lieutenant; so he smiled and said in a more friendly voice,--

"I see that you are not satisfied yet with the expeditions which you
have had with men of the lower country, which however have covered you
with glory."

"Small war, small glory! Konashevich Sahaidachni did not win it on
boats, but in Khotím."

At that moment a door opened, and Vassily, the eldest of the
Kurtsevichi, came slowly into the room, led by Helena. He was a man of
ripe years, pale and emaciated, with a sad ascetic countenance,
recalling the Byzantine pictures of saints. His long hair, prematurely
gray from misfortune and pain, came down to his shoulders, and instead
of his eyes were two red depressions. In his hand he held a bronze
cross, with which he began to bless the room and all present.

"In the name of God the Father, in the name of the Saviour and of the
Holy Most Pure," said he, "if you are apostles and bring good tidings,
be welcome on Christian thresholds!"

"Be indulgent, gentlemen," muttered the princess; "his mind is

But Vassily continued to bless them with the cross, and added: "As it
is said in the 'Dialogues of the Apostles,' 'Whoso sheds his blood for
the faith will be saved; he who dies for gain or booty will be damned.'
Let us pray! Woe to you, brothers, woe to me, since we made war for
booty! God be merciful to us, sinners! God be merciful! And you, men
who have come from afar, what tidings do you bring? Are you apostles?"

He was silent, and appeared to wait for an answer; therefore the
lieutenant replied,--

"We are far from such a lofty mission. We are only soldiers ready to
lay down our lives for the faith."

"Then you will be saved," said the blind man; "but for us the hour of
liberation has not come. Woe to you, brothers! woe to me!"

He uttered the last words almost with a groan, and such deep despair
was depicted on his countenance that the guests were at a loss what to
do. Helena seated him straightway on a chair, and hastening to the
anteroom, returned in a moment with a lute in her hand.

Low sounds were heard in the apartment, and the princess began to sing
a hymn as accompaniment,--

           "By night and by day I call thee, O Lord!
            Relieve thou my torment, and dry my sad tears;
            Be a merciful Father to me in my sins;
                  Oh, hear thou my cry!"

The blind man threw his head back and listened to the words of the
song, which appeared to act as a healing balm, for the pain and terror
disappeared by degrees from his face. At last his head fell upon his
bosom, and he remained as if half asleep and half benumbed.

"If the singing is continued, he will become altogether pacified. You
see, gentlemen, his insanity consists in this, that he is always
waiting for apostles; and if visitors appear, he comes out immediately
to ask if they are apostles."

Helena continued:--

           "Show me the way, Lord above Lords!
            I'm like one astray in a waste without end,
            Or a ship in the waves of a measureless sea,
                  Lost and alone."

Her sweet voice grew louder and louder. With the lute in her hands, and
eyes raised to heaven, she was so beautiful that the lieutenant could
not take his eyes from her. He looked, was lost in her, and forgot the
world. He was roused from his ecstasy only by the words of the old

"That's enough! He will not wake soon. But now I request you to supper,

"We beg you to our bread and salt," said the young princes after their

Pan Rozvan, as a man of polished manners, gave his arm to the lady of
the house. Seeing this, Skshetuski hurried to the Princess Helena. His
heart grew soft within him when he felt her hand on his arm, till fire
flashed in his eyes, and he said,--

"The angels in heaven do not sing more beautifully than you."

"It is a sin for you to compare my singing to that of angels," answered

"I don't know whether I sin or not; but one thing is sure,--I would
give my eyes to hear your singing till death. But what do I say? If
blind, I could have no sight of you, which would be the same as torture
beyond endurance."

"Don't say that, for you will leave here to-morrow, and to-morrow
forget me."

"That will not be. My love is such that to the end of life I can love
no one else."

The face of the princess grew scarlet; her breast began to heave. She
wished to answer, but her lips merely trembled. Then Pan Yan

"But you will forget me in the presence of that handsome Cossack, who
will accompany your singing on a balalaika."

"Never, never!" whispered the maiden. "But beware of him; he is a
terrible man."

"What is one Cossack to me? Even if the whole Saitch were behind him, I
should dare everything for your sake. You are for me like a jewel
without price,--you are my world. But tell me, have you the same
feeling for me?"

A low "Yes" sounded like music of paradise in the ears of Pan Yan, and
that moment it seemed to him as if ten hearts, at least, were beating
in his breast; in his eyes all things grew bright, as if a ray of
sunlight had come to the world; he felt an unknown power within
himself, as if he had wings on his shoulders.

During supper Bogun's face, which was greatly changed and pale, glared
several times. The lieutenant, however, possessing the affection of
Helena, cared not for his rival. "The devil take him!" thought he. "Let
him not get in my way; if he does, I'll rub him out."

But his mind was not on Bogun. He felt Helena sitting so near that he
almost touched her shoulder with his own; he saw the blush which never
left her face, from which warmth went forth; he saw her swelling bosom,
and her eyes, now drooping and covered with their lids, now flashing
like a pair of stars,--for Helena, though cowed by the old princess and
living in orphanhood, sadness, and fear, was still of the Ukraine and
hot-blooded. The moment a warm ray of love fell on her she bloomed like
a flower, and was roused at once to new and unknown life. Happiness
with courage gleamed in her eyes, and those impulses struggling with
her maiden timidity painted her face with the beautiful colors of the

Pan Yan was almost beside himself. He drank deeply, but the mead had no
effect on him; he was already drunk from love. He saw no one at the
table save her who sat at his side. He saw not how Bogun grew paler
each moment, and, touching the hilt of his dagger, gave no ear to Pan
Longin, who for the third time told of his ancestor Stoveiko, nor to
Kurtsevich, who told about his expedition for "Turkish goods."

All drank except Bogun; and the best example was given by the old
princess, who raised a goblet, now to the health of her guests, now to
the health of Vishnyevetski, now to the health of the hospodar Lupul.
There was talk, too, of blind Vassily and his former knightly deeds, of
his unlucky campaign and his present insanity, which Simeon, the
eldest, explained as follows:--

"Just think! the smallest bit of anything in the eye prevents sight;
why should not great drops of pitch reaching the brain cause madness?"

"Oh, it is a very delicate organ," said Pan Longin.

At this moment the old princess noticed the changed face of Bogun.

"What is the matter, my falcon?"

"My soul is suffering, mother," said he, gloomily; "but a Cossack word
is not smoke. I will endure."

"Hold out, my son; there will be a feast."

Supper came to an end, but mead was poured into the goblets
unsparingly. Cossacks called to the dance came, therefore, with greater
readiness. The balalaikas and drums, to which the drowsy attendants
were to dance, began to sound. Later on, the young princes dropped into
the prisyadka. The old princess, putting her hands on her sides, began
to keep time with her foot and hum. Pan Yan, seeing this, took Helena
to the dance. When he embraced her with his arm it seemed to him that
he was drawing part of heaven toward his breast. In the whirl of the
dance her long tresses swept around his neck, as if she wished to bind
him to herself forever. He did not restrain himself; and when he saw
that no one was looking, he bent and kissed her lips with all his

Late at night, when alone with Longin in their sleeping-room, the
lieutenant, instead of going to rest, sat on the wooden bedstead and
began: "You will go to Lubni tomorrow with another man."

Podbipienta, who had just finished his prayers, opened wide his eyes
and asked: "How is that? Are you going to stay here?"

"I shall not stay, but my heart will remain, and only the _dulcis
recordatio_ will go with me. You see in me a great change, since from
tender desires I am scarcely able to listen to a thing."

"Then you have fallen in love with the princess?"

"Nothing else, as true as I am alive before you. Sleep flees from my
lids, and I want nothing but sighs, from which I am ready to vanish
into vapor. I tell you this, because, having a tender heart famishing
for love, you will easily understand my torture."

Pan Longin began to sigh, in token that he understood the torments of
love, and after a time he inquired mournfully: "Maybe you have also
made a vow of celibacy?"

"Your inquiry is pointless, for if all made such vows the _genus
humanum_ would soon be at an end."

The entrance of a servant interrupted further conversation. It was an
old Tartar, with quick black eyes and a face as wrinkled as a dried
apple. After he came in he cast a significant look at Pan Yan and

"Don't you wish for something? Perhaps a cup of mead before going to

"No, 'tis not necessary."

The Tartar approached Skshetuski and muttered: "I have a word from the
young princess for you."

"Then be my gift-giver! You may speak before this knight, for he knows

The Tartar took a ribbon from his sleeve, saying, "The lady has sent
you this scarf, with a message that she loves you with her whole soul."

The lieutenant seized the scarf, kissed it with ecstasy, and pressed it
to his bosom. After he had become calmer, he asked: "What did the
princess tell you to say?"

"That she loved you with her whole soul."

"Here is a thaler for your message. She said, then, that she loved me?"


"Here is another thaler for you. May God bless her, for she is most
dear to me. Tell her, too--But wait, I'll write to her. Bring me ink,
pen, and paper."

"What?" asked the Tartar.

"Ink, pen, and paper."

"We have none in the house. In the time of Prince Vassily we had, and
afterward when the young princes learned to write from the monk; but
that is a long time ago."

Pan Yan clasped his hands. "Haven't you ink and pen?" asked he of

The Lithuanian opened his hands and raised his eyes to heaven.

"Well, plague take it!" said the lieutenant; "what can I do?"

The Tartar had squatted before the fire. "What is the use of writing?"
said he, gathering up the coals. "The young lady has gone to sleep. And
what you would write to her now, you can tell her in the morning."

"In that case I need no ink. You are a faithful servant to the young
lady, as I see. Here is a third thaler for you. Are you long in her

"It is now fourteen years since Prince Vassily took me captive, and
since that time I have served faithfully. The night he went away
through losing his name he left his little child to Constantine, and
said to me: 'You will not desert the little girl, and you will be as
careful of her as the eye in your head."

"Are you doing what he told you?"

"Yes, I am; I will care for her."

"Tell me what you see. How is she living here?"

"They have evil designs against her, for they wish to give her to
Bogun, and he is a cursed dog."

"Oh, nothing will come of that! A man will be found to take her part."

"Yes!" said the old man, pushing the glowing coals. "They want to give
her to Bogun, to take and bear her away as a wolf bears a lamb, and
leave them in Rozlogi; for Rozlogi is not theirs, but hers from her
father, Prince Vassily. Bogun is willing to do this, for he has more
gold and silver in the reeds than there is sand in Rozlogi; but she
holds him in hatred from the time he brained a man before her face.
Blood has fallen between them, and hatred has sprung up. God is one!"

The lieutenant was unable to sleep that night. He paced the apartment,
gazed at the moon, and had many thoughts on his mind. He penetrated the
game of the Bulygi. If a nobleman of the vicinity were to marry the
princess, he would remember Rozlogi, and justly, for it belonged to
her; and he might demand also an account of the guardianship. Therefore
the Bulygi, already turned Cossacks, decided to give the young woman to
a Cossack. While thinking of this, Skshetuski clinched his fists and
sought the sword at his side. He resolved to baffle these plots, and
felt that he had the power to do so. Besides, the guardianship of
Helena belonged to Prince Yeremi,--first, because Rozlogi was given
by the Vishnyevetskis to old Vassily; secondly, because Vassily
himself wrote a letter to the prince from Bar, requesting this
guardianship. The pressure of public business alone--wars and great
undertakings--could have prevented the prince from looking into the
guardianship. But it would be sufficient to remind him with a word, and
he would have justice done.

The gray of dawn was appearing when Skshetuski threw himself on the
bed. He slept soundly, and in the morning woke with a finished plan. He
and Pan Longin dressed in haste, all the more since the wagons were
ready and the soldiers on horseback waiting to start. He breakfasted in
the reception-room with the young princes and their mother, but Bogun
was not there; it was unknown whether he was sleeping yet or had gone.

After he had refreshed himself Skshetuski said: "Worthy princess! time
flies, and we must be on horseback in a moment; but before we thank you
with grateful hearts for your entertainment, I have an important affair
on which I should like to say a few words to you and your sons apart."

Astonishment was visible on the face of the princess. She looked at her
sons, at the envoy, and Pan Longin, as if trying to divine from their
faces what the question might be; and with a certain alarm in her voice
she said: "I am at your service."

The envoy wished to retire, but she did not permit him. They went at
once to the room which was hung with armor and weapons. The young
princes took their places in a row behind their mother, who, standing
opposite Skshetuski, asked: "Of what affair do you wish to speak, sir?"

The lieutenant fastened a quick and indeed severe glance on her, and
said: "Pardon me, Princess, and you, young Princes, that I act contrary
to custom, and instead of speaking through ambassadors of distinction,
I am the advocate in my own cause. But it cannot be otherwise; and
since no man can battle with necessity, I present my humble request to
you as guardians to be pleased to give me Princess Helena as wife."

If at that moment of the winter season lightning had descended in front
of the house at Rozlogi, it would have caused less astonishment to the
princess and her sons than those words of the lieutenant. For a time
they looked with amazement on the speaker, who stood before them erect,
calm, and wonderfully proud, as if he intended not to ask, but to
command; and they could not find a word of answer, but instead, the
princess began to ask,--

"How is this? Are you speaking of Helena?"

"I am, Princess, and you hear my fixed resolve."

A moment of silence followed.

"I am waiting for your answer, Princess."

"Forgive me, sir," said she, coughing; and her voice became dry and
sharp. "The proposal of such a knight is no small honor for us; but
nothing can come of it, since I have already promised Helena to

"But be pleased to consider, as a careful guardian, whether that
promise was not made against the will of the princess, and if I am not
better than he to whom you have promised her."

"Well, sir, it is for me to judge who is better. You may be the best of
men; but that is nothing to us, for we do not know you."

The lieutenant straightened himself still more proudly, and his
glances, though cold, became sharp as knives.

"But I know you, you traitors!" he burst forth. "You wish to give your
relative to a peasant, on condition that he leaves you property
unjustly acquired."

"You are a traitor yourself!" shouted the princess. "Is this your
return for hospitality? Is this the gratitude you cherish in your
heart? Oh, serpent! What kind of person are you? Whence have you come?"

The fingers of the young princes began to quiver, and they looked along
the walls for weapons; but the lieutenant cried out,--

"Wretches! you have seized the property of an orphan, but to no
purpose. In a day from now Vishnyevetski will know of this."

At these words the princess rushed to the end of the room, and seizing
a dart, went up to the lieutenant. The young men also, having seized
each what he could lay hands on,--one a sabre, another a knife,--stood
in a half-circle near him, panting like a pack of mad wolves.

"You will go to the prince, will you?" shouted the old woman; "and are
you sure that you will go out of here alive, and that this is not your
last hour?"

Skshetuski crossed his arms on his breast, and did not wink an eye.

"I am on my way from the Crimea," said he, "as an envoy of Prince
Yeremi. Let a single drop of my blood fall here, and in three days the
ashes of this house will have vanished, and you will rot in the
dungeons of Lubni. Is there power in the world to save you? Do not
threaten, for I am not afraid of you."

"We may perish, but you will perish first."

"Then strike! Here is my breast."

The princes, with their mother near them, held weapons pointed at the
breast of the lieutenant; but it seemed as if invisible fetters held
their hands. Panting, and gnashing their teeth, they struggled in vain
rage, but none of them struck a blow. The terrible name of
Vishnyevetski deprived them of strength. The lieutenant was master of
the position.

The weak rage of the princess was poured out in a mere torrent of
abuse: "Trickster! beggar! you want princely blood. But in vain; we
will give her to any one, but not to you. The prince cannot make us do

Skshetuski answered: "This is no time for me to speak of my nobility. I
think, however, that your rank might well bear the sword and shield
behind mine. But for that matter, since a peasant was good in your
eyes, I am better. As to my fortune, that too may be compared with
yours; and since you say that you will not give me Helena, then listen
to what I tell you: I will leave you in Rozlogi, and ask no account of

"Do not give that which is not yours."

"I give nothing but my promise for the future. I give it, and
strengthen it with my knightly word. Now choose, either to render
account to the prince of your guardianship and leave Rozlogi, or give
me Helena and you may keep the land."

The dart dropped slowly from the hand of the princess, and after a
moment fell on the floor with a rattle.

"Choose," repeated Skshetuski,--"either peace or war!"

"It is lucky," said she, more mildly, "that Bogun has gone out with the
falcon, not wishing to look at you; for he had suspicions even
yesterday. If he were here, we should not get on without bloodshed."

"I do not wear a sword, madam, to have my belt cut off."

"But think, is it polite on the part of such a knight as you, after
entering a house by invitation, to force people in this way, and take a
maiden by assault, as if from Turkish slavery?"

"It is right, since she was to be sold against her will to a peasant."

"Don't say that of Bogun, for though of unknown parentage, he is a
famous warrior and a splendid knight; known to us from childhood, he is
like a relative in the house. To take the maiden from him is the same
as to stab him with a knife."

"Well, Princess, it is time for me to go. Pardon me, then, if I ask you
once more to make your choice."

The princess turned to her sons. "Well, my sons, what do you say to
such an humble request from this cavalier?"

The young men looked down, nudged each other with their elbows, and
were silent. At last Simeon muttered: "If you tell us, mother, to slay
him, we will slay; if you say give the girl, we will give her."

"To give is bad, and to slay is bad." Then turning to Skshetuski, she
said: "You have pushed us to the wall so closely that there is no
escape. Bogun is a madman, ready for anything. Who will save us from
his vengeance? He will perish himself through the prince, but he will
destroy us first. What are we to do?"

"That is your affair."

The princess was silent for a time, then said: "Listen to me. All this
must remain a secret. We will send Bogun to Pereyasláv, and will go
ourselves with Helena to Lubni, and you will ask the prince to send us
a guard at Rozlogi. Bogun has a hundred and fifty Cossacks in the
neighborhood; part of them are here. You cannot take Helena
immediately, for he would rescue her. It cannot be arranged otherwise.
Go your way, therefore; tell the secret to no man, and wait for us."

"But won't you betray me?"

"If we only could; but we cannot, as you see yourself. Give your word
that you will keep the secret."

"If I give it, will you give the girl?"

"Yes, for we are unable not to give her, though we are sorry for

"Pshaw!" said the lieutenant, turning to the princes, "There are four
of you, like oaks, and afraid of one Cossack, and you wish to overcome
him by treason! Though I am obliged to thank you, still I say that it
is not the thing for men of honor."

"Do not interfere in this," cried the princess. "It is not your affair.
What can we do? How many soldiers have you against his hundred and
fifty Cossacks? Will you protect us? Will you protect Helena herself,
whom he is ready to bear away by force? This is not your affair. Go
your way to Lubni. How we must act is for us to judge, if we only bring
Helena to you."

"Do what you like; but one thing I repeat: If any wrong comes to
Helena, woe to you!"

"Do not treat us in this fashion, you might drive us to desperation."

"You wished to bend her to your will, and now, when selling her for
Rozlogi, it has never entered your heads to ask whether my person is
pleasing to her."

"We are going to ask her in your presence," said the princess,
suppressing the rage which began to seethe up again in her breast, for
she felt clearly the contempt in these words of Skshetuski.

Simeon went for Helena, and soon entered the room with her. Amidst the
rage and threats which still seemed to quiver in the air like the
echoes of a tempest that has passed, amidst those frowning brows, angry
looks, and threatening scowls, her beautiful face shone like the sun
after a storm.

"Well, young lady!" said the princess sullenly, pointing to Pan Yan;
"if you choose this man, he is your future husband."

Helena grew pale, and with a sudden cry covered her eyes with her two
hands; then suddenly stretched them toward Skshetuski.

"Is this true?" whispered she, in transport.

An hour later the retinue of the envoy and the lieutenant moved slowly
along the forest road toward Lubni. Skshetuski with Pan Longin
Podbipienta rode in front; after them came the wagons of the envoy in a
long line. The lieutenant was completely sunk in thought and longing,
when suddenly he was roused from his pensiveness by the words of the

                "I grieve, I grieve, my heart is sore."

In the depth of the forest appeared Bogun on a narrow path trodden out
by the peasants. His horse was covered with foam and mud. Apparently
the Cossack, according to habit, had gone out to the steppes and the
forest to dissipate with the wind, destroy, and forget in the distance
that which over-pained his heart. He was returning then to Rozlogi.

Looking on that splendid, genuine knightly form, which only flashed up
before him and vanished, Skshetuski murmured involuntarily,--

"It is lucky in every case that he brained a man in her presence."

All at once an undefined sorrow pressed his heart. He was sorry as it
were for Bogun, but still more sorry that having bound himself by word
to the princess, he was unable that moment to urge his horse after him
and say,--

"We love the same woman; there is one of us, therefore, who cannot live
in the world. Draw your sword, Cossack!"

                               CHAPTER V.

When he arrived at Lubni, Pan Yan did not find the prince, who had gone
to a christening at the house of an old attendant of his, Pan
Sufchinski, at Senchy, taking with him the princess, two young
princesses Zbaraskie, and many persons of the castle. Word was sent to
Senchy of the lieutenant's return from the Crimea, and of the arrival
of the envoy.

Meanwhile Skshetuski's acquaintances and comrades greeted him joyfully
after his long journey; and especially Pan Volodyovski, who had been
the most intimate of all since their last duel. This cavalier was noted
for being always in love. After he had convinced himself of the
insincerity of Anusia Borzobogata, he turned his sensitive heart to
Angela Lenska, one of the attendants of the princess; and when she, a
month before, became engaged to Pan Stanishevski, Volodyovski, to
console himself, began to sigh after Anna, the eldest princess
Zbaraska, niece of Prince Yeremi.

But he understood himself that he had raised his eyes so high that he
could not strengthen himself with the least hope, especially since Pan
Bodzynski and Pan Lyassota came to make proposals for the princess in
the name of Pan Pshiyemski, son of the voevoda of Lenchitsk. The
unfortunate Volodyovski therefore told his new troubles to the
lieutenant, initiating him into all the affairs and secrets of the
castle, to which he listened with half an ear, since his mind and heart
were otherwise occupied. Had it not been for that mental disquiet which
always attends even mutual love, Skshetuski would have felt himself
happy on returning, after a long absence, to Lubni, where he was
surrounded by friendly faces and that bustle of military life to which
he had long grown accustomed. Though Lubni, as a lordly residence, was
equal in grandeur to any of the seats of the "kinglets," still it was
different from them in this,--that its life was stern, really of the
camp. A visitor unacquainted with its usages and order, and coming,
even in time of profoundest peace, might suppose that some military
expedition was on foot. The soldier there was above the courtier, iron
above gold, the trumpet-call louder than sounds of feasts and
amusements. Exemplary order reigned in every part, and a discipline
elsewhere unknown. On all sides were throngs of knights of various
regiments, armored cavalry dragoons, Cossacks, Tartars, and
Wallachians, in which served not only the whole Trans-Dnieper, but
volunteers, nobles from every part of the Commonwealth. Whoever wished
training in a real school of knighthood set out for Lubni; therefore
neither the Mazur, the Lithuanian, the man of Little Poland, nor even
the Prussian, was absent from the side of the Russian. Infantry and
artillery, or the so-called "fire people," were composed, for the
greater part, of picked Germans engaged for high wages. Russians served
principally in the dragoons, Lithuanians in the Tartar regiments; the
men of Little Poland rallied most willingly to the armored regiments.
The prince did not allow his men to live in idleness; hence there was
ceaseless movement in the camp. Some regiments were marching out
to relieve the stanitsas and outposts, others were entering the
capital,--day after day drilling and man[oe]uvres. At times, even when
there was no trouble from Tartars, the prince undertook distant
expeditions into the wild steppes and wildernesses to accustom the
soldiers to campaigning, to push forward where no man had gone before,
and to spread the glory of his name. So the past spring he had
descended the left bank of the Dnieper to Kudák, where Pan Grodzitski,
in command of the garrison, received him as a monarch; then he advanced
farther beyond the Cataracts to Hortitsa; and at Kuchkasy he gave
orders to raise a great mound of stones as a memorial and a sign that
no other lord had gone so far along that shore.

Pan Boguslav Mashkevich--a good soldier, though young, and also a
learned man, who described that expedition as well as various campaigns
of the prince--told Skshetuski marvels concerning it, which were
confirmed at once by Volodyovski, for he had taken part in the
expedition. They had seen the Cataracts and wondered at them,
especially at the terrible Nenasytets, which devoured every year a
number of people, like Scylla and Charybdis of old. Then they set out
to the east along the parched steppes, where cavalry were unable to
advance on the burning ground and they had to cover the horses' hoofs
with skins. Multitudes of reptiles and vipers were met with,--snakes
ten ells long and thick as a man's arm. On some oaks standing apart
they inscribed, in eternal memory of the expedition, the arms of the
prince. Finally, they entered a steppe so wild that in it no trace of
man was found.

"I thought," said the learned Pan Mashkevich, "that at last we should
have to go to Hades, like Ulysses."

To this Volodyovski added: "The men of Zamoiski's vanguard swore that
they saw those boundaries on which the circle of the earth rests."

The lieutenant told his companions about the Crimea, where he had spent
almost half a year in waiting for the answer of the Khan; he told of
the towns there, of present and remote times, of Tartars and their
military power, and finally of their terror at reports of a general
expedition to the Crimea, in which all the forces of the Commonwealth
were to engage.

Conversing in this way every evening, they waited the return of the
prince. The lieutenant presented to his most intimate companions Pan
Longin Podbipienta, who as a man of mild manners gained their hearts at
once, and by exhibiting his superhuman strength in exercises with the
sword acquired universal respect. He did not fail to relate to each one
the story of his ancestor Stoveiko and the three severed heads; but he
said nothing of his vow, not wishing to expose himself to ridicule. He
pleased Volodyovski, especially by reason of the sensitive hearts
of both. After a few days they went out together to sigh on the
ramparts,--one for a star which shone above his reach, that is, for
Princess Anna; the other for an unknown, from whom he was separated by
the three heads of his vow.

Volodyovski tried to entice Longin into the dragoons; but the
Lithuanian decided at last to join the armored regiment, so as to serve
with Skshetuski, whom, as he learned in Lubni, to his delight, all
esteemed as a knight of the first degree, and one of the best officers
in the service of the prince. And precisely in Skshetuski's regiment
there was a vacancy in prospect. Pan Zakshevski, nicknamed "Miserere
Mei," had been ill for two weeks beyond hope of recovery, since all his
wounds had opened from dampness. To the love-cares of Skshetuski was
now added sorrow for the impending loss of his old companion and tried
friend. He did not go a step, therefore, from Zakshevski's pillow for
several hours each day, comforting him as best he could, and
strengthening him with the hope that they would still have many a
campaign together.

But the old man needed no consolation; he was closing life joyfully on
the hard bed of the soldier, covered with a horse-skin. With a smile
almost childlike, he gazed on the crucifix above his bed, and answered

"Miserere mei! Lieutenant, I am on my way to the heavenly garrison. My
body has so many holes from wounds that I fear Saint Peter, who is the
steward of the Lord and must look after order in heaven, won't let me
in with such a rent body; but I'll say: 'Saint Peter, my dear, I
implore you, by the ear of Malchus, make no opposition, for it was
pagans who injured my mortal coil,' miserere mei. And if Saint Michael
shall have any campaigning against the powers of hell, old Zakshevski
will be useful yet."

The lieutenant, though he had looked so often upon death as a soldier
and inflicted it himself, could not restrain his tears while listening
to the old man, whose departure was like a quiet sunset.

At last, one morning the bells tolled in all the churches of Lubni,
announcing the death of Pan Zakshevski. That same day the prince came
from Senchy, and with him Bodzynski and Lyassota, with the whole court
and many nobles in a long train of carriages, for the company at Pan
Sufchinski's was very large. The prince arranged a great funeral,
wishing to honor the services of the deceased and to show how he loved
brave men. All the regiments at Lubni took part in the procession; from
the ramparts guns and cannon were fired; the cavalry marched from the
castle to the parish church in battle-array, but with furled banners;
after them the infantry, with muskets reversed. The prince himself,
dressed in mourning, rode behind the hearse in a gilded carriage, drawn
by eight milk-white horses with purple-stained manes and tails, and
tufts of black ostrich feathers on their heads. In front of the
carriage marched a detachment of janissaries, the body-guard of the
prince. Behind the carriage, on splendid steeds, rode pages in Spanish
costume; farther on, high officials of the castle, attendants, lackeys;
finally, haiduks and guards.

The cortége stopped before the church door, where the priest,
Yaskolski, made a speech beginning with the words: "Whither art thou
hastening, O Zakshevski!" Then speeches were made by some of his
comrades, and among them by Skshetuski, as the superior and friend of
the deceased. Then his body was borne into the church, and there was
heard the voice of the most eloquent of the eloquent, the Jesuit priest
Mukhovetski, who spoke with such loftiness and grace that the prince
himself wept; for he was a man of rare tenderness of heart and a real
father to the soldiers. He maintained an iron discipline, but was
unequalled in liberality and kindly treatment of people, and in the
care with which he surrounded not only them, but their children and
wives. Terrible and pitiless to rebels, he was a real benefactor, not
only to the nobility, but to all his people. When the locusts destroyed
the crops in 1646 he remitted the rent for a year, and ordered grain to
be given from the granaries to his subjects; and after the fire in
Khorol he supported all the townspeople at his own expense for two
months. Tenants and managers of crown estates trembled lest accounts of
any of the abuses or wrongs inflicted by them on the people should come
to the ears of the prince. His guardianship over orphans was so good
that these orphans were called, in the country beyond the Dnieper, "the
prince's children." Princess Griselda herself watched over this, aided
by Father Mukhovetski.

Order reigned in all the lands of the prince, with plenty, justice,
peace, but also terror,--for in case of the slightest opposition the
prince knew no bounds to his anger and to the punishments he inflicted;
to such a degree was magnanimity joined with severity in his nature.
But in those times and in those regions that severity alone permitted
life and the labor of men to thrive and continue. Thanks to it alone,
towns and villages rose, the agriculturist took the place of the
highwayman, the merchant sold his wares in peace, bells called the
devout in safety to prayer, the enemy dared not cross the boundaries,
crowds of thieves perished, empaled on stakes, or were changed into
regular soldiers, and the wilderness bloomed.

A wild country and its wild inhabitants needed such a hand; for to the
country beyond the Dnieper went the most restless elements of the
Ukraine. Settlers came in, allured by the land and the fatness of the
soil; runaway peasants from all lands of the Commonwealth; criminals
escaping from prison,--in one word, as Livy said, "Pastorum
convenarumque plebs transfuga ex suis populis." Only a lion at whose
roar everything trembled could hold them in check, make them peaceable
inhabitants, and force them into the bonds of settled life.

Pan Longin Podbipienta, seeing the prince for the first time at the
funeral, could not believe his own eyes. Having heard so much of his
glory, he imagined that he must be a sort of giant, a head above the
race of common men; while the prince was really of small stature, and
rather delicate. He was still young,--in the thirty-sixth year of his
age,--but on his countenance military toil was evident; and as he lived
in Lubni like a real king, so did he share in time of campaign and
expedition the hardships of the common soldier. He ate black bread,
slept on the ground in a blanket; and since the greater part of his
life was spent in labors of the camp, the years left their marks on his
face. But that countenance revealed at the first glance an
extraordinary man. There was depicted on it an iron, unbending will,
and a majesty before which all involuntarily inclined. It was evident
that this man knew his own power and greatness; and if on the morrow a
crown were placed on his head, he would not feel astonished or
oppressed by its weight. He had large eyes, calm, and indeed mild;
still, thunders seemed to slumber in them, and you felt that woe would
follow him who should rouse them. No man could endure the calm light of
that look; and ambassadors trained at courts on appearing before Yeremi
were seen to grow confused and unable to begin their discourse. He was,
moreover, in his domain beyond the Dnieper a genuine king. There went
out from his chancery privileges and grants headed, "We, by the grace
of God Prince and Lord," etc. There were few magnates whom he
considered equal to himself. Princes of the blood of ancient rulers
were his stewards. Such in his day was the father of Helena, Vassily
Bulyga Kurtsevich, who counted his descent, as already mentioned, from
Koryat; but really he was descended from Rurik.

There was something in Prince Yeremi which, in spite of his native
kindness, kept men at a distance. Loving soldiers, he was familiar with
them; with him no one dared to be familiar; and still, if he should ask
mounted knights to spring over the precipices of the Dnieper, they
would do so without stopping to think. From his Wallachian mother he
inherited a clearness of complexion like the color of iron at a white
glow, from which heat radiates, and hair black as a raven's wing,
which, shaven closely at the sides of his head, was cut square above
the brows, covering half his forehead. He wore the Polish costume, and
was not over-careful of his dress. Only on great occasions did he wear
costly apparel; but then he was all glitter from gold and jewels.

Pan Longin, a few days later, was present at such a solemnity, when the
prince gave audience to Rozvan Ursu. The reception of ambassadors
always took place in a Heavenly Hall, so called because on its ceiling
was depicted the firmament of heaven with the stars, by the pencil of
Helm of Dantzig. On that occasion the prince sat under a canopy of
velvet and ermine on an elevated seat like a throne, the footstool of
which was bound with a gilded circle. Behind the prince stood the
priest Mukhovetski, his secretary, the steward prince Voronich, and Pan
Boguslav Mashkevich; farther on, pages and twelve body-guards, in
Spanish costume, bearing halberts. The depths of the hall were filled
with knights in splendid dress and uniforms. Pan Rozvan asked, in the
name of the hospodar, that the prince by his influence and the terror
of his name should cause the Khan to prohibit the Budjak Tartars from
attacking Wallachia, where they caused fearful losses and devastation
every year. The prince answered in elegant Latin that the Budjak
Tartars were not over-obedient to the Khan himself; still, since he
expected to receive an envoy of the Khan during the coming April, he
would remind the Khan through him of the injury done the Wallachians.

Pan Yan had already given a report of his embassy and his journey,
together with all he had heard of Hmelnitski and his flight to the
Saitch. The prince decided to despatch a few regiments to Kudák, but
did not attach great importance to this affair. Since nothing appeared
therefore to threaten the peace and power of his domain beyond the
Dnieper, festivals and amusements were begun in Lubni by reason of the
presence of the envoy Rozvan, also because Bodzynski and Lyassota on
the part of the son of the voevoda Pshiyemski had made a formal
proposal for the hand of Anna, the elder princess, and had received a
favorable answer from the prince and the Princess Griselda.

Volodyovski suffered not a little from this; and when Skshetuski tried
to pour consolation into his heart, he answered,--

"It is easy for you to talk; you have but to wish and Anusia
Borzobogata will not avoid you. She spoke of you very handsomely all
the time. I thought at first that she was rousing the jealousy of
Bykhovets; but I see that she was ready to put him on a hook, feeling
living sentiment in her heart for you alone."

"Oh! what is Anusia to me? Return to her; I have no objection. But
forget Princess Anna, since thinking of her is like wishing to cover
the ph[oe]nix on its nest with your cap."

"I know she is a ph[oe]nix, and therefore I shall surely die of grief
for her."

"You'll live and straightway be in love again; but don't fall in love
with Princess Barbara, for another son of a voevoda will snatch her
away from under your nose."

"Is the heart a servant at command, or can the eyes be stopped from
looking at such a wonderful being as Princess Barbara, the sight of
whom would be enough to move wild beasts themselves?"

"Well, devil, here is an overcoat for you!" cried Pan Yan. "I see you
will console yourself without my help. But I repeat. Go back to Anusia;
you will meet with no hindrance from me."

But Anusia was not thinking, in fact, of Volodyovski. Instead of that,
her curiosity was roused. She was angry at the indifference of
Skshetuski, who on his return from so long an absence did not even look
at her. In the evening, when the prince with his chief officers and
courtiers came to the drawing-room of the princess to converse, Anusia,
looking from behind the shoulder of her mistress (for the princess was
tall and Anusia was short), peered with her black eyes into the
lieutenant's face, wishing to get at the solution of this riddle. But
the eyes of Skshetuski, like his mind, were elsewhere; and when his
glance fell on the maiden it was as preoccupied and glassy as if he had
never looked upon her, of whom he had once sung,--

           "The Tartar seizes people captive;
            Thou seizest captive hearts!"

"What has happened to him?" asked of herself the petted favorite of the
whole castle; and stamping with her little foot, she determined to
investigate the matter. She didn't love Skshetuski; but accustomed to
homage, she was unable to endure neglect, and was ready from very spite
to fall in love with the insolent fellow.

Once, when running with skeins of thread for the princess, she met Pan
Yan coming out of the bedchamber of the prince. She ran against him
like a storm, striking him full in the breast; then springing back, she

"Oh, how you have frightened me! Good-day, sir!"

"Good-day. Am I such a monster as to terrify you?"

She stood with downcast eyes, began to twist the end of her tresses,
and standing first on one foot and then on the other, as if confused,
she answered with a smile: "Oh, no! not at all,--sure as I love my
mother!" She looked quickly at the lieutenant and dropped her eyes a
second time. "Are you angry with me?" asked she.

"I? But could Panna Anna care for my anger?"

"Well, to tell the truth, no. Maybe you think that I would fall to
crying at once? Pan Bykhovets is more polite."

"If that is true, there is nothing for me but to leave the field to Pan
Bykhovets and vanish from the eyes of Panna Anna."

"Do I prevent you?" Having said this, Anusia blocked the way before
him. "You have just returned from the Crimea?" asked she.

"From the Crimea."

"And what have you brought back from the Crimea?"

"I've brought back Pan Podbipienta. You have seen him, I think? A very
amiable and excellent cavalier."

"It is sure he is more amiable than you. And why has he come?"

"So there might be some one on whom Panna Anna might try her power. But
I advise great care, for I know a secret which makes this cavalier
invincible, and Panna Anna can do nothing with him."

"Why is he invincible?"

"He cannot marry."

"What do I care for that? Why can he not marry?"

Skshetuski bent to the ear of the young woman, but said very clearly
and emphatically: "He has made a vow of celibacy."

"Oh, you stupid!" cried Anusia, quickly; and at the same moment she
shot away like a frightened bird.

That evening, however, she looked for the first time carefully at Pan
Longin. The guests were numerous, for the prince gave a farewell dinner
to Pan Bodzynski. Our Lithuanian, dressed with care in a white satin
tunic and a dark blue velvet coat, had a grand appearance, especially
since a light curved sabre hung at his side in a gilded sheath, instead
of his death-dealing long sword.

The eyes of Anusia shot their darts at Pan Longin, somewhat on purpose
to spite Skshetuski. The lieutenant would not have noticed them,
however, had it not been for Volodyovski, who, pushing him with his
elbow, said,--

"May captivity strike me if Anusia isn't making up to that Lithuanian

"Tell him so."

"Of course I will. They will make a pair."

"Yes, he might wear her in place of a button in his coat, such is the
proportion between them, or instead of a plume in his cap."

Volodyovski went up to the Lithuanian and said: "It is not long since
you arrived, but I see you are getting to be a great rogue."

"How is that, brother? how is that?"

"You have already turned the head of the prettiest girl among the
ladies in waiting."

"Oh, my dear friend!" said Podbipienta, clasping his hands together,
"what do you tell me?"

"Well, look for yourself at Panna Anusia Borzobogata, with whom we have
all fallen in love, and see how she fixes you with her eyes. But look
out that she doesn't fool you as she has us!"

When he had said this, Volodyovski turned on his heel and walked off,
leaving Podbipienta in meditation. He did not indeed dare to look in
the direction of Anusia at once. After a time, however, he cast a quick
glance at her, but he trembled. From behind the shoulder of Princess
Griselda two shining eyes looked on him steadfastly and curiously.
"Avaunt, Satan!" thought the Lithuanian; and he hurried off to the
other end of the hall, blushing like a schoolboy.

Still, the temptation was great. That imp, looking from behind the
shoulder of the princess, possessed such charm, those eyes shone so
clearly, that something drew Pan Longin on to glance at them even once
more. But that moment he remembered his vow. Zervikaptur stood before
him, his ancestor Stoveiko Podbipienta, the three severed heads,--and
terror seized him. He made the sign of the cross, and looked at her no
more that evening. But next morning, early, he went to the quarters of
Pan Yan.

"Well, Lieutenant, are we going to march soon? What do you hear about
the war?"

"You are in great straits. Be patient till you join the regiment."

Pan Podbipienta had not yet been enrolled in the place of the
late Zakshevski; he had to wait till the quarter of the year had
expired,--till the first of April. But he was in a real hurry;
therefore he asked,--

"And has the prince said nothing about this matter?"

"Nothing. The king won't stop thinking of war while he lives, but the
Commonwealth does not want it."

"But they say in Chigirin that a Cossack rebellion is threatened."

"It is evident that your vow troubles you greatly. As to a rebellion,
you may be sure there will be none till spring; for though the winter
is mild, winter is winter. It is now the 15th of February, and frost
may come any day. The Cossacks will not take the field till they can
intrench themselves behind earthworks; they fight terribly, but in the
field they cannot hold their own."

"So one must wait for the Cossacks?"

"Think of this, too, that although you should find your three heads in
time of rebellion, it is unknown whether you would be released from
your vow; for Crusaders or Turks are one thing, and your own people are
another,--children of the same mother, as it were."

"Oh, great God! what a blow you have planted on my head! Here is
desperation! Let the priest Mukhovetski relieve me from this doubt, for
otherwise I shall not have a moment's rest."

"He will surely solve your doubt, for he is a learned and pious man;
but he will not tell you anything else. Civil war is a war of

"But if a foreign power should come to the aid of the rebels?"

"Then you would have a chance. Meanwhile I can recommend but one thing
to you,--wait, and be quiet."

But Skshetuski was unable to follow this advice himself. His melancholy
increased continually. He was annoyed by the festivals at the castle,
and by those faces on which some time before he gazed with such
pleasure. Bodzynski and Rozvan Ursu departed at last, and after their
departure profound quiet set in. Life began to flow on monotonously.
The prince was occupied with the review of his enormous estates, and
every morning shut himself in with his agents, who were arriving from
all Rus and Sandomir, so that even military exercises took place but
rarely. The noisy feasts of the officers, at which future wars were
discussed, wearied Skshetuski beyond measure; so he used to go out with
a gun on his shoulder to Solonitsa, where Jolkefski had inflicted such
terrible defeats on Nalivaika, Loboda, and Krempski. The traces of
these battles had already disappeared from the memory of men, and the
field of conflict; but from time to time the earth cast up from its
bosom whitened bones, and beyond the water was visible the Cossack
breastwork from behind which the Zaporojians of Loboda and the
volunteers of Nalivaika had made such a desperate defence. But a dense
grove had already spread its roots over the breastwork. That was the
place where Skshetuski hid himself from the noise of the castle; and
instead of shooting at birds he fell into meditation, and before the
eyes of his spirit stood the form of the beloved maiden called hither
by his memory and his heart. There in the mist, the rustle of the
reeds, and the melancholy of those places he found solace in his own

But later on began abundant rains, the harbinger of spring. Solonitsa
became a morass; it was difficult to put one's head from under the
roof. The lieutenant was deprived, therefore, even of the comfort which
he had found in wandering about alone; and immediately his disquiet
began to increase, and justly. He had hoped at first that the princess
would come immediately with Helena to Lubni, if she could only succeed
in sending Bogun away; but now that hope vanished. The wet weather had
destroyed the roads; the steppe for many miles on both sides of the
Sula had become an enormous quagmire, which could not be crossed till
the warm sun of spring should suck out the superfluous water.

All this time Helena would have to remain under guardianship in which
Skshetuski had no trust, in a real den of wolves, among wild, uncouth
people, ill disposed to him. They had, it is true, to keep faith for
their own sake, and really they had no other choice; but who could
guess what they might invent, what they might venture upon, especially
when they were pressed by the terrible Bogun, whom they seemed both to
love and fear? It would be easy for Bogun to force them to yield up the
girl, for similar deeds were not rare. In this way Loboda, the comrade
of the ill-starred Nalivaika, had forced Pani Poplinska to give him her
foster-daughter as wife, although she was of good family and hated the
Cossack with her whole soul. And if what was said of the immeasurable
wealth of Bogun were true, he might remunerate them for the girl and
the loss of Rozlogi. And then what? "Then," thought Pan Yan, "they will
tell me with a sneer, 'Your lash is lost,' they will vanish into some
Lithuanian or Mazovian wilderness, where even the hand of the prince
cannot reach them."

Skshetuski shook as if in a fever at the thought, and was impatient as
a chained wolf, regretted the word of honor he had given the princess,
and knew not what to do. He was a man who was unwilling to let chance
pull him on by the beard. There was great energy and enterprise in his
nature. He did not wait for what fate would give, he chose to take fate
by the shoulder and force it to give him good fortune; hence it was
more difficult for him than any other man to sit with folded hands in
Lubni. He resolved, therefore, to act. He had a young lad in waiting,
Jendzian, from Podlesia,--sixteen years old, but a most cunning rogue,
whom no old fox could out-trick,--and he determined to send him to
Helena at once to discover everything.

February was at an end; the rains had ceased. March appeared rather
favorable, and the roads must have improved a little. Jendzian got
ready for the journey, Skshetuski provided him with paper, pens, and a
bottle of ink, which he commanded him to guard as the eye in his head,
for he remembered that those things were not to be had at Rozlogi. The
young fellow was not to tell from whom he came, but to pretend that he
was going to Chigirin, to keep a sharp eye on everything, and
especially to find out carefully where Bogun was, and what he was
doing. Jendzian did not wait to have his instructions repeated; he
stuck his cap on the side of his head, cracked his whip, and was off.

Dreary days of waiting set in for Skshetuski. To kill time, he occupied
himself in sword exercise with Volodyovski, who was a great master in
this art, or hurled javelins at a ring. There happened in Lubni also
something which came near costing the lieutenant his life. One day a
bear, having broken away from his chain, wounded two stable-boys,
frightened the horse of Pan Hlebovski, the commissary, and finally
rushed on the lieutenant, who was on his way to the prince at the
armory without a sabre, and had only a light stick with a brass knob in
his hand. He would have perished undoubtedly, had it not been for Pan
Longin, who, seeing from the armory what was passing, rushed for his
long sword, and hurried to the rescue. Pan Longin showed himself a
worthy descendant of his ancestor Stoveiko in the full sense, for with
one blow he swept off the front half of the bear's head, together with
his paw, before the eyes of the whole court. This proof of
extraordinary strength was seen from the window by the prince himself,
who took Pan Longin afterward to the apartments of the princess, where
Anusia Borzobogata so tempted him with her eyes that next morning he
had to go to confession, and for three days following he did not show
himself in the castle until by earnest prayer he had expelled every

Ten days had passed, and no sign of Jendzian. Skshetuski had grown so
thin from waiting and so wretched-looking that Anusia began to ask,
through messengers, what the matter was, and Carboni, physician of the
princess, prescribed an herb for melancholy. But he needed another
remedy; for he was thinking of his princess day and night, and with
each moment he felt more clearly that no trivial feeling had nestled in
his heart, but a great love which must be satisfied, or his breast
would burst like a weak vessel.

It is easy to imagine, then, the gladness of Pan Yan when one morning
about daybreak Jendzian entered his room covered with mud, weary, thin,
but joyful, and with good news written on his forehead. The lieutenant
tore himself from the bed, rushed to the youth, caught him by the
shoulder, and cried,--

"Have you a letter?"

"I have. Here it is."

The lieutenant tore it open and began to read. For a long time he had
been in doubt whether in the most favorable event Jendzian would bring
a letter, for he was not sure that Helena knew how to write. Women in
the country were uneducated, and Helena was reared among illiterate
people. It was evident now that her father had taught her to write, for
she had sent a long letter on four pages of paper. The poor girl didn't
know how to express herself elegantly or rhetorically, but she wrote
straight from the heart, as follows:--

"Indeed I shall never forget you. You will forget me sooner, for I hear
that there are deceivers among you. But since you have sent your lad on
purpose so many miles, it is evident that I am dear to you as you are
to me, for which I thank you with a grateful heart. Do not think that
it is not against my feeling of modesty to write thus to you about
loving; but it is better to tell the truth, than to lie or dissemble
when there is something altogether different in the heart. I have asked
Jendzian what you are doing in Lubni, and what are the customs at a
great castle; and when he told me about the beauty and comeliness of
the young ladies there, I began to cry from sorrow "--

Here the lieutenant stopped reading and asked Jendzian: "What did you
tell her, you dunce?"

"Everything good," answered Jendzian.

The lieutenant read on:--

--"for how could I, ignorant girl, be equal to them? But your servant
told me that you wouldn't look at any of them"--

"You answered well," said the lieutenant.

Jendzian didn't know what the question was, for the lieutenant read to
himself; but he put on a wise look and coughed significantly.
Skshetuski read on:--

--"and I immediately consoled myself, begging God to keep you for the
future in such feeling for me and to bless us both,--Amen. I have also
yearned for you as if for my mother; for it is sad for me, orphan in
the world, when not near you. God sees that my heart is clean; anything
else comes from my want of experience, which you must forgive."

Farther on in the letter, the charming princess wrote that she and her
aunt would come to Lubni as soon as the roads were better, and that the
old princess herself wanted to hasten the journey, for tidings were
coming from Chigirin of Cossack disturbances. She was only waiting for
the return of her sons, who had gone to Boguslav to the horse-fair.

"You are a real wizard [wrote Helena] to be able to win my aunt to your

Here the lieutenant smiled, for he remembered the means which he was
forced to use in winning her aunt. The letter ended with assurances of
unbroken and true love such as a future wife owed her husband. And in
general a genuine good heart was evident in it. Therefore the
lieutenant read the affectionate letter several times from beginning to
end, repeating to himself in spirit, "My dear girl, may God forsake me
if I ever abandon you!"

Then he began to examine Jendzian on every point.

The cunning lad gave him a detailed account of the whole journey. He
was received politely. The old princess made inquiries of him
concerning the lieutenant, and learning that he was a famous knight, a
confidant of the prince, and a man of property besides, she was glad.

"She asked me, too," said Jendzian, "if you always keep your word when
you make a promise, and I answered, 'My noble lady, if the Wallachian
horse on which I have come had been promised me, I should be sure he
wouldn't escape me.'"

"You are a rogue," said the lieutenant; "but since you have given such
bonds for me, you may keep the horse. You made no pretences, then,--you
said that I sent you?"

"Yes, for I saw that I might; and I was still better received,
especially by the young lady, who is so wonderful that there isn't
another like her in the world. When she knew that I came from you, she
didn't know where to seat me; and if it hadn't been a time of fast, I
should have been really in heaven. While reading your letter she shed
tears of delight."

The lieutenant was silent from joy, too, and after a moment asked
again: "But did you hear nothing of that fellow Bogun?"

"I didn't get to ask the old lady or the young princess about him, but
I gained the confidence of Chehly, the old Tartar, who, though a pagan,
is a faithful servant of the young lady. He said they were all very
angry at you, but became reconciled afterward, when they discovered
that the reports of Bogun's treasures were fables."

"How did they discover that?"

"Well, you see, this is how it was. They had a dispute with the
Sivinskis which they bound themselves to settle by payment. When the
time came, they went to Bogun with, 'Lend us money!' 'I have some
Turkish goods,' said he, 'but no money; for what I had I squandered.'
When they heard this, they dropped him, and their affection turned to

"It must be said that you have found out everything well."

"If I had found out one thing and neglected another, then you might say
that you would give me the horse, but not the saddle; and what is the
horse without a saddle?"

"Well, well, take the saddle too."

"Thank you most humbly. They sent Bogun off to Pereyasláv immediately.
When I found that out, I thought to myself, 'Why shouldn't I push on to
Pereyasláv? My master will be satisfied with me, and a uniform will
come to me the sooner.'"

"You'll get it next quarter. So you were in Pereyasláv?"

"I was, but didn't find Bogun. Old Colonel Loboda is sick. They say
Bogun will succeed him soon. But something strange is going on. Hardly
a handful of Cossacks have remained in the regiment; the others, they
say, have gone after Bogun, or run away to the Saitch; and this is very
important, for some rebellion is on foot. I wanted to know something
certain about Bogun, but all they told me was that he had crossed to
the Russian bank,[7] 'Well,' thought I, 'if that is true, then our
princess is safe from him;' and I returned."

"You did well. Had you any adventures on the road?"

"No, but I want awfully to eat something."

Jendzian went out; and the lieutenant, being alone, began to read
Helena's letter again, and to press to his lips those characters that
were not so shapely as the hand that had penned them. Confidence
entered his heart, and he thought,--

"The road will soon dry, if God gives good weather. The Kurtsevichi,
too, knowing that Bogun has nothing, will be sure not to betray me. I
will leave Rozlogi to them, and add something of my own to get that
dear little star."

He dressed with a bright face, and with a bosom full of happiness went
to the chapel to thank God humbly for the good news.

                              CHAPTER VI.

Over the whole Ukraine and beyond the Dnieper strange sounds began to
spread like the heralds of a coming tempest; certain wonderful tidings
flew from village to village, from farmhouse to farmhouse,--like those
plants which the breezes of spring push along the steppes, and which
the people call field-rollers. In the towns there were whispers of some
great war, though no man knew who was going to make war, nor against
whom. Still the tidings were told. The faces of people became unquiet.
The tiller of the soil went with his plough to the field unwillingly,
though the spring had come early, mild and warm, and long since the
larks had been singing over the steppes. Every evening people gathered
in crowds in the villages, and standing on the road, talked in
undertones of terrible things. Blind men wandering around with lyres
and songs were asked for news. Some persons thought they saw in the
night-time reflections in the sky, and that a moon redder than usual
rose from behind the pine woods. Disaster or the death of the king was
predicted. And all this was the more wonderful, since fear found no
easy approach to those lands, long accustomed to disturbances,
conflicts, and raids. Some exceptionally ominous currents must have
been playing in the air, since the alarm had become universal.

It was the more oppressive and stifling, because no one was able to
point out the danger. But among the signs of evil omen, two especially
seemed to show that really something was impending. First, an
unheard-of multitude of old minstrels appeared in all the villages and
towns, and among them were forms strange, and known to no one; these,
it was whispered, were counterfeit minstrels. These men, strolling
about everywhere, told with an air of mystery that the day of God's
judgment and anger was near. Secondly, the men of the lower country
began to drink with all their might.

The second sign was the more serious. The Saitch, confined within too
narrow limits, was unable to feed all its inhabitants; expeditions were
not always successful; besides, the steppes yielded no bread to the
Cossacks. In time of peace, therefore, a multitude of Zaporojians
scattered themselves yearly over the inhabited districts. The Ukraine,
and indeed all Russia, was full of them. Some rose to be land stewards;
some sold liquor on the highways; some labored in hamlets and towns, in
trade and industry. In every village there was sure to be a cottage on
one side, at a distance from the rest, in which a Zaporojian dwelt.
Some of them had brought their wives with them, and kept house in these
cottages. But the Zaporojian, as a man who usually had passed through
every experience, was generally a benefactor to the village in which
he lived. There were no better blacksmiths, wheelwrights, tanners,
wax-refiners, fishermen, and hunters than they. The Cossack understood
everything, did everything; he built a house, he sewed a saddle. But
the Cossacks were not always such quiet inhabitants, for they lived a
temporary life. Whoever wished to carry out a decision with armed hand,
to make an attack on a neighbor, or to defend himself from an expected
attack, had only to raise the cry, and straightway the Cossacks hurried
to him like ravens to a ready spoil. The nobility and magnates,
involved in endless disputes among themselves, employed the Cossacks.
When there was a lack of such undertakings the Cossacks stayed quietly
in the villages, working with all diligence, earning their daily bread
in the sweat of their brows.

They would continue in this fashion for a year or two, till sudden
tidings came of some great expedition, either of an ataman against the
Tartars or the Poles, or of Polish noblemen against Wallachia; and that
moment the wheelwrights, blacksmiths, tanners, and wax-refiners would
desert their peaceful occupations, and begin to drink with all their
might in every dram-shop of the Ukraine. After they had drunk away
everything, they would drink on credit,--not on what they had, but on
what they would have. Future booty must pay for the frolic.

This phenomenon was repeated so regularly that after a while people of
experience in the Ukraine used to say; "The dram-shops are bursting
with men from below; something is on foot in the Ukraine."

The starostas strengthened the garrisons in the castles at once,
looking carefully to everything; the magnates increased their retinues;
the nobility sent their wives and children to the towns.

That spring the Cossacks began to drink as never before, squandering at
random all they had earned, not in one district, not in one province,
but throughout all Russia,--the length and the breadth of it.

Something was on foot, indeed, though the men from below had no idea of
what it was. People had begun to speak of Hmelnitski, of his flight to
the Saitch, of the men from Cherkasi, Boguslav, Korsún, and other
places who had followed him; but something else was talked of too. For
years reports had been current of a great war with the Pagans,--a war
desired by the king to give booty to the Cossacks, but opposed by the
Poles. This time all reports were blended, and roused in the brains of
men uneasiness and the expectation of something uncommon.

This uneasiness penetrated the walls of Lubni also. It was not proper
to shut one's eyes to such signs, and Prince Yeremi especially had not
that habit. In his domain the disturbance did not really come to an
outbreak, fear kept all within bounds; but for some time reports had
been coming from the Ukraine, that here and there peasants were
beginning to resist the nobles, that they were killing Jews, that they
wished to force their own enrolment for war against the Pagans, and
that the number of deserters to the Saitch was increasing continually.

The prince sent envoys in various directions,--to Pan Pototski, to Pan
Kalinovski, to Loboda in Pereyasláv,--and collected in person the herds
from the steppes and the troops from the outposts. Meantime peaceful
news was brought. The Grand Hetman communicated all that he knew
concerning Hmelnitski; he did not think, however, that any storm could
rise out of the affair. The full hetman wrote that the rabble were
accustomed "to bustle in spring like bees," Zatsvilikhovski was the
only man who sent a letter imploring the prince to underestimate
nothing, for a mighty storm was coming on from the Wilderness. He wrote
that Hmelnitski had hurried to the Crimea to ask assistance of the

"And as friends from the Saitch inform me," wrote he, "the koshevoi is
collecting the army, horse and foot, from all the meadows and streams,
telling no one why he does it. I think, therefore, that this storm will
come on us. If it comes with Tartar aid, then God save all Russian
lands from ruin!"

The prince had more confidence in Zatsvilikhovski than in the hetmans,
for he knew that no one in all Russia had such knowledge of the
Cossacks and their devices as he. He determined, therefore, to
concentrate as many troops as possible, and also to get to the bottom
of the truth.

One morning he summoned to his presence the lieutenant of the
Wallachian regiment, Pan Bykhovets, to whom he said,--

"You will go for me to the Saitch on a mission to the koshevoi, and
give him this letter with the seal of my lordship. But that you may
know what plan of action to follow, I tell you this letter is a
pretext, and the whole meaning of the mission lies in your own wit. You
are to see everything that is done there,--what troops they have
assembled, and whether they are assembling more. I enjoin you specially
to win some people to your person, and find out for me carefully all
about Hmelnitski,--where he is, and if it is true that he has gone to
the Crimea to ask aid of the Tartars. Do you understand what I say?"

"As if it had been written on the palm of my hand."

"You will go by Chigirin. Rest but one night on the way. When you
arrive, go to Zatsvilikhovski for letters, which you will deliver
secretly to his friends in the Saitch. They will tell you all they
know. From Chigirin you will go by water to Kudák. Give my respects
with this letter to Pan Grodzitski. He will issue orders to convey you
over the Cataracts by proper guides. Be fearless in the Saitch, keep
your eyes and ears open, and come back if you survive, for the
expedition is no easy one."

"Your Highness is the steward of my blood. Shall I take many men?"

"You will take forty attendants. Start to-day; before evening come for
further instructions. Your mission is important."

Pan Bykhovets went out rejoicing. In the antechamber he met Skshetuski
with some artillery officers.

"Well, what is going on?" asked they.

"I take the road to-day."

"Where, where?"

"To Chigirin, and from there farther on."

"Then come with me," said Pan Yan.

And taking him to his quarters, he began to tease him to transfer his
mission to him.

"As my friend," said he, "ask what you like,--a Turkish horse, an Arab
steed,--you shall have one. I'll spare nothing if I can only go, for my
soul is rushing out in that direction. If you want money I'll give it,
if you will only yield. The trip will bring you no glory; for if war
breaks out it will begin here, and you may be killed in the Saitch. I
know, too, that Anusia is as dear to you as to others; if you go they
will get her away from you."

This last argument went home to the mind of Pan Bykhovets more than any
other, but still he resisted. What would the prince say if he should
withdraw? Wouldn't he take it ill of him? An appointment like this was
such a favor.

Hearing this, Skshetuski rushed off to the prince and directed the page
at once to announce him.

The page returned soon with the answer that the prince permitted him to

The lieutenant's heart beat like a hammer, from fear that he should
hear a curt "No!" after which he would be obliged to let the matter
drop entirely.

"Well, what have you to say?" asked the prince, looking at the

Skshetuski bent down to his feet.

"Mighty prince, I have come to implore you most humbly to intrust me
with the expedition to the Saitch. Bykhovets would give it up, perhaps,
for he is my friend, and to me it is as important as life. Bykhovets'
only fear is that you may be angry with him for yielding the place."

"As God lives!" said the prince, "I should have sent no one else, but I
thought you would not like to go just after returning from a long

"I should rejoice to be sent even every day in that direction."

The prince looked at him very attentively with his black eyes, and
after a while inquired: "What have you got there?"

The lieutenant grew confused, like a culprit unable to bear a searching

"I must tell the truth, I see," said he, "since no secret can stand
before your reason. Of one thing I am not sure,--your favorable

Thereupon he began to tell how he had become acquainted with the
daughter of Prince Vassily, had fallen in love with her and would like
to visit her, and on his return from the Saitch to Lubni to remove and
save her from Cossack turmoil and the importunities of Bogun. But he
said nothing of the machinations of the old princess, for in this he
was bound by his word. He began then to beg the prince so earnestly to
give him the mission confided to Bykhovets, that Vishnyevetski said,--

"I should permit you to go on your own account and give you men; but
since you have planned everything so cleverly that your personal
affection agrees with your office, I must arrange this affair for you."

Then he clapped his hands and commanded the page to call Pan Bykhovets.

The lieutenant kissed the prince's hand with joy. Yeremi took him by
the head and commanded him to be quiet. He loved Skshetuski beyond
measure as a splendid soldier and officer whom he could trust in all
things. Besides, there was between them that bond which is formed
between a subordinate reverencing his chief with his whole soul and a
chief who feels this clearly. There were not a few courtiers and
flatterers who circled around the prince for their own profit; but the
eagle eye of Yeremi knew well whom to choose. He knew that Pan Yan was
a man without blemish; he valued him, and was grateful to him for his
feelings. He rejoiced, too, that his favorite had fallen in love with
the daughter of the old servant of the Vishnyevetskis, Vassily
Kurtsevich, whose memory was the dearer because of its sadness.

"It was not from ungratefulness to the prince," said he, "that I made
no inquiry concerning his daughter. Since the guardians did not visit
Lubni, and I received no complaint against them, I supposed they were
good people. But as you have put me in mind of the lady, I will care
for her as for my own daughter."

Skshetuski, hearing this, could not admire sufficiently the kindness of
the prince, who reproached himself, notwithstanding the multitude of
his occupations, with inattention to the child of his former soldier
and official.

Bykhovets now came in.

"Well," said the prince, "my word is given, and if you wish to go you
will go; but I ask you to do this for me: yield your mission to
Skshetuski,--he has his own special and solid reasons for wanting
it,--and I will think of another reward for you."

"Oh, your Highness," said Bykhovets, "your favor is great; for while
able to command, you ask that which if I refused to give I should be
unworthy of your favor."

"Thank your friend," said the prince, turning to Pan Yan, "and prepare
for the road."

Skshetuski thanked Bykhovets heartily indeed, and in a few hours he was
ready. For some time it had been irksome for him in Lubni, and this
expedition accorded with all his wishes. First, he was to see Helena.
True, he had to go from her for a long time; but just such an interval
was needed to make the roads passable for wheels, after such
measureless rains. The princess and Helena could not come earlier to
Lubni. Skshetuski therefore must either wait in Lubni or live at
Rozlogi,--which would be against his covenant with the princess, and,
what was more, rouse the suspicions of Bogun. Helena could be really
safe against his attacks only in Lubni; but since she must in every
case wait some time yet in Rozlogi, it appeared best to Pan Yan to
depart, and on his return take her under the protection of the armed
power of the prince. Having settled the matter thus, the lieutenant
hastened his journey,--got everything ready, took letters and
instructions from the prince, money for expenses from the treasurer,
and made a good start over the road before night, having with him
Jendzian and forty horsemen from the Cossack regiment.

                              CHAPTER VII.

It was now the second half of March; the grass was growing luxuriantly,
the field-roller was blooming, the steppe was stirring with life. In
the morning the lieutenant, travelling at the head of his men, rode as
if over a sea whose moving wave was the wind-stirred grass. Every place
was filled with joy and the voices of spring,--chirruping, whistling,
clattering, the shaking of wings, the glad hum of insects; the steppe
sounded like a lyre touched by the hand of the Lord. Above the heads of
the horsemen floated falcons motionless in the blue ether, like
suspended crosses, triangles of wild geese, lines of storks; and on the
ground the coursing of flocks run wild. Behold, a herd of steppe horses
rush on! They move like a storm, stop before the mounted men in a
half-circle suddenly, as if spiked to the earth, their manes spread to
the wind, their nostrils dilated, their eyes full of wonder. You would
say they are here to trample the unbidden guests. But a moment more
they are gone, vanishing as suddenly as they came. Now we have only the
sound of the grass and the gleam of the flowers; the clatter is still.
Again nothing is heard save the play of birds. The land seems full of
joy; yet a kind of sadness is in that joy. It seems crowded, and it is
an empty land. Oh, it is wide, and it is roomy! With a horse you cannot
surround it; in thought you cannot grasp it,--unless you love the
sadness, the desert, and the steppes, and with yearning soul circle
above them, linger upon their gravemounds, hearken to their voices, and
give answer.

It was early morning. Great drops glittered on the grass and reeds; the
quick movement of the wind dried the ground, on which after the rains
broad ponds were spread, like lakes shining in the sun. The retinue of
the lieutenant moved on slowly, for it was difficult to hasten when the
horses sank to their knees at times in the soft earth; and he gave them
only short resting-spells on the grave-mounds, for he was hastening to
a greeting and a parting.

The second day, about noon, after he had passed a strip of forest,
he saw the windmills of Rozlogi scattered on the hillsides and mounds.
His heart beat like a hammer. No one there expected him; no one
knew he was coming. What will she say when she sees him? Now he
beholds the cottages of the neighbors, nearly hidden, covered in the
cherry-orchards; farther on is a straggling village of cottages; and
still farther is seen the well-sweep on the square in front of the
house. The lieutenant, putting spurs to his horse, galloped swiftly;
and after him flew his suite through the village with a clatter and a
noise. Here and there a peasant, rushing out of his cottage, made a
sign of the cross. Devils!--not devils? Tartars!--not Tartars? The mud
spatters from under their hoofs so that you don't know who is hurrying
on. Meanwhile they are at the square, and have halted before the closed

"Hallo there! Who lives, open!"

The bustle and pounding, the barking of dogs, called out the people
from the house. They hurried to the gate frightened, thinking it was an

"Who goes?"


"The princes are not at home."

"But open, you son of an infidel! We are from the prince at Lubni."

The servants at last recognized Skshetuski. "Oh, that is you! Right
away! right away!"

The gate was thrown open. Then the princess herself appeared before the
entrance, and shading her eyes with her hand, looked at the new-comers.

Skshetuski sprang from his horse, and coming up to her said: "Don't you
know me?"

"Oh! that is you. Lieutenant. I thought it was a Tartar raid. I salute
you and beg you to enter."

"You wonder, no doubt," said Pan Yan, "at seeing me in Rozlogi. Still I
have not broken my word, for the prince sends me to Chigirin and
farther. He asked me also to stop at Rozlogi and inquire for your

"I am thankful to his Highness. Does he think of driving us from
Rozlogi soon?"

"He doesn't think of it at all, for he knows of no cause to drive you
out; and what I have said will take place. You will remain in Rozlogi;
I have bread enough of my own."

Hearing this, the princess grew good-humored at once, and said: "Be
seated, and be as glad as I am to see you."

"Is Princess Helena well? Where is she?"

"I know you. You have not come to see me, my cavalier. She is in good
health, she is well; the girl has improved in appearance. But I'll call
her to you this minute, and I'll dress a little myself, for I am
ashamed to receive guests in this gown."

The princess was wearing a faded dress, with a fur coat outside, and
heavy boots.

At this moment Helena, though not called, rushed into the room; for she
had heard from the old Tartar, Chehly, who the visitor was. She ran in
panting, and red as a cherry, barely able to catch her breath, but her
eyes were laughing from happiness and joy. Skshetuski sprang to her
hand, and when the princess had withdrawn discreetly, kissed her on the
lips, for he was an impulsive man. She did not defend herself
vigorously, feeling that weakness had come upon her from an overflow of
happiness and joy.

"I did not expect to see you," whispered she, half closing her eyes.
"But don't kiss me that way, for it isn't proper."

"Why shouldn't I kiss when honey is not half so sweet? I thought I
should wither away without you, till the prince himself sent me here."

"What does the prince know?"

"I told him all, and he was glad when he remembered your father. Oh,
you must have given me some herb, my girl, for I cannot see the light
of day on account of you."

"Your blindness is a favor from God."

"But do you remember that omen which the falcon gave when she drew our
hands together? It was destiny beyond a doubt."

"I remember."

"When at Lubni I used to go from sadness to Solonitsa and see you there
just as if present, if I stretched forth my hand you disappeared; but
you will not escape me again, for I think that nothing will stand in
our way now."

"If anything does, it will not be my will."

"Tell me again that you love me."

Helena dropped her eyes, but answered with dignity and decision: "As
nobody in the world."

"If any one should surround me with honor and gold, I should prefer
those words of yours; for I feel that you speak the truth, though I do
not know why I deserve such favor from you."

"Because you had pity on me, drew me to you, took my part, and spoke
words such as I had never heard before."

Helena was silent from emotion, and the lieutenant began again to kiss
her hand.

"You will be my ruler, not my wife."

They were silent for a while, but he did not take his eyes from her,
wishing to make up for the long time in which he had not seen her. She
seemed to him more beautiful than before. In that dim room, in the
sunlight broken into rays by the glass window-panes, she looked like
those pictures of holy virgins in dusky chapels. At the same time such
warmth and life surrounded her, so many splendid womanly graces and
charms were pictured in her face and whole form, that it was possible
to lose one's head, fall desperately in love with her, and love

"I shall lose my sight from your beauty," said the lieutenant.

The white teeth of the princess glittered joyously in a smile.
"Undoubtedly Anusia Borzobogata is a hundred times better looking than

"She is to you as a pewter plate to the moon."

"But Jendzian told me a different story."

"Jendzian deserves a slap on the mouth. What do I care for her? Let
other bees take honey from that flower, and there are plenty of them

Further conversation was interrupted by the entrance of old Chehly, who
came to greet the lieutenant. He looked on him already as his future
master, and he bowed to him at the threshold, giving the salaam in
Oriental fashion.

"Well, old Chehly, I take you too with your mistress. You will serve
her till you die."

"She won't have long to wait for my death; but while I live I will
serve her. God is one!"

"In a month or so, when I return from the Saitch, we will go to Lubni,"
said the lieutenant, turning to Helena; "and there Mukhovetski is ready
with his robes."

Helena was startled. "Then you are going to the Saitch?"

"The prince sends me with letters. But have no fear; the person of an
envoy is sacred, even among pagans. I should send you and the princess
immediately to Lubni, but the roads are fearful. Even on horseback it
is hard to get along."

"Will you stay long in Rozlogi?"

"I leave this evening for Chigirin. The sooner I go the sooner I shall
return. Besides, it is the prince's service; neither my time nor will
is at my disposal."

"Will you come to dinner, if you have had enough of billing and
cooing?" said the princess, coming in. "Ho! ho! the young woman's
cheeks are red; 'tis evident you have not been idle, sir! Well, I'm not
surprised at you."

Saying this, she stroked Helena affectionately on the shoulder, and
they went to dinner. The princess was in perfectly good humor. She had
given up Bogun long ago, and all was arranged now, owing to the
liberality of the lieutenant, so that she could look on Rozlogi, "with
its pine woods, forests, boundaries, and inhabitants," as belonging to
her and her sons,--no small property, indeed.

The lieutenant asked for the princes,--whether they would return soon.

"I expect them every day. They were angry at first with you, but
afterward, when they scrutinized your acts, they conceived a great
affection for you as their future relative; for in truth it is
difficult in these mild times to find a man of such daring."

After dinner the lieutenant and Helena went to the cherry orchard,
which came up to the ditch beyond the square. The orchard was covered
with early white blossoms as if with snow; beyond the orchard was a
dark oak grove in which a cuckoo was heard.

"That is a happy augury for us," said Skshetuski, "but we must make the
inquiry." And turning to the oak grove, he asked: "Good cuckoo, how
many years shall I live in marriage with this lady?"

The cuckoo began to call, and counted fifty and more.

"God grant it!"

"The cuckoo always tells the truth," remarked Helena.

"If that's the case, I'll ask another question," said the enamoured

"No, it is not necessary."

In converse and merriment like this the day passed as a dream. In the
evening came the moment of tender and long parting, and the lieutenant
set out for Chigirin.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

In Chigirin, Skshetuski found the old man Zatsvilikhovski in great
excitement and fever. He looked impatiently at the prince's envoy, for
tidings more and more terrible kept coming from the Saitch. There was
no doubt that Hmelnitski was preparing to demand with armed hand
justice for himself and the ancient rights of the Cossacks.
Zatsvilikhovski had news that he had been with the Khan in the Crimea
to beg Tartar aid, with which he was expected every day in the Saitch.
Then there would be a general campaign from the lower country against
the Commonwealth, which with Tartar assistance might be destructive.
The storm drew nearer and nearer, more definite and more terrible. It
was no longer vague undefined alarm that swept over the Ukraine, but
clear certainty of slaughter and war. The Grand Hetman, who at first
had made light of the whole affair, was pushing forward with his troops
to Cherkasi. The advance guard of the royal armies was advancing mainly
to prevent desertion; for the Cossacks of the towns, and the mob had
begun to flee to the Saitch in masses. The nobility assembled in the
towns. It was said that the general militia were to be called out in
the southern provinces. Some, not waiting for the call, sent their
wives and children to castles, and assembled in person at Cherkasi. The
ill-fated Ukraine was divided into two parties,--one of these hastened
to the Saitch, the other to the royal camp; one declared for the
existing order of affairs, the other for wild freedom; one desired to
keep possession of that which was the fruit of ages of labor, the other
desired to deprive these possessors of that property. Both were to
imbrue fraternal hands in the blood of each other. The terrible
dispute, before it found religious rallying-cries which were completely
foreign to the lower country, was breaking out as a social war.

But though black clouds were gathering on the heaven of the Ukraine,
though a dark and ominous night was descending from these clouds,
though within them it rumbled and roared and thunder-claps rolled from
horizon to horizon, people still could not tell to what degree the
storm would burst forth. Perhaps even Hmelnitski himself could
not,--Hmelnitski, who had just sent letters to Pan Pototski, to the
Cossack commissioner, and to the royal standard-bearer, full of
accusation and complaints, and at the same time of assurances of
loyalty to Vladislav IV. and the Commonwealth. Did he wish to win time,
or did he suppose that some agreement might yet end the dispute? On
this there was a variety of opinions. There were only two men who did
not deceive themselves for a single moment. These men were
Zatsvilikhovski and Barabash.

The old colonel had also received a letter from Hmelnitski. The letter
was sarcastic, threatening, and full of abuse. Hmelnitski wrote:--

"We shall begin, with the whole Zaporojian army, to beg most fervently
and to ask for that charter of rights which you secreted. And because
you secreted it for your own personal profit and advantage, the whole
Zaporojian army creates you a colonel over sheep or swine, but not over
men. I beg pardon if in any way I failed to please you in my poor house
in Chigirin on the feast-day of Saint Nicholas, and that I went off to
the Zaporojie without your knowledge or permission."

"Do you see," said Barabash to Zatsvilikhovski and Pan Yan, "how he
ridicules me? Yet it was I who taught him war, and was in truth a
father to him."

"He says, then, that the whole Zaporojian army will demand their
rights," said Zatsvilikhovski. "That is simply a civil war, of all wars
the most terrible."

"I see that I must hasten," said Skshetuski. "Give me the letters to
those men with whom I am to come in contact."

"You have one to the koshevoi ataman?"

"I have, from the prince himself."

"I will give you a letter to one of the kuren atamans. Barabash has a
relative there,--Barabash also. From these you will learn everything.
Who knows, though, but it is too late for such an expedition? Does the
prince wish to hear what is really to be heard there? The answer is
brief: 'Evil!' And he wants to know what to do? Short advice: 'Collect
as many troops as possible and join the hetmans.'"

"Despatch a messenger, then, to the prince with the answer and the
advice," said Skshetuski. "I must go; for I am on a mission, and I
cannot alter the decision of the prince."

"Are you aware that this is a terribly dangerous expedition?" asked
Zatsvilikhovski. "Even here the people are so excited that it is
difficult for them to keep still. Were it not for the nearness of the
army of the crown, the mob would rush upon us. But there you are going
into the dragon's mouth."

"Jonah was in the whale's belly, not his mouth, and with God's aid he
came out in safety."

"Go, then! I applaud your courage. You can go to Kudák in safety, and
there you will see what is to be done further. Grodzitski is an old
soldier; he will give you the best of advice. And I will go to the
prince without fail. If I have to fight in my old age, I would rather
fight under him than any one else. Meanwhile I will get boats for you,
and guides who will take you to Kudák."

Skshetuski slipped out, and went straight to his quarters on the
square, in the prince's house, to make his final preparations. In spite
of the dangers of the journey mentioned by Zatsvilikhovski, the
lieutenant thought of it not without a certain satisfaction. He was
going to behold the Dnieper in its whole length, almost to the lower
country and the Cataracts; and for the warrior of that time it was a
sort of enchanted and mysterious land, to which every adventurous
spirit was drawn. Many a man had passed his whole life in the Ukraine,
and still was unable to say that he had seen the Saitch,--unless he
wished to join the Brotherhood, and there were fewer volunteers among
the nobility than formerly. The times of Samek Zborovski had passed
never to return. The break between the Saitch and the Commonwealth
which began in the time of Nalivaika and Pavlyuk had not lessened, but,
on the contrary, had increased continually; and the concourse of people
of family, not only Polish, but Russian, differing from the men of the
lower country neither in speech nor faith, had greatly decreased. Such
persons as the Bulygi Kurtsevichi did not find many imitators. In
general, nobles were forced into the Brotherhood at that time either by
misfortune or outlawry,--in a word, by offences which were inconvenient
for repentance. Therefore a certain mystery, impenetrable as the fogs
of the Dnieper, surrounded the predatory republic of the lower country.
Concerning it men related wonders, which Pan Yan was curious to see
with his own eyes. To tell the truth, he expected to come out of it
safely; for an envoy is an envoy, especially from Prince Yeremi.

While meditating in this fashion he gazed through the windows into the
square. Meanwhile one hour had followed another, when suddenly it
appeared to Pan Yan that he recognized a couple of figures going toward
the Bell-ringers' Corner to the wine-cellar of Dopula, the Wallachian.
He looked more carefully, and saw Zagloba with Bogun. They went arm in
arm, and soon disappeared in the dark doorway over which was the sign
denoting a drinking-place and a wine-shop.

The lieutenant was astonished at the presence of Bogun in Chigirin and
his friendship with Zagloba.

"Jendzian! are you here?" called he to his attendant.

Jendzian appeared in the doorway of the adjoining room.

"Listen to me, Jendzian! Go to the wine-shop where the sign hangs. You
will find a fat nobleman with a hole in his forehead there. Tell him
that some one wants to see him quickly. If he asks who it is, don't
tell him."

Jendzian hurried off, and in a short time Skshetuski saw him returning
in company with Zagloba.

"I welcome you," said Pan Yan, when the noble appeared in the door of
the room. "Do you remember me?"

"Do I remember you? May the Tartars melt me into tallow and make
candles of me for the mosques if I forget you! Some months ago you
opened the door at Dopula's with Chaplinski, which suited my taste
exactly, for in the selfsame way I got out of prison once in Stamboul.
And what is Pan Povsinoga, with the escutcheon Zervipludry, doing with
his innocence and his sword? Don't the sparrows always perch on his
head, taking him for a withered tree?"

"Pan Podbipienta is well, and asked to be remembered to you."

"He is a very rich man, but fearfully dull. If he should cut off three
heads like his own, it would be only a head and a half, for he would
cut off three half-heads. Pshaw! how hot it is, though it is only March
yet! The tongue dries up in one's throat."

"I have some excellent triple mead; maybe you would take a glass of

"It is a fool who refuses when a wise man offers. The barber has
enjoined me to drink mead to draw melancholy from my head. Troublesome
times for the nobility are approaching,--_dies iræ et calamitatis_.
Chaplinski is breathless from fear; he visits Dopula's no longer, for
the Cossack elders drink there. I alone set my forehead bravely against
danger, and keep company with those colonels, though their dignity
smells of tar. Good mead! really very excellent! Where do you get it?"

"I got this in Lubni. Are there many Cossack elders here?"

"Who is not here? Fedor Yakubovich, Old Filon Daidyalo, Danilo Nechai,
and their eye in the head, Bogun, who became my friend as soon as I
outdrank him and promised to adopt him. Chigirin is filled with the
odor of them. They are looking which way to turn, for they do not dare
yet to take the side of Hmelnitski openly. But if they do not declare
for him, it will be owing to me."

"How is that?"

"While drinking with them I bring them over to the Commonwealth and
argue them into loyalty. If the king does not give me a crown estate
for this, then believe me there is no justice in the Commonwealth, nor
reward for services; and in such a case it would be better to breed
chickens than to risk one's head _pro bono publico_."

"It would be better for you to risk your head fighting with them; but
it appears to me you are only throwing away your money for nothing in
treating them, for in that way you will never win them."

"I throw money away! For whom do you take me? Isn't it enough for me to
hobnob with trash, without paying their scores? I consider it a favor
that I allow them to pay mine."

"And that fellow Bogun, what is he doing here?"

"He? He keeps his ears open to hear reports from the Saitch, like the
rest. That is why he came here. He is the favorite of all the Cossacks.
They are after him like monkeys, for it is certain that the Pereyasláv
regiment will follow him, and not Loboda. And who knows, too, whom
Krechovski's registered Cossacks will follow? Bogun is a brother to the
men of the lower country when it is a question of attacking the Turks
or the Tartars; but this time he is calculating very closely, for he
confessed to me, in drink, that he was in love with a noblewoman, and
intended to marry her. On this account it would not befit him, on the
eve of marriage, to be a brother to slaves. He wishes, too, that I
should adopt him and give him my arms. That is very excellent triple

"Take another drink of it."

"I will, I will. They don't sell such mead as that behind

"You did not ask, perhaps, the name of the lady whom Bogun wants to

"Well, my dear sir, what do I care about her name? I know only that
when I put horns on Bogun, she will be Madame Deer. In my youthful
years I was a fellow of no ordinary beauty. Only let me tell you how I
carried off the palm of martyrdom in Galáts. You see that hole in my
forehead? It is enough for me to say that the eunuchs in the harem of
the local pasha made it."

"But you said the bullet of a robber made it."

"Did I? Then I told the truth; for every Turk is a robber, as God is my

Further conversation was interrupted by the entrance of

"Well, my dear lieutenant," said the old man, "the boats are ready, you
have trusty men for attendants; you can start, in God's name, this
moment, if you like. And here are the letters."

"Then I'll tell my people to be off for the shore at once."

"But where are you going?" asked Zagloba.

"To Kudák."

"It will be hot for you there."

The lieutenant did not hear his prophecy, for he went out of the room
into the court, where the Cossacks with horses were almost ready for
the road.

"To horse and to the shore!" commanded Pan Yan. "Put the horses on the
boats, and wait for me."

Meanwhile the old man said to Zagloba: "I hear that you court the
Cossack colonels, and drink with them."

"For the public good, most worthy standard-bearer."

"You have a nimble mind, but inclining rather to disgrace. You wish to
bring the Cossacks to your side in their cups, so they may befriend you
in case they win."

"Even if that were true, having been a martyr to the Turks, I do not
wish to become one to the Cossacks; and there is nothing wonderful in
that, for two mushrooms would spoil the best soup. And as to disgrace,
I ask no one to drink it with me,--I drink it alone; and God grant that
it taste no worse than this mead. Merit, like oil, must come to the

At that moment Skshetuski returned. "The men have started already,"
said he.

Zatsvilikhovski poured out a measure. "Here is to a pleasant journey!"

"And a return in health!" added Zagloba.

"You will have an easy journey, for the water is tremendous."

"Sit down, gentlemen, and drink the rest. It is not a large vessel."

They sat down and drank.

"You will see a curious country," said Zatsvilikhovski. "Greet Pan
Grodzitski in Kudák for me. Ah, that is a soldier! He lives at the end
of the world, far from the eyes of the hetman, and he maintains such
order that God grant its like might be in the whole Commonwealth. I
know Kudák and the Cataracts well. Years ago I used to travel there,
and there is gloom on the soul when one thinks of what is past and
gone; but now--"

Here the standard-bearer rested his milk-white head on his hand, and
fell into deep thought. A moment of silence followed, broken only by
the tramp of horses heard at the gate; for the rest of Skshetuski's men
were going to the boats at the shore.

"My God!" said Zatsvilikhovski, starting from his meditation; "and
there were better times formerly, though in the midst of turmoil. I
remember Khotím, twenty-seven years ago, as if it were to-day! When the
hussars under Lyubomirski moved to attack the janissaries, then the
Cossacks in the trenches threw up their caps and shouted to
Sahaidachny, till the earth trembled, 'Let us die with the Poles!' And
what do we see to-day? To-day the lower country, which should be the
first bulwark of Christendom, lets Tartars into the boundaries of the
Commonwealth, to fall upon them when they are returning with booty. It
is still worse; for Hmelnitski allies himself directly with Tartars,
with whom he will murder Christians."

"Let us drink by reason of this sorrow!" said Zagloba. "What triple
mead this is!"

"God grant me the grave as soon as possible!" said the old man,
continuing. "Mutual crimes will be washed out in blood, but not blood
of atonement, for here brother will murder brother. Who are in the
lower country? Russians. Who in the army of Prince Yeremi? Russians.
Who in the retinues of the magnates? Russians. And are there few of
them in the king's camp? And I myself,--who am I? Oh, unhappy Ukraine!
pagans of the Crimea will put the chain upon thy neck, and thou wilt
pull the oar in the galley of the Turk!"

"Grieve not so, worthy standard-bearer," said Pan Yan; "if you do,
tears will come to our eyes. A fair sun may shine upon us yet!"

In fact, the sun was going down that very moment, and its last rays
fell with a red gleam on the white hair of the old man. In the town the
bells began to ring "Ave Maria" and "Praise to God."

They left the house. Skshetuski went to the Polish church,
Zatsvilikhovski to the Russian, and Zagloba to Dopula's at the
Bell-ringers' Corner.

It was dark when they met again at the shore by the landing.
Skshetuski's men were sitting already in the boats. The ferrymen were
still carrying in packages. The cold wind blew from the neighboring
point where the river entered the Dnieper, and the night gave no
promise of being very pleasant. By the light of the fire burning on the
bank, the water of the river looked bloody, and seemed to be running
with immeasurable speed somewhere into the unknown gloom.

"Well, happy journey to you!" said the old man, pressing the
lieutenant's hand heartily; "but be careful of yourself!"

"I will neglect nothing. God grant us soon to meet!"

"Either in Lubni or the prince's camp."

"Then you will go without fail to the prince?"

Zatsvilikhovski shrugged his shoulders. "What am I to do? If there is
war, then war!"

"Be in good health."

"God guard you!"

"Vive, valeque!" said Zagloba. "And if the water bears you all the way
to Stamboul, then give my respects to the Sultan. Or rather, let the
devil take him! That was very respectable triple mead. Brr! how cold it

"Till we meet again!"

"Till we see each other!"

"May God conduct you!"

The oar creaked and plashed against the water, the boats moved on. The
fire burning on the shore began to recede quickly. For a long time
Skshetuski saw the gray form of the standard-bearer lighted up by the
flame of the fire, and a certain sadness pressed his heart. The water
is bearing him on, but far away from well-wishing hearts and from the
loved one; from known lands it is bearing him as mercilessly as fate,
but into wild places and into darkness.

They sailed through the mouth of the Tasma into the Dnieper. The wind
whistled; the oars plashed monotonously and sadly. The oarsmen began to

Skshetuski wrapped himself in a burka, and lay down on the bed which
the soldier had fixed for him. He began to think of Helena,--that she
was not yet in Lubni, that Bogun was behind, and he departing. Fear,
evil presentiments, care, besieged him like ravens. He began to
struggle with them, struggled till he was wearied; thoughts tormented
him; something wonderful was blended with the whistle of the wind, the
plash of the oars, and the songs of the oarsmen,--he fell asleep.

                              CHAPTER IX.

Next morning Pan Yan woke up fresh, in good health, and cheerful. The
weather was wonderful. The widely overflowed waters were wrinkled into
small ripples by the warm, light breeze. The banks were in a fog, and
were merged in the plain of waters in one indistinguishable level.

Jendzian, when he woke, rubbed his eyes and was frightened. He looked
around with astonishment, and seeing shore nowhere, cried out,--

"Oh, for God's sake! my master, we must be out on the sea."

"It is the swollen river, not the sea," answered Pan Yan; "you will
find the shores when the fog rises."

"I think we shall be travelling before long in the Turkish land."

"We shall travel there if we are ordered, but you see we are not
sailing alone."

And in the twinkle of an eye were to be seen many large boats and the
narrow Cossack craft, generally called chaiki, with bulrushes fastened
around them. Some of these were going down the river, borne on by the
swift current; others were being urged laboriously against the stream
with oars and sail. They were carrying fish, wax, salt, and dried
cherries to towns along the river, or returning from inhabited
neighborhoods laden with provisions for Kudák, and goods which found
ready sale in the bazaar at the Saitch. From the mouth of the Psel down
the banks of the Dnieper was a perfect desert, on which only here and
there wintering-posts of the Cossacks whitened. But the river formed a
highway connecting the Saitch with the rest of the world; therefore
there was a considerable movement on it, especially when the increase
of water made it easy for vessels, and when the Cataracts, with the
exception of Nenasytets, were passable for craft going with the

The lieutenant looked with curiosity at that life on the river.
Meanwhile his boats were speeding on quickly to Kudák. The fog rose,
and the shore appeared in clear outline. Over the heads of the
travellers flew millions of water-birds,--pelicans, wild geese, storks,
ducks, gulls, curlews, and mews. In the reeds at the side of the river
was heard such an uproar, such a plashing of water, such a sound of
wings, that you would have said there was either a war or a council of
birds. Beyond Kremenchug the shores became lower and open.

"Oh, look, my master!" cried Jendzian, suddenly; "the sun is roasting,
but snow lies on the fields."

Skshetuski looked, and indeed on both sides of the river, as far as the
eye could reach, some kind of a white covering glittered in the rays of
the sun.

"Hallo! what is that which looks white over there?" asked he of the

"Cherry-trees!" answered the old man.

In fact there were forests of dwarf cherry-trees, with which both
shores were covered from beyond the mouth of the Psel. In autumn the
sweet and large fruit of these trees furnished food to birds and
beasts, as well as to people losing their way in the Wilderness. This
fruit was also an article of commerce which was taken in boats to Kieff
and beyond. When they went to the shore, to give the oarsmen time to
rest, the lieutenant landed with Jendzian, wishing to examine the
bushes more closely. The two men were surrounded by such an
intoxicating odor that they were scarcely able to breathe. Many
branches were lying on the ground. In places an impenetrable thicket
was formed. Among the cherry-trees were growing, also luxuriantly,
small wild almond-trees covered with rose-colored blossoms, which gave
out a still more pungent odor. Myriads of black bees and yellow bees,
with many-colored butterflies, were flitting over this variegated sea
of blossoms, the end of which could not be seen.

"Oh, this is wonderful, wonderful!" said Jendzian. "And why do not
people live here? I see plenty of wild animals too."

Among the cherry-trees gray and white rabbits were running, and
countless flocks of large blue-legged quails, some of which Jendzian
shot; but to his great distress he learned from the pilot that their
flesh was poisonous. On the soft earth tracks of deer and wild goats
were to be seen, and from afar came sounds like the grunting of wild

When the travellers had sated their eyes and rested, they pushed on
farther. The shores were now high, now low, disclosing views of fine
oak forests, fields, mounds, and spacious steppes. The surrounding
country seemed so luxuriant that Skshetuski involuntarily repeated to
himself the question of Jendzian: "Why do not people live here?" But
for this there was need of some second Yeremi Vishnyevetski to occupy
those desert places, bring them to order, and defend them from attacks
of Tartars and men from the lower country. At points the river made
breaches and bends, flooded ravines, struck its foaming wave against
cliffs on the shore, and filled with water dark caverns in the rocks.
In such caverns and bends were the hiding-places and retreats of the
Cossacks. The mouths of rivers were covered with forests of rushes,
reeds, and plants, which were black from the multitude of birds; in a
word, a wild region, precipitous, in places sunken, but waste and
mysterious, unrolled itself before the eyes of our travellers. Movement
on the water became disagreeable; for by reason of the heat swarms of
mosquitoes and insects unknown in the dry steppe appeared,--some of
them as large as a man's finger, and whose bite caused blood to flow in
a stream.

In the evening they arrived at the island of Romanovka, the fires of
which were visible from a distance, and there they remained for the
night. The fishermen who had hurried up to look at the escort of the
lieutenant had their shirts, their faces, and their hands entirely
covered with tar to save them from insect bites. These were men of rude
habits and wild. In spring they assembled here in crowds to catch and
dry fish, which afterward they took to Chigirin, Cherkasi, Pereyasláv,
and Kieff. Their occupation was difficult, but profitable, by reason of
the multitude of fish that in the summer became a misfortune to that
region; for, dying from lack of water in the bays and so-called "quiet
corners," they infected the air with putrefaction.

The lieutenant learned that all the Zaporojians occupied there in
fishing had left the island some days before and returned at the call
of the koshevoi ataman. Every night, too, from the island were seen
fires kindled on the steppe by people hastening to the Saitch. The
fishermen knew that an expedition against the Poles was in preparation,
and they made no secret of this from the lieutenant. Skshetuski saw
that his journey might indeed be too late; perhaps before he could
reach the Saitch the Cossack regiments would be moving to the north;
but he had been ordered to go, and like a true soldier he did not
argue, but resolved to push on, even to the centre of the Zaporojian

Early next morning they kept on their way. They passed the wonderful
Tarenski Corner, Sukhaya Gora, and Konski Ostrog, famous for its swamps
and myriads of insects, which rendered it unfit for habitation.
Everything about them--the wildness of the region, the increased rush
of the water--announced the vicinity of the Cataracts. At last the
tower of Kudák was outlined on the horizon; the first part of their
journey was ended.

The lieutenant, however, did not reach the castle that night; for Pan
Grodzitski had established the order that after the change of guard,
just before sunset, no one would be permitted to enter the fortress or
leave it. Even if the king himself were to arrive after that hour, he
would be obliged to pass the night in the village under the walls of
the castle.

And this is what the lieutenant did. His lodgings were not very
commodious; for the cabins in the village, of which there were about
sixty, built of clay, were so small that it was necessary to crawl into
some of them on hands and knees. It was not worth while to build any
other; for the fortress reduced them to ruins at every Tartar attack,
so as not to give the assailants shelter or safe approach to the walls.
In that village dwelt "incomers,"--that is, wanderers from Poland,
Russia, the Crimea, and Wallachia. Almost every man had a faith of his
own, but of that no one raised a question. They cultivated no land
because of danger from the horde. They lived on fish and grain brought
from the Ukraine; they drank spirits distilled from millet, and worked
at handicraft for which they were esteemed at Kudák.

The lieutenant was scarcely able to close his eyes that night from the
odor of horse-skins, of which straps were made in the village. Next
morning at daybreak, as soon as the bell rang and the tattoo was
sounded, he gave notice at the fortress that an envoy of the prince had

Grodzitski, who had the visit of the prince fresh in mind, went out to
meet him in person. He was a man fifty years of age, one-eyed like a
Cyclops, sullen; for, seated in a desert at the end of the world and
not seeing people, he had become wild, and in exercising unlimited
power had grown stern and harsh. Besides, his face was pitted with
small-pox, and adorned with sabre-cuts and scars from Tartar arrows,
like white spots on a tawny skin. But he was a genuine soldier,
watchful as a stork; he kept his eye strained in the direction of
Tartars and Cossacks. He drank only water, and slept but seven hours in
twenty-four; often he would spring up in the night to see if the guards
were watching the walls properly, and for the least carelessness
condemned soldiers to death. Though terrible, he was indulgent to the
Cossacks, and acquired their respect. When in winter they were short of
provisions in the Saitch, he helped them with grain. He was a Russian
like those who in their day campaigned in the steppes with Psheslav,
Lantskoronski, and Samek Zborovski.

"Then you are going to the Saitch?" asked he of Skshetuski, conducting
him first to the castle and treating him hospitably.

"To the Saitch. What news have you from there?"

"War! The koshevoi ataman is concentrating the Cossacks from all the
meadows, streams, and islands. Fugitives are coming from the Ukraine,
whom I stop when I can. There are thirty thousand men or more in the
Saitch at present. When they move on the Ukraine and when the town
Cossacks and the crowd join them, there will be a hundred thousand."

"And Hmelnitski?"

"He is looked for every day from the Crimea with the Tartars; he may
have come already. To tell the truth, it is not necessary for you to go
to the Saitch; in a little while you will see them here, for they will
not avoid Kudák, nor leave it behind them."

"But will you defend yourself?"

Grodzitski looked gloomily at the lieutenant and said with a calm,
emphatic voice: "I will not defend myself."

"How is that?"

"I have no powder. I sent twenty boats for even a little; none has been
sent me. I don't know whether the messengers were intercepted or
whether there is none. I only know that so far none has come. I have
powder for two weeks,--no longer. If I had powder enough, I should blow
Kudák and myself into the air before a Cossack foot should enter. I am
commanded to lie here,--I lie; commanded to watch,--I watch; commanded
to be defiant,--I am defiant; and if it comes to dying, since my mother
gave me birth, I shall know how to die too."

"And can't you make powder yourself?"

"For two months the Cossacks have been unwilling to let me have
saltpetre, which must be brought from the Black Sea. No matter! if need
be I will die!"

"We can all learn of you old soldiers. And if you were to go for the
powder yourself?"

"I will not and cannot leave Kudák; here was life for me, let my death
be here. Don't you think, either, that you are going to banquets and
lordly receptions, like those with which they welcome envoys in other
places, or that the office of envoy will protect you there. They kill
their own atamans; and since I have been here I don't remember that any
of them has died a natural death. And you will perish also."

Skshetuski was silent.

"I see that your courage is dying out; you would better not go."

"My dear sir," said the lieutenant, angrily, "think of something more
fitted to frighten me, for I have heard what you have told me ten
times, and if you counsel me not to go I shall see that in my place you
would not go. Consider, therefore, if powder is the only thing you
need, and not bravery too, in the defence of Kudák."

Grodzitski, instead of growing angry, looked with clear eyes at the

"You are a biting dog!" muttered he in Russian. "Pardon me. From your
answer I see that you are able to uphold the dignity of the prince and
the rank of noble. I'll give you a couple of Cossack boats, for with
your own you will not be able to pass the Cataracts."

"I wished to ask you for them."

"At Nenasytets you will have them drawn overland; for although the
water is deep, it is never possible to pass,--scarcely can some kind of
small boat slip through. And when you are on the lower waters guard
against surprise, and remember that iron and lead are more eloquent
than words. There they respect none but the daring. The boats will be
ready in the morning; but I will order a second rudder to be put on
each, for one is not enough on the Cataracts."

Grodzitski now conducted the lieutenant from the room, to show him the
fortress and its arrangements. It was a model of order and discipline
throughout. Night and day guards standing close to one another watched
the walls, which Tartar captives were forced to strengthen and repair

"Every year I add one ell to the height of the walls," said Grodzitski,
"and they are now so strong that if I had powder enough even a hundred
thousand men could do nothing against me; but without ammunition I
can't defend myself when superior force appears."

The fortress was really impregnable; for besides the guns it was
defended by the precipices of the Dnieper and inaccessible cliffs
rising sheer from the water, and did not require a great garrison.
Therefore there were not more than six hundred men in the fortress; but
they were the very choicest soldiers, armed with muskets. The Dnieper,
flowing in that place in a compressed bed, was so narrow that an arrow
shot from the walls went far on to the other bank. The guns of the
fortress commanded both shores and the whole neighborhood. Besides,
about two miles and a half from the fortress was a lofty tower, from
which everything was visible for forty miles around, and in which were
one hundred soldiers whom Pan Grodzitski visited every day. Whenever
they saw people in the neighborhood they gave signal to the fortress
immediately, the alarm was rung, and the whole garrison stood under
arms at once.

"In truth," said Grodzitski, "there is no week without an alarm; for
the Tartars, sometimes several thousands strong, wander around like
wolves. We strike them as well as we can with the guns, and many times
wild horses are mistaken for Tartars."

"And are you not weary of living in such a wild place?" asked

"Even if a place were given me in the chambers of the king, I would not
take it. I see more of the world from this place than the king does
from his windows in Warsaw."

In truth, from the walls an immense stretch of steppes was to be seen,
which at that time seemed one sea of green,--to the north the mouth of
the Samara; and on the south the whole bank of the Dnieper, rocks,
precipices, forests, as far as the foam of the second Cataract, the

Toward evening they visited the tower again, since Skshetuski, seeing
for the first time that fortress in the steppe, was curious about
everything. Meanwhile in the village boats were being prepared for him,
which, provided with rudders at both ends, could be turned more easily.
He was to start early in the morning; yet during the night he did not
lie down to sleep at all, but pondered what was to be done in face of
the inevitable destruction with which his mission to the terrible
Saitch was threatened. Life smiled on him indeed; for he was young and
in love, and a future at the side of a loved one was promised him.
Still honor and glory were dearer. But he remembered that war was near;
that Helena, waiting for him in Rozlogi, might be seized by the most
terrible misfortune,--exposed to the violence, not of Bogun alone, but
of the wild and unbridled mob. Alarm for her and pain had seized his
spirits. The steppes must have become dry already; it was surely
possible to go from Rozlogi to Lubni. But he had told Helena and the
old princess to wait for him; for he had not expected that the storm
would burst so soon, he did not know the danger in the journey to the
Saitch. He walked therefore with quick steps in his room in the
fortress, twisted his beard, and wrung his hands. What was he to do?
How was he to act? In his mind he saw Rozlogi already in flames,
surrounded by a howling mob, more like devils than men. His own steps
were answered by a gloomy echo under the vault of the castle; and it
seemed to him that an evil power was already approaching Helena. On the
walls the quenching of the lights was signalled, and that seemed to him
the echo of Bogun's horn. He gnashed his teeth, and grasped after the
hilt of his sword. Oh! why did he insist on this expedition, and get it
away from Bykhovets?

Jendzian, who was sleeping on the threshold, noticed the change in his
master, rose therefore, wiped his eyes, snuffed the torch burning in
the iron candlestick, and began to walk around in the room, wishing to
arrest the attention of his master.

But the lieutenant, buried completely in his own painful thoughts, kept
walking on, rousing with his steps the slumbering echoes.

"Oh, my master!" said Jendzian.

Skshetuski gazed at him with a glassy look. Suddenly he woke up from
his revery.

"Jendzian, are you afraid of death?" asked he.

"How death? What are you saying?"

"For who goes to the Saitch does not return."

"Then why do you go?"

"That is my affair; do not meddle with it. But I am sorry for you; you
are a stripling, and though a cunning fellow, cunning cannot save you
in the Saitch. Return to Chigirin, and then to Lubni."

Jendzian began to scratch his head.

"My master, I fear death; for whoever would not fear death would not
fear God; for it is his will either to keep a man alive or to put him
to death. But if you run to death of your own will, then it is your sin
as a master, not mine as a servant. I will not leave you; for I am not
a serf, but a nobleman; though poor, still I am not without pride."

"I see that you are a good fellow; but I will tell you, if you do not
wish to go willingly, you will go by command, since it cannot be

"Though you were to kill me, I will not go. Do you think that I am a
Judas, to give you up to death?"

Here Jendzian raised his hands to his eyes, and began to sob audibly.
Skshetuski saw that he could not reach him in that way, and he did not
wish to command him threateningly, for he was sorry for the lad.

"Listen!" said he to him. "You can give me no assistance, and I shall
not put my head under the sword voluntarily. You will take letters to
Rozlogi, which are of more importance to me than my own life. You will
tell the old princess to take the young lady to Lubni at once, without
the least delay, otherwise rebellion will catch them; and do you watch
to see they go. I give you an important mission, worthy of a friend,
not a servant."

"You can send somebody else with the letter,--anybody will go."

"And what trusted person have I here? Have you lost your senses? I
repeat to you: Doubly save my life, and still you do not wish to render
me such service, while I am living in torment, thinking what may
happen, and my skin is sweating from pain."

"Well, as God lives, I see I must go! But I grieve for you; so if you
were even to give me that spotted belt, I should take no comfort in it
at all."

"You shall have the belt; but do your work well."

"I do not want the belt, if you will only let me go with you."

"To-morrow you will return with the boat which Pan Grodzitski is
sending to Chigirin. From there you will go, without delay or rest,
straight to Rozlogi. Here is a purse for the road. I will write letters

Jendzian fell at the feet of the lieutenant, "Oh, my master, shall I
never see you again?"

"As God gives, as God gives," said Skshetuski, raising him up. "But
show a glad face in Rozlogi. Now go to sleep."

The remainder of the night passed for Skshetuski in writing letters and
ardent prayer, after which the angel of rest came to him. Meanwhile the
night was growing pale; light whitened the narrow windows from the
east; day was coming. Then rosy gleams stole into the room; on the
tower and fortress they began to play the morning "tattoo." Shortly
after Grodzitski appeared in the room.

"The boats are ready."

"And I am ready," said Skshetuski, calmly.

                               CHAPTER X.

The swift boats bearing the knight and his fortunes shot down the
current with the speed of swallows. By reason of high water the
Cataracts presented no great danger. They passed Surski and Lokhanny; a
lucky wave threw them over the Voronoff bar; the boats grated a little
on the Knyaji and Streletski, but they were scratched, not broken. At
length they beheld in the distance the foaming and whirling of the
terrible Nenasytets. There they were obliged to land and drag the boats
along the shore,--a tedious and difficult labor, usually occupying an
entire day. Fortunately a great many blocks, apparently left by
previous travellers, lay along the whole way; these were placed under
the boats to ease them over the ground. In all the region about and on
the steppes not a living soul was to be seen, nor a single boat; for
none could sail to the Saitch excepting those alone whom Pan Grodzitski
permitted to pass Kudák, and Pan Grodzitski cut off the Zaporojie from
the rest of the world on purpose. Only the splash of the waves on the
cliff of Nenasytets broke the silence.

While the men were dragging the boats, Skshetuski examined this wonder
of Nature. An awful sight met his eyes. Through the entire width of the
river extended crosswise seven rocky ridges, jutting out above the
water, black, rent by waves which broke through them gaps and passages
after their fashion. The river pressed with the whole weight of its
waters against those ridges, and was broken on them; then wild and
raging, lashed into white foaming pulp, it sought to spring over like
an infuriated horse, but, pushed back again before it could sweep
through the passage, it seemed to gnaw the rocks with its teeth, making
enormous circles in impotent wrath; it leaped up toward the sky, raging
like a monster, panting like a wild beast in pain. And then again a
roar from it as from a hundred cannon, howls as from whole packs of
wolves, wheezing, struggling, and at every ridge the same conflict.
Over the abyss were heard screams of birds, as if terrified by the
sight. Between the ridges the gloomy shadows of the cliff quivered like
spirits of evil.

The men, though accustomed to the place, crossed themselves devoutly
while dragging the boats, warning the lieutenant not to approach too
near the shore; for there were traditions that whoever should gaze too
long on Nenasytets would at last see something at which his mind would
be disturbed. They asserted, also, that at times there rose from the
whirlpool long black hands which caught the unwary who approached too
near, and then terrible laughter was heard through the precipices. The
Zaporojians did not dare to drag boats along in the night-time.

No man could be received into the Brotherhood of the Saitch who had not
crossed the Cataracts alone in a boat; but an exception was made of
Nenasytets, since its rocks were never under water. Of Bogun alone
blind minstrels sang as if he had stolen through Nenasytets; still
belief was not given to the song.

The transfer of the boats occupied nearly all the day, and the sun had
begun to set when the lieutenant resumed his place in the boat. But to
make up for this the succeeding Cataracts were crossed with ease, for
the rocks were covered entirely, and after that they sailed out into
the quiet waters of the lower country.

Along the way Skshetuski saw on the field of Kuchkasi the enormous
mound of white stone raised at command of Prince Yeremi as a memorial
of his visit, and of which Pan Boguslav Mashkevich had spoken in Lubni.
From there it was not far to the Saitch. But the lieutenant did not
wish to enter the Chertomelik labyrinth in the dark; he determined
therefore to pass the night at Hortitsa.

He wished to meet some Zaporojians and announce himself, so that it
should be known that an envoy and no one else was coming. Hortitsa,
however, appeared to be empty; which surprised the lieutenant not a
little, for he had learned from Grodzitski that a Cossack garrison was
always stationed there against Tartar attacks. He went himself with
some of the men a considerable distance from the shore to reconnoitre;
but he could not go over the whole island, for it was more than five
miles long, and the night was coming down dark and not very clear. He
returned then to the boats, which meanwhile had been dragged up on the
sand, and a fire had been made as protection against mosquitoes.

The greater part of the night passed quietly. The Cossacks and the
guides slept by the fire. Only the guards were awake, and the
lieutenant, who had been tormented by a terrible sleeplessness since he
left Kudák. He felt also that fever was wearing him. At times he
fancied he heard steps approaching from the interior of the island,
then again certain strange sounds like the distant bleating of goats.
But he thought that his hearing deceived him. Suddenly, when it was
near daybreak, a dark figure stood before him. It was a servant from
the guard.

"People are coming!" said he, hastily.

"Who are they?"

"Undoubtedly Zaporojians. There are forty of them."

"Very well. That is not a great number. Rouse the men! Stir the fire!"

The Cossacks sprang to their feet at once. The replenished fire blazed
high, and lighted the boats and the handful of soldiers under the
lieutenant. The guards ran up also to the circle.

Meanwhile the irregular steps of a crowd became distinctly audible. The
steps stopped at a certain distance. Immediately some voice inquired in
threatening accents,--

"Who is on shore?"

"And who are you?" answered the sergeant.

"Answer, son of the enemy! if not, we will inquire with a musket."

"His Highness, the envoy of Prince Yeremi Vishnyevetski, going to the
koshevoi ataman," said the sergeant, with emphasis.

The voices in the crowd were silent; evidently there was a short

"But come here yourself," cried the sergeant; "don't be afraid! People
do not fall upon envoys, and envoys do not attack."

Steps were heard again, and after a while a number of figures came out
of the shadow. By the swarthy complexion, low stature, and skin coats
with wool outside, the lieutenant knew from the first glance that most
of them were Tartars; there were only a few Cossacks among them. The
idea flashed like lightning through Skshetuski's brain that if the
Tartars were in Hortitsa Hmelnitski had returned from the Crimea.

In front of the crowd stood an old Zaporojian of gigantic size, with a
wild and savage face. Approaching the fire, he asked,--

"Who is the envoy here?" A strong smell of spirits came from him; the
Zaporojian was evidently drunk. "Who is envoy here?" repeated he.

"I am," said Skshetuski, haughtily.


"Am I a brother to thee that thou sayest 'Thou' to me?"

"Learn politeness, you ruffian!" interrupted the sergeant. "You must
say, 'Serene great mighty lord envoy.'"

"Destruction to you, devils' sons! May the death of Serpyagoff strike
you, serene great mighty sons! And what business have you with the

"It is not thy affair! Know only that thy life depends upon my reaching
the ataman as quickly as possible."

At that moment another Zaporojian came out from the crowd.

"We are here at the command of the ataman," said he, "on guard so that
no one from the Poles may approach; and if any man approaches, we are
to bind him and deliver him bound, and we will do that."

"Whoever goes voluntarily, you will not bind."

"I will, for such is the order."

"Do you know, clown, what the person of an envoy means? Do you know
whom I represent?"

Then the old giant interrupted: "We will lead in the envoy, but by the
beard,--in this fashion!"

Saying this, he reached his hand to the lieutenant's beard. But that
moment he groaned, and as if struck by lightning dropped to the earth.
The lieutenant had shivered his head with a battle-hammer.

"Slash! slash!" howled enraged voices from the crowd.

The Cossacks of the prince hurried to the rescue of their leader;
muskets roared. "Slash! slash!" was mingled with the clash of steel. A
regular battle began. The fire, trampled in the disturbance, went out,
and darkness surrounded the combatants. Soon both sides had grappled
each other so closely that there was no room for blows and knives;
fists and teeth took the place of sabres.

All at once, in the interior of the island, were heard numerous fresh
shouts and cries. Aid was coming to the attacking party. Another moment
and they would have come too late, for the disciplined Cossacks were
getting the upper hand of the crowd.

"To the boats!" cried the lieutenant, in a thundering voice.

The escort executed the command in a twinkle. Unfortunately the boats
had been dragged too far on the sand, and could not be pushed at once
into the water. That moment the enemy sprang furiously toward the

"Fire!" commanded Pan Yan.

A discharge of musketry restrained the assailants, who became confused,
crowded together, and retreated in disorder, leaving a number of bodies
stretched upon the sand. Some of these bodies squirmed convulsively,
like fish snatched from the water and thrown on shore.

The boatmen, assisted by a number of the Cossacks, planting their oars
in the ground, pushed with all their might to get the boats into the
water; but in vain.

The enemy began their attack from a distance. The splashing of balls on
the water was mingled with the whistling of arrows and the groans of
the wounded. The Tartars, shouting "Allah!" with increased shrillness,
urged one another on. The Cossack cries: "Cut! cut!" answered them; and
the calm voice of Skshetuski, repeating faster and faster the command,

The dawn was beginning to shine with pale light on the struggle. From
the land side was to be seen a crowd of Cossacks and Tartars, some with
their muskets held ready to aim, others stooping in the rear and
drawing their bowstrings; from the side of the water two boats smoking
and flashing with the continual discharges of musketry. Between them
lay bodies stretched quietly on the sand.

In one of these boats stood Pan Yan, taller than the others, haughty,
calm, with the lieutenant's staff in his hand and with uncovered
head,--for a Tartar arrow had swept away his cap. The sergeant
approached him and whispered,--

"We cannot hold out; the crowd is too great!"

But the lieutenant's only thought was to seal his mission with his
blood, to prevent the disgrace of his office, and to perish not without
glory. Therefore, when the Cossacks made a sort of breastwork for
themselves of the provision bags, from behind which they struck the
enemy, he remained visible and exposed to attack.

"Good!" said he; "we will die to the last man."

"We will die, father!" cried the Cossacks.


Again the boats smoked. From the interior of the island new crowds
came, armed with pikes and scythes. The assailants separated into two
parties. One party kept up the fire; the other, composed of more than
two hundred Cossacks and Tartars, only waited the proper moment for a
hand-to-hand encounter. At the same time from the reeds of the island
came out four boats, which were to attack the lieutenant from the rear
and from both sides.

It was clear daylight now. The smoke stretched out in long streaks in
the quiet air, and covered the scene of conflict.

The lieutenant commanded his twenty Cossacks to turn to the attacking
boats, which, pushed with oars, moved on swiftly as birds over the
quiet water of the river. The fire directed against the Tartars and
Cossacks approaching from the interior of the island, was notably
weakened on that account. They seemed, too, to expect this.

The sergeant approached the lieutenant again.

"The Tartars are taking their daggers between their teeth; they will
rush on us this minute."

In fact, almost three hundred of the horde, with sabres in hand and
knives in their teeth, prepared for the attack. They were accompanied
by some tens of Zaporojians armed with scythes.

The attack was to begin from every direction, for the assailing boats
were within gunshot; their sides were already covered with smoke.

Bullets began to fall like hail on the lieutenant's men. Both boats
were filled with groans. In a few moments half of the Cossacks were
down; the remainder still defended themselves desperately. Their faces
were black, their hands wearied, their sight dim, their eyes full of
blood; their gun-barrels began to burn their hands. Most of them were

At that moment a terrible cry and howl rent the air. The Tartars rushed
to the attack.

The smoke, pushed by the movement of the mass of bodies, separated
suddenly and left exposed to the eye the two boats of the lieutenant
covered with a dark crowd of Tartars, like two carcasses of horses torn
by a pack of wolves. Some Cossacks resisted yet; and at the mast stood
Pan Yan, with bleeding face and an arrow sunk to the shaft in his left
shoulder, but defending himself furiously. His form was like that of a
giant in the crowd surrounding him. His sabre glittered like lightning;
groans and howls responded to his blows. The sergeant, with another
Cossack, guarded him on both sides; and the crowd swayed back at times
in terror before those three, but, urged from behind, pushed on, and
died under the blows of the sabre.

"Take them alive to the ataman!" was called out in the crowd.

But Skshetuski was surrendering only to God; for he grew pale in a
moment, tottered, and fell to the bottom of the boat.

"Farewell, father!" cried the sergeant, in despair.

But in a moment he fell also. The moving mass of assailants covered the
boats completely.

                              CHAPTER XI.

At the house of the inspector of weights and measures, in the outskirts
of Hassan Pasha, at the Saitch, sat two Zaporojians at a table,
fortifying themselves with spirits distilled from millet, which they
dipped unceasingly from a wooden tub that stood in the middle of the
table. One of them, already old and quite decrepit, was Philip Zakhar.
He was the inspector. The other, Anton Tatarchuk, ataman of the
Chigirin kuren, was a man about forty years old, tall, with a wild
expression of face and oblique Tartar eyes. Both spoke in a low voice,
as if fearing that some one might overhear them.

"But it is to-day?" asked the inspector.

"Yes, almost immediately," answered Tatarchuk. "They are waiting for
the koshevoi and Tugai Bey, who went with Hmelnitski himself to
Bazaluk, where the horde is quartered. The Brotherhood is already
assembled on the square, and the kuren atamans will meet in council
before evening. Before night all will be known."

"It may have an evil end," muttered old Philip Zakhar.

"Listen, inspector! But did you see that there was a letter to me

"Of course I did, for I carried the letters myself to the koshevoi, and
I know how to read. Three letters were found on the Pole,--one to the
koshevoi himself, one to you, the third to young Barabash. Every one in
the Saitch knows of this already."

"And who wrote? Don't you know?"

"The prince wrote to the koshevoi, for his seal was on the letter; who
wrote to you is unknown."

"God guard us!"

"If they don't call you a friend of the Poles openly, nothing will come
of it."

"God guard us!" repeated Tatarchuk.

"It is evident that you have something on your mind."

"Pshaw! I have nothing on my mind."

"The koshevoi, too, may destroy all the letters, for his own head is
concerned. There was a letter to him as well as to you."

"He may."

"But if you have done anything, then--" here the old inspector lowered
his voice still more--"go away!"

"But how and where?" asked Tatarchuk, uneasily. "The koshevoi has
placed guards on all the islands, so that no one may escape to the
Poles and let them know what is going on. The Tartars are on guard at
Bazaluk. A fish couldn't squeeze through, and a bird couldn't fly

"Then hide in the Saitch, wherever you can."

"They will find me,--unless you hide me among the barrels in the
bazaar? You are my relative."

"I wouldn't hide my own brother. If you are afraid of death, then
drink; you won't feel it when you are drunk."

"Maybe there is nothing in the letters."


"Here is misfortune, misfortune!" said Tatarchuk. "I don't feel that I
have done anything. I am a good fellow, an enemy to the Poles. But
though there is nothing in the letter, the devil knows what the Pole
may say at the council. He may ruin me."

"He is a severe man; he won't say anything."

"Have you seen him to-day?"

"Yes; I rubbed his wounds with tar, I poured spirits and ashes into his
throat. He will be all right. He is an angry fellow! They say that at
Hortitsa he slaughtered the Tartars like swine, before they captured
him. Set your mind at rest about the Pole."

The sullen sound of the kettledrums which were beaten on the Koshevoi's
Square interrupted further conversation. Tatarchuk, hearing the sound,
shuddered and sprang to his feet. Excessive fear was expressed by his
face and movements.

"They are beating the summons to council," said he, catching his
breath. "God save us! And you, Philip, don't speak of what we have been
saying here. God save us!"

Having said this, Tatarchuk, seizing the tub with the liquor, brought
it to his mouth with both hands, and drank,--drank as though he wished
to drink himself to death.

"Let us go!" said the inspector.

The sound of the drums came clearer and clearer.

They went out. The field of Hassan Pasha was separated from the square
by a rampart surrounding the encampment proper, and by a gate with
lofty towers on which were seen the muzzles of cannon fixed there. In
the middle of the field stood the house of the inspector of weights and
measures, and the cabins of the shop atamans, and around a rather large
space were shops in which goods were stored. These shops were in
general wretched structures made of oak planks, which Hortitsa
furnished in abundance, fastened together with twigs and reeds. The
cabins, not excepting that of the inspector, were mere huts, for only
the roofs were raised above the ground. The roofs were black and
smoked; for when there was fire in the cabin the smoke found exit, not
only through the smoke-hole, but through every cranny in the roof, and
one might suppose that it was not a cabin at all, but a pile of
branches and reeds covering a tar-pit. No daylight entered these
cabins; therefore a fire of pitch pine and oak chips was kept up. The
shops, a few dozen in number, were divided into camp-shops which
belonged to individual camps, and those of strangers in which during
time of peace Tartars and Wallachians traded,--the first in skins,
Eastern fabrics, arms, and every kind of booty; the second, chiefly in
wine. But the shops for strangers were rarely occupied, since in that
wild nest trade was changed most frequently to robbery, from which
neither the inspectors nor the shop atamans could restrain the crowds.

Among the shops stood also thirty-eight camp-drinking shops; and before
them always lay, on the sweepings, shavings, oak-sticks, and heaps of
horse-manure, Zaporojians, half dead from drinking,--some sunk in a
stony sleep; others with foam in their mouths, in convulsions or
delirium-tremens; others half drunk, howling Cossack songs, spitting,
striking, kissing, cursing Cossack fate or weeping over Cossack sorrow,
walking upon the heads and breasts of those lying around. Only during
expeditions against the Tartars or the upper country was sobriety
enforced, and at such times those who took part in an expedition were
punished with death for drunkenness. But in ordinary times, and
especially in the bazaar, all were drunk,--the inspector, the camp
ataman, the buyers, and the sellers. The sour smell of unrectified
spirits, mixed with the odor of tar, fish, smoke, and horse-hides,
filled the air of the whole place, which in general, by the variety of
its shops, reminded one of some little Turkish or Tartar town.
Everything was for sale that at any time had been seized as plunder in
the Crimea, Wallachia, or on the shores of Anatolia,--bright fabrics of
the East, satins, brocades, velvets, cotton cloths, ticking, linen,
iron and brass guns, skins, furs, dried fish, cherries, Turkish
sweetmeats, church vessels, brass crescents taken from minarets, gilded
crosses torn from churches, powder and sharp weapons, spear-staffs, and
saddles. In that mixture of objects and colors moved about people
dressed in remnants of the most varied garments, in the summer
half-naked, always half-wild, discolored with smoke, black, rolled in
mud, covered with wounds, bleeding from the bites of gigantic gnats
which hovered in myriads over Chertomelik, and eternally drunk, as has
been stated above.

At that moment the whole of Hassan Pasha was more crowded with people
than usual; the shops and drinking-places were closed, and all were
hastening to the Square of the Saitch, on which the council was to be
held. Philip Zakhar and Anton Tatarchuk went with the others; but
Tatarchuk loitered, and allowed the crowd to precede him. Disquiet grew
more and more evident on his face. Meanwhile they crossed the bridge
over the fosse, passed the gate, and found themselves on the broad
fortified square, surrounded by thirty-eight large wooden structures.
These were the kurens, or rather the buildings of the kurens,--a kind
of military barracks in which the Cossacks lived. These kurens were
of one structure and measure, and differed in nothing unless in the
names, borrowed from the various towns of the Ukraine from which the
regiments also took their names. In one corner of the square stood the
council-house, in which the atamans used to sit under the presidency of
the koshevoi. The crowd, or the so-called "Brotherhood," deliberated
under the open sky, sending deputations every little while, and
sometimes bursting in by force to the council-house and terrorizing
those within.

The throng was already enormous on the square, for the ataman had
recently assembled at the Saitch all the warriors scattered over the
islands, streams, and meadows; therefore the Brotherhood was more
numerous than on ordinary occasions. Since the sun was near its
setting, a number of tar-barrels had been ignited already; and here and
there were kegs of spirits which every kuren had set out for itself,
and which added no small energy to the deliberations. Order between the
kurens was maintained by the essauls, armed with heavy sticks to
restrain the councillors, and with pistols to defend their own lives,
which were frequently in danger.

Philip Zakhar and Tatarchuk went straight to the council-house; for one
as inspector, and the other as kuren ataman, had a right to a seat
among the elders. In the council-room there was but one small table,
before which sat the army secretary. The atamans and the koshevoi had
seats on skins by the walls; but at that hour their places were not yet
occupied. The koshevoi walked with great strides through the room; the
kuren atamans, gathering in small groups, conversed in low tones,
interrupted from time to time by more audible oaths. Tatarchuk,
noticing that his acquaintances and even friends pretended not to see
him, at once approached young Barabash, who was more or less in a
position similar to his own. Others looked at them with a scowl, to
which young Barabash paid no attention, not understanding well the
reason. He was a man of great beauty and extraordinary strength, thanks
to which he had the rank of kuren ataman. He was notorious throughout
the whole Saitch for his stupidity, which had gained him the nickname
of "Dunce Ataman" and the privilege of being laughed at by the elders
for every word he uttered.

"Wait awhile; maybe we shall go in the water with a stone around the
neck," whispered Tatarchuk to him.

"Why is that?" asked Barabash.

"Don't you know about the letters?"

"The plague take his mother! Have I written any letters?"

"See how they frown at us!"

"If I give it to one of them in the forehead, he won't look that way,
for his eyes will jump out."

Just then shouts from the outside announced that something had
happened. The doors of the council-house opened wide, and in came
Hmelnitski with Tugai Bey. They were the men greeted so joyfully. A few
months before Tugai Bey, as the most violent of the Tartars and the
terror of the men from below, was the object of extreme hatred in the
Saitch. Now the Brotherhood hurled their caps in the air at the sight
of him, as a good friend of Hmelnitski and the Zaporojians.

Tugai Bey entered first, and then Hmelnitski, with the baton in his
hand as hetman of the Zaporojian armies. He had held that office since
his return from the Crimea with reinforcements from the Khan. The crowd
at that time raised him in their hands, and bursting open the army
treasury, brought him the baton, the standard, and the seal which were
generally borne before the hetman. He had changed, too, not a little.
It was evident that he bore within himself the terrible power of the
whole Zaporojie. This was not Hmelnitski the wronged, fleeing to the
steppe through the Wilderness, but Hmelnitski the hetman, the spirit of
blood, the giant, the avenger of his own wrongs on millions of people.

Still he did not break the chains; he only imposed new and heavier
ones. This was evident from his relations with Tugai Bey. This hetman,
in the heart of the Zaporojie, took a place second to the Tartar, and
endured with submission Tartar pride and treatment contemptuous beyond
expression. It was the attitude of a vassal before his lord. But it had
to be so. Hmelnitski owed all his credit with the Cossacks to the
Tartars and the favor of the Khan, whose representative was the wild
and furious Tugai Bey. But Hmelnitski knew how to reconcile with
submission the pride which was bursting his own bosom, as well as to
unite courage with cunning; for he was a lion and a fox, an eagle and a
serpent. This was the first time since the origin of the Cossacks that
the Tartar had acted as master in the centre of the Saitch; but such
were the times that had come. The Brotherhood hurled their caps in the
air at sight of the Pagan. Such were the times that had been accepted.

The deliberations began. Tugai Bey sat down in the middle of the room
on a large bundle of skins, and putting his legs under him, began to
crack dry sunflower-seeds and spit out the husks in front of himself.
On his right side sat Hmelnitski, with the baton; on his left the
koshevoi; but the atamans and the deputation from the Brotherhood sat
farther away near the walls. Conversation had ceased; only from the
crowd outside, debating under the open sky, came a murmur and dull
sound like the noise of waves. Hmelnitski began to speak:--

"Gentlemen, with the favor, attention, and aid of the serene Tsar[8]
of the Crimea, the lord of many peoples and relative of the heavenly
hosts; with the permission of his Majesty the gracious King
Vladislav, our lord, and the hearty support of the brave Zaporojian
armies,--trusting in our innocence and the justice of God, we are going
to avenge the terrible and savage deeds of injustice which, while we
had strength, we endured like Christians, at the hands of the faithless
Poles, from commissioners, starostas, crown agents, from all the
nobility, and from the Jews. Over these deeds of injustice you,
gentlemen, and the whole Zaporojian army have shed many tears, and you
have given me this baton that I might find the speedy vindication of
our innocence and that of all our people. Esteeming this appointment as
a great favor from you, my well-wishers, I went to ask of the serene
Tsar that aid which he has given. But being ready and willing to move,
I was grieved not a little when I heard that there could be traitors in
the midst of us, entering into communication with the faithless Poles,
and informing them of our work. If this be true, then they are to be
punished according to your will and discretion. We ask you, therefore,
to listen to the letters brought from our enemy. Prince Vishnyevetski,
by an envoy who is not an envoy but a spy, who wants to note our
preparations and the good-will of Tugai Bey, our friend, so as to
report them to the Poles. And you are to decide whether he is to be
punished as well as those to whom he brought letters, and of whom the
koshevoi, as a true friend of me, of Tugai Bey, and of the whole army,
gave prompt notice."

Hmelnitski stopped. The tumult outside the windows increased every
moment. Then the army secretary began to read, first, the letter of the
prince to the koshevoi ataman, beginning with these words: "We, by the
grace of God, prince and lord in Lubni, Khorol, Pryluki, Gadyatch,
etc., voevoda in Russia, etc., starosta, etc." The letter was purely
official. The prince, having heard that forces were called in from the
meadows, asked the ataman if that were true, and summoned him at once
to desist from such action for the sake of peace in Christian lands;
and in case Hmelnitski disturbed the Saitch, to deliver him up to the
commissioners on their demand. The second letter was from Pan
Grodzitski, also to the chief ataman; the third and fourth from
Zatsvilikhovski and the old colonel of Cherkasi to Tatarchuk and
Barabash. In all these there was nothing that could bring the persons
to whom they were addressed into suspicion. Zatsvilikhovski merely
begged Tatarchuk to take the bearer of his letter in care, and to make
everything he might want easy for him.

Tatarchuk breathed more freely.

"What do you say, gentlemen, of these letters?" inquired Hmelnitski.

The Cossacks were silent. All their councils began thus, till liquor
warmed up their heads, since no one of the atamans wished to raise his
voice first. Being rude and cunning people, they did this principally
from a fear of being laughed at for folly, which might subject the
author of it to ridicule or give him a sarcastic nickname for the rest
of his life; for such was the condition in the Saitch, where amidst the
greatest rudeness the sense of the ridiculous and the dread of sarcasm
were wonderfully developed.

The Cossacks remained silent. Hmelnitski raised his voice again.

"The koshevoi ataman is our brother and sincere friend. I believe in
the koshevoi as I do in my own soul. And if any man were to speak
otherwise, I should consider him a traitor. The koshevoi is our old
friend and a soldier."

Having said this, he rose to his feet and kissed the koshevoi.

"Gentlemen," said the koshevoi, in answer, "I bring the forces
together, and let the hetman lead them. As to the envoy, since they
sent him to me, he is mine; and I make you a present of him."

"You, gentlemen of the delegation, salute the koshevoi," said
Hmelnitski, "for he is a just man, and go to inform the Brotherhood
that if there is a traitor, he is not the man; he first stationed a
guard, he gave the order to seize traitors escaping to the Poles. Say,
gentlemen, that the koshevoi is not the traitor, that he is the best of
us all."

The deputies bowed to their girdles before Tugai Bey, who chewed his
sunflower-seeds the whole time with the greatest indifference; then
they bowed to Hmelnitski and the koshevoi, and went out of the room.

After a while joyful shouts outside the windows announced that the
deputies had accomplished their task.

"Long life to our koshevoi! long life to our koshevoi!" shouted hoarse
voices, with such power that the walls of the building seemed to
tremble to their foundations.

At the same time was heard the roar of guns and muskets. The deputies
returned and took their seats again in the corner of the room.

"Gentlemen," said Hmelnitski, after quiet had come in some degree
outside the windows, "you have decided wisely that the koshevoi is a
just man. But if the koshevoi is not a traitor, who is the traitor? Who
has friends among the Poles, with whom do they come to an
understanding, to whom do they write letters, to whom do they confide
the person of an envoy? Who is the traitor?"

While saying this, Hmelnitski raised his voice more and more, and
directed his ominous looks toward Tatarchuk and young Barabash, as if
he wished to point them out expressly.

A murmur rose in the room; a number of voices began to cry, "Barabash
and Tatarchuk!" Some of the kuren atamans stood up in their places, and
among the deputies was heard the cry, "To destruction!"

Tatarchuk grew pale, and young Barabash began to look with astonished
eyes at those present. His slow mind struggled for a time to discover
what was laid to his charge; at length he said,--

"The dog won't eat meat!"

Then he burst out into idiotic laughter, and after him others. And all
at once the majority of the kuren atamans began to laugh wildly, not
knowing themselves why. From outside the windows came shouts, louder
and louder; it was evident that liquor had begun to heat their brains.
The sound of the human wave rose higher and higher.

But Anton Tatarchuk rose to his feet, and turning to Hmelnitski, began
to speak:--

"What have I done to you, most worthy hetman of the Zaporojie, that you
insist on my death? In what am I guilty before you? The commissioner
Zatsvilikhovski has written a letter to me,--what of that? So has the
prince written to the koshevoi. Have I received a letter? No! And if I
had received it, what should I do with it? I should go to the secretary
and ask to have it read; for I do not know how to write or to read. And
you would always know what was in the letter. The Pole I don't know by
sight. Am I a traitor, then? Oh, brother Zaporojians! Tatarchuk went
with you to the Crimea; when you went to Wallachia, he went to
Wallachia; when you went to Smolensk, he went to Smolensk,--he fought
with you, brave men, lived with you, and shed his blood with you, was
dying of hunger with you; so he is not a Pole, not a traitor, but a
Cossack,--your own brother; and if the hetman insists on his death, let
the hetman say why he insists. What have I done to him? In what have I
shown my falsehood? And do you, brothers, be merciful, and judge

"Tatarchuk is a brave fellow! Tatarehuk is a good man!" answered
several voices.

"You, Tatarchuk, are a brave fellow," said Hmelnitski; "and I do not
persecute you, for you are my friend, and not a Pole,--a Cossack, our
brother. If a Pole were the traitor, then I should not be grieved,
should not weep; but if a brave fellow is the traitor, my friend the
traitor, then my heart is heavy, and I am grieved. Since you were in
the Crimea and in Wallachia and at Smolensk, then the offence is the
greater; because now you were ready to inform the Poles of the
readiness and wishes of the Zaporojian army. The Poles wrote to you to
make it easy for their man to get what he wanted; and tell me, worthy
atamans, what could a Pole want? Is it not my death and the death of my
good friend Tugai Bey? Is it not the destruction of the Zaporojian
army? Therefore you, Tatarchuk, are guilty; and you cannot show
anything else. And to Barabash his uncle the colonel of Cherkasi
wrote,--his uncle, a friend to Chaplinski, a friend to the Poles, who
secreted in his house the charter of rights, so the Zaporojian army
should not obtain it. Since it is this way,--and I swear, as God lives,
that it is no other way,--you are both guilty; and now beg mercy of the
atamans, and I will beg with you, though your guilt is heavy and your
treason clear."

From outside the windows came, not a sound and a murmur, but as it were
the roar of a storm. The Brotherhood wished to know what was doing in
the council-room, and sent a new deputation.

Tatarchuk felt that he was lost. He remembered that the week before he
had spoken in the midst of the atamans against giving the baton to
Hmelnitski, and against an alliance with the Tartars. Cold drops of
sweat came out on his forehead; he understood that there was no rescue
for him now. As to young Barabash, it was clear that in destroying him
Hmelnitski wished to avenge himself on the old colonel of Cherkasi, who
loved his nephew deeply. Still Tatarchuk did not wish to die. He would
not have paled before the sabre, the bullet, or the stake; but a death
such as that which awaited him pierced him to the marrow of his bones.
Therefore, taking advantage of a moment of quiet which reigned after
the words of Hmelnitski, he screamed in a terrified voice,--

"In the name of Christ, brother atamans, dear friends, do not destroy
an innocent man! I have not seen the Pole, I have not spoken with him!
Have mercy on me, brothers! I do not know what the Pole wanted of me;
ask him yourselves! I swear by Christ the Saviour, the Holy Most Pure,
Saint Nicholas the wonder-worker, by Michael the archangel, that you
are destroying an innocent man!"

"Bring in the Pole!" shouted the chief inspector.

"The Pole this way! the Pole this way!" shouted the kuren atamans.

Confusion began. Some rushed to the adjoining room in which the
prisoner was confined, to bring him before the council. Others
approached Tatarchuk and Barabash with threats. Gladki, the ataman of
the Mirgorod kuren, first cried, "To destruction!" The deputies
repeated the cry. Chernota sprang to the door, opened it, and shouted
to the assembled crowd,--

"Worthy Brotherhood, Tatarchuk is a traitor, Barabash is a traitor;
destruction to them!"

The multitude answered with a fearful howl. Confusion continued in the
council-room; all the atamans rose from their places; some cried, "The
Pole! the Pole!" others tried to allay the disturbance. But while this
was going on the doors were thrown wide open before the weight of the
crowd, and to the middle of the room rushed in a mass of men from the
square outside. Terrible forms, drunk with rage, filled the space,
seething, waving their hands, gnashing their teeth, and exhaling the
smell of spirits. "Death to Tatarchuk, and Barabash to destruction!
Give up the traitors! To the square with them!" shouted the drunken
voices. "Strike! kill!" And hundreds of hands were stretched out in a
moment toward the hapless victims.

Tatarchuk offered no resistance; he only groaned in terror. But young
Barabash began to defend himself with desperate strength. He understood
at last that they wanted to kill him. Terror, despair, and madness were
seen on his face; foam covered his lips, and from his bosom came forth
the roar of a wild beast. Twice he tore himself from the hands of his
executioners, and twice their hands seized him by the shoulders, by the
breast, by the beard and hair. He struggled, he bit, he bellowed, he
fell on the ground, and again rose up bleeding and terrible. His
clothes were torn, his hair was pulled out of his head, an eye knocked
out. At last, pressed to the wall, his arm was broken; then he fell.
His executioners seized his feet, and dragged him with Tatarchuk to the
square. There, by the light of tar-barrels and the great fires, the
final execution began. Several thousand people rushed upon the doomed
men and tore them, howling and struggling among themselves to get at
the victims. They were trampled under foot; bits of their bodies were
torn away. The multitude struggled around them with that terrible
convulsive motion of furious masses. For a moment bloody hands raised
aloft two shapeless lumps, without the semblance of human form; then
again they were trampled upon the earth. Those standing farther away
raised their voices to the sky,--some crying out to throw the victims
into the water, others to beat them into a burning tar-barrel. The
drunken ones began to fight among themselves. In the frenzy two
tubs of alcohol were set on fire, which lighted up the hellish scene
with trembling blue flames; from heaven the moon looked down on it
also,--the moon calm, bright, and mild. In this way the Brotherhood
punished its traitors.

In the council-chamber, the moment the Cossacks dragged Tatarchuk and
young Barabash through the doors there was quiet, and the atamans
occupied their former places near the wall; for a prisoner was led
forth from the adjoining closet.

The shade fell upon his face; in the half-light could be seen only the
tall figure, with simple and haughty bearing, though with hands bound
together. But Gladki threw a bundle of twigs on the fire, and in a
moment a bright flame shot up and covered with a clear light the face
of the prisoner, who turned to Hmelnitski.

When he saw him Hmelnitski started. The prisoner was Pan Yan.

Tugai Bey spat out husks of sunflower-seeds, and muttered in Russian,--

"I know that Pole; he was in the Crimea."

"Destruction to him!" cried Gladki.

"Destruction!" repeated Chernota.

Hmelnitski mastered his surprise, but turned his eyes to Gladki and
Chernota, who under the influence of that glance grew quiet; then
turning to the koshevoi, he said: "And I know him too."

"Whence do you come?" asked the koshevoi of Pan Yan.

"I was coming with an embassy to you, kosheroi ataman, when robbers
fell upon me at Hortitsa, and, in spite of customs observed among the
wildest people, killed my men, and, regarding neither my office of
envoy nor my birth, wounded me, insulted me, and brought me here as a
prisoner; for which my lord, Prince Yeremi Vishnyevetski, will know how
to demand of you account, koshevoi ataman."

"And why did you dissemble? Why did you crush the head of a brave man?
Why did you kill four times as many people as your own number? And you
came with a letter to me to observe our preparations and report them to
the Poles! We know also that you had letters to traitors in the
Zaporojian army, so as to plan with them the destruction of that whole
army; therefore you will be received, not as an envoy, but as a
traitor, and punished with justice."

"You deceive yourself, koshevoi, and you, self-styled hetman," said the
lieutenant, turning to Hmelnitski. "If I brought letters, every envoy
does the same when he goes to strange places; for he takes letters from
acquaintances to acquaintances, so that through them he may have
society. And I came here with a letter from the prince, not to contrive
your destruction, but to restrain you from deeds which are an
unendurable outrage to the Commonwealth, and which in the end will
bring ruin on you and the whole Zaporojian army. For on whom do you
raise your godless hands? Against whom do you, who call yourselves
defenders of Christianity, form an alliance with Pagans? Against the
king, against the nobility, and the whole Commonwealth. You therefore,
not I, are traitors; and I tell you that unless you efface your crimes
with obedience and humility, then woe to you! Are the times of Pavlyuk
and Nalivaika so remote? Has their punishment left your memory?
Remember, then, that the patience of the Commonwealth is exhausted, and
the sword is hanging over your heads."

"Oh, you son of Satan!" shouted the koshevoi. "You bark to squeeze out
and escape death; but your threatening and your Polish Latin won't help

Other atamans began to gnash their teeth and shake their sabres; but
Skshetuski raised his head still higher, and said,--

"Do not think, atamans, that I fear death, or that I defend my life,
or that I am exhibiting my innocence. Being a noble, I can be tried
only by equals. Here I am standing, not before judges, but before
bandits,--not before nobility, but before serfdom,--not before
knighthood, but before barbarism; and I know well I shall not escape my
death, with which you will fill the measure of your iniquity. Before me
are death and torment; but behind me the power and vengeance of the
Commonwealth, in presence of which you are all trembling."

Indeed the lofty stature, the grandeur of his speech, and the name of
the Commonwealth made a deep impression. The atamans looked at one
another in silence. After a while it seemed to them that not a
prisoner, but the terrible messenger of a mighty people, was standing
before them.

Tugai Bey murmured: "That is an angry Pole!"

"An angry Pole!" said Hmelnitski.

A violent knocking at the door stopped further conversation. On the
square the remains of Tatarchuk and Barabash had been disposed of; and
the Brotherhood sent a new deputation. A number of Cossacks, bloody,
panting, covered with sweat, drunk, entered the room. They stood near
the door, and stretching forth their hands still steaming with blood,
began to speak.

"The Brotherhood bow to the elders,"--here they bowed to their
girdles,--"and ask that the Pole be given them to play with, as they
played with Barabash and Tatarchuk."

"Let them have the Pole!" cried Chernota.

"No," cried others, "let them wait! He is an envoy!"

"To destruction with him!" answered a number of voices.

Then all were silent, waiting for the answer of the koshevoi and

"The Brotherhood ask; and if he is not given, they will take him
themselves," said the deputies.

Skshetuski seemed lost beyond redemption, when Hmelnitski inclined to
the ear of Tugai Bey and whispered,--

"He is your captive. The Tartars took him, he is yours. Will you let
him be taken from you? He is a rich nobleman, and besides Prince Yeremi
will ransom him with gold."

"Give up the Pole!" cried the Cossacks, with increasing violence.

Tugai Bey straightened himself in his seat and stood up. His
countenance changed in a moment; his eyes dilated like the eyes of a
wildcat, they began to flash fire. Suddenly he sprang like a tiger in
front of the Cossacks who were demanding the prisoner.

"Be off, clowns, infidel dogs, slaves, pig-eaters!" bellowed he,
seizing by the beard two of the Zaporojians and pulling them with rage.
"Be off, drunkards, brutes, foul reptiles! You have come to take my
captive, but this is the way I'll treat you." So saying, he pulled some
by the beard; at last he threw one down and began to stamp on him with
his feet. "On your faces, slaves! I will send you into captivity, I
will trample the whole Saitch under foot as I trample you! I will send
it up in smoke, cover it with your carcasses."

The deputies drew back in fear; their terrible friend had shown what he
could do.

And, wonderful thing in Bazaluk, there were only six thousand of the
horde! It is true that behind them stood the Khan and all the power of
the Crimea; but in the Saitch itself there were several thousand
Cossacks besides those whom Hmelnitski had already sent to
Tomakovka,--but still not one voice was raised in protest against Tugai
Bey. It might be that the method with which the terrible murza had
defended his captive was the only one practicable, and that it brought
conviction at once to the Zaporojians, to whom the aid of the Tartars
was at that time indispensable.

The deputation went out on the square, shouting to the crowd that they
would not play with the Pole, for he was Tugai Bey's captive and Tugai
Bey said he himself was wild! "He has pulled our beards!" cried they.
On the square they began immediately to repeat: "Tugai Bey is wild!"
"Is wild!" cry the crowd, plaintively,--"is wild, is wild!" In a few
minutes a certain shrill voice began to sing near the fire,--

                             "Hei, hei!
                              Tugai Bey
                        Is wild, roaring wild.
                              Hei, hei!
                              Tugai Bey,
                        Don't get wild, my friend!"

Immediately thousands of voices repeated: "Hei, hei! Tugai Bey!" And at
once rose one of those songs which afterward spread over the whole
Ukraine, as if the wind had carried it, and was sung to the sound of
lyre and teorban.

But suddenly the song was interrupted; for through the gates, from the
side of Hassan Pasha, rushed a number of men who broke through the
crowd, shouting, "Out of the way! out of the way!" and hastened with
all speed to the council-house. The atamans were preparing to go out
when these new guests fell into the room.

"A letter to the hetman!" shouted an old Cossack. "We are from
Chigirin. We have rushed on night and day with the letter. Here it is!"

Hmelnitski took the letter from the hands of the Cossack, and began to
read. Suddenly his face changed; he stopped the reading, and said with
a piercing voice,--

"Atamans! The Grand Hetman Pototski sends his son Stephen with his army
against us. War!"

In the room there rose a wonderful sound,--uncertain whether of joy or
amazement. Hmelnitski stepped forward into the middle of the room, and
put his hand on his hip; his eyes flashed lightning, his voice was
awful and commanding,--

"Atamans, to the kurens! Fire the cannon from the tower! Break the
liquor-barrels! We march at daybreak to-morrow!"

Prom that moment the common council ceased, the rule of atamans and the
preponderance of the Brotherhood were at an end. Hmelnitski assumed
unlimited power. A little while before, through fear that his voice
might not be obeyed, he was forced to destroy his opponents by
artifice, and by artifice defend the prisoner. Now he was lord of life
and death for them all.

So it was ever. Before and after expeditions, even if the hetman was
chosen, the multitude still imposed its will on the atamans and the
koshevoi for whom opposition was coupled with danger. But when the
campaign was declared, the Brotherhood became an army subject to
military discipline, the atamans officers, and the hetman a dictator in
command. Therefore, when they heard the orders of Hmelnitski, the
atamans went at once to their kurens. The council was at an end.

Soon the roar of cannon from the gates leading from Hassan Pasha to the
square of the Saitch shook the walls of the room, and spread with
gloomy echoes through all Chertomelik, giving notice of war.

It opened also an epoch in the history of two peoples; but that was
unknown to the drunken Cossacks as well as to the Zaporojian hetman

                              CHAPTER XII.

Hmelnitski and Skshetuski went to spend the night at the house of the
koshevoi, and with them Tugai Bey, for whom it was too late to return
to Bazaluk. The wild bey treated the lieutenant as a captive who was to
be ransomed for a large sum, and therefore not as a slave; and with
greater respect indeed than he would have shown perhaps to Cossacks,
for he had seen him formerly as an envoy at the court of the Khan. In
view of this the koshevoi asked Pan Yan to his own house, and also
changed his bearing toward him. The old koshevoi was a man devoted body
and soul to Hmelnitski, who had conquered and taken possession of him.
He had observed that Hmelnitski seemed anxious to save the life of the
captive at the time of the council; but he was more astonished when,
after having barely entered the room, Hmelnitski turned to Tugai Bey.

"Tugai Bey," said he, "how much ransom do you think of getting for this

Tugai Bey looked at Skshetuski and answered: "You said this was a man
of distinction, and I know that he was an envoy of the terrible prince,
and the terrible prince is fond of his own men. Bismillah! one pays and
the other pays--together--" here Tugai Bey stopped to think--"two
thousand thalers."

Hmelnitski answered: "I will give you two thousand thalers."

The Tartar was silent for a moment. His black eyes appeared to pierce
Hmelnitski through and through. "You will give three," said he.

"Why should I give three when you asked two yourself?"

"For if you wish to have him, it is important for you; and if it is
important, you will give three."

"He saved my life."

"Allah! that is worth a thousand more."

Here Skshetuski interfered in the bargain. "Tugai Bey," said he, with
anger, "I can promise you nothing from the prince's treasury; but even
if I had to injure my own fortune, I would give you three. I have
almost that much saved in the prince's hands, and a good village, which
will be sufficient. And I do not want to thank this hetman for my
freedom and life."

"And whence dost thou know what I shall do with thee?" asked
Hmelnitski; and then turning to Tugai Bey, he said: "The war will
begin. You will send to the prince, and before the return of your
messenger much water will flow down the Dnieper, but I will take you
the money myself to Bazaluk to-morrow."

"Give four, and I will not say another word to the Pole," answered
Tugai, impatiently.

"I will give four, on your word."

"Hetman," said the koshevoi, "I will count it out this minute. I have
it here under the wall, maybe more."

"To-morrow you will take it to Bazaluk," said Hmelnitski.

Tugai Bey stretched himself and yawned. "I am sleepy," said he.
"To-morrow before daylight I must start for Bazaluk. Where am I to

The koshevoi showed him a pile of sheepskins against the wall. The
Tartar threw himself on this bed, and a little later was snorting like
a horse.

Hmelnitski walked a number of times across the room, and said: "Slumber
escapes my eyelids; I cannot sleep. Give me something to drink, most
worthy koshevoi."

"Gorailka or wine?"

"Gorailka. I cannot sleep."

"It is cockcrow already," said the koshevoi.

"It is late. Go you to sleep, old friend! Drink and go!"

"Here is to fame and success!"

"To success!"

The koshevoi wiped his lips with his sleeve, then gave his hand to
Hmelnitski, and going to the other corner of the room buried himself
almost in sheepskins, for his blood had grown cold through age. Soon
his snoring answered the snoring of Tugai Bey.

Hmelnitski sat at the table, sunk in silence. Suddenly he started up,
looked at Skshetuski, and said: "Well, worthy lieutenant, you are

"I am thankful to you, Zaporojian hetman, though I do not conceal from
you that I should prefer to thank some one else for my freedom."

"Then do not thank. You saved my life, I return you good; now we are
even. And I must tell you also that I will not let you go immediately
unless you give me the word of a knight that when you have returned you
will say nothing of our preparation or power or of anything you have
seen in the Saitch."

"I see only this, that you offer me useless fruit of freedom to taste.
I will not give you such a word; for by giving it, I should act
precisely as those who go over to the enemy."

"My life and the safety of the Zaporojian army lie in this, that the
Grand Hetman should not move on us with all his forces, which he would
not be slow to do should you inform him of our power. Be not surprised,
then, if I detain you until I find myself out of danger, unless you
give your word. I know what I have undertaken; I know how formidable is
the power opposed to me,--the two hetmans, your terrible prince (who is
a whole army himself), the Zaslavskis and Konyetspolskis and all those
kinglets who keep their feet on the Cossack neck! Not small was my
labor, nor few the letters I wrote before I succeeded in putting their
watchfulness to sleep; now I cannot allow you to rouse it. Since the
masses of the people, with the Cossacks of the towns, and all who are
oppressed in faith and freedom will take my side, as well as the
Zaporojian army and the Khan of the Crimea, I expect to manage the
enemy, for my power will be considerable; but most of all do I trust in
God, who has beheld the injustice done, and who sees my innocence."

Here Hmelnitski drank a glass of vudka, and began to walk unquietly
around the table. Skshetuski measured him with his eyes, and spoke with

"Do not blaspheme, Zaporojian hetman, by calling upon God and his
divine protection; for in truth you will only bring down upon yourself
his anger and swift punishment. Is it right for you to call the Highest
to your defence,--you, who for the sake of your private squabbles and
the injustice done you raise such a terrible storm, kindle the flame of
civil war, and join yourself with Pagans against Christians? For what
will happen? Whether victorious or vanquished, you will shed a sea of
human blood and tears, you will desolate the land worse than locusts,
you will shake the Commonwealth, you will raise your hand against
majesty, you will desecrate the altars of the Lord; and all this
because Chaplinski took some land from you, and threatened you when he
was drunk! What do you not attempt? What do you not devote to your
private interests? You call upon God; and though I am in your power,
though you can take my life and freedom, I tell you that you are a
Satan. Call not God to your assistance, for hell alone can give you

Hmelnitski grew purple and reached for his sword. He looked at the
lieutenant like a lion about to roar and spring on his victim, but he
restrained himself. Fortunately, he was not drunk yet. Perhaps, also,
disquiet had seized him, maybe certain voices called from his soul to
turn from the road; for suddenly, as if wishing to defend himself
before his own thoughts, he said,--

"From another I should not have endured such speech, but do you have a
care that your boldness does not exhaust my patience. You frighten me
with hell, you speak to me of private interests and of treason. And
from whence do you know that I have risen to avenge private wrongs
alone? Where should I find assistance, where those thousands who have,
already taken my side and who are taking it, if I wished merely to
redress wrongs of my own? Look around at what is going on in the
Ukraine. Oh, rich land, motherland, native land! And who in her is sure
of to-morrow, who in her is happy, who is not robbed of his faith,
spoiled of his freedom; who in her is not weeping and sighing?--save
only the Vishnyevetskis, the Pototskis, the Zaslavskis, Kalinovskis,
Konyetspolskis, and a handful of nobles! For them are crown estates,
dignities, land, and people,--for them happiness and golden freedom;
and the rest of the nation in tears stretch forth their hands to heaven
waiting for the pity of God, since the pity of the king cannot help
them. How many, even of the nobility, unable to bear this intolerable
oppression, have fled to the Saitch, as I myself have fled? I want no
war with the king, I want no war with the Commonwealth! It is the
mother, and he is the father. The king is a merciful lord; but the
kinglets!--with them it is impossible for us to live; their extortions,
their rents, meadow-taxes, mill-taxes, eye and horn taxes, their
tyranny and oppression exercised through the agency of Jews, cry for
vengeance. What thanks has the Zaporojian army received for great
services rendered in numerous wars? Where are the Cossack rights? The
king gave them, the kinglets took them away. Nalivaika quartered!
Pavlyuk burned in a brazen bull! The blood is not dry on the wounds
inflicted by the sabres of Jolkevski and Konyetspolski! The tears have
not dried for those killed and empaled an stakes; and now look! What is
gleaming in the sky?"--here Hmelnitski pointed through the window at
the flaming comet,--"The anger of God, the scourge of God! And if I
have to be the scourge of God on earth, then let the will of God be
done! I will take the burden on my shoulders."

Having said this, he raised his hand above his head and seemed to flame
up like a great torch of vengeance, and began to tremble; and then he
dropped on the bench, as if bent down by the weight of his destiny.

Silence followed, interrupted only by the snoring of Tugai Bey and the
koshevoi, and by the plaintive chirp of the cricket in one corner of
the cabin.

The lieutenant sat with drooping head, as if seeking answers to the
words of Hmelnitski, as weighty as blocks of granite; at length he
began to speak in a quiet and sad voice,--

"Alas! even if that were true, who art thou, Hetman, to create thyself
judge and executioner? With what tyranny and pride art thou carried
away? Why dost thou not leave judgment and punishment to God? I do not
defend the wicked, I do not praise injustice, I do not call oppression
right; but, dost thou believe in thyself, Hetman? Thou complainest of
oppression from the kinglets,--that they listen neither to the king nor
justice. Thou condemnest their pride, but art thou free of it thyself?
Do you not raise your hand upon the Commonwealth, on right and majesty?
You see the tyranny of lordlets and nobility, but you do not see that
were it not for their breasts, their bosoms, their breastplates, their
power, their castles, their cannon, and their legions, this land,
flowing with milk and honey, would groan under the hundred times
heavier yoke of the Turk and the Tartar! For who would defend it? By
whose care and power is it that your children are not serving as
janissaries, and your women dragged off to infamous harems? Who settled
the desert, founded villages and towns, and raised up the sanctuary of

Here the voice of Skshetuski grew stronger and stronger; and Hmelnitski
looked with gloomy eyes into the bottle of vudka,[9] put his clinched
fists on the table, and was silent as if struggling with himself.

"And who are they?" continued Skshetuski. "Have they come from Germany
or from Turkey? Is it not the blood of your blood, and the bone of your
bone? Are not the nobility yours, and the princelets yours? If that is
true, then woe to thee, Hetman; for thou art raising up the younger
brothers against the elder, and making parricides of them. Oh, in God's
name, even if they were wicked,--even if all of them, as many as there
are, have trampled upon justice, violated rights,--let God judge them
in heaven, and the Diet on earth, but not you, O Hetman! Are you able
to say that among yours there are only just men? Have yours never been
guilty, that you have a right to cast a stone at another for his guilt?
And if you ask me, Where are the rights of the Cossacks, I answer: Not
kinglets betrayed them, but Zaporojians,--Loboda, Sasko, Nalivaika, and
Pavlyuk, of whom you falsely say that he was roasted in a brazen bull,
for you know well that this is not true! Your seditions, your
disturbances and attacks, made like attacks of Tartars, were put down.
Who let the Tartars into the boundaries of the Commonwealth, so that
when they were coming back laden with booty, they might be attacked?
You! Who--God guard us!--gave their own Christian people into
captivity? Who raised the greatest disturbances? You! Before whom is
neither noble nor merchant nor village safe? Before you! Who has
inflamed domestic war, who has sent up in smoke the villages and towns
of the Ukraine, plundered the sanctuaries of God, violated women? You!
you! What do you want, then? Do you want that the rights of making
civil war and of robbing and plundering should be granted you? In
truth, more has been forgiven you than taken away! We wished to cure
putrid members instead of cutting them off, and I know no power in the
world but the Commonwealth that would exhibit equal patience and
clemency by permitting such an ulcer in its own bosom. But what is your
gratitude in response? There sleeps your ally, but the raging enemy of
the Commonwealth,--your friend, but the foe of the cross and
Christianity,--not a kinglet of the Ukraine, but a murza of the Crimea;
and with him you will go to burn your own home, and with him to judge
your own brother. But he will lord it over you, and you will be forced
to hold his stirrup."

Hmelnitski emptied another glass of vudka. "When we, with Barabash,
were with his Majesty the King, and when we wept over the oppression
and injustice practised on us, he said, 'But have you not muskets, and
have you not sabres at your side?'"

"If you were standing before the King of kings, he would say, 'Forgive
your enemies, as I forgive mine.'"

"I do not wish to war with the Commonwealth."

"But you put your sword to its throat."

"I go to free the Cossacks from your fetters."

"To tie them in Tartar bonds!"

"I wish to defend the faith."

"In company with the Pagan."

"Stop! You are not the voice of my conscience. Stop, I tell you!"

"Blood will weigh you down, the tears of men will accuse you, death
awaits you, judgment awaits you!"

"Screech-owl!" shouted Hmelnitski in rage, and flashed a knife before
the breast of Skshetuski.

"Strike!" said Skshetuski.

Again came a moment of silence; again there was nothing to be heard but
the snore of the sleeping men and the plaintive chirp of the cricket.

Hmelnitski stood for a time with the knife at Skshetuski's breast;
suddenly he trembled, he bethought himself, dropped the knife, and
seizing the decanter of vudka, began to drink. He emptied it, and sat
heavily on the bench.

"I cannot stab him," he muttered,--"I cannot. It is late--is that
daylight?--but it is late to turn from the road. Why speak to me of
judgment and blood?"

He had already drunk much; the vudka was rising to his head. He went
on, gradually losing consciousness: "What judgment? The Khan promised
me reinforcements. Tugai Bey is sleeping here! To-morrow the Cossacks
march. With us is Saint Michael the victorious! But if--if--I ransomed
thee from Tugai Bey--remember it, and say--Oh, something pains--pains!
To turn from the road--'tis late!--judgment--Nalivaika--Pavlyuk--"

Suddenly he straightened himself, strained his eyes in fright, and
cried: "Who is there?"

"Who is there?" repeated the half-roused koshevoi.

But Hmelnitski dropped his head on his breast, nodded a couple of
times, muttered, "What judgment?" and fell asleep.

Skshetuski grew very pale and weak from recent wounds and from the
excitement of talking. He thought therefore that perhaps death was
coming, and began to pray aloud.

                             CHAPTER XIII.

Next morning early the Cossacks marched out of the Saitch, foot and
horse. Though blood had not yet stained the steppes, the war had begun.
Regiment followed regiment; just as if locusts, warmed by the spring
sun, had swarmed in the reeds of Chertomelik, and were flying to the
fields of the Ukraine. In the woods behind Bazaluk the warriors of the
horde were waiting, ready for the march. Six thousand chosen men, armed
incomparably better than ordinary partisan robbers, composed the
contingent which the Khan sent to the Zaporojians and to Hmelnitski. At
the sight of them the Cossacks hurled their caps into the air. The guns
and muskets rattled. The shouts of the Cossacks, mingling with the
"Allah" of the Tartars, struck the dome of heaven. Hmelnitski and Tugai
Bey, both under their banners, galloped toward each other on horseback,
and exchanged formal greetings.

The order of march was formed with the rapidity peculiar to Tartars and
Cossacks; then the troops moved on. The horde occupied both Cossack
wings; the centre was formed by Hmelnitski and his cavalry, behind
which marched the terrible Zaporojian infantry. Farther in the rear
were the gunners, with their cannon; still farther the tabor-wagons, in
them camp-servants and stores of provisions; finally, the herdsmen,
with reserve herds and cattle.

After they had passed the forest of Bazaluk the regiments flowed out on
the level country. The day was clear, the field of heaven unspotted by
a cloud. A light breeze blew from the north to the sea; the sun played
on the lances, and on the flowers of the plain. The primeval steppes
were spread before the Zaporojians like a boundless sea, and at this
sight joy embraced the Cossack hearts. The great red standard, with the
archangel, was inclined repeatedly in greeting to the native steppe;
and following its example, every bunchuk and regimental standard was
lowered. One shout sprang from all breasts.

The regiments deployed freely on the plain. The drummers and buglers
went to the van of the army; the drums thundered, trumpets and bugles
sounded, and in concert with them a song, sung by thousands of voices,
reverberated through the air and the earth,--

                 "O steppes, our native steppes,
                  Ye are painted with beautiful flowers,
                  Ye are broad as the sea!"

The teorbanists dropped the reins, and bending back in the saddles,
with eyes turned to the sky, struck the strings of their teorbans; the
cymbalists, stretching their arms above their heads, struck their
brazen disks; the drummers thundered with their kettledrums; and all
these sounds, together with the monotonous words of the song and the
shrill whistle of the tuneless Tartar pipes, mingled in a kind of
mighty note, wild and sad as the Wilderness itself. Delight seized all
the regiments; the heads bent in time with the song, and at last it
seemed as if the entire steppe, infected with music, trembled together
with the men and the horses and the standards.

Frightened flocks of birds rose from the steppe and flew before the
army like another army,--an army of the air. At times the song and
music stopped; then could be heard the rustling of banners, the
tramping and snorting of horses, the squeak of the tabor-wagons,--like
the cry of swans or storks.

At the head of the army, under a great red standard and the bunchuk,
rode Hmelnitski, in a red uniform, on a white horse, holding a gilded
baton in his hand.

The whole body moved on, slowly marching to the north, covering like a
terrible wave the rivers, groves, and grave-mounds, filling with its
noise and sound the space of the steppe.

But from Chigirin, from the northern rim of the Wilderness, there moved
against this wave a wave of the armies of the crown, under the
leadership of young Pototski. Here the Zaporojians and the Tartars went
as if to a wedding, with a joyful song on their lips; there the serious
hussars advanced in grim silence, going unwillingly to that struggle
without glory. Here, under the red banner, an old experienced leader
shook his threatening baton, as if certain of victory and vengeance;
there in front rode a youth with thoughtful countenance, as if knowing,
his sad and approaching fate. A great expanse of steppe still divided

Hmelnitski did not hurry, for he calculated that the farther young
Pototski went into the Wilderness, the farther he went from the two
hetmans, the more easily could he be conquered. Meanwhile new fugitives
from Chigirin, Povolochi, and all the shore towns of the Ukraine gave
daily increase to the Zaporojian power, bringing also news from the
opposite camp. From them Hmelnitski learned that the old hetman had
sent his son with only two thousand cavalry by land and six thousand
Cossacks, with one thousand German infantry in boats by the Dnieper.
Both these divisions were ordered to maintain communication with each
other, but the order was violated from the first day; for the boats,
borne on by the current of the Dnieper, went considerably in advance of
the hussars going along the shore, whose march was greatly delayed by
the crossings at all the rivers falling into the Dnieper.

Hmelnitski, wishing that the distance between them should be increased
still more, did not hurry. On the third day of his march he disposed
his camp around Komysha Water, and rested.

At that time the scouts of Tugai Bey brought informants,--two dragoons
who just beyond Chigirin had escaped from the camp of Pototski.
Hurrying on day and night, they had succeeded in getting considerably
in advance of their camp. They were brought immediately to Hmelnitski.

Their account confirmed what was already known to Hmelnitski concerning
the forces of young Stephen Pototski; but they brought him
intelligence, besides, that the leaders of the Cossacks sailing down in
the boats with the German infantry were old Barabash and Krechovski.

When he heard the last name, Hmelnitski sprang up. "Krechovski? the
commander of the registered Pereyasláv Cossacks?"

"The same, serene hetman!" answered the dragoons.

Hmelnitski turned to the colonels surrounding him. "Forward!" commanded
he, with thundering voice.

Less than an hour later the tabor was moving on, though the sun was
already setting and the night did not promise to be clear. Certain
terrible reddish clouds rolled along on the western side of the
heavens, like dragons or leviathans, and approached one another as if
wishing to begin battle.

The tabor turned to the left, toward the bank of the Dnieper. The host
marched quietly, without songs, without noise of drums or trumpets, and
as quickly as the grass permitted, which was so luxuriant in that
neighborhood that the regiments buried in it were lost from view at
times, and the many-colored flags seemed to sail along the steppe. The
cavalry beat a road for the wagons and the infantry, which, advancing
with difficulty, soon fell considerably in the rear.

Night covered the steppes. An enormous red moon rose slowly in the
heavens, but, hidden repeatedly by the clouds, flamed up and was
quenched like a lamp smothered by the blowing of the wind.

It was well after midnight when, to the eyes of the Cossacks and the
Tartars, black gigantic masses seemed outlined clearly on the dark
background of the sky. These were the walls of Kudák.

Scouts, hidden by darkness, approached the fortress as carefully and
quietly as wolves or night-birds. And now perhaps a surprise for the
sleeping fortress!

But suddenly a flash on the ramparts rent the darkness. A terrible
report shook the rocks of the Dnieper, and a fiery ball, leaving a
circle of sparks in the air, fell among the grass of the steppe. The
gloomy cyclops Grodzitski gave notice that he was watching.

"The one-eyed dog!" muttered Tugai Bey to Hmelnitski; "he sees in the

The Cossacks avoided the fortress and marched on. They could not think
of taking it at a time when the armies of the crown were marching
against them. But Grodzitski fired after them from his cannon till the
walls of the fortress trembled; not so much to injure them--for they
passed at a good distance--as to warn the troops sailing down the
Dnieper, who at that time might be not far away.

But the thunder of the guns of Kudák found echo first of all in the
heart and hearing of Pan Yan. The young knight, brought by the command
of Hmelnitski with the Cossack tabor, became seriously ill on the
second day. In the fight at Hortitsa he had not received, it is true, a
mortal wound, but he had lost so much blood that little life was left
in him. His wounds, dressed in Cossack fashion by the old inspector of
weights and measures, opened; fever attacked him, and that night he lay
half senseless in a Cossack telega, unconscious of God's world.

The cannon of Kudák first roused him. He opened his eyes, raised
himself in the wagon, and began to look around. The Cossack tabor
glided along in the darkness, like a circle of dream figures, but the
fortress roared and was lighted with rosy smoke; fiery balls sprang
along the steppe, snapping and barking, like infuriated dogs. At this
sight such sadness and sorrow seized Skshetuski that he was ready to
die on the spot, if he could only go even in spirit to his friends.
War! war! and he in the camp of the enemy, disarmed, sick, unable to
rise from the wagon! The Commonwealth in danger, and he not flying to
save it! There in Lubni the troops are surely moving. The prince, with
lightning in his eyes, is flying before the ranks; and on whatever side
he turns his baton, three hundred lances strike like three hundred
thunderbolts. Here a number of well-known faces begin to appear before
the eyes of the lieutenant. Little Volodyovski, at the head of his
dragoons, with his thin sabre in hand,--the king of swordsmen; whoever
crosses weapons with him is as if in the tomb. There Pan Podbipienta
raises his executioner's snatch-cowl! Will he cut off the three heads,
or will he not? The priest Yaskolski waves the banners, and prays with
his hands lifted to heaven. But he is an old soldier; therefore, unable
to restrain himself, he thunders out at times, "Strike! kill!" Mailed
riders incline half-way to the horse's ear. The regiments rush on, open
their ranks, and close. Battle and tumult are there!

Suddenly the vision changes. Before the lieutenant stands Helena, pale,
with dishevelled hair; and she cries: "Save me, for Bogun pursues!"

Skshetuski tears himself from the wagon, till a voice--but a real
one--calls to him: "Lie down, child, or I will bind you."

That was the essaul of the tabor, Zakhar, whom Hmelnitski had commanded
to guard the lieutenant as the eye in his head. He puts him back in the
wagon, covers him with a horse-skin, and asks: "What's the matter with

Now Skshetuski has perfect presence of mind. The visions vanish. The
wagons move along the very bank of the Dnieper. A cool breeze is
blowing from the river, and the night is growing pale. Water-birds have
begun their morning noise.

"Listen, Zakhar! have we passed Kudák already?" asked Skshetuski.

"We have," answered the Zaporojian,

"And where are you going?"

"I don't know. There will be a battle, they say; but I don't know."

At these words Skshetuski's heart beat joyfully. He had supposed that
Hmelnitski would besiege Kudák, and with that the war would begin.
Meanwhile the haste with which the Cossacks pushed on permitted the
inference that the armies of the Crown were already near, and that
Hmelnitski was passing the fortress so as not to be forced to give
battle under its cannon.

"I may be free to-day," thought the lieutenant, and raised his eyes to
heaven in thanks.

                              CHAPTER XIV.

The thunder of the guns of Kudák was heard also by the forces
descending in boats under the command of old Barabash and Krechovski.
These forces were composed of six thousand registered Cossacks, and one
of picked German infantry led by Colonel Hans Flick.

Pan Nikolai Pototski, the hetman, hesitated long before he sent the
Cossacks against Hmelnitski; but since Krechovski had an immense
influence over them, and Pototski trusted Krechovski absolutely, he
merely commanded the Cossacks to take the oath of allegiance, and sent
them off in the name of God.

Krechovski was a soldier full of experience and of great reputation in
previous wars. He was a client of the Pototskis, to whom he was
indebted for everything,--his rank of colonel, his nobility, which they
obtained for him in the Diet, and finally for broad lands situated near
the confluence of the Dniester and Lada, which he held for life. He was
connected, therefore, by so many bonds with the Commonwealth and the
Pototskis, that a shadow of a suspicion could not rise in the mind of
the hetman. Krechovski was, besides, a man in his best days, for he was
scarcely fifty years old, and a great future was opening before him in
the service of the country. Some were ready to see in him the successor
of Stephen Hmeletski, who, beginning his career as a simple knight of
the steppe, ended it as voevoda of Kieff and senator of the
Commonwealth. It was for Krechovski to advance by the same road, along
which he was impelled by bravery, a wild energy, and unbridled
ambition, equally eager for wealth and distinction. Through this
ambition he had struggled a short time before for the starostaship of
Lita; and when at last Pan Korbut received it, Krechovski buried the
disappointment deep in his heart, but almost fell ill of envy and
mortification. This time fortune seemed to smile on him again; for
having received from the hetman such an important military office, he
could consider that his name would reach the ears of the king; and that
was important, for afterward he had only to bow to receive the reward,
with the words dear to the heart of a noble: "He has bowed to us and
asked that we grant him; and we remembering his services, do grant,
etc." In this way were wealth and distinction acquired in Russia; in
this way enormous expanses of the empty steppe, which hitherto had
belonged to God and the Commonwealth, passed into private hands; in
this way a needy stripling grew to be a lord, and might strengthen
himself with the hope that his descendants would hold their seats among

Krechovski was annoyed that in the office committed to him he must
divide authority with Barabash; still it was only a nominal division.
In reality, the old colonel of Cherkasi, especially in the latter time,
had grown so old and worn that his body alone belonged to this earth;
his mind and soul were continually sunk in torpidity and lifelessness,
which generally precede real death. At the beginning of the expedition
he roused up and began to move about with considerable energy, as if at
the sound of the trumpet the old soldier's blood had begun to course
more vigorously within him, for he had been in his time a famous
Cossack and a leader in the steppe; but as soon as they started the
plash of the oars lulled him, the songs of the Cossacks and the soft
movement of the boats put him to sleep, and he forgot the world of God.
Krechovski ordered and managed everything. Barabash woke up only to
eat; having eaten his fill, he inquired, as was his custom, about this
and that. He was put off with some kind of answer; then he sighed and

"I should be glad to die in some other war, but God's will be done!"

Connection with the army of the crown marching under Stephen Pototski
was severed at once. Krechovski complained that the hussars and the
dragoons marched too slowly, that they loitered too long at the
crossings, that the young son of the hetman had no military experience;
but with all that he gave orders to move on.

The boats moved along the shores of the Dnieper to Kudák, going farther
and farther from the armies of the crown.

At last one night the thunder of cannon was heard. Barabash slept
without waking. Flick, who was sailing ahead, entered the scout-boat
and repaired to Krechovski.

"Colonel," said he, "those are the cannon of Kudák! What are we to do?"

"Stop your boats. We will spend the night in the reeds."

"Apparently Hmelnitski is besieging the fortress. In my opinion we
ought to hurry to the relief."

"I do not ask you for opinions, but give orders. I am the commander."

"But, Colonel--"

"Halt and wait!" said Krechovski. But seeing that the energetic German
was twitching his beard and not thinking of going away without a
reason, he added more mildly: "The castellan may come up to-morrow
morning with the cavalry, and the fortress will not be taken in one

"But if he does not come up?"

"Well, we will wait even two days. You don't know Kudák. They will
break their teeth on the walls, and I will not go to relieve the place
without the castellan, for I have not the right to do so. That is his

Every reason seemed to be on Krechovski's side. Flick therefore
insisted no longer, and withdrew to his Germans. After a while the
boats began to approach the right bank and push into the reeds, that
for a width of more than forty rods covered the river, which had spread
widely in that part. Finally the plash of oars stopped; the boats were
hidden entirely in the reeds, and the river appeared to be wholly
deserted. Krechovski forbade the lighting of fires, singing of songs,
and conversation. Hence there fell upon the place a quiet unbroken save
by the distant cannon of Kudák.

Still no one in the boats except Barabash slept. Flick, a knightly man
and eager for battle, wished to hurry straight to Kudák. The Cossacks
asked one another in a whisper what might happen to the fortress. Would
it hold out or would it not hold out? Meanwhile the noise increased
every moment. All were convinced that the castle was meeting a violent

"Hmelnitski isn't joking; but Grodzitski isn't joking, either,"
whispered the Cossacks. "What will come tomorrow?"

Krechovski was probably asking himself the very same question, as,
sitting in the prow of his boat, he fell into deep thought. He knew
Hmelnitski intimately and of old. Up to that time he had always
considered him a man of uncommon gifts, to whom only a field was
wanting to soar like an eagle; but now Krechovski doubted him. The
cannon thundered unceasingly; therefore it must be that Hmelnitski was
really investing Kudák.

"If that is true," thought Krechovski, "he is lost. How is it possible,
having roused the Zaporojians and secured the assistance of the Khan,
having assembled forces such as none of the Cossack leaders has
hitherto commanded, instead of marching with all haste to the Ukraine,
rousing the people and attaching to himself the town Cossacks, breaking
the hetmans as quickly as possible, and gaining the whole country
before new troops could come to its defence, that he, Hmelnitski, an
old soldier, is storming an impregnable fortress, capable of detaining
him for a whole year? And is he willing that his best forces should
break themselves on the walls of Kudák, as a wave of the Dnieper is
dashed on the rocks of the Cataracts? And will he wait under Kudák till
the hetmans are reinforced and surround him, like Nalivaika at

"If he does, he is a lost man," repeated Krechovski once more. "His own
Cossacks will give him up. The unsuccessful assault will cause
discontent and disorder. The spark of rebellion will go out at its very
birth, and Hmelnitski will be no more terrible than a sword broken at
the hilt. He is a fool! Therefore," thought Krechovski, "to-morrow I
will land my Cossacks and Germans on the bank, and the following night
will fall on him unexpectedly, when he is weakened by assaults. I will
cut the Zaporojians to pieces, and throw down Hmelnitski bound at the
feet of the hetman. It is his own fault, for it might have been

The unbridled ambition of Krechovski soared on the wings of a falcon.
He knew well that young Pototski could not arrive on the following
night by any possibility. Who, then, was to sever the head of the
hydra? Krechovski! Who was to put down the rebellion which might wrap
the whole Ukraine in a terrible conflagration? Krechovski! The old
hetman might be angry for a while that this had taken place without the
participation of his son; but he would soon get over that, and
meanwhile all the rays of glory and the favors of the king would
descend on the conqueror's head. No! It would be necessary, however, to
divide the glory with old Barabash and with Grodzitski.

Krechovski scowled darkly; but suddenly his face grew bright. "They
will bury that old block Barabash in the ground to-morrow or next day.
Grodzitski, if he can only remain at Kudák to frighten the Tartars from
time to time with his cannon, will ask for no more. Krechovski alone
will remain. If he can only become hetman of the Ukraine!"

The stars twinkled in the sky, and it appeared to the colonel that
those were the jewels in his baton; the wind sounded in the reeds, and
it seemed to him the rustling of the hetman's standard. The guns of
Kudák thundered unceasingly.

"Hmelnitski has given his throat to the sword," continued the colonel
in thought, "but that is his own fault. It might have been otherwise.
If he had gone straight to the Ukraine, it might have been otherwise.
There all is seething and roaring; there lies powder, only waiting for
a spark. The Commonwealth is powerless, but it has forces in the
Ukraine; the king is not young, and is sickly. One battle won by the
Zaporojians will bring incalculable results."

Krechovski covered his face with his hands, and sat motionless. The
stars came down nearer and nearer, and settled gradually on the steppe.
The quail hidden in the grass began to call. Soon the day would break.

At last the meditations of the colonel became strengthened into a fixed
purpose. Next day he would strike Hmelnitski and grind him in the dust.
Over his body he would go to wealth and dignities. He would be the
instrument of punishment in the hands of the Commonwealth, its
defender, in the future its dignitary and senator. After victory over
the Zaporojians and the Tartars they would refuse him nothing.

Still, they had not given him the starostaship of Lita. When he
remembered this, Krechovski clenched his fists. They had not given him
this, in spite of the powerful influence of his protectors the
Pototskis, in spite of his military services, simply because he was a
new man and his rival drew his origin from princes. In that
Commonwealth it was not enough to be a noble, it was necessary to wait
till that nobility was covered with must like old wine, till it was
rusty like iron.

Hmelnitski alone could introduce a new order of things, to which the
king himself would become favorable; but the unfortunate man had
preferred to beat out his brains against the walls of Kudák.

The colonel gradually grew calm. They had refused him the
starostaship,--what of that? They would strive all the more to
recompense him, especially after his victory,--after quenching the
rebellion, after freeing the Ukraine from civil war, yes, the whole
Commonwealth! They would refuse him nothing; then he would not need
even the Pototskis.

His drowsy head inclined upon his breast, and he fell asleep, dreaming
of starostaships, of dignities, of grants from the king and the Diet.

When he woke it was daybreak. In the boats all were still sleeping. In
the distance the waters of the Dnieper were gleaming in a pale,
fugitive light. Around them reigned absolute stillness. It was the
stillness that roused him. The cannon of Kudák had ceased to roar.

"What is that?" thought Krechovski. "The first attack is repulsed, or
maybe Kudák is taken?"

But that was unlikely. No; the beaten Cossacks were lying somewhere at
a distance from the fortress, licking their wounds, and the one-eyed
Grodzitski was looking at them through the port-hole, aiming his guns
anew. To-morrow they would repeat the storm, and again break their
teeth. The day had now come. Krechovski roused the men in his own boat,
and sent a boat for Flick. Flick came at once.

"Colonel," said Krechovski, "if the castellan does not come before
evening, and if the storm is repeated during the night, we will move to
the relief of the fortress."

"My men are ready," answered Flick.

"Issue powder and balls to them."

"I have done so."

"We land during the night and go by the steppe in the greatest quiet.
We will come upon them with a surprise."

"Gut! sehr gut! But mightn't we go on a little in the boats? It is
twenty miles to the fortress,--rather far for infantry."

"The infantry will mount Cossack horses."

"Gut! sehr gut!"

"Let the men lie quietly in the reeds, not go on shore; make no noise,
kindle no fires, for smoke would betray us. We must not be revealed."

"There is such a fog that the smoke will not be seen."

Indeed the river, the inlet overgrown with reeds, in which the boats
were hidden, and the steppe were covered as far as the eye could see
with a white, impenetrable fog. But it was only the beginning of day;
so the fog might rise and uncover the expanse of the steppe.

Flick departed. The men in the boats woke gradually. Krechovski's
commands to keep quiet and take the morning meal without tumult were
made known. No person going along the shore or sailing in the middle of
the river would have even imagined that in the adjoining thicket
several thousand men were hidden. The horses were fed from the hand, so
that they should not neigh. The boats, covered with fog, lay tied up in
the reeds. Here and there only passed a small two-oared boat carrying
biscuits and commands; with this exception, the silence of the grave
reigned everywhere.

Suddenly in the reeds, rushes, and shore-grass all around the inlet
were heard strange and very numerous voices, calling,--

"Pugú! pugú!"

Then quiet.
"Pugú! pugú!"

And again silence, as if those voices, calling on the banks, waited for
an answer.

But there was no answer. The calling sounded a third time, but more
quickly and impatiently.

"Pugú! pugú!"

This time from the side of the boats was heard in the middle of the fog
the voice of Krechovski,--

"But who is there?"

"A Cossack from the meadows."

The hearts of the Cossacks hidden in the boats beat unquietly. That
mysterious call was well known to them. In that manner the Zaporojiana
made themselves known to one another in their winter quarters; in that
way in time of war they asked to conference their brothers, the
registered and town Cossacks, among whom were many belonging in secret
to the Brotherhood.

The voice of Krechovski was heard again; "What do you want?"

"Bogdan Hmelnitski, the Zaporojian hetman, announces that his cannon
are turned on the Poles."

"Inform the Zaporojian hetman that ours are tamed to the shore."

"Pugú! Pugú!"

"What more do you want?"

"Bogdan Hmelnitski, the Zaporojian hetman, invites his friend Colonel
Krechovski to a conference."

"Let him give hostages."

"Ten kuren atamans."


That moment the shores of the inlet bloomed with Zaporojians as if with
flowers; they stood up from the grass in which they had been hidden.
From the steppe approached their cavalry and artillery, tens and
hundreds of their banners, flags, and bunchuks. They marched with
singing and beating of kettledrums. All this was rather like a joyful
greeting than a collision of hostile forces.

The Cossacks on the river answered with shouts. Meanwhile boats came up
bringing the kuren atamans. Krechovski entered one of the boats and
went to the shore. There a horse was given him, and he was conducted
immediately to Hmelnitski.

Seeing him, Hmelnitski removed his cap, and then greeted him cordially.

"Colonel," said he, "my old friend and comrade! When the hetman of the
crown commanded you to seize me and bring me to the camp, you did not
do it, but you warned me so that I might save myself by flight; for
that act I am bound to you in thankfulness and brotherly love."

While saying this he stretched out his hand kindly; but the swarthy
face of Krechovski remained cold as ice. "Now, therefore, after you
have saved yourself, worthy hetman, you excite rebellion!"

"I go to ask reparation for the wrongs inflicted on myself, on you, on
the whole Ukraine, with the charter of Cossack rights granted by the
king in my hand, and with the hope that our merciful sovereign will not
count it evil in me."

Krechovski looked quickly into the eyes of Hmelnitski, and asked with
emphasis: "Have you invested Kudák?"

"I? Do you think I have lost my mind? I passed Kudák without a shot,
though the old blind man celebrated it with guns. I was hurrying not to
Kudák, but to the Ukraine, and to you, my old friend and benefactor."

"What do you wish, then, of me?"

"Come a little way in the steppe, and we will talk."

They spurred their horses, and rode on. They remained about an hour. On
returning, the face of Krechovski was pale and terrible. He took quick
farewell of Hmelnitski, who said,--

"There will be two of us in the Ukraine, and above us the king, and no
man else."

Krechovski turned to the boats. Old Barabash, Flick, and the elders
waited for him with impatience. "What's going on? What's going on?" he
was asked on every side.

"Come out on the shore!" answered Krechovski, with a commanding voice.

Barabash raised his sleepy lids; a certain wonderful fire was gleaming
in his eyes. "How is that?" asked he.

"Come to the shore; we yield!"

A wave of blood rushed to the pale and faded face of Barabash. He rose
from the kettle on which he had been sitting, straightened himself up,
and suddenly that bent and decrepit old man was changed into a giant
full of life and power.

"Treason!" roared he.

"Treason!" repeated Flick, grasping after the hilt of his rapier.

But before he could draw it Krechovski's sabre whistled, and with one
blow Flick was stretched on the ground. Then Krechovski sprang into the
scout-boat standing there, in which four Zaporojians were sitting with
oars in their hands, and cried: "To the boats!"

The scout-boat shot on like an arrow. Krechovski, standing in the
centre of it, with his cap on his bloody sabre, his eyes like flames,
cried with a mighty voice,--

"Children, we will not murder our own. Long life to Hmelnitski, the
Zaporojian hetman!"

"Long life!" repeated hundreds and thousands of voices.

"Destruction to the Poles!"


The roar from the boats answered the shouts of the Zaporojians on land.
But many men in the boats did not know what was going on till the news
spread everywhere that Krechovski had gone over to the Zaporojians. A
regular furor of joy seized the Cossacks. Six thousand caps flew into
the air; six thousand muskets roared. The boats trembled under the feet
of the brave fellows. A tumult and uproar set in. But that joy had to
be sprinkled with blood; for old Barabash preferred to die rather than
betray the flag under which he had served a lifetime. A few tens of the
men of Cherkasi declared for him, and a struggle began, short but
terrible,--like all struggles in which a handful of men, asking not
quarter but death, defend themselves in a mass. Neither Krechovski nor
any one of the Cossacks expected such resistance. The lion of other
days was roused in the old colonel. The summons to lay down his arms he
answered with shots; and he was seen, with baton in hand and streaming
white hair, giving orders with a voice of thunder and the energy of
youth. His boat was surrounded on every side. The men of those boats
which could not press up jumped into the water, and by swimming or
wading among the reeds, and then seizing the edge of the boat, climbed
it with fury. The resistance was short. The faithful Cossacks of
Barabash, stabbed, cut to pieces, torn asunder with hands, lay dead in
the boat. The old man with sabre in hand defended himself yet.

Krechovski pushed forward toward him. "Yield!" shouted he.

"Traitor! destruction!" answered Barabash, raising his sabre to strike.

Krechovski drew back quickly into the crowd. "Strike!" cried he to the

It seemed that no one wished to raise his hand first on the old man.
But unfortunately the colonel slipped in blood and fell. When lying he
did not rouse that respect or that fear, and immediately a number of
lances were buried in his body. The old man was able only to cry:
"Jesus, Mary!"

They began to cut the prostrate body to pieces. The severed head was
hurled from boat to boat, like a ball, until by an awkward throw it
fell into the water.

There still remained the Germans, with whom the settlement was more
difficult, for the regiment was composed of one thousand old soldiers
trained in many wars. The valiant Flick had fallen, it is true, by the
hand of Krechovski, but there remained at the head of the regiment
Johann Werner, lieutenant-colonel, a veteran of the Thirty Years' War.

Krechovski was certain of victory, for the German boats were hemmed in
on every side by the Cossacks; still he wished to preserve for
Hmelnitski such a respectable reinforcement of incomparable infantry,
splendidly armed, therefore he preferred to begin a parley with them.

It seemed for a time that Werner would agree, for he conversed calmly
with Krechovski and listened attentively to promises of which the
faithless colonel was not sparing. The pay in which the Commonwealth
was in arrears was to be paid on the spot, and an additional year in
advance. At the expiration of the year the soldiers might go where they
pleased, even to the camp of the king.

Werner, appeared to meditate over these conditions, but meanwhile he
had quietly issued a command for the boats to press up to him, so that
they formed a close circle. On the edge of that circle stood a wall of
infantry,--well-grown and powerful men, dressed in yellow coats and
caps of the same color, in perfect battle-array, with the left foot
forward and muskets at the right side ready to fire. Werner stood in
the first rank with drawn sword, and meditated long; at last he raised
his head.

"Colonel, we agree!"

"You will lose nothing in your new service," cried Krechovski, with

"But on condition--"

"I agree to that, besides."

"If that is true, then all is settled. Our service with the
Commonwealth ends in three months. At the end of three months we will
go over to you."

A curse was leaving Krechovski's mouth, but he restrained the outburst.
"Are you joking, worthy lieutenant?"

"No!" answered Werner, phlegmatically; "our soldierly honor commands us
to keep our agreement. Our service ends in three months. We serve for
money, but we are not traitors. If we were, nobody would hire us, and
you yourselves would not trust us; for who could guarantee that we
should not go over again to the hetmans in the first battle?"

"What do you want, then?"

"We want you to let us go."

"Why, you crazy man, that is impossible! I shall order you to be cut to

"And how many of your own will you lose?"

"A foot of you will not leave here!"

"And half of your men will not remain."

Both spoke the truth; therefore Krechovski, although the coolness of
the German roused all his blood, and rage began to overpower him, did
not wish to begin the battle for a while.

"Till the sun leaves the inlet," said he, "think the matter over; after
that I will give the order to touch the triggers!"

And he went off hurriedly in his boat to counsel with Hmelnitski.

The silence of expectation began. The Cossack boats surrounded in a
dense circle the Germans, who maintained the cool bearing possible only
to old and experienced soldiers in the presence of danger. To the
threats and insults which burst out on them every moment from the
Cossack boats, they answered with contemptuous silence. It was in truth
an imposing spectacle,--that calm in the midst of increasing outbursts
of rage on the part of the Cossacks, who, shaking their lances and
muskets threateningly, gnashed their teeth and, cursing, waited
impatiently the signal for battle.

Meanwhile the sun, turning from the south to the west, removed
gradually its golden rays from the inlet, which was slowly covered with
shade. At length it was completely covered. Then the trumpet began to
sound, and immediately after the voice of Krechovski was heard in the

"The sun has gone down! Have you decided yet?"

"We have!" answered Werner. And turning to the soldiers, he waved his
naked sword. "Fire!" commanded he, with a quiet phlegmatic voice.

There was a roar! The plash of bodies falling into the water, the cries
of rage, and rapid firing answered the voice of German muskets. Cannon
drawn up on shore answered with a deep roar, and began to hurl balls on
the German boats. Smoke covered the inlet completely, and only the
regular salvos of the muskets amidst the shouts, roaring, whistle of
Tartar arrows, and the rattle of guns and muskets, announced that the
Germans were still defending themselves.

At sunset the battle was still raging, but appeared to be weaker.
Hmelnitski, with his companions Krechovski, Tugai Bey, and some
atamans, came to the shore to observe the struggle. The dilated
nostrils of the hetman inhaled the smoke of powder, and his ears took
in with pleasure the sound of the drowning and dying Germans. All three
of the leaders looked on the slaughter as on a spectacle, which at the
same time was a favorable omen for them.

The struggle was coming to an end. As the musketry ceased, the shouts
of Cossack triumph rose louder and louder to the sky.

"Tugai Bey," said Hmelnitski, "this is our first victory."

"There are no captives!" blurted out the murza. "I want no such
victories as this!"

"You will get captives in the Ukraine. You will fill all Stamboul and
Galata with your prisoners!"

"I will take even you, if there is no one else!" Having said this, the
wild Tugai Bey laughed ominously; then he added: "Still I should be
glad to have those 'Franks.'"

The battle had ended. Tugai Bey turned his horse to the camp.

"Now for Jóltiya Vodi!" cried Hmelnitski.

                              CHAPTER XV.

Skshetuski, hearing the battle, waited with trembling for the
conclusion of it. He thought at first that Hmelnitski was meeting all
the forces of the hetmans. But toward evening old Zakhar led him out of
his error. The news of the treason of the Cossacks under Krechovski and
the destruction of the Germans agitated Pan Yan to the bottom of his
soul; for it was prophetic of future desertions, and the lieutenant
knew perfectly that no small part of the armies of the hetmans was made
up of Cossacks.

The anguish of the lieutenant increased, and triumph in the Zaporojian
camp added bitterness to his sorrow. Everything foreshadowed the worst.
There were no tidings of Prince Yeremi, and evidently the hetmans had
made a terrible mistake; for instead of moving with all their forces to
Kudák or waiting for the enemy in fortified camps in the Ukraine, they
had divided their forces, weakened themselves of their own accord, and
opened a wide field to breach of faith and treason. It is true that
mention had been made previously in the Zaporojian camp of Krechovski,
and of the special despatch of troops under the leadership of Stephen
Pototski; but the lieutenant had given no faith to those reports. He
supposed that these troops were strong advance guards which would be
withdrawn in time. But it turned out otherwise. Hmelnitski was
strengthened several thousand men by the treason of Krechovski, and
terrible danger hung over young Pototski. Deprived of assistance and
lost in the Wilderness, Hmelnitski might easily surround and crush him

In pain from his wounds, in disquiet, during sleepless nights,
Skshetuski had consoled himself with the single thought of the prince.
The star of Hmelnitski must pale when that of the prince rises in
Lubni. And who knows whether he has not joined the hetmans already?
Though the forces of Hmelnitski were considerable, though the beginning
of the campaign was favorable, though Tugai Bey marched with him, and
in case of failure the "Tsar of the Crimea" had promised to move with
reinforcements in person, the thought never rose in the mind of
Skshetuski that the disturbance could endure long, that one Cossack
could shake the whole Commonwealth and break its terrible power. "That
wave will be broken at the threshold of the Ukraine," thought the
lieutenant. "How have all the Cossack rebellions ended? They have burst
out like a flame and have been stifled at the first meeting with the
hetmans." Such had been the outcome up to that time. For on one side
there rose a crowd of bandits from the lower country, and on the other
the power whose shores were washed by two seas. The end was easily
foreseen: the storm could not be lasting; it would pass, and calm would
follow. This thought strengthened Skshetuski, and perhaps kept him on
his feet while he was weighted with such a burden as he had never
carried in his life before. The storm, though it would pass might
desolate fields, wreck houses, and inflict unspeakable harm. In this
storm he had almost lost his life, had lost his strength, and had
fallen into bitter captivity just at the time when freedom was worth
really as much to him as life itself. What, then, must be the
suffering, in this uproar, of beings without power to defend
themselves? What was happening to Helena in Rozlogi?

But Helena must be in Lubni already. The lieutenant in his sleep saw
her surrounded by friendly faces, petted by Princess Griselda and the
prince himself, admired by the knights,--and still grieving for her
hussar, who had disappeared somewhere in the Saitch. But the time would
come at last when he would return, Hmelnitski himself had promised
freedom; and besides, the Cossack wave would flow on and on, to the
threshold of the Commonwealth, where it would be broken; then would
come the end of anxiety, affliction, and dread.

The wave flowed on, indeed. Hmelnitski moved forward without delay, and
marched to meet the son of the hetman. His power was really formidable;
for with the Cossacks of Krechovski and the party of Tugai Bey, he led
nearly twenty-five thousand trained men eager for battle. There was no
reliable information concerning Pototski's numbers. Deserters declared
that he had two thousand heavy cavalry and a number of field-pieces. A
battle with that proportion of forces might be doubtful; for one attack
of the terrible hussars was often sufficient to destroy ten times the
number of troops. Thus Pan Hodkyevich, the Lithuanian hetman, in his
time, with three thousand hussars at Kirchholm, ground into the dust
eighteen thousand chosen men of the Swedish infantry and cavalry; and
at Klushin one armored regiment with wild fury dispersed several
thousand English and Scotch mercenaries. Hmelnitski remembered this,
and marched, as the Russian chronicler has it, slowly and carefully;
"looking, with the many eyes of his mind, on every side, like a cunning
hunter, and having sentries posted five miles and farther from his

In this fashion he approached Jóltiya Vodi. Two new informants were
brought in. These gave assurance of the small number of Pototski's
forces, and stated that the castellan had already crossed Jóltiya Vodi.

Hearing this, Hmelnitski stopped as if pinned to the earth, and
intrenched himself. His heart beat joyfully. If Pototski would venture
on a storm, he must be beaten. The Cossacks were unequal to armored men
in the field, but behind a rampart they fought to perfection; and with
such great preponderance of power they would surely repulse an assault.
Hmelnitski reckoned on the youth and inexperience of Pototski. But at
the side of the young castellan was an accomplished soldier,--the
starosta of Jiwets, Stephen Charnetski, colonel of hussars. He saw the
danger, and persuaded Pototski to withdraw beyond Jóltiya Vodi.

Nothing was left to Hmelnitski but to follow him. Next day he crossed
the swamps of Jóltiya Vodi. The armies stood face to face, but neither
of the leaders wished to strike the first blow. The hostile camps began
to surround themselves hurriedly with trenches. It was Saturday, the
5th of May. Rain fell all day; clouds so covered the sky that from noon
darkness reigned as on a winter day. Toward evening the rain increased
still more. Hmelnitski rubbed his hands with joy.

"Only let the steppe get soft," said he to Krechovski, "and I shall not
hesitate to meet even the hussars on the offensive; for they will be
drowned in the mud with their heavy armor."

The rain fell and fell, as if Heaven itself wished to come to the aid
of the Zaporojians. The armies intrenched themselves lazily and
gloomily amidst streams of water. It was impossible to kindle fires.
Several thousand Tartars issued from the camp to watch lest the Polish
tabor, taking advantage of the fog, the rain, and the night, might try
to escape. Then profound stillness fell upon the camp. Nothing was
heard but the patter of rain and the sound of wind. It was certain that
no one slept on either side that night.

In the morning the trumpets sounded in the Polish camp, prolonged and
plaintive, as if giving an alarm; then drums began to rattle here and
there. The day rose gloomy, dark, damp; the storm had ceased, but still
there was rain, fine as if strained through a sieve.

Hmelnitski ordered the firing of a cannon. After it, was heard a
second, a third,--a tenth; and when the usual "correspondence" of camp
with camp had begun. Pan Yan said to Zakhar, his Cossack guardian:
"Take me out on the rampart, that I may see what is passing."

Zakhar was curious himself, and therefore made no opposition. They
mounted a lofty bastion, whence could be seen, as if on the palm of the
hand, the somewhat sunken valley in the steppe, the swamp of Jóltiya
Vodi, and both armies. But Pan Yan had barely given a glance when,
seizing his head, he cried,--

"As God is living! it is the advance guard,--nothing more!"

In fact, the ramparts of the Cossack camp extended almost a mile and a
quarter, while the Polish intrenchment looked like a little ditch in
comparison with it. The disparity of forces was so great that the
victory for the Zaporojians was beyond a doubt.

Pain straitened the lieutenant's heart. The hour of fall had not come
yet for pride and rebellion, and that which was coming was to be a new
triumph for them. At least, so it appeared.

Skirmishing under cannon-fire had already begun. From the bastion
single horsemen, or groups of them, could be seen in hand-to-hand
conflict. Now the Tartars fought with Pototski's Cossacks, dressed in
dark blue and yellow. The cavalry rushed on one another and retreated
quickly; approached from the flanks, hit one another from pistols and
bows or with lances, tried to catch one another with lariats. These
actions seemed from a distance more like amusement than fighting; and
only the horses, running along the field without riders, showed that it
was a question of life and death.

The Tartars came out thicker and thicker. Soon the plain was black from
the dense mass of them. Then, too, new regiments began to issue from
the Polish camp, and arrange themselves in battle-array before the
intrenchment. This was so near that Pan Yan, with his quick eye, was
able to distinguish clearly the flags and ensigns, and also the cavalry
captains and lieutenants, who were on horseback a little on one side of
the regiments.

His heart began to leap within him. A ruddy color appeared on his pale
face; and just as if he could find a favorable audience in Zakhar and
the Cossacks standing to their guns on the bastion, he cried with
enthusiasm as the regiments marched out of the intrenchments,--

"Those are the dragoons of Balaban; I saw them in Cherkasi! That is the
Wallachian regiment; they have a cross on their banner! Oh! now the
infantry comes down from the ramparts!" Then with still greater
delight, opening his hands: "The hussars! Charnetski's hussars!"

In fact the hussars came out, above their heads a cloud of wings; a
forest of lances embellished with golden tassels and with long green
and black bannerets, stood above them in the air. They went out six
abreast, and formed under the wall. At the sight of their calmness,
dignity, and good order tears of joy came into Skshetuski's eyes,
dimming his vision for a moment.

Though the forces were so disproportionate; though against these few
regiments there was blackening a whole avalanche of Zaporojians and
Tartars, which, as is usual, occupied the wings; though their ranks
extended so far into the steppe that it was difficult to see the end of
them,--Pan Yan believed now in the victory of the Poles. His face was
smiling, his strength came back; his eyes, intent on the field, shot
fire, but he was unable to stand.

"Hei, my child!" muttered old Zakhar, "the soul would like to enter

A number of detached Tartar bands rushed forward, with cries and shouts
of "Allah!" They were answered from the camp with shots. But these were
merely threats. The Tartars, before reaching the Polish regiments,
retreated on two sides to their own people and disappeared in the host.

Now the great drum of the Saitch was sounded, and at its voice a
gigantic crescent of Cossacks and Tartars rushed forward swiftly.
Hmelnitski was trying, apparently, to see whether he could not with one
sweep dislodge those regiments and occupy the camp. In case of
disorder, that was possible. But nothing of the kind took place with
the Polish regiments. They remained quietly, deployed in rather a long
line, the rear of which was covered by the intrenchment, and the flanks
by the cannon of the camp; so it was possible to strike them only in
front. For a while it seemed as if they would receive battle on the
spot; but when the crescent had passed half the field, the trumpets in
the intrenchment were sounded for attack, and suddenly the fence of
spears, till then pointing straight to the sky, was lowered to a line
with the heads of the horses.

"The hussars are charging!" cried Pan Yan.

They had, in fact, bent forward in the saddles, and were moving on, and
immediately after them the dragoon regiments and the whole line of

The momentum of the hussars was terrible. At the first onset they
struck three kurens,--two of Stebloff, and one of Mirgorod,--and
crushed them in the twinkle of an eye. The roar reached the ears of
Skshetuski. Horses and men, thrown from their feet with the gigantic
weight of the iron riders, fell like grain at the breath of a storm.
The resistance was so brief that it seemed to Pan Yan as though some
enormous dragons had swallowed the three kurens at a gulp. And they
were the best troops of the Saitch. Terrified by the noise of the
wings, the horses began to spread disorder in the Zaporojian ranks. The
Irkleyeff, Kalnibolok, Minsk, Shkurinsk, and Titareff regiments fell
into complete disorder, and pressed by the mass of the fleeing, began
to retreat in confusion. Meanwhile the dragoons came up with the
hussars, and began to help them in the bloody harvest. The Vasyurinsk
kuren, after a desperate resistance, turned in flight to the Cossack
intrenchments. The centre of Hmelnitski's forces, shaken more and more,
beaten, pushed into a disorderly mass, slashed with swords, forced back
in the iron onset, was unable to get time to stop and re-form.

"Devils! not Poles!" cried old Zakhar.

Skshetuski was as if bewildered. Being ill, he could not master
himself. He laughed and cried at once, and at times screamed out words
of command, as if he were leading the regiments himself. Zakhar held
him by the skirts, and had to call others to his aid.

The battle came so near the Cossack camp that faces could be almost
distinguished. There were artillery discharges from the intrenchments;
but the Cossack balls, striking their own men as well as the enemy,
increased the disorder. The hussars struck upon the Pashkoff kuren,
which formed the guard of the hetman, in the centre of which was
Hmelnitski himself. Suddenly a fearful cry was heard through all the
Cossack ranks. The great red standard had tottered and fallen.

But at that moment Krechovski, at the head of his five thousand
Cossacks, rushed to the fight. Sitting on an enormous cream-colored
horse, he flew on in the first rank, without a cap, a sabre above his
head, gathering before him the disordered Zaporojians, who, seeing the
approaching succor, though without order, returned to the attack. The
battle raged again in the centre of the line.

On both flanks fortune in like manner failed Hmelnitski. The Tartars,
repulsed twice by the Wallachian regiments and Pototski's Cossacks,
lost all eagerness for the fight. Two horses were killed under Tugai
Bey. Victory inclined continually to the side of young Pototski.

But the battle did not last long. The rain, which for some time had
been increasing every moment, soon became so violent that through the
rush of water nothing could be seen. Not streams, but torrents of rain
fell on the ground from the open flood-gates of heaven. The steppe was
turned into a lake. It grew so dark that one man could not distinguish
another at a few paces' distance. The noise of the storm drowned the
words of command. The wet muskets and guns grew silent. Heaven itself
put an end to the slaughter.

Hmelnitski, drenched to the skin, furious, rushed into his camp. He
spoke not a word to any man. A tent of camelskin was pitched, under
which, hiding himself, he sat alone with his sad thoughts.

Despair seized him. He understood at last what work he had begun. See!
he is beaten, repulsed, almost broken, in a battle with such a small
force that it could be properly considered as a scouting party. He knew
how great was the power of resistance in the armies of the
Commonwealth, and he took that into account when he ventured on a war.
And still he had failed in his reckoning,--so at least it seemed to him
at that moment. Therefore he seized himself by his shaven head, and
wished to break it against the first cannon he saw. What would the
resistance be at his meeting with the hetmans and the whole

His thoughts were interrupted by the entrance of Tugai Bey. The eyes of
the Tartar were blazing with rage; his face was pale, and his teeth
glittered from behind his lips, unhidden by mustaches.

"Where is the booty, where the prisoners, where the heads of the
leaders,--where is victory?" asked he, in a hoarse voice.

Hmelnitski sprang from his place. "There!" answered he loudly, pointing
to the Polish camp.

"Go there, then!" roared Tugai Bey; "and if you don't go, I will drag
you by a rope to the Crimea."

"I will go," said Hmelnitski,--"I will go to-day! I will take booty and
prisoners; but you shall give answer to the Khan, for you want booty
and you avoid battle."

"Dog!" howled Tugai Bey, "you are destroying the army of the Khan!"

For a moment they stood snorting in front of each other. Hmelnitski
regained his composure first.

"Tugai Bey," said he, "be not disturbed! Rain interrupted the battle,
just as Krechovski was breaking the dragoons. I know them! They will
fight with less fury to-morrow. The steppe will be mud to the bottom.
The hussars will be beaten. To-morrow everything will be ours."

"That's your word!" blurted out Tugai Bey.

"And I will keep it. Tugai Bey, my friend, the Khan sent you for my
assistance, not for my misfortune."

"You prophesied victory, not defeat."

"A few prisoners of the dragoons are taken; I will give them to you."

"Let me have them. I will order them to be empaled."

"Don't do that. Give them their liberty. They are men from the Ukraine,
from Balaban's regiment. I will send them to bring the dragoons over to
our side. It will be with them as with Krechovski."

Tugai Bey was satisfied; he glanced quickly at Hmelnitski, and
muttered: "Serpent!"

"Craft is the equal of courage. If we persuade the dragoons to our
side, not a man of the Poles will escape,--you understand!"

"I will have Pototski."

"I will give him to you, and Charnetski also."

"Let me have some vudka now, for it is cold."


At that moment entered Krechovski. The colonel was as gloomy as night.
His future starostaships, dignities, castles, and wealth were covered
as if with a fog. To-morrow they may disappear altogether, and perhaps
out of that fog will rise in their place a rope or a gibbet. Were it
not that the colonel had burned the bridges in his rear by destroying
the Germans, he would surely have begun to think how to betray
Hmelnitski in his turn, and go over with his Cossacks to Pototski's
camp. But that was impossible now.

The three sat down, therefore, to a decanter of vudka, and began to
drink in silence. The noise of the rain ceased gradually. It was
growing dark.

Skshetuski, exhausted from joy, weak and pale, lay motionless in the
telega. Zakhar, who had become attached to him, ordered the Cossacks to
put a little felt roof over him. The lieutenant listened to the dreary
sound of the rain, but in his soul it was clear, bright, and joyful.
Behold, his hussars had shown what they could do; his Commonwealth had
shown a resistance worthy of its majesty; the first impetus of the
Cossack storm had broken on the sharp spears of the royal army. And
besides there are the hetmans, there is also Prince Yeremi, and so many
lords, so many nobles, so much power, and above all these the king,
_primus inter pares_. Pride expanded the breast of Skshetuski, as if at
that moment it contained all that power.

In feeling this, he felt, for the first time since he had lost his
freedom in the Saitch, a certain pity for the Cossacks; they were
guilty, but blinded, since they tried to go to the sun on a spade. They
were guilty, but unfortunate, since they allowed themselves to be
carried away by one man, who is leading them to evident destruction.

Then his thoughts wandered farther. Peace would come, when every one
would have the right to think of his own private happiness. Then in
memory and spirit he hovers above Rozlogi. There, near the lion's den,
it must be as quiet as the falling of poppy-seeds. There the rebellion
will never raise its head; and though it should, Helena is already in
Lubni beyond a doubt.

Suddenly the roar of cannon disturbed the golden thread of his
thoughts. Hmelnitski, after drinking, led his regiments again to the
attack. But it ended with the play of cannon-firing. Krechovski
restrained the hetman.

The next morning was Sunday. The whole day passed quietly and without a
shot. The camps lay opposite each other, like the camps of two allied

Skshetuski attributed that silence to the discouragement of the
Cossacks. Alas! he did not know that then Hmelnitski, "looking forward
with the many eyes of his mind," was occupied in bringing Balaban's
dragoons to his side.

On Monday the battle began at daybreak. Pan Yan looked on it, as on the
first one, with a smiling, happy face. And again the regiments of the
crown came out before the intrenchment; but this time, not rushing to
the attack, they opposed the enemy where they stood. The steppe had
grown soft, not on the surface only, as during the first day of the
battle, but to its depths. The heavy cavalry could scarcely move; this
gave a great preponderance at once to the flying regiments of the
Cossacks and the Tartars. The smile vanished gradually from the
lieutenant's lips. At the Polish intrenchment the avalanche of attack
covered completely the narrow line of the Polish regiments. It appeared
as if that chain might break at any moment, and the attack begin
directly on the intrenchments. Skshetuski did not observe half of the
spirit or warlike readiness with which the regiments fought on the
first day. They defended themselves with stubbornness, but did not
strike first, did not crush the kurens to the earth, did not sweep the
field like a hurricane. The soft soil had rendered fury impossible, and
in fact fastened the heavy cavalry to its place in front of the
intrenchment. Impetus was the power of the cavalry, and decided
victories; but this time the cavalry was forced to remain on one spot.

Hmelnitski, on the contrary, led new regiments every moment to the
battle. He was present everywhere. He led each kuren personally to the
attack, and withdrew only before the sabres of the enemy. His ardor was
communicated gradually to the Zaporojians, who, though they fell in
large numbers, rushed to the attack with shouts and cries. They struck
the wall of iron breasts and sharp spears, and beaten, decimated,
returned again to the attack. Under this weight the regiments began to
waver, to disappear, and in places to retreat, just as an athlete
caught in the iron arms of an opponent grows weak, then struggles, and
strains every nerve.

Before midday nearly all the forces of the Zaporojians had been under
fire and in battle. The fight raged with such stubbornness that between
the two lines of combatants a new wall, as it were, was formed of the
bodies of horses and men. Every little while, from the battle to the
Cossack intrenchments came crowds of wounded men,--bloody, covered with
mud, panting, falling from weakness,--but they came with songs on their
lips. Fainting, they still cried, "To the death!" The garrison left in
the camp was impatient for the fight.

Pan Yan hung his head. The Polish regiments began to retreat from the
field to the intrenchment. They were unable to hold out, and a feverish
haste was observable in their retreat. At the sight of this twenty
thousand mouths and more gave forth a shout of joy, and redoubled the
attack. The Zaporojians sprang upon the Cossacks of Pototski, who
covered the retreat. But the cannon and a shower of musket-balls drove
them back. The battle ceased for a moment. In the Polish camp a trumpet
for parley was sounded.

Hmelnitski, however, did not wish to parley. Twelve kurens slipped from
their horses to storm the breastworks on foot, with the infantry and
Tartars. Krechovski, with three thousand infantry, was coming to their
aid in the decisive moment. All the drums, trumpets, and kettledrums
sounded at once, drowning the shouts and salvos of musketry.

Skshetuski looked with trembling upon the deep ranks of the peerless
Zaporojian infantry rushing to the breastworks and surrounding them
with an ever-narrowing circle. Long streaks of white smoke were blown
out at it from the breastworks, as if some gigantic bosom were striving
to blow away the locusts closing in upon it inexorably from every side.
Cannon-balls dug furrows in it; the firing of musketry did not weaken
for a moment. Swarms melted before the eye; the circle quivered in
places like a wounded snake, but went on. Already they are coming! They
are under the breastworks! The cannon can hurt them no longer!
Skshetuski closed his eyes.

And now questions flew through his head as swift as lightning: When he
opens his eyes will he see the Polish banners on the breastwork? Will
he see--or will he not see? There is some unusual tumult increasing
every moment. Something must have happened? The shouts come from the
centre of the camp. What is it? What has happened?

"All-powerful God!"

That cry was forced from the mouth of Pan Yan when opening his eyes he
saw on the battlements the crimson standard with the archangel, instead
of the golden banner of the crown. The camp was captured.

In the evening he learned from Zakhar of the whole course of the storm.
Not in vain had Tugai Bey called Hmelnitski a serpent; for in the
moment of most desperate defence the dragoons of Balaban, talked over
by the hetman, joined the Cossacks, and hurling themselves on the rear
of their own regiments, aided in cutting them to pieces.

In the evening the lieutenant saw the prisoners, and was present at the
death of young Pototski, who, having his throat pierced by an arrow,
lived only a few hours after the battle, and died in the arms of
Stephen Charnetski: "Tell my father," whispered the young castellan in
his last moments,--"tell my father--that--like a knight--" He could add
no more. His soul left the body and flew to heaven.

Pan Yan long after remembered that pale face and those blue eyes gazing
upward in the moment of death. Charnetski made a vow over the cold body
to expiate the death of his friend and the disgrace of defeat in
torrents of blood, should God give him freedom. And not a tear flowed
over his stern face, for he was a knight of iron, greatly famed already
for deeds of daring, and known as a man whom no misfortune could bend.
He kept the vow. Instead of yielding to despair, he strengthened Pan
Yan, who was suffering greatly from the disgrace and defeat of the

"The Commonwealth has passed through more than one defeat," said
Charnetski, "but she contains within her inexhaustible force. No power
has broken her as yet, and she will not be broken by a sedition of
serfs, whom God himself will punish, since by rising up against
authority, they are putting themselves against his will. As to defeat,
true, it is sad; but who have endured defeat?--the hetmans, the forces
of the crown? No! After the defection and treason of Krechovski, the
division which Pototski led could be considered only an advance guard.
The uprising will spread undoubtedly through the whole Ukraine, for the
serfs there are insolent and trained to fighting; but an uprising in
that part is no novelty. The hetmans will quell it, with Prince Yeremi,
whose power stands unshaken as yet; the more violent the outburst, when
once put down, the longer will be the peace, which may last perhaps
forever. He would be a man of little faith and a small heart, who could
admit that some Cossack leader, in company with one Tartar murza, could
really threaten a mighty people. Evil would it be with the
Commonwealth, if a simple outbreak of serfs could be made a question of
its fate or its existence. In truth we did set out contemptuously on
this expedition," said Charnetski; "and though our division is rubbed
out, I believe that the hetmans are able to put down this rebellion,
not with the sword, not with armor, but with clubs."

And while he was speaking in this manner, it seemed that not a captive,
not a soldier after a lost battle was speaking, but a proud hetman,
certain of victory on the morrow. This greatness of soul and faith in
the Commonwealth flowed like balsam over the wounds of the lieutenant.
He had had a near view of the power of Hmelnitski, therefore it blinded
him somewhat, especially since success had followed it to that moment.
But Charnetski must be right. The forces of the hetmans were still
intact, and behind them stood the power of the Commonwealth, the rights
of authority, and the will of God. The lieutenant therefore went away
strengthened in soul and more cheerful. When going he asked Charnetski
if he did not wish to begin negotiations for his freedom with
Hmelnitski at once.

"I am the captive of Tugai Bey," said Charnetski; "to him I will pay my
ransom. But with that fellow Hmelnitski I will have nothing to do; I
give him to the hangman."

Zakhar, who had made it easy for Skshetuski to see the prisoners,
comforted him while returning to the telega.

"Not with young Pototski, but with the hetmans is the difficulty. The
struggle is only begun, but what will be the end, God knows! The
Cossacks and Tartars have taken Polish treasure, it is true, but it is
one thing to take and another to keep. And you, my child, do not
grieve, do not despair, for you will get your freedom in time. You will
go to your own people, and I, old man, shall be sorry for you. It is
sad for an old man alone in the world. With the hetmans it will be
hard, oh, how hard!"

In truth the victory, though brilliant, did not in the least decide the
struggle for Hmelnitski. It might even be unfavorable for him, because
it was easy to foresee that now the Grand Hetman, to avenge his son,
would press upon the Cossacks with special stubbornness, and would
leave nothing undone to break them at once. The Grand Hetman, however,
cherished a certain dislike for Prince Yeremi, which, though veiled
with politeness, was still evident enough in various circumstances.

Hmelnetski, knowing this perfectly, admitted that now this dislike
would cease, and Pototski would first reach out his hand in
reconciliation, which would secure for him the assistance of a famous
warrior and his powerful troops. With such forces united under a leader
like the prince, Hmelnitski did not dare yet to measure strength, for
he had not yet sufficient confidence in himself. He determined
therefore to hasten, and together with the news of the defeat of
Jóltiya Vodi, appear in the Ukraine, and strike the hetmans before the
succor of the prince could arrive.

He gave no rest to his troops, therefore, but at daybreak after the
battle hurried on. The march was as rapid as if the hetman were
fleeing. It was as if an inundation were covering the steppe and
rushing forward, collecting all the waters on the way. Forests,
oak-groves, grave-mounds were avoided; rivers were crossed without
halting. The Cossack forces increased on the road, for new crowds of
peasants fleeing from the Ukraine were added to them continually.

They brought news of the hetmans, but contradictory. Some said that
Prince Yeremi was yet beyond the Dnieper; others that he had joined the
forces of the crown. But all declared that the Ukraine was already on
fire. The peasants were not only fleeing to meet Hmelnitski in the
Wilderness, but burning villages and towns, throwing themselves on
their masters, and arming everywhere. The forces of the crown had been
fightings for the past two weeks. Stebloff was destroyed; at
Derenhovtsi a bloody battle had been fought. The town Cossacks in
various places went over to the side of the people, and at all points
were merely waiting for the word. Hmelnitski had reckoned on all this,
and hastened the more.

At last he stood on the threshold. Chigirin opened wide her gates. The
Cossack garrison went over at once to his regiments. The house of
Chaplinski was wrecked; a handful of nobles, seeking refuge in the
town, were cut to pieces. Joyful shouts, ringing of bells, and
processions ceased not for a moment. The whole region flamed up at
once. All living men, seizing scythes and pikes, joined the
Zaporojians; endless crowds hastened to the camp from every side. There
came also joyful, because certain, tidings that Yeremi had indeed
offered his assistance to the hetmans, but had not yet joined them.

Hmelnitski felt relieved. He moved on without delay, and advanced
through insurrection, slaughter, and fire. Ruin and corpses bore
witness to this. He advanced like an avalanche, destroying everything
in his path. The country rose before him, and was a desert behind. He
went like an avenger, like a legendary dragon; his footsteps pressed
out blood, his breath kindled conflagrations.

In Cherkasi he halted with his main forces, sending in advance the
Tartars under Tugai Bey and the wild Krívonos, who came up with the
Polish hetmans at Korsún and attacked them without delay. The Tartars
were forced to pay dearly for their boldness. Repulsed, decimated,
scattered, they retreated in confusion.

Hmelnitski hurried to their aid. On the way news reached him that
Senyavski with some regiments had joined the hetmans, who had left
Korsún, and were marching on Boguslav. This was true. Hmelnitski
occupied Korsún without resistance, and leaving there his trains and
provisions, in a word, his whole camp, hurried after them. He had no
need to follow long, for they had not gone far. At Krutaya Balka his
advance guard came upon the Polish camp.

It was not given to Skshetuski to see the battle, for he remained in
Korsún with the camp. Zakhar lodged him on the square, in the house of
Zabokshytski, whom the crowd had already hanged, and placed a guard
from the remnants of the Mirgorod kuren; for the crowd robbed
continually, and killed every man who seemed to them a Pole. Through
the broken windows Skshetuski saw the multitude of drunken peasants,
bloody, with rolled-up shirt-sleeves, going from house to house, from
cellar to cellar, and searching all corners, garrets, lofts; from time
to time a terrible noise announced that a nobleman, a Jew, a man, a
woman, or a child had been found. The victim was dragged to the square
and gloated over in the most fearful manner. The crowd fought with
one another for the remnants of the bodies; with delight they rubbed
the blood on their faces and breasts, and wound the still steaming
entrails around their necks. They seized little Jews by the legs and
tore them apart amid the wild laughter of the mob. They rushed upon
houses surrounded by guards in which distinguished captives were
confined,--left living because large ransoms were expected from them.
Then the Zaporojians or the Tartars standing guard repulsed the crowd,
thumping the assailants on the heads with their pikestaffs, bows, or
ox-hide whips. Such was the case before the house where Skshetuski was.
Zakhar gave orders to handle the crowd without mercy, and the Mirgorod
men executed the order with pleasure; for the men of the lower country
received the assistance of the mob willingly in time of insurrection,
but had more contempt for them than they had for the nobility. It was
not in vain therefore that they called themselves "nobly born
Cossacks." Later Hmelnitski himself presented more than once
considerable numbers of the mob to the Tartar, who drove them to the
Crimea, where they were sold into Turkey and Asia Minor.

The crowd rioted on the square, and reached such wild disorder that at
last they began to kill one another. The day was drawing to an end. One
side of the square and the priest's house were on fire. Fortunately the
wind blew the fire toward the field, and prevented the extension of the
conflagration. But the gigantic flame lighted up the square as brightly
as the sun's rays. The excitement became too great for restraint. From
a distance came the terrible roar of cannon; it was evident that the
battle at Krutaya Balka was growing fiercer and fiercer.

"It must be pretty hot for ours there," muttered old Zakhar. "The
hetmans are not trifling. Ah! Pan Pototski is a real soldier." Then he
pointed through the window at the crowd. "Oh!" said he, "they are
revelling now; but if Hmelnitski is beaten, then there will be
revelling over them."

At that moment the tramp of cavalry was heard, and a number of riders
rushed to the square on foaming horses. Their faces black from powder,
their clothes torn, and the heads of some of them bound in rags showed
that they had hurried straightway from battle.

"People who believe in God, save yourselves! The Poles are beating
ours!" they cried in loud voices.

Tumult and disorder followed. The multitude moved like a wave tossed by
the wind. Suddenly wild dismay possessed all. They rushed to escape;
but the streets were blocked with wagons, one part of the square was on
fire, there was no place for flight. The crowd began to press and cry,
to beat, choke one another, and howl for mercy, though the enemy was
far away.

The lieutenant, when he heard what was taking place, grew almost wild
from joy. He began to run through the room like a madman, to beat his
breast with his hands with all his power, and to cry,--

"I knew that it would be so! As I am alive, I knew it! This is the
meeting with the hetmans, with the whole Commonwealth! The hour of
punishment has come! What is this?"

Again resounded the tramp; and this time several hundred Tartar
horsemen appeared on the square. They rushed on at random. The crowd
stopped the way before them. They rushed at the crowd, struck, beat,
and dispersed it; they lashed their horses, urging them on to the road
leading to Cherkasi.

"They run like a whirlwind," said Zakhar.

Scarcely had Skshetuski moved when a second division flew by, and after
that a third. The flight seemed to be general. The guards before the
houses began to grow uneasy, and also to show a wish to escape. Zakhar
hurried through the porch.

"Halt!" cried he to the Mirgorod men.

Smoke, heat, disorder, the tramping of horses, sounds of alarm, the
howling of the crowd in the light of the conflagration, were blended in
one fearful picture on which the lieutenant gazed through the window.

"What a defeat there must be! what a defeat!" cried he to Zakhar, not
considering that the latter could not share his delight.

Now a new division of fugitives rushed by like lightning. The thunder
of cannon shook the houses of Korsún to their foundations. Suddenly a
shrieking voice began to cry right there at the house,--

"Save yourselves! Hmelnitski is killed! Hmelnitski is killed! Tugai Bey
is killed!"

On the square there was a real end of the world. People in terror
rushed into the flames. The lieutenant fell upon his knees, raised his
hands to heaven,--

"Oh, almighty, great, and just God, praise to thee in the highest!"

Zakhar interrupted his prayer, running into the room from the

"Come now," said he, panting, "come and promise pardon to the Mirgorod
men, for they wish to go away; and if they go, the crowd will fall upon

Skshetuski went out to the porch. The Mirgorod men were moving
around unquietly before the house, exhibiting a firm determination to
leave the place and flee by the road leading to Cherkasi. Fear had
taken possession of every one in the town. Each moment new crowds
came, fleeing, as if on wings, from the direction of Krutáya
Balka,--peasants, Tartars, town Cossacks, Zaporojians, in the greatest
disorder. And still Hmelnitski's principal forces must be fighting yet.
The battle could not be entirely decided, for the cannon were
thundering with redoubled force. Skshetuski turned to the Mirgorod men.

"Because you have guarded my person well," said he, loftily, "you need
no flight to save yourselves, for I promise you intercession and favor
with the hetman."

The Mirgorod men uncovered their heads. Pan Yan put his hands on his
hips, and looked proudly on the square, which grew emptier each moment.
What a change of fate! Here is the lieutenant, a short time since a
captive, dragged after the Cossack camp; now he has become among
insolent Cossacks as a lord among subjects, as a noble among peasants,
as an armored hussar among camp-followers. He, a captive, has now
promised favor, and heads are uncovered in his presence, while
submissive voices cry with that prolonged tone indicating fear and

"Show favor to us, lord!"

"It will be as I have said," returned the lieutenant.

He was indeed sure of the efficacy of his intercession with the hetman,
with whom he was acquainted, for he had often borne letters to him from
Prince Yeremi, and knew how to secure his favor. He stood, therefore,
with his hands on his hips; and joy was on his face, lighted up with
the blaze of the conflagration.

"Behold! the war is at an end, the wave is broken at the threshold!"
thought he. "Pan Charnetski was right: the forces of the Commonwealth
are unexhausted, its power unbroken."

When he thought of this, pride swelled his breast,--not ignoble pride,
coming from a hoped-for satisfaction of vengeance, from the conquest of
an enemy; not the gaining of freedom, which now he expected every
moment; nor because caps were removed before him; but he felt proud
because he was a son of that victorious and mighty Commonwealth,
against whose gates every malice, every attack, every blow, is broken
and crushed like the powers of hell against the gates of heaven. He
felt proud, as a patriotic nobleman, that he had received strength in
his despondency, and was not deceived in his faith. He desired no

"She has conquered like a queen, she will forgive like a mother,"
thought he.

Meanwhile the roar of cannon was changed to prolonged thunder. Horses'
hoofs clattered again over the empty streets. A Cossack, bareheaded and
in his shirt-sleeves, dashed into the square on a barebacked horse,
with the speed of a thunderbolt; his face, cut open with a sword, was
streaming with blood. He reined in the horse, stretched forth his
hands, and when he had taken breath, with open mouth began to cry,--

"Hmelnitski is beating the Poles! The serene great mighty lords, the
hetmans and colonels, are conquered,--the knights and the cavalry!"

When he had said this, he reeled and fell to the ground. The men of
Mirgorod sprang to assist him.

Flame and pallor passed over the face of Skshetuski.

"What does he say?" asked he feverishly of Zakhar. "What has happened?
It cannot be. By the living God, it cannot be!"

Silence! Only the hissing of flames on the opposite side of the square,
shaking out clusters of sparks, and from time to time a burnt house
falls with a crash.

Now more couriers rush in. "Beaten are the Poles,--beaten!"

After them follow a detachment of Tartars. They march slowly, for they
surround men on foot, evidently prisoners.

Skshetuski believes not his own eyes. He recognizes perfectly on the
prisoners the uniform of the hetmans' hussars; then he drops his hands,
and with a wild, strange voice repeats persistently, "It cannot be! it
cannot be!"

The roar of cannon was still to be heard. The battle was not finished,
but through all the unburnt streets Zaporojians and Tartars were
crowding in, their faces black, their breasts heaving, but they were
coming as if intoxicated, singing songs. Thus return soldiers from

The lieutenant grew pale as a corpse. "It cannot be!" repeated he in a
hoarser voice,--"it cannot be! The Commonwealth--"

A new object arrested his attention. Krechovski's Cossacks enter the
town, bringing bundles of flags. They come to the centre of the square,
and throw them down. Polish flags!

The roar of the artillery weakens, and in the distance is heard the
rumble of approaching wagons. One of them is in advance,--a lofty
Cossack telega, and after it a line of others, all surrounded by
Cossacks of the Pashkoff kuren, in yellow caps; they pass near the
house where the Mirgorod men are standing.

Skshetuski put his hand over his eyes, for the glare of the burning
blinded him, and looked at the prisoners sitting in the first wagon.
Suddenly he sprang back, began to beat the air with his hands, like a
man struck with an arrow in the breast, and from his lips came a
terrible unearthly cry: "Jesus, Mary! the hetmans!"

He dropped into the arms of Zakhar; his eyes became leaden, his face
grew stiff and rigid as that of a corpse.

A few minutes later three horsemen rode into the square of Korsún, at
the head of countless regiments. The middle rider, in red uniform, sat
on a white horse, holding a gilded baton at his side. He looked as
proud as a king. This was Hmelnitski. On one side of him rode Tugai
Bey, on the other Krechovski.

The Commonwealth lay prostrate in dust and blood at the feet of a

                              CHAPTER XVI.

Some days passed by. It appeared to men as if the vault of heaven had
suddenly dropped on the Commonwealth. Jóltiya Vodi; Korsún; the
destruction of the armies of the crown, ever victorious hitherto in
struggles with the Cossacks; the capture of the hetmans; the awful
conflagration in the whole Ukraine; slaughters, murders, unheard of
since the beginning of the world,--all these came so suddenly that men
almost refused to believe that so many misfortunes could come upon one
land at a time. Many, in fact, did not believe it; some became helpless
from terror, some lost their senses, some prophesied the coming of
antichrist and the approach of the day of judgment. All social ties
were severed; all intercourse between people and families was
interrupted. Every authority ceased; distinction of persons vanished.
Hell had freed from its chains all crimes, and let them out on the
world to revel; therefore murder, pillage, perfidy, brutality,
violence, robbery, frenzy, took the place of labor, uprightness, and
conscience. It seemed as though henceforth people would live not
through good, but through evil; that the hearts and intentions of men
had become inverted, and that they held as sacred that which hitherto
had been infamous, and that as infamous which hitherto had been sacred.
The sun shone no longer upon the earth, for it was hidden by the smoke
of conflagrations; in the night, instead of stars and moon, shone the
light of fires. Towns, villages, churches, palaces, forests, went up in
flames. People ceased to converse; they only groaned or howled like
dogs. Life lost its value. Thousands perished without an echo, without
remembrance. And from out all these calamities, deaths, groans, smoke,
and burnings, there rose only one man. Every moment loftier and higher,
every moment more terribly gigantic, he wellnigh obscured the light of
day, and cast his shadow from sea to sea. That man was Bogdan

A hundred and twenty thousand men, armed and drunk with victory, stood
ready at his nod. The mob had risen on all sides; the Cossacks of the
towns joined him in every place. The country from the Pripet to the
borders of the Wilderness was on fire. The insurrection extended in the
provinces of Rus, Podolia, Volynia, Bratslav, Kieff, and Chernigoff.
The power of the hetman increased each day. Never had the Commonwealth
opposed to its most terrible enemy half the forces which he then
commanded. The German emperor had not equal numbers in readiness. The
storm surpassed every expectation. The hetman himself did not recognize
at first his own power, and did not understand how he had risen so
high. He shielded himself yet with justice, legality, and loyalty to
the Commonwealth, for he did not know then that he might trample upon
these expressions as empty phrases; but as his forces grew there rose
in him that immeasurable, unconscious egotism the equal of which is not
presented by history. The understanding of good and evil, of virtue and
vice, of violence and justice, were confounded in the soul of
Hmelnitski with the understanding of injuries done him, or with his
personal profit. That man was honorable who was with him; that man was
a criminal who was against him. He was ready to complain of the sun,
and to count it as a personal injustice if sunshine were not given at
his demand. Men, events, nay, the whole world, he measured with his own
_ego_. But in spite of all the cunning, all the hypocrisy of the
hetman, there was a kind of deformed good faith in this theory of his.
All Hmelnitski's crimes flowed from this theory, but his good deeds as
well; for if he knew no bounds in his cruelty and tyranny to an enemy,
he knew how to be thankful for every even involuntary service which was
rendered him.

Only when he was drunk did he forget even good deeds, and bellowing
with fury, with foam on his lips, issue bloody orders, for which he
grieved afterward. And in proportion as his success grew, was he
oftener drunk, for unquiet took increasing possession of him. It would
seem that triumph carried him to heights which he did not wish to
occupy. His power amazed other men, but it amazed himself too. The
gigantic hand of rebellion seized and bore him on with the swiftness of
lightning and inexorably. But whither? How was all this to end?
Commencing sedition in the name of his own wrongs, that Cossack
diplomat might calculate that after his first successes, or even after
defeats, he could begin negotiations; that forgiveness would be offered
him, satisfaction and recompense for injustice and injuries. He knew
the Commonwealth intimately,--its patience, inexhaustible as the sea;
its compassion, knowing neither bounds nor measure, which flowed not
merely from weakness, for pardon was offered Nalivaika when he was
surrounded and lost. But after the victory at Jóltiya Vodi, after the
destruction of the hetmans, after the kindling of civil war in all the
southern provinces, affairs had gone too far. Events had surpassed all
expectations, and now the struggle must be for life and death. To whose
side would victory incline?


                   _From an engraving by Moncornet_.

Hmelnitski inquired of soothsayers, took counsel of the stars, and
strained his eyes into the future, but saw nothing ahead save darkness.
At times, therefore, an awful unquiet raised the hairs on his head, and
in his breast despair raged like a whirlwind. What will be?--what will
be? For Hmelnitski, observing more closely than others, understood at
once, better than many, that the Commonwealth knew not how to use its
own forces,--was unconscious of them,--but had tremendous power. If the
right man should grasp that power in his hand, who could stand against
him? And who could guess whether terrible danger, the nearness of the
precipice and destruction, might not put an end to broils, internal
dissensions, private grievances, rivalries of magnates, wrangling, the
babbling of the Diets, the license of the nobility, and the weakness of
the king? Then a half-million of escutcheoned warriors alone could move
to the field, and crush Hmelnitski, even if he were aided not only by
the Khan of the Crimea, but by the Sultan of Turkey himself.

Of this slumbering power of the Commonwealth the late King Vladislav
was aware, as well as Hmelnitski; and therefore he labored all his life
to initiate a mortal struggle with the greatest potentate on earth, for
only in this way could that power be called into life. In accordance
with this conviction, the king did not hesitate to throw sparks on the
Cossack powder. Were the Cossacks really destined to cause that
inundation, in order to be overwhelmed in it at last?

Hmelnitski understood, too, that in spite of all the weakness of the
Commonwealth its resistance was tremendous. Against this Commonwealth,
so disorderly, ill-united, insubordinate, the Turkish waves, the most
terrible of all were broken as against a cliff. Thus it was at Khotím
which he saw almost with his own eyes. That Commonwealth, even in times
of weakness, planted its standards on the walls of foreign capitals.
What resistance will it offer, what will it not do when brought to
despair, when it must either die or conquer?

In view of this, every triumph of Hmelnitski was to him a new danger,
for it hastened the moment when the sleeping lion would wake, and
brought negotiations nearer the impossible. In every victory lay a
future defeat, and in every intoxication bitterness at the bottom.
After the storm of the Cossacks would come the storm of the
Commonwealth. Already it seemed to Hmelnitski that he heard its dull
and distant roar. Behold, from Great Poland, Prussia, populous Mazovia,
Little Poland, and Lithuania will come crowds of warriors! They need
but a leader.

Hmelnitski had taken the hetmans captive, but in that good fortune
there lurked also an ambush of fate. The hetmans were experienced
warriors, but no one of them was the man demanded by that period of
tempest, terror, and distress. The leader at that time could be but one
man. That man was Prince Yeremi Vishnyevetski. Just because the hetmans
had gone into captivity the choice would be likely to fall on the
prince. Hmelnitski in common with all had no doubt of this.

Meanwhile news flew from beyond the Dnieper to Korsún, where the
Zaporojian hetman had stopped to rest after the battle, that the
terrible prince had started for Lubni; that on the road he was stamping
out rebellion; that after his passage villages, hamlets, towns,
farmhouses, had vanished, and the places in which they had been were
bristling with bloody impaling-stakes and gibbets. Terror doubled and
trebled the number of his forces; it was said that he led fifteen
thousand of the choicest troops to be found in the Commonwealth.

In the Cossack camp, shortly after the battle at Krutaya Balka, the
cry, "Yeremi is coming!" was heard among the Cossacks and spread a
panic among the mob, who began to run away unreasoningly. This alarm
astonished Hmelnitski greatly.

He had his choice then,--either to march with all his power against the
prince and seek him beyond the Dnieper, or, leaving a part of his
forces to capture the castles of the Ukraine, move into the heart of
the Commonwealth. An expedition against the prince was not without
danger, Hmelnitski, in spite of the preponderance of his forces, might
suffer defeat in a general engagement, and then all would be lost at
once. The mob, who composed the great majority, gave evidence that they
would flee at the very name of Yeremi. Time was necessary to change
this mob into an army capable of facing the regiments of the prince.
Besides, Yeremi would not be likely to accept a general battle, but
would be content with defence in castles and partisan war which might
last entire months, if not years, and by that time the Commonwealth
would surely collect new forces and move to reinforce him.

Hmelnitski therefore determined to leave Vishnyevetski beyond the
Dnieper, strengthen himself in the Ukraine, organize his power, then
march on the Commonwealth and force it to terms. He calculated that the
suppression of the rebellion on the east of the Dnieper alone would
occupy for a long time all the forces of the prince, and leave a free
field to himself. He hoped therefore to foment rebellion by sending
single regiments to aid the mob, and finally he thought it would be
possible to deceive the prince by negotiations, and retard matters by
waiting till the power of Vishnyevetski should be broken. In view of
this he remembered Pan Yan.

Some days after Krutaya Balka, and on the very day of the alarm of the
mob, he had Skshetuski called before him. He received him in the house
of the starosta, in presence of Krechovski only, who was long known to
Skshetuski; and after he had greeted him kindly, though not without a
lofty air corresponding to his present position, he said,--

"Lieutenant Skshetuski, for the kindness which you have shown me I have
ransomed you from Tugai Bey and promised you freedom. Now the hour has
come. I give you this baton of a colonel to secure a free passage, in
case any of the forces should meet you, and a guard for protection
against the mob. You may return to your prince."

Skshetuski was silent; no smile of joy appeared on his face.

"But are you able to take the road, for I see that illness of some kind
is looking out through your eyes?"

Pan Yan, in truth, seemed like a shadow. Wounds and recent events had
weakened the young giant, who looked as though he could give no promise
of surviving till the morrow. His face had grown yellow, and the black
beard, long untrimmed, added to the wretchedness of his appearance.
This rose from internal suffering. The knight's heart was almost
broken. Dragged after the Tartar camp, he had been a witness of all
that had happened since they issued from the Saitch. He had seen the
defeat and disgrace of the Commonwealth, and the hetmans in captivity;
he had seen the Cossack's triumph, pyramids of heads cut from fallen
soldiers, noblemen hanged by the ribs, the breasts of women cut off,
and maidens dishonored; he had seen the despair of daring and the
baseness of fear; he had seen everything, endured everything, and
suffered the more because the thought was in his bosom and brain, like
the stab of a knife, that he himself was the remote cause, for he and
no other had cut Hmelnitski loose from the lariat. But was a Christian
knight to suppose that succor given one's neighbor could bring such
fruit? His pain therefore was beyond measure.

When he asked himself what was happening to Helena, and when he thought
what might happen if an evil fate should keep her in Rozlogi, he
stretched his hands to heaven and cried in a voice in which quivered
deep despair, almost a threat: "God! take my life, for I am punished
beyond my deserts!" Then he saw that he was blaspheming, fell on his
face, and prayed for salvation, for forgiveness, for mercy on his
country and that innocent dove, who maybe had called in vain for God's
help and his. In one word, he had suffered so much beyond his power
that the freedom granted did not rejoice him; and that Zaporojian
hetman, that conqueror who wished to be magnanimous by showing his
favor, made no impression upon him at all. Seeing this, Hmelnitski
frowned and said,--

"Hasten to take advantage of my favor, lest I change my mind; for it is
my kindness and belief in a just cause which makes me so careless as to
provide an enemy for myself, for I know well that you will fight
against me."

To which Skshetuski answered: "If God gives me strength."

And he gazed at Hmelnitski, till he looked into the depth of his soul.
The hetman, unable to endure the gaze, cast his eyes to the ground, and
after a moment said,--

"Enough of this! I am too powerful to be troubled by one sick man. Tell
the prince your lord what you have seen, and warn him to be less
insolent; for if my patience fails I will visit him beyond the Dnieper,
and I do not think my visit will be pleasant to him."

Skshetuski was silent.

"I say, and repeat once more," added Hmelnitski, "I am carrying on war,
not with the Commonwealth, but with the kinglets; and the prince is in
the first rank among them. He is an enemy to me and to the Russian
people, an apostate from our church, and a savage tyrant. I hear that
he is quelling the uprising in blood; let him see to it that he does
not spill his own."

Thus speaking, he became more and more excited, till the blood began to
rush to his face, and his eyes flashed fire. It was evident that one of
those paroxysms of anger and rage in which he lost his memory and
presence of mind altogether was seizing him.

"I will command Krívonos to bring him with a rope!" cried he. "I will
trample him under foot, and mount my horse on his back!"

Skshetuski looked down on the raging Hmelnitski, and then said calmly:
"Conquer him first."

"Hetman," said Krechovski, "let this insolent noble go his way, for it
does not become your dignity to be affected by anger against him; and
since you have promised him freedom he calculates that either you will
break your word or listen to his invectives."

Hmelnitski bethought himself, panted awhile, then said,--

"Let him go then, and give him a baton, as I have said, and forty
Tartars, who will take him to his own camp, so that he may know that
Hmelnitski returns good for good." Then turning to Pan Yan, he added:
"You know that we are even now. I liked you in spite of your insolence,
but if you fall into my hands again you will not escape."

Skshetuski went out with Krechovski.

"Since the hetman has let you off with your life," said Krechovski,
"and you can go where you please, I tell you, for old acquaintance'
sake, to seek safety in Warsaw rather than beyond the Dnieper, for you
will not leave there alive. Your time has passed. If you were wise you
would come to our side, but I know that it is useless to tell you this.
You would rise as high as we."

"To the gallows," muttered Skshetuski.

"They would not give me the starostaship of Lita, but now I can take,
not only one, but ten such places. We will drive out the
Konyetspolskis, Kalinovskis, Pototskis, Lyubomirskis, Vishnyevetskis,
Zaslavskis, and all the nobility, and divide their estates; which must
be according to the will of God, for he has already given us two great

Pan Yan was thinking of something else, and did not hear the prating of
the colonel, who continued,--

"When after the battle I saw the high mighty hetman of the crown, my
lord and benefactor, bound in Tugai Bey's quarters, and he was pleased
immediately to call me a Judas and unthankful, I answered him: 'Serene,
great voevoda! I am not unthankful, for when I shall be in possession
of your castles and property, I will make you my under-starosta if you
will promise not to get drunk.' Oh, ho! Tugai Bey will get ransom for
those birds that he has caught, and therefore he spares them; were it
not for that, Hmelnitski and I would talk differently to them. But see!
the wagon is ready for you and the Tartars are on hand. Where do you
wish to go?"

"To Chigirin."

"'As thou makest thy bed, so wilt thou sleep.' The Tartars will conduct
you even to Lubni, for such are their orders. See, however, that your
prince does not have them impaled, as he surely would Cossacks. This is
why Tartars are given to you. The hetman has ordered that your horse be
given you. Farewell! Remember us with kindness. Give our hetman's
respects to your prince, and if he be persuaded to come to Hmelnitski
with homage, he may find favor. Farewell!"

Pan Yan seated himself in the wagon, which the Tartars surrounded at
once; and they moved on. It was difficult to pass through the square,
which was completely packed with Zaporojians and the mob. Both were
cooking kasha for themselves, while singing songs over the victory of
Jóltiya Vodi and Korsún, composed by blind minstrels, a multitude of
whom came from all sides to the camp. Between the fires burning under
the kasha kettles, lay here and there bodies of murdered women over
whom orgies had taken place in the night, or stood pyramids of heads
cut from the bodies of killed and wounded soldiers. These bodies and
heads had begun to decay and give out an offensive odor, which however
did not seem to be at all disagreeable to the assembled crowds. The
town bore marks of devastation and the wild license of Zaporojians.
Doors and windows were torn out; the shivered fragments of a thousand
objects, mixed with hair and straw, covered the square. The eaves of
houses were ornamented with hanged men, for the greater part Jews; and
here and there the crowd amused themselves by clinging to the feet of
pendent corpses and swinging on them.

On one side of the square were the black ruins of burnt buildings,
among them those of the parish church; the ruins were hot, and smoke
was rising from them. The odor of burning permeated the air. Beyond the
burnt houses was the Tartar camp, which Skshetuski had to pass, and
crowds of captives watched by Tartar guards. Men from the neighborhood
of Chigirin, Cherkasi, and Korsún, who had been unable to hide, or who
had not fallen under the axe of the mob, went into captivity. The
prisoners were soldiers, captured in the two battles; and townspeople
of the region about, who had been unable or unwilling to join the
uprising; nobles living on their own lands, separately or in communes;
officials of under-starostas; owners of small tracts of land; village
nobles of both sexes, and children. There were no old men, for the
Tartars killed them as unfit for sale. They had driven in also whole
Russian villages and settlements,--an act which Hmelnitski did not dare
to oppose. In many places it happened that men went to the Cossack
camp, and as a reward the Tartars burned their cottages, and carried
off their wives and children. But in the universal letting loose and
growing wild of souls, no one inquired or thought about that. The mob
who took arms gave up their native villages, their wives and children.
Their wives were taken from them; but they took other and better women,
for they were Polish. After they had sated themselves with the charms
of these they killed them, or sold them to Tartars. Among the prisoners
also were young matrons of the Ukraine, tied by threes and fours to one
rope with young women of the petty nobility. Captivity and misfortune
equalized condition.

The sight of these beings shocked the lieutenant to the bottom of his
soul, and roused a thirst for vengeance. Tattered, half naked, exposed
to the vile jeers of pagans who were loitering through curiosity in
crowds on the square, pushed, struck, or kissed by disgusting lips,
they lost their memory and will. Some sobbed, or resisted loudly;
others, with staring eyes and bewildered faces, yielded passively to
everything. Here and there was heard a shriek wrested from some
captive, slaughtered without mercy for an outburst of despairing
resistance. The cracking of whips, the whistling of ox-hide lashes, was
heard among the crowd of men, and was mingled with screams of pain,
with the whining of children, the bellowing of cattle, and the neighing
of horses. The booty was not yet divided and arranged for removal;
therefore the greatest disorder prevailed everywhere. Wagons, horses,
horned cattle, camels, sheep, women, men, heaps of stolen clothing,
vessels, arms,--all, thrust into one enormous camp, waited arrangement
and order. Scouting-parties drove in from time to time new crowds of
people and herds of cattle, laden barges sailed down the Kos, and from
the chief camp new people arrived continually to sate their eyes with
the sight of the collected wealth. Some, drunk on kumis or vudka,
dressed in strange costumes,--in chasubles and surplices, in robes of
Russian priests, or even in women's clothes,--began to dispute,
quarrel, and scream over the possession of certain articles. The
Tartar herdsmen, sitting on the ground among the cattle, amused
themselves,--some by giving piercing melodies on their pipes, others by
playing dice or beating one another with clubs. Crowds of dogs which
had followed their masters barked and howled plaintively.

Skshetuski at length passed this human gehenna, full of groans, tears
of misery, and hellish sounds. He had expected to breathe more freely;
but the moment he was beyond the camp a new and terrible sight struck
his eyes. In the distance was the camp proper, from which came a
continual neighing of horses, and near which thousands of Tartars
swarmed in the field by the side of the road leading to Cherkasi. The
youthful warriors amused themselves with shooting for exercise from
bows at the weaker prisoners, or the sick who were unable to endure the
long road to the Crimea. A number of bodies lay around, thrown on the
road, as full of holes as a sieve; some of them still quivered
convulsively. Those at whom they were shooting hung bound by the hands
to trees near the roadside. Among these were also old women. Shouts
accompanied laughter of approval for good arrow-shots.

"Fine fellows! The bow is in good hands!"

Around the principal camp they were dressing thousands of cattle and
horses for the sustenance of the warriors. The ground was drenched with
blood. The sickening odor of raw flesh stifled the breath in the
breast, and among the piles of meat red Tartars hurried around with
knives in their hands. The day was oppressive, the sun scorching.
Skshetuski with his escort barely reached the open field after an
hour's travelling; but from afar there came for a long time the tumult
and bellowing of cattle from the main camp. Along the road traces of
the passage of plunderers were evident. Here and there were burnt
gardens, chimneys standing alone, young grain trodden under foot, trees
broken, cherry-orchards near the cottages cut down for fuel. On the
high-road lay thickly, in one place, the carcasses of horses; in
another the bodies of men mutilated fearfully, blue, swollen, and above
and over them flocks of crows and ravens, flying with tumult and noise
at the approach of people. The bloody work of Hmelnitski thrust itself
upon the sight everywhere, and it was difficult to understand against
whom the man had raised his hands, since his own country groaned first
of all under the weight of misfortune.

In Mleyeff, Skshetuski met Tartar parties urging on new crowds of
prisoners. Gorodische was burned to the ground. There remained standing
only the stone bell-tower of the church, and the old oak-tree in the
middle of the square, covered with terrible fruit; for upon it were
suspended a number of tens of little Jews, hanged there three days
before. There were killed also many nobles from Konoplanka, Staroselo,
Venjovka, Balaklei, Vodachevo. The town itself was empty; for the men
had gone to Hmelnitski, and the women, children, and old men had fled
to the woods before the expected invasion by the armies of Prince
Yeremi. From Gorodische, Skshetuski went through Smila, Zabotin, and
Novoselyets to Chigirin, stopping only to rest his horse. They entered
the town on the second day in the afternoon. War had spared the place;
only a few houses were wrecked, and among them that of Chaplinski was
razed to the ground. In the town was stationed Colonel Naókolopályets,
and with him a thousand Cossacks; but both he and they and the whole
population lived in the greatest terror, for they all seemed convinced
that the prince might come at any moment and wreak vengeance such as
the world had never heard of. It was unknown who had circulated these
reports, or where they had come from; fear perhaps had created them.
Enough that it was repeated continually that the prince was sailing on
the Sula, that he was already on the Dnieper, had burned Vasyutinets,
and had cut off the people in Borysi, and that every approach of men on
horseback caused boundless panic. Skshetuski caught up these reports
eagerly; for he understood that though false they prevented the
extension of the rebellion beyond the Dnieper, where the hand of the
prince pressed directly.

Skshetuski wished to learn something more certain from Naókolopályets;
but it appeared that the lieutenant-colonel, like others, knew nothing
about the prince, and would have been glad himself to extract some news
from Skshetuski. Since all boats, large and small, had been brought
over to that bank of the river, fugitives from the other shore did not
come to Chigirin.

Skshetuski, without waiting longer in Chigirin, gave orders to be
ferried over, and set out for Rozlogi. The assurance that he would soon
convince himself of what had happened to Helena, and the hope that
perhaps she was safe, or had taken refuge with her aunt and the princes
in Lubni, brought back his strength and health. He left the wagon for
his horse, and urged without sparing his Tartars, who, thinking him an
envoy and themselves attendants given under his command, dared not
oppose him. They flew on therefore as if hunted. Behind them rose
yellow clouds of dust hurled up by the hoofs of the horses. They swept
past farms, gardens, and villages. The country was empty, the
habitations of men depopulated; for a long time they could not find a
living soul. It is likely, too, that every one hid at their approach.
Here and there Skshetuski gave orders to search in orchards and
bee-gardens, grain-mows and the roofs of barns, but they discovered no

Beyond Pogrebi one of the Tartars first espied a certain human form
trying to hide among the rushes which grew on the banks of the
Kagamlik. The Tartars rushed to the river, and a few minutes later
brought before Skshetuski two persons entirely naked. One of them was
an old man; the other a stripling, perhaps fifteen or sixteen years of
age. The teeth of both were chattering with terror, and for a long time
they were unable to utter a word.

"Where are you from?" asked Skshetuski.

"Nowhere, sir!" answered the old man. "We go begging with a lyre, and
this dumb boy leads me."

"Where are you coming from now,--from what village? Speak boldly;
nothing will happen to you."

"We, sir, travelled through all the villages, till some devil stripped
us. We had good boots, he took them; we had good caps, he took them;
good coats from people's charity, he took them, and did not leave the

"I ask you, you fool, from what village you come."

"I don't know, sir,--I am an old man. See, we are naked; we are
freezing at night, in the daytime we ask the charity of people to cover
us and feed us; we are hungry!"

"Listen, louts! Answer my question, or I will hang you!"

"I don't know, my lord. If I am this or that, or there will be
anything, let me alone."

It was evident that the old man, unable to decide who his questioner
was, determined not to give any answer.

"Were you in Rozlogi, where the Princes Kurtsevichi live?"

"I don't know, sir."

"Hang him!" cried Skshetuski.

"I was, sir," cried the old man, seeing there was no trifling.

"What did you see there?"

"We were there five days ago, and then in Brovarki; we heard that the
knights had come there."

"What knights?"

"I don't know, sir; one said Poles, another said Cossacks."

"To horse!" shouted Skshetuski to the Tartars.

The party rushed on. The sun was setting precisely as on that day when
the lieutenant, after meeting Helena and the princess on the road, rode
by them at the side of Rozvan's carriage. The Kagamlik shone with
purple, just as it had then; the day went to rest with more quiet, more
warmth and calm. But that time Pan Yan rode on with a breast full of
happiness and awakening feelings of delight; now he rushes on like a
condemned man, driven by a whirlwind of trouble and evil forebodings.
The voice of despair calls from his soul, "Bogun has carried her away,
you will never see her again!" and a voice of hope, "She is safe!" And
these voices so pulled him between them that they almost tore his heart
asunder. He urged the horses to their last strength. One hour followed
another. The moon rose and mounted higher and higher, grew paler and
paler. The horses were covered with foam, and snorted heavily. They
rushed into the forest, it was passed in a flash; they rushed into the
ravine; beyond the ravine was Rozlogi. Another moment, and the fate of
the knight would be settled. The wind whistles into his ears from the
speed, his cap falls from his head, the horse groans under him as if
ready to drop. Another moment, and the ravine opens. At last! at last!

Suddenly an unearthly shriek comes from the breast of Skshetuski. The
house, granaries, stables, barns, picket-fence, and cherry-orchard had
all disappeared. The pale moon shone upon the hill, and on a pile of
black ruins which had ceased to smoke. No sound broke the silence.

Skshetuski stood before the trench speechless; he merely raised his
hands, looked, and shook his head in bewilderment. The Tartars stopped
their horses. He dismounted, sought out the remains of the burned
bridge, passed the trench on the cross-pieces, and sat on the stone
lying in the middle of the yard. Having sat down, he began to look
around like a man who tries to recognize a place in which he finds
himself for the first time. Presence of mind left him. He uttered no
groan. After a while he placed his hands on his knees, dropped his
head, and remained motionless; it might have been supposed that he was
asleep. Indeed, if not asleep, he had become torpid; and through his
brain passed dim visions instead of thoughts. He saw Helena as she
looked when he parted with her before his last journey; but her face
was veiled as it were by mist, therefore her features could not be
distinguished. He wished to bring her out of that misty covering, but
could not, and went away with heavy heart. Then there passed before him
the square at Chigirin, old Zatsvilikhovski, and the impudent face of
Zagloba; that face remained before his eyes with a special persistence,
until at length the gloomy visage of Grodzitski took its place. After
that he saw Kudák again, the Cataracts, the fight at Hortitsa, the
Saitch, the whole journey, and all the events to the last day and hour.
But farther there was darkness! What was happening to him at the
present he saw not. He had only a sort of indefinite feeling that he
was going to Helena, to Rozlogi, but his strength had failed; that he
was resting on ruins. He wanted to rise and go farther, but an
immeasurable weakness bound him to the place, as if a hundred-pound
ball were fastened to his feet.

He sat and sat. The evening was advancing. The Tartars arranged
themselves for the night, made a fire, cooked pieces of horse-flesh,
and having satisfied their hunger, lay down on the ground.

But before an hour had passed they sprang to their feet again. From a
distance came a noise like the sound made by a great number of cavalry
when moving on a hurried march.

The Tartars fastened as quickly as possible a white cloth on a pole,
and renewed the fire vigorously, so that it might be seen from a
distance that they were messengers of peace.

The tramp and snorting of horses, the clatter of sabres, came nearer
and nearer; and soon there appeared on the road a division of cavalry,
which surrounded the Tartars at once.

A short parley followed. The Tartars pointed to a figure sitting on the
rising ground,--which was perfectly visible, for the light of the moon
fell on it,--and said they were escorting an envoy, but from whom he
could tell best himself.

The leader of the division went with some of his companions to the
rising ground, but had scarcely come up and looked into the face of the
sitting man, when he opened his arms and cried,--

"Skshetuski! By the living God, it is Skshetuski!"

The lieutenant did not move.

"But, Lieutenant, don't you know me? I am Bykhovets. What is the matter
with you?"

The lieutenant was silent.

"Rouse yourself, for God's sake! Here, comrade, come to your mind!"

This was really Pan Bykhovets, who was marching in the vanguard of all
Vishnyevetski's forces.

Other regiments came up. News of the discovery of Pan Yan spread like
lightning in the regiments, therefore all hurried to greet their
favorite comrade. Little Volodyovski, the two Sleshinskis, Dzik,
Orpishevski, Migurski, Yakubovich, Lents, Pan Longin Podbipienta, and a
number of other officers ran as fast as they could to the eminence. But
they spoke in vain to him, called him by name, pulled him by the
shoulders, tried to raise him up. Skshetuski looked on them with
wide-open eyes, and recognized no man; or rather, on the contrary,
he seemed to recognize them, but was completely indifferent to
them. Then those who knew of his love for Helena--and indeed all knew
that--remembered what place they were in; looking on the black ruins
and the gray ashes, they understood all.

"He has lost his mind from grief," said one.

"Despair has disturbed his mind."

"Take him to the priest; when he sees him perhaps he will come to

Pan Longin wrung his hands. All surrounded the lieutenant and looked at
him with sympathy. Some wiped away their tears, others sighed sadly;
till suddenly a lofty figure appeared, and approaching quietly, placed
his hands upon the lieutenant's head. This was the priest, Mukhovetski.

All were silent and knelt down as if waiting for a miracle; but the
priest performed no miracle. Holding his hands on Pan Yan's head, he
raised his eyes to the heavens, which were filled with the light of the
moon, and began to pray aloud.

"'Pater noster, qui es in c[oe]lis! sanctificetur nomen tuum, adveniat
regnum tuum, fiat voluntas tua--'" Here he stopped, and after a while
repeated more loudly and solemnly: "'Fiat voluntas tua!'" A deep
silence reigned. "'Fiat voluntas tua!'" repeated the priest for the
third time.

From the mouth of Skshetuski came a voice of measureless pain, but also
of resignation: "'Sicut in c[oe]lo, et in terra!'" Then the knight
threw himself sobbing on the ground.


Copyright, 1898, by Little, Brown, and Company.

                     _From a drawing by J. Wagrez_.

                             CHAPTER XVII.

To explain what had taken place in Rozlogi, we must return to that
night when Pan Yan sent Jendzian from Kudák with a letter to the old
princess. The letter contained an earnest request to take Helena and
seek with all haste the protection of Prince Yeremi at Lubni, since war
might begin at any moment.

Jendzian, taking his place in the boat which Pan Grodzitski sent from
Kudák for powder, made his way with slow advance, for they went up the
river. At Kremenchug he met the forces sailing under command of
Krechovski and Barabash, despatched by the hetmans against Hmelnitski.
Jendzian had a meeting with Barabash, whom he informed of the possible
danger to Pan Yan on his journey to the Saitch; therefore he begged the
old colonel not to fail in making urgent demand for the envoy when he
met Hmelnitski. After this he moved on.

They arrived in Chigirin at daylight. They were surrounded at once by a
guard of Cossacks inquiring who they were. They answered that they were
going from Kudák with a letter from Grodzitski to the hetmans.
Notwithstanding this, the chief of the boat and Jendzian were summoned
to answer the colonel.

"What colonel?" asked the chief.

"Loboda," replied the essauls of the guard. "The Grand Hetman has
ordered him to detain and examine every one coming from the Saitch to

They went. Jendzian walked on boldly, for he expected no harm since he
was sent by authority of the hetman.

They were taken to the neighborhood of Bell-ringers' Corner, to the
house of Pan Jelenski, where Colonel Loboda's quarters were. But they
were informed that the colonel having set out at daybreak for Cherkasi,
the lieutenant-colonel occupied his place. They waited rather long; at
last the door opened, and the expected lieutenant-colonel appeared in
the room. At the sight of him Jendzian's knees trembled under him. It
was Bogun.

The hetman's power extended really to Chigirin; but since Loboda and
Bogun had not yet gone over to Hmelnitski, but adhered publicly to the
Commonwealth, the Grand Hetman had appointed them to Chigirin, and
ordered them to maintain guard.

Bogun took his place at the table and began to question the newly

The chief of the boat, who brought a letter from Grodzitski, answered
for himself and Jendzian. On examination of the letter, the young
lieutenant-colonel began to inquire carefully what was to be heard in
Kudák, and it was evident that he had a great desire to know why
Grodzitski had sent men and a boat to the Grand Hetman. But the chief
of the boat could not answer this, and the letter was secured with Pan
Grodzitski's seal. Having finished his inquiries, Bogun was putting his
hand to his purse to give the men something to buy beer, when the door
opened, and Zagloba burst like a thunderbolt into the room.

"Listen, Bogun!" cried he; "that traitor Dopúla has kept his best
triple mead hidden. I went with him to the cellar. I looked, I saw
something in the corner; it was hay and it wasn't hay. I asked, 'What
is that?' 'Dry hay,' said he. When I looked more closely, the top of a
bottle was sticking up, like the head of a Tartar, out of the grass.
'Oh, you son of a such a one,' said I, 'let's divide the labor! Do you
eat the hay, for you are an ox; and I will drink the mead, for I am a
man.' I brought the fat bottle for an honest trial; only let us have
the glasses now!"

Having said this, Zagloba put one hand on his hip, and with the other
raised the bottle above his head and began to sing,--

           "Hei Yagush, hei Kundush, but give us the glasses,
            Give a kiss, and then care for naught else."

Here Zagloba, seeing Jendzian, stopped suddenly, placed the bottle on
the table, and said,--

"As God is dear to me! this is Pan Yan's young man."

"Whose?" asked Bogun, hastily.

"Pan Skshetuski's, the lieutenant who went to Kudák, and before going
treated me to such mead from Lubni that I wish all would keep it behind
their tavern-signs. What is your master doing? Is he well?"

"Well, and asked to be remembered to you," said Jendzian, confused.

"He is a man of mighty courage. How do you come to be in Chigirin? Why
did your master send you from Kudák?"

"My master," said Jendzian, "has his affairs in Lubni, on which he
directed me to return, for I had nothing to do in Kudák."

All this time Bogun was looking sharply at Jendzian, and suddenly he
said: "I too know your master, I saw him in Rozlogi."

Jendzian bent his head, and turning his ear as if he had not heard,
inquired: "Where?"

"In Rozlogi."

"That place belongs to the Kurtsevichi," said Zagloba.

"To whom?" asked Jendzian again.

"Oh, I see you are hard of hearing," said Bogun, curtly.

"Because I have not slept enough."

"You will sleep enough yet. You say that your master sent you to


"Doubtless he has some sweetheart there," interrupted Zagloba, "to whom
he sends his love through you."

"How do I know, worthy sir? Maybe he has, maybe he has not," said
Jendzian. Then he bowed to Bogun and Zagloba. "Praise be to--" said he,
preparing to go out.

"Forever!" said Bogun. "But wait, my little bird; don't be in a hurry!
And why did you hide from me that you are the servant of Pan

"You didn't ask me, and I thought, 'What reason have I to talk of
anything?' Praise be to--"

"Wait, I say! You have some letters from your master?"

"It is his affair to write, and mine to deliver, but only to him to
whom they are written; therefore permit me to bid farewell to you,

Bogun wrinkled his sable brows and clapped his hands. Two Cossacks
entered the room.

"Search him!" cried he, pointing to Jendzian.

"As I live, violence is done me! I am a nobleman, though a servant,
and, gentlemen, you will answer for this in court."

"Bogun, let him go!" said Zagloba.

But that moment one of the Cossacks found two letters in Jendzian's
bosom, and gave them to the lieutenant-colonel. Bogun directed the
Cossacks to withdraw at once, for not knowing how to read, he did not
wish to expose himself before them; then turning to Zagloba, he

"Read, and I will look after this young fellow." Zagloba shut his left
eye, on which he had a cataract, and read the address:--

"To my gracious lady and benefactress, Princess Kurtsevichova in

"So you, my little falcon, are going to Lubni, and you don't know where
Rozlogi is?" said Bogun, surveying Jendzian with a terrible look.

"Where they send me, there I go!"

"Am I to open it? The seal of a nobleman is sacred," remarked Zagloba.

"The hetman has given me the right to examine all letters. Open and

Zagloba opened and read:--

"My gracious Lady,--I inform you that I have arrived in Kudák, from
which, with God's assistance, I shall go to-morrow morning to the
Saitch. But now I am writing in the night, not being able to sleep from
anxiety lest something may happen to you from that bandit Bogun and his
scoundrels. Pan Grodzitski tells me that we are on the eve of a great
war, which will rouse the mob; therefore I implore and beseech you this
minute,--even before the steppes are dry, even if on horseback,--to go
with the princess to Lubni; and not to neglect this, for I shall not be
able to return for a time. Which request you will be pleased to grant
at once, so that I may be sure of the happiness of my betrothed and
rejoice after my return. And what need have you of dallying with Bogun
and throwing sand in his eyes from fear, after you have given the
princess to me? It is better to take refuge under the protection of my
master, the prince, who will not fail to send a garrison to Rozlogi;
and thus you will save your property. In the mean while I have the
honor, etc."

"Ho, ho! my friend Bogun," said Zagloba, "the hussar wants in some way
to put horns on you. So you have been paying compliments to the same
girl! Why didn't you speak of this? But be comforted, for once upon a
time it happened to me--"

But the joke that he had begun died suddenly on his lips. Bogun sat
motionless at the table, but his face was pale and drawn, as if by
convulsions; his eyes closed, his brows contracted. Something terrible
had happened to him.

"What's the matter?" asked Zagloba.

The Cossack began to wave his hand feverishly, and from his lips issued
a suppressed hoarse voice: "Read--read the other letter!"

"The other is to Princess Helena."

"Read! read!"

Zagloba began:--

"Sweetest, beloved Halshko, mistress and queen of my heart! Since in
the service of the prince I had but little time to stop at Rozlogi, I
write therefore to your aunt, that you and she go to Lubni, where no
harm can happen to you from Bogun, and our mutual affection cannot be
exposed to interruption--"

"Enough!" cried Bogun; and jumping up in madness from the table, he
sprang toward Jendzian.

The unfortunate young fellow, struck straight in the breast, groaned
and fell to the floor. Frenzy carried Bogun away; he threw himself on
Zagloba and snatched the letters from him.

Zagloba, seizing the fat bottle of mead, sprang to the stove and cried

"In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, have you grown wild,
man, or mad? Calm down! be mild! Stick your head in the water-pail! A
hundred devils take you! Do you hear me?"

"Blood! blood!" howled Bogun.

"Have you lost your mind? Thrust your head in the water-pail, I tell
you! You have blood already,--you have spilt innocent blood. That
unfortunate youth is already breathless. The devil has snared you, or
you are the devil yourself with something to boot. Come to your senses,
the deuce take you, you son of a pagan!"

While crying out in this fashion, Zagloba pushed around to the other
side of the table, and bending over Jendzian felt of his breast and put
his hand to his mouth, from which blood was flowing freely.

Bogun seized himself by the head, and howled like a wounded wolf. Then
he dropped on the bench, without ceasing to howl, for the spirit within
was torn from rage and pain. Suddenly he sprang up, ran to the door,
kicked it open, and hurried to the anteroom.

"I hope you will break your neck!" muttered Zagloba to himself. "Go and
smash your head against the stable or the barn,--though, as a horned
beast, you can knock your head without danger. But he is a fury! I have
never seen anything like him in my life. He snapped his teeth like a
dog going to bite. But this boy is alive yet, poor fellow! In truth, if
this mead won't help him, he lied when he said he was a noble."

Thus muttering, Zagloba placed Jendzian's head on his knees and began
to pour the mead through his blue lips.

"We will see if you have good blood in you. If it is Jewish, when mixed
with mead or wine it will boil; if clownish, being torpid and heavy, it
will sink. Only the blood of a noble becomes lively and forms excellent
liquor, which gives manhood and daring to the body. The Lord gave
different drinks to different people, so that each one might have his
own appropriate pleasure."

Jendzian groaned faintly.

"Ah, ha! you want more. No, brother, let me have some too,--that's the
style. Now, since you have given sign of life, I think I'll take you to
the stable and put you somewhere in a corner, so that dragon of a
Cossack may not tear you to pieces when he gets back. He is a dangerous
friend, the devil take him! for I see that his hand is quicker than his

Zagloba raised Jendzian from the floor with ease, showing unusual
strength, carried him to the anteroom, and then to the yard, where a
number of Cossacks were playing dice on a rug spread on the ground.
They greeted him, and he said,--

"Boys, take this youngster for me, put him on the hay, and let some one
run for a barber."

The command was obeyed immediately, for Zagloba as a friend of Bogun
enjoyed consideration among the Cossacks.

"And where is the colonel?" he asked.

"He ordered his horse and went to the regimental quarters. He commanded
us also to be ready and have our horses saddled."

"Is mine ready?"


"Then bring it; I will find the colonel at the regiment. But here he

In fact, Bogun was to be seen through the arched gateway riding from
the square. After him appeared in the distance the lances of a hundred
and some tens of Cossacks, apparently ready for the march.

"To horse!" cried Bogun to the Cossacks who had remained in the yard.
All moved quickly. Zagloba went through the gate, and looked
attentively at the young leader.

"You are going on a journey?" asked he.


"And whither is the devil taking you?"

"To a wedding."

Zagloba drew nearer.

"Fear God, my son! The hetman ordered you to guard the town. You are
going away yourself, and taking the Cossacks with you,--disobeying
orders. Here the mob is merely waiting a favorable moment to rush on
the nobility. You will destroy the town and expose yourself to the
wrath of the hetman!"

"To the devil with the hetman and the town!"

"It is a question of your head."

"What do I care for that?"

Zagloba saw that it was useless to talk with the Cossack. He had made
up his mind, and though he were to bury himself and others, he was
determined to carry his point. Zagloba guessed, too, where the
expedition was going; but he did not know himself what to do,--whether
to go with Bogun or to remain. It was dangerous to go, for it was the
same as to enter upon a hazardous and criminal affair in rough, warlike
times. But to remain? The mob was in fact only waiting for news from
the Saitch,--the moment of signal for slaughter; and maybe they would
not have waited at all had it not been for Bogun's thousand Cossacks
and his authority in the Ukraine.

Zagloba might have taken refuge in the camp of the hetmans; but he had
his reasons for not doing that,--whether it was a sentence for having
killed some one or some little defect in accounts he himself only knew;
it is sufficient that he did not wish to show himself. He was sorry to
leave Chigirin, it was so pleasant for him; no one inquired about
anything there, and Zagloba had become so accustomed to everybody,--to
the nobility, the managers of crown estates, and the Cossack elders.
True, the elders had scattered in different directions, and the
nobility sat in their corners fearing the storm; but Bogun was the
prince of companions and drinkers. Having become acquainted at the
glass, he made friends with Zagloba straightway. After that one was not
seen without the other. The Cossack scattered gold for two, the noble
lied, and each being of restless mind was happy with the other. But
when it came to him either to remain in Chigirin and fall under the
knife of the rabble or to go with Bogun, Zagloba decided for the

"If you are so determined," said he; "I will go too; I may be of use or
restrain you when necessary. We have become altogether accustomed to
each other; but I had no thought of anything like this."

Bogun made no answer. Half an hour later two hundred Cossacks were in
marching order. Bogun rode to the head of them, and with him Zagloba.
They moved on. The peasants standing here and there on the square
looked at them from under their brows, and whispered, discussing about
where they were going, whether they would return soon or would not

Bogun rode on in silence, shut up in himself, mysterious and gloomy as
night. The Cossacks asked not whither he was leading them. They were
ready to go with him even to the end of the earth.

After crossing the Dnieper, they appeared on the highway to Lubni. The
horses went at a trot, raising clouds of dust; but as the day was hot
and dry, they were soon covered with foam. They slackened their pace
then, and stretched out in a straggling band along the road. Bogun
pushed ahead. Zagloba came up abreast of him, wishing to begin

The face of the young leader was calmer, but mortal grief was clearly
depicted on it. It seemed as if the distance in which his glance was
lost toward the north beyond the Kagamlik, the speed of the horse, and
the breeze of the steppe were quieting the storm within him which was
roused by the reading of the letters brought by Jendzian.

"The heat flies down from heaven," said Zagloba. "It is feverish even
in a linen coat, for there is no breeze what ever. Bogun! look here,

The leader gazed with his deep, dark eyes as if roused from sleep.

"Be careful, my son," said Zagloba, "that you are not devoured by
melancholy, which when it leaves the liver, its proper seat, strikes
the head and may soon destroy a man's reason. I did not know that you
were such a hero of romance. It must be that you were born in May,
which is the month of Venus, in which there is so much sweetness in the
air that even one shaving begins to feel an affection for another;
therefore men who are born in that month have greater curiosity in
their bones for women than other men. But he has the advantage who
succeeds in curbing himself; therefore I advise you to let revenge
alone. You may justly cherish hatred against the Kurtsevichi; but is
she the only girl in the world?"

Bogun, as if in answer not to Zagloba but to his own grief, said in a
voice more like that of revery than conversation,--

"She is the one cuckoo, the only one on earth!"

"Even if that were true, if she calls for another, she is nothing to
you. It is rightly said that the heart is a volunteer; under whatever
banner it wants to serve, under that it serves. Remember too that the
girl is of high blood, for the Kurtsevichi I hear are of princely
family. Those are lofty thresholds."

"To the devil with your thresholds, families, and parchments!" Here
Bogun struck with all his force on the hilt of his sword. "This is my
family, this is my right and parchment, this is my matchmaker and best
man! Oh, traitors! oh, cursed blood of the enemy! A Cossack was good
enough for you to be a friend and a brother with whom to go to the
Crimea, get Turkish wealth, divide spoils. Oh! you fondled him and
called him a son, betrothed the maiden to him. Now what? A noble came,
a petted Pole. You deserted the Cossack, the son, the friend,--plucked
out his heart. She is for another; and do you gnaw the earth, Cossack,
if you like!"

The voice of the leader trembled; he ground his teeth, and struck his
broad breast till an echo came from it as from an underground cave.

Silence followed. Bogun breathed heavily. Pain and anger rent in
succession the wild soul of the Cossack, which knew no restraint.
Zagloba waited till he should become wearied and quiet.

"What do you wish to do, unhappy hero,--how will you act?"

"Like a Cossack,--in Cossack fashion."

"Oh, I see there is something ahead! But no more of this! One thing I
will tell you, that the place is within Vishnyevetski's rule and Lubni
is not distant. Pan Skshetuski wrote to the princess to take refuge
there with the maiden,--which means that they are under the prince's
protection; and the prince is a fierce lion--"

"The Khan is a lion, and I rushed up to his throat and held the light
to his eyes."

"What, you crazy brain! do you wish to declare war against the prince?"

"Hmelnitski has rushed on the hetmans. What do I care for your prince?"

Pan Zagloba became still more alarmed. "Shu! to the devil with this!
This smells simply of rebellion. Vis armata, raptus puellae, and
rebellion,--this comes to the executioner, the rope, and the gallows. A
splendid six-in-hand, you may go high in it, if not far. The
Kurtsevichi will defend themselves."

"What of that? Either I must perish, or they. I would have given my
life for the Kurtsevichi, since I held them as brothers, and the old
princess as a mother. Into her eyes I looked as a dog looks! And when
the Tartars caught Vassily, who went to the Crimea and rescued him? I!
I loved them and served them as a slave, for I thought that I was
earning the maiden. And for this they sold me like a slave to an evil
fate and misfortune. They drove me away; but I will go now, and first I
will bow down to them in return for the bread and salt that I have
eaten in their house, and I will pay them in Cossack fashion. I will
go, for I know my road."

"And where will you go, when you begin with the prince,--to the camp of

"If they had given me the girl, I should have been your Polish brother,
your friend, your sabre, your sworn soul, your dog. I should have taken
my Cossacks, called others together in the Ukraine, then moved against
Hmelnitski, and my own brothers, the Zaporojians, and torn them with
hoofs. Did I wish reward for this? No! I should have taken the girl and
gone beyond the Dnieper, to the steppes of God, to the wild meadows, to
the quiet waters. That would have been enough for me; but now--"

"Now you have become enraged."

Bogun made no answer, struck his horse with the nogaika, and rushed on.
But Zagloba began to think of the trouble into which he had got
himself. There was no doubt that Bogun intended to attack the
Kurtsevichi, to avenge the injustice done him, and carry off the girl
by force. Zagloba would have kept him company, even in an undertaking
like this. In the Ukraine such affairs happened frequently, and
sometimes they went unpunished. True, when the offender was not a
noble, such a deed became complicated, more dangerous; but the
enforcement of justice on a Cossack was difficult, for where was he to
be found and seized? After the deed he escaped to the wild steppe,
beyond the reach of human hand; and how many could see him? When war
broke out, and Tartars invaded the country, the offender appeared
again, for at such times laws were asleep. In this way Bogun, too,
might save himself from responsibility. Besides, Zagloba had no need of
giving him active assistance, and taking on himself half the fault. He
would not have done this in any case; for though Bogun was his friend,
still it did not beseem Zagloba, a noble, to engage with a Cossack
against a noble, especially as he was acquainted with Skshetuski, and
had drunk with him. Zagloba was a disturber of no common order, but his
turbulence had a certain limit. To frolic in the public houses of
Chigirin, with Bogun and other Cossack elders, especially at their
expense,--but it was well too, in view of Cossack troubles, to have
such people as friends. Zagloba, though he had got a scratch here and
there, was very careful of his own skin; therefore he saw at once that
through this friendship he had got into a desperate muddle. For it was
clear that if Bogun should carry off the maiden, the betrothed of
Vishnyevetski's lieutenant and favorite, he would come into collision
with the prince; then nothing would remain for him but to take refuge
with Hmelnitski and join the rebellion. To this Zagloba mentally
opposed his positive veto. To join the rebellion for the beautiful eyes
of Bogun was altogether beyond his intention, and besides he feared
Yeremi as he did fire.

"Oh, misery!" muttered he to himself; "I have caught the devil by the
tail, and this time he will catch me by the head and twist my neck. May
lightning strike this Bogun, with his girl face and his Tartar hand!
I've gone to a wedding, indeed, a regular dog-fight, as God is dear to
me! May lightning strike all the Kurtsevichi and all the women! What
have I to do with them? They are not necessary to me. No matter who has
the grist, they will grind it on me. And for what? Do I want to marry?
Let the evil one marry, it is all the same to me; what business have I
in this affair? If I go with Bogun, then Vishnyevetski will flay me; if
I leave Bogun, the peasants will kill me, or he will do it without
waiting for them. The worst of all is to be intimate with a bear. I am
in a nice plight. I should rather be the horse on which I am sitting,
than Zagloba. I've come out on Cossack folly. I've hung to a
water-burner; justly, therefore, will they flay me on both sides."

While occupied with these thoughts, Zagloba sweated terribly, and fell
into worse humor. The heat was great; the horse travelled with
difficulty, for he had not been on the road for a long time, and Pan
Zagloba was a heavy man. Merciful God! what would he have given then to
be sitting in the shade at an inn, over a glass of cool beer, not to
weary himself in the heat and rush on over the scorching steppe!

Though Bogun was in a hurry, he slackened his pace, for the heat was
terrible. They fed the horses a little. During that time Bogun spoke to
the essauls,--apparently gave them orders, for up to that time they did
not know where they were going. The last word of the command reached
Zagloba's ear,--

"Wait the pistol-shot!"

"Very well, father."

Bogun turned suddenly to Zagloba: "You will go in advance with me."

"I?" asked Zagloba, in evident bad humor. "I love you so much that I
have already sweated out one half of my soul; why should I not sweat
out the other half? We are like a coat and its lining, and I hope the
devil will take us together,--which is all the same to me, for I think
it cannot be hotter in hell than here."


"At breakneck speed."

They moved on, and soon after them the Cossacks; but the latter rode
slowly, so that in a short time they were a good distance in the rear,
and finally were lost to sight.

Bogun and Zagloba rode side by side in silence, both in deep thought.
Zagloba pulled his mustache, and it was evident that he was working
vigorously with his brain; he was planning, perhaps, how to extricate
himself from the whole affair. At times he muttered something to
himself half audibly; then again he looked at Bogun, on whose face was
depicted now unrestrained anger, now grief.

"It is a wonder," thought Zagloba to himself, "that though such a
beauty, he was not able to bring the girl to his side. He is a Cossack,
it is true, but a famous knight and a lieutenant-colonel, who sooner or
later will become a noble, unless he joins the rebellion, which depends
entirely on himself. Pan Skshetuski is a respectable cavalier and
good-looking but he cannot compare in appearance with the Cossack, who
is as beautiful as a picture. Ha! they will grapple when they meet, for
both are champions of no common kind."

"Bogun, do you know Pan Skshetuski well?" asked Zagloba, suddenly.

"No," answered the Cossack, briefly.

"You will have difficult work with him. I saw him when he opened the
door for himself with Chaplinski. He is a Goliath in drinking as well
as fighting."

Bogun made no reply, and again they were both buried in their own
thoughts and anxieties; following which, Zagloba repeated from time to
time: "So there is no help!"

Some hours passed. The sun had travelled far to the west, toward
Chigirin; from the east a cool breeze sprang up. Zagloba took off his
lynx-skin cap, raised his hand to his sweat-moistened head, and
repeated again: "So there is no help!"

Bogun roused himself, as if from sleep. "What do you say?" he inquired.

"I say that it will be dark directly. Is it far yet?"


In an hour it had grown dark in earnest, but they had already reached a
woody ravine. At the end of the ravine a light was gleaming.

"That is Rozlogi," said Bogun, suddenly.

"Is it? Whew! there is something cold in that ravine."

Bogun reined in his horse. "Wait!" said he.

Zagloba looked at him. The eyes of the leader, which had the
peculiarity of shining in the night, were gleaming at that moment like
a pair of torches.

Both of them stood for a long time motionless at the edge of the
ravine. At length the snorting of horses was heard in the distance.
These were Bogun's Cossacks coming on slowly from the depth of the

The essaul approached for orders, which Bogun whispered in his ear;
then the Cossacks halted again.

"Forward!" said Bogun to Zagloba.

Soon the dark masses of buildings around the mansion, the storehouses
and well-sweeps stood in outline before their eyes. It was quiet in the
yard. The dogs did not bark. A great golden moon shone above the
buildings. From the garden came the odor of the cherry and apple
blossoms. Everywhere it was quiet,--a night so wonderful that in truth
it lacked only the sound of a lyre somewhere under the windows of the
beautiful princess. There was light yet in some parts of the house.

The two horsemen approached the gate.

"Who is there?" called the voice of the night-guard.

"Don't you know me, Maksim?"

"Oh, that is you! Glory to God!"

"For the ages of ages. Open the gate! And how is it with you?"

"All is well. You haven't been in Rozlogi for a long time."

The hinges of the gate squeaked sharply, the bridge fell over the
fosse, and the two horsemen rode into the square.

"Look here, Maksim! don't shut the gate, and don't raise the bridge,
for I am going out directly."

"Oh! you hurry as if you had come for fire."

"True! Tie the horse to the post!"

                             CHAPTER XVIII.

The Kurtsevichi were not sleeping yet. They were supping in that
anteroom, filled with weapons, which extended the whole width of the
house, from the garden to the square on the other side. At the sight of
Bogun and Zagloba, they sprang to their feet. On the face of the
princess was reflected not only astonishment, but displeasure and
fright as well. Only two of the young men were present,--Simeon and

"Oh, Bogun!" exclaimed the princess. "But what are you here for?"

"I came to do you homage, mother. Are you not glad to see me?"

"I am glad to see yon,--glad; but I wonder that you came, for I heard
that you were on guard in Chigirin. But whom has God sent to us with

"This is Pan Zagloba,--a noble, my friend."

"We are glad to see you, sir," said the princess.

"We are glad," repeated Simeon and Nikolai.

"Worthy lady!" said Zagloba, "an untimely guest, it is true, is worse
than a Tartar; but it is known also that whoever wishes to enter heaven
must receive the traveller into his house, give meat to the hungry, and
drink to the thirsty"--

"Sit down, then; eat and drink," said the old princess. "We are
thankful that you have come. But, Bogun, I did not expect to see you;
perhaps you have some business with us."

"Perhaps I have," answered Bogun, slowly.

"What is it?" asked the princess, disturbed.

"When the moment comes, we will talk about it. Let us rest a little. I
have come straight from Chigirin."

"It is evident that you were in a hurry to see us."

"And whom should I be in a hurry to see, if not you? Is Princess Helena

"Well," replied the old lady, dryly.

"I should like to gladden my eyes with her."

"Helena is sleeping."

"That is too bad, for I shall not stay long."

"Where are you going?"

"War, mother! There is no time for aught else. Any moment the hetmans
may send us to the field, and it will be a pity to strike Zaporojians.
Was it seldom that we went with them for Turkish booty? Isn't it true,
Princes? We sailed upon the sea with them, ate bread and salt with
them, drank and caroused, and now we are their enemies."

The princess looked quickly at Bogun. The thought flashed through her
mind that perhaps Bogun intended to join the rebellion, and came to
tamper with her sons.

"And what do you think of doing?" inquired she.

"I, mother? Well, it is hard to strike our own, but it is demanded."

"That is what we will do," said Simeon.

"Hmelnitski is a traitor!" added the young Nikolai.

"Death to traitors!" said Bogun.

"Let the hangman light their way," added Zagloba.

Bogun began to speak again: "So it is in this world. He who to-day is
your friend is to-morrow a Judas. It is impossible to trust any one."

"Except good people," said the princess.

"True, you can believe good people; therefore I believe and love you;
for you are good people, not traitors."

There was something so strange in the voice of the leader that in a
moment deep silence reigned. Zagloba looked at the princess, and
blinked with his sound eye; but the princess fixed her glance on Bogun.

He spoke on: "War does not give life to men, but death; therefore I
wanted to see you once more before going to the field. And you would
mourn over me, for you are my friends from the heart, are you not?"

"We are, as God is our aid. From childhood we have known you."

"You are our brother," added Simeon.

"You are princes, you are nobles, and you did not despise the Cossack;
you took him to your house and promised him the maiden, your relative,
for you knew that for the Cossack there was neither life nor existence
without her; so you had mercy on the Cossack."

"There is nothing to talk about," said the princess, hurriedly.

"But there is, mother, something to talk about; for you are my
benefactress, and I have asked of this noble, my friend, to make me his
son and give me his escutcheon, so that you may not be ashamed to give
your relative to a Cossack. Pan Zagloba has agreed to this, and we
shall seek the permission of the Diet, and when the war is over will go
to the Grand Hetman, who is kind to me. He can assist. He too acquired
nobility for Krechovski."

"God give you aid!" said the princess.

"You are sincere people, and I thank you. But before the war I should
like to hear once more from your lips that you give me the maiden, and
that you will keep your word. The word of a noble is not smoke, and you
are a princess."

Bogun spoke with a slow and solemn voice, but at the same time in his
speech there vibrated, as it were, a threat declaring that there must
be consent to what he demanded.

The old princess looked at her sons; they looked at her, and for a
moment silence continued. Suddenly the falcon, sitting on her perch by
the wall, began to make a noise, though it was long before daylight;
others followed her. The great eagle woke, shook his wings, and began
to scream. The pitch-pine burned low; it was growing gloomy and dark in
the room.

"Nikolai, put wood on the fire!" said the old princess.

The young prince threw on more wood.

"Well, do you consent?" inquired Bogun.

"We must ask Helena."

"Let her speak for herself; you speak for yourselves. Do you promise?"

"We promise," said the mother.

"We promise," said the sons.

Bogun stood up suddenly, and turning to Zagloba, said with a clear

"My friend Zagloba, ask for the maiden too; maybe they will give her to

"What do you mean, Cossack? Are you drunk?" cried the princess.

Bogun, in place of an answer, took out Skshetuski's letter, and turning
to Zagloba, said: "Read!"

Zagloba took the letter, and began to read it in the midst of deep
silence. When he had finished, Bogun crossed his arms on his breast.

"To whom then do you give the girl?" asked he.


The voice of the Cossack became like the hiss of a serpent: "Traitors,
murderers, faith-breakers, Judases!"

"Sons, to your sabres!" screamed the princess.

The princes sprang like lightning to the walls, and seized their arms.

"Quiet, gentlemen, quiet!" began Zagloba.

But before he had finished speaking, Bogun drew a pistol from his belt
and fired.

"Jesus!" groaned Prince Simeon. Advancing a step, he began to beat the
air with his hands, and fell heavily on the floor.

"People, to the rescue!" screamed the princess, in despair.

But that moment, in the yard and from the side of the garden, were
heard other volleys. The windows and the doors flew open with a crash,
and several tens of Cossacks rushed into the room.

"Destruction!" thundered wild voices.

The alarm-bell was tolled on the square. The birds in the room began to
scream. Uproar, firing, and shouts took the place of the recent quiet
of a drowsy house.

The old princess threw herself, howling like a wolf, on the body of
Simeon, shuddering in the last convulsions; but soon two Cossacks
seized her by the hair and drew her aside. Meanwhile Nikolai, driven to
the corner of the room, defended himself with fury and the boldness of
a lion.

"Aside!" cried Bogun suddenly, to the Cossacks around him. "Aside!"
repeated he, with a thundering voice.

The Cossacks withdrew. They thought that he wished to save the life of
the young man. But Bogun himself, with sabre in hand, rushed on the

Now began a terrible hand-to-hand struggle, on which the princess,
whose hair was grasped by four iron hands, looked with glaring eyes and
open mouth. The young prince hurled himself like a storm on the
Cossack, who, retreating slowly, led him out into the middle of the
room. Then suddenly stooping, he parried a powerful blow, and from
defence changed to attack.

The Cossacks, holding their breath, let their sabres hang, and
motionless, as if fastened to the floor, followed with their eyes the
course of the conflict. Only the breathing and panting of the
combatants were heard in the silence, with the gnashing of teeth, and
the sharp click of the swords striking each other.

For a while it appeared as if Bogun would yield to the gigantic power
and obstinacy of the youth, for he began again to retreat and defend
himself. His countenance was contracted as if by over-exertion. Nikolai
redoubled his blows; dust rose from the floor and covered the two men
with a cloud, but through the masses of it the Cossacks saw blood
flowing from the face of their leader.

All at once Bogun sprang aside; the prince's sword struck the empty
air. Nikolai staggered from the effort and bent forward; that instant
the Cossack struck him such a blow on the neck that he dropped as if
struck by lightning.

The joyful cries of the Cossacks were mingled with the unearthly shriek
of the princess. It seemed as though the ceiling would break from the
noise. The struggle was finished. The Cossacks rushed at the weapons
hanging along the walls, and began to pull them down, tearing from one
another the most costly sabres and daggers, and trampling upon the
bodies of the princes and their own comrades who had fallen at the
hands of Nikolai. Bogun permitted everything. He stood at the door
leading to Helena's rooms, guarding the way. He breathed heavily from
weariness; his face was pale and bloody, for the sword of the prince
had struck his head twice. His wandering look passed from the body of
Nikolai to the body of Simeon, and then fell upon the blue face of the
princess, whom the Cossacks, holding by the hair, pressed to the floor
with their knees, for she was tearing herself from their hands to the
bodies of her children.

The tumult and confusion in the room increased every moment. The
Cossacks tied the servants with ropes and tormented them without mercy.
The floor was covered with blood and dead bodies, the room filled with
smoke from pistol-shots; the walls were stripped, the birds killed.

All at once the door at which Bogun stood was opened wide. He turned
and started back. In the door appeared the blind Vassily, and at his
side Helena, dressed in a white gown, pale herself as the gown, with
eyes starting out from terror, and with open mouth.

Vassily carried in both hands a cross, which he held as high as his
face. In the midst of the uproar in the room, in the presence of the
corpses, and the blood scattered in pools on the floor, in front the
glitter of sabres and of flashing eyes, that lofty figure had an
appearance of wonderful solemnity. Emaciated, with hair growing gray,
and with depressions instead of eyes, you would have said that it was a
spirit, or a dead body which had left its shroud and was coming for the
punishment of crime.

The clamor ceased; the Cossacks drew back in a fright. Silence was
broken by the calm, but painful and groaning voice of the prince,--

"In the name of the Father, the Saviour, the Spirit, and the Holy
Virgin! Oh, you men who come from distant lands, do you come in the
name of God?--for blessed is the wayfarer who goes announcing the word
of God. And do you bring good news? Are you apostles?"

A deathlike stillness reigned after the words of Vassily; but he turned
slowly with the cross to one side and then the other, and continued,--

"Woe to you, brothers, for whoso makes war for gain or vengeance will
be damned forever. Let us pray, so that we obtain mercy. Woe to you,
brothers, woe to me! Woe! woe! woe!"

A groan came from the breast of the prince.

"Lord, have mercy upon us!" answered the dull voices of the Cossacks,
who under the influence of fear began to make the sign of the cross in

Suddenly a wild piercing shriek from the princess was heard: "Vassily!

There was something in her voice as full of anguish as in the last
voice of life passing away. But the Cossacks pressing her with their
knees knew that she could not escape from their hands.

The prince shuddered, but immediately covered himself with the cross,
on the side from which the voice came, and said: "Oh, lost soul, crying
from the abyss, woe to thee!"

"Lord, have mercy upon us!" repeated the Cossacks.

"To me!" said Bogun to the Cossacks that moment, and he staggered.

The Cossacks sprang and supported him under the shoulders.

"You are wounded, father?"

"I am! But that is nothing; I have lost blood. Here, boys! guard this
young woman as the eyes in your head. Surround the house; let no one
out! Princess--"

He could say no more; his lips grew white, and his eyes were covered
with a mist.

"Bear the ataman to the rooms!" cried Zagloba, who creeping out of some
corner or another appeared unexpectedly at Bogun's side. "This is
nothing, nothing at all," said he, feeling the wounds with his fingers.
"He will be well to-morrow. I will take care of him. Mix up bread and
spider-webs for me! You, boys, go off to the devil with yourselves, to
frolic with the girls in the servants' quarters, for you have nothing
to do here; but let two carry the ataman. Take him--that's the way! Be
off now! What are you standing here for? I will take care of the house,
I will look after everything."

Two Cossacks carried Bogun to the adjoining room; the rest went out of
the antechamber.

Zagloba approached Helena, and rapidly blinking his one eye, said in a
quick low voice,--

"I am Pan Skshetuski's friend; have no fear. Only put your prophet to
bed and wait for me."

Having said this, he went to the room in which the two essauls had put
Bogun on a Turkish divan. Then he sent them for bread and spider-webs;
and when these were brought from the servants' quarters he set about
nursing the young ataman with the dexterity which every noble possessed
at that period, and which he acquired in plastering heads cut up in
duels at the petty Diets.

"Tell the Cossacks," said he to the essauls, "that to-morrow the ataman
will be as well as a fish, and not to trouble about him. He got a
scratch, but came out splendidly, and to-morrow he can have his wedding
even without a priest. If there is a wine-cellar in the house, then you
may use it. See, his wounds are dressed already! Now go, that the
ataman may rest."

The essauls moved toward the door.

"But don't drink the whole cellar dry," added Zagloba.

Sitting at Bogun's pillow, he looked at him attentively.

"Well, the devil won't take you on account of these wounds, though you
got good ones. You won't move hand or foot for two days," muttered he
to himself, looking at the pale face and closed eyes of the Cossack.
"The sabre was unwilling to cheat the executioner; for you are his
property and from him you will not escape. When they hang you the devil
will make a doll out of you for his imps, as you are pretty-faced. No,
brother, you drink well, but you will drink no longer with me. You may
seek companions for yourself among crawfish-dealers, for I see that you
like to kill people, but I will not fall upon noble houses with you in
the night. May the hangman light your way!"

Bogun groaned slightly.

"Oh, groan and sigh! To-morrow you'll groan better. But wait, you
Tartar soul, you wanted the princess? I don't wonder, for she is a
beauty; but if you get her, then I'll let the dogs eat my wit. Hair
will grow on the palms of my hands first."

The uproar and hum of many voices came from the square to the ears of

"Ah! they have got to the cellar surely," he muttered. "Drink like
horseflies, so that you will sleep well. I will watch for all of you,
though I don't know whether you will be glad of my watching to-morrow."

Then he rose to see if the Cossacks had really made the acquaintance of
the princess's cellar, and went to the anteroom, where a terrible sight
met his eyes. In the middle of the room lay the bodies of Simeon and
Nikolai, already cold, and in the corner of the room the body of the
princess in a sitting posture, inclined just as she had been bent by
the Cossacks. Her eyes were open, her teeth exposed. The fire, burning
in the chimney, filled the whole room with a faint light, trembling in
pools of blood; the depth of the room was obscure in the shadow.
Zagloba approached the princess to see if she was breathing, and placed
his hand on her face; it was cold already. He hurried to the square,
for terror seized him in that room.

The Cossacks had begun their revel on the outside. Fires had been
kindled, by the light of which Zagloba saw barrels of mead, wine, and
spirits with the heads broken in. The Cossacks dipped from them as from
a well, and drank with all their might. Some, already warmed by drink,
chased the young women from the servants' quarters; some of the young
women, seized by fright, struggled and ran away, springing through the
fire, others amidst bursts of laughter and shouting allowed themselves
to be caught and drawn toward the barrels, or fires at which they were
dancing the Cosachka. The Cossacks rushed into the dance as if mad; in
front of them the girls now pushing forward, now retreating before the
violent movements of their partners.

The spectators either kept time with tin cups, or sang. Cries of
"U-ha!" were heard louder and louder, with the accompaniment of howling
of dogs, neighing of horses, and bellowing of cattle to be slaughtered
for the feast.

At the distant fires were seen peasants from around
Rozlogi,--neighbors, who at the sound of shots and cries had rushed
from the village in crowds to see what was going on. They did not think
of defending the princess, for the Kurtsevichi were hated in the place;
they only looked on the revelling of the Cossacks, elbowing one
another, whispering, and approaching nearer and nearer the barrels of
vudka and mead. The orgies grew more and more tumultuous, the drinking
increased. The Cossacks no longer dipped from the barrels with cups,
but thrust their heads in up to the neck, and sprinkled the dancing
girls with vudka and mead. Their faces were inflamed, steam rose from
their heads; and some were already staggering.

Zagloba, coming out on the porch, cast his eye on the drinking crowd,
then looked carefully at the sky.

"Clear, but dark," he muttered; "when the moon goes down you might
strike them in the face, they wouldn't see you.--Go on, my boys," he
cried, "go on! Don't spare yourselves; your teeth won't grow stiff. A
fool is he who won't drink to-day to the health of his ataman! Go on
with the barrels! Go on with the girls! U-ha!"

"U-ha!" shouted the Cossacks, joyfully.

Zagloba looked around on every side.

"Oh, you wretches, rogues, good-for-nothings!" shouted he, all at once;
"you drink yourselves like horses after a journey, but to the men on
guard around the house not a drop. Hallo there! change the guards for
me this minute!"

The order was executed without delay, and in a moment a number of tipsy
Cossacks ran to relieve the guards, who up to that time had taken no
part in the revelry. They came in at once with a haste easily

"Help yourselves!" cried Zagloba, "help yourselves!" pointing to the

"We thank you!" answered the Cossacks, dipping in the cups.

"In an hour relieve these for me."

"Very well," said the essaul.

It seemed quite natural to the Cossacks that Zagloba should take the
command in place of Bogun. It had happened already more than once, and
they were glad of it because he always permitted them everything. The
guards therefore drank with the others. Zagloba entered into
conversation with the peasants of Rozlogi.

"Well, my man," asked he of an old "sub-neighbor," "is it far from here
to Lubni?"

"Oh, very far, very far!"

"Could a man get there by morning?"

"Oh, no!"

"In the afternoon?"

"In the afternoon, perhaps."

"And how do you go there?"

"By the high-road."

"Is there a high-road?"

"Oh, yes; Prince Yeremi commanded that there should be a road, and
there it is."

Zagloba spoke loud on purpose, so that in the shouting and noise a
large number of Cossacks might hear him.

"Give them vudka too," said he to the Cossacks, pointing to the
peasants; "but first give me some mead, for the night is cold."

One of the Cossacks drew mead from the barrel into a gallon pail, which
he passed on his cap to Zagloba.

Zagloba took the pail carefully in both hands, so that it should not
overflow, raised it to his lips, and pushing his head back, began to
drink slowly, but without drawing breath. He drank and drank, till the
Cossacks began to wonder.

"Look at him," said one to another, "plague take him!"

Meanwhile Zagloba's head went back slowly, till at last he took the
gallon measure from his reddened face, pursed out his lips, raised his
brows, and said, as if to himself,--

"Oh, it is not bad! Old mead!--evident at once that it is not bad. A
pity to give such mead to your scoundrelly throats,--dregs would be
good enough for you! Strong mead! I know that it has comforted me, and
that I feel a little better."

Indeed, Pan Zagloba felt better; his head became clear, he grew daring;
and it was evident that his blood mixed with mead formed the excellent
liquor of which he had spoken himself, and from which bravery and
daring went through the whole man. He beckoned to the Cossacks to drink
more, and turning, passed with a leisurely step along the whole yard;
he examined every corner carefully, crossed the bridge over the fosse,
and went around the picket-fence to see if the guards were watching the
house carefully. The first sentry was asleep; the second, the third,
and the fourth also. They were weary from the journey, and besides had
come to their posts drunk, and had fallen asleep straightway.

"I might steal any one of them, and make him my man," said Zagloba.

Then he turned straight to the yard, entered the ill-omened anteroom
again, looked at Bogun, and seeing that he gave no sign of life,
withdrew to Helena's door, and opening it quietly, entered the room,
from which there came a sound as of prayer.

It was really Prince Vassily's room. Helena, however, was there with
the prince, with whom she felt in greater safety. The blind Vassily was
kneeling before an image of the Holy Virgin, in front of which a lamp
was burning. Helena was at his side. Both of them were praying aloud.
Seeing Zagloba, she turned her astonished eyes on him. He placed his
finger on his lips.

"I am a friend of Pan Skshetuski," said he.

"Rescue me!" answered Helena.

"It is for that I have come; trust in me."

"What have I to do?"

"It is necessary to escape while that devil is lying unconscious."

"What must I do?"

"Put on man's clothes; and when I knock at the door, come out."

Helena hesitated; distrust shone in her eyes. "Can I trust you?"

"What better can you do?"

"True, true; but swear that you will not betray me."

"Your mind is disturbed, to ask that. But if you wish, I swear. So help
me God and the holy cross! Destruction waits you here, salvation is in

"That is true, that is true."

"Put on male attire as quickly as you can, and wait."

"And Vassily?"

"What Vassily?"

"My crazy cousin."

"Destruction threatens you, not him," said Zagloba. "If he is crazy, he
is sacred to the Cossacks. Indeed, I noticed that they take him for a

"That is true, and he has offended Bogun in nothing."

"We must leave him; otherwise we are lost, and Pan Skshetuski with us.
Hurry, my lady, hurry!"

With these words Zagloba left the room and went directly to Bogun. The
chief was pale and weak, but his eyes were open.

"You are better?" asked Zagloba.

Bogun wished to speak, but could not.

"You cannot speak?"

Bogun moved his head in sign that he could not, but at the same time
suffering was stamped on his face. His wounds had evidently grown
painful from movement.

"And you are not able to cry?"

Bogun gave a sign only with his eyes that he could not.

"Nor move?"

The same sign.

"So much the better; for you will not speak, nor cry, nor move.
Meanwhile I will go to Lubni with the princess. If I don't sweep her
away from you, then I will let an old woman grind me to bran in a mill.
What a scoundrel! You think that I haven't enough of your company, that
I will be hail-fellow-well-met with trash? Oh, you scoundrel! you
thought that for your wine, your dice, and your plebeian loves I would
kill people and go into rebellion with you? No, nothing of the sort, my
handsome fellow!"

As Zagloba went on, the dark eyes of the chief opened wider and wider.
Was he dreaming, was he awake, or was Zagloba jesting?

But Zagloba talked on: "What do you stare so for, like a cat? Do you
think that I won't do this? Perhaps you would like to send your
respects to somebody in Lubni? A barber could be sent to you, for a
good one can be had from the prince."

The pale visage of the chief became terrible. He understood that
Zagloba was speaking in earnest. Lightning flashes of despair and rage
shot from his eyes; a flame rushed into his face. With superhuman
effort he raised himself and a cry broke from his lips.

"Hi! Cos--"

He had not finished when Zagloba, with the speed of lightning, threw
Bogun's coat over his head, and in a moment had wound it completely
around him and thrown him on his back.

"Don't cry, for it hurts you," said he quietly, panting heavily. "Your
head might go to aching to-morrow; therefore as a good friend I am
careful of you. In this fashion you will be warm and sleep comfortably,
not scream your throat out. Lest you tear your clothes, I will bind
your hands; and all this through friendship, that you may remember me
with gratitude."

With the belt on the Cossack he bound his hands; then with his own belt
he tied his feet. Bogun felt nothing now; he had fainted.

"A sick man should lie quietly," said Zagloba, "so that humor may not
fly to his head; from this comes delirium. Well, good health to you! I
might rip you with a knife, which would probably be the best use for
you, but I am ashamed to kill a man in peasant fashion. Quite another
affair if you choke before morning, for that has happened to more than
one pig. Good health, and return my love! Maybe we shall have another
meeting; but if I try to hasten it, then let some one flay me and make
horse-cruppers of my skin."

When he had finished this speech Zagloba went to the anteroom, quenched
the fire in the chimney, and knocked at Vassily's door. A slender
figure emerged from it at once.

"Is that you?" asked Zagloba.

"It is."

"Come on! If we only reach the horses--but then the Cossacks are all
drunk, the night is dark; before they wake we shall be far away. Be
careful! the princes are lying here."

"In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!" whispered Helena.

                              CHAPTER XIX.

Two persons rode quietly and slowly through the woody ravine which
skirted the dwelling at Rozlogi. The night had become very dark, for
the moon had gone down long before, and besides clouds covered the sky.
In the ravine nothing could be seen three steps ahead of the horses,
which stumbled over the roots of the trees sticking across the road.
They went for a long time with the greatest care, till at length, when
they saw the end of the ravine, and the open steppe, lighted a little
by the gray reflection of the clouds, one of the riders whispered,
"Spur on!"

They shot ahead, like two arrows sent from Tartar bows. Nothing
followed them but the sound of hoofs. The dark steppe seemed to fly
from under their beasts. Single oak-trees standing here and there by
the roadside swept past like phantoms, and they fled for a long time
without rest or drawing breath, till finally the horses dropped their
ears and began to snort from weariness, their gait grew heavy and slow.

"There is no help for it, the horses must slacken their pace," said one
of the travellers, a heavy man.

Just then dawn began to push night from the steppe. Every moment a
broader expanse came out from the darkness; the thistles of the steppe
were outlined indistinctly, the distant trees, the mounds; every moment
more light was diffused in the air. The whitish gleams lighted up the
faces of the riders too. They were Pan Zagloba and Helena.

"No help for it, we must let the horses slacken their speed," said
Zagloba. "Yesterday they came from Chigirin to Rozlogi without resting.
They cannot endure this kind of travelling long. I am afraid they may
drop dead. How do you feel?"

Here Zagloba looked at his companion, and not waiting for her to
answer, cried out,--

"Oh, let me look at you in the daylight! Oh, ho! are those your
cousin's clothes? It must be said you are a splendid Cossack. I've not
had in all my life such another waiting-man; but I think Pan Skshetuski
will take him from me soon. But what is this? Oh, for God's sake, twist
up your hair! Unless you do there will be no doubt as to your sex."

In fact, over Helena's shoulders flowed a torrent of black hair, let
loose by the speed of the course and the dampness of the night.

"Where are we going?" asked she, winding up her hair with both hands,
and trying to put it under her cap.

"Where our eyes take us."

"Then not to Lubni?"

Alarm was reflected on Helena's face, and in the quick glance which she
threw at Zagloba reawakened distrust was evident.

"Do you see," said he, "I have my own reason; and believe me I have
reckoned everything carefully, and my reckoning is based on the
following wise maxim: Do not escape in the direction in which you will
be pursued. If they are pursuing us at this moment, they are pursuing
in the direction of Lubni; for I inquired yesterday in a loud voice
about the road, and before setting out I told Bogun that we should go
in that direction. Therefore we shall go to Cherkasi. If they follow
us, it will not be quickly, for it will take them two days to discover
that we are not on the Lubni road. By that time we shall be in
Cherkasi, where the Polish regiments of Pivnitski and Rudomina are
stationed; and in Korsún are all the forces of the hetmans. Do you
understand now?"

"I understand, and while life lasts I shall be thankful to you! I do
not know who you are or whence you came to Rozlogi; but I think God
sent you to defend and save me, for I should stab myself rather than
fall into the power of that robber."

"He is a dragon, terribly intent on pursuing you."

"What in my misfortune have I done to him that he should pursue me? I
have known him long, and long have I hated him, long since has he
roused in me nothing but fear. Am I the only woman in the world, that
he should love me, and shed so much blood on my account,--that he
should kill my cousins? When I remember it my blood grows cold. What
shall I do? Where shall I hide from him? Do not wonder at my
complaining, for I am unhappy. I am ashamed of such affection; I should
prefer death a hundred times."

Helena's cheeks were flushed; tears were flowing over them, forced out
by anger, contempt, and pain.

"I will not deny," said Zagloba, "that a great misfortune has come upon
your house; but permit me to say that your relatives are partly to
blame. They should not have promised your hand to the Cossack, and then
betrayed him. When this was discovered he became so enraged that no
persuasion of mine could avail. I am sorry for your two dead cousins,
and especially for the younger; for he was still a mere youth, but it
was evident at a glance that he would have ripened into a mighty

Helena began to cry.

"Tears are not proper to those garments which you wear; wipe them away
therefore, and say to yourself that this was the will of God. God will
punish the outlaw too, who is indeed already punished; for he has shed
blood in vain, and has lost you, the one chief object of his desires."

Here Zagloba stopped; after a while he spoke again:--

"Oh, dear Lord, what a dressing he would give me if I should fall into
his hands! He would make a lizard out of my skin. You do not know that
I have already received the crown of martyrdom from the Turks; but I
have had enough, I do not wish another; therefore I do not go to Lubni,
but to Cherkasi. It would be pleasant to take refuge with the prince,
but if they should catch us while going there! You heard, as I was
untying the horse from the post, how one of Bogun's serving-men woke
up. But if he had raised the alarm then? They would have been ready for
the chase at once, and would have caught us in an hour; for they have
the fresh horses of Rozlogi, from which I had no time to select. Oh, I
tell you he is a wild beast, that Bogun! I have such a horror of him
that I would rather take a look at the devil than at him."

"God save us from his hands!"

"He has ruined himself. He abandoned Chigirin, in spite of the orders
of the hetman; he has come into collision with Vishnyevetski. Nothing
now remains for him but to flee to Hmelnitski. But he will lose his
daring if Hmelnitski is beaten, and that may happen. Jendzian met
troops beyond Kremenchug, sailing down the river under Barabash and
Krechovski, against Hmelnitski; and, besides, young Stephan Pototski is
moving by land with his hussars; but Jendzian waited ten days in
Kremenchug to repair his boat. Therefore the battle must have taken
place before he reached Chigirin. We were expecting news every moment."

"Then Jendzian brought letters from Kudák, did he?" asked Helena.

"Yes, there were letters from Skshetuski to the princess and to you;
but Bogun seized them, and from them learned everything. Then he struck
down Jeodzian at once, and set out to take vengeance on the

"Oh, unfortunate youth! He has shed his blood on my account."

"Do not grieve; he will recover."

"When did this happen?"

"Yesterday morning. For Bogun to fell a man is no more than for another
to toss off a glass of wine. And after the reading of the letters, he
roared so that all Chigirin trembled."

Conversation was interrupted for a moment. Daylight had come. The rosy
dawn, streaked with opals, bright gold, and purple, was glowing in the
east. The breeze was fresh; the horses, now rested, moved gladly.

"Let us go on, in God's name, and quickly! Our horses have drawn
breath, and we have no time to lose," said Zagloba.

They went again at a gallop, and rushed on for two or three miles
without rest. All at once a dark point appeared ahead of them, which
approached with amazing rapidity.

"What can that be?" asked Zagloba. "Let us draw up a little. That's a
man on horseback."

In fact, some horseman was approaching them at full speed. Bent forward
in the saddle, with face hidden in the mane of the horse, he continued
to urge with a nagaika the stallion, which seemed not to touch the

"What kind of devil can he be, and why does he flee so? But he just
flies!" said Zagloba, taking out a pistol from the holsters, to be
ready in every event.

Meanwhile the courier had come within thirty yards.

"Stop!" thundered Zagloba, aiming his pistol; "who are you?"

The horseman reined in his steed, and sat erect in the saddle; but the
moment he looked he cried, "Pan Zagloba!"

"Pleshnyevski, attendant of the starosta of Chigirin! But what are you
doing here? Where are you fleeing to?"

"Oh, turn back with me! Misfortune! The anger of God, the judgment of

"What has happened? Speak!"

"Chigirin is taken by the Zaporojians. The peasants are slaughtering
the nobles."

"In the name of the Father and Son! What do you say? Has Hmelnitski

"Pototski is killed, Charnetski in captivity. The Tartars are marching
with the Cossacks. Tugai Bey--"

"But Barabash and Krechovski?"

"Barabash is killed, Krechovski has gone over to Hmelnitski. Krívonos
moved on the hetmans last night, Hmelnitski before daybreak this
morning. He has tremendous forces. The country is on fire, peasants
rising everywhere; blood is flowing. Save yourself!"

Zagloba's eyes were starting out, his mouth open, and he was so
astonished that he could not speak.

"Save yourself!" repeated Pleshnyevski.

"Jesus and Mary!" groaned Zagloba.

"Jesus and Mary!" repeated Helena, and burst into tears.

"Escape! There is no time to be wasted."

"Where! To what place?"

"To Lubni."

"But are you going there?"

"Yes; to the prince, the voevoda."

"Devil take it all!" cried Zagloba. "But where are the hetmans?"

"At Korsún. But Krívonos is fighting with them already."

"Krívonos or Prostonos,[10] may the plague consume him! I have no
reason to go where he is."

"You are running to your own destruction, as into a lion's mouth."

"And who sent you to Lubni? Your lord?"

"Oh! he escaped with his life; and a friend whom I have among the
Zaporojians saved my head, and helped me to flee. I am going to Lubni
of my own will, for I don't know where else to take refuge."

"But avoid Rozlogi, for Bogun is there. He also wishes to join the

"Oh, for God's sake, save us! In Chigirin they said that the peasants
would rise immediately beyond the Dnieper!"

"Maybe I maybe! But go your own way wherever you please, for I have
enough to do to think of my own skin."

"That is what I'll do," said Pleshnyevski; and lashing his horse with
the nagaika, he rushed on.

"But avoid Rozlogi!" called Zagloba after him. "Should you meet Bogun,
don't tell him that you have seen me. Do you hear?"

"I hear," answered Pleshnyevski. "God be with you!" And he raced away
as if hunted.

"Well, devil, here's an overcoat for you! I've got out of many a
trouble, but I have never been in anything like this. Hmelnitski in
front, Bogun in the rear; and since this is so, I wouldn't give a
broken orta for either my front or rear, or my whole skin. I was a fool
not to go to Lubni with you, but it is no time to talk of that now.
Pshaw, pshaw! All my wit at the present moment isn't fit to grease a
pair of boots with. What is to be done? Where am I to go? In the whole
Commonwealth it appears there is not a corner where a man can leave the
world with his own death, and not have death given him. I would rather
be excused from such presents; let others take them."

"Most worthy sir," said Helena, "I know that my cousins Yuri and Fedor
are in Zólotonosha; maybe they could save us."

"In Zólotonosha? Wait a moment! In Chigirin I knew Pan Unyejitski, who
owns the estates of Krapivna and Chernobái, near Zólotonosha. But that
place is far from here, farther than Cherkasi. What is to be done? If
there is no other place, why, we will take refuge even there. But we
must leave the highway; it is safer to go by the steppe and woods. If
we hide somewhere a week, even in the woods, perhaps by that time the
hetmans will finish with Hmelnitski, and it will be more peaceable in
the Ukraine."

"God did not save us from the hands of Bogun to let us perish. Have

"Wait a moment! Some spirit enters me anew. I have been in many a
trouble. In a leisure hour I will tell you what happened to me in
Galáts, and you will see at once that I was in a terrible place that
time; still I slipped out by my own wit from those dangers and escaped
in safety, though as you see my beard has grown gray a little. But we
must leave the highway. Turn, my lady! You ride as well as the best
Cossack. The grass is high, and no eye can see us."

In fact, the grass became higher and higher as they entered the steppe,
so that at last they were hidden in it entirely. But it was difficult
for the horses to move through that thicket of stalks, both slender and
heavy, and at times sharp and cutting. Soon they became so tired that
they were completely exhausted.

"If we want these horses to serve us further, we must dismount,
unsaddle them, and let them roll and eat awhile, otherwise they will
not go on. I see that we shall reach the Kagamlik before long. I should
like to be there now. There is no place to hide in like reeds; when you
are in them the devil himself can't find you. But we must not go

He dismounted and assisted Helena from the horse, then took off the
saddles and produced a supply of provisions which he had prudently
provided in Rozlogi.

"We must strengthen ourselves," said he, "for the road is long; and do
you make some vow to Saint Raphael for our safe passage. There is an
old fortress in Zólotonosha, and perhaps there is some kind of garrison
there now. Pleshnyevski said that beyond the Dnieper the peasants are
rising. H'm! this may be true, for the people are quick at rebellion
everywhere; but the hand of the prince is on the country behind them,
and it is a devil of a hand for weight! Bogun has a strong neck; but if
that hand should fall on it, the neck would bend to the earth,--which
God grant, amen! But eat something, Princess!"

Zagloba took a little knife-case out of his boot-leg and gave it to
Helena; then he placed before her, on the saddlecloth, roast beef and

"Eat!" said he. "'When there is nothing in the stomach, we have peas
and cabbage for brains.' 'If you want to keep your head right, eat
roast beef.' But we have made fools of ourselves once, for apparently
it would have been better to flee to Lubni; but the chance is gone now.
The prince will surely move with his forces to the Dnieper, to assist
the hetmans. We have lived to terrible times, when there is civil war,
the worst of all evils. There will not be a corner for peaceable
persons. It would have been better for me if I had joined the
priesthood, for which I had a vocation, being a quiet and sober man;
but fortune ordained otherwise. Oh, my God, my God! I should be canon
of Cracow now, chanting my prayers, for I have a very beautiful voice.
But what is to be done? From my youth up, girls pleased me! You
wouldn't believe what a handsome fellow I was; whenever I looked at a
woman, it was as if lightning struck her. If I were twenty years
younger now, Pan Skshetuski would have something on his hands. Ah, you
are a splendid Cossack! No wonder young men are rushing after you, and
battling to win you. Pan Skshetuski is no common warrior. I saw the
punishment he gave Chaplinski. True, he had something in his head; but
when he took him by the neck and--pardon me--by the trousers, and when
he battered the door open with him, I tell you that every bone in
Chaplinski came out of its pocket. Old Zatsvilikhovski told me too that
your betrothed is a great knight, the favorite of the prince. I saw
myself in a moment that he was a soldier of uncommon daring and of
experience beyond his years. He acts quickly. Though your company may
be dear to me, I don't know how much I should give if we were in
Zólotonosha now. I see that we must stay in the grass during the day
and travel at night. But I don't know whether you will be able to
endure such toil."

"Oh, I am in good health. I will endure every hardship. We could start
even this moment."

"You have courage beyond women! The horses have rolled; I will saddle
them at once, so as to be ready in every event. I shall not feel at
ease till I see the reeds and rushes of the Kagamlik. If we hadn't left
the road, we should have come upon the river nearer Chigirin, but here
it is about five miles to it from the road. That is my estimate, at
least. We shall cross to the other bank at once. I must tell you that I
have a great desire to sleep. The entire night before last I went
around in Chigirin, yesterday we drove with the Cossacks at a terrible
pace to Rozlogi, and last night you and I rode away from Rozlogi. I
want to sleep so much that I have lost all wish to talk; and though I
have not the habit of being silent,--for philosophers say that a cat
should be a hunter, and a man a talker,--still I find my tongue has
grown lazy. Pardon me, then, if I doze."

"Oh, there is nothing to make excuse for," said Helena.

Pan Zagloba had really no need to accuse his tongue of sloth, for it
had been going unceasingly since daylight; but in truth he wished to
sleep. When he sat on the horse again, he began to doze at once, and
soon he was sleeping soundly. He fell asleep from weariness and from
the sound of the grass bent apart by the breasts of the horses.

Meanwhile Helena gave herself up to the thoughts which were whirling in
her head like a flock of birds in the air. Up to that moment events had
followed one another so quickly that she was unable to render account
of all that had happened to her. The attack, the frightful scenes of
death, terror, unexpected rescue, and flight,--all came like a storm in
the course of a single night. And besides, so many unintelligible
things! Who was this who had saved her? He had told her his name, it is
true, but that name explained in no way the motives of his action.
Whence did he come to Rozlogi? He said that he had come with Bogun; he
had evidently kept company with him, was his acquaintance and friend.
But in such a case why did he save her, and expose himself to the
greatest danger and the terrible revenge of the Cossack? To understand
this it was necessary to know Zagloba well, with his unruly head and
his kindly heart. Helena had known him only six hours. And that unknown
man with his impudent face, a swaggerer, a drunkard, is her savior. If
she had met him three days before, he would have roused in her aversion
and distrust; but now she looks on him as a good angel, and flees with
him--whither? To Zólotonosha or anywhere else,--she herself knows not
yet clearly. What a change of fate! Yesterday she lay down to rest
under the quiet roof where she was born; to-day she is in the steppe,
on horseback, in male attire, without home, without refuge. Behind her
is the terrible chief, with designs on her honor; before her
conflagration, peasant rebellion, civil war with all its ambushes,
alarms, and horrors. And all her hope is in that man? No! it is still
in some one more powerful than violence, war, murder, and
conflagration. Here she raised her eyes to heaven and said,--

"Oh, do thou save me, great and merciful God! Rescue the orphan, the
unhappy, the wanderer! Let thy will be done, but let thy mercy be

Indeed the mercy had been made manifest, for she had been caught away
from the most terrible hands, and saved by an incomprehensible miracle
of God. Danger had not passed yet, but perhaps rescue was not distant.
Who knows where he is whom she has chosen with her heart? He must have
returned already from the Saitch; perhaps he is somewhere in that same
steppe. He will seek her and find her, and then joy will take the place
of tears, and rejoicing of grief; alarm and terror will disappear
forever, peace and pleasure will come. The brave simple heart of the
girl was filled with trust, and the steppe rustled sweetly around her;
the breeze which moved the grass blew at the same time pleasant
thoughts to her brain. She is not an orphan, then, in this world, since
she has here at her side one strange, unknown guardian, and still
another, known and beloved, who is caring for her. He will not desert
her, he will take her for good; and he is a man of iron, stronger and
mightier than those rising against her in that hour.

The steppe rustled sweetly; from the flowers came odors strong and
intoxicating; the ruddy tops of the thistle spread out their purple
bunches; the white pearls of the mikalief and the feathers of the
steppe grass bent toward her, as if recognizing a maiden sister in that
Cossack, with long tresses, milk-white face, and red lips. They bent
toward her as if wishing to say: "Cry not, beautiful maiden! we too are
in the care of the Lord," A calm, increasing every moment, came to her
from the steppe. Pictures of death and pursuit were blotted from her
mind, and straightway a sort of weakness seized her, but a sweet one;
slumber began to close her eyelids; the horses went slowly, the
movement lulled her. She dropped asleep.

                              CHAPTER XX.

Helena was wakened by the barking of dogs. Opening her eyes, she
saw in the distance before her a great shady oak, an enclosure, and a
well-sweep. She roused her companion at once: "Oh, wake up!"

Zagloba opened his eyes. "What is this? Where are we?"

"I don't know."

"Wait a moment! This is a Cossack wintering-place."

"So it appears to me."

"Herdsmen live here, no doubt. Not too pleasant company! And these dogs
howl as if wolves had bitten them. There are horses and men at the
enclosure. No help for it; we must ride up to them, lest they pursue us
if we pass. You must have been asleep."

"I was."

"One, two, three, four horses saddled,--four men there at the
enclosure. Well, that is no great force. True, they are herdsmen. They
are doing something in a hurry. Hallo there, men, come this way!"

The four Cossacks approached immediately. They were, in fact, herders
who watched horses in the steppe during the summer. Zagloba noticed at
once that only one of them had a sabre and a gun. The other three were
armed with horse-jaws fastened to staves, but he knew that such
herdsmen were often dangerous to travellers.

When all four approached they gazed from under their brows at the
new-comers; in their bronzed faces could not be found the least trace
of welcome. "What do you want?" asked they, without removing their

"Glory to God!" said Zagloba.

"For the ages of ages! What do you want?"

"Is it far to Syrovati?"

"We don't know of any Syrovati."

"And what is this place called?"


"Give our horses water."

"We have no water; it is dried up. But where do you ride from?"

"From Krivaya Rudá."

"Where are you going?"

"To Chigirin."

The herdsmen looked at one another. One of them, black as a bug and
crooked-eyed, began to gaze intently at Zagloba. At last he asked: "Why
did you leave the highway?"

"It was hot there."

The crooked-eyed man put his hand on the reins of Zagloba's horse:
"Come down from the horse, come down! You have nothing to go to
Chigirin for."

"How so?" asked Zagloba, quietly.

"Do you see that young fellow there?" asked crooked-eye, pointing to
one of the herdsmen.

"I do."

"He has come from Chigirin. They are slaughtering Poles there."

"And do you know, fellow, who is following us to Chigirin?"


"Prince Yeremi."

The insolent face of the herdsman dropped in a moment. All, as if by
command, removed their caps.

"Do you know, you trash!" continued Zagloba, "what the Poles do to
those who slaughter? They hang them. And do you know how many men
Prince Yeremi has, and do you know that he is no farther than two or
three miles from here? And how have you received us, you dog souls!
What stuff you tell!--the well is dried up, you have no water for
horses! Ah, basilisks! I'll show you!"

"Oh, don't be angry, Pan! The well is dried up. We go to the Kagamlik
with our horses, and bring water for ourselves. But say the word and we
will run for water."

"Oh, I can get on without you! I will go with my attendant. Where is
the Kagamlik?" inquired he, sternly.

"About a mile and a quarter from here," said the crooked-eyed man,
pointing to a line of reeds.

"And must I return this way, or can I go along the bank?"

"Go by the bank. The river turns to the road about a mile from here."

"Dash ahead, young man!" said Zagloba, turning to Helena.

The pretended youth turned his horse and galloped on.

"Listen!" said Zagloba, turning to the herdsman. "If the vanguard comes
up, say that I went to the road along the river."

"I will."

A quarter of an hour later Zagloba was riding again by the side of

"I invented the prince for them in season," said he, blinking with his
cataract-covered eye. "Now they will stay all day waiting for the
vanguard. They shuddered at the mere name of the prince."

"T see you have such ready wit that you will save us from every
trouble," said Helena, "and I thank God for sending me such a

These words went to the heart of the noble. He smiled, stroked his
beard, and said,--

"Well, hasn't Zagloba a head on his shoulders? Cunning as Ulysses! and
I must tell you, had it not been for that cunning, the crows would have
eaten me long ago. Can't help it, I must save myself. They believed
easily that the prince was coming, for it is probable that he will
appear to-morrow or next day in this neighborhood with a fiery sword
like an archangel. And if he should only strike Bogun somewhere on the
road, I would make a vow to walk barefoot to Chenstokhova. Even if
those herdsmen did not believe, the very mention of the power of the
prince was enough to restrain them from attacks on our lives. Still I
tell you that their impudence is no good sign to us, for it means that
the peasants here have heard of the victories of Hmelnitski, and will
become more and more insolent every moment. We must keep therefore to
the waste places and visit few villages, for they are dangerous. We
have got into such a snare that, as I live, it would be hard to invent
a worse one."

Alarm again seized Helena. Wishing to get some word of hope from
Zagloba, she said: "But you will save me and yourself this time?"

"Of course," said the old fox; "the head is given to think about the
body. I have become so attached to you that I will struggle for you as
for my own daughter. But, to tell the truth, the worst is that we don't
know where to take refuge, for Zólotonosha is no safe asylum."

"I know surely that my cousins are there."

"They are, or they are not; they may have left there and returned to
Rozlogi by a different road from the one we are travelling. I count
more on the garrison, if there is only half a regiment in the castle.
But here is the Kagamlik and plenty of reeds. We will cross to the
other side, and instead of going with the current toward the road, we
will go up stream to elude pursuit. It is true that we shall go toward
Rozlogi, but not far."

"We shall approach Brovarki," said Helena, "from which there is a road
to Zólotonosha."

"That is better. Stop your horse!"

They watered the horses. Zagloba, leaving Helena carefully hidden in
the reeds, went to look for a ford. He found one easily, for it was
only a few yards from the place to which they had come,--just where the
herdsmen used to drive their horses through the river, which was
shallow enough, but the bank was inconvenient because overgrown with
reeds and soft. When they had crossed the river they hurried up stream
and rode without resting till night. The road was bad; for the Kagamlik
had many tributary streams, which spreading out toward the mouth formed
swamps and soft places. Every little while it was necessary to look for
fords, or to push through reeds difficult of passage for mounted
travellers. The horses were tired and barely able to drag their legs
along; at times they stumbled so badly that it seemed to Zagloba they
could hold out no longer. At last they came out on a lofty dry bank
covered with oaks. But it was night already, and very dark. Further
movement was impossible, for in the darkness it was easy to stumble
into deep swamps and perish. Zagloba therefore decided to wait till

He unsaddled the horses, fettered and let them out to graze; then he
gathered leaves for a bed, spread the saddlecloths over them, and
covering both with a burka, said to Helena,--

"Lie down and sleep, for you have nothing better to do. The dew will
wash your eyes, and that is good. I will put my head on the saddle too,
for I don't feel a bone in my body. We will not make a fire, for the
light would attract herdsmen. The night is short, and we will move on
at daybreak. We doubled on our tracks like hares, not advancing much,
it is true; but we have so hidden the trail that the devil who finds us
will puff. Good-night!"


The slender young Cossack knelt down and prayed long with eyes raised
to the stars. Zagloba took the saddle on his shoulders and carried it
to some distance, where he sought out a place to sleep. The bank was
well chosen for a halting-place; it was high and dry, also free from
mosquitoes. The thick leaves of the oak-trees might furnish a passable
protection from rain.

Helena could not sleep for a long time. The events of the past night
rose at once in her memory as vividly as life. In the darkness appeared
the faces of her murdered aunt and cousins. It seemed to her that she
was shut up in the chamber with their bodies, and that Bogun would come
in a moment. She saw his pale face and his dark sable brows contracted,
with pain, and his eyes fixed upon her. Unspeakable terror seized her.
But will she really see on a sudden through the darkness around her two
gleaming eyes?

The moon, looking for a moment from behind the clouds, whitened with a
few rays the oaks, and lent fantastic forms to the stumps and branches.
Landrails called in the meadows, and quails in the steppes; at times
certain strange and distant cries of birds or beasts of the night came
to them. Nearer was heard the snorting of their horses, who eating the
grass and jumping in their fetters went farther and farther from the
sleepers. But all those sounds quieted Helena, for they dissipated the
fantastic visions and brought her to reality; told her that that
chamber which was continually present before her eyes, and those
corpses of her friends, and that pale Bogun, with vengeance in his
looks, were an illusion of the senses, a whim of fear, nothing more. A
few days before, the thought of such a night under the open sky in the
desert would have frightened her to death; now, to gain rest she was
obliged to remember that she was really on the bank of the Kagamlik,
and far from home.

The voices of the quails and landrails lulled her to sleep. The stars
twinkled whenever the breeze moved the branches, the beetles sounded in
the oak-leaves; she fell asleep at last. But nights in the desert have
their surprises too. Day was already breaking, when from a distance
terrible noises came to Helena's ears,--howling, snorting, later a
squeal so full of pain and terror that the blood stopped in her veins.
She sprang to her feet, covered with cold sweat, terror-stricken, and
not knowing what to do. Suddenly Zagloba shot past her. He rushed
without a cap, in the direction of the cry, pistol in hand. After a
while his voice was heard: "U-ha! u-ha!" a pistol-shot, then all was
silent. It seemed to Helena as if she had waited an age. At last she
heard Zagloba below the bank.

"May the dogs devour you, may your skins be torn off, may the Jews wear
you in their collars!"

Genuine despair was in the voice of Zagloba.

"What has happened?" inquired Helena.

"The wolves have eaten our horses."

"Jesus, Mary! both of them?"

"One is eaten, the other is maimed so that he cannot stand. They didn't
go more than three hundred yards, and are lost."

"What shall we do now?"

"What shall we do? Whittle out sticks for ourselves and sit on them. Do
I know what we shall do? Here is pure despair. I tell you, the devil
has surely got after us,--which is not to be wondered at, for he must
be a friend of Bogun, or his blood relation. What are we to do? May I
turn into a horse if I know,--you would then at least have something to
ride on. I am a scoundrel if ever I have been in such a fix."

"Let us go on foot."

"It is well for your ladyship to travel in peasant fashion, with your
twenty years, but not for me with my circumference. I speak
incorrectly, though, for here any clown can have a nag, only dogs
travel on foot. Pure despair, as God is kind to me! Of course we shall
not sit here, we shall walk on directly; but when we are to reach
Zólotonosha is unknown to me. If it is not pleasant to flee on
horseback, it is sorest of all on foot. Now the worst thing possible
has happened to us. We must leave the saddles and carry on our own
shoulders whatever we put between our lips."

"I will not allow you to carry the burden alone; I too will carry
whatever is necessary."

Zagloba was pleased to see such resolution in Helena.

"I should be either a Turk or a Pagan to permit you. Those white hands
and slender shoulders are not for burdens. With God's help I will
manage; only I must rest frequently, for, always too abstemious in
eating and drinking, I have short breath now. Let us take the
saddle-cloths to sleep on and some provisions; but there will not be
much of them, since we shall have to strengthen ourselves directly."

Straightway they began the strengthening, during which Pan Zagloba,
abandoning his boasted abstemiousness, busied himself about long
breath. Near midday they reached a ford through which men and wagons
passed from time to time, for on both banks there were marks of wheels
and horses' tracks.

"Maybe that is the road to Zólotonosha."

"There is no one to ask."

Zagloba had barely stopped speaking, when voices reached their ears
from a distance.

"Wait!" whispered Zagloba, "we must hide."

The voices continued to approach them.

"Do you see anything?" inquired Helena.

"I do."

"Who are coming?"

"A blind old man with a lyre. A youth is leading him, Now they are
taking off their boots. They will come to us through the river."

After a time the plashing of water indicated that they were really
crossing. Zagloba and Helena came out of the hiding-place.

"Glory be to God!" said the noble, aloud.

"For the ages of ages!" answered the old man. "But who are you?"

"Christians. Don't be afraid, grandfather!"

"May Saint Nicholas give you health and happiness!"

"And where are you coming from, grandfather?"

"From Brovarki."

"And where does this road lead to?"

"Oh, to farmhouses and villages."

"It doesn't go to Zólotonosha?"

"Maybe it does."

"Is it long since you left Brovarki?"

"Yesterday morning."

"And were you in Rozlogi?"

"Yes. But they say that the knights came there, that there was a

"Who said that?"

"Oh, they said so in Brovarki. One of the servants of the princess
came, and what he told was terrible!"

"And you didn't see him?"

"I? I see no man, I am blind."

"And this youth?"

"He sees, but he is dumb. I am the only one who understands him."

"Is it far from here to Rozlogi, for we are going there?"

"Oh, it is far!"

"You say, then, that you were in Rozlogi?"

"Yes, we were."

"So!" said Zagloba; and suddenly he seized the youth by the shoulder.
"Ha! scoundrels, criminals, thieves! you are going around as spies,
rousing the serfs to rebellion. Here, Fedor, Oleksa, Maksim, take them,
strip them naked, and hang or drown them; beat them,--they are rebels,
spies,--beat, kill them!"

He began to pull the youth about and to shake him roughly, shouting
louder and louder every moment. The old man threw himself on his knees,
begging for mercy; the youth uttered sounds of terror peculiar to the
dumb, and Helena looked with astonishment at the attack.

"What are you doing?" inquired she, not believing her own eyes.

But Zagloba shouted, cursed, moved hell, summoned all the miseries,
misfortunes, and diseases, threatened with every manner of torment and

The princess thought that his mind had failed.

"Go away!" cried he to her; "it is not proper for you to see what is
going to take place here. Go away, I tell you!"

He turned to the old man. "Take off your clothes, you clown! If you
don't, I'll cut you to pieces."

When he had thrown the youth to the ground Zagloba began to strip him
with his own hands. The old man, frightened, dropped his lyre, his bag,
and his coat as quickly as he could.

"Throw off everything or you will be killed!" shouted Zagloba.

The old man began to take off his shirt.

Helena, seeing whither matters were tending, hurried away, and as she
fled she heard the curses of Zagloba.

After she had gone some distance she stopped, not knowing what to do.
Near by was the trunk of a tree thrown down by the wind; she sat on
this and waited. The noises of the dumb youth, the groans of the old
man, and the uproar of Zagloba came to her ears.

At last all was silent save the twittering of birds and the rustle of
leaves. After a time the heavy steps of a man panting were heard. It
was Zagloba. On his shoulders he carried the clothing stripped from the
old man and the youth, in his hands two pair of boots and a lyre. When
he came near he began to wink with his sound eye, to smile, and to
puff. He was evidently in perfect humor.

"No herald in a court would have shouted as I have," said he, "until I
am hoarse; but I have got what I wanted. I let them go naked as their
mother bore them. If the Sultan doesn't make me a pasha, or hospodar of
Wallachia, he is a thankless fellow, for I have made two Turkish
saints. Oh, the scoundrels! they begged me to leave them at least their
shirts. I told them they ought to be grateful that I left them their
lives. And see here, young lady! Everything is new,--the coats and the
boots and the shirts. There must be nice order in that Commonwealth, in
which trash dress so richly. But they were at a festival in Brovarki,
where they collected no small amount of money and bought everything new
at the fair. Not a single noble will plough out so much in this country
as a minstrel will beg. Therefore I abandon my career as a knight, and
will strip grandfathers on the highway, for I see that in this manner I
shall arrive at fortune more quickly."

"For what purpose did you do that?" asked Helena.

"Just wait a minute, and I will show you for what purpose."

Saying this, he took half the plundered clothing and went into the
reeds which covered the bank. After a time the sounds of a lyre were
heard in the rushes, and there appeared, not Pan Zagloba, but a real
"grandfather" of the Ukraine, with a cataract on one eye and a gray
beard. The "grandfather" approached Helena, singing with a hoarse

                 "Oh, bright falcon, my own brother,
                  High dost thou soar,
                  And far dost thou fly!"

The princess clapped her hands, and for the first time since her flight
from Rozlogi a smile brightened her beautiful face.

"If I did not know that it was you, I should never have recognized

"Well," said Zagloba, "I know you have not seen a better mask at a
festival. I looked into the Kagamlik myself; and if ever I have seen a
better-looking grandfather, then hang me. As for songs, I have no lack
of them. What do you prefer? Maybe you would like to hear of Marusia
Boguslava, of Bondarivna, or the death of Sierpahova; I can give you
that. I am a rogue if I can't get a crust of bread among the worst
knaves that exist."

"Now I understand your action, why you stripped the clothing from those
poor creatures,--because it is safer to go over the road in disguise."

"Of course," said Zagloba; "and what do you suppose? Here, east of the
Dnieper, the people are worse than anywhere else; and now when they
hear of the war with the Zaporojians, and the victories, of Hmelnitski,
no power will keep them from rebellion. You saw those herdsmen who
wanted to get our skins. If the hetmans do not put down Hmelnitski at
once, the whole country will be on fire in two or three days, and how
should I take you through bands of peasants in rebellion? And if you
had to fall into their hands, you would better have remained in

"That cannot be! I prefer death," interrupted Helena.

"But I prefer life; for death is a thing from which you cannot rise by
any wit. I think, however, that God sent us this old man and the youth.
I frightened them with the prince and his whole army as I did the
herdsmen. They will sit in the reeds naked for three days from terror,
and by that time we shall reach Zólotonosha in disguise somehow. We
shall find your cousins and efficient aid; if not, we will go farther
to the hetmans,--and all this in safety, for grandfathers have no fear
of peasants and Cossacks. We might take our heads in safety through
Hmelnitski's camp. But we have to avoid the Tartars, for they would
take you as a youth into captivity."

"Then must I too disguise myself?"

"Yes; throw off your Cossack clothes, and disguise yourself as a
peasant youth,--though you are rather comely to be a clodhopper's
child, as I am to be a grandfather; but that is nothing. The wind will
tan your face, and my stomach will fall in from walking. I shall sweat
away all my thickness. When the Wallachians burned out my eye, I
thought that an absolutely awful thing had come upon me; but now I see
it is really an advantage, for a grandfather not blind would be
suspected. You will lead me by the hand, and call me Onufri, for that
is my minstrel name. Now dress up as quickly as you can, since it is
time for the road, which will be so long for us on foot."

Zagloba went aside, and Helena began at once to array herself as a
minstrel boy. Having washed in the river, she cast aside the Cossack
coat, and took the peasant's svitka, straw hat, and knapsack.
Fortunately the youth stripped by Zagloba was tall, so that everything
fitted Helena well.

Zagloba, returning, examined her carefully, and said,--

"God save me! more than one knight would willingly lay aside his armor
if he only had such an attendant as you; and I know one hussar who
would certainly. But we must do something with that hair. I saw
handsome boys in Stamboul, but never one so handsome as you are."

"God grant my beauty may work no ill for me!" said Helena. But she
smiled; for her woman's ear was tickled by Zagloba's praise.

"Beauty never turns out ill, and I will give you an example of this;
for when the Turks in Galáts burned out one of my eyes, and wanted to
burn out the other, the wife of the Pasha saved me on account of my
extraordinary beauty, the remnants of which you may see even yet."

"But you said that the Wallachians burned your eye out."

"They were Wallachians, but had become Turks, and were serving the
Pasha in Galáts."

"They didn't burn even one of your eyes out."

"But from the heated iron a cataract grew on it. It's all the same.
What do you wish to do with your tresses?"

"What! I must cut them off?"

"You must. But how?"

"With your sabre."

"It is well to cut a head off with this sword, but hair--I don't know

"Well, I will sit by that log and put my hair across it, you can strike
and cut it off; but don't cut my head off!"

"Oh, never fear! More than once have I shot the wick from candles when
I was drunk, without cutting the candle. I will do no harm to you,
although this act is the first of its kind in my life."

Helena sat near the log, and throwing her heavy dark hair across it,
raised her eyes to Zagloba. "I am ready," said she; "cut!"

She smiled somewhat sadly; for she was sorry for those tresses, which
near the head could hardly be clasped by two hands. Zagloba had a sort
of awkward feeling. He went around the trunk to cut more conveniently,
and muttered:

"Pshaw, pshaw! I would rather be a barber and cut Cossack tufts. I seem
to be an executioner going to my work; for it is known to you that they
cut the hair off witches, so that the devils shouldn't hide in it and
weaken the power of torture. But you are not a witch; therefore this
act seems disgraceful to me,--for which if Pan Skshetuski does not cut
my ears, then I'll pay him. Upon my word, shivers are going along my
arm. At least, close your eyes!"

"All ready!" said Helena.

Zagloba straightened up, as if rising in his stirrups for a blow. The
metallic blade whistled in the air, and that moment the dark tresses
slipped down along the smooth bark to the ground.

"All over!" said Zagloba, in his turn.

Helena sprang up, and immediately the short-cut hair fell in a dark
circle around her face, on which blushes of shame were beating,--for at
that period the cutting of a maiden's hair was considered a great
disgrace; therefore it was on her part a grievous sacrifice, which she
could make only in case of extreme necessity. In fact, tears came to
her eyes; and Zagloba, angry at himself, made no attempt to comfort

"It seems to me that I have ventured on something dishonorable, and I
repeat to you that Pan Skshetuski, if he is a worthy cavalier, is bound
to cut my ears off. But it could not be avoided, for your sex would
have been discovered at once. Now at least we can go on with
confidence. I inquired of the old man too about the road, holding a
dagger to his throat. According to what he said, we shall see three
oaks in the steppe; near them is the Wolf's Ravine, and along the
ravine lies the road through Demiánovka to Zólotonosha. He said that
wagoners go by the road, and it would be possible to sit with them in
the wagons. You and I are passing through a grievous time, which I
shall ever remember; for now we must part with the sabre, since it
befits neither the minstrel nor his boy to have marks of nobility about
their persons. I will push it under this tree. God may permit me to
find it here some other day. Many an expedition has this sabre seen,
and it has been the cause of great victories. Believe me, I should be
commander of an army now were it not for the envy and malice of men
who accused me of a love for strong drinks. So is it always in the
world,--no justice in anything! When I was not rushing into destruction
like a fool, and knew how to unite prudence with valor like a second
Cunctator, Pan Zatsvilikhovski was the first to say that I was a
coward. He is a good man, but he has an evil tongue. The other day he
gnawed at me because I played brother with the Cossacks; but had it not
been for that you would not have escaped the power of Bogun."

While talking, Zagloba thrust the sabre under the tree, covered it with
plants and grass, then threw the bag and lyre over his shoulder, took
the staff pointed with flintstones, waved his hands a couple of times,
and said,--

"Well, this is not bad. I can strike a light in the eyes of some dog or
wolf with this staff and count his teeth. The worst of all is that we
must walk; but there is no help. Come!"

They went on,--the dark-haired youth in front, the old man following.
The latter grunted and cursed; for it was hot for him to travel on
foot, though a breeze passed over the steppe. The breeze burned and
tanned the face of the handsome boy. Soon they came to the ravine, at
the bottom of which was a spring which distilled its pure waters into
the Kagamlik. Around that ravine not far from the river three strong
oaks were growing on a mound; to these our wayfarers turned at once.
They came also upon traces of the road, which looked yellow along the
steppe from flowers which were growing on droppings of cattle. The road
was deserted; there were neither teamsters, nor tar-spots on the
ground, nor gray oxen slowly moving. But here and there lay the bones
of cattle torn to pieces by wolves and whitening in the sun. The
wayfarers went on steadily, resting only under the shade of oak-groves.
The dark-haired boy lay down to slumber on the green turf, and the old
man watched. They passed through streams also; and when there was no
ford they searched for one, walking for a distance along the shore.
Sometimes, too, the old man carried the boy over in his arms, with a
power that was wonderful in a man who begged his bread. But he was a
sturdy minstrel! Thus they dragged on till evening, when the boy sat
down by the wayside at an oak-forest and said,--

"My breath is gone, I have spent my strength; I can walk no farther, I
will lie down here and die."

The old man was terribly distressed. "Oh, these cursed wastes,--not a
house nor a cottage by the roadside, nor a living soul! But we cannot
spend the night here. Evening is already falling, it will be dark in an
hour,--and just listen!"

The old man stopped speaking, and for a while there was deep silence.
But it was soon broken by a distant dismal sound which seemed to come
from the bowels of the earth; it did really come from the ravine, which
lay not far from the road.

"Those are wolves," said Zagloba. "Last night we had horses,--they ate
them; this time they will get at our own persons. I have, it is true, a
pistol under my svitka; but I don't know whether my powder would hold
out for two charges, and I should not like to be the supper at a wolf's
wedding. Listen! Another howl!"

The howling was heard again, and appeared to be nearer.

"Rise, my child!" said the old man; "and if you are unable to walk, I
will carry you. What's to be done? I see that I have a great affection
for you, which is surely because living in a wifeless condition I am
unable to leave legitimate descendants of my own; and if I have
illegitimate they are heathen, for I lived a long time in Turkey. With
me ends the family of Zagloba, with its escutcheon 'In the Forehead.'
You will take care of my old age, but now you must get up and sit on my

"My feet have grown so heavy that I cannot move."

"You were boasting of your strength. But stop! stop! As God is dear to
me, I hear the barking of dogs. That's it. Those are dogs, not wolves.
Then Demiánovka, of which the old minstrel told me, must be near.
Praise be to God in the highest! I had thought not to make a fire on
account of the wolves; for we should have surely gone to sleep, we are
so tired. Yes, they are dogs. Do you hear?"

"Let us go on," said Helena, whose strength returned suddenly.

They had barely come out of the wood when smoke from a number of
cottages appeared at no great distance. They saw also three domes of a
church, covered with fresh shingles, which shone yet in the dusk from
the last gleams of the evening twilight. The barking of dogs seemed
nearer, more distinct each moment.

"Yes, that is Demiánovka; it cannot be another place," said Zagloba.
"They receive minstrels hospitably everywhere; maybe we shall find
supper and lodging, and perhaps good people will take us farther. Wait
a moment! this is one of the prince's villages; there must be an agent
living in it. We will rest and get news. The prince must be already on
the way. Rescue may come sooner than you expect. Remember that you are
a mute. I began at the wrong end when I told you to call me Onufri, for
since you are a mute you cannot call me anything. I shall speak for you
and for myself, and, praise be to God! I can use peasants' speech as
well as Latin. Move on, move on! Now the first cottage is near. My God!
when will our wanderings come to an end? If we could get some warmed
beer, I should praise the Lord God for even that."

Zagloba ceased, and for a time they went on in silence together; then
he began to talk again.

"Remember that you are dumb. When they ask you about anything, point to
me and say, 'Hum, hum, hum! niyá, niyá!' I have seen that you have much
wit, and besides, it is a question of our lives. If we should chance on
a regiment belonging to the hetmans or the prince, then we would tell
who we are at once, especially if the officer is courteous and an
acquaintance of Pan Skshetuski. It is true that you are under the
guardianship of the prince, and you have nothing to fear from soldiers.
Oh! what fires are those bursting out in the glen? Ah, there are
blacksmiths--there is a forge! But I see there is no small number of
people at it. Let us go there."

In the cleft which formed the entrance to the ravine there was a forge,
from the chimney of which bundles and bunches of golden sparks were
thrown out; and through the open doors and numerous chinks in the walls
sparkling light burst forth, intercepted from moment to moment by dark
forms moving around inside. In front of the forge were to be seen in
the evening twilight a number of dark forms standing together in knots.
The hammers in the forge beat in time, till the echo was heard all
about; and the sound was mingled with songs in front of the forge, with
the buzz of conversation and the barking of dogs. Seeing all this,
Zagloba turned immediately into the ravine, touched his lyre, and began
to sing,--

                 "Hei! on the mountain
                  Reapers are seen,
                  Under the mountain,
                  The mountain green,
                  Cossacks are marching on."

Singing thus, he approached the crowd of people standing in front of
the forge. He looked around. They were peasants, for the most part
drunk. Nearly all of them had sticks in their hands; on some of these
sticks were scythes, double-edged and pointed. The blacksmiths in the
forge were occupied specially in the making of these points and the
bending of the scythes.

"Ah, grandfather! grandfather!" they began to call out in the crowd.

"Glory be to God!" said Zagloba.

"For the ages of ages!"

"Tell me, children, is this Demiánovka?"

"Yes, it is Demiánovka. But why do you ask?"

"I ask because men told me on the way," continued the grandfather,
"that good people dwell here, that they will take in the old man, give
him food and drink, let him spend the night, and give him some money. I
am old; I have travelled a long road, and this boy here cannot go a
step farther. He, poor fellow, is dumb; he leads me because I am
sightless. I am a blind unfortunate. God will bless you, kind people.
Saint Nicholas, the wonder-worker, will bless you. Saint Onufri will
bless you. In one eye there is a little of God's light left me; in the
other it is dark forever. So I travel with my lyre. I sing songs, and I
live like the birds on what falls from the hands of kind people."

"And where are you from, grandfather?"

"Oh, from afar, afar! But let me rest, for I see here by the forge a
bench. And sit down, poor creature!" said he, showing the bench to
Helena. "We are from Ladava, good people, and left home long, long ago;
but to-day we come from the festival in Brovarki."

"And have you heard anything good there?" asked an old peasant with a
scythe in his hand.

"We heard, we heard, but whether it is anything good we don't know.
Many people have collected there. They spoke of Hmelnitski,--that he
had conquered the hetman's son and his knights. We heard, too, that the
peasants are rising against the nobles on the Russian bank."

Immediately the crowd surrounded Zagloba, who, sitting by Helena,
struck the strings of the lyre from time to time.

"Then you heard, father, that the people are rising?"

"I did; for wretched is our peasant lot."

"But they say there will be an end to it?"

"In Kieff they found on the altar a letter from Christ, saying there
would be fearful and awful war and much blood-spilling in the whole

The half-circle in front of the bench on which Zagloba sat contracted
still more.

"You say there was a letter?"

"There was, as I am alive. About war and the spilling of blood. But I
cannot speak further, for the throat is dried up within me, poor old

"Here is a measure of gorailka for you, father; and tell us what you
have heard in the world. We know that minstrels go everywhere and know
everything. There have been some among us already. They said that the
black hour would come from Hmelnitski on the lords. We had these
scythes and pikes made for us, so as not to be the last; but we don't
know whether to begin now or to wait for a letter from Hmelnitski."

Zagloba emptied the measure, smacked his lips, thought awhile, and then
said: "Who tells you it is time to begin?"

"We want to begin ourselves."

"Begin! begin!" said numerous voices. "If the Zaporojians have beaten
the lords, then begin!"

The scythes and pikes quivered in strong hands, and gave out an ominous
clatter. Then followed a moment of silence, but the hammers in the
forge continued to beat. The future killers waited for what the old man
would say. He thought and thought; at last he asked,--

"Whose people are you?"

"Prince Yeremi's."

"And whom will you kill?"

The peasants looked at one another.

"Him?" asked the old man.

"We couldn't manage him."

"Oh, you can't manage him, children, you can't manage him! I was in
Lubni, and I saw that prince with my own eyes. He is awful! When he
shouts the trees tremble in the woods, and when he stamps his foot a
ravine is made. The king is afraid of him, the hetmans obey him, and
all are terrified at him. He has more soldiers than the Khan or the
Sultan. Oh, you can't manage him, children, you can't manage him! He is
after you, not you after him. And I know what you don't know yet, that
all the Poles will come to help him; and where there is a Pole, there
is a sabre."

Gloomy silence seized the crowd; the old man struck his lyre again, and
raising his face toward the moon, continued:

"The prince is coming, he is coming, and with him as many beautiful
plumes and banners as there are stars in heaven or thistles on the
steppe. The wind flies before him and groans; and do you know, my
children, why the wind groans? It groans over your fate. Mother Death
flies before him with a scythe, and strikes; and do you know what she
strikes at? She strikes at your necks."

"O Lord, have mercy on us!" said low, terrified voices.

Again nothing was heard but the beating of hammers.

"Who is the prince's agent here?" asked the old man.

"Pan Gdeshinski."

"And where is he?"

"He ran away."

"Why did he run away?"

"He ran away, for he heard that they were making scythes and pikes for
us. He got frightened and ran away."

"So much the worse, for he will tell the prince about you."

"Why do you croak, grandfather, like a raven?" asked an old peasant.
"We believe that the black hour is coming on the lords; and there will
be neither on the Russian nor Tartar bank lords or princes,--only
Cossacks, free people; there will be neither land-rent, nor barrel-tax,
nor mill-tax, nor transport-tax, nor any more Jews, for thus does it
stand in the letter from Christ which you yourself spoke of. And
Hmelnitski is as strong as the prince. Let them go at it!"

"God grant!" said the old man. "Oh, bitter is our peasant lot! It was
different in old times."

"Who owns the land? The prince. Who owns the steppe? The prince. Who
owns the woods? The prince. Who has the cattle? The prince. And in old
times it was God's woods and God's steppe; whoever came first, took it,
and was bound to no man. Now everything belongs to the lords and

"All belongs to you, my children; but I tell you one thing you
yourselves know, that you can't manage the prince here. I tell you
this,--whoever wants to slay lords, let him not stay here till
Hmelnitski has tried his hand on the prince, but let him be off to
Hmelnitski, and right away, to-morrow, for the prince is on the road
already. If Pan Gdeshinski brings him to Demiánovka, the prince won't
leave one of you alive; he will kill the last man of you. Make your way
to Hmelnitski. The more of you there, the easier for Hmelnitski to
succeed. Oh, but he has heavy work before him! The hetmans in front of
him, the armies of the king without number, and then the prince more
powerful than the hetmans. Hurry on, children, to help Hmelnitski and
the Zaporojians; for they, poor men, won't hold out unless you help,
and they are fighting against the lords for your freedom and property.
Hurry! You will save yourselves from the prince and you will help

"He speaks the truth!" cried voices in the crowd.

"He speaks well!"

"A wise grandfather!"

"Did you see the prince on the road?"

"See him I didn't, but I heard in Brovarki that he had left Lubni, that
he is burning and slaying; and where he finds even one pike before him,
he leaves only the sky and the earth behind."

"Lord, have mercy on us!"

"And where are we to look for Hmelnitski?"

"I came here, children, to tell you where to look for Hmelnitski. Go,
my children, to Zólotonosha, then to Trakhtimiroff, and there
Hmelnitski will be waiting for you. There people are collecting from
all the villages, houses, and cottages; the Tartars will come there
too. Go! Unless you do, the prince will not leave you to walk over the

"And you will go with us, father?"

"Walk I will not, for the ground pulls down my old legs. But get ready
a telega, and I will ride with you. Before we come to Zólotonosha I
will go on ahead to see if there are Polish soldiers. If there are, we
will pass by and go straight to Trakhtimiroff. That is a Cossack
country. But now give me something to eat and drink, for I am hungry,
and this lad here is hungry too. We will start off in the morning, and
along the road I will sing to you of Pan Pototski and Prince Yeremi.
Oh, they are terrible lions! There will be great bloodshed in the
Ukraine. The sky is awfully red, and the moon just as if swimming in
blood. Beg, children, for the mercy of God, for no one will walk long
in God's world. I have heard also that vampires rise out of their
graves and howl."

A vague terror seized the crowd of peasants; they began to look around
involuntarily, make the sign of the cross and whisper among themselves.
At last one cried out,--

"To Zólotonosha!"

"To Zólotonosha!" repeated all, as if there in particular were refuge
and safety.

"To Trakhtimiroff!"

"Death to the Poles and lords!"

All at once a young Cossack stepped forward, shook his pike, and cried:
"Fathers, if we go to Zólotonosha to-morrow, we, will go to the
manager's house to-night."

"To the manager's house!" cried a number of voices at once.

"Burn it up! take the goods!"

But the minstrel, who held his head drooping on his breast, raised it
and said,--

"Oh, children, do not go to the manager's house, and do not burn it, or
you will suffer. The prince may be close by, he is going along with his
army; he will see the fire, he will come, and there will be trouble.
Better give me something to eat and show me a place to rest. And do you
keep your peace!"

"He tells the truth!" said a number of voices.

"He tells the truth, and, Maksim, you are a fool!"

"Come, father, to my house for bread and salt and a cup of mead, and
rest on the hay till daylight," said an old peasant, turning to the

Zagloba rose, and pulled the sleeve of Helena's svitka. She was asleep.

"The boy is tired to death; he fell asleep under the very sound of the
hammers," said Zagloba. But in his soul he thought: "Oh, sweet
innocence, thou art able to sleep amidst pikes and knives! It is clear
that angels of heaven are guarding thee, and me in thy company."

He roused her, and they went on toward the village, which lay at some
distance. The night was calm and quiet; the echo of the striking
hammers followed them. The old peasant went ahead to show the way in
the darkness; and Zagloba, pretending to say his prayers, muttered in a

"O God, have mercy on us, sinners--Do you see, Princess--O Holy Most
Pure--what would have happened to us without this peasant disguise?--As
it is on earth, so in heaven--We shall get something to eat, and
to-morrow ride to Zólotonosha instead of going on foot--Amen, amen,
amen!--Bogun may come upon our tracks, for our tracks will not
deceive him; but it will be late, for we shall cross the Dnieper at
Próhorovka--Amen!--May black death choke them, may the hangman light
their way! Do you hear, Princess, how they are howling at the
forge?--Amen!--Terrible times have come on us, but I am a fool if I
don't rescue you even if we have to flee to Warsaw itself."

"What are you muttering there, brother?" asked the peasant.

"Oh, nothing! I am praying for your health. Amen, amen!"

"Here is my cottage."

"Glory be to God!"

"For the ages of ages!"

"I beg you to eat my bread and salt."

"God will reward you."

A little later the minstrel had strengthened himself powerfully with
mutton and a good portion of mead. Next morning early, he moved on with
his attendant lad, in a comfortable telega, toward Zólotonosha,
escorted by a number of mounted peasants armed with pikes and scythes.

They went through Kovraiets, Chernobái, and Krapivna. The wayfarers saw
that everything was seething; the peasants were arming at all points,
the forges were working from morning till night, and only the terrible
name and power of Prince Yeremi still restrained the bloody outburst.
West of the Dnieper the tempest was let loose in all its fury. News of
the defeat at Korsún had spread over all Russia with the speed of
lightning, and every living soul was rushing forth.

                              CHAPTER XXI.

Next morning after the flight of Zagloba, the Cossacks found Bogun half
suffocated in the coat in which Zagloba had wrapped him; but since his
wounds were not serious he returned soon to consciousness. Remembering
everything that had happened, he fell into a rage, roared like a wild
beast, stained his hands with blood from his own wounded head, and
struck at the men with his dagger, so that the Cossacks dared not come
near him. At last, being unable to support himself in the saddle, he
ordered them to bind a Jew cradle between two horses, and sitting in
it, he hurried on as if insane in the direction of Lubni, supposing
that the fugitives had gone thither. Resting on the Jew bed on down,
and in his own blood, he raced over the steppe like a vampire hurrying
back to its grave before daybreak; and after him speeded his trusty
Cossacks, with the thought in mind that they were hurrying to evident
death. They flew on in this way to Vassílyevka, where there was a
garrison of one hundred Hungarian infantry belonging to Prince Yeremi.
The furious leader, as if life had become loathsome to him, fell upon
these without hesitation, rushing first into the fire himself, and
after a struggle of some hours' duration cut the men to pieces, with
the exception of a few whom he spared to gain from them a confession
through torture. Learning that no noble with a maiden had escaped by
that road, and not knowing himself what to do, he tore away his
bandages from excess of pain.

To go farther was impossible; for everywhere toward Lubni were
stationed the forces of the prince, whom the villagers that had run
away during the battle at Vassílyevka must have already informed of the
attack. The faithful Cossacks therefore bore away their ataman weakened
from rage, and took him back to Rozlogi. On their return they found not
a trace of the buildings; for the peasants of the neighborhood had
plundered and burned them, together with Prince Vassily, thinking that
in case the Kurtsevichi or Prince Yeremi should wish to inflict
punishment, the blame could be cast easily on Bogun and his Cossacks.
They had burned every out-house, cut down the cherry-orchard, and
killed all the servants. The peasants had taken unsparing vengeance for
the harsh rule and oppression which they had endured from the

Just beyond Rozlogi, Pleshnyevski, who was carrying tidings of the
defeat at Jóltiya Vodi from Chigirin, fell into the hands of Bogun.
When asked where and for what purpose he was going, he hesitated and
failed to give clear answers; he fell under suspicion, and when burned
with fire, told of the victory of Hmelnitski, and also of Zagloba, whom
he had met the day before. The leader rejoiced, and drew a long breath.
After he had hanged Pleshnyevski, he hurried on, feeling certain that
Zagloba would not escape him. The herdsmen gave some new indications,
but beyond the ford all traces disappeared. The ataman did not meet the
minstrel whom Zagloba had stripped of his clothing, for he had gone
lower down along the Kagamlik, and besides was so frightened that he
had hidden like a fox in the reeds.

A day and a night more passed; and since the pursuit toward Vassílyevka
occupied two days precisely, Zagloba had much time on his side. What
was to be done then? In this difficult juncture the essaul came to
Bogun with advice and assistance. He was an old wolf of the steppe,
accustomed from youth to track Tartars through the Wilderness.

"Father," said he, "they fled to Chigirin,--and they have done wisely,
for they have gained time,--but when they heard of Hmelnitski and
Jóltiya Vodi from Pleshnyevski, they changed their road. You have seen
yourself, father, that they left the high-road and rushed to one side."

"To the steppe?"

"In the steppe I could find them, father; but they went toward the
Dnieper, to go to the hetmans; therefore they went either through
Cherkas or Zólotonosha and Próhorovka; and if they went even to
Pereyasláv, though I don't believe that, still we shall find them.
We should go, one to Cherkasi, another to Zólotonosha, along the
wagon-road; and quickly, for as soon as they cross the Dnieper, they
will hasten to the hetmans, or Hmelnitski's Tartars will pick them up."

"You hurry to Zólotonosha, and I will go to Cherkasi," said Bogun.

"All right, father."

"And keep a sharp lookout, for he is a cunning fox."

"Ai, father! I am cunning too."

Having settled the plan of pursuit in this way, the leader and the
essaul turned immediately,--one to Cherkasi; the other higher up, to
Zólotonosha. In the evening of the same day the old essaul Anton
reached Demiánovka.

The village was deserted; only the women were left, for all the men had
gone beyond the river to Hmelnitski. Seeing armed men and not knowing
who they were, the women had hidden in the thatch and in the barns. The
Cossacks had to search long; but at last they found an old woman, who
feared nothing, not even the Tartars.

"And where are the men, mother?" asked Anton.

"Do I know?" answered she, showing her yellow teeth.

"We are Cossacks, mother, don't be afraid; we are not from the Poles."

"The Poles? May the evil one--"

"You are glad to see us, I suppose?"

"You?" The old woman hesitated a moment. "The plague take you!"

Anton was at a loss what to do, when suddenly the door of one of the
cottages squeaked, and a young, fair-looking woman came out.

"Ai! good men, I heard that you were not Poles."

"True, we are not."

"Are you from Hmelnitski?"


"Not from the Poles?"

"By no means."

"And why do you ask for the men?"

"I ask if they have gone already."

"They have gone."

"Glory be to God! And tell us now, did a noble go by here,--a cursed
Pole with a young woman?"

"A noble? A Pole? I didn't see them."

"Was no one here?"

"There was a 'grandfather.' He persuaded the men to go to Hmelnitski
through Zólotonosha, for he said that Prince Yeremi was coming here."


"Here. And from here would go to Zólotonosha, so the old man said."

"And the old man persuaded the men to rise?"

"He did."

"And he was alone?"

"No, With a dumb boy."

"How did he look?"


"The old man."

"Oh, ai! old, very old. He played on a lyre, and complained of the
lords. But I did not see him."

"And he persuaded the men to rise?" asked Anton.

"He did."

"Well, good-by, young woman."

"God be with you!"

Anton stopped in deep thought. If the old man was Zagloba disguised,
why did he persuade the peasants to go to Hmelnitski, and where did he
get the disguise? Where did he leave the horses, for he fled on
horseback? But, above all, why did he incite peasants to rebellion and
warn them of the coming of the prince? A noble would not have warned
them, and first of all he would have taken refuge under the protection
of the prince. And if the prince is really going to Zólotonosha, in
which there is nothing strange, then he will pay for Vassílyevka
without fail. Here Anton shuddered; for that moment he saw a new picket
in the gate, exactly like an empaling stake.

"No! That old man was only a minstrel and nothing more. There is no
reason to go to Zólotonosha unless they fled that way."

But Zagloba had disappeared. What was to be done further? Wait?--but
the prince might come up. Go to Próhorovka and cross the Dnieper?--that
would be to fall into the hands of the hetmans.

It was growing rather narrow for the old wolf of the Wilderness in the
broad steppes. He felt also that being a wolf he had come upon a fox in
Pan Zagloba. Then he struck his forehead. But why did that
"grandfather" take the people to Zólotonosha, beyond which is
Próhorovka, and beyond that and the Dnieper the hetmans and the whole
camp of the king? Anton determined that come what might, he would go to

"When I am at the river, if I hear that the forces of the hetmans are
on the other side, then I will not cross, I will go along the bank and
join Bogun opposite Cherkasi. Besides, I shall get news of Hmelnitski
along the road."

Anton already knew, from the story of Pleshnyevski, that Hmelnitski had
occupied Chigirin; that he had sent Krívonos against the hetmans, and
was to follow him at once with Tugai Bey. Anton was an experienced
soldier, and knowing the situation of the country well, was sure that
the battle must have been fought already. In such an event it was
necessary to know what was to be done. If Hmelnitski had been beaten,
the forces of the hetmans would spread over the whole country along the
Dnieper in pursuit; in that case there would be no sense in looking for
Zagloba. But if Hmelnitski had won,--which in truth Anton did not
greatly believe,--it was easier to beat the son of the hetman than the
hetman, a van detachment than the whole army.

"Oh," thought the old Cossack, "our ataman would do better to think of
his own skin than of a young girl! Near Chigirin he might have crossed
the Dnieper, and from there slipped off to the Saitch in time. Here
between Prince Yeremi and the hetmans it will be difficult for him to
make his way."

With these thoughts he moved on quickly with the Cossacks in the
direction of the Sula, which he had to cross just beyond Demiánovka,
wishing to go to Próhorovka. They went to Mogilna, situated at the
river itself. Here fortune served Anton; for Mogilna, like Demiánovka,
was deserted. He found, however, scows ready, and ferrymen who took
over peasants fleeing to the Dnieper.

The Trans-Dnieper did not dare to rise under the hand of the prince;
but to make up for this the peasants left all the hamlets, settlements,
and villages, to join Hmelnitski and rally to his banners. The news of
the victory of the Zaporojians at Jóltiya Vodi flew like a bird through
the whole Trans-Dnieper. The wild inhabitants could not remain in
quiet, though there especially they had experienced hardly any
oppression; for, as has been said, the prince, merciless to rebels, was
a real father to peaceful settlers. His overseers on this account
feared to commit injustice on people intrusted to them. But that
people, changed not long before from robbers into agriculturists, were
weary of the harshness of regulations and order. They fled therefore to
where the hope of wild freedom gleamed. In many villages even the women
fled to Hmelnitski. In Chabanovets and Vysoki the whole population
turned out, burning the houses behind them so as to have no place for
return. In those villages in which a few people still remained, they
were forced to arms.

Anton began to inquire at once of the ferrymen for news beyond the
Dnieper. There were reports, but contradictory, confused,
unintelligible. It was said that Hmelnitski was fighting with the
hetmans; some said that he was beaten, others that he was victorious. A
peasant fleeing toward Demiánovka said that the hetmans were taken
captive. The ferrymen suspected that he was a noble in disguise, but
were afraid to detain him because they had heard that the forces of the
prince were at hand. A certain fear increased the number of the
prince's armies everywhere, and made of them omnipresent divisions; for
there was not a single village in the whole Trans-Dnieper in which it
was not said that the prince was "right here, close by." Anton saw that
they considered his party everywhere as belonging to Prince Yeremi.

But soon he set the ferrymen at rest, and began to inquire about the
Demiánovka peasants.

"Oh yes; they passed. We took them to the other side," said a ferryman.

"And there was a minstrel with them?"

"Yes, there was."

"And a dumb boy with the old man,--a lad?"

"Yes; there was."

"What did the minstrel look like?"

"He was not old, heavy, had eyes like a fish, and on one of them a

"Oh, that is he!" muttered Anton, and inquired further: "And the boy?"

"Oh, father ataman," said the ferryman, "an angel, out and out! We have
never seen such a boy."

In the mean while they were coming to the shore.

"Ah, we will bring her to the ataman!" muttered Anton to himself. Then
he turned to the Cossacks: "To horse!"

They shot on like a flock of frightened bustards, though the road was
difficult, for the country was broken into gorges. But they entered a
broad ravine at the bottom of which was a kind of natural path formed
by the flowing of a spring. The ravine extended to Kavraiets. They
rushed on some miles without halting; Anton, on the best horse, ahead.
The broad mouth of the ravine was already visible when Anton suddenly
pulled in his horse till his hind shoes crushed the stones.

"What is this?"

The entrance was suddenly darkened with men and horses. A troop entered
in pairs, and formed six abreast. There were about three hundred
horsemen. Anton looked; and although he was an old soldier hardened to
every danger, his heart thumped within his breast and on his face came
a deathly pallor. He recognized the dragoons of Prince Yeremi.

It was too late to flee. Anton's party was separated from the dragoons
by scarcely two hundred yards, and the tired horses of the Cossacks
could not go far in escape. The dragoons, seeing them, rode up on a
trot. In a moment the Cossacks were surrounded on every side.

"Who are you?" asked the commander, sternly.

"Bogun's men!" answered Anton, seeing that it was necessary to tell the
truth. But recognizing the lieutenant whom he had seen in Pereyasláv,
he cried out at once with pretended joy: "Oh, Pan Kushel! Thank God!"

"Ah! is that you, Anton?" asked the lieutenant, looking at the essaul.
"What are you doing here? Where is your ataman?"

"The Grand Hetman has sent our ataman to the prince to ask for
assistance; so he has gone to Lubni, and he has commanded us to go
along through the villages to catch deserters."

Anton lied as if for hire; but he trusted in this,--since the dragoons
were going away from the Dnieper, they could not know yet of the attack
on Rozlogi, nor of the battle at Vassílyevka, nor of any of Bogun's

Still the lieutenant added: "One might say you wanted to steal over to
the rebellion."

"Oh, Lieutenant, if we wanted to go to Hmelnitski, we should not be on
this side of the Dnieper."

"That," said Kushel,--"is an evident truth which I am not able to
deny. But the ataman will not find the prince in Lubni."

"Where is he?"

"He was in Priluka; but it is possible that he started yesterday for

"Too bad! The ataman has a letter from the hetman to the prince. And
may I make bold to ask if you are coming from Zólotonosha?"

"No; we were stationed at Kalenki, and now we have received orders to
go to Lubni, like the rest of the army. From there the prince will
move, with all his forces. But where are you going?"

"To Próhorovka, for the peasants are crossing there."

"Have many of them fled?"

"Oh, many, many!"

"Well, then, go! God be with you!"

"Thank you kindly, Lieutenant. God conduct you!"

The dragoons opened their ranks, and Anton's escort rode out from among
them to the mouth of the ravine.

After he had issued from the ravine, Anton stopped and listened
carefully; and when the dragoons had vanished from sight, and the last
echo had ceased, he turned to his Cossacks, and said,--

"Do you know, you simpletons, that were it not for me, you would soon
be gasping, empaled on stakes, in Lubni? And now, forward, even if we
drive the last breath out of our horses!"

They rushed on with all speed.

"We are lucky, and doubly so," thought Anton,--"first, in escaping with
sound skins, and then because those dragoons were not marching from
Zólotonosha, and Zagloba missed them; for if he had met them, he would
have been safe from every pursuit."

In truth, fortune was very unfavorable to Zagloba in not letting him
come upon Kushel and his company; for then he would have been rescued
at once, and freed from every fear.

Meanwhile the news of the catastrophe at Korsún came upon Zagloba at
Próhorovka like a thunderbolt. Reports had already been passing through
the villages and farmhouses on the road to Zólotonosha of a great
battle, even of the victory of Hmelnitski; but Zagloba did not lend
them belief, for he knew from experience that every report grows and
grows among the common people to unheard of dimensions, and that
specially of the preponderance of the Cossacks the people willingly
told wonders. But in Próhorovka it was difficult to doubt any longer.
The terrible and ominous truth struck like a club on the head.
Hmelnitski had triumphed, the army of the king was swept away, the
hetmans were in captivity, and the whole Ukraine was on fire.

Zagloba lost his head at first, for he was in a terrible position.
Fortune had not favored him on the road, for at Zólotonosha he did not
find the garrison, and the old fortress was deserted. He doubted not
for a moment that Bogun was pursuing him, and that sooner or later he
would come upon his trail. He had doubled back, it is true, like a
hunted hare; but he knew, through and through, the hound that was
hunting him, and he knew that that hound would not allow himself to be
turned from the trail. Zagloba had Bogun behind, and before him a sea
of peasant rebellion, slaughter, conflagration, Tartar raids, and
raging mobs. To flee in such a position was a task difficult of
accomplishment, especially with a young woman who, though disguised as
a minstrel boy, attracted attention everywhere by her extraordinary
beauty. In truth, it was enough to make a man lose his head.

But Zagloba never lost it long. Amid the greatest chaos in his brain he
saw perfectly one thing, or rather felt it most clearly,--that he
feared Bogun a hundred times more than fire, water, rebellion,
slaughter, or Hmelnitski himself. At the very thought that he might
fall into the hands of the terrible leader, the skin crept on his body.
"He would flay me," repeated he, continually. "But in front is a sea of

One method of salvation remained,--to desert Helena, and leave her to
the will of God; but Zagloba did not wish to do that, and did not let
the thought enter his head. What was he to do?

"Ah," thought he, "it is not the time to look for the prince. Before me
is a sea; I will give a plunge into this sea. At least I shall hide
myself, and with God's aid swim to the other shore." And he determined
to cross to the right bank of the Dnieper.

This was no easy task at Próhorovka. Nikolai Pototski had already
collected for Krechovski and his men all the scows and boats, large and
small, from Pereyasláv to Chigirin. In Próhorovka there was only one
leaky scow. Thousands of people, fleeing from the neighborhood of the
Dnieper, were waiting for that scow. All the cottages, cow-houses,
barns, sheds in the entire village were taken. Everything was
enormously dear. Zagloba was in truth forced to earn a bit of bread
with his lyre and his song. For twenty-four hours there was no passage.
The scow was injured twice, and had to be repaired. Zagloba passed the
night sitting on the bank of the river with Helena, together with
crowds of drunken peasants who were sitting around fires. The night,
too, was windy and cold. The princess was worn out and in pain, for the
peasant boots galled her feet; she was afraid of becoming so ill as to
be unable to move. Her face grew dark and pale, her marvellous eyes
were quenched; every moment she feared that she should be recognized
under her disguise, or that Bogun's men would come up. That same night
she beheld a terrible sight. A number of nobles who had tried to take
refuge in the domains of Vishnyevetski from Tartar attack were brought
from the mouth of the Ros by peasants, and put to death on the bank of
the river.

Besides this, in Próhorovka there were two Jews, with their families.
The maddened crowd hurled them into the river; and when they did not go
to the bottom at once, they were pushed down with long sticks, together
with their wives and children. This was accompanied by uproar and
drunkenness. Tipsy men frolicked with tipsy women. Terrible outbursts
of laughter sounded ominously on the dark shores of the Dnieper. The
winds scattered the fire; red brands, and sparks driven by the wind,
flew along, and died on the waves. Occasionally alarm sprang up. At one
time and another a drunken, hoarse voice would cry in the darkness,
"Save yourselves! Yeremi is coming!" And the crowd rushed blindly to
the shore, trampled on one another, and pushed one another into the
water. Once they came near running over Zagloba and the princess. It
was an infernal night, and seemed endless. Zagloba begged a quart of
vudka, drank himself, and forced the princess to drink; otherwise she
would have fainted or caught a fever. At last the waves of the Dnieper
began to whiten and shine. Light had come. The day was cloudy, gloomy,
pale. Zagloba wished to cross, with all haste, to the other side.
Happily the scow was repaired, but the throng in front of it was

"A place for the grandfather, a place for the grandfather!" cried
Zagloba, holding Helena between his outstretched arms, and defending
her from the pressure. "A place for the grandfather! I am going to
Hmelnitski and Krívonos. A place for the grandfather, good people! My
dear fellows, may the black death choke you and your children! I cannot
see well; I shall fall into the water; my boy will be drowned. Give
way, children! May the paralysis shake every limb of you; may you die
on the stake!"

Thus brawling, begging, pushing the crowd apart with powerful arms, he
urged Helena forward to the scow, clambered on himself, and then began
to brawl again,--

"There are plenty of you here already. Why do you crowd so? You will
sink the scow. Why do so many of you push on here? Enough, enough! Your
turn will come; and if it doesn't, small matter!"

"Enough, enough!" cried those who had got on the scow. "Push off, push

The oars bent, and the scow began to move from the shore. A swift
current bore it downward at once, somewhat in the direction of

They had passed about one half the stream, when on the Próhorovka side
shouts and cries were heard. A terrible disturbance rose among the
people near the river. Some ran as if wild toward Domontov; others
jumped into the water. Some shouted and waved their hands, or threw
themselves on the ground.

"What is that? What has happened?" was asked on the scow.

"Yeremi!" cried one voice.

"Yeremi, Yeremi! Let us flee," cried others.

The oars began to beat feverishly on the water; the scow sped on
through the waves like a Cossack boat. At the same moment horsemen
appeared on the Próhorovka shore.

"The armies of Yeremi!" shouted some on the boat.

The horsemen rode along the shore, turned, asked the people about
something. At last they began to call out to the boatmen: "Stop, stop!"

Zagloba looked, and cold sweat covered him from head to foot. He
recognized Bogun's Cossacks. It was, in fact, Anton with his men.

But, as already stated, Zagloba never lost his head long. He covered
his eyes like a man of poor sight, looking; he must have looked a good
while. At last he began to cry, as if some one were pulling him out of
his skin,--

"Oh, children, those are the Cossacks of Vishnyevetski! Oh, for the
sake of God and his Holy Purest Mother, quick, to the shore! We will
resign ourselves to the loss of those who are left, and break the scow;
if not, death to us all!"

"Oh, hurry, hurry! break the scow!" cried others.

A shouting was raised, in which nothing could be heard of the cries
from the Próhorovka side. Then the scow grated upon the gravel of the
shore. The peasants began to spring out; but some of them were not able
to land before others were breaking the railing and cutting the bottom
with their axes. The planks and broken pieces began to fly through the
air. The ill-fated boat was destroyed with frenzy, torn to pieces;
terror lent strength to the raging people.

And all this time Zagloba was screaming: "Cut! slash! break! tear!
burn! Save yourselves! Yeremi is coming! Yeremi is coming!"

Shouting in this fashion, he looked with his sound eye at Helena and
began to mutter significantly.

Meanwhile from the other shore the shouts increased in view of the
destruction of the boat, but it was so far away they could not
understand what was said. The waving of hands seemed like threatening,
and only increased the speed of destruction.

The scow disappeared after a while, but suddenly from every breast
there came a cry of horror.

"They are springing into the water! they are swimming to us!" roared
the peasants.

In fact, one horseman in advance and after him a number of others urged
their horses into the water to swim to the other shore. It was a deed
of almost insane daring; for increased by the spring flood, the river
rushed on more powerfully than usual, forming here and there many
eddies and whirlpools. Borne away by the impetus of the river, the
horses could not swim straight across; the current began to bear them
on with extraordinary swiftness.

"They will not swim across!" cried the peasants.

"They are drowning!"

"Glory be to God! Oh! oh! one horse has gone down already! Death to

The horses had swum a third part of the river, but the water bore them
down with increasing speed. Evidently they began to lose strength;
gradually too they sank deeper and deeper. After a little the men on
their backs were in the water to their girdles. The peasants from
Shelepukhi ran to the water to see what was going on; now only the
horses' heads looked out above the water, which reached the breasts of
the men. But now they had swum half the river. Suddenly one horse's
head and one man disappeared under the water; after that a second, a
third, a fourth, a fifth,--the number of swimmers decreased each
moment. On both sides of the river a deep silence reigned in the
crowds, but all ran with the course of the water to see what would
happen. Now two thirds of the river was crossed; the number of swimmers
still decreased, but the heavy snorting of horses and the voices of the
heroes urging them on was heard; it was clear that some would cross.

"Hi, children! to your muskets! Destruction to the prince's men!"

Puffs of smoke burst forth; then the rattle of muskets. A cry of
despair was heard from the river, and after a while horses and men had
vanished. The river was cleared; only here and there in the distance,
in the whirl of the waves, looked black for an instant the belly of a
horse, gleamed red for a moment the cap of a Cossack.

Zagloba looked at Helena, and muttered.

                             CHAPTER XXII.

Prince Vishnyevetski knew of the defeat at Korsún before Skshetuski had
been found sitting on the ruins of Rozlogi, since Polyanovski, one of
his hussar officers, had brought news of it to Segotin. Previous to
that the prince had been in Priluka, and from there had sent Boguslav
Mashkevich with a letter to the hetmans, inquiring when they would
order him to march with all his forces. But as Pan Mashkevich did not
return for a long time with the answer of the hetmans, the prince moved
on toward Pereyasláv, sending orders on every side to the detachments
that the regiments which were scattered here and there in the
Trans-Dnieper should assemble as quickly as possible at Lubni.

But news came that some Cossack regiments disposed in outposts along
the borders next the Tartars had dispersed or joined the insurrection.
Thus the prince saw his forces suddenly decreased, and was grieved not
a little; for he did not expect that those men whom he had led so often
to victory could ever desert him. However, upon meeting with Pan
Polyanovski and receiving news of the unexampled catastrophe, he
concealed it from the army and went on toward the Dnieper, thinking to
march at random into the midst of the storm and uprising, and either
revenge the defeat, wipe away the disgrace of the armies, or shed his
own blood. He judged that there must be some, and perhaps large,
portions of the army of the Crown left after the defeat. These, if
joined to his division of six thousand, might measure themselves with
Hmelnitski with hope of victory.

Halting at Pereyasláv, he ordered Pan Volodyovski and Pan Kushel to
send their dragoons in every direction,--to Cherkasi, Mantovo,
Sekirnaya, Buchach, Staiki, Trakhtimiroff, and Rjischeff,--to collect
all the boats and craft which they could find anywhere. Then the army
was to cross from the left side to Rjischeff.

The messengers heard of the defeat from fugitives whom they met here
and there; but at all the above-mentioned places they could not find a
single boat, since, as already stated, the Grand Hetman of the Crown
had taken one half of them long before for Krechovski and Barabash, and
the rebellious mob on the right bank had destroyed the rest through
fear of the prince. But Volodyovski crossed over with ten men to the
right bank on a raft which he had fashioned in haste from tree-trunks,
and seized a number of Cossacks, whom he brought to the prince, who
learned from them of the enormous extent of the rebellion and the
terrible fruits of the defeat at Korsún. The whole Ukraine had risen to
the last man. The insurrection had spread like a deluge, which covering
a level land occupies more and more space at each twinkle of an eye.
The nobles defended themselves in large and small castles; but many of
these castles had been already captured.

Hmelnitski was increasing in power every moment. The captured Cossacks
gave the number of his army at two hundred thousand men, and in a
couple of days it might be doubled. For this reason he remained in
Korsún after the battle, and took immediate advantage of the peace to
marshal the people into his countless hosts. He divided the mob into
regiments, appointed colonels from the atamans and experienced
Zaporojian essauls, and sent detachments or whole divisions to capture
neighboring castles. Considering all this. Prince Yeremi saw that on
account of the absence of boats the construction of which for an army
of six thousand men would occupy several weeks' time, and on account of
the strength of the enemy which had increased beyond measure, there was
no means of crossing the Dnieper in those parts in which he then found
himself. Pan Polyanovski, Colonel Baranovski, the commander of the
camp, Alexander Baranovski, Volodyovski, and Vurtsel were in favor of
moving to the north toward Chernigoff, which was on the other side of
dense forests, thence they would march on Lubech, and cross the river
to Braginoff. It was a long and perilous journey; for beyond the
Chernigoff forests, in the direction of Braginoff, were enormous
swamps, which were not easy of passage even for infantry, and what must
they be for heavy cavalry-wagons and artillery. The proposal, however,
pleased the prince; but he wished, before going on that long and as he
considered unavoidable road, to show himself once more in his
Trans-Dnieper domains, prevent immediate outbreak, gather the nobles
under his wing, transfix the people with terror, and leave behind
the memory of that terror, which in the absence of the master would be
the only safeguard to the country and the guardian of all who were
unable to march with the army. Besides this, Princess Griselda, the
Princesses Zbaraskie, the ladies in waiting, the whole court, and some
regiments,--namely, the infantry,--were still in Lubni. The prince
therefore determined to go to Lubni for a last farewell.

The troops moved that very day, and at their head Pan Volodyovski with
his dragoons, who, though all Russian without exception, still held by
the bonds of discipline and trained as regular soldiers, almost
surpassed in loyalty the other regiments. The country was quiet yet.
Here and there had been formed ruffianly bands which plundered castle
and cottage alike. These bands the prince destroyed in great part along
the road and empaled on stakes. The common people had risen in no
place. Their minds were seething, fire was in the eyes and souls of the
peasants, they armed in secret and fled beyond the Dnieper; but fear
was still superior to the thirst for blood and murder. It might be
considered of ill-omen for the future, however, that the inhabitants of
those villages from which the peasants had not gone to Hmelnitski fled
at the approach of the army, as if fearing that the terrible prince
would read in their faces that which was hidden in their hearts and
would punish them in advance. And he did punish wherever he found the
least sign of incipient rebellion; and as he had a nature unbounded
both in rewarding and punishing, he punished without measure and
without mercy. It might have been said at that time that two vampires
were careering along both banks of the Dnieper,--one, Hmelnitski,
devouring nobles; the other, Prince Yeremi, destroying the uprisen
people. It was whispered among the peasants that when these two met the
sun would be darkened and the water in all rivers run red. But the
meeting was not at hand; for Hmelnitski, the conqueror at Jóltiya Vodi
and Korsún,--that Hmelnitski who had battered into fragments the armies
of the Crown, who had taken captive the hetmans, and who was then at
the head of hundreds of thousands of warriors,--simply feared that lord
of Lubni, who was going to look for him west of the Dnieper. The armies
of the prince had passed Sleporod. The prince himself stopped to rest
at Philipovo, where he was informed that envoys had come from
Hmelnitski with a letter and begged for an audience. The prince gave
orders to produce them at once. Then the six Zaporojians entered the
house of the under-starosta where the prince was stopping. They entered
boldly enough, especially the chief of them, the ataman Sukhaya Ruká,
distinguished through the victory of Korsún and his new rank of
colonel. But when they saw the prince such fear seized them that they
fell at his feet, not daring to utter a word.

The chieftain, surrounded by his principal knights, ordered them to
rise, and asked what they had brought.

"A letter from the hetman," answered Sukhaya Ruká.

The prince fixed his eyes on the Cossack, and answered quietly, but
with emphasis on every word,--

"From a bandit, a ruffian, and a robber,--not from a hetman!"

The Zaporojians grew pale, or blue rather, and dropping their heads on
their breasts stood in silence at the door. Then the prince ordered Pan
Mashkevich to take the letter and read it.

The letter was humble, though it was after Korsún. The fox had gained
the upper hand of the lion in Hmelnitski, the serpent of the eagle, for
he remembered that he was writing to Vishnyevetski. He flattered in
order to quiet, and then the more easily to sting. He wrote that what
had happened was through the fault of Chaplinski, and that the
fickleness of fortune had met the hetmans; hence it was not his fault,
but their evil fate and the oppressions which the Cossacks had endured
in the Ukraine. Still he asked the prince not to be offended, to pardon
him, and he would ever remain his obedient and willing servant; and to
win favor for his envoys and save them from anger, he declared that he
had dismissed in safety Pan Skshetuski, the hussar officer taken in the

Now followed complaints against the haughtiness of Skshetuski, who had
refused to take letters from Hmelnitski to the prince, by which action
he had put a great slight upon the dignity of the hetman and the whole
Zaporojian army. To haughtiness and contempt like this which the
Cossacks met with from the Poles at every step, did Hmelnitski
attribute specially all that had happened from Jóltiya Vodi to Korsún.
The letter ended with assurances of regret, and of loyalty to the
Commonwealth, together with offers of service to Yeremi.

The envoys themselves were astonished when they heard this letter; for
they had no previous knowledge of its contents, and supposed that it
contained abase and harsh challenges rather than requests. One thing
was clear to them,--Hmelnitski had no wish to risk everything with such
a famous leader, and instead of moving on him with all his forces, was
delaying and deceiving him with humility, and waiting apparently till
the forces of the prince should be worn out on campaigns and struggles
with various detachments; in one word, he seemed to fear the prince.
The envoys became still more subservient, and during the reading
perused the prince's face carefully to see if they could find in it the
hour of their death. Though in coming they were prepared to die, still
fear seized them then. The prince listened quietly, but from time to
time dropped the lids of his eyes as if wishing to restrain the
thunderbolts hidden within, and it was as visible as if on the palm of
the hand that he was holding terrible anger in check. When the letter
was finished he answered no word to the envoys, but merely ordered
Volodyovski to remove and keep them under guard; then he turned to the
colonels himself and said,--

"Great is the cunning of this enemy, for he wishes to lull me with that
letter so as to attack me asleep; or he will move into the heart of the
Commonwealth, conclude terms, and receive immunity from the yielding
estates and the king, and then he will feel himself safe,--for if I
wanted to war with him after that, not he, but I should act against the
will of the Commonwealth, and be held as a rebel."

Vurtsel caught himself by the head. "Oh, vulpes astuta!"

"Well, gentlemen, what action do you advise?" asked the prince. "Speak
boldly, and then I will indicate to you my own will."

Old Zatsvilikhovski, who had left Chigirin some time before and joined
the prince, said,--

"Let it be according to the will of your Highness; but if we are
permitted to speak, then I will say that you have sounded the
intentions of Hmelnitski with your usual quickness, for they are what
you say and no other. I should think, therefore, that there is no need
of paying attention to his letter, but after securing the future safety
of the princess, to cross the Dnieper and begin war before Hmelnitski
settles any conditions. It would be a shame and dishonor for the
Commonwealth to suffer such insults to pass unpunished. But," here he
turned to the colonels, "I wait your opinions, not giving my own as

The commander of the camp, Alexander Zamoiski, struck his sabre and

"Worthy colonel, age speaks through you, and wisdom also. We must tear
off the head of that hydra before it grows and devours us."

"Amen!" said the priest Mukhovetski.

Other colonels, instead of speaking, followed the example of the
commander, shook their sabres, breathed hard, and gritted their teeth;
but Vurtsel said,--

"It is a downright insult to the name of your Highness that that
ruffian should dare to write to you. A koshevoi ataman has rank
confirmed and recognized by the Commonwealth, with which the kuren
atamans can cloak their action. But this is a pretended hetman, who can
be considered in no light but that of a robber; and Pan Skshetuski
acted in a praiseworthy manner when he refused to take his letters to
your Highness."

"That is just what I think," said the prince; "and since I cannot reach
him, he will be punished in the persons of his envoys." Then he turned
to the colonel of the Tartar regiment of his guard: "Vershul, order
your Tartars to behead those Cossacks; and for their chief let a stake
be trimmed, and seat him on it without delay."

Vershul inclined his head, which was red as a flame. The priest
Mukhovetski, who usually restrained the prince, crossed his hands as if
in prayer, and looked imploringly into his eyes, wishing to find mercy.

"I know, priest, what you want," said the prince, "but it cannot be.
This is necessary on account of the cruelties which they have committed
west of the Dnieper, for our own dignity, and for the good of the
Commonwealth. It must be shown convincingly that there is some one yet
who is not afraid of that outcast, and treats him as a bandit,--who,
though he writes with submission, acts with insolence, and conducts
himself in the Ukraine as if he were an independent prince, and has
brought such a paroxysm on the Commonwealth as it has not gone through
for many a day."

"Your Highness, as he states, he liberated Pan Skshetuski unharmed,"
said the priest, timidly.

"I thank you in Skshetuski's name for comparing him with butchers."
Here the prince frowned. "But enough! I see," continued he, turning to
the colonels, "that your voices are all for war; this too is my will.
We march on Chigirin, collecting nobles by the way. We will cross at
Bragin, then move to the south. Now to Lubni!"

"God be on our side!" said the colonels.

At this moment the door opened, and in it appeared Roztvorovski,
lieutenant of the Wallachian regiment, sent two days before with three
hundred horse on a reconnoissance.

"Your Highness," cried he, "the rebellion is spreading. Rozlogi is
burned. The garrison at Vassflyevka is cut to pieces!"

"How? what? where?" was asked on every side.

But the prince motioned with his hand to be silent, and asked: "Who did
it,--marauders or troops?"

"They say Bogun did it."



"When did it happen?"

"Three days ago."

"Did you follow the trace, catch up with them, seize informants?"

"I followed, but could not come up, for I was three days too late. I
collected news along the road. They returned to Chigirin, then
separated,--one half going to Cherkasi, the other to Zölotonosha and

Here Pan Kushel said: "I met the detachment that was going to
Próhorovka, and informed your Highness. They said they were sent by
Bogun to prevent peasants from crossing the Dnieper; therefore I let
them pass."

"You committed a folly, but I do not, blame you. It is difficult not to
be deceived when there is treason at every step, and the ground under
one's feet is burning," said the prince.

Suddenly he seized himself by the head. "Almighty God!" cried he, "I
remember that Skshetuski told me Bogun was making attempts on the honor
of Kurtsevichovna; I understand now why Rozlogi was burned. The girl
must have been carried away. Here, Volodyovski!" said the prince, "take
five hundred horse and move on again to Cherkasi; let Bykhovets take
five hundred Wallachians and go through Zólotonosha to Próhorovka.
Don't spare the horses; whoever rescues the girl for me will have
Yeremiovka for life. On! on!" Then to the colonels: "And we will go to
Lubni through Rozlogi."

Thereupon the colonels hurried out of the under-starosta's house and
galloped to their regiments. Soldiers rushed to their horses. They
brought to the prince the chestnut steed which he usually rode on his
expeditions. And soon the regiments moved, and stretched out like a
long and many-colored gleaming serpent over the Philipovo road.

Near the gate a bloody sight struck the eyes of the soldiers. On stakes
of the hurdle-fence were to be seen the severed heads of the five
Cossacks, which gazed on the army marching past with the dead whites of
their open eyes; and some distance beyond the gate, on a green mound
struggled and quivered the ataman Sukhaya Ruká, sitting upright,
empaled on a stake. The point had already passed through half his body;
but long hours of dying were indicated yet for the unfortunate ataman,
for he might quiver there till night before death would put him to
rest. At that time he was not only living, but he turned his terrible
eyes on the regiments as each one of them passed by,--eyes which said:
"May God punish you, and your children, and your grandchildren to the
tenth generation, for the blood, for the wounds, for the torments! God
grant that you perish, you and your race; that every misfortune may
strike you! God grant that you be continually dying, and that you may
never be able either to die or to live!" And although he was a simple
Cossack,--although he died not in purple nor cloth of gold but in a
common blue coat, and not in the chamber of a castle but under the
naked sky on a stake,--still that torment of his, that death circling
above his head, clothed him with dignity, and put such a power into his
look, such an ocean of hate into his eyes, that all understood well
what he wanted to say, and the regiments rode past in silence. But he
in the golden gleam of the midday towered above them, shining on the
freshly smoothed stake like a torch.

The prince rode by, not turning an eye; the priest Mukhovetski made the
sign of the cross on the unfortunate man; and all had passed, when a
youth from the hussar regiment, without asking any one for permission,
urged his horse to the mound, and putting a pistol to the ear of the
victim, ended his torments with a shot. All trembled at such daring
infraction of military rules, and knowing the rigor of the prince, they
looked on the youth as lost; but the prince said nothing. Whether he
pretended not to hear or was buried in thought, it is sufficient that
he rode on in silence, and only in the evening did he order the young
man to be called.

The stripling stood before the face of his lord barely alive, and
thought that the ground was opening under his feet. But the prince

"What is your name?"


"You fired at the Cossack?"

"I did," groaned he, pale as a sheet.

"Why did you do it?"

"Because I could not look at the torment."

"Oh, you will see so much of their deeds that at a sight like this pity
will fly from you like an angel; but because on account of your pity
you risked your life, the treasurer in Lubni will pay you ten golden
ducats, and I take you into my personal service."

All wondered that the affair was finished in this way; but meanwhile it
was announced that a detachment from Zólotonosha had come, and
attention was turned in another direction.

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

Late in the evening the army arrived in Rozlogi by moonlight. There
they found Pan Yan sitting on his Calvary. The knight, as is known, had
lost his senses altogether from pain and torment; and when the priest
Mukhovetski brought him to his mind, the officers bore him away and
began to greet and comfort him, especially Pan Longin Podbipienta, who
for three months past had been a popular officer in Skshetuski's
regiment. Pan Longin was ready also to be his companion in sighing and
weeping, and for his benefit made a new vow at once, that he would fast
every Tuesday of his life, if God would in any way send solace to the

Skshetuski was conducted straightway to Vishnyevetski at a peasant's
cottage. When the prince saw his favorite he said not a word; he only
opened his arms to him and waited. Skshetuski threw himself into those
arms with loud weeping. Yeremi pressed him to his bosom and kissed him
on the forehead, and the officers present saw the tears in his worthy
eyes. After a while he began to speak,--

"I greet you as a son, for I thought I should never see you again. Bear
your burden manfully, and remember that you will have thousands of
comrades in misfortune who will leave wives, children, parents, and
friends; and as a drop of water is lost in an ocean, so let your
suffering sink in the sea of universal pain. When such terrible times
have come on our dear country, whoever is a man and has a sword at his
side will not yield himself to weeping over his own loss, but will
hasten to the rescue of the common mother, and either find relief in
his conscience or lie down in a glorious death, receive a heavenly
crown, and with it eternal happiness."

"Amen!" said the priest Mukhovetski.

"Oh, I should rather see her dead!" groaned the knight.

"Weep, then, for great is your loss, and we will weep with you; for you
have come not to Pagans, wild Scythians, or Tartars, but to brothers
and loving comrades. Say to yourself, 'To-day I will weep over myself,
but to-morrow is not mine;' for remember that to-morrow we march to

"I will go with you to the end of the world; but I cannot console
myself. It is so grievous for me without her that I cannot, I cannot--"

The poor fellow seized himself by the head, then put his fingers
between his teeth, and gnawed them to overcome the groans, for a storm
of despair was tearing him afresh.

"You have said, 'Thy will be done!'" said the priest, severely.

"Amen, amen! I yield to his will, but with pain. I cannot help it,"
answered the knight, with a broken voice.

They could see how he struggled and writhed, and his suffering wrung
tears from them all. The most sensitive were Volodyovski and
Podbipienta, who poured out whole streams. The latter clasped his hands
and said pitifully:

"Brother, dear brother, contain yourself!"

"Listen!" said the prince on a sudden, "I have news that Bogun rushed
off from here toward Lubni, for he cut down my men at Vassílyevka. Do
not despair too soon, for perhaps he did not find her; if he did, why
should he rush on toward Lubni?"

"As true as life, that may be the case," cried some of the officers.
"God will console you."

Skshetuski opened his eyes as if he did not understand what they were
saying. Suddenly hope gleamed in his mind, and he threw himself at the
feet of the prince.

"Oh, your Highness!" cried he, "my life, my blood--"

He could speak no further. He had grown so weak that Pan Longin was
obliged to raise him and place him on the bench; but it was evident
from his looks that he had grasped at that hope as a drowning man at a
plank, and that his pain had left him. The officers fanned that spark,
saying he might find the princess in Lubni. Afterward they took him to
another cottage, and then brought him mead and wine. He wished to
drink, but could not, his throat was so straitened. His faithful
comrades drank instead; and when they had grown gladsome they began to
embrace and kiss him, and to wonder at his meagreness and the marks of
sickness which he bore on his face.

"Oh, you look like one risen from the dead," said portly Pan Dzik.

"It must be they insulted you in the Saitch, and gave you neither food
nor drink."

"Tell us what happened to you."

"I will tell you some time," said Skshetuski, with a weak voice. "They
wounded me, and I was sick."

"They wounded him!" cried Pan Dzik.

"They wounded him, though an envoy!" added Pan Sleshinski. The
officers, astounded at Cossack insolence, looked at one another, and
then began to press forward to Pan Yan with great friendliness.

"And did you see Hmelnitski?"

"I did."

"Well, give him here!" said Migurski; "we will make mince-meat of him
in a minute."

The night passed in such conversation. Toward morning it was announced
that the second party, despatched on the more distant road to Cherkasi,
had returned. It was evident the men of this party had not come up with
Bogun; they had brought wonderful news, however. They brought many
people whom they had found on the road, and who had seen Bogun two days
before. These people said that the chief was evidently pursuing some
one, for he inquired everywhere if a fat noble had not been seen
fleeing with a young Cossack. Besides, he was in a terrible hurry, and
flew at breakneck speed. The people also affirmed that they had not
seen Bogun taking away a young woman, and they would have seen her
without fail if she had been with him, for only a few Cossacks were
following the chief.

New consolation, but also new anxiety, entered the heart of Pan Yan,
for these stories were simply beyond his comprehension. He did not
understand why Bogun, pursuing first in the direction of Lubni, threw
himself on the garrison at Vassílyevka, and then returned suddenly in
the direction of Cherkasi. That he had not carried off Helena appeared
to be certain, for Pan Kushel had met Anton's party, and she was not
with them. The people now brought from the direction of Cherkasi had
not seen her with Bogun. Where could she be then? Where was she hiding?
Had she escaped? If so, in what direction? Why should she not escape to
Lubni, instead of Cherkasi or Zólotonosha? Still Bogun's parties were
pursuing and hunting somebody around Cherkasi and Próhorovka. But why
were they inquiring about a noble with a young Cossack? To all these
questions the lieutenant found no answer.

"Put your heads together, talk the matter over, explain what this
means," said he to the officers, "for my head is unequal to the task."

"I think she must be in Lubni," said Pan Migurski.

"Impossible!" rejoined Zatsvilikhovski; "for if she were in Lubni then
Bogun would hurry to Chigirin, and would not expose himself to the
hetmans, of whose defeat he could not have known at that time. If he
divided his Cossacks and pursued in two directions, I tell you that he
was pursuing no one but her."

"And why did he inquire for an old noble and a young Cossack?"

"No great sagacity is needed to guess that. If she fled, she was not in
woman's dress, but surely in disguise, so as not to be discovered. It
is my opinion, then, that that Cossack is she."

"Sure as life, sure as life!" repeated the others.

"Well, but who is the noble?"

"I don't know that," replied the old man, "but we can ask about it. The
peasants must have seen who was here and what happened. Let's have the
man of this cottage brought in."

The officers hurried, and brought by the shoulder a "sub-neighbor" from
the cow-house.

"Well, fellow," said Zatsvilikhovski, "were you here when the Cossacks
with Bogun attacked the castle?"

The peasant, as was customary, began to swear that he had not been
present, that he had not seen anything, did not know anything. But
Zatsvilikhovski knew with whom he had to deal; therefore he said,--

"Oh, I know, you son of a Pagan, that you were right here when they
plundered the place. Lie to some one else. Here is a gold ducat for
you, and there is a soldier with a sword. Take your choice. Besides, if
you do not tell, we will burn the village, and harm will come to poor
people through you."

Then the "sub-neighbor" began to tell of what he had seen. When the
Cossacks fell to revelling on the square before the house, he went with
others to see what was going on. They heard that the old princess and
her sons were killed, but that Nikolai had wounded the ataman, who lay
as if lifeless. What happened to the young woman they could not
discover; but at daybreak next morning they heard that she had escaped
with a noble who had come with Bogun.

"That's it! that's it!" said Zatsvilikhovski. "Here is your gold ducat.
You see that no harm has come to you. And did you or any one in the
neighborhood see that noble?"

"I saw him; but he was not from this place."

"What did he look like?"

"He was as big as a stove, with a gray beard, and swore like a
minstrel; blind of one eye."

"Oh, for God's sake!" said Pan Longin, "that must be Pan Zagloba."

"Zagloba, who else!"

"Zagloba? Wait!--Zagloba?--maybe it is. He kept company with Bogun in
Chigirin,--drank and played dice with him. Maybe it is he. The
description fits him."

Here Zatsvilikhovski turned again to the peasant.

"And that noble fled with the young lady?"

"Yes; so we heard."

"Do you know Bogun well?"

"Oh, very well! He used to be here for months at a time."

"But maybe that noble took her away for Bogun?"

"No; how could he do that? He bound Bogun,--tied him up with his
coat,--then, they say, carried off the young lady as far as the eye of
people could see. The ataman howled like a werewolf, and before
daylight had himself bound between horses, and rushed off toward Lubni,
but did not find them; then he rushed in another direction."

"Praise be to God!" said Migurski; "she may be in Lubni. That he
hurried in the direction of Cherkasi is nothing; not finding her in one
place, he tried in another."

Pan Yan was already on his knees, praying fervently.

"Well, well," said the old standard-bearer, "I did not think there was
such mettle in Zagloba that he would dare to attack such a hero as
Bogun. True, he was very friendly to Skshetuski for the triple mead of
Lubni which we drank in Chigirin, He mentioned it to me more than once,
and called him a distinguished cavalier. Well, well, this cannot find a
place yet in my head, for he drank up no small amount of Bogun's money.
But that he should bind Bogun and carry off the lady! I did not expect
such a daring deed from him, for I held him a squabbler and a coward.
Cunning he is, but a tremendous exaggerator; and all the bravery of
such people is generally on their lips."

"Let him be as he likes; it is enough that he has snatched the princess
from the hands of robbers," said Volodyovski. "And since, as is
evident, he has no lack of stratagems, he has surely fled with her in
such fashion as to be safe from the enemy himself."

"His own life depended on that," said Migurski.

Then they turned to Pan Yan and said: "Comfort yourself, dear comrade;
we shall all be your best men yet!"

"And drink at the wedding."

Zatsvilikhovski added: "If he fled beyond the Dnieper and heard of the
defeat at Korsún, he was obliged to return to Chernigoff, and in that
case we shall come up to him on the road."

"Here is to the happy conclusion of all the troubles and sufferings of
our friend!" called out Sleshinski.

They began to raise their glasses to the health of Pan Yan, the
princess, their future descendants, and Zagloba. Thus passed the night.
At daybreak the march was sounded, and the forces moved for Lubni.

The journey was made quickly, for the troops of the prince went without
a train. Pan Yan wished to gallop ahead with the Tartar regiment, but
was too weak. Besides, Prince Yeremi kept him near his own person, for
he wished to hear the account of his mission to the Saitch. The knight
was obliged, therefore, to give an account of how he had travelled, how
they attacked him at Hortitsa and dragged him into the Saitch, but was
silent concerning his disputes with Hmelnitski, lest it might seem that
he was praising himself. The prince was affected most by the news that
old Grodzitski had no powder, and therefore could not defend himself

"That is an unspeakable loss," said he, "for that fortress might cause
great damage and hindrance to the rebellion. Grodzitski is a famous
man, really a _decus et præsidium_ to the Commonwealth. Why did he not
send to me for powder? I should have given it to him from the cellars
of Lubni."

"He thought evidently that by virtue of his office the Grand Hetman
should think of that," said Pan Yan.

"I can believe it," added the prince, and was silent.

After a while, however, he continued: "The Grand Hetman is an old and
experienced soldier, but he had too much self-confidence, and thereby
has ruined himself; he underestimated the whole rebellion, and when I
hurried to him with assistance he did not look at me at all agreeably.
He did not wish to divide the glory with any one, feared the victory
would be attributed to me."

"That is my opinion too," said Skshetuski, gravely.

"He thought to pacify the Zaporojians with clubs. God has punished the
insolence. This Commonwealth is perishing through that same kind of
pride, which is hateful to God, and of which perhaps no one is free."

The prince was right; and in truth he was not himself without blame,
for it was not so long since, in his dispute over Gadyach with Pan
Alexander Konyetspolski, the prince entered Warsaw with four thousand
men, whom he ordered, in case he should be pressed to take the oath in
the Senate, to break into the Chamber and fall upon them all; and he
did this through nothing else but insolent pride, which would not allow
him to be brought to oath instead of giving his word. Maybe he
remembered this affair at that moment; for he fell to thinking, and
rode on in silence, his eyes wandering over the broad steppes which lay
on both sides of the road. Perhaps he thought of the fate of that
Commonwealth which he loved with all the power of his ardent spirit,
and to which the day of wrath and calamity seemed approaching.

After midday the swelling cupolas of Lubni churches and the glittering
roof and pointed towers of St. Michael appeared from the lofty bank of
the Sula. The army marched without hurry, and entered before evening.

The prince went immediately to the castle, where, in accordance with
orders sent in advance, everything had been made ready for the road.
The regiments were disposed for the night in the town,--which was no
easy matter, for there was a great concourse of people in the place.
Roused by reports of the progress of civil war on the right bank and of
ferment among the peasants, all the nobles east of the Dnieper had
crowded to Lubni. They had come even from distant settlements, with
their wives, children, servants, horses, camels, and whole herds of
cattle. There had come also the prince's agents, under-starostas and
all kinds of officials from among the nobles, tenants, Jews; in a word,
all against whom the rebellion might turn sharp knives. You would have
said that some great annual fair was going on at Lubni; for there were
not wanting even merchants of Moscow and Astrakhan Tartars, who, coming
to the Ukraine with goods, halted there in view of war. On the square
stood thousands of wagons of the most varied forms,--some with
willow-bound wheels, others having wheels without spokes, cut out of
one piece of wood,--Cossack telegas, and equipages of nobles. The more
distinguished guests were lodged in the castle and in inns; the
unimportant and servants, in tents near the churches. In the streets
fires were kindled, at which food was cooking; and everywhere was a
throng, a stir, a bustle, as in a bee-hive. The most varied costumes
and colors were to be seen. There were present soldiers of the prince
from different regiments, haiduks and Turkish grooms, Jews in black
cloaks, peasants, Armenians in violet caps, Tartars in fur coats. The
air was full of the sounds of different languages, of shouts, curses,
cries of children, barking of dogs, and bellowing of cattle.

The people greeted the approaching regiments joyfully, for they saw in
them assurance of safety and deliverance. Some went to the castle to
shout in honor of the prince and princess. The most varied reports
passed through the crowd,--one that the prince would stay in Lubni;
another that he was going far away to Lithuania, where it would be
necessary to follow him; a third, that he had already defeated
Hmelnitski. The prince, after the greeting with his wife was over, and
the announcement of the journey on the following day, looked with
anxiety on those crowds of wagons and people which were to follow the
army, and be fetters to his feet by lessening the speed of the march.
His only comfort was the thought that beyond Bragin, in a quieter
country, all would disperse, take refuge in various corners, and be a
burden no longer. The princess herself, with ladies in waiting and the
court, were to be sent to Vishnyovets, so that the prince without care
or hindrance might move into the fire with his whole force. The
preparations at the castle had been made already,--wagons were filled
with effects and valuables, supplies were collected, all persons of the
court were ready to take their seats in the wagons and on horseback at
a moment's notice. This readiness was the work of Princess Griselda,
who in calamity had as great a soul as her husband, and who, in truth,
was equal to him in energy and unbending temper.

The prince was pleased with what he saw, though his heart was rent at
the thought that he must leave the Lubni nest in which he had known so
much happiness and had won so much glory. This sorrow, too, was shared
by the whole army, the servants, and the entire court; for all felt
certain that when the prince would be far away in battle, the enemy
would not leave Lubni in peace, but would avenge on those beloved walls
all the blows which they had suffered at the hands of Yeremi. Cries and
lamentations were not lacking, especially among the women, and among
those whose children were born there, and those who were leaving the
graves of their parents behind.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

Pan Yan, who had galloped in advance of the regiments to the castle to
inquire for the princess and Zagloba, did not find them. They had
neither been seen nor heard of, though there was news of the attack on
Rozlogi and the destruction of the troops at Vassílyevka. The knight
locked himself up in his quarters at the arsenal, together with his
disappointed hopes. Sorrow, fear, and affliction rushed upon him
again; but he defended himself from them as a wounded soldier on the
battle-field defends himself from crows and ravens flocking around to
drink his warm blood and tear his flesh. He strengthened himself with
the thought that Zagloba, being fertile in stratagems, might make his
way to Chernigoff and hide on receiving news of the defeat of the
hetmans. He remembered then that old man whom he met on the way to
Rozlogi, and who, together with his boy, as he said himself, had been
stripped of his clothes by some devil, and had sat three days in the
reeds of the Kagamlik, fearing to come out into the world. The thought
occurred to Skshetuski at once that it must be Zagloba who had stripped
them in order to get a disguise for himself and Helena. "It cannot be
otherwise," repeated he; and he found great consolation in this
thought, since such disguise made flight much more easy. He hoped that
God, who watches over innocence, would not abandon Helena; and wishing
the more to obtain this favor for her, he determined to purify himself
from his sins. He left the arsenal therefore; and on searching for the
priest Mukhovetski, and finding him engaged in consoling some women, he
begged to have his confession heard.

The priest led him to a chapel, entered the confessional at once, and
began to hear him. When he had finished, the priest instructed,
edified, and consoled him, strengthened his faith, and then rebuked
him, saying: "A Christian is not permitted to doubt the power of God,
or an individual to grieve more over his own misfortune than that of
his country; but you have more tears for your personal interests--that
is, for your friends--than for the nation, and grieve moreover your
love than over the catastrophe that has come upon all." Then he
described the defeats, the fall, the disgrace of the country, in such
lofty and touching speech that he roused at once great patriotism in
the heart of the knight, to whom his own misfortunes seemed so
belittled that he was almost unable to see them. The priest reproved
him for the animosity and hatred against the Cossacks which he had
observed in him.

"The Cossacks you will crush," said he, "as enemies of the faith and
the country, as allies of the Pagan; but you will forgive them for
having injured you, and pardon them from your heart, without thought of
vengeance. And when you manifest this, I know that God will comfort
you, restore your love to you, and send you peace."

Then the priest made the sign of the cross over Pan Yan, blessed him,
and went out, having enjoined as penance to lie in the form of a cross
till morning before the crucified Christ.

The chapel was empty and dark; only two candles were burning before the
altar, casting rosy and golden gleams on the face of Christ, cut from
alabaster and full of sweetness and suffering. Hours passed away, and
the lieutenant lay there motionless as if dead; but he felt with
increasing certainty that bitterness, despair, hatred, pain, grief,
suffering, were unwinding themselves from his heart,--crawling out of
his breast, creeping away like serpents, and hiding somewhere in the
darkness. He felt that he was breathing more freely, that a kind of new
health and new strength were entering into him, that his mind was
becoming clearer and a species of happiness was embracing him; in a
word, he found before that altar and before that Christ all, whatever
it might be, that a man of those ages could find,--a man of unshaken
faith, without a trace or a shadow of doubt.

Next morning the lieutenant was as if reborn. Work, movement, and
bustle began, for this was the day of leaving Lubni. Officers from
early morning had to review the regiments to see that horses and men
were in proper order, then lead them to the field, and put them in
marching array. The prince heard holy Mass in the Church of St.
Michael, after which he returned to the castle and received deputations
from the Greek clergy and from the townspeople of Lubni and Khoról.
Then he mounted the throne, in the hall painted by Helm, surrounded by
his foremost knights; and here Grubi, the mayor of Lubni, gave his
farewell in Russian in the name of all the places belonging to the
prince's Trans-Dnieper domains. He begged him first of all not to
depart, not to leave them as sheep without a shepherd; hearing which,
other deputies, clasping their hands, repeated, "Do not go away! do not
go away!" And when the prince answered that he must go, they fell at
the feet of their good lord in regret,--or pretended regret, for it was
said that many of them, notwithstanding all the kindness of the prince,
were very friendly to the Cossacks and Hmelnitski. But the more wealthy
of them were afraid of the disturbance which they feared would arise
immediately on the departure of the prince and his forces.
Vishnyevetski answered that he had tried to be a father, not a lord, to
them, and implored them to remain loyal to the king and the
Commonwealth,--the mother of all, under whose wings they had suffered
no injustice, had lived in peace, had grown in wealth, feeling no yoke
such as strangers would not fail to lay upon them. He took farewell of
the Greek clergy with similar words; after that came the hour of
parting. Then was heard throughout the whole castle the weeping and
lamentation of servants; the young ladies and ladies in waiting
fainted, and they were barely able to restore Anusia Borzobogata to her
senses. The princess herself was the only woman who entered a carriage
with dry eyes and uplifted head, for the proud lady was ashamed to show
the world that she suffered. Crowds of people stood near the castle;
all the bells in Lubni were tolling; the Russian priests blessed with
their crosses the departing company; the line of carriages and
equipages could scarcely squeeze through the gates of the castle.

Finally the prince mounted his horse. The regimental flags were lowered
before him; cannon were fired from the walls. The sounds of weeping,
the bustle and shouting of crowds were mingled with the sounds of bells
and guns, with the blare of trumpets and the rattle of drums. The
procession moved on.

In advance went the Tartar regiments, under Roztvorovski and Vershul;
then the artillery of Pan Vurtsel, the infantry of Makhnitski; next
came the princess with her ladies, then the whole court, and wagons
with valuables; after them the Wallachian regiment of Pan Bykhovets;
finally, the body of the army, the picked regiments of heavy artillery,
the armored regiments, and hussars; the rear was brought up by the
dragoons and the Cossacks.

After the army came an endless train of wagons, many-colored as a
serpent, and carrying the families of all those nobles who after the
departure of the prince would not remain east of the Dnieper.

The trumpets sounded throughout the regiments; but the hearts of all
were straitened. Each one looking at those walls thought to himself:
"Dear houses, shall I see you again in life?" It is easy to depart, but
difficult to return; and each left as it were a part of his soul in
those places, and a pleasant memory. Therefore all turned their eyes
for the last time on the castle, on the town, on the towers of the
Polish churches, on the domes of the Russian, and on the roofs of the
houses. Each one knew what he was leaving behind, but did not know what
was waiting there in that blue distance toward which the tabor was

Sadness therefore was in the soul of each person. The town called to
the departing ones with the voices of bells, as if beseeching and
imploring them not to leave it exposed to uncertainty, to the evil
fortune of the future; it called out as if by those sad sounds it
wished to say farewell and remain in their memory.

Though the procession moved away, heads were turned toward the town,
and in every face could be read the question: "Is this the last time?"

It was the last time. Of all the army and throng of thousands who in
that hour were going forth with Prince Vishnyevetski, neither he
himself nor any one of them was ever to look again upon that town or
that country.

The trumpets sounded. The tabor moved on slowly, but steadily; and
after a time Lubni began to be veiled in a blue haze, the houses and
roofs were blended into one mass brightly distinct. Then the prince
urged his horse ahead, and having ridden to a lofty mound stood
motionless and gazed long. That town gleaming there in the sun, and all
that country visible from the mound was the work of his ancestors and
himself. For the Vishnyevetskis had changed that gloomy wilderness of
the past into a settled country, opened it to the life of people, and
it may be said, created the Trans-Dnieper. And the greater part of that
work the prince had himself accomplished. He built those Polish
churches whose towers stood there blue over the town; he increased the
place, and joined it with roads to the Ukraine; he felled forests,
drained swamps, built castles, founded villages and settlements,
brought in settlers, put down robbers, defended from Tartar raids,
maintained the peace necessary to husbandman and merchant, and
introduced the rule of law and justice. Through him that country had
lived, grown, and flourished,--he was the heart and soul of it; and now
he had to leave all.

And it was not that colossal fortune, great as an entire German
principality, which the prince regretted, but he had become attached to
the work of his hands. He knew that when he was absent everything was
absent; that the labor of years would be destroyed at once; that toil
would go for nothing, ferocity would be unchained, flames would embrace
villages and towns, the Tartar would water his horse in those rivers,
woods would grow out of ruins; that if God granted him to return
everything would have to be begun anew, and perhaps his strength would
fail, time be wanting, and confidence such as he had enjoyed at first
would not be given him. Here passed the years which were for him praise
before men, merit before God; and now the praise and the merit are to
roll away in smoke.

Two tears flowed slowly down his face. These were his last tears, after
which remained in his eyes only lightning.

The prince's horse stretched out his neck and neighed, and this
neighing was answered immediately by other steeds under the banners.
These sounds roused the prince from his revery and filled him
with hope. And so there remains to him yet six thousand faithful
comrades,--six thousand sabres with which the world is open to him, and
to which the prostrate Commonwealth is looking as the only salvation.
The idyl beyond the Dnieper is at an end; but where cannon are
thundering, where villages and towns are in flames, where by night the
wail of captives, the groans of men, women, and children are mingled
with the neighing of Tartar horses and Cossack tumult, there is an open
field, and there he may win the glory of a savior and father of his
country. Who will reach for the crown, who rescue the fatherland,
disgraced, trodden under the feet of peasants, conquered, dying, if not
he, the prince,--if not those forces which shine there below him in
their armor and gleam in the sun?

The tabor passed by the foot of the mound; and at the sight of the
prince standing with his baton in his hand on the eminence under the
cross, all the soldiers gave forth one shout: "Long live the prince!
long live our leader and hetman Yeremi Vishnyevetski!"

A hundred banners were lowered to his feet. The hussars sounded their
horns, and the drums were beaten to accompany the shouts. Then the
prince drew forth his sabre, and raising it with his eyes to heaven,

"I, Yeremi Vishnyevetski, voevoda of Rus, prince in Lubni and
Vishnyovets, swear to thee, O God, One in a Holy Trinity, and to thee,
Most Holy Mother, that, raising this sabre against ruffianism by which
our land is disgraced, I will not lay it down while strength and life
remain to me, until I wash out that disgrace and bend every enemy to
the feet of the Commonwealth, give peace to the Ukraine, and drown
servile insurrection in blood. And as I make this oath with a sincere
heart, so God give me aid. Amen!"

He stood yet awhile longer looking at the heavens, then rode down
slowly from the height to the regiments. The army marched that evening
to Basani, a village belonging to Pani Krynitska, who received the
prince on her knees at the gate; for the peasants had laid siege to her
house and she was keeping them off with the assistance of the more
faithful of her servants, when the sudden arrival of the army saved her
and her nineteen children, of whom fourteen were girls. When the prince
had given orders to seize the aggressors, he sent a Cossack company to
Kanyeff under command of Captain Ponyatovski, who brought that same
night five Zaporojians of the Vasyutin kuren. These had all taken part
in the battle of Korsún, and when burned with fire gave a detailed
account of the battle. They stated that Hmelnitski was still in Korsún,
but that Tugai Bey had gone with captives, booty, and both hetmans to
Chigirin, whence he intended to return to the Crimea. They heard also
that Hmelnitski had begged him earnestly not to leave the Zaporojian
army, but to march against the prince. The murza, however, would not
agree to this, saying that after the destruction of the armies and
the hetmans, the Cossacks could go on alone; he would not wait longer,
for his captives would die. They put Hmelnitski's forces at two
hundred thousand, but of rather poor quality; of good men only fifty
thousand,--that is, Zaporojians and Cossacks subject to lords, or town
Cossacks who had joined the rebellion.

On receiving these tidings the prince grew strong in spirit, for he
hoped that he too would increase considerably in strength by the
accession of nobles on the west of the Dnieper, stragglers from the
army of the Crown, and detachments belonging to Polish lords. Therefore
he set out early next morning.

Beyond Pereyasláv the army entered immense gloomy forests extending
along the course of the Trubej to Kozelets, and farther on to
Chernigoff itself. It was toward the end of May, and terribly hot. In
the woods, instead of being cool, it was so sultry that men and horses
lacked air for breathing. Cattle, driven after the army, fell at every
step, or when they caught the smell of water, rushed to it as if wild,
overturning wagons and causing dismay. Horses too began to fall,
especially those of the heavy cavalry. The nights were unendurable from
the infinite number of insects and the overpowering odor of pitch,
which the trees dropped in unusual abundance by reason of the heat.

They dragged on in this way for four days; at length on the fifth day
the heat became unnatural. When night came the horses began to snort
and the cattle to bellow plaintively, as if foreseeing some danger
which men could not yet surmise.

"They smell blood!" was said in the tabor among the crowds of fugitive
families of nobles.

"The Cossacks are pursuing us! there will be a battle!"

At these words the women raised a lament, the rumor reached the
servants, panic and disturbance set in; the people tried to drive ahead
of one another, or to leave the track and go at random through the
woods, where they got entangled among the trees.

But men sent by the prince soon restored order. Scouts were ordered out
on every side, so as to be sure whether danger was threatening or not.

Skshetuski, who had gone as a volunteer with the Wallachians, returned
first toward morning and went straightway to the prince.

"What is the trouble?" asked Yeremi.

"Your Highness, the woods are on fire."

"Set on fire?"

"Yes; I seized a number of men who confessed that Hmelnitski had sent
volunteers to follow you and to set fire, if the wind should be

"He wanted to roast us alive without giving battle. Bring the people

In a moment three herdsmen were brought,--wild, stupid, terrified,--who
immediately confessed that they were in fact commanded to set fire to
the woods. They confessed also that forces were despatched after the
prince, but that they were going to Chernigoff by another road, nearer
the Dnieper.

Meanwhile other scouts returned. All brought the same report: "The
woods are on fire."

But the prince did not allow himself to be disturbed in the least by
this. "It is a villanous method," said he; "but nothing will come of
it. The fire will not go beyond the rivers entering the Trubej."

In fact, into the Trubej, along which the army marched to the north,
there fell so many small rivers forming here and there broad morasses,
impassable for fire, that it would have been necessary to ignite the
woods beyond each one of them separately. The scouts soon discovered
that this was being done. Every day incendiaries were brought in; with
these they ornamented the pine-trees along the road.

The fires extended vigorously along the rivers to the east and west,
not to the north. In the night-time the heavens were red as far as the
eye could see. The women sang sacred hymns from dusk to the dawning of
the day. Terrified wild beasts from the flaming forests took refuge on
the road and followed the army, running in among the cattle of the
herds. The wind blew in the smoke, which covered the whole horizon. The
army and the wagons pushed forward as if through a dense fog, which the
eye could not penetrate. The lungs had no air; the smoke bit the eyes,
and the wind kept driving it on more and more each moment. The light of
the sun could not pierce the clouds, and there was more to be seen in
the night-time than in the day, for flames gave light. The woods seemed
to have no end.

In the midst of such burning forests and such smoke did Prince Yeremi
lead his army. Meanwhile news came that the enemy was marching on the
other side of the Trubej. The extent of his power was unknown, but
Vershul's Tartars affirmed that he was still far away.

One night Pan Sukhodolski came to the army from Bodenki, on the other
side of the Desna. He was an old attendant of the prince, who some
years before had settled in a village. He was fleeing before the
peasants, but brought news as yet unknown in the army.

Great consternation was caused when, asked by the prince for news, he
answered: "Bad, your Highness! You know already of the defeat of the
hetmans and the death of the king?"

The prince, who was sitting on a small camp-stool in front of the tent,
sprang to his feet. "How?--is the king dead?"

"Our merciful lord gave up the spirit in Merech a week before the
catastrophe at Korsún."

"God in his mercy did not permit him to live to such times!" said the
prince; then seizing himself by the head, he continued: "Awful times
have come upon the Commonwealth! Convocations and elections,--an
interregnum, dissensions, and foreign intrigues,--now, when the whole
people should become a single sword in a single hand. God surely has
turned away his face from us, and in his anger intends to punish us for
our sins. Only King Vladislav himself could extinguish these
conflagrations; for there was a wonderful affection for him among the
Cossacks, and besides, he was a military man."

At this time a number of officers--among them Zatsvilikhovski,
Skshetuski, Baranovski, Vurtsel, Makhnitski, and Polyanovski--approached
the prince, who said: "Gentlemen, the king is dead!"

Their heads were uncovered as if by command. Their faces grew serious.
Such unexpected news deprived all of speech. Only after a while came an
expression of universal sorrow.

"May God grant him eternal rest!" said the prince.

"And eternal light shine upon him!"

Soon after the priest Mukhovetski intoned "Dies Iræ;" and amidst those
forests and that smoke an unspeakable sorrow seized their hearts and
souls. It seemed to all as if some expected rescue had failed; as if
they were standing alone in the world, in presence of some terrible
enemy, and they had no one against him except their prince. So then all
eyes turned to him, and a new bond was formed between Vishnyevetski and
his men.

That evening the prince spoke to Zatsvilikhovski in a voice that was
heard by all,--

"We need a warrior king, so that if God grants us to give our votes at
an election, we will give them for Prince Karl, who has more of the
military genius than Kazimir."

"Vivat Carolus rex!" shouted the officers.

"Vivat!" repeated the hussars, and after them the whole army.

The prince voevoda had no thought, indeed, that those shouts raised
east of the Dnieper, in the gloomy forests of Chernigoff, would reach
Warsaw, and wrest from his grasp the baton of Grand Hetman of the

                              CHAPTER XXV.

After the nine days' march of which Mashkevich was the Xenophon, and
the three days' passage of the Desna, the army reached Chernigoff at
last. Skshetuski entered first of all with the Wallachians. The prince
ordered him to the place on purpose, so that he might inquire sooner
about the princess and Zagloba. But here, as in Lubni, neither in the
town nor the castle did he hear anything of them. They had vanished
somewhere without a trace, like a stone in the water, and the knight
himself knew not what to think. Where could they have hidden
themselves? Certainly not in Moscow, nor in the Crimea, nor in the
Saitch. There remained only one hypothesis, that they had crossed the
Dnieper; but in such an event they would find themselves at once in the
midst of the storm. On that side there were slaughter and swarms of
drunken peasants, Zaporojians, and Tartars, from whom not even a
disguise would protect Helena; for those wild Pagans were glad to take
boys captive, for whom they found a great demand in the markets of
Stamboul. A terrible suspicion entered Skshetuski's head,--that
possibly Zagloba had taken her to that side on purpose to sell her to
Tugai Bey, who might pay him more liberally than Bogun; and this
thought drove him to the very verge of madness. But Podbipienta, who
had known Zagloba longer than Skshetuski, quieted him considerably in
this respect.

"My dear brother," said he, "cast that thought out of your head! That
noble has done nothing of the sort. The Kurtsevichi had treasures
enough, which Bogun would have been willing to give him. Had he wished
to ruin the girl, he would not have exposed his life, and he would have
made his fortune."

"True," said the lieutenant; "but why has he fled with her across the
Dnieper, instead of going to Lubni or Chernigoff?"

"Well, quiet your mind, my dear fellow! I know that Zagloba. He drank
with me and borrowed money of me. He does not care for money,--either
his own or another man's. If he has his own he will spend it, and he
won't repay another's if he borrows; but that he would undertake such a
deed I do not believe."

"He is a frivolous man," said Pan Yan.

"Frivolous he may be, but he is a trickster who will outwit any man,
and slip out of every danger himself. And as the priest with prophetic
spirit said that God would give her back to you, so will it be; for it
is just that every sincere affection should be rewarded. Console
yourself with this hope, as I console myself."

Here Pan Longin began to sigh deeply, and after a while added: "Let us
inquire once more at the castle. Maybe they passed by here."

They inquired everywhere, but to no purpose. There was not a trace even
of the passage of the fugitives. The castle was full of nobles with
their wives and children, who had shut themselves in against the
Cossacks. The prince endeavored to persuade them to go with him, and
warned them that the Cossacks were following in his tracks. They did
not dare to attack the army, but it was likely they would attack the
castle and the town after his departure. The nobles in the castle,
however, were strangely blinded.

"We are safe behind the forests," said they to the prince. "No one will
come to us here."

"But I have passed through these forests," said he.

"You have passed, but the rabble will not. These are not the forests
for them."

The nobles refused to go, continuing in their blindness, for which they
paid dearly later on. After the passage of the prince the Cossacks came
quickly. The castle was defended manfully for three weeks, then was
captured and all in it were cut to pieces. The Cossacks committed
terrible cruelties, and no one took vengeance on them.

When the prince arrived at Lubech on the Dnieper he disposed his army
there for rest, but went himself with the princess and court to Bragin,
situated in the midst of forests and impassable swamps. A week later
the army crossed over too. They marched then through Babitsa to Mozir,
where, on the day of Corpus Christi, came the moment of separation; for
the princess with the court had to go to Turoff to the wife of the
voevoda of Vilna, her aunt, but the prince with the army into fire in
the Ukraine.

At the farewell dinner the prince and princess, the ladies in waiting,
and most of the distinguished officers were present. But the usual
animation was not evident among the ladies and cavaliers, for more than
one soldier heart was cut by the thought that he would soon have to
leave the chosen one, for whom he wished to live, fight, and die; more
than one pair of bright or dark maiden eyes were filled with tears of
sorrow because "_he_ is going to the war among bullets and swords,
among Cossacks and wild Tartars,--is going and may not return."

When the prince began to speak in taking farewell of his wife and
court, the young ladies fell to crying one after another as plaintively
as kittens; but the knights, being of sterner stuff, rose from their
places, and seizing the hilts of their swords, shouted in unison,--

"We will conquer and return!"

"God give you strength!" answered the princess.

Then there rose a shout that made the walls and windows tremble.

"Long life to the princess! Long life to our mother and benefactress!
Long life to her! long life to her!"

The officers loved her for her love to them, for her greatness of soul,
her liberality and kindness, for her care of their families. Prince
Yeremi loved her above all things; for theirs were two natures created
as it were for each other, as much alike as two goblets of gold and

Then all went up to her, and each one knelt with his goblet before her
chair, and she, embracing the head of each one, spoke some word of
kindness. But to Skshetuski she said,--

"It is likely that more than one knight here will receive a scapula or
a ribbon at parting; and since you have not here the one from whom most
of all you would wish to receive a memento, take this from me as from a

While saying this, she removed a golden cross set with turquoise and
hung it upon his neck. He kissed her hands with reverence.

It was evident that the prince was greatly pleased at this attention
shown Skshetuski; for of late he had given him increased affection
because in his mission to the Saitch he had upheld the dignity of the
prince and refused to take letters from Hmelnitski. They rose from the
table. The young ladies, catching on the wing the words of the princess
spoken to Pan Yan and receiving them as a sign of approval and
permission, began immediately to bring, one a scapula, another a scarf,
a third a cross, which seeing, the knights present approached, if not
his chosen, at least his favorite one. Therefore Ponyatovski came to
Jitinska; Bykhovets to Bogovitinyanka, for recently he had grown
pleasing to her; Roztvorovski to Jukovna; red Vershul to Skoropadska;
Colonel Makhnitski, though old, to Zavyeska. Only Anusia Borzobogata
Krasenska, though the most beautiful of all, stood under the window
deserted and alone; her face was flushed, her eyes with drooping lids
shot from their corners glances full of anger and of a prayer not to
put such an affront on her. Seeing this, the traitor Volodyovski came
up and said,--

"I too wished to beg Panna Anna for a memento, but I abandoned,
resigned, my wish, thinking I should not be able to push my way to her
through the dense throng."

Anusia's cheeks burned still more hotly, but without a moment's
hesitation she answered,--

"You would like to get a keepsake from other hands than mine, but you
will not get it; for if it is not too crowded for you there, it is too

The blow was well directed and double, for in the first place it turned
the sarcasm to the low stature of the knight, and in the second to his
passion for Princess Barbara Zbaraska. Pan Volodyovski fell in love
first with the elder sister Anna; but when she was betrothed he
recovered from his pain and in silence made an offering of his heart to
Barbara, thinking that no one suspected it. When therefore he heard
this from Anusia, though he was a champion of the first degree both
with sword and tongue, he was so confused that he forgot his speech and
muttered something wide of the mark,--

"You are aiming high too, as high indeed as the head of Pan

"He is in truth higher than you in arms and in manners," said the
resolute girl. "Thank you for reminding me!" Then she called to the
Lithuanian: "Will you come this way? I wish to have my knight too, and
I do not know that I could bind my scarf on a braver breast than

Pan Podbipienta stared as if uncertain whether he heard correctly;
finally he cast himself on his knees, so that the floor trembled.

"My benefactress!"

Anusia fastened the scarf, and then her little hands disappeared
entirely under the blond mustaches of Pan Longin. There was heard only
the sound of kissing and muttering, hearing which Volodyovski said to
Lieutenant Migurski, "One would swear that a bear had broken into a
bee-hive and was eating the honey." Then he went away with a certain
anger, for he felt Anusia's sting, and moreover he had been in love
with her in his time.

But the prince had already begun to take farewell of the princess, and
an hour later the court set out for Turoff, and the army for the

During the night at the crossing, while they were building rafts to
carry over the cannon, and the hussars were doing the work, Pan Longin
said to Skshetuski,--

"Look here, brother, a misfortune!"

"What has happened?" asked the lieutenant.

"Why, the news from the Ukraine!"

"What news?"

"The Zaporojians tell me that Tugai Bey has gone with the horde to the

"Well, what of that? You will not cry over that, I suppose."

"But, my brother, you told me--and you were right, were you not?--that
I could not count Cossacks' heads, and if the Tartars are gone where am
I to get the three Pagan heads? Where should I look for them? and oh,
how much I need them!"

Skshetuski, though suffering himself, laughed, and answered: "I
understand what the matter is, for I saw how you were made a knight

"That is true. Why hide it longer? I have fallen in love,
brother,--fallen in love. That is the misfortune."

"Don't torment yourself. I do not believe that Tugai Bey has gone, and
besides you will meet as many Pagans as there are mosquitoes over our

In fact, whole clouds of mosquitoes swept over the horses and men; for
the troops went into a country of impassable morasses, swampy forests,
soft meadows, rivers, creeks, and streams,--into an empty, gloomy land,
one howling wilderness, concerning the inhabitants of which it was said
in those times,--

                 "Nobleman Nakedness (Holota[11])
                  Gave with his daughter
                  Two kegs of wagon grease,
                  One wreath of mushrooms,
                  One jar of mud-fish,
                  And one ridge of swamp."

In this swamp, however, there grew not only mushrooms, but, in spite of
the above sarcasm, great lordly fortunes. But at this time the prince's
men, who, for the greater part had been reared on the lofty dry steppes
of the Trans-Dnieper, could not believe their own eyes. True, there
were swamps in their country and forests in places, but here the whole
region seemed to be one swamp. The nights were clear and bright. As far
as the eye could see by the light of the moon not two yards of dry
ground were visible. Only tufts of earth looked black above the water,
the trees appeared to grow out of the water, water spattered from under
the feet of the horses, water sprinkled the wheels of the wagons and
the cannon.

Vurtsel fell into despair: "A wonderful march!" said he; "near
Chernigoff we were in danger from fire, and now water is drowning us."

Indeed the earth, in contradiction to its nature, did not give a firm
support to the foot, but bent and trembled as if wishing to open and
swallow those who moved upon it.

The troops were four days passing the Pripet; then they had to cross
almost every day rivers and streams flowing through shaky ground. And
nowhere was there a bridge. All the people crossed in boats. After a
few days fog and rain began. The men did their utmost to get out of
those enchanted regions at last, and the prince urged and pushed them
on. The soldiers, seeing too that he did not spare himself,--he was on
horseback from dawn till dark, leading the army and overseeing its
advance, directing everything in person,--did not dare to murmur,
though really they labored beyond their strength. To toil from morning
till night and in the water was the common lot of all. The horses began
to lose their hoofs; many of the artillery horses died, so that the
infantry and Volodyovski's dragoons drew cannon themselves. The picked
regiments, such as Skshetuski's and Zatsvilikhovski's hussars, and the
armored regiments took their axes to make roads. It was a famous march,
in cold and water and hunger, in which the will of the leader and the
ardor of the soldiers broke through every barrier. No one hitherto had
dared to lead an army through that country during the high water of
spring. Happily the march was not interrupted by any accident. The
people were peaceable and without thought of rebellion; though
afterward roused by the Cossacks and incited by example, they did not
wish to rally to the banners of sedition. They looked with sleepy eyes
on the passing legions, who issued from the pine woods and swamps as if
enchanted, and passed on like a dream; they furnished guides, and did
quietly and obediently all that was asked of them.

In view of this the prince punished severely every military license,
and the army was not followed by groans, curses, and complaints; and
when after the passage of the army it was learned in some smoky village
that Prince Yeremi had passed, the people shook their heads, and said
quietly, "Why, he is good-natured."

At last, after twenty days of superhuman toil and effort, the forces of
the prince appeared in the region of revolt. "Yarema is coming! Yarema
is coming!" was heard over the whole Ukraine, to the Wilderness, to
Chigirin and Yagorlik. "Yarema is coming!" was heard in the towns,
villages, farms, and clearings; and at the report the scythes, forks,
and knives dropped from the hands of the peasants, faces grew pale,
wild bands hurried toward the south in the night, like wolves at the
sound of the hunter's horn; the Tartar, wandering around for plunder,
sprang from his horse and put his ear to the ground from time to time;
in the castles and fortresses that were still uncaptured, bells were
sounded and "Te Deum laudamus" was sung.

And that terrible lion laid himself down on the threshold of a
rebellious land and rested. He was gathering his strength.

[Illustration; BOGDAN HMELNITSKI.}

                             CHAPTER XXVI.

Hmelnitski remained awhile at Korsún, and then pushed on to Bélaya
Tserkoff, where he established his capital. The horde was disposed in
camp on the other side of the river, sending out parties through the
whole province of Kieff. Pan Longin Podbipienta therefore had been
grieving in vain over the dearth of Tartar heads. Skshetuski foresaw
correctly that the Zaporojians seized by Ponyatovski at Kanyeff gave
false information. Tugai Bey not only had not departed, but had not
gone even to Chigirin. What is more, new Tartar reinforcements came
from every side. The petty sovereigns of Azoff and Astrakhan, who had
never been in Poland before, came with four thousand warriors. Twelve
thousand of the Nogai horde came, and twenty thousand of the Bélgorod
and Budjak hordes,--all sworn enemies hitherto of the Zaporojians and
the Cossacks, now brothers and sworn allies against Christian blood.
Finally the Khan Islam Giréi himself came with twelve thousand from
Perekop. The whole Ukraine suffered from these friends; not only the
nobles suffered, but the Russian people, whose villages were burned,
cattle driven away, and whose wives and children were hurried
into captivity. In those times of murder, burning, and bloodshed there
was only one rescue for the peasant, and that was to flee to
Hmelnitski,--where from being a victim he became a destroyer, and
ravaged his own country; but at least his life was safe. Unhappy
country! When rebellion broke out in it Pan Nikolai Pototski punished
and wasted it to begin with; then the Zaporojians and the Tartars, who
came as if for its liberation; and now Yeremi Vishnyevetski hovered
over it.

Therefore all who were able fled to Hmelnitski's camp; even nobles
fled, for other means of safety were not to be found. Thanks to this,
Hmelnitski increased in power; and if he remained long in Bélaya
Tserkoff and did not move at once to the heart of the Commonwealth, it
was above all to give order to these lawless and wild elements.

In his iron hands they changed quickly into military strength. Skeleton
regiments of trained Zaporojians were at hand; the mob was divided
among these. Colonels were appointed from koshevoi atamans of long
standing; single parties were sent out to capture castles, and receive
thereby training for battle. They were men valiant by nature, fitted
beyond all others for war, used to arms, familiar with fire and the
bloody front of battle, through Tartar raids.

Two colonels, Handja and Ostap, went to Nestorvar, which they captured,
cutting to pieces all the Jews and nobles among its inhabitants, and
beheading Prince Chetvertinski's miller on the threshold of the castle.
Ostap made the princess his captive. Others went in other directions,
and success attended their arms; for a terror of the heart seized the
Poles,--a terror "unusual to that people," who dropped the weapons from
their hands and lost their strength.

More than once it happened that the colonels importuned Hmelnitski:
"Why don't you move on Warsaw? Why do you stay resting here, getting
information from wizards, and filling yourself with gorailka, letting
the Poles recover from their terror and assemble their men?" More than
once also the drunken crowd howled in the night-time, surrounding the
quarters of Hmelnitski, asking him to lead them against the Poles. The
hetman had raised the rebellion and given it a terrible power, but now
he began to see that this power was urging him forward to an unknown
future; therefore he gazed often into that future with uncertain eye,
tried to solve the riddle of it, and in the face of that future was
disturbed at heart.

As has been said, among those colonels and atamans he alone knew what
terrible power there was in the apparent weakness of the Commonwealth.
He had raised the rebellion, gained the victory at Jóltiya Vodi, at
Korsún had swept away the armies of the Crown,--but what further?

He assembled the colonels then in council, and glancing at them with
bloodshot eyes before which they all trembled, proposed the very same
question,--"What further? What do you want? To go to Warsaw? Then
Prince Vishnyevetski will be here, and kill your wives and children
with the speed of lightning. He will leave only earth and water behind,
and will follow to Warsaw, marching with the whole power of the nobles
who will join him. Then, caught between two fires, we shall perish; if
not in battle, empaled on stakes. You cannot depend on Tartar
friendship. To-day they are with us; to-morrow they may turn against us
and rush off to the Crimea, or sell our heads to the Poles. Well, what
more will you say? March on Vishnyevetski? He would detain our forces
and those of the Tartar till armies could be enrolled in the heart of
the Commonwealth and brought to his aid. Choose!"

The alarmed colonels were silent, and Hmelnitski continued:--

"Why are you silent? Why do you urge me no longer to go to Warsaw? If
you know not what to do, then rely on me, and with God's help I will
save my own head and yours, and win satisfaction for the Zaporojian
army and all the Cossacks."

In fact, there remained one method,--negotiation. Hmelnitski knew well
how much he could extort from the Commonwealth in that way. He
calculated that the Diets would rather agree to liberal concessions
than to taxes, levies of troops, and war, which would have to be long
and difficult. Finally, he knew that in Warsaw there was a strong
party, and at the head of it the king himself (news of whose death had
not yet come), with the chancellor and many nobles, who would be glad
to hinder the growth of the colossal fortunes of the magnates of the
Ukraine, and to create a power for the hands of the king out of the
Cossacks, conclude a permanent peace with them, and use those thousands
of warriors for foreign wars. In these conditions Hmelnitski might
acquire a distinguished position for himself, receive the baton of
hetman from the king, and gain countless concessions for the Cossacks.

This was why he remained long in Bélaya Tserkoff. He armed his men,
sent general orders in every direction, collected the people, created
whole armies, took possession of castles, for he knew they would
negotiate only with power, but he did not move into the heart of the
Commonwealth. If he could conclude peace by negotiation, then either
the weapon would drop from the hand of Vishnyevetski, or, if the prince
would not lay it aside, then not Hmelnitski, but Vishnyevetski, would
be the rebel carrying on war against the will of the king and the
Diets. He would move then on Vishnyevetski, but by command of the king
and the Commonwealth; and the last hour would have struck not for
Vishnyevetski alone, but for all the kinglets of the Ukraine, with
their fortunes and their lands.

Thus meditated the self-created Zaporojian hetman; such was the pile
that he built for the future. But on the scaffolding of this edifice
the dark birds, Care, Doubt, Fear, sat many a time, and ominous was
their croaking. Will the peace party be strong enough in Warsaw? Will
it begin negotiations with him? What will the Diet and the Senate say?
Will they close their ears in the capital to the groans and cries of
the Ukraine? Will they shut their eyes to the flames of conflagration?
Will not negotiations be prevented by the influence of the magnates
possessing those immeasurable estates, the preservation of which
will be for their interest? And has the Commonwealth become so
terror-stricken that it will forgive him?

On the other hand, Hmelnitski's soul was rent by the doubt. Has not the
rebellion become too inflamed and too developed? Would those wild
masses allow themselves to be confined within any limits? Suppose he,
Hmelnitski, should conclude peace, the cut-throats may continue to
murder and burn in his name, or take vengeance on his head for their
deluded hopes. Then that swollen river, that sea, that storm! An awful
position! If the outbreak had been weaker, they would not negotiate
with him, by reason of his weakness; but because the rebellion is
mighty, negotiations, by the force of things, may be defeated. Then
what will happen?

When such thoughts besieged the weighty head of the hetman he shut
himself up in his quarters, and drank whole days and nights. Then among
the colonels and the mob the report went around: "The hetman is
drinking!" and following his example, all drank. Discipline was
relaxed, prisoners killed, fights sprang up, booty was stolen. The day
of judgment was beginning, the reign of horror and ghastliness. Bélaya
Tserkoff was turned into a real Inferno.

One day Vygovski, a noble captured at Korsún and made secretary to the
hetman, came in. He began to shake the drinker without ceremony, till
seizing him by the shoulders he seated him on the low bench and brought
him to his senses.

"What is it? What the plague--" demanded Hmelnitski.

"Rise up, Hetman, and come to yourself!" answered Vygovski. "An embassy
has come."

Hmelnitski sprang to his feet, and in a moment was sober.

"Hi, there!" he cried to the Cossack sitting at the threshold, "give me
my cap and baton. Who has come? From whom?"

"The priest Patroni Lasko, from Gushchi, from the voevoda of Bratslav."

"From Pan Kisel?"


"Glory to the Father and Son, glory to the Holy Ghost and to the Holy
Most Pure!" said Hmelnitski, making the sign of the cross. His face
became clear, he regained his good humor,--negotiations had begun.

But that day there came news of a character directly opposed to the
peaceful embassy of Pan Kisel. It was stated that Prince Yeremi, after
he had given rest to his army, wearied with its march through the woods
and swamps, had entered into the rebellious country; that he was
killing, burning, beheading; that a division sent under Skshetuski had
dispersed a band of two thousand Cossacks with a mob and cut them to
pieces; that the prince himself had taken Pogrébische, the property of
the princes Zbaraski, and had left only earth and water behind him.
Awful things were related of the storm and taking of Pogrébische,--for
it was a nest of the most stubborn murderers. The prince, it was said,
told the soldiers: "Kill them so they will feel they are dying." The
soldiers therefore allowed themselves the wildest excesses of cruelty.
Out of the whole town not a single soul escaped. Seven hundred
prisoners were hanged, two hundred seated on stakes. Mention is made
also of boring out eyes with augers and burning on slow fires. The
rebellion was put down at once in the whole neighborhood. The
inhabitants either fled to Hmelnitski or received the lord of Lubni on
their knees with bread and salt, howling for mercy. The smaller bands
were all rubbed out, and in the woods, as stated by fugitives from
Samorodka, Spichina, Pleskoff, Vakhnovka, there was not a tree on which
a Cossack was not hanging. And all this was done not far from Bélaya
Tserkoff and the many-legioned armies of Hmelnitski.

So when Hmelnitski heard of this he began to roar like a wounded
aurochs. On one side negotiations, on the other the sword. If he
marches against the prince, it will mean that he does not want the
negotiations proposed through Pan Kisel, the Lord of Brusiloff. His
only hope was in the Tartars. Hmelnitski jumped up and hurried to the
quarters of Tugai Bey.

"Tugai Bey, my friend!" said he, after giving the usual salaams, "as
you saved me at Jóltiya Vodi and Korsún, save me now! An envoy has come
here from the voevoda of Bratslav, with a letter, in which the voevoda
promises satisfaction, and to the Zaporojian army the restoration of
its ancient freedom, on condition that I cease from war, which I must
do to show my sincerity and good-will. At the same time news has come
that my enemy, Prince Vishnyevetski, has razed Pogrébische and left no
man living. He is cutting down my warriors, empaling them, boring out
their eyes with augers. I cannot move on him. To you I come, asking
that you move on your enemy and mine with your Tartars; otherwise he
will soon attack our camp here."

The murza, sitting on a pile of carpets taken at Korsún or stolen from
the houses of nobles, swayed backward and forward some time, contracted
his eyes as if for closer thinking; at last he said,--

"Allah! I cannot do that."

"Why?" asked Hmelnitski.

"Because, as it is, I have lost for you beys and men enough at Jóltiya
Vodi and Korsún, why should I lose more? Yeremi is a great warrior! I
will march against him if you march, but not alone. I am not such a
fool as to lose in one battle all that I have gained so far; better
send out my detachments for booty and captives. I have done enough for
you unbelieving dogs. I will not go myself, and I will dissuade the
Khan from going. I have spoken."

"You swore to give me aid."

"I did; but I swore to make war at your side, not instead of you. Go
away from here!"

"I let you take captives from my own people, gave you booty, gave you
the hetmans."

"Yes, for if you had not I should have given you to them."

"I will go to the Khan."

"Be off, I tell you!"

The pointed teeth of the murza had already begun to gleam from under
his mustache. Hmelnitski knew that he had nothing to get from him, and
it was dangerous to stop longer; he rose therefore and went in fact to
the Khan.

But he got the same answer from the Khan. The Tartars had their own
minds and were looking for their own profit. Instead of venturing on a
general battle against a leader who was considered invincible, they
preferred to send out plundering parties and enrich themselves without

Hmelnitski returned in a rage to his own quarters, and from despair was
going to the decanter again, when Vygovski took it away from him.

"You will not drink, worthy hetman!" said he. "There is an envoy, and
you must finish with him first."

Hmelnitski was furious. "I will have you and the envoy empaled!"

"I will not give you gorailka. Are you not ashamed, when fortune has
raised you so high, to fill yourself with gorailka, like a common
Cossack? Pshaw! it must not be. News of the envoy's arrival has spread
about the army, and the colonels want a council. It is not for you to
drink now, but to forge the iron while it is hot; for now you can
conclude peace and receive all you want; afterward it will be too late,
and my life and yours are involved in this. You should send an envoy at
once to Warsaw, and ask the king for favor."

"You are a wise head," said Hmelnitski. "Command them to ring the bell
for council, and tell the colonels on the square that I shall come out

Vygovski went out, and in a moment the bell was ringing for council. At
the sound the Zaporojian army began to assemble immediately. The
leaders and colonels sat down,--the terrible Krívonos, Hmelnitski's
right hand; Krechovski, the sword of the Cossacks; the old and
experienced Filon Daidyalo, colonel of Kropivnik; Fedor Loboda, of
Pereyaslàv; the cruel Fedorenko, of Kalnik; the wild Pushkarenko, of
Poltava, whose command was composed of herdsmen alone; Shumeiko, of
Nyejin; the fiery Chernota, of Gadyach; Yakubovich, of Chigirin;
besides Nosach, Gladki, Adamovich, Glukh, Pulyan, Panich. Not all the
colonels were present; for some were on expeditions, and some were in
the other world,--sent there by Prince Yeremi.

The Tartars were not invited this time to the council. The Brotherhood
assembled on the square. The crowding multitudes were driven away with
clubs and even with whirlbats, on which occasion cases of death were
not wanting.

Finally Hmelnitski himself appeared, dressed in red, wearing his cap,
the baton in his hand. By his side walked the priest Patroni Lasko,
white as a dove; and on the other side Vygovski, carrying papers.

Hmelnitski took a place among the colonels, and sat for a time in
silence; then he removed his cap as a sign that the council was open.
He rose and began to speak;--

"Gentlemen, colonels, and atamans! It is known to you how we were
forced to seize arms on account of the great injustices which we
suffered without cause, and with the aid of the most serene Tsar of the
Crimea, demand from the Polish lords our ancient rights and privileges,
taken from us without the will of his Majesty the King, which
undertaking God has blessed; and having sent a terror upon our
faithless tyrants, altogether unusual to them, has punished their
untruth and oppression, and rewarded us with signal victories, for
which we should thank him with grateful hearts. Since, then, their
insolence is punished, it is proper for us to think how the shedding of
Christian blood may be restrained, which the God of mercy and our
orthodox faith command; but not to let the sabres from our hands until
our ancient rights and privileges are restored in accordance with the
will of his most serene Majesty the King. The voevoda of Bratslav
writes me, therefore, that this may come to pass, which I too believe,
for it is not we who have left obedience to his Majesty the King and
the Commonwealth, but the Pototskis, the Kalinovskis, the
Vishnyevetskis, the Konyetspolskis, whom we have punished; therefore a
proper concession and reward is due to us from his Majesty and the
estates. I beg you therefore, gentlemen, to read the letter of the
voevoda of Bratslav, sent to me through Father Patroni Lasko, a noble
of the orthodox faith, and to determine wisely whether the spilling of
Christian blood is to be restrained, and concessions and rewards made
to us for our obedience and loyalty to the Commonwealth."

Hmelnitski did not ask whether the war was to be discontinued, but he
asked for a decision to suspend the war. Immediately, therefore,
murmurs of discontent were raised, which soon changed into threatening
shouts, directed mainly by Chernota of Gadyach.

Hmelnitski was silent, but noted carefully where the protests came
from, and fixed firmly in his memory those who opposed him.

Vygovski then rose with the letter of Kisel in his hand. Zorko had
brought a copy to be read to the Brotherhood. A deep silence followed.
The voevoda began the letter in these words:--

"Chief of the Zaporojian Army of the Commonwealth.

"My old and dear Friend,--While there are many who understand you to be
an enemy of the Commonwealth, I not only am thoroughly convinced myself
of your loyalty to the Commonwealth, but I convince other senators and
colleagues of mine of it. Three things are clear to me: First, that
though the army of the Dnieper guards its glory and its freedom for
centuries, it maintains always its faith to the king, the lords, and
the Commonwealth; second, that our Russian people are so firm in their
orthodox faith that every one of us prefers to lay down his life rather
than to violate that faith in any regard; third, that though there be
various internal blood-spillings (as now has happened, God pity us!),
still we have all one country in which we were born and use our rights,
and there is not indeed in the whole world another such rule and
another such land as ours, with respect to rights and liberties.
Therefore we are all of us in the same manner accustomed to guard the
crown of our mother; and though there be various circumstances (as
happens in the world), still reason commands us to consider that it is
easier in a free government to make known our injuries than having lost
that mother, not to find another such, either in a Christian or a pagan

Loboda of Pereyasláv interrupted the reading. "He tells the truth,"
said he.

"He tells the truth," repeated other colonels.

"Not the truth! He lies, dog-believer!" screamed Chernota.

"Be silent! You are a dog-believer yourself!"

"You are traitors. Death to you!"

"Death to you!"

"Listen; wait awhile! Read! He is one of us. Listen, listen!"

The storm was gathering in good earnest, but Vygovski began to read
again. There was silence a second time.

The voevoda wrote, in continuation, that the Zaporojian army should
have confidence in him, for they knew well that he, being of the same
blood and faith, must wish it well. He wrote that in the unfortunate
blood-spilling at Kuméiki and Starets, he had taken no part; then he
called on Hmelnitski to put an end to the war, dismiss the Tartars or
turn his arms against them, and remain faithful to the Commonwealth.
Finally; the letter ended in the following words:--

"I promise you, since I am a son of the Church of God, and as my house
comes from the ancient blood of the Russian people, that I shall myself
aid in everything just. You know very well that upon me in this
Commonwealth (by the mercy of God) something depends, and without me
war cannot be declared, nor peace concluded, and that I first do not
wish civil war," etc.

Now rose immediate tumult for and against; but on the whole the letter
pleased the colonels, and even the Brotherhood. Nevertheless, in the
first moment it was impossible to understand or hear anything on
account of the fury with which the letter was discussed. The
Brotherhood, from a distance, seemed like a great vortex, in which
swarms of people were seething and boiling and roaring. The colonels
shook their batons, sprang at and thrust their fists in one another's
eyes. There were purple faces, inflamed eyes, and foam on the mouth;
and the leader of all who called for war was Chernota, who fell into a
real frenzy. Hmelnitski too, while looking at his fury, was near an
outbreak, before which everything generally grew silent as before the
roaring of a lion. But Krechovski, anticipating him, sprang on a bench,
waved his baton, and cried with a voice of thunder,--

"Herding oxen is your work, not counselling, you outrageous slaves!"

"Silence! Krechovski wants to speak!" cried Chernota, first, who hoped
that the famous colonel would speak for war.

"Silence! silence!" shouted others.

Krechovski was respected beyond measure among the Cossacks, for the
important services which he had rendered, for his great military brain,
and wonderful to relate, because he was a noble. They were silent at
once, therefore, and all waited with curiosity for what he would say.
Hmelnitski himself fixed an uneasy glance on him.

But Chernota was mistaken in supposing that the colonel would declare
for war. Krechovski, with his quick mind, understood that now or never
might he obtain from the Commonwealth those starostaships and dignities
of which he dreamed. He understood that at the pacification of the
Cossacks they would try to detach and satisfy him before many others,
with which Pan Pototski, being in captivity, would not be able to
interfere. On this account he spoke as follows:--

"My calling is to give battle, not advice; but as we are in council, I
feel impelled to give my present opinion, since I have earned your
favor as well if not better than others. Why did we kindle war? We
kindled present war for the restoration of our liberties and rights,
and the voevoda of Bratslav writes that this restoration will take
place. Therefore, either it will, or it will not. If it will not, then
war; if it will, peace! Why spill blood in vain? Let them pacify us,
and we will pacify the crowd, and the war will stop. Our father
Hmelnitski has arranged and thought out all this wisely,--that we are
on the side of his Majesty the King, who will give us a reward for
that; and if the lordlings will oppose, then he will let us have our
sport with them, and we will have it. I should not advise to send the
Tartars off; let them arrange themselves in camps in the Wilderness,
and stay till we have one thing or another."

Hmelnitski's face brightened when he heard these words; and now the
colonels in immense majority, began to call for a suspension of war and
an embassy to Warsaw, to ask the Lord of Brusiloff to come in person to
negotiate. Chernota still shouted and protested; but the colonel fixed
threatening eyes on him and said,--

"You, Chernota, Colonel of Gadyach, call for war and bloodshed; but
when the light cavalry of Dmukhovski advanced upon you at Korsún, you
squealed like a little pig, 'Oh, brothers, my own brothers, save me!'
and you ran away in the face of your whole regiment."

"You lie!" roared Chernota. "I am not afraid of the Poles, nor of you."

Krechovski squeezed the baton in his hand and sprang toward Chernota;
others began also to belabor the Gadyach colonel with their fists. The
tumult increased. On the square the Brotherhood bellowed like a herd of
wild bulls.

Then Hmelnitski himself rose a second time.

"Gentlemen, colonels, friends," said he, "you have decided to send
envoys to Warsaw, to mention our faithful services to his most serene
Majesty the King, and to ask for a reward. But also whoever wishes war
may have it,--not with the king nor the Commonwealth, for we have never
carried on war with either, but with our greatest enemy, who is now red
with Cossack blood, who at Starets bathed himself in it, and still does
not cease to bathe himself, and continues in his hatred of the
Zaporojian armies; to whom I sent a letter and envoys asking him to
abandon that hatred, but who cruelly murdered my envoys, gave no answer
to me, not paying respect to your chief, through which he is guilty of
contempt against the whole Zaporojian army. And now, having come from
the Trans-Dnieper, he has destroyed Pogrébische, punishing innocent
people, for whom I have shed bitter tears. From Pogrébische, as I was
informed this morning, he marched to Nyemiroff, and left no person
alive there. And since the Tartars from fear and terror will not march
against him, he will be seen soon on the way to destroy us here,
innocent people, against the will of our affectionate king and the
whole Commonwealth; for in his insolence he regards no man, and as he
is now rebelling, so is he always ready to rebel against the will of
his Majesty the King."

It grew very still in the assembly; Hmelnitski drew breath and spoke

"God has rewarded us with a victory over the hetmans, but Yeremi is
worse than the hetmans and all the kinglets,--a son of Satan, living by
pure injustice. Against whom I should march myself were it not that in
Warsaw he would begin to cry, through his friends, that I do not want
peace, and blacken our innocence before the king. That this should not
happen, it is necessary that his Majesty the King and the whole
Commonwealth should know that I do not want war, that I am sitting here
in quiet, and that he first comes on us with war. Therefore I am not
able to move, I must remain for negotiations with the voevoda of
Bratslav. That he, devil's son, should not break our power, it is
necessary to make a stand against him and destroy his power as we did
that of our enemies, those gentlemen, the hetmans at Jóltiya Vodi and
Korsún. Therefore I ask some of you to go against him of your own will,
and I will write to the king that that took place aside from me, and
for our absolute defence against the hatred and attacks of

Profound silence reigned in the assembly. Hmelnitski continued:--

"To whomsoever wishes to go on this undertaking I will give men enough,
good men, and I will give cannon and artillerists, so that with God's
aid he may sweep aside our enemy and gain a victory over him."

But not one of the colonels stepped forward.

"Sixty thousand chosen men I will give," said crafty Hmelnitski.

Silence. And they were all fearless warriors, whose battle-shouts had
echoed more than once around the walls of Tsargrad.[12] And perhaps for
this very reason each one of them feared to lose the glory he
possessed, by meeting the terrible Yeremi.

Hmelnitski eyed the colonels, who under the influence of that glance
looked to the ground. The face of Vygovski put on a look of satanic

"I know a hero," said Hmelnitski, mournfully, "who would speak at this
moment, and not avoid this work, but he is not among us."

"Bogun!" exclaimed some voices.

"Yes. He has already swept away Yeremi's garrison at Vassílyevka; but
they wounded him in the engagement, and he lies now in Cherkasi
struggling with Mother Death. And since he is not here, there is no one
here as I see. Where is Cossack renown? Where are the Pavlyuks, the
Nalivaikas, the Lobodas, and the Ostranitsas?"

A short, thick man, with a blue and gloomy face, and a mustache red as
fire over a crooked mouth, and with green eyes, rose from the bench,
pushed forward toward Hmelnitski, and said, "I will go." This was
Maksim Krívonos.

Shouts of "Glory to him!" rose in thunder; but he stood with his baton
at his side, and spoke with a hoarse and halting voice,--

"Do not think, Hetman, that I feel fear. I should have stood up at
first, but I thought, 'There are better than I!' But matters being as
they are, I will go. Who are you? [turning to the colonels]. You are
the heads and the hands; but I have no head, only hands and a sword.
Once my mother bore me! War is my mother and my sister. Vishnyevetski
slaughters, I will slaughter; he hangs, and I will hang. But you,
Hetman, give me good warriors; for with a mob you can do nothing with
Vishnyevetski. And so I go to take castles, kill, slaughter, hang!
Death to the white hands!"

Another ataman stepped forward. "I will go with you, Maksim." This was

"And Chernota of Gadyach, and Gladki of Mirgorod, and Nosach will go
with you," said Hmelnitski.

"We will," said they, in one voice; for the example of Krívonos roused
them, and courage entered them.

"Against Yeremi, against Yeremi!" thundered shouts through the
assembly. "Cut! slay!" repeated the Brotherhood; and after a time the
council became a carousal. The regiments assigned to Krívonos drank
deeply, for they were going to death. They knew this well themselves,
but there was no fear in their hearts. "Once our mother bore us!"
repeated they after their leader; and on this account they spared
nothing on themselves, as is usual before death. Hmelnitski permitted
and encouraged this; the crowd followed their example. The legions
began to sing songs in a hundred thousand voices. Horses let loose and
prancing through the camp raised clouds of dust, and caused
indescribable disorder. They were chased with cries and shouts and
laughter. Great crowds loitered along the river, fired muskets, crowded
and pushed to the quarters of the hetman himself, who finally ordered
Yakubovich to drive them away. Then began fighting and confusion, till
a drenching rain drove them all to the wagons and tents.

In the evening a storm burst forth in the sky. Thunder rolled from one
end of the clouds, to the other; lightning flashed through the whole
country, now with white and now with ruddy blaze. In the light of these
flashes Krívonos marched out of camp at the head of sixty thousand
men,--some from the best warriors, the rest from the mob.

                             CHAPTER XXVII.

Krívonos marched then from Bélaya Tserkoff through Skvira and
Pogrébische to Makhnovka. Wherever he passed, traces of human
habitation vanished. Whoever did not join him perished under the knife.
Grain was burned standing, with forests and gardens. At the same time
the prince carried annihilation in his hand. After the razing of
Pogrébische, and the baptism of blood which Pan Baranovski gave to
Nyemiroff, the prince's army destroyed a number of other considerable
bands, and halted in camp at Raigorod, where during a month they
scarcely got off their horses. They were weakened by toil, and death
had decreased them notably. Rest was necessary, for the hands of these
reapers in the harvest of blood had relaxed. The prince wavered,
therefore, and thought whether it would not be better to go for a time
to a more peaceable region to rest and recruit his forces, especially
his horses, which were more like skeletons of beasts than living
creatures, since they had not eaten grain for a month, subsisting only
on trampled grass.

But after they had halted a week tidings were brought that
reinforcements were coming. The prince went out to meet them, and
really met Pan Yanush Tishkyevich, the voevoda of Kieff, who came with
fifteen hundred good men, and with him Pan Krishtof Tishkyevich,
under-judge of Bratslav; young Pan Aksak, quite a youth yet, but with a
well-armed company of his own; and many nobles, such as the Senyuts,
the Palubinskis, the Jitinskis, the Yelovitskis, the Kyerdéis, the
Boguslavskis,--some with escorts, others without. The entire force
formed nearly two thousand horse, besides attendants.

The prince was greatly pleased, and invited thankfully to his quarters
the voevoda, who could not cease wondering at the poverty and
simplicity of the place. For the prince, by so much as he lived like a
king in Lubni, by that much did he permit himself no comfort in the
field, wishing to give an example to the soldiers. He lived therefore
in one room, which the voevoda of Kieff, squeezing through the narrow
door, was hardly able to enter, by reason of his enormous thickness,
till he ordered his attendant to push him from behind. In the cottage,
besides the table, wooden benches, and a bed covered with horse-skin,
there was nothing except a little room near the door, in which an
attendant slept, always ready for service. This simplicity greatly
astonished the voevoda, who lived in comfort and carried carpets with
him. He entered finally, and gazed with curiosity on the prince,
wondering how so great a spirit could find its place in such simplicity
and poverty. He had seen Yeremi from time to time at the Diets in
Warsaw, was in fact a distant relative of his, but did not know him
intimately. Now, when he began to speak with him, he recognized at once
that he had to do with an extraordinary man; and he, an old senator and
soldier, who used to clap his senatorial colleagues on the shoulders,
and say to Prince Dominik Zaslavski, "My dear," and was familiar with
the king himself, could not attain familiarity like this with
Vishnyevetski, though the prince received him kindly, for he was
thankful for the reinforcements.

"Worthy voevoda," said he, "praise be to God that you have come with
your people, for I have worked here to my last breath."

"I have noticed, by your soldiers, that they have worked, poor fellows,
which disturbs me not a little, for I have come with the request that
you hasten to save me."

"And is there hurry?"

"Periculum in mora, periculum in mora! Ruffians to the number of
several thousand have appeared, with Krívonos at their head, who, as I
have heard, was sent against you; but having received information that
you had moved on Konstantinoff, he went there, and on the road has
invested Makhnovka, and has wrought such desolation that no tongue can
describe it."

"I have heard of Krívonos, and waited for him here; but since I find
that he has missed me, I must seek him. Really the affair will not bide
delay. Is there a strong garrison in Makhnovka?"

"There are two hundred Germans in the castle, very good men, who will
hold out yet for some time. But the worst is, that many nobles have
assembled in the town with their families, and the place is fortified
only by earthworks and palisades, and cannot resist long."

"In truth, the affair suffers no delay," repeated the prince. Then
turning to his attendant, he said: "Jelenksi, run for the colonels!"

The voevoda of Kieff was sitting meanwhile on a bench, and panting. He
had some expectation of supper; for he was hungry, and liked good

Presently the tramp of armed men was heard, and the prince's officers
entered,--black, thin, bearded, with sunken eyes, with traces of
indescribable labor on their faces. They bowed in silence to the prince
and his guests, and waited for his words.

"Gentlemen, are the horses at their places?"

"Yes, ready as always."

"It is well. In an hour we will move on Krívonos."

"Hi!" said the voevoda of Kieff; and he looked in wonderment at Pan
Kryshtof, the sub-judge of Bratslav.

The prince continued: "Ponyatovski and Vershul will march first; after
them Baranovski will go with his dragoons, and in an hour we will move
with the cannon of Vurtsel."

The colonels bowed and left the room, and soon the trumpets were heard
sounding to horse. The voevoda of Kieff did not expect such haste, and
did not indeed wish it, since he was hungry and tired. He counted on
resting about a day with the prince, and then moving. Now he would have
to mount his horse at once, without sleeping or eating.

"But, your Highness," said he, "are your soldiers able to reach
Makhnovka? I see they are terribly tired, and the road is a long one."

"Don't let your head ache over that. They go to a battle as to a

"I see that; I see they are sulphurous fellows. But my men are

"You have just said, 'Periculum in mora.'"

"Yes; but we might rest for the night. We have come from near Hmelnik."

"Worthy voevoda, we have come from Lubni and the Trans-Dnieper."

"We were a whole day on the road."

"We a whole month."

The prince went out to arrange in person the order of march. The
voevoda stared at the under-judge, struck his palms on his knees, and

"Ah! I have got what I wanted, you see. As God lives, he will kill me
with hunger. Here is swimming in hot water for you! I come for aid, and
think that after great solicitation they will move in two or three
days; but now they won't give us time to draw breath. May the devil
take them! The stirrup-strap has galled my leg; my traitor of an
attendant buckled it badly. My stomach is empty. The devil take them!
Makhnovka is Makhnovka; but my stomach is my stomach. I am an old
soldier, have fought in more wars probably than he has, but never in
such helter-skelter fashion. Those are devils, not men; they don't eat,
don't sleep,--just fight. As God is dear to me, they never eat
anything. They look like ghosts, don't they?"

"Yes; but they have fiery courage," answered Pan Kryshtof, who was in
love with soldier life. "God bless us, what disorder and tumult in
other camps when it comes to marching--how much running, arranging
wagons, sending for horses! But now, do you hear? the light cavalry is
on the march."

"Is it possible? Why, this is terrible," said the voevoda.

But young Pan Aksak clasped his boyish hands. "Ah, that is a mighty
leader!" said he in ecstasy.

"Oh, there is milk under your nose!" snapped the voevoda. "Cunctator
too was a great leader! Do you understand?"

At this moment the prince came in. "Gentlemen, to horse! We march."

The voevoda did not restrain himself. "Order something for us to eat.
Prince, for I am hungry," cried he, in an outburst of ill-humor.

"Oh, my worthy voevoda," said the prince, laughing and taking hold of
him by the shoulder, "forgive me, forgive me! With all my heart. But in
war one forgets these things."

"Well, Pan Kryshtof, haven't I told you that they don't eat?" asked the
voevoda, turning to the under-judge of Bratslav.

The supper did not last long, and a couple of hours later even the
infantry had left Raigorod. The army marched through Vinnitsa and Litin
to Hmelnik; on the way Vershul met a Tartar party in Saverovka, which
he and Volodyovski destroyed, and freed a few hundred captives,--almost
all young women. There began the ruined country; all around were traces
of the hand of Krívonos. Strijavka was burned, and its population put
to death in a terrible manner. Apparently the unfortunates had resisted
Krívonos; therefore the savage chief had delivered them to sword and
flame. On an oak-tree at the entrance to the village hung Pan
Strijovski himself, whom Tishkyevich's men recognized at once. He was
entirely naked, and had around his neck an enormous necklace of heads
strung on a rope; they were the heads of his wife and six children.
Everything in the village itself was burned to the ground. They saw on
both sides of the road a long row of "Cossack candles,"--that is,
people with hands raised above their heads, and tied to stakes driven
into the ground, wound around with straw steeped in pitch and set on
fire at the hands. The greater part of them had only their hands
burned, for the rain had evidently stopped the further burning. But
those bodies were terrible, with their distorted faces and black stumps
of hands stretched to heaven. The odor of putrefaction spread round
about. Above the stakes whirled circles of ravens and crows, which at
the approach of the troops flew away with an uproar from the nearer
stakes to sit on the farther ones. A number of wolves galloped off
before the regiments to the thicket. The men marched on in silence
through the alley, and counted the "candles." There were between three
and four hundred of them.

They passed at length that unfortunate village, and breathed the fresh
air of the field. But traces of destruction extended farther. It was
the first half of July. The grain was almost ripe, for an early harvest
was looked for. But entire fields were partly burned, partly trampled,
tangled, trodden into the earth. It might have been thought that a
hurricane had passed over the land. In fact, the most terrible of all
hurricanes had passed,--civil war. The soldiers of the prince had seen
more than once rich neighborhoods ruined by Tartar raids; but such a
storm, such mad destruction, they had never seen. Forests were burned
as well as grain. Where fire had not devoured the trees the bark and
leaves were swept from them by a tongue of fire; they were scorched by
its breath, smoked, blackened, and the tree-trunk stuck up like a
skeleton. The voevoda of Kieff looked, and could not believe his eyes.
Maidyanóe, Zbar,--villages, houses,--nothing but burned ruins! On one
side and another the men had run off to Krívonos; the women and
children had been taken captive by that part of the horde which Vershul
and Volodyovski had crushed out. On the earth a wilderness; in the air
flocks of ravens, crows, jackdaws, and vultures, which had flown
hither, God knows whence, to the Cossack harvest. Fresher traces of the
passage of troops were seen each moment. From time to time they came
upon broken wagons, bodies of cattle and men not yet decayed, broken
cups, brass kettles, bags of wet flour, ruins still smoking, stacks of
grain recently begun and left unfinished.

The prince urged his regiments on to Hmelnik without drawing breath.
The old voevoda seized himself by the head, repeating sadly,--

"My Makhnovka, my Makhnovka! I see we shall not come in time."

Meanwhile news was brought to Hmelnik that Makhnovka was besieged, not
by old Krívonos himself, but by his son with several thousand men, and
that it was he who had committed such inhuman devastations along the
road. The place was already taken, according to accounts. The Cossacks
on capturing it had cut to pieces the nobles and the Jews, and taken
the women of the nobles to camp, where a fate worse than death awaited
them. But the castle, under the leadership of Pan Lyeff, held out yet.
The Cossacks stormed it from the Bernardine monastery, in which they
had put the monks to death. Pan Lyeff, using all his strength and
powder, gave no hope of holding out longer than one night.

The prince therefore left the infantry, the guns, and the main strength
of the army, which he ordered to go to Bystrika, and galloped on to the
relief with the voevoda, Pan Kryshtof, Pan Aksak, and two thousand
soldiers. The old voevoda was for delay, for he had lost his head.

"Makhnovka is lost! We shall arrive too late! We would better leave it,
defend other places, and provide them with garrisons."

But the prince would not listen to him. The under-judge of Bratslav
urged the advance, and the troops rushed to the fight.

"Since we have come thus far, we will not leave without blood," said
the colonels; and they went on.

About two miles and a half from Makhnovka a few riders, moving as fast
as their horses could carry them, halted in front of the troops. It was
Pan Lyeff and his companions. Seeing him, the voevoda of Kieff guessed
at once what had happened.

"The castle is taken!" he cried.

"It is!" answered Pan Lyeff; and that moment he fainted, for he was cut
with swords, was shot through, and had lost much blood. But the others
began to tell what had taken place. The Germans on the wall were cut
down to the last man, for they preferred to die rather than yield. Pan
Lyeff had forced his way through the thick of the mob and the broken
gates. In the rooms of the tower a few tens of nobles were defending
themselves; to those speedy succor should be given.

The cavalry swept on with all speed. Soon the town and castle were
visible on a hill, and above them a dense cloud of smoke from the fire
which had already begun. The day was coming to an end. The sky was
flushed with gigantic golden and purple lights, which the troops
mistook at once for a conflagration. By these flashes the Zaporojian
regiments could be seen, and dense masses of a mob rushing through the
gates to meet the Polish troops,--the more confidently since no one in
the town knew of the approach of Yeremi. It was supposed that the
voevoda of Kieff alone was marching with succor. It was evident that
vudka had blinded them entirely, or the recent capture of the castle
had inspired them with immeasurable insolence; for they descended the
hill boldly, and only when they had reached the plain did they form for
battle, which they did with great readiness, thundering with their
drums and trumpets. In view of this a shout of joy went up from every
Polish breast, and the voevoda of Kieff had an opportunity to admire a
second time the discipline of Vishnyevetski's troops. Halting in view
of the Cossacks, they formed at once in battle-array, the heavy cavalry
in the centre, the light horse at the wings, so that there was no
necessity of man[oe]uvres, they could begin on the spot.

"Oh, Pan Kryshtof, what men!" said the voevoda. "They fell into order
at once; they could give battle without a leader."

But the prince, like a provident chief, flew, with baton in hand,
between the companies, examined, and gave final orders. The evening
twilight was reflected on his silver armor, and he was like a bright
flame flying between the ranks, he alone glistening amid the dark

Three regiments formed the centre of the foremost line. The first of
these was led by the voevoda of Kieff himself, the second by young Pan
Aksak, the third by Pan Kryshtof Tishkyevich; after these, in the
second line, were the dragoons under Baranovski, and finally the
gigantic hussars of the prince, led by Pan Yan. Vershul, Kushel, and
Ponyatovski occupied the wings. There were no cannon, for Vurtsel had
remained in Bystrika. The prince galloped to the voevoda, motioned with
his baton, and said,--

"Do you begin, because of the injustice done you!"

The voevoda in turn waved his hand; the soldiers bent in their saddles
and moved on. It was evident at once by his style of leadership that
the voevoda, though heavy and dilatory,--for he was bent with age,--was
an experienced and valiant soldier. To spare his troops he did not
start them at the highest speed, but led them slowly, quickening the
march as he approached the enemy. He went himself in the front rank,
with baton in hand; his attendant merely carried his long and heavy
sword, but not heavy for the hand of the old voevoda. The mob on foot
hurried with scythes and flails against the cavalry, in order to
restrain the first impetus and lighten the attack for the Zaporojians.
When they were separated by only a few tens of yards, the people of
Makhnovka recognized the voevoda by his gigantic stature and
corpulence, and began to cry out,--

"Hi! serene great mighty voevoda, the harvest is near; why don't you
order out your subjects? Our respects, serene lord! We will perforate
that stomach of yours."

They sent a shower of bullets on the cavalry, but without harm, for the
horses were going like a whirlwind and struck mightily. The clatter of
flails and the sound of scythes were heard on the armor; then cries and
groans. The lances opened a way in the dense mass of the mob, through
which the infuriated horses rushed like a tempest, trampling,
overturning, mashing. And as on the meadow when a rank of mowers
advance, the rich grass disappears before them and they go on swinging
the handles of their scythes, just so did the broad avalanche of the
mob contract, melt, disappear, pushed by the breasts of horses. Unable
to keep their places, they began to waver. Then thundered the shout,
"Save yourselves!" and the whole mass, throwing down scythes, flails,
forks, guns, rushed back in wild dismay on the Zaporojian regiments
behind. But the Zaporojians, fearing lest the fleeing throng should
disorder their ranks, placed their lances against them; the mob, seeing
this resistance, rushed with a howl of despair to both sides, but were
immediately hurled back by Kushel and Ponyatovski, who had just moved
from the wings of the prince's division.

The voevoda, now riding over the bodies of the mob, was in the front of
the Zaporojians and rushed toward them. They too rushed at him, wishing
to answer momentum with momentum. They struck each other like two waves
going in opposite directions, which when they meet form a foaming
ridge. So horses rose before horses, the riders like a wave, the swords
above the wave like foam. The voevoda discovered that he was not
working with a mob now, but with stern and trained Zaporojian warriors.
The two lines pressed each other mutually, bent, neither being able to
break the other. Bodies fell thickly, for there man met man, and steel
struck steel. The voevoda himself, putting his baton under his belt,
and taking the sword from his attendant, worked in the sweat of his
brow, puffing like a blacksmith's bellows. And with him the two
Senyuts, the Kyerdéis, the Boguslavskis, the Yelovitskis, and the
Polubinskis wriggled as if in boiling water.

But on the Cossack side the fiercest of all was Ivan Burdabut, the
lieutenant-colonel of the Kalnik regiment, a Cossack of gigantic
strength and stature. He was the more terrible because he had a horse
which fought as well as its master. More than one man reined in his
steed and drew back so as not to meet that centaur spreading death and
desolation. The brothers Senyut sprang at him; but the horse caught in
its teeth the face of Andrei the younger and mashed it in the twinkle
of an eye. Seeing this, the elder brother, Rafal, struck the beast
above the eyes; he wounded, but did not kill it, for the sabre hit the
great bronze button on the forehead of the horse. At that moment
Burdabut plunged a weapon under the beard of Senyut, and deprived him
of life. So fell the two brothers, and lay in their gilded armor in the
dust, under the hoofs of horses; but Burdabut rushed on like a flame to
more distant ranks, and struck in a flash the attendant of Prince
Polubinski, a sixteen-year-old stripling, whose right shoulder he cut
off together with the arm. Seeing this, Pan Urbanski, wishing to avenge
the death of a relative, tired at Burdabut in the very face, but
missed,--only shot away his ear and dashed him with blood. Terrible
then was Burdabut with his horse, both black as night, both covered
with blood, both with wild eyes and distended nostrils, raging like a
tempest. And Pan Urbanski did not escape death; for like an
executioner, Burdabut cut off his head with a blow, and the head of old
Jitinski in his eightieth year, and the heads of the two Nikchemnis,
each with one stroke. Others began to draw back with terror, especially
as behind the Cossack gleamed a hundred Zaporojian sabres, and a
hundred lances, already moistened in blood.

The furious chief saw at last the voevoda, and giving an awful shout of
joy, hurried toward him, hurling down horses and riders in his path.
But the voevoda did not retreat. Trusting in his uncommon strength,
puffing like a wounded wild boar, he raised the sword above his head
and urging on his horse rushed to Burdabut. His end would have come
without doubt,--and Fate had already caught in her shears the thread of
his life, which she afterward cut in Okra--had not Silnitski, his
sword-bearer, hurled himself like lightning on the Cossack and seized
him by the waist before his sword was satisfied. While Burdabut was
putting him aside, the Kyerdéis shouted, summoning assistance for the
voevoda; several tens of people sprang forth at once, and separated him
from Burdabut. Then a stubborn fight set in. But the wearied regiments
of the voevoda began to yield to greater Zaporojian strength, draw
back, and break ranks, when Pan Kryshtof, under-judge of Bratslav, and
Pan Aksak hurried up with fresh regiments. True, new Cossack regiments
rushed in at that moment to the fight; but still below stood the
prince, with the dragoons of Baranovski and the hussars of Skshetuski,
who had taken no part as yet in the action.

Then the bloody conflict raged anew. Darkness had already fallen, but
flames had caught the outer houses of the town. The fire lighted the
field of struggle, and both lines, Polish and Cossack, were seen
distinctly pounding each other at the foot of the hill; the colors of
the standards could be seen, and even the faces of the men. Vershul,
Ponyatovski, and Kushel had already been in fire and action; for having
finished with the mob, they struck the Cossack wings, which under their
pressure began to move toward the hill. The long line of combatants
bent its ends toward the town, and began to extend out more and more;
for when the Polish wings advanced, the centre, pressed by superior
Cossack power, retreated toward the prince. Three new Cossack regiments
went to break it; but at that moment the prince pushed on Baranovski's
dragoons, and these raised the strength of the combatants.

The hussars alone remained with the prince. From a distance they seemed
like a dark grove growing straight from the ground,--a terrible
avalanche of iron men, horses, and lances. The breeze of evening
stirred the banners above their heads, and they stood quietly, not
fretting for battle before the issue of command; patient, for trained
and experienced in many a fight they knew that their portion of blood
would not miss them. The prince, in his silver armor, with gilded baton
in hand, strained his eyes toward the battle; and on the left wing
Skshetuski, standing a little sideways at the end,--being lieutenant,
his sleeve was rolled up on his shoulder,--with arm bare to the elbow,
and holding in his powerful hand a broadsword instead of a baton,
waited calmly for the order.

The prince shaded with his left hand his eyes from the glare of the
burning. The centre of the Polish half-circle retreated gradually
toward him, overborne by superior power which was not long kept back by
Pan Baranovski,--the same who had razed Nyemiroff. The prince saw, as
if on his hand, the heavy work of the soldiers. The long lightning of
sabres raised itself above the black line of heads, then vanished in
the blows. Riderless horses dropped out of that avalanche of
combatants, and neighing ran along the plain with floating mane; the
flames of the burning for a background, they were like beasts of hell.
The red banner floating for a time over the throng fell suddenly to
rise no more; but the eye of the prince ran along the line of combat as
far as the hill toward the town, where at the head of two picked
regiments stood young Krívonos, waiting the moment to hurl himself on
the centre and break the weakened ranks of the Poles.

At length he started, running with a terrible shout straight on the
dragoons of Baranovski; but the prince was waiting for that moment too.

"Lead on!" cried he to Skshetuski.

Skshetuski raised his broadsword, and the iron host shot past.

They did not run long, for the line of battle had approached them
considerably. Baranovski's dragoons opened to the right and left with
lightning speed to clear a way for the hussars against the Cossacks.
The hussars swept through this pass with their whole momentum against
the victorious companies of Krívonos.

"Yeremi! Yeremi!" shouted the hussars.

"Yeremi!" repeated the whole army.

The terrible name contracted the hearts of the Zaporojians with a
shudder of fear. In that moment they learned for the first time that it
was not the voevoda of Kieff who was leading, but the prince himself.
Besides, they were unable to resist the hussars, who crushed them with
their weight as falling walls crush people standing beneath. The only
safety for them was to open toward both sides, let the hussars through,
and then strike them on the flanks; but those flanks were already
guarded by the dragoons and light horse of Vershul, Kushel, and
Ponyatovski, who, having dislodged the Cossack wings, pushed them to
the centre. Now the form of battle changed, for the light regiments
became as it were the two sides of a street, along the centre of which
flew the hussars with wild impetus, driving, breaking, pushing,
overturning men and horses; and before them fled bellowing and howling
the Cossacks to the hill and the town. If the wing of Vershul had been
able to join the wing of Ponyatovski, the Cossacks would have been
surrounded and cut to pieces; but neither Vershul nor Ponyatovski could
make the junction by reason of the exceeding rush of fugitives, whom
they struck, however, at the flanks till their arms grew weak from

Young Krívonos, though valiant and furious, when he understood that his
own inexperience had to meet such a leader as the prince, lost presence
of mind and fled at the head of others to the town. Pan Kushel, who was
nearsighted, standing at the flank, saw the fugitive, urged on his
horse, and gave the young leader a sabre-stroke in the face. He did not
kill him, for his helmet turned the sword-edge; but he sprinkled him
with blood and deprived him still more of courage. He came near paying
for the deed with his life, for that moment Burdabut turned on him with
the remnant of the Kalnik regiment.

Twice had Burdabut tried to make head against the hussars, but, twice
pushed back and beaten by a power as if supernatural, he was obliged to
give way with the rest. At last, having collected his men, he
determined to strike Kushel on the flank and burst through his dragoons
to the open field; but before he could break them the road to the town
and the hill was so packed with people that a quick retreat became
impossible. The hussars, in view of this press of men, restrained their
onset, and having broken their lances, began to hew with swords. Then
there was a struggle, confused, disorderly, furious, merciless,
seething in the press, uproar, and heat, amid the steam from men and
horses. Body fell upon body, horses' hoofs sank in the quivering
flesh. At points the masses were so dense that there was no room for
sabre-strokes; so they fought with the hilts, with knives, with fists.
Horses began to whine. Here and there voices were heard: "Mercy,
Poles!" These voices grew louder, increased, outsounded the clash of
swords, the bite of iron on the bones of men, the groans and the
terrible death-rattle of the perishing. "Mercy, mercy!" was heard with
increasing plaintiveness; but mercy shone not above that avalanche of
stragglers as the sun above a storm; only the flames of the town shone
above them.

But Burdabut at the head of the men of Kalnik asked for no mercy. He
lacked room for battle. He opened a way with his dagger. He met the big
Pan Dzik, and punching him in the stomach rolled him from his horse.
Dzik, crying, "O Jesus!" raised himself no more from under the hoofs
which tore out his entrails. There was room enough at once. Burdabut
laid open with his sabre the head and helmet of Sokolski; then he
brought down, together with their horses, Pans Priyam and Chertovich,
and there was still more room. Young Zenobius Skalski slashed at his
head, but the sabre turned in his hand and struck with its side.
Burdabut gave Skalski a back-hand blow with his left fist in the face,
and killed him on the spot. The men of Kalnik followed him, cutting and
stabbing with their daggers. "A wizard! a wizard!" the hussars began to
cry out. "Iron cannot harm him! he is frantic!" He had foam on his
mustaches, and rage in his eyes. At last Burdabut saw Skshetuski, and
recognizing an officer by the upturned sleeve, rushed upon him.

All held their breaths, and the battle stopped, looking at the struggle
of the two terrible knights. Pan Yan was not frightened at the cry of
"Wizard;" but anger boiled in his breast at the sight of so much
destruction. He ground his teeth and pushed on the enemy with fury. The
horses of both were thrown on their haunches. The whistle of steel was
heard, and suddenly the sabre of the Cossack flew into pieces under the
blow of the Polish sword. It seemed as if no power could save Burdabut,
when he sprang and grappled with Skshetuski, so that both appeared to
form one body, and a knife gleamed above the throat of the hussar.

Death stood before the eyes of Pan Yan at that moment, for he could not
use his sword. But quick as lightning he dropped the sword, which hung
by a strap, and seized the hand of the enemy in his own. For a while
the two hands trembled convulsively in the air; but iron must have been
the grip of Pan Yan, for the Cossack howled like a wolf, and before the
eyes of all the knife fell from his stiffened fingers as grain is
squeezed out of its husk. Skshetuski let drop the crushed hand, and
grasping the Cossack by the shoulder bent his terrible forehead to the
pummel of the saddle, then drawing with his left hand the baton from
his own belt, he struck once, twice. Burdabut coughed, and fell from
his horse.

At the sight of this the men of Kalnik groaned and hastened to take
vengeance. Now the hussars sprang forward and cut them to pieces.

At the other end of the hussar avalanche the battle did not cease for a
moment, for the throng was less dense. Pan Longin, girt with Anusia's
scarf, raged with his broadsword. The morning after the battle the
knights looked with wonder on those places, pointing out shoulders cut
off with armor, heads split from the forehead to the beard, bodies cut
into halves, an entire road of men and horses. They whispered to one
another, "See, Podbipienta fought here!" The prince himself examined
the bodies; and though that morning he was very much afflicted by
various reports, he wondered, for he had never seen such blows in his

But meanwhile the battle seemed to approach its end. The heavy cavalry
pushed on again, driving before it the Zaporojian regiments which were
seeking refuge in the direction of the hill and the town. The regiments
of Kushel and Ponyatovski barred return to the fugitives. Surrounded on
all sides, they defended themselves to the very last; but with their
death they saved others, for two hours later when Volodyovski entered
the place in advance with his Tartars of the guard, he did not find a
single Cossack. The enemy, taking advantage of the darkness,--for rain
had put out the fire,--had seized the empty wagons of the town in a
hurry, and forming a train with that quickness peculiar to Cossacks
alone, left the town, passed the river, and destroyed the bridges
behind them.

The few tens of nobles who had defended themselves in the castle were
liberated. Then the prince commanded Vershul to punish the townspeople
who had joined the Cossacks, and set out in pursuit of the enemy
himself. But he could not capture the tabor without cannon and
infantry. The enemy having gained time by burning the bridges, for it
was necessary to go far along the river around a dam to cross,
disappeared so quickly that the wearied horses of the prince's cavalry
were barely able to come up with them. Still the Cossacks, though
famous for fighting in tabors, did not defend themselves so bravely as
usual. The terrible certainty that the prince himself was pursuing
them, so deprived them of courage that they despaired of escape
altogether. Their end would surely have come,--for after a whole
night's firing Baranovski had seized forty wagons and two cannon,--had
it not been for the voevoda of Kieff, who opposed further pursuit and
withdrew his men. Between him and the prince sharp words arose, which
were heard by many of the colonels.

"Why do you," asked the prince, "wish to let the enemy escape, when you
showed such bravery against them in battle? The glory which you won
yesterday, you have lost to-day by negligence."

"I do not know," said the voevoda, "what spirit lives in you, but I am
a man of flesh and blood. After labor I need rest; so do my men. I
shall always attack the enemy as I have to-day, when they present a
front, but I will not pursue them when defeated and fleeing."

"Cut them to pieces!" shouted the prince.

"What will come of that work?" asked the voevoda. "If we destroy these
people, the elder Krívonos will come, burn, destroy, kill, as his son
has in Strijavka, and innocent people will suffer for our rage."

"Oh, I see," said the prince, with anger, "you belong with the
chancellor and with those commanders of theirs, to the peace faction,
which would put down rebellion through negotiations; but, by the living
God, nothing will come of that as long as I have a sabre in my fist!"

To this Tishkyevich answered: "I belong not to a faction, but to
God,--for I am an old man, and shall soon have to stand before him; and
be not surprised if I do not wish to have too great a burden of blood,
shed in civil war, weighing me down. If you are angry because the
command passed you by, then I say that for bravery the command belonged
to you rightly. Still perhaps it is better that they did not give it to
you, for you would have drowned not the rebellion alone in blood, but
with it this unhappy country."

The Jupiter brows of Yeremi contracted, his neck swelled, and his eyes
began to throw out such lightning that all present were alarmed for the
voevoda; but at that moment Pan Yan approached quickly, and said,--

"Your Highness, there is news of the elder Krívonos."

Immediately the thoughts of the prince were turned in another
direction, and his anger against the voevoda decreased. In the mean
while four men were brought in who had come with tidings. Two of them
were orthodox priests, who on seeing the prince threw themselves on
their knees before him.

"Save us! save us!" cried they, stretching their hands to him.

"Whence do you come?"

"We are from Polónnoe. The elder Krívonos has invested the castle and
the town; if your sabre is not raised above his neck, we shall all

The prince answered: "I know that a mass of people have taken refuge
there in Polónnoe, but mostly Russians, as I am informed. Your merit
before God is that instead of joining the rebellion you oppose it and
remain with your mother the Commonwealth; still I fear some treason on
your part, such as I found in Nyemiroff."

Thereupon the envoys began to swear by all the saints in heaven that
they were waiting for him as a savior, as prince, and that there was
not a thought of treason in them. They spoke the truth; for Krívonos,
having surrounded them with fifty thousand men, vowed their destruction
for this special reason,--that, being Russians, they would not join the

The prince promised them aid; but since his main forces were in
Bystrika, he was obliged to wait. The envoys went away with consolation
in their hearts. The prince turned to the voevoda, and said,--

"Pardon me! I see now that we must let the young Krívonos go, so as to
catch the old one. I judge therefore that you will not leave me in this

"Of course not!" answered the voevoda.

Then the trumpets sounded the retreat to the regiments who had followed
the Cossacks. It was necessary to rest and eat, and let the horses draw
breath. In the evening a whole division arrived from Bystrika, and with
it Pan Stakhovich, an envoy from the voevoda of Bratslav. Pan Kisel
wrote the prince a letter full of homage, saying that like a second
Marius he was saving the country from the last abyss; he wrote also of
the joy which the arrival of the prince from the Trans-Dnieper roused
in all hearts, and wished him success; but at the end of the letter
appeared the reason for which it was written. Kisel stated that
negotiations had been begun, that he with other commissioners was going
to Bélaya Tserkoff, and had hopes of restraining and satisfying
Hmelnitski. Finally he begged the prince not to press so hard on the
Cossacks before negotiations, and to desist from military action as far
as possible.

If the prince had been told that all his Trans-Dnieper possessions were
destroyed, and all the towns levelled to the earth, he would not have
been pained so acutely as he was over that letter. Skshetuski,
Baranovski, Zatsvilikhovski, the two Tishkyevichi, and the Kyerdéis
were present. The prince covered his eyes with his hands, and pushed
back his head as if an arrow had struck him in the heart.

"Disgrace! disgrace! God grant me to die rather than behold such

Deep silence reigned among those present, and the prince continued,--

"I do not wish to live in this Commonwealth, for to-day I must be
ashamed of it. The Cossack and the peasant mob have poured blood on the
country, and joined pagandom against their own mother. The hetmans are
beaten, the armies swept away. The fame of the nation is trampled upon,
its majesty insulted, churches are burned, priests and nobles cut down,
women dishonored, and what answer does the Commonwealth give to all
these defeats and this shame, at the very remembrance of which our
ancestors would have died? Here it is! She begins negotiations with the
traitor, the disgracer, the ally of the Pagan, and offers him
satisfaction. Oh, God grant me death! I repeat it, since there is no
life in the world for us who feel the dishonor of our country and bring
our heads as a sacrifice for it."

The voevoda of Kieff was silent, and the under-judge of Bratslav
answered after a while,--

"Pan Kisel does not compose the Commonwealth."

"Do not speak to me of Pan Kisel," said the prince; "for I know well
that he has a whole party behind him. He has struck the mind of the
primate, the chancellor, and Prince Dominik, and many lords who to-day
in the interregnum bear rule in the Commonwealth and represent its
majesty, but rather disgrace it by weakness unworthy of a great people;
for this conflagration is to be quenched by blood, and not by
negotiations, since it is better for a knightly nation to perish than
to become low-lived and rouse the contempt of the whole world for

The prince again covered his eyes with his hands. The sight of that
pain and sorrow was so sad that the colonels knew not what to do by
reason of the tears that came into their eyes.

"Your Highness," Zatsvilikhovski made bold to say, "let them use their
tongues; we will continue to use our swords."

"True," answered the prince; "and my heart is rent with the thought of
what we shall do farther on. When we heard of the defeat of our country
we came through burning forests and impassable swamps, neither sleeping
nor eating, using the last power we had to save our mother from
destruction and disgrace. Our hands drop down from toil, hunger is
gnawing our entrails, wounds are torturing us, but we regard no toil if
we can only stop the enemy. They say that I am angry because command
has not come to me. Let the whole world judge if those are more fitted
for it who got it; but I, gentlemen, take God and you to witness that I
as well as you do not bring my blood in sacrifice for rewards and
dignities, but out of pure love for the country. But when we are giving
the last breath in our bodies, what do they tell us? Well, that the
gentlemen in Warsaw, and Pan Kisel in Gushchi are thinking of
satisfaction for our enemy. Infamy, infamy!"

"Kisel is a traitor!" cried Baranovski.

Thereupon Pan Stakhovich, a man of dignity and courage, rose, and
turning to Baranovski, said,--

"Being a friend of the voevoda of Bratslav, and an envoy from him, I
permit no man to call him a traitor. His beard too has grown gray from
trouble, and he serves his country according to his understanding,--it
may be mistakenly, but honorably!"

The prince did not hear this answer, for he was plunged in meditation
and in pain. Baranovski did not dare to pick a quarrel in his presence;
he only fastened his eyes steadily on Pan Stakhovich, as if wishing to
say, "I shall find you," and put his hand on his sword-hilt.

Meanwhile Yeremi recovered from his revery, and said gloomily: "There
is no other choice but to fail in upholding obedience (for during the
interregnum they are the government) or the honor of our country for
which we are laboring to devote--"

"From disobedience flows all the evil in the Commonwealth," said the
voevoda of Kieff, with seriousness.

"Are we therefore to permit the disgrace of our country? And if
to-morrow we are commanded to go with ropes around our necks to Tugai
Bey and Hmelnitski, are we to do that for obedience' sake?"

"Veto!" called Pan Kryshtof.

"Veto!" repeated Kyerdéi.

The prince turned to the colonels. "Speak, veterans!" said he.

Pan Zatsvilikhovski began: "Your Highness, I am seventy years old. I am
an orthodox Russian, I was a Cossack commissioner, and Hmelnitski
himself called me father, and ought rather to speak for negotiations;
but if I have to speak for _disgrace_ or _war_, then till I go to the
grave I shall say war!"

"War!" said Skshetuski.

"War, war!" repeated several voices, in fact those of all present.
"War, war!"

"Let it be according to your words," said the prince, seriously; and he
struck the open letter of Kisel with his baton.

                            CHAPTER XXVIII.

A day later, when the army halted in Ryltsoff, the prince summoned Pan
Yan and said,--

"Our forces are weak and worn out, but Krívonos has sixty thousand, and
his army is increasing every day, for the mob is coming to him.
Besides, I cannot, depend on the voevoda of Kieff, for he belongs at
heart to the peace party. He marches with me, it is true, but
unwillingly. We must have reinforcements from some source. I learned a
little while ago that not far from Konstantinoff there are two
colonels,--Osinski with the royal guard, and Koritski. Take one hundred
Cossacks of my guard, for safety, and go to these colonels with a
letter from me, asking them to come here without delay, for in a couple
of days I shall fall upon Krívonos. No one has acquitted himself of
important missions better than you, therefore I send you; and this is
an important mission."

Skshetuski bowed, and set out that evening for Konstantinoff, going at
night so as to pass unnoticed; for here and there the scouts of
Krívonos or squads of peasants were circling about. These formed robber
bands in the forests and on the roads; but the prince gave orders to
avoid battles, so that there should be no delay. Marching quietly
therefore, he reached Visovati at daylight, where he found both
colonels, and was greatly rejoiced at the sight of them. Osinski had a
picked regiment of dragoons of the guard, trained in foreign fashion,
and Germans. Koritski had a regiment of German infantry, composed
almost entirely of veterans of the Thirty Years' War. These were
soldiers so terrible and skilful that in the hands of the colonel they
acted like one swordsman. Both regiments were well armed and equipped.
When they heard of joining the prince, they raised shouts of joy at
once, as they were yearning for battles, and knew too that under no
other leader could they have so many. Unfortunately both colonels gave
a negative answer; for both belonged to the command of Prince Dominik
Zaslavski, and had strict orders not to join Vishnyevetski. In vain did
Skshetuski tell them of the glory they might win under such a leader,
and what great service they could render the country. They would not
listen, declaring that obedience was the first law and obligation for
military men. They said they could join the prince only in case the
safety of their regiments demanded it.

Pan Yan went away deeply grieved, for he knew how painful this fresh
disappointment would be to the prince, and how greatly his forces were
wearied and worn by campaigning, by continual struggling with the
enemy, scattering isolated detachments, and finally by continual
wakefulness, hunger, and bad weather. To measure himself in these
conditions with an enemy tenfold superior in number would be
impossible. Skshetuski saw clearly, therefore, that there must be delay
in acting against Krívonos; for it was necessary to give a longer rest
to the army and to wait for a new accession of nobles to the camp.

Occupied with these thoughts, Skshetuski went back to the prince at the
head of his Cossacks. He was obliged to go cautiously and at night, so
as to escape the scouts of Krívonos and the numerous independent bands,
made up of Cossacks and peasants,--sometimes very strong,--which raged
in that neighborhood, burning dwellings, cutting down nobles, and
hunting fugitives along the highroads. He passed Baklai and entered the
forests of Mshyna,--dense, full of treacherous ravines and valleys.
Happily he was favored on the road by good weather after the recent
rains. It was a glorious night in July, moonless, but crowded with
stars. The Cossacks went along in a narrow trail, guided by the
foresters of Mshyna,--very trusty men, knowing the forests perfectly.
Deep silence reigned among the trees, broken only by the cracking of
dry twigs under the horses' hoofs,--when suddenly there came to the
ears of Pan Yan and the Cossacks a kind of distant murmur, like singing
interrupted by cries.

"Listen!" said the lieutenant, in a low voice; and he stopped the line
of Cossacks. "What is that?"

The old forester bent forward to him. "Those are crazy people who go
through the woods now and scream. Their heads are turned from cruelty.
Yesterday we met a noblewoman who was going around looking at the pines
and crying, 'Children! children!' It is evident that the peasants had
killed her children. She stared at us and whined so that our legs
trembled under us. They say that in all the forests there are many

Though Pan Yan was a fearless man, a shudder passed over him from head
to foot. "Maybe it is the howling of wolves. It is difficult to

"What wolves? There are no wolves in the woods now; they have all gone
to the villages, where there are plenty of dead men."

"Awful times!" answered the knight, "when wolves live in the villages,
and people go howling through the woods! Oh, God, God!"

After a while silence came again. There was nothing to be heard but the
sounds usual among the tops of the pine-trees. Soon, however, those
distant sounds rose and became more distinct.

"Oh!" said one of the foresters, suddenly, "it seems as though some
large body of men were over there. You stay here; move on slowly. I
will go with my companions to see who they are."

"Go!" said Skshetuski. "We will wait here."

The foresters disappeared. They did not return for about an hour.
Skshetuski was beginning to be impatient, and indeed to think of
treason, when suddenly some one sprang out of the darkness.

"They are there!" said he, approaching the lieutenant.


"A peasant band."

"Many of them?"

"About two hundred. It is not clear what is best to do, for they are in
a pass through which our road lies. They have a fire, though the light
is not to be seen, for it is below. They have no guards, and can be
approached within arrow-shot."

"All right!" said Skshetuski; and turning to the Cossacks, he began to
give orders to the two principal ones.

The party moved on briskly, but so quietly that only the cracking of
twigs could betray their march. Stirrup did not touch stirrup; there
was no clattering of sabres. The horses, accustomed to surprises and
attacks, went with a wolfs gait, without snorting or neighing. Arriving
at the place where the road made a sudden turn, the Cossacks saw at
once, from a distance, fires and the indefinite outlines of people.
Here Skshetuski divided his men into three parties,--one remained on
the spot; the second went by the edge along the ravine, so as to close
the opposite exit; the third dismounted, and crawling along on hands
and feet, placed themselves on the very edge of the precipice above the
heads of the peasants.

Skshetuski, who was in the second party, looking down, saw as if on the
palm of his hand a whole camp, two or three hundred yards distant.
There were ten fires, but burning not very brightly; over these hung
kettles with food. The odor of smoke and of boiling meat came
distinctly to the nostrils of Skshetuski and the Cossacks. Around the
kettles peasants were standing or lying, drinking and talking. Some had
bottles of vudka in their hands; others were leaning on pikes, on the
ends of which were empaled as trophies the heads of men, women, and
children. The gleam of the fire was reflected in their lifeless eyes
and grinning teeth; the same gleam lighted up the faces of the
peasants, wild and cruel. There, under the wall of the ravine, a number
of them slept, snoring audibly; some talked; some stirred the fire,
which then shot up clusters of golden sparks. At the largest fire sat,
with his back to the ravine and to Skshetuski, a broad-shouldered
old minstrel, who was thrumming on his lyre; in front of him was a
half-circle of peasants. To the ears of Skshetuski came the following

"Ai! grandfather,--sing about the Cossack Holota!"

"No," cried the others; "sing of Marusia Boguslavka!"

"To the devil with Marusia! About the lord of Potok! About the lord of
Potok!" shouted the greatest number of voices.

The "grandfather" struck his lyre with more force, coughed, and began
to sing,--

  "Halt! look around! stand in amaze, thou who art master of many!
   Since thou wilt be equal to him who is owner of nothing on earth;
   For he who moves all things is manager now, the mighty, the merciful
   And he puts on his scales all our woes, and he weighs them to know.
   Halt! look around! stand in amaze, thou who dost soar,
   With thy mind seeing wisdom down deep and afar!"

The minstrel was silent, and sighed; and after him the peasants sighed.
Every moment more of them collected around him. But Skshetuski, though
he knew that all his men must be ready now, did not give the signal for
attack. The calm night, the blazing fires, the wild figures, and the
song about Nikolai Pototski, still unfinished, roused in the knight
certain wonderful thoughts, certain feelings and yearnings of which he
could not himself give account. The uncured wounds of his heart opened;
deep sorrow for the near past, for lost happiness, for those hours of
quiet and peace, pressed his heart. He fell to thinking, and was sad.
Then the "grandfather" sang on,--

   "Halt! look around! stand in amaze, thou who mak'st war
    With arrows, bows, powder, and ball, with the sharp-cutting sword!
    For knights, too, and horsemen, before thee were many,
    Who fought with such weapons and fell by the sword.
    Halt! look around! stand in amaze, forget thou thy pride!
    Thou who from Potok to Slavuta farest, turn then this way.
    Innocent men thou tak'st by the ears and stripp'st them of will;
    Thou heedest no king, thou knowest no Diet, art thy own single law;
    Hei! be amazed, grow not enraged! thou in thy power,
    With thy baton alone, as thou lustest, thou turnest the whole
       Polish land."

The "grandfather" stopped again, and at that time a pebble slipped from
under the arm of one of the Cossacks, which had been resting on it, and
began to roll down, rattling as it fell. A number of peasants shaded
their eyes with their hands, and looked up quickly into the tree; then
Skshetuski saw that the time had come, and fired his pistol into the
middle of the crowd.

"Kill! slash!" cried he. Thirty Cossacks fired as it were straight into
the faces of the crowd, and after the firing slipped like lightning
down the steep walls of the ravine, among the terrified and confused

"Kill! slay!" was thundered at one end of the ravine.

"Kill! slay!" was repeated by furious voices at the other end.

"Yeremi! Yeremi!"

The attack was so unexpected, the terror so great, that the peasants,
though armed, offered no resistance. It had been related in the camp of
the rebellious mob that Yeremi, by the aid of the evil spirit, was able
to be present and to fight at the same time in a number of places.
This time, his name falling upon men who expected nothing and felt
safe--really like the name of an evil spirit--snatched the weapons from
their hands. Besides, the pikes and scythes could not be used in the
narrow place; so that, driven like a flock of sheep to the opposite
wall of the ravine, hewn down with sabres through the foreheads and
faces, beaten, cut up, trampled under foot, in the madness of fear they
stretched out their hands, and seizing the merciless steel, perished.
The still forest was filled with the ominous uproar of the fight. Some
tried to escape over the steep wall of the ravine, and wounding their
hands with climbing, fell back on the sabre's edge. Some died calmly,
others cried for mercy; some covered their faces with their hands, not
wishing to see the moment of death; others threw themselves on the
ground, face downward; but above the whistling of sabres, the groans of
the dying, rose the shout of the assailants, "Yeremi! Yeremi!"--a shout
which made the hair stand erect on the heads of the peasants, and death
seem more terrible.

The minstrel gave a blow on the forehead to one of the Cossacks, and
knocked him down; seized another by the hand, to stop the blow of the
sabre, and bellowed from fear like a buffalo. Others, seeing him, ran
up to cut him to pieces; but Skshetuski interfered.

"Take him alive!" shouted he.

"Stop!" roared the minstrel. "I am a noble. Loquor latine! I am no
minstrel. Stop, I tell you! Robbers, bullock-drivers, sons of--"

But the minstrel had not yet finished his litany when Pan Yan looked
into his face, and cried, till the walls of the ravine gave back the
echo, "Zagloba!" And suddenly rushing upon him like a wild beast, he
drove his fingers into the shoulders and thrust his face up to the face
of the man, and shaking him as he would a pear-tree, roared: "Where is
the princess? where is the princess?"

"Alive, well, safe!" roared back the minstrel; "unhand me! The devil
take you, you are shaking the soul out of me!"

Then that knight, whom neither captivity nor wounds nor grief nor the
terrible Burdabut could bring down, was brought down by happiness. His
hands dropped at his side, great drops of sweat came out on his
forehead; he fell on his knees, covered his face with his hands, and
leaning his head against the wall of the ravine, remained in silence,
evidently thanking God.

Meanwhile the unfortunate peasants had been slaughtered, and were lying
dead on the ground, except a few who were bound for the executioner in
the camp so as to torture a confession from them. The struggle was
over, the uproar at an end. The Cossacks gathered around their leader,
and seeing him kneeling under the rock, looked at him with concern, not
knowing but he was wounded. He rose, however, with a face as bright as
though the light of morning were shining in his soul.

"Where is she?" asked he of Zagloba.

"In Bar."


"The castle is a strong one; no attack is feared. She is under the care
of Pani Slavoshevska and with the nuns."

"Praise be to God in the highest!" said the knight; and in his voice
there trembled deep emotion. "Give me your hand; I thank you from my
very soul."

Suddenly he turned to the Cossacks. "Are there many prisoners?"


"A great joy has met me, and mercy is in me," said Pan Yan. "Let them
be free!"

The Cossacks could not believe their ears. There was no such custom as
that in the armies of Vishnyevetski.

The lieutenant frowned slightly. "Let them go free!" he repeated.

The Cossacks went away; but after a while the first essaul returned and
said: "They do not believe as; they do not dare to go."

"Are their bonds loose?"


"Then leave them here, and to horse yourselves!"

Half an hour later the party was moving on again along the quiet,
narrow road. The moon had risen, and sent long white streaks to the
centre of the forest and lighted its dark depths. Zagloba and
Skshetuski, riding ahead, conversed together.

"But tell me everything about her that you know," said the knight.
"Then you rescued her from the hands of Bogun?"

"Of course; and besides, when going away, I bound up his face so that
he could not scream."

"Well, you acted splendidly, as God is dear to me! But how did you get
to Bar?"

"That IS a long story, better at another time; for I am terribly tired,
and my throat is dried up from singing to those rapscallions. Haven't
you anything to drink?"

"I have a little flask of gorailka; here it is."

Zagloba seized the flask and raised it to his mouth. A protracted
gurgling was heard; and Pan Yan, impatient, without waiting the end,
inquired further: "Did you say well?"

"What a question!" answered Zagloba; "everything is well in a dry

"But I was inquiring about the princess."

"Oh, the princess! She is as well as a deer."

"Praise be to God on high! And she is comfortable in Bar?"

"As comfortable as in heaven,--couldn't be more so. Every one cleaves
to her for her beauty. Pani Slavoshevska loves her as her own daughter.
And how many men are in love with her! You couldn't count them on a
rosary. But she, in constant love for you, thinks as much of them as I
do now of this empty flask of yours."

"May God give health to her, the dearest!" said Skshetuski, joyfully.
"Then she remembers me with pleasure?"

"Remembers you? I tell you that I myself couldn't understand where she
got breath for so many sighs; these sighs made every one pity her, and
most of all the little nuns, for she brought them to her side through
her sweetness. Then she sent me too into these dangers, in which I have
almost lost my life, to find you without fail and see if you were alive
and well. She tried several times to send messengers, but no one would
go. At last I took pity on her, and set out for your camp. If it hadn't
been for the disguise, I should have laid down my head surely. But the
peasants took me for a minstrel everywhere, as I sing very

Skshetuski became silent from joy. A thousand thoughts and
reminiscences thronged into his head. Helena stood as if living before
him, as he had seen her the last time in Rozlogi, just before leaving
for the Saitch,--charming, beautiful, graceful, and with those eyes
black as velvet, full of unspeakable allurement. It seemed to him that
he saw her, felt the warmth beating from her cheeks, heard her sweet
voice. He recalled that walk in the cherry-garden and the cuckoo, and
those questions which he gave the bird, and the bashfulness of Helena.
Indeed the soul went out of him; his heart grew weak from love and joy,
in presence of which all his past sufferings were like a drop in the
sea. He did not know himself what was happening to him. He wanted to
shout, fall on his knees and thank God again, then inquire without end.
At last he began to repeat:--

"She is alive, well?"

"Alive, well," answered Zagloba, like an echo.

"And she sent you out?"


"And you have got a letter?"

"I have."

"Give it to me."

"It is sewed into my clothes; besides, it is night now. Restrain

"I cannot. You see yourself."

"I see."

Zagloba's answers became more and more laconic; at last he nodded a
couple of times and fell asleep.

Skshetuski saw there was no help; therefore he gave himself up again to
meditation, which was interrupted after a while by the tramp of a
considerable body of cavalry approaching quickly. It was Ponyatovski
with Cossacks of the guard, whom the prince had sent out to meet
Skshetuski, fearing lest some harm might have met him.

                             CHAPTER XXIX.

It is easy to understand how the prince received the statement which
Skshetuski made of the refusal of Osinski and Koritski. Everything had
so combined that it needed such a great soul as that iron prince
possessed, not to bend, not to waver, or let his hands drop. In vain
was he to spend a colossal fortune on the maintenance of armies; in
vain was he to struggle like a lion in a net; in vain was he to tear
off one head of the rebellion after another, showing wonders of bravery
all for nothing. A time was coming in which he must feel his own
impotence, withdraw somewhere to a distance, to a quiet place, and
remain a silent spectator of what was being done in the Ukraine. And
what was it that rendered him powerless? Not the swords of the
Cossacks, but the ill-will of his own people. Was it not reasonable for
him to hope when he marched from the Trans-Dnieper in May that when
like an eagle from the sky he should strike rebellion, when in the
general dismay and confusion he should first raise his sword over his
head, the whole Commonwealth would come to his aid, and put its power
and its punishing sword in his hand? But what did happen? The king was
dead, and after his death the command was put into other hands, and he,
the prince, was passed by ostentatiously. That was the first concession
to Hmelnitski. The soul of the prince did not suffer for the office he
had lost; but it suffered at the thought that the insulted Commonwealth
had fallen so low that it did not seek a death-struggle, but drew back
before one Cossack, and preferred to restrain his insolent right hand
by negotiations.

From the time of the victory at Makhnovka worse and worse tidings were
brought to the camp,--first news of negotiations sent through Pan
Kisel; then news that Volynian Polesia was covered with the waves of
insurrection; then the refusal of the colonels, showing clearly how far
the commander-in-chief, Prince Dominik Zaslavski-Ostrogski, was
hostile. During Skshetuski's absence Pan Korsh Zenkovich came to camp
with information that all Ovruch was on fire. The people had been
quiet, and not anxious for rebellion; but the Cossacks, coming under
Krechovski and Polksenjits, forced the mob to enter their ranks.
Castles and villages were burned; the nobles who did not escape were
cut to pieces, and among others old Pan Yelets, a former servant and
friend of the Vishnyevetskis. In view of this, the prince had decided
after a juncture with Osinski and Koritski to overwhelm Krívonos, and
then move north toward Ovruch, and after an agreement with the hetman
of Lithuania, to seize the rebels between two fires. But all these
plans had fallen through now on account of the refusal of both colonels
caused by Prince Dominik. For Yeremi, after all the marches, battles,
and labors, was not strong enough to meet Krívonos, especially when not
sure of the voevoda of Kieff, who belonged heart and soul to the peace
party. Pan Yanush yielded before the importance and power of Yeremi,
and had to go with him; but the more he saw his authority broken the
more inclined was he to oppose the warlike wishes of the prince, as was
shown at once.

Skshetuski gave his account, and the prince listened to it in silence.
All the officers were present; their faces were gloomy at the news of
the refusal. All eyes turned to the prince when he said,--

"Prince Dominik, of course, sent them the order."

"Yes, they showed it to me in writing."

Yeremi rested his arms on the table and covered his face with his
hands; after a while he said,--

"This indeed is more than a man can bear. Am I to labor alone, and
instead of assistance meet only obstructions? Could I not have gone to
my estates in Sandomir and lived quietly? And what prevented me from
doing so, except love of country? This is my reward for toil, for loss
of fortune and blood."

The prince spoke quietly, but such bitterness and pain trembled
in his voice that all present were straitened with sorrow. Old
colonels--veterans from Putívl, Starets, Kuméiki,--and young men
victorious in the last conflicts, looked at him with unspeakable sorrow
in their eyes; for they knew what a heavy struggle that iron man was
having with himself, how terribly his pride must suffer from the
humiliation put upon him. He, a prince, "by the grace of God;" he, a
voevoda in Russia, senator of the Commonwealth,--must yield to some
Hmelnitski or Krívonos. He, almost a monarch, who recently had received
ambassadors from foreign rulers, must withdraw from the field of glory,
and confine himself in some little castle, waiting for the outcome of a
war directed by others or for humiliating negotiations. He, predestined
for great things, conscious of ability to direct them, had to confess
that he was without power.

This suffering, together with his labors, was marked on his figure. He
had become greatly emaciated; his eyes had sunk; his hair, black as the
wing of a raven, had begun to grow gray. But a certain grand tragic
calm was spread over his countenance, for pride guarded him from
betraying his suffering.

"Well, let it be so," said he; "we will show this unthankful country
that we are able not only to fight, but to die for it. Indeed I should
prefer a more glorious death,--to fall in some other war than in a
domestic squabble with serfs--"

"Do not speak of death," interrupted the voevoda of Kieff; "for though
it is unknown what God has predestined to any man, still death may be
far away. I do homage to your military genius and your knightly spirit;
but I cannot take it ill, either of the viceroy, the chancellor, or the
commanders, if they try to stem civil war by negotiations, for in it
the blood of brothers is flowing, and who, unless a foreign enemy, can
reap advantage from the stubbornness of both sides?"

The prince looked long into the eyes of the voevoda, and said

"Show favor to the conquered, and they will accept it with thanks and
will remember it, but you will be only despised by conquerors. Would
that no one had ever done injustice to these people! But when once
insurrection has flamed up, we must quench it with blood, not
negotiations; if we do not, disgrace and destruction to us!"

"Speedy ruin will come if we wage war each on his own account,"
answered the voevoda.

"Does that mean that you will not go on with me?"

"I call God to witness that this is out of no ill-will to you; but my
conscience tells me not to expose my men to evident destruction, for
their blood is precious, and will be of value to the Commonwealth yet."

The prince was silent awhile; then turning to his colonels, he said,--

"You, my old comrades, will not leave me now!"

At these words the colonels, as if impelled by one power and one will,
rushed to the prince. Some kissed his garments; some embraced his
knees; others, raising their hands to heaven, cried,--

"We are with you to the last breath, to the last drop of blood! Lead
us, lead us! we will serve without pay."

"And let me die with you," cried young Pan Aksak, blushing like a girl.

At sight of this the voevoda of Kieff was moved; but the prince went
from one to another, pressed the head of each one, and thanked him. A
mighty enthusiasm seized on young and old. From the eyes of the
warriors sparks flashed; they grasped their sabres from moment to

"I will live with you, die with you!" said the prince.

"We will conquer!" cried the officers. "Against Krívonos! On Polónnoe!
Whoever wishes to leave us, let him leave. We will do without aid. We
wish to share neither glory nor death."

"It is my will," said the prince, "that before moving on Krívonos we
take even a short rest to restore our strength. It is now the third
month that we are on horseback, scarcely ever dismounting. The flesh is
leaving our bones from excessive toil and change of climate. We have no
horses; the infantry are barefoot. Let us go then to Zbaraj; there we
will recruit and rest. Perhaps too some soldiers will join us, and we
will move into the fire with new forces."

"When do you wish to start?" asked old Zatsvilikhovski.

"Without delay, old soldier, without delay!" Here the prince turned to
the voevoda: "And where do you wish to go?"

"To Gliniani, for I hear that forces are collecting there."

"Then we will conduct you to a safe place, so that no harm may happen
to you."

The voevoda said nothing, for he felt rather ill at ease. He was
leaving, and the prince still showed care for him and intended to
conduct him. Was there irony in the words of the prince? The voevoda
did not know. Still the voevoda did not abandon his design; for the
colonels of the prince looked on him more inimically every moment, and
it was clear that in any other less disciplined army there would have
been an outbreak against him.

He bowed and went out; and the colonels went, each to his own regiment
to make ready for the march. Skshetuski alone remained with the prince.

"What kind of soldiers are in those regiments?" asked the prince.

"So good that you cannot find better. Dragoons drilled in German
fashion, and with infantry of the guard, veterans of the Thirty Years'
War. When I saw them I thought they were Roman legionaries."

"Many of them?"

"Two regiments with the dragoons,--just three thousand men."

"Oh, it is a pity, it is a pity! Great things might be done with their

Suffering was already depicted on the face of the prince. After a while
he said as if to himself,--

"It is unfortunate that such commanders were chosen in times of defeat!
Ostrorog would be the right man if war could be put down with eloquence
and Latin; Konyetspolski is my brother-in-law and a warrior by nature;
but he is young, without experience. Zaslavski is worst of all. I know
him of old. He is a man of small heart and narrow mind. His business is
to slumber over the cup, not to manage an army. I do not speak of this
in public, lest it might be thought that malice moves me, but I foresee
terrible disaster, especially now, at this time, when such people have
the helm in their hands! Oh, God, God, remove this cup from me! What
will happen to this country? When I think of it I would prefer death,
for I am greatly wearied, and I tell you that I shall not last long. My
spirit is rushing to the war, but my body lacks strength."

"You should care more for your health, in which the whole country is
deeply concerned, and which is already greatly injured by toil."

"The country thinks differently, it is evident, when it avoids me and
drags the sabre out of my hand."

"God grant when Prince Karl changes his cap for a crown, he will see
whom to elevate and whom to punish; but you are powerful enough to care
for no one at present."

"I will go my own way."

The prince did not notice perhaps that, like the other "kinglets," he
was carrying on a policy of his own; but if he had noticed it, he would
not have abandoned it, for he felt clearly that that was the only one
that could save the honor of the Commonwealth.

Again followed a moment of silence, soon broken by the neighing of
horses and the sound of trumpets. The regiments were mustering for the
march. These sounds roused the prince from meditation. He shook his
head as if wishing to shake off suffering and evil thoughts; then he

"You had a quiet journey?"

"I met, in the forest, a large body of peasants, a couple of hundred
men whom I destroyed."

"Well done! And you took prisoners, for that is an important thing

"I did, but--"

"But you have commanded them to be executed already? Is that true?"

"No, I set them free."

Yeremi looked with wonderment at Skshetuski; then his brows contracted
suddenly. "What was that for? Do you too belong to the peace party?"

"Your Highness, I brought an informant; for among the peasants was a
disguised noble who remained alive. I freed the others, for God showed
mercy to me and comfort. I will bear the punishment. That noble was Pan
Zagloba, who brought me tidings of the princess."

The prince approached Pan Yan quickly. "She is alive and well?"

"Praise be to God on high, she is."

"And where is she?"

"In Bar."

"That is a strong fortress, my boy!" Here the prince raised his hands,
and taking Skshetuski's head, kissed him a number of times on the
forehead. "I rejoice in your gladness, for I love you as a son."

Pan Yan kissed the prince's hand with emotion, and though for many a
day he would have willingly shed his blood for him, he felt again that
at his command he would spring into rolling flames. To such a degree
did that terrible and cruel Yeremi know how to win the hearts of the

"Well, I do not wonder that you let those men go free. You will go
unpunished. But he's a sharp fellow, that noble! Then he took her from
the Trans-Dnieper to Bar, praise be to God! In these grievous times
this is a real delight to me also. He must be a fox of no common kind.
But let's have a look at this Zagloba."

Skshetuski moved quickly toward the door; but at that moment it was
opened suddenly, and there appeared in it the flaming head of Vershul,
who had been on a distant expedition with the Tartars of the guard.

"Your Highness," cried he, panting, "Krívonos has taken Polónnoe, cut
down ten thousand people, among them women and children."

The colonels began to assemble again, and crowd around Vershul. The
voevoda of Kieff hurried up also. The prince was astonished, for he had
not expected such news.

"But Russians were shut up in there! It cannot be!"

"Not a living soul escaped."

"Do you hear?" said the prince, turning to the voevoda. "Negotiate with
an enemy like that, who does not spare even his own!"

The voevoda snorted and said: "Oh, the curs! If that is the case, then
may the devils take it all! I will go with you."

"Then you are a brother to me," said the prince.

"Long live the voevoda of Kieff!" said Zatsvilikhovski.

"Success to concord!"

The prince turned again to Vershul. "Where did they go after Polónnoe?

"To Konstantinoff, probably."

"Oh, God save us! Then the regiments of Osinski and Koritski are lost,
for they cannot escape with infantry. We must forget our wrongs and
hurry to their aid. To horse! to horse!"

The face of the prince brightened with joy, and a glow enlivened his
emaciated cheeks, for the path of glory was open before him again.

                              CHAPTER XXX.

The army passed Konstantinoff and halted at Rosolovtsi; for the prince
calculated that when Koritski and Osinski would receive news of the
taking of Polónnoe, they would retreat to Rosolovtsi, and if the enemy
should pursue them he would fall in among all the forces of the prince
as into a trap, and thus meet with sure defeat. That forecast was
justified in great part. The troops occupied their positions, and
remained in silent readiness for the fight. Smaller and larger
scouting-parties were sent in every direction from the camp. The
prince, with a number of regiments, took his position in the village
and waited. Toward evening Vershul's Tartars brought news that infantry
was approaching from the direction of Konstantinoff. Hearing this, the
prince went out before the door of his quarters, surrounded by
officers, and with them a number of the principal attendants, to look
upon the arrival. Meanwhile the regiments, announcing themselves by
sound of trumpet, halted before the village; and two colonels hastened,
panting and with all speed, to the prince to offer him their service.
These were Osinski and Koritski. When they saw Vishnyevetski with a
magnificent suite of knights, they were greatly confused, uncertain of
their reception, and bowing profoundly, they waited in silence for what
he would say.

"The wheel of fortune turns and brings down the haughty," said the
prince. "You did not wish to come at our request, but now you come at
your own desire."

"Your Highness," said Osinski, with firmness, "we wished with all our
souls to serve with you, but the order was definite. Let him who issued
it answer for it. We beg pardon; though we are innocent, for as
soldiers we were obliged to obey and be silent."

"Then Prince Dominik has withdrawn the order?" asked the prince.

"The order is not withdrawn," said Osinski, "but it is no longer
binding, since the only salvation and refuge for our forces is with
you, under whose command we wish henceforth to live and serve and die."

These words, full of manly power, and the form of Osinski produced the
very best impression on the prince and the officers; for he was a
famous soldier, and though still young, not more than forty years of
age, was full of warlike experience which he had acquired in foreign
armies. Every military eye rested on him with pleasure. Tall, straight
as a reed, with yellow mustaches brushed upward and a Swedish beard, he
recalled completely by his uniform and stature the colonels of the
Thirty Years' War. Koritski, a Tartar by origin, resembled him in
nothing. Low in stature and dumpy, he had a gloomy look, and his
appearance was strange in a foreign uniform, not befitting his Oriental
features. He led a picked German regiment, and had a reputation for
bravery as well as moroseness, and the iron rigor with which he held
his soldiers.

"We wait the commands of your Highness," said Osinski.

"I thank you for your decision, and I accept your services. I know that
a soldier must obey; and if I sent for you, it was because I was
unaware of the order. Not only shall we pass henceforth good and evil
times together, but I hope that you will be pleased with your new

"If you are pleased with us and with our officers."

"Very good!" said the prince. "Is the enemy far behind you?"

"Scouting-parties are near, but the main force may arrive here

"Very well, we have time then. Order your regiments to march across the
square; let me look at them, so I may know what kind of soldiers you
bring me, and if much can be done with them."

The colonels returned to their regiments, and soon after were marching
at the head of them into the camp. Soldiers of the picked regiments of
the prince hurried out like ants to look at their new comrades. The
royal dragoons, under Captain Giza, marched in front with heavy Swedish
helmets and lofty crests. They rode Podolian horses, but matched and
well fed. These men, fresh and rested, with bright and glittering
uniforms, had a splendid appearance in comparison with the emaciated
regiments of the prince, in tattered uniforms, faded from rain and sun.
After these followed Osinski with his regiment, and in the rear
Koritski. A murmur of applause was heard among the prince's cavalry at
the sight of the deep German ranks. Their collars red, on their
shoulders shining muskets, they marched thirty in a rank, with the step
of a single man, strong and thundering. Tall, sturdy fellows all of
them,--old soldiers who had been in more than one country and in more
than one battle, for the most part veterans of the Thirty Years' War,
skilled, disciplined, and experienced.

When they marched up to the prince, Osinski cried, "Halt!" and the
regiment stood as if foot-bound to the earth; the officers raised their
staffs, the standard-bearer raised his standard, and waving it three
times, lowered it before the prince. "Vorwärts!" commanded Osinski,
"Vorwärts!" repeated the officers, and the regiments advanced again. In
the same way but in almost better form, did Koritski present his
troops. At the sight of all this the soldiers' hearts were rejoiced;
and Yeremi, judge beyond judges, put his hands on his hips with
delight, looked, and smiled,--for infantry was just what he wanted, and
he was sure that it would be difficult for him to find better in the
whole world. He felt increased in power, and hoped to accomplish great
things in war. The suite began to speak of different military topics
and of the various kinds of soldiers to be seen in the world.

"The Zaporojian infantry is good, especially behind intrenchments,"
said Sleshinski; "but these are better, for they are better drilled."

"Of course a great deal better!"  said Migurski.

"But they are heavy men," said Vershul. "If I had to do it, I should
undertake to tire them out with my Tartars in two days, so that on the
third I could slaughter them like sheep."

"What are you talking about? The Germans are good soldiers."

To this Pan Longin Podbipienta answered in his singing Lithuanian
voice: "How God in his mercy has endowed different nations with
different virtues! As I hear, there is no cavalry in the world better
than ours, and again neither our infantry nor the Hungarian can be
compared with the German."

"Because God is just," remarked Zagloba. "For instance, he gave you a
great fortune, a big sword, and a heavy hand, but small wit."

"Zagloba has fastened on him like a horse-leech," said Pan Yan,

But Podbipienta contracted his eyes and spoke with the mildness usual
to him: "An outrage to hear! And he gave you too long a tongue."

"If you maintain that God did ill in giving me what I have, then you
will go to hell with your virtue, for you wish to oppose his will."

"Oh, who can out-talk you? You talk and talk."

"Do you know how a man is different from an animal?"


"By reason and speech."

"Oh, he has given it to him, he has given it to him!" said Mokrski.

"If you don't understand why in Poland there is better cavalry and
among the Germans better infantry, I will explain it to you."

"Why is it? why is it?" asked several voices.

"This is why: When the Lord God created the horse he brought him before
men, so that they should praise his works. And on the bank stood a
German, for the Germans are always pushing themselves everywhere. The
Lord God showed the horse to the German, and asked: 'What is this?'
'Pferd!' answered the German. 'What!' exclaimed the Creator; 'do you
say "Pfe!" to my work? But you will never ride on this creature, you
lubber!--or if you do, you will ride like a fool.' Having said this,
the Lord made a present of the horse to the Pole, This is why the
Polish cavalry is the best. Then the Germans began to hurry after the
Lord on foot and to beg forgiveness of him, and that is why the Germans
have become the best infantry."

"You have calculated everything very cleverly," said Podbipienta.

Further conversation was interrupted by new guests, who hurried up with
the tidings that approaching the camp were forces which could not be
Cossacks, for they were not from Konstantinoff, but from an entirely
different direction,--from the river Zbruch. Two hours later those
troops came on with such a thundering of trumpets and drums that the
prince became angry and sent an order to them to be quiet, for the
enemy was in the neighborhood. It turned out that they were followers
of Samuel Lashch, commander of the royal vanguard, an officer of the
king, for the rest a celebrated adventurer, wrongdoer, turbulent,
quarrelsome, but a great soldier. He led eight hundred men of the same
stamp as himself,--part nobles, part Cossacks, all of whom deserved
hanging according to sound justice. But Yeremi was not afraid of the
insubordination of these warriors, trusting that in his hands they
would turn into obedient lambs, and make up in bravery and daring for
their other defects.

It was a lucky evening. On the previous day the prince, weighed down by
the expected departure of the voevoda of Kieff, had determined to defer
the war till the arrival of reinforcements, and to retreat to some
quiet place for a time. To-day he was again at the head of nearly
twelve thousand men; and although Krívonos had five times that number,
still since the greater part of the rebel forces was formed of the
rabble, the two armies might be considered of equal strength. Now the
prince had no thought of rest. Shutting himself up with Lashch, the
voevoda of Kieff, Zatsvilikhovski, Makhnitski, and Osinski, he held a
council on the conduct of the war. It was determined to give Krívonos
battle on the morrow, and if he did not appear himself, to go in search
of him.

It was already dark night; but since the recent rains, so annoying to
the soldiers at Makhnovka, the weather had continued to be splendid. On
the dark vault of the heavens glittered swarms of golden stars. The
moon appeared on high and whitened all the roofs of Rosolovtsi.
No one in the camp thought of sleeping. All were conjecturing about
to-morrow's battle, and preparing for it; chatting in ordinary fashion,
singing, and promising themselves great pleasure. The officers and the
most distinguished attendants, all in excellent humor, gathered around
a great fire, and passed the time with their cups.

"Tell us further," said they to Zagloba; "when you were crossing the
Dnieper, what did you do, and how did you reach Bar?"

Zagloba emptied a quart cup of mead, and said,--

     "'Sed jam nox humida c[oe]lo præcipitat
      Suadentque sidera cadentia somnos,
      Sed si tantus amor casus cognoscere nostros,
      Incipiam ...'

Gentlemen, if I should begin to tell all in detail, ten nights would
not suffice, and surely mead would be required; for an old throat, like
an old wagon, needs lubrication. It is enough if I tell you that I went
to Korsún, to the camp of Hmelnitski himself with the princess, and
took her out of that hell in safety."

"Jesus, Mary! Did you enchant them?" cried Zatsvilikhovski.

"It is true that I enchanted them," said Zagloba, "for I learned that
hellish art when I was still in youthful years from a witch in Asia,
who, having fallen in love with me, divulged all the secret tricks of
her black art. But I could not enchant much, for it was trick against
trick. Around Hmelnitski are swarms of soothsayers and wizards, who
have brought so many devils into his service that he uses them to work
as he would peasants. When he goes to sleep, a devil has to pull his
boots off; when his clothes are dusty, a devil beats them with his
tail; when he is drunk, Hmelnitski gives this or that devil a box on
the snout, saying, 'You don't do your work well.'"

The pious Pan Longin crossed himself, and said: "With them the power of
hell; with us the power of heaven."

"T was afraid the black fellows would betray me to Hmelnitski,--tell
who I was, and whom I was conducting; but I conjured them into silence
with certain words. I was afraid too that Hmelnitski would know me, for
I had met him in Chigirin a year before, twice at Dopula's. There were
also other colonels whom I knew; but my stomach had fallen in, my beard
had grown to my waist, my hair to my shoulders, my disguise had changed
the rest, no one recognized me."

"Then you saw Hmelnitski himself, and spoke with him?"

"Did I see Hmelnitski? Just as I see you. More than that; he sent me as
a spy into Podolia to distribute his manifestoes among the peasants on
the road. He gave me a baton as a safeguard against the Tartars, so
that from Korsún I went everywhere in safety. Peasants or men from
below met me. I put the staff under their noses, and said, 'Smell this,
children, and go to the devil!' Then I ordered them everywhere to give
me plenty to eat and drink, and they did; and wagons, too, for which I
was glad; and I was always looking after my poor princess, lest she
might give out after such great fatigues and terror. I tell you,
gentlemen, that before we arrived at Bar she had recovered to such a
degree that there were few people in Bar who didn't gaze at her. There
are many pretty girls in that place, for the nobles have assembled
there from distant regions, but in comparison with her they are as owls
to a jay. The people admire her, and you would if you could see her."

"It must be they couldn't help it," said little Pan Volodyovski.

"But why did you go to Bar?" asked Migurski.

"Because I said to myself, I will not stop till I come to a safe place.
I had no confidence in small castles, thinking that the rebellion might
reach them. But if it should go to Bar, it would break its teeth there.
Pan Andrei Pototski has built up strong walls, and cares as much for
Hmelnitski as I do for an empty glass. Do you think that I did badly in
going so far from the conflagration? If I had not, that Bogun would
surely have pursued; and if he had caught up, I tell you he would have
made tidbits of me for the dogs. You don't know him, but I do. May the
devil fly away with him! I shall have no peace till they hang the man.
God grant him that happy end--amen! And surely there is no one with
whom he has such an account as with me. Brrr! When I think of it a
chill passes over me; so that now I am forced to use stimulants, though
by nature I am opposed to drink."

"What do you say?" interrupted Podbipienta. "Why, my dear brother, you
take up liquid like a well-sweep."

"Don't look into the well, my dear man, for you will see nothing wise
at the bottom. But a truce to this! Travelling then with the baton and
manifestoes of Hmelnitski, I met no great hindrances. When I came to
Vinnitsa, I found there the troops of Pan Aksak, now present in this
camp; but I had not put off my minstrel skin yet, for I feared the
peasantry. But I got rid of the manifestoes. There is a saddler there
called Suhak, a Zaporojian spy, who was sending intelligence to
Hmelnitski. Through this fellow I sent off the manifestoes; but I wrote
such sentences on the backs of them that Hmelnitski will surely order
the saddler to be flayed when he reads them. But right under the very
walls of Bar such a thing happened to me that I came very near being
lost at the shore of refuge."

"How was that? How?"

"I met some drunken soldiers, wild fellows, who heard how I called the
princess, 'Your Ladyship,' for I was not so careful then, being near
our own people. And they began: 'What sort of minstrel is that? What
sort of a lad is it whom he calls "Your Ladyship"?' Then they looked at
the princess, and saw she was as beautiful as a picture. 'Bring her
nearer to us,' said they. I pushed her behind me into the corner, and
to the sabre--"

"That is a wonder," said Volodyovski,--"that you, dressed as a
minstrel, had a sabre at your side."

"That I had a sabre? And who told you that I had a sabre? I had not;
but I grabbed a soldier's sabre that lay on the table,--for it was in a
public house at Shipintsi, I stretched out two of my assailants in the
twinkle of an eye. The others rushed on me. I cried, 'Stop, you
dogs, for I am a noble!' Next moment they called out, 'Stop! stop!
Scouts are coming!' It appeared that they were not scouts, but Pani
Slavoshevska with an escort, whom her son was conducting, with fifty
horsemen,--young fellows. These stopped my enemies. I went to the lady
with my story, and roused her feelings so that she opened the
floodgates of her eyes. She took the princess into her carriage, and we
entered Bar. But do you think this is the end? No!"

Suddenly Sleshinski interrupted the narrative. "But, look! is that the
dawn? What is it?"

"Oh, it cannot be the dawn," said Skshetuski. "Too early."

"It is toward Konstantinoff."

"Yes. Don't you see it is brighter?"

"As I live, a fire!"

At these words the faces of all became serious. They forgot the
narrative and sprang to their feet.

"Fire! Fire!" repeated several voices.

"That is Krívonos who has come from Polónnoe."

"Krívonos with all his forces."

"The advance guard must have set fire to the town or the neighboring

Meanwhile the trumpets sounded the alarm in low notes. Just then old
Zatsvilikhovski appeared suddenly among the knights. "Gentlemen," said
he, "scouts have come with news. The enemy is in sight! We move at
once. To your posts! to your posts!"

The officers hurried with all speed to their regiments. The attendants
put out the fires, and in a few moments darkness reigned in the camp.
But in the distance from the direction of Konstantinoff the heavens
reddened each moment more intensely and over a broader space. In this
gleam the stars grew paler and paler. Again the trumpets sounded low.
"To horse!" was heard through the mouthpiece. Indistinct masses of men
and horses began to move. Amid the silence were heard the tramp of
horses, the measured step of infantry, and finally the dull thump of
Vurtsel's cannon; from moment to moment the clatter of muskets or the
voices of command were heard. There was something threatening and
ominous in that night march, in those voices, murmurs, clatter of
steel, the gleam of armor and swords. The regiments descended to the
Konstantinoff road, and moved over it toward the conflagration like a
great dragon or serpent making its way through the darkness. But the
luxuriant July night was drawing to a close. In Rosolovtsi the cocks
began to crow, answering one another through the whole town. Five miles
of road divided Rosolovtsi from Konstantinoff, so that before the army
on its slow march had passed half the interval dawn rose behind the
brightness of the conflagration, pale as if frightened, and filled the
air more and more with light, winning from the darkness forests, woods,
groves, the whole line of the highway and the troops marching upon it.
It was possible to distinguish clearly the people, the horses, and the
close ranks of infantry. The cool morning breeze rose and quivered
among the flags above the heads of the knights.

Vershul's Tartars marched in front, behind them Ponyatovski's Cossacks,
then the dragoons, Vurtsel's artillery, the infantry and hussars last.
Zagloba rode near Skshetuski; but he was somewhat uneasy in the saddle,
and it was apparent that alarm was seizing him, in view of the
approaching battle.

"Listen a moment!" said he to Skshetuski, in a low whisper as if he
feared some one might overhear him.

"What do you say?"

"Will the hussars strike first?"

"You say that you are an old soldier, and you don't know that hussars
are reserved to decide the battle at the moment when the enemy is
straining his utmost power?"

"I know that, I know that, but I wanted to be sure."

A moment of silence ensued. Then Zagloba lowered his voice still more,
and inquired further: "Is this Krívonos with all his forces?"


"How many men is he leading?"

"Sixty thousand, counting the mob."

"Oh, the devil take him!" said Zagloba.

Pan Yan smiled under his mustache.

"Don't think that I am afraid," whispered Zagloba. "But I have short
breath, and don't like a crowd, for it is hot, and as soon as it is hot
I can do nothing. I like to take care of myself in single combat. Not
the head, but the hands win in this place. Here I am a fool in
comparison with Podbipienta. I have on my stomach here those two
hundred ducats which the prince gave me; but believe me I would rather
have my stomach somewhere else. Tfu! tfu! I don't like these great
battles. May the plague bruise!"

"Nothing will happen to you. Take courage!"

"Courage? That is all I am afraid of. I fear that bravery will overcome
prudence in me. I am too excitable. Besides, I have had a bad omen:
when we sat by the fire two stars fell. Who knows, maybe one of them is

"For your good deeds God will reward you and keep you in health."

"Well, if only he doesn't reward me too soon."

"Why didn't you stay in the camp?"

"I thought it would be safer with the army."

"It is. You will see that there is no great trouble. We are accustomed
to this fighting, and custom is second nature. But here is the Sluch
and Vishovati Stav already."

In fact the waters of Vishovati Stav, divided from the Sluch by a long
dam, glittered in the distance. The army halted at once along the whole

"Is this the place so soon?" asked Zagloba.

"The prince will put the army in line," said Skshetuski.

"I don't like a throng; I tell you, I don't like a throng."

"Hussars on the right wing!" was the command which came from the prince
to Pan Yan.

It was broad daylight. The fire had grown pale in the light of the
rising sun, whose golden rays were reflected on the points of the
lances, and it appeared as though above the hussars a thousand lights
were gleaming. After its lines were arranged, the army concealed itself
no longer, and began to sing in one voice, "Hail, O ye gates of
salvation!" The mighty song resounded over the dewy grass, struck the
pine grove, and sent back by the echo, rose to the sky. Then the shore
on the other side of the dam grew black with crowds of Cossacks. As far
as the eye could reach regiment followed regiment,--mounted Zaporojians
armed with long lances, infantry with muskets, and waves of peasants
armed with scythes, flails, and forks. Behind them was to be seen, as
if in fog, an immense camp or movable town. The creaking of thousands
of wagons and the neighing of horses reached the ears of the prince's
soldiers. But the Cossacks marched without their usual tumult, without
howling, and halted on the other side of the dam. The two opposing
forces looked at each other for some time in silence.

Zagloba, keeping all the time close to Skshetuski, looked on that sea
of people and muttered,--

"Lord, why hast thou created so many ruffians? Hmelnitski must be there
with his mob and their vermin. Isn't that an outbreak, tell me? They
will cover us with their caps. Ah! in the old time it was so pleasant
in the Ukraine! They are rolling on, rolling on! God grant that the
devils may roll you in hell, and all that is coming on us! May the
glanders devour you!"

"Don't swear. To-day is Sunday."

"True, it is Sunday. Better think of God. 'Pater noster, qui
es in c[oe]lis'--No respect to be looked for from these
scoundrels--'Sanctificetur nomen tuum'--What is going to be done on
that dam?--'Adveniat regnum tuum'--The breath is already stopped in my
body--'Fiat voluntas tua'--God choke you, you Hamans! But look! what is

A division formed of a few hundred men separated from the dark mass and
pushed forward without order toward the dam.

"That is a skirmishing-party," said Skshetuski. "Our men will go out to
them directly."

"Has the battle begun, then, already?"

"As God is in heaven!"

"May the devil take them!" Here the ill-humor of Zagloba was beyond
measure. "And you are looking at it as a theatre in carnival time!"
cried he, in disgust at Skshetuski; "just as if your own skin were not
in peril."

"I told you that we are used to it."

"And you will go to the skirmish too, of course?"

"It is not very becoming for knights of picked regiments to fight duels
with such enemies. No one does that who stands on dignity; but in these
times no one thinks of dignity."

"Our men are marching already!" cried Zagloba, seeing the red line of
Volodyovski's dragoons moving at a trot toward the dam.

They were followed by a number of volunteers from each regiment. Among
others went the red Vershul, Kushel, Ponyatovski, the two Karvichi, and
Pan Longin Podbipienta from the hussars. The distance between the two
divisions began to diminish rapidly.

"You will see something," said Skshetuski to Zagloba, "Look especially
at Volodyovski and Podbipienta. They are splendid fighters. Do you see


"Well, look at them! You will have something to enjoy."

                             CHAPTER XXXI.

When the warriors drew near each other, they reined in their horses and
opened in mutual abuse.

"Come on! come on! We will feed the dogs with your carrion right away!"
cried the prince's soldiers.

"Your carrion is not fit even for dogs!" answered the Cossacks.

"You will rot here on the dam, you infamous robbers!"

"For whom it is fated, that one will rot; but the fish will pick your
bones soon."

"To the dung-heaps with your forks, you trash! Dung-forks are fitter
for you than sabres."

"If we are trash, our sons will be nobles, for they will be born of
your girls."

Some Cossack, evidently from the Trans-Dnieper, pushed forward, and
placing his palms around his mouth, cried with a loud voice: "The
prince has two nieces; tell him to send them to Krívonos."

It grew dim in Volodyovski's eyes when he heard this blasphemy, and he
spurred his horse on to the Zaporojian.

Skshetuski, on the right wing with his hussars, recognized him from a
distance, and cried to Zagloba: "Volodyovski is rushing on!
Volodyovski! Look there! there!"

"I see!" said Zagloba. "He has already reached him. They are fighting!
One, two! I see perfectly. It is all over. He is a swordsman, plague
take him!"

At the second blow the Cossack fell to the ground as if struck by
lightning, and fell with his head to his comrades, as an evil omen to

Then a second sprang forward, in a scarlet kontush stripped from some
noble. He fell upon Volodyovski a little from the flank, but his horse
stumbled at the very moment of the blow. Volodyovski turned, and then
could be seen the master; for he only moved his hand, making a light,
soft motion,--invisible, so to speak,--but still the sabre of the
Zaporojian sprang up, flew into the air. Volodyovski seized him by the
shoulder, and pulled him with his horse toward the Polish side.

"Save me, brothers!" cried the prisoner.

He offered no resistance, knowing that in case he did he would be
thrust through that moment. He even struck his horse with his heels to
urge him on; and so Volodyovski led him as a wolf leads a kid.

In view of this, a couple of tens of warriors rushed out from both
sides of the river, for no more could find place on the dam. They
fought in single combat, man with man, horse with horse, sabre with
sabre; and it was a wonderful sight, that series of duels, on which
both armies looked with the greatest interest, drawing auguries from
them of the future success. The morning sun shone upon the combatants,
and the air was so transparent that even the faces might be seen from
both sides. Any one looking from a distance would have thought that it
was a tournament or games. But at one moment a riderless horse would
spring from the tumult; at another, a body would tumble from the dam
into the clear mirror of the water, which splashed up in golden sparks
and then moved forward in a circling wavelet farther and farther from

The courage of the soldiers in both armies grew as they beheld the
bravery of their own men and their eagerness for the fight. Each sent
good wishes to its own. Suddenly Skshetuski clasped his hands and

"Vershul is lost; he fell with his horse. Look! he was sitting on the
white one."

But Vershul was not lost, though he had indeed fallen with his horse;
for they had both been thrown by Pulyan, a former Cossack of Prince
Yeremi, then next in command to Krívonos. He was a famous skirmisher,
and had never left off that game. He was so strong that he could easily
break two horseshoes at once. He had the reputation of being invincible
in single combat. When he had thrown Vershul he attacked a gallant
officer, Koroshlyakhtsits, and cut him terribly,--almost to the saddle.
Others drew back in fear. Seeing this, Pan Longin turned his Livonian
mare against him.

"You are lost!" cried Pulyan, when he saw the foolhardy man.

"It can't be helped," answered Podbipienta, raising his sabre for the

He had not, however, his Zervikaptur, that being reserved for ends too
important to permit its use in desultory combat. He had left it in the
hands of his faithful armor-bearer in the ranks, and had merely a light
blade of blue steel engraved with gold. Pulyan endured its first blow,
though he saw in a moment that he had to do with no common enemy, for
his sword quivered to the palm of his hand. He endured the second and
the third blow; then, either he recognized the greater skill of his
opponent in fencing, or perhaps he wished to exhibit his tremendous
strength in view of both armies, or, pushed to the edge of the dam, he
feared to be thrown into the water by Pan Longings enormous beast. It
is enough that after he had received the last blow he brought the
horses side by side, and seized the Lithuanian by the waist in his
powerful arms.

They grasped each other like two bears when they are fighting for a
female. They wound themselves around each other like two pines which,
having grown from a single stump, intertwine till they form but one
tree. All held breath and gazed in silence on the struggle of the
combatants, each one of whom was considered the strongest among his
own. You would have said that both had become one body, for they
remained a long time motionless. But their faces grew red; and only
from the veins which swelled on their foreheads, and from their backs
bent like bows, could you suspect under that terrible quiet the
superhuman tension of the arms which crushed them.

At length both began to quiver; but by degrees the face of Pan Longin
grew redder and redder and the face of the Cossack bluer and bluer.
Still a moment passed. The disquiet of the spectators increased.

Suddenly the silence was broken by a hollow, smothered voice: "Let me

"No, my darling!" Something gave a sudden and terrible rattle, a groan
was heard as if from under the ground, a wave of black blood burst from
Pulyan's mouth, and his head dropped on his shoulder.

Pan Longin lifted the Cossack from his seat, and before the spectators
had time to think what had happened, threw him on his own saddle and
started on a trot toward Skshetuski's regiment.

"Vivat!"  cried the Vishnyevetski men.

"Destruction!" answered the Zaporojians.

Instead of being confused by the defeat of their leader, they attacked
the enemy the more stubbornly. A crowded struggle followed, which the
narrowness of the place made the more venomous; and the Cossacks in
spite of their bravery would certainly have yielded to the greater
skill of their opponents, had it not been that suddenly the trumpets
from the camp of Krívonos sounded a retreat.

They withdrew at once; and their opponents, after they had stopped
awhile to show that they had kept the field, withdrew also. The dam was
deserted; there remained on it only bodies of men and horses, as if in
testimony of that which would be,--and that road of death lay black
between the two armies,--but a light breath of wind wrinkled the smooth
surface of the water and sounded plaintively through the leaves of the
willows standing here and there above the banks of the pond.

Meanwhile the regiments of Krívonos moved like countless flocks of
starlings and plover. The mob went in advance, then the regular
Zaporojian infantry, companies of cavalry, Tartar volunteers, and
Cossack artillery, and all without much order. They hurried before the
others, wishing to force the dam by countless numbers, and then
inundate and cover the army of the prince. The savage Krívonos believed
in the fist and the sabre, not in military art. Therefore he urged his
whole power to the attack, and ordered the regiments marching from
behind to push on those in front, so that they must go even if against
their will. Cannon-balls began to plunge into the water like wild swans
and divers, causing no damage however to the prince's troops, by reason
of the distance. The torrent of people covered the dam and advanced
without hindrance. A part of that wave on reaching the river sought a
passage, and not finding it turned back to the embankment, and marched
in such a dense throng that, as Osinski said afterward, one might have
ridden on horseback over their heads, and so covered the embankment
that not a span of free earth remained.

Yeremi looked on this from the high shore, his brows wrinkled, and
from his eyes flashed malicious lightning toward those crowds. Seeing
the disorder and rush of the regiments of Krívonos, he said to

"The enemy begin with us in peasant fashion, and disregarding military
art, come on like beaters at a hunt, but they will not reach this

Meanwhile, as if challenging his words, the Cossacks had come to the
middle of the embankment. There they paused, astonished and disquieted
by the silence of the prince's forces. But just at that moment there
was a movement among these forces, and they retreated, leaving between
themselves and the embankment a broad half-circle, which was to be the
field of battle.

Then the infantry of Koritski opened, disclosing the throats of
Vurtsel's cannon, turned toward the embankment, and in the corner
formed by the slough and the embankment shone among the thickets along
the bank the muskets of Osinski's Germans.

It was clear in a moment to military men on whose side the victory must
be. Only a mad leader like Krívonos could rush to battle on conditions
according to which he could not even pass the river in case
Vishnyevetski wished to prevent him.

But the prince permitted part of his enemy's army to cross the
embankment so as to surround and destroy it. The great leader took
advantage of the blunders of his opponents, who did not even consider
that it was impossible to reinforce his men on the other bank, except
through a narrow passage over which no considerable number of men could
be sent at one time; practised soldiers therefore looked with wonder at
the action of Krívonos, who was not forced by anything to such a mad

He was forced by ambition alone and a thirst for blood. He had learned
that Hmelnitski, in spite of the preponderance of power under Krívonos,
fearing the result of a battle with Yeremi, was marching with all his
forces to his aid. Orders came not to deliver battle; but for that very
reason Krívonos determined to deliver it.

Having taken Polónnoe, he got the taste of blood, and did not like to
divide it with any one; therefore he hastened. He would lose half of
his men,--well, what of that! With the rest he would overwhelm the
slender forces of the prince and cut them to pieces. He would bring the
head of Vishnyevetski as a present to Hmelnitski.

The billows of the mob had reached the end of the embankment, passed
it, and spread over the half-circle abandoned by Yeremi's army. But at
this moment the concealed infantry of Osinski opened upon them in the
flank, and from the cannon of Vurtsel there bloomed out long wreaths of
smoke, the earth trembled from the roar, and the battle began along the
whole line.

Clouds of smoke concealed the shores of the Sula, the pond, the
embankment, and even the field itself, so that all was hidden, save at
times the scarlet, glittering uniforms of the dragoons, and the crests
gleaming over the flying helmets, as everything seethed in that
terrible cloud. The bells of the town were ringing, and mingled their
sad groans with the deep bellowing of the guns. From the Cossack camp
regiment after regiment rolled on to the embankment.

Those who crossed and reached the other side of the river extended in
the twinkle of an eye into a long line and rushed with rage on the
prince's regiments. The battle extended from one end of the pond to the
bend in the river and the swampy meadows, which were flooded that rainy

The mob and the men of the lower country had to conquer or perish,
having behind them water, toward which they were pushed by the infantry
and cavalry of the prince.

When the hussars moved forward, Zagloba, though he had short breath and
did not like a throng, galloped with the others, because in fact he
could not do otherwise without danger of being trampled to death. He
flew on therefore, closing his eyes, and through his head there flew
with lightning speed the thought, "Stratagem is nothing, stratagem is
nothing; the stupid win, the wise perish!" Then he was seized with
spite against the war, against the Cossacks, the hussars, and every one
else in the world. He began to curse, to pray. The wind whistled in his
ears, the breath was hemmed in his breast. Suddenly his horse struck
against something; he felt resistance. Then he opened his eyes, and
what did he see? Scythes, sabres, flails, a crowd of inflamed faces,
eyes, mustaches,--and all indefinite, unknown, all trembling,
galloping, furious. Then he was transported with rage against those
enemies, because they are not going to the devil, because they are
rushing up to his face and forcing him to fight. "You wanted it, now
you have it," thought he, and he began to slash blindly on every side.
Sometimes he cut the air, and sometimes he felt that his blade had sunk
into something soft. At the same time he felt that he was still living,
and this gave him extraordinary hope. "Slay! kill!" he roared like a
buffalo. At last those frenzied faces vanished from his eyes, and in
their places he saw a multitude of visages, tops of caps, and the
shouts almost split his ears. "Are they fleeing?" shot through his
head. "Yes!" Then daring sprang up in him beyond measure. "Scoundrels!"
he shouted, "is that the way you meet a noble?" He sprang among the
fleeing enemy, passed many, and entangled in the crowd began to labor
with greater presence of mind now.

Meanwhile his comrades pressed the Cossacks to the bank of the Sula,
covered pretty thickly with trees, and drove them along the shore to
the embankment, taking no prisoners, for there was no time.

Suddenly Zagloba felt that his horse began to spread out under him; at
the same time something heavy fell on him and covered his whole head,
so that he was completely enveloped in darkness.

"Oh, save me!" he cried, beating the horse with his heels.

The steed, however, apparently wearied with the weight of the rider,
only groaned and stood in one place.

Zagloba heard the screams and shouts of the horsemen rushing around
him; then that whole hurricane swept by and all was in apparent quiet.

Again thoughts began to rush through his head with the swiftness of
Tartar arrows: "What is this? What has happened? Jesus and Mary, I am
in captivity!"

On his forehead drops of cold sweat came out. Evidently his head was
bound just as he had once bound Bogun. That weight which he feels on
his shoulder is the hand of a Cossack. But why don't they hang him or
kill him? Why is he standing in one place?

"Let me go, you scoundrel!" cried he at last, with a muffled voice.


"Let me go! I'll spare your life. Let me go, I say!"

No answer.

Zagloba struck into the sides of his horse again with his heels, but
again without result; the prodded beast only stretched out wider and
remained in the same place.

Finally rage seized the unfortunate captive, and drawing a knife from
the sheath that hung at his belt, he gave a terrible stab behind. But
the knife only cut the air.

Then Zagloba pulled with both hands at the covering which bound his
head, and tore it in a moment. What is this?

No Cossack. Deserted all around. Only in the distance was to be seen in
the smoke the red dragoons of Volodyovski flying past, and farther on
the glittering armor of the hussars pursuing the remnant of the
defeated, who were retreating from the field toward the water. At
Zagloba's feet lay a Cossack regimental banner. Evidently the fleeing
Cossack had dropped it so that the staff hit Zagloba's shoulder, and
the cloth covered his head.

Seeing all this, and understanding it perfectly, that hero regained his
presence of mind completely.

"Oh, ho!" said he, "I have captured a banner. How is this? Didn't I
capture it? If justice is not defeated in this battle, then I am sure
of a reward. Oh, you scoundrels! it is your luck that my horse gave
out! I did not know myself when I thought I was greater in strategy
than in bravery. I can be of some higher use in the army than eating
cakes. Oh, God save us! some other crowd is rushing on. Don't come
here, dog-brothers; don't come this way! May the wolves eat this horse!
Kill! slay!"

Indeed, a new band of Cossacks were rushing toward Zagloba, raising
unearthly voices, closely pursued by the armored men of Polyanovski.
And perhaps Zagloba would have found his death under the hoofs of their
horses, had it not been that the hussars of Skshetuski, having finished
those whom they had been pursuing, turned to take between two fires
those onrushing parties. Seeing this, the Zaporojians ran toward the
water, only to find death in the swamps and deep places after escaping
the sword. Those who fell on their knees begging for quarter died under
the steel. The defeat was terrible and complete, but most terrible on
the embankment. All who passed that, were swept away in the half-circle
left by the forces of the prince. Those who did not pass, fell under
the continual fire of Vurtsel's cannon and the guns of the German
infantry. They could neither go forward nor backward; for Krívonos
urged on still new regiments, which, pushing forward, closed the only
road to escape. It seemed as though Krívonos had sworn to destroy his
own men, who stifled, trampled, and fought one another, fell, sprang
into the water on both sides, and were drowned. On one side were black
masses of fugitives, and on the other masses advancing; in the middle,
piles and mountains and rows of dead bodies; groans, screams, men
deprived of speech; the madness of terror, disorder, chaos. The whole
pond was full of men and horses; the water overflowed the banks.

At times the artillery was silent. Then the embankment, like the mouth
of a cannon, threw forth crowds of Zaporojians and the mob, who rushed
over the half-circle and went under the swords of the cavalry waiting
for them. Then Vurtsel began to play again with his rain of iron and
lead; the Cossack reinforcement barred the embankment. Whole hours were
spent in these bloody struggles.

Krívonos, furious, foaming at the mouth, did not give up the battle
yet, and hurried thousands of men to the jaws of death.

Yeremi, on the other side, in silver armor, sat on his horse, on a
lofty mound called at that time the Kruja Mogila, and looked on. His
face was calm; his eye took in the whole embankment, pond, banks of the
Sluch, and extended to the place in which the enormous tabor of
Krívonos stood wrapped in the bluish haze of the distance. The eyes of
the prince never left that collection of wagons. At last he turned to
the massive voevoda of Kieff, and said,--

"We shall not capture the tabor to-day."

"How? You wished to--"

"Time is flying quickly. It is too late. See! it is almost evening."

In fact, from the time the skirmishers went out, the battle, kept up by
the stubbornness of Krívonos, had lasted already so long that the sun
had but an hour left of its whole daily half-circle, and inclined to
its setting. The light, lofty, small clouds, announcing fair weather
and scattered over the sky like white-fleeced lambs, began to grow red
and disappear in groups from the field of heaven. The flow of Cossacks
to the embankment stopped gradually, and those regiments that had
already come upon it retreated in dismay and disorder.

The battle was ended, and ended because the enraged crowd fell upon
Krívonos at last, shouting with despair and madness,--

"Traitor! you are destroying us. You bloody dog! We will bind you
ourselves, and give you up to Yeremi, and thus secure our lives. Death
to you, not to us!"

"To-morrow I will give you the prince and all his army, or perish
myself," answered Krívonos.

But the hoped for to-morrow had yet to come, and the present to-day was
a day of defeat and disorder. Several thousand of the best warriors of
the lower country, not counting the mob, lay on the field of battle, or
were drowned in the pond and river. Nearly two thousand were taken
prisoners; fourteen colonels were killed, not counting sotniks,
essauls, and other elders. Pulyan, next in command to Krívonos, had
fallen into the hands of the enemy alive, but with broken ribs.

"To-morrow we will cut them all up," said Krívonos. "I will neither eat
nor drink till it is done."

In the opposite camp the captured banners were thrown down at the feet
of the terrible prince. Each of the captors brought his own, so that
they formed a considerable crowd,--altogether forty. When Zagloba
passed by, he threw his down with such force that the staff split.
Seeing this, the prince detained him, and asked,--

"And you captured that banner with your own hands?"

"At your service, your Highness."

"I see that you are not only a Ulysses, but an Achilles."

"I am a simple soldier, but I serve under Alexander of Macedon."

"Since you receive no wages, the treasurer will pay you, in addition to
what you have had, two hundred ducats for this honorable exploit."

Zagloba seized the prince by the knees, and said, "Your favor is
greater than my bravery, which would gladly hide itself behind its own

A scarcely visible smile wandered over the dark face of Skshetuski; but
the knight was silent, and even later on he never said anything to the
prince, or any one else, of the fears of Zagloba before the battle; but
Zagloba himself walked away with such threatening mien that, seeing
him, the soldiers of the other regiments pointed at him, saying,--

"He is the man who did most to-day."

Night came. On both sides of the river and the pond thousands of fires
were burning, and smoke rose to the sky in columns. The wearied
soldiers strengthened themselves with food and gorailka, or gave
themselves courage for tomorrow's battle by relating the exploits of
the present day. But loudest of all spoke Zagloba, boasting of what he
had done, and what he could have done if his horse had not failed.

"I can tell you," said he, turning to the officers of the prince, and
the nobles of Tishkyevich's command, "that great battles are no novelty
for me. I was in many of them in Moldavia and Turkey; but when I was on
the field I was afraid--not of the enemy, for who is afraid of such
trash!--but of my own impulsiveness, for I thought immediately that it
would carry me too far."

"And did it?"

"It did. Ask Skshetuski. The moment I saw Vershul falling with his
horse, I wanted to gallop to his aid without asking a question. My
comrades could scarcely hold me back."

"True," said Skshetuski, "we had to hold you in."

"But," interrupted Karvich, "where is Vershul?"

"He has already gone on a scouting expedition, he knows no rest."

"See then, gentlemen," said Zagloba, displeased at the interruption,
"how I captured the banner."

"Then Vershul is not wounded?" inquired Karvich again.

"This is not the first one that I have captured in my life, but none
cost me such trouble."

"He is not wounded, only bruised," answered Azulevich, a Tartar, "and
has gulped water, for he fell head first into the pond."

"Then I wonder the fish didn't die," said Zagloba, with anger, "for the
water must have boiled from such a flaming head."

"But he is a great warrior."

"Not so great, since a half John[13] was enough for him. Tfu! it is
impossible to talk with you. You might learn from me how to capture
banners from the enemy."

Further conversation was interrupted by the youthful Pan Aksak, who
approached the fire at that moment.

"I bring you news, gentlemen," said he, with a clear half-childish

"The nurse hasn't washed his bib, the cat has drunk his milk, and his
cup is broken," muttered Zagloba.

But Pan Aksak paid no attention to this fling at his youth, and said:
"They are burning Pulyan."

"The dogs will have toast," said Zagloba.

"And he is making a confession. The negotiations are broken. Kisel is
nearly wild. Hmel[14] (hops) is coming with all his forces to help

"Hops? What hops? Who is making anything of hops? If hops are on the
road, there will be beer then. We don't care for hops," said Zagloba,
looking at the same time with fierce, haughty eyes at those around.

"Hmel is coming; but Krívonos didn't wait, therefore he lost--"

"Yes, he played and lost."

"Six thousand Cossacks are already in Makhnovka. Two thousand Bogun is

"Who? who?" asked Zagloba instantly, in a changed voice.



"That is the confession of Pulyan."

"Ah, here is a cake for you, grandmother!" cried Zagloba, piteously.
"Can they get here soon?"

"In three days. But on the way to battle they will not hurry too much,
so as not to tire their horses."

"But I will hurry!" muttered Zagloba. "Oh, angels of God, save me
from that ruffian! I would gladly give my captured banner if that
water-burner would only break his neck on the way to this place. I hope
too that we shall not wait here long. We have shown Krívonos what we
can do, and now it is time to rest. I hate that Bogun so much that I
cannot call to mind his devilish name without abomination. I did make a
choice! I couldn't stay in Bar? Bad luck brought me here."

"Don't worry yourself," whispered Skshetuski, "for it is a shame!
Between you and me nothing threatens you here."

"Nothing threatens me? You don't know him! Why, he might creep up to us
now among the fires here." Zagloba looked around disquieted. "And he is
as enraged at you as at me."

"God grant me to meet him!" said Pan Yan.

"If that is a favor, then I have no wish to receive it. In my character
of Christian I forgive him all his offences willingly, but on condition
that he be hanged two days before. I am not alarmed, but you have no
idea what surpassing disgust seizes me. I like to know with whom I have
to deal,--if with a noble, then a noble; if with a peasant, then a
peasant,--but he is a sort of incarnate devil, with whom you don't know
what course to take. I ventured many a thing with him; but such eyes as
he made when I bound his head, I cannot describe to you,--to the hour
of my death I shall remember them. I don't wish to rouse the devil
while he sleeps. Once is enough for a trick. I will say to you also
that you are ungrateful, have no thought of that unhappy woman."

"How so?"

"Because," said Zagloba, drawing the knight away from the fire, "you
stay here and gratify your military caprice and fancy by fighting day
after day, while she is drowning herself in tears, waiting in vain for
an answer. Another man with real love in his heart and pity for her
grief wouldn't do this, but would have sent me off long ago."

"Do you think then of returning to Bar?"

"Even to-day, for I have pity on her."

Pan Yan raised his eyes yearningly to the stars and said,--

"Do not speak to me of insincerity, for God is my witness that I never
raise a bit of bread to my mouth or take a moment of sleep without
thinking of her first, and nothing can be stronger in my heart than the
thought of her. I have not sent you with an answer hitherto because I
wished to go myself to be with her at once. And there are no wings in
the world and no speed which I would not use could they serve me in
going to her."

"Then why don't you fly?"

"Because I cannot before battle. I am a soldier and a noble, therefore
I must think of honor."

"But to-day we are after the battle; therefore we can start, even this

Pan Yan sighed.

"To-morrow we attack Krívonos."

"I don't understand your ways. You beat young Krívonos; old Krívonos
came, and you beat old Krívonos. Now what's-his-name (not to mention
him in an evil hour), Bogun, will come, you will beat him. Hmelnitski
will come. Oh, what the devil! And as it will go on this way it would
be better for you to enter into partnership with Podbipienta at once,
then there would be a fool with continence plus his mightiness
Skshetuski, total two fools and one continence. Let's have peace, for,
as God lives, I will be the first to persuade the princess to put horns
on you; and at Bar lives Andrei Pototski, and when he looks at her fire
flashes out of his eyes. Tfu! if this should be said by some young
fellow who had not seen a battle and wanted to make a reputation, then
I could understand; but not you, who have drunk blood like a wolf,
and at Makhnovka, I am told, killed a kind of infernal dragon of a
man-eater. I swear, by that moon in heaven, that you are up to
something here, or that you have got such a taste of blood that you
like it better than your bride."

Skshetuski looked involuntarily at the moon, which was sailing in the
high starry heavens like a ship above the camp.

"You are mistaken," said he, after a while. "I do not want blood, nor
am I working for reputation, but it would not be proper to leave my
comrades in a difficult struggle in which the whole regiment must
engage, _nemine excepto_. In this is involved knightly honor, a sacred
thing. As to the war it will undoubtedly drag on, for the rabble has
grown too great; but if Hmelnitski comes to the aid of Krívonos, there
will be an intermission. To-morrow Krívonos will either fight or he
will not. If he does, with God's aid he will receive dire punishment,
and we must go to a quiet place to draw breath. During these two months
we neither sleep nor eat, we only fight and fight; day and night we
have nothing over our heads, exposed to all the attacks of the
elements. The prince is a great leader, but prudent. He does not rush
on Hmelnitski with a few thousand men against legions. I know also that
he will go to Zbaraj, recruit there, get new soldiers,--nobles from the
whole Commonwealth will hurry to him,--and then we shall move to a
general campaign. To-morrow will be the last day of work, and after
to-morrow I shall be able to accompany you to Bar with a clean heart.
And I will add, to pacify you, that Bogun can in no wise come here
to-morrow and take part in the battle; and even if he should I hope
that his peasant star will pale, not only before that of the prince,
but before my own."

"He is an incarnate Beelzebub. I have told you that I dislike a throng;
but he is worse than a throng, though I repeat it is not so much from
fear as from an unconquerable aversion I have for the man. But no more
of this. Tomorrow comes the tanning of the peasants' backs, and then to
Bar. Oh, those beautiful eyes will laugh at the sight of you, and that
face will blush! I tell you, even I feel lonely without her, for I love
her as a father. And no wonder. I have no legitimate children; my
fortune is far away, for it is in Turkey, where my scoundrelly agents
steal it all; and I live as an orphan in the world, and in my old age I
shall have to go and live with Podbipienta at Myshekishki."

"Oh, no; don't let your head ache over that! You have done something
for us; we cannot be too thankful to you."

Further conversation was interrupted by some officer who passing along
inquired: "Who stands there?"

"Vershul!" exclaimed Skshetuski, recognizing him by his voice. "Are you
from the scouting-party?"

"Yes; and now from the prince."

"What news?"

"Battle to-morrow. The enemy are widening the embankment, building
bridges over the Stira and Sluch, and on the morrow wish to come to us
without fail."

"What did the prince say to that?"

"The prince said: 'All right!'"

"Nothing more?"

"Nothing. He gave no order to hinder them, and axes are chopping; they
will work till morning."

"Did you get informants?"

"I captured seven. All confessed that they have heard of
Hmelnitski,--that he is coming, but probably far away yet. What a

"Yes, you can see as in the day. And how do you feel after the fall?"

"My bones are sore. I am going to thank our Hercules and then sleep,
for I am tired. If I could doze a couple of hours--good-night!"


"Go you to sleep also," said Skshetuski to Zagloba; "for it is late,
and there will be work to-morrow."

"And the next day a journey," said Zagloba.

They turned, said their prayers, and then lay down near the fire.

Soon the fires began to go out one after another. Silence embraced the
camp; but the moon cast on the men silver rays, with which it illumined
every little while new groups of sleepers. The silence was broken only
by the universal, mighty snoring, and the call of the sentinels
watching the camp.

But sleep did not close the heavy lids of the soldiers long. Scarcely
had the first dawn whitened the shadows of night when the trumpets in
every corner of the camp thundered the _reveille_.

An hour later the prince, to the great astonishment of the knights,
drew back along the whole line.

                             CHAPTER XXXII.

But it was the retreat of a lion needing room for a spring.

The prince purposely allowed Krívonos to cross so as to inflict on him
the greater defeat. In the very beginning of the battle he had the
cavalry turned and urged on as if in flight, seeing which the men of
the lower country and the mob broke their ranks to overtake and
surround him. Then Yeremi turned suddenly, and with his whole cavalry
struck them at once so terribly that they were unable to resist. The
prince's troops pursued them five miles to the crossing, then over
the bridges, the embankment, and two miles and a half to the camp,
cutting and killing them without mercy. The hero of the day was the
sixteen-year-old Pan Aksak, who gave the first blow and produced the
first disorder. Only with such an army, old and trained, could the
prince use such stratagems, and feign flight which in any other ranks
might become real. This being the case, the second day ended still more
disastrously for Krívonos than the first. All his field-pieces were
taken, and a number of flags,--among them several royal flags captured
by the Cossacks at Korsún. If the infantry of Koritski and Osinski with
the cannon of Vurtsel could have followed the cavalry, the camp would
have been taken at a blow. But before they came up it was night, and
the enemy had already retreated a considerable distance, so that it was
impossible to reach them. But Zatsvilikhovski captured half the camp,
and with it enormous supplies of arms and provisions. The crowd seized
Krívonos twice, wishing to give him up to the prince; and the promise
of an immediate return to Hmelnitski barely sufficed to save him. He
fled therefore with the remaining half of his tabor, with a decimated
army, beaten and in despair, and did not halt till he reached
Makhnovka, where when Hmelnitski came up, in the moment of his first
anger, he ordered him to be chained by the neck to a cannon.

But when his first anger had passed the Zaporojian hetman remembered
that the unfortunate Krívonos had covered Volynia with blood, captured
Polónnoe, and sent thousands of nobles to the other world, left their
bodies without burial, and had been victorious everywhere till he met
Yeremi. For these services the Zaporojian hetman took pity on him, and
not only ordered him to be freed immediately from the cannon, but
restored him to command, and sent him to Podolia to new conquests and

The prince now announced to his army the rest so much desired. In the
last battle it had suffered considerable losses, especially at the
storming of the tabor by the cavalry, behind which the Cossacks
defended themselves with equal stubbornness and adroitness. Five
hundred soldiers were killed; Colonel Mokrski, severely wounded, died
soon after; Pan Kushel, Ponyatovski, and young Aksak were shot, but not
dangerously; and Zagloba, becoming accustomed to the throng, took his
place manfully with the others, struck twice with a flail, he fell on
his back, and being unable to move, lay as dead in Skshetuski's wagon.

Fate hindered the plan of going to Bar; for they could not start
immediately, especially since the prince had sent Pan Yan, at the head
of a number of troops, as far as Zaslav, to exterminate the bands of
peasants assembled there. The knight went without mentioning Bar to the
prince, and during five days burned and slaughtered till he cleared the

At last, even the soldiers became wearied beyond measure by the
uninterrupted fighting, distant expeditions, ambuscades, and watching;
he decided therefore to return to the prince, who, as he was informed,
had gone to Tarnopol.

On the eve of his return he stopped at Sukhojintsi, on the Khomor. He
disposed his soldiers in the village, took his lodgings for the night
in a peasant's cottage, and because he was greatly wearied from labor
and want of rest, fell asleep at once, and slept like a stone all

About morning, when half asleep, half awake, he began to doze and
dream. Wonderful images were in movement before his eyes. It seemed to
him that he was in Lubni, that he had never left the place, that he was
sleeping in his room in the armory, and that Jendzian, as was his wont
in the morning, was bustling around with clothes and preparing for his
master's rising. Gradually, however, consciousness began to scatter the
phantoms. He remembered that he was in Sukhojintsi, not in Lubni. Still
the form of his servant did not dissolve in mist, and Pan Yan saw him
continually sitting under the window, occupied in oiling armor-straps,
which had shrunk considerably from the heat. But he still thought that
it was a vision of sleep, and closed his eyes again. After a while he
opened them. Jendzian was sitting under the window.

"Jendzian," called Skshetuski, "is that you, or is it your ghost?"

The young fellow, frightened by the sudden call, dropped the
breastplate on the floor with a clatter, spread his arms, and said:
"Oh, for God's sake! why do you scream, my master, that I am like a
ghost? I am alive and well!"

"And you have come back?"

"But have you sent me off?"

"Come here to me; let me embrace you."

The faithful youth fell upon the floor, and caught Skshetuski by the
knees. Skshetuski kissed him on the forehead with joy, and repeated:
"You are alive, you are alive!"

"Oh, my master, I cannot speak from joy that I see you again in health!
You shouted so that I let the breastplate fall. The straps have shrunk
up,--it is clear that you have had no one. Praise be to thee, O God!
Oh, my dear master!"

"When did you come back?"

"Last night."

"Why didn't you wake me up?"

"Why should I wake you up? I came early to take your clothes."

"Where did you come from?"

"From Gushchi."

"What were you doing there? What has happened to you? Tell me."

"Well, you see the Cossacks came to Gushchi, which belongs to the
voevoda of Bratslav, to plunder and burn, and I was there earlier, for
I went there with Father Patroni Lasko, who took me to Hmelnitski from
Gushchi; for the voevoda sent him to Hmelnitski with letters. I went
back with him, therefore, and at that time the Cossacks were burning
Gushchi; and they killed Father Patroni for his love to us, and no
doubt they would have killed the voevoda too, if he had been there,
though he belongs to their church and is their great benefactor--"

"But speak clearly and don't confuse things, for I cannot understand.
You have been with the Cossacks, then, and spent some time with
Hmelnitski. Is that true?"

"Yes, with the Cossacks; for when they took me in Chigirin they thought
I was one of their men. Now put on your clothes, my master! Dress--Oh,
Lord bless me, everything you have is worn out, so there is nothing to
lay hands on. But don't be angry with me because I did not deliver in
Rozlogi the letter which you wrote in Kudák. That rascal, Bogun, took
it from me, and had it not been for that fat noble I should have lost
my life."

"I know, I know. It is not your fault. That fat noble is in the camp.
He has told me everything just as it was. He has also stolen from Bogun
the lady, who is in good health and living at Bar."

"Praise be to God for that! I knew too that Bogun didn't get her. Then
of course the wedding is not far away?"

"It is not. From here we shall go by orders to Tarnopol, and from there
to Bar."

"Thanks be to God on high! He will surely hang himself, that Bogun; but
a witch has already foretold him that he will never get her of whom he
is thinking, and that a Pole will have her. That Pole is surely you."

"How do you know this?"

"I heard it. I must tell you everything in order, and do you dress, my
master, for they are cooking breakfast for you. When I was going in the
boat from Kudák we were a long time sailing, for it was against the
current, and besides the boat got injured, and we had to repair it. We
were going on then, going on, my master, going on--"

"Go on! go on!" interrupted Skshetuski, impatiently.

"And we came to Chigirin; and what happened to me there you know

"I do."

"I was lying there in the stable without a sight of God's world. And
then Hmelnitski came immediately after the departure of Bogun, with a
tremendous Zaporojian force. And as the Grand Hetman had previously
punished a great many Chigirin people for their love to the
Zaporojians, many of them were killed and wounded. Therefore the
Cossacks thought that I was from Chigirin. They didn't kill me, but
gave me necessary provisions and care, and didn't let the Tartars take
me, though they let them do everything else. When I came to myself I
began to think what I was to do. Those rascals by this time had gone to
Korsún and defeated the hetmans. Oh, my master, what my eyes saw is not
to be described. They concealed nothing from me, knew no shame, because
they took me for one of themselves. I was thinking whether to flee or
not, but I saw it would be safer to remain until a better opportunity
should offer itself. When they began to bring in from the battlefield
at Korsún cloths, silver, plate, precious stones, oh, my master, my
heart nearly burst, and my eyes almost came out of my head. Such
robbers!--they sold six silver spoons for a thaler, and later for a
quart of vudka; a golden button or brooch or a hat cockade you might
buy with a pint. Then I thought to myself: 'Why should I sit idle? Let
me make something. With God's help I will return some time to the
Jendzians at Podlesia, where my parents are living. I will give this to
them, for they have a lawsuit with the Yavorskis, which has been going
on now for fifty years, and they have nothing to continue it with.' I
bought then so much stuff of every kind that it took two horses to
carry it. This was the consolation of my sorrows, for I was terribly
grieved on your account."

"Oh, Jendzian, you are always the same; you must have profit out of

"What is the harm, if God has blessed me? I do not steal; and if you
gave me a purse for the road to Rozlogi, here it is. I ought to return
it, for I didn't go to Rozlogi."

Saying this, the young fellow unbuckled his belt, took out the purse,
and placed it before the knight. Skshetuski smiled and said,--

"Since you had such good luck, you are surely richer than I; but keep
the purse."

"I thank you very humbly. I have collected a little, with God's favor.
My father and mother will be glad, and my grandfather, who is now
ninety years old. But they will continue their lawsuit with the
Yavorskis till the last penny, and send them out with packs on their
backs. You will also be the gainer, for I shall not mention that belt
you promised me in Kudák, though it suited me well."

"Yes, for you have already reminded me! Oh, such a son of a----! A
regular insatiable wolf! I don't know where that belt is; but if I
promised, I will give you, if not that one, another."

"I thank you, my master," said he, embracing Skshetuski's knees.

"No need of that! Go on; tell what happened!"

"The Lord then sent me some profit among the robbers. But I was
tormented from not knowing what had happened to you, and lest Bogun had
carried off the lady; till they brought me word that he was lying in
Cherkasi barely alive, wounded by the prince's men. I went to Cherkasi,
since, as you are aware, I know how to make plasters and dress wounds.
The Cossacks knew that I could do this. Well, Donyéts, a colonel, sent
me to Cherkasi, and went with me himself to nurse that robber. There a
burden fell from my heart, for I heard that our young lady had escaped
with that noble. I went then to Bogun. I was thinking, 'Will he know me
or not?' But he was lying in a fever, and at first didn't know me.
Later on he knew me, and said, 'You were going with a letter to
Rozlogi?' 'Yes,' I answered. Then he said again, 'I struck you in
Chigirin?' 'Yes.' 'Then you serve Pan Skshetuski?' 'I am serving no one
now,' I replied. 'I had more evil than good in that service, therefore
I chose to go to the Cossacks for freedom; and I am nursing you now for
ten days, and am restoring you to health.' He believed me, and became
very confidential. I learned from him that Rozlogi was burned, that he
had killed the two princes. The other Kurtsevichi wished at first to go
to our prince, but could not, and escaped to the Lithuanian army. But
the worst was when he remembered that fat noble. Then, my master, he
gnashed his teeth like a man cracking nuts."

"Was he long sick?"

"Long, long. His wounds healed quickly; then they opened again, for he
didn't take care of them at first. I sat many a night with him,--may he
be cut up!--as with some good man. And you must know, my master, that I
swore by my salvation to take vengeance on him; and I will keep my
oath, though I have to follow him all my life; for he maltreated me, an
innocent person, and pounded me like a dog. And I am no trash, either!
He must perish at my hand unless somebody else kills him first. I tell
you that about a hundred times I had a chance, for often there was no
one near him but me. I thought to myself, 'Shall I stab him or not?'
But I was ashamed to kill him in his bed."

"It was praiseworthy of you not to kill him while sick and weak. That
would be the deed of a peasant, not of a noble."

"And you know, my master, I had the same thought. I recollected too
that when my parents sent me from home my grandfather blessed me, and
said, 'Remember, you dunce, that you are a noble. Have ambition, serve
faithfully; but don't let any man trample on you.' He said also that
when a noble acts in peasant fashion the Lord Jesus weeps. I recalled
that phrase and I restrained myself. I had to let the chance pass. And
now he was more confidential. More than once he asked, 'How shall I
reward you?' And I said, 'Any way you wish,' And I cannot complain. He
supplied me bountifully, and I took all he gave me; for I thought to
myself, 'Why should I leave it in the hands of a robber?' On his
account others gave me presents; for I tell you, my master, that there
is no one so beloved as he, both by the men from below and the mob,
though there is not a noble in the Commonwealth who has such contempt
for the mob as he."

Here Jendzian began to twist his head as if he remembered and wondered
at something; and after a while he said,--

"He is a strange man, and it must be confessed that he is altogether of
noble nature. And that young lady,--but he loves her! Oh, mighty God,
but he loves her! As soon as he was a little restored, Dontsovna
came to him to soothsay; but she told him nothing good. She is a
brazen-faced giantess who is in friendship with devils, but she is a
good-looking woman. When she laughs you would swear that a mare was
neighing in the meadow. She has white teeth so strong that she might
chew up a breastplate. When she walks the ground trembles. And, by the
evident visitation of God, my good looks attracted her. Then she
wouldn't pass without catching me by the head or the sleeve and jerking
me. More than once she said, 'Come!' But I was afraid that the devil
might break my neck if I went, and then I should lose all I had
gathered; so I answered, 'Haven't you enough of others?' She said, 'You
please me; though you are a stripling, you please me.' 'Be off,
bass-viol!' I said. Then said she again, 'I like you, I like you!'"

"But you saw the soothsaying?"

"I did; and I heard it. There was a sort of smudge, a seething and
squeaking, and shadows, so that I was frightened. She was standing in
the middle of the room, looking stern, with sullen black brows, and
repeated: 'The Pole is near her! the Pole is near her! Chili! huk!
chili! the Pole is near her!' Then she poured wheat into a sieve, and
looked. The grains went around like insects, and she repeated: 'Chili!
huk! chili! the Pole is near her!' Oh, my master, if he were not such a
robber it would be sad to look at his despair! After every answer she
gave he used to grow white as a shirt, fall on his back, clasp his
hands over his head, twist and whine, and beg forgiveness of the
princess that he came with violence to Rozlogi and killed her cousins.
'Where art thou, cuckoo, the loved one, the only one? I would have
borne you in my arms, and now I cannot live without you! I will not
approach you. I will be your slave if my eyes can only see you!' Then
he remembered Zagloba again, ground his teeth, bit the bed, till sleep
overpowered him; and in sleep he groaned and sighed."

"But did she never prophesy favorably for him?"

"I don't know, my master, for he recovered, and besides I left him. The
priest Lasko came, so Bogun arranged that I should go with him to
Gushchi. The robbers there found out that I had property of different
kinds, and I too made no secret of the fact that I was going to help my

"And they didn't rob you?"

"Perhaps they would have done so, but fortunately there were no Tartars
there then, and the Cossacks did not dare to rob me from fear of Bogun.
Besides they took me for one of their own. Even Hmelnitski himself
ordered me to keep my ears open and report what would be said at the
voevoda's, if there should be a meeting there. May the hangman light
his way! I went then to Gushchi. Krívonos's detachments came and killed
Father Lasko. I buried half my treasure, and escaped with the rest when
I heard that you were near Zaslav. Praise be to God on high that you
are in good health, and that you are preparing for your wedding. Then
the end of every evil will come. I told those scoundrels who went
against the prince our lord, that they wouldn't come back. They have
caught it. Now maybe the war is over."

"How over? It is only beginning now with Hmelnitski."

"And you will fight after the wedding?"

"But did you think that cowardice would seize me at the wedding?"

"I didn't think that. I know that whomsoever it seizes, it won't seize
you. I just ask; for when I take to my parents what I have collected I
should like to go with you. Maybe God will help me to avenge my wrong
on Bogun; for since it is not proper to take an unfair advantage, where
shall I find him, if not in the field? He will not hide himself."

"What a determined fellow you are!"

"Let every one have his own. And as I promised to follow him to Turkey,
it cannot be otherwise. And now I will go with you to Tarnopol, and
then to the wedding. But why do you go to Bar by Tarnopol? It is not on
the road in any way."

"I must take home my regiment."

"I understand."

"Now give me something to eat," said Pan Yan.

"I've been looking out for that. The stomach is the main thing."

"After we have eaten we will start at once."

"Praise be to God for that, though my poor nag is worn to death."

"I will order them to give you a pack-horse; you can ride on it."

"Thank you humbly," said Jendzian, smiling with delight at the thought
that including the purse and the belt a third present had come to him

                            CHAPTER XXXIII.

Pan Yan rode at the head of the prince's squadrons, but to Zbaraj
instead of Tarnopol, for a new order had come to march to the latter
place; and on the road he told his faithful attendant his own
adventures,--how he had been taken in captivity at the Saitch, how long
he had remained there, and how much he had suffered before Hmelnitski
had liberated him. They advanced slowly; for though they had no trains
or baggage, their road lay through a country which was so ruined that
the greatest exertions were necessary to obtain provisions for men and
horses. In places they met crowds of famished people, especially women
and children, who implored God for death or Tartar captivity; for then,
though in bonds, they would be fed. And still it was harvest time in
that rich land flowing with milk and honey; but the parties of Krívonos
had destroyed everything that could be destroyed, and the remnant of
the inhabitants fed themselves on the bark of the trees. Near Yampol
they first entered a country which was not so much injured by war, and
having had more rest and provisions in plenty, they went with hurried
march to Zbaraj, where they arrived in five days after leaving

There was a great concourse in Zbaraj. Prince Yeremi was there with his
whole army, and besides him no small number of soldiers and nobles had
come. War hung in the air, nothing else was mentioned; the town and
neighborhood were swarming with armed men. The peace party in Warsaw,
maintained in its hopes by Pan Kisel, the voevoda of Bratslav, had not
given up, it is true, negotiations, and continued to believe that it
would be possible to allay the storm with them; still they understood
that negotiations could have results only when there was a powerful
army to support them. The Diet of convocation was held therefore amidst
the threatenings and thunderings of war such as usually precede an
outbreak. The general militia was called out, and enlisted soldiers
were concentrated; and though the chancellor and commanders still
believed in peace, the war feeling was predominant in the minds of the
nobles. The victories won by Prince Yeremi fired the imagination. The
minds of men were burning with a desire for vengeance on the peasants,
and a desire to pay back for Jóltiya Vodi and Korsún, for the blood of
so many thousands who had died martyrs' deaths, for the disgrace and
humiliation. The name of the terrible prince was bright with the
sunlight of glory,--it was on every lip, in every heart; and together
with that name was heard, from the shores of the Baltic to the
Wilderness, the ominous word "War!"

War! War! Signs in the heavens announced it also, the excited faces of
the populace, the glittering of swords, the nightly howling of dogs
before the cottages, and the neighing of horses, catching the odor of
blood. War! Escutcheoned men through all the lands and districts and
houses and villages drew out their old armor and swords from the
storehouses. The youths sang songs about Yeremi; the women prayed
before altars; and armored men were marching to the field in Prussia
and Livonia as well as in Great Poland and populous Mazovia, and away
to God's own Carpathian peaks, and the dark pine forests of Beskid.

War lay in the nature of things. The plundering movement of the
Zaporojie and the popular uprising of the Ukraine mob demanded some
higher watchwords than slaughter and robbery, than a struggle against
serfdom and the land-grabbing of magnates. Hmelnitski knew this well,
and taking advantage of the slumbering irritation from mutual abuses
and oppressions, of which there was never a lack in those harsh times,
he changed a social into a religious struggle, kindled popular
fanaticism, and dug in the very beginning between the two camps an
abyss which could be filled neither with parchments nor negotiations,
but only with blood.

Wishing for negotiations from his soul, he wished them only to secure
his own power; but afterward--what was to be afterward the Zaporojian
hetman did not think; he did not look into the future and had no care
for it. He did not know, however, that that abyss which he had created
was so great that no negotiations could fill it, at least in such a
time as he, Hmelnitski, could demand. The quick politician did not
guess that he would not be able to enjoy in peace the bloody fruits of
his life; and still it was easy to understand that when the armed
legions should stand before each other, the parchment for the
inscription of treaties would be the field, and the pens, swords and

Events tended, by the force of things, toward war; and even ordinary
people, led by instinct alone, felt that it could not be otherwise; and
throughout the whole Commonwealth the eyes of men were turned more and
more to Yeremi, who from the beginning had proclaimed a war of life and
death. In the shadow of his gigantic figure the chancellor, the voevoda
of Bratslav, and the commanders were more and more effaced, and among
them the powerful Prince Dominik, formal commander-in-chief. Their
importance drooped, and obedience to their government decreased. The
army and the nobles were ordered to march to Lvoff and then to
Gliniani, which they did accordingly in larger and larger divisions.
The regular troops assembled, and after them men of the nearest
provinces; but immediately fresh events began to threaten the authority
of the Commonwealth. Now not only the less disciplined squadrons of the
militia, not only the private troops, but the regular soldiers when at
the place of muster refused obedience to the commanders, and in
defiance of orders marched to Zbaraj to place themselves under the
command of Yeremi. This was done first by the nobles of Kieff and
Bratslav, who had previously served in large part under Yeremi. They
were followed by the nobles of Rus and Lubelsk, and these by the troops
of the Crown, and it was not difficult to understand that all would
follow in their steps.

Yeremi, who had been slighted, neglected by design, was becoming, by
the force of things, the hetman and supreme leader of all the power of
the Commonwealth. The nobles and the army, devoted to him soul and
body, waited only for his nod. Authority, war, peace, the future of the
Commonwealth, rested in his hands. Each day he grew, for each day new
squadrons marched to him, and he was becoming so gigantic that his
shadow began to fall not only on the chancellor and the commanders, but
on the Senate, on Warsaw, and the whole Commonwealth.

In circles hostile to him, those of the chancellor at Warsaw and in the
camp of the commander-in-chief, in the suite of Prince Dominik, and
around the voevoda of Bratslav, they began to mutter against his
measureless ambition and pride; the affair of Gadyach was mentioned,
when the insolent prince came with four thousand men to Warsaw, and
entering the Senate, was ready to hew down all, not excepting the king

"What might not be expected from such a man, and what must he be now
after that Xenophontine return from the Trans-Dnieper, after all those
military advantages and victories which had given him such an immense
reputation? To what unendurable haughtiness must that favor of the
soldiers and the nobles raise him? Who will stand against him to-day?
What will become of the Commonwealth in which one citizen rises to such
power that he can trample upon the will of the Senate, and snatch away
their authority from the leaders appointed by the Commonwealth? Does he
intend really to decorate Prince Karl with the crown? He is Marius, it
is true; but God grant that he become not a Coriolanus or a Catiline,
for he is equal to both in ambition and pride."

Thus did they speak in Warsaw and in military circles, especially in
the suite of Prince Dominik, the rivalry between whom and Yeremi had
caused no little damage to the Commonwealth. But that Marius was
sitting that moment at Zbaraj, gloomy, unconsulted. Recent victories
gave no light to his countenance. Whenever some new squadron of
regulars or district militia appeared at Zbaraj he went out to see it,
determined its value at a glance, and immediately fell into musing.
Soldiers gathered around him with shouts, fell on their knees before
him, crying: "Hail, invincible chief, Slavonic Hercules! We will stand
by thee to the death." But he answered: "My respects to you, gentlemen!
We are all soldiers of Christ, and I am too insignificant in rank to be
the steward of your blood;" and he returned to his quarters, fled from
men, struggled in solitude with his thoughts. In this way whole days

Meanwhile the town was in a tumult with swarm after swarm of new
troops. The militia drank from morning till night; walking along the
streets, they raised quarrels and disputes with officers of foreign
levy. The regular soldiers, feeling also the reins of discipline
relaxed, indulged in eating, drinking, and play. Every day there were
new guests; consequently new feasts and amusements with the young women
of Zbaraj. The troops crammed every street, were stationed too in the
neighboring villages; and what a variety of horses, arms, uniforms,
plumes, chain armor, and steel caps,--uniforms of various provinces! It
seemed like a general carnival to which half the Commonwealth had come.
At one moment dashes in a carriage of some magnate, gilt or purple,
drawn by six or eight plumed horses; ahead of it outriders in Hungarian
or German liveries; attending it household janissaries, Cossacks or
Tartars. At another some legionaries appear glittering in velvet or
satin without armor, and thrust apart the crowds with their Anatolian
or Persian steeds. The plumes of their caps and brooches at their necks
are glittering with brilliants and rubies, but all make way for them in
sign of respect. Here before a balcony stands an officer of the country
infantry, with fresh, bright collar, a long staff in his hand, pride in
his face, a village heart in his breast; farther on glitter the rising
helmets of the dragoons, the caps of the German infantry, lynx-skin
caps of the militia; servants on errands squirm about as if in hot
water. Here and there the streets are packed with wagons; in one place
the wagons enter, squeaking mercilessly; every place is full of shouts,
and cries of "Out of the road!"--curses of servants, disputes, fights,
neighing of horses. The narrower streets are packed to such a degree
with hay and straw that it is impossible to squeeze through.

Amidst this multitude of bright uniforms glittering with all the colors
of the rainbow, amidst velvet and cloths and shining satin glittering
with brilliants, how strangely appear the regiments of the prince,
haggard, tattered, emaciated, with rusty armor, faded and torn
uniforms! Soldiers of the best regiments looked like wandering
minstrels, worse than the attendants from other commands; but all bow
before these rags, before this rust and shabbiness, for they are the
banners of heroes. War is a cruel mother; like Saturn, she devours her
own children, and whom she does not devour, she gnaws as a dog gnaws
bones. Those faded uniforms signify stormy nights, marches amidst the
rage of the elements or the burning of the sun; that rust on the steel
means the unwiped blood of the man himself, of the enemy, or both
together. So the Vishnyevetski men had the first place everywhere. They
were the story-tellers in the taverns and the quarters, and others were
listeners. Sometimes a spasm would seize one of the listeners, and
striking his hands on his hips, he would say, "May the bullets strike
you, for you are devils, not men!" But they would answer, "Not ours the
merit, but the leader's, whose like the round of the earth has not
shown to this day." All feasts therefore ended in shouts: "Vivat
Yeremi! Vivat the prince voevoda, the leader of leaders, the hetman of

The nobles, after they had drunk awhile, would rush out on the streets
and fire guns and muskets. The prince's men warned them that their
freedom was but for a time,--that a moment would come when the prince
would take them in hand and enforce discipline such as they had never
heard of. They took advantage of the opportunity all the more. "Let us
rejoice while we are free," they cried. "When the time for obedience
comes we will listen, for we have some one to obey who is not _baby_
nor _Latin_ nor _feather-bed_." And the unfortunate Prince Dominik
always came out worst, for the soldiers' tongues ground him to bran.
They said that he prayed whole days, and in the evening hung to the
handle of a mug, spat on his stomach, and with one eye open inquired,
"What is that?" They said also that he took "jalap" at night, and that
he saw as many battles as there were depicted on his carpet by Dutch
art. No one defended him any longer, and no one pitied him; and those
who were in open opposition to military discipline attacked him most

But all were surpassed by Zagloba, with his satire and ridicule. He had
already recovered from the pain in his back, and was now in his
element. How much he ate and drank it is vain to describe, for the
thing passes human belief. Crowds of nobles followed and surrounded him
continually, and he related, talked, and bantered with those who
entertained him; he looked down, as an old soldier, on those who were
going to war, and said to them, with all the pride of experience,--

"Gentlemen, you know as much about the hardships of war as a nun does
of marriage. You have fresh clothes, and perfumed, the odor of which,
though pleasant, I shall try in the first battle to keep on the lee
side of me. The man who has not snuffed military garlic does not know
how it draws tears. No one will bring you, gentlemen, your mug of hot
beer of a morning, or your wine punch. The stomach will fall away from
you, and you will shrink up like a pancake in the sun. Believe me,
experience is the foundation of everything. I have been in many
straits, and have captured more than one flag; but I must tell you,
gentlemen, that none came to me with such difficulty as that at
Konstantinoff. The devil take those Zaporojians! Seven sweats, I tell
you, gentlemen, came out of me before I seized the flag-staff. You may
ask Pan Yan, who killed Burdabut; he saw it with his own eyes, and
admired the deed. But now all you have to do is to shout in the ear of
any Cossack 'Zagloba!' and you will see what he will tell you. But why
do I talk to you, who only know how to kill flies on the walls with the
palms of your hands?"

"But how was it,--how?" asked a crowd of young men.

"Well, gentlemen, do you want my tongue to get red-hot with turning in
my mouth, like an axle in a wagon?"

"Then you must pour wine around it," said the nobles.

"We might do that," answered Zagloba; and glad to find grateful
listeners, he told them all, from the journey to Galáts and the flight
from Rozlogi, to the capture of the banner at Konstantinoff. They
listened with open mouths. Sometimes they murmured when, glorifying his
own bravery, he presumed too much on their lack of experience; but he
was invited and entertained each day in a new place.

The time was passed, then, in pleasure and tumult at Zbaraj, till old
Zatsvilikhovski and others of a more serious turn wondered that the
prince suffered these feasts so long. But Yeremi remained in his own
quarters. It was evident that he gave rein to the soldiers, so that all
might taste every enjoyment before new conflicts. Skshetuski arrived
now, and dropped as it were at once into a whirlpool of boiling water.
He wanted rest in the circle of his companions; but still more did he
wish to visit Bar,--to go to his loved one, and forget all his past
troubles, all his fears and sufferings, in her embrace. He appeared
before the prince therefore without delay, to report on his expedition
to Zaslav and obtain leave of absence.

He found the prince changed beyond recognition, so that he was
astonished at his appearance, and asked in his mind: "Is this the chief
whom I saw at Makhnovka and Konstantinoff?" For there stood before him
a man bent with the burden of care, with sunken eyes and shrivelled
lips, as if suffering from a grievous internal disease. When asked for
his health he answered briefly and dryly that he was well, so the
knight did not dare inquire further. Having made his report, he began
immediately to ask for two months' absence from the squadron, that he
might marry and take his wife to Skshetushevo.

On hearing this the prince woke as it were from sleep. The expression
of kindness habitual to him reappeared on his gloomy face, and
embracing Pan Yan, he said,--

"This is the end of your suffering. Go, go! May God bless you! I should
like to be at your wedding myself, for I owe that to Kurtsevichovna, as
the daughter of Vassily, and to you as a friend; but at this time it is
impossible for me to move. When do you wish to start?"

"To-day, if I could, your Highness."

"Then set out to-morrow. You cannot go alone. I will give you three
hundred of Vershul's Tartars to bring her home in safety. You will go
quickest with them, and you will need them, for bands of ruffians are
wandering about. I will give you a letter to Andrei Pototski; but
before I write to him, before the Tartars come, and before you are
ready, it will be to-morrow evening."

"As your Highness commands. I make bold to request further that
Volodyovski and Podbipienta go with me."

"Very well. Come again to-morrow morning for my farewell and a
blessing. I should like also to send your princess a present. She is of
a noted family. You will both be happy, because you are worthy of each

The knight knelt and embraced the knees of his beloved chief, who
repeated several times,--

"God make you happy! God make you happy! But come again to-morrow

Still the knight did not go; he lingered as if wishing to ask for
something else. At last he broke out: "Your Highness!"

"And what more do you say?" asked the prince, mildly.

"Pardon my boldness, but--my heart is cut, and from sorrow comes great
boldness. What affects your Highness? Does trouble weigh you down, or
is it disease?"

The prince put his hand on Skshetuski's head. "You cannot know this,"
said he, with sweetness in his voice. "Come to-morrow morning."

Skshetuski rose and went out with a straitened heart.

In the evening old Zatsvilikhovski came to Skshetuski's quarters, and
with him little Volodyovski, Pan Longin, and Zagloba. They took their
seats at the table, and Jendzian came into the room bearing a keg and

"In the name of Father and Son!" cried Zagloba. "I see that your man
has risen from the dead."

Jendzian approached, and embraced Zagloba's knees. "I have not risen
from the dead, for I did not die, thanks to you for saving me."

Then Skshetuski added: "And afterward he was in Bogun's service."

"Oh, that fellow would find promotion in hell," said Zagloba. Then,
turning to Jendzian, he said: "You couldn't have found much joy in that
service; here is a thaler for pleasure."

"Thank you humbly," said Jendzian.

"He," cried Pan Yan, "is a perfect rogue. He bought plunder of the
Cossacks. You and I couldn't purchase what he has now, even if you were
to sell all your estates in Turkey."

"Is that true?" asked Zagloba. "Keep my thaler for yourself, and grow
up, precious sapling; for if you'll not serve for a crucifix, you will
serve at least for a gallows-tree. The fellow has a good eye." Here
Zagloba caught Jendzian by the ear, and pulling it, continued: "I like
rogues, and I prophesy that you will come out a man, if you don't
remain a beast. And how does your master Bogun speak of you, hi?"

Jendzian smiled, for the words and caress flattered him, and answered;
"Oh, my master, when he speaks of you, he strikes fire with his teeth."

"Oh, go to the devil!" cried Zagloba, in sudden anger. "What are you
raving about?"

Jendzian went out. They began to discuss the journey of the morrow, and
the great happiness which was awaiting Pan Yan. Mead soon improved
Zagloba's humor; he began to talk to Skshetuski, and hint of
christenings, and again of the passion of Pan Andrei Pototski for the
princess. Pan Longin sighed. They drank, and were glad with their whole
souls. Finally the conversation touched upon military events and the
prince. Skshetuski, who had not been in the camp for many days,

"Tell me, gentlemen, what has happened to our prince? He is somehow
another man; I cannot understand it. God has given him victory after
victory. They passed him by in the command. What of that? The whole
army is rushing to him now, so that he will be hetman without any one's
favor, and will destroy Hmelnitski; but it is evident that he suffers,
and suffers from something--"

"Perhaps the gout is taking hold of him," said Zagloba, "Sometimes when
it gets a pull at me in the great toe, I am despondent for three days
at a time."

"I tell you, brothers," said Podbipienta, nodding his head, "I haven't
heard this myself from the priest Mukhovetski, but I heard that he told
some one why the prince is so tormented--I do not say this myself; he
is a kindly man, good, and a great warrior,--why should I judge him?
But since the priest says so--but do I know that it is so?"

"Just look, gentlemen, at this Lithuanian!" cried Zagloba. "Am I not
right in making fun of him, since he doesn't know human speech? What
did you wish to say? You circle round and round, like a rabbit about
her nest, but cannot come to a point."

"What did you really hear?" asked Skshetuski.

"Well, since for that--they say that the prince has shed too much
blood. He is a great leader, but knows no measure in punishment, and
now sees, it seems, everything red,--red in the daytime, red at night,
as if a red cloud were surrounding him--"

"Don't talk nonsense!" shouted Zatsvilikhovski, with rage. "Those are
old wives' tales. There was no better master for the rabble in time of
peace; and as to his knowing no mercy for rebels,--well, what of that?
That is a merit, not an offence. What torments, what punishments, would
be too great for those who have deluged the country in blood, who have
given their own people captive to Tartars, who know neither God, king,
country, nor authorities? Where will you show me such monsters as they,
where such cruelties as they have perpetrated on women and little
children? Where can you find such criminal wretches? For them the
empaling stake and the gallows are too much. Tfu, tfu! You have an iron
hand, but a woman's heart. I saw how you whined, when they were burning
Pulyan, that you would rather have killed him on the spot. But the
prince is no old woman; he knows how to reward and how to punish. What
is the use of telling me such nonsense?"

"But I have said, father, that I don't know," explained Pan Longin.

The old man puffed for a long time yet, and smoothing his milk-white
hair, muttered: "Red, h'm! red,--that's news. In the head of him who
invented that it is green, and not red!"

A moment of silence followed, but through the windows came the uproar
of the revelling nobles. Little Volodyovski broke the silence reigning
in the room.

"Well, father, what do you think can be the matter with our prince?"

"H'm!" said the old man, "I am not his confidant, therefore I do not
know. He is thinking of something, he is struggling with himself,--a
hot battle of some kind,--it cannot be otherwise; and the greater the
soul, the fiercer the torture."

The old knight was not mistaken; for in that same hour the prince, the
leader, the conqueror, lay in the dust in his own quarters, before the
crucifix, and was fighting one of the most desperate battles of his

The guards at the castle of Zbaraj called out midnight, but Yeremi was
still conversing with God and with his own lofty soul. Reason,
conscience, love of country, pride, perception of his own power and
great destiny, were turned into combatants within his breast, and
fought a stubborn battle with one another, from which his breast was
bursting, his head was bursting, and pain contorted all his limbs. Now,
in spite of the primate, the chancellor, the senate, the generals,
against the will of the government, the regular soldiers, the nobles,
the foreign troops in private service, were going over to that
conqueror,--in one word, the whole Commonwealth was placing itself in
his hands, taking refuge under his wings, committing its fortune to his
genius, and in the person of its choicest sons was crying: "Save, for
you alone can save!" In one month or in two there will be at Zbaraj one
hundred thousand warriors, ready for a struggle to the death with the
serpent of civil war. Here pictures of a future surrounded with light
immeasurable, of glory and power, began to pass before the eyes of the
prince. Those who wished to pass him by and subdue him are trembling,
and he takes those iron legions and leads them into the steppes of the
Ukraine, to victories and triumphs such as history has not yet known.
The prince feels in himself corresponding power, and from his shoulders
wings shoot forth like the wings of the archangel Michael. And at that
moment he turns into such a giant that the whole castle, all Zbaraj,
all Russia, cannot contain him. As God lives, he will rub out
Hmelnitski, he will trample the rebellion, he will bring back peace to
the fatherland! He sees extended plains, legions of troops; he hears
the roar of artillery. A battle! a battle! Victory unheard of,
unparalleled! Legions of bodies, hundreds of banners, cover the
blood-stained steppe, and he tramples on the body of Hmelnitski, and
the trumpets sound victory, and that sound flies from sea to sea. The
prince rises, rushes up, extends his hands to Christ, around whose head
is a mild purple light. "Oh, Christ, Christ!" he cries, "thou knowest,
thou seest that I can; tell me that I should do this."

But Christ hung his head on his breast, and was as silent, as sorrowful
as if he had been crucified the moment before.

"To thee be the praise!" cried the prince. "Non mihi, non mihi, sed
nomini tuo da gloriam! To the glory of the faith of the Church and of
all Christianity! Oh, Christ, Christ!" And a new image opened before
the eyes of the hero. That career was not ended by the victory over
Hmelnitski. The prince, having destroyed the rebellion, grows strong on
its body. He becomes gigantic in power. Legions of Cossacks are joined
to legions of Poles, and he goes farther,--strikes the Crimea, reaches
the terrible dragon in his den; he erects the cross where hitherto
bells had never called the faithful to prayer. He will go also to those
lands which the princes Vishnyevetski have already trampled with the
hoofs of their horses, and will extend the boundaries of the
Commonwealth, and with them the Church, to the remotest corners of the
earth. Where then is the limit to this impetus, where the bounds to
this glory, power, and strength? There are none whatever.

The pale light of the moon falls into the chamber of the castle, but
the clock beats a late hour, and the cocks are crowing. It will soon be
day; but will it be a day in which with the sun in heaven a new sun
will shine upon earth?

Yes, it will. The prince would be a child and not a man if he did not
do this, if for any reasons whatever he drew back before the voice of
these destinies. Now he feels a certain calm, which the merciful Christ
had evidently poured on him,--praise to him for that! His mind has
become more sober; he takes in more easily too with the eyes of his
soul the condition of the country and all its affairs. The policy of
the chancellor and those magnates in Warsaw, as well as of the voevoda
of Bratslav, is evil, and destructive for the country. To trample the
Zaporojie first, and squeeze an ocean of blood out of it, break it,
annihilate it, bend, and conquer, and then only acknowledge that
everything is finished; to restrain all oppression; to introduce order,
peace; being able to kill, to restore to life,--that was the only path
worthy of that great, that lordly Commonwealth. It might have been
possible perhaps to choose another path long before, but not now. What
in truth could negotiations lead to then? Armed legionaries stand
against one another in thousands; and even if negotiations were
concluded, what power could they have! No, no! those are dream visions,
shadows, a war extended over whole ages, a sea of tears and blood for
the future. Let them take the only course which is great, noble, full
of power, and he will wish and ask for nothing more. He will settle
again in Lubni, and will wait quietly till the terrible trumpets call
him to action again.

Let them take it? But who? The Senate? The stormy Diet? The chancellor,
the primate, or the commanders? Who, besides him, understands this
great idea, and who can carry it out? If such a man can be found, it is
well. But where is he? Who has the power? He alone,--no one else. To
him the nobles come; to him the armies gather; in his hand is the sword
of the Commonwealth,--but the Commonwealth when the king is on the
throne. But now when there is no king the will of the people rules. It
is the supreme law, expressed not only in the Diets, not only through
deputies, the Senate, and chancellors, not only through written laws
and manifestoes; but still more powerfully, more emphatically, more
definitely, by action. And who rules in action? The knightly estate;
and this knightly estate is assembling at Zbaraj, and says to him, "You
are the leader." The whole Commonwealth without voting gives him
authority by the power of events, and repeats, "You are the leader." And
should he draw back? What appointment does he wish besides? From whom
is he to expect it? Is it from those who are endeavoring to ruin the
Commonwealth and to conquer him? Why should he, why should he? Is it
because when panic seized upon all, when the hetmans went into
captivity, and the armies were lost, magnates hid themselves in their
castles, and the Cossack put the foot on the breast of the
Commonwealth, he alone pushed away that foot and raised from the dust
the fainting head of that mother; sacrificed for her everything,--life,
fortune; saved her from shame, from death,--he the conqueror!

Let him who has rendered more service, take the power. Let it rest in
the hands of the man to whom it belongs more of right. He will resign
that burden willingly, and say to God and the Commonwealth, "Let thy
servant depart in peace;" for he is wearied, greatly weakened, and
besides he is sure that neither the memory of him nor his grave will

But if there is no such person, he would be doubly and trebly a child
and not a man if he should resign that power, that bright path, that
brilliant, immense future, in which lies the salvation of the
Commonwealth, its power, glory, and happiness. And why should he?

The prince raised his head again proudly, and his flaming glance fell
on Christ; but Christ hung his head on his breast, and remained in
silence as painful as if they had crucified him the moment before.

Why should he? The hero pressed his heated temples with his hands.
Maybe there is an answer. What is the meaning of those voices which
amidst the golden rainbow visions of glory, amidst the thunder of
coming victories, amidst the forebodings of grandeur, of power, call
out so mercilessly to his soul, "Oh, halt, unfortunate one!" What means
that unrest which goes through his breast like the shudder of alarm?
What means it that when he shows himself most clearly and convincingly
that he ought to take the power, something there in the depths of his
conscience whispers, "You deceive yourself; pride misleads you; Satan
promises you the glories of the kingdom"?

And again a fearful struggle began in the soul of the prince; again he
was carried away by a whirlwind of alarms, uncertainty, and doubts.

What are the nobles doing who join him instead of the commanders?
Trampling on law. What is the army doing? Violating discipline. And is
he, a citizen, is he, a soldier, to stand at the head of lawlessness?
Is he to cover it with his own dignity? Is he to give an example of
insubordination, arbitrariness, disregard of law, and all merely to
receive power two months earlier; for if Prince Karl shall be elected
to the throne, power will not pass him by? Is he to give such a fearful
example to succeeding ages? For what will happen? To-day Prince Yeremi
acts in this way; to-morrow, Konyetspolski, Pototski Firlei, Zamoyski,
or Lyubomirski. And if each one, without reference to law and
discipline, acts according to his own ambition; if the children follow
the example of their fathers and grandfathers,--what future is
before that unhappy country? The worms of arbitrariness, disorder,
self-seeking have so gnawed the trunk of that Commonwealth, that under
the axe of civil war the rotten wood is scattered, the dry limbs fall
from the tree. What will happen when those whose duty it is to guard
and save it as the apple of the eye put fire under it? What will happen
then? Ob, Jesus, Jesus! Hmelnitski too shields himself with the public
good, and does nothing else; still he rises up against law and

A shudder passed through the prince from his feet to his head. He wrung
his hands. "Am I to be another Hmelnitski, O Christ?"

But Christ hung his head on his breast, and was as painfully silent as
if crucified the moment before.

The prince struggled on. If he should assume power, and the chancellor,
the Senate, and the commanders should proclaim him a rebel, then what
would happen? Another civil war? And then the question. Is Hmelnitski
the greatest and most terrible enemy of the Commonwealth? More than
once she has been invaded by still greater powers. When two hundred
thousand armored Germans marched at Grünwald on the regiments of
Yagello, and when at Khotím half Asia appeared in the fight,
destruction seemed still nearer. And what had become of these hostile
powers? No; the Commonwealth is not in danger from wars, and wars will
not be her destruction. But why, in view of such victories, of such
reserved power, of such glory, is she, who crushed the knights of the
cross and the Turks, so weak and incompetent that she is on her knees
before one Cossack, that her neighbors are seizing her boundaries, that
nations are ridiculing her, that no one listens to her voice, or
regards her anger, and that all are looking forward to her destruction?

Ah! it is specifically the pride and ambition of magnates, each one
acting by himself; self-will is the cause of it. The worst enemy
is not Hmelnitski, but internal disorder, waywardness of the nobles,
weakness and insubordination of the army, uproar of the Diets,
brawls, disputes, confusion, weakness, self-seeking, and
insubordination,--insubordination, above all. The tree is rotting and
weakening from the heart. Soon will men see how the first storm will
throw it; but he is a parricide who puts his hand to such work. Cursed
be he and his children to the tenth generation!

Go then, O conqueror of Nyemiroff, Pogrébische, Makhnovka,
Konstantinoff,--go, prince voevoda,--go, snatch command from leaders,
trample upon law and authority, give an example to posterity how to
rend the entrails of the mother!

Terror, despair, and fright were reflected in the face of the prince.
He screamed terribly, and seizing himself by the hair, fell in the dust
before the crucifix. The prince repented, and beat his worthy head on
the stone pavement, and from his breast struggled forth the dull

"O God, be merciful to me a sinner! O God, be merciful to me a sinner!
God, be merciful to me a sinner!"

The rosy dawn was already in the sky, and then came the golden sun and
lighted the hall. In the cornices the chattering of sparrows and
swallows began. The prince rose and went to rouse his attendant
Jelenski, who was sleeping on the other side of the door.

"Run," said he, "to the orderlies, and tell them to summon to me from
the castle and the town the colonels of the regular army and of the

Two hours later the hall began to be filled with the mustached and
bearded forms of warriors. Of the prince's people there came old
Zatsvilikhovski, Polyanovski, Pan Yan with Zagloba, Vurtsel, Maknitski,
Volodyovski, Vershul, Ponyatovski, almost all the officers to the
ensigns, except Kushel, who was in Podolia on a reconnoissance. From
the regular army came Osinski and Koritski. Many of the more
distinguished nobles were unable to rise from their feather-beds so
early; but no small number, even of these, were assembled,--among them
personages of various provinces, from castellans to sub-chamberlains.
Murmurs and conversation resounded, and there was a noise as in a hive;
but all eyes were turned to the door through which the prince was to

All grew silent as the prince entered. His face was calm and pleasant;
only his eyes reddened by sleeplessness, and his pinched features
testified of the recent struggle. But through that calm and even
sweetness appeared dignity and unbending will.

"Gentlemen," said he, "last night I communed with God and my own
conscience as to what I should do. I announce therefore to you, and do
you announce to all the knightly order, that for the sake of the
country and that harmony needful in time of defeat, I put myself under
the commanders."

A dull silence reigned in the assembly.

In the afternoon of that day, in the court of the castle three hundred
of Vershul's Tartars stood ready to journey with Pan Yan; and in the
castle the prince was giving to the officers of the army a dinner which
at the same time was a farewell feast to our knight. He was seated
therefore by the prince as "the bridegroom;" and next to him sat
Zagloba, for it was known that his daring and management had saved "the
bride" from mortal peril. The prince was in good spirits, for he had
cast the burden from his heart. He raised the goblet to the success of
the future couple. The walls and windows trembled from the shouts of
those present. In the anteroom was a bustle of servants, among whom
Jendzian had the lead.

"Gentlemen," said the prince, "let this third goblet be for posterity.
It's a splendid stock. God grant that the apples may not fall far from
the tree! From this falcon may noble falconets spring!"

"Success to them! success to them!"

"In thanks!" cried Pan Yan, emptying an enormous goblet of Malmoisie.

"Success to them! success to them!"

"Crescite et multiplicamini!"

"You ought to furnish half a squadron," said old Zatsvilikhovski,

"Oh, he will fill the army entirely! I know him," said Zagloba.

The nobles roared with laughter. Wine rose to their heads. Everywhere
were to be seen flushed faces, moving mustaches; and the good feeling
was increasing every moment.

Just then at the threshold of the hall appeared a gloomy figure,
covered with dust; and in view of the table, the feast, and the
gleaming faces, it stopped at the door as if hesitating to enter. The
prince saw it first, wrinkled his brows, shaded his eyes, and said,--

"But who is there? Ah, that is Kushel! From the expedition. What news
do you bring?"

"Very bad, your Highness!" said the young officer, with a strange

Suddenly silence reigned in the assembly, as if some one had put it
under a spell. The goblets raised to the lips remained half-way; all
eyes were turned to Kushel, on whose wearied face pain was depicted.

"It would have been better had you not spoken, since I am joyful at the
cup," said the prince; "but since you have begun, speak to the end."

"Your Highness, I too should prefer not to be an owl, for these tidings
halt on my lips."

"What has happened? Speak!"

"Bar is taken!"

                             CHAPTER XXXIV.

Ok a certain calm night a band of horsemen, about twenty in number,
moved along the right bank of the Valadinka in the direction of the
Dniester. They went very slowly, the horses almost dragging one foot
after the other. A short distance in front of the others rode two, as
it were an advance guard; but evidently there was no cause for guarding
or being on the watch, since for a whole hour they had been talking
together instead of looking at the country about them. Reining in their
horses every little while, they looked at the party behind, and one of
them called out at this moment: "Slowly there! slowly!" And the others
went still more slowly, scarcely moving.

At last the party, pushing out from behind the eminence which had
covered them with its shadow, entered the open country, which was
filled with moonlight, and then it was possible to understand the
reason of their careful gait. In the centre of the caravan two horses
abreast carried a swing tied to their saddles, and in this swing lay
the form of some person. The silver rays lighted its pale face and
closed eyes.

Behind the swing rode ten armed men. From their lances without
bannerets, it was evident that they were Cossacks. Some led
pack-horses, others rode by themselves; but while the two riders in
front seemed to pay not the least attention to the country about them,
those behind glanced around on every side with unquiet and alarm. And
still the region seemed to be a perfect desert.

Silence was unbroken save by the noise of the horses' hoofs and the
calling of one of the riders in front, who from time to time repeated
his warning: "Slowly! carefully!"

At length he turned to his companion. "Horpyna, is it far yet?" he

The companion called Horpyna, who in reality was a gigantic young woman
disguised as a Cossack, looked at the starry heavens and replied,--

"Not far. We shall be there before midnight. We shall pass the Enemy's
Mound, the Tartar Valley, and right there is the Devil's Glen. Oh, it
would be terrible to pass that place between midnight and cockcrow!
It's possible for me, but for you it would be terrible, terrible!"

The first rider shrugged his shoulders and said: "I know the devil is a
brother to you, but there are weapons against the devil."

"Devil or not, there are no weapons," answered Horpyna. "If you, my
falcon, had looked for a hiding-place through the whole world for your
princess, you could not have found a better. No one will pass here
after midnight unless with me, and in the glen no living man has yet
put foot. If any one wants soothsaying, he waits in front of the glen
till I come out. Never fear! Neither Pole nor Tartar will get there,
nor any one, any one. The Devil's Glen is terrible, you will see for

"Let it be terrible, but I say that I shall come as often as I like."

"If you come in the daytime."

"Whenever I please. And if the devil stands in my road, I'll seize him
by the horns."

"Oh, Bogun, Bogun!"

"Oh, Dontsovna, Dontsovna, don't trouble yourself about me! Whether
the devil takes me or not is no concern of yours; but I tell you
this,--take council with your devils when you please, if only no harm
comes to the princess; but if anything happens to her, then neither
devils nor vampires will tear you from my grasp."

"Oh, they tried to drown me once when I lived with my brother on the
Don, another time the executioner was going to cut my head off in
Yampol,--I didn't care for that. But this is another thing. I will
guard her out of friendship for you, so that no spirit will make a hair
of her head fall, and in my hands she is safe from men. She won't
escape you."

"And, you owl, if you talk this way, why do you prophesy evil? Why do
you hoot in my ear, 'Pole at her side! Pole at her side!'"

"It was not I that spoke, but the spirits. But now perhaps there is a
change. I will prophesy for you to-morrow on the water of the
mill-wheel. On the water everything is clearly visible, but it is
necessary to look a long time, you will see yourself. But you are a
furious dog; if the truth is told, you are angry and wish to kill one."

Conversation was interrupted, and only the striking of the horses' feet
against the stones was heard, and certain sounds from the direction of
the river, like the chirping of crickets.

Bogun paid not the least attention to these sounds, though they might
astonish one in the night. He raised his face to the moon and fell into
deep thought.

"Horpyna!" said he, after a while.


"You are a witch; you must know whether or not it is true that
there is an herb of some kind that whoever drinks of it must fall in
love,--lubystka, is it?"

"Yes, lubystka. But unfortunately for you, lubystka will not help. If
the princess hadn't fallen in love with some one else, then you might
give it to her; but if she is in love, do you know what will happen?"


"She will love the other man still more."

"Oh, perish with your lubystka! You know how to prophesy evil, but you
don't know how to help."

"Listen to me! I know other herbs which grow from the earth; whoever
drinks them will be like a stump two days and two nights, knowing
nothing of the world. I will give her those herbs, and then--"

The Cossack shuddered in his saddle, and fixed on the witch his eyes
gleaming in the darkness. "What are you croaking about?" he asked.

"Then you can--" said the witch, and burst into loud laughter like the
neighing of a mare. This laughter resounded with ill-omened echo
through the windings of the glen.

"Wretch!" said Bogun.

Then the light of his eyes went out gradually; he dropped again into
meditation, and at length began to speak as if to himself,--

"No, no! When we captured Bar, I rushed first to the monastery, so as
to defend her from the drunken crowd and smash the head of any man
who should come near her; but she stabbed herself with a knife, and
now has no consciousness of God's world. If I lay a finger on her, she
will stab herself again, or jump into the river if you are not
careful,--ill-fated that I am!"

"You are at heart a Pole, not a Cossack, if you will not constrain the
girl in Cossack fashion--"

"That I were a Pole, that I were a Pole!" cried Bogun, grasping the cap
on his head with both hands, for pain had seized him.

"The Polish woman must have bewitched you," muttered Horpyna.

"Ai! if she has not," answered he, sadly, "may the first bullet not
pass me; may I finish my wretched life on the empaling stake! I love
one in the world, and that one does not love me!"

"Fool!" cried Horpyna, with anger; "but you have got her!"

"Hold your tongue!" cried he, with rage. "If she lays hands on herself,
then what? I'll tear you apart and then myself. I'll break my head
against a rock, I'll gnaw people like a dog. I would have given my soul
for her, Cossack fame. I would have fled beyond the Yagorlik from the
regiments to the end of the earth, to live with her, to die at her
side. That's what I would have done. But she stabbed herself with a
knife, and through whom? Through me! She stabbed herself with a knife!
Do you hear?"

"That's nothing. She will not die."

"If she dies, I will nail you to the door."

"You have no power over her."

"I have none, I have none. Would she had stabbed me,--it would have
been better had she killed me!"

"Silly little Pole! She should have been kind to you. Where will she
find your superior?"

"Arrange this, and I will give you a pot of ducats and another of
pearls. In Bar we took booty not a little, and before that we took
booty too."

"You are as rich as Prince Yeremi, and full of fame. They say Krívonos
himself is afraid of you."

The Cossack waved his hand. "What is that to me if my heart is sore--"

And silence came again. The bank of the river grew wider and more
desolate. The pale light of the moon lent fantastic forms to the trees
and the rocks. At last Horpyna said,--

"This is the Enemy's Mound. We must ride together."


"It is a bad place."

They reined in their horses, and after a while the party coming on
behind joined them. Bogun rose in the stirrups and looked into the

"Is she asleep?" he asked.

"She is sleeping as sweetly as an infant," answered an old Cossack.

"I gave her a sleeping dose," said the witch.

"Slowly, carefully!" said Bogun, fixing his eyes on the sleeper; "don't
wake her! The moon is looking straight into her face, my dear one!"

"It shines quietly, it will not wake her," whispered one of the

The party moved on. Soon they arrived at the Enemy's Mound. It was a
low hill lying close to the river and sloping like a round shield on
the earth. The moon covered the place entirely with its beams, lighting
up the white stones scattered over the whole extent of it. In some
spots they lay singly; in others they formed heaps, as it were
fragments of buildings, ruined castles, and churches. Here and there
stone slabs stuck up, planted endwise in the earth like gravestones in
a cemetery. The whole mound was like a great ruin, and perhaps in other
ages, long before the days of the Yagellons, human life flourished upon
it; now not only the mound but the whole neighborhood as far as
Rashkoff was an empty waste, in which wild beasts alone found refuge,
and in the night evil spirits held their dances.

The party had scarcely reached half the height of the mound, when the
light breeze which had been blowing hitherto changed into a regular
whirlwind, which began to encircle the mound with a certain gloomy,
ominous whistling; and then it appeared to the Cossacks that among
those ruins were heard heavy sighs, issuing as it were from straitened
breasts, sad groans, laughter, wailing, and puling of infants. The
whole mound began to be alive, to call with various voices. From behind
the stones lofty dark figures seemed to look, shadows of strange forms
glided along quietly among the slabs. Far off in the darkness gleamed
lights like the eyes of wolves. Finally, from the other end of the
mound, from among the thickest heaps and piles, was heard a low
guttural howling, to which other howling responded at once.

"Vampires!" whispered a young Cossack, turning to the old essaul.

"No, werewolves," answered the old essaul, in a still lower voice.

"O Lord, have mercy on us!" said others in terror, removing their caps
and crossing themselves devoutly.

The horses began to point their ears forward and snort. Horpyna, riding
at the head of the party, muttered unintelligible words, as it were a
sort of Satanic Pater-noster. When they had arrived at the other end of
the mound, she turned and said,--

"Well, it is over. We are safe now. I had to keep them back with a
charm, for they were very hungry."

A sigh of relief came from every breast. Bogun and Horpyna rode ahead
again; but the Cossacks, who a little while before had held their
breaths, began to whisper and talk. Each one remembered what had
happened to him when he met ghosts or werewolves.

"We couldn't have passed without Horpyna," said one.

"She is a powerful witch."

"And our ataman does not fear even the werewolf. He didn't look, didn't
listen, only turned toward his princess."

"If what happened to me happened to him, he wouldn't have been so free
from danger," said the old essaul.

"And what happened to you, Father Ovsivuyu?"

"Once, while riding from Reimentarovka to Gulaipolye, I passed near
some mounds at night, and I saw something jump from a grave behind me
on the saddle. I looked; it was a little child, blue and pale!
Evidently the Tartars had taken it captive with its mother and it had
died without baptism. Its eyes were burning like candles, and it wailed
and wailed. It jumped from the saddle to my neck, and I felt it biting
me behind the ear. O Lord, save us! it is a vampire! I had served long
in Wallachia, where there are more vampires than people, but where
there are weapons against them. I sprang from the horse and thrust my
dagger into the ground. 'A vaunt! disappear!' and it groaned, seized
the hilt of the dagger, and slipped down along the edge under the
grass. I cut the ground in the form of a cross and rode off."

"Are there so many vampires in Wallachia, father?"

"Every other Wallachian after death becomes a vampire, and the
Wallachian vampires are the worst of all. They call them brukolaki."

"And who is stronger, father,--the werewolf or the vampire?"

"The werewolf is stronger, but the vampire is more stubborn. If you are
able to get the upper hand of the werewolf, he will serve you, but
vampires are good for nothing except to follow blood. The werewolf is
always ataman over the vampires."

"And Horpyna commands the werewolves?"

"Yes, surely. As long as she lives she will command them. If she had
not power over them, then the ataman would not give her his cuckoo, for
werewolves thirst for maiden's blood above all."

"But I have heard that they have no approach to an innocent soul."

"To a soul they have not, but to a body they have."

"Oh, it would be a pity! She is a beauty. Blood and milk! our father
knew what to take in Bar."

Ovsivuyu smacked his tongue. "There is no denying it; she is a golden

"But I am sorry for her," said a young Cossack. "When we were putting
her in the swing she clasped her white hands and begged, saying, 'Kill
me; do not ruin me, unfortunate one!'"

"No harm will come to her."

Further conversation was interrupted by the approach of Horpyna.

"Hei! young men," said the witch, "this is Tartar Valley, but don't
fear; it is terrible here only one night in the year. Right after it is
the Devil's Glen, and then my place."

In fact, the howling of dogs was soon heard. The party entered the
mouth of the glen, running at right angles to the river, and so narrow
that four horses could hardly enter it abreast. At the bottom of this
chasm flowed a rivulet, changing color in the light of the moon like a
snake, and running quickly to the river. But as the party pushed on,
the precipitous and jagged walls receded from each other, leaving a
rather roomy, slightly ascending valley, enclosed at each side with
cliffs. The place was covered here and there with lofty trees. No wind
was blowing. Long, dark shadows of the trees lay on the ground, and in
the spaces flooded with the light of the moon certain white, round, or
prolonged objects gleamed sharply, in which the Cossacks recognized
with terror the skulls and leg-bones of men. They looked around
therefore with distrust, marking their foreheads from time to time with
the cross. Soon a light glimmered in the distance between the trees,
and at that same time two terrible dogs ran up, enormous, black, with
gleaming eyes, barking and howling at the sight of the men and horses.
At the voice of Horpyna they stopped, however, and began to run around
the riders, sneezing and panting.

"They are not what they seem," whispered the Cossacks.

"They are not dogs," said old Ovsivuyu, in a voice betraying deep

Just then a cottage became visible behind the trees; back of it a
stable; farther and higher up another dark building. The cottage
appeared strong and well-built, and in its windows a light was shining.

"This is my dwelling," said Horpyna to Bogun, "and up there is the mill
which grinds grain for us; and I tell fortunes from the water on the
wheel. I will tell yours. Your princess will live in the best chamber;
but if you wish to ornament the walls, we can remove her to the other
side immediately. Stop and dismount!"

The party halted, and Horpyna began to cry: "Cheremís, I say!

A figure holding a bunch of burning pitch-pine came out in front of the
cottage, and raising the torch, began to look in silence at those
present. It was an old man, an ugly creature, small, quite a dwarf,
with a flat, square face, and slanting eyes, like cracks.

"What sort of devil are you?" asked Bogun.

"Don't ask him," said the giantess; "his tongue is cut out. Come nearer
and listen!" continued the witch; "it is better, perhaps, to carry the
princess to the mill. The Cossacks will fit up her chamber, and drive
nails that would wake her up."

The Cossacks, having dismounted, began to untie the swing carefully.
Bogun watched over everything with the greatest care, and carried the
head of the swing himself when it was taken to the mill. The dwarf
lighted the way in advance with the torch. The princess, put to sleep
by Horpyna with a decoction of somniferous herbs, did not wake; her
eyelids merely trembled a little from the light of the torch. Her face
appeared alive from those red gleams. Perhaps, also, wonderful dreams
soothed the girl, for she smiled sweetly during the journey, which was
like a funeral. Bogun looked at her, and it appeared to him that his
heart would break the ribs in his breast. "My darling, my cuckoo!"
whispered he quietly; and the terrible though beautiful face of the
chief became mild, and flamed with the great light of love, which had
seized him, and was seizing him every moment the more, as fire,
forgotten by the traveller, seizes the wild steppe.

Horpyna, walking at his side, said: "When she wakes from this sleep she
will be well. Her wound will heal, and she will be well."

"Glory be to God! glory be to God!" answered the chief.

The Cossacks began to loosen from six horses great packs in front of
the cottage, and to take out the booty,--rich stuffs, carpets, and
other valuables taken at Bar. A good fire was kindled in the room; and
when some brought in new tapestry, others put it up to the wooden walls
of the room. Bogun not only thought of a safe cage for his bird, but he
determined so to furnish it that captivity should not seem unendurable.
He came soon from the mill and directed the work himself. The night was
passing away, and the moon had already removed its pale light from the
summits of the cliffs. In the cottage were still heard the muffled
blows of hammers. The simple room had become more like a chamber, when
the walls were covered with drapery and the floor carpeted. The
sleeping princess was brought back and placed on soft cushions.

Then all grew silent, except that in the stable for some time yet
bursts of laughter were heard in the stillness like the neighing of a
horse: the young witch was wrestling with the Cossacks, giving them
fisticuffs and kisses.

                             CHAPTER XXXV.

The sun was high when the princess opened her eyes from sleep on the
following day. Her glance rested first on the ceiling, and remained
there long; then it took in the whole room. In her breast returning
consciousness struggled still with the remnants of sleep and visions.
On her face were depicted wonder and disquiet. Where is she, whence did
she come, and in whose power is she? Is she dreaming yet, or is she
awake? What means the splendor with which she is surrounded? What has
happened to her?

At that moment the awful scenes of the taking of Bar rose before her as
if in life. She remembered everything,--the slaughter of thousands of
nobles, townspeople, priests, nuns, and children; the faces of the mob
smeared in blood, their necks and heads wound around with the still
steaming entrails, the drunken uproar, that day of judgment for the
ruined town; finally the appearance of Bogun and her seizure. She
remembered also how in a moment of despair she had fallen upon a knife
held by her own hand, and the cold sweat stood on her temples. It was
evident that the knife slipped along her shoulder, for she suffers only
a little pain; but immediately she feels that she is alive, that
strength and health are returning to her, and finally she remembers
that she has been borne a long time somewhere in a swing. But where is
she now? In some castle, is she saved, rescued, out of danger? And
again her eyes wandered around the room. The windows in it were small,
square, as in a peasant's cottage, and the world outside could not be
seen through them; for instead of panes o£ glass, they were fitted with
pieces of white membrane. Was it really a peasant's cottage? No, for
the unbounded luxury within bears witness against that. Instead of a
ceiling over her head was an enormous piece of purple silk on which
were embroidered golden stars and a moon; the walls were entirely hung
in brocade; on the floor lay a many-colored carpet, covered as with
living flowers. In front of the fireplace was a Persian rug; golden
fringes, silks, velvets, everywhere, from the walls of the ceiling to
the pillows on which her head is reposing. The bright light of day,
penetrating the window membranes, lighted up the interior, but was lost
in the purple, dark violet, and sapphire colors of the velvet, forming
a kind of enchanted rainbow darkness. The princess marvelled, did not
believe her eyes. Was this some witchery, or had not the troops of
Yeremi rescued her from the hands of Cossacks and put her away in one
of the prince's castles?

She clasped her hands. "Oh, Holy Most Pure! grant that the first face
to appear at the door shall be the face of my guardian and friend!"

Then through the heavy fringed bed-curtain came to her the flowing
sound of a distant lute, and at the same time a voice began to
accompany with the familiar song,--

           "Oh, this loving
            Is worse than sickness!
            Sickness I can live through,
            And grow well again;
            But my faithful loving
            I cannot part with while I live."

The princess raised herself, and the longer she listened the wider
stared her eyes from terror. At last she screamed and fell as if dead
on the cushions. She recognized the voice of Bogun.

Her scream passed evidently through the walls of the chamber; for after
a while the heavy curtain rustled, and the chief himself appeared on
the threshold.

Kurtsevichovna covered her eyes with her hands, and her whitened and
quivering lips repeated, as if in a fever: "Jesus, Mary! Jesus, Mary!"

And yet the sight which so terrified her would have rejoiced the eyes
of more maidens than one, for there was a blaze from the apparel and
the countenance of the young hero. The diamond buttons of his uniform
glittered like stars in heaven, his dagger and sabre were covered with
precious stones, his coat of silver cloth and his scarlet kontush
doubled the beauty of his brunette face; and he stood before her,
lithe, dark-browed, magnificent,--the beauty of all the Ukraine heroes.
But his eyes were in mist, like stars curtained by haze, and he looked
on her with obedience; and seeing that fear did not leave her face, he
began to speak in a low, sad voice,--

"Have no fear, Princess!"

"Where am I? where am I?" asked she, looking at him through her

"In a safe place, far from war. Fear not, my dear soul! I brought you
here from Bar, so that no harm might come to you from man or war. The
Cossacks spared no one in Bar; you alone came out alive."

"What are you doing here? Why do you pursue me?"

"I pursue you! Oh, merciful God!" And the chief extended his arms as a
man who is confronted by a great injustice.

"I fear you terribly," she said.

"And why do you fear? If you say so, I shall not move from the door. I
am your slave; I will sit here at the door and look into your eyes.
Evil I do not wish you. Why do you hate me? Oh, merciful God! you
thrust a knife into your body at the sight of me, though you have known
me long, and knew that I was going to defend you. You know I am not a
stranger to you, but a heartfelt friend; and you stabbed yourself with
a knife."

The pale cheeks of the princess were suddenly suffused with blood. "I
preferred death to disgrace; and I swear, if you do not respect me, I
will kill myself, even if I were to lose my soul!"

The eyes of the maiden flashed fire, and the chief knew that there was
no trifling with the princely blood of the Kurtsevichi; for in her
frenzy she would carry out her threat, and a second time would point
the knife with more success. He made no answer, therefore, merely
advanced a couple of steps toward the window, and sitting on bench
covered with gold brocade, hung his head.

Silence lasted for a time.

"Be at rest," said he. "While my head is clear, while Mother Gorailka
does not heat my brain, you are for me like an image in the church. But
since I found you in Bar I have ceased to drink. Before that I drank
and drank, drowning my sorrow with Mother Gorailka. What could I do?
But now I take to my mouth neither sweet wine nor spirits."

The princess was silent.

"I will look on you," he continued, "comfort my eyes with your face,
then go."

"Give me back my liberty!" said she.

"But are you in captivity? You are mistress here. And where do you want
to go? The Kurtsevichi have perished, fire has devoured villages and
towns; the prince is not in Lubni, he is marching against Hmelnitski
and Hmelnitski against him; war is everywhere, blood is flowing; every
place is filled with Cossacks and Tartars and soldiers. Who will have
sympathy and respect for you? Who will defend you, if not I?"

The princess raised her eyes, for she remembered that there was another
in the world who would give her protection, sympathy, and defence; but
she would not speak his name, so as not to rouse the fierce lion. Deep
sorrow therefore pressed her heart. Was he for whom her soul was
yearning still alive? While in Bar she knew that he was, for
immediately after the departure of Zagloba she heard Skshetuski's name
coupled with the victories of the terrible prince. But from that time
how many days and nights had passed, how many battles might have been
fought, how many perils have reached him. News of him could come to her
then only through Bogun, of whom she neither wished nor dared to

Her head then dropped on the cushions. "Am I to remain a prisoner
here?" asked she, with a groan. "What have I done to you, that you
follow me like misfortune?"

The Cossack raised his head, and began to speak so quietly that
scarcely could he be heard.

"What have you done to me? I know not; but this I do know, that if I am
misfortune to you, you too are misfortune to me. If I had not loved
you, I should have been free as the wind in the field, free in heart
and in soul, and full of glory as was Konashevich Sahaidachny himself.
Your face is my misfortune, your eyes are my misfortune; neither
freedom is dear to me, nor Cossack glory! What were beauties to me,
till from being a child you had grown to be a woman? Once I captured a
galley with maidens the most beautiful, for they were on the way to the
Sultan; and no one of them touched my heart. The Cossack brothers
played with them; then I ordered a stone to the neck of each, and into
the water they went. I feared no man, I minded nothing. I went with war
against the Pagan. I took booty, and like a prince in his castle was I
in the steppe. And to-day what am I? I sit here; I am a slave. I crave
a kind word from you and cannot receive it; I have never heard it, even
when your aunt and your cousins gave you to me. Oh, if you, girl, had
been different to me, then what has come to pass would not have been! I
should not have stricken down your cousins, I should not have joined
fraternal hands with rebellion and peasants; but through you I have
lost my mind. If you had wished to lead me anywhere, you could have led
me where you liked, and I should have given you my blood, my soul. Now
I am steeped in blood of nobles; but in old times I killed only
Tartars, and brought you booty, that you might be clothed in gold and
jewels like cherubim of the Lord. Why did you not love me, then? Oh, it
is heavy and sad at my heart! I cannot live with you nor without you,
nor far away nor near you, neither on the mountain nor in the valley,
my dove, my precious heart! But forgive me that I came for you to
Rozlogi in Cossack style, with sabre and fire; but I was drunk with
anger at the princes, and I drank gorailka on the way,--unhappy outlaw!
But afterward, when you escaped me, I howled like a dog, and my wounds
tortured me, and I could not eat. I begged death to take me; and you
want me to yield you now, to lose you a second time, my dove, my

The chief stopped, for his voice broke in his throat, and he began to
groan. Helena's face grew red and pale by turns. The more of
measureless love there was in Bogun's words, the greater the gulf which
opened before her, bottomless, and without hope of rescue.

The Cossack rested awhile, regained self-command, and continued,--

"Ask what you like. See how the room is decorated! This is mine; this
is booty from Bar, which I brought for you on six horses. Ask what you
wish,--yellow gold, shining garments, bright jewels, willing slaves. I
am rich, I have enough of my own; and Hmelnitski will not spare
treasures on me, and Krívonos will not spare them. You will be like
Princess Vishnyevetski. I will win castles for you, give you half the
Ukraine; for though I am a Cossack, not a noble, I am a bunchuk ataman.
Under me are ten thousand men,--more than Prince Yeremi commands. Ask
what you like, only not to flee from me,--only stay with me and love
me, O my dove!"

The princess raised herself on the cushions. She was very pale, but her
sweet and marvellous face expressed such unbroken will, pride, and
power that the dove was most like an eagle at that moment.

"If you are waiting for my answer," said she, "then know that if I had
even a lifetime to groan out in captivity with you, never, never should
I love you, God be my aid!"

Bogun struggled with himself a moment. "Do not tell me such things,"
said he, with a hoarse voice.

"Do not speak to me of your love; it brings me shame and offence. I am
not for you."

The chief rose. "And for whom, then, are you, Princess Kurtsevichovna?
And whose would you have been in Bar but for me?"

"Whoso saves my life to give me shame and captivity is my enemy, not my

"And do you suppose that the peasants would have killed you? The
thought is terrible."

"The knife would have killed me, but you wrenched it from me."

"And I will not give it up, for you must be mine," burst out the

"Never! I prefer death."

"You must and will be."


"Well, if you were not wounded, after what you have told me, I should
send my Cossacks to Rashkoff to-day and have a monk brought here, and
to-morrow I should be your husband. Then what? It is a sin not to love
your husband and fondle him. Ai! you high mighty lady, the love of a
Cossack is an offence, an anger to you. And who are you that I am for
you a peasant? Where are your castles and boyars and troops? At what
are you angry,--at what are you offended? I took you in war; you are a
captive. If I were a peasant, I should teach you reason on the white
shoulders with the whip, and without a priest would have enough of your
beauty,--if I were a peasant, not a knight!"

"Angels of heaven, save me!" whispered the princess.

But in the mean while greater and greater fury rose to the face of
Bogun, and anger seized him by the hair.

"I know," said he, "why you're offended, why you resist me. You
preserve for another your maiden modesty. But in vain, as I live, as I
am a Cossack! Nakedness[15] the noble! The insincere, miserable Pole
barely saw you, merely turned with you in the dance,--death to
him!--and took you captive altogether. Then let the Cossack suffer,
break his head. But I will reach this Pole, and I will order him torn
out of his skin, will nail him up. Do you know that Hmelnitski is
marching on the Poles, and I go with him; and I will find your dove
even under the ground, and when I return I will throw his head at your
feet as a present."

Helena did not hear the last words of the ataman. Pain, anger, wounds,
emotion, terror, took her strength; an immeasurable weakness came upon
all her limbs, her eyes and her thoughts grew dark, and she fell into a

The chief stood some time, pale from anger, with foam on his lips. Then
he saw the lifeless head hanging back powerless, and from his lips went
out a roar almost unearthly. "It is all over with her! Horpyna!
Horpyna!" And he threw himself on the floor.

The giantess rushed into the room with all speed. "What is the matter?"

"Help! help!" cried Bogun. "I have killed her, my soul, my light!"

"What! Did you scold her?"

"I have killed her, I have killed her!" groaned he; and he wrung his
hands over his head.

But Horpyna, approaching the princess, soon discovered that it was not
death, but a deep faint, and putting Bogun outside the door, began to
assist her. The princess opened her eyes after a time.

"My dear, there is nothing the matter with you," said the enchantress.
"You were frightened at him, I see, and darkness settled on you; but
the darkness will pass and health will come. You are like a nut, my
girl; you have long to live in the world and enjoy happiness."

"Who are you?" asked the princess, with a weak voice.

"I? Your servant, for he so ordered it."

"Where am I?"

"In the Devil's Glen. A pure wilderness here; you will see no one but

"Do you live here?"

"My farm is here. I am Dontsovna. My brother is a colonel under Bogun;
he leads young heroes, and I stay here, and will care for you in this
golden chamber. From a cottage it has become a bower, so that light
gleams from it. He has brought all this for you."

Helena looked at the lively face of the young woman, and it seemed to
her full of sincerity.

"But will you be good to me?"

The white teeth of the young witch gleamed in a smile. "I shall; why
shouldn't I? But do you be good also to the ataman. He is a falcon, he
is a glorious hero, he will--"

Here the witch bent to the ear of Helena, whispered something, then
burst into laughter.

"Be off!" screamed the princess.

                             CHAPTER XXXVI.

Two days later in the morning Horpyna sat with Bogun under the willow
near the mill-wheel, and looked at the water foaming on it.

"You will be careful of her, you will guard her, you will not let your
eye off her, so that she shall never leave the glen."

"The glen has a narrow neck near the river, but there is space enough
here. Order the neck to be filled with stones, and we shall be as if in
the bottom of a jug. When I need to go out I shall find a way."

"How do you live here?"

"Cheremís plants corn under the cliffs, cultivates grapes, and snares
wild fowl. With what you have brought she will want nothing unless
bird's milk. Have no fear! She will not leave the glen, and no one will
know of her unless your men say she is here."

"I have made them swear silence. They are faithful fellows; they will
say nothing, even if straps were torn from their skin. But you said
yourself that people came here to you as to a soothsayer."

"Sometimes they come from Rashkoff, and sometimes when they hear of me
they come from God knows what places. But they stay at the river; no
one enters the glen, for they are afraid. You saw the bones. These were
people who wished to enter; their bones are lying around."

"Did you kill them?"

"Whoever killed them, killed them! Those in search of soothsaying wait
at the opening of the glen and I go to the wheel. What I see in the
water, I tell them. I shall examine for you directly, but I don't know
whether anything will be seen, for it does not always appear."

"If only you see nothing bad!"

"If I see something bad, you will not go; and in that case it would be
better not to go."

"I must. Hmelnitski sent me a letter to Bar to return, and Krívonos
ordered me. The Poles are marching on us now with great forces, so we
must concentrate."

"When will you come back?"

"I know not. There will be a great battle such as has not been yet.
Either death to us or to the Poles. If they beat us, I will hide here;
if we are victorious, I will come for my cuckoo and take her to Kieff."

"And if you perish?"

"Being a witch, it is for you to tell."

"But if you perish?"

"Once my mother bore me."

"Oh, pshaw! But what shall I do with the girl,--twist her neck, or

"But touch her with your hand and I will have you drawn on a stake with
oxen." The chief fell into gloomy thought. "If I perish, tell her to
forgive me."

"Ah, she is a thankless Pole that for such love she does not love. If I
were wooed in that way, I should not resist you." Saying this, Horpyna
nudged the chief in the side twice, showing all her teeth in laughter.

"Go to the devil!" said the Cossack.

"Oh, be quiet! I know that you are not for me."

Bogun looked into the foaming water on the wheel as if he wished
himself to soothsay.

"Horpyna!" said he after a while.

"Well, what is it?"

"When I have gone will she be sorry for me?"

"If you are not willing to constrain her in Cossack fashion, then
perhaps it is better for you to go."

"I will not, I cannot, I dare not. I know that she would die."

"Then maybe it is better for you to go. While she sees you she will not
wish to know you, but when she has been a couple of months with me and
Cheremís, you will be dearer to her."

"If she were well, I know what I should do. I should bring a priest
from Rashkoff and have a marriage celebrated; but now I am afraid, for
if she were frightened, she would die. You have seen yourself."

"Leave us in peace. What do you want of a priest and a marriage? You
are not a real Cossack. I want neither Pole nor Russian priest here.
There are Dobrudja Tartars in Rashkoff, you want to get them on our
shoulders too; and if you should bring them, how much of the princess
would you see? What has got into your head? Go your way and come back."

"But look in the water and tell me what you see. Tell the truth and
don't lie, even if you should see me dead."

Dontsovna approached the mill-stream and raised a gate holding back the
water at the fall. All at once the swift current rushed with redoubled
force, the wheel began to turn more swiftly, until at last it was
covered with liquid dust; the foam, beaten fine, rolled under the wheel
like boiling water.

The witch bent her eyes into the boiling mass and seizing the tresses
near her ears, began to cry,--

"I call! I call! Appear! In the oaken wheel, in the white foam, in the
clear mist, whether evil, whether good, appear!"

Bogun approached and sat at her side. His face denoted fear and
feverish curiosity.

"I see!" screamed the witch.

"What do you see?"

"The death of my brother. Two bullocks are drawing him on a stake."

"To the devil with your brother!" muttered Bogun, who wished to know
something else.

For a time was heard only the thunder of the wheel whirling around in

"Blue is my brother's head, how blue! The ravens are tearing it," said
the witch.

"What else do you see?"

"Nothing. Oh, how blue! I call! I call! In the oaken wheel, in the
white foam, in the clear mist, appear! I see--"


"A battle! The Poles are fleeing before the Cossacks."

"And I am pursuing?"

"I see you too. You encounter a little knight. Hur! hur! hur! Be on
your guard against the little knight."

"And the princess?"

"She is not there. I see you again, and with you some one who is
betraying you,--your false friend."

Bogun was devouring with his eyes at one instant the foam, at another
Horpyna; and at the same time he worked with his brain to aid the

"What friend?"

"I don't see. I don't know whether old or young."

"Old, he must be old!"

"Maybe he is old!"

"I know who he is. He has betrayed me once already. An old noble with a
blue beard and a white eye. Death to him! But he is not a friend of

"He is lying in wait for you, I see again--Stop! the princess is here
too; she is in a crown, a white dress, above her a hawk."

"That is I."

"Maybe it is. A hawk--or a falcon? A hawk!"

"That is I."

"Wait! All has vanished. In the oaken wheel, in the white foam-- Oh!
oh! many soldiers, many Cossacks, oh, many, like trees in the forest or
thistles in the steppes; and you are above all,--they are bearing three
bunchuk standards before you."

"And the princess is with me?"

"She is not; you are in the camp."

The wheel roared till the whole mill trembled.

"Oh, how much blood, how much blood! how many corpses,--wolves above
them, ravens above them, plague above them! Corpses and corpses,--far
away nothing but corpses, nothing to be seen but blood!"

Suddenly a breath of wind whirled the mist from the wheel; and at the
same time higher up above the mill appeared the deformed Cheremís with
a bundle of wood on his shoulders.

"Cheremís, let down the sluice!" cried the girl.

When she had said this she went to wash her hands and face in the
stream, and the dwarf stopped the water at once.

Bogun sat in thought. He was roused first by the coming of Horpyna.

"You saw nothing more?" he asked.

"What appeared, appeared; I shall see nothing more."

"And you are not lying?"

"By my brother's head, I spoke the truth. They were empaling him,
drawing him on with oxen. I grieve for him. But death is written not
for him alone. Oh, what bodies appeared! Never have I seen so many;
there will be a great war in the world."

"And you saw her with a hawk above her head?"


"And was she in a wreath?"

"In a wreath and a white robe."

"And how do you know that that hawk was I? I spoke to you of that young
Polish noble,--maybe it was he?"

The girl wrinkled her brows and grew thoughtful. "No," said she after a
while, shaking her head; "if it had been the Pole, it would have been
an eagle."

"Glory to God, glory to God! I will go now to the Cossacks to prepare
the horses for the road. We go to-night."

"So you are going surely?"

"Hmelnitski has ordered, and Krívonos too. You know well that there
will be a great war, for I read the same in Bar in a letter from

Bogun in reality could not read, but he was ashamed of it; he did not
wish to pass for illiterate.

"Then go!" said the witch. "You are lucky,--you will be hetman. I saw
three bunchuks above you as I see these fingers."

"And I shall be hetman and marry the princess,--I cannot take a

"You would talk differently with a peasant girl, but you are afraid of
her. You should be a Pole."

"I am no worse."

Bogun now went to the stable to the Cossacks, and Horpyna set about
preparing dinner.

In the evening the horses were ready for the road, but the chief was in
no hurry to depart. He sat on a roll of carpets in the chamber, with
lute in hand, and looked on his princess, who had risen from the couch,
but had thrust herself into the other corner of the room, and was
repeating in silence the rosary without paying any heed to the chief,
just as if he had not been in the room. He, on the contrary, followed
with his eyes every movement of hers, caught with his ears every sigh,
and knew not what to do with himself. From time to time he opened his
mouth to begin conversation, but the words would not leave his throat.
The face pale, silent, and with an expression of decisive sternness in
the brows and mouth, deprived him of courage. Bogun had not seen this
expression on the princess before, and involuntarily he remembered
similar evenings at Rozlogi, which appeared before him as if real,--how
they sat, he and the Kurtsevichi around an oaken table, the old
princess husking sunflower seeds, the princes throwing dice from a cup,
he looking on the beautiful princess just as he was looking now. But in
the old time he was happy, for then he told of his expeditions with the
Zaporojians, she listened, and at times her dark eyes rested on his
face, and her open red lips showed with what interest she listened; now
she would not even look. Then when he played on the lute she would
listen and look, till the heart melted within him. And, wonder of
wonders, he is now master of her,--he has taken her with armed hand;
she is his captive, his prisoner; he can command her. But nevertheless
in the old time he felt himself nearer, more her equal in rank. The
Kurtsevichi were her cousins, she was as a sister; she was not only his
cuckoo, falcon, dearest, dark-browed, but also a relative. Now she sits
before him a proud lady, gloomy, silent, merciless. Ah, but anger is
boiling within him! He would like to show her what it means to slight a
Cossack; but he loves this merciless woman, he would shed his blood for
her. But how many times had anger seized his breast! when suddenly an
unseen hand, as it were, grasps him by the hair, and a voice shouts in
his ear, "Stop!" He belches forth something like a flame, beats his
forehead on the earth, and stops. The Cossack squirms now, for he feels
that he is oppressive to her in that room. Let her but smile and give a
kind word, he would fall at her feet and go to the devil, to drown in
Polish blood all his grief and anger together with the insult put upon
him. But in that room he is like a captive before that princess. If he
had not known her of old, if she were a Pole taken from the first noble
castle, he would have more daring; but she is Princess Helena, for whom
he had asked the Kurtsevichi, and for whom he was willing to give up
Rozlogi and all he had. And the more ashamed he is of being a slave
before her, the less bold is he.

An hour passed. From before the cottage came the murmur of the talk of
the Cossacks, who were surely in their saddles and waiting for the
ataman; but the ataman was in torture. The bright light of the torch
falls on his face, on the rich kontush, and on the lute. And she--if
she would even look! The ataman felt bitter, angry, sad, and awkward.
He would like to bid farewell with tenderness, and he fears the
parting,--fears that it will not be such as from his soul he
desires,--fears to go away in bitterness, anger, and pain.

Oh, if she were not that Princess Helena,--the Princess Helena stabbed
with a knife, threatening death with her own hand; but dear, dear, and
the more cruel and proud, the dearer is she!

Then a horse neighed near the window. The chief mustered courage.

"Princess," said he, "it is already my hour for the road."

She was silent.

"And you will not say to me, 'With God'?"

"Go, with God!" said she, with dignity.

The Cossack's heart was pressed. She said the words he wanted, but not
in the way he wanted.

"Well I know," said he, "that you are angry with me, that you hate me;
but I tell you that another would have been worse to you than I. I
brought you here, for I could not do otherwise; but what harm have I
done you? Have not I treated you well, like a queen? Tell me yourself.
Am I such an outlaw that you will not give me a kind word? And,
moreover, you are in my power."

"I am in the power of God," said she, with the same dignity as before;
"but because you restrain yourself in my presence, I thank you for

"Then I go with even such a word. Maybe you will regret me; maybe you
will be sorry."

Helena was silent.

"I am sorry to leave you here alone," said Bogun, "sorry to go away;
but I must. It would be easier for me if you were to smile, if you were
to give a crucifix with a sincere heart. What can I do to appease you?"

"Give me back my freedom, and God will forgive you all, and I will
forgive and bless you."

"Maybe you will forgive me yet; maybe you will be sorry yet that you
have been so harsh to me."

Bogun wished to buy a word of farewell, even for half a promise which
he did not think of keeping, and got what he wanted, for a light of
hope gleamed in Helena's eyes and the harshness vanished from her face.
She crossed her arms on her breast and fixed a clear glance on him.

"If you would only--"

"Well, I don't know," said the Cossack, in a low voice, for shame and
pity seized him at the same time by the throat. "I cannot now, I
cannot. The Tartars are in the Wilderness, their parties are going
everywhere. The Dobrudja Tartars are moving from Rashkoff. I cannot,
for it is terrible; but when I come back--I am a child in your
presence, you can do what you like with me--I don't know, I don't

"May God inspire you! May the Holy Most Pure inspire you! God go with
you!" And she stretched out her hand to him.

Bogun sprang forward and fastened his lips on it. Suddenly he raised
his head, met her look of dignity, and dropped her hand. Then
retreating toward the door, he bowed to his girdle in Cossack fashion,
bowed again at the door, and disappeared behind the curtain.

Soon there came through the window animated conversation, a clatter of
arms, and later the words of a song in several voices:--

                 "Glorious fame will rise
                  Among the Cossacks,
                  Among the heroes,
                  For many a year,
                  Till the end of time."

The voices and clatter retreated, and grew fainter each moment.

                            CHAPTER XXXVII.

"The Lord has wrought an evident miracle in her favor already," said
Zagloba to Volodyovski and Podbipienta, while sitting in Skshetuski's
quarters,--"an evident miracle, I say, in permitting me to wrest her
from the grasp of those dogs and to guard her the whole way. Let us
hope that he will be merciful to her and to us once more. If she is
only living! Something whispers to me that Bogun has carried her away;
for just think, the informants tell us that after Pulyan he has become
the second in command,--may the devils command him!--therefore he must
have been present at the taking of Bar."

"He might not have found her in that crowd of unfortunates, for twelve
thousand people were cut to pieces there," said Volodyovski.

"Oh, you don't know him! I would swear that he knew she was in Bar. It
cannot be but he has saved her from slaughter and taken her somewhere."

"You do not give us much consolation; for in Skshetuski's place, I
should rather have her perish than fall into his scoundrelly hands."

"The other is no consolation; for if she has perished, she was

"Desperation!" exclaimed Volodyovski.

"Desperation!" repeated Pan Longin.

Zagloba pulled his beard; at last he burst out: "May the mange devour
the whole race of curs! May the Pagans twist bow-strings out of their
entrails! God created all nations, but the devil created these sons of
Sodom. May barrenness strike the trash!"

"I did not know that sweet lady," said Volodyovski, gloomily, "but I
would that misfortune met me rather than her."

"Once in my life I saw her," said Pan Longin; "but when I think of her,
life is a burden of regret."

"You describe your own feelings," said Zagloba; "but what do you
think of me, who loved her like a father, and rescued her from that
misery,--what do you think of me?"

"And what do you think of Pan Yan?" asked Volodyovski.

The knights were in despair and sank into silence. Zagloba came to
himself first.

"Is there no help?" he asked.

"If there is no help, it is our duty to take vengeance," said

"Oh, if God would only give a general battle!" sighed Pan Longin. "It
is said that the Tartars have already crossed the river, and formed a
camp in the steppe."

"We cannot leave her," said Zagloba, "the poor thing, without
undertaking something for her rescue. I have battered my old bones
around the world enough already; it would be better for me now to lie
somewhere in a baker's shop quietly, for warmth's sake! But for her I
would go again even to Stamboul; I would put on a peasant's coat again
and take a lute, on which I cannot look without disgust."

"You are fertile in stratagems; think of something," said Podbipienta.

"A great many plans have gone through my head already. If Prince
Dominik had half as many, Hmelnitski would be disembowelled and hanging
by the legs on a gibbet. I have already spoken of this to Skshetuski,
but you can say nothing to him at present. Sorrow has seared him, and
drags him down more than sickness. You see to it that his reason is not
disturbed. It often happens that from great grief the mind, like wine,
changes until it is completely soured."

"Yes, yes!" answered Pan Longin.

Volodyovski started up impatiently, and asked: "What are your plans

"My plans? Well, first we must find out whether she--poor dear, may the
angels guard her from every evil!--is alive yet; and this we can do in
two ways,--either we shall find among the Prince's Cossacks trusty and
sure men, who will undertake to escape to the Cossacks, mingle among
Bogun's men, and find out something from them--"

"I have Russian dragoons," interrupted Volodyovski, "I will find such

"Wait a moment!--or catch an informant from those scoundrels who took
Bar; maybe they know something. They all look at Bogun as at a rainbow,
because his devilish daring pleases them; they sing songs about
him,--may their throats rot!--and one talks to another about what he
did and what he didn't do. If he has carried off our unfortunate lady,
then it is not hidden from them."

"Well, we can send men to inquire, and to catch an informant also,"
remarked Podbipienta.

"You have struck the point. If we discover that she is alive, that is
the chief thing. Now, since you wish sincerely to help Pan Yan, put
yourself under my orders, for I have most experience. We will disguise
ourselves as peasants, and try to find out where he has concealed her,
and once we know that, my head for it, we shall get her. I and Pan Yan
risk most, for Bogun knows us, and if he should catch us, our own
mothers wouldn't recognize us afterward, but he hasn't seen either of

"He has seen me," said Podbipienta, "but that is nothing."

"Maybe too the Lord will give him into our hands," said Volodyovski.

"Well, I don't want to look at him," said Zagloba; "may the hangman
look at him! We must begin carefully, so as not to spoil the whole
undertaking. It cannot be that he alone knows of her concealment, and I
assure you, gentlemen, that it is safer to inquire of some one else."

"Maybe too the men whom we send out will discover. If the prince only
permits, I will select trusty men, and send them even to-morrow."

"The prince will permit it; but that they will discover anything, I
doubt. Listen, gentlemen! another method occurs to me,--instead of
sending out people or seizing informants, to disguise ourselves as
peasants and start without delay."

"Oh, that is impossible!" cried Volodyovski.

"Why impossible?"

"Don't you know military service? When a body of troops is mustered
_nemine excepto_, it is sacred. Even if his father and mother were
dying, a soldier would not ask leave of absence, for before battle this
would be the greatest deed of disgrace which a soldier could commit.
After a general engagement, when the enemy is defeated it is
permissible, but not before. And consider, Skshetuski at first wanted
to rush off, fly away, and rescue her, but he did nothing of the kind.
He has a reputation, the prince is fond of him; and he made no request,
for he knows his duty. Ours is public duty, and this is a private
matter. I do not know how it is in some other land, though I think it
is the same everywhere; but with the prince our voevoda it is an
unheard of thing to ask leave before a battle, especially for officers!
Though Skshetuski's soul were rent, he would not go with such a
proposition to the prince."

"He is a Roman and a rigorist, I know," said Zagloba; "but if some one
should give the prince a hint, maybe he would grant permission of his
own instance, to Skshetuski and to you."

"That would not enter his mind. The prince has the whole Commonwealth
on his mind. Do you think that now, when there is a rush of the most
important affairs, affecting the whole nation, he would take up any
private question? And even if he should give a permission unasked,
which is unlikely, as God is in heaven, no one of us would leave the
camp at present; for we too owe our first service to our unhappy
country, not to ourselves."

"I am aware of that. I am acquainted with service from of old;
therefore I told you that this method passed through my head, but I did
not say that it stayed there. Besides, to tell the truth, while the
power of the rabble stands untouched we could not do much; but when
they are defeated and hunted down,--when their only thought will be to
save their own throats,--we can go among them boldly and get
information more easily. Oh, if the rest of the army would only come up
at once! If it does not, we shall surely die of weariness at this
Cholganski Kamen. If our prince had the command, we should be moving
now; but Prince Dominik, it is evident, stops often for refreshments,
since he is not here yet."

"He is expected in three days."

"God grant as soon as possible! But Konyetspolski will be here to-day?"


At that moment the door opened, and Skshetuski entered. His features
seemed as if chiselled out of stone by pain, such calm and cold came
from them. It was strange to look on that young face, as severe and
dignified as though a smile had never appeared on it; and it would have
been easy to imagine that if death were to strike it there would be
little change. Skshetuski's beard had grown half-way to his breast, in
which beard, among hairs black as the raven's wing, here and there were
winding silver threads. His comrades and trusty friends guessed at his
suffering, for he did not exhibit it. He was self-possessed, apparently
calm, and almost more diligent, in his military service than usual, and
entirely occupied with the impending war.

"We have been speaking of your misfortune, which is at the same time
our own," said Zagloba; "for God is our witness that we can console
ourselves with nothing. This, however, would be a barren sentiment if
we were to aid you only in shedding tears; therefore we have determined
to shed blood also,--to rescue the unfortunate lady, if she still walks
upon the earth."

"God reward you!" said Skshetuski.

"We will go with you even to Hmelnitski's camp," said Volodyovski.

"God reward you!" repeated Skshetuski.

"We know that you have sworn to seek her, living or dead; therefore we
are ready, even to-day."

Skshetuski, having seated himself on a bench, fixed his eyes on the
ground and made no answer. At last anger got control of Zagloba. "Does
he intend to give her up?" thought he. "If he does, God be with him! I
see there is neither gratitude nor memory in the world. But men will be
found yet to rescue her, or I shall have to yield my last breath."

Silence reigned in the room, interrupted only by the sighs of Pan
Longin. Meanwhile little Volodyovski approached Skshetuski and shook
him by the shoulder.

"Where are you from now?" asked he.

"From the prince."

"What news?"

"I am going out on a reconnoissance to-night."


"To Yarmolintsi, if the road is clear."

Volodyovski looked at Zagloba, and they understood each other at once.

"That is toward Bar," muttered Zagloba.

"We will go with you."

"You must go for permission, and ask if the prince has not appointed
other work for you."

"We will go together. I have also something else to ask."

They rose and went. The quarters of the prince were some distance away,
at the other end of the camp. In the antechamber they found a crowd of
officers from different squadrons; for forces were marching from every
direction to Cholganski Kamen. All were hurrying to offer their
services to the prince. Volodyovski had to wait some time before he and
Podbipienta were permitted to stand before the face of their chief; but
to make up for this, the prince gave them permission at once to go, and
to send out some Russian dragoons, who, feigning desertion from the
camp, should escape to Bogun's Cossacks and inquire about the princess.
To Volodyovski he said,--

"I will find various duties for Skshetuski myself, for I see that
suffering has settled in him and is eating him up. I am unspeakably
sorry for him. Has he said nothing to you about her?"

"But little. At first he wanted to go at random among the Cossacks, but
he remembered that the squadron is mustered in full,--that we are at
the service of the country, which must be saved before aught else;
therefore he did not appear before you at all. God alone knows what is
taking place within him."

"And is trying him severely. Watch over him; for I see that you are a
trusty friend of his."

Volodyovski bowed low and went out; for at that moment the voevoda of
Kieff entered with the starosta of Stobnik and Pan Denhoff, and a
number of other military dignitaries.

"Well, what is the result?" asked Pan Yan.

"I go with you; but first I must go to my squadron, for I have a number
of men to send out."

"Let us go together."

They went; and with them Podbipienta, Zagloba, and old Zatsvilikhovski,
who was on the way to his squadron. Not far from the tents of
Volodyovski's dragoons they met Pan Lashch, walking, or rather
staggering, at the head of a number of nobles, for he and his comrades
were completely drunk. At the sight of this Zagloba sighed. The two men
had fallen in love with each other at Konstantinoff, because, from a
certain point of view, they had natures as much alike as two drops of
water. For Pan Lashch, though a formidable knight, and terrible against
Pagans as few men were terrible, was also a notorious drinker and
feaster, who loved, above all things, to pass the time free from
battle, prayers, attacks, and quarrels, in the circle of men like
Zagloba, to drink with might and main, and listen to jokes. He was a
roysterer on a grand scale, who himself alone had caused so much
disturbance, had so many times risen up against the law, that in any
other State he would have lost his life long before. More sentences
than one were hanging over him, but even in time of peace he troubled
himself little about those; and now, in time of war, everything passed
into forgetfulness all the more. He joined the prince at Rosolovtsi,
and had rendered no small service at Konstantinoff; but since they had
halted at Zbaraj he had become quite unendurable, through the tumults
which he raised. No one had given regular count or calculation to the
wine that Zagloba had drunk at his quarters, or the stories he had
told, to the great delight of the host, who urged him to come every

But since the news of the taking of Bar, Zagloba had become gloomy,
lost his humor and vivacity, and no longer visited Pan Lashch. Pan
Lashch, indeed, thought that the jovial nobleman had gone somewhere
from the army, when suddenly he saw him. He extended his hand, and

"My greetings to you. Why don't you come to see me? What are you

"I am attending Skshetuski," answered Zagloba, gloomily.

The colonel did not like Skshetuski on account of his dignity, and
nicknamed him "The Grave." He knew of his misfortune perfectly well,
for he was present at the banquet in Zbaraj when news of the capture of
Bar came in. But being of unrestrained nature, and drunk at the moment,
he did not respect human suffering, and seizing the lieutenant by the
button, inquired,--

"So, then, you are crying for a girl? And was she pretty, hei?"

"Let me go, please," said Skshetuski.


"On my way to service you cannot command me. I am free of you."

"Wait!" said Lashch, with the stubbornness of a drunken man. "You have
service, but I have none. There is no one to command me here." Then
lowering his voice, he repeated the question, "But she was pretty,

The lieutenant frowned, "I tell you, sir, better not touch a sore

"Not touch? Never fear! If she was pretty, she is alive."

Skshetuski's face was covered with a deathly pallor, but he restrained
himself, and said: "I hope I shall not forget with whom I am talking--"

Lashch stuck out his eyes. "What! Are you threatening me, threatening
me,--for one little wench?"

"Go your way!" shouted old Zatsvilikhovski, trembling with anger.

"Ah, sneaks, rabble, lackeys!" roared the commander. "Gentlemen, to
your sabres!"

Drawing his own, he sprang at Skshetuski; but that moment the steel
whistled in Skshetuski's hand, and the sabre of the commander hopped
like a bird through the air, and staggered by the blow, he fell his
whole length on the ground.

Skshetuski did not strike again. He became pale as a corpse, as if
stunned, and that moment a tumult arose. From one side rushed in the
soldiers of the commander; from the other Volodyovski's dragoons
hurried like bees from a hive. Many hastened up, not knowing what the
matter was; sabres began to rattle; any moment the tumult might have
changed into a general battle. Happily Lashch's comrades, seeing that
Vishnyevetski's men were arriving every moment, made sober from fear,
seized the commander and started off with him.

In truth, if Lashch had had to do with other and less disciplined
forces, they would have cut him into small pieces with their swords;
but old Zatsvilikhovski, recollecting himself, merely cried, "Stop!"
and the sabres were sheathed. Nevertheless there was excitement
throughout the whole camp, and the echo of the tumult reached the ears
of the prince just as Pan Kushel, who was on duty, rushed into the room
in which the prince was holding counsel with the voevoda of Kieff, the
starosta of Stobnik, and Pan Denhoff, and shouted,--

"Your Highness, the soldiers are fighting with sabres!"

At that moment Lashch, pale and beside himself with rage, but sober,
shot in like a bomb.

"Your Highness, justice! It is in this camp as with Hmelnitski,--no
respect for blood or rank. Dignitaries of the Crown are slashed with
sabres! If your Highness will not mete out justice, will not punish
with death, then I myself will mete it out."

The prince sprang up from the table. "What has happened? Who has
attacked you?"

"Thy officer, Skshetuski."

Genuine astonishment was reflected on the face of the prince.

Suddenly the doors were opened, and in walked Zatsvilikhovski. "Your
Highness, I was a witness," said he.

"I have not come here to give reasons, but to demand punishment," cried

The prince turned and fastened his eyes upon him. "Stop! stop!" said
he, quietly and with emphasis.

There was something so terrible in his eyes and in his hushed voice
that Lashch, though notorious for insolence, became silent at once, as
if he had lost his speech, and the spectators grew pale.

"Speak!" said the prince to Zatsvilikhovski.

Zatsvilikhovski described the whole affair,--how the commander, led by
an ignoble sentiment, unworthy not only of a dignitary but of a noble,
began to blaspheme against the suffering of Pan Skshetuski, and then
rushed upon him with a sabre; with moderation, in truth unusual to his
age, the lieutenant had used his weapon only to ward off the aggressor.
Finally the old man ended his story thus,--

"And since, as your Highness knows, up to my seventieth year lying has
not stained my lips, nor will it while I live, I could not under oath
change one word in my story."

The prince knew that Zatsvilikhovski's words were equal to gold, and
besides he knew Lashch too well. He gave no answer then; he merely took
a pen and began to write. When he had finished he looked at the
commander. "Justice will be meted out to you," said he.

The commander opened his mouth and wished to speak, but somehow the
words did not come to him; he merely put his hand on his hip, bowed,
and went out proudly from the room.

"Jelenski," said the prince, "you will give this letter to Pan

Volodyovski, who had not left the lieutenant, was astonished somewhat
at seeing the messenger come in, for he was sure that they would have
to appear at once before the prince. The messenger left the letter and
went out in silence. When he had read it Skshetuski handed the letter
to his friend. "Read!" said he.

Volodyovski glanced at it, and shouted: "Promotion to the head of the
regiment!" And seizing Skshetuski by the neck, he kissed him on both

A full lieutenant in the hussar regiment was almost a military
dignitary. The captain of that one in which Skshetuski served was the
prince himself, and the titular lieutenant was Pan Sufchinski, of
Senchi, a man already old and out of service. Skshetuski had long
performed the active duties of both offices,--a condition of service
often found in regiments like his, in which the first two places were
not infrequently merely titular offices. Captain in the royal regiment
was the king himself; in that of the primate, the primate. The
lieutenant and captain in both were high dignitaries of the court. They
were actually commanded by deputies, who on this account were called in
ordinary speech colonels and lieutenants. Such an actual lieutenant or
colonel was Skshetuski. But between the actual filling of the office,
between the dignity accorded in current speech and the real one, there
was still a great difference. In the present instance, by virtue of his
appointment, Skshetuski became one of the first officers of the prince.

But while his friends were overflowing with joy, congratulating him on
his new honor, his face did not change for a moment, but remained just
the same, severe and stone-like; for there were not offices nor
dignities in the world that could brighten it. He rose, however, and
went to thank the prince.

Meanwhile little Volodyovski walked up and down in his quarters rubbing
his hands. "Well, well," he said, "appointed lieutenant in the hussar
squadron in youthful years. I think this has happened to no one

"If God would only return his happiness!" said Zagloba.

"That is it, that is it. Did you see that he did not quiver?"

"He would prefer resigning," said Pan Longin.

"Gentlemen," sighed Zagloba, "what wonder! I would give these five
fingers of mine for her, though I captured a banner with them."

"Sure enough."

"But Pan Sufchinski must be dead," remarked Volodyovski.

"He is surely dead."

"Who will take the lieutenancy then? The banneret is a stripling, and
performs the duties only since the battle at Konstantinoff."

This question remained unanswered; but the colonel himself, Skshetuski,
brought the answer to it when he returned.

"My dear sir," said he to Pan Podbipienta, "the prince has appointed
you lieutenant."

"Oh, my God, my God!" groaned Pan Longin, placing his hands together as
if in prayer.

"He might as well have appointed his Livonian mare," muttered Zagloba.

"Well, and the scouting-party?" asked Volodyovski,

"We shall go without delay," answered Skshetuski.

"Has the prince given orders to take many troops?"

"One Cossack and one Wallachian squadron, five hundred men altogether."

"Hallo! that is an expedition, not a party. If that is the case, it is
time for us to take the road."

"To the road, to the road!" repeated Zagloba. "Maybe God will help us
to get some tidings."

Two hours later, precisely at sunset, the four friends rode out from
Cholganski Kamen toward the south. About the same time Lashch left the
camp with his men. A multitude of knights from different regiments
witnessed his departure, not sparing shouts and sneers. The officers
crowded around Pan Kushel, who told the reason why the commander was
dismissed, and how it happened.

"I delivered the order of the prince," said Kushel; "and you may
believe it was a perilous mission, gentlemen, for when he read it he
began to bellow like a bullock when branded with iron. He was rushing
at me with a sword,--a wonder he didn't hit me; but it appears that he
saw Pan Koritski's Germans surrounding his quarters, and my dragoons
with spears in their hands. Then he began to shout: 'All right! all
right! I'll go away, since they drive me off. I'll go to Prince
Dominik, who will receive me thankfully. I will not,' said he, 'serve
with minstrels; but as I am Lashch, I will have vengeance, as I am
Lashch; and from that sneak,' said he, 'I must have satisfaction!' I
thought he would stifle from venom; he slashed the table from rage time
after time. And I tell you, gentlemen, that I am not sure some evil
will not come on Skshetuski, for there is no trifling with the
commander. He is a stubborn and proud man, who has never yet allowed an
offence to pass. He is daring, and a dignitary besides."

"What can touch Skshetuski under the protection of the prince?" asked
one of the officers. "The commander, though ready for everything, will
be wary of such a hand."

Meanwhile the lieutenant, knowing nothing of the vows which the
commander had made against him, withdrew at the head of his party
farther and farther from the camp, turning his way toward Ojigovtsi to
the Bug and Medvedovka. Though September had withered the leaves on the
trees, the night was calm and warm as in July; for such, indeed, was
that whole year, in which there was scarcely any winter, and in spring
everything was in bloom at a time when in former years deep snow was
still lying on the steppes. After a rather moist summer, the first
months of autumn were dry and mild, with clear days and bright
moonlight nights. They travelled along the easy road, not taking
special care, for they were still too near the camp to be threatened by
any attack. They rode briskly; Skshetuski ahead with a few horsemen,
and behind him Volodyovski, Zagloba, and Podbipienta.

"Look, gentlemen, how the light of the moon shines on that hill!"
whispered Zagloba. "You might swear that it is day. It is said that
only in time of war are there such nights, so that spirits may leave
their bodies without knocking their heads against trees in the dark,
like sparrows against the cross-pieces in a barn, and more easily find
the way. Today is Friday, the day of the Saviour, in which poisonous
vapors do not issue from the ground, and evil powers have no approach
to men. I feel somehow easier, and hope takes possession of me."

"That is because we are now on the way and will undertake some rescue."

"The worst thing, in grief, is to sit in one place. When you get on
horseback, all your despair flies down from the shaking, till you shake
it off completely and entirely."

"I do not believe," whispered Volodyovski, "that you can shake off
everything in that way,--for example, love, which clings to the heart
like a wood-tick."

"If love is genuine," said Pan Longin, "then even if you should wrestle
with it as with a bear, it would throw you."

Having said this, Podbipienta relieved his swollen breast with a sigh
which was like the puff of a blacksmith's bellows; but little
Volodyovski raised his eyes to heaven, as if seeking among the stars
that one which was shining on Princess Barbara.

The horses began to snort in the whole company, and the soldiers
answered, "Health, health!" Then all was silent till some melancholy
voice began to sing in the rear ranks:

                 "You are going to the war, my boy,
                  You are going to the war!
                  Your nights will be cold,
                  And your days will be hot--"

"Old soldiers say that horses always snort as a good omen, as my
deceased father used to tell me," said Volodyovski.

"Something whispers, as it were, in my ear, that we are not going for
nothing," answered Zagloba.

"God grant that some consolation enter the heart of the lieutenant!"
sighed Pan Longin.

Zagloba began to nod and turn his head like a man who is unable to
conquer some idea, and at last said,--

"Something altogether different is in my head, and I must get rid of
the thought, for I cannot endure it. Have you noticed that for some
time Skshetuski--I am not sure, maybe he dissembles--but still he, as
it were, thinks less than any of us of saving that unfortunate lady."

"Nonsense!" said Volodyovski. "It is his disposition never to confess
anything to any one. He has never been different."

"Yes, that so far as it goes; but just remember, when we gave him hope,
he said, 'God reward you,' both to me and to you, as coldly as if it
had been some common affair. And God is witness, on his part that was
black ingratitude; for what that poor woman has wept and grieved for
him could not be inscribed on an ox-hide. I have seen it with my own

Volodyovski shook his head. "It cannot be that he has given her up,
though it is true that the first time when that devil seized her from
him in Rozlogi, he despaired so that we feared he would lose his mind;
but now he shows more reflection. If God has poured peace into his
soul, it is better. As true friends, it is our duty to be comforted by

Volodyovski then spurred his horse and sped on toward Pan Yan, but
Zagloba rode for some time in silence by the side of Podbipienta.

"Are you not of my opinion, that if there were no love affairs a power
of evil would cease in the world?"

"Whatever God has destined to any one, will not avoid him," answered
the Lithuanian.

"But you never answer to the point. That is one affair, and this is
another. Who caused the destruction of Troy, hei? And isn't this war
about fair locks? Hmelnitski wanted Chaplinski's woman, or Chaplinski
wanted Hmelnitski's; and we are breaking our necks on account of their
sinful desires."

"Those are dishonorable loves; but there are honorable ones, through
which the glory of God is increased."

"Now you have hit the point better. But are you going soon to work in
that vineyard yourself? I hear that a scarf is bound to you for the

"Ah, brother! brother!"

"But three heads are in the way, are they?"

"Ah, that's the truth!"

"Well, I tell you: give a good blow, and cut them off at once from
Hmelnitski, the Khan, and Bogun."

"Oh, if they would only stand in a row!" said Pan Longin, in a voice
full of emotion, raising his eyes to heaven.

Meanwhile Volodyovski rode by Skshetuski, and looked from under his
helmet in silence at his pallid face, till at last their stirrups

"Yan," said he, "it is bad for you to forget yourself."

"I am not forgetting myself, I am praying," answered Skshetuski.

"That is a holy and praiseworthy thing; but you are not a monk, to be
occupied in prayer alone."

Pan Yan turned his suffering face slowly to Volodyovski, and inquired
with a dull voice, full of deathly resignation: "Tell me, Michael, what
is left to me now but a monk's habit?"

"It remains to you to rescue her," answered Volodyovski.

"I will do that, if it takes my last breath. But even if I should find
her alive, will it not be too late? Preserve me, O God, for I can think
of everything, only not of that, God save my reason! I desire nothing
more than to rescue her from those infamous hands and let her find an
asylum, such as I myself shall seek. Evidently it was not the will of
God. Let me pray, Michael, and don't touch my bleeding wound."

Volodyovski's heart was pressed. He wished still to console his friend,
to speak of hope; but the words would not pass his lips, and they rode
on in dull silence. Only the lips of Skshetuski moved rapidly in
prayer, with which he wished evidently to drive away terrible thoughts.
But the little knight was afraid when he looked at that face in the
moonlight; for it seemed to him altogether like the face of a monk,
stern, emaciated by fasting and mortification. And then that voice
began again to sing, in the rear,--

           "You will find when the war is over, poor fellow,
            You will find when the war is over,
            Everything empty at home,
            And your skin full of wounds."

                            CHAPTER XXXVIII.

Skshetuski so marched with his detachment that he rested during the day
in forests and ravines, throwing out pickets carefully, and pushed
forward only in the night. Whenever he approached a village he usually
surrounded it so that not a man went out, took provisions, feed for his
horses, but above all collected information concerning the enemy; then
he marched away without inflicting harm on the people. But when out of
sight he changed his road abruptly, so that the enemy in the village
might not know in what direction he had gone. The object of his
expedition was to discover whether Krívonos with his forty thousand men
was still besieging Kamenyets, or having given up the fruitless siege,
was marching to assist Hmelnitski so as to join him for a general
engagement; and further what the Dobrudja Tartars were doing,--whether
they had crossed the Dnieper already and joined Krívonos, or were still
on the other bank. These were important items for the Polish army,
which the commanders should have tried to obtain; but being men without
experience, it did not enter their heads to do so. Yeremi therefore
took that burden on himself. If it should appear that Krívonos, with
the hordes of Bélgorod and Dobrudja, had abandoned the siege of the
impregnable Kamenyets and was marching to Hmelnitski, then it behooved
them to attack the latter as quickly as possible before he had grown to
his highest power.

Meanwhile the commander-in-chief. Prince Dominik Zaslavski Ostrogski,
was not hastening, and at the time of Skshetuski's departure he was
expected at the camp in two or three days. Evidently he was feasting
along the road, according to his custom, and felt well; but the most
favorable moment for breaking the power of Hmelnitski was passing, and
Prince Yeremi was in despair at the thought that if the war should be
carried on further in this fashion, not only Krívonos and the forces
beyond the Dniester would come to Hmelnitski in season, but also the
Khan himself at the head of all the forces from Perekop, Nogai, and

There were tidings in camp that the Khan had already crossed the
Dnieper, and was moving westward day and night with two hundred
thousand horse; but day after day passed, and Prince Dominik did not
arrive. It became more and more likely that the troops at Cholganski
Kamen would have to meet forces five times more numerous, and in case
of defeat nothing would prevent the enemy from breaking into the heart
of the Commonwealth at Cracow and Warsaw.

Krívonos was the more dangerous in this, that in case the commanders
wished to push into the heart of the Ukraine, he, by going from
Kamenyets directly northward to Konstantinoff, could bar their retreat,
and in every case they would be taken then between two fires.
Skshetuski determined therefore not only to gain information concerning
Krívonos, but to check him. Penetrated with the importance of this
task, on the accomplishment of which the fate of the whole army was in
part dependent, he risked willingly his own life and the lives of his
soldiers, though that undertaking might have been considered insane or
mad if the young knight had had the intention of checking with five
hundred men in an offensive battle the forty thousand men of Krívonos
reinforced by the hordes of Bélgorod and Dobrudja. But Skshetuski was
too experienced a soldier to rush into insane undertakings, and he knew
perfectly well that in case of battle the torrent would sweep over the
bodies of himself and his men in an hour. He seized upon other means.
He gave out among his own soldiers that they were merely the advance
guard of a whole division of the terrible prince, and this report he
spread everywhere in all the farms, villages, and towns through which
it came to him to pass. And in truth it spread like a flash of
lightning along Zbruch, Smotrich, Studenitsa, Ushka, Kalusik, and from
them it reached the Dniester and flew on farther as if driven by the
wind from Kamenyets to Yagorlik. It was repeated by Turkish pashas in
Khotím, the Zaporojians in Yampol, and the Tartars in Rashkoff. And
again was heard that famous cry, "Yarema is coming!" from which the
hearts of the rebellious people sank, and from which they trembled,
knowing neither the day nor the hour.

And no one doubted the truth of the report. The commanders would fall
upon Hmelnitski, and Yeremi on Krívonos,--that lay in the order of
things. Krívonos himself believed in it, and his hands dropped. What
was he to do? Move on the prince? At Konstantinoff there was another
spirit in his men and he had more troops; still they were beaten,
decimated, barely escaped with their lives. Krívonos was sure that his
Cossacks would fight madly against all other armies of the
Commonwealth, and against every other leader, but with the approach of
Yeremi they would speed away like a flock of swans before an eagle, or
like the thistle-down of the steppes before the wind.

To wait for the prince at Kamenyets was still worse. Krívonos
determined to hurry eastward as far as Bratslav, to avoid his evil
spirit and move toward Hmelnitski. He knew, it is true, that circling
around in this way he would not arrive in time; but at least he would
hear of the results in season, and plan for his own safety.

A new report came with the wind, that Hmelnitski was already defeated.
Skshetuski had spread it purposely, as he had the previous report. This
time the unfortunate Krívonos knew not what to do.

Later he determined all the more to march to the east and push on as
far as possible into the steppes; maybe he would meet the Tartars and
find shelter among them. But first of all he wished to be sure;
therefore he looked carefully among his colonels to find a man trusty
and prepared for everything, so as to send him with a party to get
information. But the choice was difficult; there was a lack of
volunteers, and it was absolutely necessary to find a man who in case
he should fall into the hands of the enemy would not disclose the plans
of retreat, even if burned with fire, empaled on a stake, or broken on
a wheel. At last Krívonos found the man. One night he gave the order to
call Bogun, and said to him,--

"Do you hear, Yurku, my friend Yarema is marching on us with a great
force; we shall all perish, unfortunates!"

"I have heard that he is coming,--you have already spoken of that,
father. But why should we perish?"

"We cannot withstand him. We could another, but not Yeremi. The
Cossacks are afraid of him."

"But I am not afraid of him. I cut to pieces a regiment of his at
Vassílyevka beyond the Dnieper."

"I know that you are not afraid of him; your fame of a Cossack and a
hero is equal to his as a prince. But I cannot give him battle, for my
Cossacks are unwilling. Remember what they said at the council,--how
they rushed on me with sabres because I wanted to lead them to

"Then we will go to Hmelnitski; there we shall find blood and booty."

"They say that Hmelnitski is already defeated."

"I do not believe that, Father Maksim. Hmelnitski is a fox; he will not
strike the Poles without the Tartars."

"I think so too, but we must find out. Then we could go around this
devil of a Yeremi and join Hmel; but we must have information. Now, if
some one who has no fear of Yeremi were to go with a party and take
prisoners, I should fill his cap with ruddy sequins."

"I'll go, Father Maksim,--not for sequins, but for Cossack, for heroic

"You are the next ataman to me, and since you are willing to go, you
will become first ataman yet over the Cossacks, good hero, for you are
not afraid of Yeremi. Go, my falcon, and hereafter you have but to ask
for what you want. Well, I tell you, if you were not going I should go
myself; but it is not for me to go."

"No; for if you were to go, father, the Cossacks would say that you
were saving your head and would scatter over the world, but when I go
their courage will increase."

"Shall I give you many men?"

"I will not take many; it is easier to hide and approach with a small
force. But give me about five hundred good warriors, and my head for
it, I will bring you informants,--not soldiers, but officers from whom
you will learn everything."

"Go at once! They are firing cannon from Kamenyets with joy,--salvation
to the Poles and destruction to us innocents."

Bogun went out, and began to prepare at once for the road. His heroes,
as was the fixed practice on such occasions, drank to the verge of
destruction, "before Mother Death should clasp them to her breast." He
too drank with them till he was snorting from gorailka.

He frolicked and revelled, then had a barrel filled with tar, and just
as he was, in brocade and serge, sprang into it, sank a couple of
times, once over his head, and shouted,--

"I am black as Mother Night. Polish eyes won't see me now!"

He rolled himself on Persian carpets, sprang on his horse and rode
away. After him clattered, amid the darkness of night, his trusty
heroes, followed by shouts: "Glory! Luck!"

Skshetuski had already pushed on to Yarmolintsi, where, meeting
opposition, he baptized the townspeople in blood, and having told them
that Prince Yeremi would arrive next day, gave rest to his wearied
horses and men. Then assembling his officers in council, he said to

"So far God has given us success. I see also, by the terror which
seizes the peasants, that they take us for the advance guard of the
prince, and believe that his whole force is following. We must look
out, however, that they do not bethink themselves when they see that
one company is going everywhere."

"And shall we go about in this way long?" asked Zagloba.

"Till we find out what Krívonos has determined."

"Then we may not come in time for the battle at the camp?"

"Maybe not."

"Well, I am not glad of that," said Zagloba. "My hand has become a
little exercised on the ruffians at Konstantinoff. I captured something
from them there; but that is a trifle. My fingers are itching now."

"Perhaps you will get more fighting than you expect," answered Pan Yan,

"How is that?" asked Zagloba, rather alarmed.

"Why, any day we may come upon the enemy, and though we are not here to
bar the road with arms, we shall have to defend ourselves. But to
return to the subject. We must occupy more country, so they may know of
us in several places at once; cut down the obstinate here and there, so
as to spread terror; and everywhere circulate reports. Therefore I
think we must separate."

"So I think," said Volodyovski. "We shall increase in their eyes, and
those who escape to Krívonos will talk about legions."

"Well, Lieutenant, you are leader here, give the orders," said

"I will go through Zinkoff to Solodkovets, and farther if I can," said
Skshetuski. "You, Podbipienta, will go straight down to Tatarjiski; and
you, Michael, go to Kupin; and Zagloba will press on to Zbruch, near

"I!" exclaimed Zagloba.

"Yes. You are a man of thought and full of stratagems. I supposed you
would undertake the enterprise willingly; but if not, Sergeant Kosmach
will lead the fourth party."

"I will take it under my command," cried Zagloba, who was suddenly
dazzled by the thought that he would be the leader of a separate party.
"If I asked, it was because I am sorry to part with you."

"But have you experience in military matters?" asked Volodyovski.

"Have I experience? It hadn't yet come into the head of any stork to
make a present of you to your father and mother when I was commanding
larger bodies of men than this. I served all my life in the army, and
should have served to this moment had it not been for the mouldy
biscuit that stuck in my stomach and stayed there three years. I had to
go for a bezoar to Galáts, the details of which journey I will tell in
proper time, but now I am in a hurry for the road."

"Go on, then, and spread the reports that Hmelnitski is beaten,
and that the prince has passed Ploskiroff," said Skshetuski.
"Don't take the first informant that comes along; but when you meet
scouting-parties from Kamenyets, try to get people who are able to give
information about Krívonos, for those whom we have now tell
contradictory stories."

"I hope I may meet Krívonos himself. I hope he will want to go on a
scouting expedition. I should give him pepper and ginger. Don't be
afraid! I will teach the ruffians to sing, and dance for that matter."

"In three days we shall meet again at Yarmolintsi, and now each one to
his journey," said Skshetuski. "And I beg of you to spare your men."

"In three days at Yarmolintsi," repeated Volodyovski, Zagloba, and

                             CHAPTER XXXIX.

When Zagloba found himself alone at the head of his party, he felt
uncomfortable somehow and terribly alarmed, and would have given much
to have at his side Skshetuski, Volodyovski, or Pan Longin, whom in his
soul he admired with all his might, and near whom he felt completely
safe, so blindly did he believe in their resources and bravery. At
first, therefore, he rode rather gloomily at the head of his party, and
looking around suspiciously on every side, measured in his mind the
dangers which he might meet, and muttered,--

"It would always be livelier if some one of them were here. To whatever
God predestined a man, for that he created him; and those three ought
to have been born horseflies, for they love to sit in blood. They are
in war just as other men are at the cup, or like fish in water. War is
their play. They have light stomachs, but heavy hands. I have seen
Skshetuski at work, and I know what skill he has. He hurries through
men as monks through their prayers. That's his favorite work. That
Lithuanian, who has no head of his own, is looking for three strange
heads, and he has nothing to risk. I know that little fellow least of
all, but he must be a wasp of no common kind, judging from what I saw
at Konstantinoff, and what Skshetuski tells me about him,--he must be a
wasp! Happily he is marching not far from me, and I think that I shall
do better to join him, for if I know where to go may the ducks trample

Zagloba felt so lonely in the world that he took pity upon his own

"Indeed!" muttered he. "Every man has some one to look to; but how is
it with me? I have neither comrade nor father nor mother. I am an
orphan, and that is the end of it!"

At that moment the sergeant, Kosmach, approached him. "Commander, where
are we marching to?" asked he.

"Where are we marching to?" repeated Zagloba. "What?" Suddenly he
straightened himself in the saddle and twisted his mustache. "To
Kamenyets, if such should be my will! Do you understand?"

The sergeant bowed and withdrew in silence to the ranks, unable to
explain to himself what the commander was angry at. But Zagloba cast
threatening glances at the neighborhood, then grew quiet and muttered

"If I go to Kamenyets, I'll let a hundred blows of a stick be given on
the soles of my feet, Turkish fashion. Tfu! tfu! If I only had one of
those fellows with me, then I should feel more courage. What shall I
begin to do with these people? I would rather be alone, for when alone
a man trusts to stratagem. But now there are too many of us for
stratagems and too few for defence. A very unfortunate idea of
Skshetuski's to divide the detachment! And where shall I go? I know
what is behind me, but who shall tell me what is in front, and who
shall assure me that the devils there haven't set some snare? Krívonos
and Bogun, a nice pair,--may the devils flay them! God defend me at
least from Bogun! Skshetuski wants to meet him; may the Lord listen to
him!--I wish him the same as I wish myself, for I am his friend,--amen!
I'll work on to Zbruch, return to Yarmolintsi, and bring them more
informants than they want themselves. That is not difficult."

Kosmach now approached. "Commander, some horsemen are visible behind
the hill."

"Let them go to the devil! Where are they,--where?"

"There, on the other side of the hill, I saw flags."


"They appear to be troops."

"May the dogs bite them! Are there many of them?"

"You can't tell, for they are far away. We might hide here behind these
rocks and fall on them unawares, for their road lies this way. If their
numbers are too great, Pan Volodyovski is not far off; he will hear the
shots and hasten to our aid."

Daring rose suddenly to Zagloba's head like wine. It may be that
despair gave him such an impulse to action; possibly hope that
Volodyovski was still near. Enough that he waved his naked sabre,
rolled his eyes terribly, and cried,--

"Hide behind the rocks! We will show those ruffians--" The trained
soldiers of the prince turned behind the rocks, and in the twinkle of
an eye placed themselves in battle-array, ready for a sudden attack.

An hour passed. At last the noise of approaching people was heard. An
echo bore the sounds of joyful songs; and a moment later the sounds of
fiddles, bagpipes, and a drum reached the ears of the men lurking in
ambush. The sergeant came to Zagloba again, and said,--

"They are not troops, Commander, nor Cossacks. It is a wedding."

"A wedding? I'll play a tune for them; let them wait a bit."

Saying this, he rode out, and after him the soldiers, and formed in
line on the road. "After me!" cried Zagloba, threateningly.

The line moved on a trot, then a gallop, and passing around the cliff,
stood suddenly in front of the crowd of people, frightened and confused
by the unexpected sight.

"Stop! stop!" was the cry from both sides.

It was really a peasant wedding. In front rode the piper, the
flute-player, the fiddler, and two drummers, already somewhat
intoxicated, and playing dance-music out of tune. Behind them was the
bride, a brisk young woman in a dark jacket, with hair flowing over her
shoulders. She was surrounded by her bridesmaids, singing songs and
carrying wreaths in their hands. All the girls were sitting on
horseback, man-fashion, adorned with wild-flowers. They looked at a
distance like a party of handsome Cossacks. In another line rode the
bridegroom on a sturdy horse, with his groomsmen, having wreaths on
long poles, like pikes. The rear of the party was brought up by the
parents of the newly married and guests, all on horseback. In light
wagons strewn with straw were drawn a number of kegs of gorailka, mead,
and beer, which belched out a pleasant odor along the rough, stony

"Halt! halt!" was shouted from both sides. The wedding-party was
confused. The young girls raised a cry of fear, and drew back to the
rear. The young men and elder groomsmen rushed forward to protect the
young women from the unexpected attack.

Zagloba sprang before them, and brandishing his sabre, which gleamed in
the eyes of the terror-stricken peasants, began to shout,--

"Ha, you bullock-drivers, dog-tails, rebels! You wanted to join the
insurrection! You are on the side of Hmelnitski, you scoundrels!
You are going to spy out something; you are blocking the road to
troops,--raising your hand against nobles! Oh, I'll give it to you, you
foul spirits of curs! I'll order you to be fettered, to be empaled, O
rascals, Pagans! Now you will pay for all your crimes."

A groomsman, old, and white as a dove, jumped from his horse,
approached the noble, and holding his stirrup humbly, began to bow to
his girdle and implore,--

"Have mercy, serene knight! Do not ruin poor people! God is our witness
that we are innocent. We are not going to a rebellion. We are going
from the church at Gusiatyn. We crowned our relative Dmitry, the
blacksmith, with Ksenia, the cooper's daughter. We have come with a
wedding and with a dance."

"These are innocent people," whispered the sergeant.

"Out of my sight! They are scoundrels; they have come from Krívonos's
to a wedding!" roared Zagloba.

"May the plague kill him!" cried the old man. "We have never looked on
him with our eyes; we are poor people. Have mercy on us, serene lord,
and let us pass; we are doing harm to no man, and we know our duty."

"You will go to Yarmolintsi in fetters!"

"We will go wherever you command. Our lord, it is for you to command,
for us to obey. But you will do us a kindness, serene knight! Order
your soldiers to do us no harm, and you yourself pardon us simple
people. We now beat to you humbly with the forehead, to drink with us
to the happiness of the newly married. Drink, your mercy, to the joy of
simple people, as God and the holy Gospels command."

"But don't suppose that I forgive you if I drink," said Zagloba,

"No, no, my lord," exclaimed with joy the old man; "we don't dream of
it. Hei, musicians!" cried he, "strike up for the serene knight,
because the serene knight is kind; and you, young men, hurry for
mead,--sweet mead for the knight; he will not harm poor people. Hurry,
boys, hurry! We thank you, our lord."

The young men ran with the speed of wind to the kegs; and immediately
the drums sounded, the fiddles squeaked sharply, the piper puffed out
his cheeks and began to press the wind-bag under his arm. The groomsmen
shook the wreaths on the poles, in view of which the soldiers began to
press forward, twirl their mustaches, laugh, and look at the bride over
the shoulders of the young fellows. The song resounded again. Terror
had passed away, and here and there too was heard the joyful "U-ha!

Zagloba did not become serene-browed in a moment. Even when a quart of
mead was brought to him, he still muttered to himself: "Oh, the
scoundrels, the ruffians!" Even when he had sunk his mustaches in the
dark surface of the mead, his brows did not unwrinkle. He raised his
head, winked his eyes, and smacking his lips, began to taste the
liquid; then astonishment, but also indignation, was seen on his face.

"What times we live in!" muttered he. "Trash are drinking such mead. O
Lord, thou seest this, and dost not hurl thy bolts!" Then he raised the
cup and emptied it to the bottom.

Meanwhile the emboldened wedding-guests came with their whole company
to beg him to do them no harm and let them pass; and among them came
the bride Ksenia, timid, trembling, with tears in her eyes, blushing
and beautiful as the dawn. When she drew near she joined her hands. "Be
merciful, our lord!" and she kissed the yellow boot of Zagloba. The
heart of the noble became soft as wax in a moment. He loosened his
leather girdle, began to fumble in it, and finding the last gold sequin
of those which Prince Yeremi had given him, he said to Ksenia,--

"Here! may God bless thee, as he does every innocence!"

Emotion did not permit further speech, for that shapely dark-browed
Ksenia reminded him of the princess whom Zagloba loved in his own
fashion. "Where is she now, poor girl, and are the angels of heaven
guarding her?" thought he, completely overpowered, ready to embrace
every one and become a brother to all.

The wedding-guests, seeing this lordly act, began to shout from joy, to
sing, and crowding up to him to kiss his clothes. "He is kind," was
repeated in the crowd. "He is a golden Pole! he gives away sequins, he
does no harm, he is a kind lord. Glory to him, luck to him!" The
fiddler quivered, he worked so hard; the hands of the drummers grew
weary. The old cooper, evidently a coward to his innermost lining, had
held himself in the rear till that moment. Now he pushed forward,
together with his wife, the cooperess, and the ancient blacksmithess,
the mother of the bridegroom; and now they began such a bowing to the
girdle and insistent invitation to the house for the wedding, because
it was a glory to have such a guest, and a happy augury for the young
couple; if not, harm would come to them. After them bowed the
bridegroom and the dark-browed Ksenia, who, though a simple girl, saw
in a twinkle that her request was more effective than any other. The
best men shouted that the farm was near, not out of the knight's road;
that the old cooper was rich, and would set out mead far better than
this. Zagloba gazed at the soldiers; all were moving their mustaches as
rabbits do their whiskers, foreseeing for themselves various delights
in the dance and the drinks. Therefore, though they did not ask to go,
Zagloba took pity on them, and after a while the groomsmen, the young
women, and the soldiers were making for the farm in most perfect

In fact the farm was near, and the old cooper rich. The wedding
therefore was noisy; all drank heavily, and Zagloba so let himself out
that he was the first in everything. Soon strange ceremonies were
begun. Old women took Ksenia to a chamber, and shutting themselves in
with her, remained a long time; then they came forth and declared that
the young woman was as a dove, as a lily. Thereupon joy reigned in the
assembly; there rose a shout, "Glory! happiness!" The women began to
clap their hands, the young fellows stamped with their feet; each one
danced by himself, with a quart cup in his hand, which he emptied to
"fame and happiness" before the door of the chamber. Zagloba danced
also, distinguishing the importance of his birth by this only, that he
drank before the door, not a quart, but half a gallon. Then the friends
of the cooper and the blacksmith's wife conducted young Dmitry to the
door; but since young Dmitry had no father, they bowed down to Zagloba
to take his place. Zagloba consented, and passed in with the others.
During this time all became quiet in the house; but the soldiers
drinking in the yard before the cottage shouted, crying "Allah!" from
joy, in Tartar fashion, and fired from pistols.

The greatest rejoicing and uproar began when the parents appeared again
in the main room. The old cooper embraced the blacksmith's wife with
delight, the young men came to the cooper's wife and raised her from
her feet, and the women glorified her because she had guarded her
daughter as the eye in her head, kept her as a dove and a lily. Then
Zagloba opened the dance with her. They began to stamp in front of each
other; and he, keeping time with his hands, dropped into the prisyadka,
sprang so high, and beat the floor with his metal-shod heels in such
fashion that bits flew from the planks, and sweat poured from his
forehead in abundance. They were followed by others,--those who had
space dancing in the room, and those who had not in the yard,--the
maidens with the young men and soldiers. From time to time the cooper
had new kegs brought out. Finally the whole wedding-feast was
transferred from the house to the yard; piles of dry thistles and
pitch-pine were set on fire, for a dark night had settled down, and the
rejoicing had changed to drinking with might and main. The soldiers
fired from their pistols and muskets as in time of battle.

Zagloba, purple, steaming in perspiration, tottering on his feet,
forgot what was happening to him, where he was; through the steam which
came from his hair he saw the faces of his entertainers, but if he were
to be empaled on a stake he couldn't tell what sort of entertainers
they were. He remembered that he was at a wedding, but whose wedding
was it? Ha! it must be the wedding of Pan Yan and the princess. This
idea seemed to him the most probable, and finally stuck in his head
like a nail, and filled him with such joy that he began to shout like a
madman: "Long life! let us love each other, brothers!" and every little
while he filled new half-gallons. "To your success, brothers! To the
health of the prince! Prosperity to us! May this paroxysm of our
country pass!" Then he covered himself with tears, and stumbled going
to the keg, and stumbled more and more; for on the ground, as on a
field of battle, lay many a motionless body. "O God," cried Zagloba,
"thou hast no longer any manhood left in this Commonwealth! There are
but two men who can drink,--one Pan Lashch, and the other Zagloba. As
for the rest, my God, my God!" And he raised his eyes in sorrow to the
sky. Then he saw that the heavenly bodies were no longer fastened
quietly in the firmament like golden nails, but some were trembling as
if they wished to spring from their settings; others were whirling in a
round dance; a third party of them were dancing the kazachka face to
face with each other. Then Zagloba fell into terribly deep thought, and
said to his musing soul,--

"Is it possible that I alone in the universe am not drunk?"
But suddenly the earth itself quivered, like the stars, in a mad whirl,
and Zagloba fell his whole length on the ground.

Soon awful dreams came to him. It seemed as if nightmares were sitting
on his breast, pressing him, squeezing him to the ground, binding him
hand and foot. At the same time tumult and as it were the sound of
shots struck his ears; a glaring light passed his closed lids, and
struck his eyes with an unendurable flash. He wished to rouse himself,
to open his eyes, and he could not. He felt that something unusual was
happening to him,--that his head was dropping back as if he were being
carried by hands and feet. Then fear seized him; he felt badly, very
badly, very heavy. Consciousness returned in part, but strangely, for
in company with such weakness as he had never felt in his life. Again
he tried to move; but when he could not, he woke up more and opened his

Then his gaze met a pair of eyes which were fastened on him eagerly;
their pupils were black as coal, and so ill-omened that Zagloba, now
thoroughly awake, thought at the first moment that the devil was
looking at him. Again he closed his eyes, and again he opened them
quickly. Those eyes looked at him continually, stubbornly. The
countenance seemed to him familiar. All at once he shivered to the
marrow of his bones, cold sweat covered him, and down his spine to his
feet passed thousands of ants. He recognized the face of Bogun!

                              CHAPTER XL.

Zagloba lay bound hand and foot to his own sabre, which was passed
across behind his knees, in that same room in which the wedding was
celebrated. The terrible chief sat at some distance on a bench, and
feasted his eyes on the terror of the prisoner.

"Good-evening!" said he, seeing the open lids of his victim.

Zagloba made no answer, but in one twinkle of an eye came to his senses
as if he had never put a drop of wine to his mouth; the ants which had
gone down to his heels returned to his head, and the marrow in his
bones grew cold as ice. They say that a drowning man in the last moment
sees clearly all his past,--that he remembers everything, and gives
himself an account of that which is happening to him. Such clearness of
vision and memory Zagloba possessed in that hour; and the last
expression of that clearness was a silent cry, unspoken by the lips,--

"He will give me a flaying now."

And the leader repeated, with a quiet voice: "Good-evening!"

"Brr!" thought Zagloba, "I would rather go to the furies."

"Don't you know me, lord noble?"

"With the forehead, with the forehead! How is your health?"

"Not bad; but as to yours, I'll occupy myself with that."

"I have not asked God for such a doctor, and I doubt if I could digest
your medicine; but the will of God be done."

"Well, you cured me; now I'll return thanks. We are old friends. You
remember how you bound my head in Rozlogi, do you not?"

Bogun's eyes began to glitter like two carbuncles, and the line of his
mustaches extended in a terrible smile.

"I remember," said Zagloba, "that I might have stabbed you, and I did

"But have I stabbed you, or do I think to stab you? No! For me you are
a darling, a dear; and I will guard you as the eye in my head."

"I have always said that you are an honorable cavalier," said Zagloba,
pretending to take Bogun's words in earnest. At the same time through
his mind flew the thought: "It is evident that he is meditating some
special delicacy for me. I shall not die in simple style."

"You speak well," continued Bogun. "You too are an honorable cavalier;
so we have sought and found each other."

"What is true is that I have not sought you; but I thank you for the
good word."

"You will thank me still more before long; and I will thank you for
this, that you took the young woman from Rozlogi to Bar. There I found
her; and I would ask you to the wedding, but it will not be to-day nor
to-morrow,--there is war at present,--and you are an old man, perhaps
you will not live to see it."

Zagloba, notwithstanding the terrible position in which he found
himself, pricked up his ears. "To the wedding!" he muttered.

"But what did you think?" asked Bogun. "That I was a peasant, to
constrain her without a priest, or not to insist on being married in
Kieff. You brought her to Bar not for a peasant, but for an ataman and
a hetman."

"Very good!" thought Zagloba. Then he turned his head to Bogun. "Give
the order to unbind me," said he.

"Oh, lie awhile, lie awhile! You will go on a journey. You are an old
man, and you need rest before the road."

"Where do you wish to take me?"

"You are my friend, so I will take you to my other friend, Krívonos.
Then we shall both think how to make it pleasant for you."

"It will be hot for me," muttered Zagloba; and again the ants were
walking over his back. At last he began to speak:--

"I know that you are enraged at me; but unjustly, God knows. We lived
together, and in Chigirin we drank more than one bottle. I had for you
the love of a father for your knightly daring; a better love you did
not find in the whole Ukraine. Isn't that true? In what way have I
crossed your path? If I had not gone with you to Rozlogi, we should
have lived to this day in kind friendship; and why did I go if not out
of friendship for you? And if you had not become enraged, if you had
not killed those unhappy people,--God is looking at me,--I should not
have crossed your path. Why should I mix in other men's affairs? I
would have preferred to see the girl yours; but through your Tartar
courtship my conscience was moved, and besides it was a noble's house.
You yourself would not have acted otherwise. I might, moreover, have
swept you out of the world with the greatest gain to myself. And why
did I not do it? Because I am a noble. Be ashamed of yourself too, for
I know you wish to take vengeance on me. As it is, you have the girl in
your hands. What do you want of me? Have not I guarded as the eye in my
head this your property? Since you have respected her it is to be seen
that you have knightly honor and conscience; but how will you extend to
her the hand which you steep in my innocent blood? How will you say to
her, 'The man who led you through the mob and the Tartars I delivered
to torment'? Have shame, and let me go from these bonds and from this
captivity into which you have seized me by treachery. You are young,
and know not what may meet you, and for my death God will punish you in
that which is dearest to you."

Bogun rose from the bench, pale with rage, and approaching Zagloba,
began to speak in a voice stifled with fury,--

"Unclean swine! I will have straps torn from you, I'll burn you on a
slow fire, I'll drive spikes into you, I'll tear you into rags."

In an access of fury he grasped at the knife hanging from his belt, and
for a moment pressed it convulsively in his hand. The edge was already
gleaming in Zagloba's eyes, when the chief restrained himself, thrust
the knife back into the scabbard, and cried: "Boys!"

Six Zaporojians came into the room.

"Take that Polish carrion, throw it into the stable, and guard it as
the eye in your head!"

The Cossacks took Zagloba,--two by his hands and feet, one behind by
the hair,--and carrying him out of the house bore him through the yard,
and threw him on a dung-heap in the stable standing at one side. Then
they closed the door. Complete darkness surrounded the prisoner, but in
the cracks between the wall-planks and through holes in the thatch the
dim light of night penetrated here and there. After a while Zagloba's
eyes grew accustomed to the darkness. He looked around, and saw there
were no pigs in the stable, nor Cossacks. The conversation of the
latter, however, reached him clearly through all the four walls.
Evidently the whole building was surrounded closely; but in spite of
these guards Zagloba drew a long breath.

First of all, he was alive. When Bogun flashed his knife above him he
was convinced that his last moment had come, and he recommended his
soul to God,--it is true with the greatest fear. But evidently Bogun
decided to save him for a death incomparably more complicated. He
desired not only to take revenge, but to glut himself with vengeance on
the man who had stolen from him the beauty, belittled his Cossack
glory, and covered him with ridicule, swaddling him like a baby. It was
therefore a gloomy prospect for Pan Zagloba; but he was comforted by
the thought that he was still living, that likely they would take him
to Krívonos and begin to torture him there, and consequently he had a
few, perhaps a number of days before him. In the mean while he lay in
the stable alone, and could in the midst of the quiet night think of

That was the one good side of the affair; but when he thought of the
bad ones the ants began to travel over his spine in thousands.

"Stratagems! If a pig lay here in this stable, he would have more
stratagems than I, for they would not tie him crosswise to a sabre. If
Solomon had been bound in this way, he would have been no wiser than
his trousers or my boot-heel. Oh, my God, my God, for what dost thou
punish me? Of all people in the world I wanted most to avoid this
scoundrel, and such is my luck that he is just the man I have not
avoided. I shall have my skin dressed like sviboda cloth. If another
had taken me, I might promise to join the rebellion and then run away.
But another would not have believed me, and this one least of all. I
feel my heart dying within me. The devils have brought me to this
place. Oh, my God! my God!"

But after a while Zagloba thought that if he had his hands and feet
free, he might more easily use some stratagem. Well, let him try! If he
could only push the sword from under his knees, the rest would go on
more easily. But how was he to push it out? He turned on his side, he
could do nothing; then he fell into deep thought.

Next he began to rock himself on his back with increasing rapidity,
each moment pushing himself half the length of his body ahead. He got
heated; his forehead was in greater perspiration than during the dance.
At times he stopped and rested; at times he interrupted the work, for
it appeared some one of the Cossacks was coming to the door; then he
began with renewed ardor. At last he pushed himself forward to the

After that he began to sway in another direction, not from head to
foot, but from side to side, so that every time he struck lightly
against the wall with the sab