Henryk Sienkiewicz

Return to https://bookspublicdomain.com.

The Project Gutenberg EBook of With Fire and Sword, by Henryk Sienkiewicz

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

Title: With Fire and Sword
       An Historical Novel of Poland and Russia.

Author: Henryk Sienkiewicz

Translator: Jeremiah Curtin

Release Date: August 10, 2011 [EBook #37027]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Charles Bowen, from page scans provided by the Web Archive

Transcriber's Notes:
1. Page scan source:

Popular Edition.








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.


"QUO VADIS." 1 vol.

Novels of Modern Poland.

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

Copyright, 1898, by Little, Brown, and Company.
Henryk Sienkiewicz and his Children.



An Historical Novel








Copyright, 1890, 1898,
By Jeremiah Curtin.

All rights reserved.

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






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


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 apparition".
Drawn by Evert Van Muyden.

Map of the Polish Commonwealth-1 Map of the Polish Commonwealth-2
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 development.

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 churches.

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 Donaleitis.

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 rapidity.

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 Russia.

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 Bogdan.

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.



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 itself.

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 him."

"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 steppe?"

"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 you."

"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 silence.

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 ferocity.

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 delay.

"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 man."

"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 foes."

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 companions.

"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 Wilderness."

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.


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 phœnix 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 himself?"

"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 Hmelnitski?"

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 Hmelnitski?"

"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 him.

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 said."

"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 Cossacks!"

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 company."

"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 Skshetuski.

"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 Galáts."

"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 ćdibus 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 knife."

"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, please!"

"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 Vishnyevetski?"

"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 Lithuanian.

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 prince."

"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 powder."

"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 time,--

"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 us!"

"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.


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 summer.

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 reception.

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 Wallachians."

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

"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 death!"

"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 cowl.'"

"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 bill.

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 neighborhood."

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

The Falcon Began to Draw the Hands Together

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 lieutenant.

"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 Helena.

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 to-day?"

"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 Bogun."

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

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

"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, gentlemen!"

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 Skshetuski.

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 tears.

"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 Yan,--

"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 sons?"

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 fire.

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.


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 Prince-Cossacks.

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 room.

"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 right.

"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 none."

"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 disturbed."

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 princess,--

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

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

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 Helena.

"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 continued,--

"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 rose.

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 might.

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 asked,--

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

"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 everything."

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 Podbipienta.

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 service?"

"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 another."

"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 that."

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 guardianship."

"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 Bogun."

"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 song,--

"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!"


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 manœuvres. 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 Skshetuski,--

"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 phœnix on its nest with your cap."

"I know she is a phœnix, 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 exclaimed,--

"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 hop-pole!"

"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 brothers."

"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 yearning.

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 temptation.

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 side."

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 you."

"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.


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 Khan.

"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 enter.

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 lieutenant.

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 journey."

"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 glance.

"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 hearing."

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.


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 gate.

"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 attack.

"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 health."

"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 forever.

"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 I!"

"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 there."

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 lieutenant.

"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.


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?"

"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 irć 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 mead!"

"Take another drink of it."

"I will, I will. They don't sell such mead as that behind tavern-signs."

"You did not ask, perhaps, the name of the lady whom Bogun wants to marry?"

"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 aid!"

Further conversation was interrupted by the entrance of Zatsvilikhovski.

"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 top."

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 is!"

"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 sing.

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.


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 current.

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 pilot.

"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 boars.

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 camp.

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 arrived.

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 lieutenant.

"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 continually.

"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 Skshetuski.

"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 Sur.

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 otherwise."

"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 immediately."

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.


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 consultation.

"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 ataman?"

"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 shore.

"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, "Fire!"

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 wounded.

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. "Surrender!"

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.


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 also?"

"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 over."

"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 justly."

"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 you."

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 Hmelnitski.

"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 himself.


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 captive?"

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 sleep?"

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 free."

"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 power,--

"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 aid!"

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 God?"

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.


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 them.

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 night."

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 you?"

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.


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 senators.

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 said,--

"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 night."

"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 affair."

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 assault.

"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 Solonitsa?"

"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 otherwise."

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 Cossacks.

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 joy.

"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 pieces."

"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 distance,--

"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.


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 completely.

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 camp."

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 paradise."

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 battle.

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 Commonwealth?

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 armies.

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 Commonwealth.

"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 antechamber.

"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 us."

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 obedience,--

"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 revenge.

"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 victory.

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 Cossack.


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 Hmelnitski.

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?

Vladislav IV., King of Poland

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 victories."

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 man.

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 lyre."

"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 himself."

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 cœlis! 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 cœlo, et in terra!'" Then the knight threw himself sobbing on the ground.

He Raised His Eyes and Began to Pray Aloud.
Copyright, 1898, by Little, Brown, and Company.

From a drawing by J. Wagrez.


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 Chigirin."

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 arrived.

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 Lubni?"


"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 Skshetuski?"

"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, gentlemen."

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 said,----

"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 Rozlogi."

"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 read!"

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 out,--

"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 wit."

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 comes!"

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 latter.

"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 return.

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 conversation.

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, Bogun!"

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 Hmelnitski?"

"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 forest.

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!"


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 Nikolai.

"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 you?"

"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?"

"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 voice,--

"My friend Zagloba, ask for the maiden too; maybe they will give her to you."

"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 prince.

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 terror.

Suddenly a wild piercing shriek from the princess was heard: "Vassily! 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 Zagloba.

"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 understood.

"Help yourselves!" cried Zagloba, "help yourselves!" pointing to the barrels.

"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 flight."

"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 prophet."

"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.


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 warrior."

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 Kurtsevichi."

"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 ground.

"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 God!"

"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 come?"

"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 rebellion."

"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 courage!"

"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 astray."

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 bread.

"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 manifest."

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.


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 caps.

"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 Helena.

"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 guardian."

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 morning.

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 battle."

"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 death.

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 voice,--

"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 you."

"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 Bogun's."

"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 how."

"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 her.

"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 shoulders."

"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 Ukraine."

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 man!"

"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 princes."

"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 Hmelnitski."

"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 earth."

"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 minstrel.

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 monotone,--

"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.


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 Kurtsevichi.

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 Próhorovka.

"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 cataract."

"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 undertakings.

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 Lubni."

"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 rebellion!"

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 enormous.

"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 off!"

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 Domontov.

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 them!"

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.


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 Saitch.

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 infallible."

The commander of the camp, Alexander Zamoiski, struck his sabre and said,--

"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 Próhorovka."

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 inquired,--

"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.


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 lieutenant.

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 battle."

"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 long.

"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 prćsidium 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.


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 moving.

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, said,--

"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 favorable."

"He wanted to roast us alive without giving battle. Bring the people here!"

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 Irć;" 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 Crown.


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 bronze.

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 mother."

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 high."

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 Podbipienta."

"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 yours."

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 Pripet.

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 Crimea."

"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 to-day."

"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 heads."

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.

Bogdan Hmelnitski



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 bloodshed.

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 directly."

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 Pereyaslŕv; 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 world."

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 on:--

"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 Vishnyevetski."

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 malice.

"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 Pulyan.

"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.


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 eating.

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 concert."

"I see that; I see they are sulphurous fellows. But my men are road-weary."

"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 said,--

"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 manœuvres, 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 armor.

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 cutting.

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 life.

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 perish."

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 rebellion.

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 undertaking."

"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 things!"

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 themselves."

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.


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 such."

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 distinguish."

"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 words:

"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 God!
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 peasants.

"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 throat."

"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 beautifully."

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 yourself."

"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.


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 emphatically,--

"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 moment.

"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 assistance."

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 said,--

"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 now?"

"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 knights.

"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? Unknown?"

"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.


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 service."

"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 to-morrow."

"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, smiling.

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 cœlo prćcipitat 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 villages."

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 mine."

"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 line.

"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 cœlis'--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 that?"

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 them?"


"Well, look at them! You will have something to enjoy."


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 them.

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 shore.

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 cried,--

"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 blow.

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 go--"

"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 Makhnitski,--

"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 place."

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 undertaking.

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 summer.

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 modesty."

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 voice.

"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 Krívonos."

"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 leading."

"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 minute."

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 night!"

"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.


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 slaughters.

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 neighborhood.

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 night.

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 already."

"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 everything."

"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 parents."

"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 now.


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 Sukhojintsi.

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 lances.

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 himself.

"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 passed.

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 hetmans!"

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 savagely.

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 other."

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 morning."

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 glasses.

"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, asked,--

"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 life.

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 disappear.

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 authority.

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 voice,--

"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 militia."

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 come.

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, laughing.

"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 voice.

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!"


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 inquired.

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 yourself."

"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 cradle.

"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 Cossacks.

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 Pole."

"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 conviction.

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! Cheremís!"

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.


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 oŁ 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 fingers.

"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 inquire.

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 heart!"

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 friend."

"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 Cossack.

"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 swoon.

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 him."

"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.


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 how?"

"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 fury.

"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 soothsaying.

"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 mine."

"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 Hmelnitski."

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 peasant."

"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 that."

"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 know--"

"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.


"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 disgraced."

"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 Volodyovski.

"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 then?"

"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 men."

"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 you."

"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 permissio