Marie by Alexander Pushkin
When I came to myself, I neither knew what had happened nor where I was. I
felt very weak; the room was strange, there was Saveliitch standing before me, a
light in his hand, and some one arranging the bandages that bound my chest and
shoulder. Gradually I recalled my duel, and easily divined that I had been
wounded. The door at this instant moaned gently on its hinges.
"Well, how is he?" whispered a voice that made me start.
"Still in the same state," sighed Saveliitch, "now unconscious four days." I
wanted to turn on my bed, but I had not the strength. "Where am I?" said I, with
effort, "who is here?" Marie approached, and bending over me said, gently, "How
do you feel?"
"Thank God, I am well. Is that Marie? tell me—?" I could not finish.
Saveliitch uttered a cry of joy, his delight showing plainly in his face. "He
recovers! he recovers! Thanks to thee, O God! Peter, how you frightened me!—four
days! It is easy to talk—!"
Marie interrupted him: "Do not, Saveliitch, speak too much to him; he is
still very weak." She went out, shutting the door noiselessly. I must be in the
Commandant's house, or Marie could not come to see me. I wished to question
Saveliitch, but the old man shook his head and put his fingers in his ears. I
closed my eyes from ill-humor—and fell asleep.
Upon awaking, I called Saveliitch; instead of him, I saw before me Marie,
whose gentle voice greeted me. I seized her hand and bathed it with my tears.
Marie did not withdraw it, and suddenly I felt upon my cheek the impression,
humid and delicious, of her lips! A thrill shot through my whole being.
"Dear, good Marie, be my wife, and make me the happiest of men!"
"In the name of heaven be calm," she said, withdrawing her hand, "your wound
may reopen; for my sake be careful."
She left the room. I was in a daze. I felt life returning. "She will be
mine!" I kept repeating, "she loves me!" I grew better, hour by hour. The barber
of the regiment dressed my wounds, for there was no other physician in the
fortress, and thank God, he did not merely play the doctor. Youth and nature
completed the cure.
The Commandant's whole family surrounded me with care. Marie scarcely ever
left me. I need not say that I took the first favorable moment to continue my
interrupted declaration. This time Marie listened with more patience. She
frankly acknowledged her affection for me. And added that her parents would be
happy in her happiness; "but," she continued, "think well of it? Will there be
no objection on the part of your family?"
I did not doubt my mother's tenderness, but knowing my father's character, I
foresaw that my love would not be received by him favorably, and that in all
probability he would treat it as one of my youthful follies. This I avowed
plainly to Marie, but nevertheless I resolved to write to my father as
eloquently as possible, and ask his blessing on our marriage. I showed the
letter to Marie, who thought it so touching and convincing that she did not
doubt of success, and abandoned herself, with all the confidence of youth and
love, to the feelings of her heart.
I made peace with Alexis in the first days of my convalescence. Ivan Mironoff
said, reproaching me for the duel: "You see, Peter, I ought to put you under
arrest, but indeed you have been well punished without that. Alexis is, by my
orders, under guard in the barn, and his sword is under lock and key in
I was too happy to harbor spite, so I entreated for Alexis, and the kind
Commandant, with his wife's permission, consented to set him at liberty. Alexis
came at once to see me. He expressed regret for all that had happened,
confessing that the fault was all his, and begged me to forget the past. Being
naturally incapable of revenge, I pardoned him, forgiving both our quarrel and
my wound. In his calumny I now saw the irritation of wounded vanity and despised
love. I generously forgave my unfortunate rival. As soon as completely cured I
returned to my lodging. I awaited impatiently the reply to my letter, not daring
to hope, yet trying to stifle all sad presentiments. I had not yet had an
explanation with Basilia and her husband, but my suit could not surprise them.
Neither Marie nor I had concealed our feelings, and we were sure in advance of
At last, one pleasant day Saveliitch came to my room, letter in hand. The
address was written in my father's hand. This sight prepared me for something
grave, for usually my mother wrote me, and he only added a few lines at the end.
Long I hesitated to break the seal. I read again and again the solemn
"To my Son,
Fortress of Belogorsk."
I tried to discover by my father's writing his mood of mind when he wrote
that letter. At last I broke that seal. I saw from the first lines that our
hopes were crushed! Here is the letter:
"MY SON PETER: We received the 15th of this month the letter in
which you ask our paternal benediction and consent to your marriage with
Mironoff's daughter. Not only have I no intention of giving either my consent or
benediction, but I have a great mind to go to you and punish you for your
childish follies, notwithstanding your officer's rank, because you have proved
that you are not worthy to bear the sword which was given you for the defense of
your country, and not for the purpose of fighting a duel with a fool of your own
stamp. I shall write instantly to Andrew Karlovitch to transfer you from the
fortress of Belogorsk to some still more distant place. Upon hearing of your
wound your mother was taken ill, and is still confined to her bed. What will
become of you? I pray God to reform you, but can scarcely hope for so much from
his goodness. Your father, A.G."
The harsh expressions which my father had not spared, wounded me sorely; the
contempt with which he treated Marie seemed to me as unjust as it was
undignified. Then the mere idea of being sent from this fortress alarmed me; but
above all, I grieved for my mother's illness. Saveliitch came in for a share of
my indignation, not doubting but that he informed my parents of the duel. After
having paced up and down my little chamber, I stopped suddenly before the old
man and said: "It seems that it is not enough that you caused my wound, and
brought me almost to the brink of the grave, but that you want to kill my mother
Saveliitch was as motionless as if lightning had struck him. "Have mercy on
me! my lord," said he, "what do you deign to tell me? I caused your wound? God
sees that I was running to put my breast before you, to receive the sword of
Alexis. This cursed age of mine hindered me. But what have I done to your
"What have you done? Who charged you to write an accusation against me? Were
you taken into my service to play the spy on me?"
"I write an accusation?" replied the old man, quite broken down, "O God! King
of heaven! Here, read what the master writes me, and you shall see if I
denounced thee." At the same time he drew from his pocket a letter which he gave
me, and I read what follows:
"Shame upon you, you old dog, that notwithstanding my strict orders you wrote
me nothing regarding my son, leaving to strangers the duty of telling me of his
follies. Is it thus you do your duty and fulfill your master's will? I shall
send you to keep the pigs, for having concealed the truth, and for your
condescension to the young man. Upon receipt of this letter inform me
immediately of the state of his health, which is, I hear, improving, and tell me
precisely the place of his wound, and whether he has well attended."
Evidently Saveliitch was not in the wrong, and I had offended him by my
suspicions and reproaches. I asked him to forgive me, but the old man was
inconsolable. "See to what I have lived!" he repeated; "see what thanks I have
merited from my masters for all my long services! I am an old dog! I am a
swine-herd, and more than all that, I caused your wound. No, no, Peter, I am not
in fault, it is the cursed Frenchman who taught thee to play with these steel
blades, and to stamp and dance, as if by thrusting and dancing you could defend
yourself from a bad man."
Now, then, who had taken the pains to accuse me to my father? The General,
Andrew Karlovitch? He did not trouble himself much about me; moreover, Ivan
Mironoff had not thought it worth while to report my duel to him. My suspicions
fell on Alexis. He only would find some advantage in this information, the
consequence of which might be my dismissal from the fortress and separation from
the Commandant's family. I went to tell every thing to Marie. She met me on the
"What has happened to you? how pale you are!"
"All's over," I replied, handing her my father's letter.
It was her turn to blanch. Having read the letter she returned it, and said
in a trembling voice: "It was not my destiny. Your parents do not wish me in
their family; may the will of God be done! He knows better than we what is best
for us. There is nothing to be done in the matter, Peter; you, at least, may be
"It shall not be so," I exclaimed, taking her hand. "You love me, I am ready
for any fate. Let us go and throw ourselves at your parents' feet. They are
simple people; they are neither haughty nor cruel; they will give us their
benediction; we will marry; and in time, I am sure, we will soften my father. My
mother will intercede for us, and he will pardon me."
"No, Peter, I will not marry you without the benediction of your parents. You
would not be happy without their blessing. Let us submit to the will of God. If
you meet another bride, if you love her, may God be with you! I, Peter, I will
pray for both of you." Tears interrupted her, and she went away; I wished to
follow her into the house, but I was not master of myself, and I went to my own
quarters. I was plunged in melancholy, when Saveliitch came to interrupt my
"There, my lord," said he, presenting me a sheet of paper all covered with
writing, "see if I am a spy on my master, and if I try to embroil father and
I took the paper from his hand; it was his reply to my father's letter.
I could not help smiling at the old man's letter. I was in no condition to
write to my father, and to calm my mother his letter seemed sufficient.
From that day, Marie scarcely spoke to me, and even tried to avoid me. The
Commandant's house became insupportable, and I accustomed myself, little by
little, to remain alone in my room. At first Basilia reasoned with me, but
seeing my persistency she let me alone. I saw Ivan Mironoff only when the
service required it. I had but rare interviews with Alexis, for whom my
antipathy increased, because I thought I discovered in him a secret enmity which
confirmed my suspicions. Life became a burden; I gave myself up to a melancholy
which was fed by solitude and inaction. Love burned on in silence and tortured
me, more and more. I lost all taste for reading and literature; I let myself
become completely depressed; and I feared that I should either become a lunatic
or rush into dissipation, when events occurred that had great influence on my
life and give a strong and healthy tone to my mind.