“We have trouble in common, and we will share it all equally. All that is mine is yours,” she said, looking up at the faces before her. All the eyes were gazing at her with the same expression, the meaning of which she could not fathom. Whether it were curiosity, devotion, gratitude, or apprehension, and distrust, the expression on all the faces was alike.

“Very thankful for your kindness, only it’s not for us to take the master’s corn,” said a voice from the back.

“But why not?” said the princess. No one answered, and Princess Marya, looking up at the crowd, noticed that now all the eyes dropped at once on meeting hers.

“Why don’t you want to?” she asked again.

No one replied.

Princess Marya was oppressed by the silence; she tried to catch somebody’s eye.

“Why don’t you speak!” she said, addressing a very old man who was standing near her, his arms propped on his stick. “Tell me if you think something more is needed. I will do anything,” she said, catching his eye. But as though angered by her doing so, he bent his head, and said:

“Why should we agree? We don’t want your corn.”

“Why are we to give up everything? We’re not willing … Not willing. It’s not with our consent. We are sorry for you, but we are not willing. You go away by yourself, alone …” was protested from different parts of the crowd. And again all the faces in the crowd wore the same expression; and now it was unmistakably not an expression of curiosity and gratitude, but an expression of exasperated determination.

“But you misunderstand me,” said Princess Marya, with a melancholy smile. “Why don’t you want to move away? I promise to settle you, to provide for you. And here the enemy will plunder you …” But her voice was drowned by the voices of the crowd.

“We’re not willing, let him plunder us! We won’t take your corn, we won’t agree!”

Princess Marya tried again to catch some one’s eye in the crowd, but no one was looking at her; their eyes unmistakably avoided hers. She felt strange and awkward.

“To be sure, she would school us, … a good dodge, … follow her into slavery. Pull down your house and go into bondage. I dare say! I’ll give you corn, says she!” voices were saying in the crowd.

Princess Marya moved out of the ring, and went to the house with a dejected countenance. Repeating her command to Dron that horses were to be ready next day for her to start, she went away to her own room and remained alone with her own thoughts.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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