Michael Strogoff HTML version

14. The Night Of The Fifth Of October
IVAN OGAREFF'S plan had been contrived with the greatest care, and except for
some unforeseen accident he believed that it must succeed. It was of importance
that the Bolchaia Gate should be unguarded or only feebly held when he gave it
up. The attention of the besieged was therefore to be drawn to another part of
the town. A diversion was agreed upon with the Emir.
This diversion was to be effected both up and down the river, on the Irkutsk bank.
The attack on these two points was to be conducted in earnest, and at the same
time a feigned attempt at crossing the Angara from the left bank was to be made.
The Bolchaia Gate, would be probably deserted, so much the more because on
this side the Tartar outposts having drawn back, would appear to have broken
It was the 5th of October. In four and twenty hours, the capital of Eastern Siberia
would be in the hands of the Emir, and the Grand Duke in the power of Ivan
During the day, an unusual stir was going on in the Angara camp. From the
windows of the palace important preparations on the opposite shore could be
distinctly seen. Numerous Tartar detachments were converging towards the
camp, and from hour to hour reinforced the Emir's troops. These movements,
intended to deceive the besieged, were conducted in the most open manner
possible before their eyes.
Ogareff had warned the Grand Duke that an attack was to be feared. He knew,
he said, that an assault was to be made, both above and below the town, and he
counselled the Duke to reinforce the two directly threatened points. Accordingly,
after a council of war had been held in the palace, orders were issued to
concentrate the defense on the bank of the Angara and at the two ends of the
town, where the earthworks protected the river.
This was exactly what Ogareff wished. He did not expect that the Bolchaia Gate
would be left entirely without defenders, but that there would only be a small
number. Besides, Ogareff meant to give such importance to the diversion, that
the Grand Duke would be obliged to oppose it with all his available forces. The
traitor planned also to produce so frightful a catastrophe that terror must
inevitably overwhelm the hearts of the besieged.
All day the garrison and population of Irkutsk were on the alert. The measures to
repel an attack on the points hitherto unassailed had been taken. The Grand
Duke and General Voranzoff visited the posts, strengthened by their orders.
Wassili Fedor's corps occupied the North of the town, but with orders to throw
themselves where the danger was greatest. The right bank of the Angara had
been protected with the few guns possessed by the defenders. With these
measures, taken in time, thanks to the advice so opportunely given by Ivan
Ogareff, there was good reason to hope that the expected attack would be
repulsed. In that case the Tartars, momentarily discouraged, would no doubt not
make another attempt against the town for several days. Now the troops