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（Decode-Reading Method）训练范文 ——
Language to be decoded:
Auxiliary Language :
Лев Н. Толстой
英汉对照（English & Chinese）
俄汉对照（Russian & Chinese）
俄英对照（Russian & English）
Though hundreds of thousands had done their very best to disfigure the small piece of land on which they were crowded together, by paving the ground with stones, scraping away every vestige of vegetation, cutting down the trees, turning away birds and beasts, and filling the air with the smoke of naphtha and coal, still spring was spring, even in the town.
The sun shone warm, the air was balmy; everywhere, where it did not get scraped away, the grass revived and sprang up between the paving-stones as well as on the narrow strips of lawn on the boulevards. The birches, the poplars, and the wild cherry unfolded their gummy and fragrant leaves, the limes were expanding their opening buds; crows, sparrows, and pigeons, filled with the joy of spring, were getting their nests ready; the flies were buzzing along the walls, warmed by the sunshine. All were glad, the plants, the birds, the insects, and the children. But men, grown-up men and women, did not leave off cheating and tormenting themselves and each other. It was not this spring morning men thought sacred and worthy of consideration not the beauty of God's world, given for a joy to all creatures, this beauty which inclines the heart to peace, to harmony, and to love, but only their own devices for enslaving one another.
Thus, in the prison office of the Government town, it was not the fact that men and animals had received the grace and gladness of spring that was considered sacred and important, but that a notice, numbered and with a superscription, had come the day before, ordering that on this 28th day of April, at 9 a.m., three prisoners at present detained in the prison, a man and two women (one of these women, as the chief criminal, to be conducted separately), had to appear at Court. So now, on the 28th of April, at 8 o'clock, a jailer and soon after him a woman warder with curly grey hair, dressed in a jacket with sleeves trimmed with gold, with a blue-edged belt round her waist, and having a look of suffering on her face, came into the corridor.
"You want Maslova?" she asked, coming up to the cell with the jailer who was on duty.
The jailer, rattling the iron padlock, opened the door of the cell, from which there came a whiff of air fouler even than that in the corridor, and called out, "Maslova! to the Court," and closed the door again.
Even into the prison yard the breeze had brought the fresh vivifying air from the fields. But in the corridor the air was laden with the germs of typhoid, the smell of sewage, putrefaction, and tar; every newcomer felt sad and dejected in it. The woman warder felt this, though she was used to bad air. She had just come in from outside, and entering the corridor, she at once became sleepy.
From inside the cell came the sound of bustle and women's voices, and the patter of bare feet on the floor.
"Now, then, hurry up, Maslova, I say!" called out the jailer, and in a minute or two a small young woman with a very full bust came briskly out of the door and went up to the jailer. She had on a grey cloak over a white jacket and petticoat. On her feet she wore linen stockings and prison shoes, and round her head was tied a white kerchief, from under which a few locks of black hair were brushed over the forehead with evident intent. The face of the woman was of that whiteness peculiar to people who have lived long in confinement, and which puts one in mind of shoots of potatoes that spring up in a cellar. Her small broad hands and full neck, which showed from under the broad collar of her cloak, were of the same hue. Her black, sparkling eyes, one with a slight squint, appeared in striking contrast to the dull pallor of her face.
She carried herself very straight, expanding her full bosom.
With her head slightly thrown back, she stood in the corridor, looking straight into the eyes of the jailer, ready to comply with any order.
The jailer was about to lock the door when a wrinkled and severe-looking old woman put out her grey head and began speaking to Maslova. But the jailer closed the door, pushing the old woman's head with it. A woman's laughter was heard from the cell, and Maslova smiled, turning to the little grated opening in the cell door. The old woman pressed her face to the grating from the other side, and said, in a hoarse voice:
"Now mind, and when they begin questioning you, just repeat over the same thing, and stick to it; tell nothing that is not wanted."
"Well, it could not be worse than it is now, anyhow; I only wish it was settled one way or another."
"Of course, it will be settled one way or another," said the jailer, with a superior's self-assured witticism. "Now, then, get along! Take your places!"
The old woman's eyes vanished from the grating, and Maslova stepped out into the middle of the corridor. The warder in front, they descended the stone stairs, past the still fouler, noisy cells of the men's ward, where they were followed by eyes looking out of every one of the gratings in the doors, and entered the office, where two soldiers were waiting to escort her. A clerk who was sitting there gave one of the soldiers a paper reeking of tobacco, and pointing to the prisoner, remarked, "Take her."
The soldier, a peasant from Nijni Novgorod, with a red, pock-marked face, put the paper into the sleeve of his coat, winked to his companion, a broad-shouldered Tchouvash, and then the prisoner and the soldiers went to the front entrance, out of the prison yard, and through the town up the middle of the roughly-paved street.
Isvostchiks [cabmen], tradespeople, cooks, workmen, and government clerks, stopped and looked curiously at the prisoner; some shook their heads and thought, "This is what evil conduct, conduct unlike ours, leads to." The children stopped and gazed at the robber with frightened looks; but the thought that the soldiers were preventing her from doing more harm quieted their fears. A peasant, who had sold his charcoal, and had had some tea in the town, came up, and, after crossing himself, gave her a copeck. The prisoner blushed and muttered something; she noticed that she was attracting everybody's attention, and that pleased her. The comparatively fresh air also gladdened her, but it was painful to step on the rough stones with the ill-made prison shoes on her feet, which had become unused to walking. Passing by a corn-dealer's shop, in front of which a few pigeons were strutting about, unmolested by any one, the prisoner almost touched a grey-blue bird with her foot; it fluttered up and flew close to her ear, fanning her with its wings. She smiled, then sighed deeply as she remembered her present position.
The story of the prisoner Maslova's life was a very common one.
Maslova's mother was the unmarried daughter of a village woman, employed on a dairy farm, which belonged to two maiden ladies who were landowners. This unmarried woman had a baby every year, and, as often happens among the village people, each one of these undesired babies, after it had been carefully baptised, was neglected by its mother, whom it hindered at her work, and left to starve. Five children had died in this way. They had all been baptised and then not sufficiently fed, and just left to die. The sixth baby, whose father was a gipsy tramp, would have shared the same fate, had it not so happened that one of the maiden ladies came into the farmyard to scold the dairymaids for sending up cream that smelt of the cow. The young woman was lying in the cowshed with a fine, healthy, new-born baby. The old maiden lady scolded the maids again for allowing the woman (who had just been confined) to lie in the cowshed, and was about to go away, but seeing the baby her heart was touched, and she offered to stand godmother to the little girl, and pity for her little god-daughter induced her to give milk and a little money to the mother, so that she should feed the baby; and the little girl lived. The old ladies spoke of her as "the saved one." When the child was three years old, her mother fell ill and died, and the maiden ladies took the child from her old grandmother, to whom she was nothing but a burden.
The little black-eyed maiden grew to be extremely pretty, and so full of spirits that the ladies found her very entertaining.
The younger of the ladies, Sophia Ivanovna, who had stood godmother to the girl, had the kinder heart of the two sisters; Maria Ivanovna, the elder, was rather hard. Sophia Ivanovna dressed the little girl in nice clothes, and taught her to read and write, meaning to educate her like a lady. Maria Ivanovna thought the child should be brought up to work, and trained her to be a good servant. She was exacting; she punished, and, when in a bad temper, even struck the little girl. Growing up under these two different influences, the girl turned out half servant, half young lady. They called her Katusha, which sounds less refined than Katinka, but is not quite so common as Katka. She used to sew, tidy up the rooms, polish the metal cases of the icons and do other light work, and sometimes she sat and read to the ladies.
Though she had more than one offer, she would not marry. She felt that life as the wife of any of the working men who were courting her would be too hard; spoilt as she was by a life of case.
She lived in this manner till she was sixteen, when the nephew of the old ladies, a rich young prince, and a university student, came to stay with his aunts, and Katusha, not daring to acknowledge it even to herself, fell in love with him.
Then two years later this same nephew stayed four days with his aunts before proceeding to join his regiment, and the night before he left he betrayed Katusha, and, after giving her a 100-rouble note, went away. Five months later she knew for certain that she was to be a mother. After that everything seemed repugnant to her, her only thought being how to escape from the shame that awaited her. She began not only to serve the ladies in a half-hearted and negligent way, but once, without knowing how it happened, was very rude to them, and gave them notice, a thing she repented of later, and the ladies let her go, noticing something wrong and very dissatisfied with her. Then she got a housemaid's place in a police-officer's house, but stayed there only three months, for the police officer, a man of fifty, began to torment her, and once, when he was in a specially enterprising mood, she fired up, called him "a fool and old devil," and gave him such a knock in the chest that he fell. She was turned out for her rudeness. It was useless to look for another situation, for the time of her confinement was drawing near, so she went to the house of a village midwife, who also sold wine. The confinement was easy; but the midwife, who had a case of fever in the village, infected Katusha, and her baby boy had to be sent to the foundlings' hospital, where, according to the words of the old woman who took him there, he at once died. When Katusha went to the midwife she had 127 roubles in all, 27 which she had earned and 100 given her by her betrayer. When she left she had but six roubles; she did not know how to keep money, but spent it on herself, and gave to all who asked. The midwife took 40 roubles for two months' board and attendance, 25 went to get the baby into the foundlings' hospital, and 40 the midwife borrowed to buy a cow with. Twenty roubles went just for clothes and dainties. Having nothing left to live on, Katusha had to look out for a place again, and found one in the house of a forester. The forester was a married man, but he, too, began to annoy her from the first day. He disgusted her, and she tried to avoid him. But he, more experienced and cunning, besides being her master, who could send her wherever he liked, managed to accomplish his object. His wife found it out, and, catching Katusha and her husband in a room all by themselves, began beating her. Katusha defended herself, and they had a fight, and Katusha got turned out of the house without being paid her wages.
Then Katusha went to live with her aunt in town. The aunt's husband, a bookbinder, had once been comfortably off, but had lost all his customers, and had taken to drink, and spent all he could lay hands on at the public-house. The aunt kept a little laundry, and managed to support herself, her children, and her wretched husband. She offered Katusha the place of an assistant laundress; but seeing what a life of misery and hardship her aunt's assistants led, Katusha hesitated, and applied to a registry office for a place. One was found for her with a lady who lived with her two sons, pupils at a public day school. A week after Katusha had entered the house the elder, a big fellow with moustaches, threw up his studies and made love to her, continually following her about. His mother laid all the blame on Katusha, and gave her notice.
It so happened that, after many fruitless attempts to find a situation, Katusha again went to the registry office, and there met a woman with bracelets on her bare, plump arms and rings on most of her fingers. Hearing that Katusha was badly in want of a place, the woman gave her her address, and invited her to come to her house. Katusha went. The woman received her very kindly, set cake and sweet wine before her, then wrote a note and gave it to a servant to take to somebody. In the evening a tall man, with long, grey hair and a white beard, entered the room, and sat down at once near Katusha, smiling and gazing at her with glistening eyes. He began joking with her. The hostess called him away into the next room, and Katusha heard her say, "A fresh one from the country," Then the hostess called Katusha aside and told her that the man was an author, and that he had a great deal of money, and that if he liked her he would not grudge her anything. He did like her, and gave her 25 roubles, promising to see her often. The 25 roubles soon went; some she paid to her aunt for board and lodging; the rest was spent on a hat, ribbons, and such like. A few days later the author sent for her, and she went. He gave her another 25 roubles, and offered her a separate lodging.
Next door to the lodging rented for her by the author there lived a jolly young shopman, with whom Katusha soon fell in love. She told the author, and moved to a little lodging of her own. The shopman, who promised to marry her, went to Nijni on business without mentioning it to her, having evidently thrown her up, and Katusha remained alone. She meant to continue living in the lodging by herself, but was informed by the police that in this case she would have to get a license. She returned to her aunt. Seeing her fine dress, her hat, and mantle, her aunt no longer offered her laundry work. As she understood things, her niece had risen above that sort of thing. The question as to whether she was to become a laundress or not did not occur to Katusha, either. She looked with pity at the thin, hard-worked laundresses, some already in consumption, who stood washing or ironing with their thin arms in the fearfully hot front room, which was always full of soapy steam and draughts from the windows, and thought with horror that she might have shared the same fate.
Katusha had begun to smoke some time before, and since the young shopman had thrown her up she was getting more and more into the habit of drinking. It was not so much the flavour of wine that tempted her as the fact that it gave her a chance of forgetting the misery she suffered, making her feel more unrestrained and more confident of her own worth, which she was not when quite sober; without wine she felt sad and ashamed. Just at this time a woman came along who offered to place her in one of the largest establishments in the city, explaining all the advantages and benefits of the situation. Katusha had the choice before her of either going into service or accepting this offer--and she chose the latter. Besides, it seemed to her as though, in this way, she could revenge herself on her betrayer and the shopman and all those who had injured her. One of the things that tempted her, and was the cause of her decision, was the woman telling her she might order her own dresses--velvet, silk, satin, low-necked ball dresses, anything she liked. A mental picture of herself in a bright yellow silk trimmed with black velvet with low neck and short sleeves conquered her, and she gave up her passport. On the same evening the procuress took an isvostchik and drove her to the notorious house kept by Carolina Albertovna Kitaeva.
From that day a life of chronic sin against human and divine laws commenced for Katusha Maslova, a life which is led by hundreds of thousands of women, and which is not merely tolerated but sanctioned by the Government, anxious for the welfare of its subjects; a life which for nine women out of ten ends in painful disease, premature decrepitude, and death.
Katusha Maslova lived this life for seven years. During these years she twice changed houses, and had once been to the hospital. In the seventh year of this life, when she was twenty-six years old, happened that for which she was put in prison and for which she was now being taken to be tried, after more than three months of confinement with thieves and murderers in the stifling air of a prison.
When Maslova, wearied out by the long walk, reached the building, accompanied by two soldiers, Prince Dmitri Ivanovitch Nekhludoff, who had seduced her, was still lying on his high bedstead, with a feather bed on the top of the spring mattress, in a fine, clean, well-ironed linen night shirt, smoking a cigarette, and considering what he had to do to-day, and what had happened yesterday.
Recalling the evening he had spent with the Korchagins, a wealthy and aristocratic family, whose daughter every one expected he would marry, he sighed, and, throwing away the end of his cigarette, was going to take another out of the silver case; but, changing his mind, he resolutely raised his solid frame, and, putting down his smooth, white legs, stepped into his slippers, threw his silk dressing gown over his broad shoulders, and passed into his dressing-room, walking heavily and quickly. There he carefully cleaned his teeth, many of which were filled, with tooth powder, and rinsed his mouth with scented elixir. After that he washed his hands with perfumed soap, cleaned his long nails with particular care, then, from a tap fixed to his marble washstand, he let a spray of cold water run over his face and stout neck. Having finished this part of the business, he went into a third room, where a shower bath stood ready for him. Having refreshed his full, white, muscular body, and dried it with a rough bath sheet, he put on his fine undergarments and his boots, and sat down before the glass to brush his black beard and his curly hair, that had begun to get thin above the forehead. Everything he used, everything belonging to his toilet, his linen, his clothes, boots, necktie, pin, studs, was of the best quality, very quiet, simple, durable and costly.
Nekhludoff dressed leisurely, and went into the dining-room. A table, which looked very imposing with its four legs carved in the shape of lions' paws, and a huge side-board to match, stood in the oblong room, the floor of which had been polished by three men the day before. On the table, which was covered with a fine, starched cloth, stood a silver coffeepot full of aromatic coffee, a sugar basin, a jug of fresh cream, and a bread basket filled with fresh rolls, rusks, and biscuits; and beside the plate lay the last number of the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, a newspaper, and several letters.
Nekhludoff was just going to open his letters, when a stout, middle-aged woman in mourning, a lace cap covering the widening parting of her hair, glided into the room. This was Agraphena Petrovna, formerly lady's maid to Nekhludoff's mother. Her mistress had died quite recently in this very house, and she remained with the son as his housekeeper. Agraphena Petrovna had spent nearly ten years, at different times, abroad with Nekhludoff's mother, and had the appearance and manners of a lady. She had lived with the Nekhludoffs from the time she was a child, and had known Dmitri Ivanovitch at the time when he was still little Mitinka.
"Good-morning, Dmitri Ivanovitch."
"Good-morning, Agraphena Petrovna. What is it you want?" Nekhludoff asked.
"A letter from the princess; either from the mother or the daughter. The maid brought it some time ago, and is waiting in my room," answered Agraphena Petrovna, handing him the letter with a significant smile.
"All right! Directly!" said Nekhludoff, taking the letter and frowning as he noticed Agraphena Petrovna's smile.
That smile meant that the letter was from the younger Princess Korchagin, whom Agraphena Petrovna expected him to marry. This supposition of hers annoyed Nekhludoff.
"Then I'll tell her to wait?" and Agraphena Petrovna took a crumb brush which was not in its place, put it away, and sailed out of the room.
Nekhludoff opened the perfumed note, and began reading it.
The note was written on a sheet of thick grey paper, with rough edges; the writing looked English. It said:
Having assumed the task of acting as your memory, I take the liberty of reminding you that on this the 28th day of April you have to appear at the Law Courts, as juryman, and, in consequence, can on no account accompany us and Kolosoff to the picture gallery, as, with your habitual flightiness, you promised yesterday; _a moins que vous ne soyez dispose a payer la cour d'assise les 300 roubles d'amende que vous vous refusez pour votre cheval,_ for not appearing in time. I remembered it last night after you were gone, so do not forget.
Princess M. Korchagin.
On the other side was a postscript.
_Maman vous fait dire que votre convert vous attendra jusqu'a la nuit. Venez absolument a quelle heure que cela soit._
Nekhludoff made a grimace. This note was a continuation of that skilful manoeuvring which the Princess Korchagin had already practised for two months in order to bind him closer and closer with invisible threads. And yet, beside the usual hesitation of men past their youth to marry unless they are very much in love, Nekhludoff had very good reasons why, even if he did make up his mind to it, he could not propose at once. It was not that ten years previously he had betrayed and forsaken Maslova; he had quite forgotten that, and he would not have considered it a reason for not marrying. No! The reason was that he had a liaison with a married woman, and, though he considered it broken off, she did not.
Nekhludoff was rather shy with women, and his very shyness awakened in this married woman, the unprincipled wife of the marechal de noblesse of a district where Nekhludoff was present at an election, the desire of vanquishing him. This woman drew him into an intimacy which entangled him more and more, while it daily became more distasteful to him. Having succumbed to the temptation, Nekhludoff felt guilty, and had not the courage to break the tie without her consent. And this was the reason he did not feel at liberty to propose to Korchagin even if he had wished to do so. Among the letters on the table was one from this woman's husband. Seeing his writing and the postmark, Nekhludoff flushed, and felt his energies awakening, as they always did when he was facing any kind of danger.
But his excitement passed at once. The marechal do noblesse, of the district in which his largest estate lay, wrote only to let Nekhludoff know that there was to be a special meeting towards the end of May, and that Nekhludoff was to be sure and come to "_donner un coup d'epaule_," at the important debates concerning the schools and the roads, as a strong opposition by the reactionary party was expected.
The marechal was a liberal, and was quite engrossed in this fight, not even noticing the misfortune that had befallen him.
Nekhludoff remembered the dreadful moments he had lived through; once when he thought that the husband had found him out and was going to challenge him, and he was making up his mind to fire into the air; also the terrible scene he had with her when she ran out into the park, and in her excitement tried to drown herself in the pond.
"Well, I cannot go now, and can do nothing until I get a reply from her," thought Nekhludoff. A week ago he had written her a decisive letter, in which he acknowledged his guilt, and his readiness to atone for it; but at the same time he pronounced their relations to be at an end, for her own good, as he expressed it. To this letter he had as yet received no answer. This might prove a good sign, for if she did not agree to break off their relations, she would have written at once, or even come herself, as she had done before. Nekhludoff had heard that there was some officer who was paying her marked attention, and this tormented him by awakening jealousy, and at the same time encouraged him with the hope of escape from the deception that was oppressing him.
The other letter was from his steward. The steward wrote to tell him that a visit to his estates was necessary in order to enter into possession, and also to decide about the further management of his lands; whether it was to continue in the same way as when his mother was alive, or whether, as he had represented to the late lamented princess, and now advised the young prince, they had not better increase their stock and farm all the land now rented by the peasants themselves. The steward wrote that this would be a far more profitable way of managing the property; at the same time, he apologised for not having forwarded the 3,000 roubles income due on the 1st. This money would be sent on by the next mail. The reason for the delay was that he could not get the money out of the peasants, who had grown so untrustworthy that he had to appeal to the authorities. This letter was partly disagreeable, and partly pleasant. It was pleasant to feel that he had power over so large a property, and yet disagreeable, because Nekhludoff had been an enthusiastic admirer of Henry George and Herbert Spencer. Being himself heir to a large property, he was especially struck by the position taken up by Spencer in Social Statics, that justice forbids private landholding, and with the straightforward resoluteness of his age, had not merely spoken to prove that land could not be looked upon as private property, and written essays on that subject at the university, but had acted up to his convictions, and, considering it wrong to hold landed property, had given the small piece of land he had inherited from his father to the peasants. Inheriting his mother's large estates, and thus becoming a landed proprietor, he had to choose one of two things: either to give up his property, as he had given up his father's land ten years before, or silently to confess that all his former ideas were mistaken and false.
He could not choose the former because he had no means but the landed estates (he did not care to serve); moreover, he had formed luxurious habits which he could not easily give up. Besides, he had no longer the same inducements; his strong convictions, the resoluteness of youth, and the ambitious desire to do something unusual were gone. As to the second course, that of denying those clear and unanswerable proofs of the injustice of landholding, which he had drawn from Spencer's Social Statics, and the brilliant corroboration of which he had at a later period found in the works of Henry George, such a course was impossible to him.
When Nekhludoff had finished his coffee, he went to his study to look at the summons, and find out what time he was to appear at the court, before writing his answer to the princess. Passing through his studio, where a few studies hung on the walls and, facing the easel, stood an unfinished picture, a feeling of inability to advance in art, a sense of his incapacity, came over him. He had often had this feeling, of late, and explained it by his too finely-developed aesthetic taste; still, the feeling was a very unpleasant one. Seven years before this he had given up military service, feeling sure that he had a talent for art, and had looked down with some disdain at all other activity from the height of his artistic standpoint. And now it turned out that he had no right to do so, and therefore everything that reminded him of all this was unpleasant. He looked at the luxurious fittings of the studio with a heavy heart, and it was in no cheerful mood that he entered his study, a large, lofty room fitted up with a view to comfort, convenience, and elegant appearance. He found the summons at once in a pigeon hole, labelled "immediate," of his large writing table. He had to appear at the court at 11 o'clock.
Nekhludoff sat down to write a note in reply to the princess, thanking her for the invitation, and promising to try and come to dinner. Having written one note, he tore it up, as it seemed too intimate. He wrote another, but it was too cold; he feared it might give offence, so he tore it up, too. He pressed the button of an electric bell, and his servant, an elderly, morose-looking man, with whiskers and shaved chin and lip, wearing a grey cotton apron, entered at the door.
"Send to fetch an isvostchik, please."
"And tell the person who is waiting that I send thanks for the invitation, and shall try to come."
"It is not very polite, but I can't write; no matter, I shall see her today," thought Nekhludoff, and went to get his overcoat.
When he came out of the house, an isvostchik he knew, with india-rubber tires to his trap, was at the door waiting for him. "You had hardly gone away from Prince Korchagin's yesterday," he said, turning half round, "when I drove up, and the Swiss at the door says, 'just gone.'" The isvostchik knew that Nekhludoff visited at the Korchagins, and called there on the chance of being engaged by him.
"Even the isvostchiks know of my relations with the Korchagins," thought Nekhludoff, and again the question whether he should not marry Princess Korchagin presented itself to him, and he could not decide it either way, any more than most of the questions that arose in his mind at this time.
It was in favour of marriage in general, that besides the comforts of hearth and home, it made a moral life possible, and chiefly that a family would, so Nekhludoff thought, give an aim to his now empty life.
Against marriage in general was the fear, common to bachelors past their first youth, of losing freedom, and an unconscious awe before this mysterious creature, a woman.
In this particular case, in favour of marrying Missy (her name was Mary, but, as is usual among a certain set, a nickname had been given her) was that she came of good family, and differed in everything, manner of speaking, walking, laughing, from the common people, not by anything exceptional, but by her "good breeding"--he could find no other term for this quality, though he prized it very highly---and, besides, she thought more of him than of anybody else, therefore evidently understood him. This understanding of him, i.e., the recognition of his superior merits, was to Nekhludoff a proof of her good sense and correct judgment. Against marrying Missy in particular, was, that in all likelihood, a girl with even higher qualities could be found, that she was already 27, and that he was hardly her first love. This last idea was painful to him. His pride would not reconcile itself with the thought that she had loved some one else, even in the past. Of course, she could not have known that she should meet him, but the thought that she was capable of loving another offended him. So that he had as many reasons for marrying as against it; at any rate, they weighed equally with Nekhludoff, who laughed at himself, and called himself the ass of the fable, remaining like that animal undecided which haycock to turn to.
"At any rate, before I get an answer from Mary Vasilievna (the marechal's wife), and finish completely with her, I can do nothing," he said to himself. And the conviction that he might, and was even obliged, to delay his decision, was comforting. "Well, I shall consider all that later on," he said to himself, as the trap drove silently along the asphalt pavement up to the doors of the Court.
"Now I must fulfil my public duties conscientiously, as I am in the habit of always doing, and as I consider it right to do. Besides, they are often interesting." And he entered the hall of the Law Courts, past the doorkeeper.
The corridors of the Court were already full of activity. The attendants hurried, out of breath, dragging their feet along the ground without lifting them, backwards and forwards, with all sorts of messages and papers. Ushers, advocates, and law officers passed hither and thither. Plaintiffs, and those of the accused who were not guarded, wandered sadly along the walls or sat waiting.
"Where is the Law Court?" Nekhludoff asked of an attendant.
"Which? There is the Civil Court and the Criminal Court."
"I am on the jury."
"The Criminal Court you should have said. Here to the right, then to the left--the second door."
Nekhludoff followed the direction.
Meanwhile some of the Criminal Court jurymen who were late had hurriedly passed into a separate room. At the door mentioned two men stood waiting.
One, a tall, fat merchant, a kind-hearted fellow, had evidently partaken of some refreshments and a glass of something, and was in most pleasant spirits. The other was a shopman of Jewish extraction. They were talking about the price of wool when Nekhludoff came up and asked them if this was the jurymen's room.
"Yes, my dear sir, this is it. One of us? On the jury, are you?" asked the merchant, with a merry wink.
"Ah, well, we shall have a go at the work together," he continued, after Nekhludoff had answered in the affirmative. "My name is Baklasheff, merchant of the Second Guild," he said, putting out his broad, soft, flexible hand.
"With whom have I the honour?"
Nekhludoff gave his name and passed into the jurymen's room.
Inside the room were about ten persons of all sorts. They had come but a short while ago, and some were sitting, others walking up and down, looking at each other, and making each other's acquaintance. There was a retired colonel in uniform; some were in frock coats, others in morning coats, and only one wore a peasant's dress.
Their faces all had a certain look of satisfaction at the prospect of fulfilling a public duty, although many of them had had to leave their businesses, and most were complaining of it.
The jurymen talked among themselves about the weather, the early spring, and the business before them, some having been introduced, others just guessing who was who. Those who were not acquainted with Nekhludoff made haste to get introduced, evidently looking upon this as an honour, and he taking it as his due, as he always did when among strangers. Had he been asked why he considered himself above the majority of people, he could not have given an answer; the life he had been living of late was not particularly meritorious. The fact of his speaking English, French, and German with a good accent, and of his wearing the best linen, clothes, ties, and studs, bought from the most expensive dealers in these goods, he quite knew would not serve as a reason for claiming superiority. At the same time he did claim superiority, and accepted the respect paid him as his due, and was hurt if he did not get it. In the jurymen's room his feelings were hurt by disrespectful treatment. Among the jury there happened to be a man whom he knew, a former teacher of his sister's children, Peter Gerasimovitch. Nekhludoff never knew his surname, and even bragged a bit about this. This man was now a master at a public school. Nekhludoff could not stand his familiarity, his self-satisfied laughter, his vulgarity, in short.
"Ah ha! You're also trapped." These were the words, accompanied with boisterous laughter, with which Peter Gerasimovitch greeted Nekhludoff. "Have you not managed to get out of it?"
"I never meant to get out of it," replied Nekhludoff, gloomily, and in a tone of severity.
"Well, I call this being public spirited. But just wait until you get hungry or sleepy; you'll sing to another tune then."
"This son of a priest will be saying 'thou' [in Russian, as in many other languages, "thou" is used generally among people very familiar with each other, or by superiors to inferiors] to me next," thought Nekhludoff, and walked away, with such a look of sadness on his face, as might have been natural if he had just heard of the death of all his relations. He came up to a group that had formed itself round a clean-shaven, tall, dignified man, who was recounting something with great animation. This man was talking about the trial going on in the Civil Court as of a case well known to himself, mentioning the judges and a celebrated advocate by name. He was saying that it seemed wonderful how the celebrated advocate had managed to give such a clever turn to the affair that an old lady, though she had the right on her side, would have to pay a large sum to her opponent. "The advocate is a genius," he said.
The listeners heard it all with respectful attention, and several of them tried to put in a word, but the man interrupted them, as if he alone knew all about it.
Though Nekhludoff had arrived late, he had to wait a long time. One of the members of the Court had not yet come, and everybody was kept waiting.
The president, who had to take the chair, had arrived early. The president was a tall, stout man, with long grey whiskers. Though married, he led a very loose life, and his wife did the same, so they did not stand in each other's way. This morning he had received a note from a Swiss girl, who had formerly been a governess in his house, and who was now on her way from South Russia to St. Petersburg. She wrote that she would wait for him between five and six p.m. in the Hotel Italia. This made him wish to begin and get through the sitting as soon as possible, so as to have time to call before six p.m. on the little red-haired Clara Vasilievna, with whom he had begun a romance in the country last summer. He went into a private room, latched the door, took a pair of dumb-bells out of a cupboard, moved his arms 20 times upwards, downwards, forwards, and sideways, then holding the dumb-bells above his head, lightly bent his knees three times.
"Nothing keeps one going like a cold bath and exercise," he said, feeling the biceps of his right arm with his left hand, on the third finger of which he wore a gold ring. He had still to do the moulinee movement (for he always went through those two exercises before a long sitting), when there was a pull at the door. The president quickly put away the dumb-bells and opened the door, saying, "I beg your pardon."
One of the members, a high-shouldered, discontented-looking man, with gold spectacles, came into the room. "Matthew Nikitich has again not come," he said, in a dissatisfied tone.
"Not yet?" said the president, putting on his uniform. "He is always late."
"It is extraordinary. He ought to be ashamed of himself," said the member, angrily, and taking out a cigarette.
This member, a very precise man, had had an unpleasant encounter with his wife in the morning, because she had spent her allowance before the end of the month, and had asked him to give her some money in advance, but he would not give way to her, and they had a quarrel. The wife told him that if he were going to behave so, he need not expect any dinner; there would be no dinner for him at home. At this point he left, fearing that she might carry out her threat, for anything might be expected from her. "This comes of living a good, moral life," he thought, looking at the beaming, healthy, cheerful, and kindly president, who, with elbows far apart, was smoothing his thick grey whiskers with his fine white hands over the embroidered collar of his uniform. "He is always contented and merry while I am suffering."
The secretary came in and brought some document.
"Thanks, very much," said the president, lighting a cigarette. "Which case shall we take first, then?"
"The poisoning case, I should say," answered the secretary, with indifference.
"All right; the poisoning case let it be," said the president, thinking that he could get this case over by four o'clock, and then go away. "And Matthew Nikitich; has he come?"
"He is here," replied the secretary.
"Then if you see him, please tell him that we begin with the poisoning case." Breve was the public prosecutor, who was to read the indictment in this case.
In the corridor the secretary met Breve, who, with up lifted shoulders, a portfolio under one arm, the other swinging with the palm turned to the front, was hurrying along the corridor, clattering with his heels.
"Michael Petrovitch wants to know if you are ready?" the secretary asked.
"Of course; I am always ready," said the public prosecutor. "What are we taking first?"
"The poisoning case."
"That's quite right," said the public prosecutor, but did not think it at all right. He had spent the night in a hotel playing cards with a friend who was giving a farewell party. Up to five in the morning they played and drank, so he had no time to look at this poisoning case, and meant to run it through now. The secretary, happening to know this, advised the president to begin with the poisoning case. The secretary was a Liberal, even a Radical, in opinion.
Breve was a Conservative; the secretary disliked him, and envied him his position.
"Well, and how about the Skoptzy?" [a religious sect] asked the secretary.
"I have already said that I cannot do it without witnesses, and so I shall say to the Court."
"Dear me, what does it matter?"
"I cannot do it," said Breve; and, waving his arm, he ran into his private room.
He was putting off the case of the Skoptzy on account of the absence of a very unimportant witness, his real reason being that if they were tried by an educated jury they might possibly be acquitted.
By an agreement with the president this case was to be tried in the coming session at a provincial town, where there would be more peasants, and, therefore, more chances of conviction.
The movement in the corridor increased. The people crowded most at the doors of the Civil Court, in which the case that the dignified man talked about was being heard.
An interval in the proceeding occurred, and the old woman came out of the court, whose property that genius of an advocate had found means of getting for his client, a person versed in law who had no right to it whatever. The judges knew all about the case, and the advocate and his client knew it better still, but the move they had invented was such that it was impossible not to take the old woman's property and not to hand it over to the person versed in law.
The old woman was stout, well dressed, and had enormous flowers on her bonnet; she stopped as she came out of the door, and spreading out her short fat arms and turning to her advocate, she kept repeating. "What does it all mean? just fancy!"
The advocate was looking at the flowers in her bonnet, and evidently not listening to her, but considering some question or other.
Next to the old woman, out of the door of the Civil Court, his broad, starched shirt front glistening from under his low-cut waistcoat, with a self-satisfied look on his face, came the celebrated advocate who had managed to arrange matters so that the old woman lost all she had, and the person versed in the law received more than 100,000 roubles. The advocate passed close to the old woman, and, feeling all eyes directed towards him, his whole bearing seemed to say: "No expressions of deference are required."
At last Matthew Nikitich also arrived, and the usher, a thin man, with a long neck and a kind of sideways walk, his nether lip protruding to one side, which made him resemble a turkey, came into the jurymen's room.
This usher was an honest man, and had a university education, but could not keep a place for any length of time, as he was subject to fits of drunkenness. Three months before a certain countess, who patronised his wife, had found him this place, and he was very pleased to have kept it so long.
"Well, sirs, is everybody here?" he asked, putting his pince-nez on his nose, and looking round.
"Everybody, I think," said the jolly merchant.
"All right; we'll soon see." And, taking a list from his pocket, he began calling out the names, looking at the men, sometimes through and sometimes over his pince-nez.
"Councillor of State, [grades such as this are common in Russia, and mean very little] J. M. Nikiforoff!"
"I am he," said the dignified-looking man, well versed in the habits of the law court.
"Ivan Semionovitch Ivanoff, retired colonel!"
"Here!" replied a thin man, in the uniform of a retired officer.
"Merchant of the Second Guild, Peter Baklasheff!"
"Here we are, ready!" said the good-humoured merchant, with a broad smile.
"Lieutenant of the Guards, Prince Dmitri Nekhludoff!"
"I am he," answered Nekhludoff.
The usher bowed to him, looking over his pince-nez, politely and pleasantly, as if wishing to distinguish him from the others.
"Captain Youri Demitrievitch-Dantchenko, merchant; Grigori Euphimitch Kouleshoff," etc. All but two were present.
"Now please to come to the court, gentlemen," said the usher, pointing to the door, with an amiable wave of his hand.
All moved towards the door, pausing to let each other pass. Then they went through the corridor into the court.
The court was a large, long room. At one end there was a raised platform, with three steps leading up to it, on which stood a table, covered with a green cloth trimmed with a fringe of a darker shade. At the table were placed three arm-chairs, with high-carved oak backs; on the wall behind them hung a full-length, brightly-coloured portrait of the Emperor in uniform and ribbon, with one foot in advance, and holding a sword. In the right corner hung a case, with an image of Christ crowned with thorns, and beneath it stood a lectern, and on the same side the prosecuting attorney's desk. On the left, opposite the desk, was the secretary's table, and in front of it, nearer the public, an oak grating, with the prisoners' bench, as yet unoccupied, behind it. Besides all this, there were on the right side of the platform high-backed ashwood chairs for the jury, and on the floor below tables for the advocates. All this was in the front part of the court, divided from the back by a grating.
The back was all taken up by seats in tiers. Sitting on the front seats were four women, either servant or factory girls, and two working men, evidently overawed by the grandeur of the room, and not venturing to speak above a whisper.
Soon after the jury had come in the usher entered, with his sideward gait, and stepping to the front, called out in a loud voice, as if he meant to frighten those present, "The Court is coming!" Every one got up as the members stepped on to the platform. Among them the president, with his muscles and fine whiskers. Next came the gloomy member of the Court, who was now more gloomy than ever, having met his brother-in-law, who informed him that he had just called in to see his sister (the member's wife), and that she had told him that there would be no dinner there.
"So that, evidently, we shall have to call in at a cook shop," the brother-in-law added, laughing.
"It is not at all funny," said the gloomy member, and became gloomier still.
Then at last came the third member of the Court, the same Matthew Nikitich, who was always late. He was a bearded man, with large, round, kindly eyes. He was suffering from a catarrh of the stomach, and, according to his doctor's advice, he had begun trying a new treatment, and this had kept him at home longer than usual. Now, as he was ascending the platform, he had a pensive air. He was in the habit of making guesses in answer to all sorts of self-put questions by different curious means. Just now he had asked whether the new treatment would be beneficial, and had decided that it would cure his catarrh if the number of steps from the door to his chair would divide by three. He made 26 steps, but managed to get in a 27th just by his chair.
The figures of the president and the members in their uniforms, with gold-embroidered collars, looked very imposing. They seemed to feel this themselves, and, as if overpowered by their own grandeur, hurriedly sat down on the high backed chairs behind the table with the green cloth, on which were a triangular article with an eagle at the top, two glass vases--something like those in which sweetmeats are kept in refreshment rooms--an inkstand, pens, clean paper, and good, newly-cut pencils of different kinds.
The public prosecutor came in with the judges. With his portfolio under one arm, and swinging the other, he hurriedly walked to his seat near the window, and was instantly absorbed in reading and looking through the papers, not wasting a single moment, in hope of being ready when the business commenced. He had been public prosecutor but a short time, and had only prosecuted four times before this. He was very ambitious, and had firmly made up his mind to get on, and therefore thought it necessary to get a conviction whenever he prosecuted. He knew the chief facts of the poisoning case, and had already formed a plan of action. He only wanted to copy out a few points which he required.
The secretary sat on the opposite side of the platform, and, having got ready all the papers he might want, was looking through an article, prohibited by the censor, which he had procured and read the day before. He was anxious to have a talk about this article with the bearded member, who shared his views, but wanted to look through it once more before doing so.
The president, having looked through some papers and put a few questions to the usher and the secretary, gave the order for the prisoners to be brought in.
The door behind the grating was instantly opened, and two gendarmes, with caps on their heads, and holding naked swords in their hands, came in, followed by the prisoners, a red-haired, freckled man, and two women. The man wore a prison cloak, which was too long and too wide for him. He stuck out his thumbs, and held his arms close to his sides, thus keeping the sleeves, which were also too long, from slipping over his hands. Without looking at the judges he gazed steadfastly at the form, and passing to the other side of it, he sat down carefully at the very edge, leaving plenty of room for the others. He fixed his eyes on the president, and began moving the muscles of his cheeks, as if whispering something. The woman who came next was also dressed in a prison cloak, and had a prison kerchief round her head. She had a sallow complexion, no eyebrows or lashes, and very red eyes. This woman appeared perfectly calm. Having caught her cloak against something, she detached it carefully, without any haste, and sat down.
The third prisoner was Maslova.
As soon as she appeared, the eyes of all the men in the court turned her way, and remained fixed on her white face, her sparklingly-brilliant black eyes and the swelling bosom under the prison cloak. Even the gendarme whom she passed on her way to her seat looked at her fixedly till she sat down, and then, as if feeling guilty, hurriedly turned away, shook himself, and began staring at the window in front of him.
The president paused until the prisoners had taken their seats, and when Maslova was seated, turned to the secretary.
Then the usual procedure commenced; the counting of the jury, remarks about those who had not come, the fixing of the fines to be exacted from them, the decisions concerning those who claimed exemption, the appointing of reserve jurymen.
Having folded up some bits of paper and put them in one of the glass vases, the president turned up the gold-embroidered cuffs of his uniform a little way, and began drawing the lots, one by one, and opening them. Nekhludoff was among the jurymen thus drawn. Then, having let down his sleeves, the president requested the priest to swear in the jury.
The old priest, with his puffy, red face, his brown gown, and his gold cross and little order, laboriously moving his stiff legs, came up to the lectern beneath the icon.
The jurymen got up, and crowded towards the lectern.
"Come up, please," said the priest, pulling at the cross on his breast with his plump hand, and waiting till all the jury had drawn near. When they had all come up the steps of the platform, the priest passed his bald, grey head sideways through the greasy opening of the stole, and, having rearranged his thin hair, he again turned to the jury. "Now, raise your right arms in this way, and put your fingers together, thus," he said, with his tremulous old voice, lifting his fat, dimpled hand, and putting the thumb and two first fingers together, as if taking a pinch of something. "Now, repeat after me, 'I promise and swear, by the Almighty God, by His holy gospels, and by the life-giving cross of our Lord, that in this work which,'" he said, pausing between each sentence--"don't let your arm down; hold it like this," he remarked to a young man who had lowered his arm--"'that in this work which . . . '"
The dignified man with the whiskers, the colonel, the merchant, and several more held their arms and fingers as the priest required of them, very high, very exactly, as if they liked doing it; others did it unwillingly and carelessly. Some repeated the words too loudly, and with a defiant tone, as if they meant to say, "In spite of all, I will and shall speak." Others whispered very low, and not fast enough, and then, as if frightened, hurried to catch up the priest. Some kept their fingers tightly together, as if fearing to drop the pinch of invisible something they held; others kept separating and folding theirs. Every one save the old priest felt awkward, but he was sure he was fulfilling a very useful and important duty.
After the swearing in, the president requested the jury to choose a foreman, and the jury, thronging to the door, passed out into the debating-room, where almost all of them at once began to smoke cigarettes. Some one proposed the dignified man as foreman, and he was unanimously accepted. Then the jurymen put out their cigarettes and threw them away and returned to the court. The dignified man informed the president that he was chosen foreman, and all sat down again on the high-backed chairs.
Everything went smoothly, quickly, and not without a certain solemnity. And this exactitude, order, and solemnity evidently pleased those who took part in it: it strengthened the impression that they were fulfilling a serious and valuable public duty. Nekhludoff, too, felt this.
As soon as the jurymen were seated, the president made a speech on their rights, obligations, and responsibilities. While speaking he kept changing his position; now leaning on his right, now on his left hand, now against the back, then on the arms of his chair, now putting the papers straight, now handling his pencil and paper-knife.
According to his words, they had the right of interrogating the prisoners through the president, to use paper and pencils, and to examine the articles put in as evidence. Their duty was to judge not falsely, but justly. Their responsibility meant that if the secrecy of their discussion were violated, or communications were established with outsiders, they would be liable to punishment. Every one listened with an expression of respectful attention. The merchant, diffusing a smell of brandy around him, and restraining loud hiccups, approvingly nodded his head at every sentence.
When he had finished his speech, the president turned to the male prisoner.
"Simeon Kartinkin, rise."
Simeon jumped up, his lips continuing to move nervously and inaudibly.
"Simon Petrov Kartinkin," he said, rapidly, with a cracked voice, having evidently prepared the answer.
"What class do you belong to?"
"What government, district, and parish?"
"Toula Government, Krapivinskia district, Koupianovski parish, the village Borki."
"Thirty-three; born in the year one thousand eight--"
"Of the Russian religion, orthodox."
"Oh, no, sir."
"I had a place in the Hotel Mauritania."
"Have you ever been tried before?"
"I never got tried before, because, as we used to live formerly--"
"So you never were tried before?"
"God forbid, never."
"Have you received a copy of the indictment?"
"Euphemia Ivanovna Botchkova," said the president, turning to the next prisoner.
But Simon continued standing in front of Botchkova.
"Kartinkin, sit down!" Kartinkin continued standing.
"Kartinkin, sit down!" But Kartinkin sat down only when the usher, with his head on one side, and with preternaturally wide-open eyes, ran up, and said, in a tragic whisper, "Sit down, sit down!"
Kartinkin sat down as hurriedly as he had risen, wrapping his cloak round him, and again began moving his lips silently.
"Your name?" asked the president, with a weary sigh at being obliged to repeat the same questions, without looking at the prisoner, but glancing over a paper that lay before him. The president was so used to his task that, in order to get quicker through it all, he did two things at a time.
Botchkova was forty-three years old, and came from the town of Kalomna. She, too, had been in service at the Hotel Mauritania.
"I have never been tried before, and have received a copy of the indictment." She gave her answers boldly, in a tone of voice as if she meant to add to each answer, "And I don't care who knows it, and I won't stand any nonsense."
She did not wait to be told, but sat down as soon as she had replied to the last question.
"Your name?" turning abruptly to the third prisoner. "You will have to rise," he added, softly and gently, seeing that Maslova kept her seat.
Maslova got up and stood, with her chest expanded, looking at the president with that peculiar expression of readiness in her smiling black eyes.
"What is your name?"
"Lubov," she said.
Nekhludoff had put on his pince-nez, looking at the prisoners while they were being questioned.
"No, it is impossible," he thought, not taking his eyes off the prisoner. "Lubov! How can it be?" he thought to himself, after hearing her answer. The president was going to continue his questions, but the member with the spectacles interrupted him, angrily whispering something. The president nodded, and turned again to the prisoner.
"How is this," he said, "you are not put down here as Lubov?"
The prisoner remained silent.
"I want your real name."
"What is your baptismal name?" asked the angry member.
"Formerly I used to be called Katerina."
"No, it cannot be," said Nekhludoff to himself; and yet he was now certain that this was she, that same girl, half ward, half servant to his aunts; that Katusha, with whom he had once been in love, really in love, but whom he had betrayed and then abandoned, and never again brought to mind, for the memory would have been too painful, would have convicted him too clearly, proving that he who was so proud of his integrity had treated this woman in a revolting, scandalous way.
Yes, this was she. He now clearly saw in her face that strange, indescribable individuality which distinguishes every face from all others; something peculiar, all its own, not to be found anywhere else. In spite of the unhealthy pallor and the fulness of the face, it was there, this sweet, peculiar individuality; on those lips, in the slight squint of her eyes, in the voice, particularly in the naive smile, and in the expression of readiness on the face and figure.
"You should have said so," remarked the president, again in a gentle tone. "Your patronymic?"
"I am illegitimate."
"Well, were you not called by your godfather's name?"
"And what is it she can be guilty of?" continued Nekhludoff, in his mind, unable to breathe freely.
"Your family name--your surname, I mean?" the president went on.
"They used to call me by my mother's surname, Maslova."
"Meschanka." [the lowest town class or grade]
"Occupation. What was your occupation?"
Maslova remained silent.
"What was your employment?"
"You know yourself," she said, and smiled. Then, casting a hurried look round the room, again turned her eyes on the president.
There was something so unusual in the expression of her face, so terrible and piteous in the meaning of the words she had uttered, in this smile, and in the furtive glance she had cast round the room, that the president was abashed, and for a few minutes silence reigned in the court. The silence was broken by some one among the public laughing, then somebody said "Ssh," and the president looked up and continued:
"Have you ever been tried before?"
"Never," answered Maslova, softly, and sighed.
"Have you received a copy of the indictment?"
"I have," she answered.
The prisoner leant back to pick up her skirt in the way a fine lady picks up her train, and sat down, folding her small white hands in the sleeves of her cloak, her eyes fixed on the president. Her face was calm again.
The witnesses were called, and some sent away; the doctor who was to act as expert was chosen and called into the court.
Then the secretary got up and began reading the indictment. He read distinctly, though he pronounced the "I" and "r" alike, with a loud voice, but so quickly that the words ran into one another and formed one uninterrupted, dreary drone.
The judges bent now on one, now on the other arm of their chairs, then on the table, then back again, shut and opened their eyes, and whispered to each other. One of the gendarmes several times repressed a yawn.
The prisoner Kartinkin never stopped moving his cheeks. Botchkova sat quite still and straight, only now and then scratching her head under the kerchief.
Maslova sat immovable, gazing at the reader; only now and then she gave a slight start, as if wishing to reply, blushed, sighed heavily, and changed the position of her hands, looked round, and again fixed her eyes on the reader.
Nekhludoff sat in the front row on his high-backed chair, without removing his pince-nez, and looked at Maslova, while a complicated and fierce struggle was going on in his soul.
The indictment ran as follows: On the 17th of January, 18--, in the lodging-house Mauritania, occurred the sudden death of the Second Guild merchant, Therapont Emilianovich Smelkoff, of Kourgan.
The local police doctor of the fourth district certified that death was due to rupture of the heart, owing to the excessive use of alcoholic liquids. The body of the said Smelkoff was interred. After several days had elapsed, the merchant Timokhin, a fellow-townsman and companion of the said Smelkoff, returned from St. Petersburg, and hearing the circumstances that accompanied the death of the latter, notified his suspicions that the death was caused by poison, given with intent to rob the said Smelkoff of his money. This suspicion was corroborated on inquiry, which proved:
1. That shortly before his death the said Smelkoff had received the sum of 3,800 roubles from the bank. When an inventory of the property of the deceased was made, only 312 roubles and 16 copecks were found.
2. The whole day and night preceding his death the said Smelkoff spent with Lubka (alias Katerina Maslova) at her home and in the lodging-house Mauritania, which she also visited at the said Smelkoff's request during his absence, to get some money, which she took out of his portmanteau in the presence of the servants of the lodging-house Mauritania, Euphemia Botchkova and Simeon Kartinkin, with a key given her by the said Smelkoff. In the portmanteau opened by the said Maslova, the said Botchkova and Kartinkin saw packets of 100-rouble bank-notes.
3. On the said Smelkoff's return to the lodging-house Mauritania, together with Lubka, the latter, in accordance with the attendant Kartinkin's advice, gave the said Smelkoff some white powder given to her by the said Kartinkin, dissolved in brandy.
4. The next morning the said Lubka (alias Katerina Maslova) sold to her mistress, the witness Kitaeva, a brothel-keeper, a diamond ring given to her, as she alleged, by the said Smelkoff.
5. The housemaid of the lodging-house Mauritania, Euphemia Botchkova, placed to her account in the local Commercial Bank 1,800 roubles. The postmortem examination of the body of the said Smelkoff and the chemical analysis of his intestines proved beyond doubt the presence of poison in the organism, so that there is reason to believe that the said Smelkoff's death was caused by poisoning.
When cross-examined, the accused, Maslova, Botchkova, and Kartinkin, pleaded not guilty, deposing--Maslova, that she had really been sent by Smelkoff from the brothel, where she "works," as she expresses it, to the lodging-house Mauritania to get the merchant some money, and that, having unlocked the portmanteau with a key given her by the merchant, she took out 40 roubles, as she was told to do, and that she had taken nothing more; that Botchkova and Kartinkin, in whose presence she unlocked and locked the portmanteau, could testify to the truth of the statement.
She gave this further evidence--that when she came to the lodging-house for the second time she did, at the instigation of Simeon Kartinkin, give Smelkoff some kind of powder, which she thought was a narcotic, in a glass of brandy, hoping he would fall asleep and that she would be able to get away from him; and that Smelkoff, having beaten her, himself gave her the ring when she cried and threatened to go away.
The accused, Euphemia Botchkova, stated that she knew nothing about the missing money, that she had not even gone into Smelkoff's room, but that Lubka had been busy there all by herself; that if anything had been stolen, it must have been done by Lubka when she came with the merchant's key to get his money.
At this point Maslova gave a start, opened her mouth, and looked at Botchkova. "When," continued the secretary, "the receipt for 1,800 roubles from the bank was shown to Botchkova, and she was asked where she had obtained the money, she said that it was her own earnings for 12 years, and those of Simeon, whom she was going to marry. The accused Simeon Kartinkin, when first examined, confessed that he and Botchkova, at the instigation of Maslova, who had come with the key from the brothel, had stolen the money and divided it equally among themselves and Maslova." Here Maslova again started, half-rose from her seat, and, blushing scarlet, began to say something, but was stopped by the usher. "At last," the secretary continued, reading, "Kartinkin confessed also that he had supplied the powders in order to get Smelkoff to sleep. When examined the second time he denied having had anything to do with the stealing of the money or giving Maslova the powders, accusing her of having done it alone."
Concerning the money placed in the bank by Botchkova, he said the same as she, that is, that the money was given to them both by the lodgers in tips during 12 years' service.
The indictment concluded as follows:
In consequence of the foregoing, the peasant of the village Borki, Simeon Kartinkin, 33 years of age, the meschanka Euphemia Botchkova, 43 years of age, and the meschanka Katerina Maslova, 27 years of age, are accused of having on the 17th day of January, 188--, jointly stolen from the said merchant, Smelkoff, a ring and money, to the value of 2,500 roubles, and of having given the said merchant, Smelkoff, poison to drink, with intent of depriving him of life, and thereby causing his death. This crime is provided for in clause 1,455 of the Penal Code, paragraphs 4 and 5.
When the reading of the indictment was over, the president, after having consulted the members, turned to Kartinkin, with an expression that plainly said: Now we shall find out the whole truth down to the minutest detail.
"Peasant Simeon Kartinkin," he said, stooping to the left.
Simeon Kartinkin got up, stretched his arms down his sides, and leaning forward with his whole body, continued moving his cheeks inaudibly.
"You are accused of having on the 17th January, 188--, together with Euphemia Botchkova and Katerina Maslova, stolen money from a portmanteau belonging to the merchant Smelkoff, and then, having procured some arsenic, persuaded Katerina Maslova to give it to the merchant Smelkoff in a glass of brandy, which was the cause of Smelkoff's death. Do you plead guilty?" said the president, stooping to the right.
"Not nohow, because our business is to attend on the lodgers, and--"
"You'll tell us that afterwards. Do you plead guilty?"
"Oh, no, sir. I only,--"
"You'll tell us that afterwards. Do you plead guilty?" quietly and firmly asked the president.
"Can't do such a thing, because that--"
The usher again rushed up to Simeon Kartinkin, and stopped him in a tragic whisper.
The president moved the hand with which he held the paper and placed the elbow in a different position with an air that said: "This is finished," and turned to Euphemia Botchkova.
"Euphemia Botchkova, you are accused of having, on the 17th of January, 188-, in the lodging-house Mauritania, together with Simeon Kartinkin and Katerina Maslova, stolen some money and a ring out of the merchant Smelkoff's portmanteau, and having shared the money among yourselves, given poison to the merchant Smelkoff, thereby causing his death. Do you plead guilty?"
"I am not guilty of anything," boldly and firmly replied the prisoner. "I never went near the room, but when this baggage went in she did the whole business."
"You will say all this afterwards," the president again said, quietly and firmly. "So you do not plead guilty?"
"I did not take the money nor give the drink, nor go into the room. Had I gone in I should have kicked her out."
"So you do not plead guilty?"
"Katerina Maslova," the president began, turning to the third prisoner, "you are accused of having come from the brothel with the key of the merchant Smelkoff's portmanteau, money, and a ring." He said all this like a lesson learned by heart, leaning towards the member on his left, who was whispering into his ear that a bottle mentioned in the list of the material evidence was missing. "Of having stolen out of the portmanteau money and a ring," he repeated, "and shared it. Then, returning to the lodging house Mauritania with Smelkoff, of giving him poison in his drink, and thereby causing his death. Do you plead guilty?"
"I am not guilty of anything," she began rapidly. "As I said before I say again, I did not take it--I did not take it; I did not take anything, and the ring he gave me himself."
"You do not plead guilty of having stolen 2,500 roubles?" asked the president.
"I've said I took nothing but the 40 roubles."
"Well, and do you plead guilty of having given the merchant Smelkoff a powder in his drink?"
"Yes, that I did. Only I believed what they told me, that they were sleeping powders, and that no harm could come of them. I never thought, and never wished. . . God is my witness; I say, I never meant this," she said.
"So you do not plead guilty of having stolen the money and the ring from the merchant Smelkoff, but confess that you gave him the powder?" said the president.
"Well, yes, I do confess this, but I thought they were sleeping powders. I only gave them to make him sleep; I never meant and never thought of worse."
"Very well," said the president, evidently satisfied with the results gained. "Now tell us how it all happened," and he leaned back in his chair and put his folded hands on the table. "Tell us all about it. A free and full confession will be to your advantage."
Maslova continued to look at the president in silence, and blushing.
"Tell us how it happened."
"How it happened?" Maslova suddenly began, speaking quickly. "I came to the lodging-house, and was shown into the room. He was there, already very drunk." She pronounced the word _he_ with a look of horror in her wide-open eyes. "I wished to go away, but he would not let me." She stopped, as if having lost the thread, or remembered some thing else.
"Well, and then?"
"Well, what then? I remained a bit, and went home again."
At this moment the public prosecutor raised himself a little, leaning on one elbow in an awkward manner.
"You would like to put a question?" said the president, and having received an answer in the affirmative, he made a gesture inviting the public prosecutor to speak.
"I want to ask, was the prisoner previously acquainted with Simeon Kartinkin?" said the public prosecutor, without looking at Maslova, and, having put the question, he compressed his lips and frowned.
The president repeated the question. Maslova stared at the public prosecutor, with a frightened look.
"With Simeon? Yes," she said.
"I should like to know what the prisoner's acquaintance with Kartinkin consisted in. Did they meet often?"
"Consisted in? . . . He invited me for the lodgers; it was not an acquaintance at all," answered Maslova, anxiously moving her eyes from the president to the public prosecutor and back to the president.
"I should like to know why Kartinkin invited only Maslova, and none of the other girls, for the lodgers?" said the public prosecutor, with half-closed eyes and a cunning, Mephistophelian smile.
"I don't know. How should I know?" said Maslova, casting a frightened look round, and fixing her eyes for a moment on Nekhludoff. "He asked whom he liked."
"Is it possible that she has recognised me?" thought Nekhludoff, and the blood rushed to his face. But Maslova turned away without distinguishing him from the others, and again fixed her eyes anxiously on the public prosecutor.
"So the prisoner denies having had any intimate relations with Kartinkin? Very well, I have no more questions to ask."
And the public prosecutor took his elbow off the desk, and began writing something. He was not really noting anything down, but only going over the letters of his notes with a pen, having seen the procureur and leading advocates, after putting a clever question, make a note, with which, later on, to annihilate their adversaries.
The president did not continue at once, because he was consulting the member with the spectacles, whether he was agreed that the questions (which had all been prepared be forehand and written out) should be put.
"Well! What happened next?" he then went on.
"I came home," looking a little more boldly only at the president, "and went to bed. Hardly had I fallen asleep when one of our girls, Bertha, woke me. 'Go, your merchant has come again!' He"--she again uttered the word _he_ with evident horror-- "he kept treating our girls, and then wanted to send for more wine, but his money was all gone, and he sent me to his lodgings and told me where the money was, and how much to take. So I went."
The president was whispering to the member on his left, but, in order to appear as if he had heard, he repeated her last words.
"So you went. Well, what next?"
"I went, and did all he told me; went into his room. I did not go alone, but called Simeon Kartinkin and her," she said, pointing to Botchkova.
"That's a lie; I never went in," Botchkova began, but was stopped.
"In their presence I took out four notes," continued Maslova, frowning, without looking at Botchkova.
"Yes, but did the prisoner notice," again asked the prosecutor, "how much money there was when she was getting out the 40 roubles?"
Maslova shuddered when the prosecutor addressed her; she did not know why it was, but she felt that he wished her evil.
"I did not count it, but only saw some 100-rouble notes."
"Ah! The prisoner saw 100-rouble notes. That's all?"
"Well, so you brought back the money," continued the president, looking at the clock.
"Well, and then?"
"Then he took me back with him," said Maslova.
"Well, and how did you give him the powder? In his drink?"
"How did I give it? I put them in and gave it him."
"Why did you give it him?"
She did not answer, but sighed deeply and heavily.
"He would not let me go," she said, after a moment's silence, "and I was quite tired out, and so I went out into the passage and said to Simeon, 'If he would only let me go, I am so tired.' And he said, 'We are also sick of him; we were thinking of giving him a sleeping draught; he will fall asleep, and then you can go.' So I said all right. I thought they were harmless, and he gave me the packet. I went in. He was lying behind the partition, and at once called for brandy. I took a bottle of 'fine champagne' from the table, poured out two glasses, one for him and one for myself, and put the powders into his glass, and gave it him. Had I known how could I have given them to him?"
"Well, and how did the ring come into your possession?" asked the president. "When did he give it you?"
"That was when we came back to his lodgings. I wanted to go away, and he gave me a knock on the head and broke my comb. I got angry and said I'd go away, and he took the ring off his finger and gave it to me so that I should not go," she said.
Then the public prosecutor again slightly raised himself, and, putting on an air of simplicity, asked permission to put a few more questions, and, having received it, bending his head over his embroidered collar, he said: "I should like to know how long the prisoner remained in the merchant Smelkoff's room."
Maslova again seemed frightened, and she again looked anxiously from the public prosecutor to the president, and said hurriedly:
"I do not remember how long."
"Yes, but does the prisoner remember if she went anywhere else in the lodging-house after she left Smelkoff?"
Maslova considered for a moment. "Yes, I did go into an empty room next to his."
"Yes, and why did you go in?" asked the public prosecutor, forgetting himself, and addressing her directly.
"I went in to rest a bit, and to wait for an isvostchik."
"And was Kartinkin in the room with the prisoner, or not?"
"He came in."
"Why did he come in?"
"There was some of the merchant's brandy left, and we finished it together."
"Oh, finished it together. Very well! And did the prisoner talk to Kartinkin, and, if so, what about?"
Maslova suddenly frowned, blushed very red, and said, hurriedly, "What about? I did not talk about anything, and that's all I know. Do what you like with me; I am not guilty, and that's all."
"I have nothing more to ask," said the prosecutor, and, drawing up his shoulders in an unnatural manner, began writing down, as the prisoner's own evidence, in the notes for his speech, that she had been in the empty room with Kartinkin.
There was a short silence.
"You have nothing more to say?"
"I have told everything," she said, with a sigh, and sat down.
Then the president noted something down, and, having listened to something that the member on his left whispered to him, he announced a ten-minutes' interval, rose hurriedly, and left the court. The communication he had received from the tall, bearded member with the kindly eyes was that the member, having felt a slight stomach derangement, wished to do a little massage and to take some drops. And this was why an interval was made.
When the judges had risen, the advocates, the jury, and the witnesses also rose, with the pleasant feeling that part of the business was finished, and began moving in different directions.
Nekhludoff went into the jury's room, and sat down by the window.
"Yes, this was Katusha."
The relations between Nekhludoff and Katusha had been the following:
Nekhludoff first saw Katusha when he was a student in his third year at the University, and was preparing an essay on land tenure during the summer vacation, which he passed with his aunts. Until then he had always lived, in summer, with his mother and sister on his mother's large estate near Moscow. But that year his sister had married, and his mother had gone abroad to a watering-place, and he, having his essay to write, resolved to spend the summer with his aunts. It was very quiet in their secluded estate and there was nothing to distract his mind; his aunts loved their nephew and heir very tenderly, and he, too, was fond of them and of their simple, old-fashioned life.
During that summer on his aunts' estate, Nekhludoff passed through that blissful state of existence when a young man for the first time, without guidance from any one outside, realises all the beauty and significance of life, and the importance of the task allotted in it to man; when he grasps the possibility of unlimited advance towards perfection for one's self and for all the world, and gives himself to this task, not only hopefully, but with full conviction of attaining to the perfection he imagines. In that year, while still at the University, he had read Spencer's Social Statics, and Spencer's views on landholding especially impressed him, as he himself was heir to large estates. His father had not been rich, but his mother had received 10,000 acres of land for her dowry. At that time he fully realised all the cruelty and injustice of private property in land, and being one of those to whom a sacrifice to the demands of conscience gives the highest spiritual enjoyment, he decided not to retain property rights, but to give up to the peasant labourers the land he had inherited from his father. It was on this land question he wrote his essay.
He arranged his life on his aunts' estate in the following manner. He got up very early, sometimes at three o'clock, and before sunrise went through the morning mists to bathe in the river, under the hill. He returned while the dew still lay on the grass and the flowers. Sometimes, having finished his coffee, he sat down with his books of reference and his papers to write his essay, but very often, instead of reading or writing, he left home again, and wandered through the fields and the woods. Before dinner he lay down and slept somewhere in the garden. At dinner he amused and entertained his aunts with his bright spirits, then he rode on horseback or went for a row on the river, and in the evening he again worked at his essay, or sat reading or playing patience with his aunts.
His joy in life was so great that it agitated him, and kept him awake many a night, especially when it was moonlight, so that instead of sleeping he wandered about in the garden till dawn, alone with his dreams and fancies.
And so, peacefully and happily, he lived through the first month of his stay with his aunts, taking no particular notice of their half-ward, half-servant, the black-eyed, quick-footed Katusha. Then, at the age of nineteen, Nekhludoff, brought up under his mother's wing, was still quite pure. If a woman figured in his dreams at all it was only as a wife. All the other women, who, according to his ideas he could not marry, were not women for him, but human beings.
But on Ascension Day that summer, a neighbour of his aunts', and her family, consisting of two young daughters, a schoolboy, and a young artist of peasant origin who was staying with them, came to spend the day. After tea they all went to play in the meadow in front of the house, where the grass had already been mown. They played at the game of gorelki, and Katusha joined them. Running about and changing partners several times, Nekhludoff caught Katusha, and she became his partner. Up to this time he had liked Katusha's looks, but the possibility of any nearer relations with her had never entered his mind.
"Impossible to catch those two," said the merry young artist, whose turn it was to catch, and who could run very fast with his short, muscular legs.
"You! And not catch us?" said Katusha.
"One, two, three," and the artist clapped his hands. Katusha, hardly restraining her laughter, changed places with Nekhludoff, behind the artist's back, and pressing his large hand with her little rough one, and rustling with her starched petticoat, ran to the left. Nekhludoff ran fast to the right, trying to escape from the artist, but when he looked round he saw the artist running after Katusha, who kept well ahead, her firm young legs moving rapidly. There was a lilac bush in front of them, and Katusha made a sign with her head to Nekhludoff to join her behind it, for if they once clasped hands again they were safe from their pursuer, that being a rule of the game. He understood the sign, and ran behind the bush, but he did not know that there was a small ditch overgrown with nettles there. He stumbled and fell into the nettles, already wet with dew, stinging his bands, but rose immediately, laughing at his mishap.
Katusha, with her eyes black as sloes, her face radiant with joy, was flying towards him, and they caught hold of each other's hands.
"Got stung, I daresay?" she said, arranging her hair with her free hand, breathing fast and looking straight up at him with a glad, pleasant smile.
"I did not know there was a ditch here," he answered, smiling also, and keeping her hand in his. She drew nearer to him, and he himself, not knowing how it happened, stooped towards her. She did not move away, and he pressed her hand tight and kissed her on the lips.
"There! You've done it!" she said; and, freeing her hand with a swift movement, ran away from him. Then, breaking two branches of white lilac from which the blossoms were already falling, she began fanning her hot face with them; then, with her head turned back to him, she walked away, swaying her arms briskly in front of her, and joined the other players.
After this there grew up between Nekhludoff and Katusha those peculiar relations which often exist between a pure young man and girl who are attracted to each other.
When Katusha came into the room, or even when he saw her white apron from afar, everything brightened up in Nekhludoff's eyes, as when the sun appears everything becomes more interesting, more joyful, more important. The whole of life seemed full of gladness. And she felt the same. But it was not only Katusha's presence that had this effect on Nekhludoff. The mere thought that Katusha existed (and for her that Nekhludoff existed) had this effect.
When he received an unpleasant letter from his mother, or could not get on with his essay, or felt the unreasoning sadness that young people are often subject to, he had only to remember Katusha and that he should see her, and it all vanished. Katusha had much work to do in the house, but she managed to get a little leisure for reading, and Nekhludoff gave her Dostoievsky and Tourgeneff (whom he had just read himself) to read. She liked Tourgeneff's Lull best. They had talks at moments snatched when meeting in the passage, on the veranda, or the yard, and sometimes in the room of his aunts' old servant, Matrona Pavlovna, with whom he sometimes used to drink tea, and where Katusha used to work.
These talks in Matrona Pavlovna's presence were the pleasantest. When they were alone it was worse. Their eyes at once began to say something very different and far more important than what their mouths uttered. Their lips puckered, and they felt a kind of dread of something that made them part quickly. These relations continued between Nekhludoff and Katusha during the whole time of his first visit to his aunts'. They noticed it, and became frightened, and even wrote to Princess Elena Ivanovna, Nekhludoff's mother. His aunt, Mary Ivanovna, was afraid Dmitri would form an intimacy with Katusha; but her fears were groundless, for Nekhludoff, himself hardly conscious of it, loved Katusha, loved her as the pure love, and therein lay his safety--his and hers. He not only did not feel any desire to possess her, but the very thought of it filled him with horror. The fears of the more poetical Sophia Ivanovna, that Dmitri, with his thoroughgoing, resolute character, having fallen in love with a girl, might make up his mind to marry her, without considering either her birth or her station, had more ground.
Had Nekhludoff at that time been conscious of his love for Katusha, and especially if he had been told that he could on no account join his life with that of a girl in her position, it might have easily happened that, with his usual straight- forwardness, he would have come to the conclusion that there could be no possible reason for him not to marry any girl whatever, as long as he loved her. But his aunts did not mention their fears to him; and, when he left, he was still unconscious of his love for Katusha. He was sure that what he felt for Katusha was only one of the manifestations of the joy of life that filled his whole being, and that this sweet, merry little girl shared this joy with him. Yet, when he was going away, and Katusha stood with his aunts in the porch, and looked after him, her dark, slightly-squinting eyes filled with tears, he felt, after all, that he was leaving something beautiful, precious, something which would never reoccur. And he grew very sad.
"Good-bye, Katusha," he said, looking across Sophia Ivanovna's cap as he was getting into the trap. "Thank you for everything."
"Good-bye, Dmitri Ivanovitch," she said, with her pleasant, tender voice, keeping back the tears that filled her eyes--and ran away into the hall, where she could cry in peace.
After that Nekhludoff did not see Katusha for more than three years. When he saw her again he had just been promoted to the rank of officer and was going to join his regiment. On the way he came to spend a few days with his aunts, being now a very different young man from the one who had spent the summer with them three years before. He then had been an honest, unselfish lad, ready to sacrifice himself for any good cause; now he was depraved and selfish, and thought only of his own enjoyment. Then God's world seemed a mystery which he tried enthusiastically and joyfully to solve; now everything in life seemed clear and simple, defined by the conditions of the life he was leading. Then he had felt the importance of, and had need of intercourse with, nature, and with those who had lived and thought and felt before him--philosophers and poets. What he now considered necessary and important were human institutions and intercourse with his comrades. Then women seemed mysterious and charming--charming by the very mystery that enveloped them; now the purpose of women, all women except those of his own family and the wives of his friends, was a very definite one: women were the best means towards an already experienced enjoyment. Then money was not needed, and he did not require even one-third of what his mother allowed him; but now this allowance of 1,500 roubles a month did not suffice, and he had already had some unpleasant talks about it with his mother.
Then he had looked on his spirit as the I; now it was his healthy strong animal I that he looked upon as himself.
And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. This he had done because it was too difficult to live believing one's self; believing one's self, one had to decide every question not in favour of one's own animal life, which is always seeking for easy gratifications, but almost in every case against it. Believing others there was nothing to decide; everything had been decided already, and decided always in favour of the animal I and against the spiritual. Nor was this all. Believing in his own self he was always exposing himself to the censure of those around him; believing others he had their approval. So, when Nekhludoff had talked of the serious matters of life, of God, truth, riches, and poverty, all round him thought it out of place and even rather funny, and his mother and aunts called him, with kindly irony, notre cher philosophe. But when he read novels, told improper anecdotes, went to see funny vaudevilles in the French theatre and gaily repeated the jokes, everybody admired and encouraged him. When he considered it right to limit his needs, wore an old overcoat, took no wine, everybody thought it strange and looked upon it as a kind of showing off; but when he spent large sums on hunting, or on furnishing a peculiar and luxurious study for himself, everybody admired his taste and gave him expensive presents to encourage his hobby. While he kept pure and meant to remain so till he married his friends prayed for his health, and even his mother was not grieved but rather pleased when she found out that he had become a real man and had gained over some French woman from his friend. (As to the episode with Katusha, the princess could not without horror think that he might possibly have married her.) In the same way, when Nekhludoff came of age, and gave the small estate he had inherited from his father to the peasants because he considered the holding of private property in land wrong, this step filled his mother and relations with dismay and served as an excuse for making fun of him to all his relatives. He was continually told that these peasants, after they had received the land, got no richer, but, on the contrary, poorer, having opened three public-houses and left off doing any work. But when Nekhludoff entered the Guards and spent and gambled away so much with his aristocratic companions that Elena Ivanovna, his mother, had to draw on her capital, she was hardly pained, considering it quite natural and even good that wild oats should be sown at an early age and in good company, as her son was doing. At first Nekhludoff struggled, but all that he had considered good while he had faith in himself was considered bad by others, and what he had considered evil was looked upon as good by those among whom he lived, and the struggle grew too hard. And at last Nekhludoff gave in, i.e., left off believing himself and began believing others. At first this giving up of faith in himself was unpleasant, but it did not long continue to be so. At that time he acquired the habit of smoking, and drinking wine, and soon got over this unpleasant feeling and even felt great relief.
Nekhludoff, with his passionate nature, gave himself thoroughly to the new way of life so approved of by all those around, and he entirely stifled the inner voice which demanded something different. This began after he moved to St. Petersburg, and reached its highest point when he entered the army.
Military life in general depraves men. It places them in conditions of complete idleness, i.e., absence of all useful work; frees them of their common human duties, which it replaces by merely conventional ones to the honour of the regiment, the uniform, the flag; and, while giving them on the one hand absolute power over other men, also puts them into conditions of servile obedience to those of higher rank than themselves.
But when, to the usual depraving influence of military service with its honours, uniforms, flags, its permitted violence and murder, there is added the depraving influence of riches and nearness to and intercourse with members of the Imperial family, as is the case in the chosen regiment of the Guards in which all the officers are rich and of good family, then this depraving influence creates in the men who succumb to it a perfect mania of selfishness. And this mania of selfishness attacked Nekhludoff from the moment he entered the army and began living in the way his companions lived. He had no occupation whatever except to dress in a uniform, splendidly made and well brushed by other people, and, with arms also made and cleaned and handed to him by others, ride to reviews on a fine horse which had been bred, broken in and fed by others. There, with other men like himself, he had to wave a sword, shoot off guns, and teach others to do the same. He had no other work, and the highly-placed persons, young and old, the Tsar and those near him, not only sanctioned his occupation but praised and thanked him for it.
After this was done, it was thought important to eat, and particularly to drink, in officers' clubs or the salons of the best restaurants, squandering large sums of money, which came from some invisible source; then theatres, ballets, women, then again riding on horseback, waving of swords and shooting, and again the squandering of money, the wine, cards, and women. This kind of life acts on military men even more depravingly than on others, because if any other than a military man lead such a life he cannot help being ashamed of it in the depth of his heart. A military man is, on the contrary, proud of a life of this kind especially at war time, and Nekhludoff had entered the army just after war with the Turks had been declared. "We are prepared to sacrifice our lives at the wars, and therefore a gay, reckless life is not only pardonable, but absolutely necessary for us, and so we lead it."
Such were Nekhludoff's confused thoughts at this period of his existence, and he felt all the time the delight of being free of the moral barriers he had formerly set himself. And the state he lived in was that of a chronic mania of selfishness. He was in this state when, after three years' absence, he came again to visit his aunts.
Nekhludoff went to visit his aunts because their estate lay near the road he had to travel in order to join his regiment, which had gone forward, because they had very warmly asked him to come, and especially because he wanted to see Katusha. Perhaps in his heart he had already formed those evil designs against Katusha which his now uncontrolled animal self suggested to him, but he did not acknowledge this as his intention, but only wished to go back to the spot where he had been so happy, to see his rather funny, but dear, kind-hearted old aunts, who always, without his noticing it, surrounded him with an atmosphere of love and admiration, and to see sweet Katusha, of whom he had retained so pleasant a memory.
He arrived at the end of March, on Good Friday, after the thaw had set in. It was pouring with rain so that he had not a dry thread on him and was feeling very cold, but yet vigorous and full of spirits, as always at that time. "Is she still with them?" he thought, as he drove into the familiar, old-fashioned courtyard, surrounded by a low brick wall, and now filled with snow off the roofs.
He expected she would come out when she heard the sledge bells but she did not. Two bare-footed women with pails and tucked-up skirts, who had evidently been scrubbing the floors, came out of the side door. She was not at the front door either, and only Tikhon, the man-servant, with his apron on, evidently also busy cleaning, came out into the front porch. His aunt Sophia Ivanovna alone met him in the ante-room; she had a silk dress on and a cap on her head. Both aunts had been to church and had received communion.
"Well, this is nice of you to come," said Sophia Ivanovna, kissing him. "Mary is not well, got tired in church; we have been to communion."
"I congratulate you, Aunt Sophia," [it is usual in Russia to congratulate those who have received communion] said Nekhludoff, kissing Sophia Ivanovna's hand. "Oh, I beg your pardon, I have made you wet."
"Go to your room--why you are soaking wet. Dear me, you have got moustaches! . . . Katusha! Katusha! Get him some coffee; be quick."
"Directly," came the sound of a well-known, pleasant voice from the passage, and Nekhludoff's heart cried out "She's here!" and it was as if the sun had come out from behind the clouds.
Nekhludoff, followed by Tikhon, went gaily to his old room to change his things. He felt inclined to ask Tikhon about Katusha; how she was, what she was doing, was she not going to be married? But Tikhon was so respectful and at the same time so severe, insisted so firmly on pouring the water out of the jug for him, that Nekhludoff could not make up his mind to ask him about Katusha, but only inquired about Tikhon's grandsons, about the old so-called "brother's" horse, and about the dog Polkan. All were alive except Polkan, who had gone mad the summer before.
When he had taken off all his wet things and just begun to dress again, Nekhludoff heard quick, familiar footsteps and a knock at the door. Nekhludoff knew the steps and also the knock. No one but she walked and knocked like that.
Having thrown his wet greatcoat over his shoulders, he opened the door.
"Come in." It was she, Katusha, the same, only sweeter than before. The slightly squinting naive black eyes looked up in the same old way. Now as then, she had on a white apron. She brought him from his aunts a piece of scented soap, with the wrapper just taken off, and two towels--one a long Russian embroidered one, the other a bath towel. The unused soap with the stamped inscription, the towels, and her own self, all were equally clean, fresh, undefiled and pleasant. The irrepressible smile of joy at the sight of him made the sweet, firm lips pucker up as of old.
"How do you do, Dmitri Ivanovitch?" she uttered with difficulty, her face suffused with a rosy blush.
"Good-morning! How do you do?" he said, also blushing. "Alive and well?"
"Yes, the Lord be thanked. And here is your favorite pink soap and towels from your aunts," she said, putting the soap on the table and hanging the towels over the back of a chair.
"There is everything here," said Tikhon, defending the visitor's independence, and pointing to Nekhludoff's open dressing case filled with brushes, perfume, fixatoire, a great many bottles with silver lids and all sorts of toilet appliances.
"Thank my aunts, please. Oh, how glad I am to be here," said Nekhludoff, his heart filling with light and tenderness as of old.
She only smiled in answer to these words, and went out. The aunts, who had always loved Nekhludoff, welcomed him this time more warmly than ever. Dmitri was going to the war, where he might be wounded or killed, and this touched the old aunts. Nekhludoff had arranged to stay only a day and night with his aunts, but when he had seen Katusha he agreed to stay over Easter with them and telegraphed to his friend Schonbock, whom he was to have joined in Odessa, that he should come and meet him at his aunts' instead.
As soon as he had seen Katusha Nekhludoff's old feelings toward her awoke again. Now, just as then, he could not see her white apron without getting excited; he could not listen to her steps, her voice, her laugh, without a feeling of joy; he could not look at her eyes, black as sloes, without a feeling of tenderness, especially when she smiled; and, above all, he could not notice without agitation how she blushed when they met. He felt he was in love, but not as before, when this love was a kind of mystery to him and he would not own, even to himself, that he loved, and when he was persuaded that one could love only once; now he knew he was in love and was glad of it, and knew dimly what this love consisted of and what it might lead to, though he sought to conceal it even from himself. In Nekhludoff, as in every man, there were two beings: one the spiritual, seeking only that kind of happiness for him self which should tend towards the happiness of all; the other, the animal man, seeking only his own happiness, and ready to sacrifice to it the happiness of the rest of the world. At this period of his mania of self-love brought on by life in Petersburg and in the army, this animal man ruled supreme and completely crushed the spiritual man in him.
But when he saw Katusha and experienced the same feelings as he had had three years before, the spiritual man in him raised its head once more and began to assert its rights. And up to Easter, during two whole days, an unconscious, ceaseless inner struggle went on in him.
He knew in the depths of his soul that he ought to go away, that there was no real reason for staying on with his aunts, knew that no good could come of it; and yet it was so pleasant, so delightful, that he did not honestly acknowledge the facts to himself and stayed on. On Easter eve, the priest and the deacon who came to the house to say mass had had (so they said) the greatest difficulty in getting over the three miles that lay between the church and the old ladies' house, coming across the puddles and the bare earth in a sledge.
Nekhludoff attended the mass with his aunts and the servants, and kept looking at Katusha, who was near the door and brought in the censers for the priests. Then having given the priests and his aunts the Easter kiss, though it was not midnight and therefore not Easter yet, he was already going to bed when he heard the old servant Matrona Pavlovna preparing to go to the church to get the koulitch and paski [Easter cakes] blest after the midnight service. "I shall go too," he thought.
The road to the church was impassable either in a sledge or on wheels, so Nekhludoff, who behaved in his aunts' house just as he did at home, ordered the old horse, "the brother's horse," to be saddled, and instead of going to bed he put on his gay uniform, a pair of tight-fitting riding breeches and his overcoat, and got on the old over-fed and heavy horse, which neighed continually all the way as he rode in the dark through the puddles and snow to the church.
For Nekhludoff this early mass remained for ever after one of the brightest and most vivid memories of his life. When he rode out of the darkness, broken only here and there by patches of white snow, into the churchyard illuminated by a row of lamps around the church, the service had already begun.
The peasants, recognising Mary Ivanovna's nephew, led his horse, which was pricking up its ears at the sight of the lights, to a dry place where he could get off, put it up for him, and showed him into the church, which was full of people. On the right stood the peasants; the old men in home-spun coats, and clean white linen bands [long strips of linen are worn by the peasants instead of stockings] wrapped round their legs, the young men in new cloth coats, bright-coloured belts round their waists, and top-boots.
On the left stood the women, with red silk kerchiefs on their heads, black velveteen sleeveless jackets, bright red shirt-sleeves, gay-coloured green, blue, and red skirts, and thick leather boots. The old women, dressed more quietly, stood behind them, with white kerchiefs, homespun coats, old-fashioned skirts of dark home-spun material, and shoes on their feet. Gaily-dressed children, their hair well oiled, went in and out among them.
The men, making the sign of the cross, bowed down and raised their heads again, shaking back their hair.
The women, especially the old ones, fixed their eyes on an icon surrounded with candies and made the sign of the cross, firmly pressing their folded fingers to the kerchief on their foreheads, to their shoulders, and their stomachs, and, whispering something, stooped or knelt down. The children, imitating the grown-up people, prayed earnestly when they knew that they were being observed. The gilt case containing the icon glittered, illuminated on all sides by tall candles ornamented with golden spirals. The candelabra was filled with tapers, and from the choir sounded most merry tunes sung by amateur choristers, with bellowing bass and shrill boys' voices among them.
Nekhludoff passed up to the front. In the middle of the church stood the aristocracy of the place: a landed proprietor, with his wife and son (the latter dressed in a sailor's suit), the police officer, the telegraph clerk, a tradesman in top-boots, and the village elder, with a medal on his breast; and to the right of the ambo, just behind the landed proprietor's wife, stood Matrona Pavlovna in a lilac dress and fringed shawl and Katusha in a white dress with a tucked bodice, blue sash, and red bow in her black hair.
Everything seemed festive, solemn, bright, and beautiful: the priest in his silver cloth vestments with gold crosses; the deacon, the clerk and chanter in their silver and gold surplices; the amateur choristers in their best clothes, with their well-oiled hair; the merry tunes of the holiday hymns that sounded like dance music; and the continual blessing of the people by the priests, who held candles decorated with flowers, and repeated the cry of "Christ is risen!" "Christ is risen!" All was beautiful; but, above all, Katusha, in her white dress, blue sash, and the red bow on her black head, her eyes beaming with rapture.
Nekhludoff knew that she felt his presence without looking at him. He noticed this as he passed her, walking up to the altar. He had nothing to tell her, but he invented something to say and whispered as he passed her: "Aunt told me that she would break her fast after the late mass." The young blood rushed up to Katusha's sweet face, as it always did when she looked at him. The black eyes, laughing and full of joy, gazed naively up and remained fixed on Nekhludoff.
"I know," she said, with a smile.
At this moment the clerk was going out with a copper coffee-pot [coffee-pots are often used for holding holy water in Russia] of holy water in his hand, and, not noticing Katusha, brushed her with his surplice. Evidently he brushed against Katusha through wishing to pass Nekhludoff at a respectful distance, and Nekhludoff was surprised that he, the clerk, did not understand that everything here, yes, and in all the world, only existed for Katusha, and that everything else might remain unheeded, only not she, because she was the centre of all. For her the gold glittered round the icons; for her all these candles in candelabra and candlesticks were alight; for her were sung these joyful hymns, "Behold the Passover of the Lord" "Rejoice, O ye people!" All--all that was good in the world was for her. And it seemed to him that Katusha was aware that it was all for her when he looked at her well-shaped figure, the tucked white dress, the wrapt, joyous expression of her face, by which he knew that just exactly the same that was singing in his own soul was also singing in hers.
In the interval between the early and the late mass Nekhludoff left the church. The people stood aside to let him pass, and bowed. Some knew him; others asked who he was.
He stopped on the steps. The beggars standing there came clamouring round him, and he gave them all the change he had in his purse and went down. It was dawning, but the sun had not yet risen. The people grouped round the graves in the churchyard. Katusha had remained inside. Nekhludoff stood waiting for her.
The people continued coming out, clattering with their nailed boots on the stone steps and dispersing over the churchyard. A very old man with shaking head, his aunts' cook, stopped Nekhludoff in order to give him the Easter kiss, his old wife took an egg, dyed yellow, out of her handkerchief and gave it to Nekhludoff, and a smiling young peasant in a new coat and green belt also came up.
"Christ is risen," he said, with laughing eyes, and coming close to Nekhludoff he enveloped him in his peculiar but pleasant peasant smell, and, tickling him with his curly beard, kissed him three times straight on the mouth with his firm, fresh lips.
While the peasant was kissing Nekhludoff and giving him a dark brown egg, the lilac dress of Matrona Pavlovna and the dear black head with the red bow appeared.
Katusha caught sight of him over the heads of those in front of her, and he saw how her face brightened up.
She had come out with Matrona Pavlovna on to the porch, and stopped there distributing alms to the beggars. A beggar with a red scab in place of a nose came up to Katusha. She gave him something, drew nearer him, and, evincing no sign of disgust, but her eyes still shining with joy, kissed him three times. And while she was doing this her eyes met Nekhludoff's with a look as if she were asking, "Is this that I am doing right?" "Yes, dear, yes, it is right; everything is right, everything is beautiful. I love!"
They came down the steps of the porch, and he came up to them.
He did not mean to give them the Easter kiss, but only to be nearer to her. Matrona Pavlovna bowed her head, and said with a smile, "Christ is risen!" and her tone implied, "To-day we are all equal." She wiped her mouth with her handkerchief rolled into a ball and stretched her lips towards him.
"He is, indeed," answered Nekhludoff, kissing her. Then he looked at Katusha; she blushed, and drew nearer. "Christ is risen, Dmitri Ivanovitch." "He is risen, indeed," answered Nekhludoff, and they kissed twice, then paused as if considering whether a third kiss were necessary, and, having decided that it was, kissed a third time and smiled.
"You are going to the priests?" asked Nekhludoff.
"No, we shall sit out here a bit, Dmitri Ivanovitch," said Katusha with effort, as if she had accomplished some joyous task, and, her whole chest heaving with a deep sigh, she looked straight in his face with a look of devotion, virgin purity, and love, in her very slightly squinting eyes.
In the love between a man and a woman there always comes a moment when this love has reached its zenith--a moment when it is unconscious, unreasoning, and with nothing sensual about it. Such a moment had come for Nekhludoff on that Easter eve. When he brought Katusha back to his mind, now, this moment veiled all else; the smooth glossy black head, the white tucked dress closely fitting her graceful maidenly form, her, as yet, un-developed bosom, the blushing cheeks, the tender shining black eyes with their slight squint heightened by the sleepless night, and her whole being stamped with those two marked features, purity and chaste love, love not only for him (he knew that), but for everybody and everything, not for the good alone, but for all that is in the world, even for that beggar whom she had kissed.
He knew she had that love in her because on that night and morning he was conscious of it in himself, and conscious that in this love he became one with her. Ah! if it had all stopped there, at the point it had reached that night. "Yes, all that horrible business had not yet happened on that Easter eve!" he thought, as he sat by the window of the jurymen's room.
When he returned from church Nekhludoff broke the fast with his aunts and took a glass of spirits and some wine, having got into that habit while with his regiment, and when he reached his room fell asleep at once, dressed as he was. He was awakened by a knock at the door. He knew it was her knock, and got up, rubbing his eyes and stretching himself.
"Katusha, is it you? Come in," said he.
She opened the door.
"Dinner is ready," she said. She still had on the same white dress, but not the bow in her hair. She looked at him with a smile, as if she had communicated some very good news to him.
"I am coming," he answered, as he rose, taking his comb to arrange his hair.
She stood still for a minute, and he, noticing it, threw down his comb and made a step towards her, but at that very moment she turned suddenly and went with quick light steps along the strip of carpet in the middle of the passage.
"Dear me, what a fool I am," thought Nekhludoff. "Why did I not stop her?" What he wanted her for he did not know himself, but he felt that when she came into his room something should have been done, something that is generally done on such occasions, and that he had left it undone.
"Katusha, wait," he said.
"What do you want?" she said, stopping.
"Nothing, only--" and, with an effort, remembering how men in his position generally behave, he put his arm round her waist.
She stood still and looked into his eyes.
"Don't, Dmitri Ivanovitch, you must not," she said, blushing to tears and pushing away his arm with her strong hard hand. Nekhludoff let her go, and for a moment he felt not only confused and ashamed but disgusted with himself. He should now have believed himself, and then he would have known that this confusion and shame were caused by the best feelings of his soul demanding to be set free; but he thought it was only his stupidity and that he ought to behave as every one else did. He caught her up and kissed her on the neck.
This kiss was very different from that first thoughtless kiss behind the lilac bush, and very different to the kiss this morning in the churchyard. This was a dreadful kiss, and she felt it.
"Oh, what are you doing?" she cried, in a tone as if he had irreparably broken something of priceless value, and ran quickly away.
He came into the dining-room. His aunts, elegantly dressed, their family doctor, and a neighbour were already there. Everything seemed so very ordinary, but in Nekhludoff a storm was raging. He understood nothing of what was being said and gave wrong answers, thinking only of Katusha. The sound of her steps in the passage brought back the thrill of that last kiss and he could think of nothing else. When she came into the room he, without looking round, felt her presence with his whole being and had to force himself not to look at her.
After dinner he at once went into his bedroom and for a long time walked up and down in great excitement, listening to every sound in the house and expecting to hear her steps. The animal man inside him had now not only lifted its head, but had succeeded in trampling under foot the spiritual man of the days of his first visit, and even of that every morning. That dreadful animal man alone now ruled over him.
Though he was watching for her all day he could not manage to meet her alone. She was probably trying to evade him. In the evening, however, she was obliged to go into the room next to his. The doctor had been asked to stay the night, and she had to make his bed. When he heard her go in Nekhludoff followed her, treading softly and holding his breath as if he were going to commit a crime.
She was putting a clean pillow-case on the pillow, holding it by two of its corners with her arms inside the pillow-case. She turned round and smiled, not a happy, joyful smile as before, but in a frightened, piteous way. The smile seemed to tell him that what he was doing was wrong. He stopped for a moment. There was still the possibility of a struggle. The voice of his real love for her, though feebly, was still speaking of her, her feelings, her life. Another voice was saying, "Take care I don't let the opportunity for your own happiness, your own enjoyment, slip by!" And this second voice completely stifled the first. He went up to her with determination and a terrible, ungovernable animal passion took possession of him.
With his arm round he made her sit down on the bed; and feeling that there was something more to be done he sat down beside her.
"Dmitri Ivanovitch, dear! please let me go," she said, with a piteous voice. "Matrona Pavlovna is coming," she cried, tearing herself away. Some one was really coming to the door.
"Well, then, I'll come to you in the night," he whispered. "You'll be alone?"
"What are you thinking of? On no account. No, no!" she said, but only with her lips; the tremulous confusion of her whole being said something very different.
It was Matrona Pavlovna who had come to the door. She came in with a blanket over her arm, looked reproachfully at Nekhludoff, and began scolding Katusha for having taken the wrong blanket.
Nekhludoff went out in silence, but he did not even feel ashamed. He could see by Matrona Pavlovna's face that she was blaming him, he knew that she was blaming him with reason and felt that he was doing wrong, but this novel, low animal excitement, having freed itself of all the old feelings of real love for Katusha, ruled supreme, leaving room for nothing else. He went about as if demented all the evening, now into his aunts', then back into his own room, then out into the porch, thinking all the time how he could meet her alone; but she avoided him, and Matrona Pavlovna watched her closely.
And so the evening passed and night came. The doctor went to bed. Nekhludoff's aunts had also retired, and he knew that Matrona Pavlovna was now with them in their bedroom so that Katusha was sure to be alone in the maids' sitting-room. He again went out into the porch. It was dark, damp and warm out of doors, and that white spring mist which drives away the last snow, or is diffused by the thawing of the last snow, filled the air. From the river under the hill, about a hundred steps from the front door, came a strange sound. It was the ice breaking. Nekhludoff came down the steps and went up to the window of the maids' room, stepping over the puddles on the bits of glazed snow. His heart was beating so fiercely in his breast that he seemed to hear it, his laboured breath came and went in a burst of long-drawn sighs. In the maids' room a small lamp was burning, and Katusha sat alone by the table, looking thoughtfully in front of her. Nekhludoff stood a long time without moving and waited to see what she, not knowing that she was observed, would do. For a minute or two she did not move; then she lifted her eyes, smiled and shook her head as if chiding herself, then changed her pose and dropped both her arms on the table and again began gazing down in front of her. He stood and looked at her, involuntarily listening to the beating of his own heart and the strange sounds from the river. There on the river, beneath the white mist, the unceasing labour went on, and sounds as of something sobbing, cracking, dropping, being shattered to pieces mixed with the tinkling of the thin bits of ice as they broke against each other like glass.
There he stood, looking at Katusha's serious, suffering face, which betrayed the inner struggle of her soul, and he felt pity for her; but, strange though it may seem, this pity only confirmed him in his evil intention.
He knocked at the window. She started as if she had received an electric shock, her whole body trembled, and a look of horror came into her face. Then she jumped up, approached the window and brought her face up to the pane. The look of terror did not leave her face even when, holding her hands up to her eyes like blinkers and peering through the glass, she recognised him. Her face was unusually grave; he had never seen it so before. She returned his smile, but only in submission to him; there was no smile in her soul, only fear. He beckoned her with his hand to come out into the yard to him. But she shook her head and remained by the window. He brought his face close to the pane and was going to call out to her, but at that moment she turned to the door; evidently some one inside had called her. Nekhludoff moved away from the window. The fog was so dense that five steps from the house the windows could not be seen, but the light from the lamp shone red and huge out of a shapeless black mass. And on the river the same strange sounds went on, sobbing and rustling and cracking and tinkling. Somewhere in the fog, not far off, a cock crowed; another answered, and then others, far in the village took up the cry till the sound of the crowing blended into one, while all around was silent excepting the river. It was the second time the cocks crowed that night.
Nekhludoff walked up and down behind the corner of the house, and once or twice got into a puddle. Then again came up to the window. The lamp was still burning, and she was again sitting alone by the table as if uncertain what to do. He had hardly approached the window when she looked up. He knocked. Without looking who it was she at once ran out of the room, and he heard the outside door open with a snap. He waited for her near the side porch and put his arms round her without saying a word. She clung to him, put up her face, and met his kiss with her lips. Then the door again gave the same sort of snap and opened, and the voice of Matrona Pavlovna called out angrily, "Katusha!"
She tore herself away from him and returned into the maids' room. He heard the latch click, and then all was quiet. The red light disappeared and only the mist remained, and the bustle on the river went on. Nekhludoff went up to the window, nobody was to be seen; he knocked, but got no answer. He went back into the house by the front door, but could not sleep. He got up and went with bare feet along the passage to her door, next to Matrona Pavlovna's room. He heard Matrona Pavlovna snoring quietly, and was about to go on when she coughed and turned on her creaking bed, and his heart fell, and he stood immovable for about five minutes. When all was quiet and she began to snore peacefully again, he went on, trying to step on the boards that did not creak, and came to Katusha's door. There was no sound to be heard. She was probably awake, or else he would have heard her breathing. But as soon as he had whispered "Katusha" she jumped up and began to persuade him, as if angrily, to go away.
"Open! Let me in just for a moment! I implore you!" He hardly knew what he was saying.
* * * * * * *
When she left him, trembling and silent, giving no answer to his words, he again went out into the porch and stood trying to understand the meaning of what had happened.
It was getting lighter. From the river below the creaking and tinkling and sobbing of the breaking ice came still louder and a gurgling sound could now also be heard. The mist had begun to sink, and from above it the waning moon dimly lighted up something black and weird.
"What was the meaning of it all? Was it a great joy or a great misfortune that had befallen him?" he asked himself.
The next day the gay, handsome, and brilliant Schonbock joined Nekhludoff at his aunts' house, and quite won their hearts by his refined and amiable manner, his high spirits, his generosity, and his affection for Dmitri.
But though the old ladies admired his generosity it rather perplexed them, for it seemed exaggerated. He gave a rouble to some blind beggars who came to the gate, gave 15 roubles in tips to the servants, and when Sophia Ivanovna's pet dog hurt his paw and it bled, he tore his hemstitched cambric handkerchief into strips (Sophia Ivanovna knew that such handkerchiefs cost at least 15 roubles a dozen) and bandaged the dog's foot. The old ladies had never met people of this kind, and did not know that Schonbock owed 200,000 roubles which he was never going to pay, and that therefore 25 roubles more or less did not matter a bit to him. Schonbock stayed only one day, and he and Nekhludoff both, left at night. They could not stay away from their regiment any longer, for their leave was fully up.
At the stage which Nekhludoff's selfish mania had now reached he could think of nothing but himself. He was wondering whether his conduct, if found out, would be blamed much or at all, but he did not consider what Katusha was now going through, and what was going to happen to her.
He saw that Schonbock guessed his relations to her and this flattered his vanity.
"Ah, I see how it is you have taken such a sudden fancy to your aunts that you have been living nearly a week with them," Schonbock remarked when he had seen Katusha. "Well, I don't wonder--should have done the same. She's charming." Nekhludoff was also thinking that though it was a pity to go away before having fully gratified the cravings of his love for her, yet the absolute necessity of parting had its advantages because it put a sudden stop to relations it would have been very difficult for him to continue. Then he thought that he ought to give her some money, not for her, not because she might need it, but because it was the thing to do.
So he gave her what seemed to him a liberal amount, considering his and her station. On the day of his departure, after dinner, he went out and waited for her at the side entrance. She flushed up when she saw him and wished to pass by, directing his attention to the open door of the maids' room by a look, but he stopped her.
"I have come to say good-bye," he said, crumbling in his hand an envelope with a 100-rouble note inside. "There, I . . . "
She guessed what he meant, knit her brows, and shaking her head pushed his hand away.
"Take it; oh, you must!" he stammered, and thrust the envelope into the bib of her apron and ran back to his room, groaning and frowning as if he had hurt himself. And for a long time he went up and down writhing as in pain, and even stamping and groaning aloud as he thought of this last scene. "But what else could I have done? Is it not what happens to every one? And if every one does the same . . . well I suppose it can't be helped." In this way he tried to get peace of mind, but in vain. The recollection of what had passed burned his conscience. In his soul--in the very depths of his soul--he knew that he had acted in a base, cruel, cowardly manner, and that the knowledge of this act of his must prevent him, not only from finding fault with any one else, but even from looking straight into other people's eyes; not to mention the impossibility of considering himself a splendid, noble, high-minded fellow, as he did and had to do to go on living his life boldly and merrily. There was only one solution of the problem--i.e., not to think about it. He succeeded in doing so. The life he was now entering upon, the new surroundings, new friends, the war, all helped him to forget. And the longer he lived, the less he thought about it, until at last he forgot it completely.
Once only, when, after the war, he went to see his aunts in hopes of meeting Katusha, and heard that soon after his last visit she had left, and that his aunts had heard she had been confined somewhere or other and had gone quite to the bad, his heart ached. According to the time of her confinement, the child might or might not have been his. His aunts said she had gone wrong, that she had inherited her mother's depraved nature, and he was pleased to hear this opinion of his aunts'. It seemed to acquit him. At first he thought of trying to find her and her child, but then, just because in the depths of his soul he felt so ashamed and pained when thinking about her, he did not make the necessary effort to find her, but tried to forget his sin again and ceased to think about it. And now this strange coincidence brought it all back to his memory, and demanded from him the acknowledgment of the heartless, cruel cowardice which had made it possible for him to live these nine years with such a sin on his conscience. But he was still far from such an acknowledgment, and his only fear was that everything might now be found out, and that she or her advocate might recount it all and put him to shame before every one present.
In this state of mind Nekhludoff left the Court and went into the jurymen's room. He sat by the window smoking all the while, and hearing what was being said around him.
The merry merchant seemed with all his heart to sympathise with Smelkoff's way of spending his time. "There, old fellow, that was something like! Real Siberian fashion! He knew what he was about, no fear! That's the sort of wench for me."
The foreman was stating his conviction, that in some way or other the expert's conclusions were the important thing. Peter Gerasimovitch was joking about something with the Jewish clerk, and they burst out laughing. Nekhludoff answered all the questions addressed to him in monosyllables and longed only to be left in peace.
When the usher, with his sideways gait, called the jury back to the Court, Nekhludoff was seized with fear, as if he were not going to judge, but to be judged. In the depth of his soul he felt that he was a scoundrel, who ought to be ashamed to look people in the face, yet, by sheer force of habit, he stepped on to the platform in his usual self-possessed manner, and sat down, crossing his legs and playing with his pince-nez.
The prisoners had also been led out, and were now brought in again. There were some new faces in the Court witnesses, and Nekhludoff noticed that Maslova could not take her eyes off a very fat woman who sat in the row in front of the grating, very showily dressed in silk and velvet, a high hat with a large bow on her head, and an elegant little reticule on her arm, which was bare to the elbow. This was, as he subsequently found out, one of the witnesses, the mistress of the establishment to which Maslova had belonged.
The examination of the witnesses commenced: they were asked their names, religion, etc. Then, after some consultation as to whether the witnesses were to be sworn in or not, the old priest came in again, dragging his legs with difficulty, and, again arranging the golden cross on his breast, swore the witnesses and the expert in the same quiet manner, and with the same assurance that he was doing something useful and important.
The witnesses having been sworn, all but Kitaeva, the keeper of the house, were led out again. She was asked what she knew about this affair. Kitaeva nodded her head and the big hat at every sentence and smiled affectedly. She gave a very full and intelligent account, speaking with a strong German accent. First of all, the hotel servant Simeon, whom she knew, came to her establishment on behalf of a rich Siberian merchant, and she sent Lubov back with him. After a time Lubov returned with the merchant. The merchant was already somewhat intoxicated--she smiled as she said this--and went on drinking and treating the girls. He was short of money. He sent this same Lubov to his lodgings. He had taken a "predilection" to her. She looked at the prisoner as she said this.
Nekhludoff thought he saw Maslova smile here, and this seemed disgusting to him. A strange, indefinite feeling of loathing, mingled with suffering, arose in him.
"And what was your opinion of Maslova?" asked the blushing and confused applicant for a judicial post, appointed to act as Maslova's advocate.
"Zee ferry pesht," answered Kitaeva. "Zee yoong voman is etucated and elecant. She was prought up in a coot family and can reat French. She tid have a trop too moch sometimes, put nefer forcot herself. A ferry coot girl."
Katusha looked at the woman, then suddenly turned her eyes on the jury and fixed them on Nekhludoff, and her face grew serious and even severe. One of her serious eyes squinted, and those two strange eyes for some time gazed at Nekhludoff, who, in spite of the terrors that seized him, could not take his look off these squinting eyes, with their bright, clear whites.
He thought of that dreadful night, with its mist, the ice breaking on the river below, and when the waning moon, with horns turned upwards, that had risen towards morning, lit up something black and weird. These two black eyes now looking at him reminded him of this weird, black something. "She has recognised me," he thought, and Nekhludoff shrank as if expecting a blow. But she had not recognised him. She sighed quietly and again looked at the president. Nekhludoff also sighed. "Oh, if it would only get on quicker," he thought.
He now felt the same loathing and pity and vexation as when, out shooting, he was obliged to kill a wounded bird. The wounded bird struggles in the game bag. One is disgusted and yet feels pity, and one is in a hurry to kill the bird and forget it.
Such mixed feelings filled Nekhludoff's breast as he sat listening to the examination of the witnesses.
But, as if to spite him, the case dragged out to a great length. After each witness had been examined separately and the expert last of all, and a great number of useless questions had been put, with the usual air of importance, by the public prosecutor and by both advocates, the president invited the jury to examine the objects offered as material evidence. They consisted of an enormous diamond ring, which had evidently been worn on the first finger, and a test tube in which the poison had been analysed. These things had seals and labels attached to them.
Just as the witnesses were about to look at these things, the public prosecutor rose and demanded that before they did this the results of the doctor's examination of the body should be read. The president, who was hurrying the business through as fast as he could in order to visit his Swiss friend, though he knew that the reading of this paper could have no other effect than that of producing weariness and putting off the dinner hour, and that the public prosecutor wanted it read simply because he knew he had a right to demand it, had no option but to express his consent.
The secretary got out the doctor's report and again began to read in his weary lisping voice, making no distinction between the "r's" and "l's."
The external examination proved that:
"1. Theropont Smelkoff's height was six feet five inches.
"Not so bad, that. A very good size," whispered the merchant, with interest, into Nekhludoff's ear.
2. He looked about 40 years of age.
3. The body was of a swollen appearance.
4. The flesh was of a greenish colour, with dark spots in several places.
5. The skin was raised in blisters of different sizes and in places had come off in large pieces.
6. The hair was chestnut; it was thick, and separated easily from the skin when touched.
7. The eye-balls protruded from their sockets and the cornea had grown dim.
8. Out of the nostrils, both ears, and the mouth oozed serous liquid; the mouth was half open.
9. The neck had almost disappeared, owing to the swelling of the face and chest."
And so on and so on.
Four pages were covered with the 27 paragraphs describing all the details of the external examination of the enormous, fat, swollen, and decomposing body of the merchant who had been making merry in the town. The indefinite loathing that Nekhludoff felt was increased by the description of the corpse. Katusha's life, and the scrum oozing from the nostrils of the corpse, and the eyes that protruded out of their sockets, and his own treatment of her--all seemed to belong to the same order of things, and he felt surrounded and wholly absorbed by things of the same nature.
When the reading of the report of the external examination was ended, the president heaved a sigh and raised his hand, hoping it was finished; but the secretary at once went on to the description of the internal examination. The president's head again dropped into his hand and he shut his eyes. The merchant next to Nekhludoff could hardly keep awake, and now and then his body swayed to and fro. The prisoners and the gendarmes sat perfectly quiet.
The internal examination showed that:
"1. The skin was easily detachable from the bones of the skull, and there was no coagulated blood.
"2. The bones of the skull were of average thickness and in sound condition.
"3. On the membrane of the brain there were two discoloured spots about four inches long, the membrane itself being of a dull white." And so on for 13 paragraphs more. Then followed the names and signatures of the assistants, and the doctor's conclusion showing that the changes observed in the stomach, and to a lesser degree in the bowels and kidneys, at the postmortem examination, and described in the official report, gave great probability to the conclusion that Smelkoff's death was caused by poison which had entered his stomach mixed with alcohol. To decide from the state of the stomach what poison had been introduced was difficult; but it was necessary to suppose that the poison entered the stomach mixed with alcohol, since a great quantity of the latter was found in Smelkoff's stomach.
"He could drink, and no mistake," again whispered the merchant, who had just waked up.
The reading of this report had taken a full hour, but it had not satisfied the public prosecutor, for, when it had been read through and the president turned to him, saying, "I suppose it is superfluous to read the report of the examination of the internal organs?" he answered in a severe tone, without looking at the president, "I shall ask to have it read."
He raised himself a little, and showed by his manner that he had a right to have this report read, and would claim this right, and that if that were not granted it would serve as a cause of appeal.
The member of the Court with the big beard, who suffered from catarrh of the stomach, feeling quite done up, turned to the president:
"What is the use of reading all this? It is only dragging it out. These new brooms do not sweep clean; they only take a long while doing it."
The member with the gold spectacles said nothing, but only looked gloomily in front of him, expecting nothing good, either from his wife or life in general. The reading of the report commenced.
"In the year 188-, on February 15th, I, the undersigned, commissioned by the medical department, made an examination, No. 638," the secretary began again with firmness and raising the pitch of his voice as if to dispel the sleepiness that had overtaken all present, "in the presence of the assistant medical inspector, of the internal organs:
"1. The right lung and the heart (contained in a 6-lb. glass jar).
"2. The contents of the stomach (in a 6-lb. glass jar).
"3. The stomach itself (in a 6-lb. glass jar).
"4. The liver, the spleen and the kidneys (in a 9-lb. glass jar).
5. The intestines (in a 9-lb. earthenware jar)."
The president here whispered to one of the members, then stooped to the other, and having received their consent, he said: "The Court considers the reading of this report superfluous." The secretary stopped reading and folded the paper, and the public prosecutor angrily began to write down something. "The gentlemen of the jury may now examine the articles of material evidence," said the president. The foreman and several of the others rose and went to the table, not quite knowing what to do with their hands. They looked in turn at the glass, the test tube, and the ring. The merchant even tried on the ring.
"Ah! that was a finger," he said, returning to his place; "like a cucumber," he added. Evidently the image he had formed in his mind of the gigantic merchant amused him.
When the examination of the articles of material evidence was finished, the president announced that the investigation was now concluded and immediately called on the prosecutor to proceed, hoping that as the latter was also a man, he, too, might feel inclined to smoke or dine, and show some mercy on the rest. But the public prosecutor showed mercy neither to himself nor to any one else. He was very stupid by nature, but, besides this, he had had the misfortune of finishing school with a gold medal and of receiving a reward for his essay on "Servitude" when studying Roman Law at the University, and was therefore self-confident and self-satisfied in the highest degree (his success with the ladies also conducing to this) and his stupidity had become extraordinary.
When the word was given to him, he got up slowly, showing the whole of his graceful figure in his embroidered uniform. Putting his hand on the desk he looked round the room, slightly bowing his head, and, avoiding the eyes of the prisoners, began to read the speech he had prepared while the reports were being read.
"Gentlemen of the jury! The business that now lies before you is, if I may so express myself, very characteristic."
The speech of a public prosecutor, according to his views, should always have a social importance, like the celebrated speeches made by the advocates who have become distinguished. True, the audience consisted of three women--a semptress, a cook, and Simeon's sister--and a coachman; but this did not matter. The celebrities had begun in the same way. To be always at the height of his position, i.e., to penetrate into the depths of the psychological significance of crime and to discover the wounds of society, was one of the prosecutor's principles.
"You see before you, gentlemen of the jury, a crime characteristic, if I may so express myself, of the end of our century; bearing, so to say, the specific features of that very painful phenomenon, the corruption to which those elements of our present-day society, which are, so to say, particularly exposed to the burning rays of this process, are subject."
The public prosecutor spoke at great length, trying not to forget any of the notions he had formed in his mind, and, on the other hand, never to hesitate, and let his speech flow on for an hour and a quarter without a break.
Only once he stopped and for some time stood swallowing his saliva, but he soon mastered himself and made up for the interruption by heightened eloquence. He spoke, now with a tender, insinuating accent, stepping from foot to foot and looking at the jury, now in quiet, business-like tones, glancing into his notebook, then with a loud, accusing voice, looking from the audience to the advocates. But he avoided looking at the prisoners, who were all three fixedly gazing at him. Every new craze then in vogue among his set was alluded to in his speech; everything that then was, and some things that still are, considered to be the last words of scientific wisdom: the laws of heredity and inborn criminality, evolution and the struggle for existence, hypnotism and hypnotic influence.
According to his definition, the merchant Smelkoff was of the genuine Russian type, and had perished in consequence of his generous, trusting nature, having fallen into the hands of deeply degraded individuals.
Simeon Kartinkin was the atavistic production of serfdom, a stupefied, ignorant, unprincipled man, who had not even any religion. Euphemia was his mistress, and a victim of heredity; all the signs of degeneration were noticeable in her. The chief wire-puller in this affair was Maslova, presenting the phenomenon of decadence in its lowest form. "This woman," he said, looking at her, "has, as we have to-day heard from her mistress in this court, received an education; she cannot only read and write, but she knows French; she is illegitimate, and probably carries in her the germs of criminality. She was educated in an enlightened, noble family and might have lived by honest work, but she deserts her benefactress, gives herself up to a life of shame in which she is distinguished from her companions by her education, and chiefly, gentlemen of the jury, as you have heard from her mistress, by her power of acting on the visitors by means of that mysterious capacity lately investigated by science, especially by the school of Charcot, known by the name of hypnotic influence. By these means she gets hold of this Russian, this kind-hearted Sadko, [Sadko, the hero of a legend] the rich guest, and uses his trust in order first to rob and then pitilessly to murder him."
"Well, he is piling it on now, isn't he?" said the president with a smile, bending towards the serious member.
"A fearful blockhead!" said the serious member.
Meanwhile the public prosecutor went on with his speech. "Gentlemen of the jury," gracefully swaying his body, "the fate of society is to a certain extent in your power. Your verdict will influence it. Grasp the full meaning of this crime, the danger that awaits society from those whom I may perhaps be permitted to call pathological individuals, such as Maslova. Guard it from infection; guard the innocent and strong elements of society from contagion or even destruction."
And as if himself overcome by the significance of the expected verdict, the public prosecutor sank into his chair, highly delighted with his speech.
The sense of the speech, when divested of all its flowers of rhetoric, was that Maslova, having gained the merchant's confidence, hypnotised him and went to his lodgings with his key meaning to take all the money herself, but having been caught in the act by Simeon and Euphemia had to share it with them. Then, in order to hide the traces of the crime, she had returned to the lodgings with the merchant and there poisoned him.
After the prosecutor had spoken, a middle-aged man in swallow-tail coat and low-cut waistcoat showing a large half-circle of starched white shirt, rose from the advocates' bench and made a speech in defence of Kartinkin and Botchkova; this was an advocate engaged by them for 300 roubles. He acquitted them both and put all the blame on Maslova. He denied the truth of Maslova's statements that Botchkova and Kartinkin were with her when she took the money, laying great stress on the point that her evidence could not be accepted, she being charged with poisoning. "The 2,500 roubles," the advocate said, "could have been easily earned by two honest people getting from three to five roubles per day in tips from the lodgers. The merchant's money was stolen by Maslova and given away, or even lost, as she was not in a normal state."
The poisoning was committed by Maslova alone; therefore he begged the jury to acquit Kartinkin and Botchkova of stealing the money; or if they could not acquit them of the theft, at least to admit that it was done without any participation in the poisoning.
In conclusion the advocate remarked, with a thrust at the public prosecutor, that "the brilliant observations of that gentleman on heredity, while explaining scientific facts concerning heredity, were inapplicable in this case, as Botchkova was of unknown parentage." The public prosecutor put something down on paper with an angry look, and shrugged his shoulders in contemptuous surprise.
Then Maslova's advocate rose, and timidly and hesitatingly began his speech in her defence.
Without denying that she had taken part in the stealing of the money, he insisted on the fact that she had no intention of poisoning Smelkoff, but had given him the powder only to make him fall asleep. He tried to go in for a little eloquence in giving a description of how Maslova was led into a life of debauchery by a man who had remained unpunished while she had to bear all the weight of her fall; but this excursion into the domain of psychology was so unsuccessful that it made everybody feel uncomfortable. When he muttered something about men's cruelty and women's helplessness, the president tried to help him by asking him to keep closer to the facts of the case. When he had finished the public prosecutor got up to reply. He defended his position against the first advocate, saying that even if Botchkova was of unknown parentage the truth of the doctrine of heredity was thereby in no way invalidated, since the laws of heredity were so far proved by science that we can not only deduce the crime from heredity, but heredity from the crime. As to the statement made in defence of Maslova, that she was the victim of an imaginary (he laid a particularly venomous stress on the word imaginary) betrayer, he could only say that from the evidence before them it was much more likely that she had played the part of temptress to many and many a victim who had fallen into her hands. Having said this he sat down in triumph. Then the prisoners were offered permission to speak in their own defence.
Euphemia Botchkova repeated once more that she knew nothing about it and had taken part in nothing, and firmly laid the whole blame on Maslova. Simeon Kartinkin only repeated several times: "It is your business, but I am innocent; it's unjust." Maslova said nothing in her defence. Told she might do so by the president, she only lifted her eyes to him, cast a look round the room like a hunted animal, and, dropping her head, began to cry, sobbing aloud.
"What is the matter?" the merchant asked Nekhludoff, hearing him utter a strange sound. This was the sound of weeping fiercely kept back. Nekhludoff had not yet understood the significance of his present position, and attributed the sobs he could hardly keep back and the tears that filled his eyes to the weakness of his nerves. He put on his pince-nez in order to hide the tears, then got out his handkerchief and began blowing his nose.
Fear of the disgrace that would befall him if every one in the court knew of his conduct stifled the inner working of his soul. This fear was, during this first period, stronger than all else.
After the last words of the prisoners had been heard, the form in which the questions were to be put to the jury was settled, which also took some time. At last the questions were formulated, and the president began the summing up.
Before putting the case to the jury, he spoke to them for some time in a pleasant, homely manner, explaining that burglary was burglary and theft was theft, and that stealing from a place which was under lock and key was stealing from a place under lock and key. While he was explaining this, he looked several times at Nekhludoff as if wishing to impress upon him these important facts, in hopes that, having understood it, Nekhludoff would make his fellow-jurymen also understand it. When he considered that the jury were sufficiently imbued with these facts, he proceeded to enunciate another truth--namely, that a murder is an action which has the death of a human being as its consequence, and that poisoning could therefore also be termed murder. When, according to his opinion, this truth had also been received by the jury, he went on to explain that if theft and murder had been committed at the same time, the combination of the crimes was theft with murder.
Although he was himself anxious to finish as soon as possible, although he knew that his Swiss friend would be waiting for him, he had grown so used to his occupation that, having begun to speak, he could not stop himself, and therefore he went on to impress on the jury with much detail that if they found the prisoners guilty, they would have the right to give a verdict of guilty; and if they found them not guilty, to give a verdict of not guilty; and if they found them guilty of one of the crimes and not of the other, they might give a verdict of guilty on the one count and of not guilty on the other. Then he explained that though this right was given them they should use it with reason.
He was going to add that if they gave an affirmative answer to any question that was put to them they would thereby affirm everything included in the question, so that if they did not wish to affirm the whole of the question they should mention the part of the question they wished to be excepted. But, glancing at the clock, and seeing it was already five minutes to three, he resolved to trust to their being intelligent enough to understand this without further comment.
"The facts of this case are the following," began the president, and repeated all that had already been said several times by the advocates, the public prosecutor and the witnesses.
The president spoke, and the members on each side of him listened with deeply-attentive expressions, but looked from time to time at the clock, for they considered the speech too long though very good--i.e., such as it ought to be. The public prosecutor, the lawyers, and, in fact, everyone in the court, shared the same impression. The president finished the summing up. Then he found it necessary to tell the jury what they all knew, or might have found out by reading it up--i.e., how they were to consider the case, count the votes, in case of a tie to acquit the prisoners, and so on.
Everything seemed to have been told; but no, the president could not forego his right of speaking as yet. It was so pleasant to hear the impressive tones of his own voice, and therefore he found it necessary to say a few words more about the importance of the rights given to the jury, how carefully they should use the rights and how they ought not to abuse them, about their being on their oath, that they were the conscience of society, that the secrecy of the debating-room should be considered sacred, etc.
From the time the president commenced his speech, Maslova watched him without moving her eyes as if afraid of losing a single word; so that Nekhludoff was not afraid of meeting her eyes and kept looking at her all the time. And his mind passed through those phases in which a face which we have not seen for many years first strikes us with the outward changes brought about during the time of separation, and then gradually becomes more and more like its old self, when the changes made by time seem to disappear, and before our spiritual eyes rises only the principal expression of one exceptional, unique individuality. Yes, though dressed in a prison cloak, and in spite of the developed figure, the fulness of the bosom and lower part of the face, in spite of a few wrinkles on the forehead and temples and the swollen eyes, this was certainly the same Katusha who, on that Easter eve, had so innocently looked up to him whom she loved, with her fond, laughing eyes full of joy and life.
"What a strange coincidence that after ten years, during which I never saw her, this case should have come up today when I am on the jury, and that it is in the prisoners' dock that I see her again! And how will it end? Oh, dear, if they would only get on quicker."
Still he would not give in to the feelings of repentance which began to arise within him. He tried to consider it all as a coincidence, which would pass without infringing his manner of life. He felt himself in the position of a puppy, when its master, taking it by the scruff of its neck, rubs its nose in the mess it has made. The puppy whines, draws back and wants to get away as far as possible from the effects of its misdeed, but the pitiless master does not let go.
And so, Nekhludoff, feeling all the repulsiveness of what he had done, felt also the powerful hand of the Master, but he did not feel the whole significance of his action yet and would not recognise the Master's hand. He did not wish to believe that it was the effect of his deed that lay before him, but the pitiless hand of the Master held him and he felt he could not get away. He was still keeping up his courage and sat on his chair in the first row in his usual self-possessed pose, one leg carelessly thrown over the other, and playing with his pince-nez. Yet all the while, in the depths of his soul, he felt the cruelty, cowardice and baseness, not only of this particular action of his but of his whole self-willed, depraved, cruel, idle life; and that dreadful veil which had in some unaccountable manner hidden from him this sin of his and the whole of his subsequent life was beginning to shake, and he caught glimpses of what was covered by that veil.
At last the president finished his speech, and lifting the list of questions with a graceful movement of his arm he handed it to the foreman, who came up to take it. The jury, glad to be able to get into the debating-court, got up one after the other and left the room, looking as if a bit ashamed of themselves and again not knowing what to do with their hands. As soon as the door was closed behind them a gendarme came up to it, pulled his sword out of the scabbard, and, holding it up against his shoulder, stood at the door. The judges got up and went away. The prisoners were also led out. When the jury came into the debating-room the first thing they did was to take out their cigarettes, as before, and begin smoking. The sense of the unnaturalness and falseness of their position, which all of them had experienced while sitting in their places in the court, passed when they entered the debating-room and started smoking, and they settled down with a feeling of relief and at once began an animated conversation.
"'Tisn't the girl's fault. She's got mixed up in it," said the kindly merchant. "We must recommend her to mercy."
"That's just what we are going to consider," said the foreman. "We must not give way to our personal impressions."
"The president's summing up was good," remarked the colonel.
"Good? Why, it nearly sent me to sleep!"
"The chief point is that the servants could have known nothing about the money if Maslova had not been in accord with them," said the clerk of Jewish extraction.
"Well, do you think that it was she who stole the money?" asked one of the jury.
"I will never believe it," cried the kindly merchant; "it was all that red-eyed hag's doing."
"They are a nice lot, all of them," said the colonel.
"But she says she never went into the room."
"Oh, believe her by all means."
"I should not believe that jade, not for the world."
"Whether you believe her or not does not settle the question," said the clerk.
"The girl had the key," said the colonel.
"What if she had?" retorted the merchant.
"And the ring?"
"But didn't she say all about it?" again cried the merchant. "The fellow had a temper of his own, and had had a drop too much besides, and gave the girl a licking; what could be simpler? Well, then he's sorry--quite naturally. 'There, never mind,' says he; 'take this.' Why, I heard them say he was six foot five high; I should think he must have weighed about 20 stones."
"That's not the point," said Peter Gerasimovitch. "The question is, whether she was the instigator and inciter in this affair, or the servants?"
"It was not possible for the servants to do it alone; she had the key."
This kind of random talk went on for a considerable time. At last the foreman said: "I beg your pardon, gentlemen, but had we not better take our places at the table and discuss the matter? Come, please." And he took the chair.
The questions were expressed in the following manner.
1. Is the peasant of the village Borki, Krapivinskia district, Simeon Petrov Kartinkin, 33 years of age, guilty of having, in agreement with other persons, given the merchant Smelkoff, on the 17th January, 188-, in the town of N-----, with intent to deprive him of life, for the purpose of robbing him, poisoned brandy, which caused Smelkoff's death, and of having stolen from him about 2,500 roubles in money and a diamond ring?
2. Is the meschanka Euphemia Ivanovna Botchkova, 43 years of age, guilty of the crimes described above?
3. Is the meschanka Katerina Michaelovna Maslova, 27 years of age, guilty of the crimes described in the first question?
4. If the prisoner Euphemia Botchkova is not guilty according to the first question, is she not guilty of having, on the 17th January, in the town of N----, while in service at the hotel Mauritania, stolen from a locked portmanteau, belonging to the merchant Smelkoff, a lodger in that hotel, and which was in the room occupied by him, 2,500 roubles, for which object she unlocked the portmanteau with a key she brought and fitted to the lock?
The foreman read the first question.
"Well, gentlemen, what do you think?" This question was quickly answered. All agreed to say "Guilty," as if convinced that Kartinkin had taken part both in the poisoning and the robbery. An old artelshik, [member of an artel, an association of workmen, in which the members share profits and liabilities] whose answers were all in favour of acquittal, was the only exception.
The foreman thought he did not understand, and began to point out to him that everything tended to prove Kartinkin's guilt. The old man answered that he did understand, but still thought it better to have pity on him. "We are not saints ourselves," and he kept to his opinion.
The answer to the second question concerning Botchkova was, after much dispute and many exclamations, answered by the words, "Not guilty," there being no clear proofs of her having taken part in the poisoning--a fact her advocate had strongly insisted on. The merchant, anxious to acquit Maslova, insisted that Botchkova was the chief instigator of it all. Many of the jury shared this view, but the foreman, wishing to be in strict accord with the law, declared they had no grounds to consider her as an accomplice in the poisoning. After much disputing the foreman's opinion triumphed.
To the fourth question concerning Botchkova the answer was "Guilty." But on the artelshik's insistence she was recommended to mercy.
The third question, concerning Maslova, raised a fierce dispute. The foreman maintained she was guilty both of the poisoning and the theft, to which the merchant would not agree. The colonel, the clerk and the old artelshik sided with the merchant, the rest seemed shaky, and the opinion of the foreman began to gain ground, chiefly because all the jurymen were getting tired, and preferred to take up the view that would bring them sooner to a decision and thus liberate them.
From all that had passed, and from his former knowledge of Maslova, Nekhludoff was certain that she was innocent of both the theft and the poisoning. And he felt sure that all the others would come to the same conclusion. When he saw that the merchant's awkward defence (evidently based on his physical admiration for her, which he did not even try to hide) and the foreman's insistence, and especially everybody's weariness, were all tending to her condemnation, he longed to state his objections, yet dared not, lest his relations with Maslova should be discovered. He felt he could not allow things to go on without stating his objection; and, blushing and growing pale again, was about to speak when Peter Gerasimovitch, irritated by the authoritative manner of the foreman, began to raise his objections and said the very things Nekhludoff was about to say.
"Allow me one moment," he said. "You seem to think that her having the key proves she is guilty of the theft; but what could be easier than for the servants to open the portmanteau with a false key after she was gone?"
"Of course, of course," said the merchant.
"She could not have taken the money, because in her position she would hardly know what to do with it."
"That's just what I say," remarked the merchant.
"But it is very likely that her coming put the idea into the servants' heads and that they grasped the opportunity and shoved all the blame on her." Peter Gerasimovitch spoke so irritably that the foreman became irritated too, and went on obstinately defending the opposite views; but Peter Gerasimovitch spoke so convincingly that the majority agreed with him, and decided that Maslova was not guilty of stealing the money and that the ring was given her.
But when the question of her having taken part in the poisoning was raised, her zealous defender, the merchant, declared that she must be acquitted, because she could have no reason for the poisoning. The foreman, however, said that it was impossible to acquit her, because she herself had pleaded guilty to having given the powder.
"Yes, but thinking it was opium," said the merchant.
"Opium can also deprive one of life," said the colonel, who was fond of wandering from the subject, and he began telling how his brother-in-law's wife would have died of an overdose of opium if there had not been a doctor near at hand to take the necessary measures. The colonel told his story so impressively, with such self-possession and dignity, that no one had the courage to interrupt him. Only the clerk, infected by his example, decided to break in with a story of his own: "There are some who get so used to it that they can take 40 drops. I have a relative--," but the colonel would not stand the interruption, and went on to relate what effects the opium had on his brother-in-law's wife.
"But, gentlemen, do you know it is getting on towards five o'clock?" said one of the jury.
"Well, gentlemen, what are we to say, then?" inquired the foreman. "Shall we say she is guilty, but without intent to rob? And without stealing any property? Will that do?" Peter Gerasimovitch, pleased with his victory, agreed.
"But she must be recommended to mercy," said the merchant.
All agreed; only the old artelshik insisted that they should say "Not guilty."
"It comes to the same thing," explained the foreman; "without intent to rob, and without stealing any property. Therefore, 'Not guilty,' that's evident."
"All right; that'll do. And we recommend her to mercy," said the merchant, gaily.
They were all so tired, so confused by the discussions, that nobody thought of saying that she was guilty of giving the powder but without the intent of taking life. Nekhludoff was so excited that he did not notice this omission, and so the answers were written down in the form agreed upon and taken to the court.
Rabelais says that a lawyer who was trying a case quoted all sorts of laws, read 20 pages of judicial senseless Latin, and then proposed to the judges to throw dice, and if the numbers proved odd the defendant would be right, if not, the plaintiff.
It was much the same in this case. The resolution was taken, not because everybody agreed upon it, but because the president, who had been summing up at such length, omitted to say what he always said on such occasions, that the answer might be, "Yes, guilty, but without the intent of taking life;" because the colonel had related the story of his brother-in-law's wife at such great length; because Nekhludoff was too excited to notice that the proviso "without intent to take life" had been omitted, and thought that the words "without intent" nullified the conviction; because Peter Gerasimovitch had retired from the room while the questions and answers were being read, and chiefly because, being tired, and wishing to get away as soon as possible, all were ready to agree with the decision which would bring matters to an end soonest.
The jurymen rang the bell. The gendarme who had stood outside the door with his sword drawn put the sword back into the scabbard and stepped aside. The judges took their seats and the jury came out one by one.
The foreman brought in the paper with an air of solemnity and handed it to the president, who looked at it, and, spreading out his hands in astonishment, turned to consult his companions. The president was surprised that the jury, having put in a proviso--without intent to rob--did not put in a second proviso--without intent to take life. From the decision of the jury it followed that Maslova had not stolen, nor robbed, and yet poisoned a man without any apparent reason.
"Just see what an absurd decision they have come to," he whispered to the member on his left. "This means penal servitude in Siberia, and she is innocent."
"Surely you do not mean to say she is innocent?" answered the serious member.
"Yes, she is positively innocent. I think this is a case for putting Article 817 into practice (Article 817 states that if the Court considers the decision of the jury unjust it may set it aside)."
"What do you think?" said the president, turning to the other member. The kindly member did not answer at once. He looked at the number on a paper before him and added up the figures; the sum would not divide by three. He had settled in his mind that if it did divide by three he would agree to the president's proposal, but though the sum would not so divide his kindness made him agree all the same.
"I, too, think it should be done," he said.
"And you?" asked the president, turning to the serious member.
"On no account," he answered, firmly. "As it is, the papers accuse the jury of acquitting prisoners. What will they say if the Court does it? I, shall not agree to that on any account."
The president looked at his watch. "It is a pity, but what's to be done?" and handed the questions to the foreman to read out. All got up, and the foreman, stepping from foot to foot, coughed, and read the questions and the answers. All the Court, secretary, advocates, and even the public prosecutor, expressed surprise. The prisoners sat impassive, evidently not understanding the meaning of the answers. Everybody sat down again, and the president asked the prosecutor what punishments the prisoners were to be subjected to.
The prosecutor, glad of his unexpected success in getting Maslova convicted, and attributing the success entirely to his own eloquence, looked up the necessary information, rose and said: "With Simeon Kartinkin I should deal according to Statute 1,452 paragraph 93. Euphemia Botchkova according to Statute . . ., etc. Katerina Maslova according to Statute . . ., etc."
All three punishments were the heaviest that could be inflicted.
"The Court will adjourn to consider the sentence," said the president, rising. Everybody rose after him, and with the pleasant feeling of a task well done began to leave the room or move about in it.
"D'you know, sirs, we have made a shameful hash of it?" said Peter Gerasimovitch, approaching Nekhludoff, to whom the foreman was relating something. "Why, we've got her to Siberia."
"What are you saying?" exclaimed Nekhludoff. This time he did not notice the teacher's familiarity.
"Why, we did not put in our answer 'Guilty, but without intent of causing death.' The secretary just told me the public prosecutor is for condemning her to 15 years' penal servitude."
"Well, but it was decided so," said the foreman.
Peter Gerasimovitch began to dispute this, saying that since she did not take the money it followed naturally that she could not have had any intention of committing murder.
"But I read the answer before going out," said the foreman, defending himself, "and nobody objected."
"I had just then gone out of the room," said Peter Gerasimovitch, turning to Nekhludoff, "and your thoughts must have been wool-gathering to let the thing pass."
"I never imagined this," Nekhludoff replied.
"Oh, you didn't?"
"Oh, well, we can get it put right," said Nekhludoff.
"Oh, dear no; it's finished."
Nekhludoff looked at the prisoners. They whose fate was being decided still sat motionless behind the grating in front of the soldiers. Maslova was smiling. Another feeling stirred in Nekhludoff's soul. Up to now, expecting her acquittal and thinking she would remain in the town, he was uncertain how to act towards her. Any kind of relations with her would be so very difficult. But Siberia and penal servitude at once cut off every possibility of any kind of relations with her. The wounded bird would stop struggling in the game-bag, and no longer remind him of its existence.
Peter Gerasimovitch's assumption was correct. The president came back from the debating room with a paper, and read as follows:--"April 28th, 188-. By His Imperial Majesty's ukase No. ----- The Criminal Court, on the strength of the decision of the jury, in accordance with Section 3 of Statute 771, Section 3 of Statutes 770 and 777, decrees that the peasant, Simeon Kartinkin, 33 years of age, and the meschanka Katerina Maslova, 27 years of age, are to be deprived of all property rights and to be sent to penal servitude in Siberia, Kartinkin for eight, Maslova for four years, with the consequences stated in Statute 25 of the code. The meschanka Botchkova, 43 years of age, to be deprived of all special personal and acquired rights, and to be imprisoned for three years with consequences in accord with Statute 48 of the code. The costs of the case to be borne equally by the prisoners; and, in the case of their being without sufficient property, the costs to be transferred to the Treasury. Articles of material evidence to be sold, the ring to be returned, the phials destroyed." Botchkova was condemned to prison, Simeon Kartinken and Katerina Maslova to the loss of all special rights and privileges and to penal servitude in Siberia, he for eight and she for four years.
Kartinkin stood holding his arms close to his sides and moving his lips. Botchkova seemed perfectly calm. Maslova, when she heard the sentence, blushed scarlet. "I'm not guilty, not guilty!" she suddenly cried, so that it resounded through the room. "It is a sin! I am not guilty! I never wished--I never thought! It is the truth I am saying--the truth!" and sinking on the bench she burst into tears and sobbed aloud. When Kartinkin and Botchkova went out she still sat crying, so that a gendarme had to touch the sleeve of her cloak.
"No; it is impossible to leave it as it is," said Nekhludoff to himself, utterly forgetting his bad thoughts. He did not know why he wished to look at her once more, but hurried out into the corridor. There was quite a crowd at the door. The advocates and jury were going out, pleased to have finished the business, and he was obliged to wait a few seconds, and when he at last got out into the corridor she was far in front. He hurried along the corridor after her, regardless of the attention he was arousing, caught her up, passed her, and stopped. She had ceased crying and only sobbed, wiping her red, discoloured face with the end of the kerchief on her head. She passed without noticing him. Then he hurried back to see the president. The latter had already left the court, and Nekhludoff followed him into the lobby and went up to him just as he had put on his light grey overcoat and was taking the silver-mounted walking-stick which an attendant was handing him.
"Sir, may I have a few words with you concerning some business I have just decided upon?" said Nekhludoff. "I am one of the jury."
"Oh, certainly, Prince Nekhludoff. I shall be delighted. I think we have met before," said the president, pressing Nekhludoff's hand and recalling with pleasure the evening when he first met Nekhludoff, and when he had danced so gaily, better than all the young people. "What can I do for you?"
"There is a mistake in the answer concerning Maslova. She is not guilty of the poisoning and yet she is condemned to penal servitude," said Nekhludoff, with a preoccupied and gloomy air.
"The Court passed the sentence in accordance with the answers you yourselves gave," said the president, moving towards the front door; "though they did not seem to be quite in accord." And he remembered that he had been going to explain to the jury that a verdict of "guilty" meant guilty of intentional murder unless the words "without intent to take life" were added, but had, in his hurry to get the business over, omitted to do so.
"Yes, but could not the mistake be rectified?"
"A reason for an appeal can always be found. You will have to speak to an advocate," said the president, putting on his hat a little to one side and continuing to move towards the door.
"But this is terrible."
"Well, you see, there were two possibilities before Maslova," said the president, evidently wishing to be as polite and pleasant to Nekhludoff as he could. Then, having arranged his whiskers over his coat collar, he put his hand lightly under Nekhludoff's elbow, and, still directing his steps towards the front door, he said, "You are going, too?"
"Yes," said Nekhludoff, quickly getting his coat, and following him.
They went out into the bright, merry sunlight, and had to raise their voices because of the rattling of the wheels on the pavement.
"The situation is a curious one, you see," said the president; "what lay before this Maslova was one of two things: either to be almost acquitted and only imprisoned for a short time, or, taking the preliminary confinement into consideration, perhaps not at all--or Siberia. There is nothing between. Had you but added the words, 'without intent to cause death,' she would have been acquitted."
"Yes, it was inexcusable of me to omit that," said Nekhludoff.
"That's where the whole matter lies," said the president, with a smile, and looked at his watch. He had only three-quarters of an hour left before the time appointed by his Clara would elapse.
"Now, if you like to speak to the advocates you'll have to find a reason for an appeal; that can be easily done." Then, turning to an isvostchik, he called out, "To the Dvoryanskaya 30 copecks; I never give more." "All right, your honour; here you are."
"Good-afternoon. If I can be of any use, my address is House Dvornikoff, on the Dvoryanskaya; it's easy to remember." And he bowed in a friendly manner as he got into the trap and drove off.
His conversation with the president and the fresh air quieted Nekhludoff a little. He now thought that the feelings experienced by him had been exaggerated by the unusual surroundings in which he had spent the whole of the morning, and by that wonderful and startling coincidence. Still, it was absolutely necessary to take some steps to lighten Maslova's fate, and to take them quickly. "Yes, at once! It will be best to find out here in the court where the advocate Fanarin or Mikishin lives." These were two well-known advocates whom Nekhludoff called to mind. He returned to the court, took off his overcoat, and went upstairs. In the first corridor he met Fanarin himself. He stopped him, and told him that he was just going to look him up on a matter of business.
Fanarin knew Nekhludoff by sight and name, and said he would be very glad to be of service to him.
"Though I am rather tired, still, if your business will not take very long, perhaps you might tell me what it is now. Will you step in here?" And he led Nekhludoff into a room, probably some judge's cabinet. They sat down by the table.
"Well, and what is your business?"
"First of all, I must ask you to keep the business private. I do not want it known that I take an interest in the affair."
"Oh, that of course. Well?"
"I was on the jury to-day, and we have condemned a woman to Siberia, an innocent woman. This bothers me very much." Nekhludoff, to his own surprise, blushed and became confused. Fanarin glanced at him rapidly, and looked down again, listening.
"We have condemned a woman, and I should like to appeal to a higher court."
"To the Senate, you mean," said Fanarin, correcting him.
"Yes, and I should like to ask you to take the case in hand." Nekhludoff wanted to get the most difficult part over, and added, "I shall take the costs of the case on myself, whatever they may be."
"Oh, we shall settle all that," said the advocate, smiling with condescension at Nekhludoff's inexperience in these matters. "What is the case?"
Nekhludoff stated what had happened.
"All right. I shall look the case through to-morrow or the day after--no--better on Thursday. If you will come to me at six o'clock I will give you an answer. Well, and now let us go; I have to make a few inquiries here."
Nekhludoff took leave of him and went out. This talk with the advocate, and the fact that he had taken measures for Maslova's defence, quieted him still further. He went out into the street. The weather was beautiful, and he joyfully drew in a long breath of spring air. He was at once surrounded by isvostchiks offering their services, but he went on foot. A whole swarm of pictures and memories of Katusha and his conduct to her began whirling in his brain, and he felt depressed and everything appeared gloomy. "No, I shall consider all this later on; I must now get rid of all these disagreeable impressions," he thought to himself.
He remembered the Korchagin's dinner and looked at his watch. It was not yet too late to get there in time. He heard the ring of a passing tramcar, ran to catch it, and jumped on. He jumped off again when they got to the market-place, took a good isvostchik, and ten minutes later was at the entrance of the Korchagins' big house.
"Please to walk in, your excellency," said the friendly, fat doorkeeper of the Korchagins' big house, opening the door, which moved noiselessly on its patent English hinges; "you are expected. They are at dinner. My orders were to admit only you." The doorkeeper went as far as the staircase and rang.
"Are there any strangers?" asked Nekhludoff, taking off his overcoat.
"Mr. Kolosoff and Michael Sergeivitch only, besides the family."
A very handsome footman with whiskers, in a swallow-tail coat and white gloves, looked down from the landing.
"Please to walk up, your excellency," he said. "You are expected."
Nekhludoff went up and passed through the splendid large dancing-room, which he knew so well, into the dining-room. There the whole Korchagin family--except the mother, Sophia Vasilievna, who never left her cabinet--were sitting round the table. At the head of the table sat old Korchagin; on his left the doctor, and on his right, a visitor, Ivan Ivanovitch Kolosoff, a former Marechal de Noblesse, now a bank director, Korchagin's friend and a Liberal. Next on the left side sat Miss Rayner, the governess of Missy's little sister, and the four-year-old girl herself. Opposite them, Missy's brother, Petia, the only son of the Korchagins, a public-school boy of the Sixth Class. It was because of his examinations that the whole family were still in town. Next to him sat a University student who was coaching him, and Missy's cousin, Michael Sergeivitch Telegin, generally called Misha; opposite him, Katerina Alexeevna, a 40-year-old maiden lady, a Slavophil; and at the foot of the table sat Missy herself, with an empty place by her side.
"Ah! that's right! Sit down. We are still at the fish," said old Korchagin with difficulty, chewing carefully with his false teeth, and lifting his bloodshot eyes (which had no visible lids to them) to Nekhludoff.
"Stephen!" he said, with his mouth full, addressing the stout, dignified butler, and pointing with his eyes to the empty place. Though Nekhludoff knew Korchagin very well, and had often seen him at dinner, to-day this red face with the sensual smacking lips, the fat neck above the napkin stuck into his waistcoat, and the whole over-fed military figure, struck him very disagreeably. Then Nekhludoff remembered, without wishing to, what he knew of the cruelty of this man, who, when in command, used to have men flogged, and even hanged, without rhyme or reason, simply because he was rich and had no need to curry favour.
"Immediately, your excellency," said Stephen, getting a large soup ladle out of the sideboard, which was decorated with a number of silver vases. He made a sign with his head to the handsome footman, who began at once to arrange the untouched knives and forks and the napkin, elaborately folded with the embroidered family crest uppermost, in front of the empty place next to Missy. Nekhludoff went round shaking hands with every one, and all, except old Korchagin and the ladies, rose when he approached. And this walk round the table, this shaking the hands of people, with many of whom he never talked, seemed unpleasant and odd. He excused himself for being late, and was about to sit down between Missy and Katerina Alexeevna, but old Korchagin insisted that if he would not take a glass of vodka he should at least take a bit of something to whet his appetite, at the side table, on which stood small dishes of lobster, caviare, cheese, and salt herrings. Nekhludoff did not know how hungry he was until he began to eat, and then, having taken some bread and cheese, he went on eating eagerly.
"Well, have you succeeded in undermining the basis of society?" asked Kolosoff, ironically quoting an expression used by a retrograde newspaper in attacking trial by jury. "Acquitted the culprits and condemned the innocent, have you?"
"Undermining the basis--undermining the basis," repeated Prince Korchagin, laughing. He had a firm faith in the wisdom and learning of his chosen friend and companion.
At the risk of seeming rude, Nekhludoff left Kolosoff's question unanswered, and sitting down to his steaming soup, went on eating.
"Do let him eat," said Missy, with a smile. The pronoun him she used as a reminder of her intimacy with Nekhludoff. Kolosoff went on in a loud voice and lively manner to give the contents of the article against trial by jury which had aroused his indignation. Missy's cousin, Michael Sergeivitch, endorsed all his statements, and related the contents of another article in the same paper. Missy was, as usual, very distinguee, and well, unobtrusively well, dressed.
"You must be terribly tired," she said, after waiting until Nekhludoff had swallowed what was in his mouth.
"Not particularly. And you? Have you been to look at the pictures?" he asked.
"No, we put that off. We have been playing tennis at the Salamatoffs'. It is quite true, Mr. Crooks plays remarkably well."
Nekhludoff had come here in order to distract his thoughts, for he used to like being in this house, both because its refined luxury had a pleasant effect on him and because of the atmosphere of tender flattery that unobtrusively surrounded him. But to-day everything in the house was repulsive to him--everything: beginning with the doorkeeper, the broad staircase, the flowers, the footman, the table decorations, up to Missy herself, who to-day seemed unattractive and affected. Kolosoff's self-assured, trivial tone of liberalism was unpleasant, as was also the sensual, self-satisfied, bull-like appearance of old Korchagin, and the French phrases of Katerina Alexeevna, the Slavophil. The constrained looks of the governess and the student were unpleasant, too, but most unpleasant of all was the pronoun _him_ that Missy had used. Nekhludoff had long been wavering between two ways of regarding Missy; sometimes he looked at her as if by moonlight, and could see in her nothing but what was beautiful, fresh, pretty, clever and natural; then suddenly, as if the bright sun shone on her, he saw her defects and could not help seeing them. This was such a day for him. To-day he saw all the wrinkles of her face, knew which of her teeth were false, saw the way her hair was crimped, the sharpness of her elbows, and, above all, how large her thumb-nail was and how like her father's.
"Tennis is a dull game," said Kolosoff; "we used to play lapta when we were children. That was much more amusing."
"Oh, no, you never tried it; it's awfully interesting," said Missy, laying, it seemed to Nekhludoff, a very affected stress on the word "awfully." Then a dispute arose in which Michael Sergeivitch, Katerina Alexeevna and all the others took part, except the governess, the student and the children, who sat silent and wearied.
"Oh, these everlasting disputes!" said old Korchagin, laughing, and he pulled the napkin out of his waistcoat, noisily pushed back his chair, which the footman instantly caught hold of, and left the table.
Everybody rose after him, and went up to another table on which stood glasses of scented water. They rinsed their mouths, then resumed the conversation, interesting to no one.
"Don't you think so?" said Missy to Nekhludoff, calling for a confirmation of the statement that nothing shows up a man's character like a game. She noticed that preoccupied and, as it seemed to her, dissatisfied look which she feared, and she wanted to find out what had caused it.
"Really, I can't tell; I have never thought about it," Nekhludoff answered.
"Will you come to mamma?" asked Missy.
"Yes, yes," he said, in a tone which plainly proved that he did not want to go, and took out a cigarette.
She looked at him in silence, with a questioning look, and he felt ashamed. "To come into a house and give the people the dumps," he thought about himself; then, trying to be amiable, said that he would go with pleasure if the princess would admit him.
"Oh, yes! Mamma will be pleased. You may smoke there; and Ivan Ivanovitch is also there."
The mistress of the house, Princess Sophia Vasilievna, was a recumbent lady. It was the eighth year that, when visitors were present, she lay in lace and ribbons, surrounded with velvet, gilding, ivory, bronze, lacquer and flowers, never going out, and only, as she put it, receiving intimate friends, i.e., those who according to her idea stood out from the common herd.
Nekhludoff was admitted into the number of these friends because he was considered clever, because his mother had been an intimate friend of the family, and because it was desirable that Missy should marry him.
Sophia Vasilievna's room lay beyond the large and the small drawing-rooms. In the large drawing-room, Missy, who was in front of Nekhludoff, stopped resolutely, and taking hold of the back of a small green chair, faced him.
Missy was very anxious to get married, and as he was a suitable match and she also liked him, she had accustomed herself to the thought that he should be hers (not she his). To lose him would be very mortifying. She now began talking to him in order to get him to explain his intentions.
"I see something has happened," she said. "Tell me, what is the matter with you?"
He remembered the meeting in the law court, and frowned and blushed.
"Yes, something has happened," he said, wishing to be truthful; "a very unusual and serious event."
"What is it, then? Can you not tell me what it is?" She was pursuing her aim with that unconscious yet obstinate cunning often observable in the mentally diseased.
"Not now. Please do not ask me to tell you. I have not yet had time fully to consider it," and he blushed still more.
"And so you will not tell me?" A muscle twitched in her face and she pushed back the chair she was holding. "Well then, come!" She shook her head as if to expel useless thoughts, and, faster than usual, went on in front of him.
He fancied that her mouth was unnaturally compressed in order to keep back the tears. He was ashamed of having hurt her, and yet he knew that the least weakness on his part would mean disaster, i.e., would bind him to her. And to-day he feared this more than anything, and silently followed her to the princess's cabinet.
Princess Sophia Vasilievna, Missy's mother, had finished her very elaborate and nourishing dinner. (She had it always alone, that no one should see her performing this unpoetical function.) By her couch stood a small table with her coffee, and she was smoking a pachitos. Princess Sophia Vasilievna was a long, thin woman, with dark hair, large black eyes and long teeth, and still pretended to be young.
Her intimacy with the doctor was being talked about. Nekhludoff had known that for some time; but when he saw the doctor sitting by her couch, his oily, glistening beard parted in the middle, he not only remembered the rumours about them, but felt greatly disgusted. By the table, on a low, soft, easy chair, next to Sophia Vasilievna, sat Kolosoff, stirring his coffee. A glass of liqueur stood on the table. Missy came in with Nekhludoff, but did not remain in the room.
"When mamma gets tired of you and drives you away, then come to me," she said, turning to Kolosoff and Nekhludoff, speaking as if nothing had occurred; then she went away, smiling merrily and stepping noiselessly on the thick carpet.
"How do you do, dear friend? Sit down and talk," said Princess Sophia Vasilievna, with her affected but very naturally-acted smile, showing her fine, long teeth--a splendid imitation of what her own had once been. "I hear that you have come from the Law Courts very much depressed. I think it must be very trying to a person with a heart," she added in French.
"Yes, that is so," said Nekhludoff. "One often feels one's own de--one feels one has no right to judge."
"Comme, c'est vrai," she cried, as if struck by the truth of this remark. She was in the habit of artfully flattering all those with whom she conversed. "Well, and what of your picture? It does interest me so. If I were not such a sad invalid I should have been to see it long ago," she said.
"I have quite given it up," Nekhludoff replied drily. The falseness of her flattery seemed as evident to him to-day as her age, which she was trying to conceal, and he could not put himself into the right state to behave politely.
"Oh, that _is_ a pity! Why, he has a real talent for art; I have it from Repin's own lips," she added, turning to Kolosoff.
"Why is it she is not ashamed of lying so?" Nekhludoff thought, and frowned.
When she had convinced herself that Nekhludoff was in a bad temper and that one could not get him into an agreeable and clever conversation, Sophia Vasilievna turned to Kolosoff, asking his opinion of a new play. She asked it in a tone as if Kolosoff's opinion would decide all doubts, and each word of this opinion be worthy of being immortalised. Kolosoff found fault both with the play and its author, and that led him to express his views on art. Princess Sophia Vasilievna, while trying at the same time to defend the play, seemed impressed by the truth of his arguments, either giving in at once, or at least modifying her opinion. Nekhludoff looked and listened, but neither saw nor heard what was going on before him.
Listening now to Sophia Vasilievna, now to Kolosoff, Nekhludoff noticed that neither he nor she cared anything about the play or each other, and that if they talked it was only to gratify the physical desire to move the muscles of the throat and tongue after having eaten; and that Kolosoff, having drunk vodka, wine and liqueur, was a little tipsy. Not tipsy like the peasants who drink seldom, but like people to whom drinking wine has become a habit. He did not reel about or talk nonsense, but he was in a state that was not normal; excited and self-satisfied. Nekhludoff also noticed that during the conversation Princess Sophia Vasilievna kept glancing uneasily at the window, through which a slanting ray of sunshine, which might vividly light up her aged face, was beginning to creep up.
"How true," she said in reference to some remark of Kolosoff's, touching the button of an electric bell by the side of her couch. The doctor rose, and, like one who is at home, left the room without saying anything. Sophia Vasilievna followed him with her eyes and continued the conversation.
"Please, Philip, draw these curtains," she said, pointing to the window, when the handsome footman came in answer to the bell. "No; whatever you may say, there is some mysticism in him; without mysticism there can be no poetry," she said, with one of her black eyes angrily following the footman's movements as he was drawing the curtains. "Without poetry, mysticism is superstition; without mysticism, poetry is--prose," she continued, with a sorrowful smile, still not losing sight of the footman and the curtains. "Philip, not that curtain; the one on the large window," she exclaimed, in a suffering tone. Sophia Vasilievna was evidently pitying herself for having to make the effort of saying these words; and, to soothe her feelings, she raised to her lips a scented, smoking cigarette with her jewel- bedecked fingers.
The broad-chested, muscular, handsome Philip bowed slightly, as if begging pardon; and stepping lightly across the carpet with his broad-calved, strong, legs, obediently and silently went to the other window, and, looking at the princess, carefully began to arrange the curtain so that not a single ray dared fall on her. But again he did not satisfy her, and again she had to interrupt the conversation about mysticism, and correct in a martyred tone the unintelligent Philip, who was tormenting her so pitilessly. For a moment a light flashed in Philip's eyes.
"'The devil take you! What do you want?' was probably what he said to himself," thought Nekhludoff, who had been observing all this scene. But the strong, handsome Philip at once managed to conceal the signs of his impatience, and went on quietly carrying out the orders of the worn, weak, false Sophia Vasilievna.
"Of course, there is a good deal of truth in Lombroso's teaching," said Kolosoff, lolling back in the low chair and looking at Sophia Vasilievna with sleepy eyes; "but he over-stepped the mark. Oh, yes."
"And you? Do you believe in heredity?" asked Sophia Vasilievna, turning to Nekhludoff, whose silence annoyed her. "In heredity?" he asked. "No, I don't." At this moment his whole mind was taken up by strange images that in some unaccountable way rose up in his imagination. By the side of this strong and handsome Philip he seemed at this minute to see the nude figure of Kolosoff as an artist's model; with his stomach like a melon, his bald head, and his arms without muscle, like pestles. In the same dim way the limbs of Sophia Vasilievna, now covered with silks and velvets, rose up in his mind as they must be in reality; but this mental picture was too horrid and he tried to drive it away.
"Well, you know Missy is waiting for you," she said. "Go and find her. She wants to play a new piece by Grieg to you; it is most interesting."
"She did not mean to play anything; the woman is simply lying, for some reason or other," thought Nekhludoff, rising and pressing Sophia Vasilievna's transparent and bony, ringed hand.
Katerina Alexeevna met him in the drawing-room, and at once began, in French, as usual:
"I see the duties of a juryman act depressingly upon you."
"Yes; pardon me, I am in low spirits to-day, and have no right to weary others by my presence," said Nekhludoff.
"Why are you in low spirits?"
"Allow me not to speak about that," he said, looking round for his hat.
"Don't you remember how you used to say that we must always tell the truth? And what cruel truths you used to tell us all! Why do you not wish to speak out now? Don't you remember, Missy?" she said, turning to Missy, who had just come in.
"We were playing a game then," said Nekhludoff, seriously; "one may tell the truth in a game, but in reality we are so bad--I mean I am so bad--that I, at least, cannot tell the truth."
"Oh, do not correct yourself, but rather tell us why _we_ are so bad," said Katerina Alexeevna, playing with her words and pretending not to notice how serious Nekhludoff was.
"Nothing is worse than to confess to being in low spirits," said Missy. "I never do it, and therefore am always in good spirits."
Nekhludoff felt as a horse must feel when it is being caressed to make it submit to having the bit put in its mouth and be harnessed, and to-day he felt less than ever inclined to draw.
"Well, are you coming into my room? We will try to cheer you up."
He excused himself, saying he had to be at home, and began taking leave. Missy kept his hand longer than usual.
"Remember that what is important to you is important to your friends," she said. "Are you coming tomorrow?"
"I hardly expect to," said Nekhludoff; and feeling ashamed, without knowing whether for her or for himself, he blushed and went away.
"What is it? _Comme cela m'intrigue_," said Katerina Alexeevna. "I must find it out. I suppose it is some _affaire d'amour propre; il est tres susceptible, notre cher Mitia_."
"_Plutot une affaire d'amour sale_," Missy was going to say, but stopped and looked down with a face from which all the light had gone--a very different face from the one with which she had looked at him. She would not mention to Katerina Alexeevna even, so vulgar a pun, but only said, "We all have our good and our bad days."
"Is it possible that he, too, will deceive?" she thought; "after all that has happened it would be very bad of him."
If Missy had had to explain what she meant by "after all that has happened," she could have said nothing definite, and yet she knew that he had not only excited her hopes but had almost given her a promise. No definite words had passed between them--only looks and smiles and hints; and yet she considered him as her own, and to lose him would be very hard.
"Shameful and stupid, horrid and shameful!" Nekhludoff kept saying to himself, as he walked home along the familiar streets. The depression he had felt whilst speaking to Missy would not leave him. He felt that, looking at it externally, as it were, he was in the right, for he had never said anything to her that could be considered binding, never made her an offer; but he knew that in reality he had bound himself to her, had promised to be hers. And yet to-day he felt with his whole being that he could not marry her.
"Shameful and horrid, horrid and shameful!" he repeated to himself, with reference not only to his relations with Missy but also to the rest. "Everything is horrid and shameful," he muttered, as he stepped into the porch of his house. "I am not going to have any supper," he said to his manservant Corney, who followed him into the dining-room, where the cloth was laid for supper and tea. "You may go."
"Yes, sir," said Corney, yet he did not go, but began clearing the supper off the table. Nekhludoff looked at Corney with a feeling of ill-will. He wished to be left alone, and it seemed to him that everybody was bothering him in order to spite him. When Corney had gone away with the supper things, Nekhludoff moved to the tea urn and was about to make himself some tea, but hearing Agraphena Petrovna's footsteps, he went hurriedly into the drawing-room, to avoid being seen by her, and shut the door after him. In this drawing-room his mother had died three months before. On entering the room, in which two lamps with reflectors were burning, one lighting up his father's and the other his mother's portrait, he remembered what his last relations with his mother had been. And they also seemed shameful and horrid. He remembered how, during the latter period of her illness, he had simply wished her to die. He had said to himself that he wished it for her sake, that she might be released from her suffering, but in reality he wished to be released from the sight of her sufferings for his own sake.
Trying to recall a pleasant image of her, he went up to look at her portrait, painted by a celebrated artist for 800 roubles. She was depicted in a very low-necked black velvet dress. There was something very revolting and blasphemous in this representation of his mother as a half-nude beauty. It was all the more disgusting because three months ago, in this very room, lay this same woman, dried up to a mummy. And he remembered how a few days before her death she clasped his hand with her bony, discoloured fingers, looked into his eyes, and said: "Do not judge me, Mitia, if I have not done what I should," and how the tears came into her eyes, grown pale with suffering.
"Ah, how horrid!" he said to himself, looking up once more at the half-naked woman, with the splendid marble shoulders and arms, and the triumphant smile on her lips. "Oh, how horrid!" The bared shoulders of the portrait reminded him of another, a young woman, whom he had seen exposed in the same way a few days before. It was Missy, who had devised an excuse for calling him into her room just as she was ready to go to a ball, so that he should see her in her ball dress. It was with disgust that he remembered her fine shoulders and arms. "And that father of hers, with his doubtful past and his cruelties, and the bel-esprit her mother, with her doubtful reputation." All this disgusted him, and also made him feel ashamed. "Shameful and horrid; horrid and shameful!"
"No, no," he thought; "freedom from all these false relations with the Korchagins and Mary Vasilievna and the inheritance and from all the rest must be got. Oh, to breathe freely, to go abroad, to Rome and work at my picture!" He remembered the doubts he had about his talent for art. "Well, never mind; only just to breathe freely. First Constantinople, then Rome. Only just to get through with this jury business, and arrange with the advocate first."
Then suddenly there arose in his mind an extremely vivid picture of a prisoner with black, slightly-squinting eyes, and how she began to cry when the last words of the prisoners had been heard; and he hurriedly put out his cigarette, pressing it into the ash-pan, lit another, and began pacing up and down the room. One after another the scenes he had lived through with her rose in his mind. He recalled that last interview with her. He remembered the white dress and blue sash, the early mass. "Why, I loved her, really loved her with a good, pure love, that night; I loved her even before: yes, I loved her when I lived with my aunts the first time and was writing my composition." And he remembered himself as he had been then. A breath of that freshness, youth and fulness of life seemed to touch him, and he grew painfully sad. The difference between what he had been then and what he was now, was enormous--just as great, if not greater than the difference between Katusha in church that night, and the prostitute who had been carousing with the merchant and whom they judged this morning. Then he was free and fearless, and innumerable possibilities lay ready to open before him; now he felt himself caught in the meshes of a stupid, empty, valueless, frivolous life, out of which he saw no means of extricating himself even if he wished to, which he hardly did. He remembered how proud he was at one time of his straightforwardness, how he had made a rule of always speaking the truth, and really had been truthful; and how he was now sunk deep in lies: in the most dreadful of lies--lies considered as the truth by all who surrounded him. And, as far as he could see, there was no way out of these lies. He had sunk in the mire, got used to it, indulged himself in it.
How was he to break off his relations with Mary Vasilievna and her husband in such a way as to be able to look him and his children in the eyes? How disentangle himself from Missy? How choose between the two opposites--the recognition that holding land was unjust and the heritage from his mother? How atone for his sin against Katusha? This last, at any rate, could not be left as it was. He could not abandon a woman he had loved, and satisfy himself by paying money to an advocate to save her from hard labour in Siberia. She had not even deserved hard labour. Atone for a fault by paying money? Had he not then, when he gave her the money, thought he was atoning for his fault?
And he clearly recalled to mind that moment when, having caught her up in the passage, he thrust the money into her bib and ran away. "Oh, that money!" he thought with the same horror and disgust he had then felt. "Oh, dear! oh, dear! how disgusting," he cried aloud as he had done then. "Only a scoundrel, a knave, could do such a thing. And I am that knave, that scoundrel!" He went on aloud: "But is it possible?"--he stopped and stood still--"is it possible that I am really a scoundrel? . . . Well, who but I?" he answered himself. "And then, is this the only thing?" he went on, convicting himself. "Was not my conduct towards Mary Vasilievna and her husband base and disgusting? And my position with regard to money? To use riches considered by me unlawful on the plea that they are inherited from my mother? And the whole of my idle, detestable life? And my conduct towards Katusha to crown all? Knave and scoundrel! Let men judge me as they like, I can deceive them; but myself I cannot deceive."
And, suddenly, he understood that the aversion he had lately, and particularly to-day, felt for everybody--the Prince and Sophia Vasilievna and Corney and Missy--was an aversion for himself. And, strange to say, in this acknowledgement of his baseness there was something painful yet joyful and quieting.
More than once in Nekhludoff's life there had been what he called a "cleansing of the soul." By "cleansing of the soul" he meant a state of mind in which, after a long period of sluggish inner life, a total cessation of its activity, he began to clear out all the rubbish that had accumulated in his soul, and was the cause of the cessation of the true life. His soul needed cleansing as a watch does. After such an awakening Nekhludoff always made some rules for himself which he meant to follow forever after, wrote his diary, and began afresh a life which he hoped never to change again. "Turning over a new leaf," he called it to himself in English. But each time the temptations of the world entrapped him, and without noticing it he fell again, often lower than before.
Thus he had several times in his life raised and cleansed himself. The first time this happened was during the summer he spent with his aunts; that was his most vital and rapturous awakening, and its effects had lasted some time. Another awakening was when he gave up civil service and joined the army at war time, ready to sacrifice his life. But here the choking-up process was soon accomplished. Then an awakening came when he left the army and went abroad, devoting himself to art.
From that time until this day a long period had elapsed without any cleansing, and therefore the discord between the demands of his conscience and the life he was leading was greater than it had ever been before. He was horror-struck when he saw how great the divergence was. It was so great and the defilement so complete that he despaired of the possibility of getting cleansed. "Have you not tried before to perfect yourself and become better, and nothing has come of it?" whispered the voice of the tempter within. "What is the use of trying any more? Are you the only one?--All are alike, such is life," whispered the voice. But the free spiritual being, which alone is true, alone powerful, alone eternal, had already awakened in Nekhludoff, and he could not but believe it. Enormous though the distance was between what he wished to be and what he was, nothing appeared insurmountable to the newly-awakened spiritual being.
"At any cost I will break this lie which binds me and confess everything, and will tell everybody the truth, and act the truth," he said resolutely, aloud. "I shall tell Missy the truth, tell her I am a profligate and cannot marry her, and have only uselessly upset her. I shall tell Mary Vasilievna. . . Oh, there is nothing to tell her. I shall tell her husband that I, scoundrel that I am, have been deceiving him. I shall dispose of the inheritance in such a way as to acknowledge the truth. I shall tell her, Katusha, that I am a scoundrel and have sinned towards her, and will do all I can to ease her lot. Yes, I will see her, and will ask her to forgive me.
"Yes, I will beg her pardon, as children do." . . . He stopped---"will marry her if necessary." He stopped again, folded his hands in front of his breast as he used to do when a little child, lifted his eyes, and said, addressing some one: "Lord, help me, teach me, come enter within me and purify me of all this abomination."
He prayed, asking God to help him, to enter into him and cleanse him; and what he was praying for had happened already: the God within him had awakened his consciousness. He felt himself one with Him, and therefore felt not only the freedom, fulness and joy of life, but all the power of righteousness. All, all the best that a man could do he felt capable of doing.
His eyes filled with tears as he was saying all this to himself, good and bad tears: good because they were tears of joy at the awakening of the spiritual being within him, the being which had been asleep all these years; and bad tears because they were tears of tenderness to himself at his own goodness.
He felt hot, and went to the window and opened it. The window opened into a garden. It was a moonlit, quiet, fresh night; a vehicle rattled past, and then all was still. The shadow of a tall poplar fell on the ground just opposite the window, and all the intricate pattern of its bare branches was clearly defined on the clean swept gravel. To the left the roof of a coach-house shone white in the moonlight, in front the black shadow of the garden wall was visible through the tangled branches of the trees.
Nekhludoff gazed at the roof, the moonlit garden, and the shadows of the poplar, and drank in the fresh, invigorating air.
"How delightful, how delightful; oh, God, how delightful," he said, meaning that which was going on in his soul.
Maslova reached her cell only at six in the evening, tired and footsore, having, unaccustomed as she was to walking, gone 10 miles on the stony road that day. She was crushed by the unexpectedly severe sentence and tormented by hunger. During the first interval of her trial, when the soldiers were eating bread and hard-boiled eggs in her presence, her mouth watered and she realised she was hungry, but considered it beneath her dignity to beg of them. Three hours later the desire to eat had passed, and she felt only weak. It was then she received the unexpected sentence. At first she thought she had made a mistake; she could not imagine herself as a convict in Siberia, and could not believe what she heard. But seeing the quiet, business-like faces of judges and jury, who heard this news as if it were perfectly natural and expected, she grew indignant, and proclaimed loudly to the whole Court that she was not guilty. Finding that her cry was also taken as something natural and expected, and feeling incapable of altering matters, she was horror-struck and began to weep in despair, knowing that she must submit to the cruel and surprising injustice that had been done her. What astonished her most was that young men--or, at any rate, not old men--the same men who always looked so approvingly at her (one of them, the public prosecutor, she had seen in quite a different humour) had condemned her. While she was sitting in the prisoners' room before the trial and during the intervals, she saw these men looking in at the open door pretending they had to pass there on some business, or enter the room and gaze on her with approval. And then, for some unknown reason, these same men had condemned her to hard labour, though she was innocent of the charge laid against her. At first she cried, but then quieted down and sat perfectly stunned in the prisoners' room, waiting to be led back. She wanted only two things now--tobacco and strong drink. In this state Botchkova and Kartinkin found her when they were led into the same room after being sentenced. Botchkova began at once to scold her, and call her a "convict."
"Well! What have you gained? justified yourself, have you? What you have deserved, that you've got. Out in Siberia you'll give up your finery, no fear!"
Maslova sat with her hands inside her sleeves, hanging her head and looking in front of her at the dirty floor without moving, only saying: "I don't bother you, so don't you bother me. I don't bother you, do I?" she repeated this several times, and was silent again. She did brighten up a little when Botchkova and Kartinkin were led away and an attendant brought her three roubles.
"Are you Maslova?" he asked. "Here you are; a lady sent it you," he said, giving her the money.
"A lady--what lady?"
"You just take it. I'm not going to talk to you."
This money was sent by Kitaeva, the keeper of the house in which she used to live. As she was leaving the court she turned to the usher with the question whether she might give Maslova a little money. The usher said she might. Having got permission, she removed the three-buttoned Swedish kid glove from her plump, white hand, and from an elegant purse brought from the back folds of her silk skirt took a pile of coupons, [in Russia coupons cut off interest-bearing papers are often used as money] just cut off from the interest-bearing papers which she had earned in her establishment, chose one worth 2 roubles and 50 copecks, added two 20 and one 10-copeck coins, and gave all this to the usher. The usher called an attendant, and in his presence gave the money.
"Belease to giff it accurately," said Carolina Albertovna Kitaeva.
The attendant was hurt by her want of confidence, and that was why he treated Maslova so brusquely. Maslova was glad of the money, because it could give her the only thing she now desired. "If I could but get cigarettes and take a whiff!" she said to herself, and all her thoughts centred on the one desire to smoke and drink. She longed for spirits so that she tasted them and felt the strength they would give her; and she greedily breathed in the air when the fumes of tobacco reached her from the door of a room that opened into the corridor. But she had to wait long, for the secretary, who should have given the order for her to go, forgot about the prisoners while talking and even disputing with one of the advocates about the article forbidden by the censor.
At last, about five o'clock, she was allowed to go, and was led away through the back door by her escort, the Nijni man and the Tchoovash. Then, still within the entrance to the Law Courts, she gave them 50 copecks, asking them to get her two rolls and some cigarettes. The Tchoovash laughed, took the money, and said, "All right; I'll get 'em," and really got her the rolls and the cigarettes and honestly returned the change. She was not allowed to smoke on the way, and, with her craving unsatisfied, she continued her way to the prison. When she was brought to the gate of the prison, a hundred convicts who had arrived by rail were being led in. The convicts, bearded, clean-shaven, old, young, Russians, foreigners, some with their heads shaved and rattling with the chains on their feet, filled the anteroom with dust, noise and an acid smell of perspiration. Passing Maslova, all the convicts looked at her, and some came up to her and brushed her as they passed.
"Ay, here's a wench--a fine one," said one.
"My respects to you, miss," said another, winking at her. One dark man with a moustache, the rest of his face and the back of his head clean shaved, rattling with his chains and catching her feet in them, sprang near and embraced her.
"What! don't you know your chum? Come, come; don't give yourself airs," showing his teeth and his eyes glittering when she pushed him away.
"You rascal! what are you up to?" shouted the inspector's assistant, coming in from behind. The convict shrank back and jumped away. The assistant assailed Maslova.
"What are you here for?"
Maslova was going to say she had been brought back from the Law Courts, but she was so tired that she did not care to speak.
"She has returned from the Law Courts, sir," said one of the soldiers, coming forward with his fingers lifted to his cap.
"Well, hand her over to the chief warder. I won't have this sort of thing."
"Sokoloff, take her in!" shouted the assistant inspector.
The chief warder came up, gave Maslova a slap on the shoulder, and making a sign with his head for her to follow led her into the corridor of the women's ward. There she was searched, and as nothing prohibited was found on her (she had hidden her box of cigarettes inside a roll) she was led to the cell she had left in the morning.
The cell in which Maslova was imprisoned was a large room 21 feet long and 10 feet broad; it had two windows and a large stove. Two-thirds of the space were taken up by shelves used as beds. The planks they were made of had warped and shrunk. Opposite the door hung a dark-coloured icon with a wax candle sticking to it and a bunch of everlastings hanging down from it. By the door to the right there was a dark spot on the floor on which stood a stinking tub. The inspection had taken place and the women were locked up for the night.
The occupants of this room were 15 persons, including three children. It was still quite light. Only two of the women were lying down: a consumptive woman imprisoned for theft, and an idiot who spent most of her time in sleep and who was arrested because she had no passport. The consumptive woman was not asleep, but lay with wide open eyes, her cloak folded under her head, trying to keep back the phlegm that irritated her throat, and not to cough.
Some of the other women, most of whom had nothing on but coarse brown holland chemises, stood looking out of the window at the convicts down in the yard, and some sat sewing. Among the latter was the old woman, Korableva, who had seen Maslova off in the morning. She was a tall, strong, gloomy-looking woman; her fair hair, which had begun to turn grey on the temples, hung down in a short plait. She was sentenced to hard labour in Siberia because she had killed her husband with an axe for making up to their daughter. She was at the head of the women in the cell, and found means of carrying on a trade in spirits with them. Beside her sat another woman sewing a coarse canvas sack. This was the wife of a railway watchman, [There are small watchmen's cottages at distances of about one mile from each other along the Russian railways, and the watchmen or their wives have to meet every train.] imprisoned for three months because she did not come out with the flags to meet a train that was passing, and an accident had occurred. She was a short, snub-nosed woman, with small, black eyes; kind and talkative. The third of the women who were sewing was Theodosia, a quiet young girl, white and rosy, very pretty, with bright child's eyes, and long fair plaits which she wore twisted round her head. She was in prison for attempting to poison her husband. She had done this immediately after her wedding (she had been given in marriage without her consent at the age of 16) because her husband would give her no peace. But in the eight months during which she had been let out on bail, she had not only made it up with her husband, but come to love him, so that when her trial came they were heart and soul to one another. Although her husband, her father-in-law, but especially her mother-in-law, who had grown very fond of her, did all they could to get her acquitted, she was sentenced to hard labour in Siberia. The kind, merry, ever-smiling Theodosia had a place next Maslova's on the shelf bed, and had grown so fond of her that she took it upon herself as a duty to attend and wait on her. Two other women were sitting without any work at the other end of the shelf bedstead. One was a woman of about 40, with a pale, thin face, who once probably had been very handsome. She sat with her baby at her thin, white breast. The crime she had committed was that when a recruit was, according to the peasants' view, unlawfully taken from their village, and the people stopped the police officer and took the recruit away from him, she (an aunt of the lad unlawfully taken) was the first to catch hold of the bridle of the horse on which he was being carried off. The other, who sat doing nothing, was a kindly, grey-haired old woman, hunchbacked and with a flat bosom. She sat behind the stove on the bedshelf, and pretended to catch a fat four-year-old boy, who ran backwards and forwards in front of her, laughing gaily. This boy had only a little shirt on and his hair was cut short. As he ran past the old woman he kept repeating, "There, haven't caught me!" This old woman and her son were accused of incendiarism. She bore her imprisonment with perfect cheerfulness, but was concerned about her son, and chiefly about her "old man," who she feared would get into a terrible state with no one to wash for him. Besides these seven women, there were four standing at one of the open windows, holding on to the iron bars. They were making signs and shouting to the convicts whom Maslova had met when returning to prison, and who were now passing through the yard. One of these women was big and heavy, with a flabby body, red hair, and freckled on her pale yellow face, her hands, and her fat neck. She shouted something in a loud, raucous voice, and laughed hoarsely. This woman was serving her term for theft. Beside her stood an awkward, dark little woman, no bigger than a child of ten, with a long waist and very short legs, a red, blotchy face, thick lips which did not hide her long teeth, and eyes too far apart. She broke by fits and starts into screeching laughter at what was going on in the yard. She was to be tried for stealing and incendiarism. They called her Khoroshavka. Behind her, in a very dirty grey chemise, stood a thin, miserable-looking pregnant woman, who was to be tried for concealment of theft. This woman stood silent, but kept smiling with pleasure and approval at what was going on below. With these stood a peasant woman of medium height, the mother of the boy who was playing with the old woman and of a seven-year-old girl. These were in prison with her because she had no one to leave them with. She was serving her term of imprisonment for illicit sale of spirits. She stood a little further from the window knitting a stocking, and though she listened to the other prisoners' words she shook her head disapprovingly, frowned, and closed her eyes. But her seven-year-old daughter stood in her little chemise, her flaxen hair done up in a little pigtail, her blue eyes fixed, and, holding the red-haired woman by the skirt, attentively listened to the words of abuse that the women and the convicts flung at each other, and repeated them softly, as if learning them by heart. The twelfth prisoner, who paid no attention to what was going on, was a very tall, stately girl, the daughter of a deacon, who had drowned her baby in a well. She went about with bare feet, wearing only a dirty chemise. The thick, short plait of her fair hair had come undone and hung down dishevelled, and she paced up and down the free space of the cell, not looking at any one, turning abruptly every time she came up to the wall.
When the padlock rattled and the door opened to let Maslova into the cell, all turned towards her. Even the deacon's daughter stopped for a moment and looked at her with lifted brows before resuming her steady striding up and down.
Korableva stuck her needle into the brown sacking and looked questioningly at Maslova through her spectacles. "Eh, eh, deary me, so you have come back. And I felt sure they'd acquit you. So you've got it?" She took off her spectacles and put her work down beside her on the shelf bed.
"And here have I and the old lady been saying, 'Why, it may well be they'll let her go free at once.' Why, it happens, ducky, they'll even give you a heap of money sometimes, that's sure," the watchman's wife began, in her singing voice: "Yes, we were wondering, 'Why's she so long?' And now just see what it is. Well, our guessing was no use. The Lord willed otherwise," she went on in musical tones.
"Is it possible? Have they sentenced you?" asked Theodosia, with concern, looking at Maslova with her bright blue, child-like eyes; and her merry young face changed as if she were going to cry.
Maslova did not answer, but went on to her place, the second from the end, and sat down beside Korableva.
"Have you eaten anything?" said Theodosia, rising and coming up to Maslova.
Maslova gave no reply, but putting the rolls on the bedstead, took off her dusty cloak, the kerchief off her curly black head, and began pulling off her shoes. The old woman who had been playing with the boy came up and stood in front of Maslova. "Tz, tz, tz," she clicked with her tongue, shaking her head pityingly. The boy also came up with her, and, putting out his upper lip, stared with wide open eyes at the roll Maslova had brought. When Maslova saw the sympathetic faces of her fellow-prisoners, her lips trembled and she felt inclined to cry, but she succeeded in restraining herself until the old woman and the boy came up. When she heard the kind, pitying clicking of the old woman's tongue, and met the boy's serious eyes turned from the roll to her face, she could bear it no longer; her face quivered and she burst into sobs.
"Didn't I tell you to insist on having a proper advocate?" said Norableva. "Well, what is it? Exile?"
Maslova could not answer, but took from inside the roll a box of cigarettes, on which was a picture of a lady with hair done up very high and dress cut low in front, and passed the box to Korableva. Korableva looked at it and shook her head, chiefly because see did not approve of Maslova's putting her money to such bad use; but still she took out a cigarette, lit it at the lamp, took a puff, and almost forced it into Maslova's hand. Maslova, still crying, began greedily to inhale the tobacco smoke. "Penal servitude," she muttered, blowing out the smoke and sobbing.
"Don't they fear the Lord, the cursed soul-slayers?" muttered Korableva, "sentencing the lass for nothing." At this moment the sound of loud, coarse laughter came from the women who were still at the window. The little girl also laughed, and her childish treble mixed with the hoarse and screeching laughter of the others. One of the convicts outside had done something that produced this effect on the onlookers.
"Lawks! see the shaved hound, what he's doing," said the red-haired woman, her whole fat body shaking with laughter; and leaning against the grating she shouted meaning less obscene words.
"Ugh, the fat fright's cackling," said Korableva, who disliked the red-haired woman. Then, turning to Maslova again, she asked: "How many years?"
"Four," said Maslova, and the tears ran down her cheeks in such profusion that one fell on the cigarette. Maslova crumpled it up angrily and took another.
Though the watchman's wife did not smoke she picked up the cigarette Maslova had thrown away and began straightening it out, talking unceasingly.
"There, now, ducky, so it's true," she said. "Truth's gone to the dogs and they do what they please, and here we were guessing that you'd go free. Norableva says, 'She'll go free.' I say, 'No,' say I. 'No, dear, my heart tells me they'll give it her.' And so it's turned out," she went on, evidently listening with pleasure to her own voice.
The women who had been standing by the window now also came up to Maslova, the convicts who had amused them having gone away. The first to come up were the woman imprisoned for illicit trade in spirits, and her little girl. "Why such a hard sentence?" asked the woman, sitting down by Maslova and knitting fast.
"Why so hard? Because there's no money. That's why! Had there been money, and had a good lawyer that's up to their tricks been hired, they'd have acquitted her, no fear," said Korableva. "There's what's-his-name--that hairy one with the long nose. He'd bring you out clean from pitch, mum, he would. Ah, if we'd only had him!"
"Him, indeed," said Khoroshavka. "Why, he won't spit at you for less than a thousand roubles."
"Seems you've been born under an unlucky star," interrupted the old woman who was imprisoned for incendiarism. "Only think, to entice the lad's wife and lock him himself up to feed vermin, and me, too, in my old days--" she began to retell her story for the hundredth time. "If it isn't the beggar's staff it's the prison. Yes, the beggar's staff and the prison don't wait for an invitation."
"Ah, it seems that's the way with all of them," said the spirit trader; and after looking at her little girl she put down her knitting, and, drawing the child between her knees, began to search her head with deft fingers. "Why do you sell spirits?" she went on. "Why? but what's one to feed the children on?"
These words brought back to Maslova's mind her craving for drink.
"A little vodka," she said to Korableva, wiping the tears with her sleeve and sobbing less frequently.
"All right, fork out," said Korableva.
Maslova got the money, which she had also hidden in a roll, and passed the coupon to Korableva. Korableva accepted it, though she could not read, trusting to Khoroshavka, who knew everything, and who said that the slip of paper was worth 2 roubles 50 copecks, then climbed up to the ventilator, where she had hidden a small flask of vodka. Seeing this, the women whose places were further off went away. Meanwhile Maslova shook the dust out of her cloak and kerchief, got up on the bedstead, and began eating a roll.
"I kept your tea for you," said Theodosia, getting down from the shelf a mug and a tin teapot wrapped in a rag, "but I'm afraid it is quite cold." The liquid was quite cold and tasted more of tin than of tea, yet Maslova filled the mug and began drinking it with her roll. "Finashka, here you are," she said, breaking off a bit of the roll and giving it to the boy, who stood looking at her mouth.
Meanwhile Korableva handed the flask of vodka and a mug to Maslova, who offered some to her and to Khoroshavka. These prisoners were considered the aristocracy of the cell because they had some money, and shared what they possessed with the others.
In a few moments Maslova brightened up and related merrily what had happened at the court, and what had struck her most, i.e., how all the men had followed her wherever she went. In the court they all looked at her, she said, and kept coming into the prisoners' room while she was there.
"One of the soldiers even says, 'It's all to look at you that they come.' One would come in, 'Where is such a paper?' or something, but I see it is not the paper he wants; he just devours me with his eyes," she said, shaking her head. "Regular artists."
"Yes, that's so," said the watchman's wife, and ran on in her musical strain, "they're like flies after sugar."
"And here, too," Maslova interrupted her, "the same thing. They can do without anything else. But the likes of them will go without bread sooner than miss that! Hardly had they brought me back when in comes a gang from the railway. They pestered me so, I did not know how to rid myself of them. Thanks to the assistant, he turned them off. One bothered so, I hardly got away."
"What's he like?" asked Khoroshevka.
"Dark, with moustaches."
"It must be him."
"Why, Schegloff; him as has just gone by."
"What's he, this Schegloff?"
"What, she don't know Schegloff? Why, he ran twice from Siberia. Now they've got him, but he'll run away. The warders themselves are afraid of him," said Khoroshavka, who managed to exchange notes with the male prisoners and knew all that went on in the prison. "He'll run away, that's flat."
"If he does go away you and I'll have to stay," said Korableva, turning to Maslova, "but you'd better tell us now what the advocate says about petitioning. Now's the time to hand it in."
Maslova answered that she knew nothing about it.
At that moment the red-haired woman came up to the "aristocracy" with both freckled hands in her thick hair, scratching her head with her nails.
"I'll tell you all about it, Katerina," she began. "First and foremost, you'll have to write down you're dissatisfied with the sentence, then give notice to the Procureur."
"What do you want here?" said Korableva angrily; "smell the vodka, do you? Your chatter's not wanted. We know what to do without your advice."
"No one's speaking to you; what do you stick your nose in for?"
"It's vodka you want; that's why you come wriggling yourself in here."
"Well, offer her some," said Maslova, always ready to share anything she possessed with anybody.
"I'll offer her something."
"Come on then," said the red-haired one, advancing towards Korableva. "Ah! think I'm afraid of such as you?"
"That's her as says it."
"I? A slut? Convict! Murderess!" screamed the red-haired one.
"Go away, I tell you," said Korableva gloomily, but the red-haired one came nearer and Korableva struck her in the chest. The red-haired woman seemed only to have waited for this, and with a sudden movement caught hold of Korableva's hair with one hand and with the other struck her in the face. Korableva seized this hand, and Maslova and Khoroshavka caught the red-haired woman by her arms, trying to pull her away, but she let go the old woman's hair with her hand only to twist it round her fist. Korableva, with her head bent to one side, was dealing out blows with one arm and trying to catch the red-haired woman's hand with her teeth, while the rest of the women crowded round, screaming and trying to separate the fighters; even the consumptive one came up and stood coughing and watching the fight. The children cried and huddled together. The noise brought the woman warder and a jailer. The fighting women were separated; and Korableva, taking out the bits of torn hair from her head, and the red-haired one, holding her torn chemise together over her yellow breast, began loudly to complain.
"I know, it's all the vodka. Wait a bit; I'll tell the inspector tomorrow. He'll give it you. Can't I smell it? Mind, get it all out of the way, or it will be the worse for you," said the warder. "We've no time to settle your disputes. Get to your places and be quiet."
But quiet was not soon re-established. For a long time the women went on disputing and explaining to one another whose fault it all was. At last the warder and the jailer left the cell, the women grew quieter and began going to bed, and the old woman went to the icon and commenced praying.
"The two jailbirds have met," the red-haired woman suddenly called out in a hoarse voice from the other end of the shelf beds, accompanying every word with frightfully vile abuse.
"Mind you don't get it again," Korableva replied, also adding words of abuse, and both were quiet again.
"Had I not been stopped I'd have pulled your damned eyes out," again began the red-haired one, and an answer of the same kind followed from Korableva. Then again a short interval and more abuse. But the intervals became longer and longer, as when a thunder-cloud is passing, and at last all was quiet.
All were in bed, some began to snore; and only the old woman, who always prayed a long time, went on bowing before the icon and the deacon's daughter, who had got up after the warder left, was pacing up and down the room again. Maslova kept thinking that she was now a convict condemned to hard labour, and had twice been reminded of this--once by Botchkova and once by the red-haired woman--and she could not reconcile herself to the thought. Korableva, who lay next to her, turned over in her bed.
"There now," said Maslova in a low voice; "who would have thought it? See what others do and get nothing for it."
"Never mind, girl. People manage to live in Siberia. As for you, you'll not be lost there either," Korableva said, trying to comfort her.
"I know I'll not be lost; still it is hard. It's not such a fate I want--I, who am used to a comfortable life."
"Ah, one can't go against God," said Korableva, with a sigh. "One can't, my dear."
"I know, granny. Still, it's hard."
They were silent for a while.
"Do you hear that baggage?" whispered Korableva, drawing Maslova's attention to a strange sound proceeding from the other end of the room.
This sound was the smothered sobbing of the red-haired woman. The red-haired woman was crying because she had been abused and had not got any of the vodka she wanted so badly; also because she remembered how all her life she had been abused, mocked at, offended, beaten. Remembering this, she pitied herself, and, thinking no one heard her, began crying as children cry, sniffing with her nose and swallowing the salt tears.
"I'm sorry for her," said Maslova.
"Of course one is sorry," said Korableva, "but she shouldn't come bothering."
The next morning Nekhludoff awoke, conscious that something had happened to him, and even before he had remembered what it was he knew it to be something important and good.
"Katusha--the trial!" Yes, he must stop lying and tell the whole truth.
By a strange coincidence on that very morning he received the long-expected letter from Mary Vasilievna, the wife of the Marechal de Noblesse, the very letter he particularly needed. She gave him full freedom, and wished him happiness in his intended marriage.
"Marriage!" he repeated with irony. "How far I am from all that at present."
And he remembered the plans he had formed the day before, to tell the husband everything, to make a clean breast of it, and express his readiness to give him any kind of satisfaction. But this morning this did not seem so easy as the day before. And, then, also, why make a man unhappy by telling him what he does not know? Yes, if he came and asked, he would tell him all, but to go purposely and tell--no! that was unnecessary.
And telling the whole truth to Missy seemed just as difficult this morning. Again, he could not begin to speak without offence. As in many worldly affairs, something had to remain unexpressed. Only one thing he decided on, i.e., not to visit there, and to tell the truth if asked.
But in connection with Katusha, nothing was to remain unspoken. "I shall go to the prison and shall tell her every thing, and ask her to forgive me. And if need be--yes, if need be, I shall marry her," he thought.
This idea, that he was ready to sacrifice all on moral grounds, and marry her, again made him feel very tender towards himself. Concerning money matters he resolved this morning to arrange them in accord with his conviction, that the holding of landed property was unlawful. Even if he should not be strong enough to give up everything, he would still do what he could, not deceiving himself or others.
It was long since he had met the coming day with so much energy. When Agraphena Petrovna came in, he told her, with more firmness than he thought himself capable of, that he no longer needed this lodging nor her services. There had been a tacit understanding that he was keeping up so large and expensive an establishment because he was thinking of getting married. The giving up of the house had, therefore, a special meaning. Agraphena Petrovna looked at him in surprise.
"I thank you very much, Agraphena Petrovna, for all your care for me, but I no longer require so large a house nor so many servants. If you wish to help me, be so good as to settle about the things, put them away as it used to be done during mamma's life, and when Natasha comes she will see to everything." Natasha was Nekhludoff's sister.
Agraphena Petrovna shook her head. "See about the things? Why, they'll be required again," she said.
"No, they won't, Agraphena Petrovna; I assure you they won't be required," said Nekhludoff, in answer to what the shaking of her head had expressed. "Please tell Corney also that I shall pay him two months' wages, but shall have no further need of him."
"It is a pity, Dmitri Ivanovitch, that you should think of doing this," she said. "Well, supposing you go abroad, still you'll require a place of residence again."
"You are mistaken in your thoughts, Agraphena Petrovna; I am not going abroad. If I go on a journey, it will be to quite a different place." He suddenly blushed very red. "Yes, I must tell her," he thought; "no hiding; everybody must be told."
"A very strange and important thing happened to me yesterday. Do you remember my Aunt Mary Ivanovna's Katusha?"
"Oh, yes. Why, I taught her how to sew."
"Well, this Katusha was tried in the Court and I was on the jury."
"Oh, Lord! What a pity!" cried Agraphena Petrovna. "What was she being tried for?"
"Murder; and it is I have done it all."
"Well, now this is very strange; how could you do it all?"
"Yes, I am the cause of it all; and it is this that has altered all my plans."
"What difference can it make to you?"
"This difference: that I, being the cause of her getting on to that path, must do all I can to help her."
"That is just according to your own good pleasure; you are not particularly in fault there. It happens to every one, and if one's reasonable, it all gets smoothed over and forgotten," she said, seriously and severely. "Why should you place it to your account? There's no need. I had already heard before that she had strayed from the right path. Well, whose fault is it?"
"Mine! that's why I want to put it right."
"It is hard to put right."
"That is my business. But if you are thinking about yourself, then I will tell you that, as mamma expressed the wish--"
"I am not thinking about myself. I have been so bountifully treated by the dear defunct, that I desire nothing. Lisenka" (her married niece) "has been inviting me, and I shall go to her when I am not wanted any longer. Only it is a pity you should take this so to heart; it happens to everybody."
"Well, I do not think so. And I still beg that you will help me let this lodging and put away the things. And please do not be angry with me. I am very, very grateful to you for all you have done."
And, strangely, from the moment Nekhludoff realised that it was he who was so bad and disgusting to himself, others were no longer disgusting to him; on the contrary, he felt a kindly respect for Agraphena Petrovna, and for Corney.
He would have liked to go and confess to Corney also, but Corney's manner was so insinuatingly deferential that he had not the resolution to do it.
On the way to the Law Courts, passing along the same streets with the same isvostchik as the day before, he was surprised what a different being he felt himself to be. The marriage with Missy, which only yesterday seemed so probable, appeared quite impossible now. The day before he felt it was for him to choose, and had no doubts that she would be happy to marry him; to-day he felt himself unworthy not only of marrying, but even of being intimate with her. "If she only knew what I am, nothing would induce her to receive me. And only yesterday I was finding fault with her because she flirted with N---. Anyhow, even if she consented to marry me, could I be, I won't say happy, but at peace, knowing that the other was here in prison, and would to-day or to-morrow he taken to Siberia with a gang of other prisoners, while I accepted congratulations and made calls with my young wife; or while I count the votes at the meetings, for and against the motion brought forward by the rural inspection, etc., together with the Marechal de Noblesse, whom I abominably deceive, and afterwards make appointments with his wife (how abominable!) or while I continue to work at my picture, which will certainly never get finished? Besides, I have no business to waste time on such things. I can do nothing of the kind now," he continued to himself, rejoicing at the change he felt within himself. "The first thing now is to see the advocate and find out his decision, and then . . . then go and see her and tell her everything."
And when he pictured to himself how he would see her, and tell her all, confess his sin to her, and tell her that he would do all in his power to atone for his sin, he was touched at his own goodness, and the tears came to his eyes.
On coming into the Law Courts Nekhludoff met the usher of yesterday, who to-day seemed to him much to be pitied, in the corridor, and asked him where those prisoners who had been sentenced were kept, and to whom one had to apply for permission to visit them. The usher told him that the condemned prisoners were kept in different places, and that, until they received their sentence in its final form, the permission to visit them depended on the president. "I'll come and call you myself, and take you to the president after the session. The president is not even here at present. After the session! And now please come in; we are going to commence."
Nekhludoff thanked the usher for his kindness, and went into the jurymen's room. As he was approaching the room, the other jurymen were just leaving it to go into the court. The merchant had again partaken of a little refreshment, and was as merry as the day before, and greeted Nekhludoff like an old friend. And to-day Peter Gerasimovitch did not arouse any unpleasant feelings in Nekhludoff by his familiarity and his loud laughter. Nekhludoff would have liked to tell all the jurymen about his relations to yesterday's prisoner. "By rights," he thought, "I ought to have got up yesterday during the trial and disclosed my guilt."
He entered the court with the other jurymen, and witnessed the same procedure as the day before.
"The judges are coming," was again proclaimed, and again three men, with embroidered collars, ascended the platform, and there was the same settling of the jury on the high-backed chairs, the same gendarmes, the same portraits, the same priest, and Nekhludoff felt that, though he knew what he ought to do, he could not interrupt all this solemnity. The preparations for the trials were just the same as the day before, excepting that the swearing in of the jury and the president's address to them were omitted.
The case before the Court this day was one of burglary. The prisoner, guarded by two gendarmes with naked swords, was a thin, narrow-chested lad of 20, with a bloodless, sallow face, dressed in a grey cloak. He sat alone in the prisoner's dock. This boy was accused of having, together with a companion, broken the lock of a shed and stolen several old mats valued at 3 roubles [the rouble is worth a little over two shillings, and contains 100 copecks] and 67 copecks. According to the indictment, a policeman had stopped this boy as he was passing with his companion, who was carrying the mats on his shoulder. The boy and his companion confessed at once, and were both imprisoned. The boy's companion, a locksmith, died in prison, and so the boy was being tried alone. The old mats were lying on the table as the objects of material evidence. The business was conducted just in the same manner as the day before, with the whole armoury of evidence, proofs, witnesses, swearing in, questions, experts, and cross-examinations. In answer to every question put to him by the president, the prosecutor, or the advocate, the policeman (one of the witnesses) in variably ejected the words: "just so," or "Can't tell." Yet, in spite of his being stupefied, and rendered a mere machine by military discipline, his reluctance to speak about the arrest of this prisoner was evident. Another witness, an old house proprietor, and owner of the mats, evidently a rich old man, when asked whether the mats were his, reluctantly identified them as such. When the public prosecutor asked him what he meant to do with these mats, what use they were to him, he got angry, and answered: "The devil take those mats; I don't want them at all. Had I known there would be all this bother about them I should not have gone looking for them, but would rather have added a ten-rouble note or two to them, only not to be dragged here and pestered with questions. I have spent a lot on isvostchiks. Besides, I am not well. I have been suffering from rheumatism for the last seven years." It was thus the witness spoke.
The accused himself confessed everything, and looking round stupidly, like an animal that is caught, related how it had all happened. Still the public prosecutor, drawing up his shoulders as he had done the day before, asked subtle questions calculated to catch a cunning criminal.
In his speech he proved that the theft had been committed from a dwelling-place, and a lock had been broken; and that the boy, therefore, deserved a heavy punishment. The advocate appointed by the Court proved that the theft was not committed from a dwelling-place, and that, though the crime was a serious one, the prisoner was not so very dangerous to society as the prosecutor stated. The president assumed the role of absolute neutrality in the same way as he had done on the previous day, and impressed on the jury facts which they all knew and could not help knowing. Then came an interval, just as the day before, and they smoked; and again the usher called out "The judges are coming," and in the same way the two gendarmes sat trying to keep awake and threatening the prisoner with their naked weapons.
The proceedings showed that this boy was apprenticed by his father at a tobacco factory, where he remained five years. This year he had been discharged by the owner after a strike, and, having lost his place, he wandered about the town without any work, drinking all he possessed. In a traktir [cheap restaurant] he met another like himself, who had lost his place before the prisoner had, a locksmith by trade and a drunkard. One night, those two, both drunk, broke the lock of a shed and took the first thing they happened to lay hands on. They confessed all and were put in prison, where the locksmith died while awaiting the trial. The boy was now being tried as a dangerous creature, from whom society must be protected.
"Just as dangerous a creature as yesterday's culprit," thought Nekhludoff, listening to all that was going on before him. "They are dangerous, and we who judge them? I, a rake, an adulterer, a deceiver. We are not dangerous. But, even supposing that this boy is the most dangerous of all that are here in the court, what should be done from a common-sense point of view when he has been caught? It is clear that he is not an exceptional evil-doer, but a most ordinary boy; every one sees it--and that he has become what he is simply because he got into circumstances that create such characters, and, therefore, to prevent such a boy from going wrong the circumstances that create these unfortunate beings must be done away with.
"But what do we do? We seize one such lad who happens to get caught, knowing well that there are thousands like him whom we have not caught, and send him to prison, where idleness, or most unwholesome, useless labour is forced on him, in company of others weakened and ensnared by the lives they have led. And then we send him, at the public expense, from the Moscow to the Irkoutsk Government, in company with the most depraved of men.
"But we do nothing to destroy the conditions in which people like these are produced; on the contrary, we support the establishments where they are formed. These establishments are well known: factories, mills, workshops, public-houses, gin-shops, brothels. And we do not destroy these places, but, looking at them as necessary, we support and regulate them. We educate in this way not one, but millions of people, and then catch one of them and imagine that we have done something, that we have guarded ourselves, and nothing more can be expected of us. Have we not sent him from the Moscow to the Irkoutsk Government?" Thus thought Nekhludoff with unusual clearness and vividness, sitting in his high-backed chair next to the colonel, and listening to the different intonations of the advocates', prosecutor's, and president's voices, and looking at their self-confident gestures. "And how much and what hard effort this pretence requires," continued Nekhludoff in his mind, glancing round the enormous room, the portraits, lamps, armchairs, uniforms, the thick walls and large windows; and picturing to himself the tremendous size of the building, and the still more ponderous dimensions of the whole of this organisation, with its army of officials, scribes, watchmen, messengers, not only in this place, but all over Russia, who receive wages for carrying on this comedy which no one needs. "Supposing we spent one-hundredth of these efforts helping these castaways, whom we now only regard as hands and bodies, required by us for our own peace and comfort. Had some one chanced to take pity on him and given some help at the time when poverty made them send him to town, it might have been sufficient," Nekhludoff thought, looking at the boy's piteous face. "Or even later, when, after 12 hours' work at the factory, he was going to the public-house, led away by his companions, had some one then come and said, 'Don't go, Vania; it is not right,' he would not have gone, nor got into bad ways, and would not have done any wrong.
"But no; no one who would have taken pity on him came across this apprentice in the years he lived like a poor little animal in the town, and with his hair cut close so as not to breed vermin, and ran errands for the workmen. No, all he heard and saw, from the older workmen and his companions, since he came to live in town, was that he who cheats, drinks, swears, who gives another a thrashing, who goes on the loose, is a fine fellow. Ill, his constitution undermined by unhealthy labour, drink, and debauchery--bewildered as in a dream, knocking aimlessly about town, he gets into some sort of a shed, and takes from there some old mats, which nobody needs--and here we, all of us educated people, rich or comfortably off, meet together, dressed in good clothes and fine uniforms, in a splendid apartment, to mock this unfortunate brother of ours whom we ourselves have ruined.
"Terrible! It is difficult to say whether the cruelty or the absurdity is greater, but the one and the other seem to reach their climax."
Nekhludoff thought all this, no longer listening to what was going on, and he was horror-struck by that which was being revealed to him. He could not understand why he had not been able to see all this before, and why others were unable to see it.
During an interval Nekhludoff got up and went out into the corridor, with the intention of not returning to the court. Let them do what they liked with him, he could take no more part in this awful and horrid tomfoolery.
Having inquired where the Procureur's cabinet was he went straight to him. The attendant did not wish to let him in, saying that the Procureur was busy, but Nekhludoff paid no heed and went to the door, where he was met by an official. He asked to be announced to the Procureur, saying he was on the jury and had a very important communication to make.
His title and good clothes were of assistance to him. The official announced him to the Procureur, and Nekhludoff was let in. The Procureur met him standing, evidently annoyed at the persistence with which Nekhludoff demanded admittance.
"What is it you want?" the Procureur asked, severely.
"I am on the jury; my name is Nekhludoff, and it is absolutely necessary for me to see the prisoner Maslova," Nekhludoff said, quickly and resolutely, blushing, and feeling that he was taking a step which would have a decisive influence on his life.
The Procureur was a short, dark man, with short, grizzly hair, quick, sparkling eyes, and a thick beard cut close on his projecting lower jaw.
"Maslova? Yes, of course, I know. She was accused of poisoning," the Procureur said, quietly. "But why do you want to see her?" And then, as if wishing to tone down his question, he added, "I cannot give you the permission without knowing why you require it."
"I require it for a particularly important reason."
"Yes?" said the Procureur, and, lifting his eyes, looked attentively at Nekhludoff. "Has her case been heard or not?"
"She was tried yesterday, and unjustly sentenced; she is innocent."
"Yes? If she was sentenced only yesterday," went on the Procureur, paying no attention to Nekhludoff's statement concerning Maslova's innocence, "she must still be in the preliminary detention prison until the sentence is delivered in its final form. Visiting is allowed there only on certain days; I should advise you to inquire there."
"But I must see her as soon as possible," Nekhludoff said, his jaw trembling as he felt the decisive moment approaching.
"Why must you?" said the Procureur, lifting his brows with some agitation.
"Because I betrayed her and brought her to the condition which exposed her to this accusation."
"All the same, I cannot see what it has to do with visiting her."
"This: that whether I succeed or not in getting the sentence changed I want to follow her, and--marry her," said Nekhludoff, touched to tears by his own conduct, and at the same time pleased to see the effect he produced on the Procureur.
"Really! Dear me!" said the Procureur. "This is certainly a very exceptional case. I believe you are a member of the Krasnoporsk rural administration?" he asked, as if he remembered having heard before of this Nekhludoff, who was now making so strange a declaration.
"I beg your pardon, but I do not think that has anything to do with my request," answered Nekhludoff, flushing angrily.
"Certainly not," said the Procureur, with a scarcely perceptible smile and not in the least abashed; "only your wish is so extraordinary and so out of the common."
"Well; but can I get the permission?"
"The permission? Yes, I will give you an order of admittance directly. Take a seat."
He went up to the table, sat down, and began to write. "Please sit down."
Nekhludoff continued to stand.
Having written an order of admittance, and handed it to Nekhludoff, the Procureur looked curiously at him.
"I must also state that I can no longer take part in the sessions."
"Then you will have to lay valid reasons before the Court, as you, of course, know."
"My reasons are that I consider all judging not only useless, but immoral."
"Yes," said the Procureur, with the same scarcely perceptible smile, as if to show that this kind of declaration was well known to him and belonged to the amusing sort. "Yes, but you will certainly understand that I as Procureur, can not agree with you on this point. Therefore, I should advise you to apply to the Court, which will consider your declaration, and find it valid or not valid, and in the latter case will impose a fine. Apply, then, to the Court."
"I have made my declaration, and shall apply nowhere else," Nekhludoff said, angrily.
"Well, then, good-afternoon," said the Procureur, bowing his head, evidently anxious to be rid of this strange visitor.
"Who was that you had here?" asked one of the members of the Court, as he entered, just after Nekhludoff left the room.
"Nekhludoff, you know; the same that used to make all sorts of strange statements at the Krasnoporsk rural meetings. Just fancy! He is on the jury, and among the prisoners there is a woman or girl sentenced to penal servitude, whom he says he betrayed, and now he wants to marry her."
"You don't mean to say so."
"That's what he told me. And in such a strange state of excitement!"
"There is something abnormal in the young men of to-day."
"Oh, but he is not so very young."
"Yes. But how tiresome your famous Ivoshenka was. He carries the day by wearying one out. He talked and talked without end."
"Oh, that kind of people should be simply stopped, or they will become real obstructionists."
From the Procureur Nekhludoff went straight to the preliminary detention prison. However, no Maslova was to be found there, and the inspector explained to Nekhludoff that she would probably be in the old temporary prison. Nekhludoff went there.
Yes, Katerina Maslova was there.
The distance between the two prisons was enormous, and Nekhludoff only reached the old prison towards evening. He was going up to the door of the large, gloomy building, but the sentinel stopped him and rang. A warder came in answer to the bell. Nekhludoff showed him his order of admittance, but the warder said he could not let him in without the inspector's permission. Nekhludoff went to see the inspector. As he was going up the stairs he heard distant sounds of some complicated bravura, played on the piano. When a cross servant girl, with a bandaged eye, opened the door to him, those sounds seemed to escape from the room and to strike his car. It was a rhapsody of Liszt's, that everybody was tired of, splendidly played but only to one point. When that point was reached the same thing was repeated. Nekhludoff asked the bandaged maid whether the inspector was in. She answered that he was not in.
"Will he return soon?"
The rhapsody again stopped and recommenced loudly and brilliantly again up to the same charmed point.
"I will go and ask," and the servant went away.
"Tell him he is not in and won't be to-day; he is out visiting. What do they come bothering for?" came the sound of a woman's voice from behind the door, and again the rhapsody rattled on and stopped, and the sound of a chair pushed back was heard. It was plain the irritated pianist meant to rebuke the tiresome visitor, who had come at an untimely hour. "Papa is not in," a pale girl with crimped hair said, crossly, coming out into the ante-room, but, seeing a young man in a good coat, she softened.
"Come in, please. . . . What is it you want?"
"I want to see a prisoner in this prison."
"A political one, I suppose?"
"No, not a political one. I have a permission from the Procureur."
"Well, I don't know, and papa is out; but come in, please," she said, again, "or else speak to the assistant. He is in the office at present; apply there. What is your name?"
"I thank you," said Nekhludoff, without answering her question, and went out.
The door was not yet closed after him when the same lively tones recommenced. In the courtyard Nekhludoff met an officer with bristly moustaches, and asked for the assistant-inspector. It was the assistant himself. He looked at the order of admittance, but said that he could not decide to let him in with a pass for the preliminary prison. Besides, it was too late. "Please to come again to-morrow. To morrow, at 10, everybody is allowed to go in. Come then, and the inspector himself will be at home. Then you can have the interview either in the common room or, if the inspector allows it, in the office."
And so Nekhludoff did not succeed in getting an interview that day, and returned home. As he went along the streets, excited at the idea of meeting her, he no longer thought about the Law Courts, but recalled his conversations with the Procureur and the inspector's assistant. The fact that he had been seeking an interview with her, and had told the Procureur, and had been in two prisons, so excited him that it was long before he could calm down. When he got home he at once fetched out his diary, that had long remained untouched, read a few sentences out of it, and then wrote as follows:
"For two years I have not written anything in my diary, and thought I never should return to this childishness. Yet it is not childishness, but converse with my own self, with this real divine self which lives in every man. All this time that I slept there was no one for me to converse with. I was awakened by an extraordinary event on the 28th of April, in the Law Court, when I was on the jury. I saw her in the prisoners' dock, the Katusha betrayed by me, in a prisoner's cloak, condemned to penal servitude through a strange mistake, and my own fault. I have just been to the Procureur's and to the prison, but I was not admitted. I have resolved to do all I can to see her, to confess to her, and to atone for my sin, even by a marriage. God help me. My soul is at peace and I am full of joy."
That night Maslova lay awake a long time with her eyes open looking at the door, in front of which the deacon's daughter kept passing. She was thinking that nothing would induce her to go to the island of Sakhalin and marry a convict, but would arrange matters somehow with one of the prison officials, the secretary, a warder, or even a warder's assistant. "Aren't they all given that way? Only I must not get thin, or else I am lost."
She thought of how the advocate had looked at her, and also the president, and of the men she met, and those who came in on purpose at the court. She recollected how her companion, Bertha, who came to see her in prison, had told her about the student whom she had "loved" while she was with Kitaeva, and who had inquired about her, and pitied her very much. She recalled many to mind, only not Nekhludoff. She never brought back to mind the days of her childhood and youth, and her love to Nekhludoff. That would have been too painful. These memories lay untouched somewhere deep in her soul; she had forgotten him, and never recalled and never even dreamt of him. To-day, in the court, she did not recognise him, not only because when she last saw him he was in uniform, without a beard, and had only a small moustache and thick, curly, though short hair, and now was bald and bearded, but because she never thought about him. She had buried his memory on that terrible dark night when he, returning from the army, had passed by on the railway without stopping to call on his aunts. Katusha then knew her condition. Up to that night she did not consider the child that lay beneath her heart a burden. But on that night everything changed, and the child became nothing but a weight.
His aunts had expected Nekhludoff, had asked him to come and see them in passing, but he had telegraphed that he could not come, as he had to be in Petersburg at an appointed time. When Katusha heard this she made up her mind to go to the station and see him. The train was to pass by at two o'clock in the night. Katusha having helped the old ladies to bed, and persuaded a little girl, the cook's daughter, Mashka, to come with her, put on a pair of old boots, threw a shawl over her head, gathered up her dress, and ran to the station.
It was a warm, rainy, and windy autumn night. The rain now pelted down in warm, heavy drops, now stopped again. It was too dark to see the path across the field, and in the wood it was pitch black, so that although Katusha knew the way well, she got off the path, and got to the little station where the train stopped for three minutes, not before, as she had hoped, but after the second bell had been rung. Hurrying up the platform, Katusha saw him at once at the windows of a first-class carriage. Two officers sat opposite each other on the velvet-covered seats, playing cards. This carriage was very brightly lit up; on the little table between the seats stood two thick, dripping candles. He sat in his closefitting breeches on the arm of the seat, leaning against the back, and laughed. As soon as she recognised him she knocked at the carriage window with her benumbed hand, but at that moment the last bell rang, and the train first gave a backward jerk, and then gradually the carriages began to move forward. One of the players rose with the cards in his hand, and looked out. She knocked again, and pressed her face to the window, but the carriage moved on, and she went alongside looking in. The officer tried to lower the window, but could not. Nekhludoff pushed him aside and began lowering it himself. The train went faster, so that she had to walk quickly. The train went on still faster and the window opened. The guard pushed her aside, and jumped in. Katusha ran on, along the wet boards of the platform, and when she came to the end she could hardly stop herself from falling as she ran down the steps of the platform. She was running by the side of the railway, though the first-class carriage had long passed her, and the second-class carriages were gliding by faster, and at last the third-class carriages still faster. But she ran on, and when the last carriage with the lamps at the back had gone by, she had already reached the tank which fed the engines, and was unsheltered from the wind, which was blowing her shawl about and making her skirt cling round her legs. The shawl flew off her head, but still she ran on.
"Katerina Michaelovna, you've lost your shawl!" screamed the little girl, who was trying to keep up with her.
Katusha stopped, threw back her head, and catching hold of it with both hands sobbed aloud. "Gone!" she screamed.
"He is sitting in a velvet arm-chair and joking and drinking, in a brightly lit carriage, and I, out here in the mud, in the darkness, in the wind and the rain, am standing and weeping," she thought to herself; and sat down on the ground, sobbing so loud that the little girl got frightened, and put her arms round her, wet as she was.
"Come home, dear," she said.
"When a train passes--then under a carriage, and there will be an end," Katusha was thinking, without heeding the girl.
And she made up her mind to do it, when, as it always happens, when a moment of quiet follows great excitement, he, the child--his child--made himself known within her. Suddenly all that a moment before had been tormenting her, so that it had seemed impossible to live, all her bitterness towards him, and the wish to revenge herself, even by dying, passed away; she grew quieter, got up, put the shawl on her head, and went home.
Wet, muddy, and quite exhausted, she returned, and from that day the change which brought her where she now was began to operate in her soul. Beginning from that dreadful night, she ceased believing in God and in goodness. She had herself believed in God, and believed that other people also believed in Him; but after that night she became convinced that no one believed, and that all that was said about God and His laws was deception and untruth. He whom she loved, and who had loved her--yes, she knew that--had thrown her away; had abused her love. Yet he was the best of all the people she knew. All the rest were still worse. All that afterwards happened to her strengthened her in this belief at every step. His aunts, the pious old ladies, turned her out when she could no longer serve them as she used to. And of all those she met, the women used her as a means of getting money, the men, from the old police officer down to the warders of the prison, looked at her as on an object for pleasure. And no one in the world cared for aught but pleasure. In this belief the old author with whom she had come together in the second year of her life of independence had strengthened her. He had told her outright that it was this that constituted the happiness of life, and he called it poetical and aesthetic.
Everybody lived for himself only, for his pleasure, and all the talk concerning God and righteousness was deception. And if sometimes doubts arose in her mind and she wondered why everything was so ill-arranged in the world that all hurt each other, and made each other suffer, she thought it best not to dwell on it, and if she felt melancholy she could smoke, or, better still, drink, and it would pass.
On Sunday morning at five o'clock, when a whistle sounded in the corridor of the women's ward of the prison, Korableva, who was already awake, called Maslova.
"Oh, dear! life again," thought Maslova, with horror, involuntarily breathing in the air that had become terribly noisome towards the morning. She wished to fall asleep again, to enter into the region of oblivion, but the habit of fear overcame sleepiness, and she sat up and looked round, drawing her feet under her. The women had all got up; only the elder children were still asleep. The spirit-trader was carefully drawing a cloak from under the children, so as not to wake them. The watchman's wife was hanging up the rags to dry that served the baby as swaddling clothes, while the baby was screaming desperately in Theodosia's arms, who was trying to quiet it. The consumptive woman was coughing with her hands pressed to her chest, while the blood rushed to her face, and she sighed loudly, almost screaming, in the intervals of coughing. The fat, red-haired woman was lying on her back, with knees drawn up, and loudly relating a dream. The old woman accused of incendiarism was standing in front of the image, crossing herself and bowing, and repeating the same words over and over again. The deacon's daughter sat on the bedstead, looking before her, with a dull, sleepy face. Khoroshavka was twisting her black, oily, coarse hair round her fingers. The sound of slipshod feet was heard in the passage, and the door opened to let in two convicts, dressed in jackets and grey trousers that did not reach to their ankles. With serious, cross faces they lifted the stinking tub and carried it out of the cell. The women went out to the taps in the corridor to wash. There the red-haired woman again began a quarrel with a woman from another cell.
"Is it the solitary cell you want?" shouted an old jailer, slapping the red-haired woman on her bare, fat back, so that it sounded through the corridor. "You be quiet."
"Lawks! the old one's playful," said the woman, taking his action for a caress.
"Now, then, be quick; get ready for the mass." Maslova had hardly time to do her hair and dress when the inspector came with his assistants.
"Come out for inspection," cried a jailer.
Some more prisoners came out of other cells and stood in two rows along the corridor; each woman had to place her hand on the shoulder of the woman in front of her. They were all counted.
After the inspection the woman warder led the prisoners to church. Maslova and Theodosia were in the middle of a column of over a hundred women, who had come out of different cells. All were dressed in white skirts, white jackets, and wore white kerchiefs on their heads, except a few who had their own coloured clothes on. These were wives who, with their children, were following their convict husbands to Siberia. The whole flight of stairs was filled by the procession. The patter of softly-shod feet mingled with the voices and now and then a laugh. When turning, on the landing, Maslova saw her enemy, Botchkova, in front, and pointed out her angry face to Theodosia. At the bottom of the stairs the women stopped talking. Bowing and crossing themselves, they entered the empty church, which glistened with gilding. Crowding and pushing one another, they took their places on the right.
After the women came the men condemned to banishment, those serving their term in the prison, and those exiled by their Communes; and, coughing loudly, they took their stand, crowding the left side and the middle of the church.
On one side of the gallery above stood the men sentenced to penal servitude in Siberia, who had been let into the church before the others. Each of them had half his head shaved, and their presence was indicated by the clanking of the chains on their feet. On the other side of the gallery stood those in preliminary confinement, without chains, their heads not shaved.
The prison church had been rebuilt and ornamented by a rich merchant, who spent several tens of thousands of roubles on it, and it glittered with gay colours and gold. For a time there was silence in the church, and only coughing, blowing of noses, the crying of babies, and now and then the rattling of chains, was heard. But at last the convicts that stood in the middle moved, pressed against each other, leaving a passage in the centre of the church, down which the prison inspector passed to take his place in front of every one in the nave.
The service began.
It consisted of the following. The priest, having dressed in a strange and very inconvenient garb, made of gold cloth, cut and arranged little bits of bread on a saucer, and then put them into a cup with wine, repeating at the same time different names and prayers. Meanwhile the deacon first read Slavonic prayers, difficult to understand in themselves, and rendered still more incomprehensible by being read very fast, and then sang them turn and turn about with the convicts. The contents of the prayers were chiefly the desire for the welfare of the Emperor and his family. These petitions were repeated many times, separately and together with other prayers, the people kneeling. Besides this, several verses from the Acts of the Apostles were read by the deacon in a peculiarly strained voice, which made it impossible to understand what he read, and then the priest read very distinctly a part of the Gospel according to St. Mark, in which it said that Christ, having risen from the dead before flying up to heaven to sit down at His Father's right hand, first showed Himself to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven devils, and then to eleven of His disciples, and ordered them to preach the Gospel to the whole creation, and the priest added that if any one did not believe this he would perish, but he that believed it and was baptised should be saved, and should besides drive out devils and cure people by laying his hands on them, should talk in strange tongues, should take up serpents, and if he drank poison should not die, but remain well.
The essence of the service consisted in the supposition that the bits cut up by the priest and put by him into the wine, when manipulated and prayed over in a certain way, turned into the flesh and blood of God.
These manipulations consisted in the priest's regularly lifting and holding up his arms, though hampered by the gold cloth sack he had on, then, sinking on to his knees and kissing the table and all that was on it, but chiefly in his taking a cloth by two of its corners and waving it regularly and softly over the silver saucer and golden cup. It was supposed that, at this point, the bread and the wine turned into flesh and blood; therefore, this part of the service was performed with the greatest solemnity.
"Now, to the blessed, most pure, and most holy Mother of God," the priest cried from the golden partition which divided part of the church from the rest, and the choir began solemnly to sing that it was very right to glorify the Virgin Mary, who had borne Christ without losing her virginity, and was therefore worthy of greater honour than some kind of cherubim, and greater glory than some kind of seraphim. After this the transformation was considered accomplished, and the priest having taken the napkin off the saucer, cut the middle bit of bread in four, and put it into the wine, and then into his mouth. He was supposed to have eaten a bit of God's flesh and swallowed a little of His blood. Then the priest drew a curtain, opened the middle door in the partition, and, taking the gold cup in his hands, came out of the door, inviting those who wished to do so also to come and eat some of God's flesh and blood that was contained in the cup. A few children appeared to wish to do so.
After having asked the children their names, the priest carefully took out of the cup, with a spoon, and shoved a bit of bread soaked in wine deep into the mouth of each child in turn, and the deacon, while wiping the children's mouths, sang, in a merry voice, that the children were eating the flesh and drinking the blood of God. After this the priest carried the cup back behind the partition, and there drank all the remaining blood and ate up all the bits of flesh, and after having carefully sucked his moustaches and wiped his mouth, he stepped briskly from behind the partition, the soles of his calfskin boots creaking. The principal part of this Christian service was now finished, but the priest, wishing to comfort the unfortunate prisoners, added to the ordinary service another. This consisted of his going up to the gilt hammered-out image (with black face and hands) supposed to represent the very God he had been eating, illuminated by a dozen wax candles, and proceeding, in a strange, discordant voice, to hum or sing the following words:
"Jesu sweetest, glorified of the Apostles, Jesu lauded by the martyrs, almighty Monarch, save me, Jesu my Saviour. Jesu, most beautiful, have mercy on him who cries to Thee, Saviour Jesu. Born of prayer Jesu, all thy saints, all thy prophets, save and find them worthy of the joys of heaven. Jesu, lover of men."
Then he stopped, drew breath, crossed himself, bowed to the ground, and every one did the same--the inspector, the warders, the prisoners; and from above the clinking of the chains sounded more unintermittently. Then he continued: "Of angels the Creator and Lord of powers, Jesu most wonderful, the angels' amazement, Jesu most powerful, of our forefathers the Redeemer. Jesu sweetest, of patriarchs the praise. Jesu most glorious, of kings the strength. Jesu most good, of prophets the fulfilment. Jesu most amazing, of martyrs the strength. Jesu most humble, of monks the joy. Jesu most merciful, of priests the sweetness. Jesu most charitable, of the fasting the continence. Jesu most sweet, of the just the joy. Jesu most pure, of the celibates the chastity. Jesu before all ages of sinners the salvation. Jesu, son of God, have mercy on me."
Every time he repeated the word "Jesu" his voice became more and more wheezy. At last he came to a stop, and holding up his silk-lined cassock, and kneeling down on one knee, he stooped down to the ground and the choir began to sing, repeating the words, "Jesu, Son of God, have mercy on me," and the convicts fell down and rose again, shaking back the hair that was left on their heads, and rattling with the chains that were bruising their thin ankles.
This continued for a long time. First came the glorification, which ended with the words, "Have mercy on me." Then more glorifications, ending with "Alleluia!" And the convicts made the sign of the cross, and bowed, first at each sentence, then after every two and then after three, and all were very glad when the glorification ended, and the priest shut the book with a sigh of relief and retired behind the partition. One last act remained. The priest took a large, gilt cross, with enamel medallions at the ends, from a table, and came out into the centre of the church with it. First the inspector came up and kissed the cross, then the jailers, then the convicts, pushing and abusing each other in whispers. The priest, talking to the inspector, pushed the cross and his hand now against the mouths and now against the noses of the convicts, who were trying to kiss both the cross and the hand of the priest. And thus ended the Christian service, intended for the comfort and the teaching of these strayed brothers.
And none of those present, from the inspector down to Maslova, seemed conscious of the fact that this Jesus, whose name the priest repeated such a great number of times, and whom he praised with all these curious expressions, had forbidden the very things that were being done there; that He had prohibited not only this meaningless much-speaking and the blasphemous incantation over the bread and wine, but had also, in the clearest words, forbidden men to call other men their master, and to pray in temples; and had ordered that every one should pray in solitude, had forbidden to erect temples, saying that He had come to destroy them, and that one should worship, not in a temple, but in spirit and in truth; and, above all, that He had forbidden not only to judge, to imprison, to torment, to execute men, as was being done here, but had prohibited any kind of violence, saying that He had come to give freedom to the captives.
No one present seemed conscious that all that was going on here was the greatest blasphemy and a supreme mockery of that same Christ in whose name it was being done. No one seemed to realise that the gilt cross with the enamel medallions at the ends, which the priest held out to the people to be kissed, was nothing but the emblem of that gallows on which Christ had been executed for denouncing just what was going on here. That these priests, who imagined they were eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine, did in reality eat and drink His flesh and His blood, but not as wine and bits of bread, but by ensnaring "these little ones" with whom He identified Himself, by depriving them of the greatest blessings and submitting them to most cruel torments, and by hiding from men the tidings of great joy which He had brought. That thought did not enter into the mind of any one present.
The priest did his part with a quiet conscience, because he was brought up from childhood to consider that the only true faith was the faith which had been held by all the holy men of olden times and was still held by the Church, and demanded by the State authorities. He did not believe that the bread turned into flesh, that it was useful for the soul to repeat so many words, or that he had actually swallowed a bit of God. No one could believe this, but he believed that one ought to hold this faith. What strengthened him most in this faith was the fact that, for fulfilling the demands of this faith, he had for the last 15 years been able to draw an income, which enabled him to keep his family, send his son to a gymnasium and his daughter to a school for the daughters of the clergy. The deacon believed in the same manner, and even more firmly than the priest, for he had forgotten the substance of the dogmas of this faith, and knew only that the prayers for the dead, the masses, with and without the acathistus, all had a definite price, which real Christians readily paid, and, therefore, he called out his "have mercy, have mercy," very willingly, and read and said what was appointed, with the same quiet certainty of its being necessary to do so with which other men sell faggots, flour, or potatoes. The prison inspector and the warders, though they had never understood or gone into the meaning of these dogmas and of all that went on in church, believed that they must believe, because the higher authorities and the Tsar himself believed in it. Besides, though faintly (and themselves unable to explain why), they felt that this faith defended their cruel occupations. If this faith did not exist it would have been more difficult, perhaps impossible, for them to use all their powers to torment people, as they were now doing, with a quiet conscience. The inspector was such a kind-hearted man that he could not have lived as he was now living unsupported by his faith. Therefore, he stood motionless, bowed and crossed himself zealously, tried to feel touched when the song about the cherubims was being sung, and when the children received communion he lifted one of them, and held him up to the priest with his own hands.
The great majority of the prisoners believed that there lay a mystic power in these gilt images, these vestments, candles, cups, crosses, and this repetition of incomprehensible words, "Jesu sweetest" and "have mercy"--a power through which might be obtained much convenience in this and in the future life. Only a few clearly saw the deception that was practised on the people who adhered to this faith, and laughed at it in their hearts; but the majority, having made several attempts to get the conveniences they desired, by means of prayers, masses, and candles, and not having got them (their prayers remaining unanswered), were each of them convinced that their want of success was accidental, and that this organisation, approved by the educated and by archbishops, is very important and necessary, if not for this, at any rate for the next life.
Maslova also believed in this way. She felt, like the rest, a mixed sensation of piety and dulness. She stood at first in a crowd behind a railing, so that she could see no one but her companions; but when those to receive communion moved on, she and Theodosia stepped to the front, and they saw the inspector, and, behind him, standing among the warders, a little peasant, with a very light beard and fair hair. This was Theodosia's husband, and he was gazing with fixed eyes at his wife. During the acathistus Maslova occupied herself in scrutinising him and talking to Theodosia in whispers, and bowed and made the sign of the cross only when every one else did.
Nekhludoff left home early. A peasant from the country was still driving along the side street and calling out in a voice peculiar to his trade, "Milk! milk! milk!"
The first warm spring rain had fallen the day before, and now wherever the ground was not paved the grass shone green. The birch trees in the gardens looked as if they were strewn with green fluff, the wild cherry and the poplars unrolled their long, balmy buds, and in shops and dwelling-houses the double window-frames were being removed and the windows cleaned.
In the Tolkoochi [literally, jostling market, where second-hand clothes and all sorts of cheap goods are sold] market, which Nekhludoff had to pass on his way, a dense crowd was surging along the row of booths, and tattered men walked about selling top-boots, which they carried under their arms, and renovated trousers and waistcoats, which hung over their shoulders.
Men in clean coats and shining boots, liberated from the factories, it being Sunday, and women with bright silk kerchiefs on their heads and cloth jackets trimmed with jet, were already thronging at the door of the traktir. Policemen, with yellow cords to their uniforms and carrying pistols, were on duty, looking out for some disorder which might distract the ennui that oppressed them. On the paths of the boulevards and on the newly-revived grass, children and dogs ran about, playing, and the nurses sat merrily chattering on the benches. Along the streets, still fresh and damp on the shady side, but dry in the middle, heavy carts rumbled unceasingly, cabs rattled and tramcars passed ringing by. The air vibrated with the pealing and clanging of church bells, that were calling the people to attend to a service like that which was now being conducted in the prison. And the people, dressed in their Sunday best, were passing on their way to their different parish churches.
The isvostchik did not drive Nekhludoff up to the prison itself, but to the last turning that led to the prison.
Several persons--men and women--most of them carrying small bundles, stood at this turning, about 100 steps from the prison. To the right there were several low wooden buildings; to the left, a two-storeyed house with a signboard. The huge brick building, the prison proper, was just in front, and the visitors were not allowed to come up to it. A sentinel was pacing up and down in front of it, and shouted at any one who tried to pass him.
At the gate of the wooden buildings, to the right, opposite the sentinel, sat a warder on a bench, dressed in uniform, with gold cords, a notebook in his hands. The visitors came up to him, and named the persons they wanted to see, and he put the names down. Nekhludoff also went up, and named Katerina Maslova. The warder wrote down the name.
"Why--don't they admit us yet?" asked Nekhludoff.
"The service is going on. When the mass is over, you'll be admitted."
Nekhludoff stepped aside from the waiting crowd. A man in tattered clothes, crumpled hat, with bare feet and red stripes all over his face, detached himself from the crowd, and turned towards the prison.
"Now, then, where are you going?" shouted the sentinel with the gun.
"And you hold your row," answered the tramp, not in the least abashed by the sentinel's words, and turned back. "Well, if you'll not let me in, I'll wait. But, no! Must needs shout, as if he were a general."
The crowd laughed approvingly. The visitors were, for the greater part, badly-dressed people; some were ragged, but there were also some respectable-looking men and women. Next to Nekhludoff stood a clean-shaven, stout, and red-cheeked man, holding a bundle, apparently containing under-garments. This was the doorkeeper of a bank; he had come to see his brother, who was arrested for forgery. The good-natured fellow told Nekhludoff the whole story of his life, and was going to question him in turn, when their attention was aroused by a student and a veiled lady, who drove up in a trap, with rubber tyres, drawn by a large thoroughbred horse. The student was holding a large bundle. He came up to Nekhludoff, and asked if and how he could give the rolls he had brought in alms to the prisoners. His fiancee wished it (this lady was his fiancee), and her parents had advised them to take some rolls to the prisoners.
"I myself am here for the first time," said Nekhludoff, "and don't know; but I think you had better ask this man," and he pointed to the warder with the gold cords and the book, sitting on the right.
As they were speaking, the large iron door with a window in it opened, and an officer in uniform, followed by another warder, stepped out. The warder with the notebook proclaimed that the admittance of visitors would now commence. The sentinel stepped aside, and all the visitors rushed to the door as if afraid of being too late; some even ran. At the door there stood a warder who counted the visitors as they came in, saying aloud, 16, 17, and so on. Another warder stood inside the building and also counted the visitors as they entered a second door, touching each one with his hand, so that when they went away again not one visitor should be able to remain inside the prison and not one prisoner might get out. The warder, without looking at whom he was touching, slapped Nekhludoff on the back, and Nekhludoff felt hurt by the touch of the warder's hand; but, remembering what he had come about, he felt ashamed of feeling dissatisfied and taking offence.
The first apartment behind the entrance doors was a large vaulted room with iron bars to the small windows. In this room, which was called the meeting-room, Nekhludoff was startled by the sight of a large picture of the Crucifixion.
"What's that for?" he thought, his mind involuntarily connecting the subject of the picture with liberation and not with imprisonment.
He went on, slowly letting the hurrying visitors pass before, and experiencing a mingled feeling of horror at the evil-doers locked up in this building, compassion for those who, like Katusha and the boy they tried the day before, must be here though guiltless, and shyness and tender emotion at the thought of the interview before him. The warder at the other end of the meeting-room said something as they passed, but Nekhludoff, absorbed by his own thoughts, paid no attention to him, and continued to follow the majority of the visitors, and so got into the men's part of the prison instead of the women's.
Letting the hurrying visitors pass before him, he was the last to get into the interviewing-room. As soon as Nekhludoff opened the door of this room, he was struck by the deafening roar of a hundred voices shouting at once, the reason of which he did not at once understand. But when he came nearer to the people, he saw that they were all pressing against a net that divided the room in two, like flies settling on sugar, and he understood what it meant. The two halves of the room, the windows of which were opposite the door he had come in by, were separated, not by one, but by two nets reaching from the floor to the ceiling. The wire nets were stretched 7 feet apart, and soldiers were walking up and down the space between them. On the further side of the nets were the prisoners, on the nearer, the visitors. Between them was a double row of nets and a space of 7 feet wide, so that they could not hand anything to one another, and any one whose sight was not very good could not even distinguish the face on the other side. It was also difficult to talk; one had to scream in order to be heard.
On both sides were faces pressed close to the nets, faces of wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, children, trying to see each other's features and to say what was necessary in such a way as to be understood.
But as each one tried to be heard by the one he was talking to, and his neighbour tried to do the same, they did their best to drown each other's voices' and that was the cause of the din and shouting which struck Nekhludoff when he first came in. It was impossible to understand what was being said and what were the relations between the different people. Next Nekhludoff an old woman with a kerchief on her head stood trembling, her chin pressed close to the net, and shouting something to a young fellow, half of whose head was shaved, who listened attentively with raised brows. By the side of the old woman was a young man in a peasant's coat, who listened, shaking his head, to a boy very like himself. Next stood a man in rags, who shouted, waving his arm and laughing. Next to him a woman, with a good woollen shawl on her shoulders, sat on the floor holding a baby in her lap and crying bitterly. This was apparently the first time she saw the greyheaded man on the other side in prison clothes, and with his head shaved. Beyond her was the doorkeeper, who had spoken to Nekhludoff outside; he was shouting with all his might to a greyhaired convict on the other side.
When Nekhludoff found that he would have to speak in similar conditions, a feeling of indignation against those who were able to make and enforce these conditions arose in him; he was surprised that, placed in such a dreadful position, no one seemed offended at this outrage on human feelings. The soldiers, the inspector, the prisoners themselves, acted as if acknowledging all this to be necessary.
Nekhludoff remained in this room for about five minutes, feeling strangely depressed, conscious of how powerless he was, and at variance with all the world. He was seized with a curious moral sensation like seasickness.
"Well, but I must do what I came here for," he said, trying to pick up courage. "What is to be done now?" He looked round for an official, and seeing a thin little man in the uniform of an officer going up and down behind the people, he approached him.
"Can you tell me, sir," he said, with exceedingly strained politeness of manner, "where the women are kept, and where one is allowed to interview them?"
"Is it the women's ward you want to go to?"
"Yes, I should like to see one of the women prisoners," Nekhludoff said, with the same strained politeness.
"You should have said so when you were in the hall. Who is it, then, that you want to see?"
"I want to see a prisoner called Katerina Maslova."
"Is she a political one?"
"No, she is simply . . ."
"What! Is she sentenced?"
"Yes; the day before yesterday she was sentenced," meekly answered Nekhludoff, fearing to spoil the inspector's good humour, which seemed to incline in his favour.
"If you want to go to the women's ward please to step this way," said the officer, having decided from Nekhludoff's appearance that he was worthy of attention. "Sideroff, conduct the gentleman to the women's ward," he said, turning to a moustached corporal with medals on his breast.
At this moment heart-rending sobs were heard coming from some one near the net.
Everything here seemed strange to Nekhludoff; but strangest of all was that he should have to thank and feel obligation towards the inspector and the chief warders, the very men who were performing the cruel deeds that were done in this house.
The corporal showed Nekhludoff through the corridor, out of the men's into the women's interviewing-room.
This room, like that of the men, was divided by two wire nets; but it was much smaller, and there were fewer visitors and fewer prisoners, so that there was less shouting than in the men's room. Yet the same thing was going on here, only, between the nets instead of soldiers there was a woman warder, dressed in a blue-edged uniform jacket, with gold cords on the sleeves, and a blue belt. Here also, as in the men's room, the people were pressing close to the wire netting on both sides; on the nearer side, the townspeople in varied attire; on the further side, the prisoners, some in white prison clothes, others in their own coloured dresses. The whole length of the net was taken up by the people standing close to it. Some rose on tiptoe to be heard across the heads of others; some sat talking on the floor.
The most remarkable of the prisoners, both by her piercing screams and her appearance, was a thin, dishevelled gipsy. Her kerchief had slipped off her curly hair, and she stood near a post in the middle of the prisoner's division, shouting something, accompanied by quick gestures, to a gipsy man in a blue coat, girdled tightly below the waist. Next the gipsy man, a soldier sat on the ground talking to prisoner; next the soldier, leaning close to the net, stood a young peasant, with a fair beard and a flushed face, keeping back his tears with difficulty. A pretty, fair-haired prisoner, with bright blue eyes, was speaking to him. These two were Theodosia and her husband. Next to them was a tramp, talking to a broad-faced woman; then two women, then a man, then again a woman, and in front of each a prisoner. Maslova was not among them. But some one stood by the window behind the prisoners, and Nekhludoff knew it was she. His heart began to beat faster, and his breath stopped. The decisive moment was approaching. He went up to the part of the net where he could see the prisoner, and recognised her at once. She stood behind the blue-eyed Theodosia, and smiled, listening to what Theodosia was saying. She did not wear the prison cloak now, but a white dress, tightly drawn in at the waist by a belt, and very full in the bosom. From under her kerchief appeared the black ringlets of her fringe, just the same as in the court.
"Now, in a moment it will be decided," he thought.
"How shall I call her? Or will she come herself?"
She was expecting Bertha; that this man had come to see her never entered her head.
"Whom do you want?" said the warder who was walking between the nets, coming up to Nekhludoff.
"Katerina Maslova," Nekhludoff uttered, with difficulty.
"Katerina Maslova, some one to see you," cried the warder.
Maslova looked round, and with head thrown back and expanded chest, came up to the net with that expression of readiness which he well knew, pushed in between two prisoners, and gazed at Nekhludoff with a surprised and questioning look. But, concluding from his clothing he was a rich man, she smiled.
"Is it me you want?" she asked, bringing her smiling face, with the slightly squinting eyes, nearer the net.
"I, I--I wished to see--" Nekhludoff did not know how to address her. "I wished to see you--I--" He was not speaking louder than usual.
"No; nonsense, I tell you!" shouted the tramp who stood next to him. "Have you taken it or not?"
"Dying, I tell you; what more do you want?" some one else was screaming at his other side. Maslova could not hear what Nekhludoff was saying, but the expression of his face as he was speaking reminded her of him. She did not believe her own eyes; still the smile vanished from her face and a deep line of suffering appeared on her brow.
"I cannot hear what you are saying," she called out, wrinkling her brow and frowning more and more.
"I have come," said Nekhludoff. "Yes, I am doing my duty--I am confessing," thought Nekhludoff; and at this thought the tears came in his eyes, and he felt a choking sensation in his throat, and holding on with both hands to the net, he made efforts to keep from bursting into tears.
"I say, why do you shove yourself in where you're not wanted?" some one shouted at one side of him.
"God is my witness; I know nothing," screamed a prisoner from the other side.
Noticing his excitement, Maslova recognised him.
"You're like . . . but no; I don't know you," she shouted, without looking at him, and blushing, while her face grew still more stern.
"I have come to ask you to forgive me," he said, in a loud but monotonous voice, like a lesson learnt by heart. Having said these words he became confused; but immediately came the thought that, if he felt ashamed, it was all the better; he had to bear this shame, and he continued in a loud voice:
"Forgive me; I have wronged you terribly."
She stood motionless and without taking her squinting eyes off him.
He could not continue to speak, and stepping away from the net he tried to suppress the sobs that were choking him.
The inspector, the same officer who had directed Nekhludoff to the women's ward, and whose interest he seemed to have aroused, came into the room, and, seeing Nekhludoff not at the net, asked him why he was not talking to her whom he wanted to see. Nekhludoff blew his nose, gave himself a shake, and, trying to appear calm, said:
"It's so inconvenient through these nets; nothing can be heard."
Again the inspector considered for a moment.
"Ah, well, she can be brought out here for awhile. Mary Karlovna," turning to the warder, "lead Maslova out."
A minute later Maslova came out of the side door. Stepping softly, she came up close to Nekhludoff, stopped, and looked up at him from under her brows. Her black hair was arranged in ringlets over her forehead in the same way as it had been two days ago; her face, though unhealthy and puffy, was attractive, and looked perfectly calm, only the glittering black eyes glanced strangely from under the swollen lids.
"You may talk here," said the inspector, and shrugging his shoulders he stepped aside with a look of surprise. Nekhludoff moved towards a seat by the wall.
Maslova cast a questioning look at the inspector, and then, shrugging her shoulders in surprise, followed Nekhludoff to the bench, and having arranged her skirt, sat down beside him.
"I know it is hard for you to forgive me," he began, but stopped. His tears were choking him. "But though I can't undo the past, I shall now do what is in my power. Tell me--"
"How have you managed to find me?" she said, without answering his question, neither looking away from him nor quite at him, with her squinting eyes.
"O God, help me! Teach me what to do," Nekhludoff thought, looking at her changed face. "I was on the jury the day before yesterday," he said. "You did not recognise me?"
"No, I did not; there was not time for recognitions. I did not even look," she said.
"There was a child, was there not?" he asked.
"Thank God! he died at once," she answered, abruptly and viciously.
"What do you mean? Why?"
"I was so ill myself, I nearly died," she said, in the same quiet voice, which Nekhludoff had not expected and could not understand.
"How could my aunts have let you go?"
"Who keeps a servant that has a baby? They sent me off as soon as they noticed. But why speak of this? I remember nothing. That's all finished."
"No, it is not finished; I wish to redeem my sin."
"There's nothing to redeem. What's been has been and is passed," she said; and, what he never expected, she looked at him and smiled in an unpleasantly luring, yet piteous, manner.
Maslova never expected to see him again, and certainly not here and not now; therefore, when she first recognised him, she could not keep back the memories which she never wished to revive. In the first moment she remembered dimly that new, wonderful world of feeling and of thought which had been opened to her by the charming young man who loved her and whom she loved, and then his incomprehensible cruelty and the whole string of humiliations and suffering which flowed from and followed that magic joy. This gave her pain, and, unable to understand it, she did what she was always in the habit of doing, she got rid of these memories by enveloping them in the mist of a depraved life. In the first moment, she associated the man now sitting beside her with the lad she had loved; but feeling that this gave her pain, she dissociated them again. Now, this well-dressed, carefully-got-up gentleman with perfumed beard was no longer the Nekhludoff whom she had loved but only one of the people who made use of creatures like herself when they needed them, and whom creatures like herself had to make use of in their turn as profitably as they could; and that is why she looked at him with a luring smile and considered silently how she could best make use of him.
"That's all at an end," she said. "Now I'm condemned to Siberia," and her lip trembled as she was saying this dreadful word.
"I knew; I was certain you were not guilty," said Nekhludoff.
"Guilty! of course not; as if I could be a thief or a robber." She stopped, considering in what way she could best get something out of him.
"They say here that all depends on the advocate," she began. "A petition should be handed in, only they say it's expensive."
"Yes, most certainly," said Nekhludoff. "I have already spoken to an advocate."
"No money ought to be spared; it should be a good one," she said.
"I shall do all that is possible."
They were silent, and then she smiled again in the same way.
"And I should like to ask you . . . a little money if you can . . . not much; ten roubles, I do not want more," she said, suddenly.
"Yes, yes," Nekhludoff said, with a sense of confusion, and felt for his purse.
She looked rapidly at the inspector, who was walking up and down the room. "Don't give it in front of him; he'd take it away."
Nekhludoff took out his purse as soon as the inspector had turned his back; but had no time to hand her the note before the inspector faced them again, so he crushed it up in his hand.
"This woman is dead," Nekhludoff thought, looking at this once sweet, and now defiled, puffy face, lit up by an evil glitter in the black, squinting eyes which were now glancing at the hand in which he held the note, then following the inspector's movements, and for a moment he hesitated. The tempter that had been speaking to him in the night again raised its voice, trying to lead him out of the realm of his inner into the realm of his outer life, away from the question of what he should do to the question of what the consequences would be, and what would be practical.
"You can do nothing with this woman," said the voice; "you will only tie a stone round your neck, which will help to drown you and hinder you from being useful to others.
"Is it not better to give her all the money that is here, say good-bye, and finish with her forever?" whispered the voice.
But here he felt that now, at this very moment, something most important was taking place in his soul--that his inner life was, as it were, wavering in the balance, so that the slightest effort would make it sink to this side or the other. And he made this effort by calling to his assistance that God whom he had felt in his soul the day before, and that God instantly responded. He resolved to tell her everything now--at once.
"Katusha, I have come to ask you to forgive me, and you have given me no answer. Have you forgiven me? Will you ever forgive me?" he asked.
She did not listen to him, but looked at his hand and at the inspector, and when the latter turned she hastily stretched out her hand, grasped the note, and hid it under her belt.
"That's odd, what you are saying there," she said, with a smile of contempt, as it seemed to him.
Nekhludoff felt that there was in her soul one who was his enemy and who was protecting her, such as she was now, and preventing him from getting at her heart. But, strange to say, this did not repel him, but drew him nearer to her by some fresh, peculiar power. He knew that he must waken her soul, that this was terribly difficult, but the very difficulty attracted him. He now felt towards her as he had never felt towards her or any one else before. There was nothing personal in this feeling: he wanted nothing from her for himself, but only wished that she might not remain as she now was, that she might awaken and become again what she had been.
"Katusha, why do you speak like that? I know you; I remember you--and the old days in Papovo."
"What's the use of recalling what's past?" she remarked, drily.
"I am recalling it in order to put it right, to atone for my sin, Katusha," and he was going to say that he would marry her, but, meeting her eyes, he read in them something so dreadful, so coarse, so repellent, that he could not go on.
At this moment the visitors began to go. The inspector came up to Nekhludoff and said that the time was up.
"Good-bye; I have still much to say to you, but you see it is impossible to do so now," said Nekhludoff, and held out his hand. "I shall come again."
"I think you have said all."
She took his hand but did not press it.
"No; I shall try to see you again, somewhere where we can talk, and then I shall tell you what I have to say-something very important."
"Well, then, come; why not?" she answered, and smiled with that habitual, inviting, and promising smile which she gave to the men whom she wished to please.
"You are more than a sister to me," said Nekhludoff.
"That's odd," she said again, and went behind the grating.
Before the first interview, Nekhludoff thought that when she saw him and knew of his intention to serve her, Katusha would be pleased and touched, and would be Katusha again; but, to his horror, he found that Katusha existed no more, and there was Maslova in her place. This astonished and horrified him.
What astonished him most was that Katusha was not ashamed of her position--not the position of a prisoner (she was ashamed of that), but her position as a prostitute. She seemed satisfied, even proud of it. And, yet, how could it be otherwise? Everybody, in order to be able to act, has to consider his occupation important and good. Therefore, in whatever position a person is, he is certain to form such a view of the life of men in general which will make his occupation seem important and good.
It is usually imagined that a thief, a murderer, a spy, a prostitute, acknowledging his or her profession as evil, is ashamed of it. But the contrary is true. People whom fate and their sin-mistakes have placed in a certain position, however false that position may be, form a view of life in general which makes their position seem good and admissible. In order to keep up their view of life, these people instinctively keep to the circle of those people who share their views of life and their own place in it. This surprises us, where the persons concerned are thieves, bragging about their dexterity, prostitutes vaunting their depravity, or murderers boasting of their cruelty. This surprises us only because the circle, the atmosphere in which these people live, is limited, and we are outside it. But can we not observe the same phenomenon when the rich boast of their wealth, i.e., robbery; the commanders in the army pride themselves on victories, i.e., murder; and those in high places vaunt their power, i.e., violence? We do not see the perversion in the views of life held by these people, only because the circle formed by them is more extensive, and we ourselves are moving inside of it.
And in this manner Maslova had formed her views of life and of her own position. She was a prostitute condemned to Siberia, and yet she had a conception of life which made it possible for her to be satisfied with herself, and even to pride herself on her position before others.
According to this conception, the highest good for all men without exception--old, young, schoolboys, generals, educated and uneducated, was connected with the relation of the sexes; therefore, all men, even when they pretended to be occupied with other things, in reality took this view. She was an attractive woman, and therefore she was an important and necessary person. The whole of her former and present life was a confirmation of the correctness of this conception.
With such a view of life, she was by no means the lowest, but a very important person. And Maslova prized this view of life more than anything; she could not but prize it, for, if she lost the importance that such a view of life gave her among men, she would lose the meaning of her life. And, in order not to lose the meaning of her life, she instinctively clung to the set that looked at life in the same way as she did. Feeling that Nekhludoff wanted to lead her out into another world, she resisted him, foreseeing that she would have to lose her place in life, with the self-possession and self-respect it gave her. For this reason she drove from her the recollections of her early youth and her first relations with Nekhludoff. These recollections did not correspond with her present conception of the world, and were therefore quite rubbed out of her mind, or, rather, lay somewhere buried and untouched, closed up and plastered over so that they should not escape, as when bees, in order to protect the result of their labour, will sometimes plaster a nest of worms. Therefore, the present Nekhludoff was not the man she had once loved with a pure love, but only a rich gentleman whom she could, and must, make use of, and with whom she could only have the same relations as with men in general.
"No, I could not tell her the chief thing," thought Nekhludoff, moving towards the front doors with the rest of the people. "I did not tell her that I would marry her; I did not tell her so, but I will," he thought.
The two warders at the door let out the visitors, counting them again, and touching each one with their hands, so that no extra person should go out, and none remain within. The slap on his shoulder did not offend Nekhludoff this time; he did not even notice it.
Nekhludoff meant to rearrange the whole of his external life, to let his large house and move to an hotel, but Agraphena Petrovna pointed out that it was useless to change anything before the winter. No one would rent a town house for the summer; anyhow, he would have to live and keep his things somewhere. And so all his efforts to change his manner of life (he meant to live more simply: as the students live) led to nothing. Not only did everything remain as it was, but the house was suddenly filled with new activity. All that was made of wool or fur was taken out to be aired and beaten. The gate-keeper, the boy, the cook, and Corney himself took part in this activity. All sorts of strange furs, which no one ever used, and various uniforms were taken out and hung on a line, then the carpets and furniture were brought out, and the gate-keeper and the boy rolled their sleeves up their muscular arms and stood beating these things, keeping strict time, while the rooms were filled with the smell of naphthaline.
When Nekhludoff crossed the yard or looked out of the window and saw all this going on, he was surprised at the great number of things there were, all quite useless. Their only use, Nekhludoff thought, was the providing of exercise for Agraphena Petrovna, Corney, the gate-keeper, the boy, and the cook.
"But it's not worth while altering my manner of life now," he thought, "while Maslova's case is not decided. Besides, it is too difficult. It will alter of itself when she will be set free or exiled, and I follow her."
On the appointed day Nekhludoff drove up to the advocate Fanarin's own splendid house, which was decorated with huge palms and other plants, and wonderful curtains, in fact, with all the expensive luxury witnessing to the possession of much idle money, i.e., money acquired without labour, which only those possess who grow rich suddenly. In the waiting-room, just as in a doctor's waiting-room, he found many dejected-looking people sitting round several tables, on which lay illustrated papers meant to amuse them, awaiting their turns to be admitted to the advocate. The advocate's assistant sat in the room at a high desk, and having recognised Nekhludoff, he came up to him and said he would go and announce him at once. But the assistant had not reached the door before it opened and the sounds of loud, animated voices were heard; the voice of a middle-aged, sturdy merchant, with a red face and thick moustaches, and the voice of Fanarin himself. Fanarin was also a middle-aged man of medium height, with a worn look on his face. Both faces bore the expression which you see on the faces of those who have just concluded a profitable but not quite honest transaction.
"Your own fault, you know, my dear sir," Fanarin said, smiling.
"We'd all be in 'eaven were it not for hour sins."
"Oh. yes, yes; we all know that," and both laughed un-naturally.
"Oh, Prince Nekhludoff! Please to step in," said Fanarin, seeing him, and, nodding once more to the merchant, he led Nekhludoff into his business cabinet, furnished in a severely correct style.
"Won't you smoke?" said the advocate, sitting down opposite Nekhludoff and trying to conceal a smile, apparently still excited by the success of the accomplished transaction.
"Thanks; I have come about Maslova's case."
"Yes, yes; directly! But oh, what rogues these fat money bags are!" he said. "You saw this here fellow. Why, he has about twelve million roubles, and he cannot speak correctly; and if he can get a twenty-five rouble note out of you he'll have it, if he's to wrench it out with his teeth."
"He says ''eaven' and 'hour,' and you say 'this here fellow,'" Nekhludoff thought, with an insurmountable feeling of aversion towards this man who wished to show by his free and easy manner that he and Nekhludoff belonged to one and the same camp, while his other clients belonged to another.
"He has worried me to death--a fearful scoundrel. I felt I must relieve my feelings," said the advocate, as if to excuse his speaking about things that had no reference to business. "Well, how about your case? I have read it attentively, but do not approve of it. I mean that greenhorn of an advocate has left no valid reason for an appeal."
"Well, then, what have you decided?"
"One moment. Tell him," he said to his assistant, who had just come in, "that I keep to what I have said. If he can, it's all right; if not, no matter."
"But he won't agree."
"Well, no matter," and the advocate frowned.
"There now, and it is said that we advocates get our money for nothing," he remarked, after a pause. "I have freed one insolvent debtor from a totally false charge, and now they all flock to me. Yet every such case costs enormous labour. Why, don't we, too, 'lose bits of flesh in the inkstand?' as some writer or other has said. Well, as to your case, or, rather, the case you are taking an interest in. It has been conducted abominably. There is no good reason for appealing. Still," he continued, "we can but try to get the sentence revoked. This is what I have noted down." He took up several sheets of paper covered with writing, and began to read rapidly, slurring over the uninteresting legal terms and laying particular stress on some sentences. "To the Court of Appeal, criminal department, etc., etc. According to the decisions, etc., the verdict, etc., So-and-so Maslova pronounced guilty of having caused the death through poison of the merchant Smelkoff, and has, according to Statute 1454 of the penal code, been sentenced to Siberia," etc., etc. He stopped. Evidently, in spite of his being so used to it, he still felt pleasure in listening to his own productions. "This sentence is the direct result of the most glaring judicial perversion and error," he continued, impressively, "and there are grounds for its revocation. Firstly, the reading of the medical report of the examination of Smelkoff's intestines was interrupted by the president at the very beginning. This is point one."
"But it was the prosecuting side that demanded this reading," Nekhludoff said, with surprise.
"That does not matter. There might have been reasons for the defence to demand this reading, too."
"Oh, but there could have been no reason whatever for that."
"It is a ground for appeal, though. To continue: 'Secondly,' he went on reading, 'when Maslova's advocate, in his speech for the defence, wishing to characterise Maslova's personality, referred to the causes of her fall, he was interrupted by the president calling him to order for the alleged deviation from the direct subject. Yet, as has been repeatedly pointed out by the Senate, the elucidation of the criminal's characteristics and his or her moral standpoint in general has a significance of the first importance in criminal cases, even if only as a guide in the settling of the question of imputation.' That's point two," he said, with a look at Nekhludoff.
"But he spoke so badly that no one could make anything of it," Nekhludoff said, still more astonished.
"The fellow's quite a fool, and of course could not be expected to say anything sensible," Fanarin said, laughing; "but, all the same, it will do as a reason for appeal. Thirdly: 'The president, in his summing up, contrary to the direct decree of section 1, statute 801, of the criminal code, omitted to inform the jury what the judicial points are that constitute guilt; and did not mention that having admitted the fact of Maslova having administered the poison to Smelkoff, the jury had a right not to impute the guilt of murder to her, since the proofs of wilful intent to deprive Smelkoff of life were absent, and only to pronounce her guilty of carelessness resulting in the death of the merchant, which she did not desire.' This is the chief point."
"Yes; but we ought to have known that ourselves. It was our mistake."
"And now the fourth point," the advocate continued. "The form of the answer given by the jury contained an evident contradiction. Maslova is accused of wilfully poisoning Smelkoff, her one object being that of cupidity, the only motive to commit murder she could have had. The jury in their verdict acquit her of the intent to rob, or participation in the stealing of valuables, from which it follows that they intended also to acquit her of the intent to murder, and only through a misunderstanding, which arose from the incompleteness of the president's summing up, omitted to express it in due form in their answer. Therefore an answer of this kind by the jury absolutely demanded the application of statutes 816 and 808 of the criminal code of procedure, i.e., an explanation by the president to the jury of the mistake made by them, and another debate on the question of the prisoner's guilt."
"Then why did the president not do it?"
"I, too, should like to know why," Fanarin said, laughing.
"Then the Senate will, of course, correct this error?"
"That will all depend on who will preside there at the time. Well, now, there it is. I have further said," he continued, rapidly, "a verdict of this kind gave the Court no right to condemn Maslova to be punished as a criminal, and to apply section 3, statute 771 of the penal code to her case. This is a decided and gross violation of the basic principles of our criminal law. In view of the reasons stated, I have the honour of appealing to you, etc., etc., the refutation, according to 909, 910, and section 2, 912 and 928 statute of the criminal code, etc., etc. . . . to carry this case before another department of the same Court for a further examination. There; all that can be done is done, but, to be frank, I have little hope of success, though, of course, it all depends on what members will be present at the Senate. If you have any influence there you can but try."
"I do know some."
"All right; only be quick about it. Else they'll all go off for a change of air; then you may have to wait three months before they return. Then, in case of failure, we have still the possibility of appealing to His Majesty. This, too, depends on the private influence you can bring to work. In this case, too, I am at your service; I mean as to the working of the petition, not the influence."
"Thank you. Now as to your fees?"
"My assistant will hand you the petition and tell you."
"One thing more. The Procureur gave me a pass for visiting this person in prison, but they tell me I must also get a permission from the governor in order to get an interview at another time and in another place than those appointed. Is this necessary?"
"Yes, I think so. But the governor is away at present; a vice-governor is in his place. And he is such an impenetrable fool that you'll scarcely be able to do anything with him."
"Is it Meslennikoff?"
"I know him," said Nekhludoff, and got up to go. At this moment a horribly ugly, little, bony, snub-nosed, yellow-faced woman flew into the room. It was the advocate's wife, who did not seem to be in the least bit troubled by her ugliness. She was attired in the most original manner; she seemed enveloped in something made of velvet and silk, something yellow and green, and her thin hair was crimped.
She stepped out triumphantly into the ante-room, followed by a tall, smiling man, with a greenish complexion, dressed in a coat with silk facings, and a white tie. This was an author. Nekhludoff knew him by sight.
She opened the cabinet door and said, "Anatole, you must come to me. Here is Simeon Ivanovitch, who will read his poems, and you must absolutely come and read about Garshin."
Nekhludoff noticed that she whispered something to her husband, and, thinking it was something concerning him, wished to go away, but she caught him up and said: "I beg your pardon, Prince, I know you, and, thinking an introduction superfluous, I beg you to stay and take part in our literary matinee. It will be most interesting. M. Fanarin will read."
"You see what a lot I have to do," said Fanarin, spreading out his hands and smilingly pointing to his wife, as if to show how impossible it was to resist so charming a creature.
Nekhludoff thanked the advocate's wife with extreme politeness for the honour she did him in inviting him, but refused the invitation with a sad and solemn look, and left the room.
"What an affected fellow!" said the advocate's wife, when he had gone out.
In the ante-room the assistant handed him a ready-written petition, and said that the fees, including the business with the Senate and the commission, would come to 1,000 roubles, and explained that M. Fanarin did not usually undertake this kind of business, but did it only to oblige Nekhludoff.
"And about this petition. Who is to sign it?"
"The prisoner may do it herself, or if this is inconvenient, M. Fanarin can, if he gets a power of attorney from her."
"Oh, no. I shall take the petition to her and get her to sign it," said Nekhludoff, glad of the opportunity of seeing her before the appointed day.
At the usual time the jailer's whistle sounded in the corridors of the prison, the iron doors of the cells rattled, bare feet pattered, heels clattered, and the prisoners who acted as scavengers passed along the corridors, filling the air with disgusting smells. The prisoners washed, dressed, and came out for revision, then went to get boiling water for their tea.
The conversation at breakfast in all the cells was very lively. It was all about two prisoners who were to be flogged that day. One, Vasiliev, was a young man of some education, a clerk, who had killed his mistress in a fit of jealousy. His fellow-prisoners liked him because he was merry and generous and firm in his behaviour with the prison authorities. He knew the laws and insisted on their being carried out. Therefore he was disliked by the authorities. Three weeks before a jailer struck one of the scavengers who had spilt some soup over his new uniform. Vasiliev took the part of the scavenger, saying that it was not lawful to strike a prisoner.
"I'll teach you the law," said the jailer, and gave Vasiliev a scolding. Vasiliev replied in like manner, and the jailer was going to hit him, but Vasiliev seized the jailer's hands, held them fast for about three minutes, and, after giving the hands a twist, pushed the jailer out of the door. The jailer complained to the inspector, who ordered Vasiliev to be put into a solitary cell.
The solitary cells were a row of dark closets, locked from outside, and there were neither beds, nor chairs, nor tables in them, so that the inmates had to sit or lie on the dirty floor, while the rats, of which there were a great many in those cells, ran across them. The rats were so bold that they stole the bread from the prisoners, and even attacked them if they stopped moving. Vasiliev said he would not go into the solitary cell, because he had not done anything wrong; but they used force. Then he began struggling, and two other prisoners helped him to free himself from the jailers. All the jailers assembled, and among them was Petrov, who was distinguished for his strength. The prisoners got thrown down and pushed into the solitary cells.
The governor was immediately informed that something very like a rebellion had taken place. And he sent back an order to flog the two chief offenders, Vasiliev and the tramp, Nepomnishy, giving each thirty strokes with a birch rod. The flogging was appointed to take place in the women's interviewing-room.
All this was known in the prison since the evening, and it was being talked about with animation in all the cells.
Korableva, Khoroshevka, Theodosia, and Maslova sat together in their corner, drinking tea, all of them flushed and animated by the vodka they had drunk, for Maslova, who now had a constant supply of vodka, freely treated her companions to it.
"He's not been a-rioting, or anything," Korableva said, referring to Vasiliev, as she bit tiny pieces off a lump of sugar with her strong teeth. "He only stuck up for a chum, because it's not lawful to strike prisoners nowadays."
"And he's a fine fellow, I've heard say," said Theodosia, who sat bareheaded, with her long plaits round her head, on a log of wood opposite the shelf bedstead on which the teapot stood.
"There, now, if you were to ask _him_," the watchman's wife said to Maslova (by him she meant Nekhludoff).
"I shall tell him. He'll do anything for me," Maslova said, tossing her head, and smiling.
"Yes, but when is he coming? and they've already gone to fetch them," said Theodosia. "It is terrible," she added, with a sigh.
"I once did see how they flogged a peasant in the village. Father-in-law, he sent me once to the village elder. Well, I went, and there . . . " The watchman's wife began her long story, which was interrupted by the sound of voices and steps in the corridor above them.
The women were silent, and sat listening.
"There they are, hauling him along, the devils!" Khoroshavka said. "They'll do him to death, they will. The jailers are so enraged with him because he never would give in to them."
All was quiet again upstairs, and the watchman's wife finished her story of how she was that frightened when she went into the barn and saw them flogging a peasant, her inside turned at the sight, and so on. Khoroshevka related how Schegloff had been flogged, and never uttered a sound. Then Theodosia put away the tea things, and Korableva and the watchman's wife took up their sewing. Maslova sat down on the bedstead, with her arms round her knees, dull and depressed. She was about to lie down and try to sleep, when the woman warder called her into the office to see a visitor.
"Now, mind, and don't forget to tell him about us," the old woman (Menshova) said, while Maslova was arranging the kerchief on her head before the dim looking-glass. "We did not set fire to the house, but he himself, the fiend, did it; his workman saw him do it, and will not damn his soul by denying it. You just tell to ask to see my Mitri. Mitri will tell him all about it, as plain as can be. Just think of our being locked up in prison when we never dreamt of any ill, while he, the fiend, is enjoying himself at the pub, with another man's wife."
"That's not the law," remarked Korableva.
"I'll tell him--I'll tell him," answered Maslova. "Suppose I have another drop, just to keep up courage," she added, with a wink; and Korableva poured out half a cup of vodka, which Maslova drank. Then, having wiped her mouth and repeating the words "just to keep up courage," tossing her head and smiling gaily, she followed the warder along the corridor.
Nekhludoff had to wait in the hall for a long time. When he had arrived at the prison and rung at the entrance door, he handed the permission of the Procureur to the jailer on duty who met him.
"No, no," the jailer on duty said hurriedly, "the inspector is engaged."
"In the office?" asked Nekhludoff.
"No, here in the interviewing-room.".
"Why, is it a visiting day to-day?"
"No; it's special business."
"I should like to see him. What am I to do?" said Nekhludoff.
"When the inspector comes out you'll tell him--wait a bit," said the jailer.
At this moment a sergeant-major, with a smooth, shiny face and moustaches impregnated with tobacco smoke, came out of a side door, with the gold cords of his uniform glistening, and addressed the jailer in a severe tone.
"What do you mean by letting any one in here? The office. . . ."
"I was told the inspector was here," said Nekhludoff, surprised at the agitation he noticed in the sergeant-major's manner.
At this moment the inner door opened, and Petrov came out, heated and perspiring.
"He'll remember it," he muttered, turning to the sergeant major. The latter pointed at Nekhludoff by a look, and Petrov knitted his brows and went out through a door at the back.
"Who will remember it? Why do they all seem so confused? Why did the sergeant-major make a sign to him?" Nekhludoff thought.
The sergeant-major, again addressing Nekhludoff, said: "You cannot meet here; please step across to the office." And Nekhludoff was about to comply when the inspector came out of the door at the back, looking even more confused than his subordinates, and sighing continually. When he saw Nekhludoff he turned to the jailer.
"Fedotoff, have Maslova, cell 5, women's ward, taken to the office."
"Will you come this way, please," he said, turning to Nekhludoff. They ascended a steep staircase and entered a little room with one window, a writing-table, and a few chairs in it. The inspector sat down.
"Mine are heavy, heavy duties," he remarked, again addressing Nekhludoff, and took out a cigarette.
"You are tired, evidently," said Nekhludoff.
"Tired of the whole of the service--the duties are very trying. One tries to lighten their lot and only makes it worse; my only thought is how to get away. Heavy, heavy duties!"
Nekhludoff did not know what the inspector's particular difficulties were, but he saw that to-day he was in a peculiarly dejected and hopeless condition, calling for pity.
"Yes, I should think the duties were heavy for a kind-hearted man," he said. "Why do you serve in this capacity?"
"I have a family."
"But, if it is so hard--"
"Well, still you know it is possible to be of use in some measure; I soften down all I can. Another in my place would conduct the affairs quite differently. Why, we have more than 2,000 persons here. And what persons! One must know how to manage them. It is easier said than done, you know. After all, they are also men; one cannot help pitying them." The inspector began telling Nekhludoff of a fight that had lately taken place among the convicts, which had ended by one man being killed.
The story was interrupted by the entrance of Maslova, who was accompanied by a jailer.
Nekhludoff saw her through the doorway before she had noticed the inspector. She was following the warder briskly, smiling and tossing her head. When she saw the inspector she suddenly changed, and gazed at him with a frightened look; but, quickly recovering, she addressed Nekhludoff boldly and gaily.
"How d'you do?" she said, drawling out her words, and smilingly took his hand and shook it vigorously, not like the first time.
"Here, I've brought you a petition to sign," said Nekhludoff, rather surprised by the boldness with which she greeted him to-day.
"The advocate has written out a petition which you will have to sign, and then we shall send it to Petersburg."
"All right! That can be done. Anything you like," she said, with a wink and a smile.
And Nekhludoff drew a folded paper from his pocket and went up to the table.
"May she sign it here?" asked Nekhludoff, turning to the inspector.
"It's all right, it's all right! Sit down. Here's a pen; you can write?" said the inspector.
"I could at one time," she said; and, after arranging her skirt and the sleeves of her jacket, she sat down at the table, smiled awkwardly, took the pen with her small, energetic hand, and glanced at Nekhludoff with a laugh.
Nekhludoff told her what to write and pointed out the place where to sign.
Sighing deeply as she dipped her pen into the ink, and carefully shaking some drops off the pen, she wrote her name.
"Is it all?" she asked, looking from Nekhludoff to the inspector, and putting the pen now on the inkstand, now on the papers.
"I have a few words to tell you," Nekhludoff said, taking the pen from her.
"All right; tell me," she said. And suddenly, as if remembering something, or feeling sleepy, she grew serious.
The inspector rose and left the room, and Nekhludoff remained with her.
The jailer who had brought Maslova in sat on a windowsill at some distance from them.
The decisive moment had come for Nekhludoff. He had been incessantly blaming himself for not having told her the principal thing at the first interview, and was now determined to tell her that he would marry her. She was sitting at the further side of the table. Nekhludoff sat down opposite her. It was light in the room, and Nekhludoff for the first time saw her face quite near. He distinctly saw the crowsfeet round her eyes, the wrinkles round her mouth, and the swollen eyelids. He felt more sorry than before. Leaning over the table so as not to be heard by the jailer--a man of Jewish type with grizzly whiskers, who sat by the window--Nekhludoff said:
"Should this petition come to nothing we shall appeal to the Emperor. All that is possible shall be done."
"There, now, if we had had a proper advocate from the first," she interrupted. "My defendant was quite a silly. He did nothing but pay me compliments," she said, and laughed. "If it had then been known that I was acquainted with you, it would have been another matter. They think every one's a thief."
"How strange she is to-day," Nekhludoff thought, and was just going to say what he had on his mind when she began again:
"There's something I want to say. We have here an old woman; such a fine one, d'you know, she just surprises every one; she is imprisoned for nothing, and her son, too, and everybody knows they are innocent, though they are accused of having set fire to a house. D'you know, hearing I was acquainted with you, she says: 'Tell him to ask to see my son; he'll tell him all about it."' Thus spoke Maslova, turning her head from side to side, and glancing at Nekhludoff. "Their name's Menshoff. Well, will you do it? Such a fine old thing, you know; you can see at once she's innocent. You'll do it, there's a dear," and she smiled, glanced up at him, and then cast down her eyes.
"All right. I'll find out about them," Nekhludoff said, more and more astonished by her free-and-easy manner. "But I was going to speak to you about myself. Do you remember what I told you last time?"
"You said a lot last time. What was it you told me?" she said, continuing to smile and to turn her head from side to side.
"I said I had come to ask you to forgive me," he began.
"What's the use of that? Forgive, forgive, where's the good of--"
"To atone for my sin, not by mere words, but in deed. I have made up my mind to marry you."
An expression of fear suddenly came over her face. Her squinting eyes remained fixed on him, and yet seemed not to be looking at him.
"What's that for?" she said, with an angry frown.
"I feel that it is my duty before God to do it."
"What God have you found now? You are not saying what you ought to. God, indeed! What God? You ought to have remembered God then," she said, and stopped with her mouth open. It was only now that Nekhludoff noticed that her breath smelled of spirits, and that he understood the cause of her excitement.
"Try and be calm," he said.
"Why should I be calm?" she began, quickly, flushing scarlet. "I am a convict, and you are a gentleman and a prince. There's no need for you to soil yourself by touching me. You go to your princesses; my price is a ten-rouble note."
"However cruelly you may speak, you cannot express what I myself am feeling," he said, trembling all over; "you cannot imagine to what extent I feel myself guilty towards you."
"Feel yourself guilty?" she said, angrily mimicking him. "You did not feel so then, but threw me 100 roubles. That's your price."
"I know, I know; but what is to be done now?" said Nekhludoff. "I have decided not to leave you, and what I have said I shall do."
"And I say you sha'n't," she said, and laughed aloud.
"Katusha," he said, touching her hand.
"You go away. I am a convict and you a prince, and you've no business here," she cried, pulling away her hand, her whole appearance transformed by her wrath. "You've got pleasure out of me in this life, and want to save yourself through me in the life to come. You are disgusting to me--your spectacles and the whole of your dirty fat mug. Go, go!" she screamed, starting to her feet.
The jailer came up to them.
"What are you kicking up this row for?' That won't--"
"Let her alone, please," said Nekhludoff.
"She must not forget herself," said the jailer. "Please wait a little," said Nekhludoff, and the jailer returned to the window.
Maslova sat down again, dropping her eyes and firmly clasping her small hands.
Nekhludoff stooped over her, not knowing what to do.
"You do not believe me?" he said.
"That you mean to marry me? It will never be. I'll rather hang myself. So there!"
"Well, still I shall go on serving you."
"That's your affair, only I don't want anything from you. I am telling you the plain truth," she said. "Oh, why did I not die then?" she added, and began to cry piteously.
Nekhludoff could not speak; her tears infected him.
She lifted her eyes, looked at him in surprise, and began to wipe her tears with her kerchief.
The jailer came up again and reminded them that it was time to part.
"You are excited. If it is possible, I shall come again tomorrow; you think it over," said Nekhludoff.
She gave him no answer and, without looking up, followed the jailer out of the room.
"Well, lass, you'll have rare times now," Korableva said, when Maslova returned to the cell. "Seems he's mighty sweet on you; make the most of it while he's after you. He'll help you out. Rich people can do anything."
"Yes, that's so," remarked the watchman's wife, with her musical voice. "When a poor man thinks of getting married, there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip; but a rich man need only make up his mind and it's done. We knew a toff like that duckie. What d'you think he did?"
"Well, have you spoken about my affairs?" the old woman asked.
But Maslova gave her fellow-prisoners no answer; she lay down on the shelf bedstead, her squinting eyes fixed on a corner of the room, and lay there until the evening.
A painful struggle went on in her soul. What Nekhludoff had told her called up the memory of that world in which she had suffered and which she had left without having understood, hating it. She now feared to wake from the trance in which she was living. Not having arrived at any conclusion when evening came, she again bought some vodka and drank with her companions.
"So this is what it means, this," thought Nekhludoff as he left the prison, only now fully understanding his crime. If he had not tried to expiate his guilt he would never have found out how great his crime was. Nor was this all; she, too, would never have felt the whole horror of what had been done to her. He only now saw what he had done to the soul of this woman; only now she saw and understood what had been done to her.
Up to this time Nekhludoff had played with a sensation of self-admiration, had admired his own remorse; now he was simply filled with horror. He knew he could not throw her up now, and yet he could not imagine what would come of their relations to one another.
Just as he was going out, a jailer, with a disagreeable, insinuating countenance, and a cross and medals on his breast, came up and handed him a note with an air of mystery.
"Here is a note from a certain person, your honour," he said to Nekhludoff as he gave him the envelope.
"You will know when you read it. A political prisoner. I am in that ward, so she asked me; and though it is against the rules, still feelings of humanity--" The jailer spoke in an unnatural manner.
Nekhludoff was surprised that a jailer of the ward where political prisoners were kept should pass notes inside the very prison walls, and almost within sight of every one; he did not then know that this was both a jailer and a spy. However, he took the note and read it on coming out of the prison.
The note was written in a bold hand, and ran as follows: "Having heard that you visit the prison, and are interested in the case of a criminal prisoner, the desire of seeing you arose in me. Ask for a permission to see me. I can give you a good deal of information concerning your protegee, and also our group.--Yours gratefully, VERA DOUKHOVA."
Vera Doukhova had been a school-teacher in an out-of-the-way village of the Novgorod Government, where Nekhludoff and some friends of his had once put up while bear hunting. Nekhludoff gladly and vividly recalled those old days, and his acquaintance with Doukhova. It was just before Lent, in an isolated spot, 40 miles from the railway. The hunt had been successful; two bears had been killed; and the company were having dinner before starting on their return journey, when the master of the hut where they were putting up came in to say that the deacon's daughter wanted to speak to Prince Nekhludoff. "Is she pretty?" some one asked. "None of that, please," Nekhludoff said, and rose with a serious look on his face. Wiping his mouth, and wondering what the deacon's daughter might want of him, he went into the host's private hut.
There he found a girl with a felt hat and a warm cloak on--a sinewy, ugly girl; only her eyes with their arched brows were beautiful.
"Here, miss, speak to him," said the old housewife; "this is the prince himself. I shall go out meanwhile."
"In what way can I be of service to you?" Nekhludoff asked.
"I--I--I see you are throwing away your money on such nonsense--on hunting," began the girl, in great confusion. "I know--I only want one thing--to be of use to the people, and I can do nothing because I know nothing--" Her eyes were so truthful, so kind, and her expression of resoluteness and yet bashfulness was so touching, that Nekhludoff, as it often happened to him, suddenly felt as if he were in her position, understood, and sympathised.
"What can I do, then?"
"I am a teacher, but should like to follow a course of study; and I am not allowed to do so. That is, not that I am not allowed to; they'd allow me to, but I have not got the means. Give them to me, and when I have finished the course I shall repay you. I am thinking the rich kill bears and give the peasants drink; all this is bad. Why should they not do good? I only want 80 roubles. But if you don't wish to, never mind," she added, gravely.
"On the contrary, I am very grateful to you for this opportunity. . . . I will bring it at once," said Nekhludoff.
He went out into the passage, and there met one of his comrades, who had been overhearing his conversation. Paying no heed to his chaffing, Nekhludoff got the money out of his bag and took it to her.
"Oh, please, do not thank me; it is I who should thank you," he said.
It was pleasant to remember all this now; pleasant to remember that he had nearly had a quarrel with an officer who tried to make an objectionable joke of it, and how another of his comrades had taken his part, which led to a closer friendship between them. How successful the whole of that hunting expedition had been, and how happy he had felt when returning to the railway station that night. The line of sledges, the horses in tandem, glide quickly along the narrow road that lies through the forest, now between high trees, now between low firs weighed down by the snow, caked in heavy lumps on their branches. A red light flashes in the dark, some one lights an aromatic cigarette. Joseph, a bear driver, keeps running from sledge to sledge, up to his knees in snow, and while putting things to rights he speaks about the elk which are now going about on the deep snow and gnawing the bark off the aspen trees, of the bears that are lying asleep in their deep hidden dens, and his breath comes warm through the opening in the sledge cover. All this came back to Nekhludoff's mind; but, above all, the joyous sense of health, strength, and freedom from care: the lungs breathing in the frosty air so deeply that the fur cloak is drawn tightly on his chest, the fine snow drops off the low branches on to his face, his body is warm, his face feels fresh, and his soul is free from care, self-reproach, fear, or desire. How beautiful it was. And now, O God! what torment, what trouble!
Evidently Vera Doukhova was a revolutionist and imprisoned as such. He must see her, especially as she promised to advise him how to lighten Maslova's lot.
Awaking early the next morning, Nekhludoff remembered what he had done the day before, and was seized with fear.
But in spite of this fear, he was more determined than ever to continue what he had begun.
Conscious of a sense of duty, he left the house and went to see Maslennikoff in order to obtain from him a permission to visit Maslova in prison, and also the Menshoffs--mother and son--about whom Maslova had spoken to him. Nekhludoff had known this Maslennikoff a long time; they had been in the regiment together. At that time Maslennikoff was treasurer to the regiment.
He was a kind-hearted and zealous officer, knowing and wishing to know nothing beyond the regiment and the Imperial family. Now Nekhludoff saw him as an administrator, who had exchanged the regiment for an administrative office in the government where he lived. He was married to a rich and energetic woman, who had forced him to exchange military for civil service. She laughed at him, and caressed him, as if he were her own pet animal. Nekhludoff had been to see them once during the winter, but the couple were so uninteresting to him that he had not gone again.
At the sight of Nekhludoff Maslennikoff's face beamed all over. He had the same fat red face, and was as corpulent and as well dressed as in his military days. Then, he used to be always dressed in a well-brushed uniform, made according to the latest fashion, tightly fitting his chest and shoulders; now, it was a civil service uniform he wore, and that, too, tightly fitted his well-fed body and showed off his broad chest, and was cut according to the latest fashion. In spite of the difference in age (Maslennikoff was 40), the two men were very familiar with one another.
"Halloo, old fellow! How good of you to come! Let us go and see my wife. I have just ten minutes to spare before the meeting. My chief is away, you know. I am at the head of the Government administration," he said, unable to disguise his satisfaction.
"I have come on business."
"What is it?" said Maslennikoff, in an anxious and severe tone, putting himself at once on his guard.
"There is a person, whom I am very much interested in, in prison" (at the word "prison" Maslennikoff's face grew stern); "and I should like to have an interview in the office, and not in the common visiting-room. I have been told it depended on you."
"Certainly, mon cher," said Maslennikoff, putting both hands on Nekhludoff's knees, as if to tone down his grandeur; "but remember, I am monarch only for an hour."
"Then will you give me an order that will enable me to see her?"
"It's a woman?"
"What is she there for?"
"Poisoning, but she has been unjustly condemned."
"Yes, there you have it, your justice administered by jury, ils n'en font point d'autres," he said, for some unknown reason, in French. "I know you do not agree with me, but it can't be helped, c'est mon opinion bien arretee," he added, giving utterance to an opinion he had for the last twelve months been reading in the retrograde Conservative paper. "I know you are a Liberal."
"I don't know whether I am a Liberal or something else," Nekhludoff said, smiling; it always surprised him to find himself ranked with a political party and called a Liberal, when he maintained that a man should be heard before he was judged, that before being tried all men were equal, that nobody at all ought to be ill-treated and beaten, but especially those who had not yet been condemned by law. "I don't know whether I am a Liberal or not; but I do know that however had the present way of conducting a trial is, it is better than the old."
"And whom have you for an advocate?"
"I have spoken to Fanarin."
"Dear me, Fanarin!" said Meslennikoff, with a grimace, recollecting how this Fanarin had examined him as a witness at a trial the year before and had, in the politest manner, held him up to ridicule for half an hour.
"I should not advise you to have anything to do with him. _Fanarin est un homme tare_."
"I have one more request to make," said Nekhludoff, without answering him. "There's a girl whom I knew long ago, a teacher; she is a very pitiable little thing, and is now also imprisoned, and would like to see me. Could you give me a permission to visit her?"
Meslennikoff bent his head on one side and considered.
"She's a political one?"
"Yes, I have been told so."
"Well, you see, only relatives get permission to visit political prisoners. Still, I'll give you an open order. _Je sais que vous n'abuserez pas_. What's the name of your protegee? Doukhova? _Elle est jolie?_"
Maslennikoff shook his head disapprovingly, went up to the table, and wrote on a sheet of paper, with a printed heading: "The bearer, Prince Dmitri Ivanovitch Nekhludoff, is to be allowed to interview in the prison office the meschanka Maslova, and also the medical assistant, Doukhova," and he finished with an elaborate flourish.
"Now you'll be able to see what order we have got there. And it is very difficult to keep order, it is so crowded, especially with people condemned to exile; but I watch strictly, and love the work. You will see they are very comfortable and contented. But one must know how to deal with them. Only a few days ago we had a little trouble--insubordination; another would have called it mutiny, and would have made many miserable, but with us it all passed quietly. We must have solicitude on one hand, firmness and power on the other," and he clenched the fat, white, turquoise-ringed fist, which issued out of the starched cuff of his shirt sleeve, fastened with a gold stud. "Solicitude and firm power."
"Well, I don't know about that," said Nekhludoff. "I went there twice, and felt very much depressed."
"Do you know, you ought to get acquainted with the Countess Passek," continued Maslennikoff, growing talkative. "She has given herself up entirely to this sort of work. Elle fait beaucoup de bien. Thanks to her--and, perhaps I may add without false modesty, to me--everything has been changed, changed in such a way that the former horrors no longer exist, and they are really quite comfortable there. Well, you'll see. There's Fanarin. I do not know him personally; besides, my social position keeps our ways apart; but he is positively a bad man, and besides, he takes the liberty of saying such things in the court--such things!"
"Well, thank you," Nekhludoff said, taking the paper, and without listening further he bade good-day to his former comrade.
"And won't you go in to see my wife?"
"No, pray excuse me; I have no time now."
"Dear me, why she will never forgive me," said Maslennikoff, accompanying his old acquaintance down to the first landing, as he was in the habit of doing to persons of not the greatest, but the second greatest importance, with whom he classed Nekhludoff; "now do go in, if only for a moment."
But Nekhludoff remained firm; and while the footman and the door-keeper rushed to give him his stick and overcoat, and opened the door, outside of which there stood a policeman, Nekhludoff repeated that he really could not come in.
"Well, then; on Thursday, please. It is her 'at-home.' I will tell her you will come," shouted Maslennikoff from the stairs.
Nekhludoff drove that day straight from Maslennikoff's to the prison, and went to the inspector's lodging, which he now knew. He was again struck by the sounds of the same piano of inferior quality; but this time it was not a rhapsody that was being played, but exercises by Clementi, again with the same vigour, distinctness, and quickness. The servant with the bandaged eye said the inspector was in, and showed Nekhludoff to a small drawing-room, in which there stood a sofa and, in front of it, a table, with a large lamp, which stood on a piece of crochet work, and the paper shade of which was burnt on one side. The chief inspector entered, with his usual sad and weary look.
"Take a seat, please. What is it you want?" he said, buttoning up the middle button of his uniform.
"I have just been to the vice-governor's, and got this order from him. I should like to see the prisoner Maslova."
"Markova?" asked the inspector, unable to bear distinctly because of the music.
"Well, yes." The inspector got up and went to the door whence proceeded Clementi's roulades.
"Mary, can't you stop just a minute?" he said, in a voice that showed that this music was the bane of his life. "One can't hear a word."
The piano was silent, but one could hear the sound of reluctant steps, and some one looked in at the door.
The inspector seemed to feel eased by the interval of silence, lit a thick cigarette of weak tobacco, and offered one to Nekhludoff.
"What I want is to see Maslova."
"Oh, yes, that can be managed. Now, then, what do you want?" he said, addressing a little girl of five or six, who came into the room and walked up to her father with her head turned towards Nekhludoff, and her eyes fixed on him.
"There, now, you'll fall down," said the inspector, smiling, as the little girl ran up to him, and, not looking where she was going, caught her foot in a little rug.
"Well, then, if I may, I shall go."
"It's not very convenient to see Maslova to-day," said the inspector.
"Well, you know, it's all your own fault," said the inspector, with a slight smile. "Prince, give her no money into her hands. If you like, give it me. I will keep it for her. You see, you gave her some money yesterday; she got some spirits (it's an evil we cannot manage to root out), and to-day she is quite tipsy, even violent."
"Can this be true?"
"Oh, yes, it is. I have even been obliged to have recourse to severe measures, and to put her into a separate cell. She is a quiet woman in an ordinary way. But please do not give her any money. These people are so--" What had happened the day before came vividly back to Nekhludoff's mind, and again he was seized with fear.
"And Doukhova, a political prisoner; might I see her?"
"Yes, if you like," said the inspector. He embraced the little girl, who was still looking at Nekhludoff, got up, and, tenderly motioning her aside, went into the ante-room. Hardly had he got into the overcoat which the maid helped him to put on, and before he had reached the door, the distinct sounds of Clementi's roulades again began.
"She entered the Conservatoire, but there is such disorder there. She has a great gift," said the inspector, as they went down the stairs. "She means to play at concerts."
The inspector and Nekhludoff arrived at the prison. The gates were instantly opened as they appeared. The jailers, with their fingers lifted to their caps, followed the inspector with their eyes. Four men, with their heads half shaved, who were carrying tubs filled with something, cringed when they saw the inspector. One of them frowned angrily, his black eyes glaring.
"Of course a talent like that must be developed; it would not do to bury it, but in a small lodging, you know, it is rather hard." The inspector went on with the conversation, taking no notice of the prisoners.
"Who is it you want to see?"
"Oh, she's in the tower. You'll have to wait a little," he said.
"Might I not meanwhile see the prisoners Menshoff, mother and son, who are accused of incendiarism?"
"Oh, yes. Cell No. 21. Yes, they can be sent for."
"But might I not see Menshoff in his cell?"
"Oh, you'll find the waiting-room more pleasant."
"No. I should prefer the cell. It is more interesting."
"Well, you have found something to be interested in!"
Here the assistant, a smartly-dressed officer, entered the side door.
"Here, see the Prince into Menshoff's cell, No. 21," said the inspector to his assistant, "and then take him to the office. And I'll go and call--What's her name? Vera Doukhova."
The inspector's assistant was young, with dyed moustaches, and diffusing the smell of eau-de-cologne. "This way, please," he said to Nekhludoff, with a pleasant smile. "Our establishment interests you?"
"Yes, it does interest me; and, besides, I look upon it as a duty to help a man who I heard was confined here, though innocent."
The assistant shrugged his shoulders.
"Yes, that may happen," he said quietly, politely stepping aside to let the visitor enter, the stinking corridor first. "But it also happens that they lie. Here we are."
The doors of the cells were open, and some of the prisoners were in the corridor. The assistant nodded slightly to the jailers, and cast a side glance at the prisoners, who, keeping close to the wall, crept back to their cells, or stood like soldiers, with their arms at their sides, following the official with their eyes. After passing through one corridor, the assistant showed Nekhludoff into another to the left, separated from the first by an iron door. This corridor was darker, and smelt even worse than the first. The corridor had doors on both sides, with little holes in them about an inch in diameter. There was only an old jailer, with an unpleasant face, in this corridor.
"Where is Menshoff?" asked the inspector's assistant.
"The eighth cell to the left."
"And these? Are they occupied?" asked Nekhludoff.
"Yes, all but one."
"May I look in?" asked Nekhludoff.
"Oh, certainly," answered the assistant, smiling, and turned to the jailer with some question.
Nekhludoff looked into one of the little holes, and saw a tall young man pacing up and down the cell. When the man heard some one at the door he looked up with a frown, but continued walking up and down.
Nekhludoff looked into another hole. His eye met another large eye looking out of the hole at him, and he quickly stepped aside. In the third cell he saw a very small man asleep on the bed, covered, head and all, with his prison cloak. In the fourth a broad-faced man was sitting with his elbows on his knees and his head low down. At the sound of footsteps this man raised his head and looked up. His face, especially his large eyes, bore the expression of hopeless dejection. One could see that it did not even interest him to know who was looking into his cell. Whoever it might be, he evidently hoped for nothing good from him. Nekhludoff was seized with dread, and went to Menshoff's cell, No. 21, without stopping to look through any more holes. The jailer unlocked the door and opened it. A young man, with long neck, well-developed muscles, a small head, and kind, round eyes, stood by the bed, hastily putting on his cloak, and looking at the newcomers with a frightened face. Nekhludoff was specially struck by the kind, round eyes that were throwing frightened and inquiring glances in turns at him, at the jailer, and at the assistant, and back again.
"Here's a gentleman wants to inquire into your affair."
"Thank you kindly."
"Yes, I was told about you," Nekhludoff said, going through the cell up to the dirty grated window, "and I should like to hear all about it from yourself."
Menshoff also came up to the window, and at once started telling his story, at first looking shyly at the inspector's assistant, but growing gradually bolder. When the assistant left the cell and went into the corridor to give some order the man grew quite bold. The story was told with the accent and in the manner common to a most ordinary good peasant lad. To hear it told by a prisoner dressed in this degrading clothing, and inside a prison, seemed very strange to Nekhludoff. Nekhludoff listened, and at the same time kept looking around him--at the low bedstead with its straw mattress, the window and the dirty, damp wall, and the piteous face and form of this unfortunate, disfigured peasant in his prison cloak and shoes, and he felt sadder and sadder, and would have liked not to believe what this good-natured fellow was saying. It seemed too dreadful to think that men could do such a thing as to take a man, dress him in convict clothes, and put him in this horrible place without any reason only because he himself had been injured. And yet the thought that this seemingly true story, told with such a good-natured expression on the face, might be an invention and a lie was still more dreadful. This was the story: The village public-house keeper had enticed the young fellow's wife. He tried to get justice by all sorts of means. But everywhere the public-house keeper managed to bribe the officials, and was acquitted. Once, he took his wife back by force, but she ran away next day. Then he came to demand her back, but, though he saw her when he came in, the public-house keeper told him she was not there, and ordered him to go away. He would not go, so the public-house keeper and his servant beat him so that they drew blood. The next day a fire broke out in the public-house, and the young man and his mother were accused of having set the house on fire. He had not set it on fire, but was visiting a friend at the time.
"And it is true that you did not set it on fire?"
"It never entered my head to do it, sir. It must be my enemy that did it himself. They say he had only just insured it. Then they said it was mother and I that did it, and that we had threatened him. It is true I once did go for him, my heart couldn't stand it any longer."
"Can this be true?"
"God is my witness it is true. Oh, sir, be so good--" and Nekhludoff had some difficulty to prevent him from bowing down to the ground. "You see I am perishing without any reason." His face quivered and he turned up the sleeve of his cloak and began to cry, wiping the tears with the sleeve of his dirty shirt.
"Are you ready?" asked the assistant.
"Yes. Well, cheer up. We will consult a good lawyer, and will do what we can," said Nekhludoff, and went out. Menshoff stood close to the door, so that the jailer knocked him in shutting it, and while the jailer was locking it he remained looking out through the little hole.
Passing back along the broad corridor (it was dinner time, and the cell doors were open), among the men dressed in their light yellow cloaks, short, wide trousers, and prison shoes, who were looking eagerly at him, Nekhludoff felt a strange mixture of sympathy for them, and horror and perplexity at the conduct of those who put and kept them here, and, besides, he felt, he knew not why, ashamed of himself calmly examining it all.
In one of the corridors, some one ran, clattering with his shoes, in at the door of a cell. Several men came out from here, and stood in Nekhludoff's way, bowing to him.
"Please, your honour (we don't know what to call you), get our affair settled somehow."
"I am not an official. I know nothing about it."
"Well, anyhow, you come from outside; tell somebody--one of the authorities, if need be," said an indignant voice. "Show some pity on us, as a human being. Here we are suffering the second month for nothing."
"What do you mean? Why?" said Nekhludoff.
"Why? We ourselves don't know why, but are sitting here the second month."
"Yes, it's quite true, and it is owing to an accident," said the inspector. "These people were taken up because they had no passports, and ought to have been sent back to their native government; but the prison there is burnt, and the local authorities have written, asking us not to send them on. So we have sent all the other passportless people to their different governments, but are keeping these."
"What! For no other reason than that?" Nekhludoff exclaimed, stopping at the door.
A crowd of about forty men, all dressed in prison clothes, surrounded him and the assistant, and several began talking at once. The assistant stopped them.
"Let some one of you speak."
A tall, good-looking peasant, a stone-mason, of about fifty, stepped out from the rest. He told Nekhludoff that all of them had been ordered back to their homes and were now being kept in prison because they had no passports, yet they had passports which were only a fortnight overdue. The same thing had happened every year; they had many times omitted to renew their passports till they were overdue, and nobody had ever said anything; but this year they had been taken up and were being kept in prison the second month, as if they were criminals.
"We are all masons, and belong to the same artel. We are told that the prison in our government is burnt, but this is not our fault. Do help us."
Nekhludoff listened, but hardly understood what the good-looking old man was saying, because his attention was riveted to a large, dark-grey, many-legged louse that was creeping along the good-looking man's cheek.
"How's that? Is it possible for such a reason?" Nekhludoff said, turning to the assistant.
"Yes, they should have been sent off and taken back to their homes," calmly said the assistant, "but they seem to have been forgotten or something."
Before the assistant had finished, a small, nervous man, also in prison dress, came out of the crowd, and, strangely contorting his mouth, began to say that they were being ill-used for nothing.
"Worse than dogs," he began.
"Now, now; not too much of this. Hold your tongue, or you know--"
"What do I know?" screamed the little man, desperately. "What is our crime?"
"Silence!" shouted the assistant, and the little man was silent.
"But what is the meaning of all this?" Nekhludoff thought to himself as he came out of the cell, while a hundred eyes were fixed upon him through the openings of the cell doors and from the prisoners that met him, making him feel as if he were running the gauntlet.
"Is it really possible that perfectly innocent people are kept here?" Nekhludoff uttered when they left the corridor.
"What would you have us do? They lie so. To hear them talk they are all of them innocent," said the inspector's assistant. "But it does happen that some are really imprisoned for nothing."
"Well, these have done nothing."
"Yes, we must admit it. Still, the people are fearfully spoilt. There are such types--desperate fellows, with whom one has to look sharp. To-day two of that sort had to be punished."
"Flogged with a birch-rod, by order."
"But corporal punishment is abolished."
"Not for such as are deprived of their rights. They are still liable to it."
Nekhludoff thought of what he had seen the day before while waiting in the hall, and now understood that the punishment was then being inflicted, and the mixed feeling of curiosity, depression, perplexity, and moral nausea, that grew into physical sickness, took hold of him more strongly than ever before.
Without listening to the inspector's assistant, or looking round, he hurriedly left the corridor, and went to the office. The inspector was in the office, occupied with other business, and had forgotten to send for Doukhova. He only remembered his promise to have her called when Nekhludoff entered the office.
"Sit down, please. I'll send for her at once," said the inspector.
The office consisted of two rooms. The first room, with a large, dilapidated stove and two dirty windows, had a black measure for measuring the prisoners in one corner, and in another corner hung a large image of Christ, as is usual in places where they torture people. In this room stood several jailers. In the next room sat about twenty persons, men and women in groups and in pairs, talking in low voices. There was a writing table by the window.
The inspector sat down by the table, and offered Nekhludoff a chair beside him. Nekhludoff sat down, and looked at the people in the room.
The first who drew his attention was a young man with a pleasant face, dressed in a short jacket, standing in front of a middle-aged woman with dark eyebrows, and he was eagerly telling her something and gesticulating with his hands. Beside them sat an old man, with blue spectacles, holding the hand of a young woman in prisoner's clothes, who was telling him something. A schoolboy, with a fixed, frightened look on his face, was gazing at the old man. In one corner sat a pair of lovers. She was quite young and pretty, and had short, fair hair, looked energetic, and was elegantly dressed; he had fine features, wavy hair, and wore a rubber jacket. They sat in their corner and seemed stupefied with love. Nearest to the table sat a grey-haired woman dressed in black, evidently the mother of a young, consumptive-looking fellow, in the same kind of jacket. Her head lay on his shoulder. She was trying to say something, but the tears prevented her from speaking; she began several times, but had to stop. The young man held a paper in his hand, and, apparently not knowing what to do, kept folding and pressing it with an angry look on his face.
Beside them was a short-haired, stout, rosy girl, with very prominent eyes, dressed in a grey dress and a cape; she sat beside the weeping mother, tenderly stroking her. Everything about this girl was beautiful; her large, white hands, her short, wavy hair, her firm nose and lips, but the chief charm of her face lay in her kind, truthful hazel eyes. The beautiful eyes turned away from the mother for a moment when Nekhludoff came in, and met his look. But she turned back at once and said something to the mother.
Not far from the lovers a dark, dishevelled man, with a gloomy face, sat angrily talking to a beardless visitor, who looked as if he belonged to the Scoptsy sect.
At the very door stood a young man in a rubber jacket, who seemed more concerned about the impression he produced on the onlooker than about what he was saying. Nekhludoff, sitting by the inspector's side, looked round with strained curiosity. A little boy with closely-cropped hair came up to him and addressed him in a thin little voice.
"And whom are you waiting for?"
Nekhludoff was surprised at the question, but looking at the boy, and seeing the serious little face with its bright, attentive eyes fixed on him, answered him seriously that he was waiting for a woman of his acquaintance.
"Is she, then, your sister?" the boy asked.
"No, not my sister," Nekhludoff answered in surprise.
"And with whom are you here?" he inquired of the boy.
"I? With mamma; she is a political one," he replied.
"Mary Pavlovna, take Kolia!" said the inspector, evidently considering Nekhludoff's conversation with the boy illegal.
Mary Pavlovna, the beautiful girl who had attracted Nekhludoff's attention, rose tall and erect, and with firm, almost manly steps, approached Nekhludoff and the boy.
"What is he asking you? Who you are?" she inquired with a slight smile, and looking straight into his face with a trustful look in her kind, prominent eyes, and as simply as if there could be no doubt whatever that she was and must be on sisterly terms with everybody.
"He likes to know everything," she said, looking at the boy with so sweet and kind a smile that both the boy and Nekhludoff were obliged to smile back.
"He was asking me whom I have come to see."
"Mary Pavlovna, it is against the rules to speak to strangers. You know it is," said the inspector.
"All right, all right," she said, and went back to the consumptive lad's mother, holding Kolia's little hand in her large, white one, while he continued gazing up into her face.
"Whose is this little boy?" Nekhludoff asked of the inspector.
"His mother is a political prisoner, and he was born in prison," said the inspector, in a pleased tone, as if glad to point out how exceptional his establishment was.
"Is it possible?"
"Yes, and now he is going to Siberia with her."
"And that young girl?"
"I cannot answer your question," said the inspector, shrugging his shoulders. "Besides, here is Doukhova."
Through a door, at the back of the room, entered, with a wriggling gait, the thin, yellow Vera Doukhova, with her large, kind eyes.
"Thanks for having come," she said, pressing Nekhludoff's hand. "Do you remember me? Let us sit down."
"I did not expect to see you like this."
"Oh, I am very happy. It is so delightful, so delightful, that I desire nothing better," said Vera Doukhova, with the usual expression of fright in the large, kind, round eyes fixed on Nekhludoff, and twisting the terribly thin, sinewy neck, surrounded by the shabby, crumpled, dirty collar of her bodice. Nekhludoff asked her how she came to be in prison.
In answer she began relating all about her affairs with great animation. Her speech was intermingled with a great many long words, such as propaganda, disorganisation, social groups, sections and sub-sections, about which she seemed to think everybody knew, but which Nekhludoff had never heard of.
She told him all the secrets of the Nardovolstvo, [literally, "People's Freedom," a revolutionary movement] evidently convinced that he was pleased to hear them. Nekhludoff looked at her miserable little neck, her thin, unkempt hair, and wondered why she had been doing all these strange things, and why she was now telling all this to him. He pitied her, but not as he had pitied Menshoff, the peasant, kept for no fault of his own in the stinking prison. She was pitiable because of the confusion that filled her mind. It was clear that she considered herself a heroine, and was ready to give her life for a cause, though she could hardly have explained what that cause was and in what its success would lie.
The business that Vera Doukhova wanted to see Nekhludoff about was the following: A friend of hers, who had not even belonged to their "sub-group," as she expressed it, had been arrested with her about five months before, and imprisoned in the Petropavlovsky fortress because some prohibited books and papers (which she had been asked to keep) had been found in her possession. Vera Doukhova felt herself in some measure to blame for her friend's arrest, and implored Nekhludoff, who had connections among influential people, to do all he could in order to set this friend free.
Besides this, Doukhova asked him to try and get permission for another friend of hers, Gourkevitch (who was also imprisoned in the Petropavlovsky fortress), to see his parents, and to procure some scientific books which he required for his studies. Nekhludoff promised to do what he could when he went to Petersburg.
As to her own story, this is what she said: Having finished a course of midwifery, she became connected with a group of adherents to the Nardovolstvo, and made up her mind to agitate in the revolutionary movement. At first all went on smoothly. She wrote proclamations and occupied herself with propaganda work in the factories; then, an important member having been arrested, their papers were seized and all concerned were arrested. "I was also arrested, and shall be exiled. But what does it matter? I feel perfectly happy." She concluded her story with a piteous smile.
Nekhludoff made some inquiries concerning the girl with the prominent eyes. Vera Doukhova told him that this girl was the daughter of a general, and had been long attached to the revolutionary party, and was arrested because she had pleaded guilty to having shot a gendarme. She lived in a house with some conspirators, where they had a secret printing press. One night, when the police came to search this house, the occupiers resolved to defend themselves, put out the light, and began destroying the things that might incriminate them. The police forced their way in, and one of the conspirators fired, and mortally wounded a gendarme. When an inquiry was instituted, this girl said that it was she who had fired, although she had never had a revolver in her hands, and would not have hurt a fly. And she kept to it, and was now condemned to penal servitude in Siberia.
"An altruistic, fine character," said Vera Doukhova, approvingly.
The third business that Vera Doukhova wanted to talk about concerned Maslova. She knew, as everybody does know in prison, the story of Maslova's life and his connection with her, and advised him to take steps to get her removed into the political prisoner's ward, or into the hospital to help to nurse the sick, of which there were very many at that time, so that extra nurses were needed.
Nekhludoff thanked her for the advice, and said he would try to act upon it.
Their conversation was interrupted by the inspector, who said that the time was up, and the prisoners and their friends must part. Nekhludoff took leave of Vera Doukhova and went to the door, where he stopped to watch what was going on.
The inspector's order called forth only heightened animation among the prisoners in the room, but no one seemed to think of going. Some rose and continued to talk standing, some went on talking without rising. A few began crying and taking leave of each other. The mother and her consumptive son seemed especially pathetic. The young fellow kept twisting his bit of paper and his face seemed angry, so great were his efforts not to be infected by his mother's emotion. The mother, hearing that it was time to part, put her head on his shoulder and sobbed and sniffed aloud.
The girl with the prominent eyes--Nekhludoff could not help watching her--was standing opposite the sobbing mother, and was saying something to her in a soothing tone. The old man with the blue spectacles stood holding his daughter's hand and nodding in answer to what she said. The young lovers rose, and, holding each other's hands, looked silently into one another's eyes.
"These are the only two who are merry," said a young man with a short coat who stood by Nekhludoff's side, also looking at those who were about to part, and pointed to the lovers. Feeling Nekhludoff's and the young man's eyes fixed on them, the lovers-- the young man with the rubber coat and the pretty girl--stretched out their arms, and with their hands clasped in each other's, danced round and round again. "To-night they are going to be married here in prison, and she will follow him to Siberia," said the young man.
"What is he?"
"A convict, condemned to penal servitude. Let those two at least have a little joy, or else it is too painful," the young man added, listening to the sobs of the consumptive lad's mother.
"Now, my good people! Please, please do not oblige me to have recourse to severe measures," the inspector said, repeating the same words several times over. "Do, please," he went on in a weak, hesitating manner. "It is high time. What do you mean by it? This sort of thing is quite impossible. I am now asking you for the last time," he repeated wearily, now putting out his cigarette and then lighting another.
It was evident that, artful, old, and common as were the devices enabling men to do evil to others without feeling responsible for it, the inspector could not but feel conscious that he was one of those who were guilty of causing the sorrow which manifested itself in this room. And it was apparent that this troubled him sorely. At length the prisoners and their visitors began to go--the first out of the inner, the latter out of the outer door. The man with the rubber jacket passed out among them, and the consumptive youth and the dishevelled man. Mary Pavlovna went out with the boy born in prison.
The visitors went out too. The old man with the blue spectacles, stepping heavily, went out, followed by Nekhludoff.
"Yes, a strange state of things this," said the talkative young man, as if continuing an interrupted conversation, as he descended the stairs side by side with Nekhludoff. "Yet we have reason to be grateful to the inspector who does not keep strictly to the rules, kind-hearted fellow. If they can get a talk it does relieve their hearts a bit, after all!"
While talking to the young man, who introduced himself as Medinzeff, Nekhludoff reached the hall. There the inspector came up to them with weary step.
"If you wish to see Maslova," he said, apparently desiring to be polite to Nekhludoff, "please come to-morrow."
"Very well," answered Nekhludoff, and hurried away, experiencing more than ever that sensation of moral nausea which he always felt on entering the prison.
The sufferings of the evidently innocent Menshoff seemed terrible, and not so much his physical suffering as the perplexity, the distrust in the good and in God which he must feel, seeing the cruelty of the people who tormented him without any reason.
Terrible were the disgrace and sufferings cast on these hundreds of guiltless people simply because something was not written on paper as it should have been. Terrible were the brutalised jailers, whose occupation is to torment their brothers, and who were certain that they were fulfilling an important and useful duty; but most terrible of all seemed this sickly, elderly, kind-hearted inspector, who was obliged to part mother and son, father and daughter, who were just the same sort of people as he and his own children.
"What is it all for?" Nekhludoff asked himself, and could not find an answer.
The next day Nekhludoff went to see the advocate, and spoke to him about the Menshoffs' case, begging him to undertake their defence. The advocate promised to look into the case, and if it turned out to be as Nekhludoff said he would in all probability undertake the defence free of charge. Then Nekhludoff told him of the 130 men who were kept in prison owing to a mistake. "On whom did it depend? Whose fault was it?"
The advocate was silent for a moment, evidently anxious to give a correct reply.
"Whose fault is it? No one's," he said, decidedly. "Ask the Procureur, he'll say it is the Governor's; ask the Governor, he'll say it is the Procureur's fault. No one is in fault."
"I am just going to see the Vice-Governor. I shall tell him."
"Oh, that's quite useless," said the advocate, with a smile. "He is such a--he is not a relation or friend of yours?--such a blockhead, if I may say so, and yet a crafty animal at the same time."
Nekhludoff remembered what Maslennikoff had said about the advocate, and did not answer, but took leave and went on to Maslennikoff's. He had to ask Maslennikoff two things: about Maslova's removal to the prison hospital, and about the 130 passportless men innocently imprisoned. Though it was very hard to petition a man whom he did not respect, and by whose orders men were flogged, yet it was the only means of gaining his end, and he had to go through with it.
As he drove up to Maslennikoff's house Nekhludoff saw a number of different carriages by the front door, and remembered that it was Maslennikoff's wife's "at-home" day, to which he had been invited. At the moment Nekhludoff drove up there was a carriage in front of the door, and a footman in livery, with a cockade in his hat, was helping a lady down the doorstep. She was holding up her train, and showing her thin ankles, black stockings, and slippered feet. Among the carriages was a closed landau, which he knew to be the Korchagins'.
The grey-haired, red-checked coachman took off his hat and bowed in a respectful yet friendly manner to Nekhludoff, as to a gentleman he knew well. Nekhludoff had not had time to inquire for Maslennikoff, when the latter appeared on the carpeted stairs, accompanying a very important guest not only to the first landing but to the bottom of the stairs. This very important visitor, a military man, was speaking in French about a lottery for the benefit of children's homes that were to be founded in the city, and expressed the opinion that this was a good occupation for the ladies. "It amuses them, and the money comes."
_"Qu'elles s'amusent et que le bon dieu les benisse. M. Nekhludoff!_ How d'you do? How is it one never sees you?" he greeted Nekhludoff. "_Allez presenter vos devoirs a Madame._ And the Korchagins are here et Nadine Bukshevden. _Toutes les jolies femmes de la ville,_" said the important guest, slightly raising his uniformed shoulders as he presented them to his own richly liveried servant to have his military overcoat put on. "_Au revoir, mon cher._" And he pressed Maslennikoff's hand.
"Now, come up; I am so glad," said Maslennikoff, grasping Nekhludoff's hand. In spite of his corpulency Maslennikoff hurried quickly up the stairs. He was in particularly good spirits, owing to the attention paid him by the important personage. Every such attention gave him the same sense of delight as is felt by an affectionate dog when its master pats it, strokes it, or scratches its ears. It wags its tail, cringes, jumps about, presses its ears down, and madly rushes about in a circle. Maslennikoff was ready to do the same. He did not notice the serious expression on Nekhludoff's face, paid no heed to his words, but pulled him irresistibly towards the drawing-room, so that it was impossible for Nekhludoff not to follow. "Business after wards. I shall do whatever you want," said Meslennikoff, as he drew Nekhludoff through the dancing hall. "Announce Prince Nekhludoff," he said to a footman, without stopping on his way. The footman started off at a trot and passed them.
"_Vous n'avez qu' a ordonner._ But you must see my wife. As it is, I got it for letting you go without seeing her last time."
By the time they reached the drawing-room the footman had already announced Nekhludoff, and from between the bonnets and heads that surrounded it the smiling face of Anna Ignatievna, the Vice-Governor's wife, beamed on Nekhludoff. At the other end of the drawing-room several ladies were seated round the tea-table, and some military men and some civilians stood near them. The clatter of male and female voices went on unceasingly.
"Enfin! you seem to have quite forgotten us. How have we offended?" With these words, intended to convey an idea of intimacy which had never existed between herself and Nekhludoff, Anna Ignatievna greeted the newcomer.
"You are acquainted?--Madam Tilyaevsky, M. Chernoff. Sit down a bit nearer. Missy _vene donc a notre table on vous apportera votre_ the . . . And you," she said, having evidently forgotten his name, to an officer who was talking to Missy, "do come here. A cup of tea, Prince?"
"I shall never, never agree with you. It's quite simple; she did not love," a woman's voice was heard saying.
"But she loved tarts."
"Oh, your eternal silly jokes!" put in, laughingly, another lady resplendent in silks, gold, and jewels.
"C'est excellent these little biscuits, and so light. I think I'll take another."
"Well, are you moving soon?"
"Yes, this is our last day. That's why we have come. Yes, it must be lovely in the country; we are having a delightful spring."
Missy, with her hat on, in a dark-striped dress of some kind that fitted her like a skin, was looking very handsome. She blushed when she saw Nekhludoff.
"And I thought you had left," she said to him.
"I am on the point of leaving. Business is keeping me in town, and it is on business I have come here."
"Won't you come to see mamma? She would like to see you," she said, and knowing that she was saying what was not true, and that he knew it also, she blushed still more.
"I fear I shall scarcely have time," Nekhludoff said gloomily, trying to appear as if he had not noticed her blush. Missy frowned angrily, shrugged her shoulders, and turned towards an elegant officer, who grasped the empty cup she was holding, and knocking his sword against the chairs, manfully carried the cup across to another table.
"You must contribute towards the Home fund."
"I am not refusing, but only wish to keep my bounty fresh for the lottery. There I shall let it appear in all its glory."
"Well, look out for yourself," said a voice, followed by an evidently feigned laugh.
Anna Ignatievna was in raptures; her "at-home" had turned out a brilliant success. "Micky tells me you are busying yourself with prison work. I can understand you so well," she said to Nekhludoff. "Micky (she meant her fat husband, Maslennikoff) may have other defects, but you know how kind-hearted he is. All these miserable prisoners are his children. He does not regard them in any other light. _Il est d'une bonte---_" and she stopped, finding no words to do justice to this bonte of his, and quickly turned to a shrivelled old woman with bows of lilac ribbon all over, who came in just then.
Having said as much as was absolutely necessary, and with as little meaning as conventionality required, Nekhludoff rose and went up to Meslennikoff. "Can you give me a few minutes' hearing, please?"
"Oh, yes. Well, what is it?"
"Let us come in here."
They entered a small Japanese sitting-room, and sat down by the window.
"Well? _Je suis a vous_. Will you smoke? But wait a bit; we must be careful and not make a mess here," said Maslennikoff, and brought an ashpan. "Well?"
"There are two matters I wish to ask you about."
An expression of gloom and dejection came over Maslennikoff's countenance, and every trace of the excitement, like that of the dog's whom its master has scratched behind the cars, vanished completely. The sound of voices reached them from the drawing- room. A woman's voice was heard, saying, _"Jamais je ne croirais,"_ and a man's voice from the other side relating something in which the names of la Comtesse Voronzoff and Victor Apraksine kept recurring. A hum of voices, mixed with laughter, came from another side. Maslennikoff tried to listen to what was going on in the drawing-room and to what Nekhludoff was saying at the same time.
"I am again come about that same woman," said Nekhludoff.
"Oh, yes; I know. The one innocently condemned."
"I would like to ask that she should be appointed to serve in the prison hospital. I have been told that this could be arranged."
Maslennikoff compressed his lips and meditated. "That will be scarcely possible," he said. "However, I shall see what can be done, and shall wire you an answer tomorrow."
"I have been told that there were many sick, and help was needed."
"All right, all right. I shall let you know in any case."
"Please do," said Nekhludoff.
The sound of a general and even a natural laugh came from the drawing-room.
"That's all that Victor. He is wonderfully sharp when he is in the right vein," said Maslennikoff.
"The next thing I wanted to tell you," said Nekhludoff, "is that 130 persons are imprisoned only because their passports are overdue. They have been kept here a month."
And he related the circumstances of the case.
"How have you come to know of this?" said Maslennikoff, looking uneasy and dissatisfied.
"I went to see a prisoner, and these men came and surrounded me in the corridor, and asked . . ."
"What prisoner did you go to see?"
"A peasant who is kept in prison, though innocent. I have put his case into the hands of a lawyer. But that is not the point."
"Is it possible that people who have done no wrong are imprisoned only because their passports are overdue? And . . ."
"That's the Procureur's business," Maslennikoff interrupted, angrily. "There, now, you see what it is you call a prompt and just form of trial. It is the business of the Public Prosecutor to visit the prison and to find out if the prisoners are kept there lawfully. But that set play cards; that's all they do."
"Am I to understand that you can do nothing?" Nekhludoff said, despondently, remembering that the advocate had foretold that the Governor would put the blame on the Procureur.
"Oh, yes, I can. I shall see about it at once."
"So much the worse for her. _C'est un souffre douleur_," came the voice of a woman, evidently indifferent to what she was saying, from the drawing-room.
"So much the better. I shall take it also," a man's voice was heard to say from the other side, followed by the playful laughter of a woman, who was apparently trying to prevent the man from taking something away from her.
"No, no; not on any account," the woman's voice said.
"All right, then. I shall do all this," Maslennikoff repeated, and put out the cigarette he held in his white, turquoise-ringed hand. "And now let us join the ladies."
"Wait a moment," Nekhludoff said, stopping at the door of the drawing-room. "I was told that some men had received corporal punishment in the prison yesterday. Is this true?"
"Oh, that's what you are after? No, mon cher, decidedly it won't do to let you in there; you want to get at everything. Come, come; Anna is calling us," he said, catching Nekhludoff by the arm, and again becoming as excited as after the attention paid him by the important person, only now his excitement was not joyful, but anxious.
Nekhludoff pulled his arm away, and without taking leave of any one and without saying a word, he passed through the drawing-room with a dejected look, went down into the hall, past the footman, who sprang towards him, and out at the street door.
"What is the matter with him? What have you done to him?" asked Anna of her husband.
"This is _a la Francaise_," remarked some one.
"_A la Francaise_, indeed--it is _a la Zoulou_."
"Oh, but he's always been like that."
Some one rose, some one came in, and the clatter went on its course. The company used this episode with Nekhludoff as a convenient topic of conversation for the rest of the "at-home."
On the day following his visit to Maslennikoff, Nekhludoff received a letter from him, written in a fine, firm hand, on thick, glazed paper, with a coat-of-arms, and sealed with sealing-wax. Maslennikoff said that he had written to the doctor concerning Maslova's removal to the hospital, and hoped Nekhludoff's wish would receive attention. The letter was signed, "Your affectionate elder comrade," and the signature ended with a large, firm, and artistic flourish. "Fool!" Nekhludoff could not refrain from saying, especially because in the word "comrade" he felt Maslennikoff's condescension towards him, i.e., while Maslennikoff was filling this position, morally most dirty and shameful, he still thought himself a very important man, and wished, if not exactly to flatter Nekhludoff, at least to show that he was not too proud to call him comrade.
One of the most widespread superstitions is that every man has his own special, definite qualities; that a man is kind, cruel, wise, stupid, energetic, apathetic, etc. Men are not like that. We may say of a man that he is more often kind than cruel, oftener wise than stupid, oftener energetic than apathetic, or the reverse; but it would be false to say of one man that he is kind and wise, of another that he is wicked and foolish. And yet we always classify mankind in this way. And this is untrue. Men are like rivers: the water is the same in each, and alike in all; but every river is narrow here, is more rapid there, here slower, there broader, now clear, now cold, now dull, now warm. It is the same with men. Every man carries in himself the germs of every human quality, and sometimes one manifests itself, sometimes another, and the man often becomes unlike himself, while still remaining the same man, In some people these changes are very rapid, and Nekhludoff was such a man. These changes in him were due to physical and to spiritual causes. At this time he experienced such a change.
That feeling of triumph and joy at the renewal of life which he had experienced after the trial and after the first interview with Katusha, vanished completely, and after the last interview fear and revulsion took the place of that joy. He was determined not to leave her, and not to change his decision of marrying her, if she wished it; but it seemed very hard, and made him suffer.
On the day after his visit to Maslennikoff, he again went to the prison to see her.
The inspector allowed him to speak to her, only not in the advocate's room nor in the office, but in the women's visiting-room. In spite of his kindness, the inspector was more reserved with Nekhludoff than hitherto.
An order for greater caution had apparently been sent, as a result of his conversation with Meslennikoff.
"You may see her," the inspector said; "but please remember what I said as regards money. And as to her removal to the hospital, that his excellency wrote to me about, it can be done; the doctor would agree. Only she herself does not wish it. She says, 'Much need have I to carry out the slops for the scurvy beggars.' You don't know what these people are, Prince," he added.
Nekhludoff did not reply, but asked to have the interview. The inspector called a jailer, whom Nekhludoff followed into the women's visiting-room, where there was no one but Maslova waiting. She came from behind the grating, quiet and timid, close up to him, and said, without looking at him:
"Forgive me, Dmitri Ivanovitch, I spoke hastily the day before yesterday."
"It is not for me to forgive you," Nekhludoff began.
"But all the same, you must leave me," she interrupted, and in the terribly squinting eyes with which she looked at him Nekhludoff read the former strained, angry expression.
"Why should I leave you?"
"But why so?"
She again looked up, as it seemed to him, with the same angry look.
"Well, then, thus it is," she said. "You must leave me. It is true what I am saying. I cannot. You just give it up altogether." Her lips trembled and she was silent for a moment. "It is true. I'd rather hang myself."
Nekhludoff felt that in this refusal there was hatred and unforgiving resentment, but there was also something besides, something good. This confirmation of the refusal in cold blood at once quenched all the doubts in Nekhludoff's bosom, and brought back the serious, triumphant emotion he had felt in relation to Katusha.
"Katusha, what I have said I will again repeat," he uttered, very seriously. "I ask you to marry me. If you do not wish it, and for as long as you do not wish it, I shall only continue to follow you, and shall go where you are taken."
"That is your business. I shall not say anything more," she answered, and her lips began to tremble again.
He, too, was silent, feeling unable to speak.
"I shall now go to the country, and then to Petersburg," he said, when he was quieter again. "I shall do my utmost to get your--- our case, I mean, reconsidered, and by the help of God the sentence may be revoked."
"And if it is not revoked, never mind. I have deserved it, if not in this case, in other ways," she said, and he saw how difficult it was for her to keep down her tears.
"Well, have you seen Menshoff?" she suddenly asked, to hide her emotion. "It's true they are innocent, isn't it?"
"Yes, I think so."
"Such a splendid old woman," she said.
There was another pause.
"Well, and as to the hospital?" she suddenly said, and looking at him with her squinting eyes. "If you like, I will go, and I shall not drink any spirits, either."
Nekhludoff looked into her eyes. They were smiling.
"Yes, yes, she is quite a different being," Nekhludoff thought. After all his former doubts, he now felt something he had never before experienced--the certainty that love is invincible.
When Maslova returned to her noisome cell after this interview, she took off her cloak and sat down in her place on the shelf bedstead with her hands folded on her lap. In the cell were only the consumptive woman, the Vladimir woman with her baby, Menshoff's old mother, and the watchman's wife. The deacon's daughter had the day before been declared mentally diseased and removed to the hospital. The rest of the women were away, washing clothes. The old woman was asleep, the cell door stood open, and the watchman's children were in the corridor outside. The Vladimir woman, with her baby in her arms, and the watchman's wife, with the stocking she was knitting with deft fingers, came up to Maslova. "Well, have you had a chat?" they asked. Maslova sat silent on the high bedstead, swinging her legs, which did not reach to the floor.
"What's the good of snivelling?" said the watchman's wife. "The chief thing's not to go down into the dumps. Eh, Katusha? Now, then!" and she went on, quickly moving her fingers.
Maslova did not answer.
"And our women have all gone to wash," said the Vladimir woman. "I heard them say much has been given in alms to-day. Quite a lot has been brought."
"Finashka," called out the watchman's wife, "where's the little imp gone to?"
She took a knitting needle, stuck it through both the ball and the stocking, and went out into the corridor.
At this moment the sound of women's voices was heard from the corridor, and the inmates of the cell entered, with their prison shoes, but no stockings on their feet. Each was carrying a roll, some even two. Theodosia came at once up to Maslova.
"What's the matter; is anything wrong?" Theodosia asked, looking lovingly at Maslova with her clear, blue eyes. "This is for our tea," and she put the rolls on a shelf.
"Why, surely he has not changed his mind about marrying?" asked Korableva.
"No, he has not, but I don't wish to," said Maslova, "and so I told him."
"More fool you!" muttered Korableva in her deep tones.
"If one's not to live together, what's the use of marrying?" said Theodosia.
"There's your husband--he's going with you," said the watchman's wife.
"Well, of course, we're married," said Theodosia. "But why should he go through the ceremony if he is not to live with her?"
"Why, indeed! Don't be a fool! You know if he marries her she'll roll in wealth," said Korableva.
"He says, 'Wherever they take you, I'll follow,'" said Maslova. "If he does, it's well; if he does not, well also. I am not going to ask him to. Now he is going to try and arrange the matter in Petersburg. He is related to all the Ministers there. But, all the same, I have no need of him," she continued.
"Of course not," suddenly agreed Korableva, evidently thinking about something else as she sat examining her bag. "Well, shall we have a drop?"
"You have some," replied Maslova. "I won't."
END OF BOOK I.
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