A Hero of Our Time
M. Y. Lermontov
Part 4 out of 5
In order completely to undeceive her, I
replied in French, with a slight bow:
"Ne craignez rien, madame, je ne suis pas plus
dangereux que votre cavalier" . . .
She grew embarrassed -- but at what? At her
own mistake, or because my answer struck her as
insolent? I should like the latter hypothesis to
be correct. Grushnitski cast a discontented
glance at me.
Late in the evening, that is to say, about eleven
o'clock, I went for a walk in the lilac avenue of the
boulevard. The town was sleeping; lights were
gleaming in only a few windows. On three sides
loomed the black ridges of the cliffs, the spurs of
Mount Mashuk, upon the summit of which an
ominous cloud was lying. The moon was rising
in the east; in the distance, the snow-clad moun-
tains glistened like a fringe of silver. The calls
of the sentries mingled at intervals with the roar
of the hot springs let flow for the night. At
times the loud clattering of a horse rang out
along the street, accompanied by the creaking
of a Nagai wagon and the plaintive burden of a
I sat down upon a bench and fell into a
reverie. . . I felt the necessity of pouring forth
my thoughts in friendly conversation. . . But
with whom? . . .
"What is Vera doing now?" I wondered.
I would have given much to press her hand at
All at once I heard rapid and irregular
steps. . . Grushnitski, no doubt! . . . So it
"Where have you come from?"
"From Princess Ligovski's," he said very
importantly. "How well Mary does sing!" . . .
"Do you know?" I said to him. "I wager
that she does not know that you are a cadet. She
thinks you are an officer reduced to the ranks" . . .
"Maybe so. What is that to me!" . . . he
"No, I am only saying so" . . .
"But, do you know that you have made her
terribly angry to-day? She considered it an un-
heard-of piece of insolence. It was only with
difficulty that I was able to convince her that you
are so well bred and know society so well that you
could not have had any intention of insulting her.
She says that you have an impudent glance, and
that you have certainly a very high opinion of
"She is not mistaken. . . But do you not
want to defend her?"
"I am sorry I have not yet the right to do
so" . . .
"Oho!" I said to myself, "evidently he has
"However, it is the worse for you," con-
tinued Grushnitski; "it will be difficult for
you to make their acquaintance now, and what
a pity! It is one of the most agreeable houses
I know" . . .
I smiled inwardly.
"The most agreeable house to me now is my
own," I said, with a yawn, and I got up
"Confess, though, you repent?" . . .
"What nonsense! If I like I will be at
Princess Ligovski's to-morrow evening!" . . .
"We shall see" . . .
"I will even begin to pay my addresses to
Princess Mary, if you would like me to" . . .
"Yes, if she is willing to speak to you" . . .
"I am only awaiting the moment when she will
be bored by your conversation. . . Good-
bye" . . .
"Well, I am going for a stroll; I could not go
to sleep now for anything. . . Look here, let
us go to the restaurant instead, there is card-
playing going on there. . . What I need now
is violent sensations" . . .
"I hope you will lose" . . .
I went home.
NEARLY a week has passed, and I have not
yet made the Ligovskis' acquaintance. I am
awaiting a convenient opportunity. Grushnitski
follows Princess Mary everywhere like a shadow.
Their conversations are interminable; but,
when will she be tired of him? . . . Her
mother pays no attention, because he is not
a man who is in a position to marry. Behold
the logic of mothers! I have caught two
or three tender glances -- this must be put a
Yesterday, for the first time, Vera made
her appearance at the well. . . She has never
gone out of doors since we met in the
grotto. We let down our tumblers at the same
time, and as she bent forward she whispered
"You are not going to make the Ligovskis'
acquaintance? . . . It is only there that we can
meet" . . .
A reproach! . . . How tiresome! But I have
deserved it. . .
By the way, there is a subscription ball to-
morrow in the saloon of the restaurant, and I will
dance the mazurka with Princess Mary.
THE saloon of the restaurant was converted
into the assembly room of a Nobles' Club.
The company met at nine o'clock. Princess
Ligovski and her daughter were amongst the
latest to make their appearance. Several of the
ladies looked at Princess Mary with envy and
malevolence, because she dresses with taste.
Those who look upon themselves as the aris-
tocracy of the place concealed their envy and
attached themselves to her train. What else
could be expected? Wherever there is a gathering
of women, the company is immediately divided
into a higher and a lower circle.
Beneath the window, amongst a crowd of
people, stood Grushnitski, pressing his face to the
pane and never taking his eyes off his divinity.
As she passed by, she gave him a hardly per-
ceptible nod. He beamed like the sun. . .
The first dance was a polonaise, after which the
musicians struck up a waltz. Spurs began to
jingle, and skirts to rise and whirl.
I was standing behind a certain stout lady who
was overshadowed by rose-coloured feathers.
The magnificence of her dress reminded me of
the times of the farthingale, and the motley hue
of her by no means smooth skin, of the happy
epoch of the black taffeta patch. An immense
wart on her neck was covered by a clasp. She was
saying to her cavalier, a captain of dragoons:
"That young Princess Ligovski is a most
intolerable creature! Just fancy, she jostled
against me and did not apologise, but even turned
round and stared at me through her lorgn-
ette! . . . C'est impayable! . . . And what
has she to be proud of? It is time somebody
gave her a lesson" . . .
"That will be easy enough," replied the
obliging captain, and he directed his steps to the
I went up to Princess Mary immediately, and,
availing myself of the local customs which allowed
one to dance with a stranger, I invited her to
waltz with me.
She was scarcely able to keep from smiling and
letting her triumph be seen; but quickly enough
she succeeded in assuming an air of perfect
indifference and even severity. Carelessly she let
her hand fall upon my shoulder, inclined her head
slightly to one side, and we began to dance. I have
never known a waist more voluptuous and supple!
Her fresh breath touched my face; at times a
lock of hair, becoming separated from its com-
panions in the eddy of the waltz, glided over my
burning cheek. . .
I made three turns of the ballroom (she
waltzes surprisingly well). She was out of breath,
her eyes were dulled, her half-open lips were
scarcely able to whisper the indispensable:
After a few moments' silence I said to her,
assuming a very humble air:
"I have heard, Princess, that although quite
unacquainted with you, I have already had the
misfortune to incur your displeasure . . . that
you have considered me insolent. Can that
"Would you like to confirm me in that
opinion now?" she answered, with an ironical
little grimace -- very becoming, however, to her
"If I had the audacity to insult you in any way,
then allow me to have the still greater audacity to
beg your pardon. . . And, indeed, I should
very much like to prove to you that you are
mistaken in regard to me" . . .
"You will find that a rather difficult task" . . .
"But why?" . . .
"Because you never visit us and, most
likely, there will not be many more of these
"That means," I thought, "that their doors
are closed to me for ever."
"You know, Princess," I said to her, with a
certain amount of vexation, "one should never
spurn a penitent criminal: in his despair he may
become twice as much a criminal as before . . .
and then" . . .
Sudden laughter and whispering from the
people around us caused me to turn my head and
to interrupt my phrase. A few paces away from
me stood a group of men, amongst them the
captain of dragoons, who had manifested inten-
tions hostile to the charming Princess. He was
particularly well pleased with something or other,
and was rubbing his hands, laughing and ex-
changing meaning glances with his companions.
All at once a gentleman in an evening-dress coat
and with long moustaches and a red face separated
himself from the crowd and directed his uncertain
steps straight towards Princess Mary. He was
drunk. Coming to a halt opposite the em-
barrassed Princess and placing his hands behind
his back, he fixed his dull grey eyes upon her, and
said in a hoarse treble:
"Permettez . . . but what is the good of that
sort of thing here. . . All I need say is: I en-
gage you for the mazurka" . . .
"Very well!" she replied in a trembling voice,
throwing a beseeching glance around. Alas! Her
mother was a long way off, and not one of the
cavaliers of her acquaintance was near. A certain
aide-de-camp apparently saw the whole scene,
but he concealed himself behind the crowd in
order not to be mixed up in the affair.
"What?" said the drunken gentleman, wink-
ing to the captain of dragoons, who was encourag-
ing him by signs. "Do you not wish to dance
then? . . . All the same I again have the honour
to engage you for the mazurka. . . You think,
perhaps, that I am drunk! That is all right! . . .
I can dance all the easier, I assure you" . . .
I saw that she was on the point of fainting with
fright and indignation.
I went up to the drunken gentleman, caught
him none too gently by the arm, and, looking
him fixedly in the face, requested him to retire.
"Because," I added, "the Princess promised
long ago to dance the mazurka with me."
"Well, then, there's nothing to be done!
Another time!" he said, bursting out laughing,
and he retired to his abashed companions, who
immediately conducted him into another room.
I was rewarded by a deep, wondrous glance.
The Princess went up to her mother and told
her the whole story. The latter sought me out
among the crowd and thanked me. She informed
me that she knew my mother and was on terms of
friendship with half a dozen of my aunts.
"I do not know how it has happened that we
have not made your acquaintance up to now," she
added; "but confess, you alone are to blame for
that. You fight shy of everyone in a positively
unseemly way. I hope the air of my drawing-
room will dispel your spleen. . . Do you not
I uttered one of the phrases which everybody
must have ready for such an occasion.
The quadrilles dragged on a dreadfully long
At last the music struck up from the gallery,
Princess Mary and I took up our places.
I did not once allude to the drunken gentleman,
or to my previous behaviour, or to Grushnitski.
The impression produced upon her by the
unpleasant scene was gradually dispelled; her
face brightened up; she jested very charmingly;
her conversation was witty, without pretensions to
wit, vivacious and spontaneous; her observations
were sometimes profound. . . In a very involved
sentence I gave her to understand that I had
liked her for a long time. She bent her head and
"You are a strange man!" she said, with a
forced laugh, lifting her velvet eyes upon me.
"I did not wish to make your acquaintance," I
continued, "because you are surrounded by too
dense a throng of adorers, in which I was afraid
of being lost to sight altogether."
"You need not have been afraid; they are all
very tiresome" . . .
"All? Not all, surely?"
She looked fixedly at me as if endeavouring to
recollect something, then blushed slightly again
and finally pronounced with decision:
"Even my friend, Grushnitski?"
"But is he your friend?" she said, manifesting
"He, of course, does not come into the category
of the tiresome" . . .
"But into that of the unfortunate!" I said,
"Of course! But do you consider that
funny? I should like you to be in his place" . . .
"Well? I was once a cadet myself, and, in
truth, it was the best time of my life!"
"Is he a cadet, then?" . . . she said rapidly,
and then added: "But I thought" . . .
"What did you think?" . . .
"Nothing! Who is that lady?"
Thereupon the conversation took a different
direction, and it did not return to the former
And now the mazurka came to an end and we
separated -- until we should meet again. The
ladies drove off in different directions. I went to
get some supper, and met Werner.
"Aha!" he said: "so it is you! And yet you
did not wish to make the acquaintance of Princess
Mary otherwise than by saving her from certain
"I have done better," I replied. "I have
saved her from fainting at the ball" . . .
"How was that? Tell me."
"No, guess! -- O, you who guess everything in
ABOUT seven o'clock in the evening, I was
walking on the boulevard. Grushnitski
perceived me a long way off, and came up to me.
A sort of ridiculous rapture was shining in his
eyes. He pressed my hand warmly, and said in a
"I thank you, Pechorin. . . You understand
"No; but in any case it is not worth grati-
tude," I answered, not having, in fact, any good
deed upon my conscience.
"What? But yesterday! Have you for-
gotten? . . . Mary has told me everything" . . .
"Why! Have you everything in common so
soon as this? Even gratitude?" . . .
"Listen," said Grushnitski very earnestly;
"pray do not make fun of my love, if you wish to
remain my friend. . . You see, I love her to
the point of madness . . . and I think -- I
hope -- she loves me too. . . I have a request to
make of you. You will be at their house this even-
ing; promise me to observe everything. I know
you are experienced in these matters, you know
women better than I. . . Women! Women!
Who can understand them? Their smiles contra-
dict their glances, their words promise and allure,
but the tone of their voice repels. . . At one
time they grasp and divine in a moment our most
secret thoughts, at another they cannot under-
stand the clearest hints. . . Take Princess
Mary, now: yesterday her eyes, as they rested
upon me, were blazing with passion; to-day
they are dull and cold" . . .
"That is possibly the result of the waters," I
"You see the bad side of everything . . .
materialist," he added contemptuously. "How-
ever, let us talk of other matters."
And, satisfied with his bad pun, he cheered
At nine o'clock we went to Princess Ligovski's
Passing by Vera's windows, I saw her looking
out. We threw a fleeting glance at each other.
She entered the Ligovskis' drawing-room soon
after us. Princess Ligovski presented me to her,
as a relation of her own. Tea was served. The
guests were numerous, and the conversation was
general. I endeavoured to please the Princess,
jested, and made her laugh heartily a few times.
Princess Mary, also, was more than once on the
point of bursting out laughing, but she restrained
herself in order not to depart from the role she
had assumed. She finds languor becoming to her,
and perhaps she is not mistaken. Grushnitski
appears to be very glad that she is not infected by
After tea we all went into the drawing-
"Are you satisfied with my obedience, Vera?"
I said as I was passing her.
She threw me a glance full of love and grati-
tude. I have grown accustomed to such glances;
but at one time they constituted my felicity.
The Princess seated her daughter at the piano-
forte, and all the company begged her to sing.
I kept silence, and, taking advantage of the
hubbub, I went aside to the window with Vera,
who wished to say something of great import-
ance to both of us. . . It turned out to be --
nonsense. . .
Meanwhile my indifference was vexing Princess
Mary, as I was able to make out from a single
angry, gleaming glance which she cast at me. . .
Oh! I understand the method of conversation
wonderfully well: mute but expressive, brief but
forceful! . . .
She began to sing. She has a good voice, but
she sings badly. . . However, I was not listening.
Grushnitski, on the contrary, leaning his elbows
on the grand piano, facing her, was devouring
her with his eyes and saying in an undertone
every minute: "Charmant! Delicieux!"
"Listen," said Vera to me, "I do not wish you
to make my husband's acquaintance, but you
must, without fail, make yourself agreeable to
the Princess; that will be an easy task for you:
you can do anything you wish. It is only here that
we shall see each other" . . .
"Only here?" . . .
She blushed and continued:
"You know that I am your slave: I have never
been able to resist you . . . and I shall be punished
for it, you will cease to love me! At least, I want
to preserve my reputation . . . not for myself --
that you know very well! . . . Oh! I beseech
you: do not torture me, as before, with idle
doubts and feigned coldness! It may be that I
shall die soon; I feel that I am growing weaker
from day to day. . . And, yet, I cannot think
of the future life, I think only of you. . . You
men do not understand the delights of a glance,
of a pressure of the hand . . . but as for me, I
swear to you that, when I listen to your voice,
I feel such a deep, strange bliss that the most
passionate kisses could not take its place."
Meanwhile, Princess Mary had finished her
song. Murmurs of praise were to be heard all
around. I went up to her after all the other
guests, and said something rather carelessly to
her on the subject of her voice.
She made a little grimace, pouting her lower
lip, and dropped a very sarcastic curtsey.
"That is all the more flattering," she said,
"because you have not been listening to me at
all; but perhaps you do not like music?" . . .
"On the contrary, I do . . . After dinner,
"Grushnitski is right in saying that you have
very prosaic tastes . . . and I see that you like
music in a gastronomic respect."
"You are mistaken again: I am by no means an
epicure. I have a most wretched digestion. But
music after dinner puts one to sleep, and to sleep
after dinner is healthful; consequently I like
music in a medicinal respect. In the evening,
on the contrary, it excites my nerves too much:
I become either too melancholy or too gay. Both
are fatiguing, where there is no positive reason
for being either sorrowful or glad. And, more-
over, melancholy in society is ridiculous, and too
great gaiety is unbecoming" . . .
She did not hear me to the end, but went away
and sat beside Grushnitski, and they entered
into a sort of sentimental conversation. Ap-
parently the Princess answered his sage phrases
rather absent-mindedly and inconsequently,
although endeavouring to show that she was
listening to him with attention, because sometimes
he looked at her in astonishment, trying to divine
the cause of the inward agitation which was
expressed at times in her restless glance . . .
But I have found you out, my dear Princess!
Have a care! You want to pay me back in the
same coin, to wound my vanity -- you will not
succeed! And if you declare war on me, I will
In the course of the evening, I purposely tried
a few times to join in their conversation, but she
met my remarks rather coldly, and, at last, I
retired in pretended vexation. Princess Mary
was triumphant, Grushnitski likewise. Triumph,
my friends, and be quick about it! . . . You will
not have long to triumph! . . . It cannot be
otherwise. I have a presentiment. . . On making
a woman's acquaintance I have always unerringly
guessed whether she would fall in love with me
The remaining part of the evening I spent at
Vera's side, and talked to the full about the
old days. . . Why does she love me so much?
In truth, I am unable to say, all the more so
because she is the only woman who has understood
me perfectly, with all my petty weaknesses and
evil passions. . . Can it be that wickedness is
so attractive? . . .
Grushnitski and I left the house together. In
the street he took my arm, and, after a long
"You are a fool," I should have liked to answer.
But I restrained myself and only shrugged my
ALL these days I have not once departed from
my system. Princess Mary has come to like
talking to me; I have told her a few of the
strange events of my life, and she is beginning to
look on me as an extraordinary man. I mock at
everything in the world, especially feelings; and
she is taking alarm. When I am present, she does
not dare to embark upon sentimental discussions
with Grushnitski, and already, on a few occasions,
she has answered his sallies with a mocking smile.
But every time that Grushnitski comes up to her
I assume an air of meekness and leave the two of
them together. On the first occasion, she was
glad, or tried to make it appear so; on the
second, she was angry with me; on the third --
"You have very little vanity!" she said to me
yesterday. "What makes you think that I find
Grushnitski the more entertaining?"
I answered that I was sacrificing my own
pleasure for the sake of the happiness of a friend.
"And my pleasure, too," she added.
I looked at her intently and assumed a serious
air. After that for the whole day I did not speak
a single word to her. . . In the evening, she was
pensive; this morning, at the well, more pensive
still. When I went up to her, she was listening
absent-mindedly to Grushnitski, who was ap-
parently falling into raptures about Nature, but,
so soon as she perceived me, she began to laugh --
at a most inopportune moment -- pretending not
to notice me. I went on a little further and
began stealthily to observe her. She turned
away from her companion and yawned twice.
Decidedly she had grown tired of Grushnitski -- I
will not talk to her for another two days.
I OFTEN ask myself why I am so obstinately
endeavouring to win the love of a young girl
whom I do not wish to deceive, and whom I will
never marry. Why this woman-like coquetry?
Vera loves me more than Princess Mary ever will.
Had I regarded the latter as an invincible beauty, I
should perhaps have been allured by the difficulty
of the undertaking. . .
However, there is no such difficulty in this
case! Consequently, my present feeling is not
that restless craving for love which torments us
in the early days of our youth, flinging us from
one woman to another until we find one who can-
not endure us. And then begins our constancy --
that sincere, unending passion which may be
expressed mathematically by a line falling from
a point into space -- the secret of that endlessness
lying only in the impossibility of attaining the
aim, that is to say, the end.
From what motive, then, am I taking all this
trouble? -- Envy of Grushnitski? Poor fellow!
He is quite undeserving of it. Or, is it the result
of that ugly, but invincible, feeling which causes
us to destroy the sweet illusions of our neighbour
in order to have the petty satisfaction of saying
to him, when, in despair, he asks what he is to
"My friend, the same thing happened to me,
and you see, nevertheless, that I dine, sup, and
sleep very peacefully, and I shall, I hope, know
how to die without tears and lamentations."
There is, in sooth, a boundless enjoyment in the
possession of a young, scarce-budded soul! It is
like a floweret which exhales its best perfume at
the kiss of the first ray of the sun. You should
pluck the flower at that moment, and, breathing
its fragrance to the full, cast it upon the road:
perchance someone will pick it up! I feel
within me that insatiate hunger which devours
everything it meets upon the way; I look upon
the sufferings and joys of others only from the
point of view of their relation to myself, regarding
them as the nutriment which sustains my
spiritual forces. I myself am no longer capable
of committing follies under the influence of
passion; with me, ambition has been repressed
by circumstances, but it has emerged in another
form, because ambition is nothing more nor less
than a thirst for power, and my chief pleasure is
to make everything that surrounds me subject to
my will. To arouse the feeling of love, devotion
and awe towards oneself -- is not that the first sign,
and the greatest triumph, of power? To be the
cause of suffering and joy to another -- without
in the least possessing any definite right to be
so -- is not that the sweetest food for our pride?
And what is happiness? -- Satisfied pride. Were
I to consider myself the best, the most powerful
man in the world, I should be happy; were all to
love me, I should find within me inexhaustible
springs of love. Evil begets evil; the first
suffering gives us the conception of the satis-
faction of torturing another. The idea of evil
cannot enter the mind without arousing a desire
to put it actually into practice. "Ideas are
organic entities," someone has said. The very
fact of their birth endows them with form, and
that form is action. He in whose brain the most
ideas are born accomplishes the most. From
that cause a genius, chained to an official desk,
must die or go mad, just as it often happens that
a man of powerful constitution, and at the same
time of sedentary life and simple habits, dies of
an apoplectic stroke.
Passions are naught but ideas in their first
development; they are an attribute of the youth
of the heart, and foolish is he who thinks that he
will be agitated by them all his life. Many quiet
rivers begin their course as noisy waterfalls, and
there is not a single stream which will leap or
foam throughout its way to the sea. That quiet-
ness, however, is frequently the sign of great,
though latent, strength. The fulness and depth
of feelings and thoughts do not admit of frenzied
outbursts. In suffering and in enjoyment the soul
renders itself a strict account of all it experiences
and convinces itself that such things must be. It
knows that, but for storms, the constant heat of
the sun would dry it up! It imbues itself with
its own life -- pets and punishes itself like a
favourite child. It is only in that highest state
of self-knowledge that a man can appreciate the
On reading over this page, I observe that I have
made a wide digression from my subject. . .
But what matter? . . . You see, it is for myself
that I am writing this diary, and, consequently
anything that I jot down in it will in time be a
valuable reminiscence for me.
. . . . .
Grushnitski has called to see me to-day. He
flung himself upon my neck; he has been pro-
moted to be an officer. We drank champagne.
Doctor Werner came in after him.
"I do not congratulate you," he said to
"Because the soldier's cloak suits you very well,
and you must confess that an infantry uniform,
made by one of the local tailors, will not add
anything of interest to you. . . Do you not
see? Hitherto, you have been an exception,
but now you will come under the general
"Talk away, doctor, talk away! You will not
prevent me from rejoicing. He does not know,"
added Grushnitski in a whisper to me, "how
many hopes these epaulettes have lent me. . .
Oh! . . . Epaulettes, epaulettes! Your little
stars are guiding stars! No! I am perfectly
"Are you coming with us on our walk to the
hollow?" I asked him.
"I? Not on any account will I show myself to
Princess Mary until my uniform is finished."
"Would you like me to inform her of your
"No, please, not a word. . . I want to give
her a surprise" . . .
"Tell me, though, how are you getting on
He became embarrassed, and fell into thought;
he would gladly have bragged and told lies, but
his conscience would not let him; and, at the
same time, he was ashamed to confess the
"What do you think? Does she love
you?" . . .
"Love me? Good gracious, Pechorin, what
ideas you do have! . . . How could she possibly
love me so soon? . . . And a well-bred woman,
even if she is in love, will never say so" . . .
"Very well! And, I suppose, in your opinion,
a well-bred man should also keep silence in regard
to his passion?" . . .
"Ah, my dear fellow! There are ways of
doing everything; often things may remain
unspoken, but yet may be guessed" . . .
"That is true. . . But the love which we
read in the eyes does not pledge a woman to any-
thing, whilst words. . . Have a care, Grush-
nitski, she is befooling you!"
"She?" he answered, raising his eyes heaven-
ward and smiling complacently. "I am sorry for
you, Pechorin!" . . .
He took his departure.
In the evening, a numerous company set off to
walk to the hollow.
In the opinion of the learned of Pyatigorsk, the
hollow in question is nothing more nor less than
an extinct crater. It is situated on a slope of
Mount Mashuk, at the distance of a verst from
the town, and is approached by a narrow path
between brushwood and rocks. In climbing up
the hill, I gave Princess Mary my arm, and
she did not leave it during the whole excur-
Our conversation commenced with slander; I
proceeded to pass in review our present and
absent acquaintances; at first I exposed their
ridiculous, and then their bad, sides. My choler
rose. I began in jest, and ended in genuine
malice. At first she was amused, but afterwards
"You are a dangerous man!" she said. "I
would rather perish in the woods under the knife
of an assassin than under your tongue. . . In all
earnestness I beg of you: when it comes into
your mind to speak evil of me, take a knife instead
and cut my throat. I think you would not find
that a very difficult matter."
"Am I like an assassin, then?" . . .
"You are worse" . . .
I fell into thought for a moment; then,
assuming a deeply moved air, I said:
"Yes, such has been my lot from very child-
hood! All have read upon my countenance the
marks of bad qualities, which were not existent;
but they were assumed to exist -- and they were
born. I was modest -- I was accused of slyness: I
grew secretive. I profoundly felt both good and
evil -- no one caressed me, all insulted me: I
grew vindictive. I was gloomy -- other children
merry and talkative; I felt myself higher than
they -- I was rated lower: I grew envious. I
was prepared to love the whole world -- no one
understood me: I learned to hate. My colour-
less youth flowed by in conflict with myself and
the world; fearing ridicule, I buried my best
feelings in the depths of my heart, and there they
died. I spoke the truth -- I was not believed: I
began to deceive. Having acquired a thorough
knowledge of the world and the springs of
society, I grew skilled in the science of life; and I
saw how others without skill were happy, en-
joying gratuitously the advantages which I so
unweariedly sought. Then despair was born
within my breast -- not that despair which is cured
at the muzzle of a pistol, but the cold, powerless
despair concealed beneath the mask of amiability
and a good-natured smile. I became a moral
cripple. One half of my soul ceased to exist; it
dried up, evaporated, died, and I cut it off and
cast it from me. The other half moved and
lived -- at the service of all; but it remained un-
observed, because no one knew that the half
which had perished had ever existed. But, now,
the memory of it has been awakened within me
by you, and I have read you its epitaph. To
many, epitaphs in general seem ridiculous, but
to me they do not; especially when I remember
what reposes beneath them. I will not, however,
ask you to share my opinion. If this outburst
seems absurd to you, I pray you, laugh! I fore-
warn you that your laughter will not cause me the
At that moment I met her eyes: tears were
welling in them. Her arm, as it leaned upon
mine, was trembling; her cheeks were aflame;
she pitied me! Sympathy -- a feeling to which
all women yield so easily, had dug its talons into
her inexperienced heart. During the whole
excursion she was preoccupied, and did not flirt
with anyone -- and that is a great sign!
We arrived at the hollow; the ladies left their
cavaliers, but she did not let go my arm. The
witticisms of the local dandies failed to make
her laugh; the steepness of the declivity beside
which she was standing caused her no alarm,
although the other ladies uttered shrill cries and
shut their eyes.
On the way back, I did not renew our melan-
choly conversation, but to my idle questions
and jests she gave short and absent-minded
"Have you ever been in love?" I asked her at
She looked at me intently, shook her head and
again fell into a reverie. It was evident that she
was wishing to say something, but did not know
how to begin. Her breast heaved. . . And,
indeed, that was but natural! A muslin sleeve is
a weak protection, and an electric spark was
running from my arm to hers. Almost all passions
have their beginning in that way, and frequently
we are very much deceived in thinking that a
woman loves us for our moral and physical merits;
of course, these prepare and predispose the heart
for the reception of the holy flame, but for all that
it is the first touch that decides the matter.
"I have been very amiable to-day, have I
not?" Princess Mary said to me, with a forced
smile, when we had returned from the walk.
She is dissatisfied with herself. She accuses
herself of coldness. . . Oh, that is the first, the
To-morrow, she will be feeling a desire to
recompense me. I know the whole proceeding
by heart already -- that is what is so tiresome!
I HAVE seen Vera to-day. She has begun to
plague me with her jealousy. Princess Mary
has taken it into her head, it seems, to confide
the secrets of her heart to Vera: a happy choice,
it must be confessed!
"I can guess what all this is leading to," said
Vera to me. "You had better simply tell me at
once that you are in love with her."
"But supposing I am not in love with
"Then why run after her, disturb her, agitate
her imagination! . . . Oh, I know you well!
Listen -- if you wish me to believe you, come to
Kislovodsk in a week's time; we shall be moving
thither the day after to-morrow. Princess Mary
will remain here longer. Engage lodgings next
door to us. We shall be living in the large house
near the spring, on the mezzanine floor. Princess
Ligovski will be below us, and next door there
is a house belonging to the same landlord,
which has not yet been taken. . . Will you
come?" . . .
I gave my promise, and this very same day I
have sent to engage the lodgings.
Grushnitski came to me at six o'clock and
announced that his uniform would be ready
to-morrow, just in time for him to go to the
ball in it.
"At last I shall dance with her the whole
evening through. . . And then I shall talk to
my heart's content," he added.
"When is the ball?"
"Why, to-morrow! Do you not know, then?
A great festival -- and the local authorities have
undertaken to organize it" . . .
"Let us go to the boulevard" . . .
"Not on any account, in this nasty cloak" . . .
"What! Have you ceased to love it?" . . .
I went out alone, and, meeting Princess
Mary I asked her to keep the mazurka for me.
She seemed surprised and delighted.
"I thought that you would only dance from
necessity as on the last occasion," she said, with a
very charming smile. . .
She does not seem to notice Grushnitski's
absence at all.
"You will be agreeably surprised to-morrow,"
I said to her.
"That is a secret. . . You will find it out
yourself, at the ball."
I finished up the evening at Princess Ligovski's;
there were no other guests present except Vera
and a certain very amusing, little old gentleman.
I was in good spirits, and improvised various
extraordinary stories. Princess Mary sat opposite
me and listened to my nonsense with such deep,
strained, and even tender attention that I grew
ashamed of myself. What had become of her
vivacity, her coquetry, her caprices, her haughty
mien, her contemptuous smile, her absent-
minded glance? . . .
Vera noticed everything, and her sickly coun-
tenance was a picture of profound grief. She was
sitting in the shadow by the window, buried in
a wide arm-chair. . . I pitied her.
Then I related the whole dramatic story of our
acquaintanceship, our love -- concealing it all, of
course, under fictitious names.
So vividly did I portray my tenderness, my
anxieties, my raptures; in so favourable a light
did I exhibit her actions and her character, that
involuntarily she had to forgive me for my
flirtation with Princess Mary.
She rose, sat down beside us, and brightened
up . . . and it was only at two o'clock in the
morning that we remembered that the doctors
had ordered her to go to bed at eleven.
HALF an hour before the ball, Grushnitski
presented himself to me in the full splendour
of the uniform of the Line infantry. Attached
to his third button was a little bronze chain, on
which hung a double lorgnette. Epaulettes of
incredible size were bent backwards and upwards
in the shape of a cupid's wings; his boots
creaked; in his left hand he held cinnamon-
coloured kid gloves and a forage-cap, and with
his right he kept every moment twisting his
frizzled tuft of hair up into tiny curls. Com-
placency and at the same time a certain diffi-
dence were depicted upon his face. His festal
appearance and proud gait would have made me
burst out laughing, if such a proceeding had
been in accordance with my intentions.
He threw his cap and gloves on the table and
began to pull down the skirts of his coat and to
put himself to rights before the looking-glass. An
enormous black handkerchief, which was twisted
into a very high stiffener for his cravat, and the
bristles of which supported his chin, stuck out an
inch over his collar. It seemed to him to be
rather small, and he drew it up as far as his ears.
As a result of that hard work -- the collar of his
uniform being very tight and uncomfortable --
he grew red in the face.
"They say you have been courting my princess
terribly these last few days?" he said, rather
carelessly and without looking at me.
"'Where are we fools to drink tea!'" I
answered, repeating a pet phrase of one of the
cleverest rogues of past times, once celebrated in
song by Pushkin.
 A popular phrase, equivalent to: "How should I think
of doing such a thing?"
"Tell me, does my uniform fit me well? . . .
Oh, the cursed Jew! . . . How it cuts me
under the armpits! . . . Have you got any
"Good gracious, what more do you want?
You are reeking of rose pomade as it is."
"Never mind. Give me some" . . .
He poured half a phial over his cravat, his
pocket-handkerchief, his sleeves.
"You are going to dance?" he asked.
"I think not."
"I am afraid I shall have to lead off the
mazurka with Princess Mary, and I scarcely know
a single figure" . . .
"Have you asked her to dance the mazurka
"Not yet" . . .
"Mind you are not forestalled" . . .
"Just so, indeed!" he said, striking his fore-
head. "Good-bye. . . I will go and wait for
her at the entrance."
He seized his forage-cap and ran.
Half an hour later I also set off. The street
was dark and deserted. Around the assembly
rooms, or inn -- whichever you prefer -- people
were thronging. The windows were lighted up,
the strains of the regimental band were borne to
me on the evening breeze. I walked slowly; I
"Can it be possible," I thought, "that my sole
mission on earth is to destroy the hopes of others?
Ever since I began to live and to act, it seems
always to have been my fate to play a part in the
ending of other people's dramas, as if, but for me,
no one could either die or fall into despair! I
have been the indispensable person of the fifth
act; unwillingly I have played the pitiful part of
an executioner or a traitor. What object has fate
had in this? . . . Surely, I have not been
appointed by destiny to be an author of middle-
class tragedies and family romances, or to be a
collaborator with the purveyor of stories -- for the
'Reader's Library,' for example? . . . How
can I tell? . . . Are there not many people who,
in beginning life, think to end it like Lord Byron
or Alexander the Great, and, nevertheless,
remain Titular Councillors all their days?"
 Published by Senkovski, and under the censorship of the
 Civil servants of the ninth (the lowest) class.
Entering the saloon, I concealed myself in a
crowd of men, and began to make my observa-
Grushnitski was standing beside Princess Mary
and saying something with great warmth. She
was listening to him absent-mindedly and looking
about her, her fan laid to her lips. Impatience
was depicted upon her face, her eyes were
searching all around for somebody. I went
softly behind them in order to listen to their
"You torture me, Princess!" Grushnitski
was saying. "You have changed dreadfully since
I saw you last" . . .
"You, too, have changed," she answered, casting
a rapid glance at him, in which he was unable to
detect the latent sneer.
"I! Changed? . . . Oh, never! You know
that such a thing is impossible! Whoever has
seen you once will bear your divine image with
him for ever."
"Stop" . . .
"But why will you not let me say to-night
what you have so often listened to with con-
descension -- and just recently, too?" . . .
"Because I do not like repetitions," she
"Oh! I have been bitterly mistaken! . . .
I thought, fool that I was, that these epaulettes,
at least, would give me the right to hope. . .
No, it would have been better for me to have
remained for ever in that contemptible soldier's
cloak, to which, probably, I was indebted for your
attention" . . .
"As a matter of fact, the cloak is much more
becoming to you" . . .
At that moment I went up and bowed to
Princess Mary. She blushed a little, and went on
"Is it not true, Monsieur Pechorin, that the
grey cloak suits Monsieur Grushnitski much
better?" . . .
"I do not agree with you," I answered:
"he is more youthful-looking still in his
That was a blow which Grushnitski could not
bear: like all boys, he has pretensions to being an
old man; he thinks that the deep traces of
passions upon his countenance take the place of
the lines scored by Time. He cast a furious
glance at me, stamped his foot, and took himself
"Confess now," I said to Princess Mary: "that
although he has always been most ridiculous, yet
not so long ago he seemed to you to be inter-
esting . . . in the grey cloak?" . . .
She cast her eyes down and made no reply.
Grushnitski followed the Princess about during
the whole evening and danced either with her or
vis-a-vis. He devoured her with his eyes, sighed,
and wearied her with prayers and reproaches.
After the third quadrille she had begun to hate
"I did not expect this from you," he said,
coming up to me and taking my arm.
"You are going to dance the mazurka with
her?" he asked in a solemn tone. "She ad-
mitted it" . . .
"Well, what then? It is not a secret,
"Of course not. . . I ought to have expected
such a thing from that chit -- that flirt. . . I
will have my revenge, though!"
"You should lay the blame on your cloak, or
your epaulettes, but why accuse her? What
fault is it of hers that she does not like you any
longer?" . . .
"But why give me hopes?"
"Why did you hope? To desire and to strive
after something -- that I can understand! But
who ever hopes?"
"You have won the wager, but not quite," he
said, with a malignant smile.
The mazurka began. Grushnitski chose no one
but the Princess, other cavaliers chose her every
minute: obviously a conspiracy against me --
all the better! She wants to talk to me, they are
preventing her -- she will want to twice as
I squeezed her hand once or twice; the
second time she drew it away without saying a
"I shall sleep badly to-night," she said to me
when the mazurka was over.
"Grushnitski is to blame for that."
And her face became so pensive, so sad, that I
promised myself that I would not fail to kiss her
hand that evening.
The guests began to disperse. As I was handing
Princess Mary into her carriage, I rapidly pressed
her little hand to my lips. The night was dark
and nobody could see.
I returned to the saloon very well satisfied
The young men, Grushnitski amongst them,
were having supper at the large table. As
I came in, they all fell silent: evidently they
had been talking about me. Since the last
ball many of them have been sulky with me,
especially the captain of dragoons; and now,
it seems, a hostile gang is actually being
formed against me, under the command of
Grushnitski. He wears such a proud and
courageous air. . .
I am very glad; I love enemies, though not in
the Christian sense. They amuse me, stir my
blood. To be always on one's guard, to catch
every glance, the meaning of every word, to guess
intentions, to crush conspiracies, to pretend to be
deceived and suddenly with one blow to over-
throw the whole immense and laboriously con-
structed edifice of cunning and design -- that is
what I call life.
During supper Grushnitski kept whispering
and exchanging winks with the captain of
VERA and her husband left this morning for
Kislovodsk. I met their carriage as I was
walking to Princess Ligovski's. Vera nodded to
me: reproach was in her glance.
Who is to blame, then? Why will she not give
me an opportunity of seeing her alone? Love is
like fire -- if not fed it dies out. Perchance,
jealousy will accomplish what my entreaties have
failed to do.
I stayed a whole hour at Princess Ligovski's.
Mary has not been out, she is ill. In the evening
she was not on the boulevard. The newly formed
gang, armed with lorgnettes, has in very fact
assumed a menacing aspect. I am glad that
Princess Mary is ill; they might be guilty of
some impertinence towards her. Grushnitski
goes about with dishevelled locks, and wears an
appearance of despair: he is evidently afflicted,
as a matter of fact; his vanity especially
has been injured. But, you see, there are
some people in whom even despair is divert-
ing! . . .
On my way home I noticed that something was
lacking. I have not seen her! She is ill! Surely
I have not fallen in love with her in real
earnest? . . . What nonsense!
AT eleven o'clock in the morning -- the hour at
which Princess Ligovski is usually perspiring
in the Ermolov baths -- I walked past her house.
Princess Mary was sitting pensively at the window;
on seeing me she sprang up.
I entered the ante-room, there was nobody
there, and, availing myself of the freedom afforded
by the local customs, I made my way, unan-
nounced, into the drawing-room.
Princess Mary's charming countenance was
shrouded with a dull pallor. She was standing
by the pianoforte, leaning one hand on the back
of an arm-chair; her hand was very faintly
trembling. I went up to her softly and
"You are angry with me?" . . .
She lifted a deep, languid glance upon me and
shook her head. Her lips were about to utter
something, but failed; her eyes filled with tears;
she sank into the arm-chair and buried her face in
"What is the matter with you?" I said, taking
"You do not respect me! . . . Oh, leave me!" . . .
I took a few steps. . . She drew herself up in
the chair, her eyes sparkled.
I stopped still, took hold of the handle of the
door, and said:
"Forgive me, Princess. I have acted like a
madman. . . It will not happen another time;
I shall see to that. . . But how can you know
what has been taking place hitherto within my
soul? That you will never learn, and so much
the better for you. Farewell."
As I was going out, I seemed to hear her
I wandered on foot about the environs of
Mount Mashuk till evening, fatigued myself
terribly and, on arriving home, flung myself on
my bed, utterly exhausted.
Werner came to see me.
"Is it true," he asked, "that you are going to
marry Princess Mary?"
"The whole town is saying so. All my
patients are occupied with that important piece
of news; but you know what these patients are:
they know everything."
"This is one of Grushnitski's tricks," I said to
"To prove the falsity of these rumours, doctor,
I may mention, as a secret, that I am moving to
Kislovodsk to-morrow" . . .
"And Princess Mary, too?"
"No, she remains here another week" . . .
"So you are not going to get married?" . . .
"Doctor, doctor! Look at me! Am I in the
least like a bridegroom, or any such thing?"
"I am not saying so. . . But you know there
are occasions . . ." he added, with a crafty
smile -- "in which an honourable man is obliged
to marry, and there are mothers who, to say the
least, do not prevent such occasions. . . And so,
as a friend, I should advise you to be more
cautious. The air of these parts is very dangerous.
How many handsome young men, worthy of a
better fate, have I not seen departing from here
straight to the altar! . . . Would you believe
me, they were even going to find a wife for me!
That is to say, one person was -- a lady belonging to
this district, who had a very pale daughter. I had
the misfortune to tell her that the latter's colour
would be restored after wedlock, and then with
tears of gratitude she offered me her daughter's
hand and the whole of her own fortune -- fifty souls, I think.
But I replied that I was unfit for such an honour."
 i.e. serfs.
Werner left, fully convinced that he had put
me on my guard.
I gathered from his words that various ugly
rumours were already being spread about the
town on the subject of Princess Mary and myself:
Grushnitski shall smart for this!
I HAVE been in Kislovodsk three days now.
Every day I see Vera at the well and out
walking. In the morning, when I awake, I sit
by my window and direct my lorgnette at her
balcony. She has already been dressed long ago,
and is waiting for the signal agreed upon.
We meet, as though unexpectedly, in the garden
which slopes down from our houses to the well.
The life-giving mountain air has brought back
her colour and her strength. Not for nothing is
Narzan called the "Spring of Heroes." The
inhabitants aver that the air of Kislovodsk pre-
disposes the heart to love and that all the romances
which have had their beginning at the foot of
Mount Mashuk find their consummation here.
And, in very fact, everything here breathes of
solitude; everything has an air of secrecy -- the
thick shadows of the linden avenues, bending over
the torrent which falls, noisy and foaming, from
flag to flag and cleaves itself a way between the
mountains now becoming clad with verdure --
the mist-filled, silent ravines, with their rami-
fications straggling away in all directions -- the
freshness of the aromatic air, laden with the
fragrance of the tall southern grasses and the
white acacia -- the never-ceasing, sweetly-slumber-
ous babble of the cool brooks, which, meeting at
the end of the valley, flow along in friendly
emulation, and finally fling themselves into the
Podkumok. On this side, the ravine is wider
and becomes converted into a verdant dell,
through which winds the dusty road. Every
time I look at it, I seem to see a carriage coming
along and a rosy little face looking out of the
carriage-window. Many carriages have already
driven by -- but still there is no sign of that
particular one. The village which lies behind the
fortress has become populous. In the restaurant,
built upon a hill a few paces distant from my
lodgings, lights are beginning to flash in the
evening through the double row of poplars;
noise and the jingling of glasses resound till late
In no place are such quantities of Kakhetian
wine and mineral waters drunk as here.
"And many are willing to mix the two,
But that is a thing I never do."
Every day Grushnitski and his gang are to be
found brawling in the inn, and he has almost
ceased to greet me.
He only arrived yesterday, and has already
succeeded in quarrelling with three old men who
were going to take their places in the baths before
Decidedly, his misfortunes are developing a
warlike spirit within him.
AT last they have arrived. I was sitting by
the window when I heard the clattering of
their carriage. My heart throbbed. . . What does
it mean? Can it be that I am in love? . . .
I am so stupidly constituted that such a thing
might be expected of me.
I dined at their house. Princess Ligovski
looked at me with much tenderness, and did
not leave her daughter's side . . . a bad sign!
On the other hand, Vera is jealous of me in re-
gard to Princess Mary -- however, I have been
striving for that good fortune. What will not a
woman do in order to chagrin her rival? I re-
member that once a woman loved me simply
because I was in love with another woman.
There is nothing more paradoxical than the fe-
male mind; it is difficult to convince a woman
of anything; they have to be led into convincing
themselves. The order of the proofs by which
they demolish their prejudices is most original;
to learn their dialectic it is necessary to over-
throw in your own mind every scholastic rule of
logic. For example, the usual way:
"This man loves me; but I am married:
therefore I must not love him."
The woman's way:
"I must not love him, because I am married;
but he loves me -- therefore" . . .
A few dots here, because reason has no more
to say. But, generally, there is something to be
said by the tongue, and the eyes, and, after these,
the heart -- if there is such a thing.
What if these notes should one day meet a
"Slander!" she will exclaim indignantly.
Ever since poets have written and women have
read them (for which the poets should be most
deeply grateful) women have been called angels
so many times that, in very truth, in their sim-
plicity of soul, they have believed the compli-
ment, forgetting that, for money, the same poets
have glorified Nero as a demigod. . .
It would be unreasonable were I to speak of
women with such malignity -- I who have loved
nothing else in the world -- I who have always
been ready to sacrifice for their sake ease, am-
bition, life itself. . . But, you see, I am not
endeavouring, in a fit of vexation and injured
vanity, to pluck from them the magic veil through
which only an accustomed glance can penetrate.
No, all that I say about them is but the result of
"A mind which coldly hath observed,
A heart which bears the stamp of woe."
 Pushkin: Eugene Onyegin.
Women ought to wish that all men knew them
as well as I because I have loved them a hundred
times better since I have ceased to be afraid of them
and have comprehended their little weaknesses.
By the way: the other day, Werner compared
women to the enchanted forest of which Tasso
tells in his "Jerusalem Delivered."
"So soon as you approach," he said, "from all
directions terrors, such as I pray Heaven may
preserve us from, will take wing at you: duty,
pride, decorum, public opinion, ridicule, con-
tempt. . . You must simply go straight on
without looking at them; gradually the monsters
disappear, and, before you, opens a bright and
quiet glade, in the midst of which blooms the
green myrtle. On the other hand, woe to you if,
at the first steps, your heart trembles and you
 Canto XVIII, 10:
"Quinci al bosco t' invia, dove cotanti
Son fantasmi inganne vole e bugiardi" . . .
THIS evening has been fertile in events.
About three versts from Kislovodsk, in the
gorge through which the Podkumok flows, there
is a cliff called the Ring. It is a naturally formed
gate, rising upon a lofty hill, and through it the
setting sun throws its last flaming glance upon
the world. A numerous cavalcade set off thither
to gaze at the sunset through the rock-window.
To tell the truth, not one of them was thinking
about the sun. I rode beside Princess Mary. On
the way home, we had to ford the Podkumok.
Mountain streams, even the smallest, are danger-
ous; especially so, because the bottom is a perfect
kaleidoscope: it changes every day owing to the
pressure of the current; where yesterday there
was a rock, to-day there is a cavity. I took Prin-
cess Mary's horse by the bridle and led it into the
water, which came no higher than its knees. We
began to move slowly in a slanting direction
against the current. It is a well-known fact that,
in crossing rapid streamlets, you should never look
at the water, because, if you do, your head begins
to whirl directly. I forgot to warn Princess Mary
We had reached the middle and were right in
the vortex, when suddenly she reeled in her
"I feel ill!" she said in a faint voice.
I bent over to her rapidly and threw my arm
around her supple waist.
"Look up!" I whispered. "It is nothing;
just be brave! I am with you."
She grew better; she was about to disengage
herself from my arm, but I clasped her tender,
soft figure in a still closer embrace; my cheek
almost touched hers, from which was wafted
"What are you doing to me? . . . Oh,
Heaven!" . . .
I paid no attention to her alarm and confusion,
and my lips touched her tender cheek. She shud-
dered, but said nothing. We were riding behind
the others: nobody saw us.
When we made our way out on the bank, the
horses were all put to the trot. Princess Mary
kept hers back; I remained beside her. It was
evident that my silence was making her uneasy,
but I swore to myself that I would not speak a
single word -- out of curiosity. I wanted to see
how she would extricate herself from that em-
"Either you despise me, or you love me very
much!" she said at length, and there were tears
in her voice. "Perhaps you want to laugh at me,
to excite my soul and then to abandon me. . .
That would be so base, so vile, that the mere
supposition . . . Oh, no!" she added, in a voice
of tender trustfulness; "there is nothing in me
which would preclude respect; is it not so?
Your presumptuous action . . . I must, I must
forgive you for it, because I permitted it. . .
Answer, speak, I want to hear your voice!" . . .
There was such womanly impatience in her last
words that, involuntarily, I smiled; happily it
was beginning to grow dusk. . . I made no
"You are silent!" she continued; "you wish,
perhaps, that I should be the first to tell you that
I love you." . . .
I remained silent.
"Is that what you wish?" she continued,
turning rapidly towards me. . . . There was
something terrible in the determination of her
glance and voice.
"Why?" I answered, shrugging my shoulders.
She struck her horse with her riding-whip and
set off at full gallop along the narrow, dangerous
road. It all happened so quickly that I was
scarcely able to overtake her, and then only by
the time she had joined the rest of the company.
All the way home she was continually talk-
ing and laughing. There was something feverish
in her movements; not once did she look in
my direction. Everybody observed her unusual
gaiety. Princess Ligovski rejoiced inwardly as she
looked at her daughter. However, the latter
simply has a fit of nerves: she will spend a sleep-
less night, and will weep.
This thought affords me measureless delight:
there are moments when I understand the Vam-
pire. . . And yet I am reputed to be a good
fellow, and I strive to earn that designation!
On dismounting, the ladies went into Princess
Ligovski's house. I was excited, and I galloped
to the mountains in order to dispel the thoughts
which had thronged into my head. The dewy
evening breathed an intoxicating coolness. The
moon was rising from behind the dark summits.
Each step of my unshod horse resounded hollowly
in the silence of the gorges. I watered the horse
at the waterfall, and then, after greedily inhaling
once or twice the fresh air of the southern night,
I set off on my way back. I rode through the
village. The lights in the windows were begin-
ning to go out; the sentries on the fortress-
rampart and the Cossacks in the surrounding
pickets were calling out in drawling tones to one
In one of the village houses, built at the edge
of a ravine, I noticed an extraordinary illumina-
tion. At times, discordant murmurs and shouting
could be heard, proving that a military carouse
was in full swing. I dismounted and crept up to
the window. The shutter had not been made
fast, and I could see the banqueters and catch
what they were saying. They were talking about
The captain of dragoons, flushed with wine,
struck the table with his fist, demanding attention.
"Gentlemen!" he said, "this won't do!
Pechorin must be taught a lesson! These Peters-
burg fledglings always carry their heads high until
they get a slap in the face! He thinks that be-
cause he always wears clean gloves and polished
boots he is the only one who has ever lived in
society. And what a haughty smile! All the
same, I am convinced that he is a coward -- yes, a
"I think so too," said Grushnitski. "He is
fond of getting himself out of trouble by pre-
tending to be only having a joke. I once gave him
such a talking to that anyone else in his place
would have cut me to pieces on the spot. But
Pechorin turned it all to the ridiculous side. I,
of course, did not call him out because that was
his business, but he did not care to have anything
more to do with it."
"Grushnitski is angry with him for having
captured Princess Mary from him," somebody
"That's a new idea! It is true I did run after
Princess Mary a little, but I left off at once be-
cause I do not want to get married; and it is
against my rules to compromise a girl."
"Yes, I assure you that he is a coward of the
first water, I mean Pechorin, not Grushnitski --
but Grushnitski is a fine fellow, and, besides, he
is my true friend!" the captain of dragoons
"Gentlemen! Nobody here stands up for
him? Nobody? So much the better! Would
you like to put his courage to the test? It would
be amusing" . . .
"We would; but how?"
"Listen here, then: Grushnitski in particular
is angry with him -- therefore to Grushnitski falls
the chief part. He will pick a quarrel over
some silly trifle or other, and will challenge
Pechorin to a duel. . . Wait a bit; here is
where the joke comes in. . . He will challenge
him to a duel; very well! The whole proceed-
ing -- challenge, preparations, conditions -- will be
as solemn and awe-inspiring as possible -- I will
see to that. I will be your second, my poor
friend! Very well! Only here is the rub; we
will put no bullets in the pistols. I can answer
for it that Pechorin will turn coward -- I will
place them six paces apart, devil take it! Are
you agreed, gentlemen?"
"Splendid idea! . . . Agreed! . . . And why
not?" . . . came from all sides.
"And you, Grushnitski?"
Tremblingly I awaited Grushnitski's answer. I
was filled with cold rage at the thought that, but
for an accident, I might have made myself the
laughing-stock of those fools. If Grushnitski had
not agreed, I should have thrown myself upon his
neck; but, after an interval of silence, he rose
from his place, extended his hand to the captain,
and said very gravely:
"Very well, I agree!"
It would be difficult to describe the enthusiasm
of that honourable company.
I returned home, agitated by two different feel-
ings. The first was sorrow.
"Why do they all hate me?" I thought --
"why? Have I affronted anyone? No. Can it
be that I am one of those men the mere sight of
whom is enough to create animosity?"
And I felt a venomous rage gradually filling my
"Have a care, Mr. Grushnitski!" I said, walk-
ing up and down the room: "I am not to be
jested with like this! You may pay dearly for the
approbation of your foolish comrades. I am not
your toy!" . . .
I got no sleep that night. By daybreak I was
as yellow as an orange.
In the morning I met Princess Mary at the
"You are ill?" she said, looking intently at me.
"I did not sleep last night."
"Nor I either. . . I was accusing you . . .
perhaps groundlessly. But explain yourself, I
can forgive you everything" . . .
"Everything?" . . .
"Everything . . . only speak the truth . . .
and be quick. . . You see, I have been thinking
a good deal, trying to explain, to justify, your be-
haviour. Perhaps you are afraid of opposition on
the part of my relations . . . that will not
matter. When they learn" . . .
Her voice shook.
"I will win them over by entreaties. Or, is it
your own position? . . . But you know that I
can sacrifice everything for the sake of the man I
love. . . Oh, answer quickly -- have pity. . .
You do not despise me -- do you?"
She seized my hand.
Princess Ligovski was walking in front of us
with Vera's husband, and had not seen anything;
but we might have been observed by some of the
invalids who were strolling about -- the most in-
quisitive gossips of all inquisitive folk -- and I
rapidly disengaged my hand from her passionate
"I will tell you the whole truth," I answered.
"I will not justify myself, nor explain my ac-
tions: I do not love you."
Her lips grew slightly pale.
"Leave me," she said, in a scarcely audible
I shrugged my shoulders, turned round, and
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