Count Leo Tolstoy
Part 10 out of 11
too, rays of light, streaming through the mist from the lamps in
the front of the halting station, became discernible through the
darkness. The reddish spots of light grew bigger and bigger; at
last the stakes of the palisade, the moving figure of the
sentinel, a post painted with white and black stripes and the
sentinel's box became visible.
The sentinel called his usual "Who goes there?" as they
approached, and seeing they were strangers treated them with such
severity that he would not allow them to wait by the palisade;
but Nekhludoff's guide was not abashed by this severity.
"Hallo, lad! why so fierce? You go and rouse your boss while we
The sentinel gave no answer, but shouted something in at the gate
and stood looking at the broad-shouldered young labourer scraping
the mud off Nekhludoff's boots with a chip of wood by the light
of the lamp. From behind the palisade came the hum of male and
female voices. In about three minutes more something rattled, the
gate opened, and a sergeant, with his cloak thrown over his
shoulders, stepped out of the darkness into the lamplight.
The sergeant was not as strict as the sentinel, but he was
extremely inquisitive. He insisted on knowing what Nekhludoff
wanted the officer for, and who he was, evidently scenting his
booty and anxious not to let it escape. Nekhludoff said he had
come on special business, and would show his gratitude, and would
the sergeant take a note for him to the officer. The sergeant
took the note, nodded, and went away. Some time after the gate
rattled again, and women carrying baskets, boxes, jugs and sacks
came out, loudly chattering in their peculiar Siberian dialect as
they stepped over the threshold of the gate. None of them wore
peasant costumes, but were dressed town fashion, wearing jackets
and fur-lined cloaks. Their skirts were tucked up high, and their
heads wrapped up in shawls. They examined Nekhludoff and his
guide curiously by the light of the lamp. One of them showed
evident pleasure at the sight of the broad-shouldered fellow, and
affectionately administered to him a dose of Siberian abuse.
"You demon, what are you doing here? The devil take you," she
said, addressing him.
"I've been showing this traveller here the way," answered the
young fellow. "And what have you been bringing here?"
"Dairy produce, and I am to bring more in the morning."
The guide said something in answer that made not only the women
but even the sentinel laugh, and, turning to Nekhludoff, he said:
"You'll find your way alone? Won't get lost, will you?"
"I shall find it all right."
"When you have passed the church it's the second from the
two-storied house. Oh, and here, take my staff," he said, handing
the stick he was carrying, and which was longer than himself, to
Nekhludoff; and splashing through the mud with his enormous
boots, he disappeared in the darkness, together with the women.
His voice mingling with the voices of the women was still audible
through the fog, when the gate again rattled, and the sergeant
appeared and asked Nekhludoff to follow him to the officer.
NEKHLUDOFF AND THE OFFICER.
This halting station, like all such stations along the Siberian
road, was surrounded by a courtyard, fenced in with a palisade of
sharp-pointed stakes, and consisted of three one-storied houses.
One of them, the largest, with grated windows, was for the
prisoners, another for the convoy soldiers, and the third, in
which the office was, for the officers.
There were lights in the windows of all the three houses, and,
like all such lights, they promised, here in a specially
deceptive manner, something cosy inside the walls. Lamps were
burning before the porches of the houses and about five lamps
more along the walls lit up the yard.
The sergeant led Nekhludoff along a plank which lay across the
yard up to the porch of the smallest of the houses.
When he had gone up the three steps of the porch he let
Nekhludoff pass before him into the ante-room, in which a small
lamp was burning, and which was filled with smoky fumes. By the
stove a soldier in a coarse shirt with a necktie and black
trousers, and with one top-boot on, stood blowing the charcoal in
a somovar, using the other boot as bellows. [The long boots worn
in Russia have concertina-like sides, and when held to the
chimney of the somovar can be used instead of bellows to make the
charcoal inside burn up.] When he saw Nekhludoff, the soldier
left the somovar and helped him off with his waterproof; then
went into the inner room.
"He has come, your honour."
"Well, ask him in," came an angry voice.
"Go in at the door," said the soldier, and went back to the
In the next room an officer with fair moustaches and a very red
face, dressed in an Austrian jacket that closely fitted his broad
chest and shoulders, sat at a covered table, on which were the
remains of his dinner and two bottles; there was a strong smell
of tobacco and some very strong, cheap scent in the warm room. On
seeing Nekhludoff the officer rose and gazed ironically and
suspiciously, as it seemed, at the newcomer.
"What is it you want?" he asked, and, not waiting for a reply,
he shouted through the open door:
"Bernoff, the somovar! What are you about?"
"Coming at once."
"You'll get it 'at once' so that you'll remember it," shouted the
officer, and his eyes flashed.
"I'm coming," shouted the soldier, and brought in the somovar.
Nekhludoff waited while the soldier placed the somovar on the
table. When the officer had followed the soldier out of the room
with his cruel little eyes looking as if they were aiming where
best to hit him, he made the tea, got the four-cornered decanter
out of his travelling case and some Albert biscuits, and having
placed all this on the cloth he again turned to Nekhludoff.
"Well, how can I he of service to you?"
"I should like to be allowed to visit a prisoner," said
Nekhludoff, without sitting down.
"A political one? That's forbidden by the law," said the officer.
"The woman I mean is not a political prisoner," said Nekhludoff.
"Yes. But pray take a scat," said the officer. Nekhludoff sat
"She is not a political one, but at my request she has been
allowed by the higher authorities to join the political
"Oh, yes, I know," interrupted the other; "a little dark one?
Well, yes, that can be managed. Won't you smoke?" He moved a box
of cigarettes towards Nekhludoff, and, having carefully poured
out two tumblers of tea, he passed one to Nekhludoff. "If you
please," he said.
"Thank you; I should like to see--"
"The night is long. You'll have plenty of time. I shall order her
to be sent out to you."
"But could I not see her where she is? Why need she be sent for?"
"In to the political prisoners? It is against the law."
"I have been allowed to go in several times. If there is any
danger of my passing anything in to them I could do it through
her just as well."
"Oh, no; she would be searched," said the officer, and laughed in
an unpleasant manner.
"Well, why not search me?"
"All right; we'll manage without that," said the officer, opening
the decanter, and holding it out towards Nekhludoff's tumbler of
tea. "May I? No? Well, just as you like. When you are living here
in Siberia you are too glad to meet an educated person. Our work,
as you know, is the saddest, and when one is used to better
things it is very hard. The idea they have of us is that convoy
officers are coarse, uneducated men, and no one seems to remember
that we may have been born for a very different position."
This officer's red face, his scents, his rings, and especially
his unpleasant laughter disgusted Nekhludoff very much, but
to-day, as during the whole of his journey, he was in that
serious, attentive state which did not allow him to behave
slightingly or disdainfully towards any man, but made him feel
the necessity of speaking to every one "entirely," as he
expressed to himself, this relation to men. When he had heard the
officer and understood his state of mind, he said in a serious
"I think that in your position, too, some comfort could be found
in helping the suffering people," he said.
"What are their sufferings? You don't know what these people
"They are not special people," said Nekhludoff; "they are just
such people as others, and some of them are quite innocent."
"Of course, there are all sorts among them, and naturally one
pities them. Others won't let anything off, but I try to lighten
their condition where I can. It's better that I should suffer,
but not they. Others keep to the law in every detail, even as far
as to shoot, but I show pity. May I?--Take another," he said, and
poured out another tumbler of tea for Nekhludoff.
"And who is she, this woman that you want to see?" he asked.
"It is an unfortunate woman who got into a brothel, and was there
falsely accused of poisoning, and she is a very good woman,"
The officer shook his head. "Yes, it does happen. I can tell you
about a certain Ernma who lived in Kasan. She was a Hungarian by
birth, but she had quite Persian eyes," he continued, unable to
restrain a smile at the recollection; "there was so much chic
about her that a countess--"
Nekhludoff interrupted the officer and returned to the former
topic of conversation.
"I think that you could lighten the condition of the people while
they are in your charge. And in acting that way I am sure you
would find great joy!" said Nekhludoff, trying to pronounce as
distinctly as possible, as he might if talking to a foreigner or
The officer looked at Nekhludoff impatiently, waiting for him to
stop so as to continue the tale about the Hungarian with Persian
eyes, who evidently presented herself very vividly to his
imagination and quite absorbed his attention.
"Yes, of course, this is all quite true," he said, "and I do pity
them; but I should like to tell you about Emma. What do you think
"It does not interest me," said Nekhludoff, "and I will tell you
straight, that though I was myself very different at one time, I
now hate that kind of relation to women."
The officer gave Nekhludoff a frightened look.
"Won't you take some more tea?" he said.
"No, thank you."
"Bernoff!" the officer called, "take the gentleman to Vakouloff.
Tell him to let him into the separate political room. He may
remain there till the inspection."
THE POLITICAL PRISONERS.
Accompanied by the orderly, Nekhludoff went out into the
courtyard, which was dimly lit up by the red light of the lamps.
"Where to?" asked the convoy sergeant, addressing the orderly.
"Into the separate cell, No. 5."
"You can't pass here; the boss has gone to the village and taken
"Well, then, pass this way."
The soldier led Nekhludoff along a board to another entrance.
While still in the yard Nekhludoff could hear the din of voices
and general commotion going on inside as in a beehive when the
bees are preparing to swarm; but when he came nearer and the door
opened the din grew louder, and changed into distinct sounds of
shouting, abuse and laughter. He heard the clatter of chairs and
smelt the well-known foul air. This din of voices and the clatter
of the chairs, together with the close smell, always flowed into
one tormenting sensation, and produced in Nekhludoff a feeling of
moral nausea which grew into physical sickness, the two feelings
mingling with and heightening each other.
The first thing Nekhludoff saw, on entering, was a large,
stinking tub. A corridor into which several doors opened led from
the entrance. The first was the family room, then the bachelors'
room, and at the very end two small rooms were set apart for the
The buildings, which were arranged to hold one hundred and fifty
prisoners, now that there were four hundred and fifty inside,
were so crowded that the prisoners could not all get into the
rooms, but filled the passage, too. Some were sitting or lying on
the floor, some were going out with empty teapots, or bringing
them back filled with boiling water. Among the latter was Taras.
He overtook Nekhludoff and greeted him affectionately. The kind
face of Taras was disfigured by dark bruises on his nose and
under his eye.
"What has happened to you?" asked Nekhludoff.
"Yes, something did happen," Taras said, with a smile.
"All because of the woman," added a prisoner, who followed Taras;
"he's had a row with Blind Fedka."
"And how's Theodosia?"
"She's all right. Here I am bringing her the water for her tea,"
Taras answered, and went into the family room.
Nekhludoff looked in at the door. The room was crowded with women
and men, some of whom were on and some under the bedsteads; it
was full of steam from the wet clothes that were drying, and the
chatter of women's voices was unceasing. The next door led into
the bachelors' room. This room was still more crowded; even the
doorway and the passage in front of it were blocked by a noisy
crowd of men, in wet garments, busy doing or deciding something
The convoy sergeant explained that it was the prisoner appointed
to buy provisions, paying off out of the food money what was
owing to a sharper who had won from or lent money to the
prisoners, and receiving back little tickets made of playing
cards. When they saw the convoy soldier and a gentleman, those
who were nearest became silent, and followed them with looks of
ill-will. Among them Nekhludoff noticed the criminal Fedoroff,
whom he knew, and who always kept a miserable lad with a swelled
appearance and raised eyebrows beside him, and also a disgusting,
noseless, pock-marked tramp, who was notorious among the
prisoners because he killed his comrade in the marshes while
trying to escape, and had, as it was rumoured, fed on his flesh.
The tramp stood in the passage with his wet cloak thrown over one
shoulder, looking mockingly and boldly at Nekhludoff, and did not
move out of the way. Nekhludoff passed him by.
Though this kind of scene had now become quite familiar to him,
though he had during the last three months seen these four
hundred criminal prisoners over and over again in many different
circumstances; in the heat, enveloped in clouds of dust which
they raised as they dragged their chained feet along the road,
and at the resting places by the way, where the most horrible
scenes of barefaced debauchery had occurred, yet every time he
came among them, and felt their attention fixed upon him as it
was now, shame and consciousness of his sin against them
tormented him. To this sense of shame and guilt was added an
unconquerable feeling of loathing and horror. He knew that,
placed in a position such as theirs, they could not he other than
they were, and yet he was unable to stifle his disgust.
"It's well for them do-nothings," Nekhludoff heard some one say
in a hoarse voice as he approached the room of the political
prisoners. Then followed a word of obscene abuse, and spiteful,
When they had passed the bachelors' room the sergeant who
accompanied Nekhludoff left him, promising to come for him before
the inspection would take place. As soon as the sergeant was gone
a prisoner, quickly stepping with his bare feet and holding up
the chains, came close up to Nekhludoff, enveloping him in the
strong, acid smell of perspiration, and said in a mysterious
"Help the lad, sir; he's got into an awful mess. Been drinking.
To-day he's given his name as Karmanoff at the inspection. Take
his part, sir. We dare not, or they'll kill us," and looking
uneasily round he turned away.
This is what had happened. The criminal Kalmanoff had persuaded a
young fellow who resembled him in appearance and was sentenced to
exile to change names with him and go to the mines instead of
him, while he only went to exile. Nekhludoff knew all this. Some
convict had told him about this exchange the week before. He
nodded as a sign that he understood and would do what was in his
power, and continued his way without looking round.
Nekhludoff knew this convict, and was surprised by his action.
When in Ekaterinburg the convict had asked Nekhludoff to get a
permission for his wife to follow him. The convict was a man of
medium size and of the most ordinary peasant type, about thirty
years old. He was condemned to hard labour for an attempt to
murder and rob. His name was Makar Devkin. His crime was a very
curious one. In the account he gave of it to Nekhludoff, he said
it was not his but his devil's doing. He said that a traveller
had come to his father's house and hired his sledge to drive him
to a village thirty miles off for two roubles. Makar's father
told him to drive the stranger. Makar harnessed the horse,
dressed, and sat down to drink tea with the stranger. The
stranger related at the tea-table that he was going to be married
and had five hundred roubles, which he had earned in Moscow, with
him. When he had heard this, Makar went out into the yard and put
an axe into the sledge under the straw. "And I did not myself
know why I was taking the axe," he said. "'Take the axe,' says
_he_, and I took it. We got in and started. We drove along all
right; I even forgot about the axe. Well, we were getting near
the village; only about four miles more to go. The way from the
cross-road to the high road was up hill, and I got out. I walked
behind the sledge and _he_ whispers to me, 'What are you thinking
about? When you get to the top of the hill you will meet people
along the highway, and then there will be the village. He will
carry the money away. If you mean to do it, now's the time.' I
stooped over the sledge as if to arrange the straw, and the axe
seemed to jump into my hand of itself. The man turned round.
'What are you doing?' I lifted the axe and tried to knock him
down, but he was quick, jumped out, and took hold of my hands.
'What are you doing, you villain?' He threw me down into the
snow, and I did not even struggle, but gave in at once. He bound
my arms with his girdle, and threw me into the sledge, and took
me straight to the police station. I was imprisoned and tried.
The commune gave me a good character, said that I was a good man,
and that nothing wrong had been noticed about me. The masters for
whom I worked also spoke well of me, but we had no money to
engage a lawyer, and so I was condemned to four years' hard
It was this man who, wishing to save a fellow-villager, knowing
that he was risking his life thereby, told Nekhludoff the
prisoner's secret, for doing which (if found out) he should
certainly be throttled.
MASLOVA AND HER COMPANIONS.
The political prisoners were kept in two small rooms, the doors
of which opened into a part of the passage partitioned off from
the rest. The first person Nekhludoff saw on entering into this
part of the passage was Simonson in his rubber jacket and with a
log of pine wood in his hands, crouching in front of a stove, the
door of which trembled, drawn in by the heat inside.
When he saw Nekhludoff he looked up at him from under his
protruding brow, and gave him his hand without rising.
"I am glad you have come; I want to speak to you," he said,
looking Nekhludoff straight in the eyes with an expression of
"Yes; what is it?" Nekhludoff asked.
"It will do later on; I am busy just now," and Simonson turned
again towards the stove, which he was heating according to a
theory of his own, so as to lose as little heat energy as
Nekhludoff was going to enter in at the first door, when Maslova,
stooping and pushing a large heap of rubbish and dust towards the
stove with a handleless birch broom, came out of the other. She
had a white jacket on, her skirt was tucked up, and a kerchief,
drawn down to her eyebrows, protected her hair from the dust.
When she saw Nekhludoff, she drew herself up, flushing and
animated, put down the broom, wiped her hands on her skirt, and
stopped right in front of him. "You are tidying up the
apartments, I see," said Nekhludoff, shaking hands.
"Yes; my old occupation," and she smiled. "But the dirt! You
can't imagine what it is. We have been cleaning and cleaning.
Well, is the plaid dry?" she asked, turning to Simonson.
"Almost," Simonson answered, giving her a strange look, which
"All right, I'll come for it, and will bring the cloaks to dry.
Our people are all in here," she said to Nekhludoff, pointing to
the first door as she went out of the second.
Nekhludoff opened the door and entered a small room dimly lit by
a little metal lamp, which was standing low down on the shelf
bedstead. It was cold in the room, and there was a smell of the
dust, which had not had time to settle, damp and tobacco smoke.
Only those who were close to the lamp were clearly visible, the
bedsteads were in the shade and wavering shadows glided over the
walls. Two men, appointed as caterers, who had gone to fetch
boiling water and provisions, were away; most of the political
prisoners were gathered together in the small room. There was
Nekhludoff's old acquaintance, Vera Doukhova, with her large,
frightened eyes, and the swollen vein on her forehead, in a grey
jacket with short hair, and thinner and yellower than ever.. She
had a newspaper spread out in front of her, and sat rolling
cigarettes with a jerky movement of her hands.
Emily Rintzeva, whom Nekhludoff considered to be the pleasantest
of the political prisoners, was also here. She looked after the
housekeeping, and managed to spread a feeling of home comfort
even in the midst of the most trying surroundings. She sat beside
the lamp, with her sleeves rolled up, wiping cups and mugs, and
placing them, with her deft, red and sunburnt hands, on a cloth
that was spread on the bedstead. Rintzeva was a plain-looking
young woman, with a clever and mild expression of face, which,
when she smiled, had a way of suddenly becoming merry, animated
and captivating. It was with such a smile that she now welcomed
"Why, we thought you had gone back to Russia," she said.
Here in a dark corner was also Mary Pavlovna, busy with a little,
fair-haired girl, who kept prattling in her sweet, childish
"How nice that you have come," she said to Nekhludoff.
"Have you seen Katusha? And we have a visitor here," and she
pointed to the little girl.
Here was also Anatole Kryltzoff with felt boots on, sitting in a
far corner with his feet under him, doubled up and shivering, his
arms folded in the sleeves of his cloak, and looking at
Nekhludoff with feverish eyes. Nekhludoff was going up to him,
but to the right of the door a man with spectacles and reddish
curls, dressed in a rubber jacket, sat talking to the pretty,
smiling Grabetz. This was the celebrated revolutionist
Novodvoroff. Nekhludoff hastened to greet him. He was in a
particular hurry about it, because this man was the only one
among all the political prisoners whom he disliked. Novodvoroff's
eyes glistened through his spectacles as he looked at Nekhludoff
and held his narrow hand out to him.
"Well, are you having a pleasant journey?" he asked, with
"Yes, there is much that is interesting," Nekhludoff answered, as
if he did not notice the irony, but took the question for
politeness, and passed on to Kryltzoff.
Though Nekhludoff appeared indifferent, he was really far from
indifferent, and these words of Novodvoroff, showing his evident
desire to say or do something unpleasant, interfered with the
state of kindness in which Nekhludoff found himself, and he felt
depressed and sad.
"Well, how are you?" he asked, pressing Kryltzoff's cold and
"Pretty well, only I cannot get warm; I got wet through,"
Kryltzoff answered, quickly replacing his hands into the sleeves
of his cloak. "And here it is also beastly cold. There, look, the
window-panes are broken," and he pointed to the broken panes
behind the iron bars. "And how are you? Why did you not come?"
"I was not allowed to, the authorities were so strict, but to-day
the officer is lenient."
"Lenient indeed!" Kryltzoff remarked. "Ask Mary what she did this
Mary Pavlovna from her place in the corner related what had
happened about the little girl that morning when they left the
"I think it is absolutely necessary to make a collective
protest," said Vera Doukhova, in a determined tone, and yet
looking now at one, now at another, with a frightened, undecided
look. "Valdemar Simonson did protest, but that is not
"What protest!" muttered Kryltzoff, cross and frowning. Her want
of simplicity, artificial tone and nervousness had evidently been
irritating him for a long time.
"Are you looking for Katusha?" he asked, addressing Nekhludoff.
"She is working all the time. She has cleaned this, the men's
room, and now she has gone to clean the women's! Only it is not
possible to clean away the fleas. And what is Mary doing there?"
he asked, nodding towards the corner where Mary Pavlovna sat.
"She is combing out her adopted daughter's hair," replied
"But won't she let the insects loose on us?" asked Kryltzoff.
"No, no; I am very careful. She is a clean little girl now. You
take her," said Mary, turning to Rintzeva, "while I go and help
Katusha, and I will also bring him his plaid."
Rintzeva took the little girl on her lap, pressing her plump,
bare, little arms to her bosom with a mother's tenderness, and
gave her a bit of sugar. As Mary Pavlovna left the room, two men
came in with boiling water and provisions.
NABATOFF AND MARKEL.
One of the men who came in was a short, thin, young man, who had
a cloth-covered sheepskin coat on, and high top-boots. He stepped
lightly and quickly, carrying two steaming teapots, and holding a
loaf wrapped in a cloth under his arm.
"Well, so our prince has put in an appearance again," he said, as
he placed the teapot beside the cups, and handed the bread to
Rintzeva. "We have bought wonderful things," he continued, as he
took off his sheepskin, and flung it over the heads of the others
into the corner of the bedstead. "Markel has bought milk and
eggs. Why, we'll have a regular ball to-day. And Rintzeva is
spreading out her aesthetic cleanliness," he said, and looked
with a smile at Rintzeva, "and now she will make the tea."
The whole presence of this man--his motion, his voice, his
look--seemed to breathe vigour and merriment. The other newcomer
was just the reverse of the first. He looked despondent and sad.
He was short, bony, had very prominent cheek bones, a sallow
complexion, thin lips and beautiful, greenish eyes, rather far
apart. He wore an old wadded coat, top-boots and goloshes, and
was carrying two pots of milk and two round boxes made of birch
bark, which he placed in front of Rintzeva. He bowed to
Nekhludoff, bending only his neck, and with his eyes fixed on
him. Then, having reluctantly given him his damp hand to shake,
he began to take out the provisions.
Both these political prisoners were of the people; the first was
Nabatoff, a peasant; the second, Markel Kondratieff, a factory
hand. Markel did not come among the revolutionists till he was
quite a man, Nabatoff only eighteen. After leaving the village
school, owing to his exceptional talents Nabatoff entered the
gymnasium, and maintained himself by giving lessons all the time
he studied there, and obtained the gold medal. He did not go to
the university because, while still in the seventh class of the
gymnasium, he made up his mind to go among the people and
enlighten his neglected brethren. This he did, first getting the
place of a Government clerk in a large village. He was soon
arrested because he read to the peasants and arranged a
co-operative industrial association among them. They kept him
imprisoned for eight months and then set him free, but he
remained under police supervision. As soon as he was liberated he
went to another village, got a place as schoolmaster, and did the
same as he had done in the first village. He was again taken up
and kept fourteen months in prison, where his convictions became
yet stronger. After that he was exiled to the Perm Government,
from where he escaped. Then he was put to prison for seven months
and after that exiled to Archangel. There he refused to take the
oath of allegiance that was required of them and was condemned to
be exiled to the Takoutsk Government, so that half his life since
he reached manhood was passed in prison and exile. All these
adventures did not embitter him nor weaken his energy, but rather
stimulated it. He was a lively young fellow, with a splendid
digestion, always active, gay and vigorous. He never repented of
anything, never looked far ahead, and used all his powers, his
cleverness, his practical knowledge to act in the present. When
free he worked towards the aim he had set himself, the
enlightening and the uniting of the working men, especially the
country labourers. When in prison he was just as energetic and
practical in finding means to come in contact with the outer
world, and in arranging his own life and the life of his group as
comfortably as the conditions would allow. Above all things he
was a communist. He wanted, as it seemed to him, nothing for
himself and contented himself with very little, but demanded very
much for the group of his comrades, and could work for it either
physically or mentally day and night, without sleep or food. As a
peasant he had been industrious, observant, clever at his work,
and naturally self-controlled, polite without any effort, and
attentive not only to the wishes but also the opinions of others.
His widowed mother, an illiterate, superstitious, old peasant
woman, was still living, and Nabatoff helped her and went to see
her while he was free. During the time he spent at home he
entered into all the interests of his mother's life, helped her
in her work, and continued his intercourse with former
playfellows; smoked cheap tobacco with them in so-called "dog's
feet," [a kind of cigarette that the peasants smoke, made of a
bit of paper and bent at one end into a hook] took part in their
fist fights, and explained to them how they were all being
deceived by the State, and how they ought to disentangle
themselves out of the deception they were kept in. When he
thought or spoke of what a revolution would do for the people he
always imagined this people from whom he had sprung himself left
in very nearly the same conditions as they were in, only with
sufficient land and without the gentry and without officials. The
revolution, according to him, and in this he differed from
Novodvoroff and Novodvoroff's follower, Markel Kondratieff,
should not alter the elementary forms of the life of the people,
should not break down the whole edifice, but should only alter
the inner walls of the beautiful, strong, enormous old structure
he loved so dearly. He was also a typical peasant in his views on
religion, never thinking about metaphysical questions, about the
origin of all origin, or the future life. God was to him, as
also to Arago, an hypothesis, which he had had no need of up to
now. He had no business with the origin of the world, whether
Moses or Darwin was right. Darwinism, which seemed so important
to his fellows, was only the same kind of plaything of the mind
as the creation in six days. The question how the world had
originated did not interest him, just because the question how it
would be best to live in this world was ever before him. He never
thought about future life, always bearing in the depth of his
soul the firm and quiet conviction inherited from his
forefathers, and common to all labourers on the land, that just
as in the world of plants and animals nothing ceases to exist,
but continually changes its form, the manure into grain, the
grain into a food, the tadpole into a frog, the caterpillar into
a butterfly, the acorn into an oak, so man also does not perish,
but only undergoes a change. He believed in this, and therefore
always looked death straight in the face, and bravely bore the
sufferings that lead towards it, but did not care and did not
know how to speak about it. He loved work, was always employed in
some practical business, and put his comrades in the way of the
same kind of practical work.
The other political prisoner from among the people, Markel
Kondratieff, was a very different kind of man. He began to work
at the age of fifteen, and took to smoking and drinking in order
to stifle a dense sense of being wronged. He first realised he
was wronged one Christmas when they, the factory children, were
invited to a Christmas tree, got up by the employer's wife, where
he received a farthing whistle, an apple, a gilt walnut and a
fig, while the employer's children had presents given them which
seemed gifts from fairyland, and had cost more than fifty
roubles, as he afterwards heard.
When he was twenty a celebrated revolutionist came to their
factory to work as a working girl, and noticing his superior
qualities began giving books and pamphlets to Kondratieff and to
talk and explain his position to him, and how to remedy it. When
the possibility of freeing himself and others from their
oppressed state rose clearly in his mind, the injustice of this
state appeared more cruel and more terrible than before, and he
longed passionately not only for freedom, but also for the
punishment of those who had arranged and who kept up this cruel
injustice. Kondratieff devoted himself with passion to the
acquirement of knowledge. It was not clear to him how knowledge
should bring about the realisation of the social ideal, but he
believed that the knowledge that had shown him the injustice of
the state in which he lived would also abolish that injustice
itself. Besides knowledge would, in his opinion, raise him above
others. Therefore he left off drinking and smoking, and devoted
all his leisure time to study. The revolutionist gave him
lessons, and his thirst for every kind of knowledge, and the
facility with which he took it in, surprised her. In two years he
had mastered algebra, geometry, history--which he was specially
fond of--and made acquaintance with artistic and critical, and
especially socialistic literature. The revolutionist was
arrested, and Kondratieff with her, forbidden books having been
found in their possession, and they were imprisoned and then
exiled to the Vologda Government. There Kondratieff became
acquainted with Novodvoroff, and read a great deal more
revolutionary literature, remembered it all, and became still
firmer in his socialistic views. While in exile he became leader
in a large strike, which ended in the destruction of a factory
and the murder of the director. He was again arrested and
condemned to Siberia.
His religious views were of the same negative nature as his views
of the existing economic conditions. Having seen the absurdity of
the religion in which he was brought up, and having gained with
great effort, and at first with fear, but later with rapture,
freedom from it, he did not tire of viciously and with venom
ridiculing priests and religious dogmas, as if wishing to revenge
himself for the deception that had been practised on him.
He was ascetic through habit, contented himself with very little,
and, like all those used to work from childhood and whose muscles
have been developed, he could work much and easily, and was quick
at any manual labour; but what he valued most was the leisure in
prisons and halting stations, which enabled him to continue his
studies. He was now studying the first volume of Karl Marks's,
and carefully hid the book in his sack as if it were a great
treasure. He behaved with reserve and indifference to all his
comrades, except Novodvoroff, to whom he was greatly attached,
and whose arguments on all subjects he accepted as unanswerable
He had an indefinite contempt for women, whom he looked upon as a
hindrance in all necessary business. But he pitied Maslova and
was gentle with her, for he considered her an example of the way
the lower are exploited by the upper classes. The same reason
made him dislike Nekhludoff, so that he talked little with him,
and never pressed Nekhludoff's hand, but only held out his own to
be pressed when greeting him.
LOVE AFFAIRS OF THE EXILES.
The stove had burned up and got warm, the tea was made and poured
out into mugs and cups, and milk was added to it; rusks, fresh
rye and wheat bread, hard-boiled eggs, butter, and calf's head
and feet were placed on the cloth. Everybody moved towards the
part of the shelf beds which took the place of the table and sat
eating and talking. Rintzeva sat on a box pouring out the tea.
The rest crowded round her, only Kryltzoff, who had taken off his
wet cloak and wrapped himself in his dry plaid and lay in his own
place talking to Nekhludoff.
After the cold and damp march and the dirt and disorder they had
found here, and after the pains they had taken to get it tidy,
after having drunk hot tea and eaten, they were all in the best
and brightest of spirits.
The fact that the tramp of feet, the screams and abuse of the
criminals, reached them through the wall, reminding them of their
surroundings, seemed only to increase the sense of coziness. As
on an island in the midst of the sea, these people felt
themselves for a brief interval not swamped by the degradation
and sufferings which surrounded them; this made their spirits
rise, and excited them. They talked about everything except their
present position and that which awaited them. Then, as it
generally happens among young men, and women especially, if they
are forced to remain together, as these people were, all sorts of
agreements and disagreements and attractions, curiously blended,
had sprung up among them. Almost all of them were in love.
Novodvoroff was in love with the pretty, smiling Grabetz. This
Grabetz was a young, thoughtless girl who had gone in for a
course of study, perfectly indifferent to revolutionary
questions, but succumbing to the influence of the day, she
compromised herself in some way and was exiled. The chief
interest of her life during the time of her trial in prison and
in exile was her success with men, just as it had been when she
was free. Now on the way she comforted herself with the fact that
Novodvoroff had taken a fancy to her, and she fell in love with
him. Vera Doukhova, who was very prone to fall in love herself,
but did not awaken love in others, though she was always hoping
for mutual love, was sometimes drawn to Nabatoff, then to
Novodvoroff. Kryltzoff felt something like love for Mary
Pavlovna. He loved her with a man's love, but knowing how she
regarded this sort of love, hid his feelings under the guise of
friendship and gratitude for the tenderness with which she
attended to his wants. Nabatoff and Rintzeva were attached to
each other by very complicated ties. Just as Mary Pavlovna was a
perfectly chaste maiden, in the same way Rintzeva was perfectly
chaste as her own husband's wife. When only a schoolgirl of
sixteen she fell in love with Rintzeff, a student of the
Petersburg University, and married him before he left the
university, when she was only nineteen years old. During his
fourth year at the university her husband had become involved in
the students' rows, was exiled from Petersburg, and turned
revolutionist. She left the medical courses she was attending,
followed him, and also turned revolutionist. If she had not
considered her husband the cleverest and best of men she would
not have fallen in love with him; and if she had not fallen in
love would not have married; but having fallen in love and
married him whom she thought the best and cleverest of men, she
naturally looked upon life and its aims in the way the best and
cleverest of men looked at them. At first he thought the aim of
life was to learn, and she looked upon study as the aim of life.
He became a revolutionist, and so did she. She could demonstrate
very clearly that the existing state of things could not go on,
and that it was everybody's duty to fight this state of things
and to try to bring about conditions in which the individual
could develop freely, etc. And she imagined that she really
thought and felt all this, but in reality she only regarded
everything her husband thought as absolute truth, and only sought
for perfect agreement, perfect identification of her own soul
with his which alone could give her full moral satisfaction. The
parting with her husband and their child, whom her mother had
taken, was very hard to bear; but she bore it firmly and quietly,
since it was for her husband's sake and for that cause which she
had not the slightest doubt was true, since he served it. She was
always with her husband in thoughts, and did not love and could
not love any other any more than she had done before. But
Nabatoff's devoted and pure love touched and excited her. This
moral, firm man, her husband's friend, tried to treat her as a
sister, but something more appeared in his behaviour to her, and
this something frightened them both, and yet gave colour to their
life of hardship.
So that in all this circle only Mary Pavlovna and Kondratieff
were quite free from love affairs.
CONVERSATIONS IN PRISON.
Expecting to have a private talk with Katusha, as usual, after
tea, Nekhludoff sat by the side of Kryltzoff, conversing with
him. Among other things he told him the story of Makar's crime
and about his request to him. Kryltzoff listened attentively,
gazing at Nekhludoff with glistening eyes.
"Yes," said Kryltzoff suddenly, "I often think that here we are
going side by side with them, and who are they? The same for
whose sake we are going, and yet we not only do not know them,
but do not even wish to know them. And they, even worse than
that, they hate us and look upon us as enemies. This is
"There is nothing terrible about it," broke in Novodvoroff. "The
masses always worship power only. The government is in power, and
they worship it and hate us. To-morrow we shall have the power,
and they will worship us," he said with his grating voice. At
that moment a volley of abuse and the rattle of chains sounded
from behind the wall, something was heard thumping against it and
screaming and shrieking, some one was being beaten, and some one
was calling out, "Murder! help!"
"Hear them, the beasts! What intercourse can there be between us
and such as them?" quietly remarked Novodvoroff.
"You call them beasts, and Nekhludoff was just telling me about
such an action!" irritably retorted Kryltzoff, and went on to say
how Makar was risking his life to save a fellow-villager. "That
is not the action of a beast, it is heroism."
"Sentimentality!" Novodvoroff ejaculated ironically; "it is
difficult for us to understand the emotions of these people and
the motives on which they act. You see generosity in the act, and
it may be simply jealousy of that other criminal."
"How is it that you never wish to see anything good in
another?" Mary Pavlovna said suddenly, flaring up.
"How can one see what does not exist!"
"How does it not exist, when a man risks dying a terrible
"I think," said Novodvoroff, "that if we mean to do our
work, the first condition is that" (here Kondratieff put
down the book he was reading by the lamplight and began
to listen attentively to his master's words) "we should not
give way to fancy, but look at things as they are. We should
do all in our power for the masses, and expect nothing in
return. The masses can only be the object of our activity,
but cannot be our fellow-workers as long as they remain in
that state of inertia they are in at present," he went on, as
if delivering a lecture. "Therefore, to expect help from
them before the process of development--that process which
we are preparing them for--has taken place is an illusion."
"What process of development?" Kryltzoff began, flushing
all over. "We say that we are against arbitrary rule
and despotism, and is this not the most awful despotism?"
"No despotism whatever," quietly rejoined Novodvoroff. "I am
only saying that I know the path that the people must travel, and
can show them that path."
"But how can you be sure that the path you show is the true path?
Is this not the same kind of despotism that lay at the bottom of
the Inquisition, all persecutions, and the great revolution?
They, too, knew the one true way, by means of their science."
"Their having erred is no proof of my going to err; besides,
there is a great difference between the ravings of idealogues and
the facts based on sound, economic science." Novodvoroff's voice
filled the room; he alone was speaking, all the rest were silent.
"They are always disputing," Mary Pavlovna said, when there was a
"And you yourself, what do you think about it?" Nekhludoff asked her.
"I think Kryltzoff is right when he says we should not force our
views on the people."
"And you, Katusha?" asked Nekhludoff with a smile, waiting anxiously
for her answer, fearing she would say something awkward.
"I think the common people are wronged," she said, and blushed
scarlet. "I think they are dreadfully wronged."
"That's right, Maslova, quite right," cried Nabatoff. "They are
terribly wronged, the people, and they must not he wronged, and
therein lies the whole of our task."
"A curious idea of the object of revolution," Novodvoroff
remarked crossly, and began to smoke.
"I cannot talk to him," said Kryltzoff in a whisper, and was
"And it is much better not to talk," Nekhludoff said.
Although Novodvoroff was highly esteemed of all the
revolutionists, though he was very learned, and considered very
wise, Nekhludoff reckoned him among those of the revolutionists
who, being below the average moral level, were very far below it.
His inner life was of a nature directly opposite to that of
Simonson's. Simonson was one of those people (of an essentially
masculine type) whose actions follow the dictates of their
reason, and are determined by it. Novodvoroff belonged, on the
contrary, to the class of people of a feminine type, whose reason
is directed partly towards the attainment of aims set by their
feelings, partly to the justification of acts suggested by their
feelings. The whole of Novodvoroff's revolutionary activity,
though he could explain it very eloquently and very convincingly,
appeared to Nekhludoff to be founded on nothing but ambition and
the desire for supremacy. At first his capacity for assimilating
the thoughts of others, and of expressing them correctly, had
given him a position of supremacy among pupils and teachers in
the gymnasium and the university, where qualities such as his are
highly prized, and he was satisfied. When he had finished his
studies and received his diploma he suddenly altered his views,
and from a modern liberal he turned into a rabid Narodovoletz, in
order (so Kryltzoff, who did not like him, said) to gain
supremacy in another sphere.
As he was devoid of those moral and aesthetic qualities which
call forth doubts and hesitation, he very soon acquired a
position in the revolutionary world which satisfied him--that of
the leader of a party. Having once chosen a direction, he never
doubted or hesitated, and was therefore certain that he never
made a mistake. Everything seemed quite simple, clear and
certain. And the narrowness and one-sidedness of his views did
make everything seem simple and clear. One only had to be
logical, as he said. His self-assurance was so great that it
either repelled people or made them submit to him. As he carried
on his work among very young people, his boundless self-assurance
led them to believe him very profound and wise; the majority did
submit to him, and he had a great success in revolutionary
circles. His activity was directed to the preparation of a rising
in which he was to usurp the power and call together a council. A
programme, composed by him, should he proposed before the
council, and he felt sure that this programme of his solved every
problem, and that it would he impossible not to carry it out.
His comrades respected but did not love him. He did not love any
one, looked upon all men of note as upon rivals, and would have
willingly treated them as old male monkeys treat young ones if he
could have done it. He would have torn all mental power, every
capacity, from other men, so that they should not interfere with
the display of his talents. He behaved well only to those who
bowed before him. Now, on the journey he behaved well to
Kondratieff, who was influenced by his propaganda; to Vera
Doukhova and pretty little Grabetz, who were both in love with
him. Although in principle he was in favour of the woman's
movement, yet in the depth of his soul he considered all women
stupid and insignificant except those whom he was sentimentally
in love with (as he was now in love with Grabetz), and such women
he considered to be exceptions, whose merits he alone was capable
The question of the relations of the sexes he also looked upon as
thoroughly solved by accepting free union. He had one nominal and
one real wife, from both of whom he was separated, having come to
the conclusion that there was no real love between them, and now
he thought of entering on a free union with Grabetz. He despised
Nekhludoff for "playing the fool," as Novodvoroff termed it, with
Maslova, but especially for the freedom Nekhludoff took of
considering the defects of the existing system and the methods of
correcting those defects in a manner which was not only not
exactly the same as Novodvoroff's, but was Nekhludoff's own--a
prince's, that is, a fool's manner. Nekhludoff felt this relation
of Novodvoroff's towards him, and knew to his sorrow that in
spite of the state of good will in which he found himself on this
journey he could not help paying this man in his own coin, and
could not stifle the strong antipathy he felt for him.
SIMONSON SPEAKS TO NEKHLUDOFF.
The voices of officials sounded from the next room. All the
prisoners were silent, and a sergeant, followed by two convoy
soldiers, entered. The time of the inspection had come. The
sergeant counted every one, and when Nekhludoff's turn came he
addressed him with kindly familiarity.
"You must not stay any longer, Prince, after the inspection; you
must go now."
Nekhludoff knew what this meant, went up to the sergeant and
shoved a three-rouble note into his hand.
"Ah, well, what is one to do with you; stay a bit longer, if you
like." The sergeant was about to go when another sergeant,
followed by a convict, a spare man with a thin beard and a bruise
under his eye, came in.
"It's about the girl I have come," said the convict.
"Here's daddy come," came the ringing accents of a child's voice,
and a flaxen head appeared from behind Rintzeva, who, with
Katusha's and Mary Pavlovna's help, was making a new garment for
the child out of one of Rintzeva's own petticoats.
"Yes, daughter, it's me," Bousovkin, the prisoner, said softly.
"She is quite comfortable here," said Mary Pavlovna, looking with
pity at Bousovkin's bruised face. "Leave her with us."
"The ladies are making me new clothes," said the girl, pointing
to Rintzeva's sewing--"nice red ones," she went on, prattling.
"Do you wish to sleep with us?" asked Rintzeva, caressing the
"Yes, I wish. And daddy, too."
"No, daddy can't. Well, leave her then," she said, turning to the
"Yes, you may leave her," said the first sergeant, and went out
with the other.
As soon as they were out of the room Nabatoff went up to
Bousovkin, slapped him on the shoulder, and said: "I say, old
fellow, is it true that Karmanoff wishes to exchange?"
Bousovkin's kindly, gentle face turned suddenly sad and a veil
seemed to dim his eyes.
"We have heard nothing--hardly," he said, and with the same
dimness still over his eyes he turned to the child.
"Well, Aksutka, it seems you're to make yourself comfortable with
the ladies," and he hurried away.
"It's true about the exchange, and he knows it very well," said
"What are you going to do?"
"I shall tell the authorities in the next town. I know both
prisoners by sight," said Nekhludoff.
All were silent, fearing a recommencement of the dispute.
Simonson, who had been lying with his arms thrown back behind his
head, and not speaking, rose, and determinately walked up to
Nekhludoff, carefully passing round those who were sitting.
"Could you listen to me now?"
"Of course," and Nekhludoff rose and followed him.
Katusha looked up with an expression of suspense, and meeting
Nekhludoff's eyes, she blushed and shook her head.
"What I want to speak to you about is this," Simonson began, when
they had come out into the passage. In the passage the din of the
criminal's voices and shouts sounded louder. Nekhludoff made a
face, but Simonson did not seem to take any notice.
"Knowing of your relations to Katerina Maslova," he began
seriously and frankly, with his kind eyes looking straight into
Nekhludoff's face, "I consider it my duty"--He was obliged to
stop because two voices were heard disputing and shouting, both
at once, close to the door.
"I tell you, blockhead, they are not mine," one voice shouted.
"May you choke, you devil," snorted the other.
At this moment Mary Pavlovna came out into the passage.
"How can one talk here?" she said; "go in, Vera is alone there,"
and she went in at the second door, and entered a tiny room,
evidently meant for a solitary cell, which was now placed at the
disposal of the political women prisoners, Vera Doukhova lay
covered up, head and all, on the bed.
"She has got a headache, and is asleep, so she cannot hear you,
and I will go away," said Mary Pavlovna.
"On the contrary, stay here," said Simonson; "I have no secrets
from any one, certainly none from you."
"All right," said Mary Pavlovna, and moving her whole body from
side to side, like a child, so as to get farther back on to the
bed, she settled down to listen, her beautiful hazel eyes seeming
to look somewhere far away.
"Well, then, this is my business," Simonson repeated. "Knowing of
your relations to Katerina Maslova, I consider myself bound to
explain to you my relations to her."
Nekhludoff could not help admiring the simplicity and
truthfulness with which Simonson spoke to him.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that I should like to marry Katerina Maslova--"
"How strange!" said Mary Pavlovna, fixing her eyes on Simonson.
"--And so I made up my mind to ask her to be my wife," Simonson
"What can I do? It depends on her," said Nekhludoff.
"Yes; but she will not come to any decision without you."
"Because as long as your relations with her are unsettled she
cannot make up her mind."
"As far as I am concerned, it is finally settled. I should like
to do what I consider to be my duty and also to lighten her fate,
but on no account would I wish to put any restraint on her."
"Yes, but she does not wish to accept your sacrifice."
"It is no sacrifice."
"And I know that this decision of hers is final."
"Well, then, there is no need to speak to me," said Nekhludoff.
"She wants you to acknowledge that you think as she does."
"How can I acknowledge that I must not do what I consider to be
my duty? All I can say is that I am not free, but she is."
Simonson was silent; then, after thinking a little, he said:
"Very well, then, I'll tell her. You must not think I am in love
with her," he continued; "I love her as a splendid, unique,
human being who has suffered much. I want nothing from her. I
have only an awful longing to help her, to lighten her posi--"
Nekhludoff was surprised to hear the trembling in Simonson's
"--To lighten her position," Simonson continued. "If she does not
wish to accept your help, let her accept mine. If she consents, I
shall ask to be sent to the place where she will be imprisoned.
Four years are not an eternity. I would live near her, and
perhaps might lighten her fate--" and he again stopped, too
agitated to continue.
"What am I to say?" said Nekhludoff. "I am very glad she has
found such a protector as you--"
"That's what I wanted to know," Simonson interrupted.
"I wanted to know if, loving her and wishing her happiness, you
would consider it good for her to marry me?"
"Oh, yes," said Nekhludoff decidedly.
"It all depends on her; I only wish that this suffering soul
should find rest," said Simonson, with such childlike tenderness
as no one could have expected from so morose-looking a man.
Simonson rose, and stretching his lips out to Nekhludoff, smiled
shyly and kissed him.
"So I shall tell her," and he went away.
"I HAVE NOTHING MORE TO SAY."
"What do you think of that?" said Mary Pavlovna. "In love--quite
in love. Now, that's a thing I never should have expected, that
Valdemar Simonson should be in love, and in the silliest, most
boyish manner. It is strange, and, to say the truth, it is sad,"
and she sighed.
"But she? Katusha? How does she look at it, do you think?"
"She?" Mary Pavlovna waited, evidently wishing to give as exact
an answer as possible. "She? Well, you see, in spite of her past
she has one of the most moral natures--and such fine feelings.
She loves you--loves you well, and is happy to be able to do you
even the negative good of not letting you get entangled with her.
Marriage with you would be a terrible fall for her, worse than
all that's past, and therefore she will never consent to it. And
yet your presence troubles her."
"Well, what am I to do? Ought I to vanish?"
Mary Pavlovna smiled her sweet, childlike smile, and said, "Yes,
"How is one to vanish partly?"
"I am talking nonsense. But as for her, I should like to tell you
that she probably sees the silliness of this rapturous kind of
love (he has not spoken to her), and is both flattered and afraid
of it. I am not competent to judge in such affairs, you know,
still I believe that on his part it is the most ordinary man's
feeling, though it is masked. He says that this love arouses his
energy and is Platonic, but I know that even if it is
exceptional, still at the bottom it is degrading."
Mary Pavlovna had wandered from the subject, having started on
her favourite theme.
"Well, but what am I to do?" Nekhludoff asked.
"I think you should tell her everything; it is always best that
everything should be clear. Have a talk with her; I shall call
her. Shall I?" said Mary Pavlovna.
"If you please," said Nekhludoff, and Mary Pavlovna went.
A strange feeling overcame Nekhludoff when he was alone in the
little room with the sleeping Vera Doukhova, listening to her
soft breathing, broken now and then by moans, and to the
incessant dirt that came through the two doors that separated him
from the criminals. What Simonson had told him freed him from the
self-imposed duty, which had seemed hard and strange to him in
his weak moments, and yet now he felt something that was not
merely unpleasant but painful.
He had a feeling that this offer of Simonson's destroyed the
exceptional character of his sacrifice, and thereby lessened its
value in his own and others' eyes; if so good a man who was not
bound to her by any kind of tie wanted to join his fate to hers,
then this sacrifice was not so great. There may have also been an
admixture of ordinary jealousy. He had got so used to her love
that he did not like to admit that she loved another.
Then it also upset the plans he had formed of living near her
while she was doing her term. If she married Simonson his
presence would be unnecessary, and he would have to form new
Before he had time to analyse his feelings the loud din of the
prisoners' voices came in with a rush (something special was
going on among them to-day) as the door opened to let Katusha in.
She stepped briskly close up to him and said, "Mary Pavlovna has
"Yes, I must have a talk with you. Sit down. Valdemar Simonson
has been speaking to me."
She sat down and folded her hands in her lap and seemed quite
calm, but hardly had Nekhludoff uttered Simonson's name when she
"What did he say?" she asked.
"He told me he wanted to marry you."
Her face suddenly puckered up with pain, but she said nothing and
only cast down her eyes.
"He is asking for my consent or my advice. I told him that it all
depends entirely on you--that you must decide."
"Ah, what does it all mean? Why?" she muttered, and looked in
his eyes with that peculiar squint that always strangely affected
They sat silent for a few minutes looking into each other's eyes,
and this look told much to both of them.
"You must decide," Nekhludoff repeated.
"What am I to decide? Everything has long been decided."
"No; you must decide whether you will accept Mr. Simonson's
offer," said Nekhludoff.
"What sort of a wife can I be--I, a convict? Why should I ruin
Mr. Simonson, too?" she said, with a frown.
"Well, but if the sentence should be mitigated."
"Oh, leave me alone. I have nothing more to say," she said, and
rose to leave the room.
When, following Katusha, Nekhludoff returned to the men's room,
he found every one there in agitation. Nabatoff, who went about
all over the place, and who got to know everybody, and noticed
everything, had just brought news which staggered them all. The
news was that he had discovered a note on a wall, written by the
revolutionist Petlin, who had been sentenced to hard labour, and
who, every one thought, had long since reached the Kara; and now
it turned out that he had passed this way quite recently, the
only political prisoner among criminal convicts.
"On the 17th of August," so ran the note, "I was sent off alone
with the criminals. Neveroff was with me, but hanged himself in
the lunatic asylum in Kasan. I am well and in good spirits and
hope for the best."
All were discussing Petlin's position and the possible reasons of
Neveroff's suicide. Only Kryltzoff sat silent and preoccupied,
his glistening eyes gazing fixedly in front of him.
"My husband told me that Neveroff had a vision while still in the
Petropavlovski prison," said Rintzeva.
"Yes, he was a poet, a dreamer; this sort of people cannot stand
solitary confinement," said Novodvoroff. "Now, I never gave my
imagination vent when in solitary confinement, but arranged my
days most systematically, and in this way always bore it very
"What is there unbearable about it? Why, I used to be glad when
they locked me up," said Nabatoff cheerfully, wishing to dispel
the general depression.
"A fellow's afraid of everything; of being arrested himself and
entangling others, and of spoiling the whole business, and then
he gets locked up, and all responsibility is at an end, and he
can rest; he can just sit and smoke."
"You knew him well?" asked Mary Pavlovna, glancing anxiously at
the altered, haggard expression of Kryltzoff's face.
"Neveroff a dreamer?" Kryltzoff suddenly began, panting for
breath as if he had been shouting or singing for a long time.
"Neveroff was a man 'such as the earth bears few of,' as our
doorkeeper used to express it. Yes, he had a nature like crystal,
you could see him right through; he could not lie, he could not
dissemble; not simply thin skinned, but with all his nerves laid
bare, as if he were flayed. Yes, his was a complicated, rich
nature, not such a-- But where is the use of talking?" he added,
with a vicious frown. "Shall we first educate the people and then
change the forms of life, or first change the forms and then
struggle, using peaceful propaganda or terrorism? So we go on
disputing while _they_ kill; _they_ do not dispute--they know
their business; they don't care whether dozens, hundreds of men
perish--and what men! No; that the best should perish is just
what they want. Yes, Herzen said that when the Decembrists were
withdrawn from circulation the average level of our society sank.
I should think so, indeed. Then Herzen himself and his fellows
were withdrawn; now is the turn of the Neveroffs."
"They can't all be got rid off," said Nabatoff, in his cheerful
tones. "There will always be left enough to continue the breed.
No, there won't, if we show any pity to _them_ there," Nabatoff
said, raising his voice; and not letting himself be interrupted,
"Give me a cigarette."
"Oh, Anatole, it is not good for you," said Mary Pavlovna.
"Please do not smoke."
"Oh, leave me alone," he said angrily, and lit a cigarette, but
at once began to cough and to retch, as if he were going to be
sick. Having cleared his throat though, he went on:
"What we have been doing is not the thing at all. Not to argue,
but for all to unite--to destroy them--that's it."
"But _they_ are also human beings," said Nekhludoff.
"No, _they_ are not human, they who can do what they are doing--
No-- There, now, I heard that some kind of bombs and balloons
have been invented. Well, one ought to go up in such a balloon
and sprinkle bombs down on _them_ as if _they_ were bugs, until
_they_ are all exterminated-- Yes. Because--" he was going to
continue, but, flushing all over, he began coughing worse than
before, and a stream of blood rushed from his mouth.
Nabatoff ran to get ice. Mary Pavlovna brought valerian drops and
offered them to him, but he, breathing quickly and heavily,
pushed her away with his thin, white hand, and kept his eyes
closed. When the ice and cold water had eased Kryltzoff a little,
and he had been put to bed, Nekhludoff, having said good-night to
everybody, went out with the sergeant, who had been waiting for
him some time.
The criminals were now quiet, and most of them were asleep.
Though the people were lying on and under the bed shelves and in
the space between, they could not all be placed inside the rooms,
and some of them lay in the passage with their sacks under their
heads and covered with their cloaks. The moans and sleepy voices
came through the open doors and sounded through the passage.
Everywhere lay compact heaps of human beings covered with prison
cloaks. Only a few men who were sitting in the bachelors' room by
the light of a candle end, which they put out when they noticed
the sergeant, were awake, and an old man who sat naked under the
lamp in the passage picking the vermin off his shirt. The foul
air in the political prisoners' rooms seemed pure compared to the
stinking closeness here. The smoking lamp shone dimly as through
a mist, and it was difficult to breathe. Stepping along the
passage, one had to look carefully for an empty space, and having
put down one foot had to find place for the other. Three persons,
who had evidently found no room even in the passage, lay in the
anteroom, close to the stinking and leaking tub. One of these was
an old idiot, whom Nekhludoff had often seen marching with the
gang; another was a boy about twelve; he lay between the two
other convicts, with his head on the leg of one of them.
When he had passed out of the gate Nekhludoff took a deep breath
and long continued to breathe in deep draughts of frosty air.
WHY IS IT DONE?
It had cleared up and was starlight. Except in a few places the
mud was frozen hard when Nekhludoff returned to his inn and
knocked at one of its dark windows. The broad-shouldered labourer
came barefooted to open the door for him and let him in. Through
a door on the right, leading to the back premises, came the loud
snoring of the carters, who slept there, and the sound of many
horses chewing oats came from the yard. The front room, where a
red lamp was burning in front of the icons, smelt of wormwood and
perspiration, and some one with mighty lungs was snoring behind a
partition. Nekhludoff undressed, put his leather travelling
pillow on the oilcloth sofa, spread out his rug and lay down,
thinking over all he had seen and heard that day; the boy
sleeping on the liquid that oozed from the stinking tub, with his
head on the convict's leg, seemed more dreadful than all else.
Unexpected and important as his conversation with Simonson and
Katusha that evening had been, he did not dwell on it; his
situation in relation to that subject was so complicated and
indefinite that he drove the thought from his mind. But the
picture of those unfortunate beings, inhaling the noisome air,
and lying in the liquid oozing out of the stinking tub,
especially that of the boy, with his innocent face asleep on the
leg of a criminal, came all the more vividly to his mind, and he
could not get it out of his head.
To know that somewhere far away there are men who torture other
men by inflicting all sorts of humiliations and inhuman
degradation and sufferings on them, or for three months
incessantly to look on while men were inflicting these
humiliations and sufferings on other men is a very different
thing. And Nekhludoff felt it. More than once during these three
months he asked himself, "Am I mad because I see what others do
not, or are they mad that do these things that I see?"
Yet they (and there were many of them) did what seemed so
astonishing and terrible to him with such quiet assurance that
what they were doing was necessary and was important and useful
work that it was hard to believe they were mad; nor could he,
conscious of the clearness of his thoughts, believe he was mad;
and all this kept him continually in a state of perplexity.
This is how the things he saw during these three months impressed
Nekhludoff: From among the people who were free, those were
chosen, by means of trials and the administration, who were the
most nervous, the most hot tempered, the most excitable, the most
gifted, and the strongest, but the least careful and cunning.
These people, not a wit more dangerous than many of those who
remained free, were first locked in prisons, transported to
Siberia, where they were provided for and kept months and years
in perfect idleness, and away from nature, their families, and
useful work--that is, away from the conditions necessary for a
natural and moral life. This firstly. Secondly, these people were
subjected to all sorts of unnecessary indignity in these
different Places--chains, shaved heads, shameful clothing--that
is, they were deprived of the chief motives that induce the weak
to live good lives, the regard for public opinion, the sense of
shame and the consciousness of human dignity. Thirdly, they were
continually exposed to dangers, such as the epidemics so frequent
in places of confinement, exhaustion, flogging, not to mention
accidents, such as sunstrokes, drowning or conflagrations, when
the instinct of self-preservation makes even the kindest, most
moral men commit cruel actions, and excuse such actions when
committed by others.
Fourthly, these people were forced to associate with others who
were particularly depraved by life, and especially by these very
institutions--rakes, murderers and villains--who act on those who
are not yet corrupted by the measures inflicted on them as leaven
acts on dough.
And, fifthly, the fact that all sorts of violence, cruelty,
inhumanity, are not only tolerated, but even permitted by the
government, when it suits its purposes, was impressed on them
most forcibly by the inhuman treatment they were subjected to; by
the sufferings inflicted on children, women and old men; by
floggings with rods and whips; by rewards offered for bringing a
fugitive back, dead or alive; by the separation of husbands and
wives, and the uniting them with the wives and husbands of others
for sexual intercourse; by shooting or hanging them. To those who
were deprived of their freedom, who were in want and misery, acts
of violence were evidently still more permissible. All these
institutions seemed purposely invented for the production of
depravity and vice, condensed to such a degree that no other
conditions could produce it, and for the spreading of this
condensed depravity and vice broadcast among the whole population.
"Just as if a problem had been set to find the best, the surest
means of depraving the greatest number of persons," thought
Nekhludoff, while investigating the deeds that were being done in
the prisons and halting stations. Every year hundreds of
thousands were brought to the highest pitch of depravity, and
when completely depraved they were set free to carry the
depravity they had caught in prison among the people. In the
prisons of Tamen, Ekaterinburg, Tomsk and at the halting stations
Nekhludoff saw how successfully the object society seemed to have
set itself was attained.
Ordinary, simple men with a conception of the demands of the
social and Christian Russian peasant morality lost this
conception, and found a new one, founded chiefly on the idea that
any outrage or violence was justifiable if it seemed profitable.
After living in a prison those people became conscious with the
whole of their being that, judging by what was happening to
themselves, all the moral laws, the respect and the sympathy for
others which church and the moral teachers preach, was really set
aside, and that, therefore, they, too, need not keep the laws.
Nekhludoff noticed the effects of prison life on all the convicts
he knew--on Fedoroff, on Makar, and even on Taras, who, after two
months among the convicts, struck Nekhludoff by the want of
morality in his arguments. Nekhludoff found out during his
journey how tramps, escaping into the marshes, persuade a comrade
to escape with them, and then kill him and feed on his flesh. (He
saw a living man who was accused of this and acknowledged the
fact.) And the most terrible part was that this was not a
solitary, but a recurring case.
Only by a special cultivation of vice, such as was perpetrated in
these establishments, could a Russian be brought to the state of
this tramp, who excelled Nietzsche's newest teaching, and held
that everything was possible and nothing forbidden, and who
spread this teaching first among the convicts and then among the
people in general.
The only explanation of all that was being done was the wish to
put a stop to crime by fear, by correction, by lawful vengeance
as it was written in the books. But in reality nothing in the
least resembling any of these results came to pass. Instead of
vice being put a stop to, it only spread further; instead of
being frightened, the criminals were encouraged (many a tramp
returned to prison of his own free will). Instead of being
corrected, every kind of vice was systematically instilled, while
the desire for vengeance did not weaken by the measures of the
government, but was bred in the people who had none of it.
"Then why is it done?" Nekhludoff asked himself, but could find
no answer. And what seemed most surprising was that all this was
not being done accidentally, not by mistake, not once, but that
it had continued for centuries, with this difference only, that
at first the people's nostrils used to be torn and their ears cut
off; then they were branded, and now they were manacled and
transported by steam instead of on the old carts. The arguments
brought forward by those in government service, who said that the
things which aroused his indignation were simply due to the
imperfect arrangements of the places of confinement, and that
they could all be put to rights if prisons of a modern type were
built, did not satisfy Nekhludoff, because he knew that what
revolted him was not the consequence of a better or worse
arrangement of the prisons. He had read of model prisons with
electric bells, of executions by electricity, recommended by
Tard; but this refined kind of violence revolted him even more.
But what revolted Nekhludoff most was that there were men in the
law courts and in the ministry who received large salaries, taken
from the people, for referring to books written by men like
themselves and with like motives, and sorting actions that
violated laws made by themselves according to different statutes;
and, in obedience to these statutes, sending those guilty of such
actions to places where they were completely at the mercy of
cruel, hardened inspectors, jailers, convoy soldiers, where
millions of them perished body and soul.
Now that he had a closer knowledge of prisons, Nekhludoff found
out that all those vices which developed among the
prisoners--drunkenness, gambling, cruelty, and all these terrible
crimes, even cannibalism--were not casual, or due to degeneration
or to the existence of monstrosities of the criminal type, as
science, going hand in hand with the government, explained it,
but an unavoidable consequence of the incomprehensible delusion
that men may punish one another. Nekhludoff saw that cannibalism
did not commence in the marshes, but in the ministry. He saw that
his brother-in-law, for example, and, in fact, all the lawyers
and officials, from the usher to the minister, do not care in the
least for justice or the good of the people about whom they
spoke, but only for the roubles they were paid for doing the
things that were the source whence all this degradation and
suffering flowed. This was quite evident.
"Can it be, then, that all this is done simply through
misapprehension? Could it not be managed that all these officials
should have their salaries secured to them, and a premium paid
them, besides, so that they should leave off, doing all that they
were doing now?" Nekhludoff thought, and in spite of the fleas,
that seemed to spring up round him like water from a fountain
whenever he moved, he fell fast asleep.
THE JOURNEY RESUMED.
The carters had left the inn long before Nekhludoff awoke. The
landlady had had her tea, and came in wiping her fat, perspiring
neck with her handkerchief, and said that a soldier had brought a
note from the halting station. The note was from Mary Pavlovna.
She wrote that Kryltzoff's attack was more serious than they had
imagined. "We wished him to be left behind and to remain with
him, but this has not been allowed, so that we shall take him on;
but we fear the worst. Please arrange so that if he should he
left in the next town, one of us might remain with him. If in
order to get the permission to stay I should be obliged to get
married to him, I am of course ready to do so."
Nekhludoff sent the young labourer to the post station to order
horses and began packing up hurriedly. Before he had drunk his
second tumbler of tea the three-horsed postcart drove up to the
porch with ringing bells, the wheels rattling on the frozen mud
as on stones. Nekhludoff paid the fat-necked landlady, hurried
out and got into the cart, and gave orders to the driver to go on
as fast as possible, so as to overtake the gang. Just past the
gates of the commune pasture ground they did overtake the carts,
loaded with sacks and the sick prisoners, as they rattled over
the frozen mud, that was just beginning to be rolled smooth by
the wheels (the officer was not there, he had gone in advance).
The soldiers, who had evidently been drinking, followed by the
side of the road, chatting merrily. There were a great many
carts. In each of the first carts sat six invalid criminal
convicts, close packed. On each of the last two were three
political prisoners. Novodvoroff, Grabetz and Kondratieff sat on
one, Rintzeva, Nabatoff and the woman to whom Mary Pavlovna had
given up her own place on the other, and on one of the carts lay
Kryltzoff on a heap of hay, with a pillow under his head, and
Mary Pavlovna sat by him on the edge of the cart. Nekhludoff
ordered his driver to stop, got out and went up to Kryltzoff. One
of the tipsy soldiers waved his hand towards Nekhludoff, but he
paid no attention and started walking by Kryltzoff's side,
holding on to the side of the cart with his hand. Dressed in a
sheepskin coat, with a fur cap on his head and his mouth bound up
with a handkerchief, he seemed paler and thinner than ever. His
beautiful eyes looked very large and brilliant. Shaken from side
to side by the jottings of the cart, he lay with his eyes fixed
on Nekhludoff; but when asked about his health, he only closed
his eyes and angrily shook his head. All his energy seemed to be
needed in order to bear the jolting of the cart. Mary Pavlovna
was on the other side. She exchanged a significant glance with
Nekhludoff, which expressed all her anxiety about Kryltzoff's
state, and then began to talk at once in a cheerful manner.
"It seems the officer is ashamed of himself," she shouted, so as
to be heard above the rattle of the wheels. "Bousovkin's manacles
have been removed, and he is carrying his little girl himself.
Katusha and Simonson are with him, and Vera, too. She has taken
Kryltzoff said something that could not be heard because of the
noise, and frowning in the effort to repress his cough shook his
head. Then Nekhludoff stooped towards him, so as to hear, and
Kryltzoff, freeing his mouth of the handkerchief, whispered:
"Much better now. Only not to catch cold."
Nekhludoff nodded in acquiescence, and again exchanged a glance
with Mary Pavlovna.
"How about the problem of the three bodies?" whispered Kryltzoff,
smiling with great difficulty. "The solution is difficult."
Nekhludoff did not understand, but Mary Pavlovna explained that
he meant the well-known mathematical problem which defined the
position of the sun, moon and earth, which Kryltzoff compared to
the relations between Nekhludoff, Katusha and Simonson.
Kryltzoff nodded, to show that Mary Pavlovna had explained his
"The decision does not lie with me," Nekhludoff said.
"Did you get my note? Will you do it?" Mary Pavlovna asked.
"Certainly," answered Nekhludoff; and noticing a look of
displeasure on Kryltzoff's face, he returned to his conveyance,
and holding with both hands to the sides of the cart, got in,
which jolted with him over the ruts of the rough road. He passed
the gang, which, with its grey cloaks and sheepskin coats, chains
and manacles, stretched over three-quarters of a mile of the
road. On the opposite side of the road Nekhludoff noticed
Katusha's blue shawl, Vera Doukhova's black coat, and Simonson's
crochet cap, white worsted stockings, with bands, like those of
sandals, tied round him. Simonson was walking with the woman and
carrying on a heated discussion.
When they saw Nekhludoff they bowed to him, and Simonson raised
his hat in a solemn manner. Nekhludoff, having nothing to say,
did not stop, and was soon ahead of the carts. Having got again
on to a smoother part of the road, they drove still more quickly,
but they had continually to turn aside to let pass long rows of
carts that were moving along the road in both directions.
The road, which was cut up by deep ruts, lay through a thick pine
forest, mingled with birch trees and larches, bright with yellow
leaves they had not yet shed. By the time Nekhludoff had passed
about half the gang he reached the end of the forest. Fields now
lay stretched along both sides of the road, and the crosses and
cupolas of a monastery appeared in the distance. The clouds had
dispersed, and it had cleared up completely; the leaves, the
frozen puddles and the gilt crosses and cupolas of the monastery
glittered brightly in the sun that had risen above the forest. A
little to the right mountains began to gleam white in the
blue-grey distance, and the trap entered a large village. The
village street was full of people, both Russians and other
nationalities, wearing peculiar caps and cloaks. Tipsy men and
women crowded and chattered round booths, traktirs, public houses
and carts. The vicinity of a town was noticeable. Giving a pull
and a lash of the whip to the horse on his right, the driver sat
down sideways on the right edge of the scat, so that the reins
hung over that side, and with evident desire of showing off, he
drove quickly down to the river, which had to be crossed by a
ferry. The raft was coming towards them, and had reached the
middle of the river. About twenty carts were waiting to cross.
Nekhludoff had not long to wait. The raft, which had been pulled
far up the stream, quickly approached the landing, carried by the
swift waters. The tall, silent, broad-shouldered, muscular
ferryman, dressed in sheepskins, threw the ropes and moored the
raft with practised hand, landed the carts that were on it, and
put those that were waiting on the bank on board. The whole raft
was filled with vehicles and horses shuffling at the sight of the
water. The broad, swift river splashed against the sides of the
ferryboats, tightening their moorings.
When the raft was full, and Nekhludoff's cart, with the horses
taken out of it, stood closely surrounded by other carts on the
side of the raft, the ferryman barred the entrance, and, paying
no heed to the prayers of those who had not found room in the
raft, unfastened the ropes and set off.
All was quiet on the raft; one could hear nothing but the tramp
of the ferryman's boots and the horses changing from foot to
"JUST A WORTHLESS TRAMP."
Nekhludoff stood on the edge of the raft looking at the broad
river. Two pictures kept rising up in his mind. One, that of
Kryltzoff, unprepared for death and dying, made a heavy,
sorrowful impression on him. The other, that of Katusha, full of
energy, having gained the love of such a man as Simonson, and
found a true and solid path towards righteousness, should have
been pleasant, yet it also created a heavy impression on
Nekhludoff's mind, and he could not conquer this impression.
The vibrating sounds of a big brass bell reached them from the
town. Nekhludoff's driver, who stood by his side, and the other
men on the raft raised their caps and crossed themselves, all
except a short, dishevelled old man, who stood close to the
railway and whom Nekhludoff had not noticed before. He did not
cross himself, but raised his head and looked at Nekhludoff. This
old man wore a patched coat, cloth trousers and worn and patched
shoes. He had a small wallet on his back, and a high fur cap with
the fur much rubbed on his head.
"Why don't you pray, old chap?" asked Nekhludoff's driver as he
replaced and straightened his cap. "Are you unbaptized?"
"Who's one to pray to?" asked the old man quickly, in a
determinately aggressive tone.
"To whom? To God, of course," said the driver sarcastically.
"And you just show me where he is, that god." There was something
so serious and firm in the expression of the old man, that the
driver felt that he had to do with a strong-minded man, and was a
bit abashed. And trying not to show this, not to be silenced, and
not to be put to shame before the crowd that was observing them,
he answered quickly.
"Where? In heaven, of course."
"And have you been up there?"
"Whether I've been or not, every one knows that you must pray to
"No one has ever seen God at any time. The only begotten Son who
is in the bosom of the Father he hath declared him," said the old
man in the same rapid manner, and with a severe frown on his
"It's clear you are not a Christian, but a hole worshipper. You
pray to a hole," said the driver, shoving the handle of his whip
into his girdle, pulling straight the harness on one of the
Some one laughed.
"What is your faith, Dad?" asked a middle-aged man, who stood by
his cart on the same side of the raft.
"I have no kind of faith, because I believe no one--no one but
myself," said the old man as quickly and decidedly as before.
"How can you believe yourself?" Nekhludoff asked, entering into a
conversation with him. "You might make a mistake."
"Never in your life," the old man said decidedly, with a toss of
"Then why are there different faiths?" Nekhludoff asked.
"It's just because men believe others and do not believe
themselves that there are different faiths. I also believed
others, and lost myself as in a swamp,--lost myself so that I had
no hope of finding my way out. Old believers and new believers
and Judaisers and Khlysty and Popovitzy, and Bespopovitzy and
Avstriaks and Molokans and Skoptzy--every faith praises itself
only, and so they all creep about like blind puppies. There are
many faiths, but the spirit is one--in me and in you and in him.
So that if every one believes himself all will he united. Every
one he himself, and all will be as one."
The old man spoke loudly and often looked round, evidently
wishing that as many as possible should hear him.
"And have you long held this faith?"
"I? A long time. This is the twenty-third year that they
"Persecute you? How?"
"As they persecuted Christ, so they persecute me. They seize me,
and take me before the courts and before the priests, the Scribes
and the Pharisees. Once they put me into a madhouse; but they can
do nothing because I am free. They say, 'What is your name?'
thinking I shall name myself. But I do not give myself a name. I
have given up everything: I have no name, no place, no country,
nor anything. I am just myself. 'What is your name?' 'Man.' 'How
old are you?' I say, 'I do not count my years and cannot count
them, because I always was, I always shall be.' 'Who are your
parents?' 'I have no parents except God and Mother Earth. God is
my father.' 'And the Tsar? Do you recognise the Tsar?' they say.
I say, 'Why not? He is his own Tsar, and I am my own Tsar.'
'Where's the good of talking to him,' they say, and I say, 'I do
not ask you to talk to me.' And so they begin tormenting me."
"And where are you going now?" asked Nekhludoff.
"Where God will lead me. I work when I can find work, and when I
can't I beg." The old man noticed that the raft was approaching
the bank and stopped, looking round at the bystanders with a look
Nekhludoff got out his purse and offered some money to the old
man, but he refused, saying:
"I do not accept this sort of thing--bread I do accept."
"Well, then, excuse me."
"There is nothing to excuse, you have not offended me. And it is
not possible to offend me." And the old man put the wallet he had
taken off again on his back. Meanwhile, the post-cart had been
landed and the horses harnessed.
"I wonder you should care to talk to him, sir," said the driver,
when Nekhludoff, having tipped the bowing ferryman, got into the
cart again. "He is just a worthless tramp."
NEKHLUDOFF SEES THE GENERAL.
When they got to the top of the hill bank the driver turned to
"Which hotel am I to drive to?"
"Which is the best?"
"Nothing could be better than the Siberian, but Dukeoff's is also
"Drive to whichever you like."
The driver again seated himself sideways and drove faster. The
town was like all such towns. The same kind of houses with attic
windows and green roofs, the same kind of cathedral, the same
kind of shops and stores in the principal street, and even the
same kind of policemen. Only the houses were almost all of them
wooden, and the streets were not paved. In one of the chief
streets the driver stopped at the door of an hotel, but there was
no room to be had, so he drove to another. And here Nekhludoff,
after two months, found himself once again in surroundings such
as he had been accustomed to as far as comfort and cleanliness
went. Though the room he was shown to was simple enough, yet
Nekhludoff felt greatly relieved to be there after two months of
post-carts, country inns and halting stations. His first business
was to clean himself of the lice which he had never been able to
get thoroughly rid of after visiting a halting station. When he
had unpacked he went to the Russian bath, after which he made
himself fit to be seen in a town, put on a starched shirt,
trousers that had got rather creased along the seams, a
frock-coat and an overcoat, and drove to the Governor of the
district. The hotel-keeper called an isvostchik, whose well-fed
Kirghiz horse and vibrating trap soon brought Nekhludoff to the
large porch of a big building, in front of which stood sentinels
and a policeman. The house had a garden in front, and at the
back, among the naked branches of aspen and birch trees, there
grew thick and dark green pines and firs. The General was not
well, and did not receive; but Nekhludoff asked the footman to
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