Count Leo Tolstoy
Part 3 out of 11
"We have condemned a woman, and I should like to appeal to a
"To the Senate, you mean," said Fanarin, correcting him.
"Yes, and I should like to ask you to take the case in hand."
Nekhludoff wanted to get the most difficult part over, and added,
"I shall take the costs of the case on myself, whatever they may
"Oh, we shall settle all that," said the advocate, smiling with
condescension at Nekhludoff's inexperience in these matters.
"What is the case?"
Nekhludoff stated what had happened.
"All right. I shall look the case through to-morrow or the day
after--no--better on Thursday. If you will come to me at six
o'clock I will give you an answer. Well, and now let us go; I
have to make a few inquiries here."
Nekhludoff took leave of him and went out. This talk with the
advocate, and the fact that he had taken measures for Maslova's
defence, quieted him still further. He went out into the street.
The weather was beautiful, and he joyfully drew in a long breath
of spring air. He was at once surrounded by isvostchiks offering
their services, but he went on foot. A whole swarm of pictures
and memories of Katusha and his conduct to her began whirling in
his brain, and he felt depressed and everything appeared gloomy.
"No, I shall consider all this later on; I must now get rid of
all these disagreeable impressions," he thought to himself.
He remembered the Korchagin's dinner and looked at his watch. It
was not yet too late to get there in time. He heard the ring of a
passing tramcar, ran to catch it, and jumped on. He jumped off
again when they got to the market-place, took a good isvostchik,
and ten minutes later was at the entrance of the Korchagins' big
THE HOUSE OF KORCHAGIN.
"Please to walk in, your excellency," said the friendly, fat
doorkeeper of the Korchagins' big house, opening the door, which
moved noiselessly on its patent English hinges; "you are
expected. They are at dinner. My orders were to admit only you."
The doorkeeper went as far as the staircase and rang.
"Are there any strangers?" asked Nekhludoff, taking off his
"Mr. Kolosoff and Michael Sergeivitch only, besides the family."
A very handsome footman with whiskers, in a swallow-tail coat and
white gloves, looked down from the landing.
"Please to walk up, your excellency," he said. "You are expected."
Nekhludoff went up and passed through the splendid large
dancing-room, which he knew so well, into the dining-room. There
the whole Korchagin family--except the mother, Sophia Vasilievna,
who never left her cabinet--were sitting round the table. At the
head of the table sat old Korchagin; on his left the doctor, and
on his right, a visitor, Ivan Ivanovitch Kolosoff, a former
Marechal de Noblesse, now a bank director, Korchagin's friend and
a Liberal. Next on the left side sat Miss Rayner, the governess
of Missy's little sister, and the four-year-old girl herself.
Opposite them, Missy's brother, Petia, the only son of the
Korchagins, a public-school boy of the Sixth Class. It was
because of his examinations that the whole family were still in
town. Next to him sat a University student who was coaching him,
and Missy's cousin, Michael Sergeivitch Telegin, generally called
Misha; opposite him, Katerina Alexeevna, a 40-year-old maiden
lady, a Slavophil; and at the foot of the table sat Missy
herself, with an empty place by her side.
"Ah! that's right! Sit down. We are still at the fish," said old
Korchagin with difficulty, chewing carefully with his false
teeth, and lifting his bloodshot eyes (which had no visible lids
to them) to Nekhludoff.
"Stephen!" he said, with his mouth full, addressing the stout,
dignified butler, and pointing with his eyes to the empty place.
Though Nekhludoff knew Korchagin very well, and had often seen
him at dinner, to-day this red face with the sensual smacking
lips, the fat neck above the napkin stuck into his waistcoat, and
the whole over-fed military figure, struck him very disagreeably.
Then Nekhludoff remembered, without wishing to, what he knew of
the cruelty of this man, who, when in command, used to have men
flogged, and even hanged, without rhyme or reason, simply because
he was rich and had no need to curry favour.
"Immediately, your excellency," said Stephen, getting a large
soup ladle out of the sideboard, which was decorated with a
number of silver vases. He made a sign with his head to the
handsome footman, who began at once to arrange the untouched
knives and forks and the napkin, elaborately folded with the
embroidered family crest uppermost, in front of the empty place
next to Missy. Nekhludoff went round shaking hands with every
one, and all, except old Korchagin and the ladies, rose when he
approached. And this walk round the table, this shaking the hands
of people, with many of whom he never talked, seemed unpleasant
and odd. He excused himself for being late, and was about to sit
down between Missy and Katerina Alexeevna, but old Korchagin
insisted that if he would not take a glass of vodka he should at
least take a bit of something to whet his appetite, at the side
table, on which stood small dishes of lobster, caviare, cheese,
and salt herrings. Nekhludoff did not know how hungry he was
until he began to eat, and then, having taken some bread and
cheese, he went on eating eagerly.
"Well, have you succeeded in undermining the basis of society?"
asked Kolosoff, ironically quoting an expression used by a
retrograde newspaper in attacking trial by jury. "Acquitted the
culprits and condemned the innocent, have you?"
"Undermining the basis--undermining the basis," repeated Prince
Korchagin, laughing. He had a firm faith in the wisdom and
learning of his chosen friend and companion.
At the risk of seeming rude, Nekhludoff left Kolosoff's question
unanswered, and sitting down to his steaming soup, went on
"Do let him eat," said Missy, with a smile. The pronoun him she
used as a reminder of her intimacy with Nekhludoff. Kolosoff went
on in a loud voice and lively manner to give the contents of the
article against trial by jury which had aroused his indignation.
Missy's cousin, Michael Sergeivitch, endorsed all his statements,
and related the contents of another article in the same paper.
Missy was, as usual, very distinguee, and well, unobtrusively
"You must be terribly tired," she said, after waiting until
Nekhludoff had swallowed what was in his mouth.
"Not particularly. And you? Have you been to look at the
pictures?" he asked.
"No, we put that off. We have been playing tennis at the
Salamatoffs'. It is quite true, Mr. Crooks plays remarkably
Nekhludoff had come here in order to distract his thoughts, for
he used to like being in this house, both because its refined
luxury had a pleasant effect on him and because of the atmosphere
of tender flattery that unobtrusively surrounded him. But to-day
everything in the house was repulsive to him--everything:
beginning with the doorkeeper, the broad staircase, the flowers,
the footman, the table decorations, up to Missy herself, who
to-day seemed unattractive and affected. Kolosoff's self-assured,
trivial tone of liberalism was unpleasant, as was also the
sensual, self-satisfied, bull-like appearance of old Korchagin,
and the French phrases of Katerina Alexeevna, the Slavophil. The
constrained looks of the governess and the student were
unpleasant, too, but most unpleasant of all was the pronoun _him_
that Missy had used. Nekhludoff had long been wavering between
two ways of regarding Missy; sometimes he looked at her as if by
moonlight, and could see in her nothing but what was beautiful,
fresh, pretty, clever and natural; then suddenly, as if the
bright sun shone on her, he saw her defects and could not help
seeing them. This was such a day for him. To-day he saw all the
wrinkles of her face, knew which of her teeth were false, saw the
way her hair was crimped, the sharpness of her elbows, and, above
all, how large her thumb-nail was and how like her father's.
"Tennis is a dull game," said Kolosoff; "we used to play lapta
when we were children. That was much more amusing."
"Oh, no, you never tried it; it's awfully interesting," said
Missy, laying, it seemed to Nekhludoff, a very affected stress on
the word "awfully." Then a dispute arose in which Michael
Sergeivitch, Katerina Alexeevna and all the others took part,
except the governess, the student and the children, who sat
silent and wearied.
"Oh, these everlasting disputes!" said old Korchagin, laughing,
and he pulled the napkin out of his waistcoat, noisily pushed
back his chair, which the footman instantly caught hold of, and
left the table.
Everybody rose after him, and went up to another table on which
stood glasses of scented water. They rinsed their mouths, then
resumed the conversation, interesting to no one.
"Don't you think so?" said Missy to Nekhludoff, calling for a
confirmation of the statement that nothing shows up a man's
character like a game. She noticed that preoccupied and, as it
seemed to her, dissatisfied look which she feared, and she wanted
to find out what had caused it.
"Really, I can't tell; I have never thought about it," Nekhludoff
"Will you come to mamma?" asked Missy.
"Yes, yes," he said, in a tone which plainly proved that he did
not want to go, and took out a cigarette.
She looked at him in silence, with a questioning look, and he
felt ashamed. "To come into a house and give the people the
dumps," he thought about himself; then, trying to be amiable,
said that he would go with pleasure if the princess would admit
"Oh, yes! Mamma will be pleased. You may smoke there; and Ivan
Ivanovitch is also there."
The mistress of the house, Princess Sophia Vasilievna, was a
recumbent lady. It was the eighth year that, when visitors were
present, she lay in lace and ribbons, surrounded with velvet,
gilding, ivory, bronze, lacquer and flowers, never going out, and
only, as she put it, receiving intimate friends, i.e., those who
according to her idea stood out from the common herd.
Nekhludoff was admitted into the number of these friends because
he was considered clever, because his mother had been an intimate
friend of the family, and because it was desirable that Missy
should marry him.
Sophia Vasilievna's room lay beyond the large and the small
drawing-rooms. In the large drawing-room, Missy, who was in front
of Nekhludoff, stopped resolutely, and taking hold of the back of
a small green chair, faced him.
Missy was very anxious to get married, and as he was a suitable
match and she also liked him, she had accustomed herself to the
thought that he should be hers (not she his). To lose him would
be very mortifying. She now began talking to him in order to get
him to explain his intentions.
"I see something has happened," she said. "Tell me, what is the
matter with you?"
He remembered the meeting in the law court, and frowned and
"Yes, something has happened," he said, wishing to be truthful;
"a very unusual and serious event."
"What is it, then? Can you not tell me what it is?" She was
pursuing her aim with that unconscious yet obstinate cunning
often observable in the mentally diseased.
"Not now. Please do not ask me to tell you. I have not yet had
time fully to consider it," and he blushed still more.
"And so you will not tell me?" A muscle twitched in her face and
she pushed back the chair she was holding. "Well then, come!" She
shook her head as if to expel useless thoughts, and, faster than
usual, went on in front of him.
He fancied that her mouth was unnaturally compressed in order to
keep back the tears. He was ashamed of having hurt her, and yet
he knew that the least weakness on his part would mean disaster,
i.e., would bind him to her. And to-day he feared this more than
anything, and silently followed her to the princess's cabinet.
Princess Sophia Vasilievna, Missy's mother, had finished her very
elaborate and nourishing dinner. (She had it always alone, that
no one should see her performing this unpoetical function.) By
her couch stood a small table with her coffee, and she was
smoking a pachitos. Princess Sophia Vasilievna was a long, thin
woman, with dark hair, large black eyes and long teeth, and still
pretended to be young.
Her intimacy with the doctor was being talked about. Nekhludoff
had known that for some time; but when he saw the doctor sitting
by her couch, his oily, glistening beard parted in the middle, he
not only remembered the rumours about them, but felt greatly
disgusted. By the table, on a low, soft, easy chair, next to
Sophia Vasilievna, sat Kolosoff, stirring his coffee. A glass of
liqueur stood on the table. Missy came in with Nekhludoff, but
did not remain in the room.
"When mamma gets tired of you and drives you away, then come to
me," she said, turning to Kolosoff and Nekhludoff, speaking as if
nothing had occurred; then she went away, smiling merrily and
stepping noiselessly on the thick carpet.
"How do you do, dear friend? Sit down and talk," said Princess
Sophia Vasilievna, with her affected but very naturally-acted
smile, showing her fine, long teeth--a splendid imitation of what
her own had once been. "I hear that you have come from the Law
Courts very much depressed. I think it must be very trying to a
person with a heart," she added in French.
"Yes, that is so," said Nekhludoff. "One often feels one's own
de--one feels one has no right to judge."
"Comme, c'est vrai," she cried, as if struck by the truth of this
remark. She was in the habit of artfully flattering all those
with whom she conversed. "Well, and what of your picture? It does
interest me so. If I were not such a sad invalid I should have
been to see it long ago," she said.
"I have quite given it up," Nekhludoff replied drily. The
falseness of her flattery seemed as evident to him to-day as her
age, which she was trying to conceal, and he could not put
himself into the right state to behave politely.
"Oh, that _is_ a pity! Why, he has a real talent for art; I have
it from Repin's own lips," she added, turning to Kolosoff.
"Why is it she is not ashamed of lying so?" Nekhludoff thought,
When she had convinced herself that Nekhludoff was in a bad
temper and that one could not get him into an agreeable and
clever conversation, Sophia Vasilievna turned to Kolosoff, asking
his opinion of a new play. She asked it in a tone as if
Kolosoff's opinion would decide all doubts, and each word of this
opinion be worthy of being immortalised. Kolosoff found fault
both with the play and its author, and that led him to express
his views on art. Princess Sophia Vasilievna, while trying at the
same time to defend the play, seemed impressed by the truth of
his arguments, either giving in at once, or at least modifying
her opinion. Nekhludoff looked and listened, but neither saw nor
heard what was going on before him.
Listening now to Sophia Vasilievna, now to Kolosoff, Nekhludoff
noticed that neither he nor she cared anything about the play or
each other, and that if they talked it was only to gratify the
physical desire to move the muscles of the throat and tongue
after having eaten; and that Kolosoff, having drunk vodka, wine
and liqueur, was a little tipsy. Not tipsy like the peasants who
drink seldom, but like people to whom drinking wine has become a
habit. He did not reel about or talk nonsense, but he was in a
state that was not normal; excited and self-satisfied.
Nekhludoff also noticed that during the conversation Princess
Sophia Vasilievna kept glancing uneasily at the window, through
which a slanting ray of sunshine, which might vividly light up
her aged face, was beginning to creep up.
"How true," she said in reference to some remark of Kolosoff's,
touching the button of an electric bell by the side of her couch.
The doctor rose, and, like one who is at home, left the room
without saying anything. Sophia Vasilievna followed him with her
eyes and continued the conversation.
"Please, Philip, draw these curtains," she said, pointing to the
window, when the handsome footman came in answer to the bell.
"No; whatever you may say, there is some mysticism in him;
without mysticism there can be no poetry," she said, with one of
her black eyes angrily following the footman's movements as he
was drawing the curtains. "Without poetry, mysticism is
superstition; without mysticism, poetry is--prose," she
continued, with a sorrowful smile, still not losing sight of the
footman and the curtains. "Philip, not that curtain; the one on
the large window," she exclaimed, in a suffering tone. Sophia
Vasilievna was evidently pitying herself for having to make the
effort of saying these words; and, to soothe her feelings, she
raised to her lips a scented, smoking cigarette with her jewel-
The broad-chested, muscular, handsome Philip bowed slightly, as
if begging pardon; and stepping lightly across the carpet with
his broad-calved, strong, legs, obediently and silently went to
the other window, and, looking at the princess, carefully began
to arrange the curtain so that not a single ray dared fall on
her. But again he did not satisfy her, and again she had to
interrupt the conversation about mysticism, and correct in a
martyred tone the unintelligent Philip, who was tormenting her so
pitilessly. For a moment a light flashed in Philip's eyes.
"'The devil take you! What do you want?' was probably what he
said to himself," thought Nekhludoff, who had been observing all
this scene. But the strong, handsome Philip at once managed to
conceal the signs of his impatience, and went on quietly carrying
out the orders of the worn, weak, false Sophia Vasilievna.
"Of course, there is a good deal of truth in Lombroso's
teaching," said Kolosoff, lolling back in the low chair and
looking at Sophia Vasilievna with sleepy eyes; "but he
over-stepped the mark. Oh, yes."
"And you? Do you believe in heredity?" asked Sophia Vasilievna,
turning to Nekhludoff, whose silence annoyed her. "In heredity?"
he asked. "No, I don't." At this moment his whole mind was taken
up by strange images that in some unaccountable way rose up in
his imagination. By the side of this strong and handsome Philip
he seemed at this minute to see the nude figure of Kolosoff as an
artist's model; with his stomach like a melon, his bald head, and
his arms without muscle, like pestles. In the same dim way the
limbs of Sophia Vasilievna, now covered with silks and velvets,
rose up in his mind as they must be in reality; but this mental
picture was too horrid and he tried to drive it away.
"Well, you know Missy is waiting for you," she said. "Go and find
her. She wants to play a new piece by Grieg to you; it is most
"She did not mean to play anything; the woman is simply lying,
for some reason or other," thought Nekhludoff, rising and
pressing Sophia Vasilievna's transparent and bony, ringed hand.
Katerina Alexeevna met him in the drawing-room, and at once
began, in French, as usual:
"I see the duties of a juryman act depressingly upon you."
"Yes; pardon me, I am in low spirits to-day, and have no right to
weary others by my presence," said Nekhludoff.
"Why are you in low spirits?"
"Allow me not to speak about that," he said, looking round for
"Don't you remember how you used to say that we must always tell
the truth? And what cruel truths you used to tell us all! Why do
you not wish to speak out now? Don't you remember, Missy?" she
said, turning to Missy, who had just come in.
"We were playing a game then," said Nekhludoff, seriously; "one
may tell the truth in a game, but in reality we are so bad--I
mean I am so bad--that I, at least, cannot tell the truth."
"Oh, do not correct yourself, but rather tell us why _we_ are
so bad," said Katerina Alexeevna, playing with her words and
pretending not to notice how serious Nekhludoff was.
"Nothing is worse than to confess to being in low spirits," said
Missy. "I never do it, and therefore am always in good spirits."
Nekhludoff felt as a horse must feel when it is being caressed to
make it submit to having the bit put in its mouth and be
harnessed, and to-day he felt less than ever inclined to draw.
"Well, are you coming into my room? We will try to cheer you up."
He excused himself, saying he had to be at home, and began taking
leave. Missy kept his hand longer than usual.
"Remember that what is important to you is important to your
friends," she said. "Are you coming tomorrow?"
"I hardly expect to," said Nekhludoff; and feeling ashamed,
without knowing whether for her or for himself, he blushed and
"What is it? _Comme cela m'intrigue_," said Katerina Alexeevna. "I
must find it out. I suppose it is some _affaire d'amour propre; il
est tres susceptible, notre cher Mitia_."
"_Plutot une affaire d'amour sale_," Missy was going to say, but
stopped and looked down with a face from which all the light had
gone--a very different face from the one with which she had
looked at him. She would not mention to Katerina Alexeevna even,
so vulgar a pun, but only said, "We all have our good and our bad
"Is it possible that he, too, will deceive?" she thought; "after
all that has happened it would be very bad of him."
If Missy had had to explain what she meant by "after all that has
happened," she could have said nothing definite, and yet she knew
that he had not only excited her hopes but had almost given her a
promise. No definite words had passed between them--only looks
and smiles and hints; and yet she considered him as her own, and
to lose him would be very hard.
"Shameful and stupid, horrid and shameful!" Nekhludoff kept
saying to himself, as he walked home along the familiar streets.
The depression he had felt whilst speaking to Missy would not
leave him. He felt that, looking at it externally, as it were, he
was in the right, for he had never said anything to her that
could be considered binding, never made her an offer; but he knew
that in reality he had bound himself to her, had promised to be
hers. And yet to-day he felt with his whole being that he could
not marry her.
"Shameful and horrid, horrid and shameful!" he repeated to
himself, with reference not only to his relations with Missy but
also to the rest. "Everything is horrid and shameful," he
muttered, as he stepped into the porch of his house. "I am not
going to have any supper," he said to his manservant Corney, who
followed him into the dining-room, where the cloth was laid for
supper and tea. "You may go."
"Yes, sir," said Corney, yet he did not go, but began clearing
the supper off the table. Nekhludoff looked at Corney with a
feeling of ill-will. He wished to be left alone, and it seemed to
him that everybody was bothering him in order to spite him. When
Corney had gone away with the supper things, Nekhludoff moved to
the tea urn and was about to make himself some tea, but hearing
Agraphena Petrovna's footsteps, he went hurriedly into the
drawing-room, to avoid being seen by her, and shut the door after
him. In this drawing-room his mother had died three months
before. On entering the room, in which two lamps with reflectors
were burning, one lighting up his father's and the other his
mother's portrait, he remembered what his last relations with his
mother had been. And they also seemed shameful and horrid. He
remembered how, during the latter period of her illness, he had
simply wished her to die. He had said to himself that he wished
it for her sake, that she might be released from her suffering,
but in reality he wished to be released from the sight of her
sufferings for his own sake.
Trying to recall a pleasant image of her, he went up to look at
her portrait, painted by a celebrated artist for 800 roubles. She
was depicted in a very low-necked black velvet dress. There was
something very revolting and blasphemous in this representation
of his mother as a half-nude beauty. It was all the more
disgusting because three months ago, in this very room, lay this
same woman, dried up to a mummy. And he remembered how a few days
before her death she clasped his hand with her bony, discoloured
fingers, looked into his eyes, and said: "Do not judge me, Mitia,
if I have not done what I should," and how the tears came into
her eyes, grown pale with suffering.
"Ah, how horrid!" he said to himself, looking up once more at the
half-naked woman, with the splendid marble shoulders and arms,
and the triumphant smile on her lips. "Oh, how horrid!" The bared
shoulders of the portrait reminded him of another, a young woman,
whom he had seen exposed in the same way a few days before. It
was Missy, who had devised an excuse for calling him into her
room just as she was ready to go to a ball, so that he should see
her in her ball dress. It was with disgust that he remembered her
fine shoulders and arms. "And that father of hers, with his
doubtful past and his cruelties, and the bel-esprit her mother,
with her doubtful reputation." All this disgusted him, and also
made him feel ashamed. "Shameful and horrid; horrid and shameful!"
"No, no," he thought; "freedom from all these false relations
with the Korchagins and Mary Vasilievna and the inheritance and
from all the rest must be got. Oh, to breathe freely, to go
abroad, to Rome and work at my picture!" He remembered the doubts
he had about his talent for art. "Well, never mind; only just to
breathe freely. First Constantinople, then Rome. Only just to get
through with this jury business, and arrange with the advocate
Then suddenly there arose in his mind an extremely vivid picture
of a prisoner with black, slightly-squinting eyes, and how she
began to cry when the last words of the prisoners had been heard;
and he hurriedly put out his cigarette, pressing it into the
ash-pan, lit another, and began pacing up and down the room. One
after another the scenes he had lived through with her rose in
his mind. He recalled that last interview with her. He remembered
the white dress and blue sash, the early mass. "Why, I loved her,
really loved her with a good, pure love, that night; I loved her
even before: yes, I loved her when I lived with my aunts the
first time and was writing my composition." And he remembered
himself as he had been then. A breath of that freshness, youth
and fulness of life seemed to touch him, and he grew painfully
sad. The difference between what he had been then and what he was
now, was enormous--just as great, if not greater than the
difference between Katusha in church that night, and the
prostitute who had been carousing with the merchant and whom they
judged this morning. Then he was free and fearless, and
innumerable possibilities lay ready to open before him; now he
felt himself caught in the meshes of a stupid, empty, valueless,
frivolous life, out of which he saw no means of extricating
himself even if he wished to, which he hardly did. He remembered
how proud he was at one time of his straightforwardness, how he
had made a rule of always speaking the truth, and really had been
truthful; and how he was now sunk deep in lies: in the most
dreadful of lies--lies considered as the truth by all who
surrounded him. And, as far as he could see, there was no way out
of these lies. He had sunk in the mire, got used to it, indulged
himself in it.
How was he to break off his relations with Mary Vasilievna and
her husband in such a way as to be able to look him and his
children in the eyes? How disentangle himself from Missy? How
choose between the two opposites--the recognition that holding
land was unjust and the heritage from his mother? How atone for
his sin against Katusha? This last, at any rate, could not be
left as it was. He could not abandon a woman he had loved, and
satisfy himself by paying money to an advocate to save her from
hard labour in Siberia. She had not even deserved hard labour.
Atone for a fault by paying money? Had he not then, when he gave
her the money, thought he was atoning for his fault?
And he clearly recalled to mind that moment when, having caught
her up in the passage, he thrust the money into her bib and ran
away. "Oh, that money!" he thought with the same horror and
disgust he had then felt. "Oh, dear! oh, dear! how disgusting,"
he cried aloud as he had done then. "Only a scoundrel, a knave,
could do such a thing. And I am that knave, that scoundrel!" He
went on aloud: "But is it possible?"--he stopped and stood
still--"is it possible that I am really a scoundrel? . . .
Well, who but I?" he answered himself. "And then, is this the
only thing?" he went on, convicting himself. "Was not my conduct
towards Mary Vasilievna and her husband base and disgusting? And
my position with regard to money? To use riches considered by me
unlawful on the plea that they are inherited from my mother? And
the whole of my idle, detestable life? And my conduct towards
Katusha to crown all? Knave and scoundrel! Let men judge me as
they like, I can deceive them; but myself I cannot deceive."
And, suddenly, he understood that the aversion he had lately, and
particularly to-day, felt for everybody--the Prince and Sophia
Vasilievna and Corney and Missy--was an aversion for himself.
And, strange to say, in this acknowledgement of his baseness
there was something painful yet joyful and quieting.
More than once in Nekhludoff's life there had been what he called
a "cleansing of the soul." By "cleansing of the soul" he meant a
state of mind in which, after a long period of sluggish inner
life, a total cessation of its activity, he began to clear out
all the rubbish that had accumulated in his soul, and was the
cause of the cessation of the true life. His soul needed
cleansing as a watch does. After such an awakening Nekhludoff
always made some rules for himself which he meant to follow
forever after, wrote his diary, and began afresh a life which he
hoped never to change again. "Turning over a new leaf," he called
it to himself in English. But each time the temptations of the
world entrapped him, and without noticing it he fell again, often
lower than before.
Thus he had several times in his life raised and cleansed
himself. The first time this happened was during the summer he
spent with his aunts; that was his most vital and rapturous
awakening, and its effects had lasted some time. Another
awakening was when he gave up civil service and joined the army
at war time, ready to sacrifice his life. But here the choking-up
process was soon accomplished. Then an awakening came when he
left the army and went abroad, devoting himself to art.
From that time until this day a long period had elapsed without
any cleansing, and therefore the discord between the demands of
his conscience and the life he was leading was greater than it
had ever been before. He was horror-struck when he saw how great
the divergence was. It was so great and the defilement so
complete that he despaired of the possibility of getting
cleansed. "Have you not tried before to perfect yourself and
become better, and nothing has come of it?" whispered the voice
of the tempter within. "What is the use of trying any more? Are
you the only one?--All are alike, such is life," whispered the
voice. But the free spiritual being, which alone is true, alone
powerful, alone eternal, had already awakened in Nekhludoff, and
he could not but believe it. Enormous though the distance was
between what he wished to be and what he was, nothing appeared
insurmountable to the newly-awakened spiritual being.
"At any cost I will break this lie which binds me and confess
everything, and will tell everybody the truth, and act the truth,"
he said resolutely, aloud. "I shall tell Missy the truth, tell
her I am a profligate and cannot marry her, and have only
uselessly upset her. I shall tell Mary Vasilievna. . . Oh, there
is nothing to tell her. I shall tell her husband that I,
scoundrel that I am, have been deceiving him. I shall dispose of
the inheritance in such a way as to acknowledge the truth. I
shall tell her, Katusha, that I am a scoundrel and have sinned
towards her, and will do all I can to ease her lot. Yes, I will
see her, and will ask her to forgive me.
"Yes, I will beg her pardon, as children do." . . . He
stopped---"will marry her if necessary." He stopped again, folded
his hands in front of his breast as he used to do when a little
child, lifted his eyes, and said, addressing some one: "Lord,
help me, teach me, come enter within me and purify me of all this
He prayed, asking God to help him, to enter into him and cleanse
him; and what he was praying for had happened already: the God
within him had awakened his consciousness. He felt himself one
with Him, and therefore felt not only the freedom, fulness and
joy of life, but all the power of righteousness. All, all the
best that a man could do he felt capable of doing.
His eyes filled with tears as he was saying all this to himself,
good and bad tears: good because they were tears of joy at the
awakening of the spiritual being within him, the being which had
been asleep all these years; and bad tears because they were
tears of tenderness to himself at his own goodness.
He felt hot, and went to the window and opened it. The window
opened into a garden. It was a moonlit, quiet, fresh night; a
vehicle rattled past, and then all was still. The shadow of a
tall poplar fell on the ground just opposite the window, and all
the intricate pattern of its bare branches was clearly defined on
the clean swept gravel. To the left the roof of a coach-house
shone white in the moonlight, in front the black shadow of the
garden wall was visible through the tangled branches of the
Nekhludoff gazed at the roof, the moonlit garden, and the shadows
of the poplar, and drank in the fresh, invigorating air.
"How delightful, how delightful; oh, God, how delightful" he
said, meaning that which was going on in his soul.
MASLOVA IN PRISON.
Maslova reached her cell only at six in the evening, tired and
footsore, having, unaccustomed as she was to walking, gone 10
miles on the stony road that day. She was crushed by the
unexpectedly severe sentence and tormented by hunger. During the
first interval of her trial, when the soldiers were eating bread
and hard-boiled eggs in her presence, her mouth watered and she
realised she was hungry, but considered it beneath her dignity to
beg of them. Three hours later the desire to eat had passed, and
she felt only weak. It was then she received the unexpected
sentence. At first she thought she had made a mistake; she could
not imagine herself as a convict in Siberia, and could not
believe what she heard. But seeing the quiet, business-like faces
of judges and jury, who heard this news as if it were perfectly
natural and expected, she grew indignant, and proclaimed loudly
to the whole Court that she was not guilty. Finding that her cry
was also taken as something natural and expected, and feeling
incapable of altering matters, she was horror-struck and began to
weep in despair, knowing that she must submit to the cruel and
surprising injustice that had been done her. What astonished her
most was that young men--or, at any rate, not old men--the same
men who always looked so approvingly at her (one of them, the
public prosecutor, she had seen in quite a different humour) had
condemned her. While she was sitting in the prisoners' room
before the trial and during the intervals, she saw these men
looking in at the open door pretending they had to pass there on
some business, or enter the room and gaze on her with approval.
And then, for some unknown reason, these same men had condemned
her to hard labour, though she was innocent of the charge laid
against her. At first she cried, but then quieted down and sat
perfectly stunned in the prisoners' room, waiting to be led back.
She wanted only two things now--tobacco and strong drink. In this
state Botchkova and Kartinkin found her when they were led into
the same room after being sentenced. Botchkova began at once to
scold her, and call her a "convict."
"Well! What have you gained? justified yourself, have you? What
you have deserved, that you've got. Out in Siberia you'll give up
your finery, no fear!"
Maslova sat with her hands inside her sleeves, hanging her head
and looking in front of her at the dirty floor without moving,
only saying: "I don't bother you, so don't you bother me. I don't
bother you, do I?" she repeated this several times, and was
silent again. She did brighten up a little when Botchkova and
Kartinkin were led away and an attendant brought her three
"Are you Maslova?" he asked. "Here you are; a lady sent it you,"
he said, giving her the money.
"A lady--what lady?"
"You just take it. I'm not going to talk to you."
This money was sent by Kitaeva, the keeper of the house in which
she used to live. As she was leaving the court she turned to the
usher with the question whether she might give Maslova a little
money. The usher said she might. Having got permission, she
removed the three-buttoned Swedish kid glove from her plump,
white hand, and from an elegant purse brought from the back folds
of her silk skirt took a pile of coupons, [in Russia coupons cut
off interest-bearing papers are often used as money] just cut
off from the interest-bearing papers which she had earned in her
establishment, chose one worth 2 roubles and 50 copecks, added
two 20 and one 10-copeck coins, and gave all this to the usher.
The usher called an attendant, and in his presence gave the
"Belease to giff it accurately," said Carolina Albertovna
The attendant was hurt by her want of confidence, and that was
why he treated Maslova so brusquely. Maslova was glad of the
money, because it could give her the only thing she now desired.
"If I could but get cigarettes and take a whiff!" she said to
herself, and all her thoughts centred on the one desire to smoke
and drink. She longed for spirits so that she tasted them and
felt the strength they would give her; and she greedily breathed
in the air when the fumes of tobacco reached her from the door of
a room that opened into the corridor. But she had to wait long,
for the secretary, who should have given the order for her to go,
forgot about the prisoners while talking and even disputing with
one of the advocates about the article forbidden by the censor.
At last, about five o'clock, she was allowed to go, and was led
away through the back door by her escort, the Nijni man and the
Tchoovash. Then, still within the entrance to the Law Courts, she
gave them 50 copecks, asking them to get her two rolls and some
cigarettes. The Tchoovash laughed, took the money, and said, "All
right; I'll get 'em," and really got her the rolls and the
cigarettes and honestly returned the change. She was not allowed
to smoke on the way, and, with her craving unsatisfied, she
continued her way to the prison. When she was brought to the gate
of the prison, a hundred convicts who had arrived by rail were
being led in. The convicts, bearded, clean-shaven, old, young,
Russians, foreigners, some with their heads shaved and rattling
with the chains on their feet, filled the anteroom with dust,
noise and an acid smell of perspiration. Passing Maslova, all the
convicts looked at her, and some came up to her and brushed her
as they passed.
"Ay, here's a wench--a fine one," said one.
"My respects to you, miss," said another, winking at her. One
dark man with a moustache, the rest of his face and the back of
his head clean shaved, rattling with his chains and catching her
feet in them, sprang near and embraced her.
"What! don't you know your chum? Come, come; don't give yourself
airs," showing his teeth and his eyes glittering when she pushed
"You rascal! what are you up to?" shouted the inspector's
assistant, coming in from behind. The convict shrank back and
jumped away. The assistant assailed Maslova.
"What are you here for?"
Maslova was going to say she had been brought back from the Law
Courts, but she was so tired that she did not care to speak.
"She has returned from the Law Courts, sir," said one of the
soldiers, coming forward with his fingers lifted to his cap.
"Well, hand her over to the chief warder. I won't have this sort
"Sokoloff, take her in!" shouted the assistant inspector.
The chief warder came up, gave Maslova a slap on the shoulder,
and making a sign with his head for her to follow led her into
the corridor of the women's ward. There she was searched, and as
nothing prohibited was found on her (she had hidden her box of
cigarettes inside a roll) she was led to the cell she had left in
The cell in which Maslova was imprisoned was a large room 21 feet
long and 10 feet broad; it had two windows and a large stove.
Two-thirds of the space were taken up by shelves used as beds.
The planks they were made of had warped and shrunk. Opposite the
door hung a dark-coloured icon with a wax candle sticking to it
and a bunch of everlastings hanging down from it. By the door to
the right there was a dark spot on the floor on which stood a
stinking tub. The inspection had taken place and the women were
locked up for the night.
The occupants of this room were 15 persons, including three
children. It was still quite light. Only two of the women were
lying down: a consumptive woman imprisoned for theft, and an
idiot who spent most of her time in sleep and who was arrested
because she had no passport. The consumptive woman was not
asleep, but lay with wide open eyes, her cloak folded under her
head, trying to keep back the phlegm that irritated her throat,
and not to cough.
Some of the other women, most of whom had nothing on but coarse
brown holland chemises, stood looking out of the window at the
convicts down in the yard, and some sat sewing. Among the latter
was the old woman, Korableva, who had seen Maslova off in the
morning. She was a tall, strong, gloomy-looking woman; her fair
hair, which had begun to turn grey on the temples, hung down in a
short plait. She was sentenced to hard labour in Siberia because
she had killed her husband with an axe for making up to their
daughter. She was at the head of the women in the cell, and found
means of carrying on a trade in spirits with them. Beside her sat
another woman sewing a coarse canvas sack. This was the wife of a
railway watchman, [There are small watchmen's cottages at
distances of about one mile from each other along the Russian
railways, and the watchmen or their wives have to meet every
train.] imprisoned for three months because she did not come out
with the flags to meet a train that was passing, and an accident
had occurred. She was a short, snub-nosed woman, with small,
black eyes; kind and talkative. The third of the women who were
sewing was Theodosia, a quiet young girl, white and rosy, very
pretty, with bright child's eyes, and long fair plaits which she
wore twisted round her head. She was in prison for attempting to
poison her husband. She had done this immediately after her
wedding (she had been given in marriage without her consent at
the age of 16) because her husband would give her no peace. But
in the eight months during which she had been let out on bail,
she had not only made it up with her husband, but come to love
him, so that when her trial came they were heart and soul to one
another. Although her husband, her father-in-law, but especially
her mother-in-law, who had grown very fond of her, did all they
could to get her acquitted, she was sentenced to hard labour in
Siberia. The kind, merry, ever-smiling Theodosia had a place next
Maslova's on the shelf bed, and had grown so fond of her that she
took it upon herself as a duty to attend and wait on her. Two
other women were sitting without any work at the other end of the
shelf bedstead. One was a woman of about 40, with a pale, thin
face, who once probably had been very handsome. She sat with her
baby at her thin, white breast. The crime she had committed was
that when a recruit was, according to the peasants' view,
unlawfully taken from their village, and the people stopped the
police officer and took the recruit away from him, she (an aunt
of the lad unlawfully taken) was the first to catch hold of the
bridle of the horse on which he was being carried off. The other,
who sat doing nothing, was a kindly, grey-haired old woman,
hunchbacked and with a flat bosom. She sat behind the stove on
the bedshelf, and pretended to catch a fat four-year-old boy, who
ran backwards and forwards in front of her, laughing gaily. This
boy had only a little shirt on and his hair was cut short. As he
ran past the old woman he kept repeating, "There, haven't caught
me!" This old woman and her son were accused of incendiarism.
She bore her imprisonment with perfect cheerfulness, but was
concerned about her son, and chiefly about her "old man," who she
feared would get into a terrible state with no one to wash for
him. Besides these seven women, there were four standing at one
of the open windows, holding on to the iron bars. They were
making signs and shouting to the convicts whom Maslova had met
when returning to prison, and who were now passing through the
yard. One of these women was big and heavy, with a flabby body,
red hair, and freckled on her pale yellow face, her hands, and
her fat neck. She shouted something in a loud, raucous voice, and
laughed hoarsely. This woman was serving her term for theft.
Beside her stood an awkward, dark little woman, no bigger than a
child of ten, with a long waist and very short legs, a red,
blotchy face, thick lips which did not hide her long teeth, and
eyes too far apart. She broke by fits and starts into screeching
laughter at what was going on in the yard. She was to be tried
for stealing and incendiarism. They called her Khoroshavka.
Behind her, in a very dirty grey chemise, stood a thin,
miserable-looking pregnant woman, who was to be tried for
concealment of theft. This woman stood silent, but kept smiling
with pleasure and approval at what was going on below. With these
stood a peasant woman of medium height, the mother of the boy who
was playing with the old woman and of a seven-year-old girl.
These were in prison with her because she had no one to leave
them with. She was serving her term of imprisonment for illicit
sale of spirits. She stood a little further from the window
knitting a stocking, and though she listened to the other
prisoners' words she shook her head disapprovingly, frowned, and
closed her eyes. But her seven-year-old daughter stood in her
little chemise, her flaxen hair done up in a little pigtail, her
blue eyes fixed, and, holding the red-haired woman by the skirt,
attentively listened to the words of abuse that the women and the
convicts flung at each other, and repeated them softly, as if
learning them by heart. The twelfth prisoner, who paid no
attention to what was going on, was a very tall, stately girl,
the daughter of a deacon, who had drowned her baby in a well. She
went about with bare feet, wearing only a dirty chemise. The
thick, short plait of her fair hair had come undone and hung down
dishevelled, and she paced up and down the free space of the
cell, not looking at any one, turning abruptly every time she
came up to the wall.
When the padlock rattled and the door opened to let Maslova into
the cell, all turned towards her. Even the deacon's daughter
stopped for a moment and looked at her with lifted brows before
resuming her steady striding up and down.
Korableva stuck her needle into the brown sacking and looked
questioningly at Maslova through her spectacles. "Eh, eh, deary
me, so you have come back. And I felt sure they'd acquit you. So
you've got it?" She took off her spectacles and put her work down
beside her on the shelf bed.
"And here have I and the old lady been saying, 'Why, it may well
be they'll let her go free at once.' Why, it happens, ducky,
they'll even give you a heap of money sometimes, that's sure,"
the watchman's wife began, in her singing voice: "Yes, we were
wondering, 'Why's she so long?' And now just see what it is.
Well, our guessing was no use. The Lord willed otherwise," she
went on in musical tones.
"Is it possible? Have they sentenced you?" asked Theodosia, with
concern, looking at Maslova with her bright blue, child-like
eyes; and her merry young face changed as if she were going to
Maslova did not answer, but went on to her place, the second from
the end, and sat down beside Korableva.
"Have you eaten anything?" said Theodosia, rising and coming up
Maslova gave no reply, but putting the rolls on the bedstead,
took off her dusty cloak, the kerchief off her curly black head,
and began pulling off her shoes. The old woman who had been
playing with the boy came up and stood in front of Maslova. "Tz,
tz, tz," she clicked with her tongue, shaking her head pityingly.
The boy also came up with her, and, putting out his upper lip,
stared with wide open eyes at the roll Maslova had brought. When
Maslova saw the sympathetic faces of her fellow-prisoners, her
lips trembled and she felt inclined to cry, but she succeeded in
restraining herself until the old woman and the boy came up.
When she heard the kind, pitying clicking of the old woman's
tongue, and met the boy's serious eyes turned from the roll to
her face, she could bear it no longer; her face quivered and she
burst into sobs.
"Didn't I tell you to insist on having a proper advocate?" said
Norableva. "Well, what is it? Exile?"
Maslova could not answer, but took from inside the roll a box of
cigarettes, on which was a picture of a lady with hair done up
very high and dress cut low in front, and passed the box to
Korableva. Korableva looked at it and shook her head, chiefly
because see did not approve of Maslova's putting her money to
such bad use; but still she took out a cigarette, lit it at the
lamp, took a puff, and almost forced it into Maslova's hand.
Maslova, still crying, began greedily to inhale the tobacco
smoke. "Penal servitude," she muttered, blowing out the smoke and
"Don't they fear the Lord, the cursed soul-slayers?" muttered
Korableva, "sentencing the lass for nothing." At this moment the
sound of loud, coarse laughter came from the women who were still
at the window. The little girl also laughed, and her childish
treble mixed with the hoarse and screeching laughter of the
others. One of the convicts outside had done something that
produced this effect on the onlookers.
"Lawks! see the shaved hound, what he's doing," said the
red-haired woman, her whole fat body shaking with laughter; and
leaning against the grating she shouted meaning less obscene
"Ugh, the fat fright's cackling," said Korableva, who disliked
the red-haired woman. Then, turning to Maslova again, she asked:
"How many years?"
"Four," said Maslova, and the tears ran down her cheeks in such
profusion that one fell on the cigarette. Maslova crumpled it up
angrily and took another.
Though the watchman's wife did not smoke she picked up the
cigarette Maslova had thrown away and began straightening it out,
"There, now, ducky, so it's true," she said. "Truth's gone to the
dogs and they do what they please, and here we were guessing that
you'd go free. Norableva says, 'She'll go free.' I say, 'No,' say
I. 'No, dear, my heart tells me they'll give it her.' And so it's
turned out," she went on, evidently listening with pleasure to
her own voice.
The women who had been standing by the window now also came up to
Maslova, the convicts who had amused them having gone away. The
first to come up were the woman imprisoned for illicit trade in
spirits, and her little girl. "Why such a hard sentence?" asked
the woman, sitting down by Maslova and knitting fast.
"Why so hard? Because there's no money. That's why! Had there
been money, and had a good lawyer that's up to their tricks been
hired, they'd have acquitted her, no fear," said Korableva.
"There's what's-his-name--that hairy one with the long nose. He'd
bring you out clean from pitch, mum, he would. Ah, if we'd only
"Him, indeed," said Khoroshavka. "Why, he won't spit at you for
less than a thousand roubles."
"Seems you've been born under an unlucky star," interrupted the
old woman who was imprisoned for incendiarism. "Only think, to
entice the lad's wife and lock him himself up to feed vermin, and
me, too, in my old days--" she began to retell her story for the
hundredth time. "If it isn't the beggar's staff it's the prison.
Yes, the beggar's staff and the prison don't wait for an
"Ah, it seems that's the way with all of them," said the spirit
trader; and after looking at her little girl she put down her
knitting, and, drawing the child between her knees, began to
search her head with deft fingers. "Why do you sell spirits?" she
went on. "Why? but what's one to feed the children on?"
These words brought back to Maslova's mind her craving for drink.
"A little vodka," she said to Korableva, wiping the tears with
her sleeve and sobbing less frequently.
"All right, fork out," said Korableva.
A PRISON QUARREL.
Maslova got the money, which she had also hidden in a roll, and
passed the coupon to Korableva. Korableva accepted it, though she
could not read, trusting to Khoroshavka, who knew everything, and
who said that the slip of paper was worth 2 roubles 50 copecks,
then climbed up to the ventilator, where she had hidden a small
flask of vodka. Seeing this, the women whose places were further
off went away. Meanwhile Maslova shook the dust out of her cloak
and kerchief, got up on the bedstead, and began eating a roll.
"I kept your tea for you," said Theodosia, getting down from the
shelf a mug and a tin teapot wrapped in a rag, "but I'm afraid it
is quite cold." The liquid was quite cold and tasted more of tin
than of tea, yet Maslova filled the mug and began drinking it
with her roll. "Finashka, here you are," she said, breaking off a
bit of the roll and giving it to the boy, who stood looking at
Meanwhile Korableva handed the flask of vodka and a mug to
Maslova, who offered some to her and to Khoroshavka. These
prisoners were considered the aristocracy of the cell because
they had some money, and shared what they possessed with the
In a few moments Maslova brightened up and related merrily what
had happened at the court, and what had struck her most, i.e.,
how all the men had followed her wherever she went. In the court
they all looked at her, she said, and kept coming into the
prisoners' room while she was there.
"One of the soldiers even says, 'It's all to look at you that
they come.' One would come in, 'Where is such a paper?' or
something, but I see it is not the paper he wants; he just
devours me with his eyes," she said, shaking her head. "Regular
"Yes, that's so," said the watchman's wife, and ran on in her
musical strain, "they're like flies after sugar."
"And here, too," Maslova interrupted her, "the same thing. They
can do without anything else. But the likes of them will go
without bread sooner than miss that! Hardly had they brought me
back when in comes a gang from the railway. They pestered me so,
I did not know how to rid myself of them. Thanks to the
assistant, he turned them off. One bothered so, I hardly got
"What's he like?" asked Khoroshevka.
"Dark, with moustaches."
"It must be him."
"Why, Schegloff; him as has just gone by."
"What's he, this Schegloff?"
"What, she don't know Schegloff? Why, he ran twice from Siberia.
Now they've got him, but he'll run away. The warders themselves
are afraid of him," said Khoroshavka, who managed to exchange
notes with the male prisoners and knew all that went on in the
prison. "He'll run away, that's flat."
"If he does go away you and I'll have to stay," said Korableva,
turning to Maslova, "but you'd better tell us now what the
advocate says about petitioning. Now's the time to hand it in."
Maslova answered that she knew nothing about it.
At that moment the red-haired woman came up to the "aristocracy"
with both freckled hands in her thick hair, scratching her head
with her nails.
"I'll tell you all about it, Katerina," she began. "First and
foremost, you'll have to write down you're dissatisfied with the
sentence, then give notice to the Procureur."
"What do you want here?" said Korableva angrily; "smell the
vodka, do you? Your chatter's not wanted. We know what to do
without your advice."
"No one's speaking to you; what do you stick your nose in for?"
"It's vodka you want; that's why you come wriggling yourself in
"Well, offer her some," said Maslova, always ready to share
anything she possessed with anybody.
"I'll offer her something."
"Come on then," said the red-haired one, advancing towards
Korableva. "Ah! think I'm afraid of such as you?"
"That's her as says it."
"I? A slut? Convict! Murderess!" screamed the red-haired one.
"Go away, I tell you," said Korableva gloomily, but the
red-haired one came nearer and Korableva struck her in the chest.
The red-haired woman seemed only to have waited for this, and
with a sudden movement caught hold of Korableva's hair with one
hand and with the other struck her in the face. Korableva seized
this hand, and Maslova and Khoroshavka caught the red-haired
woman by her arms, trying to pull her away, but she let go the
old woman's hair with her hand only to twist it round her fist.
Korableva, with her head bent to one side, was dealing out blows
with one arm and trying to catch the red-haired woman's hand with
her teeth, while the rest of the women crowded round, screaming
and trying to separate the fighters; even the consumptive one
came up and stood coughing and watching the fight. The children
cried and huddled together. The noise brought the woman warder
and a jailer. The fighting women were separated; and Korableva,
taking out the bits of torn hair from her head, and the
red-haired one, holding her torn chemise together over her yellow
breast, began loudly to complain.
"I know, it's all the vodka. Wait a bit; I'll tell the inspector
tomorrow. He'll give it you. Can't I smell it? Mind, get it all
out of the way, or it will be the worse for you," said the
warder. "We've no time to settle your disputes. Get to your
places and be quiet."
But quiet was not soon re-established. For a long time the women
went on disputing and explaining to one another whose fault it
all was. At last the warder and the jailer left the cell, the
women grew quieter and began going to bed, and the old woman went
to the icon and commenced praying.
"The two jailbirds have met," the red-haired woman suddenly
called out in a hoarse voice from the other end of the shelf
beds, accompanying every word with frightfully vile abuse.
"Mind you don't get it again," Korableva replied, also adding
words of abuse, and both were quiet again.
"Had I not been stopped I'd have pulled your damned eyes out,"
again began the red-haired one, and an answer of the same kind
followed from Korableva. Then again a short interval and more
abuse. But the intervals became longer and longer, as when a
thunder-cloud is passing, and at last all was quiet.
All were in bed, some began to snore; and only the old woman, who
always prayed a long time, went on bowing before the icon and the
deacon's daughter, who had got up after the warder left, was
pacing up and down the room again. Maslova kept thinking that she
was now a convict condemned to hard labour, and had twice been
reminded of this--once by Botchkova and once by the red-haired
woman--and she could not reconcile herself to the thought.
Korableva, who lay next to her, turned over in her bed.
"There now," said Maslova in a low voice; "who would have thought
it? See what others do and get nothing for it."
"Never mind, girl. People manage to live in Siberia. As for you,
you'll not be lost there either," Korableva said, trying to
"I know I'll not be lost; still it is hard. It's not such a fate
I want--I, who am used to a comfortable life."
"Ah, one can't go against God," said Korableva, with a sigh.
"One can't, my dear."
"I know, granny. Still, it's hard."
They were silent for a while.
"Do you hear that baggage?" whispered Korableva, drawing
Maslova's attention to a strange sound proceeding from the other
end of the room.
This sound was the smothered sobbing of the red-haired woman. The
red-haired woman was crying because she had been abused and had
not got any of the vodka she wanted so badly; also because she
remembered how all her life she had been abused, mocked at,
offended, beaten. Remembering this, she pitied herself, and,
thinking no one heard her, began crying as children cry, sniffing
with her nose and swallowing the salt tears.
"I'm sorry for her," said Maslova.
"Of course one is sorry," said Korableva, "but she shouldn't come
THE LEAVEN AT WORK--NEKHLUDOFF'S DOMESTIC CHANGES.
The next morning Nekhludoff awoke, conscious that something had
happened to him, and even before he had remembered what it was he
knew it to be something important and good.
"Katusha--the trial!" Yes, he must stop lying and tell the whole
By a strange coincidence on that very morning he received the
long-expected letter from Mary Vasilievna, the wife of the
Marechal de Noblesse, the very letter he particularly needed.
She gave him full freedom, and wished him happiness in his
"Marriage!" he repeated with irony. "How far I am from all that
And he remembered the plans he had formed the day before, to tell
the husband everything, to make a clean breast of it, and express
his readiness to give him any kind of satisfaction. But this
morning this did not seem so easy as the day before. And, then,
also, why make a man unhappy by telling him what he does not
know? Yes, if he came and asked, he would tell him all, but to go
purposely and tell--no! that was unnecessary.
And telling the whole truth to Missy seemed just as difficult
this morning. Again, he could not begin to speak without offence.
As in many worldly affairs, something had to remain unexpressed.
Only one thing he decided on, i.e., not to visit there, and to
tell the truth if asked.
But in connection with Katusha, nothing was to remain unspoken.
"I shall go to the prison and shall tell her every thing, and ask
her to forgive me. And if need be--yes, if need be, I shall marry
her," he thought.
This idea, that he was ready to sacrifice all on moral grounds,
and marry her, again made him feel very tender towards himself.
Concerning money matters he resolved this morning to arrange them
in accord with his conviction, that the holding of landed
property was unlawful. Even if he should not be strong enough to
give up everything, he would still do what he could, not
deceiving himself or others.
It was long since he had met the coming day with so much energy.
When Agraphena Petrovna came in, he told her, with more firmness
than he thought himself capable of, that he no longer needed this
lodging nor her services. There had been a tacit understanding
that he was keeping up so large and expensive an establishment
because he was thinking of getting married. The giving up of the
house had, therefore, a special meaning. Agraphena Petrovna
looked at him in surprise.
"I thank you very much, Agraphena Petrovna, for all your care for
me, but I no longer require so large a house nor so many
servants. If you wish to help me, be so good as to settle about
the things, put them away as it used to be done during mamma's
life, and when Natasha comes she will see to everything." Natasha
was Nekhludoff's sister.
Agraphena Petrovna shook her head. "See about the things? Why,
they'll be required again," she said.
"No, they won't, Agraphena Petrovna; I assure you they won't be
required," said Nekhludoff, in answer to what the shaking of her
head had expressed. "Please tell Corney also that I shall pay him
two months' wages, but shall have no further need of him."
"It is a pity, Dmitri Ivanovitch, that you should think of doing
this," she said. "Well, supposing you go abroad, still you'll
require a place of residence again."
"You are mistaken in your thoughts, Agraphena Petrovna; I am not
going abroad. If I go on a journey, it will be to quite a
different place." He suddenly blushed very red. "Yes, I must tell
her," he thought; "no hiding; everybody must be told."
"A very strange and important thing happened to me yesterday. Do
you remember my Aunt Mary Ivanovna's Katusha?"
"Oh, yes. Why, I taught her how to sew."
"Well, this Katusha was tried in the Court and I was on the
"Oh, Lord! What a pity!" cried Agraphena Petrovna. "What was she
being tried for?"
"Murder; and it is I have done it all."
"Well, now this is very strange; how could you do it all?"
"Yes, I am the cause of it all; and it is this that has altered
all my plans."
"What difference can it make to you?"
"This difference: that I, being the cause of her getting on to
that path, must do all I can to help her."
"That is just according to your own good pleasure; you are not
particularly in fault there. It happens to every one, and if
one's reasonable, it all gets smoothed over and forgotten," she
said, seriously and severely. "Why should you place it to your
account? There's no need. I had already heard before that she had
strayed from the right path. Well, whose fault is it?"
"Mine! that's why I want to put it right."
"It is hard to put right."
"That is my business. But if you are thinking about yourself,
then I will tell you that, as mamma expressed the wish--"
"I am not thinking about myself. I have been so bountifully
treated by the dear defunct, that I desire nothing. Lisenka" (her
married niece) "has been inviting me, and I shall go to her when
I am not wanted any longer. Only it is a pity you should take
this so to heart; it happens to everybody."
"Well, I do not think so. And I still beg that you will help me
let this lodging and put away the things. And please do not be
angry with me. I am very, very grateful to you for all you have
And, strangely, from the moment Nekhludoff realised that it was
he who was so bad and disgusting to himself, others were no
longer disgusting to him; on the contrary, he felt a kindly
respect for Agraphena Petrovna, and for Corney.
He would have liked to go and confess to Corney also, but
Corney's manner was so insinuatingly deferential that he had not
the resolution to do it.
On the way to the Law Courts, passing along the same streets with
the same isvostchik as the day before, he was surprised what a
different being he felt himself to be. The marriage with Missy,
which only yesterday seemed so probable, appeared quite
impossible now. The day before he felt it was for him to choose,
and had no doubts that she would be happy to marry him; to-day he
felt himself unworthy not only of marrying, but even of being
intimate with her. "If she only knew what I am, nothing would
induce her to receive me. And only yesterday I was finding fault
with her because she flirted with N---. Anyhow, even if she
consented to marry me, could I be, I won't say happy, but at
peace, knowing that the other was here in prison, and would
to-day or to-morrow he taken to Siberia with a gang of other
prisoners, while I accepted congratulations and made calls with
my young wife; or while I count the votes at the meetings, for
and against the motion brought forward by the rural inspection,
etc., together with the Marechal de Noblesse, whom I abominably
deceive, and afterwards make appointments with his wife (how
abominable!) or while I continue to work at my picture, which
will certainly never get finished? Besides, I have no business to
waste time on such things. I can do nothing of the kind now," he
continued to himself, rejoicing at the change he felt within
himself. "The first thing now is to see the advocate and find out
his decision, and then . . . then go and see her and tell her
And when he pictured to himself how he would see her, and tell
her all, confess his sin to her, and tell her that he would do
all in his power to atone for his sin, he was touched at his own
goodness, and the tears came to his eyes.
THE ABSURDITY OF LAW--REFLECTIONS OF A JURYMAN.
On coming into the Law Courts Nekhludoff met the usher of
yesterday, who to-day seemed to him much to be pitied, in the
corridor, and asked him where those prisoners who had been
sentenced were kept, and to whom one had to apply for permission
to visit them. The usher told him that the condemned prisoners
were kept in different places, and that, until they received
their sentence in its final form, the permission to visit them
depended on the president. "I'll come and call you myself, and
take you to the president after the session. The president is not
even here at present. After the session! And now please come in;
we are going to commence."
Nekhludoff thanked the usher for his kindness, and went into the
jurymen's room. As he was approaching the room, the other jurymen
were just leaving it to go into the court. The merchant had again
partaken of a little refreshment, and was as merry as the day
before, and greeted Nekhludoff like an old friend. And to-day
Peter Gerasimovitch did not arouse any unpleasant feelings in
Nekhludoff by his familiarity and his loud laughter. Nekhludoff
would have liked to tell all the jurymen about his relations to
yesterday's prisoner. "By rights," he thought, "I ought to have
got up yesterday during the trial and disclosed my guilt."
He entered the court with the other jurymen, and witnessed the
same procedure as the day before.
"The judges are coming," was again proclaimed, and again three
men, with embroidered collars, ascended the platform, and there
was the same settling of the jury on the high-backed chairs, the
same gendarmes, the same portraits, the same priest, and
Nekhludoff felt that, though he knew what he ought to do, he
could not interrupt all this solemnity. The preparations for the
trials were just the same as the day before, excepting that the
swearing in of the jury and the president's address to them were
The case before the Court this day was one of burglary. The
prisoner, guarded by two gendarmes with naked swords, was a thin,
narrow-chested lad of 20, with a bloodless, sallow face, dressed
in a grey cloak. He sat alone in the prisoner's dock. This boy
was accused of having, together with a companion, broken the lock
of a shed and stolen several old mats valued at 3 roubles [the
rouble is worth a little over two shillings, and contains 100
copecks] and 67 copecks. According to the indictment, a
policeman had stopped this boy as he was passing with his
companion, who was carrying the mats on his shoulder. The boy and
his companion confessed at once, and were both imprisoned. The
boy's companion, a locksmith, died in prison, and so the boy was
being tried alone. The old mats were lying on the table as the
objects of material evidence. The business was conducted just in
the same manner as the day before, with the whole armoury of
evidence, proofs, witnesses, swearing in, questions, experts, and
cross-examinations. In answer to every question put to him by the
president, the prosecutor, or the advocate, the policeman (one of
the witnesses) in variably ejected the words: "just so," or
"Can't tell." Yet, in spite of his being stupefied, and rendered
a mere machine by military discipline, his reluctance to speak
about the arrest of this prisoner was evident. Another witness,
an old house proprietor, and owner of the mats, evidently a rich
old man, when asked whether the mats were his, reluctantly
identified them as such. When the public prosecutor asked him
what he meant to do with these mats, what use they were to him,
he got angry, and answered: "The devil take those mats; I don't
want them at all. Had I known there would be all this bother
about them I should not have gone looking for them, but would
rather have added a ten-rouble note or two to them, only not to
be dragged here and pestered with questions. I have spent a lot
on isvostchiks. Besides, I am not well. I have been suffering
from rheumatism for the last seven years." It was thus the
The accused himself confessed everything, and looking round
stupidly, like an animal that is caught, related how it had all
happened. Still the public prosecutor, drawing up his shoulders
as he had done the day before, asked subtle questions calculated
to catch a cunning criminal.
In his speech he proved that the theft had been committed from a
dwelling-place, and a lock had been broken; and that the boy,
therefore, deserved a heavy punishment. The advocate appointed by
the Court proved that the theft was not committed from a
dwelling-place, and that, though the crime was a serious one, the
prisoner was not so very dangerous to society as the prosecutor
stated. The president assumed the role of absolute neutrality in
the same way as he had done on the previous day, and impressed on
the jury facts which they all knew and could not help knowing.
Then came an interval, just as the day before, and they smoked;
and again the usher called out "The judges are coming," and in
the same way the two gendarmes sat trying to keep awake and
threatening the prisoner with their naked weapons.
The proceedings showed that this boy was apprenticed by his
father at a tobacco factory, where he remained five years. This
year he had been discharged by the owner after a strike, and,
having lost his place, he wandered about the town without any
work, drinking all he possessed. In a traktir [cheap restaurant]
he met another like himself, who had lost his place before the
prisoner had, a locksmith by trade and a drunkard. One night,
those two, both drunk, broke the lock of a shed and took the
first thing they happened to lay hands on. They confessed all and
were put in prison, where the locksmith died while awaiting the
trial. The boy was now being tried as a dangerous creature, from
whom society must be protected.
"Just as dangerous a creature as yesterday's culprit," thought
Nekhludoff, listening to all that was going on before him. "They
are dangerous, and we who judge them? I, a rake, an adulterer, a
deceiver. We are not dangerous. But, even supposing that this boy
is the most dangerous of all that are here in the court, what
should he done from a common-sense point of view when he has
been caught? It is clear that he is not an exceptional evil-doer,
but a most ordinary boy; every one sees it--and that he has
become what he is simply because he got into circumstances that
create such characters, and, therefore, to prevent such a boy
from going wrong the circumstances that create these unfortunate
beings must be done away with.
"But what do we do? We seize one such lad who happens to get
caught, knowing well that there are thousands like him whom we
have not caught, and send him to prison, where idleness, or most
unwholesome, useless labour is forced on him, in company of
others weakened and ensnared by the lives they have led. And then
we send him, at the public expense, from the Moscow to the
Irkoutsk Government, in company with the most depraved of men.
"But we do nothing to destroy the conditions in which people like
these are produced; on the contrary, we support the
establishments where they are formed. These establishments are
well known: factories, mills, workshops, public-houses,
gin-shops, brothels. And we do not destroy these places, but,
looking at them as necessary, we support and regulate them. We
educate in this way not one, but millions of people, and then
catch one of them and imagine that we have done something, that
we have guarded ourselves, and nothing more can be expected of
us. Have we not sent him from the Moscow to the Irkoutsk
Government?" Thus thought Nekhludoff with unusual clearness and
vividness, sitting in his high-backed chair next to the colonel,
and listening to the different intonations of the advocates',
prosecutor's, and president's voices, and looking at their
self-confident gestures. "And how much and what hard effort this
pretence requires," continued Nekhludoff in his mind, glancing
round the enormous room, the portraits, lamps, armchairs,
uniforms, the thick walls and large windows; and picturing to
himself the tremendous size of the building, and the still more
ponderous dimensions of the whole of this organisation, with its
army of officials, scribes, watchmen, messengers, not only in
this place, but all over Russia, who receive wages for carrying
on this comedy which no one needs. "Supposing we spent
one-hundredth of these efforts helping these castaways, whom we
now only regard as hands and bodies, required by us for our own
peace and comfort. Had some one chanced to take pity on him and
given some help at the time when poverty made them send him to
town, it might have been sufficient," Nekhludoff thought, looking
at the boy's piteous face. "Or even later, when, after 12 hours'
work at the factory, he was going to the public-house, led away
by his companions, had some one then come and said, 'Don't go,
Vania; it is not right,' he would not have gone, nor got into bad
ways, and would not have done any wrong.
"But no; no one who would have taken pity on him came across this
apprentice in the years he lived like a poor little animal in the
town, and with his hair cut close so as not to breed vermin, and
ran errands for the workmen. No, all he heard and saw, from the
older workmen and his companions, since he came to live in town,
was that he who cheats, drinks, swears, who gives another a
thrashing, who goes on the loose, is a fine fellow. Ill, his
constitution undermined by unhealthy labour, drink, and
debauchery--bewildered as in a dream, knocking aimlessly about
town, he gets into some sort of a shed, and takes from there some
old mats, which nobody needs--and here we, all of us educated
people, rich or comfortably off, meet together, dressed in good
clothes and fine uniforms, in a splendid apartment, to mock this
unfortunate brother of ours whom we ourselves have ruined.
"Terrible! It is difficult to say whether the cruelty or the
absurdity is greater, but the one and the other seem to reach
Nekhludoff thought all this, no longer listening to what was
going on, and he was horror-struck by that which was being
revealed to him. He could not understand why he had not been able
to see all this before, and why others were unable to see it.
THE PROCUREUR--NEKHLUDOFF REFUSES TO SERVE.
During an interval Nekhludoff got up and went out into the
corridor, with the intention of not returning to the court. Let
them do what they liked with him, he could take no more part in
this awful and horrid tomfoolery.
Having inquired where the Procureur's cabinet was he went
straight to him. The attendant did not wish to let him in, saying
that the Procureur was busy, but Nekhludoff paid no heed and went
to the door, where he was met by an official. He asked to be
announced to the Procureur, saying he was on the jury and had a
very important communication to make.
His title and good clothes were of assistance to him. The
official announced him to the Procureur, and Nekhludoff was let
in. The Procureur met him standing, evidently annoyed at the
persistence with which Nekhludoff demanded admittance.
"What is it you want?" the Procureur asked, severely.
"I am on the jury; my name is Nekhludoff, and it is absolutely
necessary for me to see the prisoner Maslova," Nekhludoff said,
quickly and resolutely, blushing, and feeling that he was taking
a step which would have a decisive influence on his life.
The Procureur was a short, dark man, with short, grizzly hair,
quick, sparkling eyes, and a thick beard cut close on his
projecting lower jaw.
"Maslova? Yes, of course, I know. She was accused of poisoning,"
the Procureur said, quietly. "But why do you want to see her?"
And then, as if wishing to tone down his question, he added, "I
cannot give you the permission without knowing why you require
"I require it for a particularly important reason."
"Yes?" said the Procureur, and, lifting his eyes, looked
attentively at Nekhludoff. "Has her case been heard or not?"
"She was tried yesterday, and unjustly sentenced; she is
"Yes? If she was sentenced only yesterday," went on the
Procureur, paying no attention to Nekhludoff's statement
concerning Maslova's innocence, "she must still he in the
preliminary detention prison until the sentence is delivered in
its final form. Visiting is allowed there only on certain days; I
should advise you to inquire there."
"But I must see her as soon as possible," Nekhludoff said, his
jaw trembling as he felt the decisive moment approaching.
"Why must you?" said the Procureur, lifting his brows with some
"Because I betrayed her and brought her to the condition which
exposed her to this accusation."
"All the same, I cannot see what it has to do with visiting her."
"This: that whether I succeed or not in getting the sentence
changed I want to follow her, and--marry her," said Nekhludoff,
touched to tears by his own conduct, and at the same time pleased
to see the effect he produced on the Procureur.
"Really! Dear me!" said the Procureur. "This is certainly a very
exceptional case. I believe you are a member of the Krasnoporsk
rural administration?" he asked, as if he remembered having heard
before of this Nekhludoff, who was now making so strange a
"I beg your pardon, but I do not think that has anything to do
with my request," answered Nekhludoff, flushing angrily.
"Certainly not," said the Procureur, with a scarcely perceptible
smile and not in the least abashed; "only your wish is so
extraordinary and so out of the common."
"Well; but can I get the permission?"
"The permission? Yes, I will give you an order of admittance
directly. Take a seat."
He went up to the table, sat down, and began to write. "Please
Nekhludoff continued to stand.
Having written an order of admittance, and handed it to
Nekhludoff, the Procureur looked curiously at him.
"I must also state that I can no longer take part in the
"Then you will have to lay valid reasons before the Court, as
you, of course, know."
"My reasons are that I consider all judging not only useless, but
"Yes," said the Procureur, with the same scarcely perceptible
smile, as if to show that this kind of declaration was well known
to him and belonged to the amusing sort. "Yes, but you will
certainly understand that I as Procureur, can not agree with you
on this point. Therefore, I should advise you to apply to the
Court, which will consider your declaration, and find it valid or
not valid, and in the latter case will impose a fine. Apply,
then, to the Court."
"I have made my declaration, and shall apply nowhere else,"
Nekhludoff said, angrily.
"Well, then, good-afternoon," said the Procureur, bowing his
head, evidently anxious to be rid of this strange visitor.
"Who was that you had here?" asked one of the members of the
Court, as he entered, just after Nekhludoff left the room.
"Nekhludoff, you know; the same that used to make all sorts of
strange statements at the Krasnoporsk rural meetings. Just fancy!
He is on the jury, and among the prisoners there is a woman or
girl sentenced to penal servitude, whom he says he betrayed, and
now he wants to marry her."
"You don't mean to say so."
"That's what he told me. And in such a strange state of
"There is something abnormal in the young men of to-day."
"Oh, but he is not so very young."
"Yes. But how tiresome your famous Ivoshenka was. He carries the
day by wearying one out. He talked and talked without end."
"Oh, that kind of people should be simply stopped, or they will
become real obstructionists."
NEKHLUDOFF ENDEAVOURS TO VISIT MASLOVA.
From the Procureur Nekhludoff went straight to the preliminary
detention prison. However, no Maslova was to be found there, and
the inspector explained to Nekhludoff that she would probably be
in the old temporary prison. Nekhludoff went there.
Yes, Katerina Maslova was there.
The distance between the two prisons was enormous, and Nekhludoff
only reached the old prison towards evening. He was going up to
the door of the large, gloomy building, but the sentinel stopped
him and rang. A warder came in answer to the bell. Nekhludoff
showed him his order of admittance, but the warder said he could
not let him in without the inspector's permission. Nekhludoff
went to see the inspector. As he was going up the stairs he heard
distant sounds of some complicated bravura, played on the piano.
When a cross servant girl, with a bandaged eye, opened the door
to him, those sounds seemed to escape from the room and to strike
his car. It was a rhapsody of Liszt's, that everybody was tired
of, splendidly played but only to one point. When that point was
reached the same thing was repeated. Nekhludoff asked the
bandaged maid whether the inspector was in. She answered that he
was not in.
"Will he return soon?"
The rhapsody again stopped and recommenced loudly and brilliantly
again up to the same charmed point.
"I will go and ask," and the servant went away.
"Tell him he is not in and won't be to-day; he is out visiting.
What do they come bothering for?" came the sound of a woman's
voice from behind the door, and again the rhapsody rattled on and
stopped, and the sound of a chair pushed back was heard. It was
plain the irritated pianist meant to rebuke the tiresome visitor,
who had come at an untimely hour. "Papa is not in," a pale girl
with crimped hair said, crossly, coming out into the ante-room,
but, seeing a young man in a good coat, she softened.
"Come in, please. . . . What is it you want?"
"I want to see a prisoner in this prison."
"A political one, I suppose?"
"No, not a political one. I have a permission from the
"Well, I don't know, and papa is out; but come in, please," she
said, again, "or else speak to the assistant. He is in the office
at present; apply there. What is your name?"
"I thank you," said Nekhludoff, without answering her question,
and went out.
The door was not yet closed after him when the same lively tones
recommenced. In the courtyard Nekhludoff met an officer with
bristly moustaches, and asked for the assistant-inspector. It was
the assistant himself. He looked at the order of admittance, but
said that he could not decide to let him in with a pass for the
preliminary prison. Besides, it was too late. "Please to come
again to-morrow. To morrow, at 10, everybody is allowed to go in.
Come then, and the inspector himself will be at home. Then you
can have the interview either in the common room or, if the
inspector allows it, in the office."
And so Nekhludoff did not succeed in getting an interview that
day, and returned home. As he went along the streets, excited at
the idea of meeting her, he no longer thought about the Law
Courts, but recalled his conversations with the Procureur and the
inspector's assistant. The fact that he had been seeking an
interview with her, and had told the Procureur, and had been in
two prisons, so excited him that it was long before he could calm
down. When he got home he at once fetched out his diary, that had
long remained untouched, read a few sentences out of it, and then
wrote as follows:
"For two years I have not written anything in my diary, and
thought I never should return to this childishness. Yet it is not
childishness, but converse with my own self, with this real
divine self which lives in every man. All this time that I slept
there was no one for me to converse with. I was awakened by an
extraordinary event on the 28th of April, in the Law Court, when
I was on the jury. I saw her in the prisoners' dock, the Katusha
betrayed by me, in a prisoner's cloak, condemned to penal
servitude through a strange mistake, and my own fault. I have
just been to the Procureur's and to the prison, but I was not
admitted. I have resolved to do all I can to see her, to confess
to her, and to atone for my sin, even by a marriage. God help me.
My soul is at peace and I am full of joy."
MASLOVA RECALLS THE PAST.
That night Maslova lay awake a long time with her eyes open
looking at the door, in front of which the deacon's daughter kept
passing. She was thinking that nothing would induce her to go to
the island of Sakhalin and marry a convict, but would arrange
matters somehow with one of the prison officials, the secretary,
a warder, or even a warder's assistant. "Aren't they all given
that way? Only I must not get thin, or else I am lost."
She thought of how the advocate had looked at her, and also the
president, and of the men she met, and those who came in on
purpose at the court. She recollected how her companion, Bertha,
who came to see her in prison, had told her about the student
whom she had "loved" while she was with Kitaeva, and who had
inquired about her, and pitied her very much. She recalled many
to mind, only not Nekhludoff. She never brought back to mind the
days of her childhood and youth, and her love to Nekhludoff.
That would have been too painful. These memories lay untouched
somewhere deep in her soul; she had forgotten him, and never
recalled and never even dreamt of him. To-day, in the court, she
did not recognise him, not only because when she last saw him he
was in uniform, without a beard, and had only a small moustache
and thick, curly, though short hair, and now was bald and
bearded, but because she never thought about him. She had buried
his memory on that terrible dark night when he, returning from
the army, had passed by on the railway without stopping to call
on his aunts. Katusha then knew her condition. Up to that night
she did not consider the child that lay beneath her heart a
burden. But on that night everything changed, and the child
became nothing but a weight.
His aunts had expected Nekhludoff, had asked him to come and see
them in passing, but he had telegraphed that he could not come,
as he had to be in Petersburg at an appointed time. When Katusha
heard this she made up her mind to go to the station and see him.
The train was to pass by at two o'clock in the night. Katusha
having helped the old ladies to bed, and persuaded a little girl,
the cook's daughter, Mashka, to come with her, put on a pair of
old boots, threw a shawl over her head, gathered up her dress,
and ran to the station.
It was a warm, rainy, and windy autumn night. The rain now pelted
down in warm, heavy drops, now stopped again. It was too dark to
see the path across the field, and in the wood it was pitch
black, so that although Katusha knew the way well, she got off
the path, and got to the little station where the train stopped
for three minutes, not before, as she had hoped, but after the
second bell had been rung. Hurrying up the platform, Katusha saw
him at once at the windows of a first-class carriage. Two
officers sat opposite each other on the velvet-covered seats,
playing cards. This carriage was very brightly lit up; on the
little table between the seats stood two thick, dripping candles.
He sat in his closefitting breeches on the arm of the seat,
leaning against the back, and laughed. As soon as she recognised
him she knocked at the carriage window with her benumbed hand,
but at that moment the last bell rang, and the train first gave a
backward jerk, and then gradually the carriages began to move
forward. One of the players rose with the cards in his hand, and
looked out. She knocked again, and pressed her face to the
window, but the carriage moved on, and she went alongside looking
in. The officer tried to lower the window, but could not.
Nekhludoff pushed him aside and began lowering it himself. The
train went faster, so that she had to walk quickly. The train
went on still faster and the window opened. The guard pushed her
aside, and jumped in. Katusha ran on, along the wet boards of the
platform, and when she came to the end she could hardly stop
herself from falling as she ran down the steps of the platform.
She was running by the side of the railway, though the
first-class carriage had long passed her, and the second-class
carriages were gliding by faster, and at last the third-class
carriages still faster. But she ran on, and when the last
carriage with the lamps at the back had gone by, she had already
reached the tank which fed the engines, and was unsheltered from
the wind, which was blowing her shawl about and making her skirt
cling round her legs. The shawl flew off her head, but still she
"Katerina Michaelovna, you've lost your shawl!" screamed the
little girl, who was trying to keep up with her.
Katusha stopped, threw back her head, and catching hold of it
with both hands sobbed aloud. "Gone!" she screamed.
"He is sitting in a velvet arm-chair and joking and drinking, in
a brightly lit carriage, and I, out here in the mud, in the
darkness, in the wind and the rain, am standing and weeping," she
thought to herself; and sat down on the ground, sobbing so loud
that the little girl got frightened, and put her arms round her,
wet as she was.
"Come home, dear," she said.
"When a train passes--then under a carriage, and there will be an
end," Katusha was thinking, without heeding the girl.
And she made up her mind to do it, when, as it always happens,
when a moment of quiet follows great excitement, he, the
child--his child--made himself known within her. Suddenly all
that a moment before had been tormenting her, so that it had
seemed impossible to live, all her bitterness towards him, and
the wish to revenge herself, even by dying, passed away; she grew
Back to Full Books