Part 7 out of 11
Mariette had a large hat on, with feathers, a black dress and
cape, and new black gloves. Her face was covered by a veil.
When she saw Nekhludoff she lifted the veil off a very pretty
face with bright eyes that looked inquiringly at him.
"Ah, Prince Dmitri Ivanovitch Nekhludoff," she said, with a soft,
pleasant voice. "I should have known--"
"What! you even remember my name?"
"I should think so. Why, I and my sisters have even been in love
with you," she said, in French. "But, dear me, how you have
altered. Oh, what a pity I have to go out. But let us go up
again," she said and stopped hesitatingly. Then she looked at the
clock. "No, I can't. I am going to Kamenskaya's to attend a mass
for the dead. She is terribly afflicted."
"Who is this Kamenskaya?"
"Have you not heard? Her son was killed in a duel. He fought
Posen. He was the only son. Terrible I The mother is very much
"Yes. I have heard of it."
"No, I had better go, and you must come again, to-night or
to-morrow," she said, and went to the door with quick, light
"I cannot come to-night," he said, going out after her; "but I
have a request to make you," and he looked at the pair of bays
that were drawing up to the front door.
"What is this?"
"This is a letter from aunt to you," said Nekhludoff, handing her
a narrow envelope, with a large crest. "You'll find all about it
"I know Countess Katerina Ivanovna thinks I have some influence
with my husband in business matters. She is mistaken. I can do
nothing and do not like to interfere. But, of course, for you I
am willing to be false to my principle. What is this business
about?" she said, searching in vain for her pocket with her
little black gloved hand.
"There is a girl imprisoned in the fortress, and she is ill and
"What is her name?"
"Lydia Shoustova. It's in the note."
"All right; I'll see what I can do," she said, and lightly jumped
into her little, softly upholstered, open carriage, its
brightly-varnished splash-guards glistening in the sunshine, and
opened her parasol. The footman got on the box and gave the
coachman a sign. The carriage moved, but at that moment she
touched the coachman with her parasol and the slim-legged
beauties, the bay mares, stopped, bending their beautiful necks
and stepping from foot to foot.
"But you must come, only, please, without interested motives,"
and she looked at him with a smile, the force of which she well
knew, and, as if the performance over and she were drawing the
curtain, she dropped the veil over her face again. "All right,"
and she again touched the coachman.
Nekhludoff raised his hat, and the well-bred bays, slightly
snorting, set off, their shoes clattering on the pavement, and
the carriage rolled quickly and smoothly on its new rubber tyres,
giving a jump only now and then over some unevenness of the road.
AN UP-TO-DATE SENATOR.
When Nekhludoff remembered the smiles that had passed between him
and Mariette, he shook his head.
"You have hardly time to turn round before you are again drawn
into this life," he thought, feeling that discord and those
doubts which the necessity to curry favour from people he did not
After considering where to go first, so as not to have to retrace
his steps, Nekhludoff set off for the Senate. There he was shown
into the office where he found a great many very polite and very
clean officials in the midst of a magnificent apartment.
Maslova's petition was received and handed on to that Wolf, to
whom Nekhludoff had a letter from his uncle, to be examined and
"There will be a meeting of the Senate this week," the official
said to Nekhludoff, "but Maslova's case will hardly come before
"It might come before the meeting on Wednesday, by special
request," one of the officials remarked.
During the time Nekhludoff waited in the office, while some
information was being taken, he heard that the conversation in
the Senate was all about the duel, and he heard a detailed
account of how a young man, Kaminski, had been killed. It was
here he first heard all the facts of the case which was exciting
the interest of all Petersburg. The story was this: Some officers
were eating oysters and, as usual, drinking very much, when one
of them said something ill-natured about the regiment to which
Kaminski belonged, and Kaminski called him a liar. The other hit
Kaminski. The next day they fought. Kaminski was wounded in the
stomach and died two hours later. The murderer and the seconds
were arrested, but it was said that though they were arrested and
in the guardhouse they would be set free in a fortnight.
From the Senate Nekhludoff drove to see an influential member of
the petition Committee, Baron Vorobioff, who lived in a splendid
house belonging to the Crown. The doorkeeper told Nekhludoff in a
severe tone that the Baron could not be seen except on his
reception days; that he was with His Majesty the Emperor to-day,
and the next day he would again have to deliver a report.
Nekhludoff left his uncle's letter with the doorkeeper and went
on to see the Senator Wolf. Wolf had just had his lunch, and was
as usual helping digestion by smoking a cigar and pacing up and
down the room, when Nekhludoff came in. Vladimir Vasilievitch
Wolf was certainly _un homme tres comme il faut_, and prized this
quality very highly, and from that elevation he looked down at
everybody else. He could not but esteem this quality of his very
highly, because it was thanks to it alone that he had made a
brilliant career, the very career he desired, i.e., by marriage
he obtained a fortune which brought him in 18,000 roubles a year,
and by his own exertions the post of a senator. He considered
himself not only _un homme tres comme il faut_, but also a man of
knightly honour. By honour he understood not accepting secret
bribes from private persons. But he did not consider it dishonest
to beg money for payment of fares and all sorts of travelling
expenses from the Crown, and to do anything the Government might
require of him in return. To ruin hundreds of innocent people, to
cause them to be imprisoned, to be exiled because of their love
for their people and the religion of their fathers, as he had
done in one of the governments of Poland when he was governor
there. He did not consider it dishonourable, but even thought it
a noble, manly and patriotic action. Nor did he consider it
dishonest to rob his wife and sister-in-law, as he had done, but
thought it a wise way of arranging his family life. His family
consisted of his commonplace wife, his sister-in-law, whose
fortune he had appropriated by selling her estate and putting the
money to his account, and his meek, frightened, plain daughter,
who lived a lonely, weary life, from which she had lately begun
to look for relaxation in evangelicism, attending meetings at
Aline's, and the Countess Katerina Ivanovna. Wolf's son, who had
grown a beard at the age of 15, and had at that age begun to
drink and lead a depraved life, which he continued to do till the
age of 20, when he was turned out by his father because he never
finished his studies, moved in a low set and made debts which
committed the father. The father had once paid a debt of 250
roubles for his son, then another of 600 roubles, but warned the
son that he did it for the last time, and that if the son did not
reform he would be turned out of the house and all further
intercourse between him and his family would he put a stop to.
The son did not reform, but made a debt of a thousand roubles,
and took the liberty of telling his father that life at home was
a torment anyhow. Then Wolf declared to his son that he might go
where he pleased--that he was no son of his any longer. Since
then Wolf pretended he had no son, and no one at home dared speak
to him about his son, and Vladimir Vasilievitch Wolf was firmly
convinced that he had arranged his family life in the best way.
Wolf stopped pacing up and down his study, and greeted Nekhludoff
with a friendly though slightly ironical smile. This was his way
of showing how comme il faut he was, and how superior to the
majority of men. He read the note which Nekhludoff handed to him.
"Please take a seat, and excuse me if I continue to walk up and
down, with your permission," he said, putting his hands into his
coat pockets, and began again to walk with light, soft steps
across his large, quietly and stylishly furnished study. "Very
pleased to make your acquaintance and of course very glad to do
anything that Count Ivan Michaelovitch wishes," he said, blowing
the fragrant blue smoke out of his mouth and removing his cigar
carefully so as not to drop the ash.
"I should only like to ask that the case might come on soon, so
that if the prisoner has to go to Siberia she might set off
early," said Nekhludoff.
"Yes, yes, with one of the first steamers from Nijni. I know,"
said Wolf, with his patronising smile, always knowing in advance
whatever one wanted to tell him.
"What is the prisoner's name?"
Wolf went up to the table and looked at a paper that lay on a
piece of cardboard among other business papers.
"Yes, yes. Maslova. All right, I will ask the others. We shall
hear the case on Wednesday."
"Then may I telegraph to the advocate?"
"The advocate! What's that for? But if you like, why not?"
"The causes for appeal may be insufficient," said Nekhludoff,
"but I think the case will show that the sentence was passed
owing to a misunderstanding."
"Yes, yes; it may be so, but the Senate cannot decide the case on
its merits," said Wolf, looking seriously at the ash of his
cigar. "The Senate only considers the exactness of the
application of the laws and their right interpretation."
"But this seems to me to be an exceptional case."
"I know, I know! All cases are exceptional. We shall do our duty.
That's all." The ash was still holding on, but had began
breaking, and was in danger of falling.
"Do you often come to Petersburg?" said Wolf, holding his cigar
so that the ash should not fall. But the ash began to shake, and
Wolf carefully carried it to the ashpan, into which it fell.
"What a terrible thing this is with regard to Kaminski," he said.
"A splendid young man. The only son. Especially the mother's
position," he went on, repeating almost word for word what every
one in Petersburg was at that time saying about Kaminski. Wolf
spoke a little about the Countess Katerina Ivanovna and her
enthusiasm for the new religious teaching, which he neither
approved nor disapproved of, but which was evidently needless to
him who was so comme il faut, and then rang the bell.
"If it is convenient, come and dine on Wednesday, and I will give
you a decisive answer," said Wolf, extending his hand.
It was late, and Nekhludoff returned to his aunt's.
COUNTESS KATERINA IVANOVNA'S DINNER PARTY.
Countess Katerina Ivanovna's dinner hour was half-past seven, and
the dinner was served in a new manner that Nekhludoff had not yet
seen anywhere. After they had placed the dishes on the table the
waiters left the room and the diners helped themselves. The men
would not let the ladies take the trouble of moving, and, as
befitted the stronger sex, they manfully took on themselves the
burden of putting the food on the ladies' plates and of filling
their glasses. When one course was finished, the Countess pressed
the button of an electric bell fitted to the table and the
waiters stepped in noiselessly and quickly carried away the
dishes, changed the plates, and brought in the next course. The
dinner was very refined, the wines very costly. A French chef was
working in the large, light kitchens, with two white-clad
assistants. There were six persons at dinner, the Count and
Countess, their son (a surly officer in the Guards who sat with
his elbows on the table), Nekhludoff, a French lady reader, and
the Count's chief steward, who had come up from the country.
Here, too, the conversation was about the duel, and opinions were
given as to how the Emperor regarded the case. It was known that
the Emperor was very much grieved for the mother's sake, and all
were grieved for her, and as it was also known that the Emperor
did not mean to be very severe to the murderer, who defended the
honour of his uniform, all were also lenient to the officer who
had defended the honour of his uniform. Only the Countess
Katerina Ivanovna, with her free thoughtlessness, expresses her
"They get drunk, and kill unobjectionable young men. I should not
forgive them on any account," she said.
"Now, that's a thing I cannot understand," said the Count.
"I know that you never can understand what I say," the Countess
began, and turning to Nekhludoff, she added:
"Everybody understands except my husband. I say I am sorry for
the mother, and I do not wish him to be contented, having killed
a man." Then her son, who had been silent up to then, took the
murderer's part, and rudely attacked his mother, arguing that an
officer could not behave in any other way, because his
fellow-officers would condemn him and turn him out of the
regiment. Nekhludoff listened to the conversation without joining
in. Having been an officer himself, he understood, though he did
not agree with, young Tcharsky's arguments, and at the same time
he could not help contrasting the fate of the officer with that
of a beautiful young convict whom he had seen in the prison, and
who was condemned to the mines for having killed another in a
fight. Both had turned murderers through drunkenness. The peasant
had killed a man in a moment of irritation, and he was parted
from his wife and family, had chains on his legs, and his head
shaved, and was going to hard labour in Siberia, while the
officer was sitting in a fine room in the guardhouse, eating a
good dinner, drinking good wine, and reading books, and would be
set free in a day or two to live as he had done before, having
only become more interesting by the affair. Nekhludoff said what
he had been thinking, and at first his aunt, Katerina Ivanovna,
seemed to agree with him, but at last she became silent as the
rest had done, and Nekhludoff felt that he had committed
something akin to an impropriety. In the evening, soon after
dinner, the large hall, with high-backed carved chairs arranged
in rows as for a meeting, and an armchair next to a little table,
with a bottle of water for the speaker, began to fill with people
come to hear the foreigner, Kiesewetter, preach. Elegant
equipages stopped at the front entrance. In the hall sat
richly-dressed ladies in silks and velvets and lace, with false
hair and false busts and drawn-in waists, and among them men in
uniform and evening dress, and about five persons of the common
class, i.e., two men-servants, a shop-keeper, a footman, and a
coachman. Kiesewetter, a thick-set, grisly man, spoke English,
and a thin young girl, with a pince-nez, translated it into
Russian promptly and well. He was saying that our sins were so
great, the punishment for them so great and so unavoidable, that
it was impossible to live anticipating such punishment. "Beloved
brothers and sisters, let us for a moment consider what we are
doing, how we are living, how we have offended against the
all-loving Lord, and how we make Christ suffer, and we cannot but
understand that there is no forgiveness possible for us, no
escape possible, that we are all doomed to perish. A terrible
fate awaits us---everlasting torment," he said, with tears in his
trembling voice. "Oh, how can we be saved, brothers? How can we
be saved from this terrible, unquenchable fire? The house is in
flames; there is no escape."
He was silent for a while, and real tears flowed down his cheeks.
It was for about eight years that each time when he got to this
part of his speech, which he himself liked so well, he felt a
choking in his throat and an irritation in his nose, and the
tears came in his eyes, and these tears touched him still more.
Sobs were heard in the room. The Countess Katerina Ivanovna sat
with her elbows on an inlaid table, leaning her head on her
hands, and her shoulders were shaking. The coachman looked with
fear and surprise at the foreigner, feeling as if he was about to
run him down with the pole of his carriage and the foreigner
would not move out of his way. All sat in positions similar to
that Katerina Ivanovna had assumed. Wolf's daughter, a thin,
fashionably-dressed girl, very like her father, knelt with her
face in her hands.
The orator suddenly uncovered his face, and smiled a very
real-looking smile, such as actors express joy with, and began
again with a sweet, gentle voice:
"Yet there is a way to be saved. Here it is--a joyful, easy way.
The salvation is the blood shed for us by the only son of God,
who gave himself up to torments for our sake. His sufferings, His
blood, will save us. Brothers and sisters," he said, again with
tears in his voice, "let us praise the Lord, who has given His
only begotten son for the redemption of mankind. His holy blood
. . ."
Nekhludoff felt so deeply disgusted that he rose silently, and
frowning and keeping back a groan of shame, he left on tiptoe,
and went to his room.
Hardly had Nekhludoff finished dressing the next morning, just as
he was about to go down, the footman brought him a card from the
Moscow advocate. The advocate had come to St. Petersburg on
business of his own, and was going to be present when Maslova's
case was examined in the Senate, if that would be soon. The
telegram sent by Nekhludoff crossed him on the way. Having found
out from Nekhludoff when the case was going to be heard, and
which senators were to be present, he smiled. "Exactly, all the
three types of senators," he said. "Wolf is a Petersburg
official; Skovorodnikoff is a theoretical, and Bay a practical
lawyer, and therefore the most alive of them all," said the
advocate. "There is most hope of him. Well, and how about the
"Oh, I'm going to Baron Vorobioff to-day. I could not get an
audience with him yesterday."
"Do you know why he is _Baron_ Vorobioff?" said the advocate,
noticing the slightly ironical stress that Nekhludoff put on this
foreign title, followed by so very Russian a surname.
"That was because the Emperor Paul rewarded the grandfather--I
think he was one of the Court footmen--by giving him this title.
He managed to please him in some way, so he made him a baron.
'It's my wish, so don't gainsay me!' And so there's a _Baron_
Vorobioff, and very proud of the title. He is a dreadful old
"Well, I'm going to see him," said Nekhludoff.
"That's good; we can go together. I shall give you a lift."
As they were going to start, a footman met Nekhludoff in the
ante-room, and handed him a note from Mariette:
_Pour vous faire plaisir, f'ai agi tout a fait contre mes
principes et j'ai intercede aupres de mon mari pour votre
protegee. Il se trouve que cette personne pout etre relaxee
immediatement. Mon mari a ecrit au commandant. Venez donc
disinterestedly. Je vous attends._
"Just fancy!" said Nekhludoff to the advocate. "Is this not
dreadful? A woman whom they are keeping in solitary confinement
for seven months turns out to be quite innocent, and only a word
was needed to get her released."
"That's always so. Well, anyhow, you have succeeded in getting
what you wanted."
"Yes, but this success grieves me. Just think what must be going
on there. Why have they been keeping her?"
"Oh, it's best not to look too deeply into it. Well, then, I
shall give you a lift, if I may," said the advocate, as they left
the house, and a fine carriage that the advocate had hired drove
up to the door. "It's Baron Vorobioff you are going to see?"
The advocate gave the driver his directions, and the two good
horses quickly brought Nekhludoff to the house in which the Baron
lived. The Baron was at home. A young official in uniform, with a
long, thin neck, a much protruding Adam's apple, and an extremely
light walk, and two ladies were in the first room.
"Your name, please?" the young man with the Adam's apple asked,
stepping with extreme lightness and grace across from the ladies
Nekhludoff gave his name.
"The Baron was just mentioning you," said the young man, the
Baron's adjutant, and went out through an inner door. He
returned, leading a weeping lady dressed in mourning. With her
bony fingers the lady was trying to pull her tangled veil over
her face in order to hide her tears.
"Come in, please," said the young man to Nekhludoff, lightly
stepping up to the door of the study and holding it open. When
Nekhludoff came in, he saw before him a thick-set man of medium
height, with short hair, in a frock coat, who was sitting in an
armchair opposite a large writing-table, and looking gaily in
front of himself. The kindly, rosy red face, striking by its
contrast with the white hair, moustaches, and beard, turned
towards Nekhludoff with a friendly smile.
"Very glad to see you. Your mother and I were old acquaintances
and friends. I have seen you as a boy, and later on as an
officer. Sit down and tell me what I can do for you. Yes, yes,"
he said, shaking his cropped white head, while Nekhludoff was
telling him Theodosia's story. "Go on, go on. I quite understand.
It is certainly very touching. And have you handed in the
"I have got the petition ready," Nekhludoff said, getting it out
of his pocket; "but I thought of speaking to you first in hopes
that the case would then get special attention paid to it."
"You have done very well. I shall certainly report it myself,"
said the Baron, unsuccessfully trying to put an expression of
pity on his merry face. "Very touching! It is clear she was but a
child; the husband treated her roughly, this repelled her, but as
time went on they fell in love with each other. Yes I will report
"Count Ivan Michaelovitch was also going to speak about it."
Nekhludoff had hardly got these words out when the Baron's face
"You had better hand in the petition into the office, after all,
and I shall do what I can," he said.
At this moment the young official again entered the room,
evidently showing off his elegant manner of walking.
"That lady is asking if she may say a few words more."
"Well, ask her in. Ah, mon cher, how many tears we have to see
shed! If only we could dry them all. One does all that lies
within one's power."
The lady entered.
"I forgot to ask you that he should not be allowed to give up the
daughter, because he is ready . . ."
"But I have already told you that I should do all I can."
"Baron, for the love of God! You will save the mother?"
She seized his hand, and began kissing it.
"Everything shall be done."
When the lady went out Nekhludoff also began to take leave.
"We shall do what we can. I shall speak about it at the Ministry
of Justice, and when we get their answer we shall do what we
Nekhludoff left the study, and went into the office again. Just
as in the Senate office, he saw, in a splendid apartment, a
number of very elegant officials, clean, polite, severely correct
and distinguished in dress and in speech.
"How many there are of them; how very many and how well fed they
all look! And what clean shirts and hands they all have, and how
well all their boots are polished! Who does it for them? How
comfortable they all are, as compared not only with the
prisoners, but even with the peasants!" These thoughts again
involuntarily came to Nekhludoff's mind.
AN OLD GENERAL OF REPUTE.
The man on whom depended the easing of the fate of the Petersburg
prisoners was an old General of repute--a baron of German
descent, who, as it was said of him, had outlived his wits. He
had received a profusion of orders, but only wore one of them,
the Order of the White Cross. He had received this order, which
he greatly valued, while serving in the Caucasus, because a
number of Russian peasants, with their hair cropped, and dressed
in uniform and armed with guns and bayonets, had killed at his
command more than a thousand men who were defending their
liberty, their homes, and their families. Later on he served in
Poland, and there also made Russian peasants commit many
different crimes, and got more orders and decorations for his
uniform. Then he served somewhere else, and now that he was a
weak, old man he had this position, which insured him a good
house, an income and respect. He strictly observed all the
regulations which were prescribed "from above," and was very
zealous in the fulfilment of these regulations, to which he
ascribed a special importance, considering that everything else
in the world might be changed except the regulations prescribed
"from above." His duty was to keep political prisoners, men and
women, in solitary confinement in such a way that half of them
perished in 10 years' time, some going out of their minds, some
dying of consumption, some committing suicide by starving
themselves to death, cutting their veins with bits of glass,
hanging, or burning themselves to death.
The old General was not ignorant of this; it all happened within
his knowledge; but these cases no more touched his conscience
than accidents brought on by thunderstorms, floods, etc. These
cases occurred as a consequence of the fulfilment of regulations
prescribed "from above" by His Imperial Majesty. These
regulations had to be carried out without fail, and therefore it
was absolutely useless to think of the consequences of their
fulfilment. The old General did not even allow himself to think
of such things, counting it his patriotic duty as a soldier not
to think of them for fear of getting weak in the carrying out of
these, according to his opinion, very important obligations. Once
a week the old General made the round of the cells, one of the
duties of his position, and asked the prisoners if they had any
requests to make. The prisoners had all sorts of requests. He
listened to them quietly, in impenetrable silence, and never
fulfilled any of their requests, because they were all in
disaccord with the regulations. Just as Nekhludoff drove up to
the old General's house, the high notes of the bells on the
belfry clock chimed "Great is the Lord," and then struck two. The
sound of these chimes brought back to Nekhludoff's mind what he
had read in the notes of the Decembrists [the Decembrists were a
group who attempted, but failed, to put an end to absolutism in
Russia at the time of the accession of Nicholas the First] about
the way this sweet music repeated every hour re-echoes in the
hearts of those imprisoned for life.
Meanwhile the old General was sitting in his darkened
drawing-room at an inlaid table, turning a saucer on a piece of
paper with the aid of a young artist, the brother of one of his
subordinates. The thin, weak, moist fingers of the artist were
pressed against the wrinkled and stiff-jointed fingers of the old
General, and the hands joined in this manner were moving together
with the saucer over a paper that had all the letters of the
alphabet written on it. The saucer was answering the questions
put by the General as to how souls will recognise each other
When Nekhludoff sent in his card by an orderly acting as footman,
the soul of Joan of Arc was speaking by the aid of the saucer.
The soul of Joan of Arc had already spelt letter by letter the
words: "They well knew each other," and these words had been
written down. When the orderly came in the saucer had stopped
first on b, then on y, and began jerking hither and thither. This
jerking was caused by the General's opinion that the next letter
should be b, i.e., Joan of Arc ought to say that the souls will
know each other by being cleansed of all that is earthly, or
something of the kind, clashing with the opinion of the artist,
who thought the next letter should be l, i.e., that the souls
should know each other by light emanating from their astral
bodies. The General, with his bushy grey eyebrows gravely
contracted, sat gazing at the hands on the saucer, and, imagining
that it was moving of its own accord, kept pulling the saucer
towards b. The pale-faced young artist, with his thin hair combed
back behind his cars, was looking with his lifeless blue eyes
into a dark corner of the drawing-room, nervously moving his lips
and pulling the saucer towards l.
The General made a wry face at the interruption, but after a
moment's pause he took the card, put on his pince-nez, and,
uttering a groan, rose, in spite of the pain in his back, to his
full height, rubbing his numb fingers.
"Ask him into the study."
"With your excellency's permission I will finish it alone," said
the artist, rising. "I feel the presence."
"All right, finish alone," the General said, severely and
decidedly, and stepped quickly, with big, firm and measured
strides, into his study.
"Very pleased to see you," said the General to Nekhludoff,
uttering the friendly words in a gruff tone, and pointing to an
armchair by the side of the writing-table. "Have you been in
Nekhludoff replied that he had only lately arrived.
"Is the Princess, your mother, well?"
"My mother is dead."
"Forgive me; I am very sorry. My son told me he had met you."
The General's son was making the same kind of career for himself
that the father had done, and, having passed the Military
Academy, was now serving in the Inquiry Office, and was very
proud of his duties there. His occupation was the management of
"Why, I served with your father. We were friends--comrades. And
you; are you also in the Service?"
"No, I am not."
The General bent his head disapprovingly.
"I have a request to make, General."
"Very pleased. In what way can I be of service to you? If my
request is out of place pray pardon me. But I am obliged to make
"What is it?"
"There is a certain Gourkevitch imprisoned in the fortress; his
mother asks for an interview with him, or at least to be allowed
to send him some books."
The General expressed neither satisfaction nor dissatisfaction at
Nekhludoff's request, but bending his head on one side he closed
his eyes as if considering. In reality he was not considering
anything, and was not even interested in Nekhludoff's questions,
well knowing that he would answer them according to the law. He
was simply resting mentally and not thinking at all.
"You see," he said at last, "this does not depend on me. There is
a regulation, confirmed by His Majesty, concerning interviews;
and as to books, we have a library, and they may have what is
"Yes, but he wants scientific books; he wishes to study."
"Don't you believe it," growled the General. "It's not study he
wants; it is just only restlessness."
"But what is to be done? They must occupy their time somehow in
their hard condition," said Nekhludoff.
"They are always complaining," said the General. "We know them."
He spoke of them in a general way, as if they were all a
specially bad race of men. "They have conveniences here which can
be found in few places of confinement," said the General, and he
began to enumerate the comforts the prisoners enjoyed, as if the
aim of the institution was to give the people imprisoned there a
"It is true it used to be rather rough, but now they are very
well kept here," he continued. "They have three courses for
dinner--and one of them meat--cutlets, or rissoles; and on
Sundays they get a fourth--a sweet dish. God grant every Russian
may eat as well as they do."
Like all old people, the General, having once got on to a
familiar topic, enumerated the various proofs he had often given
before of the prisoners being exacting and ungrateful.
"They get books on spiritual subjects and old journals. We have a
library. Only they rarely read. At first they seem interested,
later on the new books remain uncut, and the old ones with their
leaves unturned. We tried them," said the old General, with the
dim likeness of a smile. "We put bits of paper in on purpose,
which remained just as they had been placed. Writing is also not
forbidden," he continued. "A slate is provided, and a slate
pencil, so that they can write as a pastime. They can wipe the
slate and write again. But they don't write, either. Oh, they
very soon get quite tranquil. At first they seem restless, but
later on they even grow fat and become very quiet." Thus spoke
the General, never suspecting the terrible meaning of his words.
Nekhludoff listened to the hoarse old voice, looked at the stiff
limbs, the swollen eyelids under the grey brows, at the old,
clean-shaved, flabby jaw, supported by the collar of the military
uniform, at the white cross that this man was so proud of,
chiefly because he had gained it by exceptionally cruel and
extensive slaughter, and knew that it was useless to reply to the
old man or to explain the meaning of his own words to him.
He made another effort, and asked about the prisoner Shoustova,
for whose release, as he had been informed that morning, orders
"Shoustova--Shoustova? I cannot remember all their names, there
are so many of them," he said, as if reproaching them because
there were so many. He rang, and ordered the secretary to be
called. While waiting for the latter, he began persuading
Nekhludoff to serve, saying that "honest noblemen," counting
himself among the number, "were particularly needed by the Tsar
and--the country," he added, evidently only to round off his
sentence. "I am old, yet I am serving still, as well as my
The secretary, a dry, emaciated man, with restless, intelligent
eyes, came in and reported that Shoustova was imprisoned in some
queer, fortified place, and that he had received no orders
"When we get the order we shall let her out the same day. We do
not keep them; we do not value their visits much," said the
General, with another attempt at a playful smile, which only
distorted his old face.
Nekhludoff rose, trying to keep from expressing the mixed
feelings of repugnance and pity which he felt towards this
terrible old man. The old man on his part considered that he
should not be too severe on the thoughtless and evidently
misguided son of his old comrade, and should not leave him
"Good-bye, my dear fellow; do not take it amiss. It is my
affection that makes me say it. Do not keep company with such
people as we have at our place here. There are no innocent ones
among them. All these people are most immoral. We know them," he
said, in a tone that admitted no possibility of doubt. And he did
not doubt, not because the thing was so, but because if it was
not so, he would have to admit himself to be not a noble hero
living out the last days of a good life, but a scoundrel, who
sold, and still continued in his old age to sell, his conscience.
"Best of all, go and serve," he continued; "the Tsar needs honest
men--and the country," he added. "Well, supposing I and the
others refused to serve, as you are doing? Who would be left?
Here we are, finding fault with the order of things, and yet not
wishing to help the Government."
With a deep sigh Nekhludoff made a low bow, shook the large, bony
hand condescendingly stretched out to him and left the room.
The General shook his head reprovingly, and rubbing his back, he
again went into the drawing-room where the artist was waiting for
him. He had already written down the answer given by the soul of
Joan of Arc. The General put on his pince-nez and read, "Will
know one another by light emanating from their astral bodies."
"Ah," said the General, with approval, and closed his eyes. "But
how is one to know if the light of all is alike?" he asked, and
again crossed fingers with the artist on the saucer.
The isvostchik drove Nekhludoff out of the gate.
It is dull here, sir, he said, turning to Nekhludoff. "I almost
wished to drive off without waiting for you."
Nekhludoff agreed. "Yes, it is dull," and he took a deep breath,
and looked up with a sense of relief at the grey clouds that were
floating in the sky, and at the glistening ripples made by the
boats and steamers on the Neva.
The next day Maslova's case was to be examined at the Senate, and
Nekhludoff and the advocate met at the majestic portal of the
building, where several carriages were waiting. Ascending the
magnificent and imposing staircase to the first floor, the
advocate, who knew all the ins and outs of the place, turned to
the left and entered through a door which had the date of the
introduction of the Code of Laws above it.
After taking off his overcoat in the first narrow room, he found
out from the attendant that the Senators had all arrived, and
that the last had just come in. Fanarin, in his swallow-tail
coat, a white tie above the white shirt-front, and a
self-confident smile on his lips, passed into the next room. In
this room there were to the right a large cupboard and a table,
and to the left a winding staircase, which an elegant official in
uniform was descending with a portfolio under his arm. In this
room an old man with long, white hair and a patriarchal
appearance attracted every one's attention. He wore a short coat
and grey trousers. Two attendants stood respectfully beside him.
The old man with white hair entered the cupboard and shut himself
Fanarin noticed a fellow-advocate dressed in the same way as
himself, with a white tie and dress coat, and at once entered
into an animated conversation with him.
Nekhludoff was meanwhile examining the people in the room. The
public consisted of about 15 persons, of whom two were ladies--a
young one with a pince-nez, and an old, grey-haired one.
A case of libel was to be heard that day, and therefore the
public were more numerous than usual--chiefly persons belonging
to the journalistic world.
The usher, a red-cheeked, handsome man in a fine uniform, came up
to Fanarin and asked him what his business was. When he heard
that it was the case of Maslova, he noted something down and
walked away. Then the cupboard door opened and the old man with
the patriarchal appearance stepped out, no longer in a short coat
but in a gold-trimmed attire, which made him look like a bird,
and with metal plates on his breast. This funny costume seemed to
make the old man himself feel uncomfortable, and, walking faster
than his wont, he hurried out of the door opposite the entrance.
"That is Bay, a most estimable man," Fanarin said to Nekhludoff,
and then having introduced him to his colleague, he explained the
case that was about to be heard, which he considered very
The hearing of the case soon commenced, and Nekhludoff, with the
public, entered the left side of the Senate Chamber. They all,
including Fanarin, took their places behind a grating. Only the
Petersburg advocate went up to a desk in front of the grating.
The Senate Chamber was not so big as the Criminal Court; and was
more simply furnished, only the table in front of the senators
was covered with crimson, gold-trimmed velvet, instead of green
cloth; but the attributes of all places of judgment, i.e., the
mirror of justice, the icon, the emblem of hypocrisy, and the
Emperor's portrait, the emblem of servility, were there.
The usher announced, in the same solemn manner: "The Court is
coming." Every one rose in the same way, and the senators entered
in their uniforms and sat down on highbacked chairs and leant on
the table, trying to appear natural, just in the same way as the
judges in the Court of Law. There were four senators
present--Nikitin, who took the chair, a clean-shaved man with a
narrow face and steely eyes; Wolf, with significantly compressed
lips, and little white hands, with which he kept turning over the
pages of the business papers; Skovorodnikoff, a heavy, fat,
pockmarked man--the learned lawyer; and Bay, the
patriarchal-looking man who had arrived last.
With the advocates entered the chief secretary and public
prosecutor, a lean, clean-shaven young man of medium height, a
very dark complexion, and sad, black eyes. Nekhludoff knew him at
once, in spite of his curious uniform and the fact that he had
not seen him for six years. He had been one of his best friends
in Nekhludoff's student days.
"The public prosecutor Selenin?" Nekhludoff asked, turning to the
"I know him well. He is a fine fellow."
"And a good public prosecutor; business-like. Now he is the man
you should have interested."
"He will act according to his conscience in any case," said
Nekhludoff, recalling the intimate relations and friendship
between himself and Selenin, and the attractive qualities of the
latter--purity, honesty, and good breeding in its best sense.
"Yes, there is no time now," whispered Fanarin, who was
listening to the report of the case that had commenced.
The Court of Justice was accused of having left a decision of the
Court of Law unaltered.
Nekhludoff listened and tried to make out the meaning of what was
going on; but, just as in the Criminal Court, his chief
difficulty was that not the evidently chief point, but some side
issues, were being discussed. The case was that of a newspaper
which had published the account of a swindle arranged by a
director of a limited liability company. It seemed that the only
important question was whether the director of the company really
abused his trust, and how to stop him from doing it. But the
questions under consideration were whether the editor had a right
to publish this article of his contributor, and what he had been
guilty of in publishing it: slander or libel, and in what way
slander included libel, or libel included slander, and something
rather incomprehensible to ordinary people about all sorts of
statutes and resolutions passed by some General Department.
The only thing clear to Nekhludoff was that, in spite of what
Wolf had so strenuously insisted on, the day before, i.e., that
the Senate could not try a case on its merits, in this case he
was evidently strongly in favour of repealing the decision of the
Court of Justice, and that Selenin, in spite of his
characteristic reticence, stated the opposite opinion with quite
unexpected warmth. The warmth, which surprised Nekhludoff,
evinced by the usually self-controlled Selenin, was due to his
knowledge of the director's shabbiness in money matters, and the
fact, which had accidentally come to his cars, that Wolf had been
to a swell dinner party at the swindler's house only a few days
Now that Wolf spoke on the case, guardedly enough, but with
evident bias, Selenin became excited, and expressed his opinion
with too much nervous irritation for an ordinary business
It was clear that Selenin's speech had offended Wolf. He grew
red, moved in his chair, made silent gestures of surprise, and at
last rose, with a very dignified and injured look, together with
the other senators, and went out into the debating-room.
"What particular case have you come about?" the usher asked
again, addressing Fanarin.
"I have already told you: Maslova's case."
"Yes, quite so. It is to be heard to-day, but--"
"But what?" the advocate asked.
"Well, you see, this case was to be examined without taking
sides, so that the senators will hardly come out again after
passing the resolution. But I will inform them."
"What do you mean?"
"I'll inform them; I'll inform them." And the usher again put
something down on his paper.
The Senators really meant to pronounce their decision concerning
the libel case, and then to finish the other business, Maslova's
case among it, over their tea and cigarettes, without leaving the
THE APPEAL DISMISSED.
As soon as the Senators were seated round the table in the
debating-room, Wolf began to bring forward with great animation
all the motives in favour of a repeal. The chairman, an
ill-natured man at best, was in a particularly bad humour that
day. His thoughts were concentrated on the words he had written
down in his memoranda on the occasion when not he but Viglanoff
was appointed to the important post he had long coveted. It was
the chairman, Nikitin's, honest conviction that his opinions of
the officials of the two upper classes with which he was in
connection would furnish valuable material for the historians. He
had written a chapter the day before in which the officials of
the upper classes got it hot for preventing him, as he expressed
it, from averting the ruin towards which the present rulers of
Russia were driving it, which simply meant that they had prevented
his getting a better salary. And now he was considering what a
new light to posterity this chapter would shed on events.
"Yes, certainly," he said, in reply to the words addressed to him
by Wolf, without listening to them.
Bay was listening to Wolf with a sad face and drawing a garland
on the paper that lay before him. Bay was a Liberal of the very
first water. He held sacred the Liberal traditions of the sixth
decade of this century, and if he ever overstepped the limits of
strict neutrality it was always in the direction of Liberalism.
So in this case; beside the fact that the swindling director, who
was prosecuting for libel, was a bad lot, the prosecution of a
journalist for libel in itself tending, as it did, to restrict
the freedom of the press, inclined Bay to reject the appeal.
When Wolf concluded his arguments Bay stopped drawing his garland
and began in a sad and gentle voice (he was sad because he was
obliged to demonstrate such truisms) concisely, simply and
convincingly to show how unfounded the accusation was, and then,
bending his white head, he continued drawing his garland.
Skovorodnikoff, who sat opposite Wolf, and, with his fat fingers,
kept shoving his beard and moustaches into his mouth, stopped
chewing his beard as soon as Bay was silent, and said with a
loud, grating voice, that, notwithstanding the fact of the
director being a terrible scoundrel, he would have been for the
repeal of the sentence if there were any legal reasons for it;
but, as there were none, he was of Bay's opinion. He was glad to
put this spoke in Wolf's wheel.
The chairman agreed with Skovorodnikoff, and the appeal was
Wolf was dissatisfied, especially because it was like being
caught acting with dishonest partiality; so he pretended to be
indifferent, and, unfolding the document which contained
Maslova's case, he became engrossed in it. Meanwhile the Senators
rang and ordered tea, and began talking about the event that,
together with the duel, was occupying the Petersburgers.
It was the case of the chief of a Government department, who was
accused of the crime provided for in Statute 995.
"What nastiness," said Bay, with disgust.
"Why; where is the harm of it? I can show you a Russian book
containing the project of a German writer, who openly proposes
that it should not be considered a crime," said Skovorodnikoff,
drawing in greedily the fumes of the crumpled cigarette, which he
held between his fingers close to the palm, and he laughed
"Impossible!" said Bay.
"I shall show it you," said Skovorodnikoff, giving the full title
of the book, and even its date and the name of its editor.
"I hear he has been appointed governor to some town in Siberia."
"That's fine. The archdeacon will meet him with a crucifix. They
ought to appoint an archdeacon of the same sort," said
Skovorodnikoff. "I could recommend them one," and he threw the
end of his cigarette into his saucer, and again shoved as much of
his beard and moustaches as he could into his mouth and began
The usher came in and reported the advocate's and Nekhludoff's
desire to be present at the examination of Maslova's case.
"This case," Wolf said, "is quite romantic," and he told them
what he knew about Nekhludoff's relations with Maslova. When they
had spoken a little about it and finished their tea and
cigarettes, the Senators returned into the Senate Chamber and
proclaimed their decision in the libel case, and began to hear
Wolf, in his thin voice, reported Maslova's appeal very fully,
but again not without some bias and an evident wish for the
repeal of the sentence.
"Have you anything to add?" the chairman said, turning to
Fanarin. Fanarin rose, and standing with his broad white chest
expanded, proved point by point, with wonderful exactness and
persuasiveness, how the Court had in six points strayed from the
exact meaning of the law; and besides this he touched, though
briefly, on the merits of the case, and on the crying injustice
of the sentence. The tone of his speech was one of apology to the
Senators, who, with their penetration and judicial wisdom, could
not help seeing and understanding it all better than he could. He
was obliged to speak only because the duty he had undertaken
forced him to do so.
After Fanarin's speech one might have thought that there could
not remain the least doubt that the Senate ought to repeal the
decision of the Court. When he had finished his speech, Fanarin
looked round with a smile of triumph, seeing which Nekhludoff
felt certain that the case was won. But when he looked at the
Senators he saw that Fanarin smiled and triumphed all alone. The
Senators and the Public Prosecutor did not smile nor triumph, but
looked like people wearied, and who were thinking "We have often
heard the like of you; it is all in vain," and were only too glad
when he stopped and ceased uselessly detaining them there.
Immediately after the end of the advocate's speech the chairman
turned to the Public Prosecutor. Selenin briefly and clearly
expressed himself in favour of leaving the decision of the Court
unaltered, as he considered all the reasons for appealing
inadequate. After this the Senators went out into the
debating-room. They were divided in their opinions. Wolf was in
favour of altering the decision. Bay, when he had understood the
case, took up the same side with fervour, vividly presenting the
scene at the court to his companions as he clearly saw it
himself. Nikitin, who always was on the side of severity and
formality, took up the other side. All depended on
Skovorodnikoff's vote, and he voted for rejecting the appeal,
because Nekhludoff's determination to marry the woman on moral
grounds was extremely repugnant to him.
Skovorodnikoff was a materialist, a Darwinian, and counted every
manifestation of abstract morality, or, worse still, religion,
not only as a despicable folly, but as a personal affront to
himself. All this bother about a prostitute, and the presence of
a celebrated advocate and Nekhludoff in the Senate were in the
highest degree repugnant to him. So he shoved his beard into his
mouth and made faces, and very skilfully pretended to know
nothing of this case, excepting that the reasons for an appeal
were insufficient, and that he, therefore, agreed with the
chairman to leave the decision of the Court unaltered.
So the sentence remained unrepealed.
AN OLD FRIEND.
"Terrible," said Nekhludoff, as he went out into the waiting-room
with the advocate, who was arranging the papers in his portfolio.
"In a matter which is perfectly clear they attach all the
importance to the form and reject the appeal. Terrible!"
"The case was spoiled in the Criminal Court," said the advocate.
"And Selenin, too, was in favour of the rejection. Terrible!
terrible!" Nekhludoff repeated. "What is to be done now?"
"We will appeal to His Majesty, and you can hand in the petition
yourself while you are here. I will write it for you."
At this moment little Wolf, with his stars and uniform, came out
into the waiting-room and approached Nekhludoff. "It could not be
helped, dear Prince. The reasons for an appeal were not
sufficient," he said, shrugging his narrow shoulders and closing
his eyes, and then he went his way.
After Wolf, Selenin came out too, having heard from the Senators
that his old friend Nekhludoff was there.
"Well, I never expected to see you here," he said, coming up to
Nekhludoff, and smiling only with his lips while his eyes
remained sad. "I did not know you were in Petersburg."
"And I did not know you were Public Prosecutor-in-Chief."
"How is it you are in the Senate?" asked Selenin. "I had heard,
by the way, that you were in Petersburg. But what are you doing
"Here? I am here because I hoped to find justice and save a woman
"The one whose case has just been decided."
"Oh! Maslova's case," said Selenin, suddenly remembering it. "The
appeal had no grounds whatever."
"It is not the appeal; it's the woman who is innocent, and is
Selenin sighed. "That may well be, but----"
"Not _may be_, but is."
"How do you know?"
"Because I was on the jury. I know how we made the mistake."
Selenin became thoughtful. "You should have made a statement at
the time," he said.
"I did make the statement."
"It should have been put down in an official report. If this had
been added to the petition for the appeal--"
"Yes, but still, as it is, the verdict is evidently absurd."
"The Senate has no right to say so. If the Senate took upon
itself to repeal the decision of the law courts according to its
own views as to the justice of the decisions in themselves, the
verdict of the jury would lose all its meaning, not to mention
that the Senate would have no basis to go upon, and would run the
risk of infringing justice rather than upholding it," said
Selenin, calling to mind the case that had just been heard.
"All I know is that this woman is quite innocent, and that the
last hope of saying her from an unmerited punishment is gone. The
grossest injustice has been confirmed by the highest court."
"It has not been confirmed. The Senate did not and cannot enter
into the merits of the case in itself," said Selenin. Always busy
and rarely going out into society, he had evidently heard nothing
of Nekhludoff's romance. Nekhludoff noticed it, and made up his
mind that it was best to say nothing about his special relations
"You are probably staying with your aunt," Selenin remarked,
apparently wishing to change the subject. "She told me you were
here yesterday, and she invited me to meet you in the evening,
when some foreign preacher was to lecture," and Selenin again
smiled only with his lips.
"Yes, I was there, but left in disgust," said Nekhludoff angrily,
vexed that Selenin had changed the subject.
"Why with disgust? After all, it is a manifestation of religious
feeling, though one-sided and sectarian," said Selenin.
"Why, it's only some kind of whimsical folly."
"Oh, dear, no. The curious thing is that we know the teaching of
our church so little that we see some new kind of revelation in
what are, after all, our own fundamental dogmas," said Selenin,
as if hurrying to let his old friend know his new views.
Nekhludoff looked at Selenin scrutinisingly and with surprise,
and Selenin dropped his eyes, in which appeared an expression not
only of sadness but also of ill-will.
"Do you, then, believe in the dogmas of the church?" Nekhludoff
"Of course I do," replied Selenin, gazing straight into
Nekhludoff's eyes with a lifeless look.
Nekhludoff sighed. "It is strange," he said.
"However, we shall have a talk some other time," said Selenin.
"I am coming," he added, in answer to the usher, who had
respectfully approached him. "Yes, we must meet again," he went
on with a sigh. "But will it be possible for me to find you? You
will always find me in at seven o'clock. My address is
Nadejdinskaya," and he gave the number. "Ah, time does not stand
still," and he turned to go, smiling only with his lips.
"I will come if I can," said Nekhludoff, feeling that a man once
near and dear to him had, by this brief conversation, suddenly
become strange, distant, and incomprehensible, if not hostile to
THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR.
When Nekhludoff knew Selenin as a student, he was a good son, a
true friend, and for his years an educated man of the world, with
much tact; elegant, handsome, and at the same time truthful and
honest. He learned well, without much exertion and with no
pedantry, receiving gold medals for his essays. He considered the
service of mankind, not only in words but in acts, to be the aim
of his young life. He saw no other way of being useful to
humanity than by serving the State. Therefore, as soon as he had
completed his studies, he systematically examined all the
activities to which he might devote his life, and decided to
enter the Second Department of the Chancellerie, where the laws
are drawn up, and he did so. But, in spite of the most scrupulous
and exact discharge of the duties demanded of him, this service
gave no satisfaction to his desire of being useful, nor could he
awake in himself the consciousness that he was doing "the right
This dissatisfaction was so much increased by the friction with
his very small-minded and vain fellow officials that he left the
Chancellerie and entered the Senate. It was better there, but the
same dissatisfaction still pursued him; he felt it to be very
different from what he had expected, and from what ought to be.
And now that he was in the Senate his relatives obtained for him
the post of Gentleman of the Bedchamber, and he had to go in a
carriage, dressed in an embroidered uniform and a white linen
apron, to thank all sorts of people for having placed him in the
position of a lackey. However much he tried he could find no
reasonable explanation for the existence of this post, and felt,
more than in the Senate, that it was not "the right thing," and
yet he could not refuse it for fear of hurting those who felt
sure they were giving him much pleasure by this appointment, and
because it flattered the lowest part of his nature. It pleased
him to see himself in a mirror in his gold-embroidered uniform,
and to accept the deference paid him by some people because of
Something of the same kind happened when he married. A very
brilliant match, from a worldly point of view, was arranged for
him, and he married chiefly because by refusing he would have had
to hurt the young lady who wished to be married to him, and those
who arranged the marriage, and also because a marriage with a
nice young girl of noble birth flattered his vanity and gave him
pleasure. But this marriage very soon proved to be even less "the
right thing" than the Government service and his position at
After the birth of her first child the wife decided to have no
more, and began leading that luxurious worldly life in which he
now had to participate whether he liked or not.
She was not particularly handsome, and was faithful to him, and
she seemed, in spite of all the efforts it cost her, to derive
nothing but weariness from the life she led, yet she
perseveringly continued to live it, though it was poisoning her
husband's life. And all his efforts to alter this life was
shattered, as against a stone wall, by her conviction, which all
her friends and relatives supported, that all was as it should
The child, a little girl with bare legs and long golden curls,
was a being perfectly foreign to him, chiefly because she was
trained quite otherwise than he wished her to be. There sprung up
between the husband and wife the usual misunderstanding, without
even the wish to understand each other, and then a silent
warfare, hidden from outsiders and tempered by decorum. All this
made his life at home a burden, and became even less "the right
thing" than his service and his post.
But it was above all his attitude towards religion which was not
"the right thing." Like every one of his set and his time, by the
growth of his reason he broke without the least effort the nets
of the religious superstitions in which he was brought up, and
did not himself exactly know when it was that he freed himself of
them. Being earnest and upright, he did not, during his youth and
intimacy with Nekhludoff as a student, conceal his rejection of
the State religion. But as years went on and he rose in the
service, and especially at the time of the reaction towards
conservatism in society, his spiritual freedom stood in his way.
At home, when his father died, he had to be present at the masses
said for his soul, and his mother wished him to go to confession
or to communion, and it was in a way expected, by public opinion,
but above all, Government service demanded that he should be
present at all sorts of services, consecrations, thanksgivings,
and the like. Hardly a day passed without some outward religious
form having to be observed.
When present at these services he had to pretend that he believed
in something which he did not believe in, and being truthful he
could not do this. The alternative was, having made up his mind
that all these outward signs were deceitful, to alter his life in
such a way that he would not have to be present at such
ceremonials. But to do what seemed so simple would have cost a
great deal. Besides encountering the perpetual hostility of all
those who were near to him, he would have to give up the service
and his position, and sacrifice his hopes of being useful to
humanity by his service, now and in the future. To make such a
sacrifice one would have to be firmly convinced of being right.
And he was firmly convinced he was right, as no educated man of
our time can help being convinced who knows a little history and
how the religions, and especially Church Christianity,
But under the stress of his daily life he, a truthful man,
allowed a little falsehood to creep in. He said that in order to
do justice to an unreasonable thing one had to study the
unreasonable thing. It was a little falsehood, but it sunk him
into the big falsehood in which he was now caught.
Before putting to himself the question whether the orthodoxy in
which he was born and bred, and which every one expected him to
accept, and without which he could not continue his useful
occupation, contained the truth, he had already decided the
answer. And to clear up the question he did not read Voltaire,
Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer, or Comte, but the philosophical
works of Hegel and the religious works of Vinet and Khomyakoff,
and naturally found in them what he wanted, i.e., something like
peace of mind and a vindication of that religious teaching in
which he was educated, which his reason had long ceased to
accept, but without which his whole life was filled with
unpleasantness which could all be removed by accepting the
And so he adopted all the usual sophistries which go to prove
that a single human reason cannot know the truth, that the truth
is only revealed to an association of men, and can only be known
by revelation, that revelation is kept by the church, etc. And so
he managed to be present at prayers, masses for the dead, to
confess, make signs of the cross in front of icons, with a quiet
mind, without being conscious of the lie, and to continue in the
service which gave him the feeling of being useful and some
comfort in his joyless family life. Although he believed this, he
felt with his entire being that this religion of his, more than
all else, was not "the right thing," and that is why his eyes
always looked sad.
And seeing Nekhludoff, whom he had known before all these lies
had rooted themselves within him, reminded him of what he then
was. It was especially after he had hurried to hint at his
religious views that he had most strongly felt all this "not the
right thing," and had become painfully sad. Nekhludoff felt it
also after the first joy of meeting his old friend had passed,
and therefore, though they promised each other to meet, they did
not take any steps towards an interview, and did not again see
each other during this stay of Nekhludoff's in Petersburg.
MARIETTE TEMPTS NEKHLUDOFF.
When they left the Senate, Nekhludoff and the advocate walked on
together, the advocate having given the driver of his carriage
orders to follow them. The advocate told Nekhludoff the story of
the chief of a Government department, about whom the Senators had
been talking: how the thing was found out, and how the man, who
according to law should have been sent to the mines, had been
appointed Governor of a town in Siberia. Then he related with
particular pleasure how several high-placed persons stole a lot
of money collected for the erection of the still unfinished
monument which they had passed that morning; also, how the
mistress of So-and-so got a lot of money at the Stock Exchange,
and how So-and-so agreed with So-and-so to sell him his wife. The
advocate began another story about a swindle, and all sorts of
crimes committed by persons in high places, who, instead of being
in prison, sat on presidential chairs in all sorts of Government
institutions. These tales, of which the advocate seemed to have
an unending supply, gave him much pleasure, showing as they did,
with perfect clearness, that his means of getting money were
quite just and innocent compared to the means which the highest
officials in Petersburg made use of. The advocate was therefore
surprised when Nekhludoff took an isvostchik before hearing the
end of the story, said good-bye, and left him. Nekhludoff felt
very sad. It was chiefly the rejection of the appeal by the
Senate, confirming the senseless torments that the innocent
Maslova was enduring, that saddened him, and also the fact that
this rejection made it still harder for him to unite his fate
with hers. The stories about existing evils, which the advocate
recounted with such relish, heightened his sadness, and so did
the cold, unkind look that the once sweet-natured, frank, noble
Selenin had given him, and which kept recurring to his mind.
On his return the doorkeeper handed him a note, and said, rather
scornfully, that some kind of woman had written it in the hall.
It was a note from Shoustova's mother. She wrote that she had
come to thank her daughter's benefactor and saviour, and to
implore him to come to see them on the Vasilievsky, Sth Line,
house No. --. This was very necessary because of Vera Doukhova.
He need not be afraid that they would weary him with expressions
of gratitude. They would not speak their gratitude, but be simply
glad to see him. Would he not come next morning, if he could?
There was another note from Bogotyreff, a former fellow-officer,
aide-de-camp to the Emperor, whom Nekhludoff had asked to hand
personally to the Emperor his petition on behalf of the
sectarians. Bogotyreff wrote, in his large, firm hand, that he
would put the petition into the Emperor's own hands, as he had
promised; but that it had occurred to him that it might be better
for Nekhludoff first to go and see the person on whom the matter
After the impressions received during the last few days,
Nekhludoff felt perfectly hopeless of getting anything done. The
plans he had formed in Moscow seemed now something like the
dreams of youth, which are inevitably followed by disillusion
when life comes to be faced. Still, being now in Petersburg, he
considered it his duty to do all he had intended, and he resolved
next day, after consulting Bogotyreff, to act on his advice and
see the person on whom the case of the sectarians depended.
He got out the sectarians' petition from his portfolio, and began
reading it over, when there was a knock at his door, and a
footman came in with a message from the Countess Katerina
Ivanovna, who asked him to come up and have a cup of tea with
Nekhludoff said he would come at once, and having put the papers
back into the portfolio, he went up to his aunt's. He looked out
of a window on his way, and saw Mariette's pair of bays standing
in front of the house, and he suddenly brightened and felt
inclined to smile.
Mariette, with a hat on her head, not in black but with a light
dress of many shades, sat with a cup in her hand beside the
Countess's easy chair, prattling about something while her
beautiful, laughing eyes glistened. She had said something
funny--something indecently funny--just as Nekhludoff entered the
room. He knew it by the way she laughed, and by the way the
good-natured Countess Katerina Ivanovna's fat body was shaking
with laughter; while Mariette, her smiling mouth slightly drawn
to one side, her head a little bent, a peculiarly mischievous
expression in her merry, energetic face, sat silently looking at
her companion. From a few words which he overheard, Nekhludoff
guessed that they were talking of the second piece of Petersburg
news, the episode of the Siberian Governor, and that it was in
reference to this subject that Mariette had said something so
funny that the Countess could not control herself for a long
"You will kill me," she said, coughing.
After saying "How d'you do?" Nekhludoff sat down. He was about to
censure Mariette in his mind for her levity when, noticing the
serious and even slightly dissatisfied look in his eyes, she
suddenly, to please him, changed not only the expression of her
face, but also the attitude of her mind; for she felt the wish to
please him as soon as she looked at him. She suddenly turned
serious, dissatisfied with her life, as if seeking and striving
after something; it was not that she pretended, but she really
reproduced in herself the very same state of mind that he was in,
although it would have been impossible for her to express in
words what was the state of Nekhludoff's mind at that moment.
She asked him how he had accomplished his tasks. He told her
about his failure in the Senate and his meeting Selenin.
"Oh, what a pure soul! He is, indeed, a chevalier sans peur et
sans reproche. A pure soul!" said both ladies, using the epithet
commonly applied to Selenin in Petersburg society.
"What is his wife like?" Nekhludoff asked.
"His wife? Well, I do not wish to judge, but she does not
"Is it possible that he, too, was for rejecting the appeal?"
Mariette asked with real sympathy. "It is dreadful. How sorry I
am for her," she added with a sigh.
He frowned, and in order to change the subject began to speak
about Shoustova, who had been imprisoned in the fortress and was
now set free through the influence of Mariette's husband. He
thanked her for her trouble, and was going on to say how dreadful
he thought it, that this woman and the whole of her family had
suffered merely, because no one had reminded the authorities
about them, but Mariette interrupted him and expressed her own
"Say nothing about it to me," she said. "When my husband told me
she could be set free, it was this that struck me, 'What was she
kept in prison for if she is innocent?'" She went on expressing
what Nekhludoff was about to say.
"It is revolting--revolting."
Countess Katerina Ivanovna noticed that Mariette was coquetting
with her nephew, and this amused her. "What do you think?" she
said, when they were silent. "Supposing you come to Aline's
to-morrow night. Kiesewetter will be there. And you, too," she
said, turning to Mariette. "_Il vous a remarque_," she went on to
her nephew. "He told me that what you say (I repeated it all to
him) is a very good sign, and that you will certainly come to
Christ. You must come absolutely. Tell him to, Mariette, and come
"Countess, in the first place, I have no right whatever to give
any kind of advice to the Prince," said Mariette, and gave
Nekhludoff a look that somehow established a full comprehension
between them of their attitude in relation to the Countess's
words and evangelicalism in general. "Secondly, I do not much
care, you know."
"Yes, I know you always do things the wrong way round, and
according to your own ideas."
"My own ideas? I have faith like the most simple peasant woman,"
said Mariette with a smile. "And, thirdly, I am going to the
French Theatre to-morrow night."
"Ah! And have you seen that--What's her name?" asked Countess
Katerina Ivanovna. Mariette gave the name of a celebrated French
"You must go, most decidedly; she is wonderful."
"Whom am I to see first, ma tante--the actress or the preacher?"
Nekhludoff said with a smile.
"Please don't catch at my words."
"I should think the preacher first and then the actress, or else
the desire for the sermon might vanish altogether," said
"No; better begin with the French Theatre, and do penance
"Now, then, you are not to hold me up for ridicule. The preacher
is the preacher and the theatre is the theatre. One need not weep
in order to be saved. One must have faith, and then one is sure
to be gay."
"You, ma tante, preach better than any preacher."
"Do you know what?" said Mariette. "Come into my box to-morrow."
"I am afraid I shall not be able to."
The footman interrupted the conversation by announcing a visitor.
It was the secretary of a philanthropic society of which the
Countess was president.
"Oh, that is the dullest of men. I think I shall receive him out
there, and return to you later on. Mariette, give him his tea,"
said the Countess, and left the room, with her quick, wriggling
Mariette took the glove off her firm, rather flat hand, the
fourth finger of which was covered with rings.
"Want any?" she said, taking hold of the silver teapot, under
which a spirit lamp was burning, and extending her little finger
curiously. Her face looked sad and serious.
"It is always terribly painful to me to notice that people whose
opinion I value confound me with the position I am placed in."
She seemed ready to cry as she said these last words. And though
these words had no meaning, or at any rate a very indefinite
meaning, they seemed to be of exceptional depth, meaning, or
goodness to Nekhludoff, so much was he attracted by the look of
the bright eyes which accompanied the words of this young,
beautiful, and well-dressed woman.
Nekhludoff looked at her in silence, and could not take his eyes
from her face.
"You think I do not understand you and all that goes on in you.
Why, everybody knows what you are doing. _C'est le secret de
polichinelle_. And I am delighted with your work, and think highly
"Really, there is nothing to be delighted with; and I have done
so little as Yet."
"No matter. I understand your feelings, and I understand her.
All right, all right. I will say nothing more about it," she
said, noticing displeasure on his face. "But I also understand
that after seeing all the suffering and the horror in the
prisons," Mariette went on, her only desire that of attracting
him, and guessing with her woman's instinct what was dear and
important to him, "you wish to help the sufferers, those who are
made to suffer so terribly by other men, and their cruelty and
indifference. I understand the willingness to give one's life,
and could give mine in such a cause, but we each have our own
"Are you, then, dissatisfied with your fate?"
"I?" she asked, as if struck with surprise that such a question
could be put to her. "I have to be satisfied, and am satisfied.
But there is a worm that wakes up--"
"And he must not be allowed to fall asleep again. It is a voice
that must he obeyed," Nekhludoff said, failing into the trap.
Many a time later on Nekhludoff remembered with shame his talk
with her. He remembered her words, which were not so much lies as
imitations of his own, and her face, which seemed looking at him
with sympathetic attention when he told her about the terrors of
the prison and of his impressions in the country.
When the Countess returned they were talking not merely like old,
but like exclusive friends who alone understood one another. They
were talking about the injustice of power, of the sufferings of
the unfortunate, the poverty of the people, yet in reality in the
midst of the sound of their talk their eyes, gazing at each
other, kept asking, "Can you love me?" and answering, "I can,"
and the sex-feeling, taking the most unexpected and brightest
forms, drew them to each other. As she was going away she told
him that she would always he willing to serve him in any way she
could, and asked him to come and see her, if only for a moment,
in the theatre next day, as she had a very important thing to
tell him about.
"Yes, and when shall I see you again?" she added, with a sigh,
carefully drawing the glove over her jewelled hand.
"Say you will come."
That night, when Nekhludoff was alone in his room, and lay down
after putting out his candle, he could not sleep. He thought of
Maslova, of the decision of the Senate, of his resolve to follow
her in any case, of his having given up the land. The face of
Mariette appeared to him as if in answer to those thoughts--her
look, her sigh, her words, "When shall I see you again?" and her
smile seemed vivid as if he really saw her, and he also smiled.
"Shall I be doing right in going to Siberia? And have I done
right in divesting myself of my wealth?" And the answers to the
questions on this Petersburg night, on which the daylight
streamed into the window from under the blind, were quite
indefinite. All seemed mixed in his head. He recalled his former
state of mind, and the former sequence of his thoughts, but they
had no longer their former power or validity.
"And supposing I have invented all this, and am unable to live it
through--supposing I repent of having acted right," he thought;
and unable to answer he was seized with such anguish and despair
as he had long not felt. Unable to free himself from his
perplexity, he fell into a heavy sleep, such as he had slept
after a heavy loss at cards.
LYDIA SHOUSTOVA'S HOME.
Nekhludoff awoke next morning feeling as if he had been guilty of
some iniquity the day before. He began considering. He could not
remember having done anything wrong; he had committed no evil
act, but he had had evil thoughts. He had thought that all his
present resolutions to marry Katusha and to give up his land were
unachievable dreams; that he should be unable to bear it; that it
was artificial, unnatural; and that he would have to go on living
as he lived.
He had committed no evil action, but, what was far worse than an
evil action, he had entertained evil thoughts whence all evil
actions proceed. An evil action may not be repeated, and can be
repented of; but evil thoughts generate all evil actions.
An evil action only smooths the path for other evil acts; evil
thoughts uncontrollably drag one along that path.
When Nekhludoff repeated in his mind the thoughts of the day
before, he was surprised that he could for a moment have believed
these thoughts. However new and difficult that which he had
decided to do might be, he knew that it was the only possible way
of life for him now, and however easy and natural it might have
been to return to his former state, he knew that state to be
Yesterday's temptation seemed like the feeling when one awakes
from deep sleep, and, without feeling sleepy, wants to lie
comfortably in bed a little longer, yet knows that it is time to
rise and commence the glad and important work that awaits one.
On that, his last day in Petersburg, he went in the morning to
the Vasilievski Ostrov to see Shoustova. Shoustova lived on the
second floor, and having been shown the back stairs, Nekhludoff
entered straight into the hot kitchen, which smelt strongly of
food. An elderly woman, with turned-up sleeves, with an apron and
spectacles, stood by the fire stirring something in a steaming
"Whom do you want?" she asked severely, looking at him over her
Before Nekhludoff had time to answer, an expression of fright and
joy appeared on her face.
"Oh, Prince!" she exclaimed, wiping her hands on her apron. "But
why have you come the back way? Our Benefactor! I am her mother.
They have nearly killed my little girl. You have saved us," she
said, catching hold of Nekhludoff's hand and trying to kiss it.
"I went to see you yesterday. My sister asked me to. She is here.
This way, this way, please," said Shoustova's mother, as she led
the way through a narrow door, and a dark passage, arranging her
hair and pulling at her tucked-up skirt. "My sister's name is
Kornilova. You must have heard of her," she added, stopping
before a closed door. "She was mixed up in a political affair.
An extremely clever woman!"
Shoustova's mother opened the door and showed Nekhludoff into a
little room where on a sofa with a table before it sat a plump,
short girl with fair hair that curled round her pale, round face,
which was very like her mother's. She had a striped cotton blouse
Opposite her, in an armchair, leaning forward, so that he was
nearly bent double, sat a young fellow with a slight, black beard
"Lydia, Prince Nekhludoff!" he said.
The pale girl jumped up, nervously pushing back a lock of hair
behind her ear, and gazing at the newcomer with a frightened look
in her large, grey eyes.
"So you are that dangerous woman whom Vera Doukhova wished me to
intercede for?" Nekhludoff asked, with a smile.
"Yes, I am," said Lydia Shoustova, her broad, kind, child-like
smile disclosing a row of beautiful teeth. "It was aunt who was
so anxious to see you. Aunt!" she called out, in a pleasant,
tender voice through a door.
"Your imprisonment grieved Vera Doukhova very much," said
"Take a seat here, or better here," said Shoustova, pointing to
the battered easy-chair from which the young man had just risen.
"My cousin, Zakharov," she said, noticing that Nekhludoff looked
at the young man.
The young man greeted the visitor with a smile as kindly as
Shoustova's, and when Nekhludoff sat down he brought himself
another chair, and sat by his side. A fair-haired schoolboy of
about 10 also came into the room and silently sat down on the
"Vera Doukhova is a great friend of my aunt's, but I hardly know
her," said Shoustova.
Then a woman with a very pleasant face, with a white blouse and
leather belt, came in from the next room.
"How do you do? Thanks for coming," she began as soon as she had
taken the place next Shoustova's on the sofa.
"Well, and how is Vera. You have seen her? How does she bear her
"She does not complain," said Nekhludoff. "She says she feels
"Ah, that's like Vera. I know her," said the aunt, smiling and
shaking her head. "One must know her. She has a fine character.
Everything for others; nothing for herself."
"No, she asked nothing for herself, but only seemed concerned
about your niece. What seemed to trouble her most was, as she
said, that your niece was imprisoned for nothing."
"Yes, that's true," said the aunt. "It is a dreadful business.
She suffered, in reality, because of me."
"Not at all, aunt. I should have taken the papers without you all
"Allow me to know better," said the aunt. "You see," she went on
to Nekhludoff, "it all happened because a certain person asked me
to keep his papers for a time, and I, having no house at the
time, brought them to her. And that very night the police
searched her room and took her and the papers, and have kept her
up to now, demanding that she should say from whom she had them."
"But I never told them," said Shoustova quickly, pulling
nervously at a lock that was not even out of place.
"I never said you did" answered the aunt.
"If they took Mitin up it was certainly not through me," said
Shoustova, blushing, and looking round uneasily.
"Don't speak about it, Lydia dear," said her mother.
"Why not? I should like to relate it," said Shoustova, no longer
smiling nor pulling her lock, but twisting it round her finger
and getting redder.
"Don't forget what happened yesterday when you began talking
"Not at all---Leave me alone, mamma. I did not tell, I only kept
quiet. When he examined me about Mitin and about aunt, I said
nothing, and told him I would not answer."
"Petrov is a spy, a gendarme, and a blackguard," put in the aunt,
to explain her niece's words to Nekhludoff.
"Then he began persuading," continued Shoustova, excitedly and
hurriedly. "'Anything you tell me,' he said, 'can harm no one; on
the contrary, if you tell me, we may be able to set free innocent
people whom we may be uselessly tormenting.' Well, I still said I
would not tell. Then he said, 'All right, don't tell, but do not
deny what I am going to say.' And he named Mitin."
"Don't talk about it," said the aunt.
"Oh, aunt, don't interrupt," and she went on pulling the lock of
hair and looking round. "And then, only fancy, the next day I
hear--they let me know by knocking at the wall--that Mitin is
arrested. Well, I think I have betrayed him, and this tormented
me so--it tormented me so that I nearly went mad."
"And it turned out that it was not at all because of you he was
"Yes, but I didn't know. I think, 'There, now, I have betrayed
him.' I walk and walk up and down from wall to wall, and cannot
help thinking. I think, 'I have betrayed him.' I lie down and
cover myself up, and hear something whispering, 'Betrayed!
betrayed Mitin! Mitin betrayed!' I know it is an hallucination,
but cannot help listening. I wish to fall asleep, I cannot. I
wish not to think, and cannot cease. That is terrible!" and as
Shoustova spoke she got more and more excited, and twisted and
untwisted the lock of hair round her finger.
"Lydia, dear, be calm," the mother said, touching her shoulder.
But Shoustova could not stop herself.
"It is all the more terrible--" she began again, but did not
finish, and jumping up with a cry rushed out of the room.
Her mother turned to follow her.
"They ought to be hanged, the rascals!" said the schoolboy who
was sitting on the window-sill.
"What's that?" said the mother.
"I only said--Oh, it's nothing," the schoolboy answered, and
taking a cigarette that lay on the table, he began to smoke.
"Yes, that solitary confinement is terrible for the young," said
the aunt, shaking her head and also lighting a cigarette.
"I should say for every one," Nekhludoff replied.
"No, not for all," answered the aunt. "For the real
revolutionists, I have been told, it is rest and quiet. A man who
is wanted by the police lives in continual anxiety, material
want, and fear for himself and others, and for his cause, and at
last, when he is taken up and it is all over, and all
responsibility is off his shoulders, he can sit and rest. I have
been told they actually feel joyful when taken up. But the young
and innocent (they always first arrest the innocent, like Lydia),
for them the first shock is terrible. It is not that they deprive
you of freedom; and the bad food and bad air--all that is
nothing. Three times as many privations would be easily borne if
it were not for the moral shock when one is first taken."
"Have you experienced it?"
"I? I was twice in prison," she answered, with a sad, gentle
smile. "When I was arrested for the first time I had done
nothing. I was 22, had a child, and was expecting another. Though
the loss of freedom and the parting with my child and husband
were hard, they were nothing when compared with what I felt when
I found out that I had ceased being a human creature and had
become a thing. I wished to say good-bye to my little daughter. I
was told to go and get into the trap. I asked where I was being
taken to. The answer was that I should know when I got there. I
asked what I was accused of, but got no reply. After I had been
examined, and after they had undressed me and put numbered prison
clothes on me, they led me to a vault, opened a door, pushed me
in, and left me alone; a sentinel, with a loaded gun, paced up
and down in front of my door, and every now and then looked in
through a crack--I felt terribly depressed. What struck me most
at the time was that the gendarme officer who examined me offered
me a cigarette. So he knew that people liked smoking, and must
know that they liked freedom and light; and that mothers love
their children, and children their mothers. Then how could they
tear me pitilessly from all that was dear to me, and lock me up
in prison like a wild animal? That sort of thing could not be
borne without evil effects. Any one who believes in God and men,
and believes that men love one another, will cease to believe it
after all that. I have ceased to believe in humanity since then,
and have grown embittered," she finished, with a smile.
Shoustova's mother came in at the door through which her daughter
had gone out, and said that Lydia was very much upset, and would
not come in again.
"And what has this young life been ruined for?" said the aunt.
"What is especially painful to me is that I am the involuntary
cause of it."
"She will recover in the country, with God's help," said the
mother. "We shall send her to her father."
"Yes, if it were not for you she would have perished altogether,"
said the aunt. "Thank you. But what I wished to see you for is
this: I wished to ask you to take a letter to Vera Doukhova," and
she got the letter out of her pocket.
"The letter is not closed; you may read and tear it up, or hand
it to her, according to how far it coincides with your
principles," she said. "It contains nothing compromising."
Nekhludoff took the letter, and, having promised to give it to
Vera Doukhova, he took his leave and went away. He scaled the
letter without reading it, meaning to take it to its destination.
THE STATE CHURCH AND THE PEOPLE.
The last thing that kept Nekhludoff in Petersburg was the case of
the sectarians, whose petition he intended to get his former
fellow-officer, Aide-de-camp Bogatyreff, to hand to the Tsar. He
came to Bogatyreff in the morning, and found him about to go out,
though still at breakfast. Bogatyreff was not tall, but firmly
built and wonderfully strong (he could bend a horseshoe), a kind,
honest, straight, and even liberal man. In spite of these
qualities, he was intimate at Court, and very fond of the Tsar
and his family, and by some strange method he managed, while
living in that highest circle, to see nothing but the good in it
and to take no part in the evil and corruption. He never
condemned anybody nor any measure, and either kept silent or
spoke in a bold, loud voice, almost shouting what he had to say,
and often laughing in the same boisterous manner. And he did not