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The Cossacks by Leo Tolstoy

Part 3 out of 4

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does he come of? ... the Broad, eh?'

'His nephew,' replied the corporal.

'I know, I know. Well, lend a hand, help them,' he said, turning
to the Cossacks.

Lukashka's face shone with joy and seemed handsomer than usual. He
moved away from the corporal, and having put on his cap sat down
beside Olenin.

When the body had been carried to the skiff the brother Chechen
descended to the bank. The Cossacks involuntarily stepped aside to
let him pass. He jumped into the boat and pushed off from the bank
with his powerful leg, and now, as Olenin noticed, for the first
time threw a rapid glance at all the Cossacks and then abruptly
asked his companion a question. The latter answered something and
pointed to Lukashka. The Chechen looked at him and, turning slowly
away, gazed at the opposite bank. That look expressed not hatred
but cold contempt. He again made some remark.

'What is he saying?' Olenin asked of the fidgety scout.

'Yours kill ours, ours slay yours. It's always the same,' replied
the scout, evidently inventing, and he smiled, showing his white
teeth, as he jumped into the skiff.

The dead man's brother sat motionless, gazing at the opposite
bank. He was so full of hatred and contempt that there was nothing
on this side of the river that moved his curiosity. The scout,
standing up at one end of the skiff and dipping his paddle now on
one side now on the other, steered skilfully while talking
incessantly. The skiff became smaller and smaller as it moved
obliquely across the stream, the voices became scarcely audible,
and at last, still within sight, they landed on the opposite bank
where their horses stood waiting. There they lifted out the corpse
and (though the horse shied) laid it across one of the saddles,
mounted, and rode at a foot-pace along the road past a Tartar
village from which a crowd came out to look at them. The Cossacks
on the Russian side of the river were highly satisfied and jovial.
Laughter and jokes were heard on all sides. The captain and the
head of the village entered the mud hut to regale themselves.
Lukashka, vainly striving to impart a sedate expression to his
merry face, sat down with his elbows on his knees beside Olenin
and whittled away at a stick.

'Why do you smoke?' he said with assumed curiosity. 'Is it good?'

He evidently spoke because he noticed Olenin felt ill at ease and
isolated among the Cossacks.

'It's just a habit,' answered Olenin. 'Why?'

'H'm, if one of us were to smoke there would be a row! Look there
now, the mountains are not far off,' continued Lukashka, 'yet you
can't get there! How will you get back alone? It's getting dark.
I'll take you, if you like. You ask the corporal to give me

'What a fine fellow!' thought Olenin, looking at the Cossack's
bright face. He remembered Maryanka and the kiss he had heard by
the gate, and he was sorry for Lukashka and his want of culture.
'What confusion it is,' he thought. 'A man kills another and is
happy and satisfied with himself as if he had done something
excellent. Can it be that nothing tells him that it is not a
reason for any rejoicing, and that happiness lies not in killing,
but in sacrificing oneself?'

'Well, you had better not meet him again now, mate!' said one of
the Cossacks who had seen the skiff off, addressing Lukashka. 'Did
you hear him asking about you?'

Lukashka raised his head.

'My godson?' said Lukashka, meaning by that word the dead Chechen.

'Your godson won't rise, but the red one is the godson's brother!'

'Let him thank God that he got off whole himself,' replied

'What are you glad about?' asked Olenin. 'Supposing your brother
had been killed; would you be glad?'

The Cossack looked at Olenin with laughing eyes. He seemed to have
understood all that Olenin wished to say to him, but to be above
such considerations.

'Well, that happens too! Don't our fellows get killed sometimes?'

Chapter XXII

The Captain and the head of the village rode away, and Olenin, to
please Lukashka as well as to avoid going back alone through the
dark forest, asked the corporal to give Lukashka leave, and the
corporal did so. Olenin thought that Lukashka wanted to see
Maryanka and he was also glad of the companionship of such a
pleasant-looking and sociable Cossack. Lukashka and Maryanka he
involuntarily united in his mind, and he found pleasure in
thinking about them. 'He loves Maryanka,' thought Olenin, 'and I
could love her,' and a new and powerful emotion of tenderness
overcame him as they walked homewards together through the dark
forest. Lukashka too felt happy; something akin to love made
itself felt between these two very different young men. Every time
they glanced at one another they wanted to laugh.

'By which gate do you enter?' asked Olenin.

'By the middle one. But I'll see you as far as the marsh. After
that you have nothing to fear.'

Olenin laughed.

'Do you think I am afraid? Go back, and thank you. I can get on

'It's all right! What have I to do? And how can you help being
afraid? Even we are afraid,' said Lukashka to set Olenin's self-
esteem at rest, and he laughed too.

'Then come in with me. We'll have a talk and a drink and in the
morning you can go back.'

'Couldn't I find a place to spend the night?' laughed Lukashka.
'But the corporal asked me to go back.'

'I heard you singing last night, and also saw you.'

'Every one...' and Luke swayed his head.

'Is it true you are getting married?' asked Olenin.

'Mother wants me to marry. But I have not got a horse yet.'

'Aren't you in the regular service?'

'Oh dear no! I've only just joined, and have not got a horse yet,
and don't know how to get one. That's why the marriage does not
come off.'

'And what would a horse cost?'

'We were bargaining for one beyond the river the other day and
they would not take sixty rubles for it, though it is a Nogay

'Will you come and be my drabant?' (A drabant was a kind of
orderly attached to an officer when campaigning.) 'I'll get it
arranged and will give you a horse,' said Olenin suddenly. 'Really
now, I have two and I don't want both.'

'How--don't want it?' Lukashka said, laughing. 'Why should you
make me a present? We'll get on by ourselves by God's help.'

'No, really! Or don't you want to be a drabant?' said Olenin, glad
that it had entered his head to give a horse to Lukashka, though,
without knowing why, he felt uncomfortable and confused and did
not know what to say when he tried to speak.

Lukashka was the first to break the silence.

'Have you a house of your own in Russia?' he asked.

Olenin could not refrain from replying that he had not only one,
but several houses.

'A good house? Bigger than ours?' asked Lukashka good-naturedly.

'Much bigger; ten times as big and three storeys high,' replied

'And have you horses such as ours?'

'I have a hundred horses, worth three or four hundred rubles each,
but they are not like yours. They are trotters, you know.... But
still, I like the horses here best.'

'Well, and did you come here of your own free will, or were you
sent?' said Lukashka, laughing at him. 'Look! that's where you
lost your way,' he added, 'you should have turned to the right.'

'I came by my own wish,' replied Olenin. 'I wanted to see your
parts and to join some expeditions.'

'I would go on an expedition any day,' said Lukashka. 'D'you hear
the jackals howling?' he added, listening.

'I say, don't you feel any horror at having killed a man?' asked

'What's there to be frightened about? But I should like to join an
expedition,' Lukashka repeated. 'How I want to! How I want to!'

'Perhaps we may be going together. Our company is going before the
holidays, and your "hundred" too.'

'And what did you want to come here for? You've a house and horses
and serfs. In your place I'd do nothing but make merry! And what
is your rank?'

'I am a cadet, but have been recommended for a commission.'

'Well, if you're not bragging about your home, if I were you I'd
never have left it! Yes, I'd never have gone away anywhere. Do you
find it pleasant living among us?'

'Yes, very pleasant,' answered Olenin.

It had grown quite dark before, talking in this way, they
approached the village. They were still surrounded by the deep
gloom of the forest. The wind howled through the tree-tops. The
jackals suddenly seemed to be crying close beside them, howling,
chuckling, and sobbing; but ahead of them in the village the
sounds of women's voices and the barking of dogs could already be
heard; the outlines of the huts were clearly to be seen; lights
gleamed and the air was filled with the peculiar smell of kisyak
smoke. Olenin felt keenly, that night especially, that here in
this village was his home, his family, all his happiness, and that
he never had and never would live so happily anywhere as he did in
this Cossack village. He was so fond of everybody and especially
of Lukashka that night. On reaching home, to Lukashka's great
surprise, Olenin with his own hands led out of the shed a horse he
had bought in Groznoe--it was not the one he usually rode but
another--not a bad horse though no longer young, and gave it to

'Why should you give me a present?' said Lukashka, 'I have not yet
done anything for you.'

'Really it is nothing,' answered Olenin. 'Take it, and you will
give me a present, and we'll go on an expedition against the enemy

Lukashka became confused.

'But what d'you mean by it? As if a horse were of little value,'
he said without looking at the horse.

'Take it, take it! If you don't you will offend me. Vanyusha! Take
the grey horse to his house.'

Lukashka took hold of the halter.

'Well then, thank you! This is something unexpected, undreamt of.'

Olenin was as happy as a boy of twelve.

'Tie it up here. It's a good horse. I bought it in Groznoe; it
gallops splendidly! Vanyusha, bring us some chikhir. Come into the

The wine was brought. Lukashka sat down and took the wine-bowl.

'God willing I'll find a way to repay you,' he said, finishing his
wine. 'How are you called?'

'Dmitri Andreich.'

'Well, 'Mitry Andreich, God bless you. We will be kunaks. Now you
must come to see us. Though we are not rich people still we can
treat a kunak, and I will tell mother in case you need anything--
clotted cream or grapes--and if you come to the cordon I'm your
servant to go hunting or to go across the river, anywhere you
like! There now, only the other day, what a boar I killed, and I
divided it among the Cossacks, but if I had only known, I'd have
given it to you.' 'That's all right, thank you! But don't harness
the horse, it has never been in harness.'

'Why harness the horse? And there is something else I'll tell you
if you like,' said Lukashka, bending his head. 'I have a kunak,
Girey Khan. He asked me to lie in ambush by the road where they
come down from the mountains. Shall we go together? I'll not
betray you. I'll be your murid.'

'Yes, we'll go; we'll go some day.'

Lukashka seemed quite to have quieted down and to have understood
Olenin's attitude towards him. His calmness and the ease of his
behaviour surprised Olenin, and he did not even quite like it.
They talked long, and it was late when Lukashka, not tipsy (he
never was tipsy) but having drunk a good deal, left Olenin after
shaking hands.

Olenin looked out of the window to see what he would do. Lukashka
went out, hanging his head. Then, having led the horse out of the
gate, he suddenly shook his head, threw the reins of the halter
over its head, sprang onto its back like a cat, gave a wild shout,
and galloped down the street. Olenin expected that Lukishka would
go to share his joy with Maryanka, but though he did not do so
Olenin still felt his soul more at ease than ever before in his
life. He was as delighted as a boy, and could not refrain from
telling Vanyusha not only that he had given Lukashka the horse,
but also why he had done it, as well as his new theory of
happiness. Vanyusha did not approve of his theory, and announced
that 'l'argent il n'y a pas!' and that therefore it was all

Lukashka rode home, jumped off the horse, and handed it over to
his mother, telling her to let it out with the communal Cossack
herd. He himself had to return to the cordon that same night. His
deaf sister undertook to take the horse, and explained by signs
that when she saw the man who had given the horse, she would bow
down at his feet. The old woman only shook her head at her son's
story, and decided in her own mind that he had stolen it. She
therefore told the deaf girl to take it to the herd before

Lukashka went back alone to the cordon pondering over Olenin's
action. Though he did not consider the horse a good one, yet it
was worth at least forty rubles and Lukashka was very glad to have
the present. But why it had been given him he could not at all
understand, and therefore he did not experience the least feeling
of gratitude. On the contrary, vague suspicions that the cadet had
some evil intentions filled his mind. What those intentions were
he could not decide, but neither could he admit the idea that a
stranger would give him a horse worth forty rubles for nothing,
just out of kindness; it seemed impossible. Had he been drunk one
might understand it! He might have wished to show off. But the
cadet had been sober, and therefore must have wished to bribe him
to do something wrong. 'Eh, humbug!' thought Lukashka. 'Haven't I
got the horse and we'll see later on. I'm not a fool myself and we
shall see who'll get the better of the other,' he thought, feeling
the necessity of being on his guard, and therefore arousing in
himself unfriendly feelings towards Olenin. He told no one how he
had got the horse. To some he said he had bought it, to others he
replied evasively. However, the truth soon got about in the
village, and Lukashka's mother and Maryanka, as well as Elias
Vasilich and other Cossacks, when they heard of Olenin's
unnecessary gift, were perplexed, and began to be on their guard
against the cadet. But despite their fears his action aroused in
them a great respect for his simplicity and wealth.

'Have you heard,' said one, 'that the cadet quartered on Elias
Vasilich has thrown a fifty-ruble horse at Lukashka? He's
rich! ...'

'Yes, I heard of it,' replied another profoundly, 'he must have
done him some great service. We shall see what will come of this
cadet. Eh! what luck that Snatcher has!'

'Those cadets are crafty, awfully crafty,' said a third. 'See if
he don't go setting fire to a building, or doing something!'

Chapter XXIII

Olenin's life went on with monotonous regularity. He had little
intercourse with the commanding officers or with his equals. The
position of a rich cadet in the Caucasus was peculiarly
advantageous in this respect. He was not sent out to work, or for
training. As a reward for going on an expedition he was
recommended for a commission, and meanwhile he was left in peace.
The officers regarded him as an aristocrat and behaved towards him
with dignity. Cardplaying and the officers' carousals accompanied
by the soldier-singers, of which he had had experience when he was
with the detachment, did not seem to him attractive, and he also
avoided the society and life of the officers in the village. The
life of officers stationed in a Cossack village has long had its
own definite form. Just as every cadet or officer when in a fort
regularly drinks porter, plays cards, and discusses the rewards
given for taking part in the expeditions, so in the Cossack
villages he regularly drinks chikhir with his hosts, treats the
girls to sweet-meats and honey, dangles after the Cossack women,
and falls in love, and occasionally marries there. Olenin always
took his own path and had an unconscious objection to the beaten
tracks. And here, too, he did not follow the ruts of a Caucasian
officer's life.

It came quite naturally to him to wake up at daybreak. After
drinking tea and admiring from his porch the mountains, the
morning, and Maryanka, he would put on a tattered ox-hide coat,
sandals of soaked raw hide, buckle on a dagger, take a gun, put
cigarettes and some lunch in a little bag, call his dog, and soon
after five o'clock would start for the forest beyond the village.
Towards seven in the evening he would return tired and hungry with
five or six pheasants hanging from his belt (sometimes with some
other animal) and with his bag of food and cigarettes untouched.
If the thoughts in his head had lain like the lunch and cigarettes
in the bag, one might have seen that during all those fourteen
hours not a single thought had moved in it. He returned morally
fresh, strong, and perfectly happy, and he could not tell what he
had been thinking about all the time. Were they ideas, memories,
or dreams that had been flitting through his mind? They were
frequently all three. He would rouse himself and ask what he had
been thinking about; and would see himself as a Cossack working in
a vineyard with his Cossack wife, or an abrek in the mountains, or
a boar running away from himself. And all the time he kept peering
and watching for a pheasant, a boar, or a deer.

In the evening Daddy Eroshka would be sure to be sitting with him.
Vanyusha would bring a jug of chikhir, and they would converse
quietly, drink, and separate to go quite contentedly to bed. The
next day he would again go shooting, again be healthily weary,
again they would sit conversing and drink their fill, and again be
happy. Sometimes on a holiday or day of rest Olenin spent the
whole day at home. Then his chief occupation was watching
Maryanka, whose every movement, without realizing it himself, he
followed greedily from his window or his porch. He regarded
Maryanka and loved her (so he thought) just as he loved the beauty
of the mountains and the sky, and he had no thought of entering
into any relations with her. It seemed to him that between him and
her such relations as there were between her and the Cossack
Lukashka could not exist, and still less such as often existed
between rich officers and other Cossack girls. It seemed to him
that if he tried to do as his fellow officers did, he would
exchange his complete enjoyment of contemplation for an abyss of
suffering, disillusionment, and remorse. Besides, he had already
achieved a triumph of self-sacrifice in connexion with her which
had given him great pleasure, and above all he was in a way afraid
of Maryanka and would not for anything have ventured to utter a
word of love to her lightly.

Once during the summer, when Olenin had not gone out shooting but
was sitting at home, quite unexpectedly a Moscow acquaintance, a
very young man whom he had met in society, came in.

'Ah, mon cher, my dear fellow, how glad I was when I heard that
you were here!' he began in his Moscow French, and he went on
intermingling French words in his remarks. 'They said, "Olenin".
What Olenin? and I was so pleased.... Fancy fate bringing us
together here! Well, and how are you? How? Why?' and Prince
Beletski told his whole story: how he had temporarily entered the
regiment, how the. Commander-in-Chief had offered to take him as
an adjutant, and how he would take up the post after this campaign
although personally he felt quite indifferent about it.

'Living here in this hole one must at least make a career--get a
cross--or a rank--be transferred to the Guards. That is quite
indispensable, not for myself but for the sake of my relations and
friends. The prince received me very well; he is a very decent
fellow,' said Beletski, and went on unceasingly. 'I have been
recommended for the St. Anna Cross for the expedition. Now I shall
stay here a bit until we start on the campaign. It's capital here.
What women! Well, and how are you getting on? I was told by our
captain, Startsev you know, a kind-hearted stupid creature....
Well, he said you were living like an awful savage, seeing no one!
I quite understand you don't want to be mixed up with the set of
officers we have here. I am so glad now you and I will be able to
see something of one another. I have put up at the Cossack
corporal's house. There is such a girl there. Ustenka! I tell you
she's just charming.'

And more and more French and Russian words came pouring forth from
that world which Olenin thought he had left for ever. The general
opinion about Beletski was that he was a nice, good-natured
fellow. Perhaps he really was; but in spite of his pretty, good-
natured face, Olenin thought him extremely unpleasant. He seemed
just to exhale that filthiness which Olenin had forsworn. What
vexed him most was that he could not--had not the strength--
abruptly to repulse this man who came from that world: as if that
old world he used to belong to had an irresistible claim on him.
Olenin felt angry with Beletski and with himself, yet against his
wish he introduced French phrases into his own conversation, was
interested in the Commander-in-Chief and in their Moscow
acquaintances, and because in this Cossack village he and Beletski
both spoke French, he spoke contemptuously of their fellow
officers and of the Cossacks, and was friendly with Beletski,
promising to visit him and inviting him to drop in to see him.
Olenin however did not himself go to see Beletski. Vanyusha for
his part approved of Beletski, remarking that he was a real

Beletski at once adopted the customary life of a rich officer in a
Cossack village. Before Olenin's eyes, in one month he came to be
like an old resident of the village; he made the old men drunk,
arranged evening parties, and himself went to parties arranged by
the girls--bragged of his conquests, and even got so far that, for
some unknown reason, the women and girls began calling him
grandad, and the Cossacks, to whom a man who loved wine and women
was clearly understandable, got used to him and even liked him
better than they did Olenin, who was a puzzle to them.

Chapter XXIV

It was five in the morning. Vanyusha was in the porch heating the
samovar, and using the leg of a long boot instead of bellows.
Olenin had already ridden off to bathe in the Terek. (He had
recently invented a new amusement: to swim his horse in the
river.) His landlady was in her outhouse, and the dense smoke of
the kindling fire rose from the chimney. The girl was milking the
buffalo cow in the shed. 'Can't keep quiet, the damned thing!'
came her impatient voice, followed by the rhythmical sound of

From the street in front of the house horses' hoofs were heard
clattering briskly, and Olenin, riding bareback on a handsome
dark-grey horse which was still wet and shining, rode up to the
gate. Maryanka's handsome head, tied round with a red kerchief,
appeared from the shed and again disappeared. Olenin was wearing a
red silk shirt, a white Circassian coat girdled with a strap which
carried a dagger, and a tall cap. He sat his well-fed wet horse
with a slightly conscious elegance and, holding his gun at his
back, stooped to open the gate. His hair was still wet, and his
face shone with youth and health. He thought himself handsome,
agile, and like a brave; but he was mistaken. To any experienced
Caucasian he was still only a soldier. When he noticed that the
girl had put out her head he stooped with particular rested on the
ground without altering their shape; how her strong arms with the
sleeves rolled up, exerting the muscles, used the spade almost as
if in anger, and how her deep dark eyes sometimes glanced at him.
Though the delicate brows frowned, yet her eyes expressed pleasure
and a knowledge of her own beauty.

'I say, Olenin, have you been up long?' said Beletski as he
entered the yard dressed in the coat of a Caucasian officer.

'Ah, Beletski,' replied Olenin, holding out his hand. 'How is it
you are out so early?'

'I had to. I was driven out; we are having a ball tonight.
Maryanka, of course you'll come to Ustenka's?' he added, turning
to the girl.

Olenin felt surprised that Beletski could address this woman so
easily. But Maryanka, as though she had not heard him, bent her
head, and throwing the spade across her shoulder went with her
firm masculine tread towards the outhouse.

'She's shy, the wench is shy,' Beletski called after her. 'Shy of
you,' he added as, smiling gaily, he ran up the steps of the

'How is it you are having a ball and have been driven out?'

'It's at Ustenka's, at my landlady's, that the ball is, and you
two are invited. A ball consists of a pie and a gathering of

'What should we do there?'

Beletski smiled knowingly and winked, jerking his head in the
direction of the outhouse into which Maryanka had disappeared.

Olenin shrugged his shoulders and blushed.

'Well, really you are a strange fellow!' said he.

'Come now, don't pretend'

Olenin frowned, and Beletski noticing this smiled insinuatingly.
'Oh, come, what do you mean?' he said, 'living in the same house--
and such a fine girl, a splendid girl, a perfect beauty'

'Wonderfully beautiful! I never saw such a woman before,' replied

'Well then?' said Beletski, quite unable to understand the

'It may be strange,' replied Olenin, 'but why should I not say
what is true? Since I have lived here women don't seem to exist
for me. And it is so good, really! Now what can there be in common
between us and women like these? Eroshka--that's a different
matter! He and I have a passion in common--sport.'

'There now! In common! And what have I in common with Amalia
Ivanovna? It's the same thing! You may say they're not very clean-
-that's another matter... A la guerre, comme a la guerre! ...'

'But I have never known any Amalia Ivanovas, and have never known
how to behave with women of that sort,' replied Olenin. 'One
cannot respect them, but these I do respect.'

'Well go on respecting them! Who wants to prevent you?'

Olenin did not reply. He evidently wanted to complete. what he had
begun to say. It was very near his heart.

'I know I am an exception...' He was visibly confused. 'But my
life has so shaped itself that I not only see no necessity to
renounce my rules, but I could not live here, let alone live as
happily as I am doing, were I to live as you do. Therefore I look
for something quite different from what you look for.'

Beletski raised his eyebrows incredulously. 'Anyhow, come to me
this evening; Maryanka will be there and I will make you
acquainted. Do come, please! If you feel dull you can go away.
Will you come?'

'I would come, but to speak frankly I am afraid of being'
seriously carried away.'

'Oh, oh, oh!' shouted Beletski. 'Only come, and I'll see that you
aren't. Will you? On your word?'

'I would come, but really I don't understand what we shall do;
what part we shall play!'

'Please, I beg of you. You will come?'

'Yes, perhaps I'll come,' said Olenin.

'Really now! Charming women such as one sees nowhere else, and to
live like a monk! What an idea! Why spoil your life and not make
use of what is at hand? Have you heard that our company is ordered
to Vozdvizhensk?'

'Hardly. I was told the 8th Company would be sent there,' said

'No. I have had a letter from the adjutant there. He writes that
the Prince himself will take part in the campaign. I am very glad
I shall see something of him. I'm beginning to get tired of this

'I hear we shall start on a raid soon.'

'I have not heard of it; but I have heard that Krinovitsin has
received the Order of St. Anna for a raid. He expected a
lieutenancy,' said Beletski laughing. 'He was let in! He has set
off for headquarters.'

It was growing dusk and Olenin began thinking about the party. The
invitation he had received worried him. He felt inclined to go,
but what might take place there seemed strange, absurd, and even
rather alarming. He knew that neither Cossack men nor older women,
nor anyone besides the girls, were to be there. What was going to
happen? How was he to behave? What would they talk about? What
connexion was there between him and those wild Cossack girls?
Beletski had told him of such curious, cynical, and yet rigid
relations. It seemed strange to think that he would be there in
the same hut with Maryanka and perhaps might have to talk to her.
It seemed to him impossible when he remembered her majestic
bearing. But Beletski spoke of it as if it were all perfectly
simple. 'Is it possible that Beletski will treat Maryanka in the
same way? That is interesting,' thought he. 'No, better not go.
It's all so horrid, so vulgar, and above all--it leads to
nothing!' But again he was worried by the question of what would
take place; and besides he felt as if bound by a promise. He went
out without having made up his mind one way or the other, but he
walked as far as Beletski's, and went in there.

The hut in which Beletski lived was like Olenin's. It was raised
nearly five feet from the ground on wooden piles, and had two
rooms. In the first (which Olenin entered by the steep flight of
steps) feather beds, rugs, blankets, and cushions were tastefully
and handsomely arranged, Cossack fashion, along the main wall. On
the side wall hung brass basins and weapons, while on the floor,
under a bench, lay watermelons and pumpkins. In the second room
there was a big brick oven, a table, and sectarian icons. It was
here that Beletski was quartered, with his camp-bed and his pack
and trunks. His weapons hung on the wall with a little rug behind
them, and on the table were his toilet appliances and some
portraits. A silk dressing-gown had been thrown on the bench.
Beletski himself, clean and good-looking, lay on the bed in his
underclothing, reading Les Trois Mousquetaires.

He jumped up.

'There, you see how I have arranged things. Fine! Well, it's good
that you have come. They are working furiously. Do you know what
the pie is made of? Dough with a stuffing of pork and grapes. But
that's not the point. You just look at the commotion out there!'

And really, on looking out of the window they saw an unusual
bustle going on in the hut. Girls ran in and out, now for one
thing and now for another.

'Will it soon be ready?' cried Beletski.

'Very soon! Why? Is Grandad hungry?' and from the hut came the
sound of ringing laughter.

Ustenka, plump, small, rosy, and pretty, with her sleeves turned
up, ran into Beletski's hut to fetch some plates.

'Get away or I shall smash the plates!' she squeaked, escaping
from Beletski. 'You'd better come and help,' she shouted to
Olenin, laughing. 'And don't forget to get some refreshments for
the girls.' ('Refreshments' meaning spicebread and sweets.)

'And has Maryanka come?'

'Of course! She brought some dough.'

'Do you know,' said Beletski, 'if one were to dress Ustenka up and
clean and polish her up a bit, she'd be better than all our
beauties. Have you ever seen that Cossack woman who married a
colonel; she was charming! Borsheva? What dignity! Where do they
get it...'

'I have not seen Borsheva, but I think nothing could be better
than the costume they wear here.'

'Ah, I'm first-rate at fitting into any kind of life,' said
Beletski with a sigh of pleasure. 'I'll go and see what they are
up to.'

He threw his dressing-gown over his shoulders and ran out,
shouting, 'And you look after the "refreshments".'

Olenin sent Beletski's orderly to buy spice-bread and honey; but
it suddenly seemed to him so disgusting to give money (as if he
were bribing someone) that he gave no definite reply to the
orderly's question: 'How much spice-bread with peppermint, and how
much with honey?'

'Just as you please.'

'Shall I spend all the money,' asked the old soldier impressively.
'The peppermint is dearer. It's sixteen kopeks.'

'Yes, yes, spend it all,' answered Olenin and sat down by the
window, surprised that his heart was thumping as if he were
preparing himself for something serious and wicked.

He heard screaming and shrieking in the girls' hut when Beletski
went there, and a few moments later saw how he jumped out and ran
down the steps, accompanied by shrieks, bustle, and laughter.

'Turned out,' he said.

A little later Ustenka entered and solemnly invited her visitors
to come in: announcing that all was ready.

When they came into the room they saw that everything was really
ready. Ustenka was rearranging the cushions along the wall. On the
table, which was covered by a disproportionately small cloth, was
a decanter of chikhir and some dried fish. The room smelt of dough
and grapes. Some half dozen girls in smart tunics, with their
heads not covered as usual with kerchiefs, were huddled together
in a corner behind the oven, whispering, giggling, and spluttering
with laughter.

'I humbly beg you to do honour to my patron saint,' said Ustenka,
inviting her guests to the table.

Olenin noticed Maryanka among the group of girls, who without
exception were all handsome, and he felt vexed and hurt that he
met her in such vulgar and awkward circumstances. He felt stupid
and awkward, and made up his mind to do what Beletski did.
Beletski stepped to the table somewhat solemnly yet with
confidence and ease, drank a glass of wine to Ustenka's health,
and invited the others to do the same. Ustenka announced that
girls don't drink. 'We might with a little honey,' exclaimed a
voice from among the group of girls. The orderly, who had just
returned with the honey and spice-cakes, was called in. He looked
askance (whether with envy or with contempt) at the gentlemen, who
in his opinion were on the spree; and carefully and
conscientiously handed over to them a piece of honeycomb and the
cakes wrapped up in a piece of greyish paper, and began explaining
circumstantially all about the price and the change, but Beletski
sent him away. Having mixed honey with wine in the glasses, and
having lavishly scattered the three pounds of spice-cakes on the
table, Beletski dragged the girls from their comers by force, made
them sit down at the table, and began distributing the cakes among
them. Olenin involuntarily noticed how Maryanka's sunburnt but
small hand closed on two round peppermint nuts and one brown one,
and that she did not know what to do with them. The conversation
was halting and constrained, in spite of Ustenka's and Beletski's
free and easy manner and their wish to enliven the company. Olenin
faltered, and tried to think of something to say, feeling that he
was exciting curiosity and perhaps provoking ridicule and
infecting the others with his shyness. He blushed, and it seemed
to him that Maryanka in particular was feeling uncomfortable.
'Most likely they are expecting us to give them some money,'
thought he. 'How are we to do it? And how can we manage quickest
to give it and get away?'

Chapter XXV

'How is it you don't know your own lodger?' said Beletski,
addressing Maryanka.

'How is one to know him if he never comes to see us?' answered
Maryanka, with a look at Olenin.

Olenin felt frightened, he did not know of what. He flushed and,
hardly knowing what he was saying, remarked: 'I'm afraid of your
mother. She gave me such a scolding the first time I went in.'

Maryanka burst out laughing. 'And so you were frightened?' she
said, and glanced at him and turned away.

It was the first time Olenin had seen the whole of her beautiful
face. Till then he had seen her with her kerchief covering her to
the eyes. It was not for nothing that she was reckoned the beauty
of the village. Ustenka was a pretty girl, small, plump, rosy,
with merry brown eyes, and red lips which were perpetually smiling
and chattering. Maryanka on the contrary was certainly not pretty
but beautiful. Her features might have been considered too
masculine and almost harsh had it not been for her tall stately
figure, her powerful chest and shoulders, and especially the
severe yet tender expression of her long dark eyes which were
darkly shadowed beneath their black brows, and for the gentle
expression of her mouth and smile. She rarely smiled, but her
smile was always striking. She seemed to radiate virginal strength
and health. All the girls were good-looking, but they themselves
and Beletski, and the orderly when he brought in the spice-cakes,
all involuntarily gazed at Maryanka, and anyone addressing the
girls was sure to address her. She seemed a proud and happy queen
among them.

Beletski, trying to keep up the spirit of the party, chattered
incessantly, made the girls hand round chikhir, fooled about with
them, and kept making improper remarks in French about Maryanka's
beauty to Olenin, calling her 'yours' (la votre), and advising him
to behave as he did himself. Olenin felt more and more
uncomfortable. He was devising an excuse to get out and run away
when Beletski announced that Ustenka, whose saint's day it was,
must offer chikhir to everybody with a kiss. She consented on
condition that they should put money on her plate, as is the
custom at weddings.

'What fiend brought me to this disgusting feast?' thought Olenin,
rising to go away.

'Where are you off to?'

'I'll fetch some tobacco,' he said, meaning to escape, but
Beletski seized his hand.

'I have some money,' he said to him in French.

'One can't go away, one has to pay here,' thought Olenin bitterly,
vexed at his own awkwardness. 'Can't I really behave like
Beletski? I ought not to have come, but once I am here I must not
spoil their fun. I must drink like a Cossack,' and taking the
wooden bowl (holding about eight tumblers) he almost filled it
with chikhir and drank it almost all. The girls looked at him,
surprised and almost frightened, as he drank. It seemed to them
strange and not right. Ustenka brought them another glass each,
and kissed them both. 'There girls, now we'll have some fun,' she
said, clinking on the plate the four rubles the men had put there.

Olenin no longer felt awkward, but became talkative.

'Now, Maryanka, it's your turn to offer us wine and a kiss,' said
Beletski, seizing her hand.

'Yes, I'll give you such a kiss!' she said playfully, preparing to
strike at him.

'One can kiss Grandad without payment,' said another girl.

'There's a sensible girl,' said Beletski, kissing the struggling
girl. 'No, you must offer it,' he insisted, addressing Maryanka.
'Offer a glass to your lodger.'

And taking her by the hand he led her to the bench and sat her
down beside Olenin.

'What a beauty,' he said, turning her head to see it in profile.

Maryanka did not resist but proudly smiling turned her long eyes
towards Olenin.

'A beautiful girl,' repeated Beletski.

'Yes, see what a beauty I am,' Maryanka's look seemed to endorse.
Without considering what he was doing Olenin embraced Maryanka and
was going to kiss her, but she suddenly extricated herself,
upsetting Beletski and pushing the top off the table, and sprang
away towards the oven. There was much shouting and laughter. Then
Beletski whispered something to the girls and suddenly they all
ran out into the passage and locked the door behind them.

'Why did you kiss Beletski and won't kiss me?' asked Olenin.

'Oh, just so. I don't want to, that's all!' she answered, pouting
and frowning. 'He's Grandad,' she added with a smile. She went to
the door and began to bang at it. 'Why have you locked the door,
you devils?'

'Well, let them be there and us here,' said Olenin, drawing closer
to her.

She frowned, and sternly pushed him away with her hand. And again
she appeared so majestically handsome to Olenin that he came to
his senses and felt ashamed of what he was doing. He went to the
door and began pulling at it himself.

'Beletski! Open the door! What a stupid joke!'

Maryanka again gave a bright happy laugh. 'Ah, you're afraid of
me?' she said.

'Yes, you know you're as cross as your mother.'

'Spend more of your time with Eroshka; that will make the girls
love you!' And she smiled, looking straight and close into his

He did not know what to reply. 'And if I were to come to see you--
' he let fall.

'That would be a different matter,' she replied, tossing her head.

At that moment Beletski pushed the door open, and Maryanka sprang
away from Olenin and in doing so her thigh struck his leg.

'It's all nonsense what I have been thinking about--love and self-
sacrifice and Lukashka. Happiness is the one thing. He who is
happy is right,' flashed through Olenin's mind, and with a
strength unexpected to himself he seized and kissed the beautiful
Maryanka on her temple and her cheek. Maryanka was not angry, but
only burst into a loud laugh and ran out to the other girls.

That was the end of the party. Ustenka's mother, returned from her
work, gave all the girls a scolding, and turned them all out.

Chapter XXVI

'Yes,' thought Olenin, as he walked home. 'I need only slacken the
reins a bit and I might fall desperately in love with this Cossack
girl.' He went to bed with these thoughts, but expected it all to
blow over and that he would continue to live as before.

But the old life did not return. His relations to Maryanka were
changed. The wall that had separated them was broken down. Olenin
now greeted her every time they met.

The master of the house having returned to collect the rent, on
hearing of Olenin's wealth and generosity invited him to his hut.
The old woman received him kindly, and from the day of the party
onwards Olenin often went in of an evening and sat with them till
late at night. He seemed to be living in the village just as he
used to, but within him everything had changed. He spent his days
in the forest, and towards eight o'clock, when it began to grow
dusk, he would go to see his hosts, alone or with Daddy Eroshka.
They grew so used to him that they were surprised when he stayed
away. He paid well for his wine and was a quiet fellow. Vanyusha
would bring him his tea and he would sit down in a comer near the
oven. The old woman did not mind him but went on with her work,
and over their tea or their chikhir they talked about Cossack
affairs, about the neighbours, or about Russia: Olenin relating
and the others inquiring. Sometimes he brought a book and read to
himself. Maryanka crouched like a wild goat with her feet drawn up
under her, sometimes on the top of the oven, sometimes in a dark
comer. She did not take part in the conversations, but Olenin saw
her eyes and face and heard her moving or cracking sunflower
seeds, and he felt that she listened with her whole being when he
spoke, and was aware of his presence while he silently read to
himself. Sometimes he thought her eyes were fixed on him, and
meeting their radiance he involuntarily became silent and gazed at
her. Then she would instantly hide her face and he would pretend
to be deep in conversation with the old woman, while he listened
all the time to her breathing and to her every movement and waited
for her to look at him again. In the presence of others she was
generally bright and friendly with him, but when they were alone
together she was shy and rough. Sometimes he came in before
Maryanka had returned home. Suddenly he would hear her firm
footsteps and catch a glimmer of her blue cotton smock at the open
door. Then she would step into the middle of the hut, catch sight
of him, and her eyes would give a scarcely perceptible kindly
smile, and he would feel happy and frightened.

He neither sought for nor wished for anything from her, but every
day her presence became more and more necessary to him.

Olenin had entered into the life of the Cossack village so fully
that his past seemed quite foreign to him. As to the future,
especially a future outside the world in which he was now living,
it did not interest him at all. When he received letters from
home, from relatives and friends, he was offended by the evident
distress with which they regarded him as a lost man, while he in
his village considered those as lost who did not live as he was
living. He felt sure he would never repent of having broken away
from his former surroundings and of having settled down in this
village to such a solitary and original life. When out on
expeditions, and when quartered at one of the forts, he felt happy
too; but it was here, from under Daddy Eroshka's wing, from the
forest and from his hut at the end of the village, and especially
when he thought of Maryanka and Lukashka, that he seemed to see
the falseness of his former life. That falseness used to rouse his
indignation even before, but now it seemed inexpressibly vile and
ridiculous. Here he felt freer and freer every day and more and
more of a man. The Caucasus now appeared entirely different to
what his imagination had painted it. He had found nothing at all
like his dreams, nor like the descriptions of the Caucasus he had
heard and read. 'There are none of all those chestnut steeds,
precipices, Amalet Beks, heroes or villains,' thought he. 'The
people live as nature lives: they die, are born, unite, and more
are born--they fight, eat and drink, rejoice and die, without any
restrictions but those that nature imposes on sun and grass, on
animal and tree. They have no other laws.' Therefore these people,
compared to himself, appeared to him beautiful, strong, and free,
and the sight of them made him feel ashamed and sorry for himself.
Often it seriously occurred to him to throw up everything, to get
registered as a Cossack, to buy a hut and cattle and marry a
Cossack woman (only not Maryanka, whom he conceded to Lukashka),
and to live with Daddy Eroshka and go shooting and fishing with
him, and go with the Cossacks on their expeditions. 'Why ever
don't I do it? What am I waiting for?' he asked himself, and he
egged himself on and shamed himself. 'Am I afraid of doing what I
hold to be reasonable and right? Is the wish to be a simple
Cossack, to live close to nature, not to injure anyone but even to
do good to others, more stupid than my former dreams, such as
those of becoming a minister of state or a colonel?' but a voice
seemed to say that he should wait, and not take any decision. He
was held back by a dim consciousness that he could not live
altogether like Eroshka and Lukashka because he had a different
idea of happiness--he was held back by the thought that happiness
lies in self-sacrifice. What he had done for Lukashka continued to
give him joy. He kept looking for occasions to sacrifice himself
for others, but did not meet with them. Sometimes he forgot this
newly discovered recipe for happiness and considered himself
capable of identifying his life with Daddy Eroshka's, but then he
quickly bethought himself and promptly clutched at the idea of
conscious self-sacrifice, and from that basis looked calmly and
proudly at all men and at their happiness.

Chapter XXVII

Just before the vintage Lukashka came on horseback to see Olenin.
He looked more dashing than ever. 'Well? Are you getting married?'
asked Olenin, greeting him merrily.

Lukashka gave no direct reply.

'There, I've exchanged your horse across the river. This is a
horse! A Kabarda horse from the Lov stud. I know horses.'

They examined the new horse and made him caracole about the yard.
The horse really was an exceptionally fine one, a broad and long
gelding, with glossy coat, thick silky tail, and the soft fine
mane and crest of a thoroughbred. He was so well fed that 'you
might go to sleep on his back' as Lukashka expressed it. His
hoofs, eyes, teeth, were exquisitely shaped and sharply outlined,
as one only finds them in very pure-bred horses. Olenin could not
help admiring the horse, he had not yet met with such a beauty in
the Caucasus.

'And how it goes!' said Lukashka, patting its neck. 'What a step!
And so clever--he simply runs after his master.'

'Did you have to add much to make the exchange?' asked Olenin.

'I did not count it,' answered Lukashka with a smile. 'I got him
from a kunak.'

'A wonderfully beautiful horse! What would you take for it?' asked

'I have been offered a hundred and fifty rubles for it, but I'll
give it you for nothing,' said Lukashka, merrily. 'Only say the
word and it's yours. I'll unsaddle it and you may take it. Only
give me some sort of a horse for my duties.'

'No, on no account.'

'Well then, here is a dagger I've brought you,' said Lukashka,
unfastening his girdle and taking out one of the two daggers which
hung from it. 'I got it from across the river.'

'Oh, thank you!'

'And mother has promised to bring you some grapes herself.'

'That's quite unnecessary. We'll balance up some day. You see I
don't offer you any money for the dagger!'

'How could you? We are kunaks. It's just the same as when Girey
Khan across the river took me into his home and said,

"Choose what you like!" So I took this sword. It's our custom.'

They went into the hut and had a drink.

'Are you staying here awhile?' asked Olenin.

'No, I have come to say good-bye. They are sending me from the
cordon to a company beyond the Terek. I am going to-night with my
comrade Nazarka.'

'And when is the wedding to be?'

'I shall be coming back for the betrothal, and then I shall return
to the company again,' Lukashka replied reluctantly.

'What, and see nothing of your betrothed?'

'Just so--what is the good of looking at her? When you go on
campaign ask in our company for Lukashka the Broad. But what a lot
of boars there are in our parts! I've killed two. I'll take you.'
'Well, good-bye! Christ save you.'

Lukashka mounted his horse, and without calling on Maryanka, rode
caracoling down the street, where Nazarka was already awaiting

'I say, shan't we call round?' asked Nazarka, winking in the
direction of Yamka's house.

'That's a good one!' said Lukashka. 'Here, take my horse to her
and if I don't come soon give him some hay. I shall reach the
company by the morning anyway.'

'Hasn't the cadet given you anything more?'

'I am thankful to have paid him back with a dagger--he was going
to ask for the horse,' said Lukashka, dismounting and handing over
the horse to Nazarka.

He darted into the yard past Olenin's very window, and came up to
the window of the cornet's hut. It was already quite dark.
Maryanka, wearing only her smock, was combing her hair preparing
for bed.

'It's I--' whispered the Cossack.

Maryanka's look was severely indifferent, but her face suddenly
brightened up when she heard her name. She opened the window and
leant out, frightened and joyous.

'What--what do you want?' she said.

'Open!' uttered Lukashka. 'Let me in for a minute. I am so sick of
waiting! It's awful!'

He took hold of her head through the window and kissed her.

'Really, do open!'

'Why do you talk nonsense? I've told you I won't! Have you come
for long?'

He did not answer but went on kissing her, and she did not ask

'There, through the window one can't even hug you properly,' said

'Maryanka dear!' came the voice of her mother, 'who is that with

Lukashka took off his cap, which might have been seen, and
crouched down by the window.

'Go, be quick!' whispered Maryanka.

'Lukashka called round,' she answered; 'he was asking for Daddy.'

'Well then send him here!'

'He's gone; said he was in a hurry.'

In fact, Lukashka, stooping, as with big strides he passed under
the windows, ran out through the yard and towards Yamka's house
unseen by anyone but Olenin. After drinking two bowls of chikhir
he and Nazarka rode away to the outpost. The night was warm, dark,
and calm. They rode in silence, only the footfall of their horses
was heard. Lukashka started a song about the Cossack, Mingal, but
stopped before he had finished the first verse, and after a pause,
turning to Nazarka, said:

'I say, she wouldn't let me in!'

'Oh?' rejoined Nazarka. 'I knew she wouldn't. D'you know what
Yamka told me? The cadet has begun going to their house. Daddy
Eroshka brags that he got a gun from the cadet for getting him

'He lies, the old devil!' said Lukashka, angrily. 'She's not such
a girl. If he does not look out I'll wallop that old devil's
sides,' and he began his favourite song:

'From the village of Izmaylov,
From the master's favourite garden,
Once escaped a keen-eyed falcon.
Soon after him a huntsman came a-riding,
And he beckoned to the falcon that had strayed,
But the bright-eyed bird thus answered:
"In gold cage you could not keep me,
On your hand you could not hold me,
So now I fly to blue seas far away.
There a white swan I will kill,
Of sweet swan-flesh have my fill."'

Chapter XXVIII

The bethrothal was taking place in the cornet's hut. Lukashka had
returned to the village, but had not been to see Olenin, and
Olenin had not gone to the betrothal though he had been invited.
He was sad as he had never been since he settled in this Cossack
village. He had seen Lukashka earlier in the evening and was
worried by the question why Lukashka was so cold towards him.
Olenin shut himself up in his hut and began writing in his diary
as follows:

'Many things have I pondered over lately and much have I changed,'
wrote he, 'and I have come back to the copybook maxim: The one way
to be happy is to love, to love self-denyingly, to love everybody
and everything; to spread a web of love on all sides and to take
all who come into it. In this way I caught Vanyusha, Daddy
Eroshka, Lukashka, and Maryanka.'

As Olenin was finishing this sentence Daddy Eroshka entered the

Eroshka was in the happiest frame of mind. A few evenings before
this, Olenin had gone to see him and had found him with a proud
and happy face deftly skinning the carcass of a boar with a small
knife in the yard. The dogs (Lyam his pet among them) were lying
close by watching what he was doing and gently wagging their
tails. The little boys were respectfully looking at him through
the fence and not even teasing him as was their wont. His women
neighbours, who were as a rule not too gracious towards him,
greeted him and brought him, one a jug of chikhir, another some
clotted cream, and a third a little flour. The next day Eroshka
sat in his store-room all covered with blood, and distributed
pounds of boar-flesh, taking in payment money from some and wine
from others. His face clearly expressed, 'God has sent me luck. I
have killed a boar, so now I am wanted.' Consequently, he
naturally began to drink, and had gone on for four days never
leaving the village. Besides which he had had something to drink
at the betrothal.

He came to Olenin quite drunk: his face red, his beard tangled,
but wearing a new beshmet trimmed with gold braid; and he brought
with him a balalayka which he had obtained beyond the river. He
had long promised Olenin this treat, and felt in the mood for it,
so that he was sorry to find Olenin writing.

'Write on, write on, my lad,' he whispered, as if he thought that
a spirit sat between him and the paper and must not be frightened
away, and he softly and silently sat down on the floor. When Daddy
Eroshka was drunk his favourite position was on the floor. Olenin
looked round, ordered some wine to be brought, and continued to
write. Eroshka found it dull to drink by himself and he wished to

'I've been to the betrothal at the cornet's. But there! They're
shwine!--Don't want them!--Have come to you.'

'And where did you get your balalayka asked Olenin, still writing.

'I've been beyond the river and got it there, brother mine,' he
answered, also very quietly. 'I'm a master at it. Tartar or
Cossack, squire or soldiers' songs, any kind you please.'

Olenin looked at him again, smiled, and went on writing.

That smile emboldened the old man.

'Come, leave off, my lad, leave off!' he said with sudden

'Well, perhaps I will.'

'Come, people have injured you but leave them alone, spit at them!
Come, what's the use of writing and writing, what's the good?'

And he tried to mimic Olenin by tapping the floor with his thick
fingers, and then twisted his big face to express contempt.

'What's the good of writing quibbles. Better have a spree and show
you're a man!'

No other conception of writing found place in his head except that
of legal chicanery.

Olenin burst out laughing and so did Eroshka. Then, jumping up
from the floor, the latter began to show off his skill on the
balalayka and to sing Tartar songs.

'Why write, my good fellow! You'd better listen to what I'll sing
to you. When you're dead you won't hear any more songs. Make merry

First he sang a song of his own composing accompanied by a dance:

'Ah, dee, dee, dee, dee, dee, dim, Say where did they last see
him? In a booth, at the fair, He was selling pins, there.'

Then he sang a song he had learnt from his former sergeant-major:

'Deep I fell in love on Monday, Tuesday nothing did but sigh,
Wednesday I popped the question, Thursday waited her reply.
Friday, late, it came at last, Then all hope for me was past!
Saturday my life to take I determined like a man, But for my
salvation's sake Sunday morning changed my plan!'

Then he sang again:

'Oh dee, dee, dee, dee, dee, dim, Say where did they last see

And after that, winking, twitching his shoulders, and footing it
to the tune, he sang:

'I will kiss you and embrace, Ribbons red twine round you; And
I'll call you little Grace. Oh, you little Grace now do Tell me,
do you love me true?'

And he became so excited that with a sudden dashing movement he
started dancing around the room accompanying himself the while.

Songs like 'Dee, dee, dee'--'gentlemen's songs'--he sang for
Olenin's benefit, but after drinking three more tumblers of
chikhir he remembered old times and began singing real Cossack and
Tartar songs. In the midst of one of his favourite songs his voice
suddenly trembled and he ceased singing, and only continued
strumming on the balalayka.

'Oh, my dear friend!' he said.

The peculiar sound of his voice made Olenin look round.

The old man was weeping. Tears stood in his eyes and one tear was
running down his cheek.

'You are gone, my young days, and will never come back!' he said,
blubbering and halting. 'Drink, why don't you drink!' he suddenly
shouted with a deafening roar, without wiping away his tears.

There was one Tartar song that specially moved him. It had few
words, but its charm lay in the sad refrain. 'Ay day, dalalay!'
Eroshka translated the words of the song: 'A youth drove his sheep
from the aoul to the mountains: the Russians came and burnt the
aoul, they killed all the men and took all the women into bondage.
The youth returned from the mountains. Where the aoul had stood
was an empty space; his mother not there, nor his brothers, nor
his house; one tree alone was left standing. The youth sat beneath
the tree and wept. "Alone like thee, alone am I left,'" and
Eroshka began singing: 'Ay day, dalalay!' and the old man repeated
several times this wailing, heart-rending refrain.

When he had finished the refrain Eroshka suddenly seized a gun
that hung on the wall, rushed hurriedly out into the yard and
fired off both barrels into the air. Then again he began, more
dolefully, his 'Ay day, dalalay--ah, ah,' and ceased.

Olenin followed him into the porch and looked up into the starry
sky in the direction where the shots had flashed. In the cornet's
house there were lights and the sound of voices. In the yard girls
were crowding round the porch and the windows, and running
backwards and forwards between the hut and the outhouse. Some
Cossacks rushed out of the hut and could not refrain from
shouting, re-echoing the refrain of Daddy Eroshka's song and his

'Why are you not at the betrothal?' asked Olenin.

'Never mind them! Never mind them!' muttered the old man, who had
evidently been offended by something there. 'Don't like them, I
don't. Oh, those people! Come back into the hut! Let them make
merry by themselves and we'll make merry by ourselves.'

Olenin went in.

'And Lukashka, is he happy? Won't he come to see me?' he asked.

'What, Lukashka? They've lied to him and said I am getting his
girl for you,' whispered the old man. 'But what's the girl? She
will be ours if we want her. Give enough money--and she's ours.
I'll fix it up for you. Really!'

'No, Daddy, money can do nothing if she does not love me. You'd
better not talk like that!'

'We are not loved, you and I. We are forlorn,' said Daddy Eroshka
suddenly, and again he began to cry.

Listening to the old man's talk Olenin had drunk more than usual.
'So now my Lukashka is happy,' thought he; yet he felt sad. The
old man had drunk so much that evening that he fell down on the
floor and Vanyusha had to call soldiers in to help, and spat as
they dragged the old man out. He was so angry with the old man for
his bad behaviour that he did not even say a single French word.

Chapter XXIX

It was August. For days the sky had been cloudless, the sun
scorched unbearably and from early morning the warm wind raised a
whirl of hot sand from the sand-drifts and from the road, and bore
it in the air through the reeds, the trees, and the village. The
grass and the leaves on the trees were covered with dust, the
roads and dried-up salt marshes were baked so hard that they rang
when trodden on. The water had long since subsided in the Terek
and rapidly vanished and dried up in the ditches. The slimy banks
of the pond near the village were trodden bare by the cattle and
all day long you could hear the splashing of water and the
shouting of girls and boys bathing. The sand-drifts and the reeds
were already drying up in the steppes, and the cattle, lowing, ran
into the fields in the day-time. The boars migrated into the
distant reed-beds and to the hills beyond the Terek. Mosquitoes
and gnats swarmed in thick clouds over the low lands and villages.
The snow-peaks were hidden in grey mist. The air was rarefied and
smoky. It was said that abreks had crossed the now shallow river
and were prowling on this side of it. Every night the sun set in a
glowing red blaze. It was the busiest time of the year. The
villagers all swarmed in the melon-fields and the vineyards. The
vineyards thickly overgrown with twining verdure lay in cool, deep
shade. Everywhere between the broad translucent leaves, ripe,
heavy, black clusters peeped out. Along the dusty road from the
vineyards the creaking carts moved slowly, heaped up with black
grapes. Clusters of them, crushed by the wheels, lay in the dirt.
Boys and girls in smocks stained with grape-juice, with grapes in
their hands and mouths, ran after their mothers. On the road you
continually came across tattered labourers with baskets of grapes
on their powerful shoulders; Cossack maidens, veiled with
kerchiefs to their eyes, drove bullocks harnessed to carts laden
high with grapes. Soldiers who happened to meet these carts asked
for grapes, and the maidens, clambering up without stopping their
carts, would take an armful of grapes and drop them into the
skirts of the soldiers' coats. In some homesteads they had already
begun pressing the grapes; and the smell of the emptied skins
filled the air. One saw the blood-red troughs in the pent-houses
in the yards and Nogay labourers with their trousers rolled up and
their legs stained with the juice. Grunting pigs gorged themselves
with the empty skins and rolled about in them. The flat roofs of
the outhouses were all spread over with the dark amber clusters
drying in the sun. Daws and magpies crowded round the roofs,
picking the seeds and fluttering from one place to another.

The fruits of the year's labour were being merrily gathered in,
and this year the fruit was unusually fine and plentiful.

In the shady green vineyards amid a sea of vines, laughter, songs,
merriment, and the voices of women were to be heard on all sides,
and glimpses of their bright-coloured garments could be seen.

Just at noon Maryanka was sitting in their vineyard in the shade
of a peach-tree, getting out the family dinner from under an
unharnessed cart. Opposite her, on a spread-out horse-cloth, sat
the cornet (who had returned from the school) washing his hands by
pouring water on them from a little jug. Her little brother, who
had just come straight out of the pond, stood wiping his face with
his wide sleeves, and gazed anxiously at his sister and his mother
and breathed deeply, awaiting his dinner. The old mother, with her
sleeves rolled up over her strong sunburnt arms, was arranging
grapes, dried fish, and clotted cream on a little low, circular
Tartar table. The cornet wiped his hands, took off his cap,
crossed himself, and moved nearer to the table. The boy seized the
jug and eagerly began to drink. The mother and daughter crossed
their legs under them and sat down by the table. Even in the shade
it was intolerably hot. The air above the vineyard smelt
unpleasant: the strong warm wind passing amid the branches brought
no coolness, but only monotonously bent the tops of the pear,
peach, and mulberry trees with which the vineyard was sprinkled.
The comet, she felt unbearably hot. Her face was burning, and she
did not know where to put her feet, her eyes were moist with
sleepiness and weariness, her lips parted involuntarily, and her
chest heaved heavily and deeply.

The busy time of year had begun a fortnight ago and the continuous
heavy labour had filled the girl's life. At dawn she jumped up,
washed her face with cold water, wrapped herself in a shawl, and
ran out barefoot to see to the cattle. Then she hurriedly put on
her shoes and her beshmet and, taking a small bundle of bread, she
harnessed the bullocks and drove away to the vineyards for the
whole day. There she cut the grapes and carried the baskets with
only an hour's interval for rest, and in the evening she returned
to the village, bright and not tired, dragging the bullocks by a
rope or driving them with a long stick. After attending to the
cattle, she took some sunflower seeds in the wide sleeve of her
smock and went to the corner of the street to crack them and have
some fun with the other girls. But as soon as it was dusk she
returned home, and after having supper with her parents and her
brother in the dark outhouse, she went into the hut, healthy and
free from care, and climbed onto the oven, where half drowsing she
listened to their lodger's conversation. As soon as he went away
she would throw herself down on her bed and sleep soundly and
quietly till morning. And so it went on day after day. She had not
seen Lukashka since the day of their betrothal, but calmly awaited
the wedding. She had got used to their lodger and felt his intent
looks with pleasure.

Chapter XXX

Although there was no escape from the heat and the mosquitoes
swarmed in the cool shadow of the wagons, and her little brother
tossing about beside her kept pushing her, Maryanka having drawn
her kerchief over her head was just falling asleep, when suddenly
their neighbour Ustenka came running towards her and, diving under
the wagon, lay down beside her.

'Sleep, girls, sleep!' said Ustenka, making herself comfortable
under the wagon. 'Wait a bit,' she exclaimed, 'this won't do!'

She jumped up, plucked some green branches, and stuck them through
the wheels on both sides of the wagon and hung her beshmet over

'Let me in,' she shouted to the little boy as she again crept
under the wagon. 'Is this the place for a Cossack--with the girls?
Go away!'

When alone under the wagon with her friend, Ustenka suddenly put
both her arms round her, and clinging close to her began kissing
her cheeks and neck.

'Darling, sweetheart,' she kept repeating, between bursts of
shrill, clear laughter.

'Why, you've learnt it from Grandad,' said Maryanka, struggling.
'Stop it!'

And they both broke into such peals of laughter that Maryanka's
mother shouted to them to be quiet.

'Are you jealous?' asked Ustenka in a whisper.

'What humbug! Let me sleep. What have you come for?'

But Ustenka kept on, 'I say! But I wanted to tell you such a

Maryanka raised herself on her elbow and arranged the kerchief
which had slipped off.

'Well, what is it?'

'I know something about your lodger!'

'There's nothing to know,' said Maryanka.

'Oh, you rogue of a girl!' said Ustenka, nudging her with her
elbow and laughing. 'Won't tell anything. Does he come to you?'

'He does. What of that?' said Maryanka with a sudden blush.

'Now I'm a simple lass. I tell everybody. Why should I pretend?'
said Ustenka, and her bright rosy face suddenly became pensive.
'Whom do I hurt? I love him, that's all about it.'

'Grandad, do you mean?'

'Well, yes!'

'And the sin?'

'Ah, Maryanka! When is one to have a good time if not while one's
still free? When I marry a Cossack I shall bear children and shall
have cares. There now, when you get married to Lukashka not even a
thought of joy will enter your head: children will come, and

'Well? Some who are married live happily. It makes no difference!'
Maryanka replied quietly.

'Do tell me just this once what has passed between you and

'What has passed? A match was proposed. Father put it off for a
year, but now it's been settled and they'll marry us in autumn.'

'But what did he say to you?' Maryanka smiled.

'What should he say? He said he loved me. He kept asking me to
come to the vineyards with him.'

'Just see what pitch! But you didn't go, did you? And what a dare-
devil he has become: the first among the braves. He makes merry
out there in the army too! The other day our Kirka came home; he
says: "What a horse Lukashka's got in exchange!" But all the same
I expect he frets after you. And what else did he say?'

'Must you know everything?' said Maryanka laughing. 'One night he
came to my window tipsy, and asked me to let him in.' 'And you
didn't let him?'

'Let him, indeed! Once I have said a thing I keep to it firm as a
rock,' answered Maryanka seriously.

'A fine fellow! If he wanted her, no girl would refuse him.'

'Well, let him go to the others,' replied Maryanka proudly.

'You don't pity him?'

'I do pity him, but I'll have no nonsense. It is wrong.' Ustenka
suddenly dropped her head on her friend's breast, seized hold of
her, and shook with smothered laughter. 'You silly fool!' she
exclaimed, quite out of breath. 'You don't want to be happy,' and
she began tickling Maryanka. 'Oh, leave off!' said Maryanka,
screaming and laughing. 'You've crushed Lazutka.'

'Hark at those young devils! Quite frisky! Not tired yet!' came
the old woman's sleepy voice from the wagon.

'Don't want happiness,' repeated Ustenka in a whisper,
insistently. 'But you are lucky, that you are! How they love you!
You are so crusty, and yet they love you. Ah, if I were in your
place I'd soon turn the lodger's head! I noticed him when you were
at our house. He was ready to eat you with his eyes. What things
Grandad has given me! And yours they say is the richest of the
Russians. His orderly says they have serfs of their own.'

Maryanka raised herself, and after thinking a moment, smiled.

'Do you know what he once told me: the lodger I mean?' she said,
biting a bit of grass. 'He said, "I'd like to be Lukashka the
Cossack, or your brother Lazutka--." What do you think he meant?'

'Oh, just chattering what came into his head,' answered Ustenka.
'What does mine not say! Just as if he was possessed!'

Maryanka dropped her hand on her folded beshmet, threw her arm
over Ustenka's shoulder, and shut her eyes.

'He wanted to come and work in the vineyard to-day: father invited
him,' she said, and after a short silence she fell asleep.

Chapter XXXI

The sun had come out from behind the pear-tree that had shaded the
wagon, and even through the branches that Ustenka had fixed up it
scorched the faces of the sleeping girls. Maryanka woke up and
began arranging the kerchief on her head. Looking about her,
beyond the pear-tree she noticed their lodger, who with his gun on
his shoulder stood talking to her father. She nudged Ustenka and
smilingly pointed him out to her.

'I went yesterday and didn't find a single one,' Olenin was saying
as he looked about uneasily, not seeing Maryanka through the

'Ah, you should go out there in that direction, go right as by
compasses, there in a disused vineyard denominated as the Waste,
hares are always to be found,' said the cornet, having at once
changed his manner of speech.

'A fine thing to go looking for hares in these busy times! You had
better come and help us, and do some work with the girls,' the old
woman said merrily. 'Now then, girls, up with you!' she cried.

Maryanka and Ustenka under the cart were whispering and could
hardly restrain their laughter.

Since it had become known that Olenin had given a horse worth
fifty rubles to Lukashka, his hosts had become more amiable and
the cornet in particular saw with pleasure his daughter's growing
intimacy with Olenin. 'But I don't know how to do the work,'
replied Olenin, trying not to look through the green branches
under the wagon where he had now noticed Maryanka's blue smock and
red kerchief.

'Come, I'll give you some peaches,' said the old woman.

'It's only according to the ancient Cossack hospitality. It's her
old woman's silliness,' said the cornet, explaining and apparently
correcting his wife's words. 'In Russia, I expect, it's not so
much peaches as pineapple jam and preserves you have been
accustomed to eat at your pleasure.'

'So you say hares are to be found in the disused vineyard?' asked
Olenin. 'I will go there,' and throwing a hasty glance through the
green branches he raised his cap and disappeared between the
regular rows of green vines.

The sun had already sunk behind the fence of the vineyards, and
its broken rays glittered through the translucent leaves when
Olenin returned to his host's vineyard. The wind was falling and a
cool freshness was beginning to spread around. By some instinct
Olenin recognized from afar Maryanka's blue smock among the rows
of vine, and, picking grapes on his way, he approached her. His
highly excited dog also now and then seized a low-hanging cluster
of grapes in his slobbering mouth. Maryanka, her face flushed, her
sleeves rolled up, and her kerchief down below her chin, was
rapidly cutting the heavy clusters and laying them in a basket.
Without letting go of the vine she had hold of, she stopped to
smile pleasantly at him and resumed her work. Olenin drew near and
threw his gun behind his back to have his hands free. 'Where are
your people? May God aid you! Are you alone?' he meant to say but
did not say, and only raised his cap in silence.

He was ill at ease alone with Maryanka, but as if purposely to
torment himself he went up to her.

'You'll be shooting the women with your gun like that,' said

'No, I shan't shoot them.'

They were both silent.

Then after a pause she said: 'You should help me.'

He took out his knife and began silently to cut off the clusters.
He reached from under the leaves low down a thick bunch weighing
about three pounds, the grapes of which grew so close that they
flattened each other for want of space. He showed it to Maryanka.

'Must they all be cut? Isn't this one too green?'

'Give it here.'

Their hands touched. Olenin took her hand, and she looked at him

'Are you going to be married soon?' he asked.

She did not answer, but turned away with a stern look.

'Do you love Lukashka?'

'What's that to you?'

'I envy him!'

'Very likely!' 'No really. You are so beautiful!'

And he suddenly felt terribly ashamed of having said it, so
commonplace did the words seem to him. He flushed, lost control of
himself, and seized both her hands.

'Whatever I am, I'm not for you. Why do you make fun of me?'
replied Maryanka, but her look showed how certainly she knew he
was not making fun.

'Making fun? If you only knew how I--'

The words sounded still more commonplace, they accorded still less
with what he felt, but yet he continued, 'I don't know what I
would not do for you--'

'Leave me alone, you pitch!'

But her face, her shining eyes, her swelling bosom, her shapely
legs, said something quite different. It seemed to him that she
understood how petty were all things he had said, but that she was
superior to such considerations. It seemed to him she had long
known all he wished and was not able to tell her, but wanted to
hear how he would say it. 'And how can she help knowing,' he
thought, 'since I only want to tell her all that she herself is?
But she does not wish to under-stand, does not wish to reply.'

'Hallo!' suddenly came Ustenka's high voice from behind the vine
at no great distance, followed by her shrill laugh. 'Come and help
me, Dmitri Andreich. I am all alone,' she cried, thrusting her
round, naive little face through the vines.

Olenin did not answer nor move from his place.

Maryanka went on cutting and continually looked up at Olenin. He
was about to say something, but stopped, shrugged his shoulders
and, having jerked up his gun, walked out of the vineyard with
rapid strides.

Chapter XXXII

He stopped once or twice, listening to the ringing laughter of
Maryanka and Ustenka who, having come together, were shouting
something. Olenin spent the whole evening hunting in the forest
and returned home at dusk without having killed anything. When
crossing the road he noticed her open the door of the outhouse,
and her blue smock showed through it. He called to Vanyusha very
loud so as to let her know that he was back, and then sat down in
the porch in his usual place. His hosts now returned from the
vineyard; they came out of the outhouse and into their hut, but
did not ask of the latch and knocked. The floor hardly creaked
under the bare cautious footsteps which approached the door. The
latch clicked, the door creaked, and he noticed a faint smell of
marjoram and pumpkin, and Maryanka's whole figure appeared in the
doorway. He saw her only for an instant in the moonlight. She
slammed the door and, muttering something, ran lightly back again.
Olenin began rapping softly but nothing responded. He ran to the
window and listened. Suddenly he was startled by a shrill, squeaky
man's voice.

'Fine!' exclaimed a rather small young Cossack in a white cap,
coming across the yard close to Olenin. 'I saw ... fine!'

Olenin recognized Nazarka, and was silent, not knowing what to do
or say.

'Fine! I'll go and tell them at the office, and I'll tell her
father! That's a fine cornet's daughter! One's not enough for

'What do you want of me, what are you after?' uttered Olenin.

'Nothing; only I'll tell them at the office.'

Nazarka spoke very loud, and evidently did so intentionally,
adding: 'Just see what a clever cadet!'

Olenin trembled and grew pale.

'Come here, here!' He seized the Cossack firmly by the arm and
drew him towards his hut.

'Nothing happened, she did not let me in, and I too mean no harm.
She is an honest girl--'

'Eh, discuss--'

'Yes, but all the same I'll give you something now. Wait a bit!'

Nazarka said nothing. Olenin ran into his hut and brought out ten
rubles, which he gave to the Cossack.

'Nothing happened, but still I was to blame, so I give this!--Only
for God's sake don't let anyone know, for nothing happened ... '

'I wish you joy,' said Nazarka laughing, and went away.

Nazarka had come to the village that night at Lukashka's bidding
to find a place to hide a stolen horse, and now, passing by on his
way home, had heard the sound of footsteps. When he returned next
morning to his company he bragged to his chum, and told him how
cleverly he had got ten rubles. Next morning Olenin met his hosts
and they knew nothing about the events of the night. He did not
speak to Maryanka, and she only laughed a little when she looked
at him. Next night he also passed without sleep, vainly wandering
about the yard. The day after he purposely spent shooting, and in
the evening he went to see Beletski to escape from his own
thoughts. He was afraid of himself, and promised himself not to go
to his hosts' hut any more.

That night he was roused by the sergeant-major. His company was
ordered to start at once on a raid. Olenin was glad this had
happened, and thought he would not again return to the village.

The raid lasted four days. The commander, who was a relative of
Olenin's, wished to see him and offered to let him remain with the
staff, but this Olenin declined. He found that he could not live
away from the village, and asked to be allowed to return to it.
For having taken part in the raid he received a soldier's cross,
which he had formerly greatly desired. Now he was quite
indifferent about it, and even more indifferent about his
promotion, the order for which had still not arrived. Accompanied
by Vanyusha he rode back to the cordon without any accident
several hours in advance of the rest of the company. He spent the
whole evening in his porch watching Maryanka, and he again walked
about the yard, without aim or thought, all night.

Chapter XXXIII

It was late when he awoke the next day. His hosts were no longer
in. He did not go shooting, but now took up a book, and now went
out into the porch, and now again re-entered the hut and lay down
on the bed. Vanyusha thought he was ill.

Towards evening Olenin got up, resolutely began writing, and wrote
on till late at night. He wrote a letter, but did not post it
because he felt that no one would have understood what he wanted
to say, and besides it was not necessary that anyone but himself
should understand it. This is what he wrote:

'I receive letters of condolence from Russia. They are afraid that
I shall perish, buried in these wilds. They say about me: "He will
become coarse; he will be behind the times in everything; he will
take to drink, and who knows but that he may marry a Cossack
girl." It was not for nothing, they say, that Ermolov declared:
"Anyone serving in the Caucasus for ten years either becomes a
confirmed drunkard or marries a loose woman." How terrible! Indeed
it won't do for me to ruin myself when I might have the great
happiness of even becoming the Countess B---'s husband, or a Court
chamberlain, or a Marechal de noblesse of my district. Oh, how
repulsive and pitiable you all seem to me! You do not know what
happiness is and what life is! One must taste life once in all its
natural beauty, must see and understand what I see every day
before me--those eternally unapproachable snowy peaks, and a
majestic woman in that primitive beauty in which the first woman
must have come from her creator's hands--and then it becomes clear
who is ruining himself and who is living truly or falsely--you or
I. If you only knew how despicable and pitiable you, in your
delusions, seem to me! When I picture to myself--in place of my
hut, my forests, and my love--those drawing-rooms, those women
with their pomatum-greased hair eked out with false curls, those
unnaturally grimacing lips, those hidden, feeble, distorted limbs,
and that chatter of obligatory drawing-room conversation which has
no right to the name--I feel unendurably revolted. I then see
before me those obtuse faces, those rich eligible girls whose
looks seem to say:

"It's all right, you may come near though I am rich and eligible"-
-and that arranging and rearranging of seats, that shameless
match-making and that eternal tittle-tattle and pretence; those
rules--with whom to shake hands, to whom only to nod, with whom to
converse (and all this done deliberately with a conviction of its
inevitability), that continual ennui in the blood passing on from
generation to generation. Try to understand or believe just this
one thing: you need only see and comprehend what truth and beauty
are, and all that you now say and think and all your wishes for me
and for yourselves will fly to atoms! Happiness is being with
nature, seeing her, and conversing with her. "He may even (God
forbid) marry a common Cossack girl, and be quite lost socially" I
can imagine them saying of me with sincere pity! Yet the one thing
I desire is to be quite "lost" in your sense of the word. I wish
to marry a Cossack girl, and dare not because it would be a height
of happiness of which I am unworthy.

'Three months have passed since I first saw the Cossack girl,
Maryanka. The views and prejudices of the world I had left were
still fresh in me. I did not then believe that I could love that
woman. I delighted in her beauty just as I delighted in the beauty
of the mountains and the sky, nor could I help delighting in her,
for she is as beautiful as they. I found that the sight of her
beauty had become a necessity of my life and I began asking myself
whether I did not love her. But I could find nothing within myself
at all like love as I had imagined it to be. Mine was not the
restlessness of loneliness and desire for marriage, nor was it
platonic, still less a carnal love such as I have experienced. I
needed only to see her, to hear her, to know that she was near--
and if I was not happy, I was at peace.

'After an evening gathering at which I met her and touched her, I
felt that between that woman and myself there existed an
indissoluble though unacknowledged bond against which I could not
struggle, yet I did struggle. I asked myself: "Is it possible to
love a woman who will never understand the profoundest interests
of my life? Is it possible to love a woman simply for her beauty,
to love the statue of a woman?" But I was already in love with
her, though I did not yet trust to my feelings.

'After that evening when I first spoke to her our relations
changed. Before that she had been to me an extraneous but majestic
object of external nature: but since then she has become a human
being. I began to meet her, to talk to her, and sometimes to go to
work for her father and to spend whole evenings with them, and in
this intimate intercourse she remained still in my eyes just as
pure, inaccessible, and majestic. She always responded with equal
calm, pride, and cheerful equanimity. Sometimes she was friendly,
but generally her every look, every word, and every movement
expressed equanimity--not contemptuous, but crushing and
bewitching. Every day with a feigned smile on my lips I tried to
play a part, and with torments of passion and desire in my heart I
spoke banteringly to her. She saw that I was dissembling, but
looked straight at me cheerfully and simply. This position became
unbearable. I wished not to deceive her but to tell her all I
thought and felt. I was extremely agitated. We were in the
vineyard when I began to tell her of my love, in words I am now
ashamed to remember. I am ashamed because I ought not to have
dared to speak so to her because she stood far above such words
and above the feeling they were meant to express. I said no more,
but from that day my position has been intolerable. I did not wish
to demean myself by continuing our former flippant relations, and
at the same time I felt that I had not yet reached the level of
straight and simple relations with her. I asked myself
despairingly, "What am I to do?" In foolish dreams I imagined her
now as my mistress and now as my wife, but rejected both ideas
with disgust. To make her a wanton woman would be dreadful. It
would be murder. To turn her into a fine lady, the wife of Dmitri
Andreich Olenin, like a Cossack woman here who is married to one
of our officers, would be still worse. Now could I turn Cossack
like Lukashka, and steal horses, get drunk on chikhir, sing
rollicking songs, kill people, and when drunk climb in at her
window for the night without a thought of who and what I am, it
would be different: then we might understand one another and I
might be happy.

'I tried to throw myself into that kind of life but was still more
conscious of my own weakness and artificiality. I cannot forget
myself and my complex, distorted past, and my future appears to me
still more hopeless. Every day I have before me the distant snowy
mountains and this majestic, happy woman. But not for me is the
only happiness possible in the world; I cannot have this woman!
What is most terrible and yet sweetest in my condition is that I
feel that I understand her but that she will never understand me;
not because she is inferior: on the contrary she ought not to
understand me. She is happy, she is like nature: consistent, calm,
and self-contained; and I, a weak distorted being, want her to
understand my deformity and my torments! I have not slept at
night, but have aimlessly passed under her windows not rendering
account to myself of what was happening to me. On the 18th our
company started on a raid, and I spent three days away from the
village. I was sad and apathetic, the usual songs, cards,
drinking-bouts, and talk of rewards in the regiment, were more
repulsive to me than usual. Yesterday I returned home and saw her,

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