Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Forged Coupon and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy

Part 4 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

an angry tone, as he looked intently at the far end
of the line.

"I looked in the same direction, and saw be-
tween the files something horrid approaching me.
The thing that approached was a man, stripped
to the waist, fastened with cords to the guns of two
soldiers who were leading him. At his side an
officer in overcoat and cap was walking, whose
figure had a familiar look. The victim advanced
under the blows that rained upon him from both
sides, his whole body plunging, his feet dragging
through the snow. Now he threw himself back-
ward, and the subalterns who led him thrust him
forward. Now he fell forward, and they pulled
him up short; while ever at his side marched the
tall officer, with firm and nervous pace. It was
Varinka's father, with his rosy face and white

"At each stroke the man, as if amazed, turned
his face, grimacing with pain, towards the side
whence the blow came, and showing his white teeth
repeated the same words over and over. But I
could only hear what the words were when he came
quite near. He did not speak them, he sobbed
them out,--

"'Brothers, have mercy on me! Brothers, have
mercy on me!' But the brothers had, no mercy,
and when the procession came close to me, I saw
how a soldier who stood opposite me took a firm
step forward and lifting his stick with a whirr,
brought it down upon the man's back. The man
plunged forward, but the subalterns pulled him
back, and another blow came down from the other
side, then from this side and then from the other.
The colonel marched beside him, and looking now
at his feet and now at the man, inhaled the air,
puffed out his cheeks, and breathed it out between
his protruded lips. When they passed the place
where I stood, I caught a glimpse between the two
files of the back of the man that was being pun-
ished. It was something so many-coloured, wet,
red, unnatural, that I could hardly believe it was a
human body.

"'My God!' muttered the blacksmith.

The procession moved farther away. The
blows continued to rain upon the writhing, falling
creature; the fifes shrilled and the drums beat, and
the tall imposing figure of the colonel moved along-
side the man, just as before. Then, suddenly, the
colonel stopped, and rapidly approached a man in
the ranks.

"'I'll teach you to hit him gently,' I heard his
furious voice say. 'Will you pat him like that?
Will you?' and I saw how his strong hand in the
suede glove struck the weak, bloodless, terrified
soldier for not bringing down his stick with suffi-
cient strength on the red neck of the Tartar.

"'Bring new sticks!' he cried, and looking
round, he saw me. Assuming an air of not know-
ing me, and with a ferocious, angry frown, he
hastily turned away. I felt so utterly ashamed
that I didn't know where to look. It was as if I
had been detected in a disgraceful act. I dropped
my eyes, and quickly hurried home. All the way
I had the drums beating and the fifes whistling in
my ears. And I heard the words, 'Brothers, have
mercy on me!' or 'Will you pat him? Will
you?' My heart was full of physical disgust that
was almost sickness. So much so that I halted sev-
eral times on my way, for I had the feeling that I
was going to be really sick from all the horrors
that possessed me at that sight. I do not remem-
ber how I got home and got to bed. But the mo-
ment I was about to fall asleep I heard and saw
again all that had happened, and I sprang up.

"'Evidently he knows something I do not
know,' I thought about the colonel. 'If I knew
what he knows I should certainly grasp--under-
stand--what I have just seen, and it would not
cause me such suffering.'

"But however much I thought about it, I could
not understand the thing that the colonel knew.
It was evening before I could get to sleep, and then
only after calling on a friend and drinking till I;
was quite drunk.

"Do you think I had come to the conclusion that
the deed I had witnessed was wicked? Oh, no.
Since it was done with such assurance, and was rec-
ognised by every one as indispensable, they doubt-
less knew something which I did not know. So I
thought, and tried to understand. But no matter,
I could never understand it, then or afterwards.
And not being able to grasp it, I could not enter
the service as I had intended. I don't mean only
the military service: I did not enter the Civil Serv-
ice either. And so I have been of no use whatever,
as you can see."

"Yes, we know how useless you've been," said
one of us. "Tell us, rather, how many people
would be of any use at all if it hadn't been for

"Oh, that's utter nonsense," said Ivan Vasilie-
vich, with genuine annoyance.

"Well; and what about the love affair?

"My love? It decreased from that day.
When, as often happened, she looked dreamy and
meditative, I instantly recollected the colonel on
the parade ground, and I felt so awkward and
uncomfortable that I began to see her less fre-
quently. So my love came to naught. Yes; such
chances arise, and they alter and direct a man's
whole life," he said in summing up. "And you
say . . ."



ALYOSHA was the younger brother. He was
called the Pot, because his mother had once sent
him with a pot of milk to the deacon's wife, and he
had stumbled against something and broken it.
His mother had beaten him, and the children had
teased him. Since then he was nicknamed the Pot.
Alyosha was a tiny, thin little fellow, with ears like
wings, and a huge nose. "Alyosha has a nose that
looks like a dog on a hill!" the children used to
call after him. Alyosha went to the village
school, but was not good at lessons; besides, there
was so little time to learn. His elder brother was
in town, working for a merchant, so Alyosha had
to help his father from a very early age. When
he was no more than six he used to go out with the
girls to watch the cows and sheep in the pasture,
and a little later he looked after the horses by
day and by night. And at twelve years of age he
had already begun to plough and to drive the cart.
The skill was there though the strength was not.
He was always cheerful. Whenever the children
made fun of him, he would either laugh or be
silent. When his father scolded him he would
stand mute and listen attentively, and as soon as
the scolding was over would smile and go on with
his work. Alyosha was nineteen when his brother
was taken as a soldier. So his father placed him
with the merchant as a yard-porter. He was given
his brother's old boots, his father's old coat and
cap, and was taken to town. Alyosha was de-
lighted with his clothes, but the merchant was not
impressed by his appearance.

"I thought you would bring me a man in Sime-
on's place," he said, scanning Alyosha; "and
you've brought me THIS! What's the good of

"He can do everything; look after horses and
drive. He's a good one to work. He looks
rather thin, but he's tough enough. And he's very

"He looks it. All right; we'll see what we can
do with him."

So Alyosha remained at the merchant's.

The family was not a large one. It consisted
of the merchant's wife: her old mother: a married
son poorly educated who was in his father's busi-
ness: another son, a learned one who had finished
school and entered the University, but having been
expelled, was living at home: and a daughter who
still went to school.

They did not take to Alyosha at first. He was
uncouth, badly dressed, and had no manner, but
they soon got used to him. Alyosha worked even
better than his brother had done; he was really
very willing. They sent him on all sorts of er-
rands, but he did everything quickly and readily,
going from one task to another without stopping.
And so here, just as at home, all the work was put
upon his shoulders. The more he did, the more
he was given to do. His mistress, her old mother,
the son, the daughter, the clerk, and the cook--all
ordered him about, and sent him from one place
to another.

"Alyosha, do this! Alyosha, do that!
What! have you forgotten, Alyosha? Mind you
don't forget, Alyosha!" was heard from morning
till night. And Alyosha ran here, looked after this
and that, forgot nothing, found time for every-
thing, and was always cheerful.

His brother's old boots were soon worn out,
and his master scolded him for going about in tat-
ters with his toes sticking out. He ordered an-
other pair to be bought for him in the market.
Alyosha was delighted with his new boots, but was
angry with his feet when they ached at the end of
the day after so much running about. And then
he was afraid that his father would be annoyed
when he came to town for his wages, to find that
his master had deducted the cost of the boots.

In the winter Alyosha used to get up before day-
break. He would chop the wood, sweep the yard,
feed the cows and horses, light the stoves, clean
the boots, prepare the samovars and polish them
afterwards; or the clerk would get him to bring
up the goods; or the cook would set him to knead
the bread and clean the saucepans. Then he was
sent to town on various errands, to bring the
daughter home from school, or to get some olive
oil for the old mother. "Why the devil have
you been so long?" first one, then another, would
say to him. Why should they go? Alyosha can
go. "Alyosha! Alyosha!" And Alyosha ran
here and there. He breakfasted in snatches while
he was working, and rarely managed to get his
dinner at the proper hour. The cook used to scold
him for being late, but she was sorry for him all
the same, and would keep something hot for his
dinner and supper.

At holiday times there was more work than ever,
but Alyosha liked holidays because everybody gave
him a tip. Not much certainly, but it would
amount up to about sixty kopeks [1s 2d]--his
very own money. For Alyosha never set eyes on
his wages. His father used to come and take them
from the merchant, and only scold Alyosha for
wearing out his boots.

When he had saved up two roubles [4s], by the
advice of the cook he bought himself a red knitted
jacket, and was so happy when he put it on, that
he couldn't close his mouth for joy. Alyosha was
not talkative; when he spoke at all, he spoke
abruptly, with his head turned away. When told
to do anything, or asked if he could do it, he would
say yes without the smallest hesitation, and set to
work at once.

Alyosha did not know any prayer; and had for-
gotten what his mother had taught him. But he
prayed just the same, every morning and every
evening, prayed with his hands, crossing himself.

He lived like this for about a year and a half,
and towards the end of the second year a most
startling thing happened to him. He discovered
one day, to his great surprise, that, in addition to
the relation of usefulness existing between people,
there was also another, a peculiar relation of quite
a different character. Instead of a man being
wanted to clean boots, and go on errands and har-
ness horses, he is not wanted to be of any service
at all, but another human being wants to serve him
and pet him. Suddenly Alyosha felt he was such
a man.

He made this discovery through the cook Us-
tinia. She was young, had no parents, and worked
as hard as Alyosha. He felt for the first time in
his life that he--not his services, but he himself
--was necessary to another human being. When
his mother used to be sorry for him, he had taken
no notice of her. It had seemed to him quite
natural, as though he were feeling sorry for him-
self. But here was Ustinia, a perfect stranger,
and sorry for him. She would save him some hot
porridge, and sit watching him, her chin propped
on her bare arm, with the sleeve rolled up, while he
was eating it. When he looked at her she would
begin to laugh, and he would laugh too.

This was such a new, strange thing to him that
it frightened Alyosha. He feared that it might
interfere with his work. But he was pleased, nev-
ertheless, and when he glanced at the trousers that
Ustinia had mended for him, he would shake
his head and smile. He would often think of her
while at work, or when running on errands. "A
fine girl, Ustinia!" he sometimes exclaimed.

Ustinia used to help him whenever she could,
and he helped her. She told him all about her
life; how she had lost her parents; how her aunt
had taken her in and found a place for her in the
town; how the merchant's son had tried to take lib-
erties with her, and how she had rebuffed him.
She liked to talk, and Alyosha liked to listen to her.
He had heard that peasants who came up to work
in the towns frequently got married to servant
girls. On one occasion she asked him if his par-
ents intended marrying him soon. He said that
he did not know; that he did not want to marry
any of the village girls.

"Have you taken a fancy to some one, then?"

"I would marry you, if you'd be willing."

"Get along with you, Alyosha the Pot; but
you've found your tongue, haven't you?" she ex-
claimed, slapping him on the back with a towel she
held in her hand. "Why shouldn't I?"

At Shrovetide Alyosha's father came to town for
his wages. It had come to the ears of the mer-
chant's wife that Alyosha wanted to marry Ustinia,
and she disapproved of it. "What will be the
use of her with a baby?" she thought, and in-
formed her husband.

The merchant gave the old man Alyosha's

"How is my lad getting on?" he asked. "I
told you he was willing."

"That's all right, as far as it goes, but he's
taken some sort of nonsense into his head. He
wants to marry our cook. Now I don't approve
of married servants. We won't have them in the

"Well, now, who would have thought the fool
would think of such a thing?" the old man ex-
claimed. "But don't you worry. I'll soon settle

He went into the kitchen, and sat down at
the table waiting for his son. Alyosha was out
on an errand, and came back breathless.

"I thought you had some sense in you; but
what's this you've taken into your head?" his
father began.

"I? Nothing."

"How, nothing? They tell me you want to
get married. You shall get married when the time
comes. I'll find you a decent wife, not some town

His father talked and talked, while Alyosha
stood still and sighed. When his father had quite
finished, Alyosha smiled.

"All right. I'll drop it."

"Now that's what I call sense."

When he was left alone with Ustinia he told her
what his father had said. (She had listened at
the door.)

"It's no good; it can't come off. Did you hear?
He was angry--won't have it at any price."

Ustinia cried into her apron.

Alyosha shook his head.

"What's to be done? We must do as we're

"Well, are you going to give up that nonsense,
as your father told you?" his mistress asked, as
he was putting up the shutters in the evening.

"To be sure we are," Alyosha replied with a
smile, and then burst into tears.

From that day Alyosha went about his work as
usual, and no longer talked to Ustinia about their
getting married. One day in Lent the clerk told
him to clear the snow from the roof. Alyosha
climbed on to the roof and swept away all the
snow; and, while he was still raking out some
frozen lumps from the gutter, his foot slipped and
he fell over. Unfortunately he did not fall on the
snow, but on a piece of iron over the door. Us-
tinia came running up, together with the mer-
chant's daughter.

"Have you hurt yourself, Alyosha?"

"Ah! no, it's nothing."

But he could not raise himself when he tried
to, and began to smile.

He was taken into the lodge. The doctor ar-
rived, examined him, and asked where he felt the

"I feel it all over," he said. "But it doesn't
matter. I'm only afraid master will be annoyed.
Father ought to be told."

Alyosha lay in bed for two days, and on the third
day they sent for the priest.

"Are you really going to die?" Ustinia asked.

"Of course I am. You can't go on living for
ever. You must go when the time comes " Aly-
osha spoke rapidly as usual. "Thank you, Us-
tinia. You've been very good to me. What a
lucky thing they didn't let us marry! Where
should we have been now? It's much better as it

When the priest came, he prayed with his bands
and with his heart. "As it is good here when you
obey and do no harm to others, so it will be there,"
was the thought within it.

He spoke very little; he only said he was thirsty,
and he seemed full of wonder at something.

He lay in wonderment, then stretched himself,
and died.



"As a daughter she no longer exists for me.
Can't you understand? She simply doesn't ex-
ist. Still, I cannot possibly leave her to the char-
ity of strangers. I will arrange things so that
she can live as she pleases, but I do not wish to
hear of her. Who would ever have thought
. . . the horror of it, the horror of it."

He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, and
raised his eyes. These words were spoken by
Prince Michael Ivanovich to his brother Peter,
who was governor of a province in Central Rus-
sia. Prince Peter was a man of fifty, Michael's
junior by ten years.

On discovering that his daughter, who had left
his house a year before, had settled here with her
child, the elder brother had come from St. Peters-
burg to the provincial town, where the above con-
versation took place.

Prince Michael Ivanovich was a tall, handsome,
white-haired, fresh coloured man, proud and at-
tractive in appearance and bearing. His family
consisted of a vulgar, irritable wife, who wran-
gled with him continually over every petty detail,
a son, a ne'er-do-well, spendthrift and roue--
yet a "gentleman," according to his father's code,
two daughters, of whom the elder had married
well, and was living in St. Petersburg; and the
younger, Lisa--his favourite, who had disap-
peared from home a year before. Only a short
while ago he had found her with her child in this
provincial town.

Prince Peter wanted to ask his brother how,
and under what circumstances, Lisa had left
home, and who could possibly be the father of her
child. But he could not make up his mind to in-

That very morning, when his wife had at-
tempted to condole with her brother-in-law, Prince
Peter had observed a look of pain on his brother's
face. The look had at once been masked by an
expression of unapproachable pride, and he had
begun to question her about their flat, and the
price she paid. At luncheon, before the family
and guests, he had been witty and sarcastic as
usual. Towards every one, excepting the chil-
dren, whom he treated with almost reverent ten-
derness, he adopted an attitude of distant hauteur.
And yet it was so natural to him that every one
somehow acknowledged his right to be haughty.

In the evening his brother arranged a game of
whist. When he retired to the room which had
been made ready for him, and was just beginning
to take out his artificial teeth, some one tapped
lightly on the door with two fingers.

"Who is that?"

"C'est moi, Michael."

Prince Michael Ivanovich recognised the voice
of his sister-in-law, frowned, replaced his teeth,
and said to himself, "What does she want?"
Aloud he said, "Entrez."

His sister-in-law was a quiet, gentle creature,
who bowed in submission to her husband's will.
But to many she seemed a crank, and some did
not hesitate to call her a fool. She was pretty,
but her hair was always carelessly dressed, and she
herself was untidy and absent-minded. She had,
also, the strangest, most unaristocratic ideas, by no
means fitting in the wife of a high official. These
ideas she would express most unexpectedly, to
everybody's astonishment, her husband's no less
than her friends'.

"Fous pouvez me renvoyer, mais je ne m'en
irai pas, je vous le dis d'avance," she began, in her
characteristic, indifferent way.

"Dieu preserve," answered her brother-in-law,
with his usual somewhat exaggerated politeness,
and brought forward a chair for her.

"Ca ne vous derange pas?" she asked, taking
out a cigarette. "I'm not going to say anything
unpleasant, Michael. I only wanted to say some-
thing about Lisochka."

Michael Ivanovich sighed--the word pained
him; but mastering himself at once, he answered
with a tired smile. "Our conversation can only
be on one subject, and that is the subject you wish
to discuss " He spoke without looking at her,
and avoided even naming the subject. But his
plump, pretty little sister-in-law was unabashed.
She continued to regard him with the same gentle,
imploring look in her blue eyes, sighing even more

"Michael, mon bon ami, have pity on her.
She is only human."

"I never doubted that," said Michael Ivano-
vich with a bitter smile.

"She is your daughter."

"She was--but my dear Aline, why talk about

"Michael, dear, won't you see her? I only
wanted to say, that the one who is to blame--"

Prince Michael Ivanovich flushed; his face be-
came cruel.

"For heaven's sake, let us stop. I have suf-
fered enough. I have now but one desire, and
that is to put her in such a position that she will
be independent of others, and that she shall have
no further need of communicating with me. Then
she can live her own life, and my family and I
need know nothing more about her. That is all
I can do."

"Michael, you say nothing but 'I'! She, too,
is 'I.'"

"No doubt; but, dear Aline, please let us drop
the matter. I feel it too deeply."

Alexandra Dmitrievna remained silent for a
few moments, shaking her head. "And Masha,
your wife, thinks as you do?"

"Yes, quite."

Alexandra Dmitrievna made an inarticulate

"Brisons la dessus et bonne nuit," said he.
But she did not go. She stood silent a moment.

"Peter tells me you intend to leave the money
with the woman where she lives. Have you the

"I have."

"Don't leave it with the woman, Michael!
Go yourself. Just see how she lives. If you
don't want to see her, you need not. HE isn't
there; there is no one there."

Michael Ivanovich shuddered violently.

"Why do you torture me so? It's a sin
against hospitality!"

Alexandra Dmitrievna rose, and almost in
tears, being touched by her own pleading, said,
"She is so miserable, but she is such a dear."

He got up, and stood waiting for her to finish.
She held out her hand.

"Michael, you do wrong," said she, and left

For a long while after she had gone Michael
Ivanovich walked to and fro on the square of
carpet. He frowned and shivered, and ex-
claimed, "Oh, oh!" And then the sound of his
own voice frightened him, and he was silent.

His wounded pride tortured him. His daugh-
ter--his--brought up in the house of her
mother, the famous Avdotia Borisovna, whom the
Empress honoured with her visits, and acquaint-
ance with whom was an honour for all the world!
His daughter--; and he had lived his life as a
knight of old, knowing neither fear nor blame.
The fact that he had a natural son born of a
Frenchwoman, whom he had settled abroad, did
not lower his own self-esteem. And now this
daughter, for whom he had not only done every-
thing that a father could and should do; this
daughter to whom he had given a splendid educa-
tion and every opportunity to make a match in the
best Russian society--this daughter to whom he
had not only given all that a girl could desire, but
whom he had really LOVED; whom he had admired,
been proud of--this daughter had repaid him
with such disgrace, that he was ashamed and could
not face the eyes of men!

He recalled the time when she was not merely
his child, and a member of his family, but his
darling, his joy and his pride. He saw her again,
a little thing of eight or nine, bright, intelligent,
lively, impetuous, graceful, with brilliant black
eyes and flowing auburn hair. He remembered
how she used to jump up on his knees and hug
him, and tickle his neck; and how she would laugh,
regardless of his protests, and continue to tickle
him, and kiss his lips, his eyes, and his cheeks.
He was naturally opposed to all demonstration,
but this impetuous love moved him, and he often
submitted to her petting. He remembered also
how sweet it was to caress her. To remember
all this, when that sweet child had become what
she now was, a creature of whom he could not
think without loathing.

He also recalled the time when she was growing
into womanhood, and the curious feeling of fear
and anger that he experienced when he became
aware that men regarded her as a woman. He
thought of his jealous love when she came coquet-
tishly to him dressed for a ball, and knowing that
she was pretty. He dreaded the passionate
glances which fell upon her, that she not only did
not understand but rejoiced in. "Yes," thought
he, "that superstition of woman's purity! Quite
the contrary, they do not know shame--they lack
this sense " He remembered how, quite inexpli-
cably to him, she had refused two very good suit-
ors. She had become more and more fascinated
by her own success in the round of gaieties she
lived in.

But this success could not last long. A year
passed, then two, then three. She was a familiar
figure, beautiful--but her first youth had passed,
and she had become somehow part of the ball-
room furniture. Michael Ivanovich remembered
how he had realised that she was on the road to
spinsterhood, and desired but one thing for her.
He must get her married off as quickly as possible,
perhaps not quite so well as might have been ar-
ranged earlier, but still a respectable match.

But it seemed to him she had behaved with a
pride that bordered on insolence. Remembering
this, his anger rose more and more fiercely against
her. To think of her refusing so many decent
men, only to end in this disgrace. "Oh, oh!" he
groaned again.

Then stopping, he lit a cigarette, and tried to
think of other things. He would send her money,
without ever letting her see him. But memories
came again. He remembered--it was not so
very long ago, for she was more than twenty then
--her beginning a flirtation with a boy of four-
teen, a cadet of the Corps of Pages who had been
staying with them in the country. She had driven
the boy half crazy; he had wept in his distraction.
Then how she had rebuked her father severely,
coldly, and even rudely, when, to put an end to
this stupid affair, he had sent the boy away. She
seemed somehow to consider herself insulted.
Since then father and daughter had drifted into
undisguised hostility.

"I was right," he said to himself. "She is a
wicked and shameless woman."

And then, as a last ghastly memory, there was
the letter from Moscow, in which she wrote that
she could not return home; that she was a miser-
able, abandoned woman, asking only to be for-
given and forgotten. Then the horrid recollec-
tion of the scene with his wife came to him; their
surmises and their suspicions, which became a cer-
tainty. The calamity had happened in Finland,
where they had let her visit her aunt; and the
culprit was an insignificant Swede, a student, an
empty-headed, worthless creature--and married.

All this came back to him now as he paced
backwards and forwards on the bedroom carpet,
recollecting his former love for her, his pride in
her. He recoiled with terror before the incom-
prehensible fact of her downfall, and he hated her
for the agony she was causing him. He remem-
bered the conversation with his sister-in-law, and
tried to imagine how he might forgive her. But
as soon as the thought of "him" arose, there
surged up in his heart horror, disgust, and wounded
pride. He groaned aloud, and tried to think of
something else.

"No, it is impossible; I will hand over the
money to Peter to give her monthly. And as for
me, I have no longer a daughter."

And again a curious feeling overpowered him:
a mixture of self-pity at the recollection of his
love for her, and of fury against her for causing
him this anguish.


DURING the last year Lisa had without doubt
lived through more than in all the preceding
twenty-five. Suddenly she had realised the empti-
ness of her whole life. It rose before her, base
and sordid--this life at home and among the rich
set in St. Petersburg--this animal existence that
never sounded the depths, but only touched the
shallows of life.

It was well enough for a year or two, or per-
haps even three. But when it went on for seven
or eight years, with its parties, balls, concerts,
and suppers; with its costumes and coiffures to
display the charms of the body; with its adorers
old and young, all alike seemingly possessed of
some unaccountable right to have everything, to
laugh at everything; and with its summer months
spent in the same way, everything yielding but a
superficial pleasure, even music and reading merely
touching upon life's problems, but never solving
them--all this holding out no promise of change,
and losing its charm more and more--she began
to despair. She had desperate moods when she
longed to die.

Her friends directed her thoughts to charity.
On the one hand, she saw poverty which was real
and repulsive, and a sham poverty even more re-
pulsive and pitiable; on the other, she saw the ter-
rible indifference of the lady patronesses who came
in carriages and gowns worth thousands. Life
became to her more and more unbearable. She
yearned for something real, for life itself--not
this playing at living, not this skimming life of its
cream. Of real life there was none. The best
of her memories was her love for the little cadet
Koko. That had been a good, honest, straight-
forward impulse, and now there was nothing like
it. There could not be. She grew more and
more depressed, and in this gloomy mood she
went to visit an aunt in Finland. The fresh
scenery and surroundings, the people strangely
different to her own, appealed to her at any rate
as a new experience.

How and when it all began she could not
clearly remember. Her aunt had another guest,
a Swede. He talked of his work, his people, the
latest Swedish novel. Somehow, she herself did
not know how that terrible fascination of glances
and smiles began, the meaning of which cannot be
put into words.

These smiles and glances seemed to reveal to
each, not only the soul of the other, but some
vital and universal mystery. Every word they
spoke was invested by these smiles with a pro-
found and wonderful significance. Music, too,
when they were listening together, or when they
sang duets, became full of the same deep meaning.
So, also, the words in the books they read aloud.
Sometimes they would argue, but the moment
their eyes met, or a smile flashed between them,
the discussion remained far behind. They soared
beyond it to some higher plane consecrated to

How it had come about, how and when the
devil, who had seized hold of them both, first
appeared behind these smiles and glances, she
could not say. But, when terror first seized her,
the invisible threads that bound them were already
so interwoven that she had no power to tear her-
self free. She could only count on him and on
his honour. She hoped that he would not make
use of his power; yet all the while she vaguely de-
sired it.

Her weakness was the greater, because she had
nothing to support her in the struggle. She was
weary of society life and she had no affection for
her mother. Her father, so she thought, had
cast her away from him, and she longed passion-
ately to live and to have done with play. Love,
the perfect love of a woman for a man, held the
promise of life for her. Her strong, passionate
nature, too, was dragging her thither. In the tall,
strong figure of this man, with his fair hair and
light upturned moustache, under which shone a
smile attractive and compelling, she saw the prom-
ise of that life for which she longed. And then
the smiles and glances, the hope of something so
incredibly beautiful, led, as they were bound to
lead, to that which she feared but unconsciously

Suddenly all that was beautiful, joyous, spir-
itual, and full of promise for the future, became
animal and sordid, sad and despairing.

She looked into his eyes and tried to smile,
pretending that she feared nothing, that every-
thing was as it should be; but deep down in her
soul she knew it was all over. She understood
that she had not found in him what she had
sought; that which she had once known in herself
and in Koko. She told him that he must write to
her father asking her hand in marriage. This he
promised to do; but when she met him next he said
it was impossible for him to write just then. She
saw something vague and furtive in his eyes, and
her distrust of him grew. The following day he
wrote to her, telling her that he was already mar-
ried, though his wife had left him long since;
that he knew she would despise him for the wrong
he had done her, and implored her forgiveness.
She made him come to see her. She said she
loved him; that she felt herself bound to him for
ever whether he was married or not, and would
never leave him. The next time they met he told
her that he and his parents were so poor that he
could only offer her the meanest existence. She
answered that she needed nothing, and was ready
to go with him at once wherever he wished. He
endeavoured to dissuade her, advising her to wait;
and so she waited. But to live on with this se-
cret, with occasional meetings, and merely cor-
responding with him, all hidden from her family,
was agonising, and she insisted again that he must
take her away. At first, when she returned to St.
Petersburg, be wrote promising to come, and then
letters ceased and she knew no more of him.

She tried to lead her old life, but it was im-
possible. She fell ill, and the efforts of the doc-
tors were unavailing; in her hopelessness she
resolved to kill herself. But how was she to do
this, so that her death might seem natural? She
really desired to take her life, and imagined that
she had irrevocably decided on the step. So, ob-
taining some poison, she poured it into a glass,
and in another instant would have drunk it, had
not her sister's little son of five at that very mo-
ment run in to show her a toy his grandmother had
given him. She caressed the child, and, suddenly
stopping short, burst into tears.

The thought overpowered her that she, too,
might have been a mother had he not been mar-
ried, and this vision of motherhood made her look
into her own soul for the first time. She began to
think not of what others would say of her, but of
her own life. To kill oneself because of what
the world might say was easy; but the moment she
saw her own life dissociated from the world, to
take that life was out of the question. She threw
away the poison, and ceased to think of sui-

Then her life within began. It was real life,
and despite the torture of it, had the possibility
been given her, she would not have turned back
from it. She began to pray, but there was no
comfort in prayer; and her suffering was less for
herself than for her father, whose grief she fore-
saw and understood.

Thus months dragged along, and then some-
thing happened which entirely transformed her
life. One day, when she was at work upon a
quilt, she suddenly experienced a strange sensa-
tion. No--it seemed impossible. Motionless
she sat with her work in hand. Was it possi-
ble that this was IT. Forgetting everything, his
baseness and deceit, her mother's querulousness,
and her father's sorrow, she smiled. She shud-
dered at the recollection that she was on the point
of killing it, together with herself.

She now directed all her thoughts to getting
away--somewhere where she could bear her
child--and become a miserable, pitiful mother,
but a mother withal. Somehow she planned and
arranged it all, leaving her home and settling in a
distant provincial town, where no one could find
her, and where she thought she would be far from
her people. But, unfortunately, her father's
brother received an appointment there, a thing she
could not possibly foresee. For four months she
had been living in the house of a midwife--one
Maria Ivanovna; and, on learning that her uncle
had come to the town, she was preparing to fly to
a still remoter hiding-place.


MICHAEL IVANOVICH awoke early next morning.
He entered his brother's study, and handed him
the cheque, filled in for a sum which he asked him
to pay in monthly instalments to his daughter.
He inquired when the express left for St. Peters-
burg. The train left at seven in the evening,
giving him time for an early dinner before leav-
ing. He breakfasted with his sister-in-law, who
refrained from mentioning the subject which was
so painful to him, but only looked at him timidly;
and after breakfast he went out for his regular
morning walk.

Alexandra Dmitrievna followed him into the

"Go into the public gardens, Michael--it is
very charming there, and quite near to Every-
thing," said she, meeting his sombre looks with a
pathetic glance.

Michael Ivanovich followed her advice and
went to the public gardens, which were so near to
Everything, and meditated with annoyance on the
stupidity, the obstinacy, and heartlessness of

"She is not in the very least sorry for me," he
thought of his sister-in-law. "She cannot even
understand my sorrow. And what of her?"
He was thinking of his daughter. "She knows
what all this means to me--the torture. What
a blow in one's old age! My days will be short-
ened by it! But I'd rather have it over than
endure this agony. And all that 'pour les beaux
yeux d'un chenapan'--oh!" he moaned; and a
wave of hatred and fury arose in him as he
thought of what would be said in the town when
every one knew. (And no doubt every one knew
already.) Such a feeling of rage possessed him
that he would have liked to beat it into her head,
and make her understand what she had done.
These women never understand. "It is quite
near Everything," suddenly came to his mind, and
getting out his notebook, he found her address.
Vera Ivanovna Silvestrova, Kukonskaya Street,
Abromov's house. She was living under this
name. He left the gardens and called a cab.

"Whom do you wish to see, sir?" asked the
midwife, Maria Ivanovna, when he stepped on
the narrow landing of the steep, stuffy staircase.

"Does Madame Silvestrova live here?"

"Vera Ivanovna? Yes; please come in. She
has gone out; she's gone to the shop round the
corner. But she'll be back in a minute."

Michael Ivanovich followed the stout figure of
Maria Ivanovna into a tiny parlour, and from the
next room came the screams of a baby, sounding
cross and peevish, which filled him with disgust.
They cut him like a knife.

Maria Ivanovna apologised, and went into the
room, and he could hear her soothing the child.
The child became quiet, and she returned.

"That is her baby; she'll be back in a minute.
You are a friend of hers, I suppose?"

"Yes--a friend--but I think I had better
come back later on," said Michael Ivanovich, pre-
paring to go. It was too unbearable, this prep-
aration to meet her, and any explanation seemed

He had just turned to leave, when he heard
quick, light steps on the stairs, and he recognised
Lisa's voice.

"Maria Ivanovna--has he been crying while
I've been gone--I was--"

Then she saw her father. The parcel she was
carrying fell from her hands.

"Father!" she cried, and stopped in the door-
way, white and trembling.

He remained motionless, staring at her. She
had grown so thin. Her eyes were larger, her
nose sharper, her hands worn and bony. He
neither knew what to do, nor what to say. He
forgot all his grief about his dishonour. He only
felt sorrow, infinite sorrow for her; sorrow for
her thinness, and for her miserable rough cloth-
ing; and most of all, for her pitiful face and im-
ploring eyes.

"Father--forgive," she said, moving towards

"Forgive--forgive me," he murmured; and
he began to sob like a child, kissing her face and
hands, and wetting them with his tears.

In his pity for her he understood himself. And
when he saw himself as he was, he realised how
he had wronged her, how guilty he had been in
his pride, in his coldness, even in his anger towards
her. He was glad that it was he who was guilty,
and that he had nothing to forgive, but that he
himself needed forgiveness. She took him to her
tiny room, and told him how she lived; but she
did not show him the child, nor did she mention
the past, knowing how painful it would be to him.

He told her that she must live differently.

"Yes; if I could only live in the country," said

"We will talk it over," he said. Suddenly
the child began to wail and to scream. She
opened her eyes very wide; and, not taking them
from her father's face, remained hesitating and

"Well--I suppose you must feed him," said
Michael Ivanovich, and frowned with the obvious

She got up, and suddenly the wild idea seized
her to show him whom she loved so deeply the
thing she now loved best of all in the world.
But first she looked at her father's face. Would
he be angry or not? His face revealed no anger,
only suffering.

"Yes, go, go," said he; "God bless you. Yes.
I'll come again to-morrow, and we will decide.
Good-bye, my darling--good-bye " Again he
found it hard to swallow the lump in his throat.

When Michael Ivanovich returned to his
brother's house, Alexandra Dmitrievna imme-
diately rushed to him.


"Well? Nothing."

"Have you seen?" she asked, guessing from
his expression that something had happened.

"Yes," he answered shortly, and began to cry.
"I'm getting old and stupid," said he, mastering
his emotion.

"No; you are growing wise--very wise."




MINE is a strange and wonderful lot! The
chances are that there is not a single wretched
beggar suffering under the luxury and oppression
of the rich who feels anything like as keenly as I
do either the injustice, the cruelty, and the horror
of their oppression of and contempt for the poor;
or the grinding humiliation and misery which
befall the great majority of the workers, the real
producers of all that makes life possible. I have
felt this for a long time, and as the years have
passed by the feeling has grown and grown, until
recently it reached its climax. Although I feel all
this so vividly, I still live on amid the depravity
and sins of rich society; and I cannot leave it,
because I have neither the knowledge nor the
strength to do so. I cannot. I do not know
how to change my life so that my physical needs
--food, sleep, clothing, my going to and fro--
may be satisfied without a sense of shame and
wrongdoing in the position which I fill.

There was a time when I tried to change my
position, which was not in harmony with my
conscience; but the conditions created by the past,
by my family and its claims upon me, were so
complicated that they would not let me out of
their grasp, or rather, I did not know how to free
myself. I had not the strength. Now that I am
over eighty and have become feeble, I have given
up trying to free myself; and, strange to say, as
my feebleness increases I realise more and more
strongly the wrongfulness of my position, and it
grows more and more intolerable to me.

It has occurred to me that I do not occupy this
position for nothing: that Providence intended
that I should lay bare the truth of my feelings, so
that I might atone for all that causes my suffering,
and might perhaps open the eyes of those--or at
least of some of those--who are still blind to
what I see so clearly, and thus might lighten the
burden of that vast majority who, under existing
conditions, are subjected to bodily and spiritual
suffering by those who deceive them and also
deceive themselves. Indeed, it may be that the
position which I occupy gives me special facilities
for revealing the artificial and criminal relations
which exist between men--for telling the whole
truth in regard to that position without confusing
the issue by attempting to vindicate myself, and
without rousing the envy of the rich and feelings
of oppression in the hearts of the poor and down-
trodden. I am so placed that I not only have no
desire to vindicate myself; but, on the contrary, I
find it necessary to make an effort lest I should
exaggerate the wickedness of the great among
whom I live, of whose society I am ashamed,
whose attitude towards their fellow-men I detest
with my whole soul, though I find it impossible to
separate my lot from theirs. But I must also
avoid the error of those democrats and others
who, in defending the oppressed and the enslaved,
do not see their failings and mistakes, and who do
not make sufficient allowance for the difficulties
created, the mistakes inherited from the past,
which in a degree lessens the responsibility of the
upper classes.

Free from desire for self-vindication, free from
fear of an emancipated people, free from that
envy and hatred which the oppressed feel for their
oppressors, I am in the best possible position to
see the truth and to tell it. Perhaps that is why
Providence placed me in such a position. I will
do my best to turn it to account.


Alexander Ivanovich Volgin, a bachelor and a
clerk in a Moscow bank at a salary of eight
thousand roubles a year, a man much respected in
his own set, was staying in a country-house. His
host was a wealthy landowner, owning some
twenty-five hundred acres, and had married his
guest's cousin. Volgin, tired after an evening
spent in playing vint* for small stakes with
[* A game of cards similar to auction bridge.]
members of the family, went to his room and placed
his watch, silver cigarette-case, pocket-book,
big leather purse, and pocket-brush and comb on a
small table covered with a white cloth, and then,
taking off his coat, waistcoat, shirt, trousers, and
underclothes, his silk socks and English boots, put
on his nightshirt and dressing-gown. His watch
pointed to midnight. Volgin smoked a cigarette,
lay on his face for about five minutes reviewing
the day's impressions; then, blowing out his
candle, he turned over on his side and fell asleep
about one o'clock, in spite of a good deal of rest-
lessness. Awaking next morning at eight he put
on his slippers and dressing-gown, and rang the bell.

The old butler, Stephen, the father of a

family and the grandfather of six grandchildren,
who had served in that house for thirty years,
entered the room hurriedly, with bent legs, carry-
ing in the newly blackened boots which Volgin had
taken off the night before, a well-brushed suit, and
a clean shirt. The guest thanked him, and then
asked what the weather was like (the blinds were
drawn so that the sun should not prevent any one
from sleeping till eleven o'clock if he were so
inclined), and whether his hosts had slept well.
He glanced at his watch--it was still early--
and began to wash and dress. His water was
ready, and everything on the washing-stand and
dressing-table was ready for use and properly laid
out--his soap, his tooth and hair brushes, his nail
scissors and files. He washed his hands and face
in a leisurely fashion, cleaned and manicured his
nails, pushed back the skin with the towel, and
sponged his stout white body from head to foot.
Then he began to brush his hair. Standing in
front of the mirror, he first brushed his curly
beard, which was beginning to turn grey, with two
English brushes, parting it down the middle.
Then he combed his hair, which was already show-
ing signs of getting thin, with a large tortoise-
shell comb. Putting on his underlinen, his socks,
his boots, his trousers--which were held up by
elegant braces--and his waistcoat, he sat down
coatless in an easy chair to rest after dressing,
lit a cigarette, and began to think where he should go
for a walk that morning--to the park or to Lit-
tleports (what a funny name for a wood!). He
thought he would go to Littleports. Then he
must answer Simon Nicholaevich's letter; but
there was time enough for that. Getting up with
an air of resolution, he took out his watch. It
was already five minutes to nine. He put his
watch into his waistcoat pocket, and his purse--
with all that was left of the hundred and eighty
roubles he had taken for his journey, and for the
incidental expenses of his fortnight's stay with
his cousin--and then he placed into his trouser
pocket his cigarette-case and electric cigarette-
lighter, and two clean handkerchiefs into his coat
pockets, and went out of the room, leaving as
usual the mess and confusion which he had made
to be cleared up by Stephen, an old man of over
fifty. Stephen expected Volgin to "remunerate"
him, as he said, being so accustomed to the work
that he did not feel the slightest repugnance for it.
Glancing at a mirror, and feeling satisfied with
his appearance, Volgin went into the dining-room.

There, thanks to the efforts of the housekeeper,
the footman, and under-butler--the latter had
risen at dawn in order to run home to sharpen his
son's scythe--breakfast was ready. On a spot-
less white cloth stood a boiling, shiny, silver
samovar (at least it looked like silver), a coffee-
pot, hot milk, cream, butter, and all sorts of fancy
white bread and biscuits. The only persons at
table were the second son of the house, his tutor
(a student), and the secretary. The host, who
was an active member of the Zemstvo and a great
farmer, had already left the house, having gone
at eight o'clock to attend to his work. Volgin,
while drinking his coffee, talked to the student
and the secretary about the weather, and yester-
day's vint, and discussed Theodorite's peculiar be-
haviour the night before, as he had been very
rude to his father without the slightest cause.
Theodorite was the grown-up son of the house,
and a ne'er-do-well. His name was Theodore,
but some one had once called him Theodorite
either as a joke or to tease him; and, as it seemed
funny, the name stuck to him, although his doings
were no longer in the least amusing. So it was
now. He had been to the university, but left it
in his second year, and joined a regiment of horse
guards; but he gave that up also, and was now
living in the country, doing nothing, finding fault,
and feeling discontented with everything. Theo-
dorite was still in bed: so were the other members
of the household--Anna Mikhailovna, its mis-
tress; her sister, the widow of a general; and a
landscape painter who lived with the family.

Volgin took his panama hat from the hall table
(it had cost twenty roubles) and his cane with its
carved ivory handle, and went out. Crossing the
veranda, gay with flowers, he walked through the
flower garden, in the centre of which was a raised
round bed, with rings of red, white, and blue
flowers, and the initials of the mistress of the
house done in carpet bedding in the centre.
Leaving the flower garden Volgin entered the
avenue of lime trees, hundreds of years old, which
peasant girls were tidying and sweeping with
spades and brooms. The gardener was busy
measuring, and a boy was bringing something in
a cart. Passing these Volgin went into the park
of at least a hundred and twenty-five acres,
filled with fine old trees, and intersected by a
network of well-kept walks. Smoking as he
strolled Volgin took his favourite path past the
summer-house into the fields beyond. It was
pleasant in the park, but it was still nicer in the
fields. On the right some women who were dig-
ging potatoes formed a mass of bright red and
white colour; on the left were wheat fields, mead-
ows, and grazing cattle; and in the foreground,
slightly to the right, were the dark, dark oaks of
Littleports. Volgin took a deep breath, and felt
glad that he was alive, especially here in his
cousin's home, where he was so thoroughly en-
joying the rest from his work at the bank.

"Lucky people to live in the country," he
thought. "True, what with his farming and his
Zemstvo, the owner of the estate has very little
peace even in the country, but that is his own
lookout " Volgin shook his head, lit another
cigarette, and, stepping out firmly with his power-
ful feet clad in his thick English boots, began to
think of the heavy winter's work in the bank that
was in front of him. "I shall be there every day
from ten to two, sometimes even till five. And
the board meetings . . . And private inter-
views with clients. . . . Then the Duma.
Whereas here. . . . It is delightful. It
may be a little dull, but it is not for long " He
smiled. After a stroll in Littleports he turned
back, going straight across a fallow field which
was being ploughed. A herd of cows, calves,
sheep, and pigs, which belonged to the village
community, was grazing there. The shortest
way to the park was to pass through the herd.
He frightened the sheep, which ran away one
after another, and were followed by the pigs, of
which two little ones stared solemnly at him.
The shepherd boy called to the sheep and cracked
his whip. "How far behind Europe we are,"
thought Volgin, recalling his frequent holidays
abroad. "You would not find a single cow like
that anywhere in Europe " Then, wanting to
find out where the path which branched off from
the one he was on led to and who was the owner
of the herd, he called to the boy.

"Whose herd is it?"

The boy was so filled with wonder, verging on
terror, when he gazed at the hat, the well-brushed
beard, and above all the gold-rimmed eyeglasses,
that he could not reply at once. When Volgin
repeated his question the boy pulled himself to-
gether, and said, "Ours." "But whose is
'ours'?" said Volgin, shaking his head and
smiling. The boy was wearing shoes of plaited
birch bark, bands of linen round his legs, a dirty,
unbleached shirt ragged at the shoulder, and a cap
the peak of which had been torn.

"Whose is 'ours'?"

"The Pirogov village herd."

"How old are you?

"I don't know."

"Can you read?"

"No, I can't."

"Didn't you go to school?"

"Yes, I did."

"Couldn't you learn to read?"


"Where does that path lead?"

The boy told him, and Volgin went on to-
wards the house, thinking how he would chaff
Nicholas Petrovich about the deplorable condi-
tion of the village schools in spite of all his ef-

On approaching the house Volgin looked at his
watch, and saw that it was already past eleven.
He remembered that Nicholas Petrovich was
going to drive to the nearest town, and that he
had meant to give him a letter to post to Moscow;
but the letter was not written. The letter was a
very important one to a friend, asking him to bid
for him for a picture of the Madonna which was
to be offered for sale at an auction. As he
reached the house he saw at the door four big,
well-fed, well-groomed, thoroughbred horses har-
nessed to a carriage, the black lacquer of which
glistened in the sun. The coachman was seated
on the box in a kaftan, with a silver belt, and the
horses were jingling their silver bells from time
to time.

A bare-headed, bare-footed peasant in a ragged
kaftan stood at the front door. He bowed.
Volgin asked what he wanted.

"I have come to see Nicholas Petrovich."

"What about?"

"Because I am in distress--my horse has

Volgin began to question him. The peasant
told him how he was situated. He had five chil-
dren, and this had been his only horse. Now
it was gone. He wept.

"What are you going to do?"

"To beg " And he knelt down, and remained
kneeling in spite of Volgin's expostulations.

"What is your name?"

"Mitri Sudarikov," answered the peasant, still

Volgin took three roubles from his purse and
gave them to the peasant, who showed his grat-
itude by touching the ground with his forehead,
and then went into the house. His host was
standing in the hall.

"Where is your letter?" he asked, approach-
ing Volgin; "I am just off."

"I'm awfully sorry, I'll write it this minute, if
you will let me. I forgot all about it. It's so
pleasant here that one can forget anything."

"All right, but do be quick. The horses have
already been standing a quarter of an hour, and
the flies are biting viciously. Can you wait, Ar-
senty?" he asked the coachman.

"Why not?" said the coachman, thinking to
himself, "why do they order the horses when
they aren't ready? The rush the grooms and I
had--just to stand here and feed the flies."

"Directly, directly," Volgin went towards his
room, but turned back to ask Nicholas Petrovich
about the begging peasant.

"Did you see him?--He's a drunkard, but
still he is to be pitied. Do be quick!"

Volgin got out his case, with all the requisites
for writing, wrote the letter, made out a cheque
for a hundred and eighty roubles, and, sealing
down the envelope, took it to Nicholas Petrovich.


Volgin read the newspapers till luncheon. He
only read the Liberal papers: The Russian
Gazette, Speech, sometimes The Russian Word
--but he would not touch The New Times, to
which his host subscribed.

While he was scanning at his ease the political
news, the Tsar's doings, the doings of President,
and ministers and decisions in the Duma, and was
just about to pass on to the general news, thea-
tres, science, murders and cholera, he heard the
luncheon bell ring.

Thanks to the efforts of upwards of ten human
beings--counting laundresses, gardeners, cooks,
kitchen-maids, butlers and footmen--the table
was sumptuously laid for eight, with silver water-
jugs, decanters, kvass, wine, mineral waters, cut
glass, and fine table linen, while two men-servants
were continually hurrying to and fro, bringing
in and serving, and then clearing away the
hors d'oeuvre and the various hot and cold

The hostess talked incessantly about every-
thing that she had been doing, thinking, and say-
ing; and she evidently considered that everything
that she thought, said, or did was perfect, and
that it would please every one except those who
were fools. Volgin felt and knew that every-
thing she said was stupid, but it would never do
to let it be seen, and so he kept up the conversa-
tion. Theodorite was glum and silent; the stu-
dent occasionally exchanged a few words with the
widow. Now and again there was a pause in
the conversation, and then Theodorite interposed,
and every one became miserably depressed. At
such moments the hostess ordered some dish that
had not been served, and the footman hurried
off to the kitchen, or to the housekeeper, and hur-
ried back again. Nobody felt inclined either to
talk or to eat. But they all forced themselves
to eat and to talk, and so luncheon went on.

The peasant who had been begging because his
horse had died was named Mitri Sudarikov. He
had spent the whole day before he went to the
squire over his dead horse. First of all he went
to the knacker, Sanin, who lived in a village near.
The knacker was out, but he waited for him, and
it was dinner-time when he had finished bargain-
ing over the price of the skin. Then he bor-
rowed a neighbour's horse to take his own to a
field to be buried, as it is forbidden to bury dead
animals near a village. Adrian would not lend
his horse because he was getting in his potatoes,
but Stephen took pity on Mitri and gave way to
his persuasion. He even lent a hand in lifting
the dead horse into the cart. Mitri tore off the
shoes from the forelegs and gave them to his
wife. One was broken, but the other one was
whole. While he was digging the grave with a
spade which was very blunt, the knacker appeared
and took off the skin; and the carcass was then
thrown into the hole and covered up. Mitri felt
tired, and went into Matrena's hut, where he
drank half a bottle of vodka with Sanin to con-
sole himself. Then he went home, quarrelled
with his wife, and lay down to sleep on the hay.
He did not undress, but slept just as he was, with
a ragged coat for a coverlet. His wife was in
the hut with the girls--there were four of them,
and the youngest was only five weeks old. Mitri
woke up before dawn as usual. He groaned as
the memory of the day before broke in upon him
--how the horse had struggled and struggled,
and then fallen down. Now there was no horse,
and all he had was the price of the skin, four
roubles and eighty kopeks. Getting up he ar-
ranged the linen bands on his legs, and went
through the yard into the hut. His wife was put-
ting straw into the stove with one hand, with
the other she was holding a baby girl to her
breast, which was hanging out of her dirty

Mitri crossed himself three times, turning
towards the corner in which the ikons hung, and
repeated some utterly meaningless words, which
he called prayers, to the Trinity and the Virgin,
the Creed and our Father.

"Isn't there any water?"

"The girl's gone for it. I've got some tea.
Will you go up to the squire?"

"Yes, I'd better " The smoke from the stove
made him cough. He took a rag off the wooden
bench and went into the porch. The girl had
just come back with the water. Mitri filled his
mouth with water from the pail and squirted it
out on his hands, took some more in his mouth
to wash his face, dried himself with the rag, then
parted and smoothed his curly hair with his fin-
gers and went out. A little girl of about ten,
with nothing on but a dirty shirt, came towards
him. "Good-morning, Uncle Mitri," she said;
"you are to come and thrash." "All right, I'll
come," replied Mitri. He understood that he
was expected to return the help given the week
before by Kumushkir, a man as poor as he was
himself, when he was thrashing his own corn with
a horse-driven machine.

"Tell them I'll come--I'll come at lunch time.
I've got to go to Ugrumi " Mitri went back to
the hut, and changing his birch-bark shoes and the
linen bands on his legs, started off to see the
squire. After he had got three roubles from
Volgin, and the same sum from Nicholas Petro-
vich, he returned to his house, gave the money to
his wife, and went to his neighbour's. The thrash-
ing machine was humming, and the driver was
shouting. The lean horses were going slowly
round him, straining at their traces. The driver
was shouting to them in a monotone, "Now, there,
my dears " Some women were unbinding sheaves,
others were raking up the scattered straw and ears,
and others again were gathering great armfuls of
corn and handing them to the men to feed the
machine. The work was in full swing. In the
kitchen garden, which Mitri had to pass, a girl,
clad only in a long shirt, was digging potatoes
which she put into a basket.

"Where's your grandfather?" asked Mitri.
"He's in the barn " Mitri went to the barn and
set to work at once. The old man of eighty knew
of Mitri's trouble. After greeting him, he gave
him his place to feed the machine.

Mitri took off his ragged coat, laid it out of the
way near the fence, and then began to work vig-
orously, raking the corn together and throwing
it into the machine. The work went on without
interruption until the dinner-hour. The cocks
had crowed two or three times, but no one paid
any attention to them; not because the workers
did not believe them, but because they were
scarcely heard for the noise of the work and the
talk about it. At last the whistle of the squire's
steam thrasher sounded three miles away, and then
the owner came into the barn. He was a straight
old man of eighty. "It's time to stop," he said;
"it's dinner-time " Those at work seemed to
redouble their efforts. In a moment the straw
was cleared away; the grain that had been
thrashed was separated from the chaff and brought
in, and then the workers went into the hut.

The hut was smoke-begrimed, as its stove had
no chimney, but it had been tidied up, and benches
stood round the table, making room for all those
who had been working, of whom there were nine,
not counting the owners. Bread, soup, boiled
potatoes, and kvass were placed on the table.

An old one-armed beggar, with a bag slung over
his shoulder, came in with a crutch during the meal.

"Peace be to this house. A good appetite to
you. For Christ's sake give me something."

"God will give it to you," said the mistress,
already an old woman, and the daughter-in-law of
the master. "Don't be angry with us " An old
man, who was still standing near the door, said,
"Give him some bread, Martha. How can you?"

"I am only wondering whether we shall have
enough." "Oh, it is wrong, Martha. God tells
us to help the poor. Cut him a slice."

Martha obeyed. The beggar went away. The
man in charge of the thrashing-machine got up,
said grace, thanked his hosts, and went away to

Mitri did not lie down, but ran to the shop to
buy some tobacco. He was longing for a smoke.
While he smoked he chatted to a man from
Demensk, asking the price of cattle, as he saw
that he would not be able to manage without sell-
ing a cow. When he returned to the others, they
were already back at work again; and so it went
on till the evening.

Among these downtrodden, duped, and de-
frauded men, who are becoming demoralised by
overwork, and being gradually done to death
by underfeeding, there are men living who
consider themselves Christians; and others so
enlightened that they feel no further need for
Christianity or for any religion, so superior do
they appear in their own esteem. And yet their
hideous, lazy lives are supported by the degrading,
excessive labour of these slaves, not to mention
the labour of millions of other slaves, toiling in
factories to produce samovars, silver, carriages,
machines, and the like for their use. They live
among these horrors, seeing them and yet not
seeing them, although often kind at heart--old
men and women, young men and maidens, mothers
and children--poor children who are being viti-
ated and trained into moral blindness.

Here is a bachelor grown old, the owner of
thousands of acres, who has lived a life of idle-
ness, greed, and over-indulgence, who reads The
New Times, and is astonished that the govern-
ment can be so unwise as to permit Jews to enter
the university. There is his guest, formerly the
governor of a province, now a senator with a big
salary, who reads with satisfaction that a congress
of lawyers has passed a resolution in favor of
capital punishment. Their political enemy, N. P.,
reads a liberal paper, and cannot understand the
blindness of the government in allowing the union
of Russian men to exist.

Here is a kind, gentle mother of a little girl
reading a story to her about Fox, a dog that
lamed some rabbits. And here is this little girl.
During her walks she sees other children, bare-
footed, hungry, hunting for green apples that have
fallen from the trees; and, so accustomed is she
to the sight, that these children do not seem to her
to be children such as she is, but only part of the
usual surroundings--the familiar landscape.

Why is this?



THE young Tsar had just ascended the throne.
For five weeks he had worked without ceasing, in
the way that Tsars are accustomed to work. He
had been attending to reports, signing papers, re-
ceiving ambassadors and high officials who came
to be presented to him, and reviewing troops. He
was tired, and as a traveller exhausted by heat
and thirst longs for a draught of water and for
rest, so he longed for a respite of just one day
at least from receptions, from speeches, from
parades--a few free hours to spend like an ordi-
nary human being with his young, clever, and
beautiful wife, to whom he had been married only
a month before.

It was Christmas Eve. The young Tsar had
arranged to have a complete rest that evening.
The night before he had worked till very late at
documents which his ministers of state had left
for him to examine. In the morning he was
present at the Te Deum, and then at a military
service. In the afternoon he received official
visitors; and later he had been obliged to listen
to the reports of three ministers of state, and had
given his assent to many important matters. In
his conference with the Minister of Finance he
had agreed to an increase of duties on imported
goods, which should in the future add many mil-
lions to the State revenues. Then he sanctioned
the sale of brandy by the Crown in various parts
of the country, and signed a decree permitting the
sale of alcohol in villages having markets. This
was also calculated to increase the principal
revenue to the State, which was derived from the
sale of spirits. He had also approved of the
issuing of a new gold loan required for a financial
negotiation. The Minister of justice having re-
ported on the complicated case of the succession
of the Baron Snyders, the young Tsar confirmed
the decision by his signature; and also approved
the new rules relating to the application of Arti-
cle 1830 of the penal code, providing for the pun-
ishment of tramps. In his conference with the
Minister of the Interior he ratified the order con-
cerning the collection of taxes in arrears, signed
the order settling what measures should be taken
in regard to the persecution of religious dissenters,
and also one providing for the continuance of
martial law in those provinces where it had al-
ready been established. With the Minister of
War he arranged for the nomination of a new
Corps Commander for the raising of recruits, and
for punishment of breach of discipline. These
things kept him occupied till dinner-time, and even
then his freedom was not complete. A number
of high officials had been invited to dinner, and
he was obliged to talk to them: not in the way he
felt disposed to do, but according to what he was
expected to say. At last the tiresome dinner was
over, and the guests departed.

The young Tsar heaved a sigh of relief,
stretched himself and retired to his apartments
to take off his uniform with the decorations on it,
and to don the jacket he used to wear before his
accession to the throne. His young wife had also
retired to take off her dinner-dress, remarking
that she would join him presently.

When he had passed the row of footmen who
were standing erect before him, and reached his
room; when he had thrown off his heavy uniform
and put on his jacket, the young Tsar felt glad to
be free from work; and his heart was filled with a
tender emotion which sprang from the conscious-
ness of his freedom, of his joyous, robust young
life, and of his love. He threw himself on the
sofa, stretched out his legs upon it, leaned his head
on his hand, fixed his gaze on the dull glass shade
of the lamp, and then a sensation which he had not
experienced since his childhood,--the pleasure of
going to sleep, and a drowsiness that was irresist-
ible--suddenly came over him.

"My wife will be here presently and will find
me asleep. No, I must not go to sleep," he
thought. He let his elbow drop down, laid his
cheek in the palm of his hand, made himself com-
fortable, and was so utterly happy that he only
felt a desire not to be aroused from this delight-
ful state.

And then what happens to all of us every day
happened to him--he fell asleep without know-
ing himself when or how. He passed from one
state into another without his will having any
share in it, without even desiring it, and without
regretting the state out of which he had passed.
He fell into a heavy sleep which was like death.
How long he had slept he did not know, but
he was suddenly aroused by the soft touch of a
hand upon his shoulder.

"It is my darling, it is she," he thought.
"What a shame to have dozed off!"

But it was not she. Before his eyes, which
were wide open and blinking at the light, she,
that charming and beautiful creature whom he was
expecting, did not stand, but HE stood. Who HE
was the young Tsar did not know, but somehow
it did not strike him that he was a stranger whom
he had never seen before. It seemed as if he had
known him for a long time and was fond of
him, and as if he trusted him as he would trust
himself. He had expected his beloved wife, but
in her stead that man whom he had never seen
before had come. Yet to the young Tsar, who
was far from feeling regret or astonishment, it
seemed not only a most natural, but also a neces-
sary thing to happen.

"Come!" said the stranger.

"Yes, let us go," said the young Tsar, not
knowing where he was to go, but quite aware
that he could not help submitting to the com-
mand of the stranger. "But how shall we go?"
he asked.

"In this way."

The stranger laid his hand on the Tsar's head,
and the Tsar for a moment lost consciousness.
He could not tell whether he had been uncon-
scious a long or a short time, but when he re-
covered his senses he found himself in a strange
place. The first thing he was aware of was a
strong and stifling smell of sewage. The place
in which he stood was a broad passage lit by the
red glow of two dim lamps. Running along one
side of the passage was a thick wall with windows
protected by iron gratings. On the other side
were doors secured with locks. In the passage
stood a soldier, leaning up against the wall, asleep.
Through the doors the young Tsar heard the
muffled sound of living human beings: not of
one alone, but of many. HE was standing at the
side of the young Tsar, and pressing his shoulder
slightly with his soft hand, pushed him to the
first door, unmindful of the sentry. The young
Tsar felt he could not do otherwise than yield,
and approached the door. To his amazement
the sentry looked straight at him, evidently with-
out seeing him, as he neither straightened himself
up nor saluted, but yawned loudly and, lifting
his hand, scratched the back of his neck. The
door had a small hole, and in obedience to the
pressure of the hand that pushed him, the young
Tsar approached a step nearer and put his eye to
the small opening. Close to the door, the foul
smell that stifled him was stronger, and the young
Tsar hesitated to go nearer, but the hand pushed
him on. He leaned forward, put his eye close
to the opening, and suddenly ceased to perceive
the odour. The sight he saw deadened his sense
of smell. In a large room, about ten yards long
and six yards wide, there walked unceasingly from
one end to the other, six men in long grey
coats, some in felt boots, some barefoot. There
were over twenty men in all in the room, but
in that first moment the young Tsar only saw
those who were walking with quick, even, silent
steps. It was a horrid sight to watch the con-
tinual, quick, aimless movements of the men who
passed and overtook each other, turning sharply
when they reached the wall, never looking at one
another, and evidently concentrated each on his
own thoughts. The young Tsar had observed a
similar sight one day when he was watching a tiger
in a menagerie pacing rapidly with noiseless tread
from one end of his cage to the other, waving its
tail, silently turning when it reached the bars, and
looking at nobody. Of these men one, appar-
ently a young peasant, with curly hair, would
have been handsome were it not for the unnatural
pallor of his face, and the concentrated, wicked,
scarcely human, look in his eyes. Another was
a Jew, hairy and gloomy. The third was a lean
old man, bald, with a beard that had been shaven
and had since grown like bristles. The fourth was
extraordinarily heavily built, with well-developed
muscles, a low receding forehead and a flat nose.
The fifth was hardly more than a boy, long,
thin, obviously consumptive. The sixth was
small and dark, with nervous, convulsive move-
ments. He walked as if he were skipping, and
muttered continuously to himself. They were
all walking rapidly backwards and forwards past
the hole through which the young Tsar was look-
ing. He watched their faces and their gait with
keen interest. Having examined them closely, he
presently became aware of a number of other men
at the back of the room, standing round, or lying
on the shelf that served as a bed. Standing close
to the door he also saw the pail which caused
such an unbearable stench. On the shelf about
ten men, entirely covered with their cloaks, were
sleeping. A red-haired man with a huge beard
was sitting sideways on the shelf, with his shirt
off. He was examining it, lifting it up to the
light, and evidently catching the vermin on it.
Another man, aged and white as snow, stood with
his profile turned towards the door. He was
praying, crossing himself, and bowing low, ap-
parently so absorbed in his devotions as to be
oblivious of all around him.

"I see--this is a prison," thought the young

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest