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The Most Interesting Stories of All Nations

Part 4 out of 8

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"Thanks to Ephraim," said Psyekoff; "but for him, we would never
have guessed. He was the first to guess that something was wrong.
He comes to me this morning, and says: 'Why is the master so long
getting up? He hasn't left his bedroom for a whole week!' The
moment he said that, it was just as if some one had hit me with an
ax. The thought flashed through my mind, 'We haven't had a sight
of him since last Saturday, and to-day is Sunday'! Seven whole
days--not a doubt of it!"

"Ay, poor fellow!" again sighed the inspector. "He was a clever
fellow, finely educated, and kind-hearted at that! And in society,
nobody could touch him! But he was a waster, God rest his soul! I
was prepared for anything since he refused to live with Olga
Petrovna. Poor thing, a good wife, but a sharp tongue! Stephen!"
the inspector called to one of his deputies, "go over to my house
this minute, and send Andrew to the captain to lodge an information
with him! Tell him that Marcus Ivanovitch has been murdered. And
run over to the orderly; why should he sit there, kicking his
heels? Let him come here! And go as fast as you can to the
examining magistrate, Nicholas Yermolaiyevitch. Tell him to come
over here! Wait; I'll write him a note!"

The inspector posted sentinels around the wing, wrote a letter to
the examining magistrate, and then went over to the director's for
a glass of tea. Ten minutes later he was sitting on a stool,
carefully nibbling a lump of sugar, and swallowing the scalding

"There you are!" he was saying to Psyekoff; "there you are! A
noble by birth! a rich man--a favorite of the gods, you may say, as
Pushkin has it, and what did he come to? He drank and dissipated
and--there you are--he's murdered."

After a couple of hours the examining magistrate drove up.
Nicholas Yermolaiyevitch Chubikoff--for that was the magistrate's
name--was a tall, fleshy old man of sixty, who had been wrestling
with the duties of his office for a quarter of a century.
Everybody in the district knew him as an honest man, wise,
energetic, and in love with his work. He was accompanied to the
scene of the murder by his inveterate companion, fellow worker, and
secretary, Dukovski, a tall young fellow of twenty-six.

"Is it possible, gentlemen?" cried Chubikoff, entering Psyekoff's
room, and quickly shaking hands with everyone. Is it possible?
Marcus Ivanovitch? Murdered? No! It is impossible! Im-poss-i-

"Go in there!" sighed the inspector.

"Lord, have mercy on us! Only last Friday I saw him at the fair in
Farabankoff. I had a drink of vodka with him, save the mark!"

"Go in there!" again sighed the inspector.

They sighed, uttered exclamations of horror, drank a glass of tea
each, and went to the wing.

"Get back!" the orderly cried to the peasants.

Going to the wing, the examining magistrate began his work by
examining the bedroom door. The door proved to be of pine, painted
yellow, and was uninjured. Nothing was found which could serve as
a clew. They had to break in the door.

"Everyone not here on business is requested to keep away!" said the
magistrate, when, after much hammering and shaking, the door
yielded to ax and chisel. "I request this, in the interest of the
investigation. Orderly, don't let anyone in!"

Chubikoff, his assistant, and the inspector opened the door, and
hesitatingly, one after the other, entered the room. Their eyes
met the following sight: Beside the single window stood the big
wooden bed with a huge feather mattress. On the crumpled feather
bed lay a tumbled, crumpled quilt. The pillow, in a cotton pillow-
case, also much crumpled, was dragging on the floor. On the table
beside the bed lay a silver watch and a silver twenty-kopeck piece.
Beside them lay some sulphur matches. Beside the bed, the little
table, and the single chair, there was no furniture in the room.
Looking under the bed, the inspector saw a couple of dozen empty
bottles, an old straw hat, and a quart of vodka. Under the table
lay one top boot, covered with dust. Casting a glance around the
room, the magistrate frowned and grew red in the face.

"Scoundrels!" he muttered, clenching his fists.

"And where is Marcus Ivanovitch?" asked Dukovski in a low voice.

"Mind your own business!" Chubikoff answered roughly. "Be good
enough to examine the floor! This is not the first case of the
kind I have had to deal with! Eugraph Kuzmitch," he said, turning
to the inspector, and lowering his voice, "in 1870 I had another
case like this. But you must remember it--the murder of the
merchant Portraitoff. It was just the same there. The scoundrels
murdered him, and dragged the corpse out through the window--"

Chubikoff went up to the window, pulled the curtain to one side,
and carefully pushed the window. The window opened.

"It opens, you see! It wasn't fastened. Hm! There are tracks
under the window. Look! There is the track of a knee! Somebody
got in there. We must examine the window thoroughly."

"There is nothing special to be found on the floor," said Dukovski.
"No stains or scratches. The only thing I found was a struck
safety match. Here it is! So far as I remember, Marcus Ivanovitch
did not smoke. And he always used sulphur matches, never safety
matches. Perhaps this safety match may serve as a clew!"

"Oh, do shut up!" cried the magistrate deprecatingly. "You go on
about your match! I can't abide these dreamers! Instead of
chasing matches, you had better examine the bed!"

After a thorough examination of the bed, Dukovski reported:

"There are no spots, either of blood or of anything else. There
are likewise no new torn places. On the pillow there are signs of
teeth. The quilt is stained with something which looks like beer
and smells like beer. The general aspect of the bed gives grounds
for thinking that a struggle took place on it."

"I know there was a struggle, without your telling me! You are not
being asked about a struggle. Instead of looking for struggles,
you had better--"

"Here is one top boot, but there is no sign of the other."

"Well, and what of that?"

"It proves that they strangled him, while he was taking his boots
off. He hadn't time to take the second boot off when--"

"There you go!--and how do you know they strangled him?"

"There are marks of teeth on the pillow. The pillow itself is
badly crumpled, and thrown a couple of yards from the bed."

"Listen to his foolishness! Better come into the garden. You
would be better employed examining the garden than digging around
here. I can do that without you!"

When they reached the garden they began by examining the grass.
The grass under the window was crushed and trampled. A bushy
burdock growing under the window close to the wall was also
trampled. Dukovski succeeded in finding on it some broken twigs
and a piece of cotton wool. On the upper branches were found some
fine hairs of dark blue wool.

"What color was his last suit?" Dukovski asked Psyekoff.

Yellow crash."

"Excellent! You see they wore blue!"

A few twigs of the burdock were cut off, and carefully wrapped in
paper by the investigators. At this point Police Captain
Artsuybasheff Svistakovski and Dr. Tyutyeff arrived. The captain
bade them "Good day!" and immediately began to satisfy his
curiosity. The doctor, a tall, very lean man, with dull eyes; a
long nose, and a pointed chin, without greeting anyone or asking
about anything, sat down on a log, sighed, and began:

"The Servians are at war again! What in heaven's name can they
want now? Austria, it's all your doing!"

The examination of the window from the outside did not supply any
conclusive data. The examination of the grass and the bushes
nearest to the window yielded a series of useful clews. For
example, Dukovski succeeded in discovering a long, dark streak,
made up of spots, on the grass, which led some distance into the
center of the garden. The streak ended under one of the lilac
bushes in a dark brown stain. Under this same lilac bush was found
a top boot, which turned out to be the fellow of the boot already
found in the bedroom.

"That is a blood stain made some time ago," said Dukovski,
examining the spot.

At the word "blood" the doctor rose, and going over lazily, looked
at the spot.

"Yes, it is blood!" he muttered.

"That shows he wasn't strangled, if there was blood," said
Chubikoff, looking sarcastically at Dukovski.

"They strangled him in the bedroom; and here, fearing he might come
round again, they struck him a blow with some sharp-pointed
instrument. The stain under the bush proves that he lay there a
considerable time, while they were looking about for some way of
carrying him out of the garden.

"Well, and how about the boot?"

"The boot confirms completely my idea that they murdered him while
he was taking his boots off before going to bed. He had already
taken off one boot, and the other, this one here, he had only had
time to take half off. The half-off boot came off of itself, while
the body was dragged over, and fell--"

"There's a lively imagination for you!" laughed Chubikoff. "He
goes on and on like that! When will you learn enough to drop your
deductions? Instead of arguing and deducing, it would be much
better if you took some of the blood-stained grass for analysis!"

When they had finished their examination, and drawn a plan of the
locality, the investigators went to the director's office to write
their report and have breakfast. While they were breakfasting they
went on talking:

"The watch, the money, and so on--all untouched--" Chubikoff began,
leading off the talk, "show as clearly as that two and two are four
that the murder was not committed for the purpose of robbery."

"The murder was committed by an educated man!" insisted Dukovski.

"What evidence have you of that?"

"The safety match proves that to me, for the peasants hereabouts
are not yet acquainted with safety matches. Only the landowners
use them, and by no means all of them. And it is evident that
there was not one murderer, but at least three." Two held him,
while one killed him. Klausoff was strong, and the murderers must
have known it!

"What good would his strength be, supposing he was asleep?"

"The murderers came on him while he was taking off his boots. If
he was taking off his boots, that proves that he wasn't asleep!"

"Stop inventing your deductions! Better eat!"

"In my opinion, your worship," said the gardener Ephraim, setting
the samovar on the table, "it was nobody but Nicholas who did this
dirty trick!"

"Quite possible," said Psyekoff.

"And who is Nicholas?"

"The master's valet, your worship," answered Ephraim. "Who else
could it be? He's a rascal, your worship! He's a drunkard and a
blackguard, the like of which Heaven should not permit! He always
took the master his vodka and put the master to bed. Who else
could it be? And I also venture to point out to your worship, he
once boasted at the public house that he would kill the master! It
happened on account of Aquilina, the woman, you know. He was
making up to a soldier's widow. She pleased the master; the master
made friends with her himself, and Nicholas--naturally, he was mad!
He is rolling about drunk in the kitchen now. He is crying, and
telling lies, saying he is sorry for the master--"

The examining magistrate ordered Nicholas to be brought. Nicholas,
a lanky young fellow, with a long, freckled nose, narrow-chested,
and wearing an old jacket of his master's, entered Psyekoff's room,
and bowed low before the magistrate. His face was sleepy and tear-
stained. He was tipsy and could hardly keep his feet.

"Where is your master?" Chubikoff asked him.

"Murdered! your worship!"

As he said this, Nicholas blinked and began to weep.

"We know he was murdered. But where is he now? Where is his

"They say he was dragged out of the window and buried in the

"Hum! The results of the investigation are known in the kitchen
already!--That's bad! Where were you, my good fellow, the night
the master was murdered? Saturday night, that is."

Nicholas raised his head, stretched his neck, and began to think.

"I don't know, your worship," he said. "I was drunk and don't

"An alibi!" whispered Dukovski, smiling, and rubbing his hands.

"So-o! And why is there blood under the master's window?"

Nicholas jerked his head up and considered.

"Hurry up!" said the Captain of Police.

"Right away! That blood doesn't amount to anything, your worship!
I was cutting a chicken's throat. I was doing it quite simply, in
the usual way, when all of a sudden it broke away and started to
run. That is where the blood came from."

Ephraim declared that Nicholas did kill a chicken every evening,
and always in some new place, but that nobody ever heard of a half-
killed chicken running about the garden, though of course it wasn't

"An alibi," sneered Dukovski; "and what an asinine alibi!"

"Did you know Aquilina?"

"Yes, your worship, I know her."

"And the master cut you out with her?"

"Not at all. HE cut me out--Mr. Psyekoff there, Ivan
Mikhailovitch; and the master cut Ivan Mikhailovitch out. That is
how it was."

Psyekoff grew confused and began to scratch his left eye. Dukovski
looked at him attentively, noted his confusion, and started. He
noticed that the director had dark blue trousers, which he had not
observed before. The trousers reminded him of the dark blue
threads found on the burdock. Chubikoff in his turn glanced
suspiciously at Psyekoff.

"Go!" he said to Nicholas. "And now permit me to put a question to
you, Mr. Psyekoff. Of course you were here last Saturday evening?"

"Yes! I had supper with Marcus Ivanovitch about ten o'clock."

"And afterwards?"

"Afterwards--afterwards--Really, I do not remember," stammered
Psyekoff. "I had a good deal to drink at supper. I don't remember
when or where I went to sleep. Why are you all looking at me like
that, as if I was the murderer?"

"Where were you when you woke up?"

"I was in the servants' kitchen, lying behind the stove! They can
all confirm it. How I got behind the stove I don't know

"Do not get agitated. Did you know Aquilina?"

"There's nothing extraordinary about that--"

"She first liked you and then preferred Klausoff?"

"Yes. Ephraim, give us some more mushrooms! Do you want some more
tea, Eugraph Kuzmitch?"

A heavy, oppressive silence began and lasted fully five minutes.
Dukovski silently kept his piercing eyes fixed on Psyekoff's pale
face. The silence was finally broken by the examining magistrate:

"We must go to the house and talk with Maria Ivanovna, the sister
of the deceased. Perhaps she may be able to supply some clews."

Chubikoff and his assistant expressed their thanks for the
breakfast, and went toward the house. They found Klausoff's
sister, Maria Ivanovna, an old maid of forty-five, at prayer before
the big case of family icons. When she saw the portfolios in her
guests' hands, and their official caps, she grew pale.

"Let me begin by apologizing for disturbing, so to speak, your
devotions," began the gallant Chubikoff, bowing and scraping. "We
have come to you with a request. Of course, you have heard
already. There is a suspicion that your dear brother, in some way
or other, has been murdered. The will of God, you know. No one
can escape death, neither czar nor plowman. Could you not help us
with some clew, some explanation--?"

"Oh, don't ask me!" said Maria Ivanovna, growing still paler, and
covering her face with her hands. "I can tell you nothing.
Nothing! I beg you! I know nothing--What can I do? Oh, no! no!--
not a word about my brother! If I die, I won't say anything!"

Maria Ivanovna began to weep, and left the room. The investigators
looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and beat a retreat.

"Confound the woman!" scolded Dukovski, going out of the house.
"It is clear she knows something, and is concealing it! And the
chambermaid has a queer expression too! Wait, you wretches! We'll
ferret it all out!"

In the evening Chubikoff and his deputy, lit on their road by the
pale moon, wended their way homeward. They sat in their carriage
and thought over the results of the day. Both were tired and kept
silent. Chubikoff was always unwilling to talk while traveling,
and the talkative Dukovski remained silent, to fall in with the
elder man's humor. But at the end of their journey the deputy
could hold in no longer, and said:

"It is quite certain," he said, "that Nicholas had something to do
with the matter. Non dubitandum est! You can see by his face what
sort of a case he is! His alibi betrays him, body and bones. But
it is also certain that he did not set the thing going. He was
only the stupid hired tool. You agree? And the humble Psyekoff
was not without some slight share in the matter. His dark blue
breeches, his agitation, his lying behind the stove in terror after
the murder, his alibi and--Aquilina--"

"'Grind away, Emilian; it's your week!' So, according to you,
whoever knew Aquilina is the murderer! Hothead! You ought to be
sucking a bottle, and not handling affairs! You were one of
Aquilina's admirers yourself--does it follow that you are
implicated too?"

"Aquilina was cook in your house for a month. I am saying nothing
about that! The night before that Saturday I was playing cards
with you, and saw you, otherwise I should be after you too! It
isn't the woman that matters, old chap! It is the mean, nasty, low
spirit of jealousy that matters. The retiring young man was not
pleased when they got the better of him, you see! His vanity,
don't you see? He wanted revenge. Then, those thick lips of his
suggest passion. So there you have it: wounded self-love and
passion. That is quite enough motive for a murder. We have two of
them in our hands; but who is the third? Nicholas and Psyekoff
held him, but who smothered him? Psyekoff is shy, timid, an all-
round coward. And Nicholas would not know how to smother with a
pillow. His sort use an ax or a club. Some third person did the
smothering; but who was it?"

Dukovski crammed his hat down over his eyes and pondered. He
remained silent until the carriage rolled up to the magistrate's

"Eureka!" he said, entering the little house and throwing off his
overcoat. "Eureka, Nicholas Yermolaiyevitch! The only thing I
can't understand is, how it did not occur to me sooner! Do you
know who the third person was?"

"Oh, for goodness sake, shut up! There is supper! Sit down to
your evening meal!"

The magistrate and Dukovski sat down to supper. Dukovski poured
himself out a glass of vodka, rose, drew himself up, and said, with
sparkling eyes:

"Well, learn that the third person, who acted in concert with that
scoundrel Psyekoff, and did the smothering, was a woman! Yes-s! I
mean--the murdered man's sister, Maria Ivanovna!"

Chubikoff choked over his vodka, and fixed his eyes on Dukovski.

"You aren't--what's-its-name? Your head isn't what-do-you-call-it?
You haven't a pain in it?"

"I am perfectly well! Very well, let us say that I am crazy; but
how do you explain her confusion when we appeared? How do you
explain her unwillingness to give us any information? Let us admit
that these are trifles. Very well! All right! But remember their
relations. She detested her brother. She never forgave him for
living apart from his wife. She is of the Old Faith, while in her
eyes he is a godless profligate. There is where the germ of her
hate was hatched. They say he succeeded in making her believe that
he was an angel of Satan. He even went in for spiritualism in her

"Well, what of that?"

"You don't understand? She, as a member of the Old Faith, murdered
him through fanaticism. It was not only that she was putting to
death a weed, a profligate--she was freeing the world of an
antichrist!--and there, in her opinion, was her service, her
religious achievement! Oh, you don't know those old maids of the
Old Faith. Read Dostoyevsky! And what does Lyeskoff say about
them, or Petcherski? It was she, and nobody else, even if you cut
me open. She smothered him! O treacherous woman! wasn't that the
reason why she was kneeling before the icons, when we came in, just
to take our attention away? 'Let me kneel down and pray,' she said
to herself, 'and they will think I am tranquil and did not expect
them!' That is the plan of all novices in crime, Nicholas
Yermolaiyevitch, old pal! My dear old man, won't you intrust this
business to me? Let me personally bring it through! Friend, I
began it and I will finish it!"

Chubikoff shook his head and frowned.

"We know how to manage difficult matters ourselves," he said; "and
your business is not to push yourself in where you don't belong.
Write from dictation when you are dictated to; that is your job!"

Dukovski flared up, banged the door, and disappeared.

"Clever rascal!" muttered Chubikoff, glancing after him. "Awfully
clever! But too much of a hothead. I must buy him a cigar case at
the fair as a present."

The next day, early in the morning, a young man with a big head and
a pursed-up mouth, who came from Klausoff's place, was introduced
to the magistrate's office. He said he was the shepherd Daniel,
and brought a very interesting piece of information.

"I was a bit drunk," he said. "I was with my pal till midnight.
On my way home, as I was drunk, I went into the river for a bath.
I was taking a bath, when I looked up. Two men were walking along
the dam, carrying something black. 'Shoo!' I cried at them. They
got scared, and went off like the wind toward Makareff's cabbage
garden. Strike me dead, if they weren't carrying away the master!"

That same day, toward evening, Psyekoff and Nicholas were arrested
and brought under guard to the district town. In the town they
were committed to the cells of the prison.


A fortnight passed.

It was morning. The magistrate Nicholas Yermolaiyevitch was
sitting in his office before a green table, turning over the papers
of the "Klausoff case"; Dukovski was striding restlessly up and
down, like a wolf in a cage.

"You are convinced of the guilt of Nicholas and Psyekoff," he said,
nervously plucking at his young beard. "Why will you not believe
in the guilt of Maria Ivanovna? Are there not proofs enough for

"I don't say I am not convinced. I am convinced, but somehow I
don't believe it! There are no real proofs, but just a kind of
philosophizing--fanaticism, this and that--"

"You can't do without an ax and bloodstained sheets. Those
jurists! Very well, I'll prove it to you! You will stop sneering
at the psychological side of the affair! To Siberia with your
Maria Ivanovna! I will prove it! If philosophy is not enough for
you, I have something substantial for you. It will show you how
correct my philosophy is. Just give me permission--"

"What are you going on about?"

"About the safety match! Have you forgotten it? I haven't! I am
going to find out who struck it in the murdered man's room. It was
not Nicholas that struck it; it was not Psyekoff, for neither of
them had any matches when they were examined; it was the third
person, Maria Ivanovna. I will prove it to you. Just give me
permission to go through the district to find out."

"That's enough! Sit down. Let us go on with the examination."

Dukovski sat down at a little table, and plunged his long nose in a
bundle of papers.

"Bring in Nicholas Tetekhoff!" cried the examining magistrate.

They brought Nicholas in. Nicholas was pale and thin as a rail.
He was trembling.

"Tetekhoff!" began Chubikoff. "In 1879 you were tried in the Court
of the First Division, convicted of theft, and sentenced to
imprisonment. In 1882 you were tried a second time for theft, and
were again imprisoned. We know all--"

Astonishment was depicted on Nicholas's face. The examining
magistrate's omniscience startled him. But soon his expression of
astonishment changed to extreme indignation. He began to cry and
requested permission to go and wash his face and quiet down. They
led him away.

"Brink in Psyekoff!" ordered the examining magistrate. They
brought in Psyekoff. The young man had changed greatly during the
last few days. He had grown thin and pale, and looked haggard.
His eyes had an apathetic expression.

"Sit down, Psyekoff," said Chubikoff. "I hope that today you are
going to be reasonable, and will not tell lies, as you did before.
All these days you have denied that you had anything to do with the
murder of Klausoff, in spite of all the proofs that testify against
you. That is foolish. Confession will lighten your guilt. This
is the last time I am going to talk to you. If you do not confess
to-day, to-morrow it will be too late. Come, tell me all--"

"I know nothing about it. I know nothing about your proofs,"
answered Psyekoff, almost inaudibly.

"It's no use! Well, let me relate to you how the matter took
place. On Saturday evening you were sitting in Klausoff's sleeping
room, and drinking vodka and beer with him." (Dukovski fixed his
eyes on Psyekoff's face, and kept them there all through the
examination.) "Nicholas was waiting on you. At one o'clock,
Marcus Ivanovitch announced his intention of going to bed. He
always went to bed at one o'clock. When he was taking off his
boots, and was giving you directions about details of management,
you and Nicholas, at a given signal, seized your drunken master and
threw him on the bed. One of you sat on his legs, the other on his
head. Then a third person came in from the passage--a woman in a
black dress, whom you know well, and who had previously arranged
with you as to her share in your criminal deed. She seized a
pillow and began to smother him. While the struggle was going on
the candle went out. The woman took a box of safety matches from
her pocket, and lit the candle. Was it not so? I see by your face
that I am speaking the truth. But to go on. After you had
smothered him, and saw that he had ceased breathing, you and
Nicholas pulled him out through the window and laid him down near
the burdock. Fearing that he might come round again, you struck
him with something sharp. Then you carried him away, and laid him
down under a lilac bush for a short time. After resting awhile and
considering, you carried him across the fence. Then you entered
the road. After that comes the dam. Near the dam, a peasant
frightened you. Well, what is the matter with you?"

"I am suffocating!" replied Psyekoff. "Very well--have it so.
Only let me go out, please!"

They led Psyekoff away.

"At last! He has confessed!" cried Chubikoff, stretching himself
luxuriously. "He has betrayed himself! And didn't I get round him
cleverly! Regularly caught him flapping--"

"And he doesn't deny the woman in the black dress!" exulted
Dukovski. "But all the same, that safety match is tormenting me
frightfully. I can't stand it any longer. Good-by! I am off!"

Dukovski put on his cap and drove off. Chubikoff began to examine
Aquilina. Aquilina declared that she knew nothing whatever about

At six that evening Dukovski returned. He was more agitated than
he had ever been before. His hands trembled so that he could not
even unbutton his greatcoat. His cheeks glowed. It was clear that
he did not come empty-handed.

"Veni, vidi, vici!" he cried, rushing into Chubikoff's room, and
falling into an armchair. "I swear to you on my honor, I begin to
believe that I am a genius! Listen, devil take us all! It is
funny, and it is sad. We have caught three already--isn't that so?
Well, I have found the fourth, and a woman at that. You will never
believe who it is! But listen. I went to Klausoff's village, and
began to make a spiral round it. I visited all the little shops,
public houses, dram shops on the road, everywhere asking for safety
matches. Everywhere they said they hadn't any. I made a wide
round. Twenty times I lost faith, and twenty times I got it back
again. I knocked about the whole day, and only an hour ago I got
on the track. Three versts from here. They gave me a packet of
ten boxes. One box was missing. Immediately: 'Who bought the
other box?' 'Such-a-one! She was pleased with them!' Old man!
Nicholas Yermolaiyevitch! See what a fellow who was expelled from
the seminary and who has read Gaboriau can do! From to-day on I
begin to respect myself! Oof! Well, come!"

"Come where?"

"To her, to number four! We must hurry, otherwise--otherwise I'll
burst with impatience! Do you know who she is? You'll never
guess! Olga Petrovna, Marcus Ivanovitch's wife--his own wife--
that's who it is! She is the person who bought the matchbox!"

"You--you--you are out of your mind!"

"It's quite simple! To begin with, she smokes. Secondly, she was
head and ears in love with Klausoff, even after he refused to live
in the same house with her, because she was always scolding his
head off. Why, they say she used to beat him because she loved him
so much. And then he positively refused to stay in the same house.
Love turned sour. 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.' But
come along! Quick, or it will be dark. Come!"

"I am not yet sufficiently crazy to go and disturb a respectable
honorable woman in the middle of the night for a crazy boy!"

"Respectable, honorable! Do honorable women murder their husbands?
After that you are a rag, and not an examining magistrate! I never
ventured to call you names before, but now you compel me to. Rag!
Dressing-gown!--Dear Nicholas Yermolaiyevitch, do come, I beg of

The magistrate made a deprecating motion with his hand.

"I beg of you! I ask, not for myself, but in the interests of
justice. I beg you! I implore you! Do what I ask you to, just
this once!"

Dukovski went down on his knees.

"Nicholas Yermolaiyevitch! Be kind! Call me a blackguard, a
ne'er-do-weel, if I am mistaken about this woman. You see what an
affair it is. What a case it is. A romance! A woman murdering
her own husband for love! The fame of it will go all over Russia.
They will make you investigator in all important cases.
Understand, O foolish old man!"

The magistrate frowned, and undecidedly stretched his hand toward
his cap.

"Oh, the devil take you!" he said. "Let us go!"

It was dark when the magistrate's carriage rolled up to the porch
of the old country house in which Olga Petrovna had taken refuge
with her brother.

"What pigs we are," said Chubikoff, taking hold of the bell, "to
disturb a poor woman like this!"

"It's all right! It's all right! Don't get frightened! We can
say that we have broken a spring."

Chubikoff and Dukovski were met at the threshold by a tall buxom
woman of three and twenty, with pitch-black brows and juicy red
lips. It was Olga Petrovna herself, apparently not the least
distressed by the recent tragedy.

"Oh, what a pleasant surprise!" she said, smiling broadly. "You
are just in time for supper. Kuzma Petrovitch is not at home. He
is visiting the priest, and has stayed late. But we'll get on
without him! Be seated. You have come from the examination?"

"Yes. We broke a spring, you know," began Chubikoff, entering the
sitting room and sinking into an armchair.

"Take her unawares--at once!" whispered Dukovski; "take her

"A spring--hum--yes--so we came in."

"Take her unawares, I tell you! She will guess what the matter is
if you drag things out like that."

"Well, do it yourself as you want. But let me get out of it,"
muttered Chubikoff, rising and going to the window.

"Yes, a spring," began Dukovski, going close to Olga Petrovna and
wrinkling his long nose. "We did not drive over here--to take
supper with you or--to see Kuzma Petrovitch. We came here to ask
you, respected madam, where Marcus Ivanovitch is, whom you

"What? Marcus Ivanovitch murdered?" stammered Olga Petrovna, and
her broad face suddenly and instantaneously flushed bright scarlet.
"I don't--understand!"

"I ask you in the name of the law! Where is Klausoff? We know

"Who told you?" Olga Petrovna asked in a low voice, unable to
endure Dukovski's glance.

"Be so good as to show us where he is!"

"But how did you find out? Who told you?"

"We know all! I demand it in the name of the law!"

The examining magistrate, emboldened by her confusion, came forward
and said:

"Show us, and we will go away. Otherwise, we--"

"What do you want with him?"

"Madam, what is the use of these questions? We ask you to show us!
You tremble, you are agitated. Yes, he has been murdered, and, if
you must have it, murdered by you! Your accomplices have betrayed

Olga Petrovna grew pale.

"Come!" she said in a low voice, wringing her hands. "I have him--
hid--in the bath house! Only for heaven's sake, do not tell Kuzma
Petrovitch. I beg and implore you! He will never forgive me!"

Olga Petrovna took down a big key from the wall, and led her guests
through the kitchen and passage to the courtyard. The courtyard
was in darkness. Fine rain was falling. Olga Petrovna walked in
advance of them. Chubikoff and Dukovski strode behind her through
the long grass, as the odor of wild hemp and dishwater splashing
under their feet reached them. The courtyard was wide. Soon the
dishwater ceased, and they felt freshly broken earth under their
feet. In the darkness appeared the shadowy outlines of trees, and
among the trees a little house with a crooked chimney.

"That is the bath house," said Olga Petrovna. "But I implore you,
do not tell my brother! If you do, I'll never hear the end of it!"

Going up to the bath house, Chubikoff and Dukovski saw a huge
padlock on the door.

"Get your candle and matches ready," whispered the examining
magistrate to his deputy.

Olga Petrovna unfastened the padlock, and let her guests into the
bath house. Dukovski struck a match and lit up the anteroom. In
the middle of the anteroom stood a table. On the table, beside a
sturdy little samovar, stood a soup tureen with cold cabbage soup
and a plate with the remnants of some sauce.


They went into the next room, where the bath was. There was a
table there also. On the table was a dish with some ham, a bottle
of vodka, plates, knives, forks.

"But where is it--where is the murdered man?" asked the examining

"On the top tier," whispered Olga Petrovna, still pale and

Dukovski took the candle in his hand and climbed up to the top tier
of the sweating frame. There he saw a long human body lying
motionless on a large feather bed. A slight snore came from the

"You are making fun of us, devil take it!" cried Dukovski. "That
is not the murdered man! Some live fool is lying here. Here,
whoever you are, the devil take you!"

The body drew in a quick breath and stirred. Dukovski stuck his
elbow into it. It raised a hand, stretched itself, and lifted its

"Who is sneaking in here?" asked a hoarse, heavy bass. "What do
you want?"

Dukovski raised the candle to the face of the unknown, and cried
out. In the red nose, disheveled, unkempt hair, the pitch-black
mustaches, one of which was jauntily twisted and pointed insolently
toward the ceiling, he recognized the gallant cavalryman Klausoff.

"You--Marcus--Ivanovitch? Is it possible?"

The examining magistrate glanced sharply up at him, and stood

"Yes, it is I. That's you, Dukovski? What the devil do you want
here? And who's that other mug down there? Great snakes! It is
the examining magistrate! What fate has brought him here?"

Klausoff rushed down and threw his arms round Chubikoff in a
cordial embrace. Olga Petrovna slipped through the door.

"How did you come here? Let's have a drink, devil take it! Tra-
ta-ti-to-tum--let us drink! But who brought you here? How did you
find out that I was here? But it doesn't matter! Let's have a

Klausoff lit the lamp and poured out three glasses of vodka.

"That is--I don't understand you," said the examining magistrate,
running his hands over him. "Is this you or not you!"

"Oh, shut up! You want to preach me a sermon? Don't trouble
yourself! Young Dukovski, empty your glass! Friends, let us bring
this--What are you looking at? Drink!"

"All the same, I do not understand!" said the examining magistrate,
mechanically drinking off the vodka. "What are you here for?"

"Why shouldn't I be here, if I am all right here?"

Klausoff drained his glass and took a bite of ham.

"I am in captivity here, as you see. In solitude, in a cavern,
like a ghost or a bogey. Drink! She carried me off and locked me
up, and--well, I am living here, in the deserted bath house, like a
hermit. I am fed. Next week I think I'll try to get out. I'm
tired of it here!"

"Incomprehensible!" said Dukovski.

"What is incomprehensible about it?"

"Incomprehensible! For Heaven's sake, how did your boot get into
the garden?"

"What boot?"

"We found one boot in the sleeping room and the other in the

"And what do you want to know that for? It's none of your
business! Why don't you drink, devil take you? If you wakened me,
then drink with me! It is an interesting tale, brother, that of
the boot! I didn't want to go with Olga. I don't like to be
bossed. She came under the window and began to abuse me. She
always was a termagant. You know what women are like, all of them.
I was a bit drunk, so I took a boot and heaved it at her. Ha-ha-
ha! Teach her not to scold another time! But it didn't! Not a
bit of it! She climbed in at the window, lit the lamp, and began
to hammer poor tipsy me. She thrashed me, dragged me over here,
and locked me in. She feeds me now--on love, vodka, and ham! But
where are you off to, Chubikoff? Where are you going?"

The examining magistrate swore, and left the bath house. Dukovski
followed him, crestfallen. They silently took their seats in the
carriage and drove off. The road never seemed to them so long and
disagreeable as it did that time. Both remained silent. Chubikoff
trembled with rage all the way. Dukovski hid his nose in the
collar of his overcoat, as if he was afraid that the darkness and
the drizzling rain might read the shame in his face.

When they reached home, the examining magistrate found Dr. Tyutyeff
awaiting him. The doctor was sitting at the table, and, sighing
deeply, was turning over the pages of the Neva.

"Such goings-on there are in the world!" he said, meeting the
examining magistrate with a sad smile. "Austria is at it again!
And Gladstone also to some extent--"

Chubikoff threw his cap under the table, and shook himself.

"Devils' skeletons! Don't plague me! A thousand times I have told
you not to bother me with your politics! This is no question of
politics! And you," said Chubikoff, turning to Dukovski and
shaking his fist, "I won't forget this in a thousand years!"

"But the safety match? How could I know?"

"Choke yourself with your safety match! Get out of my way! Don't
make me mad, or the devil only knows what I'll do to you! Don't
let me see a trace of you!"

Dukovski sighed, took his hat, and went out.

"I'll go and get drunk," he decided, going through the door, and
gloomily wending his way to the public house.

Vsevolod Vladimirovitch Krestovski

Knights of Industry



Princess Anna Chechevinski for the last time looked at the home of
her girlhood, over which the St. Petersburg twilight was
descending. Defying the commands of her mother, the traditions of
her family, she had decided to elope with the man of her choice.
With a last word of farewell to her maid, she wrapped her cloak
round her and disappeared into the darkness.

The maid's fate had been a strange one. In one of the districts
beyond the Volga lived a noble, a bachelor, luxuriously, caring
only for his own amusement. He fished, hunted, and petted the
pretty little daughter of his housekeeper, one of his serfs, whom
he vaguely intended to set free. He passed hours playing with the
pretty child, and even had an old French governess come to give her
lessons. She taught little Natasha to dance, to play the piano, to
put on the airs and graces of a little lady. So the years passed,
and the old nobleman obeyed the girl's every whim, and his serfs
bowed before her and kissed her hands. Gracefully and willfully
she queened it over the whole household.

Then one fine day the old noble took thought and died. He had
forgotten to liberate his housekeeper and her daughter, and, as he
was a bachelor, his estate went to his next of kin, the elder
Princess Chechevinski. Between the brother and sister a cordial
hatred had existed, and they had not seen one another for years.

Coming to take possession of the estate, Princess Chechevinski
carried things with a high hand. She ordered the housekeeper to
the cow house, and carried off the girl Natasha, as her daughter's
maid, to St. Petersburg, from the first hour letting her feel the
lash of her bitter tongue and despotic will. Natasha had tried in
vain to dry her mother's tears. With growing anger and sorrow she
watched the old house as they drove away, and looking at the old
princess she said to herself, "I hate her! I hate her! I will
never forgive her!"

Princess Anna, bidding her maid good-by, disappeared into the
night. The next morning the old princess learned of the flight.
Already ill, she fell fainting to the floor, and for a long time
her condition was critical. She regained consciousness, tried to
find words to express her anger, and again swooned away. Day and
night, three women watched over her, her son's old nurse, her maid,
and Natasha, who took turns in waiting on her. Things continued
thus for forty-eight hours. Finally, on the night of the third day
she came to herself. It was Natasha's watch.

"And you knew? You knew she was going?" the old princess asked her

The girl started, unable at first to collect her thoughts, and
looked up frightened. The dim flicker of the night light lit her
pale face and golden hair, and fell also on the grim, emaciated
face of the old princess, whose eyes glittered feverishly under her
thick brows.

"You knew my daughter was going to run away?" repeated the old
woman, fixing her keen eyes on Natasha's face, trying to raise
herself from among the lace-fringed pillows.

"I knew," the girl answered in a half whisper, lowering her eyes in
confusion, and trying to throw off her first impression of terror.

"Why did you not tell me before?" the old woman continued, even
more fiercely.

Natasha had now recovered her composure, and raising her eyes with
an expression of innocent distress, she answered:

"Princess Anna hid everything from me also, until the very last.
How dare I tell you? Would you have believed me? It was not my
business, your excellency!"

The old princess shook her head, smiling bitterly and

"Snake!" she hissed fiercely, looking at the girl; and then she
added quickly:

"Did any of the others know?"

"No one but myself!" answered Natasha.

"Never dare to speak of her again! Never dare!" cried the old
princess, and once more she sank back unconscious on the pillows.

About noon the next day she again came to herself, and ordered her
son to be called. He came in quietly, and affectionately
approached his mother.

The princess dismissed her maid, and remained alone with her son.

"You have no longer a sister!" she cried, turning to her son, with
the nervous spasm which returned each time she spoke of her
daughter. "She is dead for us! She has disgraced us! I curse
her! You, you alone are my heir!"

At these words the young prince pricked up his ears and bent even
more attentively toward his mother. The news of his sole heirship
was so pleasant and unexpected that he did not even think of asking
how his sister had disgraced them, and only said with a deep sigh:

"Oh, mamma, she was always opposed to you. She never loved you!"

"I shall make a will in your favor," continued the princess,
telling him as briefly as possible of Princess Anna's flight.
"Yes, in your favor--only on one condition: that you will never
recognize your sister. That is my last wish!

"Your wish is sacred to me," murmured her son, tenderly kissing her
hand. He had always been jealous and envious of his sister, and
was besides in immediate need of money.

The princess signed her will that same day, to the no small
satisfaction of her dear son, who, in his heart, was wondering how
soon his beloved parent would pass away, so that he might get his
eyes on her long-hoarded wealth.



Later on the same day, in a little narrow chamber of one of the
huge, dirty tenements on Vosnesenski Prospekt, sat a young man of
ruddy complexion. He was sitting at a table, bending toward the
one dusty window, and attentively examining a white twenty-five
ruble note.

The room, dusty and dark, was wretched enough. Two rickety chairs,
a torn haircloth sofa, with a greasy pillow, and the bare table at
the window, were its entire furniture. Several scattered
lithographs, two or three engravings, two slabs of lithographer's
stone on the table, and engraver's tools sufficiently showed the
occupation of the young man. He was florid, with red hair; of
Polish descent, and his name was Kasimir Bodlevski. On the wall,
over the sofa, between the overcoat and the cloak hanging on the
wall, was a pencil drawing of a young girl. It was the portrait of

The young man was so absorbed in his examination of the twenty-five
ruble note that when a gentle knock sounded on the door he started
nervously, as if coming back to himself, and even grew pale, and
hurriedly crushed the banknote into his pocket.

The knock was repeated--and this time Bodlevski's face lit up. It
was evidently a well-known and expected knock, for he sprang up and
opened the door with a welcoming smile.

Natasha entered the room.

"What were you dreaming about that you didn't open the door for
me?" she asked caressingly, throwing aside her hat and cloak, and
taking a seat on the tumble-down sofa. "What were you busy at?"

"You know, yourself."

And instead of explaining further, he drew the banknote from his
pocket and showed it to Natasha.

"This morning the master paid me, and I am keeping the money," he
continued in a low voice, tilting back his chair. "I pay neither
for my rooms nor my shop, but sit here and study all the time."

"It's so well worth while, isn't it?" smiled Natasha with a
contemptuous grimace.

"You don't think it is worth while?" said the young man. "Wait!
I'll learn. We'll be rich!

"Yes, if we aren't sent to Siberia!" the girl laughed. "What kind
of wealth is that?" she went on. "The game is not worth the
candle. I'll be rich before you are."

"All right, go ahead!"

"Go ahead? I didn't come to talk nonsense, I came on business.
You help me, and, on my word of honor, we'll be in clover!"

Bodlevski looked at his companion in astonishment.

"I told you my Princess Anna was going to run away. She's gone!
And her mother has cut her off from the inheritance," Natasha
continued with an exultant smile. "I looked through the scrap
basket, and have brought some papers with me."

"What sort of papers?"

"Oh, letters and notes. They are all in Princess Anna's
handwriting. Shall I give them to you?" jested Natasha. "Have a
good look at them, examine them, learn her handwriting, so that you
can imitate every letter. That kind of thing is just in your line;
you are a first-class copyist, so this is just the job for you."

The engraver listened, and only shrugged his shoulders.

"No, joking aside," she continued seriously, drawing nearer
Bodlevski, "I have thought of something out of the common; you will
be grateful. I have no time to explain it all now. You will know
later on. The main thing is--learn her handwriting."

"But what is it all for?" said Bodlevski wonderingly.

"So that you may be able to write a few words in the handwriting of
Princess Anna; what you have to write I'll dictate to you."

"And then?"

"Then hurry up and get me a passport in some one else's name, and
have your own ready. But learn her handwriting. Everything
depends on that!"

"It won't be easy. I'll hardly be able to!" muttered Bodlevski,
scratching his head.

Natasha flared up.

"You say you love me?" she cried energetically, with a glance of
anger. "Well, then, do it. Unless you are telling lies, you can
learn to do banknotes."

The young man strode up and down his den, perplexed.

"How soon do you want it?" he asked, after a minute's thought. "In
a couple of days?"

"Yes, in about two days, not longer, or the whole thing is done
for!" the girl replied decisively. "In two days I'll come for the
writing, and be sure my passport is ready!"

"Very well. I'll do it," consented Bodlevski. And Natasha began
to dictate to him the wording of the letter.

As soon as she was gone the engraver got to work. All the evening
and a great part of the night he bent over the papers she had
brought, examining the handwriting, studying the letters, and
practicing every stroke with the utmost care, copying and repeating
it a hundred times, until at last he had reached the required
clearness. At last he mastered the writing. It only remained to
give it the needed lightness and naturalness. His head rang from
the concentration of blood in his temples, but he still worked on.

Finally, when it was almost morning, the note was written, and the
name of Princess Anna was signed to it. The work was a
masterpiece, and even exceeded Bodlevski's expectations. Its
lightness and clearness were remarkable. The engraver, examining
the writing of Princess Anna, compared it with his own work, and
was astonished, so perfect was the resemblance.

And long he admired his handiwork, with the parental pride known to
every creator, and as he looked at this note he for the first time
fully realized that he was an artist.



"Half the work is done!" he cried, jumping from the tumble-down
sofa. "But the passport? There's where the shoe pinches,"
continued the engraver, remembering the second half of Natasha's
commission. "The passport--yes--that's where the shoe pinches!" he
muttered to himself in perplexity, resting his head on his hands
and his elbows on his knees. Thinking over all kinds of possible
and impossible plans, he suddenly remembered a fellow countryman of
his, a shoemaker named Yuzitch, who had once confessed in a moment
of intoxication that "he would rather hook a watch than patch a
shoe." Bodlevski remembered that three months before he had met
Yuzitch in the street, and they had gone together to a wine shop,
where, over a bottle generously ordered by Yuzitch, Bodlevski had
lamented over the hardships of mankind in general, and his own in
particular. He had not taken advantage of Yuzitch's offer to
introduce him to "the gang," only because he had already determined
to take up one of the higher branches of the "profession," namely,
to metamorphose white paper into, banknotes. When they were
parting, Yuzitch had warmly wrung his hand, saying:

"Whenever you want anything, dear friend, or if you just want to
see me, come to the Cave; come to Razyeziy Street and ask for the
Cave, and at the Cave anyone will show you where to find Yuzitch.
If the barkeeper makes difficulties just whisper to him that
'Secret' sent you, and he'll show you at once."

As this memory suddenly flashed into his mind, Bodlevski caught up
his hat and coat and hurried downstairs into the street. Making
his way through the narrow, dirty streets to the Five Points, he
stopped perplexed. Happily he noticed a sleepy watchman leaning
leisurely against a wall, and going up to him he said:

"Tell me, where is the Cave?"

"The what?" asked the watchman impatiently.

"The Cave."

"The Cave? There is no such place!" he replied, looking
suspiciously at Bodlevski.

Bodlevski put his hand in his pocket and pulled out some small
change: "If you tell me--"

The watchman brightened up. "Why didn't you say so before?" he
asked, grinning. "You see that house, the second from the corner?
The wooden one? That's the Cave."

Bodlevski crossed the street in the direction indicated, and looked
for the sign over the door. To his astonishment he did not find it
and only later he knew that the name was strictly "unofficial,"
only used by members of "the gang."

Opening the door cautiously, Bodlevski made his way into the low,
dirty barroom. Behind the bar stood a tall, handsome man with an
open countenance and a bald head. Politely bowing to Bodlevski,
with his eyes rather than his head, he invited him to enter the
inner room. But Bodlevski explained that he wanted, not the inner
room, but his friend Yuzitch.

"Yuzitch?" said the barkeeper thoughtfully. "We don't know anyone
of that name."

"Why, he's here all the time," cried Bodlevski, in astonishment.

"Don't know him," retorted the barkeeper imperturbably.

"'Secret' sent me!" Bodlevski suddenly exclaimed, without lowering
his voice.

The barkeeper looked at him sharply and suspiciously, and then
asked, with a smile:

"Who did you say?"

"'Secret,'" repeated Bodlevski.

After a while the barkeeper said, "And did your--friend make an

"Yes, an appointment!" Bodlevski replied, beginning to lose

"Well, take a seat in the inner room," again said the barkeeper
slyly. "Perhaps your friend will come in, or perhaps he is there

Bodlevski made his way into a roomy saloon, with five windows with
faded red curtains. The ceiling was black from the smoke of
hanging lamps; little square tables were dotted about the floor;
their covers were coarse and not above reproach on the score of
cleanliness. The air was pungent with the odor of cheap tobacco
and cheaper cigars. On the walls were faded oleographs of generals
and archbishops, flyblown and stained.

Bodlevski, little as he was used to refined surroundings, found his
gorge rising. At some of the little tables furtive, impudent,
tattered, sleek men were drinking.

Presently Yuzitch made his appearance from a low door at the other
end of the room. The meeting of the two friends was cordial,
especially on Bodlevski's side. Presently they were seated at a
table, with a flask of wine between them, and Bodlevski began to
explain what he wanted to his friend.

As soon as he heard what was wanted, Yuzitch took on an air of
importance, knit his brows, hemmed, and hawed.

"I can manage it," he said finally. "Yes, we can manage it. I
must see one of my friends about it. But it's difficult. It will
cost money."

Bodlevski immediately assented. Yuzitch at once rose and went over
to a red-nosed individual in undress uniform, who was poring over
the Police News.

"Friend Borisovitch," said Yuzitch, holding out his hand to him,
"something doing!"

"Fair or foul?" asked the man with the red nose.

"Hang your cheek!" laughed Yuzitch; "if I say it, of course it's
fair." After a whispered conference, Yuzitch returned to Bodlevski
and told him that it was all right; that the passport for Natasha
would be ready by the next evening. Bodlevski paid him something
in advance and went home triumphantly.

At eleven o'clock the next evening Bodlevski once more entered the
large room at the Cave, now all lit up and full of an animated
crowd of men and women, all with the same furtive, predatory faces.
Bodlevski felt nervous. He had no fears while turning white paper
into banknotes in the seclusion of his own workshop, but he was
full of apprehensions concerning his present guest, because several
people had to be let into the secret.

Yuzitch presently appeared through the same low door and, coming up
to Bodlevski, explained that the passport would cost twenty rubles.
Bodlevski paid the money over in advance, and Yuzitch led him into
a back room. On the table burned a tallow candle, which hardly lit
up the faces of seven people who were grouped round it, one of them
being the red-nosed man who was reading the Police News. The seven
men were all from the districts of Vilna and Vitebsk, and were
specialists in the art of fabricating passports.

The red-nosed man approached Bodlevski: "We must get acquainted
with each other," he said amiably. "I have the honor to present
myself!" and he bowed low; "Former District Secretary Pacomius
Borisovitch Prakkin. Let me request you first of all to order some
vodka; my hand shakes, you know," he added apologetically. "I
don't want it so much for myself as for my hand--to steady it."

Bodlevski gave him some change, which the red-nosed man put in his
pocket and at once went to the sideboard for a flask of vodka which
he had already bought. "Let us give thanks! And now to business!"
he said, smacking his lips after a glass of vodka.

A big, red-haired man, one of the group of seven, drew from his
pocket two vials. In one was a sticky black fluid; in the other,
something as clear as water.

"We are chemists, you see," the red-nosed man explained to
Bodlevski with a grin, and then added:

"Finch! on guard!"

A young man, who had been lolling on a couch in the corner, rose
and took up a position outside the door.

"Now, brothers, close up!" cried the red-nosed man, and all stood
in close order, elbow to elbow, round the table. "And now we take
a newspaper and have it handy on the table! That is in case," he
explained to Bodlevski, "any outsider happened in on us--which
Heaven prevent! We aren't up to anything at all; simply reading
the political news! You catch on?"

"How could I help catching on?"

"Very well. And now let us make everything as clear as in a
looking-glass. What class do you wish to make the person belong
to? The commercial or the nobility?"

"I think the nobility would be best," said Bodlevski.

"Certainly! At least that will give the right of free passage
through all the towns and districts of the Russian Empire. Let us
see. Have we not something that will suit?"

And Pacomius Borisovitch, opening his portfolio, filled with all
kinds of passports, certificates, and papers of identification,
began to turn them over, but without taking any out of the
portfolio. All with the same thought--that some stranger might
come in.

"Ha! here's a new one! Where did it come from?" he cried.

"I got it out of a new arrival," muttered the red-headed man.

"Well done! Just what we want! And a noble's passport, too! It
is evident that Heaven is helping us. See what a blessing brings!

"'This passport is issued by the District of Yaroslav,'" he
continued reading, "'to the college assessor's widow, Maria
Solontseva, with permission to travel,'" and so on in due form.
"Did you get it here?" he added, turning to the red-headed man.

"Came from Moscow!"


"Knocked on the head!" briefly replied the red-headed man.

"Knocked on the head?" repeated Pacomius Borisovitch. "Serious
business. Comes under sections 332 and 727 of the Penal Code."

"Driveling again!" cried the red-headed man. "I'll teach you to
talk about the Penal Code!" and rising deliberately, he dealt
Pacomius Borisovitch a well-directed blow on the head, which sent
him rolling into the corner. Pacomius picked himself up, blinking
with indignation.

"What is the meaning of such conduct?" he asked loftily.

"It means," said the red-headed man, "that if you mention the Penal
Code again I'll knock your head off!"

"Brothers, brothers!" cried Yuzitch in a good-humored tone; "we are
losing precious time! Forgive him!" he added, turning to Pacomius.
"You must forgive him!"

"I--forgive him," answered Pacomius, but the light in his eye
showed that he was deeply offended.

"Well," he went on, addressing Bodlevski, "will it suit you to have
the person pass as Maria Solontseva, widow of a college assessor?"



Bodlevski had not time to nod his head in assent, when suddenly the
outer door was pushed quickly open and a tall man, well built and
fair-haired, stepped swiftly into the room. He wore a military
uniform and gold-rimmed eyeglasses.

The company turned their faces toward him in startled surprise, but
no one moved. All continued to stand in close order round the

"Health to you, eaglets! honorable men of Vilna! What are you up
to? What are you busy at?" cried the newcomer, swiftly approaching
the table and taking the chair that Pacomius Borisovitch had just
been knocked out of.

"What is all this?" he continued, with one hand seizing the vial of
colorless liquid and with the other the photograph of the college
assessor's widow. "So this is hydrochloric acid for erasing ink?
Very good! And this is a photo! So we are fabricating passports?
Very fine! Business is business! Hey! Witnesses!"

And the fair-haired man whistled sharply. From the outer door
appeared two faces, set on shoulders of formidable proportions.

The red-headed man silently went up to the newcomer and fiercely
seized him by the collar. At the same moment the rest seized
chairs or logs or bars to defend themselves.

The fair-haired man meanwhile, not in the least changing his
expression of cool self-confidence, quickly slipped his hands into
his pockets and pulled out a pair of small double-barreled pistols.
In the profound silence in which this scene took place they could
distinctly hear the click of the hammers as he cocked them. He
raised his right hand and pointed the muzzle at the breast of his

The red-headed man let go his collar, and glancing contemptuously
at him, with an expression of hate and wrath, silently stepped

"How much must we pay?" he asked sullenly.

"Oho! that's better. You should have begun by asking that!"
answered the newcomer, settling himself comfortably on his chair
and toying with his pistols. "How much do you earn?"

"We get little enough! Just five rubles," answered the red-headed

"That's too little. I need a great deal more. But you are lying,
brother! You would not stir for less than twenty rubles!"

"Thanks for the compliment!" interrupted Pacomius Borisovitch.

The fair-haired man nodded to him satirically. "I need a lot
more," he repeated firmly and impressively; "and if you don't give
me at least twenty-five rubles I'll denounce you this very minute
to the police--and you see I have my witnesses ready."

"Sergei Antonitch! Mr. Kovroff! Have mercy on us! Where can we
get so much from? I tell you as in the presence of the Creator!
There are ten of us, as you see. And there are three of you. And
I, Yuzitch, and Gretcka deserve double shares!" added Pacomius
Borisovitch persuasively.

"Gretcka deserves nothing at all for catching me by the throat,"
decided Sergei Antonitch Kovroff.

"Mr. Kovroff!" began Pacomius again. "You and I are gentlemen--"

"What! What did you say?" Kovroff contemptuously interrupted him.
"You put yourself on my level? Ha! ha! ha! No, brother; I am
still in the Czar's service and wear my honor with my uniform! I,
brother, have never stained myself with theft or crime, Heaven be
praised. But what are you?"

"Hm! And the Golden Band? Who is its captain?" muttered Gretcka
angrily, half to himself.

"Who is its captain? I am--I, Lieutenant Sergei Antonitch Kovroff,
of the Chernovarski Dragoons! Do you hear? I am captain of the
Golden Band," he said proudly and haughtily, scrutinizing the
company with his confident gaze. "And you haven't yet got as far
as the Golden Band, because you are COWARDS! Chuproff," he cried
to one of his men, "go and take the mask off Finch, or the poor boy
will suffocate, and untie his arms--and give him a good crack on
the head to teach him to keep watch better."

The "mask" that Kovroff employed on such occasions was nothing but
a piece of oilcloth cut the size of a person's face, and smeared on
one side with a thick paste. Kovroff's "boys" employed this
"instrument" with wonderful dexterity; one of them generally stole
up behind the unconscious victim and skillfully slapped the mask in
his face; the victim at once became dumb and blind, and panted from
lack of breath; at the same time, if necessary, his hands were tied
behind him and he was leisurely robbed, or held, as the case might

The Golden Band was formed in the middle of the thirties, when the
first Nicholas had been about ten years on the throne. Its first
founders were three Polish nobles. It was never distinguished by
the number of its members, but everyone of them could honestly call
himself an accomplished knave, never stopping at anything that
stood in the way of a "job." The present head of the band was
Lieutenant Kovroff, who was a thorough-paced rascal, in the full
sense of the word. Daring, brave, self-confident, he also
possessed a handsome presence, good manners, and the worldly finish
known as education. Before the members of the Golden Band, and
especially before Kovroff, the small rascals stood in fear and
trembling. He had his secret agents everywhere, following every
move of the crooks quietly but pertinaciously. At the moment when
some big job was being pulled off, Kovroff suddenly appeared
unexpectedly, with some of his "boys," and demanded a contribution,
threatening instantly to inform the police if he did not get
it--and the rogues, in order to "keep him quiet," had to give him
whatever share of their plunder he graciously deigned to indicate.
Acting with extraordinary skill and acumen in all his undertakings
he always managed so that not a shadow of suspicion could fall on
himself and so he got a double share of the plunder: robbing the
honest folk and the rogues at the same time. Kovroff escaped the
contempt of the crooks because he did things on such a big scale
and embarked with his Golden Band on the most desperate and
dangerous enterprises that the rest of roguedom did not even dare
to consider.

The rogues, whatever their rank, have a great respect for daring,
skill, and force--and therefore they respected Kovroff, at the same
time fearing and detesting him.

"Who are you getting that passport for?" he asked, calmly taking
the paper from the table and slipping it into his pocket. Gretcka
nodded toward Bodlevski.

"Aha! for you, is it? Very glad to hear it!" said Kovroff,
measuring him with his eyes. "And so, gentlemen, twenty-five
rubles, or good-by--to our happy meeting in the police court!"

"Mr. Kovroff! Allow me to speak to you as a man of honor!"
Pacomius Borisovitch again interrupted. "We are only getting
twenty rubles for the job. The whole gang will pledge their words
of honor to that. Do you think we would lie to you and stain the
honor of the gang for twenty measly rubles?"

"That is business. That was well said. I love a good speech, and
am always ready to respect it," remarked Sergei Antonitch

"Very well, then, see for yourself," went on the red-nosed
Pacomius, "see for yourself. If we give you everything, we are
doing our work and not getting a kopeck!"

"Let him pay," answered Kovroff, turning his eyes toward Bodlevski.

Bodlevski took out his gold watch, his only inheritance from his
father, and laid it down on the table before Kovroff with the five
rubles that remained.

Kovroff again measured him with his eyes and smiled.

"You are a worthy young man!" he said. "Give me your hand! I see
that you will go far."

And he warmly pressed the engraver's hand. "But you must know for
the future," he added in a friendly but impressive way, "that I
never take anything but money when I am dealing with these fellows.
Ho, you!" he went on, turning to the company, "some one go to
uncle's and get cash for this watch; tell him to pay
conscientiously at least two thirds of what it is worth; it is a
good watch. It would cost sixty rubles to buy. And have a bottle
of champagne got ready for me at the bar, quick! And if you don't,
it will be the worse for you!" he called after the departing
Yuzitch, who came back a few minutes later, and gave Kovroff forty
rubles. Kovroff counted them, and put twenty in his pocket,
returning the remainder in silence, but with a gentlemanly smile,
to Bodlevski.

"Fair exchange is no robbery," he said, giving Bodlevski the
passport of the college assessor's widow. "Now that old rascal
Pacomius may get to work."

"What is there to do?" laughed Pacomius; "the passport will do very
well. So let us have a little glass, and then a little game of

"We are going to know each other better; I like your face, so I
hope we shall make friends," said Kovroff, again shaking hands with
Bodlevski. "Now let us go and have some wine. You will tell me
over our glasses what you want the passport for, and on account of
your frankness about the watch, I am well disposed to you.
Lieutenant Sergei Kovroff gives you his word of honor on that. I
also can be magnanimous," he concluded, and the new friends
accompanied by the whole gang went out to the large hall.

There began a scene of revelry that lasted till long after
midnight. Bodlevski, feeling his side pocket to see if the
passport was still there, at last left the hall, bewildered, as
though under a spell. He felt a kind of gloomy satisfaction; he
was possessed by this satisfaction, by the uncertainty of what
Natasha could have thought out, by the question how it would all
turn out, and by the conviction that his first crime had already
been committed. All these feelings lay like lead on his heart,
while in his ears resounded the wild songs of the Cave.



It was nine o'clock in the evening. Natasha lit the night lamp in
the bedroom of the old Princess Chechevinski, and went silently
into the dressing room to prepare the soothing powders which the
doctors had prescribed for her, before going to sleep.

The old princess was still very weak. Although her periods of
unconsciousness had not returned, she was still subject to
paroxysms of hysteria. At times she sank into forgetfulness, then
started nervously, sometimes trembling in every limb. The thought
of the blow of her daughter's flight never left her for a moment.

Natasha had just taken the place of the day nurse. It was her turn
to wait on the patient until midnight. Silence always reigned in
the house of the princess, and now that she was ill the silence was
intensified tenfold. Everyone walked on tiptoe, and spoke in
whispers, afraid even of coughing or of clinking a teaspoon on the
sideboard. The doorbells were tied in towels, and the whole street
in front of the house was thickly strewn with straw. At ten the
household was already dispersed, and preparing for sleep. Only the
nurse sat silently at the head of the old lady's bed.

Pouring out half a glass of water. Natasha sprinkled the powder in
it, and took from the medicine chest a phial with a yellowish
liquid. It was chloral. Looking carefully round, she slowly
brought the lip of the phial down to the edge of the glass and let
ten drops fall into it. "That will be enough," she said to
herself, and smiled. Her face, as always, was coldly quiet, and
not the slightest shade of any feeling was visible on it at that

Natasha propped the old lady up with her arm. She drank the
medicine given to her and lay down again, and in a few minutes the
chloral began to have its effect. With an occasional convulsive
movement of her lower lip, she sank into a deep and heavy sleep.
Natasha watched her face following the symptoms of unconsciousness,
and when she was convinced that sleep had finally taken complete
possession of her, and that for several hours the old woman was
deprived of the power to hear anything or to wake up, she slowly
moved her chair nearer the bedstead, and without taking her quietly
observant eyes from the old woman's face, softly slipped her hand
under the lower pillow. Moving forward with the utmost care, not
more than an inch or so at a time, her hand stopped instantly, as
soon as there was the slightest nervous movement of the old woman's
face, on which Natasha's eyes were fixed immovably. But the old
woman slept profoundly, and the hand again moved forward half an
inch or so under the pillow. About half an hour passed, and the
girl's eyes were still fastened on the sleeping face, and her hand
was still slipping forward under the pillow, moving occasionally a
little to one side, and feeling about for something. Natasha's
expression was in the highest degree quiet and concentrated, but
under this quietness was at the same time concealed something else,
which gave the impression that if--which Heaven forbid!--the old
woman should at that moment awake, the other free hand would
instantly seize her by the throat.

At last the finger-ends felt something hard. "That is it!" thought
Natasha, and she held her breath. In a moment, seizing its
treasure, her hand began quietly to withdraw. Ten minutes more
passed, and Natasha finally drew out a little bag of various
colored silks, in which the old princess always kept her keys, and
from which she never parted, carrying it by day in her pocket, and
by night keeping it under her pillow. One of the keys was an
ordinary one, that of her wardrobe. The other was smaller and
finely made; it was the key of her strong box.

About an hour later, the same keys, in the same order, and with the
same precautions, found their way back to their accustomed place
under the old lady's pillow.

Natasha carefully wiped the glass with her handkerchief, in order
that not the least odor of chloral might remain in it, and with her
usual stillness sat out the remaining hours of her watch.



The old princess awoke at one o'clock the next day. The doctor was
very pleased at her long and sound sleep, the like of which the old
lady had not enjoyed since her first collapse, and which, in his
view, was certain to presage a turn for the better.

The princess had long ago formed a habit of looking over her
financial documents, and verifying the accounts of income and
expenditure. This deep-seated habit, which had become a second
nature, did not leave her, now she was ill; at any rate, every
morning, as soon as consciousness and tranquillity returned to her,
she took out the key of her wardrobe, ordered the strong box to be
brought to her, and, sending the day nurse out of the room, gave
herself up in solitude to her beloved occupation, which had by this
time become something like a childish amusement. She drew out her
bank securities, signed and unsigned, now admiring the colored
engravings on them, now sorting and rearranging them, fingering the
packets to feel their thickness, counting them over, and several
thousands in banknotes, kept in the house in case of need, and
finally carefully replaced them in the strong box. The girl,
recalled to the bedroom by the sound of the bell, restored the
strong box to its former place, and the old princess, after this
amusement, felt herself for some time quiet and happy.

The nurses had had the opportunity to get pretty well used to this
foible; so that the daily examination of the strong box seemed to
them a part of the order of things, something consecrated by

After taking her medicine, and having her hands and face wiped with
a towel moistened with toilet water, the princess ordered certain
prayers to be read out to her, or the chapter of the Gospel
appointed for the day, and then received her son. From the time of
her illness--that is, from the day when she signed the will making
him her sole heir--he had laid it on himself as a not altogether
pleasant duty to put in an appearance for five minutes in his
mother's room, where he showed himself a dutiful son by never
mentioning his sister, but asking tenderly after his mother's
health, and finally, with a deep sigh, gently kissing her hand,
taking his departure forthwith, to sup with some actress or to meet
his companions in a wine shop.

When he soon went away, the old lady, as was her habit, ordered her
strong box to be brought, and sent the nurse out of the room. It
was a very handsome box of ebony, with beautiful inlaid work.

The key clicked in the lock, the spring lid sprang up, and the eyes
of the old princess became set in their sockets, full of
bewilderment and terror. Twenty-four thousand rubles in bills,
which she herself with her own hands had yesterday laid on the top
of the other securities, were no longer in the strong box. All the
unsigned bank securities were also gone. The securities in the
name of her daughter Anna had likewise disappeared. There remained
only the signed securities in the name of the old princess and her
son, and a few shares of stock. In the place of all that was gone,
there lay a note directed "to Princess Chechevinski."

The old lady's fingers trembled so that for a long time she could
not unfold this paper. Her staring eyes wandered hither and
thither as if she had lost her senses. At last she managed somehow
to unfold the note, and began to read:

"You cursed me, forced me to flee, and unjustly deprived me of my
inheritance. I am taking my money by force. You may inform the
police, but when you read this note, I myself and he who carried
out this act by my directions, will have left St. Petersburg

"Your daughter,


The old lady's hands did not fall at her sides, but shifted about
on her lap as if they did not belong to her. Her wandering,
senseless eyes stopped their movements, and in them suddenly
appeared an expression of deep meaning. The old princess made a
terrible, superhuman effort to recover her presence of mind and
regain command over herself. A single faint groan broke from her
breast, and her teeth chattered. She began to look about the room
for a light, but the lamp had been extinguished; the dull gray
daylight filtering through the Venetian blinds sufficiently lit the
room. Then the old lady, with a strange, irregular movement,
crushed the note together in her hand, placed it in her mouth, and
with a convulsive movement of her jaws chewed it, trying to swallow
it as quickly as possible.

A minute passed, and the note had disappeared. The old princess
closed the strong box and rang for the day nurse. Giving her the
usual order in a quiet voice, she had still strength enough to
support herself on her elbow and watch the nurse closing the
wardrobe, and then to put the little bag with the keys back under
her pillow, in its accustomed place. Then she again ordered the
nurse to go.

When, two hours later, the doctor, coming for the third time,
wished to see his patient and entered her bedroom, he found only
the old woman's lifeless body. The blow had been too much--the
daughter of the ancient and ever honorable line of Chechevinski a
fugitive and a thief!

Natasha had had her revenge.



On the morning of that same day, at nine o'clock, a well-dressed
lady presented at the Bank of Commerce a number of unsigned bank
shares. At the same time a young man, also elegantly dressed,
presented a series of signed shares, made out in the name of
"Princess Anna Chechevinski." They were properly indorsed, the
signature corresponding to that in the bank books.

After a short interval the cashier of the bank paid over to the
well-dressed lady a hundred and fifty thousand rubles in bills, and
to the elegantly dressed young man seventy thousand rubles. The
lady signed her receipt in French, Teresa Dore; the young man
signed his name, Ivan Afonasieff, son of a merchant of Kostroma.

A little later on the same day--namely, about two o'clock--a light
carriage carried two passengers along the Pargoloff road: a quietly
dressed young woman and a quietly dressed young man. Toward
evening these same young people were traveling in a Finnish coach
by the stony mountain road in the direction of Abo.

Four days later the old Princesss Chechevinski was buried in the
Nevski monastery.

On his return from the monastery, young Prince Chechevinski went
straight for the strong box, which he had hitherto seen only at a
distance, and even then only rarely. He expected to find a great
deal more money in it than he found--some hundred and fifty
thousand rubles; a hundred thousand in his late mother's name, and
fifty thousand in his own. This was the personal property of the
old princess, a part of her dowry. The young prince made a wry
face--the money might last him two or three years, not more.
During the lifetime of the old princess no one had known accurately
how much she possessed, so that it never even entered the young
prince's head to ask whether she had not had more. He was so
unmethodical that he never even looked into her account book,
deciding that it was uninteresting and not worth while.

That same day the janitor of one of the huge, dirty tenements in
Vosnesenski Prospekt brought to the police office notice of the
fact that the Pole, Kasimir Bodlevski, had left the city; and the
housekeeper of the late Princess Chechevinski informed the police
that the serf girl Natalia Pavlovna (Natasha) had disappeared
without leaving a trace, which the housekeeper now announced, as
the three days' limit had elapsed.

At that same hour the little ship of a certain Finnish captain was
gliding down the Gulf of Bothnia. The Finn stood at the helm and
his young son handled the sails. On the deck sat a young man and a
young woman. The young woman carried, in a little bag hung round
her neck, two hundred and forty-four thousand rubles in bills, and
she and her companion carried pistols in their pockets for use in
case of need. Their passports declared that the young woman
belonged to the noble class, and was the widow of a college
assessor, her name being Maria Solontseva, while the young man was
a Pole, Kasimir Bodlevski.

The little ship was crossing the Gulf of Bothnia toward the coast
of Sweden.



In the year 1858, in the month of September, the "Report of the St.
Petersburg City Police" among the names of "Arrivals" included the

Baroness von Doring, Hanoverian subject.
Ian Vladislav Karozitch, Austrian subject.

The persons above described might have been recognized among the
fashionable crowds which thronged the St. Petersburg terminus of
the Warsaw railway a few days before: A lady who looked not more
than thirty, though she was really thirty-eight, dressed with
simple elegance, tall and slender, admirably developed, with
beautifully clear complexion, piercing, intelligent gray eyes,
under finely outlined brows, thick chestnut hair, and a firm mouth-
-almost a beauty, and with an expression of power, subtlety and
decision. "She is either a queen or a criminal," a physiognomist
would have said after observing her face. A gentleman with a red
beard, whom the lady addressed as "brother," not less elegantly
dressed, and with the same expression of subtlety and decision.
They left the station in a hired carriage, and drove to Demuth's

Before narrating the adventures of these distinguished persons, let
us go back twenty years, and ask what became of Natasha and
Bodlevski. When last we saw them the ship that carried them away
from Russia was gliding across the Gulf of Bothnia toward the
Swedish coast. Late in the evening it slipped into the port of
Stockholm, and the worthy Finn, winding in and out among the heavy
hulls in the harbor--he was well used to the job--landed his
passengers on the wharf at a lonely spot near a lonely inn, where
the customs officers rarely showed their noses. Bodlevski, who had
beforehand got ready the very modest sum to pay for their passage,
with pitiable looks and gestures and the few Russian phrases the
good Finn could understand, assured him that he was a very poor
man, and could not even pay the sum agreed on in full. The deficit
was inconsiderable, some two rubles in all, and the good Finn was
magnanimous; he slapped his passenger on the shoulder, called him a
"good comrade," declared that he would not press a poor man, and
would always be ready to do him a service. He even found quarters
for Bodlevski and Natasha in the inn, under his protection. The
Finn was indeed a very honest smuggler. On the next morning,
bidding a final farewell to their nautical friend, our couple made
their way to the office of the British Consul, and asked for an
opportunity to speak with him. At this point Natasha played the
principal role.

'My husband is a Pole," said the handsome girl, taking a seat
opposite the consul in his private office, "and I myself am Russian
on the father's side, but my mother was English. My husband is
involved in a political enterprise; he was liable to transportation
to Siberia, but a chance made it possible for us to escape while
the police were on their way to arrest him. We are now political
fugitives, and we intrust our lives to the protection of English
law. Be generous, protect us, and send us to England!"

The ruse, skillfully planned and admirably presented, was
completely successful, and two or three days later the first
passenger ship under the English flag carried the happy couple to

Bodlevski destroyed his own passport and that of the college
assessor's widow, Maria Solontseva, which Natasha had needed as a
precaution while still on Russian soil. When they got to England,
it would be much handier to take new names. But with their new
position and these new names a great difficulty presented itself:
they could find no suitable outlet for their capital without
arousing very dangerous suspicions. The many-sided art of the
London rogues is known to all the world; in their club, Bodlevski,
who had lost no time in making certain pleasant and indispensable
acquaintances there, soon succeeded in getting for himself and
Natasha admirably counterfeited new passports, once more with new
names and occupations. With these, in a short time, they found
their way to the Continent. They both felt the full force of youth
and a passionate desire to live and enjoy life; in their hot heads
hummed many a golden hope and plan; they wished, to begin with, to
invest their main capital somewhere, and then to travel over
Europe, and to choose a quiet corner somewhere where they could
settle down to a happy life.

Perhaps all this might have happened if it had not been for cards
and roulette and the perpetual desire of increasing their capital--
for the worthy couple fell into the hands of a talented company,
whose agents robbed them at Frascati's in Paris, and again in
Hamburg and various health resorts, so that hardly a year had
passed when Bodlevski one fine night woke up to the fact that they
no longer possessed a ruble. But they had passed a brilliant year,
their arrival in the great cities had had its effect, and
especially since Natasha had become a person of title; in the
course of the year she succeeded in purchasing an Austrian barony
at a very reasonable figure--a barony which, of course, only
existed on paper.

When all his money was gone, there was nothing left for Bodlevski
but to enroll himself a member of the company which had so
successfully accomplished the transfer of his funds to their own
pockets. Natasha's beauty and Bodlevski's brains were such strong
arguments that the company willingly accepted them as new recruits.
The two paid dear for their knowledge, it is true, but their
knowledge presently began to bear fruit in considerable abundance.
Day followed day, and year succeeded year, a long series of
horribly anxious nights, violent feelings, mental perturbations,
crafty and subtle schemes, a complete cycle of rascalities, an
entire science of covering up tracks, and the perpetual shadow of
justice, prison, and perhaps the scaffold. Bodlevski, with his
obstinate, persistent, and concentrated character, reached the
highest skill in card-sharping and the allied wiles. All games of
"chance" were for him games of skill. At thirty he looked at least
ten years older. The life he led, with its ceaseless effort,
endless mental work, perpetual anxiety, had made of him a fanatical
worshiper at the shrine of trickery. He dried up visibly in body
and grew old in mind, mastering all the difficult arts of his
profession, and only gained confidence and serenity when he had
reached the highest possible skill in every branch of his "work."
From that moment he took a new lease of life; he grew younger, he
became gay and self-confident, his health even visibly improved,
and he assumed the air and manner of a perfect gentleman.

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