MRS. LOUISE MAUDE
Opinions about Tolstoy and his work differ, but on one point there surely might be unanimity. A writer of world-wide reputation should be at least allowed to know how to spell his own name. Why should any one insist on spelling it “Tolstoi” (with one, two or three dots over the “i”), when he himself writes it “Tolstoy”? The only reason I have ever heard suggested is, that in England and America such outlandish views are attributed to him, that an outlandish spelling is desirable to match those views.
This novel, written in the rough by Tolstoy some years ago and founded upon an actual occurrence, was completely rewritten by him during the last year and a half, and all the proceeds have been devoted by him to aiding the Doukhobors, a sect who were persecuted in the Caucasus (especially from 1895 to 1898) for refusing to learn war. About seven thousand three hundred of them are settled in Canada, and about a hundred of the leaders are exiled to the remote parts of Siberia.
Anything I may receive for my work in translating the book will go to the same cause. “Prevention is better than cure,” and I would rather help people to abstain from killing and wounding each other than devote the money to patch up their wounds after the battle.
MASLOVA IN PRISON.
Though hundreds of thousands had done their very best to disfigure the small piece of land on which they were crowded together, by paying the ground with stones, scraping away every vestige of vegetation, cutting down the trees, turning away birds and beasts, and filling the air with the smoke of naphtha and coal, still spring was spring, even in the town.
The sun shone warm, the air was balmy; everywhere, where it did not get scraped away, the grass revived and sprang up between the paving-stones as well as on the narrow strips of lawn on the boulevards. The birches, the poplars, and the wild cherry unfolded their gummy and fragrant leaves, the limes were expanding their opening buds; crows, sparrows, and pigeons, filled with the joy of spring, were getting their nests ready; the flies were buzzing along the walls, warmed by the sunshine. All were glad, the plants, the birds, the insects, and the children. But men, grown-up men and women, did not leave off cheating and tormenting themselves and each other. It was not this spring morning men thought sacred and worthy of consideration not the beauty of God’s world, given for a joy to all creatures, this beauty which inclines the heart to peace, to harmony, and to love, but only their own devices for enslaving one another.
Thus, in the prison office of the Government town, it was not the fact that men and animals had received the grace and gladness of spring that was considered sacred and important, but that a notice, numbered and with a superscription, had come the day before, ordering that on this 28th day of April, at 9 a.m., three prisoners at present detained in the prison, a man and two women (one of these women, as the chief criminal, to be conducted separately), had to appear at Court. So now, on the 28th of April, at 8 o’clock, a jailer and soon after him a woman warder with curly grey hair, dressed in a jacket with sleeves trimmed with gold, with a blue-edged belt round her waist, and having a look of suffering on her face, came into the corridor.
“You want Maslova?” she asked, coming up to the cell with the jailer who was on duty.
The jailer, rattling the iron padlock, opened the door of the cell, from which there came a whiff of air fouler even than that in the corridor, and called out, “Maslova! to the Court,” and closed the door again.
Even into the prison yard the breeze had brought the fresh vivifying air from the fields. But in the corridor the air was laden with the germs of typhoid, the smell of sewage, putrefaction, and tar; every newcomer felt sad and dejected in it. The woman warder felt this, though she was used to bad air. She had just come in from outside, and entering the corridor, she at once became sleepy.
From inside the cell came the sound of bustle and women’s voices, and the patter of bare feet on the floor.
“Now, then, hurry up, Maslova, I say!” called out the jailer, and in a minute or two a small young woman with a very full bust came briskly out of the door and went up to the jailer. She had on a grey cloak over a white jacket and petticoat. On her feet she wore linen stockings and prison shoes, and round her head was tied a white kerchief, from under which a few locks of black hair were brushed over the forehead with evident intent. The face of the woman was of that whiteness peculiar to people who have lived long in confinement, and which puts one in mind of shoots of potatoes that spring up in a cellar. Her small broad hands and full neck, which showed from under the broad collar of her cloak, were of the same hue. Her black, sparkling eyes, one with a slight squint, appeared in striking contrast to the dull pallor of her face.
She carried herself very straight, expanding her full bosom.
With her head slightly thrown back, she stood in the corridor, looking straight into the eyes of the jailer, ready to comply with any order.
The jailer was about to lock the door when a wrinkled and severe-looking old woman put out her grey head and began speaking to Maslova. But the jailer closed the door, pushing the old woman’s head with it. A woman’s laughter was heard from the cell, and Maslova smiled, turning to the little grated opening in the cell door. The old woman pressed her face to the grating from the other side, and said, in a hoarse voice:
“Now mind, and when they begin questioning you, just repeat over the same thing, and stick to it; tell nothing that is not wanted.”
“Well, it could not be worse than it is now, anyhow; I only wish it was settled one way or another.”
“Of course, it will be settled one way or another,” said the jailer, with a superior’s self-assured witticism. “Now, then, get along! Take your places!”
The old woman’s eyes vanished from the grating, and Maslova stepped out into the middle of the corridor. The warder in front, they descended the stone stairs, past the still fouler, noisy cells of the men’s ward, where they were followed by eyes looking out of every one of the gratings in the doors, and entered the office, where two soldiers were waiting to escort her. A clerk who was sitting there gave one of the soldiers a paper reeking of tobacco, and pointing to the prisoner, remarked, “Take her.”
The soldier, a peasant from Nijni Novgorod, with a red, pock-marked face, put the paper into the sleeve of his coat, winked to his companion, a broad-shouldered Tchouvash, and then the prisoner and the soldiers went to the front entrance, out of the prison yard, and through the town up the middle of the roughly-paved street.
Isvostchiks [cabmen], tradespeople, cooks, workmen, and government clerks, stopped and looked curiously at the prisoner; some shook their heads and thought, “This is what evil conduct, conduct unlike ours, leads to.” The children stopped and gazed at the robber with frightened looks; but the thought that the soldiers were preventing her from doing more harm quieted their fears. A peasant, who had sold his charcoal, and had had some tea in the town, came up, and, after crossing himself, gave her a copeck. The prisoner blushed and muttered something; she noticed that she was attracting everybody’s attention, and that pleased her. The comparatively fresh air also gladdened her, but it was painful to step on the rough stones with the ill-made prison shoes on her feet, which had become unused to walking. Passing by a corn-dealer’s shop, in front of which a few pigeons were strutting about, unmolested by any one, the prisoner almost touched a grey-blue bird with her foot; it fluttered up and flew close to her car, fanning her with its wings. She smiled, then sighed deeply as she remembered her present position.
MASLOVA’S EARLY LIFE.
The story of the prisoner Maslova’s life was a very common one.
Maslova’s mother was the unmarried daughter of a village woman, employed on a dairy farm, which belonged to two maiden ladies who were landowners. This unmarried woman had a baby every year, and, as often happens among the village people, each one of these undesired babies, after it had been carefully baptised, was neglected by its mother, whom it hindered at her work, and left to starve. Five children had died in this way. They had all been baptised and then not sufficiently fed, and just left to die. The sixth baby, whose father was a gipsy tramp, would have shared the same fate, had it not so happened that one of the maiden ladies came into the farmyard to scold the dairymaids for sending up cream that smelt of the cow. The young woman was lying in the cowshed with a fine, healthy, new-born baby. The old maiden lady scolded the maids again for allowing the woman (who had just been confined) to lie in the cowshed, and was about to go away, but seeing the baby her heart was touched, and she offered to stand godmother to the little girl, and pity for her little god-daughter induced her to give milk and a little money to the mother, so that she should feed the baby; and the little girl lived. The old ladies spoke of her as “the saved one.” When the child was three years old, her mother fell ill and died, and the maiden ladies took the child from her old grandmother, to whom she was nothing but a burden.
The little black-eyed maiden grew to be extremely pretty, and so full of spirits that the ladies found her very entertaining.
The younger of the ladies, Sophia Ivanovna, who had stood godmother to the girl, had the kinder heart of the two sisters; Maria Ivanovna, the elder, was rather hard. Sophia Ivanovna dressed the little girl in nice clothes, and taught her to read and write, meaning to educate her like a lady. Maria Ivanovna thought the child should be brought up to work, and trained her to be a good servant. She was exacting; she punished, and, when in a bad temper, even struck the little girl. Growing up under these two different influences, the girl turned out half servant, half young lady. They called her Katusha, which sounds less refined than Katinka, but is not quite so common as Katka. She used to sew, tidy up the rooms, polish the metal cases of the icons and do other light work, and sometimes she sat and read to the ladies.
Though she had more than one offer, she would not marry. She felt that life as the wife of any of the working men who were courting her would be too hard; spoilt as she was by a life of case.
She lived in this manner till she was sixteen, when the nephew of the old ladies, a rich young prince, and a university student, came to stay with his aunts, and Katusha, not daring to acknowledge it even to herself, fell in love with him.
Then two years later this same nephew stayed four days with his aunts before proceeding to join his regiment, and the night before he left he betrayed Katusha, and, after giving her a 100-rouble note, went away. Five months later she knew for certain that she was to be a mother. After that everything seemed repugnant to her, her only thought being how to escape from the shame that awaited her. She began not only to serve the ladies in a half-hearted and negligent way, but once, without knowing how it happened, was very rude to them, and gave them notice, a thing she repented of later, and the ladies let her go, noticing something wrong and very dissatisfied with her. Then she got a housemaid’s place in a police-officer’s house, but stayed there only three months, for the police officer, a man of fifty, began to torment her, and once, when he was in a specially enterprising mood, she fired up, called him “a fool and old devil,” and gave him such a knock in the chest that he fell. She was turned out for her rudeness. It was useless to look for another situation, for the time of her confinement was drawing near, so she went to the house of a village midwife, who also sold wine. The confinement was easy; but the midwife, who had a case of fever in the village, infected Katusha, and her baby boy had to be sent to the foundlings’ hospital, where, according to the words of the old woman who took him there, he at once died. When Katusha went to the midwife she had 127 roubles in all, 27 which she had earned and 100 given her by her betrayer. When she left she had but six roubles; she did not know how to keep money, but spent it on herself, and gave to all who asked. The midwife took 40 roubles for two months’ board and attendance, 25 went to get the baby into the foundlings’ hospital, and 40 the midwife borrowed to buy a cow with. Twenty roubles went just for clothes and dainties. Having nothing left to live on, Katusha had to look out for a place again, and found one in the house of a forester. The forester was a married man, but he, too, began to annoy her from the first day. He disgusted her, and she tried to avoid him. But he, more experienced and cunning, besides being her master, who could send her wherever he liked, managed to accomplish his object. His wife found it out, and, catching Katusha and her husband in a room all by themselves, began beating her. Katusha defended herself, and they had a fight, and Katusha got turned out of the house without being paid her wages.
Then Katusha went to live with her aunt in town. The aunt’s husband, a bookbinder, had once been comfortably off, but had lost all his customers, and had taken to drink, and spent all he could lay hands on at the public-house. The aunt kept a little laundry, and managed to support herself, her children, and her wretched husband. She offered Katusha the place of an assistant laundress; but seeing what a life of misery and hardship her aunt’s assistants led, Katusha hesitated, and applied to a registry office for a place. One was found for her with a lady who lived with her two sons, pupils at a public day school. A week after Katusha had entered the house the elder, a big fellow with moustaches, threw up his studies and made love to her, continually following her about. His mother laid all the blame on Katusha, and gave her notice.
It so happened that, after many fruitless attempts to find a situation, Katusha again went to the registry office, and there met a woman with bracelets on her bare, plump arms and rings on most of her fingers. Hearing that Katusha was badly in want of a place, the woman gave her her address, and invited her to come to her house. Katusha went. The woman received her very kindly, set cake and sweet wine before her, then wrote a note and gave it to a servant to take to somebody. In the evening a tall man, with long, grey hair and a white beard, entered the room, and sat down at once near Katusha, smiling and gazing at her with glistening eyes. He began joking with her. The hostess called him away into the next room, and Katusha heard her say, “A fresh one from the country,” Then the hostess called Katusha aside and told her that the man was an author, and that he had a great deal of money, and that if he liked her he would not grudge her anything. He did like her, and gave her 25 roubles, promising to see her often. The 25 roubles soon went; some she paid to her aunt for board and lodging; the rest was spent on a hat, ribbons, and such like. A few days later the author sent for her, and she went. He gave her another 25 roubles, and offered her a separate lodging.
Next door to the lodging rented for her by the author there lived a jolly young shopman, with whom Katusha soon fell in love. She told the author, and moved to a little lodging of her own. The shopman, who promised to marry her, went to Nijni on business without mentioning it to her, having evidently thrown her up, and Katusha remained alone. She meant to continue living in the lodging by herself, but was informed by the police that in this case she would have to get a license. She returned to her aunt. Seeing her fine dress, her hat, and mantle, her aunt no longer offered her laundry work. As she understood things, her niece had risen above that sort of thing. The question as to whether she was to become a laundress or not did not occur to Katusha, either. She looked with pity at the thin, hard-worked laundresses, some already in consumption, who stood washing or ironing with their thin arms in the fearfully hot front room, which was always full of soapy steam and draughts from the windows, and thought with horror that she might have shared the same fate.
Katusha had begun to smoke some time before, and since the young shopman had thrown her up she was getting more and more into the habit of drinking. It was not so much the flavour of wine that tempted her as the fact that it gave her a chance of forgetting the misery she suffered, making her feel more unrestrained and more confident of her own worth, which she was not when quite sober; without wine she felt sad and ashamed. Just at this time a woman came along who offered to place her in one of the largest establishments in the city, explaining all the advantages and benefits of the situation. Katusha had the choice before her of either going into service or accepting this offer–and she chose the latter. Besides, it seemed to her as though, in this way, she could revenge herself on her betrayer and the shopman and all those who had injured her. One of the things that tempted her, and was the cause of her decision, was the woman telling her she might order her own dresses–velvet, silk, satin, low-necked ball dresses, anything she liked. A mental picture of herself in a bright yellow silk trimmed with black velvet with low neck and short sleeves conquered her, and she gave up her passport. On the same evening the procuress took an isvostchik and drove her to the notorious house kept by Carolina Albertovna Kitaeva.
From that day a life of chronic sin against human and divine laws commenced for Katusha Maslova, a life which is led by hundreds of thousands of women, and which is not merely tolerated but sanctioned by the Government, anxious for the welfare of its subjects; a life which for nine women out of ten ends in painful disease, premature decrepitude, and death.
Katusha Maslova lived this life for seven years. During these years she twice changed houses, and had once been to the hospital. In the seventh year of this life, when she was twenty-six years old, happened that for which she was put in prison and for which she was now being taken to be tried, after more than three months of confinement with thieves and murderers in the stifling air of a prison.
When Maslova, wearied out by the long walk, reached the building, accompanied by two soldiers, Prince Dmitri Ivanovitch Nekhludoff, who had seduced her, was still lying on his high bedstead, with a feather bed on the top of the spring mattress, in a fine, clean, well-ironed linen night shirt, smoking a cigarette, and considering what he had to do to-day, and what had happened yesterday.
Recalling the evening he had spent with the Korchagins, a wealthy and aristocratic family, whose daughter every one expected he would marry, he sighed, and, throwing away the end of his cigarette, was going to take another out of the silver case; but, changing his mind, he resolutely raised his solid frame, and, putting down his smooth, white legs, stepped into his slippers, threw his silk dressing gown over his broad shoulders, and passed into his dressing-room, walking heavily and quickly. There he carefully cleaned his teeth, many of which were filled, with tooth powder, and rinsed his mouth with scented elixir. After that he washed his hands with perfumed soap, cleaned his long nails with particular care, then, from a tap fixed to his marble washstand, he let a spray of cold water run over his face and stout neck. Having finished this part of the business, he went into a third room, where a shower bath stood ready for him. Having refreshed his full, white, muscular body, and dried it with a rough bath sheet, he put on his fine undergarments and his boots, and sat down before the glass to brush his black beard and his curly hair, that had begun to get thin above the forehead. Everything he used, everything belonging to his toilet, his linen, his clothes, boots, necktie, pin, studs, was of the best quality, very quiet, simple, durable and costly.
Nekhludoff dressed leisurely, and went into the dining-room. A table, which looked very imposing with its four legs carved in the shape of lions’ paws, and a huge side-board to match, stood in the oblong room, the floor of which had been polished by three men the day before. On the table, which was covered with a fine, starched cloth, stood a silver coffeepot full of aromatic coffee, a sugar basin, a jug of fresh cream, and a bread basket filled with fresh rolls, rusks, and biscuits; and beside the plate lay the last number of the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, a newspaper, and several letters.
Nekhludoff was just going to open his letters, when a stout, middle-aged woman in mourning, a lace cap covering the widening parting of her hair, glided into the room. This was Agraphena Petrovna, formerly lady’s maid to Nekhludoff’s mother. Her mistress had died quite recently in this very house, and she remained with the son as his housekeeper. Agraphena Petrovna had spent nearly ten years, at different times, abroad with Nekhludoff’s mother, and had the appearance and manners of a lady. She had lived with the Nekhludoffs from the time she was a child, and had known Dmitri Ivanovitch at the time when he was still little Mitinka.
“Good-morning, Dmitri Ivanovitch.”
“Good-morning, Agraphena Petrovna. What is it you want?” Nekhludoff asked.
“A letter from the princess; either from the mother or the daughter. The maid brought it some time ago, and is waiting in my room,” answered Agraphena Petrovna, handing him the letter with a significant smile.
“All right! Directly!” said Nekhludoff, taking the letter and frowning as he noticed Agraphena Petrovna’s smile.
That smile meant that the letter was from the younger Princess Korchagin, whom Agraphena Petrovna expected him to marry. This supposition of hers annoyed Nekhludoff.
“Then I’ll tell her to wait?” and Agraphena Petrovna took a crumb brush which was not in its place, put it away, and sailed out of the room.
Nekhludoff opened the perfumed note, and began reading it.
The note was written on a sheet of thick grey paper, with rough edges; the writing looked English. It said:
Having assumed the task of acting as your memory, I take the liberty of reminding you that on this the 28th day of April you have to appear at the Law Courts, as juryman, and, in consequence, can on no account accompany us and Kolosoff to the picture gallery, as, with your habitual flightiness, you promised yesterday; _a moins que vous ne soyez dispose a payer la cour d’assise les 300 roubles d’amende que vous vous refusez pour votre cheval,_ for not appearing in time. I remembered it last night after you were gone, so do not forget.
Princess M. Korchagin.
On the other side was a postscript.
_Maman vous fait dire que votre convert vous attendra jusqu’a la nuit. Venez absolument a quelle heure que cela soit._
Nekhludoff made a grimace. This note was a continuation of that skilful manoeuvring which the Princess Korchagin had already practised for two months in order to bind him closer and closer with invisible threads. And yet, beside the usual hesitation of men past their youth to marry unless they are very much in love, Nekhludoff had very good reasons why, even if he did make up his mind to it, he could not propose at once. It was not that ten years previously he had betrayed and forsaken Maslova; he had quite forgotten that, and he would not have considered it a reason for not marrying. No! The reason was that he had a liaison with a married woman, and, though he considered it broken off, she did not.
Nekhludoff was rather shy with women, and his very shyness awakened in this married woman, the unprincipled wife of the marechal de noblesse of a district where Nekhludoff was present at an election, the desire of vanquishing him. This woman drew him into an intimacy which entangled him more and more, while it daily became more distasteful to him. Having succumbed to the temptation, Nekhludoff felt guilty, and had not the courage to break the tie without her consent. And this was the reason he did not feel at liberty to propose to Korchagin even if he had wished to do so. Among the letters on the table was one from this woman’s husband. Seeing his writing and the postmark, Nekhludoff flushed, and felt his energies awakening, as they always did when he was facing any kind of danger.
But his excitement passed at once. The marechal do noblesse, of the district in which his largest estate lay, wrote only to let Nekhludoff know that there was to be a special meeting towards the end of May, and that Nekhludoff was to be sure and come to “_donner un coup d’epaule_,” at the important debates concerning the schools and the roads, as a strong opposition by the reactionary party was expected.
The marechal was a liberal, and was quite engrossed in this fight, not even noticing the misfortune that had befallen him.
Nekhludoff remembered the dreadful moments he had lived through; once when he thought that the husband had found him out and was going to challenge him, and he was making up his mind to fire into the air; also the terrible scene he had with her when she ran out into the park, and in her excitement tried to drown herself in the pond.
“Well, I cannot go now, and can do nothing until I get a reply from her,” thought Nekhludoff. A week ago he had written her a decisive letter, in which he acknowledged his guilt, and his readiness to atone for it; but at the same time he pronounced their relations to be at an end, for her own good, as he expressed it. To this letter he had as yet received no answer. This might prove a good sign, for if she did not agree to break off their relations, she would have written at once, or even come herself, as she had done before. Nekhludoff had heard that there was some officer who was paying her marked attention, and this tormented him by awakening jealousy, and at the same time encouraged him with the hope of escape from the deception that was oppressing him.
The other letter was from his steward. The steward wrote to tell him that a visit to his estates was necessary in order to enter into possession, and also to decide about the further management of his lands; whether it was to continue in the same way as when his mother was alive, or whether, as he had represented to the late lamented princess, and now advised the young prince, they had not better increase their stock and farm all the land now rented by the peasants themselves. The steward wrote that this would be a far more profitable way of managing the property; at the same time, he apologised for not having forwarded the 3,000 roubles income due on the 1st. This money would he sent on by the next mail. The reason for the delay was that he could not get the money out of the peasants, who had grown so untrustworthy that he had to appeal to the authorities. This letter was partly disagreeable, and partly pleasant. It was pleasant to feel that he had power over so large a property, and yet disagreeable, because Nekhludoff had been an enthusiastic admirer of Henry George and Herbert Spencer. Being himself heir to a large property, he was especially struck by the position taken up by Spencer in Social Statics, that justice forbids private landholding, and with the straightforward resoluteness of his age, had not merely spoken to prove that land could not be looked upon as private property, and written essays on that subject at the university, but had acted up to his convictions, and, considering it wrong to hold landed property, had given the small piece of land he had inherited from his father to the peasants. Inheriting his mother’s large estates, and thus becoming a landed proprietor, he had to choose one of two things: either to give up his property, as he had given up his father’s land ten years before, or silently to confess that all his former ideas were mistaken and false.
He could not choose the former because he had no means but the landed estates (he did not care to serve); moreover, he had formed luxurious habits which he could not easily give up. Besides, he had no longer the same inducements; his strong convictions, the resoluteness of youth, and the ambitious desire to do something unusual were gone. As to the second course, that of denying those clear and unanswerable proofs of the injustice of landholding, which he had drawn from Spencer’s Social Statics, and the brilliant corroboration of which he had at a later period found in the works of Henry George, such a course was impossible to him.
When Nekhludoff had finished his coffee, he went to his study to look at the summons, and find out what time he was to appear at the court, before writing his answer to the princess. Passing through his studio, where a few studies hung on the walls and, facing the easel, stood an unfinished picture, a feeling of inability to advance in art, a sense of his incapacity, came over him. He had often had this feeling, of late, and explained it by his too finely-developed aesthetic taste; still, the feeling was a very unpleasant one. Seven years before this he had given up military service, feeling sure that he had a talent for art, and had looked down with some disdain at all other activity from the height of his artistic standpoint. And now it turned out that he had no right to do so, and therefore everything that reminded him of all this was unpleasant. He looked at the luxurious fittings of the studio with a heavy heart, and it was in no cheerful mood that he entered his study, a large, lofty room fitted up with a view to comfort, convenience, and elegant appearance. He found the summons at once in a pigeon hole, labelled “immediate,” of his large writing table. He had to appear at the court at 11 o’clock.
Nekhludoff sat down to write a note in reply to the princess, thanking her for the invitation, and promising to try and come to dinner. Having written one note, he tore it up, as it seemed too intimate. He wrote another, but it was too cold; he feared it might give offence, so he tore it up, too. He pressed the button of an electric bell, and his servant, an elderly, morose-looking man, with whiskers and shaved chin and lip, wearing a grey cotton apron, entered at the door.
“Send to fetch an isvostchik, please.”
“And tell the person who is waiting that I send thanks for the invitation, and shall try to come.”
“It is not very polite, but I can’t write; no matter, I shall see her today,” thought Nekhludoff, and went to get his overcoat.
When he came out of the house, an isvostchik he knew, with india-rubber tires to his trap, was at the door waiting for him. “You had hardly gone away from Prince Korchagin’s yesterday,” he said, turning half round, “when I drove up, and the Swiss at the door says, ‘just gone.'” The isvostchik knew that Nekhludoff visited at the Korchagins, and called there on the chance of being engaged by him.
“Even the isvostchiks know of my relations with the Korchagins,” thought Nekhludoff, and again the question whether he should not marry Princess Korchagin presented itself to him, and he could not decide it either way, any more than most of the questions that arose in his mind at this time.
It was in favour of marriage in general, that besides the comforts of hearth and home, it made a moral life possible, and chiefly that a family would, so Nekhludoff thought, give an aim to his now empty life.
Against marriage in general was the fear, common to bachelors past their first youth, of losing freedom, and an unconscious awe before this mysterious creature, a woman.
In this particular case, in favour of marrying Missy (her name was Mary, but, as is usual among a certain set, a nickname had been given her) was that she came of good family, and differed in everything, manner of speaking, walking, laughing, from the common people, not by anything exceptional, but by her “good breeding”–he could find no other term for this quality, though he prized it very highly—and, besides, she thought more of him than of anybody else, therefore evidently understood him. This understanding of him, i.e., the recognition of his superior merits, was to Nekhludoff a proof of her good sense and correct judgment. Against marrying Missy in particular, was, that in all likelihood, a girl with even higher qualities could be found, that she was already 27, and that he was hardly her first love. This last idea was painful to him. His pride would not reconcile itself with the thought that she had loved some one else, even in the past. Of course, she could not have known that she should meet him, but the thought that she was capable of loving another offended him. So that he had as many reasons for marrying as against it; at any rate, they weighed equally with Nekhludoff, who laughed at himself, and called himself the ass of the fable, remaining like that animal undecided which haycock to turn to.
“At any rate, before I get an answer from Mary Vasilievna (the marechal’s wife), and finish completely with her, I can do nothing,” he said to himself. And the conviction that he might, and was even obliged, to delay his decision, was comforting. “Well, I shall consider all that later on,” he said to himself, as the trap drove silently along the asphalt pavement up to the doors of the Court.
“Now I must fulfil my public duties conscientiously, as I am in the habit of always doing, and as I consider it right to do. Besides, they are often interesting.” And he entered the hall of the Law Courts, past the doorkeeper.
The corridors of the Court were already full of activity. The attendants hurried, out of breath, dragging their feet along the ground without lifting them, backwards and forwards, with all sorts of messages and papers. Ushers, advocates, and law officers passed hither and thither. Plaintiffs, and those of the accused who were not guarded, wandered sadly along the walls or sat waiting.
“Where is the Law Court?” Nekhludoff asked of an attendant.
“Which? There is the Civil Court and the Criminal Court.”
“I am on the jury.”
“The Criminal Court you should have said. Here to the right, then to the left–the second door.”
Nekhludoff followed the direction.
Meanwhile some of the Criminal Court jurymen who were late had hurriedly passed into a separate room. At the door mentioned two men stood waiting.
One, a tall, fat merchant, a kind-hearted fellow, had evidently partaken of some refreshments and a glass of something, and was in most pleasant spirits. The other was a shopman of Jewish extraction. They were talking about the price of wool when Nekhludoff came up and asked them if this was the jurymen’s room.
“Yes, my dear sir, this is it. One of us? On the jury, are you?” asked the merchant, with a merry wink.
“Ah, well, we shall have a go at the work together,” he continued, after Nekhludoff had answered in the affirmative. “My name is Baklasheff, merchant of the Second Guild,” he said, putting out his broad, soft, flexible hand.
“With whom have I the honour?”
Nekhludoff gave his name and passed into the jurymen’s room.
Inside the room were about ten persons of all sorts. They had come but a short while ago, and some were sitting, others walking up and down, looking at each other, and making each other’s acquaintance. There was a retired colonel in uniform; some were in frock coats, others in morning coats, and only one wore a peasant’s dress.
Their faces all had a certain look of satisfaction at the prospect of fulfilling a public duty, although many of them had had to leave their businesses, and most were complaining of it.
The jurymen talked among themselves about the weather, the early spring, and the business before them, some having been introduced, others just guessing who was who. Those who were not acquainted with Nekhludoff made haste to get introduced, evidently looking upon this as an honour, and he taking it as his due, as he always did when among strangers. Had he been asked why he considered himself above the majority of people, he could not have given an answer; the life he had been living of late was not particularly meritorious. The fact of his speaking English, French, and German with a good accent, and of his wearing the best linen, clothes, ties, and studs, bought from the most expensive dealers in these goods, he quite knew would not serve as a reason for claiming superiority. At the same time he did claim superiority, and accepted the respect paid him as his due, and was hurt if he did not get it. In the jurymen’s room his feelings were hurt by disrespectful treatment. Among the jury there happened to be a man whom he knew, a former teacher of his sister’s children, Peter Gerasimovitch. Nekhludoff never knew his surname, and even bragged a bit about this. This man was now a master at a public school. Nekhludoff could not stand his familiarity, his self-satisfied laughter, his vulgarity, in short.
“Ah ha! You’re also trapped.” These were the words, accompanied with boisterous laughter, with which Peter Gerasimovitch greeted Nekhludoff. “Have you not managed to get out of it?”
“I never meant to get out of it,” replied Nekhludoff, gloomily, and in a tone of severity.
“Well, I call this being public spirited. But just wait until you get hungry or sleepy; you’ll sing to another tune then.”
“This son of a priest will be saying ‘thou’ [in Russian, as in many other languages, “thou” is used generally among people very familiar with each other, or by superiors to inferiors] to me next,” thought Nekhludoff, and walked away, with such a look of sadness on his face, as might have been natural if he had just heard of the death of all his relations. He came up to a group that had formed itself round a clean-shaven, tall, dignified man, who was recounting something with great animation. This man was talking about the trial going on in the Civil Court as of a case well known to himself, mentioning the judges and a celebrated advocate by name. He was saying that it seemed wonderful how the celebrated advocate had managed to give such a clever turn to the affair that an old lady, though she had the right on her side, would have to pay a large sum to her opponent. “The advocate is a genius,” he said.
The listeners heard it all with respectful attention, and several of them tried to put in a word, but the man interrupted them, as if he alone knew all about it.
Though Nekhludoff had arrived late, he had to wait a long time. One of the members of the Court had not yet come, and everybody was kept waiting.
The president, who had to take the chair, had arrived early. The president was a tall, stout man, with long grey whiskers. Though married, he led a very loose life, and his wife did the same, so they did not stand in each other’s way. This morning he had received a note from a Swiss girl, who had formerly been a governess in his house, and who was now on her way from South Russia to St. Petersburg. She wrote that she would wait for him between five and six p.m. in the Hotel Italia. This made him wish to begin and get through the sitting as soon as possible, so as to have time to call before six p.m. on the little red-haired Clara Vasilievna, with whom he had begun a romance in the country last summer. He went into a private room, latched the door, took a pair of dumb-bells out of a cupboard, moved his arms 20 times upwards, downwards, forwards, and sideways, then holding the dumb-bells above his head, lightly bent his knees three times.
“Nothing keeps one going like a cold bath and exercise,” he said, feeling the biceps of his right arm with his left hand, on the third finger of which he wore a gold ring. He had still to do the moulinee movement (for he always went through those two exercises before a long sitting), when there was a pull at the door. The president quickly put away the dumb-bells and opened the door, saying, “I beg your pardon.”
One of the members, a high-shouldered, discontented-looking man, with gold spectacles, came into the room. “Matthew Nikitich has again not come,” he said, in a dissatisfied tone.
“Not yet?” said the president, putting on his uniform. “He is always late.”
“It is extraordinary. He ought to be ashamed of himself,” said the member, angrily, and taking out a cigarette.
This member, a very precise man, had had an unpleasant encounter with his wife in the morning, because she had spent her allowance before the end of the month, and had asked him to give her some money in advance, but he would not give way to her, and they had a quarrel. The wife told him that if he were going to behave so, he need not expect any dinner; there would be no dinner for him at home. At this point he left, fearing that she might carry out her threat, for anything might be expected from her. “This comes of living a good, moral life,” he thought, looking at the beaming, healthy, cheerful, and kindly president, who, with elbows far apart, was smoothing his thick grey whiskers with his fine white hands over the embroidered collar of his uniform. “He is always contented and merry while I am suffering.”
The secretary came in and brought some document.
“Thanks, very much,” said the president, lighting a cigarette. “Which case shall we take first, then?”
“The poisoning case, I should say,” answered the secretary, with indifference.
“All right; the poisoning case let it be,” said the president, thinking that he could get this case over by four o’clock, and then go away. “And Matthew Nikitich; has he come?”
“He is here,” replied the secretary.
“Then if you see him, please tell him that we begin with the poisoning case.” Breve was the public prosecutor, who was to read the indictment in this case.
In the corridor the secretary met Breve, who, with up lifted shoulders, a portfolio under one arm, the other swinging with the palm turned to the front, was hurrying along the corridor, clattering with his heels.
“Michael Petrovitch wants to know if you are ready?” the secretary asked.
“Of course; I am always ready,” said the public prosecutor. “What are we taking first?”
“The poisoning case.”
“That’s quite right,” said the public prosecutor, but did not think it at all right. He had spent the night in a hotel playing cards with a friend who was giving a farewell party. Up to five in the morning they played and drank, so he had no time to look at this poisoning case, and meant to run it through now. The secretary, happening to know this, advised the president to begin with the poisoning case. The secretary was a Liberal, even a Radical, in opinion.
Breve was a Conservative; the secretary disliked him, and envied him his position.
“Well, and how about the Skoptzy?” [a religious sect] asked the secretary.
“I have already said that I cannot do it without witnesses, and so I shall say to the Court.”
“Dear me, what does it matter?”
“I cannot do it,” said Breve; and, waving his arm, he ran into his private room.
He was putting off the case of the Skoptzy on account of the absence of a very unimportant witness, his real reason being that if they were tried by an educated jury they might possibly be acquitted.
By an agreement with the president this case was to be tried in the coming session at a provincial town, where there would be more peasants, and, therefore, more chances of conviction.
The movement in the corridor increased. The people crowded most at the doors of the Civil Court, in which the case that the dignified man talked about was being heard.
An interval in the proceeding occurred, and the old woman came out of the court, whose property that genius of an advocate had found means of getting for his client, a person versed in law who had no right to it whatever. The judges knew all about the case, and the advocate and his client knew it better still, but the move they had invented was such that it was impossible not to take the old woman’s property and not to hand it over to the person versed in law.
The old woman was stout, well dressed, and had enormous flowers on her bonnet; she stopped as she came out of the door, and spreading out her short fat arms and turning to her advocate, she kept repeating. “What does it all mean? just fancy!”
The advocate was looking at the flowers in her bonnet, and evidently not listening to her, but considering some question or other.
Next to the old woman, out of the door of the Civil Court, his broad, starched shirt front glistening from under his low-cut waistcoat, with a self-satisfied look on his face, came the celebrated advocate who had managed to arrange matters so that the old woman lost all she had, and the person versed in the law received more than 100,000 roubles. The advocate passed close to the old woman, and, feeling all eyes directed towards him, his whole bearing seemed to say: “No expressions of deference are required.”
THE OFFICIALS OF THE COURT.
At last Matthew Nikitich also arrived, and the usher, a thin man, with a long neck and a kind of sideways walk, his nether lip protruding to one side, which made him resemble a turkey, came into the jurymen’s room.
This usher was an honest man, and had a university education, but could not keep a place for any length of time, as he was subject to fits of drunkenness. Three months before a certain countess, who patronised his wife, had found him this place, and he was very pleased to have kept it so long.
“Well, sirs, is everybody here?” he asked, putting his pince-nez on his nose, and looking round.
“Everybody, I think,” said the jolly merchant.
“All right; we’ll soon see.” And, taking a list from his pocket, he began calling out the names, looking at the men, sometimes through and sometimes over his pince-nez.
“Councillor of State, [grades such as this are common in Russia, and mean very little] J. M. Nikiforoff!”
“I am he,” said the dignified-looking man, well versed in the habits of the law court.
“Ivan Semionovitch Ivanoff, retired colonel!”
“Here!” replied a thin man, in the uniform of a retired officer.
“Merchant of the Second Guild, Peter Baklasheff!”
“Here we are, ready!” said the good-humoured merchant, with a broad smile.
“Lieutenant of the Guards, Prince Dmitri Nekhludoff!”
“I am he,” answered Nekhludoff.
The usher bowed to him, looking over his pince-nez, politely and pleasantly, as if wishing to distinguish him from the others.
“Captain Youri Demitrievitch-Dantchenko, merchant; Grigori Euphimitch Kouleshoff,” etc. All but two were present.
“Now please to come to the court, gentlemen,” said the usher, pointing to the door, with an amiable wave of his hand.
All moved towards the door, pausing to let each other pass. Then they went through the corridor into the court.
The court was a large, long room. At one end there was a raised platform, with three steps leading up to it, on which stood a table, covered with a green cloth trimmed with a fringe of a darker shade. At the table were placed three arm-chairs, with high-carved oak backs; on the wall behind them hung a full-length, brightly-coloured portrait of the Emperor in uniform and ribbon, with one foot in advance, and holding a sword. In the right corner hung a case, with an image of Christ crowned with thorns, and beneath it stood a lectern, and on the same side the prosecuting attorney’s desk. On the left, opposite the desk, was the secretary’s table, and in front of it, nearer the public, an oak grating, with the prisoners’ bench, as yet unoccupied, behind it. Besides all this, there were on the right side of the platform high-backed ashwood chairs for the jury, and on the floor below tables for the advocates. All this was in the front part of the court, divided from the back by a grating.
The back was all taken up by seats in tiers. Sitting on the front seats were four women, either servant or factory girls, and two working men, evidently overawed by the grandeur of the room, and not venturing to speak above a whisper.
Soon after the jury had come in the usher entered, with his sideward gait, and stepping to the front, called out in a loud voice, as if he meant to frighten those present, “The Court is coming!” Every one got up as the members stepped on to the platform. Among them the president, with his muscles and fine whiskers. Next came the gloomy member of the Court, who was now more gloomy than ever, having met his brother-in-law, who informed him that he had just called in to see his sister (the member’s wife), and that she had told him that there would be no dinner there.
“So that, evidently, we shall have to call in at a cook shop,” the brother-in-law added, laughing.
“It is not at all funny,” said the gloomy member, and became gloomier still.
Then at last came the third member of the Court, the same Matthew Nikitich, who was always late. He was a bearded man, with large, round, kindly eyes. He was suffering from a catarrh of the stomach, and, according to his doctor’s advice, he had begun trying a new treatment, and this had kept him at home longer than usual. Now, as he was ascending the platform, he had a pensive air. He was in the habit of making guesses in answer to all sorts of self-put questions by different curious means. Just now he had asked whether the new treatment would be beneficial, and had decided that it would cure his catarrh if the number of steps from the door to his chair would divide by three. He made 26 steps, but managed to get in a 27th just by his chair.
The figures of the president and the members in their uniforms, with gold-embroidered collars, looked very imposing. They seemed to feel this themselves, and, as if overpowered by their own grandeur, hurriedly sat down on the high backed chairs behind the table with the green cloth, on which were a triangular article with an eagle at the top, two glass vases–something like those in which sweetmeats are kept in refreshment rooms–an inkstand, pens, clean paper, and good, newly-cut pencils of different kinds.
The public prosecutor came in with the judges. With his portfolio under one arm, and swinging the other, he hurriedly walked to his seat near the window, and was instantly absorbed in reading and looking through the papers, not wasting a single moment, in hope of being ready when the business commenced. He had been public prosecutor but a short time, and had only prosecuted four times before this. He was very ambitious, and had firmly made up his mind to get on, and therefore thought it necessary to get a conviction whenever he prosecuted. He knew the chief facts of the poisoning case, and had already formed a plan of action. He only wanted to copy out a few points which he required.
The secretary sat on the opposite side of the platform, and, having got ready all the papers he might want, was looking through an article, prohibited by the censor, which he had procured and read the day before. He was anxious to have a talk about this article with the bearded member, who shared his views, but wanted to look through it once more before doing so.
SWEARING IN THE JURY.
The president, having looked through some papers and put a few questions to the usher and the secretary, gave the order for the prisoners to be brought in.
The door behind the grating was instantly opened, and two gendarmes, with caps on their heads, and holding naked swords in their hands, came in, followed by the prisoners, a red-haired, freckled man, and two women. The man wore a prison cloak, which was too long and too wide for him. He stuck out his thumbs, and held his arms close to his sides, thus keeping the sleeves, which were also too long, from slipping over his hands. Without looking at the judges he gazed steadfastly at the form, and passing to the other side of it, he sat down carefully at the very edge, leaving plenty of room for the others. He fixed his eyes on the president, and began moving the muscles of his cheeks, as if whispering something. The woman who came next was also dressed in a prison cloak, and had a prison kerchief round her head. She had a sallow complexion, no eyebrows or lashes, and very red eyes. This woman appeared perfectly calm. Having caught her cloak against something, she detached it carefully, without any haste, and sat down.
The third prisoner was Maslova.
As soon as she appeared, the eyes of all the men in the court turned her way, and remained fixed on her white face, her sparklingly-brilliant black eyes and the swelling bosom under the prison cloak. Even the gendarme whom she passed on her way to her seat looked at her fixedly till she sat down, and then, as if feeling guilty, hurriedly turned away, shook himself, and began staring at the window in front of him.
The president paused until the prisoners had taken their seats, and when Maslova was seated, turned to the secretary.
Then the usual procedure commenced; the counting of the jury, remarks about those who had not come, the fixing of the fines to be exacted from them, the decisions concerning those who claimed exemption, the appointing of reserve jurymen.
Having folded up some bits of paper and put them in one of the glass vases, the president turned up the gold-embroidered cuffs of his uniform a little way, and began drawing the lots, one by one, and opening them. Nekhludoff was among the jurymen thus drawn. Then, having let down his sleeves, the president requested the priest to swear in the jury.
The old priest, with his puffy, red face, his brown gown, and his gold cross and little order, laboriously moving his stiff legs, came up to the lectern beneath the icon.
The jurymen got up, and crowded towards the lectern.
“Come up, please,” said the priest, pulling at the cross on his breast with his plump hand, and waiting till all the jury had drawn near. When they had all come up the steps of the platform, the priest passed his bald, grey head sideways through the greasy opening of the stole, and, having rearranged his thin hair, he again turned to the jury. “Now, raise your right arms in this way, and put your fingers together, thus,” he said, with his tremulous old voice, lifting his fat, dimpled hand, and putting the thumb and two first fingers together, as if taking a pinch of something. “Now, repeat after me, ‘I promise and swear, by the Almighty God, by His holy gospels, and by the life-giving cross of our Lord, that in this work which,'” he said, pausing between each sentence–“don’t let your arm down; hold it like this,” he remarked to a young man who had lowered his arm–“‘that in this work which . . . ‘”
The dignified man with the whiskers, the colonel, the merchant, and several more held their arms and fingers as the priest required of them, very high, very exactly, as if they liked doing it; others did it unwillingly and carelessly. Some repeated the words too loudly, and with a defiant tone, as if they meant to say, “In spite of all, I will and shall speak.” Others whispered very low, and not fast enough, and then, as if frightened, hurried to catch up the priest. Some kept their fingers tightly together, as if fearing to drop the pinch of invisible something they held; others kept separating and folding theirs. Every one save the old priest felt awkward, but he was sure he was fulfilling a very useful and important duty.
After the swearing in, the president requested the jury to choose a foreman, and the jury, thronging to the door, passed out into the debating-room, where almost all of them at once began to smoke cigarettes. Some one proposed the dignified man as foreman, and he was unanimously accepted. Then the jurymen put out their cigarettes and threw them away and returned to the court. The dignified man informed the president that he was chosen foreman, and all sat down again on the high-backed chairs.
Everything went smoothly, quickly, and not without a certain solemnity. And this exactitude, order, and solemnity evidently pleased those who took part in it: it strengthened the impression that they were fulfilling a serious and valuable public duty. Nekhludoff, too, felt this.
As soon as the jurymen were seated, the president made a speech on their rights, obligations, and responsibilities. While speaking he kept changing his position; now leaning on his right, now on his left hand, now against the back, then on the arms of his chair, now putting the papers straight, now handling his pencil and paper-knife.
According to his words, they had the right of interrogating the prisoners through the president, to use paper and pencils, and to examine the articles put in as evidence. Their duty was to judge not falsely, but justly. Their responsibility meant that if the secrecy of their discussion were violated, or communications were established with outsiders, they would be liable to punishment. Every one listened with an expression of respectful attention. The merchant, diffusing a smell of brandy around him, and restraining loud hiccups, approvingly nodded his head at every sentence.
THE TRIAL–THE PRISONERS QUESTIONED.
When he had finished his speech, the president turned to the male prisoner.
“Simeon Kartinkin, rise.”
Simeon jumped up, his lips continuing to move nervously and inaudibly.
“Simon Petrov Kartinkin,” he said, rapidly, with a cracked voice, having evidently prepared the answer.
“What class do you belong to?”
“What government, district, and parish?”
“Toula Government, Krapivinskia district, Koupianovski parish, the village Borki.”
“Thirty-three; born in the year one thousand eight–”
“Of the Russian religion, orthodox.”
“Oh, no, sir.”
“I had a place in the Hotel Mauritania.”
“Have you ever been tried before?”
“I never got tried before, because, as we used to live formerly–”
“So you never were tried before?”
“God forbid, never.”
“Have you received a copy of the indictment?”
“Euphemia Ivanovna Botchkova,” said the president, turning to the next prisoner.
But Simon continued standing in front of Botchkova.
“Kartinkin, sit down!” Kartinkin continued standing.
“Kartinkin, sit down!” But Kartinkin sat down only when the usher, with his head on one side, and with preternaturally wide-open eyes, ran up, and said, in a tragic whisper, “Sit down, sit down!”
Kartinkin sat down as hurriedly as he had risen, wrapping his cloak round him, and again began moving his lips silently.
“Your name?” asked the president, with a weary sigh at being obliged to repeat the same questions, without looking at the prisoner, but glancing over a paper that lay before him. The president was so used to his task that, in order to get quicker through it all, he did two things at a time.
Botchkova was forty-three years old, and came from the town of Kalomna. She, too, had been in service at the Hotel Mauritania.
“I have never been tried before, and have received a copy of the indictment.” She gave her answers boldly, in a tone of voice as if she meant to add to each answer, “And I don’t care who knows it, and I won’t stand any nonsense.”
She did not wait to be told, but sat down as soon as she had replied to the last question.
“Your name?” turning abruptly to the third prisoner. “You will have to rise,” he added, softly and gently, seeing that Maslova kept her seat.
Maslova got up and stood, with her chest expanded, looking at the president with that peculiar expression of readiness in her smiling black eyes.
“What is your name?”
“Lubov,” she said.
Nekhludoff had put on his pince-nez, looking at the prisoners while they were being questioned.
“No, it is impossible,” he thought, not taking his eyes off the prisoner. “Lubov! How can it be?” he thought to himself, after hearing her answer. The president was going to continue his questions, but the member with the spectacles interrupted him, angrily whispering something. The president nodded, and turned again to the prisoner.
“How is this,” he said, “you are not put down here as Lubov?”
The prisoner remained silent.
“I want your real name.”
“What is your baptismal name?” asked the angry member.
“Formerly I used to be called Katerina.”
“No, it cannot be,” said Nekhludoff to himself; and yet he was now certain that this was she, that same girl, half ward, half servant to his aunts; that Katusha, with whom he had once been in love, really in love, but whom he had betrayed and then abandoned, and never again brought to mind, for the memory would have been too painful, would have convicted him too clearly, proving that he who was so proud of his integrity had treated this woman in a revolting, scandalous way.
Yes, this was she. He now clearly saw in her face that strange, indescribable individuality which distinguishes every face from all others; something peculiar, all its own, not to be found anywhere else. In spite of the unhealthy pallor and the fulness of the face, it was there, this sweet, peculiar individuality; on those lips, in the slight squint of her eyes, in the voice, particularly in the naive smile, and in the expression of readiness on the face and figure.
“You should have said so,” remarked the president, again in a gentle tone. “Your patronymic?”
“I am illegitimate.”
“Well, were you not called by your godfather’s name?”
“And what is it she can be guilty of?” continued Nekhludoff, in his mind, unable to breathe freely.
“Your family name–your surname, I mean?” the president went on.
“They used to call me by my mother’s surname, Maslova.”
“Meschanka.” [the lowest town class or grade]
“Occupation. What was your occupation?”
Maslova remained silent.
“What was your employment?”
“You know yourself,” she said, and smiled. Then, casting a hurried look round the room, again turned her eyes on the president.
There was something so unusual in the expression of her face, so terrible and piteous in the meaning of the words she had uttered, in this smile, and in the furtive glance she had cast round the room, that the president was abashed, and for a few minutes silence reigned in the court. The silence was broken by some one among the public laughing, then somebody said “Ssh,” and the president looked up and continued:
“Have you ever been tried before?”
“Never,” answered Maslova, softly, and sighed.
“Have you received a copy of the indictment?”
“I have,” she answered.
The prisoner leant back to pick up her skirt in the way a fine lady picks up her train, and sat down, folding her small white hands in the sleeves of her cloak, her eyes fixed on the president. Her face was calm again.
The witnesses were called, and some sent away; the doctor who was to act as expert was chosen and called into the court.
Then the secretary got up and began reading the indictment. He read distinctly, though he pronounced the “I” and “r” alike, with a loud voice, but so quickly that the words ran into one another and formed one uninterrupted, dreary drone.
The judges bent now on one, now on the other arm of their chairs, then on the table, then back again, shut and opened their eyes, and whispered to each other. One of the gendarmes several times repressed a yawn.
The prisoner Kartinkin never stopped moving his cheeks. Botchkova sat quite still and straight, only now and then scratching her head under the kerchief.
Maslova sat immovable, gazing at the reader; only now and then she gave a slight start, as if wishing to reply, blushed, sighed heavily, and changed the position of her hands, looked round, and again fixed her eyes on the reader.
Nekhludoff sat in the front row on his high-backed chair, without removing his pince-nez, and looked at Maslova, while a complicated and fierce struggle was going on in his soul.
THE TRIAL–THE INDICTMENT.
The indictment ran as follows: On the 17th of January, 18–, in the lodging-house Mauritania, occurred the sudden death of the Second Guild merchant, Therapont Emilianovich Smelkoff, of Kourgan.
The local police doctor of the fourth district certified that death was due to rupture of the heart, owing to the excessive use of alcoholic liquids. The body of the said Smelkoff was interred. After several days had elapsed, the merchant Timokhin, a fellow-townsman and companion of the said Smelkoff, returned from St. Petersburg, and hearing the circumstances that accompanied the death of the latter, notified his suspicions that the death was caused by poison, given with intent to rob the said Smelkoff of his money. This suspicion was corroborated on inquiry, which proved:
1. That shortly before his death the said Smelkoff had received the sum of 3,800 roubles from the bank. When an inventory of the property of the deceased was made, only 312 roubles and 16 copecks were found.
2. The whole day and night preceding his death the said Smelkoff spent with Lubka (alias Katerina Maslova) at her home and in the lodging-house Mauritania, which she also visited at the said Smelkoff’s request during his absence, to get some money, which she took out of his portmanteau in the presence of the servants of the lodging-house Mauritania, Euphemia Botchkova and Simeon Kartinkin, with a key given her by the said Smelkoff. In the portmanteau opened by the said Maslova, the said Botchkova and Kartinkin saw packets of 100-rouble bank-notes.
3. On the said Smelkoff’s return to the lodging-house Mauritania, together with Lubka, the latter, in accordance with the attendant Kartinkin’s advice, gave the said Smelkoff some white powder given to her by the said Kartinkin, dissolved in brandy.
4. The next morning the said Lubka (alias Katerina Maslova) sold to her mistress, the witness Kitaeva, a brothel-keeper, a diamond ring given to her, as she alleged, by the said Smelkoff.
5. The housemaid of the lodging-house Mauritania, Euphemia Botchkova, placed to her account in the local Commercial Bank 1,800 roubles. The postmortem examination of the body of the said Smelkoff and the chemical analysis of his intestines proved beyond doubt the presence of poison in the organism, so that there is reason to believe that the said Smelkoff’s death was caused by poisoning.
When cross-examined, the accused, Maslova, Botchkova, and Kartinkin, pleaded not guilty, deposing–Maslova, that she had really been sent by Smelkoff from the brothel, where she “works,” as she expresses it, to the lodging-house Mauritania to get the merchant some money, and that, having unlocked the portmanteau with a key given her by the merchant, she took out 40 roubles, as she was told to do, and that she had taken nothing more; that Botchkova and Kartinkin, in whose presence she unlocked and locked the portmanteau, could testify to the truth of the statement.
She gave this further evidence–that when she came to the lodging-house for the second time she did, at the instigation of Simeon Kartinkin, give Smelkoff sonic kind of powder, which she thought was a narcotic, in a glass of brandy, hoping he would fall asleep and that she would be able to get away from him; and that Smelkoff, having beaten her, himself gave her the ring when she cried and threatened to go away.
The accused, Euphemia Botchkova, stated that she knew nothing about the missing money, that she had not even gone into Smelkoff’s room, but that Lubka had been busy there all by herself; that if anything had been stolen, it must have been done by Lubka when she came with the merchant’s key to get his money.
At this point Maslova gave a start, opened her mouth, and looked at Botchkova. “When,” continued the secretary, “the receipt for 1,800 roubles from the bank was shown to Botchkova, and she was asked where she had obtained the money, she said that it was her own earnings for 12 years, and those of Simeon, whom she was going to marry. The accused Simeon Kartinkin, when first examined, confessed that he and Botchkova, at the instigation of Maslova, who had come with the key from the brothel, had stolen the money and divided it equally among themselves and Maslova.” Here Maslova again started, half-rose from her seat, and, blushing scarlet, began to say something, but was stopped by the usher. “At last,” the secretary continued, reading, “Kartinkin confessed also that he had supplied the powders in order to get Smelkoff to sleep. When examined the second time he denied having had anything to do with the stealing of the money or giving Maslova the powders, accusing her of having done it alone.”
Concerning the money placed in the bank by Botchkova, he said the same as she, that is, that the money was given to them both by the lodgers in tips during 12 years’ service.
The indictment concluded as follows:
In consequence of the foregoing, the peasant of the village Borki, Simeon Kartinkin, 33 years of age, the meschanka Euphemia Botchkova, 43 years of age, and the meschanka Katerina Maslova, 27 years of age, are accused of having on the 17th day of January, 188–, jointly stolen from the said merchant, Smelkoff, a ring and money, to the value of 2,500 roubles, and of having given the said merchant, Smelkoff, poison to drink, with intent of depriving him of life, and thereby causing his death. This crime is provided for in clause 1,455 of the Penal Code, paragraphs 4 and 5.
THE TRIAL–MASLOVA CROSS-EXAMINED.
When the reading of the indictment was over, the president, after having consulted the members, turned to Kartinkin, with an expression that plainly said: Now we shall find out the whole truth down to the minutest detail.
“Peasant Simeon Kartinkin,” he said, stooping to the left.
Simeon Kartinkin got up, stretched his arms down his sides, and leaning forward with his whole body, continued moving his cheeks inaudibly.
“You are accused of having on the 17th January, 188–, together with Euphemia Botchkova and Katerina Maslova, stolen money from a portmanteau belonging to the merchant Smelkoff, and then, having procured some arsenic, persuaded Katerina Maslova to give it to the merchant Smelkoff in a glass of brandy, which was the cause of Smelkoff’s death. Do you plead guilty?” said the president, stooping to the right.
“Not nohow, because our business is to attend on the lodgers, and–”
“You’ll tell us that afterwards. Do you plead guilty?”
“Oh, no, sir. I only,–”
“You’ll tell us that afterwards. Do you plead guilty?” quietly and firmly asked the president.
“Can’t do such a thing, because that–”
The usher again rushed up to Simeon Kartinkin, and stopped him in a tragic whisper.
The president moved the hand with which he held the paper and placed the elbow in a different position with an air that said: “This is finished,” and turned to Euphemia Botchkova.
“Euphemia Botchkova, you are accused of having, on the 17th of January, 188-, in the lodging-house Mauritania, together with Simeon Kartinkin and Katerina Maslova, stolen some money and a ring out of the merchant Smelkoff’s portmanteau, and having shared the money among yourselves, given poison to the merchant Smelkoff, thereby causing his death. Do you plead guilty?”
“I am not guilty of anything,” boldly and firmly replied the prisoner. “I never went near the room, but when this baggage went in she did the whole business.”
“You will say all this afterwards,” the president again said, quietly and firmly. “So you do not plead guilty?”
“I did not take the money nor give the drink, nor go into the room. Had I gone in I should have kicked her out.”
“So you do not plead guilty?”
“Katerina Maslova,” the president began, turning to the third prisoner, “you are accused of having come from the brothel with the key of the merchant Smelkoff’s portmanteau, money, and a ring.” He said all this like a lesson learned by heart, leaning towards the member on his left, who was whispering into his car that a bottle mentioned in the list of the material evidence was missing. “Of having stolen out of the portmanteau money and a ring,” he repeated, “and shared it. Then, returning to the lodging house Mauritania with Smelkoff, of giving him poison in his drink, and thereby causing his death. Do you plead guilty?”
“I am not guilty of anything,” she began rapidly. “As I said before I say again, I did not take it–I did not take it; I did not take anything, and the ring he gave me himself.”
“You do not plead guilty of having stolen 2,500 roubles?” asked the president.
“I’ve said I took nothing but the 40 roubles.”
“Well, and do you plead guilty of having given the merchant Smelkoff a powder in his drink?”
“Yes, that I did. Only I believed what they told me, that they were sleeping powders, and that no harm could come of them. I never thought, and never wished. . . God is my witness; I say, I never meant this,” she said.
“So you do not plead guilty of having stolen the money and the ring from the merchant Smelkoff, but confess that you gave him the powder?” said the president.
“Well, yes, I do confess this, but I thought they were sleeping powders. I only gave them to make him sleep; I never meant and never thought of worse.”
“Very well,” said the president, evidently satisfied with the results gained. “Now tell us how it all happened,” and he leaned back in his chair and put his folded hands on the table. “Tell us all about it. A free and full confession will be to your advantage.”
Maslova continued to look at the president in silence, and blushing.
“Tell us how it happened.”
“How it happened?” Maslova suddenly began, speaking quickly. “I came to the lodging-house, and was shown into the room. He was there, already very drunk.” She pronounced the word _he_ with a look of horror in her wide-open eyes. “I wished to go away, but he would not let me.” She stopped, as if having lost the thread, or remembered some thing else.
“Well, and then?”
“Well, what then? I remained a bit, and went home again.”
At this moment the public prosecutor raised himself a little, leaning on one elbow in an awkward manner.
“You would like to put a question?” said the president, and having received an answer in the affirmative, he made a gesture inviting the public prosecutor to speak.
“I want to ask, was the prisoner previously acquainted with Simeon Kartinkin?” said the public prosecutor, without looking at Maslova, and, having put the question, he compressed his lips and frowned.
The president repeated the question. Maslova stared at the public prosecutor, with a frightened look.
“With Simeon? Yes,” she said.
“I should like to know what the prisoner’s acquaintance with Kartinkin consisted in. Did they meet often?”
“Consisted in? . . . He invited me for the lodgers; it was not an acquaintance at all,” answered Maslova, anxiously moving her eyes from the president to the public prosecutor and back to the president.
“I should like to know why Kartinkin invited only Maslova, and none of the other girls, for the lodgers?” said the public prosecutor, with half-closed eyes and a cunning, Mephistophelian smile.
“I don’t know. How should I know?” said Maslova, casting a frightened look round, and fixing her eyes for a moment on Nekhludoff. “He asked whom he liked.”
“Is it possible that she has recognised me?” thought Nekhludoff, and the blood rushed to his face. But Maslova turned away without distinguishing him from the others, and again fixed her eyes anxiously on the public prosecutor.
“So the prisoner denies having had any intimate relations with Kartinkin? Very well, I have no more questions to ask.”
And the public prosecutor took his elbow off the desk, and began writing something. He was not really noting anything down, but only going over the letters of his notes with a pen, having seen the procureur and leading advocates, after putting a clever question, make a note, with which, later on, to annihilate their adversaries.
The president did not continue at once, because he was consulting the member with the spectacles, whether he was agreed that the questions (which had all been prepared be forehand and written out) should be put.
“Well! What happened next?” he then went on.
“I came home,” looking a little more boldly only at the president, “and went to bed. Hardly had I fallen asleep when one of our girls, Bertha, woke me. ‘Go, your merchant has come again!’ He”–she again uttered the word _he_ with evident horror– “he kept treating our girls, and then wanted to send for more wine, but his money was all gone, and he sent me to his lodgings and told me where the money was, and how much to take. So I went.”
The president was whispering to the member on his left, but, in order to appear as if he had heard, he repeated her last words.
“So you went. Well, what next?”
“I went, and did all he told me; went into his room. I did not go alone, but called Simeon Kartinkin and her,” she said, pointing to Botchkova.
“That’s a lie; I never went in,” Botchkova began, but was stopped.
“In their presence I took out four notes,” continued Maslova, frowning, without looking at Botchkova.
“Yes, but did the prisoner notice,” again asked the prosecutor, “how much money there was when she was getting out the 40 roubles?”
Maslova shuddered when the prosecutor addressed her; she did not know why it was, but she felt that he wished her evil.
“I did not count it, but only saw some 100-rouble notes.”
“Ah! The prisoner saw 100-rouble notes. That’s all?”
“Well, so you brought back the money,” continued the president, looking at the clock.
“Well, and then?”
“Then he took me back with him,” said Maslova.
“Well, and how did you give him the powder? In his drink?”
“How did I give it? I put them in and gave it him.”
“Why did you give it him?”
She did not answer, but sighed deeply and heavily.
“He would not let me go,” she said, after a moment’s silence, “and I was quite tired out, and so I went out into the passage and said to Simeon, ‘If he would only let me go, I am so tired.’ And he said, ‘We are also sick of him; we were thinking of giving him a sleeping draught; he will fall asleep, and then you can go.’ So I said all right. I thought they were harmless, and he gave me the packet. I went in. He was lying behind the partition, and at once called for brandy. I took a bottle of ‘fine champagne’ from the table, poured out two glasses, one for him and one for myself, and put the powders into his glass, and gave it him. Had I known how could I have given them to him?”
“Well, and how did the ring come into your possession?” asked the president. “When did he give it you?”
“That was when we came back to his lodgings. I wanted to go away, and he gave me a knock on the head and broke my comb. I got angry and said I’d go away, and he took the ring off his finger and gave it to me so that I should not go,” she said.
Then the public prosecutor again slightly raised himself, and, putting on an air of simplicity, asked permission to put a few more questions, and, having received it, bending his head over his embroidered collar, he said: “I should like to know how long the prisoner remained in the merchant Smelkoff’s room.”
Maslova again seemed frightened, and she again looked anxiously from the public prosecutor to the president, and said hurriedly:
“I do not remember how long.”
“Yes, but does the prisoner remember if she went anywhere else in the lodging-house after she left Smelkoff?”
Maslova considered for a moment. “Yes, I did go into an empty room next to his.”
“Yes, and why did you go in?” asked the public prosecutor, forgetting himself, and addressing her directly.
“I went in to rest a bit, and to wait for an isvostchik.”
“And was Kartinkin in the room with the prisoner, or not?”
“He came in.”
“Why did he come in?”
“There was some of the merchant’s brandy left, and we finished it together.”
“Oh, finished it together. Very well! And did the prisoner talk to Kartinkin, and, if so, what about?”
Maslova suddenly frowned, blushed very red, and said, hurriedly, “What about? I did not talk about anything, and that’s all I know. Do what you like with me; I am not guilty, and that’s all.”
“I have nothing more to ask,” said the prosecutor, and, drawing up his shoulders in an unnatural manner, began writing down, as the prisoner’s own evidence, in the notes for his speech, that she had been in the empty room with Kartinkin.
There was a short silence.
“You have nothing more to say?”
“I have told everything,” she said, with a sigh, and sat down.
Then the president noted something down, and, having listened to something that the member on his left whispered to him, he announced a ten-minutes’ interval, rose hurriedly, and left the court. The communication he had received from the tall, bearded member with the kindly eyes was that the member, having felt a slight stomach derangement, wished to do a little massage and to take some drops. And this was why an interval was made.
When the judges had risen, the advocates, the jury, and the witnesses also rose, with the pleasant feeling that part of the business was finished, and began moving in different directions.
Nekhludoff went into the jury’s room, and sat down by the window.
TWELVE YEARS BEFORE.
“Yes, this was Katusha.”
The relations between Nekhludoff and Katusha had been the following:
Nekhludoff first saw Katusha when he was a student in his third year at the University, and was preparing an essay on land tenure during the summer vacation, which he passed with his aunts. Until then he had always lived, in summer, with his mother and sister on his mother’s large estate near Moscow. But that year his sister had married, and his mother had gone abroad to a watering-place, and he, having his essay to write, resolved to spend the summer with his aunts. It was very quiet in their secluded estate and there was nothing to distract his mind; his aunts loved their nephew and heir very tenderly, and he, too, was fond of them and of their simple, old-fashioned life.
During that summer on his aunts’ estate, Nekhludoff passed through that blissful state of existence when a young man for the first time, without guidance from any one outside, realises all the beauty and significance of life, and the importance of the task allotted in it to man; when he grasps the possibility of unlimited advance towards perfection for one’s self and for all the world, and gives himself to this task, not only hopefully, but with full conviction of attaining to the perfection he imagines. In that year, while still at the University, he had read Spencer’s Social Statics, and Spencer’s views on landholding especially impressed him, as he himself was heir to large estates. His father had not been rich, but his mother had received 10,000 acres of land for her dowry. At that time he fully realised all the cruelty and injustice of private property in land, and being one of those to whom a sacrifice to the demands of conscience gives the highest spiritual enjoyment, he decided not to retain property rights, but to give up to the peasant labourers the land he had inherited from his father. It was on this land question he wrote his essay.
He arranged his life on his aunts’ estate in the following manner. He got up very early, sometimes at three o’clock, and before sunrise went through the morning mists to bathe in the river, under the hill. He returned while the dew still lay on the grass and the flowers. Sometimes, having finished his coffee, he sat down with his books of reference and his papers to write his essay, but very often, instead of reading or writing, he left home again, and wandered through the fields and the woods. Before dinner he lay down and slept somewhere in the garden. At dinner he amused and entertained his aunts with his bright spirits, then he rode on horseback or went for a row on the river, and in the evening he again worked at his essay, or sat reading or playing patience with his aunts.
His joy in life was so great that it agitated him, and kept him awake many a night, especially when it was moonlight, so that instead of sleeping he wandered about in the garden till dawn, alone with his dreams and fancies.
And so, peacefully and happily, he lived through the first month of his stay with his aunts, taking no particular notice of their half-ward, half-servant, the black-eyed, quick-footed Katusha. Then, at the age of nineteen, Nekhludoff, brought up under his mother’s wing, was still quite pure. If a woman figured in his dreams at all it was only as a wife. All the other women, who, according to his ideas he could not marry, were not women for him, but human beings.
But on Ascension Day that summer, a neighbour of his aunts’, and her family, consisting of two young daughters, a schoolboy, and a young artist of peasant origin who was staying with them, came to spend the day. After tea they all went to play in the meadow in front of the house, where the grass had already been mown. They played at the game of gorelki, and Katusha joined them. Running about and changing partners several times, Nekhludoff caught Katusha, and she became his partner. Up to this time he had liked Katusha’s looks, but the possibility of any nearer relations with her had never entered his mind.
“Impossible to catch those two,” said the merry young artist, whose turn it was to catch, and who could run very fast with his short, muscular legs.
“You! And not catch us?” said Katusha.
“One, two, three,” and the artist clapped his hands. Katusha, hardly restraining her laughter, changed places with Nekhludoff, behind the artist’s back, and pressing his large hand with her little rough one, and rustling with her starched petticoat, ran to the left. Nekhludoff ran fast to the right, trying to escape from the artist, but when he looked round he saw the artist running after Katusha, who kept well ahead, her firm young legs moving rapidly. There was a lilac bush in front of them, and Katusha made a sign with her head to Nekhludoff to join her behind it, for if they once clasped hands again they were safe from their pursuer, that being a rule of the game. He understood the sign, and ran behind the bush, but he did not know that there was a small ditch overgrown with nettles there. He stumbled and fell into the nettles, already wet with dew, stinging his bands, but rose immediately, laughing at his mishap.
Katusha, with her eyes black as sloes, her face radiant with joy, was flying towards him, and they caught hold of each other’s hands.
“Got stung, I daresay?” she said, arranging her hair with her free hand, breathing fast and looking straight up at him with a glad, pleasant smile.
“I did not know there was a ditch here,” he answered, smiling also, and keeping her hand in his. She drew nearer to him, and he himself, not knowing how it happened, stooped towards her. She did not move away, and he pressed her hand tight and kissed her on the lips.
“There! You’ve done it!” she said; and, freeing her hand with a swift movement, ran away from him. Then, breaking two branches of white lilac from which the blossoms were already falling, she