COUNT LEO TOLSTOI
"War and Peace," "The Kreutzer Sonata," "Anna Karenina," Etc.
Translated by William E. Smith
New York Street & Smith, Publishers 238 William Street Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1900 By Street & Smith In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D.C.
"Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?"—Matthew, c. xviii.; v. 21.
"Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but until seventy times seven."—Idem, v. 22.
"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye!"—Idem, c. vii.; v. 3.
"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."—John, c. viii.; v. 7.
"The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master."—Luke, c. vi.; v. 40.
All the efforts of several hundred thousand people, crowded in a small space, to disfigure the land on which they lived; all the stone they covered it with to keep it barren; how so diligently every sprouting blade of grass was removed; all the smoke of coal and naphtha; all the cutting down of trees and driving off of cattle could not shut out the spring, even from the city. The sun was shedding its light; the grass, revivified, was blooming forth, where it was left uncut, not only on the greenswards of the boulevard, but between the flag-stones, and the birches, poplars and wild-berry trees were unfolding their viscous leaves; the limes were unfolding their buds; the daws, sparrows and pigeons were joyfully making their customary nests, and the flies were buzzing on the sun-warmed walls. Plants, birds, insects and children were equally joyful. Only men—grown-up men—continued cheating and tormenting themselves and each other. People saw nothing holy in this spring morning, in this beauty of God's world—a gift to all living creatures—inclining to peace, good-will and love, but worshiped their own inventions for imposing their will on each other.
The joy of spring felt by animals and men did not penetrate the office of the county jail, but the one thing of supreme importance there was a document received the previous evening, with title, number and seal, which ordered the bringing into court for trial, this 28th day of April, at nine o'clock in the morning, three prisoners—two women and one man. One of the women, as the more dangerous criminal, was to be brought separately. So, in pursuance of that order, on the 28th day of April, at eight o'clock in the morning, the jail warden entered the dingy corridor of the woman's ward. Immediately behind him came a woman with weary countenance and disheveled gray hair, wearing a crown-laced jacket, and girdled with a blue-edged sash. She was the matron.
"You want Maslova?" she asked the warden, as they neared one of the cells opening into the corridor.
The warden, with a loud clanking of iron, unlocked and opened the door of the cell, releasing an even fouler odor than permeated the corridor, and shouted:
"Maslova to the court!" and again closing the door he waited for her appearance.
The fresh, vivifying air of the fields, carried to the city by the wind, filled even the court-yard of the jail. But in the corridor the oppressive air, laden with the smell of tar and putrescence, saddened and dejected the spirit of every new-comer. The same feeling was experienced by the jail matron, notwithstanding she was accustomed to bad air. On entering the corridor she suddenly felt a weariness coming over her that inclined her to slumber.
There was a bustling in the cell; women's voices and steps of bare feet were heard.
"Hurry up, Maslova! Come on, I say!" shouted the warden into the cell-door.
Presently at the cell-door appeared a middle-sized, full-breasted young woman, dressed in a long, gray coat over a white waist and skirt. She approached with firm step, and, facing about, stood before the warden. Over her linen stockings she wore jail shoes; her head was covered with a white 'kerchief, from under which black curls were evidently purposely brushed over the forehead. The face of the woman was of that whiteness peculiar to people who have been a long time in confinement, and which reminds one of potato-sprouts in a cellar. Her small, wide hands, her white, full neck, showing from under the large collar of the coat, were of a similar hue. On the dull pallor of that face the most striking feature was the black, sparkling eyes, somewhat swollen, but very bright eyes, one of which slightly squinted. She held herself erect, putting forth her full chest. Emerging into the corridor, throwing her head back a little, she looked into the eyes of the warden and stood ready to do his bidding. The warden was about to shut the door, when a pale, severe, wrinkled face of an old woman with disheveled hair was thrust out. The old woman began to say something to Maslova. But the warden pressed the door against the head of the woman, and she disappeared. In the cell a woman's voice burst into laughter. Maslova also smiled, and turned to the grated little opening in the door. The old woman pressed her forehead to the grating, and said in a hoarse voice:
"Above all, don't speak too much; stick to one thing, and that is all."
"Of course. It cannot be any worse," said Maslova.
"You certainly cannot stick to two things," said the chief warden, with official assurance of his own wit. "Follow me, now! Forward! March!"
The eye looking from behind the grating disappeared, and Maslova took to the middle of the corridor, and with short, but rapid strides, followed the warden. They descended the stone stairway, and as they passed the men's ward, noisy and more noisome even than the woman's ward, scores of eyes followed them from behind the gratings. They entered the office, where an armed escort of two soldiers stood. The clerk handed one of the soldiers a document, reeking of tobacco smoke, and, pointing to the prisoner, said:
The soldier, a Nijhni peasant with a red and pock-marked face, placed the paper into the cuff of his coat sleeve, and, smiling, winked to his muscular comrade. The soldiers and prisoner descended the stairs and went in the direction of the main entrance.
A small door in the gate opened, and, crossing the threshold, they passed through the inclosure and took the middle of the paved street.
Drivers, shop-keepers, kitchen maids, laborers and officials halted and gazed with curiosity at the prisoner. Some shook their heads and thought: "There is the result of evil conduct—how unlike ours!" Children looked with horror at the cut-throat, but the presence of the soldiers reassured them, for she was now powerless to do harm. A villager, returning from the mart, where he had disposed of his charcoal and visited an inn, offered her a kopeck. The prisoner blushed, drooped her head and murmured something.
Conscious of the attention that was shown her, without turning her head she looked askance at the onlookers and rather enjoyed it. She also enjoyed the comparatively pure spring air, but the walking on the cobblestones was painful to her feet, unused as they were to walking, and shod in clumsy prison shoes. She looked at her feet and endeavored to step as lightly as possible. Passing by a food store, in front of which some pigeons were picking grain, she came near striking with her foot a dove-colored bird. It rose with a flutter of its wings, and flew past the very ear of the prisoner, fanning her face with its wings. She smiled, then sighed deeply, remembering her own condition.
The history of the prisoner Maslova was a very common one. Maslova was the daughter of an unmarried menial who lived with her mother, a cowherd, on the estate of two spinsters. This unmarried woman gave birth to a child every year, and, as is the custom in the villages, baptized them; then neglected the troublesome newcomers, and they finally starved to death.
Thus five children died. Every one of these was baptized, then it starved and finally died. The sixth child, begotten of a passing gypsy, was a girl, who would have shared the same fate, but it happened that one of the two old maidens entered the cow-shed to reprimand the milkmaids for carelessness in skimming the cream, and there saw the mother with the healthy and beautiful child. The old maiden chided them for the cream and for permitting the woman to lie in the cow-shed, and was on the point of departing, but noticing the child, was moved to pity, and afterward consented to stand godmother to the child. She baptized the child, and in pity for her god-daughter, furnished her with milk, gave the mother some money, and the babe thrived. Wherefore the old maidens called it "the saved one."
The child was three years old when the mother fell ill and died. She was a great burden to her grandmother, so the old maidens adopted her. The dark-eyed girl became unusually lively and pretty, and her presence cheered them.
Of the two old maidens, the younger one—Sophia Ivanovna—was the kindlier, while the older one—Maria Ivanovna—was of austere disposition. Sophia Ivanovna kept the girl in decent clothes, taught her to read and intended to give her an education. Maria Ivanovna said that the girl ought to be taught to work that she might become a useful servant, was exacting, punished, and even beat her when in bad humor. Under such conditions the girl grew up half servant, half lady. Her position was reflected even in her name, for she was not called by the gentle Katinka, nor yet by the disdainful Katka, but Katiousha, which stands sentimentally between the two. She sewed, cleaned the rooms, cleaned the ikons with chalk, ground, cooked and served coffee, washed, and sometimes she read for the ladies.
She was wooed, but would marry no one, feeling that life with any one of her wooers would be hard, spoiled, as she was, more or less, by the comparative ease she enjoyed in the manor.
She had just passed her sixteenth year when the ladies were visited by their nephew, a rich student, and Katiousha, without daring to confess it to him, or even to herself, fell in love with him. Two years afterward, while on his way to the war, he again visited his aunts, and during his four days' stay, consummated her ruin. Before his departure he thrust a hundred ruble bill into her hand.
Thenceforward life ceased to have any charms for her, and her only thought was to escape the shame which awaited her, and not only did she become lax in her duties, but—and she did not know herself how it happened—all of a sudden she gave vent to her ill temper. She said some rude things to the ladies, of which she afterward repented, and left them.
Dissatisfied with her behavior, they did not detain her. She then obtained employment as servant in the house of the commissary of rural police, but was obliged to give up the position at the end of the third month, for the commissary, a fifty-year old man, pursued her with his attentions, and when, on one occasion, he became too persistent, she flared up, called him an old fool, and threw him to the ground. Then she was driven from the house. She was now so far advanced on the road to maternity that to look for a position was out of the question. Hence she took lodgings with an old midwife, who was also a wine dealer. The confinement came off painlessly. But the midwife was attending a sick woman in the village, infected Katiousha with puerperal fever, and the child, a boy, was taken to a foundling asylum where, she was told, he died immediately after his arrival there.
When Katiousha took lodgings with the midwife she had 127 rubles; 27 rubles of which she had earned, and 100 rubles which had been given her by her seducer. When she left her she had but six rubles left. She was not economical, and spent on herself as well as others. She paid 40 rubles to the midwife for two months' board; 25 rubles it cost her to have the child taken away; 40 rubles the midwife borrowed of her to buy a cow with; the balance was spent on dresses, presents, etc., so that after the confinement she was practically penniless, and was compelled to look for a position. She was soon installed in the house of a forester who was married, and who, like the commissary, began to pay court to her. His wife became aware of it, and when, on one occasion, she found them both in the room, she fell on Katiousha and began to beat her. The latter resented it, and the result was a scrimmage, after which she was driven out of the house, without being paid the wages due her. Katiousha went to the city, where she stopped with her aunt. Her aunt's husband was a bookbinder. Formerly he used to earn a competence, but had lost his customers, and was now given to drink, spending everything that came into his hands.
With the aid of a small laundry she was keeping, her aunt supported her children as well as her husband. She offered Maslova work as a washerwoman, but seeing what a hard life the washerwomen at her aunt's establishment were leading, she searched through the intelligence offices for a position as servant. She found such a place with a lady who was living with her two student boys. A week after she had entered upon her duties, the oldest son neglected his studies and made life miserable for Maslova. The mother threw all blame upon Maslova and discharged her. She was some time without any occupation. In one of these intelligence offices she once met a lady richly dressed and adorned with diamonds. This lady, learning of the condition of Maslova, who was looking for a position, gave her her card and invited her to call. The lady received Maslova affectionately, treated her to choice cakes and sweet wine, while she dispatched her servant somewhere with a note. In the evening a tall man with long hair just turning gray, and gray beard, came into the room. The old man immediately seated himself beside Maslova and began to jest. The hostess called him into an adjoining room, and Maslova overheard her say: "As fresh as a rose; just from the country." Then the hostess called in Maslova and told her that the man was an author, very rich, and will be very generous if he takes a liking to her. He did take a liking to her, gave her twenty-five rubles, and promised to call on her often. The money was soon spent in settling for her board at her aunt's, for a new dress, hat and ribbons. A few days afterward the author sent for her a second time. She called. He gave her another twenty-five ruble bill and offered to rent apartments for her where she could reside separately.
While living in the apartments rented by the author, Maslova became infatuated with a jolly clerk living in the same house. She herself told the author of her infatuation, and moved into a smaller apartment. The clerk, who had promised to marry her, without saying anything, left for Nijhni, evidently casting her off, and Maslova remained alone. She wished to remain in the apartment, but the landlord would not permit a single woman to occupy it, and she returned to her aunt. Her fashionable dress, cape and hat won her the respect of her aunt, who no longer dared to offer her work as a washerwoman, considering her present position far above it. The question of working in the laundry did not even occur to Maslova now. She looked with compassion on the life of drudgery led by these pale, emaciated washerwomen, some of whom showed symptoms of consumption, washing and ironing in a stifling, steam-laden atmosphere with the windows open summer and winter, and she was horrified at the thought that she, too, might be driven to such drudgery.
Maslova had for a long time been addicted to cigarette smoking, but of late she had been getting more and more accustomed to drink. The wine attracted her, not because of its taste, but because it enabled her to forget her past life, to comfort herself with ease, and the confidence of her own worth that it gave her. Without wine she was despondent and abashed. There was the choice of two things before her; either the humiliating occupation of a servant, with the certain unwelcome attentions of the men, or a secure, quiet and legitimatized position of everybody's mistress. She wished to revenge herself on her seducer, as well as the clerk, and all those that brought misfortune upon her. Besides, she could not withstand the temptation of having all the dresses her heart desired—dresses made of velvet, gauze and silk—ball dresses, with open neck and short sleeves. And when Maslova imagined herself in a bright yellow silk dress, with velvet trimmings, decolette, she made her choice.
From this day on Maslova began to lead a life to which hundreds of thousands of women are driven, and which, in nine cases out of ten, ends in painful disease, premature decrepitude and death.
After a night's orgies there would come a deep slumber till three or four o'clock in the afternoon; then the weary rising from a dirty couch; seltzer-water to remove the effect of excessive drinking, coffee. Then came the sauntering through the rooms in dressing-gown, looking through the windows; the languid quarrels; then the perfuming of her body and hair, the trying on of dresses, and the quarrels with the mistress which they occasioned; contemplating herself in the mirror, rouging her face, darkening her eyebrows. Then came the sweet, rich food, the bright silk dress, the entry into the brightly lighted parlor, the arrival of the guests, music, dancing, confectionery, wine and cigarettes.
Thus Maslova lived for seven years. On the eighth, when she had reached her twenty-sixth year, there happened that for which she had been jailed, and for which she was now led to the court, after six months of confinement among thieves and murderers.
At the time when Maslova, exhausted by the long walk, was approaching with the armed convoy the building in which court was held, the same nephew of the ladies that brought her up, Prince Dmitri Ivanovitch Nekhludoff, who deceived her, lay on his high, soft, spring feather-bed, in spotless Holland linen, smoking a cigarette. He was gazing before him, contemplating the events of the previous day and considering what he had before him for that day. As he thought of the previous evening, spent at the Korchagins, a wealthy and influential family, whose daughter, rumor had it, he was to marry, he sighed, and throwing away the butt of his cigarette, he was on the point of taking another from the silver cigarette holder, but changed his mind. Half rising, he slipped his smooth, white feet into the slippers, threw a silk morning gown over his broad shoulders, and with quick and heavy stride, walked into the adjoining dressing-room, which was permeated with the artificial odors of elixirs, perfumes, cosmetics. There he washed his partly gold-filled teeth with a tooth-powder, rinsed them with a perfumed mouth-wash, then began to sponge himself and dry his body with Turkish towels. After washing his hands with perfumed soap, carefully brushing his trimmed nails and washing his face and stout neck in a marble basin, he walked into a third room, where a shower-bath was ready. Here he received a cold-water douche, and after rubbing his white and muscular body with coarse towels and donning his white linen, he seated himself before the mirror and began to brush his short, curly beard and the thinning curls of his forehead.
Everything used by him—the linen, clothing, shoes, scarfs, scarf-pins, cuff-buttons, were of the very best quality, simple, tasteful and expensive.
He then picked out the first of a dozen scarfs and pins that came into his hand—it was no more novel and amusing, as it used to be—and he was quite indifferent as to which he put on. He dressed himself in his brushed clothes which lay on the chair and went out, though not quite refreshed, yet clean and fragrant. In the oblong dining-room, the inlaid floor of which had been polished by three of his men the day before, and containing a massive oaken sideboard and a similar extension table, the legs of which were carved in the shape of lion's paws, giving it a pompous appearance, breakfast stood ready for him. A fine, starched cloth with large monograms was spread on the table, on which stood a silver coffee-pot, containing fragrant, steaming coffee, a sugar bowl and cream pitcher to match, fresh rolls and various kinds of biscuits. Beside them lay the last number of the "Revue des deux Mondes," newspapers and his mail. Nekhludoff was about to open the letters, when a middle-aged woman, with a lace head-gear over her unevenly parted hair, glided into the room. This was Agrippina Petrovna, servant of his mother, who died in this very house. She was now stewardess to the son.
Agrippina Petrovna had traveled many years abroad with Nekhludoff's mother, and had acquired the manners of a lady. She had lived in the house of the Nekhludoffs since childhood, and knew Dmitri Ivanovitch when he was called by the diminutive Mitenka.
"Good-morning, Dmitri Ivanovitch."
"How do you do, Agrippina Petrovna? What's the news?" asked Nekhludoff, jesting.
"A letter from the old Princess, or the young one, perhaps. The maid brought it long ago, and is now waiting in my room," said Agrippina Petrovna, handing him the letter with a significant smile.
"Very well; I will attend to it immediately," said Nekhludoff, taking the letter and then, noticing the smile on Agrippina's face, he frowned.
The smile on Agrippina's face signified that the letter came from Princess Korchagin, whom, according to Agrippina Petrovna, he was to marry. And this supposition, expressed by her smile, displeased Nekhludoff.
"Then I will bid her wait," and Agrippina Petrovna glided out of the dining-room, first replacing the crumb-brush, which lay on the table, in its holder.
Nekhludoff opened the perfumed letter and began to read:
"In fulfillment of the duty I assumed of being your memory," the letter ran, "I call to your mind that you have been summoned to serve as juror to-day, the 28th of April, and that, therefore, you cannot accompany us and Kolosoff to the art exhibition, as you promised yesterday in your customary forgetfulness; a moins que vous ne soyez dispose a payer a la cour d'assises les 300 rubles d'amende que vous vous refusez pour votre cheval, for your failure to appear in time. I remembered it yesterday, when you had left. So keep it in mind.
"PRINCESS M. KORCHAGIN."
On the other side was a postscript:
"Maman vous fait dire que votre couvert vous attendra jusqu' a la nuit. Venez absolument a quelle heure que cela soit. M. K."
Nekhludoff knit his brows. The note was the continuation of a skillful strategem whereby the Princess sought, for the last two months, to fasten him with invisible bonds. But Nekhludoff, besides the usual irresoluteness before marriage of people of his age, and who are not passionately in love, had an important reason for withholding his offer of marriage for the time being. The reason was not that ten years before he had ruined and abandoned Katiousha, which incident he had entirely forgotten, but that at this very time he was sustaining relations with a married woman, and though he now considered them at an end, they were not so considered by her.
In the presence of women, Nekhludoff was very shy, but it was this very shyness that determined the married woman to conquer him. This woman was the wife of the commander of the district in which Nekhludoff was one of the electors. She led him into relations with her which held him fast, and at the same time grew more and more repulsive to him. At first Nekhludoff could not resist her wiles, then, feeling himself at fault, he could not break off the relations against her will. This was the reason why Nekhludoff considered that he had no right, even if he desired, to ask for the hand of Korchagin. A letter from the husband of that woman happened to lay on the table. Recognizing the handwriting and the stamp, Nekhludoff flushed and immediately felt an influx of that energy which he always experienced in the face of danger. But there was no cause for his agitation; the husband, as commander of the district where Nekhludoff's estates were situated, informed the latter of a special meeting of the local governing body, and asked him to be present without fail, and donner un coup d'epaule in the important measures to be submitted concerning the schools and roads, and that the reactionary party was expected to offer strong opposition.
The commander was a liberal-minded man, entirely absorbed with the struggles, and knew nothing about his wretched family life.
Nekhludoff recalled all the tortures this man had occasioned him; how on one occasion he thought that the husband had discovered all, and he was preparing to fight a duel with him, intending to use a blank cartridge, and the ensuing scene where she, in despair, ran to the pond, intending to drown herself, while he ran to search for her. "I cannot go now, and can undertake nothing until I have heard from her," thought Nekhludoff. The preceding week he had written to her a decisive letter, acknowledging his guilt, and expressing his readiness to redeem it in any manner she should suggest, but for her own good, considered their relations ended. It is to this letter that he expected a reply. He considered it a favorable sign that no reply came. If she had not consented to a separation, she would have answered long ago, or would have come personally, as she often did before. Nekhludoff had heard that an army officer was courting her, and while he was tormented by jealousy, he was at the same time gladdened by the hope of release from the oppressive lie.
The other letter was from the steward in charge of his estates. Nekhludoff was requested to return and establish his right to the inheritance and also to decide on the future management of the estates; whether the same system of letting out to the peasants, which prevailed during the lifetime of his mother, was to be continued, or, as the steward had strongly advised the deceased Princess, and now advised the young Prince, to augment the stock and work all the land himself. The steward wrote that the land could thus best be exploited. He also apologized for his failure to send the three thousand rubles due on the first of the month, which he would send by the next mail, explaining it by the difficulty of collecting the rents from the peasants whose bad faith had reached a point where it became necessary to resort to the courts to collect them. This letter was partly agreeable and partly disagreeable to Nekhludoff. It was agreeable to feel the power of authority over so vast an estate, and it was disagreeable, because in his youth he was an enthusiastic adherent of Herbert Spencer, and being himself a large land owner, was struck by the proposition in Social Statics that private ownership of land is contrary to the dictates of justice. With the frankness and boldness of youth, he not only then spoke of the injustice of private ownership of land; not only did he compose theses in the university on the subject, but he actually distributed among the peasants the few hundred acres of land left him by his father, not desiring to own land contrary to his convictions. Now that he found himself the owner of vast estates, he was confronted by two alternatives: either to waive his ownership in favor of the peasants, as he did ten years ago with the two hundred acres, or, by tacit acquiescence, confess that all his former ideas were erroneous and false.
He could not carry out the first, because he possessed no resources outside of the land. He did not wish to go into service, and yet he had luxurious habits of life which he thought he could not abandon. Indeed, there was no necessity of abandoning these habits, since he had lost the strength of conviction as well as the resolution, the vanity and the desire to astonish people that he had possessed in his youth. The other alternative—to reject all the arguments against private ownership of land which he gathered from Spencer's Social Statics, and of which he found confirmation in the works of Henry George—he could follow even less.
For this reason the steward's letter was disagreeable to him.
Having breakfasted, Nekhludoff went to the cabinet to see for what hour he was summoned to appear at court, and to answer the Princess' note. In the work-room stood an easel with a half-finished painting turned face downward, and on the wall hung studies in drawing. On seeing that painting, on which he had worked two years, and those drawings, he called to mind the feeling of impotence, which he experienced of late with greatest force, to make further advance in the art. He explained this feeling by the development of a fine aesthetic taste, and yet this consciousness caused him unpleasant sensations.
Seven years before he had retired from active service he decided that his true vocation in life was painting, and from the height of his artistic activity he looked down upon all other occupations. And now it appeared that he had no right to do so, and every recollection of it was disagreeable to him. He looked on all the luxurious appointments of the work-room with heavy heart, and walked into the cabinet in ill humor. The cabinet was a high room, profusely ornamented, and containing every imaginable device of comfort and necessity.
He produced from one of the drawers of a large table the summons, and, ascertaining that he must appear at eleven o'clock, he sat down and wrote to the Princess, thanking her for the invitation, and saying that he should try to call for dinner. The tone of the note seemed to him too intimate, and he tore it up; he wrote another, but that was too formal, almost offensive. Again he tore it up, and touched a button on the wall. A servant, morose, with flowing side-whiskers and in a gray apron, entered.
"Please send for a carriage."
"And tell the Korchagins' maid that I thank them; I will try to call."
"It is impolite, but I cannot write. But I will see her to-day," thought Nekhludoff, and started to dress himself.
When he emerged from the house a carriage with rubber tires awaited him.
"You had scarcely left Prince Korchagin's house yesterday when I called for you," said the driver, half-turning his stout, sun-burned neck in the white collar of his shirt, "and the footman said that you had just gone."
"Even the drivers know of my relations to the Korchagins," thought Nekhludoff, and the unsolved question which continually occupied his mind of late—whether or not he ought to marry Princess Korchagin—again occurred to him, and, like most questions that he was called upon to decide at that time, it remained unsolved.
He had many reasons for, and as many against, marriage. There was the pleasure of domestic life, which made it possible to lead a moral life, as he called married life; then, and principally, the family and children would infuse his present aimless life with a purpose. This was for marriage generally. On the other hand there was, first, the loss of freedom which all elderly bachelors fear so much; and, second, an unconscious awe of that mysterious creature, woman.
However, in favor of marrying Missy in particular (Korchagin's name was Maria, but, as usual in families of the higher classes, she received a nickname) there was, first, the fact that she came of good stock, and was in everything, from her dress to her manner of speaking, walking and laughing, distinguished not by any exceptional qualities, but by "good breeding"—he knew no other expression for the quality which he prized very highly. Second, she valued him above all other men, hence, he thought she understood him. And this appreciation of him, that is, acknowledging his high qualities, was proof to Nekhludoff of her intelligence and correct judgment. Finally, against marrying Missy in particular, was, first, the extreme probability of his finding a girl of much better qualities than Missy, and, consequently, more worthy of him; and, second, Missy was twenty-seven years old and had probably loved other men before him. This thought tormented him. His pride could not reconcile itself to the thought that she could love some one else, even in the past. Of course, she could not be expected to know that she would meet him, but the very thought that she could have loved some one else before offended him.
So that there were as many reasons for as there were against marriage in general and marrying Missy in particular. At all events the arguments were equally strong on both sides, and Nekhludoff laughed as he compared himself to the ass in the fable who, while deciding which of the two bales of hay before him he should have his meal from, starved himself.
"However, until I have heard from Maria Vasilieona, the wife of the commander, and have done with her for good, I can do nothing," he said to himself.
And the consciousness that he could and must defer his decision pleased him.
"Ah, but I will consider it all later," he said to himself, as his cabriolet silently approached the asphalt pavement of the court-house.
"And now I must do my duty to the community conscientiously, as I always do, and think it one's duty to do. Besides, it is often interesting," he said, and went past the door-keeper into the vestibule of the court.
There was great commotion in the corridors of the court when Nekhludoff entered.
The attendants flitted to and fro breathlessly, delivering orders and documents. Police captains, lawyers and clerks passed now one way, now the other; complainants and defendants under bail leaned sadly against the walls, or were sitting and waiting.
"Where is the Circuit Court?" asked Nekhludoff of one of the attendants.
"Which one? There is a civil division and a criminal one."
"I am a juror."
"Criminal division. You should have said so. This way, to the right, then turn to your left. The second door."
Nekhludoff went as directed.
At the door two men stood waiting. One was a tall, stout merchant, a good-natured man, who had evidently partaken of some liquor and was in very high spirits; the other was a clerk of Jewish extraction. They were talking about the price of wool when Nekhludoff approached them and asked if that was the jury's room.
"Here, sir, here. Are you also one of the jurymen?" mirthfully winking his eyes, the good-natured merchant asked.
"Well, we will drudge together, I suppose," he continued in response to Nekhludoff's affirmative answer. "My name is Baklashoff, merchant of the second guild," he introduced himself, extending his soft, broad hand; "we must do our duty. Whom have I the honor of addressing?"
Nekhludoff gave his name and passed into the jury-room.
In the small jury-room there were about ten men of every description. They had just arrived; some were sitting, others walked about, eyeing, and making each other's acquaintance. One was a retired officer in uniform; others were in short coats, and but one in peasant garb.
Notwithstanding that they were all complaining that the jury duty was burdensome, and was taking them away from their business, they all seemed to be pleased with the consciousness of performing an important civic duty.
The jurymen talked among themselves of the weather, of the premature spring, of the business before them. Those who were not acquainted with Nekhludoff hastened to become so, evidently considering it an honor. And Nekhludoff, as was usual with him among strangers, received it as his due. If he were asked why he considered himself above the majority of people he would not be able to answer, as there was nothing in his life transcending the commonplace. The fact that he spoke English, French and German fluently; that his linen, clothing, scarf and cuff-buttons were of superior make would not be sufficient reason for assuming his superiority, as he himself well understood. And yet he doubtless acknowledged in himself this superiority, and regarded the respect shown him as his due, and was offended when it was not forthcoming. It just happened that in the jury-room Nekhludoff experienced this disagreeable feeling of being treated with disrespect. Among the jurymen there was an acquaintance of Nekhludoff. This was Peter Gerasimovitch (Nekhludoff never knew, and even boasted of the fact that he did not know his surname), who was at one time tutor to his sister's children. Peter Gerasimovitch was now teacher in a college. Nekhludoff could never bear his familiarity, his self-satisfied laughter—in a word, his "communizing," as Nekhludoff's sister used to put it.
"Ha, ha! So you are also trapped?" he greeted Nekhludoff with a loud burst of laughter. "You did not escape it?"
"I never intended to evade my duty," sternly and gloomily said Nekhludoff.
"That I call civic virtue. But wait till you are hungry and sleepy, you will sing another tune," Peter Gerasimovitch said, laughing still louder.
"This son of an archdeacon will soon begin to 'thou' me," thought Nekhludoff, with an expression of sadness on his face, as though he had just learned of a grievous loss in his family. He turned from the ex-tutor and approached a group of people that had formed around a clean-faced, tall man, of dignified carriage, who were holding a spirited conversation. The man was speaking of a case that was being tried in the civil division, showing his familiarity with the judges and the famous lawyers by referring to them by name. He was telling them of the remarkable turn given to the probable result of the case by the dexterity of a famous lawyer, by which an old lady, who was in the right, would be obliged to pay an enormous sum to the adverse side.
"He is a most ingenious attorney," he said.
He was listened to with respect, and some attempted to interrupt him with some remarks, but he cut them short as if he alone knew the true facts.
Although Nekhludoff arrived late, there was a long wait before him, which was caused by the failure of one of the judges to appear.
The presiding justice arrived early. He was a tall, stout man, with long, grayish side-whiskers. He was married, but, like his wife, led a very dissolute life. They did not interfere with each other. On the morning in question he received a note from a Swiss governess, who had lived in his house during the summer, and was now passing on her way from the South to St. Petersburg. She wrote that she would be in town between three and six o'clock p.m., and wait for him at the "Hotel Italia." He was, therefore, anxious to end his day's sitting before six o'clock, that he might meet the red-haired Clara Vasilievna.
Entering his private chamber, and locking the door behind him, he produced from the lower shelf of a book-case two dumb-bells, made twenty motions upward, forward, sidewise and downward, and three times lowered himself, holding the bells above his head.
"Nothing so refreshes one as a cold-water bath and exercise," he thought, feeling with his left hand, on the fourth finger of which was a gold ring, the biceps of his right arm. He had to go through two more movements (these exercises he went through every day before court opened), when the door rattled. Some one was attempting to open it. The judge quickly replaced the dumb-bells and opened the door.
"I beg your pardon," he said.
One of the members of the court, wearing gold eye-glasses, of medium height, with high shoulders and frowning countenance, entered.
"Matvei Nikitich is late again," said the newcomer, with an air of displeasure.
"Yes," said the presiding judge, donning his robes. "He is always late."
"It is a shame," said the member, and sat down angrily, then lighted a cigarette.
This member of the court, a very punctilious man, had this morning had an unpleasant encounter with his wife, which was caused by her spending her monthly allowance before the month was up. She asked for a sum of money in advance, and he refused. The result was a quarrel. She said that unless he gave her the money there would be no dinner that night, and that he would have to dine outside. He departed in fear that she would carry out her threat, as anything might be expected from her.
"Is it worth while leading a good, moral life?" he thought, as he looked at the beaming, healthy, joyful and good-natured presiding justice, who, spreading his elbows, stroked his long, gray whiskers; "he is always contented and cheerful, while I am suffering."
The secretary entered and handed the presiding justice a document.
"Thank you," he said, and lighted a cigarette. "Which case shall be taken up first?"
"The poison case, I think," the secretary answered, with feigned indifference.
"Very well; so let it be the poison case," said the justice, considering that that case could be disposed of by four o'clock and make it possible for him to keep the appointment. "Has Matvei Nikitich arrived?"
"Is Breae here?"
"Yes," answered the secretary.
"Then tell him that we shall try the poisoning case."
Breae was an assistant prosecuting attorney and was assigned to this term of the court.
The secretary met Breae in the corridor. With uplifted shoulders, his robe unbuttoned, and portfolio under his arm, he almost ran, his heels clattering on the floor, and his disengaged hand outstretched in the direction in which he was going.
"Michael Petrovich desires to know if you are ready," said the secretary.
"Certainly; I am always ready," said the assistant prosecutor; "which is the first case?"
"The poisoning case."
"Very well," said the assistant prosecutor, but he did not consider it well at all—he had not slept all night. A send-off had been given to a departing friend, and he drank and played till two in the morning, so that he was entirely unfamiliar with this case, and now hastened to glance over the indictment. The secretary had purposely suggested the case, knowing that the prosecutor had not read it. The secretary was a man of liberal, even radical, ideas. Breae was conservative, and the secretary disliked him, and envied his position.
"And what about the Skoptzy?"[A]
"I have already said that I cannot prosecute them in the absence of witnesses," said the assistant prosecutor, "and I will so declare to the court."
"But you don't need——"
"I cannot," said the assistant prosecutor, and waving his hand, ran to his office.
He was postponing the case against the Skoptzy, although the absent witness was an entirely unnecessary one. The real reason of the postponement was that the prosecutor feared that their trial before an intelligent jury might end in their acquittal. By an understanding with the presiding justice their case was to be transferred to the session of the District Court, where the preponderance of peasants on the jury would insure their conviction.
The commotion in the corridor increased. The greatest crowd was before the Civil Court, where the case of which the portly gentleman was telling the jurymen was being tried. During a recess the same old lady from whom the ingenious attorney managed to win her property in favor of his shrewd client, came out of the court-room. That he was not entitled to the property was known to the judges as well as to the claimant and his attorney, but the mode of their procedure was such that it was impossible to dismiss their claim. The old lady was stout, in smart attire, and with large flowers on her hat. As she passed into the corridor she stopped, and turning to her lawyer, kept repeating:
"How can it be? Great heavens! I don't understand it!"
The lawyer did not listen to her, but looked at the flowers on her hat, making mental calculations.
Behind the old lady, beaming in his wide-open vest, and with a self-sufficient smile on his face, came that same famous lawyer who so managed the case that the lady with the large flowers lost all her property, while his shrewd client, who paid him ten thousand rubles, received over a hundred thousand. All eyes were directed toward him. He was conscious of it and seemed to say by his demeanor:
"Never mind your expressions of devotion," and brushed past the crowd.
[Footnote A: A sect of eunuchs.]
Finally Matvei Nikitich arrived, and the usher, a long-necked and lean man, with a sideling gait and protruding lower lip, entered the jury-room.
The usher was an honest man, with a university education, but he could not hold any employment on account of his tippling habit. A countess, his wife's patroness, had obtained him his present position three months ago; he still retained it, and was exceedingly glad.
"Are you all here, gentlemen?" he asked, putting on his pince-nez and looking through it.
"I think so," said the cheerful merchant.
"Let us see," said the usher, and drawing a sheet of paper from his pocket, began to call the names of the jury, looking at those that responded to their names now through his pince-nez, now over it.
"Counsilor of State E. M. Nikiforoff."
"Here," said the portly gentleman, who was familiar with all the litigations.
"Retired Colonel Ivan Semionovich Ivanoff."
"Present," answered a lank man in the uniform of a retired officer.
"Merchant of the second guild, Peter Baklashoff."
"Here," said the good-natured merchant, smiling from ear to ear. "We are ready."
"Lieutenant of the Guards, Prince Dmitri Nekhludoff."
"Here," answered Nekhludoff.
The usher, looking politely and pleasantly through his pince-nez, bowed, thereby distinguishing him from the rest, as it were.
"Captain Uri Dmitrievich Danchenko; merchant Gregory Ephimovich Kouleshoff," etc., etc., etc.
There were but two missing from the panel.
"You will now, gentlemen, walk into the court," said the usher, pointing to the door with a polite sweep of the hand.
They all rose from their seats, and passing each other through the door, made their way through the corridor to the court-room.
The court was held in a large, oblong room. At one end was a platform, reached by three steps. In the middle of the platform stood a table, covered with green cloth, which was fringed with a dark-green lace. Behind the table stood three arm-chairs with high, carved backs. In an image-case suspended in the right corner was a representation of Christ with a crown of thorns, and beneath it a reading-desk, and on the same side stood the prosecutor's desk. To the left, opposite this desk, was the secretary's table, and dividing these from the seats reserved for spectators was a carved railing, along which stood the prisoners' bench, as yet unoccupied.
On an elevation to the right were two rows of chairs, also with high backs, reserved for the jury; below these were tables for the attorneys. All this was in the front part of the court-room, which was divided in two by a railing. In the rear part of the room benches in lines extended to the wall. In the front row sat four women, either servants or factory employees, and two men, also workmen, who were evidently awed by the grandeur of the ornamentations, and were timidly whispering to each other.
Soon after the jurymen came the usher, who, walking sidewise to the middle of the room, shouted, as if he meant to frighten those present:
"The court is coming!"
Everybody stood up, and the judges ascended the platform. First came the presiding judge with his muscles and beautiful whiskers. Then came the gold-spectacled, gloomy member of the court—now even more gloomy, for before the opening of the session he met his brother-in-law, a candidate for a judicial office, who told him that he had seen his sister, and that she declared that there would be no dinner at home this day.
"So that, it seems, we will have to dine at an inn," said the brother-in-law, laughing.
"What is there droll about it?" said the gloomy member of the court, and sank into a still deeper gloom.
And last of all came the third member of the court, that same Matvei Nikitich, who was always late. He wore a long beard, and had large, kindly eyes, with drooping eyelids. He suffered from catarrh of the stomach, and by the advice of his physician had adopted a new regimen, and this new regimen detained him this morning longer than usual. When he ascended the platform he seemed to be wrapped in thought, but only because he had the habit of making riddles of every question that occurred to him. At this moment he was occupied with the following enigmatical proposition:
If the number of steps in the distance between the cabinet-door and the arm-chair will divide by three without a remainder, then the new regimen will cure him; but if it does not so divide, then it will not. There were twenty-six steps, but he made one short step and reached the chair with the twenty-seventh.
As the judges ascended the elevation in their uniforms, with gold-laced collars, they presented an imposing array. They themselves felt it, and all three, as if confused by their own greatness, modestly lowered their eyes, and hastily seated themselves behind the table on which clean paper and freshly-pointed lead pencils of all sizes had been placed. The prosecutor, who entered with the judges, also hastily walked to his place near the window, his portfolio still under his arm, and waving his hand he began to read the papers in the case, utilizing every moment to prepare himself.
This was his fifth case as prosecuting attorney. He was ambitious, and was determined to make his career, and hence he endeavored to obtain a conviction in every case he prosecuted. He knew the main points of the poisoning case, and had already planned his speech; but he needed to know some particulars of which he was now making extracts from the papers.
The secretary sat on the opposite side of the elevation, and, having prepared all the papers that might be necessary to produce on trial, was glancing over a newspaper article, which he had obtained and read the day before. He was anxious to talk to the member of the court with the long beard, who shared his views, and before doing so wished to better familiarize himself with it.
The presiding justice looked over the papers, asked some questions of the usher, and receiving affirmative answers, ordered that the prisoners be brought into court. Immediately a door beyond the grating opened, and two gendarmes with unsheathed swords and caps on their heads, stepped into the court-room. Behind them came a freckled, red-haired man and two women. The man was dressed in prisoner's garb which was too long and too wide for him. As he entered the court-room he held up with outspread fingers the sleeves which were too long. Without looking at the judges or the spectators, his attention was absorbed by the bench around which he was led. When he had passed around he carefully seated himself on the edge, and making room for the others, began to stare at the presiding justice, the muscles of his cheeks moving as if he were whispering something. He was followed by a middle-aged woman, also dressed in a prisoner's coat. A white prison cap covered her head; her face was grayish, and her eyes were devoid of either eye-lashes or eyebrows. She seemed quite composed. As she was passing the railing to take her seat, her coat caught at something; without haste, she carefully disengaged it, then smoothed it and took her seat.
The third prisoner was Maslova.
No sooner did she enter than all the male spectators turned their eyes toward her, attracted by her white face, lustrous black eyes and high breast. Even the gendarme whom she passed gazed at her until she seated herself; then, as if feeling himself guilty, he quickly turned his head from her and straightening himself, he began to gaze into the window directly in front of him.
The presiding justice waited until all the prisoners took their places, and as soon as Maslova was seated, he turned to the secretary.
Then commenced the customary proceeding; calling of the jurymen, fining the absent ones, listening to the claims of exemption from jury duty and filling the panel from a number of reserves. Then the presiding justice folded the slips of paper, placed them in a glass vase, and turning up his gold-laced sleeve drew the slips one by one, unrolled them and read them aloud. Then he straightened his sleeve and called on the priest to swear in the jury.
An old little priest with a swollen, pale yellow face, in a brown cassock and gold cross on his breast and some small badges pinned to the cassock, slowly moving his swollen feet under the cassock, approached the reading desk under the image.
The jury rose and, crowding each other, came forward.
"Come nearer, please," said the priest, touching with his swollen hand the cross on his breast, and waiting until all the jury were near him.
While the jury were mounting the steps to the elevation where the desk stood, the priest wriggled his bald, hoary head through the opening of the stole, then rearranging his scanty hair, he turned to the jury:
"Raise your right hands and keep your fingers thus," he said, in a slow, feeble voice, raising his bloated hand and pointing at his forehead with the first three of its dimpled fingers. "Now repeat after me: 'I promise and swear by the Almighty God, His Holy Gospel, and by the life-giving cross of our Lord, that in the case'"—he continued, resting after each phrase. "Don't drop your hand; hold it thus," he turned to a young man who let his hand fall—"'that in the case which——'"
The portly, whiskered gentleman, the colonel, merchant and others held their hands as directed by the priest, and seemed to do so with particular pleasure, holding their hands quite high, and their fingers most proper; others seemed to do it against their will, and carelessly. Some repeated the words too loudly, in a provoking manner, with an expression on the face which seemed to say: "I will repeat as I please;" others whispered, fell behind the priest and then, as if frightened, hastened to catch up with him. Some held their fingers tightly closed, as if challenging anyone to part them; others, again, loosened them, now closed them again. After the jury was sworn, the presiding justice directed them to choose a foreman. They arose and, crowding each other, went into the consultation room, where almost every one produced cigarettes and began to smoke. Some one proposed the portly gentleman, who was immediately chosen, then they threw away their cigarettes and returned to the court. The gentleman declared to the presiding justice that he was chosen foreman, and stepping over the feet of each other, the jury again seated themselves in the two rows of high-backed chairs.
Everything proceeded smoothly, quickly and not without solemnity, and the regularity, order and solemnity evidently pleased the participants, confirming their sense of rendering important public service. Nekhludoff also experienced this feeling.
As soon as the jury seated themselves the presiding justice instructed them in their rights, duties and responsibilities. While speaking, he was constantly changing his attitude; now he leaned on his right hand, now on his left; then he reclined in his chair, or rested his hands on the arms of the chair, smoothed the corners of the paper on the table, polished the paper-knife or clutched the lead pencil.
Their rights, according to him, consisted in that they were allowed to question prisoners, through the presiding justice; they might keep pencils and paper, and might also view exhibits. Their duties consisted in not giving a false verdict. And their responsibilities consisted in that if they failed to keep secret their deliberations, or spoke to outsiders, they would be liable to punishment.
They all listened with respectful attention. The merchant, from whom the fumes of wine spread through the jury box, and who was suppressing the noisy rising of gases in his stomach, approvingly nodded at every sentence.
After he had finished the instructions, the presiding justice turned to the prisoners.
"Simon Kartinkin, rise!" he said.
Simon sprang up nervously. The muscles of his cheeks began to twitch still quicker.
"What is your name?"
"Simon Petroff Kartinkin," he said quickly, in a sharp voice, evidently prepared for the question.
"What government, district?"
"Government of Tula, district of Krapivensk, Kupian township, village of Borki."
"How old are you?"
"Thirty-four; born in eighteen hundred——"
"Of the Russian orthodox faith."
"Are you married?"
"What is your occupation?"
"I was employed in the Hotel Mauritania."
"Were you ever arrested before?"
"I was never arrested before, because where I lived——"
"You were not arrested?"
"God forbid! Never!"
"Have you received a copy of the indictment?"
"Sit down. Euphemia Ivanovna Bochkova!" The presiding justice turned to the next prisoner.
But Simon remained standing in front of Bochkova.
"Kartinkin, sit down!"
Kartinkin still remained standing.
"Kartinkin, sit down!"
But Kartinkin stood still until the usher, his head leaning to the side, and with wide-open eyes, whispered to him in a tragic tone:
"Sit down, sit down!"
Kartinkin sat down as quickly as he rose, and wrapping himself in his coat began to move his cheeks.
"Your name?" With a sigh of weariness the presiding justice turned to the next prisoner without looking at her, and consulted a paper before him. He was so accustomed to the business that to expedite matters he could try two cases at once.
Bochkova was forty-two years old, a burgess of the town of Koloma; by occupation a servant—in the same Hotel Mauritania. Was never arrested before, and had received a copy of the indictment. She gave the answers very boldly and with an intonation which seemed to add to every answer.
"Yes, Bochkova, Euphemia, have received a copy, and am proud of it, and will permit no one to laugh at me."
Without waiting to be told to sit down, Bochkova sat down immediately after the questioning ceased.
"Your name?" asked the presiding justice of the third prisoner. "You must rise," he added, gently and courteously, seeing Maslova still in her seat.
With quick movement Maslova rose with an air of submissiveness, and throwing back her shoulders, looked into the face of the presiding justice with her smiling, somewhat squinting black eyes.
"What are you called?"
"They used to call me Lubka," she answered, rapidly.
Meanwhile Nekhludoff put on his pince-nez and examined the prisoners while they were questioned.
"It is impossible," he thought, looking intently at the prisoner. "But her name is Lubka," he thought, as he heard her answer.
The presiding justice was about to continue his interrogation when the member with the eye-glasses, angrily whispering something, stopped him. The presiding justice nodded his assent and turned to the prisoner.
"You say 'Lubka,' but a different name is entered here."
The prisoner was silent.
"I ask you what is your real name?"
"What name did you receive at baptism?" asked the angry member.
"Formerly I was called Katherine."
"It is impossible," Nekhludoff continued to repeat, although there was no doubt in his mind now that it was she, that same servant ward with whom he had been in love at one time—yes, in love, real love, and whom in a moment of mental fever he led astray, then abandoned, and to whom he never gave a second thought, because the recollection of it was too painful, revealed too manifestly that he, who prided himself of his good breeding, not only did not treat her decently, but basely deceived her.
Yes, it was she. He saw plainly the mysterious peculiarity that distinguishes every individual from every other individual. Notwithstanding the unnatural whiteness and fullness of her face, this pleasant peculiarity was in the face, in the lips, in the slightly squinting eyes, and, principally, in the naive, smiling glance, and in the expression of submissiveness not only in the face, but in the whole figure.
"You should have said so," again very gently said the presiding justice. "What is your patronymic?"
"I am illegitimate," said Maslova.
"But yet you were named after your godfather?"
"What crime could she have committed?" Nekhludoff thought meanwhile, his breath almost failing him.
"What is your surname—your family name?" continued the presiding justice.
"Maslova—after my mother."
"Of the orthodox faith?"
"Your occupation? What was your occupation?"
Maslova was silent.
"What was your occupation?" repeated the justiciary.
"You know!" said Maslova. She smiled and quickly glanced around, then looked squarely at the justiciary.
There was something so unusual in the expression of her face—something so terrible and piteous in the meaning of her words, in that smile, that quick glance which she cast over the court-room—that the justiciary hung his head, and for a moment there was perfect silence.
A burst of laughter from some spectator interrupted the silence. Some one hissed. The justiciary raised his head and continued the interrogation.
"Were you ever arrested?"
"No." Maslova said in an undertone, sighing.
"Have you received a copy of the indictment?"
The prisoner raised her skirt with the customary movement of a fashionable lady, arranging her train, and sat down, folding her hands in the sleeves of her coat, and still looking at the justiciary.
Then began the recounting of witnesses, their removal to a separate room, the decision on the evidence of the medical expert. Then the secretary arose and began to read the indictment, loud and with distinctness, but so rapidly that his incorrect sounding of the letters l and r turned his reading into one continuous, weary drone. The judges leaned now on one side, now on the other side of their arm-chairs, then on the table, and again on the backs of the chairs, or closed their eyes, or opened them and whispered to each other. One of the gendarmes several times stifled a yawn.
The convulsions of Kartinkin's cheeks did not cease. Bochkova sat quietly and erect, now and then scratching with her finger under her cap.
Maslova sat motionless, listening to the reading, and looking at the clerk; at times she shuddered and made a movement as if desiring to object, blushed, then sighed deeply, changed the position of her hands, glanced around and again looked at the clerk.
Nekhludoff sat on the high-backed chair in the front row, second to the aisle, and without removing his pince-nez looked at Maslova, while his soul was being racked by a fierce and complicated struggle.
The indictment read as follows:
"On the 17th of January, 18—, suddenly died in the Hotel Mauritania, merchant of the second guild, Therapont Emelianovich Smelkoff.
"The local police physician certified that the cause of death of said Smelkoff was rupture of the heart, caused by excessive use of liquor.
"The body of Smelkoff was interred.
"On the 21st day of January, a townsman and comrade of Smelkoff, on returning from St. Petersburg, and hearing of the circumstances of his death, declared his suspicion that Smelkoff was poisoned with a view of robbing him of the money he carried about his person.
"This suspicion was confirmed at the preliminary inquest, by which it was established: 1. That Smelkoff had drawn from the bank, some time before his death, three thousand eight hundred rubles; that, after a due and careful inventory of the money of the deceased, only three hundred and twelve rubles and sixteen kopecks were found. 2. That the entire day and evening preceding his death deceased passed in the company of a girl named Lubka (Katherine Maslova) in the Hotel Mauritania, whither said Maslova came at the request of Smelkoff for money; that she obtained the money from Smelkoff's trunk, first unlocking it with a key intrusted to her by Smelkoff; that the money was thus taken in the presence of two servants of the said hotel—Euphemia Bochkova and Simon Kartinkin; that at the opening of said trunk by the said Maslova in the presence of the aforementioned Bochkova and Kartinkin, there were rolls of hundred ruble bills. 3. That on the return of said Smelkoff and Maslova to the said hotel, the said Maslova, on the advice of the said servant Kartinkin, administered to the deceased a glass of brandy, in which she put a white powder given her by said Kartinkin. 4. That on the following morning Lubka (Katherine Maslova) sold to her mistress, Rosanova, a diamond ring belonging to Smelkoff, said ring she alleged to have been presented to her by said Smelkoff. 5. That the servant of said Hotel Mauritania, Euphemia Bochkova, deposited in her name in the local Bank of Commerce the sum of eighteen hundred rubles.
"At the autopsy held on the body of Smelkoff, and after the removal of the intestines, the presence of poison was readily discovered, leaving no doubt that death was caused by poisoning.
"The prisoners, Maslova, Bochkova and Kartinkin pleaded not guilty. Maslova declared that she did go to the Hotel Mauritania, as stated, for the purpose of fetching some money for the merchant, and that opening the trunk with the key given to her by the merchant, she took only forty rubles, as she was directed, but took no more, which fact can be substantiated by Bochkova and Kartinkin, in whose presence she took the money and locked the trunk. She further testified that during her second visit to the room of the merchant she gave him, at the instigation of Kartinkin, several powders in a glass of brandy, which she considered to be narcotic, in order that she might get away from him. The ring was presented to her by Smelkoff when she cried and was about to leave him after he had beaten her.
"Euphemia Bochkova testified that she knew nothing about the missing money, never entered the merchant's room, which Lubka herself kept in order, and that if anything was stolen from the merchant, it was done by Lubka when she came to the room for the money."
At this point Maslova shuddered, and with open mouth looked at Bochkova.
"And when Euphemia Bochkova was shown her bank account of eighteen hundred rubles," continued the secretary, "and asked how she came by the money, she testified that the money was saved from their earnings by herself and Simon Kartinkin, whom she intended to marry.
"Simon Kartinkin, on his part, at the first examination, confessed that, at the instigation of Maslova, who brought the key to the trunk, he and Bochkova stole the money, which was afterwards divided between the three."
At this Maslova shuddered again, sprang to her feet, turned red in the face, and began to say something, but the usher bade her be quiet.
"Finally," continued the secretary, "Kartinkin also confessed to giving Maslova the powders to put the merchant to sleep. On the second examination, however, he denied having either stolen the money, or given Maslova the powders, but charged Maslova with both. As to the money placed by Bochkova in the bank, he declared, in accordance with Bochkova's testimony, that they had saved it during their twelve years' service in the hotel."
The indictment wound up as follows:
"In view of the aforesaid the defendants, Simon Kartinkin, peasant of the village of Borkoff, thirty-three years of age; burgess Euphemia Ivanova Bochkova, forty-two years of age, and burgess Katherine Maslova, twenty-seven years of age, conspired on the 17th day of January, 188-, to administer poison to merchant Smelkoff with intent to kill and rob him, and did on said day administer to said Smelkoff poison, from which poison the said Smelkoff died, and did thereafter rob him of a diamond ring and twenty-five hundred rubles, contrary to the laws in such cases made and provided. Chapter 1453, sections 4 and 5, Penal Code.
"Wherefore, in accordance with chapter 201 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the said peasant, Simon Kartinkin, burgess Euphemia Bochkova and burgess Katherine Maslova are subject to trial by jury, the case being within the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court."
The clerk having finished the reading of the long indictment, folded the papers, seated himself at his desk and began to arrange his long hair. Every one present gave a sigh of relief, and with the consciousness that the trial had already begun, everything would be cleared up and justice would finally be done, leaned back on their chairs.
Nekhludoff alone did not experience this feeling. He was absorbed in the horrible thought that the same Maslova, whom he knew as an innocent and beautiful girl ten years ago, could be guilty of such a crime.
When the reading of the indictment was finished, the justiciary, having consulted with his associates, turned to Kartinkin with an expression on his face which plainly betokened confidence in his ability to bring forth all the truth.
"Simon Kartinkin," he called, leaning to the left.
Simon Kartinkin rose, put out his chest, incessantly moving his cheeks.
"You are charged, together with Euphemia Bochkova and Katherine Maslova, with stealing from the trunk of the merchant Smelkoff money belonging to him, and subsequently brought arsenic and induced Maslova to administer it to Smelkoff, by reason of which he came to his death. Are you guilty or not guilty?" he said, leaning to the right.
"It is impossible, because our business is to attend the guests——"
"You will speak afterwards. Are you guilty or not?"
"No, indeed. I only——"
"You can speak later. Do you admit that you are guilty?" calmly but firmly repeated the justiciary.
"I cannot do it because——"
Again the usher sprang toward Simon and with a tragic whisper stopped him.
The justiciary, with an expression showing that the questioning was at an end, moved the hand in which he held a document to another place, and turned to Euphemia Bochkova.
"Euphemia Bochkova, you, with Kartinkin and Maslova, are charged with stealing, on the 17th day of January, 188-, at the Hotel Mauritania, from the trunk of the merchant Smelkoff, money and a ring, and dividing the same among yourselves, and with a view of hiding your crime, administered poison to him, from the effects of which he died. Are you guilty?"
"I am not guilty of anything," boldly and firmly answered the prisoner. "I never entered the room—and as that scurvy woman did go into the room, she, then, did the business——"
"You will speak afterwards," again said the justiciary, with the same gentleness and firmness. "So you are not guilty?"
"I did not take the money, did not give him the poison, did not go into the room. If I were in the room I should have thrown her out."
"You are not guilty, then?"
"Katherine Maslova," began the justiciary, turning to the third prisoner. "The charge against you is that, having come to the Hotel Mauritania with the key to Smelkoff's trunk, you stole therefrom money and a ring," he said, like one repeating a lesson learned by rote, and leaning his ear to the associate sitting on his left, who said that he noticed that the phial mentioned in the list of exhibits was missing. "Stole therefrom money and a ring," repeated the justiciary, "and after dividing the money again returned with the merchant Smelkoff to the Hotel Mauritania, and there administered to him poison, from the effects of which he died. Are you guilty or not guilty?"
"I am not guilty of anything," she answered, quickly. "As I said before, so I repeat now: I never, never, never took the money; I did not take anything, and the ring he gave me himself."
"You do not plead guilty of stealing twenty-five hundred rubles?" said the justiciary.
"I say I didn't take anything but forty rubles."
"And do you plead guilty to the charge of giving the merchant Smelkoff powders in his wine?"
"To that I plead guilty. Only I thought, as I was told, that they would put him to sleep, and that no harm could come from them. I did not wish, nor thought of doing him any harm. Before God, I say that I did not," she said.
"So you deny that you are guilty of stealing the money and ring from the merchant Smelkoff," said the justiciary, "but you admit that you gave him the powders?"
"Of course, I admit, only I thought that they were sleeping powders. I only gave them to him that he might fall asleep—never wished, nor thought——"
"Very well," said the justiciary, evidently satisfied with the results of the examinations. "Now tell us how it happened," he said, leaning his elbows on the arms of the chair and putting his hands on the table. "Tell us everything. By confessing frankly you will improve your present condition."
Maslova, still looking straight at the justiciary, was silent.
"Tell us what took place."
"What took place?" suddenly said Maslova. "I came to the hotel; I was taken to the room; he was there, and was already very drunk." (She pronounced the word "he" with a peculiar expression of horror and with wide-open eyes.) "I wished to depart; he would not let me."
She became silent, as if she had lost the thread of the story, or thought of something else.
"What then? Then I remained there awhile and went home."
At this point the assistant public prosecutor half rose from his seat, uncomfortably resting on one elbow.
"Do you wish to question the prisoner?" asked the justiciary, and receiving an affirmative answer, motioned his assent.
"I would like to put this question: Has the prisoner been acquainted with Simon Kartinkin before?" asked the assistant prosecutor without looking at Maslova.
And having asked the question he pressed his lips and frowned.
The justiciary repeated the question. Maslova looked with frightened eyes at the prosecutor.
"With Simon? I was," she said.
"I would like to know now, what was the character of the acquaintance that existed between them. Have they met often?"
"What acquaintance? He invited me to meet guests; there was no acquaintance," answered Maslova, throwing restless glances now at the prosecutor, now at the justiciary.
"I would like to know why did Kartinkin invite Maslova only, and not other girls?" asked the prosecutor, with a Mephistophelian smile, winking his eyes.
"I don't know. How can I tell?" answered Maslova, glancing around her, frightened, and for a moment resting her eyes on Nekhludoff. "He invited whomever he wished."
"Is it possible that she recognized me?" Nekhludoff thought, with horror. He felt his blood rising to his head, but Maslova did not recognize him. She turned away immediately, and with frightened eyes gazed at the prosecutor.
"Then the prisoner denies that she had intimate relations with Kartinkin? Very well. I have no more questions to ask."
He removed his elbow from the desk, and began to make notes. In reality, instead of making notes, he merely drew lines across his notes, having seen prosecutors and attorneys, after an adroit question, making memoranda of questions which were to crush their opponents.
The justiciary did not turn immediately to the prisoner, because he was at the moment asking his associate in the eye-glasses whether he consented to the questions previously outlined and committed to writing.
"What followed?" the justiciary continued.
"I came home," Maslova continued, looking somewhat bolder, "and went to sleep. As soon as I was asleep our girl, Bertha, came and woke me. 'Your merchant is here again. Wake up.' Then he"—again she pronounced it with evident horror—"he wished to send for wine, but was short of money. Then he sent me to the hotel, telling me where the money was and how much to take, and I went."
The justiciary was whispering at the time to his associate on the left, and did not listen to Maslova, but to make it appear that he had heard everything he repeated her last words.
"And you went. Well, what else?" he asked.
"I came there and did as he told me. I went to his room. I did not enter it alone, but called Simon Michaelovich and her," she said, pointing to Bochkova.
"She lies; I never entered——" Bochkova began, but she was stopped.
"In their presence I took four ten ruble bills," she continued.
"And while taking this money, did the prisoner see how much money there was?" asked the prosecutor.
Maslova shuddered as soon as the prosecutor began to speak. She could not tell why, but she felt that he was her enemy.
"I did not count it, but I saw that it was all hundred ruble bills."
"The prisoner saw hundred ruble bills. I have no other questions."
"Well, did you bring back the money?" asked the justiciary, looking at the clock.
"Well, what then?"
"Then he again took me with him," said Maslova.
"And how did you give him the powder in the wine?" asked the justiciary.
"How? Poured it into the wine and gave it to him."
"Why did you give it to him?"
Without answering, she sighed deeply. After a short silence she said:
"He would not let me go. He exhausted me. I went into the corridor and said to Simon Michaelovich: 'If he would only let me go; I am so tired.' And Simon Michaelovich said: 'We are also tired of him. We intend to give him sleeping powders. When he is asleep you can go.' 'All right,' I said. I thought that it was a harmless powder. He gave me a package. I entered. He lay behind the partition, and ordered me to bring him some brandy. I took from the table a bottle of feen-champagne, poured into two glasses—for myself and him—threw the powder into his glass and handed it to him. I would not have given it to him if I had known it."
"And how did you come by the ring?" asked the justiciary.
"He presented it to me."
"When did he present it to you?"
"When we reached his room. I wished to depart. Then he struck me on the head and broke my comb. I was angered, and wished to go. Then he took the ring from his finger and gave it to me, asking me to stay," she said.
Here the assistant prosecutor again rose, and with a dissimulating naiveness asked permission to ask a few more questions, which was granted, and leaning his head on his gold-embroidered collar, he asked:
"I would like to know how long was the prisoner in the room with Smelkoff?"
Maslova was again terror-stricken, and with her frightened eyes wandering from the prosecutor to the justiciary, she answered, hurriedly:
"I do not remember how long."
"And does the prisoner remember entering another part of the hotel after she had left Smelkoff?"
Maslova was thinking.
"Into the next room—an empty one," she said.
"Why did you enter that room?" said the assistant prosecutor, impulsively.
"To wait for a cabriolet."
"Was not Kartinkin in the room with the prisoner?"
"He also came in."
"Why did he come in?"
"There was the merchant's feen-champagne left, and we drank it together."
"Oh, drank together. Very well."
"And did the prisoner have any conversation with Simon, and what was the subject of the conversation?"
Maslova suddenly frowned, her face turned red, and she quickly answered:
"What I said? I know nothing more. Do what you please with me. I am innocent, and that is all. I did not say anything. I told everything that happened."
"I have no more questions to ask," said the prosecutor to the court, and uplifting his shoulders he began to add to the memorandums of his speech that the prisoner herself confessed to entering an empty room with Simon.
There was a short silence.
"Have you anything else to say?"
"I have told everything," she said, sighing, and took her seat.
The justiciary then made some notes, and after he had listened to a suggestion whispered by the associate on the left, declared a recess of ten minutes, and, hastily rising, walked out of the court-room.
After the judges had risen, the jury, lawyers and witness also rose, and with the pleasant feeling of having already performed part of an important work, began to move hither and thither.
Nekhludoff walked into the jury-room and took a seat near the window.
Yes, it was Katiousha.
The relations of Nekhludoff to Katiousha were the following:
Nekhludoff first met Katiousha when he went to stay one summer out at the estate of his aunts in order that he might quietly prepare his thesis on the private ownership of land. Ordinarily he lived on the estate of his mother, near Moskow, with his mother and sister. But that year his sister married, and his mother went abroad. Nekhludoff had to write a composition in the course of his university studies, and decided to pass the summer at his aunts'. There in the woods it was quiet, and there was nothing to distract him from his studies. Besides, the aunts loved their nephew and heir, and he loved them, loved their old-fashioned way of living.
During that summer Nekhludoff experienced that exaltation which youth comes to know not by the teaching of others, but when it naturally begins to recognize the beauty and importance of life, and man's serious place in it; when it sees the possibility of infinite perfection of which the world is capable, and devotes itself to that endeavor, not only with the hope, but with a full conviction of reaching that perfection which it imagines possible. While in the university he had that year read Spencer's Social Statics, and Spencer's reasoning bearing on private ownership of land produced a strong impression on him, especially because he was himself the son of a landed proprietress. His father was not rich, but his mother received as her marriage portion ten thousand acres of land. He then for the first time understood all the injustice of private ownership of land, and being one of those to whom any sacrifice in the name of moral duty was a lofty spiritual enjoyment, he forthwith divided the land he had inherited from his father among the peasants. On this subject he was then composing a disquisition.
His life on the estate of his aunts was ordered in the following way: He rose very early, some times at three o'clock, and till sunrise bathed in the river under a hill, often in the morning mist, and returned when the dew was yet on the grass and flowers. Some mornings he would, after partaking of coffee, sit down to write his composition, or read references bearing on the subject. But, above all, he loved to ramble in the woods. Before dinner he would lie down in the woods and sleep; then, at dinner, he made merry, jesting with his aunts; then went out riding or rowing. In the evening he read again, or joined his aunts, solving riddles for them. On moonlit nights he seldom slept, because of the immense joy of life that pervaded him, and instead of sleeping, he sometimes rambled in the garden till daylight, absorbed in his thoughts and phantasies.
Thus he lived happily the first month under the roof of his aunts' dwelling, paying no attention to the half-servant, half-ward, the black-eyed, nimble-footed Katiousha.
Nekhludoff, raised under the protecting wing of his mother, was at nineteen a perfectly innocent youth. He dreamed of woman, but only as wife. All those women who, according to his view, could not be considered as likely to become his wife, were to him not women, but people. But it happened on Ascension Day that there was visiting his aunts a lady from the neighborhood with her two young daughters, her son and a local artist who was staying with them.
After tea had been served the entire company, as usual, repaired to the meadow, where they played blind man's buff. Katiousha went with them. After some exchanges came Nekhludoff's turn to run with Katiousha. Nekhludoff always liked to see Katiousha, but it had never occurred to him that their relations could ever be any but the most formal.
"It will be difficult to catch them now," said the cheerful artist, whose short and curved legs carried him very swiftly, "unless they stumble."
"You could not catch them."
"One, two, three!"
They clapped their hands three times. Almost bursting into laughter, Katiousha quickly changed places with Nekhludoff, and pressing with her strong, rough little hand his large hand she ran to the left, rustling her starched skirt.
Nekhludoff was a swift runner; he wished to out-distance the artist, and ran with all his might. As he turned around he saw the artist catching up with Katiousha, but with her supple limbs she gained on him and ran to the left. In front of them was a patch of lilac bushes, behind which no one ran, but Katiousha, turning toward Nekhludoff, motioned him with her head to join her there. He understood her, and ran behind the bushes. But here was a ditch overgrown with nettles, whose presence was unknown to Nekhludoff. He stumbled and fell, stinging and wetting his hands in the evening dew that was now falling, but, laughing, he straightened himself and ran into the open.
Katiousha, her black eyes beaming with joy, ran toward him. They met and caught each others' hands.
"You were stung by the nettles, I suppose," she said, arranging with her free hand her loosened braid, breathing heavily, and looking up into his eyes.
"I did not know there was a ditch," he said, also smiling, and still keeping her hand in his.
She advanced a little, and he, without being able to account for it, inclined his face toward hers. She did not draw back. He pressed her hand and kissed her on the lips.
She uttered an exclamation, and with a swift movement, releasing her hand, she ran in the direction of the crowd.
Plucking two lilac twigs from the lilac bush, fanning her flushed face with them, and glancing around toward him, she ran to the players, briskly waving her hands.
From this day on the relations between Nekhludoff and Katiousha were changed, and there were established between them those peculiar relations which are customary between two innocent young people who are attached to each other.
As soon as Katiousha entered the room, or even when Nekhludoff saw her white apron from afar, everything became immediately as if lit by the sun; everything became more interesting, more cheerful, more important; life became more joyful. She experienced the same feeling. But not alone the presence and proximity of Katiousha had such effect upon Nekhludoff; the very thought of her existence had the same power upon him as that of his had upon her. Whether he received an unpleasant letter from his mother, or was backward in his composition, or felt the ceaseless sadness of youth, it would suffice for him to see her and his spirit resumed its wonted good cheer.
Katiousha had to do all the housework, but she managed to do her duty and found spare time for reading. He gave her the works of Dostoievsky and Tourgenieff to read. Those descriptive of the beauties of nature she liked best. Their conversations were but momentary, when they met in the corridor, on the veranda, in the court-yard, or in the room of the aunts' old servant, Matriena Pavlovna, with whom Katiousha roomed, or in the servants' chamber, whither Nekhludoff sometimes went to drink tea. And these conversations in the presence of Matriena Pavlovna were the pleasantest. When they were alone their conversation flagged. Then the eyes would speak something different, more important, than the mouth; the lips were drawn up, they felt uncomfortable, and quickly parted.
These relations continued during the time of his first visit to his aunts. The aunts noticed them, were dismayed, and immediately wrote to the Princess Elena Ivanovna, Nekhludoff's mother. But their anxiety was unfounded; Nekhludoff, without knowing it, loved Katiousha, as innocent people love, and this very love was the principal safeguard against either his or her fall. Not only did he not desire to possess her physically, but the very thought of such relation horrified him. There was more reason in the poetical Sophia Ivanovna's fear that Nekhludoff's having fallen in love with a girl, might take a notion to marry her without regard to her birth or station.
If Nekhludoff were clearly conscious of his love for Katiousha; especially if it were sought to persuade him that he could and must not link his fate to that of the girl, he would very likely have decided in his plumb-line mind that there was no reason why he should not marry her, no matter who she was, provided he loved her. But the aunts did not speak of their fears, and he departed without knowing that he was enamored of Katiousha.
He was certain that his feeling toward Katiousha was but a manifestation of that joy which pervaded his entire being, and which was shared by that lovely, cheerful girl. However, when he was taking leave, and Katiousha, standing on the veranda with the aunts, followed him with her black, tearful and somewhat squinting eyes, he felt that he was leaving behind him something beautiful, precious, which would never recur. And he became very sad.
"Good-by, Katiousha. I thank you for everything," he said, over the cap of Sophia Ivanovna, and seated himself in the cabriolet.
"Good-by, Dmitri Ivanovich," she said, in her pleasant, caressing voice, and holding back the tears which filled her eyes, ran into her room, where she could cry freely.
For three years afterward Nekhludoff did not see Katiousha. But when, as staff-officer, he was on his way to his army post, he paid a short visit to his aunts, but an entirely different man. Three years ago he was an honest, self-denying youth, ready to devote himself to every good cause; now he was a corrupt and refined egotist, given over to personal enjoyment. Then, the world appeared to him as a mystery which he joyfully and enthusiastically tried to solve; now, everything in this world was plain and simple, and was determined by those conditions of life in which he found himself. Then, it was necessary and important to hold communion with nature and with those people who lived, thought and felt before him (philosophers, poets); now, human institutions were the only things necessary and important, and communion he held with his comrades. Woman, then, appeared to him a mysterious and charming creature; now, he looked on woman, on every woman, except nearest relations and wives of friends, as a means of gratifying now tried pleasures. Then, he needed no money, and wanted not a third part what his mother gave him, disclaimed title to his father's land, distributing it among the peasants; now, the fifteen hundred rubles' monthly allowance he received from his mother did not suffice for his needs, and he often made it the cause of unpleasant conversation with her. His true self he then considered his spiritual being; now, his healthy, vigorous, animal self was his true ego.
And all this terrible transformation took place in him only because he ceased to have faith in himself, and began to believe in others. To live according to the faith that was in him was burdensome; every question would have to be decided almost always against his animal ego, which was seeking light pleasures; but reposing his faith in others, there remained nothing to decide, everything having been decided, and decided always against the spiritual and in favor of the animal ego. Besides, following his inner faith, he was always subject to the censure of people; in the other case he received the approval of the people that surrounded him.
Thus, when Nekhludoff was thinking, reading, speaking of God, of truth, of wealth, of poverty, everybody considered it out of place and somewhat queer, while his mother and aunt, with good-natured irony, called him notre cher philosophe. When, however, he was reading novels, relating indecent anecdotes or seeing droll vaudevilles in the French theatre, and afterward merrily repeated them, everybody praised and encouraged him. When he considered it necessary to curtail his needs, wore an old coat and gave up wine-drinking, everybody considered it eccentric and vain originality; but when he spent large sums in organizing a chase, or building an unusual, luxurious cabinet, everybody praised his taste and sent him valuable gifts. When he was chaste, and wished to preserve his chastity till marriage, his relatives were anxious about his health, and his mother, so far from being mortified, rather rejoiced when she learned that he had become a real man, and had enticed the French mistress of some friend of his. As to the Katiousha episode—that the thought might occur to him of marrying her, she could not even think of without horror.
Similarly, when Nekhludoff, on reaching his majority, distributed the estate he inherited from his father among the peasants, because he considered the ownership of land unjust, this act of his horrified his mother and relatives, who constantly reproached and ridiculed him for it. He was told unceasingly that so far from enriching it only impoverished the peasants, who opened three liquor stores and stopped working entirely. When, however, Nekhludoff joined the Guards, and spent and gambled away so much money that Elena Ivanovna had to draw from her capital, she scarcely grieved, considering it quite natural and even beneficial to be thus inoculated when young and in good society.
Nekhludoff at first struggled, but the struggle was very hard, for whatever he did, following the faith that was in him, was considered wrong by others, and, contrariwise, whatever he considered wrong was approved of by his relatives. The result was that Nekhludoff ceased to have faith in himself and began to follow others. At first this renunciation of self was unpleasant, but it was short lived, and Nekhludoff, who now began to smoke and drink wine, soon ceased to experience this unpleasant feeling, and was even greatly relieved.