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BOOK I.

CHAPTER LI.


THE CELLS.

Nekhludoff drove that day straight from Maslennikoff's to the prison, and went to the inspector's lodging, which he now knew. He was again struck by the sounds of the same piano of inferior quality; but this time it was not a rhapsody that was being played, but exercises by Clementi, again with the same vigour, distinctness, and quickness. The servant with the bandaged eye said the inspector was in, and showed Nekhludoff to a small drawing-room, in which there stood a sofa and, in front of it, a table, with a large lamp, which stood on a piece of crochet work, and the paper shade of which was burnt on one side. The chief inspector entered, with his usual sad and weary look.

"Take a seat, please. What is it you want?" he said, buttoning up the middle button of his uniform.

"I have just been to the vice-governor's, and got this order from him. I should like to see the prisoner Maslova."

"Markova?" asked the inspector, unable to bear distinctly because of the music.

"Maslova!"

"Well, yes." The inspector got up and went to the door whence proceeded Clementi's roulades.

"Mary, can't you stop just a minute?" he said, in a voice that showed that this music was the bane of his life. "One can't hear a word."

The piano was silent, but one could hear the sound of reluctant steps, and some one looked in at the door.

The inspector seemed to feel eased by the interval of silence, lit a thick cigarette of weak tobacco, and offered one to Nekhludoff.

Nekhludoff refused.

"What I want is to see Maslova."

"Oh, yes, that can be managed. Now, then, what do you want?" he said, addressing a little girl of five or six, who came into the room and walked up to her father with her head turned towards Nekhludoff, and her eyes fixed on him.

"There, now, you'll fall down," said the inspector, smiling, as the little girl ran up to him, and, not looking where she was going, caught her foot in a little rug.

"Well, then, if I may, I shall go."

"It's not very convenient to see Maslova to-day," said the inspector.

"How's that?"

"Well, you know, it's all your own fault," said the inspector, with a slight smile. "Prince, give her no money into her hands. If you like, give it me. I will keep it for her. You see, you gave her some money yesterday; she got some spirits (it's an evil we cannot manage to root out), and to-day she is quite tipsy, even violent."

"Can this be true?"

"Oh, yes, it is. I have even been obliged to have recourse to severe measures, and to put her into a separate cell. She is a quiet woman in an ordinary way. But please do not give her any money. These people are so--" What had happened the day before came vividly back to Nekhludoff's mind, and again he was seized with fear.

"And Doukhova, a political prisoner; might I see her?"

"Yes, if you like," said the inspector. He embraced the little girl, who was still looking at Nekhludoff, got up, and, tenderly motioning her aside, went into the ante-room. Hardly had he got into the overcoat which the maid helped him to put on, and before he had reached the door, the distinct sounds of Clementi's roulades again began.

"She entered the Conservatoire, but there is such disorder there. She has a great gift," said the inspector, as they went down the stairs. "She means to play at concerts."

The inspector and Nekhludoff arrived at the prison. The gates were instantly opened as they appeared. The jailers, with their fingers lifted to their caps, followed the inspector with their eyes. Four men, with their heads half shaved, who were carrying tubs filled with something, cringed when they saw the inspector. One of them frowned angrily, his black eyes glaring.

"Of course a talent like that must be developed; it would not do to bury it, but in a small lodging, you know, it is rather hard." The inspector went on with the conversation, taking no notice of the prisoners.

"Who is it you want to see?"

"Doukhova."

"Oh, she's in the tower. You'll have to wait a little," he said.

"Might I not meanwhile see the prisoners Menshoff, mother and son, who are accused of incendiarism?"

"Oh, yes. Cell No. 21. Yes, they can be sent for."

"But might I not see Menshoff in his cell?"

"Oh, you'll find the waiting-room more pleasant."

"No. I should prefer the cell. It is more interesting."

Well, you have found something to be interested in!"

Here the assistant, a smartly-dressed officer, entered the side door.

"Here, see the Prince into Menshoff's cell, No. 21," said the inspector to his assistant, "and then take him to the office. And I'll go and call--What's her name?" Vera Doukhova."

The inspector's assistant was young, with dyed moustaches, and diffusing the smell of eau-de-cologne. "This way, please," he said to Nekhludoff, with a pleasant smile. "Our establishment interests you?"

"Yes, it does interest me; and, besides, I look upon it as a duty to help a man who I heard was confined here, though innocent."

The assistant shrugged his shoulders.

"Yes, that may happen," he said quietly, politely stepping aside to let the visitor enter, the stinking corridor first. "But it also happens that they lie. Here we are."

The doors of the cells were open, and some of the prisoners were in the corridor. The assistant nodded slightly to the jailers, and cast a side glance at the prisoners, who, keeping close to the wall, crept back to their cells, or stood like soldiers, with their arms at their sides, following the official with their eyes. After passing through one corridor, the assistant showed Nekhludoff into another to the left, separated from the first by an iron door. This corridor was darker, and smelt even worse than the first. The corridor had doors on both sides, with little holes in them about an inch in diameter. There was only an old jailer, with an unpleasant face, in this corridor.

"Where is Menshoff?" asked the inspector's assistant.

"The eighth cell to the left."

"And these? Are they occupied?" asked Nekhludoff.

Yes, all but one."

BOOK I.

CHAPTER LII.


NO. 21.

"May I look in?" asked Nekhludoff.

"Oh, certainly," answered the assistant, smiling, and turned to the jailer with some question.

Nekhludoff looked into one of the little holes, and saw a tall young man pacing up and down the cell. When the man heard some one at the door he looked up with a frown, but continued walking up and down.

Nekhludoff looked into another hole. His eye met another large eye looking out of the hole at him, and he quickly stepped aside. In the third cell he saw a very small man asleep on the bed, covered, head and all, with his prison cloak. In the fourth a broad-faced man was sitting with his elbows on his knees and his head low down. At the sound of footsteps this man raised his head and looked up. His face, especially his large eyes, bore the expression of hopeless dejection. One could see that it did not even interest him to know who was looking into his cell. Whoever it might be, he evidently hoped for nothing good from him. Nekhludoff was seized with dread, and went to Menshoff's cell, No. 21, without stopping to look through any more holes. The jailer unlocked the door and opened it. A young man, with long neck, well-developed muscles, a small head, and kind, round eyes, stood by the bed, hastily putting on his cloak, and looking at the newcomers with a frightened face. Nekhludoff was specially struck by the kind, round eyes that were throwing frightened and inquiring glances in turns at him, at the jailer, and at the assistant, and back again.

"Here's a gentleman wants to inquire into your affair."

"Thank you kindly."

"Yes, I was told about you," Nekhludoff said, going through the cell up to the dirty grated window, "and I should like to hear all about it from yourself."

Menshoff also came up to the window, and at once started telling his story, at first looking shyly at the inspector's assistant, but growing gradually bolder. When the assistant left the cell and went into the corridor to give some order the man grew quite bold. The story was told with the accent and in the manner common to a most ordinary good peasant lad. To hear it told by a prisoner dressed in this degrading clothing, and inside a prison, seemed very strange to Nekhludoff. Nekhludoff listened, and at the same time kept looking around him--at the low bedstead with its straw mattress, the window and the dirty, damp wall, and the piteous face and form of this unfortunate, disfigured peasant in his prison cloak and shoes, and he felt sadder and sadder, and would have liked not to believe what this good-natured fellow was saying. It seemed too dreadful to think that men could do such a thing as to take a man, dress him in convict clothes, and put him in this horrible place without any reason only because he himself had been injured. And yet the thought that this seemingly true story, told with such a good-natured expression on the face, might be an invention and a lie was still more dreadful. This was the story: The village public-house keeper had enticed the young fellow's wife. He tried to get justice by all sorts of means. But everywhere the public-house keeper managed to bribe the officials, and was acquitted. Once, he took his wife back by force, but she ran away next day. Then he came to demand her back, but, though he saw her when he came in, the public-house keeper told him she was not there, and ordered him to go away. He would not go, so the public-house keeper and his servant beat him so that they drew blood. The next day a fire broke out in the public-house, and the young man and his mother were accused of having set the house on fire. He had not set it on fire, but was visiting a friend at the time.

"And it is true that you did not set it on fire?"

"It never entered my head to do it, sir. It must be my enemy that did it himself. They say he had only just insured it. Then they said it was mother and I that did it, and that we had threatened him. It is true I once did go for him, my heart couldn't stand it any longer."

"Can this be true?"

"God is my witness it is true. Oh, sir, be so good--" and Nekhludoff had some difficulty to prevent him from bowing down to the ground. "You see I am perishing without any reason." His face quivered and he turned up the sleeve of his cloak and began to cry, wiping the tears with the sleeve of his dirty shirt.

"Are you ready?" asked the assistant.

"Yes. Well, cheer up. We will consult a good lawyer, and will do what we can," said Nekhludoff, and went out. Menshoff stood close to the door, so that the jailer knocked him in shutting it, and while the jailer was locking it he remained looking out through the little hole.

BOOK I.

CHAPTER LIII.


VICTIMS OF GOVERNMENT.

Passing back along the broad corridor (it was dinner time, and the cell doors were open), among the men dressed in their light yellow cloaks, short, wide trousers, and prison shoes, who were looking eagerly at him, Nekhludoff felt a strange mixture of sympathy for them, and horror and perplexity at the conduct of those who put and kept them here, and, besides, he felt, he knew not why, ashamed of himself calmly examining it all.

In one of the corridors, some one ran, clattering with his shoes, in at the door of a cell. Several men came out from here, and stood in Nekhludoff's way, bowing to him.

"Please, your honour (we don't know what to call you), get our affair settled somehow."

"I am not an official. I know nothing about it."

"Well, anyhow, you come from outside; tell somebody--one of the authorities, if need be," said an indignant voice. "Show some pity on us, as a human being. Here we are suffering the second month for nothing."

"What do you mean? Why?" said Nekhludoff.

"Why? We ourselves don't know why, but are sitting here the second month."

"Yes, it's quite true, and it is owing to an accident," said the inspector. "These people were taken up because they had no passports, and ought to have been sent back to their native government; but the prison there is burnt, and the local authorities have written, asking us not to send them on. So we have sent all the other passportless people to their different governments, but are keeping these."

"What! For no other reason than that?" Nekhludoff exclaimed, stopping at the door.

A crowd of about forty men, all dressed in prison clothes, surrounded him and the assistant, and several began talking at once. The assistant stopped them.

"Let some one of you speak."

A tall, good-looking peasant, a stone-mason, of about fifty, stepped out from the rest. He told Nekhludoff that all of them had been ordered back to their homes and were now being kept in prison because they had no passports, yet they had passports which were only a fortnight overdue. The same thing had happened every year; they had many times omitted to renew their passports till they were overdue, and nobody had ever said anything; but this year they had been taken up and were being kept in prison the second month, as if they were criminals.

"We are all masons, and belong to the same artel. We are told that the prison in our government is burnt, but this is not our fault. Do help us."

Nekhludoff listened, but hardly understood what the good-looking old man was saying, because his attention was riveted to a large, dark-grey, many-legged louse that was creeping along the good-looking man's cheek.

"How's that? Is it possible for such a reason?" Nekhludoff said, turning to the assistant.

"Yes, they should have been sent off and taken back to their homes," calmly said the assistant, "but they seem to have been forgotten or something."

Before the assistant had finished, a small, nervous man, also in prison dress, came out of the crowd, and, strangely contorting his mouth, began to say that they were being ill-used for nothing.

"Worse than dogs," he began.

"Now, now; not too much of this. Hold your tongue, or you know--"

"What do I know?" screamed the little man, desperately. "What is our crime?"

"Silence!" shouted the assistant, and the little man was silent.

"But what is the meaning of all this?" Nekhludoff thought to himself as he came out of the cell, while a hundred eyes were fixed upon him through the openings of the cell doors and from the prisoners that met him, making him feel as if he were running the gauntlet.

"Is it really possible that perfectly innocent people are kept here?" Nekhludoff uttered when they left the corridor.

"What would you have us do? They lie so. To hear them talk they are all of them innocent," said the inspector's assistant. "But it does happen that some are really imprisoned for nothing."

"Well, these have done nothing."

"Yes, we must admit it. Still, the people are fearfully spoilt. There are such types--desperate fellows, with whom one has to look sharp. To-day two of that sort had to be punished."

"Punished? How?"

"Flogged with a birch-rod, by order."

"But corporal punishment is abolished."

"Not for such as are deprived of their rights. They are still liable to it."

Nekhludoff thought of what he had seen the day before while waiting in the hall, and now understood that the punishment was then being inflicted, and the mixed feeling of curiosity, depression, perplexity, and moral nausea, that grew into physical sickness, took hold of him more strongly than ever before.

Without listening to the inspector's assistant, or looking round, he hurriedly left the corridor, and went to the office. The inspector was in the office, occupied with other business, and had forgotten to send for Doukhova. He only remembered his promise to have her called when Nekhludoff entered the office.

"Sit down, please. I'll send for her at once," said the inspector.

BOOK I.

CHAPTER LIV.


PRISONERS AND FRIENDS.

The office consisted of two rooms. The first room, with a large, dilapidated stove and two dirty windows, had a black measure for measuring the prisoners in one corner, and in another corner hung a large image of Christ, as is usual in places where they torture people. In this room stood several jailers. In the next room sat about twenty persons, men and women in groups and in pairs, talking in low voices. There was a writing table by the window.

The inspector sat down by the table, and offered Nekhludoff a chair beside him. Nekhludoff sat down, and looked at the people in the room.

The first who drew his attention was a young man with a pleasant face, dressed in a short jacket, standing in front of a middle-aged woman with dark eyebrows, and he was eagerly telling her something and gesticulating with his hands. Beside them sat an old man, with blue spectacles, holding the hand of a young woman in prisoner's clothes, who was telling him something. A schoolboy, with a fixed, frightened look on his face, was gazing at the old man. In one corner sat a pair of lovers. She was quite young and pretty, and had short, fair hair, looked energetic, and was elegantly dressed; he had fine features, wavy hair, and wore a rubber jacket. They sat in their corner and seemed stupefied with love. Nearest to the table sat a grey-haired woman dressed in black, evidently the mother of a young, consumptive-looking fellow, in the same kind of jacket. Her head lay on his shoulder. She was trying to say something, but the tears prevented her from speaking; she began several times, but had to stop. The young man held a paper in his hand, and, apparently not knowing what to do, kept folding and pressing it with an angry look on his face.

Beside them was a short-haired, stout, rosy girl, with very prominent eyes, dressed in a grey dress and a cape; she sat beside the weeping mother, tenderly stroking her. Everything about this girl was beautiful; her large, white hands, her short, wavy hair, her firm nose and lips, but the chief charm of her face lay in her kind, truthful hazel eyes. The beautiful eyes turned away from the mother for a moment when Nekhludoff came in, and met his look. But she turned back at once and said something to the mother.

Not far from the lovers a dark, dishevelled man, with a gloomy face, sat angrily talking to a beardless visitor, who looked as if he belonged to the Scoptsy sect.

At the very door stood a young man in a rubber jacket, who seemed more concerned about the impression he produced on the onlooker than about what he was saying. Nekhludoff, sitting by the inspector's side, looked round with strained curiosity. A little boy with closely-cropped hair came up to him and addressed him in a thin little voice.

"And whom are you waiting for?"

Nekhludoff was surprised at the question, but looking at the boy, and seeing the serious little face with its bright, attentive eyes fixed on him, answered him seriously that he was waiting for a woman of his acquaintance.

"Is she, then, your sister?" the boy asked.

"No, not my sister," Nekhludoff answered in surprise.

"And with whom are you here?" he inquired of the boy.

"I? With mamma; she is a political one," he replied.

"Mary Pavlovna, take Kolia!" said the inspector, evidently considering Nekhludoff's conversation with the boy illegal.

Mary Pavlovna, the beautiful girl who had attracted Nekhludoff's attention, rose tall and erect, and with firm, almost manly steps, approached Nekhludoff and the boy.

"What is he asking you? Who you are?" she inquired with a slight smile, and looking straight into his face with a trustful look in her kind, prominent eyes, and as simply as if there could be no doubt whatever that she was and must be on sisterly terms with everybody.

"He likes to know everything," she said, looking at the boy with so sweet and kind a smile that both the boy and Nekhludoff were obliged to smile back.

"He was asking me whom I have come to see."

"Mary Pavlovna, it is against the rules to speak to strangers. You know it is," said the inspector.

"All right, all right," she said, and went back to the consumptive lad's mother, holding Kolia's little hand in her large, white one, while he continued gazing up into her face.

"Whose is this little boy?" Nekhludoff asked of the inspector.

"His mother is a political prisoner, and he was born in prison," said the inspector, in a pleased tone, as if glad to point out how exceptional his establishment was.

"Is it possible?"

"Yes, and now he is going to Siberia with her."

"And that young girl?"

"I cannot answer your question," said the inspector, shrugging his shoulders. "Besides, here is Doukhova."

BOOK I.

CHAPTER LV.


VERA DOUKHOVA EXPLAINS.

Through a door, at the back of the room, entered, with a wriggling gait, the thin, yellow Vera Doukhova, with her large, kind eyes.

"Thanks for having come," she said, pressing Nekhludoff's hand. "Do you remember me? Let us sit down."

"I did not expect to see you like this."

"Oh, I am very happy. It is so delightful, so delightful, that I desire nothing better," said Vera Doukhova, with the usual expression of fright in the large, kind, round eyes fixed on Nekhludoff, and twisting the terribly thin, sinewy neck, surrounded by the shabby, crumpled, dirty collar of her bodice. Nekhludoff asked her how she came to be in prison.

In answer she began relating all about her affairs with great animation. Her speech was intermingled with a great many long words, such as propaganda, disorganisation, social groups, sections and sub-sections, about which she seemed to think everybody knew, but which Nekhludoff had never heard of.

She told him all the secrets of the Nardovolstvo, [literally, "People's Freedom," a revolutionary movement] evidently convinced that he was pleased to hear them. Nekhludoff looked at her miserable little neck, her thin, unkempt hair, and wondered why she had been doing all these strange things, and why she was now telling all this to him. He pitied her, but not as he had pitied Menshoff, the peasant, kept for no fault of his own in the stinking prison. She was pitiable because of the confusion that filled her mind. It was clear that she considered herself a heroine, and was ready to give her life for a cause, though she could hardly have explained what that cause was and in what its success would lie.

The business that Vera Doukhova wanted to see Nekhludoff about was the following: A friend of hers, who had not even belonged to their "sub-group," as she expressed it, had been arrested with her about five months before, and imprisoned in the Petropavlovsky fortress because some prohibited books and papers (which she had been asked to keep) had been found in her possession. Vera Doukhova felt herself in some measure to blame for her friend's arrest, and implored Nekhludoff, who had connections among influential people, to do all he could in order to set this friend free.

Besides this, Doukhova asked him to try and get permission for another friend of hers, Gourkevitch (who was also imprisoned in the Petropavlovsky fortress), to see his parents, and to procure some scientific books which he required for his studies. Nekhludoff promised to do what he could when he went to Petersburg.

As to her own story, this is what she said: Having finished a course of midwifery, she became connected with a group of adherents to the Nardovolstvo, and made up her mind to agitate in the revolutionary movement. At first all went on smoothly. She wrote proclamations and occupied herself with propaganda work in the factories; then, an important member having been arrested, their papers were seized and all concerned were arrested. "I was also arrested, and shall be exiled. But what does it matter? I feel perfectly happy." She concluded her story with a piteous smile.

Nekhludoff made some inquiries concerning the girl with the prominent eyes. Vera Doukhova told him that this girl was the daughter of a general, and had been long attached to the revolutionary party, and was arrested because she had pleaded guilty to having shot a gendarme. She lived in a house with some conspirators, where they had a secret printing press. One night, when the police came to search this house, the occupiers resolved to defend themselves, put out the light, and began destroying the things that might incriminate them. The police forced their way in, and one of the conspirators fired, and mortally wounded a gendarme. When an inquiry was instituted, this girl said that it was she who had fired, although she had never had a revolver in her hands, and would not have hurt a fly. And she kept to it, and was now condemned to penal servitude in Siberia.

"An altruistic, fine character," said Vera Doukhova, approvingly.

The third business that Vera Doukhova wanted to talk about concerned Maslova. She knew, as everybody does know in prison, the story of Maslova's life and his connection with her, and advised him to take steps to get her removed into the political prisoner's ward, or into the hospital to help to nurse the sick, of which there were very many at that time, so that extra nurses were needed.

Nekhludoff thanked her for the advice, and said he would try to act upon it.

BOOK I.

CHAPTER LVI.


NEKHLUDOFF AND THE PRISONERS.

Their conversation was interrupted by the inspector, who said that the time was up, and the prisoners and their friends must part. Nekhludoff took leave of Vera Doukhova and went to the door, where he stopped to watch what was going on.

The inspector's order called forth only heightened animation among the prisoners in the room, but no one seemed to think of going. Some rose and continued to talk standing, some went on talking without rising. A few began crying and taking leave of each other. The mother and her consumptive son seemed especially pathetic. The young fellow kept twisting his bit of paper and his face seemed angry, so great were his efforts not to be infected by his mother's emotion. The mother, hearing that it was time to part, put her head on his shoulder and sobbed and sniffed aloud.

The girl with the prominent eyes--Nekhludoff could not help watching her--was standing opposite the sobbing mother, and was saying something to her in a soothing tone. The old man with the blue spectacles stood holding his daughter's hand and nodding in answer to what she said. The young lovers rose, and, holding each other's hands, looked silently into one another's eyes.

"These are the only two who are merry," said a young man with a short coat who stood by Nekhludoff's side, also looking at those who were about to part, and pointed to the lovers. Feeling Nekhludoff's and the young man's eyes fixed on them, the lovers-- the young man with the rubber coat and the pretty girl--stretched out their arms, and with their hands clasped in each other's, danced round and round again. "To-night they are going to be married here in prison, and she will follow him to Siberia," said the young man.

"What is he?"

"A convict, condemned to penal servitude. Let those two at least have a little joy, or else it is too painful," the young man added, listening to the sobs of the consumptive lad's mother.

"Now, my good people! Please, please do not oblige me to have recourse to severe measures," the inspector said, repeating the same words several times over. "Do, please," he went on in a weak, hesitating manner. "It is high time. What do you mean by it? This sort of thing is quite impossible. I am now asking you for the last time," he repeated wearily, now putting out his cigarette and then lighting another.

It was evident that, artful, old, and common as were the devices enabling men to do evil to others without feeling responsible for it, the inspector could not but feel conscious that he was one of those who were guilty of causing the sorrow which manifested itself in this room. And it was apparent that this troubled him sorely. At length the prisoners and their visitors began to go--the first out of the inner, the latter out of the outer door. The man with the rubber jacket passed out among them, and the consumptive youth and the dishevelled man. Mary Pavlovna went out with the boy born in prison.

The visitors went out too. The old man with the blue spectacles, stepping heavily, went out, followed by Nekhludoff.

"Yes, a strange state of things this," said the talkative young man, as if continuing an interrupted conversation, as he descended the stairs side by side with Nekhludoff. "Yet we have reason to be grateful to the inspector who does not keep strictly to the rules, kind-hearted fellow. If they can get a talk it does relieve their hearts a bit, after all!"

While talking to the young man, who introduced himself as Medinzeff, Nekhludoff reached the hall. There the inspector came up to them with weary step.

"If you wish to see Maslova," he said, apparently desiring to be polite to Nekhludoff, "please come to-morrow."

"Very well," answered Nekhludoff, and hurried away, experiencing more than ever that sensation of moral nausea which he always felt on entering the prison.

The sufferings of the evidently innocent Menshoff seemed terrible, and not so much his physical suffering as the perplexity, the distrust in the good and in God which he must feel, seeing the cruelty of the people who tormented him without any reason.

Terrible were the disgrace and sufferings cast on these hundreds of guiltless people simply because something was not written on paper as it should have been. Terrible were the brutalised jailers, whose occupation is to torment their brothers, and who were certain that they were fulfilling an important and useful duty; but most terrible of all seemed this sickly, elderly, kind-hearted inspector, who was obliged to part mother and son, father and daughter, who were just the same sort of people as he and his own children.

"What is it all for?" Nekhludoff asked himself, and could not find an answer.

BOOK I.

CHAPTER LVII.


THE VICE-GOVERNOR'S "AT-HOME".

The next day Nekhludoff went to see the advocate, and spoke to him about the Menshoffs' case, begging him to undertake their defence. The advocate promised to look into the case, and if it turned out to be as Nekhludoff said he would in all probability undertake the defence free of charge. Then Nekhludoff told him of the 130 men who were kept in prison owing to a mistake. "On whom did it depend? Whose fault was it?"

The advocate was silent for a moment, evidently anxious to give a correct reply.

"Whose fault is it? No one's," he said, decidedly. "Ask the Procureur, he'll say it is the Governor's; ask the Governor, he'll say it is the Procureur's fault. No one is in fault."

"I am just going to see the Vice-Governor. I shall tell him."

"Oh, that's quite useless," said the advocate, with a smile. "He is such a--he is not a relation or friend of yours?--such a blockhead, if I may say so, and yet a crafty animal at the same time."

Nekhludoff remembered what Maslennikoff had said about the advocate, and did not answer, but took leave and went on to Maslennikoff's. He had to ask Maslennikoff two things: about Maslova's removal to the prison hospital, and about the 130 passportless men innocently imprisoned. Though it was very hard to petition a man whom he did not respect, and by whose orders men were flogged, yet it was the only means of gaining his end, and he had to go through with it.

As he drove up to Maslennikoff's house Nekhludoff saw a number of different carriages by the front door, and remembered that it was Maslennikoff's wife's "at-home" day, to which he had been invited. At the moment Nekhludoff drove up there was a carriage in front of the door, and a footman in livery, with a cockade in his hat, was helping a lady down the doorstep. She was holding up her train, and showing her thin ankles, black stockings, and slippered feet. Among the carriages was a closed landau, which he knew to be the Korchagins'.

The grey-haired, red-checked coachman took off his hat and bowed in a respectful yet friendly manner to Nekhludoff, as to a gentleman he knew well. Nekhludoff had not had time to inquire for Maslennikoff, when the latter appeared on the carpeted stairs, accompanying a very important guest not only to the first landing but to the bottom of the stairs. This very important visitor, a military man, was speaking in French about a lottery for the benefit of children's homes that were to be founded in the city, and expressed the opinion that this was a good occupation for the ladies. "It amuses them, and the money comes."

"Qu'elles s'amusent et que le bon dieu les benisse. M. Nekhludoff! How d'you do? How is it one never sees you?" he greeted Nekhludoff. "Allez presenter vos devoirs a Madame. And the Korchagins are here et Nadine Bukshevden. Toutes les jolies femmes de la ville," said the important guest, slightly raising his uniformed shoulders as he presented them to his own richly liveried servant to have his military overcoat put on. "Au revoir, mon cher." And he pressed Maslennikoff's hand.

"Now, come up; I am so glad," said Maslennikoff, grasping Nekhludoff's hand. In spite of his corpulency Maslennikoff hurried quickly up the stairs. He was in particularly good spirits, owing to the attention paid him by the important personage. Every such attention gave him the same sense of delight as is felt by an affectionate dog when its master pats it, strokes it, or scratches its ears. It wags its tail, cringes, jumps about, presses its ears down, and madly rushes about in a circle. Maslennikoff was ready to do the same. He did not notice the serious expression on Nekhludoff's face, paid no heed to his words, but pulled him irresistibly towards the drawing-room, so that it was impossible for Nekhludoff not to follow. "Business after wards. I shall do whatever you want," said Meslennikoff, as he drew Nekhludoff through the dancing hall. "Announce Prince Nekhludoff," he said to a footman, without stopping on his way. The footman started off at a trot and passed them.

"Vous n'avez qu' a ordonner. But you must see my wife. As it is, I got it for letting you go without seeing her last time."

By the time they reached the drawing-room the footman had already announced Nekhludoff, and from between the bonnets and heads that surrounded it the smiling face of Anna Ignatievna, the Vice-Governor's wife, beamed on Nekhludoff. At the other end of the drawing-room several ladies were seated round the tea-table, and some military men and some civilians stood near them. The clatter of male and female voices went on unceasingly.

"Enfin! you seem to have quite forgotten us. How have we offended?" With these words, intended to convey an idea of intimacy which had never existed between herself and Nekhludoff, Anna Ignatievna greeted the newcomer.

"You are acquainted?--Madam Tilyaevsky, M. Chernoff. Sit down a bit nearer. Missy vene donc a notre table on vous apportera votre the . . . And you," she said, having evidently forgotten his name, to an officer who was talking to Missy, "do come here. A cup of tea, Prince?"

"I shall never, never agree with you. It's quite simple; she did not love," a woman's voice was heard saying.

"But she loved tarts."

"Oh, your eternal silly jokes!" put in, laughingly, another lady resplendent in silks, gold, and jewels.

"C'est excellent these little biscuits, and so light. I think I'll take another."

"Well, are you moving soon?"

"Yes, this is our last day. That's why we have come. Yes, it must be lovely in the country; we are having a delightful spring."

Missy, with her hat on, in a dark-striped dress of some kind that fitted her like a skin, was looking very handsome. She blushed when she saw Nekhludoff.

"And I thought you had left," she said to him.

"I am on the point of leaving. Business is keeping me in town, and it is on business I have come here."

"Won't you come to see mamma? She would like to see you," she said, and knowing that she was saying what was not true, and that he knew it also, she blushed still more.

"I fear I shall scarcely have time," Nekhludoff said gloomily, trying to appear as if he had not noticed her blush. Missy frowned angrily, shrugged her shoulders, and turned towards an elegant officer, who grasped the empty cup she was holding, and knocking his sword against the chairs, manfully carried the cup across to another table.

"You must contribute towards the Home fund."

"I am not refusing, but only wish to keep my bounty fresh for the lottery. There I shall let it appear in all its glory."

"Well, look out for yourself," said a voice, followed by an evidently feigned laugh.

Anna Ignatievna was in raptures; her "at-home" had turned out a brilliant success. "Micky tells me you are busying yourself with prison work. I can understand you so well," she said to Nekhludoff. "Micky (she meant her fat husband, Maslennikoff) may have other defects, but you know how kind-hearted he is. All these miserable prisoners are his children. He does not regard them in any other light. II est d'une bonte---" and she stopped, finding no words to do justice to this bonte of his, and quickly turned to a shrivelled old woman with bows of lilac ribbon all over, who came in just then.

Having said as much as was absolutely necessary, and with as little meaning as conventionality required, Nekhludoff rose and went up to Meslennikoff. "Can you give me a few minutes' hearing, please?"

"Oh, yes. Well, what is it?"

"Let us come in here."

They entered a small Japanese sitting-room, and sat down by the window.

BOOK I.

CHAPTER LVIII.


THE VICE-GOVERNOR SUSPICIOUS.

"Well? Je suis a vous. Will you smoke? But wait a bit; we must be careful and not make a mess here," said Maslennikoff, and brought an ashpan. "Well?"

"There are two matters I wish to ask you about."

"Dear me!"

An expression of gloom and dejection came over Maslennikoff's countenance, and every trace of the excitement, like that of the dog's whom its master has scratched behind the cars, vanished completely. The sound of voices reached them from the drawing- room. A woman's voice was heard, saying, "Jamais je ne croirais," and a man's voice from the other side relating something in which the names of la Comtesse Voronzoff and Victor Apraksine kept recurring. A hum of voices, mixed with laughter, came from another side. Maslennikoff tried to listen to what was going on in the drawing-room and to what Nekhludoff was saying at the same time.

"I am again come about that same woman," said Nekhludoff."

"Oh, yes; I know. The one innocently condemned."

"I would like to ask that she should be appointed to serve in the prison hospital. I have been told that this could be arranged."

Maslennikoff compressed his lips and meditated. "That will be scarcely possible," he said. "However, I shall see what can be done, and shall wire you an answer tomorrow."

"I have been told that there were many sick, and help was needed."

"All right, all right. I shall let you know in any case."

"Please do," said Nekhludoff.

The sound of a general and even a natural laugh came from the drawing-room.

"That's all that Victor. He is wonderfully sharp when he is in the right vein," said Maslennikoff.

"The next thing I wanted to tell you," said Nekhludoff, "is that 130 persons are imprisoned only because their passports are overdue. They have been kept here a month."

And he related the circumstances of the case.

"How have you come to know of this?" said Maslennikoff, looking uneasy and dissatisfied.

"I went to see a prisoner, and these men came and surrounded me in the corridor, and asked . . ."

"What prisoner did you go to see?"

"A peasant who is kept in prison, though innocent. I have put his case into the hands of a lawyer. But that is not the point."

"Is it possible that people who have done no wrong are imprisoned only because their passports are overdue? And . . ."

"That's the Procureur's business," Maslennikoff interrupted, angrily. "There, now, you see what it is you call a prompt and just form of trial. It is the business of the Public Prosecutor to visit the prison and to find out if the prisoners are kept there lawfully. But that set play cards; that's all they do."

"Am I to understand that you can do nothing?" Nekhludoff said, despondently, remembering that the advocate had foretold that the Governor would put the blame on the Procureur.

"Oh, yes, I can. I shall see about it at once."

"So much the worse for her. C'est un souffre douleur," came the voice of a woman, evidently indifferent to what she was saying, from the drawing-room.

"So much the better. I shall take it also," a man's voice was heard to say from the other side, followed by the playful laughter of a woman, who was apparently trying to prevent the man from taking something away from her.

"No, no; not on any account," the woman's voice said.

"All right, then. I shall do all this," Maslennikoff repeated, and put out the cigarette he held in his white, turquoise-ringed hand. "And now let us join the ladies."

"Wait a moment," Nekhludoff said, stopping at the door of the drawing-room. "I was told that some men had received corporal punishment in the prison yesterday. Is this true?"

Maslennikoff blushed.

"Oh, that's what you are after? No, mon cher, decidedly it won't do to let you in there; you want to get at everything. Come, come; Anna is calling us," he said, catching Nekhludoff by the arm, and again becoming as excited as after the attention paid him by the important person, only now his excitement was not joyful, but anxious.

Nekhludoff pulled his arm away, and without taking leave of any one and without saying a word, he passed through the drawing-room with a dejected look, went down into the hall, past the footman, who sprang towards him, and out at the street door.

"What is the matter with him? What have you done to him?" asked Anna of her husband.

"This is a la Francaise," remarked some one.

"A la Francaise, indeed--it is a la Zoulou."

"Oh, but he's always been like that."

Some one rose, some one came in, and the clatter went on its course. The company used this episode with Nekhludoff as a convenient topic of conversation for the rest of the "at-home."

On the day following his visit to Maslennikoff, Nekhludoff received a letter from him, written in a fine, firm hand, on thick, glazed paper, with a coat-of-arms, and sealed with sealing-wax. Maslennikoff said that he had written to the doctor concerning Maslova's removal to the hospital, and hoped Nekhludoff's wish would receive attention. The letter was signed, "Your affectionate elder comrade," and the signature ended with a large, firm, and artistic flourish. "Fool!" Nekhludoff could not refrain from saying, especially because in the word "comrade" he felt Maslennikoff's condescension towards him, i.e., while Maslennikoff was filling this position, morally most dirty and shameful, he still thought himself a very important man, and wished, if not exactly to flatter Nekhludoff, at least to show that he was not too proud to call him comrade.

BOOK I.

CHAPTER LIX.


NEKHLUDOFF'S THIRD INTERVIEW WITH MASLOVA IN PRISON.

One of the most widespread superstitions is that every man has his own special, definite qualities; that a man is kind, cruel, wise, stupid, energetic, apathetic, etc. Men are not like that. We may say of a man that he is more often kind than cruel, oftener wise than stupid, oftener energetic than apathetic, or the reverse; but it would be false to say of one man that he is kind and wise, of another that he is wicked and foolish. And yet we always classify mankind in this way. And this is untrue. Men are like rivers: the water is the same in each, and alike in all; but every river is narrow here, is more rapid there, here slower, there broader, now clear, now cold, now dull, now warm. It is the same with men. Every man carries in himself the germs of every human quality, and sometimes one manifests itself, sometimes another, and the man often becomes unlike himself, while still remaining the same man, In some people these changes are very rapid, and Nekhludoff was such a man. These changes in him were due to physical and to spiritual causes. At this time he experienced such a change.

That feeling of triumph and joy at the renewal of life which he had experienced after the trial and after the first interview with Katusha, vanished completely, and after the last interview fear and revulsion took the place of that joy. He was determined not to leave her, and not to change his decision of marrying her, if she wished it; but it seemed very hard, and made him suffer.

On the day after his visit to Maslennikoff, he again went to the prison to see her.

The inspector allowed him to speak to her, only not in the advocate's room nor in the office, but in the women's visiting-room. In spite of his kindness, the inspector was more reserved with Nekhludoff than hitherto.

An order for greater caution had apparently been sent, as a result of his conversation with Meslennikoff.

"You may see her," the inspector said; "but please remember what I said as regards money. And as to her removal to the hospital, that his excellency wrote to me about, it can be done; the doctor would agree. Only she herself does not wish it. She says, 'Much need have I to carry out the slops for the scurvy beggars.' You don't know what these people are, Prince," he added.

Nekhludoff did not reply, but asked to have the interview. The inspector called a jailer, whom Nekhludoff followed into the women's visiting-room, where there was no one but Maslova waiting. She came from behind the grating, quiet and timid, close up to him, and said, without looking at him:

"Forgive me, Dmitri Ivanovitch, I spoke hastily the day before yesterday."

"It is not for me to forgive you," Nekhludoff began.

"But all the same, you must leave me," she interrupted, and in the terribly squinting eyes with which she looked at him Nekhludoff read the former strained, angry expression.

"Why should I leave you?"

"So."

"But why so?"

She again looked up, as it seemed to him, with the same angry look.

"Well, then, thus it is," she said. "You must leave me. It is true what I am saying. I cannot. You just give it up altogether." Her lips trembled and she was silent for a moment. "It is true. I'd rather hang myself."

Nekhludoff felt that in this refusal there was hatred and unforgiving resentment, but there was also something besides, something good. This confirmation of the refusal in cold blood at once quenched all the doubts in Nekhludoff's bosom, and brought back the serious, triumphant emotion he had felt in relation to Katusha.

"Katusha, what I have said I will again repeat," he uttered, very seriously. "I ask you to marry me. If you do not wish it, and for as long as you do not wish it, I shall only continue to follow you, and shall go where you are taken."

"That is your business. I shall not say anything more," she answered, and her lips began to tremble again.

He, too, was silent, feeling unable to speak.

"I shall now go to the country, and then to Petersburg," he said, when he was quieter again. "I shall do my utmost to get your--- our case, I mean, reconsidered, and by the help of God the sentence may be revoked."

"And if it is not revoked, never mind. I have deserved it, if not in this case, in other ways," she said, and he saw how difficult it was for her to keep down her tears.

"Well, have you seen Menshoff?" she suddenly asked, to hide her emotion. "It's true they are innocent, isn't it?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Such a splendid old woman," she said.

There was another pause.

"Well, and as to the hospital?" she suddenly said, and looking at him with her squinting eyes. "If you like, I will go, and I shall not drink any spirits, either."

Nekhludoff looked into her eyes. They were smiling.

"Yes, yes, she is quite a different being," Nekhludoff thought. After all his former doubts, he now felt something he had never before experienced--the certainty that love is invincible.

When Maslova returned to her noisome cell after this interview, she took off her cloak and sat down in her place on the shelf bedstead with her hands folded on her lap. In the cell were only the consumptive woman, the Vladimir woman with her baby, Menshoff's old mother, and the watchman's wife. The deacon's daughter had the day before been declared mentally diseased and removed to the hospital. The rest of the women were away, washing clothes. The old woman was asleep, the cell door stood open, and the watchman's children were in the corridor outside. The Vladimir woman, with her baby in her arms, and the watchman's wife, with the stocking she was knitting with deft fingers, came up to Maslova. "Well, have you had a chat?" they asked. Maslova sat silent on the high bedstead, swinging her legs, which did not reach to the floor.

"What's the good of snivelling?" said the watchman's wife. "The chief thing's not to go down into the dumps. Eh, Katusha? Now, then!" and she went on, quickly moving her fingers.

Maslova did not answer.

"And our women have all gone to wash," said the Vladimir woman. "I heard them say much has been given in alms to-day. Quite a lot has been brought."

"Finashka," called out the watchman's wife, "where's the little imp gone to?"

She took a knitting needle, stuck it through both the ball and the stocking, and went out into the corridor.

At this moment the sound of women's voices was heard from the corridor, and the inmates of the cell entered, with their prison shoes, but no stockings on their feet. Each was carrying a roll, some even two. Theodosia came at once up to Maslova.

"What's the matter; is anything wrong?" Theodosia asked, looking lovingly at Maslova with her clear, blue eyes. "This is for our tea," and she put the rolls on a shelf.

"Why, surely he has not changed his mind about marrying?" asked Korableva.

"No, he has not, but I don't wish to," said Maslova, "and so I told him."

"More fool you!" muttered Korableva in her deep tones.

"If one's not to live together, what's the use of marrying?" said Theodosia.

"There's your husband--he's going with you," said the watchman's wife.

"Well, of course, we're married," said Theodosia. "But why should he go through the ceremony if he is not to live with her?"

"Why, indeed! Don't be a fool! You know if he marries her she'll roll in wealth," said Korableva.

"He says, 'Wherever they take you, I'll follow,'" said Maslova. "If he does, it's well; if he does not, well also. I am not going to ask him to. Now he is going to try and arrange the matter in Petersburg. He is related to all the Ministers there. But, all the same, I have no need of him," she continued.

"Of course not," suddenly agreed Korableva, evidently thinking about something else as she sat examining her bag. "Well, shall we have a drop?"

"You have some," replied Maslova. "I won't."

END OF BOOK I


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