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BOOK II.

CHAPTER XXI.


THE APPEAL DISMISSED.

As soon as the Senators were seated round the table in the debating-room, Wolf began to bring forward with great animation all the motives in favour of a repeal. The chairman, an ill-natured man at best, was in a particularly bad humour that day. His thoughts were concentrated on the words he had written down in his memoranda on the occasion when not he but Viglanoff was appointed to the important post he had long coveted. It was the chairman, Nikitin's, honest conviction that his opinions of the officials of the two upper classes with which he was in connection would furnish valuable material for the historians. He had written a chapter the day before in which the officials of the upper classes got it hot for preventing him, as he expressed it, from averting the ruin towards which the present rulers of Russia were driving it, which simply meant that they had prevented his getting a better salary. And now he was considering what a new light to posterity this chapter would shed on events.

"Yes, certainly," he said, in reply to the words addressed to him by Wolf, without listening to them.

Bay was listening to Wolf with a sad face and drawing a garland on the paper that lay before him. Bay was a Liberal of the very first water. He held sacred the Liberal traditions of the sixth decade of this century, and if he ever overstepped the limits of strict neutrality it was always in the direction of Liberalism. So in this case; beside the fact that the swindling director, who was prosecuting for libel, was a bad lot, the prosecution of a journalist for libel in itself tending, as it did, to restrict the freedom of the press, inclined Bay to reject the appeal.

When Wolf concluded his arguments Bay stopped drawing his garland and began in a sad and gentle voice (he was sad because he was obliged to demonstrate such truisms) concisely, simply and convincingly to show how unfounded the accusation was, and then, bending his white head, he continued drawing his garland.

Skovorodnikoff, who sat opposite Wolf, and, with his fat fingers, kept shoving his beard and moustaches into his mouth, stopped chewing his beard as soon as Bay was silent, and said with a loud, grating voice, that, notwithstanding the fact of the director being a terrible scoundrel, he would have been for the repeal of the sentence if there were any legal reasons for it; but, as there were none, he was of Bay's opinion. He was glad to put this spoke in Wolf's wheel.

The chairman agreed with Skovorodnikoff, and the appeal was rejected.

Wolf was dissatisfied, especially because it was like being caught acting with dishonest partiality; so he pretended to be indifferent, and, unfolding the document which contained Maslova's case, he became engrossed in it. Meanwhile the Senators rang and ordered tea, and began talking about the event that, together with the duel, was occupying the Petersburgers.

It was the case of the chief of a Government department, who was accused of the crime provided for in Statute 995.

"What nastiness," said Bay, with disgust.

"Why; where is the harm of it? I can show you a Russian book containing the project of a German writer, who openly proposes that it should not be considered a crime," said Skovorodnikoff, drawing in greedily the fumes of the crumpled cigarette, which he held between his fingers close to the palm, and he laughed boisterously.

"Impossible!" said Bay.

I shall show it you," said Skovorodnikoff, giving the full title of the book, and even its date and the name of its editor.

"I hear he has been appointed governor to some town in Siberia."

"That's fine. The archdeacon will meet him with a crucifix. They ought to appoint an archdeacon of the same sort," said Skovorodnikoff. "I could recommend them one," and he threw the end of his cigarette into his saucer, and again shoved as much of his beard and moustaches as he could into his mouth and began chewing them.

The usher came in and reported the advocate's and Nekhludoff's desire to be present at the examination of Maslova's case.

"This case," Wolf said, "is quite romantic," and he told them what he knew about Nekhludoff's relations with Maslova. When they had spoken a little about it and finished their tea and cigarettes, the Senators returned into the Senate Chamber and proclaimed their decision in the libel case, and began to hear Maslova's case.

Wolf, in his thin voice, reported Maslova's appeal very fully, but again not without some bias and an evident wish for the repeal of the sentence.

"Have you anything to add?" the chairman said, turning to Fanarin. Fanarin rose, and standing with his broad white chest expanded, proved point by point, with wonderful exactness and persuasiveness, how the Court had in six points strayed from the exact meaning of the law; and besides this he touched, though briefly, on the merits of the case, and on the crying injustice of the sentence. The tone of his speech was one of apology to the Senators, who, with their penetration and judicial wisdom, could not help seeing and understanding it all better than he could. He was obliged to speak only because the duty he had undertaken forced him to do so.

After Fanarin's speech one might have thought that there could not remain the least doubt that the Senate ought to repeal the decision of the Court. When he had finished his speech, Fanarin looked round with a smile of triumph, seeing which Nekhludoff felt certain that the case was won. But when he looked at the Senators he saw that Fanarin smiled and triumphed all alone. The Senators and the Public Prosecutor did not smile nor triumph, but looked like people wearied, and who were thinking "We have often heard the like of you; it is all in vain," and were only too glad when he stopped and ceased uselessly detaining them there. Immediately after the end of the advocate's speech the chairman turned to the Public Prosecutor. Selenin briefly and clearly expressed himself in favour of leaving the decision of the Court unaltered, as he considered all the reasons for appealing inadequate. After this the Senators went out into the debating-room. They were divided in their opinions. Wolf was in favour of altering the decision. Bay, when he had understood the case, took up the same side with fervour, vividly presenting the scene at the court to his companions as he clearly saw it himself. Nikitin, who always was on the side of severity and formality, took up the other side. All depended on Skovorodnikoff's vote, and he voted for rejecting the appeal, because Nekhludoff's determination to marry the woman on moral grounds was extremely repugnant to him.

Skovorodnikoff was a materialist, a Darwinian, and counted every manifestation of abstract morality, or, worse still, religion, not only as a despicable folly, but as a personal affront to himself. All this bother about a prostitute, and the presence of a celebrated advocate and Nekhludoff in the Senate were in the highest degree repugnant to him. So he shoved his beard into his mouth and made faces, and very skilfully pretended to know nothing of this case, excepting that the reasons for an appeal were insufficient, and that he, therefore, agreed with the chairman to leave the decision of the Court unaltered.

So the sentence remained unrepealed.

BOOK II.

CHAPTER XXII.


AN OLD FRIEND.

"Terrible," said Nekhludoff, as he went out into the waiting-room with the advocate, who was arranging the papers in his portfolio. "In a matter which is perfectly clear they attach all the importance to the form and reject the appeal. Terrible!"

"The case was spoiled in the Criminal Court," said the advocate.

"And Selenin, too, was in favour of the rejection. Terrible! terrible!" Nekhludoff repeated. "What is to be done now?"

"We will appeal to His Majesty, and you can hand in the petition yourself while you are here. I will write it for you."

At this moment little Wolf, with his stars and uniform, came out into the waiting-room and approached Nekhludoff. "It could not be helped, dear Prince. The reasons for an appeal were not sufficient," he said, shrugging his narrow shoulders and closing his eyes, and then he went his way.

After Wolf, Selenin came out too, having heard from the Senators that his old friend Nekhludoff was there.

"Well, I never expected to see you here," he said, coming up to Nekhludoff, and smiling only with his lips while his eyes remained sad. "I did not know you were in Petersburg."

"And I did not know you were Public Prosecutor-in-Chief."

"How is it you are in the Senate?" asked Selenin. "I had heard, by the way, that you were in Petersburg. But what are you doing here?"

"Here? I am here because I hoped to find justice and save a woman innocently condemned."

"What woman?"

"The one whose case has just been decided."

"Oh! Maslova's case," said Selenin, suddenly remembering it. "The appeal had no grounds whatever."

"It is not the appeal; it's the woman who is innocent, and is being punished."

Selenin sighed. "That may well be, but----'

"Not MAY BE, but is."

"How do you know?"

"Because I was on the jury. I know how we made the mistake."

"Selenin became thoughtful. "You should have made a statement at the time," he said.

"I did make the statement."

"It should have been put down in an official report. If this had been added to the petition for the appeal--"

"Yes, but still, as it is, the verdict is evidently absurd."

"The Senate has no right to say so. If the Senate took upon itself to repeal the decision of the law courts according to its own views as to the justice of the decisions in themselves, the verdict of the jury would lose all its meaning, not to mention that the Senate would have no basis to go upon, and would run the risk of infringing justice rather than upholding it," said Selenin, calling to mind the case that had just been heard.

"All I know is that this woman is quite innocent, and that the last hope of saying her from an unmerited punishment is gone. The grossest injustice has been confirmed by the highest court."

"It has not been confirmed. The Senate did not and cannot enter into the merits of the case in itself," said Selenin. Always busy and rarely going out into society, he had evidently heard nothing of Nekhludoff's romance. Nekhludoff noticed it, and made up his mind that it was best to say nothing about his special relations with Maslova.

"You are probably staying with your aunt," Selenin remarked, apparently wishing to change the subject. "She told me you were here yesterday, and she invited me to meet you in the evening, when some foreign preacher was to lecture," and Selenin again smiled only with his lips.

"Yes, I was there, but left in disgust," said Nekhludoff angrily, vexed that Selenin had changed the subject.

"Why with disgust? After all, it is a manifestation of religious feeling, though one-sided and sectarian," said Selenin.

"Why, it's only some kind of whimsical folly."

"Oh, dear, no. The curious thing is that we know the teaching of our church so little that we see some new kind of revelation in what are, after all, our own fundamental dogmas," said Selenin, as if hurrying to let his old friend know his new views.

Nekhludoff looked at Selenin scrutinisingly and with surprise, and Selenin dropped his eyes, in which appeared an expression not only of sadness but also of ill-will.

"Do you, then, believe in the dogmas of the church?" Nekhludoff asked.

"Of course I do," replied Selenin, gazing straight into Nekhludoff's eyes with a lifeless look.

Nekhludoff sighed. "It is strange," he said.

"However, we shall have a talk some other time," said Selenin. "I am coming," he added, in answer to the usher, who had respectfully approached him. "Yes, we must meet again," he went on with a sigh. "But will it be possible for me to find you? You will always find me in at seven o'clock. My address is Nadejdinskaya," and he gave the number. "Ah, time does not stand still," and he turned to go, smiling only with his lips.

"I will come if I can," said Nekhludoff, feeling that a man once near and dear to him had, by this brief conversation, suddenly become strange, distant, and incomprehensible, if not hostile to him.

BOOK II.

CHAPTER XXIII.


THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR.

When Nekhludoff knew Selenin as a student, he was a good son, a true friend, and for his years an educated man of the world, with much tact; elegant, handsome, and at the same time truthful and honest. He learned well, without much exertion and with no pedantry, receiving gold medals for his essays. He considered the service of mankind, not only in words but in acts, to be the aim of his young life. He saw no other way of being useful to humanity than by serving the State. Therefore, as soon as he had completed his studies, he systematically examined all the activities to which he might devote his life, and decided to enter the Second Department of the Chancellerie, where the laws are drawn up, and he did so. But, in spite of the most scrupulous and exact discharge of the duties demanded of him, this service gave no satisfaction to his desire of being useful, nor could he awake in himself the consciousness that he was doing "the right thing."

This dissatisfaction was so much increased by the friction with his very small-minded and vain fellow officials that he left the Chancellerie and entered the Senate. It was better there, but the same dissatisfaction still pursued him; he felt it to be very different from what he had expected, and from what ought to be.

And now that he was in the Senate his relatives obtained for him the post of Gentleman of the Bedchamber, and he had to go in a carriage, dressed in an embroidered uniform and a white linen apron, to thank all sorts of people for having placed him in the position of a lackey. However much he tried he could find no reasonable explanation for the existence of this post, and felt, more than in the Senate, that it was not "the right thing," and yet he could not refuse it for fear of hurting those who felt sure they were giving him much pleasure by this appointment, and because it flattered the lowest part of his nature. It pleased him to see himself in a mirror in his gold-embroidered uniform, and to accept the deference paid him by some people because of his position.

Something of the same kind happened when he married. A very brilliant match, from a worldly point of view, was arranged for him, and he married chiefly because by refusing he would have had to hurt the young lady who wished to be married to him, and those who arranged the marriage, and also because a marriage with a nice young girl of noble birth flattered his vanity and gave him pleasure. But this marriage very soon proved to be even less "the right thing" than the Government service and his position at Court.

After the birth of her first child the wife decided to have no more, and began leading that luxurious worldly life in which he now had to participate whether he liked or not.

She was not particularly handsome, and was faithful to him, and she seemed, in spite of all the efforts it cost her, to derive nothing but weariness from the life she led, yet she perseveringly continued to live it, though it was poisoning her husband's life. And all his efforts to alter this life was shattered, as against a stone wall, by her conviction, which all her friends and relatives supported, that all was as it should be.

The child, a little girl with bare legs and long golden curls, was a being perfectly foreign to him, chiefly because she was trained quite otherwise than he wished her to be. There sprung up between the husband and wife the usual misunderstanding, without even the wish to understand each other, and then a silent warfare, hidden from outsiders and tempered by decorum. All this made his life at home a burden, and became even less "the right thing" than his service and his post.

But it was above all his attitude towards religion which was not "the right thing." Like every one of his set and his time, by the growth of his reason he broke without the least effort the nets of the religious superstitions in which he was brought up, and did not himself exactly know when it was that he freed himself of them. Being earnest and upright, he did not, during his youth and intimacy with Nekhludoff as a student, conceal his rejection of the State religion. But as years went on and he rose in the service, and especially at the time of the reaction towards conservatism in society, his spiritual freedom stood in his way.

At home, when his father died, he had to be present at the masses said for his soul, and his mother wished him to go to confession or to communion, and it was in a way expected, by public opinion, but above all, Government service demanded that he should be present at all sorts of services, consecrations, thanksgivings, and the like. Hardly a day passed without some outward religious form having to be observed.

When present at these services he had to pretend that he believed in something which he did not believe in, and being truthful he could not do this. The alternative was, having made up his mind that all these outward signs were deceitful, to alter his life in such a way that he would not have to be present at such ceremonials. But to do what seemed so simple would have cost a great deal. Besides encountering the perpetual hostility of all those who were near to him, he would have to give up the service and his position, and sacrifice his hopes of being useful to humanity by his service, now and in the future. To make such a sacrifice one would have to be firmly convinced of being right.

And he was firmly convinced he was right, as no educated man of our time can help being convinced who knows a little history and how the religions, and especially Church Christianity, originated.

But under the stress of his daily life he, a truthful man, allowed a little falsehood to creep in. He said that in order to do justice to an unreasonable thing one had to study the unreasonable thing. It was a little falsehood, but it sunk him into the big falsehood in which he was now caught.

Before putting to himself the question whether the orthodoxy in which he was born and bred, and which every one expected him to accept, and without which he could not continue his useful occupation, contained the truth, he had already decided the answer. And to clear up the question he did not read Voltaire, Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer, or Comte, but the philosophical works of Hegel and the religious works of Vinet and Khomyakoff, and naturally found in them what he wanted, i.e., something like peace of mind and a vindication of that religious teaching in which he was educated, which his reason had long ceased to accept, but without which his whole life was filled with unpleasantness which could all be removed by accepting the teaching.

And so he adopted all the usual sophistries which go to prove that a single human reason cannot know the truth, that the truth is only revealed to an association of men, and can only be known by revelation, that revelation is kept by the church, etc. And so he managed to be present at prayers, masses for the dead, to confess, make signs of the cross in front of icons, with a quiet mind, without being conscious of the lie, and to continue in the service which gave him the feeling of being useful and some comfort in his joyless family life. Although he believed this, he felt with his entire being that this religion of his, more than all else, was not "the right thing," and that is why his eyes always looked sad.

And seeing Nekhludoff, whom he had known before all these lies had rooted themselves within him, reminded him of what he then was. It was especially after he had hurried to hint at his religious views that he had most strongly felt all this "not the right thing," and had become painfully sad. Nekhludoff felt it also after the first joy of meeting his old friend had passed, and therefore, though they promised each other to meet, they did not take any steps towards an interview, and did not again see each other during this stay of Nekhludoff's in Petersburg.

BOOK II.

CHAPTER XXIV.


MARIETTE TEMPTS NEKHLUDOFF.

When they left the Senate, Nekhludoff and the advocate walked on together, the advocate having given the driver of his carriage orders to follow them. The advocate told Nekhludoff the story of the chief of a Government department, about whom the Senators had been talking: how the thing was found out, and how the man, who according to law should have been sent to the mines, had been appointed Governor of a town in Siberia. Then he related with particular pleasure how several high-placed persons stole a lot of money collected for the erection of the still unfinished monument which they had passed that morning; also, how the mistress of So-and-so got a lot of money at the Stock Exchange, and how So-and-so agreed with So-and-so to sell him his wife. The advocate began another story about a swindle, and all sorts of crimes committed by persons in high places, who, instead of being in prison, sat on presidential chairs in all sorts of Government institutions. These tales, of which the advocate seemed to have an unending supply, gave him much pleasure, showing as they did, with perfect clearness, that his means of getting money were quite just and innocent compared to the means which the highest officials in Petersburg made use of. The advocate was therefore surprised when Nekhludoff took an isvostchik before hearing the end of the story, said good-bye, and left him. Nekhludoff felt very sad. It was chiefly the rejection of the appeal by the Senate, confirming the senseless torments that the innocent Maslova was enduring, that saddened him, and also the fact that this rejection made it still harder for him to unite his fate with hers. The stories about existing evils, which the advocate recounted with such relish, heightened his sadness, and so did the cold, unkind look that the once sweet-natured, frank, noble Selenin had given him, and which kept recurring to his mind.

On his return the doorkeeper handed him a note, and said, rather scornfully, that some kind of woman had written it in the hall. It was a note from Shoustova's mother. She wrote that she had come to thank her daughter's benefactor and saviour, and to implore him to come to see them on the Vasilievsky, Sth Line, house No. --. This was very necessary because of Vera Doukhova. He need not be afraid that they would weary him with expressions of gratitude. They would not speak their gratitude, but be simply glad to see him. Would he not come next morning, if he could?

There was another note from Bogotyreff, a former fellow-officer, aide-de-camp to the Emperor, whom Nekhludoff had asked to hand personally to the Emperor his petition on behalf of the sectarians. Bogotyreff wrote, in his large, firm hand, that he would put the petition into the Emperor's own hands, as he had promised; but that it had occurred to him that it might be better for Nekhludoff first to go and see the person on whom the matter depended.

After the impressions received during the last few days, Nekhludoff felt perfectly hopeless of getting anything done. The plans he had formed in Moscow seemed now something like the dreams of youth, which are inevitably followed by disillusion when life comes to be faced. Still, being now in Petersburg, he considered it his duty to do all he had intended, and he resolved next day, after consulting Bogotyreff, to act on his advice and see the person on whom the case of the sectarians depended.

He got out the sectarians' petition from his portfolio, and began reading it over, when there was a knock at his door, and a footman came in with a message from the Countess Katerina Ivanovna, who asked him to come up and have a cup of tea with her.

Nekhludoff said he would come at once, and having put the papers back into the portfolio, he went up to his aunt's. He looked out of a window on his way, and saw Mariette's pair of bays standing in front of the house, and he suddenly brightened and felt inclined to smile.

Mariette, with a hat on her head, not in black but with a light dress of many shades, sat with a cup in her hand beside the Countess's easy chair, prattling about something while her beautiful, laughing eyes glistened. She had said something funny--something indecently funny--just as Nekhludoff entered the room. He knew it by the way she laughed, and by the way the good-natured Countess Katerina Ivanovna's fat body was shaking with laughter; while Mariette, her smiling mouth slightly drawn to one side, her head a little bent, a peculiarly mischievous expression in her merry, energetic face, sat silently looking at her companion. From a few words which he overheard, Nekhludoff guessed that they were talking of the second piece of Petersburg news, the episode of the Siberian Governor, and that it was in reference to this subject that Mariette had said something so funny that the Countess could not control herself for a long time.

"You will kill me," she said, coughing.

After saying "How d'you do?" Nekhludoff sat down. He was about to censure Mariette in his mind for her levity when, noticing the serious and even slightly dissatisfied look in his eyes, she suddenly, to please him, changed not only the expression of her face, but also the attitude of her mind; for she felt the wish to please him as soon as she looked at him. She suddenly turned serious, dissatisfied with her life, as if seeking and striving after something; it was not that she pretended, but she really reproduced in herself the very same state of mind that he was in, although it would have been impossible for her to express in words what was the state of Nekhludoff's mind at that moment.

She asked him how he had accomplished his tasks. He told her about his failure in the Senate and his meeting Selenin.

"Oh, what a pure soul! He is, indeed, a chevalier sans peur et sans reproche. A pure soul!" said both ladies, using the epithet commonly applied to Selenin in Petersburg society.

"What is his wife like?" Nekhludoff asked.

"His wife? Well, I do not wish to judge, but she does not understand him."

"Is it possible that he, too, was for rejecting the appeal? Mariette asked with real sympathy. "It is dreadful. How sorry I am for her," she added with a sigh.

He frowned, and in order to change the subject began to speak about Shoustova, who had been imprisoned in the fortress and was now set free through the influence of Mariette's husband. He thanked her for her trouble, and was going on to say how dreadful he thought it, that this woman and the whole of her family had suffered merely, because no one had reminded the authorities about them, but Mariette interrupted him and expressed her own indignation.

"Say nothing about it to me," she said. "When my husband told me she could be set free, it was this that struck me, 'What was she kept in prison for if she is innocent?'" She went on expressing what Nekhludoff was about to say.

"It is revolting--revolting."

Countess Katerina Ivanovna noticed that Mariette was coquetting with her nephew, and this amused her. "What do you think?" she said, when they were silent. "Supposing you come to Aline's to-morrow night. Kiesewetter will be there. And you, too," she said, turning to Mariette. "Il vous a remarque," she went on to her nephew. "He told me that what you say (I repeated it all to him) is a very good sign, and that you will certainly come to Christ. You must come absolutely. Tell him to, Mariette, and come yourself."

"Countess, in the first place, I have no right whatever to give any kind of advice to the Prince," said Mariette, and gave Nekhludoff a look that somehow established a full comprehension between them of their attitude in relation to the Countess's words and evangelicalism in general. "Secondly, I do not much care, you know."

Yes, I know you always do things the wrong way round, and according to your own ideas."

"My own ideas? I have faith like the most simple peasant woman," said Mariette with a smile. "And, thirdly, I am going to the French Theatre to-morrow night."

"Ah! And have you seen that--What's her name?" asked Countess Katerina Ivanovna. Mariette gave the name of a celebrated French actress.

"You must go, most decidedly; she is wonderful."

"Whom am I to see first, ma tante--the actress or the preacher?" Nekhludoff said with a smile.

"Please don't catch at my words."

"I should think the preacher first and then the actress, or else the desire for the sermon might vanish altogether," said Nekhludoff.

"No; better begin with the French Theatre, and do penance afterwards."

"Now, then, you are not to hold me up for ridicule. The preacher is the preacher and the theatre is the theatre. One need not weep in order to be saved. One must have faith, and then one is sure to be gay."

"You, ma tante, preach better than any preacher."

"Do you know what?" said Mariette. "Come into my box to-morrow."

"I am afraid I shall not be able to."

The footman interrupted the conversation by announcing a visitor. It was the secretary of a philanthropic society of which the Countess was president.

"Oh, that is the dullest of men. I think I shall receive him out there, and return to you later on. Mariette, give him his tea," said the Countess, and left the room, with her quick, wriggling walk.

Mariette took the glove off her firm, rather flat hand, the fourth finger of which was covered with rings.

"Want any?" she said, taking hold of the silver teapot, under which a spirit lamp was burning, and extending her little finger curiously. Her face looked sad and serious.

"It is always terribly painful to me to notice that people whose opinion I value confound me with the position I am placed in." She seemed ready to cry as she said these last words. And though these words had no meaning, or at any rate a very indefinite meaning, they seemed to be of exceptional depth, meaning, or goodness to Nekhludoff, so much was he attracted by the look of the bright eyes which accompanied the words of this young, beautiful, and well-dressed woman.

Nekhludoff looked at her in silence, and could not take his eyes from her face.

"You think I do not understand you and all that goes on in you. Why, everybody knows what you are doing. C'est le secret de polichinelle. And I am delighted with your work, and think highly of you."

"Really, there is nothing to be delighted with; and I have done so little as Yet."

"No matter. I understand your feelings, and I understand her. All right, all right. I will say nothing more about it," she said, noticing displeasure on his face. "But I also understand that after seeing all the suffering and the horror in the prisons," Mariette went on, her only desire that of attracting him, and guessing with her woman's instinct what was dear and important to him, "you wish to help the sufferers, those who are made to suffer so terribly by other men, and their cruelty and indifference. I understand the willingness to give one's life, and could give mine in such a cause, but we each have our own fate."

"Are you, then, dissatisfied with your fate?"

"I?" she asked, as if struck with surprise that such a question could be put to her. "I have to be satisfied, and am satisfied. But there is a worm that wakes up--"

"And he must not be allowed to fall asleep again. It is a voice that must he obeyed," Nekhludoff said, failing into the trap.

Many a time later on Nekhludoff remembered with shame his talk with her. He remembered her words, which were not so much lies as imitations of his own, and her face, which seemed looking at him with sympathetic attention when he told her about the terrors of the prison and of his impressions in the country.

When the Countess returned they were talking not merely like old, but like exclusive friends who alone understood one another. They were talking about the injustice of power, of the sufferings of the unfortunate, the poverty of the people, yet in reality in the midst of the sound of their talk their eyes, gazing at each other, kept asking, "Can you love me?" and answering, "I can," and the sex-feeling, taking the most unexpected and brightest forms, drew them to each other. As she was going away she told him that she would always he willing to serve him in any way she could, and asked him to come and see her, if only for a moment, in the theatre next day, as she had a very important thing to tell him about.

"Yes, and when shall I see you again?" she added, with a sigh, carefully drawing the glove over her jewelled hand.

"Say you will come."

Nekhludoff promised.

That night, when Nekhludoff was alone in his room, and lay down after putting out his candle, he could not sleep. He thought of Maslova, of the decision of the Senate, of his resolve to follow her in any case, of his having given up the land. The face of Mariette appeared to him as if in answer to those thoughts--her look, her sigh, her words, "When shall I see you again?" and her smile seemed vivid as if he really saw her, and he also smiled. "Shall I be doing right in going to Siberia? And have I done right in divesting myself of my wealth?" And the answers to the questions on this Petersburg night, on which the daylight streamed into the window from under the blind, were quite indefinite. All seemed mixed in his head. He recalled his former state of mind, and the former sequence of his thoughts, but they had no longer their former power or validity.

"And supposing I have invented all this, and am unable to live it through--supposing I repent of having acted right," he thought; and unable to answer he was seized with such anguish and despair as he had long not felt. Unable to free himself from his perplexity, he fell into a heavy sleep, such as he had slept after a heavy loss at cards.

BOOK II.

CHAPTER XXV.


LYDIA SHOUSTOVA'S HOME.

Nekhludoff awoke next morning feeling as if he had been guilty of some iniquity the day before. He began considering. He could not remember having done anything wrong; he had committed no evil act, but he had had evil thoughts. He had thought that all his present resolutions to marry Katusha and to give up his land were unachievable dreams; that he should be unable to bear it; that it was artificial, unnatural; and that he would have to go on living as he lived.

He had committed no evil action, but, what was far worse than an evil action, he had entertained evil thoughts whence all evil actions proceed. An evil action may not be repeated, and can be repented of; but evil thoughts generate all evil actions.

An evil action only smooths the path for other evil acts; evil thoughts uncontrollably drag one along that path.

When Nekhludoff repeated in his mind the thoughts of the day before, he was surprised that he could for a moment have believed these thoughts. However new and difficult that which he had decided to do might be, he knew that it was the only possible way of life for him now, and however easy and natural it might have been to return to his former state, he knew that state to be death.

Yesterday's temptation seemed like the feeling when one awakes from deep sleep, and, without feeling sleepy, wants to lie comfortably in bed a little longer, yet knows that it is time to rise and commence the glad and important work that awaits one.

On that, his last day in Petersburg, he went in the morning to the Vasilievski Ostrov to see Shoustova. Shoustova lived on the second floor, and having been shown the back stairs, Nekhludoff entered straight into the hot kitchen, which smelt strongly of food. An elderly woman, with turned-up sleeves, with an apron and spectacles, stood by the fire stirring something in a steaming pan.

"Whom do you want?" she asked severely, looking at him over her spectacles.

Before Nekhludoff had time to answer, an expression of fright and joy appeared on her face.

"Oh, Prince!" she exclaimed, wiping her hands on her apron. "But why have you come the back way? Our Benefactor! I am her mother. They have nearly killed my little girl. You have saved us," she said, catching hold of Nekhludoff's hand and trying to kiss it.

"I went to see you yesterday. My sister asked me to. She is here. This way, this way, please," said Shoustova's mother, as she led the way through a narrow door, and a dark passage, arranging her hair and pulling at her tucked-up skirt. "My sister's name is Kornilova. You must have heard of her," she added, stopping before a closed door. "She was mixed up in a political affair. An extremely clever woman!"

Shoustova's mother opened the door and showed Nekhludoff into a little room where on a sofa with a table before it sat a plump, short girl with fair hair that curled round her pale, round face, which was very like her mother's. She had a striped cotton blouse on.

Opposite her, in an armchair, leaning forward, so that he was nearly bent double, sat a young fellow with a slight, black beard and moustaches.

"Lydia, Prince Nekhludoff!" he said.

The pale girl jumped up, nervously pushing back a lock of hair behind her ear, and gazing at the newcomer with a frightened look in her large, grey eyes.

"So you are that dangerous woman whom Vera Doukhova wished me to intercede for?" Nekhludoff asked, with a smile.

"Yes, I am," said Lydia Shoustova, her broad, kind, child-like smile disclosing a row of beautiful teeth. "It was aunt who was so anxious to see you. Aunt!" she called out, in a pleasant, tender voice through a door.

"Your imprisonment grieved Vera Doukhova very much," said Nekhludoff.

"Take a seat here, or better here," said Shoustova, pointing to the battered easy-chair from which the young man had just risen.

"My cousin, Zakharov," she said, noticing that Nekhludoff looked at the young man.

The young man greeted the visitor with a smile as kindly as Shoustova's, and when Nekhludoff sat down he brought himself another chair, and sat by his side. A fair-haired schoolboy of about 10 also came into the room and silently sat down on the window-sill.

"Vera Doukhova is a great friend of my aunt's, but I hardly know her," said Shoustova.

Then a woman with a very pleasant face, with a white blouse and leather belt, came in from the next room.

"How do you do? Thanks for coming," she began as soon as she had taken the place next Shoustova's on the sofa.

"Well, and how is Vera. You have seen her? How does she bear her fate?"

"She does not complain," said Nekhludoff. "She says she feels perfectly happy."'

"Ah, that's like Vera. I know her," said the aunt, smiling and shaking her head. "One must know her. She has a fine character. Everything for others; nothing for herself."

"No, she asked nothing for herself, but only seemed concerned about your niece. What seemed to trouble her most was, as she said, that your niece was imprisoned for nothing."

"Yes, that's true," said the aunt. "It is a dreadful business. She suffered, in reality, because of me."

"Not at all, aunt. I should have taken the papers without you all the same.'

"Allow me to know better," said the aunt. "You see," she went on to Nekhludoff, "it all happened because a certain person asked me to keep his papers for a time, and I, having no house at the time, brought them to her. And that very night the police searched her room and took her and the papers, and have kept her up to now, demanding that she should say from whom she had them."

"But I never told them," said Shoustova quickly, pulling nervously at a lock that was not even out of place

"I never said you did" answered the aunt.

"If they took Mitin up it was certainly not through me," said Shoustova, blushing, and looking round uneasily.

"Don't speak about it, Lydia dear," said her mother.

"Why not? I should like to relate it," said Shoustova, no longer smiling nor pulling her lock, but twisting it round her finger and getting redder.

"Don't forget what happened yesterday when you began talking about it."

"Not at all---Leave me alone, mamma. I did not tell, I only kept quiet. When he examined me about Mitin and about aunt, I said nothing, and told him I would not answer."

"Then this--Petrov--"

"Petrov is a spy, a gendarme, and a blackguard," put in the aunt, to explain her niece's words to Nekhludoff.

"Then he began persuading," continued Shoustova, excitedly and hurriedly. "'Anything you tell me,' he said, 'can harm no one; on the contrary, if you tell me, we may be able to set free innocent people whom we may be uselessly tormenting.' Well, I still said I would not tell. Then he said, 'All right, don't tell, but do not deny what I am going to say.' And he named Mitin."

"Don't talk about it," said the aunt.

"Oh, aunt, don't interrupt," and she went on pulling the lock of hair and looking round. "And then, only fancy, the next day I hear--they let me know by knocking at the wall--that Mitin is arrested. Well, I think I have betrayed him, and this tormented me so--it tormented me so that I nearly went mad."

"And it turned out that it was not at all because of you he was taken up?"

"Yes, but I didn't know. I think, 'There, now, I have betrayed him.' I walk and walk up and down from wall to wall, and cannot help thinking. I think, 'I have betrayed him.' I lie down and cover myself up, and hear something whispering, 'Betrayed! betrayed Mitin! Mitin betrayed!' I know it is an hallucination, but cannot help listening. I wish to fall asleep, I cannot. I wish not to think, and cannot cease. That is terrible!" and as Shoustova spoke she got more and more excited, and twisted and untwisted the lock of hair round her finger.

"Lydia, dear, be calm," the mother said, touching her shoulder.

But Shoustova could not stop herself.

"It is all the more terrible--" she began again, but did not finish. and jumping up with a cry rushed out of the room

Her mother turned to follow her.

"They ought to be hanged, the rascals!" said the schoolboy who was sitting on the window-sill.

"What's that?" said the mother.

"I only said--Oh, it's nothing," the schoolboy answered, and taking a cigarette that lay on the table, he began to smoke.

BOOK II.

CHAPTER XXVI.


LYDIA'S AUNT.

"Yes, that solitary confinement is terrible for the young," said the aunt, shaking her head and also lighting a cigarette.

"I should say for every one," Nekhludoff replied.

"No, not for all," answered the aunt. "For the real revolutionists, I have been told, it is rest and quiet. A man who is wanted by the police lives in continual anxiety, material want, and fear for himself and others, and for his cause, and at last, when he is taken up and it is all over, and all responsibility is off his shoulders, he can sit and rest. I have been told they actually feel joyful when taken up. But the young and innocent (they always first arrest the innocent, like Lydia), for them the first shock is terrible. It is not that they deprive you of freedom; and the bad food and bad air--all that is nothing. Three times as many privations would be easily borne if it were not for the moral shock when one is first taken."

"Have you experienced it?"

"I? I was twice in prison," she answered, with a sad, gentle smile. "When I was arrested for the first time I had done nothing. I was 22, had a child, and was expecting another. Though the loss of freedom and the parting with my child and husband were hard, they were nothing when compared with what I felt when I found out that I had ceased being a human creature and had become a thing. I wished to say good-bye to my little daughter. I was told to go and get into the trap. I asked where I was being taken to. The answer was that I should know when I got there. I asked what I was accused of, but got no reply. After I had been examined, and after they had undressed me and put numbered prison clothes on me, they led me to a vault, opened a door, pushed me in, and left me alone; a sentinel, with a loaded gun, paced up and down in front of my door, and every now and then looked in through a crack--I felt terribly depressed. What struck me most at the time was that the gendarme officer who examined me offered me a cigarette. So he knew that people liked smoking, and must know that they liked freedom and light; and that mothers love their children, and children their mothers. Then how could they tear me pitilessly from all that was dear to me, and lock me up in prison like a wild animal? That sort of thing could not be borne without evil effects. Any one who believes in God and men, and believes that men love one another, will cease to believe it after all that. I have ceased to believe in humanity since then, and have grown embittered," she finished, with a smile.

Shoustova's mother came in at the door through which her daughter had gone out, and said that Lydia was very much upset, and would not come in again.

"And what has this young life been ruined for?" said the aunt. "What is especially painful to me is that I am the involuntary cause of it."

"She will recover in the country, with God's help," said the mother. "We shall send her to her father."

"Yes, if it were not for you she would have perished altogether," said the aunt. "Thank you. But what I wished to see you for is this: I wished to ask you to take a letter to Vera Doukhova," and she got the letter out of her pocket.

"The letter is not closed; you may read and tear it up, or hand it to her, according to how far it coincides with your principles," she said. "It contains nothing compromising."

Nekhludoff took the letter, and, having promised to give it to Vera Doukhova, he took his leave and went away. He scaled the letter without reading it, meaning to take it to its destination.

BOOK II.

CHAPTER XXVII.


THE STATE CHURCH AND THE PEOPLE.

The last thing that kept Nekhludoff in Petersburg was the case of the sectarians, whose petition he intended to get his former fellow-officer, Aide-de-camp Bogatyreff, to hand to the Tsar. He came to Bogatyreff in the morning, and found him about to go out, though still at breakfast. Bogatyreff was not tall, but firmly built and wonderfully strong (he could bend a horseshoe), a kind, honest, straight, and even liberal man. In spite of these qualities, he was intimate at Court, and very fond of the Tsar and his family, and by some strange method he managed, while living in that highest circle, to see nothing but the good in it and to take no part in the evil and corruption. He never condemned anybody nor any measure, and either kept silent or spoke in a bold, loud voice, almost shouting what he had to say, and often laughing in the same boisterous manner. And he did not do it for diplomatic reasons, but because such was his character.

"Ah, that's right that you have come. Would you like some breakfast? Sit down, the beefsteaks are fine! I always begin with something substantial--begin and finish, too. Ha! ha! ha! Well, then, have a glass of wine," he shouted, pointing to a decanter of claret. "I have been thinking of you. I will hand on the petition. I shall put it into his own hands. You may count on that, only it occurred to me that it would be best for you to call on Toporoff."

Nekhludoff made a wry face at the mention of Toporoff.

"It all depends on him. He will be consulted, anyhow. And perhaps he may himself meet your wishes."

"If you advise it I shall go."

"That's right. Well, and how does Petersburg agree with you?" shouted Bogatyreff. "Tell me. Eh?"

"I feel myself getting hypnotised," replied Nekhludoff.

"Hypnotised!" Bogatyreff repeated, and burst out laughing. "You won't have anything? Well, just as you please," and he wiped his moustaches with his napkin. "Then you'll go? Eh? If he does not do it, give the petition to me, and I shall hand it on to-morrow." Shouting these words, he rose, crossed himself just as naturally as he had wiped his mouth, and began buckling on his sword.

"And now good-bye; I must go. We are both going out," said Nekhludoff, and shaking Bogatyreff's strong, broad hand, and with the sense of pleasure which the impression of something healthy and unconsciously fresh always gave him, Nekhludoff parted from Bogatyreff on the door-steps.

Though he expected no good result from his visit, still Nekhludoff, following Bogatyreff's advice, went to see Toporoff, on whom the sectarians' fate depended.

The position occupied by Toporoff, involving as it did an incongruity of purpose, could only be held by a dull man devoid of moral sensibility. Toporoff possessed both these negative qualities. The incongruity of the position he occupied was this. It was his duty to keep up and to defend, by external measures, not excluding violence, that Church which, by its own declaration, was established by God Himself and could not be shaken by the gates of hell nor by anything human. This divine and immutable God-established institution had to be sustained and defended by a human institution--the Holy Synod, managed by Toporoff and his officials. Toporoff did not see this contradiction, nor did he wish to see it, and he was therefore much concerned lest some Romish priest, some pastor, or some sectarian should destroy that Church which the gates of hell could not conquer.

Toporoff, like all those who are quite destitute of the fundamental religious feeling that recognises the equality and brotherhood of men, was fully convinced that the common people were creatures entirely different from himself, and that the people needed what he could very well do without, for at the bottom of his heart he believed in nothing, and found such a state very convenient and pleasant. Yet he feared lest the people might also come to such a state, and looked upon it as his sacred duty, as he called it, to save the people therefrom.

A certain cookery book declares that some crabs like to be boiled alive. In the same way he thought and spoke as if the people liked being kept in superstition; only he meant this in a literal sense, whereas the cookery book did not mean its words literally.

His feelings towards the religion he was keeping up were the same as those of the poultry-keeper towards the carrion he fed his fowls on. Carrion was very disgusting, but the fowls liked it; therefore it was right to feed the fowls on carrion. Of course all this worship of the images of the Iberian, Kasan and Smolensk Mothers of God was a gross superstition, but the people liked it and believed in it, and therefore the superstition must be kept up.

Thus thought Toporoff, not considering that the people only liked superstition because there always have been, and still are, men like himself who, being enlightened, instead of using their light to help others to struggle out of their dark ignorance, use it to plunge them still deeper into it.

When Nekhludoff entered the reception-room Toporoff was in his study talking with an abbess, a lively and aristocratic lady, who was spreading the Greek orthodox faith in Western Russia among the Uniates (who acknowledge the Pope of Rome), and who have the Greek religion enforced on them. An official who was in the reception-room inquired what Nekhludoff wanted, and when he heard that Nekhludoff meant to hand in a petition to the Emperor, he asked him if he would allow the petition to be read first. Nekhludoff gave it him, and the official took it into the study. The abbess, with her hood and flowing veil and her long train trailing behind, left the study and went out, her white hands (with their well-tended nails) holding a topaz rosary. Nekhludoff was not immediately asked to come in. Toporoff was reading the petition and shaking his head. He was unpleasantly surprised by the clear and emphatic wording of it.

"If it gets into the hands of the Emperor it may cause misunderstandings, and unpleasant questions may be asked," he thought as he read. Then he put the petition on the table, rang, and ordered Nekhludoff to be asked in.

He remembered the case of the sectarians; he had had a petition from them before. The case was this: These Christians, fallen away from the Greek Orthodox Church, were first exhorted and then tried by law, but were acquitted. Then the Archdeacon and the Governor arranged, on the plea that their marriages were illegal, to exile these sectarians, separating the husbands, wives, and children. These fathers and wives were now petitioning that they should not he parted. Toporoff recollected the first time the case came to his notice: he had at that time hesitated whether he had not better put a stop to it. But then he thought no harm could result from his confirming the decision to separate and exile the different members of the sectarian families, whereas allowing the peasant sect to remain where it was might have a bad effect on the rest of the inhabitants of the place and cause them to fall away from Orthodoxy. And then the affair also proved the zeal of the Archdeacon, and so he let the case proceed along the lines it had taken. But now that they had a defender such as Nekhludoff, who had some influence in Petersburg, the case might be specially pointed out to the Emperor as something cruel, or it might get into the foreign papers. Therefore he at once took an unexpected decision.

"How do you do?" he said, with the air of a very busy man, receiving Nekhludoff standing, and at once starting on the business. "I know this case. As soon as I saw the names I recollected this unfortunate business," he said, taking up the petition and showing it to Nekhludoff. "And I am much indebted to you for reminding me of it. It is the over-zealousness of the provincial authorities."

Nekhludoff stood silent, looking with no kindly feelings at the immovable, pale mask of a face before him.

"And I shall give orders that these measures should he revoked and the people reinstated in their homes."

"So that I need not make use of this petition?"

"I promise you most assuredly," answered Toporoff, laying a stress on the word I, as if quite convinced that his honesty, his word was the best guarantee. "It will be best if I write at once. Take a seat, please."

He went up to the table and began to write. As Nekhludoff sat down he looked at the narrow, bald skull, at the fat, blue-veined hand that was swiftly guiding the pen, and wondered why this evidently indifferent man was doing what he did and why he was doing it with such care.

"Well, here you are," said Toporoff, sealing the envelope; "you may let your clients know," and he stretched his lips to imitate a smile.

"Then what did these people suffer for?" Nekhludoff asked, as he took the envelope.

Toporoff raised his head and smiled, as if Nekhludoff's question gave him pleasure. "That I cannot tell. All I can say is that the interests of the people guarded by us are so important that too great a zeal in matters of religion is not so dangerous or so harmful as the indifference which is now spreading--"

"But how is it that in the name of religion the very first demands of righteousness are violated--families are separated?"

Toporoff continued to smile patronisingly, evidently thinking what Nekhludoff said very pretty. Anything that Nekhludoff could say he would have considered very pretty and very one-sided, from the height of what he considered his far-reaching office in the State.

"It may seem so from the point of view of a private individual," he said, "but from an administrative point of view it appears in a rather different light. However, I must bid you good-bye, now," said Toporoff, bowing his head and holding out his hand, which Nekhludoff pressed.

"The interests of the people! Your interests is what you mean!" thought Nekhludoff as he went out. And he ran over in his mind the people in whom is manifested the activity of the institutions that uphold religion and educate the people. He began with the woman punished for the illicit sale of spirits, the boy for theft, the tramp for tramping, the incendiary for setting a house on fire, the banker for fraud, and that unfortunate Lydia Shoustova imprisoned only because they hoped to get such information as they required from her. Then he thought of the sectarians punished for violating Orthodoxy, and Gourkevitch for wanting constitutional government, and Nekhludoff clearly saw that all these people were arrested, locked up, exiled, not really because they transgressed against justice or behaved unlawfully, but only because they were an obstacle hindering the officials and the rich from enjoying the property they had taken away from the people. And the woman who sold wine without having a license, and the thief knocking about the town, and Lydia Shoustova hiding proclamations, and the sectarians upsetting superstitions, and Gourkevitch desiring a constitution, were a real hindrance. It seemed perfectly clear to Nekhludoff that all these officials, beginning with his aunt's husband, the Senators, and Toporoff, down to those clean and correct gentlemen who sat at the tables in the Ministry Office, were not at all troubled by the fact that that in such a state of things the innocent had to suffer, but were only concerned how to get rid of the really dangerous, so that the rule that ten guilty should escape rather than that one innocent should be condemned was not observed, but, on the contrary, for the sake of getting rid of one really dangerous person, ten who seemed dangerous were punished, as, when cutting a rotten piece out of anything, one has to cut away some that is good.

This explanation seemed very simple and clear to Nekhludoff; but its very simplicity and clearness made him hesitate to accept it. Was it possible that so complicated a phenomenon could have so simple and terrible an explanation? Was it possible that all these words about justice, law, religion, and God, and so on, were mere words, hiding the coarsest cupidity and cruelty?

BOOK II.

CHAPTER XXVIII.


THE MEANING OF MARIETTE'S ATTRACTION.

Nekhludoff would have left Petersburg on the evening of the same day, but he had promised Mariette to meet her at the theatre, and though he knew that he ought not to keep that promise, he deceived himself into the belief that it would not be right to break his word.

"Am I capable of withstanding these temptations?" he asked himself not quite honestly. "I shall try for the last time."

He dressed in his evening clothes, and arrived at the theatre during the second act of the eternal Dame aux Camelias, in which a foreign actress once again, and in a novel manner, showed how women die of consumption.

The theatre was quite full. Mariette's box was at once, and with great deference, shown to Nekhludoff at his request. A liveried servant stood in the corridor outside; he bowed to Nekhludoff as to one whom he knew, and opened the door of the box.

All the people who sat and stood in the boxes on the opposite side, those who sat near and those who were in the parterre, with their grey, grizzly, bald, or curly heads--all were absorbed in watching the thin, bony actress who, dressed in silks and laces, was wriggling before them, and speaking in an unnatural voice.

Some one called "Hush!" when the door opened, and two streams, one of cool, the other of hot, air touched Nekhludoff's face.

Mariette and a lady whom he did not know, with a red cape and a big, heavy head-dress, were in the box, and two men also, Mariette's husband, the General, a tall, handsome man with a severe, inscrutable countenance, a Roman nose, and a uniform padded round the chest, and a fair man, with a bit of shaved chin between pompous whiskers.

Mariette, graceful, slight, elegant, her low-necked dress showing her firm, shapely, slanting shoulders, with a little black mole where they joined her neck, immediately turned, and pointed with her face to a chair behind her in an engaging manner, and smiled a smile that seemed full of meaning to Nekhludoff.

The husband looked at him in the quiet way in which he did everything, and bowed. In the look he exchanged with his wife, the master, the owner of a beautiful woman, was to be seen at once.

When the monologue was over the theatre resounded with the clapping of hands. Mariette rose, and holding up her rustling silk skirt, went into the back of the box and introduced Nekhludoff to her husband.

The General, without ceasing to smile with his eyes, said he was very pleased, and then sat inscrutably silent.

"I ought to have left to-day, had I not promised," said Nekhludoff to Mariette.

"If you do not care to see me," said Mariette, in answer to what his words implied, "you will see a wonderful actress. Was she not splendid in the last scene?" she asked, turning to her husband.

The husband bowed his head.

"This sort of thing does not touch me," said Nekhludoff. "I have seen so much real suffering lately that--"

"Yes, sit down and tell me."

The husband listened, his eyes smiling more and more ironically. "I have been to see that woman whom they have set free, and who has been kept in prison for so long; she is quite broken down."

"That is the woman I spoke to you about," Mariette said to her husband.

"Oh, yes, I was very pleased that she could be set free," said the husband quietly, nodding and smiling under his moustache with evident irony, so it seemed to Nekhludoff. "I shall go and have a smoke."

Nekhludoff sat waiting to hear what the something was that Mariette had to tell him. She said nothing, and did not even try to say anything, but joked and spoke about the performance, which she thought ought to touch Nekhludoff. Nekhludoff saw that she had nothing to tell, but only wished to show herself to him in all the splendour of her evening toilet, with her shoulders and little mole; and this was pleasant and yet repulsive to him.

The charm that had veiled all this sort of thing from Nekhludoff was not removed, but it was as if he could see what lay beneath. Looking at Mariette, he admired her, and yet he knew that she was a liar, living with a husband who was making his career by means of the tears and lives of hundreds and hundreds of people, and that she was quite indifferent about it, and that all she had said the day before was untrue. What she wanted--neither he nor she knew why--was to make him fall in love with her. This both attracted and disgusted him. Several times, on the point of going away, he took up his hat, and then stayed on.

But at last, when the husband returned with a strong smell of tobacco in his thick moustache, and looked at Nekhludoff with a patronising, contemptuous air, as if not recognising him, Nekhludoff left the box before the door was closed again, found his overcoat, and went out of the theatre. As he was walking home along the Nevski, he could not help noticing a well-shaped and aggressively finely-dressed woman, who was quietly walking in front of him along the broad asphalt pavement. The consciousness of her detestable power was noticeable in her face and the whole of her figure. All who met or passed that woman looked at her. Nekhludoff walked faster than she did and, involuntarily, also looked her in the face. The face, which was probably painted, was handsome, and the woman looked at him with a smile and her eyes sparkled. And, curiously enough, Nekhludoff was suddenly reminded of Mariette, because he again felt both attracted and disgusted just as when in the theatre.

Having hurriedly passed her, Nekhludoff turned off on to the Morskaya, and passed on to the embankment, where, to the surprise of a policeman, he began pacing up and down the pavement.

"The other one gave me just such a smile when I entered the theatre," he thought, "and the meaning of the smile was the same. The only difference is, that this one said plainly, 'If you want me, take me; if not, go your way,' and the other one pretended that she was not thinking of this, but living in some high and refined state, while this was really at the root. Besides, this one was driven to it by necessity, while the other amused herself by playing with that enchanting, disgusting, frightful passion. This woman of the street was like stagnant, smelling water offered to those whose thirst was greater than their disgust; that other one in the theatre was like the poison which, unnoticed, poisons everything it gets into."

Nekhludoff recalled his liaison with the Marechal's wife, and shameful memories rose before him.

"The animalism of the brute nature in man is disgusting," thought he, "but as long as it remains in its naked form we observe it from the height of our spiritual life and despise it; and--whether one has fallen or resisted--one remains what one was before. But when that same animalism hides under a cloak of poetry and aesthetic feeling and demands our worship--then we are swallowed up by it completely, and worship animalism, no longer distinguishing good from evil. Then it is awful."

Nekhludoff perceived all this now as clearly as he saw the palace, the sentinels, the fortress, the river, the boats, and the Stock Exchange. And just as on this northern summer night there was no restful darkness on the earth, but only a dismal, dull light coming from an invisible source, so in Nekhludoff's soul there was no longer the restful darkness, ignorance. Everything seemed clear. It was clear that everything considered important and good was insignificant and repulsive, and that all the glamour and luxury hid the old, well-known crimes, which not only remained unpunished but were adorned with all the splendour which men were capable of inventing.

Nekhludoff wished to forget all this, not to see it, but he could no longer help seeing it. Though he could not see the source of the light which revealed it to him any more than he could see the source of the light which lay over Petersburg; and though the light appeared to him dull, dismal, and unnatural, yet he could not help seeing what it revealed, and he felt both joyful and anxious.

BOOK II.

CHAPTER XXIX.


FOR HER SAKE AND FOR GOD'S.

On his return to Moscow Nekhludoff went at once to the prison hospital to bring Maslova the sad news that the Senate had confirmed the decision of the Court, and that she must prepare to go to Siberia. He had little hope of the success of his petition to the Emperor, which the advocate had written for him, and which he now brought with him for Maslova to sign. And, strange to say, he did not at present even wish to succeed; he had got used to the thought of going to Siberia and living among the exiled and the convicts, and he could not easily picture to himself how his life and Maslova's would shape if she were acquitted. He remembered the thought of the American writer, Thoreau, who at the time when slavery existed in America said that "under a government that imprisons any unjustly the true place for a just man is also a prison." Nekhludoff, especially after his visit to Petersburg and all he discovered there, thought in the same way.

"Yes, the only place befitting an honest man in Russia at the present time is a prison," he thought, and even felt that this applied to him personally, when he drove up to the prison and entered its walls.

The doorkeeper recognised Nekhludoff, and told him at once that Maslova was no longer there.

"Where is she, then?"

"In the cell again."

"Why has she been removed?" Nekhludoff asked.

"Oh, your excellency, what are such people?" said the doorkeeper, contemptuously. "She's been carrying on with the medical assistant, so the head doctor ordered her back."

Nekhludoff had had no idea how near Maslova and the state of her mind were to him. He was stunned by the news.

He felt as one feels at the news of a great and unforeseen misfortune, and his pain was very severe. His first feeling was one of shame. He, with his joyful idea of the change that he imagined was going on in her soul, now seemed ridiculous in his own eyes. He thought that all her pretence of not wishing to accept his sacrifice, all the reproaches and tears, were only the devices of a depraved woman, who wished to use him to the best advantage. He seemed to remember having seen signs of obduracy at his last interview with her. All this flashed through his mind as he instinctively put on his hat and left the hospital.

"What am I to do now? Am I still bound to her? Has this action of hers not set me free?" And as he put these questions to himself he knew at once that if he considered himself free, and threw her up, he would be punishing himself, and not her, which was what he wished to do, and he was seized with fear.

"No, what has happened cannot alter--it can only strengthen my resolve. Let her do what flows from the state her mind is in. If it is carrying on with the medical assistant, let her carry on with the medical assistant; that is her business. I must do what my conscience demands of me. And my conscience expects me to sacrifice my freedom. My resolution to marry her, if only in form, and to follow wherever she may be sent, remains unalterable." Nekhludoff said all this to himself with vicious obstinacy as he left the hospital and walked with resolute steps towards the big gates of the prison. He asked the warder on duty at the gate to inform the inspector that he wished to see Maslova. The warder knew Nekhludoff, and told him of an important change that had taken place in the prison. The old inspector had been discharged, and a new, very severe official appointed in his place.

"They are so strict nowadays, it's just awful," said the jailer. "He is in here; they will let him know directly."

The new inspector was in the prison and soon came to Nekhludoff. He was a tall, angular man, with high cheek bones, morose, and very slow in his movements.

"Interviews are allowed in the visiting room on the appointed days," he said, without looking at Nekhludoff.

"But I have a petition to the Emperor, which I want signed."

"You can give it to me."

"I must see the prisoner myself. I was always allowed to before."

"That was so, before," said the inspector, with a furtive glance at Nekhludoff.

"I have a permission from the governor," insisted Nekhludoff, and took out his pocket-book.

"Allow me," said the inspector, taking the paper from Nekhludoff with his long, dry, white fingers, on the first of which was a gold ring, still without looking him in the eyes. He read the paper slowly. "Step into the office, please."

This time the office was empty. The inspector sat down by the table and began sorting some papers that lay on it, evidently intending to be present at the interview.

When Nekhludoff asked whether he might see the political prisoner, Doukhova, the inspector answered, shortly, that he could not. "Interviews with political prisoners are not permitted," he said, and again fixed his attention on his papers. With a letter to Doukhova in his pocket, Nekhludoff felt as if he had committed some offence, and his plans had been discovered and frustrated.

When Maslova entered the room the inspector raised his head, and, without looking at either her or Nekhludoff, remarked: "You may talk," and went on sorting his papers. Maslova had again the white jacket, petticoat and kerchief on. When she came up to Nekhludoff and saw his cold, hard look, she blushed scarlet, and crumbling the hem of her jacket with her hand, she cast down her eyes. Her confusion, so it seemed to Nekhludoff, confirmed the hospital doorkeeper's words.

Nekhludoff had meant to treat her in the same way as before, but could not bring himself to shake hands with her, so disgusting was she to him now.

"I have brought you had news," he said, in a monotonous voice, without looking at her or taking her hand. "The Senate has refused."

"I knew it would," she said, in a strange tone, as if she were gasping for breath.

Formerly Nekhludoff would have asked why she said she knew it would; now he only looked at her. Her eyes were full of tears. But this did not soften him; it roused his irritation against her even more.

The inspector rose and began pacing up and down the room.

In spite of the disgust Nekhludoff was feeling at the moment, he considered it right to express his regret at the Senate's decision.

"You must not despair," he said. "The petition to the Emperor may meet with success, and I hope---"

"I'm not thinking of that," she said, looking piteously at him with her wet, squinting eyes.

"What is it, then?"

"You have been to the hospital, and they have most likely told you about me--"

"What of that? That is your affair," said Nekhludoff coldly, and frowned. The cruel feeling of wounded pride that had quieted down rose with renewed force when she mentioned the hospital.

"He, a man of the world, whom any girl of the best families would think it happiness to marry, offered himself as a husband to this woman, and she could not even wait, but began intriguing with the medical assistant," thought he, with a look of hatred.

"Here, sign this petition," he said, taking a large envelope from his pocket, and laying the paper on the table. She wiped the tears with a corner of her kerchief, and asked what to write and where.

He showed her, and she sat down and arranged the cuff of her right sleeve with her left hand; he stood behind her, and silently looked at her back, which shook with suppressed emotion, and evil and good feelings were fighting in his breast--feelings of wounded pride and of pity for her who was suffering--and the last feeling was victorious.

He could not remember which came first; did the pity for her first enter his heart, or did he first remember his own sins--his own repulsive actions, the very same for which he was condemning her? Anyhow, he both felt himself guilty and pitied her.

Having signed the petition and wiped her inky finger on her petticoat, she got up and looked at him.

"Whatever happens, whatever comes of it, my resolve remains unchanged," said Nekhludoff. The thought that he had forgiven her heightened his feeling of pity and tenderness for her, and he wished to comfort her. "I will do what I have said; wherever they take you I shall be with you."

"What's the use?" she interrupted hurriedly, though her whole face lighted up.

Think what you will want on the way--"

"I don't know of anything in particular, thank you."

The inspector came up, and without waiting for a remark from him Nekhludoff took leave, and went out with peace, joy, and love towards everybody in his heart such as he had never felt before. The certainty that no action of Maslova could change his love for her filled him with joy and raised him to a level which he had never before attained. Let her intrigue with the medical assistant; that was her business. He loved her not for his own but for her sake and for God's.

And this intrigue, for which Maslova was turned out of the hospital, and of which Nekhludoff believed she was really guilty, consisted of the following:

Maslova was sent by the head nurse to get some herb tea from the dispensary at the end of the corridor, and there, all alone, she found the medical assistant, a tall man, with a blotchy face, who had for a long time been bothering her. In trying to get away from him Maslova gave him such a push that he knocked his head against a shelf, from which two bottles fell and broke. The head doctor, who was passing at that moment, heard the sound of breaking glass, and saw Maslova run out, quite red, and shouted to her:

"Ah, my good woman, if you start intriguing here, I'll send you about your business. What is the meaning of it?" he went on, addressing the medical assistant, and looking at him over his spectacles.

The assistant smiled, and began to justify himself. The doctor gave no heed to him, but, lifting his head so that he now looked through his spectacles, he entered the ward. He told the inspector the same day to send another more sedate assistant-nurse in Maslova's place. And this was her "intrigue" with the medical assistant.

Being turned out for a love intrigue was particularly painful to Maslova, because the relations with men, which had long been repulsive to her, had become specially disgusting after meeting Nekhludoff. The thought that, judging her by her past and present position, every man, the blotchy assistant among them, considered he had a right to offend her, and was surprised at her refusal, hurt her deeply, and made her pity herself and brought tears to her eyes.

When she went out to Nekhludoff this time she wished to clear herself of the false charge which she knew he would certainly have heard about. But when she began to justify herself she felt he did not believe her, and that her excuses would only strengthen his suspicions; tears choked her, and she was silent.

Maslova still thought and continued to persuade herself that she had never forgiven him, and hated him, as she told him at their second interview, but in reality she loved him again, and loved him so that she did all he wished her to do; left off drinking, smoking, coquetting, and entered the hospital because she knew he wished it. And if every time he reminded her of it, she refused so decidedly to accept his sacrifice and marry him, it was because she liked repeating the proud words she had once uttered, and because she knew that a marriage with her would be a misfortune for him.

She had resolutely made up her mind that she would not accept his sacrifice, and yet the thought that he despised her and believed that she still was what she had been, and did not notice the change that had taken place in her, was very painful. That he could still think she had done wrong while in the hospital tormented her more than the news that her sentence was confirmed.

BOOK II.

CHAPTER XXX.


THE ASTONISHING INSTITUTION CALLED CRIMINAL LAW.

Maslova might be sent off with the first gang of prisoners, therefore Nekhludoff got ready for his departure. But there was so much to be done that he felt that he could not finish it, however much time he might have. It was quite different now from what it had been. Formerly he used to be obliged to look for an occupation, the interest of which always centred in one person, i.e., Dmitri Ivanovitch Nekhludoff, and yet, though every interest of his life was thus centred, all these occupations were very wearisome. Now all his occupations related to other people and not to Dmitri Ivanovitch, and they were all interesting and attractive, and there was no end to them. Nor was this all. Formerly Dmitri Ivanovitch Nekhludoff's occupations always made him feel vexed and irritable; now they produced a joyful state of mind. The business at present occupying Nekhludoff could be divided under three headings. He himself, with his usual pedantry, divided it in that way, and accordingly kept the papers referring to it in three different portfolios. The first referred to Maslova, and was chiefly that of taking steps to get her petition to the Emperor attended to, and preparing for her probable journey to Siberia.

The second was about his estates. In Panovo he had given the land to the peasants on condition of their paying rent to be put to their own communal use. But he had to confirm this transaction by a legal deed, and to make his will, in accordance with it. In Kousminski the state of things was still as he had first arranged it, i.e., he was to receive the rent; but the terms had to be fixed, and also how much of the money he would use to live on, and how much he would leave for the peasants' use. As he did not know what his journey to Siberia would cost him, he could not decide to lose this revenue altogether, though he reduced the income from it by half.

The third part of his business was to help the convicts, who applied more and more often to him. At first when he came in contact with the prisoners, and they appealed to him for help, he at once began interceding for them, hoping to lighten their fate, but he soon had so many applications that he felt the impossibility of attending to all of them, and that naturally led him to take up another piece of work, which at last roused his interest even more than the three first. This new part of his business was finding an answer to the following questions: What was this astonishing institution called criminal law, of which the results were that in the prison, with some of the inmates of which he had lately become acquainted, and in all those other places of confinement, from the Peter and Paul Fortress in Petersburg to the island of Sakhalin, hundreds and thousands of victims were pining? What did this strange criminal law exist for? How had it originated?

From his personal relations with the prisoners, from notes by some of those in confinement, and by questioning the advocate and the prison priest, Nekhludoff came to the conclusion that the convicts, the so-called criminals, could be divided into five classes. The first were quite innocent people, condemned by judicial blunder. Such were the Menshoffs, supposed to be incendiaries, Maslova, and others. There were not many of these; according to the priest's words, only seven per cent., but their condition excited particular interest.

To the second class belong persons condemned for actions done under peculiar circumstances, i.e., in a fit of passion, jealousy, or drunkenness, circumstances under which those who judged them would surely have committed the same actions.

The third class consisted of people punished for having committed actions which, according to their understanding, were quite natural, and even good, but which those other people, the men who made the laws, considered to be crimes. Such were the persons who sold spirits without a license, smugglers, those who gathered grass and wood on large estates and in the forests belonging to the Crown; the thieving miners; and those unbelieving people who robbed churches.

To the fourth class belonged those who were imprisoned only because they stood morally higher than the average level of society. Such were the Sectarians, the Poles, the Circassians rebelling in order to regain their independence, the political prisoners, the Socialists, the strikers condemned for withstanding the authorities. There was, according to Nekhludoff's observations, a very large percentage belonging to this class; among them some of the best of men.

The fifth class consisted of persons who had been far more sinned against by society than they had sinned against it. These were castaways, stupefied by continual oppression and temptation, such as the boy who had stolen the rugs, and hundreds of others whom Nekhludoff had seen in the prison and out of it. The conditions under which they lived seemed to lead on systematically to those actions which are termed crimes. A great many thieves and murderers with whom he had lately come in contact, according to Nekhludoff's estimate, belonged to this class. To this class Nekhludoff also reckoned those depraved, demoralised creatures whom the new school of criminology classify as the criminal type, and the existence of which is considered to be the chief proof of the necessity of criminal law and punishment. This demoralised, depraved, abnormal type was, according to Nekhludoff, exactly the same as that against whom society had sinned, only here society had sinned not directly against them, but against their parents and forefathers.

Among this latter class Nekhludoff was specially struck by one Okhotin, an inveterate thief, the illegitimate son of a prostitute, brought up in a doss-house, who, up to the age of 30, had apparently never met with any one whose morality was above that of a policeman, and who had got into a band of thieves when quite young. He was gifted with an extraordinary sense of humour, by means of which he made himself very attractive. He asked Nekhludoff for protection, at the same time making fun of himself, the lawyers, the prison, and laws human and divine.

Another was the handsome Fedoroff, who, with a band of robbers, of whom he was the chief, had robbed and murdered an old man, an official. Fedoroff was a peasant, whose father had been unlawfully deprived of his house, and who, later on, when serving as a soldier, had suffered much because he had fallen in love with an officer's mistress. He had a fascinating, passionate nature, that longed for enjoyment at any cost. He had never met anybody who restrained himself for any cause whatever, and had never heard a word about any aim in life other than enjoyment.

Nekhludoff distinctly saw that both these men were richly endowed by nature, but had been neglected and crippled like uncared-for plants.

He had also met a tramp and a woman who had repelled him by their dulness and seeming cruelty, but even in them he could find no trace of the criminal type written about by the Italian school, but only saw in them people who were repulsive to him personally, just in the same way as some he had met outside the prison, in swallow-tail coats wearing epaulettes, or bedecked with lace. And so the investigation of the reasons why all these very different persons were put in prison, while others just like them were going about free and even judging them, formed a fourth task for Nekhludoff.

He hoped to find an answer to this question in books, and bought all that referred to it. He got the works of Lombroso, Garofalo, Ferry, List, Maudsley, Tard, and read them carefully. But as he read he became more and more disappointed. It happened to him as it always happens to those who turn to science not in order to play a part in it, nor to write, nor to dispute, nor to teach, but simply for an answer to an every-day question of life. Science answered thousands of different very subtle and ingenious questions touching criminal law, but not the one he was trying to solve. He asked a very simple question: "Why, and with what right, do some people lock up, torment, exile, flog, and kill others, while they are themselves just like those whom they torment, flog, and kill?" And in answer he got deliberations as to whether human beings had free will or not. Whether signs of criminality could be detected by measuring the skulls or not. What part heredity played in crime. Whether immorality could be inherited. What madness is, what degeneration is, and what temperament is. How climate, food, ignorance, imitativeness, hypnotism, or passion act. What society is. What are its duties, etc., etc.

These disquisitions reminded him of the answer he once got from a little boy whom he met coming home from school. Nekhludoff asked him if he had learned his spelling.

"I have," answered the boy.

"Well, then, tell me, how do you spell 'leg'?

"A dog's leg, or what kind of leg?" the boy answered, with a sly look.

Answers in the form of new questions, like the boy's, was all Nekhludoff got in reply to his one primary question. He found much that was clever, learned much that was interesting, but what he did not find was an answer to the principal question: By what right some people punish others?

Not only did he not find any answer, but all the arguments were brought forward in order to explain and vindicate punishment, the necessity of which was taken as an axiom.

Nekhludoff read much, but only in snatches, and putting down his failure to this superficial way of reading, hoped to find the answer later on. He would not allow himself to believe in the truth of the answer which began, more and more often, to present itself to him.

 

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