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3 1153 D13^DfiSfl D 



GAYLORD RG 



THE SIGNAL 

AND OTHER STORIES 



THE SIGNAL 

AND OTHER STORIES 
By W. M. GARSHIN 

TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN 

By CAPTAIN ROWLAND SMITH 

OFTHE BRITISH EMBASSY, PETROGRAD 




ALFRED A. KNOPF 
NEW YORK. MCMXVI 






Ys/ 



PRINTED IK GREAT BRITAIN BY 
BII.I.ING AND SONS, LTD., GUILDFORD, ENGI.AN'r 



PREFACE 

It has been said that to know the literature of a country 
is to know its people, and to know a people is to appreciate 
them. The wealth of the Russian language, its nuance 
of expression, its bewildering detail and plentiful use of 
diminutives, makes its translation into equivalent Eng- 
lish especially difficult. But I trust, nevertheless, that 
this volume of short stories, translations from the Russian, 
may assist in promoting knowledge in England of Russia 
and Russians. 

Nowhere is there more genuine hospitality than in 
Russia, and in no other country is there greater or more 
general kindliness of feeling. 

TRANSLATOR. 






GARSHIN 

(1855-1888) 

WsEWOLOD MiCHAiLOViCH Garshin, the " melancholiac," 
as he is sometimes called, was of good family. He was 
born in February, 1855. In appearance of a Southern 
type, he was nice-looking, and possessed a sweetness of 
disposition and a temperament sympathetic to a degree 
unusual in a man. His early life was spent on the family 
estate with his parents, his father having retired from the 
army in 1858. When nine years old, he was placed at 
school in St. Petersburg. His original intention of be- 
coming a doctor was frustrated by the issue at that time 
of a Government regulation making a University course 
obligatory on all wishing to take up medicine. He early 
showed an abnormal nervousness, and in 1872, when only 
seventeen years old, was temporarily placed under re- 
straint. Recovering his sanity in 1873, and having com- 
pleted his school course, he entered the Institute of Mining 
Engineers in 1874. In 1876 the Russo-Turkish War 
broke out. x\lthough the horrors of war affected him 
very deeply, Garshin considered it his bounden duty to 
take an active share in the campaign, and enlisted at 
Kishineif as a private in an infantry regiment of the line. 
He displayed great gallantry in action, was wounded in 
the leg, and invalided home. From this time his mind 



viii GARSHIN 

became periodically unhinged, and it was immediately- 
preceding one of these attacks that he wrote " A Night," 
which bears unmistakable evidence of a disordered brain. 
Finally, in 1887, in an access of physical and mental 
agony, he succeeded in eluding those who were watching 
by his bedside, and threw himself down a flight of stone 
steps which formed the staircase leading to his apartment. 
He inflicted grave injuries to himself, and added to his 
mental trouble by brooding over the state of mind which 
had led him to commit such an act. He was shortly 
afterwards transferred to a hospital for better treatment, 
where he expired in April, 1888, at the early age of thirty- 
three, in the presence of some of his always numerous 
friends and a devoted wife. 

An added interest is given to his stories (he only wrote 
some twenty in all), from the fact that the majority of 
them possess a groundwork of truth, and embody per- 
sonal ideas and experiences, or those of friends and 
acquaintances. 



GLOSSARY 



Alesha^ an intimate form of Alexander. See Names. 

Arshin, equals 2^ feet (approximately). 

Baba, a peasant woman (old). 

Barln, Sir or Master ) Words used by servants or the lower 

Barinia, Ma'am or Mistress J classes when addressing superiors. 

Chinovnik, the generic name of all officials, but more usually applied to 

the smaller class of Government officials. Is often used in contempt. 
Dessiatine, equals 270 acres. 

Droshky, a small open four-wheeled hackney-carriage. 
Dvornik, a yard porter. Each house has one or more dvomiks, whose 

duties are to cut and carry firewood, etc. They are also responsible 

for the cleanliness of the street and pavement immediately adjoining 

the house, and must assist the police. 
Dvu-grivennik, a silver coin of the value and size of sixpence. 
Euprakseiushka, a character in early Russian histor3\ 
Fortochka, a framed pane of glass in a window. It is on hinges, and 

can be opened for ventilation purposes when the window itself is 

hermetically sealed up for the winter. 
Gorodovoi, a policeman. 

Ilia Murometz, a character in early Russian history. 
Ispravnik, a provincial police officer. 
Izvoschik, a cabman ; used indifferently to mean the man or his 

conveyance. 
Kaftan, a three-quarters length overcoat, usually of leather Uned with 

sheepskin. 
Koliaska. See Droshky. 

Kopeck, a copper coin of the size and value of a farthing. 
Krasnoe Solnishko (beautiful sun), a famous early ruler of Russia, 

and the first of them to embrace Christianity. 
Lineika, a four-wheeled conveyance usually seating ten or twelve 

persons who ride back to back as in an Irish car. 

ix 



X GLOSSARY 

Masha, an intimate form of Maria or Mary. See Names. 

Mateik, the name of an artist. 

Miatel, a blizzard. 

Miekoff, an action in the last PoHsh Rebellion. 

Moujik, a Russian peasant (man). Often used to mean a boor or 
uncouth person. 

Nada, Nadia, intimate forms of Nadejda. See Names. 

Names. Every Orthodox Russian has but one Christian name and a 
patronymic in addition to his surname, which last is not used in 
conversation. In the case of a man, the patronymic is formed by 
adding -ovich to his father's name, or -ovna in the case of a woman. 
Thus, a man christened Ivan whose father bore the same name would 
be known as Ivan Ivanovich, Similarly, a woman christened Olga 
whose father's name was Ivan would be known as Olga Ivanovna. 
In addition to the above there are variations of the Christian name 
used only by relatives and intimate friends, such as Vasia or 
Vassenka, intimate forms of Vassilli, Nada or Nadia, intimate forms 
of Nadejda. Thus, a man whose full name was Simon Ivanovich 
Spiridoff might be addressed as such, or Simon Spiridoff, or as 
Simon Ivanovich. or Simon Ivanich, or Senia, or Senichka, dependent 
on the relations between the two persons. 

OpatofF, an action in the last PoUsh Rebelhon. 

Pechenegs, a tribe of Turkish origin which early settled itself in Russia. 

Poltinik, a silver coin of the value and size of a shilling. 

Pood, equals 36 pounds avoirdupois. 

Pristaflf, a pohce superintendent. 

Prorub, a hole cut out in the ice. 

Rouble, a silver coin of the value and size of a florin. 

Russ, the ancient name of Russia. 

Sajene, equals 7 English feet. 

Samovar, a tea-um in which the water is boiled and kept hot by 
charcoal. 

Sasha, an intimate form of Alexander or Alexandra. See Names. 
Semiradski, a Russian artist. 

Senia, Senichka, intimate forms of Simon or Simeon. See Names. 
Shuba, a fur-lined overcoat of full length. 
Sonia, an intimate form of Sophia. See Names. 
Sotnia, a squadron of cavalry (appUed to Cossack troops only). 
Traktir, a humble kind of eating-house frequented by the working 
classes. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

I. THE SIGNAL ------ I 

II. FOUR DAYS - - - - - - 13 

III. AN INCIDENT- . - - - - 27*/ 

IV. COWARD - - - - - - 47 . 

V. THE MEETING - . - - 72 . 

VI. A NIGHT - - - - - - 95y 

VII. A TOAD AND A ROSE- .. _ . - I16 

VIII, ATTALEA PRINCEPS - - - " - 1 24 

IX. "make-believe" - - - - - 133 

X. OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT - - - 1 39 

XI. NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA - - * "15^ 

XII. THE SCARLET BLOSSOM . - - - 23O 

XIII. THE BEARS .----- 249 

XIV. THE FROG WHO TRAVELLED - - - - 270 

XV. A VERY SHORT ROMANCE - - * - 276 

XVI. FROM THE REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF - 282 

XVII. THE ACTION AT AISLAR _ - - - 339 



^ 



THE SIGNAL 

AND OTHER STORIES 

I 

THE SIGNAL 

Simon Ivanoff was a linesman on the railway. From 
his hut it was twenty versts to the nearest station on one 
side, and ten versts on the other. Last year, about 
four versts away, a spinning-mill had opened, and its 
tall chimney stood out darkly against the forest, but 
except for the huts of other linesmen there was no living 
soul nearer him. 

Simon Ivanoff' s health had broken down generally. 
Nine years ago he had been at the war and had acted as 
servant to an officer, with whom he served right through 
the campaign. He had starved, been roasted by the sun, 
had frozen, and had made marches of forty and fifty 
versts in the heat and frost. He had been under fire, 
but, thank God ! no bullet had touched him. Once his 
regiment had been in the first line. For a whole week 
there had been skirmishes with the Turks ; the Russian 
and Turkish firing-lines had been separated only by a 
deep strath, and from morn till eve they kept up a 
continuous cross-fire. Simon's officer had also been in 
the firing-line, and three times a day Simon took him a 
steaming samovar and his dinner from the regimental 
kitchen in the ravine. As he went with the samovar 
along the open, bullets hummed about him, and snapped 



2 THE SIGNAL 

viciously against the stones in a manner terrifying to 
Simon, who used to cry, but still kept on. The officers 
were very pleased with him, because there was always hot 
tea for them. He returned from the campaign whole, 
but with rheumatism in his hands and feet. He had 
experienced no little sorrow since then. He arrived home 
to find his father, an old man, had died ; his little four- 
year-old son also dead (his throat), so there only 
remained Simon and his wife. They could not do much. 
It w^as difficult to plough with swollen hands and feet. 
They could no longer stay in their own village, and they 
started off to seek fortune in new places. Simon and his 
wife stayed for a short time on the line, in Cherson and 
in Donschina, but nowhere found luck. Then the wife 
went out to service, and Simon, as formerly, travelled 
about. Once he happened to travel on an engine, and 
at one of the stations he saw the station-master, whose 
face seemed familiar to him. Simon looked at the 
station-master and the station-master at Simon, and they 
recognized each other. He had been an officer of Simon's 
regiment. 

** You are Ivanoff ?" he said. 

" Exactly, Your Excellency ; that's me." 

"How have you got here ?" 

Simon told him all. 

" Where are you off to ?" 

" I cannot tell you, sir." 

*' You idiot ! How ' can't ' you tell me ?" 

" Quite true. Your Excellency, because there is no- 
where to go. I must look for work, sir." 

The station-master looked at him, thought a bit, and 
said : " Look here, friend, stay here a bit at the station. 
You are married, I think. Where is your wife ?" 

" Yes, Your Excellency, I am married. My wife is at 
Kursk, in service with a merchant." 

" Well, write to your wife to come here. I will give 
you a free pass for her. We have a linesman's hut 



THE SIGNAL 3 

empty. I will speak to the District Chief on your 
behalf." 

** I shall be very grateful, Your Excellency," replied 
Simon. 

He stayed at the station, helped in the kitchen of the 
station-master, cut fire-wood, kept the yard clean, and 
swept the platform. In a fortnight's time his wife 
arrived, and Simon went on a hand-trolley to his hut. 
The hut was a new one and warm, with as much wood 
as he wanted. There was a little vegetable garden, the 
legacy of former linesmen, and there was about half a 
dessiatine of ploughed land on either side of the railway 
embankment. Simon was rejoiced. He began to think 
of doing some farming, of purchasing a cow and horse. 

He was given all necessary stores — a green flag, a red 
flag, lanterns, a horn, hammer, screw-wrench for the 
nuts, a crow-bar, spade, broom, bolts, and nails ; they 
gave him two books of regulations, and a time-table of 
the trains. At first Simon could not sleep at night, 
and learnt the whole time-table by heart. Two hours 
before a train was due he would go round his section, sit 
on the bench at his hut, and look and listen whether the 
rails were trembling or the rumble of the train could be 
heard. He even learned the regulations by heart, 
although he could only read by spelling out each word. 

It was summer ; the work was not heavy ; there was 
no snow to clear away, and the trains on that line are 
infrequent. Simon used to go over his verst twice 
a day, examine and screw up nuts here and there, keep 
the bed level, look at the water-pipes, and then go home 
to his own affairs. There was only one drawback — i.e., 
whatever he wished to do he had first to obtain per- 
mission of the Traffic Inspector. Simon and his wife 
even began to get bored. 

Two months passed, and Simon began to make the 
acquaintance of his neighbours, the other linesmen on 
either side of him. One was a very old man, whom the 



4 THE SIGNAL 

authorities were always meaning to relieve. He scarcely 
moved out of his hut. His wife used to do all his work. 
The other linesman nearer the station was a young man, 
thin, but muscular. He and Simon met for the first 
time on the line midway between the huts. Simon took 
off his hat and bowed. " Good health to you, neigh- 
bour," he said. 

The neighbour glanced askance at him. " How do 
you do ?" he replied ; then turned around and made off. 

Later the wives met. Simon's wife passed the time of 
day with her neighbour, but she also did not say much 
and went off. 

On one occasion Simon said to her : '' Young woman, 
your husband is not very talkative." 

The woman said nothing at first, then replied : " But 
what is there for him to talk with you about ? Every- 
one has his own business. Go your way, and God be 
with you." 

However, after another month or so they became 
acquainted. Simon would go with VassiH along the line, 
sit on the edge of a pipe, smoke, and talk of life. Vassili, 
for the most part, kept silent, but Simon talked of his 
village, and of the campaign through which he had passed. 

" I have had no little sorrow in my day," he would 
say ; ** and goodness knows I have not lived long. God 
has not given me happiness, but what He may give, so 
will it be. That's so, friend Vassili Stepanich." 

Vassili Stepanich knocked out the ashes of his pipe 
against a rail, stood up, and said : " It is not luck which 
follows us in life, but human beings. There is no wild 
beast on this earth more ferocious, cruel, and evil than 
man. Wolf does not eat wolf, but a man will readily 
devour man." 

" Come, friend, don't say that ; a wolf eats wolf." 

*' The words came into my mind and I said it. All the 
same, there is nothing more cruel than man. If it were 
not for his wickedness and greed it would be possible to 



THE SIGNAL 5 

live. Everybody tries to sting you to the quick, to bite 
and devour you." 

Simon pondered a bit. '* I don't know, brother," he 
said ; " perhaps it is as you say, and perhaps it is God's 
will." 

" And perhaps, then," said Vassili, "it is waste of 
time for me to talk with you. To put everything un- 
pleasant on God, and sit and suffer, means, brother, being 
not a man but an animal. That's w^hat I have to say." 
And he turned and went off without saying good-bye. 

Simon also got up. " Neighbour," he called, " why 
do you lose your temper ?" But his neighbour did not 
look round, and went on. 

Simon gazed after him until Vassili was lost to sight 
in the cutting at the turn. He went home and said to 
his wife : " Well, Arina, our neighbour is a wicked person, 
not a man." 

However, they did not quarrel. They met again, and, 
as formerly, discussed the same old topics. 

" Ah, friend, if it were not for men we should not be 
sitting, you and I, in these huts," said Vassili, on one 
occasion. 

** And what about the huts ? . . . not so bad ; it is 
possible to live in them." 

** Possible to hve in them, indeed ! . . . Eh ! You ! . . . 
You have lived long and learned little, looked at much 
and seen little. What sort of life is there for a poor 
man in a hut here or there. These cannibals are devour- 
ing you. They are extracting all your life-blood, and 
when you become old, they will throw you out just as 
they do with husks they feed pigs on. What pay do 
you get?" 

" Not much, Vassili Stepanich — twelve roubles." 

" And I, thirteen and a half roubles. Allow me to 
ask you why ? By the regulations the Company should 
give us fifteen roubles a month with firing and lighting. 
Who decides that you should have twelve roubles, or I 



6 THE SIGNAL 

thirteen and a half ? Ask yourself ! . . . And you say 
it is possible to hve ! You understand it is not a question 
of one and a half roubles or three roubles — even if they 
paid us each the whole fifteen roubles. I was at the 
station last month. The Director passed through, so I 
saw him ... I had that honour. . . . He had a separate 
carriage, came out and stood on the platform, stood. . . . 
Yes, I shall not stay here long ; I shall go, anywhere, 
follow my nose." 

" But where will you go, Stepanich ? One does not 
seek good from good. Here you have a house, warmth, 
a little piece of land. Your wife is a worker . . .'* 

" Land ! You should look at my piece of land. Not 
a twig on it — nothing. I had planted some cabbages in 
the spring, just when the Traffic Inspector came along. 
He said : ' What is this ? Why have you not reported 
this ? Why have you done this without permission ? 
Dig them up, roots and all.' He was drunk. Another 
time he would not have said a word, but this time it got 
into his head . . . three roubles fine ! . . ." 

Vassili kept silent for a while, pulling at his pipe, then 
added quietly : " A little more and I should have done for 
him." 

" But, neighbour, you are hot-tempered." 

" No, I am not hot-tempered, but I tell the truth and 
think. Yes, he will still get a bloody nose from me. I 
will complain to the District Chief. We will see then !" 
And he did complain. 

Once the District Chief came along to inspect the line. 
Three days later important personages were coming from 
St. Petersburg, were to pass over the line. They were 
conducting an inquiry, so that previous to their journey 
it was necessary to put everything in order. Ballast was 
laid down, the bed was levelled, the sleepers carefully 
examined, spikes driven in a bit, nuts screwed up, posts 
painted, and orders were given for yellow sand to be 
sprinkled at the level crossings. The woman at the 



THE SIGNAL 7 

neighbouring hut turned her old man out to weed. 
Simon worked for a whole week. He put everything in 
order, mended his kaftan, cleaned and polished his 
brass plate with a piece of brick until it fairly shone. 
Vassili also worked hard. The District Chief arrived on 
a trolley, four men worked the handles, the levers making 
the six wheels hum. The trolley travelled at twenty versts 
an hour, but the wheels squeaked. It reached Simon's 
hut, and he ran out and reported in soldierly fashion. 
All appeared to be in repair. 

*' Have you been long here ?" inquired the Chief. 

*' Since the second of May, Your Excellency." 

'* All right. Thank you. And who is at hut No. 164 ?" 

The Traffic Inspector (he was travelHng with the Chief 
on the trolley) replied : " Vassili Spiridoff." 

" Spiridoff. Spiridoff. . . . Ah ! is he the man against 
whom you made a note last year ?" 

" The same." 

" Well, we will see Vassih Spiridoff. Go on !" The 
workmen laid to the handles, and the trolley got under 
way. Simon watched it, and thought, " Well, there will 
be trouble between them and my neighbour." 

About two hours later he started on his round. He 
saw someone coming along the line from the cutting. 
Something white showed on his head. Simon began to 
look more attentively. It was Vassili ; he had a stick 
in his hand, a small bundle on his shoulder, and his cheek 
was bound up in a handkerchief. 

" Where are you off to, neighbour ?" cried Simon. 

Vassili came quite close. He was very pale, white as 
chalk, and his eyes had a wild look. Almost choking, 
he muttered : " To the town — to Moscow — to the Head 
Office." 

" Head Office ? Ah, you are going, I suppose, to 
complain. Give it up ! Vassili Stepanich, forget it. . . ." 

" No, mate, I will not forget. It is too late. See ! 
He struck me in the face, drew blood. So long as I 



a THE SIGNAL 

live I will not forget. ... I will not leave it like 
this ! . . ." 

Simon took him by the hand. " Give it up, 
Stepanich. I am advising you truly. You will not 
better things. ..." 

" Better things ! I know myself that I shall not do 
better. You spoke truly about Fate. Better for myself 
not to do it, but one must stand up for the right, 
mate." 

" But tell me, how did it all happen ?" 

" How ? . . . He examined everything, got down 
from the trolley, looked into the hut. I knew beforehand 
that he would be strict, and so put everything into proper 
order as it should be. He was just going when I made 
my complaint. He immediately cried out : ' Here,' he 
said, ' is a Government inquiry coming, and you make 
a complaint about a vegetable garden. Here,' he said, 
* are Privy Councillors coming, and you come worrying 
about cabbages ! . . .' I lost patience and said some- 
thing — not very much, but it offended him, and he struck 
me in the face . . . and I stood still ; I did nothing, just as 
if it was in the proper order of things. They went off ; 
I came to myself, washed my face, and left." 

" And what about the hut ?" 

" The wife has stayed. She will look after things 
all right. Never mind about their roads." 

Vassili got up and collected himself. *' Good-bye, 
Ivanoff. ... I do not know whether I shall get anyone 
at the Office to hear me." 

'* Surely you are not going to walk ?" 

" At the station I will try to get on a goods- train, and 
to-morrow I shall be in Moscow." 

The neighbours bade each other farewell. Vassili was 
absent for some time. His wife worked for him night 
and day. She never slept, and wore herself out waiting 
for her husband. On the third day the commission 
arrived. An engine, luggage- van, and two first-class 



THE SIGNAL 9 

saloons ; but Vassili was still away. Simon saw the wife 
on the fourth day. Her face was swollen from crying 
and her eyes were red. 

" Has your husband returned ?" he asked. But the 
woman only made a gesture with her hands, and without 
saying a word went her way. 

* * * * -x- 

Simon had learnt when still a lad to make flutes out 
of a kind of reed. He used to burn out the heart of the 
stalk, make holes where necessary, drill them, make a 
mouthpiece at one end, and tune them so well that it 
was possible to play almost anything you wanted on 
them. He made a number of them in his spare time, 
and sent them by his friends amongst the guards on the 
goods- trains to the bazaar in the town. He got two 
kopecks apiece for them. On the day following the 
visit of the commission he left his wife at home to meet 
the six o'clock train, and, taking a knife, started off to 
the forest to cut some sticks. He went to the end of his 
section — at this point the line makes a sharp turn — went 
down the embankment, and went into the wood under 
the mountain. About half a verst away there was a 
big marsh, around which there grew splendid bushes out 
of which to make his flutes. He cut a whole bundle of 
sticks and started back home. As he went through the 
wood the sun was already getting low, and in the dead 
stillness only the twittering of the birds was audible, 
and the crackle of the dead wood under his feet. As 
Simon walked along rapidly and easily he fancied he 
heard the clang of iron striking iron, and he redoubled 
his pace. There was no repair going on in his section 
at this time. What did it mean ? he wondered. Coming 
out on to the fringe of the wood, the railway embank- 
ment stood high before him ; on the top of it a man 
was squatting on the bed of the Hne busily engaged in 
something. Simon commenced to crawl up quietly 
towards him. He thought that it was someone after 



10 THE SIGNAL 

the nuts which secure the rails. He watched, and a 
man got up, holding a crow-bar in his hand. He had 
loosened a rail with it, so that it would move to one side. 
A mist came before Simon's eyes ; he wanted to cry out, 
but could not. It was Vassili ! . . . Simon scrambled 
up the bank as Vassili with crow-bar and wrench slid 
headlong down the other side. 

" Vassili Stepanich ! For the love. . . . Old friend ! 
Come back ! Give me the crow-bar. We will put the 
rail back ; no one will know. Come back ! Save your 
soul from this sin !" 

Vassih did not look back, but disappeared into the 
wood. 

Simon stood before the rail which had been torn up. 
He threw down his bundle of sticks. A train was due ; 
not a goods-train, but a passenger-train. And he had 
nothing with which to stop it, no flag. He could not 
replace the rail and could not drive in the spikes with 
his bare hands. It was necessary to run, absolutely 
necessary to run to the hut for some tools. " God help 
me !" he murmured. 

Simon started running towards his hut. He was out 
of breath, but still ran, falling every now and then. 
He had cleared the forest ; there only remained another 
hundred sajenes to the hut, not more, when he heard 
the distant hooter of the factory sound — six o'clock ! 
In two minutes' time No. 7 train was due. *' Oh, Lord ! 
Have pity on innocent souls !" In his mind Simon saw 
the engine strike against the loosened rail with its left 
wheel, shiver, careen, tear up and splinter the sleepers — ■ 
and just there, there was a curve and the embankment 
eleven sajenes high, down which the engine would 
topple — and the third-class carriages would be packed . . . 
little children. . . . They are all sitting in the train now 
not dreaming of any danger. " Oh, Lord ! Tell me w^hat 
to do ! . . . No, it is not possible to run to the hut and 
get back in time." 



THE SIGNAL ii 

Simon did not run on to the hut, but turned back and 
ran faster than before. He was running almost mechani- 
cally, blindly; he did not know himself what was to happen. 
He ran as far as the rail which had been pulled up ; his 
sticks were lying in a heap. He bent down, seized one 
without knowing why, and ran on farther. It seemed to 
him that the train was already coming. He heard the 
distant whistle ; he heard the quiet, even tremor of the 
rails ; but his strength was exhausted, he could run no 
farther, and came to a halt about one hundred sajenes 
from the awful spot. Then an idea came into his head, 
literally like a ray of light. Pulling off his cap, he took 
out of it a cotton scarf, drew his knife out of the upper 
part of his boot, and crossed himself, muttering, " God 
bless me !" 

He buried the knife into his left arm above the elbow ; 
the blood spurted out, flowing in a hot stream. In this 
he soaked his scarf, smoothed it out, tied it to the stick 
and hung out his red flag. 

He stood waving his flag. The train was already in 
sight. The driver will not see him — will come close up, 
and a heavy train cannot be pulled up in a hundred 
sajenes. 

And the blood kept on flowing. Simon kept pressing 
the sides of the wound together wanting to close it, but 
the blood did not diminish. Evidently he had cut his 
arm very deeply. His head commenced to swim, black 
spots began to dance before his eyes, and then it became 
dark. There was a ringing in his ears. He could not 
see the train or hear the noise. Only one thought 
possessed him. " I shall not be able to keep standing 
up. I shall fall and drop the flag ; the train will pass 
over me. . . . Help me, oh Lord ! . . ." 

All became quite black before him, his mind became 
a blank, and he dropped the flag ; but the blood-stained 
banner did not fall to the ground. A hand seized it and 
held it high to meet the approaching train. The engine- 



12 THE SIGNAL 

driver saw it, shut the regulator, and reversed steam. 
The train came to a standstill. 

People jumped out of the carriages and collected in a 
crowd. Looking, they saw a man lying senseless on the 
footway, drenched in blood, and another man standing 
beside him with a blood-stained rag on a stick. 

Vassili looked around at all; then, lowering his head, 
said : " Bind me ; I have pulled up a rail !" 



II 

FOUR DAYS 

I REMEMBER how we rushed through the wood ; how the 
leaves and twigs came fluttering and twisting down on 
us as the humming bullets cut their way through the 
thick foliage. I remember how, as we pushed through 
the thick and prickly undergrowth, the firing became 
hotter and the fringe of the wood became alive with little 
spurts of flame which flashed redly from all points. I 
remember how Sedoroff, a recruit of No. i Company 
(How had he got into our firing-line ? flashed through my 
mind), suddenly sat down, and without sa5dng a word 
gazed at me with big startled eyes as a little stream of 
blood commenced to trickle from his mouth. Yes, I 
remember it well. I remember also how, just as we were 
on the very edge of the wood, I first saw him in the thick 
bushes. He was a huge and bulky Turk, but I ran 
straight at him although I am small and weak. There 
was a deafening noise ; something enormous seemed to flash 
past me, making my ears ring. He has fired at me, I 
thought. I remember how with a scream of fear he 
pressed himself backwards into a thick and prickly bush, 
although he could easily have gone round it, but he could 
remember nothing from fright, and strove instead to push 
his way into its prickly branches. 

With a blow I disarmed him, and lunged with my 
bayonet. There was an indrawn sob and a piteous 
groan. Then I rushed on. We cheered as we went 

13 



14 FOUR DAYS 

forward, some falling, some firing. I remember I fired 
several times. We were already out of the wood into the 
open. Suddenly the cheers became a long loud roar, and 
we all rushed forward. That is, the line did, but not I, 
because I stayed behind. Something strange seemed to 
have happened, and then, stranger still, everything 
disappeared, all the cries and firing died away. I could 
hear nothing, and saw only something blue, which must 
have been the sky. Then it, too, disappeared. 
***** 

I was never in such a strange position. I am lying 
apparently on my stomach, and can see in front of me only 
a little clod of earth, a few blades of grass, up one of 
which an ant is climbling head downwards, and some little 
mounds of dust, last year's dead grass. This is my whole 
world, and I can only see with one eye because the other 
one is being pressed by something hard ; it must be the 
bough against which my head is resting. It is dreadfully 
awkward, and I absolutely cannot understand why, 
when I want to, I cannot move. And so the time 
passes — I hear the chirrup of grasshoppers, the humming 
of bees — nothing more. At last I make an effort, free 
my right arm from under my body, and, resting both 
hands on the ground, I try to kneel. 

Something sharp goes like lightning right through my 
body from my knees to my chest, from my chest up to 
my head ; and again I fall, again darkness, again a blank. 
***** 

I am awake, but why do I see stars shining brightly 
in the black-blue of a Bulgarian night ? Surely I am in 
a tent ? Then why have I crawled out of it ? I make a 
movement, and feel an excruciating pain in my legs. 
Ah, now I understand. I have been wounded. Danger- 
ously ? I catch hold of my leg where it is hurting. Both 
right and left legs are covered with clotted blood. When 
I touch them with my hands the pain is worse. It is like 
toothache, a throbbing, sickening pain. There is a singing 



FOUR DAYS 15 

in my ears and my head feels leaden. Vaguely I under- 
stand that I have been wounded in both legs. But why 
have they not picked me up ? The Turks cannot have 
beaten us ! I commence, confusedly at first, then more 
clearly, to remember what happened, and come to the 
conclusion that we were far from being defeated. Because 
I fell (this, by the way, I do not remember, but I do 
remember how they all rushed forward, and that I could 
not, and saw nothing but blue) on the field on the hill, 
and that was the field to which our little officer had 
pointed and said, " Children, we must get there !" So of 
course we had not been beaten. But why, then, have 
they not picked me up ? Surely here in this field — open 
ground — everything is visible. Besides which, I cannot 
be the only one lying here. The firing was too hot. I 
must turn my head and look. I can do this more easily 
now, because when I came to my senses and was able to 
see only grass and that ant climbing with its head down- 
wards I tried to raise myself, and when I fell again it 
was not into the old position, but on to my back. That 
is why I can see the stars. 

I try to raise myself mto a sitting position. It is 
difiicult when both legs are shot through. Several times 
I almost give it up in despair, but at last, with tears in 
my eyes from the awful pain, I succeed. 

Above me — a scrap of black-blue sky in which a big 
star is burning and several smaller ones. Around me 
something dark and tall — bushes ! I am amongst the 
bushes ! They have missed me ! I feel how the very 
roots of my hair move as I realize this. But how did I 
get into the bushes when they hit me in the open ? 
When I was wounded I must have crawled here without 
remembering it, owing to the pain ; only it is odd that now 
I cannot stir, but then was able to drag myself to these 
bushes. Perhaps I had only been hit once then, and the 
second bullet caught me here. There are pinkish stains 
around me. . . . 



i6 FOUR DAYS 

The big star has begun to pale, and the smaller stars 
have disappeared. It is the moon rising. How pretty 
it must be at home now ! . . . Strange noises keep 
reaching me as if somebody was groaning. Yes, they are 
groans. Is it somebody else, also forgotten, lying near 
me with legs shot through or a bullet in his stomach ? 
No, the groans are so close, whilst there is no one, it 
seems, near me. ... It cannot be ? — yes, it is I who am 
groaning and making these pitiful noises. . . . Surely it 
is not so painful really ? I suppose it must be, only I 
do not understand why I am in such pain because my 
head is leaden and everything seems misty. Better lie 
down again and sleep, sleep. . . . Only, shall I ever awake 
again ? Anyhow, it does not matter. 

Just as I commence to lie down a broad pale gleam of 
moonlight clearly shows up the place where I am lying, 
and I see something dark and big on the ground about 
five paces from me. Something glistens on it in the 
moonlight. Is it buttons or equipment ? Is it a corpse 
or somebody wounded ? 

Never mind, I will lie down. . . . 

No ! impossible ! Our men cannot have gone. They 
are here ; they have driven out the Turks and are campnig 
on the position. Then why no voices ? no crackling of 
camp-fires ? Probably I am so weak I cannot hear. 
Of course they must be here. 

" Help ! help ! help !" 

The wild, maddened, hoarse cries are wrung from me. 
but there is no answer. Loudly they resound in the night 
air, but everything else remains silent. Only the grass- 
hoppers keep up their chirruping. The moon is looking 
down at me with a pitying gaze. 

If he was somebody wounded my shouts would have 
roused him. It is a corpse. One of us or a Turk ? But 
is it not all the same ? And sleep is closing my fevered 
eyelids. 



FOUR DAYS 17 

I am lying with closed eyes, although I woke up long 
ago. I do not want to open them because through the 
closed lids I can feel the sun, and if I open my eyes the 
sun will scorch them. Besides, better not to move. . . . 
Yesterday (I suppose it was yesterday) they wounded 
me ... a whole day has gone past, others will pass by, and 
I shall die. It is all the same. Better not to move. 
If only I could stop my brain working ! But nothing 
will stop it. Ideas, recollections, thoughts come crowding 
in. However, all this is not for long, the end will soon 
come. There will be just a few lines in the newspapers 
that our losses were insignificant : — wounded ... so many ; 
killed — one. Private Ivanoff — no, the names of the men 
are not given, they simply say killed . . . one. One private, 
as if it were one dog. 

All the details of an incident which happened long ago 
flash to my mind. By the way, how long ago all my life 
seems — I mean that life when I was not lying here with 
my legs shot through. . . . 

I was going along the street when I was stopped by a 
crowd which had gathered and was silently gazing at 
something white covered with blood lying on the roadway 
whining piteously — a little dog which had been run over 
by a tramcar. It was dying, as I am now. A dvornik 
pushed his way through the crowd, picked it up by the 
back of the neck, and carried it away, and the crowd dis- 
persed. Will anyone take me away ? No . . . you will lie here 
and die. And how good is life ! How happy I was that 
day ! I went along as if intoxicated. Recollections ! do 
not torture me ! Leave me alone with this present torture, 
then at least I cannot involuntarily make comparisons. 
Oh, this longing for home ! It is worse than wounds. 

However, it is getting hot. The sun is scorching me. 
I open my eyes and see the same bushes, the same sky, 
only by daylight . . . and there is my neighbour. Yes, he 
is a Turk, a corpse. What a huge man ! I recognize 
him as the same man I . . . 

2 



i8 FOUR DAYS 

Before me lies a man whom I have killed. Why did I 
kill him ? He lies there dead and blood-stained. Why 
did Fate bring him here ? Who is he ? Perhaps he has 
... as I have ... an old mother. She will sit long and alone 
in the evenings at the door of her miserable hut, gazing 
towards the north, for her darling son, her protector and 
breadwinner. And I ? I also — would that I could 
change places with him. He is happy. He hears nothing, 
feels nothing, no pain from wounds, no awful sickness, 
no thirst . . . the bayonet went straight through his heart. 
There is a big black hole in his uniform with blood around 
it. I did that ! 

I did not want to do it. I wished no one haim when I 
volunteered. It somehow never entered my mind that 
I should have to kill people. I only thought of how I 
would expose my own breast to the bullets. I came . . . 
and now . . . fool ! fool ! 

And this unhappy fellah (he was in Egyptian 
uniform) — he is even less to blame than I. First of all 
they packed him with others like herrings in a barrel on 
board a steamer and brought him to Constantinople. 
He had never heard of Russia or Bulgaria. They ordered 
him to go, and he came. Had he refused they would have 
beaten him with sticks, or perhaps some Pascha would 
have put a bullet into him. He came here by long and 
difficult marches from Stamboul to Rustchuk. We 
attacked and he defended himself, but seeing that we 
terrible people cared not for his patent English rifle, but 
ever leapt forward, he became terror-stricken, and when 
he wanted to get away, someone, a little man whom he 
could have killed with one blow of his big black fist, 
jumped forward and plunged a bayonet into his heart. 

Why is he to blame ? 

And why am I to blame, even though I did kill him ? 
How am I to blame ? Why is this thirst torturing me ? 
Thirst ! Who knows what this word means ! Even 
when we came through Roumania, making forced marches 



FOUR DAYS 19 

of fifty versts in the terrific heat, even then I did not 
feel what I feel now. Oh, if only somebody would come 
along ! 

God ! Yes — there must be something inside that 
huge water-bottle of his. But I have to get to it. What 
will it cost me ? Never mind, I will get there. 

I crawl, dragging my legs behind me. My arms have 
grown so weak that they can scarcely help me. It is only 
a few feet, but for me it is more . . . not more, but worse 
than tens of versts. Nevertheless, I must crawl there. 
My throat is burning — burning like fire. Yes, no doubt 
without water you will die sooner, but still perhaps . . . 

And I crawl. My legs seem chained to the ground and 
every movement causes insufferable pain. I yell, yell, 
but all the same go on crawling. At last ! Yes, there 
is water in the flask, and what a lot ! More than half 
full. It will last me a long time . . . until I die ! 

You are saving my life, my victim ! 

I commenced to unfasten the water-bottle, leaning as I 
did so on one elbow, when, suddenly losing my balance, 
I fell face forward on to the body of my deliverer. Al- 
ready it was becoming unpleasant. 

***** 

I have drunk. The water was warm, but still unspoilt. 
Moreover, there is plenty. I shall live several days more. 
I remember having read in a book that a man can live 
without food for more than a week if only he has water, 
and in the same book I read an account of a man who 
committed suicide by starvation, but lived for ages before 
he died because he drank water. 

But what if I do live another five or six days ? What 
will come of it ? Our men have gone. The Bulgarians 
have dispersed. There is no road near. I have to die, 
only instead of three days' agony I have given myself 
a week. Would it not be better to finish it now ? Near 
my neighbour lies his rifle. I need only stretch out my 
hand — then a flash and the end. There are cartridges 



20 FOUR DAYS 

lying there. He had no time to use them all. Shall I 
end it, then ? ... or wait ? Which ? Deliverance ? 
death ? Wait until the Turks come and commence to 
tear the skin from my wounded legs ? Better to finish 
it myself. No, there is no need to lose heart ; I will struggle 
to the end, to the very last. If they find me I am saved. 
Perhaps the bones are not touched, they will cure me. 
I shall see home — mother — and Masha. ... Oh merciful 
God ! grant that they may never know the whole truth ! 
Let them believe I was killed outright. What if they 
find out that I suffered for two, three, four days ! 

My head is spinning round, my journey to my neigh- 
bour has completely exhausted me. And this awful 
smell. How black he has become ! What will he be 
like to-morrow or the day after ? I am lying here now 
only because I have no strength left to drag myself away. 
I will rest a little and then crawl back to the old place ; 
the wind, too, is blowing from there, and will carry this 
smell away from me. 

I am lying absolutely worn out. The sun is burning my 
face and hands. There is no shelter. If only night (the 
second, I suppose) would come more quickly ! 

My thoughts are getting confused, and I am losing 
consciousness. 

***** 

I must have had a long sleep, because when I awoke 
it was already night. All is as before, my wounds ache 
as before, and he is lying there as before, just as large and 
motionless as before. 

I cannot help thinking of him. Surely it was not only 
that he should cease to live that I gave up all — that I have 
starved, have been frozen by the cold, tormented by 
the heat, and finally am lying here in this agony ? Have 
I done anything of any use to my country except this 
murder ? 

Murder ! murderer ! — Who ? I ! 

When I was fascinated by the idea of going to the war. 



FOUR DAYS ^i 

mother and Masha did not try to dissuade me, although 
they both cried bitterly. Blinded by the idea, I did not 
see those tears. I did not understand (now I do) what I 
was causing to those near me. But why think of it ? It 
will not recall the past. And in what a strange light my 
action appeared to many of my friends — " Well, madman ! 
interfering without knowing why !" How could they 
say this ? How can they reconcile such words with their 
ideas of heroism, patriotism, etc. ? Surely in their eyes 
I represented all those virtues ? And yet I am a *' mad- 
man and monster " ! 

And so I go to Kishineff. There they load me up with 
a knapsack and all sorts of military paraphernalia. And 
I go with thousands, of whom some, like myself, are going 
voluntarily. The remainder would stay at home if 
allowed. However, they too, like us, will march thou- 
sands of versts and will fight also like us, or even 
better. They will do their duty notwithstanding that, if 
allowed, they would immediately give it up and go home. 

A chilling early morning breeze has arisen. The bushes 
are moving, and a bird is sleepily fluttering its wings. 
The stars have faded away. The black-blue of the heavens 
has taken a greyish hue, and is covered with soft, feathery 
clouds. A raw half-mist is rising from the ground. The 
third day has arrived of my — what can I call it ? Life ? 
Agony ? The third. . . . How many still remain ? In 
any case not many. I have become very weak, and 
apparently cannot even get away from my neighbour. 
Before long I shall be like him, and then we will not be so 
unpleasing to each other. 

I must have a drink. I will drink three times a day : 
in the morning, at midday, and in the evening. 
* * ^ * * 

The sun has risen. His huge disc, crimson as blood, is 
intersected by the black branches of the bushes. It looks 
as if it will be hot to-day. My neighbour ! what will you 
look like after this day is over ? Even now^ you are 



22 FOUR DAYS 

awful. Yes, he is awful. His hair has commenced to 
fall out. His skin, originally black, has become a greyish- 
yellow. His swollen face has become so tightly stretched 
that the skin has burst behind one ear. Large blisters 
like bladders have pushed their way out between the 
buttons which fasten the leggings around his swollen legs. 
And he himself looks a veritable mountain. What will 
the sun do to him to-day ? 

To lie so near is unbearable. I must crawl away from 
him at all costs. But can I ? I can still raise my arm, 
open the water-bottle, and drink, but to move my own 
heavy helpless body ? Nevertheless, I will move even 
if a little way only, if only half a pace an hour. 

I have spent the whole morning moving. The pain was 
awful, but what is that to me now ? I no longer re- 
member, I cannot imagine what it feels like to be sound 
and well. I am accustomed to pain now. I have suc- 
ceeded this morning in crawling back to my old place. 
But I have not enjoyed the fresh air for long, — that is, 
if there can be fresh air within six paces of a putrefying 
corpse. The wind has changed. It is so appalling that 
I am sick. The convulsions of an empty stomach cause 
me new tortures, and my whole inside seems to become 
twisted. But the awful poisoned air still fans me. In 
my despair I burst out crying. 

***** 

Absolutely worn out, I lie in a semi-stupor. . . . Sud- 
denly — Is this the fantasy of a disordered imagination ? It 
seems to me that . . . no . . . yes it is . . . voices ! The sound 
of horses' hoofs and human voices. I almost cried out, 
but just stopped myself. And what if they are Turks ? 
What then ? Then to my present tortures will be added 
others far more awful, even to read of which in the news- 
papers makes one's hair stand on end. They will flay me 
alive and roast my wounded legs. It will be well if they 
do no more than this, for they have great inventive 
powers. Is it really better to end life in their hands than 



FOUR DAYS 23 

to die here ? But if they are some of ours ? You cursed 
bushes ! Why have you surrounded me with so thick 
a hedge ? I can see nothing through them. In one place 
only is there an opening like a little window between the 
branches which gives me a view away on to the open 
ground. Yes, there is the small stream from which we 
drank before the fight. And there is the huge block of 
sandstone like a little bridge across the stream. They 
are sure to come across it. The voices die away, I cannot 
hear what language they are speaking, even my hearing 
has become weak. My God ! if they are ours — I will call 
to them. They should hear me even from there. It is 
better than risking falling into the clutches of Bashi- 
Bazouks. Why are they so long in coming ? In the 
torments of expectancy I do not even notice the dreadful 
air, although it has in no way improved. 

Then suddenly Cossacks appear crossing the stream. 
Blue uniforms, red-striped trousers, lances all. A half 
sotnia of them, and in front, on a magnificent horse, 
is a black-bearded officer. As soon as they are across 
the stream he turns in his saddle and gives the order, 
** Tro — t, march !" 

" Stop ! stop ! For God's sake ! Help ! help '.—Com- 
rades !" I cry, but the trotting horses, rattling scabbards, 
and loud talldng of the Cossacks drown my hoarse cries — 
and they do not hear me ! 

Oh, curses on it ! Exhausted, I fall face forward on to 
the ground, and cry in convulsive sobs. The water, my 
salvation and my insurance against death, is pouring out 
from the flask, which I have overturned, but it is only 
when barely half a glassful remains and the rest is soaking 
into the dry thirsty soil that I notice that in my fall I 
had knocked over the water-bottle. 

Shall I ever forget the awfulness of that moment, the 
numbness which came over me ? I lay motionless with 
half -closed eyes. The wind kept constantly changing, 
and blew alternately fresh and clean or almost over- 



24 FOUR DAYS 

powered me. My neighbour had become too dreadful 
for words. Once when I opened my eyes to snatch a 
glance at him I was appalled. There was no longer a 
face. It had fallen away from the bone. The horrible 
grinning skull with its everlasting smile appeared too 
revolting, although (as a medical student) I have fre- 
quently handled them, but this corpse in uniform with its 
bright buttons made me shudder. " And this is war !" 
I reflected. " This corpse is its symbol !" 

The sun is scorching and baking me as usual. My 
hands and face have long been all blisters. I have drunk 
all the water that was left. My thirst was so maddening 
that I decided to take just a sip, but swallowed all that 
was left at one gulp. Oh, why did I not call to the 
Cossacks when they were close to me ? Even had they 
been Turks it would have been better. They would have 
tortured me for perhaps two or even three hours, but now 
I do not know how long I shall have to writhe and suffer 
here. Mother, darling mother, you would tear out your 
grey hair, you would beat your head against a wall and 
curse the day you bore me . . . you would curse the world 
which has invented war for the torturing of men did 
you but know. Good-bye, mother dearest, and fare- 
well, my sweetheart, Masha, my love. How, how 
bitter ! 

Again I see that Httle dog. The dvornik did not 
pity it, but knocked its head against the wall, and threw 
it (though still living) into a refuse pit in the courtyard 
of the house near by, where it lingered for a day. But I . . . 
I am more unfortunate because I have already suffered 
three days. To-morrow will be the fourth day — then 
there will be a fifth, sixth. 

Death, where art thou ? Come ! Take me ! 

But death does not come and does not take me. And 
I lie here under this awful sun, with not a drop of water 
to cool my burning throat and a corpse which is poisoning 
me. It has become quite decomposed, and is a seething 



FOUR DAYS 25 

mass. When nothing but the bones and uniform are left 
it will be my turn. I shall be like that. 

The day passes and the night passes. No change. 
Another morn is arriving just the same, and yet another 
day will pass. 

The rustling bushes seem to be murmuring, and whisper, 
" You will die ! You will die ! You will die !" '* You 
will not see ! You will not see ! You will not see !" 
answer the bushes from the other side. 

''No, you will not see them," says a loud voice near 
me. I give a shudder and at once come to myself. From 
out of the bushes the kindly blue eyes of Yakoff, our 
corporal, are looking at me. 

" Spades here !" he cries. " Here are two more of 
theirs." 

No spades are wanted, no need to bury me. I am alive 
— I try to cry out, but only a feeble groan comes from my 
parched lips. 

" Merciful God ! Alive ! It is our Ivanoff ; he is 
alive ! Come here, mates, our barin is alive ! Call the 
doctor !" In a few moments they are rinsing my mouth 
with water, brandy and something. Then everything 
disappears. 

The stretcher-bearers move with a gentle and measured 
swing which lulls me to rest. I awake, then lapse again 
into oblivion. My bandaged wounds are not hurting, and 
an inexpressible joyous feeling of comfort pervades my 
whole being. 

"... Ha — alt ! Low^ — er !" and the " relief " take the 
place of their comrades in carrying the stretcher. 

The N.C.O. in charge is Peter Ivanovich, a corporal of 
our company, and a tall, lanky, but very good fellow. 
He is so tall that looking towards him I gradually descry 
his head and shoulders and his long straggly beard, 
although four stalwart men are carrying the stretcher 
shoulder high. 

" Peter Ivanovich," I whisper. 



26 FOUR DAYS 

" What is it, old friend ?" and Peter Ivanovich bends 
over me. 

" Peter Ivanovich, what did the doctor say to you ? 
Shall I die soon ?" 

*' But, Ivanoff, what are you talking about ? Of 
course you will not die ; no bones have been broken. My 
word, but you are lucky. Not a bone or an artery touched 
But how have you lived these three and a half days ? 
What had you to eat ?" 

'' Nothing.'' 

" And to drink ?" 

*' I took the Turk's water-bottle. Peter Ivanovich, I 
cannot talk now — afterwards." 

" All right, chum. Try and sleep now." 

Again sleep — oblivion. . . . 

When I awake again it is to find myself in the 
Divisional Hospital tent. Around me stand nurses and 
doctors, one of whom I recognize as a well-known St. 
Petersburg professor. He is leaning over me, his hands 
are bathed in blood. He does not examine my legs long, 
and turning towards me, he says : '' God has been kind to 
you, young man. You will live. We have had to take 
one leg from you, but . . . well, that is nothing. Can you 
talk ?" I am able to talk, and I tell him all that I have 
written here. 



Ill 

AN INCIDENT 



How it has come about that I, who for almost two years 
have never thought seriously about anything, have sud- 
denly commenced to reflect — I cannot understand. It 
cannot be that man who has set me thinking, because I so 
often meet with men of his type that I am accustomed 
to their sermonizing. 

Yes, they almost all, with the exception of the abso- 
lutely hardened or really clever ones, invariably talk 
about matters which are of no use to them or even me. 
First they ask my name and my age ; then in the majority 
of cases, with an air of concern, they begin to ask, " Is 
it impossible for you to give up such a life ?" At first 
this kind of thing used to upset me, but now I am accus- 
tomed to it. One becomes accustomed to a lot. 

However, for the last fortnight, whenever I am quite 
alone and am not feeling gay — that is, not drunk (because 
can I really be merry except when drunk ?) — I begin to 
think. And, however much I do not wish to think, I 
cannot help it. I cannot get away from depressing 
thoughts. There is only one way of forgetting — to go 
out somewhere where there are plenty of people, where 
there is drunkenness and indecency. Then I too begin 
to drink and misbehave. My brain gets muddled, and 
I remember nothing. . . . Then it is — easier. But why 
is it that this never happened before ? — not from the very 

27 



28 AN INCIDENT 

first day I bid good-bye to everything ? For more than 
two years I have hved here in this beastly room, ahvays 
spending the time in the same way, frequenting the various 
restaurants and dancing-saloons, and all the time, if it 
has not really been gay, I at least have not thought so. 
But now — it is quite, quite different. 

How dull and stupid it all is ! It is not because I go 
nowhere ; I go nowhere simply because I don't want to. 
I entangled myself in this life, I know my own road. In 
a copy of an illustrated paper which one of my " friends " 
brings me whenever there is something *' spicy " in it, I 
once saw a picture. In the centre there was a pretty 
little girl with a doll, and around her there were two rows 
of figures. On the one side above they went from the 
child to the little school-girl, then the modest young 
girl, afterwards the mother of a family, and finally an 
honoured, respected old woman. On the other side, 
below — was a shop-girl carrying a box, then me, me, and 
again me. First me — like I am now, second me — sweep- 
ing the streets with a broom, and third — the same — as 
an absolutely repulsive, loathsome old hag. However, 
I shall not let myself get to that stage. Another two or 
three years, if I can stand this life as long, and then into 
the canal. I can do this, I am not afraid. 

But what a strange chap the man must be who drew 
this picture ! Why does he take it for granted that a 
school-girl becomes a modest young lady, an honoured 
mother and grandmother ? And I ? I too can show 
off my French and German in the street ! And I don't 
think I have forgotten how to paint or draw flowers, and 
I remember " Calipso ne pouvait se consoler du departe 
d'Ulysse." I remember Pushkin and Lermontoff, and 
all — all. And the examinations and that momentous, 
awful time when I became a fool, a silly fool, and listened 
to all the passionate, silly speeches of that conceited fop, 
and how stupidly I enjoyed it, and all the lies and filth 
in the " best society " from which I came into this, where 



AN INCIDENT 29 

I now make an idiot of myself with vodka. . . . Yes, 
now I have begun even to drink vodka. *' Horreur !" 
my cousin, Olga Nicolaievna, would say. 

Yes, and is it not in reality ** horreur '* ? But am I 
to blame in this matter ? If I — a seventeen-year-old girl, 
who for eight years had sat within four walls and had 
seen only other girls like myself and their different 
mammas — had not met my " friend," with his hair a la 
Capoul, but some other and good man — then it would all 
have been different. 

But what an absurd idea ! Are there really any good 
people ? Have I ever met any since or before my 
downfall ? Can I believe that there are good people 
when of the scores I know there is not one whom I could 
not hate ! Can I believe that they exist when amongst 
those I meet are husbands of young wives, children 
(almost children — fourteen and fifteen years old) of 
" good family " ! old men, bald, paralytic, half dead ? 

And finally, can I help hating and despising them, 
although I am myself a despicable and despised being, 
when amongst them are such persons as a certain young 
German with a monogram tattooed on his arm above 
the elbow ? He explained to me that it was the initials 
of his fiancee. " Jetzt aber bist du meine liebe, aller- 
liebste Liebchen," said he, looking at me with oily eyes, 
and then read me verses from Heine, and unctuously 
explained that Heine was a great German poet, but that 
they had even greater poets in Germany — Goethe and 
Schiller — and that only such a great and gifted nation 
like the Germans could produce such poets. 

How I longed to scratch his disgusting greasy face, with 
its white eyebrows and lashes ! But instead I gulped 
down the glass of port wine he had poured out for me 
and forgot all. 

* * * -H- * 

Why should I think of the future when I know it so 
well ? Why think of the past when there was nothing 



30 AN INCIDENT 

in it which could replace my present life ? Yes, it is true. 
If I were asked to-day to return to those luxurious sur- 
roundings, to mingle amongst people with their beauti- 
fully dressed hair and elegant phrases, I would not ! I 
should stay and die at my post. . . . 

Yes, I have my post ! I, too, am wanted, am neces- 
sary. Not long ago a young man came to me who talked 
everlastingly, and recited me a whole page he had learnt 
by heart out of some book, ** That is what our philo- 
sopher — a Russian philosopher — says," he explained. The 
philosopher said something very obscure but flattering 
for me to the effect that we are " the safety valves of 
public passions." . . . Disgusting words ! The philo- 
sopher himself is no doubt a beast, but worst of all this 
boy who repeated it. 

However, not long ago, this same idea came into my 
mind. I was up before a magistrate, who fined me fifteen 
roubles for obscenity in a public place. 

As he read his decision whilst all stood, I thought to 
myself : " Why do all this public look at me wdth such 
contempt ? Granted that I carry on an unclean, loath- 
some trade, a most contemptible calling — still, it is a 
calling ! This judge also has a calling. And I think 
that we both ..." 

I don't think of anything, I am conscious only that I 
drink, that I remember nothing, and get muddled. 
Everything gets mixed up in my head — the disgusting 
saloon where I shall dance shamelessly to-night and this 
horrible room in which I can only live when I am drunk. 
My temples are throbbing, there is a ringing in my ears, 
everything is swimming in my head, and I am being 
carried away. I want to stop, to take hold of something, 
if only a straw, but there is nothing, not even a straw. 

I he ! There is one ! And not a straw, but something 
perhaps more hopeful. But I have sunk so low that I 
do not wish to stretch out my hand to seize this support. 
4t « ♦ « ♦ 



AN INCIDENT 31 

It happened, I think, about the end of August. I re- 
member it was a glorious autumn evening. I was strolHng 
in the Summer Garden, and there became acquainted 
with this " support." He did not appear to be anything 
extraordinary, excepting perhaps a certain good-natured 
talkativeness. He told me about almost all his affairs 
and friends. He was twenty-five, and his name was 
Ivan Ivanovich. As for the man himself, he was neither 
bad nor good. He chatted away with me as if I had been 
an old acquaintance, told me stories of his Chief, and 
pointed out to me any of those in his Department who 
happened to be in sight. 

He left me, and I forgot all about him. About a month 
afterwards, however, he reappeared. He had grown 
thinner, and was moody and depressed. When he came 
in I was even a little frightened at the strange, forbidding- 
looking face. 

** You don't remember me ?" 

At that moment I remembered him, and said so. 

He blushed. 

** I thought perhaps you did not remember me, because 
you see so many ..." 

The conversation stopped abruptly. We sat on the 
sofa, I in one corner and he in the other, as if he had 
come for the first time to pay a call, sitting bolt upright, 
holding his tall hat in his hand. We sat like this for quite 
a time. Then he got up and bowed. 

" Good-bye, Nadejda Nicolaievna," he said with a 
sigh. 

*' How did you find out my name ?" I exclaimed, 
flaring up. The name I went under was not Nadejda 
Nicolaievna, but Evgenia. 

I shouted at Ivan Ivanovich so angrily that he became 
quite frightened. 

" But I didn't mean any harm, Nadejda Nicolaievna 

I have never wished or done harm to anyone. . . . But 
I know Peter Vassilovich of the police, who told me aU 



32 AN INCIDENT 

about you. I meant to call you Evgenia, but my tongue 
slipped, and I called you by your real name." 

" And tell me why you have come here ?" 

He said nothing, and looked sorrowfully into my eyes. 

" Why ?" I repeated, getting more and more angry. 
" What interest do I possess for you ? No, better not 
to come here. I will not start an acquaintanceship with 
you because I have no acquaintances. I know why 
you came ! The policeman's story interested you. You 
thought — here is a rarity, an educated lady who has 
fallen into this kind of life. . . . You had visions of 
rescuing me ? Clear out ! I want nothing ! Better to 
leave me to perish alone than ..." 

I chanced to glance at his face — and stopped. I saw- 
that every word was striking him like a blow. He said 
nothing, but his look alone made me stop. 

" Good-bye, Nadejda Nicolaievna," he said. " I am very 
sorry that I have hurt you and myself too. Good-bye." 

He put out his hand (I could not but take it), and 
slowly went out of the room. I heard him go do\^'^l the 
staircase, and saw through the window how, with bowed 
head, he went across the courtyard with the same slow 
and tottering gait. At the gate of the yard he turned 
round, glanced up at my window, and disappeared. 

And it is this man who can be my " support." I 
have only to make a sign, and I can become a lawful wife. 
The lawful wife of a poor but well-born man, and can 
even become a poor but well-born mother, if only the 
Lord in His anger will yet send me a child. 



II 

To-day Evsei Evsevich spoke to me : 

** You will listen to me, Ivan Ivanovich — what I, an 
old man, am going to say to you. You, my dear boy, 
have begun to behave stupidly. Take care that it does 
not reach the ears of the Chief 1" 



AN INCIDENT 33 

He went on talking for a long time (trying to speak of 
the very essence of the matter by roundabout means) 
about the service, the respect due to rank, of our Chief, 
about myself, and finally began to talk about my misfor- 
tune. We were sitting in a traktir, where Nadejda 
Nicolaievna and her friends often came. 

Evsei Evsevich had long ago noticed, and had long 
ago drawn from me a number of details. I could not hold 
my stupid tongue, and let it all out, and even almost cried. 

Evsei Evsevich got angry. 

*' Bah ! you old woman, you tender-hearted old woman ! 
A young man, a good official, you have started all this 
nonsense for such rubbish ! Have done with her ! 
What have you to do with her ? It would be all right 
if she were a respectable, decent girl ; but for, if I may 
say so . . ." 

Evsei Evsevich even spat. 

After this incident he often returned to the subject 
(Evsei Evsevich was sincerely grieved about and for me), 
but he no longer stormed at me, because he saw that it 
annoyed me. At the same time, he could not contain 
himself for long, and although he would try at first to 
talk in a roundabout way on the subject, eventually he 
v/ould come to the one conclusion that it was necessary 
to have done with it, etc. 

And I, strictly speaking, agree with what he says every 
day to me. How many times have I also thought that 
it was necessary to have done with it. Yes, how many 
times ! And how many times after such thoughts have 
I gone out of the house, and my feet have borne me to 
that street. . . . And here she comes, berouged, with 
pencilled eyebrows, in a velvet shuba, and a dainty 
sealskin cap, straight towards me, and I cross to the 
other side, so that she shall not notice that I am follow- 
ing her. She goes up to the corner, then turns back, 
impudently, brazenly looking at the passers-by, and some- 
times talking with them. I follow behind her from the 



34 AN INCIDENT 

other side of the street, trying not to lose sight of her, 
and hopelessly I gaze at her little figure until some . . . 
blackguard goes up to her and speaks. She answers him, 
turns round, and goes with him . . . and I after them. 
If the road were strewn with sharp nails it could not be 
more painful for me. I go along hearing nothing, seeing 
nothing, except two figures. . . . 

I do not look where I am going, and go along with my 
eyes starting out of my head, bumping against passers-by, 
and meeting in return with reproofs, abuse, and pushes. 
Once I knocked a child over. ... 

They turn to the right, then to the left, they go through 
the little door into the yard. She first, then he. Almost 
always out of some strange politeness he gives her the 
way. Then I follow. Opposite her two windows, so 
familiar to me, there stands a shed with a hayloft. There 
is a small flight of iron steps leading up to the hayloft, 
ending v/ith a small landing devoid of any railing. I sit 
down on this landing and gaze at the lowered white 
blinds. . . . 

To-day I was at my awful post, although there was a 
sharp frost. I became thoroughly benumbed. My feet 
lost all feeling, but still I stood there. Steam rose from 
my face, my moustaches and beard became frozen, my 
feet began to freeze. People kept passing through the 
courtyard, but did not notice me, and, talking loudly, 
used to pass by me. From the street came sounds of 
drunken singing (it was a gay street), interchange of 
abuse, the noise of the scrapers on the pavement as the 
dvorniks cleared it of snow. All these sounds rang 
in my ears, but I paid no attention to them or to the 
frost, which was biting my face and my benumbed legs. 
All this, the sounds, my feet, and the frost, seemed to be 
all far, far aw^ay from me. My legs were aching violently, 
but something inside me was aching even more violently. 
I^have not the courage to go to her. Does she know that 
there is a man who would consider it happiness to sit 



AN INCIDENT 35 

with her in a room, and only look into her eyes, not even 
touching her hands ? That there is a man who would 
hurl himself into the fire if it would help her to get out of 
the hell in which she lives, if she wanted to get out of it ? 
But she does not wish. . . . And I, up to now, do not 
know why she does not wish. I cannot believe that she 
is spoilt to the very marrow of her bones. I cannot 
believe this because I know it is not so, because I know 
her, because I love her, love her. 

* -X- * >3f * 

A waiter went up to Ivan Ivanovich, who had placed 
his elbows on the table, and with his face buried in his 
arms, was shuddering from time to time, and touched him 
on the shoulder. 

" Mr. Nikitin. You mustn't sit like this. ... In front 
of everyone. . . . The proprietor will make a fuss. 
Mr. Nikitin ! Please get up. You must not act like 
this here." 

Ivan Ivanovich raised his head and looked at the 
waiter. He was not the least drunk, and the waiter 
understood this as soon as he saw his mournful face. 

"It is nothing, Simon — nothing. Give me a bottle 
of vodka." 

" What will you order with it ?" 

" What ? A wineglass. And give me a big bottle. 
Here you are, pay for it all and take a couple of 
dvu-grivenniks for yourself. In an hour's time send me 
home in an izvoschik. Do you know where I live ?" 

" I know. . . . Only, sir, what does it all mean ?" 

He evidently could not understand. It was the first 
experience of the kind in all his long career. 

" No, wait a bit ; better for me to do it." 

Ivan Ivanovich went out into the passage, put on his 
coat, and going out on to the street, turned in at a wine- 
vault in the low window of which, brilliantly lighted up 
by the gas-light, were bottles Vvdth various coloured labels, 
tastefully arranged in a layer of moss. A minute later 



36 AN INCIDENT 

he came out carrying two bottles, went to his lodging, 
which he had in some furnished rooms, and locked 
himself in. 

Ill 

I have again forgotten and again I am awake. Three 
weeks of incessant debauchery ! How do I stand it ? 
To-day my head, bones, every part of my body is aching. 
Remorse, boredom, fruitless and tormenting arguing ! 
If only someone would come ! 

* -Yf ->!• 4e- * 

As if in answer to my thought a ring at the door 
sounded. ** Is Evgenia at home ?" "At home ; come in, 
please," I heard the voice of the cook reply. Uneven, 
hurried steps resounded along the corridor, the door fiev/ 
open, and through it appeared Ivan Ivanovich. 

He was not at all like the timid, bashful man who had 
come to see me two months ago. His hat was on the side 
of his head, he wore a bright-coloured tie, and a self- 
assured, insolent expression. His gait was staggering, 
and he smelt strongly of liquor. 

•3f * * * 

Nadejda Nicolaievna jumped up from her seat. 

" How do you do ?" he began. " I have come to see 
you." 

And he sat down on a chair near the door, without 
taking off his hat or overcoat. She said nothing and 
he said no more. Had he not been drunk she would have 
found something to say, but now she lost her presence of 
mind. Whilst she was thinking what to do, he again spoke. 

" Nadia ! See, I have come. ... I have the right !" 
he suddenly shouted out, and drew himself up to his full 
height. His hat fell off, and his black hair fell in disorder 
on to his face, his eyes blazed. His whole appearance 
expressed such delirium that for a moment Nadejda 
Nicolaievna was frightened. 

She tried to speak tenderly with him. 



AN INCIDENT 



37 



" Listen, Ivan Ivanovich, I shall be very pleased if you 
will come another time, only go home now. You have 
had too much to drink. Be a good fellow and go home. 
Come and see me when you are well." 

" She is frightened," Ivan Ivanovich muttered half to 
himself, again sitting down on the chair — tamed ! *' But 
why are you hunting me away ?" he broke out again 
fiercely. " Why ? I began to drink through you ; I 
used to be sober ! Why do you draw me to you, tell 
me?" 

He wept. Drunken tears stifled him, trickled down 
his face, falling into his mouth contorted v/ith sobbing. 
He could scarcely speak. 

" Another woman would consider it a piece of fortune 
to be taken out of this hell. I would slave for you like 
a bullock. You would live without care, quietly and 
honourably. Tell me, what have I done to merit your 
hatred ?" 

Nadejda Nicolaievna kept silent. 

" Why are you silent ?" he yelled. " Speak, say some- 
thing ! — anything you like, only say something. I am 
drunk — that's true. ... I should not have come here 
if I were not. Do you know how afraid I am of you 
when I am sober ? You can do what you like with me. 
Tell me to steal— I'll steal. Tell me to kill— I'll kill. 
Do you know this ? Of course you knov/ ! You are 
clever and see everything. If you do not know it . . . 
Nadia, Nadia, my heart's darling, pity me !" 

And he threw himself on to his knees before her. But 
she sat motionless, resting against the v/all, with her head 
thrown back and her hands behind her back. Her eyes 
were fixed on some far-away point. Did she see any- 
thing ? Did she hear anything ? W^hat v/ere her feehngs 
at the sight of this man who had thrown himself at her 
feet and was imploring her love ? Pity ? Contempt ? 
She wanted to pity him, but felt she could not. He only 
excited her aversion. And could he have excited any 



38 AN INCIDENT 

other feeling in this pitiful state ? — drunk, dirty, abjectly 
imploring ? 

He had already for some days past given up going to 
his work. He drank every day. Finding consolation 
in drink, he began to follow the object of his passion less, 
and sat all the time at home drinking and trying to muster 
up courage to go to her and tell her all. What he would 
say to her he did not himself know. " I will tell her 
everything, open my soul," flashed through his fuddled 
head. At length he made up his mind, v/ent and began 
to speak. Even through the mist of his drunkenness he 
realized that he was saying and doing things not at all 
calculated to inspire love towards him, but all the same, 
he went on speaking, feeling that with every word he 
was falling lower and lower, and drawing the noose tighter 
and tighter around his neck. 

He spoke long and disjointedly. His speech became 
slower and slower, and finally his drunken, swollen eyelids 
closed, and with his head thrown back against the chair, 
he fell asleep. 

Nadejda Nicolaievna remained in her former pose, 
vacantly gazing at the ceiling, drumming with her fingers 
on the wall-paper. 

" Am I sorry for him ? No. What can I do for him ? 
Marry him ? Dare I ? Would it not be the same selHng 
of myself ? Yes — no, it would be even worse I" 

She did not know why it would be worse, but felt it. 

" Now, I am at least frank. Anyone may strike me. 
Have I not suffered insults ? But then, how would I 
be better ? Would it not be the same depravity, only 
not less frank ? There he sits asleep, his head hanging 
backwards. Mouth open, face pale as death. His clothes 
are all stained. He must have fallen down somewhere. 
How heavily he is breathing . . . sometimes even 
snoring. . . . Yes, but this will all pass, and he will become 
once more a decent, self-respecting man. No, it isn't 
that. It seems to me that if I let this man get the upper 



AN INCIDENT 39 

hand of me he will torment me with recollections . . . and 
I could not endure it. No, I'll stay what I am. . . . Yes, 
it won't be for much longer." 

She threw a shawl around her shoulders and left the 
room, slamming the door behind her. Ivan Ivanovich 
woke from the noise, looked around him with unmeaning 
eyes, and feeling it uncomfortable to sleep on a chair, 
with difficulty staggered to the bed, fell on to it, and 
dropped off into a dead sleep. He awoke with his head 
aching, but sober, late in the evening, and, seeing where 
he was, fled. 

4e- * * * * 

I left the house not knowing where I was going. The 
weather was bad. The day gloomy and dull. A wet 
snow was falling on my face and hands. It would have 
been much better to stay indoors, but could I sit there 
with him ? He is going absolutely to ruin. What can 
I do to keep him ? Can I change my relations towards 
him ? My whole soul, my whole inner being revolts and 
burns at the thought. I do not myself know why I do 
not wish to take advantage of this opportunity to have 
done with this awful life, to rid myself of this nightmare. 
If I were to marry him ? A new life, new hopes. . . . 
Surely the feeling of pity which I nevertheless have for 
him would turn to love ? 

But no ! Now he is ready to lick my hand, but after- 
wards will trample me underfoot and say : " And you 
still oppose me, contemptible creature ! You despised 
me !" 

Would he say this ? I think so. 

There is one means of salvation for me, an excellent 
one, on which I have long made up my mind, and to 
which I expect I shall eventually have recourse. But 
I think it is still too soon. I am too young, I feel too 
much that I am alive. I want to live, to breathe, to feel, 
hear, see. I want to be able, even if rarely, to see the 
sky and the Neva. 



40 AN INCIDENT 

Here is the Quay. On the one side enormous buildings, 
and on the other — the blackening, icebound Neva. The 
ice will soon move, and then the river will be blue. The 
park on the opposite side is becoming green. The islands, 
too, are becoming covered with foliage. Although it is 
a Petersburg spring, still, it is spring. 

And suddenly I remembered my last happy spring. 
I was then a girl of seven years, and lived with my father 
and mother in the country in the steppe. They paid little 
heed to what I did, and I ran about where and as much as 
I chose. I remember in the beginning of March how 
the rivers rushed along the gullies, roaring with the melted 
snow, how the steppe became darker, how wonderful the 
air became, how moist and joyous. First the top of the 
mounds showed themselves with the short grass on 
them becoming green. Then afterv/ards the whole steppe 
became green, although drift snow still lay in the gullies 
and ravines. Rapidly, in a few days, literally as if they 
had sprung already freed from out of the earth, bunches 
of peonies grew up and on them, their gaudy bright 
crimson blooms. The larks began to sing. 

Oh Lord ! What have I done that even in this life 
I have been thrown into hell ? Surely all that I go 
through is worse than any hell ! 

The stone steps lead straight down to a prorub. 
Something impelled me to go down these steps and look 
at the water. But is it too soon ? Of course it is. I 
will wait a little. 

All the same, it would be nice to stand on the slippery 
wet edge of the prorub. It would be so easy to slip 
in. It would only be cold. . . . One second — and I 
should float under the ice down the river. A mad 
beating of the ice above with hands, feet, head, face. It 
would be interesting to know if daylight is visible through 
the ice. 

I stood motionless over the prorub, and so long 
that I had got to the state when one thinks of nothing. 



AN INCIDENT 41 

My feet had long been wet through, yet I did not move 
from the spot. It was not a cold wind, but it pierced 
right through me, so that I was shivering all over ; but 
still I stood there. I do not know how long this would 
have lasted if somebody had not called out from the 
Quay : 

'' Heh, Madame ! Lady !" 

I did not turn round. 

" Lady, please come back on to the pavement !'* 

Somebody behind me began to come dov/n the steps. 
In addition to the shufBing of feet along the steps sprinkled 
with sand, I heard a sort of dull noise. I turned round. 
It was a gorodovoi, who had come down, and it was 
his sword I had heard. When he saw my face, the re- 
spectful expression on his face abruptly changed to one 
of coarse insolence. He came up to me and seized me 
by the shoulder. 

" Get out of this, you ! The likes of you are every- 
where. You will be fool enough to throw yourself into 
the prorub, and then I shall lose my billet through 
you." 

He knew b}^ my face what I am. 



IV 

All is the same as before. It is not possible to be one 
minute alone without being seized with melancholy. 
What shall I do so as to forget ? 

Annushka has brought me a letter. From whom ? 
It is so long since I had had a latter from anyone. 

" Madame Nadedja Nicolaievna, 

" Although I thoroughly understand that I am 
nothing to you, I nevertheless beHeve that you are a nice 
girl and will not want to offend me. For the first and 
last time I beg you to come and see me, as to-day is my 



42 AN INCIDENT 

name-day. I have no relations, no friends. I implore 
you to come. I give you my word I will say nothing 
displeasing or offensive. Pity your devoted 

" Ivan Nikitin. 

" P.S. — I cannot think of my recent behaviour in your 
rooms without shame. Come to-day at six o'clock. I 
enclose my address. — I. N." 

What does this mean ? He has had the courage to 
write to me. There is something behind it all. What 
does he want to do with me ? Shall I go or not ? 

It is difficult to decide — go or not ? If he wants to 
lure me into a trap, either to kill me or . . . but if he kills 
me, all is ended. 

I will go. 

I will dress more plainly and modestly, wash the rouge 
and powder off my face. It will be more pleasing to him. 
I will do my hair more plainly. How my hair has fallen 
out ! I did my hair, put on a black woollen dress, a 
black scarf, white collar and cuffs, and went to the glass 
to look at myself. 

I almost cried out at seeing in it a woman not at all 
like the Evgenia who performs indecent dances so well 
at various cafes. It v/as not the impudent, berouged 
cocotte with smiling face, flash puffed-out chignon, 
and pencilled lashes. This draggled and suffering woman, 
pale-faced and melancholy-looking, with big black eyes 
and dark circles around them, is something quite new — 
it is not I. But perhaps it is I. And that Evgenia 
whom all see and know is something strange, mocking me, 
pressing me, killing me. 

And I really cried. I cried long and bitterly. They 
have assured me since babyhood that one feels easier 
after crying, but this cannot be true for all, because I do 
not feel easier, but worse. Every sob hurts me, every 
tear is a bitter one. To those who have still some hope 



AN INCIDENT 43 

of peace and of being cured such tears perhaps give 
relief ; but what hope have I ? 

I dried my tears and started off. 

***** 

I found the address without any difficulty, and the 
Finnish maidservant showed me Ivan Ivanovich's door. 

" May I come in ?" 

There was a sound in the room of a drawer being 
hurriedly shut. " Come in !" Ivan Ivanovich called out 
quickly. I entered. He was sitting at a writing-table 
and was sealing an envelope. He did not seem even to 
be glad to see me. 

" How do you do, Ivan Ivanovich ?" I said. 

" How do you do, Nadejda Nicolaievna ?" he replied, 
rising and putting out his hand. A gleam of tenderness 
flashed across his face when I put out my hand, but 
disappeared immediately. He was serious and even 
severe. " Thank you for coming." 

" Why did you ask me ?" I inquired. 

" My goodness, surely you know what it means to me 
to see you ! But that is an unpleasant topic for you." 

We sat down and kept silent. The Finn maid 
brought a samovar. Ivan Ivanovich gave me some 
tea and sugar. Then he placed some jam, biscuits, 
sweets, and half a bottle of wine on the table. 

*' Forgive me for this ' treat/ Nadejda Nicolaievna. 
Perhaps it is displeasing to you, but don't be angry. 
Be kind, make and pour out the tea. Eat something — 
there are the sweets and wine." 

I began to do the duties of hostess, and he sat opposite 
me so that his face was in the shade, and began to gaze 
at me. I felt his eyes fixed steadily on me, and felt that 
I was getting red. 

For a moment I raised my eyes, but dropped them again 
directly because he continued to look me straight in the 
face. What does it mean ? Surely the surroundings, 
the modest black dress, the absence of impudent people 



44 AN INCIDENT 

and stupid talk has not affected me so strongly that I 
have once more turned into a demure and confused girl, 
such as I was two years ago ? I was annoyed, vexed 
with myself. 

" Tell me, please, v/hy are you poking your eyes out 
at me like that for ?" I said, with an effort, but bravely. 

Ivan Ivanovich jumped up and began to walk about 
the room. 

" Nadejda Nicolaievna, don't be common. Be just 
for an hour as you were when you arrived." 

" But I don't understand why you have sent for me. 
Surely not merely to sit and look at me and say nothing." 

" Yes, Nadejda Nicolaievna, only for this. It at least 
does not give you any special annoyance, and it comforts 
me to look at you — for the last time. It was so good of 
you to come in that dress. I did not expect that, and I 
am still more grateful to you for it." 

" But why for the last time, Ivan Ivanovich ?" 

'* I am going av/ay." 

" Where ?" 

" Far away, Nadejda Nicolaievna. It is not my name- 
day at all to-day. I don't know Vv^hy I wrote that. I 
simply wanted to see you once more. First, I meant to 
have gone out and waited until I met you, but afterwards 
I decided to beg you to come here. And you were good 
enough to come. God grant you happiness !" 

*' There is little happiness ahead for me, Ivan Ivano- 
vich." 

*' Yes, that is true, for you there is little happiness. 
But you know better than I what is ahead of you. ..." 
His voice trembled. " I am better off," he added, 
" because I am going away." And his voice trembled 
still more. 

I began to feel inexpressibly sorry for him. Was it 
just all the bad I had felt against him ? Why had I 
pushed him away so coarsely and harshly ? But now 
it was already too late for regrets. 



AN INCIDENT 45 

I got up and began to put on my things. Ivan Ivano- 
vich jumped up as if stung. 

" You are going already ?" he asked in an agitated 
voice. 

** Yes, I must go. . . ." 

" You must ? . . . Again there ? Nadejda Nico- 
laievna ! Yes, better for me to kill you at once !" 

He said this in a whisper, having seized me by the 
arm and looking at me with a troubled expression in his 
dilated eyes. 

" Is it better ? Tell me !" 

" But you know, Ivan Ivanovich, that you vrill go to 
Siberia for it. And I don't want that at all." 

** To Siberia ! . . . And is it only out of fear of Siberia 
that I cannot kill you ? . . . No, that is not why. . . . 
I cannot kill you because . . . but how can I kill you ? 
How can I kill you ?" he murmured chokingly, . . . 
*'I " 

And he seized me, lifted me up as if I had been a child, 
crushing me in his embrace, and raining kisses on my face, 
lips, eyes, and hair. Then, just as suddenly as this had 
all happened, he put me down and said quickly : 

*' Well, go ! go ! , . . Forgive me, but it is the first 
and last time. Don't be angry with me. Go, Nadejda 
Nicolaievna !" 

** I am not angry, Ivan Ivanovich. ..." 

" Go ! Go ! Thank you for coming." 

He saw me to the door, and immediately afterwards 
locked it. I began to go down the staircase. I was 
feeling more depressed than before. 

Let him go and forget me. I will stay and live out my 
time. Enough of sentimentality. I'll go home. 

I quickened my pace, and began to think of what 
dress I should wear and where to go in the evening. And 
so my romance has ended, a momentary halt on the 
slippery path ! Now I shall go on without let or hin- 
drance ever lower and lower. . . . 



46 AN INCIDENT 

But if he means to shoot himself now ! suddenly some- 
thing cried out within me. I stopped as if transfixed. 
My eyes became dark, cold shivers ran down my back. 
I could not breathe. . . . Yes, he is at this moment 
killing himself ! He slammed the drawer — he was look- 
ing at a revolver. He had written a letter. . . . The last 
time. . . . Run ! Perhaps I shall yet be in time. Oh 
God ! stop him ! God ! leave him for me ! 

A mortal strange fear seized me. I rushed back as 
if possessed, tearing my way through passers-by. I do 
not remember how I tore up the stairs. I only remember 
the vacant face of the Finn servant who let me in. I 
remember the long, dark corridor with its row of doors. 
I remember how I threw myself at his door ; but as I 
seized the handle a shot resounded from inside. People 
rushed out from all sides, everything swam around me, 
people, corridor, doors, walls. And I fell . . . everything 
in my head also swam and disappeared. . . . 



IV 

COWARD 

The war is decidedly giving me no rest. I see clearly 
that it is dragging, and when it will end is very difficult 
to foretell. Our soldiers are as splendid as ever, but the 
enemy has proved far from being as weak as we thought, 
and nov/, four months from the declaration of war, no 
decisive success has been gained by our side. In the 
meanwhile every extra day claims its hundreds of victims. 
Is it my nerves which cause the telegrams merely stating 
the numbers of killed and wounded to affect me far more 
than those around me ? Somebody will calmly read 
out : " Our losses insignificant ; officers, wounded, so 
many, giving names ; rank and file, killed, 50 ; wounded, 
100," and even rejoice that the numbers are so small; 
but to me the reading of such news immediately brings 
the whole bloody picture before my eyes. Fifty dead, 
one hundred maimed — this is " insignificant !" Why are 
we so horrified when the newspapers inform us of some 
murder where the victims are few ? Why does not the 
sight of corpses riddled with bullets lying on a battle- 
field strike us with the same horror as the interior of a 
house ransacked by murder ? Why does a catastrophe 
costing the lives of some scores of persons cause all 
Russia to cry out, whilst nobody pays any attention to 
advanced-guard skirmishes with " insignificant " losses, 
also of some scores of men ? 

47 



48 COWARD 

A few days ago Lvoff, a medical student and a 
friend of mine, with whom I often argue about the 
war, said to me : *' Well, we shall see, my peaceful 
friend, what will become of your humanitarian convic- 
tions when you are called up and are obliged to fire at 
people." 

" Me, Vassili Petrovich ? They will not call me up. 
I am in the Militia Reserve." 

" That may be, but if the war drags on it will affect 
the Militia as well. Do not be too sure about it. Your 
turn will come." 

My heart seemed to contract. How was it that this 
thought had not come into my head before ? Of course 
the Militia will be called up. There was nothing impos- 
sible in that. *' If the war drags on," and it is sure to 
drag on. Even if this war does not last long it is all the 
same, some other war will commence. Why not have 
a war ? Why not perform great exploits ? It seems to 
me that the present war is only the forerunner of future 
wars from which I shall not escape, nor my little brother, 
nor even my sister's baby boy. And my turn will come 
very soon. 

What will become of your " ego " ? Your whole being 
protests against the war, but nevertheless the war will 
compel you to shoulder a rifle, and go to die . . . and kill. . . . 
No, it is impossible ! I am a quiet, kind-hearted young 
man who has up till now known only his books, the 
lecture-room, the family circle, and one or two close 
friends ; who has dreamt in one or two years' time of 
beginning other work, the labour of love and of truth. 
I have been accustomed to regard this world objectively, 
accustomed to place it before me. I have imagined I 
understood all the evil in it, and so would be able to avoid 
this evil. But now I see my whole building of tranquillity 
destroyed, and I see myself automatically fitting on to 
my shoulders those same tatters, holes, and stains which 
I have hitherto only looked at. And no kind of develop- 



COWARD 49 

ment, no self-knowledge, no knowledge of the world, no 
kind of spiritual liberty will give me a pitiful physical 
liberty — the liberty to dispose of my own body. 
* * * * * 

Lvoff laughs when I begin to expound my views against 
the war to him. 

" My dear old chap, look at things more simply, life 
Vvill be easier then," says he. " Do you think that this 
carnage is to my taste ? Apart from the fact that it will 
bring misfortune on all, it also affects me personally. It 
will not let me finish my studies. They will reduce the 
term of the courses, and send us out to cut off legs and 
arms. For all that I do not worry myself with fruitless 
reflections on the horrors of war, because, whatever I 
may think, I can do nothing to abolish it. Surely it is 
better not to think about it, but to mind one's own 
business ? If they send us to treat the wounded, I shall 
go and do so. What is to be done in such a time as this ? 
One must sacrifice oneself. By the way, do you know 
that Masha is going as a hospital nurse ?" 

" Not really ?" 

*' The day before yesterday she made up her mind, and 
to-day has gone to practise bandaging. I did not try to 
dissuade her, but only asked her how she intends to 
arrange about her studies. 

" * Afterwards,' she says ... * I will study afterwards if 
I am alive.' Never mind ; let her go as a nurse. It will 
do her good." 

" And what about Kuzma Thomich ?" 

" Kuzma says nothing, only he has become almost 
ferociously gloomy, and has quite given up studying. I 
am glad for his sake that my sister is going. He is simply 
wasting away, and is in torture. He follows her like her 
shadow and does nothing. Well — it is love !" and Vassili 
Petrovich shook his head. " He has rushed off now to 
escort her home, as if she has not always gone about 
alone !" 



50 COWARD 

*' It seems to me, Vassili Petrovich, that it is a pity he 
lives with you." 

" Of course it is a pity, but who could have foreseen 
this ? For myself and sister this lodging is too large. 
There was one room too many. Why not let it to a nice 
man ? And a nice man took it and has fallen in love. 
And I am sorry, and it is sad for her. How is Kuzma 
beneath her ? He is a kind, intelligent, good chap. But 
she literally does not seem to notice him. But now make 
yourself scarce. I have no time to waste. If you want 
to see my sister and Kuzma, wait in the dining-room. 
They will be back soon." 

** No, Vassili Petrovich, I also have no time to spare. 
Good-bye." 

I had only just got into the street when I saw Mary 
Petrovna and Kuzma. They were coming along without 
speaking. Mary Petrovna in front, with a determined, 
concentrated expression on her face, and Kuzma a little 
to one side behind her, literally not daring to walk along- 
side her, but from time to time casting a hurried glance 
towards her face. They passed by without seeing me. 

•3f * * * * 

I can do nothing and think of nothing. I have read 
the account of the third fight before Plevna. Twelve 
thousand casualties amongst the Russians and Rouma- 
nians alone ! — without counting the Turks — twelve thou- 
sand ! . . . These figures come before me in the form of 
an endless, drawn-out string of corpses lying side by 
side. If placed shoulder to shoulder they would form a 
road eight versts long. 

''What is this?" 

They tell me something about Skobeloff : that he 
hurled himself at some place, attacked something, took 
some fort, or they have taken it from him — I do not 
remember. In this awful affair I understand and see 
only one thing — a mountain of corpses serving as a 
pedestal for grandiose matters which will be inscribed 



COWARD 51 

on the pages of history. Perhaps it is necessary — I will 
not take it upon myself to judge, and I cannot. I am not 
arguing about the war, but regard it with a direct feeling 
aroused by the wholesale shedding of blood. The bullock 
before the eyes of which other bullocks are slaughtered 
probably experiences something similar. It does not 
understand why it is to be killed, and only gazes terrified, 
with starting eyes, at the blood, and bellows in a despairing, 
heart-rending manner. 

* * * * -x- 

Am I a coward or not ? 

To-day I was told that I am a coward. Certainly it 
was a very shallow-minded person v/ho said so when I 
declared in her presence my unwillingness to go to the 
war, and expressed a fear that they will call me up to 
serve. Her opinion did not distress me, but raised the 
question — Am I really a coward ? Perhaps all my 
aversion against what everyone else considers a great 
matter only arises from fear of my skin ! Is it really 
worth while to worry about any one unimportant life in 
view of a great matter ? And am I capable of subjecting 
my life to danger generally for the sake of any matter ? 

I did not occupy myself for any length of time with 
these questions. I recalled my whole life, all those occa- 
sions — truth to say, not many — on v/hich I have been 
brought face to face with danger, and I could not charge 
myself with cowardice. I did not fear for my life then, 
and I do not now. Consequently it is not death which 
frightens me. . . . 

Always fresh battles, fresh mortal suffering. After 
reading the papers I can do nothing. In books, instead 
of letters, I see prostrate rows of human beings. My pen 
seems a weapon inflicting black wounds on the white 
paper. If this goes much further it will become regular 
hallucinations. But now a new trouble has appeared 
which has somewhat taken me away from the everlasting 
oppressing thought. 



52 COWARD 

Yesterday evening I went to the LvofiEs and found 
them at tea. The brother and sister were sitting at the 
table, but Kuzma was pacing quickly from corner to 
corner of the room, holding his hand to a swollen face 
tied up with a handkerchief. 

" What is the matter ?" I asked him. 

He did not answer, but only made a gesture with his 
hand and continued his pacing. 

*' His teeth have been aching, and an enormous abscess 
has formed," said Mary Petrovna. " I begged him at 
the time to go and see a doctor, but he would not listen 
to me, and now see what it has come to." 

" The doctor will be here directly. I went for him," 
said Vassili Petrovich. 

" Very necessary," murmured Kuzma through his teeth. 

*' Of course, when it might easily turn into something 
most serious, and you still keep walking about, in spite 
of my entreaties to lie down. Do you know how this 
sometimes ends ?" 

" It is all the same how it ends," muttered Kuzma. 

" Not at all, Kuzma Thomich," put in Mary Petrovna 
quietly. " Do not talk nonsense." 

These words v/ere sufficient to calm Kuzma. He even 
sat down at the table and asked for some tea. Mary 
Petrovna poured some out, and handed him the glass. 
When he took the glass from her hand his face took on a 
triumphant expression which was so incongruous with 
the comical appearance given him by his swollen cheek 
that I could not help smiling. Lvoff also laughed. Only 
Mary Petrovna looked seriously and compassionately at 
Kuzma. 

The doctor arrived, a fresh-looking, ruddy-complexioned 
man with cheeks like rosy apples and a most cheery 
manner. But when he examined the patient's neck his 
usual cheery expression changed to one of some concern. 

** Come along," said he, ** let us go into your room. 
I must have a good look at you." 



COWARD 53 

I went after them to Kuzma's room. The doctor 
placed him on the bed and commenced to examine the 
upper portion of his chest, carefully tapping it with his 
fingers. 

" H'm, you must lie quietly and not get up. Have you 
any friends who would give up some of their spare time 
for you ?" inquired the doctor. 

*' I think so," replied Kuzma in a perplexed tone. 

" I would ask them," said the doctor, turning politely 
to me, " to look after the patient from to-day, and if any 
new symptoms appear to come for me." 

He left the room. Lvoff escorted him to the passage, 
where they talked for a long time in low tones about 
something, and I went to Mary Petrovna. She was 
sitting in a thoughtful pose, resting her head on one hand, 
and with the other was slowly stirring her tea. 

" The doctor has ordered someone to watch Kuzma." 

" Is there really any danger ?" Mary Petrovna asked 
with alarm. 

" Probably there is — otherwise, why should it be neces- 
sary to watch him ? You will not refuse to look after 
him ?" 

" Of course not. I have not gone to the war, but yet 
must turn nurse. Let us go to him. It must be very dull 
for him to lie all alone." 

Kuzma met us smiling, so far as his swollen cheek 
allowed him to do so. 

" Thank you," he said, '' and I was already beginning 
to think you had forgotten me." 

" No, Kuzma Thomich, we will not forget you now. 
We must look after you. See what becomes of disobe- 
dience," said Mary Petrovna smilingly. 

" And shall you ?" timidly asked Kuzma. 

" Yes, yes, only you will have to obey me." 

Kuzma closed his eyes and reddened with pleasure. 

*' Ah, yes," said he suddenly, turning to me. " Give 
me the looking-glass ; it is lying on the table." 



54 ^ COWARD 

I gave him a small round looking-glass. Kuzma 
begged me to show him the light, and with the help of the 
glass he looked at the place. After this his face darkened, 
and, notwithstanding that we three tried to make him 
talk, he never uttered a word all the evening. 

•Jf x- * * -x- 

To-day they have told me that they will soon call up 
the Militia. I have expected it, and was not much 
surprised. I could get out of the fate I so fear. I could 
make use of certain influential friends, and stay in 
St. Petersburg at my post. They could " arrange " it 
for me, or send me as a clerk. But first I dislike resorting 
to such means, and second something vague and un- 
defined within me is weighing up my position, and forbids 
me shirk the war. " It is not right," says a little voice 
inside me. 

* * -jf * * 

Something I never dreamt of has happened. 

I went this morning to relieve Mary Petrovna in 
watching Kuzma. She met me at the door with tear- 
stained eyes, pale and worn out with a sleepless night. 

" What is the matter, Mary Petrovna ?" 

" Hush !" she whispered. " Do you knov/ all is 
ended ?" 

" What is ended ? He is not dead ?" 

'' No, no, not yet — but there is no possible hope. 
Both doctors — we called in another " Tears pre- 
vented her from saying more. 

*' Come and look at him." 

" You must first dry those tears and drink some water. 
You will quite upset him." 

" It is all the same. Does not he know already ! He 
knew yesterday when he asked for the glass. He would 
soon have been a doctor himself." 

The heavy atmosphere of an operating theatre filled 
Ihe room in which the sick man lay. His bed had been 
moved into the middle of the room. His long legs, huge 



COWARD 55 

body, and arms stretched by his sides, showed up clearly 
under the blanket. His eyes were closed, and he was 
breathing slowly and heavily. It seemed to me that he 
had grown thinner in one night. His face was sticky 
and moist, and had an unpleasant greenish tinge. 

" What is the matter with him ?" I asked in a whisper. 

" Let him tell you. You stay with him. I cannot." 

She left the room, hiding her face in her hands and 
convulsed v/ith the sobs she was trying to restrain, and I 
sat down near the bed and w^aited until he should awake. 
There was an oppressive stillness in the room. Only the 
rare, heavy breathing of the sick man was heard and the 
soft ticking of a watch lying on a little table near the 
bed. I looked at his face, which was scarcely recog- 
nizable. It was not that his features had changed so 
much, but that I saw an entirely new light in them. 
I had known Kuzma for a long time, a-nd we were friends, 
although not on especially intimate terms. I had never 
been on such terms with him as now. I recalled his life, 
disappointments, and joys as if they had been my own. 
In his love for Mary Petrovna I had hitherto seen more 
of the comic side, but now I understood what torments 
this being must have experienced. Was he really in such 
danger ? I wondered. He cannot be. Surely a man 
cannot die from toothache ! Mary Petrovna is crying 
about him, but he wall recover, and all will be well. 

He opened his eyes and saw me. Without changing 
the expression on his face, he said slowly, pausing after 
each w^ord : 

" How do you do ? — See what — I am like. — The end 
has come. Has come so — stealthily, unexpectedly — it is 
stupid." 

" Tell me, Kuzma, what is the matter with you ? 
Perhaps it is nothing like so bad as all that." 

" Not so bad, — you say. No, no, old friend — it is very 
bad. I do not make mistakes on such a simple matter 
as this. Look 1" 



56 COWARD 

He slowly and mechanically turned down the blanket 
and unbuttoned his shirt. Commencing from the right 
side of his neck was a dark, unpleasant-looking patch, 
the size of one's hand, extending to his chest — gangrene. 
* * * * * 

For four days now by the sick man's bedside I have not 
closed my eyes, sitting first with Mary Petrovna and then 
with her brother. The patient appears to be barely 
living, yet life seems to be unwilling to leave his strong 
body. They have cut out the dead flesh, and the doctors 
have ordered us to wash the gaping wound left by the 
operation every two hours. Every two hours we two or 
three go to his bed, turn him over, raise his huge body, 
and wash the terrible wound with carbolic acid through 
a gutta-percha tube. It sprays the wound, and Kuzma 
sometimes finds strength even to smile because he ex- 
plains " it tickles." As is the case with all persons who 
are rarely ill, he likes being nursed and tended like a 
child, and when Mary Petrovna takes in her hands what 
he calls " the reins of government " — that is, the gutta- 
percha tube — and begins to spray, he is especially pleased, 
and declares that no one can do this so skilfully as she, 
notwithstanding the fact that her trembling hands often 
cause the bed to be soaked with water. 

How their relations have altered ! Mary Petrovna, 
who had been something unattainable for him, on whom 
he had gazed and feared, who had never taken any notice 
of him, now nurses him tenderly, and often sits crying 
quietly by his bedside. And he calmly accepts it all as a 
matter of course, and talks to her as would a father to his 
little daughter. 

Sometimes he suffers very much. His wound burns 
and fever racks him. . . . Then strange thoughts come 
into my brain. To me Kuzma seems one of those of 
whom there are tens of thousands mentioned in the 
reports. By his pain and sufferings I attempt to measure 
the evil caused by the war. How much suffering and 



COWARD 57 

anguish here in one room, on one bed — and yet all this is 
merely one drop in the sea of sorrow and agony being 
experienced by the enormous number of those whom 
they are sending forward only to lie on the field in 
heaps of dead or still groaning, blood-stained, plundered 
bodies. 

I must ask Lvoff or Mary Petrovna to take my place, 
if only for a couple of hours, whilst I have a rest. I am 
utterly worn out from want of sleep and my depressing 
thoughts. 

***** 

I was sleeping soundly, curled up on the little sofa, 
when I was awakened by someone touching my shoulder. 

" Get up ! get up !" said Mary Petrovna. 

I jumped up instantly, without at first understanding 
anything. Mary Petrovna whispered something rapidly 
in a frightened manner to me. 

" Spots ! new spots !" I gathered at last. 

" What spots, and where ?" 

" Oh dear, dear! he does not understand," she wailed. 
" New spots have appeared on Kuzma Thomich. I have 
already sent for the doctor." 

" But perhaps it is nothing," said I, with the indifference 
of a just-awakened man. 

'* How nothing ? Look for yourself." 

Kuzma was wrapped in a heavy, restless sleep. He 
kept tossing his head from side to side, and sometim.es 
groaned deeply. His chest was bare, and I saw on it, 
an inch or so below the bandaged wound, two new little 
black spots. The gangrene had penetrated further under 
the skin, and spreading under it, had come to the surface 
in two places. Although before this I had little hope of 
his recovery, these new unmistakable symptoms of death 
made me turn pale. 

Mary Petrovna sat in a corner of the room with her 
hands on her knees, and silently gazed at me with de- 
spairing eyes. 



58 COWARD 

*' You must not despair," I said to her. " The doctor 
will be here directly, and will examine him. Perhaps it 
is not yet all over, and perhaps we shall yet pull him 
round." 

" No, he will die," she whispered. 

" Well, if he dies," I answered, also quietly, '* it will, of 
course, be a great grief to all of us, but you must not wear 
yourself out in this manner. You look half dead." 

" You do not understand what tortures I suffer these 
days. I cannot myself explain why I did not love him, 
and even now do not love him, in the way he does me. 
But if he dies my heart will break. I shall always re- 
member his steady, open glance, his persistent silence 
when near me, although he liked talking, and could talk 
well. I shall always reproach myself that I did not 
take pity on him, did not appreciate his cleverness, his 
love, his devotion. Perhaps this seems ridiculous to 
you, but the thought is a constant torture to me now 
that if I had loved him — we should have lived quite 
differently. All w^ould have happened differently, and 
this awful and stupid business would not have happened. 
One thinks and thinks, excuses and justifies oneself, but 
all the time at the bottom of one's mind something keeps 
saying — Your fault, your fault, your fault !" 

At that moment I glanced at the patient, fearing that 
our v/hispering would awaken him, and saw a change 
in his face. He had awaked, and was listening to what 
Mary Petrovna was saying, but did not wish to show he 
was. His lips trembled, his cheeks burned, his whole 
face was lighted up literally as if by the sun, just as 
a wet, sombre-looking field is brightened up when the 
clouds above it open and allow a ray of sunshine to peep 
through. He had evidently forgotten about his sickness 
and fear of death. Only one feeling filled him, and two 
tears trickled from his closed and trembhng eyelids. 
Mary Petrovna looked at him for a second or two half- 
frightenedly, and then blushed. A soft expression 



COWARD 59 

flashed into her face, and, bending over the poor half- 
corpse, she kissed him. 

Then he opened his eyes. '* My God, how I do not 
want to die !" he murmured. And suddenly strange, 
quiet sobbing sounds filled the room — sounds quite new 
to me, who had never seen this man cry. I left the room, 
I was almost breaking down myself. 

I also do not want to die, and all these thousands do 
not want to die. Kuzma at least has found consolation 
in his last moments — but there at the war ! Kuzma, for 
all his fear of death and his physical suffering, would 
scarcely change these present moments for any others 
of his life. No, it is not that at all ! Death will always 
be death, but to die amidst those near and dear to one, 
and falling into the mud and one's own blood, momen- 
tarily expecting someone will come up and finish you 
off, or that guns will ride over you and crush you like a 
worm. 

" I tell you frankly," said the doctor to me in the 
passage, as he put on his shuba and galoshes, " that 
with similar cases in hospitals ninety-nine out of one 
hundred are fatal. I can only hope on the attentive 
nursing, the wonderful spirits of the patient, and his 
burning desire to recover." 

" Every sick person longs to recover, doctor." 

" Of course, but your friend has certain vivifying 
circumstances," said the doctor, with a smile. " And so 
this evening we shall operate again, and hope for the 
best." 

He shook my hand, and went off on his rounds, leaving 
behind him the smell of his bearskin shuba. In the 
evening he came with his instruments. 

" Perhaps you would like, my embryo colleague, to 
operate for practice," said he, turning to Lvoff. Lvoff 
nodded his head in assent, turned up his sleeves, and with 
a serious, gloomy expression on his face, began. I saw 



6o COWARD 

how he inserted some wonderful-looking, three-edged 
instrument into the wound, and saw how Kuzma, as the 
keen edge pierced his body, clutched the bedstead with 
his hands and clenched his teeth with the pain. 

" Don't be an old woman," said Lvoff to him gruffly, 
placing a tampon into the new wound. 

" Does it hurt very much ?" asked Mary Petrovna 
tenderly. 

" Not so very much, dearie, but I have grown weak, and 
am worn out." 

They bandaged him, gave him some wine, and he 
calmed down. The doctor left, and I, with Mary 
Petrovna, began to put the room in order. 

" Put the clothes right," murmured Kuzma in an even, 
dull voice. '' There is a draught." 

I commenced to readjust his pillows and bedclothes 
according to his directions, which he gave very irritably, 
declaring that somewhere about his left elbow there was 
a small opening through which the cold was coming, and 
begging me to tuck the clothes in better. I tried to do 
my best, but notwithstanding all my efforts Kuzma still 
felt a draught, now at his side, then by his feet. 

** You are very awkward," he grumbled. " There is a 
draught again at my back. Let her." He glanced at 
Mary Petrovna, and then it became quite clear to me 
why I was unable to please him. 

Mary Petrovna put down the medicine-glass which was 
in her hand and went to the bed. *' Make you com- 
fortable ?" she said. 

" Put the things right. That's right — and warm now." 

He watched her whilst she settled the bedclothes, then 
closed his eyes, and, with a childishly happy expression 
on his worn face, dropped asleep. 

" Are you going home ?" asked Mary Petrovna. 

" No, I have had a good sleep and can v/atch now, but 
if I am not wanted I will go." 

" No, don't go, please. Let us have a little talk. My 



COWARD 6i 

brother is in his room all the time with his books, and it 
is so bitter, so depressing, to sit alone with the patient 
whilst he is sleeping and think of nothing but his death." 

"You must be strong, Mary Petrovna; depressing 
thoughts and tears are strictly forbidden to hospital 
nurses." 

" And I, too, will not cry when I am a nurse. Anyhow, 
it will not be so hard to nurse the wounded as one so 
near." 

" Then in any case you are going ?" 

" Of course I am going. Whether he recovers or dies 
I am going. I have become so accustomed to the idea 
now that I cannot give it up. I want to do something 
good, something useful ; I want to be able to remember 
good, bright days." 

" Ah, Mary Petrovna, I am afraid you will not see much 
light at the war." 

" Why ? I shall work. But there is light for you. I 
should like even to take some part in the war." 

" To take part in it ! But surely, does it not inspire 
you with horror ? What are you telling me ?" 

" I am telling — who told you that I love war ? Only 
—how shall I tell you ? — war — is an evil. Both you 
and I and very many others have this opinion. But it is 
inevitable. Whether you like it or do not like it makes 
no difference. There will be war, and if you do not go 
to fight they will take someone else, and, anyhow — 
mankind will be mutilated or tortured by its course. I 
am afraid you do not understand me, as I express myself 
badly. Listen ! In my idea war is a common sorrow, a 
common suffering, and to avoid it is perhaps permissible, 
only such a course is not pleasing to me." 

I kept silence. Mary Petrovna's words very clearly 
expressed my confused aversion to avoid the war. I 
myself have felt what she feels and thinks, only I have 
thought differently. 

*' You," she continued, ** it seems, are all the time 



62 COWARD 

thinking how you can remain here if they call you up for 
a soldier. My brother has spoken to me about it. You 
know I like you very much, and think you a nice man, 
but this trait in your character distresses me." 

" What is to be done, Mary Petrovna ? Different 
views. What shall I reply ? Was it I who started the 
war ?" 

*' Not you, or any of those who have died at it, or v/ill 
die. They also would not have gone if they could have 
avoided it, but they cannot, and you can. They go to 
fight and you stay in St. Petersburg, alive, sound, and 
lucky, only because you have friends who would be sorry 
to send someone they know personally to the war. I will 
not take upon myself to judge — perhaps it is excusable, 
but I repeat, it distresses me." 

She energetically shook her curly head and said no 
more. 

•!• *i* •!• I* *p 

At last it has come. To-day I put on a grey overcoat 
and have already tasted of the roots of military training — 
the manual. At the present moment there is ringing in 
my ears — " 'Tion ! Form fours ! Present arms !" 

And I stood to attention, formed fours, and flourished 
my rifle. And after a short time, when I have mastered 
the intricacies of forming fours, they will tell me off to a 
draft, place us in railway waggons, transport us, and dis- 
tribute us amongst the regiments to fill up the vacancies 
left by the killed 

Well, it is all the same. It is all over. Now I do not 
belong to myself. I shall go with the stream. Now it is 
best not to think and not to judge, but to accept without 
criticism all the chances of life, and only cry out when in 
pain. . . . 

They have quartered me in a wing of the barracks 
specially detailed for the *' privileged " class recruits. 
This wing is distinguished in having beds instead of 
bunks for sleeping accommodation, nevertheless it is 



COWARD 63 

quite sufficiently dirty. It is very bad amongst the 
non-privileged recruits. They live — until told off to 
regiments — in a huge shed which was formerly a riding- 
school. Two rows of tents have been fixed up in it. 
Straw has been carted as far as the door, and the rest is 
left to the temporary inhabitants to fix themselves up 
as best they may. Along the passage going down the 
middle of the riding-school, formed by the two rows of 
tents, the snow and filth brought in every minute from 
outside by persons entering has mingled with the straw, 
and has formed an indescribable slush. Even on either 
side of this passage the straw is not overclean. Some 
hundreds of men are standing, sitting, or lying on this 
straw in groups, each representing some village contin- 
gent, the whole forming a veritable ethnographical 
exhibition. I searched for representatives from my 
district. The tall, awkward " little Russians " in new 
overcoats and caps lay in a huddled group, not saying 
a word. There were ten of them. 

" Good-day, comrades." 

" Good-day." 

" Is it long since you left home ?" 

** Two weeks. And who are you ?" asked one of them 
of me. I gave him my name, which was known to all 
of them, and this meeting with someone from their part 
brightened them up a little, and they became more com- 
municative. 

" Lonely ?" I asked. 

" How not lonely ?" 

*' Where are you going ?" 

** Who knows ! I suppose to kill the Turk." 

" And do you want to go to the war ?" 

" What are we going to do there ?" 

I began to question them about our local town, and 
these recollections of home loosened their tongues. They 
commenced to tell me of a recent wedding for which a 
pair of bullocks had been sold, and how almost directly 



64 COWARD 

afterwards they had taken the young husband for a 
soldier. They told me about the pristaff — the devil 
stick in his throat ! — the lack of land, and how in con- 
sequence of this some hundreds had decided to leave the 
village and go to the Amur. . . . The conversation was 
only of the past, no one referred to the future, to those 
hard times, dangers, and sufferings which awaited us all. 
No one took any interest in the Turks or Bulgars, or 
troubled himself about the question for which he was 
perhaps going to die. 

A drunken young recruit of a local contingent, passing 
us, stopped at our group, and when I again began to talk 
of the war authoritatively said : 

*' This Turk must be wiped out." 

" Must be ?" I inquired, smiling involuntarily at the 
assurance of the decision. 

" Of course, Barin, so that nothing shall remain of 
the unclean brute. Because through his mutinying how 
much suffering are we to undergo ? Had he, for instance, 
kept quiet and behaved — I should be at home now with 
my parents and in a better state. But he is fractious, and 
there is grief for us. Be assured I am speaking the truth. 
Give me a cigarette, barin, please." And he suddenly 
stopped short, straightened himself in front of me, and 
put his hand to his cap. 

I gave him a cigarette, said good-bye to my 
countrymen, and went back to barracks, as my leave 
was up. 

"He is fractious, and there is grief for us," and his 
drunken voice rang in my ears. Short and vague, but at 
the same time it covers all there is to be said. 

***** 

Heartsickness and depression reign at the Lvoffs. 
Kuzma is very bad, and although the wound is clean, has 
very high fever, deUrium, and great pain. Both brother 
and sister remain with him all the time I am engaged in 
learning my work. Now, when they knov/ I am going 



COWARD 65 

to the war, the sister has grown still more depressed, and 
her brother still more surly. 

** Already in uniform ?" he had muttered when I said 
" How do you do ?" to him in his room, littered with 
books and reeking of smoke. '' Oh, you people !" 
'' Why, Vassili Petrovich ?" 

*' Because you will not let me study — that's why. 
And as there is no time, they will not let me finish my 
course, but will send me to the war, and there is so 
much I cannot learn, and then there are you and Kuzma." 
'* Well, Kuzma is dying, but what about me ?" 
" And are you not going to die ? If they do not kill 
you, you will go out of your mind, or put a bullet through 
your head. I know you, and there are examples." 

** What examples ? Do you really know of any like 
that ? Tell me, Vassili Petrovich ?" 

" Stop talking. Is it so necessary further to dis- 
llusionize you ? It is bad for you. I know nothing. 
I was only talking." 

But I was persistent, and then he told me of the 
example as follows : 

" A wounded artillery officer told me," he commenced. 
" They had only just left Kishinieff, in April, directly 
after the declaration of war. The rain was unceasing, 
and the roads disappeared. Only a sea of mud remained 
into which the guns and baggage- train sank up to the 
axles. It became so bad that the horses could do nothing, 
so they hitched on drag-ropes with which the men pulled. 
The second half of the road was awful. We had twelve 
ridges to get over in seventeen versts, and the whole 
distance was a perfect quagmire. They got into it and 
stuck. The rain lashed them, and there was not a dry 
thread on any of them. They were half starving and 
completely worn out, but it was necessary to drag the 
guns along. Well, of course, the men pulled and pulled 
until they fell senseless, face downwards, into the mud. 
Finally it was impossible to move ahead, but all the same 

5 



66 COWARD 

they continued to toil. It was awful, said the officer ; 
it is dreadful to think of it. They had a young surgeon 
with them, a nervous fellow who wept, and exclaiming 
that he could not stand such a sight, said he would go on 
ahead, which he did. The soldiers cut down branches 
and made what was almost a raft, and finally succeeded 
in getting out of the bog. They dragged the battery 
on to the mountain, and there saw the surgeon hanging 
on a tree. There is the example. If the man could not 
stand even seeing such suffering, how will you be able 
to stand it ?" 

" Vassili Petrovich, is it not easier to bear torture than 
to hang oneself like the surgeon ?" 

" Well, I do not know. What is there good in the fact 
that they will harness you to a shaft ?" 

" Conscience will not prick me, Vassili Petrovich." 

" Well, that is hair-splitting. Talk with my sister 
on that point — she is well up in such fine distinctions." 
Saying which he held out his hand and smilingly bade 
me good-bye. 

" Where are you off to ?" 

'' To the hospital." 

I went into Kuzma's room. He was not asleep, and, 
as Mary Petrovna explained to me, felt better than usual. 
He had not yet seen me in uniform, and my appearance 
was an unpleasant surprise to him. 

" Will they leave you here or send you to the army ?" 
he asked. 

" They will send me ; surely you know ?" 

He was silent. 

" I knew," he said after a pause, *' but I had forgotten. 
I cannot remember or think of much these days. Well, 
go ! It is necessary." 

" And you, Kuzma Thomich, say this !" 

" Why ' and I '? Is it not true what I say ? What 
services have you rendered that you should be exempted ? 
Go and die ! There are people more necessary than you, 



COWARD 67 

more hard-working than you, and they are going. . . . 
Put my pillow right . . . that's better." 

He spoke quietly but irritably, as if blaming someone 
for his illness. 

" All this is true, Kuzma. But could I really not go ? 
Could I really protest personally on my own behalf ? 
If so, I should have stayed here without further talk ; 
it would not be difficult to arrange. I am not doing this — 
they want me, and I am going. But at least they cannot 
prevent me from having my own opinion on this point." 

Kuzma lay motionless with his eyes fixed on the ceiling, 
as if he had not heard me. Finally he slowly turned his 
head towards me. 

"Do not take any notice of my words. I " — he mur- 
mured — " I am w^orn out and irritable, and really do not 
know why I tease people. I have already grown quarrel- 
some, I shall soon die ; it is time." 

" Enough, Kuzma ; cheer up. The wound is clean and 
is healing, and everything is going on well. You must 
not talk of dying, but of living now." 

Mary Petrovna looked at me with her large, sorrowful 
eyes, and I suddenly remembered how she had said to 
me two weeks ago : " No, he will not recover ; he will die. 

" And if I really do recover, it will be good," said 
Kuzma, smiling weakly. " They will send you to fight, 
and I, with Mary Petrovna, will come — she as a hospital 
nurse, and I as a surgeon. And I will look after you 
when you are wounded, as you are looking after me now." 

** You will chatter, Kuzma," said Mary Petrovna. 
** It is bad for you to talk much, and it is time to begin 
tormenting you." 

He resigned himself to us. We undressed him, took 
off the bandages, and commenced work on his huge and 
lacerated chest. W^hen I directed the spray of water 
on the open places ; on the collar-bone, which glistened 
like mother-of-pearl ; on a vein which, clean and free, 
ran right throughout the wound, it was not like dressing 



68 COWARD 

a living person, but like working on some anatomical 
apparatus. I thought of other wounds, far more awful 
in nature, and overwhelmingly greater in numbers, in- 
flicted, moreover, not by blind, unreasoning chance, but 
by the conscious acts of human beings. 

* * * * * 

I am not wTiting a word in this diary of all that is 
happening at home, and what I am going through there. 
The tears with which my mother meets me, the depressing 
silence accompanying my presence at the common table, 
the kindness of my brothers and sisters — all this is hard to 
witness and feel, but to write of it is harder still. When 
I think that in a week's time I must say good-bye to all 
that is dearest in the world, the tears rise to my throat. 

* * * * -K- 

At last the farewells. To-morrow morning, as soon as 
it is light, we are off by railway. They have allowed 
me to spend the last night at home, and I am sitting in 
my room alone for the last time. The last time ! Does 
anyone know who has not experienced such a last time 
the whole misery of these two words ? For the last time 
the family have separated, for the last time I have come 
into this little room, and am sitting at the table lighted 
by the familiar little lamp and littered with books and 
papers. For a whole month I have not touched them. 
For the last time I take the half-finished work into my 
hands. It has stopped short and lies dead, incomplete, 
senseless. Instead of finishing it I am going with 
thousands of others to the brink of the world because 
history has need of my physical strength. As for 
intellectual forces — forget about them. No one wants 
them. Of what benefit have been the many years I 
have studied them and prepared myself to apply them ? 
That enormous organization of which I know nothing, 
but of which I form a part, has wished to cut me off 
and hurl me aside. And what can / do against such 
a desire ? 



COWARD 69 

However, enough. It is time to lie down and try to 
sleep. To-morrow I must get up very early. 

* -jf * ^ * 

I begged that no one should come to the station. But 
when I was already sitting in the waggon crammed full 
of men, I felt such a heart-pinching solitude and so home- 
sick, that I would have given all the world to pass, if 
only a few minutes, with any one of my near relatives. 
Eventually the appointed hour arrived, but the train did 
not start. Something was delaying it. Half an hour 
went past, an hour, an hour and a half, and still we did 
not move. In this one and a half hours I could have 
gone home. . . . Perhaps, after all, someone will not be 
able to resist coming down. . . . No, they all imagine 
that the train has already gone. No one will think of it 
being late in starting. But still, perhaps . . . and I gaze 
anxiously in the direction whence they might come. 
Never has time dragged so. 

The harsh notes of the bugle sounding the " assembly " 
made me shiver. Soldiers who had climbed out of the 
waggons and had crowded on to the platforms, hurriedly 
scrambled into their places. The train will be off in a 
minute, and I shall have seen no one. Then I catch 
sight of the Lvoffs. Brother and sister almost ran to the 
waggon, and I v/as madly glad to see them. I do not 
remember what I said to them, and do not remember 
what they said to me, except one sentence — " Kuzma 
is dead !" 

* * * * * 

This sentence ends the notes in my diary. 

Under a lowering sky lies a broad snow-covered field 
surrounded by white hills, on which are trees, also white 
with frost, although there is a touch of thaw in the air. 
Above the rattle of musketry comes the frequent boom 
of guns. One of the hills is almost enveloped in smoke, 
through which, as it slowly rolls down on to the field 
below, can be seen a dark, moving mass. Looking more 



70 COWARD 

attentively, it is seen that this mass is composed of little 
black spots. Many of these spots are already motionless, 
but others are ever moving forward, although their goal, 
indicated only by the extra density of the smoke, is still 
far away, and although their numbers become less every 
second. 

A battalion in reserve, lying in the snow with rifles in 
hand, is following the progress of this dark mass with its 
thousand eyes. 

" They have started ! — ours have started up !" 

" But will they get there ? Why do they keep us here ? 
With our help they would quickly settle matters." 

" Tired of life, are you ?" said an elderly soldier surlily. 
" Lie still and thank God you are whole." 

" Yes, old man, and I shall stay whole, don't make any 
mistake about that," replied a young soldier with a cheery 
face. " I have already been in four fights, and nothing 

happened. Only at first it is frightening, but then 

But the Barin — it is his first time ; he will be probably 
asking God's pardon. Barin ! Barin !" 

" What is it ?" replied a lanky, black-bearded man 
lying close by. 

" You, Barin, cheer up !" 

" I, my friend, am all right." 

" You, Barin, will be near me in case ... I know, 
I have already been in it. Yes, our Barin is brave ; 
he will not run away. But there was a volunteer before 
you who, as soon as we started, and directly the bullets 
began to fly, chucked away his knapsack and rifle, and 
bolted ; but a bullet caught him up — hit him in the back. 
That sort of thing is forbidden because of the oath." 

" Don't you be alarmed. I shall not run away," 
quietly replied the Barin. " You cannot g^t away 
from a bullet." 

"No, the rascal," answered the young soldier. " Is 
it known where to get away from it ? . . . Holy ! . . . 
Surely ours have not stopped !" 



COWARD 71 

The black mass had stopped, and were being enveloped 
in the smoke from their rifles. 

" Well, they have begun to fire. That means in a 
minute or two they will commence retiring. . . . No! 
they have gone ahead again. Save ! . . . Blessed Mother, 
again . . . and again. ... How they are falling, and no 
one to pick them up !" 

*' A bullet ! a bullet !" exclaimed several around, as 
something whistled through the air. It was a chance 
bullet v/hich had passed over the reserves. It was followed 
by another, then a third. The battalion began to stir. 

" Stretcher-bearers !" someone cried. 

The stray bullet had done its work. Four soldiers with 
a stretcher ran forward towards the wounded man. 
Suddenly little figures of men and horses appeared on 
one of the hills on the flank of the attack, and at the same 
moment a puff of smoke, white as snow, showed up. 

" They are firing at us, the blackguards !" cried the 
cheery young soldier. There was the scream of a shell 
followed by a report. The youngster threw himself face 
down into the snow. When he raised his head he saw 
that the Barin was lying stretched out alongside him, 
his arms thrown out, with his head doubled unnaturally 
under his chest. Another stray bullet had struck him 
under the right eye, making a large black hole. 



THE MEETING 

A BROAD, trembling silvery band of moonlight stretched 
away for tens of versts. The remaining expanse of 
the sea was black, and the regular dull noise of the waves 
as they broke and rolled along the sandy shore reached 
the person standing on the cliff high above. Even more 
black than the sea itself were the gently rocking silhouettes 
of the vessels in the roadstead. One huge steamer 
(" Probably English," reflected Vassili Petrovich), within 
this bright strip of moonlight, was noisily blowing off 
steam in a series of small clouds, which dissolved as they 
lightly rose into the air. A moist, brine-laden breeze 
was coming from the sea. Vassili Petrovich, who had 
seen nothing of this kind previously, gazed rapturously 
at the sea, the moonlit strip, the steamers and sailing 
vessels, and, for the first time in his life, with a feeling of 
pleasure inhaled the sea air. He long gave himself up 
to the delights of this new sensation, turning his back 
on the town to which he had only this day come, and in 
which he was to spend many, many years. Behind him 
a heterogeneous crowd were promenading along the boule- 
vard, whence could be heard scraps of Russian and other 
languages, the decorous, subdued conversation of local 
dignitaries mingling with the chatter of young girls, 
and the loud, merry voices of grown-up schoolboys, as 
they strolled past together in knots of twos and threes. 
A burst of laughter from one of these groups made Vassili 

72 



THE MEETING 73 

Petrovich turn round. As it passed him, one of the youths 
was saying something to a young girl, whilst his comrades 
noisily interrupted his passionate and apparently apolo- 
getic speech. 

" Don't believe him, Nina Petrovna ! It is all lies ! 
He is making it up !" 

" But truly, Nina Petrovna, I am not in the least to 
blame." 

'* If you, Shevyreft, ever again dream of deceiving 
me . . ." said the girl stiffly, in a quiet young voice. 

Vassili Petrovich lost the rest of the sentence as the 
speakers passed out of hearing. But a second later a 
further burst of laughter resounded in the darkness. 

** This is the field of my future labours, in which, as 
the ' modest ploughman, I shall work,' " mused Vassiii 
Petrovich, first because he had been appointed teacher 
in the local gymnasium, and secondly, because he was 
fond of figurative forms of thought, even when not 
expressed aloud. 

" Yes, I must perforce toil in this modest field,'* he 
reflected, sitting down on a bench with his face to the 
sea. " Where are the dreams of a professorship, of being 
a publicist, of a great name ? You haven't it in you, 
friend Vassili Petrovich, to carry out all these fine plans. 
We'll try w^ork here." 

And beautiful and pleasant thoughts passed through 
the brain of the new school-teacher. He thought of how 
he w^ould discover the " spark divine " in the boys. 
How he would help those natures ** striving to divest 
themselves of the chains of darkness." How, finally, 
his pupils in due course would become men of note. . . . 
In his imagination he even pictured himself, Vassili 
Petrovich, sitting, an old, grey-haired teacher, in his 
modest lodging, and being visited by his former scholars — 
one a professor of such and such a University, a man of 
renown in Russia and in Europe ; another, an author, 
a well-known novelist ; a third, a statesman also famous — 



74 THE MEETING 

all of them treating him with respect. "It is the good 
seed sown by you, dear sir, when I was a boy, that has 
made me the man I am," the statesman would say to 
Vassili Petrovich, warmly pressing the hand of his old 
tutor. 

However, Vassili Petrovich did not long occupy himself 
with such exalted reflections. His thoughts soon turned 
to matters directly concerning his present situation. 
He drew a new pocket-book from his pocket, and counting 
over his money, commenced to calculate as to how much 
would remain after pa5mient of all necessary expenses. 
*' What a pity I was so extravagant en route !" thought, he. 
" Lodgings . . . we'll say tv/enty roubles a month, board, 
washing, tea, tobacco. ... I shall save a thousand roubles 
in six months, anyhow. I am sure to be able to get lessons 
here at four, or even five, roubles each. ..." A feeling 
of satisfaction took him, and he became possessed of a 
desire to feel in his pocket where two letters of recom- 
mendation to local ** big-wigs " lay, and for the twentieth 
time to read their addresses. He pulled out the letters, 
carefully unfolded the paper in which they were wrapped, 
but was unable to read the addresses as the moonlight 
was not bright enough to admit of such satisfaction. 
A photograph v/as wrapped up v/ith the letters. Vassili 
Petrovich turned it straight to the light of the moon, 
and endeavoured to look at the well-known features. 
" Oh, my darling Lise !" he murmured almost out loud, 
and sighed, not without a feeling of pleasure. Lisa was 
his fiancee, whom he had left behind in Petersburg, 
waiting until Vassili Petrovich should accumulate the 
thousand roubles which the young couple deemed neces- 
sary before setting up house. 

Heaving a sigh, he hid the photograph and letters in the 
left side-pocket of his coat, and commenced to dream of 
his future married life. And these dreams were even more 
pleasurable than those about the statesman who was to 
come and thank him for the good seed sown in his heart. 



THE MEETING 75 

The sea fumed far away below him and the wind became 
fresher. The English steamer had disappeared from the 
strip of moonlight which was shining with a brilliancy 
melting into a thousand shimmering soft lights, and 
stretching far away over a seemingly endless expanse of 
water. Vassili Petrovich was loath to rise from his seat, 
to tear himself away from this picture and to return 
to the stifling atmosphere of the little room in the hotel 
at which he was stopping. However, it was now late, so 
he got up and went along the boulevard. 

A gentleman in a light suit of greyish alpaca and a 
straw hat v/ith a muslin pugaree (the summer costume 
of the local beaux), rose from a bench as Vassili Petrovich 
passed, and said : 

" Can you give me a light 7" 

" With pleasure," replied Vassili Petrovich. 

The red glow of the flame lit up a familiar face. 

** Nicolai, my good chap. Is it you ?" 

" Vassili Petrovich ?" 

" The same. . . . Ah, how glad I am ! I never thought 
of this, never dreamt of it !" said Vassili Petrovich, 
embracing his friend heartily. '* What fate has brought 
you here V 

" That's simply explained — my work. And you ?" 

" I have been sent here as teacher in the gymnasium. 
I have only just arrived." 

** Where are you staying ? If at an hotel, come along 
with me. I am glad to see you. You can scarcely have 
any acquaintances here ? Come with me, we will have 
some supper and talk over old times." 

" Yes, let us," assented Vassili Petrovich. ** I shall 
be delighted. I came here as if into a wilderness — and 
suddenly this happy meeting. * Izvoschik !' " he called. 

" Don't ; there is no need to call an izvoschik," said 
Vassili's friend, as he in turn called out " Sergei," and 
a smartly turned out koliaska drove up to the kerb. 
The friend jumped in, but Vassili Petrovich remained 



76 THE MEETING 

standing on the pavement, and looked with bewilderment 
at the carriage, the black horses, and the portly coach- 
man. 

" Kudriasheff, are the horses yours ?" 

" Mine, mine. What ? You didn't expect it ?" 

" Wonderful. . . . Can it be you ?" 

" Well, who else if not me ? But get in, and we will 
talk afterwards." 

Vassili Petrovich got in, sat himself by the side of 
Kudriasheff, and the koliaska rolled over the cobbles. 
Vassili Petrovich, as he sat comfortably on the soft 
cushions, smiled. "What does it mean?" he thought. 
" Not long ago Kudriasheff was the poorest of students, 
and now — a koliaska !" Kudriasheff, stretching out 
his legs, placed them on the seat opposite, said nothing, 
but smoked his cigar. In five minutes* time the carriage 
stopped. 

" Well, friend, we have arrived. I will show you my 
humble abode," said Kudriasheff, stepping down and 
helping Vassili Petrovich to get out of the carriage. 

Before entering his " humble abode," the guest cast a 
glance at it. The moon was behind it, and did not light 
it up, so that he was only able to note that the " abode " 
was a one-storied building with some ten or twelve large 
windows. A portico with spiral columns picked out 
with gold hung over a heavy wooden door, in which was 
inserted a looking-glass. The handle was of bronze in 
the form of a bird's claw, which held an irregularly shaped 
piece of crystal. And a shining brass plate, bearing the 
o\\ner's name, was affixed to the door. 

" Your * humble abode,' Kudriasheff ! It is a palace," 
said Vassili Petrovich, as they entered the hall with its 
oak furniture and polished black fireplace. '* Is it really 
your own ?" 

" No, my dear chap, I haven't got to that yet. I 
rent it. It is not expensive — one thousand five hundred 
roubles." 



THE MEETING 'j^ 

'' One thousand five hundred roubles !" gasped Vassili 
Petrovich. 

" It is better to pay one thousand five hundred roubles 
than to spend capital which will give far higher interest 
if not converted into real estate. Yes, and it means a 
lot of money if you really build, not like this trash." 

" Trash !" exclaimed Vassili Petrovich perplexedly. 

" Yes, the house is nothing grand. But come 
along. ..." 

Vassili Petrovich hurriedly took off his overcoat and 
followed his host. The general style in which the house 
was furnished gave him fresh food for amazement. A 
whole series of lofty rooms with parquet floors and ex- 
pensive wall-papers with patterns of gold. The dining- 
room was furnished in oak with crude models of birds 
hanging on the wall, an enormous carved sideboard, 
and a large round dining-table, which was flooded with 
light thrown from a hanging bronze lamp ornamented 
with a dead white shade. In the lounge there was a 
grand piano, a quantity of furniture of all kinds — sofas, 
stools, chairs, etc. Expensive prints and villainous 
oleographs hung on the walls in gilded frames. The 
drawing-room had the customary silk upholstered furni- 
ture, and was crowded with numberless unnecessary 
things. It gave the impression that the owner had 
suddenly become wealthy — had won two hundred or 
three hundred thousand roubles, — and had hurriedly 
furnished his house on a lavish scale. All had been 
purchased at one time, and purchased not because it was 
wanted, but because the money was burning his pocket, 
and found an outlet in the purchase of a grand piano, 
on which, so far as Vassili Petrovich knew, Kudriasheff 
could only play with one finger; of the horrible old painting 
to which probably none paid the slightest attention — ■ 
one of the tens of thousands which are attributed to some 
second-class Flemish master ; of chessmen of Chinese 
work, so fine and ethereal that it was impossible to play 



78 THE MEETING 

with them, and on the heads of each of which were 
carved three balls, and of scores of other unnecessary 
articles. 

The friends went into the study. Here it was more 
comfortable. A large writing-table, equipped with various 
bronze and china knick-knacks, and littered with papers, 
plans, and drawing implements, occupied the middle of 
the room. Huge coloured plans and geographical charts 
hung on the walls, and below them stood two low Turkish 
divans with silk cushions. Kudriasheff, taking Vassili 
Petrovich by the waist, led him straight to a divan, and 
sat him on the soft pillows. 

" Well, I am very glad to meet an old comrade," 
said he. 

** And I also. . . . Do you know what — to arrive here 
as if in a wilderness, and suddenly to meet ... Do you 
know, Nicolai Constantinovich, meeting you has so stirred 
my mind, has raised so many recollections ..." 

" Of what ?" 

'* How of what ? Of our student days, of the time 
when we lived so well, if not in a material sense, at least 
morally speaking. . . . Do you remember ..." 

" Remember what ? How you and I used to devour 
sausages made of dog ? Enough, my friend ; it bores me. 
Will you have a cigar ? * Regalia Imperiala,' or some 
such name — I forget what. I only know that they cost 
a poltinik each." 

Vassili Petrovich took one of the proffered treasures, 
took a penknife out of his pocket, cut the end off, lit the 
cigar, and said : 

*' Nicolai Constantinovich, I feel absolutely in a dream. 
A few years — and you have got to such a position !" 

" What position ? It's worth nothing." 

" But why ? How much do you get ?" 

" What ? Salary ?" 

" Yes, pay." 

" As engineer and Provincial Secretary Kudriasheff {2nd) 



THE MEETING 79^ 

I receive a salary of one thousand six hundred roubles a 
year." 

Vassili Petrovich's eyes dilated. 

" But how ... Where does all this come from ?" 

" Oh, my friend, what simplicity ! Where ? Out of 
water and earth, sea and dry land. But chiefly from 
here." 

And he tapped his forehead with his finger. 

'* Do you see those drawings hanging on the walls ?" 

*' I see them," replied Vassili Petrovich, " and " 

*' Do you know what they are ?" 

" No, I don't," and Vassili Petrovich got up from the 
divan and went up to the wall. The blue, red, brown 
and black shades conveyed nothing to him, any more 
than the mysterious figures above the fine lines, drawn 
in red ink. 

" Plans, of course they are plans ; but of what ?" 

" Really, I don't know." 

" These plans represent, my very dear Vassili Petro- 
vich, a future mole. Do you know what a mole is ?" 

" Well, of course. You must remember I am a teacher 
of the Russian language. A mole is — well, a dam. What ?" 

** Precisely, a dam. A dam for the formation of an 
artificial harbour. On these drawings is the plan of the 
mole which we are now constructing. You saw the sea 
from above where you were standing ?" 

*' Certainly. A wonderful picture ! But I did not 
notice any kind of construction." 

" It is difficult to notice it," said Kudriasheff, laughing. 
*' Scarcely any of this mole, Vassili Petrovich, is in the 
sea. It is almost all here on dry land." 

" Where ?" 

" Where, here in this house, and at the houses of the 
other engineers — Knobloch, Puitsikovsky, etc. This is, 
of course, between ourselves. I am talking to you as an 
old friend. Why are you staring at me in that way ? 
It is a common occurrence." 



8o THE MEETING 

*' But really, this is awful ! Surely you are not telling 
the truth ? Are you really not above such unclean 
methods for obtaining this comfort ? Has the past only 
resulted in bringing you to this . . . this ? And you talk 
quite calmly of this ..." 

" Stop, stop, Vassili Petrovich ! No strong words, if 
you please. You talk of * dishonourable methods '? 
Tell me first what is meant by honourable and dis- 
honourable. I myself do not know. Perhaps I have 
forgotten, but I didn't try to remember, and it seems 
to me you yourself do not remember, only pretend you 
do. But let us drop the subject. First of all, it is not 
polite. Respect freedom of judgment. You talk of — 
dishonour. Talk if you like, but don't swear at me. 
I do not swear at you because your opinions differ from 
mine. The whole matter, my dear friend, lies in the view, 
the point of view, and as there are many points of view, 
let us drop this matter and go to the dining-room, where 
we will have some ' vodka,* and talk on pleasanter sub- 
jects." 

** But, Nicolai, Nicolai, it hurts me to look at you." 

*' Well, let it hurt as much as you like. Let it hurt. 
It will pass away. You will grow accustomed to it. You 
will look at it and will say, * What a simpleton I am !' 
Yes, you will say it, remember my words ! Come along, 
let us go and have a drink and forget about erring engineers. 
That's why a man has brains, in order to go astray. . . . 
Well, my dear tutor, how much are you going to 
get ?" 

'' It is all the same to you." 

" Well, for instance ?" 

" Well, I earn three thousand roubles with private 
lessons." 

" There you are ! For a paltry three thousand to drag 
out your whole life in giving lessons ! And I sit here and 
look around. If I wish — I drink. If I don't wish, I 
don't. If the fancy came into my head to spit at the 



THE MEETING 8i 

ceiling all day long, I could afford to do it. And money — 
so much money that it — * is dross for us.' " 

When they went into the dining-room, they found 
everything ready for supper. The cold roast beef looked 
like a rosy mountain. There were pots of jam displaying 
a variety of English names and labels. A whole row of 
bottles raised their heads from the table. The friends 
drank a wineglass or so of vodka each, and consumed 
their supper. Kudriasheff ate slowly and with relish. 
He was absolutely absorbed in his occupation. 

Vassili Petrovich ate and thought, thought and ate. 
He v/as greatly perplexed, and could not make up his 
mind what to do. Acting on his principles, he ought 
at once to leave his old friend's house and never look 
at it again. " All this is really stolen," he reflected, 
as he placed a piece of meat in his mouth, and sipped the 
wine poured out by his host ; " and is it not disgraceful 
of me to be here eating and drinking it ?" Many such 
thoughts passed through the brain of the poor teacher, 
but they remained thoughts, and behind them hid a 
certain secret voice which annexed each thought by 
" Well, and what then ?" and Vassili Petrovich felt that 
he was not able to decide this question, and remained 
seated. " Well, I will watch," flashed through his brain 
in self-justification, followed by a sense of confusion 
mingled with shame. ** Why should I observe ? Am 
I a writer or what ?" 

" Ah, what meat !" commenced Kudriasheff. '* Take 
note of it ; you will not get anything like it throughout 
the town." And he related to Vassili Petrovich a long 
story of how he had dined at Knoblochs', and had been 
astonished by the beef there, and how he had found out 
where it could be got, and had eventually succeeded in 
getting it. '' You have come just in the nick of time," 
he said, by way of conclusion of his story about the 
meat. " Have you ever eaten anything approach- 
ing it ?" 

6 



82 THE MEETING 

" It is certainly excellent beef," replied Vassili Petro- 
vich. 

" Magnificent, my dear chap ! I like everything to 
be as it ought to be. But why aren't you drinking ? 
Wait a moment, I will pour you out some wine." 

An equally long story of the wine followed, in which 
there figured an English ship's captain, a commercial 
house in London, and the same Knobloch and the Customs. 
As he talked about his wine, Kudriasheff drank it, and 
as he drank he became more excited. Bright spots 
appeared on his pallid cheeks, and his speech became 
more rapid and vehement. 

*' But why are you so silent ?" asked he of Vassili 
Petrovich, who, as a matter of fact, had preserved a 
stubborn silence whilst listening to the panegyrics on 
meat, wine, cheese, and the other delicacies adorning the 
engineer's table. 

" My dear fellow, I don't want to talk." 

''Not want to ? Bosh ! I see you are still thinking 
about my confession. I am sorry, very sorry, I told you 
anything about it. We should have supped together 
with the greatest satisfaction but for this infernal dam. . . . 
Better not to think about it, Vassili Petrovich — put it 
aside ... eh ? Vassenka, have done with it ! What is 
to be done, old chap ? I have not realized your hopes. 
Life is not a school. Yes, and I don't know whether you 
will stick to your path long." 

" I beg you not to make conjectures about me," said 
Vassili Petrovich. 

" Offended ? . . . Of course, you won't stick to it. 
What has your disinterestedness given you ? Are you 
really contented now ? Do you really never think every 
day as to whether your acts are in keeping with your 
ideals, and are you not convinced every day that they 
are not ? Am I not right, eh ? But drink, it is good wine." 

He poured himself out a glassful, held it up to the light, 
sipped it, smacked his lips, and drank it. 



THE MEETING 83 

" Look here, my dear friend, do you think that I do 
not know what you are thinking of at the present moment ? 
I know exactly. ' Why/ you are thinking, ' am I sitting 
here with this man ? Is he necessary to me ? Can I 
really not get on without his wine and cigars ?' Listen — 
listen, let me finish. I do not for one moment imagine 
that you are sitting here only for my wine and cigars. 
Not at all. Even if you were in great need of them, you 
would not sponge on me. Sponging is a very burdensome 
thing. You are sitting here and talking with me simply 
because you cannot make up your mind as to whether 
or not I am really a criminal. Do I not disturb you, 
and that's all ? Of course, it is very offensive to you, 
because you have certain convictions divided up under 
various headings in your head, and under them, I, your 
former comrade and friend, appear a scoundrel. At the 
same time you. cannot feel any hostility towards me. 
Convictions are convictions, but I by myself am your 
comrade, and I may even say a good chap. You know 
yourself that I am incapable of offending anyone. ..." 

" Wait a moment, Kudriasheff. Where have you got 
all this from ? You yourself say it is not yours." Vassili 
Petrovich waved his hand. " The person from whom 
you have stolen is the offended party." 

"It is easy to talk about the person from whom I 
have stolen. I think, and think, as to whom I have 
offended, but I cannot understand whom. You do not 
understand how this business is arranged. I will tell 
you, and then perhaps you will agree with me, that it is 
not so easy to find the offended party." 

Kudriasheff rang, and the stolid figure of a man-servant 
appeared. 

*' Ivan Pavlich, bring me the drawing out of the 
study. It is hanging between the windows. You will 
see, Vassili Petrovich, what a gigantic business it is. I 
really have even begun to find poetry in it." 

Ivan Pavlich carefully brought an enormous sheet 



84 THE MEETING 

gummed on calico. Kudriasheff took it, pushed away 
the plates, bottles, and glasses near him, and spread out 
his drawing on the tablecloth, stained in places with red 
wine. 

** Look here," he said. ** This is a sectional draw- 
ing of our mole, and this is a longitudinal section. Do 
you see the part painted blue ? That is the sea. The 
depth here is so great that it is impossible to build up from 
the bottom, so we are first of all preparing a bed for the 
mole." 

" A bed ?" asked Vassili Petrovich. " What a strange 
name !" 

'* A stone bed of enormous blocks of stone, each of which 
is not less than one cubic foot in size." Kudriasheff 
detached from his watch-chain a pair of miniature silver 
compasses, and took a little line by them on the drawing. 
'* See, Vassili Petrovich, this is a sajene. If we measure 
the bed transversely, it will show a width of not less than 
fifty sajenes. Not what you would call a narrow bed, 
eh ? A mass of stone of this width is being raised from 
the bottom of the sea to within sixteen feet of the surface. 
If you picture to yourself the width of this bed and its 
enormous length, you will get some idea of the size of 
this mass of stone. Sometimes, do you know, for a whole 
day barge after barge will come to the mole and throw 
out its load, but when you measure, the increase is 
infinitesimal. The stones just seem to fall into a bottom- 
less pit. . . . The bed is painted here on the plan a dirty 
grey colour. They are making progress with it, but from 
the shore other work is already commencing on it. Steam 
cranes are lowering on to this bed huge artificial stones, 
cubic-shaped blocks made of cobbles and cement, each 
of which is a cubic sajene in size, and weighs many 
hundreds of poods. The crane raises them, turns, and 
places them in rows. It is a strange sensation when you 
realize that with a slight pressure of the hand you can 
make this mass rise and lower at will. When such a mass 



THE MEETING 85 

obeys you, you are conscious of the might of man. . . . 
Do you see — here they are, these cubes." He pointed 
them out with the compasses. *' They will be laid almost 
up to the surface of the water, and then the upper stone 
layer of hewn stone will be placed on them. So you see 
what sort of work it is. Second to no Egyptian Pyramid. 
These are the general features of the work, which has 
already lasted some years. How much longer, goodness 
only knows. The longer the better ... at the same 
time, if it proceeds at its present rate it will last out our 
century.'* 

*' Well, and Vv'hat else ?" asked Vassili Petrovich 
after a long silence. 

" What else ? Well, we sit in our places and get as 
much as is necessary." 

** But I still do not see from your story how you get 
what money you want." 

" You innocent ! Listen ! By the way, we are, I 
think, of the same age. Only the experience which you 
lack has made me wiser — has made me older. This is 
how it is : You know that on every sea there are storms ? 
They do their work. Every year they wash away the 
beds, and we lay down a new^ one." 

*' But, still, I don't understand how ..." 

" We lay it down," calmly continued Kudriasheff, 
*' on paper, here on the drawing, because it is only on the 
drawing that the storms wash it away." 

Vassili Petrovich was completely bewildered. 

" Because, waves cannot, in fact, wash away a bed only 
eight feet high. Our sea is not an ocean, and even in an 
ocean such moles as ours would stand. But with us in 
the two thousand sajenes depth, where the bed ends, 
it is almost a dead calm. Listen, Vassili Petrovich, how 
the thing is managed. In the spring, after the bad weather 
of the autumn and winter, we meet, and put the question, 
How much of the bed has been washed away this year ? 
We take the drawings and note. Well, then, we wTite, 



86 THE MEETING 

'Washed away — let us say, by storms — so many cubic 

sajenes of work.' And they reply, * Build and d n 

you !' Well, we ' repair.' " 

'* But what do you repair ?" 

" Our pockets, of course," said Kudriasheff, laughing 
at his joke. 

" No, no, this cannot be ; it is impossible !" cried 
Vassili Petrovich, jumping up from his chair and running 
up and down the room. " Listen, Kudriasheff, you are 
ruining yourself . . . not to mention the immorality of 
it. . . . I simply want to say that they will catch you all 
in this, and you will be done for — will go to Siberia. 
Alas ! what hopes ! expectations ! A capable, honourable 
young man — and suddenly ..." 

Vassili Petrovich launched out into heroics, and spoke 
long and fervently. But Kudriasheff quite calmly 
smoked a cigar and watched his excited friend. 

" Yes, you are sure to go to Siberia," said Vassili 
Petrovich, as he concluded his harangue. 

*' It is a long way to Siberia, my friend. You are an 
extraordinary man ; you don't understand in the least. 
Am I really the only one who ... to put it more politely 
... * acquires ' ? All around, even the air seems to pilfer. 
Not long ago a fresh hand appeared and began to write 
about honesty. What happened ? We protected our- 
selves. . . . And always will protect ourselves. All for 
one, one for all. Do you imagine that man is his own 
enemy ? Who will take upon himself to touch me when 
through me he himself may come to grief ?" 

" It means that everyone is guilty, as Kryloff said." 

" Guilty, guilty ! All take what they can from life 
and do not regard it platonically. . . . But about what 
did we begin to talk ? Ah yes, of about whom I am 
insulting ? Tell me whom ? The lower class ? Well, 
how ? I don't take straight from the source, but I take 
what is ready and what has already been taken, and if 
I don't take it somebody worse than I will take it. At 



THE MEETING Sy 

any rate, I don't live like a brute beast. I take some 
interest in intellectual matters. I subscribe to a whole 
bundle of papers and magazines. They cry out about 
science and civilization, but to what could it be applied 
if it were not for persons like us, people with means ? 
And who would furnish science with the power to advance 
if not people with means ? And means must be found 
somewhere, even in a so-called honest ..." 

" Oh, don't finish, don't say that last word, Nicolai 
Const an tinovich . ' ' 

" Word ? What ? Would it be better for your warped 
mind if I commenced to lie to justify myself ? We rob, 
do you hear ? Yes, if the truth were spoken, you are now 
robbing." 

" Listen, Kudriasheff ..." 

"It is no use my listening," replied Kudriasheff with 
a laugh. " You, too, my friend are a robber, under a 
mask of virtue. What is your occupation — teaching ? 
Will you really repay with your labour even the pittance 
which will be paid you ? Will you turn out even one 
respectable man ? Three-fourths of your pupils will 
become such as I am, and one-fourth like yourself — that 
is, a well-intentioned * faineant.* Are you not taking 
money for nothing ? Answer me frankly. And are you 
so far apart from me ? Yet you put on airs and preach 
honour !" 

" Kudriasheff, believe me, that this conversation is 
extremely painful to me." 

*' And to me — not in the least." 

" I did not expect to find v/hat I have found in you." 

" That's stupid. People change, and I have changed, 
but in what direction — you could not guess. You are 
not a prophet." 

" It is not necessary to be a prophet to hope that an 
honourable youth will become an honourable citizen of 
the State." 

" Bah ! drop it ! Don't use such words with me. 



88 THE MEETING 

' An honourable citizen !' Out of what school-books 
have you dug up this archaism ? It is time to finish 
with sentimentalism ; you are not a boy. ... Do you 

know what Vasia " And here Kudriasheff took Vassili 

Petrovich by the arm. " Let us be friends and drop this 
infernal subject. Better to drink to our comradeship. 
Ivan Pavlich, bring another bottle of this." 

Ivan Pavlich slovv^ly appeared with a fresh bottle. 
Kudriasheff filled the glasses. 

" Well, we will drink to prosperity ... of what ? 
Well, it's all the same for your and my prosperity." 

" I drink," said Vassili Petrovich with feeling, " that 
you may come to your senses. That is my strongest 
wish." 

" Be a good chap and don't talk about that. ... If I 
come to my senses, it will be impossible to drink ; then 
things will be in a bad way. Do you see what your logic 
amounts to ? Let us drink just simply without any 
toasts. Let us drop this boring argument. It is all the 
same, we shall not come to any agreement. You will not 
put me on the true path, and I shall not convince you. 
It is not worth it. You will come round to my views." 

" Never !" exclaimed Vassili Petrovich with warmth, 
banging his glass on the table. 

" Well, we'll see. But why have I told you all about 
myself, and you have said nothing about yourself ? 
What have you been doing, and what are your plans ?" 

" I have already told you I have been appointed 
teacher." 

" Is this your first place ?" 

" Yes, before this I used to give private lessons." 
" And do you intend to give them here ?" 
" If I can find any. Why ?" 

*' We will find some, my dear chap ; we will find some," 
and Kudriasheff slapped Vassili Petrovich on the shoulder. 
" We will hand over all the local youth to you. How 
much did you charge an hour in Petersburg ?" 



THE MEETING 89 

'* Very little. It was very difficult to get good lessons. 
About two roubles, not more." 

** And for such pittance a human being wears himself 
out ! Well, here, don't you dare to ask less than five 
roubles. It is hard work. I remember how I used to 
run after extra work during my first and second years. 
At the University there were times when I was glad to get 
fifty kopecks an hour. A most thankless and difficult 
work. I will introduce you to all our friends. There 
are some very nice families here, and young ladies. If you 
behave cleverly, I will get you engaged if you like. Eh, 
Vassili Petrovich ?" 

" No, thank you." 

" What, engaged already ? Really ?" 

Vassili Petrovich' s face betrayed his confusion. 

" Yes, I see it by your eyes. Well, old chap, I con- 
gratulate you. How soon ? But Vasia ! Ivan Pavlich \" 
shouted Kudriasheff. 

Ivan Pavlich appeared at the door with a surly expres- 
sion on his sleepy face. 

*' Bring some champagne !" 

" There is none — all drunk," replied the man morosely. 

" Don't bother, Kudriasheff. Why all this ?" 

" Silence, I am not asking you. Do you want to insult 
me, or what ? Ivan Pavlich, don't come back without 
the champagne, do you hear ? Be off !" 

*' But everything is closed, Nicolai Constantino vich." 

*' Don't argue with me. You have the money. Be 
off and get some." 

The butler went off muttering something to himself. 

*' The sulky beast is still grumbling. And you, too, 
with your ' Don't bother.' If we are not to drink on such 
an occasion as this, what does champagne exist for ? . , . 
Well, who is she ?" 

" W^ho ?" 

" Who, why she, your fiancee. . . . Pauper, heiress, 
nice ?" 



90 THE MEETING 

" It's all the same to you — you don't know her, so why 
tell you her name ? She has no money, and beauty — 
that is a matter of taste. In my opinion she is beautiful." 

" Have you a photograph ?" asked Kudriasheff. 
" Bring it out. Do you carry it next to your heart ? 
Show it me ?" 

And he stretched out his hand. 

Vassili Petrovich's face, flushed from the wine, became 
still redder. Not knowing why, he unbuttoned his coat, 
took out his pocket-book and the precious photograph. 
Kudriasheff seized it and began to examine it. 

" Not so bad, my dear chap. You know a good thing 
when you see it." 

*' Cannot you talk without using those expressions ?" 
said Vassili Petrovich curtly. " Give it me back. I will 
put it away." 

" Wait a bit. Let me enjoy it. I wish you all luck 
and prosperity. Well, take it and put it back against 
your heart. Oh, you wonder, marvel !" exclaimed 
Kudriasheff, laughing. 

" I don't understand what you have found laughable 
in this ?" 

" Well, my dear chap, it is funny. I can picture to 
myself what you will be like in ten years' time : you in a 
dressing-gown, a wife, seven children, and no money with 
which to buy them shoes, breeches, hats, etc. Prosaic. 
Will you, then, carry this photograph about in your 
breast-pocket ? Ha, ha, ha !" 

** It would be more to the point if you will inform me 
what poetry awaits you in the future ? Get money and 
spend it ? Eat, drink, and sleep ?" 

" Not to eat, drink, and sleep, but to live. Live with 
a consciousness of one's freedom, and even a certain 
power." 

*' Power ? What power have you got ?" 

** There is power in money, and I have money. I do 
what I like. ... If I wish to buy you — I shall buy you." 



THE MEETING 91 

" Kudriasheff ! . . ." 

*' Don't get on the high horse about nothing. Surely 
old friends may joke with each other ? Of course, I 
shall not try to buy you. Live your own way as you like. 
All the same, I do what I wish. Oh, what a fool, an idiot, 
I am !" suddenly exclaimed Kudriasheff, hitting his fore- 
head. " Here we are, and have been sitting for I don't 
know how long, and I haven't shown you the sight. You 
talk about eating, drinking, and sleeping. I will show 
you something in a minute which will make you take 
back your words. Come along. Bring a candle." 
" Where ?" asked Vassili Petrovich. 
" Follow me. You will see where." 
Vassili Petrovich, as he rose from the table, felt that 
all was not as it should be. His legs were not altogether 
obedient, and he could not hold the candlestick without 
dropping candle-grease on the carpet. However, obtain- 
ing some sort of control over his recalcitrant limbs, he 
followed behind Kudriasheff. They passed through 
several rooms along a narrow passage, and appeared in a 
damp and dark compartment. Their footsteps resounded 
dully on the stone floor. The noise of falling water some- 
where sounded in never-ceasing accord. Stalactites of 
dark blue glass hung from the ceiling. Artificial rocks 
rose here and there half covered by masses of tropical 
foliage and panes of glass glistened darkly in certain places. 
" What is this ?" asked Vassili Petrovich. 
" An aquarium to which I have devoted two years of 
time and much money. Wait a moment, and I will light 
it up." 

Kudriasheff disappeared behind some foliage, and 
Vassili Petrovich went up to one of the panes of glass and 
commenced to examine what Vv-as behind it. The feeble 
light of the candle could not penetrate far into the water, 
but the fish, large and small, attracted by the bright light, 
collected in the part which was lighted up, and gazed 
stupidly at Vassili Petrovich with their round eyes, 



93 THE MEETING 

opening and shutting their mouths, and moving their 
gills and fins. 

Farther off there loomed up the dark outlines of seaweed, 
amongst which some kind of reptile was moving, although 
Vassili Petrovich could not discern its precise form. 

Suddenly a flood of blinding light compelled him 
mom.entarily to close his eyes, and when he again opened 
them, he did not recognize the aquarium. Kudriasheff 
had turned on electric light in two places. The light from 
the lamps penetrated the mass of blue water, swarming 
with fish and other live creatures, and filled with growth 
which showed up boldly against the undefined back- 
ground in silhouettes of blood-red, brown, and dark green. 
The rocks and tropical growth, made still darker by 
contrast, prettily framed the thick glass through which 
a view of the inside of the aquarium was opened up. 
In the aquarium all was a seething, hurrying mass, 
alarmed by the dazzling light. A whole shoal of small 
but big-headed chub rushed hither and thither, turning 
as if by word of command, sterlets wriggled about 
with their noses stuck to the glass, now rising to the 
surface, now sinking to the bottom of the water just as 
if they wished to break through the transparent but hard 
obstacle. A smooth black eel buried himself in the 
sand at the bottom of the aquarium, raising a whole 
cloud of mud. A ridiculous stumpy cuttle-fish detached 
himself from the rock on which he was resting, and swam 
jerkily backwards across the aquarium, dragging his long 
feelers behind him. Altogether it was so pretty and so new 
to Vassili Petrovich, that he was entranced. 

" Well, Vassili Petrovich, what do you think of it ?" 
asked Kudriasheff, coming out to him. 

" Marvellous ! Extraordinary ! How did you arrange 
all this ? What taste and effect !" 

" Add also knowledge. I went to Berlin expressly to 
examine the aquarium there, and, without boasting, I will 
say that mine, although, of course, it is not so big, is not 



THE MEETING 93 

in any way inferior in point of beauty and interest. . . . 
This aquarium is my pride and consolation. However 
bored, it is only necessary to come here, and I can sit 
and gaze by the hour. I like all these fish, etc., because 
they are frank, and not like our friend man. They go 
for each other without the least shame. Look, look ! 
Do you see ? A chase !" 

A small fish was impetuously rushing now to the surface, 
then to the bottom, and in every direction trying to escape 
from some long marauder. In its mortal terror it kept 
jumping out of the water into the air, or trying to conceal 
itself in the recesses of the rocks, but keen teeth were 
chasing it from all sides. The pirate was just on the point 
of seizing his quarry, when suddenly another robber 
darted in from the side, made a grab, and the little fish 
disappeared in its jaws. The pursuer stopped perplexed, 
and the robber hid itself in a dark corner. 

"Snatched away," said Kudriasheff. "Idiot! got 
nothing. Was it worth chasing simply for the booty to 
be taken from under your very nose ? . . . If only you 
knew how they feed on these little fish : to-day a whole 
shoal is put in, and by to-morrow it has disappeared, gone 
— eaten up. They eat each other and never dream about 
immorality ; but we ? I have only just got rid of this 
fiddle-faddle, Vassili Petrovich. Don't you really in the 
end agree that it is all fiddle-faddle ?" 

" What is ?" inquired Vassili Petrovich, not taking his 
eyes off the water. 

" Why, these gnawings. What are they for ? Your 
conscience may prick you, but still . . . Well, I have got 
rid of them now, and I try to imitate these creatures." 

He pointed with his finger to the aquarium. 

" Do as you like," said Vassili Petrovich with a sigh. 
" Listen, Kudriasheff. Surely all this growth, all these 
fish — it is all salt-water life." 

" Yes, and the water is sea-water. I have laid down a 
pipe on purpose." 



94 THE MEETING 

" What, from the sea ? But all this must cost an 
enormous lot ?" 

" Yes. My aquarium costs about thirty thousand 
roubles." 

" Thirty thousand !" exclaimed Vassili Petrovich in a 
horrified tone. " With a salary of one thousand six 
hundred roubles a year ?" 

" Oh, drop this honour ! If you have looked at it 
we will go back. Ivan Pavlich by now should have 
brought the required . . . Only wait a moment whilst I 
switch off the light." 

The aquarium again became plunged in gloom. The 
still burning candle appeared a dull, smoky little light 
to Vassili Petrovich. 

When they reached the dining-room, Ivan Pavlich was 
waiting, and holding a bottle wrapped in a serviette in 
readiness. 



VI 
A NIGHT 



A WATCH lying on the writing-table was hurriedly, and 
with wearying repetition, singing two notes. It was 
difficult even for a quick ear to distinguish between the 
two sounds, but to the owner of the watch, the wretched 
man sitting near this table, the ticking of the watch 
seemed a whole song. 

"It is a joyless and disconsolate song," said he to 
himself. "It is the song of time itself, and it is being 
sung apparently for my benefit. It is for my edification 
that it is singing with such surprising monotony. Three, 
four, ten years ago the watch ticked as now, and in ten 
years' time will be ticking in just the same manner . . . 
exactly as now." 

He threw a troubled glance at the watch, but imme- 
diately turned his eyes back to where he had been vacantly 
gazing. 

" To the time of its ticking all life with its seeming 
variety is passing — its sorrows, joys, heart-breakings, 
and triumphs, hate and love. And only now, at night, 
when all and everything in this huge town and this huge 
house is asleep, and when there are no sounds other than 
the beating of my heart and the ticking of the watch — 
only now I perceive that all these sorrows, joys, and 
triumphs which go to make up life — all are unrealities, 
for some of which I have striven, and from others have 

95 



96 A NIGHT 

fled without, in either case, knowing why. I did not 
know then that life holds only one reality — time. Time 
marching forward, passionless, pitiless, not halting where 
hapless man, living by minutes, would fain dvvell, and 
not increasing its pace by one iota, even when reality 
is so grievous that it is desirable to make it a past dream ; 
time — conscious only of one refrain — that v/hicli I hear 
now with such painful clearness." 

Thus thought this miserable man whilst the watch 
ticked on, maliciously repeating the eternal song of time, 
a song fraught with many memories for him. 

** Truly it is strange ! I know that a certain scent, 
subject of conversation, or striking refrain v;ill recall 
to memory a whole picture of the long, long past. I 
remember I was with a dying man, when an Italian 
organ-grinder stopped before the open window, and at 
the ver}^ moment the sick man v/as uttering his last dis- 
jointed words, and with bowed head was breathing in 
hoarse agony, there rang out an air from ' Martha,' 
and ever since, when I chance to hear this air — and I 
sometimes hear it: trivialities die hard — there imme- 
diately rises before my eyes a rumpled pillow, and on it 
a pale face. Whenever I see a funeral, the air which the 
little organ played immediately rings in my ears. 
Horrible ! . . . But all this is * a propos ' of what ? I 
began to think. Ah ! I know — why should a watch, the 
sound of which, it would seem, should have long ago 
become familiar, remind me of so much ? — all my life ! 

Do you remember, remember, remember ?' I re- 
member ! Too well ! I even remember what it would 
be better not to remember. From these memories my 
face becomes distorted, my fist clenches and strikes the 
table a furious blow. . . . Ah, now ! that blow deadened 
the song of the watch, and for a moment I do not hear it ; 
but only for one moment, after which it again resounds 
insolently, evilly, and persistently. 

** * Do you remember, remember, remember ?' . . . 



A NIGHT 



97 



Oh yes, I remember ! There is no need for me to recall 
it. All my life I It is all in front of me. Is there any- 
thing in it of which to be proud ?" 

He shouted this aloud in a hoarse, choking voice. He 
imagined he saw before him all his life. He recalled a 
series of ugly and sombre pictures in which he was the 
principal figure. He recalled all that was worst in his 
life, turned it all over in his mind, but failed to find one 
clean or bright spot in it, and was convinced that none 
remained. "Not only none remained, but had never 
existed," he added in self-correction. 

A weak, timid voice from some remote corner of his 
soul murmured : " Enough ; did it really never exist ?" 

He did not hear this voice — or, at least, made pretence 
that he had not heard it, and continued to pull himself 
to pieces. 

'* I have thoroughly overhauled my memory, and it 
seems to me that I am right — there is nothing to stand 
on, no footing whence to make the first step forward. 
Forward ! — -whither ? I do not know, only out of this 
vicious circle. 

" There is no support in the past, because all is false, 
all is deception. I have lied, and deceived, and deluded 
even myself. Just as a swindler borrows money right 
and left, deceiving people with fictitious stories of his 
wealth — of wealth he has never received, but neverthe- 
less declares to exist — so I all my life have lied to myself. 
Now the day of reckoning has arrived, and I am bankrupt 
— a fraudulent bankrupt." 

He dwelt on these words with a perverted sense of 
enjoyment. He appeared to be almost proud of them. 
He did not perceive that in designating his whole life 
a fraud, and in besmearing himself, he was telling lies 
at that very moment — the worst possible description of 
lie — a self -lie, because he did not in reality place any- 
thing like so low an estimate on himself. Had anyone 
charged him with even a tenth part of what he had accused 

7 



98 A NIGHT 

himself of during that long evening, his face would have 
flushed, but not with the flush of shame and recognition 
of the truth of such reproaches, but with the flush of anger. 
He would have known how to answer the offender v/ho 
had touched the pride which he was himself nov/ appar- 
ently trampling on so pitilessly. 

Was he himself ? 

He had arrived at such a state that he could not even say 
of himself, " I am myself." In his soul voices were speak- 
ing. They were speaking differently, and which of these 
voices was his own, his " ego," he himself could not tell. 
The first voice, full and clear, flayed him with well- 
defined, even eloquent, phrases. The second voice, vague 
but quarrelsome and persistent, sometimes drowned the 
first : " Why condemn yourself ?" it said. " Better 
deceive yourself to the end ; deceive all. Make yourself 
out to others what you are not, and all will be well." 
There was yet a third voice — that voice which had said : 
" Enough ; did it really never exist ?" But this voice 
spoke timidly, and was scarcely audible. Moreover, he 
did not attempt to hear it. 

" Deceive all. . . . Make yourself out what you are 
not " 

** But, surely, have I not endeavoured to do this all my 
life ? Have I not deceived others ? Have I not played 
this farcical role ? And has it really turned out well ? 
It has resulted in my failure as an actor. Even now I 
am not what I am in reality. But do I really know what 
I actually am ? I am too much confused to know. 
But never mind, I have felt for some hours that I have 
broken down, and am uttering words which I do not 
myself believe, even now, when on the threshhold of 
death." 

*' Surely I am not really face to face with death ? 

" Yes, yes, yes !" he shouted, viciously driving each 
word home with his fist against the table. '* It is neces- 
sary once and for all to get out of this tangle. The knot 



A NIGHT 



99 



is tied. It cannot be unloosed ; it must be cut. Only 
why prolong matters and lacerate my soul already torn 
to tatters ? Why, when once I have decided, do I sit 
like a statue from eight o'clock in the evening until 
now ?" 

And he hastily commenced to pull a revolver from out 
of a side-pocket of his shuba. 

II 

He had, indeed, sat in one place from eight in the 
evening until 3 a.m. 

At seven o'clock of this last evening of his life he had 
left his flat, hired an izvoschik, and had driven, sitting 
huddled up in the sleigh, to the far end of the town, 
where an old friend of his lived, a doctor, who that 
evening, as he knew, was going with his wife to the 
theatre. He knew that he would not find his friends at 
home, and was not going for the sake of seeing them. 
He would be sure to gain admittance as an intimate 
friend, and that was all that was necessary. 

*' Yes, they are sure to let me in. I will say that I 
must write a note. If only Dunyasha won't think of 
standing by me in the room. . . . Hey, old man, get along 
faster !" he called out to the izvoschik. 

The izvoschik — a little old man, his back bent with 
age, with a very thin neck enveloped in a coloured 
muffler, which stuck out above the wide collar of his 
coat, and with yellowish-tinged grey curls breaking out 
from under an enormous round cap, clicked his tongue — 
gave the reins a tug, again gave a click, and hurriedly 
murmured in a wheezy voice : 

" We will get there. Your Excellency, never fear. 
Now, now ! . . . Get on, you spoiled . . . Eh, but what 
a horse, may the Lord pardon ! . . . Now, now !" He 
struck the horse with his whip, but the only response was 
a slight swish of its tail. " And I should be glad to 



100 A NIGHT 

please Your Excellency, but the master has given me 
such a horse — simply it is . . . The gentlemen are in- 
sulted, but what is to be done ? And the master says, 
' Thou,' he says, * Grandad, art an old man, and so here 
is an old beast for thee ; you will be a pair,' he says, 
' and the young ones laugh. Glad to laugh. What is 
it to them ? They can scarcely understand. They do 
not understand." 

*' What do they not understand ?" inquired the pas- 
senger, occupied at this moment in thinking how not to 
let Dunyasha into the room. 

" They do not understand. Your Excellency. They 
do not understand. How can they ? They are silly — 
young. I am the only old man in the yard. Is it per- 
missible to insult an old man ? I have been eighty years 
in this world, and they are just showing their teeth. 
Twenty- three years I served as a soldier. ... It is well 
known that they are stupid. . . . Well, you old rubbish, 
have you frozen stiff ?" 

And he again hit the horse a whack with his whip, but 
as it paid not the slightest attention to the blow, he 
added : '' What's to be done with it ? Also, I expect, 
tv/enty-one years old. Get on, you . . . Look, how it 
swishes its tail !" 

On the illuminated face of a clock in one of the windows 
of a large building the hands pointed to half-past 
seven. 

" They must have already started," thought the 
passenger of the doctor and his wife. *' But perhaps not 
yet. . . . Grandad, don't hurry, please. Go slower. 
I am not in a hurry." 

" That's known, sir," said the old man, pleased. " AU 
the better slower. Now then, you old ..." 

They went along for a little time in silence, then the 
old man grew bold. 

** Tell me, Your Excellency," he said, suddenly turning 
round towards his passenger, revealing a wrinkled face 



A NIGHT loi 

with red eyelids, and framed in a straggly grey beard, 
** why does this kind of thing happen to a man ? There 
was an izvoschik amongst us called Ivan, a young 
fellov/, twenty-five or perhaps less years old. And who 
knows why, from what reason, he laid hands on himself." 

*' Who V quietly inquired the passenger in a hoarse 
voice. 

" Why, Ivan Sidoroff. He lived amongst us izvos- 
chiks. He was a bright young fellow and hard-working. 
W^ell, on Monday we had supper and laid down to sleep. 
But Ivan laid down without having any supper. His 
head, he said v/as breaking. We slept, but in the night 
he got up and went out. Only no one saw this. We went 
out in the morning to harness up, and there he was in 
the stable on a peg. He had taken the harness from off 
a peg, placed it alongside, and fastened a cord. . . . Ah 
me ! It was heart-breaking. And what was the reason 
this izvoschik hanged himself ? How could it have 
happened ? Wonderful !" 

" Why ?" asked the passenger, coughing, and with 
trembling hands wrapping himself up more closely in 
his shuba. 

" There are no such thoughts with an izvoschik. 
Work is hard and difncult. In the early morning, when 
there is no light before dawn, harness up and away from 
the yard. Frost and cold. Only the traktir in which 
to get warm. Money to be earned so as to pay the two 
roubles and a half for hire of the horse, and money for 
the lodging to be found, and — sleep. It is difficult to 
think much then. But with you, sir, you know that 
everything crowds into the head with ' light ' food." 

" With what kind of food ?" 

*' With bread lightly earned. Therefore the Barin 
will get up, put on his dressing-grown, drink his tea, and 
wander about his room with wicked thoughts around 
him. I have seen it. I know. In our regiment at 
T , in the Caucasus, when I was serving, there v/as a 



102 A NIGHT 

young subaltern, Prince V They made me his 

servant ..." 

" Stop, stop ! . . ." suddenly called out the passenger. 
" Here, by the lamp. I will walk from here." 

" As the Bar in wishes. Walk if he wishes to walk. 
Thank you, Your Excellency." 

The izvoschik turned and disappeared in the 
miatel which had arisen, and the passenger went on 
with dragging steps. In ten minutes' time he reached the 
house, and having arrived at the third story by way of 
the front staircase, he rang at a door covered with green 
baize, and ornamented with a highly polished brass 
name-plate. As he waited for the door to be opened, 
the few minutes seemed to drag as if they would never 
come to an end. A dull oblivion seized him ; everything 
disappeared ; the tormenting past, the chatter of the half- 
drunken izvoschik, so strangely apposite that it com- 
pelled him to walk, and even the intention which had 
brought him here — all had disappeared. Before his 
eyes was only a green-baize door edged with black tape 
studded with brass-headed nails. Naught else in the 
whole world. 

'' Ah, Alexei Petrovich !" 

It was Dunyasha vv^ho, candle in hand, opened the 
door. 

" And the Barin and Barinia have just gone out. 
Only this minute gone down the stairs. How is it you 
did not meet them ?" 

" Gone ? Oh, what a pity !" He lied in such a 
strange voice that Dunyasha' s face betrayed some 
bewilderment as she looked him straight in the eyes. 
" And I wanted to see them. Look here, Dunyasha; I 
am going into the Sarin's study for a minute. . . . 
May I ?" he asked, even timidly. " I won't be a minute. 
Only just a note ... it is a matter . . ." 

He looked at her with an inquiring glance, not removing 
his shuba or galoshes, or moving from where he stood. 



A NIGHT 103 

Dunyasha became confused. 

" But what is the matter with you, Alexei Petrovich ? 
Have I ever ... it is not the first time/' she said in an 
aggrieved tone. *' Please come in." 

" Yes, as a matter of fact, why all this ? Why am I 
talking like this ? However, she will come in after me. 
I must send her away. Where can I send her ? She will 
guess, of course. She has even guessed already.'* 

Dunyasha had guessed nothing, but was only extremely 
surprised at the strange appearance and behaviour of the 
visitor. She had been left alone in the flat and was glad, 
if only for five minutes, to be with a living being. Having 
placed the candle on a table, she stood by the door. 

" Go away, go away, for goodness' sake !" Alexei Petro- 
vich kept saying inwardly. He sat down at the table, 
took a sheet of paper, and began to think of what he should 
v/rite, feeling Dunyasha' s glance on him, which, it seemed 
to him, was reading his thoughts. 

" Peter Nicolaivich," he wrote, stopping at each word, 
" I came to see you about a very important matter 
which ..." 

"... Which, which," he muttered, *' and she keeps 
standing and standing there. . . . Dunyasha, go and get 
me a glass of water," he suddenly said in a loud voice. 

" Certainly, Alexei Petrovich." And she turned and 
went. 

Then the visitor got up, and on tiptoe hurriedly went 
to the sofa, above which hung the revolver and sword 
the Doctor had used in the Russo-Turkish campaign, 
deftly unfastened the flap of the holster, pulled out the 
revolver, and slipped it into the side-pocket of his 
shuba ; then he took some cartridges out of the pouch 
fastened on to the holster, and slipped them also into his 
pocket. Within three minutes Alexei Petrovich had 
drunk the glass of water which Dunyasha brought him, 
had sealed up the unwritten letter, and had started home. 
" It must be finished, it must be finished," kept ringing 



104 A NIGHT 

in his brain. But he did not finish it immediately 
following his arrival home. Going into his room and 
locking the door, he threw himself, without taking off 
his shuba, into an arm-chair, and, lost in thought, gazed 
vacantly, first at a photograph, then at a book, or at the 
pattern of the wall-paper, and listened to the ticking of 
his watch, which he had forgotten, and was lying on the 
table. He sat thus, without moving so much as a muscle, 
until far into the night, until that moment when we 
found him. 

Ill 

The revolver refused to come out of the narrow pocket ; 
then, when it lay on the table, he discovered that all 
the cartridges except one had fallen through a small 
hole in the pocket into the lining of the shuba. Alexei 
Petrovich took off his shuba, and was about to take 
a knife to rip up the lining of the pocket and get out the 
cartridges, when he stopped, and a wry smile hovered 
at one corner of his parched lips. 

" Why bother ? One is enough. Oh yes, one of these 
little things is quite sufficient to make everything dis- 
appear once and for all. The whole world will disappear ; 
there will be no regrets, no w^ounded self-esteem, no 
self-reproaches, no hateful people pretending to be kind 
and simple — people whom one sees through and despises, 
but before whom, nevertheless, one also dissembles, 
pretending to like them, and to be well-disposed towards 
them. There will be no deceit of self and others ; there 
will be truth, the eternal truth of non-existence. 

He heard his voice. He was no longer thinking but 
speaking aloud, and what he said was hateful to him. 

'* Again. . . . You are dying, killing yourself — and even 
cannot do that without apostrophizing. For whom, 
and before whom, are you posing ? . . . Before yourself ! 
Ah, enough, enough, enough," he repeated in a tormented, 
despairing voice, and with trembling hands he tried to 



A NIGHT 105 

open the refractory breech of the revolver. At length 
the breech submitted and opened ; the cartridge, smeared 
with fat, slipped into the chamber of the drum, and the 
hammer cocked apparently of its own accord. There was 
nothing to interfere with death ! The revolver was a 
regulation officer's revolver ; the door was locked, and 
no one could enter. 

" Now then, Alexei Petrovich !" he said, firmly 
grasping the handle. 

** But the letter V suddenly flashed into his brain. 

*' Can I die without leaving behind me one line ?" 

" Why ? For whom ? All will disappear, there v,ill 
be nothing. What concern is it of mine ?" 

'' That may be, but all the same I shall write. May I 
not for once at least express myself absolutety freely, 
not embarrassed by anything ? or, what is most important, 
by myself ? This surely is a rare, very rare, the sole 
chance." 

He laid down the revolver, took some writing-paper 
out of a box, and having tried several pens which would 
not write, but broke and spoilt the paper, he at length 
began, but not before he had spoilt several sheets : 
** Petersburg. 28 November, 187-." Afterwards his 
hand ran of its own accord along the paper, reeling off 
sentence after sentence, barely intelligible to himse. 

He wrote that he was dying calmly because regrets 
were useless. Life was one vast lie. People whom he 
loved — that is, if he had ever really loved anybody, and 
had not pretended to himself that he loved — were not 
able to make him live, because he had drawn all there was 
to be drawn out of them — no, no, not that — because 
there was nothing to draw out of them, but simply because 
they had lost all interest for him once he understood them. 
He wrote that he understood himxself, and understood 
that in himself there was nothing but falsehood ; that if 
he had done anything in his life, it was not from a wish 
to do good, but from vanity ; that if he had done nothing 



io6 A NIGHT 

wrong or dishonourable, it was not due to absence of evil 
qualities, but from cowardly fright of people. He wrote 
that, nevertheless, he did not think himself worse than 
those persons remaining to lie until the end of their 
days, and did not beg their pardon, but was dying with 
a contempt for people not less than his contempt for him- 
self. A malicious, senseless phrase slipped in at the end 
of the letter : " Farewell, people ! Farewell, you blood- 
thirsty grimacing apes !" 

It only remained to sign the letter. But when he had 
finished writing he felt hot ; the blood had surged to his 
head, and was beating against his perspiring temples. 
And forgetting about the revolver and the fact that by 
ridding himself of life he could avoid the heat, he got up, 
went to the window, and opened the fortochka. A 
steaming current of frosty air blew in on him. It had 
stopped snowing, and the sky was clear. On the opposite 
side of the street a dazzling white garden, wrapped in 
icicles, glistened in the moonlight. A few stars were 
gazing from out of a distant heaven, one of which was 
brighter than the remainder, and shone with a reddish tint. 

" Arcturus," whispered Alexei Petrovich. " What 
years since I have seen Arcturus. Not since I was at 
school !" 

He was unwilling to take his eyes off the star. Some- 
body shivering in a light overcoat, and stamping with his 
half-frozen feet on the pavement, passed hurriedly along 
the street. Then a carriage, the wheels of which rang 
on the frozen snow, and then an izvoschik went past, 
driving a fat man — and still Alexei Petrovich stood there 
as if carved. 

" It must be done !" he said at last. 

He went to the table. It was only a few paces from 
the window to the table, but it seemed to him as if he had 
been walking ages. He had already taken up the 
revolver, when through the opened window there came 
the distant but clear, vibrating sound of a bell. 



A NIGHT 107 

" A bell !" exclaimed Alexei Petrovich, astonished, and 
replacing the revolver once more on the table, he threw 
himself into the arm-chair. 



IV 

" A bell !" he repeated. Why a bell ? . . . Was it 
a service ? Prayers . . . church . . . suffocating heat. 
Wax candles. The decrepit priest, Father Michael, per- 
forming the service in a plaintive, cracked voice, and the 
deacon with his bass. A longing to sleep. Dawn just» 
breaking through the window. His father standing next 
him with bowed head, making hurried little crosses. 
Behind them, in the crowd of moujiks and babas, 
constant prostrations. . . . How long ago it all was ! . . . 
So long ago that it was hard to believe it had ever 
happened, that he had himself once seen it, and had not 
read of it somewhere, or heard of it from somebody. No, 
no, it all happened, and it was better then. Yes, not only 
better but well. If only it was like that now, there would 
be no need to leave by aid of a revolver. 

" Finish it !" something whispered to him. He glanced 
at the revolver, and stretched out his hand towards it, 
but immediately drew it back. 

" Afraid ?" it whispered again. 

" No, not afraid. There is nothing frightening in it. 
But the bell ! Why the bell ?" 

He glanced at the watch. 

" It must be early morning service. People will go to 
church. Many of them will feel easier for it. So they 
say, at all events. Besides, I remember I used to feel 
better for it. I was a boy then. Afterwards this passed 
off, perished, and I no longer felt easier for it. That's 
the truth . . . truth ! The truth has been found at last 
at this moment !" 

And the moment seemed inevitable. He slowly turned 
his head and again looked at the revolver. It was a big 



io8 A NIGHT 

Government regulation pattern revolver, a Smith and 
Wesson. It had been " browned " once, but had now 
become lighter in colour, owing to its long rest in the 
doctor's holsters. It lay on the table with the butt 
towards Alexei Petrovich, who could see the worn wood 
of the handle with its ring for the cord, a part of the 
drum, with the cocked trigger and the muzzle of the barrel, 
which looked towards the wall. 
" There lies death ! It must be seized." 
It was quiet in the street ; no one was either driving 
• or walking past. And from out of this stillness there 
again sounded the distant stroke of a bell. The waves 
of sound floated through the open window, and reached 
Alexei Petrovich. They spoke to him in a foreign tongue, 
but spoke something great, important, and solemn, stroke 
after stroke, and when the bell resounded for the last 
time, and the sound tremblingly died away into space, 
Alexei Petrovich experienced a real loss. The bell had 
delivered its message. It had recalled to a perplexed 
man that there is something besides his own narrow little 
world which had tormented him, and brought him to 
suicide. Recollections, fragmentary, disjointed, and all 
as if something entirely new for him, came flooding on 
him in an irresistible wave. This night he had already 
pondered over many things, had recalled much, and 
imagined that he had recalled all his life, that he had 
clearly seen himself. Now he felt that there was another 
side in him, that side of which the timid voice of his soul 
had spoken. 



Do you remember yourself as a little child when you 
lived with your father in a far-away forgotten village ? 
He was an unhappy man, your father, but he loved you 
more than all else in the world. Do you remember how 
you would sit together in the long winter evenings, he 
busy with accounts, you with your books, the tallow- 



A NIGHT 109 

dipped candle with its reddish flame burning more and 
more dimly, until, arming yourself with snuffers, you 
trimmed it ? That was your duty, and you performed 
it with such importance that your father each time would 
raise his eyes from the big ledger, and with customary 
pathetic and caressing smile, look at you. Your eyes 
would meet. 

*' Look, papa, how much I have already read," you 
would say, and show the pages you had read, holding 
them together with your fingers. 

" Read, read, my little friend," your father would say 
approvingly, and again bury himself in accounts. 

He allowed you to read anything, because only good 
could remain in the mind of his adored little boy. And 
you read and read, understanding nothing of the argu- 
ments, but, nevertheless, taking it all in accordance with 
childish ideas. 

Yes, red was red then, and not the reflection of red rays. 
Then everything was as it appeared. Then there were 
not ready-made receptacles for impressions, for ideas into 
which a man poured forth all that he felt, not troubling 
whether the receptacle was a fit one or sound. And if he 
loved someone, he knew without a doubt that he loved. 

A pretty, laughing face rose before his eyes and 
vanished. 

And she ? You also loved her ? I must acknowledge 
that, at all events, we played sufficiently with feeling. 
And it would seem that at least I spoke and thought 
sincerely at that time. . . . What torture it was ! And 
when happiness came it did not seem at all like happiness, 
and if I had been able then actually to say to time. Stop ! 
wait a little ! here it is good — I should have still thought 
— Shall I order it to stop or not ? And afterwards, very 
soon afterwards, it became necessary to drive time 
ahead. . . . But it is no use to think of that now. I must 
think of what was and not of what it appeared to be. 

And there was very little to think of, only childhood. 



no A NIGHT 

And of that there remained in his memory only dis- 
jointed fragments which Alexei Petrovich began to collect 
with avidity. 

He recalled the little house, the bedroom in which 
he slept opposite his father. He remembered the red 
canopy hanging above his father's bed. Every evening, 
as he fell asleep, he gazed at these curtains, and always 
found fresh figures in its fantastic patterns — flowers, 
birds, and faces of people. He remembered the early 
morning smell of the straw with which they warmed the 
house. The faithful Nicholas, the good man had already 
filled the passage with straw, which he had dragged in 
from outside, and v/as pushing whole bundles of it into 
the mouth of the stove. It used to burn brightly and 
clearly, and the smoke had a pleasing, but somewhat 
acrid smell. Alesha was ready to sit whole hours before 
the stove, but his father would call him to come and drink 
his morning tea, after which lessons would begin. He 
remembered how he could not understand decimals, and 
that his father would get rather hot, and try his utmost 
to explain them to him. 

" I fancy he was not altogether clear about them him- 
self," reflected Alexei Petrovich. 

Then afterwards Biblical history. Alesha loved that 
more than all the other lessons. Wonderful, gigantic, 
and extravagant characters. Cain, the history of Joseph, 
the Pharaohs, the wars. How the ravens carried food 
to the prophet Elijah. And there was a picture of it. 
Elijah sitting on a stone with a large book on his knees, 
and two birds flying to him holding something round in 
their beaks. 

" Papa, look, the ravens took bread to Elijah, but our 
Worka takes everything from us." 

A tame raven with red beak and claws dyed with red 
paint, so Nicholas imagined, would jump sideways along 
the back of the sofa, and, stretching out his neck, try to 
drag a shiny bronze frame from the wall. In this frame 



A NIGHT III 

there was a miniature water-coloured portrait of a young 
man with a very smooth forehead, dressed in a dark green 
uniform with epaulets, and a very high red collar, and a 
cross attached to a buttonhole. This was the same papa 
twenty-five years ago. 

The raven and portrait flashed up and disappeared. 

" And afterwards what ? Afterwards a star, a shed, 
manger. I remember that this word manger was quite 
a new one to me, although I had known of the manger 
in our stables and cow-house. But those stalls seemed 
something special." 

They did not study the New Testament like the Old, 
not from a thick book with pictures. His father used 
to tell Alesha of Jesus Christ, and often read out to him 
whole chapters from the Gospels. 

" ' But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, 
turn to him the other also.' Do you understand, Alesha ? " 
And the father began a long explanation to which Alesha 
did not listen, but suddenly interrupted his teacher by 
saying : " Papa, do you remember when Uncle Dmitri 
Ivanovich arrived ? That's exactly what happened. 
He struck Thomas in the face, and Thomas stood still, 
and then Uncle Dmitri Ivanovich struck him from the 
other side, and still Thomas did not move. I was sorry 
for him, and cried." 

" Yes, then I cried," murmured Alexei Petrovich, 
rising from the arm-chair and commencing to pace the 
room. " Then I cried." 

He became dreadfully sorry for these tears of a sixteen- 
year-old boy, sorry for that time when he could cry 
because a defenceless human being was struck in his 
presence. 

VI 

The frosty air was all this time entering the window. 
A cloud of steam was literally pouring into the already 
cold room. The big squat lamp, with its opaque shade. 



112 A NIGHT 

standing on the writing-table, burned brightly, but only 
lighted the surface of the table, and a portion of the ceiling 
on which it formed a trembling round spot of light. 
The rest of the room was in semi-darkness, through which 
could be discerned a bookcase, a large sofa, some other 
furniture, and a looking-glass on the wall, which reflected 
the lighted-up v,Titing-table and the tall figure each time 
he strode past it in his restless movement from corner 
to corner of the room, eight paces there and eight paces 
back. Sometimes Alexei Petrovich stopped at the 
window. The cold current bathed his burning head, 
and his bared neck and chest. He shivered, but was not 
refreshed. He continued to recall those days in a series 
of fragmentary and disjointed reminiscences. He re- 
called numberless little trivial details, becoming confused 
in them, and unable to distinguish precisely what was 
important in them. He knew only one thing — i.e., that 
up to twelve years of age, when his father sent him to 
school, he had lived an entirely different inner life, and 
he remembered that then it was better. 

" What is drawing thee to that half -conscious life ? 
What was there good in those childish years ? A solitary 
child and a solitary grown-up man — a ' crushed * man, 
as you yourself called him after his death. You were 
right, he was a " crushed " man. Life had quickly and 
easily destroyed all the good in him, all the good which 
he had collected in his youth, but at least it had not in- 
troduced anything bad. And he lived his time, helpless, 
with a helpless love which he devoted almost entirely 
to you." 

Alexei Petrovich thought of his father, and for the first 
time after many years felt that he loved him, in spite of 
all his smallness. He wished now, if only for one minute, 
to take himself back to his childhood, to the village, to 
the little house, and to caress this " crushed " man, caress 
him in regular childish fashion. He longed for that 
clean and simple love v/hich only children know, and 



A NIGHT 113 

possibly the very clean, unspoiled natures of a few older 
people. 

** And is it really impossible to return to this happi- 
ness ? To this ability to recognize that what one says 
and thinks is true ? How many years it is since I ex- 
perienced it ! One speaks warmly and apparently 
sincerely, but in one's soul there is all the time sitting 
a canker-worm, devouring it, and sucking it dry, and 
saying : * My friend, are you not lying ? Do you in 
reality think what you are now speaking ?' " 

Yet one more apparently senseless phrase took shape 
in the head of Alexei Petrovich. " Do you really think 
what you are thinking ?" It was a senseless phrase, 
but he understood it. 

Yes, then he really thought what he thought. He 
had loved his father, who knew that he loved him. 
*' Oh, if there were but one genuine real feeling within me. 
Yet there exists such a world. The bell reminded me of 
it. When it sounded I remembered the church, the crowd, 
the enormous mass of humanity, the real life. That is 
where one must go — out of oneself — and that is where 
one must love, and love as children love. As children . . . 
just as it is said there. ..." 

He went to the table, drew out one of the drawers, 
and commenced to rummage in it. A little dark green 
book, bought by him once at some exhibition as a cheap 
curio, lay in a corner. He seized it joyously, quickly 
turning over the leaves with their two narrow columns 
of small print. Familiar words and sentences rose to 
mind. He began to read from the first page, and read it 
all without a pause, having forgotten even about the 
sentence in search of which he had got out the book. 
This sentence, which had so long been familiar and so long 
forgotten, astonished him, when he came upon it with the 
weight of the substance expressed in its words : " Except 
ye become as little children ..." 

It seemed to him that he understood all. 



114 A NIGHT 

" Do I know what these words mean * Become as a 
little child ' ? It means not to place oneself first in 
everything, to tear from one's heart this horrid little 
deformed god with its protuberant paunch, this repulsive 
* ego ' which, like some canker-worm, sucks dry the 
soul, and ceaselessly demands of it fresh food. But out 
of where shall I tear it ? Thou hast already devoured 
all. All my time, all my forces, have been devoted to 
thy service. I have nourished thee, have revered thee. 
Although I hated thee I still worshipped thee, bringing 
to thee in sacrifice, and giving to thee all the good which 
I possessed, and for this I have bowed and bowed ..." 

He repeated this word as he continued to pace the 
room. But his gait was now unsteady. He staggered 
as if drunk, with his head lowered on his chest, which 
was heaving with sobs, not stopping to wipe his tear- 
moistened face. At last his legs refused to serve him any 
longer, and he sat down, pressing himself into a corner 
of the sofa. Supporting himself on his elbows, he dropped 
his fevered head into his hands and wept like a child. 
This loss of strength lasted for some time, but he was 
no longer in torture. The storm was abating, the tears 
were flowing, giving him relief, and he felt no shame in 
them. No matter who had entered the room at that 
moment, he would not have tried to restrain these tears 
which were carrying away hate with them. He felt now 
that all had not yet been swallowed up by the idol to 
which he had bowed for so many years. That there still 
remained love and even self-denial. That it was worth 
while living if only to pour forth this remnant ; where, and 
on what, he did not know. At that moment it was not 
necessary to know where to take his guilty head. He 
recalled the grief and suffering which it had been his lot 
to witness in life — genuine living grief before which all his 
torments in solitude had no significance ; and he understood 
that he ought to go to this grief, to take his share of it upon 
himself, and only then would there be peace in his soul. 



A NIGHT 115 

"It is terrible ! I can no longer live on engrossed in 
my own fears and in myself. It is necessary, absolutely 
necessary, to bind myself with life in general, to suffer 
or to rejoice, to hate or to love, not for my own sake, not 
for my ' ego,' devouring all and giving nothing in return, 
but for the sake of truth, common to all, which is in the 
world, notwithstanding anything I may have said, which 
speaks in the soul in spite of all attempts to stifle it. Yes, 
yes," repeated Alexei Petrovich in awful excitement, 
'* all this is written in the little green book, is said for ever 
a,nd aye, and is truly said. It is necessary to ' reject ' 
oneself, to kill one's ' ego,' to make for the road ..." 

" What use is it to you, madman ?" whispered a voice. 
But another, once timid and unheeded voice, thundered 
in reply : " Silence ! What benefit will it be to him if he 
tortures himself ?" 

Alexei Petrovich jumped to his feet and straightened 
himself to his full height. This argument rendered him 
enthusiastic. He had never yet experienced such en- 
thusiasm from any life-success or from woman's love. 
This enthusiasm was born of his heart, burst from it, 
pouring out in a hot, wide wave, and flowed through all 
his limbs. In an instant his numbed, unhappy being 
flamed to life. Thousands of bells sounded in majestic 
triumph. A blinding sun flashed out, illumined the 
whole world, and disappeared. . . . 

:!: :i: 4: * 4: 

The lamp, which had burned throughout the long night, 
became dimmer and dimmer, and finally went out alto- 
gether. But it w^as no longer dark in the room. Day 
had broken. Its calm grey light little by little found its 
way into the room, faintly showing up the loaded weapon 
and the letter with its senseless ravings lying on the table, 
and revealing a peaceful, happy expression on the pallid 
face of a corpse stretched on the floor in the middle of the 
room. 



VII 

A TOAD AND A ROSE 

Once upon a time in this world there lived a rose and a 
toad. 

The bush on which the rose bloomed grew in a not very 
big crescent-shaped flower-bed in front of a country house 
in a village. The flower-bed was in a very neglected state. 
Grass and weeds grew thickly over its sunken surface, and 
along the paths, which no one had cleaned or sprinkled 
with sand for a long time. A wooden trellis, which had 
once been painted green, was now quite bare of any such 
decoration, had rotted, and was falling to pieces. Most 
of the long stakes of which the trellis-work was composed 
had been pulled up by the boys of the village for playing 
at soldiers, or by peasants coming to the house to defend 
themselves from a savage yard-dog. 

But the flower-bed itself was none the worse for this 
desolation. Climbing hop tendrils entwined themselves 
amongst the debris of the trellis-work, mingling with the 
large white flowers of convolvuli. Broom hung from it 
in pale green clusters, dotted with lilac-tinted bunches of 
bloom. Prickly thistles grew so freely in the rich moist soil 
(the flower-bed was surrounded by a large shady garden), 
that they almost resembled trees. Yellow mullen raised 
blossom-covered shoots even higher. Nettles had taken 
possession of a whole corner of the bed. Of course they 
stung, but, from a distance, one could admire their dark 

ii6 



A TOAD AND A ROSE 117 

foliage, especially when this foliage served as a back- 
ground for the delicate, lovely pale blossom of a rose. 

It burst into bloom on a beautiful May morning. 
When it had opened its petals, the early dew, before taking 
flight, had left on them a few transparent tear-drops, 
which made it look as if the rose was weeping. But all 
around was so beautiful, so clean and bright on this 
glorious morning when the rose first saw the blue sky 
and felt the caress of the morning zephyr, and the rays 
of a brilliant sun, giving a pinkish tint to its thin petals. 
All in the flower-bed was so peaceful and calm that had 
the rose really been able to cry, it would not have been 
from grief, but from the very joy of living. It could not 
talk ; it could only diffuse around, with lowered head, a 
delicate fresh perfume, and this perfume was at once its 
words, tears, and prayers. But below it, amongst the roost 
of the rose-bush on the damp soil, as if glued to it by its 
flat belly, there sat a decidedly fat old toad, which used 
to hunt all night for worms and midges, and when morning 
came, would sit and rest from his labours, having first 
chosen the shadiest and dampest spot. He used to sit 
there, his toad's eyes, with their membranous lids, tightly 
closed, his scarcely perceptible breathing expanding his 
dirty-grey barbed and sticky sides, with one shapeless 
paw outstretched, too lazy to tuck it in. He was not 
rejoicing either in the brilliant morning sun or the beautiful 
weather. He had fed and meant to have a rest. But 
when the breeze chanced to die away for a minute, and 
the perfume of the rose was not borne to one side, the 
toad noticed it, and this caused him a vague uneasiness. 
However, for a long time he was too lazy to look and see 
whence this scent was coming. 

It was a long time since anyone had come to the bed 
in which the rose was growing and the toad used to sit. 
In the autumn of the past year, on the very day that the 
toad, having discovered an excellent chink under one of 
the stones forming the basement of the house, had decided 



ii8 A TOAD AND A ROSE 

to take up his winter quarters therein, a small boy had 
come for the last time to this flower-bed in which he had 
sat every fine day throughout the summer. A lady, his 
grown-up sister, used to sit at the window reading or 
sewing, and from time to time used to look at her brother. 
He was a little fellow of seven, with large eyes and a large 
head on a thin little body. He was very fond of his 
flower-bed. It was his because only he used to go to this 
deserted part of the garden, and he would sit in the sun- 
shine on a little old wooden seat standing on a dry, once- 
sanded path, which ran round the house itself, and along 
which servants used to go to shut the shutters, and he 
would commence to read the book he had brought with 
him. 

" Vasia, shall I throw you your ball V his sister would 
call out. " Perhaps you would like to play with it ?" 
" No, Masha, I am better like this with my book." 
And he would sit for a long time and read. Then, 
when he v/as tired of reading about Robinson Crusoes, 
savage countries, and pirates, he would leave his book 
open on the seat and clamber into the thick of his flower- 
bed. He knew every bush, almost every stalk in it. 
He would squat on his heels before the thick stem of 
som_e shrub covered with rough, whitish leaves, three 
times as tall as himself, and look for hours at the world 
of ants hurrying up to their cows — green insects — and 
note how delicately the ants tapped the thin pipes 
sticking out along the backs of these insects, and 
collected the pure drops of sweet liquid which is at the 
end of these pipes. He would v/atch the dung beetle 
busily and zealously rolling its ball somewhere. He would 
mark own a spider which, having woven his clever 
rainbow-like web, was sitting on guard for flies, or a 
lizard basking in the sun, with its blunt little jaws open, 
and its back shining with little green scales. One evening 
he actually saw a hedgehog. He could scarcely restrain 
his delight, and almost shouted and clapped his hands, 



A TOAD AND A ROSE 119 

but, afraid of frightening the prickly little '* beastie," 
he held his breath, and, with eyes dilated with joy, watched 
in ecstasies how, giving little grunts, it snified with its 
pig-shaped snout at the roots of the rose-bush, looking 
for worms, and how absurdly it went along with its fat 
little paws so ridiculously like a bear's. 

*' Vasia, dear, come along in now; it is getting damp !" 
his sister called out loudly. 

And the hedgehog, frightened at the sound of a human 
voice, quickly pulled his prickly shuba over his head 
and hind paws, turning himself into a ball. The boy 
quietly touched its prickles, and the little animal still 
further contracted, breathing deeply and hurriedly, like 
a little steam-engine. 

Afterwards the boy made friends with this hedgehog. 
He was such a delicate, quiet little fellow, that even 
the different animals seemed to understand and soon 
became accustomed to him. Imagine his joy when the 
hedgehog tasted some milk which the owner of the 
flower-bed brought out in a saucer. 

This spring the child could not go out to his favourite 
nook. His sister, as before, was sitting near him, no 
longer, however, at the window, but by his bed. She 
was reading a book, not for herself, but aloud to him, 
because it was difficult for him to raise his head from the 
white pillows, and difficult to hold even the smallest 
book in his little wasted hands. Besides which, his eyes 
quickly tired from reading. Most likely he would never 
again go to his favourite flower-bed. 

" Masha !" he suddenly murmured to his sister. 

*' What, dearie ?" 

" Is it nice in my garden now ? Are the roses out }" 

His sister bent down, kissed his white cheek, and fur- 
tively brushed away a tear. 

" Very nice, darling, very nice. And the roses are out. 
On Monday we will go out together there. The Doctor 
wijl let you go." 



120 A TOAD AND A ROSE 

The boy did not answer, and sighed heavily. His sister 
began to read aloud again to him. 

" That is enough. I am tired. I would rather sleep." 
His sister arranged his pillows and the white counter- 
pane, and he with difficulty turned over on to his side 
and kept silent. The sun shone through the window, 
which looked on to the flower-bed, and threw brilliant 
rays on to the bed and the little emaciated form lying on 
it, lighting up the pillows and coverlet, and gilding the 
closely-cropped hair and wasted neck of the child. 

The rose knew nothing of this. It had grown and 
become even more beautiful. The following day it would 
be in full blossom, and the third day begin to fade and 
shed its petals. This was the whole life of the rose. 
But even in this short life it was destined to experience 
no little trepidation and sorrow. 

The toad had noticed it. 

When he for the first time saw the flower with his evil 
and hideous eyes, something strange stirred his toad's 
heart. He could not tear himself away from the tender 
rose-petals, but all the time gazed and gazed at them. 
The rose attracted him immensely, and he felt a desire 
to be nearer such a fragrant and beautiful creation. But 
in order to express his tender feelings, he could think of 
nothing better to say than this : 

" Wait a bit," he croaked. " I will gobble 3^ou up." 

The rose shuddered. Why was she fastened to a stalk ? 
Birds were free, twittering around her as they hopped 
and flew from branch to branch. Sometimes they went 
far away, where the rose did not know. The butterflies 
were also free ! How she envied them ! If only she were 
one ! How she would take wing and fly from those wicked 
eyes, persecuting her with their fixed gaze. The rose 
did not know that toads sometimes waylay butterflies 
too. 

" I will gobble you up !" he repeated, all the time 
looking at the blossom. And the poor creation with 



A TOAD AND A ROSE 121 

horror saw how the disgusting, sticky, clammy paws 
fastened round the branches of the bush on which she 
was growing. However, it was difficult for the toad to 
climb. His smooth body could only crawl and jump 
easily in smooth places. After each effort to reach the 
rose, he would look up to where the blossom swung, and 
the rose froze with fright. 

" Oh, please," she prayed, " if only I may die another 
death !" 

But the toad still continued to clamber higher. How- 
ever, when he reached where the older branches ended, 
and the young ones began, he had to suffer somewhat. 
The smooth dark green bark of the rose-tree was all 
covered with hard, sharp thorns. The toad kept pricking 
his paws and belly with them, and fell to the ground 
covered with blood. He looked at the flower with hatred. 

" I have said I will gobble you up, and I will !" he 
repeated. 

The evening came. It was necessary to think of supper, 
and the wounded toad, dragging himself along, seized 
incautious insects coming within his reach. Hatred did 
not prevent him from filling his inside as usual. Further- 
more, his scratches were not very dangerous, and he 
decided, when he had had a rest, to try once again for 
the blossom which he hated but which so attracted him. 

He rested for quite a long time. The morning came, 
midday passed, and the rose had almost forgotten about 
her enemy. She was now in full blossom, and was the 
most beautiful creation in the flower-bed. But there 
was no one to come to admire her. The little owner of 
the plot lay motionless in his bed. His sister never left 
him, and did not appear at the window. Only the birds 
and butterflies hovered round the rose, and the bees, 
buzzing, came and sometimes sat down inside the bloom, 
flying away quite covered with the yellow dust.^^v^A 
nightingale flew down, perched on the rose-bush, and 
3an^ his song. How different from the wheezing of the 



122 A TOAD AND A ROSE 

toad ! The rose heard this song and was happy. It 
seemed to her that the nightingale was singing to her, 
and perhaps she was right. She did not see how her 
enemy was clambering up the branches. This time the 
toad was not sparing either his paws or belly. He was 
covered with blood, but bravely clambered up higher ; 
and in the middle of the resonant tender trills of the 
nightingale, the rose suddenly heard the familiar wheeze : 

" I said I would gobble you up — and I will gobble 
you up !" 

His toad's eyes gazed at the rose from a neighbouring 
branch. The evil-looking thing had only one more move 
to make to seize the blossom. The rose understood that 
the end was at hand. . . . 

* * * * * 

The little master had long lain motionless on his bed. 
His sister, sitting in the depths of an arm-chair, thought 
he v/as asleep. On her lap lay an open book, but she 
was not reading it. Gradually her tired head drooped ; 
the poor girl had not slept for several nights, had not 
left her sick brother, and now she was lightly dozing. 

" Masha !" he suddenly whispered. 

Her sister gave a slight jump. She had been dreaming 
that she was sitting at the window, that her little brother 
was playing as last year in his flower-bed, and had called 
her. Opening her eyes, and seeing him in bed, wasted 
and weak, she gave a deep sigh. 

"What, dearest?" 

" Masha, you told me that the roses are out. Can you 
get me . . . just one ?" 

" Of course I can, darling." 

She went to the window, and looked at the rose-bush. 
There was one blossom, and it was a magnificent rose. 

" There is a rose which seems to have come out pur- 
posely for you, and what a beauty ! Shall I get it, and 
put it here in a glass for you on the table ? Yes ?" 

" Yes, on the table. I want it." 



A TOAD AND A ROSE 123 

The girl took a pair of scissors, and went out into the 
garden. She had not been out of the house for a long 
time. The sun blinded her, and she felt dizzy from the 
fresh air. She got to the bush at the very instant the 
toad had meant to seize the flower. 

" Oh, how disgusting !" she cried, and seizing the 
branch shook it violently. The toad fell flat on its 
belly to the ground. In fury it sprang at the girl, but 
could not jump higher than the edge of her dress, and 
was immediately sent flying by the toe of her slipper. 
He did not dare to try a second time, only from afar saw 
how the girl carefully cut off the rose and took it into her 
brother's room. 

When the boy saw his sister with the rose in her hand, 
he smiled weakly for the first time for many a day, and 
with difficulty made a movement with his thin hand. 

" Give it to me," he whispered ; *' I want to smell it." 

His sister put the rose into his hand, and helped him to 
raise it to his face. He drev/ in the tender perfume, and, 
smiling happily, murmured : 

" Ah, hov/ good !" 

Then his little face became serious and motionless, and 
he became silent for ever. 

The rose, although she had been cut before she had 
begun to shed her petals, felt that it had not been for 
nothing. They placed her in a separate glass on the 
little coflin, on which were heaped whole wreaths and 
other flowers, but to tell the truth no one paid any atten- 
tion to them. But the young girl, when she placed the 
rose on the table, raised it to her lips and Icissed it. A 
tear fell from her cheek on to the flower, and this was the 
best incident in the v/hole life of the rose. When it 
began to fade they put the flower into an old thick book, 
and pressed it, and many years after gave it to me. That 
is why I know the whole history of it. 



VIII 

ATTALEA PRINCEPS 

In a certain large town there was a botanical garden, and 
in this garden an enormous greenhouse of glass and iron. 
It was a very handsome building. Graceful spiral columns 
supported the whole structure, and on them rested orna- 
mented arches interwoven by a whole web of iron frames, 
in which panes of glass were set. This greenhouse was 
especially beautiful when the setting sun was reflected 
redly against it. Then the v/hole building seemed alight. 
Crimson rays played and transfused just as in some 
gigantic, delicately-cut, precious stone. 

Through the thick, but transparent, panes could be 
discerned the captive plants. Notwithstanding the size 
of the greenhouse its inmates felt cramped for space. 
Roots interlaced and robbed each other of moisture and 
sustenance. The branches of the trees interfered with 
the enormous leaves of palms, rotted and broke them, and 
pressing against the iron framework themselves rotted 
and snapped. The gardeners w^ere constantly lopping off 
boughs and binding the palm-leaves with wires, so that 
they should not grow where they wished. But these 
efforts were of little avail. They needed space, their 
homeland and freedom. They were natives of hot climes, 
tender, luxurious creations. They remembered with 
longing the lands of their birth. However transparent 
the glass roof it was not the clear heavens. Occasionally 
in winter-time the panes became frosted, and then the 

124 



ATTALEA PRINCEPS 125 

greenhouse became quite dark. The wind would howl 
and beat against the iron framework, causing it to vibrate. 
The roof would be covered with drift-snow. The plants 
standing within would listen to the beating of the wind, 
and recall another wind, warm and moisture-laden, which 
used to give them life and health. And then they would 
long to feel its breath once more so that it might sway 
their boughs and play with their leaves. But in the 
greenhouse the air was motionless, excepting when winter 
storms shattered some of the glass panes ; then a cutting 
cold current, a veritable icicle, would burst in on them, 
leaving faded, shrivelled leaves in its wake. 

But the broken panes were always promptly mended. 
The Director of the gardens was a most learned man, v/ho 
allowed no disorder of any kind, notwithstanding that 
the greater part of his time was spent with a microscope 
in a special little glass sentry-box situated in the main 
greenhouse. 

Amongst the plants there was one palm taller and more 
beautiful than all the others. The Director, sitting in his 
sentry-box, called it in Latin " Attalea Princeps." But 
this name was not its native name. Botanists had 
evolved this name. Botanists did not know its native 
name, which was not the name painted in black on the 
white board fastened to the trunk of the palm. Once a 
native from that hot country visited the gardens. When 
he saw this palm he laughed because it reminded him of 
home. 

** Ah," said he, ** I know this tree," and he called it by 
its home name. 

" Excuse me," called out from his sentry-box the 
Director, who at that moment had carefully performed 
some operation with a razor on a little stalk, " you are 
mistaken. There is no such tree as you were pleased 
to mention. That palm is ' Attalea Princeps,' a native of 
Brazil." 

" Oh yes," said the Brazilian, ** I quite believe you. 



126 ATTALEA PRINCEPS 

I quite believe that botanists call it Attalea, but it has a 
proper native name." 

" The proper name is that which is given by science," 
replied the botanist frigidly, and he locked the door of 
his little sentry-box so that he should not be disturbed 
by people incapable even of understanding that if a man 
of science says something they must keep silence and 
listen. 

But the Brazilian long stood and gazed at the palm, and 
he became more and more sad. He recalled his native 
land, its sunny skies, its luxuriant forests with their 
wondrous denizens, its birds, its open prairies, and magic 
southern nights. And he recalled that he had never been 
really happy outside the land of his birth although he had 
toured the world. He touched the palm with his hand 
as if bidding it farewell, and left the garden. The next 
day he started off by steamer for " home." 

But the palm remained. Life became even more 
burdensome to it now, although before this incident it 
had been very grievous. It towered five sajenes above 
the tops of all the other plants, and those other plants 
did not love it. They were jealous, and considered the 
palm proud. This growth caused the palm nothing but 
sorrow. Apart from the fact that the other plants were 
all together and it was alone, the palm best of all remem- 
bered its native skies, and mourned for them more than 
any of the others, because it was the nearest of all to 
that which supplanted those skies — a disgusting glass 
roof. Through it the palm occasionally saw something 
blue ; it was the sky, strange and pale, yet for all that 
genuine blue sky. And when the plants talked amongst 
themselves Attalea always kept silent, fretted, and 
thought only of how good it would be to stand even under 
this pitiful heaven. 

" Tell me, please, will they soon water us ?" inquired 
a sago-palm which was very fond of moisture. ** I really 
think I shall wither up to-day." 



ATTALEA PRINCEPS 127 

'* Your words, my dear neighbour, astonish me," said 
a pot-bellied cactus. ''Do you really mean that the 
enormous quantity of water which they pour over you 
every day is insufficient ? Look at me ! They give me 
very little, but all the same I am fresh and full of sap." 

" We are not accustomed to be over-careful," replied 
the sago-palm. '' We cannot grow in such dry and vile 
soil as do certain cacti. We are not accustomed to live 
in hand-to-mouth style ; moreover, apart from all this, I 
may mention that you are requested not to make 
remarks." Having said this, the sago-palm took huff, 
and relapsed into silence. 

" As far as I am concerned," broke in a cinnamon, " I 
am practically satisfied with my position. Of course it 
is dull, but at least I am sure that no one will strip me." 

" But they used not to strip all of us," said a tree-fern. 
*' Of course, to many even this prison would appear 
Paradise after the miserable existence which they led 
when free." 

Thereupon the cinnamon, forgetting that they used to 
strip her, became offended, and started quarrelling. Some 
of the plants took her side and some took the part of the 
tree-fern, and a livety exchange of abuse commenced. 
They would undoubtedly have come to blows had they 
been able to move. 

*' Why are you quarrelling ?" asked Attalea. " Does 
it really help you in any way ? You only increase your 
unhappiness by being spiteful and losing your tempers. 
Far better to drop your quarrels and think. Listen to 
me ! Grow taller and wider, throw out branches, press 
against the iron framework and glass panes, and then our 
greenhouse will break up into bits, and we shall gain 
freedom. If only one branch presses against the glass 
they will, of course, cut it off, but what will they do with 
a hundred strong and daring trunks ? It is only necessary 
to be more friendly and to work together, and victory 
is ours 1" 



X 



128 ATTALEA PRINCEPS 

At first no one answered the palm. All kept silent, not 
knowing what to say. At last the sago-palm made up 
her mind. 

" All ridiculous nonsense !" she declared. 

** Ridiculous ! Nonsense !" the trees chimed in, and 
everybody at one and the same time began to prove to 
Attalea that its proposal was awful nonsense. 

" An impracticable dream !" they cried. " Bosh ! 
Absurd ! The framework is solid, and we shall never 
break it, and even if we did, what then ? Men would 
come with knives and axes, lop off our boughs, mend the 
framework, and all would go on as before. All that would 
happen is that they would cut whole branches off us. . . ." 

** Well, as you like !" replied Attalea. " Now I know 
what to do. I shall leave you all alone. Live how you 
like, growl at each other, argue about sips of water, and 
stay for ever under a glass dome. I alone will find a way 
for myself. I want to see the sky and sun direct, not 
through this glass and grating . . . and I will." 

And the palm proudly glanced with her green top at 
the forest of comrades displayed below. No one dared 
say anything, only the sago-palm quietly whispered to her 
neighbour : " Well, we shall see — we shall see how they 
will cut off her big head so that she does not get too 
conceited, Miss Proud !" 

The others, although they kept silent, were ajigr37 with 
Attalea for her haughty words. Only one little herb was 
not angry with the palm, and not offended with what she 
had said. It was the most pitiful, contemptible herb 
of all the plants in the greenhouse, pale and poor, a 
creeper with fading, thickish leaves. There was nothing 
remarkable about it ; and it was only used in the green- 
house to hide the bare soil. It had made itself the foot- 
stool of the big palm, and, listening to her, it seemed to 
the herb that Attalea was right. It did not know any- 
thing of Southern Nature, but it loved air and freedom. 
The greenhouse was a prison for it also. " If I, an insig- 



ATTALEA PRINCEPS 129 

nificanc faded herb, suffer so without my own grey sky, 
without my pale sun and cold rain, what must this beauti- 
ful and powerful palm suffer ?" So thought the herb, 
cUid it tenderly entwined itself around the palm, caressing 
her the while. " Why am I not a great tree ? I would 
listen to the advice. We would grow together, and 
together go out into freedom. Then the others would 
see that Attalea was right." But it was not a great tree, 
only a little faded herb. It could only entwine itself 
still more tenderly round the trunk of Attalea, and whisper 
words of love to her and wishes for success in her efforts. 

" Of course, with us it is nothing like so warm ; the 
sky is not so clear, the rain is not so luxurious as in your 
country, but for all that we, too, have a sky, a sun, a 
breeze. We have not such gorgeous plants as you and 
your companions are, v/ith such gigantic leaves and 
beautiful blossoms, but we also have very nice trees — • 
pines, firs, and birches. I am a little herb, and shall never 
attain freedom, but you are so great and strong ! Your 
trunk is solid, and it will not be very long before you 
grow up to the glass roof. You will break it, and get 
out into God's world. Then you will let me know if it 
is all as beautiful there still as it used to be. I shall be 
content with this." 

'* Why, little herb, do you not wish to come out with 
me ? My body is firm and strong ; lean on it, climb up 
me. It will mean nothing to me to carry you." 

" No ; where could I go ? Look at me ! See how faded 
I am, and how weak ! I cannot rise even to one of your 
branches. No, I am no mate for you. Grow and be 
happy ! Only when you go out into freedom I beg you 
sometimes to remember your little friend." 

Then the palm set to work to grow, and former visitors 
to the greenhouse were astonished when they came again 
at its gigantic growth. It grew taller and taUer with 
every month. The Director of the botanical gardens 
attributed this rapidity of growth to the excellent care 

9 



130 ATTALEA PRINCEPS 

bestowed on it, and was proud of the skill with which he 
managed the greenhouse and did his business. 

" Yes, look at Attalea Princeps," he would say ; " such 
well-grown specimens are rarely met with even in Brazil. 
We have applied all our knowledge to ensure that the 
plants shall develop in the greenhouse just as freely as 
when wild ; and it seems to me we have attained a certain 
measure of success." 

And with a satisfied air he would strike the solid tree 
with his walking-stick, and the blows would resound 
loudly through the greenhouse. The leaves of the palm 
used to shake from these blows, and, oh ! if only the palm 
could have groaned, what a howl of hate the Director 
would have heard. 

" He imagines that I am growing for his delectation,'* 
thought Attalea ; '' well, let him." 

And it grew, expending all its sap in order to extend 
itself, and thereby depriving its roots and leaves of 
moisture. Sometimes it seemed to the palm that the 
distance to the dome was not decreasing. Then it put 
forth all its strength, and the framework became closer 
and closer, and finally a young leaf touched the cold glass 
and iron. 

" Look ! look !" said the plants, ** where she has got 
to ! Does she really mean to do it ?" 

" How wonderfully she has grown !" said the tree-fern. 

** What is there wonderful in her having grown up ? 
There is nothing wonderful in that ! Now, if she knew 
how to swell herself out like me," said a portly sicada, 
with a trunk like a round O. " And what's the good of 
stretching herself out ? What will happen ? Nothing 
will happen. It's all the same. The bars are solid and 
firm, and the glass thick." 

Another month went by. Attalea continued to grow 
and raise herself. At last it was solidly against the 
framework. It could go no farther. Then the trunk 
began to bend. Its leafy top doubled up, and the cold 



ATTALEA PRINCEPS 131 

framework pierced into the tender young leaves, cut 
through them, and deformed them, but the palm was 
obstinate, and did not spare its leaves. Notwithstanding 
everything it continued to press against the bars, and the 
bars were already yielding although they were made out 
of strong iron. 

The little herb followed the struggle with attention, 
and almost swooned from excitement. 

*' Tell me," it said, " surely it is painful for you ? If 
the framework is so solid, would it not be better to give 
it up ?" it inquired of the palm. 

** Painful ? What does it matter whether it is painful 
or not when I wish to gain my freedom ? Did not you 
yourself encourage me ?" replied the palm. 

" Yes, yeS; but I did not know it would be so difficult. 
I am sorry for you. You are suffering so." 

" Silence, weak plant ! Do not pity me. I shall 
free myself or die !" 

And at that very moment there was a resounding 
crash. A thick iron bar had given way. Splinters of 
glass scattered around, and came ringing down. One 
splinter hit the Director's hat as he was leaving the 
greenhouse. 

** What was that ?" he exclaimed with a shudder, as he 
saw portions of glass flying through the air. He ran out 
of the greenhouse, and looked up at the roof. The green 
crown of the palm had straightened itself, and was 
proudly protruding above the glass dome. 

" Only this," she thought, " and is it only for this that 
I have suffered so much and tortured myself so long ? 
To attain which has been my greatest and highest aim !" 

It was mid-autumn when Attalea straightened her top 
through the opening made. It was sleeting, a mixture of 
rain and snow. The wind was driving along low grey 
masses of clouds. It seemed to the palm that they would 
seize her. The trees were already bare, and resembled 
shapeless skeletons. Only the pines and firs retained 



132 ATTALEA PRINCEPS 

their dark green tips. The trees looked at the palm 
sullenly. " You will be frozen," they seemed to say to 
her. " You do not know what frost is ; you will not be 
able to stand it. Why have you come out of your hot- 
house ?" 

And Attalea understood that all was ended for her. 
She became numbed with the cold. Would it not be 
better to return under the roof ? But she was no longer 
able to return. She would have to stand in the cold wind, 
feel its gusts and the biting touch of snowflakes. She 
would have to gaze at the drab sky, at beggarly Nature, 
at the unsavoury back-yard of the botanical garden, at 
the huge wearisome town looming through the fog, and 
wait until people below in the greenhouse decided what 
to do with her. 

The Director gave instructions to saw the palm down. 
" We could build a special dome over it," he said, " but 
w^ould it be for long ? It would again grow up and smash 
everything. Besides which it would cost far too much. 
Saw it down." 

They fastened ropes round the palm so that when it 
fell it should not destroy the walls of the greenhouse, and 
low down at its very roots they sawed it through. The 
little herb which had grown around the trunk did not 
wish to part from its friend, and also fell under the saw. 
When they dragged the palm out of the greenhouse, the 
torn stalks and leaves spoilt by the saw fell on to the 
stump that remained. 

" Take out all this rubbish and throw it away," said 
the Director. " It has already turned yellow, and the 
saw has quite spoilt it. We will plant something new 
here." 

I* One of the gardeners, by a clever stroke of a hook, 
pulled up the bunch of herb, placed it in a basket, carried 
it out, and threw it into the back-yard right on to the 
dead palm which was lying in the mud half buried by 
snow . 



IX 

" MAKE-BELIEVE '' 

(that which was not) 

One beautiful June day — and it was beautiful because 
there were twenty-eight degrees Reamur — one beautiful 
June day it was hot everywhere, but on a little plot in the 
garden, where there stood a mound of recently-mown 
hay, it was still hotter, because this spot was screened 
from any breeze by a thick, extremely thick, cherry 
orchard. Almost everything was sleeping. The men 
and women, having had their midday fill, were lying on 
their sides busily engaged in that profound meditation 
which generally follows the noonday meal. The birds 
were silent ; even numbers of the insects were hiding from 
the heat, and as regards the domestic animals, ** it goes 
without the saying.'* The cattle, large and small, were 
taking refuge under eaves. A dog which had dug a hole 
under a barn had betaken himself thither, and with half- 
closed eyes was stretched out, breathing spasmodicalty, 
and showing nearly half an arshin of crimson tongue. 
From time to time, no doubt from boredom caused by 
the stifling heat, he yawned to such an extent as to give 
little yelps. The pigs, mamma with thirteen children, had 
gone off to the river, and were lying embedded in greasy 
black ooze,^ showing^ only a row of sniffling, grunting 
snouts,'' long dirty ba1:ks, and huge flapping ears. Only 
the hens, fearless of the heat, were endeavouring to kill 

133 



134 "MAKE-BELIEVE" 

time by scratching up the dust opposite the kitchen door, 
in which there was not, as they well knew, even one single 
tiny grain, and things must have been going very badly 
with one of the cocks, because from time to time he 
assumed a ridiculous attitude, and at the top of his voice 
called out : " What a scandal !" 

We had come out of this plot where it was hottest of 
all, but a whole company of non-slumbering individuals 
were sitting there. That is to say, not all were sitting. 
The old bay horse, for instance, who, from fear for his sides 
of the whip wielded by the coachman, Anton, had been 
raking up the hay, being a horse, was quite unable to sit 
down. A caterpillar, the grub of some kind of butterfly, 
was resting on its belly rather than sitting ; however, it 
is not a matter of words. A small but very serious 
gathering had assembled under a cherry-tree — a snail, a 
beetle, a lizard, and the caterpillar already mentioned. 
A grasshopper also hopped up, and near by stood the old 
bay listening to the speeches with one bay ear lined 
inside with dark grey hairs turned towards them. There 
w^ere also two flies sitting on the bay horse. 

The gathering was politely, but quite excitedly, 
debating some question. As was proper, no one agreed 
with the other, as each highly prized the independence of 
his opinion and character. 

'* In my opinion," said the beetle, " a properly con- 
ducted animal should first and before all busy himself 
about his posterity. Life is labour for the future 
generation. He who wittingly carries out the obligations 
laid upon him by Nature stands upon sure ground. He 
knows his business, and whatever may happen will not 
be answerable for the future. Look at me ! Who works 
harder than I do ? Who for whole days rolls such a 
heavy ball — a ball made so ingeniously by me of manure 
for the great purpose of rendering it possible for future 
beetles like myself to be born ? I do not think anybody 
could say with so calm a conscience and so clean a heart 



" MAKE-BELIEVE " 135 

as I can when new beetles appear, * Yes, I have done all 
that I should or could have done in this world/ That is 
work." 

" Go to, brother, with your work !" said an ant, 
which, during the beetle's speech and notwithstanding 
the heat, had been dragging along a wonderful piece of 
dry stalk. It was resting for a moment, sitting on its 
four hind-legs, and with its two fore-legs was wiping the 
perspiration from its troubled face. *' I, for one, work 
more than you do ! You work for yourself, or at all 
events for your species. We are not all so happily situ- 
ated. You should try to drag beams along for the public, 
like I am doing. I myself do not know what compels 
me to work, exhausting my strength even in this awful 
heat. ... No one will say thank you for it. We unhappy 
toiling ants, we all work, and in what way is our life 
beautiful ? Fate. . . . 

" You, beetle, are too severe, and you, ant, are too 
pessimistic in your views of life," broke in the grasshopper. 
*' No, beetle, I love to chirrup and jump, and no con- 
science, nothing, torments or worries me. Moreover, you 
have not in any way touched the question put by Madame 
Lizard. She inquired, * W^hat is the world ?' and you 
talk about your manure-composed balls. It is even 
impolite. The world in my opinion is a very nice place, 
because there is young grass in it for us, and sun, and 
breezes. . . . Yes, and how large it is ! You here 
amongst these trees can have no conception of its size. 
When I am in a field I sometimes jump as high as I can, 
and I assure you I attain an enormous height. And from 
it I observe that the world has no limit." 

" True, true," affirmed the bay impressively, " but 
none of you, however, will ever see even one-hundredth 
part of what I have seen in my time. I regret you cannot 
understand what is meant by a verst. ... A verst 
from here is a village, Luparevka, where I go every day 
with a barrel for water. But they never feed me there. 



136 " MAKE-BELIEVE " 

Then in the other direction there are Ephimovka and 
KisHakovka. In Kishakovka there is a church with bells. 
Then farther on there is Sviato-Troiska, and then 
Bogoiavlensk. In Bogoiavlensk they always give me 
hay, only it is of poor quality. But, Nicolaieff ! that is a 
town for you — twenty-eight versts from here — there the 
hay is better, and they give you oats. However, I do 
not care about going there. Our master goes there 
sometimes, and orders the coachman to hurry up, and 
the coachman hits us in a most painful manner with the 
whip. . , . Then there is also Alexandrovka, Bielozerk, 
and Cherson, also a town . . . only how can you under- 
stand all this ! That is the world ; not all, we will admit, 
but nevertheless a considerable portion of it." 

The bay stopped speaking, but his lower lip continued 
to quiver as if he was still whispering something. This 
was due to old age. He was seventeen years old, which 
age for a horse is what seventy-seven years of age would 
be to a man. 

" I do not understand your sagacious, equine remarks, 
and will not bother to try and understand, but will accept 
them," said the snail. " As long as there is burdock for 
me it is sufficient. I have now been four days crawling 
on this plant, and I have not finished yet. And after this 
burdock is finished there is another, and in it I am sure 
a snail is sitting. And that's all. To jump is not 
necessary — that is all imagination and frivolity ; sit and 
eat the leaf on which you are resting. If I had not been 
lazy in crawling I should long ago have gone away from 
you and your arguments. One's head aches from them, 
and nothing more." 

" No ; allow me to tell you why," interrupted^the grass- 
hopper. " It is so pleasing to chirrup a little, especially 
on such entrancing subjects as infinity, etc. Of course, 
there are practical natures which only trouble about how 
best to fill their insides, such as you or this beautiful 
caterpillar." 



" MAKE-BELIEVE " 137 

'* Ah no, leave me in peace ; I implore you, leave me 
in peace, and out of the question ; do not bother about 
me," querulously cried the caterpillar. " I am doing 
this for the future life, only for the future life." 

" What sort of a future life ?" inquired the bay. 

" Can it be you do not know that after death I become 
a butterfly with multi-coloured wings ?" 

The bay, lizard, and snail did not know this, but the 
insects had a kind of glimmering knowledge on the subject. 
And all kept silent for a short time, because no one knew 
how to say anything to the point respecting the future 
life. 

" It is necessary to treat strong convictions with 
respect," chirruped the grasshopper at length. " Does 
no one wish to say anything more ? Perhaps you ladies ?*' 
and he turned to the flies. The elder of them answered : 

'* We cannot say that things have gone badly with us. 
We have just come from a room where the * gude wife ' 
was potting jam, and we settled under a lid and had our 
fill. We are satisfied. It is true our mamma got 
entangled in the jam, but what is to be done ? She had 
already lived a considerable time in the world, and we 
are satisfied." 

" Gentlemen," said the lizard, "I am of the opinion 
that you are all entirely correct ! But, on the other 
hand. . . ." 

But the lizard did not state what was on the other 
hand, because she felt something firmly press her tail 
into the ground. 

This was the coachman, Anton,. who, having awakened, 
had come for the bay. He had unwittingly placed his 
huge foot on the assemblage and squashed it. Only the 
flies escaped, and flew away to buzz of their deceased 
mother departed in the jam. The lizard escaped, but 
with a reduced tail. Anton took the bay by the forelock, 
and led him out of the garden to harness him up to the 
barrel, and go for water, and said to him, "Get on, you 



138 " MAKE-BELIEVE " 

old stump V to which the bay only replied by whispering 
something to himself. The lizard remained without a 
tail. True it is that after a while it grew again, but it 
always remained somewhat blunted and blackish in 
colour, and whenever she was asked how she had damaged 
her tail, she used to reply : 

" They tore it off because I dared to express my 
convictions." 

And she was quite correct. 



X 

OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 

** Undress !" said the doctor to Nikita, who was standing 
motionless, his eyes fixed on space. Nikita gave a start, 
and hurriedly commenced to unfasten his clothes. 

** A bit faster, friend !" cried the doctor impatiently ; 
" you see what a lot of you there are here." 

He pointed to the crowd in the room. 

" Turn round ! . . . Lost your senses ?" added by way 
of assistance the N. CO. who was taking the measurements. 

Nikita made even more haste, threw off his shirt and 
trousers, and stood in a state of nature. That there is 
nothing more beautiful than the human form has often 
been said by someone, somewhen, and somewhere, but if he 
who first made this pronouncement had lived in the 
seventies, and had seen the naked Nikita, he would 
certainly have retracted his words. 

Before the Military Service Commission there stood a 
little man with a disproportionately large stomach, a 
legacy from generations of ancestors who had never 
tasted pure bread — and long withered arms furnished 
with huge black knotted fists. His long awkward body 
was supporte d by very short bandy legs, and the whole 
figure was crowne d by a head . . . what a head it was ! 
The facial bones ha d been developed at the expense of 
the skull. His forehead was low and narrow, and his 
eyes, without brows or lashes, were little more than slits. 
On an enormous flat face forlornly sat a little round nose 

139 



140 OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 

which, although carried high, not only failed to give the 
face an t^xpression of haughtiness, but, on the contrary, 
made it look still more woeful. The mouth, in contrast 
to the nose, was enormous, and presented the appearance 
of a shapeless chasm, unadorned, notwithstanding 
Nikita's twenty years, by one single hair. Nikita stood 
with his head lowered, his shoulders forward, his arms 
hanging like whipcords by his sides, and his feet slightly 
turned in. 

" Ape !" said a rather stout, brisk-mannered Colonel, 
the military head of the Commission, leaning towards a 
spare young man with a handsome beard, a member of 
the Zemstvo Board, " a regular ape !" 

" A splendid confirmation of Darwin's theory," mur- 
mured the Zemstvo official, to which the Colonel loudly 
assented, and turned to the doctor. 

" Well, of course he is fit ! He is sound," replied the 
latter. 

" Only he will not go to the Guards, ha, ha, ha !" said 
the Colonel, laughing heartily, but not unkindly ; then, 
turning to Nikita, he added in a quiet tone : " Present 
yourself here in a fortnight's time. The next man, 
Par fen Semenoff, undress !" 

Nikita began slowly to dress himself ; his arms and legs 
were all over the place, and refused to do as bid. He 
kept whispering something to himself, but precisely what 
it was he himself probably did not know. He understood 
only that they had declared him fit for service, and that 
within a fortnight they would drive him from home for 
some years. Only this was in his head, and only this 
thought pierced its way through the maze and stupor in 
which he was enveloped. Finally, having successfully 
reduced his arms to obedience, he put on his belt, and 
left the room in which the medical examination was 
taking place. A little doubled-up old man of some sixty 
years of age met him in the passage. 

" Have they taken you ?" he asked. 



OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 141 

Nikita did not answer, and the old man knew that it 
was so, and did not ask any more questions. They went 
out into the street. It was a bright frosty day. A 
crowd of moujiks and babas were standing about 
waiting. Many were stamping their feet, and beating 
themselves with their arms to keep warm. The snow 
crunched under their bast shoes and boots, and steam 
was rising from their heads enveloped in shawls and from 
the little shaggy ponies which had brought their masters 
in from the surrounding villages. 

The smoke from the chimneys in the little town was 
rising in straight tall columns. 

*' Have they taken yours, Ivan ?" inquired an old 
man, a sturdy-looking moujik in a new tanned coat, a 
big sheepskin cap, and good boots. 

** They have taken him. Ilia Savelich, taken him. It 
was God's will to do us this injury." 
*' What win you do now ?" 

** What is there to do ? The will of God . . . there was 

one helper in the family, and now he's gone . . . and ..." 

Ivan made a gesture with his hand. 

** You should have adopted him sooner," said Ilia 

Savelich, with an air of conviction, ** then he would have 

been saved." 

** Who knew of it ? We knew nothing. He was 
instead of my son, and once again the only helper in 
the family. ... I thought that for this reason the 
gentleman would have allowed it. 'No, no,' he said, 
* impossible, because it is the law.' * How can it be the 
law, Your Excellency,' I said, * when his wife is in labour ? 
Besides, Your Excellency,' I said, * it is impossible for 
me, one . . .' * No, we know nothing of this,' he said, 
' and by the law as it stands he is an orphan, alone, and 
so he must serve. Who is to blame,' he said, * that he 
has a wife and son ? If he chose to marry when he was 

fifteen ' 

** I wanted to explain to him, but he would not listen, 



143 OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 

and got angry. ' Go, go away/ he said, ' there is plenty 
of work without you bothering me. . . .' What is to be 
done ? . . . God's will." 

" Yours was a quiet young fellow ?" 

" Yes, quiet and hard-working, and never have I heard 
a word in argument from him. Ilia, as I tell you , . . 
he has been better than a son to me. This is our grief. 
. . . God sent him, and God has taken him away. . . . 
Good-bye, Ilia Savelich ; and yours, will they look at 
him soon ?" 

" That depends on the authorities . . . only they cannot 
call my son fit. He is a cripple." 

" That's your happiness. Ilia Savelich." 

*' Eh, but what are you saying ! Are you not afraid 
to say that ? Eh, eh, ' happiness ' that a son was born 
lame." 

** Well, Ilia Savelich, it has turned out for the better ; 
he will always be at home. Good-bye, and good health 
to you." 

" Good-bye, friend . . . and what about that little loan ? 
Have you forgotten it ?" 

" Impossible, Ilia Savelich . . . that is — cannot be 
done. It is only a trifle ; you can wait, and we are in 
such trouble. ..." 

'* All right ! all right ! we will talk about it another 
time. Good-bye, Ivan Petrovich." 

" Good-bye, Ilia Savelich, good health to you." 

Nikita at this moment untied the horse from the post 
to which it was fastened, and he, wath his adopted father, 
settled themselves in the sleigh, and started off. It was 
fifteen versts to their village. The little pony went along 
bravely, throwing up balls of snow with his hoofs, which 
broke up in their flight, falling in showers on Nikita. 
But Nikita lay silent near his father, wrapped up in his 
sheepskin, without saying a word. Twice the old man 
spoke to him, but received no reply. He seemed to have 
become petrified, and gazed fixedly at the snow, as if 



OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 143 

seeking in it some point forgotten by him in the rooms 
of the Commission. 

Having arrived, they went straight into the hut and 
gave the news. The family, which consisted, in addition 
to the men, of three women and three children of Ivan 
Petrovich's son who had died last year, commenced to 
wail. 

Nikita's wife, Praskovia, collapsed. The women cried 
for a whole week. How this week passed for Nikita no 
one knows, because the whole time he maintained a rigid 
silence, his face preserving the same set expression of 
submissive despair. 

Eventually it all came to an end. Ivan took the 
recruit to the town, and handed him over at the mustering- 
place. Two days later Nikita, one of a party of recruits, 
marched over the snowdrifts along the main road to the 
provincial capital where the regiment to which he had 
been drafted was quartered. He was clothed in a new 
short half-shuba, in trousers of thick black material, 
new valenkies, a cap, and mitts. In his wallet, 
besides two changes of linen and some pies, there lay a 
rouble note carefully wrapped up in a handkerchief. 
Nikita was indebted for all this to his adopted father, 
Ivan Petrovich, who had implored Ilia Savelich to make 
him a further advance so as to equip Nikita for service. 
***** 

Nikita proved to be a very poor recruit. The in- 
structor to whom he was handed over for his preliminary 
drills was in despair. Notwithstanding every con- 
ceivable explanation on his part to Nikita, amongst 
which cuffs and blows played a certain role, his pupil 
could not even entirely master the not difficult problem 
of forming fours. The figure of Nikita dressed up in 
uniform presented a sorry spectacle. In front of him 
projected his stomach, and in his efforts to draw it in he 
threw out his chest, leaning forward with his whole body 
at an angle which threatened to bring him down face 



144 OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 

forwards to the ground. Knock him about as they would, 
the authorities could not make out of Nikita even a most 
indifferent front-rank man. During company drill his 
Captain, having abused Nikita, would " tell off " the 
section N.C.O., who would pass it on to Nikita. The 
punishment awarded consisted of extra " fatigues." Soon, 
however, the N.C.O. guessed that this was no punishment, 
but a pleasure to Nikita. He was a wonderful worker, 
and the duties of carrying wood and water, attending the 
stores, but chiefly keeping the barrack quarters clean — i.e., 
endless swabbing the floors with a damp mop — were to his 
liking. At any rate, whilst performing this work he was 
not obliged to think how not to get out of step, and not 
to go left when the command was " Right turn," and, 
besides, he felt quite safe from terrifying questions on 
that wonderful science known in soldier's language as 
" literature," such as : " What is a soldier ?" '* What is a 
colour ?" 

Nikita knew quite well what were colours. He was 
prepared with all possible zeal to carry out his obhgations 
and duties as a soldier, and would probably have given 
his life in defence of the colours, but to define them 
verbatim as set forth in the book was beyond him. 

" The colour is . . . which colour, colour ..." he used 
to murmur, endeavouring as far as possible to straighten 
out his clumsy body, poking out his chin, and screwing 
up his eyes bare of all lashes. 

" Fool !" would cry the consumptive N.C.O. giving 
the lesson. *' Am I to teach you your alphabet ? 
How much longer am I to be tormented with you ? 
You idiot ! you clodhopper ! Tfy ! . . . How many 
times must I repeat it to you ? Now say it after me — 
the colour is a sacred banner. ..." 

Nikita could not repeat even these few words. The 
threatening aspect of the N.C.O. and his shouting had a 
stupefying effect on him. There was a ringing in his 
ears, stars were dancing before his eyes. He heard 



OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 145 

nothing of the definition of a colour ; his hps did not 
move. He stood silent. 

" Go on ; the D take you ! The colour is a sacred 

banner." 

** The colour . . ." 

*'Well? . . ." 

"... Banner . . ." continued Nikita in a trembling 
voice, with tears in his eyes. 

" Is a sacred banner !" yelled the maddened N.C.O. 

" Sacred which. ..." 

Then the N.C.O. would commence to rush from corner 
to corner, spitting and swearing, whilst Nikita remained 
perfectly still in the same place and in the same attitude, 
following his infuriated superior with his eyes. He v/as 
not upset by the abuse and epithets showered on him, 
but only grieved whole-heartedly at his inability to do 
his superior's bidding. 

" Three days' extra duty !" the worn-out N.C.O. would 
gasp in a voice rendered faint and hoarse from shouting, 
and Nikita would thank God to be freed at least for a 
time from the hated " literature " and drill. 

When it was noticed that the punishment awarded 
Nikita not only did not distress him, but even afforded 
him real pleasure, Nikita was placed under arrest. 
Finally, having exhausted all means for the reformation 
of the unfortunate man, the authorities washed their 
hands of him. 

" Nothing can be done with Ivanoff," was the almost 
daily complaint of the Company Sergeant-Ma j or, when 
making his morning report to the Company Commander. 

" About Ivanoff ? . . . Oh yes. Let me see, what is 
it he is doing ?" the Captain would ask as he sat in his 
dressing-gown, smoking a cigarette between the intervals 
of sipping tea out of a glass in an electro-plated holder. 

*' Nothing, Your Excellency ; he is not doing anything. 
As a man he is quiet, only he cannot understand 
anything." 

10 



146 OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 

" Try something," the Captain would say meditatively, 
blowing rings of tobacco smoke. 

" We have tried, Your Excellency, but nothing comes 
of it." 

" Well ! W^hat can I do with him ? You will agree 
at least that I am but a mortal, and cannot work miracles. 
Eh ? Well, idiot, do something with him . . . and get out !" 

Eventually the Company Commander became bored 
with hearing daily complaints from the Sergeant-Ma j or 
about Nikita. 

" Stop talking about your Ivanoff !" he shouted. 
" Don't try to teach him ; give him up. Do what you 
like with him, only don't bring him up before me." 

The Company Sergeant-Major tried to arrange a 
transfer of Nikita Ivanoff to the '* employed " men's 
Company, but there were already plenty of " employed " 
men. An attempt to make him an officer's servant was 
equally unsuccessful, as all the officers already had 
servants. Then Nikita was saddled with all the dirty 
work of the battalion, and all attempts to make him a 
soldier were abandoned. Thus he lived for a year until 
the arrival of a newly-appointed subaltern officer, Second 
Lieutenant Stebelkoff. 

Nikita was told off as " permanent orderly " to him — 
in plain language, to be his soldier-servant. 

* * ¥: * ¥f 

Alexander Michailovich Stebelkoff, Nikita's new master, 
was a very kind young fellow of average height, with a 
shaven chin and a magnificently pointed moustache, 
which he from time to time, not without a feeling of pride, 
used to stroke lightly with his left hand. He had just 
passed through the cadet school without having displayed 
during his time there any special taste for sciences, but 
had learnt his drill to perfection. He was thoroughly 
happy in his present position. The two years spent at the 
school on Government fare, under the strict supervision 
of the authorities, the entire absence of friends to whom 



OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 147 

he could have gone on holidays in search of relaxation 
from the barrack life of the school, and not possessed of 
a kopeck of private money with which he could have 
amused himself, had all wearied him, and now, as an 
officer receiving forty roubles a month pay, commanding 
a half-company of soldiers, and a soldier-servant at his 
absolute disposal, he for the time at least wanted nothing 
more. " Good, very good," he thought, as he went to 
sleep, and again awaking he first of all remembered he was 
no longer a cadet, but an officer, that there was no longer 
need to jump out of bed on the instant and dress, under 
fear of the orderly-officer, but that he could roll over again, 
make himself snug, and smoke a cigarette. 

*' Nikita !" he would call, and Nikita, in a faded rose- 
coloured cotton shirt, black cloth trousers, and a pair of 
old big rubber galoshes (goodness knows how he had 
become possessed of them) on his bare feet, would appear 
at the door leading from the single room of Stebelkoff's 
flat into the passage. 

"Cold to-day?" 

" I cannot tell you, Your Excellency," Nikita would 
reply timidly. 

" Go and look ! and come and tell me !" 

Otf would go Nikita into the frost, and in the course of 
a minute reappear. 

" Very cold, sir." 

" Is there a wind ?" 

" I cannot tell you, Your Excellency." 

" Ass ! Why can't you tell ? Surely you were in the 
courtyard ?" 

** In the yard there is none, sir." 

" None. ... Go out into the street." 

Nikita would go out into the street, and return with 
the information that there was a ** healthy " wind. 

*' No parade, sir, so Sidoroff says," he would venture 
to add. 

" All right ; clear out !" and Alexander Michailovich 



148 OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 

would then turn over in his bunk, pull the warm 
blanket over him, and, half dozing, would commence to 
think to the accompaniment of the crackling of brightl}^- 
burning wood in the stove which had been lit by Nikita. 
Cadet life appeared to him as an unpleasant dream, 
although it was not so long ago that the drum used to 
beat right at his ear, and he would have to jump out of 
bed shivering from the cold. . . . These recollections 
would awake others, also not particularly pleasing. 
Poverty, and the squalid surroundings and life of a small 
official, a habitually sullen mother, a tall lean woman, 
with a severe expression on her thin face which seemed a 
perpetual defiance to anyone bold enough to insult her. 
A crowd of brothers and sisters ; the constant quarrels 
between them. His mother's railings against fate, an 
everlasting exchange of abuse between his parents when- 
ever his father came home drunk. The school in which, 
in spite of all efforts, it was so difficult to learn. The 
teasing of his schoolmates, who for some unknov/n reason 
had bestowed on him the extremely insulting nickname 
of the " herring." His failure in the examination on 
Russian. The depressing, humiliating scene when he was 
turned out of the school in consequence, and arrived 
home 1 in tears. His father was asleep on the chintz- 
covered sofa drunk. His mother was fussing about the 
kitchen at the stove preparing dinner. Seeing Sasha in 
tears with his books, she guessed what had happened, 
and after showering abuse on him had rushed off to his 
father, awakened him, and explained what had happened, 
and his father had thereupon beaten him. 

Sasha was then fifteen years old. Two years later he 
took up military service as a volunteer, and at twenty 
years of age was already an independent man, a Second 
Lieutenant in an infantry regiment of the Line. . . . 

" It is very nice," he would reflect, as he lay under the 
blanket. ... " This evening at the Club there is to be 
a dance." 



OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 149 

A-nd Alexander Michailovich would picture to himself 
the hall of the Officers' Club brilliantly lighted up, the 
heat, and music, and young girls in long rows seated 
along the wall, only waiting for some young ofhcer to 
invite them to take a few turns in a waltz. And Stebelkoif 
with a click of his heels (What a pity, dash it ! he sighed, 
he could not wear spurs), and neatly bending before the 
Major's pretty daughter, with a graceful sweep of his hand 
would say " Permettez," and the Major's daughter, placing 
her little hand on his shoulder near his epaulette, they 
would glide away. . . . 

" Yes, that's not being a ' herring ' — how idiotic, and 
why a * herring ' ? Those who attend the first course at 
the University are much more like herrings, going there 
and starving, but I . . . And why is it absolutely neces- 
sary to go to the University ? We will allow that a 
magistrate or doctor receives a bigger salary than my 
pay, but think how long it takes to get it ! . . . and all 
this time one must live at one's own expense. But 
with us, once you get into the school everything goes of 
itself. If one serves well it is possible to become a 
General. . . . Ah, then I would give it . . ." Alexander 
Michailovich did not say to whom or what he would give, 
for other reminiscences than of " herrings " at this instance 
flashed into his mind. 

** Nikita," he called, '' have we any tea ?" 

" None at all. Your Excellency — all used." 

" Go out and buy some ;" and then he would draw his 
new purse from under the pillow, and give Nikita the 
money, and whilst Nikita is out getting the tea Alexander 
Michailovich continues his reveries, but before Nikita 
returns has succeeded in going to sleep again. 

** Sir ! Your Excellency !" whispers Nikita. 

" What ? Eh ? Have you got the tea ? All right, I 
will get up in a moment. . . . Help me dress." 

Alexander Michailovich, both at home and at the 
school, had always dressed himself (excepting, of course. 



150 OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 

during his babyhood), but having become possessed of a 
manservant, he in two weeks had absolutely forgotten 
how to put on or take off his clothes. Nikita pulls on his 
master's socks and boots, helps him with his trousers, 
throws around his master's shoulders the summer military 
cloak which does duty as a dressing-gown. And Alex- 
ander Michailovich, without washing, sits down to drink 
his morning tea. 

They bring him the lithographed regimental orders, and 
Stebelkoff, reading it from beginning to end, notes with 
satisfaction that his turn for " guard " is still far off. 
" But what is this novelty ?" he wonders as he reads : 

** With a view to maintaining the standard of know- 
ledge amongst officers of the regiment, Captain Ermolin 
and Lieutenant Petroff (2nd) are detailed from the com- 
mencement of next week to lecture, the former on tactics, 
the latter on fortification. Further special notice will 
be given as to the hours for these lectures, which will take 
place in the Officers' Club." 

" Well ! Goodness knows, I suppose I shall have to 
go and listen," thinks Alexander Michailovich. " They 
were boring enough at the school, and they will not say 
anything new, but will only read from the old handbooks." 

Having read through the Orders and finished his tea, 
Alexander Michailovich orders Nikita to clear away the 
samovar, and settles himself down to roll cigarettes, 
continuing the while his never-ending cogitations about 
his past, present, and future, which last promises him, 
if not the embonpoint of a General, at least the sub- 
stantial epaulettes of a Staff -Officer. And when all the 
cigarettes have been rolled he lies on his bed, and reads 
the back numbers of the Niva, looking at the already 
familiar pictures, and not missing a line of the text. 
Finally, from long lying and reading, his head begins to 
get dizzy. 

" Nikita !" he shouts. 

Nikita jumps up from the cloak stretched out on the 



OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 151 

floor in the passage near the stove, which serves him as a 
bed, and rushes to the Bar in. 

" See what time it is ! . . . No, better bring me my 
watch." 

Nikita gingerly takes up a silver watch, with its chain 
of new gold, from the table, and, having handed it to his 
master again, repairs into the passage to his cloak. 

*' Half-past one . . . about time to dine," thinks 
Stebelkoff, winding up the watch with a brass key which 
he had just purchased, and in the head of which was 
inserted a little photographic picture visible in magnified 
shape if held up to the light. Alexander Michailovich 
looks at the picture, screwing up his left eye, and smiles. 
" What extraordinarily amusing things they make nowa- 
days, to be sure," he reflects, " and how clever. . . . 
However, I must be going. . . . Nikita !" he shouts. 

Nikita appears. 

" I want to wash." 

Nikita brings an unpainted deal stool into the room, 
and places a wash - hand basin on it. Alexander 
Michailovich begins to wash. The icy cold water scarcely 
touches his hands before he yells out. 

" How many times have I told you, you clown, to leave 
the water in the room over-night. This water is cold 
enough to freeze one's face. . . . Idiot !" 

Nikita, fully conscious of the enormity of his crime, 
remains silent, and continues busily to pour water into 
the enraged gentleman's palms. 

" Have you brushed my tunic ?" 

" Yes, Your Excellency, I have brushed it," replies 
Nikita, as he gives the Barin a new tunic, with glisten- 
ing gold shoulder-straps, decorated with a numeral and 
one star, which had been hanging on the back of a chair. 

Before putting it on Alexander Michailovich attentively 
inspects the dark green cloth, and finds a piece of fluff 
on it. 

" What's this ? Is this what you call cleaning ? Is 



152 OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 

this the way you do your work ? Clear out, you fool, and 
brush it again." 

Nikita goes out into the passage, and begins to extract 
apparently from the brush, with the aid of the tunic, 
sounds known as " shooing." Stebelkoff, with the aid 
of a folding mirror in a yellow wooden frame and pommade 
hongroise, begins to bring his moustaches to the greatest 
possible perfection. Finally they are reduced to order, 
but the noise in the passage continues. 

'* Here, give me that tunic ; you will go on cleaning it 
until the crack of doom. ... I am already late through 
you, ass ! . . ." 

Then, carefully buttoning up his coat, fastening on his 
sword, and putting on his galoshes, Alexander Michailovich 
goes out into the street, stamping with his feet along the 
frozen boards of the path. 

The rest of the day passes in dining, reading the Russki 
Invalid, and in conversation with his brother-officers 
about the Service, promotion, and pay. In the evening 
Alexander Michailovich goes to the Club, and flashes in 
the " whirl of a waltz " with the Major's daughter. He 
returns home late, tired, and a little excited from several 
drinks taken during the evening, but contented. . . . 
Life was varied only by drill, guards, camp in the summer, 
sometimes manoeuvres, and occasionally by lectures on 
fortification and tactics which it was impossible to avoid. 
And so the years roll on, leaving no traces on Stebelkoff, 
save that the colour of his face changes and signs of 
baldness become manifest, whilst instead of one star on 
the shoulder-straps there appear two, three, and then 
four stars. . . . 

What does Nikita do all this time ? Nikita lies for the 
most part on his cloak near the stove, jumping up every 
few minutes in answer to the never-ending demands of the 
Barin. In the morning he has quite a lot to do. There 
is the stove to be lighted, the samovar prepared, 
water brought, boots and uniform to be cleaned, the 



OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 153 

Barin to be dressed when he gets up, and the room to 
be swept and tidied. (It is true this last does not take 
up much time, as the whole furniture consists only of a 
bed, a table, three chairs, a cupboard, and a portmanteau.) 
Nevertheless all this is work for Nikita. When his master 
has gone out there commences a long, long day to be 
spent in the compulsory doing of nothing, broken only by 
a journey to the barracks for his dinner from the Company 
kitchen. Whilst living in barracks Nikita ha,d learnt a 
little cobbling — how to patch and re-sole boots, and to 
piece heels. When he was transferred to Stebelkoff he 
thought of continuing his trade, and used to hide the bag 
containing his work behind the door in the passage as 
soon as there was a knock at the door. The Barin 
having noticed for several days that there was a strong 
smell of leather in the passage, sought out the cause, and 
gave Nikita a severe " head-washing," after which he 
ordered that it " must never occur again." Then there 
was nothing left for Nikita to do but to lie on his cloak 
and think. And he used to lie there thinking through 
whole evenings, dozing off and on until a knock at the 
door notified his master's return. Then Nikita would 
undress Alexander Michailovich, and soon afterwards the 
little flat would be buried in darkness — ofhcer and servant 
both asleep. 

The wind drones and howls, and the snow beats in 
whirling flakes against the window, representing to the 
sleeping Stebelkoff the noise of baU-room music. In his 
sleep he sees a brilliantly-lighted hall such as he had 
hitherto never seen, full of smartly-dressed strangers. 
However, he does not feel at all confused, but, on the 
contrary, the hero of the evening. There are people he 
knows in the hall, too. Their attitude towards him is 
not as it has been usually, but is one of enthusiasm. His 
Colonel, instead of giving him the usual two fingers, 
presses his hand warmly in his own fat fist. Major 
Khlobuschin, who had always looked somewhat askance 



154 OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 

at Stebelkoff' s wooing of his daughter, himself now leads 
her to him, submissively bowing. What he had done 
or for what they are praising him he does not know, 
but that he had done something was evident. Glancing 
at his shoulders, he sees on them a General's epaulettes. 
The music resounds, the couples glide off, and he, too, 
floats away somewhere ever farther and farther, ever 
higher and higher. The brilliantly-lighted hall becomes 
a mere speck of distant light. Around him are a great 
number of persons in various uniforms. They are all 
asking his orders. He does not know about what they 
are asking, but gives his instructions. Orderlies gallop 
to and from him. The distant roar of cannon is heard. 
There is the clash of martial music as regiment after 
regiment marches past him. All are moving forward. 
The guns sound closer and closer, and Stebelkoff becomes 
terrified ; " They are killing people," he thinks. And an 
awful yell resounds from every side. Terrible, monstrous, 
and ferocious beings, such as he had never seen anywhere, 
rush at him. They come ever closer ; Stebelkoff's heart 
contracts with the indescribable fear experienced only in 
dreams, and he shouts " Nikita !" 

The wind drones and howls, and the snow beats in 
whirling flakes against the window, and it seems to the 
sleeping Nikita a real wind and real bad weather. He 
dreams he is lying in his own hut alone. No one is near 
him — no wife, no father — not one of his belongings. He 
does not know how he got home, and is afraid he must have 
deserted. He is certain that they are after him, and feels 
that they are near, and wishes to run away and hide 
somewhere, but is unable to move a limb. Then he cries 
out, and the whole hut is filled with people, all his village 
acquaintances, but their faces are all extraordinary. 
" How do you do, Nikita ?" they say to him. " All yours, 
my friend, have gone ! God has taken them all. All 
have died. There they are ; look there !" and Nikita 
sees his whole family in a crowd together — Ivan, his wife, 



OFFICER AND SOLDIER-SERVANT 155 

and Aunt Praskovia, and the children. And he under- 
stands that, although they are all standing together, they 
are all dead, and that all his village friends are dead. 
That is why they look so odd, and are laughing so 
strangely. They come towards him, and seize hold ®f 
him, but he breaks away from them, and runs over the 
snowdrifts, stumbling and falling. The dead are no 
longer pursuing him, but Lieutenant Stebelkoff, with 
soldiers. And he runs on and on, and the Lieutenant 
keeps crying out to him : " Nikita ! Nikita ! Nikita !" 

" Nikita !" shouts out Stebelkoff in reality, and Nikita, 
awaking, jumps up, and gropes his way into the room in 
his bare feet. 

" What's the matter with you ? D you ! Are 

you making a fool of me, or what ? How many times 
have I told you to place some matches near me ? You 
sleep like a lout ! I have been calling you for half an 
hour. Give me some matches." 

The sleepy Nikita fumbles about the table and window 
until he finds the matches, then lights a candle stuck in a 
brass candlestick, which is turning green with verdigris, 
and, all the time blinking his eyes, gives it to his master. 
Alexander Michailovich smokes a cigarette, and within a 
quarter of an hour's time officer and soldier-servant are 
again wrapped in deep slumber. 



XI 
NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 



I HAVE long wanted to commence my memoirs. A 
strange reason is compelling me to take up a pen. Some 
write their memoirs because there is much in them historic- 
ally interesting, others because they wish by so doing to 
live the happy days of their youth once more, and yet 
others in order to sneer at and traduce persons long since 
dead, and to justify themselves before long-forgotten 
accusations. In my case it is not any one of these reasons. 
I am still young. I have not made history, nor have I 
seen how it is made. There is no reason for people to 
criticize me, and I have nothing concerning which I wish 
to justify myself. Once again to experience happiness ? 
My happiness was so short-lived and its finale so terrible 
that to recall it does not afford me pleasure ... no, far 
from it. 

Why, then, does an unknown voice keep whispering of 
that happiness in my ear ? Why, when I awake at night, 
do familiar scenes and forms pass before me in the 
darkness ? And why, w^hen one pale form appears, does 
his face blaze, his hands clench, and terror and fury arrest 
his breathing as on that day when I stood face to face 
with my mortal enemy ? 

I cannot rid myself of these recollections, and a strange 
thought has come into my head. Perhaps if I commit 

156 



NADEJDA iNICOLAIEVNA 157 

these recollections to paper I shall in this way settle 
accounts and finish with them. . . . Perhaps they will 
leave me, and allow me to die in peac^j. This is the 
strange reason which is compelling me to take up a pen. 
Perhaps somebody will read this diary, perhaps not ; I 
care little. Therefore I do not apologize to any future 
readers either as regards style or the choice of subject 
upon which I am writing, a subject not in the least 
interesting to people accustomed to busy themselves in 
questions, if not of world-wide, at least of public interest. 
It is true, however, that I want one person to read these 
lines, but she will not condemn me. All that concerns 
me is precious to her. This person is my cousin. 

Why to-day is she so long in coming ? It is already 
three months since I came to myself after that day. The 
first face I saw was Sonia's. And from that time she has 
spent every evening with me. It has become a kind of 
duty v/ith her. She sits by my bed or beside a big arm- 
chair when I am strong enough to sit up, talks with me, 
and reads aloud from the newspapers or from books. 
She is much distressed because I leave it to her, and am 
indifferent as to what she reads. 

" Look here, Andrei, there is a new story in the 
Viestnik Europa ca'led ' She thought it v/as other- 
wise.' " 

" Very good, deai, we will have ' She thought it was 
otherwise.' " 

" It is a story by Mrs. Hay." 

And she commenced to read a long history of a Mr. 
Skripple and a Miss Gordon. After the first two pages 
she turned her big kind eyes on me, and said : "It is not 
a long one ; the Viestnik always cuts the stories short." 

*' All right, I will listen." 

And as she resumes her reading of the narrative con- 
cocted by Mrs. Hay, I look at her face bent over the book, 
and forget to listen to the edifying story. Sometimes in 
those places where, according to Mrs. Hay, I should laugh 



158 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

bitter tears choke me. Then she drops the book, and, 
looking at me in a searching, but timid, manner, places- 
her hand on m y forehead, and says : 

" Andrei darling, again ! Now, my dear boy, that 
will do. Don'\!: cry. It will all pass by and be for- 
gotten ..." ju^t as a mother comforts a little child who 
has bumped and hurt his forehead. But my hurt will 
only pass away with my life, which, I feel, is little by 
little ebbing from my body ; nevertheless, I calm down. 

Oh, my darling cousin ! How I appreciate your 
womanly caresses ! May God bless you, and allow the 
black pages in the beginning of your life — pages on which 
my name is written — to be replaced by a radiant narrative 
of happiness ! Only grant that this narrative will not 
resemble Mrs. Hay's tiresome story. 

A ring ! At last ! She has come, and will bring an 
atmosphere of freshness into my dark and stifling room, 
will break its silence with her quiet tender talk, and will 
lighten it with her beauty. 



II 

I do not remember my mother, and my father died 
when I was fourteen years old. My guardian, a distant 
relation, packed me off to one of the Petersburg gym- 
nasia, where, after four years, I completed my studies 
and was absolutely free. My guardian, a man immersed 
in his own numerous affairs, confined his solicitude for 
me to an allowance sufficient, in his opinion, to keep me 
from want. It was not a very handsome income, but it 
entirely freed me from care as to earning my crust of 
bread, and allowed me to choose my path of life. 

The choice had long been made. For four years I had 
loved before all else in the world to play with paints and 
pencils, and at the end of my term at the gymnasium I 
already drew quite well, so I had no difficulty in entering 
the Academy of Arts. 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 159 

Had I talent ? Now, when I shall never again stretch 
a canvas, I may without bias look upon myself as an 
artist. Yes, I had talent. And I say this not because of 
the criticisms of comrades and experts, not because I 
passed so quickly through the Academy, but because of 
the feeling which was in me, which made itself felt every 
time I commenced to work. No one who is not an artist 
can experience the painful but delicious excitement every 
time one approaches a new canvas for the first time. No 
one but an artist can experience the oblivion to all around 
when the soul is engrossed in. . . . Yes, I had talent, 
and I should have become no ordinary artist. 

There they are, hanging on the walls — my canvases, 
studies, and exercises, and unfinished pictures. And 
there she is. .. . I must ask my cousin to take her away 
into another room. Or, no — I must have it hung exactly 
at the foot of my bed, so that she may all the time look 
at me with her sad glance, as if foreseeing execution. In 
a dark blue dress, with a dainty white cap, and a large 
tricoloured cockade on one side of it, and with her dark 
chestnut locks escaping from under its white frill in thick 
waves, she gazes at me as if alive. Oh, Charlotte, Char- 
lotte ! Ought I to bless or curse the hour when the 
thought first entered my head to paint you ? 

Bezsonow was always against it. When I first told 
him of my intention, he shrugged his shoulders, and 
smiled in a dissatisfied manner. 

'* You are mad people, you Russian painters," said he. 
" Have you so little of your own about which to paint ? 
Charlotte Corday ! What have you got to do with Char- 
lotte ? Can you really transfer yourself to that time 
and those surroundings ? 

Perhaps he was right. . . . Only, the figure of the 
French heroine so possessed me that I could not but take 
it for a picture. I decided to paint her full length, alone 
standing square before the spectators, with her eyes gazing 
ahead of her. She had already decided on her deed- 



i6o NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

crime, but it is only discernible as yet on her face. The 
hand which will deal the fatal blow at present hangs help- 
lessly, and shows up delicately in its whiteness against the 
dark blue cloth of her dress. A lace cape, fastened cross- 
ways, tints the delicate neck, along which to-morrow a 
line of blood will pass. ... I remember how her image 
shaped itself in my mind. ... I read her history in a 
sentimental and perhaps untruthful book by Lamartine ; 
from out of the false pathos of the garrulous Frenchman, 
delighting in his verbosity and style, the clean figure of the 
girl — a fanatic for the good cause — stood out in clear 
relief. I read over and over again all that I could get 
hold of about her, studied her portraits, and decided to 
paint a picture. 

The first picture, like a first love, takes entire possession 
of one. I carried about mentally the figure which I had 
formed ; I thought out the minutest details, and reached 
such a stage that, by closing my eyes, I could clearly 
see the Charlotte I had decided to put to canvas. 

But, having begun the picture with a happy feeling of fear 
and tremulous excitement, I at once met an unexpected 
and almost unsurmountable obstacle. I had no model. 

Or, rather, strictly speaking, there were models. I 
chose the one which seemed to me the most suitable from 
amongst those acting as models in St. Petersburg, and 
started zealously to work. But, alas ! how unlike was 
this Anna Ivanovna to the creation of my fancy, as it 
appeared before my closed eyes ! Anna posed splendidly. 
For a whole hour she would sit motionless, never stirring, 
and conscientiously earned her rouble, very pleased that 
she might sit draped. 

*' Ah ! How nice it is to pose like this ! *' she said, with 
a sigh, and a slight flush on her face at her first sitting — 
" elsewhere " 

She had only been a model for two months, and could 
not as yet accustom herself to sitting in the nude. Russian 
girls, it would seem, never can quite accustom themselves. 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA i6i 

I painted her hand, shoulders, and pose ; but when it 
came to her face, despair seized me. The small, plump, 
young face, with its slightly upturned nose, the kind 
grey eyes which gazed trustfully and somewhat dolefully 
from under very arched brows, shut out my vision. I 
could not transfer these nondescript features into that 
face. I wrestled with my Anna Ivanovna three or four 
days, then finally left her alone. There was no other 
model, and I decided to do what should never under any 
circumstances be done, to paint the face without a study — 
from *' out of my head," as they say. I decided on this 
because I saw it as if living before me. But when work 
began, brushes went flying into the corner. Instead of a 
living face, a sort of sketch resulted, which possessed 
neither flesh nor blood. 

I took the canvas from the easel and placed it in a 
corner, face to the wall. My failure surprised me greatly. 
I remember that I even tore my hair. It seemed to me 
that it was not worth living, to have thought out such a 
beautiful picture (and how beautiful it was in my imagi- 
nation !), and not be able to paint it. I threw myself on 
my bed, and from grief and vexation tried to sleep. I 
remember that when I had already dropped asleep there 
was a ring at the door. The postman had brought me a 
letter from my cousin Sonia. She was rejoiced that I 
had thought out so big and diflicult a task, and lamented 
that it was so difficult to find a model. " Would not I do 
when I leave the Institute ? Wait a little, Andrei," she 
wrote. " I will come to Petersburg, and you may paint 
ten Charlotte Cordays from me if you wish ... if only 
there is a vestige of resemblance between me and that 
which you write now possesses your soul. ..." 

Sonia is not the least like Charlotte. She is incapable 
of inflicting a wound. She loves, rather, to heal them, 
and wondrously well she does it. And she would cure 
me ... if it were possible. 

II 



i62 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 



III 

In the evening I went round to Bezsonow. 

I went into the room where he was sitting bent over his 
writing-table, which was littered with books, manuscripts, 
and cuttings from papers. His hand was travelling 
swiftly over the paper. He wrote very quickly, without 
making erasures, in a small, even, and florid hand. He 
gave me a rapid glance, and continued writing. A 
tenacious idea apparently possessed him, and he did not 
wish to stop his work until he had put it to paper. I sat 
down on a wide, low, and much-worn sofa (he slept on 
it), which stood in a dark corner of the room, and for 
some five minutes looked at him. His regular, cold 
profile was well known to me ; I had often sketched it in 
my album, and had once painted a study from it. I have 
not got this study. He sent it to his mother. But this 
evening — perhaps because I was sitting out of the light, 
and a lamp with a green-coloured shade showed him up 
in brilliant relief, or perhaps because my nerves were 
unstrung — his face, for some reason, particularly at- 
tracted my attention. I looked at him and took in every 
detail of his head, and noted the smallest features which 
had hitherto escaped my notice. His head was indis- 
putably the head of a strong man — perhaps not very 
talented, but strong. 

The quadrangular-shaped skull, almost without a 
break passing into a wide and powerful nape ; the abrupt 
and prominent forehead ; the brows drooping in the centre 
and contracting the skin into a vertical fold ; the strong 
jaw and thin lips — all appeared to me as something new 
to-day. 

" Why are you looking at me like that ?" he suddenly 
asked, having laid down his pen, and turning his face 
to me. 

"How did you know ?" 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 163 

" I felt it. It is not fancy. I have several times 
experienced a similar feeling." 

*' I was looking at your face as a model. You have a 
very original-shaped head, Serge Vassilivich.*' 

'* Really !" said he, with a short smile. " Well ! and 
let it be original." 

" No ; but, seriously, you are like someone . . . some 
famous ..." 

** Rogue or murderer ?" he asked, not allowing me to 
finish. " I do not believe in Lavater. . . . Well — and 
you ? By your face I see that things are not going well. 
Won't it work out ?" 

*' No ; things are not altogether right. I have given it 
up — chucked it," I replied in a despairing voice. 

" Ah ! as I thought. What is it ? I suppose no 
model." 

''No, no, no. You know. Serge Vassilivich, how I 
have searched. But it is all so unlike what I want that 
I am simply in despair — especially this Anna Ivanovna. 
She has absolutely worn me out. She has wiped out 
everything with her flat face. It even seems to me that 
the image itself is not as clear in my head as it used to be." 

" Then, it was clear ?" 

" Oh yes, absolutely. If it had been possible to paint 
it with my eyes blindfolded, really, I think nothing better 
would have been wanted. With my eyes shut, I can see 
her now, there " — and I must have screwed up my eyes 
in a most ridiculous manner, because Bezsonow laughed 
loudly. 

" Don't laugh. Seriously, I am in despair," I said. 

He suddenly stopped laughing. 

" If so, I'll stop. But, really and honestly, I am sorry 
for you, although I cannot help laughing. But didn't I 
tell you to have nothing to do with this subject ?" 

" And I have cast it aside." 

" And how much labour, loss of nervous energy, how 
much vain lamenting now ! I knew that it would not 



i64 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

work out ; and not because I foresaw that you would 
not find a model, but because the subject is unsuitable. 
One must have it in one's blood. One must be a de- 
scendant of those people who lived with Marat and Char- 
lotte Corday, and those times. But what are you ? — the 
mildest of well-educated Russians, lethargic and weak. 
One must be capable of doing such a deed oneself. But 
you ! Could you, if necessary, throw away your brushes 
and — speaking figuratively — take up a dagger ? For 
you this would be about as possible as a trip to the 
moon. . . ." 

*' I have often argued with you about this, Serge 
Vassilivich, and apparently you will never convince me, 
nor I you. An artist is an artist precisely because he 
can place himself in another's place. Was it necessary 
for Raphael to become the Blessed Virgin in order to 
paint the Madonna ? It is absurd. Serge Vassilivich. 
However, I am beginning an argument, although I have 
said I don't wish to argue with you." 

Bezsonow was going to say something, when he checked 
himself, and, with a gesture of the hand, said : 

*' Well, do as you like ;" and, getting up from his chair 
at the table, began to pace from corner to corner of the 
room, making but little noise as he did so in his felt 
slippers. 

" We will not quarrel about it. We will not irritate 
the sores of a secret heart, as somebody said somewhere." 

" I do not think that anybody ever said that." 

" Well, perhaps not ; I usually misquote poetry. . . . 
What if we have the samovar in for consolation ? It 
must be time." 

He went to the door and shouted out, as if drilling a 
company of soldiers : '* Tea !" 

I disliked this manner of his with servants. For some 
time neither of us said a word. I sat buried in the 
cushions of the sofa, and he continued to pace from 
corner to corner. He was apparently thinking over 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 165 

something . . . and, finally stopping before me, he said, in 
a business-like tone : 

" And if you had a model, would you try again ?" 

" Oh, of course," I replied dismally ; " but where will 
you find her ?" 

He again paced the room for a little while. 

" Look here, Andrei Nicolaievich. . . . There is one 
person." 

" If she is somebody important, she will not pose." 

" No, she is not at all important — not at all. But . . . 
and I have a very big ' but ' in connection with this 
matter." 

" What kind of ' but,' Serge Vassilivich ? If you are 
not joking . . ." 

" Yes, yes ; I am joking. It is impossible . . .** 

" Serge Vassilivich ..." I said, in an imploring tone. 

'* Listen to what I am going to say. You know that 
I have a high opinion of you," he began, standing still in 
front of me. " We are almost of an age. I am two 
years older, but I have lived and gone through as much 
as it will take you ten years and more, probably, to learn. 
I am not a nice man. I am bad and . . . immoral, de- 
praved" (he rapped out each word). " There are many 
who are more so than I, but I consider myself more 
guilty. I hate myself for it and for not being able to be 
the clean-minded man I should like to be . . . like you, for 
instance." 

*' Of what sort of depravity and cleanness are you 
talking ?" I asked. 

" I call things by their proper names. I often envy 
you your peace and clear conscience. I envy you for 
being what you are. . . . But it is all the same — impos- 
sible, impossible," he said to himself angrily. " We will 
not talk about it." 

" If impossible, at least explain what or who I am," I 
replied. 

" Nothing ... no one. . . . But, yes, I will tell you. 



i66 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

Your cousin, Sophia Nicolaievna. She is not a very near 
cousin ?'* 

" A second cousin/' I replied. 

** Yes, a second cousin. She is your fiancee," he said, 
in a positive tone. 

" How do you know ?" I exclaimed. 

" I know. At first I guessed it, but now I know it. 
I found out from my mother. She wrote to me not long 
ago — and, besides, remember where she is. . . . Surely 
you know that in a provincial town everyone knows every- 
thing ! Is it true that she is your fiancee ?" 

" Well, we will allow it is so.'* 

" And from childhood ? Your parents decided on it ?" 

" Yes, my parents arranged it. At first I regarded it as 
a joke, but now I see that it will take place. I did not 
want anyone to know this, and I am very sorry that you 
have found it out." 

" I envy you for having a fiancee," he said quietly, his 
eyes taking on a far-away look, and he sighed deeply. 

*' I did not expect sentimentality from you. Serge 
Vassilivich." 

'* Yes, and I envy you because you have a fiancee," 
he repeated, not listening to me. " I envy you your 
cleanness, your expectations, your future happiness, your 
stock of as yet untouched love." 

He took me by the arm, made me get up from the sofa, 
and led me up to a looking-glass. 

" Look at me and at yourself," he said. " What are 
you ? ' Hyperion before the goat-footed Satyr/ I am 
the goat-footed Satyr, and I am stronger than you. My 
bones are bigger and my health is naturally better. 
But compare us. Do you see this ?" — he lightly touched 
his hair, commencing to get thin about his temples. 
" Yes, my dear fellow, all this ardour of the soul wasted 
in the wilderness. Yes, and what ardour it is ! Simply 
. . . filth." 

*' Serge Vassilivich, let us get back to where we 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 167 

started. Why do you refuse to introduce me to the 
model ?" 

" Because she has taken part in this wasted ardour. 
I told you she is not an important person, and she most 
decidedly is not important — on the lowest rung of the 
human ladder. Below it is the abyss into which she per- 
haps will soon fall. The abyss is final ruin. Yes, and 
she has irrevocably perished." 

" I am beginning to understand you. Serge Vassilivich." 

" Ah ! Well, you see what kind of a ' but * it is." 

" You may keep that kind of a ' but ' for yourself. 
Why do you consider it your duty to act as my guardian 
and protector ?" 

" I have said — because I like you, because you are 
clean — not only you, but both of you. You represent 
such a rarity, something fragrant and redolent of fresh- 
ness. I envy you, and prize what I can see, even though 
I am but an outsider. And you wish me to spoil all 
this ! No, don't expect it." 

" What, then, does all this amount to, Serge Vassili- 
vich ? You cannot have much hope for the cleanness 
you have discovered in me if you fear such terrible conse- 
quences from a simple acquaintanceship with this woman." 

'* Listen ! I can give you this woman or not. I shall 
act as I think fit. I do not want to give her to you, and 
I shall not. Dixi." 

He sat down, whilst I excitedly walked about the room. 

'* And you think she is like ?" 

" Very. But, no, not very " — he abruptly stopped — • 
" not at all like. Enough about her." 

I begged him, stormed, showed him the utter idiocy of 
the task he had taken upon himself of guarding my 
morals, but all in vain. He absolutely refused, and in 
conclusion said : " I have never said dixi twice." 

" I congratulate you on the fact," I replied bitterly. 

We talked only of trivialities over our tea, and then we 
parted. 



i68 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 



IV 

For a whole fortnight I did nothing. I went to the 
Academy merely to paint the programme picture, a 
terrible Biblical study — the turning of Lot's wife into a 
pillar of salt. Everything was ready — Lot and his 
family — but the pillar ! I could not imagine it — 
whether to paint it as a sort of tombstone or a simple 
statue of Lot's wife made of rock-salt. 

Life dragged along wearily. I received two letters 
from Sonia. I read her pretty prattle about life in the 
Institute — how she read secretly, evading the Argus- 
eyed class mistress — and I added her letters to the others, 
bound up by a pink ribbon. I had kept this ribbon for 
fifteen years, and up to the present had not been able 
to make up my mind to throw it away. Why throw it 
away ? With whom did it interfere ? But what would 
Bezsonow have said had he seen this evidence of 
my sentimentality ? Would he again have gone into 
raptures over my *' cleanness," or commenced to 
jeer ? 

However, it was no laughing matter which had vexed 
me. What was to be done ? Give up the picture, or 
search again for a model ? 

An unexpected chance helped me. One day, as I was 
lying on my sofa, with a stupid translation of a French 
novel, and had lain there until my head ached and my 
brain reeled from stories of morgues, police detectives, 
and the resurrection of people who ought to have died 
twenty times over — the door opened, and in came 
Helfreich. 

Imagine a pair of thin, rather bandy legs, a huge body 
crushed by two humps, a pair of skinny arms, high 
hunched-up shoulders, expressive of a sort of perpetual 
doubt, and a young, pale, slightly bloated, but kind-ex- 
pressioned face on a head thrown well back. He was an 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 169 

artist. Amateurs know his pictures well. Painted for 
the most part on one subject. His heroes were cats. He 
has painted sleeping cats, cats with birds, cats arching 
their backs, even a tipsy cat, with merry eyes, behind a 
glass of wine. In cats he had reached the acme of per- 
fection, but he never tried anything else. If in the picture 
there were certain accessories besides the cats — foliage, from 
out of which a pink-tipped nose with gold-coloured eyes 
and narrow pupils should appear, any drapery, a basket in 
which were a whole family of kittens with large trans- 
parent ears — then he used to turn to me. And on this 
occasion he arrived with something wrapped up in dark 
blue paper. Having given me his white, bony hand, he 
put the parcel on the table and commenced to unwrap it. 

" Cats again ?" I asked. 

" Again . . . You see, this one wants a little bit of 
carpet putting in . . . and in the other a corner of a sofa." 

He unrolled the paper and showed me two not big 
paintings. The figures of the cats were quite finished, 
but were painted on a background of white canvas. 

" Either a sofa, or something of that sort. . . . Invent 
it yourself. I am sick of it." 

" Are you going to give up these cats soon, Simon 
Ivanovich ?" 

*' Yes, I ought to. They are hindering me very much. 
But what will you ? There is money in them ! For this 
rubbish, two hundred roubles." 

And, spreading out his legs, he shrugged his already 
permanently hunched shoulders and threw out his hands, 
as if to express his astonishment that such rubbish found 
purchasers. 

In two years he had obtained a reputation with his 
cats. Never before or since (with the exception of the 
late Huna) had there been such mastery in the depict- 
ment of cats of every possible age, colour, and condition. 
But, having devoted his attention exclusively to them, 
Helfreich had abandoned all else. 



170 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

" Money, money . . ." he repeated musingly. ** And 
why do I, a humpbacked devil, want so much money ? 
And all the time I feel it is becoming harder and harder 
for me to take up regular work. I envy you, Andrei. 
For two years I have painted nothing but this trash. . . . 
Of course, I am very fond of cats, especially live cats. 
But I feel that it is sucking me drier and drier. And yet 
I have more talent than you, Andrei. What do you 
think ?" he asked me in a good-natured tone. 

" I don't think," I replied, smiling, " I know it.'* 

" And what about your Charlotte ?" 

I waved my hand. 

" Bad ?" he asked. " Show me . . ." and, seeing that! 
I made no move, he went himself and rummaged about! 
in the heap of old canvases lying in the corner of the room. 
Then he placed the reflector on the lamp, put my un-i 
finished picture on the easel, and lighted it up. He saidj 
nothing for a long time, and then exclaimed : 

" I understand you. This might turn out all right. 
Only it is Anna Ivanovna. Do you know why I came] 
here ? Come along with me." 

" Where ?" 

" Anywhere. For a walk. I am depressed, Andrei ;j 
afraid I shall again fall into sin." 

" WQiat nonsense !" 

" No, it is not nonsense. I feel that something isj 
already gnawing away at me here " (he pointed to the 
lower part of his chest). '* I would fain forget and} 
sleep " — he suddenly sang in a thin tenor — " and I have 
come here so as not to be alone. Once it begins, it will 
last a fortnight, and then afterwards I am ill. And, finally,^ 
it is very bad for me with such a body." And he turned 
himself round twice on his heels to show me both his humps. 

*' I tell you what," I suggested ; *' come and stay with] 
me as my guest !" 

** It would be very nice. I will think about it. Anc 
now come along." 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 171 

I dressed, and we went out. 

We long sauntered along in the Petersburg slush. It 
was autumn. A strong wind was blowing from the sea, 
and the Neva had risen. We walked along the Palace 
Quay. The angry river was foaming and whipping the 
granite parapets of the Quay with its waves. From out 
of the blackness in which the opposite side had become 
hidden there came occasional spurts of flame, quickly 
followed by a loud roar. The guns in the Fortress were 
firing. The water was rising. 

" I should like it to rise still higher. I have never 
seen a flood, and it would be interesting, '* said Helfreich. 

We sat for a long time on the Quay, silently watching 
the stormy darkness. 

" It will not rise any more," said Helfreich at length ; 
" the wind seems to be dying down. I am sorry I have 
not seen a flood. . . . Let us go." 

" Where ?" 

" Follow our noses . . . Come with me. I will take 
you to a place. Nature in a silly humour frightens me. 
Better to go and look at human folly." 

" Where is it ? Senichka ?" 

" I know. . . . Izvoschik !" he called out. 

We got in and started off. On the Fontanka, opposite 
some gaudily painted wooden gates, decorated with carved 
work, Helfreich stopped the izvoschik. We passed 
through a dirty yard between the two-storied wings of 
an old building. Two powerful reflector lamps threw 
brilliant rays of light into our faces. They hung on 
either side of a flight of steps leading to the entrance, old, 
but also plentifully decorated with different coloured 
woodwork, carved in the so-called Russian taste. In 
front and behind us people were going in the same direc- 
tion as ourselves — men in furs, women in long wraps of 
pretentiously costly material, silk -woven flowers on a 
plush ground, with boas round their necks, and white 
silk mufflers on their heads. All were making for the 



172 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

entrance, and, having gone up several steps of the stair- 
case, were taking off their wraps, displaying for the most 
part pitiful attempts at luxurious toilettes, in which silk 
was half cotton, bronze took the place of gold, cut glass 
did substitute for brilliants and powder, carmine and 
terre de sienne took the place of freshness of face and 
brilliancy of eyes. 

We took tickets at the booking-office, and passed into 
a whole suite of rooms furnished with little tables. The 
stifling atmosphere, reeking of strange fumes, seized me. 
Tobacco smoke mingled with the fumes of beer and cheap 
pomade. The crowd was a noisy one. Some were aim- 
lessly wandering about, others were seated behind 
bottles at the little tables. There were men and women, 
and the expression on their faces was strange. They all 
pretended to be jovial, and were chatting away about 
something — what, goodness knows ! We sat down at 
one of the tables, and Helfreich ordered some tea. I 
stirred mine with a spoon and listened, as, just alongside 
me, a short fat brunette with a gipsy type of face, slowly, 
and with a tone of dignity in her voice which betrayed a 
strong German accent and some pride, replied to a query 
from the young man with whom she was sitting as to 
whether she often came here. 

" I come here once a week. I cannot come oftener, 
because I have to go to other places. The day before; 
yesterday I was at the German Club ; yesterday at the! 
Orpheus ; to-day here ; to-morrow at the Bolshoi Theatre ; 
the day after to-morrow at the Prikazchick ; then to 
the operetta and the Chateau de Fleurs. . . . Yes, I go 
somewhere every day, and so the time passes, ' die ganze 
Woche.' ..." And she proudly looked at her companion, 
who had already curled up at hearing so magnificent a 
programme of delights. 

We got up, and began to stroll through the rooms. At 
the extreme end a wide door led into a hall for dancing. 
The windows had yellow silk blinds, the ceiling was a 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 173 

painted one ; and there were rows of cane chairs along the 
walls ; whilst in a corner of the hall there was a large 
white alcove, shell-shaped, in which the orchestra of 
fifteen men sat. The women, for the most part arm-in- 
arm, walked up and down the hall in pairs ; the men sat 
on the chairs and watched them. The musicians were 
tuning their instruments. The face of the first violin 
seemed familiar to me. 

'* Is it you ? Theodore Carlovich !" I asked, touching 
him on the shoulder. 

Theodore Carlovich turned round towards me. My 
goodness ! how flabby he had become ! bloated and grey. 

" Yes, it is I, Theodore Carlovich. And what do you 
want ?" 

*' Don't you remember me at the G3minasium ? . . . 
You used to come with your violin for the dancing 
lessons. ..." 

" Ach ! yes. And now I sit here on a stool in a corner 
of the hall. I remember you. . . . You waltzed very well." 

" Have you been long here ?" 

" This is my third year." 

" Do you remember how you came early, and in the 
empty room played Ernst's ' Elegy,' and I listened ?" 

The musician's bleary eyes glistened. 

" You heard ! you listened ! I thought that no one 
heard. Yes, I could play once. Now I cannot. Here 
now, on all holidays. At the booths in the day-time, and 
night-time here. ..." He remained silent for a bit. " I 
have four boys and one girl," he murmured quietly. 
" One of the boys finishes at the Anne Schule this year, 
and is going to the University. I cannot play Ernst's 
' Elegy.' " 

The leader waved his baton several times, and the small 
but loud orchestra broke into a deafening polka. The 
leader, having marked the time three or four times, 
joined with his squeaky violin in the general noise. 
Couples began to revolve whilst the orchestra thundered. 



174 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

" Come on, Senia," I said ; " this is boring. Let's go 
home and have some tea, and talk of something nice." 

" * Of something nice ?' " he inquired, with a smile. 
" All right ; let's go." 

We began to push our way through towards the exit, 
when suddenly Helfreich stopped. 

" Look !" said he. " Bezsonow !" 

I looked, and saw Bezsonow. He was sitting at a 
marble-topped table, on which stood bottles of wine, 
glasses, and something else. Bending over, his eyes 
sparkling, he was whispering something in an animated 
manner to a woman dressed in black silk sitting at the 
same table, but whose face I could not see. I could only 
note her well-made figure, delicate hands and neck, and 
her black hair smoothly done up on the top of her head. 

" Thank Fate !" said Helfreich to me. " Do you know 
who she is ? Rejoice ! That is your Charlotte Corday." 

'' She ? Here !" 



Bezsonow, holding a glass of wine in his hand, raising 
a pair of excited and very red eyes, saw me, and his face 
clearly expressed his dissatisfaction. 

He got up from his place and came to us. 

" You here ? What has brought you here ?" 

" We came to look at you," I replied, smiling ; " and I 
am not sorry, because, because " 

He caught my glance as it ran over his friend, and he 
abruptly interrupted me. 

" Do not hope for this. . . . Helfreich has told you 
this. . . . But nothing will come of it. I will not allow 
it. I shall take her away. ..." And, briskly going up 
to her, he said loudly : 

*' Nadejda Nicolaievna, let us go. 

She turned her head, and I saw for the first time her 
astonished face. 

Yes, I saw her for the first time in this haunt. She 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 177 

not to behave like this. ... I wanted to ask you yet 
another favour." 

Her face took a mournful expression. 

*' Not to behave like this 7" said she. " I am afraid 
that I cannot behave in any other way. I have lest the 
habit. Well, all right ; so as to please you I wil try. 
And the favour ?" 

With a lot of stuttering and mixing up of my woiis I 
confusedly explained to her the matter. She listeied 
attentively, fixing her grey eyes straight on me. Eitier 
the strained attention with which she listened to my woids 
or something else gave her glance a stern and almost crtel 
expression. 

** All right," she said at length. " I understand whai 
you want. I will make my face like that." 

" That will not be necessary, Nadejda Nicolaievna ; 
only your face. ..." 

" All right, all right. When shall I come ?" 

" To-morrow at eleven o'clock, if possible." 

" So early ? Well, that means I must get to bed now. 
Senichka, will you see me home ?" 

" Nadejda Nicolaievna," said I, " we have not arranged 
about one thing : it cannot be done for nothing." 

" What ! you will pay me ?" she said ; and I felt that 
there was a ring of wounded pride in her voice. 

" Yes, pay ; otherwise it is off," said I decisively. 

She threw a scornful, even insolent, glance at me ; but 
almost immediately her face took on a thoughtful ex- 
pression. We both kept silent. I felt awkward, whilst 
a faint flush showed on her cheeks, and her eyes 
glinted. 

" All right," she said ; " pay. Give me what other 
models get. How much shall I get altogether for 
Charlotte, Senichka ?" 

" Sixty roubles, I should think," he replied. 

" And how long will it take to paint her ?" 

" A month." 

12 



178 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

" Gooi, very good !" she exclaimed vivaciously. " I 
will try to earn your money. Thank you !" 

She ■ ut out her thin hand and firmly pressed mine. 

" H( is spending the night with you ?" she asked 
turniig to me. 

*' "^es, yes, with me." 

" Twill let him go directly he has seen me home." 

Ii half an hour's time I was home, and five minutes 
later Helfreich returned. We undressed, laid down, and 
pu out the candles. I had already begun to doze. 

* Are you asleep, Lopatin ?" suddenly sounded 
Senichka's voice through the darkness. 

" No ; why ?" 

" Because I would straight away give my left hand if 
only this woman was a good and pure one," said he in 
an agitated voice. 

" Why not the right hand ?" I asked sleepily. 

" Duffer ! How would I be able to paint then ?" he 
asked me seriously. 

VI 

When I awoke the next day the grey morning was 
already looking in through the window. 

Having glanced at the dimly lighted, pale, kind-looking 
face of Helfreich asleep on the couch, and having recalled 
the evening before, and that I had a model for my picture, 
I turned over on my side and again lapsed into a light 
early morning slumber. 

" Lopatin !" resounded a voice. I heard it in my sleep. 
It accorded with my dream, and I did not awake, but 
somebody touched me on the shoulder. 

" Lopatin ! wake up !" said the voice. 

I jumped to my feet and saw Bezsonow. 

*' Is that you. Serge Vassilivich ?" 

" Yes ; you did not expect me so early ?" said he 
quietly. " Speak softer ; I do not want to wake up* the 
hunchback." 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 175 

was sitting here with this man who sometimes descended 
from his life of egoism and arrogant self-conceit to this 
debauchery. She was sitting behind an empty bottle. 
Her eyes were a little bloodshot, her pale face wals worn, 
her dress was untidy and loud. Around us pressed a 
crowd of holiday-makers — merchants despairing o^f the 
possibility of living without drinking, unfortunate shop- 
men spending their lives behind counters and ge\!ting 
away from their wretched thoughts only in these haunts 
of fallen women, and girls whose lips had only just 
touched the horrible cup, a few young milliners' hands, 
and shop-girls. ... I saw that she was falling into that 
abyss of which Bezsonow had spoken to me, if, indeed, she 
had not already fallen. 

" Come along, come along, Nadejda Nicolaievna ! 
Let us go," exclaimed Bezsonow impatiently. 

She rose, and looking at him with surprise, asked : 

" Why ? Where ?" 

" I don't want to stop here. . . ." 

" Well, then, you can go. . . . This, I think, is your 
friend and Helfreich." 

*' Did you hear what I said ? Listen, Nadia ..." said 
Bezsonow roughly. 

She knitted her brows and threw a look of hate at him. 
' " Who gave you the right to talk to me like this ? 
Senichka, old boy, how are you ?" 

Simon took her hand and gave it a hearty squeeze. 

" Look here, Bezsonow," said he ; *' stop fooling. Go 
home if you want, or stay here ; but Nadejda Nicolaievna 
will stay here with us. We have some business with her, 
and it is very important business. Nadejda Nicolaievna, 
allow me to introduce my friend, and his friend also," 
pointing to the frowning Bezsonow, *' and an artist." 

" How she loves pictures, Andrei !" suddenly said he 
to me in raptures. " Last year I took her to the Exhibi- 
tion, and we saw your studies. Do you remember ?" 

" Remember ?" she answered. 



176 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

" Nadejda Nicolaievna !" said Bezsonow once again. 

" Leave me alone. ... Go where you like. I am going 
to stay bere with Senia and this Mr. . . . Lopatin. I warn 
to havei a rest . . . from you ..." she suddenly exclaimed, 
seeing that Bezsonow was going to say something more. 
" I avn sick of you. Leave me alone. Clear out ! . . ." 

He turned abruptly, and went off without saying a 
woru to any of us. 

" That's better. . . . Now he has gone ..." said 
Nadejda Nicolaievna, giving a deep sigh. 

" Why do you sigh, Nadejda Nicolaievna ?" asked 
Senichka. 

" Why ? Because what is allowable for all these 
cripples " — with a movement of her head she indicated 
the crowd which surged around us — " is not allowable for 
him. . . . Well, never mind ; it is sickening and boring. 
No, not boring ; it's worse. There is no word for it. 
Senichka, treat me with something to drink." 

Simon looked at me plaintively. 

" You see, Nadejda Nicolaievna, I should be glad to, 
but I cannot ; he . . ." 

** What about him ? He can drink with us." 

" He will not stay." 

*' Well, then, you." 

" He will not let me." 

'* That's bad. . . . Who can stop you ?" 

** I have given my word that I will obey him." 

Nadejda Nicolaievna looked at me closely. 

" That's it, is it ?" she said. " W^ell, do as you like. 
If you don't want to, you needn't. I will drink by 
myself. ..." 

" Nadejda Nicolaievna," I began, " forgive me that at 
our first meeting . . ." 

I felt the crimson rush to my cheeks. She smiled and 
looked at me. 

'' Well, what ?" 

" That at our first meeting I ask you . . . not to do this, 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 179 

" What do you want ?'* 

" Dress, wash, and I will tell you. We will go into the 
other room. Let him sleep." 

I collected my clothes under my arm, and, picking up 
my boots, went to dress in the studio. Bezsonow was 
very pale. 

" You apparently did not sleep last night ?" I 
asked. 

" No, I slept ; but I got up very early and worked. 
Tell them to give us tea, and we will talk. By the way, 
show me your picture." 

" Not worth while now. Serge Vassilivich. But wait 
a bit ; I shall soon finish it in its corrected and proper 
form. Perhaps it is displeasing that I have gone con- 
trary to your wishes, but you would not believe how glad 
I am that I shall finish it, and that this has happened. 
Anyone better than Nadejda Nicolaievna I could not 
wish for." 

" I shall not allow you to paint her," said he dully. 

" Serge Vassihvich, you have apparently come here to 
quarrel with me." 

" I will not allow her to be with you every day, to spend 
whole hours with you. ... I will not allow her." 

" Have you such power ? How can you forbid her ? 
How can you forbid me ?" I asked, feeling my temper 
rising. 

" Power . . . power. ... A few words will be sufficient. 
I will remind her what she is. I will tell her what sort of 
person you are ; I will tell her of your cousin, Sophy 
Michailovna. ..." 

" I will not allow you to make mention of my cousin. . . . 
If you have any right to this woman — even if it is true 
what you have told me of her ; even if she has fallen ; if 
tens of others have the same right as you to her — you 
may have a right to her, but you have no right to my 
cousin. I forbid you to mention anything about my 
cousin to her ! Do you hear me ?" 



i8o NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

I felt that there was a threatening ring in my voice. 
He was beginning to exasperate me. 

" Oho ! you are showing your claws ! I did not know 
you had any. Very well ; you are right. I have no rights 
whatever to Sophy Michailovna. I will not dare to take 
her name in vain. But this other . . . this ..." 

In his excitement he several times paced from corner 
to corner of the room. I saw that he was seriously upset. 
I did not know what was to be done with him. In our 
last conversation he had in words and tone expressed 
such undisguised contempt for this woman, and now . . . 
surely ? . . . 

*' Serge Vassilivich," I said, " you love her !" 

He stopped short, looked at me in a strange manner, 
and abruptly said : 

" No." 

" Well, then, what's the matter with you ? Why 
have you raised this storm ? I cannot believe that you 
are consumed with the rescuing of my soul from the clav\^s 
of this imaginary devil ?" 

" That's my business," said he. " But, remember, by 
hook or by crook I shall stop you. ... I shall not allow 
it. Do you hear ?" he cried out hotly. 

I felt the blood rush to my head. In the corner where 
I was standing at this moment there was a heap of odds 
and ends — canvases, brushes, a broken easel, and there 
was also a stick with a sharp iron tip, on to which a 
large umbrella was screwed for summer work. By chance 
I had taken this lance into my hand, and when Bezsonow 
said, " I will not allow," I drove the sharp end with all 
my might into the floor. The piece of iron went a 
vershok into the wood. 

I did not say a word, but Bezsonow looked at me with 
puzzled and, it seemed to me, even frightened eyes. 

" Good-bye," said he ; "I am going. You are over- 
irritated." 

I had already succeeded in cooling down. 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA i8i 

" Wait a moment/* said I ; " stop." 

" No, I cannot. Au revoir." 

He went. With an effort I pulled the lance out of 
the floor, and I remember I felt with my finger the slightly 
warm, bright piece of iron. For the first time it entered 
my head that this was an awful weapon, with which it 
would be easy to kill a man outright. 

Helfreich went off to the Academy, and I waited calmly 
for my model. I put on an entirely new canvas, and 
made all the necessary preparations. 

I cannot say that I thought then only of my picture. 
I recalled the evening before, with its strange setting, such 
as I had never previously seen, and the unexpected and, 
for me, happy meeting with this strange woman — this 
fallen woman, who at once attracted all my sympathy — 
and the strange behaviour of Bezsonow. . . . What does 
he want from me ? Is he really not in love with her ? If 
not, why this contemptuous attitude towards her ? Could 
he not surely save her ? 

I thought of all this as my hand travelled over the 
canvas with the charcoal. Again and again I made 
sketches of the pose in which I wanted to place Nadejda 
Nicolaievna, only to wipe them out one after another. 

Punctually at eleven o'clock the bell rang. A minute 
later she appeared for the first time on the threshold of 
my room. Oh, how well I remember her pale face when, 
in agitation and shamefacedly (yes, shame had replaced 
her yesterday's expression), she stood silently at the 
door ! She literally did not dare to come into this room 
where she afterwards found happiness, the sole bright 
ray in her life, and . . . destruction — but not that de- 
struction of which Bezsonow spoke. ... I cannot write 
about this. I will wait a little and get calm. 



i82 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 



VII 

Sonia does not know I am writing these bitter pages. 
She sits every day, as of old, near my bed or arm-chair. 
My other friend also often comes — my poor old hunch- 
back. He has grown very thin, and has wasted away, 
and for the most part keeps silent. Sonia says he is 
working stubbornly. God grant him happiness and 
success ! 

She came, as she promised, punctually at eleven o'clock. 
She entered timidly, bashfully answered my greeting, 
and, without saying another word, sat down in an arm- 
chair standing in a corner of the studio. 

" You are very punctual, Nadejda Nicolaievna," I 
said, squeezing some paints on to a palette. 

She glanced at me, but did not reply. 

" I do not know how to thank you for agreeing to sit," 
I continued, feeling myself turning red from confusion. I 
wanted to say something quite different to her. I had 
been so long unable to find a model that I had quite given 
up the picture. 

" Are there really none at the Academy ?" she asked. 

" Yes, there are, only not suitable. Look at this face." 

I took the picture of Anna Ivanovna from amongst the 
bundle of rubbish lying on the table, and handed it to 
her. She looked at it, and smiled faintly. 

" Yes ; she is not what you want," said she. " That 
is not Charlotte Corday." 

" You know the history of Charlotte Corday ?" I asked. 

She glanced at me with a strange expression of surprise, 
mixed with some bitterness of feeling. 

" Why should I not know ?" she asked. ** I have been 
to school. I have forgotten much now, leading this kind 
of life ; but, for all that, I remember some things, and 
such things as the story of Charlotte Corday it is im- 
possible to forget." 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 183 

" Where were you at school, Nadejda Nicolaievna ?'* 
** Why do you want to know ? If possible, let us 
begin." 

Her tone suddenly changed. She spoke these words 
jerkily and gloomily, as she had spoken the night before 
to Bezsonow. 

I said nothing. Having got out of a cupboard the 
dark-blue dress long ago made by me, the cap, and all 
the accessories of the costume of Charlotte Corday, I 
begged her to go into the next room and change. I had 
scarcely got everything ready when she came back. 
Before me stood my picture ! 

" Ah, my goodness, gracious me !" I exclaimed, with 
enthusiasm. " How grand it is ! Tell me, Nadejda 
Nicolaievna, have we not seen each other before ? Other- 
wise it is impossible to explain it. I pictured this subject 
to myself just exactly as you look now. I think I have 
seen you somewhere. Your face must unconsciously 
have impressed itself on my memory. . . . Tell me, where 
have I seen you ?" 

" Where could you have seen me ?" she asked in re- 
turn. " I do not know ; I never met you before last 
night. Begin, please. Put me as you want me ; paint." 
I begged her to stand, arranged the folds of the dress, 
lightly touched her hands, giving to them that helpless 
position which I always pictured to myself, and went to 
the easel. 

She stood before me. . . . She stands before me now, 
there on the canvas. . . . She is looking at me as if alive. 
She has the same sorrowful and thoughtful expression, the 
same tokens of death on the pale face as on that morning. 
I wiped off all the charcoal from the canvas, and rapidly 
sketched in Nadejda Nicolaievna. Then I began to paint. 
Never before or since have I worked so quickly and suc- 
cessfully. The time flew by unnoticed, and only after 
an hour, when glancing at my model's face, I noticed that 
she was on the point of falling from fatigue. 



i84 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

" Forgive, forgive me ..." I said, leading her down from 
the dais on which she was standing, and sitting her in a 
chair. " I have quite worn you out." 

*' Never mind," she repUed, pale, but smiling. " If 
one earns one's living, one must suffer a little. I am glad 
that you were so engrossed. May I look ?" said she, 
nodding her head towards the picture, the face of which 
she could not see. 

" Of course, of course !" 

" Oh, what a daub !" she cried. " I have never before 
seen the beginning of an artist's work. But how in- 
teresting ! . . . And, do you know, even in this mess I 
see what it will be. . . . You have thought out a good 
picture, Andrei Nicolaievich. I will try to do all to make 
it a success ... so far as it depends on me." 

" What can you do ?" 

" I told. you yesterday. ... I will put on the expres- 
sion. It will make the work easier. ..." 

She quickly went to her place, raised her head, dropped 
her white hands, and on her face was reflected all that I 
had dreamt of for my picture. Determination and 
longing, pride and fear, love and hate ... all were there. 

*' Like that ?" she asked. " If like that, then I will 
stand as long as you like." 

" I do not want anything better, Nadejda Nicolaievna ; 
but, surely, it will be difficult for you to keep up that 
expression for long. Thank you. We will see. It is 
still far from that. . . . May I ask you to have lunch 
with me ?" 

She refused for a long time, but at last consented. 

My faithful old nurse, Agatha Alexeievna, brought in 
the lunch, and we for the first time sat at table together. 
How often did this happen afterw^ards ! . . . Nadejda 
Nicolaievna ate little and kept silent. She was evidently 
embarrassed. I poured her out a glass of wine ; she 
drank it off almost at a gulp. The crimson played on her 
pallid cheeks. 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 185 

" Tell me," she suddenly asked, " have you known 
Bezsonow long ?" 

I did not expect this question. Recalling all that had 
passed between me and Bezsonow about her, I felt 
confused. 

" Why do you blush ? But never mind ; only answer 
my question." 

" A long time, since childhood." 

" Is he a good man ?" 

" Yes, in my opinion he is a good man. He is honour- 
able, and works hard. He is very talented. He behaves 
very well to his mother." 

" He has a mother ? Where is she ?" 

" In . She has a little house there. He sends 

her money, and sometimes goes there himself. I have 
never seen a mother more in love with her son." 

" Why does he not bring her here ?" 

" Apparently she does not want to come. . . . But I 
do not know. . . . She has her house there, and is accus- 
tomed to the place." 

** That is not true," said Nadejda Nicolaievna musingly. 
*' He will not bring his mother here because he thinks 
she will be in the way. I do not know, but only 
think so. . . . She embarrasses him. She is a provincial, 
the widow of some small chinovnik. She would shock 
him." 

She pronounced the '* shock " bitterly and deliberately. 

'* I do not like the man, Andrei Nicolaievich," she 
said. 

" Why ? He is, all the same, a good fellow." 

" I do not like him. ... I am afraid of him. . . . Well, 
never mind ; let us get to work." 

She went to her place. The short autumn day was 
drawing to a close. 

I worked up to twilight, giving Nadejda Nicolaievna a 
rest now and then, and only when the paints began to 
become mingled in their colours, and the model standing 



i86 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

before me on the dais had already become merged in the 
darkness, did I lay down my brushes. . . . Nadejda 
Nicolaievna changed her dress and went. 



VIII 

The same day in the evening I moved Simon Ivanovich 
to my room. He lived in the Sadovaia Street, in a huge 
house filled from top to bottom with people, and occupying 
almost an entire block between three streets. The most 
aristocratic part of the house faced the Sadovaia, and 
was taken up with furnished rooms in the possession of 
a retired Captain Grum-Skjebitski, who rented out his 
quite large, but somewhat dirty, rooms to budding 
artists, the wealthier class of students and musicians. 
These formed the preponderating element of those 
lodging with the stern Captain, who was severely 
solicitous for the good name of what he called his 
*' hotel.'' 

I went up the iron staircase and entered the passage. 
From the first door came fleeting passages by a violin ; 
a little farther on a 'cello was booming away ; at the end 
of the corridor a piano was thundering. I knocked at 
Helfreich's door. 

*' Come in !" he called in a high voice. 

He was sitting on the floor, and was packing his house- 
hold goods into a huge case. A trunk, already corded, 
lay near it. Simon Ivanovich was stowing away things 
into the case without any attempt at system. At the 
bottom he had placed a pillow, on it a lamp, which had 
been taken to pieces and wrapped in paper ; then followed 
a small leather cushion, boots, a bundle of studies, a box 
of paints, books, and all sorts of odds and ends. Along- 
side the case sat a huge ginger-coloured cat, which gazed 
into its master's eyes. This cat, according to Helfreich, 
was always on duty for him. 

" I am ready, Andrei," said Helfreich. '' I am very 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 187 

glad you have come to fetch me. Tell me, was there a 
sitting to-day ? Did she come ?" 

" Yes, yes ; she came, Senia . . ." I replied, with 
triumph in my heart. " Do you remember in the night 
you said something about giving your left hand ?" 

" Well ?" said he, sitting on the case and smiling. 

** I understand you a little now, Senia. . . ." 

" Ah ! Look here, Andrei, Andrei ! help her out of 
it ! I cannot. I am a stupid, humpbacked devil. You 
yourself well know that I cannot even drag through life, 
bearing only my own burden, without outside help — ■ 
without you, for instance — and how could I support 
another ? I am myself in want of rescue from darkness, 
of someone to take me, make me work, keep my money, 
paint baskets, couches, and all the setting for my 
cats. Ah, Andrei, Andrei ! What should I do without 
you ?" 

And in an unexpected burst of tenderness Senichka 
suddenly jumped up from the case, ran towards me, 
seized my hands, and pressed his head to my chest. His 
soft silky hair touched my lips. Then he just as quickly 
left me, ran to the corner of the room (I have a strong 
suspicion that the dear chap brushed away a tear), and 
sat himself down in an arm-chair standing in the corner 
in the shadow. 

** Well, you see, I am not fit for that. But you . . . 
you — it is different. Take her out of it, Andrei." 

I said nothing. 

" There was yet another who could have done so," 
continued Simon Ivanovich, " but he was unwilling." 

" Bezsonow ?" I inquired. 

" Yes, Bezsonow." 

" Has he known her long, Senichka ?" 

" A long time — longer than I have. He is a man 

whose brain is nothing but compartments and drawers. 

He will open one, take out a ticket, read what is on it, 

and act in accordance. That is the way in which he sav/ 



i88 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

this case. He sees a fallen woman, and immediately he 
refers to his brain (the compartments are alphabetically 
arranged), opens the drawer, and reads: *They never 
return.' " 

Simon Ivanovich said no more, but, resting his chin in 
his hand, thoughtfully looked straight ahead into space. 

** Tell me how they got to know each other. What are 
the extraordinary relations between them ?" 

" Afterwards, Andrei ; I will not begin now. And 
perhaps she will tell you herself. Not ' perhaps,' but for 
certain she will. You are that sort of man ..." said 
Simon smilingly. Come along ; I must settle with the 
Captain." 

'* Have you any money ?" 

" Yes, yes. The cats save me." 

He went into the passage, called out something to a 
servant, and a minute later the Captain himself ap- 
peared. He was a sturdy, thick-set old man, very fresh- 
looking, with a smooth, clean-shaven face. Coming into 
the room, he bowed affectedly, and gave his hand to 
Helfreich ; he made the same silent deep bow to me. 

" What does the gentleman require ?" he inquired 
courteously. 

" I am leaving you, Captain." 

" That is your business," he replied, elevating his 
shoulders. " I have been very pleased with you, sir. 
I am glad when well-behaved and well-educated people 
patronize my hotel. . '. . The gentleman's friend is also 
an artist ?" he inquired, turning towards me with a 
second and very exaggerated bow. " Allow me to 
recommend myself : Captain Grum-Skjebitski, an old 
soldier." 

I put out my hand and gave him my name. 

" Mr. Lopatin !" exclaimed the Captain, his face 
assuming an expression of respectful astonishment. " It 
is a famous name. I have heard it from all students at 
the Academy. Very happy to make your acquaintance. 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 189 

I wish you the fame of Semiradsky and Mateik. . . . 
Where are you going to ?" the Captain inquired of 
Helfreich. 

" To him ..." repHed Helfreich, smihng confusedly. 

" Although you are taking an excellent lodger from 
me, I do not regret it. Friendship has that right ..." 
said the Captain, again bowing. " In a minute I will 
bring my book. ..." 

He went out, holding his head well up, with a somewhat 
military gait. 

" Where did he serve ?" I asked Senia. 

" I don't know ; I only know he is not a Russian 
Captain. I found that out from his passport. He is 
simply dvorianin Kesari Grum-Skjebitski. He tells every- 
one in confidence that he was in the Polish Rebellion. 
There is an old musket hanging on the wall of his room." 

The Captain brought his book and accounts. Having 
referred to them for two or three minutes, he informed 
Helfreich of the amount owing for his board and lodging 
up to the end of the month. Simon Ivanovich settled, 
and we parted on very friendly terms. When they had 
taken out all his belongings, Simon Ivanovich took the 
ginger-coloured cat under his arm. It had for some time 
been rubbing itself against his leg, holding its tail high 
and stiff like a stick, every now and then giving a short 
mew (probably the desolate look of the room alarmed 
it), and off we started. 



IX 

Another three or four sittings passed by. Nadejda 
Nicolaievna used to come to me at ten or eleven o'clock, 
and remain until it was dark. Time and again I begged 
her to stay and have dinner with us, but as soon as the 
sitting was ended she invariably hurried off into the next 
room,5i changed the dark blue dress for her black dress, 
and left. 



190 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

Her face changed greatly during these few days. A 
melancholy and wistful expression became noticeable 
about her mouth and in the depths of her grey eyes. 
She seldom spoke to me, and only brightened up a little 
when Helfreich, who continued — in spite of my efforts 
to make him take up something seriously — to paint one 
cat after another, sat in the studio at his easel. Besides 
his ginger model, some five or six cats of various ages, 
sex, and colour appeared from somewhere in our flat, 
which Agatha Alexeievna invariably fed, although she 
waged a never-ending w^ar with them, consisting princi- 
pally in taking several of them up under her arm and 
throwing them out on to the back-stairs. But the cats 
used to mew piteously at the door, and the soft heart of 
our faithful domestic could not withstand such appeals ; 
the door would open, and the models again take pos- 
session of our flat. 

How dearly I remember those long quiet sittings ! The 
picture was nearing completion, and an indefinable feeling 
of depression was gradually stealing into my heart. I 
felt that when Nadejda Nicolaievna ceased to be neces- 
sary for me as a model we should part. I recalled my 
conversation with Helfreich on the day he came to live 
with me. Often when I looked at her pale, melancholy 
face, his words, " Ah, Andrei, Andrei, take her out of 
it," would ring in my ears. 

Take her out of it ! I knew almost nothing about her. 
I did not even know where she lived. She had left her 
old address, to which Helfreich escorted her the evening 
after our first meeting, and was living in another lodging, 
but where neither Senia nor I could discover. Neither 
of us knew her surname. 

I remember once I asked her it at a sitting, when Hel- 
freich was absent. He had gone that morning to the 
Academy (I made him go, if only rarely, to the study 
class), and we spent the whole day alone. Nadejda 
Nicolaievna was a little brighter than usual, and a 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 191 

little more talkative. Encouraged by this, I dared 
to say : 

*' Nadejda Nicolaievna, even now I do not know your 
surname." 

She took no apparent notice of my question. An almost 
imperceptible shadow crossed her face, and for a second 
her lips compressed, as if something had taken her by 
surprise ; then she went on talking. She spoke of Hel- 
freich, and I saw that she was thinking of what to say in 
order to direct my attention and evade my question. 
Finally she stopped. 

" Nadejda Nicolaievna,'* I said, *' tell me why you do 
not trust me. Have I ever shown even ..." 

*' Stop !" she replied sadly. " I not trust you ! Non- 
sense. . . . Why should I not trust you ? What harm 
can you do me ?" 

" Why do you . . ." 

" Because it is not necessary. Paint, paint ; it will 
soon be dark," she said, trying to speak more brightly. 
" Simon Ivanovich will soon be here, and what will 
you be able to show him ? You have done almost 
nothing to-day. We spend the whole time in talking." 

" It will be all right. ... I am tired. ... If you like, 
get down and rest a little." 

She came down and sat on a stool which stood in the 
corner. I sat at the other end of the room. I had a wild 
longing to talk with her and question her, but I felt it 
was becoming more difhcult with every sitting. I noted 
how she sat, bending forward and holding her knees 
with her hands, and her lowered eyes fixed on some spot 
on the floor. One of Senia's cats was rubbing against 
her dress, and looking up in a friendly way into her face, 
purring quietly and kindly. She seemed to have become 
frozen in this pose. . . . What was happening in that 
proud and unhappy soul ? 

Proud ! Yes, it was no idle word which my pen has 
torn from me. At that time I already felt that her ruin 



192 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

had come from her refusal to bend. Perhaps, had she 
made some concession, she would have lived like the rest, 
would have been an interesting girl " with inscrutable 
eyes "; then she would have married and have become 
engulfed in the sea of a colourless existence side by side 
with her husband, occupied in some unusually important 
business in some service. She would have become a 
lady of fashion, have had her jour fixe, have educated 
her children (son at the Gymnasium and daughter at the 
Institute) ; she would have dabbled in " good works,'' 
and, going along the path ordained by the Almighty, 
would have given her husband an opportunity of making 
public on the next day in the Novoe Vremia his " deep 
affliction." But she had gone off the track. What had 
compelled her to leave the mapped-out life of a *' decent 
woman " ? I did not know, and tormentingly en- 
deavoured to read the reason in her face. But it re- 
mained immobile. Her eyes were all the time fixed on 
one spot. 

" I have had a rest, Andrei Nicolaievich," she said, 
suddenly raising her head. 

I got up, looked at her, then at the canvas, and 
answered : 

" I cannot work any more to-day, NadejdaNicolaievna." 

She glanced at me, seemed about to say something, but 
refrained, and without a word went out of the room to 
dress. I remember I threw myself into an arm-chair and 
covered my face with my hands. An unintelligible 
longing feeling filled me ; a vague expectancy of some- 
thing unknown and terrible ; a passionate longing to do 
something for which I could not account, and a tenderness 
towards this unfortunate being, together with a timorous 
feeling which possessed me in her presence — all this fused 
into one suffocating impression, and I do not remember 
how long I sat buried in almost complete oblivion. 

When I came to myself she was standing before me, 
eady dressed in her own clothes. 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 193 

" Au revoir.'* 

I rose and gave her my hand. 

" Wait a little. ... I want to say something to you." 

" What is it ?" she asked anxiously. 

" A great, great deal, Nadejda Nicolaievna. ... Sit 
down, for goodness' sake, for a little, if only for once not 
as a model." 

'' Not as a model ? What else can I be to you ? God 
grant that if not a model, I may not be for you what I 
have been . . . what I am," she added hurriedly. " Good- 
bye. Will you soon finish the picture, Andrei Nicolaie- 
vich ?" she asked at the door. 

" I don't know. ... I think I shall have to ask you to 
come to me for another two or three weeks." 

She remained silent, as if unable to make up her mind 
to say what she wanted to say. 

*' Do you want something, Nadejda Nicolaievna ?" 

** Do any of your friends want a . . ." she stammered. 

" A model . . . ?" I interrupted. " I will try to arrange 
it. I will do all I can, Nadejda Nicolaievna." 

" Thank you. Good-bye." 

I had barely stretched out my hand, when the bell 
rang. She turned pale, and sat down on a chair. Bez- 
sonow came in. 



He entered with a free and jaunty air. He seemed at 
first to have grown thinner the few days we had not 
seen each other, but after a few minutes I changed my 
opinion. He greeted me merrily, bowed to Nadejda 
Nicolaievna, who remained seated in her chair, and spoke 
with great animation. 

" I have come to have a look. Your work interests 
me very much. I want to find out if you really can do 
anything now when you have a model better than which 
you cannot want." 

He shot a glance at Nadejda Nicolaievna. She re- 

13 



194 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

mained seated as before. I expected and wanted her to 
go, but she remained as if transfixed to her chair, and did 
not take her eyes off Bezsonow. 

" That's true,'' I repHed. " I do not want a better 
model. I am very grateful to Nadejda Nicolaievna for 
sitting to me." 

Saying this, I moved the easel from the wall and placed 
it as it ought to be. 

** May I look ?" said he. 

He devoured the picture with his eyes. I saw that it 
astonished him, and my author's pride was pleasantly 
tickled. 

Nadejda Nicolaievna suddenly rose. 

*' Au re voir !" she said dully. 

Bezsonow turned round impetuously, and made several 
steps towards her. 

" Where are you off to, Nadejda Nicolaievna ? I have 
not seen you for so long, and when I meet you almost 
by chance you apparently run away from me. Stop a 
little longer, if only five minutes more. We will go 
together and I will escort you home. I have not been 
able to find you. At your old lodging they told me 
you had left the town. I knew that wasn't true. I tried 
at the Inquiry Bureau, but they had not your address. 
I meant to ask again to-morrow, hoping that by this 
time they had your address, but now, of course, it is not 
necessary. You will tell us where you live, and I will 
see you home." 

He spoke quickly and with a tenderness in his tone 
quite new and strange to me. How different this tone 
from that in which he had spoken to Nadejda Nicolaievna 
the evening I and Helfreich had chanced upon them. 

"It is not necessary, Serge Vassilivich, thank you," 
replied Nadejda Nicolaievna. " I can get home by 
myself. I do not want any escort, and . . . with you," 
she added quietly, " I have nothing to talk about." 

He made a movement of the hand as if he wished to 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 195 

say something, but only a strange sort of noise came 
from his Hps. I saw that he was restraining himself. . . . 
He made several paces, and then, turning towards her, 
said quietly : 

*' Go ! . . . If you do not need me, so much the better 
for both of us . . . perhaps for all three. ..." 

She went, giving my hand a slight squeeze, and we 
were left alone. Soon Helfreich arrived. I asked 
Bezsonow to stay and dine with us. He did not answer 
at first, occupied with some thought, then suddenly 
remembered himself and said : 

" Dine ? Thank you. ... I have not been here for a 
long time. I wanted to have a talk with you to-day." 

And he did. At the beginning of dinner, he, for the 
most part, was silent or gave disjointed replies to Senichka, 
who talked without ceasing about his cats, which he must 
certainly give up, and about the necessity of taking up 
serious work ; but afterwards, perhaps under the in- 
fluence of two glasses of wine, Helfreich's spirits infected 
him, and I must say that I never saw him so animated 
and eloquent as he was at that dinner and on that evening. 
Towards the end he entirely monopolized the conversa- 
tion, and read us whole lectures on Foreign and Home 
politics. Two years of " leader " writing on every con- 
ceivable kind of question had made him capable of talking 
with absolute freedom on all those matters about which 
Helfreich and I, engaged in our studies, knew little. 

" Simon Ivanovich," said I, when Bezsonow left, " I 
am sure Bezsonow knows Nadejda Nicolaievna's sur- 
name." 

" How do you know ?" inquired Helfreich. 
I told him of what had happened before he came in. 
" Why did you not ask him ? But I understand, I 
know myself. ..." 

Why, indeed, had I not asked Bezsonow ? Even now 
I cannot answer that question. Then I knew nothing of 
the relations between him and Nadejda Nicolaievna ; 



196 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

but even then an uncomfortable premonition filled me 
of something unusual and mysterious which was to take 
place between these two persons. I wanted to stop 
Bezsonow in his impassioned speech about opportunism ; 
I wanted to interrupt his dissertation as to whether 
capitalism was spreading in Russia or not, but every time 
the word died away on my tongue. 

I told Helfreich this. I told him that I did not myself 
know what it was which prevented me from talking of her. 
There was something between them. I did not know 
what. . . . 

Senichka said nothing as he paced the room ; then, 
going up to the dark window and gazing into the black 
space, replied : 

" But I know. He despised her, and now he is be- 
ginning to love her. Because, you see. ... Oh ! what a 
hard, egotistical and jealous heart this man has, Andrei !" 
he exclaimed, turning towards me and waving his arms. 
" Beware, Andrei ! . . ." 

Jealous heart ? Jealous. ... Of what can it be 
jealous ? 

XI 

From the Diary of Bezsonow. — Yesterday Lopatin and 
Helfreich met with me Nadia. Against my wish they 
became acquainted. This morning I went to Lopatin, 
and tried to stop their coming together, but could do 
nothing. They will see each other, will sit together for 
several hours every day, and I know how it will end. 

I am trying hard to answer the question why I am 
taking such an interest in all this ? Is it not all the 
same to me ? Granted that I have known Lopatin many 
years, and sincerely sympathize with this talented youth. 
I do not wish him ill, but an intimacy with a fallen 
woman, who has passed through fire and water, is — a 
catastrophe, especially for such a pure nature as his. 
I have known this woman, comparatively speaking, for 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 197 

a long time. I knew her when she was already what she 
is. I must confess to myself that there was a time when 
I had a feeling for her, and when I was attracted by her 
not altogether ordinary appearance and, as I thought, 
her uncommon personality. I thought of her more than 
I should have done. But I quickly conquered myself. 
Knowing already for a long time that it is easier ** for a 
camel to go through the eye of a needle " than for a 
woman who has tasted of this poison to return to a normal 
and honourable life, and watching the woman myself, 
I convinced myself that there were no guarantees in her 
that could make her an exception to the general rule, 
and with sorrow at heart I decided to leave her to her 
fate. Nevertheless, I continued to see her. I shall 
never forgive myself for the mistake I made that evening 
when Lopatin came to complain of his failure. I made 
a blunder when I told him that I knew of somebody who 
would make a good model. I do not understand why 
Helfreich never mentioned this to him. He has known 
her as long, if not longer, than I have. 

My indiscretion and garrulity to-day have ruined the 
whole affair. I should have been milder. I even drew 
this soft-hearted man out of himself. He seized a kind 
of lance and drove it into the floor with such force that 
the window-panes rattled and I, seeing that he was 
irritated to the last degree, had to leave. 

I have not seen Lopatin for several days. Yesterday 
I met Helfreich in the street and cautiously led the con- 
versation on to his friend. 

She goes there every day ; the picture is progressing 
rapidly. How does she behave ? Modestly, with 
dignity. Never says a word. Dresses in black, and 
poorly. Takes money for her sittings. Well, and 
Lopatin is very pleased at having found such a model. 
At first he was very lively, but now he is inclined to be 
thoughtful. 

" I do not know, Bezsonow, why you are so interested 



198 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

in all this," said the hunchback to me in conclusion. 
" You have never done anything for this woman, and there 
was a time when you could have easily saved her. . . . 
Now, of course, it is too late . . . that is too late for 
you " 

Too late for you ! . . . Too late for you ! . . . What 
did he mean to say by this ? Was it not that, if too late 
for me, it is not too late for his friend ? Fools ! 

Nonsense ! And this Helfreich, who considers himself 
his friend, who knows better than I Lopatin's relations 
with his cousin-fiancee — and yet cannot he understand 
what troubles they are preparing ? They will not save 
this woman. Lopatin will break a loving girl's heart 
and his own. 

I feel that I must, that I am in duty bound to do 
something. I will go to Lopatin to-morrow, and try 
to prove to him how far he has gone. And to-day I 
will go to her. 

I have been, but did not find her in. She has gone no 
one knows where. They told me she had sold all her 
clothes. I tried to find her, but, notwithstanding the 
Inquiry Bureau and the efforts of the dvorniks, I could 
not find a trace of her. To-morrow I will go and see 
Lopatin. 

I must abandon my former tactics. I have made a 
mistake with Lopatin. I thought from his softness of 
manner that I could adopt an authoritative tone with 
him. I must say that our former relations to a certain 
degree justified this opinion. I must, without touching 
him, work on this woman. There was a time she seemed 
to be a little interested in me. I think that if I make a 
certain amount of effort I shall separate them. Perhaps 
I shall reawaken in her the old feeling, and she will come 
to me ! 

Courting Nadejda Nicolaievna ! The idea is a wild 
one, even to myself, but I will not stop before it. I feel 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 199 

that I have no right to permit the fall of Lopatin and 

the ruin of his whole life. 

This woman is laughing at me. I appealed to her 
with all the tenderness of which I am capable. I even, 
perhaps, spoke with her in a manner humiliating to 
myself, but she went off only saying insulting, contemp- 
tuous words. 

She has changed marvellously. Her pale face has 
taken on a certain impression of dignity not at all in 
keeping with her " calling." She is modest and at the 
same time apparently proud. Of what is she proud ? 
Looking intently at Lopatin's face, I thought I should 
read there the story of his relations towards her, but I can 
see nothing in particular. He is somewhat agitated, but 
apparently only about his picture. It will be a magnifi- 
cent bit of work. She stands on the canvas as if alive. 

I hid my rage, and, not showing that I felt insulted, 
remained with Lopatin and Helfreich. We talked, and 
they listened attentively to my opinions on various 
matters in which I am at present engaged. 

But what is to be done ? Let the matter go as it is ? 
Once I gave Lopatin my word not to drag his cousin, 
Sophy Michailovna, into this business. Of course I must 
keep my promise. But may I not write to my mother ? 
She sees Sophy Michailovna, although not often, and can 
tell her. I shall not be breaking my word, and at the 
same time. . . . 

No, and such a matter as this cannot be left to run its 
own course. I have no right to do so. I will compel this 
woman, no matter what the cost, to give up her prey. . . . 
It is only necessary to find out where she lives. Then I 
will talk with her . . . and now I will leave all this and 
go on with my work. In the empty and colourless 
grinding mill we call life there is only one real absolute 
happiness — the satisfaction of the worker when buried 
in his labours. He forgets all the trivialities of life, and 



200 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

then, having completed his task, can say to himself with 
pride : " Yes, to-day I have done something beneficial 
and of use." 

XII 

Diary of Lopatin. — Six days have passed since the 
meeting between Bezsonow and Nadejda Nicolaievna, and 
she has not been. She merely wrote a few lines in which 
she begged me to excuse her, and mentioned something 
about some business. 

I showed the note to Helfreich, and we both decided 
that she is ill. We must find her at all costs. If we knew 
her name, we could find her address at an Inquiry Bureau, 
but neither I nor he knew it. It was useless to ask Bez- 
sonow. I was in despair, but Simon Ivanovich promised 
me to hunt her out " even if she were at the bottom of 
the sea." Getting up early the next morning, he dressed 
with as much care and determination as if he was starting 
on some dangerous expedition, and disappeared for the 
whole day. 

Left alone, I tried to work, but the work wouldn't go. 
I took a book from a shelf, and began to read. The words 
and ideas passed through my brain without conveying 
any impression. I made every effort to devote my whole 
attention, and yet could not get beyond a few pages. 

I shut the book — a clever and good book which a few 
days ago I had read, although with some difficulty, 
nevertheless with attraction and pleasure such as good 
reading always affords — and went out to stroll through 
the town. 

A half-conscious, vague hope of meeting, if not Nadejda 
Nicolaievna herself, at least someone who could give me 
a hint about her, was present the whole time, and all the 
time I looked closely at the passers-by, and several times 
crossed over to the other side of the street when I saw a 
woman at all reminding me of her in appearance. But I 
met no one except Captain Grum-Skjebitski about four 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 201 

o'clock (it was the end of December, and already dark), 
who was walking along the Nevsky Prospect with a stately 
air of importance. It was very warm for the time of 
the year. The Captain was walking along in quite a 
smart fur, unbuttoned and opened about the neck. A 
flowered-silk tie with a bright tie-pin showed out from 
the fur. The Captain's tall hat shone as if polished, 
and in his hand, encased in a fashionable yellow glove 
with broad black stripes, he carried a big ivory-headed 
cane. 

Seeing me, he smiled pleasantly in a patronizing way, 
and, making a gracious movement of the hand, came up 
to me. 

** Glad to see you. Monsieur Lopatin," said he. ''A 
very agreeable meeting." 

He pressed my hand, and, in reply to my question as 
to his health, continued : 

" Quite well, I thank you. Are you merely out for a 
stroll or hurrying somewhere ? If the former is the 
correct case, will you not walk a little with me ? I would 
willingly turn and go with you, but habit. Monsieur 
Lopatin ! I go for a walk daily, and take the Nevsky 
twice up and down. It is a law of mine." 

I wanted to return home, and so turned and went with 
the Captain. He carried on a dignified conversation. 

** This is the second pleasant rencontre to-day," said 
he. " I came across Mr. Bezsonow also on the Nevsky, 
and learnt that he is also a friend of yours." 

** Wonderful, Captain ! So you know Bezsonow, too ?" 

** Ask me whom I do not know !" replied the Captain, 
shrugging his shoulders. " When Mr. Bezsonow was a 
student he resided at my hotel. We were excellent 
friends, upon my word of honour. Who has not lived 
with me, Monsieur Lopatin ? Many now well-known 
engineers, jurists, and authors know the Captain — yes, 
very many famous people remember me." 

And with this the Captain politely bowed to someone 



202 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 



who passed by rapidly with a preoccupied clever face. A 
look of perplexity was followed by a smile and a friendly 
nod of the head. 

" He does not forget old friends, although he is now of 
high rank. That gentleman, Monsieur Lopatin, is the 
famous engineer, Petritseff. Also lived as student with 
me." 

" And Bezsonow ?" I inquired. 

" Bezsonow is a very nice gentleman. Has a certain 
weakness for Us heaux yeux of the fair sex ..." added 
the Captain, stooping towards my ear. 

I felt my heart beat faster. It struck me that the 
Captain must know something also of NadejdaNicolaievna. 

The Captain again bowed to some acquaintance, and 
continued : 

" Yes, if he had not been such a very nice young gentle- 
man, we should have quarrelled, Monsieur Lopatin ; but 
I remember my own youth ; besides, an old soldier even 
now is not indifferent to les heaux yeux." 

He gave me a sidelong glance and winked, whilst his 
shrivelled-up little eyes became somewhat oily. 

" Captain," I began, " I — I am very glad that you 
know Bezsonow. ... I, you understand, did not kno^ 
this." 

*' He only lived with me for a very short time." 

*' Was he acquainted . . ." 

I suddenly became ashamed of myself. Something helc 
my tongue, ready to utter the name of Nadejda Nico- 
laievna. I looked at the Captain. His eyes, which hac' 
suddenly changed their expression, were fixed intentl^ 
on me. At this moment he resembled a vulture. 

** But you probably do not know. Forgive me," 
finished confusedly. 

He looked at me, assumed a most unconcerned air, anc 
flourished his stick. 

" Yes, an old soldier has something to remember . 
he continued, as if I had asked him nothing. " I am ii 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 203 

my sixtieth/' he added, mournfully shaking his head. 
*' I must confess that I envy you, Monsieur Lopatin, but 
only your youth/' 

" Where did you serve. Captain ?" I inquired, remem- 
bering Helfreich's words. 

The Captain once more became quite changed. His 
face became preternaturally serious. He glanced to the 
right and left, looked behind him, and, bending down so 
close that his moustache even brushed against my ear, 
whispered : 

" Between ourselves, as gentlemen ! You see before 
you, Monsieur Lopatin, a warrior of Miekoff and Opatoff." 
And he stepped back a pace and looked at me in a manner 
which seemed to demand astonishment on my part. I 
made an effort to assume an expression suitable to the 
occasion. 

" This is the secret which I confide only to my most 
intimate friends ..." added the Captain, as again he 
bent down and again jumped back from me, regarding 
me with a triumphant look. 

There was nothing left but to thank him for his con- 
fidence, and part as we had reached the " Police " bridge. 

I was angry with myself. I had almost mentioned 
Nadejda Nicolaievna's name to this man, whom I did 
not trust in the least. 

When I arrived home, Alexeievna informed me that 
" our cat man " had not yet returned. She served dinner 
and stood at the door, her face expressing keenest sym- 
pathy at my lack of appetite. 

" What has happened, Andrei Nicolaievich, that she 
does not come ?" she asked. 

" She must be ill, Alexeievna." 

She shook her head, and, sighing deeply, went off to 
the kitchen to bring me my tea. It was long since I had 
dined without Helfreich, and I was very lonely. 



204 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 



XIII 

After dinner they brought me a letter from Sonia. 

I have never hid anything from her. When I die — 
which will be soon ; even now death is not creeping 
stealthily towards me, but is advancing with a firm tread, 
the sound of which I hear clearly on sleepless nights when 
I am feeling worse, when I am racked with pain, and the 
past comes up before me — when I die and she reads this 
diary, she will know that I have never, never lied to her. 
I have written to her all I have thought and felt, and only 
that which I have not myself suspected as being in my 
soul, or have not acknowledged even to myself, but per- 
haps vaguely felt, has not found a place in my long letters 
to her. 

But she understood me. Although but nineteen, her 
sensitive, loving soul understood what I did not dare to 
confess to myself, what I have never once said to myself 
in actual words. 

" You love her, Andrei. God grant you happiness. ..." 

I could not read further. A gigantic wave surged 
over me, overwhelmed me, and almost deprived me of 
consciousness. I leant back in the chair, and, holding 
the letter in my hand long, sat there motionless and with 
closed eyes, conscious only of this wave which was roaring 
and surging in my soul. 

It was true. I loved her. I had not experienced this 
feeling up till now. I had described my attachment to 
my cousin as love. I was prepared in the course of a 
few years to become her husband, and perhaps should have 
been happy with her ; I should not have believed it had 
anyone told me that I could love another woman. It 
seemed to me that my fate had been settled. *' Here is 
thy wife," had said the Lord to me, " and thou shalt have 
none other." And in this I concurred, undisturbed for 
the future, and assured in my choice. To love another 



. NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 205 

woman seemed to me an unnecessary and unworthy 
caprice. 

And then came this strange, unhapp}^ being, with her 
broken life and all her suffering in her eyes. Pity first 
possessed me ; indignation against the man who had ex- 
pressed his contempt for her made me still more inclined 
to take her part, and then . . . Then, I do not know 
how it happened . . . but Sonia was right. I loved her 
with the distraction and passion of the first love of a man 
who has reached twenty-five years of age without knowing 
love. I longed to snatch her from the horrors which were 
tormenting her, to take her in my arms somewhere far, 
far away, to fondle and press her to my heart, so that 
she might forget, so as to bring a smile on her suffering 
face. . . . And Sonia had said all this in one line of her 
letter. . . . 

" Do not think of me. I do not want to say, forget 
me entirely, but only that you should not think of my 
suffering. I will not commence to complain of a broken 
heart — and do you know why ? Because it is not at 
all broken. I have been accustomed to look upon you 
as a brother and future husband. The first was real ; the 
second, I think, people thought of and arranged for us. 
I love you above all others in this world. I need not 
have written this, because you yourself know it, but when 
I read your last three letters and told myself the truth 
about you and Nadejda Nicolaievna — believe me, dear, 
I experienced not one atom of grief. I understood that 
I am a sister for you, and not a wife ; I understood this 
from my own joy at your happiness — joy mingled with 
fear for you. I do not hide this fear, but God grant that 
you may save her, and be happy, and make her happy. 

" From what you have written me of Nadejda Nico- 
laievna, I think she is worthy of your love. ..." 

I read these lines, and a new joyous feeling gradually 
took possession of me. I did not share Soma's fears. 
What and why should I fear ? How or when this hap- 



2o6 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

pened I do not know, but I believe in Nadejda Nicolaievna. 
All her past life, of which I did not know, her fall — the 
only thing I knew of in her life — appeared to me as some 
accident, unreal, some mistake of Fate, for which Nadejda 
Nicolaievna was not herself to blame. Something had 
rushed at her, surrounded her, knocked her off her feet, 
and thrown her in the mud, and I would lift her out of 
this mire, would clasp her to my heart, and there calm 
this life so full of suffering. 

A sudden furious ring made me jump, I do not know 
why, and not waiting for Alexeievna, shuffling along in 
her slippers to open the door, I rushed to it and pushed 
back the bolt. The door flew open, and Simon Ivano- 
vich seized me with both hands, danced about, and cried 
out in a radiant, squeaky voice : 

" Andrei, I have brought her, have brought her, brought 
her! . . ." 

Behind him stood a dark figure. I rushed to her, 
seized her trembling hands, and commenced to kiss them 
madly, not listening to what she was saying in an agitated 
voice as she strove to restrain her sobbing. 



XIV 

We three long sat together on that, for me, memorable 
evening. We talked, joked, laughed ; Nadejda Nicolai- 
evna was calm, and even merry. I did not ask Helfreich 
where and how he found her, and he himself did not say 
a word about it. Between us nothing was said which 
hinted at what I had thought and felt before her arrival. 
I cannot say it was modesty or indecision on my part 
which kept me silent. It was simply I felt it unnecessary 
and superfluous. I feared to alarm her wounded soul. I 
had never been so talkative and merry. Helfreich dis- 
played a kind of noisy enthusiasm, appeared radiant, 
chattered without ceasing, and sometimes compelled 
Nadejda Nicolaievna to laugh at his sallies. Alexeievna 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 207 

laid the cloth and brought in the samovar. When she 
had done so she stood in the doorway, and, resting one 
cheek on her hand, she looked at us all for a few minutes, 
and at Nadejda Nicolaievna, as she made the tea and did 
the hostess. 

" Do you want anything, Alexeievna ?" I asked. 

*' Nothing, my dear ; I only want to look at you . . . 
and you are offended !'' she said. " An old woman may 
not even stand for a minute. I was looking to see how 
the young lady would act as mistress. She does it very 
well." 

Nadejda Nicolaievna bowed her head. 

*' See how well. Formerly only men came to you, who 
poured out the tea and did everything. Excuse me for 
saying so, Andrei Nicolaievich, but even I, to tell you the 
truth, missed there being no woman about.'' 

She turned, and with short steps went along the passage. 
Our gaiety came to an end. Nadejda Nicolaievna got 
up and commenced to pace the room. My picture stood 
in the corner. These last several days I had not gone 
near it, and the colours had dried. Nadejda Nicolaievna 
looked at the picture for some time, and then, turning to 
me, said with a smile : 

" Well, now we shall soon finish it. I will not give 
you any more of these breaks. It will be ready long 
before the Exhibition opens.'' 

*' How like you it is !" broke in Senichka. 

She suddenly stopped still, as if some sudden thought 
prevented her speaking, and, with a frown on her face, 
went away from the picture. 

" Nadejda Nicolaievna, what is the matter ? Frowning 
again ?" I said. 

" Nothing in particular, Andrei Nicolaievich. ... I 
really am very like this picture. It has come into my 
mind that many will recognize me — too many. ... I 
can see how it will be. . . ." 

She sighed, and the tears welled in her eyes. 



2o8 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

*' I am thinking of how many stories, questions, you 
will have to hear," she continued. " Who is she ? Where 
did he find her ? And even people who know will ask 
who I am, where did I come from. ..." 

" Nadejda Nicolaievna. . . ." 

** You have not been ashamed of me. Andrei Nicolaie- 
vich, you and dear old Senichka ; you have treated me as 
a human being. . . . The first time for three years. 
And I could not believe it. Do you know why I left you ? 
I thought (forgive me for thinking it) — I thought that you 
were like the rest. 

" The picture was coming to an end ; you had been 
polite and delicate with me, and I have got unaccustomed 
to such treatment, and did not trust myself. I did not 
wish to get a blow, because the blow would have been 
very painful, very painful to me. ..." 

She sat down in a big arm-chair, and pressed her hand- 
kerchief to her eyes. . . . 

** Forgive me," she continued. " I did not trust you, 
and waited with terror for the moment when you would 
look upon me in the way to which I have become too 
accustomed during these last three years, because during 
these three j^ears no one has looked at me in any other 
way. . . ." 

She stopped ; her face twitched spasmodically, and her 
lips trembled. She gazed into the far corner of the room 
as if she saw something there. 

" There was one, only one, who looked at me not like 
all those . . . and not like you. . . . But I . . ." 

I and Helfreich listened to her with bated breath. 

" But I killed him. ..." she said in a scarcely audible 
tone, and a terrible access of despair seized her. A wail 
burst from her tortured breast, and a heart-rending, child- 
like sobbing resounded through the room. 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 209 



XV 

From the Diary of Bezsonow. — I am waiting to see what 
will happen. I was there the other day, and saw them 
together. All the strength of will I possess was insuffi- 
cient to enable me to continue wearing my mask of in- 
difference and politeness. I felt that had I stayed there 
another quarter of an hour I should have thrown it off 
and revealed my true self. It is impossible to recognize 
this woman. I have known her for three years, and have 
become accustomed to see her as she has been these three 
years. Now I see the change which has taken place in 
her, and I do not understand her, and do not know whether 
this change is genuine, or whether it is only a role being 
played by one accustomed to deceive herself and other 
contemptible beings. 

I do not in the least understand their relations. I do 
not even know whether she has become his mistress. 
For some reason I do not think so, and if I am right she 
is more clever than I thought. What is her object ? To 
become his wife ? 

I have read over these lines, and I see that all I have 
written is incorrect, except that she has altered. I myself 
three years ago saw something unusual in her, rarely met 
amongst women in her position. I myself almost took 
on the role of rescuer which Lopatin is now magnani- 
mously playing. But I was more experienced then than 
she is now. I knew that nothing would come of it, and 
gave it up without even trying to do anything. Her 
character, besides the ordinary obstacles in this respect, 
possessed one peculiarity — her fearful stubbornness and 
impudence. I saw that she would wash her hands of 
everything, and oppose my first attempt, and I did not 
make this attempt. 

Has Lopatin made it ? I do not know. I only see 
that it is impossible to recognize this woman. I know 

14 



210 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

for certain that she has abandoned her former mode of 
Hfe. She has gone to some little room into which she does 
not allow either Helfreich or her rescuer to enter. She 
sits for him, and, in addition, does sewing. She lives 
very poorly. She is like the drunkard who has signed 
the pledge. Will she keep it ? Will this sentimental 
artist, who has not seen life and knows nothing of it, help 
her to keep it ? 

Yesterday I wrote mother a long letter. She is sure to 
do all, as I imagine she will — women love to meddle in 
such affairs — and will tell everything to Sophy Michail- 
ovna. Perhaps that will save him. 

Save him ! Why should I worry about his salvation ? 
It is the first time in my life that I have concerned myself 
so deeply in other people's affairs. Is it not all the same 
to me what Lopatin does with this woman, whether he 
drags her out of the mire or sinks into it with her, and, 
in fruitless attempts, undoes his own life and casts aside 
his talents ? 

I am not accustomed to indulge in reflections or to dig 
into my soul ; for the first time in my life I have been 
looking deeply into it and analyzing my feelings in 
detail. I do not understand what is taking place within 
me now, and what is compelling me to rouse myself. I 
thought (and now think) that it was only a disinterested 
desire to avert a great calamity from a man whom I like. 
. . . But upon analyzing my thoughts I see it is not 
altogether that. Why, in working to save him, do I think 
more of her ? Why is it her face, once brazen and im- 
pudent, but now downcast and tender, which rises before 
me every minute ? Why does she and not he fill my soul 
with a strange feeling which I cannot define, but in which 
unkind feelings predominate ? Perhaps it is true that it 
is not so much that I wish to do him good as to do her . . . 

What ? Harm ? No, I do not wish to do her harm, 
and yet I would like to tear her from him, to deprive her 
of his protection, in which lies, perhaps, her sole hope. 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 211 

. . . Oh, surely it is not that I would like to stand in 
Lopatin's place ! 

I must see her to-day. This business won't let me work 
or live in peace. My work is being neglected, and these 
last two weeks I have not done as much as formerly I 
used to do in two days. I must put an end to it some- 
how, come to an understanding, and explain all to 
myself . . . and afterwards what ? 

Give her up ? Never ! All my pride rebels at the mere 
thought. I found her. I could have saved her, and 
would not. Now I would. 



XVI 

Diary of Lopatin. — Helfreich ran for the doctor who 
lived on the same landing as ourselves. I brought water, 
and she quickly got over her hysterics. Nadejda Nicolai- 
evna sat in a corner of the sofa to which I and Helfreich 
had carried her, and only now and then quietly sobbing. 
I was afraid of upsetting her, and went into the next room. 

Unable to find the doctor, Simon Ivanovich came back, 
and found her already quiet. 

She decided to go home, and he declared his intention of 
escorting her. She pressed my hand, looking straight 
into my eyes with her own full of tears, and I noted a kind 
of timid expression of gratitude on her face. 

A week, another, a month passed. Our sittings con- 
tinued. To tell the truth, I tried to draw them out. I 
do not know if she understood that I was doing it inten- 
tionally. I only know that she constantly hurried me 
on. She became much calmer, and occasionally, but 
rarely, was quite bright. 

She told me her whole history. For a long time I 
wondered whether I would write it here or not. And I 
have decided to say nothing of it. Who knows into what 
hands this diary may fall ? If I could know for certain 
that only Sonia and Helfreich would read it, I should not 



212 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

talk of Nadejda Nicolaievna's past. They both know it 
well. I, as of old, have hid nothing from my cousin, and 
in my letters have written her the whole of Nadejda 
Nicolaievna's long and bitter story. Helfreich heard it all 
from her herself. Consequently her history in my diary 
is not necessary for him. As for others ... I do not 
want others to judge her. She told me her whole life. I 
w^as her judge, and forgave her all which, in the opinion of 
men, required forgiveness. I listened to her painful con- 
fession and narrative of her misfortunes, the most dread- 
ful misfortunes, such as only a woman can experience, 
and it was not accusation which stirred in my soul, but 
the shame and humiliating feeling of a man who feels 
himself guilty of the evil about which they are speaking 
to him. The last episode in her history filled me with 
horror and pity. Her words the evening that Helfreich 
found her were no empty ones. She really had killed a 
man unintentionally. He had wished to save her, but 
could not. His weak hands were not strong enough to 
restrain her from the brink of the abyss, and, unable to 
restrain her, he had hurled himself instead into the pit. 
He shot himself. Dry-eyed and with a kind of set deter- 
mination, she related to me the whole of this awful his- 
tory, and I long thought over it. Can her crushed heart 
come once more to life ? Can such terrible wounds heal ? 
They did apparently heal. She became gradually 
calmer and calmer, and a smile was no longer a rarity. 
She used to come to me every day, and stayed to dinner. 
After dinner we three used to sit together for hours, and 
whatever the subject of conversation between Helfreich 
and myself, Nadejda Nicolaievna only occasionally put 
in a word. 

I well remember one of these talks. Helfreich, without 
giving up his cats, had begun seriously to paint studies. 
Once he confessed that he was working so hard only 
because he had thought out a picture which he intended 
to paint, " perhaps in five, perhaps in ten years' time." 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 213 

" Why so far ahead, Senichka ?" I asked, with an in- 
voluntary smile at the important way in which he had 
announced his intention. 

"Because it is a serious subject — a matter of life, 
Andrei. Do you think that only tall people with straight 
backs and chests can think out serious subjects ? Oh, 
you conceited hop-poles ! Believe me," continued he, 
with an air of assumed importance, " that between these 
humps of mine great ideas can reside, and in this long 
box (he struck himself on the head) great ideas are born." 

" This great idea — is it a secret ?" inquired Nadejda 
Nicolaievna. 

He looked at us both, and after a moment's pause said : 

" No, it is not a secret. I will tell you. I have had 
this idea for a long time. Listen. Once upon a time 
Vladimir (Krasnoe Solnishko) became angry at the bold 
words of Ilia Murometz. He ordered him to be seized, 
taken away, and locked up in a deep vault, which was to 
be covered up with earth. They led the old Cossack away 
to death. But, as alwa3^s happens, the Princess Evprak- 
seiushka at that moment became " wise." She found out 
a way to Ilia, and used to send him bread each day, and 
water, and wax candles by the light of which to read the 
Gospel. And she sent him the Gospels." 

Senichka stopped and thought, and was silent for so 
long that at length I said : 

" Well, Simon Ivanovich ?" 

" Well, that's all. Of course, the Prince soon wanted 
the old Cossack. The Tatars came, and there was no 
one to save Kieff. Then Vladimir was sorry, bitterly 
regretted. Then Evprakseiushka sent people straight- 
way to the deep vaults, and led out Ilia by the hand. 
Ilia did not bear malice, sat on a steed, and so on, 
routed the Tatars — and that's all." 

" But where's the picture, Simon Ivanovich ?" 

Simon looked at me with an expression of exaggerated 
astonishment, and threw up his arms. 



214 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

** Artist ! Oh, artist ! Oh, Lopatin, Andrei Lopatin ■ 
There are thirty, three hundred, three thousand pictures, 
if you want them, but I shall choose one only, and shall 
paint it. I shall die, but I shall paint it first ! Cannot 
you see him sitting in the vault ? Can you not see it as 
if real ? Listen ! the cave, vault, generally a burrow of 
some kind like the Kieff caves. The narrow approaches 
and the small niche in the wall. The dust and mildew, 
frightening and fantastic in the light of the wax candle. 
And Ilia sits on the steps, before him a desk, and on the 
desk there lies an old sacred book with thick, warped, 
yellowing leaves of parchment, inscribed with letters of 
black and red. The old Cossack is sitting in a shirt only, 
and is reading attentively, turning over the rebellious 
leaves of the book with his big, uncouth peasant's hands, 
accustomed to the campaign and lance, to the sword and 
to the cudgel. These hands have laboured much, and, 
from the hard work which they have performed all his 
life, they are tremulous, and with difficulty turn over 
the leaves of the sacred book. . . . Eh, my friend," 
suddenly said Helfreich in the middle of all this, " only 
one calamity : there were no such things as spectacles at 
that time. If there had been, Evprakseiushka would 
undoubtedly have sent him spectacles — huge round ones 
with silver rims. Perhaps he was long-sighted from life 
on the steppe ? What do you think ?" 

We both laughed. Helfreich looked at us, surprised, 
and then, as if understanding why we laughed, himself 
smiled. But the solemn spirit of his narrative again took 
hold of him, and he continued. 

" I will not begin to tell you what his eyes were like ; 
that will be hardest of all to paint. But I can see it all — 
his eyes and lips. And so he sits and reads. He has 
opened the book at the description of the Sermon on the 
Mount, and he reads how, having received a blow, it is 
necessary to turn the other cheek. He reads this, and 
does not understand. Ilia has worked without ceasing 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 215 

all his life. He has destroyed a mighty number of 
Pechenegs and Tatars and brigands. He has conquered 
many knights of old. He has passed a century in valorous 
deeds and in artifices, so that evil should not befall 
Christianized Russ, and he believed in Christ, and prayed 
to Him, and believed that he was fulfilling Christ's 
teaching. He did not know what was written in the 
book. And now he sits and ponders. ' " Whosoever shall 
smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." 
How can this be ? O Lord ! is it good if they shall strike 
me, insult a woman, or touch a child, or if the pagans 
shall come and commence to rob and kill Thy servants, 
O Lord ? Not to touch them ! To let them kill and 
plunder ? No, Lord, I cannot obey Thee. I will get 
astride a steed, lance in hand, and will go out to fight in 
Thy name, because I do not understand Thy wisdom. 
Thou hast put a voice into my soul, and I listen to it, and 
not to Thee ! . . .' And his hand trembles, and the 
yellow page with its red and black lettering trembles in it. 
The candle burns dimly ; above it a thin black streak 
rising from the wick vanishes into the darkness, and only 
Ilia and his book — only these two are lighted by this 
light. ..." 

Simon Ivanovich stopped and pondered, having thrown 
himself back into his chair with his eyes raised to the 
ceiling. 

" Yes," I said, after a long silence, " it is a good picture, 
Senichka. Only it is easier to narrate than to paint in 
oils on a canvas. How will you express all this ?" 

*' I will, without a doubt ; I will do this — all this," 
Senichka cried with warmth. " Yes, I will paint it. I 
will put this note of interrogation. Ilia and the Gospel ! 
What is there common between them ? For this book 
there is no greater sin than murder, and Ilia has killed 
all his life, and journeys on his war-steed all hung around 
with weapons of slaughter — not murder, but execution, 
because he executes. And when this arsenal is insuffi- 



2i6 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

cient, or he has not got it with him, he puts sand in his 
cap, and uses that as a weapon. And he is a saint. I 
saw him in Kieff. ... He hes amongst them all, and 
justly so." 

" That is all right, Senichka, but I cannot help saying 
the paints will not express all this." 

" Why not ? Bosh ! And even if they do not, what 
harm ? They will ask the question. . . . But wait, 
wait a minute," broke in Senichka excitedly, seeing I 
wanted to say something. " You will say that the ques- 
tion is already put ? Quite true ! But that is little. It 
is necessary to put it every day, every hour, every second. 
People must not be allowed peace. And if I think that I 
shall succeed in making even ten people think of this 
question, I must paint this picture. I have long thought 
of it, but all these have prevented me." 

And he leant forward, and, bending down, picked up 
the ginger cat, which was sitting on the carpet near him, 
and had seemingly listened attentively to his speech, and 
placed it on his knee. 

" Would you not surely do the same ?" continued 
Senichka. " Your picture, surely, is it not the same 
question ? Do you really know if this woman did right ? 
You will make people think — that's the whole point. 
And, apart from the sesthetic feeling which every picture 
arouses, and which of itself is not worth much — is not 
this the idea which animates our work ?" 

" Simon Ivanovich, my dear fellow," said Nadejda 
Nicolaievna suddenly, " I never saw you like this before. 
I always knew that you had a most kind heart, but ..." 

" But you thought that I was a fool of a hunchback ? 
Do you remember you called me that once ?" 

He looked at her, and, perhaps seeing the shadow on her 
face, added : 

" Forgive me for recalling that. Those years must be 
wiped out of memory. All will go well. It is true, 
Andrei, is it not ? All will go well ? 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 217 

I nodded my head. I was very happy then : I saw 
that Nadejda Nicolaievna was little by little becoming 
calmer, and — who knows ? — perhaps her life for the last 
three years will become for her nothing more than a dis- 
tant recollection, not of years lived through, but only a 
vague and distressing dream, after which, having opened 
her eyes and seeing that the night is quiet and that all is 
as usual in the room, she rejoices that it was only a dream. 



XVII 

The winter passed. The sun rose higher and higher in 
the heavens, and with ever-increasing strength warmed 
the streets and roofs of St. Petersburg. Everywhere 
water was pouring down all the spouts ; bits of ice with 
the noise of thunder came jumping out of them on to the 
pavements, or into the buckets put to catch them ; 
droshkies appeared rattling along the roads, now bare of 
snow in places, with a familiar but strangely new sound 
to the ear. 

I have finished my picture. A few more sittings, and 
it will be possible to take it to the Academy before the 
Court of Exhibition experts. Helfreich has congratulated 
me already on my success. Nadejda Nicolaievna is de- 
lighted. Looking at the picture and at her face, I often 
see an up to this time unfamiliar expression on it of quiet 
satisfaction. Sometimes she has been even gay, and has 
joked — for the most part with Senichka, who is engrossed 
in the reading of numerous books which he says he must 
read for his picture, in looking at albums, at all sorts of 
antiquities, and in studying the Gospels. His cats have 
gone. Only the faithful ginger cat has stayed on, and 
even he lives in peace, almost undisturbed by his master, 
and uncalled upon to act as a model. Since our conversa- 
tion about Ilia Murometz, Simon Ivanovich has only 
painted one cat picture, and, having sold it for a hundred 
and fifty roubles, considers himself assured of money for 



2i8 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

a long time — the more so that he, to my great astonish- 
ment, is not the least embarrassed with his long stay in 
my flat, where living costs him nothing. 

We three spent almost all our spare time together. Hel- 
freich managed to get Nadejda Nicolaievna an enormous 
manuscript containing a scheme by some important person 
— a scheme by which Russia must be loaded with benefits 
in a very short time — and she has copied it out in a 
dainty large hand. As this benefiting of Russia de- 
manded a large amount of thinking, the scheme has been 
amended and supplemented without end, and, it seems, 
has not even now been completed. Somebody is prob- 
ably copying it now after Nadejda Nicolaievna ! 

At any rate, she had a little money. What she earned 
by copying, and the money she received from me for her 
sittings, sufficed her. She lived in the same little room 
to which she had changed when she hid from us. It was 
a narrow, low room, with one window looking out on to 
a blank wall. A bedstead, chest of drawers, two chairs, 
and a card-table, which did duty as a writing and dining 
table, made up its furniture. When we used to go and 
see her, Senichka would go to the kitchen and beg a 
stool for himself from the landlady. But we seldom 
visited her. The room, which nothing could induce 
Nadejda Nicolaievna to leave, was uninviting and gloomy, 
and we seldom went there. For the most part, we for- 
gathered in my rooms, which were spacious and light. 

I never once spoke to her of what was passing in my 
mind. I was calm and happy in the present. I under- 
stood that any incautious reference to her, perhaps still 
open, spiritual wounds would reflect painfully on her. I 
might lose her for ever if I insisted now in carrying out 
my secret idea, wish, and hope. Perhaps I could not 
have behaved so quietly and restrained myself so long 
had not this hope been so strong. I firmly believed that 
after another six months, a year, or even two (I was not 
afraid of time), when she had become calm and restored 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 219 

to health, she would see around her a firm support on 
which she could lean and would become mine for life. I 
even did not hope, I actually knew she would be my wife. 

I do not know if she used to see Bezsonow. . . . He 
came occasionally to me, upsetting our tranquillity and 
introducing an awkwardness into our conversation. 
Apparently he was calm, and looked upon Nadejda Nico- 
laievna with indifference. She did not talk to him, 
although she answered his questions and listened to his 
long dissertations on the most varied subjects. He was 
very well read and spoke well. Somehow it seemed to me 
that he was so talkative and instructive in order to hide 
from us something concealed behind the flow of speech 
which would not give him peace. Subsequently I knew 
that this was so, and that under his outward calm he was 
hiding the mortal ulcer which was killing him, just as 
that French priest of reputed invulnerability used to wear 
a red cloak in battles, so that the blood which used to 
pour from his wounds should not be seen. But when I 
found this out it was already too late. 

For some reason he again went to live with the Captain. 
I went there once. His new room, like his old one, was 
all littered with books, newspapers, and papers, but it 
seemed to me that they all lay in great disorder and 
covered with dust, as if it was long since anyone had 
put a finger to work. I felt an intruder, and decided not 
to go any more to him. I asked him, by the way, whether 
he knew anything of the Captain, and was it true that he 
was a " hero of Miekoff and Opatoff." 

" He is inventing," said Bezsonow. " He is really half 
a Pole. He became Orthodox long ago. I think he 
simply wishes to impress young fellows when he discloses 
this sham secret." 

I came away from Bezsonow. Soon afterwards two 
incidents opened my eyes to his behaviour. 

First, Sonia wrote me a letter describing the plot be- 
tween Bezsonow and his mother. The old lady used some- 



220 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

times to go to the Institute on visiting days, remembering 
the interest which Sonia's mother had taken in her and her 
son. According to my cousin, on this occasion she arrived 
in an agitated and mysterious state, and, after a few 
preHminary remarks, disclosed the reason of her visit. 
Serge VassiHvich had written to her all details of what 
was happening. He could not find words with which 
to paint the position of affairs as black as he wished. He 
had not asked his mother to inform Sonia of the contents 
of the letter, but the old woman herself, out of a feeling of 
gratitude, had decided to come and tell her everything 
in order to warn her so that she might act whilst it was 
yet possible to save me. The old lady was very surprised 
when she found out my cousin knew all. She was much 
upset. She, as an old woman, was ashamed to talk of 
such things to a young girl still at an Institute, but 
what was to be done ? The unhappy Andrusha must be 
saved at all costs. If she were Sonia, she would leave 
the Institute at once and go to St. Petersburg in order 
to open my eyes. 

" Serge VassiHvich," wrote Sonia, " is playing some 
strange part in all this story. I do not believe he wrote 
all this to his mother without knowing that she would 
infallibly tell me all ; and, I will go further, he hoped she 
would tell me. 

" I will come to St. Petersburg, but only after the ex- 
aminations. If you are agreeable, we will pass the 
summer somewhere together in a dacha, and I will do a 
little work, so that it will not be too hard for me when I 
begin my studies." 

This letter upset me, but when I received a second long 
anonymous epistle, it was more than I could stand. 

In high-fiown, florid sentences, the anonymous author 
warned me against the doleful fate of all young people 
who give themselves up blindly to their passions, not 
discriminating between the qualities and deficiencies of 
the being with whom they are intending to enter into 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 221 

alliance — " the fetters of which are light and unnoticeable 
at the commencement, but which subsequently become 
converted into a heavy chain resembling that which un- 
fortunate galley-slaves drag." This was the style in 
which the unknown author of the latter expressed him- 
self. " Believe the kindly meant word of an older and 
more experienced man, Mr. Lopatin.'' Then followed a 
whole indictment against " Nadejda," whose soul was 
characterized as " booty for the stove " (an expression 
from which I conclusively recognized the hand of the 
Captain). She was accused of a long life of vice which 
she could have left had she chosen, " because she has 
relatives, albeit very distant ones, who — I am convinced 
of this — would have rescued her from her fallen social 
position ; but her natural bent is vicious ; she preferred 
to wallow in the mire from which you, in vain hope to 
save her, and into which, without doubt, you will yourself 
fall, and lose your life and wonderful talent." She was 
accused of the murder of a man, " also very correct, not 
distinguished by talents such as you possess, but a first- 
rate man, receiving fifty roubles a month salary, and 
having a prospective increase of salary which would have 
been sufficient for both to live on, because what could 
such a creature as this contemptible being rely on ? 
However, her nature was such that she preferred to reject 
the marriage offers of this young man, Mr. Nikitin, so 
as to be free to continue her vile life." 

The letter was a very long one, and before I came to its 
end I had thrown it into the stove. That Bezsonow had 
had a share in this appeared to me undoubted. Why 
otherwise should the Captain bother about my soul's sal- 
vation ? All the blood rushed to my head, and my first 
impulse was to rush to Bezsonow. I do not know what 
I should have done to him. I did not bother about the 
Captain. This renegade hiding his treason had been 
talked over, bought over with drink perhaps, or fright- 
ened into it by some means. I seized my hat, and was 



222 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

already at the door, when I recovered myself. It would 
be better to calm down, and then decide upon what to do. 
I decided in this sense, and, whilst waiting for Nadejda 
Nicolaievna, tried to paint in some of the accessories of 
the picture, thinking by this means to calm myself down 
for work, but my brush jumped about the canvas, and 
my eyes did not see the paints. I dressed so as to go out 
and get a breath of fresh air. As I opened the door, I 
found Nadejda Nicolaievna standing in front of me, pale, 
breathless, with a terrified expression in her wide-opened 
eyes. 

XVIII 

From Bezsonow's Diary. — Heartsick and longing ! This 
sickness of heart is persecuting me, no matter where I am 
or what I may do in order to forget, to appease it by some 
means or other. My eyes have at last opened. A month 
has gone by, and in this month all has been settled. What 
has become of my boasted philosophic tranquillity ? 
Where are my sleepless nights passed in work ? I, the 
same I who prided myself on possessing character in 
our characterless time, have been crushed and destroyed 
by the storm which has rushed on me. . . . What 
storm ? Is it really a storm ? I despise myself. I 
despise myself for my former pride, which did not prevent 
me from giving way to an empty passion. I despise 
myself for having allowed this devil in the shape of a 
woman to take possession of my soul. Yes, if I believed 
in the supernatural, I could in no other way explain what 
has happened. 

I have read over these lines. . . . What humihating, 
pitiful wails ! Oh, where art thou, my pride ? Where is 
that strength of will which made it possible for me to 
break myself, and live, not as life willed, but as I wished 
to live ? I have lowered myself to petty intrigue. I 
wrote to my mother, and she, without doubt, told all I 
wanted told to his cousin, and nothing has come of it ; 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 223 

impatiently, I made an old fool write an illiterate letter 
to Lopatin — and I know nothing will come of this. He 
will throw the letter into the fire, or, still worse, will show 
it to her, his mistress, and they will read it together, 
make fun of the illiterate effusions of the Captain's soul, 
and will jeer at me because they will understand that no 
one but I could have urged the Captain to commit this 
idiotic act. 

His mistress ? Is she ? The word was torn from me, 
but I do not know whether it is true. And if untrue ? 
Is there still any hope for me ? What makes me think 
that he has fallen in love with her, excepting vague sus- 
picion roused by mad jealousy ? 

Three years ago everything was possible and easy. I 
lied in this very diary when I wrote that I gave her up 
because I saw it was impossible to save her. Or, if I did 
not lie, I deceived myself. It would have been easy to 
save her. It only meant bending down to pick her up, 
but I would not stoop. I understand this only now, when 
my heart is aching with love for her. Love ! No, it is not 
love ; it is more : it is a raging passion, a fire which is 
consuming me. How shall I extinguish it ? 

I will go to her. I will collect all my forces and speak 
calmly. Let her choose between him and me. I will 
only speak the truth. I will tell her that it is impossible 
to rely on this impressionable fellow, who to-day is thinking 
of her, and to-morrow will be engrossed with something 
else and will forget her. I will go ! One way or the 
other this must come to an end. I am too worn out, and 
cannot. ... 

The same day. 

I have been to her. I am going to him directly. 

These are the last lines which will be written in this 
diary. Nothing can hold me back. I have no control 
over myself. . . . 



22 4 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

XIX 

Lopatin's Notes. — Why drag it out any longer ? Is it 
not better to end my reminiscences in these hnes ? 

No, I will write them to the end. It is all the same ; 
if I throw down my pen and this diary, that awful day 
will be lived by me a thousand times. For the thousandth 
time I am experiencing the horror and torment of con- 
science and the agony of loss ; for the thousandth time the 
scene of which I am going to write now will pass before 
my eyes in all its details, and each detail will lie on my heart 
with fresh, awful emphasis. I will go on to the very end. 

I led Nadejda Nicolaievna into the room. She could 
scarcely stand, and was trembling as if in a fever. She 
gazed at me all the time with the same frightened glance, 
and for the first minute could not utter a word. I sat 
her down and gave her some water. 

** Andrei Nicolaievich, beware ! Lock the door ! . . . 
Let no one come in. He will be here in a minute." 

" Who ? Bezsonow ?" 

*' Lock the doors !" she gasped. 

Rage possessed me. It was not sufficient to write 
anonymous letters ; he had resorted to violence. 

" What has he done to you ? Where have you seen 
him ? Calm yourself. Drink some more water, and tell 
me. Where did you see him ?" 

*' He has been to see me." 

" For the first time ?" 

" No, not for the first time. He has been twice before. 
I did not want to tell you, so as not to upset you. I 
begged him to stop coming to me. I told him it dis- 
tressed me to see him. He said nothing, and went, and 
for three weeks did not come near me. To-day he came 
early, and waited until I had dressed. ..." 

She stopped. It was difficult for her to continue. 

''Well, and further?" 

" I have never seen him before like he was. He began 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 225 

by speaking quietly. He spoke of you. He said nothing 
bad about you, only that you were impressionable and 
fickle, and that I could not rely on you. He said straight 
out that you would throw me aside because you would 
tire of me. . . ." 

She stopped and began to cry. Oh, never was I 
possessed with such love and pity for her. I took her 
cold hands and kissed them. I was madly happy. 
Words flowed without restraint from my lips. I told her 
I would love her for life, that she must be my wife, and 
that she would see and know that Bezsonow was wi*ong. 
I spoke a thousand senseless words — words of delirious 
happiness for the most part, having no outward sense — ■ 
but she understood them. I saw her dear face, radiant 
with happiness, resting close to my heart. It was an 
entirely new, somewhat strange face — not the face with 
a secret suffering writ on its features that I had been 
accustomed to see. 

She laughed and cried, and kissed my hands, and pressed 
towards me. And at that moment the world held only 
us two. She spoke of her good fortune, and how she had 
loved me from the very first meeting, and had run away 
from me frightened at this love. She declared she was 
not worthy of me, that it terrified her that I should link 
my fate with hers, and she again embraced me, and again 
shed tears of joy and happiness. Finally she sobered 
down. 

" But Bezsonow," she said suddenly. 

** Let Bezsonow come," I replied. " What has Bezso- 
now got to do with us ?" 

" Wait ; I will finish what I began to tell you of him. 
Yes, he spoke of you, then of himself. He said he was 
a far more hopeful support than you. He reminded me 
that three years ago I loved him and would have gone 
with him, and when I told him he was deceiving himself 
his whole pride blazed out, and he so lost control of him- 
self that he rushed at me. . . . Wait, wait," said 

15 



226 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

Nadejda Nicolaievna, seizing me by the hand as I jumped 
to my feet ; '' he did not touch me. ... I am sorry for 
him, Andrei Nicolaievich ... he threw himself at my 
feet, this proud man. If only you had seen him !" 

" What did you say to him ?" 

'* What was there to say ? I was silent. I could only 
tell him that I did not love him, and when he asked me 
if it was because I loved you, I told him the truth. . . . 
Then something strange came over him, which I could not 
understand. He rushed at me, clasped me to himself, 
and whispered " Good-bye, good-bye," and went to the 
door. I have never seen such an awful face. I fell into 
a chair. At the door he turned, and, smiling strangely, 
said, * But I shall see you with him,* and his face was so 
awful. . . ." 

Suddenly she stopped speaking and turned deadly pale, 
fixing her eyes on the door of the studio. I turned 
round. In the doorway stood Bezsonow. 

" You did not expect me ?" he said stammeringly. *' I 
did not disturb you, and came in by the back entrance." 

I jumped to my feet and faced him. We stood for 
some time like this, measuring each other with our eyes. 
He was indeed a terrifying spectacle. He was white, his 
bloodshot eyes, full of raging hate, were fixed on me. 
He said nothing, but his thin lips trembled, and seemed 
to be whispering something. Suddenly a wave of pity 
for him swept over me. 

" Serge Vassilivich, why did you come ? If you want 
to talk to me, come along and calm j^ourself." 

" I am quite calm, Lopatin. ... I am ill, but calm. 
I have already decided, and I have nothing to excite me." 

'' Why have you come ?" 

** To say a few words to you. You imagine you will 
be happy with her ?" With a wave of his hand, he 
pointed to Nadejda Nicolaievna. " You will not be 
happy ! I will not allow it." 

'* Leave this place," said I, making tremendous efforts 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 227 

to speak quietly. " Go away — go and rest. You your- 
self say you are unwell." 

'* That's my business. Listen to what I am going to 
tell you. I have made a mistake. ... I am to blame. 
I love her. Give her to me." 

" He has gone out of his mind," flashed through my 
mind. 

" I cannot live without her," he continued in a dull, 
hoarse voice. " I will not leave you until you say * Yes.' " 

" Serge Vassilivich !" 

" And you will say * Yes,' or . . ." 

I took him by the shoulders and turned him towards 
the door. He went quietly, but when we reached the 
door, instead of taking hold of the handle, he turned the 
key in the lock, then, with a sudden violent movement, 
threw me off and stood in a threatening pose. Nadejda 
Nicolaievna gave a shriek. 

I saw him transfer the key from his right hand into his 
left, and put his right hand into his pocket. When he 
drew it out, something glistened in it which I had not 
time to name. But its sight terrified me. Not knowing 
what I was doing, I seized the lance standing in the corner, 
and when he pointed the revolver at Nadejda Nicolaievna, 
I rushed at him with a wild yell. Everything reverber- 
ated with a terrific report. . . . 

Then the slaughter began. 

I do not know how long I lay unconscious. When I 
came to I remembered nothing, only that I was lying 
on the floor, that I could see the ceiling through a strange 
dove-coloured mist, that I felt there was something in 
my chest preventing me from moving or speaking — all 
this did not astonish me. It seemed to me that it was all 
a necessary part of some matter which had to be done, 
but what I could not in any way remember. 

The picture ! Yes. Charlotte Corday and IHa Muro- 
metz. . . . He is sitting and reading, and she is turning 



228 NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 

the leaves for him and laughing wildly. . . . What non- 
sense ! . . . It is not that ; that is not the question about 
which Helfreich is speaking. 

I make a movement, and feel great pain. Of course, that 
is as it should be — otherwise is impossible. 

Absolute quiet. A fly is buzzing in the air, and then 
bumps itself against the window-pane. The double 
windows have not yet been taken out, but through them 
comes the rattle of the droshkies passing along the street. 
The faint smoke clears away before my eyes — a strange 
bluish smoke — and I see clearly on the ceiling a coarsely 
modelled rosette round the hook for a candelabra. I 
think that this is a very strange ornament. I have never 
noticed it before. And somebody is touching my arm. 
I turn my head and see somebody's hand — a little soft 
white hand lying on the floor. I cannot get at it, and I 
am dreadfully sorry, because this is Nadia's hand, whom 
I love more than anybody or anything else in the 
world. . . . 

And suddenly a bright gleam of consciousness illu- 
minates me, and in a flash I remember all that has hap- 
pened. ... He has killed her. 

Impossible ! Impossible ! She is alive. She is only 
wounded. " Help ! help !" I cry, but no sound is heard. 
Only a kind of gurgling in my chest which chokes me, 
and a rosy froth collects on my lips. He has killed me 
also. 

Collecting my strength, I raised myself and looked at her 
face. Her eyes were closed and she was motionless. I 
felt how the very hair on my head moved. I wanted to 
become unconscious. I fell on her breast, and com- 
menced to smother with kisses the face which but half 
an hour ago had been full of life and happiness, and had 
so confidingly snuggled to my heart. Now it was still 
and severe. The blood had already ceased to trickle from 
a little wound over one eye. She was dead. 



NADEJDA NICOLAIEVNA 229 

When they burst open the door and Simon Ivanovich 
rushed towards me, I felt that I was at my last gasp. 
They lifted me up and placed me on the sofa. I 
saw how they took hold of her and carried her out. I 
wanted to cry out, to beg, implore them not to do it, but 
to leave her alongside me. But I could not cry out. I 
only noiselessly whispered whilst the doctor examined my 
chest, through which a bullet had passed. 

They took him out. He lay with a severe and terrible 
face covered in blood, which had poured like a wave from 
a mortal wound on his head. 

I am finishing now. What is there to add ? 

Sonia arrived almost immediately, summoned by a 
telegram from Simon Ivanovich. They have been treat- 
ing me for a long time, and persistently continue to treat 
me. Sonia and Helfreich are convinced that I shall live. 
They want to take me abroad, and rely on this journey as 
on a mountain of stone. 

But I feel I have only a few days more. My wound 
has closed, but m}/ chest is being racked by another 
disease. I know I have consumption. And, thirdly, a 
still more terrible disease is helping it. I cannot for one 
minute forget Nadejda Nicolaievna and Bezsonow. The 
appalling details of that last day stand eternally before 
my mental gaze, and a voice without ceasing whispers 
into my ear that I have killed a man. 

They did not try me. The case was quashed. It was 
recognized that I killed in self-defence. 

But for the human conscience there are no written 
laws, no doctrine of irresponsibility, and I am suffering 
punishment for my crime. I shall not suffer it long. 
Soon the All-Merciful will forgive me, and we three will 
meet where our passions and sufferings will seem insignifi- 
cant in the light of everlasting love. 



XII 
THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 



*' In the name of His Imperial Majesty the Lord Emperor 
Peter the First, I order a revision of this Asylum !" 

These words were uttered in a loud, strident, resounding 
voice. The clerk who had registered the patient in a 
large dilapidated book lying on an ink-bespattered table 
could not restrain a smile. But the two young men who 
had escorted the patient did not smile. They could scarcely 
keep on their feet after forty-eight hours without sleep, 
passed alone with the lunatic whom they had just brought 
along by train. At the station immediately preceding their 
destination the attack had increased in its intensity, and 
they had succeeded in obtaining a strait-jacket from 
somewhere, which, with the assistance of the train-con- 
ductors and a gendarme, they had placed on the patient, 
and had brought him to the town, and finally to the 
Asylum in this dress. 

He was dreadful to look at. Over his body and above 
his grey suit, which had been torn into rags during his 
paroxysms, was stretched a jacket of coarse canvas 
opened in front ; its sleeves, which were fastened behind, 
forced his arms crosswise against his chest. His blood- 
shot eyes (he had not slept for ten days) blazed with a 
fixed and intense glare. His lower lip was twitching with 
a nervous tremor, whilst his tangled, curly hair fell mane- 
like over his forehead. With rapid, agitated steps, he 

230 



THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 33I 

paced from corner to corner of the office, gazing inquisi- 
tively at the old shelves laden with documents, and the 
chairs covered with a kind of oilcloth. Occasionally he 
glanced at his recent fellow-travellers. 

*' Take him to the ward. To the right." 

" I know — I know ; I was here with you last year. We 
went over the Asylum. I know all about it, and it will 
be difficult to deceive me," said the patient. 

He turned towards the door. The keeper opened it 
before him, and, with the same rapid gait, holding his 
head well up, he left the office, and, almost running, went 
to the right, to the ward for mental patients. Those who 
were escorting him could scarcely keep up with him. 

" Ring ! I cannot. You have tied my arms." The 
porter opened the door, and they entered the Asylum. 

It was a large stone building, an old Government struc- 
ture. Two large halls — one the dining-hall, the other a 
general room for quiet patients ; a wide corridor with a 
glass door leading into a flower-garden, and some twenty 
separate rooms where the patients lived occupied the 
lower story. Here, also, were two dark rooms — one lined 
with mattresses, the other with boards — in which violent 
patients were placed ; and an enormous, gloomy, vaulted 
room, which was the bath-room. 

The upper story was occupied by women, whence there 
came a confused din, interspersed with yells and howling. 
The Asylum had been built for eighty patients, but as it 
was the only one available for some distance around there 
were nearly three hundred accommodated within its walls. 
Each small cubicle held four or five beds. In winter-time, 
when the patients were not allowed into the garden and 
all the iron-barred windows were tightly closed, the 
building became unendurably stifling. 

They led the new patient into the room in which were 
the baths. Even on a sane person this room was calcu- 
lated to produce a feeling of depression, and on a dis- 
torted, excited imagination the impression would be so 



232 THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 

much the greater. It was a large vaulted room with a 
greasy stone floor, and lighted by one window in a corner. 
The walls and arches were painted a dark red. Two 
stone baths, like two oval-shaped holes, and full of water, 
were let into, and on a level with, the floor, which had 
become almost black from the accumulated dirt of ages. 
A huge copper stove with a cylindrical boiler for heating 
the water, and a whole system of copper tubes and taps, 
filled the corner opposite the window. Everything bore 
an unusually gloomy and, for a disordered mind, fantastic 
character, which impression was further heightened by 
the forbidding physiognomy of the stout, taciturn warder 
in charge of the baths. 

When they led the patient into this terrifying room 
in order to give him a bath, and, in accordance with the 
curative method of the principal medical officer of the 
Asylum, to place a large blister on the nape of his neck, 
he became terrified. Fantastic ideas, each one more 
monstrous than the other, came crowding into his head. 
What was this ? An inquisition ? A place for secret 
executions where his enemies had decided to put an end 
to him ? Perhaps even Hell itself ? Eventually he 
became possessed of the idea that this was to be some 
kind of trial. They undressed him, in spite of his frantic 
resistance. With a strength rendered twofold by his 
affliction, he easily wrenched himself free from several 
warders, hurling them to the ground ; but eventually 
four of them threw him down, and, having seized him by 
his arms and legs, lowered him into the warm water. It 
seemed to him to be boiling, and into his disordered brain 
flashed disjointed fragmentary thoughts about trial by 
boiling water and red-hot iron. Choking with the water, 
convulsively struggling with his arms and legs, by which 
the warders were firmly holding him, he screamed out 
disjointed sentences, surpassing in reality any possible 
description. Supplications alternated with curses. As 
long as he possessed the strength to do so, he continued 



THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 233 

to cry out in this fashion ; then, becoming quiet, and 
with scalding tears, and having no connection with any- 
thing he had previously said, he murmured : " Holy and 
greatest of all martyrs — St. George ! — into thy hands I 
surrender my body. But my spirit ! — no, never !" 

The warders continued to hold him, although he had 
become quiet. The warm bath and the bag of ice placed 
on his head were having their effect. But when they took 
him, almost unconscious, out of the water and laid him 
on a bench in order to apply a blister, the balance of his 
strength and the fantastic ideas again returned. 

" Why ? Why ?" he shouted. " I never wished any- 
one harm ! Why kill me ? 0-0-0-0 Lord ! Oh, you 
have already tormented me. I implore you ! Spare 
me !" 

The burning hot application to the back of his neck 
made him struggle desperately. The attendants, unable 
to cope with him, did not know what to do. *' You can 
do nothing," said the soldier who had performed the 
operation ; " we must rub." 

These simple words sent the patient into convulsions 
of fear : " Rub ! Rub what ? Rub whom ? Me !" he 
reflected, and in mortal terror he closed his eyes. The 
soldier, taking the two ends of a coarse towel and pressing 
heavily, quickly drew it across the nape of the patient's 
neck, tearing from it both the blister and the outer layer 
of skin, and leaving an open red sore. The painfulness 
of this operation, almost unendurable even for a quiet 
and sane person, seemed to the patient the end of all 
things. He made a desperate effort with his whole body, 
wrenched himself free of the warders, and his naked body 
slid along the stone slabs. He thought they had cut off 
his head. He wished to cry out, but could not. They 
carried him to his cubicle in a state of unconsciousness, 
which passed into a profound, deathlike sleep. 



234 THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 

II 

It was night when he awoke. All was quiet. The 
heavy breathing of patients sleeping in the large room 
near was audible. A patient, placed for the night in the 
dark room, was talking to himself in a strange and mono- 
tonous voice. Above, in the women's ward, a hoarse 
contralto was singing some wild song. The patient 
listened to these sounds. He felt a terrible weakness 
and lassitude in all his limbs. His neck was dreadfully 
painful. 

*' Where am I ? What has happened to me ?" came 
into his head. Then suddenly, with extraordinary vivid- 
ness, his life during the last month came before him, and 
he understood that he was unwell, and in what way he 
was unwell. He recalled a series of absurd thoughts, 
words, and actions which made him shudder throughout 
his whole being. " But that is ended ; thank God, it is 
ended !" he whispered to himself, and again fell asleep. 

An opened window, but guarded with iron bars, looked 
out on a little corner between the big buildings and a 
stone wall. Into this corner no one ever went, and it 
was overgrown with some wild shrub and a lilac in 
gaudily full blossom at this time of the year. Behind 
these bushes directly opposite the window a high wall 
loomed, from behind which, in turn, glanced lofty tops of 
trees, and through their leafy branches pierced the moon- 
light, which was bathing all around, including the big 
garden from which these trees arose. On the right was 
the white building of the Asylum, with its iron-barred 
windows, through which the lights were visible. On the 
left, white and brilliant in the moonlight, was the blank 
wall of the mortuary. The moon's rays, shining past 
the iron bars of the window into the room, fell on to the 
floor, and lighted up a part of the bed, bringing into relief 
the worn pallid face of its occupant lying with closed 
eyes. There was no trace of insanity in its features now. 



THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 235 

It was the deep, heavy sleep of an exhausted being, 
dreamless, motionless, and almost breathless. For a few 
seconds he awoke, fully conscious, and apparently sane, 
only to rise in the morning from his bed again bereft of 
reason. 

Ill 

" How do you feel V asked the doctor of him the 
following morning. 

The patient, having only just awakened, was still lying 
in bed. 

" Splendid !" he replied, jumping out of bed, putting 
on his slippers, and wrapping himself up in his dressing- 
gown — " first-rate ! Except for one thing. Look !" He 
pointed to the nape of his neck. " I cannot turn my head 
without pain. But it is nothing. All is good if you 
understand it, and I understand." 

" You know where you are ?" 

** Of course, doctor ! I am in an Asylum. But once 
you understand, it is absolutely all the same — absolutely." 

The doctor looked him fixedly in the eyes. His hand- 
some, attractive face, with its well-tended golden beard 
and the calm blue eyes which looked through gold-rimmed 
spectacles, was immovable and inscrutable. He was 
observing his patient. 

*' Why are you looking at me so fixedly ? You will 
not read what is in my mind," continued the sick man, 
** and I can clearly read what is in yours. Why do you 
do evil ? Why have you collected this crowd of unfortu- 
nates here, and why do you keep them here ? To me it 
is all the same. I understand everything, and am calm, 
but they ! What is the purpose of all this torture ? To 
one who has recognized that in his mind there exists a 
mighty idea — to him it is a matter of indifference where 
he lives or does not live, and what he feels. It is a matter 
of indifference even whether he lives or dies. Is not that 
so?" 



236 THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 

'' Perhaps/' replied the doctor, seating himself on a 
chair in a corner of the room so as to watch the patient, 
who shuffled rapidly from corner to corner in a pair of 
huge, horse-hide slippers, waving the folds of his dressing- 
gown, made of some cotton material on which was printed 
wide stripes and large flowers. The " dresser " and head 
warder, who had accompanied the doctor, remained 
standing to attention at the door. 

" And I have this idea !" exclaimed the patient ; " and 
when I discovered it I felt reborn. My senses have 
become more acute, my brain works as it never did 
formerly. What was once attained by a long process of 
conjecture and reasoning I now know intuitively. I am 
an illustration of the great idea that space and time — are 
fictions. I live in all centuries. I live outside of space, 
everywhere or nowhere, as you wish. And therefore it 
is all the same to me whether you detain me here or 
release me, whether I am free or bound. I have noticed 
that there are several such here. But for the remainder 
their position is appalling. Why do you not release 
them ? To whom is it necessary ?" 

'* You say,'' interrupted the doctor, " that you live 
apart from time and space. But you cannot, however, 
deny that we are with you in this room, and that now " — 
here the doctor pulled out his watch—" it is half- 
past ten on May 6, i8 — . What are your views on 
this ?" 

" None. To me it is all the same where and when I 
live. If to me it is all the same, does it not mean that / 
am everywhere and always ?" 

The doctor laughed. 

" Rare logic," he said, rising. " Au revoir. Would 
you care for a cigar ?" 

" Thank you." The patient stopped, took the cigar, 
and nervously bit off its end. " This will assist me to 
think," he said. " This world is a microcosm. At one 
end alkali, at the other — acid. Such is the equihbrium 



THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 



237 



of the world in which opposing principles neutralize each 
other. Good-bye, doctor !" 

The doctor went farther. The greater part of the 
patients awaited him standing to attention. No chief 
enjoys such respect from his subordinates as does the 
mental doctor from those placed under his care. 

Our patient, left alone, continued to stride from corner 
to corner of his cubicle. They brought him a large mug 
of tea, which he emptied in two gulps without sitting 
down ; and a large slice of white bread, which disappeared 
as if by magic. Then he left his room, and for several 
hours without cessation paced in his rapid and agitated 
manner from end to end of the whole building. It was a 
rainy day, and the patients were not allowed into the 
garden. When the " dresser " went to look for the new 
patient, the others pointed to him at the end of the 
corridor. He was standing there with his face pressed 
close to the pane of the glass door leading into the garden, 
and was staring fixedly at a flower-bed. An unusually 
bright scarlet blossom of the poppy variety had attracted 
his attention. 

" Please come and be weighed," said the " dresser," 
touching him on the shoulder, and nearly falling down 
from fright when the patient turned round, such wild 
malice and hatred were burning in his imbecile eyes. 
But, seeing the " dresser," his expression immediately 
changed, and he followed obediently behind the oflicial 
without saying a word, apparently engrossed in profound 
thought. They entered the doctor's room, and the 
patient of his own accord stood on the platform of the 
weighing-machine. The " dresser " entered his weight 
as 109 pounds. The following day he weighed only 
107 pounds, and the day after 106 pounds. 

" If he continues like this, he will not live," said the 
doctor, and gave instructions that he was to be given the 
best dietary. 

But, in spite of this, and notwithstanding his enormous 



238 THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 

appetite, the patient continued to lose weight, and grew 
thinner and thinner. He scarcely ever slept, and spent 
the whole and almost every day in uninterrupted move- 
ment. 

IV 

He understood that he was in a madhouse. He knew 
even that he was ill. Sometimes, as during the first 
night, he would awake in the quietness after a whole 
day of violent exercise, feeling exhaustion in every limb 
and a dreadful heaviness in his head, but fully conscious. 
Perhaps it was the absence of impressions in the stillness 
of the night and half-light. Perhaps it was the feeble 
working of the brain of a but just awakened being that 
caused him during such moments to understand fully his 
position, and made him apparently sane. But when 
morning arrived with the light and awakening of life in 
the Asylum, delusions again engulfed him as in a wave. 
The diseased brain could not grapple with them, and he 
once more became insane. His condition was a strange 
mixture of correct reasoning and nonsense. He under- 
stood that all around him were lunatics, but at the same 
time he saw in each of them somebody mysterious, a 
person hiding or hidden whom he had known previously, 
or of whom he had read or heard. The Asylum was in- 
habited by persons of all ages and nationalities, dead 
and living. Here there were the famed and strong of 
the world, and soldiers killed in the last war, but now 
resurrected. He saw himself in some magic enchanted 
circle, having collected to himself all the forces of the 
earth, and in proud delirium he deemed himself the 
centre of this circle. All his comrades in the Asylum 
were gathered there to perform a duty which, in a con- 
fused manner, appeared to him as a gigantic enterprise 
directed towards the extinction of evil on earth. He did 
not know in what the task would consist, but felt himself 
possessed of sufficient strength to execute it. He could 



THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 239 

read the thoughts of others. He saw in things their 
whole history. The large elms in the Asylum garden 
revealed whole legends of the past to him. The building, 
which really was of old construction, he considered a 
structure of Peter the Great, and was convinced that that 
Tsar had lived in it at the time of the Poltava battle. 
He read this in the walls, the plaster which had fallen, 
in the pieces of brick and Dutch tiles found by him in 
the garden. The whole history of the house and garden 
was written in them. He peopled the little building 
which did duty as a mortuary with tens and hundreds 
of persons long since dead, and fixedly gazed into the 
little window of its cellar, which looked into the garden, 
seeing in the uneven reflection of light on the old rainbow- 
tinted and dirty glass familiar features encountered by 
him at some period in life or seen in portraits. 

In the meanwhile there came a period of bright fine 
weather. The patients spent the whole day out of doors 
in the garden. Their part of the garden, small and 
thickly overgrown with trees, was, wherever possible, 
planted with flowers. The Superintendent insisted that 
all who were capable of so doing should work in the 
garden. Every day they swept and sprinkled the paths 
with sand, weeded and watered the flower-beds, vege- 
tables, and fruit which they themselves had planted. 
In a corner of the garden was an overgrown cherry 
orchard. Alongside it stretched an avenue of elms, in 
the centre of which, on a small artificial mound, there was 
laid out the prettiest flower-bed in the garden. Bright- 
coloured flowers grew along the edges of the upper space, 
whilst the centre was adorned by a large full and rare 
yellow dahlia with red spots. It formed the centre of 
the whole garden, rising above it, and it was noticeable 
that many of the patients invested it with some secret 
significance. To the new patient it also appeared to be 
something out of the common, some palladium of the 
garden and building. All around the paths had also been 



240 THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 

planted by the patients. Here there was every possible 
flower met with in the gardens of " Little " Russia : high- 
growing roses, bright petunias, groups of tall tobacco- 
plants with small rose-coloured bloom, mint, nasturtiums, 
pinks, and poppies. Here, too, not far from a flight of 
steps, grew three small clusters of a particular kind of 
poppy. It was much smaller than the ordinary variety, and 
differed in its extraordinarily brilliant blood-red blossom. 

It was this blossom which had astonished the patient 
when, on the first day after his admission into the Asylum, 
he had seen it through the glass door. Going out for 
the first time into the garden, he first of all, without 
leaving the steps which led from the corridor, looked at 
the brilliant blossoms. There were only two of them. 
By chance they had grown apart from the other flowers 
and in an unweeded spot, so that they were surrounded 
by a thick growth of weeds and grass. 

The patients filed, one by one, out of the glass door, 
at which stood a warder, who gave to each as he passed 
a thick white cotton cap having a red cross in front. 
These caps had been intended for hospital use during 
the war, and had been bought at an auction. But the 
patients, of course, attributed a special hidden meaning 
to the cross. The new-comer took off his cap, and looked 
first at the cross, then at the poppy-blossoms. The 
latter were the brighter. 

" It wins," said he ; " but we will see ;" and he went 
down the steps. Having hastily glanced around, and 
having failed to notice the warder standing behind him, 
the patient stepped on to the flower-bed and stretched 
out his hand towards the flower, but could not decide to 
pluck it. He experienced a warm and stinging sensation 
at first in his outstretched hand, and then throughout his 
whole body, as if some powerful shock from a force un- 
known to him was emanating from the red petals and 
was penetrating through him. He moved closer, and put 
out his hand towards the actual blossom, but it seemed 



THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 241 

to him that it was defending itself and giving out a 
poisonous deadly exhalation. His head was reeling, but 
nevertheless he made one last desperate effort, and had 
already seized the stalk, when a heavy hand was laid 
suddenly on his shoulder. It was the old warder. 

" It is forbidden to pluck the flowers," said he, " and 
you must not go on to the flower-beds. If each of you 
is going to pick the flower which attracts you, the whole 
garden will be spoilt," continued he with conviction, 
still holding the culprit by the shoulder. 

The patient looked him in the face, without saying a 
word freed himself, and, in a state of excitement, passed 
on along the path. " Oh, unhappy ones !" he thought ; 
" you do not see. You are so blind that you defend it ! 
But at all costs I will put an end to it. If not to-day, 
then to-morrow we will measure forces. And if I perish, 
is it not all the same ?" 

He walked about in the garden until the evening, 
making acquaintances and carrying on strange conversa- 
tions first with one and then with another of his com- 
panions, and at the end of the day was still more convinced 
that " all was ready," as he said to himself. ** Soon, 
soon the iron bars will fall asunder ; all these prisoners 
will issue hence, and will flash to all ends of the earth. 
The whole world will tremble, will divest itself of its 
ancient covering, and will appear in new and wondrous 
beauty." He had almost forgotten the blossoms, but, 
on leaving the garden and mounting the flight of steps, 
he again saw them in the thick grass which had already 
become covered with dew, whereupon, keeping back from 
the rest of the patients, he awaited a favourable oppor- 
tunity. No one saw him as he jumped across the flower- 
bed, grasped the flower, and hurriedly hid it against his 
chest under his shirt. When the fresh dew-covered 
leaves touched his body he became deathly pale, and, in 
an agony of fear, opened his eyes widely. A cold per- 
spiration broke out on his forehead. 

16 



242 THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 

Inside the Asylum they had lit the lamps, and the 
majority of the patients, whilst waiting supper, were 
lying on their beds. A few restless ones were pacing the 
corridor and halls. Amongst these was the patient with 
the flower. He walked with his hands crossed on his 
chest. It seemed as if he wished to crush the plant hidden 
on it. When meeting the other patients, he passed them 
at a distance, fearing to come into contact with any part 
of their clothes. " Do not come near ! Do not come 
near me !" he cried out. But in the Asylum little atten- 
tion was paid to such exclamations, and for two hours 
he paced thus in a kind of ecstasy, ever faster and faster, 
and with ever-increasing strides. 

" I will tire thee out, I will stifle thee," he muttered 
maliciously. Sometimes he ground his teeth. 

Supper was served in the dining-hall. Wooden painted 
and gilded bowls were placed at intervals on the large 
tables bare of cloths. These bowls contained a liquid 
wheaten gruel. The patients sat on benches, and each 
was given a portion of black bread. They ate with 
wooden spoons, eight to every one bowl. Those who 
were ordered better food were served separately. Our 
patient quickly gulped down his portion, which had been 
brought to his room by a warder ; then, still unsatisfied, 
he went into the common dining-room. 

** Allow me to eat here ?" he said to the Superintendent. 

*' But surely you have had your supper," replied he, 
pouring out an extra portion into a bowl. 

" I am very hungry, and it is most necessary for me to 
recruit my strength. All my support is in food. You 
know that I do not sleep at all." 

*' Eat and get well, my friend," said the Superinten- 
dent, giving orders to a warder to give the patient a spoon 
and some bread. 

He sat down near one of the bowls, and ate a further 
enormous amount of gruel. 

" That is enough now," said the Superintendent at last. 



THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 243 

when all had finished their supper ; but our patient still 
continued to sit in front of the bowl, scraping the gruel 
out of it with one hand, and holding the other tightly to 
his chest. " You will overeat yourself." 

" Ah ! if only you knew how much I am in need of 
strength ! Good-bye, sir," said the patient, at last 
rising from the table and warmly pressing the Superin- 
tendent's hand. " Good-bye." 

" But where are you going ?" inquired the Superinten- 
dent, with a smile. 

" I ? Nowhere. I am staying here. But perhaps we 
shall not see each other to-morrow. I thank you for all 
your kindness." And he again warmly clasped the Super- 
intendent's hand, whilst his voice trembled and tears 
came welling into his eyes. 

" Calm yourself, my good friend — calm yourself," 
replied the Superintendent. " What is the use of such 
dismal thoughts ? Go and lie down and sleep well. You 
want more sleep. If you sleep well, you will soon recover." 

The patient sobbed. The Superintendent turned round 
to order the warder to clear away the remains of the 
supper more quickly, and in half an hour afterwards all 
in the Asylum were already asleep, with the exception of 
one patient, who lay on his bed in the corner of the 
room fully dressed. He was trembling as if in a fever, and 
spasmodically held his chest, impregnated, as it seemed to 
him, with a strange and deadly poison. 



He did not sleep all night. He had plucked the flower 
because he saw in this action a deed he was in duty bound 
to perform. At the very first glance through the glass 
door the blood-red petals had attracted his attention, 
and it seemed to him that from this moment it was per- 
fectly clear what in particular he was called upon to 
perform on earth. In this brilliant red flower was col- 
lected all the evil existent on earth. He knevv^ that 



244 THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 

opium is made from poppies, and perhaps this knowledge, 
taking some fantastic, distorted form, had induced him 
to create this terrible and monstrous phantom. In his 
eyes the flower was the personification of all evil. It 
flourished on all innocent bloodshed (which was why it 
was so red), on all tears, and all human venom. It was 
a mysterious, awful being, the antithesis of God — Ahriman 
— ^who had taken a modest and innocent form. It was 
necessary to pluck and kill it. But more than this was 
necessary ; it was necessary not to allow it to emit all its 
evil into the world. Therefore he had hid it in his chest. 
He hoped that by the morning it would have lost all its 
strength, that its evil would have passed into his body, 
his soul, and there be conquered or conquer — when, if 
the latter, he would himself perish, die, but die as an 
honourable knight and the first to wrestle at once with all 
the evil in this world. " They have not seen it. I saw 
it. Could I let it live ? Better death \" 

And he lay wearing himself out in a struggle, phantom 
and unreal, but nevertheless exhausting. In the morning 
the " dresser " found him scarcely alive. But this not- 
withstanding, in a short time excitability once more 
gained the upper hand. He jumped up from his bed, and 
resumed his former race through the passages of the 
Asylum, conversing with the other patients and himself 
more loudly and disjointedly than at any previous time. 

They would not let him into the garden. The doctor, 
seeing that his weight was daily decreasing, and that he 
never slept, but continued incessantly to walk and walk, 
ordered that a strong dose of morphia be injected hypo- 
dermically. He did not resist. Luckily, on this occa- 
sion his disordered brain in some manner accepted the 
operation. He quickly fell asleep, the feverish activity 
ceased, and the great motive which was its constant com- 
panion ceased to ring in his ears. He forgot all, and 
ceased to think of anything, even of the second blossom 
which it was necessary to pick. 



THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 245 

However, he plucked it after an interval of three days 
before the very eyes of the old warder, who was unable 
to prevent him doing so. The warder gave chase, but 
with a loud triumphant yell the patient rushed into the 
Asylum and, hurling himself into his room, hid the plant 
on his chest. 

** Why do you pick the flowers ?" asked the warder, 
who had followed after him. But the patient, who was 
already lying on his bed in his usual position with his 
arms crossed, commenced to rave so incoherently that 
the warder went away. And once more the phantom 
struggle commenced. The patient felt that from the 
flower an evil was exuding in long, gliding, snakelike 
streams. It was wrapping around him, pressing and 
crushing his limbs, and was impregnating the whole of 
his body with its awful substance. He wept and prayed 
in the intervals between the curses he showered on his 
enemy. By the evening the flower had quite faded. 
The sick man stamped on the blackened blossom, col- 
lected the pieces from the floor, and carried them to the 
bath-room. Throwing the shapeless bruised piece of 
erstwhile green into the red-hot stove, he long watched 
how his enemy hissed, diminished, and finally became 
converted into a tender snow-white ball of ash. He 
blew, and it all disappeared. 

The following day the patient became worse. But 
although dreadfully pale, with hollow cheeks and burning 
e^^es which had sunken far into their sockets, he con- 
tinued his frenzied walking, raving almost without cessa- 
tion, tottering and stumbling from weakness. 

** I do not wish to have resort to force," said the senior 
doctor to his assistant, " but if this goes on much longer 
he will die in two or three days' time. We must stop 
this walking. To-day he weighs only ninety-three pounds. 
Yesterday morphia had no effect." Then, after a short 
silence, he gave instructions that the patient should be 
bound, expressing at the same time doubts as to his 



246 THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 

ultimate recovery. And they bound him. He lay 
clothed in a strait-jacket on his bed, tightly fastened 
by wide strips of calico to the iron framework of the bed. 
But the frenzied activity increased rather than dimin- 
ished. For many hours he strove persistently to free 
himself. Eventually by a strenuous effort he succeeded 
in bursting one of his pinions, freed his legs, and having 
slipped from under the rest of his fetters, began, with his 
arms still bound, to pace his room, giving vent to wild, 
unintelligible utterances. 

The warder, coming into the room, called loudly for 
help, and with two of his brother-warders threw them- 
selves on the patient, whereupon a long struggle com- 
menced, tiring for them and torturing for the patient, 
who was in this way using up the remnants of his almost 
exhausted forces. Finally, they laid him on his bed and 
bound him tighter than before. 

" You do not understand what you are doing !" he 
panted. '' You will perish. I saw a third scarcely 
opened blossom. Now it must be ready. Let me finish 
my work ! It must be killed — killed — killed ! Then all 
will be finished and all saved. I would send you, but 
only I can do this. You would perish merely from 
contact with it." 

" Be quiet — stop talking !" said the old warder left to 
watch near his bed. 

VI 

The patient suddenly stopped talking. He had decided 
on stratagem. He decided to deceive his warder. They 
kept him bound all day, and left him so during the night. 
Having given him his supper, the old attendant placed a 
mat near the bed and laid down. In a few moments he 
was sound asleep, and the patient began his task. 

Contorting his body so as to get at the ironwork of the 
bedstead, and feeling for the edge of the iron frame with 
his wrist hidden in the long sleeves of the strait-jacket, 



THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 247 

he commenced quickly and vigorously to rub the sleeve 
on it. After a short time the thick canvas gave way, 
and he had freed his wrists and the first finger of one of 
his hands. Then matters progressed more speedily. 
With an ingenuity born of insanity he untied the knot 
behind his back which secured the sleeves, unlaced the 
jacket, and then for a long time listened intently to the 
snoring of the warder. Satisfied that the old man was 
sleeping soundly, the patient took off the jacket and slid 
from the bed. He was free ! He tried the door. It was 
locked from the inside, and the key was probably in the 
warder's pocket. Afraid of awaking him, he did not dare 
to search his pockets, and so decided to get out of his 
room through the window. 

It was a still, warm, dark night. The window was 
open. The stars were shining. He gazed at them, recog- 
nizing familiar constellations; and rejoicing that they, as 
it seemed to him, understood and were in sympathy with 
him. His mad resolution increased. It was necessary 
to get rid of the iron bar which formed the grating of the 
window in order to be able to clamber through the narrow 
opening into the corner of the garden, overgrown just 
here with bushes, and to scale over the high stone wall. 
Then would come the last struggle, and afterwards — 
mayhap death ! 

He tried ineffectually to bend the thick iron bar with 
his bare hands. Then he made a cord by twisting up the 
strong canvas sleeves of the strait-jacket, and fastened 
it to the forged spike on the end of the bar. Upon this 
he hung with the whole weight of his body. After frantic 
efforts, almost exhausting his remaining stock of strength, 
the spike gave way, and the narrow passage was open. 
He squeezed through it, bruising and lacerating his 
shoulders, elbows, and bared knees, and pushed his way 
through the bushes, but came to a stop before the wall. 
All was quiet. The light of the small lamps used in the 
rooms showed feebly through the windows of the build- 



248 THE SCARLET BLOSSOM 

ing. No one was to be seen inside it. Nobody saw him. 
The old warder watching by his bed was probably still 
sound asleep. The twinkling rays of the stars seemed to 
penetrate into his very heart, giving him renewed spirit. 

" I am coming to you," he whispered, glancing up- 
wards. 

Having fallen at the first attempt to scale the wall, 
with torn nails and bleeding hands and knees he began 
to search for a suitable place. A few bricks had become 
detached from the wall where it met the wall of the 
Mortuary, and making use of the hollows thus formed, 
the patient climbed on to the wall, seized hold of the 
branches of an elm growing on the other side, and quietly 
let himself down the tree on to the ground. 

He rushed to the well-known spot near the flight of 
steps. The blossom with its closed petals showed up 
clearly and darkly in the dewy grass. 

" The last !" whispered the patient — *' the last ! To- 
day is victory or death ! But it is all the same to me. 
Wait," said he, gazing up to the starry sky, " I will soon 
be with you." 

He rooted up the plant, tore it to pieces, and holding 
it crushed in his clenched hand, he returned to his room 
the same way he had left it. The old warder still slept. 
The patient, barely reaching the bed, fell on to it sense- 
less. 

In the morning they found him dead. His face was 
calm and serene. The tired features, with the thin lips 
and deeply sunken closed eyes, wore an expression of 
proud happiness. When they had laid him on a stretcher 
they attempted to open his clenched hand and remove 
the scarlet blossom. But it was too late, and he carried 
his trophy to the grave. 



» 



XIII 

THE BEARS 

In the Steppe the town of Bielsk nestles on the River 
Rokhla at a point where it makes several sharp curves 
linked up by branch streams, the whole forming a net- 
work which, if looked at on a clear summer day from the 
lofty right bank of the channel through which the river 
runs here, resembles a gigantic bow of blue ribbon. At 
this point the bank rises some three hundred and fifty feet 
sheer above the level of the river as if it had been cut by 
a huge knife. So steep is it that to clamber from the 
water's edge to the top, where the limitless Steppe com- 
mences, is possible only by taking hold of the bushes of 
spindlewood, birch, and hazel thickly covering the face 
of the slope. From this summit a clear view of forty 
versts opens out on every side. On the right to the south 
and on the left to the north stretch the gradients of the 
right bank of the Rokhla, descending abruptly into 
valleys such as the one from above which we are gazing. 
Some of the ridges show up white with their chalk tops 
and naked sides destitute of soil. Others are covered 
for the most part with short and withered grass. In 
front to the east stretches the illimitable undulating 
Steppe, yellow with haystacks, over which some useless 
weed is growing thickly, or verdant with growing crops, 
here showing the dark purple-black of newly upturned 
fallow, there the silvery grey of feather-grass. Viewed 
from where we are standing, the Steppe appears level, 

249 



250 THE BEARS / 

and only the accustomed eye can trace on it the scarcely 
discernible lines of ridges, of invisible ravines and gullies. 
Here and there an old half-sunken tumulus meets the 
view, its sides scarified by the plough, and no longer 
possessed of its stone slab, now perhaps adorning the 
courtyard of the Kharkoff University, or perhaps taken 
away by some peasant, and now forming part of the wall 
of his cattle-yard. 

Below, the winding river runs from north to south, 
alternately receding from its high bank into the Steppe 
or flowing immediately under its ledge, fringed at intervals 
with clusters of pine-trees and about the town by gardens 
and grazing-plots. At some distance from the bank to 
the side of the Steppe a strip of quicksand runs almost 
the entire length of the river, barely supporting the red 
and black shoots of small shrubs growing on it, and its 
thick carpet of fragrant lilac-coloured charbrets. Amongst 
these sands, two versts from the town, lies the cemetery, 
resembling from a distance a little oasis with the small 
wooden bell-tower of the cemetery chapel rising from its 
centre. The town itself presents no outstanding features, 
and is much like all district towns, apart from the aston- 
ishing cleanliness of its streets, due not so much to a 
solicitous municipal administration as to the sandy soil 
on which the town is built, which absorbs any moist are 
an incensed heaven may pour forth, and thereby pbtces 
the town swine in great difficulties, compelling thern to 
seek suitable accommodation for themselves at leas t two 
versts' distance from the town in the dirty banks of thci river. 

In September of 1857 ^^e town of Bielsk was in a state 
of unwonted excitement. The usual routine of life was 
disturbed. Everywhere, whether in the Club, streets, or 
on the benches outside the gateway entrances of court- 
yards, indoors and outdoors, animated conversation was 
being carried on. It might have been sup^posed that the 
Zemstvo elections, which were taking plaice at this time, 



THE BEARS 251 

were the cause of disturbance ; but there had been 
previous Zemstvo elections, and with all their scandals 
they had never produced any special impression on the 
native of Bielsk. On these occasions, if meeting in the 
street, the citizens would merely exchange brief remarks 
with each other. 

** Have you been ?" one would ask, indicating by a 
glance the building in which the Zemstvo ofhces were 
housed. 

** Yes," would reply the other, with a gesture of his 
hand ; and, accustomed to this mode of expression of 
thoughts, the interrogator would understand and simply 
add: 

'' Who ?" 

" Ivan Petrovich." 

'' Whom r' 

** Ivan Parfenovich." 

Then they would both smile and part. 

But now it was quite different. The town was in an 
uproar just as at fair-time. Crowds of urchins kept 
running backwards and forwards in the direction of the 
town common grazing-ground. Respectable, sober indi- 
viduals in loose summer suits of alpaca silk were also 
wending their way thither, and the damsels of the town, 
with parasols and various coloured hoop-petticoats (they 
wore them in those days), occupying so much of the wide 
street that young Rogacheff, the merchant, driving a 
dapple grey, was obliged to draw in almost against the 
walls of the houses. The ladies were accompanied by 
the local cavahers in grey overcoats with black velvet 
collars, carrying walking-canes and wearing straw hats or 
caps with cockades. Among these beaux were, of course, 
the brothers Isotoff, the leaders of all public gaieties, who 
knew how during a quadrille to call out " Grand Rond !" 
and " Au rebours !" — that is, when they were not running 
through the town imparting the latest news to their lady 
acquaintances. 



252 THE BEARS 

" They have arrived from the Vahiinsk District, and 
occupy half the ground of the Common right up to the 
river," said Leonid, the elder brother. 

" I regarded the view from the summit of the eminence," 
added Constantine. the younger brother, who delighted 
in expressing himself in the most flowery language — " an 
entrancing picture !" 

" Eminence " was the name he gave to the hill from 
which a view of the town and its vicinity could be ob- 
tained. 

" Ah, what a good idea ! Listen ! I have a splendid 
idea. Let us order the lineika, and drive out to the 
eminence. It will be like a picnic, and we will watch 
from there." 

This proposal by the first lady of Bielsk, the wife of 
the brother of the Treasurer (almost the whole town 
called her husband, Paul Ivanovich, the brother of the 
Treasurer), who had arrived eight years ago from Peters- 
burg, and was therefore the authority/ on fashions and 
good tone, met with general approval. The fat old bay 
horse was harnessed into the lineika, which is only met 
with in provincial capitals, and consists of long boards 
with two long seats so placed that the occupants, usually 
twelve in all, sit in two rows of six or seven a side and 
back to back. The party, which consisted of some dozen 
persons, seated themselves in the lineika, and started off 
through the town, overtaking mobs of boys, strings of 
damsels, and crowds of every description of public, all 
making their wa\^ to the Common. The lineika, having 
negotiated the sandy streets of the town, crossed the 
bridge and made for the steep right bank of the river. 
The bay, with dogged pace, wrinkling the sleek folds of 
his glossy haunches, clambered up the long slope, and in 
half an hour the pic^nickers were seated on the edge of the 
three hundred feet high ridge, withitsovergrowthof bushes, 
gazing at the view with which we are already acquainted. 
Below, under their feet, immediately under this wall, the 



THE BEARS 253 

river was quietly flowing along its course, and behind it 
opened out the common on which the general attention 
was concentrated. 

In the variety of colouring it resembled a huge patch- 
work carpet. The dull white of tents, numberless vehicles, 
and a motley crowd were all visible. Dark figures of 
men in kaftans and dirty grey shirts intermingled with 
the bright yellow and scarlet dresses of the women. A 
dense crowd surrounded the gipsy encampment which 
had been formed. It was a magnificent day, not too 
hot, and absolutely still. Above the roar of a multi- 
tudinous crowd could be heard the ring of sledge-hammers 
on iron, the neighing of horses, and the roar of scores of 
tame bears — the mainstay of the gipsies who had brought 
them hither out of the neighbouring Districts. 

Olga Pavlona gazed at this kaleidoscope through bin- 
oculars, and went into raptures. 

*' How interesting it all is ! What a big one ! Look, 
Leonid, what a huge bear there on the right ! And the 
young gipsy alongside it — a perfect Adonis I" 

She handed the glasses to the young man, who through 
them saw the figure of a well-built and exceedingly dirty 
youth who was standing near and petting a beast which 
kept shuffling about and changing from one leg on to 
another. 

*' Allow me to look," said a stout, clean-shaven man 
in a duck suit and straw hat. For some time he looked 
attentively through the glasses, and then, turning to Olga 
Pavlona, said with a deep sigh : " Ye-es, Olga Pavlona, 
an Adonis. But this Adonis will turn out a first-class 
horse- thief." 

Olga Pavlona uttered an exclamation of impatience. 

" Why," said she, " do you always try to turn every- 
thing poetical into prose ? Why a horse-thief ? I will 
not believe it ! He looks so good !" 

" That may be, but how is he going to support his 
beautiful body without that bear ? To-morrow they are 



254 THE BEARS 

slaughtering all these bears, and one-half of all the gipsies 
in this encampment will be without a living." 

** They can work as blacksmiths and shoeing-smiths, 
tell fortunes ..." 

" Tell fortunes ! Ilia, the horse-doctor, came to me 
yesterday. You go and talk with him. * Thomas 
Thomasovich,' he said, ' those greys of yours are very 
good, only beware of our brother.' ' What !' I said ; ' surely 
you will not steal them ?' He smiled, the blackguard ! 
Tell fortunes ! Those are the sort of fortunes he is telling !" 

Out of the lineika they took a large basket, from which 
appeared eatables and drinks, and the company began 
to seat themselves in groups, chatting merrily the while, 
and scarcely paying any attention to the picture dis- 
played at their feet. The sun had set, and the gigantic 
shadow of the height quickly spread to the Common, 
town, and Steppe. Outlines softened, and, as happens 
in the South, day was quickly replaced by night. Lights 
began to flicker in the town, and fires were lighted in the 
camp, which showed up redly through the mist rising 
from the slumbering river below, the distant bends of 
which glistened in the cold moonlight. And above the 
river, on the height itself, Constantine and Leonid kept 
up a ceaseless flow of ridiculous stories, at which Olga 
Pavlona occasionally smiled with condescension, and the 
younger ladies of the party giggled or even laughed aloud. 
Candles protected by glass shades were lighted, and the 
coachman with the maid prepared the samovar in the 
bushes near by — a process apparently necessitating occa^ 
sional, but at the same time very cautious, squeaks on the 
part of the maid. Portly Thomas Thomasovich alone 
remained silent, and finally interrupted Leonid at the 
most interesting point of one of his anecdotes. 

" When, then, have they finally decided to have this 
slaughter of bears ?" said he. 

" Wednesday morning," said the brothers Isotoff 
simultaneousl}^ 



THE BEARS 255 

The unhappy gipsies had journeyed hither from four 
Districts of the Government with all their household 
effects, horses, bears, etc. More than a hundred of these 
awkward beasts, ranging from tiny cubs to huge " old 
men " whose coats had become grey or whitish from age, 
had collected on the town common. The gipsies awaited 
the fatal day with terror. Those who had been the first 
to arrive had already been encamped here more than a 
fortnight. The Authorities were waiting until all should 
arrive, so that the business of killing the bears might be 
carried out in one day and finished with once and for all. 
The gipsies had been given five years' grace from the 
publication of the Order prohibiting performing bears, 
and now this period had expired. They were now to 
appear at specified places and themselves destroy their 
supporters. 

They had completed their last round through the 
villages with the familiar goat and big drum — the in- 
variable companions of the bears. For the last time, 
having espied them afar off coming down from the Steppe 
into the steep gully and bank of the river, the usual site 
of Little Russian villages, a crowd of boys and girls had 
run a verst to meet them, returning triumphantly with 
them, a confused rabble, back to the village, v/here the 
fun of the fair had already commenced. And what fun 
it was ! What festivities took place ! They would halt 
by the inn or some bigger house, or if it was an estate 
before the proprietor's house, and begin their per- 
formances, cures, trade, barter, fortune-telling, horse- 
shoeing, and repairs of waggons, continuing right through- 
out the long summer day until the evening, when the 
gipsies would leave the village for the cattle-grazing 
ground, and, setting up their tents or simply stretching 
the canvas over the shafts of the waggons, would light 
their fires and prepare supper, whilst far into the night 
an inquisitive crowd would stand around the encamp- 
ment. 



256 THE BEARS 

'' Come along now ; it is time to go home," my father 
would say to me, a little boy, but no less unwilling to 
leave, would wait in response to my entreaties for "just 
a little longer — a little longer." Together we would sit 
in the cart, the old horse Vasia, with his head turned 
towards the fires and ears pricked towards the bears, 
standing quietly, save for an occasional snort. The fires 
of the camp cast dancing red lights and vague trembling 
shadows. A light mist was rising from the ravine to the 
side of us, whilst behind the camp stretched the Steppe. 
The dark wings of a windmill stood out as if painted 
against the sky, and behind it was limitless mysterious 
space enfolded in a silvery twilight. Amidst the din of 
the encampment could be heard those subdued sounds so 
characteristic of the Steppe at night. First from some 
distant pond would come the solemn reverberating chorus 
of frogs, then the regular but hurried chirrup of the grass- 
hopper and the cry of the quail. Again, faint, indistin- 
guishable harmonious sounds would be wafted to our 
ears — mayhap the sound of some distant bell borne on 
the breeze, or the voice of Nature, whose tongue we do 
not understand. 

But in the encampment all is becoming quiet. 
Gradually fires are extinguished. The bears under the 
carts to which they are tethered growl deeply from time 
to time, as with a jingling of their chains they restlessly 
change their position. Their owners, too, are settling 
down to sleep. One of them in an uncultivated tenor is 
singing a strange song in his native language, unlike the 
songs of Moscow restaurant gipsies and operatic singers — 
a song characteristic, wild, mournful, strange to the ear. 
No one knows when it was composed, what Steppe, forest 
or mountain gave it birth. It has remained a living 
testimony of a land forgotten even by those who sing it 
now under the burning stars of a foreign sky and in alien 
Steppes. 

" Come along," says my father. Vasia bravely starts. 



THE BEARS 257 

and the droshky wends its way along the winding road 
below into the valley. A thin dust rises half-heartedly 
from under the wheels, and then, as if also overcome 
with sleep, falls back on to the dewy grass. 

" Papa, does anyone know gipsy V 

** The gipsies themselves, of course, do, but I have 
never met others who could speak to them." 

*' I should like to learn it. I should like to know what 
he was singing about. Papa, are they heathens ? Per- 
haps he was singing about his gods, how they lived and 
fought." 

We arrive home, and as I lie under the coverlet my 
imagination still works and forms strange fancies in the 
little head already on the pillow. 

Now, bears no longer wander through the villages, and 
even the gipsies themselves seldom wander. The greater 
number of them live where they have been told to live, 
and only occasionally pay tribute to their century-old 
instincts, select some common, stretch their smoky canvas, 
and live whole families together, busy with the shoeing 
of horses, horse-curing, and dealing. I have even seen 
how tents have given place to hastily erected wooden 
shelters. This was in the provincial capital not far from 
the hospital and the fair-ground, on a piece of land as 
yet unbuilt on and running alongside the main road. 
On this plot the gipsies had built quite a little town. 
Only the swarthy faces, quick-glancing eyes, curly hair, 
and dirty clothes of the men, with the equally dirty, gaudy 
rags of the women and the naked bronzed children, 
reminded me of the former picture of a wandering gipsy 
encampment. The clang of iron was coming from these 
shelters, and I looked into one of them. An old man was 
making horseshoes. I looked at his work, and saw that 
this man was no longer a gipsy blacksmith, but an 
ordinary workman who had taken some order, and was 
working as quickly as possible to finish it so as to take 

17 



258 THE BEARS 

up a new job. He was forging shoe after shoe, throwing 
them one after another into a heap in a corner of the 
shanty. He was working with a gloomy concentrated air, 
and at a great rate. This was in the daytime. Going 
past late that night, I went up to the shelter, and saw 
the old man still at the same work. It was a factory. 
And it was strange to see a gipsy encampment almost in 
the heart of the town situated between the Zemstvo 
hospital, the bazaar, and some kind of enclosed square 
where soldiers were being drilled, and from which came 
the sound of sharp orders given by the instructors. It 
was alongside a road from which the wind was raising 
clouds of dust, smothering with it the boarded shelters 
and the fires with their pots, in which the womenkind, 
their heads adorned with gaudy handkerchiefs, were 
boiling some sort of gruel. 

They had gone through the villages giving their shows 
for the last time. For the last time the bears had dis- 
played their histrionic talents, had danced, wrestled, 
showed how little boys steal the peas, imitated the 
mincing step of the young girl and the waddling gait of 
the old woman. For the last time they had received 
their reward in the form of a tumbler of vodka, which 
the bear, standing on its hind-legs, would seize with both 
front paws, place against his shaggy muzzle, and, throw- 
ing his head back, pour the contents down his throat, 
after which he would lick his jaws and express his satis- 
faction in a quiet rumble and strange deep sighs. For 
the last time old men and women were coming to the 
gipsies to be cured of their ailments by the true and tried 
process of lying on the ground under a bear, which would 
place his belly on the patient, spread himself out on all 
fours, and remain in this position until the gipsies con- 
sidered the seance had lasted long enough. For the last 
time they had entered huts, when, if the bear voluntarily 
entered, he was led into the front portion of the dwelling, 



THE BEARS 259 

and all sat there and rejoiced at his graciousness as a 
good omen, but if, in spite of all entreaties and caresses 
he refused to cross the threshold, the occupants would be 
sorrowful, and their neighbours would shake their heads. 
The greater part of the gipsies had come from the 
Western Districts, so that they were obliged to descend 
into Bielsk by a long hill nearly two versts long, and, 
seeing from a distance the site of their coming misfortune 
— this little town with its thatched and iron roofs and 
two or three bell-towers — the women commenced to wail, 
the children to cry, and the bears from S3rmpathy, or 
perhaps — who knows ? — understanding from their masters 
the bitter fate in store for them, to roar in such a way that 
carts which met them turned aside from the road so that 
the bullocks and horses should not be frightened, whilst 
the dogs with yelps of alarm crawled under the carts, 
taking refuge behind the grease and tar-pots which the 
peasants of these parts fasten under the body of their 
carts. 

Several of the old men amongst the gipsies had col- 
lected at the entrance gates of the house in which the 
ispravnik of Bielsk resided. They had decked themselves 
out so as to present a respectable appearance before the 
Authorities. All wore black or dark blue under-tunics, 
and belts brocaded with silver and black enamel-work, 
silk shirts having a narrow piping of gold lace round the 
collar, plush trousers, high boots which in some cases 
were embroidered and slashed with a pattern, and the 
majority wore astrachan caps. This dress was worn only 
on the most solemn occasions. 

" Is he asleep V inquired a tall, upright gipsy, tanned 
from age, of a gorodovoi who came out of the courtyard 
— one of the eleven gorodovois entrusted with the pre- 
servation of law and order in the town of Bielsk. 

*' He is getting up— is dressing. He will send for you 
soon," replied the gorodovoi. 



26o THE BEARS 

The old men, who up till now had been sitting or 
standing motionless, began to move and to speak in low 
tones amongst themselves. The senior of them drew 
something out of the pocket of his baggy trousers ; the 
remainder all collected around him and looked at the 
object which he held in his hands. 

** Nothing will come of it," he said at last. " What, 
indeed, can he do ? It is not his doing. It is the Minister 
at Petersburg who has given the order. They are killing 
the bears everywhere." 

" We will try, Ivan. Perhaps he can do something," 
said another of the old men. 

'* Of course we can try," replied Ivan dismally. '* Only 
he will take our money and will not help in any way." 

The ispravnik sent for them. They went in a crowd 
into the entrance-hall, and when he came out to them — 
a whiskered man in an unbuttoned police uniform, which 
exposed a red silk shirt — the old men fell at his feet. 
They implored his assistance, offered him money, and 
many of them wept. 

" Your Worship," said Ivan, " will himself judge what 
is to happen to us. What will become of us ? We had 
bears ; we lived quietly, insulted no one. Amongst us 
are young men who engage in evil work, but are there 
not horse-thieves amongst the Russians ? No one was 
insulted by our beasts, Your Worship ; they amused all. 
Now what is going to happen to us. Your Worship ? We 
must go into the world, and if not thieves, must be vaga- 
bonds. Our fathers, our grandfathers. Your Worship, led 
bears around. We do not know how to plough the land ; 
we are all blacksmiths. It has been hard work travelling 
the wide world over as blacksmiths in search of work, 
and now work will not come of itself to us. Our young 
men will become horse-thieves — nothing else to do, Your 
Worship. Before God I speak frankly, concealing no- 
thing. A great evil has been done us and good people 
by taking away our bears from us. Perhaps you will 



THE BEARS 261 

help us. God will reward you for it. Kind sir, help 
us \" 

The old man fell on his knees and prostrated himself 
at the feet of the ispravnik. The others followed suit. 
The Major stood with a gloomy expression on his face, 
smoothing his long moustaches with one hand and the 
other thrust into the pocket of his dark blue overalls. 

The old man pulled out a bulging pocket-book and 
offered it to him. 

" I will not take it/' said the ispravnik surlily. " I can 
do nothing." 

" But if you will take it, Your Worship," said the 
crowd, " perhaps something — if you would write." 

** I will not take it," repeated the ispravnik more 
loudly than before. " On no account. It is useless. It 
is the law. You were given five years' grace. What can 
be done ?" And he made a motion with his hands. The 
old men remained silent. The ispravnik continued : " I 
know what a misfortune this is for all of you — and to us. 
Now we shall have to look out for our horses, but what 
can I do ? You, old man, put away your money. I will 
not take it. If I have to give you trouble through your 
children over horses do not be angry with me, but to take 
money for nothing is not one of my customs. Put it 
away — put it away, old man ; your money will be useful 
to you." 

" Your Worship," said Ivan, still holding the pocket- 
book in his hands, " be so good as to give the order for 
the slaughter. Please to-morrow " — the old man's voice 
trembled — " please to-morrow finish it. We are tired, 
worn out. Two weeks ago I came here with mine. We 
have lived quite " 

" There is still one lot to come in, old man," broke in 
the ispravnik. " We must wait. It must be done all at 
one time, and finished. The whole town has gone off its 
head over you all." 

*' They have arrived already, Your Worship. As we 



262 THE BEARS 

came to Your Excellency they were coming down the hill. 
Do us this kindness, sir. Do not torment us !" 

" Well, if they have arrived, then to-morrow at ten 
o'clock I will come to you. Have you guns ?" 

** We have guns, but not all of us." 

** All right, I will tell the Colonel to lend you some 
rifles. God be with you ! I am sorry, very sorry for 
you all !" 

The old men turned towards the door, but the ispravnik 
called them back. 

" Wait a moment," he said. " I will tell you some- 
thing. Go to the chemist's shop next to the church. Go 
and say I sent you. The chemist will buy all the bears'- 
fat from you ; he will make it into pomade. Perhaps 
he will buy the skins, too. He will give you a good price. 
He will not lose by it." 

The gipsies thanked him, and in a crowd trooped off to 
the chemist's shop. Their hearts were torn ; almost with- 
out bargaining they sold the mortal remains of their old 
friends. Thomas Thomasovich bought all the fat at 
fourteen kopecks a pood, and promised to speak about 
the skins later on. The young merchant, Rogacheff, who 
happened to be there, bought all the bear-hams at five 
kopecks a pound, hoping to make a good deal out of the 
transaction. 

In the evening of that day the brothers Isotoff rushed 
breathless to the house of the brother of the Treasurer. 

" Olga Pavlona ! Olga Pavlona ! they have settled it 
for to-morrow ! All have arrived ! The Colonel has 
already given out the rifles !" they shouted, vying against 
each other in their haste to tell the news. " Thomas 
Thomasovich has bought all the fat at fourteen kopecks 
a pood, and Rogacheff the hams, and " 

" Stop, stop, Leonid !" interrupted Olga Pavlona. 
" Why has Thomas Thomasovich bought the fat ?" 

** For ointment, pomade. It is a splendid thing for 
making the hair grow." And forthwith Const ant ine 



THE BEARS 263 

related an interesting anecdote of how a certain bald 
gentleman, through rubbing his head with bears'-fat, 
even grew hair on his hands. 

*' And he was forced to shave them every two days," 
added Leonid ; and then the two brothers burst out 
laughing. 

Olga Pavlona smiled and pondered over the news. She 
had long worn a chignon, and this information about 
bears'-grease interested her very much. When that same 
evening Thomas Thomasovich came round to play cards 
with her husband and the Treasurer, she cleverly suc- 
ceeded in making him promise to send her some bears' 
ointment. 

" Of course — of course, Olga Pavlona," he had said, 
'* and it shall be scented. Which do you prefer — 
patchouli or ylang-ylang ?" 

The day broke cloudy and cold — a genuine September 
day — with an occasional slight drizzle, but this notwith- 
standing, numbers of both sexes and of all ages went to 
the Common to see the interesting spectacle. The town 
was almost deserted. All the vehicles the town boasted 
of — one carriage, several phaetons, droshkies, and lin- 
eikas — were engaged in taking out the curious. They left 
them at the encampment, and returned for fresh loads. 
By ten o'clock all were already out there. 

The gipsies had lost all hopes. There was not much 
noise in the camp. The women were hiding in the tents 
with the little ones, so as not to see the massacre, and 
only occasionally a despairing wail was wrung from one 
or another of them. The men were feverishly making 
the last preparations. They had dragged the waggons to 
the edge of the camping-ground, and had tied the bears 
to them. 

The ispravnik, with Thomas Thomasovich, passed 
along the rows of condemned. The bears themselves 
were not altogether calm. The unusual surroundings. 



264 THE BEARS 

the strange preparations, the enormous crowd, the large 
number of bears collected together — all this had excited 
them, and they tugged or gnawed at their chains, utter- 
ing occasional low growls. Old Ivan stood near his enor- 
mous bear crooked with age. His son, an elderly gipsy 
whose black hair was already streaked with silvery grey, 
and his grandson — that same Adonis whom Olga Pavlona 
had noticed — with ghastly faces and burning eyes were 
hastily tying up the bear. 

The ispravnik came up level with the trio. 

" Well, old man," said he, " tell them to commence." 

A wave of excited expectation passed over the crowd 
of onlookers, conversation redoubled, but soon after all 
became quiet, and amidst a profound silence was heard 
a low but authoritative voice. Old Ivan was speaking. 

" Allow me, sir, to speak." Then, turning to his fellow- 
gipsies, he continued : " Comrades, I beg you to let me 
be the first to finish. I am older than any of you. Next 
year I shall have seen ninety years. I have led bears 
from my infancy, and in the whole camp there is no bear 
older than mine." 

He lowered his grey curly head on to his chest, shaking 
it sorrowfully from side to side, and wiped his eyes with 
his fist. Then he drew himself up, raised his head, and 
continued in a louder, firmer voice than before : 

" Therefore I want to be the first. I thought I should 
not live to see such grief. I thought — that my bear, my 
loved one, would not live, but apparently Fate has willed 
otherwise. With my own hand I must kill him, my 
provider and benefactor. Loose him ; let him be free. 
He will not go away ; he, as with us old men, will not flee 
from death. Loose him, Vasia ! I do not wish to kill 
him bound, as they kill cattle. Do not be afraid," said 
he, turning to the crowd, which showed signs of alarm ; 
" he will not move." 

The youth freed the huge beast, and led him a short 
distance away from the waggon. The bear sat on his 



THE BEARS 265 

haunches, letting his front paws hang loosely, and swayed 
from side to side, breathing heavily and hoarsely. He 
was very old, his teeth were yellow, his coat had grown 
a reddish colour and was falling out. He gazed in a 
friendly but melancholy manner at his old master with 
his one small eye. All around was an absolute silence, 
broken only by the noise of the ramrods against the 
barrels of the rifles as the wads were pressed home. 

" Give me the gun," said the old man firmly. 

His son gave him the rifle. He took it, and, pressing 
the muzzle against the old animal's breast, again began 
to address the bear : 

" I am going to kill thee in a minute, Potap. God 
grant that my old hand may not tremble, and that the 
bullet may find its way into thy very heart. I do not 
want to torture thee. Thou dost not deserve such, my 
old bear, my good, my kind old mate. I caught thee a 
little cub. One of thy eyes had gone, thy nose was 
rotting from the ring, thou wert suffering from consump- 
tion. I tended thee as a son, and pitied thee, and thou 
grew up a big and powerful bear. There is not such 
another in all the camps which have collected here. And 
thou grew up and did not forget my kindness. Never 
have I had such a friend amongst men such as thou hast 
been. Thou hast been kind and quiet and clever, and 
hast learnt all. Never have I seen a beast kinder, more 
clever than thou. What would I have been without 
thee ? My whole family have lived by thy labour. Thou 
hast bought me two troikas. It was thou who built me 
a hut for the winter. Thou hast done yet more for me. 
Thou saved my son from being a soldier. Ours is a large 
family, but all, from the oldest to the youngest, thou hast 
supported up till now. And I have loved thee greatly, 
and have not beaten thee too much, and if I have in any 
way offended against thee, forgive me. At thy feet I 
bow." 

He threw himself at the bear's feet. The beast quietly 



266 THE BEARS 

and plaintively growled. The old man lay on the ground, 
his whole body quivering convulsed with sobs. 

** Shoot, daddy," said his son. " Do not tear our 
hearts !" 

Ivan rose. The tears no longer flowed. He threw back 
the grey mane which had fallen over his brow, and con- 
tinued in a steady, resounding voice : 

" And now I must kill thee. They have ordered me, 
an old man, to shoot thee with my own hands. Thou 
must no longer live on this earth. Why ? May God in 
Heaven judge us !" 

He cocked the trigger, and with a firm, steady hand 
aimed at the beast's heart under the left paw. And the 
beast understood. A pitiful, heart-rending sound broke 
from the bear. He stood up on his hind-legs, and raised 
his fore-paws as if to hide his face with them from the 
terrifying gun. A wail went up from the gipsies ; in the 
crowd many were openly crying. With a sob the old 
man threw aside the rifle, and fell senseless to the ground. 
His son rushed forward to pick him up, and the grandson 
seized the gun. 

** It must be," he cried in a wild, hysterical voice, with 
blazing eyes. ** Enough ! Shoot, comrades ; let us end 
it !" And, running up to the beast, he placed the muzzle 
of the rifle against the bear's ear and fired. The bear fell 
to the ground a lifeless mass. Only his paws moved con- 
vulsively, and his jaw dropped as if yawning. Through- 
out the encampment rang out shots and the despairing 
cries of the women and children. A light breeze carried 
the smoke towards the river. 

" One has got loose — broken loose !" resounded through 
the crowd, and, like a flock of frightened sheep, all rushed 
helter-skelter. The ispravnik, fat Thomas Thomasovich, 
urchins, Leonid and Constantine, young ladies — all fled, 
panic-stricken, running into the tents, against the carts 
and waggons, screeching and falling over each other. 



THE BEARS 267 

Olga Pavlona almost fainted, but fear gave her strength, 
and, picking up her petticoats, she fled along the Common, 
regardless of the disordered state of her costume caused 
by such hasty flight. The horses, harnessed up in antici- 
pation of the return of their owners to town, commenced 
to get out of control, and bolted in various directions. 
But the danger was by no means great. A still quite 
young brown bear, maddened by fright, with a broken 
chain hanging from his neck, was running away with 
astonishing rapidity. Everyone and everything made 
way in front of him, and, like the wind, he fled straight 
into the town. Some of the gipsies, rifles in hand, were 
running after him. The few pedestrians who chanced to 
be in the streets pressed themselves against the walls if 
too late to take refuge in gateways. Shutters were 
bolted, everything living hid, even the dogs disappeared. 

Past the church went the bear, and up the main street, 
sometimes rushing to one or other side as if seeking a 
place in which to hide, but everywhere was bolted. As 
he flashed past the shops he was met with fiendish cries 
from the shopmen and boys who wished to frighten him. 
He fled past the bank, the school, and barracks, to the 
other end of the town, rushed along the road leading to 
the bank of the river, and stopped. His pursuers were 
out-distanced. But soon after a crowd, no longer com- 
posed of gipsies only, appeared from the street. The 
ispravnik and the Colonel were in a droshky with rifles 
in their hands. The gipsies and a squad of soldiers were 
following behind them at the double. Alongside the 
droshky ran Leonid and Const antine. 

" There he is ! there he is ! "cried out the ispravnik. 
" The deuce take him !" 

A volley of shots followed. One of the bullets grazed 
the bear, and in mortal fright he fled faster than ever. 
A verst from the town, up the Rokhla, whither the bear 
was running, is a large water-mill, surrounded on all sides 
by a small but thick wood. The animal made for this 



268 THE BEARS 

wood, but, becoming confused in the branches of the 
river and the dams, lost his way. A wide expanse of 
water separated him from the dense overgrowth, where 
he could perhaps find, if not safety, at least respite. But 
he decided not to swim. On this side there was a species 
of bush which grows thickly, and is only found in Southern 
Russia. Its long, supple, branchless stalks grow so 
closely together that it is impossible for anyone to make 
his way through it, but at its roots there are corners and 
bare patches into which dogs can crawl, and as they often 
do this to escape from the heat when the weather is warm, 
and widen the paths leading to them by the pressure of their 
flanks on the bushes, a whole labyrinth of passages is 
formed. It was into this undergrowth the bear rushed. 
The mill men, who were watching from the upper story 
of the mill, saw this, and when the breathless, exhausted 
chase arrived, the ispravnik ordered the bear's hiding- 
place to be surrounded. 

The unfortunate animal forced its way into the very 
depth of the bushes. The wound made by the bullet 
was very painful. He rolled himself into a ball, buried 
his muzzle in his paws, and lay motionless, deafened by 
the noise, mad with fright, and deprived of the possibility 
of defending himself. The soldiers fired into the bushes, 
hoping by chance to touch him and make him roar, but 
to hit, firing at random, is difficult. They killed him late 
that evening, having smoked him out of his shelter by 
setting fire to the bushes. Everyone who had a rifle 
thought it his bounden duty to plant a bullet into the 
dying beast, so that when they skinned it the skin was 
useless. 

Not long ago I chanced to be in Bielsk. The town has • 
scarcely changed. Only the bank has smashed, and the 
school is now larger and of a higher grade. They have 
changed the ispravnik, who was given promotion as 
pristaff in a provincial capital for zealous service. The 



THE BEARS 269 

brothers Isotoff, as of old, shout " Grand rond !" and 
" Au rebours !" and run about the town relating the last 
piece of gossip. The chemist, Thomas Thomasovich, has 
grown even fatter, and notwithstanding that he made a 
good thing out of the purchase of the bears'-fat at four- 
teen kopecks per pound by selling it at eighty kopecks, 
which brought him in all no small sum, even now speaks 
with disapproval of the slaughter of the bears. 

" I said then to Olga Pavlona that through it her 
Adonis would become a horse-thief . . . and what hap- 
pened ? Less than a week afterwards he stole my pair 
of greys, the, blackguard !" 

** And do you know it was he who stole them ?" 

'* Who else could it have been ? Last year they tried 
him for horse-stealing and robbery. He was sent to 
penal servitude." 

" Ah, how sorry I was for him !" said Olga Pavlona 
sorrowfully. 

The poor lady has grown decidedly older these last 
years, and notwithstanding the fact, according to Thomas 
Thomasovich, who told me in confidence, that she has 
smeared her head with four pounds of bears'-grease, her 
hair has not only not become thicker, but even grown 
thinner. But her chignon hides it so well that it is 
absolutely unnoticeable. 



XIV 

THE FROG WHO TRAVELLED 

Once upon a time there lived in this world a frog. She 
used to sit in a swamp and catch mosquitoes and midges, 
and in the spring used to croak loudly in company with 
her friends. And but for an event which occurred she 
would have lived happily her whole life through — -pro- 
vided, of course, a stork had not eaten her. 

One day she was sitting on a crooked branch which 
stuck out of the water, and was revelling in a warm, slight 
drizzling rain. 

" Ah me, what beautiful damp weather to-day !" she 
thought. " What a delight it is to live !" 

The drizzle damped her striped polished back, and the 
raindrops trickled down under her belly behind her paws, 
which was extraordinarily pleasant — so pleasant that she 
almost gave a croak. But luckily she remembered that 
it was already autumn, and that frogs don't croak in the 
autumn — the spring is the time for that — and had she 
croaked she might have lost her '' frogly " dignity. So 
she kept quiet and continued to take her ease. 

Suddenly a thin, intermittent, whistling noise resounded 
in the air. 

There is a species of duck which, when it flies, makes 
a singing, or rather a whistling, sound with its wings as 
they cleave the air. " Phew, phew, phew, phew !" sounds 
through the air when a covey of such ducks fly high 
above us, although the birds themselves are invisible, so 

270 



THE FROG WHO TRAVELLED 271 

high do they fly. On this occasion the ducks, having 
described an enormous semicircle, swooped down and 
settled in the very same swamp in which the frog lived. 

" Quack, quack !" said one of them. " We have still 
a long way to fly ; we must have something to eat." 

And the frog instantly hid herself, and, although she 
knew that the ducks would not eat her — a big and fat 
frog — she all the same dived under the log in case of 
accidents. However, having thought it over, she decided 
to stick her head with its protruding eyes out of the 
w^ater. She was very curious to know to where the ducks 
were flying. 

" Quack, quack !" said another duck. " It is already 
quite cold. Let us get away as quickly as possible to 
the South." 

And all the ducks began to quack loudly in token of 
their approval. 

*' Mesdames ducks," said the frog, plucking up her 
courage, " what is the * South ' to which you are flying ? 
Please excuse me for disturbing you." 

The ducks crowded round the frog. At first they 
evinced a decided inclination to eat her, but each on 
reflection came to the conclusion that she was too big 
to be swallowed. And then they all began to quack and 
flap their wings. 

** It is very nice in the South ! It is warm there now ! 
And what lovely warm swamps there are there ! What 
worms ! It is nice in the South !" 

They quacked to such a degree that they nearly 
deafened the frog. She could scarcely prevail on them 
to be quiet, and begged one of them, who seemed to her 
the fattest and most intelligent of them all, to explain 
to her what was the " South." And when the duck told 
her all about the South, the frog went into ecstasies, but; 
nevertheless, at the end of the description, because she 
was a cautious frog, she asked him : 

" And are there midges and mosquitoes there ?" 



272 THE FROG WHO TRAVELLED 

" Oh, I should just say so — clouds of them !" replied 
the duck . 

*' Croak !" said the frog, and immediately turned round 
to see if there was any friend near who could have heard 
her and scolded her for croaking in the autumn. She really 
could not restrain herself from giving at least one little 
croak. ** Take me with you !" 

" You astonish me !" exclaimed the duck. " How can 
we take you ? You have no wings !" 

" When do you fl}^ ?" asked the frog. 

" Soon, soon !" cried out all the ducks. '' Quack, 
quack, quack ! Here it is cold ! To the South ! to the 
South !" 

" Allow me to think only five minutes," said the frog. 
" I will come back directly. I am sure to think of some- 
thing good." 

And she flopped from the branch, on to which she had 
again clambered, into the water, dived into the mud, and 
absolutely buried herself in it, so that no extraneous 
matter should distract her thoughts. Five minutes 
passed, and the ducks had all collected to fly, when 
suddenly from out of the water near the branch on which 
the frog had sat her mouth appeared, and it wore an 
expression of delight such as only a frog's mouth can 
assume. 

** I have thought it out ; I have found a way !" she 
said. " Let two of you, one at each end, take a twig in 
your beaks, and I will hang on to it in the middle. You 
will fly and I will travel. Only, whatever happens, you 
must not quack nor I croak — and then all will be superb." 

Now, although, goodness knows, it is by no means a 
joke to carry a frog three thousand versts, keeping silent 
all the time, still the ingenuity of her plan sent the ducks 
into such a delirium of delight that they unanimously 
resolved to take the frog with them. They agreed to 
relieve each other every two hours, and as there were as 
many and many ducks as could be, and only one frog, 



THE FROG WHO TRAVELLED 273 

no duck's turn to carry the frog would come very often. 
They found a good strong twig, two ducks took it in their 
beaks, the frog caught hold in the middle with her mouth, 
and the whole covey rose into the air. The terrific height 
to which they flew up took the frog's breath away. 
Besides which, the ducks did not fly evenly, and kept 
giving the twig jerks. The poor frog swung in the air 
like a paper " tumbling tommy," and hung on by her 
jaw with all her might, so as not to be thrown ofi and 
flop to the ground. However, she soon became accus- 
tomed to her surroundings, and even began to look 
around her. Beneath her fields, meadows, rivers, and 
mountains passed by in rapid succession, but it was very 
difficult for her to take stock of them, because, hanging 
as she was from the twig, she could only see backwards 
and towards the sky ; nevertheless, she managed to see 
something, and was very pleased and proud with herself. 

" What a splendid idea it was of mine !" she thought 
to herself. 

And as the rest of the ducks flew along behind the 
first pair which carried her they cried out to her and 
praised her. 

** Our frog has an astonishingly clever head," they 
said. ** It would be difficult to find anything like it even 
amongst us ducks." 

The frog could scarcely restrain herself from thanking 
them, but, remembering that if she opened her mouth she 
would fall from a terrific height, she closed her jaw still 
tighter, and decided to resist the temptation. She swung 
in this manner for a whole day. The ducks who were 
carrying her relieved each other on the wing, cleverly 
catching hold of the twig. This was most terrifying. 
Several times the frog almost croaked from fright, but 
it was necessary to have plenty of presence of mind, 
which she possessed. In the evening the whole company 
halted in a swamp. At dawn the ducks with the frog 
continued their journey, but this time their passenger, in 



274 THE FRCG WHO TRAVELLED 

order to see the better what was happening, fastened on 
with her back and head to the front. The ducks fiew 
over mown fields, woods turning yellow, and over villages 
full of corn-stacks. They could hear the people talking, 
and the noise of the machines with which they were 
threshing the rye. The villagers looked at the ducks, 
and, noticing something strange in their midst, pointed 
to it. And the frog longed to fly lower down, so as to 
show herself and to hear what they were saying about 
her. At the next halt she said : 

"Is it possible for us to fiy not quite so high ? It 
makes my head swim, and I am afraid of falling if I 
should suddenly feel bad." 

The kind ducks promised her to fly lower, and the 
following day they travelled so low that they could hear 
what was said. 

*' Look, look !" cried the children in one of the villages ; 
" the ducks are carrying a frog \" 

The frog heard this, and her heart jumped. 
** Look, look \" " grown-ups " cried in another village. 
" That's an extraordinary thing !" 

" Do they know that it was I who thought of this, and 
not the ducks ?" the frog wondered to herself. 

" Look, look !" they cried in a third village. '* What 
a wonder ! And who thought of such a clever dodge ?" 
Thereupon the frog could stand it no longer, and, 
throwing caution to the winds, cried out at the top of her 
voice : 

" It was I— I !" 

And with this cry she went tumbling over and over to 
the ground. The ducks quacked loudly, and one of them 
tried to catch hold of their unfortunate fellow-traveller 
as she was falling, but missed her. The frog, frantically 
waving all four paws, quickly fell to the ground, but as 
the ducks were flying very fast, she did not fall just at 
the spot above which she had cried out, and where there 
was a hard road, but much farther on, which was ex- 



THE FROG WHO TRAVELLED 275 

tremely lucky for her, because she flopped into a muddy 
pond on the edge of the village. 

She quickly appeared from out of the water, and with 
all her might began to cry out : 

''It was I — it was I who thought of it !" 

But there was no one near her. The local frogs, 
frightened by the unexpected splash, had all disappeared 
under water. When they began to reappear they gazed 
at the new arrival with astonishment. 

And she related to them a wonderful story of how she 
had thought all her life about the matter, and had- at 
last invented a new, unusual method of travelling by 
ducks. How she had her own special ducks which carried 
her where she wanted to go. How she had been in the 
beautiful South, where it was so nice, where there are such 
lovely warm swamps, and such quantities of midges, and 
every other kind of edible insects. 

" I have come here to see how you live," she said. " I 
shall stay with you until the spring, until my ducks, 
which I have let go, return." 

But the ducks never returned. They thought that the 
frog had been smashed to pieces by her fall, and were 
very sorry for her. 



XV 

A VERY SHORT ROMANCE 

Frost and cold. January is approaching, and is making 
its coming known to ever}^ unfortunate being — dvorniks 
and gorodovois — unable to hide their noses in some warm 
place. It is also letting me know. Not because I have 
been unable to find a warm corner, but through a whim 
of mine. 

As a matter of fact, why am I stumping along this 
deserted quay ? The lamps are shining brightly, although 
the wind keeps forcing its way inside them and making 
the gas-jets dance. Their bright light makes the dark 
mass of the sumptuous Palace, and especially its windows, 
look all the more gloomy. The wind is moaning and 
howling across the icy waste of the Neva. Through the 
gusts of wind comes the sound of the chimes of the 
Fortress Cathedral, and every stroke of the mournful 
bells keeps time with the tap of my wooden leg on the 
ice-covered granite slabs of the pavement and with the 
beating of my aching heart against the walls of its narrow 
cell. 

I must present myself to the reader. I am a young 
man with a wooden leg. Perhaps you will say I am 
imitating Dickens. You remember Silas Wegg, the literary 
gent with the wooden leg (in " Our Mutual Friend ") ? 
No, I am not copying him. I really am a young man 
with a wooden leg. Only I have become so recently. 

" Ding-dong, ding-dong !" The chimes again ring out 

276 



A VERY SHORT ROMANCE 277 

their doleful chant, and then one o'clock strikes. Only 
one o'clock ! Still seven hours before daylight, then this 
black winter night, with its cold, wet snow, will give 
place to a grey day. Shall I go home ? I do not know. 
It is absolutely all the same to me. I have no need of 
sleep. 

In the spring, also, I loved to spend whole nights walk- 
ing up and down this quay. Ah, what nights those are ! 
What can surpass them ? They are not the scented nights 
of the South, with their strange black heaven and big 
stars with their pursuing gaze. Here all is light and 
bright. The sky with its varied hues is coldly beautiful, 
and throughout the night remains gilded north and east 
with the rays of a scarce-setting sun. The air is fresh 
and keen. The limpid Neva rolls onwards proudly, its 
dancing wavelets contentedly lapping against the stone- 
work of the quay. I am standing on this quay, and on 
my arm a young girl is leaning. And this girl 

Ah, good people ! why have I begun to tell you of my 
wounds ? But such is the stupidity of the poor human 
heart. When it is stricken it dreams of seeking relief 
from each it meets, and does not find it. This is, how- 
ever, quite intelligible. Who is in want of an old un- 
darned stocking ? Everyone endeavours to throw it 
away — the farther the better. 

My heart was in no need of mending when in the spring 
of this year I met Masha — the best of all Mashas in this 
world. I met her on this same quay, which was not, 
however, as cold as it is now. And I had a real leg 
instead of this disgusting wooden stump — a real well-made 
leg, like the one that I have left me. Taking me all round, 
I was a well-made fellow, and, of course, did not walk, as 
now, like some bandy-legged fool. Not a nice word to 
use, but at present I cannot pick my words. And so I 
met her. It happened quite simply. I was walking 
along ; she was walking along. (I am not a Lothario, or 
rather was not, because now I have a wooden stump.) 



278 A VERY SHORT ROMANCE 

I do not know what impelled me to do so, but I spoke. 
First of all I, of course, told her I was not one of those 
sort of blackguards, etc., then I declared my intentions 
were honourable, and so on. My face (on which there is 
now a deep furrow above the bridge of my nose (a very 
gloomy-looking furrow) calmed her fears, and we walked 
together as far as her home. Sue was returning from her 
old grandmother, to whom she used to read. The poor 
old lady was blind. 

Now the grandmother is dead. This year many have 
died, and not only old grandmothers. I could have died 
very easily, I assure you. But I have not. Oh, how 
much trouble can a man stand ? You do not know, and 
neither do I. 

Very well, Masha ordered me to be a hero, and there- 
fore I had to join the army. 

The times of the Crusades have passed, and knights are 
extinct ; but if she whom you love were to say to you, 
" I am this ring," and throw it into a fire, even were it 
the greatest possible conflagration, would you not throw 
yourself into the flames to get that ring ? Oh, what a 
quaint fellow ! " Of course not," you reply — " of course 
not. I should go to the best jeweller and buy her another 
ring ten times more valuable." And she would say : 
" This is not the same ring, but is it an expensive ring ? 
I will never believe you." However, I am not of the 
same opinion as you, gentle reader. Perhaps the woman 
who would appeal to you would act in that way. You, 
no doubt, are the proud possessor of many shares and 
stocks, and can gratify any wish. You perhaps even 
subscribe to a foreign journal for your amusement. Per- 
haps you remember as a child having watched a moth 
which had flown into a flame ? That also amused you in 
those days. The moth lay on its back quivering and 
fluttering its little striped wings. This interested you ; 
then, when it no longer amused you, you squashed it with 



A VERY SHORT ROMANCE 279 

your linger, and the unhappy little thing ceased to suffer. 
Ah, kind reader, if only you would squash me with 
your finger, so that I might cease to suffer ! 

She was a strange girl. When war was declared she 
went about dreamily, and without speaking, for several 
days, and nothing I did would amuse her. " Listen," 
she said to me at length, " you are an honourable man ?" 

" I may admit that," I replied. 

" Honourable people prove their words by deeds. You 
were for the war ] you must fight." She puckered her 
brows and warmly pressed her little hand into mine. 

I looked at Masha, and said seriously : " Yes." 

*' When you return I will be your wife," she said to 
me on the station platform. " Come back !" Tears 
dimmed my sight, and I almost sobbed aloud. But I 
kept my self-control, and found strength to answer Masha : 

" Remember, Masha, honourable people " 

" Prove their words by deeds," said she, finishing the 
sentence. I clasped her to my heart for the last time, 
and jumped into the railway-carriage. 

I went to fight for Masha' s sake, but I did my duty by 
my country honourably. I marched bravely through 
Roumania amidst rain and dust, heat and cold. Self- 
sacrificingly I gnawed the ration biscuit. When we first 
met the Turks I did not fail, but won the " Cross " and 
promotion as N.C.O. In the second action something 
happened, and I fell to the ground. Groans, mist ; a 
doctor in white apron with blood-covered hands ; hos- 
pital nurses ; my leg, with its birth-mark, taken off below 
the knee. All this happened as in a dream. Then the 
ambulance-train, with its comfortable cots and dainty 
lady in charge, brought me to St. Petersburg. 

When you leave a town in the usual and proper way 
with two legs, and return to it with one leg and a stump 
instead of the other — believe me, it costs something. 

They placed me in a hospital. This was in July. I 
begged them to find out the address of Mary Ivanovna 



28o A VERY SHORT ROMANCE 

and the good-natured attendant brought it me. 



I wrote, then again, and a third time — but no answer. 
My kind reader, I have told you all this, and, of course, 
you do not believe me. What an unlikely story ! you say. 
A certain knight and a certain crafty traitress — the old, 
old story. My intelligent reader, believe me there are 
many such knights besides myself. 

Eventually they fitted me with a wooden leg, and I 
was able now to find out for myself the cause of Masha's 
silence. I drove to her house, and then stumped up the 
long staircase. How I had flown up it eight months ago ! 
At last the door. I ring with a sinking at my heart. I 
hear footsteps, and the old servant opens the door to me. 
Without listening to her joyous exclamations I rush (if it 
is possible to rush when your legs are of different kinds) 
into the drawing-room. Masha ! 

She is not alone, but is sitting with a very nice young 
fellow, a distant relative, who was at the University with 
me, and was expecting to obtain a good appointment 
eventually. Both congratulated me very tenderly (prob- 
ably owing to my wooden leg), but both were somewhat 
confused. Within a quarter of an hour I understood all. 

I did not wish to stand in the way of their happiness. 
The intelligent reader smiles sceptically. Surely you do 
not want me to believe all this ? Who would gratuitously 
surrender the girl he loves to any good-for-nothing 
fellow ? 

First, he is not a good-for-nothing fellow ; and, second, 
— well, I would tell you that second only you would not 
understand, because you do not believe that virtue and 
justice exist nowadays. You would prefer the unhappi- 
ness of three persons to the misery of one. You do not 
believe me, intelligent reader ? Then don't ! 

The wedding took place two days ago, and I was best 
man. I performed my duties at the ceremony with 
dignity, and gave to another what I most prize in this 



A VERY SHORT ROMANCE 281 

world. Masha from time to time glanced timidly at me, 
and her husband regarded me with a perplexed air of 
bewilderment. The wedding was a merry one. Cham- 
pagne flowed, her German relatives cried " Hoch !" and 
called me " der Russische Held." Masha and her husband 
were Lutherans. 

" Aha !" exclaims the intelligent reader ; *' see how you 
have betrayed yourself, sir hero ! Why must you make 
use of the Lutheran religion ? Simply because there are 
no orthodox marriages in December ! That is the whole 
reason and explanation, and the whole narrative is pure 
invention." 

Think what you like, dear reader. It is a matter of 
absolute indifference to me. But were you to come v/ith 
me on these December nights along the Palace Qua}/, and 
listen to the storm and chimes, and the tap of my wooden 
leg on the pavement ; if you could feel what effect these 
winter nights have on me ; if you could believe 

" Ding-dong, ding-dong !" The chimes are sounding 
four o'clock. It is time to go home, and throw myself on 
to my lonely bed and sleep. 

*' Au re voir," reader ! 



XVI 

FROM THE REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE 
IVANOFF 

I 
On the 4th of May, 1877, I arrived at Kishineff, and half 
an hour later had learnt that the 56th Division of Infantry 
was passing through the town. As I had come with the 
view of enlisting in some regiment and going to the war, 
I found myself, on the 7th of May, at 4 a.m., standing in 
the street amongst the grey ranks which had been formed 
up before the quarters of the Colonel of the 222nd (Staro- 
bielsky) Regiment. I was in a grey overcoat with red 
shoulder-straps and dark blue facings and a kepi, around 
which was a dark blue band. On my back was a knap- 
sack, at my waist were cartridge-pouches, and I was 
holding a heavy Krinkoff rifle. 

The band struck up as they brought out the colours 
from the Colonel's quarters. Words of command rang 
out and the regiment presented arms. Then followed a 
fearful row. The Colonel gave a command which was 
taken up by the battalion, company, and, finally, section 
commanders, and as the result of all this shouting a 
confused and, to me, absolutely incomprehensible move- 
ment of grey overcoats took place, which ended in the 
regiment drawing itself out into a long column and 
marching off with measured tread to the sound of the 
regimental band as it thundered out a quick step. I too 
stepped out, trying to keep my dressing and to keep in 
step with my neighbour. My knapsack pulled me back- 

282 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 283 

wards, the heavy ammunition pouches pulled me forward ; 
my rifle kept jumping off my shoulder, and the grey collar 
of my overcoat rubbed my neck. But in spite of all these 
little discomforts, the music, the rhythmic, ponderous 
movement of the column bristling with bayonets, the 
freshness of early morning, and the sight of the sunburnt 
and stem faces, all combined to inspire a feeling of calm 
determination. 

Notwithstanding the earliness of the hour, people 
flocked to the courtyard gates of the houses, and half- 
dressed figures gazed at us from windows. We marched 
through the long straight street past the bazaar, where 
the Moldavians were already commencing to arrive in 
their ox-carts. The street wound up the hill and stopped 
at the town cemetery. The morning became overcast, 
and a cold drizzle commenced. The trees of the cemetery 
were discernible through the mist, and glimpses of tomb- 
stones could be caught above its gates and walls. As we 
skirted the cemetery, leaving it to our right, it seemed to 
me that it gazed perplexedly at us through the mist, 
asking : ** Why are you going thousands and thousands 
of versts to die on foreign fields when it is possible to die 
here — to die peacefully, and lie beneath my wooden 
crosses and stone slabs ? Stop here !" 

But we did not stop. An unknown, mysterious force 
was drawing us — the strongest force in human life. Each 
of us, taken separately, would have gone home, but the 
whole mass went forward in obedience to discipline, and 
not from any recognition of the justice of the cause, nor 
from any feeling of hatred towards an unknown enemy ; 
not from any fear of punishment, but moved solely by 
that hidden and unconscious something which will, for 
many a long day yet, lead humanity to sanguinary 
slaughter — the most potent cause of every description of 
human ill and suffering. 

A wide and deep valley which stretched away beyond 
sight into the mist opened out behind the cemetery. 



284 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

The rain became heavier. Somewhere far, far away, the 
clouds had made way for a ray of sunshine which caused 
the slanting and perpendicular strips of rain to glisten 
like silver. Through the mist which rolled along the 
green slopes of the valley could be distinguished long 
columns of troops ahead of us. Now and then there was 
the gleam of bayonets. And the guns, as they came into 
the sunlight, shone like some bright star, only to vanish 
in the course of a few moments. Sometimes the clouds 
came together ; it became darker and the rain more fre- 
quent. An hour after our start I felt a little stream of 
cold water begin to trickle down my back. 
The first stage was not a long one, the distance from 

Kishineff to the village of G being in all only eighteen 

versts. However, not being accustomed to carry a w^eight 
of 20 to 35 pounds, I was at first unable even to eat when 
we at length reached the cottage told off to us. I leant 
against the wall, resting on my knapsack, and stood like 
this for some ten minutes fully equipped with my rifle in 
my hand. One of the soldiers going to the kitchen for his 
dinner took pity on me and took my canteen with him.. 
But on his return he found me sound asleep. I slept until 
four o'clock in the morning, when I was awakened by the 
insufferably harsh sounds of a bugle sounding the 
" assembly/' and five minutes later I was again plodding 
along the muddy, sticky road under a fine drizzling rain. 
Before me jogged a grey back, on which was strapped a 
brown calfskin knapsack and an iron canteen, which 
rattled incessantly. The grey back had a rifle on one 
shoulder. On either side and behind me were similar 
grey figures. For the first few days I could not dis- 
tinguish them one from the other. The 222nd Infantry 
Regiment of the Line which I had joined consisted for 
the most part of peasants from the Governments of 
Vyatka and Kostroma. They all had broad faces, now 
blue with cold, prominent cheek-bones, and small grey 
eyes. Most of them were fair, with light-coloured hair 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 285 

and beards. Although I knew the names of several, I 
could not pick out their owners. A fortnight later I was 
unable to understand how I could ever have mixed up 
my tw^o comrades, the one marching alongside me, and 
the other the possessor of the grey back which was con- 
stantly before my eyes. At first I had called them 
Feodoroff and Jitkoff indifferently, continually making 
mistakes, although they did not in the least resemble each 
other. Feodoroff, a corporal, was a young man of 
twenty-two, of average height, and splendidly built. 
His face, with its beautifully chiselled nose and lips, was 
as regular in its features as if it had been the work of 
some sculptor. His chin was covered with a fair curly 
beard, and there was a merry twinkle in his blue eyes. 
When the command was " Singers to the front !" he used 
to be the leader of our company. He was the possessor 
of a tenor voice, and would sing falsetto when high notes 
were necessary. He was a native of the Vladimir 
Government, but had lived since childhood in St. Peters- 
burg. Contrary to the general rule, Petersburg ** educa- 
tion " had not spoilt him, but had merely polished him, 
and had taught him to read the papers and to speak 
" wise words." 

" Of course, Vladimir Mikhailovich," he used to say to 
me, " I can judge better than ' Uncle ' Jitkoff, because 
* Peter '* has set its mark on me. There is a civilization 
in ' Peter,' but nothing but ignorance and savagery in 
the provinces. However, as he is not a young man, but, 
so to speak, has seen things and undergone various 
vicissitudes of fate, I cannot shout at him. He is forty, 
and I am only in my twenty-third year. But I am a 
corporal." 

" Uncle " Jitkoff was a gnarled - looking peasant of 

extraordinary strength and a perpetually morose visage. 

His face was swarthy. He had prominent cheek-bones 

and little eyes, which looked out from under his eyebrows. 

* The people's name for St. Petersburg. 



286 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

He never smiled, and rarely spoke. He was a carpenter 
by trade, and was on '* indefinite leave " w^hen the 
mobilization order was issued. He had only a lew 
months more to serve in the reserve when the war broke 
out and compelled him to take part in the campaign, 
leaving a wafe and five small children behind him at home. 
In spite of an unprepossessing exterior and perpetual 
moroseness, there was something attractive in him — 
something kind and strong. Now, as I have said, it 
seems quite unintelligible to me how I could ever have 
mixed up these two neighbours, but for the first two days 
they seemed alike to me. Each was grey ; each was 
tired and benumbed with the cold. 

The rain was unceasing during the whole first half of 
May, and we were marching without tents. The seem- 
ingly never-ending sticky road rose over hills and dipped 
into gullies almost every verst. It w^as heavy marching. 
Clumps of mud stuck to our feet, a leaden grey sky hung 
low and threateningly over us, and rained a continual 
fine drizzle on us, and there was no end to it. There was 
no hope of drying and warming ourselves when we reached 
the night's camp. The Roumanians would not let us 
into their cottages, and, indeed, there was no room 
anywhere for such a mass of men. We used to march 
through the town or village and camp anywhere on the 
common. 

" Halt ! . . . Pile arms !" 

And there was nothing for it, when we had eaten our 
hot broth, but to lie down actually in the mud. Water 
below, water above. It seemed as if one's whole body 
was permeated with water. 

Shivering, w^e wrapped ourselves up in our great-coats, 
and, gradually getting warm with a moist warmth, slept 
soundly until again awakened by the universally detested 
" assembly." Then again the grey column, the grey sky, 
muddy road, and dismal dripping hills and valleys. It 
was hard on us. 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 287 

" They have opened all the windows of heaven," said, 
with a sigh, our squad leader, a N.C.O. named Karpoff, 
a veteran who had served through the Khiva campaign. 
*' We are soaked and soaked without end." 

'' We shall get dry, Vasil Karpich ! Look, there is 
the sun peeping out ; it will dry us all. The march will 
be a long one. We shall have time to get dry and wet 
again before we reach the end of it. Mikhailich !" said 
my neighbour, turning to me, " is it far to the Danube ?" 

" Another three weeks yet." 

" Three weeks ! But we shall get there in two 
weeks. ..." 

" We are going straight into the clutches of the devil," 
muttered " Uncle " Jitkoff. 

*' What are you growling about, you old blackguard ? 
You are only making mischief. Where the devil are we 
going to ? Why do you say things like that ?" 

*' Well, are we going on a holiday ?" snarled Jitkoff. 

" No, not on a holiday, but as our duty calls us, to 
carry out our oath. . . . What did you say when you 
were sworn in ? Not sparing your life. You old fool ! 
Take care what you are saying !" 

'* But what did I say, Vasil Karpich ? Am I not 
going ? If to die, then to die. . . . It's all the same. ..." 

'* Well, don't let's hear any more of it." 

Jitkoff relapsed into silence. His face became still 
more morose. For the matter of that, it was no time 
fo» talking. The going was too heavy. The feet kept 
slipping, and men kept constantly falling into the sticky 
mud. Deep swearing resounded through the battalion. 
Only Feodoroff did not hang his head, but kept un- 
wearyingly relating to me story after story of Petersburg 
and the country. 

However, there is an end to all things. One day, when 
I woke up in the morning in our bivouac near a village 
where a halt had been arranged, I saw a blue sky, huts 
with white plastered walls, and vineyards bathed in the 



288 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

bright morning sun, and heard gay, animated voices. All 
had already risen, had dried their clothes, and had re- 
covered from the arduous ten days' march in the rain 
without tents. During the halt they were brought up. 
The soldiers immediately stretched them out, and, having 
pitched them properly, driven in the tent-pegs, and 
tightened the canvas, were almost all lying in their shade. 

** They did not help us when it was raining. They will 
guard us from the sun." 

" Yes, so the ' Barin's ' face shan't get burnt," joked 
Feodoroff, slyly winking towards me. 



II 

We had only two officers in our company — the com- 
pany commander, Captain Zaikin, and a subaltern officer, 
a lieutenant of the reserve named Stebelkoff. The 
company commander was a man of middle age, rather 
stout, and of jovial disposition. Stebelkoff was a youth 
only just out of the Academy. They lived on good terms 
with each other. The Captain took care of the Lieutenant, 
messed him, and during the rain even sheltered him under 
his own waterproof cloak. When they issued out the 
tents our officers camped together, and as the officers' 
tents were spacious, the Captain decided to take me in 
with him. 

Tired out by a sleepless night, our company had been 
told off to help the transport, and had spent the wliole 
night in dragging it out of gullies, and had even pulled 
the carts and waggons out of swollen streams by singing. 

I was sleeping soundly after dinner, when the Captairi'o 
servant awoke me by cautiously touching my shoulder. 

" Sir, Mr. Ivanoff, Mr. Ivanoff " he whispered, as 

if he did not want to awake me, but rather was trying all 
he could not to disturb my sleep. 

*' What's the matter ?" 

" The Captain wants you." Then, seeing me putting 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 289 

on my belt and bayonet, added : ** He said I was to bring 
you just as you were." 

A whole crowd had assembled in Zaikin's tent. Besides 
its usual occupants there were two more officers — the 
regimental Adjutant and the commander of the rifle 
company, named Ventzel. In 1877 ^ battalion did not 
consist, as now, of four companies, but of five. On ser- 
vice the rifle company brought up the rear, so that the 
rear files of our company were in touch with their front 
files. I often marched almost amongst the riflemen, and 
I had already several times heard from them the most 
uncomplimentary remarks about Staff-Captain Ventzel. 
All four officers were seated around a box which took 
the place of a table, and on which stood a samovar, 
plates and dishes, etc., and a bottle, and were drink- 
ing tea. 

" Mr. Ivanoff ! Come in, please," cried out the Cap- 
tain. " Nikita ! Bring a cup, mug, or glass, or whatever 
you have. Ventzel, move up a bit, and let Ivanoff sit 
down." 

Ventzel stood up and bowed very courteously. He was 
a short, raw-boned, pale, and nervous-looking young man* 
What restless eyes ! and what thin lips ! were the thoughts 
which came into my head when I first saw him. The 
Adjutant, without rising, stretched out his hand. 
*' Lukin," he said briefly, introducing himself. 

I felt awkward. The officers were silent. Ventzel was 
sipping tea in which w^as some rum. The Adjutant was 
pulling at a short pipe, and Stebelkoff, the Lieutenant, 
having nodded to me, went on reading a battered volume, 
a t. auslation of some novel which went through the march 
from Russia to the Danube with him in a portmanteau 
and subsequently returned home in a still more battered 
state. My host poured out some tea into a large earthen- 
ware mug and added an enormous go of rum. 

*' How are you, Mr. Student ? Don't be angry with 
me. I am a plain man. Yes, and all of us here, you 

19 



290 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

know, are just common folk. But you are an educated 
man, so you must excuse us. Isn't that so ?" 

And he seized my hand with his huge fist as a bird of 
prey seizes its booty, and waved it several times in the 
air, looking at me with a kind expression in his prominent 
round little eyes. 

'' Are you a student ?" inquired Ventzel. 

'* Yes, sir, I was." 

He smiled and raised his restless eyes on me. I re- 
called the soldiers' stories I had heard about him, and 
doubted their truth. 

"Why 'sir'? Here in this tent we are all alike. 
Here you are simply an intelligent man amongst others 
like yourself," he said quietly. 

" An intelligent man ! Yes, that's true," exclaimed 
Zaikin. " A student ! I like students, although they 
are such insubordinate beggars. I should have been a 
student myself if it had not been for fate." 

*' What was your particular fate, Ivan Platonich ?" 
inquired the Adjutant. 

*' Why, I simply could not work up for exams. Mathe- 
matics were not so bad, but as for the rest ... it was 
hopeless. Literature, composition. I never learnt to 
write properly when I was a cadet. Honestly !" 

" Do you know, Mr. Student," said the Adjutant 
between two gigantic puffs of smoke, " how Ivan Pla- 
tonich makes four spelling mistakes in one simple 
word ?" 

" Come, come, don't tell lies, old chap," said Zaikin 
with a wave of his hand. 

** It's quite true ; I am not lying," said the Adjutant, 
laughing heartily as he spelt the word a la Zaikin. 

" Laugh away ! But the Adjutant himself is no 
better," said Zaikin, giving a specimen in his turn. 

The Adjutant roared with laughter. Stebelkoff, who 
happened to have his mouth full of tea, spluttered it over 
his novel and put out one of the two candles which lighted 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 291 

the tent. I too could not help laughing. Ivan Platonich, 
thoroughly pleased with his witticism, went off into peals 
of deep laughter. Only Ventzel did not laugh. 

" It was literature, then, Ivan Platonich ?" he inquired 
quietly as before. 

" Literature. . . . Yes, and other things. It reminds 
me of a man who only knew of the equator in geography 
and the meaning of the word ' era ' in history. But, no, 
I am speaking rot. That wasn't the reason. It was 
simply that I had money and would never do any work. 
I, Ivanoff ... I beg your pardon, what's your name ?" 

" Vladimir Mikhailich." 

*' Vladimir Mikhailich ? Thank you. . . . Well, I was 
a light-headed fellow from the very first, and what tricks 
I used to play ! You know the song about the boy who 
had money. 

" I entered this famous, although a purely line regiment, 
as a junker. They sent me to school. I only just 
passed, and now I have been twenty years slaving in the 
service. Now we are dodging after the Turk. Drink 
up, gentlemen — drink properly ! Is it worth while 
spoiling good tea ? Let us drink, gentlemen, to ' Food 
for powder.' " 

" Chair a canon," said Ventzel. 

" Well, all right, in French, if you like. Our Captain, 
Vladimir Mikhailich, is a clever man. He knows several 
languages, and can repeat a lot of German poetry by heart. 
Look here, young man, I sent for you to propose you 
should transfer yourself into my tent. Where you are 
now there are six of you, and it is stifling and crowded 
with soldiers. Besides, they are not over clean. In any 
case, you will be better off with us." 

** Thank you, but please allow me to refuse your 
offer." 

"Why? Bosh! Nikita ! Go and fetch his knap- 
sack ! Which tent are you in ?" 

'* The second on the right. But please allow me to 



292 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

stay there. I have to be more with the men, and it is 
better I should be altogether with them." 

The Captain looked at me attentively, as if desirous 
of reading my thoughts. Having pondered a little, he said : 

'* What is it ? You want to makp friends with the 
men ?" 

" Yes, if it is possible." 

** That's right. Don't change. I respect you for it." 

And he grabbed my hand and once more waved it in 
the air. 

Soon aften^^ards I took farewell of the officers and left 
the tent. It had growTi dark. The men were putting 
on their great-coats in preparation for evening prayers. 
The companies were drawn up in their lines, so that each 
battalion formed a closed square, within which were the 
tents and piled arms. Owing to the halt, the whole of 
our division had got together. The drums were beating 
tattoo, and from afar could be heard the words of the 
command preparatory to prayers : 

" Remove caps !" 

And twelve thousand men bared their heads. " Our 
Father which art in Heaven," began our company. The 
chant was taken up around us. Sixty choirs of two 
hundred men each, and each choir singing independently. 
There were discordant notes to be heard, but, neverthe- 
less, the hymn produced a stirring and solemn effect. 
Gradually the choirs came to an end. Finally, the last 
company of the battalion at the far end of the camp 
sang, '' But deliver us from evil." The drums gave a 
short roll, and the order : 

" Put on head-dress !" was given. 

The soldiers laid themselves down to sleep. In our 
tent, where, as in the other tents, six men occupied a 
space of two square sajenes, my place was near the walls 
of the tent, and for a long time I lay gazing at the stars, 
at the camp-fires of other troops far from us, and listening 
to the low, confused murmur of a large camp. In the 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 293 

neighbouring tent someone was telling a fairy-tale, ever- 
lastingly interspersed with " And after that . . ." *' and 
after that this prince went to his spouse and began to 
scold her about everything. And after that she . . . 
Lutikoff, are you asleep ? Well, sleep, then, and God 
be with you," murmured the narrator of the tale, and 
lapsed into silence. 

The sound of conversation was audible from the 
officers' tent also, and the movements of the officers 
sitting there were revealed in distorted form against the 
canvas by the light of the candles. From time to time 
could be heard the noisy laugh of the Adjutant. An 
armed sentry was pacing his beat in our lines. Opposite, 
and not far from us, was the artillery camp, with yet 
another sentry with drawn sword. The stamping of the 
horses picketed in their lines, and their deep bretahing 
as they quietly chewed their oats, could be plainly heard, 
a sound which recalled nights passed at post-stages in 
now far-away homeland on just such quiet starlight nights 
as this one. 

The Great Bear constellation was shining low down 
on the horizon, much lower down than with us in Russia. 
Gazing at the North Star, I pondered as to the exact 
direction in which St. Petersburg lay, where I had left 
my mother, friends, and all dear to me. Above my 
head familiar star groups were shining. The Milky 
Way shone in a bright, majestically calm, band of light. 
Towards the South burned the great stars of some con- 
stellations unknown to me, one with a red, and the other 
with a greenish fire. I wondered whether I should see 
any other strange stars when we were across the Danube 
and Balkans, and into Constantinople. 

As I did not feel sleepy, I got up and commenced to 
stroll along the damp grass between our lines and the 
artillery. A dark figure came up with me, and, guessing 
by the clinking of a sword that it was an officer, I turned 
to my front. It proved to be Ventzel. 



294 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

" Not asleep, Vladimir Mikhailich?" he inquired in a 
soft, quiet voice. 

" No, sir." 

" My name is Peter Nicolaievitch . . . and I also cannot 
sleep. ... I sat and sat with your Captain. But it was 
boring. They sat down to cards, and were all drinking 
too much. . . . Ah, what a night !" 

He walked alongside me, and, reaching the end of our 
lines, we turned and continued to pace backwards and 
forwards in this manner several times, neither of us 
saying anything. Ventzel was the first to break the 
silence. 

" Tell me, you have started on this campaign volun- 
tarily r 

" Yes." 

" What induced you to do so ?" 

" How can I explain ?" I replied, not wishing to go 
into details. " Chiefly, of course, a desire to experience 
and see things personally." 

*' And probably to study the people in thejperson of 
its representative — the soldier ?" inquired Ventzel. It 
was dark, and I could not see the expression on his face, 
but I detected the irony in his tone. 

'* How could one study here? How can one study 
when one only thinks of how to get to the night's camp 
and sleep ?" 

'* No ; without joking, teU me why you would not 
transfer yourself to your Captain's tent ? Surely you 
do not value the opinion of a moujik ?" 

" Certainly I value the opinion of anyone whose opinion 
I have no reason not to respect." 

" I have no reason to disbelieve you. Besides, it is 
the fashion nowadays. Even literature presents the 
moujik as a masterpiece of creation." 

" But who is speaking of masterpieces of creation, 
Peter Nicolaievitch ? If only they would recognize him 
as a man." 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 295 

" Enough of such sentimentality, please ! Who does 
not recognize him as a man ? A man ? Well, granted 
he is a man, but what sort is another question. . . . Well, 
let's talk of something else." 

We did, in fact, talk a great deal. Ventzel had evidently- 
read a great deal, and, as Zaikin had said, " knew 
languages." 

The Captain's remark that he could recite poetry also 
proved to be true. We talked about French writers, 
and Ventzel, having censured the " Realist " school, 
went back to the thirties and forties, and even recited 
with feeling Alfred de Musset's " A December Night.'* 
His rendering of it was good, simple, and expressive, and 
with a good accent. Having recited it, he was silent, and 
then added : 

" Yes, it is good, but all the French authors put 
together are not worth ten lines of Schiller, Goethe, or 
Shakespeare." 

Until he got his company, he had charge of the regi- 
mental library, and had followed Russian literature 
closely. 

Talking of it, he expressed himself strongly against 
what he termed its " boorish tendency." The conversa- 
tion then reverted to the old subject. Ventzel argued 
heatedly : 

" When I was almost a boy, I entered the regiment, 
and I did not then think what I am telling you now. 
I tried to act by mere force of word. I endeavoured to 
obtain some moral influence over the men. But after a 
year they had exhausted me. All that remained from the 
so-called good books coming into contact with actuality 
proved to be sentimental bosh, and now I am convinced 
that the only way of making oneself understood is — 
that !" 

He made some sort of gesture with his hand. But it 
was so dark that I did not understand it. 

** What, Peter Nicolaievitch ?" 



296 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

" A clenched fist !" he interjected. 

" But good-night ; it is time to sleep.'* 

I saluted and went back to my own tent, sorry and 
disgusted. 

They were apparently all asleep, but a minute later, 
when I had laid down, Feodoroff , who was sleeping along- 
side me, asked quietly : 

** Mikhailich, are you asleep ?" 

" No, why 1" 

" Were you walking with Venztel ?" 

" Yes." 

" How was he ? Quiet ?" 

" All right — quiet and even kind." 

*' Well, well. What it means to be a brother Barin ! 
He isn't like that with us." 

*' What do you mean ? Is he really very bad- 
tempered ?" 

" I should just think so — awful. He makes their 
teeth rattle in the second rifle company, the beast !" 

And Feodoroff forthwith fell asleep, so that in reply 
to my next question I heard only his even and calm 
breathing. I wrapped myself up more tightly in my big 
cloak. My thoughts became at first confused, and then 
disappeared in sound sleep. 

Ill 

The rain was followed by heat. About this time we 
left the little village w^here our feet used to stick in the 
slippery mud, and came on to the main road leading from 
Yass to Bukarest. Our first march along this road from 
Tekuch to Berlada will always be remembered by those 
who made it. It was thirty-five degrees (Reaumur) in the 
shade, and the distance was forty-eight versts. It was 
perfectly still. A fine dust, full of lime, which was being 
raised by thousands of feet, hung over the road. It got 
into our noses and mouths, and powdered our hair so 
thickly that it was impossible to distinguish its colour. 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 297 

Settling all over our perspiring faces, it became mud, 
and turned us into niggers. For some reason we marched 
in our tunics instead of in our shirt-sleeves. The black 
cloth drew the sun, which literally baked our heads 
through our black shakos. The almost red-hot stones of 
the metalled road could be felt through the soles of our 
boots. The men kept on " falling out." To add to our 
misfortunes, there were few wells along the route, and there 
was for the most part so little water in them that the 
head of our column (it was a whole division) exhausted 
the supply, and after frightful crushing and pushing at 
the wells, we found only a sticky liquid more resembling 
mud than water. When there was not even this, the 
men used to fall, utterly done up. On this day in ou 
battalion alone about ninety men fell out along the road. 
Three died from sunstroke. 

Compared with my comrades, this trial affected me 
but lightly. Possibly because the majority of my 
battalion hailed from the North, whereas I had been 
accustomed from childhood to the heat of the Steppe. 
Perhaps, also, there was another cause. I had occasion 
to note that the common soldier, speaking generally, 
takes physical suffering more to heart than is the case 
with those drawn from the so-called privileged classes. 
(I am referring only to those who went to the war as 
volunteers.) To the ordinary soldier physical misfor- 
tunes were a source of genuine grief, capable of producing 
depression and, in general, mental torture. Those who 
were going to the war as volunteers of course suffered, 
physically speaking, no less, but rather more, than the 
soldier drawn from the lower class — owing to a more 
tender upbringing, comparative bodily weakness, etc., 
but inwardly were calmer. Their spiritual world could 
not be disturbed by bleeding feet, insufferable heat, and 
deadly tiredness. Never have I experienced such com- 
plete spiritual calm, such peace within myself, and such 
contentment with life as when I was undergoing these 



298 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

hardships, and went forward under a rain of bullets to 
kill people. All this may seem wild and strange, but I 
am only writing the truth. 

However that may be, when others fell by the road- 
side I still kept up. 

In Tekuch I supplied myself with an enormous cala- 
bash water-bottle, holding at least four flaskfuls. It 
often cost me dear to fill it. Half of the water I used to 
keep for myself, and the other half I shared out to my 
comrades. A man would force himself to plod along, 
but in the end the heat would claim him. His legs would 
begin to bend under him, his body reel as if drunk. 
Through the thick layer of grime and dust could be seen 
the apoplectic hue of his face as his trembling hands 
gripped his rifle. A gulp of w^ater would revive him for 
a few minutes, but eventually the man would fall sense- 
less into the road thick with lime-dust. Hoarse voices 
would cry out *' Orderly !" It was the orderly's duty 
to drag the fallen man to one side, and assist him although 
he was himself almost in the same condition. The ditches 
along the road were sown with prostrate men. . . . 
Feodoroff and Jitkoff were marching alongside me, and, 
though obviously suffering, were endeavouring to hold 
out. The heat was affecting each reversely, according to 
his temperament. Talkative Feodoroff kept silent, merely 
giving an occasional deep sigh, and a piteous look was in 
his beautiful but now dust-inflamed eyes. *' Uncle " 
Jitkoff, on the other hand, kept up a continuous flow of 
abuse and argument. 

" Look at him, tumbling down — he wiU stick me with 

his bayonet, d n him ! ..." he would cry angrily, 

avoiding some fallen soldier, the point of whose bayonet 
had nearly caught him in the eye. " Lord ! why are you 
sending this on us ? If it wasn't for that brute I should 
fall myself." 

" Who is the brute, ' Uncle ' ?" I asked. 

*' Niemtseff, the Staff-Captain. He is orderly officer 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 299 

to-day, and is in the rear. Better to go ahead or else 
he will beat me black and blue." 

I already knew that the men had changed the name 
Ventzel into Niemtseff. The two names were not unlike 
in Russian. I stepped out of the ranks. It was a little 
easier marching along the side of the road. There was 
less dust and not so much jostling. Many were doing 
this. On this unfortunate day nobody cared about 
keeping the ranks. Gradually I dropped behind my 
company, and found myself at the tail of the column. 

Ventzel, worn out and breathless but excited, caught 
me up. 

*' How are you getting on ?" he inquired, in a hoarse 
voice. ** Let us go along the side of the road. I am 
absolutely worn out." 

" Do you want some water 7" 

He greedily took several gulps from my water-bottle. 
" Thank you, I feel better now. What a day !" 
For a little time we marched side by side in silence. 
*' By the way," he said, " you have not transferred 
yourself to Ivan Platonich ?" 
" No." 

" More fool you. Excuse my outspokenness. Au 
revoir. I am wanted at the tail of the column. For 
some reason many of these tender creations are falling 
down." 

Having gone a few paces farther, I turned my head 
and saw Ventzel bend over a fallen soldier, and drag him 
by the shoulder. 

" Get up, you blackguard ! Get up !" 
I literally did not recognize my educated conversation- 
alist. He was pouring out an endless flow of the coarsest 
abuse. The soldier was almost senseless, and his lips 
were murmuring something as he gazed up with a hopeless 
expression at the infuriated officer. 

" Get up ! Get up immediately , Aha ! you won't ? 
Then take that, and that, and that !" 



300 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

Ventzel had seized his sword, and was dealing blow 
after blow with its iron scabbard over the wretched man's 
shoulders, all blistered and aching from the weight of his 
knapsack and rifle. I could stand it no longer, and went 
up to Ventzel. 

" Peter Nicolaievitch !" 

" Get up ! . . ." His arm with the sword was once 
more raised for a blow, when I succeeded in seizing it 
firmly. 

" For God's sake, Peter Nicolaievitch, leave him 
alone !" 

He turned a frenzied face towards me. He was a 
terrifying sight with his eyes half out of his head, and 
a distorted mouth, which was convulsively twitching. 
With a sharp movement he wrenched his arm from my 
hold. I thought that he would roar at me for my bold- 
ness (to seize an officer by the arm was certainly most 
daring), but he restrained himself. 

** Listen, Ivanoff ; never do this. If, in my place, there 
was some other brute, such as Schuroff or Timothieff, 
you would have paid dearly for your pleasantry. You 
must remember that you are a private, and that for such 
action you could be vvithout further words — shot." 

"It is all the same to me. I could not see and not 
interfere." 

" It does honour to your tender feelings. But apply 
them elsewhere. Can one act otherwise with these ? . . ." 
(His face assumed an expression of contempt — nay, more, 
hatred.) *' Perhaps ten of these scores who have given 
way and fallen down like a lot of old women are really 
absolutely played out. I am doing this not from cruelty. 
I have none in my nature. But one must maintain 
discipline. If it was possible to reason with them, I 
would talk, but words have no effect on them. They 
understand and feel only physical pain." 

I did not hear him out, but started to overtake my 
com-pany, which was already far av/ay. I caught up 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 301 

Feodoroff and JitkofT as our battalion debouched from 
the road into a field and was halted. 

" What were you talking about, Mikhailich, with Staff- 
Captain Ventzel ?" asked Feodoroff, when, thoroughly 
exhausted, I threw myself down near him, after having 
with difficulty piled my arm. 

" Talking," muttered Jitkoff. 

" Can you call it talking ? He seized him by the arm." 

'* Take care, Ivanoff, sir. Be careful of Niemtseff. 
Don't be misled because he likes to talk with you. It 
will cost you dear." 

IV 

Late that evening we reached Fokshan, passed through 
the unlighted, silent, and dusty little town, and came out 
somewhere into a field. It was as dark as pitch ; the 
battalions were camped anyhow, and worn-out men slept 
as if dead. Scarcely anyone cared to eat the " dinner " 
which had been prepared. The soldier's food is always 
dinner, whether it is early morning, daytime, or night. 
All night long stragglers were coming in. At dawn we 
were again on the march, but consoled ourselves with the 
act that at the end of it there was to be a day's halt. 

Once again the moving ranks, once again the knapsack 
presses benumbed shoulders, once again the pain of sore 
and bleeding feet. But the first ten versts were per- 
formed in a kind of stupor. The short sleep we had had 
was not able to destroy the fatigue of yesterday, and the 
men practically slept as they marched. I slept so soundly 
that when we had our first halt I could not believe we had 
already covered ten versts, and could not recall any one 
part of the road we had traversed. Only when, as a 
prelude to a halt, the columns begin to close in and 
re-form does one awake and think with joy of an hour's 
rest and the possibility of throwing off one's pack, of 
boiling water in one's canteen, and lying free whilst 
sipping hot tea. As soon as arms are piled and knap- 



302 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

sacks removed the majority commence collecting fire- 
wood — almost always the dry stalks of last year's maize- 
crops. Two bayonets are stuck into the ground, a ram- 
rod is laid on them, and two or three canteens hung on 
it. The dry, brittle stalks burn brightly and merrily. 
The flames lick the blackened canteens, and within ten 
minutes the water is boiling hard. The men used to 
throw the tea straight into the kettle, allowing it to boil 
for a short timxC, which resulted in a strong, almost black, 
tea, drunk for the most part without sugar, as the com- 
missariat, while issuing plenty of tea (the men even 
smoked it when out of tobacco), gave us very little sugar. 
The tea was drunk in enormous quantities. A canteen 
which held about seven glasses was the usual one man's 
portion. 

Perhaps it seems strange that I go into such details. 
But a soldier's life, when campaigning, is so hard, and 
entails so much deprivation, and the future holds out so 
little hope, that even tea or some such similar small 
luxury gives enormous pleasure. It was necessary to 
see, to realize with what serious, contented faces sunburnt, 
rough, and stem soldiers, young and old — true it is that 
there were scarcely any over forty years of age amongst 
us — like children, laid little sticks and stalks under the 
canteens, looked after the fire, and advised each other. 

" You, Lutikoff, push them to the edge. That's it. . . . 
They have begun to bum. Now the water will boil 
soon." 

Tea, and sometimes in cold and rainy weather a glass of 
vodka, or a pipe of tobacco, comprised the sum-total of 
a soldier's pleasures, excluding, of course, all-healing 
sleep, when it was possible to forget bodily misfortunes 
and thoughts of a dark and terrifying future. Tobacco 
played no small role amongst these joys of life, exciting 
and supporting exhausted nerves. A tightly filled pipe 
would go round ten men, and, being returned to its owner, 
he would take the last pull, knock out the ash, and, with 



REMINISCExNCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 303 

an air of importance, secrete the pipe in the upper part 
of his jack-boot. I remember my grief at the loss of my 
pipe by one of my friends to whom I had lent it for a 
smoke, and how he, too, was grieved and ashamed about 
it, just as if he had lost a whole fortune entrusted to him. 

At the chief halt (about midday) we used to rest for 
an hour and a half to two hours. After drinking our tea 
everyone would sleep. Quiet would reign in the bivouac. 
Only the sentry on the colours would pace to and fro, 
and some one or other of the officers would keep awake. 

We would lie on the ground with our knapsacks under 
our heads, neither asleep nor awake. The scorching sun 
would bum our faces and necks. Flies would keep buzzing 
everlastingly around us, making real sleep impossible. 
Dreams mingled with reality. It was so short a time ago 
that life had been so different that in half-conscious 
slumber one expected to wake and find oneself at home ; 
that this Steppe would disappear ; this bare soil, with 
thorny bushes in place of grass ; this pitiless sun and hot 
wind ; these thousands of strangely attired men in dust- 
stained shirts ; these piles of arms. It was all like some 
hideous nightmare. 

Then the powerful voice of our little bearded battalion 
Major, Chemoglazoff, would give the command, " Ri-ise," 
in a long-drawn-out and severe tone of voice, and the 
prostrate crowd of white shirts would move, stretch 
itself, rise, and commence to strap on its equipment, 
and form ranks — " Unpile arms !" 

We take our rifles. Even now I well remember my 
rifle, No. 18,635, with its stock rather darker than the 
others, and a long scratch along the dark varnish. Yet 
another command, and the battalion, forming column, 
turns on to the road. At the extreme front of the 
column the Major's horse was led, a prancing bay stallion 
called Vavara. The Major only rode on extreme occa- 
sions, always marching at the head of the battalion with 
Vavara, a true infantryman. He wished to show the 



304 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

soldiers that the '' authorities " also endeavoured to do 
their duty, and the soldiers loved him for it. He was 
always cool and collected, never joked nor smiled. He 
was the first to rise in the morning and the last to lie 
down at night. His manner toward the men was firm 
and restrained, and he never allowed himself to rage or 
shout without reason. It was said that but for. him 
goodness knows what Ventzel might have done. 

To-day is hot, but not like yesterday. We are no 
longer marching along the metalled road, but parallel 
with the railway, along a narrow by-road, so that most 
of us are marching over grass. There is no dust. Clouds 
are racing overhead. At intervals there are big rain- 
drops. We gaze upwards at the clouds and stretch out 
our hands to see if it is really raining. Even yesterday's 
stragglers have taken heart. It is no distance now, only 
some ten versts, and then a rest — the longed-for rest — not 
merely for one short night, but all night, the next day, and 
even that night too. The men, having cheered up, want 
to sing, and Feodoroff breaks out into the weU-known song 
about Poltava. Having sung how suddenly a mischief- 
making bullet found its way into the Imperial head- 
dress, he switched off into an idiotic and somewhat 
obscene, but extremely popular, song amongst men, about 
a certain Liza who went into the woods and found a bee- 
hive there, and all that happened from this find. Then 
followed the historic song about Peter the Great and the 
Senate, and, finally, a song of some fifty verses, an effort 
by the local talent of our battalion. 

" Feodoroff," I asked one day, *' why do you sing all 
that bosh about Liza ?" 

I mentioned several other songs, idiotic and cynical to 
a degree. 

" Orders, Vladimir Mikhailich. But why ? Do you 
really call it singing ? It is really a kind of screeching, 
just to work the chest and to make marching more 
lively." 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 305 

The singers tire themselves out, and the band begins 
to play. It is much easier to step out to the measured, 
loud, and, for the most part, lively marches. All, even 
the most tired, pull themselves together, march strictly 
in step, and keep their dressing. It is difficult to recog- 
nize the battahon. I remember how once we marched 
more than six versts in an hour without feeling tired, 
thanks to the band. But when the exhausted bandsmen 
ceased playing, the influence of the music went, and I 
felt as if I should drop straightaway, and so I should have 
done had not there been an opportune halt. 

About five versts from our halt we came upon an 
obstacle. We were marching through the valley of some 
little river. On the one side there were mountains and 
on the other a narrow and somewhat high railway embank- 
ment. The recent rains had flooded the valley and con- 
verted our road into a kind of lake about thirty sajenes 
wide. The bed of the railway rose above it like a dam, 
and we had to cross over by it. A ganger on the line let 
the first battalion over, which thus successfully avoided 
the lake, but then declared that a train was due in five 
minutes' time, and we must wait. We halted and had 
just piled arms, when the well-known carriage of the 
Brigadier-General appeared at the turn of the road. 

He was a great man. I have never heard such a voice 
as he possessed, either on the operatic stage or amongst 
cathedral choirs. The echoes of his bass resounded in 
the air like a trumpet, his big well-fed figure, with its red, 
big head, enormous dark-coloured whiskers waving in the 
breeze, and heavy black eyebrows surmounting tiny little 
eyes, which shone like needles, was a most inspiring 
sight as he sat on his horse giving commands to the 
brigade. On one occasion on the manoeuvre-ground at 
Moscow during some evolutions, his appearance and 
general demeanour were so martial and inspiring that an 
old man in the crowd in a fit of enthusiasm shouted out : 

" Bravo ! That's the sort we want !" 

20 



3o6 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

Since which occasion the General has always been 
known as '' Bravo." 

He had ambitions. He carried several small volumes 
on military history throughout the campaign. His 
favourite topic of conversation with his officers was 
criticism of the Napoleonic campaigns. I, of course, only 
knew of this from hearsay, as we seldom saw our General. 
Generally he caught us up midway in the day's march in 
his carriage, drawn by a troika. Having arrived at the 
quarters for the night, he would occupy a lodging and 
stay there until late the next morning and again catch us 
up during the day, w^hen the men would always remark 
on the particular degree of purple in the face and the 
hoarseness accompanying his deafening salute to us : 

'' Health to you, Starobieltzi !" 

" We wish Your Excellency health," the men would 
reply, adding to themselves : " Old Bravo is off for 
another booze." 

And the General would go ahead, sometimes without 
any incident, and sometimes bestowing en route a thun- 
derous " head-washing " on some poor company com- 
mander. 

Noticing that the battalion had halted, the General 
rushed at us and jumped out of his carriage as quickly as 
his corpulency would admit. The Major went up to him. 

" Wliat's this ? Why have you halted ? Who gave 
you leave ?" 

" Your Excellency, the road is under water, and a train 
is expected shortly over the rails." 

" Road under water ? Train ? Bosh ! You are mak- 
ing old women of the men, teaching them to be molly- 
coddles. Don't halt without orders ! Consider yourself, 
sir, under arrest ..." 

" Your Excellency ..." 

*' Don't answer me !" 

The General raised his eyes threateningly and turned 
his attention on another victim. 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 307 

" Why, what's this ? Why is the commander of the 
second rifle company not in his place ? Staff-Captain 
Ventzel, come here, please !" 

Ventzel went forward, and the General poured a torrent 
of rage on him. I heard how Ventzel tried to reply, 
raising his voice, but the General shouted him down, and 
it was only possible to guess that Ventzel had said some- 
thing disrespectful. 

** You dare to reply ? To be impertinent ?" thun- 
dered the General. " Hold your tongue ! Take his 
sword from him. Go to the money-chest, under arrest ! 
An example to the men. . . . Afraid of water ! My men, 
after me ! Remember Suvoroff !" 

The General went rapidly past the battalion with the 
cramped gait of one who has been sitting for a long time 
in a carriage. 

" Follow me ! Children ! Remember Suvoroff !" he 
repeated, and waded in his patent-leather jack-boots 
into the water. The Major, with a malicious expression 
on his face, glanced back and went forward with the 
General. The battalion moved after them. At first the 
water was knee-high, then it reached the waist, then 
higher and higher. The tall General moved freely, but 
the little Major was already striking out with his arms. 
The men, just like a flock of sheep when crossing a stream, 
jostled each other and staggered from side to side as they 
pulled their feet out of the soft clayey bottom in which 
they kept sticking. The company commanders and 
the battalion Adjutant, who were riding, and could have, 
in consequence, crossed over very comfortably, seeing the 
example set by the General, followed it, dismounted, and, 
leading their horses, waded into the muddy water, which 
had been churned up by hundreds of soldiers' feet. Our 
company, composed of the tallest men in the battalion, 
crossed with comparative comfort, but the eighth com- 
pany, which was marching abreast of us, and was com- 
posed of undersized men, were almost up to their ears in 



3o8 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

the water. Some of them even began to choke and clutch 
at us. A little gipsy soldier, with blanched face and 
terrified, wide-opened eyes, seized " Uncle " Jitkoff by 
the neck with both hands, having thrown away his rifle. 
Luckily for the gipsy, somebody seized it from going to 
the bottom. 

Ten sajenes farther on the water became shallower, 
and everyone, being now out of danger, commenced to 
scramble out as quickly as possible, pushing and swearing 
at each other. Many of us laughed, but it was no laugh- 
ing matter for the soldiers of the eighth company. Many 
of their faces were blue not only from cold. Behind us 
pressed the riflemen. 

** Now then, whipper-snappers, scramble out ! They 
have sunk !" they cried. 

" Very easy to have drowned," replied the eighth com- 
pany. " It was all right for him ; he only wetted his 
whiskers. What a hero ! People could be drowned 
here." 

*' You should have sat in my canteen. I would have 
taken you over dry." 

" I didn't think of that," replied the little soldier good- 
humouredly at the gibe. 

The cause of all this bustle having already succeeded 
in freeing his feet from the sticky bottom, and having got 
out of the water, was standing in a majestic pose on the 
bank, looking at the struggling mass of humanity in the 
water. He was wet to the skin, and had in reality soaked 
himself and his long whiskers. The w^ater was trickling 
from his clothes. His polished leather top-boots were 
bulging with water, but he continued to shout encourage- 
ment to the men. 

" Forward, my children ! Remember Suvoroff !" 

The soaking officers with gloomy faces were crowd- 
ing around him. Amongst them was Ventzel, with dis- 
torted face, and minus his sword. Meanwhile the 
General's coachman, having reached the bank, and 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 309 

having pushed off into the water, sat on the box 
with a huge whip, and got over successfully, a little 
to one side of the spot where he had crossed, and 
where the water scarcely reached the axles of the 
carriage-wheel. 

" That is where, Your Excellency, we should have 
crossed over," said the Major quietly. *' Will you order 
the men to dry themselves ?" 

" Certainly, certainly, Sergei Nicolaich," replied the 
General calmly. The cold water had quenched his ardour. 
He got into his carriage, sat down ; then again stood up 
and cried out at the top of his extraordinarily powerful 
voice : 

" Thank you, Starobieltzi ! You are good fellows." 

" Pleased to try. Your Excellency !" replied the men 
in salute somewhat confusedly. And the dripping 
General drove off ahead. 

The sun was still high. There were only five more 
versts to go, so the Major made a prolonged halt. We 
undressed, lit fires, dried our clothes, boots, knapsacks, 
and pouches, and two hours afterwards started off again, 
even laughing at the recollection of our bath. 

" And so old Bravo has sent Ventzel off under arrest !" 
said Feodoroff. 

'* A good job. Let him march a day or two with the 
money-chest," came the reply from someone in the 
riflemen company behind us. 

" What's that to do with you ?" 

" With me ! Not only with me, but for the whole 
company it will be easier. At least we shall have a rest 
for a couple of days. We can't stick him — that's what 
it is to do with me !" 

** Patience brings everything about." 

" Patience is all right, but it doesn't always bring 
everything," said Jitkoff in his usual surly tone. " If 
only the Turk will kill him !" 

" And you, ' Uncle' Jitkoff, don't despair. You have 



310 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

to think about our no longer being wet, that we are 
marching dry, and old Bravo is riding wet," said 
Feodoroff, amidst general laughter. 



We continued to march parallel with the railway. 
Trains filled with men, horses, and supplies were con- 
tinually passing us. The men looked enviously at the 
goods waggons being whirled past us, through the open 
doors of which were to be seen horses' muzzles. 

'* Eh ? But what luck for the horses ! Meanwhile we 
have to walk." 

" A horse is stupid, and gets thin," argued Vasili 
Karpich. '' But you are a man, and can look after your- 
self properly." 

Once, when we were halted, a Cossack galloped up to 
the Major with an important piece of news. We were 
ordered to fall in without knapsacks or arms, just in our 
vrhite shirts. None of us knew what this meant. The 
officers examined us. Ventzel, as usual, was shouting 
and swearing, tugging at badly-put-on belts, and with 
kicks ordering men to adjust their shirts. Then they 
marched us to the bed of the railway, and after a good 
deal of manoeuvring, the regiment was stretched in two 
ranks along the route. The line of white shirts extended 
more than a verst. 

*' Children," shouted the Major, " His Majesty the 
Emperor is passing by !" 

And we commenced to await the Emperor. Our 
division was an outlying one, stationed far from Peters- 
burg and Moscow. Barely one-tenth of the men com- 
posing it had ever seen their Tsar, and all waited the 
Imperial train impatiently. Half an hour passed by, and 
no train. The men were allowed to sit down, and began 
to talk. 

" Will the train stop ?" asked someone. 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 311 

** Don't reckon on that ! Stopping for every regi- 
ment ! He will look at us out of the window, and that's 
good enough for us." 

" And we shall not distinguish which is he. There are 
a number of Generals with him." 

" I shall know. The year before last I saw him at 

K as close as that ; " and the soldier stretched out 

his hand to show how close he had been to the Emperor. 

Finally, after two hours' expectancy, smoke appeared 
in the distance. The regiment rose and took up its 
proper dressing. First passed the train with the servants 
and kitchen. The cooks and their assistants in white 
caps looked at us out of the windows, and for some 
reason laughed. About 200 sajenes behind came the 
Imperial train. The engine-driver, seeing the regiment 
drawn up, slackened speed, and the carriages slowly 
rumbled past before eyes greedily searching the windows. 
But aU had the blinds drawn. A Cossack and an officer, 
standing on the platform of the last carriage, were the 
sole persons on the train whom we saw. We stood 
gazing after the faster and faster receding train for another 
three minutes, and then returned to our bivouac. The 
men were disappointed, and expressed their disappoint- 
ment. 

*' When shall we ever see him now ?" 

But we were soon to see him. They told us that the 
Emperor would review us before the town of Ploeshti. 

We marched past before him, as on the march, in the 
same dirty white shirts and trousers, in the same browned 
and dusty boots, with the same ugly strapped-on knap- 
sacks, ration-bags, and bottles on string. The soldier had 
nothing of the young dandy or dashing hero in appear- 
ance. Each much more closely resembled a simple 
common moujik. Only the rifle and ammunition- 
pouches showed that this moujik was off to the war. 
We were drawn up in columns of fours, as we could not 
have marched through the narrow streets of the town in 



312 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

any other formation. I marched by the side, and tried 
above all not to get out of step and to keep my dressing, 
and reflected that if the Emperor and his suite chanced 
to be standing on my side, I should pass close to him, 
right under his eyes. Chancing to glance at Jitkoff 
marching abreast of me, at his face, as always, severe and 
sombre, but now flushed, I became infected with the 
general excitement, and my heart beat quicker, and I 
suddenly felt that it all depended on us as to how the 
Emperor regarded us. I felt much the same sort of sen- 
sation the first time I came under fire. 

The men marched faster and faster, the pace became 
longer and the gait freer and more firm. There was no 
need for me to adapt myself to the general pace. All 
tiredness had vanished just as if we had all grown wings 
which were bearing us forward to that point whence 
already we could hear the crash of bands and deafening 
hurrahs. I don't remember the streets through which 
we passed, nor the people in them, or whether they looked 
at us. I remember only the excitement which possessed 
me, and the consciousness of the compelling, tremendous 
strength of the mass of which I was a member. One 
felt that nothing was impossible for this mass, that the 
torrent of which I was a struggling component part could 
know no obstacle, but could smash, extirpate, destroy 
all in its path, and each one thougth that He, past whom 
this torrent was streaming, could, with one word, by one 
wave of the hand, alter its courses, turn it back, or again 
hurl it at terrifying obstacles. Each one wished to find 
in the word of this one man, and in the movement of his 
hand, the unknown something which was sending us to 
death. *' Thou art sending us " — each one thought — 
*' and we are giving thee our lives. Look at us and rest 
assured. We are ready to die." 

And He knew we were ready to die for him. He saw 
the terrifying rows of determined men V\-hich were passing 
him almost at the double, the men of his own poor 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 313 

country, poorly clad, simple soldiers, they were all going 
to death calm and free of responsibility. 

He was sitting on a grey horse which stood motionless 
with ears pricked alert at the music and the mad, en- 
thusiastic shouts. A brilliant suite was round him. 
But I do not remember any of the brilliant crowd of 
horsemen excepting that one man on a grey horse in 
simple uniform and white cap. I remember his pale 
worn face — worn with the consciousness of the weighty 
decision taken. I remember how tears like big raindrops 
were running down his cheeks, falling on the dark cloth 
of his uniform in bright glistening splashes. I remember 
the trembling lips murmuring something which was 
doubtless a welcome to the thousands of young lives 
about to perish and for whom he was weeping. All this 
appeared and disappeared, lighted up with the rapidity 
of lightning, as I, breathless, not from running, but from 
mad, delirious enthusiasm, doubled past him with rifle 
raised high in one hand, and with the other waving my 
cap above my head, yelling a deafening hurrah, which, 
however, I could not even hear in the general roar. 

AU this flashed up and disappeared. The dusty streets 
bathed in a scorching heat, the exhausting excitement, 
the soldiers worn out by excitement and from having 
doubled for a distance of nearly one verst under a baking 
sun. The shouts of the officers calling on the men to 
keep formation and in step — that is all I saw and heard 
five minutes later. 

After we had marched a further two versts through the 
stifling town and reached the common on which we were 
to bivouac, I threw myself to the ground, utterly worn 
out, body and soul. 

VI 

Difficult marches, dust, heat, fatigue, bleeding feet' 
brief halts by day, deathlike slumber by night, the hated 
bugle waking us at scarce dawn, and all the time fields — 



314 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

fields. Not like those in our own country, but covered 
with high, green, loudly-rustling, long, silky leaves of 
maize or wheat, already in places turning yellow. 

The same faces, the same regimental life, the same 
topics of conversation and tales of home, of the halt in 
the provincial town, and criticisms of the officers. 

Of the future we seldom and unwillingly spoke. We 
only knew vaguely that we were going to war, notwith- 
standing the fact that we had halted not far from Kishineff 
for a whole six months, although quite ready to march. 
It would have been possible during that time to have 
explained why we were preparing for war, but I suppose 
it was not considered necessary. I remember a soldier 
one day asked me : 

" Vladimir Mikhailich, shall we soon arrive in Bokhara ?" 

I thought at first that I had not heard correctly, but 
when he repeated the question I replied that Bokhara 
was beyond two seas, four thousand versts away, and we 
v/ere never likely to get there. 

'' No, Mikhailich, don't talk like that. One of the 
regimental clerks has told me. He says that we shall 
cross the Danube, and then we shall be in Bokhara." 

" Not Bokhara — Bulgaria !" I exclaimed. 

** Well, Bokhara or Bulgaria, whichever you call it, 
isn't it all the same ?" 

And he said no more, evidently dissatisfied. 

We only knew that we were going to kill the Turk 
because he had shed much blood. And we wanted to kill 
him, not so much for the blood he had shed of persons 
not known to us, but because he had upset so many 
people that, through it, we were forced to experience a 
hard campaign (" for which we are going a thousand 
versts to him, the unclean beast !"). Those on furlough 
and reservists were obliged to leave home and family, 
and all go together somewhere under shell and bullet. 
The Turk was pictured as a rioter and ringleader, whom 
it was necessary to pacify and subdue. 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 315 

We occupied ourselves much more with our family, 
battalion, and company affairs than in the war. In our 
company all was quiet and peaceful. But matters went 
from bad to worse with the rifle company. Ventzel did 
not grow more sensible. Secret indignation grew, and 
after one incident, which, even now, five years after- 
wards, I cannot remember without becoming worked up, 
it developed into regular hatred. 

We had just passed through a town, and had come 
out on to a field where the first regiment, marching ahead 
of us, had already pitched its tents. The camp was a 
good one. On one side was a river, on the other an old 
clean oak grove, probably a resort of the local inhabi- 
tants. It was a nice warm evening. The sun was setting. 
We halted and piled arms. I and Jitkoff began to pitch 
our shelter. We had fixed up the supports. I was 
holding one edge of the sheet, and Jitkoff was hammering 
in a peg with a stick. 

'' Tighter, hold it tighter, Mikhailich." (He had for 
some days past commenced to address me in this intimate 
way.) " There, that's right." 

But at this moment from behind us there came some 
strange measured smacking sounds. I turned round. 

The riflemen were standing in line. Ventzel, shouting 
out something hoarsely, was hitting one of the soldiers 
in the face. The man, with a face pale as death, holding 
his rifle at the order and not daring to avoid the blows, 
was trembling all over. Ventzel' s thin, small body 
swayed with the force of the blows he was dealing with 
both hands, first the right and then the left. Everyone 
around was silent — only the smack was heard and the 
hoarse muttering of the infuriated commander. Every- 
thing went dark, and began to swim before me. I made 
a movement. Jitkoff understood it, and tugged with all 
his strength at the tent sheet. 

" Hang on to it, d n you, you awkward " he 

shouted, showering the most abusive epithets on me. 



3i6 REMIiNISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

" Have your hands withered or what ? Where are you 
looking ? Have you never seen it before ?" 

The blows continued to resound. Blood was trickling 
from the man's upper lip and chin. At last he fell, 
Ventzel turned round, and glaring full at the whole 
company, shouted : 

" If anyone else dares to smoke, I will treat the black- 
guard worse. Lift him up, wash his ugly face, and put 
him in the tent. Let him lie there. Pile arms !" he 
commanded. 

His hands Vv-ere trembling, red, swollen, and covered 
with blood. He took out a handkerchief, wiped his 
hands, and left the men, who had piled their arms and 
were dangerously silent. Several of them, muttering 
amongst themselves, collected around the bruised victim, 
and raised him. Ventzel was walking with a nervous, 
worn-out gait. He was pale and his eyes glistened. The 
twitching of his muscles told how hard his teeth were set. 
He went past us, and, meeting my searching look, he 
smiled with his thin lips, only in an unnatural, derisive 
manner, and, muttering something, went on. 

** Bloodsucker !" said Jitkoff, with hatred in his voice. 
*' And you too, sir. . . . What did you want to go there 
for ? Do you want to be shot ? Wait a little, and they 
will get even with him." 

" Will they complain ?" I asked. " If so, to whom ?" 

" No, there will be no complaint. We also will do 
something." 

And he muttered something almost to himself. I 
dared not understand him. Feodoroff, who had already 
been amongst the riflemen and asked what it was all 
about, came back to us. 

" He bullies the m.en without any reason," he said. 
*' This little soldier, Matushkin, was smoking on the 
march. When they halted he ordered his rifle, keeping 
the cigarette between his fingers. Evidently, and un- 
luckily for him, he forgot all about it. ' But Ventzel 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 317 

noticed it. Brute, beast !" he added sorrowfully, laying 
himself down in the tent, which was now ready. " The 
cigarette was out. It's quite clear the poor beggar had 
forgotten." 

In the course of a few days we marched into Alexandria, 
where an enormous number of troops had collected. 
Whilst still coming down the high mountain, we saw an 
enormous expanse dotted with white tents and the black 
figures of men, long horse lines and glistening rows of 
guns with their green carriages and limbers. Whole 
crowds of officers and men were wandering through the 
streets of the town. Lugubrious, mournful Hungarian 
music, mingling with the clatter of dishes and loud con- 
versation, came from the open windows of crowded and 
dirty hotels. The little shops were crammed with Russian 
purchasers. Our soldiers, Roumanians, foreigners, and 
Jews shouted loudly at each other, without making 
themselves understood. Quarrels as to the rate of ex- 
change on the paper rouble could be heard at every step. 

*' Where is the Post-Office ?" with exaggerated cour- 
tesy and touching the peak of his kepi with his hand, 
inquires of a smartly - dressed Roumanian an officer 
equipped with a " Soldier's Translator," a little book 
with which the troops had been supplied. The Rou- 
manian explains. The officer turns over the pages of 
the book, looking for a translation of the unintelligible 
words, and understands nothing, but still thanks him 
politely. " Tfy, you comrades ! What a people ! Our 
priests and our churches, and yet you can't understand 
a word !" 

" Will you take a silver rouble for this ?" a soldier 
shouts at the top of his voice, holding up a shirt in his 
hands to a Roumanian trading at an open stall. " How 
much for the shirt ? Five francs ? Four francs ?" 

He draws out the money, shows it, and the business 
ends in mutual satisfaction. 

" Make way, make way, chums, the General's coming." 



3i8 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

A tall, young-looking General, in a smart jacket and 
high boots, with a cossack whip hanging by its lash over 
his shoulder, came rapidly along the street. Several 
paces behind him was an orderly, a little Asiatic in a 
coloured robe and turban, with an enormous sword and 
a revolver at his belt. The General, holding his head 
well up, and with good-natured indifference looking at 
the men as they saluted and made way for him, passed 
into an hotel. Here I, Ivan Platonich, and Stebelkoff 
were ensconced in a comer swallowing down some local 
dish composed of red pepper and meat. The dilapidated 
room, laid out with little tables, was full of people. The 
clatter of dishes, the popping of corks, and the hum of 
sober and drunken voices, were all hidden by the orchestra, 
which was seated in a kind of alcove decorated with 
red stuff curtains. There were five musicians. Two 
violins were scraping away furiously. A 'cello was boom- 
ing on two or three notes, whilst a double-bass roared. 
But all these instruments merely formed an accompani- 
ment for a fifth. A swarthy, curly-haired Hungarian, 
almost a boy, sat in front of all. From inside the wide 
velvet collar of his coat there projected a strange-looking 
instrument, a wooden flute of the precise pattern that 
Pan and the Fauns are always depicted as playing. It 
consisted of a row of uneven wooden pipes, so fastened 
together that their open ends rested against the lips of 
the artist. The Hungarian, turning his head first to one 
side then to another, blew into these pipes, producing 
powerful, melodious sounds, not unlike those of a flute 
or clarionet. He executed the most tricky and difficult 
passages by shaking and turning his head. His black 
greasy locks danced on his head and fell over his forehead. 
His red face was covered with perspiration, and the veins 
stood out on his neck. It was evidently a difficult job. . . . 
Against the discordant accompaniment of the stringed 
instruments, the sound of the pan-pipes stood out sharply, 
clearly, and wildly beautiful. 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 319 

The General took his place at a table around which 
were some officers knowTi to him, bowed to all who had 
risen at his entry, and loudly said, '* Be seated, gentle- 
men," which applied to the rank and file present. We 
finished our dinner in silence. Ivan Platonich ordered a 
bottle of red Roumanian wine, and after the second bottle, 
when his face had taken on a jovial expression and his 
cheeks and nose had become brightly tinted, he turned 
to me : 

" You, young man, tell me. . . . Do you remember 
when we had the big halt ?" 

" I do, Ivan Platonich." 

*' Did you speak with Ventzel then ?" 

" I did." 

*' Did you seize him by the arm ?" inquired the Captain, 
in a pretematurally solemn tone. And when I replied I 
had done so he gave a prolonged deep sigh and began to 
blink in an agitated manner. 

'' You did wrong . . . you acted stupidly. Look here, 
I don't want to reprimand you. You did very well . . . 
that is, it was contrary to all discipline. . . . Oh, damn it ! 
what am I saying ? You will excuse me. ..." 

He remained silent, gazing at the floor and breathing 
heavily. I also was silent. Ivan Platonich gulped down 
half a glass and then smacked me on the knee. 

'* Give me a promise that you will not do such a thing 
again. I quite understand. ... It is difficult for a new- 
comer. But what good can you do by it ? He is such 
a mad dog, this Ventzel. WeU, look here. ..." 

Ivan Platonich evidently could not find the right word, 
and after a long pause again had recourse to his glass. 

" That is . . . you see . . . he is a good chap really. It 
is a kind of . . . deuce knows what — a kind of madness of 
his. You yourself saw how I, too, knocked one of the 
men about a little not long ago. But if the idiot won't 
understand his mistakes. , . . You know he is such a 
wooden . . . But I, Vladimir Mikhailich, act like a father 



320 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

to them. I swear I have no maHce against them, even 
though I do flare up sometimes. But as for Ventzel, it 
has got into his system. Hey, you !" — he shouted to one 
of the Roumanian waiters — " another bottle. . . . And 
some day he will be court-martialled or even worse. The 
men will get revengeful, and the first time under fire. . . . 
It will be a pity, because all the same he is a good man, 
as you know. And even a warm-hearted fellow." 

" What !" Stebelkoff exclaimed. " What warm- 
hearted man would act like he does ?" 

** You should have seen, Ivan Platonich, what your 
warm-hearted man did the other day." 

And I told the Captain how Ventzel had knocked about 
one of the men for smoking in the ranks. 

" There you are, there you are. ..." 

Ivan Platonich turned red, puffed, stopped short, and 
again commenced to talk. " But for all that he is not a 
beast. Whose men are best fed ? Ventzel's. Which are 
the best-trained men ? Ventzel's. In which company 
are there practically no fines ? Who never sends his men 
up for court-martial, unless a man does something very 
bad ? Always Ventzel. If it were not for this unhappy 
weakness of his the men would carry him shoulder high." 

" Have you spoken about it to him, Ivan Platonich ?" 

" I have spoken and argued a dozen times. What can 
you do with him ? ' Either they are soldiers or militia, ' 
he says. Those are the silly kind of speeches he makes. 
* War,* says he, * is so cruel that even if I am cruel with 
the men it is but a drop in the ocean. . . .' * They,' he 
says, * are in such a low state of development. . . .' In a 
word, the deuce knows what he doesn't say.'l All the same 
he is an excellent chap. He doesn't drink or play cards. 
He is a conscientious soldier, helps his old father and a 
sister, and is a splendid companion. Moreover, he is the 
best-read man in the regiment. And mark my word, he 
will either be court-martialled, or they " — he nodded his 
head towards the window — " will deal with him. It's a 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 321 

bad job. And that's how the matter stands, my most 
worthy trooper." 

Ivan Platonich gave me a kindly pat on my shoulder- 
strap and then dived his hand into his pocket, brought 
out a tobacco-pouch, and commenced to roll a gigantic 
cigarette, which he stuck into an enormous amber mouth- 
piece on which was the inscription ** Caucasus " in oxidized 
silver. Sticking the holder into his mouth, he silently 
pushed the pouch towards me. We were all three smok- 
ing, and the Captain recommenced : 

'' Sometimes it is impossible not to hit them. They 
are really like children. Do you know Balunoff ?" 

Stebelkoff suddenly burst out laughing. 

" Well, what's the matter, Stebelkoff ?" grunted Ivan 
Platonich. '* Balunoff is an old soldier who has often 
been punished. He has served twenty years, and yet 
they will not let him go on account of his various offences. 
Well, this rascal once . . . You weren't with us then. 
When we were leaving a village near Kishineff an order 
was given to inspect all the extra pairs of boots. I drew 
the men up in line, and walking behind them to see if 
any of the boot-tops were sticking out of the knapsacks, 
saw that Balunoff had none. 'Where are your boots ?' 
' I have put them inside my knapsack for safety, 
sir.' * That's a lie.' 'Not at all, sir. They are in 
my knapsack so as not to g&i wet,' the blackguard 
replied. 

" ' Take off your knapsack and open it. I noticed he 
didn't open it, but dragged the tops of the boots from 
under the cover. 

" ' Open it.' 'I can take them out without opening it, 
sir.' " 

" However, I made him open the knapsack, and what 
do you think ? He dragged a live sucking-pig by the 
ears out of it. Its snout was tied up with string so that 
it shouldn't squeak. With his right hand at the salute 
he stood and grinned, and with his left hand held the pig. 



322 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

He had stolen it, the rascal, from the Moldavians. Well, 
of course I hit him, but not hard." 

Stebelkoff roared with laughter, and, scarcely able to 
speak, said : '' Yes . . . and do you know, Ivanoff, what 
he hit him with ? . . . With the pig !" 

" Yes, but couldn't you have avoided that, Ivan 
Platonich ?" 

" Oh you ! Upon my word, it makes me tired to listen 
to you. I couldn't court-martial him for it, could I ?" 



VII 

On the night of the 14 th to 15 th of June Feodoroff woke me. 

" Mikhailich, do you hear ?" 

" What is it ?" 

'' Firing. They are crossing the Danube." 

I began to listen. A strong wind was blowing, driving 
before it lowering black clouds which hid the moon. It 
blew against the canvas of our tents, making them flap, 
whistled through the guy-ropes, and made a faint sighing 
sound through the piles of arms. Through these sounds 
could be heard occasional deep reports. 

" Many are being killed now," whispered Feodoroff with 
a sigh. " Will they order us forward or not ? What do 
you think ? It sounds like thunder." 

" Perhaps it is only a thunderstorm ?" 

"No, it is so regular. Listen, do you hear them one 
after another ?" 

The booming was certainly very regular in its intervals. 
I crawled out of the tent and gazed in the direction of the 
sounds. No flashes of flame were visible. Sometimes a 
light appeared to be visible to the straining eyes in the 
direction whence the reports were coming, but it was only 
fancy. 

At last it has come, I thought. 

And I tried to picture to myself what was happening 
in the darkness there. I imagined a wide black river with 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 323 

precipitous banks, utterly unlike the real Danube as I 
afterwards saw it. Hundreds of boats are crossing. 
These measured, frequent shots are at them. Will many 
of them escape ? A cold shiver ran down my back. 
" Would I like to be there ?" I asked myself involuntarily. 

I gazed at the sleeping camp. All was quiet. In the 
intervals between the distant thunder of guns and the 
noise of the wind could be heard the heavy breathing of 
the men. And I had a sudden passionate longing that all 
this should not take place, that the march should 
continue, that all these soundly sleeping men and with 
them myself should not be obliged to go where the firing 
was taking place. 

Sometimes the cannonade became heavier. Sometimes 
I heard confusedly a less loud deep noise. They are 
firing volleys, I thought, not knowing that we were still 
twenty versts from the Danube and that a painfully 
strained imagination was creating these sounds. But 
though imaginary, they roused, nevertheless, quickened 
fancy, causing it to picture fearful scenes. In imagination 
I heard the cries and groans, I saw thousands of human 
beings falling, and heard the desperate hoarse hurrahs. 
I pictured the bayonet charge, the carnage. And if beaten 
oft, it will all be for nothing ! 

Grey dawn commenced in the dark east. The wind 
began to die away. The clouds parted, disclosing stars 
waning in the paling heavens. It grew lighter. Some- 
body in the camp awoke and, hearing the sounds of battle, 
aroused the others. They spoke little and quietly. The 
unknown had approached closely to us. No one knew 
what the morrow would bring. No one cared to think or 
speak of it. 

I slept until daylight and awoke rather late. The 
cannon continued to rumble deeply, and, although no 
news had come from the Danube, there were rumours 
amongst us, each one more improbable than the other. 
Some said that we had already crossed and were pursuing 



324 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

the Turks, others said the attempt to cross had failed and 
whole regiments had been destroyed. 

'* Some had been drowned, others had been shot," said 
someone. 

" And you are lying," interrupted Vassili Karpich. 

" Why am I lying, if it is true ?" 

" True ! Who told you ?" 

" What ?" 

" The truth ? Where did you hear it ?" 

** We all know. The firing goes on and nothing more." 

" All say it. A Cossack has been to the General, 
and . . ." 

*' Cossack ! Did you see him ? What is he like, this 
Cossack ?" 

*' An ordinary Cossack . . . just as he ought to look." 

" As he ought to ! What a tongue you have got — 
just like an old woman. Better to keep your mouth shut. 
No one has been, so no one could know." 

I went to Ivan Platonich. The officers were sitting 
fully equipped and ready, with their revolvers fastened 
to their waist-belts. Ivan Platonich, as usual, was red, 
puffing, and breathing heavily, and was wiping [his neck 
with a dirty handkerchief. Stebelkoff was excited, bright, 
and for some reason had pomaded his usually drooping 
moustaches so that they stuck out in pointed ends. 

" Look at our Lieutenant ! He has got himself up for 
action," said Ivan Platonich, winking at him. " Ah, my 
dear chap, I am sorry for you. We shall have no such 
moustaches in our mess ! They will do for you, Stebel- 
koff," said the Captain jokingly. *' Well, you are not 
afraid ?" 

" I shall try not to be," said Stebelkoff in a brave 
voice. 

" Well, and you, you warrior, is it terrifying ?" 

" I don't know, Ivan Platonich. . . . Has nothing been 
heard from there ?" 

" Nothing. The Lord only knows what is happening 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 325 

there." Ivan Platonich sighed deeply. *' We move off 
in an hour's time," he added after a short pause. 

The fly of the tent opened, and the Adjutant Lukin 
poked his head in. He looked very serious and pale. 

" You here, Ivanoff ? Orders have been given to swear 
you in. . . . Not now, but when we move off. Ivan 
Platonich, a fifth packet of cartridges to the men." 

He refused to come in and sit down, saying that he had 
much to do, and went off somewhere. I also left. 

About twelve o'clock dinners were served. The men 
ate little. After dinner we were ordered to remove our 
sight-protectors (leather covers) from our rifles ana extra 
ammunition was issued. The men began to prepare for 
action. They commenced to examine their knapsacks 
and throw away anything superfluous. Tom shirts and 
drawers, various kinds of rags, old boots, brushes, greasy 
handbooks — all were thrown away. Some of the men 
appeared to have brought a quantity of useless things in 
their knapsacks as far as the Danube. I saw a " schelkun " 
— a small piece of wood used in time of peace before 
parades and reviews for polishing kit-straps — lying on the 
ground, heavy stone pomade jars, all sorts of small boxes 
and bits of boards, and even a whole boot-tree. 

" Go on ; throw away. It will be easier marching. We 
shall not want them to-morrow." 

" Five hundred versts I have carried you . . . and what 
for ?" argued Lutikoff, examining some rag. *' I can't 
take you with me." 

It became the fashion that day to throw away things 
and to clean out knapsacks. When v/e left the camp it 
showed up in the dark background of the Steppe as a 
quadrangular space dotted Math multi-coloured rags and 
other articles. 

Before marching, when the regiment was already 
standing waiting the word of command, several officers 
and our young regimental chaplain collected in front. I 
was called out of the ranks with four " volunteers " from 



326 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

other regiments. All had enlisted for the campaign. 
Having handed over our rifles to neighbours, we went 
forward and stood near the colours. My unknown com- 
rades were in a state of agitation, and I, too, felt my heart 
beating faster than usual. 

" Take hold of the colours," said the battalion com- 
mandant. The colour-bearer lowered the colour and 
others of the colour-party removed the case. An old 
faded green silk fabric unfolded to the wind. We stood 
around it, and, grasping the pole with one hand and 
holding the other aloft, we repeated the words of the 
chaplain, as he read out the ancient military oath of 
Peter's time. They recalled to me what Vassili Karpich 
had said on our: first march. Where does it come in ? 
thought I, and after a long list of the occasions and places 
on and in which His Imperial Majesty had served, I heard 
these words : " Do not spare your life." We five all 
repeated them in one voice, and, glancing at the rows of 
gloomy men ready for action, I felt that they were no 
empty words. 

We returned to our places. The regiment stirred, and 
dissolving into a long column, set off with forced step 
for the Danube. The firing which we had heard had now 
ceased. 

:{( ^ :{: H: ^ 

As through a dream I remember that march. The dust 
raised by the horses of Cossack regiments as they overtook 
us, the broad steppes sloping down to the Danube, the op- 
posite bank showing up blue, fifteen versts away. The 
fatigue, heat, and the jostling and fighting at the wells 
under Zimnitza. The dirty little town filled with troops, 
some Generals who waved their caps at us from a balcony 
and shouted " Hurrah !" to which we replied. 

" They have crossed ! The}^ are over !" buzzed voices 
around us. 

" Two hundred killed, five hundred wounded." 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 327 



VIII 

It was already dark when, having come down from the 
bank, we crossed a tributary of the Danube by a small 
bridge, and marched over a low sandy island still wet 
from the water which had but just receded from it. I 
remember the sharp clank of the bayonets of the soldiers 
as the men collided with each other in the darkness, the 
deep rumble of the artillery which had overtaken us, the 
black expanse of the wide river, the lights on the other 
bank, where we had to cross to-morrow, and where, I 
reflected, to-morrow would be a fresh battle. . . . Better 
not to think, better to sleep, I decided, and laid down on 
the watery sand. 

The sun was already high when I opened my eyes. 
Troops, transport, and parks were swarming over the 
sandy shore. At the very edge of the water they had 
already dug out gun-pits and trenches for the riflemen. 
Across the Danube, on its steep cliff could be discerned 
gardens and vineyards in which our troops swarmed. 
Behind these the land rose higher and higher, abruptly 
restricting the horizon. To the right, three versts from 
us, and showing white on the hills, were the houses and 
minarets of Sistovo. A steamer with a barge in tow was 
transferring battalion after battalion to the other side. 
On our side a little torpedo-boat was noisily blowing off 
steam. 

" A successful crossing, Vladimir Mikhailich," said 
Feodoroff to me gaily. 

" The same to you. Only we have not crossed yet." 

" We shaU directly. Look ; the steamer will soon take 
us over. They say a Turkish ironclad is not far away. 
This little samovar is ready for it." He pointed to the 
torpedo-boat. 

*' Great God ! but what a number have been killed," he 
continued, changing his tone. ** They are already bring- 
ing and bringing them over from that side. ..." 



328 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

And he related to me the well-known details of the 
Battle of Sistovo. 

** Now it is our turn. We chaU cross over to that 
side. . . . The Turks will attack us. . . . Well, anyhow, 
we have had a respite. We at least are alive, but those 
there ..." He nodded his head to a group of men and 
officers standing not far from us, who were crowded round 
some object not visible to us at which they were all 
gazing. 

" What is it ?" 

"They have brought over our kiUed. Go and look, 
Mikhailich. How terrible !" 

I went up to the group. All were silent, and with heads 
bared were gazing at the bodies lying side by side on the 
sand. Ivan Platonich, Stebelkoff, and Ventzel were also 
there. Ivan Platonich was frowning angrily, clearing his 
throat and breathing heavily. Stebelkoff, with frank 
horror, was stretching out his thin neck. Ventzel was 
standing wrapped in thought. 

There were two of them lying on the sand. One was 
a fuU-grown, handsome Guardsman of the Finland 
Regiment, from the Composite Guards half-company — 
the same half-company which had lost half its strength 
during the attack. He had been wounded in the stomach, 
and must have suffered long agonies before he died. 
Suffering had left a faint imxpression of something spiritual, 
had left a shadow of refinement and something painfully 
tender on his face. His eyes were closed, and his arms 
were crossed on his chest. Had he himself adopted this 
position before death, or had his comrade tended him ? 
His appearance did not excite terror or revulsion, but only 
infinite pity for the life so full of energy which had 
perished. 

Ivan Platonich bent over the body and taking up the 
man's cap lying near the head, read on the peak, " Ivan 
Jurenko, 3rd Company." " The poor chap was a Little 
Russian," he said quietly. It recalled to me my birth- 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 329 

place, the warm wind of the Steppe, the village nestling 
in the ravine, the gullies, the overgrowTi willows, the 
little white mud hut with its red shutters. . . . Who is 
waiting you there ? 

The other was a linesman of the Volhynia Regiment. 
Death had taken him suddenly. He was running madly 
to the attack, breathless from shouting. The bullet had 
struck the bridge of his nose and had penetrated into his 
head, leaving a black gaping wound. He lay with wide- 
opened eyes, now dimmed, with gaping mouth, and face 
already discoloured, but still distorted with rage. 

" They have paid their accounts," said Ivan Platonich ; 
" they are in peace and want nothing more." 

He turned away. The soldiers hurriedly parted to let 
him through. I and Stebelkoff followed him. Ventzel 
caught us up. 

" WeU, Ivanoff," he said, " did you see ?" 

" I have seen, Peter Nicolaievitch," I replied. 

" And what did you think as you looked at them ?" he 
inquired moodily. 

A sudden rage rose within me against this man and a 
mad desire to say something hard to him. 

** Much. And most of all I thought that they were 
no longer ' food for powder,' that they no longer needed 
welding and discipline, and that nobody would now bully 
them for the sake of this welding. I thought that they 
are no longer soldiers, no longer subordinates," I said in 
a trembling voice — '* they are men !" 

VentzeFs eyes flashed, A sound came from his throat 
and broke off. No doubt he wished to answer me, but 
once more restrained himself. He walked by my side 
with lowered head, and after taking a few paces, not 
looking at me, said : 

" Yes, Ivanoff, you are right. . . . They are men. . . . 
Dead men." 



330 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 



IX 

They took us across the Danube. For some days we 
halted near Sistovo awaiting the Turks. Then the troops 
started off into the heart of the country. We, too, 
started off. For a long time they sent us first here, then 
there. We were near Timova and not far from Plevna. 
Three weeks passed by, and still we had not been in action. 
At length we were told off to form part of a special division 
whose duties were to hold the advance of a large Turkish 
army. Forty thousand were stretched over seventy 
versts of country. There were about one hundred thou- 
sand Turks in front of us, and only the cautious move- 
ments of our commander — ^who would not risk his men but 
contented himself by opposing the advance of the enemy — 
and the dilatoriness of the Turkish Pacha enabled us to 
carry out our task — not to allow the Turks to break 
through and cut off our main army from the Danube. 

We were few and our line was enormous ; consequently 
we were seldom able to have a rest. We marched round 
numbers of villages, appearing first in one place, then in 
another, in order to meet the anticipated attack. We 
penetrated into such remote parts of Bulgaria that the 
transport with food did not find us, and we were obliged 
to starve, making our two days' ration of biscuit last over 
five and more days. The hungry men used to thresh 
unripe wheat with sticks on outstretched sheets of our 
tents, and made a disgusting soup from it and sour wild 
apples, without salt (because we could not get any), and 
got sick from it. Battalions faded away, although not 
in action. 

In the middle of June our brigade, with several squadrons 
of cavalry and two batteries of artillery, arrived at a 
ruined and half-burned Turkish village which had been 
abandoned by its inhabitants. Our camp was situated 
on a high, precipitous mountain. The village was below, 
in the depth of the valley along which a little river wound 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 331 

its course. Steep, high cliffs rose on the other side of the 
valley. It was, as we imagined, the Turkish side, but no 
Turks were, as a matter of fact, near us. We camped 
several days on our mountain, almost without bread, 
only obtaining with great difficulty any water, as it was 
necessary to descend far below for it to a spring which 
came out at the bottom of the cliff. We were absolutely 
detached from the army, and did not know in the least 
what was going on in the world. Fifteen versts in front 
of us were Cossack patrols. Two or three sotnias of them 
were distributed over a distance of twenty versts. There 
were no Turks there either. 

Notwithstanding the fact that we could not find the 
enemy, our little column took every precautionary 
measure. Day and night a strong chain of advanced 
posts surrounded the camp. Owing to the nature of the 
ground its line was a long one, and every day several 
companies were told off for this inactive but very tiring 
work. Inaction, almost constant starvation, and ignor- 
ance of the state of affairs acted prejudicially on the 
men. 

The regimental hospitals became overflowing. Each 
day men, weakened and tortured by fever and dysentery, 
were sent to the divisional hospital. The companies were 
only one-half or two-thirds of their proper strength. All 
were gloomy, and everyone longed to come to grips. 
Anyhow, it would have been a change. 

At length it came. A Cossack orderly came galloping 
in from the commander of a Cossack squadron with the 
information that the Turks had begun to advance and 
that he had been compelled to call in his men and fall 
back five versts. Afterwards it appeared that the Turks 
went back without thinking of continuing the attack, and 
we could have quietly remained on the spot, the more so 
as nobody had ordered us to advance. But the General 
commanding us then, who had but recently arrived from 
St. Petersburg, felt, as did all of us in the column, that 



332 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

it was insufferable to the men to sit with folded arms or 
stand for whole days on guard against an invisible and, 
as all were convinced, non-existent enemy, to eat horrible 
food, and aw^ait their turn to fall sick. All were eager 
for the fray ; and the General ordered an attack. 

We left half the column in camp. The situation was so 
little known that there was a possibility of being attacked 
from both sides. Fourteen companies, the Hussars, and 
four guns moved out after midday. Never had we 
marched so fast and light-heartedly, with the exception 
of the day on which we marched past the Emperor. 

We marched along the valley, passing, one after another, 
deserted Turkish and Bulgarian villages. In the narrow 
thoroughfares bordered by hedges higher than a man 
nothing was to be met — neither human beings, cattle, nor 
dogs. Only clucking hens flew away on our approach, on 
to the hedges and roofs, and geese, with a cry, raised 
themselves ponderously in the air and endeavoured to 
fly away. In the gardens could be seen plum-trees of 
every description, the branches of which were literally 
obscured by ripe fruit. In the last village, five versts 
from the spot we imagined the Turks to be in, we halted 
for half an hour. During this spell the half-starved men 
shook down quantities of plums, ate them, and crammed 
their ration bags with them. A few would catch and 
kill the hens and geese, pluck them, and bring them 
along in their knapsacks. I remembered how the same 
soldiers before the crossing at Sistovo, in anticipation of 
a fight, had throv/n everything out of their knapsacks, 
and I mentioned it to Jitkoff, who was at the moment 
busily engaged in plucking an enormous goose. 

** WeU, Mikhailich, although we have not been in action 
we have become accustomed to wait. It seems as if you will 
only march and not take any part in the fighting. And 
even if you do you need not necessarily be killed." 

** Are you frightened ?" I asked him involuntarily. 

*' But perhaps nothing will happen," he answered 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 333 

slowly, frowning, and assiduously plucking out the last 
remnants of white down. 

" But if it does V 

" li it does, frightened or not frightened, its all the 
same, one has to go. They don't ask us. Go, and God 
help you. Lend me your knife. It is such a good one." 
I gave him my big hunting-knife. He cut the goose in 
two, and held out one half to me. 

" Take it in case. And about being frightened or not 
frightened, don't think of it, sir. It is better not to think 
of it. All rests with God. You cannot get away from 
what He designs." 

" If a bullet or shell comes at you, where can you go ?" 
added Feodoroff, who was lying near us. " I think this, 
Vladimir Mikhailich, that it is even more dangerous to run 
away, because a bullet must travel like that " — he showed 
with his finger — " and the heaviest fire comes from the 
rear." 

*' Yes," said I, " especially with the Turks. They say 
they fire high." 

" Well, clever one," said Jitkoff to Feodoroff, "go on 
talking. There they will show you a trajectory. Yes, cer- 
tainly," he added, thinking, "it is better to be in front." 

" It depends on our officers," said Feodoroff, " and our 
officer will go ahead and not be afraid." 

" Yes, he will go ahead all right. He isn't afraid. 
And Niemtseff also." 

" ' Uncle ' Jitkoff," inquired Feodoroff, " what do you 
say ? Will he live through the day or not ?" 

Jitkoff lowered his eyes. 

" What are you talking about ?" he asked. 

" Well I never ! Have you seen him ? Every nerve is 
on the go." 

Jitkoff became still more surly. 

" You are talking rot," he growled. 

" Well. What did they say before we crossed the 
Danube ?" said Feodoroff. 



334 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

" Before we crossed the Danube ! . . . The men were 
angry then, and didn't know what they were saying. It's 
a fact that they couldn't stand him." 

" What do you think ? That they are blackguards ?" 
said Jitkoff, turning and looking Feodoroff straight in the 
face. ** Have they no thought of God in them ? They 
do not know where they are going ! Perhaps some will 
to-day have to answer to the Lord God, and can they 
think of such a thing at such a moment ? Before the 
crossing of the Danube ! Yes, I too then said the same 
thing to the gentleman" (he nodded his head at me). 
** I said exactly the same thing because ... it was sickening 
to look at. It's not worth while remembering what hap- 
pened before we crossed the Danube." 

He felt in his boot-top for his tobacco-pouch, and, con- 
tinuing to mutter, filled his pipe and commenced to 
smoke. Then, replacing the pouch, he settled himself 
more comfortably, seized his knees with his hands, and 
became buried in some moody reflections. 

Half an hour later we left the village and began to 
clamber up from the valley into the mountains. The 
Turks were behind the ridges, over which we were to cross. 
When we reached the summit there opened out before 
us a wide, hilly and gradually descending expanse, covered 
here with fields of wheat and maize, there with overgrown 
bushes and medlar-trees. In two places glistened the 
minarets of villages hidden behind the green hills. We 
were to take the one on the right. Behind it, on the 
edge of the horizon, could be seen a whitish streak. It 
was the main road which had been previously held by our 
Cossacks. Soon all this became lost to sight. We en- 
tered into a dense undergrowth intersected at intervals by 
small fields. 

I don't remember much about the commencement of 
the battle. When we came out into the open on the 
summit of a hill the Turks could plainly be seen. As our 
companies emerged from amongst the bushes they formed 



I 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 335 

up and opened out. A single cannon-shot thundered 
out. They had fired a shell. The men started, and all 
eyes were attracted by a white puff of smoke which was 
already dispersing and slowly rolling down the hill. At 
the same instant the screeching sound of a shell as it flew, 
apparently directly, over our heads made everyone duck. 
The shell, passing over us, struck the ground near the 
companies in rear of us. I remember the dull thud of its 
burst was followed by a pitiful cry from someone. A 
splinter had torn off the company sergeant-major's foot. 
I heard of this later. At the time I could not understand 
the cry ; my ears heard it — that was all. Then everything 
merged into that confused indescribable feeling which 
takes possession of anyone coming under fire for the first 
time. They say that there is no one who is not afraid in 
action. Any modest and truthful man, to the question, 
'* Were you frightened ?" replies, " Yes." But it is not 
the physical fear which takes hold of a man at night, in 
some obscure alley, when encountering a footpad. It is 
the full, clear recognition of the inevitability and prox- 
imity of death. And, fantastic and strange as these 
words may appear, this recognition does not make men 
stop, does not force them to think of flight, but compels 
them to go ahead. Bloodthirsty instincts are not 
awakened ; there is no desire to go ahead in order to kill 
somebody. But there is an irresistible force which drives 
one forward at all costs. Thoughts as to what must be 
done during action cannot be expressed in words. It is 
necessary to kill, or rather — one's duty to die. 

Whilst we were crossing the valley the Turks succeeded 
in firing several shots. As we slowly climbed up to the 
village we were separated from the Turks only by the 
last piece of thick undergrowth. As we entered the 
bushes everything became quiet. 

It was difficult going. The dense, often prickly, bushes 
grew thickly, and it was necessary either to go round 
them or to push one's way through them. The sharp- 



336 REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

shooters in front of us were already extended, and from 
time to time called gently to each other so as not to lose 
touch. Up to the present the whole company was 
together. A profound silence reigned in the wood. 

Then there came the first rifle-shot, not very loud and 
resembling the thud of a woodman's axe. The Turks 
were beginning to fire at random. Bullets whistled high 
above in the air in varying tones ; they flew noisily through 
the bushes, cutting off branches, but were not touching 
us. This noise like wood-chopping became more and 
more frequent, and finally melted into an uniform tapping. 
The squealing and snarling of single bullets could no 
longer be heard. The very air itself seemed to be yelping. 
We hurriedly advanced. I and all around me were whole. 
This much astonished me. 

Suddenly we emerged from the bushes. A deep gully 
along which ran a little stream intersected the road. The 
men halted a few minutes and drank. 

From here the companies extended on either side so as 
to outflank the Turks. Our company was left in reserve 
in the gully. The skirmishers were to go direct 
through the bushes and rush the village. The Turkish 
fire was as frequent as formerly, unceasing, but much 
louder. 

Having climbed up to the other side of the gully, 
Ventzel formed up his company. He said something to 
the men which I did not hear. 

" We will try, we will try !" resounded the voices of 
the men. 

I looked at him from below. He was pale, and it 
seemed to me, sorrowful, but calm. Seeing Ivan Plato- 
nich and Stebelkoff , he waved to them with his handker- 
chief, and then looked towards us as if in search of some- 
thing. I guessed that he wished to bid me fareweU, and 
I stood up so that he should notice me. Ventzel smiled, 
nodded his head several times at me, and ordered his men 
to go up into the fire. The m.en extended right and left, 



REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 337 

forming a long line, and were at once lost to sight in the 
bushes, with the exception of one man, who suddenly 
bounded forward, threw up his hands, and feU heavily 
to the ground. Two of ours jumped out of the gully and 
brought in his body. 

There was a torturing half-hour of suspense. 

The fight developed. Rifle-fire became more frequent 
and became one menacing howl. Guns boomed on our 
right flank. Blood-bespattered men, some walking, some 
crawling, commenced to appear from out of the bushes. 
At first only a few, but their numbers increased every 
moment. Our company assisted them down into the 
gully, gave them water, and dressed their woimds waiting 
the arrival of the stretcher-bearers. A rifleman with a 
shattered wrist, crying out terribly and rolling his eyes, 
his face pallid from loss of blood and pain, arrived by 
himself and sat down by the stream. They tied up his 
arm and placed him on his great coat. The bleeding 
stopped. He was in a highly feverish state. His lips 
trembled, and he was sobbing nervously and convul- 
sively. 

" Mates, mates ! . . . dear comrades !...'* 

" Are many kiUed ?" 

" Yes, they are falling." 

" Is the company commander all right ?'* 

*' Yes, as yet. But for him we would have been beaten 
back. We wiU take it. With him they wiU take it," 
said the wounded man in a weak voice. " Three times 
he led, and they beat us back. He led for the fourth 
time. They (the Turks) are sitting in a gully. They have 
heaps of ammunition, and go on firing and firing. . . . 
But no !" the wounded man screamed suddenly, rising 
and waving his injured hand. " You are joking, it 
cannot be. . . . They must ..." 

Then, rolling his delirious eyes and shouting out the 
most awful curses, he fell forward senseless. 

Lukin appeared on the bank of the gully. 

22 



33S REMINISCENCES OF PRIVATE IVANOFF 

" Ivan Platonich !" he shouted out in an unnatural 
voice, *' Bring them on !" 

***** 

Smoke, reports, groans, and a mad " hurrah." A 
smell of blood and powder. . . . Strange men with pale 
faces enveloped in smoke. ... A savage, monstrous, 
inhuman struggle. Thank God that such moments are 
remembered only as in a dream, mistily. 

***** 

When we reached them Ventzel had led the remnant 
of his company for the fifth time at the Turks, who were 
raining lead on him. This time the riflemen gained the 
village. The few Turks still defending it succeeded in 
getting away. (The second rifle company lost in the 
two hours' fighting fifty- two men out of a little over one 
hundred.) Our company, having taken but little part 
in the action, lost only a few. 

We did not remain on the position we had won, although 
the Turks had been defeated all along the line. When 
our General saw battalion after battalion take the road 
out of the village, when he saw masses of cavalry move 
off and long lines of guns, he was horrified. It was evident 
the Turks did not know our strength, concealed by the 
bushes. Had they known that only fourteen companies in 
all had driven them out of the deep roads, gullies, and hedges 
surrounding the village, they would have returned and an- 
nihilated us. They were three times as many as ourselves. ^ 

By the evening we were back again at our old camp. 
Ivan Platonich called me in to have some tea. 

** Have you seen Ventzel ?" he asked. 

" Not yet." 

" Go to him. He is in his tent. Tell him we want him^ 
He is killing himself. ' Fifty- two ! fifty-two !' is aU yoi 
can hear. Go to him." 

A thin piece of candle was feebly illuminating Ventzel' J 
tent. He was crouching in one of the comers with hisj 
bowed head resting on some boxes, and sobbing bitterly. 



XVII 
THE ACTION AT AISLAR 

I 

We halted two weeks at Kovachitsa. Camp-life is 
wearisome and monotonous when there is nothing to do, 
especially in such an out-of-the-way spot ; at the same 
time it would not be just to call Kovachitsa by such a 
name. The staff of our corps had its quarters in the 
place and there was a postal section — in a word, the 
means of finding out what was going on in the world 
surrounding us, but chiefly at the two theatres of war 
and in our dear, far-away Homeland. However, it must 
be said in all justice that we were not spoiled by the 
freshness and wealth of the news, and it often appeared 
to us to be mutilated and exaggerated. Sombre rumours 
of the early failures at Plevna were so exaggerated that 
only papers two or three weeks old dispersed the gloom 
reigning amongst the officers. It seemed that the direct 
road from Plevna was not as close to us as the route via 
Petersburg and Moscow ; however, " the shortest cut is 
the longest way round," as the saying goes. 

Our brigade began to get bored. It is true that once 
a portion of the Niejinsky Regiment went out recon- 
noitring, or, more correctly speaking, to punish the armed 
inhabitants of Lom, who had risen. Having taught them a 
lesson, the regiment returned with the loss of one killed. 
Another soldier escaped by a miracle, as will be seen from 
the following narrative of his : 

339 



340 THE ACTION AT AISLAR 

" We had begun to turn back, and the Bashi-Bazouks 
commenced to fire from afar. I lagged behind a little, and 
turned to fire. I had only just started to overtake them 
when it hit me in the back. But it was a bad shot — it 
buried itself in my great-coat. It went through seven 
folds and stuck in the eighth." 

*' It '* was, of course, a bullet. When the soldier opened 
out his great-coat there were actually seven holes in it. 

" And I had only time to cross myself when — look ! — 
my ration-bag had two holes in the very bottom of it, and 
biscuit crumbs began to dribble out." 

It had a bite of them and went. 

*' Our Russian biscuits are not tasty," said somebody 
jokingly. 

Meanwhile, whilst we were halted in Kovachitsa, and, to 
use the popular expression, " were going sour," there were 
constant skirmishes ahead of us at the front, near Papkio. 

On the gth of August our regimental doctor ordered a 
" medical inspection " to assemble in the lines of the third 
battalion (which was camped apart from us) . Our company 
was the first of all to muster, and after they had formed 
us up, we were marched to the appointed parade-ground. 
It was not a large piece of ground, but was free of tents 
and guns. Here we halted. There was no doctor, and 
we were obliged to wait for him. Having nothing to do 
I began to gaze at the camp. A camp in time of war 
presents a strange appearance. The little tents of the 
soldiers shone brightly white bathed in sunshine. The 
piles of arms and different coloured figures of soldiers 
lent a variety to this white background. Lilac-coloured 
shirts predominated ; then came red, yellow, crimson, and 
green. The black tunics were only worn if on some duty. 
Everyone preferred the most immoderate deshabille. 
Some were bare-footed, others with bared chest and 
back. Boots were not worn because of the heat, besides 
which a thousand versts' march had taught the men the 
necessity of taking care of them. 



THE ACTION AT AISLAR 341 

We waited quite a time. Someone went to inform the 
doctor that the men were on parade. But it became 
evident to us that we were not to undergo a " medical 
inspection." The regimental Adjutant rushed into the 
tent of the commandant of the third battalion, and 
almost instantaneously stout little Major A. ran out 
of his tent nearly naked, having divested himself of 
most of his clothing owing to the heat, and gave the 
order : 

*' Third battalion, strike tents ! Leave knapsacks 
behind." He then disappeared into his tent, which was 
immediately struck, revealing the Major sitting on a 
folding-chair and being assisted into various necessary 
articles of clothing by his servant. At the same time there 
was an immediate change in the appearance of the third 
battalion. Men came crawling out of every tent like 
ants, hurriedly putting on their uniforms. Tents dis- 
appeared and were folded up, and great-coats were rolled. 
Within five minutes of the Major's command, the 
variegated, quiet bivouac had become transformed into 
regular sombre-coloured ranks of men. Here and there 
the sunlight played on the bayonets and rifle-barrels. 
Officers came running towards the battalion fastening 
on their sword-belts as they ran. The Major himself 
appeared before the battalion, mounted his horse with 
outside assistance, and gave a command, which was taken 
up by the company commanders. The mass of humanity 
stirred, and began, snakelike to draw out into column, 
of route. Where was it going ? The Major, having led 
the way on to the road, turned to the left and took the 
column towards Papkio. The battalion had not had 
time to get on to the road before our own orderly ap- 
peared. 

" Kuzma Zakharich, call up the company ; we are ad- 
vancing." 

" Without knapsacks ?" asked a number of voices at 
once. 



342 THE ACTION AT AISLAR 

The question was one of the premier importance. 
Nearly one-third of all a soldier's discomforts during a 
campaign arise from the ** calf," as the soldiers nick- 
named their clumsy knapsack. Others called it a " chest 
of drawers." This " chest of drawers " hurts the 
shoulders, presses on the chest, tires out the feet, and 
lessens the stability of the body. Even in cool, fresh 
weather it makes the back under it wet with perspiration 
after five minutes' marching. It is not, therefore, aston- 
ishing that the order to leave knapsacks behind was met 
with general satisfaction. 

The company ran to its bivouac. Everyone had already 
assembled. Knapsacks were thrown into a heap and 
tents struck. We hurriedly dressed. However much the 
Russian may like to make a noise on every convenient 
occasion and when he is in a crowd, there was absolute 
silence. I have always been struck with this quietness 
during the mustering of the men whenever the ** alarm " 
sounded. 

In a quarter of an hour's time we moved off. The 
total distance from Kovachitsa to Papkio is from nine 
to ten versts, but although we marched " light," without^ 
knapsacks and only with our great-coats slung bandolier- 
fashion across our shoulders with our tent-sheets wrapped 
up in them, these ten versts absolutely knocked us out. 
The heat was deadly, over 35° Reamur in the shade, and 
not the slightest vestige of a breeze. Everything seemed 
to have died. The maize did not move its dark-green 
leaves. The boughs and leaves of the pear-trees which 
we passed were motionless. Not a solitary bird did we 
see during the whole of this march. The men were done 
even after the first four versts. When half way a halt 
was called at a well, they were scarcely able to pile arms, 
and literally fell on to the ground. 

" Have you got out of the way of marching, Gabriel 
Vassilivich ?" I said to my neighbour, as he lay with half- 
closed eyes breathing heavily. 



THE ACTION AT AISLAR 343 

*' Yes, if one doesn't walk for a fortnight it spoils one/' 
he answered dully. " Let us go for a drink." 

We rose, and went to push our w^ay to the well, or, more 
correctly speaking, to the spring. From an iron pipe 
placed in the wall of stone at about the height of a man 
a clear transparent stream ran into a stone trough. 
The men pressed each other as they got the water, and 
soaked each other as they passed their canteens full of 
water over the heads of their neighbours. We had a good 
drink and filled our water-bottles. 

" Well, that's a bit better. I can manage another 
march now," said Gabriel Vassihvich, wiping his fair 
moustaches and beard with his sleeve. 

He was an extraordinarily good-looking fellow, sturdy, 
active, with big blue eyes. He now lies on the Aislar heights 
and nothing is left of his blue eyes and handsome face. 

Having given us a half-hour's spell. Major F. led us 
further. The nearer we approached Papkio the more and 
more difficult it became. The sun baked us with such fury 
that it seemed as if it was hurrying to complete the job 
before we reached our destination and could take refuge 
from its heat in our tents. Some of us succumbed. 
Scarcely moving along, with my head lowered, I almost 
tripped over an officer who had fallen. He was lying, 
scarlet in the face and was breathing convulsively and 
heavily. They placed him in an ambulance-waggon. 

The one and a half verst climb out of the valley along 
which we had marched up its right slope seemed to us the 
worst part of the whole road. The smells which always 
notified us of any approaching camp added still further 
to the suffocating heat. How I " stuck " it I absolutely 
don't remember, but nevertheless I did. Others were less 
fortunate. Scarcely able to drag one foot after another 
we got into the order in which we were to camp, and, 
barely able to stand up, awaited the longed-for command 
from Major F. — " Pile arms !" That is, pile arms and do 
what you like afterwards. 



344 THE ACTION AT AISLAR 

II 

The men were so worn out that even the insufferable 
heat could not make them go for water. Only after half 
an hour's rest did the orderlies assemble with their can- 
teens and set off for the village. On that slope of the 
valley, on the summit of which we were encamped, was the 
Mussulman quarter of Papkio — literally deserted since 
the plague. On the opposite side crowded the Bulgarian 
kishtas, precisely similar to the Turkish houses, with 
exactly the same squat tiled roofs. There could be 
heard the barking of dogs. People could be seen, also 
sheep and buffaloes, or " bufflos," as our men called them. 
To the right was the valley along which we had just come, 
with a stream in the middle and endless fields of maize, 
barley, and wheat along its slopes. To the left, at right 
angles to our valley, was the valley of Lom, fading away 
on either side into a misty bluish distance, out of which 
the mountains on the right bank of the river could be seen 
with decreasing clearness. 

Opposite us these heights rose to a great elevation. At one 
point on them there appeared at intervals a puff of white 
smoke which, slowly and slowly drifting, melted and dis- 
appeared, fused in the air. Half a minute later there 
Vv'ould come a dull roar resembling the growl of distant 
thunder. This was the Morshansk Regiment carrying out 
a reconnaissance. 

We found the springs, got some water, and returned 
in no particular order to our bivouac. The soldiers, 
having rested a little, were already more lively. The 
distant firing undoubtedly helped in this matter. 

" Listen ! What firing !" 

" What do you think, chums ? Are they ours or the 
Turks ?" asked someone. 

Somebody else replied that the Morshansk Regiment had 
taken no guns with them, and certainly, judging from the 
situation and direction of the smoke, they could not be 
shots from our guns. 



THE ACTION AT AISLAR 345 

More to the right of the village, much nearer than the 
shell-fire, not on the heights, but below it in the Valley of 
Lorn, began the sound of rifle-fire, at first desultory, as 
if several axes were hewing down trees, then more and 
more often. Sometimes the sound united in a prolonged 
crackle. 

I went up to the officers of our company. Our com- 
pany commander was talking to another officer — S. — 
telling him that he had just been informed that similar 
'* brushes " took place here almost every day. 

" Well, it seems we have got into action at last," said S. 

" But what sort of action is this ? . . . Surely you 
cannot call this an action ? Some of the local inhabitants 
have squatted down with their blunderbusses in the woods 
and are sniping us. All the same, stray bullets may come 
this way, and I should not like to be killed in such a way." 

" Why, Ivan Nicolaievitch ?" I asked. 

" Because what sort of action is this ?" 

Ivan Nicolaievitch was an expert on military matters 
and a tremendous admirer of strategy and tactics. He 
frequently expressed the opinion that if he was to be 
killed it ought to be done in the proper manner in a 
proper battle, or, better still, in a general action. The 
present skirmishing was evidently not to his liking. He 
tugged uneasily at a few straggling hairs on his chin, then 
suddenly with a good-humoured and serious smile ex- 
claimed : 

" Better to come along and have some tea ; the samovar 
is ready." 

We crawled into the tent, and settled down to drink 
tea. Little by little the firing died down, and we spent 
the remainder of the day and night in absolute quietness. 

By the way, I dreamt all night long of white puffs of 
smoke and of the rattle of musketry. 

When I awoke the sun was already high up. The heat 
was like yesterday's. A battalion of the Nevsky Regi- 
ment which had passed us going in the direction of 



346 THE ACTION AT AISLAR 

yesterday's cannonading marched along, however, quite 
spiritedly. The men were infected with the closeness of 
battle. 

However, they soon returned, and, skirting the village, 
probably made for the scene of the previous day's rifie- 
iiring. To-day it was less distinct, the shots were further 
from us. The guns, too, roared at first from our side, 
but soon white puffs of smoke showed themselves on the 
heights of the opposite bank. The Turks had brought up 
some artillery. 

I proposed to S. going into the village to climb on to 
some roof and follow the fight. One could see better 
from this position. Although the minaret was untouched, 
and of course stood high above any roof, the mosque 
itself stood low down, almost in the valley, so we clam- 
bered on to the gallery of the first Cherkess house we came 
to which happened to face towards the scene of the 
action. But although it lay before us, we could see no 
troops or even any rifles-moke. There was simply nothing 
to be seen. We slid down from the gallery into a little 
garden of white acacias and apricot trees. Everything 
was in perfect order, as if it was only yesterday the 
owners had watered the flower-beds. Pumpkins were 
winding their clinging stalks along the hedge, whilst a 
few stalks of maize and high " rat's-tails " with red ears 
gave colour to the garden. We entered the house. The 
walls were smoothly and clearly plastered with a grey 
clay. All was in perfect repair. Only the hearth, made 
of pieces of tile, was broken. On the floor were scat- 
tered a few leaves of some Mussulman book with decorated 
headings in gold and paint. 

There was nothing more to see, and climbing over the 
labyrinth of hedges we got out into the street. Here we 
met S.'s servant, who came running towards us, red as a 
lobster. 

" Please, sir, please ! They have already stood to 
arms !" 



THE ACTION AT AISLAR 347 

We ran to the battalion, and in two minutes' time I, too, 
was marching along with my rifle shouldered. 

We went towards the scene of yesterday's rifle skirmish. 
The soldiers began to cross themselves. A long string 
of ambulance waggons halted on the road to let us pass 
and followed on behind us. 

Ill 

We skirted round the village, descended, and passed 
over a small bridge throv/n across the stream. The road 
led lightly to the mountain through a small thicket. 
Little medlar-trees, all red from the quantity of fruit, 
mingled with blackthorn. It was a narrow road, and 
not more than four men could march abreast. To the 
right of it gun and rifle pits had been dug out amongst 
the bushes, preparations in case of an attack by the Turks 
on Papkio. 

We halted and allowed some regiment to pass us. It 
was the Nevsky Regiment, which had been under fire all 
day and was now returning to camp, as it had expended 
all its ammunition. So far as I can remember, its 
casualties that day had not been great. They marched as 
if worn out and tired, but with an air of gaiety and good 
spirits. 

" What are you coming back for, mates ?" we asked 
them. Some of them said nothing, but merely opened 
their empty cartridge pouches. Others replied that there 
were no more cartridges, that the Sofia Regiment, which 
was in front, had relieved them, and that the Turks had 
fallen back. 

" Oh you !" 

" Why ' Oh you ' ? You go yourself two days without 
food. Besides, there are no cartridges. A soldier without 
cartridges is like a pipe without tobacco," said one of the 
Nevsky 's, knocking out his pipe. " Turn back ? Yes 
if they came at us, but when it is a case of they firing and 
we firing, there's nothing in it. Chum, give me a draw." 



348 THE ACTION AT AISLAR 

He had a puff or two, and then ran to catch up his 
company. 

A battery came trotting past, and we followed behind 
it. The sun was setting and was gilding everything. 
We went down into a ravine where a small stream was 
flowing. Ten gigantic black poplars hid the spot like a 
roof where we again halted. The ambulance waggons 
were drawn up in several rows. The doctors, dressers, 
and hospital orderlies were hurrying about and making 
preparations for bandaging. The guns were booming not 
far away, and became ever increasingly frequent. 

Two more battalions passed us. Evidently we had been 
left in reserve. We were led to one side, piled arms, and 
laid down on ground which was covered with soft, fragrant 
smelling mint. 

I lay on my back and gazed through the branches at 
the darkening sky. The giant trunks, which would have 
required some half-dozen men to span their girth, had 
shot up and thrown out branches which had interlaced 
with each other. Only here and there could there be 
seen a little star in the now blue-black sky, and far, far 
away they seemed, as if in the depth of some abyss from 
which they were peacefully grazing. The booming of 
guns continued, and the tops of the trees momentarily 
reflected the red glare which appeared immediately before 
each report, making them look even more terrible and 
dismal. There was no sound of rifle-fire. Probably it 
was what is known in military parlance as an artillery 
preparation for an attack. 

I lay there half dozing ; around me the men were talking 
quietly and with restraint. I remember now a curious 
circumstance which at the time did not occur to me. 
No one, by so much as a word, hinted at or recalled the 
fact that there was another world for him, with home, 
relatives, and friends. All appeared to have forgotten 
their former life. They talked about this menacing boom 
of cannon, why the Nevsky Regiment had gone back, and 



THE ACTION AT AISLAR 349 

why they had not had ammunition brought them. They 
conjectured on the strength of the Turks, and what of our 
force was engaged. Was it only the three regiments 
(Nevsky, Sofia, and Bolkhovs), or both divisions ? 

" But perhaps the Eleventh Brigade will be in time 
also. We'll give it hot to them." 

*' Don't say that. Who can tell ? Perhaps they have 
brought all their strength. If only we can hold them it 
will be all right. They will not ask more from us." 

" Yes, that's right. Besides, they say we are not 
allowed to attack." 

*' Who told you that ?" 

" Ivanoff, the staff -clerk. He is a countryman of mine." 

" How can your Ivanoff know ?" said the man doubt- 
fully. 

The tops of the poplars commenced to pale and the 
leaves took on a silvery hue as they softly reflected the 
moonlight. The moon had risen, but we could not see 
it, as we were lying at the bottom of the ravine. Never- 
theless, it became a little lighter. A mounted officer 
showed up on the brink of the ravine and shouted des- 
pairingly : " Send forward the cartridge boxes of the 
Sofia Regiment." But the boxes were on the opposite 
side of the ravine, and in spite of all his shouting his voice 
did not carry to the ammunition carts. One of our 
officers called out, " Pass the word along." Whereupon 
there commenced something in the nature of what musi- 
cians call a fugue. Somebody shouted " Cartridges boxes 
forward !" another began the same phrase as the first 
called out " boxes," and a third took it up when the 
second finished " cartridges." At any rate the slumber- 
ing ammunition carriers woke up, and, putting their 
horses at the gallop, crossed over the ravine. 

In ten minutes' time musketry fire commenced. The 
ear, which at first had listened painfully to each shot, 
grew tired. Moreover, sleep was calling. Soon the shots 
became one confused roar, somewhat resembling the 



350 THE ACTION AT AISLAR 

noise of a waterfall ; then it, too, died down. I dropped 
asleep. 

" Rise !" 

The voice of our battalion commander awoke me. All 
got up, stretched themselves, and threw their great- 
coats, which had but just served as pillows, over their 
shoulders. 

'' Take up arms !" The guns had not ceased firing. 
We clambered out of the ravine, and went along a wide 
road made by the artillery. The flashes of the shots were 
already nearer, and their sounds became unpleasantly 
loud. Immediately following the flash, which pierced the 
air like a needle, came a thunderous roar, after which 
something rang as it cut its way through the air. These 
were our shells, which were flying towards the gloomy 
precipitous heights occupied by the Turks. The gunners 
worked their guns silently, keeping up a continuous fire. 
Sometimes two guns united their roar, and two shells 
flew simultaneously, bursting on the slope of the mountain, 
right in the Turkish firing-line. 

We continued to advance. It was two versts to the 
summit. The even and wide road had come to an end, 
and we entered a straggling wood all overgrown with 
bushes. It was difficult work, especially in the darkness, 
making our way through the gorse and bushes, but the 
men conscientiously kept their dressing. Some large 
stone slabs placed end up came into view. It was a 
Mussulman cemetery, in which were real Mahometan 
monuments — stones roughly hewn at the top in the form 
of a turban. Here we halted. 

The moon lit up strongly the mountain behind which 
the battle was raging. At the foot of the mountain was 
a line of flashes — our firing-line — and above it another 
and thicker line — the Turkish firing-line. These lines 
kept intermingling. The Sofia Regiment was attacking. 
The upper flashes kept showing up higher and higher and 
farther and farther away. But we could not follow the 



THE ACTION AT AISLAR 351 

fight very long because they led us ofi somewhere to the 
flank and posted each company separately. From these 
points we could once more see the little flashes of flame, 
and the sound of these shots, as of something blunt and 
wooden, fell without ceasing on our ears. But soon it 
was more than sounds which reached us. 

" S-s-s . . . s-s-s . . . s-s-s ..." resounded in the air 
above us, left and right. 

" Bullets !" cried someone. 

" All right ! Lie down. . . . They have come to die 
here." 

It was quite true, the bullets w^ere already spent, as can 
always be told by their sound. A bullet when fired at 
close range squeals and whistles, but when it '* comes to 
die " merely hisses like a snake. 

The bullets continued to fly around us. The company 
kept silent. The tense feeling which involuntarily 
showed itself at the sound of these heralds of death 
relaxed. All began to imagine that the bullets were 
merely flying over us or dropping harmlessly to earth. 
Some of the men, having taken off their great-coats, 
settled themselves down to sleep more comfortably, if 
it is possible to sleep comfortably under a shower of 
bullets, on ruts of dried mud, and holding a rifle in one's 
hands. I, too, dozed. It was a heavy, torturing slumber. 
Not far from us — I think in the 7th company — there 
was a sudden commotion. " Take him away," I heard. 
** Where can we take him ? . . ." broke in someone. I did 
not hear the end of the remark. Ivan Nicolaievitch sent 
to find out what had happened. It appeared that a 
bullet which had " come to die " did not wish to die alone, 
and had actually buried itself in the heart of a soldier. 
This death caused a painful depressing impression. To 
be killed without seeing the enemy by a bullet w^hich has 
travelled three thousand paces (two versts) seemed to 
all as something fateful, awful. However, little by little 
all became quiet, the men calmed down again, and began 



352 THE ACTION AT AISLAR 

to doze. A not loud, harsh sound awoke everyone. A 
bullet had gone clean through the side of the big drum. 
Somebody was found even to make a joke about it, which 
met, however, with general disapproval. " This is no 
time to play the fool," growled the men. 

Everyone was rather on the alert, everyone was waiting 
for something. A bullet found its way into the cartridge 
pouch of one of the men, who, pale and trembling, carried 
it off to show the company commander. Ivan Nico- 
laievitch examined the bullet attentively, and noting from 
its calibre that it had been fired from a Peabody and 
Martini rifle, moved the company into a kind of bend in 
the road. 

Here we, notwithstanding the whistling and hissing, 
became calmer. Shouts of " Hurrah !" resounded on 
the mountain. It was the Sofia Regiment storming the 
position. 

IV 

I aw^oke when it was still almost dark. My sides ached 
unendurably. The bullets were flying as before, but now- 
very high in the air above us. There were no flashes to 
be seen on the mountain, but a frequent cannonade could 
be heard. " It means that the mountain has been taken 
and the Sofia Regiment is holding the crest," I reflected. 

The sun had scarcely risen when they roused us. The 
men got up, yawning and stretching themselves. It was 
cold. The majority of us were shivering and shaking as 
if in a fever. The companies mustered at the spring, 
and both our battalions (2nd and 3rd) moved off towards 
the mountain. 

Immediately after crossing the Lom by a small bridge 
the road led up the mountain. At first the ascent, al- 
though all covered with bushes, was bearable, but the 
higher we got the steeper became the slope and the 
narrower the road. Finally we were compelled to 
clamber up one by one, sometimes helping ourselves up 



THE ACTION AT AISLAR 353 

with our rifles. The companies got mixed together with 
officers of another battalion ; our Colonel appeared 
amongst us, having clambered with difficulty on to the 
heights. " What a brute of a mountain !'' he exclaimed 
to his Adjutant. *' How did the Sofia Regiment manage 
to take it ?" 

'* It was difficult, sir," said some tiny little soldier of 
the 8th company. 

The Sofia Regiment came down as we went forward to 
relieve them. Worn out by a sleepless night, by thirst 
and nervous excitement, they were somewhat unstrung, 
and made no reply to our questions as to whether there 
were many Turks and whether the fire was hot. Only a 
few said quietly, " God help you !" 

At length we got to the summit of the mountain. At 
the last the ascent lay up an absolutely overhanging crag. 
Beneath it was a small ledge where the companies could 
reform without danger from the fire. Although the 
difficult ascent, the bushes, and the narrow track had 
absolutely mixed us up, the men re-formed and fell into 
their proper places extraordinarily quickly. The bullets 
as they flew past the ledge caterwauled above us in a 
piercing and extremely unpleasant manner. Here be- 
neath the crag it was safe, but what was it like on it ? 
Branches of the bushes growing on the crest cracked as 
they were smashed by the bullets, sometimes a few leaves 
came twirling do\\Ti. We moved to the right, at first 
under the ledge, then little by little began to clamber up 
one by one from boulder to boulder. Having got round 
the crag, we crawled out on to the extreme summit and 
moved between the dense high bushes. I don't know 
who was leading us. All moved in the direction of the 
firing, pushing along with difficulty between the bushes. 
At last we came upon a narrow track. "Forward! 
Double ! " Here there were lying fresh corpses, both of 
ours and of Turks. The wounded were already being 
carried along toward us. The little man of the 8th 

23 



354 THE ACTION AT AISLAR 

company who had so boldly entered into conversation 
with the regimental Colonel was now half delirious, wail- 
ing pitifully, and with one hand supporting the other, 
from which a stream of blood was flowing. We con- 
tinued to rush forw^ard, and at length arrived at an open 
space. emt llti e Major F. was already there, walking 
unconcedly up and down the firing-line. " Where 
shall I go. Major ?" I asked. He made no reply, but 
pointed to the left with his sword. I ran forward, throw- 
ing myself once to the ground to avoid a bursting shell. 
Ivan Nicolaievitch was slowly pacing up and down, tugging 
at his straggly hairs. 

" Ivan Nicolaievitch," I called out. " I don't know 
where our half section is. May I join the first ?" 

** Go along, go along quickly !" he said, looking beyond 
at the Turkish line. 

However, it was impossible to find either the first or 
second half section. Everyone had become mixed up 
in the wood, and it was too late to re-form under rifle and 
shell fire. I laid down behind the first hillock I cam^e 
across and began to fire. On one side of me I found our 
corporal and on the other side a man of the Sofia Regi- 
ment. ** You should have gone, chum," I said to him. 
*' Your lot have gone — left this." 

" Yes, but never mind, I shall stay until the end," he 
replied. I do not know what his name was. I do not 
even know whether he is still alive, but I shall always 
remember the enthusiastic tone of his voice. 

The Turkish sharpshooters were about eight hundred 
paces from us, so that our rifles scarcely did them much 
harm. Moreover, a whole row of Turkish guns were in posi- 
tion from twelve hundred to fifteen hundred paces from us, 
and raining shell on our weak firing-line. Although bullets 
cause many more deaths and wounds, yet shells have a 
far greater moral effect. I lay, firing at intervals, and 
every now and then consulting Paul Ignatich (our corporal) 
as to the sights and whether it would not be better to fire 



THE ACTION AT AISLAR 355 

on chance at the artillery. The bullets began to whistle 
amongst us oftener and oftener. At last it became im- 
possible to distinguish individual shots. It became one 
continuous hum. Shells came flying along screaming 
from afar. As they neared us they no longer screamed, 
but crashed and bounded along the ground, bursting and 
smothering us with splinters and earth. I raised myself 
to see what was happening in our firing-line. From time 
to time there arose a wild cry from amongst those lying 
down. Those standing behind trees would fall on to their 
knees sometimes with a cry, sometimes without a sound. 
Gabriel Vassilich, who had only just arrived, and was 
loading his rifle, fell headlong. A shell splinter had 
struck him in the stomach, tearing out his vitals. Such 
of the wounded as were able crawled away, for the most 
part silently, or perhaps it was that their groans could 
not be heard above the din of battle. 

I began to shoot again. The Turks had collected 
below the deep valley, on the other edge of which was 
their artillery, and were advancing to attack our firing- 
line. The range became closer. Paul Ignatiovich kept 
methodically loading and firing. I, too, did not spare 
my cartridges, because it was easy to take aim. Dark 
figures with red heads coming towards us kept falling, 
but they still advanced. Suddenly the red heads dis- 
appeared. I do not know if it was the unevenness of 
the ground or the bushes which hid the columns. Having 
lost the near object at which to aim, I commenced once 
more to fire at long range into the masses standing at the 
bottom of the valley, and scarcely noticed that both Paul 
Ignatich and the soldier of the Sofia Regiment and our 
firing-line had disappeared. I turned round. The men 
had collected in groups, and were pouring a hot fire into 
the advancing Turks. I was alone between our men and 
the Turkish column. 

What was I to do ? This thought had scarcely flashed 
into my head when I heard my name called out near me. 



356 THE ACTION AT AISLAR 

I looked down. At my feet lay Feodoroff, the young 
soldier of our company who, having resided in St. Peters- 
burg, had seized '* civilization," and could express himself 
in an almost educated manner. Now he was lying white 
as this sheet of paper. A torrent of blood was flowing 
from his shoulder. "V. M., old man, give me a drink, 
carry me off, take me away," he begged piteously. I 
forgot everything — both Turks and bullets. For me to 
lift sturdy Feodoroff unaided was out of the question, and 
of ours there was no one, in spite of my despairing cries, 
who could make up his mind to race even those thirty 
paces to help. 

Seeing an officer, the young subaltern S., I began to 
call out to him : " Ivan Nicolaievitch, help ! No one will 
come ! Help me !" Perhaps S. would have come, but a 
bullet laid him low. I was almost crying. . . . Finally 
two soldiers — I think of our company — rushed towards 
me. We seized hold of Feodoroff, who continued cease- 
lessly to cry out piteously, *' Take me away, old man, for 
Christ's sake !" I took hold of his legs and the other 
two his shoulders. At the same moment they dropped 
him on to the ground. " The Turks, the Turks !" they 
yelled, bolting. Feodoroff was dead. I turned round. 
Twenty paces distant from me the Turkish column had 
halted, surprised, and frightened of our bayonets. . . . 

^ 1* T* •!• *P 

A minute later something like a huge stone struck me. 
I fell. Blood was flowing like a stream from my leg. 
I remember that I suddenly recalled everything — home, 
relatives, and friends, and with joy reflected that I should 
once more see them. . . . 



THE END 



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