A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      A Raw Youth
Author:     Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)
	    [Translated by Constance Garnett (1861-1946)]
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Language:   English
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Date first posted:          October 2001
Date most recently updated: October 2001

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Title:      A Raw Youth
Author:     Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)
	    [Translated by Constance Garnett (1861-1946)]




I cannot resist sitting down to write the history of the first steps
in my career, though I might very well abstain from doing so. . . .
I know one thing for certain: I shall never again sit down to
write my autobiography even if I live to be a hundred.  One must
be too disgustingly in love with self to be able without shame to
write about oneself.  I can only excuse myself on the ground that I
am not writing with the same object with which other people write,
that is, to win the praise of my readers.  It has suddenly occurred
to me to write out word for word all that has happened to me during
this last year, simply from an inward impulse, because I am so
impressed by all that has happened.  I shall simply record the
incidents, doing my utmost to exclude everything extraneous,
especially all literary graces.  The professional writer writes for
thirty years, and is quite unable to say at the end why he has been
writing for all that time.  I am not a professional writer and
don't want to be, and to drag forth into the literary market-place
the inmost secrets of my soul and an artistic description of my
feelings I should regard as indecent and contemptible.  I foresee,
however, with vexation, that it will be impossible to avoid
describing feelings altogether and making reflections (even,
perhaps, cheap ones), so corrupting is every sort of literary
pursuit in its effect, even if it be undertaken only for one's own
satisfaction.  The reflections may indeed be very cheap, because
what is of value for oneself may very well have no value for
others.  But all this is beside the mark.  It will do for a
preface, however.  There will be nothing more of the sort.  Let us
get to work, though there is nothing more difficult than to begin
upon some sorts of work--perhaps any sort of work.


I am beginning--or rather, I should like to begin--these notes from
the 19th of September of last year, that is, from the very day I
first met . . .

But to explain so prematurely who it was I met before anything else
is known would be cheap; in fact, I believe my tone is cheap.  I
vowed I would eschew all literary graces, and here at the first
sentence I am being seduced by them.  It seems as if writing
sensibly can't be done simply by wanting to.  I may remark, also,
that I fancy writing is more difficult in Russian than in any other
European language.  I am now reading over what I have just written,
and I see that I am much cleverer than what I have written.  How is
it that what is expressed by a clever man is much more stupid than
what is left in him?  I have more than once during this momentous
year noticed this with myself in my relations with people, and have
been very much worried by it.

Although I am beginning from the 19th of September, I must put in a
word or two about who I am and where I had been till then, and what
was consequently my state of mind on the morning of that day, to
make things clearer to the reader, and perhaps to myself also.


I have passed the leaving examination at the grammar school, and
now I am in my twenty-first year.  My surname is Dolgoruky, and my
legal father is Makar Ivanov Dolgoruky, formerly a serf in the
household of the Versilovs.  In this way I am a legitimate son,
although I am, as a matter of fact, conspicuously illegitimate,
and there is not the faintest doubt about my origin.

The facts are as follows.  Twenty-two years ago Versilov (that is
my father), being twenty-five years old, visited his estate in the
province of Tula.  I imagine that at that time his character was
still quite unformed.  It is curious that this man who, even in my
childhood, made such an impression upon me, who had such a crucial
influence on the whole bent of my mind, and who perhaps has even
cast his shadow over the whole of my future, still remains, even
now, a complete enigma to me in many respects.  Of this, more
particulars later.  There is no describing him straight off.  My
whole manuscript will be full of this man, anyway.

He had just been left a widower at that time, that is, when he was
twenty-five.  He had married one of the Fanariotovs--a girl of high
rank but without much money--and by her he had a son and a
daughter.  The facts that I have gathered about this wife whom he
lost so early are somewhat scanty, and are lost among my materials,
and, indeed, many of the circumstances of Versilov's private life
have eluded me, for he has always been so proud, disdainful,
reserved and casual with me, in spite of a sort of meekness towards
me which was striking at times.  I will mention, however, to make
things clear beforehand, that he ran through three fortunes in his
lifetime, and very big ones too, of over fourteen hundred souls,
and maybe more.  Now, of course, he has not a farthing.

He went to the village on that occasion, "God knows why," so at
least he said to me afterwards.  His young children were, as usual,
not with him but with relations.  This was always his method with
his children, legitimate and illegitimate alike.  The house-serfs
on this estate were rather numerous, and among them was a gardener
called Makar Ivanov Dolgoruky.  Here I will note in parenthesis, to
relieve my mind once and for all, I doubt whether anyone can ever
have raged against his surname as I have all my life; this is
stupid, of course, but so it has been.  Every time I entered a
school or met persons whom I had to treat with respect as my
elders, every wretched little teacher, tutor, priest--anyone you
like--on asking my name and hearing it was Dolgoruky, for some
reason invariably thought fitting to add, "Prince Dolgoruky?"  And
every single time I was forced to explain to these futile people,
"No, SIMPLY Dolgoruky."

That SIMPLY began to drive me mad at last.  Here I note as a
curious phenomenon that I don't remember a single exception; every
one asked the question.  For some it was apparently quite
superfluous, and indeed I don't know how the devil it could have
been necessary for anyone.  But all, every one of them asked it.
On hearing that I was SIMPLY Dolgoruky, the questioner usually
looked me up and down with a blank and stupidly apathetic stare
that betrayed that he did not know why he had asked the question.
Then he would walk away.  My comrades and schoolfellows were the
most insulting of all.  How do schoolboys question a new-comer?
The new boy, abashed and confused on the first day of entering a
school (whatever school it may be), is the victim of all; they
order him about, they tease him, and treat him like a lackey.  A
stout, chubby urchin suddenly stands still before his victim and
watches him persistently for some moments with a stern and haughty
stare.  The new boy stands facing him in silence, looks at him out
of the corner of his eyes, and, if he is not a coward, waits to see
what is going to happen.

"What's your name?"


"Prince Dolgoruky?"

"No, simply Dolgoruky."

"Ah, simply!  Fool."

And he was right; nothing could be more foolish than to be called
Dolgoruky without being a prince.  I have to bear the burden of
that foolishness through no fault of my own.  Later on, when I
began to get very cross about it, I always answered the question
"Are you a prince?" by saying, "No, I'm the son of a servant,
formerly a serf."

At last, when I was roused to the utmost pitch of fury, I
resolutely answered:

"No, simply Dolgoruky, the illegitimate son of my former owner."

I thought of this when I was in the sixth form of the grammar
school, and though I was very soon after thoroughly convinced that
I was stupid, I did not at once give up being so.  I remember that
one of the teachers opined--he was alone in his opinion, however--
that I was "filled with ideas of vengeance and civic rights."  As a
rule this reply was received with a sort of meditative pensiveness,
anything but flattering to me.

At last one of my schoolfellows, a very sarcastic boy, to whom I
hardly talked once in a year, said to me with a serious
countenance, looking a little away:

"Such sentiments do you credit, of course, and no doubt you have
something to be proud of; but if I were in your place I should not
be too festive over being illegitimate . . . you seem to expect

From that time forth I dropped BOASTING of being illegitimate.

I repeat, it is very difficult to write in Russian: here I have
covered three pages with describing how furious I have been all my
life with my surname, and after all the reader will, no doubt,
probably have deduced that I was really furious at not being a
prince but simply Dolgoruky.  To explain again and defend myself
would be humiliating.


And so among the servants, of whom there were a great number
besides Makar Ivanitch, there was a maid, and she was eighteen when
Makar Dolgoruky, who was fifty, suddenly announced his intention of
marrying her.  In the days of serfdom marriages of house-serfs, as
every one knows, only took place with the sanction of their
masters, and were sometimes simply arranged by the latter.  At that
time "auntie" was living on the estate; not that she was my aunt,
though: she had, in fact, an estate of her own; but, I don't know
why, every one knew her all her life as "auntie"--not mine in
particular but an aunt in general, even in the family of Versilov,
to whom she can hardly have been related.  Her name was Tatyana
Pavlovna Prutkov, In those days she still had, in the same province
and district, a property of thirty-five serfs of her own.  She
didn't exactly administer Versilov's estate (of five hundred
serfs), but, being so near a neighbour, she kept a vigilant eye on
it, and her superintendence, so I have heard, was as efficient as
that of any trained steward.  However, her efficiency is nothing to
do with me.  But, to dispose of all suspicion of cringing or
flattery on my part, I should like to add that this Tatyana
Pavlovna was a generous and even original person.

Well, far from checking the gloomy Makar Dolgoruky's matrimonial
inclinations (I am told he was gloomy in those days), she gave them
the warmest encouragement.

Sofia Andreyevna, the serf-girl of eighteen (that is, my mother),
had been for some years fatherless and motherless.  Her father,
also a serf, who had a great respect for Makar Dolgoruky and was
under some obligation to him, had six years before, on his death-
bed, beckoned to the old gardener and, pointing significantly to
his daughter, had, in the presence of the priest and all the
servants, bequeathed her to him, saying, "When she's grown up,
marry her."  This was, so they say, a quarter of an hour before he
expired, so that it might, if need be, have been put down to
delirium; besides which, he had no right to dispose of property,
being a serf.  Every one heard his words.  As for Makar Ivanovitch,
I don't know in what spirit he afterwards entered upon the
marriage, whether with great eagerness or simply as the fulfilment
of a duty.  Probably he preserved an appearance of complete
indifference.  He was a man who even at that time knew how to "keep
up his dignity."  It was not that he was a particularly well-
educated or reading man (though he knew the whole of the church
service and some lives of the saints, but this was only from
hearing them).  It was not that he was a sort of backstairs
philosopher; it was simply that he was a man of obstinate, and even
at times rash character, was conceited in his talk, autocratic in
his judgment, and "respectful in his life," to use his own
surprising expression; that is what he was like at that time.  Of
course, he was universally respected, but, I am told, disliked by
every one.  It was a different matter when he ceased to be a house-
serf; then he was spoken about as a saint and a man who had
suffered much.  That I know for a fact.

As for my mother, Tatyana Pavlovna had kept her till the age of
eighteen in her house, although the steward had urged that the girl
should be sent to Moscow to be trained.  She had given the orphan
some education, that is, taught her sewing and cutting out clothes,
ladylike deportment, and even a little reading.  My mother was
never able to write decently.  She looked upon this marriage with
Makar Ivanovitch as something settled long ago, and everything that
happened to her in those days she considered very good and all for
the best.  She went to her wedding looking as unmoved as anyone
could on such an occasion, so much so that even Tatyana Pavlovna
called her a fish.  All this about my mother's character at that
time I heard from Tatyana Pavlovna herself.  Versilov arrived just
six months after this wedding.


I only want to say that I have never been able to find out or to
guess to my own satisfaction what led up to everything between him
and my mother.  I am quite ready to believe, as he himself assured
me last year with a flushed face, though he talked of all this with
the most unconstrained and flippant air, that there was no romance
about it at all, that it had just happened.  I believe that it did
just happen, and that little phrase JUST HAPPENED is delightful,
yet I always wanted to know how it could have come about.  I have
always hated that sort of nastiness all my life and always shall.
It's not simply a disgraceful curiosity on my part, of course.  I
may remark that I knew absolutely nothing of my mother till a year
ago.  For the sake of Versilov's comfort I was sent away to
strangers, but of that later, and so I can never picture what she
looked like at that time.  If she had not been at all pretty, what
could a man such as Versilov was then have found attractive in her?
This question is of importance to me because it throws a light on
an extremely interesting side of that man's character.  It is for
that reason I ask it and not from depravity.  Gloomy and reserved
as he always was, he told me himself on one occasion, with that
charming candour which he used to produce (from the devil knows
where--it seemed to come out of his pocket when he saw it was
indispensable) that at that time he was a "very silly young puppy";
not that he was exactly sentimental, but just that he had lately
read "Poor Anton" and "Polinka Sachs," two literary works which
exerted an immense, humanizing influence on the younger generation
of that day.  He added that it was perhaps through "Poor Anton"
that he went to the country, and he added it with the utmost
gravity.  How did that "silly puppy" begin at first with my mother?
I have suddenly realized that if I had a single reader he would
certainly be laughing at me as a most ridiculous raw youth, still
stupidly innocent, putting himself forward to discuss and criticize
what he knows nothing about.  It is true that I know nothing about
it, though I recognize that not at all with pride, for I know how
stupid such inexperience is in a great dolt of twenty; only I would
tell such a gentleman that he knows nothing about it himself, and I
will prove it to him.  It is true that I know nothing about women,
and I don't want to either, for I shall always despise that sort of
thing, and I have sworn I will all my life.

But I know for certain, though, that some women fascinate by their
beauty, or by anything you like, all in a minute, while you may
ruminate over another for six months before you understand what is
in her; and that to see through and love such a woman it is not
enough to look at her, it is not enough to be simply ready for
anything, one must have a special gift besides.  Of that I am
convinced, although I do know nothing about it: and if it were not
true it would mean degrading all women to the level of domestic
animals, and only keeping them about one as such; possibly this is
what very many people would like.

I know from several sources that my mother was by no means a
beauty, though I have never seen the portrait of her at that age
which is in existence.  So it was impossible to have fallen in love
with her at first sight.  Simply to "amuse himself" Versilov might
have pitched on some one else, and there was some one else in the
house, an unmarried girl too, Anfisa Konstantinovna Sapozhkov, a
housemaid.  To a man who had brought "Poor Anton" with him to the
country it must have seemed shameful to take advantage of his
seignorial rights to violate the sanctity of a marriage, even that
of his serf, for I repeat, he spoke with extreme seriousness of
this "Poor Anton" only a few months ago, that is, twenty years
after the event.  Why, "Poor Anton" only had his horse taken from
him, but this was a wife!  So there must have been something
peculiar in this case, and Mlle. Sapozhkov was the loser by it (or
rather, I should say, the gainer).  I attacked him with all these
questions once or twice last year when it was possible to talk to
him (for it wasn't always possible to talk to him).  And, in spite
of all his society polish and the lapse of twenty years, I noticed
that he winced.  But I persisted.  On one occasion, anyway,
although he maintained the air of worldly superciliousness which he
invariably thought fit to assume with me, he muttered strangely
that my mother was one of those "defenceless" people whom one does
not fall in love with--quite the contrary, in fact--but whom one
suddenly pities for their gentleness, perhaps, though one cannot
tell what for.  That no one ever knows, but one goes on pitying
them, one pities them and grows fond of them.  "In fact, my dear
boy, there are cases when one can't shake it off."  That was what
he told me.  And if that was how it really happened I could not
look upon him as the "silly puppy" he had proclaimed himself.  That
is just what I wanted.

He went on to assure me, however, that my mother loved him "through
servility."  He positively pretended it was because he was her
master!  He lied, thinking this was chic!  He lied against his
conscience, against all honour and generosity.

I have said all this, of course, as it were to the credit of my
mother.  But I have explained already that I knew nothing whatever
of her as she was then.  What is more, I know the rigidity of her
environment, and the pitiful ideas in which she had become set from
her childhood and to which she remained enslaved for the rest of
her life.  The misfortune happened, nevertheless.  I must correct
myself, by the way.  Letting my fancy run away with me, I have
forgotten the fact which I ought to have stated first of all, that
is, that the misfortune happened at the very outset (I hope that
the reader will not be too squeamish to understand at once what I
mean).  In fact, it began with his exercising his seignorial
rights, although Mlle. Sapozhkov was passed over.  But here, in
self-defence, I must declare at once that I am not contradicting
myself.  For--good Lord!--what could a man like Versilov have
talked about at that date with a person like my mother even if he
had felt the most overwhelming love for her?  I have heard from
depraved people that men and women very often come together without
a word being uttered, which is, of course, the last extreme of
monstrous loathsomeness.  Nevertheless, I do not see how Versilov
could have begun differently with my mother if he had wanted to.
Could he have begun by expounding "Polinka Sachs" to her?  And
besides, they had no thoughts to spare for Russian literature; on
the contrary, from what he said (he let himself go once), they used
to hide in corners, wait for each other on the stairs, fly apart
like bouncing balls, with flushed cheeks if anyone passed by, and
the "tyrant slave-owner" trembled before the lowest scrubbing-maid,
in spite of his seignorial rights.  And although it was at first an
affair of master and servant, it was that and yet not that, and
after all, there is no really explaining it.  In fact, the more you
go into it the more obscure it seems.  The very depth and duration
of their love makes it more mysterious, for it is a leading
characteristic of such men as Versilov to abandon as soon as their
object is attained.  That did not happen, though.  To transgress
with an attractive, giddy flirt who was his serf (and my mother was
not a flirt) was not only possible but inevitable for a depraved
young puppy (and they were all depraved, every one of them, the
progressives as well as the reactionaries), especially considering
his romantic position as a young widower and his having nothing to
do.  But to love her all his life is too much.  I cannot guarantee
that he did love her, but he has dragged her about with him all his
life--that's certain.

I put a great many questions to my mother, but there is one, most
important, which, I may remark, I did not venture to ask her
directly, though I got on such familiar terms with her last year;
and, what is more, like a coarse, ungrateful puppy, considering she
had wronged me, I did not spare her feelings at all.  This was the
question: how she after six months of marriage, crushed by her
ideas of the sanctity of wedlock, crushed like some helpless fly,
respecting her Makar Ivanovitch as though he had been a god--how
she could have brought herself in about a fortnight to such a sin?
Was my mother a depraved woman, perhaps?  On the contrary, I may
say now at once that it is difficult to imagine anyone more pure-
hearted than she was then and has been all her life.  The
explanation may be, perhaps, that she scarcely knew what she was
doing (I don't mean in the sense in which lawyers nowadays urge
this in defence of their thieves and murderers), but was carried
away by a violent emotion, which sometimes gains a fatal and tragic
ascendancy when the victim is of a certain degree of simplicity.
There is no telling: perhaps she fell madly in love with . . . the
cut of his clothes, the Parisian style in which he parted his hair,
his French accent--yes, French, though she didn't understand a word
of it--the song he sang at the piano; she fell in love with
something she had never seen or heard of (and he was very
handsome), and fell in love with him straight away, once for all,
hopelessly, fell in love with him altogether--manners, song, and
all.  I have heard that this did sometimes happen to peasant girls
in the days of serfdom, and to the most virtuous, too.  I
understand this, and the man is a scoundrel who puts it down to
nothing but servility.  And so perhaps this young man may have had
enough direct power of fascination to attract a creature who had
till then been so pure and who was of a different species, of an
utterly different world, and to lead her on to such evident ruin.
That it was to her ruin my mother, I hope, realized all her life;
only probably when she went to it she did not think of ruin at all;
but that is how it always is with these "defenceless" creatures,
they know it is ruin and they rush upon it.

Having sinned, they promptly repented.  He told me flippantly that
he sobbed on the shoulder of Makar Ivanovitch, whom he sent for to
his study expressly for the purpose, and she--she meanwhile was
lying unconscious in some little back room in the servants'
quarters. . . .


But enough of questions and scandalous details.  After paying Makar
Ivanovitch a sum of money for my mother, Versilov went away shortly
afterwards, and ever since, as I have mentioned already, he dragged
her about with him, almost everywhere he went, except at certain
times when he absented himself for a considerable period.  Then, as
a rule, he left her in the care of "auntie," that is, of Tatyana
Pavlovna Prutkov, who always turned up on such occasions.  They
lived in Moscow, and also in other towns and villages, even abroad,
and finally in Petersburg.  Of all that later, though perhaps it is
not worth recording.  I will only mention that a year after my
mother left Makar Ivanovitch, I made my appearance, and a year
later my sister, and ten or eleven years afterwards a sickly child,
my younger brother, who died a few months later.  My mother's
terrible confinement with this baby was the end of her good looks,
so at least I was told: she began rapidly to grow older and

But a correspondence with Makar Ivanovitch was always kept up.
Wherever the Versilovs were, whether they lived for some years in
the same place, or were moving about, Makar Ivanovitch never failed
to send news of himself to the "family."  Strange relations grew
up, somewhat ceremonious and almost solemn.  Among the gentry there
is always an element of something comic in such relations, I know.
But there was nothing of the sort in this case.  Letters were
exchanged twice a year, never more nor less frequently, and they
were extraordinarily alike.  I have seen them.  There was scarcely
anything personal in them.  On the contrary, they were practically
nothing but ceremonious statements of the most public incidents,
and the most public sentiments, if one may use such an expression
of sentiments; first came news of his own health, and inquiries
about their health, then ceremonious hopes, greetings and
blessings--that was all.

I believe that this publicity and impersonality is looked upon as
the essence of propriety and good breeding among the peasants.  "To
our much esteemed and respected spouse, Sofia Andreyevna, we send
our humblest greetings. . . ."  "We send to our beloved children,
our fatherly blessing, ever unalterable."  The children were
mentioned by name, including me.  I may remark here that Makar
Ivanovitch had so much wit as never to describe "His high-born most
respected master, Andrey Petrovitch" as his "benefactor"; though he
did invariably, in each letter, send him his most humble greetings,
beg for the continuance of his favour, and call down upon him the
blessing of God.  The answers to Makar Ivanovitch were sent shortly
after by my mother, and were always written in exactly the same
style.  Versilov, of course, took no part in the correspondence.
Makar Ivanovitch wrote from all parts of Russia, from the towns and
monasteries in which he sometimes stayed for a considerable time.
He had become a pilgrim, as it is called.  He never asked for
anything; but he invariably turned up at home once in three years
on a holiday, and stayed with my mother, who always, as it
happened, had her own lodgings apart from Versilov's.  Of this I
shall have to say more later, here I will only mention that Makar
Ivanovitch did not loll on the sofa in the drawing-room, but always
sat discreetly somewhere in the background.  He never stayed for
long: five days or a week.

I have omitted to say that he had the greatest affection and
respect for his surname, "Dolgoruky."  Of course this was ludicrous
stupidity.  And what was most stupid was that he prized his name
just because there were princes of the name.  A strange, topsy-
turvy idea.

I have said that the family were always together, but I mean except
for me, of course.  I was like an outcast, and, almost from my
birth, had been with strangers.  But this was done with no special
design, but simply because it had happened so.  When I was born my
mother was still young and good-looking, and therefore necessary to
Versilov; and a screaming child, of course, was always a nuisance,
especially when they were travelling.  That was how it happened
that until I was nineteen I had scarcely seen my mother except on
two or three brief occasions.  It was not due to my mother's
wishes, but to Versilov's lofty disregard for people.


Now for something quite different.  A month earlier, that is a
month before the 19th of September, I had made up my mind in Moscow
to renounce them all, and to retire into my own idea, finally.  I
record that expression "retire into my own idea" because that
expression may explain my leading motive, my object in life.  What
that "idea" of mine is, of that there will be only too much said
later.  In the solitary years of my dreamy life in Moscow it sprang
up in my mind before I had left the sixth form of the grammar
school, and from that time perhaps never left me for an instant.
It absorbed my whole existence.  Till then I had lived in dreams;
from my childhood upwards I have lived in the world of dreams,
always of a certain colour.  But after this great and all-absorbing
idea turned up, my dreams gained in force, took a definite shape;
and became rational instead of foolish.  School did not hinder my
dreams, and it did not hinder the idea either.  I must add,
however, that I came out badly in the leaving exam, though I had
always been one of the first in all the forms up to the seventh,
and this was a result of that same idea, a result of a false
deduction from it perhaps.  So it was not school work that hindered
the idea, but the idea that hindered school work, and it hindered
university work too.  When I left school I intended at once not
only to cut myself off from my family completely, but from all the
world if necessary, though I was only nineteen at the time.  I
wrote through a suitable person to tell them to leave me entirely
alone, not to send me any more money for my maintenance, and, if
possible, to forget me altogether (that is if they ever did
remember me), and finally "nothing would induce" me to enter the
university.  An alternative presented itself from which there was
no escaping: to refuse to enter the university and go on with my
education, or to defer putting my idea into practice for another
four years.  I went for the idea without faltering, for I was
absolutely resolved about it.  In answer to my letter, which had
not been addressed to him, Versilov, my father, whom I had only
seen once for a moment when I was a boy of ten (though even in that
moment he made a great impression upon me), summoned me to
Petersburg in a letter written in his own hand, promising me a
private situation.  This cold, proud man, careless and disdainful
of me, after bringing me into the world and packing me off to
strangers, knew nothing of me at all and had never even regretted
his conduct; who knows, perhaps he had only a vague and confused
idea of my existence, for it appeared afterwards that the money for
my maintenance in Moscow had not been furnished by him but by other
people.  Yet the summons of this man who so suddenly remembered me
and deigned to write to me with his own hand, by flattering me,
decided my fate.  Strange to say, what pleased me in his note (one
tiny sheet of paper) was that he said not a word about the
university, did not ask me to change my mind, did not blame me for
not wanting to continue my studies, did not, in fact, trot out any
parental flourishes of the kind usual in such cases, and yet this
was wrong of him since it betrayed more than anything his lack of
interest in me.  I resolved to go, the more readily because it
would not hinder my great idea.  "I'll see what will come of it," I
argued, "in any case I shall associate with them only for a time;
possibly a very short time.  But as soon as I see that this step,
tentative and trifling as it is, is keeping me from the GREAT
OBJECT, I shall break off with them, throw up everything and
retreat into my shell."  Yes, into my shell!  "I shall hide in it
like a tortoise."  This comparison pleased me very much.  "I shall
not be alone," I went on musing, as I walked about Moscow those
last days like one possessed.  "I shall never be alone as I have
been for so many awful years till now; I shall have my idea to
which I will never be false, even if I like them all there, and
they make me happy, and I live with them for ten years!"  It was,
I may remark beforehand, just that impression, that is, just the
twofold nature of the plans and objects definitely formed before
leaving Moscow, and never out of my mind for one instant in
Petersburg (for I hardly think there was a day in Petersburg which
I had not fixed on beforehand as the final date for breaking off
with them and going away), it was this, I say, that was, I believe,
one of the chief causes of many of the indiscretions I have been
guilty of during this year, many nasty things, many even low
things, and stupid ones of course.  To be sure, a father, something
I had never had before, had appeared upon the scene.  This thought
intoxicated me as I made my preparations in Moscow and sat in the
railway carriage.  That he was my father would be nothing.  I was
not fond of sentimentality, but this man had humiliated me and had
not cared to know me, while all those years I had been chewing away
at my dreams of him, if one may use such an expression.  From my
childhood upward, my dreams were all coloured by him; all hovered
about him as the final goal.  I don't know whether I hated him or
loved him; but his figure dominated the future and all my schemes
of life.  And this happened of itself.  It grew up with me.

Another thing which influenced me in leaving Moscow was a
tremendous circumstance, a temptation which even then, three months
before my departure (before Petersburg had been mentioned), set my
heart leaping and throbbing.  I was drawn to this unknown ocean by
the thought that I could enter it as the lord and master of other
people's destinies, and what people, too!  But the feelings that
were surging in my heart were generous and not despotic--I hasten
to declare it that my words may not be mistaken.  Moreover,
Versilov might think (if he ever deigned to think of me) that a
small boy who had just left school, a raw youth, was coming who
would be agape with wonder at everything.  And meanwhile I knew all
his private life, and had about me a document of the utmost
importance, for which (I know that now for a fact) he would have
given some years of his life, if I had told him the secret at the
time.  But I notice that I am talking in riddles.  One cannot
describe feelings without facts.  Besides which, there will be
enough about all this in its proper place; it is with that object I
have taken up my pen.  Writing like this is like a cloud of words
or the ravings of delirium.


Finally, to pass once for all to the 19th of September, I will
observe briefly and, so to say, cursorily, that I found them all,
that is Versilov, my mother and my sister (the latter I saw for the
first time in my life) in difficult circumstances, almost
destitute, or at least, on the verge of destitution.  I knew of
this before leaving Moscow, but yet I was not prepared for what I
saw.  I had been accustomed from childhood to imagine this man,
this "future father of mine" in brilliant surroundings, and could
not picture him except as the leading figure everywhere.  Versilov
had never shared the same lodgings with my mother, but had always
taken rooms for her apart.  He did this, of course, out of regard
for their very contemptible "proprieties."  But here they were all
living together in a little wooden lodge in a back street in the
Semyonovsky Polk.  All their things were in pawn, so that, without
Versilov's knowledge, I gave my mother my secret sixty roubles.
SECRET, because I had saved them up in the course of two years out
of my pocket money, which was five roubles a month.  I had begun
saving from the very day I had conceived my "idea," and so Versilov
must know nothing about the money.  I trembled at the thought of

My help was like a drop in the ocean.  My mother worked hard and my
sister too took in sewing.  Versilov lived in idleness, indulged
his whims and kept up a number of his former rather expensive
habits.  He grumbled terribly, especially at dinner, and he was
absolutely despotic in all his ways.  But my mother, my sister,
Tatyana Pavlovna and the whole family of the late Andronikov (the
head of some department who used also to manage Versilov's affairs
and had died three months before), consisting of innumerable women,
grovelled before him as though he were a fetish.  I had not
imagined this.  I may remark that nine years before he had been
infinitely more elegant.  I have said already that I had kept the
image of him in my dreams surrounded by a sort of brilliance, and
so I could not conceive how it was possible after only nine years
for him to look so much older and to be so worn out; I felt at once
sad, sorry, ashamed.  The sight of him was one of the most painful
of my first impressions on my arrival.  Yet he was by no means an
old man, he was only forty-five.  Looking at him more closely I
found in his handsome face something even more striking than what I
had kept in my memory.  There was less of the brilliance of those
days, less external beauty, less elegance even; but life had, as it
were, stamped on that face something far more interesting than

Meanwhile poverty was not the tenth or twentieth fraction of his
misfortunes, and I knew that.  There was something infinitely more
serious than poverty, apart from the fact that there was still a
hope that Versilov might win the lawsuit he had been contesting for
the last year with the Princes Sokolsky and might in the immediate
future come into an estate to the value of seventy thousand or
more.  I have said above that Versilov had run through three
fortunes in his life, and here another fortune was coming to his
rescue again!  The case was to be settled very shortly.  It was
just then that I arrived.  It is true that no one would lend him
money on his expectations, there was nowhere he could borrow, and
meanwhile they had to suffer.

Versilov visited no one, though he sometimes was out for the whole
day.  It was more than a year since he had been BANISHED from
society.  In spite of all my efforts, this scandal remained for the
most part a mystery though I had been a whole month in Petersburg.
Was Versilov guilty or not guilty--that was what mattered to me,
that is what I had come to Petersburg for!  Every one had turned
against him--among others all the influential and distinguished
people with whom he had been particularly clever in maintaining
relations all his life--in consequence of rumours of an extremely
low and--what was much worse in the eyes of the "world"--scandalous
action which he was said to have committed more than a year ago in
Germany.  It was even reported that he had received a slap in the
face from Prince Sokolsky (one of those with whom he was now in
litigation) and had not followed it by a challenge.  Even his
children (the legitimate ones), his son and daughter, had turned
against him and were holding aloof.  It is true that through the
influence of the Fanariotovs and old Prince Sokolsky (who had been
a friend of Versilov) the son and daughter moved in the very
highest circles.  Yet, watching him all that month, I saw a haughty
man who had rather cast off "society" than been cast off by it, so
independent was his air.  But had he the right to look like that--
that was the question that agitated me.  I absolutely had to find
out the whole truth at the earliest possible date, for I had come--
to judge this man.  I still kept my power hidden from him, but I
had either to accept him or to reject him altogether.  But that
would have been too painful to me and I was in torment.  I will
confess it frankly at last: the man was dear to me!

And meanwhile I was living in the same flat with him, working, and
scarcely refraining from being rude.  In fact I did not refrain.
After spending a month with him I became more convinced every day
that I could not possibly appeal to him for a full explanation.
This man in his pride remained an enigma to me, while he wounded me
deeply.  He was positively charming to me, and jested with me, but
I should have liked quarrels better than such jests.  There was a
certain note of ambiguity about all my conversations with him, or
more simply, a strange irony on his part.  From our first meeting,
on my arrival from Moscow, he did not treat me seriously.  I never
could make out why he took up this line.  It is true that by this
means he succeeded in remaining impenetrable, but I would not have
humbled myself so far as to ask him to treat me seriously.
Besides, he had certain wonderful and irresistible ways which I did
not know how to deal with.  In short he behaved to me as though I
were the greenest of raw youths, which I was hardly able to endure,
though I knew it would be so.  I, too, gave up talking seriously in
consequence, and waited; in fact, I almost gave up talking
altogether.  I waited for a person on whose arrival in Petersburg I
might finally learn the truth; that was my last hope.  In any case
I prepared myself for a final rupture, and had already taken all
necessary measures.  I was sorry for my mother but--"either him or
me," that was the choice I meant to offer her and my sister.  I had
even fixed on the day; and meanwhile I went to my work.



On that 19th of September I was also to receive my first salary for
the first month of my work in Petersburg in my "private" situation.
They did not ask me about this job but simply handed me over to it,
I believe, on the very first day of my arrival.  This was very
unmannerly, and it was almost my duty to protest.  The job turned
out to be a situation in the household of old Prince Sokolsky.  But
to protest then would have meant breaking off relations on the
spot, and though I was not in the least afraid of that, it would
have hindered the attainment of my primary objects; and so in
silence I accepted the job for the time, maintaining my dignity by
silence.  I must explain from the very first that this Prince
Sokolsky, a wealthy man and a privy councillor, was no relation at
all of the Moscow princes of that name (who had been poor and
insignificant for several generations past) with whom Versilov was
contesting his lawsuit.  It was only that they had the same name.
Yet the old prince took a great interest in them, and was
particularly fond of one of them who was, so to speak, the head of
the family--a young officer.  Versilov had till recently had an
immense influence in this old man's affairs and had been his
friend, a strange sort of friend, for the poor old prince, as I
detected, was awfully afraid of him, not only at the time when I
arrived on the scene, but had apparently been always afraid of him
all through their friendship.  They had not seen each other for a
long time, however.  The dishonourable conduct of which Versilov
was accused concerned the old prince's family.  But Tatyana
Pavlovna had intervened and it was through her that I was placed in
attendance on the old prince, who wanted a "young man" in his
study.  At the same time it appeared that he was very anxious to do
something to please Versilov, to make, so to speak, the first
advance to him, and Versilov ALLOWED it.  The old man had made the
arrangement in the absence of his daughter, the widow of a general,
who would certainly not have permitted him to take this step.  Of
this later, but I may remark that the strangeness of his relations
with Versilov impressed me in the latter's favour.  It occurred to
the imagination that if the head of the injured family still
cherished a respect for Versilov, the rumours of Versilov's
scoundrelly behaviour must be absurd, or at least exaggerated, and
might have more than one explanation.  It was partly this
circumstance which kept me from protesting against the situation;
in accepting it I hoped to verify all this.

Tatyana Pavlovna was playing a strange part at the time when I
found her in Petersburg.  I had almost forgotten her, and had not
at all expected to find her possessed of such influence.  She had
met me three or four times during my life in Moscow, and had always
turned up, goodness knows where from, sent by some one or other
whenever I needed fitting out--to go into Touchard's boarding
school, or two and a half years later, when I was being transferred
to the grammar school and sent to board with Nikolay Semyonovitch,
a friend I shall never forget.  She used to spend the whole day
with me and inspect my linen and my clothes.  She drove about the
town with me, took me to Kuznetsky Street, bought me what was
necessary, provided me with a complete outfit, in fact, down to the
smallest box and penknife.  All the while she nagged at me, scolded
me, reproached me, cross-examined me, quoting as examples to me
various phantom boys among her relations and acquaintances who were
all said to be better than I was.  She even pinched me and actually
gave me several vicious pokes.  After fitting me out and installing
me, she would disappear completely for several years.  On this
occasion, too, she turned up at once on my arrival to instal me
again.  She was a spare little figure with a sharp nose like a
beak, and sharp little eyes like a bird's.  She waited on Versilov
like a slave, and grovelled before him as though he were the Pope,
but she did it through conviction.  But I soon noticed with
surprise that she was respected by all and, what was more, known
to every one everywhere.  Old Prince Sokolsky treated her with
extraordinary deference; it was the same thing with his family;
the same with Versilov's haughty children; the same with the
Fanariotovs; and yet she lived by taking in sewing, and washing
lace, and fetched work from the shops.  She and I fell out at the
first word, for she thought fit to begin nagging at me just as she
had done six years before.  And from that time forward we
quarrelled every day, but that did not prevent us from sometimes
talking, and I must confess that by the end of the month I began to
like her: for her independent character, I believe.  But I did not
tell her so.

I realized at once that I had only been given this post at the old
invalid prince's in order to "amuse" him, and that that was my
whole duty.  Naturally this was humiliating, and I should at once
have taken steps, but the queer old fellow soon made an unexpected
impression upon me.  I felt something like compassion for him, and
by the end of the month I had become strangely attached to him;
anyway I gave up my intention of being rude.  He was not more than
sixty, however, but there had been a great to-do with him a year
and a half before, when he suddenly had a fit.  He was travelling
somewhere and went mad on the way, so there was something of a
scandal of which people talked in Petersburg.  As is usual in such
cases, he was instantly taken abroad, but five months later he
suddenly reappeared perfectly well, though he gave up the service.
Versilov asserted seriously (and with noticeable heat) that he had
not been insane at all, but had only had some sort of nervous fit.
I promptly made a note of Versilov's warmth about it.  I may
observe, however, that I was disposed to share his opinion.  The
old man only showed perhaps an excessive frivolity at times, not
quite appropriate to his years, of which, so they say, there was no
sign in him before.  It was said that in the past he had been a
councillor of some sort, and on one occasion had quite distinguished
himself in some commission with which he had been charged.  After
knowing him for a whole month, I should never have supposed he
could have any special capacity as a councillor. People observed
(though I saw nothing of it) that after his fit he developed a
marked disposition to rush into matrimony, and it was said that he
had more than once reverted to this idea during the last eighteen
months, that it was known in society and a subject of interest.
But as this weakness by no means fell in with the interests of
certain persons of the prince's circle, the old man was guarded on
all sides.  He had not a large family of his own; he had been a
widower for twenty years, and had only one daughter, the general's
widow, who was now daily expected from Moscow.  She was a young
person whose strength of will was evidently a source of apprehension
to the old man.  But he had masses of distant relatives, principally
through his wife, who were all almost beggars, besides a multitude
of proteges of all sorts, male and female, all of whom expected to
be mentioned in his will, and so they all supported the general's
widow in keeping watch over the old man.  He had, moreover, had one
strange propensity from his youth up (I don't know whether it was
ridiculous or not) for making matches for poor girls.  He had been
finding husbands for the last twenty-five years--for distant
relations, for the step-daughters of his wife's cousins, for his
god-daughters; he even found a husband for the daughter of his
house porter.  He used to take his protegees into his house when
they were little girls, provide them with governesses and French
mademoiselles, then have them educated in the best boarding
schools, and finally marry them off with a dowry. The calls upon
him were continually increasing.  When his protegees were married
they naturally produced more little girls and all these little
girls became his protegees.  He was always having to stand as
god-father.  The whole lot turned up to congratulate him on his
birthdays, and it was all very agreeable to him.

I noticed at once that the old man had lurking in his mind a
painful conviction (it was impossible to avoid noticing it, indeed)
that every one had begun to look at him strangely, that every one
had begun to behave to him not as before, not as to a healthy man.
This impression never left him even at the liveliest social
functions.  The old man had become suspicious, had begun to detect
something in every one's eyes.  He was evidently tormented by the
idea that every one suspected him of being mad.  He sometimes
looked mistrustfully even at me.  And if he had found out that some
one was spreading or upholding such rumours, the benevolent old man
would have become his implacable foe.  I beg that this circumstance
may be noted.  I may add that it was what decided me from the first
day not to be rude to him; in fact, I was glad if I were able
sometimes to amuse or entertain him; I don't think that this
confession can cast any slur on my dignity.

The greater part of his money was invested.  He had since his
illness become a partner in a large joint stock enterprise, a very
safe one, however.  And though the management was in other hands he
took a great interest in it, too, attended the shareholders'
meetings, was appointed a director, presided at the board-meetings,
opposed motions, was noisy and obviously enjoyed himself.  He was
very fond of making speeches: every one could judge of his brain
anyway.  And in general he developed a great fancy for introducing
profound reflections and bon mots in his conversation, even in the
intimacy of private life.  I quite understand it.

On the ground floor of his house there was something like a private
office where a single clerk kept the books and accounts and also
managed the house.  This clerk was quite equal to the work alone,
though he had some government job as well, but by the prince's own
wish I was engaged to assist him; but I was immediately transferred
to the prince's study, and often had no work before me, not even
books or papers to keep up appearances.  I am writing now sobered
by time; and about many things feel now almost like an outsider;
but how can I describe the depression (I recall it vividly at this
moment) that weighed down my heart in those days, and still more,
the excitement which reached such a pitch of confused feverishness
that I did not sleep at night--all due to my impatience, to the
riddles I had set myself to solve.


To ask for money, even a salary, is a most disgusting business,
especially if one feels in the recesses of one's conscience that
one has not quite earned it.  Yet the evening before, my mother had
been whispering to my sister apart from Versilov ("so as not to
worry Andrey Petrovitch") that she intended to take the ikon
which for some reason was particularly precious to her to the
pawnbroker's.  I was to be paid fifty roubles a month, but I had no
idea how I should receive the money; nothing had been said to me
about it.

Meeting the clerk downstairs three days before, I inquired of him
whom one was to ask for one's salary.  He looked at me with a smile
as though of astonishment (he did not like me).

"Oh, you get a salary?"

I thought that on my answering he would add:

"What for?"

But he merely answered drily, that he "knew nothing about it," and
buried himself in the ruled exercise book into which he was copying
accounts from some bills.

He was not unaware, however, that I did something.  A fortnight
before I had spent four days over work he had given me, making a
fair copy, and as it turned out, almost a fresh draft of something.
It was a perfect avalanche of "ideas" of the prince's which he was
preparing to present to the board of directors.  These had to be
put together into a whole and clothed in suitable language.  I
spent a whole day with the prince over it afterwards, and he argued
very warmly with me, but was well satisfied in the end.  But I
don't know whether he read the paper or not.  I say nothing of the
two or three letters, also about business, which I wrote at his

It was annoying to me to have to ask for my salary because I had
already decided to give up my situation, foreseeing that I should
be obliged through unavoidable circumstances to go away.  When I
waked up and dressed that morning in my garret upstairs, I felt
that my heart was beating, and though I pooh-poohed it, yet I was
conscious of the same excitement as I walked towards the prince's
house.  That morning there was expected a woman, whose presence I
was reckoning upon for the explanation of all that was tormenting
me!  This was the prince's daughter, the young widow of General
Ahmakov, of whom I have spoken already and who was bitterly hostile
to Versilov.  At last I have written that name!  I had never seen
her, of course, and could not imagine how I should speak to her or
whether I should speak, but I imagined (perhaps on sufficient
grounds) that with her arrival there would be some light thrown on
the darkness surrounding Versilov in my eyes.  I could not remain
unmoved.  It was frightfully annoying that at the very outset I
should be so cowardly and awkward; it was awfully interesting, and,
still more, sickening--three impressions at once.  I remember every
detail of that day!

My old prince knew nothing of his daughter's probable arrival, and
was not expecting her to return from Moscow for a week.  I had
learnt this the evening before quite by chance: Tatyana Pavlovna,
who had received a letter from Mme. Ahmakov, let it out to my
mother.  Though they were whispering and spoke in veiled allusions,
I guessed what was meant.  Of course I was not eavesdropping, I
simply could not avoid listening when I saw how agitated my mother
was at the news of this woman's arrival.  Versilov was not in the

I did not want to tell the old prince because I could not help
noticing all that time how he was dreading her arrival.  He had
even let drop three days before, though only by a timid and remote
hint, that he was afraid of her coming on my account; that is that
he would have trouble about me.  I must add, however, that in his
own family he preserved his independence and was still master in
his own house, especially in money matters.  My first judgment of
him was that he was a regular old woman, but I was afterwards
obliged to revise my opinion, and to recognize that, if he were an
old woman, there was still a fund of obstinacy, if not of real
manliness, in him.  There were moments when one could hardly do
anything with him in spite of his apprehensive and yielding
character.  Versilov explained this to me more fully later.  I
recall now with interest that the old prince and I scarcely ever
spoke of his daughter, we seemed to avoid it: I in particular
avoided it, while he, on his side, avoided mentioning Versilov, and
I guessed that he would not answer if I were to ask him one of the
delicate questions which interested me so much.

If anyone cares to know what we did talk about all that month I
must answer that we really talked of everything in the world,
but always of the queerest things.  I was delighted with the
extraordinary simplicity with which he treated me.  Sometimes I
looked with extreme astonishment at the old man and wondered how he
could ever have presided at meetings.  If he had been put into our
school and in the fourth class too, what a nice schoolfellow he
would have made.  More than once, too, I was surprised by his face;
it was very serious-looking, almost handsome and thin; he had thick
curly grey hair, wide-open eyes; and he was besides slim and well
built; but there was an unpleasant, almost unseemly, peculiarity
about his face, it would suddenly change from excessive gravity to
an expression of exaggerated playfulness, which was a complete
surprise to a person who saw him for the first time.  I spoke of
this to Versilov, who listened with curiosity; I fancy that he had
not expected me to be capable of making such observations; he
observed casually that this had come upon the prince since his
illness and probably only of late.

We used to talk principally of two abstract subjects--of God and
of His existence, that is, whether there was a God or not--and of
women.  The prince was very religious and sentimental.  He had in
his study a huge stand of ikons with a lamp burning before them.
But something seemed to come over him--and he would begin
expressing doubts of the existence of God and would say astounding
things, obviously challenging me to answer.  I was not much
interested in the question, speaking generally, but we both got
very hot about it and quite genuinely.  I recall all those
conversations even now with pleasure.  But what he liked best was
gossiping about women, and he was sometimes positively disappointed
at my disliking this subject of conversation, and making such a
poor response to it.

He began talking in that style as soon as I went in that morning.
I found him in a jocose mood, though I had left him the night
before extremely melancholy.  Meanwhile it was absolutely necessary
for me to settle the matter of the salary--before the arrival of
certain persons.  I reckoned that that morning we should certainly
be interrupted (it was not for nothing my heart was beating) and
then perhaps I should not be able to bring myself to speak of
money.  But I did not know how to begin about money and I was
naturally angry at my stupidity.  And, as I remember now in my
vexation at some too jocular question of his, I blurted out my
views on women point-blank and with great vigour.

And this led him to be more expansive with me than ever.


"I don't like women because they've no manners, because they are
awkward, because they are not self-reliant, and because they wear
unseemly clothes!"  I wound up my long tirade incoherently.

"My dear boy, spare us!" he cried, immensely delighted, which
enraged me more than ever.

I am ready to give way and be trivial only about trifles.  I never
give way in things that are really important.  In trifles, in
little matters of etiquette, you can do anything you like with me,
and I curse this peculiarity in myself.  From a sort of putrid
good nature I've sometimes been ready to knuckle under to some
fashionable snob, simply flattered by his affability, or I've
let myself be drawn into argument with a fool, which is more
unpardonable than anything.  All this is due to lack of self-
control, and to my having grown up in seclusion, but next day it
would be the same thing again: that's why I was sometimes taken for
a boy of sixteen.  But instead of gaining self-control I prefer
even now to bottle myself up more tightly than ever in my shell--
"I may be clumsy--but good-bye!"--however misanthropic that may
seem.  I say that seriously and for good.  But I don't write
this with reference to the prince or even with reference to that

"I'm not speaking for your entertainment," I almost shouted at him.
"I am speaking from conviction."

"But how do you mean that women have no manners and are unseemly in
their dress?  That's something new."

"They have no manners.  Go to the theatre, go for a walk.  Every
man knows the right side of the road, when they meet they step
aside, he keeps to the right, I keep to the right.  A woman, that
is a lady--it's ladies I'm talking about--dashes straight at you as
though she doesn't see you, as though you were absolutely bound to
skip aside and make way for her.  I'm prepared to make way for her
as a weaker creature, but why has she the right, why is she so sure
it's my duty--that's what's offensive.  I always curse when I meet
them.  And after that they cry out that they're oppressed and
demand equality; a fine sort of equality when she tramples me under
foot and fills my mouth with sand."

"With sand?"

"Yes, because they're not decently dressed--it's only depraved
people don't notice it.  In the law-courts they close the doors
when they're trying cases of indecency.  Why do they allow it in
the streets, where there are more people?  They openly hang bustles
on behind to look as though they had fine figures; openly!  I can't
help noticing; the young lad notices it too; and the child that's
growing into a boy notices it too; it's abominable.  Let old rakes
admire them and run after them with their tongues hanging out, but
there is such a thing as the purity of youth which must be
protected.  One can only despise them.  They walk along the parade
with trains half a yard long behind them, sweeping up the dust.
It's a pleasant thing to walk behind them: you must run to get in
front of them, or jump on one side, or they'll sweep pounds of dust
into your mouth and nose.  And what's more it's silk, and they'll
drag it over the stones for a couple of miles simply because it's
the fashion, when their husbands get five hundred roubles a year in
the Senate: that's where bribes come in!  I've always despised
them.  I've cursed them aloud and abused them."

Though I describe this conversation somewhat humorously in the
style that was characteristic of me at that time, my ideas are
still the same.

"And how do you come off?" the prince queried.

"I curse them and turn away.  They feel it, of course, but they
don't show it, they prance along majestically without turning their
heads.  But I only came to actual abuse on one occasion with two
females, both wearing tails on the parade; of course I didn't use
bad language, but I said aloud that long tails were offensive."

"Did you use that expression?"

"Of course I did.  To begin with, they trample upon the rules of
social life, and secondly, they raise the dust, and the parade is
meant for all.  I walk there, other men walk, Fyodor, Ivan, it's
the same for all.  So that's what I said.  And I dislike the way
women walk altogether, when you look at their back view; I told
them that too, but only hinted at it."

"But, my dear boy, you might get into serious trouble; they might
have hauled you off to the police station."

"They couldn't do anything.  They had nothing to complain of: a man
walks beside them talking to himself.  Every one has the right to
express his convictions to the air.  I spoke in the abstract
without addressing them.  They began wrangling with me of
themselves; they began to abuse me, they used much worse language
than I did; they called me milksop, said I ought to go without my
dinner, called me a nihilist, and threatened to hand me over to the
police; said that I'd attacked them because they were alone and
weak women, but if there'd been a man with them I should soon sing
another tune.  I very coolly told them to leave off annoying me,
and I would cross to the other side of the street.  And to show
them that I was not in the least afraid of their men, and was ready
to accept their challenge, I would follow them to their house,
walking twenty paces behind them, then I would stand before the
house and wait for their men.  And so I did."

"You don't say so?"

"Of course it was stupid, but I was roused.  They dragged me over
two miles in the heat, as far as the 'institutions,' they went into
a wooden house of one storey--a very respectable-looking one I must
admit--one could see in at the windows a great many flowers, two
canaries, three pug-dogs and engravings in frames.  I stood for
half an hour in the street facing the house.  They peeped out two
or three times, then pulled down all the blinds.  Finally an
elderly government clerk came out of the little gate; judging from
his appearance he had been asleep and had been waked up on purpose;
he was not actually in a dressing-gown, but he was in a very
domestic-looking attire.  He stood at the gate, folded his hands
behind him, and proceeded to stare at me--I at him.  Then he looked
away, then gazed at me again, and suddenly began smiling at me.
I turned and walked away."

"My dear boy, how Schilleresque!  I've always wondered at you; with
your rosy cheeks, your face blooming with health, and such an
aversion, one may say, for women!  How is it possible that woman
does not make a certain impression on you at your age?  Why, when I
was a boy of eleven, mon cher, my tutor used to notice that I
looked too attentively at the statues in the Summer Gardens."

"You would like me to take up with some Josephine here, and come
and tell you all about it!  Rather not; I saw a woman completely
naked when I was thirteen; I've had a feeling of disgust ever

"Do you mean it?  But, cher enfant, about a fresh, beautiful woman
there's a scent of apples; there's nothing disgusting."

"In the little boarding school I was at before I went to the
grammar school, there was a boy called Lambert.  He was always
thrashing me, for he was three years older than I was, and I used
to wait on him, and take off his boots.  When he was going to be
confirmed an abbe, called Rigaud, came to congratulate him on his
first communion, and they dissolved in tears on each other's necks,
and the abbe hugged him tightly to his bosom.  I shed tears, too,
and felt very envious.  He left school when his father died, and
for two years I saw nothing of him.  Then I met him in the street.
He said he would come and see me.  By that time I was at the
grammar school and living at Nikolay Semyonovitch's.  He came in
the morning, showed me five hundred roubles, and told me to go with
him.  Though he had thrashed me two years before, he had always
wanted my company, not simply to take off his boots, but because he
liked to tell me things.  He told me that he had taken the money
that day out of his mother's desk, to which he had made a false
key, for legally all his father's money was his, and so much the
worse for her if she wouldn't give it to him.  He said that the
Abbe Rigaud had been to lecture him the day before, that he'd come
in, stood over him, begun whimpering, and described all sorts of
horrors, lifting up his hands to heaven.  "And I pulled out a knife
and told him I'd cut his throat" (he pronounced it 'thr-r-roat').
We went to Kuznetsky Street.  On the way he informed me that his
mother was the abbe's mistress, and that he'd found it out, and he
didn't care a hang for anything, and that all they said about the
sacrament was rubbish.  He said a great deal more, and I felt
frightened.  In Kuznetsky Street he bought a double-barrelled gun,
a game bag, cartridges, a riding-whip, and afterwards a pound of
sweets.  We were going out into the country to shoot, and on the
way we met a bird-catcher with cages of birds.  Lambert bought a
canary from him.  In a wood he let the canary go, as it couldn't
fly far after being in the cage, and began shooting at it, but did
not hit it.  It was the first time in his life he had fired off a
gun, but he had wanted to buy a gun years before; at Touchard's
even we were dreaming of one.  He was almost choking with
excitement.  His hair was black, awfully black, his face was white
and red, like a mask, he had a long aquiline nose, such as are
common with Frenchmen, white teeth and black eyes.  He tied the
canary by a thread to a branch, and an inch away fired off both
barrels, and the bird was blown into a hundred feathers.  Then we
returned, drove to an hotel, took a room, and began eating, and
drinking champagne; a lady came in. . . .  I remember being awfully
impressed by her being so splendidly dressed; she wore a green silk
dress.  It was then I saw . . . all that I told you about. . . .
Afterwards, when we had begun drinking, he began taunting and
abusing her; she was sitting with nothing on, he took away her
clothes and when she began scolding and asking for her clothes to
dress again, he began with all his might beating her with the
riding-whip on her bare shoulders.  I got up, seized him by the
hair, and so neatly that I threw him on the ground at once.  He
snatched up a fork and stuck it in my leg.  Hearing the outcry,
people ran in, and I had time to run away.  Ever since then it's
disgusted me to think of nakedness; and, believe me, she was a

As I talked, the prince's face changed from a playful expression to
one of great sadness.

"Mon pauvre enfant!  I have felt convinced all along that there
have been very many unhappy days in your childhood."

"Please don't distress yourself!"

"But you were alone, you told me so yourself, but for that Lambert;
you have described it so well, that canary, the confirmation and
shedding tears on the abbe's breast, and only a year or so later
saying that of his mother and the abbe! . . .  Oh, mon cher, the
question of childhood in our day is truly awful; for a time those
golden heads, curly and innocent, flutter before one and look at
one with their clear eyes like angels of God, or little birds, and
afterwards . . . and afterwards it turns out that it would have
been better if they had not grown up at all!"

"How soft you are, prince!  It's as though you had little children
of your own.  Why, you haven't any and never will have."

"Tiens!"  His whole face was instantly transformed, "that's just
what Alexandra Petrovna said--the day before yesterday, he-he!--
Alexandra Petrovna Sinitsky--you must have met her here three weeks
ago--only fancy, the day before yesterday, in reply to my jocular
remark that if I do get married now I could set my mind at rest,
there'd be no children, she suddenly said, and with such spite, 'On
the contrary, there certainly would be; people like you always have
them, they'll arrive the very first year, you'll see.'  He-he!  And
they've all taken it into their heads, for some reason, that I'm
going to get married; but though it was spiteful I admit it was--

"Witty--but insulting!"

"Oh, cher enfant, one can't take offence at some people.  There's
nothing I prize so much in people as wit, which is evidently
disappearing among us; though what Alexandra Petrovna said--can
hardly be considered wit."

"What?  What did you say?" I said, catching at his words--"one
can't take offence at some people.  That's just it!  Some people
are not worth noticing--an excellent principle!  Just the one I
need.  I shall make a note of it.  You sometimes say the most
delightful things, prince."

He beamed all over.

"N'est ce pas?  Cher enfant, true wit is vanishing; the longer one
lives the more one sees it.  Eh, mais . . . c'est moi qui connait
les femmes!  Believe me, the life of every woman, whatever she may
profess, is nothing but a perpetual search for some one to submit
to . . . so to speak a thirst for submission.  And mark my words,
there's not a single exception."

"Perfectly true!  Magnificent!" I cried rapturously.  Another time
we should have launched into philosophical disquisitions on this
theme, lasting for an hour, but suddenly I felt as though something
had bitten me, and I flushed all over.  I suddenly imagined that in
admiring his bon mots I was flattering him as a prelude to asking
for money, and that he would certainly think so as soon as I began
to ask for it.  I purposely mention this now.

"Prince, I humbly beg you to pay me at once the fifty roubles you
owe me for the month," I fired off like a shot, in a tone of
irritability that was positively rude.

I remember (for I remember every detail of that morning) that there
followed between us then a scene most disgusting in its realistic
truth.  For the first minute he did not understand me, stared at me
for some time without understanding what money I was talking about.
It was natural that he should not realize I was receiving a salary--
and indeed, why should I?  It is true that he proceeded to assure
me afterwards that he had forgotten, and when he grasped the
meaning of my words, he instantly began taking out fifty roubles,
but he was flustered and turned crimson.  Seeing how things stood,
I got up and abruptly announced that I could not take the money
now, that in what I had been told about a salary they had made a
mistake, or deceived me to induce me to accept the situation, and
that I saw only too well now, that I did nothing to earn one, for I
had no duties to perform.  The prince was alarmed and began
assuring me that I was of the greatest use to him, that I should be
still more useful to him in the future, and that fifty roubles was
so little that he should certainly add to it, for he was bound to
do so, and that he had made the arrangement himself with Tatyana
Pavlovna, but had "unpardonably forgotten it."  I flushed crimson
and declared resolutely that it was degrading for me to receive a
salary for telling scandalous stories of how I had followed two
draggle-tails to the 'institutions,' that I had not been engaged to
amuse him but to do work, and that if there was no work I must stop
it, and so on, and so on.  I could never have imagined that anyone
could have been so scared as he was by my words.  Of course it
ended in my ceasing to protest, and his somehow pressing the fifty
roubles into my hand: to this day I recall with a blush that I took
it.  Everything in the world always ends in meanness, and what was
worst of all, he somehow succeeded in almost proving to me that I
had unmistakably earned the money, and I was so stupid as to
believe it, and so it was absolutely impossible to avoid taking it.

"Cher, cher enfant!" he cried, kissing and embracing me (I must
admit I was on the point of tears myself, goodness knows why,
though I instantly restrained myself, and even now I blush as I
write it).  "My dear boy, you're like one of the family to me now;
in the course of this month you've won a warm place in my heart!
In 'society' you get 'society' and nothing else.  Katerina
Nikolaevna (that was his daughter's name) is a magnificent woman
and I'm proud of her, but she often, my dear boy, very often,
wounds me.  And as for these girls (elles sont charmantes) and
their mothers who come on my birthday, they merely bring their
embroidery and never know how to tell one anything.  I've
accumulated over sixty cushions embroidered by them, all dogs and
stags.  I like them very much, but with you I feel as if you were
my own--not son, but brother, and I particularly like it when you
argue against me; you're literary, you have read, you can be
enthusiastic. . . ."

"I have read nothing, and I'm not literary at all.  I used to read
what I came across, but I've read nothing for two years and I'm not
going to read."

"Why aren't you going to?"

"I have other objects."

"Cher . . . it's a pity if at the end of your life you say, like
me, 'Je sais tout, mais je ne sais rien de bon.'  I don't know in
the least what I have lived in this world for!  But . . . I'm so
much indebted to you . . . and I should like, in fact . . ."

He suddenly broke off, and with an air of fatigue sank into
brooding.  After any agitation (and he might be overcome by
agitation at any minute, goodness knows why) he generally seemed
for some time to lose his faculties and his power of self-control,
but he soon recovered, so that it really did not matter.  We sat
still for a few minutes.  His very full lower lip hung down . . .
what surprised me most of all was that he had suddenly spoken of
his daughter, and with such openness too.  I put it down, of
course, to his being upset.

"Cher enfant, you don't mind my addressing you so familiarly, do
you?" broke from him suddenly.

"Not in the least.  I must confess that at the very first I was
rather offended by it and felt inclined to address you in the same
way, but I saw it was stupid because you didn't speak like that to
humiliate me."

But he had forgotten his question and was no longer listening.

"Well, how's your FATHER?" he said, suddenly raising his eyes and
looking dreamily at me.

I winced.  In the first place he called Versilov my FATHER, which
he had never permitted himself to do before, and secondly, he began
of himself to speak of Versilov, which he had never done before.

"He sits at home without a penny and is very gloomy," I answered
briefly, though I was burning with curiosity.

"Yes, about money.  His lawsuit is being decided to-day, and I'm
expecting Prince Sergay as soon as he arrives.  He promised to come
straight from the court to me.  Their whole future turns on it.
It's a question of sixty or seventy thousand.  Of course, I've
always wished well to Andrey Petrovitch" (Versilov's name), "and I
believe he'll win the suit, and Prince Sergay has no case.  It's a
point of law."

"The case will be decided to-day?" I cried, amazed.  The thought
that Versilov had not deigned to tell me even that was a great
shook to me.  "Then he hasn't told my mother, perhaps not anyone,"
it suddenly struck me.  "What strength of will!"

"Then is Prince Sokolsky in Petersburg?" was another idea that
occurred to me immediately.

"He arrived yesterday.  He has come straight from Berlin expressly
for this day."

That too was an extremely important piece of news for me.  And he
would be here to-day, that man who had given HIM a slap in the

"Well, what then?"  The old prince's face suddenly changed again.
"He'll preach religion as before and . . . and . . . maybe run
after little girls, unfledged girls, again.  He-he!  There's a very
funny little story about that going about even now. . . .  He-he!"

"Who will preach?  Who will run after little girls?"

"Andrey Petrovitch!  Would you believe it, he used to pester us all
in those days.  'Where are we going?' he would say.  'What are we
thinking about?'  That was about it, anyway.  He frightened and
chastened us.  'If you're religious,' he'd say, 'why don't you
become a monk?'  That was about what he expected.  Mais quelle
idee!  If it's right, isn't it too severe?  He was particularly
fond of frightening me with the Day of Judgment--me of all people!"

"I've noticed nothing of all this, and I've been living with him a
month," I answered, listening with impatience.  I felt fearfully
vexed that he hadn't pulled himself together and was rambling on so

"It's only that he doesn't talk about that now, but, believe me, it
was so.  He's a clever man, and undoubtedly very learned; but is
his intellect quite sound?  All this happened to him after his
three years abroad.  And I must own he shocked me very much and
shocked every one.  Cher enfant, j'aime le bon Dieu. . . .  I
believe, I believe as much as I can, but I really was angry at the
time.  Supposing I did put on a frivolous manner, I did it on
purpose because I was annoyed--and besides, the basis of my
objection was as serious as it has been from the beginning of the
world.  'If there is a higher Being,' I said, 'and He has a
PERSONAL existence, and isn't some sort of diffused spirit for
creation, some sort of fluid (for that's even more difficult to
understand), where does He live?'  C'etait bete, no doubt, my dear
boy, but, you know, all the arguments come to that.  Un domicile is
an important thing.  He was awfully angry.  He had become a
Catholic out there."

"I've heard that too.  But it was probably nonsense."

"I assure you by everything that's sacred.  You've only to look at
him. . . .  But you say he's changed.  But in those days how he
used to worry us all!  Would you believe it, he used to behave as
though he were a saint and his relics were being displayed.  He
called us to account for our behaviour, I declare he did!  Relics!
En voila un autre!  It's all very well for a monk or a hermit, but
here was a man going about in a dress-coat and all the rest of it,
and then he sets up as a saint!  A strange inclination in a man in
good society, and a curious taste, I admit.  I say nothing about
that; no doubt all that's sacred, and anything may happen. . . .
Besides, this is all l'inconnu, but it's positively unseemly for a
man in good society.  If anything happened to me and the offer were
made me I swear I should refuse it.  I go and dine to-day at the
club and then suddenly make a miraculous appearance as a saint!
Why, I should be ridiculous.  I put all that to him at the
time. . . .  He used to wear chains."

I turned red with anger.

"Did you see the chains yourself?"

"I didn't see them myself but . . ."

"Then let me tell you that all that is false, a tissue of loathsome
fabrications, the calumny of enemies, that is, of one chief and
inhuman enemy--for he has only one enemy--your daughter!"

The old prince flared up in his turn.

"Mon cher, I beg and insist that from this time forth you never
couple with that revolting story the name of my daughter."

I stood up.  He was beside himself.  His chin was quivering.

"Cette histoire infame! . . . .  I did not believe it, I never
would believe it, but . . . they tell me, believe it, believe it,
I . . ."

At that instant a footman came in and announced visitors.  I
dropped into my chair again.


Two ladies came in.  They were both young and unmarried.  One was a
stepdaughter of a cousin of the old prince's deceased wife or
something of the sort, a protegee of his for whom he had already
set aside a dowry, and who (I mention it with a view to later
events) had money herself: the other was Anna Andreyevna Versilov,
the daughter of Versilov, three years older than I.  She lived with
her brother in the family of Mme. Fanariotov.  I had only seen her
once before in my life, for a minute in the street, though I had
had an encounter, also very brief, with her brother in Moscow.  (I
may very possibly refer to this encounter later--if I have space,
that is, for it is hardly worth recording.)  Anna Andreyevna had
been from childhood a special favourite of the old prince
(Versilov's acquaintance with the prince dated from very long ago).
I was so overcome by what had just happened that I did not even
stand up on their entrance, though the old prince rose to greet
them.  Afterwards I thought it would be humiliating to get up, and
I remained where I was.  What overwhelmed me most was the prince's
having shouted at me like that three minutes before, and I did not
know whether to go away or not.  But the old man, as usual, had
already forgotten everything, and was all pleasure and animation at
sight of the young ladies.  At the very moment of their entrance he
hurriedly whispered to me, with a rapid change of expression and a
mysterious wink:

"Look at Olympiada, watch her, watch her; I'll tell you why
after. . . ."

I did look at her rather carefully, but I saw nothing special about
her.  She was a plump, not very tall young lady, with exceedingly
red cheeks.  Her face was rather pleasing, of the sort that
materialists like.  She had an expression of kindness, perhaps, but
with a touch of something different.  She could not have been very
brilliant intellectually--that is, not in the higher sense--for one
could see cunning in her eyes.  She was not more than nineteen.  In
fact, there was nothing remarkable about her.  In our school we
should have called her a cushion.  (I only give this minute
description of her because it will be useful later on.)

Indeed, all I have written hitherto with, apparently, such
unnecessary detail is all leading up to what is coming and is
necessary for it.  It will all come in in its proper place; I
cannot avoid it; and if it is dull, pray don't read it.

Versilov's daughter was a very different person.  She was tall and
somewhat slim, with a long and strikingly pale face and splendid
black hair.  She had large dark eyes with an earnest expression, a
small mouth, and most crimson lips.  She was the first woman who
did not disgust me by her horrid way of walking.  She was thin and
slender, however.  Her expression was not altogether good-natured,
but was dignified.  She was twenty-two.  There was hardly a trace
of resemblance to Versilov in her features, and yet, by some
miracle, there was an extraordinary similarity of expression.  I do
not know whether she was pretty; that is a matter of taste.  They
were both very simple in their dress, so that it is not worth while
to describe it.  I expected to be at once insulted by some glance
or gesture of Mlle. Versilov, and I was prepared for it.  Her
brother had insulted me in Moscow the first time we ever met.  She
could hardly know me by sight, but no doubt she had heard I was in
attendance on the prince.  Whatever the prince did or proposed to
do at once aroused interest and was looked upon as an event in the
whole gang of his relations and expectant beneficiaries, and this
was especially so with his sudden partiality for me.  I knew for a
fact that the old prince was particularly solicitous for Anna
Andreyevna's welfare and was on the look-out for a husband for her.
But it was more difficult to find a suitor for Mlle. Versilov than
for the ladies who embroidered on canvas.

And, lo and behold! contrary to all my expectations, after shaking
hands with the prince and exchanging a few light, conventional
phrases with him, she looked at me with marked curiosity, and,
seeing that I too was looking at her, bowed to me with a smile.  It
is true that she had only just come into the room, and so might
naturally bow to anyone in it, but her smile was so friendly that
it was evidently premeditated; and, I remember, it gave me a
particularly pleasant feeling.

"And this . . . this is my dear young friend Arkady Andreyevitch
Dol . . ."  The prince faltered, noticing that she bowed to me
while I remained sitting--and he suddenly broke off; perhaps he was
confused at introducing me to her (that is, in reality, introducing
a brother to a sister).  The "cushion" bowed to me too; but I
suddenly leapt up with a clumsy scrape of my chair: it was a rush
of simulated pride, utterly senseless, all due to vanity.

"Excuse me, prince, I am not Arkady Andreyevitch but Arkady
Makarovitch!" I rapped out abruptly, utterly forgetting that I
ought to have bowed to the ladies.  Damnation take that unseemly

"Mais tiens!" cried the prince, tapping his forehead with his

"Where have you studied?" I heard the stupid question drawled by
the "cushion," who came straight up to me.

"In Moscow, at the grammar school."

"Ah! so I have heard.  Is the teaching good there?"

"Very good."

I remained standing and answered like a soldier reporting himself.

The young lady's questions were certainly not appropriate, but she
did succeed in smoothing over my stupid outbreak and relieving the
embarrassment of the prince, who was meanwhile listening with an
amused smile to something funny Mlle. Versilov was whispering in
his ear, evidently not about me.  But I wondered why this girl, who
was a complete stranger to me, should put herself out to smooth
over my stupid behaviour and all the rest of it.  At the same time,
it was impossible to imagine that she had addressed me quite
casually; it was obviously premeditated.  She looked at me with too
marked an interest; it was as though she wanted me, too, to notice
her as much as possible.  I pondered over all this later, and I was
not mistaken.

"What, surely not to-day?" the prince cried suddenly, jumping up
from his seat.

"Why, didn't you know?" Mlle. Versilov asked in surprise.
"Olympie! the prince didn't know that Katerina Nikolaevna would be
here to-day.  Why, it's to see her we've come.  We thought she'd
have arrived by the morning train and have been here long ago.  She
has just driven up to the steps; she's come straight from the
station, and she told us to come up and she would be here in a
minute. . . .  And here she is!"

The side-door opened and--THAT WOMAN WALKED IN!

I knew her face already from the wonderful portrait of her that
hung in the prince's study.  I had been scrutinizing the portrait
all that month.  I spent three minutes in the study in her
presence, and I did not take my eyes off her face for a second.
But if I had not known her portrait and had been asked, after those
three minutes, what she was like, I could not have answered, for
all was confusion within me.

I only remember from those three minutes the image of a really
beautiful woman, whom the prince was kissing and signing with the
cross, and who looked quickly at once--the very minute she came in--
at me.  I distinctly heard the prince muttering something, with a
little simper, about his new secretary and mentioning my name,
evidently pointing at me.  Her face seemed to contract; she threw a
vicious glance at me, and smiled so insolently that I took a sudden
step forward, went up to the prince, and muttered, trembling all
over and unable to finish my words (I believe my teeth were

"From this time I . . . I've business of my own. . . .  I'm going."

And I turned and went out.  No one said a word to me, not even the
prince; they all simply stared.  The old prince told me afterwards
that I turned so white that he "was simply frightened."

But there was no need.



Indeed there was no need: a higher consideration swallowed up all
petty feelings, and one powerful emotion made up to me for
everything.  I went out in a sort of ecstasy.  As I stepped into
the street I was ready to sing aloud.  To match my mood it was an
exquisite morning, sunshine, people out walking, noise, movement,
joyousness, and crowds.  Why, had not that woman insulted me?  From
whom would I have endured that look and that insolent smile without
instant protest however stupid it might be.  I did not mind about
that.  Note that she had come expressly to insult me as soon as she
could, although she had never seen me.  In her eyes I was an "envoy
from Versilov," and she was convinced at that time, and for long
afterwards, that Versilov held her fate in his hands and could ruin
her at once if he wanted to, by means of a certain document; she
suspected that, anyway.  It was a duel to the death.  And yet--I
was not offended!  It was an insult, but I did not feel it.  How
should I?  I was positively glad of it; though I had come here to
hate her I felt I was beginning to love her.

I don't know whether the spider perhaps does not hate the fly he
has marked and is snaring.  Dear little fly!  It seems to me that
the victim is loved, or at least may be loved.  Here I love my
enemy; I am delighted, for instance, that she is so beautiful.  I
am delighted, madam, that you are so haughty and majestic.  If you
were meeker it would not be so delightful.  You have spat on me--
and I am triumphant.  If you were literally to spit in my face I
should really not be angry because you--are my victim; MINE and not
HIS.  How fascinating was that idea!  Yes, the secret consciousness
of power is more insupportably delightful than open domination.  If
I were a millionaire I believe I should take pleasure in going
about in the oldest clothes and being taken for a destitute man,
almost a beggar, being jostled and despised.  The consciousness of
the truth would be enough for me.

That is how I should interpret my thoughts and happiness, and much
of what I was feeling that day.  I will only add that in what I
have just written there is too much levity; in reality my feeling
was deeper and more modest.  Perhaps even now I am more modest in
myself than in my words and deeds--God grant it may be so!

Perhaps I have done amiss in sitting down to write at all.
Infinitely more remains hidden within than comes out in words.
Your thought, even if it is an evil one, is always deeper while it
is in your mind; it becomes more absurd and dishonourable when it
is put into words.  Versilov once said to me that the opposite was
true only with horrid people, they simply tell lies, it is easy for
them; but I am trying to write the whole truth, and that's
fearfully difficult!


On that 19th of September I took one other "step."

For the first time since I arrived I had money in my pocket, for
the sixty roubles I had saved up in two years I had given to my
mother, as I mentioned before.  But, a few days before, I had
determined that on the day I received my salary I would make an
"experiment" of which I had long been dreaming.  The day before I
had cut out of the paper an address; it was an advertisement that
on the 19th of September at twelve o'clock in the morning, in such-
and-such a street, at number so-and-so, there would be a sale by
the local police authority of the effects of Mme. Lebrecht, and
that the catalogue, valuation, and property for sale could be
inspected on the day of the auction, and so on.

It was just past one.  I hurried to the address on foot.  I had not
taken a cab for more than two years--I had taken a vow not to (or I
should never have saved up my sixty roubles).  I had never been to
an auction, I had never ALLOWED myself this indulgence.  And though
my present step was only an EXPERIMENT yet I had made up my mind
not to take even that step till I had left the grammar school, when
I should break off with everything, hide myself in my shell, and
become perfectly free.  It is true that I was far from being in my
shell and far from being free yet, but then I was only taking this
step by way of an experiment--simply to look into it, as it were to
indulge a fancy, and after that not to recur to it perhaps for a
long while, till the time of beginning seriously.  For every one
else this was only a stupid little auction, but for me it was the
first plank in the ship in which a Columbus would set out to
discover his America.  That was my feeling then.

When I arrived I went into the furthest corner of the yard of the
house mentioned in the advertisement, and entered Mme. Lebrecht's
flat, which consisted of an entry and four small low-pitched rooms.
In the first room there was a crowd of about thirty persons, half
of them people who had come to bargain, while the rest, judging
from their appearance, were either inquisitive outsiders, or
connoisseurs, or representatives of Mme. Lebrecht.  There were
merchants and Jews gloating over the objects made of gold, and a
few people of the well-dressed class.  The very faces of some of
these gentlemen remain stamped in my memory.  In the doorway
leading to the room on the right there was placed a table so that
it was impossible to pass; on it lay the things catalogued for
sale.  There was another room on the left, but the door into it was
closed, though it was continually being opened a little way, and
some one could be seen peeping through the crack, no doubt some one
of the numerous family of Mme. Lebrecht, who must have been feeling
very much ashamed at the time.  At the table between the doors,
facing the public, sat the warrant officer, to judge by his badge,
presiding over the sale.  I found the auction half over; I squeezed
my way up to the table as soon as I went in.  Some bronze
candlesticks were being sold.  I began looking at the things.

I looked at the things and wondered what I could buy, and what I
could do with bronze candlesticks, and whether my object would be
attained, and how the thing would be done, and whether my project
would be successful, and whether my project were not childish.  All
this I wondered as I waited.  It was like the sensation one has at
the gambling table at the moment before one has put down a card,
though one has come to do so, feeling, "if I like I'll put it down,
if I don't I'll go away--I'm free to choose!"  One's heart does not
begin to throb at that point, but there is a faint thrill and
flutter in it--a sensation not without charm.  But indecision soon
begins to weigh painfully upon one: one's eyes grow dizzy, one
stretches out one's hand, picks up a card, but mechanically, almost
against one's will, as though some one else were directing one's
hand.  At last one has decided and thrown down the card--then the
feeling is quite different--immense.  I am not writing about the
auction; I am writing about myself; who else would feel his heart
throbbing at an auction?

Some were excited, some were waiting in silence, some had bought
things and were regretting it.  I felt no sympathy with a gentleman
who, misunderstanding what was said, bought an electro-plated milk-
jug in mistake for a silver one for five roubles instead of two; in
fact it amused me very much.  The warrant officer passed rapidly
from one class of objects to another: after the candlesticks,
displayed earrings, after earrings an embroidered leather cushion,
then a money-box--probably for the sake of variety, or to meet the
wishes of the purchasers.  I could not remain passive even for ten
minutes.  I went up to the cushion, and afterwards to the cash-box,
but at the critical moment my tongue failed me: these objects
seemed to me quite out of the question.  At last I saw an album in
the warrant officer's hand.

"A family album in real morocco, second-hand, with sketches in
water-colour and crayon, in a carved ivory case with silver clasps--
priced two roubles!"

I went up: it looked an elegant article, but the carving was
damaged in one place.  I was the only person who went up to look at
it, all were silent; there was no bidding for it.  I might have
undone the clasps and taken the album out of the case to look at
it, but I did not make use of my privilege, and only waved a
trembling hand as though to say "never mind."

"Two roubles, five kopecks," I said.  I believe my teeth were
chattering again.

The album was knocked down to me.  I at once took out the money,
paid for it, snatched up the album, and went into a corner of the
room.  There I took it out of its case, and began looking through
it with feverish haste--it was the most trumpery thing possible--a
little album of the size of a piece of notepaper, with rubbed gilt
edges, exactly like the albums girls used to keep in former days
when they left school.  There were crayon and colour sketches of
temples on mountain-sides, Cupids, a lake with floating swans;
there were verses:

          On a far journey I am starting,
          From Moscow I am departing,
          From my dear ones I am parting.
          And with post-horses flying South.

They are enshrined in my memory!

I made up my mind that I had made a mess of it; if there ever was
anything no one could possibly want it was this.

"Never mind," I decided, "one's bound to lose the first card; it's
a good omen, in fact."

I felt thoroughly light-hearted.

"Ach, I'm too late; is it yours?  You have bought it?"  I suddenly
heard beside me the voice of a well-dressed, presentable-looking
gentleman in a blue coat.  He had come in late.

"I am too late.  Ach, what a pity!  How much was it?"

"Two roubles, five kopecks."

"Ach, what a pity!  Would you give it up?"

"Come outside," I whispered to him, in a tremor.

We went out on the staircase.

"I'll let you have it for ten roubles," I said, feeling a shiver
run down my back.

"Ten roubles!  Upon my word!"

"As you like."

He stared at me open-eyed.  I was well dressed, not in the least
like a Jew or a second-hand dealer.

"Mercy on us--why it's a wretched old album, what use is it to
anyone?  The case isn't worth anything certainly.  You certainly
won't sell it to anyone."

"I see you will buy it."

"But that's for a special reason.  I only found out yesterday.  I'm
the only one who would.  Upon my word, what are you thinking

"I ought to have asked twenty-five roubles, but as there was, after
all, a risk you might draw back, I only asked for ten to make sure
of it.  I won't take a farthing less."

I turned and walked away.

"Well, take four roubles," he said, overtaking me in the yard,
"come, five!"

I strode on without speaking.

"Well, take it then!"

He took out ten roubles.  I gave him the album.

"But you must own it's not honest!  Two roubles--and then ten, eh?"

"Why not honest?  It's a question of market."

"What do you mean by market!"  He grew angry.

"When there's a demand one has a market--if you hadn't asked for it
I shouldn't have sold it for forty kopecks."

Though I was serious and didn't burst out laughing I was laughing
inwardly--not from delight--I don't know why myself, I was almost

"Listen," I muttered, utterly unable to restrain myself, but
speaking in a friendly way and feeling quite fond of him.  "Listen,
when as a young man the late James Rothschild, the Parisian one,
who left seventeen hundred million francs (he nodded), heard of the
murder of the Duc de Berri some hours before anybody else he sent
the news to the proper quarter, and by that one stroke in an
instant made several millions--that's how people get on!"

"So you're a Rothschild, are you?" he cried as though indignant
with me for being such a fool.

I walked quickly out of the house.  One step, and I had made seven
roubles ninety-five kopecks.  It was a senseless step, a piece of
child's play I admit, but it chimed in with my theories, and I
could not help being deeply stirred by it.  But it is no good
describing one's feelings.  My ten roubles were in my waistcoat
pocket, I thrust in two fingers to feel it--and walked along
without taking my hand out.  After walking a hundred yards along
the street I took the note out to look at it, I looked at it and
felt like kissing it.  A carriage rumbled up to the steps of a
house.  The house porter opened the door and a lady came out to get
into the carriage.  She was young, handsome and wealthy-looking,
gorgeously dressed in silk and velvet, with a train more than two
yards long.  Suddenly a pretty little portfolio dropped out of her
hand and fell on the ground; she got into the carriage.  The
footman stooped down to pick the thing up, but I flew up quickly,
picked it up and handed it to the lady, taking off my hat.  (The
hat was a silk one, I was suitably dressed for a young man.)  With
a very pleasant smile, though with an air of reserve, the lady said
to me:  "Merci, m'sieu!"  The carriage rolled away.  I kissed the
ten-rouble note.


That same day I was to go and see Efim Zvyerev, one of my old
schoolfellows at the grammar school, who had gone to a special
college in Petersburg.  He is not worth describing, and I was not
on particularly friendly terms with him; but I looked him up in
Petersburg.  He might (through various circumstances which again
are not worth relating) be able to give me the address of a man
called Kraft, whom it was very important for me to see as soon as
he returned from Vilna.  Efim was expecting him that day or the
next, as he had let me know two days before.  I had to go to the
Petersburg Side, but I did not feel tired.

I found Efim (who was also nineteen) in the yard of his aunt's
house, where he was staying for the time.  He had just had dinner
and was walking about the yard on stilts.  He told me at once that
Kraft had arrived the day before, and was staying at his old
lodgings close by, and that he was anxious to see me as soon as
possible, as he had something important to tell me.

"He's going off somewhere again," added Efim.

As in the present circumstances it was of great importance to see
Kraft I asked Efim to take me round at once to his lodging, which
it appeared was in a back street only a few steps away.  But Efim
told me that he had met him an hour ago and that he was on his way
to Dergatchev's.

"But come along to Dergatchev's.  Why do you always cry off?  Are
you afraid?"

Kraft might as a fact stay on at Dergatchev's, and in that case
where could I wait for him?  I was not afraid of going to
Dergatchev's, but I did not want to go to his house, though Efim
had tried to get me there three times already.  And on each
occasion had asked "Are you afraid?" with a very nasty smile at my
expense.  It was not a case of fear I must state at once; if I was
afraid it was of something quite different.  This time I made up my
mind to go.  Dergatchev's, too, was only a few steps away.  On the
way I asked Efim if he still meant to run away to America.

"Maybe I shall wait a bit," he answered with a faint smile.

I was not particularly fond of him; in fact I did not like him at
all.  He had fair hair, and a full face of an excessive fairness,
an almost unseemly childish fairness, yet he was taller than I was,
but he would never have been taken for more than seventeen.  I had
nothing to talk to him about.

"What's going on there?  Is there always a crowd?" I asked.

"But why are you always so frightened?" he laughed again.

"Go to hell!" I said, getting angry.

"There won't be a crowd at all.  Only friends come, and they're all
his own set.  Don't worry yourself."

"But what the devil is it to me whether they're his set or not!
I'm not one of his set.  How can they be sure of me?"

"I am bringing you and that's enough.  They've heard of you
already.  Kraft can answer for you, too."

"I say, will Vassin be there?"

"I don't know."

"If he is, give me a poke and point him out as soon as we go in.
As soon as we go in.  Do you hear?"

I had heard a good deal about Vassin already, and had long been
interested in him.

Dergatchev lived in a little lodge in the courtyard of a wooden
house belonging to a merchant's wife, but he occupied the whole of
it.  There were only three living rooms.  All the four windows had
the blinds drawn down.  He was a mechanical engineer, and did work
in Petersburg.  I had heard casually that he had got a good private
berth in the provinces, and that he was just going away to it.

As soon as we stepped into the tiny entry we heard voices.  There
seemed to be a heated argument and some one shouted:

"Quae medicamenta non sanant, ferrum sanat, quae ferrum non sanat--
ignis sanat!"

I certainly was in some uneasiness.  I was, of course, not
accustomed to society of any kind.  At school I had been on
familiar terms with my schoolfellows, but I was scarcely friends
with anyone; I made a little corner for myself and lived in it.
But this was not what disturbed me.  In any case I vowed not to let
myself be drawn into argument and to say nothing beyond what was
necessary, so that no one could draw any conclusions about me;
above all--to avoid argument.

In the room, which was really too small, there were seven men;
counting the ladies, ten persons.  Dergatchev was five-and-twenty,
and was married.  His wife had a sister and another female
relation, who lived with them.  The room was furnished after a
fashion, sufficiently though, and was even tidy.  There was a
lithographed portrait on the wall, but a very cheap one; in the
corner there was an ikon without a setting, but with a lamp burning
before it.

Dergatchev came up to me, shook hands and asked me to sit down.

"Sit down; they're all our own set here."

"You're very welcome," a rather nice-looking, modestly dressed
young woman added immediately, and making me a slight bow she at
once went out of the room.  This was his wife, and she, too, seemed
to have been taking part in the discussion, and went away to nurse
the baby.  But there were two other ladies left in the room; one
very short girl of about twenty, wearing a black dress, also rather
nice-looking, and the other a thin, keen-eyed lady of thirty.  They
sat listening eagerly, but not taking part in the conversation.
All the men were standing except Kraft, Vassin and me.  Efim
pointed them out to me at once, for I had never seen Kraft before,
either.  I got up and went up to make their acquaintance.  Kraft's
face I shall never forget.  There was no particular beauty about
it, but a positive excess of mildness and delicacy, though personal
dignity was conspicuous in everything about him.  He was twenty-
six, rather thin, above medium height, fair-haired, with an earnest
but soft face; there was a peculiar gentleness about his whole
personality.  And yet if I were asked I would not have changed my
own, possibly very commonplace, countenance for his, which struck
me as so attractive.  There was something in his face I should not
have cared to have in mine, too marked a calm (in a moral sense)
and something like a secret, unconscious pride.  But I probably
could not have actually formed this judgment at the time.  It seems
so to me now, in the light of later events.

"I'm very glad you've come," said Kraft.  "I have a letter which
concerns you.  We'll stay here a little and then go home."

Dergatchev was a strong, broad-shouldered, dark-complexioned man
of medium height, with a big beard.  His eyes showed acuteness,
habitual reserve, and a certain incessant watchfulness; though
he was for the most part silent, he evidently controlled the
conversation.  Vassin's face did not impress me much, though I had
heard of him as extraordinarily intelligent: he had fair hair,
large light grey eyes, and a very open face.  But at the same time
there was something, as it were, too hard in it; one had a
presentiment that he would not be communicative, but he looked
undeniably clever, cleverer than Dergatchev, of a more profound
intellect--cleverer than anyone in the room.  But perhaps I am
exaggerating.  Of the other young men I only recall two; one a
tall, dark man of twenty-seven, with black whiskers, who talked a
great deal, a teacher or something of the sort; the other was a
fellow of my own age, with good lines in his face, wearing a
Russian tunic without sleeves.  He was silent, and listened
attentively.  He turned out afterwards to be a peasant.

"No, that's not the way to put it," the black-whiskered teacher
began, obviously continuing the previous discussion.  He talked
more than anyone in the room.

"I'm not talking of mathematical proofs, but that idea which I am
prepared to believe without mathematical proof . . ."

"Wait a bit, Tihomirov," Dergatchev interrupted loudly, "the new-
comers don't understand.  You see," he suddenly addressed himself
to me alone (and I confess if he intended to put me as a novice
through an examination or to make me speak, it was adroitly done on
his part; I felt it and prepared myself) "it's all our friend
Kraft, who is well known to us all for his character and the
solidity of his convictions.  From a very ordinary fact he has
deduced a very extraordinary conviction that has surprised us all.
He has deduced that the Russians are a second-rate people . . ."

"Third-rate," shouted some one.

"A second-rate people destined to serve as the raw material for a
nobler race, and not to play an independent part in the history of
humanity.  In view of this theory of his, which is perhaps correct,
Kraft has come to the conclusion that the activity of every Russian
must in the future be paralysed by this idea, that all, so to
speak, will fold their hands and . . ."

"Excuse me, Dergatchev, that's not the way to put it," Tihomirov
interrupted impatiently again (Dergatchev at once gave way),
"considering that Kraft has made a serious study of the subject,
has made on a physiological basis deductions which he regards as
mathematically proved, and has spent perhaps two years on his idea
(which I should be prepared a priori to accept with equanimity),
considering all this, that is considering Kraft's excitement and
earnestness, the case must be considered as a phenomenon.  All this
leads up to a question which Kraft cannot understand, and that's
what we must attend to--I mean, Kraft's not understanding it, for
that's the phenomenon.  We must decide whether this phenomenon
belongs to the domain of pathology as a solitary instance, or
whether it is an occurrence which may be normally repeated in
others; that's what is of interest for the common cause.  I believe
Kraft about Russia, and I will even say that I am glad of it,
perhaps; if this idea were assimilated by all it would free many
from patriotic prejudice and untie their hands . . ."

"I am not influenced by patriotism," said Kraft, speaking with a
certain stiffness.  All this debate seemed distasteful to him.

"Whether patriotism or not we need not consider," observed Vassin,
who had been very silent.

"But how, tell me, please, could Kraft's deduction weaken the
impulse to the cause of humanity," shouted the teacher.  (He was
the only one shouting.  All the others spoke in a low voice.)  "Let
Russia be condemned to second-rateness, but we can still work and
not for Russia alone.  And, what's more, how can Kraft be a patriot
if he has ceased to believe in Russia?"

"Besides being a German," a voice interrupted again.

"I am a Russian," said Kraft.

"That's a question that has no direct bearing on the subject,"
observed Dergatchev to the speaker who had interrupted.

"Take a wider view of your idea," cried Tihomirov, heeding nothing.
"If Russia is only the material for nobler races why shouldn't she
serve as such material?  It's a sufficiently attractive part for
her to play.  Why not accept the idea calmly, considering how it
enlarges the task?  Humanity is on the eve of its regeneration,
which is already beginning.  None but the blind deny the task
before us.  Let Russia alone, if you've lost faith in her, and work
for the future, for the future unknown people that will be formed
of all humanity without distinction of race.  Russia would perish
some time, anyway; even the most gifted peoples exist for fifteen
hundred or at the most two thousand years.  Isn't it all the same
whether it's two thousand or two hundred?  The Romans did not last
fifteen hundred years as a vital force, they too have turned into
material.  They ceased to exist long ago, but they've left an idea,
and it has become an element in the future of mankind.  How can one
tell a man there's nothing to be done?  I can't conceive of a
position in which there ever could be nothing to do!  Work for
humanity and don't trouble about the rest.  There's so much to do
that life isn't long enough if you look into it more closely."

"One must live in harmony with the laws of nature and truth," Mme.
Dergatchev observed from the doorway.  The door was slightly ajar
and one could see that she was standing there, listening eagerly,
with the baby at her breast which was covered.

Kraft listened with a faint smile and brought out at last with a
somewhat harassed face, but with earnest sincerity:

"I don't understand how, if one is under the influence of some
over-mastering idea which completely dominates one's mind and one's
heart, one can live for something else which is outside that idea."

"But if it is logically, mathematically proved to you that your
deduction is erroneous--that your whole idea is erroneous, that you
have not the slightest right to exclude yourself from working for
the welfare of humanity simply because Russia is predestined to a
second-rate part, if it is pointed out to you, that in place of
your narrow horizon infinity lies open before you, that instead of
your narrow idea of patriotism . . ."

"Ah!" Kraft waved his hand gently, "I've told you there is no
question of patriotism."

"There is evidently a misunderstanding," Vassin interposed
suddenly, "the mistake arises from the fact that Kraft's conclusion
is not a mere logical theory but, so to say, a theory that has been
transmuted into a feeling.  All natures are not alike; in some men
a logical deduction is sometimes transmuted into a very powerful
emotion which takes possession of the whole being, and is sometimes
very difficult to dislodge or alter.  To cure such a man the
feeling itself must be changed, which is only possible by replacing
it by another, equally powerful one.  That's always difficult, and
in many cases impossible."

"That's a mistake," roared the argumentative teacher, "a logical
proof of itself will dissipate prejudices.  A rational conviction
will give rise to feeling, too.  Thought arises from feeling, and
dominating a man in its turn formulates new feeling."

"People are very different.  Some change their feelings readily,
while for others it's hard to do so," responded Vassin, as though
disinclined to continue the argument; but I was delighted by his

"That's perfectly true what you say," I said, turning to him, all
at once breaking the ice and suddenly beginning to speak; "that to
change a feeling one must replace it by another.  Four years ago a
general in Moscow . . . I didn't know him, you see, but . . .
Perhaps he couldn't have inspired respect of himself . . . And the
fact itself may seem irrational but . . . But he had lost a child,
that's to say two little girls who had died one after another of
scarlatina.  And he was utterly crushed, and did nothing but
grieve, so that one couldn't bear to go and look at him, and he
ended by dying scarcely six months later.  It's a fact that he died
of it!  What could have saved him?  The answer is--a feeling of
equal strength.  One would have had to dig those two little girls
out of the grave and give them back to him--that would have been
the only thing, I mean in that way.  And he died.  Yet one might
have presented him with excellent reflections: that life is
transitory, that all are mortal; one might have produced statistics
to show how many children do die of scarlatina . . . he was on the
retired list. . . ."

I stopped, out of breath, and looked round.

"That's nothing to do with it," said some one.

"The instance you have quoted, though it's not quite in the same
category, is very similar and illustrates the subject," said
Vassin, turning to me.


Here I must confess why I was so delighted with what Vassin had
said about the "idea transmuted into feeling," and at the same time
I must confess to a fiendish disgrace.  Yes, I was afraid to go to
Dergatchev's, though not for the reason Efim imagined.  I dreaded
going because I had been afraid of them even before I left Moscow.
I knew that they (or some of their sort, it's all the same) were
great in argument and would perhaps shatter "my idea."  I was
firmly resolved in myself that I wouldn't give away my idea or say
a word to them about it; but they (or again some of their sort)
might easily say something to me which would destroy my faith in my
"idea," even though I might not utter a syllable about it.  There
were questions connected with my "idea" which I had not settled,
but I did not want anyone to settle them but myself.  For the last
two years I had even given up reading for fear of meeting with some
passage opposed to my "idea" which might shake me.  And all at once
Vassin had solved the difficulty and reassured me on the most
essential point.  Alter all, what was I afraid of and what could
they do to me, whatever skill in argument they might have?  I
perhaps was the only one who understood what Vassin meant by "an
idea transformed into an emotion."  It's not enough to refute a
fine idea, one must replace it by something fine of equal strength;
or else, refusing absolutely to part with my feeling, in my heart I
should refute the refutation, however strong the argument might be,
whatever they might say.  And what could they give me in place of
it?  And therefore I might be braver, I was bound to be more manly.
While I was delighted with Vassin, I felt ashamed, and felt myself
an insignificant child.

Then there followed fresh ignominy.  It was not a contemptible
desire to show off my intelligence that made me break the ice and
speak, it was an impulse to "throw myself on his neck."  The
impulse to throw myself on people's necks that they might think
well of me and take me to their hearts or something of the sort
(pure beastliness, in fact) I look upon as the most abject of my
weaknesses, and I suspected it in myself long ago; in fact, when I
was in the corner in which I entrenched myself for so many years,
though I don't regret doing so, I knew I ought to behave in company
with more austerity.  What comforted me after every such
ignominious scene was that my "idea" was as great a secret as ever,
and that I hadn't given it away.  With a sinking at my heart I
sometimes imagined that when I did let out my idea to some one I
should suddenly have nothing left, that I should become like every
one else, and perhaps I should give up the idea; and so I was on my
guard and preserved it, and trembled at the thought of chattering.
And now at Dergatchev's, almost at the first contact with anyone, I
broke down.  I hadn't betrayed anything, of course, but I had
chattered unpardonably; it was ignominious.  It is a horrid thing
to remember!  No, I must not associate with people.  I think so
even now.  Forty years hence I will speak.  My idea demands a


As soon as Vassin expressed approval I felt irresistibly impelled
to talk.

"I consider that every one has a right to have his own feelings . . .
if they are from conviction . . . and that no one should reproach
him with them," I went on, addressing Vassin.  Though I spoke
boldly, it was as though I was not speaking, not my own tongue
moving in my mouth.

"Re-all-ly?" the same voice which had interrupted Dergatchev and
shouted at Kraft that he was a German interposed with an ironical
drawl.  Regarding the speaker as a complete nonentity, I addressed
the teacher as though he had called out to me.

"It's my conviction that I should not dare to judge anyone," I
said, quivering, and conscious that I was going to make a fool of

"Why so mysterious?" cried the voice of the nonentity again.

"Every man has his own idea," I went on, gazing persistently at the
teacher, who for his part held his tongue and looked at me with a

"Yours is?" cried the nonentity.

"Too long to describe. . . .  But part of my idea is that I
should be left alone.  As long as I've two roubles I want to be
independent of every one (don't excite yourself, I know the
objection that will be made) and to do nothing--not even to work
for that grand future of humanity which Mr. Kraft is invited to
work for.  Personal freedom, that is, my own, is the first thing,
and I don't care about anything else."

My mistake was that I lost my temper.

"In other words you advocate the tranquillity of the well-fed cow?"

"So be it.  Cows don't hurt anyone.  I owe no one anything.  I pay
society in the form of taxes that I may not be robbed, killed or
assaulted, and no one dare demand anything more.  I personally,
perhaps, may have other ideas, and if I want to serve humanity I
shall, and perhaps ten times as much as those who preach about it;
only I want no one to dare to demand it of me, to force me to it
like Mr. Kraft.  I must be perfectly free not to lift a finger if I
like.  But to rush and 'fall on everybody's neck' from love to
humanity, and dissolve in tears of emotion--is only a fashion.  And
why should I be bound to love my neighbour, or your future humanity
which I shall never see, which will never know anything about me,
and which will in its turn disappear and leave no trace (time
counts for nothing in this) when the earth in its turn will be
changed into an iceberg, and will fly off into the void with an
infinite multitude of other similar icebergs; it's the most
senseless thing one could possibly imagine.  That's your teaching.
Tell me why I am bound to be so noble, especially if it all lasts
only for a moment?"

"P-pooh!" cried a voice.

I had fired off all this with nervous exasperation, throwing off
all restraint.  I knew that I was making a fool of myself, but I
hurried on, afraid of being interrupted.  I felt that my words were
pouring out like water through a sieve, incoherently, nineteen to
the dozen, but I hurried on to convince them and get the better of
them.  It was a matter of such importance to me.  I had been
preparing for it for three years.  But it was remarkable that they
were all suddenly silent, they said absolutely nothing, every one
was listening.  I went on addressing my remarks to the teacher.

"That's just it.  A very clever man has said that nothing is more
difficult than to answer the question 'Why we must be honourable.'
You know there are three sorts of scoundrels in the world; naive
scoundrels, that is, convinced that their villany is the highest
virtue; scoundrels who are ashamed, that is, ashamed of their own
villany, though they fully intend to persevere with it; and lastly
simple scoundrels, pure-bred scoundrels.  For example I had a
schoolfellow called Lambert who told me at sixteen that when he
came into his fortune it would be his greatest satisfaction to feed
on meat and bread while the children of the poor were dying of
hunger; and when they had no fuel for their fires he would buy up a
whole woodstack, build it up in a field and set fire to it there,
and not give any of it to the poor.  Those were his feelings!  Tell
me, what am I to say to a pure-blooded scoundrel like that if he
asks me why he should be honourable?  Especially now in these times
which you have so transformed, for things have never been worse
than they are now.  Nothing is clear in our society.  You deny God,
you see, deny heroism.  What blind, deaf, dull-witted stagnation of
mind can force me to act in one way, if it's more to my advantage
to do the opposite?  You say 'a rational attitude to humanity is to
your own advantage, too'; but what if I think all these rational
considerations irrational, and dislike all these socialist barracks
and phalanxes?  What the devil do I care for them or for the future
when I shall only live once on earth!  Allow me to judge of my
advantage for myself; it's more amusing.  What does it matter to me
what will happen in a thousand years to your humanity if, on your
principles, I'm to get for it neither love, nor future life, nor
recognition of my heroism?  No, if that's how it is I'd rather live
in the most ignorant way for myself and let them all go to

"An excellent sentiment!"

"Though I'm always ready to go with them."

"That's one better!"--the same voice again.

The others still remained silent, they all scrutinized me, staring;
but little by little in different parts of the room there rose a
titter, subdued indeed, but they were all laughing at me to my
face.  Vassin and Kraft were the only ones not laughing, the
gentleman with the black whiskers was sniggering too; he sneered
at me persistently and listened.

"I'm not going to tell you my idea," I cried, quivering all over,
"nothing would induce me, but I ask you on the other hand, from
your point of view--don't imagine I'm speaking for myself, for I
dare say I love humanity a thousand times more than all of you put
together!  Tell me, and you must, you are bound now to answer
because you are laughing, tell me, what inducement do you hold out
to me to follow you?  Tell me, how do you prove to me that you'll
make things better?  How will you deal with my individual protest
in your barracks?  I have wanted to meet you, gentlemen, for ever
so long.  You will have barracks, communistic homes, stricte
necessaire, atheism, and communistic wives without children--that's
your ideal, I know all about it.  And for all this, for this little
part of mediocre advantage which your rational system guarantees
me, for a bit of bread and a warm corner you take away all my
personal liberty!  For instance; if my wife's carried off, are you
going to take away my personal liberty so that I mayn't bash my
rival's brains in?  You'll tell me I shall be more sensible then
myself, but what will the wife say to a husband so sensible, if she
has the slightest self-respect?  Why it's unnatural; you ought to
be ashamed!"

"You're a specialist on the woman question then?" the voice of the
nonentity pronounced malignantly.

For one instant I had an impulse to fly at him and pommel him with
my fists.  He was a short fellow with red hair and freckles though
what the devil does his appearance matter?

"Don't excite yourself.  I've never once had relations with a
woman," I rapped out, for the first time addressing him directly.

"A priceless avowal which might have been made more politely in the
presence of ladies."

But there was a general movement among them; they were all looking
for their hats and taking leave--not on my account, of course, but
simply because it was time to break up.  But I was crushed with
shame at the way they all ignored me.  I jumped up, too.

"Allow me to ask your name.  You kept looking at me," said the
teacher, coming up to me with a very nasty smile.


"Prince Dolgoruky?"

"No, simply Dolgoruky, legally the son of a former serf, Makar
Dolgoruky, but the illegitimate son of my former master, Monsieur
Versilov.  Don't make a mistake, gentlemen, I don't tell you this
to make you all fall upon my neck and begin howling like calves
from sentimentality."

There was a loud and unceremonious roar of laughter, so much so
that the baby, who was asleep in the next room, waked up and began
squealing.  I trembled with fury.  Every one shook hands with
Dergatchev and went out without taking the slightest notice of me.

"Come along," said Kraft, touching me.

I went up to Dergatchev, pressed his hand and shook it vigorously
several times.

"You must excuse Kudryumov's being so rude to you" (Kudryumov was
the red-haired man), said Dergatchev.

I followed Kraft out.  I was not in the least ashamed.


There is of course an immense difference between what I am now and
what I was then.

Still "not in the least ashamed" I overtook Vassin on the stairs,
leaving Kraft behind as of secondary importance, and with the most
natural air as though nothing had happened I asked:

"I believe you know my father, I mean Versilov."

"He's not exactly an acquaintance of mine," Vassin answered at once
(and without a trace of that insulting refinement of politeness
which delicate people adopt when they speak to people who have just
disgraced themselves), "but I do know him a little; I have met him
and I've heard him talk."

"If you've heard him no doubt you do know him, for you are you!
What do you think of him?  Forgive the abrupt question but I need
to know.  It's what YOU would think, just your opinion that I

"You are asking a great deal of me.  I believe that man is capable
of setting himself tremendous tasks and possibly carrying them
through--but without rendering an account of his doings to anyone."

"That's true, that's very true--he's a very proud man!  Is he a
sincere man?  Tell me, what do you think about his being a
Catholic?  But I forgot, perhaps you don't know?"

If I had not been so excited I should not, of course, have fired
off such questions so irrelevantly at a man of whom I had heard but
whom I had never seen before.  I was surprised that Vassin did not
seem to notice how rude I was.

"I heard something about it, but I don't know how far it may be
true," he answered in the same calm and even tone as before.

"Not a bit!  It's false!  Do you suppose he can believe in God?"

"He--is a very proud man, as you said just now, and many very proud
people like to believe in God, especially those who despise other
people.  Many strong natures seem to have a sort of natural craving
to find some one or something to which they can do homage.  Strong
natures often find it very difficult to bear the burden of their

"Do you know that must be awfully true," I cried again.  "Only I
should like to understand . . ."

"The reason is obvious.  They turn to God to avoid doing homage to
men, of course without recognizing how it comes about in them; to
do homage to God is not so humiliating.  They become the most
fervent of believers--or to be more accurate the most fervently
desirous of believing; but they take this desire for belief itself.
These are the people who most frequently become disillusioned in
the end.  As for Monsieur Versilov, I imagine that he has some
extremely sincere characteristics.  And altogether he interested

"Vassin!" I cried, "you rejoice my heart!  It's not your
intelligence I wonder at; I am astonished that you, a man of
such a lofty nature and so far above me, can walk with me and
talk to me as simply and courteously as though nothing had

Vassin smiled.

"You are too flattering, and all that has happened is that you have
shown a weakness for abstract conversation.  You have probably been
through a long period of silence."

"For three years I have been silent; for three years I have been
preparing to speak . . . You couldn't of course have thought me a
fool, you're so extraordinarily clever, though no one could have
behaved more stupidly; but you must have thought me a scoundrel."

"A scoundrel!"

"Yes, certainly!  Tell me, don't you secretly despise me for saying
I was Versilov's illegitimate son. . . .  Boasting I was the son of
a serf?"

"You worry yourself too much.  If you think you did wrong in saying
so you've only to avoid saying it again.  You have fifty years
before you."

"Oh, I know that I ought to be very silent with other people.  This
throwing oneself on people's necks is the lowest of all vices; I
told them so just now, and here I am doing it to you!  But there is
a difference, isn't there?  If you realize that difference, if you
are capable of realizing it, then I bless this moment!"

Vassin smiled again.

"Come and see me if you care to," he said.  "I have work now and am
busy, but I shall be pleased to see you."

"I thought from your face just now that you were too hard and

"That may very well be true.  I saw something of your sister
Lizaveta Makarovna at Luga, last year. . . .  Kraft has stopped
and I believe is waiting for you.  He has to turn here."

I pressed Vassin's hand warmly, and ran up to Kraft, who had walked
on ahead all the while I talked to Vassin.  We walked in silence to
his lodgings.  I could not speak to him and did not want to.  One
of the strongest traits in Kraft's character was delicacy.



Kraft had been somewhere in the service, and at the same time had
been a paid assistant of Andronikov's in the management of the
private business which the deceased gentleman had always carried on
in addition to his official duties.  What mattered to me was, that
from his close association with Andronikov, Kraft might well know a
great deal of what interested me.  But Marie Ivanovna, the wife of
Nikolay Semyonovitch, with whom I had boarded so many years while I
was at the grammar school in Moscow, was a favourite niece of
Andronikov and was brought up by him, and from her I learnt that
Kraft had actually been "commissioned" to give me something.  I had
been expecting him for a whole month.

He lived in a little flat of two rooms quite apart from the rest of
the house, and at the moment, having only just returned, he had no
servant.  His trunk stood open, not yet unpacked.  His belongings
lay about on the chairs, and were spread out on the table in front
of the sofa: his travelling bag, his cashbox, his revolver and so
on.  As we went in, Kraft seemed lost in thought, as though he had
altogether forgotten me.  He had perhaps not noticed that I had not
spoken to him on the way.  He began looking for something at once,
but happening to catch a glimpse of himself in the looking-glass he
stood still for a full minute gazing at his own face.  Though I
noticed this peculiar action, and recalled it all afterwards, I was
depressed and disturbed.  I was not feeling equal to concentrating
my mind.  For a moment I had a sudden impulse to go straight away
and to give it all up for ever.  And after all what did all these
things amount to in reality?  Was it not simply an unnecessary
worry I had taken upon myself?  I sank into despair at the thought
that I was wasting so much energy perhaps on worthless trifles from
mere sentimentality, while I had facing me a task that called for
all my powers.  And meanwhile my incapacity for any real work was
clearly obvious from what had happened at Dergatchev's.

"Kraft, shall you go to them again?" I asked him suddenly.

He turned slowly to me as though hardly understanding me.  I sat
down on a chair.

"Forgive them," said Kraft suddenly.

I fancied, of course, that this was a sneer, but looking
attentively at him, I saw such a strange and even wonderful
ingenuousness in his face that I positively wondered at his asking
me so earnestly to "forgive" them.  He brought up a chair and sat
down beside me.

"I know that I am perhaps a medley of all sorts of vanities and
nothing more," I began, "but I'm not apologizing."

"And you've no need to apologize to anyone," he said, quietly and
earnestly.  He talked all the time quietly and very slowly.

"I may be guilty in my own eyes. . . .  I like being guilty in my
own eyes. . . .  Kraft, forgive me for talking nonsense.  Tell me,
surely you don't belong to that circle?  That's what I wanted to

"They are no sillier than other people and no wiser; they are mad
like every one else. . . ."

"Why, is every one mad?" I asked, turning towards him with
involuntary curiosity.

"All the best people are mad nowadays; it's the carnival of
mediocrity and ineptitude and nothing else. . . .  But it's not
worth talking about."

As he talked he looked away into the air and began sentences and
broke off without finishing them.  I was particularly struck by a
note of despondency in his voice.

"Surely Vassin is not one of them, Vassin has a mind, Vassin has a
moral idea!" I cried.

"There are no moral ideas now.  It suddenly appears that there is
not one left and, what's worse, that there never have been any."

"Never have been any in the past?"

"Let us leave that!" he brought out with unmistakable weariness.

I was touched by his sorrowful earnestness.  Ashamed of my own
egoism I began to drop into his tone.

"The present day," he began after a pause lasting two minutes,
looking away into space, "the present day is the golden age of
mediocrity and callousness, of a passion for ignorance, idleness,
inefficiency, a craving for everything ready-made.  No one thinks;
it's rare for anyone to work out an idea for himself."

He broke off again and paused for a while; I listened.  "Nowadays
they are stripping Russia of her forests, and exhausting her
natural wealth, turning the country into a waste and making it only
fit for the Kalmucks.  If a man looks forward and plants a tree
every one laughs at him, and tells him he won't live to enjoy it.
On the other hand those with aspirations discuss nothing but what
will be in a thousand years.  The idea that sustained men has
utterly gone.  It's as though they were all at an hotel and were
leaving Russia to-morrow.  They are alive if they could only. . . ."

"Excuse me, Kraft, you said they worried their heads about what
would happen in a thousand years.  But you despair about the future
of Russia . . . isn't that an anxiety of the same sort?"

"It--it's the most essential question in the world!" he said
irritably, and jumped up quickly from his seat.

"Ah, yes!  I forgot," he said suddenly in quite a different voice,
looking at me in perplexity.  "I asked you to come for something
special and meanwhile . . . for heaven's sake excuse me."

He seemed suddenly to wake up from a sort of dream, and was almost
disconcerted; he took a letter out of a portfolio on the table and
gave it to me.

"This is what I have to give you.  It's a document of some
importance," he began, speaking collectedly and with a businesslike
air.  Long afterwards, when I recalled it, I was struck by this
faculty in him (at an hour such as this was--for him!) of turning
such wholehearted attention on another person's affairs and going
into them with such firmness and composure.

"It is a letter of Stolbyeev's, that is of the man whose will gave
rise to Versilov's lawsuit with the Princes Sokolsky.  The case is
just being decided in the court, and will certainly be decided in
Versilov's favour; the law is on his side.  Meanwhile, in this
letter, a private letter written two years ago, the deceased sets
forth his real dispositions, or more accurately his desires, and
expresses them rather in favour of the Sokolskys than of Versilov.
At any rate the points on which the Sokolskys rest their case in
contesting the will are materially strengthened by this letter.
Versilov's opponents would give a great deal for this letter,
though it really has no positive legal value.  Alexey Nikanoritch
(Andronikov), who managed Versilov's affairs, kept this letter and
not long before his death gave it to me, telling me to 'take care
of it'; perhaps he had a presentiment that he was dying and was
anxious about his papers.  I was unwilling to judge of Alexey
Nikanoritch's intentions in the case, and I must confess that at
his death I found myself in disagreeable uncertainty what to do
with this document, especially as the case was so soon to be
concluded.  But Marie Ivanovna, in whom Alexey Nikanoritch seems to
have put great confidence in his lifetime, helped me out of the
difficulty.  She wrote to me three weeks ago telling me that I was
to give the letter to you, as this would, she BELIEVED (her own
expression) be in accordance with the wishes of the deceased, and I
am very glad that I can at last give it to you."

"Tell me," I said, dumbfoundered at this new and unexpected
information, "what am I to do with this letter now?  How am I to

"That's for you to decide."

"Impossible; my hands are tied, you must admit that!  Versilov is
so reckoning on this fortune . . . and, you know, he'll be utterly
lost without it; and it suddenly appears that a document like this

"It only exists here in this room."

"Is that really so?"  I looked at him attentively.

"If you can't decide how to act in this case, what can I advise

"But I can't give it to the Sokolskys either.  I should ruin all
Versilov's hopes, and be a traitor to him besides. . . .  On the
other hand if I give it to Versilov I plunge the innocent into
poverty, and I should put Versilov in a hopeless dilemma too; he
would either have to give up the fortune or become a thief."

"You exaggerate the importance of the matter."

"Tell me one thing: is this letter decisive, conclusive?"

"No, it isn't.  I'm not much of a lawyer.  A lawyer on the other
side would, no doubt, know how to make use of such a document and
to turn it to account; but Alexey Nikanoritch considered positively
that if this letter were put forward it would have no great legal
value, so that Versilov's case might be won all the same.  This
letter is more a matter of conscience, so to say. . . ."

"But that's what matters most of all," I interrupted, "just because
it would put Versilov in a hopeless dilemma."

"He may on the contrary destroy the document, and so escape all

"Have you any grounds for supposing such a thing of him, Kraft?
That's what I want to know; that's why I'm here."

"I believe every one would do the same in his place."

"Would you behave so, yourself?"

"I'm not going to receive a fortune, so I can't tell about myself."

"Very well," I said, putting the letter in my pocket.  "The
matter's settled for the present.  Listen, Kraft.  Marie Ivanovna,
who has, I assure you, told me a great deal, said to me that you
and only you could tell me the truth of what happened at Ems a year
and a half ago between Versilov and Mme. Ahmakov.  I've been
looking forward to seeing you as a sun that would throw light on
everything.  You don't know my position, Kraft.  I beseech you to
tell me the whole truth.  What I want to know is what kind of man
He is, and now--now I need to know it more than ever."

"I wonder Marie Ivanovna did not tell you all about it herself; she
might have heard it all from Andronikov, and of course she has
heard it and very likely knows more than I do."

"Andronikov was not clear about it himself, so Marie Ivanovna told
me.  It seems a maze to which no one has the clue.  The devil
himself would be lost in it.  I know that you were at Ems yourself
at the time."

"I never knew the whole of it, but what I do know I will willingly
tell you if you like, though I doubt whether I shall satisfy you."


I won't reproduce his story word for word, but will only give a
brief summary of it.

A year and a half before, Versilov (through the old prince) became
a constant visitor at the Ahmakovs' (they were all abroad then, at
Ems) and made a great impression on the general himself, a man who
had during three years of marriage squandered all his wife's large
dowry over cards, and as a result of his irregular life had already
had a paralytic stroke, though he was not an old man.  He had
recovered from it before going abroad, and was staying at Ems for
the sake of his daughter by his first wife.  She was a girl of
seventeen, in delicate health--consumptive--and said to be
extremely beautiful, but at the same time very fantastical.  She
had no dowry; but they rested their hopes, as usual, on the old
prince.  Mme. Ahmakov was said to be a good stepmother, but the
girl, for some reason, became particularly attached to Versilov.
He was preaching at that time "something impassioned," as Kraft
expressed it, some sort of new life; "was in a state of religious
fervour of the most exalted kind," in the strange and perhaps
ironical phrase of Andronikov, which was repeated to me.  But it
was noticeable that they all soon began to dislike him.  The
general was positively afraid of him.  Kraft did not altogether
deny the rumour that Versilov succeeded in instilling into the
invalid husband's mind the suspicion that his wife, Katerina
Nikolaevna, was not indifferent to the young Prince Sokolsky (who
had left Ems and was at that time in Paris).  He did this not
directly, but "after his usual fashion"--by hints, inferences, and
all sorts of roundabout ways, "at which he is a great master," said
Kraft.  I may say that Kraft considered him, and preferred to
consider him, altogether rather as an impostor and an inveterate
intriguer than as a man genuinely possessed by some exalted, or at
least original, idea.  I knew, apart from Kraft, that Versilov, who
had at first had an extraordinary influence on Katerina Nikolaevna,
had by degrees come to an open rupture with her.  What lay behind
all this I could not find out from Kraft, but every one confirmed
the story of the mutual hatred that had sprung up between them
after their friendship.  Then came a strange circumstance: Katerina
Nikolaevna's invalid stepdaughter apparently fell in love with
Versilov, or was struck by something in him, or was inflamed by his
eloquence or I don't know what; but it is known that at one time
Versilov spent almost every day at her side.  It ended by the young
lady's suddenly announcing to her father that she wanted to marry
Versilov.  That this actually had happened was confirmed by every
one--by Kraft, by Andronikov, and by Marie Ivanovna, and even
Tatyana Pavlovna once spoke about it before me.  They asserted also
that Versilov not only desired it himself but positively insisted
on a marriage with this girl, and that these two creatures of such
different species, one old and the other young, were in complete
agreement about it.  But the father was alarmed at the idea.  As he
became more estranged from Katerina Nikolaevna, whom he had been
very fond of, he now began almost to idolize his daughter,
especially after his stroke.  But the bitterest opposition to the
idea of such a marriage came from Katerina Nikolaevna.  There
followed a great number of secret and extremely unpleasant family
wrangles, disputes, mortifying and in fact revolting scenes.  At
last the father began to give way before the persistence of the
love-sick girl who was, as Kraft expressed it, "fanaticized" by
Versilov.  But Katerina Nikolaevna still resisted it with
implacable hatred.  And it is at this stage that the muddle begins
which no one can understand.  But this was Kraft's conjecture based
on the facts--only a conjecture, however.

He thought Versilov had succeeded, IN HIS CHARACTERISTIC WAY, in
subtly suggesting to the young person that the reason Katerina
Nikolaevna would not agree was that she was in love with him
herself, and had been for a long time past worrying him with her
jealousy, pursuing him and intriguing; that she had declared her
feeling to him and was now ready to horsewhip him for loving some
one else: something of that sort, anyway.  Worst of all, that he
had "hinted" this to the girl's father, the husband of the
"unfaithful" wife, explaining that the prince had only been a
passing amusement.  The house, of course, began to be a perfect
hell.  In some versions of the story Katerina Nikolaevna was
devoted to her stepdaughter and now was in despair at being
calumniated to her, to say nothing of her relations with her
invalid husband.  And, what is more, there existed another version,
which, to my grief, I found Kraft fully believed, and therefore I
believed myself (of all this I had heard already). It was
maintained (Andronikov, it was said, had heard it from Katerina
Nikolaevna herself) that, on the contrary, Versilov had in the
past, before his feeling for the girl, made love to Katerina
Nikolaevna; that though she had been his friend and had been for a
time carried away by his religious exaltation, yet she had
constantly opposed and mistrusted him, and that she had met
Versilov's declaration with deep resentment and had ridiculed him
vindictively; that she had formally dismissed him for having openly
suggested that she should become his wife as her husband was
expected to have a second attack very shortly.  On this theory
Katerina Nikolaevna must have felt a peculiar hatred for Versilov
when she saw him afterwards so openly trying to win her
stepdaughter's hand.  Marie Ivanovna, who told me all this in
Moscow, believed in both versions--both together, that is; she
maintained that there was nothing inconsistent in all this, that it
was something in the style of la haine dans l'amour, of the wounded
pride of love on both sides, etc. etc.--something, in fact, like a
very subtle, intricate romance, quite out of keeping with any
serious and common-sense man and, moreover, with an element of
nastiness in it.  But Marie Ivanovna, in spite of her estimable
character, had been from childhood upwards saturated with
sentiment, from the novels which she read day and night.  The
sequel exhibited Versilov's evident baseness, his lying and
intriguing, something dark and loathsome in him, the more so as the
affair had a tragic ending.  The poor infatuated girl poisoned
herself, they say, by means of phosphorus matches, though even now
I don't know whether to believe that last detail.  They did their
utmost to hush it up, anyway.  The young lady was ill for a
fortnight and then died.  So the matches remained an open question,
but Kraft firmly believed in them.  Shortly afterwards the young
lady's father died too--it was said from his grief, which brought
on a second stroke, though this did not occur till three months
later.  But after the young lady's funeral the young Prince
Sokolsky, who had returned to Ems from Paris, gave Versilov a slap
in the face in a public garden, and the latter had not replied with
a challenge but had, on the contrary, showed himself next day on
the promenade as though nothing had happened.  Then every one
turned against him, in Petersburg as well.  Though Versilov kept up
with some acquaintances, they were quite in a different circle.
All his aristocratic friends blamed him, though, as a fact,
scarcely anyone knew the details; they only knew something of the
young lady's romantic death and the slap in the face.  Only two or
three persons knew the story fully, so far as that was possible.
The one who had known most of all was the deceased, Andronikov, who
had for many years had business relations with the Ahmakovs, and
had had to do with Katerina Nikolaevna particularly in one case.
But he kept all these secrets even from his own family and had only
told part of the story to Kraft and Marie Ivanovna, and that from

"The chief point is that there is a document in existence,"
concluded Kraft, "which Mme. Ahmakov is very much afraid of."

And this was what he told me about that.  When the old prince,
Katerina Nikolaevna's father, was abroad, beginning to recover from
his attack, she was so indiscreet as to write to Andronikov in dead
secret (Katerina Nikolaevna put implicit faith in him) an extremely
compromising letter.  During his convalescence the old prince
actually did, it was said, display a propensity to waste his money--
almost to fling it away, in fact; he began buying, when he was
abroad, quite useless but expensive objects, pictures, vases,
making donations and subscriptions of large sums to various
institutions out there, and goodness knows what.  He almost bought,
on the sly, for an immense sum, a ruined and encumbered estate from
a fashionable Russian spendthrift; and, finally, began even
dreaming of matrimony.  And in view of all this, Katerina
Nikolaevna, who had never left her father's side during his
illness, wrote to Andronikov, as a "lawyer" and "an old friend,"
inquiring whether "it would be legally possible to put the old
prince under guardianship or to declare him incompetent to manage
his own affairs, and, if so, how it could best be done without
scandal, that no one might blame her and that her father's feelings
might be spared, etc. etc." It was said that Andronikov advised her
against this and dissuaded her; and later on, when the old prince
had completely recovered, it was impossible to return to the idea:
but the letter remained in Andronikov's hands.  And now he had
died, and Katerina Nikolaevna had at once remembered the letter: if
it turned up among the deceased's papers and fell into the old
prince's hands, he would, no doubt, have cast her off for ever, cut
her out of his will and not have given her another farthing during
his lifetime.  The thought that his own daughter did not believe in
his sanity, and even wanted to have him certified as a lunatic
would change the lamb into a wild beast.  Her husband's gambling
habits had left her at his death without a farthing, and she had
only her father to look to.  She fully hoped to receive from him a
second dowry as ample as the first.

Kraft did not quite know what had become of the letter, but
observed that Andronikov never tore up papers of consequence, and
he was, besides, a man of "broad principles" as well as "broad
intelligence." (I was positively surprised at the independence of
Kraft's criticism of Andronikov, whom he had loved and respected so
much.)  But Kraft felt convinced that Versilov had obtained
possession of the compromising document through his close relations
with Andronikov's widow and daughters; it was known, indeed, that
they had at once, of necessity, handed over all the deceased's
papers to Versilov.  He knew, too, that Katerina Nikolaevna was
already aware that the letter was in Versilov's possession and that
she was frightened on account of it, imagining that Versilov would
take the letter straight to her old father; that on her return from
abroad she had searched for the document in Petersburg, had been at
the Andronikovs', and was still hunting for it now, so that she
must still have some hope that the letter was not in Versilov's
hands; and, finally, that she had gone to Moscow simply with the
same object, and had entreated Marie Ivanovna to look for it among
the papers that had remained with her.  She had only recently,
since her return to Petersburg, heard of the existence of Marie
Ivanovna, and of the footing on which the latter had stood with

"You don't think she found it at Marie Ivanovna's?" I asked.  "I
have my own ideas."

"If Marie Ivanovna has not told even you about it, probably she
hasn't got it."

"Then you suppose the document is in Versilov's hands?"

"Most likely it is.  I don't know, though.  Anything is possible,"
he answered with evident weariness.

I gave up questioning him, and indeed there was no object in doing
so.  All that mattered most had been made clear to me, in spite of
all this sordid tangle; all that I feared most was confirmed.

"It's all like a delirious nightmare," I said, deeply dejected, as
I took up my hat.

"Is the man so dear to you?" asked Kraft.  I read his deep sympathy
on his face at that minute.

"I felt I shouldn't learn the whole story from you," said I.  "Mme.
Ahmakov is the only hope left me.  I was resting my hopes on her.
Perhaps I shall go to her and perhaps not."

Kraft looked at me with some surprise.

"Good-bye, Kraft," I said.  "Why force oneself on people who don't
want to see one?  Isn't it better to break with everything, eh?"

"And what then?" he asked almost sullenly, keeping his eyes on the

"Retreat within oneself! Break with everything and withdraw within

"To America?"

"To America! Within oneself, simply within oneself!  That's my
whole idea, Kraft!" I said enthusiastically.

He looked at me with some curiosity.

"Have you such a place 'within yourself'?"

"Yes.  Good-bye, Kraft; thank you.  I am sorry to have troubled
you.  If I were in your place and had that sort of Russia in my
head I'd send them all to hell; I'd say:  'Get out with you; keep
your fretting and intriguing to yourselves--it's nothing to do with

"Stay a little longer," he said suddenly when he was already with
me at the front door.

I was a little surprised.  I went back and sat down again.  Kraft
sat opposite.  We looked at each other with a sort of smile.  I can
see it all now.  I remember that I felt a sort of wonder at him.

"What I like in you is that you're so--courteous," I said suddenly.


"I feel that, because I don't often succeed in being courteous
myself, though I should like to.  And yet perhaps it's better for
people to be rude to one; at least they save one from the
misfortune of liking them."

"What hour of the day do you like best?" he asked, evidently not
listening to me.

"What hour?  I don't know.  I don't like sunset."

"No?" he brought out with a peculiar curiosity.

"Are you going away again?"

"Yes.  I'm going away."



"Surely you don't want a revolver to get to Vilna?" I asked,
without the faintest hidden meaning in my words--and indeed there
was no meaning at all! I asked the question simply because I
happened to glance at the revolver and I was at a loss for
something to say.

He turned and looked intently at the revolver.

"No, I take it simply from habit."

"If I had a revolver I should keep it hidden somewhere, locked up.
It really is a temptation, you know.  I may not believe in an
epidemic of suicide, but if it's always catching my eye, there
really are moments, you know, when it might tempt one."

"Don't talk about it," he said, and suddenly got up from his chair.

"I wasn't thinking of myself," I said, standing up too.  "I'm not
going to use it.  If you were to give me three lives it wouldn't be
enough for me."

"Long life to you," broke from him.

He gave me an absent-minded smile and, strange to say, walked
straight into the passage as though to show me out, probably not
noticing what he was doing.

"I wish you every sort of success, Kraft," I said, as I went out on
to the stairs.

"That's as it may be," he answered firmly.

"Till we meet again."

"That's as it may be, too."

I remember his last glance at me.


And this was the man for whom my heart had been beating all those
years!  And what had I expected from Kraft, what new information?

As I came away from Kraft's I felt very hungry.  It was evening and
I had had no dinner.  I went to a little restaurant in Great
Prospect that I might not have to spend more than twenty, or at
most twenty-five, kopecks--I would not have allowed myself to spend
more at that time.  I took some soup for myself, and as I ate it I
sat looking out of window.  There were a great many people in the
room, and there was a smell of burnt meat, restaurant napkins, and
tobacco.  It was nasty.  Over my head a dumb nightingale, gloomy
and pensive, was pecking at the bottom of its cage.  There was a
noise in the adjoining billiard-room, but I sat there and sank into
deep thought.  The setting sun (why was Kraft surprised at my not
liking the sunset?) aroused in me a new and unexpected sensation
quite out of keeping with my surroundings.  I was haunted by the
soft look in my mother's eyes, her dear eyes which had been
watching me so timidly the whole month.  Of late I had been very
rude at home, to her especially.  I had a desire to be rude to
Versilov, but not daring, in my contemptible way tormented her
instead.  I had thoroughly frightened her, in fact; often she
looked at me with such imploring eyes when Andrey Petrovitch came
in, afraid of some outburst on my part.  It was a very strange
thing that, sitting here in the restaurant, I realized for the
first time that, while Versilov spoke to me familiarly, she always
addressed me deferentially.  I had wondered at it before and had
not been impressed in her favour by it, but now I realized it
particularly, and strange ideas passed one after another through my
brain.  I sat there a long time, till it got quite dark.  I thought
about my sister too.

It was a fateful moment for me.  At all costs I must decide.  Could
I be incapable of decision?  What is the difficulty of breaking
with them if they don't want me either?  My mother and sister?  But
I should not leave them, anyway, however things turned out.

It is true that the entrance of that man into my life, though only
for an instant in my early childhood, was the turning-point from
which my conscious development began.  Had he not met me then, my
mind, my way of thinking, my fate, would certainly have been
different, even in spite of the character ordained me by destiny,
which I could not anyway have escaped.

But it turned out that this man was only a dream, the dream of my
childhood.  I had invented him myself, and in reality he was a
different man who fell far below my imagination.  I had come to
find a genuine man, not a man like this.  And why had I fallen in
love with him once and for ever in that brief moment when I saw him
as a child?  That "for ever" must vanish.  Some time, if I have
space for it, I will describe that meeting, the most futile
incident leading up to nothing.  But I had built it up into a
pyramid.  I had begun building that pyramid as I lay in my little
bed, when, falling asleep, I could dream and weep--what for I
cannot tell.  Because I had been abandoned?  Because I was
tormented?  But I was only tormented a little, and only for two
years at Touchard's, the school into which he thrust me before
leaving me for ever.  Afterwards no one tormented me; quite the
contrary; I looked scornfully at my schoolfellows.  And I can't
endure the self-pity of the forlorn.  There is no role more
revolting than that of the orphan, the illegitimate, the outcast
and all such wretched creatures, for whom I never feel any pity
when they solemnly parade before the public and begin piteously but
insistently whining of how they have been treated.  I could beat
them all!  Will none of the filthy, conventional herd understand
that it would be ten times as creditable to hold their tongues, not
to whine and not to DEIGN to complain!  And if he does deign he
deserves his fate, the bastard.  That's my view!

But what is absurd is not that I used to dream of him in my little
bed but that, almost forgetting my chief object, I have come here
for the sake of him, of that "imagined" man.  I have come to help
him to stamp out a calumny, to crush his enemies.  The document of
which Kraft had spoken, that woman's letter to Andronikov about
which she was so afraid, which might ruin her and reduce her to
poverty, which she supposed to be in Versilov's hands, was not in
his possession but in mine, sewn up in my coat pocket!  I had sewn
it there myself, and no one in the whole world knew of it.  The
fact that the romantic Marie Ivanovna, in whose keeping the letter
was left "to be preserved," thought fit to give it to me and to no
one else was only her own idea and a matter for her to decide,
which I am not called upon to explain, though I may discuss it
later if it seems appropriate.  But, armed with this unexpected
weapon, I could not help yielding to the temptation to come to
Petersburg.  Of course, I proposed to assist this man secretly
without display or excitement, without expecting his praise or his
embraces.  And never, never would I condescend to reproach him for
anything.  And indeed, was it his fault that I had fallen in love
with him and had created a fantastic ideal of him?  Though, indeed,
I did not perhaps love him at all!  His original mind, his
interesting character, his intrigues and adventures, and what my
mother had been to him--all that, it seemed could not keep me.  It
was enough that my fantastic doll was shattered, and that I could
not, perhaps, love him any more.  And so what was keeping me? why
was I sticking there?--that was the question.  The upshot of it all
was that only I was a fool, no one else.

But, expecting honesty from others, I will be honest myself.  I
must confess that the letter sewn up in my pocket did not only
arouse in me the passionate desire to rush to Versilov's aid.  Now
it is quite clear to me, and even then I thought of it with a
blush.  I had visions of a woman--a proud, aristocratic creature--
whom I should meet face to face.  She would laugh at me, despise
me, as though I were a mouse; she would not even suspect that her
future was in my power.  This idea intoxicated me even in Moscow,
and still more in the train on the way; I have confessed this
already.  Yes, I hated that woman, but already I loved her as my
victim; and all this was true, all this was real.  But this was
childishness which I should not have expected even from anyone like
me.  I am describing my feelings then, that is, what passed through
my mind as I sat in the restaurant under the nightingale and made
up my mind to break with them for ever.  The memory of my recent
meeting with that woman sent a rush of colour to my face.  An
ignominious meeting!  An ignominious and stupid impression, and--
what mattered most--it showed my incapacity for action.  It proved--
I thought then--that I was not strong enough to withstand the
stupidest lure, though I told Kraft myself just now that I had my
place "within myself," and work of my own, and that if I had three
lives they wouldn't be enough for me.  I said that proudly.  My
having abandoned my idea and mixed myself up with Versilov's
affairs was to some extent excusable, but that I should run from
side to side like a frightened hare and be drawn into every trifle--
that, of course, was simply my own folly.  What induced me to go
to Dergatchev's and to burst out with my imbecilities, though I
knew long ago that I am incapable of saying anything cleverly or
sensibly, that it is always better for me to be silent?  And some
Vassin or other reassures me with the reflection that I've fifty
years of life ahead of me and so I've no need to worry.  It was a
good reply, I admit, and did credit to his unmistakable
intelligence; it was good because it was the simplest, and what is
simplest is never understood till the last, when everything that is
cleverer or stupider has been tried already.  But I knew that
answer before Vassin; I'd had an inkling of that thought more than
three years ago; what's more, my "idea" was to some extent included
in it.  Such were my reflections in the restaurant.

I felt disgusted as I made my way towards Semyonovsky Polk at eight
o'clock in the evening, worn out with walking and with thinking.
It was quite dark by then and the weather had changed; it was dry,
but a horrid Petersburg wind had sprung up, blowing keenly and
malignantly on my back and whirling up the dust and sand.  How many
sullen faces of poor people hurrying home to their corners from
work and trade!  Every one had his own sullen anxiety in his face,
and there was perhaps not one common uniting thought in the crowd!
Kraft was right; every one was different.  I met a little boy, so
little that it was strange he could be out alone in the street at
that hour; he seemed to have lost his way.  A peasant-woman stopped
for a minute to listen to him, but, not understanding what he said,
waved her hand and went on, leaving him alone in the darkness.  I
was going towards him, but he suddenly took fright and ran away.

As I approached the house I made up my mind that I should never go
and see Vassin.  I had an intense longing as I went up the stairs
to find them at home alone, without Versilov, that I might have
time before he came in to say something nice to my mother or to my
dear sister, to whom I had scarcely said anything particular all
that month.  It so happened that he was not at home.


By the way, as I am bringing on to the scene this "new character"
(I am speaking of Versilov), I will introduce briefly a formal
account of him, though it is of no significance.  I do this to make
things more comprehensible for the reader, and because I can't
foresee where this account could fit in in the later part of my

He studied at the university but went into a cavalry regiment of
the guards.  He married Mlle. Fanariotov and retired from the army.
He went abroad, and on his return lived a life of worldly gaiety in
Moscow.  On his wife's death he spent some time in the country;
then came the episode with my mother.  Then he lived for a long
time somewhere in the south.  During the war with Europe he served
in the army but did not reach the Crimea and was never in action.
At the conclusion of the war he left the service and went abroad.
He took my mother with him, though he left her at Konigsberg.  The
poor woman used sometimes, shaking her head, to tell with a sort of
horror how she had spent six months there with her little girl, not
knowing the language, absolutely friendless, and in the end
penniless, as though she were lost in a forest.  Then Tatyana
Pavlovna came to fetch her and took her back to some place in the
Novgorod Province.  Then, on the emancipation of the serfs,
Versilov became one of the first "mediators," and is said to have
performed his duties admirably; but he soon gave this up, and in
Petersburg was occupied with the conduct of various private
lawsuits.  Andronikov always had a high opinion of his capacity; he
had a great respect for him, and only said he did not understand
his character.  Then Versilov gave that up too, and went abroad
again--this time for a long period, several years.  Then came his
close intimacy with old Prince Sokolsky.  During this period his
financial position underwent two or three radical changes.  At one
time he fell into complete poverty, then grew wealthy and rose

Having brought my story to this point, I am determined to describe
my "idea" too.  For the first time since its conception I will
translate it into words.  I am determined to reveal it, so to
speak, to the reader, partly for the sake of greater clearness in
what I have to explain further.  And it is not only confusing for
the reader; even I, the author, am beginning to get muddled by the
difficulty of explaining each step without explaining what led up
to it and induced me to take it.  By keeping up this "attitude of
silence" I have clumsily descended to one of those "literary
graces" which I have ridiculed above.  Before entering upon my
Petersburg romance with all my ignominious adventures in it, I find
this preface is necessary.  But I was not tempted to silence for
the sake of literary "grace" but was forced to it by the nature of
the case, that is, the difficulty of the case; even now, when it is
all over, I find it very difficult to put this idea into words.
Besides, I must describe it in its aspect at that time, that is,
the form it took and the way I looked at it, not now, but then, and
that is a fresh difficulty.  To describe some things is almost
impossible.  The ideas that are the simplest and the clearest are
the most difficult to understand.  If before the discovery of
America Columbus had begun telling his idea to other people, I am
convinced that for a very long time people would not have
understood him.  And indeed they did not understand him.  I don't
mean to compare myself with Columbus, and if anyone imagines that I
do he ought to be ashamed of himself, that's all.



My "idea" is--to become a Rothschild.  I invite the reader to keep
calm and not to excite himself.

I repeat it.  My "idea" is to become a Rothschild, to become as
rich as Rothschild, not simply rich, but as rich as Rothschild.
What objects I have in view, what for, and why--all that shall come
later.  First I will simply show that the attainment of my object
is a mathematical certainty.

It is a very simple matter; the whole secret lies in two words:

"We have heard that; it's nothing new," people will tell me.  Every
"vater," in Germany repeats this to his children, and meanwhile
your Rothschild (James Rothschild the Parisian, is the one I mean)
is unique while there are millions of such "vaters."

I should answer:

"You assert that you've heard it, but you've heard nothing.  It's
true that you're right about one thing.  When I said that this was
'very simple,' I forgot to add that it is most difficult.  All the
religions and the moralities of the world amount to one thing:
'Love virtue and avoid vice.'  One would think nothing could be
simpler.  But just try doing something virtuous and giving up any
one of your vices; just try it.  It's the same with this.

"That's why your innumerable German 'vaters' may, for ages past
reckoning, have repeated those two wonderful words which contain
the whole secret, and, meanwhile, Rothschild remains unique.  It
shows it's the same but not the same, and these 'vaters' don't
repeat the same idea.

"No doubt they too have heard of obstinacy and perseverance, but to
attain my object what I need is not these German 'vaters' '
obstinacy or these 'vaters' ' perseverance."

"The mere fact that he is a 'vater'--I don't mean only the
Germans--that he has a family, that he is living like other people,
has expenses like other people, has obligations like other people,
means that he can't become a Rothschild, but must remain an average
man.  I understand quite clearly that in becoming a Rothschild, or
merely desiring to become one, not in the German 'vaters'' way but
seriously, I must at the same time cut myself off from society."

Some years ago I read in the newspaper that on one of the steamers
on the Volga there died a beggar who went about begging in rags and
was known to every one.  On his death they found sewn up in his
shirt three thousand roubles in notes.  The other day I read of
another beggar of the "respectable" sort, who used to go about the
restaurants holding out his hand.  He was arrested and there was
found on him five thousand roubles.  Two conclusions follow
directly from this.  The first, that OBSTINACY in saving even the
smallest coin will produce enormous results in the long run (time
is of no account in this), and secondly that the most unskilful
form of accumulation if only PERSEVERING is mathematically certain
of success.

Meanwhile there are perhaps a good number of respectable, clever,
obstinate people who cannot save either three or five thousand,
however much they struggle, though they would be awfully glad to
have such a sum.  Why is that?  The answer is clear: it is because
not one of them, in spite of all their wishing it, DESIRES it to
such a degree that, for instance, if he is not able to save by
other means, he is ready to become a beggar, and so persistent that
after becoming a beggar, he will not waste the first farthing he is
given on an extra crust of bread for himself or his family.  With
this system of saving, that is in beggary, one must live on bread
and salt and nothing more, to save up such sums; at least, so I
imagine.  That is no doubt what the two beggars I have mentioned
above did do; they must have eaten nothing but bread and have lived
almost in the open air.  There is no doubt that they had no
intention of becoming Rothschilds; they were simply Harpagons or
Ilyushkins in their purest form, nothing more; but, when there is
intelligent accumulation in quite a different form with the object
of becoming a Rothschild, no less strength of will is needed than
in the case of those two beggars.  The German "vater" does not show
such strength of will.  There are many kinds of strength in the
world, especially of strength of will and of desire.  There is the
temperature of boiling water and there is the temperature of molten

One wants here the same thing as in a monastery, the same heroic
asceticism.  Feeling is wanted, not only idea.  What for?  Why?  Is
it moral and not monstrous to wear sackcloth and eat black bread
all one's life to heap up filthy lucre?  These questions I will
consider later.  Now I am discussing only the possibility of
attaining the object.  When I thought of my "idea" and it was
forged in white heat, I began asking myself--am I capable of
asceticism?  With this object, for the whole of the first month I
took bread and water, not more than two and a half pounds of black
bread a day.  To do this I was obliged to deceive Nikolay
Semyonovitch who was clever, and Marie Ivanovna who was anxious for
my welfare.  Though I wounded her and somewhat surprised Nikolay
Semyonovitch who was a man of great delicacy, I insisted on having
my dinner brought to my room.  There I simply got rid of it.  I
poured the soup out of window on to the nettles or elsewhere, the
meat I either flung out of window to a dog, or wrapping it up in
paper put it in my pocket and threw it away after, and so on.  As
the bread given me for dinner was much less than two and a half
pounds I bought bread on the sly.  I stood this for a month
perhaps, only upsetting my stomach a little, but the next month I
added soup to the bread and drank a glass of tea morning and
evening, and I assure you I passed a year like that in perfect
health and content, as well as in a moral ecstasy and perpetual
secret delight.  Far from regretting the dainties I missed, I was
overjoyed.  At the end of the year, having convinced myself I was
capable of standing any fast, however severe, I began eating as
they did, and went back to dine with them.  Not satisfied with this
experiment I made a second; apart from the sum paid to Nikolay
Semyonovitch for my board I was allowed five roubles a month for
pocket money.  I resolved to spend only half.  This was a very
great trial, but after at most two years I had in my pocket by the
time I went to Petersburg seventy roubles saved entirely in this
way, besides other money.  The result of these two experiments was
of vast importance to me: I had learnt positively that I could so
will a thing as to attain my objects, and that I repeat is the
essence of "my idea"--the rest is all nonsense.


Let us, however, look into the nonsense too.

I have described my two experiments.  In Petersburg, as the reader
knows, I made a third.  I went to the auction and at one stroke
made a profit of seven roubles ninety-five kopecks.  This of course
was not a real experiment, it was only by way of sport and
diversion.  I simply wanted to filch a moment from the future, and
to test how I should go and behave.  I had decided even at the very
first, in Moscow, to put off really beginning till I was perfectly
free.  I fully realized that I must, for instance, finish my work
at school.  (The university, as the reader knows already, I
sacrificed.)  There is no disputing that I went to Petersburg with
concealed anger in my heart.  No sooner had I left the grammar
school and become free for the first time, than I suddenly saw that
Versilov's affairs would distract me from beginning my enterprise
for an indefinite period.  But though I was angry I went to
Petersburg feeling perfectly serene about my object.

It is true I knew nothing of practical life; but I had been
thinking about it for three years and could have no doubt about it.
I had pictured a thousand times over how I should begin.  I should
suddenly find myself, as though dropped from the clouds, in one of
our two capitals (I pitched on Petersburg or Moscow for my
beginning, and by choice Petersburg, to which I gave the preference
through certain considerations), perfectly free, not dependent on
anyone, in good health, and with a hundred roubles hidden in my
pocket, as the capital for my first investment.  Without a hundred
roubles it would be impossible to begin, as, without it, even the
earliest period of success would be too remote.  Apart from my
hundred roubles I should have, as the reader knows already,
courage, obstinacy, perseverance, absolute isolation and secrecy.
Isolation was the principal thing.  I greatly disliked the idea of
any connection or association with others until the last moment.
Speaking generally I proposed beginning my enterprise alone, that
was a sine qua non.  People weigh upon me, and with them I should
have been uneasy, and uneasiness would have hindered my success.
Generally speaking, all my life up to now, in all my dreams of how
I would behave with people, I always imagined myself being very
clever; it was very different in reality--I was always very stupid;
and I confess sincerely, with indignation, I always gave myself
away and was flustered, and so I resolved to cut people off
altogether.  I should gain by it independence, tranquillity of mind
and clearness of motive.

In spite of the terrible prices in Petersburg I determined once for
all that I should never spend more than fifteen kopecks on food,
and I knew I should keep my word.  This question of food I had
thought over minutely for a long time past.  I resolved, for
instance, sometimes to eat nothing but bread and salt for two days
together, and to spend on the third day what I had saved on those
two days.  I fancied that this would be better for my health than a
perpetual uniform fast on a minimum of fifteen kopecks.  Then I
needed a corner, literally a "corner," solely to sleep the night in
and to have a refuge in very bad weather.  I proposed living in the
street, and, if necessary, I was ready to sleep in one of the night
refuges where they give you a piece of bread and a glass of tea as
well as a night's lodging.  Oh, I should be quite capable of hiding
my money so that it should not be stolen in the "corner," or in the
refuge, and should not even be suspected, I'll answer for that!

"Steal from me?  Why, I'm afraid of stealing myself!"  I once heard
a passer-by in the street say gaily.  Of course I only apply to
myself the caution and smartness of it, I don't intend to steal.
What is more, while I was in Moscow, perhaps from the very first
day of my "idea," I resolved that I would not be a pawnbroker or
usurer either; there are Jews for that job, and such Russians as
have neither intelligence nor character.  Pawnbroking and usury are
for the commonplace.

As for clothes, I resolved to have two suits, one for every day and
one for best.  When once I had got them I felt sure I should wear
them a long time.  I purposely trained myself to wear a suit for
two and a half years, and in fact I discovered a secret: for
clothes always to look new and not to get shabby they should be
brushed as often as possible, five or six times a day.  Brushing
does not hurt the cloth.  I speak from knowledge.  What does hurt
it is dust and dirt.  Dust is the same thing as stones if you look
at it through the microscope, and, however hard a brush is, it is
almost the same as fur.  I trained myself to wear my boots evenly.
The secret lies in putting down the whole sole at once, and
avoiding treading on the side.  One can train oneself to this in a
fortnight, after that the habit is unconscious.  In this way boots
last on an average a third as long again.  That is the experience
of two years.

Then followed my activity itself.

I started with the hypothesis that I had a hundred roubles.  In
Petersburg there are so many auction sales, petty hucksters' booths
and people who want things, that it would be impossible not to sell
anything one bought for a little more.  Over the album I had made
seven roubles ninety-five kopecks profit on two roubles five
kopecks of capital invested.  This immense profit was made without
any risk: I could see from his eyes that the purchaser would not
back out.  Of course I know quite well that this was only a chance;
but it is just such chances I am on the look-out for, that is why I
have made up my mind to live in the street.  Well, granted that
such a chance is unusual, no matter; my first principle will be to
risk nothing, and the second to make every day more than the
minimum spent on my subsistence, that the process of accumulation
may not be interrupted for a single day.

I shall be told that "all this is a dream, you don't know the
streets, and you'll be taken in at the first step."  But I have
will and character, and the science of the streets is a science
like any other: persistence, attention and capacity can conquer it.
In the grammar school right up to the seventh form I was one of the
first; I was very good at mathematics.  Why, can one possibly
exaggerate the value of experience and knowledge of the streets to
such a fantastic pitch as to predict my failure for certain?  That
is only what people say who have never made an experiment in
anything, have never begun any sort of life, but have grown stiff
in second-hand stagnation.  "One man breaks his nose, so another
must break his."  No, I won't break mine.  I have character and if
I pay attention I can learn anything.  But is it possible to
imagine that with constant persistence, with incessant vigilance,
and continual calculation and reflection, with perpetual activity
and alertness one could fail to find out how to make twenty kopecks
to spare every day?  Above all I resolved not to struggle for the
maximum profit, but always to keep calm.  As time went on after
heaping up one or two thousand I should, of course, naturally rise
above second-hand dealing and street trading.  I know, of course,
far too little as yet about the stock exchange, about shares,
banking and all that sort of thing.  But to make up for that I
know, as I know I have five fingers on my hand, that I should learn
all the stock exchange and banking business as well as anyone else,
and that the subject would turn out to be perfectly simple, because
one is brought to it by practice.  What need is there of the wisdom
of Solomon so long as one has character; efficiency, skill and
knowledge come of themselves.  If only one does not leave off

The great thing is to avoid risks, and that can only be done if one
has character.  Not long ago in Petersburg I had before me a
subscription list of shares in some railway investments; those who
succeeded in getting shares made a lot of money.  For some time the
shares went up and up.  Well, if one day some one who had not
succeeded in getting a share, or was greedy for more, had offered
to buy mine at a premium of so much per cent., I should certainly
have sold it.  People would have laughed at me, of course, and have
said that if I had waited I should have made ten times as much.
Quite so, but my premium is safer, for it's a bird in the hand
while yours is on the bush.  I shall be told that one can't make
much like that; excuse me, that's your mistake, the mistake of all
our Kokorevs, Polyakovs, and Gubonins.  Let me tell you the truth;
perseverance and persistence in money making and still more in
saving is much more effective than these cent. per cent. profits.

Not long before the French Revolution there was a man called Law in
Paris who invented of himself a scheme what was theoretically
magnificent but which came utterly to grief in practice afterwards.
All Paris was in excitement.  Law's shares were bought up at once
before allotment.  Money from all parts of Paris poured as from a
sack into the house where the shares were subscribed.  But the
house was not enough at last, the public thronged the street,
people of all callings, all classes, all ages: bourgeois, noblemen,
their children, countesses, marquises, prostitutes, were all
struggling in one infuriated, half-crazy, rabid mob.  Rank, the
prejudices of birth and pride, even honour and good name were all
trampled in the same mire; all, even women, were ready to sacrifice
anyone to gain a few shares.  The list at last was passed down into
the streets, but there was nothing to write on.  Then it was
suggested to a hunchback that he should lend his back for the time
as a table on which people could sign their names for shares.  The
hunchback agreed--one can fancy at what a price.  Some time (a very
short time) after, they were all bankrupt, the whole thing went
smash, the whole idea was exploded and the shares were worth
nothing.  Who got the best of it?  Why, the hunchback, because he
did not take shares but louis-d'or in cash.  Well, I am that
hunchback!  I had strength of will enough not to eat, and to save
seventy-two roubles out of my kopecks; I shall have strength enough
to restrain myself and prefer a safe profit to a large one, even
when every one around me is carried away by a fever of excitement.
I am trivial only about trifles, not in what is important.  I have
often lacked fortitude for enduring little things ever since the
inception of my idea, but for enduring big things I shall always
have enough.  When in the morning my mother gave me cold coffee
before I set out to work, I was angry and rude to her, and yet I
was the same person who had lived a whole month on bread and water.

In short not to make money, not to learn how to make money, would
be unnatural.  It would be unnatural, too, in spite of incessant
and regular saving, unflagging care and mental sobriety, self-
control, economy, and growing energy--it would be unnatural, I
repeat, to fail to become a millionaire.  How did the beggar make
his money if not by fanatical determination and perseverance?  Am I
inferior to a beggar?  "And after all, supposing I don't arrive at
anything, suppose my calculation is incorrect, suppose I fall and
come to grief; no matter, I shall go on, I shall go on, because I
want to."  That is what I said in Moscow.

I shall be told that there is no "idea" in this, absolutely nothing
new.  But I say, and for the last time, that there are an immense
number of ideas in it, and a vast amount that is new.

Oh, I foresaw how trivial all objections would be, and that I
should be as trivial myself in expounding my "idea": why, what have
I said after all?  I haven't told a hundredth part of it.  I feel
that it is trivial, superficial, crude, and, somehow, too young for
my age.


I've still to answer the questions, "What for?" and "Why?"  Whether
it's moral," and all the rest of it.  I've undertaken to answer

I am sad at disappointing the reader straight off, sad and glad
too.  Let him know that in my idea there is absolutely no feeling
of "revenge," nothing "Byronic"--no curses, no lamentations over my
orphaned state, no tears over my illegitimacy, nothing, nothing of
the sort.  In fact, if a romantic lady should chance to come across
my autobiography she would certainly turn up her nose.  The whole
object of my "idea" is--isolation.  But one can arrive at isolation
without straining to become a Rothschild.  What has Rothschild got
to do with it?

Why, this.  That besides isolation I want power.

Let me tell the reader, he will perhaps be horrified at the candour
of my confession, and in the simplicity of his heart will wonder
how the author could help blushing: but my answer is that I'm not
writing for publication, and I may not have a reader for ten years,
and by that time everything will be so thoroughly past, settled and
defined that there will be no need to blush.  And so, if I
sometimes in my autobiography appeal to my reader it is simply a
form of expression.  My reader is an imaginary figure.

No, it was not being illegitimate, with which I was so taunted at
Touchard's, not my sorrowful childhood, it was not revenge, nor the
desire to protest, that was at the bottom of my idea; my character
alone was responsible for everything.  At twelve years old, I
believe, that is almost at the dawn of real consciousness, I began
to dislike my fellow-creatures.  It was not that I disliked them
exactly, but that their presence weighed upon me.  I was sometimes
in my moments of purest sincerity quite sad that I never could
express everything even to my nearest and dearest, that is, I could
but will not; for some reason I restrain myself, so that I'm
mistrustful, sullen and reserved.  Again, I have noticed one
characteristic in myself almost from childhood, that I am too ready
to find fault, and given to blaming others.  But this impulse was
often followed at once by another which was very irksome to me: I
would ask myself whether it were not my fault rather than theirs.
And how often I blamed myself for nothing!  To avoid such doubts I
naturally sought solitude.  Besides, I found nothing in the company
of others, however much I tried, and I did try.  All the boys of my
own age anyway, all my schoolfellows, all, every one of them,
turned out to be inferior to me in their ideas.  I don't recall one
single exception.

Yes, I am a gloomy person; I'm always shutting myself up.  I often
love to walk out of a room full of people.  I may perhaps do people
a kindness, but often I cannot see the slightest reason for doing
them a kindness.  People are not such splendid creatures that they
are worth taking much trouble about.  Why can't they approach me
openly and directly, why must I always be forced to make the first

That is the question I asked myself.  I am a grateful creature, and
have shown it by a hundred imbecilities.  If some one were frank
with me, I should instantly respond with frankness and begin to
love them at once.  And so I have done, but they have all deceived
me promptly, and have withdrawn from me with a sneer.  The most
candid of them all was Lambert, who beat me so much as a child, but
he was only an open brute and scoundrel.  And even his openness was
only stupidity.  Such was my state of mind when I came to

When I came out from Dergatchev's (and goodness only knows what
made me go to him) I had gone up to Vassin, and in a rush of
enthusiasm I had begun singing his praises.  And that very evening
I felt that I liked him much less.  Why?  Just because by my praise
of him I had demeaned myself before him.  Yet one might have
thought it would have been the other way: a man just and generous
enough to give another his due, even to his own detriment, ought to
stand higher in personal dignity than anyone.  And though I quite
understood this, I did like Vassin less, much less in fact.  I
purposely choose an example with which the reader is familiar.  I
even thought of Kraft with a bitter, sickly feeling, because he had
led me into the passage, and this feeling lasted till the day when
Kraft's state of mind at the time was revealed, and it was
impossible to be angry with him.  From the time when I was in the
lowest class in the grammar-school, as soon as any of my comrades
excelled me in school work, or witty answers or physical strength,
I immediately gave up talking or having anything to do with them.
Not that I disliked them or wished them not to succeed; I simply
turned away from them because such was my character.

Yes, I thirsted for power, I've thirsted for it all my life, power
and solitude.  I dreamed of it at an age when every one would have
laughed at me to my face if they could have guessed what was in my
head.  That was why I so liked secrecy.  And indeed all my energy
went into dreams, so much so that I had no time to talk.  This led
to my being unsociable, and my absentmindedness led people to more
unpleasant conclusions about me, but my rosy cheeks belied their

I was particularly happy when, covering myself up in bed at night,
I began in complete solitude, with no stir or sound of other people
round me, to re-create life on a different plan.  I was most
desperately dreamy up to the time of the "idea," when all my dreams
became rational instead of foolish, and passed from the fantastic
realms of romance to the reasonable world of reality.

Everything was concentrated into one object.  Not that they were so
very stupid before, although there were masses and masses of them.
But I had favourites . . . there is no need to bring them in here,

Power!  I am convinced that very many people would think it very
funny if they knew that such a "pitiful" creature was struggling
for power.  But I shall surprise them even more: perhaps from my
very first dreams that is, almost from my earliest childhood, I
could never imagine myself except in the foremost place, always and
in every situation in life.  I will add a strange confession: it is
the same perhaps to this day.  At the same time, let me observe
that I am not apologizing for it.

That is the point of my idea, that is the force of it, that money
is the one means by which the humblest nonentity may rise to the
FOREMOST PLACE.  I may not be a nonentity, but I know from the
looking-glass that my exterior does not do me justice, for my face
is commonplace.  But if I were as rich as Rothschild, who would
find fault with my face?  And wouldn't thousands of women be ready
to fly to me with all their charms if I whistled to them?  I am
sure that they would honestly consider me good-looking.  Suppose I
am clever.  But were I as wise as Solomon some one would be found
wiser still, and I should be done for.  But if I were a Rothschild
what would that wise man be beside me?  Why, they would not let him
say a word beside me!  I may be witty, but with Talleyrand or Piron
I'm thrown into the shade; but if I were Rothschild, where would
Piron be, and where Talleyrand even, perhaps?  Money is, of course,
despotic power, and at the same time it is the greatest leveller,
and that is its chief power.  Money levels all inequality.  I
settled all that in Moscow.

You will see, of course, in this idea nothing but insolence,
violence, the triumph of the nonentity over the talented.  I admit
that it is an impudent idea (and for that reason a sweet one).  But
let it pass: you imagine that I desire power to be able to crush,
to avenge myself.  That is just the point, that that is how the
commonplace would behave.  What is more, I'm convinced that
thousands of the wise and talented who are so exalted, if the
Rothschilds' millions suddenly fell to their lot could not resist
behaving like the most vulgar and commonplace, and would be more
oppressive than any.  My idea is quite different.  I'm not afraid
of money.  It won't crush me and it won't make me crush others.

What I want isn't money, or rather money is not necessary to me,
nor power either.  I only want what is obtained by power, and
cannot be obtained without it; that is, the calm and solitary
consciousness of strength!  That is the fullest definition of
liberty for which the whole world is struggling!  Liberty!  At last
I have written that grand word. . . .  Yes, the solitary
consciousness of strength is splendid and alluring.  I have
strength and I am serene.  With the thunderbolts in his hands Jove
is serene; are his thunders often heard?  The fool fancies that he
is asleep.  But put a literary man or a peasant-woman in Jove's
place, and the thunder would never cease!

If I only have power, I argued, I should have no need to use it.  I
assure you that of my own free will I should take the lowest seat
everywhere.  If I were a Rothschild, I would go about in an old
overcoat with an umbrella.  What should I care if I were jostled in
the crowd, if I had to skip through the mud to avoid being run
over?  The consciousness that I was myself, a Rothschild, would
even amuse me at the moment.  I should know I could have a dinner
better than anyone, that I could have the best cook in the world,
it would be enough for me to know it.  I would eat a piece of bread
and ham and be satisfied with the consciousness of it.  I think so
even now.

I shouldn't run after the aristocracy, but they would run after me.
I shouldn't pursue women, but they would fly to me like the wind,
offering me all that women can offer.  "The vulgar" run after
money, but the intelligent are attracted by curiosity to the
strange, proud and reserved being, indifferent to everything.  I
would be kind, and would give them money perhaps, but I would take
nothing from them.  Curiosity arouses passion, perhaps I may
inspire passion.  They will take nothing away with them I assure
you, except perhaps presents that will make me twice as interesting
to them.

          . . . to me enough
                The consciousness of this.

It is strange, but true, that I have been fascinated by this
picture since I was seventeen.

I don't want to oppress or torment anyone and I won't, but I know
that if I did want to ruin some man, some enemy of mine, no one
could prevent me, and every one would serve me, and that would be
enough again.  I would not revenge myself on anyone.  I could never
understand how James Rothschild could consent to become a Baron!
Why, for what reason, when he was already more exalted than anyone
in the world.  "Oh, let that insolent general insult me at the
station where we are both waiting for our horses!  If he knew who I
was he would run himself to harness the horses and would hasten to
assist me into my modest vehicle!  They say that some foreign count
or baron at a Vienna railway station put an Austrian banker's
slippers on for him in public; and the latter was so vulgar as to
allow him to do it.  Oh, may that terrible beauty (yes, terrible,
there are such!), that daughter of that luxurious and aristocratic
lady meeting me by chance on a steamer or somewhere, glance askance
at me and turn up her nose, wondering contemptuously how that
humble, unpresentable man with a book or paper in his hand could
dare to be in a front seat beside her!  If only she knew who was
sitting beside her!  And she will find out, she will, and will come
to sit beside me of her own accord, humble, timid, ingratiating,
seeking my glance, radiant at my smile." . . .  I purposely
introduce these early day-dreams to express what was in my mind.
But the picture is pale, and perhaps trivial.  Only reality will
justify everything.

I shall be told that such a life would be stupid: why not have a
mansion, keep open house, gather society round you, why not have
influence, why not marry?  But what would Rothschild be then?  He
would become like every one else.  All the charm of the "idea"
would disappear, all its moral force.  When I was quite a child I
learnt Pushkin's monologue of the "Miserly Knight."  Pushkin has
written nothing finer in conception than that!  I have the same
ideas now.

"But yours is too low an ideal," I shall be told with contempt.
"Money, wealth.  Very different from the common weal, from self-
sacrifice for humanity."

But how can anyone tell how I should use my wealth?  In what way is
it immoral, in what way is it degrading, that these millions should
pass out of dirty, evil, Jewish hands into the hands of a sober and
resolute ascetic with a keen outlook upon life?  All these dreams
of the future, all these conjectures, seem like a romance now, and
perhaps I am wasting time in recording them.  I might have kept
them to myself.  I know, too, that these lines will very likely be
read by no one, but if anyone were to read them, would he believe
that I should be unable to stand the test of the Rothschild
millions?  Not because they would crush me, quite the contrary.
More than once in my dreams I have anticipated that moment in the
future, when my consciousness will be satiated, and power will not
seem enough for me.  Then, not from ennui, not from aimless
weariness, but because I have a boundless desire for what is great,
I shall give all my millions away, let society distribute all my
wealth, and I--I will mix with nothingness again!  Maybe I will
turn into a beggar like the one who died on the steamer, with the
only difference that they wouldn't find money sewn up in my shirt.
The mere consciousness that I had had millions in my hands and had
flung them away into the dirt like trash would sustain me in my
solitude.  I am ready to think the same even now.  Yes, my "idea"
is a fortress in which I can always, at every turn, take refuge
from every one, even if I were a beggar dying on a steamer.  It is
my poem!  And let me tell you I must have the WHOLE of my vicious
will, simply to prove TO MYSELF that I can renounce it.

No doubt I shall be told that this is all romance, and that if I
got my millions I should not give them up and become a beggar.
Perhaps I should not.  I have simply sketched the ideal in my mind.

But I will add seriously that if I did succeed in piling up as much
money as Rothschild, that it really might end in my giving it all
up to the public (though it would be difficult to do so before I
reached that amount).  And I shouldn't give away half because that
would be simply vulgar: I should be only half as rich, that would
be all.  I should give away all, all to the last farthing, for on
becoming a beggar I should become twice as rich as Rothschild!  If
other people don't understand this it's not my fault; I'm not going
to explain it.

"The fanaticism, the romanticism of insignificance and impotence!"
people will pronounce, "the triumph of commonplaceness and
mediocrity!"  Yes, I admit that it is in a way the triumph of
commonplaceness and mediocrity, but surely not of impotence.  I
used to be awfully fond of imagining just such a creature,
commonplace and mediocre, facing the world and saying to it with a
smile, "You are Galileos, and Copernicuses, Charlemagnes and
Napoleons, you are Pushkins and Shakespeares, you are field-
marshals and generals, and I am incompetence and illegitimacy, and
yet I am higher than all of you, because you bow down to it
yourself."  I admit that I have pushed this fancy to such extremes
that I have struck out even my education.  It seemed to me more
picturesque if the man were sordidly ignorant.  This exaggerated
dream had a positive influence at the time on my success in the
seventh form of the grammar-school.  I gave up working simply from
fanaticism, feeling that lack of education would add a charm to my
ideal.  Now I've changed my views on that point; education does not
detract from it.

Gentlemen, can it be that even the smallest independence of mind is
so distasteful to you?  Blessed he who has an ideal of beauty, even
though it be a mistaken one!  But I believe in mine.  It is only
that I've explained it clumsily, crudely.  In ten years, of course,
I should explain it better, and I treasure that in my memory.


I've finished with my idea.  If my account of it has been
commonplace and superficial it is I that am to blame and not the
idea.  I have already pointed out that the simplest ideas are
always the most difficult to understand.

Now I will add that they are also the most difficult to explain;
moreover, I have described my "idea" in its earliest phase.  The
converse is the rule with ideas: commonplace and shallow ideas are
extraordinarily quickly understood, and are invariably understood
by the crowd, by the whole street.  What is more, they are regarded
as very great, and as the ideas of genius, but only for the day of
their appearance.  The cheap never wears.  For a thing to be
quickly understood is only a sign of its commonplaceness.
Bismarck's idea was received as a stroke of genius instantly, and
Bismarck himself was looked on as a genius, but the very rapidity
of its reception was suspicious.  Wait for ten years, and then we
shall see what remains of the idea and of Bismarck himself.  I
introduce this extremely irrelevant observation, of course, not for
the sake of comparison, but also for the sake of remembering it.
(An explanation for the too unmannerly reader.)

And now I will tell two anecdotes to wind up my account of the
"idea," that it may not hinder my story again.

In July, two months before I came to Petersburg, when my time was
all my own, Marie Ivanovna asked me to go to see an old maiden lady
who was staying in the Troitsky suburb to take her a message of no
interest for my story.  Returning the same day, I noticed in the
railway carriage an unattractive-looking young man, not very poorly
though grubbily dressed, with a pimply face and a muddy dark
complexion.  He distinguished himself by getting out at every
station, big and little, to have a drink.  Towards the end of the
journey he was surrounded by a merry throng of very low companions.
One merchant, also a little drunk, was particularly delighted at
the young man's power of drinking incessantly without becoming
drunk.  Another person, who was awfully pleased with him, was a
very stupid young fellow who talked a great deal.  He was wearing
European dress and smelt most unsavoury--he was a footman as I
found out afterwards; this fellow got quite friendly with the young
man who was drinking, and, every time the train stopped, roused him
with the invitation:  "It's time for a drop of vodka," and they got
out with their arms round each other.  The young man who drank
scarcely said a word, but yet more and more companions joined him,
he only listened to their chatter, grinning incessantly with a
drivelling snigger, and only from time to time, always unexpectedly,
brought out a sound something like "Ture-lure-loo!" while he put his
finger up to his nose in a very comical way.  This diverted the
merchant, and the footman and all of them, and they burst into very
loud and free and easy laughter.  It is sometimes impossible to
understand why people laugh.  I joined them too, and, I don't know
why, the young man attracted me too, perhaps by his very open
disregard for the generally accepted conventions and proprieties.  I
didn't see, in fact, that he was simply a fool.  Anyway, I got on to
friendly terms with him at once, and, as I got out of the train, I
learnt from him that he would be in the Tverskoy Boulevard between
eight and nine.  It appeared that he had been a student.  I went to
the Boulevard, and this was the diversion he taught me: we walked
together up and down the boulevards, and a little later, as soon as
we noticed a respectable woman walking along the street, if there
were no one else near, we fastened upon her.  Without uttering a
word we walked one on each side of her, and with an air of perfect
composure as though we didn't see her, began to carry on a most
unseemly conversation.  We called things by their names, preserving
unruffled countenances as though it were the natural thing to do; we
entered into such subtleties in our description of all sorts of
filth and obscenity as the nastiest mind of the lewdest debauchee
could hardly have conceived.  (I had, of course, acquired all this
knowledge at the boarding school before I went to the grammar
school, though I knew only words, nothing of the reality.)  The
woman was dreadfully frightened, and made haste to try and get away,
but we quickened our pace too--and went on in the same way.  Our
victim, of course, could do nothing; it was no use to cry out, there
were no spectators; besides, it would be a strange thing to complain
of.  I repeated this diversion for eight days.  I can't think how I
can have liked doing it; though, indeed, I didn't like doing it--I
simply did it.  At first I thought it original, as something outside
everyday conventions and conditions, besides I couldn't endure
women.  I once told the student that in his "Confessions" Jean
Jacques Rousseau describes how, as a youth, he used to behave
indecently in the presence of women.  The student responded with his
"ture-lure-loo!"  I noticed that he was extraordinarily ignorant,
and that his interests were astonishingly limited.  There was no
trace in him of any latent idea such as I had hoped to find in him.
Instead of originality I found nothing in him but a wearisome
monotony.  I disliked him more and more.  The end came quite
unexpectedly.  One night when it was quite dark, we persecuted a
girl who was quickly and timidly walking along the boulevard.  She
was very young, perhaps sixteen or even less, very tidily and
modestly dressed; possibly a working girl hurrying home from work to
an old widowed mother with other children; there is no need to be
sentimental though.  The girl listened for some time, and hurried as
fast as she could with her head bowed and her veil drawn over her
face, frightened and trembling.  But suddenly she stood still, threw
back her veil, showing, as far as I remember, a thin but pretty
face, and cried with flashing eyes:

"Oh, what scoundrels you are!"

She may have been on the verge of tears, but something different
happened.  Lifting her thin little arm, she gave the student a slap
in the face which could not have been more dexterously delivered.
It did come with a smack!  He would have rushed at her, swearing,
but I held him back, and the girl had time to run away.  We began
quarrelling at once.  I told him all I had been saving up against
him in those days.  I told him he was the paltriest commonplace
fool without the trace of an idea.  He swore at me. . . .  (I had
once explained to him that I was illegitimate), then we spat at
each other, and I've never seen him since.  I felt frightfully
vexed with myself that evening, but not so much the next day, and
by the day after I had quite forgotten it.  And though I sometimes
thought of that girl again, it was only casually, for a moment.  It
was only after I had been a fortnight in Petersburg, I suddenly
recalled the whole scene.  I remembered it, and I was suddenly so
ashamed that tears of shame literally ran down my cheeks.  I was
wretched the whole evening, and all that night, and I am rather
miserable about it now.  I could not understand at first how I
could have sunk to such a depth of degradation, and still less how
I could have forgotten it without feeling shame or remorse.  It is
only now that I understand what was at the root of it; it was all
due to my "idea."  Briefly, I conclude that, having something
fixed, permanent and overpowering in one's mind in which one is
terribly absorbed, one is, as it were, removed by it from the whole
world, and everything that happens, except the one great thing,
slips by one.  Even one's impressions are hardly formed correctly.
And what matters most--one always has an excuse.  However much I
worried my mother at that time, however disgracefully I neglected
my sister, "Oh, I've my 'idea,' nothing else matters," was what I
said to myself, as it were.  If I were slighted and hurt, I
withdrew in my mortification and at once said to myself, "Ah, I'm
humiliated, but still I have my idea, and they know nothing about
that."  The "idea" comforted me in disgrace and insignificance.
But all the nasty things I did took refuge, as it were, under the
"idea."  It, so to speak, smoothed over everything, but it also put
a mist before my eyes; and such a misty understanding of things and
events may, of course, be a great hindrance to the "idea" itself,
to say nothing of other things.

Now for another anecdote.

On the 1st of April last year, Marie Ivanovna was keeping her name-
day; some visitors, though only a few, came for the evening.
Suddenly Agrafena rushed in, out of breath, announcing that a baby
was crying in the passage before the kitchen, and that she didn't
know what to do.  We were all excited at the news.  We went out and
saw a bark basket, and in the basket a three or four weeks old
child, crying.  I picked up the basket and took it into the
kitchen.  Then I immediately found a folded note:  "Gracious
benefactors, show kind charity to the girl christened Arina, and we
will join with her to send our tears to the Heavenly throne for you
for ever, and congratulate you on your name-day,
                                        Persons unknown to you."

Then Nikolay Semyonovitch, for whom I have such a respect, greatly
disappointed me.  He drew a very long face and decided to send the
child at once to the Foundling Home.  I felt very sad.  They lived
very frugally but had no children, and Nikolay Semyonovitch was
always glad of it.  I carefully took little Arina out of the basket
and held her up under the arms.  The basket had that sour, pungent
odour characteristic of a small child which has not been washed for
a long time.  I opposed Nikolay Semyonovitch, and suddenly
announced that I would keep the child at my expense.  In spite of
his gentleness he protested with some severity, and, though he
ended by joking, he adhered to his intention in regard to the
foundling.  I got my way, however.  In the same block of buildings,
but in a different wing, there lived a very poor carpenter, an
elderly man, given to drink, but his wife, a very healthy and still
youngish peasant woman, had only just lost a baby, and, what is
more, the only child she had had in eight years of marriage, also a
girl, and by a strange piece of luck also called Arina.  I call it
good luck, because while we were arguing in the kitchen, the woman,
hearing of what had happened, ran in to look at the child, and when
she learned that it was called Arina, she was greatly touched.  She
still had milk, and unfastening her dress she put the baby to her
breast.  I began persuading her to take the child home with her,
saying I would pay for it every month.  She was afraid her husband
would not allow it, but she took it for the night.  Next morning,
her husband consented to her keeping it for eight roubles a month,
and I immediately paid him for the first month in advance.  He at
once spent the money on drink.  Nikolay Semyonovitch, still with a
strange smile, agreed to guarantee that the money should be paid
regularly every month.  I would have given my sixty roubles into
Nikolay Semyonovitch's keeping as security, but he would not take
it.  He knew, however, that I had the money, and trusted me.  Our
momentary quarrel was smoothed over by this delicacy on his part.
Marie Ivanovna said nothing, but wondered at my undertaking such a
responsibility.  I particularly appreciated their delicacy in
refraining from the slightest jest at my expense, but, on the
contrary, taking the matter with proper seriousness.  I used to run
over to the carpenter's wife three times a day, and at the end of a
week I slipped an extra three roubles into her hand without her
husband's knowledge.  For another three I bought a little quilt and
swaddling clothes.  But ten days later little Arina fell ill.  I
called in a doctor at once, he wrote a prescription, and we were up
all night, tormenting the mite with horrid medicine.  Next day he
declared that he had been sent for too late, and answered my
entreaties--which I fancy were more like reproaches--by saying with
majestic evasiveness:  "I am not God."  The baby's little tongue and
lips and whole mouth were covered with a minute white rash, and
towards evening she died, gazing at me with her big black eyes, as
though she understood already.  I don't know why I never thought to
take a photograph of the dead baby.  But will it be believed, that
I cried that evening, and, in fact, I howled as I had never let
myself do before, and Marie Ivanovna had to try to comfort me,
again without the least mockery either on her part or on Nikolay
Semyonovitch's.  The carpenter made a little coffin, and Marie
Ivanovna finished it with a frill and a pretty little pillow, while
I bought flowers and strewed them on the baby.  So they carried
away my poor little blossom, whom it will hardly be believed I
can't forget even now.  A little afterwards, however, this sudden
adventure made me reflect seriously.  Little Arina had not cost me
much, of course; the coffin, the burial, the doctor, the flowers,
and the payment to the carpenter's wife came altogether to thirty
roubles.  As I was going to Petersburg I made up this sum from the
forty roubles sent me by Versilov for the journey, and from the
sale of various articles before my departure, so that my capital
remained intact.  But I thought:  "If I am going to be turned aside
like this I shan't get far."  The affair with the student showed
that the "idea" might absorb me till it blurred my impressions and
drew me away from the realities of life.  The incident with little
Arina proved, on the contrary, that no "idea" was strong enough to
absorb me, at least so completely that I should not stop short in
the face of an overwhelming fact and sacrifice to it at once all
that I had done for the "idea" by years of labour.  Both
conclusions were nevertheless true.



My hopes were not fully realized.  I did not find them alone though
Versilov was not at home, Tatyana Pavlovna was sitting with my
mother, and she was, after all, not one of the family.  Fully half
of my magnanimous feelings disappeared instantly.  It is wonderful
how hasty and changeable I am; in such cases a straw, a grain of
sand is enough to dissipate my good mood and replace it by a bad
one.  My bad impressions, I regret to say, are not so quickly
dispelled, though I am not resentful. . . . When I went in, I had a
feeling that my mother immediately and hastily broke off what she
was saying to Tatyana Pavlovna; I fancied they were talking very
eagerly.  My sister turned from her work only for a moment to look
at me and did not come out of her little alcove again.  The flat
consisted of three rooms.  The room in which we usually sat, the
middle room or drawing-room, was fairly large and almost
presentable.  In it were soft, red armchairs and a sofa, very much
the worse for wear, however (Versilov could not endure covers on
furniture); there were rugs of a sort and several tables, including
some useless little ones.  On the right was Versilov's room,
cramped and narrow with one window; it was furnished with a
wretched-looking writing-table covered with unused books and
crumpled papers, and an equally wretched-looking easy chair with a
broken spring that stuck up in one corner and often made Versilov
groan and swear.  On an equally threadbare sofa in this room he
used to sleep.  He hated this study of his, and I believe he never
did anything in it; he preferred sitting idle for hours together in
the drawing-room.  On the left of the drawing-room there was
another room of the same sort in which my mother and sister slept.
The drawing-room was entered from the passage at the end of which
was the kitchen, where the cook, Lukerya, lived, and when she
cooked, she ruthlessly filled the whole flat with the smell of
burnt fat.  There were moments when Versilov cursed his life and
fate aloud on account of the smell from the kitchen, and in that
one matter I sympathized with him fully; I hated that smell, too,
though it did not penetrate to my room: I lived upstairs in an
attic under the roof, to which I climbed by a very steep and shaky
ladder.  The only things worth mentioning in it were a semicircular
window, a low-pitched ceiling, a sofa covered with American leather
on which at night Lukerya spread sheets and put a pillow for me.
The rest of the furniture consisted of two articles, a perfectly
plain deal table and a wooden rush-bottomed chair.  We still
preserved, however, some relics of former comfort.  In the drawing-
room, for instance, we had a fairly decent china lamp, and on the
wall hung a large and splendid engraving of the Sistine Madonna;
facing it on the other wall was an immense and expensive photograph
of the cast-bronze gates of the cathedral of Florence.  In the
corner of the same room was a shrine of old-fashioned family ikons,
one of which had a gilt-silver setting--the one they had meant to
pawn, while another (the image of Our Lady) had a velvet setting
embroidered in pearls.  Under the ikons hung a little lamp which
was lighted on every holiday. Versilov evidently had no feeling for
the ikons in their inner meaning and religious significance, but he
restrained himself.  He merely screwed up his eyes, sometimes
complaining that the lamplight reflected in the gilt setting hurt
them, but he did not hinder my mother from lighting the lamp.

I usually entered in gloomy silence, looking away into some corner,
and sometimes without even greeting anyone.  As a rule I returned
earlier than to-day, and they used to send my dinner to me
upstairs.  Going into the room I said, "Good evening, mother," a
thing I had never done before.  Though even this time I was unable
from a sort of bashfulness to make myself look at her, and I sat
down in the opposite corner of the room.  I was awfully tired, but
I did not think of that.

"That lout of yours still walks in as rudely as ever," Tatyana
Pavlovna hissed at me.  She had been in the habit in old days of
using abusive epithets to me and it had become an established
tradition between us.

My mother faltered "Good evening" to me, using the formal mode of
address, and evidently embarrassed at my greeting her.  "Your
dinner has been ready a long while," she added, almost overcome by
confusion:  "I hope the soup is not cold, I will order the cutlets
at once. . . ."  She was hastily jumping up to go to the kitchen
and, for the first time perhaps during that whole month, I felt
ashamed that she should run about to wait on me so humbly, though
till that moment I had expected it of her.

"Thank you very much, mother, I have had dinner already.  May I
stay and rest here if I am not in the way?"

"Oh . . . of course. . . . how can you ask, pray sit down. . . ."

"Don't worry yourself, mother, I won't be rude to Andrey Petrovitch
again," I rapped out all at once.

"Good heavens! how noble of him," cried Tatyana Pavlovna.  "Sonia
darling, you don't mean to say you still stand on ceremony with
him?  Who is he to be treated with such deference, and by his own
mother, too!  Look at you, why you behave as though you were afraid
of him, it is disgraceful."

"I should like it very much, mother, if you would call me Arkasha."

"Oh . . . yes . . . certainly, yes I will," my mother said
hurriedly.  I . . . don't always . . . henceforward I will."

She blushed all over.  Certainly her face had at times a great
charm. . . .  It had a look of simplicity, but by no means of
stupidity.  It was rather pale and anaemic, her cheeks were very
thin, even hollow; her forehead was already lined by many wrinkles,
but there were none round her eyes, and her eyes were rather large
and wide open, and shone with a gentle and serene light which had
drawn me to her from the very first day.  I liked her face, too,
because it did not look particularly depressed or drawn; on the
contrary, her expression would have been positively cheerful, if
she had not been so often agitated, sometimes almost panic-stricken
over trifles, starting up from her seat for nothing at all, or
listening in alarm to anything new that was said, till she was sure
that all was well and as before.  What mattered to her was just
that all should be as before; that there should be no change, that
nothing new should happen, not even new happiness. . . .  It might
have been thought that she had been frightened as a child.  Besides
her eyes, I liked the oval of her rather long face, and I believe
if it had been a shade less broad across the cheekbones she might
have been called beautiful, not only in her youth but even now.
She was not more than thirty-nine, but grey hairs were already
visible in her chestnut hair.

Tatyana Pavlovna glanced at her in genuine indignation.

"A booby like him!  And you tremble before him, you are ridiculous,
Sofia, you make me angry, I tell you!"

"Ah, Tatyana Pavlovna, why should you attack him now?  But you are
joking perhaps, eh?" my mother added, detecting something like a
smile on Tatyana Pavlovna's face.  Her scoldings could not indeed
be always taken seriously.  But she smiled (if she did smile) only
at my mother, of course, because she loved her devotedly, and no
doubt noticed how happy she was at that moment at my meekness.

"Of course, I can't help feeling hurt, if you will attack people
unprovoked, Tatyana Pavlovna, and just when I've come in saying
'Good evening, mother,' a thing I've never done before," I thought
it necessary to observe at last.

"Only fancy," she boiled over at once:  "He considers it as
something to be proud of.  Am I to go down on my knees to you,
pray, because for once in your life you've been polite?  and as
though it were politeness!  Why do you stare into the corner when
you come in?  I know how you tear and fling about before her!  You
might have said 'Good evening' to me, too, I wrapped you in your
swaddling clothes, I am your godmother."

I need not say I did not deign to answer.  At that moment my sister
came in and I made haste to turn to her.

"Liza, I saw Vassin to-day and he inquired after you.  You have met

"Yes, last year in Luga," she answered quite simply, sitting down
beside me and looking at me affectionately.  I don't know why, but
I had fancied she would flush when I spoke of Vassin.  My sister
was a blonde; very fair with flaxen hair, quite unlike both her
parents.  But her eyes and the oval of her face were like our
mother's.  Her nose was very straight, small, and regular; there
were tiny freckles in her face, however, of which there was no sign
in my mother's.  There was very little resemblance to Versilov,
nothing but the slenderness of figure, perhaps, her tallness and
something charming in her carriage.  There was not the slightest
likeness between us--we were the opposite poles.

"I knew his honour for three months," Liza added.

"Is it Vassin you call 'his honour,' Liza?  You should call him by
his name.  Excuse my correcting you, sister, but it grieves me that
they seem to have neglected your education."

"But it's shameful of you to remark upon it before your mother,"
cried Tatyana Pavlovna, firing up; "and you are talking nonsense,
it has not been neglected at all."

"I am not saying anything about my mother," I said sharply,
defending myself.  "Do you know, mother, that when I look at Liza
it's as though it were you over again; you have given her the same
charm of goodness, which you must have had yourself, and you have
it to this day and always will have it. . . .  I was only talking
of the surface polish, of the silly rules of etiquette, which are
necessary, however.  I am only indignant at the thought that when
Versilov has heard you call Vassin 'his honour' he has not troubled
to correct you at all--his disdain and his indifference to us are
so complete.  That's what makes me furious."

"He is a perfect bear himself, and he is giving us lessons in good
manners!  Don't you dare talk of Versilov before your mother, sir,
or before me either, I won't stand it!" Tatyana Pavlovna flashed

"I got my salary to-day, mother, fifty roubles; take it, please;

I went up to her and gave her the money; she was in a tremor of
anxiety at once.

"Oh, I don't know about taking it," she brought out, as though
afraid to touch the money.  I did not understand.

"For goodness' sake, mother, if you both think of me as one of the
family, as a son and a brother. . . ."

"Oh, I've been to blame, Arkady: I ought to have confessed
something to you, but I am afraid of you. . . ."

She said this with a timid and deprecating smile; again I did not
understand and interrupted.

"By the way, did you know, mother, that Andrey Petrovitch's case
against the Sokolskys is being decided to-day?"

"Ah! I knew," she cried, clasping her hands before her (her
favourite gesture) in alarm.

"To-day?" cried Tatyana Pavlovna startled, "but it's impossible, he
would have told us.  Did he tell you?" she turned to my mother.

"Oh! no . . . that it was to-day . . . he didn't.  But I have been
fearing it all the week.  I would have prayed for him to lose it
even, only to have it over and off one's mind, and to have things
as they used to be again."

"What! hasn't he even told you, mother?" I exclaimed.  "What a man!
There's an example of the indifference and contempt I spoke of just

"It's being decided, how is it being decided?  And who told you?"
cried Tatyana Pavlovna, pouncing upon me.  "Speak, do."

"Why, here he is himself!  Perhaps he will tell you," I announced,
catching the sound of his step in the passage and hastily sitting
down again beside Liza.

"Brother, for God's sake, spare mother, and be patient with Andrey
Petrovitch . . ." she whispered to me.

"I will, I will," with that I turned to her and pressed her hand.

Liza looked at me very mistrustfully, and she was right.


He came in very much pleased with himself, so pleased that he did
not feel it necessary to conceal his state of mind.  And, indeed,
he had become accustomed of late to displaying himself before us
without the slightest ceremony, not only in his bad points but even
where he was ridiculous, a thing which most people are afraid to
do; at the same time, he fully recognized that we should understand
to the smallest detail.  In the course of the last year, so Tatyana
Pavlovna observed, he had become slovenly in his dress: his clothes
though old were always well cut and free from foppishness.  It is
true that he was prepared to put on clean linen only on every
alternate day, instead of every day, which was a real distress to
my mother; it was regarded by them as a sacrifice, and the whole
group of devoted women looked upon it as an act of heroism.  He
always wore soft wide-brimmed black hats.  When he took off his hat
his very thick but silvery locks stood up in a shock on his head; I
liked looking at his hair when he took off his hat.

"Good evening; still disputing; and is he actually one of the
party?  I heard his voice from outside in the passage; he has been
attacking me I suppose?"

It was one of the signs of his being in a good humour for him to be
witty at my expense; I did not answer, of course.  Lukerya came in
with a regular sackful of parcels and put them on the table.

"Victory!  Tatyana Pavlovna! the case is won, and the Sokolskys
certainly won't venture to appeal.  I've won the day!  I was able
to borrow a thousand roubles at once.  Sonia, put down your work,
don't try your eyes.  Back from work, Liza?"

"Yes, father," answered Liza, looking at him affectionately; she
used to call him father; nothing would have induced me to submit to
doing the same.



"Give up your work, don't go to-morrow, and drop it altogether."

"Father, that will be worse for me."

"I beg you will . . . I greatly dislike to see women working,
Tatyana Pavlovna."

"How can they get on without work? a woman's not to work?"

"I know, I know; that's excellent and very true, and I agree with
it beforehand, but--I mean needlework particularly.  Only imagine,
I believe that's one of the morbid anomalous impressions of my
childhood.  In my dim memories of the time when I was five or six
years old I remember more often than anything--with loathing, of
course--a solemn council of wise women, stern and forbidding,
sitting at a round table with scissors, material, patterns, and a
fashion-plate.  They thought they knew all about it, and shook
their heads slowly and majestically, measuring, calculating, and
preparing to cut out.  All those kind people who were so fond of me
had suddenly become unapproachable, and if I began to play I was
carried out of the room at once.  Even my poor nurse, who held me
by the hand and took no notice of my shouting and pulling at her,
was listening and gazing enraptured, as though at a kind of
paradise.  The sternness of those sensible faces and the solemnity
with which they faced the task of cutting out is for some reason
distressing for me to picture even now.  Tatyana Pavlovna, you are
awfully fond of cutting out.  Although it may be aristocratic, yet
I do prefer a woman who does not work at all.  Don't take that as
meant for you, Sonia. . . . How could you, indeed!  Woman is an
immense power without working.  You know that, though, Sonia.
What's your opinion, Arkady Makarovitch?  No doubt you disagree?"

"No, not at all," I answered--"that's a particularly good saying
that woman is an immense power, though I don't understand why you
say that about work.  And she can't help working if she has no
money--as you know yourself."

"Well, that's enough," and he turned to my mother, who positively
beamed all over (when he addressed me she was all of a tremor); "at
least, to begin with, I beg you not to let me see you doing
needlework for me.  No doubt, Arkady, as a young man of the period
you are something of a socialist; well, would you believe it, my
dear fellow, none are so fond of idleness as the toiling masses."

"Rest perhaps, not idleness."

"No, idleness, doing nothing; that's their ideal!  I knew a man who
was for ever at work, though he was not one of the common people,
he was rather intellectual and capable of generalizing.  Every day
of his life, perhaps, he brooded with blissful emotion on visions
of utter idleness, raising the ideal to infinity, so to speak, to
unlimited independence, to everlasting freedom, dreaming, and idle
contemplation.  So it went on till he broke down altogether from
overwork.  There was no mending him, he died in a hospital.  I am
sometimes seriously disposed to believe that the delights of labour
have been invented by the idle, from virtuous motives, of course.
It is one of the 'Geneva ideas' of the end of last century.
Tatyana Pavlovna, I cut an advertisement out of the newspaper the
day before yesterday, here it is"; he took a scrap of paper out of
his waist-coat pocket.  "It is one of those everlasting students,
proficient in classics and mathematics and prepared to travel, to
sleep in a garret or anywhere.  Here, listen:  'A teacher (lady)
prepares for all the scholastic establishments (do you hear, for
all) and gives lessons in arithmetic!'  Prepares for all the
scholastic establishments--in arithmetic, therefore, may we assume?
No, arithmetic is something apart for her.  It is a case of simple
hunger, the last extremity of want.  It is just the ineptitude of
it that's so touching: it's evident that the lady has never
prepared anyone for any school, and it is doubtful whether she is
fit to teach anything.  Yet at her last gasp she wastes her one
remaining rouble and prints in the paper that she prepares for all
the scholastic establishments, and what's more, gives lessons in
arithmetic.  Per tutto mundo e in altri siti."

"Oh, Andrey Petrovitch, she ought to be helped!  Where does she
live?" cried Tatyana Pavlovna.

"Oh, there are lots of them!"  He put the advertisement in his
pocket.  "That bag's full of treats for you, Liza, and you, Tatyana
Pavlovna; Sonia and I don't care for sweet things.  And perhaps for
you, young man.  I bought the things myself at Eliseyev's and at
Balle's.  Too long we've gone hungry, as Lukerya said.  (NB--None
of us had ever gone hungry.)  Here are grapes, sweets, duchesses
and strawberry tarts; I've even brought some excellent liqueur;
nuts, too.  It's curious that to this day I'm fond of nuts as I
have been from a child, Tatyana Pavlovna, and of the commonest
nuts, do you know.  Liza takes after me; she is fond of cracking
nuts like a squirrel.  But there's nothing more charming, Tatyana
Pavlovna, than sometimes when recalling one's childhood to imagine
oneself in a wood, in a copse, gathering nuts. . . .  The days are
almost autumnal, but bright; at times it's so fresh, one hides in
the bushes, one wanders in the wood, there's a scent of leaves. . . .
I seem to see something sympathetic in your face, Arkady

"The early years of my childhood, too, were spent in the country."

"But I thought you were brought up in Moscow, if I am not

"He was living in Moscow at the Andronikovs' when you went there;
but till then he used to live in the country with your aunt,
Varvara Stepanovna," Tatyana Pavlovna put in.

"Sonia, here's some money, put it away.  I promise you, in a few
days, five thousand."

"So there's no hope then for the Sokolskys?" asked Tatyana

"Absolutely none, Tatyana Pavlovna."

"I have always sympathized with you and all of yours, Andrey
Petrovitch, and I have always been a friend of the family, but
though the Sokolskys are strangers, yet, upon my word, I am sorry
for them.  Don't be angry, Andrey Petrovitch."

"I have no intention of going shares with them, Tatyana Pavlovna!"

"You know my idea, of course, Andrey Petrovitch; they would have
settled the case out of court, if at the very beginning you had
offered to go halves with them; now, of course, it is too late.
Not that I venture to criticize. . . .  I say so because I don't
think the deceased would have left them out of his will altogether."

"Not only he wouldn't have left them out, he'd have certainly left
them everything, and would have left none out but me, if he'd known
how to do things and to write a will properly; but as it is, the
law's on my side, and it's settled.  I can't go shares, and I don't
want to, Tatyana Pavlovna, and that is the end of the matter."

He spoke with real exasperation, a thing he rarely allowed himself
to do.  Tatyana Pavlovna subsided.  My mother looked down
mournfully.  Versilov knew that she shared Tatyana Pavlovna's

"He has not forgotten that slap in the face at Ems," I thought to
myself.  The document given me by Kraft and at that moment in my
pocket would have a poor chance if it had fallen into his hands.  I
suddenly felt that the whole responsibility was still weighing upon
me, and this idea, together with all the rest, had, of course, an
irritating effect upon me.

"Arkady, I should like you to be better dressed, my dear fellow;
your suit is all right, but for future contingencies I might
recommend you to an excellent Frenchman, most conscientious and
possessed of taste."

"I beg you never to make such suggestions again," I burst out

"What's that?"

"It is not that I consider it humiliating, of course, but we are
not agreed about anything; on the contrary, our views are entirely
opposed, for in a day or two--to-morrow--I shall give up going to
the prince's, as I find there is absolutely no work for me to do

"But you are going and sitting there with him--that is the work."

"Such ideas are degrading."

"I don't understand; but if you are so squeamish, don't take money
from him, but simply go.  You will distress him horribly, he has
already become attached to you, I assure you. . . .  However, as
you please. . . ."  He was evidently put out.

"You say, don't ask for money, but thanks to you I did a mean thing
to-day: you did not warn me, and I demanded my month's salary from
him to-day."

"So you have seen to that already; I confess I did not expect you
to ask for it; but how sharp you all are nowadays!  There are no
young people in these days, Tatyana Pavlovna."  He was very
spiteful: I was awfully angry too.

"I ought to have had things out with you . . . you made me do it, I
don't know now how it's to be."

"By the way, Sonia, give Arkady back his sixty roubles at once; and
you, my dear fellow, don't be angry at our repaying it so quickly.
I can guess from your face that you have some enterprise in your
mind and that you need it. . . .  So invest it . . . or something
of the sort."

"I don't know what my face expresses, but I did not expect mother
would have told you of that money when I so particularly asked
her. . . ."  I looked at my mother with flashing eyes, I cannot
express how wounded I felt.

"Arkasha, darling, for God's sake forgive me, I couldn't possibly
help speaking of it. . . ."

"My dear fellow, don't make a grievance of her telling me your
secrets: besides, she did it with the best intentions--it was
simply a mother's longing to boast of her son's feeling for her.
But I assure you I should have guessed without that you were a
capitalist.  All your secrets are written on your honest
countenance.  He has 'his idea,' Tatyana Pavlovna, as I told you."

"Let's drop my honest countenance," I burst out again.  "I know
that you often see right through things, but in some cases you see
no further than your own nose, and I have marvelled at your powers
of penetration.  Well then, I have 'my idea.'  That you should use
that expression, of course, was an accident, but I am not afraid to
admit it; I have 'an idea' of my own, I am not afraid and I am not
ashamed of it."

"Don't be ashamed, that's the chief thing."

"And all the same I shall never tell it you."

"That's to say you won't condescend to; no need to, my dear fellow,
I know the nature of your idea as it is; in any case it implies:

         Into the wilderness I flee.

Tatyana Pavlovna, my notion is that he wants . . . to become a
Rothschild, or something of the kind, and shut himself up in his
grandeur. . . .  No doubt he'll magnanimously allow us a pension,
though perhaps he won't allow me one--but in any case he will
vanish from our sight.  Like the new moon he has risen, only to set

I shuddered in my inmost being; of course, it was all chance; he
knew nothing of my idea and was not speaking about it, though he
did mention Rothschild; but how could he define my feelings so
precisely, my impulse to break with them and go away?  He divined
everything and wanted to defile beforehand with his cynicism the
tragedy of fact.  That he was horribly angry, of that there could
be no doubt.

"Mother, forgive my hastiness, for I see that there's no hiding
things from Andrey Petrovitch in any case," I said, affecting to
laugh and trying if only for a moment to turn it into a joke.

"That's the very best thing you can do, my dear fellow, to laugh.
It is difficult to realize how much every one gains by laughing
even in appearance; I am speaking most seriously.  He always has an
air, Tatyana Pavlovna, of having something so important on his
mind, that he is quite abashed at the circumstance himself."

"I must ask you in earnest, Andrey Petrovitch, to be more careful
what you say."

"You are right, my dear boy; but one must speak out once for all,
so as never to touch upon the matter again.  You have come to us
from Moscow, to begin making trouble at once.  That's all we know
as yet of your object in coming.  I say nothing, of course, of your
having come to surprise us in some way.  And all this month you
have been snorting and sneering at us.  Yet you are obviously an
intelligent person, and as such you might leave such snorting and
sneering to those who have no other means of avenging themselves on
others for their own insignificance.  You are always shutting
yourself up, though your honest countenance and your rosy cheeks
bear witness that you might look every one straight in the face
with perfect innocence.  He's a neurotic; I can't make out, Tatyana
Pavlovna, why they are all neurotic nowadays. . . ?"

"If you did not even know where I was brought up, you are not
likely to know why a man's neurotic."

"Oh, so that's the key to it!  You are offended at my being capable
of forgetting where you were brought up!"

"Not in the least.  Don't attribute such silly ideas to me.
Mother!  Andrey Petrovitch praised me just now for laughing; let us
laugh--why sit like this!  Shall I tell you a little anecdote about
myself?  Especially as Andrey Petrovitch knows nothing of my

I was boiling.  I knew this was the last time we should be sitting
together like this, that when I left that house I should never
enter it again, and so on the eve of it all I could not restrain
myself.  He had challenged me to such a parting scene himself.

"That will be delightful, of course, if it is really amusing," he
observed, looking at me searchingly.  "Your manners were rather
neglected where you were brought up, my dear fellow, though they
are pretty passable.  He is charming to-day, Tatyana Pavlovna, and
it's a good thing you have undone that bag at last."

But Tatyana Pavlovna frowned; she did not even turn round at his
words, but went on untying the parcels and laying out the good
things on some plates which had been brought in.  My mother, too,
was sitting in complete bewilderment, though she had misgivings, of
course, and realized that there would be trouble between us.  My
sister touched my elbow again.


"I simply want to tell you all," I began, with a very free-and-easy
air, "how a father met for the first time a dearly loved son: it
happened 'wherever you were brought up' . . ."

"My dear fellow, won't it be . . . a dull story?  You know, tous
les genres. . . ."

"Don't frown, Andrey Petrovitch, I am not speaking at all with the
object you imagine.  All I want is to make every one laugh."

"Well, God hears you, my dear boy.  I know that you love us
all . . . and don't want to spoil our evening," he mumbled with
a sort of affected carelessness.

"Of course, you have guessed by my face that I love you?"

"Yes, partly by your face, too."

"Just as I guessed from her face that Tatyana Pavlovna's in love
with me.  Don't look at me so ferociously, Tatyana Pavlovna, it is
better to laugh! it is better to laugh!"

She turned quickly to me, and gave me a searching look which lasted
half a minute.

"Mind now," she said, holding up her finger at me, but so earnestly
that her words could not have referred to my stupid joke, but must
have been meant as a warning in case I might be up to some mischief.

"Andrey Petrovitch, is it possible you don't remember how we met
for the first time in our lives?"

"Upon my word I've forgotten, my dear fellow, and I am really very
sorry.  All that I remember is that it was a long time ago . . .
and took place somewhere. . . ."

"Mother, and don't you remember how you were in the country, where
I was brought up, till I was six or seven I believe, or rather were
you really there once, or is it simply a dream that I saw you there
for the first time?  I have been wanting to ask you about it for a
long time, but I've kept putting it off; now the time has come."

"To be sure, Arkasha, to be sure I stayed with Varvara Stepanovna
three times; my first visit was when you were only a year old, I
came a second time when you were nearly four, and afterwards again
when you were six."

"Ah, you did then; I have been wanting to ask you about it all this

My mother seemed overwhelmed by a rush of memories, and she asked
me with feeling:

"Do you really mean, Arkasha, that you remembered me there?"

"I don't know or remember anything, only something of your face
remained in my heart for the rest of my life, and the fact, too,
that you were my mother.  I recall everything there as though it
were a dream, I've even forgotten my nurse.  I have a faint
recollection of Varvara Stepanovna, simply that her face was tied
up for toothache.  I remember huge trees near the house--lime-trees
I think they were--then sometimes the brilliant sunshine at the
open windows, the little flower garden, the little paths and you,
mother, I remember clearly only at one moment when I was taken to
the church there, and you held me up to receive the sacrament and
to kiss the chalice; it was in the summer, and a dove flew through
the cupola, in at one window and out at another. . . ."

"Mercy on us, that's just how it was," cried my mother, throwing up
her hands, "and the dear dove I remember, too, now.  With the
chalice just before you, you started, and cried out, 'a dove, a

"Your face or something of the expression remained in my memory so
distinctly that I recognized you five years after in Moscow, though
nobody there told me you were my mother.  But when I met Andrey
Petrovitch for the first time, I was brought from the Andronikovs';
I had been vegetating quietly and happily with them for five years
on end.  I remember their flat down to the smallest detail, and all
those ladies who have all grown so much older here; and the whole
household, and how Andronikov himself used to bring the provisions,
poultry, fish, and sucking-pigs from the town in a fish-basket.
And how at dinner instead of his wife, who always gave herself such
airs, he used to help the soup, and how we all laughed at his doing
it, he most of all.  The young ladies there used to teach me
French.  But what I liked best of all was Krylov's Fables.  I
learned a number of them by heart and every day I used to recite
one to Andronikov . . . going straight into his tiny study to do so
without considering whether he were busy or not.  Well, it was
through a fable of Krylov's that I got to know you, Andrey
Petrovitch.  I see you are beginning to remember."

"I do recall something, my dear fellow, that you repeated something
to me . . . a fable or a passage from 'Woe from Wit,' I fancy.
What a memory you have, though!"

"A memory!  I should think so! it's the one thing I've remembered
all my life."

"That's all right, that's all right, my dear fellow, you are quite
waking me up."

He actually smiled; as soon as he smiled, my mother and sister
smiled after him, confidence was restored; but Tatyana Pavlovna,
who had finished laying out the good things on the table and
settled herself in a corner, still bent upon me a keen and
disapproving eye.  "This is how it happened," I went on: "one fine
morning there suddenly appeared the friend of my childhood, Tatyana
Pavlovna, who always made her entrance on the stage of my existence
with dramatic suddenness.  She took me away in a carriage to a
grand house, to sumptuous apartments.  You were staying at Madame
Fanariotov's, Andrey Petrovitch, in her empty house, which she had
bought from you; she was abroad at that time.  I always used to
wear short jackets; now all of a sudden I was put into a pretty
little blue greatcoat, and a very fine shirt.  Tatyana Pavlovna was
busy with me all day and bought me lots of things; I kept walking
through all the empty rooms, looking at myself in all the looking-
glasses.  And wandering about in the same way the next morning, at
ten o clock, I walked quite by chance into your study.  I had seen
you already the evening before, as soon as I was brought into the
house, but only for an instant on the stairs.  You were coming
downstairs to get into your carriage and drive off somewhere; you
were staying alone in Moscow then, for a short time after a very
long absence, so that you had engagements in all directions and
were scarcely ever at home.  When you met Tatyana Pavlovna and me
you only drawled 'Ah!' and did not even stop."

"He describes it with a special love," observed Versilov,
addressing Tatyana Pavlovna; she turned away and did not answer.

"I can see you now as you were then, handsome and flourishing.  It
is wonderful how much older and less good-looking you have grown in
these years; please forgive this candour, you were thirty-seven
even then, though.  I gazed at you with admiration; what wonderful
hair you had, almost jet black, with a brilliant lustre without a
trace of grey; moustaches and whiskers, like the setting of a
jewel: I can find no other expression for it; your face of an even
pallor; not like its sickly pallor to-day, but like your daughter,
Anna Andreyevna, whom I had the honour of seeing this morning;
dark, glowing eyes, and gleaming teeth, especially when you
laughed.  And you did laugh, when you looked round as I came in; I
was not very discriminating at that time, and your smile rejoiced
my heart.  That morning you were wearing a dark blue velvet jacket,
a sulphur coloured necktie, and a magnificent shirt with Alencon
lace on it; you were standing before the looking-glass with a
manuscript in your hand, and were busy declaiming Tchatsky's
monologue, and especially his last exclamation:  'A coach, I want a

"Good heavens!" cried Versilov.  "Why, he's right!  Though I was
only in Moscow for so short a time, I undertook to play Tchatsky in
an amateur performance at Alexandra Petrovna Vitovtov's in place of
Zhileyko, who was ill!"

"Do you mean to say you had forgotten it?" laughed Tatyana

"He has brought it back to my mind!  And I own that those few days
in Moscow were perhaps the happiest in my life!  We were still so
young then . . . and all so fervently expecting something. . . .
It was then in Moscow I unexpectedly met so much. . . .  But go on,
my dear fellow: this time you've done well to remember it all so
exactly. . . ."

"I stood still to look at you and suddenly cried out, 'Ah, how
good, the real Tchatsky'  You turned round at once and asked:
'Why, do you know Tchatsky already?' and you sat down on a sofa,
and began drinking your coffee in the most charming humour--I could
have kissed you.  Then I informed you that at the Andronikovs'
every one read a great deal, and that the young ladies knew a great
deal of poetry by heart, and used to act scenes out of 'Woe from
Wit' among themselves, and that all last week we had been reading
aloud in the evening 'A Sportsman's Sketches,' but what I liked
best of all was Krylov's Fables, and that I knew them by heart.
You told me to repeat one, and I repeated 'The Girl who was Hard to

          A maid her suitor shrewdly scanned.

"Yes!  Yes!  I remember it all now," cried Versilov again; "but, my
dear fellow, I remember you, too, clearly now; you were such a
charming boy then, a thoughtful boy even, and, I assure you, you,
too, have changed for the worse in the course of these nine years."

At this point all of them, even Tatyana Pavlovna, laughed.  It was
evident that Andrey Petrovitch had deigned to jest, and had paid me
out in the same coin for my biting remark about his having grown
old.  Every one was amused, and indeed, it was well said.

"As I recited, you smiled, but before I was half-way through the
fable you rang the bell and told the footman who answered it to ask
Tatyana Pavlovna to come, and she ran in with such a delighted
face, that though I had seen her the evening before I scarcely knew
her.  For Tatyana Pavlovna, I began the fable again, I finished it
brilliantly, even Tatyana Pavlovna smiled, and you, Andrey
Petrovitch cried 'Bravo!' and observed with warmth that if it had
been 'The Ant and the Grasshopper' it would not be wonderful that a
sensible boy of my age should recite it sensibly, but this fable

          A maid her suitor shrewdly scanned.
          Indeed, that's not a crime.

was different.  "Listen how he brings out 'Indeed, that's not a
crime,'" you said; in fact, you were enthusiastic.  Then you said
something in French to Tatyana Pavlovna, and she instantly frowned
and began to protest, and grew very hot, in fact; but as it was
impossible to oppose Andrey Petrovitch if he once took an idea into
his head, she hurriedly carried me off to her room, there my hands
and face were washed again, my shirt was changed, my hair was
pomaded and even curled.

"Then towards evening Tatyana Pavlovna dressed herself up rather
grandly as I had never expected to see her, and she took me with
her in the carriage.  It was the first time in my life I had been
to a play; it was at a private performance at Mme. Vitovtov's.  The
lights, the chandeliers, the ladies, the officers, the generals,
the young ladies, the curtain, the rows of chairs, were utterly
unlike anything I had seen before.  Tatyana Pavlovna took a very
modest seat in one of the back rows, and made me sit down beside
her.  There were, of course, other children like me in the room,
but I had no eyes for anything, I simply waited with a sinking of
my heart for the performance.  When you came on, Andrey Petrovitch,
I was ecstatic to the point of tears.  What for and why, I don't
understand.  Why those tears of rapture?  It has been a strange
recollection for me ever since, for these last nine years!  I
followed the drama with a throbbing heart; all I understood of it,
of course, was that SHE was deceiving HIM, and that he was
ridiculed by stupid people who were not worth his little finger.
When he was reciting at the ball I understood that he was
humiliated and insulted, that he was reproaching all these
miserable people, but that he was--great, great!  No doubt my
training at the Andronikovs' helped me to understand, and your
acting, Andrey Petrovitch!  It was the first time I had seen a
play!  When you went off shouting 'A coach, a coach!' (and you did
that shout wonderfully) I jumped up from my seat, and while the
whole audience burst into applause, I, too, clapped my hands and
cried 'bravo' at the top of my voice.  I vividly recall how at that
instant I felt as though I had been pierced by a pin in my back 'a
little below the waist'; Tatyana Pavlovna had given me a ferocious
pinch; but I took no notice of it.  As soon as 'Woe from Wit' was
over, Tatyana Pavlovna took me home, of course.  'You can't stay
for the dancing, and it's only on your account I am not staying!'
you hissed at me all the way home in the carriage, Tatyana
Pavlovna.  All night I was delirious, and by ten o'clock the next
morning I was standing at the study door, but it was shut; there
were people with you and you were engaged in some business with
them; then you drove off and were away the whole day till late at
night--so I did not see you again!  What I meant to say to you, I
have forgotten, of course, and indeed I did not know then, but I
longed passionately to see you as soon as possible.  And at eight
o'clock next morning you were graciously pleased to set off for
Serpuhov; at that time you had just sold your Tula estate to settle
with your creditors, but there was still left in your hands a
tempting stake; that was why you had come at that time to Moscow,
where you had not been able to show yourself till then for fear of
your creditors, and this Serpuhov ruffian was the only one of them
who had not agreed to take half of what you owed him instead of the
whole.  When I questioned Tatyana Pavlovna, she did not even answer
me.  'It's no business of yours, but the day after to-morrow I
shall take you to your boarding school: get your exercise-books
ready, take your lesson books, put them all in order, and you must
learn to pack your little box yourself, you can't expect to be
waited on, sir.'  You were drumming this and that into my ears all
those three days, Tatyana Pavlovna.  It ended in my being taken in
my innocence to school at Touchard's, adoring you, Andrey
Petrovitch; our whole meeting was a trivial incident, perhaps, but
would you believe it, six months afterwards I longed to run away
from Touchard's to you!"

"You describe it capitally, you have brought it all back so
vividly," Versilov pronounced incisively; "but what strikes me most
in your story is the wealth of certain strange details, concerning
my debts, for instance.  Apart from the fact that these details are
hardly a suitable subject for you to discuss, I can't imagine how
you managed to get hold of them."

"Details? how I got hold of them?  Why I repeat, for the last nine
years I have been doing nothing but getting hold of facts about

"A strange confession, and a strange way of spending your time."

He turned half-reclining in his easy chair, and even yawned
slightly, whether intentionally or not I could not say.

"Well, shall I go on telling you how I wanted to run to you from

"Forbid him, Andrey Petrovitch; suppress him and send him away,"
Tatyana Pavlovna burst out.

"That won't do, Tatyana Pavlovna," Versilov answered her
impressively.  "Arkasha has evidently something on his mind, and so
he must be allowed to finish.  Well, let him speak!  When he's said
what he's got to say, it will be off his mind, and what matters
most to him is that he should get it off his mind.  Begin your new
story, my dear fellow; I call it new, but you may rest assured that
I know how it ends."


"I ran away, that is, I tried to run away to you, very simply.
Tatyana Pavlovna, do you remember after I had been there a
fortnight Touchard wrote you a letter--didn't he?  Marie Ivanovna
showed me the letter afterwards; that turned up among Andronikov's
papers, too.  Touchard suddenly discovered that the fees he had
asked were too small, and with 'dignity' announced in his letter to
you that little princes and senator's children were educated in
his establishment, and that it was lowering its tone to keep a
pupil of such humble origin as me unless the remuneration were

"Mon cher, you really might. . . ."

"Oh that's nothing, that's nothing," I interrupted, "I am only
going to say a little about Touchard.  You wrote from the provinces
a fortnight later, Tatyana Pavlovna, and answered with a flat
refusal.  I remember how he walked into our classroom, flushing
crimson.  He was a very short thick-set little Frenchman of five-
and-forty, a Parisian cobbler by origin, though he had from time
immemorial held a position in Moscow as an instructor in the French
language, and even had an official rank, of which he was extremely
proud; he was a man of crass ignorance.  There were only six of us
pupils; among them there actually was a nephew of a Moscow senator;
and we all lived like one family under the supervision of his wife,
a very affected lady, who was the daughter of a Russian government
clerk.  During that fortnight I had given myself great airs before
my schoolfellows.  I boasted of my blue overcoat, and my papa,
Andrey Petrovitch, and their questions: why I was called Dolgoruky
and not Versilov did not embarrass me in the least, since I did not
know why."

"Andrey Petrovitch!" cried Tatyana Pavlovna, in a voice almost
menacing.  My mother, on the contrary, was watching me intently,
and evidently wished me to go on.

"Ce Touchard . . . I actually recall him now . . . he was a fussy
little man," Versilov admitted; "but he was recommended to me by
the very best people. . . ."

"Ce Touchard walked in with the letter in his hand, went up to the
big oak table, at which all six of us were seated learning
something by heart; he seized me firmly by the shoulder, picked me
up from the chair, and ordered me to collect my exercise-books.
'Your place is not here but there,' he said, pointing to a tiny
room on the left of the passage, where there was nothing but a
plain deal table, a rush-bottom chair, and an American leather
sofa--exactly like what I have upstairs in the attic.  I went into
it in amazement, very much downcast; I had never been roughly
treated before.  Half an hour later when Touchard had gone out of
the schoolroom, I began to exchange glances and smiles with my
schoolfellows; they, of course, were laughing at me; but I had no
suspicion of it and thought we were laughing because we were merry.
At that moment Touchard darted in, seized me by the forelock, and
dragged me about.

"'Don't you dare sit with gentlemanly boys, you are a child of low
origin and no better than a lackey.'

"And he gave me a stinging blow on my chubby, rosy cheek.  He must
have enjoyed doing so and he struck me a second time, and a third.
I cried violently and was terribly astonished.  For a whole hour I
sat with my face hidden in my hands crying and crying.  Something
had happened which was utterly beyond my comprehension.  I don't
understand how a man, not of spiteful character, a foreigner like
Touchard, who rejoiced at the emancipation of the Russian peasants,
could have beaten a foolish child like me.  I was only amazed, not
resentful, however.  I had not yet learnt to resent an insult.  It
seemed to me that I had somehow been naughty, that when I was good
again I should be forgiven, and that we should all be merry again
at once, that we should go out to play in the yard and live happy
ever after."

"My dear fellow, if I had only known. . . ." Versilov drawled with
the careless smile of a rather weary man.  "What a scoundrel that
Touchard was, though!  I have not given up all hope, however, that
you may make an effort and forgive us for all that at last, and
that we may all live happy ever after."

He yawned decisively.

"But I am not blaming you at all, and believe me, I am not
complaining of Touchard," I cried, a little disconcerted.  "Though,
indeed, he beat me for ten months or so.  I remember I was always
trying to appease him in some way; I used to rush to kiss his
hands, I was always kissing them, and I was always crying and
crying.  My schoolfellows laughed at me and despised me, because
Touchard began to treat me sometimes like a servant, he used to
order me to bring him his clothes when he was dressing.  My menial
instincts were of use to me there; I did my very utmost to please
him, and was not in the least offended, because I did not at that
time understand it at all, and I am surprised to this day that I
could have been so stupid as not to realize that I was not on an
equal footing with the rest.  It's true my schoolfellows made many
things clear to me even then; it was a good school.  Touchard came
in the end to prefer giving me a kick to slapping me in the face,
and six months later he even began to be affectionate; only he
never failed to beat me once a month or so to remind me not to
forget myself.  He soon let me sit with the other boys, too, and
allowed me to play with them, but not once during those two and a
half years did Touchard forget the difference in our social
positions, and from time to time, though not very frequently, he
employed me in menial tasks, I verily believe, to remind me of it.

"I was running away; that's to say, I was on the point of running
away for five months after those first two months.  I have always
been slow in taking action.  When I got into bed and pulled the
quilt over me, I began thinking of you at once, Andrey Petrovitch,
only of you, of no one else; I don't in the least know why it was
so.  I dreamed about you too.  I used always to be passionately
imagining that you would walk in, and I would rush up to you and
you would take me out of that place, and bring me home with you to
the same study, and that we would go to the theatre again, and so
on.  Above all, that we should not part again--that was the chief
thing!  As soon as I had to wake up in the morning the jeers and
contempt of the boys began again; one of them actually began
beating me and making me put on his boots for him; he called me the
vilest names, particularly aiming at making my origin clear to me,
to the diversion of all who heard him.  When at last Touchard
himself became comprehensible, something unbearable began in my
soul.  I felt that I should never be forgiven here.  Oh, I was
beginning by degrees to understand what it was they would not
forgive me and of what I was guilty!  And so at last I resolved to
run away.  For two whole months I dreamed of it incessantly at
last--it was September--I made up my mind.  I waited for Saturday,
when my schoolfellows used to go home for the week-end, and
meanwhile I secretly and carefully got together a bundle of the
most necessary things; all the money I had was two roubles.  I
meant to wait till dusk; 'then I will go downstairs,' I thought,
'and I'll go out and walk away!'  Where?  I knew that Andronikov
had moved to Petersburg, and I resolved that I would look for Mme.
Fanariotov's house in Arbaty; 'I'll spend the night walking or
sitting somewhere, and in the morning I'll ask some one in the
courtyard of the house, where Andrey Petrovitch is now, and if not
in Moscow, in what town or country.  They will be sure to tell me.
I'll walk away, and then ask some one, somewhere else, by which
gate to go out to reach such a town; and then I'll go and walk and
walk, I shall keep on walking; I shall sleep somewhere under the
bushes; I shall eat nothing but bread, and for two roubles I can
get bread enough for a long time.'

"I could not manage to run away on Saturday, however; I had to wait
till next day, Sunday, and as luck would have it, Touchard and his
wife were going away somewhere for the Sunday; there was no one
left in the house but Agafya and me.  I awaited the night in
terrible agitation, I remember.  I sat at the window in the
schoolroom, looking out at the dusty street, the little wooden
houses, and the few passers-by.  Touchard lived in an out-of-the-
way street; from the windows I could see one of the city gates;
'Isn't it the one?' I kept wondering.  The sun set in a red glow,
the sky was so cold-looking, and a piercing wind was stirring up
the dust, just as it is to-day.  It was quite dark at last; I stood
before the ikon and began to pray, only very, very quickly, I was
in haste; I caught up my bundle, and went on tip-toe down the
creaking stairs, horribly afraid that Agafya would hear me from the
kitchen.  The door was locked, I turned the key, and at once a
dark, dark night loomed black before me like a boundless perilous
unknown land, and the wind snatched off my cap.  I was just going
out on the same side of the pavement; I heard a hoarse volley of
oaths from a drunken man in the street.  I stood, looked, and
slowly turned, slowly went upstairs, slowly took off my things, put
down my little bundle and lay down flat, without tears, and without
thoughts, and it was from that moment, Andrey Petrovitch, that I
began to think.  It was from that moment that I realized that
besides being a lackey, I was a coward, too, and my real
development began!"

"Well, I see through you once and for all from this minute," cried
Tatyana Pavlovna, jumping up from her seat, and so suddenly, that I
was utterly unprepared for it; "yes, you were not only a lackey
then, you are a lackey now; you've the soul of a lackey!  Why
should not Andrey Petrovitch have apprenticed you to a shoemaker?
it would have been an act of charity to have taught you a trade!
Who would have expected more than that of him?  Your father, Makar
Ivanovitch, asked--in fact, he insisted--that you, his children,
should not be brought up to be above your station.  Why, you think
nothing of his having educated you for the university, and that
through him you have received class rights.  The little rascals
teased him, to be sure, so he has sworn to avenge himself on
humanity. . . . You scoundrel!"

I must confess I was struck dumb by this outburst, I got up and
stood for some time staring and not knowing what to say.

"Well, certainly Tatyana Pavlovna has told me something new," I
said at last, turning resolutely to Versilov; "yes, certainly I am
such a lackey that I can't be satisfied with Versilov's not having
apprenticed me to a shoemaker; even 'rights' did not touch me.  I
wanted the whole of Versilov, I wanted a father . . . that's what I
asked for--like a regular lackey.  Mother, I've had it on my
conscience for eight years--when you came to Moscow alone to see me
at Touchard's, the way I received you then, but I have no time to
speak of it now.  Tatyana Pavlovna won't let me tell my story,
Good-bye till to-morrow, mother; we may see each other again.
Tatyana Pavlovna! what if I am so utterly a lackey that I am quite
unable to admit the possibility of a man's marrying again when his
wife is alive?  Yet you know that all but happened to Andrey
Petrovitch at Ems!  Mother, if you don't want to stay with a
husband who may take another wife to-morrow, remember you have a
son who promises to be a dutiful son to you for ever; remember, and
let us go away, only on condition that it is 'either he, or I' will
you?  I don't ask you for an answer at once, of course: I know that
such questions can't be answered straight off."

But I could not go on, partly because I was excited and confused.
My mother turned pale and her voice seemed to fail her: she could
not utter a word.  Tatyana Pavlovna said something in a very loud
voice and at great length which I could not make out, and twice she
pushed me on the shoulder with her fist.  I only remember that she
shouted that "my words were a sham, the broodings of a petty soul,
counted over and turned inside out."  Versilov sat motionless and
very serious, he was not smiling.  I went upstairs to my room.  The
last thing I saw as I went out was the reproach in my sister's
eyes; she shook her head at me sternly.



I describe all these scenes without sparing myself, in order to
recall it clearly and revive the impression.  As I went up to my
attic, I did not know in the least whether I ought to be ashamed or
triumphant as though I had done my duty.  Had I been ever so little
more experienced, I should have had a misgiving that the least
doubt in such cases must be taken as a bad sign, but another fact
threw me out in my reckoning: I don't know what I was pleased
about, but I felt awfully pleased, in spite of my being uncertain,
and of my realizing distinctly that I had not come off with flying
colours downstairs.  Even Tatyana Pavlovna's spiteful abuse of me
struck me as funny and amusing and did not anger me at all.
Probably all this was because I had anyway broken my chains and for
the first time felt myself free.

I felt, too, that I had weakened my position: how I was to act in
regard to the letter about the inheritance was more obscure than
ever.  Now it would be certainly taken for granted that I was
revenging myself on Versilov.  But while all this discussion was
going on downstairs I had made up my mind to submit the question of
the letter to an impartial outsider and to appeal to Vassin for his
decision, or, failing Vassin, to take it to some one else.  I had
already made up my mind to whom.  I would go to see Vassin once,
for that occasion only, I thought to myself, and then--then I would
vanish for a long while, for some months, from the sight of all,
especially of Vassin.  Only my mother and sister I might see
occasionally.  It was all inconsistent and confused; I felt that I
had done something, though not in the right way, and I was
satisfied: I repeat, I was awfully pleased anyway.

I meant to go to bed rather early, foreseeing I should have a lot
to do next day.  Besides finding a lodging and moving, I had
another project which in one way or another I meant to carry out.
But the evening was not destined to end without surprises, and
Versilov succeeded in astonishing me extremely.  He had certainly
never been into my attic, and lo and behold, before I had been an
hour in my room I heard his footsteps on the ladder: he called to
me to show a light.  I took a candle, and stretching out my hand,
which he caught hold of, I helped him up.

"Merci, my dear fellow; I've never climbed up here before, not even
when I took the lodgings.  I imagined what sort of place it was,
but I never supposed it was quite such a hole as this."  He stood
in the middle of my attic, looking around with curiosity.  "Why,
this is a coffin, a regular coffin."

It really had a resemblance to the inside of a coffin, and I
positively admired the way he had described it in one word.  It was
a long narrow box of a room, the ceiling sloped away from the wall
at the height of my shoulder, and the top of it was within easy
reach of my hand.  Versilov unconsciously stood stooping, afraid of
hitting his head against the ceiling; he did not knock it, however,
and, finally more or less reassured, he seated himself on the sofa,
where my bed had already been made up.  But I did not sit down, I
looked at him in the greatest amazement.

"Your mother says she does not know whether to take the money you
gave her this evening for your board for the month.  But for a
coffin like this, instead of taking your money, we ought rather to
offer you compensation!  I have never been up and . . . I can't
conceive how you can exist here!"

"I am used to it.  But what I can't get used to is seeing you in my
room after what has just happened downstairs."

"O, yes, you were distinctly rude downstairs, but . . . I, too,
have a special object which I will explain to you, though indeed
there is nothing extraordinary in my coming; even the scene
downstairs is in the regular order of things; but for mercy's sake
do explain this: what you told us downstairs after preparing us and
approaching the subject so solemnly was surely not all you meant to
disclose or communicate?  Was there really nothing else?"

"That was all, or we'll assume it was all."

"It's not much, my dear fellow: I must own that from your beginning
and the way you urged us to laugh, in fact from your eagerness to
talk, I expected more."

"But that does not matter to you, surely?"

"But I speak simply from a sense of proportion; it was not worth
making such a fuss about, it was quite disproportionate; you've
been sitting mute a whole month, preparing to speak, and when it
comes--it's nothing."

"I meant to say more, but I am ashamed of having said even that.
Not everything can be put into words, there are things it's
better never to say at all; I said a good deal, but you did not

"Why, so you, too, are sometimes distressed at the impossibility of
putting thought into words!  That's a noble sorrow, my dear fellow,
and it's only vouchsafed to the elect: the fool is always satisfied
with what he has said, and always, too, says more than he need;
they love to have something to spare."

"As I see I did, for instance; I said more than I need: I asked for
the 'whole of Versilov,' that was a great deal too much; I don't
need Versilov at all."

"My dear fellow, I see you want to retrieve your failure downstairs.
It is very evident you repent it, and as repentance among us always
involves immediately attacking some one, you are very anxious to hit
hard this time.  I have come too soon, and you have not yet cooled
down, and besides you are not very good at standing criticism.  But
sit down, for mercy's sake; I have come to tell you something; thank
you, that's right.  From what you said to your mother, as you went
out, it's quite clear that it is better for us to separate.  I have
come to persuade you to do so as gently and with as little fuss as
possible, to avoid grieving and alarming your mother any further.
My coming up here even has cheered her.  She believes in a way that
we may still be reconciled and that everything will go on as before.
I imagine that if we were to laugh heartily once or twice we should
fill their timid hearts with delight.  They may be simple souls, but
they are sincere and true- hearted in their love.  Why not humour
them on occasion?  Well, that's one thing.  Another thing: why
should we necessarily part thirsting for revenge, gnashing our
teeth, vowing vengeance, etc.  Of course there is no manner of need
to fall on each other's necks, but we might part, so to say, with
mutual respect, mightn't we?"

"That's all nonsense!  I promise to go away without a fuss--and
that's enough.  And is it for my mother's sake you are anxious?
But it strikes me that my mother's peace of mind has absolutely
nothing to do with it, and you are simply saying that."

"You don't believe it?"

"You talk to me just as though I were a baby."

"I am ready to beg your pardon a thousand times over for that, in
fact for everything you bring up against me, for those years of
your childhood and the rest of it, but, cher enfant, what will be
the use of it?  You are too clever to want to be put into such a
stupid position.  To say nothing of my not understanding, so far,
the exact nature of your accusations.  What is it you blame me for
in reality?  For your not having been born a Versilov?  Bah!  You
laugh contemptuously and wave your hands, so that's not it?"

"No, I assure you.  I assure you I don't think it an honour to be
called Versilov."

"Let's leave honour out of the question; and, besides, your answer
was bound to be democratic; but if so, what are you blaming me

"Tatyana Pavlovna told me just now all I needed to know, and had
always failed to grasp, till she spoke.  That is, that you did not
apprentice me to a shoemaker, and that consequently I had to be
grateful, too.  I can't understand why it is I am not grateful,
even now, even after I have been taught my lesson.  Isn't it the
pride of your race showing itself in me, Andrey Petrovitch?"

"Probably not, and apart from that, you must admit that by your
sallies downstairs you've only bullied and tormented your mother
instead of crushing me, as you intended.  Yet I should have thought
it was not for you to judge her.  Besides, what wrong has she done
you?  Explain to me, too, by the way, my dear fellow: for what
reason and with what object did you spread abroad that you were
illegitimate, at your boarding school and at the grammar school,
and everywhere you have been, to every casual stranger, as I hear
you have?  I hear that you did this with a peculiar relish.  And
yet that's all nonsense, and a revolting calumny: you are
legitimate, a Dolgoruky, the son of Makar Ivanovitch Dolgoruky, a
respectable man, remarkable for his intelligence and character.
That you have received a superior education is entirely owing to
your former master, Versilov, and what's the upshot of it?  By
proclaiming your illegitimacy, which is a calumny in itself, you
first and foremost gave away your mother's secret, and from a false
pride exposed your mother to the criticism of every dirty stranger.
My dear fellow, that was very discreditable, especially as your
mother is in no way to blame: she has a nature of the greatest
purity, and that her name is not Versilov is simply because her
husband is still living."

"Enough, I entirely agree with you, and I have enough faith in your
intelligence to hope that you won't go on rating at me too long for
it.  You are so fond of moderation; and yet there's a moderation in
all things, even in your sudden love for my mother.  I'll tell you
what would be better: since you have gone so far as to come up and
see me and mean to spend a quarter of an hour or half an hour with
me (I still don't know what for, we'll assume for my mother's peace
of mind), and what's more, in spite of the scene downstairs, seem
so eager to talk to me, you had better tell me about my father--
tell me about Makar Ivanovitch the pilgrim.  I want to hear from
you about him: I have been intending to ask you for some time past.
Now that we are parting perhaps for a long time, I should very much
like to get from you an answer to another question: has it really
been impossible for you during these twenty years to affect my
mother's traditional ideas--and now my sister's, too--so as to
dissipate by your civilizing influence the primitive darkness of
her environment?  Oh, I am not speaking of the purity of her
nature.  She's infinitely nobler than you, morally anyway, excuse
my saying so . . . but she's only an infinitely noble corpse.
Versilov is the only one living, everything else about him and
everything connected with him exists only on the express condition
of having the honour to nourish him with its force, its living sap.
But I suppose she, too, was once alive, wasn't she?  I suppose you
loved something in her, didn't you?  I suppose she was once a

"My dear fellow, she never was, if you will have it," he assured
me, at once dropping into his habitual manner with me, with which I
was so familiar, and by which I was so enraged, that is he was
apparently all sincerity and open-heartedness, but if one looked
more closely there was nothing in him but the deepest irony: "she
never was.  The Russian woman never is a woman."

"Is the Polish woman, the French woman?  Or the Italian, the
passionate Italian, that's the sort to fascinate the civilized
upper-class Russian of the type of Versilov?"

"Well, I certainly did not expect to meet a Slavophil," laughed

I remember his story, word for word: he began talking with great
readiness indeed, and with evident pleasure.  It was quite clear to
me, that he had come up not to have a gossip with me, and not to
pacify my mother either, but with some other object.


"Your mother and I have spent these twenty years together in
silence," he began, prattling on (it was utterly affected and
unnatural), "and all that passed between us took place in silence.
The chief characteristic of our twenty years' connection has been
its--dumbness.  I believe we have never once quarrelled.  It is
true I have often gone away and left her alone, but it has always
ended in my coming back.  Nous revenons toujours; indeed, it's a
fundamental characteristic of men; it's due to their magnanimity.
If marriage depended on women alone, not a single marriage would
last.  Meekness, submissiveness, self-abasement, and at the same
time firmness, strength, real strength, that's your mother's
character.  Take note, that she's the best of all the women I've
met in my life.  And that she has strength I can bear witness: I
have seen how that strength has supported her.  When it's a matter,
I won't say of convictions--convictions are out of the question--
but what they look upon as convictions, and so, to their thinking,
sacred, she is ready to face torture.  Well, I leave you to judge,
whether I am much like a torturer.  That's why I have preferred to
remain silent about almost everything, and not simply because it
was more convenient, and I confess I don't regret it.  In this way
our life has gone on of itself on broad and humane lines, so that
indeed I take no credit to myself for it.  I must say by the way in
parenthesis, that for some reason she never believed in my
humanity, and so was always in a tremor; but, though she has
trembled, she has never given in to any advanced ideas.  They are
so good at that, while we never understand that sort of thing, and
in fact they are much better at managing things for themselves than
we are.  They are able to go on living their own lives in positions
most unnatural to them, and in positions most strange to them they
remain always the same.  But we can't do that."

"Who are 'they'?  I don't quite understand you."

"The people, my dear fellow, I'm speaking of the common people.
They have shown their great living force, and their historical
breadth both morally and politically.  But, to come back to
ourselves, I may remark about your mother, that she is not always
dumb; your mother sometimes speaks, but she speaks in such a way
that you see at once that you simply waste time in talking to her,
even though you might have been preparing her for five years
beforehand.  Moreover, she makes the most unexpected objections.
Note again, that I am far from calling her a fool; on the contrary,
she has intelligence of a sort, and even remarkable intelligence;
though perhaps you will not believe in her intelligence. . . ."

"Why not?  What I don't believe is that you really believe in her
intelligence yourself, and are not pretending."

"Yes?  You look upon me as such a chameleon?  My dear fellow,
I am allowing you a little too much licence . . . like a spoilt
son. . . .  So be it for the time."

"Tell me if you can the truth about my father."

"About Makar Ivanovitch?  Makar Ivanovitch was, as you are aware,
a house-serf, who, so to speak, had a yearning for glory of a
sort. . . ."

"I bet that at this minute you feel envious of him!"

"On the contrary, my dear fellow, on the contrary, and if you like
I am very glad to see you in such a flippant mood; I swear that I
am in a penitent frame of mind, and just now, at this moment, I
regret a thousand times over all that happened twenty years ago.
And besides, God knows, it all happened quite accidentally . . .
well, and, so far as in me lay, humanely too;--as I conceived of an
act of humanity in those days anyway.  Oh, in those days we were
all boiling over with zeal for doing good, for serving the public
weal, for a higher ideal; we disapproved of class distinctions, of
the privileges of our rank, of our property and even of usury, at
least some of us did. . . .  I declare we did.  There were not many
of us, but we said good things, and sometimes, I assure you, did
good things, too."

"That was when you sobbed on his shoulder."

"I am ready to agree with you on every point beforehand.  By the
way, you heard of that shoulder from me, and so, at this moment,
you are making spiteful use of my frankness and confidence in you;
but you must admit that there was not so much harm in that episode
as might seem at the first glance, especially for that period.  To
be sure we were only making a beginning then.  Of course it was a
pose, but I did not know at the time that it was a pose.  Have you,
for instance, never posed in practical affairs?"

"I was rather sentimental downstairs, just now, and as I came up
here I felt horribly ashamed at the thought that you might imagine
I had been posing.  It is true in some cases, though one's feelings
are sincere, one makes a display of one's feelings.  I swear that
everything I said downstairs was absolutely genuine."

"That's exactly it; you have very successfully defined it in a
phrase, 'though one's feelings are sincere one makes a display of
one's self'; but do you know it was just the same with me.  Though
I was making a display of them, my sobs were perfectly genuine.  I
don't deny that Makar Ivanovitch might, if he had been wittily
disposed, have looked upon my sobs as the climax of mockery, but in
those days he was too honest to be so clear-sighted.  I don't know
whether he felt sorry for me or not.  I remember that I had a great
desire that he should."

"Do you know," I interrupted him, "you're jeering now when you say
that?  And in fact, all this last month whenever you have talked to
me, you have been jeering.  Why have you done so, whenever you have
talked with me?"

"You think so?" he answered mildly; "you are very suspicious;
however, if I do laugh it's not at you, or, at least not only at
you, don't be uneasy.  But I am not laughing now, and then--in
short I did everything I could then, and, believe me, not for my
personal advantage.  We, that is, superior people, unlike the
common people, do not know how to act for our personal advantage:
on the contrary, we made a mess of it as far as we possibly could,
and I suspect that that was considered among us in those days 'our
higher advantage,' in an exalted sense of course.  The present
generation of advanced people are much keener on the main chance
than we were.  Even before our 'sin' I explained the whole position
to Makar Ivanovitch with extraordinary directness.  I am ready to
admit now, that a great deal need not have been explained at all,
especially with such directness; to say nothing of humanity it
would have been far more polite, but . . . but there's no pulling
up when you once begin dancing, and want to cut a fine caper.  And
perhaps our cravings for the fine and exalted only amount to that
in reality.  All my life I have never been able to make up my mind
about it.  However, that is too deep a subject for our superficial
conversation, but I assure you I am sometimes ready to die with
shame, when I recall it.  I offered him at the time three thousand
roubles, and I remember he did not say a word and I did all the
talking.  Only fancy, I imagined that he was afraid of me, that is
of my rights of ownership over him, and I remember I did my utmost
to reassure him; I kept trying to persuade him to have no
apprehension, but to tell me his wishes frankly and without sparing
me.  By way of guarantee I promised him, that if he did not accept
my terms, that is three thousand with freedom (for himself and his
wife, of course)--and a journey wherever he pleased (without his
wife, of course)--then let him say so straight out, and I would at
once give him his freedom, let his wife go, and compensate them
both with the same three thousand, I believe, and they should not
go away from me, but I would go away myself in solitude for three
years to Italy.  Mon ami, I should not have taken Mlle. Sapozhkov
with me to Italy, you may be sure of that.  I was extremely pure at
that epoch.  And, do you know, Makar Ivanovitch knew perfectly well
that I should do as I promised; but he still remained silent, and
only when I was about to throw myself on his neck, for the third
time, he drew back, waved his hand, and went out of the room with a
certain lack of ceremony, indeed, which I assure you surprised me
at the time.  I caught a glimpse of myself in the looking-glass and
I can't forget it.

"As a rule when they don't speak it's worst of all, and he was a
gloomy character, and I must confess that far from feeling sure of
him I was awfully afraid of him, when I summoned him to my study.
In that class there are types, and many of them, who are, so to
speak, the very incarnation of all that's ill-bred, and one's more
afraid of that than a beating.  Sic.  And what a risk I was
running, what a risk!  Why, what if he had begun shouting for all
the servants to hear, had howled, this village Uriah, what would
have become of me, such a juvenile David, and what should I have
done then?  That's why I trotted out the three thousand first of
all, that was instinctive; but luckily I was mistaken: this Makar
Ivanovitch was something quite different."

"Tell me, had you 'sinned' then?  You said just now that you
summoned the husband beforehand."

"Well, do you see . . . that is . . . as one understands it. . . ."

"Oh, you had then.  You said just now you were mistaken in him,
that he was something different; how different?"

"Well, how exactly I don't know to this day, but somehow different,
and, do you know, positively very decent.  I think so because in
the end I felt more than ever ashamed to face him.  Next day he
agreed to the journey, without any words, but without, of course,
forgetting one of the inducements I had offered him."

"He took the money?"

"I should think so!  And you know, my dear fellow, in that point he
surprised me too.  I had not, of course, three thousand at the time
in my pocket, but I procured seven hundred and handed it over to
him as the first instalment; and what do you think?  He demanded
the remaining two thousand three hundred from me in the form of a
credit note made payable to a certain merchant for security.  And
two years later, by means of that credit note, he got the money out
of me before a court, and with interest too, so that he surprised
me again, especially as he had literally gone collecting funds for
building a church, and has been a pilgrim ever since, that is, for
the last twenty years.  I don't understand what a pilgrim should
want money of his own for . . . money which is such a worldly
thing. . . .  I offered the money at the minute of course with
perfect sincerity, and, so to speak, in the first flush of feeling,
but afterwards, after the lapse of so many minutes, I might
naturally have thought better of it . . . and might have reckoned
that he would spare me . . . or, so to say, spare US, me and her,
and would have waited for a time at least.  But he lost no time
however. . . ."

Here I must make a necessary note.  If my mother were to outlive M.
Versilov, she would have been left literally without a farthing in
her old age, had it not been for Makar Ivanovitch's three thousand,
which had been doubled long ago by the accumulation of interest,
and which he had the previous year left her intact in his will.  He
had seen through Versilov even in those days.

"You told me once that Makar Ivanovitch had come several times on a
visit to you, and always stayed at mother's lodgings?"

"Yes, my dear boy: and I must confess at first I was awfully
frightened of these visits.  He has come six or seven times
altogether during this period, that is, the last twenty years, and
on the first occasions I used to hide myself if I were in the house
when he arrived.  At first I could not make out what it meant, and
why he had turned up.  But afterwards I thought that from certain
points of view it was by no means so stupid on his part.
Afterwards it somehow occurred to me to feel curious about him; I
came out to have a look at him, and formed, I assure you, a very
original impression of him.  This was on his third or fourth visit,
at the time when I had just been appointed a mediator, and when, of
course, I was getting all my energies to work to study Russia.  I
heard from him a very great deal that was new to me.  I found in
him, besides, what I had never expected to find: a sort of benign
serenity, an evenness of temper, and what was more surprising than
anything, something almost like gaiety.  Not the faintest allusion
to THAT (tu comprends) and a very great capacity for talking sense,
and talking extremely well, that is, with none of that silly
servantish profundity, which I confess to you I can't endure,
democratic as I am, and with none of those far-fetched Russian
expressions which 'the genuine Russian peasant' makes use of in
novels and on the stage.  At the same time very little about
religion, unless one begins upon the subject, and most charming
descriptions of the monastery and monastic life, if one asks
questions about it.  And above all--respectfulness, that modest
courtesy, just that courtesy which is essential for the truest
equality, and without which, indeed, in my opinion, one cannot be
really superior.  The truest good-breeding is in such cases
attained through the complete absence of conceit, and the man shows
himself secure in his self-respect in his own station of life
whatever that may be, and whatever fate may befall him.  This power
of respecting one's self in one's own position is extremely rare,
as rare, anyway, as real personal dignity. . . .  You will see that
for yourself if you live long enough.  But what struck me most of
all, especially later on, and not at the beginning," added
Versilov, "was the fact that this Makar had an extraordinary
stateliness, and was, I assure you, very handsome.  It is true he
was old, but--

          Dark visaged, tall, erect,

simple and dignified; I actually wondered how my poor Sonia could
have preferred me THEN; at that time he was fifty, but he was still
a fine fellow, and compared with him I was such a.  featherhead.  I
remember, however, that he was unpardonably grey even then; so he
must have been just as grey-headed when he married her. . . .
Perhaps that had an influence."

Versilov had a very nasty aristocratic trick: after saying (when he
could not help it) some particularly clever and fine things, he
would all at once intentionally cap them with some stupid saying
such as this remark about Makar Ivanovitch's grey hair, and the
influence it had on my mother.  He did this on purpose, probably
without knowing why he did it, from a silly snobbish habit.  To
hear him, one would suppose he was speaking quite seriously, and
all the while he was posing to himself, or laughing.


I don't know why but I was suddenly overcome by an intense
exasperation.  In fact, I recall with extreme dissatisfaction some
of my behaviour during those minutes; I suddenly got up from my

"I tell you what," I said: "you say you came up chiefly that my
mother might imagine we were reconciled.  Time enough has passed
for her to imagine it; will you be so good as to leave me alone?"

He flushed slightly and got up from his place.

"My dear boy, you are extremely unceremonious with me.  However,
good-bye; there is no winning love by force.  I will only venture
upon one question: do you really want to leave the prince?"

"Aha!  I knew you had some object in your mind. . . ."

"That is, you suspect I came up to induce you to stay with the
prince, for some purpose of my own.  But do you suppose, my dear
fellow, that I sent for you from Moscow for some purpose of my own?
Oh! how suspicious you are.  On the contrary, I was anxious for
your good in every way.  And even now, since my position has so
improved, I should have liked you to let me and your mother help
you sometimes."

"I don't like you, Versilov."

"And 'Versilov' too!  By the way, I greatly regret that I can't
transmit you the name, seeing that in reality constitutes my whole
offence, if offence there is, doesn't it? but again I couldn't
marry a married woman, could I?"

"That was why, I suppose, you wanted to marry an unmarried one?"

A slight spasm passed over his face.

"You are thinking of Ems.  Listen, Arkady, you went so far as to
allude to that downstairs, pouring contempt upon me before your
mother.  You must know that that's where you make your greatest
mistake.  You know nothing whatever of what happened with Lidya
Ahmakov.  You don't know how much your mother had to do with it
all, although she was not with me at the time, and if I have ever
seen a good woman it was when I looked at your mother then.  But
that's enough; all that is a secret still, and you--you talk of
what you don't know, and have heard about from outsiders."

"Only to-day the prince told me that you have a special fancy for
unfledged girls."

"The prince said that?"

"Yes, listen, would you like me to tell you exactly what you have
come up to me for?  I have been sitting here all this time
wondering what was the secret object of this visit, and now I
believe I've guessed it."

He was just going out, but he stopped and turned to me in

"I blurted out just now that Touchard's letter to Tatyana Pavlovna
was among Andronikov's papers, and at his death came into the hands
of Marie Ivanovna.  I saw how your face suddenly twitched, and I
only guessed why just now, when your face twitched again in the
same way.  The idea suddenly occurred to you that if one letter in
Andronikov's keeping had come into Marie Ivanovna's hands, why
shouldn't another?  And Andronikov might have left very important
letters, mightn't he?"

"So I came up here hoping to make you talk about it?"

"You know that yourself."

He turned very pale.

"You did not imagine that of yourself; there's a woman's influence
in it; and what hatred there is in your words--in your coarse

"A woman?  I have seen that woman for the first time today!
Perhaps it's just to spy on her you want me to stay on with the old

"I see, though, that you will do well in your new line.  Isn't
that perhaps 'your idea'?  Go on, my dear fellow, you have an
unmistakable gift for detective work.  Given talent, one must
perfect it."

He paused to take breath.

"Take care, Versilov, don't make me your enemy!"

"My dear fellow, in such cases no one gives utterance to his last
thoughts, but keeps them to himself.  And with that, show me a
light, if you please; though you are my enemy you are not so much
so as to want me to break my neck, I suppose.  Tiens, mon ami, only
fancy," he went on, as he descended the ladder, "all this month I
have been taking you for a good-natured fellow.  You so want to
live and are so thirsting for life that I do believe three lives
would not be enough for you: one can see that in your face, and
people like that are generally good-natured.  And how mistaken I've


I can't express how my heart ached when I was left alone; it was as
though I had cut off a piece of my own living flesh!  Why I had so
suddenly lost my temper, and why I had so insulted him--so
persistently and intentionally--I couldn't say now; nor could I at
the time, of course.  And how pale he had turned!  And who knows,
perhaps that paleness was the expression of the truest and purest
feeling and the deepest sorrow, and not of anger or of offence.  I
always fancied that there had been a moment when he really loved
me.  Why, why could I not believe that now, especially when so much
had been made clear?

I had flown into a sudden fury and actually driven him away, partly
perhaps by my sudden guess that he had come to find out whether
there were not another letter left by Andronikov in Marie
Ivanovna's possession.  That he must have been on the lookout for
those letters, and that he was on the look-out for them I knew.
But who knows, perhaps at that minute I had made a horrible
blunder!  And who knows, perhaps, by that blunder I had led him to
think of Marie Ivanovna and the possibility of her having letters.

And finally, there was something else that was strange: again he
had repeated word for word my own thought (about three lives),
which I had expressed to Kraft that evening, and, what is more, in
my very words.  The coincidence was of course a chance again, but
how he knew the inmost core of my nature; what insight, what
penetration!  But if he so well understood one thing, why was it he
utterly failed to understand something else?  Was it possible he
was not pretending, could he really be incapable of divining that
it was not the noble rank of a Versilov I wanted, that it was not
my birth I could not forgive him, but that all my life I had wanted
Versilov himself, the whole man, the father, and that this idea had
become part of myself.  Was it possible that so subtle a man could
be so crude and so stupid?  And if not, why did he drive me to
fury, why did he pretend?



I tried to get up as early as possible in the morning.  As a rule
we, that is my mother, my sister and I, used to get up about eight
o'clock.  Versilov used to lie comfortably in bed till half-past
nine.  Punctually at half-past eight my mother used to bring me up
my coffee.  But this time I slipped out of the house at eight
o'clock without waiting for it.  I had the day before mapped out
roughly my plan of action for the whole of this day.  In spite of
my passionate resolve to carry out this plan I felt that there was
a very great deal of it that was uncertain and indefinite in its
most essential points.  That was why I lay all night in a sort of
half-waking state; I had an immense number of dreams, as though I
were light-headed, and I hardly fell asleep properly all night.  In
spite of that I got up feeling fresher and more confident than
usual.  I was particularly anxious not to meet my mother.  I could
not have avoided speaking to her on a certain subject, and I was
afraid of being distracted from the objects I was pursuing by some
new and unexpected impression.

It was a cold morning and a damp, milky mist hovered over
everything.  I don't know why, but I always like the early workaday
morning in Petersburg in spite of its squalid air; and the self-
centred people, always absorbed in thought, and hurrying on their
affairs, have a special attraction for me at eight o'clock in the
morning.  As I hasten on my road I particularly like either asking
some one a practical question, or being asked one by some passer-
by: both question and answer are always brief, clear, and to the
point; they are spoken without stopping and almost always in a
friendly manner, and there is a greater readiness to answer than at
any other hour.  In the middle of the day, or in the evening, the
Petersburger is far more apt to be abusive or jeering.  It is quite
different early in the morning, before work has begun, at the
soberest and most serious hour of the day.  I have noticed that.

I set off again for the Petersburg Side.  As I had to be back in
Fontanka by twelve o'clock to see Vassin (who was always more
likely to be at home at midday), I hurried on without stopping,
though I had a great longing to have a cup of coffee.  It was
absolutely necessary to find Efim Zvyerev at home too; I went to
him and almost missed him; he had finished his coffee and was just
ready to go out.

"What brings you here so often?" was how he greeted me without
getting up from his seat.

"I will explain that directly."

The early morning everywhere, including Petersburg, has a sobering
effect on a man's nature.  Some of the passionate dreams of night
evaporate completely with the light and chill of morning, and it
has happened to me myself sometimes to recall in the morning my
dreams and even my actions of the previous night, with shame and
self-reproach.  But I will remark, however, in passing, I consider
a Petersburg morning--which might be thought the most prosaic on
the terrestrial globe--almost the most fantastic in the world.
That is my personal view, or rather impression, but I am prepared
to defend it.  On such a Petersburg morning, foul, damp and foggy,
the wild dream of some Herman out of Pushkin's "Queen of Spades" (a
colossal figure, an extraordinary and regular Petersburg type--the
type of the Petersburg period!) would, I believe, be more like
solid reality.  A hundred times over, in such a fog, I have been
haunted by a strange but persistent fancy:  "What if this fog should
part and float away, would not all this rotten and slimy town go
with it, rise up with the fog, and vanish like smoke, and the old
Finnish marsh be left as before, and in the midst of it, perhaps,
to complete the picture, a bronze horseman on a panting, overdriven
steed."  In fact I cannot find words for my sensations, for all
this is fantastic after all--poetic, and therefore nonsensical;
nevertheless I have often been and often am haunted by an utterly
senseless question:  "Here they are all flitting to and fro, but how
can one tell, perhaps all this is some one's dream, and there is
not one real person here, nor one real action.  Some one who is
dreaming all this will suddenly wake up--and everything will
suddenly disappear."  But I am digressing.

I must say by way of preface that there are projects and dreams in
every one's experience so eccentric that they might well be taken
at first sight for madness.  It was with such a phantasy in my mind
that I arrived that morning at Efim's,--I went to Efim because I
had no one else in Petersburg to whom I could apply on this
occasion.  Yet Efim was the last person to whom I should have gone
with such a proposition if I had had any choice.  When I was
sitting opposite him, I was actually struck myself with the thought
that I was the incarnation of fever and delirium, sitting opposite
the incarnation of prose and the golden mean.  Yet on my side there
was an idea and true feeling, while on his there was nothing but
the practical conviction, that things were not done like that.  In
short I explained to him briefly and clearly that I had absolutely
no one else in Petersburg whom I could send by way of a second in
matter vitally affecting my honour; that he, Efim, was an old
comrade, and therefore had no right to refuse, and that I wanted to
challenge a lieutenant in the Guards, Prince Sokolsky, because more
than a year ago he had given my father a slap in the face at Ems.
I may mention by the way that Efim knew all the details of my
family circumstances, my relations with Versilov, and almost all
that I knew myself of Versilov's career; I had on various occasions
talked to him of my private affairs, except, of course, of certain
secrets.  He sat and listened as his habit was, all ruffling up his
feathers like a sparrow in a cage, silent and serious, with his
puffy face and his untidy, flaxen-white hair.  A set smile of
mockery never left his lips.  This smile was all the nastier for
being quite unintentional and unconscious; it was evident that he
genuinely and sincerely considered himself at that moment vastly
superior to me in intellect and character.  I suspected, too, that
he despised me for the scene the evening before at Dergatchev's;
that was bound to be so.  Efim was the crowd, Efim was the man in
the street, and the man in the street has no reverence for anything
but success.

"And Versilov knows nothing of this?" he asked.

"Of course not."

"Then what right have you to meddle in his affairs?  That's the
first question.  And the second one is, what do you want to show by

I was prepared for the objection, and at once explained to him that
it was not so stupid as he supposed.  To begin with, the insolent
prince would be shown that there are people, even in our class, who
know what is meant by honour; and secondly, Versilov would be put
to shame and learn a lesson.  And in the third place, what mattered
most of all, even if Versilov had been right in refusing to
challenge him in accordance with his convictions at the time, he
would see that there was some one who was capable of feeling the
insult to him so keenly that he accepted it as an insult to
himself, and was prepared to lay down his life for his, Versilov's,
interests . . . although he was leaving him for ever. . . .

"Wait a minute, don't shout, my aunt does not like it.  Tell me, is
it this same Prince Sokolsky that Versilov is at law with about a
will?  If so, this will be quite a new and original way of winning
a lawsuit--to kill your opponent in a duel."

I explained to him en toutes lettres, that he was simply silly and
impertinent, and that if his sarcastic grin was growing broader and
broader, it only showed his conceit and commonplaceness, and that
he was incapable of imagining that I had had the lawsuit in my mind
from the very beginning, and that reflection on that subject was
not confined to his sagacity.  Then I informed him that the case
was already decided, and, moreover, it had not been brought by
Prince Sokolsky but by the Princes Sokolsky, so that if a Prince
Sokolsky were killed the others would be left, but that no doubt it
would be necessary to put off the challenge till the end of the
time within which an appeal was possible, not that the Solkoskys
would as a fact appeal, but simply as a matter of good form.  When
the latest possible date for an appeal had passed, the challenge
would follow; that I had come about it now, not that the duel would
take place immediately, but that I must be prepared at any rate in
time to find a second, if he, Efim, refused, as I knew no one.
That was why, I said, I had come.

"Well, come and talk about it then, or else you'll be leading us a
wild-goose chase."

He stood up and took his cap.

"So you'll go then?"

"No, of course I won't."

"Why not?"

"Well, for one reason if I agreed now that I would go then, you
would begin hanging about here every evening till the time for the
appeal was over.  And besides, it's simply nonsense, and that's all
about it.  And am I going to mess up my career for you?  Why,
Prince Sokolsky will ask me at once:  'Who sent you?'--'Dolgoruky'--
'And what's Dolgoruky got to do with Versilov?'  And am I to
explain your pedigree to him, pray?  Why, he'd burst out laughing!"

"Then you give him a punch in the face!"

"But it's all gibberish."

"You're afraid!  You so tall and the strongest at the grammar

"I'm afraid, of course, I am afraid.  Besides, the prince won't
fight, for they only fight their equals."

"I am a gentleman, too, by education.  I have rights, I am his
equal . . . on the contrary, he is not my equal."

"You are a small boy."

"How a small boy?"

"Just a small boy; we are both boys but he is grown up."

"You fool!  But I might have been married a year ago by the law."

"Well, get married then, but anyway you are a ----! you will grow
up one day!"

I saw, of course, that he thought fit to jeer at me.  I might not
indeed have told all this foolish episode, and it would have been
better in fact for it to have perished in obscurity; besides, it's
revolting in its pettiness and gratuitousness, though it had rather
serious consequences.

But to punish myself still further I will describe it fully.
Realizing that Efim was jeering at me, I permitted myself to push
him on the shoulder with my right hand, or rather my right fist.
Then he took me by the shoulder, turned me upside down and--proved
to me conclusively that he was the strongest of us at the grammar


The reader will doubtless imagine that I was in a terrible state of
mind when I came out from Efim's; he will be mistaken, however.  I
quite realized that what had happened was only schoolboyishness,
but the gravity of my purpose remained unchanged.  I got some
coffee at Vassilyevsky Island, purposely avoiding the restaurant I
had been at the evening before on the Petersburg Side; the
restaurant and its nightingale were doubly hateful to me.  It is a
strange characteristic of mine that I am capable of hating places
and things as though they were people.  On the other hand I have
happy places in Petersburg, that is places where I have at some
time or other been happy.  And I am careful of those places, and
purposely avoid visiting them as far as possible, that later on
when I am alone and unhappy I may go back to them to brood over my
griefs and my memories.  Over my coffee I did full justice to Efim
and his common sense.  Yes, he was more practical than I was, but I
doubt whether he was in closer touch with reality.  A realism that
refuses to look beyond the end of its nose is more dangerous than
the maddest romanticism, because it is blind.  But while I did
justice to Efim (who probably at that moment imagined that I was
wandering about the streets swearing)--I did not give up one point
in my convictions, and I have not to this day.  I have seen people
who at the first bucket of cold water have abandoned their course
of action, and even their idea, and begun laughing themselves at
what an hour before they looked upon as sacred.  Oh, how easily
that is done!  Even if Efim were more right than I in the main, and
I were foolish beyond all foolishness and giving myself airs, yet
at the very bottom of it all there was a point of view upon which I
was right: there was something to be said on my side also, and what
is more, too, it was something they could never understand.

I reached Vassin's in Fontanka, near the Semyonovsky bridge, at
twelve o'clock punctually, but I did not find him at home.  His
work was in Vassilyevsky Island, and he was only at home at certain
fixed hours, almost always at midday.  And as it was a holiday I
made sure of finding him; not finding him I decided to wait,
although it was my first visit.

I reasoned that the matter of the letter was a question of
conscience, and in choosing Vassin to decide it I was showing him
the deepest respect, which no doubt must be flattering to him.  Of
course, I was really worried by this letter and was genuinely
persuaded of the necessity of an outside opinion; but I suspect
that I could have got out of my difficulty without any outside
help.  And what is more I was aware of that myself; I had only to
give the letter to Versilov, to put it into his hands and then let
him do what he liked with it--that would have settled it.  To set
myself up as judge, as arbitrator in a matter of this sort was
indeed utterly irregular.  By confining myself to handing over the
letter, especially in silence, I should have scored at once,
putting myself into a position of superiority over Versilov.  For
renouncing all the advantages of the inheritance as far as I was
concerned (for some part of it would have been sure, sooner or
later, to have fallen to me as Versilov's son), I should have
secured for ever a superior moral attitude in regard to Versilov's
future action.  Nobody, on the other hand, could reproach me for
ruining the Sokolskys, since the document had no decisive legal
value.  All this I thought over and made perfectly clear to myself,
sitting in Vassin's empty room, and it even occurred to me suddenly
that I had come to Vassin's, so thirsting for his advice how to
act, simply to show him what a generous and irreproachable person I
was, and so to avenge myself for my humiliation before him the
previous evening.

As I recognized all this, I felt great vexation; nevertheless I did
not go away, but sat on, though I knew for certain that my vexation
would only grow greater every five minutes.

First of all, I began to feel an intense dislike for Vassin's room.
"Show me your room and I will tell you your character," one really
may say that.  Vassin had a furnished room in a flat belonging to
people evidently poor, who let lodgings for their living and had
other lodgers besides Vassin.  I was familiar with poky apartments
of this sort, scarcely furnished, yet with pretensions to comfort:
there is invariably a soft sofa from the second-hand market, which
is dangerous to move; a washing-stand and an iron bed shut off by a
screen.  Vassin was evidently the best and the most to be depended
on of the lodgers.  Lodging-house keepers always have one such best
lodger, and particularly try to please him.  They sweep and tidy
his room more carefully, and hang lithographs over his sofa; under
the table they lay an emaciated-looking rug.  People who are fond
of stuffy tidiness and, still more, of obsequious deference in
their landladies are to be suspected.  I felt convinced that Vassin
himself was flattered by his position as best lodger.  I don't know
why, but the sight of those two tables piled up with books
gradually enraged me.  The books, the papers, the inkstand, all
were arrayed with a revolting tidiness, the ideal of which would
have coincided with the loftiest conceptions of a German landlady
and her maidservant.  There were a good many books, not merely
magazines and reviews, but real books, and he evidently read them,
and he probably sat down to read or to write with an extremely
important and precise expression.  I don't know why, but I prefer
to see books lying about in disorder.  Then, at any rate, work is
not made into a sacred rite.  No doubt Vassin was extremely polite
to his visitors, but probably every gesture he made told them
plainly, "I will spend an hour and a half with you, and afterwards,
when you go away, I'll set to work."  No doubt one might have a
very interesting conversation with him and hear something new from
him, but he would be thinking, "Here we are talking now, and I am
interesting you very much, but when you go away, I shall proceed to
something more interesting. . . ."  Yet I did not go away, but went
on sitting there.  That I had absolutely no need of his advice I
was by now thoroughly convinced.

I stayed for over an hour sitting on one of the two rush-bottom
chairs which had been placed by the window.  It enraged me, too,
that time was passing and that before evening I had to find a
lodging.  I was so bored that I felt inclined to take up a book,
but I did not.  At the very thought of distracting my mind I felt
more disgusted than ever.  For more than an hour there had been an
extraordinary silence, when I began gradually and unconsciously to
distinguish the sound of whispering, which kept growing louder, and
came from somewhere close by, the other side of a door that was
blocked up by the sofa.  There were two voices, evidently women's,
so much I could hear, but I could not distinguish the words.  And
yet I was so bored that I began to listen.  It was obvious that
they were talking earnestly and passionately, and that they were
not talking about patterns.  They were discussing or disputing
about something, or one voice was persuading, or entreating, while
the other was refusing or protesting.  They must have been other
lodgers.  I soon got tired, and my ear became accustomed to the
sound, so that though I went on listening, it was only mechanically,
and sometimes quite without remembering that I was listening, when
suddenly something extraordinary happened, as though some one had
jumped down off a chair on to both feet, or had suddenly leapt up
and stamped; then I heard a moan, then suddenly a shriek, or rather
not a shriek but an infuriated animal squeal, reckless whether it
could be overheard or not.

I rushed to the door and opened it; another door at the end of the
corridor was opened simultaneously, the door of the landlady's room
as I learned later, and from it two inquisitive faces peeped out.
The shriek, however, ceased at once, and suddenly the door next to
mine opened, and a young woman--so at least she seemed to me--
dashed out, and rushed downstairs.  The other woman, who was
elderly, tried to stop her, but did not succeed, and could only
moan after her:

"Olya, Olya, where are you going?  Och!"  But noticing our two open
doors, she promptly closed hers, leaving a crack through which she
listened till Olya's footsteps had died away completely on the
stairs.  I turned to my window.  All was silence.  It was a trivial
and perhaps ridiculous incident, and I left off thinking of it.

About a quarter of an hour later I heard in the corridor at
Vassin's door a loud and free-and-easy masculine voice.  Some one
took hold of the door-handle, and opened the door far enough for me
to see in the passage a tall man who had already obviously seen and
indeed had carefully scrutinized me, although he had not yet
entered the room, but still holding the door-handle went on talking
to the landlady at the other end of the passage.  The landlady
called back to him in a thin, piping little voice which betrayed
that he was an old acquaintance, respected and valued by her as a
visitor of consequence, and a gentleman of a merry disposition.
The merry gentleman shouted witticisms, but his theme was only the
impossibility of finding Vassin at home.  He declared that this was
his destiny from his birth up, that he would wait again as before.
And all this, no doubt, seemed the height of wit to the landlady.
Finally the visitor flung the door wide open and came in.

He was a well-dressed gentleman, evidently turned out by a good
tailor, as they say, "like a real gentleman," though there was
nothing of "the real gentleman" about him, in spite, I fancy, of
his desire to appear one.  He was not exactly free and easy, but
somehow naturally insolent, which is anyway less offensive than an
insolence practised before the looking-glass.  His brown, slightly
grizzled hair, his black eyebrows, big beard and large eyes instead
of helping to define his character, actually gave him something
universal, like every one else.  This sort of man laughs and is
ready to laugh, but for some reason one is never cheerful in his
company.  He quickly passes from a jocular to a dignified air, from
dignity to playfulness or winking, but all this seems somehow put
on and causeless. . . .  However, there is no need to describe him
further.  I came later on to know this gentleman more intimately,
and therefore I have a more definite impression of him now than
when he opened the door and came into the room.  However, even now
I should find it difficult to say anything exact or definite about
him, because the chief characteristic of such people is just their
incompleteness, their artificiality and their indefiniteness.

He had scarcely sat down when it dawned upon me that he must be
Vassin's stepfather, one M. Stebelkov, of whom I had already heard
something, but so casually that I couldn't tell what it was: I
could only remember that it was not to his advantage.  I knew that
Yassin had long ago been left an orphan under this gentleman's
control, but that for some years past he had not been under his
influence, that their aims and interests were different, and that
they lived entirely separated in all respects.  It came back to my
mind, too, that this Stebelkov had some money, that he was, indeed,
something of a speculator and spendthrift; in fact I had probably
heard something more definite about him, but I have forgotten.  He
looked me up and down, without bowing to me, however, put his top
hat down on a table in front of the sofa, kicked away the table
with an air of authority, and instead of quietly sitting down,
flung himself full length on the sofa (on which I had not ventured
to sit) so that it positively creaked, and dangling his legs held
his right foot up in the air and began admiring the tip of his
patent-leather boot.  Of course he turned at once to me and stared
at me with his big and rather fixed-looking eyes.

"I don't find him in," he gave me a slight nod.

I did not speak.

"Not punctual!  He has his own ideas.  From the Petersburg Side?"

"You mean you've come from the Petersburg Side?" I asked him in my

"No, I asked whether you had."

"I . . . yes, I have . . . but how did you know?"

"How did I know?  H'm!"  He winked, but did not deign to explain.

"I don't live on the Petersburg Side, but I've just been there and
have come from there."

He remained silent, still with the same significant smile, which I
disliked extremely.  There was something stupid in his winking.

"From M. Dergatchev's?" he said at last.

"From Dergatchev's?"  I opened my eyes.  He gazed at me
triumphantly.  "I don't know him."


"Well, as you please," I answered.  I began to loathe him.

"H'm. . . .  To be sure.  No, excuse me: you buy a thing at a shop,
at another shop next door another man buys something else, and
what, do you suppose?  Money from a tradesman who is called a
money-lender . . . for money too is an article of sale, and a
money-lender is a tradesman too. . . .  You follow me?"

"Certainly I follow."

"A third purchaser comes along, and pointing to one shop, he says,
'This is sound.'  Then he points to the other shop and says, 'This
is unsound.'  What am I to conclude about this purchaser?"

"How can I tell."

"No, excuse me.  I'll take an example, man lives by good example.
I walk along the Nevsky Prospect, and observe on the other side of
the street a gentleman whose character I should like to investigate
more closely.  We walk, one each side of the street as far as the
gate leading to Morskaya, and there, just where the English shop
is, we observe a third gentleman, who has just been run over.  Now
mark: a fourth gentleman walks up, and wishes to investigate the
character of all three of us, including the man who has been run
over, from the point of view of practicability and soundness. . . .
Do you follow?"

"Excuse me, with great difficulty."

"Quite so; just what I thought.  I'll change the subject.  I was at
the springs in Germany, the mineral springs, as I had frequently
been before, no matter which springs.  I go to drink the waters and
see an Englishman.  It is difficult as you know to make acquaintance
with an Englishman; two months later, having finished my cure, we
were walking, a whole party of us, with alpenstocks on the mountain,
no matter what mountain.  At a pass there is an etape, the one where
the monks make Chartreuse, note that.  I meet a native standing
in solitude looking about him in silence.  I wish to form my
conclusions in regard to his soundness: what do you think, can I
apply for conclusions to the crowd of Englishmen with whom I am
travelling solely because I was unable to talk to them at the

"How can I tell?  Excuse me, it's very difficult to follow you."

"Difficult, is it?"

"Yes, you weary me."

"H'm."  He winked and made a gesture, probably intended to suggest
victory and triumph; then with stolid composure he took out of his
pocket a newspaper which he had evidently only just bought,
unfolded it and began reading the last page, apparently intending
to leave me undisturbed.  For five minutes he did not look at me.

"Brestograevskies haven't gone smash, eh!  Once they've started,
they go on!  I know a lot that have gone smash."

He looked at me with intense earnestness.

"I don't know much about the Stock Exchange so far," I answered.

"You disapprove of it."



"I don't disapprove of money but . . . but I think ideas come first
and money second."

"That is, allow me to say. . . .  Here you have a man, so to say,
with his own capital. . . ."

"A lofty idea comes before money, and a society with money but
without a lofty idea comes to grief."

I don't know why, but I began to grow hot.  He looked at me rather
blankly, as though he were perplexed, but suddenly his whole face
relaxed in a gleeful and cunning smile.

"Versilov, hey?  He's fairly scored, he has!  Judgment given
yesterday, eh?"

I suddenly perceived to my surprise that he knew who I was, and
perhaps knew a great deal more.  But I don't understand why I
flushed and stared in a most idiotic way without taking my eyes off
him.  He was evidently triumphant.  He looked at me in high glee,
as though he had found me out and caught me in the cleverest way.

"No," he said, raising both his eyebrows; "you ask me about M.
Versilov.  What did I say to you just now about soundness?  A year
and a half ago over that baby he might have made a very perfect
little job, but he came to grief."

"Over what baby?"

"The baby who is being brought up now out of the way, but he won't
gain anything by it . . . because. . . ."

"What baby?  What do you mean?"

"His baby, of course, his own by Mlle. Lidya Ahmakov. . . .  'A
charming girl very fond of me. . . .' phosphorus matches--eh?"

"What nonsense, what a wild story!  He never had a baby by Mlle.

"Go on!  I've been here and there, I've been a doctor and I've been
an accoucheur.  My name's Stebelkov, haven't you heard of me?  It's
true I haven't practised for a long time, but practical advice on a
practical matter I could give."

"You're an accoucheur . . . did you attend Mlle. Ahmakov?"

"No, I did not attend her.  In a suburb there was a doctor Granz,
burdened with a family; he was paid half a thaler, such is the
position of doctors out there, and no one knew him either, so he
was there instead of me. . . .  I recommended him, indeed, because
he was so obscure and unknown.  You follow?  I only gave practical
advice when Versilov, Andrey Petrovitch, asked for it; but he asked
me in dead secret, tete-a-tete.  But Andrey Petrovitch wanted to
catch two hares at once."

I listened in profound astonishment.

"'Chase two hares, catch neither,' according to the popular, or
rather peasant, proverb.  What I say is: exceptions continually
repeated become a general rule.  He went after another hare, or, to
speak plain Russian, after another lady, and with no results.  Hold
tight what you've got.  When he ought to be hastening a thing on,
he potters about: Versilov, that 'petticoat prophet,' as young
Prince Sokolsky well described him before me at the time.  Yes, you
had better come to me!  If there is anything you want to know about
Versilov, you had better come to me!"

He was evidently delighted at my open-mouthed astonishment.  I had
never heard anything before about a baby.  And at that moment the
door of the next room slammed as some one walked rapidly in.

"Versilov lives in Mozhaisky Street, at Litvinov's house, No. 17; I
have been to the address bureau myself!" a woman's voice cried
aloud in an irritable tone; we could hear every word.  Stebelkov
raised his eyebrows and held up his finger.  "We talk of him here,
and there already he's. . . .  Here you have exceptions continually
occurring!  Quand on parle d'une corde. . . ."

He jumped up quickly and sitting down on the sofa, began listening
at the door in front of which the sofa stood.  I too was
tremendously struck.  I reflected that the speaker was probably the
same young girl who had run down the stairs in such excitement.
But how did Versilov come to be mixed up in this too?  Suddenly
there came again the same shriek, the furious shriek of some one
savage with anger, who has been prevented from getting or doing
something.  The only difference was that the cries and shrieks were
more prolonged than before.  There were sounds of a struggle, a
torrent of words, "I won't, I won't," "Give it up, give it up at
once!" or something of the sort, I don't remember exactly.  Then,
just as before, some one rushed to the door and opened it.  Both
the people in the room rushed out into the passage, one just as
before, trying to restrain the other.  Stebelkov, who had leapt up
from the sofa, and been listening with relish, fairly flew to the
door, and with extreme lack of ceremony dashed into the passage
straight upon the two.  I too, of course, ran to the door.  But his
appearance in the passage acted like a pail of cold water.  The two
women vanished instantly, and shut the door with a slam.

Stebelkov was on the point of dashing after them, but he stopped
short, held up his finger with a smile, and stood considering.
This time I detected in his smile something nasty, evil and
malignant.  Seeing the landlady, who was again standing in her
doorway, he ran quickly across the passage to her on tiptoe; after
whispering to her for a minute or two, and no doubt receiving
information, he came back to the room, resuming his air of
ponderous dignity, picked up his top-hat from the table, looked at
himself in the looking-glass as he passed, ruffled up his hair, and
with self-complacent dignity went to the next door without even a
glance in my direction.  For an instant he held his ear to the
door, listening, then winked triumphantly across the passage to the
landlady, who shook her finger and wagged her head at him, as
though to say, "Och, naughty man, naughty man!"  Finally with an
air of resolute, even of shrinking delicacy, he knocked with his
knuckles at the door.  A voice asked:

"Who's there?"

"Will you allow me to enter on urgent business?" Stebelkov
pronounced in a loud and dignified voice.

There was a brief delay, yet they did open the door, first only a
little way; but Stebelkov at once clutched the door-handle and
would not let them close it again.  A conversation followed,
Stebelkov began talking loudly, still pushing his way into the
room.  I don't remember the words, but he was speaking about
Versilov, saying that he could tell them, could explain everything--
"Yes, I can tell you," "Yes, you come to me"--or something to that
effect.  They quickly let him in, I went back to the sofa and began
to listen, but I could not catch it all, I could only hear that
Versilov's name was frequently mentioned.  From the intonations of
his voice I guessed that Stebelkov by now had control of the
conversation, that he no longer spoke insinuatingly but
authoritatively, in the same style as he had talked to me--"you
follow?" "kindly note that," and so on.  With women, though, he
must have been extraordinarily affable.  Already I had twice heard
his loud laugh, probably most inappropriate, because accompanying
his voice, and sometimes rising above it, could be heard the voices
of the women, and they sounded anything but cheerful, and
especially that of the young woman, the one who had shrieked: she
talked a great deal, rapidly and nervously, making apparently some
accusation or complaint, and seeking judgment or redress.  But
Stebelkov did not give way, he raised his voice higher and higher,
and laughed more and more often; such men are unable to listen to
other people.  I soon jumped up from the sofa, for it seemed to me
shameful to be eavesdropping, and went back again to the rush-
bottom chair by the window.  I felt convinced that Vassin did not
think much of this gentleman, but that, if anyone else had
expressed the same opinion, he would have at once defended him with
grave dignity, and have observed that, "he was a practical man, and
one of those modern business people who were not to be judged from
our theoretical and abstract standpoints."  At that instant,
however, I felt somehow morally shattered, my heart was throbbing
and I was unmistakably expecting something.

About ten minutes passed; suddenly in the midst of a resounding
peal of laughter some one leapt up from a chair with just the same
noise as before, then I heard shrieks from both the women.  I heard
Stebelkov jump up too and say something in quite a different tone
of voice, as though he were justifying himself and begging them to
listen. . . .  But they did not listen to him; I heard cries of
anger:  "Go away!  You're a scoundrel, you're a shameless villain!"
In fact it was clear that he was being turned out of the room.  I
opened the door at the very minute when he skipped into the
passage, as it seemed literally thrust out by their hands.  Seeing
me he cried out at once, pointing at me:  "This is Versilov's son!
If you don't believe me, here is his son, his own son!  I assure
you!"  And he seized me by the arm as though I belonged to him.
"This is his son, his own son!" he repeated, though he added
nothing by way of explanation, as he led me to the ladies.

The young woman was standing in the passage, the elderly one a step
behind her, in the doorway.  I only remember that this poor girl
was about twenty, and pretty, though thin and sickly looking; she
had red hair, and was somehow a little like my sister; this
likeness flashed upon me at the time, and remained in my memory;
but Liza never had been, and never could have been in the wrathful
frenzy by which the girl standing before me was possessed: her lips
were white, her light grey eyes were flashing, she was trembling
all over with indignation.  I remember, too, that I was in an
exceedingly foolish and undignified position, for, thanks to this
insolent scoundrel, I was at a complete loss what to say.

"What do you mean, his son!  If he's with you he's a scoundrel too.
If you are Versilov's son," she turned suddenly to me, "tell your
father from me that he is a scoundrel, that he's a mean, shameless
wretch, that I don't want his money. . . .  There, there, there,
give him this money at once!"

She hurriedly took out of her pocket several notes, but the older
lady (her mother, as it appeared later) clutched her hand:

"Olya, but you know . . . perhaps it's not true . . . perhaps it's
not his son!"

Olya looked at her quickly, reflected, looked at me contemptuously
and went back into the room; but before she slammed the door she
stood still in the doorway and shouted to Stebelkov once more:

"Go away!"

And she even stamped her foot at him.  Then the door was slammed
and locked.  Stebelkov, still holding me by the shoulder, with his
finger raised and his mouth relaxed in a slow doubtful grin, bent a
look of inquiry on me.

"I consider the way you've behaved with me ridiculous and
disgraceful," I muttered indignantly.  But he did not hear what
I said, though he was still staring at me.

"This ought to be looked into," he pronounced, pondering.

"But how dare you drag me in?  Who is this?  What is this woman?
You took me by the shoulder, and brought me in--what does it mean?"

"Yes, by Jove!  A young person who has lost her fair fame . . . a
frequently recurring exception--you follow?"  And he poked me in
the chest with his finger.

"Ech, damnation!"  I pushed away his finger.  But he suddenly and
quite unexpectedly went off into a low, noiseless, prolonged
chuckle of merriment.  Finally he put on his hat and, with a rapid
change to an expression of gloom, he observed, frowning:

"The landlady must be informed . . . they must be turned out of the
lodgings, to be sure, and without loss of time too, or they'll
be . . . you will see!  Mark my words, you will see!  Yes, by Jove!"
he was gleeful again all at once.  "You'll wait for Grisha, I

"No, I shan't wait," I answered resolutely.

"Well, it's all one to me. . . ."

And without adding another syllable he turned, went out, and walked
downstairs, without vouchsafing a glance in the landlady's
direction, though she was evidently expecting news and explanations.
I, too, took up my hat, and asking the landlady to tell Vassin that
I, Dolgoruky, had called, I ran downstairs.


I had merely wasted my time.  On coming out I set to work at once
to look for lodgings; but I was preoccupied.  I wandered about the
streets for several hours, and, though I went into five or six
flats with rooms to let, I am sure I passed by twenty without
noticing them.  To increase my vexation I found it far more
difficult to get a lodging than I had imagined.  Everywhere there
were rooms like Vassin's, or a great deal worse, while the rent was
enormous, that is, not what I had reckoned upon.  I asked for
nothing more than a "corner" where I could turn round, and I was
informed contemptuously that if that was what I wanted, I must go
where rooms were let "in corners."  Moreover, I found everywhere
numbers of strange lodgers, in whose proximity I could not have
lived; in fact, I would have paid anything not to have to live in
their proximity.  There were queer gentlemen in their waistcoats
without their coats, who had dishevelled beards, and were
inquisitive and free-and-easy in their manners.  In one tiny room
there were about a dozen such sitting over cards and beer, and I
was offered the next room.  In another place I answered the
landlady's inquiries so absurdly that they looked at me in
surprise, and in one flat I actually began quarrelling with the
people.  However, I won't describe these dismal details; I only
felt that I was awfully tired.  I had something to eat in a
cookshop when it was almost dark.  I finally decided that I would
go and give Versilov the letter concerning the will, with no one
else present (making no explanation), that I would go upstairs,
pack my things in my trunk and bag, and go for the night, if need
be, to an hotel.  At the end of the Obuhovsky Prospect, at the Gate
of Triumph, I knew there was an inn where one could get a room to
oneself for thirty kopecks; I resolved for one night to sacrifice
that sum, rather than sleep at Versilov's.  And as I was passing
the Institute of Technology, the notion suddenly struck me to call
on Tatyana Pavlovna, who lived just opposite the institute.  My
pretext for going in was this same letter about the will, but my
overwhelming impulse to go in was due to some other cause, which I
cannot to this day explain.  My mind was in a turmoil, brooding
over "the baby," the "exceptions that pass into rules."  I had a
longing to tell some one, or to make a scene, or to fight, or even
to have a cry--I can't tell which, but I went up to Tatyana
Pavlovna's.  I had only been there once before, with some message
from my mother, soon after I came from Moscow, and I remember I
went in, gave my message, and went out a minute later, without
sitting down, and indeed she did not ask me to.

I rang the bell, and the cook at once opened the door to me, and
showed me into the room without speaking.  All these details are
necessary that the reader may understand how the mad adventure,
which had so vast an influence on all that followed, was rendered
possible.  And to begin with, as regards the cook.  She was an ill-
tempered, snub-nosed Finnish woman, and I believe hated her
mistress Tatyana Pavlovna, while the latter, on the contrary, could
not bring herself to part with her from a peculiar sort of
infatuation, such as old maids sometimes show for damp-nosed pug
dogs, or somnolent cats.  The Finnish woman was either spiteful and
rude or, after a quarrel, would be silent for weeks together to
punish her mistress.  I must have chanced upon one of these dumb
days, for even when I asked her, as I remember doing, whether her
mistress were at home, she made no answer, but walked off to the
kitchen in silence.  Feeling sure after this that Tatyana Pavlovna
was at home, I walked into the room, and finding no one there,
waited expecting that she would come out of her bedroom before
long; otherwise, why should the cook have shown me in?  Without
sitting down, I waited two minutes, three; it was dusk and Tatyana
Pavlovna's dark flat seemed even less hospitable from the endless
yards of cretonne hanging about.  A couple of words about that
horrid little flat, to explain the surroundings of what followed.
With her obstinate and peremptory character, and the tastes she had
formed from living in the country in the past, Tatyana Pavlovna
could not put up with furnished lodgings, and had taken this parody
of a flat simply in order to live apart and be her own mistress.
The two rooms were exactly like two bird-cages, set side by side,
one smaller than the other; the flat was on the third storey, and
the windows looked into the courtyard.  Coming into the flat, one
stepped straight into a tiny passage, a yard and a half wide; on
the left, the two afore-mentioned bird-cages, and at the end of the
passage the tiny kitchen.  The five hundred cubic feet of air
required to last a human being twelve hours were perhaps provided
in this room, but hardly more.  The rooms were hideously low-
pitched, and, what was stupider than anything, the windows, the
doors, the furniture, all were hung or draped with cretonne, good
French cretonne, and decorated with festoons; but this made the
room twice as dark and more than ever like the inside of a
travelling-coach.  In the room where I was waiting it was possible
to turn round, though it was cumbered up with furniture, and the
furniture, by the way, was not at all bad: there were all sorts of
little inlaid tables, with bronze fittings, boxes, an elegant and
even sumptuous toilet table.  But the next room, from which I
expected her to come in, the bedroom, screened off by a thick
curtain, consisted literally of a bedstead, as appeared afterwards.
All these details are necessary to explain the foolishness of which
I was guilty.

So I had no doubts and was waiting, when there came a ring at the
bell.  I heard the cook cross the little passage with lagging
footsteps, and admit the visitors, still in silence, just as she
had me.  They were two ladies and both were talking loudly, but
what was my amazement when from their voices I recognized one as
Tatyana Pavlovna, and the other as the woman I was least prepared
to meet now, above all in such circumstances!  I could not be
mistaken: I had heard that powerful, mellow, ringing voice the day
before, only for three minutes it is true, but it still resounded
in my heart.  Yes, it was "yesterday's woman."  What was I to do?
I am not asking the reader this question, I am only picturing that
moment to myself, and I am utterly unable to imagine even now how
it came to pass that I suddenly rushed behind the curtain, and
found myself in Tatyana Pavlovna's bedroom.  In short, I hid
myself, and had scarcely time to do so when they walked in.  Why I
hid and did not come forward to meet them, I don't know.  It all
happened accidentally and absolutely without premeditation.

After rushing into the bedroom and knocking against the bed, I
noticed at once that there was a door leading from the bedroom into
the kitchen, and so there was a way out of my horrible position,
and I could make my escape but--oh, horror! the door was locked,
and there was no key in it.  I sank on the bed in despair; I
realized that I should overhear their talk, and from the first
sentence, from the first sound of their conversation, I guessed
that they were discussing delicate and private matters.  Oh, of
course, a straightforward and honourable man should even then have
got up, come out, said aloud, "I'm here, stop!" and, in spite of
his ridiculous position, walked past them; but I did not get up,
and did not come out; I didn't dare, I was in a most despicable

"My darling Katerina Nikolaevna, you distress me very much,"
Tatyana Pavlovna was saying in an imploring voice.  "Set your mind
at rest once for all, it's not like you.  You bring joy with you
wherever you go, and now suddenly . . . I suppose you do still
believe in me?  Why, you know how devoted I am to you.  As much so
as to Andrey Petrovitch, and I make no secret of my undying
devotion to him. . . .  But do believe me, I swear on my honour he
has no such document in his possession, and perhaps no one else has
either; and he is not capable of anything so underhand, it's wicked
of you to suspect him.  This hostility between you two is simply
the work of your own imaginations. . . ."

"There is such a document, and he is capable of anything.  And
there, as soon as I go in yesterday, the first person I meet is
ce petit espion, whom he has foisted on my father."

"Ach, ce petit espion!  To begin with he is not an espion at all,
for it was I, I insisted on his going to the prince, or else he
would have gone mad, or died of hunger in Moscow--that was the
account they sent us of him; and what's more, that unmannerly
urchin is a perfect little fool, how could he be a spy?"

"Yes, he is a fool, but that does not prevent his being a
scoundrel.  If I hadn't been so angry, I should have died of
laughing yesterday: he turned pale, he ran about, made bows and
talked French.  And Marie Ivanovna talked of him in Moscow as a
genius.  That that unlucky letter is still in existence and is in
dangerous hands somewhere, I gathered chiefly from Marie Ivanovna's

"My beauty! why you say yourself she has nothing!"

"That's just it, that she has; she does nothing but tell lies, and
she is a good hand at it, I can tell you!  Before I went to Moscow,
I still had hopes that no papers of any sort were left, but then,
then. . . ."

"Oh, it's quite the contrary, my dear, I am told she is a good-
natured and sensible creature; Andronikov thought more of her than
of any of his other nieces.  It's true I don't know her well--but
you should have won her over, my beauty!  It's no trouble to you to
win hearts--why, I'm an old woman, but here I'm quite in love with
you already, and can't resist kissing you. . . .  But it would have
been nothing to you to win her heart."

"I did, Tatyana Pavlovna, I tried; she was enchanted with me, but
she's very sly too. . . .  Yes, she's a regular type, and a
peculiar Moscow type. . . .  And would you believe it, she advised
me to apply to a man here called Kraft, who had been Andronikov's
assistant.  'Maybe he knows something,' she said.  I had some idea
of what Kraft was like, and in fact, I had a faint recollection of
him; but as she talked about Kraft, I suddenly felt certain that it
was not that she simply knew nothing but that she knew all about it
and was lying."

"But why, why?  Well, perhaps you might find out from him!  That
German, Kraft, isn't a chatterbox, and I remember him as very
honest--you really ought to question him!  Only I fancy he is not
in Petersburg now. . . ."

"Oh, he came back yesterday evening, I have just been to see
him. . . .  I have come to you in such a state, I'm shaking all
over.  I wanted to ask you, Tatyana Pavlovna, my angel, for you
know every one, wouldn't it be possible to find out from his papers,
for he must have left papers, to whom they will come now?  They may
come into dangerous hands again!  I wanted to ask your advice."

"But what papers are you talking about?" said Tatyana Pavlovna, not
understanding.  "Why, you say you have just been at Kraft's?"

"Yes, I have been, I have, I have just been there, but he's shot
himself! Yesterday evening."

I jumped up from the bed.  I was able to sit through being called a
spy and an idiot, and the longer the conversation went on the more
impossible it seemed to show myself.  It was impossible to
contemplate!  I inwardly determined with a sinking heart to stay
where I was till Tatyana Pavlovna went to the door with her visitor
(if, that is, I were lucky, and she did not before then come to
fetch something from the bedroom), and afterwards, when Mme. Ahmakov
had gone out, then, if need be, I'd fight it out with Tatyana
Pavlovna. . . .  But when, now, suddenly hearing about Kraft, I
jumped up from the bed, I shuddered all over.  Without thinking,
without reflecting, or realizing what I was doing, I took a step,
lifted the curtain, and appeared before the two of them.  It was
still light enough for them to see me, pale and trembling. . . .
They both cried out, and indeed they well might.

"Kraft?" I muttered, turning to Mme. Ahmakov--"he has shot himself?
Yesterday?  At sunset?"

"Where were you?  Where have you come from?" screamed Tatyana
Pavlovna, and she literally clawed my shoulder.  "You've been
spying?  You have been eavesdropping?"

"What did I tell you just now?" said Katerina Nikolaevna, getting
up from the sofa and pointing at me.

I was beside myself.

"It's a lie, it's nonsense!" I broke in furiously.  "You called me
a spy just now, my God!  You are not worth spying on, life's not
worth living in the same world with such people as you, in fact!  A
great-hearted man has killed himself, Kraft has shot himself--for
the sake of an idea, for the sake of Hecuba. . . . But how should
you know about Hecuba? . . .  And here--one's to live among your
intrigues, to linger in the midst of your lying, your deceptions
and underhand plots. . . .  Enough!"

"Slap him in the face!  Slap him in the face!" cried Tatyana
Pavlovna, and as Katerina Nikolaevna did not move, though she
stared fixedly at me (I remember it all minutely), Tatyana Pavlovna
would certainly have done so herself without loss of time, so that
I instinctively raised my hand to protect my face; and this gesture
led her to imagine that I meant to strike her.

"Well, strike me, strike me, show me that you are a low cur from
your birth up: you are stronger than women, why stand on ceremony
with them!"

"That's enough of your slander!" I cried.  "I have never raised my
hand against a woman!  You are shameless, Tatyana Pavlovna, you've
always treated me with contempt.  Oh, servants must be treated
without respect!  You laugh, Katerina Nikolaevna, at my appearance
I suppose; yes, God has not blessed me with the elegance of your
young officers.  And, yet I don't feel humbled before you, on the
contrary I feel exalted. . . .  I don't care how I express myself,
only I'm not to blame!  I got here by accident, Tatyana Pavlovna,
it's all the fault of your cook, or rather of your devotion to her:
why did she bring me in here without answering my question?  And
afterwards to dash out of a woman's bedroom seemed so monstrous,
that I made up my mind not to show myself, but to sit and put up
with your insults. . . .  You are laughing again, Katerina

"Leave the room, leave the room, go away!" screamed Tatyana
Pavlovna, almost pushing me out.  "Don't think anything of his
abuse, Katerina Nikolaevna: I've told you that they sent us word
that he was mad!"

"Mad?  They sent word?  Who sent you word?  No matter, enough of
this, Katerina Nikolaevna!  I swear to you by all that's sacred,
this conversation and all that I've heard shall remain hidden. . . .
Am I to blame for having learned your secrets?  Especially as I
am leaving your father's service to-morrow, so as regards the
letter you are looking for, you need not worry yourself!"

"What's that. . . .  What letter are you talking about?" asked
Katerina Nikolaevna in such confusion that she turned pale, or
perhaps I fancied it.  I realized that I had said too much.

I walked quickly out; they watched me go without a word, with looks
of intense amazement.  I had in fact set them a riddle.



I hurried home and--marvellous to relate--I was very well satisfied
with myself.  That's not the way one talks to women, of course, and
to such women too--it would be truer to say such a woman, for I was
not considering Tatyana Pavlovna.  Perhaps it's out of the question
to say to a woman of that class that one spits on her intrigues,
but I had said that, and it was just that that I was pleased with.
Apart from anything else, I was convinced that by taking this tone
I had effaced all that was ridiculous in my position.  But I had
not time to think much about that: my mind was full of Kraft.  Not
that the thought of him distressed me very greatly, but yet I was
shaken to my inmost depths, and so much so that the ordinary human
feeling of pleasure at another man's misfortune--at his breaking
his leg or covering himself with disgrace, at his losing some one
dear to him, and so on--even this ordinary feeling of mean
satisfaction was completely eclipsed by another absolutely single-
hearted feeling, a feeling of sorrow, of compassion for Kraft--at
least I don't know whether it was compassion, but it was a strong
and warm-hearted feeling.  And I was glad of this too.  It's
marvellous how many irrelevant ideas can flash through the mind at
the very time when one is shattered by some tremendous piece of
news, which one would have thought must overpower all other
feelings and banish all extraneous thoughts, especially petty ones;
yet petty ones, on the contrary, obtrude themselves.  I remember,
too, that I was gradually overcome by a quite perceptible nervous
shudder, which lasted several minutes, in fact all the time I was
at home and talking to Versilov.

This interview followed under strange and exceptional circumstances.
I had mentioned already that we lived in a separate lodge in the
courtyard; this lodging was marked "No. 13."  Before I had entered
the gate I heard a woman's voice asking loudly, with impatience and
irritation, "Where is No. 13?"  The question was asked by a lady who
was standing close to the gate and had opened the door of the little
shop; but apparently she got no answer there, or was even repulsed,
for she came down the steps, resentful and angry.

"But where is the porter?" she cried, stamping her foot.  I had
already recognized the voice.

"I am going to No. 13," I said, approaching her.  "Whom do you

"I have been looking for the porter for the last hour.  I keep
asking every one; I have been up all the staircases."

"It's in the yard.  Don't you recognize me?"

But by now she had recognized me.

"You want Versilov; you want to see him about something, and so do
I," I went on.  "I have come to take leave of him for ever.  Come

"You are his son?"

"That means nothing.  Granted, though, that I am his son, yet my
name's Dolgoruky; I am illegitimate.  This gentleman has an endless
supply of illegitimate children.  When conscience and honour
require it a son will leave his father's house.  That's in the
Bible.  He has come into a fortune too, and I don't wish to share
it, and I go to live by the work of my hands.  A noble-hearted man
will sacrifice life itself, if need be; Kraft has shot himself,
Kraft for the sake of an idea, imagine, a young man, yet he
overcame hope. . . .  This way, this way!  We live in a lodge
apart.  But that's in the Bible; children leave their parents and
make homes for themselves. . . .  If the idea draws one on . . . if
there is an idea!  The idea is what matters, the idea is
everything. . . ."

I babbled on like this while we were making our way to the lodge.
The reader will, no doubt, observe that I don't spare myself much,
though I give myself a good character on occasion; I want to train
myself to tell the truth.  Versilov was at home.  I went in without
taking off my overcoat; she did the same.  Her clothes were
dreadfully thin: over a wretched gown of some dark colour was hung
a rag that did duty for a cloak or mantle; on her head she wore an
old and frayed sailor-hat, which was very unbecoming.  When we went
into the room my mother was sitting at her usual place at work, and
my sister came out of her room to see who it was, and was standing
in the doorway.  Versilov, as usual, was doing nothing, and he got
up to meet us.  He looked at me intently with a stern and inquiring

"It's nothing to do with me," I hastened to explain, and I stood on
one side.  "I only met this person at the gate; she was trying to
find you and no one could direct her.  I have come about my own
business, which I shall be delighted to explain afterwards. . . ."

Versilov nevertheless still scrutinized me curiously.

"Excuse me," the girl began impatiently.  Versilov turned towards

"I have been wondering a long while what induced you to leave money
for me yesterday. . . .  I . . . in short . . . here's your money!"
she almost shrieked, as she had before, and flung a bundle of notes
on the table.  "I've had to hunt for you through the address
bureau, or I should have brought it before.  Listen, you!"  She
suddenly addressed my mother, who had turned quite pale.  "I don't
want to insult you; you look honest, and perhaps this is actually
your daughter.  I don't know whether you are his wife, but let me
tell you that this gentleman gets hold of the advertisements on
which teachers and governesses have spent their last farthing and
visits these luckless wretches with dishonourable motives, trying
to lure them to ruin by money.  I don't understand how I could have
taken his money yesterday: he looked so honest. . . .  Get away,
don't say a word!  You are a villain, sir!  Even if you had
honourable intentions I don't want your charity.  Not a word, not a
word!  Oh, how glad I am that I have unmasked you now before your
women!  Curse you!"

She ran to the door, but turned for one instant in the doorway to

"You've come into a fortune, I'm told."

With that she vanished like a shadow.  I repeat again, it was
frenzy.  Versilov was greatly astonished; he stood as though
pondering and reflecting on something.  At last he turned suddenly
to me:

"You don't know her at all?"

"I happened to see her this morning when she was raging in the
passage at Vassin's; she was screaming and cursing you.  But I did
not speak to her and I know nothing about it, and just now I met
her at the gate.  No doubt she is that teacher you spoke of
yesterday, who also gives lessons in arithmetic."

"Yes, she is.  For once in my life I did a good deed and. . . .
But what's the matter with you?"

"Here is this letter," I answered.  "I don't think explanation
necessary: it comes from Kraft, and he got it from Andronikov.  You
will understand what's in it.  I will add that no one but me in the
whole world knows about that letter, for Kraft, who gave me that
letter yesterday just as I was leaving him, has shot himself."

While I was speaking with breathless haste he took the letter and,
holding it lightly poised in his left hand, watched me attentively.
When I told him of Kraft's suicide I looked at him with particular
attention to see the effect.  And what did I see?  The news did not
make the slightest impression on him.  If he had even raised an
eyebrow!  On the contrary, seeing that I had paused, he drew out
his eyeglasses, which he always had about him hanging on a black
ribbon, carried the letter to the candle and, glancing at the
signature, began carefully examining it.  I can't express how
mortified I was at this supercilious callousness.  He must have
known Kraft very well: it was, in any case, such an extraordinary
piece of news!  Besides, I naturally desired it to produce an
effect.  Knowing that the letter was long, I turned, after waiting,
and went out.  My trunk had been packed long ago, I had only to
stuff a few things into my bag.  I thought of my mother and that I
had not gone up to speak to her.  Ten minutes later, when I had
finished my preparations and was meaning to go for a cab, my sister
walked into my attic.

"Here are your sixty roubles; mother sends it and begs you again to
forgive her for having mentioned it to Andrey Petrovitch.  And
here's twenty roubles besides.  You gave her fifty yesterday for
your board; mother says she can't take more than thirty from you
because you haven't cost fifty, and she sends you twenty roubles

"Well, thanks, if she is telling the truth.  Good-bye, sister, I'm

"Where are you going now?"

"For the time being to an hotel, to escape spending the night in
this house.  Tell mother that I love her."

"She knows that.  She knows that you love Andrey Petrovitch too.  I
wonder you are not ashamed of having brought that wretched girl

"I swear I did not; I met her at the gate."

"No, it was your doing."

"I assure you. . . ."

"Think a little, ask yourself, and you will see that you were the

"I was only very pleased that Versilov should be put to shame.
Imagine, he had a baby by Lidya Ahmakov . . . but what am I telling

"He?  A baby?  But it is not his child!  From whom have you heard
such a falsehood?"

"Why, you can know nothing about it."

"Me know nothing about it?  But I used to nurse the baby in Luga.
Listen, brother: I've seen for a long time past that you know
nothing about anything, and meanwhile you wound Andrey Petrovitch--
and . . . mother too."

"If he is right, then I shall be to blame.  That's all, and I love
you no less for it.  What makes you flush like that, sister?  And
more still now!  Well, never mind, anyway, I shall challenge that
little prince for the slap he gave Versilov at Ems.  If Versilov
was in the right as regards Mlle. Ahmakov, so much the better."

"Brother, what are you thinking of?"

"Luckily, the lawsuit's over now. . . .  Well, now she has turned

"But the prince won't fight you," said Liza, looking at me with a
wan smile in spite of her alarm.

"Then I will put him to shame in public.  What's the matter with
you, Liza?"

She had turned so pale that she could not stand, and sank on to my

"Liza," my mother's voice called from below.

She recovered herself and stood up; she smiled at me affectionately.

"Brother, drop this foolishness, or put it off for a time till
you know about ever so many things: it's awful how little you

"I shall remember, Liza, that you turned pale when you heard I was
going to fight a duel."

"Yes, yes, remember that too!" she said, smiling once more at
parting, and she went downstairs.

I called a cab, and with the help of the man I hauled my things out
of the lodge.  No one in the house stopped me or opposed my going.
I did not go in to say good-bye to my mother as I did not want to
meet Versilov again.  When I was sitting in the cab a thought
flashed upon me:

"To Fontanka by Semyonovsky Bridge," I told the man, and went back
to Vassin's.


It suddenly struck me that Vassin would know already about Kraft,
and perhaps know a hundred times more than I did; and so it proved
to be.  Vassin immediately informed me of all the facts with great
precision but with no great warmth; I concluded that he was very
tired, and so indeed he was.  He had been at Kraft's himself in the
morning.  Kraft had shot himself with a revolver (that same
revolver) after dark, as was shown by his diary.  The last entry in
the diary was made just before the fatal shot, and in it he
mentioned that he was writing almost in the dark and hardly able to
distinguish the letters, that he did not want to light a candle for
fear that it should set fire to something when he was dead.  "And I
don't want to light it and then, before shooting, put it out like
my life," he added strangely, almost the last words.  This diary he
had begun three days before his death, immediately on his return to
Petersburg, before his visit to Dergatchev's.  After I had gone
away he had written something in it every quarter of an hour; the
last three or four entries were made at intervals of five minutes.
I expressed aloud my surprise that though Vassin had had this diary
so long in his hands (it had been given him to read), he had not
made a copy of it, especially as it was not more than a sheet or so
and all the entries were short.  "You might at least have copied
the last page!"  Vassin observed with a smile that he remembered it
as it was; moreover, that the entries were quite disconnected,
about anything that came into his mind.  I was about to protest
that this was just what was precious in this case, but without
going into that I began instead to insist on his recalling some of
it, and he did recall a few sentences--for instance, an hour before
he shot himself, "That he was chilly," "That he thought of drinking
a glass of wine to warm himself, but had been deterred by the idea
that it might cause an increase in the flow of blood."  "It was
almost all that sort of thing," Vassin remarked in conclusion.

"And you call that nonsense!" I cried.

"And when did I call it nonsense?  I simply did not copy it.  But
though it's not nonsense, the diary certainly is somewhat ordinary,
or rather, natural--that is, it's just what it's bound to be in
such circumstances. . . ."

"But the last thoughts, the last thoughts!"

"The last thoughts sometimes are extremely insignificant.  One such
suicide complained, in fact, in a similar diary that not one lofty
idea visited him at that important hour, nothing but futile and
petty thoughts."

"And that he was chilly, was that too a futile thought?"

"Do you mean his being chilly, or the thought about the blood?
Besides, it's a well-known fact that very many people who are
capable of contemplating their approaching death, whether it's by
their own hand or not, frequently show a tendency to worry
themselves about leaving their body in a presentable condition.  It
was from that point of view that Kraft was anxious about the blood."

"I don't know whether that is a well-known fact . . . or whether
that is so," I muttered; "but I am surprised that you consider all
that natural, and yet it's not long since Kraft was speaking,
feeling, sitting among us.  Surely you must feel sorry for him?"

"Oh, of course, I'm sorry, and that's quite a different thing; but,
in any case, Kraft himself conceived of his death as a logical
deduction.  It turns out that all that was said about him yesterday
at Dergatchev's was true.  He left behind him a manuscript book
full of abtruse theories, proving by phrenology, by craniology, and
even by mathematics, that the Russians are a second-rate race, and
that therefore, since he was a Russian, life was not worth living
for him.  What is more striking about it, if you like, is that it
shows one can make any logical deduction one pleases; but to shoot
oneself in consequence of a deduction does not always follow."

"At least one must do credit to his strength of will."

"Possibly not that only," Vassin observed evasively; it was clear
that he assumed stupidity or weakness of intellect.  All this
irritated me.

"You talked of feeling yourself yesterday, Vassin."

"I don't gainsay it now; but what has happened betrays something in
him so crudely mistaken that, if one looks at it critically, it
checks one's compassion in spite of oneself."

"Do you know that I guessed yesterday from your eyes that you would
disapprove of Kraft, and I resolved not to ask your opinion, that I
might not hear evil of him; but you have given it of yourself, and
I am forced to agree with you in spite of myself; and yet I am
annoyed with you!  I am sorry for Kraft."

"Do you know we are going rather far. . . ."

"Yes, yes," I interrupted, "but it's a comfort, anyway, that in
such cases those who are left alive, the critics of the dead, can
say of themselves:  'Though a man has shot himself who was worthy
of all compassion and indulgence, we are left, at any rate, and so
there's no great need to grieve.'"

"Yes, of course, from that point of view. . . .  Oh, but I believe
you are joking, and very cleverly!  I always drink tea at this
time, and am just going to ask for it: you will join me, perhaps."

And he went out, with a glance at my trunk and bag.

I had wanted to say something rather spiteful, to retaliate for his
judgment of Kraft, and I had succeeded in saying it, but it was
curious that he had taken my consoling reflection that "such as we
are left" as meant seriously.  But, be that as it may, he was,
anyway, more right than I was in everything, even in his feelings.
I recognized this without the slightest dissatisfaction, but I felt
distinctly that I did not like him.

When they had brought in the tea I announced that I was going to
ask for his hospitality for one night only, and if this were
impossible I hoped he would say so, and I would go to an hotel.
Then I briefly explained my reasons, simply and frankly stating
that I had finally quarrelled with Versilov, without, however,
going into details.  Vassin listened attentively but without the
slightest excitement.  As a rule he only spoke in reply to
questions, though he always answered with ready courtesy and
sufficient detail.  I said nothing at all about the letter
concerning which I had come to ask his advice in the morning, and I
explained that I had looked in then simply to call on him.  Having
given Versilov my word that no one else should know of the letter,
I considered I had no right to speak of it to anyone.  I felt it
for some reason peculiarly repugnant to speak of certain things to
Vassin--of some things and not of others; I succeeded, for
instance, in interesting him in my description of the scenes that
had taken place that morning in the passage, in the next room, and
finally at Versilov's.  He listened with extreme attention,
especially to what I told him of Stebelkov.  When I told him how
Stebelkov asked about Dergatchev he made me repeat the question
again, and seemed to ponder gravely over it, though he did laugh in
the end.  It suddenly occurred to me at that moment that nothing
could ever have disconcerted Vassin; I remember, however, that this
idea presented itself at first in a form most complimentary to him.

"In fact, I could not gather much from what M. Stebelkov said," I
added finally; "he talks in a sort of muddle . . . and there is
something, as it were, feather-headed about him. . . ."

Vassin at once assumed a serious air.

"He certainly has no gift for language, but he sometimes manages to
make very acute observations at first sight, and in fact he belongs
to the class of business men, men of practical affairs, rather than
of theoretical ideas; one must judge them from that point of
view. . . ."

It was exactly what I had imagined him saying that morning.  "He
made an awful row next door, though, and goodness knows how it
might have ended."

Of the inmates of the next room, Vassin told me that they had been
living there about three weeks and had come from somewhere in the
provinces; that their room was very small, and that to all
appearance they were very poor; that they stayed in and seemed to
be expecting something.  He did not know the young woman had
advertised for lessons, but he had heard that Versilov had been to
see them; it had happened in his absence, but the landlady had told
him of it.  The two ladies had held themselves aloof from every
one, even from the landlady.  During the last few days he had
indeed become aware that something was wrong with them, but there
had been no other scenes like the one that morning.  I recall all
that was said about the people next door because of what followed.
All this time there was a dead silence in the next room.  Vassin
listened with marked interest when I told him that Stebelkov had
said he must talk to the landlady about our neighbours and that he
had twice repeated, "Ah! you will see! you will see!"

"And you will see," added Vassin, "that that notion of his stands
for something; he has an extraordinarily keen eye for such things."

"Why, do you think the landlady ought to be advised to turn them

"No, I did not mean that they should be turned out . . . simply
that there might be a scandal . . . but all such cases end one way
or another. . . .  Let's drop the subject."

As for Versilov's visit next door, he absolutely refused to give
any opinion.

"Anything is possible: a man feels that he has money in his
pocket . . . but he may very likely have given the money from
charity; that would perhaps be in accordance with his traditions
and his inclinations."

I told him that Stebelkov had chattered that morning about "a

"Stebelkov is absolutely mistaken about that," Vassin brought out
with peculiar emphasis and gravity (I remembered this particularly).
"Stebelkov sometimes puts too much faith in his practical common
sense, and so is in too great a hurry to draw conclusions to fit in
with his logic, which is often very penetrating; and all the while
the actual fact may be far more fantastic and surprising when one
considers the character of the persons concerned in it.  So it has
been in this case; having a partial knowledge of the affair, he
concluded the child belonged to Versilov; and yet the child is not

I pressed him, and, to my great amazement, learned from him that
the infant in question was the child of Prince Sergay Sokolsky.
Lidya Ahmakov, either owing to her illness or to some fantastic
streak in her character, used at times to behave like a lunatic.
She had been fascinated by the prince before she met Versilov,
"and he had not scrupled to accept her love," to use Vassin's
expression.  The liaison had lasted but for a moment; they had
quarrelled, as we know already, and Lidya had dismissed the prince,
"at which the latter seems to have been relieved."  "She was a very
strange girl," added Vassin; "it is quite possible that she was not
always in her right mind.  But when he went away to Paris, Prince
Sokolsky had no idea of the condition in which he had left his
victim, he did not know until the end, until his return.  Versilov,
who had become a friend of the young lady's, offered her his hand,
in view of her situation (of which it appears her parents had no
suspicion up to the end).  The lovesick damsel was overjoyed, and
saw in Versilov's offer "something more than self-sacrifice,"
though that too she appreciated.  "Of course, though, he knew how
to carry it through," Vassin added.  "The baby (a girl) was born a
month or six weeks before the proper time; it was placed out
somewhere in Germany but afterwards taken back by Versilov and is
now somewhere in Russia--perhaps in Petersburg."

"And the phosphorus matches?"

"I know nothing about that," Vassin said in conclusion.  "Lidya
Ahmakov died a fortnight after her confinement: what had happened I
don't know.  Prince Sokolsky, who had only just returned from
Paris, learned there was a child, and seems not to have believed at
first that it was his child. . . .  The whole affair has, in fact,
been kept secret by all parties up till now."

"But what a wretch this prince must be," I cried indignantly.
"What a way to treat an invalid girl!"

"She was not so much of an invalid then. . . .  Besides, she sent
him away herself. . . .  It is true, perhaps, that he was in too
great a hurry to take advantage of his dismissal."

"You justify a villain like that!"

"No, only I don't call him a villain.  There is a great deal in it
besides simple villainy.  In fact, it's quite an ordinary thing."

"Tell me, Vassin, did you know him intimately?  I should
particularly value your opinion, owing to a circumstance that
touches me very nearly."

But to this Vassin replied with excessive reserve.  He knew the
prince, but he was, with obvious intention, reticent in regard to
the circumstances under which he had made his acquaintance.  He
added further that one had to make allowances for Prince Sokolsky's
character.  "He is impressionable and full of honourable impulses,
but has neither good sense nor strength of will enough to control
his desires.  He is not a well-educated man; many ideas and
situations are beyond his power to deal with, and yet he rushes
upon them.  He will, for example, persist in declaring, 'I am a
prince and descended from Rurik; but there's no reason why I
shouldn't be a shoemaker if I have to earn my living; I am not fit
for any other calling.  Above the shop there shall be, "Prince So-
and-so, Bootmaker"--it would really be a credit.'  He would say
that and act upon it, too, that's what matters," added Vassin; "and
yet it's not the result of strong conviction, but only the most
shallow impressionability.  Afterwards repentance invariably
follows, and then he is always ready to rush to an opposite
extreme; his whole life is passed like that.  Many people come to
grief in that way nowadays," Vassin ended, "just because they are
born in this age."

I could not help pondering on his words.

"Is it true that he was turned out of his regiment?" I asked.

"I don't know whether he was turned out, but he certainly did leave
the regiment through some unpleasant scandal.  I suppose you know
that he spent two or three months last autumn at Luga."

"I . . . I know that you were staying at Luga at that time."

"Yes, I was there too for a time.  Prince Sokolsky knew Lizaveta
Makarovna too."

"Oh!  I didn't know.  I must confess I've had so little talk with
my sister. . . .  But surely he was not received in my mother's
house?" I cried.

"Oh, no; he was only slightly acquainted with them through other

"Ah, to be sure, what did my sister tell me about that child?  Was
the baby at Luga?"

"For a while."

"And where is it now."

"No doubt in Petersburg."

"I never will believe," I cried in great emotion, "that my mother
took any part whatever in this scandal with this Lidya!"

"Apart from these intrigues, of which I can't undertake to give the
details, there was nothing particularly reprehensible in Versilov's
part of the affair," observed Vassin, with a condescending smile.
I fancy he began to feel it difficult to talk to me, but he tried
not to betray it.

"I will never, never believe," I cried again, "that a woman could
give up her husband to another woman; that I won't believe! . . .
I swear my mother had no hand in it!"

"It seems, though, she did not oppose it."

"In her place, from pride I should not have opposed it."

"For my part, I absolutely refuse to judge in such a matter," was
Vassin's final comment.

Perhaps, for all his intelligence, Vassin really knew nothing about
women, so that a whole cycle of ideas and phenomena remained
unknown to him.  I sank into silence.  Vassin had a temporary berth
in some company's office, and I knew that he used to bring work
home with him.  When I pressed him, he admitted that he had work to
do now, accounts to make up, and I begged him warmly not to stand
on ceremony with me.  I believe this pleased him; but before
bringing out his papers he made up a bed for me on the sofa.  At
first he offered me his bed, but when I refused it I think that too
gratified him.  He got pillows and a quilt from the landlady.
Vassin was extremely polite and amiable, but it made me feel
uncomfortable, seeing him take so much trouble on my account.  I
had liked it better when, three weeks before, I had spent a night
at Efim's.  I remember how he concocted a bed for me, also on a
sofa, and without the knowledge of his aunt, who would, he thought,
for some reason, have been vexed if she had known he had a
schoolfellow staying the night with him.  We laughed a great deal.
A shirt did duty for a sheet and an overcoat for a pillow.  I
remember how Efim, when he had completed the work, patted the sofa
tenderly and said to me:

"Vous dormirez comme un petit roi."

And his foolish mirth and the French phrase, as incongruous in his
mouth as a saddle on a cow, made me enjoy sleeping at that jocose
youth's.  As for Vassin, I felt greatly relieved when he sat down
to work with his back to me.  I stretched myself on the sofa and,
looking at his back, pondered deeply on many things.


And indeed I had plenty to think about.  Everything seemed split up
and in confusion in my soul, but certain sensations stood out very
definitely, though from their very abundance I was not dominated by
any one of them.  They all came, as it were, in disconnected
flashes, one after another, and I had no inclination, I remember,
to dwell on any one of my impressions or to establish any sequence
among them.  Even the idea of Kraft had imperceptibly passed into
the background.  What troubled me most of all was my own position,
that here I had "broken off," and that my trunk was with me, and I
was not at home, and was beginning everything new.  It was as
though all my previous intentions and preparations had been in
play, "and only now--and above all so SUDDENLY--everything was
beginning in reality."  This idea gave me courage and cheered me
up, in spite of the confusion within me over many things.

But . . . but I had other sensations; one of them was trying to
dominate the others and to take possession of my soul, and, strange
to say, this sensation too gave me courage and seemed to hold out
prospects of something very gay.  Yet this feeling had begun with
fear: I had been afraid for a long time, from the very hour that in
my heat I had, unawares, said too much to Mme. Ahmakov about the
"document."  "Yes, I said too much," I thought, "and maybe they
will guess something . . . it's a pity!  No doubt they will give me
no peace if they begin to suspect, but . . . let them!  Very likely
they won't find me, I'll hide!  And what if they really do run
after me . . . ?"  And then I began recalling minutely in every
point, and with growing satisfaction, how I had stood up before
Katerina Nikolaevna and how her insolent but extremely astonished
eyes had gazed at me obstinately.  Going away, I had left her in
the same amazement, I remembered; "her eyes are not quite black,
though . . . it's only her eyelashes that are so black, and that's
what makes her eyes look so dark. . . ."

And suddenly, I remember, I felt horribly disgusted at the
recollection . . . and sick and angry both at them and at myself.
I reproached myself and tried to think of something else.  "Why did
I not feel the slightest indignation with Versilov for the incident
with the girl in the next room?" it suddenly occurred to me to
wonder.  For my part, I was firmly convinced that he had had
amorous designs and had come to amuse himself, but I was not
particularly indignant at this.  It seemed to me, indeed, that one
could not have conceived of his behaving differently, and although
I really was glad he had been put to shame, yet I did not blame
him.  It was not that which seemed important to me; what was
important was the exasperation with which he had looked at me when
I came in with the girl, the way he had looked at me as he had
never done before.

"At last he has looked at me SERIOUSLY," I thought, with a flutter
at my heart.  Ah, if I had not loved him I should not have been so
overjoyed at his hatred!

At last I began to doze and fell asleep.  I can just remember being
aware of Vassin's finishing his work, tidying away his things,
looking carefully towards my sofa, undressing and putting out the

It was one o'clock at night.


Almost exactly two hours later I woke up with a start and, jumping
up as though I were frantic, sat on my sofa.  From the next room
there arose fearful lamentations, screams, and sounds of weeping.
Our door was wide open, and people were shouting and running to and
fro in the lighted passage.  I was on the point of calling to
Vassin, but I realized that he was no longer in his bed.  I did not
know where to find the matches; I fumbled for my clothes and began
hurriedly dressing in the dark.  Evidently the landlady, and
perhaps the lodgers, had run into the next room.  Only one voice
was wailing, however, that of the older woman: the youthful voice I
had heard the day before, and so well remembered, was quite silent;
I remember that this was the first thought that came into my mind.
Before I had finished dressing Vassin came in hurriedly.  He laid
his hand on the matches instantly and lighted up the room.  He was
in his dressing-gown and slippers, and he immediately proceeded to

"What's happened?" I cried.

"A most unpleasant and bothersome business," he answered almost
angrily; "that young girl you were telling me about has hanged
herself in the next room."

I could not help crying out.  I cannot describe the pang at my
heart!  We ran out into the passage.  I must own I did not dare go
into the room, and only saw the unhappy girl afterwards, when she
had been taken down, and even then, indeed, at some distance and
covered with a sheet, beyond which the two narrow soles of her
shoes stood out.  So I did not for some reason look into her face.
The mother was in a fearful condition; our landlady was with her--
not, however, greatly alarmed.  All the lodgers in the flat had
gathered round.  There were only three of them: an elderly naval
man, always very peevish and exacting, though on this occasion he
was quite quiet, and an elderly couple, respectable people of the
small functionary class who came from the province of Tver.  I
won't attempt to describe the rest of that night, the general
commotion and afterwards the visit of the police.  Literally till
daylight I kept shuddering and felt it my duty to sit up, though I
did absolutely nothing.  And indeed every one had an extraordinarily
cheery air, as though they had been particularly cheered by
something.  Vassin went off somewhere.  The landlady turned out to
be rather a decent woman, much better than I had imagined her.  I
persuaded her (and I put it down to my credit) that the mother must
not be left alone with the daughter's corpse, and that she must, at
least until to-morrow, take her into her room.  The landlady at once
agreed, and though the mother struggled and shed tears, refusing to
leave her daughter, she did at last move into the landlady's room,
and the latter immediately ordered the samovar to be brought.  After
that the lodgers went back to their rooms and shut the doors, but
nothing would have induced me to go to bed, and I remained a long
time with the landlady, who was positively relieved at the presence
of a third person, and especially one who was able to give some
information bearing on the case.

The samovar was most welcome, and in fact the samovar is the most
essential thing in Russia, especially at times of particularly
awful, sudden, and eccentric catastrophes and misfortunes; even the
mother was induced to drink two cups--though, of course, only with
much urging and almost compulsion.  And yet I can honestly say that
I have never seen a bitterer and more genuine sorrow that that poor

After the first paroxysms of sobbing and hysterics she was actually
eager to talk, and I listened greedily to her story.  There are
unhappy people, especially women, who must be allowed to talk as
freely as possible when they are in trouble.  Moreover, there are
characters too, blurred so to speak by sorrow, who all their life
long have suffered, have suffered terribly much both of great
sorrow and of continual worry about trifles, and who can never be
surprised by anything, by any sort of sudden calamity, and who,
above all, never, even beside the coffin of their dearest, can
forget the rules of behaviour for propitiating people, which they
have learnt by bitter experience.  And I don't criticize it: there
is neither the vulgarity of egoism nor the insolence of culture in
this; there is perhaps more genuine goodness to be found in these
simple hearts than in heroines of the loftiest demeanour, but the
long habit of humiliation, the instinct of self-preservation, the
years of timid anxiety and oppression, leave their mark at last.
The poor girl who had died by her own hand was not like her mother
in this.  They were alike in face, however, though the dead girl
was decidedly good-looking.  The mother was not a very old woman,
fifty at the most; she, too, was fair, but her eyes were sunken,
her cheeks were hollow, and she had large yellow, uneven teeth.
And indeed everything had a tinge of yellowness: the skin on her
hands and face was like parchment; her dark dress had grown yellow
with age, and the nail on the forefinger of her right hand* had
been, I don't know why, carefully and tidily plastered up with
yellow wax.

The poor woman's story was in parts quite disconnected.  I will
tell it as I understood it and as I remember it.

* This must be an error on Dostoevsky's part.  Russian women
sometimes plaster with wax the forefinger of the left hand to
protect it from being pricked in sewing.--Translator's Note.


They had come from Moscow.  She had long been a widow--"the widow
of an official, however."  Her husband had been in the government
service, but had left them practically nothing "except a pension of
two hundred roubles."  But what are two hundred roubles?  Olya grew
up, however, and went to the high school--"and how well she did,
how good she was at her lessons; she won the silver medal when she
left" (at this point, of course, prolonged weeping).  The deceased
husband had lost a fortune of nearly four thousand roubles,
invested with a merchant here in Petersburg.  This merchant had
suddenly grown rich again.  "I had papers, I asked advice; I was
told, 'Try, and you will certainly get it. . . .'  I wrote, the
merchant agreed:  'Go yourself,' I was told.  Olya and I set off,
and arrived a month ago.  Our means were small: we took this room
because it was the smallest of all and, as we could see ourselves,
in a respectable house, and that's what mattered most to us.  We
were inexperienced women; every one takes advantage of us.  Well,
we paid you for one month.  With one thing and another, Petersburg
is ruinous.  Our merchant gives us a flat refusal--'I don't know
you or anything about you'; and the paper I had was not regular, I
knew that.  Then I was advised to go to a celebrated lawyer; he was
a professor, not simply a lawyer but an expert, so he'd be sure to
tell me what to do.  I took him my last fifteen roubles.  The
lawyer came out to me, and he did not listen to me for three
minutes:  'I see,' says he, 'I know,' says he.  'If the merchant
wants to,' says he, 'he'll pay the money; if he doesn't want to, he
won't, and if you take proceedings you may have to pay yourself,
perhaps; you had far better come to terms.'  He made a joke, then,
out of the Gospel:  'Make peace,' said he, 'while your enemy is in
the way with you, lest you pay to the uttermost farthing.'  He
laughed as he saw me out.  My fifteen roubles were wasted!  I came
back to Olya; we sat facing one another.  I began crying.  Olya did
not cry; she sat there, proud and indignant.  She has always been
like that with me; all her life, even when she was tiny, she was
never one to moan, she was never one to cry, but she would sit and
look fierce; it used to make me creep to look at her.  And--would
you believe it?--I was afraid of her, I was really quite afraid of
her; I've been so for a long time past.  I often wanted to grieve,
but I did not dare before her.  I went to the merchant for the last
time.  I cried before him freely: he said it was all right, and
would not even listen.  Meanwhile I must confess that, not having
reckoned on being here for so long, we had been for some time
without a penny.  I began taking our clothes one by one to the
pawnbroker's; we have been living on what we have pawned.  I
stripped myself of everything; she gave me the last of her linen,
and I cried bitterly at taking it.  She stamped, then she jumped up
and ran off to the merchant herself.  He was a widower; he talked
to her.  'Come at five o'clock the day after to-morrow,' says he,
'perhaps I shall have something to say to you.'  She came home
quite gay:  'He says he may have something to say to me.'  Well, I
was pleased too, but yet I somehow felt a sort of chill at my
heart.  'Something will come of it,' I thought, but I did not dare
to question her.  Two days later she came back from the merchant's,
pale and trembling all over, and threw herself on her bed.  I saw
what it meant, and did not dare to question her.  And--would you
believe it?--the villain had offered her fifteen roubles.  'If I
find you pure and virtuous I'll hand you over another forty.'  He
said that to her face--he wasn't ashamed to.  At that she flew at
him, so she told me; he thrust her out, and even locked himself in
the next room.  And meanwhile I must confess, to tell the truth, we
had nothing to eat.  We brought out a jacket lined with hare-fur;
we sold it.  She went to a newspaper and put in an advertisement at
once: she offered lessons in all subjects and in arithmetic.  'If
they'll only pay thirty kopecks,' she said.  And in the end I began
to be really alarmed at her: she would sit for hours at the window
without saying a word, staring at the roof of the house opposite,
and then she would suddenly cry out, 'If I could only wash or dig!'
She would say one sentence like that and stamp her foot.  And there
was no one we knew here, no one we could go to: I wondered what
would become of us.  And all the while I was afraid to talk to her.
One day she fell asleep in the daytime.  She waked up, opened her
eyes, and looked at me; I was sitting on the box, and I was looking
at her too.  She got up, came to me without saying a word, and
threw her arms round me.  And we could not help crying, both of us;
we sat crying and clinging to each other.  It was the first time in
her life I had seen her like that.  And just as we were sitting
like that, your Nastasya came in and said, 'There's a lady
inquiring for you.'  This was only four days ago.  The lady came
in; we saw she was very well dressed, though she spoke Russian, it
seemed to me, with a German accent.  'You advertised that you give
lessons,' she said.  We were so delighted then, we made her sit
down.  She laughed in such a friendly way:  'It's not for me,' she
said, but my niece has small children; and if it suits you, come to
us, and we will make arrangements.'  She gave an address, a flat in
Voznessensky Street.  She went away.  Dear Olya set off the same
day; she flew there.  She came back two hours later; she was in
hysterics, in convulsions.  She told me afterwards:  'I asked the
porter where flat No. so-and-so was.'  The porter looked at her and
said, 'And what do you want to go to that flat for?'  He said that
so strangely that it might have made one suspicious, but she was so
self-willed, poor darling, so impatient, she could not bear
impertinent questions.  'Go along, then,' he said, and he pointed
up the stairs to her and went back himself to his little room.  And
what do you think!  She went in, asked for the lady, and on all
sides women ran up to her at once--horrid creatures, rouged; they
rushed at her, laughing.  'Please come in, please come in,' they
cried; they dragged her in.  Some one was playing the piano.  'I
tried to get away from them,' she said, 'but they would not let me
go.'  She was frightened, her legs gave way under her.  They simply
would not let her go; they talked to her coaxingly, they persuaded
her, they uncorked a bottle of porter, they pressed it on her.  She
jumped up trembling, screamed at the top of her voice 'Let me go,
let me go!'  She rushed to the door; they held the door, she
shrieked.  Then the one who had been to see us the day before ran
up and slapped my Olya twice in the face and pushed her out of the
door:  'You don't deserve to be in a respectable house, you skinny
slut!'  And another shouted after her on the stairs:  'You came of
yourself to beg of us because you have nothing to eat, but we won't
look at such an ugly fright!'  All that night she lay in a fever
and delirious and in the morning her eyes glittered; she got up and
walked about.  'Justice,' she cried, 'she must be brought to
justice!'  I said nothing, but I thought, 'If you brought her up
how could we prove it?'  She walked about with set lips, wringing
her hands and tears streaming down her face.  And her whole face
seemed darkened from that time up to the very end.  On the third
day she seemed better; she was quiet and seemed calmer.  And then
at four o'clock in the afternoon M. Versilov came to us.  And I
must say I can't understand, even now, how Olya, who was always so
mistrustful, was ready to listen to him almost at the first word.
What attracted us both more than anything was that he had such a
grave, almost stern air; he spoke gently, impressively, and so
politely--more than politely, respectfully even--and yet at the
same time he showed no sign of trying to make up to us: it was
plain to see he had come with a pure heart.  'I read your
advertisement in the paper,' said he.  'You did not word it
suitably, madam, and you may damage your prospects by that.'  And
he began explaining--I must own I did not understand--something
about arithmetic, but I saw that Olya flushed and seemed to
brighten up altogether.  She listened and talked readily (and, to
be sure, he must be a clever man!); I heard her even thank him.  He
questioned her so minutely about everything, and it seemed that he
had lived a long time in Moscow, and it turned out that he knew the
head mistress of the high school.  'I will be sure to find you
lessons,' said he, 'for I know a great many people here, and I can,
in fact, apply to many influential people, so that if you would
prefer a permanent situation we might look out for that. . . .
Meanwhile,' said he, 'forgive me one direct question: can I be of
some use to you at once?  It will be your doing me a favour, not my
doing you one,' said he, 'if you will allow me to be of use to you
in any way.  Let it be a loan,' said he, 'and as soon as you have a
situation, in a very short time, you will be able to repay me.
Believe me, on my honour,' said he, 'if ever I were to come to
poverty and you had plenty of everything I would come straight to
you for some little help.  I would send my wife and daughter' . . .
at least, I don't remember all his words, only I was moved to
tears, for I saw that Olya's lips were trembling with gratitude
too.  'If I take it,' she answered him, 'it is because I trust an
honourable and humane man, who might have been my father. . . .'
That was very well said by her, briefly and with dignity.  'A
humane man,' said she.  He stood up at once:  'I will get you
lessons and a situation without fail.  I will set to work this very
day, for you have quite a satisfactory diploma too. . . .'  I
forgot to say that he looked through all her school certificates
when he first came in; she showed them to him, and he examined her
in several subjects. . . .  'You see, he examined me, mamma,' Olya
said to me afterwards, 'and what a clever man he is,' she said;
'it is not often one speaks to such a well-educated, cultured
man. . . .'  And she was quite radiant.  The money--sixty roubles,
lay on the table:  'Take it, mamma,' said she; 'when I get a
situation we will pay it back as soon as possible.  We will show
that we are honest and that we have delicacy: he has seen that
already, though.'  Then she paused.  I saw her draw a deep breath.
'Do you know, mamma,' she said to me suddenly, 'if we had been
coarse we should perhaps have refused to take it through pride, but
by taking it now we only show our delicacy of feeling and that we
trust him completely, out of respect for his grey hair, don't we?'
At first I did not quite understand:  'But why, Olya, not accept the
benevolence a wealthy and honourable man if he has a good heart
too?'  She scowled at me.  'No, mamma,' she said, 'that's not it; I
don't want benevolence, but his humanity is precious.  And it would
have been better really not to have taken the money at all, since
he has promised to get me a situation; that's enough . . . though
we are in need.'  'Well, Olya,' said I, 'our need is so great that
we could not have refused it.'  I actually laughed.  Well, I was
pleased, but an hour later she turned to me:  'Don't spend that
money yet, mamma,' said she resolutely.  'What?' said I.  'I mean
it,' she said, and she broke off and said no more.  She was silent
all the evening, only at two o'clock in the night I waked up and
heard Olya tossing in her bed:  'Are you awake, mamma?'  'Yes, I am
awake.'  'Do you know, he meant to insult me.'  'What nonsense,
what nonsense,' I said.  'There is no doubt of it,' she said; 'he
is a vile man; don't dare to spend a farthing of his money.'  I
tried to talk to her.  I burst out crying, in bed as I was.  She
turned away to the wall.  'Be quiet,' she said, 'let me go to
sleep!'  In the morning I looked at her; she was not like herself.
And you may believe it or not, before God I swear she was not in
her right mind then!  From the time that she was insulted in that
infamous place there was darkness and perplexity in her heart . . .
and in her brain.  Looking at her that morning, I had misgivings
about her; I was alarmed.  I made up my mind I would not say a word
to contradict her.  'He did not even leave his address, mamma,' she
said.  'For shame, Olya,' I said; 'you listened to him last night;
you praised him and were ready to shed tears of gratitude.'  That
was all I said, but she screamed and stamped.  'You are a woman of
low feelings,' she said, 'brought up in the old slavish ideas. . . .'
And then, without a word, she snatched up her hat, ran out.  I
called after her.  I wondered what was the matter with her, where
she had run.  She had run to the address bureau to find out where
Versilov lived.  'I'll take him back the money today and fling it
in his face; he meant to insult me,' she said, 'like Safronov (that
is the merchant), but Safronov insulted me like a coarse peasant,
but he like a cunning Jesuit.'  And just then, unhappily, that
gentleman knocked at the door:  'I hear the name of Versilov,' he
said; 'I can tell you about him.'  When she heard Versilov's name
she pounced on him.  She was in a perfect frenzy; she kept talking
away.  I gazed at her in amazement.  She was always a silent girl
and had never talked to anyone like that, and with a perfect
stranger too.  Her cheeks were burning, her eyes glittered. . . .
And he said at once:  'You are perfectly right, madam.  Versilov,'
said he, 'is just like the generals here, described in the
newspapers; they dress themselves up with all their decorations and
go after all the governesses who advertise in the papers.
Sometimes they find what they want, or, if they don't, they sit and
talk a little, make bushels of promises and go away, having got
diversion out of it, anyway.'  Olya actually laughed, but so
bitterly, and I saw the gentleman take her hand and press it to his
heart.  'I am a man of independent means, madam,' said he, 'and
might well make a proposal to a fair maiden, but I'd better,' said
he, 'kiss your little hand to begin with. . . .'  And he was trying
to kiss her hand.  How she started!  But I came to the rescue, and
together we turned him out of the room.  Then, towards evening,
Olya snatched the money from me and ran out.  When she came back
she said, 'I have revenged myself on that dishonourable man,
mamma.'  'Oh, Olya, Olya,' I said, 'perhaps we have thrown away our
happiness.  You have insulted a generous, benevolent man!' I cried--
I was so vexed with her I could not help it.  She shouted at me.
'I won't have it, I won't have it!' she cried; 'if he were ever so
honest, I don't want his charity!  I don't want anyone to pity me!'
I went to bed with no thought of anything.  How many times I had
looked on that nail in your wall where once there had been a
looking-glass--it never entered my head, never; I never thought of
it yesterday and I'd never thought of it before; I had no inkling
of it, and I did not expect it of Olya at all.  I usually sleep
heavily and snore; it's the blood going to my head, and sometimes
it goes to my heart.  I call out in my sleep so that Olya wakes me
up at night.  'What is the matter with you, mamma?' she would say;
'you sleep so heavily there's no waking you.'  'Oh, Olya,' I said,
'I do, I do.'  That's how I must have slept this night, so that,
after waiting a bit, she got up without fear of waking me.  The
strap, a long one from our trunk, had been lying about all that
month where we could see it; only yesterday morning I had been
thinking of tidying it away.  And the chair she must have kicked
away afterwards, and she had put her petticoat down beside it to
prevent its banging on the floor.  And it must have been a long
time afterwards, a whole hour or more afterwards, that I waked up
and called 'Olya, Olya'; all at once I felt something amiss, and
called her name.  Either because I did not hear her breathing in
her bed, or perhaps I made out in the dark that the bed was empty--
anyway, I got up suddenly and felt with my hand; there was no one
in the bed and the pillow was cold.  My heart sank; I stood still
as though I were stunned; my mind was a blank.  'She's gone out,' I
thought.  I took a step, and by the bed I seemed to see her
standing in the corner by the door.  I stood still and gazed at her
without speaking, and through the darkness she seemed to look at me
without stirring. . . .  'But why has she got on a chair,' I
wondered.  'Olya,' I whispered.  I was frightened.  'Olya, do you
hear?'  But suddenly, as it were, it all dawned upon me.  I went
forward, held out both arms and put them round her, and she swayed
in my arms; I swayed and she swayed with me.  I understood and
would not understand. . . .  I wanted to cry out, but no cry
came. . . .  Ach!  I fell on the floor and shrieked. . . ."

          *        *        *        *        *        *

"Vassin," I said at six o'clock in the morning, "if it had not been
for your Stebelkov this might not have happened."

"Who knows?--most likely it would have happened.  One can't draw
such a conclusion; everything was leading up to it, apart from
that. . . .  It is true that Stebelkov sometimes. . . ."

He broke off and frowned disagreeably.  At seven o'clock he went
out again; he still had a great deal to do.  I was left at last
entirely alone.  It was by now daylight.  I felt rather giddy.  I
was haunted by the figure of Versilov: this lady's story had
brought him out in quite a different light.  To think this over
better, I lay down on Vassin's bed just as I was, in my clothes and
my boots, just for a minute, with no intention of going to sleep--
and suddenly I fell asleep; I don't remember how it happened,
indeed.  I slept almost four hours; nobody waked me.



I woke about half-past ten, and for a long time I could not believe
my eyes: on the sofa on which I had slept the previous night was
sitting my mother, and beside her--the unhappy mother of the dead
girl.  They were holding each other's hands, they were talking in
whispers, I suppose, that they might not wake me, and both were
crying.  I got up from the bed, and flew straight to kiss my
mother.  She positively beamed all over, kissed me and make the
sign of the cross over me three times with the right hand.  Before
we had time to say a word the door opened, and Versilov and Vassin
came in.  My mother at once got up and led the bereaved woman away.
Vassin gave me his hand, while Versilov sank into an armchair
without saying a word to me.  Mother and he had evidently been here
for some time.  His face looked overcast and careworn.

"What I regret most of all," he began saying slowly to Vassin,
evidently in continuation of what they had been discussing outside,
"is that I had no time to set it all right yesterday evening; then
probably this terrible thing would not have happened!  And indeed
there was time, it was hardly eight o'clock.  As soon as she ran
away from us last night, I inwardly resolved to follow her and to
reassure her, but this unforeseen and urgent business, though of
course I might quite well have put it off till to-day . . . or even
for a week--this vexatious turn of affairs has hindered and ruined
everything.  That's just how things do happen!"

"Perhaps you would not have succeeded in reassuring her; things had
gone too far already, apart from you," Vassin put in.

"No, I should have succeeded, I certainly should have succeeded.
And the idea did occur to me to send Sofia Andreyevna in my place.
It flashed across my mind, but nothing more.  Sofia Andreyevna alone
would have convinced her, and the unhappy girl would have been
alive.  No, never again will I meddle . . . in 'good works' . . .
and it is the only time in my life I have done it!  And I imagined
that I had kept up with the times and understood the younger
generation.  But we elders grow old almost before we grow ripe.
And, by the way, there are a terrible number of modern people who go
on considering themselves the younger generation from habit, because
only yesterday they were such, and meantime they don't notice that
they are no longer under the ban of the orthodox."

"There has been a misunderstanding, and the misunderstanding is
quite evident," Vassin observed reasonably.  "Her mother maintains
that after the cruel way she was insulted in that infamous house,
she seemed to lose her reason.  Add to that her circumstances, the
insult in the first place from the merchant . . . all this might
have happened in the past, and, to my mind, is in no way
particularly characteristic of the younger generation of to-day."

"It's impatient, the present generation, and has little
understanding of reality; and, although that's true of all young
people in all ages, it's particularly so in this . . . tell me,
what part had Mr. Stebelkov in the trouble?"

"Mr. Stebelkov," I put in suddenly, "was the cause of it all.  If
it hadn't been for him nothing would have happened.  He poured oil
on the flames."

Versilov listened, but he did not glance at me.  Vassin frowned.

"I blame myself for one ridiculous circumstance," Versilov went on
deliberately, dwelling on each syllable as before, "I believe that
in my usual stupid way I allowed myself to be lively after a
fashion--this frivolous little laugh--in fact, I was not
sufficiently abrupt, dry and gloomy, three characteristics which
seem to be greatly prized by the young generation.  In fact, I gave
her grounds for suspecting me of being a gay deceiver."

"Quite the opposite," I put in abruptly again, "the mother lays
particular stress on your having made the best possible impression
through your gravity, severity even, and sincerity--those were her
very words.  The dead girl herself praised you on the same grounds
directly after you'd gone."

"Y-yes?" Versilov mumbled with a cursory glance in my direction at
last.  "Take this scrap of paper, it's essential to the business"--
he held out a tiny sheet to Vassin.  Vassin took it, and seeing I
was looking at him with curiosity, gave it to me to read.  It was a
note of two straggling lines scrawled in pencil, and perhaps in the

"Mother darling, forgive me for cutting short my debut into life.
Your Olya who is causing you such grief."

"That was only found this morning," Vassin explained

"What a strange letter!" I cried in astonishment.

"Why strange?" asked Vassin.

"How can anyone use humorous expressions at such a minute?"

Vassin looked at me inquiringly.

"And the humour is strange too," I went on.  "It's the conventional
school jargon that schoolfellows use with one another.  Who could
write 'cut short my debut into life' at such a moment, in such a
letter to her unhappy mother--and she seems to have loved her
mother too."

"Why not write it?" said Vassin, still not understanding.

"There's absolutely no humour about it," observed Versilov at last,
"the expression, of course, is inappropriate, and quite incongruous,
and may, as you say, have been picked up from some high-school slang
or from some journalistic stuff; but the dead girl used it in that
awful letter quite simply and earnestly"

"That's impossible; she had completed her studies and won the
silver medal."

"A silver medal has nothing to do with it.  Lots of them complete
their studies as brilliantly nowadays."

"The younger generation again," said Vassin, smiling.

"Not at all," said Versilov, getting up and taking his hat.  If the
present generation is deficient on the literary side there's no
doubt that it possesses other qualifications," he added with
unusual gravity.  "At the same time 'many' does not mean 'all':
you, for instance, I don't accuse of being badly educated on the
literary side, and you're a young man too."

"Vassin saw nothing wrong in the use of 'debut' either," I could
not resist saying.

Versilov held out his hand to Vassin without speaking.  The latter
took up his cap to go with him, calling out to me:  "Goodbye for
now."  Versilov went out without noticing me.  I too had no time to
lose.  Come what might, I had to run and find a lodging--now more
necessary than ever.  My mother was not with the landlady.  She had
gone out, taking the bereaved woman with her.  I went out into the
street, feeling particularly cheerful and confident.  A new and
mighty feeling had sprung up in my soul.  As luck would have it,
everything helped to maintain this mood.  I was exceptionally
fortunate and quickly found a lodging in every way suitable.  Of
this lodging later, but for the moment I will continue with what is
more important.

It was past one when I went back to Vassin's to fetch my trunk, and
again found him at home.  When he saw me he cried with a sincere
and good-humoured air:

"How glad I am you've caught me!  I was just going out.  I can tell
you a piece of news that I think will interest you particularly."

"I'm sure of that," I cried.

"I say, you do look cheerful!  Tell me, did you know anything about
a letter that was preserved by Kraft, and came into Versilov's
hands yesterday, something concerning the lawsuit he has just won?
In this letter, the testator declares intentions contrary to the
decision in the lawcourts yesterday.  The letter was written long
ago.  I know nothing definite about it in fact, but don't you know

"To be sure I do.  The day before yesterday Kraft took me home with
him from those people on purpose to give me the letter, and I gave
it to Versilov yesterday."

"Yes?  That's just what I thought.  Only fancy, that's just the
business Versilov was speaking of just now, that prevented him from
coming yesterday evening to see that girl---it was owing to that
letter.  Versilov went straight yesterday evening to Prince
Sokolsky's lawyer, handed in the letter, and refused to take the
fortune he had won.  By now this refusal has been put into legal
form.  Versilov is not making Prince Sokolsky a present of the
money, but declares that he acknowledges his claim to it."

I was dumbfoundered, but ecstatic.  I had in reality been convinced
that Versilov would destroy the letter, and, what is more, though I
had told Kraft that this would be dishonourable, and although I had
repeated this to myself in the restaurant, and had told myself that
"it was to find a true man, not a man like this that I had come"--
yet deeper down, that is, in my inmost soul, I felt that there was
nothing to be done but to destroy the letter, that is to say, I
looked upon this as quite a natural thing to do.  If I blamed
Versilov for it afterwards I simply blamed him on purpose, to keep
up appearances, and to maintain my moral superiority.  But hearing
now of Versilov's noble action I was moved to genuine and whole-
hearted enthusiasm, blaming myself with shame and remorse for my
cynicism and indifference to principle, and instantly exalting
Versilov to heights far above me.  I almost embraced Vassin.

"What a man!  What a man!" I exclaimed, rapturously.  "Who else
would have done it?"

"I quite agree with you that very many people would not have done
it . . . and that it was undoubtedly an extremely disinterested
action. . . ."

"But . . . ?  Finish, Vassin.  You have a 'but'?"

"Yes, of course there is a 'but'; Versilov's action, to my mind, is
a little too hasty, and not quite ingenuous," said Vassin with a

"Not ingenuous?"

"Yes.  There's too much of the 'hero on the pedestal' about it.
For in any case he might have done the same thing without injuring
himself.  Some part of the inheritance, if not half of it, might
well have remained with him, even from the most scrupulous
standpoint, especially as the letter has no legal significance, and
he has already won the case.  The lawyer on the other side shares
my opinion.  I've just been talking to him.  His conduct would have
been no less handsome; but simply through a whim due to pride,
things have turned out differently.  What's more, Mr. Versilov let
himself be carried away by his feelings, and acted too precipitately.
He said himself yesterday that he might have put it off for a whole
week. . . ."

"Do you know, Vassin, I can't help agreeing with you, but . . . I
like it better so, it pleases me more!"

"However, it's a matter of taste!  You asked for my opinion or I
should have held my tongue."

"Even if there is something of the 'pedestal' about it, so much the
better," I said.  "A pedestal may be a pedestal but in itself it's
a very precious thing.  This 'pedestal' is, anyway, an 'ideal' of a
sort, and it's by no means an improvement that some modern souls
are without it: it's better to have it even in a slightly distorted
form!  And I'm sure you think so yourself, Vassin darling, Vassin,
my dear Vassin!  I am raving but of course you understand me.
That's what you're for, Vassin.  In any case I embrace and kiss
you, Vassin!"

"So pleased?"

"Yes, awfully pleased.  For the man 'was dead and liveth, he was
lost and is found'!  Vassin, I'm a miserable wretch of a boy, I'm
not as good as you.  I recognize it just because at some moments
I'm different, deeper and loftier.  I say this because the day
before yesterday I flattered you to your face (and I did that
because I had been humiliated and crushed)--I hated you for it for
two whole days.  I swore the same night that I would never come and
see you, and I came to you yesterday morning simply from spite, do
you understand, FROM SPITE.  I sat here alone criticizing your room
and you, and every one of your books and your landlady.  I tried to
humble you and laugh at you."

"You shouldn't say that. . . ."

"Yesterday evening, when I concluded from some phrase of yours that
you did not understand women, I felt glad that I was able to detect
you in it.  This morning, when I scored off you over the 'debut,' I
was awfully pleased again, and all because I had praised you up so

"I should think so indeed!" Vassin cried at last (he still went on
smiling, not in the least surprised at me).  "Why, that happens
with almost every one, only no one admits it, and one ought not to
confess it at all, because in any case it passes, and leads to

"Is it really the same with every one?  Is every one the same?  And
you say that quite calmly?  Why, one can't go on living with such

"You think then that:

          To me more dear the lie ennobling
          Than Truth's dark infamy revealed!"

"But that's true, you know," I cried.  "There's a sacred axiom in
those two lines!"

"I don't know.  I can't undertake to decide whether those lines are
true or not.  Perhaps, as always, the truth lies in the mean: that
is, that in one case truth is sacred and in another falsehood.  The
only thing I know for certain is that that idea will long remain
one of the questions most disputed among men.  In any case I
observe that at the moment you're longing to dance.  Well, dance
away then, exercise is wholesome; but I have a mass of work to get
through this morning . . . and I've lingered on with you till I'm

"I'm going!  I'm going!  I'm just off!  One word only," I cried,
after seizing my trunk, "my 'throwing myself on your neck' again;
it's simply because when I came in you told me this news with such
genuine pleasure and were 'so glad' I had found you, and after the
'debut' incident this morning; that real gladness of yours turned
my 'youthful ardent soul' to you again.  Well, good-bye, good-bye,
I'll do my best not to come in the future, and I know that that
will please you very much, as I see from your eyes, and it will be
an advantage to both of us."

Chattering like this, and almost spluttering in my joyful babble,
I hauled up my trunk and set off with it to my lodging.  What
delighted me most of all was that Versilov had been so unmistakably
angry with me, and had been unwilling to speak to me or look at me.
As soon as I had deposited my trunk, I at once flew off to my old
prince.  I must confess that I had rather felt not seeing him those
two days.  Besides, he would no doubt have heard already about


I knew he would be delighted to see me, and I protest that I should
have gone, apart from Versilov altogether.  What had alarmed me
yesterday and that morning was the thought that I might meet
Katerina Nikolaevna; but now I was afraid of nothing.

He embraced me joyfully.

"About Versilov!  Have you heard?" I began forthwith on the great

"Cher enfant, my dear boy, it's so magnanimous, so noble--in fact
it made an overwhelming impression even on Kilyan" (this was the
clerk downstairs).  "It's injudicious on his part, but it's
magnificent, it's heroic!  One must cherish the ideal!"

"Yes, one must, mustn't one?  We were always agreed about that."

"My dear boy, we always have agreed.  Where have you been?  I
wanted very much to come and see you but I didn't know where to
find you . . . for I couldn't go to Versilov's anyway. . . .
Though now, after all this . . . you know, my boy, I believe it's
by this he has always conquered the women's hearts, by these
qualities, no doubt of it. . . ."

"By the way, for fear I forget it, I've been saving this up for
you.  A very low fellow, a ridiculous fool, abusing Versilov to my
face yesterday, used the expression that he was a 'petticoat
prophet'; what an expression--was it his own expression?  I have
been treasuring it up for you. . . ."

"A 'petticoat prophet'?  Mais . . . c'est charmant!  Ha-ha!  But
that fits him so well, or rather it doesn't--foo! . . .  But it's
so apt . . . at least it's not apt at all but. . . ."

"Never mind, never mind, don't worry yourself, look upon it simply
as a bon mot!"

"It's a capital bon mot, and do you know, it has a deep
significance. . .  There's a perfectly true idea in it.  That is,
would you believe it. . . .  In fact, I'll tell you a tiny little
secret.  Have you noticed that girl Olympiada?  Would you believe
it, she's got a little heartache for Andrey Petrovitch; in fact it
goes so far as cherishing a . . ."

"Cherishing!  What doesn't she deserve?" I cried with a gesture of

"Mon cher, don't shout, it's all nonsense, it may be you're right
from your point of view.  By the way, what was the matter with you
last time you were here and Katerina Nikolaevna arrived? . . .  You
staggered; I thought you were going to fall down, and was on the
point of rushing to support you."

"Never mind that now.  The fact is I was simply confused for a
special reason. . . ."

"You're blushing now."

"And you must rub it in of course.  You know that she's on bad
terms with Versilov . . . and then all this; so it upset me.  Ech,
leave that; later!"

"Yes, let's leave it!  I'm delighted to. . . .  In fact, I've been
very much to blame in regard to her and I remember I grumbled about
her to you. . . .  Forget it, my dear; she will change her opinion
of you, too.  I quite foresee that. . . .  Ah, here's Prince

A handsome young officer walked in.  I looked at him eagerly, I had
never seen him before.  I call him handsome for every one called
him so, but there was something not altogether attractive in that
handsome young face.  I note this as the impression made the first
instant, my first view of him, which remained with me always.

He was thin and finely built, with brown hair, a fresh but somewhat
sallow skin and an expression of determination.  There was a rather
hard look in his beautiful dark eyes even when he was perfectly
calm.  But his resolute expression repelled one just because one
felt that its resoluteness cost him little.  But I cannot put it
into words. . . .  It is true that his face was able to change
suddenly from hardness to a wonderfully friendly, gentle and tender
expression, and, what is more, with unmistakable frankness.  It was
just that frankness which was attractive.  I will note another
characteristic: in spite of its friendliness and frankness his face
never looked gay; oven when he laughed with whole-hearted mirth
there was always a feeling that there was no trace in his heart of
genuine, serene, lighthearted gaiety. . . .  But it is extremely
difficult to describe a face like this.  I'm utterly incapable of
it.  In his usual stupid way the old prince hastened to introduce

"This is my young friend Arkady Andreyevitch Dolgoruky" (again

The young man turned to me with redoubled courtesy, but it was
evident that my name was quite unknown to him.

"He's . . . a relation of Andrey Petrovitch's," murmured my
vexatious old prince.  (How tiresome these old men sometimes are
with their little ways!)  The young man at once realized who I was.

"Ach!  I heard of you long ago. . . ." he said quickly.  "I had the
very great pleasure of making the acquaintance of your sister
Lizaveta Makarovna last year at Luga. . . .  She talked to me about
you too."

I was surprised; there was a glow of real pleasure in his face.

"Excuse me, prince," I answered, drawing back both my hands, "I
ought to tell you frankly, and I'm glad to be speaking in the
presence of our dear prince, that I was actually desirous of
meeting you, and quite recently, only yesterday, desired it with
very different motives.  I tell you this directly although it may
surprise you.  In short, I wanted to challenge you for the insult
you offered to Versilov a year and a half ago in Ems.  And though
perhaps you would not have accepted my challenge, as I'm only a
schoolboy, and not of age, yet I should have sent you the
challenge, however you might have taken it or whatever you might
have done, and I confess I have the same intention still."

The old prince told me afterwards that I succeeded in pronouncing
these words with great dignity.

There was a look of genuine distress on the young man's face.

"You didn't let me finish," he answered earnestly.  "The real
cordiality with which I greeted you is due to my present feeling
for Andrey Petrovitch.  I'm sorry I cannot at once tell you all the
circumstances.  But I assure you on my honour that I have long
regarded my unfortunate conduct at Ems with the greatest regret.  I
resolved on my return to Petersburg to make every reparation within
my power, that is, literally to make him an apology in any form he
might select.  The highest and weightiest considerations have
caused this change in my views.  The fact that we were at law with
one another would not have affected my determination in the least.
His action in regard to me yesterday has, so to speak, moved me to
the depths of my soul, and even now, would you believe it, I can't
get over it.  And now, I must tell you, I've come to the prince to
inform him of an astounding circumstance.  Three hours ago, that
is, just at the time when he was drawing up the deed with the
lawyer, a friend of Andrey Petrovitch's came to me bringing a
challenge from him to a duel . . . a formal challenge for the
affair at Ems. . . ."

"He challenged you?" I cried, and I felt that my eyes glowed and
the blood rushed into my face.

"Yes, challenged me.  I at once accepted the challenge, but resolved
before our meeting to send him a letter in which I explain my view
of my conduct, and my deep regret for my horrible blunder . . . for
it was only a blunder, an unlucky, fatal blunder!  I may observe
that my position in the regiment forced me to run the risk of this
duel, and that by sending such a letter before our meeting I have
exposed myself to public censure . . . do you understand?  But in
spite of that, I made up my mind to send it, and I've only not done
so because an hour after the challenge I received another letter
from him in which he apologizes for having troubled me, asks me to
forget the challenge, and adds that he regrets his 'momentary
outburst of cowardice and egoism'--his own words.  So that he
relieves me from all obligation to send the letter.  I had not yet
dispatched it, but I have come to say something about this to the
prince. . . .  And I assure you I have suffered far more from the
reproaches of my conscience than anyone. . . .  Is this sufficient
explanation for you, Arkady Makarovitch, for the time at any rate?
Will you do me the honour to believe in my complete sincerity?"

I was completely conquered.  I found a perfect frankness, which was
the last thing I had expected.  Indeed, I had expected nothing of
this kind.  I muttered something in reply and forthwith held out
both hands.  He shook both of them in his delightedly.  Then he
drew the old prince away and talked to him for five minutes in the
latter's bedroom.

"If you want to do me particular pleasure," he said frankly in a
loud voice, addressing me as he came out of the prince's room,
"come back straight with me and I will show you the letter I am
just sending to Andrey Petrovitch and with it his letter to me."

I consented with the utmost readiness.  My old prince made a great
bustle at seeing us off and called me, too, apart into his room for
a minute.

"Mon ami, how glad I am, how glad I am. . . .  We'll talk of it all
later.  By the way, I've two letters here in my portfolio.  One has
to be delivered with a personal explanation and the other must go
to the bank--and there too. . . ."

And he at once gave me two commissions which he pretended were
urgent and required exceptional effort and attention.  I should
have to go, deliver them myself, give a receipt and so on.

"Ha, you are cunning!" I cried as I took the letters, "I swear all
this is nonsense and you've no work for me to do at all.  You've
invented these two jobs on purpose to make me believe that I am of
use and not taking money for nothing."

"Mon enfant, I protest that you are mistaken.  They are both urgent
matters.  Cher enfant!" he cried, suddenly overcome by a rush of
emotion, "my dear young friend" (he put both hands on my head), "I
bless you and your destiny.  Let us always be as true-hearted as
to-day . . . as kind-hearted and good as possible, let us love all
that is fair and good . . . in all its varied forms. . . .  Well,
enfin . . . enfin rendons grace . . . et je te benis!"

He could not go on, but whimpered over my head.  I must confess I
was almost in tears too; anyway I embraced my queer old friend with
sincere and delighted feeling.  We kissed each other warmly.


Prince Sergay as I shall call him (that is Prince Sergay Petrovitch
Sokolsky) drove me in a smart victoria to his flat, and my first
impression was one of surprise at its magnificence.  Not that it
was really magnificent, but it was a flat such as "well-to-do
people" live in, light, large, lofty rooms (I saw two of them) and
the furniture well padded, comfortable, abundant and of the best--
though I've no idea whether it was in the Versailles or Renaissance
style.  There were rugs, carvings, and statuettes, though everybody
said that the Sokolskys were beggars, and had absolutely nothing.
I had heard, however, that Prince Sergay had cut a dash wherever he
could, here, in Moscow, in his old regiment and in Paris, that he
was a gambler and that he had debts.  My coat was crumpled and
covered with fluff, too, because I had slept in it without
undressing, and this was the fourth day I had worn my shirt.  My
coat was not really shabby but when I went into Prince Sergay's, I
recalled Versilov's suggestion that I should have a new suit.

"Only fancy, owing to a case of suicide, I slept all night without
undressing," I observed with a casual air, and as he immediately
looked attentive I briefly told the story.  But what interested him
most was evidently his letter.  What seemed strangest to me was
that he had not smiled nor betrayed the slightest symptom of
amusement when I had told him I meant to challenge him to a duel.
Though I should have been able to prevent his laughing, his gravity
was strange in a man of his class.  We sat opposite one another in
the middle of the room, at his immense writing table, and he handed
me for my inspection the fair copy of his letter to Versilov.  The
letter was very much like all that he had just told me at the old
prince's; it was written with warmth, indeed.  I really did not
know at first what to make of his evident frankness and his
apparent leaning towards what was good and right, but I was already
beginning to be conquered by it, for after all what reason had I
for disbelieving it?  Whatever he was like, and whatever stories
were told of him, he yet might have good impulses.  I looked, too,
at Versilov's second note, which consisted of seven lines--his
withdrawal of his challenge.  Though he did, it is true, speak of
his own cowardice and egoism, yet on the whole the note was
suggestive of a sort of disdain . . . or rather there was apparent
in the whole episode a superlative nonchalance.  I did not,
however, utter this thought aloud.

"What do you think of this withdrawal, though?" I asked, "you don't
suppose he acted from cowardice, do you?"

"Of course not," said Prince Sergay with a smile, though a very
grave one, and in fact he was becoming more and more preoccupied.
"I know quite well how manly he is.  It's a special point of
view . . . his peculiar turn of ideas."

"No doubt," I broke in warmly.  "A fellow called Vassin says that
there's too much of the 'pedestal' about the line he has taken with
this letter and his refusing to take the fortune. . . .  But to my
mind things like that aren't done for effect but correspond with
something fundamental within."

"I know Mr. Vassin very well," observed Prince Sergay.

"Oh, yes, you must have seen him in Luga."

We suddenly glanced at one another, and, I remember, I flushed a
little.  Anyway he changed the subject.  I had a great longing to
talk, however.  The thought of one person I had met the day before
tempted me to ask him certain questions, but I did not know how to
approach the subject.  And altogether I felt ill at ease.  I was
impressed, too, by his perfect breeding, his courtesy, his manner,
his absence of constraint, in fact by the polish which these
aristocrats acquire almost from the cradle.  I saw two glaring
mistakes in grammar in his letter.  And as a rule, when I meet such
people I'm not at all overawed and only become more abrupt, which
is sometimes, perhaps, a mistake.  But on this occasion the thought
that I was covered with fluff contributed to my discomfiture so
that, in fact, I floundered a little and dropped into being over-
familar.  I caught Prince Sergay eyeing me very intently at times.

"Tell me, prince," I blurted out suddenly, "don't you secretly
think it absurd that a youngster like me should think of
challenging you, especially for an affront to some one else?"

"An affront to a father may well be resented.  No, I don't think
it's absurd."

"It seems to me that it's dreadfully absurd . . . from one point of
view, not of course from my own.  Especially as my name is
Dolgoruky and not Versilov.  And if you're telling me a falsehood,
or are trying to smooth things over simply from worldly politeness,
it stands to reason that you are deceiving me in everything else."

"No, I don't think it's absurd," he repeated with great seriousness.
"How could you help feeling like a son to your father?  It's true,
you're young . . . because . . . I don't know . . . I believe that a
youth not of age can't fight a duel . . . and a challenge can't be
accepted from him . . . by the rules. . . .  But there is, if you
like, one serious objection to be made: if you send a challenge
without the knowledge of the offended party on whose behalf you are
acting, you seem to be guilty of a certain lack of respect to him,
don't you? . . ."

Our conversation was interrupted by a footman who came in to make
some announcement.  Prince Sergay, who seemed to have been
expecting him, went at once to meet him without finishing what he
was saying.  So the announcement was made in an undertone and I did
not hear it.

"Excuse me," said Prince Sergay, turning to me, "I'll be back in a

And he went out.  I was left alone; I walked up and down the room,
thinking.  Strange to say, he attracted me and at the same time
repelled me intensely.  There was something in him for which I could
not find a name, though it was very repellent.  "If he isn't laughing
at me he certainly must be very guileless, but if he has been
laughing at me then . . . perhaps I should think him cleverer. . . ."
I thought rather oddly.  I went up to the table, and read the letter
to Versilov once more.  In my abstraction I didn't notice the time,
but when I roused myself I found that the prince's minute had lasted
at least a quarter of an hour.  This disturbed me a little; I walked
up and down once more, at last I took my hat and decided, I remember,
to go out to try and find some one to send to Prince Sergay, and
when he came, to say good-bye to him at once, declaring that I had
work to do and could stay no longer.  I fancied that that would be
the most suitable thing to do, for I was rather tormented by the
idea that he was treating me very casually in leaving me so long.

There were two doors in the room, both shut, and on the same side,
one at each end of it.  Forgetting which door I had come in by, or
rather lost in thought, I opened one of them, and suddenly, in a
long narrow room, I saw, sitting on the sofa, my sister Liza.
There was no one else in the room and she was certainly waiting for
some one.  But before I had time even to feel surprised, I heard
the voice of Prince Sergay speaking loudly to some one, and
returning to the study.  I hurriedly closed the door and Prince
Sergay, coming in at the other, noticed nothing.  I remember he
began to apologize and said something about "Anna Fyodorovna."  But
I was so amazed and confused that I hardly took in what he said,
and could only mutter that I simply must go home, and stubbornly
persisting in this, I beat a hasty retreat.  The well-bred prince
must have looked with curiosity at my manners.  He came with me
right into the hall, still talking, and I neither answered nor
looked at him.


I turned to the left when I got into the street and walked away at
random.  There was nothing coherent in my mind.  I walked along
slowly and I believe I had walked a good way, some five hundred
paces, when I felt a light tap on my shoulder.  I turned and saw
Liza; she had overtaken me and tapped me on the shoulder with her
umbrella.  There was a wonderful gaiety and a touch of roguishness
in her beaming eyes.

"How glad I am you came this way, or I shouldn't have met you to-
day!"  She was a little out of breath from walking fast.

"How breathless you are."

"I've been running so as to catch you up."

"Liza, was it you I saw just now?"


"At the prince's. . . .  At Prince Sokolsky's."

"No, it wasn't me.  You didn't see me. . . ."

I made no answer and we walked on for ten paces.  Liza burst into a
fit of laughter.

"It was me, of course it was!  Why, you saw me yourself, you looked
into my eyes, and I looked into yours, so how can you ask whether
you saw me?  What a character!  And do you know I dreadfully wanted
to laugh when you looked at me then.  You looked so awfully funny."

She laughed violently.  I felt all the anguish in my heart fade
away at once.

"But tell me how did you come to be there?"

"To see Anna Fyodorovna."

"What Anna Fyodorovna?"

"Mme. Stolbyeev.  When we were staying in Luga I used to spend
whole days with her.  She used to receive mother, too, and used
even to come and see us, though she visited scarcely anyone else
there.  She is a distant relation of Andrey Petrovitch's, and a
relation of Prince Sokolsky's too: she's a sort of old aunt of

"Then she lives at Prince Sokolsky's?"

"No, he lives with her."

"Then whose flat is it?"

"It's her flat.  The whole flat has been hers for the last year.
Prince Sokolsky has only just arrived and is staying with her.
Yes, and she's only been in Petersburg four days herself."

"I say, Liza, bother her flat and her too!"

"No, she's splendid."

"Well, let her be, that's her affair.  We're splendid too!  See
what a day it is, see how jolly!  How pretty you are to-day, Liza.
But you're an awful baby though."

"Arkady, tell me, that girl, the one who came yesterday. . . ."

"Oh, the pity of it, Liza!  The pity of it!"

"Ach, what a pity!  What a fate!  Do you know it's a sin for us to
be walking here so happily while her soul is hovering somewhere in
darkness, in some unfathomable darkness, after her sin and the
wrong done her. . . .  Arkady, who was responsible for her suicide?
Oh, how terrible it is!  Do you ever think of that outer darkness?
Ach, how I fear death, and how sinful it is.  I don't like the
dark, what a glorious thing the sun is!  Mother says it's a sin to
be afraid. . . .  Arkady, do you know mother well?

"Very little, Liza.  Very little so far."

"Ah, what a wonderful person she is; and you ought to get to know
her!  She needs understanding. . . ."

"Yes, but you see, I didn't know you either; but I know you now,
thoroughly.  I've found you out altogether in one minute.  Though
you are afraid of death, Liza, you must be proud, bold, plucky.
Better than I am, ever so much better!  I like you awfully, Liza.
Ach, Liza! let death come when it must, but meantime let us live--
let us live!  Oh, let us pity that poor girl, but let us bless life
all the same!  Don't you think so?  I have an 'idea,' Liza.  Liza,
you know, of course, that Versilov has refused to take the fortune?
You don't know my soul, Liza, you don't know what that man has
meant to me. . . ."

"Not know indeed!  I know all that."

"You know all about it?  But, of course, you would!  You're
clever, cleverer than Vassin.  Mother and you have eyes that are
penetrating and humane, I mean a point of view that is.  I'm
talking nonsense. . . .  Liza, I'm not good for much, in lots of

"You want taking in hand, that's all."

"Take me in hand, Liza.  How nice it is to look at you to-day.  Do
you know that you are very pretty?  I have never seen your eyes
before. . . .  I've only seen them for the first time to-day . . .
where did you get them to-day, Liza?  Where have you bought them?
What price have you paid for them?  Liza, I've never had a friend,
and I've thought the idea of friendship nonsense; but it's not
nonsense with you. . . .  Shall we be friends!  You understand what
I mean?"

"I quite understand."

"And you know--we'll simply be friends, no conditions, no contract."

"Yes, simply, simply, with only one condition: that if we ever
blame one another, if we're displeased about anything, if we become
nasty and horrid, even if we forget all this,--we will never forget
this day, and this hour!  Let's vow that to ourselves.  Let us vow
that we will always remember this day and how we walked arm in arm
together, and how we laughed and were gay. . . .  Yes?  Shall we?"

"Yes, Liza, yes, I swear.  But, Liza, I feel as though I'm hearing
you talk for the first time. . . .  Liza, have you read much?"

"He has never asked till now!  Only yesterday for the first time,
when I said something, you deigned to notice me, honoured sir, Mr.

"But why didn't you begin to talk to me if I've been such a fool?"

"I kept expecting you'd grow wiser.  I've been watching you from
the very first, Arkady Makarovitch, and as I watched you I said to
myself 'he'll come to me, it's bound to end in his coming'--and I
made up my mind I'd better leave you the honour of taking the first
step.  'No,' I said to myself, 'you can run after me.'"

"Ah, you coquette!  Come, Liza, tell me honestly, have you been
laughing at me for the last month?"

"Oh, you are funny, you're awfully funny, Arkady!  And do you know,
what I've been loving you for most all this month is your being so
queer.  But in some ways you're a horrid boy too--I say that for
fear you should grow conceited.  And do you know who else has been
laughing at you?  Mother's been laughing at you, mother and I
together.  'Oh my,' we whispered, 'what a queer boy!  My goodness,
what a queer boy!'  And you sat all the while imagining that we
were trembling before you."

"Liza, what do you think about Versilov?"

"I think a great deal about him; but we won't talk about him just
now, you know.  There's no need to talk of him to-day, is there?"

"Quite so!  Yes, you're awfully clever, Liza!  You are certainly
cleverer than I am.  You wait a bit, Liza, I'll make an end of all
this, and then I shall have something to tell you. . . ."

"What are you frowning at?"

"I'm not frowning, Liza, it's nothing. . . .  You see, Liza, it's
best to be open: it's a peculiarity of mine that I don't like some
tender spots on my soul being touched upon . . . or rather, it's
shameful to be often displaying certain feelings for the admiration
of all, isn't it?  So that I sometimes prefer to frown and hold my
tongue.  You're clever, you must understand."

"Yes, and what's more, I'm the same myself; I understand you in
everything.  Do you know that mother's the same too?"

"Ah, Liza!  Oh, to live a long while on this earth!  Ah?  What did
you say?"

"I said nothing."

"You're looking?"

"Yes, and so are you.  I look at you and love you."

I went with her almost all the way home and gave her my address.
As we parted, for the first time in my life I kissed her. . . .


And all this would have been very nice but there was one thing that
was not nice: one painful thought had been throbbing in my mind all
night and I could not shake it off.  This was, that when I had met
that unhappy girl at the gate I told her I was leaving the house
myself, leaving home, that one left bad people and made a home for
oneself, and that Versilov had a lot of illegitimate children.
Such words from a son about his father must, of course, have
confirmed all her suspicions of Versilov's character and of his
having insulted her.  I had blamed Stebelkov, but perhaps I had
been the chief one to pour oil on the flames.  That thought was
awful, it is awful even now. . . .  But then, that morning, though
I'd begun to be uneasy, I told myself it was all nonsense.  "Oh,
'things had gone too far already' apart from me," I repeated from
time to time, "it's nothing; it will pass! I shall get over it.  I
shall make up for this somehow, I've fifty years before me!"

But yet the idea haunted me.




I pass over an interval of almost two months.  The reader need not
be uneasy, everything will be clear from the latter part of my
story.  I start again from the 15th of November, a day I remember
only too well for many reasons.  To begin with, no one who had
known me two months before would have recognized me, externally
anyway, that is to say, anyone would have known me but would not
have been able to make me out.  To begin with I was dressed like a
dandy.  The conscientious and tasteful Frenchman, whom Versilov had
once tried to recommend me, had not only made me a whole suit, but
had already been rejected as not good enough.  I already had suits
made by other, superior, tailors, of a better class, and I even ran
up bills with them.  I had an account, too, at a celebrated
restaurant, but I was still a little nervous there and paid on the
spot whenever I had money, though I knew it was mauvais ton, and
that I was compromising myself by doing so.  A French barber on the
Nevsky Prospect was on familiar terms with me, and told me
anecdotes as he dressed my hair.  And I must confess I practised my
French on him.  Though I know French, and fairly well indeed, yet
I'm afraid of beginning to speak it in grand society; and I dare
say my accent is far from Parisian.  I have a smart coachman,
Matvey, with a smart turn-out, and he is always at my service when
I send for him; he has a pale sorrel horse, a fast trotter (I don't
like greys).  Everything is not perfect, however: it's the 15th of
November and has been wintry weather for the last three days, and
my fur coat is an old one, lined with raccoon, that once was
Versilov's.  It wouldn't fetch more than twenty-five roubles.  I
must get a new one, and my pocket is empty, and I must, besides,
have money in reserve for this evening whatever happens--without
that I shall be ruined and miserable: that was how I put it to
myself at the time.  Oh, degradation!  Where had these thousands
come from, these fast trotters, these expensive restaurants?  How
could I all at once change like this and forget everything?  Shame!
Reader, I am beginning now the story of my shame and disgrace, and
nothing in life can be more shameful to me than these

I speak as a judge and I know that I was guilty.  Even in the whirl
in which I was caught up, and though I was alone without a guide or
counsellor, I was, I swear, conscious of my downfall, and so
there's no excuse for me.  And yet, for those two months I was
almost happy--why almost?  I was quite happy!  And so happy--would
it be believed--that the consciousness of my degradation, of which
I had glimpses at moments (frequent moments!) and which made me
shudder in my inmost soul, only intoxicated me the more.  "What do
I care if I'm fallen!  And I won't fall, I'll get out of it!  I
have a lucky star!"  I was crossing a precipice on a thin plank
without a rail, and I was pleased at my position, and even peeped
into the abyss.  It was risky and it was delightful.  And "my
idea?"  My "idea" later, the idea would wait.  Everything that
happened was simply "a temporary deviation."  "Why not enjoy
oneself?"  That's what was amiss with my idea, I repeat, it
admitted of all sorts of deviations; if it had not been so firm and
fundamental I might have been afraid of deviating.

And meanwhile I kept on the same humble lodging; I kept it on but I
didn't live in it; there I kept my trunk, my bag, and my various
properties.  But I really lived with Prince Sergay.  I spent my
days there and I slept there at night.  And this went on for
weeks. . . .  How this came to pass I'll tell in a minute, but
meanwhile I will describe my little lodging.  It was already dear to
me. Versilov had come to see me there of himself, first of all after
our quarrel, and often subsequently.  I repeat, this was a period of
shame but of great happiness. . . .  Yes, and everything at that
time was so successful and so smiling.  "And what was all that
depression in the past about?" I wondered in some ecstatic moments,
"why those old painful self-lacerations, my solitary and gloomy
childhood, my foolish dreams under my quilt, my vows, my
calculations, even my 'idea'?  I imagined and invented all that, and
it turns out that the world's not like that at all; see how happy
and gay I am: I have a father--Versilov; I have a friend-- Prince
Sergay; I have besides . . . but that 'besides' we'll leave."

Alas, it was all done in the name of love, magnanimity, honour, and
afterwards it turned out hideous, shameless and ignominious.



He came to see me for the first time three days after our rupture.
I was not at home, and he waited for me.  Though I had been
expecting him every day, when I went into my tiny cupboard of a
room there was a mist before my eyes, and my heart beat so
violently that I stopped short in the doorway.  Fortunately my
landlord was with him, having thought it necessary to introduce
himself at once, that the visitor might not be bored with waiting.
He was eagerly describing something to Versilov.  He was a titular
counsellor, a man about forty, much disfigured by small-pox, very
poor, and burdened with a consumptive wife and an invalid child.
He was of a very communicative and unassuming character, but not
without tact.  I was relieved at his presence, which was a positive
deliverance for me, for what could I have said to Versilov?  I had
known, known in earnest that Versilov would come of his own
prompting--exactly as I wanted him to, for nothing in the world
would have induced me to go to him first, and not from obstinacy,
but just from love of him; a sort of jealous love--I can't express
it.  Indeed, the reader won't find me eloquent at any time.  But
though I had been expecting him for those three days, and had been
continually picturing how he would come in, yet though I tried my
utmost, I could not imagine what we should say to one another at
first, after all that had happened.

"Ah, here you are!" he said to me affectionately, holding out his
hand and not getting up.  "Sit down with us; Pyotr Ippolitovitch is
telling me something very interesting about that stone near the
Pavlovsky barracks . . . or somewhere in that direction."

"Yes, I know the stone," I made haste to answer, dropping into a
chair beside him.  They were sitting at the table.  The whole room
was just fourteen feet square.  I drew a deep breath.

There was a gleam of pleasure in Versilov's eyes.  I believe he was
uncertain, and afraid I should be demonstrative.  He was reassured.

"You must begin again, Pyotr Ippolitovitch."  They were already
calling each other by their names.

"It happened in the reign of the late Tsar," Pyotr Ippolitovitch
said, addressing me nervously and with some uneasiness, anxious as
to the effect of his story.  "You know that stone--a stupid stone
in the street, and what use is it, it's only in the way, you'd say,
wouldn't you?  The Tsar rode by several times, and every time there
was the stone.  At last the Tsar was displeased, and with good
reason; a rock, a regular rock standing in the street, spoiling it.
'Remove the stone!'  Well, he said remove it--you understand what
that means--'remove the stone!'  The late Tsar--do you remember
him?  What was to be done with the stone?  They all lost their
heads, there was the town council, and a most important person, I
can't remember his name, one of the greatest personages of the
time, who was put in charge of the matter.  Well, this great
personage listened; they told him it would cost fifteen thousand
roubles, no less, and in silver too (for it was not till the time
of the late Tsar that paper money could be changed into silver).
'Fifteen thousand, what a sum!'  At first the English wanted to
bring rails, and remove it by steam; but think what that would have
cost!  There were no railways then, there was only one running to

"Why, they might have smashed it up!" I cried, frowning.  I felt
horribly vexed and ashamed in Versilov's presence.  But he was
listening with evident pleasure.  I understood that he was glad to
have the landlord there, as he too was abashed with me. I saw that.
I remember I felt it somehow touching in him.

"Smash it up!  Yes, that was the very idea they arrived at.  And
Montferant, too,--he was building St. Isaak's Cathedral at the
time.--Smash it up, he said, and then take it away.  But what would
that cost?"

"It would cost nothing.  Simply break it up and carry it away."

"No, excuse me, a machine would be wanted to do it, a steam-engine,
and besides, where could it be taken?  And such a mountain, too!
'Ten thousand,' they said, 'not less than ten or twelve thousand.'"

"I say, Pyotr Ippolitovitch, that's nonsense, you know.  It
couldn't have been so. . . ."

But at that instant Versilov winked at me unseen, and in that wink
I saw such delicate compassion for the landlord, even distress on
his account, that I was delighted with it, and I laughed.

"Well, well then," cried the landlord, delighted; he had noticed
nothing, and was awfully afraid, as such story-tellers always are,
that he would be pestered with questions; "but then a Russian
workman walks up, a young fellow, you know the typical Russian,
with a beard like a wedge, in a long-skirted coat, and perhaps a
little drunk too . . . but no, he wasn't drunk.  He just stands by
while those Englishmen and Montferant are talking away, and that
great personage drives up just then in his carriage, and listens,
and gets angry at the way they keep discussing it and can't decide
on anything.  And suddenly he notices the workman at a distance
standing there and smiling deceitfully, that is, not deceitfully
though, I'm wrong there, what is it. . . ?"

"Derisively," Versilov prompted him discreetly.

"Derisively, yes, a little derisively, that kind, good Russian
smile, you know; the great personage was in a bad humour, you
understand:  'What are you waiting here for, big beard?' said he.
'Who are you?'

"'Why, I'm looking at this stone here, your Highness,' says he.
Yes, I believe he said Highness, and I fancy it was Prince Suvorov,
the Italian one, the ancestor of the general. . . .  But no, it was
not Suvorov, and I'm so sorry I've forgotten who it was exactly,
but though he was a Highness he was a genuine thorough-bred
Russian, a Russian type, a patriot, a cultured Russian heart; well,
he saw what was up.

"'What is it,' says he.  'Do you want to take away the stone?
What are you sniggering about?'

"'At the Englishmen, chiefly, your Highness.  They ask a prodigious
price because the Russian purse is fat, and they've nothing to eat
at home.  Let me have a hundred roubles, your Highness,' says he;
'by to-morrow evening we'll move the stone.'

"Can you imagine such a proposition?  The English, of course, are
ready to devour him; Montferant laughs.  But that Highness with the
pure Russian heart says:  'Give him a hundred roubles!  But surely
you won't remove it?' says he.

"'To-morrow evening, your Highness, we'll have it on the move,'
says he.

"'But how will you do it?'

"'If you'll excuse me, your Highness, that's our secret,' he says,
and in that Russian way, you know.  It pleased him:  'Hey, give him
anything he wants.'  And so they left it.  What would you suppose
he did?"

The landlord paused, and looked from one to the other with a face
full of sentiment.

"I don't know," said Versilov, smiling; I scowled.

"Well, I'll tell you what he did," said the landlord, with as much
triumph as though it were his own achievement, "he hired some
peasants with spades, simple Russians, and began digging a deep
hole just at the edge of it.  They were digging all night; they dug
an immense hole as big as the stone and just about an inch and a
half deeper, and when they dug it out he told them to dig out the
earth from under the stone, cautiously, little by little.  Well,
naturally, as they'd dug the earth away the stone had nothing to
stand upon, it began to overbalance; and as soon as it began to
shake they pushed with their hands upon the stone, shouting hurrah,
in true Russian style, and the stone fell with a crash into the
hole!  Then they shovelled earth on it, rammed it down with a
mallet, paved it over with little stones--the road was smooth, the
stone had disappeared!"

"Only fancy!" cried Versilov.

"The people rushed up to be sure, in multitudes innumerable; the
Englishmen had seen how it would be long before; they were furious.
Montferant came up:  'That's the peasant style,' says he, 'it's too
simple,' says he.  'That's just it, that it's so simple, but you
never thought of it, you fools!'  And so I tell you that commander,
that great personage, simply embraced him and kissed him.  'And
where do you come from?' says he.  'From the province of Yaroslav,
your Excellency, we're tailors by trade, and we come to Petersburg
in the summer to sell fruit.'  Well, it came to the ears of the
authorities; the authorities ordered a medal to be given him, so he
went about with a medal on his neck; but he drank himself to death
afterwards, they say; you know the typical Russian, he has no self-
restraint!  That's why the foreigners have got the better of us so
far, yes, there it is!'

"Yes, of course, the Russian mind. . . ." Versilov was beginning.

But at this point, luckily, the landlord was called away by his
invalid wife, and hastened off, or I should have been unable to
restrain myself.  Versilov laughed.

"He's been entertaining me for a whole hour, my dear.  That
stone . . . is the very model of patriotic unseemliness among such
stories, but how could I interrupt him?  As you saw, he was melting
with delight.  And what's more, I believe the stone's there still,
if I'm not mistaken, and hasn't been buried in the hole at all."

"Good heavens, yes!" I cried, "that's true! How could he dare! . . ."

"What's the matter?  Why, I believe you're really indignant; he
certainly has muddled things up.  I heard a story of the sort about
a stone when I was a child, only of course it was a little
different, and not about the same stone.  That 'it came to the ears
of the authorities!'  Why, there was a paean of glory in his heart
when he uttered that phrase 'it came to the ears of the authorities.'
In the pitiful narrowness of their lives they can't get on without
such stories.  They have numbers of them, chiefly owing to their
incontinence.  They've learnt nothing, they know nothing exactly,
and they have a longing to talk about something besides cards and
their wares, something of universal interest, something poetic. . . .
What sort of man is this Pyotr Ippolitovitch?"

"A very poor creature, and unfortunate too."

"Well, there, you see, perhaps he doesn't even play cards.  I
repeat, in telling that foolish story he was satisfying his love
for his neighbour: you see, he wanted to make us happy.  His
sentiment of patriotism was gratified too; they've got another
story, for instance, that the English gave Zavyalov a million on
condition that he shouldn't put his stamp on his handiwork."

"Oh, goodness, I've heard that story too."

"Who hasn't heard it, and the teller of it knows, too, that you
have heard it, but still he tells it, INTENTIONALLY supposing that
you haven't.  The vision of the Swedish king, I believe, is a
little out of date with them now, but in my youth it used to be
repeated unctuously, in a mysterious whisper.  And so was the story
of some one's having knelt in the Senate before the Senators at the
beginning of last century.  There were lots of anecdotes about
Commander Bashutsky, too, how he carried away a monument.  They
simply love anecdotes of the court; for instance, tales of
Tchernyshev, a minister in the last reign, how when he was an old
man of seventy he got himself up to look like a man of thirty, so
much so that the late Tsar was amazed at the levees. . . ."

"I've heard that too."

"Who hasn't heard it?  All these anecdotes are the height of
indecency; but, let me tell you, this kind of indecency is far more
deeply rooted and widely spread than we imagine.  The desire to lie
with the object of giving pleasure to your neighbour one meets even
in Russian society of the highest breeding, for we all suffer from
this incontinence of our hearts.  Only anecdotes of a different
type are current among us; the number of stories they tell about
America is simply amazing, and they're told by men even of
ministerial rank!  I must confess I belong to that indecent class
myself, and I've suffered from it all my life."

"I've told anecdotes about Tchernyshev several times myself."

"You've told them yourself?"

"There's another lodger here besides me, marked with smallpox too,
an old clerk, but he's awfully prosaic, and as soon as Pyotr
Ippolitovitch begins to speak he tries to refute him and
contradict.  He's reduced Pyotr Ippolitovitch to such a point that
he waits on the old fellow like a slave, and does everything to
please him, simply to make him listen."

"That's another type of the indecent, one even perhaps more
revolting than the first.  The first sort is all ecstasy!  'You
only let me lie,' he seems to say, 'you'll see how nice it will
be.'  The second sort is all spleen and prose.  'I won't let you
lie,' he says, 'where, when, in what year?'--in fact a man with no
heart.  My dear boy, we must always let a man lie a little.  It's
quite innocent.  Indeed we may let him lie a great deal.  In the
first place it will show our delicacy, and secondly, people will
let us lie in return--two immense advantages at once.  Que diable!
one must love one's neighbour.  But it's time for me to be off.
You've arranged the place charmingly," he added, getting up from
his chair.  "I'll tell Sofia Andreyevna and your sister that I've
been here and found you quite well.  Good-bye, my dear."

Could this be all?  This was not at all what I wanted.  I was
expecting something different, something important, though I quite
understood that this was how it must be.  I got up with a candle to
light him down the stairs.  The landlord would have come forward,
but without Versilov's seeing it I seized him by the arm and thrust
him back savagely.  He stared with astonishment, but immediately

"These staircases . . ." Versilov mumbled, dwelling on the
syllables evidently in order to say something, and evidently afraid
I might say something, "I'm no longer used to such stairs, and
you're on the third storey, but now I can find the way. . . .
Don't trouble, my dear, you'll catch cold, too."

But I did not leave him.  We were going down the second flight.

"I've been expecting you for the last three days," broke from me
suddenly, as it were of itself; I was breathless.

"Thank you, my dear."

"I knew you'd be sure to come."

"And I knew that you knew I should be sure to come.  Thank you, my

He was silent.  We had reached the outer door, and I still followed
him.  He opened the door; the wind rushing in blew out my candle.
Then I clutched his hand.  It was pitch dark.  He started but said
nothing.  I stooped over his hand and kissed it greedily several
times, many times.

"My darling boy, why do you love me so much?" he said, but in quite
a different voice.  His voice quivered, there was a ring of
something quite new in it as though it were not he who spoke.

I tried to answer something, but couldn't, and ran upstairs.  He
stood waiting where he was, and it was only when I was back in the
flat that I heard the front door open and shut with a slam.  I
slipped by the landlord, who turned up again, and went into my
room, fastened the latch, and without lighting the candle threw
myself on my bed, buried my face in the pillow and cried and cried.
It was the first time I had cried since I was at Touchard's.  My
sobs were so violent, and I was so happy . . . but why describe it?

I write this now without being ashamed of it, for perhaps it was
all good, in spite of its absurdity.


But didn't I make him suffer for it!  I became frightfully
overbearing.  There was no reference to this scene between us
afterwards.  On the contrary, we met three days later as though
nothing had happened--what's more, I was almost rude that evening,
and he too seemed rather dry.  This happened in my room again; for
some reason I had not been to see him in spite of my longing to see
my mother.

We talked all this time, that is throughout these two months, only
of the most abstract subjects.  And I can't help wondering at it;
we did nothing but talk of abstract subjects--of the greatest
interest and of vast significance for humanity, of course, but with
no bearing whatever on the practical position.  Yet many, many
aspects of the practical position needed, and urgently needed,
defining and clearing up, but of that we did not speak.  I did not
even say anything about my mother or Liza or . . . or indeed about
myself and my whole history.  Whether this was due to shame or to
youthful stupidity I don't know.  I expect it was stupidity, for
shame I could have overcome.  But I domineered over him frightfully,
and absolutely went so far as insolence more than once, even against
my own feelings.  This all seemed to happen of itself, inevitably; I
couldn't restrain myself.  His tone was as before, one of light
mockery, though always extremely affectionate in spite of everything.
I was struck, too, by the fact that he preferred coming to me, so
that at last I very rarely went to see my mother, not more than once
a week, especially towards the latter part of the time, as I became
more and more absorbed in frivolity.  He used always to come in the
evenings, to sit and chat with me, he was very fond of talking to
the landlord too, which enraged me in a man like him.

The idea struck me that he might have nowhere to go except to see
me.  But I knew for a fact that he had acquaintances, and that he
had, indeed, of late renewed many of his old ties in society, which
he had dropped the year before.  But he did not seem to be
particularly fascinated by them, and seemed to have renewed many of
them simply in a formal way; he preferred coming to see me.

I was sometimes awfully touched by the timid way in which he almost
always opened my door, and for the first minute looked with strange
anxiety into my eyes.  "Am I in the way?" he seemed to ask, "tell
me, and I'll go."  He even said as much sometimes.  Once, for
instance, towards the end he came in when I had just put on a suit,
brand new from the tailor's, and was just setting off to Prince
Sergay's, to go off somewhere with him (where, I will explain
later).  He sat down without noticing that I was on the point of
going out; he showed at moments a remarkable absence of mind.  As
luck would have it, he began to talk of the landlord.  I fired up.

"Oh, damn the landlord!"

"Ah, my dear," he said, getting up, "I believe you're going out and
I'm hindering you. . . .  Forgive me, please."

And he meekly hastened to depart.  Such meekness towards me from a
man like him, a man so aristocratic and independent, who had so
much individuality, at once stirred in my heart all my tenderness
for him, and trust in him.  But if he loved me so much, why did he
not check me at the time of my degradation?  If he had said one
word I should perhaps have pulled up.  Though perhaps I should not.
But he did see my foppery, my flaunting swagger, my smart Matvey (I
wanted once to drive him back in my sledge but he would not
consent, and indeed it happened several times that he refused to be
driven in it), he could see I was squandering money--and he said
not a word, not a word, he showed no curiosity even!  I'm surprised
at that to this day; even now.  And yet I didn't stand on ceremony
with him, and spoke openly about everything, though I never gave
him a word of explanation.  He didn't ask and I didn't speak.

Yet on two or three occasions we did speak on the money question.
I asked him on one occasion, soon after he renounced the fortune he
had won, how he was going to live now.

"Somehow, my dear," he answered with extraordinary composure.

I know now that more than half of Tatyana Pavlovna's little capital
of five thousand roubles has been spent on Versilov during the last
two years.

Another time it somehow happened that we talked of my mother.

"My dear boy," he said mournfully, "I used often to say to Sofia
Andreyevna at the beginning of our life together, though indeed
I've said it in the middle and at the end too:  'My dear, I worry
you and torment you, and I don't regret it as long as you're before
me, but if you were to die I know I should kill myself to atone for

I remember, however, that he was particularly open that evening.

"If only I were a weak-willed nonentity and suffered from the
consciousness of it!  But you see that's not so, I know I'm
exceedingly strong, and in what way do you suppose?  Why just in
that spontaneous power of accommodating myself to anything whatever,
so characteristic of all intelligent Russians of our generation.
There's no crushing me, no destroying me, no surprising me.  I've as
many lives as a cat.  I can with perfect convenience experience two
opposite feelings at one and the same time, and not, of course,
through my own will.  I know, nevertheless, that it's dishonourable
just because it's so sensible.  I've lived almost to fifty, and to
this day I don't know whether it's a good thing I've gone on living
or not.  I like life, but that follows as a matter of course.  But
for a man like me to love life is contemptible.  Of late there has
been a new movement, and the Krafts won't accommodate themselves to
things, and shoot themselves.  But it's evident that the Krafts are
stupid, we, to be sure, are clever--so that one can draw no
parallel, and the question remains open anyway.  And can it be that
the earth is only for such as we?  In all probability it is; but the
idea is a comfortless one.  However . . . however, the question
remains open, anyway."

He spoke mournfully and yet I didn't know whether he was sincere or
not.  He always had a manner which nothing would have made him


Then I besieged him with questions, I fell upon him like a starving
man on bread.  He always answered me readily and straightforwardly,
but in the end always went off into the widest generalizations, so
that in reality one could draw no conclusions from it.  And yet
these questions had worried me all my life, and I frankly confess
that even in Moscow I had put off settling them till I should meet
him in Petersburg.  I told him this plainly, and he did not laugh
at me--on the contrary, I remember he pressed my hand.

On general politics and social questions I could get nothing out of
him, and yet in connection with my "idea" those subjects troubled
me more than anything.  Of men like Dergatchev I once drew from him
the remark that "they were below all criticism," but at the same
time he added strangely that "he reserved the right of attaching no
significance to his opinions."  For a very long time he would say
nothing on the question how the modern state would end, and how the
social community would be built up anew, but in the end I literally
wrenched a few words out of him.

"I imagine that all that will come about in a very commonplace
way," he said once.  "Simply un beau matin, in spite of all the
balance-sheets on budget days, and the absence of deficits, all the
states without exception will be unable to pay, so that they'll all
be landed in general bankruptcy.  At the same time all the
conservative elements of the whole world will rise up in opposition
to everything, because they will be the bondholders and creditors,
and they won't want to allow the bankruptcy.  Then, of course,
there will follow a general liquidation, so to speak; the Jews will
come to the fore and the reign of the Jews will begin: and then all
those who have never had shares in anything, and in fact have never
had anything at all, that is all the beggars, will naturally be
unwilling to take part in the liquidation. . . .  A struggle will
begin, and after seventy-seven battles the beggars will destroy the
shareholders and carry off their shares and take their places as
shareholders, of course.  Perhaps they'll say something new too,
and perhaps they won't.  Most likely they'll go bankrupt too.
Further than that, my dear boy, I can't undertake to predict the
destinies by which the face of this world will be changed.  Look in
the Apocalypse though . . ."

"But can it all be so materialistic?  Can the modern world come to
an end simply through finance?"

"Oh, of course, I've only chosen one aspect of the picture, but
that aspect is bound up with the whole by indissoluble bonds, so to

"What's to be done?"

"Oh dear, don't be in a hurry; it's not all coming so soon.  In any
case, to do nothing is always best, one's conscience is at rest
anyway, knowing that one's had no share in anything."

"Aie, do stop that, talk sense.  I want to know what I'm to do and
how I'm to live."

"What you are to do, my dear?  Be honest, never lie, don't covet
your neighbour's house; in fact, read the Ten Commandments--it's
written there once for all."

"Don't talk like that, all that's so old, and besides . . . it's
all words; I want something real."

"Well, if you're fearfully devoured by eunui, try to love some one
or something, or at any rate to attach yourself to something."

 "You're only laughing!  Besides, what can I do alone with your Ten

"Well, keep them in spite of all your doubts and questions, and
you'll be a great man."

"Whom no one will know of."

"'There is nothing hidden that shall not be made manifest.'"

"You're certainly laughing."

"Well, if you take it so to heart you'd better try as soon as
possible to specialize, take up architecture or the law, and then
when you're busy with serious work you'll be more settled in your
mind and forget trifles."

I was silent.  What could I gather from this?  And yet, after every
such conversation I was more troubled than before.  Moreover I saw
clearly that there always remained in him, as it were, something
secret, and that drew me to him more and more.

"Listen," I said, interrupting him one day, "I always suspect that
you say all this only out of bitterness and suffering, but that
secretly you are a fanatic over some idea, and are only concealing
it, or ashamed to admit it."

"Thank you, my dear."

"Listen, nothing's better than being useful.  Tell me how, at the
present moment, I can be most of use.  I know it's not for you to
decide that, but I'm only asking for your opinion.  You tell me,
and what you say I swear I'll do!  Well, what is the great

"Well, to turn stones into bread.  That's a great thought."

"The greatest?  Yes, really, you have suggested quite a new path.
Tell me, is it the greatest?"

"It's very great, my dear boy, very great, but it's not the
greatest.  It's great but secondary, and only great at the present
time.  Man will be satisfied and forget; he will say:  'I've eaten
it and what am I to do now?'  The question will remain open for all

"You spoke once of the 'Geneva ideas.'  I didn't understand what
was meant by the 'Geneva ideas.'"

"The 'Geneva idea' is the idea of virtue without Christ, my boy,
the modern idea, or, more correctly, the ideas of all modern
civilization.  In fact, it's one of those long stories which it's
very dull to begin, and it will be a great deal better if we talk
of other things, and better still if we're silent about other

"You always want to be silent!"

"My dear, remember that to be silent is good, safe, and picturesque."


"Of course.  Silence is always picturesque, and the man who is
silent always looks nicer than the man who is speaking."

"Why, talking as we do is no better than being silent.  Damn such
picturesqueness, and still more damn such profitableness."

"My dear," he said suddenly, rather changing his tone, speaking
with real feeling and even with a certain insistence, "I don't want
to seduce you from your ideals to any sort of bourgeois virtue, I'm
not assuring you that 'happiness is better than heroism'; on the
contrary 'heroism is finer than any happiness,' and the very
capacity for it alone constitutes happiness.  That's a settled
thing between us.  I respect you just for being able in these
mawkish days to set up some sort of an 'idea' in your soul (don't
be uneasy, I remember perfectly well).  But yet one must think of
proportion, for now you want to live a resounding life, to set fire
to something, to smash something, to rise above everything in
Russia, to call up storm-clouds, to throw every one into terror and
ecstasy, while you vanish yourself in North America.  I've no doubt
you've something of that sort in your heart, and so I feel it
necessary to warn you, for I really love you, my dear."

What could I gather from that either?  There was nothing in it but
anxiety for me, for my material prosperity; it betrayed the father
with the father's kindly but prosaic feelings.  Was this what I
wanted by way of an idea for the sake of which any honest father
would send his son to face death, as the ancient Roman Horatius
sent his sons for the idea of Rome?

I often pressed him on the subject of religion, but there the fog
was thicker than ever.  When I asked him what to do about that, he
answered in the stupidest way, as though to a child:

"You must have faith in God, my dear."

"But what if I don't believe in all that?" I cried irritably once.

"A very good thing, my dear."

"How a good thing?"

"It's a most excellent symptom, dear boy; a most hopeful one, for
our atheists in Russia, if only they are really atheists and have
some little trace of intelligence, are the best fellows in the
whole world, and always disposed to be kind to God, for they're
invariably good-humoured, and they're good-humoured because they're
immensely pleased at being atheists.  Our atheists are respectable
people and extremely conscientious, pillars of the fatherland, in
fact. . . ."

This was something, of course, but it was not what I wanted.  On
one occasion, however, he spoke out, but so strangely that he
surprised me more than ever, especially after the stories of
Catholicism and penitential chains that I had heard about him.

"Dear boy," he said one day, not in my room, but in the street,
when I was seeing him home after a long conversation, "to love
people as they are is impossible.  And yet we must.  And therefore
do them good, overcoming your feelings, holding your nose and
shutting your eyes (the latter's essential).  Endure evil from them
as far as may be without anger, 'mindful that you too are a man.'
Of course you'll be disposed to be severe with them if it has been
vouchsafed to you to be ever so little more intelligent than the
average.  Men are naturally base and like to love from fear.  Don't
give in to such love, and never cease to despise it.  Somewhere in
the Koran Allah bids the prophet look upon the 'froward' as upon
mice, do them good, and pass them by--a little haughty, but right.
Know how to despise them even when they are good, for most often it
is in that they are base.  Oh, my dear, it's judging by myself I
say that.  Anyone who's not quite stupid can't live without
despising himself, whether he's honest or dishonest--it makes no
difference.  To love one's neighbour and not despise him--is
impossible.  I believe that man has been created physically
incapable of loving his neighbour.  There has been some mistake in
language here from the very first, and 'love for humanity' must be
understood as love for that humanity which you have yourself
created in your soul (in other words, you have created yourself and
your love is for yourself)--and which, therefore, never will be in

"Never will be?"

"My dear boy, I agree that if this were true, it would be stupid,
but that's not my fault, and I was not consulted at the creation.
I reserve the right to have my own opinion about it."

"How is it they call you a Christian, then?" I cried.  "A monk in
chains, a preacher?  I don't understand it!"

"Why, who calls me that?"

I told him; he listened very attentively, but cut short the

I can't remember what led to this memorable conversation; but he
was positively irritated, which scarcely ever happened to him.
He spoke passionately and without irony, as though he were not
speaking to me.  But again I didn't believe him.  He could not
speak on such subjects seriously to anyone like me.



On that morning, the 15th of November, I found him at Prince
Sergay's.  I had brought the prince and him together, but they had
ties apart from me (I mean the affair abroad, and all that).
Moreover, the prince had promised to divide the disputed fortune
with him, giving him a third, which would mean twenty thousand at
least.  I remember at the time I thought it awfully strange that he
was giving him only a third and not the full half; but I said
nothing.  Prince Sergay gave this promise of his own accord;
Versilov had not said a syllable to suggest it, had not dropped a
hint.  Prince Sergay came forward himself and Versilov only let it
pass in silence, never once alluded to it, and showed no sign that
he had the least recollection of a promise.  I may mention, by the
way, that Prince Sergay was absolutely enchanted with him at first
and still more with the things he said.  He fell into positive
raptures about him, and several times expressed his feelings to me.
Sometimes when he was alone with me he exclaimed about himself,
almost with despair, that he was "so ill-educated, that he was on
the wrong track! . . ."  Oh, we were still so friendly then! . . .
I kept trying to impress Versilov with Prince Sergay's good points
only, and excused his defects though I saw them myself; but
Versilov listened in silence, or smiled.

"If he has faults he has at least as many virtues as defects!" I
once exclaimed to Versilov when I was alone with him.

"Goodness, how you flatter him!" he said laughing.

"How do I flatter him?" I said, not understanding.

"As many virtues!  Why he must be a saint if he has as many virtues
as defects!"

But, of course, that was not his opinion.  In general he avoided
speaking of Prince Sergay at that time, as he did indeed of
everything real, but of the prince particularly.  I suspected, even
then, that he went to see Prince Sergay without me, and that they
were on rather peculiar terms, but I did not go into that.  I was
not jealous either at his talking to him more seriously than to me,
more positively, so to speak, with less mockery; I was so happy at
the time that I was actually pleased at it.  I explained it too by
Prince Sergay's being of rather limited intelligence, and so being
fond of verbal exactitude; some jests he absolutely failed to see.

But of late he had, as it were, begun to emancipate himself.  His
feelings for Versilov seemed beginning to change.  Versilov with
his delicate perception noticed it.  I may mention at this point
that Prince Sergay's attitude to me, too, became different at the
same time, rather too obviously, in fact.  Only the lifeless forms
of our warm earlier relations were maintained.  Yet I went on going
to see him; I could not indeed help it, having once been drawn into
it.  Oh, how clumsy and inexperienced I was then; it is almost
beyond belief that mere foolishness of heart can have brought
anyone to such humiliation and lack of perception.  I took money
from him and thought that it didn't matter, that it was quite
right.  Yet that is not true: even then I knew that it was not
right, but it was simply that I thought very little about it.  I
did not go to the prince to get money, though I needed the money so
much.  I knew I did not go for the sake of the money, but I
realized that I went every day to borrow money.  But I was in a
whirl then, and besides all that I had something very different in
my soul--it was singing with joy!

When I went in at eleven o'clock in the morning I found Versilov
just finishing a long tirade.  Prince Sergay was walking about the
room listening, and Versilov was sitting down.  Prince Sergay
seemed in some excitement.  Versilov was almost always able to work
him into a state of excitement.  He was exceedingly impressionable,
to a degree of simplicity, indeed, which had often made me look
down on him.  But, I repeat, of late I had detected in him
something like a resentful sneer.  He stopped short, seeing me, and
a quiver seemed to pass over his face.  I knew in my heart to what
to attribute the shadow over him that morning, but I had not
expected that his face would be so distorted by it.  I knew that he
had an accumulation of anxieties, but it was revolting that I
didn't know more than a tenth part of them--the rest had been kept
so far a dead secret from me.  What made it stupid and revolting
was that I often obtruded my sympathy on him, gave advice and often
laughed condescendingly at his weakness at being so upset "about
such trifles."  He used to be silent; but he must have detested me
at those moments; I was in an utterly false position and had no
suspicion of it.  Oh, I call God to witness that of the chief
trouble I had no suspicion!

He courteously held out his hand to me, however; Versilov nodded,
without interrupting himself.  I stretched myself on the sofa--my
tone and manners were horrible at that time!  My swagger went even
further: I used to treat his acquaintances as though they were my
own.  Oh, if it could only be done all over again, I should know
how to behave very differently!

Two words, that I may not forget.  Prince Sergay was still living
in the same flat, but now occupied almost the whole of it.  Mme.
Stolbyeev, whose flat it was, after staying only a month, had gone
away again.


They were talking of the aristocracy.  I may mention that Prince
Sergay grew sometimes much excited over this subject in spite of
his progressive notions.  I suspect indeed that many of his
misdoings had their source and origin in this idea.  Attaching
great significance to his princely rank, he threw money away in all
directions although he was a beggar, and became involved in debt.
Versilov had more than once hinted that this extravagance was not
the essence of princeliness, and tried to instil into him a higher
conception of it; but Prince Sergay had begun to show signs of
resentment at being instructed.  Evidently there had been something
of the same sort that morning, but I hadn't arrived in time for the
beginning of it.  Versilov's words struck me at first as
reactionary, but he made up for that later on.

"The word honour means duty," he said (I only give the sense as far
as I remember it); "when the upper class rules in a state the
country is strong.  The upper class always has its sense of honour,
and its code of honour, which may be imperfect but almost always
serves as a bond and strengthens the country; an advantage morally
and still more politically.  But the slaves, that is all those not
belonging to the ruling class, suffer.  They are given equal rights
to prevent their suffering.  That's what has been done with us, and
it's an excellent thing.  But in all experience so far (in Europe
that is to say) a weakening of the sense of honour and duty has
followed the establishment of equal rights.  Egoism has replaced
the old consolidating principle and the whole system has been
shattered on the rock of personal freedom.  The emancipated masses,
left with no sustaining principle, have ended by losing all sense
of cohesion, till they have given up defending the liberties they
have gained.  But the Russian type of aristocrat has never been
like the European nobility.  Our nobility, even now that it has
lost its privileges, might remain the leading class as the
upholders of honour, enlightenment, science, and higher culture,
and, what is of the greatest importance, without cutting themselves
off into a separate caste, which would be the death of the idea.
On the contrary, the entrance to this class has been thrown open
long ago among us, and now the time has come to open it completely.
Let every honourable and valiant action, every great achievement in
science enable a man to gain the ranks of the highest class.  In
that way the class is automatically transformed into an assembly of
the best people in a true and literal sense, not in the sense in
which it was said of the privileged caste in the past.  In this
new, or rather renewed form, the class might be retained."

The prince smiled sarcastically.

"What sort of an aristocracy would that be?  It's some sort of
masonic lodge you're sketching; not an aristocracy."

Prince Sergay had been, I repeat, extremely ill-educated.  I turned
over with vexation on the sofa, though I was far from agreeing with
Versilov.  Versilov quite understood that the prince was sneering.

"I don't know in what sense you talk of a masonic lodge," he
answered.  "Well, if even a Russian prince recoils from such an
idea, no doubt the time for it has not arrived.  The idea of honour
and enlightenment as the sacred keys that unlock for any man the
portals of a class thus continually renewed is, of course, a
Utopia.  But why is it an impossible one?  If the thought is living
though only in a few brains it is not yet lost, but shines like a
tiny flame in the depths of darkness."

"You are fond of using such words as 'higher culture,' 'great
idea,' 'sustaining principle' and such; I should like to know what
you mean exactly by a 'great idea'?"

"I really don't know how to answer that question, dear prince,"
Versilov responded with a subtle smile.  "If I confess to you that I
myself am not able to answer, it would be more accurate.  A great
idea is most often a feeling which sometimes remains too long
undefined.  I only know that it's that which has been the source of
living life, gay joyous life, I mean, not theoretical and
artificial; so that the great idea, from which it flows, is
absolutely indispensable, to the general vexation, of course."

"Why vexation?"

"Because, to live with ideas is dreary, and it's always gay without

The prince swallowed the rebuke.

"And what do you mean by this living life as you call it?"  (He was
evidently cross.)

"I don't know that either, prince; I only know that it must be
something very simple, the most everyday thing, staring us in the
face, a thing of every day, every minute, and so simple that we can
never believe it to be so simple, and we've naturally been passing
it by for thousands of years without noticing it or recognizing

"I only meant to say that your idea of the aristocracy is
equivalent to denying the aristocracy," observed Prince Sergay.

"Well, if you will have it so, perhaps there never has been an
aristocracy in Russia."

"All this is very obscure and vague.  If one says something, one
ought, to my mind, to explain it. . . ."

Prince Sergay contracted his brows and stole a glance at the clock
on the wall.  Versilov got up and took his hat.

"Explain?" he said, "no, it's better not to, besides, I've a
passion for talking without explanations.  That's really it.  And
there's another strange thing: if it happens that I try to explain
an idea I believe in, it almost always happens that I cease to
believe what I have explained.  I'm afraid of that fate now.  Good-
bye, dear prince; I always chatter unpardonably with you."

He went out; the prince escorted him politely, but I felt offended.

"What are you ruffling up your feathers about?" he fired off
suddenly, walking past me to his bureau without looking at me.

"I'm ruffling up my feathers," I began with a tremor in my voice,
"because, finding in you such a queer change of tone to me and even
to Versilov I . . . Versilov may, of course, have begun in rather a
reactionary way, but afterwards he made up for it and . . . there
was perhaps a profound meaning in what he said, but you simply
didn't understand, and . . ."

"I simply don't care to have people putting themselves forward to
teach me and treating me as though I were a schoolboy," he snapped
out, almost wrathfully.

"Prince, such expressions . . ."

"Please spare me theatrical flourishes--if you will be so kind.  I
know that what I am doing is--contemptible, that I'm--a spendthrift,
a gambler, perhaps a thief. . . .  Yes, a thief, for I gamble away
the money belonging to my family, but I don't want anybody's
judgment.  I don't want it and I won't have it.  I'm--the judge of
my own actions.  And why this ambiguity?  If he wants to say
anything to me let him say it straight out, and not go in for this
mysterious prophetic twaddle.  To tell me all this he ought to have
the right to, he ought to be an honourable man himself. . . ."

"In the first place I didn't come in at the beginning and I don't
know what you were talking about, and, secondly, what has Versilov
done dishonourable, allow me to ask?"

"Please, that's enough, that's enough.  You asked me for three
hundred roubles yesterday.  Here it is. . . ."

He laid the money on the table before me, sat down in the armchair,
leaned nervously against the back of it, and crossed one leg over
the other.  I was thrown into confusion.

"I don't know .  .  ." I muttered, "though I did ask you for
it . . . and though I do need the money now, since you take such
a tone . . ."

"Don't talk about tone.  If I spoke sharply you must excuse me.  I
assure you that I've no thoughts to spare for it.  Listen to this:
I've had a letter from Moscow.  My brother Sasha, who was only a
child, as you know, died four days ago.  My father, as you know
too, has been paralysed for the last two years, and now, they write
to me, he's worse, he can't utter a word and knows nobody.  They
were relieved to get the inheritance, and want to take him abroad,
but the doctor writes that he's not likely to live a fortnight.
So I'm left with my mother and sister . . . that is, almost
alone. . . .  In fact, I'm--alone.  This fortune . . . this
fortune--oh, it would have been better perhaps if it had not come to
me at all! But this is what I wanted to tell you:  I promised Andrey
Petrovitch a minimum of twenty thousand. . . .  And, meanwhile, only
imagine, owing to legal formalities I've been able to do nothing.  I
haven't even . . . we, that is . . . my father that is, has not yet
been informed of the inheritance.  And meanwhile I've lost so much
money during the last three weeks, and that scoundrel Stebelkov
charges such a rate of interest. . . .  I've given you almost the
last. . . ."

"Oh, prince, if that's how it is . . ."

"I didn't mean that.  I didn't mean that.  Stebelkov will bring
some to-day, no doubt, and there'll be enough to go on with, but
what the devil's one to think of Stebelkov?  I entreated him to get
me ten thousand, so that I might at least give Andrey Petrovitch
that much.  It worries me, it plagues me to think of my promise to
give him a third.  I gave my word and I must keep it.  And I swear
I'll do my utmost to free myself from obligations in that direction
anyhow.  They weigh upon me, they weigh upon me, they're
insufferable!  This burdensome tie. . . .  I can't bear to see
Andrey Petrovitch, for I can't look him in the face. . . .  Why
does he take advantage of it?"

"What does he take advantage of, prince?" I stood before him in
amazement.  "Has he ever so much as hinted at it?"

"Oh, no, and I appreciate it, it's I who reproach myself.  And
in fact I'm getting more and more involved. . . .  This
Stebelkov. . . ."

"Listen, prince, do calm yourself, please.  I see you get more
excited the more you talk, and yet it may be all imagination.  Oh,
I've got myself into difficulties too, unpardonably, contemptibly.
But I know it's only temporary . . . and as soon as I win back a
certain sum, then . . . I say, with this three hundred, I owe you
two thousand five hundred, don't I?"

"I'm not asking it from you, I believe," the prince said suddenly
with a sneer.

"You say ten thousand for Versilov.  If I borrow from you now the
money will be taken off Versilov's twenty thousand; otherwise I
won't consent.  But . . . but I shall certainly pay it back
myself. . . .  But can you possibly imagine that Versilov comes
to you to get the money?"

"It would be easier for me if he did come for the money," Prince
Sergay observed enigmatically.

"You talk of some 'burdensome tie.' . . .  If you mean with
Versilov and me, upon my soul it's an insult.  And you say why
isn't he what he preaches--that's your logic!  And, in the first
place it's not logic, allow me to tell you, for even if he's not,
he can't help saying what's true. . . .  And besides, why do you
talk about 'preaching'?  You call him a 'prophet.'  Tell me, was it
you who called him a 'petticoat prophet' in Germany?"

"No, it was not I."

"Stebelkov told me it was you."

"He told a lie.  I'm--no hand at giving derisive nicknames.  But if
a man preaches honour he ought to be honourable himself--that's my
logic, and if it's incorrect I don't care.  I prefer it to be so.
And I won't have anyone dare to come and judge me in my own house
and treat me like a baby!  That's enough!" he shouted, waving his
hand to stop me. . . .  "Ah, at last!"

The door opened and Stebelkov walked in.


He was exactly the same, just as jauntily dressed; and squared his
chest and stared into one's face as stupidly as ever, imagining
that he was being very sly, and exceedingly well satisfied with
himself.  On this occasion he looked about him in a strange way on
entering; there was a look of peculiar caution and penetration in
his face, as though he wanted to guess something from our
countenances.  He instantly subsided, however, and his face beamed
with a self-satisfied smile, that "pardonably-insolent" smile,
which was yet unspeakably repulsive to me.

I had known for a long time that he was a great torment to Prince
Sergay.  He had come once or twice when I was present.  I . . . I
too had had a transaction with him during that month, but on this
occasion I was rather surprised at the way he came in.

"In a minute," Prince Sergay said, without greeting him, and,
turning his back on us both, he began looking in his desk for the
necessary papers and accounts.  As for me, I was mortally offended
by his last words.  The suggestion that Versilov was dishonourable
was so clear (and so astonishing!) that it could not be allowed to
pass without a full explanation.  But that was impossible before
Stebelkov.  I reclined on the sofa again and turned over a book
that was lying before me.

"Byelinsky, part two!  That's something new!  Are you trying to
cultivate your mind?" I exclaimed, I fancy, very unnaturally.

He was busily engaged and in great haste, but at my words he

"I beg you to leave that book alone," he brought out sharply.

This was beyond all endurance, especially before Stebelkov!  To
make it worse Stebelkov gave a sly and loathsome smirk, and made a
stealthy sign to me in Prince Sergay's direction.  I turned away
from the fool.

"Don't be angry, prince; I'll leave you to your most important
visitor, and meanwhile I'll disappear. . . ."

I made up my mind to be casual in my manner.

"Is that me--the most important visitor?" Stebelkov put in,
jocosely pointing at himself with his finger.

"Yes, you; you're the most important person and you know it too!"

"No, excuse me.  Everywhere in the world there's a second person.
I am a second person.  There is a first person and a second person.
The first acts and the second takes.  So the first person turns
into the second person, and the second person turns into the first
person.  Is that so or not?"

"It may be so.  But as usual I don't understand you."

"Excuse me.  In France there was a revolution and every one was
executed.  Napoleon came along and took everything.  The revolution
is the first person, and Napoleon the second person.  But it turned
out that the revolution became the second person and Napoleon
became the first person.  Is that right?"

I may observe, by the way, that in his speaking to me of the French
Revolution I saw an instance of his own cunning which amused me
very much.  He still persisted in regarding me as some sort of
revolutionist, and whenever he met me thought it necessary to begin
on some topic of the sort.

"Come along," said Prince Sergay, and they went together into the
other room.  As soon as I was alone I made up my mind to give him
back the three hundred as soon as Stebelkov had gone.  I needed the
money terribly, still I resolved to do so.

They remained in the other room, and for ten minutes I heard
nothing, then suddenly they began talking loudly.  They were both
talking, but Prince Sergay suddenly shouted as though in violent
irritation, approaching frenzy.  He was sometimes very hasty, so
that I was not surprised.  But at that moment a footman came in to
announce a visitor; I motioned him to the other room and instantly
there was silence there.  Prince Sergay came out with an anxious
face, though he smiled; the footman hastened away, and half a
minute later a visitor came in.

It was a visitor of great consequence, with shoulder-knots and a
family crest.  He was a gentleman not over thirty, of high rank,
and of a severe appearance.  I may remark that Prince Sergay did
not yet really belong to the highest circles in Petersburg, in
spite of his passionate desire to do so (I was aware of this
desire), and so he must have been glad to see a visitor like this.
The acquaintance had, as I knew, only been formed through great
efforts on the part of Prince Sergay.  The guest was returning
Prince Sergay's visit, and unhappily came upon him at the wrong
moment.  I saw Prince Sergay look at Stebelkov with an agonized and
hopeless expression; but Stebelkov encountered his eyes as though
nothing whatever were the matter, and without the faintest idea of
effacing himself, sat down on the sofa with a free-and-easy air and
began passing his hand through his hair, probably to display his
independence.  He even assumed an important countenance, in fact he
was utterly impossible.  As for me, I knew, of course, how to
behave, decently even then, and should never have disgraced anyone;
but what was my amazement when I caught on Prince Sergay's face the
same hopeless, miserable and vindictive look directed at me: he was
ashamed of us both then, and put me on a level with Stebelkov.
That idea drove me to fury.  I lolled even more at my ease, and
began turning over the leaves of the book, as though the position
were no concern of mine.  Stebelkov, on the contrary, bent forward
open-eyed to listen to their conversation, probably supposing that
this was a polite and affable thing to do.  The visitor glanced
once or twice at Stebelkov, and at me too, indeed.

They talked of family news; this gentleman had at some time known
Prince Sergay's mother, who was one of a distinguished family.
From what I could gather, in spite of his politeness and the
apparent good-nature of his tone, the visitor was very formal and
evidently valued his own dignity so highly as to consider a visit
from him an honour to anyone whatever.  Had Prince Sergay been
alone, that is had we not been present, he would certainly have
been more dignified and more resourceful.  As it was, something
tremulous in his smile, possibly an excess of politeness, and a
strange absent-mindedness, betrayed him.

They had hardly been sitting there five minutes when another
visitor was announced, also of the compromising kind.  I knew this
one very well and had heard a great deal about him, though he did
not know me at all.  He was still quite a young man, though twenty-
three, who was handsome and elegantly dressed and had a fine house,
but moved in distinctly doubtful circles.  A year before he had
been serving in one of the smartest cavalry regiments, but had been
forced to give up his commission, and every one knew for what
reason.  His relations had even advertised in the papers that they
would not be responsible for his debts, but he still continued his
profligate manner of life, borrowing money at ten per cent. a
month, playing desperately in gambling circles, and squandering his
money on a notorious Frenchwoman.  A week before, he had succeeded
one evening in winning twelve thousand roubles and was triumphant.
He was on friendly terms with Prince Sergay: they often played
together tete-a-tete; but Prince Sergay positively shuddered seeing
him now.  I noticed this from where I lay.  This youth made himself
at home everywhere, talked with noisy gaiety, saying anything that
came into his head without restraint.  And of course it could never
have occurred to him that our host was in such a panic over the
impression his associates would make upon his important visitor.

He interrupted their conversation by his entrance, and began at
once describing his play on the previous day, before he had even
sat down.

"I believe you were there too," he said, breaking off at the third
sentence to address the important gentleman, mistaking him for one
of his own set; but looking at him more closely he cried at once:

"Oh, I beg your pardon, I mistook you for one of the party

"Alexey Vladimirovitch Darzan--Ippolit Alexandrovitch Nastchokin,"
Prince Sergay made haste to introduce them.  This youth could still
be introduced.  He belonged to a good family and it was a
distinguished name; but us he did not introduce, and we went on
sitting in our corners.  I absolutely refused to turn my head in
their direction, but Stebelkov began smirking gleefully at the
sight of the young man, and was unmistakably threatening to begin
talking.  This began to amuse me.

"I met you several times last year at Countess Verigin's," said

"I remember you, but I believe you were in military uniform then,"
Nastchokin observed genially.

"Yes, I was, but thanks to. . . . But Stebelkov here?  How does he
come here?  It's just thanks to these pretty gentlemen here that
I'm not in the army now!" he pointed to Stebelkov, and burst out
laughing.  Stebelkov laughed gleefully too, probably taking it as a
compliment.  Prince Sergay blushed and made haste to address a
question to Nastchokin, and Darzan, going up to Stebelkov, began
talking of something very warmly, though in a whisper.

"I believe you saw a great deal of Katerina Nikolaevna Ahmakov
abroad?" the visitor asked Prince Sergay.

"Oh yes, I knew her. . . ."

"I believe we shall soon be hearing a piece of news about her.
They say she's engaged to Baron Buring."

"That's true!" cried Darzan.

"Do you know it for a fact?" Prince Sergay asked Nastchokin with
evident agitation, bringing out his question with peculiar

"I've been told so, and people are talking about it; but I don't
know it for a fact."

"Oh, it is a fact!" said Darzan, going up to him.  "Dubasov told me
so yesterday, he's always the first to know news like that.  Yes,
and the prince ought to know. . . ."

Nastchokin waited till Darzan had finished, and turned to Prince
Sergay again.

"She's not very often seen now."

"Her father has been ill for the last month," Prince Sergay
observed drily.

"She's a lady of many adventures!" Darzan blurted out suddenly.

I raised my head and sat up.

"I have the pleasure of knowing Katerina Nikolaevna personally,
and I take upon myself the duty of declaring that all scandalous
stories about her are mere lies and infamy . . . and invented by
those who have sought her favour without success."

After this stupid outburst I relapsed into silence, still sitting
upright and gazing at them all with a flushed face.  Every one
turned to me, but Stebelkov suddenly guffawed; Darzan, too,
simpered and seemed surprised.

"Arkady Makarovitch Dolgoruky," said Prince Sergay, indicating me
to Darzan.

"Oh, believe me, PRINCE," said Darzan, frankly and good-naturedly
addressing me, "I am only repeating what I've heard; if there are
rumours they have not been of my spreading."

"I did not mean it for you!" I answered quickly, but Stebelkov had
burst into an outrageous roar of laughter, caused as he explained
afterwards by Darzan's having addressed me as prince.  My diabolical
surname had got me into a mess again.  Even now I blush at the
thought that I had not the courage--through shame, of course--to
set right this blunder and to protest aloud that I was "simply
Dolgoruky."  It was the first time in my life I had let it pass.
Darzan looked in perplexity at me and at Stebelkov's laughter.

"Ah yes!  Who was the pretty girl I met on the stairs just now, a
slim, fair little thing?" he suddenly asked Prince Sergay.

"I really don't know," the latter answered quickly, reddening.

"How should you?" laughed Darzan.

"Though . . . it . . . it might have been. . . ." Prince Sergay
faltered oddly.

"It was . . . this gentleman's sister, Lizaveta Makarovna!"
said Stebelkov suddenly pointing to me, "for I met her just now
too. . . ."

"Ah indeed!" Prince Sergay put in quickly, speaking this time,
however, with an extremely grave and dignified expression, "it
must have been Lizaveta Makarovna, who is a great friend of Anna
Fyodorovna Stolbyeev, in whose flat I am staying; she must have
come to-day to see Darya Onisimovna, another of Anna Fyodorovna's
great friends, whom she left in charge of the house when she went
away. . . ."

This was all true.  Darya Onisimovna was the mother of poor Olya,
whose story I have told already.  Tatyana Pavlovna had found a
refuge for the poor woman at last with Mme. Stolbyeev.  I know very
well that Liza had been sometimes at Mme. Stolbyeev's, and had
lately visited there Darya Onisimovna, of whom every one at home
was very fond; but after this statement by Prince Sergay--sensible
as it was, however--and still more Stebelkov's stupid outburst, and
perhaps because I had been called prince, I suddenly flushed all
over.  Luckily at that very instant Nastchokin stood up to take
leave; he offered his hand to Darzan also.  At the moment Stebelkov
and I were left alone; he nodded his head to me in the direction of
Darzan, who was standing in the doorway with his back to us; I
shook my fist at Stebelkov.

A minute later Darzan, too, got up to go, after arranging with
Prince Sergay to meet him next day at some place, a gambling house,
I believe.  As he went out he shouted something to Stebelkov, and
made me a slight bow.  Hardly had he gone out when Stebelkov jumped
up and stood in the middle of the room, pointing to the ceiling
with his finger:

"I'll tell you the trick that fine young gentleman played last
week.  He gave an IOU to Averyanov and signed a false name to it.
That IOU is still in existence, but it's not been honoured!  It's
criminal!  Eight thousand!"

"And no doubt that IOU is in your hands?" I cried, glaring at him

"I have a bank, I have a mont-de-piete, I am not a broker.  Have
you heard that there is a mont-de-piete in Paris?  Bread and
benevolence for the poor; I have a mont-de-piete. . . ."

Prince Sergay rudely and angrily cut him short.

"What are you doing here?  What are you staying for?"

"But," Stebelkov blinked rapidly, "what about that?  Won't it do?"

"No, no, no," Prince Sergay shouted, stamping; "I've said so."

"Well, if so . . . that's so. . . .  But that's a mistake. . . ."

He turned abruptly and with bowed head and bent spine went quickly
out of the room.  Prince Sergay called after him when he was in the

"You may as well know, sir, that I am not in the least afraid of

He was very much irritated, he was about to sit down, but glancing
at me, remained standing.  His eyes seemed to say to me also, "Why
are you hanging about here too?"

"Prince, I . . ." I was beginning.

"I've really no time to listen, Arkady Makarovitch, I'm just going

"One minute, prince, it's very important; and, to begin with, take
back your three hundred."

"What's this now?"

He was walking up and down, but he stopped short.

"This now is that after all that has passed . . . and what you've
said about Versilov . . . that he was dishonourable, and in fact
your tone all the time. . . . In short, I can't possibly take it."

"You've been TAKING it for the last month, though."

He suddenly sat down on the chair.  I was standing at the table,
and with one hand I patted the volume of Byelinsky, while I held my
hat in the other.

"I had different feelings, prince . . . and, in fact, I would never
have brought it to such a sum . . . it was the gambling . . . in
short, I can't!"

"You have not distinguished yourself to-day, and so you are in a
rage; I'll ask you to leave that book alone."

"What does that mean: 'not distinguished myself'?  And, in fact,
before your visitors you almost put me on a level with Stebelkov."

"So that's the key to the riddle!" he said with a biting smile.
"You were abashed by Darzan's calling you prince, too."

He laughed spitefully.  I flared up.

"I simply don't understand; I wouldn't take your title as a gift."

"I know your character.  How absurdly you cried out in defence of
Mme. Ahmakov . . . let that book alone!"

"What's the meaning of it?" I cried.

"L-l-let the book alone!" he yelled suddenly, drawing himself up in
the low chair, with a ferocious movement, as though about to spring
at me.

"This is beyond all limits," I said, and I walked quickly out of
the room, but before I had reached the end of the drawing-room, he
shouted to me from the study:

"Arkady Makarovitch, come back!  Co-ome ba-ack!  Co-ome ba-ack!"

I went on without heeding.  He hastily overtook me, seized me by
the arm, and dragged me back into the study.  I did not resist.

"Take it," he said, pale with excitement, handing me the three
hundred roubles I had thrown on the table.  "You must take it . . .
or else we . . . you must!"

"Prince, how can I take it?"

"Oh, I'll beg your pardon . . . if you like . . . all right,
forgive me! . . ."

"I have always liked you, prince, and if you feel the same . . ."

"I do; take it. . . ."

I took the money.  His lips were trembling.

"I can understand, prince, that you are exasperated by that
scoundrel . . . but I won't take it, prince, unless we kiss each
other, as we have done when we've quarrelled before."

I was trembling, too, as I said this.

"Now for sentimentality," muttered Prince Sergay, with an
embarrassed smile, but he bent down and kissed me.  I shuddered; at
the instant he kissed me I caught on his face an unmistakable look
of aversion.

"Did he bring you the money, anyway? . . ."

"Aie, never mind."

"I was asking on your account. . . ."

"Yes he did, he did."

"Prince, we have been friends . . . and in fact, Versilov. . . ."

"Yes, yes.  That's all right!"

"And in fact . . . I really don't know . . . about this three
hundred. . . ."

I was holding the money in my hand.

"Take it, ta-ake it!" he smiled again, but there was something very
vicious in his smile.

I took the money.



I took the money because I loved him.  If anyone disbelieves this I
must inform him that at the moment when I took the money I was
firmly convinced that I could have obtained it from another source.
And so I really took it, not because I was in desperate straits,
but from delicacy, not to hurt his feelings.  Alas, that was how I
reasoned at the time!  But yet my heart was very heavy as I went
out from him.  I had seen that morning an extraordinary change in
his attitude to me; he had never taken such a tone before, and, as
regards Versilov, it was a case of positive mutiny.  Stebelkov had
no doubt annoyed him very much that morning, but he had begun to be
the same before seeing Stebelkov.  I repeat once more; the change
from his original manner might indeed have been noticed for some
days past, but not in the same way, not in the same degree, that
was the point.

The stupid gossip about that major, Baron Buring, might have some
effect on him. . . .  I too had been disturbed by it, but . . . the
fact is, I had something else in my heart at that time that shone
so resplendent that I heedlessly let many things pass unnoticed,
made haste to let them pass, to get rid of them, and to go back to
that resplendence. . . .

It was not yet one o'clock.  From Prince Sergay's I drove with my
Matvey straight off to--it will hardly be believed to whom--to
Stebelkov!  The fact is that he had surprised me that morning, not
so much by turning up at Prince Sergay's (for he had promised to be
there) as by the way he had winked at me; he had a stupid habit of
doing so, but that morning it had been apropos of a different
subject from what I had expected.  The evening before, a note had
come from him by post, which had rather puzzled me.  In it he
begged me to go to him between two and three to-day, and that "he
might inform me of facts that would be a surprise to me."

And in reference to that letter he had that morning, at Prince
Sergay's, made no sign whatever.  What sort of secrets could there
be between Stebelkov and me?  Such an idea was positively
ridiculous; but, after all that had happened, I felt a slight
excitement as I drove off to him.  I had, of course, a fortnight
before applied to him for money, and he was ready to lend it, but
for some reason we did not come to terms, and I did not take the
money: on that occasion, too, he had muttered something vague, as
his habit was, and I had fancied he wanted to make me some offer,
to suggest some special conditions; and as I had treated him
disdainfully every time I had met him at Prince Sergay's, I proudly
cut short any idea of special terms, though he pursued me to the
door.  I borrowed the money afterwards from Prince Sergay.

Stebelkov lived in a very comfortable style.  He had his own
establishment, a flat of four rooms, with handsome furniture, men
and women servants, and a housekeeper, who was, however, by no
means young.  I went in angrily.

"Listen, my good man," I began from the door; "to begin with,
what's the meaning of that letter?  I don't care for letters to be
passing between us.  And why did you not make any statement you
wanted to make at Prince Sergay's this morning?  I was at your

"And why did you hold your tongue, too, this morning, instead of
questioning me?" he said with a broad grin of intense self-

"Because it's not I want something of you, but you want something
of me," I cried, suddenly growing hot.

"Why have you come to see me, if that's so?" he cried, almost
jumping out of his chair with glee.  I turned instantly, and would
have gone out, but he seized me by the shoulder.

"No, no, I was joking, it's a matter of importance, as you'll see
for yourself."

I sat down, I must admit I was inquisitive.  We were seated facing
one another at the end of a big writing table.  He smiled slyly,
and was just holding up his finger.

"None of your slyness, please, and no fingers either, and above
all, none of your allegories!  Come straight to the point, or I'll
go away at once," I cried angrily again.

"You . . . are proud!" he pronounced in a tone of stupid reproach,
rocking in his easy-chair and turning his wrinkled forehead towards
the ceiling.

"One has to be with you!"

"You . . . took money from Prince Sergay to-day, three hundred
roubles; I have money too, my money is better than his."

"How do you know I took it?" I asked, greatly astonished.  "Can he
have told you that himself?"

"He told me; don't worry yourself, in the course of conversation it
happened to come up, it just happened to come up, it was not on
purpose.  He told me.  And you need not have taken it.  Is that so,
or not?"

"But I hear that you squeeze out an exorbitant interest."

"I have a mont-de-piete, but I don't squeeze.  I only lend to
friends, and not to other people, the mont-de-piete is for
them. . . ."

This mont-de-piete was an ordinary pawnbroker's shop, which
flourished under another name, in a different quarter of the town.

"But I lend large sums to friends."

"Why, is Prince Sergay such a friend of yours?"

"A fri-iend; but . . . he plays the fool, and he'd better not dare
to play the fool."

"Why is he so much in your power?  Does he owe you a great deal?"

"He . . . does owe a great deal."

"He'll pay you; he has come into a fortune . . ."

"That is not his fortune; he owes money, and owes something else,
too.  The fortune's not enough.  I'll lend to you without interest."

"As though I were a 'friend' too?  How have I earned that?" I

"You will earn it."  Again he rocked his whole person forward on a
level with me, and was again holding up his fingers.

"Stebelkov!  Speak without flourishing your fingers or I go."

"I say, he may marry Anna Andreyevna!" and he screwed up his left
eye fiendishly.

"Listen, Stebelkov, your conversation is taking such a scandalous
turn. . . .  How dare you utter the name of Anna Andreyevna!"

"Don't lose your temper."

"I am listening, though it's against the grain, for I see clearly
you have something up your sleeve, and I want to find out what it
is . . . but you may try my patience too far, Stebelkov!"

"Don't be angry, don't be proud.  Humble your pride a little and
listen; and then you'll be proud again.  You know, of course, about
Anna Andreyevna.  The prince may make a match . . . you know, of
course . . ."

"I have heard of the idea, of course, I know all about it, but I
have never spoken to Prince Sergay about it, I only know that the
idea originated with old Prince Sokolsky, who is ill now; but I
have never talked to him about it and I have had nothing to do with
it.  I tell you this, simply to make things clear.  I will ask you
in the first place: what is your object in mentioning it to me?
And secondly, can Prince Sergay possibly discuss such subjects with

"He does not discuss them with me; he does not want to discuss them
with me, but I mention them to him, and he does not want to listen.
He shouted at me this morning."

"I should think so!  I commend him."

"Old Prince Sokolsky will give Anna Andreyevna a good dowry; she's
a favourite.  Then when the prince marries her, he'll repay me all
the money he owes.  And he will pay other debts as well.  He'll
certainly pay them!  But now he has nothing to pay with."

"What do you want of me?"

"To answer the great question: you are known everywhere, you go
everywhere, you can find out anything."

"Oh, damnation . . . find out what?"

"Whether Prince Sergay wishes it, whether Anna Andreyevna wishes
it, whether the old prince wishes it."

"And you dare to propose that I should be your spy, and--for
money!" I burst out indignantly.

"Don't be too proud, don't be too proud, humble your pride only a
little, only for five minutes."  He made me sit down again.  He was
evidently not intimidated by my words or gestures; but I made up my
mind to hear him out.

"I must find out quickly, find out quickly, because . . . because
it will soon be too late.  You saw how he swallowed the pill this
morning, when the officer mentioned the baron for Mme. Ahmakov."

I certainly demeaned myself by listening further, but my curiosity
was irresistibly aroused.

"Listen, you worthless fellow!" I said resolutely.  "Though I'm
sitting here listening, and allow you to speak of such persons . . .
and even answer you, it's not in the least that I admit your
right to do so.  I simply see in it some piece of rascality. . . .
And in the first place, what hopes can Prince Sergay have in
reference to Katerina Nikolaevna?"

"None whatever, yet he is furious."

"That's untrue!"

"Yes, he is.  Mme. Ahmakov is no go, then, now.  He has lost that
stake.  Now he has only Anna Andreyevna to fall back on.  I will
give you two thousand . . . without interest and without an IOU."

Having delivered himself of this, he sat back in his chair, with a
determined and important expression, and stared goggle-eyed at me.
I too stared.

"You've a suit from Bolshaya Milliona; you need money, you want
money; my money's better than his.  I will give you more than two
thousand . . ."

"But what for? what for? damn it all!"  I stamped my foot.  He bent
towards me and brought out impressively:

"For you not to hinder."

"But I'm not interfering as it is," I shouted.

"I know that you are holding your tongue, that's excellent."

"I don't want your approbation.  For my part I am very anxious for
it myself, but I consider it's not my business, and in fact that it
would be unseemly for me to meddle."

"There, you see, you see, unseemly!" he held up his finger.

"What do you see?"

"Unseemly . . . Ha!" and he suddenly laughed.  "I understand, I
understand, that it would be unseemly of you, but you won't
interfere?" he winked; but in that wink there was something so
insolent, so low and even jeering: evidently he was assuming some
meanness on my part and was reckoning upon it; that was clear, but
I hadn't a notion what was meant.

"Anna Andreyevna is your sister, too," he pronounced insinuatingly.

"Don't you dare to speak of that.  And in fact don't dare to speak
of Anna Andreyevna at all."

"Don't be too proud, only one more minute!  Listen! he will get the
money and provide for every one," Stebelkov said impressively,
"every one, EVERY ONE, you follow?"

"So you think I'll take money from him?"

"You are taking it now."

"I am taking my own."

"How is it your own?"

"It's Versilov's money, he owes Versilov twenty thousand."

"Versilov then, not you."

"Versilov is my father."

"No, you are a Dolgoruky, not a Versilov."

"It's all the same."  Yes, indeed, I was able to argue like that
then!  I knew it was not the same, I was not so stupid as all that,
but again it was from "delicacy" that I reasoned so.

"Enough!" I cried.  "I can't make out what you are talking about,
and how dare you ask me to come for such nonsense."

"Can you really not understand?  Is it on purpose or not?"
Stebelkov brought out slowly, looking at me with a penetrating
and incredulous smile.

"I swear I don't understand."

"I tell you he'll be able to provide for every one, EVERY ONE;
you've only not to interfere, and don't try to persuade him."

"You must have gone out of your mind.  Why do you keep trotting out
that 'every one.'  Do you mean he'll provide for Versilov?"

"You're not the only one, nor Versilov either . . . there is some
one else, too, and Anna Andreyevna is just as much your sister AS

I gazed at him open-eyed.  There was a sudden glimpse of something
like compassion for me in his loathsome eyes:

"You don't understand, so much the better!  That's good, very good,
that you don't understand.  It's very laudable . . . if you really
don't understand."

I was absolutely furious.

"Go to hell with your silly nonsense, you madman!" I shouted,
taking up my hat.

"It's not silly nonsense!  So you are going, but you'll come again,
you know."

"No," I rapped out in the doorway.

"You'll come, and then we shall have another talk.  That will be
the real talk.  Two thousand, remember!"


He made such a filthy and confused impression on me, that when I
got out I tried not to think of it at all, but dismissed it with a
curse.  The idea that Prince Sergay was capable of talking to him
of me and of that money stabbed me like a pin.  "I'll win and pay
him back to-day," I thought resolutely.  Stupid and inarticulate as
Stebelkov was, I had seen the full-blown scoundrel in all his
glory.  And what mattered most to me, it was impossible to avoid
intrigue in this business.  Only I had not the time just then to go
into any sort of intrigues, and that may have been the chief reason
why I was as blind as a hen!  I looked anxiously at my watch, but
it was not yet two o'clock; so it was still possible to pay a call;
otherwise I should have been worn out with excitement before three
o'clock.  I went to Anna Andreyevna Versilov, my sister.  I had got
to know her some time before at my old prince's, during his
illness.  He thought that I had not seen him for three or four days
fretted my conscience, but I was reckoning on Anna Andreyevna: the
old prince had become extremely attached to her of late, and even
spoke of her to me as his guardian angel.  And by the way, the idea
of marrying her to Prince Sergay really had occurred to the old
prince, and he had even expressed it more than once to me, in
secret of course.  I had mentioned this suggestion to Versilov,
for I had noticed that though he was so indifferent to all the
practical affairs of life, he seemed particularly interested
whenever I told him of my meeting Anna Andreyevna.  When I
mentioned the old prince's idea, Versilov muttered that Anna
Andreyevna had plenty of sense, and was quite capable of getting
out of a delicate position without the advice of outsiders.
Stebelkov was right, of course, in saying that the old man meant
to give her a dowry, but how could he dare to reckon on getting
anything out of it!  Prince Sergay had shouted after him that
morning that he was not in the least afraid of him: surely
Stebelkov had not actually spoken to him of Anna Andreyevna in the
study?  I could fancy how furious I should have been in Prince
Sergay's place.

I had been to see Anna Andreyevna pretty often of late.  But there
was one queer thing about my visits: it always happened that she
arranged for me to come, and certainly expected me, but when I went
in she always made a pretence of my having come unexpectedly and by
chance; I noticed this peculiarity in her, but I became much
attached to her nevertheless.  She lived with Mme. Fanariotov, her
grandmother, as an adopted child, of course (Versilov had never
contributed anything for her keep), but she was very far from being
in the position in which the protegees of illustrious ladies are
usually described as being; for instance, the one in the house of
the old countess, in Pushkin's "Queen of Spades."

Anna Andreyevna was more in the position of the countess herself.
She lived quite independently in the house, that is to say, though
on the same storey and in the same flat as the Fanariotovs she had
two rooms completely apart, so that I, for instance, never once met
any of the family as I went in or came out.  She was free to
receive any visitors she liked, and to employ her time as she
chose.  It is true that she was in her twenty-third year.  She had
almost given up going out into society of late, though Mme.
Fanariotov spared no expense for her granddaughter, of whom I was
told she was very fond.  Yet what I particularly liked about Anna
Andreyevna was that I always found her so quietly dressed and
always occupied with something, a book or needlework.  There was
something of the convent, even of the nun about her, and I liked it
very much.  She was not very talkative, but she always spoke with
judgment and knew how to listen, which I never did.  When I told
her that she reminded me of Versilov, though they had not a feature
in common, she always flushed a little.  She often blushed and
always quickly, invariably with a faint flush, and I particularly
liked this peculiarity in her face.  In her presence I never spoke
of Versilov by his surname, but always called him Andrey
Petrovitch, and this had somehow come to pass of itself.  I
gathered indeed that the Fanariotovs must have been ashamed of
Versilov, though indeed I only drew this conclusion from Anna
Andreyevna, and again I'm not sure that the word "ashamed" is
appropriate in this connection; but there was some feeling of that
sort.  I talked to her too about Prince Sergay, and she listened
eagerly, and was, I fancy, interested in what I told her of him;
but it somehow happened that I always spoke of him of my own
accord, and she never questioned me about him.  Of the possibility
of a marriage between them I had never dared to speak, though I
often felt inclined to, for the idea was not without attraction for
me.  But there were very many things of which, in her room, I could
not have ventured to speak, yet on the other hand I felt very much
at home there.  Another thing I liked was that she was so well
educated, and had read so much--real books too; she had read far
more than I had.

She had invited me the first time of her own accord.  I realized
even at the time that she might be reckoning on getting some
information out of me at one time or another.  Oh, lots of people
were able to get information of all sorts out of me in those days!
"But what of it," I thought, "it's not only for that that she's
asking me."  In fact I was positively glad to think I might be of
use to her . . . and when I sat with her I always felt that I had a
sister sitting beside me, though we never once spoke of our
relationship by so much as a word or a hint, but behaved as though
it did not exist at all.  When I was with her it was absolutely
unthinkable to speak of it, and indeed looking at her I was struck
with the absurd notion that she might perhaps know nothing of our
relationship--so completely did she ignore it in her manner to me.


When I went in I found Liza with her.  This almost astonished me.
I knew very well that they had seen each other before; they had met
over the "baby."  I will perhaps later on, if I have space, tell
how Anna Andreyevna, always so proud and so delicate, was possessed
by the fantastic desire to see that baby, and how she had there met
Liza.  But yet I had not expected that Anna Andreyevna would ever
have invited Liza to come to see her.  It was a pleasant surprise
to me.  Giving no sign of this, of course, I greeted Anna
Andreyevna, and warmly pressing Liza's hand sat down beside her.
Both were busily occupied: spread out on the table and on their
knees was an evening dress of Anna Andreyevna's, expensive but
"old," that is, worn three times; and Anna Andreyevna wanted to
alter it.  Liza was "a master-hand" at such work, and had real
taste, and so a "solemn council of wise women" was being held.  I
recalled Versilov's words and laughed; and indeed I was in a
radiantly happy state of mind.

"You are in very good spirits to-day and that's very pleasant,"
observed Anna Andreyevna, uttering her words gravely and
distinctly.  Her voice was a rich mellow contralto, and she always
spoke quietly and gently, with a droop of her long eyelashes, and a
faint smile on her pale face.

"Liza knows how disagreeable I am when I am not in good spirits," I
answered gaily.

"Perhaps Anna Andreyevna knows that too," mischievous Liza gibed at
me.  My darling!  If I had known what was on her mind at that time!

"What are you doing now?" asked Anna Andreyevna.  (I may remark
that she had asked me to come and see her that day.)

"I am sitting here wondering why I always prefer to find you reading
rather than with needlework.  Yes, really needlework doesn't suit
you, somehow.  I agree with Andrey Petrovitch about that."

"You have still not made up your mind to enter the university,

"I am very grateful to you for not having forgotten our conversation:
it shows you think of me sometimes, but . . . about the university
my ideas are not quite definite . . . besides, I have plans of my

"That means he has a secret," observed Liza.

"Leave off joking, Liza.  Some clever person said the other day
that by our progressive movement of the last twenty years, we had
proved above everything that we are filthily uneducated.  That was
meant for our university men, too."

"No doubt father said that," remarked Liza, "you very often repeat
his ideas."

"Liza, you seem to think I've no mind of my own."

"In these days it's a good thing to listen to intelligent men, and
repeat their words," said Anna Andreyevna, taking my part a little.

"Just so, Anna Andreyevna," I assented warmly.  "The man who
doesn't think of the position of Russia to-day is no patriot!
I look at Russia perhaps from a strange point of view: we lived
through the Tatar invasion, and afterwards two centuries of
slavery, no doubt because they both suited our tastes.  Now freedom
has been given us, and we have to put up with freedom: shall we
know how to?  Will freedom, too, turn out to suit our taste?
That's the question."

Liza glanced quickly at Anna Andreyevna, and the latter immediately
cast down her eyes and began looking about for something; I saw
that Liza was doing her utmost to control herself but all at once
our eyes chanced to meet, and she burst into a fit of laughter; I
flared up.

"Liza, you are insupportable!"

"Forgive me!" she said suddenly, leaving off laughing and speaking
almost sadly.  "Goodness knows what I can be thinking about . . ."

And there was a tremor almost as of tears in her voice.  I felt
horribly ashamed; I took her hand and kissed it warmly.

"You are very good," Anna Andreyevna said softly, seeing me kiss
Liza's hand.

"I am awfully glad that I have found you laughing this time, Liza,"
I said.  "Would you believe it, Anna Andreyevna, every time I have
met her lately she has greeted me with a strange look, and that
look seemed to ask, 'has he found out something? is everything all
right?'  Really, there has been something like that about her."

Anna Andreyevna looked keenly and deliberately at her.  Liza
dropped her eyes.  I could see very clearly, however, that they
were on much closer and more intimate terms than I could have
possibly imagined; the thought was pleasant.

"You told me just now that I am good; you would not believe, Anna
Andreyevna, how much I change for the better when I'm with you, and
how much I like being with you," I said with warmth.

"I am awfully glad that you say that just now," she answered with
peculiar significance.  I must mention that she never spoke to me
of the reckless way I was living, and the depths to which I was
sinking, although (I knew it) she was not only aware of all this,
but even made inquiries about it indirectly.

So that this now was something like the first hint on the subject,
and my heart turned to her more warmly than ever.

"How is our patient?" I asked.

"Oh, he is much better; he is up, and he went for a drive yesterday
and again to-day.  You don't mean to say you have not been to see
him to-day?  He is eagerly expecting you."

"I have behaved very badly to him, but now you're looking after
him, and have quite taken my place; he is a gay deceiver, and has
thrown me over for you."

A serious look came into her face, very possibly because my tone
was rather too flippant.

"I have just been at Prince Sergay's," I muttered, "and I . . . by
the way, Liza, you went to see Darya Onisimovna this morning,
didn't you?"

"Yes," she answered briefly, without raising her head.  "But you do
go to see the invalid every day, I believe, don't you?" she asked
suddenly, probably in order to say something.

"Yes, I go to see him, but I don't get there," I said laughing.  "I
go in and turn to the left."

"Even the prince has noticed that you go to see Katerina Nikolaevna
very often.  He was speaking of it yesterday and laughing," said
Anna Andreyevna.

"What, what did he laugh at?"

"He was joking, you know his way.  He said that, on the contrary,
the only impression that a young and beautiful woman makes on a
young man of your age is one of anger and indignation," Anne
Andreyevna broke into sudden laughter.

"Listen . . . that was a very shrewd saying of his," I cried.
"Most likely it was not he said it, but you said it to him."

"Why so?  No, it was he said it."

"Well, but suppose the beautiful lady takes notice of him, in spite
of his being so insignificant, of his standing in the corner and
fuming at the thought that he is 'only a boy'; suppose she suddenly
prefers him to the whole crowd of admirers surrounding her, what
then?" I asked with a bold and defiant air.  My head was throbbing.

"Then you are completely done for," laughed Liza.

"Done for," I cried.  "No, I'm not done for.  I believe that's
false.  If a woman stands across my path she must follow me.  I am
not going to be turned aside from my path with impunity. . . ."

I remember Liza once happened to mention long afterwards that I
pronounced this phrase very strangely, earnestly, and as though
reflecting deeply; and at the same time it was "so absurd, it was
impossible to keep from laughing"; Anna Andreyevna did, in fact,
laugh again.

"Laugh at me, laugh away," I cried in exultation, for I was
delighted with the whole conversation and the tone of it; "from you
it's a pleasure to me.  I love your laugh, Anne Andreyevna!  It's
a peculiarity of yours to keep perfectly quiet, and then suddenly
laugh, all in one minute, so that an instant before one could not
guess what was coming from your face.  I used to know a lady in
Moscow, I used to sit in a corner and watch her from a distance.
She was almost as handsome as you are, but she did not know how to
laugh like you; her face was as attractive as yours, but it lost
all its attractiveness when she laughed; what's so particularly
attractive in you . . . is just that faculty. . . .  I have been
meaning to tell you so for a long time."

When I said of this Moscow lady that "she was as handsome as you" I
was not quite ingenuous.  I pretended that the phrase had dropped
from me unawares, without my noticing it: I knew very well that
such "unconscious" praise is more highly valued by a woman than the
most polished compliment.  And though Anna Andreyevna might flush,
I knew that it pleased her.  And indeed I invented the lady: I had
known no such lady in Moscow; I had said so simply to compliment
Anna Andreyevna, and give her pleasure.

"One really might imagine," she said with a charming laugh, "that
you had come under the influence of some fair lady during the last
few days."

I felt I was being carried away . . . I longed indeed to tell them
something . . . but I refrained.

"By the way, only lately you spoke of Katerina Nikolaevna with very
hostile feelings."

"If I did speak ill of her in any way," I cried with flashing eyes,
"what's to blame for it is the monstrous slander--that she is an
enemy of Andrey Petrovitch's; there's a libelous story about him,
too, that he was in love with her, made her an offer and other
absurdities of the sort.  The notion is as grotesque as the other
scandalous story, that during her husband's lifetime she promised
Prince Sergay to marry him as soon as she should be a widow, and
afterwards would not keep her word.  But I have it first hand that
it was not so at all, and that it was all only a joke.  I know it
first hand.  She did, in fact, when she was abroad, say to him in a
playful moment:  'Perhaps in the future'; but what did that amount
to beyond an idle word?  I know very well that the prince on his
side can attach no sort of consequence to such a promise; and
indeed he has no intention of doing so," I added on second
thoughts.  "I fancy he has very different ideas in his head," I put
in slily.  "Nastchokin said this morning at Prince Sergay's that
Katerina Nikolaevna was to be married to Baron Buring.  I assure
you he received the news with the greatest equanimity, you can take
my word for it."

"Has Nastchokin been at Prince Sergay's?" Anna Andreyevna asked
with grave emphasis, apparently surprised.

"Oh yes; he seems to be one of those highly respectable people . . ."

"And did Nastchokin speak to him of this match with Buring?" asked
Anna Andreyevna, showing sudden interest.

"Not of the match, but of the possibility of one--he spoke of it as
a rumour; he said there was such a rumour going the round of the
drawing-rooms; for my part I am certain it's nonsense."

Anna Andreyevna pondered a moment and bent over her sewing.

"I love Prince Sergay," I added suddenly with warmth.  "He has his
failings, no doubt; I have told you so already, especially a
certain tendency to be obsessed by one idea . . . and, indeed, his
faults are a proof of the generosity of his heart, aren't they?
But we almost had a quarrel with him to-day about an idea; it's his
conviction that one must be honourable if one talks of what's
honourable, if not, all that you say is a lie.  Now, is that
logical?  Yet it shows the high standard of honesty, duty, and
truth in his soul, doesn't it? . . .  Oh, good heavens, what time
is it," I cried, suddenly happening to glance at the clock on the

"Ten minutes to three," she responded tranquilly, looking at the
clock.  All the time I had talked of Prince Sergay she listened to
me with her eyes cast down, with a rather sly but charming smile:
she knew why I was praising him.  Liza listened with her head bent
over her work.  For some time past she had taken no part in the

I jumped up as though I were scalded.

"Are you late for some appointment?"

"Yes . . . No . . . I am late though, but I am just off.  One word
only, Anna Andreyevna," I began with feeling; "I can't help telling
you to-day!  I want to confess that I have often blessed your
kindness, and the delicacy with which you have invited me to see
you. . . .  My acquaintance with you has made the strongest
impression on me. . . .  In your room I am, as it were, spiritually
purified, and I leave you better than when I came.  That's true.
When I sit beside you I am not only unable to speak of anything
evil, I am incapable even of evil thoughts; they vanish away in
your presence and, if I recall anything evil after seeing you, I
feel ashamed of it at once, I am cast down and blush inwardly.  And
do you know, it pleased me particularly to find my sister with you
to-day. . . .  It's a proof of your generosity . . . of such a fine
attitude. . . .  In one word, you have shown something so SISTERLY,
if I may be allowed to break the ice, to . . ."

As I spoke she got up from her seat, and turned more and more
crimson; but suddenly she seemed in alarm at something, at the
overstepping of some line which should not have been crossed and
she quickly interrupted me.

"I assure you I appreciate your feelings with all my heart. . . .
I have understood them without words for a long time past. . . ."

She paused in confusion, pressing my hand.  Liza, unseen by her,
suddenly pulled at my sleeve.  I said good-bye and went out, but
Liza overtook me in the next room.


"Liza, why did you tug at my sleeve?" I asked her.

"She is horrid, she is cunning, she is not worth it. . . .  She
keeps hold of you to get something out of you," she murmured in a
rapid, angry whisper.  I had never before seen such a look on her

"For goodness' sake, Liza! she is such a delightful girl!"

"Well, then, I'm horrid."

"What's the matter with you?"

"I am very nasty.  She may be the most delightful girl, and I am
nasty.  That's enough, let me alone.  Listen: mother implores you
about something 'of which she does not dare to speak,' so she said,
Arkady darling!  Give up gambling, dear one, I entreat you . . .
and so does mother. . . ."

"Liza, I know, but . . . I know that it's pitiful cowardice,
but . . . but it's all of no consequence, really!  You see I've
got into debt like a fool, and I want to win simply to pay it off.
I can win, for till now I've been playing at random, for the fun
of the thing, like a fool, but now I shall tremble over every
rouble. . . .  It won't be me if I don't win!  I have not got a
passion for it; it's not important, it's simply a passing thing; I
assure you I am too strong to be unable to stop when I like.  I'll
pay back the money and then I shall be altogether yours, and tell
mother that I shall stay with you always. . . ."

"That three hundred roubles cost you something this morning!"

"How do you know?" I asked, startled.

"Darya Onisimovna heard it all this morning . . ."

But at that moment Liza pushed me behind the curtain, and we found
ourselves in the so-called "lantern," that is a little circular
room with windows all round it.  Before I knew where we were I
caught the sound of a voice I knew, and the clang of spurs, and
recognized a familiar footstep.

"Prince Sergay," I whispered.

"Yes," she whispered.

"Why are you so frightened?"

"It's nothing; I don't want him to meet me."

"Tiens, you don't mean to say he's trying to flirt with you?" I
said smiling.  "I'd give it to him if he did.  Where are you

"Let us go, I will come with you."

"Have you said good-bye?"

"Yes, my coat's in the hall."

We went out; on the stairs I was struck by an idea.

"Do you know, Liza, he may have come to make her an offer!"

"N-n-no . . . he won't make her an offer . . ." she said firmly and
deliberately, in a low voice.

"You don't know, Liza, though I quarrelled with him this morning--
since you've been told of it already--yet on my honour I really
love him and wish him success.  We made it up this morning.  When
we are happy we are so good-natured. . . .  One sees in him many
fine tendencies . . . and he has humane feelings too. . . .  The
rudiments anyway . . . and in the hands of such a strong and clever
girl as Anna Andreyevna, he would rise to her level and be happy.
I am sorry I've no time to spare . . . but let us go a little way
together, I should like to tell you something. . . ."

"No, you go on, I'm not going that way.  Are you coming to dinner?"

"I am coming, I am coming as I promised.  Listen, Liza, a low
brute, a loathsome creature in fact, called Stebelkov, has a
strange influence over his doings . . . an IOU. . . .  In short he
has him in his power, and he has pressed him so hard, and Prince
Sergay has humiliated himself so far that neither of them see any
way out of it except an offer to Anna Andreyevna.  And really she
ought to be warned, though that's nonsense; she will set it all to
rights later.  But what do you think, will she refuse him?"

"Good-bye, I am late," Liza muttered, and in the momentary look on
her face I saw such hatred that I cried out in horror:

"Liza, darling, what is it?"

"I am not angry with you; only don't gamble. . . ."

"Oh, you are talking of that; I'm not going to."

"You said just now: 'when we are happy.'  Are you very happy then?"

"Awfully, Liza, awfully!  Good heavens, why it's past three
o'clock! . . .  Good-bye, Liza.  Lizotchka darling, tell me: can
one keep a woman waiting?  Isn't it inexcusable?"

"Waiting to meet you, do you mean?" said Liza faintly smiling, with
a sort of lifeless, trembling smile.

"Give me your hand for luck."

"For luck? my hand?  I won't, not for anything."

She walked away quickly.  And she had exclaimed it so earnestly!  I
jumped into my sledge.

Yes, yes, this was "happiness," and it was the chief reason why I
was as blind as a mole, and had no eyes or understanding, except
for myself.



Now I am really afraid to tell my story.  It all happened long ago;
and it is all like a mirage to me now.  How could such a woman
possibly have arranged a rendezvous with such a contemptible urchin
as I was then?  Yet so it seemed at first sight!  When, leaving
Liza, I raced along with my heart throbbing, I really thought that
I had gone out of my mind: the idea that she had granted me this
interview suddenly appeared to me such an obvious absurdity, that
it was impossible for me to believe in it.  And yet I had not the
faintest doubt of it; the more obviously absurd it seemed, the more
implicitly I believed in it.

The fact that it had already struck three troubled me:  "If an
interview has been granted me, how can I possibly be late for it,"
I thought.  Foolish questions crossed my mind, too, such as:
"Which was my better course now, boldness or timidity?"  But all
this only flashed through my mind because I had something of real
value in my heart, which I could not have defined.  What had been
said the evening before was this:  "To-morrow at three o'clock I
shall be at Tatyana Pavlovna's," that was all.  But in the first
place, she always received me alone in her own room, and she could
have said anything she liked to me there, without going to Tatyana
Pavlovna's for the purpose; so why have appointed another place of
meeting?  And another question was: would Tatyana Pavlovna be at
home or not?  If it were a tryst then Tatyana Pavlovna would not be
at home.  And how could this have been arranged without telling
Tatyana Pavlovna beforehand?  Then was Tatyana Pavlovna in the
secret?  This idea seemed to me wild, and in a way indelicate,
almost coarse.

And, in fact, she might simply have been going to see Tatyana
Pavlovna, and have mentioned the fact to me the previous evening
with no object in view, but I had misunderstood her.  And, indeed,
it had been said so casually, so quickly, and after a very tedious
visit.  I was for some reason overcome with stupidity the whole
evening: I sat and mumbled, and did not know what to say, raged
inwardly, and was horribly shy, and she was going out somewhere, as
I learnt later, and was evidently relieved when I got up to go.
All these reflections surged into my mind.  I made up my mind at
last that when I arrived I would ring the bell.  "The cook will
open the door," I thought, "and I shall ask whether Tatyana
Pavlovna is at home.  If she is not then it's a tryst."  But I had
no doubt of it, no doubt of it!

I ran up the stairs and when I was at the door all my fears
vanished.  "Come what may," I thought, "if only it's quickly!"  The
cook opened the door and with revolting apathy snuffled out that
Tatyana Pavlovna was not at home.  "But isn't there some one else?
Isn't there some one waiting for her?" I wanted to ask, but I did
not ask, "I'd better see for myself," and muttering to the cook
that I would wait, I took off my fur coat and opened the door. . . .

Katerina Nikolaevna was sitting at the window "waiting for Tatyana

"Isn't she at home?" she suddenly asked me, in a tone of anxiety
and annoyance as soon as she saw me.  And her face and her voice
were so utterly incongruous with what I had expected that I came to
a full stop in the doorway.

"Who's not at home?" I muttered.

"Tatyana Pavlovna!  Why, I asked you yesterday to tell her that I
would be with her at three o'clock."

"I . . . I have not seen her at all."

"Did you forget?"

I sat completely overwhelmed.  So this was all it meant!  And the
worst of it was it was all as clear as twice two makes four, and I--
I had all this while persisted in believing it.

"I don't remember your asking me to tell her.  And in fact you
didn't ask me: you simply said you would be here at three o'clock,"
I burst out impatiently, I did not look at her.

"Oh!" she cried suddenly; "but if you forgot to tell her, though
you knew I should be here, what has brought you here?"

I raised my head; there was no trace of mockery or anger in her
face, there was only her bright, gay smile, and a look more
mischievous than usual.  Though, indeed, her face always had an
expression of almost childish mischief.

"There, you see I've caught you; well, what are you going to say
now?" her whole face seemed to be saying.

I did not want to answer and looked down again.  The silence lasted
half a minute.

"Have you just come from papa?" she asked.

"I have come from Anna Andreyevna's, I haven't been to see Prince
Nikolay Ivanitch at all . . . and you know that," I added suddenly.

"Did anything happen to you at Anna Andreyevna's?"

"You mean that I look as though I were crazy?  But I looked crazy
before I went to Anna Andreyevna."

"And you didn't recover your wits there?"

"No, I didn't.  And what's more I heard that you were going to
marry Baron Buring."

"Did she tell you that?" she asked with sudden interest.

"No, it was I told her; I heard Nastchokin tell Prince Sergay so
this morning."

I still kept my eyes cast down and did not look at her; to look at
her meant to be flooded with radiance, joy, and happiness, and I
did not want to be happy.  Indignation had stung me to the heart,
and in one instant I had taken a tremendous resolution.  Then I
began to speak, I hardly knew what about.  I was breathless, and
spoke indistinctly, but I looked at her boldly.  My heart was
throbbing.  I began talking of something quite irrelevant, though
perhaps not incoherently.  At first she listened with a serene,
patient smile, which never left her face, but little by little
signs of surprise and then of alarm passed over her countenance.
The smile still persisted, but from time to time it seemed
tremulous.  "What's the matter?" I asked her, noticing that she
shuddered all over.

"I am afraid of you," she answered, almost in trepidation.

"Why don't you go away?" I said.  "As Tatyana Pavlovna is not at
home, and you know she won't be, you ought to get up and go."

"I meant to wait for her, but now . . . really. . . ."

She made a movement to get up.

"No, no, sit down," I said, stopping her; "there, you shuddered
again, but you smile even when you're frightened. . . .  You always
have a smile.  There, now you are smiling all over. . . ."

"You are raving."

"Yes, I am."

"I am frightened . . ." she whispered again.

"Frightened of what?"

"That you'll begin knocking down the walls . . ." she smiled again,
though she really was scared.

"I can't endure your smile . . . !"

And I talked away again.  I plunged headlong.  It was as though
something had given me a shove.  I had never, never talked to her
like that, I had always been shy.  I was fearfully shy now, but I
talked; I remember I talked about her face.

"I can't endure your smile any longer!" I cried suddenly.  "Why did
I even in Moscow picture you as menacing, magnificent, using
venomous drawing-room phrases?  Yes, even before I left Moscow, I
used to talk with Marie Ivanovna about you, and imagined what you
must be like. . . .  Do you remember Marie Ivanovna?  You've been
in her house.  When I was coming here I dreamed of you all night in
the train.  For a whole month before you came I gazed at your
portrait, in your father's study, and could make nothing of it.
The expression of your face is childish mischief and boundless
good-nature--there!  I have been marvelling at it all the time I've
been coming to see you.  Oh, and you know how to look haughty and
to crush one with a glance.  I remember how you looked at me at
your father's that day when you had arrived from Moscow . . . I saw
you then, but if you were to ask me how I went out of the room or
what you were like, I could not tell you--I could not even have
told whether you were tall or short.  As soon as I saw you I was
blinded.  Your portrait is not in the least like you: your eyes are
not dark, but light, it's only the long eyelashes that make them
look dark.  You are plump, you are neither tall nor short, you have
a buxom fullness, the light full figure of a healthy peasant girl.
And your face is quite countrified, too, it's the face of a village
beauty--don't be offended.  Why, it's fine, it's better so--a
round, rosy, clear, bold, laughing, and . . . bashful face!
Really, bashful.  Bashful! of Katerina Nikolaevna Ahmakov!  Bashful
and chaste, I swear!  More than chaste--childlike!--that's your
face!  I have been astounded by it all this time, and have been
asking myself, is the woman so, too?  I know now that you are very
clever, but do you know, at first I thought you were a simpleton?
You have a bright and lively mind, but without embellishments of
any sort. . . .  Another thing I like is that your smile never
deserts you; that's my paradise!  I love your calmness, too, your
quietness, and your uttering your words so smoothly, so calmly and
almost lazily, it's just that laziness I like.  I believe if a
bridge were to break down under you, you would say something in a
smooth and even voice. . . .  I imagined you as the acme of pride
and passion, and for the last two months you've been talking to me
as one student talks to another.  I never imagined that you had
such a brow; it's rather low, like the foreheads of statues, but
soft and as white as marble, under your glorious hair.  Your bosom
is high, your movements are light.  You are extraordinarily
beautiful, but there's no pride about you.  It's only now I've come
to believe it, I've disbelieved in it all this time!"

She listened to this wild tirade with large wide-open eyes, she saw
that I was trembling.  Several times she lifted her gloved hand
with a charming apprehensive gesture to stop me, but every time she
drew it back in dismay and perplexity.  Sometimes she even stepped
back a little.  Two or three times the smile lighted up her face
again; at one time she flushed very red, but in the end was really
frightened and turned pale.  As soon as I stopped she held out her
hand, and in a voice that was still even, though it had a note of
entreaty, said:

"You must not say that . . . you can't talk like that. . . ."

And suddenly she got up from her place, deliberately gathering up
her scarf and sable muff.

"Are you going?" I cried.

"I'm really afraid of you . . . you are abusing . . ." she
articulated slowly and as it were with compassion and reproach.

"Listen, on my honour I won't knock down the walls."

"But you've begun already," she could not refrain from smiling.  "I
don't even know if you will allow me to pass."  And she seemed to
be actually afraid I would not let her go.

"I will open the door myself, but let me tell you I've taken a
tremendous resolution; and if you care to give light to my soul,
come back, sit down, and listen to just two words.  But if you
won't, then go away, and I will open the door to you myself!"

She looked at me and sat down again.

"Some women would have gone out with a show of indignation, but you
sit down!" I cried in exaltation.

"You have never allowed yourself to talk like this before."

"I was always afraid before, I came in now not knowing what I
should say.  You imagine I'm not afraid now: I am.  But I've just
taken a tremendous resolution, and I feel I shall carry it out.
And as soon as I took that resolution I went out of my mind and
began saying all this. . . .  Listen, this is what I have to say,
am I your spy or not?  Answer me that question!"

The colour rushed into her face.

"Don't answer yet, Katerina Nikolaevna, but listen to every thing
and then tell the whole truth."

I had broken down all barriers at once and plunged headlong into


"Two months ago I was standing here behind the curtain . . . you
know . . . and you talked to Tatyana Pavlovna about the letter.  I
rushed out, and beside myself, I blurted out the truth.  You saw at
once that I knew something . . . you could not help seeing it . . .
you were trying to find an important document, and were uneasy
about it. . . .  Wait a bit, Katerina Nikolaevna, don't speak yet.
I must tell you that your suspicion was well founded: that document
does exist . . . that is to say it did. . . .  I have seen it--your
letter to Andronikov, that's it, isn't it?"

"You've seen that letter?" she asked quickly, in embarrassment and
agitation.  "When did you see it?"

"I saw it . . . I saw it at Kraft's . . . you know, the man that
shot himself. . . ."

"Really?  You saw it yourself?  What became of it?"

"Kraft tore it up."

"In your presence, did you see him?"

"Yes, he tore it up, probably because he was going to die. . . .
I did not know then, of course, that he was going to shoot
himself. . . ."

"So it has been destroyed, thank God!" she commented slowly with a
deep sigh, and she crossed herself.

I was not lying to her, that is to say I was lying because the
letter in question was in my hands and had never been in Kraft's,
but that was a mere detail; in what really mattered I did not lie,
because at the instant I told the lie I nerved myself to burn the
letter that very evening.  I swear that if it had been in my pocket
that moment I would have taken it out and given it her; but I
hadn't it with me, it was at my lodging.  Perhaps though I should
not have given it her because I should have felt horribly ashamed
to confess to her then that I had it, and had been keeping it and
waiting so long before I gave it back.  It made no difference, I
should have burnt it at home in any case, and I was not lying!  I
swear that at that moment my heart was pure.

"And since that's how it is," I went on, almost beside myself,
"tell me, have you been attracting me, have you been welcoming me
in your drawing-room because you suspected that I knew of the
letter?  Stay, Katerina Nikolaevna, one minute more, don't speak,
but let me finish: all the time I've been coming to see you, all
this time I've been suspecting that it was only because of that
that you made much of me, to get that letter out of me, to lead me
on to telling you about it. . . .  Wait one more minute: I
suspected it, but I suffered.  Your duplicity was more than I could
bear, for I found you a noble creature!  I tell you plainly; I was
your enemy, but I found you a noble creature!  I was utterly
vanquished.  But your duplicity, that is the suspicion of your
duplicity, was anguish. . . .  Now everything must be settled,
everything must be explained, the time has come for it; but wait
yet a little longer, don't speak, let me tell you how I look at it
myself, just now at this moment; I tell you plainly, if it has been
so I don't resent it . . . that is, I mean, I'm not offended, for
it's so natural; I understand, you see.  What is there unnatural or
wrong about it?  You were worried about a letter, you suspected
that So-and-so knew all about it; well, you might very naturally
desire So-and-so to speak out. . . .  There's no harm in that, none
at all.  I am speaking sincerely.  Yet now you must tell me
something . . . you must confess (forgive the word), I must have
the truth.  I want it for a reason!  And so tell me, why did you
make much of me?  Was it to get that letter out of me . . .
Katerina Nikolaevna?"

I spoke as though I were falling from a height, and my forehead was
burning.  She was listening to me now without apprehension; on the
contrary, her face was full of feeling; but she looked somehow
abashed, as though she were ashamed.

"It was for that," she said slowly and in a low voice.  "Forgive
me, I did wrong," she added suddenly, with a faint movement of her
hands towards me.  I had never expected this . . . had expected
anything rather that those two words--even from her whom I knew

"And you tell me you did wrong! so simply:  'I did wrong,'" I

"Oh, for a long time I've been feeling that I was not treating you
fairly . . . and, indeed, I'm glad to be able to speak of it. . . ."

"For a long time you've been feeling that?  Why did you not speak
of it before?"

"Oh, I did not know how to say it," she smiled; "that is, I should
have known how," she smiled again, "but I always felt ashamed . . .
because at first it really was only on that account that I
'attracted' you, as you expressed it; but very soon afterwards I
felt disgusted and sick of all this deception, I assure you!" she
added with bitter feeling; "and of all this troublesome business!"

"And why--why couldn't you have asked me then straightforwardly?
You should have said: 'you know about the letter, why do you
pretend?'  And I should have told you at once, I should have
confessed at once!"

"Oh, I was . . . a little afraid of you.  I must admit I did not
trust you either.  And after all, if I dissembled, you did the
same," she added with a laugh.

"Yes, yes, I have been contemptible!" I cried, overwhelmed.  "Oh,
you don't know yet the abyss into which I have fallen."

"An abyss already!  I recognize your style," she smiled softly.
"That letter," she added mournfully, "was the saddest and most
indiscreet thing I ever did.  The consciousness of it was a
continual reproach.  Moved by circumstances and apprehension, I had
doubts of my dear generous-hearted father.  Knowing that that letter
might fall . . . into the hands of malicious people . . . and I had
good reasons for fearing this" (she added hotly), "I trembled that
they might use it, might show my father . . . and it might make a
tremendous impression on him . . . in his condition . . . on his
health . . . and he might be estranged from me. . . .  Yes," she
added, looking me candidly in the face, and probably catching some
shade in my expression; "yes, and I was afraid for my future too; I
was afraid that he . . . under the influence of his illness . . .
might deprive me of his favour. . . .  That feeling came in too; no
doubt I did him an injustice; he is so kind and generous, that no
doubt he would have forgiven me.  That's all.  But I ought not to
have treated you as I did," she concluded, again seeming suddenly
abashed.  "You have made me feel ashamed."

"No, you have nothing to be ashamed of," I cried.

"I certainly did reckon . . . on your impulsiveness . . . and I
recognize it," she brought out, looking down.

"Katerina Nikolaevna!  Who forces you to make such confessions to
me, tell me that?" I cried, as though I were drunk.  "Wouldn't it
have been easy for you to get up, and in the most exquisite phrases
to prove to me subtly and as clearly as twice two make four that
though it was so, yet it was nothing of the sort--you understand,
as people of your world know how to deal with the truth?  I am
crude and foolish, you know, I should have believed you at once, I
should have believed anything from you, whatever you said!  It
would have cost you nothing to behave like that, of course!  You
are not really afraid of me, you know!  How could you be so willing
to humiliate yourself like this before an impudent puppy, a
wretched raw youth?"

"In this anyway I've not humiliated myself before you," she
enunciated with immense dignity, apparently not understanding my

"No, indeed, quite the contrary, that's just what I am saying. . . ."

"Oh, it was so wrong, so thoughtless of me!" she exclaimed, putting
her hand to her face, as though to hide it.  "I felt ashamed
yesterday, that's why I was not myself when I was with you. . . .
The fact is," she added, "that circumstances have made it
absolutely essential for me at last to find out the truth about
that unlucky letter, or else I should have begun to forget about
it . . . for I have not let you come to see me simply on account
of that," she added suddenly.

There was a tremor at my heart.

"Of course not," she went on with a subtle smile, "of course not!
I . . . You very aptly remarked, Arkady Makarovitch, that we have
often talked together as one student to another.  I assure you I am
sometimes very much bored in company; I have felt so particularly
since my time abroad and all these family troubles . . . I very
rarely go anywhere, in fact, and not simply from laziness.  I often
long to go into the country.  There I could read over again my
favourite books, which I have laid aside for so long, and have
never been able to bring myself to read again.  I have spoken to
you of that already.  Do you remember, you laughed at my reading
the Russian newspapers at the rate of two a day."

"I didn't laugh. . . ."

"Of course not, for you, too, were excited over them, and I
confessed, too, long ago, that I am Russian, and love Russia.  You
remember we always read 'facts' as you called them" (she smiled).
"Though you are at times somewhat . . . strange, yet sometimes you
grew so eager and would say such good things, and you were
interested just in what I was interested in.  When you are a
'student' you are charming and original.  Nothing else suits you so
well," she added, with a sly and charming smile.  "Do you remember
we sometimes talked for hours about nothing but figures, reckoned
and compared, and took trouble to find out how many schools there
are in Russia, and in what direction progress is being made?  We
reckoned up the murders and serious crimes and set them off against
the cheering items. . . .  We wanted to find out in what direction
we were moving, and what would happen to us in the end.  In you I
found sincerity.  In our world men never talk like that to us, to
women.  Last week I was talking to Prince X. about Bismarck, for I
was very much interested, and could not make up my mind about him,
and only fancy, he sat down beside me and began telling me about
him very fully, indeed, but always with a sort of irony, and that
patronizing condescension which I always find so insufferable, and
which is so common in 'great men' when they talk to us women if we
meddle with 'subjects beyond our sphere.' . . .  Do you remember
that we almost had a quarrel, you and I, over Bismarck?  You showed
me that you had ideas of your own 'far more definite' than
Bismarck's," she laughed suddenly.  "I have only met two people in
my whole life who talked to me quite seriously; my husband, a very,
very intelligent and hon-our-able man," she pronounced the words
impressively, "and you know whom. . . ."

"Versilov!" I cried; I hung breathless on every word she uttered.

"Yes, I was very fond of listening to him, I became at last
absolutely open . . . perhaps too open with him, but even then he
did not believe in me!"

"Did not believe in you?"

"No, no one has ever believed in me."

"But Versilov, Versilov!"

"He did not simply disbelieve in me," she pronounced, dropping her
eyes, and smiling strangely, "but considered that I had all the

"Of which you have not one!"

"No, even I have some."

"Versilov did not love you, so he did not understand you," I cried
with flashing eyes.

Her face twitched.

"Say no more of that and never speak to me of . . . of that man,"
she added hotly, with vehement emphasis.  "But that's enough: I
must be going"--she got up to go.  "Well, do you forgive me or
not?" she added, looking at me brightly.

"Me . . . forgive you. . . .  Listen, Katerina Nikolaevna, and
don't be angry; is it true that you are going to be married?"

"That's not settled," she said in confusion, seeming frightened of

"Is he a good man?  Forgive me, forgive me that question!"

"Yes, very."

"Don't answer further, don't vouchsafe me an answer!  I know that
such questions from me are impossible!  I only wanted to know
whether he is worthy of you or not, but I will find out for

"Ah, listen!" she said in dismay.

"No, I won't, I won't.  I'll step aside. . . .  Only this one thing
I want to say:  God grant you every happiness according to your
choice . . . for having given me so much happiness in this one
hour!  Your image is imprinted on my heart for ever now.  I have
gained a treasure: the thought of your perfection.  I expected
duplicity and coarse coquetry and was wretched because I could not
connect that idea with you.  I've been thinking day and night
lately, and suddenly everything has become clear as daylight!  As I
was coming here I thought I should bear away an image of jesuitical
cunning, of deception, of an inquisitorial serpent, and I found
honour, magnificence, a student.  You laugh.  Laugh away!  You are
holy, you know, you cannot laugh at what is sacred. . . ."

"Oh no, I'm only laughing because you use such wonderful
expressions. . . .  But what is an 'inquisitorial serpent'?" she

"You let slip to-day a priceless sentence," I went on ecstatically.
"How could you to my face utter the words; 'I reckoned on your
impulsiveness'?  Well, granted you are a saint, and confess even
that, because you imagined yourself guilty in some way and want to
punish yourself . . . though there was no fault of any sort, for,
if there had been, from you everything is holy!  But yet you need
not have uttered just that word, that expression! . . .  Such
unnatural candour only shows your lofty purity, your respect for
me, your faith in me!" I cried incoherently.  "Oh, do not blush, do
not blush! . . .  And how, how could anyone slander you, and say
that you are a woman of violent passions?  Oh, forgive me: I see a
look of anguish on your face; forgive a frenzied boy his clumsy
words!  Besides, do words matter now?  Are you not above all
words? . . .  Versilov said once that Othello did not kill Desdemona
and afterwards himself because he was jealous, but because he had
been robbed of his ideal. . . .  I understand that, because to-day
my ideal has been restored to me!"

"You praise me too much: I don't deserve this," she pronounced with
feeling.  "Do you remember what I told you about your eyes?" she
added playfully.

"That I have microscopes for eyes, and that I exaggerate every fly
into a camel!  No, this time it's not a camel. . . .  What, you are

She was standing in the middle of the room with her muff and her
shawl in her hands.

"No, I shall wait till you're gone, and then I shall go afterwards.
I must write a couple of words to Tatyana Pavlovna."

"I'm going directly, directly, but once more: may you be happy
alone, or with the man of your choice, and God bless you!  All that
I need is my ideal!"

"Dear, good Arkady Makarovitch, believe me I . . . My father always
says of you 'the dear, good boy!'  Believe me I shall always
remember what you have told me of your lonely childhood, abandoned
amongst strangers, and your solitary dreams. . . .  I understand
only too well how your mind has been formed . . . but now though we
are students," she added, with a deprecating and shamefaced smile,
pressing my hand, "we can't go on seeing each other as before and,
and . . . no doubt you will understand that?"

"We cannot?"

"No, we cannot, for a long time, we cannot . . . it's my
fault. . . .  I see now that it's quite out of the question. . . .
We shall meet sometimes at my father's."

"You are afraid of my 'impulsiveness,' my feelings, you don't
believe in me!" I would have exclaimed, but she was so overcome
with shame that my words refused to be uttered.

"Tell me," she said, stopping me all at once in the doorway, "did
you see yourself that . . . that letter was torn up?  You are sure
you remember it?  How did you know at the time that it was the
letter to Andronikov?"

"Kraft told me what was in it, and even showed it to me. . . .
Good-bye!  When I am with you in your study I am shy of you, but
when you go away I am ready to fall down and kiss the spot where
your foot has touched the floor. . . ." I brought out all at once,
unconsciously, not knowing how or why I said it.  And without
looking at her I went quickly out of the room.

I set off for home; there was rapture in my soul.  My brain was in
a whirl, my heart was full.  As I drew near my mother's house I
recalled Liza's ingratitude to Anna Andreyevna, her cruel and
monstrous saying that morning, and my heart suddenly ached for them

"How hard their hearts are!  And Liza too, what's the matter with
her?" I thought as I stood on the steps.

I dismissed Matvey and told him to come to my lodging for me at
nine o'clock.



I was late for dinner, but they had not yet sat down to table, they
had waited for me.  Perhaps because I did not often dine with them,
some special additions to the menu had been made on my account:
with the savouries there were sardines and so on.  But to my
surprise and regret, I found them all rather worried and out of
humour.  Liza scarcely smiled when she saw me, and mother was
obviously uneasy; Versilov gave me a smile, but it was a forced
one.  "Have they been quarrelling?" I wondered.  Everything went
well at first, however; Versilov only frowned over the soup with
dumplings in it, and made wry faces when he was handed the beef

"I have only to mention that a particular dish does not suit me,
for it to reappear next day," he pronounced in vexation.

"But how's one to invent things, Andrey Petrovitch?  There's no
inventing a new dish of any sort," my mother answered timidly.

"Your mother is the exact opposite of some of our newspapers, to
whom whatever is new is good," Versilov tried to make a joke in a
more playful and amiable voice; but it somehow fell flat, and only
added to the discomfiture of my mother, who of course could make
nothing of the comparison of herself with the newspapers, and
looked about her in perplexity.  At that moment Tatyana Pavlovna
came in, and announcing that she had already dined, sat down near
mother, on the sofa.

I had not yet succeeded in gaining the good graces of that lady,
quite the contrary in fact; she used to fall foul of me more than
ever, for everything, and about everything.  Her displeasure had of
late become more accentuated than ever; she could not endure the
sight of my foppish clothes, and Liza told me that she almost had a
fit when she heard that I kept a coachman and a smart turn-out.
I ended by avoiding meeting her as far as possible.  Two months
before, when the disputed inheritance was given up to Prince
Sergay, I had run to Tatyana Pavlovna, meaning to talk over
Versilov's conduct with her, but I met with no trace of sympathy;
on the contrary she was dreadfully angry: she was particularly
vexed that the whole had been given back, instead of half the
fortune; she observed sharply:

"I'll bet you are persuaded that he has given up the money and
challenged the prince to a duel, solely to regain the good opinion
of Arkady Makarovitch."

And indeed she was almost right.  I was in reality feeling
something of the sort at the time.

As soon as she came in I saw at once that she would infallibly
attack me.  I was even inclined to believe that she had come in
expressly with that object, and so I immediately became exceptionally
free-and-easy in my manner; this was no effort to me, for what had
just happened had left me still radiant and joyful.  I may mention
once and for all that a free-and-easy manner never has been right
for me, that is to say, it never suits me, but always covers me with
disgrace.  So it happened now.  I instantly said the wrong thing,
with no evil intent, but simply from thoughtlessness; noticing that
Liza was horribly depressed, I suddenly blurted out, without
thinking of what I was saying:

"I haven't dined here for such ages, and now I have come, see how
bored you are, Liza!"

"My head aches," answered Liza.

"Good gracious!" said Tatyana Pavlovna, instantly catching at it.
"What if you are ill?  Arkady Makarovitch has deigned to come to
dinner, you must dance and be merry."

"You really are the worry of my life, Tatyana Pavlovna.  I will
never come again when you are here!" and I brought my hand down on
the table with genuine vexation; mother started, and Versilov
looked at me strangely.  I laughed at once and begged their pardon.

"Tatyana Pavlovna, I take back the word 'worry,'" I said, turning
to her, with the same free-and-easy tone.

"No, no," she snapped out, "it's much more flattering to be a worry
to you than to be the opposite, you may be sure of that."

"My dear boy, one must learn to put up with the small worries of
life," Versilov murmured with a smile, "life is not worth living
without them."

"Do you know, you are sometimes a fearful reactionary," I cried,
laughing nervously.

"My dear boy, it doesn't matter."

"Yes, it does!  Why not tell the blunt truth to an ass, if he is an

"Surely you are not speaking of yourself?  To begin with, I can't
judge anyone, and I don't want to."

"Why don't you want to, why can't you?"

"Laziness and distaste.  A clever woman told me once that I had no
right to judge others because 'I don't know how to suffer,' that
before judging others, one must gain the right to judge, from
suffering.  Rather exalted, but, as applied to me, perhaps it's
true, so that I very readily accepted the criticism."

"Wasn't it Tatyana Pavlovna who told you that?" I cried.

"Why, how do you know?" said Versilov, glancing at me with some

"I knew it from Tatyana Pavlovna's face: she gave a sudden start."

I guessed by chance.  The phrase, as it appeared later, actually
had been uttered by Tatyana Pavlovna, the evening before, in a
heated discussion.  And indeed, I repeat, I had, brimming over with
joy and expansiveness, swooped down upon them at an unfortunate
moment; all of them had their separate troubles, and they were
heavy ones.

"I don't understand it," I went on, "because it's all so abstract;
it's dreadful how fond you are of abstract discussion, Andrey
Petrovitch; it's a sign of egoism; only egoists are fond of

"That's not a bad saying, but don't persecute me."

"But let me ask," I insisted expansively, "what's the meaning of
'gaining the right to judge?'  Anyone who is honest may be a judge,
that's my idea."

"You won't find many judges in that case."

"I know one anyway."

"Who's that?"

"He is sitting and talking to me now."

Versilov laughed strangely, he stooped down to my ear, and taking
me by the shoulder whispered, "He is always lying to you."

I don't know to this day what was in his mind, but evidently he was
in some agitation at the time (in consequence of something he had
learned, as I found out later).  But those words, "he is always
lying to you," were so unexpected and uttered so earnestly, and
with such a strange and far from playful expression, that it gave
me a nervous shudder.  I was almost alarmed and looked at him
wildly; but Versilov made haste to laugh.

"Well, thank God!" murmured my mother, who was uneasy at seeing him
whisper to me, "I was almost thinking. . . .  Don't be angry with
us, Arkasha; you'll have clever friends apart from us, but who is
going to love you, if we don't love one another?"

"The love of one's relations is immoral, mother, just because it's
undeserved; love ought to be earned."

"You'll earn it later on, but here you are loved without."

Every one suddenly laughed.

"Well, mother, you may not have meant to shoot, but you hit your
bird!" I cried, laughing, too.

"And you actually imagined that there's something to love you for,"
cried Tatyana Pavlovna, falling upon me again:  "You are not simply
loved for nothing, you are loved in spite of loathing."

"Oh not a bit of it," I cried gaily; "do you know, perhaps, some
one told me to-day I was loved."

"Said it laughing at you!" Tatyana Pavlovna said suddenly with a
sort of unnatural malignity, as though she had just been waiting
for me to say that, "yes, a person of delicacy, especially a woman,
would be moved to disgust by the uncleanness of your soul.  Your
hair is done with a smart parting, you have fine linen, and a suit
made by a French tailor, but it's all uncleanness really!  Who's
paid your tailor's bill, who keeps you, and gives you money to play
roulette with?  Think who it is you've been so shameless as to
sponge on!"

My mother flushed painfully, and I had never seen a look of such
shame on her face before.  Everything seemed to be giving way
within me.

"If I am spending money it's my own, and I am not bound to give an
account of it to anyone," I blurted out, turning crimson.

"Whose own?  What money's your own?"

"If it's not mine, it's Andrey Petrovitch's.  He won't refuse it
me. . . .  I borrowed from what Prince Sergay owes Andrey
Petrovitch. . . ."

"My dear boy," Versilov said firmly, all of a sudden, "not a
farthing of that money is mine."

The phrase was horribly significant.  I was dumbfoundered.  Oh, of
course, considering my paradoxical and careless attitude at that
time, I might quite well have turned it off with some outburst of
"generous" feeling, or high-sounding phrase, or something, but I
suddenly caught on Liza's face a resentful accusing expression, an
expression I had not deserved, almost a sneer, and a devil seemed
to prompt me.

"You seem," I said, turning to her suddenly, "to visit Darya
Onisimovna very often at Prince Sergay's flat, miss, so will you be
pleased to give her this three hundred roubles, which you've given
me such a nagging about already to-day?"

I took out the money and held it out to her.  But will it be
believed that those mean words were uttered entirely without
motive, that is, without the faintest allusion to anything.  And
indeed there could have been no such allusion, for at that moment I
knew absolutely nothing.  Perhaps I had just a desire to vex her by
something comparatively most innocent, by way of a gibe, "Since you
are such an interfering young lady, wouldn't you like to return the
money yourself to the prince, a charming young man and a Petersburg
officer, as you are so anxious to meddle in young men's business."
But what was my amazement when my mother got up, and, with a
menacing gesture, cried:

"How dare you!  How dare you!"

I could never have conceived of anything like it from her, and I
too jumped up from my seat, not exactly in alarm, but with a sort
of anguish, a poignant wound in my heart, suddenly realizing that
something dreadful had happened.  But unable to control herself,
mother hid her face in her hands and ran out of the room.  Liza
followed her out without so much as a glance at me.  Tatyana
Pavlovna gazed at me for half a minute in silence.

"Can you really have meant to jeer?" she exclaimed enigmatically,
looking at me in profound astonishment, but without waiting for me
to answer, she, too, ran out to join them.  With an unsympathetic,
almost angry expression, Versilov got up from the table, and took
his hat from the corner.

"I imagine that you are not so much a fool as an innocent," he
mumbled to me ironically.  "If they come back, tell them to have
their pudding without waiting for me.  I am going out for a

I remained alone; at first I felt bewildered, then I felt
resentful, but afterwards I saw clearly that I was to blame.
However, I did not know exactly how I was to blame, I simply had a
feeling of it.  I sat in the window and waited.  After waiting ten
minutes, I, too, took my hat, and went upstairs to the attic, which
had been mine.  I knew that they, that is my mother and Liza, were
there, and that Tatyana Pavlovna had gone away.  And so I found
them on my sofa, whispering together about something.  They left
off whispering at once, when I appeared; to my amazement they were
not angry with me; mother anyway smiled at me.

"I am sorry, mother," I began.

"Never mind!" mother cut me short, "only love each other and never
quarrel and God will send you happiness."

"He is never nasty to me, mother, I assure you," Liza said with
conviction and feeling.

"If it hadn't been for that Tatyana Pavlovna nothing would have
happened," I cried; "she's horrid!"

"You see, mother?  You hear?" said Liza with a motion towards me.

"What I want to tell you both is this," I declared: "if there is
anything nasty in the world, it's I that am nasty, and all the rest
is delightful!"

"Arkasha, don't be angry, darling, but if you really would give
up . . ."

"Gambling, you mean, gambling?  I will give it up, mother.  I am
going there for the last time to-day--especially since Andrey
Petrovitch himself has declared that not a farthing of that money
is his, you can't imagine how I blush. . . .  I must go into it
with him, though . . . Mother darling, last time I was here I said
something clumsy . . . it was nonsense, darling; I truly want to
believe, it was only swagger, I love Christ. . . ."

On my last visit there had been a conversation about religion.
Mother had been much grieved and upset.  When she heard my words
now, she smiled at me as though I were a little child.

"Christ forgives everything, Arkasha; he forgives your wrongdoing
and worse than yours.  Christ is our Father, Christ never fails us,
and will give light in the blackest night. . . ."

I said good-bye to them, and went away, thinking over the chances
of seeing Versilov that day; I had a great deal to talk over with
him, and it had been impossible that afternoon.  I had a strong
suspicion that he would be waiting for me at my lodging.  I walked
there on foot; it had turned colder and begun to freeze and walking
was very pleasant.


I lived near the Voznesenky Bridge, in a huge block of flats
overlooking the courtyard.  Almost as I went into the gate I ran
into Versilov coming out.

"As usual when I go for a walk, I only get as far as your lodging,
and I've been to Pyotr Ippolitovitch's, but I got tired of waiting
for you; your people there are for ever quarrelling, and to-day his
wife is even a little tearful; I looked in and came away."

For some reason I felt annoyed.

"I suppose you never go to see anyone except me and Pyotr
Ippolitovitch; you have no one else in all Petersburg to go to."

"My dear fellow . . . but it doesn't matter."

"Where are you going now?"

"I am not coming back to you.  If you like we'll go for a walk,
it's a glorious evening."

"If instead of abstract discussions, you had talked to me like a
human being, and had for instance given me the merest hint about
that confounded gambling, I should perhaps not have let myself be
drawn into it like a fool," I said suddenly.

"You regret it?  That's a good thing," he answered, bringing out
his words reluctantly; "I always suspected that play was not a
matter of great consequence with you, but only a temporary
aberration. . . .  You are right, my dear boy, gambling is beastly,
and what's more one may lose."

"And lose other people's money, too."

"Have you lost other people's money?"

"I have lost yours.  I borrowed of Prince Sergay, from what was
owing you.  Of course it was fearfully stupid and absurd of me . . .
to consider your money mine, but I always meant to win it back."

"I must warn you once more, my dear boy, that I have no money in
Prince Sergay's hands.  I know that young man is in straits
himself, and I am not reckoning on him for anything, in spite of
his promises."

"That makes my position twice as bad. . . .  I am in a ludicrous
position!  And what grounds has he for lending me money, and me for
borrowing in that case?"

"That's your affair. . . .  But there's not the slightest reason
for you to borrow money from him, is there?"

"Except that we are comrades. . . ."

"No other reason?  Is there anything which has made you feel it
possible to borrow from him?  Any consideration whatever?"

"What sort of consideration do you mean?  I don't understand."

"So much the better if you don't, and I will own, my boy, that I
was sure of it.  Brisons-la, mon cher, and do try to avoid playing

"If only you had told me before!  You seem half-hearted about it
even now."

"If I had spoken to you about it before, we should only have
quarrelled, and you wouldn't have let me come and see you in the
evenings so readily.  And let me tell you, my dear, that all such
saving counsels and warnings are simply an intrusion into another
person's conscience, at another person's expense.  I have done
enough meddling with the consciences of others, and in the long
run I get nothing but taunts and rebuffs for it.  Taunts and
rebuffs, of course, don't matter; the point is that one never
obtains one's object in that way: no one listens to you, however
much you meddle . . . and every one gets to dislike you."

"I am glad that you have begun to talk to me of something besides
abstractions.  I want to ask you one thing, I have wanted to for a
long time, but it's always been impossible when I've been with you.
It is a good thing we are in the street.  Do you remember that
evening, the last evening I spent in your house, two months ago,
how we sat upstairs in my 'coffin,' and I questioned you about
mother and Makar Ivanovitch; do you remember how free and easy I
was with you then?  How could you allow a young puppy to speak in
those terms of his mother?  And yet you made not the faintest sign
of protest; on the contrary, 'you let yourself go,' and so made me
worse than ever."

"My dear boy, I'm very glad to hear . . . such sentiments, from
you. . . .  Yes, I remember very well; I was actually waiting to
see the blush on your cheek, and if I fell in with your tone, it
was just to bring you to the limit. . . ."

"And you only deceived me then, and troubled more than ever the
springs of purity in my soul!  Yes, I'm a wretched raw youth, and I
don't know from minute to minute what is good and what is evil.
Had you given me the tiniest hint of the right road, I should have
realized things and should have been eager to take the right path.
But you only drove me to fury."

"Cher enfant, I always foresaw that, one way or another, we should
understand one another; that 'blush' has made its appearance of
itself, without my aid, and that I swear is better for you. . . .
I notice, my dear boy, that you have gained a great deal of
late . . . can it be the companionship of that princeling?"

"Don't praise me, I don't like it.  Don't leave me with a painful
suspicion that you are flattering me without regard for truth, so
as to go on pleasing me.  Well, lately . . . you see . . . I've
been visiting ladies.  I am very well received, you know, by Anna
Andreyevna, for instance."

"I know that from her, my dear boy.  Yes, she is very charming and
intelligent.  Mais brisons-la, mon cher.  It's odd how sick I feel
of everything to-day, spleen I suppose.  I put it down to
haemorrhoids.  How are things at home?  All right?  You made it
up, of course, and embraces followed?  Cela va sans dire.  It's
melancholy sometimes to go back to them, even after the nastiest
walk.  In fact, I sometimes go a longer way round in the rain,
simply to delay the moment of returning to the bosom of my
family. . . .  And how bored I am there, good God, how bored!"

"Mother . . ."

"Your mother is a most perfect and delightful creature, mais. . . .
In short I am probably unworthy of them.  By the way, what's the
matter with them to-day?  For the last few days they've all been
out of sorts somehow. . . .  I always try to ignore such things you
know, but there is something fresh brewing to-day. . . .  Have you
noticed nothing?"

"I know nothing positive, and in fact I should not have noticed it
at all it if hadn't been for that confounded Tatyana Pavlovna, who
can never resist trying to get her knife in.  You are right; there
is something wrong.  I found Liza at Anna Andreyevna's this
morning, and she was so . . . she surprised me in fact.  You know,
of course, that she visits Anna Andreyevna?"

"I know, my dear.  And you . . . when were you at Anna Andreyevna's,
to-day?  At what time?  I want to know for a reason."

"From two till three.  And only fancy as I was going out Prince
Sergay arrived. . . ."

Then I described my whole visit very circumstantially.  He listened
without speaking; he made no comment whatever on the possibility of
a match between Prince Sergay and Anna Andreyevna; in response to
my enthusiastic praise of Anna Andreyevna he murmured again that
"she was very charming."

"I gave her a great surprise this morning, with the latest bit of
drawing-room gossip that Mme. Ahmakov is to be married to Baron
Buring," I said all of a sudden, as though something were torn out
of me.

"Yes?  Would you believe it, she told me that 'news' earlier in the
day, much earlier than you can have surprised her with it."

"What do you mean?" I was simply struck dumb.  "From whom could she
have heard it?  Though after all, there's no need to ask; of course
she might have heard it before I did; but only imagine, she
listened to me when I told her as though it were absolutely news to
her!  But . . . but what of it?  Hurrah for 'breadth!'  One must
take a broad view of people's characters, mustn't one?  I, for
instance, should have poured it all out at once, and she shuts it
up in a snuff box . . . and so be it, so be it, she is none the
less a most delightful person, and a very fine character!"

"Oh, no doubt of it, every one must go his own way.  And something
more original--these fine characters can sometimes baffle one
completely--just imagine.  Anna Andreyevna took my breath away this
morning by asking:  'Whether I were in love with Katerina
Nikolaevna Ahmakov or not?'"

"What a wild and incredible question!" I cried, dumbfoundered
again.  There was actually a mist before my eyes I had never yet
broached this subject with him, and here he had begun on it

"In what way did she put it?"

"No way, my dear boy, absolutely no way; the snuff-box shut again
at once, more closely than ever, and what's more, observe, I've
never admitted the conceivability of such questions being addressed
to me, nor has she . . . however, you say yourself that you know
her and therefore you can imagine how far such a question is
characteristic. . . .  Do you know anything about it by chance?"

"I am just as puzzled as you are.  Curiosity, perhaps, or a joke."

"Oh, quite the contrary, it was a most serious question, hardly a
question in fact, more a cross-examination, and evidently there
were very important and positive reasons for it.  Won't you be
going to see her?  Couldn't you find out something?  I would ask
you as a favour, do you see . . ."

"But the strangest thing is that she could imagine you to be in
love with Katerina Nikolaevna!  Forgive me, I can't get over my
amazement.  I should never, never have ventured to speak to you on
this subject, or anything like it."

"And that's very sensible of you, my dear boy."

"Your intrigues and your relations in the past--well, of course,
the subject's out of the question between us, and indeed it would
be stupid of me, but of late, the last few days, I have several
times exclaimed to myself that if you had ever loved that woman, if
only for a moment--oh, you could never have made such a terrible
mistake in your opinion of her as you did!  I know what happened, I
know of your enmity, of your aversion, so to say, for each other,
I've heard of it, I've heard too much of it; even before I left
Moscow I heard of it, but the fact that stands out so clearly is
intense aversion, intense hostility, the very OPPOSITE of love, and
Anna Andreyevna suddenly asks point-blank, 'Do you love her?'  Can
she have heard so little about it?  It's wild!  She was laughing, I
assure you she was laughing!"

"But I observe, my dear boy," said Versilov, and there was
something nervous and sincere in his voice, that went to one's
heart, as his words rarely did: "that you speak with too much heat
on this subject.  You said just now that you have taken to visiting
ladies . . . of course, for me to question you . . . on that
subject, as you expressed it. . . .  But is not 'that woman'
perhaps on the list of your new acquaintances?"

"That woman" . . . my voice suddenly quivered; "listen, Andrey
Petrovitch, listen.  That woman is what you were talking of with
Prince Sergay this morning, 'living life,' do you remember?  You
said that living life is something so direct and simple, something
that looks you so straight in the face, that its very directness
and clearness make us unable to believe that it can be the very
thing we're seeking so laboriously all our lives. . . .  With ideas
like that, you met the ideal woman and in perfection, in the ideal,
you recognized 'all the vices'!  That's what you did!"

The reader can guess what a state of frenzy I was in.

"All the vices!  Oho!  I know that phrase," cried Versilov: "and
if things have gone so far, that you are told of such a phrase,
oughtn't I to congratulate you?  It suggests such a degree of
intimacy, that perhaps you deserve credit for a modesty and reserve
of which few young men are capable."

There was a note of sweet, friendly and affectionate laughter in
his voice . . . there was something challenging and charming in his
words, and in his bright face, as far as I could see it in the
night.  He was strangely excited.  I beamed all over in spite of

"Modesty, reserve!  Oh, no, no!" I exclaimed blushing and at the
same time squeezing his hand, which I had somehow seized and was
unconsciously holding.  "No, there's no reason! . . .  In fact
there's nothing to congratulate me on, and nothing of the sort can
ever, ever happen."

I was breathless and let myself go, I so longed to let myself go,
it was so very agreeable to me.

"You know. . . .  Well, after all I will . . . just this once. . . .
You are my darling, splendid father; you will allow me to call
you father; it's utterly out of the question for a son to speak to
his father--for anyone, in fact, to speak to a third person--of his
relations with a woman, even if they are of the purest!  In fact,
the purer they are the greater the obligation of silence.  It would
be distasteful, it would be coarse; in short, a confidant is out of
the question!  But if there's nothing, absolutely nothing, then
surely one may speak, mayn't one?"

"As your heart tells you!"

"An indiscreet, a very indiscreet question: I suppose in the course
of your life you've known women, you've had intimacies? . . .  I
only ask generally, generally, I don't mean anything particular!"
I blushed, and was almost choking with delight.

"We will assume there have been transgressions."

"Well then, I want to ask you this, and you tell me what you think
of it, as a man of more experience: a woman suddenly says, as she
is taking leave of you, casually, looking away, 'Tomorrow at three
o'clock I shall be at a certain place . . . at Tatyana Pavlovna's,
for example,'" I burst out, taking the final plunge.  My heart
throbbed and stood still; I even ceased speaking, I could not go
on.  He listened eagerly.  "And so next day at three o'clock I went
to Tatyana Pavlovna's, and this is what I thought: 'when the cook
opens the door'--you know her cook--'I shall ask first thing
whether Tatyana Pavlovna is at home?  And if the cook says Tatyana
Pavlovna is not at home, but there's a visitor waiting for her,'
what ought I to conclude, tell me if it were you. . . .  In short,
if you . . ."

"Simply that an appointment had been made you.  Then I suppose that
did happen, and it happened to-day.  Yes?"

"Oh no, no, no, nothing, nothing of the sort!  It did happen, but
it wasn't that; it was an appointment, but not of that sort, and
I hasten to say so or I should be a blackguard; it did happen,
but. . . ."

"My dear fellow, all this begins to be so interesting that I
suggest . . ."

"I used to give away ten roubles and twenty-five roubles at a time
to those who begged of me.  For a drink! just a few coppers, it's a
lieutenant implores your aid, a former lieutenant begging of you!"

Our road was suddenly barred by the figure of a tall beggar
possibly, in fact, a retired lieutenant.  What was most singular
was that he was very well dressed for his profession, and yet he
was begging.


I purposely do not omit this paltry incident of the wretched
lieutenant, for my picture of Versilov is not complete without the
petty details of his surroundings at that minute, which was so
momentous for him--momentous it was, and I did not know it!

"If you don't leave off, sir, I shall call the police at once,"
Versilov said, suddenly raising his voice unnaturally, and standing
still before the lieutenant.  I could never imagine such anger from
a man so philosophic, and for such a trivial cause.  And, note, our
conversation was interrupted at the point of most interest to him,
as he had just said himself.

"What, you haven't a five-kopeck piece?" the lieutenant cried
rudely, waving his hand in the air.  "And indeed what canaille have
five kopecks nowadays! the low rabble! the scoundrels!  He goes
dressed in beaver, and makes all this to-do about a copper!"

"Constable," cried Versilov.

But there was no need to shout, a policeman was standing close by,
at the corner, and he had heard the lieutenant's abuse himself.

"I ask you to bear witness to this insult, I ask you to come to the
police-station," said Versilov.

"O-ho, I don't care, there's nothing at all you can prove!  You
won't show yourself so wonderfully clever!"

"Keep hold of him, constable, and take us to the police-station,"
Versilov decided emphatically.

"Surely we are not going to the police-station?  Bother the
fellow!" I whispered to him.

"Certainly we are, dear boy.  The disorderly behaviour in our
streets begins to bore one beyond endurance, and if everyone did
his duty it would make it better for us all.  C'est comique, mais
c'est ce que nous ferons."

For a hundred paces the lieutenant kept up a bold and swaggering
demeanour, and talked with heat; he declared "that it was not the
thing to do," that it was "all a matter of five kopecks," and so
on, and so on.  But at last he began whispering something to the
policeman.  The policeman, a sagacious man, with apparently a
distaste for exhibitions of "nerves" in the street, seemed to be on
his side, though only to a certain degree.  He muttered in an
undertone, in reply, that "it was too late for that now," that "it
had gone too far," and that "if you were to apologize, for
instance, and the gentleman would consent to accept your apology,
then perhaps. . . ."

"Come li-isten, honoured sir, where are we going?  I ask you what
are we hurrying to and what's the joke of it?" the lieutenant cried
aloud: "if a man who is down on his luck is willing to make an
apology . . . in fact, if you want to put him down . . . damn it
all! we are not in a drawing-room, we are in the street!  For the
street, that's apology enough. . . ."

Versilov stopped, and suddenly burst out laughing; I actually
imagined that he had got the whole thing up for amusement, but it
was not so.

"I entirely accept your apology, Monsieur l'officier, and I assure
you that you are a man of ability.  Behave like that in the
drawing-room; it will soon pass muster perfectly there, too, and
meanwhile here are twenty kopecks for you; eat and drink your fill
with it; pardon me, constable, for troubling you; I would have
thanked you more substantially for your pains, but you are so
highly respectable nowadays. . . .  My dear boy," he added turning
to me, "there's an eating house close here, it's really a horrible
sewer, but one could get tea there, and I invite you to a cup . . .
this way, quite close, come along."

I repeat, I had never seen him so excited, though his face was full
of brightness and gaiety; yet I noticed that when he was taking
the coin out of his purse to give it to the officer, his hands
trembled, and his fingers refused to obey him, so that at last he
asked me to take out the money, and give it to the man for him; I
cannot forget it.

He took me to a little restaurant on the canal side, in the
basement.  The customers were few.  A loud barrel-organ was playing
out of tune, there was a smell of dirty dinner napkins; we sat down
in a corner.

"Perhaps you don't know.  I am sometimes so bored . . . so horribly
bored in my soul . . . that I like coming to all sorts of stinking
holes like this.  These surroundings, the halting tune from
'Lucia,' the waiters in their unseemly Russian getup, the fumes of
cheap tobacco, the shouts from the billiard-room, it's all so
vulgar and prosaic that it almost borders on the fantastic. . . .
Well, my dear boy, that son of Mars interrupted us, I believe, at
the most interesting moment. . . .  Here's the tea; I like the tea
here. . . .  Imagine Pyotr Ippolitovitch suddenly began to-day
assuring the other lodger, the one marked with small-pox, that
during the last century a special committee of lawyers was
appointed in the English parliament to examine the trial of Christ
before the High Priest and Pilate, with the sole object of finding
how the case would have gone nowadays by modern law, and that the
inquiry was conducted with all solemnity, with counsel for the
prosecution and all the rest of it. . . .  And that the jury were
obliged to uphold the original verdict. . . .  A wonderful story!
That fool of a lodger began to argue about it, lost his temper,
quarrelled and declared he should leave next day. . . .  The
landlady dissolved in tears at the thought of losing his rent . . .
Mais passons.  In these restaurants they sometimes have
nightingales.  Do you know the old Moscow anecdote a la Pyotr
Ippolitovitch?  A nightingale was singing in a Moscow restaurant, a
merchant came in; 'I must have my fancy, whatever it costs, said
he, 'what's the price of the nightingale?'  'A hundred roubles.'
'Roast it and serve it.'  So they roasted it and served it up.
'Cut me off two-pennorth.'  I once told it to Pyotr Ippolitovitch,
but he did not believe it, and was quite indignant."

He said a great deal more.  I quote these fragments as a sample of
his talk.  He repeatedly interrupted me every time I opened my
mouth to begin my story.  He began each time talking of some
peculiar and utterly irrelevant nonsense; he talked gaily,
excitedly; laughed, goodness knows what at, and even chuckled in an
undignified way, as I had never seen him do before.  He swallowed a
glass of tea at one gulp, and poured out another.  Now I can
understand it, he was like a man who had received a precious,
interesting, and long-expected letter, and who lays it down before
him and purposely refrains from opening it, turning it over and
over in his hands, examining the envelope and the seal, going to
see to things in another room, in short deferring the interesting
moment of perusal, knowing that it cannot escape him.  And all this
he does to make his enjoyment more complete.

I told him all there was to tell, of course, everything from the
very beginning, and it took me perhaps an hour telling it.  And
indeed how could I have helped telling him?  I had been dying to
talk of it that afternoon.  I began with our very first meeting at
the old prince's on the day she arrived from Moscow; then I
described how it had all come about by degrees.  I left nothing
out, and indeed I could not have left anything out; he led me on,
he guessed what was coming and prompted me.  At moments it seemed
to me that something fantastic was happening, that he must have
been sitting or standing behind the door, for those two months; he
knew beforehand every gesture I made, every feeling I had felt.  I
derived infinite enjoyment from this confession to him, for I found
in him such intimate softness, such deep psychological subtlety,
such a marvellous faculty for guessing what I meant from half a
word.  He listened as tenderly as a woman.  And above all he knew
how to save me from feeling ashamed; at times he stopped me at some
detail; often when he stopped me he repeated nervously:  "Don't
forget details; the great thing is, not to forget any details; the
more minute a point is, the more important it may sometimes be."
And he interrupted me several times with words to that effect.  Oh,
of course I began at first in a tone of superiority, superiority to
her, but I quickly dropped into sincerity.  I told him honestly
that I was ready to kiss the spot on the floor where her foot had
rested.  The most beautiful and glorious thing was that he
absolutely understood that she might "be suffering from terror over
the letter" and yet remain the pure and irreproachable being she
had revealed herself to be.  He absolutely realized what was meant
by the word "student."  But when I was near the end of my story I
noticed that behind his good-natured smile there were signs in his
face from time to time of some impatience, some abruptness and
preoccupation; when I came to the letter, I thought to myself:

"Shall I tell him the exact truth or not?" and I did not tell it,
in spite of my enthusiasm.  I note this here that I may remember it
all my life.  I explained to him, as I had done to her, that it had
been destroyed by Kraft.  His eyes began to glow; a strange line, a
line of deep gloom was visible on his forehead.

"You are sure you remember, my dear boy, that that letter was
burned by Kraft in the candle?  You are not mistaken?"

"I am not mistaken," I repeated.

"The point is that that scrap of paper is of such importance
to her, and if you had only had it in your hands to-day, you
might. . . ."  But what "I might" he did not say.  "But you haven't
it in your hands now?"

I shuddered all over inwardly, but not outwardly.  Outwardly I did
not betray myself, I did not turn a hair; but I was still unwilling
to believe in the question:

"Haven't it in my hands!  In my hands now?  How could I since Kraft
burned it that day?"

"Yes?"  A glowing intent look was fastened upon me, a look I shall
never forget; he smiled, however, but all his good-nature, all the
feminine softness that had been in his expression suddenly
vanished.  It was replaced by something vague and troubled; he
become more and more preoccupied.  If he had controlled himself at
that moment, as he had till then, he would not have asked me that
question about the letter; he had asked it, no doubt, because he
was carried away himself.  I say this, however, only now; at the
time, I did not so quickly perceive the change that had come over
him; I still went on plunging, and there was still the same music
in my heart.  But my story was over; I looked at him.

"It's strange," he said suddenly, when I had told him everything to
the minutest detail: "it's a very strange thing, my dear boy: you
say that you were there from three o'clock till four and that
Tatyana Pavlovna was not at home?"

"From three o'clock till half-past four exactly."

"Well, only fancy, I went to see Tatyana Pavlovna exactly at half-
past four to the minute, and she met me in the kitchen: I nearly
always go to see her by the back entrance."

"What, she met you in the kitchen?" I cried, staggering back in

"And she told me she could not ask me in; I only stayed two
minutes, I only looked in to ask her to come to dinner."

"Perhaps she had only just come home from somewhere?"

"I don't know, of course not, though she was wearing a loose
dressing-gown.  That was at half-past four exactly."

"But . . . Tatyana Pavlovna didn't tell you I was there?"

"No, she did not tell me you were there . . . otherwise I should
have known it, and should not have asked you about it."

"Listen, that's awfully important. . . ."

"Yes . . . from a certain point of view; and you've turned quite
white, my dear; but, after all, what is there important in it?"

"They've been laughing at me as though I were a baby!"

"It's simply 'that she was afraid of your impulsiveness,' as she
expressed it herself--and so she felt safer with Tatyana Pavlovna

"But, good God, what a trick!  Think, she let me say all that
before a third person, before Tatyana Pavlovna; so she heard
everything I said!  It . . . it's horrible to conceive of!"

"C'est selon, mon cher.  Besides, you spoke just now of 'breadth'
of view in regard to women and exclaimed 'Hurrah for breadth'!"

"If I were Othello and you Jago, you could not have done
better. . . .  I am laughing though!  There can be no sort of
Othello, because there have been no relations of the kind.  And why
laugh indeed?  It doesn't matter!  I believe she's infinitely above
me all the same, and I have not lost my ideal! . . .  If it was a
joke on her part I forgive her.  A joke with a wretched raw youth
doesn't matter!  Besides, I did not pose as anything, and the
student--the student was there in her soul, and remained there in
spite of everything; it was in her heart, it exists there, and will
always exist there!  Enough!  Listen, what do you think: shall I go
to her at once to find out the whole truth or not?"

I said "I am laughing," but there were tears in my eyes.

"Well, my dear boy, go if you want to."

"I feel as though I were defiled in soul, from having told you all
this.  Don't be angry, dear, but, I repeat, one can't tell things
about a woman to a third person; no confidant will understand.
Even an angel wouldn't understand.  If you respect a woman, don't
confide in anyone!  If you respect yourself don't confide in
anyone.  Now I don't respect myself.  Good-bye for the present; I
can't forgive myself."

"Nonsense, my dear boy, you exaggerate.  You say yourself that
'there was nothing in it.'"

We came out on the canal bank and said good-bye.

"Will you never give me a real warm kiss, as a child kisses its
father?" he said, with a strange quiver in his voice.  I kissed him

"Dear boy . . . may you be always as pure in heart as you are now."

I had never kissed him before in my life, I never could have
conceived that he would like me to.



"I'll go, of course!" I made up my mind as I hurried home, "I'll go
at once.  Very likely I shall find her at home alone; whether she
is alone or with some one else makes no difference: I can ask her
to come out to me.  She will receive me; she'll be surprised, but
she will receive me.  And if she won't see me I'll insist on her
seeing me, I'll send in word that it's most urgent.  She will think
it's something about that letter and will see me.  And I'll find
out all about Tatyana there . . . and what then?  If I am not right
I will be her servant, if I am right and she is to blame it's the
end of everything!  In any case it's the end of everything!  What
am I going to lose?  I can lose nothing.  I'll go!  I'll go!"

I shall never forget and I recall with pride that I did NOT go!  It
will never be known to anyone, it will die with me, but it's enough
that I know of it and at such a moment I was capable of an
honourable impulse.

"This is a temptation, and I will put it behind me," I made up my
mind at last, on second thoughts.  They had tried to terrify me
with a fact, but I refused to believe it, and had not lost my faith
in her purity!  And what had I to go for, what was there to find
out about?  Why was she bound to believe in me as I did in her, to
have faith in my "purity," not to be afraid of my "impulsiveness"
and not to provide against all risks with Tatyana?  I had not yet,
as far as she could see, deserved her confidence.  No matter, no
matter that she does not know that I am worthy of it, that I am not
seduced by "temptations," that I do not believe in malicious
calumnies against her; I know it and I shall respect myself for it.
I shall respect my own feeling.  Oh, yes, she had allowed me to
utter everything before Tatyana, she had allowed Tatyana to be
there, she knew that Tatyana was sitting there listening (for she
was incapable of not listening); she knew that she was laughing at
me out there,--that was awful, awful!  But . . . but what if it
were impossible to avoid it?  What could she have done in her
position, and how could one blame her for it?  Why, I had told her
a lie about Kraft, I had deceived her because that, too, could not
be helped, and I had lied innocently against my will.  "My God!" I
cried suddenly, flushing painfully, "what have I just done myself!
Haven't I exposed her, too, before Tatyana, haven't I repeated it
all to Versilov just now?  Though, after all, there was a difference.
It was only a question of the letter; I had in reality only told
Versilov about the letter because there was nothing else to tell,
and could be nothing else.  Was not I the first to declare that
"there could not be"?  He was a man of insight.  Hm!  But what
hatred there was in his heart for this woman even to this day!  And
what sort of drama must have taken place between them in the past,
and about what?  All due to vanity, of course!"  VERSILOV CANNOT BE

That last thought rose spontaneously in my mind and I did not even
remark it.  Such were the thoughts that floated through my mind one
after another, and I was straightforward with myself; I did not
cheat or deceive myself; and if there was anything I did not
understand at that moment, it was not from sophistry with myself
but only from lack of brains.

I returned home in great excitement, and--I don't know why--in a
very cheerful, though confused state of mind.  But I was afraid of
analysing my feelings and did my utmost to distract my mind.  I
went in at once to see my landlady: it turned out that a terrible
quarrel really had taken place between her husband and her.  She
was in advanced consumption, and though, perhaps, she was a good-
natured woman, like all consumptives she was of uncertain temper.
I began trying to reconcile them at once; I went to the lodger, who
was a very vain little bank clerk, called, Tchervyak, a coarse
pock-marked fool.  I disliked him very much, but I got on with him
quite well, for I often was so mean as to join him in turning Pyotr
Ippolitovitch into ridicule.  I at once persuaded him to keep on
the lodgings, and indeed he would not in any case have really gone
so far as to move.  It ended in my reassuring the landlady
completely, and even succeeding in very deftly putting a pillow
under her head:  "Pyotr Ippolitovitch would never have known how to
do it," she commented malignantly.  Then I busied myself in the
kitchen preparing mustard plasters for her and succeeded in making
two capital ones with my own hand.  Poor Pyotr Ippolitovitch looked
on envious, but I did not allow him to touch them, and was rewarded
by liberal tears of gratitude from the lady.  I remember I suddenly
felt sick of it all, and suddenly realized that I was not looking
after the invalid from kindness at all, but from something else,
some very different motive.

I waited for Matvey with nervous impatience: I had resolved that
evening to try my luck at cards for the last time and . . . and,
apart from my need to win, I had an intense longing to play; but
for that, my excitement would have been unbearable.  If I had not
gone anywhere I might have been unable to hold out and should have
gone to her.  It was almost time for Matvey to come, when the door
was opened and an unexpected visitor, Darya Onisimovna, walked in.
I frowned and was surprised.  She knew my lodging, for she had been
there once with some message from my mother.  I made her sit down
and looked at her inquiringly.  She said nothing, and only looked
straight into my face with a deferential smile.

"You've not come from Liza?" it occurred to me to ask.

"No, it's nothing special."

I informed her that I was just going out; she replied again that it
was "nothing special," and that she was going herself in a minute.
I suddenly for some reason felt sorry for her.  I may observe that
she had met with a great deal of sympathy from all of us, from my
mother, and still more from Tatyana Pavlovna, but after installing
her at Mme. Stolbyeev's all of us had rather begun to forget her,
except perhaps Liza, who often visited her.  I think she was
herself the cause of this neglect, for she had a special faculty
for effacing herself and holding herself aloof from people in spite
of her obsequiousness and her ingratiating smiles.  I personally
disliked those smiles of hers, and her affected expression, and I
even imagined on one occasion that she had not grieved very long
for her Olya.  But this time for some reason I felt very sorry for

And behold, without uttering a word, she suddenly bent forward with
her eyes cast down, and all at once, throwing her arms round my
waist, hid her face on my knees.  She seized my hand, I thought she
meant to kiss it, but she pressed it to her eyes, and hot tears
trickled upon it.  She was shaking all over with sobs, but she wept
silently.  It sent a pang to my heart, even though I felt at the
same time somehow annoyed.  But she was embracing me with perfect
confidence and without the least fear that I might be vexed, though
only just before she had smiled so timidly and cringingly.

I began begging her to calm herself.

"Kind, good friend, I don't know what to do with myself.  As soon
as it gets dark, I can't bear it; as soon as it gets dark I can't
go on bearing it, and I feel drawn into the street, into the
darkness.  And I am drawn there by my imaginings.  My mind is
possessed by the fancy that as soon as ever I go out I shall meet
her in the street.  I walk and seem to see her.  That is other
girls are walking along the street and I walk behind them on
purpose, and I think:  'Isn't it she, there she is,' I think, 'it
really is my Olya!'  I dream and dream.  I turn giddy at last, and
feel sick, and stumble and jostle against people; I stumble as
though I were drunk and some swear at me; I hide by myself and
don't go to see anyone, and wherever one goes, it makes one's heart
more sick; I passed by your lodging just now, and thought:  'I'll
go in to him; he is kinder than any of them, and he was there at
the time.'  Forgive a poor creature who's no use to anyone; I'll go
away directly; I'm going. . . ."

She suddenly got up and made haste to depart.  Matvey arrived just
then; I made her get into the sledge with me, and left her at Mme.
Stolbyeev's on my way.


I had of late begun to frequent Zerstchikov's gambling saloon.  I
had so far visited three gambling houses, always in company with
Prince Sergay, who had introduced me to these places.  At one of
these houses the game was faro especially, and the stakes were
high.  But I did not care for going there: I saw that one could not
get on there without a long purse, and also that the place was
crowded with insolent fellows and swaggering young snobs.  This
was what Prince Sergay liked; he liked playing, too, but he
particularly liked getting to know these young prodigals.  I
noticed that though he went in with me he kept away from me during
the evening and did not introduce me to any of "his set."  I stared
about me like a wild man of the woods, so much so that I sometimes
attracted attention.  At the gambling table people spoke to one
another freely; but once I tried bowing next day to a young fop,
with whom I had not only talked but laughed the previous evening,
sitting beside him, and had even guessed two cards from him.  Yet
when I greeted him in the same room next day, he actually did not
recognize me.  Or what was worse, stared at me with simulated
amazement, and passed by with a smile.  So I quickly gave up the
place and preferred to visit a "sewer"--I don't know what else to
call it--it was a wretched sordid little place for roulette,
managed by a kept woman, who, however, never showed herself in the
saloon.  It was all horribly free and easy there, and though
officers and wealthy merchants sometimes frequented it, there was a
squalid filthiness about the place, though that was an attraction
to many.  Moreover, I was often lucky there.  But I gave that place
up, too, after a disgusting scene, which occurred when the game was
at its hottest and ended in a fight between two players.  I began
going instead to Zerstchikov's, to which Prince Sergay took me
also.  The man was a retired captain, and the tone at his rooms was
very tolerable, military, curt, and businesslike, and there was a
fastidiously scrupulous keeping up of the forms of punctilio.  No
boisterous practical jokers or very fast men frequented it.
Moreover, the stakes played for were often considerable.  Both faro
and roulette were played.  I had only been there twice before that
evening, the 15th of November, but I believe Zerstchikov already
knew me by sight; I had made no acquaintances there, however.
As luck would have it Prince Sergay did not turn up till about
midnight, when he dropped in with Darzan after spending the evening
at the gambling saloon of the young snobs which I had given up; and
so that evening I found myself alone and unknown in a crowd of

If I had a reader and he had read all I have written so far of my
adventures, there would be certainly no need to inform him that I
am not created for any sort of society.  The trouble is I don't
know how to behave in company.  If I go anywhere among a great many
people I always have a feeling as though I were being electrified
by so many eyes looking at me.  It positively makes me shrivel up,
physically shrivel up, even in such places as a theatre, to say
nothing of private houses.  I did not know how to behave with
dignity in these gambling saloons and assemblies; I either sat
still, inwardly upbraiding myself for my excessive mildness and
politeness, or I suddenly got up and did something rude.  And
meanwhile all sorts of worthless fellows far inferior to me knew
how to behave with wonderful aplomb--and that's what exasperated me
above everything, so that I lost my self-possession more and more.
I may say frankly, even at that time, if the truth is to be told,
the society there, and even winning money at cards, had become
revolting and a torture to me.  Positively a torture.  I did, of
course, derive acute enjoyment from it, but this enjoyment was at
the cost of torture: the whole thing, the people, the gambling,
and, most of all, myself in the midst of them, seemed horribly
nasty.  "As soon as I win I'll chuck it all up!" I said to myself
every time when I woke up in my lodgings in the morning after
gambling over night.  Then, again, how account for my desire to
win, since I certainly was not fond of money?  Not that I am going
to repeat the hackneyed phrases usual in such explanations, that I
played for the sake of the game, for the pleasure of it, for the
risk, the excitement and so on, and not for gain.  I was horribly
in need of money, and though this was not my chosen path, not my
idea, yet somehow or other I had made up my mind to try it by way
of experiment.  I was continually possessed by one overwhelming
thought:  "You maintained that one could reckon with certainty on
becoming a millionaire if only one had sufficient strength of will;
you've tested your strength of will already; so show yourself as
strong in this case: can more strength of will be needed for
roulette than for your idea?" that is what I kept repeating to
myself.  And as I still retain the conviction, that in games of
chance, if one has perfect control of one's will, so that the
subtlety of one's intelligence and one's power of calculation are
preserved, one cannot fail to overcome the brutality of blind
chance and to win, I naturally could not help growing more and more
irritated when at every moment I failed to preserve my strength of
will and was carried away by excitement, like a regular child.
"Though I was able to endure hunger, I am not able to control
myself in an absurd thing like this!" that was what provoked me.
Moreover, the consciousness that however absurd and abject I might
seem, I had within me a rich store of strength which would one day
make them all change their opinion of me, that consciousness has
been from the days of my oppressed childhood the one spring of life
for me, my light, my dignity, my weapon and my consolation, without
which I might have committed suicide as a little child.  And so how
could I help being irritated when I saw what a pitiful creature I
became at the gambling table?  That is why I could not give up
playing!  I see it all clearly now.  This was the chief reason, but
apart from that my petty vanity was wounded.  Losing had lowered me
in the eyes of Prince Sergay, of Versilov, though he did not deign
to speak of it, of every one, even of Tatyana Pavlovna; that is
what I thought, I felt.  Finally, I will make another confession!
By that time I had begun to be corrupted: it had become hard for me
to give up a dinner of seven dishes at the restaurant, to give up
Matvey, and the English shop, to lose the good opinion of my
hairdresser, and all that, in fact.  I was conscious of it even at
the time, but I refused to admit the thought; now I blush to write


Finding myself alone in a crowd of strangers, I established myself
at first at a corner of the table and began staking small sums.  I
remained sitting there without stirring for two hours.  For those
two hours the play was horribly flat--neither one thing nor
another.  I let slip some wonderful chances and tried not to lose
my temper, but to preserve my coolness and confidence.  At the end
of the two hours I had neither lost nor won.  Out of my three
hundred roubles I had lost ten or fifteen roubles.  This trivial
result exasperated me, and what's more an exceedingly unpleasant,
disgusting incident occurred.  I know that such gambling saloons
are frequented by thieves, who are not simply pickpockets out of
the street but well-known gamblers.  I am certain that the well-
known gambler Aferdov is a thief; he is still to be seen about the
town; I met him not long ago driving a pair of his own ponies, but
he is a thief and he stole from me.  But this incident I will
describe later; what happened this evening was simply a prelude.

I spent there two hours sitting at a corner of the table, and
beside me, on the left, there was all the time an abominable little
dandy, a Jew I believe; he is on some paper though, and even writes
something and gets it published.  At the very last moment I
suddenly won twenty roubles.  Two red notes lay before me, and
suddenly I saw this wretched little Jew put out his hand and remove
one of my notes.  I tried to stop him; but with a most impudent air
he immediately informed me, without raising his voice in the least,
that it was what he had won, that he had just put down a stake and
won it; he declined to continue the conversation and turned away.
As ill-luck would have it, I was in a state of extreme stupidity at
that moment: I was brooding over a great idea, and with a curse I
got up quickly and walked away; I did not want to dispute, so made
him a present of the red note.  And indeed it would have been
difficult to go into the matter with an impudent thief, for I had
let slip the right moment, and the game was going on again.  And
that was my great mistake, the effect of which was apparent later
on: three or four players near us saw how the matter ended, and
noticing how easily I had given way, took me for another of the
same sort.

It was just twelve o'clock; I walked into the other room, and after
a little reflection formed a new plan.  Going back I changed my
notes at the bank for half imperials.  I received over forty of
them.  I divided them into ten lots, and resolved to stake four
half imperials ten times running on the zero.  "If I win it's my
luck.  If I lose, so much the better, I'll never play again."  I
may mention that zero had not turned up once during those two
hours, so that at last no one was staking on zero.

I put down my stakes standing, silent, frowning and clenching my
teeth.  At the third round, Zerstchikov called aloud zero, which
had not turned up all day.  A hundred and forty half imperials were
counted out to me in gold.  I had seven chances left and I went on,
though everything seemed whirling round, and dancing before my

"Come here!" I shouted right across the table to a player beside
whom I had been sitting before, a grey-headed man with a moustache,
and a purple face, wearing evening dress, who had been for some
hours staking small sums with ineffable patience and losing stake
after stake: "come this end!  There's luck here!"

"Are you speaking to me?" the moustached gentleman shouted from the
other end of the table, with a note of menacing surprise in his

"Yes, you!  You'll go on losing for ever there!"

"That's not your business, please not to interfere!"

But I could not restrain myself.  An elderly officer was sitting
facing me at the other side of the table.  Looking at my stake he
muttered to his neighbour:

"That's queer, zero.  No, I won't venture on zero."

"Do, colonel!" I shouted laying down another stake.

"Kindly leave me alone, and don't force your advice upon me," he
rapped out sharply.  "You are making too much noise!"

"I am giving you good advice; would you like to bet on zero's
turning up directly: ten gold pieces, I'll bet that, will you take

And I laid down ten half imperials.

"A bet of ten gold pieces!  That I can do," he brought out drily
and severely.  "I'll bet against you that zero won't turn up."

"Ten louis d'or, colonel."

"What do you mean by ten louis d'or?"

"Ten half imperials, colonel, and, in grand language, ten louis

"Well, then, say they are half imperials, and please don't joke
with me."

I did not of course hope to win the bet; there were thirty-six
chances against one that zero would not turn up again; but I
proposed it out of swagger, and because I wanted to attract every
one's attention.  I quite saw that for some reason nobody here
liked me, and that they all would have taken particular pleasure in
letting me know it.  The roulette wheel was sent spinning,--and
what was the general amazement when it stopped at zero again!
There was actually a general shout.  The glory of my success dazed
me completely.  Again a hundred and forty half imperials were
counted out to me.  Zerstchikov asked me if I would not like to
take part of them in notes, but I mumbled something inarticulate in
reply, for I was literally incapable of expressing myself in a calm
and definite way.  My head was going round and my legs felt weak.
I suddenly felt that I would take a fearful risk at once; moreover,
I had a longing to do something more, to make another bet, to carry
off some thousands from some one.  Mechanically I scooped up my
notes and gold in the hollow of my hand, and could not collect
myself to count them.  At that moment I noticed Prince Sergay and
Darzan behind me: they had only just come from their faro saloon,
where as I heard afterwards they had lost their last farthing.

"Ah!  Darzan," I cried "There's luck here!  Stake on zero!"

"I've been losing, I've no money," he answered drily; Prince Sergay
actually appeared not to notice or recognize me.

"Here's money," I cried pointing to my heap of gold.  "As much as
you like."

"Hang it all!" cried Darzan, flushing crimson; "I didn't ask you
for money, I believe."

"You are being called," said Zerstchikov pulling my arm.

The colonel who had lost ten half imperials to me had called to me
several times almost abusingly.

"Kindly take this!" he shouted, purple with rage.  "It's not for me
to stand over you, but if I don't you'll be saying afterwards you
haven't had the money.  Count it."

"I trust you, I trust you, colonel, without counting; only please
don't shout at me like that and don't be angry," and I drew his
heap of gold towards me.

"Sir, I beg you to keep your transports for some one else and not
to force them on me," the colonel rasped out.  "I've never fed pigs
with you!"

"It's queer to admit such people"--"Who is he?"--"Only a lad," I
heard exclamations in undertones.

But I did not listen, I was staking at random, not on zero this
time.  I staked a whole heap of hundred rouble notes on the first
eighteen numbers.

"Let's go, Darzan," I heard Prince Sergay's voice behind me.

"Home?" I asked, turning round to them.  "Wait for me: we'll go
together, I've had enough."

My stake won, I had gained a big sum.  "Enough!" I cried, and
without counting the money I began with trembling hands, gathering
up the gold and dropping it into my pockets, and clumsily crumpling
the notes in my fingers, and trying to stuff them all at once into
my side pocket.  Suddenly Aferdov, who was sitting next to me on
the right and had been playing for high stakes, laid a fat hand
with a ring on the first finger over three of my hundred-rouble

"Excuse me that's not yours," he brought out sternly and incisively,
though he spoke rather softly.

This was the prelude, which was destined a few days afterwards to
have such a serious sequel.  Now I swear on my honour those three
notes were mine, but to my misfortune, at the time, though I was
convinced they were mine I still had the fraction of a doubt, and
for an honest man, that is enough; and I am an honest man.  What
made all the difference was that I did not know at the time that
Aferdov was a thief: I did not even know his name then, so that at
that moment I might very well imagine I had made a mistake, and
that those three notes were really not in the heap that had just
been paid me.  I had not counted my gains at all, I had simply
gathered up the heaps with my hands, and there had been money lying
in front of Aferdov too, and quite close to mine, but in neat heaps
and counted.  Above all Aferdov was known here and looked upon as a
wealthy man; he was treated with respect: all this had an influence
on me and again I did not protest.  A terrible mistake!  The whole
beastly incident was the result of my enthusiasm.

"I am awfully sorry, I don't remember for certain; but I really
think they are mine," I brought out with lips trembling with
indignation.  These words at once aroused a murmur.

"To say things like that, you ought to REMEMBER for certain, but
you've graciously announced yourself that you DON'T remember for
certain," Aferdov observed with insufferable superciliousness.

"Who is he?"--"It can't be allowed!"  I heard several exclamations.

"That's not the first time he has done it; there was the same
little game over a ten-rouble note with Rechberg just now," a mean
little voice said somewhere near.

"That's enough! that's enough!" I exclaimed, "I am not protesting,
take it . . . where's Prince . . . where are Prince Sokolsky and
Darzan?  Have they gone?  Gentlemen, did you see which way Prince
Sokolsky and Darzan went?"  And gathering up all my money at last,
I could not succeed in getting some of the half imperials into my
pocket, and holding them in my hands I rushed to overtake Prince
Sergay and Darzan.  The reader will see, I think, that I don't
spare myself, and am recording at this moment what I was then, and
all my nastiness, so as to explain the possibility of what

Prince Sergay and Darzan were going downstairs, without taking the
slightest notice of my shouts, and calls to them.  I had overtaken
them, but I stopped for a moment before the hall-porter, and,
goodness knows why, thrust three half imperials into his hand; he
gazed at me in amazement and did not even thank me.  But that was
nothing to me, and if Matvey had been there I should probably have
pressed handfuls of gold upon him; and so indeed I believe I meant
to do, but as I ran out on the steps, I suddenly remembered that I
had let him go home when I arrived.  At that moment Prince Sergay's
horse came up, and he got into his sledge.

"I am coming with you, prince, and to your flat!" I cried,
clutching the fur cover and throwing it open, to get into the empty
seat; but all at once Darzan skipped past me into the sledge, and
the coachman snatched the fur cover out of my hands, and tucked it
round them.

"Damn it all!" I cried dumbfoundered; it looked as though I had
unbuttoned the cover for Darzan's benefit, like a flunkey.

"Home!" shouted Prince Sergay.

"Stop!" I roared, clutching at the sledge, but the horse started,
and I was sent rolling in the snow.  I even fancied they were
laughing.  Jumping up I took the first sledge I came across, and
dashed after Prince Sergay, urging on the wretched nag at every


As ill-luck would have it, the wretched beast crawled along with
unnatural slowness, though I promised the driver a whole rouble.
The driver did nothing but lash the beast to earn his rouble.  My
heart was sinking: I began trying to talk to the driver, but I
could not even articulate my words, and I muttered something
incoherent.  This was my condition when I ran up to Prince
Sergay's!  He had only just come back; he had left Darzan on the
way, and was alone.  Pale and ill-humoured, he was pacing up and
down his study.  I repeat again he had lost heavily that evening.
He looked at me with a sort of preoccupied wonder.

"You again!" he brought out frowning.

"To settle up with you for good, sir!" I said breathlessly.  "How
dared you treat me like that!"

He looked at me inquiringly.

"If you meant to drive with Darzan you might have answered that you
were going with him, but you started your horse, and I. . . ."

"Oh yes, you tumbled into the snow," he said and laughed into my

"An insult like that can be only answered with a challenge, so to
begin with we'll settle accounts. . . ."

And with a trembling hand I began pulling out my money and laying
it on the sofa, on the marble table, and even on an open book, in
heaps, in handfuls, and in rolls of notes; several coins rolled on
the carpet.

"Oh, yes, you've won, it seems? . . .  One can tell that from your

He had never spoken to me so insolently before.  I was very pale.

"Here . . . I don't know how much . . . it must be counted.  I owe
you three thousand . . . or how much? . . .  More or less?"

"I am not pressing you to pay, I believe."

"No, it's I want to pay, and you ought to know why.  I know that in
that roll there's a thousand roubles, here!"  And I began with
trembling fingers to count the money, but gave it up.  "It doesn't
matter, I know it's a thousand.  Well, that thousand I will keep
for myself, but all the rest, all these heaps, take for what I owe
you, for part of what I owe you: I think there's as much as two
thousand or may be more!"

"But you are keeping a thousand for yourself then?" said Prince
Sergay with a grin.

"Do you want it?  In that case . . . I was meaning . . . I was
thinking you didn't wish it . . . but if you want it here it
is. . . ."

"No, you need not," he said turning away from me contemptuously,
and beginning to pace up and down again.

"And what the devil's put it into your head to want to pay it
back?" he said, turning to me suddenly, with a horrible challenge
in his face.

"I'm paying it back to be free to insist on your giving me
satisfaction!" I vociferated.

"Go to the devil with your everlasting words and gesticulations!"
he stamped at me suddenly, as though in a frenzy.  "I have been
wanting to get rid of you both for ages; you and your Versilov."

"You've gone out of your mind!" I shouted and indeed it did look
like it.

"You've worried me to death with your high-sounding phrases, and
never anything but phrases, phrases, phrases!  Of honour for
instance!  Tfoo!  I've been wanting to have done with you for a
long time. . . .  I am glad, glad, that the minute has come.  I
considered myself bound, and blushed that I was forced to receive
you . . . both!  But now I don't consider myself bound in any way,
in any way, let me tell you!  Your Versilov induced me to attack
Madame Ahmakov and to cast aspersions on her. . . .  Don't dare
to talk of honour to me after that.  For you are dishonourable
people . . . both of you, both of you; I wonder you weren't ashamed
to take my money!"

There was a darkness before my eyes.

"I borrowed from you as a comrade," I began, speaking with a
dreadful quietness.  "You offered it me yourself, and I believed in
your affection. . . ."

"I am not your comrade!  That's not why I have given you money, you
know why it is."

"I borrowed on account of what you owed Versilov; of course it was
stupid, but I . . ."

"You could not borrow on Versilov's account without his permission
. . . and I could not have given you his money without his
permission.  I gave you my own money, and you knew it; knew it and
took it; and I allowed this hateful farce to go on in my house!"

"What did I know?  What farce!  Why did you give it to me?"

"Pour vos beaux yeux, mon cousin!" he said, laughing straight in my

"Go to hell!" I cried.  "Take it all, here's the other thousand
too!  Now we are quits, and to-morrow. . . ."

And I flung at him the roll of hundred rouble notes I had meant to
keep to live upon.  The notes hit him in the waistcoat and flopped
on the floor.

With three rapid strides he stepped close up to me:

"Do you dare to tell me," he said savagely articulating his words
as it were syllable by syllable; "that all this time you've been
taking my money you did not know your sister was with child by me?"

"What! what!" I screamed, and suddenly my legs gave way under me
and I sank helplessly on the sofa.  He told me himself afterwards
that I literally turned as white as a handkerchief.  I was stunned.
I remember we still stared into each other's faces in silence.  A
look of dismay passed over his face; he suddenly bent down, took me
by the shoulder and began supporting me.  I distinctly remember his
set smile, in which there was incredulity and wonder.  Yes, he had
never dreamed of his words having such an effect, for he was
absolutely convinced of my knowledge.

It ended in my fainting, but only for a moment: I came to myself; I
got on my feet, gazed at him and reflected--and suddenly the whole
truth dawned upon my mind which had been so slow to awaken!  If
some one had told me of it before and asked me what I should have
done at such a moment, I should no doubt have answered that I
should have torn him in pieces.  But what happened was quite
different and quite independent of my will: I suddenly covered my
face with both hands and began sobbing bitterly.  It happened of
itself.  All at once the child came out again in the young man.  It
seemed that fully half of my soul was still a child's.  I fell on
the sofa and sobbed out, "Liza! Liza!  Poor unhappy girl!"  Prince
Sergay was completely convinced all at once.

"Good God, how unjust I've been to you!" he cried in deep distress.
"How abominably I've misjudged you in my suspiciousness. . . .
Forgive me, Arkady Makarovitch!"

I suddenly jumped up, tried to say something to him, stood facing
him, but said nothing, and ran out of the room and out of the flat.
I dragged myself home on foot, and don't know how I got there.  I
threw myself on the bed in the dark, buried my face in the pillow
and thought and thought.  At such moments orderly and consecutive
thought is never possible; my brain and imagination seemed torn to
shreds, and I remember I began dreaming about something utterly
irrelevant, I don't know what.  My grief and trouble came back to
my mind suddenly with an ache of anguish, and I wrung my hands
again and exclaimed:  "Liza, Liza!" and began crying again.  I
don't remember how I fell asleep, but I slept sweetly and soundly.



I waked up at eight o'clock in the morning, instantly locked my
door, sat down by the window and began thinking.  So I sat till ten
o'clock.  The servant knocked at my door twice, but I sent her
away.  At last at eleven o'clock there was a knock again.  I was
just going to shout to the servant again, but it was Liza.  The
servant came in with her, brought me in some coffee, and prepared
to light the stove.  It was impossible to get rid of the servant,
and all the time Fekla was arranging the wood, and blowing up the
fire, I strode up and down my little room, not beginning to talk to
Liza, and even trying not to look at her.  The servant, as though
on purpose, was inexpressibly slow in her movements as servants
always are when they notice they are preventing people from
talking.  Liza sat on the chair by the window and watched me.

"Your coffee will be cold," she said suddenly.

I looked at her: not a trace of embarrassment, perfect tranquillity,
and even a smile on her lips.

"Such are women," I thought, and could not help shrugging my
shoulders.  At last the servant had finished lighting the stove and
was about to tidy the room, but I turned her out angrily, and at
last locked the door.

"Tell me, please, why have you locked the door again?" Liza asked.

I stood before her.

"Liza, I never could have imagined you would deceive me like this!"
I exclaimed suddenly, though I had never thought of beginning like
that, and instead of being moved to tears, an angry feeling which
was quite unexpected stabbed me to the heart.  Liza flushed; she
did not turn away, however, but still looked straight in my face.

"Wait, Liza, wait, oh how stupid I've been!  But was I stupid?  I
had no hint of it till everything came together yesterday, and from
what could I have guessed it before?  From your going to Mme.
Stolbyeev's and to that . . . Darya Onisimovna?  But I looked upon
you as the sun, Liza, and how could I dream of such a thing?  Do
you remember how I met you that day two months ago, at his flat,
and how we walked together in the sunshine and rejoiced. . . .  Had
it happened then?  Had it?"

She answered by nodding her head.

"So you were deceiving me even then!  It was not my stupidity,
Liza, it was my egoism, more than stupidity, the egoism of my heart
and . . . maybe my conviction of your holiness.  Oh!  I have always
been convinced that you were all infinitely above me and--now this!
I had not time yesterday in one day to realize in spite of all the
hints. . . .  And besides I was taken up with something very
different yesterday!"

At that point I suddenly thought of Katerina Nikolaevna, and
something stabbed me to the heart like a pin, and I flushed
crimson.  It was natural that I could not be kind at that moment.

"But what are you justifying yourself for?  You seem to be in a
hurry to defend yourself, Arkady, what for?" Liza asked softly and
gently, though her voice was firm and confident.

"What for?  What am I to do now? if it were nothing but that
question!  And you ask what for?  I don't know how to act!  I don't
know how brothers do act in such cases. . . .  I know they go with
pistols in their hands and force them to marry. . . .  I will
behave as a man of honour ought!  Only I don't know how a man of
honour ought to behave. . . .  Why?  Because we are not gentlefolk,
and he's a prince and has to think of his career; he won't listen
to honest people like us.  We are not even brother and sister, but
nondescript illegitimate children of a house-serf without a
surname; and princes don't marry house-serfs.  Oh, it's nauseating!
And what's more, you sit now and wonder at me."

"I believe that you are very much distressed," said Liza flushing
again, "but you are in too great a hurry, and are distressing

"Too great a hurry?  Why, do you think I've not been slow enough!
Is it for you, Liza, to say that to me?" I cried, completely
carried away by indignation at last.  "And what shame I've endured,
and how that prince must despise me!  It's all clear to me now, and
I can see it all like a picture: he quite imagined that I had
guessed long ago what his relation was to you, but that I held my
tongue or even turned up my nose while I bragged of 'my honour'--
that's what he may well have thought of me!  And that I have been
taking his money for my sister, for my sister's shame!  It was that
he loathed so, and I think he was quite right, too; to have every
day to welcome a scoundrel because he was her brother, and then to
talk of honour . . . it would turn any heart to stone, even his!
And you allowed it all, you did not warn me!  He despised me so
utterly that he talked of me to Stebelkov, and told me yesterday
that he longed to get rid of us both, Versilov and me.  And
Stebelkov too!  'Anna Andreyevna is as much your sister as Lizaveta
Makarovna,' and then he shouted after me, 'My money's better than
his.'  And I, I insolently lolled on HIS sofa, and forced myself on
his acquaintances as though I were an equal, damn them!  And you
allowed all that!  Most likely Darzan knows by now, judging, at
least, by his tone yesterday evening. . . .  Everyone, everyone
knew it except me!"

"No one knows anything, he has not told any one of his acquaintances,
and he COULD NOT," Liza added.  "And about Stebelkov, all I know is
that Stebelkov is worrying him, and that it could only have been a
guess on Stebelkov's part anyway. . . . I have talked to him about
you several times, and he fully believed me that you know nothing,
and I can't understand how this happened yesterday."

"Oh, I paid him all I owed him yesterday, anyway, and that's a load
off my heart!  Liza, does mother know?  Of course she does; why,
yesterday she stood up for you against me.  Oh, Liza!  Is it
possible that in your heart of hearts you think yourself absolutely
right, that you really don't blame yourself in the least?  I don't
know how these things are considered nowadays, and what are your
ideas, I mean as regards me, your mother, your brother, your
father. . . .  Does Versilov know?"

"Mother has told him nothing; he does not ask questions, most
likely he does not want to ask."

"He knows, but does not want to know, that's it, it's like him!
Well, you may laugh at a brother, a stupid brother, when he talks
of pistols, but your mother!  Surely you must have thought, Liza,
that it's a reproach to mother?  I have been tortured by that idea
all night; mother's first thought now will be: 'it's because I did
wrong, and the daughter takes after the mother!'"

"Oh, what a cruel and spiteful thing to say!" cried Liza, while the
tears gushed from her eyes; she got up and walked rapidly towards
the door.

"Stay, stay!"  I caught her in my arms, made her sit down again,
and sat down beside her, still keeping my arm round her.

"I thought it would be like this when I came here, and that you
would insist on my blaming myself.  Very well, I do blame myself.
It was only through pride I was silent just now, and did not say
so, I am much sorrier for you and mother than I am for myself. . . ."

She could not go on, and suddenly began crying bitterly.

"Don't, Liza, you mustn't, I don't want anything.  I can't judge
you.  Liza, what does mother say?  Tell me, has she known long?"

"I believe she has; but I only told her a little while ago, when
THIS happened," she said softly, dropping her eyes.

"What did she say?"

"She said, 'bear it,'" Liza said still more softly.

"Ah, Liza, yes, 'bear it!'  Don't do anything to yourself, God keep

"I am not going to," she answered firmly, and she raised her eyes
and looked at me.  "Don't be afraid," she added, "it's not at all
like that."

"Liza, darling, all I can see is that I know nothing about it, but
I've only found out now how much I love you.  There's only one
thing I can't understand, Liza; it's all clear to me, but there's
one thing I can't understand at all: what made you love him?  How
could you love a man like that?  That's the question."

"And I suppose you've been worrying yourself all night about that
too?" said Liza, with a gentle smile.

"Stay, Liza, that's a stupid question, and you are laughing; laugh
away, but one can't help being surprised, you know; you and HE, you
are such opposite extremes!  I have studied him: he's gloomy,
suspicious; perhaps he is very good-hearted, he may be, but on the
other hand, he is above all extremely inclined to see evil in
everything (though in that he is exactly like me).  He has a
passionate appreciation of what's noble, that I admit, but I fancy
it's only in his ideal.  Oh, he is apt to feel remorse, he has been
all his life continually cursing himself, and repenting, but he
will never reform; that's like me, too, perhaps.  Thousands of
prejudices and false ideas and no real ideas at all.  He is always
striving after something heroic and spoiling it all over trifles.
Forgive me, Liza, I'm a fool though; I say this and wound you and I
know it; I understand it. . . ."

"It would be a true portrait," smiled Liza, "but you are too bitter
against him on my account, and that's why nothing you say is true.
From the very beginning he was distrustful with you, and you could
not see him as he is, but with me, even at Luga. . . .  He has had
no eyes for anyone but me, ever since those days at Luga.  Yes, he
is suspicious and morbid, and but for me he would have gone out of
his mind; and if he gives me up, he will go out of his mind, or
shoot himself.  I believe he has realized that and knows it,"
Liza added dreamily as though to herself.  "Yes, he is weak
continually, but such weak people are capable at times of acting
very strongly. . . .  How strangely you talked about a pistol,
Arkady; nothing of that sort is wanted and I know what will happen.
It's not my going after him, it's his coming after me.  Mother cries
and says that if I marry him I shall be unhappy, that he will cease
to love me.  I don't believe that; unhappy, perhaps, I shall be, but
he won't cease to love me.  That's not why I have refused my consent
all along, it's for another reason.  For the last two months I've
refused, but to-day I told him 'yes, I will marry you.'  Arkasha, do
you know yesterday" (her eyes shone and she threw her arms round my
neck), "he went to Anna Andreyevna's and told her with absolute
frankness that he could not love her . . . ?  Yes, he had a complete
explanation with her, and that idea's at an end!  He had nothing to
do with the project.  It was all Prince Nikolay Ivanovitch's notion,
and it was pressed upon him by those tormentors, Stebelkov and some
one else. . . .  And today for that I've said 'YES.'  Dear Arkady,
he is very anxious to see you, and don't be offended because of what
happened yesterday: he's not quite well this morning, and will be at
home all day.  He's really unwell, Arkady; don't think it's an
excuse.  He has sent me on purpose, and told me to say that he
'needs' you, that he has a great deal he must tell you, and that it
would be awkward to say it here, in your lodging.  Well, good-bye!
Oh, Arkady, I am ashamed to say it, as I was coming here I was
awfully afraid that you would not love me any more.  I kept crossing
myself on the way, and you've been so good and kind!  I shall never
forget it!  I am going to mother.  And you try and like him a
little, won't you?"

I embraced her warmly, and told her:

"I believe, Liza, you're a strong character.  And I believe that
it's not you who are going after him, but he who is going after
you, only . . ."

"Only, what made you love him? 'that's the question!'" Liza put in
with her old mischievous laugh, pronouncing the words exactly as I
had done "that's the question!"  And as she said it she lifted her
forefinger exactly as I do.  We kissed at parting, but when she had
gone my heart began to ache again.


I note merely for myself there were moments after Liza had gone
when a perfect host of the most unexpected ideas rushed into my
mind, and I was actually quite pleased with them.

"Well, why should I bother," I thought; "what is it to me?  It's
the same with every one or nearly so.  What of it if it has
happened to Liza?  Am I bound to save the honour of the family?"

I mention all these details to show how far I was from a sound
understanding of the difference between good and evil.  It was only
feeling saved me: I knew that Liza was unhappy, that mother was
unhappy, and I knew this by my feeling when I thought of them, and
so I felt that what had happened must be wrong.

Now I may mention beforehand that from that day, right up to the
catastrophe of my illness, events followed one another with such
rapidity that recalling them now I feel surprised myself that I was
able to stand up against them, crushing as they were.  They clouded
my mind, and even my feelings, and if in the end I had been
overwhelmed by them, and had committed a crime (I was within an ace
of it), the jury might well have acquitted me.  But I will try to
describe it all in the exact order of events, though I forewarn the
reader that there was little order in my thoughts at that time.
Events came rushing on me like the wind, and my thoughts whirled
before them like the dead leaves in autumn.  Since I was entirely
made up of other people's ideas, where could I find principles of
my own when they were needed to form independent decisions?  I had
no guide at all.

I decided to go to see Prince Sergay that evening, that we might be
perfectly free to talk things over, and he would be at home till
evening.  But when it was getting dark I received again a note
by post, a note from Stebelkov; it consisted of three lines,
containing an urgent and most persuasive request that I would call
on him next morning at eleven o'clock on "most important business,
and you will see for yourself that it is business."  Thinking it
over I resolved to be guided by circumstances, as there was plenty
of time to decide before to-morrow.

It was already eight o'clock; I should have gone out much earlier,
but I kept expecting Versilov; I was longing to express myself to
him, and my heart was burning.  But Versilov was not coming and did
not come.  It was out of the question for me to go to see my mother
and Liza for a time, and besides I had a feeling that Versilov
certainly would not be there all day.  I went on foot, and it
occurred to me on the way to look in at the restaurant on the canal
side where we had been the day before.  Sure enough, Versilov was
sitting there in the same place.

"I thought you would come here," he said, smiling strangely and
looking strangely at me.  His smile was an unpleasant one, such as
I had not seen on his face for a long time.

I sat down at the little table and told him in full detail about
the prince and Liza, and my scene with Prince Sergay the evening
before; I did not forget to mention how I had won at roulette.  He
listened very attentively, and questioned me as to Prince Sergay's
intention to marry Liza.

"Pauvre enfant, she won't gain much by that perhaps.  But very
likely it won't come off . . . though he is capable of it. . . ."

"Tell me, as a friend: you knew it, I suppose, had an inkling of

"My dear boy, what could I do in the matter?  It's all a question
of another person's conscience and of feeling, even though only on
the part of that poor girl.  I tell you again; I meddled enough at
one time with other people's consciences, a most unsuitable
practice!  I don't refuse to help in misfortune so far as I'm able,
and if I understand the position myself.  And you, my dear boy, did
you really suspect nothing all this time?"

"But how could you," I cried, flaring up, "how could you, if you'd
a spark of suspicion that I knew of Liza's position, and saw that I
was taking money at the same time from Prince Sergay, how could you
speak to me, sit with me, hold out your hand to me, when you must
have looked on me as a scoundrel, for I bet anything you suspected
I knew all about it and borrowed money from Prince Sergay

"Again, it's a question of conscience," he said with a smile.  "And
how do you know," he added distinctly, with unaccountable emotion,
"how do you know I wasn't afraid, as you were yesterday, that I
might lose my 'ideal' and find a worthless scamp instead of my
impulsive, straightforward boy?  I dreaded the minute and put it
off.  Why not instead of indolence or duplicity imagine something
more innocent in me, stupid, perhaps, but more honourable, que
diable!  I am only too often stupid, without being honourable.
What good would you have been to me if you had had such propensities?
To persuade and try to reform in that case would be degrading; you
would have lost every sort of value in my eyes even if you were
reformed. . . ."

"And Liza?  Are you sorry for her?"

"I am very sorry for her, my dear.  What makes you think I am so
unfeeling. . . .  On the contrary, I will try my very utmost. . . .
And you.  What of YOUR affair?"

"Never mind my affair; I have no affairs of my own now.  Tell me,
why do you doubt that he'll marry her?  He was at Anna Andreyevena's
yesterday and positively refused . . . that is disowned the foolish
idea . . . that originated with Prince Nikolay Ivanitch . . . of
making a match between them.  He disowned it absolutely."

"Yes?  When was that?  And from whom did you hear it?" he inquired
with interest.  I told him all I knew.

"H'm . . . !" he pronounced as it were dreamily and pondering,
"then it must have happened just about an hour . . . before another
explanation.  H'm . . . ! oh, well, of course, such an interview
may have taken place between them . . . although I know that
nothing was said or done either on his side or on hers . . .
though, of course, a couple of words would be enough for such an
explanation.  But I tell you what, it's strange," he laughed
suddenly; "I shall certainly interest you directly with an
extraordinary piece of news; if your prince did make his offer
yesterday to Anna Andreyevna (and, suspecting about Liza, I should
have done my utmost to oppose his suit, entre nous soit dit), Anna
Andreyevna would in any case have refused him.  I believe you are
very fond of Anna Andreyevna, you respect and esteem her.  That's
very nice on your part, and so you will probably rejoice on her
account; she is engaged to be married, my dear boy, and judging
from her character I believe she really will get married, while I--
well, I give her my blessing, of course."

"Going to be married?  To whom?" I cried, greatly astonished.

"Ah, guess!  I won't torment you; to Prince Nikolay Ivanovitch, to
your dear old man."

I gazed at him with open eyes.

"She must have been cherishing the idea for a long time; and no
doubt worked it out artistically in all its aspects," he went on
languidly, dropping out his words one by one.  "I imagine this was
arranged just an hour after Prince Sergay's visit.  You see how
inappropriate was his dashing in!  She simply went to Prince
Nikolay Ivanovitch and made him a proposal."

"What, 'made him a proposal'?  You mean he made her a proposal?"

"Oh, how could he!  She did, she herself, though to be sure he is
perfectly ecstatic.  They say he is simply sitting now wondering
how it was the idea never occurred to him.  I have heard he has
even taken to his bed . . . from sheer ecstasy, no doubt."

"Listen, you are talking so ironically . . . I can hardly believe
it.  And how could she propose to him?  What did she say?"

"I assure you, my dear boy, that I am genuinely delighted," he
answered, suddenly assuming a wonderfully serious air; "he is old,
of course, but by every law and custom he can get married; as for
her--again it's a matter of another person's conscience, as I've
told you already, my dear boy.  However, she is quite competent to
have her own views and make her own decision.  But the precise
details and the words in which she expressed herself I am not in a
position to give you, my dear boy.  But no doubt she was equal to
doing it, in a way which neither you nor I would have imagined.
The best of it all is that there's nothing scandalous in it, it's
all tres comme il faut in the eyes of the world.  Of course, it's
quite evident that she was eager for a good position in the world,
but you know she deserves it.  All this, my dear boy, is an
entirely worldly matter.  And no doubt she made her proposal in a
magnificent and artistic style.  It's an austere type, my dear boy,
'the girl-nun,' as you once described her; 'the cool young lady'
has been my name for her a long time past.  She has almost been
brought up by him, you know, and has seen more than one instance of
his kindly feeling towards her.  She assured me some time ago that
she had 'such a respect for him and such a high opinion of him,
such feeling for him and such sympathy with him,' and all the rest
of it, so that I was to some extent prepared.  I was informed of
all this this morning in her name and at her request by my son, her
brother Andrey Andreyevitch, whom I believe you don't know, and
whom I see regularly twice a year.  He respectfully approves of the
step she has taken."

"Then it is public already?  Good heavens, I am amazed!"

"No, it's certainly not public yet, not for some time. . . .  I
don't know . . . I am altogether out of it, in fact.  But it's all

"But now Katerina Nikolaevna. . . .  What do you think? it won't
suit Buring's tastes, will it?"

"I don't know . . . actually that he will dislike it; but you may
be sure that on that side Anna Andreyevna is a highly respectable
person.  But what a girl she is!  Yesterday morning, immediately
before this, she inquired of me 'whether I were in love with the
widow Ahmakov?'  Do you remember I told you of it yesterday with
surprise; it would have been impossible for her to marry the father
if I had married the daughter!  Do you understand now?"

"Oh, to be sure," I cried, "but could Anna Andreyevna really have
imagined . . . that you could possibly want to marry Katerina

"Evidently she could, my dear boy, but, however . . . but, however,
I believe it's time for you to go where you were going.  My head
aches all the time, you know.  I'll tell them to play Lucia.  I
love the solemnity of its dreariness, but I've told you that
already . . . I repeat myself unpardonably. . . .  Perhaps I'll go
away from here though.  I love you, my dear boy, but good-bye;
whenever I have a headache or toothache I thirst for solitude."

A line of suffering came into his face; I believe now he really was
suffering with his head, his head particularly. . . .

"Till to-morrow," I said.

"Why 'till to-morrow,' and what is to happen to-morrow?" he said
with a wry smile.

"I shall go to see you, or you come to see me."

"No, I shan't come to you, but you'll come running to me. . . ."

There was something quite malevolent in his face, but I had no
thoughts to spare for him; what an event!


Prince Sergay was really unwell, and was sitting alone with his
head wrapped in a wet towel.  He was very anxious to see me; but he
had not only a headache, he seemed to be aching morally all over.
To anticipate events again; all that latter time, right up to the
catastrophe, it was somehow my fate to meet with people who were
one after another so excited that they were all almost mad, so that
I couldn't help being infected with the same malady myself.  I
came, I must confess, with evil feelings in my heart, and I was
horribly ashamed, too, of having cried before him the previous
night.  And anyway Liza and he had so clearly succeeded in
deceiving me that I could not help seeing myself as a fool.  In
short, my heart was vibrating on false notes as I went in.  But all
this affectation and false feeling vanished quickly.  I must do him
the justice to say that his suspiciousness had quickly disappeared,
that he surrendered himself completely; he betrayed almost childish
affection, confidence and love.  He kissed me with tears and at
once began talking of the position. . . .  Yes, he really did need
me: his words and the sequence of his ideas betrayed great mental

He announced with great firmness his intention to marry Liza and as
soon as possible.  "The fact that she is not of noble birth does
not trouble me in the least, believe me," he said to me; "my
grandfather married a serf-girl who sang in a neighbouring
landowner's private theatre.  My family, of course, have rested
certain expectations upon me, but now they'll have to give way, and
it will not lead to strife.  I want to break with my present life
for good, for good!  To have everything different, everything new!
I don't understand what made your sister love me; but if it had not
been for her I should not have been alive to this day.  I swear
from the depth of my soul that my meeting her at Luga was the
finger of Providence.  I believe she loved me because 'I had fallen
so low' . . . can you understand that though, Arkady Makarovitch?"

"Perfectly!" I declared in a voice of full conviction.  I sat at
the table, and he walked about the room.

"I must tell you the whole story of our meeting, without reserve.
It began with a secret I had guarded in my heart, of which she
alone heard, because only to her could I bring myself to trust it.
And to this day no one else knows it.  I went to Luga then with
despair in my heart, and stayed at Mme. Stolbyeev's, I don't know
why, seeking solitude perhaps.  I had only just resigned my
commission in the regiment, which I had entered on my return from
abroad, after my meeting with Andrey Petrovitch out there.  I had
some money at the time, and in the regiment I led a dissipated
life, and spent freely; well, the officers, my comrades, did not
like me, though I tried not to offend anyone.  And I will confess
it to you, no one has ever liked me.  There was a certain Cornet
Stepanov, I must admit an extremely empty-headed worthless fellow
not distinguished in any way.  There was no doubt he was honest
though.  He was in the habit of coming to see me, and I did not
stand on ceremony with him; he used to sit in a corner, mute but
dignified, for days together, and he did not get in my way at all.
One day I told him a story that was going the round, with many
foolish additions of my own, such as that the colonel's daughter
was in love with me, and that the colonel had his eye upon me for
her and so would do anything to please me. . . .  In short, I will
pass over the details, but it led to a very complicated and
revolting scandal.  It was not Stepanov who spread it but my
orderly, who had overheard and remembered it all, for I had told an
absurd story compromising the young lady.  So, when there was an
inquiry into the scandal, and this orderly was questioned by the
officers, he threw the blame on Stepanov, that is, he said that it
was to Stepanov I'd told the story.  Stepanov was put in such a
position that he could not deny having heard it; it was a question
of honour.  And as two-thirds of the story had been lying on my
part, the officers were indignant, and the commanding officer who
had called us together was forced to clear the matter up.  At this
point the question was put to Stepanov in the presence of all: had
he heard the story or not?  And at once he told the whole truth.
Well, what did I do then, I, a prince whose line goes back a
thousand years?  I denied it, and told Stepanov to his face that he
was lying, in the most polite way, suggesting that he had
'misunderstood my words' and so on. . . .  I'll leave out the
details again, but as Stepanov came to me so often I was able with
some appearance of likelihood to put the matter in such a light
that he might seem to be plotting with my orderly for motives of
his own; and this told in my favour.  Stepanov merely looked at me
in silence and shrugged his shoulders.  I remember the way he
looked at me and shall never forget it.  Then he promptly resigned
his commission; but how do you suppose it ended?  Every officer
without exception called on him and begged him not to resign.  A
fortnight later I, too, left the regiment; no one turned me out, no
one suggested my resigning, I alleged family reasons for my leaving
the army.  That was how the matter ended.  At first I didn't mind,
and even felt angry with them; I stayed at Luga, made the
acquaintance of Lizaveta Makarovna, but a month afterwards I began
to look at my revolver and to think about death.  I looked at
everything gloomily, Arkady Makarovitch.  I composed a letter to
the commanding officer and my former comrades, with a full
confession of my lie, and a vindication of Stepanov's honour.  When
I had written the letter I asked myself the question, should I send
it and live, or should I send it and die?  I should never have
decided that question.  Chance, blind chance brought me near to
Lizaveta Makarovna after a strange and rapid conversation with her.
She had been at Mme. Stolbyeev's before that, we had met and parted
with bows and had rarely spoken.  I suddenly told her everything.
It was then she held out a hand to me."

"How did she settle the question?"

"I didn't send the letter.  She decided that I should not send it.
She argued that if I did send the letter I should, of course, have
been doing an honourable action, sufficient to wash away all the
filth of the past, and far more, but she doubted my having the
strength to endure it.  It was her idea that no one would have the
strength to bear it, for then the future would be utterly ruined,
and no new life would be possible.  It is true Stepanov had
suffered for it; but he had been acquitted by public opinion, as it
was.  It was a paradox, of course; but she restrained me, and I
gave myself into her hands completely."

"Her reasoning was jesuitical but feminine," I cried; "she had
begun to love you already!"

"It was my regeneration into a new life.  I vowed to change, to
begin a new life, to be worthy of myself and of her and--this is
how it has ended!  It has ended in my going with you to roulette,
in my playing faro; I could not resist the fortune, I was delighted
at being in the swim, delighted with all these people, with
racehorses. . . .  I tortured Liza, to my shame!"

He rubbed his forehead with his hand and walked up and down the

"We are both, you and I, stricken by the same Russian curse, Arkady
Makarovitch; you don't know what to do, and I don't know what to
do.  If a Russian deviates ever so little from the rut of routine
laid down for him by tradition, at once he is at a loss what to do.
While he's in the rut everything's clear--income, rank, position in
society, a carriage, visits, a wife--but ever so little off it--and
what am I?  A leaf fluttering before the wind, I don't know what to
do!  For the last two months I have striven to keep in the rut, I
have liked the rut, I've been drawn to the rut.  You don't know the
depth of my downfall here; I love Liza, but at the same time I've
been thinking of Mme. Ahmakov!"

"Is it possible?" I cried in distress.  "By the way, what did you
say yesterday about Versilov's having instigated you to behave in a
mean way to Katerina Nikolaevna?"

"I may have exaggerated it, and perhaps I have been unfair to him
in my suspiciousness as I have been to you.  Let us drop the
subject.  Why, do you suppose that I have not been brooding over a
lofty ideal of life all this time, ever since Luga, perhaps?  I
swear that ideal has never left me, it has been with me continually,
and has lost none of its beauty in my heart.  I remembered the vow I
made to Lizaveta Makarovna to reform.  When Andrey Petrovitch talked
about the aristocracy to me yesterday, he said nothing new, I can
assure you.  My ideal is firmly established: a few score acres (and
only a few score, for I've scarcely anything left of the fortune),
then absolutely complete abandonment of the world and a career; a
rural home, a family, and myself a tiller of the soil or something
of the sort.  Oh, in our family it's nothing new; my uncle, my
grandfather, too, tilled the soil with their own hands.  We have
been princes for a thousand years, as aristocratic and as ancient a
name as the Rohans, but we are beggars.  And this is how I will
train my children:  'Remember always, all your life, that you are a
nobleman, that the sacred blood of Russian princes flows in your
veins, but never be ashamed that your father tilled the soil with
his own hands--he did it like a prince.'  I should not leave them
property, nothing but that strip of land, but I would bring them up
in the loftiest principles: that I should consider a duty.  Oh, I
should be helped by Liza, by work, by children; oh, how we have
dreamed of this together, dreamed of it here in this room.  And
would you believe it? at the same time I was thinking of Mme.
Ahmakov, and of the possibility of a worldly and wealthy marriage,
though I don't care for the woman in the least!  And only after what
Nastchokin said about Buring, I resolved to turn to Anna

"But you went to decline the match?  That was an honourable action
anyway, I suppose!"

"You think so?" he stopped short before me.  "No, you don't know my
nature, or else there is something I don't know myself, because it
seems I have more than one nature.  I love you sincerely, Arkady
Makarovitch, and besides I am terribly to blame for the way I've
treated you for the last two months, and so I want you as Liza's
brother to know all this.  I went to Anna Andreyevna to make her an
offer of marriage, not to disown the idea."

"Is it possible?  But Liza told me . . ."

"I deceived Liza."

"Tell me, please, you made a formal offer and Anna Andreyevna
refused it?  Was that it?  Was that it?  The facts are of great
importance to me, prince."

"No, I did not make an offer at all, but that was only because I
hadn't time; she forestalled me, not in direct words, of course,
though the meaning was clear and unmistakable--she 'delicately'
gave me to understand that the idea was henceforth out of the

"So it was the same as your not making her an offer, and your pride
has not suffered!"

"How can you reason like that!  My own conscience condemns me, and
what of Liza, whom I have deceived . . . and meant to abandon?  And
the vow I made to myself and my forefathers to reform and to atone
for all my ignoble past!  I entreat you not to tell her that.
Perhaps that is the one thing she would not be able to forgive me!
I have been ill since what happened yesterday.  And now it seems
that all is over, and the last of the Sokolskys will be sent to
prison.  Poor Liza!  I have been very anxious to see you all day,
Arkady Makarovitch, to tell you as Liza's brother what she knows
nothing of as yet.  I am a criminal.  I have taken part in forging
railway shares!"

"Something more!  What, you are going to prison?" I cried jumping
up and looking at him in horror.  His face wore a look of the
deepest gloom and utterly hopeless sorrow.

"Sit down," he said, and he sat down in the armchair opposite.  "To
begin with, you had better know the facts; it was more than a year
ago, that same summer that I was at Ems with Lidya, and Katerina
Nikolaevna, and afterwards at Paris, just at the time when I was
going to Paris for two months.  In Paris, of course, I was short of
money, and it was just then Stebelkov turned up, though I knew him
before.  He gave me some money and promised to give me more, but
asked me in return to help him; he wanted an artist, a draughtsman,
engraver, lithographer, and so on, a chemist, an expert, and--for
certain purposes.  What those purposes were he hinted pretty
plainly from the first.  And would you believe it? he understood my
character--it only made me laugh.  The point is that from my
schooldays I had an acquaintance, at present a Russian exile,
though he was not really a Russian, but a native of Hamburg.  He
had been mixed up in some cases of forging papers in Russia
already.  It was on this man that Stebelkov was reckoning, but he
wanted an introduction to him and he applied to me.  I wrote a
couple of lines for him, and immediately forgot all about it.
Afterwards he met me again and again, and I received altogether as
much as three thousand from him.  I had literally forgotten all
about the business.  Here I've been borrowing from him all the time
with I O Us and securities, and he has been cringing before me like
a slave, and suddenly yesterday I learned from him for the first
time that I am a criminal."

"When, yesterday?"

"Yesterday morning, when we were shouting in my study just before
Nastchokin arrived.  For the first time he had the effrontery to
speak to me quite openly of Anna Andreyevna.  I raised my hand to
strike him, but he suddenly stood up and informed me that his
interests were mine, and that I must remember that I was his
accomplice and as much a swindler as he--though he did not use
those words, that was the sense."

"What nonsense, why surely it's all imagination?"

"No, it's not imagination.  He has been here to-day and explained
things more exactly.  These forged documents have been in
circulation a long time, and are still being passed about, but it
seems they've already begun to be noticed.  Of course, I've nothing
to do with it, but 'you see though, you were pleased to give me
that little letter,' that's what Stebelkov told me."

"So you didn't know, of course, what for, or did you know?"

"I did know," Prince Sergay answered in a low voice, dropping his
eyes; "that's to say I knew and didn't know, you see.  I was
laughing, I was amused.  I did it without thinking, for I had no
need of forged documents at that time, and it wasn't I who meant to
make them.  But that three thousand he gave me then he did not put
down in his account against me and I let it pass.  But how do you
know, perhaps I really am a forger.  I could not help knowing, I am
not a child; I did know, but I felt in a merry humour and I helped
scoundrels, felons . . . helped them for money!  So I, too, am a

"Oh, you are exaggerating; you've done wrong, but you're

"There's some one else in it, a young man called Zhibyelsky, some
sort of attorney's clerk.  He, too, had something to do with these
forgeries, he came afterwards from that gentleman at Hamburg to see
me about some nonsense; of course, I didn't know what it was about
myself--it was not about those forgeries I know that . . . but he
has kept in his possession two documents in my handwriting, only
brief notes--and, of course, they are evidence too; I understood
that to-day.  Stebelkov makes out that this Zhibyelsky is spoiling
everything; he has stolen something, public money I believe, but
means to steal something more and then to emigrate; so he wants
eight thousand, not a penny less, to help him on his way.  My share
of the fortune I had inherited would satisfy Stebelkov, but he said
Zhibyelsky must be satisfied too. . . .  In short I must give up my
share of the fortune and ten thousand besides, that's their final
offer.  And then they will give me back my two letters.  They're in
collusion, that's clear."

"It's obviously absurd!  If they inform against you they will
betray themselves!  Nothing will induce them to give information."

"I understand that.  They don't threaten to give information at
all, they only say, 'We shall not inform, of course, but if it
should be discovered, then . . .' that's what they say, and that's
all, but I think it's enough!  But that's not the point; whatever
happens, and even if I had those letters in my pocket now, yet to
be associated with those swindlers, to be their accomplice for ever
and ever!  To lie to Russia, to lie to my children, to lie to Liza,
to lie to my conscience! . . ."

"Does Liza know?"

"No, she does not know everything.  It would be too much for her in
her condition.  I wear the uniform of my regiment, and every time I
meet a soldier of the regiment, at every second, I am inwardly
conscious that I must not dare to wear the uniform."

"Listen," I cried suddenly; "there's no need to waste time talking
about it; there's only one way of salvation for you; go to Prince
Nikolay Ivanitch, borrow ten thousand from him, ask him for it,
without telling him what for, then send for those two swindlers,
settle up with them finally, buy back your letters . . . and the
thing is over!  The whole thing will be ended, and you can go and
till the land!  Away with vain imaginings and have faith in life!"

"I have thought of that," he said resolutely.  "I have been making
up my mind all day and at last I have decided.  I have only been
waiting for you; I will go.  Do you know I have never in my life
borrowed a farthing from Prince Nikolay Ivanitch.  He is well
disposed to our family and even . . . and has come to their
assistance, but I, I personally, have never borrowed money from him.
But now I am determined to.  Our family, you may note, is an older
branch of the Sokolskys than Prince Nikolay Ivanitch's; they are a
younger branch, collaterals, in fact, hardly recognized. . . .
There was a feud between our ancestors.  At the beginning of the
reforms of Peter the Great, my great-grandfather, whose name was
Peter too, remained an Old Believer, and was a wanderer in the
forest of Kostroma.  That Prince Peter married a second wife who was
not of noble birth. . . .  So it was then these other Sokolskys
dropped out, but I. . . .  What was I talking about? . . ."

He was very much exhausted, and seemed talking almost unconsciously.

"Calm yourself," I said, standing up and taking my hat; "go to bed,
that's the first thing.  Prince Nikolay Ivanitch is sure not to
refuse, especially now in the overflow of his joy.  Have you heard
the latest news from that quarter?  Haven't you, really?  I have
heard a wild story that he is going to get married; it's a secret,
but not from you, of coarse."

And I told him all about it, standing, hat in hand.  He knew
nothing about it.  He quickly asked questions, inquiring principally
when and where the match had been arranged and how far the rumour
was trustworthy.  I did not, of course, conceal from him that it had
been settled immediately after his visit to Anna Andreyevna.  I
cannot describe what a painful impression this news made upon him;
his face worked and was almost contorted, and his lips twitched
convulsively in a wry smile.  At the end he turned horribly pale and
sank into a reverie, with his eyes on the floor.  I suddenly saw
quite clearly that his vanity had been deeply wounded by Anna
Andreyevna's refusal of him the day before.  Perhaps in his morbid
state of mind he realized only too vividly at that minute the absurd
and humiliating part he had played the day before in the eyes of the
young lady of whose acceptance, as it now appeared, he had all the
time been so calmly confident.  And worst of all, perhaps, was the
thought that he had behaved so shabbily to Liza, and to no purpose!
It would be interesting to know for what these foppish young snobs
think well of one another, and on what grounds they can respect one
another; this prince might well have supposed that Anna Andreyevna
knew of his connection with Liza--in reality her sister--or if she
did not actually know, that she would be certain to hear of it
sooner or later; and yet he had "had no doubt of her acceptance!"

"And could you possibly imagine," he said suddenly, with a proud
and supercilious glance at me, "that now, after learning such a
fact, I, I could be capable of going to Prince Nikolay Ivanitch and
asking him for money?  Ask him, the accepted fiance of the lady who
has just refused me--like a beggar, like a flunkey!  No, now all is
lost, and if that old man's help is my only hope, then let my last
hope perish!"

In my heart I shared his feeling, but it was necessary to take a
broader view of the real position: was the poor old prince really
to be looked upon as a successful rival?  I had several ideas
fermenting in my brain.  I had, apart from Prince Sergay's affairs,
made up my mind to visit the old man next day.  For the moment I
tried to soften the impression made by the news and to get the poor
prince to bed!  "When you have slept, things will look brighter,
you'll see!"  He pressed my hand warmly, but this time he did not
kiss me.  I promised to come and see him the following evening, and
"we'll talk, we'll talk; there's so much to talk of."  He greeted
these last words of mine with a fateful smile.



All that night I dreamed of roulette, of play, of gold, and
reckonings.  I seemed in my dreams to be calculating something at
the gambling table, some stake, some chance, and it oppressed me
all night like a nightmare.  To tell the truth, the whole of the
previous day, in spite of all the startling impressions I had
received, I had been continually thinking of the money I had won at
Zerstchikov's.  I suppressed the thought, but I could not suppress
the emotion it aroused, and I quivered all over at the mere
recollection of it.  That success had put me in a fever; could it
be that I was a gambler, or at least--to be more accurate--that I
had the qualities of a gambler?  Even now, at the time of writing
this, I still at moments like thinking about play!  It sometimes
happens that I sit for hours together absorbed in silent
calculations about gambling and in dreams of putting down my stake,
of the number turning up, and of picking up my winnings.  Yes, I
have all sorts of "qualities," and my nature is not a tranquil one.

At ten o'clock I intended to go to Stebelkov's and I meant to walk.
I sent Matvey home as soon as he appeared.  While I was drinking my
coffee I tried to think over the position.  For some reason I felt
pleased; a moment's self-analysis made me realize that I was
chiefly pleased because I was going that day to the old prince's.
But that day was a momentous and startling one in my life, and it
began at once with a surprise.

At ten o'clock my door was flung wide open, and Tatyana Pavlovna
flew in.  There was nothing I expected less than a visit from her,
and I jumped up in alarm on seeing her.  Her face was ferocious,
her manner was incoherent, and I daresay if she had been asked she
could not have said why she had hastened to me.  I may as well say
at once, that she had just received a piece of news that had
completely overwhelmed her, and she had not recovered from the
first shock of it.  The news overwhelmed me, too.  She stayed,
however, only half a minute, or perhaps a minute, but not more.
She simply pounced upon me.

"So this is what you've been up to!" she said, standing facing me
and bending forward.  "Ah, you young puppy!  What have you done!
What, you don't even know!  Goes on drinking his coffee!  Oh, you
babbler, you chatterbox, oh, you imitation lover . . . boys like
you are whipped, whipped, whipped!"

"Tatyana Pavlovna, what has happened?  What is the matter?  Is
mother? . . ."

"You will know!" she shouted menacingly, ran out of the room--and
was gone.  I should certainly have run after her, but I was
restrained by one thought, and that was not a thought but a vague
misgiving: I had an inkling that of all her vituperation,
"imitation lover" was the most significant phrase.  Of course I
could not guess what it meant, but I hastened out, that I might
finish with Stebelkov and go as soon as possible to Nikolay

"The key to it all is there!" I thought instinctively.

I can't imagine how he learned it, but Stebelkov already knew all
about Anna Andreyevna down to every detail; I will not describe his
conversation and his gestures, but he was in a state of enthusiasm,
a perfect ecstasy of enthusiasm over this "masterstroke."

"She is a person!  Yes, she is a person!" he exclaimed.  "Yes,
that's not our way; here we sit still and do nothing, but as soon
as she wants something of the best she takes it.  She's an antique
statue!  She is an antique statue of Minerva, only she is walking
about and wearing modern dress!"

I asked him to come to business; this business was, as I had
guessed, solely to ask me to persuade and induce Prince Sergay to
appeal to Prince Nikolay Ivanitch for a loan.  "Or it will be a
very very bad look-out for him, though it's none of my doing;
that's so, isn't it?"

He kept peeping into my face, but I fancy did not detect that I
knew anything more than the day before.  And indeed he could not
have imagined it: I need hardly say that I did not by word or hint
betray that I knew anything about the forged documents.

Our explanations did not take long, he began at once promising me
money, "and a considerable sum, a considerable sum, if only you
will manage that the prince should go.  The matter is urgent, very
urgent, and that's the chief point that the matter's so pressing!"

I did not want to argue and wrangle with him, as I had done the day
before, and I got up to go, though to be on the safe side I flung
him in reply that "I would try"; but he suddenly amazed me beyond
all expression: I was on my way to the door when all at once he put
his arm round my waist affectionately and began talking to me in
the most incomprehensible way.

I will omit the details of the conversation that I may not be
wearisome.  The upshot of it was that he made me a proposition that
I should introduce him to M. Dergatchev, "since you go there!"

I instantly became quiet, doing my utmost not to betray myself by
the slightest gesture.  I answered at once, however, that I was
quite a stranger there, and though I had been in the house, it was
only on one occasion, by chance.

"But if you've been ADMITTED once, you might go a second time;
isn't that so?"

I asked him point-blank, and with great coolness, why he wanted it?
And to this day I can't understand such a degree of simplicity in a
man who was apparently no fool, and who was a "business man," as
Vassin had said of him!  He explained to me quite openly that he
suspected "that something prohibited and sternly prohibited was
going on at Dergatchev's, and so if I watch him I may very likely
make something by it."  And with a grin he winked at me with his
left eye.

I made no definite answer, but pretended to be considering it and
promised to "think about it," and with that I went hastily away.
The position was growing more complicated: I flew to Vassin, and at
once found him at home.

"What, you . . . too!" he said enigmatically on seeing me.  Without
inquiring the significance of this phrase, I went straight to the
point and told him what had happened.  He was evidently impressed,
though he remained absolutely cool.  He cross-examined me minutely.

"It may very well be that you misunderstood him."

"No, I quite understood him, his meaning was quite clear."

"In any case I am extremely grateful to you," he added with
sincerity.  "Yes, indeed, if that is so, he imagined that you could
not resist a certain sum of money."

"And, besides, he knows my position: I've been playing all this
time, and behaving badly, Vassin."

"I have heard about that."

"What puzzles me most of all is that he knows you go there
constantly, too," I ventured to observe.

"He knows perfectly well," Vassin answered quite simply, "that I
don't go there with any object.  And indeed all those young people
are simply chatterers, nothing more; you have reason to remember
that as well as anyone."

I fancied that he did not quite trust me.

"In any case I am very much obliged to you."

"I have heard that M. Stebelkov's affairs are in rather a bad way,"
I tried to question him once more.  "I've heard, anyway, of certain
shares . . ."

"What shares have you heard about?"

I mentioned "the shares" on purpose, but of course not with the
idea of telling him the secret Prince Sergay had told me the day
before.  I only wanted to drop a hint and see from his face, from
his eyes, whether he knew anything about "shares."  I attained my
object: from a momentary indefinable change in his face, I guessed
that he did perhaps know something in this matter, too.  I did not
answer his question "what shares," I was silent; and it was worth
noting that he did not pursue the subject either.

"How's Lizaveta Makarovna?" he inquired with sympathetic interest.

"She's quite well.  My sister has always thought very highly of
you. . . ."

There was a gleam of pleasure in his eyes; I had guessed long
before that he was not indifferent to Liza.

"Prince Sergay Petrovitch was here the other day," he informed me

"When?" I cried.

"Just four days ago."

"Not yesterday?"

"No, not yesterday."  He looked at me inquiringly.  "Later perhaps
I may describe our meeting more fully, but for the moment I feel I
must warn you," Vassin said mysteriously, "that he struck me as
being in an abnormal condition of mind, and . . . of brain indeed.
I had another visit, however," he added suddenly with a smile,
"just before you came, and I was driven to the same conclusion
about that visitor, too."

"Has Prince Sergay just been here?"

"No, not Prince Sergay, I am not speaking of the prince just now.
Andrey Petrovitch Versilov has just been here, and . . . you've
heard nothing?  Hasn't something happened to him?"

"Perhaps something has; but what passed between you exactly?" I
asked hurriedly.

"Of course, I ought to keep it secret . . . we are talking rather
queerly, with too much reserve," he smiled again.  "Andrey
Petrovitch, however, did not tell me to keep it secret.  But you
are his son, and as I know your feelings for him, I believe I may
be doing right to warn you.  Only fancy, he came to me to ask the
question:  'In case it should be necessary for him very shortly, in
a day or two, to fight a duel, would I consent to be his second?'
I refused absolutely, of course."

I was immensely astonished; this piece of news was the most
disturbing of all: something was wrong, something had turned up,
something had happened of which I knew nothing as yet!  I suddenly
recalled in a flash how Versilov had said to me the day before:  "I
shan't come to you, but you'll come running to me."

I rushed off to Prince Nikolay Ivanitch, feeling more than ever
that the key to the mystery lay there.  As he said good-bye, Vassin
thanked me again.


The old prince was sitting before an open fire with a rug wrapped
round his legs.  He met me with an almost questioning air, as
though he were surprised that I had come; yet almost every day he
had sent messages inviting me.  He greeted me affectionately,
however.  But his answers to my first questions sounded somewhat
reluctant, and were fearfully vague.  At times he seemed to
deliberate, and looked intently at me, as though forgetting and
trying to recall something which certainly ought to be connected
with me.  I told him frankly that I had heard everything and was
very glad.  A cordial and good-natured smile came into his face at
once and his spirits rose; his mistrust and caution vanished at
once as though he had forgotten them.  And indeed he had, of

"My dear young friend, I knew you would be the first to come, and,
and do you know, I thought about you yesterday:  'Who will be
pleased? he will!'  Well, no one else will indeed; but that
doesn't matter.  People are spiteful gossips, but that's no great
matter. . . .  Cher enfant, this is so exalted and so charming. . . .
But, of course, you know her well.  And Anna Andreyevna has the
highest opinion of you.  It's a grave and charming face out of an
English keepsake.  It's the most charming English engraving
possible. . . .  Two years ago I had a regular collection of such
engravings. . . .  I always had the intention, always; I only wonder
why it was I never thought of it."

"You always, if I remember rightly, distinguished Anna Andreyevna
and were fond of her."

"My dear boy, we don't want to hurt anyone.  Life with one's
friends, with one's relations, with those dear to one's heart is
paradise.  All the poets. . . .  In short, it has been well known
from prehistoric times.  In the summer you know we are going to
Soden, and then to Bad-Gastein.  But what a long time it is since
you've been to see me, my dear boy; what's been the matter with
you?  I've been expecting you.  And how much, how much has happened
meanwhile, hasn't it?  I am only sorry that I am uneasy; as soon as
I am alone I feel uneasy.  That is why I must not be left alone,
must I?  That's as plain as twice two make four.  I understood that
at once from her first word.  Oh, my dear boy, she only spoke two
words, but . . . it was something like a glorious poem.  But, of
course, you are her brother, almost her brother, aren't you?  My
dear boy, it's not for nothing I'm so fond of you!  I swear I had a
presentiment of all this.  I kissed her hand and wept."

He took out his handkerchief as though preparing to weep again.  He
was violently agitated, suffering, I fancy, from one of his
"nervous attacks," and one of the worst I remember in the whole
course of our acquaintance.  As a rule, almost always in fact, he
was ever so much better and more good-humoured.

"I would forgive everything, my dear boy," he babbled on.  "I long
to forgive every one, and it's a long time since I was angry with
anyone.  Art, la poesie dans la vie, philanthropy, and she, a
biblical beauty, quelle charmante person, eh?  Les chants de
Salomon . . . non, c'est n'est pas Salomon, c'est David qui mettait
une jeune belle dans son lit pour se chauffer dans sa vieillesse.
Enfin David, Salomon, all that keeps going round in my head--a
regular jumble.  Everything, cher enfant may be at the same time
grand and ridiculous.  Cette jeune belle de la vieillesse de David--
c'est tout un poeme, and Paul de Kock would have made of it a
scene de bassinoire, and we should all have laughed.  Paul de Kook
has neither taste nor sense of proportion, though he is a writer of
talent . . . Katerina Nikolaevna smiles . . . I said that we would
not trouble anyone.  We have begun our romance and only ask them to
let us finish it.  Maybe it is a dream, but don't let them rob me
of this dream."

"How do you mean it's a dream, prince?"

"A dream?  How a dream?  Well, let it be a dream, but let me die
with that dream."

"Oh, why talk of dying, prince?  You have to live now, only to

"Why, what did I say?  That's just what I keep saying.  I simply
can't understand why life is so short.  To avoid being tedious, no
doubt, for life, too, is the Creator's work of art, in a perfect
and irreproachable form like a poem of Pushkin's.  Brevity is the
first essential of true art.  But if anyone is not bored, he ought
to be allowed to live longer."

"Tell me, prince, is it public property yet?"

"No, my dear boy, certainly not!  We have all agreed upon that.
It's private, private, private.  So far I've only disclosed it
fully to Katerina Nikolaevna, because I felt I was being unfair to
her.  Oh, Katerina Nikolaevna is an angel, she is an angel!"

"Yes, yes!"

"Yes, and you say 'yes'?  Why, I thought that you were her enemy,
too.  Ach, by the way, she asked me not to receive you any more.
And only fancy, when you came in I quite forgot it."

"What are you saying?" I cried, jumping up.  "Why?  Where?"

(My presentiment had not deceived me; I had had a presentiment of
something of this sort ever since Tatyana's visit.)

"Yesterday, my dear boy, yesterday.  I don't understand, in fact,
how you got in, for orders were given.  How did you come in?"

"I simply walked in."

"The surest way.  If you had tried to creep in by stealth, no doubt
they would have caught you, but as you simply walked in they let
you pass.  Simplicity, cher enfant, is in reality the deepest

"I don't understand: did you, too, decide not to receive me, then!"

"No, my dear boy, I said I had nothing to do with it. . . .  That
is I gave my full consent.  And believe me, my dear boy, I am much
too fond of you.  But Katerina Nikolaevna insisted so very
strongly. . . .  So, there it is!"

At that instant Katerina Nikolaevna appeared in the doorway.  She
was dressed to go out, and as usual came in to kiss her father.
Seeing me she stopped short in confusion, turned quickly, and went

"Voila!" cried the old prince, impressed and much disturbed.

"It's a misunderstanding!" I cried.  "One moment . . . I . . .
I'll come back to you directly, prince!"

And I ran after Katerina Nikolaevna.

All that followed upon this happened so quickly that I had no time
to reflect, or even to consider in the least how to behave.  If I
had had time to consider, I should certainly have behaved
differently!  But I lost my head like a small boy.  I was rushing
towards her room, but on the way a footman informed me that
Katerina Nikolaevna had already gone downstairs and was getting
into her carriage.  I rushed headlong down the front staircase.
Katerina Nikolaevna was descending the stairs, in her fur coat, and
beside her--or rather arm-in-arm with her--walked a tall and
severe-looking officer, wearing a uniform and a sword, and followed
by a footman carrying his great-coat.  This was the baron, who was
a colonel of five-and-thirty, a typical smart officer, thin, with
rather too long a face, ginger moustache and even eyelashes of the
same colour.  Though his face was quite ugly, it had a resolute and
defiant expression.  I describe him briefly, as I saw him at that
moment.  I had never seen him before.  I ran down the stairs after
them without a hat or coat.  Katerina Nikolaevna was the first to
notice me, and she hurriedly whispered something to her companion.
He slightly turned his head and then made a sign to the footman and
the hall-porter.  The footman took a step towards me at the front
door, but I pushed him away and rushed after them out on the steps.
Buring was assisting Katerina Nikolaevna into the carriage.

"Katerina Nikolaevna!  Katerina Nikolaevna!" I cried senselessly
like a fool! like a fool!  Oh, I remember it all; I had no hat on!

Buring turned savagely to the footman again and shouted something
to him loudly, one or two words, I did not take them in.  I felt
some one clutch me by the elbow.  At that moment the carriage began
to move; I shouted again and was rushing after the carriage.  I saw
that Katerina Nikolaevna was peeping out of the carriage window,
and she seemed much perturbed.  But in my hasty movement I jostled
against Buring unconsciously, and trod on his foot, hurting him a
good deal, I fancy.  He uttered a faint cry, clenched his teeth,
with a powerful hand grasped me by the shoulder, and angrily pushed
me away, so that I was sent flying a couple of yards.  At that
instant his great-coat was handed him, he put it on, got into his
sledge, and once more shouted angrily to the footman and the
porter, pointing to me as he did so.  Thereupon they seized me and
held me; one footman flung my great-coat on me, while a second
handed me my hat and--I don't remember what they said; they said
something, and I stood and listened, understanding nothing of it.
All at once I left them and ran away.


Seeing nothing and jostling against people as I went, I ran till I
reached Tatyana Pavlovna's flat: it did not even occur to me to
take a cab.  Buring had pushed me away before her eyes!  I had, to
be sure, stepped on his foot, and he had thrust me away instinctively
as a man who had trodden on his corn--and perhaps I really had
trodden on his corn!  But she had seen it, and had seen me seized by
the footman; it had all happened before her, before her!  When I had
reached Tatyana Pavlovna's, for the first minute I could say nothing
and my lower jaw was trembling, as though I were in a fever.  And
indeed I was in a fever and what's more I was crying. . . .  Oh, I
had been so insulted!

"What!  Have they kicked you out?  Serve you right! serve you
right!" said Tatyana Pavlovna.  I sank on the sofa without a word
and looked at her.

"What's the matter with him?" she said, looking at me intently.
"Come, drink some water, drink a glass of water, drink it up!  Tell
me what you've been up to there now?"

I muttered that I had been turned out, and that Buring had given me
a push in the open street.

"Can you understand anything, or are you still incapable?  Come
here, read and admire it."  And taking a letter from the table she
gave it to me, and stood before me expectantly.  I at once
recognized Versilov's writing, it consisted of a few lines: it was
a letter to Katerina Nikolaevna.  I shuddered and instantly
comprehension came back to me in a rush.  The contents of this
horrible, atrocious, grotesque and blackguardly letter were as
follows, word for word:


Depraved as you are in your nature and your arts, I should have yet
expected you to restrain your passions and not to try your wiles on
children.  But you are not even ashamed to do that.  I beg to
inform you that the letter you know of was certainly not burnt in a
candle and never was in Kraft's possession, so you won't score
anything there.  So don't seduce a boy for nothing.  Spare him, he
is hardly grown up, almost a child, undeveloped mentally and
physically--what use can you have for him?  I am interested in his
welfare, and so I have ventured to write to you, though with little
hope of attaining my object.  I have the honour to inform you that
I have sent a copy of this letter to Baron Buring.


I turned white as I read, then suddenly I flushed crimson and my
lips quivered with indignation.

"He writes that about me!  About what I told him the day before
yesterday!" I cried in a fury.

"So you did tell him!" cried Tatyana Pavlovna, snatching the letter
from me.

"But . . . I didn't say that, I did not say that at all!  Good God,
what can she think of me now!  But it's madness, you know.  He's
mad . . . I saw him yesterday.  When was the letter sent?"

"It was sent yesterday, early in the day; it reached her in the
evening, and this morning she gave it me herself."

"But I saw him yesterday myself, he's mad!  Versilov was incapable
of writing that, it was written by a madman.  Who could write like
that to a woman?"

"That's just what such madmen do write in a fury when they are
blind and deaf from jealousy and spite, and their blood is turned
to venom. . . .  You did not know what he is like!  Now they will
pound him to a jelly.  He has thrust his head under the axe
himself!  He'd better have gone at night to the Nikolaevsky railway
and have laid his head on the rail.  They'd have cut it off for
him, if he's weary of the weight of it!  What possessed you to tell
him!  What induced you to tease him!  Did you want to boast?"

"But what hatred!  What hatred!" I cried, clapping my hand on my
head.  "And what for, what for?  Of a woman!  What has she done to
him?  What can there have been between them that he can write a
letter like that?"

"Ha--atred!" Tatyana Pavlovna mimicked me with furious sarcasm.

The blood rushed to my face again; all at once I seemed to grasp
something new; I gazed at her with searching inquiry.

"Get along with you!" she shrieked, turning away from me quickly
and waving me off.  "I've had bother enough with you all!  I've
had enough of it now!  You may all sink into the earth for all
I care! . . .  Your mother is the only one I'm sorry for . . ."

I ran, of course, to Versilov.  But what treachery!  What treachery!


Versilov was not alone.  To explain the position beforehand: after
sending that letter to Katerina Nikolaevna the day before and
actually dispatching a copy of it to Baron Buring (God only knows
why), naturally he was bound to expect certain "consequences" of
his action in the course of to-day, and so had taken measures of a
sort.  He had in the morning moved my mother upstairs to my
"coffin," together with Liza, who, as I learned afterwards, had
been taken ill when she got home, and had gone to bed.  The other
rooms, especially the drawing-room, had been scrubbed and tidied up
with extra care.  And at two o'clock in the afternoon a certain
Baron R. did in fact make his appearance.  He was a colonel, a tall
thin gentleman about forty, a little bald, of German origin, with
ginger-coloured hair like Buring's, and a look of great physical
strength.  He was one of those Baron R.s of whom there are so many
in the Russian army, all men of the highest baronial dignity,
entirely without means, living on their pay, and all zealous and
conscientious officers.

I did not come in time for the beginning of their interview; both
were very much excited, and they might well be.  Versilov was
sitting on the sofa facing the table, and the baron was in an
armchair on one side.  Versilov was pale, but he spoke with
restraint, dropping out his words one by one; the baron raised his
voice and was evidently given to violent gesticulation.  He
restrained himself with an effort, but he looked stern, supercilious,
and even contemptuous, though somewhat astonished.  Seeing me he
frowned, but Versilov seemed almost relieved at my coming.

"Good-morning, dear boy.  Baron, this is the very young man
mentioned in the letter, and I assure you he will not be in your
way, and may indeed be of use."  (The baron looked at me
contemptuously.)  "My dear boy," Versilov went on, "I am glad that
you've come, indeed, so sit down in the corner please, till the
baron and I have finished.  Don't be uneasy, baron, he will simply
sit in the corner."

I did not care, for I had made up my mind, and besides all this
impressed me: I sat down in the corner without speaking, as far
back as I could, and went on sitting there without stirring or
blinking an eyelid till the interview was over. . . .

"I tell you again, baron," said Versilov, rapping out his words
resolutely, "that I consider Katerina Nikolaevna Ahmakov, to whom I
wrote that unworthy and insane letter, not only the soul of honour,
but the acme of all perfection!"

"Such a disavowal of your own words, as I have observed to you
already, is equivalent to a repetition of the offence," growled the
baron; "your words are actually lacking in respect."

"And yet it would be nearest the truth if you take them in their
exact sense.  I suffer, do you see, from nervous attacks, and . . .
nervous ailments, and am in fact being treated for them and
therefore it has happened in one such moment . . ."

"These explanations cannot be admitted.  I tell you for the third
time that you are persistently mistaken, perhaps purposely wish to
be mistaken.  I have warned you from the very beginning that the
whole question concerning that lady, that is concerning your letter
to Mme. Ahmakov, must be entirely excluded from our explanation;
you keep going back to it.  Baron Buring begged and particularly
charged me to make it plain that this matter concerns him only;
that is, your insolence in sending him that 'copy' and the
postcript to it in which you write that 'you are ready to answer
for it when and how he pleases.'"

"But that, I imagine, is quite clear without explanation."

"I understand, I hear.  You do not even offer an apology, but
persist in asserting that 'you are ready to answer for it when and
how he pleases.'  But that would be getting off too cheaply.  And
therefore I now, in view of the turn which you obstinately will
give to your explanation, feel myself justified on my side in
telling you the truth without ceremony, that is, I have come to the
conclusion that it is ut-ter-ly impossible for Baron Buring to meet
you . . . on an equal footing."

"Such a decision is no doubt advantageous for your friend, Baron
Buring, and I must confess you have not surprised me in the least:
I was expecting it."

I note in parenthesis: it was quite evident to me from the first
word and the first glance that Versilov was trying to lead up to
this outburst, that he was intentionally teasing and provoking this
irascible baron, and was trying to put him out of patience.  The
baron bristled all over.

"I have heard that you are able to be witty, but being witty is
very different from being clever."

"An extremely profound observation, colonel."

"I did not ask for your approbation," cried the baron.  "I did not
come to bandy words with you.  Be so good as to listen.  Baron
Buring was in doubt how to act when he received your letter,
because it was suggestive of a madhouse.  And, of course, means
might be taken to . . . suppress you.  However, owing to certain
special considerations, your case was treated with indulgence and
inquiries were made about you: it turns out that though you have
belonged to good society, and did at one time serve in the Guards,
you have been excluded from society and your reputation is dubious.
Yet in spite of that I've come here to ascertain the facts
personally, and now, to make things worse, you don't scruple to
play with words, and inform me yourself that you are liable to
nervous attacks.  It's enough!  Baron Buring's position and
reputation are such that he cannot stoop to be mixed up in such an
affair. . . .  In short, I am authorized, sir, to inform you, that
if a repetition or anything similar to your recent action should
follow hereafter, measures will promptly be found to bring you to
your senses, very quickly and very thoroughly I can assure you.  We
are not living in the jungle, but in a well ordered state!"

"You are so certain of that, my good baron?"

"Confound you," cried the baron, suddenly getting up; "you tempt me
to show you at once that I am not 'your good baron.'"

"Ach, I must warn you once again," said Versilov, and he too stood
up, "that my wife and daughter are not far off . . . and so I must
ask you not to speak so loud, for your shouts may reach their

"Your wife . . . the devil . . . I am sitting here talking to you
solely in order to get to the bottom of this disgusting business,"
the baron continued as wrathfully as before, not dropping his voice
in the least.  "Enough!" he roared furiously, "you are not only
excluded from the society of decent people, but you're a maniac, a
regular raving maniac, and such you've been proved to be!  You do
not deserve indulgence, and I can tell you that this very day
measures will be taken in regard to you . . . and you will be
placed where they will know how to restore you to sanity . . . and
will remove you from the town."

He marched with rapid strides out of the room.  Versilov did not
accompany him to the door.  He stood gazing at me absentmindedly,
as though he did not see me; all at once he smiled, tossed back his
hair, and taking his hat, he too made for the door.  I clutched at
his hand.

"Ach, yes, you are here too.  You . . . heard?" he said, stopping
short before me.

"How could you do it?  How could you distort . . . disgrace with
such treachery!"

He looked at me intently, his smile broadened and broadened till it
passed into actual laughter.

"Why, I've been disgraced . . . before her! before her!  They
laughed at me before her eyes, and he . . . and he pushed me away!"
I cried, beside myself.

"Really?  Ach, poor boy, I am sorry for you. . . .  So they laughed
at you, did they?"

"You are laughing yourself, you are laughing at me; it amuses you!"

He quickly pulled his hand away, put on his hat and laughing,
laughing aloud, went out of the flat.  What was the use of running
after him?  I understood and--I had lost everything in one instant!
All at once I saw my mother; she had come downstairs and was
timidly looking about her.

"Has he gone away?"

I put my arms around her without a word, and she held me tight in

"Mother, my own, surely you can't stay?  Let us go at once, I will
shelter you, I will work for you like a slave, for you and for
Liza.  Leave them all, all, and let us go away.  Let us be alone.
Mother, do you remember how you came to me at Touchard's and I
would not recognize you?"

"I remember, my own; I have been bad to you all your life.  You
were my own child, and I was a stranger to you."

"That was his fault, mother, it was all his fault; he has never
loved us."

"Yes, yes, he did love us."

"Let us go, mother."

"How could I go away from him, do you suppose he is happy?"

"Where's Liza?"

"She's lying down; she felt ill when she came in; I'm frightened.
Why are they so angry with him?  What will they do to him now?
Where's he gone?  What was that officer threatening?"

"Nothing will happen to him, mother, nothing does happen to him, or
ever can happen to him.  He's that sort of man!  Here's Tatyana
Pavlovna, ask her, if you don't believe me, here she is."  (Tatyana
Pavlovna came quickly into the room.)  "Good-bye, mother.  I will
come to you directly, and when I come, I shall ask you the same
thing again. . . ."

I ran away.  I could not bear to see anyone, let alone Tatyana
Pavlovna.  Even mother distressed me.  I wanted to be alone, alone.


But before I had crossed the street, I felt that I could hardly
walk, and I jostled aimlessly, heedlessly, against the passers-by,
feeling listless and adrift; but what could I do with myself?
What use am I to anyone, and--what use is anything to me now?
Mechanically I trudged to Prince Sergay's, though I was not
thinking of him at all.  He was not at home.  I told Pyotr (his
man) that I would wait in his study (as I had done many times
before).  His study was a large one, a very high room, cumbered up
with furniture.  I crept into the darkest corner, sat down on the
sofa and, putting my elbows on the table, rested my head in my
hands.  Yes, that was the question: "what was of any use to me
now?"  If I was able to formulate that question then, I was totally
unable to answer it.

But I could not myself answer the question, or think about it
rationally.  I have mentioned already that towards the end of those
days I was overwhelmed by the rush of events.  I sat now, and
everything was whirling round like chaos in my mind.  "Yes, I had
failed to see all that was in him, and did not understand him at
all," was the thought that glimmered dimly in my mind at moments.
"He laughed in my face just now: that was not at me, it was all
Buring then, not me.  The day before yesterday he knew everything
and he was gloomy.  He pounced on my stupid confession in the
restaurant, and distorted it, regardless of the truth; but what did
he care for the truth?  He did not believe a syllable of what he
wrote to her.  All he wanted was to insult her, to insult her
senselessly, without knowing what for; he was looking out for a
pretext and I gave him the pretext. . . .  He behaved like a mad
dog!  Does he want to kill Buring now?  What for?  His heart knows
what for!  And I know nothing of what's in his heart. . . .  No,
no, I don't know even now.  Can it be that he loves her with such
passion?  Or does he hate her to such a pitch of passion?  I don't
know, but does he know himself?  Why did I tell mother that
'nothing could happen to him'; what did I mean to say by that?
Have I lost him or haven't I?

". . . She saw how I was pushed away. . . .  Did she laugh too, or
not?  I should have laughed!  They were beating a spy, a spy. . . .

"What does it mean," suddenly flashed on my mind, "what does it
mean that in that loathsome letter he puts in that the document has
not been burnt, but is in existence? . . .

"He is not killing Buring but is sitting at this moment, no doubt,
in the restaurant listening to 'Lucia'!  And perhaps after Lucia he
will go and kill Buring.  Buring pushed me away, almost struck me;
did he strike me?  And Buring disdains to fight even Versilov, so
would he be likely to fight with me?  Perhaps I ought to kill him
to-morrow with a revolver, waiting for him in the street. . . ."  I
let that thought flit through my mind quite mechanically without
being brought to a pause by it.

At moments I seemed to dream that the door would open all at once,
that Katerina Nikolaevna would come in, would give me her hand, and
we should both burst out laughing. . . .  Oh, my student, my dear
one!  I had a vision of this, or rather an intense longing for it,
as soon as it got dark.  It was not long ago I had been standing
before her saying good-bye to her, and she had given me her hand,
and laughed.  How could it have happened that in such a short time
we were so completely separated!  Simply to go to her and to
explain everything this minute, simply, simply!  Good heavens! how
was it that an utterly new world had begun for me so suddenly!
Yes, a new world, utterly, utterly new. . . .  And Liza, and Prince
Sergay, that was all old. . . .  Here I was now at Prince Sergay's.
And mother--how could she go on living with him if it was like
this!  I could, I can do anything, but she?  What will be now?  And
the figures of Liza, Anna Andreyevna, Stebelkov, Prince Sergay,
Aferdov, kept disconnectedly whirling round in my sick brain.  But
my thoughts became more and more formless and elusive; I was glad
when I succeeded in thinking of something and clutching at it.

"I have 'my idea'!" I thought suddenly; "but have I?  Don't I
repeat that from habit?  My idea was the fruit of darkness and
solitude, and is it possible to creep back into the old darkness?
Oh, my God, I never burnt that 'letter'!  I actually forgot to burn
it the day before yesterday.  I will go back and burn it in a
candle, in a candle of course; only I don't know if I'm thinking
properly. . . ."

It had long been dark and Pyotr brought candles.  He stood over me
and asked whether I had had supper.  I simply motioned him away.
An hour later, however, he brought me some tea, and I greedily
drank a large cupful.  Then I asked what time it was?  It was half-
past eight, and I felt no surprise to find I had been sitting there
five hours.

"I have been in to you three times already," said Pyotr, "but I
think you were asleep."

I did not remember his coming in.  I don't know why, but I felt all
at once horribly scared to think I had been asleep.  I got up and
walked about the room, that I might not go to sleep again.  At last
my head began to ache violently.  At ten o'clock Prince Sergay came
in and I was surprised that I had been waiting for him: I had
completely forgotten him, completely.

"You are here, and I've been round to you to fetch you," he said to
me.  His face looked gloomy and severe, and there was not a trace
of a smile.  There was a fixed idea in his eyes.

"I have been doing my very utmost all day and straining every
nerve," he said with concentrated intensity; "everything has
failed, and nothing in the future, but horror. . . ."  (N.B.--
he had not been to Prince Nikolay Ivanitch's.)  "I have seen
Zhibyelsky, he is an impossible person.  You see, to begin with we
must get the money, then we shall see.  And if we don't succeed
with the money, then we shall see. . . .  I have made up my mind
not to think about that.  If only we get hold of the money to-day,
to-morrow we shall see everything.  The three thousand you won is
still untouched, every farthing of it.  It's three thousand all
except three roubles.  After paying back what I lent you, there is
three hundred and forty roubles change for you.  Take it.  Another
seven hundred as well, to make up a thousand, and I will take the
other two thousand.  Then let us both go to Zerstchikov and try at
opposite ends of the table to win ten thousand--perhaps we shall do
something, if we don't win it--then. . . .  This is the only way
left, anyhow."

He looked at me with a fateful smile.

"Yes, yes!" I cried suddenly, as though coming to life again "let
us go.  I was only waiting for you. . . ."

I may remark that I had never once thought of roulette during those

"But the baseness?  The degradation of the action?" Prince Sergay
asked suddenly.

"Our going to roulette!  Why that's everything," I cried, "money's
everything.  Why, you and I are the only saints, while Buring has
sold himself, Anna Andreyevna's sold herself, and Versilov--have
you heard that Versilov's a maniac?  A maniac! A maniac!"

"Are you quite well, Arkady Makarovitch?  Your eyes are somehow

"You say that because you want to go without me!  But I shall stick
to you now.  It's not for nothing I've been dreaming of play all
night.  Let us go, let us go!" I kept exclaiming, as though I had
found the solution to everything.

"Well, let us go, though you're in a fever, and there . . ."

He did not finish.  His face looked heavy and terrible.  We were
just going out when he stopped in the doorway.

"Do you know," he said suddenly, "that there is another way out of
my trouble, besides play?"

"What way."

"A princely way."

"What's that?  What's that?"

"You'll know what afterwards.  Only let me tell you I'm not worthy
of it, because I have delayed too long.  Let us go, but you
remember my words.  We'll try the lackey's way. . . .  And do you
suppose I don't know that I am consciously, of my own free will,
behaving like a lackey?"


I flew to the roulette table as though in it were concentrated all
hopes of my salvation, all means of escape, and yet as I have
mentioned already, I had not once thought of it before Prince
Sergay's arrival.  Moreover, I was going to gamble, not for myself
but for Prince Sergay, and with his money; I can't explain what was
the attraction, but it was an irresistible attraction.  Oh, never
had those people, those faces, those croupiers with their
monotonous shouts, all the details of the squalid gambling saloon
seemed so revolting to me, so depressing, so coarse, and so
melancholy as that evening!  I remember well the sadness and misery
that gripped my heart at times during those hours at the gambling
table.  But why didn't I go away?  Why did I endure and, as it
were, accept this fate, this sacrifice, this devotion?  I will only
say one thing: I can hardly say of myself that I was then in my
right senses.  Yet at the same time, I had never played so
prudently as that evening.  I was silent and concentrated,
attentive and extremely calculating; I was patient and niggardly,
and at the same time resolute at critical moments.  I established
myself again at the zero end of the table, that is between
Zerstchikov and Aferdov, who always sat on the former's right hand;
the place was distasteful to me, but I had an overwhelming desire
to stake on zero, and all the other places at that end were taken.
We had been playing over an hour; at last, from my place, I saw
Prince Sergay get up from his seat and with a pale face move across
to us and remain facing me the other side of the table: he had lost
all he had and watched my play in silence, though he probably did
not follow it and had ceased to think of play.  At that moment I
just began winning, and Zerstchikov was counting me out what I had
won.  Suddenly, without a word, Aferdov with the utmost effrontery
took one of my hundred-rouble notes before my very eyes and added
it to the pile of money lying before him.  I cried out, and caught
hold of his hand.  Then something quite unexpected happened to me:
it was as though I had broken some chain that restrained me, as
though all the affronts and insults of that day were concentrated
in that moment in the loss of that hundred-rouble note.  It was as
though everything that had been accumulating and suppressed within
me had only been waiting for that moment to break out.

"He's a thief, he has just stolen my hundred roubles," I exclaimed,
looking round, beside myself.

I won't describe the hubbub that followed; such a scandal was a
novelty there.  At Zerstchikov's, people behaved with propriety,
and his saloon was famous for it.  But I did not know what I was
doing.  Zerstchikov's voice was suddenly heard in the midst of the
clamour and din:

"But the money's not here, and it was lying here!  Four hundred

Another scene followed at once: the money in the bank had
disappeared under Zerstchikov's very nose, a roll of four hundred
roubles.  Zerstchikov pointed to the spot where the notes had only
that minute been lying, and that spot turned out to be close to me,
next to the spot where my money was lying, much closer to me than
to Aferdov.

"The thief is here! he has stolen it again, search him!" I cried
pointing to Aferdov.

"This is what comes of letting in all sorts of people," thundered
an impressive voice in the midst of the general uproar.  "Persons
have been admitted without introduction!  Who brought him in?  Who
is he?"

"A fellow called Dolgoruky."

"Prince Dolgoruky?"

"Prince Sokolsky brought him," cried some one.

"Listen, prince," I yelled to him across the table in a frenzy;
"they think I'm a thief when I've just been robbed myself!  Tell
them about me, tell them about me!"

And then there followed something worse than all that had happened
that day . . . worse than anything that had happened in my life:
Prince Sergay disowned me.  I saw him shrug his shoulders and heard
him in answer to a stream of questions pronounce sharply and

"I am not responsible for anyone.  Please leave me alone."

Meanwhile Aferdov stood in the middle of the crowd loudly demanding
that "he should be searched."  He kept turning out his own pockets.
But his demands were met by shouts of "No, no, we know the thief!"

Two footmen were summoned and they seized me by my arms from

"I won't let myself be searched, I won't allow it!" I shouted,
pulling myself away.

But they dragged me into the next room; there, in the midst of the
crowd, they searched me to the last fold of my garments.  I
screamed and struggled.

"He must have thrown it away, you must look on the floor," some one

"Where can we look on the floor now?"

"Under the table, he must have somehow managed to throw it away."

"Of course there's no trace . . ."

I was led out, but I succeeded in stopping in the doorway, and with
senseless ferocity I shouted, to be heard by the whole saloon:

"Roulette is prohibited by the police.  I shall inform against you
all to-day!"

I was led downstairs.  My hat and coat were put on me, and . . .
the door into the street was flung open before me.



The day had ended with a catastrophe, there remained the night, and
this is what I remember of that night.

I believe it was one o'clock when I found myself in the street.  It
was a clear, still and frosty night, I was almost running and in
horrible haste, but--not towards home.

"Why home?  Can there be a home now?  Home is where one lives, I
shall wake up to-morrow to live--but is that possible now?  Life is
over, it is utterly impossible to live now," I thought.

And as I wandered about the streets, not noticing where I was
going, and indeed I don't know whether I meant to run anywhere in
particular, I was very hot and I was continually flinging open my
heavy raccoon-lined coat.  "No sort of action can have any object
for me now" was what I felt at that moment.  And strange to say, it
seemed to me that everything about me, even the air I breathed, was
from another planet, as though I had suddenly found myself in the
moon.  Everything--the town, the passers-by, the pavement I was
running on--all of these were NOT MINE.  "This is the Palace
Square, and here is St. Isaak's," floated across my mind.  "But now
I have nothing to do with them."  Everything had become suddenly
remote, it had all suddenly become NOT MINE.  "I have mother and
Liza--but what are mother and Liza to me now?  Everything is over,
everything is over at one blow, except one thing: that I am a thief
for ever."

"How can I prove that I'm not a thief?  Is it possible now?  Shall
I go to America?  What should I prove by that?  Versilov will be
the first to believe I stole it!  My 'idea'?  What idea?  What is
my 'idea' now?  If I go on for fifty years, for a hundred years,
some one will always turn up, to point at me and say:  'He's a
thief, he began, "his idea" by stealing money at roulette.'"

Was there resentment in my heart?  I don't know, perhaps there was.
Strange to say, I always had, perhaps from my earliest childhood,
one characteristic: if I were ill-treated, absolutely wronged
and insulted to the last degree, I always showed at once an
irresistible desire to submit passively to the insult, and even to
accept more than my assailant wanted to inflict upon me, as though
I would say:  "All right, you have humiliated me, so I will
humiliate myself even more; look, and enjoy it!"  Touchard beat me
and tried to show I was a lackey, and not the son of a senator, and
so I promptly took up the role of a lackey.  I not only handed him
his clothes, but of my own accord I snatched up the brush and began
brushing off every speck of dust, without any request or order from
him, and ran after him brush in hand, in a glow of menial devotion,
to remove some particle of dirt from his dress-coat, so much so
that he would sometimes check me himself and say, "That's enough,
Arkady, that's enough."  He would come and take off his overcoat,
and I would brush it, fold it carefully, and cover it with a check
silk handkerchief.  I knew that my school-fellows used to laugh at
me and despise me for it, I knew it perfectly well, but that was
just what gratified me:  "Since they want me to be a lackey, well,
I am a lackey then; if I'm to be a cad, well, I will be a cad."  I
could keep up a passive hatred and underground resentment in that
way for years.

Well, at Zerstchikov's I had shouted to the whole room in an
absolute frenzy:

"I will inform against you all--roulette is forbidden by the
police!"  And I swear that in that case, too, there was something
of the same sort: I was humiliated, searched, publicly proclaimed a
thief, crushed.  "Well then I can tell you, you have guessed right,
I am worse than a thief, I am an informer."  Recalling it now, that
is how I explain it; at the time I was incapable of analysis; I
shouted that at the time unintentionally, I did not know indeed a
second before that I should say it: it shouted itself--the
CHARACTERISTIC was there already in my heart.

There is no doubt that I had begun to be delirious while I was
running in the streets, but I remember quite well that I knew what
I was doing; and yet I can confidently assert that a whole cycle of
ideas and conclusions were impossible for me at that time; I felt
in myself even at those moments that "some thoughts I was able to
think, but others I was incapable of."  In the same way some of my
decisions, though they were formed with perfect consciousness, were
utterly devoid of logic.  What is more, I remember very well that
at some moments I could recognize fully the absurdity of some
conclusion and at the same time with complete consciousness proceed
to act upon it.  Yes, crime was hovering about me that night, and
only by chance was not committed.

I suddenly recalled Tatyana Pavlovna's saying about Versilov:
"He'd better have gone at night to the Nikolaevsky Railway and have
laid his head on the rails--they'd have cut it off for him."

For a moment that idea took possession of all my feelings, but I
instantly drove it away with a pang at my heart:  "If I lay my head
on the rails and die, they'll say to-morrow he did it because he
stole the money, he did it from shame--no, for nothing in the
world!"  And at that instant I remember I experienced a sudden
flash of fearful anger.  "To clear my character is impossible,"
floated through my mind, "to begin a new life is impossible too,
and so I must submit, become a lackey, a dog, an insect, an
informer, a real informer, while I secretly prepare myself, and one
day suddenly blow it all up into the air, annihilate everything and
every one, guilty and innocent alike, so that they will all know
that this was the man they had all called a thief . . . and then
kill myself."

I don't remember how I ran into a lane somewhere near Konnogvardeysky
Boulevard.  For about a hundred paces on both sides of this lane
there were high stone walls enclosing backyards.  Behind the wall on
the left I saw a huge stack of wood, a long stack such as one sees
in timber-yards, and more than seven feet higher than the wall.  I
stopped and began pondering.

In my pocket I had wax matches in a little silver matchbox.  I
repeat, I realized quite distinctly at that time what I was
thinking about and what I meant to do, and so I remember it even
now, but why I meant to do it I don't know, I don't know at all.  I
only know that I suddenly felt a great longing to do it.  "To climb
over the wall is quite possible," I reflected; at that moment I
caught sight of a gate in the wall not two paces away, probably
barred up for months together.  "Standing on the projection below,
and taking hold of the top of the gate I could easily climb on to
the wall," I reflected, "and no one will notice me, there's no one
about, everything's still!  And there I can sit on the wall and
easily set fire to the woodstack.  I can do it without getting
down, for the wood almost touches the wall.  The frost will make it
burn all the better, I have only to take hold of a birch-log with
my hand. . . .  And indeed there's no need to reach a log at all: I
can simply strip the bark off with my hand, while I sit on the
wall, set light to it with a match and thrust it into the stack--
and there will be a blaze.  And I will jump down and walk away;
there will be no need to run, for it won't be noticed for a long
while. . . ."  That was how I reasoned at the time, and all at once
I made up my mind.

I felt an extraordinary satisfaction and enjoyment, and I climbed
up.  I was very good at climbing: gymnastics had been my speciality
at school, but I had my overboots on and it turned out to be a
difficult task.  I succeeded somehow in catching hold of one very
slight projection above, and raised myself; I lifted my other hand
to clutch the top of the wall, but at that instant I slipped and
went flying backwards.

I suppose I must have struck the ground with the back of my head,
and must have lain for two or three minutes unconscious.  When I
came to myself I mechanically wrapped my fur coat about me, feeling
all at once unbearably cold, and scarcely conscious of what I was
doing, I crept into the corner of the gateway and sat crouching and
huddled up in the recess between the gate and the wall.  My ideas
were in confusion, and most likely I soon fell into a doze.  I
remember now, as it were in a dream, that there suddenly sounded in
my ears the deep heavy clang of a bell, and I began listening to it
with pleasure.


The bell rang steadily and distinctly, once every two or three
seconds; it was not an alarm bell, however, but a pleasant and
melodious chime, and I suddenly recognized that it was a familiar
chime; that it was the bell of St. Nikolay's, the red church
opposite Touchard's, the old-fashioned Moscow church which I
remembered so well, built in the reign of Tsar Alexey Mihalovitch,
full of tracery, and with many domes and columns, and that Easter
was only just over, and the new-born little green leaves were
trembling on the meagre birches in Touchard's front garden.  The
brilliant evening sun was pouring its slanting rays into our
classroom, and in my little room on the left, where a year before
Touchard had put me apart that I might not mix with "counts' and
senators' children," there was sitting a visitor.  Yes, I, who had
no relations, had suddenly got a visitor for the first time since I
had been at Touchard's.  I recognized this visitor as soon as she
came in: it was mother, though I had not seen her once since she
had taken me to the village church and the dove had flown across
the cupola.  We were sitting alone together and I watched her
strangely.  Many years afterwards I learned that being left by
Versilov, who had suddenly gone abroad, she had come on her own
account to Moscow, paying for the journey out of her small means,
and almost by stealth, without the knowledge of the people who had
been commissioned to look after her, and she had done this solely
to see me.  It was strange, too, that when she came in and talked
to Touchard, she did not say one word to me of being my mother.
She sat beside me, and I remember I wondered at her talking so
little.  She had a parcel with her and she undid it: in it there
turned out to be six oranges, several gingerbread cakes, and two
ordinary loaves of French bread.  I was offended at the sight of
the bread, and with a constrained air I announced that our 'food'
was excellent, and that they gave us a whole French loaf for our
tea every day.

"Never mind, darling, in my foolishness I thought 'maybe they don't
feed them properly at school,' don't be vexed, my own."

"And Antonina Vassilyevna (Touchard's wife) will be offended.  My
schoolfellows will laugh at me too. . . ."

"Won't you have them; perhaps you'll eat them up?"

"Please, don't. . . ."

And I did not even touch her presents; the oranges and gingerbread
cakes lay on the little table before me, while I sat with my eyes
cast down, but with a great air of dignity.  Who knows, perhaps I
had a great desire to let her see that her visit made me feel
ashamed to meet my schoolfellows, to let her have at least a
glimpse that she might understand, as though to say, "See, you are
disgracing me, and you don't understand what you are doing."  Oh,
by that time I was running after Touchard with a brush to flick off
every speck of dust!  I was picturing to myself, too, what taunts I
should have to endure as soon as she was gone, from my schoolfellows
and perhaps from Touchard himself; and there was not the least
friendly feeling for her in my heart.  I only looked sideways at her
dark-coloured old dress, at her rather coarse, almost working-class
hands, at her quite coarse shoes, and her terribly thin face; there
were already furrows on her forehead, though Antonina Vassilyevna
did say that evening after she had gone:  "Your mamma must have been
very pretty."

So we sat, and suddenly Agafya came in with a cup of coffee on a
tray.  It was just after dinner, and at that time Touchard always
drank a cup of coffee in his drawing-room.  But mother thanked her
and did not take the cup: as I learned afterwards she never drank
coffee in those days, as it brought on palpitations of the heart.
The fact was that Touchard inwardly considered her visit, and his
permitting me to see her, an act of great condescension on his
part, so that the cup of coffee sent her was, comparatively
speaking, a signal proof of humanity which did the utmost credit to
his civilization, feelings, and European ideas.  And as though on
purpose, mother refused it.

I was summoned to Touchard, and he told me to take all my lesson
books and exercise books to show my mother:  "That she may see what
you have succeeded in attaining in my establishment."  At that
point Antonina Vassilyevna, pursing up her lips, minced out to me
in a jeering and insulting way:

"Your mamma does not seem to like our coffee."

I collected my exercise books and carried them to my waiting
mother, passing through the crowd of "counts' and senators'
children" in the classroom who were staring at mother and me.  And
it actually pleased me to carry out Touchard's behests with literal
exactitude.  "Here are my lessons in French grammar, here are my
dictation exercises, here are the conjugations of the auxiliary
verbs avoir and etre, here is the geography, descriptions of the
principal towns of Europe, and all parts of the world," and so on.
For half an hour or more I went on explaining in a monotonous
little voice, keeping my eyes sedately cast down.  I knew that my
mother knew nothing of these learned subjects, could not perhaps
even write, but in this too I was pleased with my part.  But I did
not succeed in wearying her: she listened all the time without
interrupting me, with extraordinary and even reverent attention, so
that at last I got tired of it myself and left off; her expression
was sad, however, and there was something pitiful in her face.

She got up to go at last; Touchard suddenly walked in, and with an
air of foolish importance asked her:  "Whether she was satisfied
with her son's progress?  Mother began muttering incoherent thanks;
Antonina Vassilyevna came up too.  Mother began begging them both
"not to abandon the orphan, who was as good as an orphan now, but
to treat him with kindness." . . .  And with tears in her eyes she
bowed to them both, each separately, and to each with a deep bow,
exactly as "simple people" bow down when they ask a favour of the
gentry.  The Touchards had not expected this, and Antonina
Vassilyevna was evidently softened, and revised her opinion about
the cup of coffee.  Touchard humanely responded with even greater
dignity "that he made no distinction between the children, that
here all were his children, and he was their father, that I was
almost on an equal footing with the sons of senators and counts,
and that she ought to appreciate that," and so on, and so on.
Mother only bowed down, but was much embarrassed.  At last she
turned to me, and with tears shining in her eyes said:  "Good-bye,

She kissed me, that is I allowed myself to be kissed.  She
evidently wanted to go on kissing, embracing and hugging me, but
either she herself felt ashamed before company, or felt hurt by
something else, or guessed that I was ashamed of her, for she
hurriedly went out, bowing once more to the Touchards.  I stood

"Mais suivez donc votre mere," said Antonina Vassilyevna: "il n'a
pas de coeur, cet enfant!"

Touchard responded by shrugging his shoulders, which meant, of
course, "it's not without reason that I treat him as a lackey."

I obediently followed my mother; we went out on to the steps.  I
knew that they were all looking at me out of the window.  Mother
turned towards the church and crossed herself three times; her lips
were trembling, the deep bell chimed musically and regularly from
the belfry.  She turned to me and could not restrain herself, she
laid both hands on my head and began crying over it.

"Mother, stop . . . I'm ashamed . . . they can see from the
window. . . ."

She broke out hurriedly:

"Well God . . . God be with you. . . .  The heavenly angels keep
you.  Holy Mother, Saint Nikolay. . . .  My God, my God!" she
repeated, speaking rapidly and making as many signs of the cross
over me as she possibly could.  "My darling, my darling!  Stay, my
darling. . . ."

She hurriedly put her hand in her pocket and drew out a handkerchief,
a blue checked handkerchief, with a tightly fastened knot at the
corner, and began untying the knot . . . but it would not come
untied. . . .

"Well never mind, take it with the handkerchief: it's clean, it may
be of use perhaps.  There are four fourpenny-bits in it, perhaps
you'll need the money; forgive me, darling, I have not got any more
just now . . . forgive me, darling."

I took the handkerchief.  I wanted to observe that we were allowed
very liberal diet by M. Touchard and Antonina Vassilyevna, and were
not in need of anything, but I restrained myself and took the

Once more she made the sign of the cross over me, once more she
whispered a prayer, and suddenly--suddenly bowed to me exactly as
she had done to the Touchards upstairs--a prolonged low bow--I
shall never forget it!  Then I shuddered, I don't know why.  What
had she meant by that bow?  "Was she confessing the wrong she had
done me?" as I fancied once long afterwards--I don't know.  But at
the time it made me more ashamed than ever that they "were looking
out of window and that Lambert would, most likely, begin beating

At last she went away.  The apples and oranges had been devoured by
the sons of counts and senators, and the four fourpenny-bits were
promptly taken from me by Lambert and spent at the confectioner's
on tarts and chocolates, of which I was not offered a taste.

Fully six months had passed and it was a wet and windy October.  I
had quite forgotten about mother.  Oh, by then hate, a blind hatred
of everything had crept into my heart, and was its sustenance,
though I still brushed Touchard as before; but I hated him with all
my might, and every day hated him more and more.  It was then that
in the melancholy dusk of one evening I began rummaging for
something in my little box, and suddenly in the corner I saw her
blue cotton handkerchief; it had been lying there ever since I had
thrust it away.  I took it out and even looked at it with some
interest.  The corner of the handkerchief still retained the
creases made by the knot, and even the round impress of the money
was distinctly visible; I put the handkerchief in again, however,
and pushed the box back.  It was the eve of a holiday, and the
bells were ringing for the all-night service.  The pupils had all
gone to their homes after dinner, but this time Lambert had stayed
for Sunday.  I don't know why he hadn't been fetched.  Though he
used still to beat me, as before, he used to talk to me a great
deal, and often needed me.  We talked the whole evening about
Lepage's pistols, which neither of us had seen, and Circassian
swords and how they cut, how splendid it would be to establish a
band of brigands, and finally Lambert passed to the familiar
obscene subjects which were his favourite topics, and though I
wondered at myself, I remember I liked listening.  Suddenly I felt
it unbearable, and I told him I had a headache.  At ten o'clock we
went to bed; I turned away with my head under the quilt and took
the blue handkerchief from under my pillow: I had for some reason
fetched it from the box an hour before, and as soon as our beds
were made I put it under the pillow.  I put it to my face and
suddenly began kissing it:  "Mother, mother," I whispered, and my
whole chest contracted as though in a vice.  I closed my eyes, and
saw her face with the quivering lips when she crossed herself
facing the church, and afterwards made the sign of the cross over
me, and I said to her, "I'm ashamed, they are looking at us."
"Mother darling, mother, were you really with me once? . . .
Mother darling, where are you now, my far-away visitor?  Do you
remember your poor boy, whom you came to see? . . .  Show yourself
to me just this once, come to me if only in a dream, just that I
may tell you how I love you, may hug you and kiss your blue eyes,
and tell you that I'm not ashamed of you now, and tell you that I
loved you even then, and that my heart was aching then, though I
simply sat like a lackey.  You will never know, mother, how I loved
you then!  Mother, where are you now?  Do you hear me?  Mother,
mother, do you remember the dove in the country? . . ."

"Confound him. . . .  What's the matter with him!" Lambert grumbled
from his bed.  "Stop it, I'll give it you!  You won't let me
sleep. . . ."  He jumped out of bed at last, ran to me, and began
pulling off the bedclothes, but I kept tight hold of the quilt,
which I had wrapped round my head.

"You are blubbering; what are you blubbering about, you fool?  I'll
give it you!" and he thumped me, he thumped me hard on my back, on
my side, hurting me more and more and . . . and I suddenly opened
my eyes. . . .

It was bright daylight, and the snow on the wall was glistening
with hoarfrost. . . .  I was sitting huddled up, almost frozen, and
almost numb in my fur coat, and some one was standing over me,
waking me up, abusing me loudly, and kicking me in the ribs with
his right foot.  I raised myself and looked: I saw a man wearing a
splendid bear-lined coat, and a sable cap.  He had black eyes,
foppish pitch-black whiskers, a hook nose, white teeth grinning at
me, a face white and red like a mask. . . .  He bent down over me
very close, and a frosty vapour came from his lips at each breath.

"Frozen, the drunken fool!  You'll freeze like a dog; get up!

"Lambert," I cried.

"Whoever are you?"


"Who the devil's Dolgoruky?"

"SIMPLY Dolgoruky! . . . Touchard. . . .  The one you stuck a fork
into, in the restaurant! . . ."

"Ha-a-a!" he cried, with a slow smile of recollection (could he
possibly have forgotten me?), "ha!  So it's you, it's you!"

He lifted me up and put me on my legs; I could hardly stand, could
hardly walk; he led me, supporting me with his arm.  He looked into
my eyes as though considering and recalling, and listening to me
intently, and I babbled on continuously without pause, and I was
delighted, so delighted to be talking, and so delighted too that it
was Lambert.  Whether for some reason I looked on him as my
"salvation," or whether I pounced on him at that moment because I
took him for some one of another world, I don't know--I did not
consider it then--but I pounced on him without considering.  What I
said then, I don't remember at all, and I doubt whether any of it
was coherent, I doubt whether I even pronounced a word clearly; but
he listened very attentively.  He took the first sledge we came
upon, and within a few minutes I was sitting in his room in the


Every man, whoever he may be, must certainly preserve a recollection
of something which has happened to him, upon which he looks, or is
inclined to look, as something fantastic, exceptional, outside the
common order of things, almost miraculous, whether it be a dream, a
meeting, a divination, a presentiment or anything of that kind.  I
am to this day inclined to look upon this meeting with Lambert as
something almost supernatural . . . judging, that is, from the
circumstances and consequences of that meeting.  It all happened
from one point of view, however, perfectly naturally; he was simply
returning from one of his nocturnal pursuits (the nature of it will
be explained later on) half-drunk, and stopping at the gate for a
moment, caught sight of me.  He had only been in Petersburg a few

The room in which I found myself was small and furnished in an
unsophisticated style, a typical example of the ordinary Petersburg
furnished lodgings of the middling sort.  Lambert himself, however,
was very well and expensively dressed.  On the floor there lay two
trunks, only half unpacked.  A corner of the room was shut off by a
screen which concealed the bed.

"Alphonsine!" cried Lambert.

"Presente!" responded from behind the screen a cracked female voice
with a Parisian accent, and two minutes later Mlle. Alphonsine
emerged, just out of bed, hurriedly dressed in a loose wrapper, a
queer creature, tall and as lean as a rake, a brunette with a long
waist and a long face, with dancing eyes and sunken cheeks, who
looked terribly the worse for wear.

"Make haste" (he spoke to her in French, I translate), "they must
have got a samovar; hot water quick, red wine and sugar, a glass
here, look sharp, he's frozen, it's a friend of mine . . . he's
been sleeping the night in the snow. . . ."

"Malheureux!" she exclaimed with a theatrical air, clasping her

"Now then!" he shouted, holding up his finger and speaking exactly
as though to a dog; she at once desisted and ran to carry out his

He examined me and felt me over; tried my pulse, touched my
forehead and my temple.  "It's strange," he muttered, "that you did
not freeze. . . .  However, you were entirely covered with your fur
coat, head and all, so that you were sitting in a sort of nest of
fur. . . ."

A glass of something hot arrived, I sipped it greedily and it
revived me at once; I began babbling again; I was half lying on the
sofa in a corner and was talking all the time, I talked even as I
sipped--but what I said, again I scarcely remember; moments and
even whole intervals of time I've completely forgotten.  I repeat:
whether he understood anything of what I said, I don't know; but
one thing I distinctly gathered afterwards, and that was that he
succeeded in understanding me sufficiently to deduce that he must
not take his meeting with me lightly. . . .  I will explain later
in its proper place how he came to make this calculation.

I was not only extremely lively, but at moments, I believe,
cheerful.  I remember the sun suddenly flooding the room with light
when the blinds were drawn up, and the crackling stove which some
one was lighting, who and how I forget.  I remember, too, the tiny
black lap-dog which Mlle. Alphonsine held in her arms, coquettishly
pressing it to her heart.  This lap-dog attracted me so much that I
left off talking and twice stretched out towards it, but Lambert
waved his hand, and Alphonsine with her lap-dog instantly vanished
behind the screen.

He was very silent himself, he sat facing me and bending close down
to me, listened without moving; at times he smiled, a broad slow
smile, showing his teeth, and screwing up his eyes as though
reflecting intensely and trying to guess something.  I have a clear
recollection only of the fact that when I told him about the
"document," I could not express myself intelligibly and tell the
story consecutively, and from his face I quite saw that he could
not understand me, but that he would very much have liked to
understand, so much so that he even ventured to stop me with a
question, which was risky, as at the slightest interruption I broke
off and forgot what I was talking of.  How long we sat and talked
like this I don't know and cannot even imagine.  He suddenly got up
and called to Alphonsine.

"He needs rest; he may have to have the doctor.  Do everything he
asks, that is . . . vous comprenez, ma fille?  Vous avez l'argent,
no? here!" and he drew out a ten-rouble note.  He began whispering
with her:  "Vous comprenez? vous comprenez?" he repeated to her,
holding up his finger menacingly to her, and frowning sternly.  I
saw that she was dreadfully afraid of him.

"I'll come back, and you had better go to sleep," he said, smiling
to me, and took his cap.  "Mais vous n'avez pas dormi de tout,
Maurice!" Alphonsine began pathetically.  "Taisez-vous je dormirai
apres," and he went out.

"Sauvee," she murmured, pathetically pointing after him.

"Monsieur, Monsieur," she began declaiming at once, taking up an
attitude in the middle of the room, "jamais homme ne fut si cruel,
si Bismarck que cet etre, qui regarde une femme, comme une salete
de hazard.  Une femme, qu'est-ce que ca dans notre epoque?  Tue-la!
voila le dernier mot de l'Academie francaise!"

I stared at her open-eyed; I saw everything double, I had a vision
of two Alphonsines. . . .  I suddenly noticed that she was crying,
I started and realized that she had been talking to me for a long
time, and that I must have been asleep or unconscious.

". . . Helas! de quoi m'aurait servi de le decouvrir plutot," she
exclaimed, "et n'aurais-je pas autant gagne a tenir ma honte cachee
toute ma vie?  Peut-etre n'est-il pas honnete a une demoiselle de
s'expliquer si librement devant monsieur, mais enfin je vous avoue
que s'il m'etait permis de vouloir quelque chose, oh, ce serait de
lui plonger au coeur mon couteau, mais en detournant les yeux, de
peur que son regard execrable ne fit trembler mon bras et ne glacat
mon courage!  Il a assassine ce pape russe, monsieur, il lui
arracha sa barbe rousse pour la vendre a un artiste en cheveux au
pont de Marechaux, tout pres de la maison de Monsieur Andrieux--
hautes nouveautes, articles de Paris, linge, chemises, vous savez,
n'est-ce pas? . . .  Oh, monsieur, quand l'amitie rassemble a table
epouse, enfants, soeurs, amis, quand une vive allegresse enflamme
mon coeur, je vous le demande, monsieur: est-il bonheur preferable
a celui dont tout jouit?  Mais il rit, monsieur, ce monstre
execrable et inconcevable, et si ce n'etait pas par l'entremise de
Monsieur Andrieux, jamais, oh, jamais je ne serais . . .  Mais
quoi, monsieur, qu'avez vous, monsieur?"

She rushed up to me.  I believe I had an attack of shivering,
perhaps a fainting fit.  I cannot express what a painful and
miserable impression this half-crazy creature made upon me.  She
imagined perhaps that she had been commanded to entertain me: at
any rate she did not leave my side for one instant.  She had
perhaps at one time or another been on the stage; she declaimed in
a terrible way, pirouetted, talked incessantly, while I had long
been silent.  All I could understand from her story was that she
had been closely connected with "la maison de M. Andrieux--hautes
nouveautes, articles de Paris, etc.," and perhaps was one of the
family of la Maison de M. Andrieux; but she had somehow been torn
for ever from M. Andrieux, par ce monstre furieux et inconcevable,
and that was the point of the tragedy. . . .  She sobbed, but I
fancied that this was all part of the performance, and that she was
not really crying at all; sometimes I fancied that she would
suddenly drop to pieces, like a skeleton; she articulated her words
in a jangling, broken voice; the word preferable, for instance, she
pronounced prefer-a-able, and on the syllable A positively baa-ed
like a sheep.  Coming to myself on one occasion I found her
executing a pirouette in the middle of the room, but she was not
actually dancing, the pirouette had some connection with her story,
and she was simply impersonating some figure in it.  Suddenly she
rushed and opened a little, old, out-of-tune piano that was in the
room, and began strumming on it and singing.  I believe that for
ten minutes or more I lost consciousness completely, I fell asleep,
but the lap-dog yelped and I waked up again; for a moment
consciousness returned completely and suddenly flooded my mind with
light; I jumped up in horror:

"Lambert, I am at Lambert's!" I thought, and snatching up my hat, I
rushed to my fur coat.

"Ou allez-vous, monsieur?" cried the vigilant Alphonsine.

"I want to get out, I want to go away!  Let me out, don't keep
me. . . ."

"Oui, monsieur!" Alphonsine assented vigorously, and she rushed to
open the door into the corridor herself.  "Mais ce n'est pas loin,
monsieur, c'est pas loin du tout, ca ne vaut pas la peine de mettre
votre chouba, c'est ici pres, monsieur!" she shouted for the
benefit of the whole corridor.  Running out of the room I turned to
the right.

"Par ici, monsieur, c'est par ici!" she shouted at the top of her
voice, clutching at my coat with her long bony fingers, and with
the other hand pointing to the left of the corridor, where I did
not at all want to go.  I broke away and ran to the outer door
opening on to the stairs.

"Il s'en va, il s'en va!"  Alphonsine ran after me shouting in her
cracked voice; "mais il me tuera, monsieur, ii me tuera!"  But I
was already on the stairs and, though she ran after me down stairs,
I succeeded in opening the front door, dashing out into the street,
and jumping into the first sledge I met.  I gave the driver my
mother's address. . . .


But the clear consciousness that had flickered up for one moment
was soon dimmed.  I still have a faint recollection of the drive
and being taken up to my mother's, but there I sank almost at once
into complete unconsciousness.  Next day, as they told me
afterwards, and indeed I remember it myself, I had a moment of
lucidity again.  I found myself in Versilov's room and on his sofa.
I remember around me the faces of Versilov, my mother, Liza; I
remember particularly Versilov's speaking to me about Zerstchikov,
and about Prince Sergay, and showing me some letter to soothe me.
They told me afterwards that I kept asking with horror about
someone called Lambert, and kept hearing the barking of some lap-
dog.  But the faint light of consciousness was soon quenched again:
by the evening of the second day I was completely prostrate with
brainfever.  But I will anticipate events, and explain what had

When I had run out in the street from Zerstchikov's that evening,
and when calm had been restored there, Zerstchikov, who had
returned to the table, proclaimed aloud that a regrettable mistake
had been made: the missing money, four hundred roubles, had been
found in a pile of other money, and the bank account turned out to
be quite correct.  Then Prince Sergay, who had remained in the
room, went up to Zerstchikov and insisted that he should make a
public declaration of my innocence and should, moreover, send me an
apology in the form of a letter.  Zerstchikov on his side accepted
this suggestion as a very proper one, and promised, in the presence
of all, to send me next day a letter of explanation and apology.
Prince Sergay gave him Versilov's address.  And Versilov did in
fact receive next day a letter addressed to me in Zerstchikov's
hand, and more than thirteen hundred roubles belonging to me, which
I had left on the roulette table.  And so the affair with
Zerstchikov ended: this joyful news did much to hasten my recovery,
when I regained consciousness.

When Prince Sergay returned from the gambling saloon that night he
wrote two letters--one to me, and the other to his old regiment,
in which he had behaved so scandalously to Cornet Stepanov.  He
dispatched both letters next morning.  After that, he wrote a
report for the authorities, and with that report in his hand he
went early in the morning to the officer in command of his regiment
and announced to him that he, "a common criminal, who had taken
part in the forging of the X---- railway shares, surrendered to
justice and asked to be tried."  Therewith he handed him the report
in which all this was set out in writing.  He was arrested.

Here is the letter he wrote to me that night, word for word:


"Having tried the lackey's way of escape, I have lost the right to
comfort my soul a little with the thought that I was able in the
end to dare to do what was just and fine.  I have sinned against my
fatherland and against my family, and for this I, the last of my
family, am punishing myself.  I don't know how I could have caught
at the bare idea of self-preservation, and for a time have dreamed
of buying them off with money!  I should have still remained to all
eternity a criminal in my conscience!  Even if those people had
given back the notes that compromised me, they would never have
been induced to let me alone as long as I lived!  What remained?
To live with them, to be on a level with them all my life--that was
the fate awaiting me!  I could not accept it, and have at last
found in myself strength enough, or perhaps only despair enough, to
act as I am acting now.

"I have written a letter to my old regiment, to my fellow officers,
clearing Stepanov's character.  This is not and cannot be an
atonement: it is only the last will and testament of a man who will
be dead to-morrow.  That is how one must look at it.

"Forgive me for turning away from you in the gambling saloon; it
was because at the moment I was not sure of you.  Now that I am a
dead man I can make this confession . . . from the other world.

"Poor Liza! she knows nothing of this decision; let her not curse
me, but judge of it herself.  I cannot defend myself and cannot
even find the words to explain anything to her.  I must tell you,
too, Arkady Makarovitch, that when she came to me yesterday morning
for the last time, I confessed that I had deceived her, and owned
that I had been to Anna Andreyevna with the intention of making her
an offer.  I could not, seeing her love, keep this upon my
conscience in face of my last determination, and I told her.  She
forgave me, she forgave everything, but I could not believe her; it
is not forgiveness; in her place I could not forgive.

"Remember me a little.

"Your unhappy friend,


I lay unconscious for exactly nine days.




Now for something quite different.

I keep declaring: "something different, something different," yet I
keep on scribbling of nothing but myself.  Yet I have announced a
thousand times already that I don't want to describe myself at all,
and I firmly meant not to do so when I began my story: I quite
understand that I'm not of the slightest interest to the reader.  I
am describing and want to describe other people, not myself, and if
I keep coming in it's only a lamentable mistake, because I can't
avoid it, however much I should like to.  What I regret most is
that I describe my own adventures with such heat; by doing so I
give ground for supposing that I am still the same as I was.  The
reader will remember, however, that I have exclaimed more than
once, "Oh, if one could only change the past and begin all over
again!"  I could not have uttered that exclamation if I were not
radically changed and had not become an entirely different man now;
that is quite evident.  And no one can imagine how sick I am of
these apologies and prefaces, which I am continually forced to
squeeze into the very middle of my narrative!

To return.

After nine days' unconsciousness I came to myself, regenerated but
not reformed; my regeneration was a stupid one, however, of course,
if the word is taken in the wide sense, and perhaps if it had
happened now it would have been different.  The idea, or rather the
feeling, that possessed me was, as it had been a thousand times
before, the desire to get away altogether, but this time I meant to
go away, not as in the past, when I had so often considered the
project and been incapable of carrying it out.  I didn't want to
revenge myself on anyone, and I give my word of honour that I did
not, though I had been insulted by all of them.  I meant to go away
without loathing, without cursing, and never to return, but I
wanted to do this by my own effort, and by real effort unassisted
by any one of them, or by anyone in the whole world; yet I was
almost on the point of being reconciled with every one!  I record
this absorbing dream not as a thought, but as an overwhelming
sensation.  I did not care to formulate it as long as I was in bed.
Sick and helpless I lay in Versilov's room, which they had given up
to me; I recognized, with a pang, how abjectly helpless I was.

What was tossing on the bed was not a man but a feeble straw, and
this impotence was not only through illness--and how degrading I
felt it!  And so from the very depth of my being, from all the
forces in me, a protest began to rise, and I was choking with a
feeling of infinitely exaggerated pride and defiance.  Indeed, I
can't remember any time in my whole life when I was so full of
arrogant feeling as I was during the early days of my convalescence,
that is, while I was tossing like a weak straw on my bed.

But for the time I held my peace, and even made up my mind not to
think of anything!  I kept peeping at their faces, trying to guess
from them all I wanted to know.  It was evident that they too did
not want to ask questions or be inquisitive, but talked of
something irrelevant.  This pleased me and at the same time
mortified me; I won't attempt to explain the contradiction.  I did
not see Liza so often as my mother, though she came in to see me
every day, and indeed twice a day.  From fragments of their talk
and from their whole air I gathered that Liza had a great deal on
her hands and that she was indeed often absent from home on
business of her own: the very fact that she could have "business of
her own" was something like a grievance to me; but all these were
morbid, purely physical, sensations, which are not worth describing.
Tatyana Pavlovna came, too, almost daily to see me, and though she
was by no means tender with me, she did not abuse me as usual, which
annoyed me extremely--so much so that I said to her openly:  "You
know, Tatyana Pavlovna, when you're not scolding you are very
tedious."  "Well, then, I won't come and see you," she blurted out,
and went away.  And I was pleased that I had got rid of one of them,
at least.

Most of all I worried my mother; I was irritable with her.  I
developed a terrific appetite and grumbled very much that the meals
were late (and they never were late).  Mother did not know how to
satisfy me.  Once she brought some soup, and began, as usual,
feeding me with it herself, and I kept grumbling as I ate it.  And
suddenly I felt vexed that I was grumbling:  "She is perhaps the
only one I love, and I am tormenting her."  But I was none the less
ill-humoured, and I suddenly began to cry from ill-humour; and she,
poor darling, thought I was crying from tenderness, stooped down
and began kissing me.  I restrained myself and endured it, but at
that instant I positively hated her.  But I always loved my mother,
and at that very time I loved her and did not hate her at all, but
it happened as it always does--that the one you love best you treat

The only person I hated in those days was the doctor.  He was a
young man with a conceited air, who talked abruptly and even
rudely, as though all these scientific people had only yesterday
discovered something special, when in reality nothing special had
happened; but the "mediocrity," the man in the street, is always
like that.  I restrained myself for a long time, but at last I
suddenly broke out and informed him before every one that he was
hanging about unnecessarily, that I should get better just as well
without him; that, though he looked like a scientific man, he was
filled with nothing but conventional ideas and did not even
understand that medicine had never cured anyone; that, in fact, he
was in all probability grossly ill-educated, "like all the
specialists who had become so high and mighty among us of late
years."  The doctor was very much offended (showing by that very
fact that he was that sort of person); however, he still came as
before.  I told Versilov at last that if the doctor did not give up
coming, that I should say something to him ten times as disagreeable.
Versilov only observed that it was impossible to say anything even
twice as disagreeable as I had said, let alone ten times.  I was
pleased at his saying that.

He was a man, though!  I am speaking of Versilov.  He, he was the
sole cause of it all, and, strange to say, he was the only one
towards whom I did not feel resentful.  It was not only his manner
to me that won me over.  I imagine that we felt at that time that
we owed each other many explanations . . . and for that very reason
it would be our best course never to explain.  It's extremely
pleasant in such situations to have to do with a man of
intelligence: I have mentioned already, in the second part of my
story, that he told me briefly and clearly of Prince Sergay's
letter to me about Zerstchikov, about what he, Prince Sergay, had
said to the latter, and so on.  As I had made up my mind to keep
quiet, I only asked him two or three brief questions; he answered
them clearly and exactly but entirely without superfluous words
and, what was best of all, without feeling.  I was afraid of
superfluous feeling at that time.

I said nothing about Lambert, but the reader will readily
understand that I thought a great deal about him.  In my delirium
I spoke more than once about Lambert; but, recovering from my
delirium and looking about me, I quickly reflected that everything
about Lambert remained a secret, and that every one, even Versilov,
knew nothing about him.  Then I was relieved and my fears passed
away; but I was mistaken, as I found out later to my astonishment.
He had come to the house during my illness, but Versilov said
nothing to me about it, and I concluded that Lambert had lost all
trace of me for ever.  Nevertheless, I often thought of him; what
is more, I thought of him not only without repulsion, not only with
curiosity, but even with sympathy, as though foreseeing from him
something new, some means of escape in harmony with my new feelings
and plans.  In short, I made up my mind to think over Lambert as
soon as I should be ready to think over anything.  I will note one
strange fact: I had entirely forgotten where he lived and in what
street it had all happened.  The room, Alphonsine, the lap-dog, the
corridor, all I remembered, so that I could have sketched them at
once; but where it had all happened--that is, in what street and in
what house--I had utterly forgotten.  And, what is strangest of
all, I only realized this three or four days after I had regained
complete consciousness, when I had been occupied with the thought
of Lambert for a long time.

These, then, were my first sensations on my resurrection.  I have
noted only what was most on the surface, and most probably I was
not able to detect what was most important.  In reality, perhaps,
what was really most important was even then taking shape and
becoming defined in my heart; I was not, of course, always vexed
and resentful simply at my broth's not being brought me.  Oh, I
remember how sad I was then and how depressed, especially at
moments when I had remained a long while alone.  As ill-luck would
have it, they soon saw that I was dreary with them and that their
sympathy irritated me, and they began more and more often to leave
me alone--a superfluous delicacy of perception on their part.


On the fourth day of consciousness I was lying in my bed at three
o'clock in the afternoon, and there was no one with me.  It was a
bright day, and I knew that at four o'clock, when the sun would
set, its slanting red rays would fall on the corner of my wall, and
throw a patch of glaring light upon it.  I knew that from the days
before, and that that would certainly happen in an hour's time, and
above all, that I knew of this beforehand, as certainly as twice
two make four, exasperated me to fury.  I turned round impulsively
and suddenly, in the midst of the profound stillness, I clearly
distinguished the words:  "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon us."
The words were pronounced in a half-whisper, and were followed by a
deep-drawn sigh, and then everything was still again.  I raised my
head quickly.

I had before, that is the previous day, and even the day before
that, noticed something special in our three rooms downstairs.  In
the little room beyond the dining-room where mother and Liza were
accustomed to sleep, there was evidently now some one else.  I had
more than once heard sounds, both by day and by night, but only for
brief moments, and complete stillness followed immediately and
lasted for several hours, so that I took no notice of the sounds.
The thought had occurred to me the evening before that Versilov was
in there, especially as he soon afterwards came in to me, though I
knew for a fact from their conversation that during my illness
Versilov had been sleeping out in another lodging.  I had known for
some time past that mother and Liza had moved into my former
"coffin" upstairs (to make it quieter for me, I imagined) and I had
even once wondered how the two of them could have possibly fitted
themselves into it.  And now it suddenly appeared that there was
some person living in their old room, and that that person was not
Versilov.  With an ease which I had not the least expected (for I
had till then imagined I was quite helpless) I dropped my feet over
the bed, slipped them into slippers, threw on a grey astrachan
dressing-gown which lay close at hand (Versilov had sacrificed it
for my benefit), and made my way through the parlour to what had
been mother's bedroom.  What I saw there completely astounded me; I
had never expected anything of the kind, and I stood still in the
doorway petrified.  There was sitting there a very grey-headed old
man, with a big and very white beard, and it was clear that he had
been sitting there for a long time.  He was not sitting on the bed
but on mother's little bench, resting his back against the bed.  He
held himself so upright, however, that he hardly seemed to need a
support for his back, though he was evidently ill.  He had over his
shirt a short jacket lined with fur.  His knees were covered with
mother's plaid, and on his feet were slippers.  He was, it could be
discerned, tall, broad-shouldered, and of a hale appearance, in
spite of his invalid state, though he was somewhat thin and looked
ill.  He had rather a long face and thick but not very long hair;
he looked about seventy.  On a little table, within reach, lay
three or four books and a pair of silver-rimmed spectacles.  Though
I had not the slightest idea of meeting him, I guessed instantly
who he was, though I was still unable to imagine how he could have
been sitting all those days, almost beside me, so quietly that till
that time I had heard nothing of him.

He did not stir on seeing me, he looked intently at me in silence,
just as I did at him, the only difference being that I stared at
him with the greatest astonishment, and he looked at me without the
slightest.  Scrutinizing me, on the contrary, from head to foot
during those five or ten seconds of silence, he suddenly smiled and
even laughed a gentle noiseless laugh, and though the laugh was
soon over, traces of its serene gaiety remained upon his face and
above all in his eyes, which were very blue, luminous and large,
though they were surrounded by innumerable wrinkles, and the
eyelids were swollen and drooping.  This laugh of his was what had
most effect on me.

I consider that in the majority of cases people are revolting to
look at when they are laughing.  As a rule something vulgar,
something as it were degrading, comes to the surface when a man
laughs, though he is almost unconscious of the impression he is
making in his mirth, as little in fact as anyone knows what he
looks like when he is asleep.  One person's face will look
intelligent asleep, while another man, intelligent in waking life,
will look stupid and ridiculous when he is sleeping.  I don't know
what this is due to: I only mean to say that people laughing, like
people asleep, have no idea what they look like.  The vast majority
of people don't know how to laugh at all.  It is not a matter of
knowing how, though: it's a gift and it cannot be cultivated.  One
can only cultivate it, perhaps, by training oneself to be
different, by developing and improving and by struggling against
the evil instincts of one's character: then a man's laugh might
very likely change for the better.  A man will sometimes give
himself away completely by his laugh, and you suddenly know him
through and through.  Even an unmistakably intelligent laugh will
sometimes be repulsive.  What is most essential in laughter is
sincerity, and where is one to find sincerity?  A good laugh must
be free from malice, and people are constantly laughing
maliciously.  A sincere laugh free from malice is gaiety, and where
does one find gaiety nowadays?  People don't know how to be gay
(Versilov made this observation about gaiety and I remember it).  A
man's gaiety is what most betrays the whole man from head to foot.
Sometimes one will be for a long time unable to read a character,
but if the man begins to laugh his whole character will suddenly
lie open before you.  It is only the loftiest and happiest natures
whose gaiety is infectious, that is, good-hearted and irresistible.
I am not talking of intellectual development, but of character, of
the whole man.  And so if you want to see into a man and to
understand his soul, don't concentrate your attention on the way he
talks or is silent, on his tears, or the emotion he displays over
exalted ideas; you will see through him better when he laughs.  If
a man has a good laugh, it means that he is a good man.  Take note
of every shade; a man's laugh must never, for instance, strike you
as stupid, however gay and good-humoured be may be.  If you notice
the slightest trace of stupidity in his laughter, you may be sure
that that man is of limited intelligence, though he is continually
dropping ideas wherever he goes.  Even if his laugh is not stupid,
but the man himself strikes you as being ever so little ridiculous
when he laughs, you may be sure that the man is deficient in
personal dignity, to some extent anyway.  Or if the laughter though
infectious, strikes you for some reason as vulgar, you may be sure
that that man's nature is vulgar, and all the generous and lofty
qualities you have observed in him before are either intentionally
assumed or unconsciously borrowed and that the man is certain to
deteriorate, to go in for the profitable, and to cast off his noble
ideas without regret as the errors and enthusiasm of youth.

I am intentionally introducing here this long tirade on the subject
of laughter and am sacrificing the continuity of my story for the
sake of it, for I consider it one of the most valuable deductions I
have drawn from life, and I particularly recommend it to the
attention of girls who are ready to accept the man of their choice,
but are still hesitating and watching him mistrustfully, unable to
make their final decision: and don't let them jeer at a wretched
raw youth for obtruding his moral reflections on marriage, a
subject which he knows nothing about.  But I only understand that
laughter is the surest test of the heart.  Look at a baby--some
children know how to laugh to perfection; a crying baby is
disgusting to me, but a laughing, merry one is a sunbeam from
paradise, it is a revelation from the future, when man will become
at last as pure and simple-hearted as a child.  And, indeed, there
was something childlike and incredibly attractive in the momentary
laughter of this old man.  I went up to him at once.


"Sit down, sit down a bit, you can scarcely stand on your legs, I
dare say," he urged me, motioning me to a seat beside him, and
still gazing into my face with the same luminous gaze.  I sat down
beside him and said:

"I know you, you are Makar Ivanovitch."

"Yes, darling.  It's very good that you are up.  You are young, it
is good for you.  The old monk looks towards the grave, but the
young must live."

"But are you ill?"

"Yes, dear, chiefly in my legs; my feet brought me as far as the
door, and here I've sat down and they are swollen.  I've had it
since last Friday when there were degrees" (i.e. when there was a
frost) "I used to rub them with ointment you see; the year before
last the doctor, Edmond Karlovitch, prescribed it me in Moscow, and
the ointment did good, aye, it did good; but now it's no use.  And
my chest, too, is choked up.  And since yesterday my spine has been
bad, as though dogs were gnawing it. . . .  I don't sleep at

"How is it I haven't heard you here at all?" I broke in.  He looked
at me as though considering something.

"Only don't wake your mother," he added as though suddenly
remembering something.  "She has been busy close at hand all night,
and as quiet as a mouse; and now I know she is lying down.  Ach,
it's bad for a sick monk," he sighed; "the soul hangs by a thread
it seems, yet it still holds on, and still is glad of the light;
and it seems, if all life were to begin over again the soul would
not shrink even from that; though maybe such a thought is sinful."

"Why sinful?"

"Such a thought is a dream, and the old monk should take leave with
blissful resignation.  Again, if one goes to meet death with murmur
or repining that is a great sin, but if from the gladness of the
spirit one has grown to love life, I fancy God will forgive, even a
monk.  It's hard for a man to tell of every sin what is sinful and
what is not; therein is mystery passing the mind of man.  A monk
must be content at all times, and ought to die in the full light of
his understanding, in holy peace and blessedness, filled full with
days, yearning for his last hour, and rejoicing when he is gathered
as the ear of wheat to the sheaf, and has fulfilled his mystery."

"You keep talking of 'mystery'; what does it mean 'having fulfilled
his mystery'?" I asked, and looked round towards the door.  I was
glad that we were alone, and that all around the stillness was
unbroken.  The setting sun cast a dazzling light on the window.
His talk was rather highflown and rambling, but very sincere; there
was a sort of intense exaltation in it, as though he really were
delighted at my coming.  But I noticed unmistakable signs that he
was feverish, extremely so in fact.  I, too, was ill; I, too, had
been in a fever, from the moment I went in to him.

"What is the mystery?  Everything is a mystery, dear; in all is
God's mystery.  In every tree, in every blade of grass that same
mystery lies hid.  Whether the tiny bird of the air is singing, or
the stars in all their multitudes shine at night in heaven, the
mystery is one, ever the same.  And the greatest mystery of all is
what awaiteth the soul of man in the world beyond.  So it is,

"I don't know in what sense you . . .  I am not speaking, of
course, to tease you, and I assure you I believe in God; but all
these mysteries have long been discovered by human intelligence, or
if they have not yet been discovered they will be, for certain, and
probably in a very short time.  The botanist knows perfectly well
how the tree grows.  The psychologist and the anatomist know why
the bird sings, or soon will know, and as for the stars, they are
not only all counted, but all their motions have been calculated
with the greatest exactitude, so that they can predict even a
thousand years beforehand the very minute of the appearance of some
comet . . . and now even the composition of the most remote star is
known.  You take a microscope, that is a sort of magnifying glass
that magnifies a thousand times, and look through it at a drop of
water, and you will see in it a whole new world, a whole world of
living creatures, yet this, too, was once a mystery, but it has
been revealed by science."

"I've heard about that, darling, I have heard folk tell of it more
than once.  To be sure, it's a great and glorious thing; all has
been vouchsafed to man by God's will; not for naught did the Lord
breathe into him the breath of life; 'live and learn.'"

"That's a commonplace.  You're not antagonistic to science though,
not a clerical? though I don't know whether you'll understand?"

"No, darling, I did not study science in my youth, and though I am
not learned I do not repine at that; if it's not for me it will be
for another.  Maybe better so, for every man has his allotted part,
for science, dear, is not of use for all.  All men are unbridled,
each wants to astonish all the world, and I should have perhaps
more than all if I had been learned.  But now being very unlearned,
how can I be puffed up when I know nothing?  You, now, are young
and clever, you must study--such is the lot ordained you.
Understand all things, that when you meet an infidel or an evil-
doer you may be able to answer him, and he may not lead you astray
with his frantic words, or confound your unripe thoughts.  That
glass I saw not so long ago."

He took breath and heaved a sigh.  There was no doubt that my
coming in was a source of great satisfaction to him.  His desire to
be communicative was almost morbid.  What is more, I am certainly
not mistaken in declaring that at moments he looked at me with
extraordinary affection; he laid his hand on mine caressingly,
stroked me on the shoulder . . . though there were minutes when I
must confess he seemed to forget all about me, as though he had
been sitting alone, and though he went on talking warmly, it seemed
at times as though he were talking to the air.

"In the Gennadiev desert, dear, there lives a man of great
understanding.  He is of noble birth, and by rank a major, and he
has great possessions.  When he lived in the world he would not be
bound by marriage; he has been withdrawn from the world for nearly
ten years, loving still and silent resting-places, and keeping his
heart free from worldly vanities.  He follows all the monastic
rules, but will not become a monk, and he has so many books, dear,
as I have never seen in any other man's possession; he told me
himself that his books were worth eight thousand roubles.  His name
is Pyotr Valerianitch.  He has taught me a great deal at different
times, and I loved listening to him exceedingly.  I said to him
once:  'How is it, sir, that with your great understanding, after
living here ten years in monastic obedience, and in complete
renunciation of your will, how is it you don't take honourable
vows, so as to be still more perfect,' and he said to me thereupon,
"You talk of my understanding, old man, but perhaps my
understanding has held me in bondage and I have not kept it in
submission.  And you speak of my obedience; maybe I've long since
lost the right measure for myself.  And you talk of the
renunciation of my will; I am ready to be deprived of my money on
the spot and to give up my rank and to lay all my medals and
ribbons on the table, but my pipe of tobacco, though I've been
struggling for ten years, I can't do without.  What sort of a monk
should I be, and how could you glorify the renunciation of my
will?'  And I marvelled then at this humility.  Well, last year,
about St. Peter's day, I went again to that desert--the Lord led me
there--and I saw standing in his cell that very thing, a
microscope; he had ordered it for a great sum of money from abroad.
'Stay,' said he, 'old man, I'll show you a marvellous thing you
have never hitherto looked upon; you see a drop of water as pure as
a tear; well, look what is in it and you will see that the
mechanicians will soon seek out all the mysteries of God and not
leave one for either you or me!'  That is what he said, I remember.
But I had looked through such a microscope thirty-five years before
that, at Alexandr Vladimirovitch Malgasov's, who was our old
master, Andrey Petrovitch's maternal uncle.  It was from him the
property came on his death to Andrey Petrovitch.  He was a grand
gentleman, a great general, and he used to keep a pack of hounds,
and I lived many years with him as huntsman; so he, too, set up
this microscope; he brought it with him, and he told all the
servants to come up one after another, male and female, and look
through; he showed them a flea and a louse and the end of a needle,
and a hair and a drop of water.  And it was diverting, they were
afraid to go up and afraid of the master--he was hasty.  Some did
not know how to look properly, and the elder saw nothing; others
were frightened and cried out; the elder Savin Makarov covered his
eyes with both hands and cried, 'Do what you will with me, I won't
go near!'  There was much foolish laughter.  I didn't confess to
Pyotr Valerianitch, though, that I had seen this marvel before more
than thirty-five years ago, because I saw it was a great pleasure
to him showing it; I began, on the contrary, admiring it and
marvelling.  He waited a bit and asked, 'Well, old man, what do you
say now?'  And I lifted myself up and said to him, 'The Lord said,
Let there be light and there was light,' and thereupon he said to
me all at once, 'And was there not darkness?'  And he said that so
strangely, he did not even laugh.  I wondered at him then, and he
seemed to be angered and said no more."

"The fact of the matter is your Pyotr Valerianitch is eating rice
and raisins in the monastery, and bowing to the ground, while he
does not believe in God, and you hit on the wrong moment, that's
all," I said.  "And what's more, he is rather an absurd person: I
suppose he must have seen that microscope a dozen times before, why
should he go off his head when he saw it for the thirteenth?  What
nervous susceptibility . . . he must have got that from living in a

"He was a man of pure life and lofty mind," the old man pronounced
impressively, "and he was not an infidel.  There was a cloud over
his mind and his heart was not at peace.  Very many such men have
come nowadays from the ranks of the gentry and learned.  And
something more I will tell you, a man punishes himself.  But you
watch them and do not worry them, and before you lie down to sleep
at night remember them in your prayers, for such are seeking God.
Do you pray at night?"

"No, I regard it as an empty ceremony.  I must own, though, that I
like your Pyotr Valerianitch.  He's not a man of straw, anyway, but
a real person, rather like a man very near and well-known to us

The old man only paid attention to the first part of my answer.

"You're wrong, my dear, not to pray; it is a good thing, it cheers
the heart before sleep, and rising up from sleep and awakening in
the night.  Let me tell you this.  In the summer in July we were
hastening to the monastery of Our Lady for the holy festival.  The
nearer we got to the place the greater the crowd of people, and at
last there were almost two hundred of us gathered together, all
hastening to kiss the holy and miraculous relics of the two great
saints, Aniky and Grigory.  We spent the night, brother, in the
open country, and I waked up early in the morning when all was
still sleeping and the dear sun had not yet peeped out from behind
the forest.  I lifted up my head, dear, I gazed about me and
sighed.  Everywhere beauty passing all utterance!  All was still,
the air was light; the grass grows--Grow, grass of God, the bird
sings--Sing, bird of God, the babe cries in the woman's arms--God
be with you, little man; grow and be happy, little babe!  And it
seemed that only then for the first time in my life I took it all
in. . . .  I lay down again, I slept so sweetly.  Life is sweet,
dear!  If I were better,  I should like to go out again in the
spring.  And that it's a mystery makes it only the better; it fills
the heart with awe and wonder and that awe maketh glad the heart:
'All is in Thee my Lord, and I, too, am in Thee; have me in Thy
keeping.'  Do not repine, young man; it is even more beautiful
because it is a mystery," he added fervently.

"It's the more beautiful for being a mystery. . . .  I will
remember those words.  You express yourself very inaccurately, but
I understand you. . . .  It strikes me that you understand and know
a great deal more than you can express; only you seem to be in
delirium." . . . I added abruptly, looking at his feverish eyes and
pale face.  But he did not seem to hear my words.

"Do you know, dear young man," he began again, as though going on
with what he had been saying before:  "Do you know there is a limit
to the memory of a man on this earth?  The memory of a man is
limited to a hundred years.  For a hundred years after his death
his children or his grandchildren who have seen his face can still
remember him, but after that though his memory may still remain, it
is only by hearsay, in thought, for all who have seen his living
face have gone before.  And his grave in the churchyard is
overgrown with grass, the stones upon it crumble away, and all men,
and even his children's children, forget him; afterwards they
forget even his name, for only a few are kept in the memory of men--
and so be it!  You may forget me, dear ones, but I love you from
the tomb.  I hear, my children, your gay voices; I hear your steps
on the graves of your kin; live for a while in the sunshine,
rejoice and I will pray to God for you, I will come to you in your
dreams . . . it is all the same--even in death is love! . . . ."

I was myself in the same feverish state as he was; instead of going
away or persuading him to be quiet, or perhaps putting him to bed,
for he seemed quite delirious, I suddenly seized his arm and
bending down to him and squeezing his hand, I said in an excited
whisper, with inward tears:

"I am glad of you.  I have been waiting a long time for you,
perhaps.  I don't like any of them; there is no 'seemliness' in
them . . . I won't follow them, I don't know where I'm going, I'll
go with you." . . .  But luckily mother suddenly came in, or I
don't know how it would have ended.  She came in only just awake
and looking agitated; in her hand she had a tablespoon and a glass;
seeing us she exclaimed:

"I knew it would be so!  I am late with his quinine and he's all in
a fever!  I overslept myself, Makar Ivanovitch, darling!"

I got up and went out.  She gave him his quinine and put him to
bed.  I, too, lay down on mine in a state of great excitement.  I
tossed about pondering on this meeting with intense interest and
curiosity.  What I expected from it I don't know.  Of course, my
reasoning was disconnected, and not thoughts but fragments of
thoughts flitted through my brain.  I lay with my face to the wall,
and suddenly I saw in the corner the patch of glowing light which I
had been looking forward to with such curses, and now I remember my
whole soul seemed to be leaping for joy, and a new light seemed
penetrating to my heart.  I remember that sweet moment and I do not
want to forget it.  It was only an instant of new hope and new
strength. . . .  I was convalescent then, and therefore such
transports may have been the inevitable result of the state of my
nerves; but I have faith even now in that bright hope--that is what
I wanted to record and to recall.  Of course, even then I knew
quite well that I should not go on a pilgrimage with Makar
Ivanovitch, and that I did not know the nature of the new impulse
that had taken hold of me, but I had pronounced one word, though in
delirium, "There is no seemliness in their lives!"  "Of course," I
thought in a frenzy, "from this minute I am seeking 'seemliness,'
and they have none of it, and that is why I am leaving them."

There was a rustle behind me, I turned round: mother stood there
bending down to me and looking with timid inquiry into my face.  I
took her hand.

"Why did you tell me nothing about our dear guest, mother?" I asked
suddenly, not knowing I was going to say it.  All the uneasiness
vanished from her face at once, and there was a flush as it were of
joy, but she made me no reply except the words:

"Liza, don't forget Liza, either; you've forgotten Liza."

She said this in a hurried murmur, flushing crimson, and would have
made haste to get away, for above all things she hated displaying
her feelings, and in that she was like me, that is reverent and
delicate; of course, too, she would not care to begin on the
subject of Makar Ivanovitch with me; what we could say to each
other with our eyes was quite enough.  But though I hated
demonstrativeness, I still kept her by her hand; I looked tenderly
into her eyes, and laughed softly and tenderly, and with my other
hand stroked her dear face, her hollow cheeks.  She bent down and
pressed her forehead to mine.

"Well, Christ be with you," she said suddenly, standing up, beaming
all over: "get well, I shall count on your doing so.  He is ill,
very ill.  Life is in God's hands. . . .  Ach, what have I said, oh
that could not be! . . ."

She went away.  All her life, in fear and trembling and reverence,
she had honoured her legal husband, the monk, Makar Ivanovitch, who
with large-hearted generosity had forgiven her once and for ever.



I had not 'forgotten' Liza; mother was mistaken.  The keen-sighted
mother saw that there was something like coolness between brother
and sister, but it was rather jealousy than lack of love.  In view
of what followed, I will explain in a couple of words.  Ever since
Prince Sergay's arrest, poor Liza had shown a sort of conceited
pride, an unapproachable haughtiness, almost unendurable; but every
one in the house knew the truth and understood how she was
suffering, and if at first I scowled and was sulky at her manner
with us, it was simply owing to my petty irritability, increased
tenfold by illness--that is how I explain it now.  I had not ceased
to love Liza; on the contrary, I loved her more than ever, only I
did not want to be the first to make advances, though I understood
that nothing would have induced her either to make the first

As soon as all the facts came out about Prince Sergay, that is,
immediately after his arrest, Liza made haste at once to take up an
attitude to us, and to every one else, that would not admit of the
possibility of sympathy or any sort of consolation and excuses for
Prince Sergay.  On the contrary, she seemed continually priding
herself on her luckless lover's action as though it were the
loftiest heroism, though she tried to avoid all discussion of the
subject.  She seemed every moment to be telling us all (though I
repeat that she did not utter a word), 'None of you would do the
same--you would not give yourself up at the dictates of honour and
duty, none of you have such a pure and delicate conscience!  And as
for his misdeeds, who has not evil actions upon his conscience?
Only every one conceals them, and this man preferred facing ruin to
remaining ignoble in his own eyes.'  This seemed to be expressed by
every gesture Liza made.  I don't know, but I think in her place I
should have behaved almost in the same way.  I don't know either
whether those were the thoughts in her heart, in fact I privately
suspect that they were not.  With the other, clear part of her
reason, she must have seen through the insignificance of her
'hero,' for who will not agree now that that unhappy man, noble-
hearted in his own way as he was, was at the same time an
absolutely insignificant person?  This very haughtiness and as it
were antagonism towards us all, this constant suspiciousness that
we were thinking differently of him, made one surmise that in the
secret recesses of her heart a very different judgment of her
unhappy friend had perhaps been formed.  But I hasten to add,
however, that in my eyes she was at least half right; it was more
pardonable for her than for any of us to hesitate in drawing the
final conclusion.  I will admit with my whole heart that even now,
when all is over, I don't know at all how to judge the unhappy man
who was such a problem to us all.

Home was beginning to be almost a little hell on account of her.
Liza whose love was so intense was bound to suffer terribly.  It
was characteristic of her to prefer to suffer in silence.  Her
character was like mine, proud and domineering, and I thought then,
and I think now that it was that that made her love Prince Sergay,
just because he had no will at all, and that from the first word,
from the first hour, he was utterly in subjection to her.  This
comes about of itself, in the heart, without any preliminary
calculation; but such a love, the love of the strong woman for the
weak man, is sometimes incomparably more intense and more agonizing
than the love of equal characters, because the stronger
unconsciously undertakes responsibility for the weaker.  That is
what I think at any rate.

All the family from the first surrounded her with the tenderest
care, especially mother; but Liza was not softened, she did not
respond to sympathy, and seemed to repulse every sort of help.
At first she did talk to mother, but every day she became more
reluctant to speak, more abrupt and even more harsh.  She asked
Versilov's advice at first, but soon afterwards she chose Vassin
for her counsellor and helper, as I learned afterwards with
surprise. . . .

She went to see Vassin every day; she went to the law courts, too,
by Prince Sergay's instructions; she went to the lawyers, to the
crown prosecutor; she came in the end to being absent from home for
whole days together.  Twice a day, of course, she visited Prince
Sergay, who was in prison, in the division for noblemen, but these
interviews, as I was fully convinced later, were very distressing
to Liza.  Of course no third person can judge of the relations of
two lovers.  But I know that Prince Sergay was always wounding her
deeply, and by what do you suppose?  Strange to say, by his
continual jealousy.  Of that, however, I will speak later; but I
will add one thought on the subject: it would be hard to decide
which of them tormented the other more.  Though with us she prided
herself on her hero, Liza perhaps behaved quite differently alone
with him; I suspect so indeed from various facts, of which,
however, I will also speak later.

And so, as regards my feeling and my attitude towards Liza, any
external change there was was only simulated, a jealous deception
on both sides, but we had never loved each other more than at that
time.  I must add, too, that though Liza showed surprise and
interest when Makar Ivanovitch first arrived, she had since for
some reason begun to treat him almost disdainfully, even
contemptuously.  She seemed intentionally to take not the slightest
notice of him.

Having inwardly vowed "to be silent," as I explained in the
previous chapter, I expected, of course theoretically, that is in
my dreams, to keep my word.  Oh, with Versilov, for instance, I
would have sooner begun talking of zoology or of the Roman
Emperors, than of HER for example, or of that most important line
in his letter to her, in which he informed her that 'the document
was not burnt but in existence'--a line on which I began pondering
to myself again as soon as I had begun to recover and come to my
senses after my fever.  But alas! from the first steps towards
practice, and almost before the first steps, I realized how
difficult and impossible it was to stick to such resolutions: the
day after my first acquaintance with Makar Ivanovitch, I was
fearfully excited by an unexpected circumstance.


I was excited by an unexpected visit from Darya Onisimovna, the
mother of the dead girl, Olya.  From my mother I had heard that she
had come once or twice during my illness, and that she was very
much concerned about my condition.  Whether "that good woman," as
my mother always called her when she spoke of her, had come
entirely on my account, or whether she had come to visit my mother
in accordance with an established custom, I did not ask.  Mother
usually told me all the news of the household to entertain me when
she came with my soup to feed me (before I could feed myself): I
always tried to appear uninterested in these domestic details, and
so I did not ask about Darya Onisimovna; in fact, I said nothing
about her at all.

It was about eleven o'clock; I was just meaning to get out of bed
and install myself in the armchair by the table, when she came in.
I purposely remained in bed.  Mother was very busy upstairs and did
not come down, so that we were left alone.  She sat down on a chair
by the wall facing me, smiled and said not a word.  I foresaw this
pause, and her entrance altogether made an irritating impression on
me.  Without even nodding to her, I looked her straight in the
face, but she too looked straight at me.

"Are you dull in your flat now the prince has gone?" I asked,
suddenly losing patience.

"No, I am not in that flat now.  Through Anna Andreyevna I am
looking after his honour's baby now."

"Whose baby?"

"Andrey Petrovitch's," she brought out in a confidential whisper,
glancing round towards the door.

"Why, but there's Tatyana Pavlovna. . . ."

"Yes, Tatyana Pavlovna, and Anna Andreyevna, both of them, and
Lizaveta Makarovna also, and your mamma . . . all of them.  They
all take an interest; Tatyana Pavlovna and Anna Andreyevna are
great friends now."

A piece of news!  She grew much livelier as she talked.  I looked
at her with hatred.

"You are much livelier than when you came to see me last."

"Oh, yes."

"I think, you've grown stouter?"

She looked strangely at me:

"I have grown very fond of her, very."

"Fond of whom?"

"Why, Anna Andreyevna.  Very fond.  Such a noble young lady, and
with such judgment. . . ."

"You don't say so!  What about her, how are things now?"

"She is very quiet, very."

"She was always quiet."


"If you've come here with scandal," I cried suddenly, unable to
restrain myself, "let me tell you that I won't have anything to do
with it, I have decided to drop . . . everything, every one. . . .
I don't care--I am going away! . . ."

I ceased suddenly, for I realized what I was doing.  I felt it
degrading to explain my new projects to her.  She heard me without
surprise and without emotion.  But again a pause followed, again
she got up, went to the door and peeped into the next room.  Having
assured herself that there was no one there, and we were alone, she
returned with great composure and sat down in the same place as

"You did that prettily!" I laughed suddenly.

"You are keeping on your lodging at the clerk's?" she asked
suddenly, bending a little towards me, and dropping her voice as
though this question were the chief object for which she had come.

"Lodging?  I don't know.  Perhaps I shall give it up.  How do I

"They are anxiously expecting you: the man's very impatient to see
you, and his wife too.  Andrey Petrovitch assured them you'd come
back for certain."

"But what is it to you?"

"Anna Andreyevna wanted to know, too; she was very glad to learn
that you were staying."

"How does she know so positively that I shall certainly stay on at
that lodging?"

I wanted to add, "And what is it to her," but I refrained from
asking through pride.

"And M. Lambert said the same thing, too."


"M. Lambert, he declared most positively to Andrey Petrovitch that
you would remain, and he assured Anna Andreyevna of it, too."

I felt shaken all over.  What marvels!  Then Lambert already knew
Versilov, Lambert had found his way to Versilov--Lambert and Anna
Andreyevna--he had found his way to her too!  I felt overcome with
fever, but I kept silent.  My soul was flooded with a terrible rush
of pride, pride or I don't know what.  But I suddenly said to
myself at that moment, "If I ask for one word in explanation, I
shall be involved in that world again, and I shall never have done
with it."  There was a glow of hate in my heart.  I resolutely made
up my mind to be mute, and to lie without moving; she was silent
too, for a full minute.

"What of Prince Nikolay Ivanovitch?" I asked suddenly, as though I
had taken leave of my senses.  The fact is, I asked simply to
change the subject, and again I chanced to ask the leading
question; like a madman I plunged back again into that world from
which I had just before, with such a shudder, resolved to flee.

"His honour is at Tsarskoe Syelo.  He is rather poorly; and as the
hot days have begun in town, they all advised him to move to their
house at Tsarskoe for the sake of the air."

I made no answer.

"Madame and Anna Andreyevna visit him there twice a week, they go

Anna Andreyevna and Madame (that is SHE) were friends then!  They
go together!  I did not speak.

"They have become so friendly, and Anna Andreyevna speaks so highly
of Katerina Nikolaevna. . . ."

I still remained silent.

"And Katerina Nikolaevna is in a whirl of society again; it's one
fete after another; she is making quite a stir; they say all the
gentlemen at court are in love with her . . . and everything's
over with M. Buring, and there's to be no wedding; so everybody
declares . . . it's been off ever since THEN."

That is since Versilov's letter.  I trembled all over, but I did
not utter a word.

"Anna Andreyevna is so sorry about Prince Sergay, and Katerina
Nikolaevna too, and they all say that he will be acquitted and that
Stebelkov will be condemned. . . ."

I looked at her with hatred.  She got up and suddenly bent down to

"Anna Andreyevna particularly told me to find out how you are," she
said quite in a whisper; "and she particularly begged you to go and
see her as soon as you begin to go out; good-bye.  Make haste and
get well and I'll tell her. . . ."

She went away.  I sat on the edge of the bed, a cold sweat came out
on my forehead, but I did not feel terror: the incredible and
grotesque news about Lambert and his machinations did not, for
instance, fill me with horror in the least, as might have been
expected from the dread, perhaps unaccountable, with which during
my illness and the early days of my convalescence I recalled my
meeting with him on that night.  On the contrary, in that first
moment of confusion, as I sat on the bed after Darya Onisimovna had
gone, my mind did not dwell on Lambert, but . . . more than all I
thought about the news of HER, of her rupture with Buring, and of
her success in society, of her fetes, of her triumphs, of the
"stir" she was making.  "She's making quite a stir," Darya
Onisimovna's phrase, was ringing in my ears.  And I suddenly felt
that I had not the strength to struggle out of that whirlpool; I
had known how to control myself, to hold my tongue and not to
question Darya Onisimovna after her tales of marvels!  An
overwhelming thirst for that life, for THEIR life, took possession
of my whole spirit and . . . and another blissful thirst which I
felt as a keen joy and an intense pain.  My thoughts were in a
whirl; but I let them whirl. . . .  "Why be reasonable," I felt.
"Even mother kept Lambert's coming a secret," I thought, in
incoherent snatches.  "Versilov must have told her not to speak of
it. . . .  I would rather die than ask Versilov about Lambert!"

"Versilov," the thought flashed upon me again.  "Versilov and
Lambert.  Oh, what a lot that's new among them!  Bravo, Versilov!
He frightened the German Buring with that letter; he libelled her,
la calomnie . . . il en reste tonjours quelque chose, and the
German courtier was afraid of the scandal.  Ha! ha! it's a lesson
for her."

"Lambert . . . surely Lambert hasn't found his way to her?  To be
sure he has!  Why shouldn't she have an intrigue with him?"

At this point I suddenly gave up pondering on this senseless
tangle, and sank back in despair with my head on my pillow.  "But
it shall not be," I exclaimed with sudden determination.  I jumped
out of bed, put on my slippers and dressing-gown, and went straight
to Makar Ivanovitch's room, as though there were in it a talisman
to repel all enticements, a means of salvation, and an anchor to
which I could cling.

It may really have been that I was feeling this at the time with my
whole soul; else why should I have leaped up with such a sudden and
irresistible impulse and rushed in to Makar Ivanovitch in such a
state of mind?


But to my surprise I found other people--my mother and the doctor--
with Makar Ivanovitch.  As I had for some reason imagined I should
find the old man alone, as he had been yesterday, I stopped short
in the doorway in blank amazement.  Before I had time to frown,
Versilov came in followed by Liza. . . .  So they had all met for
some reason in Makar Ivanovitch's room "just when they were not

"I have come to ask how you are," I said, going straight up to
Makar Ivanovitch.

"Thank you, my dear, I was expecting you; I knew you would come; I
was thinking of you in the night."

He looked into my face caressingly, and I saw that perhaps he liked
me best of them all, but I could not help seeing instantly that,
though his face was cheerful, his illness had made progress in the
night.  The doctor had only just been examining him very seriously.
I learned afterwards that the doctor (the same young man with whom
I had quarrelled had been treating Makar Ivanovitch ever since he
arrived) had been very attentive to the patient and had diagnosed a
complication of various diseases in him--but I don't know their
medical terms.  Makar Ivanovitch, as I observed from the first
glance, was on the warmest, friendliest terms with him; I disliked
that at that instant; but I was of course in a very bad mood at the

"Yes, Alexandr Semyonovitch, how is our dear invalid today,"
inquired Versilov.  If I had not been so agitated, it would have
been most interesting to me to watch Versilov's attitude to this
old man; I had wondered about it the day before.  What struck me
most of all now was the extremely soft and pleasant expression in
Versilov's face, there was something perfectly sincere in it.  I
have noted already, I believe, that Versilov's face became
wonderfully beautiful as soon as it became ever so little kindly.

"Why, we keep quarrelling," answered the doctor.

"With Makar Ivanovitch?  I don't believe it; it's impossible to
quarrel with him."

"But he won't obey; he doesn't sleep at night. . . ."

"Come give over, Alexandr Semyonovitch, that's enough scolding,"
said Makar Ivanovitch laughing.  "Well, Andrey Petrovitch, how have
they treated our good lady?  Here she's been sighing and moaning
all the morning, she's worrying," he added, indicating mother.

"Ach, Andrey Petrovitch," cried my mother, who was really very
uneasy ; "do make haste and tell us, don't keep us in suspense; how
has it been settled for her, poor thing?"

"They have found her guilty and sentenced her!"

"Ach!" cried my mother.

"But not to Siberia, don't distress yourself--to a fine of fifteen
roubles, that's all; it was a farce!"

He sat down, the doctor sat down too; they were talking of Tatyana
Pavlovna; I knew nothing yet of what had happened.  I sat down on
Makar Ivanovitch's left, and Liza sat opposite me on the right; she
evidently had some special sorrow of her own to-day, with which she
had come to my mother; there was a look of uneasiness and
irritation in her face.  At that moment we exchanged glances, and
I thought to myself, "we are both disgraced, and I must make the
first advances."  My heart was suddenly softened to her.  Versilov
meanwhile had begun describing what had happened that morning.

It seemed that Tatyana Pavlovna had had to appear before the
justice of the peace that morning, on a charge brought against her
by her cook.  The whole affair was utterly absurd; I have mentioned
already that the ill-tempered cook would sometimes, when she was
sulky, refuse to speak, and would not say a word to her mistress
for a whole week at a time.  I mentioned, too, Tatyana's weakness
in regard to her, how she put up with anything from her and
absolutely refused to get rid of her.  All these whimsical caprices
of old maiden ladies are, in my eyes, utterly beneath contempt and
so undeserving of attention.  And I only mention this story here
because this cook is destined to play a leading and momentous part
in the sequel of my story.

So Tatyana Pavlovna, driven out of all patience by the obstinate
Finnish woman, who had refused to answer a word for several days,
had suddenly at last struck her, a thing she had never done before.
Even then the cook did not utter the slightest sound, but the same
day she communicated the fact to a discharged midshipman called
Osyetrov, who earned a precarious existence by undertaking cases of
various sorts and of course, by getting up such cases as this for
the courts.  It had ended in Tatyana Pavlovna's being summoned
before the justice of the peace, and when the case was tried
Versilov had for some reason appeared as a witness.

Versilov described all this with extraordinary gaiety and humour,
so that even mother laughed; he even mimicked Tatyana Pavlovna and
the midshipman and the cook.  The cook had from the very beginning
announced to the court that she wanted a money fine, "For if they
put my mistress in prison, whom am I going to cook for?"  In answer
to the judge, Tatyana Pavlovna answered with immense condescension,
not even deigning to defend herself; on the contrary, she had
concluded with the words, "I did beat her and I shall do it again,"
whereupon she was promptly fined three roubles for her impudent
answer.  The midshipman, a lean lanky young man, would have begun
with a long speech in defence of his client, but broke down
disgracefully to the amusement of the whole court.

The hearing was soon over, and Tatyana Pavlovna was condemned to
pay fifteen roubles to the injured Marya.

Tatyana Pavlovna promptly drew out her purse, and proceeded on the
spot to pay the money, whereupon the midshipman at once approached
her, and was putting out his hand to take it, but Tatyana Pavlovna
thrust aside his hand, almost with a blow, and turned to Marya.
"Don't you trouble, madam, you needn't put yourself out, put it
down in our accounts, I'll settle with this fellow."  "See, Marya,
what a lanky fellow you've picked out for yourself," said Tatyana
Pavlovna, pointing to the midshipman, hugely delighted that Marya
had spoken to her at last.

"He is a lanky one to be sure," Marya answered slily.  "Did you
order cutlets with peas?  I did not hear this morning, I was in a
hurry to get here."  "Oh no, with cabbage, Marya, and please don't
burn it to a cinder, as you did yesterday."  "No, I'll do my best
to-day, madam, let me have your hand," and she kissed her
mistress's hand in token of reconciliation; she entertained the
whole court in fact.

"Ah, what a woman!" said mother, shaking her head, very much
pleased with the news and Andrey Petrovitch's account of it, though
she looked uneasily on the sly at Liza.

"She has been a self-willed lady from her childhood," smiled Makar

"Spleen and idleness," opined the doctor.

"Is it I am self-willed?  Is it I am spleen and idleness?" asked
Tatyana Pavlovna, coming in upon us suddenly, evidently very well
pleased with herself.  "It's not for you to talk nonsense, Alexandr
Semyonovitch; when you were ten years old, you knew whether I was
idle, and you've been treating yourself for spleen for the last
year and have not been able to cure yourself, so you ought to be
ashamed; well, you've picked me to pieces enough; thanks for
troubling to come to the court, Andrey Petrovitch.  Well, how are
you, Makarushka; it's only you I've come to see, not this fellow,"
she pointed to me, but at once gave me a friendly pat on the
shoulder; I had never before seen her in such a good humour.
"Well, how is he?" turning suddenly to the doctor and frowning

"Why, he won't lie in bed, and he only tires himself out sitting up
like this."

"Why, I only sit up like this a little, with company," Makar
Ivanovitch murmured with a face of entreaty, like a child's.

"Yes, we like this, we like this; we like a little gossip when our
friends gather round us; I know Makarushka," said Tatyana Pavlovna.

"Yes you're a quick one, you are!  And there's no getting over you;
wait a bit, let me speak: I'll lie down, darling, I'll obey, but
you know, to my thinking, 'If you take to your bed, you may never
get up,' that's what I've got at the back of my head, friend."

"To be sure I knew that was it, peasant superstitions:  'If I take
to my bed,' they say, 'ten to one I shan't get up,' that's what the
peasants very often fear, and they would rather keep on their legs
when they're ill than go to a hospital.  As for you, Makar
Ivanovitch, you're simply home-sick for freedom, and the open road--
that's all that's the matter with you, you've got out of the habit
of staying long in one place.  Why, you're what's called a pilgrim,
aren't you?  And tramping is almost a passion in our peasantry.
I've noticed it more than once in them, our peasants are tramps
before everything."

"Then Makar is a tramp according to you?" Tatyana Pavlovna caught
him up.

"Oh, I did not mean that, I used the word in a general sense.  Well
yes, a religious tramp, though he is a holy man, yet he is a tramp.
In a good respectful sense, but a tramp. . . .  I speak from the
medical point of view. . . ."

"I assure you," I addressed the doctor suddenly: "that you and I
and all the rest here are more like tramps than this old man from
whom you and I ought to learn, too, because he has a firm footing
in life, while we all of us have no firm standpoint at all. . . .
But how should you understand that, though!"

I spoke very cuttingly, it seemed, but I had come in feeling upset.
I don't know why I went on sitting there, and felt as though I were
beside myself.

"What are you saying?" said Tatyana Pavlovna, looking at me
suspiciously.  "How did you find him, Makar Ivanovitch?" she asked,
pointing her finger at me.

"God bless him, he's a sharp one," said the old man, with a serious
air, but at the words "sharp one" almost every one laughed.  I
controlled myself somehow; the doctor laughed more than anyone.  It
was rather unlucky that I did not know at the time of a previous
compact between them.  Versilov, the doctor, and Tatyana Pavlovna
had agreed three days before to do all they could to distract
mother from brooding and apprehension on account of Makar
Ivanovitch, whose illness was far more dangerous and hopeless than
I had any suspicion of then.  That's why they were all making
jokes, and trying to laugh.  Only the doctor was stupid, and did
not know how to make jokes naturally: that was the cause of all
that followed.  If I had known of their agreement at that time, I
should not have done what I did.  Liza knew nothing either.

I sat listening with half my mind; they talked and laughed and all
the time my head was full of Darya Onisimovna, and her news, and I
could not shake off the thought of her; I kept picturing how she
had sat and looked, and had cautiously got up, and peeped into the
next room.  At last they all suddenly laughed.  Tatyana Pavlovna, I
don't in the least know why, called the doctor an infidel:  "Why,
all you doctors are infidels!"

"Makar Ivanovitch!" said the doctor, very stupidly pretending to be
offended and to be appealing to him as an umpire, "am I an

"You an infidel?  No you are not an infidel," the old man answered
sedately, looking at him instantly.  "No, thank God!" he said,
shaking his head: "you are a merry-hearted man."

"And if a man's merry-hearted, he's not an infidel?" the doctor
observed ironically.

"That's in its own way an idea," observed Versilov; he was not
laughing, however.

"It's a great idea," I could not help exclaiming, struck by the

The doctor looked round inquiringly.

"These learned people, these same professors" (probably they had
been talking about professors just before), began Makar Ivanovitch,
looking down: "at the beginning, ough, I was frightened of them.  I
was in terror in their presence, for I dreaded an infidel more than
anything.  I have only one soul, I used to think; what if I lose
it, I shan't be able to find another; but, afterwards, I plucked up
heart.  'After all,' I thought, 'they are not gods but just the
same as we are, men of like passions with ourselves.'  And my
curiosity was great.  'I shall find out,' I thought, 'what this
infidelity is like.'  But afterwards even that curiosity passed

He paused, though he meant to go on, still with the same gentle
sedate smile.  There are simple souls who put complete trust in
every, one, and have no suspicion of mockery.  Such people are
always of limited intelligence, for they are always ready to
display all that is precious in their hearts to every newcomer.
But in Makar Ivanovitch I fancied there was something else, and the
impulse that led him to speak was different, and not only the
innocence of simplicity: one caught glimpses as it were of the
missionary in him.  I even caught, with pleasure, some sly glances
he bent upon the doctor, and even perhaps on Versilov.  The
conversation was evidently a continuation of a previous discussion
between them the week before, but unluckily the fatal phrase which
had so electrified me the day before cropped up in it again, and
led me to an outburst which I regret to this day.

"I am afraid of the unbeliever, even now perhaps," the old man
went on with concentrated intensity; "only, friend Alexandr
Semyonovitch, I tell you what, I've never met an infidel, but I
have met worldly men; that's what one must call them.  They are of
all sorts, big and little, ignorant and learned, and even some of
the humblest class, but it's all vanity.  They read and argue all
their lives, filling themselves with the sweetness of books, while
they remain in perplexity and can come to no conclusion.  Some
quite let themselves go, and give up taking notice of themselves.
Some grow harder than a stone and their hearts are full of
wandering dreams; others become heartless and frivolous, and all
they can do is to mock and jeer.  Another will, out of books,
gather some flowers, and those according to his own fancy; but he
still is full of vanity, and there is no decision in him.  And then
again: there is a great deal of dreariness.  The small man is in
want, he has no bread and naught to keep his babes alive with, he
sleeps on rough straw, and all the time his heart is light and
merry; he is coarse and sinful, yet his heart is light.  But the
great man drinks too much, and eats too much, and sits on a pile of
gold, yet there is nothing in his heart but gloom.  Some have been
through all the sciences, and are still depressed, and I fancy that
the more intellect a man has, the greater his dreariness.  And then
again: they have been teaching ever since the world began, and to
what good purpose have they taught, that the world might be fairer
and merrier, and the abode of every sort of joy?  And another thing
I must tell you: they have no seemliness, they don't even want it
at all; all are ruined, but they boast of their own destruction;
but to return to the one Truth, they never think; and to live
without God is naught but torment.  And it seems that we curse that
whereby we are enlightened and know it not ourselves: and what's
the sense of it?  It's impossible to be a man and not bow down to
something; such a man could not bear the burden of himself, nor
could there be such a man.  If he rejects God, then he bows down to
an idol--fashioned of wood, or of gold, or of thought.  They are
all idolaters and not infidels, that is how we ought to describe
them--though we can't say there are no infidels.  There are men who
are downright infidels, only they are far more terrible than those
others, for they come with God's name on their lips.  I have heard
of them more than once, but I have not met them at all.  There are
such, friend, and I fancy, too, that there are bound to be."

"There are, Makar Ivanovitch," Versilov agreed suddenly: "there are
such, 'and there are bound to be.'"

"There certainly are, and 'there are certainly bound to be,'" I
burst out hotly, and impulsively, I don't know why; but I was
carried away by Versilov's tone, and fascinated by a sort of idea
in the words "there are bound to be."  The conversation was an
absolute surprise to me.  But at that minute something happened
also quite unexpected.


It was a very bright day; by the doctor's orders Makar Ivanovitch's
blind was as a rule not drawn up all day; but there was a curtain
over the window now, instead of the blind, so that the upper part
of the window was not covered; this was because the old man was
miserable at not seeing the sun at all when he had the blind, and
as we were sitting there the sun's rays fell suddenly full upon
Makar Ivanovitch's face.  At first, absorbed in conversation, he
took no notice of it, but mechanically as he talked he several
times turned his head on one side, because the bright sunlight hurt
and irritated his bad eyes.  Mother, standing beside him, glanced
several times uneasily towards the window; all that was wanted was
to screen the window completely with something, but to avoid
interrupting the conversation she thought it better to try and move
the bench on which Makar Ivanovitch was sitting a little to the
right.  It did not need to be moved more than six or at the most
eight inches.  She had bent down several times and taken hold of
the bench, but could not move it; the bench with Makar Ivanovitch
sitting on it would not move.  Feeling her efforts unconsciously,
in the heat of conversation, Makar Ivanovitch several times tried
to get up, but his legs would not obey him.  But mother went on
straining all her strength to move it, and at last all this
exasperated Liza horribly.  I noticed several angry irritated looks
from her, but for the first moment I did not know to what to
ascribe them, besides I was carried away by the conversation.  And
I suddenly heard her almost shout sharply to Makar Ivanovitch:

"Do get up, if it's ever so little: you see how hard it is for

The old man looked at her quickly, instantly grasped her meaning,
and hurriedly tried to stand up, but without success; he raised
himself a couple of inches and fell back on the bench.

"I can't, my dearie," he answered plaintively, looking, as it were,
meekly at Liza.

"You can talk by the hour together, but you haven't the strength to
stir an inch!"

"Liza!" cried Tatyana Pavlovna.  Makar Ivanovitch made another
great effort.

"Take your crutches, they are lying beside you; you can get up with
your crutches!" Liza snapped out again.

"To be sure," said the old man, and he made haste to pick up his

"He must be lifted!" said Versilov, standing up; the doctor, too,
moved, and Tatyana Pavlovna ran up, but before they had time to
reach him Makar Ivanovitch, leaning on the crutches, with a
tremendous effort, suddenly raised himself and stood up, looking
round with a triumphant air.

"There, I have got up!" he said almost with pride, laughing
gleefully; "thank you, my dear, you have taught me a lesson, and
I thought that my poor legs would not obey me at all. . . ."

But he did not remain standing long; he had hardly finished
speaking, when his crutch, on which he was leaning with the whole
weight of his body, somehow slipped on the rug, and as his "poor
legs" were scarcely any support at all, he fell heavily full length
on the floor.  I remember it was almost horrible to see.  All cried
out, and rushed to lift him up, but, thank God, he had broken no
bones; he had only knocked his knees with a heavy thud against the
floor, but he had succeeded in putting out his right hand and
breaking his fall with it.  He was picked up and seated on the bed.
He was very pale, not from fright, but from the shock.  (The doctor
had told them that he was suffering more from disease of the heart
than anything.)  Mother was beside herself with fright, and still
pale, trembling all over and still a little bewildered, Makar
Ivanovitch turned suddenly to Liza, and almost tenderly, in a soft
voice, said to her:

"No, my dearie, my legs really won't hold me!"

I cannot express what an impression this made on me, at the time.
There was not the faintest note of complaint or reproach in the
poor old man's words; on the contrary, it was perfectly evident
that he had not noticed anything spiteful in Liza's words, and had
accepted her shout as something quite befitting, that is, that it
was quite right to pitch into him for his remissness.  All this had
a very great effect on Liza too.  At the moment when he fell she
had rushed forward, like all the rest of us, and stood numb with
horror, and miserable, of course, at having caused it all; hearing
his words, she almost instantly flushed crimson with shame and

"That's enough!" Tatyana Pavlovna commanded suddenly: "this comes
of talking too much!  It's time we were off; it's a bad look-out
when the doctor himself begins to chatter!"

"Quite so," assented Alexandr Semyonovitch who was occupied with
the invalid.  "I'm to blame, Tatyana Pavlovna; he needs rest."

But Tatyana Pavlovna did not hear him: she had been for half a
minute watching Liza intently.

"Come here, Liza, and kiss me, that is if you care to kiss an old
fool like me," she said unexpectedly.

And she kissed the girl, I don't know why, but it seemed exactly
the right thing to do; so that I almost rushed to kiss Tatyana
Pavlovna myself.  What was fitting was not to overwhelm Liza with
reproach, but to welcome with joy and congratulation the new
feeling that must certainly have sprung up in her.  But instead of
all those feelings, I suddenly stood up and rapped out resolutely:

"Makar Ivanovitch, you used again the word 'seemliness,' and I have
been worrying about that word yesterday, and all these days . . .
in fact, all my life I have been worrying about it, only I didn't
know what it was.  This coincidence I look upon as momentous,
almost miraculous. . . .  I say this in your presence . . ."

But I was instantly checked.  I repeat I did not know their compact
about mother and Makar Ivanovitch; they considered me, of course
judging from my doings in the past, capable of making a scene of
any sort.

"Stop him, stop him!" cried Tatyana Pavlovna, utterly infuriated.
Mother began trembling.  Makar Ivanovitch, seeing the general
alarm, was alarmed too.

"Arkady, hush!" Versilov cried sternly.

"For me, my friends," I said raising my voice: "to see you all
beside this babe (I indicated Makar) is unseemly; there is only one
saint here--and that is mother, and even she . . ."

"You are alarming him," the doctor said emphatically.

"I know I am the enemy to every one in the world" (or something of
the sort), I began faltering, but looking round once more, I glared
defiantly at Versilov.

"Arkady," he cried again, "just such a scene has happened once here
already between us.  I entreat you, restrain yourself now!"

I cannot describe the intense feeling with which he said this.  A
deep sadness, sincere and complete, was manifest in his face.  What
was most surprising was that he looked as though he were guilty; as
though I were the judge, and he were the criminal.  This was the
last straw for me.

"Yes," I shouted to him in reply: "just such a scene we had before,
when I buried Versilov, and tore him out of my heart . . . but then
there followed a resurrection from the dead . . . but now . . . now
there will be no rising again!  But . . . but all of you here shall
see what I am capable of: you have no idea what I can show you!"

Saying this, I rushed into my room.  Versilov ran after me.


I had a relapse; I had a violent attack of fever, and by nightfall
was delirious.  But I was not all the time in delirium; I had
innumerable dreams, shapeless and following one another, in endless
succession.  One such dream or fragment of a dream I shall remember
as long as I live.  I will describe it without attempting to
explain it; it was prophetic and I cannot leave it out.

I suddenly found myself with my heart full of a grand and proud
design, in a large lofty room; I remember the room very well, it
was not at Tatyana Pavlovna's, I may observe, anticipating events.
But although I was alone, I felt continually with uneasiness and
discomfort that I was not alone at all, that I was awaited, and
that something was being expected of me.  Somewhere outside the
door people were sitting and waiting for what I was going to do.
The sensation was unendurable "Oh, if I could only be alone!"  And
suddenly SHE walked in.  She looked at me timidly, she was very
much afraid, she looked into my eyes.  IN MY HAND I HAD THE LETTER.
She smiled to fascinate me, she fawned upon me; I was sorry, but I
began to feel repulsion.  Suddenly she hid her face in her hands.
I flung the letter on the table with unutterable disdain, as much
as to say, "You needn't beg, take it, I want nothing of you!  I
revenge myself for all your insults by contempt."  I went out of
the room, choking with immense pride.  But at the door Lambert
clutched me in the darkness!  "Fool, fool!" he whispered, holding
me by the arm with all his might, "she will have to open a high-
class boarding-house for wenches in Vassilyevsky Island."  (N.B.--
to get her living, if her father, hearing of the letter from me,
were to deprive her of her inheritance, and drive her out of the
house.  I quote what Lambert said, word for word, as I dreamed it.)

"Arkady Makarovitch is in quest of 'seemliness,'" I heard the low
voice of Anna Andreyevna, somewhere close by on the stairs; but
there was a note, not of approval, but of insufferable mockery in
her words.  I returned to the room with Lambert.  But, seeing
Lambert, SHE began to laugh.  My first impression was one of
horrible dismay, such dismay that I stopped short and would not go
up to her.  I stared at her, and could not believe my eyes, as
though she had just thrown off a mask: the features were the same,
but each feature seemed distorted by an insolence that was beyond
all bounds.  "The ransom, the ransom, madam!" cried Lambert, and
both laughed louder than ever, while my heart went cold.  "Oh, can
that shameless creature be the woman one glance from whom set my
heart glowing with virtue!"

"You see what these proud creatures in their good society are ready
to do for money!" cried Lambert.  But the shameless creature was
not even abashed by that; she laughed at my being so horrified.
Oh, she was ready to pay the ransom, that I saw, and . . . and what
came over me?  I no longer felt pity or disgust; I was thrilled as
I had never been before. . . .  I was overwhelmed by a new and
indescribable feeling, such as I had never known before, and strong
as life itself. . . .  I could not have gone away now for anything
on earth!  Oh, how it pleased me that it was so shameful!  I
clutched her hands; the touch of her hands sent an agonizing thrill
through me, and I put my lips to her insolent crimson lips, that
invited me, quivering with laughter.

Oh, away with that vile memory?  Accursed dream!  I swear that
until that loathsome dream nothing like that shameful idea had ever
been in my mind.  There had never been even an unconscious dream of
the sort (though I had kept the "letter" sewn up in my pocket, and
I sometimes gripped my pocket with a strange smile).  How was it
all this came to me so complete?  It was because I had the soul of
a spider!  It shows that all this had long ago been hatching in my
corrupt heart, and lay latent in my desires, but my waking heart
was still ashamed, and my mind dared not consciously picture
anything of the sort.  But in sleep the soul presented and laid
bare all that was hidden in the heart, with the utmost accuracy, in
a complete picture and in prophetic form.  And was THAT what I had
threatened to SHOW them, when I had run out of Makar Ivanovitch's
room that morning?  But enough: for the time no more of this!  That
dream is one of the strangest things that has happened in my life.



Three days later I got up from my bed, and as soon as I was on my
legs I felt that I should not go back to it again.  I felt all over
that convalescence was at hand.  All these little details perhaps
would not be worth writing, but then several days followed which
were not remarkable for anything special that happened, and yet
have remained in my memory as something soothing and consolatory,
and that is rare in my reminiscences.  I will not for the time
attempt to define my spiritual condition; if I were to give an
account of it the reader would scarcely believe in it.  It will be
better for it to be made clear by facts themselves.  And so I will
only say one thing: let the reader remember the SOUL OF THE SPIDER;
and that in the man who longed to get away from them all, and from
the whole world for the sake of "seemliness!"  The longing for
"seemliness" was still there, of course, and very intense, but how
it could be linked with other longings of a very different sort is
a mystery to me.  It always has been a mystery, and I have
marvelled a thousand times at that faculty in man (and in the
Russian, I believe, more especially) of cherishing in his soul his
loftiest ideal side by side with the most abject baseness, and all
quite sincerely.  Whether this is breadth in the Russian which
takes him so far or simply baseness--that is the question!

But enough of that.  However that may be, a time of calm followed.
All I knew was that I must get well at all costs and as quickly as
possible that I might as soon as possible begin to act, and so I
resolved to live hygienically and to obey the doctor (whoever he
might be), disturbing projects I put off with great good sense (the
fruit of this same breadth) to the day of my escape, that is, to
the day of my complete recovery.  How all the peaceful impressions
and sensations in that time of stillness were consistent with the
painfully sweet and agitated throbbings of my heart when I dreamed
of violent decisions I do not know, but again I put it all down to
"breadth."  But there was no trace now of the restlessness I had
suffered from of late.  I put it all off for the time, and did not
tremble at the thought of the future as I had so recently, but
looked forward to it, like a wealthy man relying on his power and
his resources.  I felt more and more proud and defiant of the fate
awaiting me, and this was partly due, I imagine, to my actual
return to health, and the rapid recovery of my vital forces.  Those
few days of final and complete recovery I recall even now with
great pleasure.

Oh, they forgave me everything, that is my outburst, and these were
the people whom I had called "unseemly" to their faces!  That I
love in people; that is what I call intelligence of the heart;
anyway, this attracted me at once, to a certain degree, of course.
Versilov and I, for instance, talked together like the best of
friends, but only to a certain point: if at times we became ever so
little too expansive (and we were over-expansive at times) we
pulled ourselves up at once as though a trifle ashamed of
something.  There are cases when the victor cannot help feeling
abashed before the vanquished, and just because he has gained the
upper hand over him.  I was evidently the victor; and I was

That morning, that is the one on which I got up again after my
relapse, he came in to see me, and then I learned from him for the
first time of their compact in regard to mother and Makar
Ivanovitch.  He added that though the old man was better, the
doctor would not answer for the future.  I promised him with my
whole heart that I would be more careful of my behaviour in the
future.  While Versilov was telling me all this I detected for the
first time that he was most genuinely concerned about the old man,
far more, indeed, than I could have expected from a man like him:
and that he looked upon him as a being for some reason particularly
precious to himself, not simply for mother's sake.  This at once
interested me and almost surprised me, and I must confess if it had
not been for Versilov I should have overlooked and failed to
appreciate a great deal in this old man, who has left one of the
most lasting and original impressions on my mind.

Versilov seemed to be afraid of my attitude to Makar Ivanovitch,
that is he distrusted my intelligence and my tact, and he was
therefore particularly pleased afterwards when he discerned that I
knew how to behave with a man of quite different ideas and
conceptions, could, in fact, be broad-minded and make allowances.
I must confess, too (and I don't think it's humiliating to do so),
that in this man of the people I found something absolutely new to
me in regard to certain feelings and conceptions, something I had
known nothing of, something far more serene and consolatory than my
own previous ideas on those subjects.  It was none the less
impossible sometimes to keep from being impatient at some positive
superstitions in which he believed with the most revolting
placidity and steadfastness.  But this, of course, was only due to
his lack of education; his soul was rather happily constructed, so
much so that I have never met a man superior in that respect.


What attracted one first of all, as I have observed already, was
his extraordinary pure-heartedness and his freedom from amour-
propre; one felt instinctively that he had an almost sinless heart.
He had "gaiety" of heart, and therefore "seemliness."  The word
"gaiety" he was very fond of and often used.  He sometimes showed
an almost abnormal exaltation, an almost abnormal fervour, partly,
I imagine, because the fever never really left him; but that did
not mar his beautiful serenity.  There were contrasts in him, too:
side by side with his marvellous simplicity (at times, to my
vexation, he completely failed to detect irony) there was a sort of
sly subtlety, most frequently apparent in controversy.  And he was
fond of controversy, though at times only through caprice.  It was
evident that he had been on foot over a great part of Russia, had
heard a great deal; but I repeat, what he liked best of all was
religious emotion, and therefore everything that led up to it, and
he was fond of telling incidents that moved one to tenderness and

He was fond of telling stories in general.  I listened to many
tales from him of his own wanderings and various legends of the
lives of the "ascetics" of ancient times.  I'm not familiar with
these stories, but I believe that he told them all wrong, adapting
them for the most part from the traditions current among the
peasantry.  It was simply impossible to accept some of his
versions.  But together with evident distortions or even inventions
there were continual flashes of something wonderfully complete,
full of peasant feeling, and always touching. . . .  I recall, for
instance, one long story out of the life of "Marya of Egypt."  Of
this "life" and of all such "lives" I had had no idea at all till
then.  I frankly confess that it was almost impossible to hear the
story without tears, not from tender feeling, but from a sort of
strange ecstasy.  One felt something strange and burning like the
parched sandy desert upon which the holy woman wandered among
lions.  I don't want to talk of this though, and, indeed, I am not
competent to do so.

Apart from the tender feeling of his stories I particularly liked
certain extremely original views on disputed questions of modern
life.  He told me once, for instance, of something that had
happened recently with a retired soldier; he had almost witnessed
the incident.  A soldier had come home to his village from serving
in the army and did not like going back to live with peasants, the
peasants did not like him either.  The man went wrong, took to
drinking, and robbed some one.  There was no strong evidence
against him, but he was taken up and tried.  The lawyer was
defending him successfully--there was no proof against him, but
suddenly, after listening a long time, the prisoner suddenly stood
up and interrupted him.  "No, you stop," said be, and then he told
the whole story "to the tiniest grain of dust"; he confessed his
full guilt with tears and penitence.  The jury went out, were shut
up to confer, and suddenly they all came back.  "No, not guilty!"
Every one shouted, and rejoiced, and the soldier stood rooted to
the spot; he seemed turned into a post, and couldn't make head or
tail of it; he didn't understand a word of the judge's exhortation
to him when he dismissed him.  The soldier came out to freedom and
still couldn't believe it.  He began to fret, sank into brooding,
gave up eating and drinking, spoke to no one, and on the fifth day
he took and hanged himself.  "That's what it is to live with sin on
the soul," said Makar Ivanovitch in conclusion.  Of course that's a
foolish story, and there are masses of such stories nowadays in all
the newspapers, but I liked his tone, and most of all some phrases
of quite a new significance.  Describing, for instance, how the
soldier was disliked by the peasants when he went back to the
village, Makar Ivanovitch used the expression, "And we know what a
soldier is: a soldier's a peasant spoilt."  Speaking afterwards of
the lawyer who had almost won the case, he said:  "We know what a
lawyer is: a lawyer's a conscience for hire."  Both these
expressions he brought out without effort and almost without
noticing them, and yet those two utterances revealed a complete and
special attitude of mind on those subjects, not borrowed but
peculiar to Makar Ivanovitch if not to the whole peasantry.  These
judgments among the peasants in regard to certain subjects are
sometimes really marvellous in their originality.

"And how do you look upon the sin of suicide, Makar Ivanovitch?" I
asked him, apropos of the same story.

"Suicide is the greatest human sin," he answered with a sigh, "but
God alone is judge of it, for He alone knows all, every limit,
every measure.  We must pray without ceasing for such sinners.
Whenever you hear of such a sin pray fervently at bedtime for the
sinner; if only you breathe a sigh for him to God, even though you
don't know his name--the more acceptable will be your prayer for

"But will my prayer be any help to him if he is condemned already?"

"How can you tell?  There are many, ah, many without faith who
thereby confound those of little knowledge.  Heed them not, for
they know not what foolishness they are speaking.  The prayer of
the living for the condemned may still, in truth, benefit him.  So
what a plight for him who has no one to pray for him.  Therefore,
at your evening prayer say also at the end:  'Lord Jesus, have
mercy on all those also who have none to pray for them.'  Very
acceptable and pleasant will be this prayer.  Also for all living
sinners--'Lord, who holdest all destinies in Thy hand, save all
sinners that repent not!--that, too, is a good prayer."

I promised him I would pray, feeling that I was giving him immense
pleasure by this promise.  And his face did, in fact, beam with
joy; but I hasten to add that in such cases he did not take up a
superior attitude to me, as a monk speaking to a raw youth; on the
contrary, he very often liked listening to me.  He was never weary
in fact of hearing me talk on various subjects, realizing that
though a "youth" I was immeasurably superior to him in education.
He was very fond, for instance, of talking of the life of hermits
in the desert, and thought of the "desert" as something far above
"pilgrimage."  I hotly opposed him, laying stress on the egoism of
these people, who had abandoned the world and all the services they
might have rendered mankind, simply with the egoistic idea of their
own salvation.  At first he didn't quite understand; I suspect,
indeed, he didn't understand at all, but he zealously defended the
"desert."  "At first, of course, one grieves (that is when first
one goes to dwell in the desert), but then each day one is more
glad at heart, and at last one looks upon the face of God."

Then I drew a picture to him of the useful activity in the world of
the man of science, the doctor, or any friend of humanity, and
roused him to real enthusiasm, for I spoke with warmth; he kept
eagerly assenting to my words, "That's so, dear, that's so!  God
bless you, your thoughts are true."

But when I had finished he did not seem to agree entirely.

"To be sure, to be sure," he sighed deeply, "but are there many who
hold fast and are not led astray?  Though money be not their God,
yet it is a demi-god--a great temptation, and then there's the
female sex, and then doubt and envy.  And so they will forget their
great work, and will be absorbed in little things.  But in the
desert a man strengthens himself for every great deed.  My dear,
what is there in the world?" he exclaimed with intense feeling.
"But is it only a dream?  Take a grain of sand and sow it on a
stone; when that yellow grain of sand of yours on the stone springs
up, then your dream will come true in the world.  That's a saying
of ours.  Very different from Christ's 'Go and give all that thou
hast to the poor and become the servant of all.'  Then thou wilt be
a thousandfold richer than ever before; for not by bread alone, not
by rich garments, not by pride, not by envy, wilt thou be happy,
but by love multiplied immeasurably.  Not a little riches, not a
hundred-thousand, not a million, but the whole world wilt thou
gain!  Now we gather and have not enough and squander senselessly,
but then there will be no orphans nor beggars, for all will be my
people, all will be akin.  I have gained all, I have bought all,
every one!  Now it is no uncommon thing for the rich and powerful
to care nothing for the length of their days, and to be at a loss
to invent a pastime; then thy days and thy hours will be multiplied
a thousandfold, for thou wilt grudge the loss of a single minute,
and wilt rejoice in every minute in gaiety of heart.  Then thou
wilt attain wisdom, not from books alone, but wilt be face to face
with God Himself; and the earth will shine more brightly than the
sun, and there shall be no more sorrow nor sighing, nothing but one
priceless Paradise. . . ."

It was these enthusiastic outbursts that I believe Versilov liked
particularly.  He was in the room on this occasion.

"Makar Ivanovitch," I interrupted suddenly, feeling immensely
stirred myself (I remember that evening), "why, it's communism,
absolute communism, you're preaching!"

And as he knew absolutely nothing of the doctrine of communism,
and heard the word indeed for the first time, I began at once
expounding to him all I knew on the subject.  I must confess my
knowledge was scanty and confused, even now, in fact, it is not
very ample.  But in spite of that I discoursed with great heat on
what I did know.  To this day I recall with pleasure the
extraordinary impression I made on the old man.  It was more than
an impression.  It was really an overwhelming effect.  He was
passionately interested, too, in the historical details, asking,
"Where?  How?  Who arranged it?  Who said so?"  I have noticed, by
the way, that that is characteristic of the Russian peasant.  If he
is much interested he is not content with general ideas, but
insists on having the most solid and exact facts.  It was just for
such details that I was at a loss, and as Versilov was present I
felt ashamed of my incompetence, and that made me hotter than ever.
In the end Makar Ivanovitch could do nothing but repeat with
emotion, "Yes: yes!" though he had evidently lost the thread and
did not understand.  I felt vexed, but Versilov interrupted the
conversation and said it was bedtime.  We were all in the room and
it was late.  But when he peeped into my room a few minutes later I
asked him at once what he thought of Makar Ivanovitch, and what was
his opinion of him?  Versilov laughed gaily (but not at my mistakes
about communism--he did not mention them in fact).  I repeat again,
he seemed absolutely devoted to Makar Ivanovitch, and I often
caught a very attractive smile on his face when he was listening to
the old man.  At the same time this smile did not prevent his
criticising him.

"Makar Ivanovitch is above all not a peasant but a house-serf," he
pronounced with great readiness, "who has been a servant, born a
servant, and of servants.  The house-serfs and servants used to
share a very great deal in the interests of their masters' private,
spiritual, and intellectual life in the past.  Note that to this
day Makar Ivanovitch is most interested in the life of the gentry
and upper class.  You don't know yet how much interest he takes in
recent events in Russia.  Do you know that he is a great politician?
Don't feed him on honey, but tell him where anyone is fighting and
whether we are going to fight.  In old days I used to delight him by
such accounts.  He has the greatest respect for science, and of all
sciences is fondest of astronomy.  At the same time he has worked
out for himself something so independent that nothing you could do
would shake it.  He has convictions, firm, fairly clear . . . and
genuine.  Though he's so absolutely uneducated he is often able to
astound one by his surprising knowledge of certain ideas which one
would never have expected to find in him.  He extols the 'desert'
with enthusiasm, but nothing would induce him to retire to the
desert or enter a monastery, because he is above all things a
'tramp,' as he was so charmingly called by Alexandr Semyonovitch
(and by the way there's no need for you to be angry with him).
Well, and what more?  He's something of an artist, many of his
sayings are his own, though some are not.  He's somewhat halting in
his logic, and at times too abstract; he has moods of sentimentality,
but of a thoroughly peasant kind, or rather moods of that tenderness
universally found among peasants, which the people introduce so
freely into their religious feelings.  As for his purity of heart
and freedom from malice, I won't discuss them; it's not for you
and me to begin upon that. . . ."


To complete my picture of Makar Ivanovitch I'll repeat some of his
stories, choosing those taken from private life.  These stories
were of a strange character.  It was impossible to extract any sort
of moral or general tendency from them, except perhaps that they
were all more or less touching.  There were some, however, which
were not touching, some, in fact, were quite gay, others even made
fun of certain foolish monks, so that he actually discredited his
own convictions by telling them.  I pointed this out to him, but he
did not understand what I meant.  Sometimes it was difficult to
imagine what induced him to tell the story, so that at times I
wondered at his talkativeness and put it down to the loquacity of
old age and his feverish condition.

"He is not what he used to be," Versilov whispered to me once, "he
was not quite like this in the old days.  He will soon die, much
sooner than we expect, and we must be prepared."

I have forgotten to say that we had begun to have something like
"evenings."  Besides my mother, who never left him, Versilov was in
his little room every evening; I came too--and indeed I had nowhere
else to go.  Of late Liza, too, had always been present, though she
came a little later than the rest of us, and always sat in silence.
Tatyana Pavlovna came too, and, though more rarely, the doctor.
Somehow I suddenly began to get on with the doctor, and though we
were never very friendly there were no further scenes between us.
I liked a sort of simple-mindedness which I detected in him, and
the attachment he showed to our family, so that I made up my mind
at last to forgive him his professional superciliousness, and,
moreover, I taught him to wash his hands and clean his nails, even
if he couldn't put on clean linen.  I explained to him bluntly that
this was not a sign of foppishness or of elegant artificiality, but
that cleanliness is a natural element of the trade of a doctor, and
I proved it to him.  Finally, Lukerya often came out of the kitchen
and stood at the door listening to Makar Ivanovitch's stories.
Versilov once called her in from the door, and asked her to sit
down with us.  I liked his doing this, but from that time she gave
up coming to the door.  Her sense of the fitting!

I quote one of his stories, selecting it simply because I remember
it more completely.  It is a story about a merchant, and I imagine
that such incidents occur by thousands in our cities and country
towns, if only one knew how to look for them.  The reader may
prefer to skip the story, especially as I quote it in the old man's


I'll tell you now of a wonderful thing that happened in our town,
Afimyevsk.  There was a merchant living there, his name was
Skotoboynikov, Maxim Ivanovitch, and there was no one richer than
he in all the countryside.  He built a cotton factory, and he kept
some hundreds of hands, and he exalted himself exceedingly.  And
everything, one may say, was at his beck and call, and even those
in authority hindered him in nothing, and the archimandrite thanked
him for his zeal: he gave freely of his substance to the monastery,
and when the fit came upon him he sighed and groaned over his soul
and was troubled not a little over the life to come.  A widower he
was and childless; of his wife there were tales that he had beaten
her from the first year of their marriage, and that from his youth
up he had been apt to be too free with his hands.  Only all that
had happened long ago; he had no desire to enter into the bonds of
another marriage.  He had a weakness for strong drink, too, and
when the time came he would run drunk about the town, naked and
shouting; the town was of little account and was full of iniquity.
And when the time was ended he was moved to anger, and all that he
thought fit was good, and all he bade them do was right.  He paid
his people according to his pleasure, he brings out his reckoning
beads, puts on his spectacles:  "How much for you, Foma?"  "I've
had nothing since Christmas, Maxim Ivanovitch; thirty-nine roubles
is my due."  "Ough! what a sum of money!  That's too much for you!
It's more than you're worth altogether; it would not be fitting for
you; ten roubles off the beads and you take twenty-nine."  And the
man says nothing; no one dares open his lips; all are dumb before

"I know how much I ought to give him," he says.  "It's the only way
to deal with the folk here.  The folk here are corrupt.  But for me
they would have perished of hunger, all that are here.  The folk
here are thieves again.  They covet all that they behold, there is
no courage in them.  They are drunkards too; if you pay a man his
money he'll take it to the tavern and will sit in the tavern till
he's naked--not a thread on him, he will come out as bare as your
hand.  They are mean wretches.  A man will sit on a stone facing
the tavern and begin wailing:  'Oh mother, my dear mother, why did
you bring me into the world a hopeless drunkard?  Better you had
strangled me at birth, a hopeless drunkard like me!'  Can you call
that a man?  That's a beast, not a man.  One must first teach him
better, and then give him money.  I know when to give it him."

That's how Maxim Ivanovitch used to talk of the folk of Afimyevsk.
Though he spoke evil of them, yet it was the truth.  The folk were
froward and unstable.

There lived in the same town another merchant, and he died.  He was
a young man and light-minded.  He came to ruin and lost all his
fortune.  For the last year he struggled like a fish on the sand,
and his life drew near its end.  He was on bad terms with Maxim
Ivanovitch all the time, and was heavily in debt to him.  And he
left behind a widow, still young, and five children.  And for a
young widow to be left alone without a husband, like a swallow
without a refuge, is a great ordeal, to say nothing of five little
children, and nothing to give them to eat.  Their last possession,
a wooden house, Maxim Ivanovitch had taken for a debt.  She set
them all in a row at the church porch, the eldest a boy of seven,
and the others all girls, one smaller than another, the biggest of
them four, and the youngest babe at the breast.  When Mass was over
Maxim Ivanovitch came out of church, and all the little ones, all
in a row, knelt down before him--she had told them to do this
beforehand--and they clasped their little hands before them, and
she behind them, with the fifth child in her arms, bowed down to
the earth before him in the sight of all the congregation:  "Maxim
Ivanovitch, have mercy on the orphans!  Do not take away their last
crust!  Do not drive them out of their home!"  And all who were
present were moved to tears, so well had she taught them.  She
thought that he would be proud before the people and would forgive
the debt, and give back the house to the orphans.  But it did not
fall out so.  Maxim Ivanovitch stood still.  "You're a young
widow," said he, "you want a husband, you are not weeping over your
orphans.  Your husband cursed me on his deathbed."  And he passed
by and did not give up the house.  "Why follow their foolishness
(that is, connive at it)?  If I show her benevolence they'll abuse
me more than ever.  All that nonsense will be revived and the
slander will only be confirmed."

For there was a story that ten years before he had sent to that
widow before she was married, and had offered her a great sum of
money (she was very beautiful), forgetting that that sin is no less
than defiling the temple of God.  But he did not succeed then in
his evil design.  Of such abominations he had committed not a few,
both in the town and all over the province, and indeed had gone
beyond all bounds in such doings.

The mother wailed with her nurselings.  He turned the orphans out
of the house, and not from spite only, for, indeed, a man sometimes
does not know himself what drives him to carry out his will.  Well,
people helped her at first and then she went out to work for hire.
But there was little to be earned, save at the factory; she scrubs
floors, weeds in the garden, heats the bath-house, and she carries
the babe in her arms, and the other four run about the streets in
their little shirts.  When she made them kneel down at the church
porch they still had little shoes, and little jackets of a sort,
for they were merchant's children but now they began to run
barefoot.  A child soon gets through its little clothes we know.
Well, the children didn't care: so long as there was sunshine they
rejoiced, like birds, did not feel their ruin, and their voices
were like little bells.  The widow thought "the winter will come
and what shall I do with you then?  If God would only take you to
Him before then!"  But she had not to wait for the winter.  About
our parts the children have a cough, the whooping-cough, which goes
from one to the other.  First of all the baby died, and after her
the others fell ill, and all four little girls she buried that
autumn one after the other; one of them, it's true, was trampled by
the horses in the street.  And what do you think?  She buried them
and she wailed.  Though she had cursed them, yet when God took them
she was sorry.  A mother's heart!

All she had left was the eldest, the boy, and she hung over him
trembling.  He was weak and tender, with a pretty little face like
a girl's, and she took him to the factory to the foreman who was
his godfather, and she herself took a place as nurse.

But one day the boy was running in the yard, and Maxim Ivanovitch
suddenly drove up with a pair of horses, and he had just been
drinking; and the boy came rushing down the steps straight at him,
and slipped and stumbled right against him as he was getting out of
the droshky, and hit him with both hands in the stomach.  He seized
the boy by the hair and yelled, "Whose boy is it?  A birch!  Thrash
him before me, this minute."  The boy was half-dead with fright.
They began thrashing him; he screamed.  "So you scream, too, do
you?  Thrash him till he leaves off screaming."  Whether they
thrashed him hard or not, he didn't give up screaming till he
fainted altogether.  Then they left off thrashing him, they were
frightened.  The boy lay senseless, hardly breathing.  They did say
afterwards they had not beaten him much, but the boy was terrified.
Maxim Ivanovitch was frightened!  "Whose boy is he?" he asked.
When they told him, "Upon my word!  Take him to his mother.  Why is
he hanging about the factory here?"  For two days afterwards he
said nothing.  Then he asked again:  "How's the boy?"  And it had
gone hard with the boy.  He had fallen ill, and lay in the corner
at his mother's, and she had given up her job to look after him,
and inflammation of the lungs had set in.

"Upon my word!" said Maxim Ivanovitch, "and for so little.  It's
not as though he were badly beaten.  They only gave him a bit of a
fright.  I've given all the others just as sound a thrashing and
never had this nonsense."  He expected the mother to come and
complain, and in his pride he said nothing.  As though that were
likely!  The mother didn't dare to complain.  And then he sent her
fifteen roubles from himself, and a doctor; and not because he was
afraid, but because he thought better of it.  And then soon his
time came and he drank for three weeks.

Winter passed, and at the Holy Ascension of Our Lord, Maxim
Ivanovitch asks again:  "And how's that same boy?"  And all the
winter he'd been silent and not asked.  And they told him, "He's
better and living with his mother, and she goes out by the day."
And Maxim Ivanovitch went that day to the widow.  He didn't go into
the house, but called her out to the gate while he sat in his
droshky.  "See now, honest widow," says he.  "I want to be a real
benefactor to your son, and to show him the utmost favour.  I will
take him from here into my house.  And if the boy pleases me I'll
settle a decent fortune on him; and if I'm completely satisfied
with him I may at my death make him the heir of my whole property
as though he were my own son, on condition, however, that you do
not come to the house except on great holidays.  If this suits you,
bring the boy to-morrow morning, he can't always be playing
knuckle-bones."  And saying this, he drove away, leaving the mother
dazed.  People had overheard and said to her, "When the boy grows
up he'll reproach you himself for having deprived him of such good
fortune."  In the night she cried over him, but in the morning she
took the child.  And the lad was more dead than alive.

Maxim Ivanovitch dressed him like a little gentleman, and hired a
teacher for him, and sat him at his book from that hour forward;
and it came to his never leaving him out of his sight, always
keeping him with him.  The boy could scarcely begin to yawn before
he'd shout at him, "Mind your book!  Study!  I want to make a man
of you."  And the boy was frail; ever since the time of that
beating he'd had a cough.  "As though we didn't live well in my
house!" said Maxim Ivanovitch, wondering; "at his mother's he used
to run barefoot and gnaw crusts; why is he more puny than before?"
And the teacher said, "Every boy," says he, "needs to play about,
not to be studying all the time; he needs exercise," and he
explained it all to him reasonably.  Maxim Ivanovitch reflected.
"That's true," he said.  And that teacher's name was Pyotr
Stepanovitch; the Kingdom of Heaven be his!  He was almost like a
crazy saint, he drank much, too much indeed, and that was the
reason he had been turned out of so many places, and he lived in
the town on alms one may say, but he was of great intelligence and
strong in science.  "This is not the place for me," he thought to
himself, "I ought to be a professor in the university; here I'm
buried in the mud, my very garments loathe me."  Maxim Ivanovitch
sits and shouts to the child, "Play!" and he scarcely dares to
breathe before him.  And it came to such a pass that the boy could
not hear the sound of his voice without trembling all over.  And
Maxim Ivanovitch wondered more and more.  "He's neither one thing
nor the other; I picked him out of the mud, I dressed him in drap
de dames with little boots of good material, he has embroidered
shirts like a general's son, why has he not grown attached to me?
Why is he as dumb as a little wolf?"  And though people had long
given up being surprised at Maxim Ivanovitch, they began to be
surprised at him again--the man was beside himself: he pestered the
little child and would never let him alone.  "As sure as I'm alive
I'll root up his character.  His father cursed me on his deathbed
after he'd taken the last sacrament.  It's his father's character."
And yet he didn't once use the birch to him (after that time he was
afraid to).  He frightened him, that's what he did.  He frightened
him without a birch.

And something happened.  One day, as soon as he'd gone out, the boy
left his book and jumped on to a chair.  He had thrown his ball on
to the top of the sideboard, and now he wanted to get it, and his
sleeve caught in a china lamp on the sideboard, the lamp fell to
the floor and was smashed to pieces, and the crash was heard all
over the house, and it was an expensive thing, made of Saxony
china.  And Maxim Ivanovitch heard at once, though he was two rooms
away, and he yelled.  The boy rushed away in terror.  He ran out on
the verandah, across the garden, and through the back gate on to
the river-bank.  And there was a boulevard running along the river-
bank, there were old willows there, it was a pleasant place.  He
ran down to the water, people saw, and clasped his hands at the
very place where the ferry-boat comes in, but seemed frightened of
the water, and stood as though turned to stone.  And it's a broad
open space, the river is swift there, and boats pass by; on the
other side there are shops, a square, a temple of God, shining with
golden domes.  And just then Mme. Ferzing, the colonel's wife, came
hurrying down to the ferry with her little daughter.  The daughter,
who was also a child of eight, was wearing a little white frock;
she looked at the boy and laughed, and she was carrying a little
country basket, and in it a hedgehog.  "Look, mother," said she,
"how the boy is looking at my hedgehog!"  "No," said the lady,
"he's frightened of something.  What are you afraid of, pretty
boy?"  (All this was told afterwards.)  "And what a pretty boy,"
she said; "and how nicely he's dressed.  Whose boy are you?" she
asked.  And he'd never seen a hedgehog before, he went up and
looked, and forgot everything at once--such is childhood!  "What is
it you have got there?" he asked.  "It's a hedgehog," said the
little lady, "we've just bought it from a peasant, he found it in
the woods."  "What's that," he asked, "what is a hedgehog?" and he
began laughing and poking it with his finger, and the hedgehog put
up its bristles, and the little girl was delighted with the boy.
"We'll take it home with us and tame it," she said.  "Ach," said
he, "do give me your hedgehog!"  And he asked her this so
pleadingly, and he'd hardly uttered the words, when Maxim
Ivanovitch came running down upon him.  "Ah, there you are!  Hold
him!"  (He was in such a rage, that he'd run out of the house after
him, without a hat.)  Then the boy remembered everything, he
screamed, and ran to the water, pressed his little fists against
his breast, looked up at the sky (they saw it, they saw it!) and
leapt into the water.  Well, people cried out, and jumped from the
ferry, tried to get him out, but the current carried him away.  The
river was rapid, and when they got him out, the little thing was
dead.  His chest was weak, he couldn't stand being in the water,
his hold on life was weak.  And such a thing had never been known
in those parts, a little child like that to take its life!  What a
sin!  And what could such a little soul say to our Lord God in the
world beyond?

And Maxim Ivanovitch brooded over it ever after.  The man became so
changed one would hardly have known him.  He sorrowed grievously.
He tried drinking, and drank heavily, but gave it up--it was no
help.  He gave up going to the factory too, he would listen to no
one.  If anyone spoke to him, he would be silent, or wave his hand.
So he spent two months, and then he began talking to himself.  He
would walk about talking to himself.  Vaskovo, the little village
down the hill, caught fire, and nine houses were burnt; Maxim
Ivanovitch drove up to look.  The peasants whose cottages were
burnt came round him wailing; he promised to help them and gave
orders, and then he called his steward again and took it back.
"There's no need," said he, "don't give them anything," and he
never said why.  "God has sent me to be a scorn unto all men," said
he, "like some monster, and therefore so be it.  Like the wind,"
said he, "has my fame gone abroad."  The archimandrite himself came
to him.  He was a stern man, the head of the community of the
monastery.  "What are you doing?" he asked sternly.

"I will tell you."  And Maxim Ivanovitch opened the Bible and
pointed to the passage:

"Whoso shall offend one of these little ones, which believe in me,
it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck
and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Math. xviii, 6.)

"Yes," said the archimandrite, "though it was not said directly of
this, yet it fits it well.  It is sad when a man loses his measure--
the man is lost.  And thou hast exalted thyself."

And Maxim Ivanovitch sits as though a stupor had come upon him.
The archimandrite gazed upon him.

"Listen," said he, "and remember.  It is said: 'the word of a
desperate man flies on the wind.'  And remember, also, that even
the angels of God are not perfect.  But perfect and sinless is one
only, our Lord Jesus Christ, and Him the angels serve.  Moreover,
thou didst not will the death of that child, but wast only without
wisdom.  But this," said he, "is marvellous in my eyes.  Thou hast
committed many even worse iniquities.  Many men thou hast ruined,
many thou hast corrupted, many thou hast destroyed, no less than,
if thou hadst slain them.  And did not his sisters, all the four
babes, die almost before thine eyes?  Why has this one only
confounded thee?  For all these in the past thou hast not grieved,
I dare say, but hast even forgotten to think of them.  Why art thou
so horror-stricken for this child for whom thou wast not greatly to

"I dream at night," Maxim Ivanovitch said.

"And what?"

But he told nothing more.  He sat mute.  The archimandrite
marvelled, but with that he went away.  There was no doing anything
with him.

And Maxim Ivanovitch sent for the teacher, for Pyotr Stepanovitch;
they had not met since that day.

"You remember him?" says he.


"You painted a picture with oil colours, here in the tavern," said
he, "and took a copy of the chief priest's portrait.  Could you
paint me a picture?"

"I can do anything, I have every talent.  I can do everything."

"Paint me a very big picture, to cover the whole wall, and paint in
it first of all the river, and the slope, and the ferry, and all
the people who were there, the colonel's wife, and her daughter and
the hedgehog.  And paint me the other bank too, so that one can see
the church and the square and the shops, and where the cabs stand--
paint it all just as it is.  And the boy by the ferry, just above
the river, at that very place, and paint him with his two little
fists pressed to his little breast.  Be sure to do that.  And open
the heavens above the church on the further side, and let all the
angels of heaven be flying to meet him.  Can you do it or not?"

"I can do anything."

"I needn't ask a dauber like you.  I might send for the finest
painter in Moscow, or even from London itself, but you remember his
face.  If it's not like, or little like, I'll only give you fifty
roubles.  But if it's just like, I'll give you two hundred.  You
remember his eyes were blue. . . .  And it must be made a very,
very big picture."

It was prepared.  Pyotr Stepanovitch began painting and then he
suddenly went and said:

"No, it can't be painted like that."

"Why so?"

"Because that sin, suicide, is the greatest of all sins.  And would
the angels come to meet him after such a sin?"

"But he was a babe, he was not responsible."

"No, he was not a babe, he was a youth.  He was eight years old
when it happened.  He was bound to render some account."

Maxim Ivanovitch was more terror-stricken than ever.

"But I tell you what, I've thought something," said Pyotr
Stepanovitch, "we won't open the heaven, and there's no need to
paint the angels, but I'll let a beam of light, one bright ray of
light, come down from heaven as though to meet him.  It's all the
same as long as there's something."

So he painted the ray.  I saw that picture myself afterwards, and
that very ray of light, and the river.  It stretched right across
the wall, all blue, and the sweet boy was there, both little hands
pressed to his breast, and the little lady, and the hedgehog, he
put it all in.  Only Maxim Ivanovitch showed no one the picture at
the time, but locked it up in his room, away from all eyes; and
when the people trooped from all over the town to see it, he bade
them drive every one away.  There was a great talk about it.  Pyotr
Stepanovitch seemed as though he were beside himself.  "I can do
anything now," said he.  "I've only to set up in St. Petersburg at
the court."  He was a very polite man, but he liked boasting beyond
all measure.  And his fate overtook him; when he received the full
two hundred roubles, he began drinking at once, and showed his
money to every one, bragging of it, and he was murdered at night,
when he was drunk, and his money stolen by a workman with whom he
was drinking, and it all became known in the morning.

And it all ended so that even now they remember it everywhere
there.  Maxim Ivanovitch suddenly drives up to the same widow.  She
lodged at the edge of the town in a working-woman's hut; he stood
before her and bowed down to the ground.  And she had been ill ever
since that time and could scarcely move.

"Good mother," he wailed, "honest widow, marry me, monster as I am.
Let me live again!"

She looks at him more dead than alive.

"I want us to have another boy," said he.  "And if he is born, it
will mean that that boy has forgiven us both, both you and me.  For
so the boy has bidden me."

She saw the man was out of his mind, and in a frenzy, but she could
not refrain.

"That's all nonsense," she answered him, "and only cowardice.
Through the same cowardice I have lost all my children.  I cannot
bear the sight of you before me, let alone accepting such an
everlasting torture."

Maxim Ivanovitch drove off, but he did not give in.  The whole town
was agog at such a marvel.  Maxim Ivanovitch sent match-makers to
her.  He sent for two of his aunts, working women in the chief town
of the province.  Aunts they were not, but kinsfolk of some sort,
decent people.  They began trying to turn her, they kept persuading
her and would not leave the cottage.  He sent her merchants' wives
of the town too, and the wife of the head priest of the cathedral,
and the wives of officials; she was besieged by the whole town, and
she got really sick of it.

"If my orphans had been living," she said, "but why should I now?
Am I to be guilty of such a sin against my children?"

The archimandrite, too, tried to persuade her.  He breathed into
her ear:

"You will make a new man of him."

She was horrified, and people wondered at her.

"How can you refuse such a piece of luck?"

And this was how he overcame her in the end.

"Anyway he was a suicide," he said, "and not a babe, but a youth,
and owing to his years he could not have been admitted to the Holy
Communion, and so he must have been bound to give at least some
account.  If you enter into matrimony with me, I'll make you a
solemn promise, I'll build a church of God to the eternal memory of
his soul."

She could not stand out against that, and consented.  So they were

And all were in amazement.  They lived from the very first day in
great and unfeigned harmony, jealously guarding their marriage vow,
and like one soul in two bodies.  She conceived that winter, and
they began visiting the churches, and fearing the wrath of God.
They stayed in three monasteries, and consulted prophecy.  He built
the promised church, and also a hospital, and almshouses in the
town.  He founded an endowment for widows and orphans.  And he
remembered all whom he had injured, and desired to make them
restitution; he began to give away money without stint, so that
his wife and the archimandrite even had to restrain him; "for that
is enough," they said.  Maxim Ivanovitch listened to them.  "I
cheated Foma of his wages that time," said he.  So they paid that
back to Foma.  And Foma was moved even to tears.  "As it is I'm
content . . ." says he, "you've given me so much without that."  It
touched every one's heart in fact, and it shows it's true what they
say that a living man will be a good example.  And the people are
good- hearted there.

His wife began to manage the factory herself, and so well that
she's remembered to this day.  He did not give up drinking, but she
looked after him at those times, and began to nurse him.  His
language became more decorous, and even his voice changed.  He
became merciful beyond all wont, even to animals.  If he saw from
the window a peasant shamelessly beating his horse on the head, he
would send out at once, and buy the horse at double its value.  And
he received the gift of tears.  If any one talked to him he melted
into tears.  When her time had come, God answered their prayers at
last, and sent them a son, and for the first time Maxim Ivanovitch
became glad; he gave alms freely, and forgave many debts, and
invited the whole town to the christening.  And next day he was
black as night.  His wife saw that something was wrong with him,
and held up to him the new-born babe.

"The boy has forgiven us," she said; "he has accepted our prayers
and our tears for him."

And it must be said they had neither of them said one word on that
subject for the whole year, they had kept it from each other in
their hearts.  And Maxim Ivanovitch looked at her, black as night.
"Wait a bit," said he, "consider, for a whole year he has not come
to me, but last night he came in my dream."

"I was struck to the heart with terror when I heard those strange
words," she said afterwards.

The boy had not come to him in his dream for nothing.  Scarcely had
Maxim Ivanovitch said this, when something happened to the new-born
babe, it suddenly fell ill.  And the child was ill for eight days;
they prayed unceasingly and sent for doctors, and sent for the very
best doctor in Moscow by train.  The doctor came, and he flew into
a rage.

"I'm the foremost doctor," said he, "all Moscow is awaiting me."

He prescribed a drop, and hurried away again.  He took eight
hundred roubles.  And the baby died in the evening.

And what after that?  Maxim Ivanovitch settled all his property on
his beloved wife, gave up all his money and all his papers to her,
doing it all in due form according to law, then he stood before her
and bowed down to the earth.

"Let me go, my priceless spouse, save my soul while it is still
possible.  If I spend the time without profit to my soul, I shall
not return.  I have been hard and cruel, and laid heavy burdens
upon men, but I believe that for the woes and wanderings that lie
before me, God will not leave me without requital, seeing that to
leave all this is no little cross and no little woe."

And his wife heard him with many tears.

"You are all I have now upon the earth, and to whom am I left?"
said she, "I have laid up affection in my heart for you this year."

And every one in the town counselled him against it and besought
him; and thought to hold him back by force.  But he would not
listen to them, and he went away in secret by night, and was not
seen again.  And the tale is that he perseveres in pilgrimage and
in patience to this day, and visits his dear wife once a year.



I am now approaching the culminating catastrophe to which my whole
story is leading up.  But before I can continue I must give a
preliminary explanation of things of which I knew nothing at the
time when I was taking part in them, but which I only understood
and fully realized long afterwards, that is when everything was
over.  I don't know how else to be clear, as otherwise I should
have to write the whole story in riddles.  And so I will give a
simple and direct explanation, sacrificing so-called artistic
effect, and presenting it without any personal feelings, as though
I were not writing it myself, something after the style of an
entrefilet in the newspaper.

The fact is that my old schoolfellow, Lambert, might well, and
indeed with certainty, be said to belong to one of those
disreputable gangs of petty scoundrels who form associations for
the sake of what is now called chantage, an offence nowadays
defined and punished by our legal code.  The gang to which Lambert
belonged had been formed in Moscow and had already succeeded in a
good many enterprises there (it was to some extent exposed later
on).  I heard afterwards that they had in Moscow an extremely
experienced and clever leader, a man no longer young.  They
embarked upon enterprises, sometimes acting individually and
sometimes in concert.  While they were responsible for some filthy
and indecent scandals (accounts of which have, however, already
been published in the newspapers) they also carried out some subtle
and elaborate intrigues under the leadership of their chief.  I
found out about some of them later on, but I will not repeat the
details.  I will only mention that it was their characteristic
method to discover some secret, often in the life of people of the
greatest respectability and good position.  Then they would go to
these persons and threaten to make public documentary evidence
(which they often did not possess) and would demand a sum of money
as the price of silence.  There are things neither sinful nor
criminal which even honourable and strong-minded people would dread
to have exposed.  They worked chiefly upon family secrets.  To show
how adroit their chief sometimes was in his proceedings, I will
describe in three lines and without any details one of their
exploits.  A really wicked and sinful action was committed in a
certain honourable family; the wife of a well-known and highly
respected man entered into a secret love-affair with a young and
wealthy officer.  They scented this out, and what they did was to
give the young man plainly to understand that they would inform the
husband.  They hadn't the slightest proof, and the young man knew
that quite well, and indeed they did not conceal it from him.  But
the whole ingenuity and the whole cunning of their calculations lay
in the reflection that on receiving information, even without
proofs, the husband would take exactly the same steps as though he
had positive proofs.  They relied upon their knowledge of the man's
character, and of the circumstances of the family.  The fact was
that one member of the gang was a young man belonging to a very
good set, and he had been able to collect information beforehand.
They extracted a considerable sum from the lover, and without any
risk to themselves, because their victim was himself eager for

Though Lambert took part in this affair, he was not actually one of
the Moscow gang; acquiring a taste for the work he began by degrees
and experimentally acting on his own account.  I may mention
beforehand that he was not altogether well fitted for it.  He was
very sharp and calculating, but hasty, and what's more, simple, or
rather naive, that is he had very little knowledge of men or of
good society.  I fancy, for instance, that he did not realize the
capacity of the Moscow chief, and imagined that the organization
and conduct of such projects were very easy.  And he imagined that
almost every one was as great a scoundrel as he was himself, and if
once he had conceived that a certain person was afraid, or must be
afraid for this reason or for that, he would be as certain that the
man was afraid as though it were an axiomatic truth.  I don't know
how to express this; I'll explain the fact more clearly later, but
in my opinion he had rather a coarse-grained intelligence, and not
only had he no faith in certain good and generous feelings, but
perhaps he had actually no conception of them.

He had come to Petersburg because he had long conceived of
Petersburg as offering a wider scope for his energies, and because
in Moscow he had got into a scrape, and because some one was
looking for him there with extremely evil intentions.  On arriving
in Petersburg he at once got into touch with an old comrade, but he
found the outlook unpromising and nothing to be done on a large
scale.  His acquaintance had increased, but nothing had come of it.
"They're a wretched lot here, no better than boys," he said to me
himself afterwards.  And behold, one fine morning at sunrise he
found me half-frozen under a wall, and at once dropped upon the
scent of what he regarded as a "very rich job."

It all rested on my ravings as I thawed in his lodgings.  I was
practically delirious then!  But from my words it was manifest that
of all the affronts I had suffered on that momentous day, the thing
which most rankled in my heart, and was most vivid in my memory,
was the insult I had received from Buring and from her; I should
not otherwise have talked of nothing else in my delirium at
Lambert's, but should have raved of Zerstchikov for example, but it
was only of the former I had talked, as I learned afterwards from
Lambert himself.  And besides, I was in a sort of ecstasy, and
looked upon both Lambert and Alphonsine on that awful morning as,
so-to-say, champions and deliverers.  Afterwards, as I got better
and lay in bed, wondering what Lambert could have learned from my
ravings, and to what extent I had babbled, it never occurred to me
even to suspect that he could have found out so much.  Oh, of
course, from the gnawing at my conscience I suspected even then
that I had said a great deal I should not have said, but, I repeat,
I never imagined that it had gone so far.  I hoped, too, that I was
not able to articulate my words clearly, and indeed I reckoned upon
this, as I distinctly remembered it.  And yet it turned out in fact
that my articulation had been much more distinct than I afterwards
supposed and hoped.  But the worst of it was that all this only
came to light afterwards, and long afterwards, and that was a
misfortune for me.

From my deliriums, my ravings, my mutterings, my transports, and so
on, he learned, to begin with, almost all the surnames correctly,
and even some addresses.  And, secondly, he was able to get a
fairly correct idea of the consequence of the persons concerned
(the old prince, HER, Buring, Anna Andreyevna, and even Versilov);
thirdly, he learned that I had been insulted and was threatening
revenge; and lastly, and chiefly, that there was in existence a
mysterious, hidden document, a letter, such, that if it were shown
to a half-crazy old prince he would learn that his own daughter
thought him a lunatic and was already consulting lawyers to get him
locked up--and would either go quite mad, or would turn her out of
the house, and leave her out of his will, or would marry a certain
Mme. Versilov whom he already wanted to marry, and was being
prevented from marrying.  In short, Lambert understood a great
deal; no doubt a great deal still remained obscure, but the expert
blackmailer had anyway dropped on a trustworthy scent.  When I ran
away afterwards from Alphonsine he promptly found out my address
(in the simplest possible way, by going to the address bureau); and
then immediately made the necessary inquiries, from which he
discovered that all these persons about whom I had babbled to him
did actually exist.  Then he promptly took the first step.

The most important fact was the existence of the DOCUMENT, and that
I was in possession of it, and that that document was of the
highest value--of that Lambert had no doubt.  Here I omit one
circumstance, which will come in better later, in its proper place,
and will only mention here that that circumstance was what
principally confirmed Lambert in the conviction of the real
existence and, still more, of the value of the document.  It was, I
may say beforehand, a momentous circumstance, of which I could have
no conception either at the time or afterwards, until the final
catastrophe, when everything was discovered and became evident of
itself.  And so, convinced of the main facts, his first step was to
go to Anna Andreyevna.

Yet one thing perplexes me to this day: how he, Lambert, succeeded
in gaining admittance to, and fastening himself upon, such an
unapproachable and superior personage as Anna Andreyevna.  It is
true that he gathered information about her, but what of that?  It
is true that he was extremely well dressed, spoke French with a
Parisian accent, and had a French surname, but surely Anna
Andreyevna must have discerned that he was a scoundrel at once?  Or
is one to suppose that a scoundrel was just what she wanted at that
time?  But surely that cannot be so?

I never could find out the details of their interview, but I have
often pictured the scene to myself in my imagination.  What is most
likely is that from the first word Lambert posed as a friend of my
childhood, anxious over a dear and cherished comrade.  But no doubt
at that first interview he succeeded in hinting quite clearly that
I had a document, and letting her know that it was a secret, and
that only he, Lambert, was in possession of it, and that I was
intending to revenge myself on Mme. Ahmakov by means of it, and so
on, and so on.  Above all he could explain to her as precisely as
possible the importance and value of this document.  As for Anna
Andreyevna she was in such a position that she must have caught at
any information of this kind, must have listened with the closest
attention, and . . . must have risen to the bait through "the
struggle for existence."  Just at that time they had abstracted her
fiance from her, and had carried him off under guardianship to
Tsarskoe; and they had even put her under supervision, too.  And
then a find like this!  This was not a case of some old woman
whispering in her ear, of tearful lamentations, of scheming and
backbiting, there was a letter, an actual piece of writing, that is
a positive proof of the treacherous design of his daughter, and of
all those who had snatched him from her, and that, therefore, he
must be saved even by flight, to her, to Anna Andreyevna, and must
be married to her in twenty-four hours, otherwise he would be at
once spirited away into a lunatic asylum.

And perhaps the fact that Lambert attempted no subterfuges with the
young lady even for a moment, but practically blurted straight out
from the first word:

"Mademoiselle, either remain an old maid or become a princess and a
millionaire.  There is a document and I will steal it from the lad
and give it to you . . . for a note of hand from you for thirty

I positively imagine that that's just how it was.  Oh, he thought
they were all as scoundrelly as himself; I repeat he had that sort
of simplicity, that sort of innocence of the scoundrel. . . .
However it happened, it may very well be that even when she was
demeaning herself like this, Anna Andreyevna was not embarrassed
for a minute, but could perfectly well control herself and listen
to the blackmailer talking in his own style--and all from "the
breadth of her nature."  Oh, no doubt she flushed a little at
first, and then she mastered herself and listened.  And when I
imagine that proud, unapproachable, genuinely dignified girl, with
her brains, too, hand in hand with Lambert, well . . . what a mind!
A Russian mind, so large, with such a desire for breadth, a woman's
too, and in such circumstances!

Now I'll make a resume.  By the time I went out after my illness,
Lambert had two plans (I know that for a fact now).  The first was
to get an IOU for not less than thirty thousand from Anna
Andreyevna for the letter, and then to help her to frighten the
prince, to abduct him and to get her married to him at once--
something of that sort anyway.  The plan for this was complete.
They were only waiting for my help, that is for the document.

The second plan was to desert Anna Andreyevna, throw her over, and
sell the letter to Mme. Ahmakov, if that would pay him better.  In
this he was reckoning on Buring.  But Lambert had not yet applied
to Mme. Ahmakov, and was only on her track.  He was waiting for me

Oh, he needed me, that is, not me but the letter!  He had formed
two plans in regard to me also.  The first was, if necessary, to
act in concert with me, and to go halves with me, first taking
possession of me morally and physically.  But the second plan
attracted him much more.  It was to deceive me as a silly boy, and
to steal the letter from me, or even simply to take it from me by
force.  This was his favourite plan, and the one he cherished in
his dreams.  I repeat, there was a circumstance which made him
reckon with certainty on the success of his second plan, but, as I
have said already, I will explain that later.  In any case he
awaited me with nervous impatience.  Everything depended upon me,
every step and every decision.

And I must do him the justice to say that he knew how to restrain
himself till the time came, in spite of his hasty temper.  He did
not come to see me all the while I was ill, he only came once to
the house and saw Versilov; he did not worry or frighten me, he
kept up an attitude of complete independence as regards me till the
day and hour of my going out.  As for the possibility of my giving
up the letter, telling about it, or destroying it, he had no
anxiety on that score.  From my words he had been able to gather
how much importance I attached to secrecy, and how afraid I was
that some one might find out about the letter.  And that I should
go straight to him and to no one else, on the first day I was well
enough, he did not doubt in the least either.  Darya Onisimovna
came to see me partly by his orders, and he knew that my curiosity
and apprehension were already aroused, and that I should not hold
out. . . .  And, indeed, he had taken all precautions, he was in a
position to know what day I was going out, so that I could hardly
have eluded him if I had wanted to.

But however eagerly Lambert may have been expecting me, Anna
Andreyevna perhaps was awaiting me even more eagerly.  I must say
frankly that Lambert was to some extent right in his reckoning when
he contemplated throwing her over, and it was her own fault.  In
spite of the agreement that no doubt existed between them (in what
form I don't know, but I have no doubt about it), Anna Andreyevna
up to the very last moment was not fully open with him.  She did
not lay all her cards on the table.  She hinted at complete
agreement on her part and at all sorts of promises--but she
confined herself to hints.  She listened perhaps to his whole plan
in detail; but she only approved in silence.  I have good evidence
for this conclusion, and the reason of it all was THAT SHE WAS
WAITING FOR ME.  She would rather have had to do with me than with
the rascally Lambert--that's a fact I have no doubt of.  That I
understand; but her mistake was in letting Lambert at last
understand it.  And it would not have suited him at all, if passing
him by she had enticed the letter out of me and entered into a
compact with me.  Moreover, at that time he had complete confidence
in the "soundness of the job"; another man in his place would have
had fears and still have been uncertain; but Lambert was young,
insolent, and filled with impatient greed for gain; he knew little
of human nature, and confidently assumed that all were scoundrels.
Such a man could have no doubts, especially as he had already
observed all sorts of traits in Anna Andreyevna which supported his

One last point, and the most important: did Versilov know anything
by that time, and had he even then taken part with Lambert in any
plan, however remote?  No, no, no, at that time he had not.
Though, perhaps, even then a fatal word had been dropped.  But
enough, enough, I am hastening too far ahead.

Well, and what of me?  Did I know anything, and what did I know on
the day I went out?  When I began this entrefilet I declared that I
knew nothing on that day, but found out about everything much
later, and only when it was all over.  That's the truth, but is it
the full truth?  No, it is not; I certainly knew something already,
I knew a great deal, indeed.  But how?  Let the reader remember my
DREAM!  If I could have had such a dream, if it could have surged
up from my heart and taken that shape, I must have had, not a
knowledge but a presentiment of a very great deal of what I have
just explained, though in actual fact I only discovered it when
everything was over.  I had no knowledge of it, but my heart was
throbbing with forebodings, and evil spirits had possession of my
dreams.  And it was to that man that I rushed, fully knowing what
sort of man he was and foreseeing everything even in detail.  And
why did I rush to him?  Imagine; it seems to me now at the very
minute when I am writing that I knew exactly at the time why I was
rushing to him, though, again, I knew nothing then.  Perhaps the
reader will understand this.  Now to get on with my story, fact by


It begins two days before my outburst, when Liza came home in the
evening in a state of agitation.  She felt terribly humiliated and
indeed something insufferable had happened to her.

I have already mentioned the terms she was on with Vassin.  She
went to see him not simply to show us that she did not need us, but
because she really had a high opinion of him.  Their acquaintance
had begun at Luga, and I always fancied that Vassin was not
indifferent to her, in the misfortunes that had overwhelmed her she
might naturally have wished for the advice of a calm, resolute,
always lofty mind such as she supposed Vassin's to be.  Besides,
women are not very clever in appreciating a man's mind at its true
value when they like a man; and they will gladly accept paradoxes
as the closest reasoning, if they fall in with their own desires.
What Liza liked in Vassin was his sympathy for her in her position
and, as she had fancied at first, his sympathy with Prince Sergay.
When, later on, she suspected his feeling for her, she could not
help appreciating the sympathy he showed for his rival.  When she
told Prince Sergay that she sometimes went to consult Vassin, he
had from the first shown the greatest uneasiness; he began to be
jealous.  Liza was offended at this, and purposely maintained her
friendly relations with Vassin.  Prince Sergay said nothing, but
was gloomy.  Liza confessed to me (long afterwards) that Vassin had
very soon ceased to attract her; he was composed, and just this
everlasting unruffled composure, which had so attracted her at
first, afterwards seemed to her distasteful.  One would have
thought he was practical, and he did, in fact, give her some
apparently good advice, but all his advice, as ill-luck would have
it, appeared later on impossible to carry out.  He gave his
opinions sometimes too conceitedly, and showed no trace of
diffidence with her, becoming more and more free in his manner as
time went on, which she ascribed to his unconsciously feeling less
and less respect for her position.  Once she thanked him for his
invariable goodwill to me, and for talking to me as an intellectual
equal though he was so superior to me (she was repeating my words).
He answered:

"That's not so, and not for that reason.  It's because I see no
difference between him and other people.  I don't consider him more
foolish than the clever, or more evil than the good.  I treat every
one alike because every one's alike in my eyes."

"Why, do you mean to say you see no differences?"

"Oh, of course, people are all different in one way or another, but
differences don't exist for me because the differences between
people don't concern me; to me they are all the same and
everything's the same; and so I'm equally kind to all."

"And don't you find it dull?"

"No, I'm always satisfied with myself."

"And there's nothing you desire?"

"Of course there is.  But nothing I desire very much.  There's
scarcely anything I want, not another rouble.  Whether I wear cloth
of gold or remain as I am is all the same to me.  Cloth of gold
would add nothing to me.  Tit-bits don't tempt me.  Could places or
honours be worth the place that I am worth?"

Liza declared on her honour that these were literally his words.
But it's not fair to criticize them like this without knowing the
circumstances under which they were uttered.

Little by little Liza came also to the conclusion that his
indulgent attitude to Prince Sergay was not due to sympathy for
her, but was perhaps only because "all were alike to him, and
differences did not exist for him."  But in the end he did
apparently begin to lose his indifference, and to take up an
attitude not only of disapproval, but even of contemptuous irony
towards Prince Sergay.  This incensed Liza, but Vassin remained
unaffected.  Above all, he always expressed himself gently, and
showed no indignation even in his disapproval, but confined himself
to logical exposition of her hero's worthlessness; but there was
irony in this very logic.  Finally he demonstrated almost directly
the "irrationality," the perverse violence of her love.  "Your
feelings have been mistaken, and a mistake once recognized ought
invariably to be corrected."

This had happened on that very day; Liza indignantly got up from
her place to go, but it will hardly be believed what this rational
man did next, and how he concluded.  With the air of a man of
honour, and even with feeling, he offered her his hand.  Liza
bluntly called him a fool to his face and walked out.

To suggest deserting a man in misfortune because that man was
"unworthy of her," and above all to suggest it to a woman who was
with child by that very man--there you have the mind of these
people!  I call this being dreadfully theoretical and knowing
nothing whatever of life, and put it down to a prodigious conceit.
And what's more, Liza saw quite clearly that he was actually proud
of his action, because he knew of her condition.  With tears of
indignation she hurried off to Prince Sergay, and he positively
surpassed Vassin.  One would have thought that after what she told
him he might have been convinced that he had no cause for jealousy;
but he became perfectly frantic.  But jealous people are always
like that!  He made a fearful scene and insulted her so
outrageously that she almost resolved to break off all relations
with him.

She came home, however, still controlling herself, but she could
not help telling mother.  Oh, that evening the ice was completely
broken, and they were on their old affectionate terms again; both,
of course, shed tears as usual in each other's arms, and Liza
apparently regained her composure, though she was very gloomy.  She
sat through the evening in Makar Ivanovitch's room, without
uttering a word, but without leaving the room.  She listened very
attentively to what he said.  Ever since the incident with the
bench she had become extremely and, as it were, timidly respectful
to him, though she still remained taciturn.

But this time Makar Ivanovitch suddenly gave an unexpected and
wonderful turn to the conversation.  I may mention that Versilov
and the doctor had talked of his health with very gloomy faces
that morning.  I may mention, too, that we had for some days
been talking a great deal about mother's birthday, and making
preparations to celebrate it in five days' time.  Apropos of her
birthday Makar Ivanovitch suddenly launched into reminiscences of
mother's childhood, and the time when she "couldn't stand up on her
little feet."  "She was never out of my arms," the old man
recalled.  "I used to teach her to walk too sometimes.  I set her
up in a corner three steps away and called her, and she used to
totter across to me, and she wasn't frightened, but would run to me
laughing, she'd rush at me and throw her arms round my neck.  I
used to tell you fairytales later on, Sofia Andreyevna; you were
very fond of fairy tales, you'd sit on my knee listening for two
hours at a stretch.  They used to wonder in the cottage, 'just see
how she's taken to Makar.'  Or I'd carry you off into the woods,
I'd seek out a raspberry-bush, I would sit you down by it, and cut
you a whistle-pipe out of wood.  When we'd had a nice walk, I'd
carry you home in my arms--and the little thing would fall asleep.
Once she was afraid of a wolf; she flew to me all of a tremble, and
there wasn't a wolf there at all."

"I remember that," said mother.

"Can you really remember it?"

"I remember a great deal.  Ever since I remember anything in life I
have felt your love and tender care over me," she said in a voice
full of feeling, and she suddenly flushed crimson.

Makar Ivanovitch paused for a little.

"Forgive me, children, I am leaving you.  The term of my life is
close at hand.  In my old age I have found consolation for all
afflictions.  Thank you, my dear ones."

"That's enough, Makar Ivanovitch darling," exclaimed Versilov in
some agitation.  "The doctor told me just now that you were a great
deal better. . . ."

Mother listened in alarm.

"Why, what does he know, your Alexandr Semyonovitch--he's a dear
man and nothing more.  Give over, friends, do you think that I'm
afraid to die?  After my morning prayer to-day I had the feeling in
my heart that I should never go out again from here; it was told
me.  Well, what of it, blessed be the name of the Lord.  Yet I have
a longing to be looking upon all of you still.  Job, after all his
sufferings, was comforted looking upon his new children, and forgot
the children that were gone--it is impossible!  Only with the years
the sorrow is mingled with the joy and turned to sighs of gladness.
So it is in the world.  Every soul is tried and is comforted.  I
thought, children, to say one little word to you," he went on with
a gentle, exquisite smile which I shall never forget, and he turned
to me, "be zealous for the Holy Church, my dear, and if the time
calls for it--die for her; but wait a bit, don't be frightened, it
won't be at once," he added, laughing.  "Now perhaps you don't
think of it, afterwards you will think of it.  And something more.
Any good thing you bethink yourself to do, do it for the sake of
God and not for envy.  Stand firmly to your cause, and do not give
way through any sort of cowardice; act steadily, neither rushing
nor turning about; well, that is all I want to tell you.  Only
accustom yourself to pray daily and unceasingly.  I say this now,
maybe you'll remember it.  I should like to say something to you,
too, Andrey Petrovitch, sir, but God will find your heart without
my words.  And for long years we have ceased to speak of that, ever
since that arrow pierced my heart.  Now that I am departing I would
only remind you of what you promised then. . . ."

He almost whispered the last words, with his eyes cast down.

"Makar Ivanovitch!" Versilov said in confusion, and he got up from
his chair.

"There, there, don't be troubled, sir, I only recalled it . . . and
in the sight of God I am more to blame than any of you, seeing that
though you were my master I ought not to have allowed this
weakness, and therefore, Sofia, fret not your soul too much, for
all your sin is mine, and you scarcely had full judgment in those
days, so I fancy; nor maybe you either, sir," he smiled with lips
that quivered from some sort of pain, "and though I might then have
taught you, my wife, even with the rod and indeed ought to have,
yet I pitied you when you fell in tears before me, and hid nothing,
and kissed my feet.  Not to reproach you have I recalled this,
beloved, but only to remind Andrey Petrovitch . . . for you
remember, sir, yourself your promise, as a nobleman, and all will
be covered with the wedding crown.  I speak before the children,
master . . ."

He was extremely agitated and looked at Versilov as though expecting
from him some word of confirmation.  I repeat it was all so sudden,
so unexpected, that I sat motionless.  Versilov was no less
agitated: he went up to mother in silence and warmly embraced her;
then mother, also in silence, went up to Makar Ivanovitch and bowed
down to his feet.

In short the scene was overwhelming; on this occasion we were by
ourselves.  Even Tatyana Pavlovna was not present.  Liza drew
herself up in her chair and listened in silence; suddenly she stood
up and said firmly to Makar Ivanovitch:

"Bless me, too, Makar Ivanovitch for my great anguish.  To morrow
will decide my whole fate, and you will pray for me to-day."

And she went out of the room.  I knew that Makar Ivanovitch knew
all about her already from mother.  But it was the first time I had
seen mother and Versilov side by side: till then I had only seen
her as his slave near him.  There was still so much I did not
understand and had not detected in that man whom I had condemned,
and so I went back to my room in confusion.  And it must be said
that it was just at this time that my perplexity about him was
greatest.  He had never seemed to me so mysterious and unfathomable
as just at that time; but it's just about that that I'm writing
this whole account; all in its good time.

"It turns out though," I thought to myself as I got into bed, "that
he gave his word 'as a nobleman' to marry mother if she were left a
widow.  He said nothing of that when he told me about Makar
Ivanovitch before."

Liza was out the whole of the following day, and when she came
back, rather late, she went straight to Makar Ivanovitch.  I
thought I would not go in that I might not be in their way, but
soon, noticing that mother and Versilov were already there, I went
in.  Liza was sitting by the old man crying on his shoulder, and he
with a sorrowful face was stroking her head.

Versilov told me in my room afterwards that Prince Sergay insisted
on having his way, and proposed marrying Liza at the first
opportunity before his trial was over.  It was hard for Liza to
make up her mind to it, though she scarcely had the right to
refuse.  And indeed Makar Ivanovitch "commanded" her to be married.
Of course all this would have come about of itself, and she would
certainly have been married of her own accord and without
hesitation, but at the moment she had been so insulted by the man
she loved, and she was so humiliated by this love even in her own
eyes that it was difficult for her to decide.  But apart from her
mortification there was another circumstance deterring her of which
I could have no suspicion.

"Did you hear that all those young people on the Petersburg Side
were arrested?" Versilov added suddenly.

"What?  Dergatchev?" I cried.

"Yes, and Vassin, too."

I was amazed, especially to hear about Vassin.

"Why, was he mixed up in anything?  Good heavens, what will happen
to them now!  And just when Liza was being so severe upon him! . . .
What do you think?  What may happen to them?  It's Stebelkov,
I swear it's Stebelkov's doing."

"We won't go into it," said Versilov, looking at me strangely (as
people look at a man who has no knowledge or suspicion of something).
"Who can tell what is going on among them, and who can tell what may
happen to them?  I didn't come to speak of that.  I hear you meant
to go out to-morrow.  Won't you be going to see Prince Sergay?"

"The first thing; though I must own it's very distasteful to me.
Why, have you some message to send him?"

"No, nothing.  I shall see him myself.  I'm sorry for Liza.  And
what advice can Makar Ivanovitch give her?  He knows nothing about
life or about people himself.  Another thing, my dear boy" (it
was a long time since he had called me "my dear boy"), "there are
here too . . . certain young men . . . among whom is your old
schoolfellow, Lambert . . . I fancy they are all great rascals. . . .
I speak simply to warn you. . . . But, of course, it's your
business, and I have no right . . ."

"Andrey Petrovitch!" I clutched his hand, speaking without a
moment's thought and almost by inspiration as I sometimes do (the
room was almost in darkness).  "Andrey Petrovitch, I have said
nothing; you have seen that of course, I have been silent till now,
do you know why?  To avoid knowing your secrets.  I've simply
resolved not to know them, ever.  I'm a coward.  I'm afraid your
secrets may tear you out of my heart altogether, and I don't want
that to happen.  Since it's so, why should you know my secrets?  It
doesn't matter to you where I go.  Does it?"

"You are right; but not a word more, I beseech you!" he said, and
went away.  So, by accident, we had the merest scrap of an
explanation.  But he only added to my excitement on the eve of my
new step in life next day, and I kept waking up all night in
consequence.  But I felt quite happy.


Next day I went out of the house at ten o'clock in the morning,
doing my utmost to steal out quietly without taking leave or saying
anything.  I, so to speak, slipped out.  Why I did so I don't know;
but if even mother had seen that I was going out and spoken to me I
should have answered with something spiteful.  When I found myself
in the street and breathed the cold outdoor air I shuddered from an
intense feeling--almost animal--which I might call "carnivorous."
What was I going for, where was I going?  The feeling was utterly
undefined and at the same time I felt frightened and delighted,
both at once.

"Shall I disgrace myself to-day or not?" I thought to myself with a
swagger, though I knew that the step once taken that day would be
decisive, and could not be retrieved all my life.  But it's no use
talking in riddles.

I went straight to the prison to Prince Sergay.  I had received a
letter for the superintendent from Tatyana Pavlovna two days
before, and I met with an excellent reception.  I don't know
whether he was a good man, and it's beside the point; but he
permitted my interview with the prince and arranged that it should
take place in his room, courteously giving it up for our use.  The
room was the typical room of a government official of a certain
standing, living in a government building--I think to describe it
is unnecessary.

So it turned out that Prince Sergay and I were left alone.

He came in dressed in some sort of half-military attire, but
wearing very clean linen and a dandified tie; he was washed and
combed, at the same time he looked terribly thin and very yellow.
I noticed the same yellowness even in his eyes.  In fact he was so
changed in appearance that I stood still in amazement.

"How you have changed!" I cried.

"That's nothing.  Sit down, dear boy," half-fatuously he motioned
me to the armchair and sat down opposite, facing me.  "Let's get to
the point.  You see, my dear Alexey Makarovitch . . ."

"Arkady," I corrected him.

"What?  Oh yes!  No matter!  Oh yes!"  He suddenly collected
himself.  "Excuse me, my dear fellow, we'll return to the point."

He was, in fact, in a fearful hurry to turn to something.  He was
entirely from head to foot absorbed by something; some vital idea
which he wanted to formulate and expound to me.  He talked a great
deal and fearfully fast, gesticulating and explaining with strained
and painful effort, but for the first minute I really could make
nothing of it.

"To put it briefly" (he had used this expression "To put it
briefly" ten times already), "to put it briefly," he concluded, "I
troubled you yesterday, Arkady Makarovitch, and so urgently through
Liza begged you to come to me, as though the place were on fire,
but seeing that the essential part of the decision is bound to be
momentous and conclusive for me . . ."

"Excuse me, prince," I interrupted, "did you send me a message
yesterday?  Liza said nothing to me about it."

"What?" he cried, suddenly stopping short in extreme astonishment,
almost in alarm.

"She gave me no message at all.  She came home last night so upset
that she couldn't say a word to me."

Prince Sergay leapt up from his seat.

"Are you telling me the truth, Arkady Makarovitch?  If so this . . .
this . . ."

"Why, what is there so serious about it?  Why are you so uneasy?
She simply forgot or something."

He sat down and seemed overcome by a kind of stupor.  It seemed as
though the news that Liza had given me no message had simply
crushed him.  He suddenly began talking rapidly and waving his
hands, and again it was fearfully difficult to follow him.

"Stay" he exclaimed suddenly, pausing and holding up his finger.
"Stay, this . . . this . . . if I'm not mistaken this is a
trick! . . ." he muttered with the grin of a maniac, "and it
means that . . ."

"It means absolutely nothing," I interposed, "and I can't understand
how such a trivial circumstance can worry you so much. . . .  Ach,
prince, since that time--since that night, do you remember . . ."

"Since what night, and what of it?" he cried pettishly, evidently
annoyed at my interrupting him.

"At Zerstchikov's, where we saw each other last.  Why, before your
letter. . . .  Don't you remember you were terribly excited then,
but the difference between then and now is so great that I am
positively horrified when I look at you."

"Oh yes," he pronounced in the tone of a man of polite society,
seeming suddenly to remember.  "Oh yes; that evening . . . I
heard. . . .  Well, and are you better?  How are you after all
that, Arkady Makarovitch? . . .  But let us return to the point.
I am pursuing three aims precisely, you see; there are three
problems before me, and I . . ."

He began rapidly talking again of his "chief point."  I realized at
last that I was listening to a man who ought at once to have at
least a vinegar compress applied to his head, if not perhaps to be
bled.  All his incoherent talk turned, of course, around his trial,
and the possible issue of it, and the fact that the colonel of his
regiment had visited him and given him a lengthy piece of advice
about something which he had not taken, and the notes he had just
lately sent to some one, and the prosecutor, and the certainty that
they would deprive him of his rights as a nobleman and send him to
the Northern Region of Russia, and the possibility of settling as a
colonist and regaining his position, in Tashkent, and his plans for
training his son (which Liza would bear him) and handing something
down to him "in the wilds of Archangel, in the Holmogory."  "I
wanted your opinion, Arkady Makarovitch, believe me I so feel and
value. . . .  If only you knew, if only you knew, Arkady
Makarovitch, my dear fellow, my brother, what Liza means to me,
what she has meant to me here, now, all this time!" he shouted,
suddenly clutching at his head with both hands.

"Sergay Petrovitch, surely you won't sacrifice her by taking her
away with you!  To the Holmogory!" I could not refrain from
exclaiming.  Liza's fate, bound to this maniac for life, suddenly,
and as it were for the first time, rose clearly before my
imagination.  He looked at me, got up again, took one step, turned
and sat down again, still holding his head in his hands.

"I'm always dreaming of spiders!" he said suddenly.

"You are terribly agitated.  I should advise you to go to bed,
prince, and to ask for a doctor at once."

"No, excuse me--of that afterwards.  I asked you to come and see me
chiefly to discuss our marriage.  The marriage, as you know, is to
take place here, at the church.  I've said so already.  Permission
has been given for all this, and, in fact, they encourage it. . . .
As for Liza . . ."

"Prince, have pity on Liza, my dear fellow!" I cried.  "Don't
torture her, now, at least, don't be jealous!"

"What!" he cried, staring at me intently with eyes almost starting
out of his head, and his whole face distorted into a sort of broad
grin of senseless inquiry.  It was evident that the words "don't be
jealous" had for some reason made a fearful impression on him.

"Forgive me, prince, I spoke without thinking.  Oh prince, I have
lately come to know an old man, my nominal father. . . .  Oh, if
you could see him you would be calmer. . . .  Liza thinks so much
of him, too."

"Ah, yes, Liza . . . ah, yes, is that your father?  Or pardon, mon
cher, something of the sort . . . I remember . . . she told me . . .
an old man. . . .  I'm sure of it, I'm sure of it.  I knew an old
man, too . . . mais passons. . . .  The chief point is to make
clear what's essential at the moment, we must . . ."

I got up to go away.  It was painful to me to look at him.

"I don't understand!" he pronounced sternly and with dignity,
seeing that I had got up to go.

"It hurts me to look at you," I said.

"Arkady Makarovitch, one word, one word more!"  He clutched me by
the shoulder with quite a different expression and gesture, and sat
me down in the armchair.  "You've heard about those . . . you
understand?" he bent down to me.

"Oh yes, Dergatchev.  No doubt it's Stebelkov's doing!" I cried

"Yes, Stebelkov.  And . . . you don't know?"

He broke off and again he stared at me with the same wide eyes
and the same spasmodic, senselessly questioning grin, which grew
broader and broader.  His face gradually grew paler.  I felt a
sudden shudder.  I remembered Versilov's expression when he had
told me of Vassin's arrest the day before.

"Oh, is it possible?" I cried, panic-stricken.

"You see, Arkady Makarovitch, that's why I sent to you to
explain . . . I wanted . . ." he began whispering rapidly.

"It was you who informed against Vassin!" I cried.

"No; you see, there was a manuscript.  Vassin gave it only a few
days ago to Liza . . . to take care of.  And she left it here for
me to look at, and then it happened that they quarrelled next
day . . ."

"You gave the manuscript to the authorities!"

"Arkady Makarovitch, Arkady Makarovitch!"

"And so you," I screamed, leaping up, emphasizing every word,
"without any other motive, without any other object, simply because
poor Vassin was YOUR RIVAL, simply out of jealousy, you gave up the
MANUSCRIPT ENTRUSTED TO LIZA . . . gave it up to whom?  To whom?
To the Public Prosecutor?"

But he did not answer, and he hardly could have answered, for he
stood before me like a statue, still with the same sickly smile and
the same fixed look.  But suddenly the door opened and Liza came
in.  She almost swooned when she saw us together.

"You're here?  So you're here?" she cried, her face suddenly
distorted, seizing my hand.  "So you . . . KNOW?"

But she could read in my face already that I "knew."  With a swift
irresistible impulse I threw my arms round her and held her close!
And at that minute for the first time I grasped in all its
intensity the hopeless, endless misery which shrouded in unbroken
darkness the whole life of this . . . wilful seeker after

"Is it possible to talk to him now," she said, tearing herself away
from me.  "Is it possible to be with him?  Why are you here?  Look
at him! look at him!  And can one, can one judge him?"

Her face was full of infinite suffering and infinite compassion as
exclaiming this she motioned towards the unhappy wretch.

He was sitting in the armchair with his face hidden in his hands.
And she was right.  He was a man in a raging fever and not
responsible.  They put him in the hospital that morning, and by the
evening he had brain fever.


Leaving Prince Sergay with Liza I went off about one o'clock to my
old lodging.  I forgot to say that it was a dull, damp day, with a
thaw beginning, and a warm wind that would upset the nerves of an
elephant.  The master of the house met me with a great display of
delight, and a great deal of fuss and bustle, which I particularly
dislike, especially at such moments.  I received this drily, and
went straight to my room, but he followed me, and though he did not
venture to question me, yet his face was beaming with curiosity,
and at the same time he looked as though he had a right to be
curious.  I had to behave politely for my own sake; but though it
was so essential to me to find out something (and I knew I should
learn it), I yet felt it revolting to begin cross-examining him.  I
inquired after the health of his wife, and we went in to see her.
The latter met me deferentially indeed, but with a businesslike and
taciturn manner; this to some extent softened my heart.  To be
brief, I learned on this occasion some very wonderful things.

Well, of course, Lambert had been and he came twice afterwards, and
"he looked at all the rooms, saying that perhaps he would take
them."  Darya Onisimovna had come several times, goodness knows
why.  "She was very inquisitive," added my landlord.

But I did not gratify him by asking what she was inquisitive about.
I did not ask questions at all, in fact.  He did all the talking,
while I kept up a pretence of rummaging in my trunk (though there
was scarcely anything left in it).  But what was most vexatious, he
too thought fit to play at being mysterious, and noticing that I
refrained from asking questions, felt it incumbent upon him to be
more fragmentary and even enigmatic in his communications.

"The young lady has been here, too," he added, looking at me

"What young lady?"

"Anna Andreyevna; she's been here twice; she made the acquaintance
of my wife.  A very charming person, very pleasant.  Such an
acquaintance is quite a privilege, Arkady Makarovitch."

And as he pronounced these words he positively took a step towards
me.  He seemed very anxious that I should understand something.

"Did she really come twice?" I said with surprise.

"The second time she came with her brother."

"That was with Lambert," I thought involuntarily.

"No, not with Mr. Lambert," he said, seeming to guess at once, as
though piercing into my soul with his eyes.  "But with her real
brother, young Mr. Versilov.  A kammer-junker, I believe."

I was very much confused.  He looked at me, smiling very

"Oh, and some one else came and was asking after you, that
ma'amselle, a French lady, Mamselle Alphonsine de Verden.  Oh, how
well she sings and recites poetry.  She'd slipped off to see Prince
Nikolay Ivanovitch at Tskarskoe, to sell him a dog, she told me, a
rare kind, black, and no bigger than your fist . . ."

I asked him to leave me alone on the pretext of a headache.  He
immediately fell in with my request, even breaking off in the
middle of a sentence, and not only without the slightest sign of
huffiness, but almost with pleasure, waving his hand mysteriously,
as though to say, "I understand, I understand," and though he did
not actually say this he could not resist the satisfaction of
walking out of the room on tiptoe.

There are very vexatious people in the world.

I sat for an hour and a half alone, deliberating; rather, not
really deliberating but dreaming.  Though I was perplexed I was not
in the least surprised.  I even expected to hear something more,
other marvels.  "Perhaps they have already hatched them," I
thought.  I had for a long time been firmly persuaded that the
machinery of their plot was wound up and was in full swing.
"They're only waiting for me," I thought again with a sort of
irritable and pleasant self-satisfaction.  That they were eagerly
awaiting me, and were scheming to carry out some plan at my lodging
was clear as day.  "The old prince's wedding, can it be?  He's
surrounded by a regular network of intrigue.  But am I going to
permit it, my friends?  That's the question," I said in conclusion
with haughty satisfaction.

"Once I begin I shall be carried away by the whirlpool like a chip.
Am I free now, this minute, or am I not?  When I go back to mother
this evening can I still say to myself as I have done all these
days 'I am my own master'?"

That was the gist of my questions, or rather of the throbbing at my
heart in the hour and a half I spent sitting on the bed in the
corner, with my elbows on my knees and my head propped in my hands.
But I knew, I knew even then that all these questions were utter
nonsense, and that I was drawn only by HER--by her, by her alone!
At last I have said this straight out and have written it with pen
on paper, though even now as I write this a year later I don't know
what name to give to the feeling I had then!

Oh, I was sorry for Liza, and my heart was full of a most unfeigned
grief.  Nothing but the feeling of pain on her account could have
calmed or effaced in me for a time that "carnivorousness" (I recall
that word).  But I was immensely spurred on by curiosity and a sort
of dread and another feeling--I don't know what; but I know and I
knew then that it was an evil feeling.  Perhaps my impulse was to
fall at HER feet, or perhaps I wanted to put her to every torture,
and "quickly, quickly" to show her something.  No grief, no
compassion for Liza, could stop me.  Could I have got up and gone
home . . . to Makar Ivanovitch?

"And is it quite impossible to go to them, to find out everything
from them, and to go away from them for ever, passing unscathed
among marvels and monsters?"

At three o'clock, pulling myself together and reflecting that I
might be late, I went out hastily, took a cab, and flew to Anna



As soon as I was announced, Anna Andreyevna threw down her sewing
and rushed to meet me in the outermost of her rooms, a thing which
had never happened before.  She held out both hands to me and
flushed quickly.  She led me into her room in silence, sat down to
her needlework again, made me sit down beside her.  She did not go
on with her sewing, but still scrutinized me with the same fervent
sympathy, without uttering a word.

"You sent Darya Onisimovna to me," I began bluntly, rather
overwhelmed by this exaggerated display of sympathy, though I
found it agreeable.

She suddenly began talking without answering my question.

"I have heard all about it, I know all about it.  That terrible
night. . . .  Oh, what you must have gone through!  Can it be true!
Can it be true that you were found unconscious in the frost?"

"You heard that . . . from Lambert. . . ." I muttered, reddening.

"I heard it all from him at the time; but I've been eager to see
you.  Oh, he came to me in alarm!  At your lodging . . . where you
have been lying ill, they would not let him in to see you . . . and
they met him strangely . . . I really don't know how it was, but he
kept telling me about that night; he told me that when you had
scarcely come to yourself, you spoke of me, and . . . and of your
devotion to me.  I was touched to tears, Arkady Makarovitch, and I
don't know how I have deserved such warm sympathy on your part,
especially considering the condition in which you were yourself!
Tell me, M. Lambert was the friend of your childhood, was he not?"

"Yes, but what happened? . . .  I confess I was indiscreet, and
perhaps I told him then a great deal I shouldn't have."

"Oh, I should have heard of that wicked horrible intrigue apart
from him!  I always had a presentiment that they would drive you to
that, always.  Tell me, is it true that Buring dared to lift his
hand against you?"

She spoke as though it were entirely owing to Buring and HER that I
had been found under the wall.  And she is right too, I thought,
but I flared up:

"If he had lifted his hand against me, he would not have gone away
unpunished.  And I should not be sitting before you now without
having avenged myself," I answered hotly.  It struck me that she
wanted for some reason to irritate me, to set me against somebody
(I knew of course against whom); yet I fell in with it.

"You say that you had a presentiment that I should be driven to
THIS, but on Katerina Nikolaevna's side it was of course only a
misunderstanding . . . though it is true that she was too hasty in
allowing her kindly feeling for me to be influenced by that
misunderstanding. . . ."

"I should think she was too hasty indeed!" Anna Andrevevna assented
quickly, with a sort of ecstasy of sympathy.  "Oh, if only you knew
the intrigue that is being hatched there now!  Of course, Arkady
Makarovitch, of course it is difficult for you to realize now all
the delicacy of my position," she brought out, blushing and casting
down her eyes.  "Since I saw you last . . . that very morning I
took a step which not every one would be able to understand and
interpret rightly; so it is hardly likely that it would be
understood by anyone with your still uncorrupted mind, and your
fresh, loving, unsophisticated heart.  Believe me, my dear friend,
I appreciate your devotion to me, and I shall repay it with my
everlasting gratitude.  In the world, of course, they will throw
stones at me, they have thrown them already.  But even if they were
right, from their odious point of view, which of them could, which
of them dare judge me I have been abandoned by my father from
childhood up; we Versilovs are an ancient noble Russian family, yet
we are adventurers, and I am eating the bread of charity.  Was it
not natural I should turn to one who has taken the place of a
father to me, at whose hands I have received nothing but kindness
during all these years?  My feelings for him are known only to God,
and he alone can judge them, and I refuse to accept the judgment of
the world upon the step I have taken.  When there is, moreover, at
the bottom of this the most cunning, the most evil intrigue, and
the plot to ruin a trusting, noble-hearted father is the work of
his own daughter, is it to be endured?  No, I will save him if I
have to ruin my reputation.  I am ready to be with him simply as a
nurse, to take care of him, and to look after him, but I will not
let hateful, cold, mercenary worldliness triumph!"

She spoke with unwonted fire, very possibly half assumed, though at
the same time sincere, because it was evident how deeply involved
she was in the matter.  Oh, I felt that she was lying (though
sincerely, for one can lie sincerely).  And that she was now evil;
but it is wonderful how it often is, in dealing with women: this
assumption of perfect refinement, these lofty manners, these
inaccessible heights of well-bred grandeur and proud chastity--all
this quite threw me out of my reckoning, and I began agreeing with
her on every point, so long as I was with her; that is, I could not
bring myself to contradict her, anyway.  Oh, a man is in absolute
moral slavery to a woman, especially if he is a generous man!  Such
a woman can convince a generous man of anything she likes.  "She
and Lambert, my goodness!" I thought, looking at her in perplexity.
To tell the whole truth, however, I don't know what to think of her
to this day; truly her feelings were known only to God, and,
besides, human beings are such complicated machines, that one
cannot analyse them in some cases, and above all if the human being
in question is a woman.

"Anna Andreyevna, what is it you exactly want me to do?" I asked,
with a good deal of decision however.

"How?  What do you mean by your question, Arkady Makarovitch?"

"I fancy, from everything . . . and from certain other
considerations . . ." I explained stammering, "that you sent to me
because you expected something from me; so what is it exactly?"

Without answering my question, she immediately began talking again,
as rapidly and as earnestly as before:

"But I cannot, I am too proud to enter into explanations and
negotiations with unknown persons, like M. Lambert.  I have been
waiting for you, I don't want M. Lambert.  My position is awful,
desperate, Arkady Makarovitch!  I am forced to duplicity, hemmed in
by the machinations of that woman--and that is more than I can
endure.  I am driven almost to the humiliation of intriguing, and I
have been waiting for you as my saviour.  You must not blame me for
looking greedily about me to find one friend at least, and so I
cannot help being glad to see a friend: he, who could think of me
and even utter my name, half frozen on that night, must be devoted
to me.  That's what I've been thinking all this time and that is
why I rely on you."

She looked into my face with impatient inquiry.  And again I had
not the heart to disillusion her, and to tell her plainly that
Lambert had deceived her, and that I had by no means told him that
I was so devoted to her, and that her name was not the only one I
mentioned.  And so by my silence I confirmed, as it were, Lambert's
lie.  Oh, she knew very well, I am convinced, that Lambert had been
exaggerating and simply lying to her, solely in order to have a
plausible excuse to call upon her, and to get into touch with her;
though she looked into my face as though she were convinced of my
truth and devotion, she must have known that I did not bring myself
to contradict her from delicacy of feeling, and the awkwardness of
youth.  But whether I was right in this surmise, I don't know.
Perhaps I am horribly evil-minded.

"My brother is taking my part," she said with sudden heat, seeing
that I was not disposed to speak.

"I'm told you have been at my lodgings," I muttered in confusion.

"Yes . . . you know poor Prince Nikolay Ivanitch has no place now
where he can take refuge from this intrigue, or rather from his own
daughter, unless in your lodgings, that is the lodgings of a
friend; you know he looks upon you at least as a friend! . . .  And
if you will only do something for his benefit, then do this--if
only you can, if only you have the generosity and courage . . .
and, and finally if it is really true, that there is SOMETHING YOU
CAN DO.  Oh, it is not for my sake, it's not for my sake, but for
the sake of the poor old man, the only person who genuinely loved
you, and who has become as attached to you as though you were his
own son, and is still missing you!  For myself I expect nothing,
even from you--since even my own father has played me such a
treacherous, such a spiteful trick."

"I believe, Andrey Petrovitch . . ." I began.

"Andrey Petrovitch," she repeated with bitter mockery; "Andrey
Petrovitch, in answer to a direct question from me, told me on his
word of honour that he had never had any intentions in regard to
Katerina Nikolaevna and I completely believed it when I took that
step; and yet it seemed that his composure only lasted till he
heard of Baron Buring."

"That's wrong," I cried, "there was a moment when I too believed in
his love for that woman, but it's a mistake . . . and even if it
were so, he might, I should think, be perfectly composed about it
now . . . since the retirement of that gentleman."

"What gentleman?"


"Who has told you of his retirement?  Perhaps the gentle man in
question never had any such views," she jeered malignantly; I
fancied too, that she looked at me jeeringly.

"Darya Onisimovna told me," I muttered in confusion, which I was
not able to conceal, and which she saw only too clearly.

"Darya Onisimovna is a very nice person, and, of course, I cannot
forbid her loving me, but she has no means of knowing what does not
concern her."

My heart began to ache; and, as she had been reckoning on rousing
my indignation, I did in fact begin to feel indignant, but not with
"that woman," but for the time being with Anna Andreyevna herself.
I got up.

"As an honourable man, I ought to warn you, Anna Andreyevna, that
your expectations . . . in regard to me . . . may turn out to be
utterly unfounded. . . ."

"I expect you to be my champion," she said, looking at me
resolutely: "abandoned as I am by every one . . . your sister,
if you care to have it so, Arkady Makarovitch."

Another instant, and she would have burst into tears.

"Well, you had better not expect anything, for, 'perhaps' nothing
will come of it," I muttered with an indescribable feeling of

"How am I to understand your words?" she said, showing her
consternation too plainly.

"Why, that I am going away from you all, and--that's the end of
it!" I suddenly exclaimed almost furiously, "and the LETTER--I
shall tear up.  Good-bye."

I bowed to her, and went out without speaking, though at the same
time I scarcely dared to look at her, but had hardly gone
downstairs when Darya Onisimovna ran after me, with a half sheet of
paper folded in two.  Where Darya Onisimovna had sprung from, and
where she had been sitting while I was talking with Anna
Andreyevna, I cannot conceive.  She did not utter a word, but
merely gave me the paper, and ran away.  I unfolded it: on the
paper, clearly and distinctly written, was Lambert's address, and
it had apparently been got ready several days before.  I suddenly
recalled that when Darya Onisimovna had been with me that day, I
had told her that I did not know where Lambert lived, meaning, "I
don't know and don't want to know."  But by this time I had learned
Lambert's address from Liza, whom I had specially asked to get it
for me from the address bureau.  Anna Andreyevna's action seemed to
me too definite, even cynical: although I had declined to assist
her, she was simply sending me straight to Lambert, as though she
had not the slightest faith in my refusal.  It was quite clear to
me that she knew everything about the letter, and from whom could
she have learnt it if not from Lambert, to whom she was sending me
that I might co-operate with him.

There was no doubt that they all, every one of them, looked upon me
as a feeble boy without character or will, with whom they could do
anything, I thought with indignation.


Nevertheless, I did go to Lambert's.  Where else could I have
satisfied my curiosity?  Lambert, as it appeared, lived a long way
off, in Cross Alley, close to the Summer Gardens, still in the same
lodgings; but when I ran away from him that night I had so
completely failed to notice the way and the distance, that when I
got his address from Liza, four days earlier, I was surprised and
could scarcely believe that he lived there.  As I was going
upstairs I noticed at the door of the flat, on the third storey,
two young men, and thought they had rung the bell before I came and
were waiting for the door to be opened.  While I was mounting the
stairs they both, turning their backs on the door, scrutinized me
very attentively.  "The flat is all let out in rooms, and they must
be going to see another lodger," I thought, frowning, as I went up
to them.  It would have been very disagreeable to me to find anyone
else at Lambert's.  Trying not to look at them, I put out my hand
to the bell.

"Attendez!" one of them cried to me.

"Please, please don't ring again yet," said the other young man in
a soft musical voice, slightly drawling the words.  "Here we'll
finish this, and then we'll all ring altogether.  Shall we?"

I waited.  They were both very young men, about twenty or twenty-
two; they were doing something rather strange at the door, and I
began to watch them with surprise.  The one who had cried
"attendez" was a very tall fellow, over six feet, thin and lean,
but very muscular, with a very small head in proportion to his
height, and with a strange, as it were comic expression of gloom on
his rather pock-marked though agreeable and by no means stupid
face.  There was a look as it were of exaggerated intentness and of
unnecessary and excessive determination in his eyes.  He was very
badly dressed: in an old wadded overcoat, with a little fur collar
of mangy-looking raccoon; it was too short for him and obviously
second-hand.  He had on shabby high boots almost like a peasant's,
and on his head was a horribly crushed, dirty-looking top-hat.  His
whole appearance was marked by slovenliness; his ungloved hands
were dirty and his long nails were black.  His companion, on the
other hand, was smartly dressed, judging from his light skunk fur
coat, his elegant hat, and the light new gloves on his slender
fingers; he was about my height, and he had an extremely charming
expression on his fresh and youthful face.

The tall fellow was taking off his tie--an utterly threadbare
greasy ribbon, hardly better than a piece of tape--and the pretty-
looking youth, taking out of his pocket another newly purchased
black tie, was putting it round the neck of the tall fellow, who,
with a perfectly serious face, submissively stretched out his very
long neck, throwing his overcoat back from his shoulders.

"No; it won't do if the shirt is so dirty," said the younger one,
"the effect won't be good, it will only make it look dirtier.  I
told you to put on a collar.  I don't know how . . . do you know
how to do it," he said, turning suddenly to me.

"What?" I asked.

"Why, fasten his tie.  You see it ought to go like this, to hide
his dirty shirt, or else the whole effect is spoilt whatever we do.
I have just bought the tie for a rouble at Filip's, the
hairdresser's, on purpose for him."

"Was it--that rouble?" muttered the tall one.

"Yes, I haven't a farthing now.  Then you can't do it?  In that
case we must ask Alphonsine."

"To see Lambert?" the tall fellow asked me abruptly.

"Yes," I answered with no less determination, looking him in the

"Dolgorowky?" he went on with the same air and the same voice.

"No, not Korovkin," I answered as abruptly, mistaking what he said.

"Dolgorowky?" the tall fellow almost shouted again, and he took a
step towards me almost menacingly.  His companion burst out

"He says 'Dolgorowky' and not Korovkin," he explained to me.  "You
know in the Journal des Debats the French constantly distort
Russian names. . . ."

"In the Independance," growled the tall fellow.

"Well, it's just the same in the Independance.  Dolgoruky, for
instance, they write Dolgorowky--I have seen it myself, and
Valonyev is always written comte Wallonieff."

"Doboyny! "cried the tall fellow.

"Yes, there's Doboyny, too, I've seen it myself; and we both
laughed; some Russian Madame Doboyny abroad . . . but there's no
need to mention them all, you know," he said, turning suddenly to
the tall fellow.

"Excuse me, are you M. Dolgoruky?"

"Yes, my name is Dolgoruky; how do you know it?"

The tall one suddenly whispered something to the pretty-looking
lad; the latter frowned and shook his head, but the tall fellow
immediately addressed me;

"Monsieur le prince, vous n'avez pas de rouble d'argent pour nous,
pas deux, mais un seul, voulez-vous?"

"Oh, how horrid you are," cried the boy.

"Nous vous rendons," concluded the tall one, mispronouncing the
French words coarsely and clumsily.

"He's a cynic, you know," the boy laughed to me; "and do you
suppose he can't speak French?  He speaks like a Parisian, but he
is mimicking those Russians who are awfully fond of talking aloud
in French together before other people, though they can't speak it
themselves. . . ."

"Dans les wagons," the tall fellow explained.

"To be sure, in railway carriages; oh, what a bore you are!
There's no need to explain.  Why will you always pretend to be a

Meanwhile I took out a rouble and offered it to the tall fellow.

"Nous vous rendons," said the latter, pocketing the rouble; and
turning to the door with a perfectly unmoved and serious face, he
proceeded to kick it with his huge coarse boot and without the
faintest sign of ill-humour. . . .

"Ah, you will be fighting with Lambert again!" the boy observed
uneasily.  "You had much better ring the bell!"

I rang the bell, but the tall fellow continued kicking the door

"Ah, sacre . . ." we heard Lambert's voice the other side of the
door, and he quickly opened it.

"Dites donc, voulez-vous que je vous casse la tete, mon ami!" he
shouted to the tall man.

"Mon ami, voila Dolgorowky, l'autre mon ami," the tall fellow
replied with dignified gravity, staring at Lambert, who was red
with anger.  As soon as the latter saw me, he seemed suddenly

"It's you, Arkady!  At last!  Then you are better, better are you
at last?"

He seized my hands, pressing them warmly; he was in fact so
genuinely delighted that I felt pleased at once, and even began to
like him.

"I've come to you first of all!"

"Alphonsine!" cried Lambert.

She instantly skipped out from behind the screen.

"Le voila!"

"C'est lui!" cried Alphonsine, clasping and unclasping her hands;
she would have rushed to embrace me, but Lambert protected me.

"There, there, there, down, down!" he shouted to her as though she
were a dog.  "It's like this, Arkady: some fellows have agreed to
dine together to-day at the Tatars'.  I shan't let you go, you must
come with us.  We'll have dinner; I'll get rid of these fellows at
once, and then we can have a chat.  Come in, come in!  We'll set
off at once, only wait a minute . . ."

I went in and stood in the middle of that room, looking about me,
and remembering it.  Lambert behind the screen hurriedly dressed.
The tall fellow and his companion followed us in, in spite of
Lambert's words.  We all remained standing.

"Mlle. Alphonsine, voulez-vous me baiser?" growled the tall man.

"Mlle. Alphonsine," the younger one was beginning, showing her the
tie, but she flew savagely at both of them.

"Ah, le petit vilain! " she shouted to the younger one; "ne
m'approchez pas, ne me salissez pas, et vous, le grand dadais, je
vous planque a la porte tous les deux, savez vous cela!"

Though she warned him off with contempt and disgust, as though she
were really afraid of being soiled by contact with him (which I
could not at all understand because he was such a pretty fellow,
and turned out to be just as well dressed when he took off his
overcoat), the younger of the two men kept asking her to tie his
tall friend's cravat for him, and to put him on one of Lambert's
clean collars first.  She was on the point of beating them in her
indignation at such a suggestion, but Lambert overhearing, shouted
to her behind the screen not to hinder them, but to do as they
asked; "they won't leave off if you don't," he added, and
Alphonsine instantly produced a collar and began to fasten the tall
man's cravat without the slightest sign of disinclination.  The man
stretched out his neck just as he had done on the stairs, while she
tied his cravat.

"Mlle. Alphonsine, avez vous vendu votre bologne?" he asked.

"Qu'est-ce que ca, ma bologne?"

The younger man explained that "ma bologne" meant a lapdog.

"Tiens, quel est ce baragouin?"

"Je parle comme une dame russe sur les eaux minerales," observed le
grand dadais, still with his neck outstretched.

"Qu'est-ce que ca qu'une dame russe sur les eaux minerales et . . .
ou est donc votre jolie montre, que Lambert vous a donnee," she
said suddenly to the younger one.

"What, no watch again," Lambert chimed in irritably behind the

"We've eaten it up!" growled le grand dadais.

"I sold it for eight roubles: it was only silver gilt, and you said
it was gold; so now at the shop it's only sixteen roubles," the
younger answered Lambert, defending himself reluctantly.

"We must put an end to this!" Lambert said even more irritably.  "I
don't buy you clothes, my young friend, and give you good things,
for you to spend them on your tall friend. . . .  What was that tie
too that you bought him?"

"That was only a rouble; that was not with your money.  He had no
cravat at all, and he ought to buy a hat too."

"Nonsense!" Lambert was really angry.  "I gave him enough for a hat
too, and he goes off and wastes it on oysters and champagne.  He
positively reeks; he's dirty and untidy; you can't take him
anywhere.  How can I take him out to dinner?"

"I'm a cad," growled the dadais.  "Nous avons un rouble d'argent
que nous avons prete chez notre nouvel ami."

"Don't you give him anything, Arkady," Lambert cried again.

"Excuse me, Lambert; I ask you plainly for ten roubles," cried the
boy, growing suddenly angry and flushing, which made him look twice
as handsome as before; "and don't ever dare to say such stupid
things as you did just now to Dolgoruky.  I must have ten roubles
to pay Dolgoruky back that rouble at once, and with the rest I'll
buy Andreyev a hat, so you see."

Lambert came out from behind the screen:

"Here are three yellow notes, and three roubles, and there's
nothing more till Tuesday, and don't dare . . . or else. . . ."

Le grand dadais fairly snatched the money from him.

"Dolgorowky, here is the rouble nous vous rendons avec beaucoup de
grace.  Petya, come along!" he called to his companion.  Then
holding up the two notes and waving them in the air, while he
stared fixedly at Lambert, he yelled at the top of his voice:

"Ohe Lambert!  Ou est Lambert, as-tu vu Lambert?"

"How dare you, how dare you," Lambert yelled too, in terrible
wrath: I saw that underlying all this was something in the past of
which I knew nothing, and I looked on in astonishment.  But the
tall fellow was not in the least alarmed by Lambert's wrath; on the
contrary, he yelled louder than ever:  "Ohe Lambert!" and so on.
And so shouting, they went out on the stairs.  Lambert was running
after them, but he turned back.

"I'll throw them out by the scr-r-ruff of their necks!  They cost
more than they are worth. . . .  Come along, Arkady!  I'm late.  I
am expected there by another . . . fellow I need . . . a beast
too. . . .  They're all beasts!  A low lot, a low lot!" he shouted
again, almost gnashing his teeth; but all at once he recovered
himself completely.

"I am glad that you have come at last.  Alphonsine, not a step out
of the house!  Let us go."

At the steps a smart turn-out was waiting for him.  We got in; but
all the way he could not quite regain his composure and get over a
sort of rage against the two young men.  I was surprised at his
taking it so seriously; and what's more, at their being so
disrespectful to Lambert, and his seeming almost frightened of

From the old impression that had been stamped on me from childhood,
it still seemed to me that every one must be afraid of Lambert, as
in spite of all my independence, I certainly stood in awe of him
myself at that moment.

"I tell you now they are all a low lot," Lambert persisted.  "Would
you believe it that tall ruffian pestered me, the day before
yesterday, in decent company.  He stood in front of me and shouted:
'Ohe Lambert!' in decent company!  Every one laughed, and do you
know, it was for me to give him money--would you believe it.  I
gave it him.  Oh, that--r-r-ruffian!  Would you believe it?  He was
an ensign in a regiment, but he was kicked out, and, you wouldn't
imagine it, but he is a man of education: he was brought up in a
good family, you would hardly believe it!  He has ideas, he
might . . . and damn it all!  And he is a perfect Hercules.  He is
of use, though of not much use.  And you can see he does not wash
his hands.  I interested a lady in his case, an old lady of very
good position, telling her that he was penitent, and on the point of
committing suicide from remorse, and he went to see her, sat down
and began whistling.  And the other, the pretty fellow, is a
general's son; his family is ashamed of him.  I got him off when he
was arrested, I saved him, and you see how he repays me.  There are
no people worth their salt here!  I'll pay them out, I'll pay them

"They know my name; did you talk to them about me?"

"Yes, it was stupid of me.  Please stay on a little after dinner,
control your feelings. . . .  There's an awful canaille coming.
Yes, he's an awful canaille, and awfully cunning; they are all
rascals here, there's not an honest man about!  Well, we'll finish--
then. . . .  What's your favourite dish?  But it doesn't matter,
the fare is always good.  I'll pay, don't you worry.  It's a good
thing you are well dressed.  I can give you money.  You must come
often.  Only fancy, I've stood them meat and drink here, it's fish
pie every day of the week; that watch he sold--it's the second
time.  That little fellow, Trishatov, you saw him; Alphonsine is
sick at the very sight of him, and won't let him come near her; and
here in the presence of officers he calls out:  'I must have
woodcock.'  I stood him woodcock!  But I'll pay them out."

"Do you remember, Lambert, how we went to a restaurant together in
Moscow, and you stuck a fork into me, and how you had fifty roubles

"Yes, I remember!  Damn it, I remember!  I like you . . . you may
believe it.  Nobody likes you; but I like you; I'm the only one
that does, you remember that. . . .  The pockmarked fellow that is
coming here is a cunning canaille; don't you answer any of his
questions; if he begins talking, it's all right; but if he begins
questioning, make some nonsensical answer, or hold your tongue."

At any rate, in his excitement he did not question me much on the
way.  I even felt insulted at his having such confidence in me, and
not even suspecting that I mistrusted him; I fancied that I
detected in him the absurd idea that he could still order me about.
"And what's more, he's awfully ignorant and ill-bred," I thought,
as I went into the restaurant.


I had been into that restaurant, in the Morskaya, before, during
my disgraceful period of degradation and depravity, and so the
impression of those rooms, of those lackeys looking at me, and
recognizing me as a familiar visitor, and finally the impression
made on me by the mysterious company of Lambert's friends, amongst
whom I found myself so suddenly, and to whom I seemed already to
belong, and above all an obscure feeling that of my own freewill I
was going into something abominable, and that I should certainly
end up by doing something horrid--all this seemed to go through me
in a flash.  There was a moment when I very nearly went away; but
the moment passed and I remained.

The "pock-marked man," of whom for some reason Lambert was so much
afraid, was already waiting for us.  He was one of those men of
stupidly practical appearance, whom I have always from my childhood
detested; he was about forty-five, of middle height, with hair just
turning grey.  He was disgustingly close-shaven, except for two
little neatly trimmed grey whiskers, like sausages, one on each
side of his extremely flat and spiteful-looking face.  He was of
course dull, solemn, and taciturn, and even conceited, as such
nonentities always are.  He looked at me very attentively, but he
did not say a word.  Lambert was so stupid that though he sat us
down at the same table together, he did not think it necessary to
introduce us, and so he may well have taken me for one of the
blackmailers associated with Lambert.  To the two young men (who
arrived almost simultaneously with us) he did not address a single
word during the whole of dinner, but it was evident that he knew
them well.  He talked only to Lambert, and then almost in a
whisper, and indeed Lambert did most of the talking, and the
pock-marked man confined himself to fragmentary and wrathful
ejaculations, which sounded like an ultimatum.  He behaved
superciliously, was ill-humoured and sarcastic, while Lambert on
the other hand was extremely excited and was evidently trying to
persuade him all the time, probably urging him on to some
undertaking.  On one occasion I put out my hand to take a bottle of
red wine; the pock-marked man immediately took a bottle of sherry
and handed it to me, though he had not said a word to me till then.

"Try this," he said, offering me the bottle.  I guessed, on the
spot, that he too, knew everything in the world about me--my story,
and my name, and perhaps the fact that Lambert was counting upon
me.  The idea that he was taking me for a satellite maddened me
again, and Lambert's face betrayed an intense and very stupid
uneasiness when the pock-marked man addressed me; the latter
noticed it and laughed.  "There's no doubt that Lambert depends on
all of them," I thought, hating him at that instant with my whole
soul.  In this way, though we were sitting at the same table,
throughout the whole dinner we were divided into two groups; the
pock-marked man with Lambert, facing each other close to the
window, while I was beside the grubby Andreyev, and Trishatov sat
facing me.  Lambert hurried on the dinner, continually urging the
waiters to make haste with the dishes.  When the champagne was
brought he held out his glass to me:

"To your health, let's clink glasses!" he said, breaking off his
conversation with the pock-marked man.

"And will you let me clink with you too?" said the pretty youth,
holding out his glass across the table.  Till the champagne arrived
he had been very silent, and seemed pensive.  The dadais said
nothing at all, but sat silent and ate a great deal.

"With pleasure," I answered Trishatov.  We clinked glasses and

"But I'm not going to drink your health," observed the dadais
turning to me; "not because I desire your death, but so that you
may not drink any more here to-day."  He spoke gloomily and
ponderously.  "Three glasses is enough for you.  I see you are
looking at my unwashed fist!" he went on, putting his fist on the
table.  "I don't wash it, but as it is I put it at Lambert's
service for smashing other people's heads when he's in a tight
place."  And saying this he brought down his fist on the table with
such force that he set all the plates and glasses rattling.
Besides us there were people dining at four other tables, all of
them officers or gentlemen of dignified appearance.  It was a
fashionable restaurant; all broke off their conversation for a
moment and looked round to our corner; and indeed I fancied we had
attracted curiosity for some time past.  Lambert flushed crimson.

"Ah, he's at it again!  I thought I had asked you to behave
yourself, Nikolay Semyonovitch," he said to Andreyev in a furious
whisper.  The latter gave him a prolonged stare.

"I don't want my new friend Dolgorowky to drink a great deal here

Lambert flushed more hotly than ever.

The pock-marked man listened in silence but with evident pleasure.
Andreyev's behaviour seemed to please him, for some reason.  I was
the only one who did not understand why I was not to drink much

"He says that because he's only just had some money!  You shall
have another seven roubles directly after dinner--only do let us
have dinner, don't disgrace us," Lambert hissed at him.

"Aha!" the dadais growled triumphantly.  At this the pock-marked
man was absolutely delighted, and he sniggered spitefully.

"Listen, you really . . ." began Trishatov to his friend with
uneasiness and almost distress in his voice, evidently anxious to
restrain him.  Andreyev subsided, but not for long; that was not
his intention.  Just across the table, five paces from us, two
gentleman were dining, engaged in lively conversation.  Both were
middle-aged gentleman, who looked extremely conscious of their own
dignity; one was tall and very stout, the other was also very stout
but short, they were discussing in Polish the events of the day in
Paris.  For some time past the dadais had been watching them
inquisitively and listening to their talk.  The short Pole
evidently struck him as a comic figure, and he promptly conceived
an aversion for him after the manner of envious and splenetic
people, who often take such sudden dislikes for no reason whatever.
Suddenly the short Pole pronounced the name of the deputy, Madier
de Montjeau, but, as so many Poles do, he pronounced it with an
accent on the syllable before the last, instead of on the last
syllable; this was enough for the dadais, he turned to the Poles,
and drawing up himself with dignity, he suddenly articulated loudly
and distinctly as though addressing a question to them:

"Madier de Montjeau?"

The Poles turned to him savagely.

"What do you want?" the tall stout Pole shouted threateningly to
him in Russian.

The dadais paused.  "Madier de Montjeau," he repeated suddenly
again, to be heard by the whole room, giving no sort of
explanation, just as he had stupidly set upon me at the door with
the reiterated question "Dolgorowky."  The Poles jumped up from
their seats, Lambert leapt up from the table and rushed to
Andreyev, but leaving him, darted up to the Poles and began making
cringing apologies to them.

"They are buffoons, Pani, they are buffoons," the little Pole
repeated contemptuously, as red as a carrot with indignation.
"Soon it will be impossible to come!"  There was a stir all over
the room too, and a murmur of disapproval, though laughter was

"Come out . . . please . . . come along!" Lambert muttered
completely disconcerted, doing his utmost to get Andreyev out of
the room.  The latter looking searchingly at Lambert, and judging
that he would now give the money, agreed to follow him.  Probably
he had already extorted money from Lambert by the same kind of
disgraceful behaviour.  Trishatov seemed about to run after them
too, but he looked at me and checked himself.

"Ach, how horrid," he said hiding his eyes with his slender

"Very horrid," whispered the pock-marked man, looking really angry
at last.

Meanwhile Lambert came back looking quite pale, and gesticulating
eagerly, began whispering something to the pock-marked man.  The
latter listened disdainfully, and meanwhile ordered the waiter to
make haste with the coffee; he was evidently in a hurry to get off.
And yet the whole affair had only been a schoolboyish prank.
Trishatov got up with his cup of coffee, and came and sat down
beside me.

"I am very fond of him," he said to me with a face as open as
though he had been talking to me like this all his life.  "You
can't imagine how unhappy Andreyev is.  He has wasted all his
sister's dowry on eating and drinking, and in fact all they had he
spent on eating and drinking during the year he was in the service,
and I see now he worries.  And as for his not washing, it's just
through despair.  And he has awfully strange ideas: he'll tell you
all of a sudden that he's both a scoundrel and an honest man--that
it's all the same and no difference: and that there's no need to do
anything, either good or bad, they are just the same, one may do
good or bad, but that the best of all is to be still, not taking
off one's clothes for a month at a time, to eat, and drink, and
sleep--and nothing else.  But believe me, he only says that.  And
do you know, I really believe he played the fool like this just now
to break off with Lambert once for all.  He spoke of it yesterday.
Would you believe it, sometimes at night or when he has been
sitting long alone, he begins to cry, and, do you know, when he
cries, it's different from anyone else; he howls, he howls in an
awful way, and you know it's even more pitiful . . . and he's such
a big strong fellow, and then all of a sudden--to see him howling.
It is sad, poor fellow, isn't it?  I want to save him, though I am
a wretched hopeless scamp myself, you wouldn't believe.  Will you
let me in, Dolgoruky, if I ever come and see you?"

"Oh, do come, I really like you."

"What for?  Well, thank you.  Listen, will you drink another glass?
But after all you'd better not.  He was right when he said you had
better not drink any more," he suddenly gave me a significant wink,
"but I'll drink it all the same.  I have nothing now, but would you
believe it, I can't hold myself back in anything; if you were to
tell me I must not dine at a restaurant again, I should be ready to
do anything, simply to dine there.  Oh, we genuinely want to be
honest, I assure you, but we keep putting it off,

          "And the years pass by and the best of our years!

"I am awfully afraid that he will hang himself.  He'll go and do it
without telling anyone.  He's like that.  They are all hanging
themselves nowadays; why, I don't know--perhaps there are a great
many people like us.  I, for instance, can't exist without money to
spend.  Luxuries matter a great deal more to me than necessities.

"I say, are you fond of music?  I'm awfully fond of it.  I'll play
you something when I come and see you.  I play very well on the
piano and I studied music a very long time.  I've studied seriously.
If I were to compose an opera, do you know I should take the subject
from Faust.  I am very fond of that subject.  I am always making up
a scene in the cathedral, just imagining it in my head, I mean.  The
Gothic cathedral, the interior, the choirs, the hymns; Gretchen
enters, and mediaeval singing, you know, so that you can hear the
fifteenth century in it.  Gretchen overwhelmed with grief; to begin
with a recitative, subdued but terrible, full of anguish; the choirs
thunder on, gloomily, sternly, callously,

          "Dies irae, dies illa!

"And all of a sudden--the voice of the devil, the song of the
devil.  He is unseen, there is only his song, side by side with the
hymns, mingling with the hymns, almost melting into them, but at
the same time quite different from them--that must be managed
somehow.  The song is prolonged, persistent, it must be a tenor, it
must be a tenor.  It begins softly, tenderly:  'Do you remember,
Gretchen, when you were innocent, when you were a child, you came
with your mother to this cathedral and lisped your prayers from an
old prayer-book?'  But the song gets louder and louder, more
intense; on higher notes: there's a sound of tears in them, misery
unceasing, and hopeless, and finally despair.  'There's no
forgiveness, Gretchen, there's no forgiveness for you here!'
Gretchen tries to pray, but only cries of misery rise up from her
soul--you know when the breast is convulsed with tears--but Satan's
song never ceases, and pierces deeper and deeper into the soul like
a spear; it gets higher and higher, and suddenly breaks off almost
in a shriek:  'The end to all, accursed one!'  Gretchen falls on
her knees, clasps her hands before her--and then comes her prayer,
something very short, semi-recitative, but naive, entirely without
ornament, something mediaeval in the extreme, four lines, only four
lines altogether--Stradella has some such notes--and at the last
note she swoons!  General confusion.  She is picked up, carried
out, and then the choir thunders forth.  It is, as it were, a storm
of voices, a hymn of inspiration, of victory, overwhelming,
something in the style of our

          'Borne on high by angels'

--so that everything is shaken to its foundations, and it all
passes into the triumphant cry of exaltation 'Hosanna!'--as though
it were the cry of the whole universe and it rises and rises, and
then the curtain falls!  Yes, you know if only I could, I should
have done something; only I can never do anything now, I do nothing
but dream.  I am always dreaming; my whole life has turned into a
dream.  I dream at night too.  Ah, Dolgoruky, have you read
Dickens' 'Old Curiosity Shop'?"

"Yes, why?"

"Do you remember--wait, I will have another glass--do you remember,
there's one passage at the end, when they--that mad old man and
that charming girl of thirteen, his grandchild, take refuge after
their fantastic flight and wandering in some remote place in
England, near a Gothic mediaeval church, and the little girl has
received some post there, and shows the church to visitors . . .
then the sun is setting, and the child in the church porch, bathed
in the last rays of light, stands and gazes at the sunset, with
gentle pensive contemplation in her child soul, a soul full of
wonder as though before some mystery, for both alike are mysteries,
the sun, the thought of God, and the church, the thought of man,
aren't they?  Oh, I don't know how to express it, only God loves
such first thoughts in children. . . .  While near her, on the
step, the crazy old grandfather gazes at her with a fixed look . . .
you know there's nothing special in it, in that picture of
Dickens, there's absolutely nothing in it, but yet one will
remember it all one's life, and it has survived for all Europe--
why?  It's splendid!  It's the innocence in it!  And I don't know
what there is in it, but it's fine.  I used always to be reading
novels when I was at school.  Do you know I had a sister in the
country only a year older than me. . . .  Oh, now it's all sold,
and we have no country-place!  I was sitting with her on the
terrace under our old lime trees, we were reading that novel, and
the sun was setting too, and suddenly we left off reading, and said
to one another that we would be kind too, that we would be good--I
was then preparing for the university and . . . Ach, Dolgoruky, you
know, every man has his memories! . . ."

And he suddenly let his pretty little head fall on my shoulder and
burst out crying.  I felt very very sorry for him.  It is true that
he had drunk a great deal of wine, but he had talked to me so
sincerely, so like a brother, with such feeling. . . .  Suddenly,
at that instant, we heard a shout from the street, and there was a
violent tapping at the window (there was a large plate-glass window
on the ground floor, so that anyone could tap on the window with
his fingers from the street).  This was the ejected Andreyev.

"Ohe Lambert!  Ou est Lambert?  As-tu vu Lambert?" we heard his
wild shout in the street.

"Ah! yes, here he is!  So he's not gone away?" cried the boy,
jumping up from his place.

"Our account!" Lambert cried through his clenched teeth to the
waiter.  His hands shook with anger as he paid the bill, but the
pock-marked man did not allow Lambert to pay for him.

"Why not?  Why, I invited you, you accepted my invitation."

"No, excuse me," the pock-marked man pulled out his purse, and
reckoning out his share he paid separately.

"You'll offend me, Semyon Sidorovitch."

"That's what I wish," Semyon Sidorovitch snapped out, taking his
hat, and without saying good-bye to anybody, he walked alone out of
the room.  Lambert tossed the money to the waiter and hurriedly ran
after him, even forgetting my existence in his confusion.  Trishatov
and I walked out last of all.  Andreyev was standing like a post
at the door, waiting for Trishatov.

"You scoundrel!" cried Lambert, unable to restrain himself.

"There, there!" Andreyev grunted at him, and with one swing of his
arm he knocked off his round hat, which went spinning along the
pavement.  Lambert flew abjectly to pick it up.

"Vinq-cinq roubles!"  Andreyev showed Trishatov the note, which he
had just got from Lambert.

"That's enough," Trishatov shouted to him.  "Why must you always
make an uproar? . . .  And why have you wrung twenty-five roubles
out of him?  You only ought to have had seven."

"Why did I wring it out of him?  He promised us a private dinner
with Athenian women, and instead of women he regaled us with the
pock-marked man, and what's more, I did not finish my dinner and
I've been freezing here in the cold, it's certainly worth eighteen
roubles.  He owed me seven, so that makes twenty-five."

"Go to the devil both of you!" yelled Lambert.  "I'll send you both
packing, I'll pay you out . . ."

"Lambert, I'll send you packing.  I'll pay you out!" cried
Andreyev.  "Adieu, mon prince, don't drink any more wine!  Petya,
marche!  Ohe Lambert!  Ou est Lambert?  As-tu vu Lambert?" he
roared for the last time as he strode away.

"So I shall come and see you, may I?" Trishatov murmured hurriedly,
and hastened after his friend.

I was left alone with Lambert.

"Well . . . come along!" he brought out, seeming stupefied and
breathing with difficulty.

"Where shall I come along?  I'm not coming anywhere with you!" I
made haste to reply defiantly.

"You're not coming," he said, startled and apprehensive.  "Why, I
have only been waiting for us to be alone!"

"But where to go?"  I must confess I, too, had a slight ringing in
my head, from the three glasses of champagne and the two wine-
glasses of sherry I had drunk.

"This way, this way.  Do you see?"

"But this is an oyster bar: you see it is written up.  It smells so
horrid . . ."

"That's only because you have just had dinner.  We won't have
oysters, but I'll give you some champagne. . . ."

"I don't want any!  You want to make me drunk."

"That's what they told you; they've been laughing at you.  You
believe blackguards like that!"

"No, Trishatov's not a blackguard.  But I know how to take care of
myself--that's all!"

"So you've a will of your own, have you?"

"Yes, I have a character; more than you have, for you're servile to
everybody you meet.  You disgraced us, you begged pardon of the
Poles like a lackey.  I suppose you've often been beaten in

"But we must have a talk, you fool!" he cried with the same
contemptuous impatience, which almost implied, what are you driving
at?  "Why, you are afraid, aren't you?  Are you my friend or not?"

"I am not your friend and you are a swindler.  We'll go along
simply to show you I'm not afraid of you.  Oh, what a horrid smell,
it smells of cheese!  How disgusting!"



I must beg the reader to remember again that I had a slight
giddiness in my head; if it had not been for that I should have
acted and spoken differently.  In the shop, in a back room, one
could indeed have eaten oysters, and we sat down to a table covered
with a filthy cloth.  Lambert ordered champagne; a glass of cold
wine of a golden colour was set before me and seemed looking at me
invitingly; but I felt annoyed.

"You see, Lambert, what annoys me most is that you think you can
order me about now as you used to do at Touchard's, while you are
cringing upon everybody here."

"You fool!  Aie, let's clink glasses."

"You don't even deign to keep up appearances with me: you might at
least disguise the fact that you want to make me drunk."

"You are talking rot and you're drunk.  You must drink some more,
and you'll be more cheerful.  Take your glass, take it!"

"Why do you keep on 'take it'?  I am going and that's the end of

And I really did get up.  He was awfully vexed:

"It was Trishatov whispered that to you: I saw you whispering.  You
are a fool for that.  Alphonsine is really disgusted if he goes
near her. . . .  He's a dirty beast, I'll tell you what he's like."

"You've told me already.  You can talk of nothing but your
Alphonsine, you're frightfully limited."

"Limited?" he did not understand.  "They've gone over now to that
pock-marked fellow.  That's what it is!  That's why I sent them
about their business.  They're dishonest.  That fellow's a
blackguard and he's corrupting them.  I insisted that they should
always behave decently."

I sat still and as it were mechanically took my glass and drank a

"I'm ever so far ahead of you in education," I said.  But he was
only too delighted that I went on sitting there, and at once filled
up my glass.

"And you know you're afraid of them!" I went on taunting him, and
no doubt I was even nastier than he was at that moment.  "Andreyev
knocked your hat off, and you gave him twenty-five roubles for it."

"I did give it him, but he'll pay me back.  They are rebellious,
but I'll be quits with them."

"You are awfully upset by that pock-marked man.  And do you know it
strikes me that I'm the only one left you.  All your hopes now are
resting on me--aren't they?"

"Yes, Arkasha, that is so: you are the only friend left me; you are
right in saying that!" he slapped me on the shoulder.

What could be done with a man so crude; he was utterly obtuse, and
took irony for serious praise.

"You could save me from bad things if you would be a good comrade,
Arkady," he went on, looking at me caressingly.

"In what way could I save you?"

"You know yourself what it is.  Without me, like a fool, you will
certainly be stupid; but I'd get you thirty thousand and we would
go halves and you know how.  Why, think who you are; you're
nothing--no name, no position, and here you'd win first prize
straight off: and having such a fortune, you'll know how to make a

I was simply astounded at this attack.  I had taken for granted
that he would dissemble, but he had begun upon it with such
bluntness, such schoolboyish bluntness.  I resolved to listen to
him from a desire to be open-minded and . . . from intense

"Look here, Lambert, you won't understand this, but I'm consenting
to listen to you because I'm open-minded," I declared firmly, and
again I took a gulp at my glass.  Lambert at once filled it up.

"I'll tell you what, Arkady: if a fellow like Buring had dared to
abuse me and strike me in the presence of a lady I adored, I don't
know what I should have done!  But you put up with it, I'm ashamed
of you: you're a poor creature!"

"How dare you say that Buring struck me!" I shouted, turning
crimson.  "It was more I struck him than he me."

"No, it was he struck you, not you struck him."

"You're lying, I trod on his foot too!"

"But he shoved you back, and told the footman to drag you away . . .
and she sat and looked on from her carriage and laughed at you;
she knows that you have no father and that you can be insulted."

"I don't understand this schoolboyish conversation, Lambert, and
I'm ashamed of it.  You are saying this to irritate me, and as
crudely and as openly as though I were a boy of sixteen.  You've
been plotting with Anna Andreyevna!" I cried, trembling with anger,
and still mechanically sipping my wine.

"Anna Andreyevna's a sly jade!  She's humbugging you and me and all
the world!  I have been waiting for you, because you can best
finish off with that woman."

"With what woman?"

"With Madame Ahmakov.  I know all about it.  You told me yourself
that she is afraid of that letter you've got . . ."

"What letter . . . you're talking nonsense. . . .  Have you seen
her?" I muttered in confusion.

"Yes, I saw her.  She's beautiful.  Tres belle; and you've taste."

"I know you've seen her but you did not dare speak to her, and I
wish you did not dare to speak of her either."

"You're a boy, and she laughs at you--so there!  We had a virtuous
lady like that in Moscow.  Ough, didn't she turn up her nose! but
she began to tremble when we threatened that we would tell all we
knew and she knuckled under directly; and we got all we wanted both
ways, money, and--you understand?  Now she's virtue unapproachable
again in society--foo! my word, isn't she high and mighty, and
hasn't she got a turn-out.  Ah, you should have seen that little
back room it happened in!  You've not lived; if only you knew the
little back rooms they don't shrink from . . ."

"I've thought that," I could not help muttering.

"They're corrupt to their very finger-tips; you don't know what
they're capable of!  Alphonsine lived in a house like that, and she
was disgusted."

"I have thought of that," I chimed in again.

"But they beat you, and you complain . . ."

"Lambert, you're a blackguard, you're a damned beast!" I cried,
suddenly pulling myself together and beginning to tremble.  "I have
dreamed all this, you were in it and Anna Andreyevna. . . .  Oh,
you damned brute!  Did you really think I was such a scoundrel?
I dreamed it because I knew that you would say this.  And besides,
all this can't be so simple that you can talk to me about it so
simply and directly."

"He is in a rage, tut, tut, tut!" Lambert drawled, laughing and
triumphant.  "Well, Arkasha, my boy, now I've found out all I
wanted to know.  That's why I was so eager to see you.  Listen, you
love her I see, and want to revenge yourself on Buring.  That's
what I wanted to find out.  I've been suspecting it all this time
while I've been waiting to see you.  Ceci pose, cela change la
question.  And so much the better, for she loves you too.  So you
must marry her without a moment's delay, that's the best thing; you
can't do anything else, that's your safest position.  And then
remember, Arkady, that you have a friend in me of whom you can make
any use you like.  And that friend will help you, and will marry
you: I'll move heaven and earth, Arkasha!  And you can give your
old friend thirty thousand for his trouble afterwards, eh?  And
I'll help you, don't doubt that.  I know all the ins and outs of
the business, and they shall give you the whole dowry, and you'll
be a wealthy man with a career before you!"

Though my head was in a whirl I looked at Lambert with wonder.  He
was in earnest, and not merely in earnest in what he said, but in