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VII

“Do you know,” he began, with flashing eyes, almost menacingly, bending right forward in his chair, raising the forefinger of his right hand above him (obviously unaware that he was doing so), “do you know who are the only 'god-bearing' people on earth, destined to regenerate and save the world in the name of a new God, and to whom are given the keys of life and of the new world . . . Do you know which is that people and what is its name?”

“From your manner I am forced to conclude, and I think I may as well do so at once, that it is the Russian people.”

“And you can laugh, oh, what a race!” Shatov burst out.

“Calm yourself, I beg of you; on the contrary, I was expecting something of the sort from you.”

“You expected something of the sort? And don't you know those words yourself?”

“I know them very well. I see only too well what you're driving at. All your phrases, even the expression 'god-bearing people' is only a sequel to our talk two years ago, abroad, not long before you went to America. ... At least, as far as I can recall it now.”

“It's your phrase altogether, not mine. Your own, not simply the sequel of our conversation. 'Our' conversation it was not at all. It was a teacher uttering weighty words, and a pupil who was raised from the dead. I was that pupil and you were the teacher.”

“But, if you remember, it was just after my words you joined their society, and only afterwards went away to America.”

“Yes, and I wrote to you from America about that. I wrote to you about everything. Yes, I could not at once tear my bleeding heart from what I had grown into from childhood, on which had been lavished all the raptures of my hopes and all the tears of my hatred. ... It is difficult to change gods. I did not believe you then, because I did not want to believe, I plunged for the last time into that sewer. . . . But the seed remained and grew up. Seriously, tell me seriously, didn't you read all my letter from America, perhaps you didn't read it at all?”

“I read three pages of it. The two first and the last. And I glanced through the middle as well. But I was always meaning . . .”

“Ah, never mind, drop it! Damn it!” cried Shatov, waving his hand. .”If you've renounced those words about the people now, how could you have uttered them then? . . . That's what crushes me now.”

“I wasn't joking with you then; in persuading you I was perhaps more concerned with myself than with you,” Stavrogin pronounced enigmatically.

“You weren't joking! In America I was lying for three months on straw beside a hapless creature, and I learnt from him that at the very time when you were sowing the seed of God and the Fatherland in my heart, at that very time, perhaps during those very days, you were infecting the heart of that hapless creature, that maniac Kirillov, with poison . . . you confirmed false malignant ideas in him, and brought him to the verge of insanity. . . . Go, look at him now, he is your creation . . . you've seen him though.”

“In the first place, I must observe that Kirillov himself told me that he is happy and that he's good. Your supposition that all this was going on at the same time is almost correct. But what of it? I repeat, I was not deceiving either of you.”

“Are you an atheist? An atheist now?”

“Yes.”

“And then?”

“Just as I was then.”

“I wasn't asking you to treat me with respect when I began the conversation. With your intellect you might have understood that,” Shatov muttered indignantly.

“I didn't get up at your first word, I didn't close the conversation, I didn't go away from you, but have been sitting here ever since submissively answering your questions and . . . cries, so it seems I have not been lacking in respect to you yet.” Shatov interrupted, waving his hand.

“Do you remember your expression that 'an atheist can't be a Russian,' that 'an atheist at once ceases to be a Russian'? Do you remember saying that?”

“Did I?” Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch questioned him back. “You ask? You've forgotten? And yet that was one of the truest statements of the leading peculiarity of the Russian soul, which you divined. You can't have forgotten it! I will remind you of something else: you said then that 'a man who was not orthodox could not be Russian.'”

“I imagine that's a Slavophil idea.”

“The Slavophils of to-day disown it. Nowadays, people have grown cleverer. But you went further: you believed that Roman Catholicism was not Christianity; you asserted that Rome proclaimed Christ subject to the third temptation of the devil. Announcing to all the world that Christ without an earthly kingdom cannot hold his ground upon earth, Catholicism by so doing proclaimed Antichrist and ruined the whole Western world. You pointed out that if France is in agonies now it's simply the fault of Catholicism, for she has rejected the iniquitous God of Rome and has not found a new one. That's what you could say then! I remember our conversations.”

“If I believed, no doubt I should repeat it even now. I wasn't lying when I spoke as though I had faith,” Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch pronounced very earnestly. “But I must tell you, this repetition of my ideas in the past makes a very disagreeable impression on me. Can't you leave off?”

“If you believe it?” repeated Shatov, paying not the slightest attention to this request. “But didn't you tell me that if it were mathematically proved to you that the truth excludes Christ, you'd prefer to stick to Christ rather than to the truth? Did you say that? Did you? ''

“But allow me too at last to ask a question,” said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, raising his voice. “What is the object of this irritable and . . . malicious cross-examination?”

“This examination will be over for all eternity, and you will never hear it mentioned again.”

“You keep insisting that we are outside the limits of time and space.”

“Hold your tongue!” Shatov cried suddenly. “I am stupid and awkward, but let my name perish in ignominy! Let me repeat your leading idea. . . . Oh, only a dozen lines, only the conclusion.”

“Repeat it, if it's only the conclusion. . . .” Stavrogin made a movement to look at his watch, but restrained himself and did not look.

Shatov bent forward in his chair again and again held up his finger for a moment.

“Not a single nation,” he went on, as though reading it line by line, still gazing menacingly at Stavrogin, “not a single nation has ever been founded on principles of science or reason. There has never been an example of it, except for a brief moment, through folly. Socialism is from its very nature bound to be atheism, seeing that it has from the very first proclaimed that it is an atheistic organisation of society, and that it intends to establish itself exclusively on the elements of science and reason. Science and reason have, from the beginning of time, played a secondary and subordinate part in the life of nations; so it will be till the end of time. Nations are built up and moved by another force which sways and dominates them, the origin of which is unknown and inexplicable: that force is the force of an insatiable desire to go on to the end, though at the same time it denies that end. It is the force of the persistent assertion of one's own existence, and a denial of death. It's the spirit of life, as the Scriptures call it, 'the river of living water,' the drying up of which is threatened in the Apocalypse. It's the aesthetic principle, as the philosophers call it, the ethical principle with which they identify it, 'the seeking for God,' as I call it more simply. The object of every national movement, in every people and at every period of its existence is only the seeking for its god, who must be its own god, and the faith in Him as the only true one. God is the synthetic personality of the whole people, taken from its beginning to its end. It has never happened that all, or even many, peoples have had one common, god, but each has always had its own. It's a sign of the decay of nations when they begin to have gods in common. When gods begin to be common to several nations the gods are dying and the faith in them, together with the nations themselves. The stronger a people the more individual their God. There never has been a nation without a religion, that is, without an idea of good and evil. Every people has its own conception of good and evil, and its own good and evil. When the same conceptions of good and evil become prevalent in several nations, then these nations are dying, and then the very distinction between good and evil is beginning to disappear. Reason has never had the power to define good and evil, or even to distinguish between good and evil, even approximately; on the contrary, it has always mixed them up in a disgraceful and pitiful way; science has even given the solution by the fist. This is particularly characteristic of the half-truths of science, the most terrible scourge of humanity, unknown till this century, and worse than plague, famine, or war. A half-truth is a despot .. such as has never been in the world before. A despot that has its priests and its slaves, a despot to whom all do homage with love and superstition hitherto inconceivable, before which science itself trembles and cringes in a shameful way. These are your own words, Stavrogin, all except that about the half-truth; that's my own because I am myself a case of half-knowledge, and that's why I hate it particularly. I haven't altered anything of your ideas or even of your words, not a syllable.”

“I don't agree that you've not altered anything,” Stavrogin observed cautiously. “You accepted them with ardour, and in your ardour have transformed them unconsciously. The very fact that you reduce God to a simple attribute of nationality ...”

He suddenly began watching Shatov with intense and peculiar attention, not so much his words as himself.

“I reduce God to the attribute of nationality?” cried Shatov. “On the contrary, I raise the people to God. And has it ever been otherwise? The people is the body of God. Every people is only a people so long as it has its own god and excludes all other gods on earth irreconcilably; so long as it believes that by its god it will conquer and drive out of the world all other gods. Such, from the beginning of time, has been the belief of all great nations, all, anyway, who have been specially remarkable, all who have been leaders of humanity. There is no going against facts. The Jews lived only to await the coming of the true God and left the world the true God. The Greeks deified nature and bequeathed the world their religion, that is, philosophy and art. Rome deified the people in the State, and bequeathed the idea of the State to the nations. France throughout her long history was only the incarnation and development of the Roman god, and if they have at last flung their Roman god into the abyss and plunged into atheism, which, for the time being, they call socialism, it is solely because socialism is, anyway, healthier than Roman Catholicism. If a great people does not believe that the truth is only to be found in itself alone (in itself alone and in it exclusively); if it does not believe that it alone is fit and destined to raise up and save all the rest by its truth, it would at once sink into being ethnographical material, and not a great people. A really great people can never accept a secondary part in the history of Humanity, nor even one of the first, but will have the first part. A nation which loses this belief ceases to be a nation. But there is only one truth, and therefore only a single one out of the nations can have the true God, even though other nations may have great gods of their own. Only one nation is 'god-bearing,' that's the Russian people, and . . . and . . . and can you think me such a fool, Stavrogin,” he yelled frantically all at once, “that I can't distinguish whether my words at this moment are the rotten old commonplaces that have been ground out in all the Slavophil mills in Moscow, or a perfectly new saying, the last word, the sole word of renewal and resurrection, and . . . and what do I care for your laughter at this minute! What do I care that you utterly, utterly fail to understand me, not a word, not a sound! Oh, how I despise your haughty laughter and your look at this minute!”

He jumped up from his seat; there was positively foam on his lips.

“On the contrary Shatov, on the contrary,” Stavrogin began with extraordinary earnestness and self-control, still keeping his seat, “on the contrary, your fervent words have revived many extremely powerful recollections in me. In your words I recognise my own mood two years ago, and now I will not tell you, as I did just now, that you have exaggerated my ideas. I believe, indeed, that they were even more exceptional, even more independent, and I assure you for the third time that I should be very glad to confirm all that you've said just now, every syllable of it, but ...”

“But you want a hare!”

“Wh-a-t?”

“Your own nasty expression,” Shatov laughed spitefully, sitting down again. “To cook your hare you must first catch it, to believe in God you must first have a god. You used to say that in Petersburg, I'm told, like Nozdryov, who tried to catch a hare by his hind legs.”

“No, what he did was to boast he'd caught him. By the way, allow me to trouble you with a question though, for indeed I think I have the right to one now. Tell me, have you caught your hare?”

“Don't dare to ask me in such words! Ask differently, quite differently.” Shatov suddenly began trembling all over.

“Certainly I'll ask differently.” Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch looked coldly at him. “I only wanted to know, do you believe in God, yourself?”

“I believe in Russia. ... I believe in her orthodoxy. ... I believe in the body of Christ. ... I believe that the new advent will take place in Russia. . . . I believe ...” Shatov muttered frantically.

“And in God? In God?”

“I ... I will believe in God.”

Not one muscle moved in Stavrogin's face. Shatov looked passionately and defiantly at him, as though he would have scorched him with his eyes.

“I haven't told you that I don't believe,”, he cried at last. “I will only have you know that I am a luckless, tedious book, and nothing more so far, so far. . . . But confound me! We're discussing you not me. . . . I'm a man of no talent, and can only give my blood, nothing more, like every man without talent; never mind my blood either! I'm talking about you. I've been waiting here two years for you. . . . Here I've been dancing about in my nakedness before you for the last half-hour. You, only you can raise that flag! . . .”

He broke off, and sat as though in despair, with his elbows on the table and his head in his hands.

“I merely mention it as something queer,” Stavrogin interrupted suddenly. “Every one for some inexplicable reason keeps foisting a flag upon me. Pyotr Verhovensky, too, is convinced that I might' raise his flag,' that's how his words were repeated to me, anyway. He has taken it into his head that I'm capable of playing the part of Stenka Razin for them, 'from my extraordinary aptitude for crime,' his saying too.”

“What?” cried Shatov, “'from your extraordinary aptitude for crime'?”

“Just so.”

“H'm! And is it true?” he asked, with an angry smile. “Is it true that when you were in Petersburg you belonged to a secret society for practising beastly sensuality? Is it true that you could give lessons to the Marquis de Sade? Is it true that you decoyed and corrupted children? Speak, don't dare to lie,” he cried, beside himself. “Nikolay Stavrogin cannot lie to Shatov, who struck him in the face. Tell me everything, and if it's true I'll kill you, here, on the spot!”

“I did talk like that, but it was not I who outraged children,” Stavrogin brought out, after a silence that lasted too long. He turned pale and his eyes gleamed.

“But you talked like that,” Shatov went on imperiously, keeping his flashing eyes fastened upon him. “Is it true that you declared that you saw no distinction in beauty between some brutal obscene action and any great exploit, even the sacrifice of life for the good of humanity? Is it true that you have found identical beauty, equal enjoyment, in both extremes?”

“It's impossible to answer like this. ... I won't answer,” muttered Stavrogin, who might well have got up and gone away, but who did not get up and go away.

“I don't know either why evil is hateful and good is beautiful, but I know why the sense of that distinction is effaced and lost in people like the Stavrogins,” Shatov persisted, trembling all over. “Do you know why you made that base and shameful marriage? Simply because the shame and senselessness of it reached the pitch of genius! Oh, you are not one of those who linger on the brink. You fly head foremost. You married from a passion for martyrdom, from a craving for remorse, through moral sensuality. It was a laceration of the nerves. . . Defiance of common sense was too tempting. Stavrogin and a wretched, half-witted, crippled beggar! When you bit the governor's ear did you feel sensual pleasure? Did you? You idle, loafing, little snob. Did you 1”

“You're a psychologist,” said Stavrogin, turning paler and paler, “though you're partly mistaken as to the reasons of my marriage. But who can have given you all this information?” he asked, smiling, with an effort. “Was it Kirillov? But he had nothing to do with it.”

“You turn pale.”

“But what is it you want?” Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch asked, raising his voice at last. “I've been sitting under your lash for the last half-hour, and you might at least let me go civilly. Unless you really have some reasonable object in treating me like this.”

“Reasonable object?”

“Of course, you're in duty bound, anyway, to let me know your object. I've been expecting you to do so all the time, but you've shown me nothing so far but frenzied spite. I beg you to open the gate for me.”

He got up from the chair. Shatov rushed frantically after him. “Kiss the earth, water it with your tears, pray for forgiveness,” he cried, clutching him by the shoulder.

“I didn't kill you . . . that morning, though ... I drew back my hands . . .” Stavrogin brought out almost with anguish, keeping his eyes on the ground.

“Speak out! Speak out! You came to warn me of danger. You have let me speak. You mean to-morrow to announce your marriage publicly. . . . Do you suppose I don't see from your face that some new menacing idea is dominating you? . . . Stavrogin, why am I condemned to believe in you through all eternity? Could I speak like this to anyone else? I have modesty, but I am not ashamed of my nakedness because it's Stavrogin I am speaking to. I was not afraid of caricaturing a grand idea by handling it because Stavrogin was listening to me. . . . Shan't I kiss your footprints when you've gone? I can't tear you out of my heart, Nikolay Stavrogin!”

“I'm sorry I can't feel affection for you, Shatov,” Stavrogin replied coldly.

“I know you can't, and I know you are not lying. Listen. I can set it all right. I can 'catch your hare' for you.”

Stavrogin did not speak.

“You're an atheist because you're a snob, a snob of the snobs. You've lost the distinction between good and evil because you've lost touch with your own people. A new generation is coming, straight from the heart of the people, and you will know nothing of it, neither you nor the Verhovenskys, father or son; nor I, for I'm a snob too—I, the son of your serf and lackey, Pashka. . . . Listen. Attain to God by work; it all lies in that; or disappear like rotten mildew. Attain to Him by work.”

“God by work? What sort of work?”

“Peasants' work. Go, give up all your wealth. . . . Ah! you laugh, you're afraid of some trick?”

But Stavrogin was not laughing.

“You suppose that one may attain to God by work, and by peasants' work,” he repeated, reflecting as though he had really come across something new and serious which was worth considering. “By the way,” he passed suddenly to a new idea, “you reminded me just now. Do you know that I'm not rich at all, that I've nothing to give up? I'm scarcely in a position even to provide for Marya Timofyevna's future. . . . Another thing: I came to ask you if it would be possible for you to remain near Marya Timofyevna in the fixture, as you are the only person who has some influence over her poor brain. I say this so as to be prepared for anything.”

“All right, all right. You're speaking of Marya Timofyevna,” said Shatov, waving one hand, while he held a candle in the other. “All right. Afterwards, of course. . . . Listen. Go to Tihon.”

“To whom?”

“To Tihon, who used to be a bishop. He lives retired now, on account of illness, here in the town, in the Bogorodsky monastery.''

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing. People go and see him. You go. What is it to you? What is it to you?”

“It's the first time I've heard of him, and . . . I've never seen anything of that sort of people. Thank you, I'll go.”

“This way.”

Shatov lighted him down the stairs. “Go along.” He flung open the gate into the street.

“I shan't come to you any more, Shatov,” said Stavrogin quietly as he stepped through the gateway.

The darkness and the rain continued as before.
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Chapter II
Night (continued)


He walked the length of Bogoyavlensky Street. At last the road began to go downhill; his feet slipped in the mud and suddenly there lay open before him a wide, misty, as it were empty expanse—the river. The houses were replaced by hovels; the street was lost in a multitude of irregular little alleys.

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch was a long while making his way between the fences, keeping close to the river bank, but finding his way confidently, and scarcely giving it a thought indeed. He was absorbed in something quite different, and looked round with surprise when suddenly, waking up from a profound reverie, he found himself almost in the middle of one long, wet, floating bridge.

There was not a soul to be seen, so that it seemed strange to him when suddenly, almost at his elbow, he heard a deferentially familiar, but rather pleasant, voice, with a suave intonation, such as is affected by our over-refined tradespeople or befrizzled young shop assistants.

“Will you kindly allow me, sir, to share your umbrella?”

There actually was a figure that crept under his umbrella, or tried to appear to do so. The tramp was walking beside him, almost “feeling his elbow,” as the soldiers say. Slackening his pace, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch bent down to look more closely, as far as he could, in the darkness. It was a short man, and seemed like an artisan who had been drinking; he was shabbily and scantily dressed; a cloth cap, soaked by the rain and with the brim half torn off, perched on his shaggy, curly head. He looked a thin, vigorous, swarthy man with dark hair; his eyes were large and must have been black, with a hard glitter and a yellow tinge in them, like a gipsy's; that could be divined even in the darkness. He was about forty, and was not drunk.

“Do you know me?” asked Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. “Mr. Stavrogin, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. You were pointed out to me at the station, when the train stopped last Sunday, though I had heard enough of you beforehand.”

“Prom Pyotr Stepanovitch? Are you . . . Fedka the convict?”

“I was christened Fyodor Fyodorovitch. My mother is living to this day in these parts; she's an old woman, and grows more and more bent every day. She prays to God for me, day and night, so that she doesn't waste her old age lying on the stove.”

“You escaped from prison?”

“I've had a change of luck. I gave up books and bells and church-going because I'd a life sentence, so that I had a very long time to finish my term.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Well, I do what I can. My uncle, too, died last week in prison here. He was there for false coin, so I threw two dozen stones at the dogs by way of memorial. That's all I've been doing so far. Moreover Pyotr Stepanovitch gives me hopes of a passport, and a merchant's one, too, to go all over Russia, so I'm waiting on his kindness. 'Because,' says he, 'my papa lost you at cards at the English club, and I,' says he, 'find that inhumanity unjust.' You might have the kindness to give me three roubles, sir, for a glass to warm myself.”

“So you've been spying on me. I don't like that. By whose orders?”

“As to orders, it's nothing of the sort; it's simply that I knew of your benevolence, which is known to all the world. All we get, as you know, is an armful of hay, or a prod with a fork. Last Friday I filled myself as full of pie as Martin did of soap; since then I didn't eat one day, and the day after I fasted, and on the third I'd nothing again. I've had my fill of water from the river. I'm breeding fish in my belly. ... So won't your honour give me something? I've a sweetheart expecting me not far from here, but I daren't show myself to her without money.”

“What did Pyotr Stepanovitch promise you from me?”

“He didn't exactly promise anything, but only said that I might be of use to your honour if my luck turns out good, but how exactly he didn't explain; for Pyotr Stepanovitch wants to see if I have the patience of a Cossack, and feels no sort of confidence in me.”

“Why?”

“Pyotr Stepanovitch is an astronomer, and has learnt all God's planets, but even he may be criticised. I stand before you, sir, as before God, because I have heard so much about you. Pyotr Stepanovitch is one thing, but you, sir, maybe, are something else. When he's said of a man he's a scoundrel, he knows nothing more about him except that he's a scoundrel. Or if he's said he's a fool, then that man has no calling with him except that of fool. But I may be a fool Tuesday and Wednesday, and on Thursday wiser than he. Here now he knows about me that I'm awfully sick to get a passport, for there's no getting on in Russia without papers—so he thinks that he's snared my soul. I tell you, sir, life's a very easy business for Pyotr Stepanovitch, for he fancies a man to be this and that, and goes on as though he really was. And, what's more, he's beastly stingy. It's his notion that, apart from him, I daren't trouble you, but I stand before you, sir, as before God. This is the fourth night I've been waiting for your honour on this bridge, to show that I can find my own way on the quiet, without him. I'd better bow to a boot, thinks I, than to a peasant's shoe.”

“And who told you that I was going to cross the bridge at night?”

“Well, that, I'll own, came out by chance, most through Captain Lebyadkin's foolishness, because he can't keep anything to himself. ... So that three roubles from your honour would pay me for the weary time I've had these three days and nights. And the clothes I've had soaked, I feel that too much to speak of it.”

“I'm going to the left; you'll go to the right. Here's the end of the bridge. Listen, Fyodor; I like people to understand what I say, once for all. I won't give you a farthing. Don't meet me in future on the bridge or anywhere. I've no need of you, and never shall have, and if you don't obey, I'll tie you and take you to the police. March!”

“Eh-heh! Fling me something for my company, anyhow. I've cheered you on your way.”

“Be off!”

“But do you know the way here? There are all sorts of turnings. ... I could guide you; for this town is for all the world as though the devil carried it in his basket and dropped it in bits here and there.”

“I'll tie you up!” said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, turning upon him menacingly.

“Perhaps you'll change your mind, sir; it's easy to ill-treat the helpless.”

“Well, I see you can rely on yourself!”

“I rely upon you, sir, and not very much on myself. . . .”

“I've no need of you at all. I've told you so already.”

“But I have need, that's how it is! I shall wait for you on the way back. There's nothing for it.”

“I give you my word of honour if I meet you I'll tie you up.”

“Well, I'll get a belt ready for you to tie me with. A lucky journey to you, sir. You kept the helpless snug under your Umbrella. For that alone I'll be grateful to you to my dying day.” He fell behind. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch walked on to his destination, feeling disturbed. This man who had dropped from the sky was absolutely convinced that he Was indispensable to him, Stavrogin, and was in insolent haste to tell him so. He was being treated unceremoniously all round. But it was possible, too, that the tramp had not been altogether lying, and had tried to force his services upon him on his own initiative, without Pyotr Stepanovitch's knowledge, and that would be more curious still.
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II

The house which Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch had reached stood alone in a deserted lane between fences, beyond which market gardens stretched, at the very end of the town. It Was a very solitary little wooden house, which was only just built and not yet weather-boarded. In one of the little windows the shutters were not yet closed, and there was a candle standing on the window-ledge, evidently as a signal to the late guest who was expected that night. Thirty paces away Stavrogin made out on the doorstep the figure of a tall man, evidently the master of the house, who had come out to stare impatiently Up the road. He heard his voice, too, impatient and, as it were, timid.

“Is that you? You?”

“Yes,” responded Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, but not till he had mounted the steps and was folding up his umbrella.

“At last, sir.” Captain Lebyadkin, for it was he, ran fussily to and fro. “Let me take your umbrella, please. It's very wet; I'll open it on the floor here, in the corner. Please walk in. Please walk in.”

The door was open from the passage into a room that was lighted by two candles.

“If it had not been for your promise that you would certainly come, I should have given up expecting you.”

“A quarter to one,” said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, looking at his watch, as he went into the room.

“And in this rain; and such an interesting distance. I've no clock . . . and there are nothing but market-gardens round me ... so that you fall behind the times. Not that I murmur exactly; for I dare not, I dare not, but only because I've been devoured with impatience all the week ... to have things settled at last.”

“How so?”

“To hear my fate, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. Please sit down.”

He bowed, pointing to a seat by the table, before the sofa.

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch looked round. The room was tiny and low-pitched. The furniture consisted only of the most essential articles, plain wooden chairs and a sofa, also newly made without covering or cushions. There were two tables of limewood; one by the sofa, and the other in the corner was covered with a table-cloth, laid with things over which a clean table-napkin had been thrown. And, indeed, the whole room was obviously kept extremely clean.

Captain Lebyadkin had not been drunk for eight days. His face looked bloated and yellow. His eyes looked uneasy, inquisitive, and obviously bewildered. It was only too evident that he did not know what tone he could adopt, and what line it would be most advantageous for him to take.

“Here,” he indicated his surroundings, “I live like Zossima. Sobriety, solitude, and poverty—the vow of the knights of old.”

“You imagine that the knights of old took such vows?”

“Perhaps I'm mistaken. Alas! I have no culture. I've ruined all. Believe me, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, here first I have recovered from shameful propensities—not a glass nor a drop! I have a home, and for six days past I have experienced a conscience at ease. Even the walls smell of resin and remind me of nature. And what have I been; what was I?

' At night without a bed
I wander

And my tongue put out by day
. . .'

to use the words of a poet of genius. But you're wet through. . . . Wouldn't you like some tea?”

“Don't trouble.”

“The samovar has been boiling since eight o'clock, but it went out at last like everything in this world. The sun, too, they say, will go out in its turn. But if you like I'll get up the samovar. Agafya is not asleep.”

“Tell me, Marya Timofyevna . . .”

“She's here, here,” Lebyadkin replied at once, in a whisper. “Would you like to have a look at her?” He pointed to the closed door to the next room. “She's not asleep?”

“Oh, no, no. How could she be? On the contrary, she's been expecting you all the evening, and as soon as she heard you were coming she began making her toilet.”

He was just twisting his mouth into a jocose smile, but he instantly checked himself.

“How is she, on the whole?” asked Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, frowning.

“On the whole? You know that yourself, sir.” He shrugged his shoulders commiseratingly. “But just now . . . just now she's telling her fortune with cards. . . .”

“Very good. Later on. First of all I must finish with you.”

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch settled himself in a chair. The captain did not venture to sit down on the sofa, but at once moved up another chair for himself, and bent forward to listen, in a tremor of expectation.

“What have you got there under the table-cloth?” asked Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, suddenly noticing it.

“That?” said Lebyadkin, turning towards it also. “That's from your generosity, by way of house-warming, so to say; considering also the length of the walk, and your natural fatigue,” he sniggered ingratiatingly. Then he got up on tiptoe, and respectfully and carefully lifted the table-cloth from the table in the corner. Under it was seen a slight meal: ham, veal, sardines, cheese, a little green decanter, and a long bottle of Bordeaux. Everything had been laid neatly, expertly, and almost daintily.

“Was that your effort?”

“Yes, sir. Ever since yesterday I've done my best, and all to do you honour. . . . Marya Timofyevna doesn't trouble herself, as you know, on that score. And what's more its all from your liberality, your own providing, as you're the master of the house and not I, and I'm only, so to say, your agent. All the same, all the same, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, all the same, in spirit, I'm independent! Don't take away from me this last possession!” he finished up pathetically.

“H'm! You might sit down again.”

“Gra-a-teful, grateful, and independent.” He sat down. “Ah, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, so much has been fermenting in this heart that I have not known how to wait for your coming. Now you will decide my fate, and . . . that unhappy creature's, and then . . . shall I pour out all I feel to you as I used to in old days, four years ago? You deigned to listen to me then, you read my verses. . . . They might call me your Falstaff from Shakespeare in those days, but you meant so much in my life! I have great terrors now, and its only to you I look for counsel and light. Pyotr Stepanovitch is treating me abominably!”

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch listened with interest, and looked at him attentively. It was evident that though Captain Lebyadkin had left off drinking he was far from being in a harmonious state of mind. Drunkards of many years' standing, like Lebyadkin, often show traces of incoherence, of mental cloudiness, of something, as it were, damaged, and crazy, though they may deceive, cheat, and swindle, almost as well as anybody if occasion arises.

“I see that you haven't changed a bit in these four years and more, captain,” said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, somewhat more amiably. “It seems, in fact, as though the second half of a man's life is usually made up of nothing but the habits he has accumulated during the first half.”

“Grand words! You solve the riddle of life!” said the captain, half cunningly, half in genuine and unfeigned admiration, for he was a great lover of words. “Of all your sayings, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, I remember one thing above all; you were in Petersburg when you said it: 'One must really be a great man to be able to make a stand even against common sense.' That was it.”

“Yes, and a fool as well.”

“A fool as well, maybe. But you've been scattering clever sayings all your life, while they . . . Imagine Liputin, imagine Pyotr Stepanovitch saying anything like that! Oh, how cruelly Pyotr Stepanovitch has treated me!”

“But how about yourself, captain? What can you say of your behaviour?”

“Drunkenness, and the multitude of my enemies. But now that's all over, all over, and I have a new skin, like a snake. Do you know, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, I am making my will; in fact, I've made it already?”

“That's interesting. What are you leaving, and to whom?”

“To my fatherland, to humanity, and to the students. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, I read in the paper the biography of an American. He left all his vast fortune to factories and to the exact sciences, and his skeleton to the students of the academy there, and his skin to be made into a drum, so that the American national hymn might be beaten upon it day and night. Alas! we are pigmies in mind compared with the soaring thought of the States of North America. Russia is the play of nature but not of mind. If I were to try leaving my skin for a drum, for instance, to the Akmolinsky infantry regiment, in which I had the honour of beginning my service, on condition of beating the Russian national hymn upon it every day, in face of the regiment, they'd take it for liberalism and prohibit my skin . . . and so I confine myself to the students. I want to leave my skeleton to the academy, but on the condition though, on the condition that a label should be stuck on the forehead for ever and ever, with the words: 'A repentant free-thinker.' There now!”

The captain spoke excitedly, and genuinely believed, of course, that there was something fine in the American will, but he was cunning too, and very anxious to entertain Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, with whom he had played the part of a buffoon for a long time in the past. But the latter did not even smile, on the contrary, he asked, as it were, suspiciously:

“So you intend to publish your will in your lifetime and get rewarded for it?”

“And what if I do, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch? What if I do?” said Lebyadkin, watching him carefully. “What sort of luck have I had? I've given up writing poetry, and at one time even you were amused by my verses, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. Do you remember our reading them over a bottle? But it's all over with my pen. I've written only one poem, like Gogol's 'The Last Story.' Do you remember he proclaimed to Russia that it broke spontaneously from his bosom? It's the same with me; I've sung my last and it's over.”

“What sort of poem?”

“'In case she were to break her leg.' “

“Wha-a-t?”

That was all the captain was waiting for. He had an unbounded admiration for his own poems, but, through a certain cunning duplicity, he was pleased, too, that Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch always made merry over his poems, and sometimes laughed at them immoderately. In this way he killed two birds with one stone, satisfying at once his poetical aspirations and his desire to be of service; but now he had a third special and very ticklish object in view. Bringing his verses on the scene, the captain thought to exculpate himself on one point about which, for some reason, he always felt himself most apprehensive, and most guilty.

“' In case of her breaking her leg.' That is, of her riding on horseback. It's a fantasy, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, a wild fancy, but the fancy of a poet. One day I was struck by meeting a lady on horseback, and asked myself the vital question, 'What would happen then?' That is, in case of accident. All her followers turn away, all her suitors are gone. A pretty kettle of fish. Only the poet remains faithful, with his heart shattered in his breast, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. Even a louse may be in love, and is not forbidden by law. And yet the lady was offended by the letter and the verses. I'm told that even you were angry. Were you? I wouldn't believe in anything so grievous. Whom could I harm simply by imagination? Besides, I swear on my honour, Liputin kept saying, 'Send it, send it,' every man, however humble, has a right to send a letter! And so I sent it.”

“You offered yourself as a suitor, I understand.”

“Enemies, enemies, enemies?”

“Repeat the verses,” said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch sternly.

“Ravings, ravings, more than anything.”

However, he drew himself up, stretched out his hand, and began:

“With broken limbs my beauteous queen

Is twice as charming as before,

And, deep in love as I have been,

To-day I love her even more.”

“Come, that's enough,” said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, a wave of his hand.

“I dream of Petersburg,” cried Lebyadkin, passing quickly to another subject, as though there had been no mention of verses.

“I dream of regeneration. . . . Benefactor! May I reckon that you won't refuse the means for the journey? I've been waiting for you all the week as my sunshine.”

“I'll do nothing of the sort. I've scarcely any money left. And why should I give you money?”

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch seemed suddenly angry. Dryly and briefly he recapitulated all the captain's misdeeds; his drunkenness, his lying, his squandering of the money meant for Marya Timofyevna, his having taken her from the nunnery, his insolent letters threatening to publish the secret, the way he had behaved about Darya Pavlovna, and so on, and so on. The captain heaved, gesticulated, began to reply, but every time Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch stopped him. peremptorily.

“And listen,” he observed at last, “you keep writing about 'family disgrace.' What disgrace is it to you that your sister is the lawful wife of a Stavrogin?”

“But marriage in secret, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch—a fatal secret. I receive money from you, and I'm suddenly asked the question, 'What's that money for?' My hands are tied; I cannot answer to the detriment of my sister, to the detriment of the family honour.”

The captain raised his voice. He liked that subject and reckoned boldly upon it. Alas! he did not realise what a blow was in store for him.

Calmly and exactly, as though he were speaking of the most everyday arrangement, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch informed him that in a few days, perhaps even to-morrow or the day after, he intended to make his marriage known everywhere, “to the police as well as to local society.” And so the question of family honour would be settled once for all, and with it the question of subsidy. The captain's eyes were ready to drop out of his head; he positively could not take it in. It had to be explained to him.

“But she is ... crazy.”

“I shall make suitable arrangements.”

“But . . . how about your mother?”

“Well, she must do as she likes.”

“But will you take your wife to your house?”

“Perhaps so. But that is absolutely nothing to do with you and no concern of yours.”

“No concern of mine!” cried the captain. “What about me then?”

“Well, certainly you won't come into my house.”

“But, you know, I'm a relation.”

“One does one's best to escape from such relations. Why should I go on giving you money then? Judge for yourself.”

“Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, this is impossible. You will think better of it, perhaps? You don't want to lay hands upon. . . . What will people think? What will the world say?”

“Much I care for your world. I married your sister when the fancy took me, after a drunken dinner, for a bet, and now I'll make it public . . . since that amuses me now.”

He said this with a peculiar irritability, so that Lebyadkin began with horror to believe him.

“But me, me? What about me? I'm what matters most! . . . Perhaps you're joking, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch?”

“No, I'm not joking.”

“As you will, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, but I don't believe you. . . . Then I'll take proceedings.”

“You're fearfully stupid, captain.”

“Maybe, but this is all that's left me,” said the captain, losing his head completely. “In old days we used to get free quarters, anyway, for the work she did in the 'corners.' But what will happen now if you throw me over altogether?”

“But you want to go to Petersburg to try a new career. By the way, is it true what I hear, that you mean to go and give information, in the hope of obtaining a pardon, by betraying all the others?”

The captain stood gaping with wide-open eyes, and made no answer.

“Listen, captain,” Stavrogin began suddenly, with great earnestness, bending down to the table. Until then he had been talking, as it were, ambiguously, so that Lebyadkin, who had wide experience in playing the part of buffoon, was up to the last moment a trifle uncertain whether his patron were really angry or simply putting it on; whether he really had the wild intention of making his marriage public, or whether he were only playing. Now Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch's stern expression was so convincing that a shiver ran down the captain's back.

“Listen, and tell the truth, Lebyadkin. Have you betrayed anything yet, or not? Have you succeeded in doing anything really? Have you sent a letter to somebody in your foolishness?”

“No, I haven't . . . and I haven't thought of doing it,” said the captain, looking fixedly at him.

“That's a lie, that you haven't thought of doing it. That's what you're asking to go to Petersburg for. If you haven't written, have you blabbed to anybody here? Speak the truth. I've heard something.”

“When I was drunk, to Liputin. Liputin's a traitor. I opened my heart to him,” whispered the poor captain.

“That's all very well, but there's no need to be an ass. If you had an idea you should have kept it to yourself. Sensible people hold their tongues nowadays; they don't go chattering.”

“Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch!” said the captain, quaking. “You've had nothing to do with it yourself; it's not you I've . . .”

“Yes. You wouldn't have ventured to kill the goose that laid your golden eggs.”

“Judge for yourself, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, judge for yourself,” and, in despair, with tears, the captain began hurriedly relating the story of his life for the last four years. It was the most stupid story of a fool, drawn into matters that did not concern him, and in his drunkenness and debauchery unable, till the last minute, to grasp their importance. He said that before he left Petersburg 'he had been drawn in, at first simply through friendship, like a regular student, although he wasn't a student,' and knowing nothing about it, 'without being guilty of anything,' he had scattered various papers on staircases, left them by dozens at doors, on bell-handles, had thrust them in as though they were newspapers, taken them to the theatre, put them in people's hats, and slipped them into pockets. Afterwards he had taken money from them, 'for what means had I? 'He had distributed all sorts of rubbish through the districts of two provinces. “Oh, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch!” he exclaimed, “what revolted me most was that this was utterly opposed to civic, and still more to patriotic laws. They suddenly printed that men were to go out with pitchforks, and to remember that those who went out poor in the morning might go home rich at night. Only think of it! It made me shudder, and yet I distributed it. Or suddenly five or six lines addressed to the whole of Russia, apropos of nothing, 'Make haste and lock up the churches, abolish God, do away with marriage, destroy the right of inheritance, take up your knives,” that's all, and God knows what it means. tell you, I almost got caught with this five-line leaflet. The officers in the regiment gave me a thrashing, but, bless them for it, let me go. And last year I was almost caught when I passed off French counterfeit notes for fifty roubles on Korovayev, but, thank God, Korovayev fell into the pond when he was drunk, and was drowned in the nick of time, and they didn't succeed in tracking me. Here, at Virginsky's, I proclaimed the freedom of the communistic wife. In June I was distributing manifestoes again in X district. They say they will make me do it again. . . . Pyotr Stepanovitch suddenly gave me to understand that I must obey; he's been threatening me a long time. How he treated me that Sunday! Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, I am a slave, I am a worm, but not a God, which is where I differ from Derzhavin.* But I've no income, no income!”

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch heard it all with curiosity.

“A great deal of that I had heard nothing of,” he said. “Of course, anything may have happened to you. . . , Listen,” he said, after a minute's thought. “If you like, you can tell them, you know whom, that Liputin was lying, and that you were only pretending to give information to frighten me, supposing that I, too, was compromised, and that you might get more money out of me that way. . . . Do you understand?”

“Dear Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, is it possible that there's such a danger hanging over me I I've been longing for you to come, to ask you.”

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch laughed.

“They certainly wouldn't let you go to Petersburg, even if I were to give you money for the journey.*. . . But it's time for me to see Marya Timofyevna.” And he got up from his chair.

“Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, but how about Marya Timofyevna?”

“Why, as I told you.”

“Can it be true?”

“You still don't believe it?”

“Will you really cast me off like an old worn-out shoe?”

“I'll see,” laughed Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. “Come, let me go.”

“Wouldn't you like me to stand on the steps . . . for fear I might by chance overhear something . . . for the rooms are small?”

“That's as well. Stand on the steps. Take my umbrella.”

“Your umbrella. . . . Am I worth it?” said the captain over-sweetly.

*The reference is to a poem of Derzhavin's.

” Anyone is worthy of an umbrella.”

“At one stroke you define the minimum of human rights. . . .”

But he was by now muttering mechanically. He was too much crushed by what he had learned, and was completely thrown out of his reckoning. And yet almost as soon as he had gone out on to the steps and had put up the umbrella, there his shallow and cunning brain caught again the ever-present, comforting idea that he was being cheated and deceived, and if so they were afraid of him, and there was no need for him to be afraid.

“If they're lying and deceiving me, what's at the bottom of it?” was the thought that gnawed at his mind. The public announcement of the marriage seemed to him absurd. “It's true that with such a wonder-worker anything may come to pass; he lives to do harm. But what if he's afraid himself, since the insult of Sunday, and afraid as he's never been before? And so he's in a hurry to declare that he'll announce it himself, from fear that I should announce it. Eh, don't blunder, Lebyadkin! And why does he come on the sly, at night, if he means to make it public himself? And if he's afraid, it means that he's afraid now, at this moment, for these few days. . . . Eh, don't make a mistake, Lebyadkin!

“He scares me with Pyotr Stepanovitch. Oy, I'm frightened, I'm frightened! Yes, this is what's so frightening! And what induced me to blab to Liputin. Goodness knows what these devils are up to. I never can make head or tail of it. Now they are all astir again as they were five years ago. To whom could I give information, indeed? 'Haven't I written to anyone in my foolishness?' H'm! So then I might write as though through foolishness? Isn't he giving me a hint? 'You're going to Petersburg on purpose.' The sly rogue. I've scarcely dreamed of it, and he guesses my dreams. As though he were putting me up to going himself. It's one or the other of two games he's up to. Either he's afraid because he's been up to some pranks himself ... or he's not afraid for himself, but is simply egging me on to give them all away! Ach, it's terrible, Lebyadkin! Ach, you must not make a blunder!”

He was so absorbed in thought that he forgot to listen. It was not easy to hear either. The door was a solid one, and they were talking in a very low voice. Nothing reached the captain but indistinct sounds. He positively spat in disgust, and went out again, lost in thought, to whistle on the steps.
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III

Marya Timofyevna's room was twice as large as the one occupied by the captain, and furnished in the same rough style; but the table in front of the sofa was covered with a gay-coloured table-cloth, and on it a lamp was burning. There was a handsome carpet on the floor. The bed was screened off by a green curtain, which ran the length of the room, and besides the sofa there stood by the table a large, soft easy chair, in which Marya Timofyevna never sat, however. In the corner there was an ikon as there had been in her old room, and a little lamp was burning before it, and on the table were all her indispensable properties. The pack of cards, the little looking-glass, the song-book, even a milk loaf. Besides these there were two books with coloured pictures—one, extracts from a popular book of travels, published for juvenile reading, the other a collection of very light, edifying tales, for the most part about the days of chivalry, intended for Christmas presents or school reading. She had, too, an album of photographs of various sorts.

Marya Timofyevna was, of course, expecting the visitor, as the captain had announced. But when Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch went in, she was asleep, half reclining on the sofa, propped on a woolwork cushion. Her visitor closed the door after him noiselessly, and, standing still, scrutinised the sleeping figure.

The captain had been romancing when he told Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch she had been dressing herself up. She was wearing the same dark dress as on Sunday at Varvara Petrovna's. Her hair was done up in the same little close knot at the back of her head; her long thin neck was exposed in the same way. The black shawl Varvara Petrovna had given her lay carefully folded on the sofa. She was coarsely rouged and powdered as before. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch did not stand there more than a minute. She suddenly waked up, as though she were conscious of his eyes fixed upon her; she opened her eyes, and quickly drew herself up. But something strange must have happened to her visitor: he remained standing at the same place by the door. With a fixed and searching glance he looked mutely and persistently into her face. Perhaps that look was too grim, perhaps there was an expression of aversion in it, even a malignant enjoyment of her fright—if it were not a fancy left by her dreams; but suddenly, after almost a moment of expectation, the poor woman's face wore a look of absolute terror; it twitched convulsively; she lifted her trembling hands and suddenly burst into tears, exactly like a frightened child; in another moment she would have screamed. But Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch pulled himself together; his face changed in one instant, and he went up to the table with the most cordial and amiable smile.

“I'm sorry, Marya Timofyevna, I frightened you coming in suddenly when you were asleep,” he said, holding out his hand to her.

The sound of his caressing words produced their effect. Her fear vanished, although she still looked at him with dismay, evidently trying to understand something. She held out her hands timorously also. At last a shy smile rose to her lips.

“How do you do, prince?” she whispered, looking at him strangely.

“You must have had a bad dream,” he went on, with a still more friendly and cordial smile.

“But how do you know that I was dreaming about that?” And again she began trembling, and started back, putting up her hand as though to protect herself, on the point of crying again. “Calm yourself. That's enough. What are you afraid of? Surely you know me?” said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, trying to soothe her; but it was long before he could succeed. She gazed at him dumbly with the same look of agonising perplexity, with a painful idea in her poor brain, and she still seemed to be trying to reach some conclusion. At one moment she dropped her eyes, then suddenly scrutinised him in a rapid comprehensive glance. At last, though not reassured, she seemed to come to a conclusion.

“Sit down beside me, please, that I may look at you thoroughly later on,” she brought out with more firmness, evidently with a new object. “But don't be uneasy, I won't look at you now. I'll look down. Don't you look at me either till I ask you to. Sit down,” she added, with positive impatience.

A new sensation was obviously growing stronger and stronger in her.

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch sat down and waited. Rather a long silence followed.

“H'm! It all seems so strange to me,” she suddenly muttered almost disdainfully. “Of course I was depressed by bad dreams, but why have I dreamt of you looking like that?”

“Come, let's have done with dreams,” he said impatiently, turning to her in spite of her prohibition, and perhaps the same expression gleamed for a moment in his eyes again. He saw that she several times wanted, very much in fact, to look at him again, but that she obstinately controlled herself and kept her eyes cast down.

“Listen, prince,” she raised her voice suddenly, “listen prince. ...”

“Why do you turn away? Why don't you look at me? What's the object of this farce?” he cried, losing patience.

But she seemed not to hear him.

“Listen, prince,” she repeated for the third time in a resolute voice, with a disagreeable, fussy expression. “When you told me in the carriage that our marriage was going to be made public, I was alarmed at there being an end to the mystery. Now I don't know. I've been thinking it all over, and I see clearly that I'm not fit for it at all. I know how to dress, and I could receive guests, perhaps. There's nothing much in asking people to have a cup of tea, especially when there are footmen. But what will people say though? I saw a great deal that Sunday morning in that house. That pretty young lady looked at me all the time, especially after you came in. It was you came in, wasn't it? Her mother's simply an absurd worldly old woman. My Lebyadkin distinguished himself too. I kept looking at the ceiling to keep from laughing; the ceiling there is finely painted. His mother ought to be an abbess. I'm afraid of her, though she did give me a black shawl. Of course, they must all have come to strange conclusions about me. I wasn't vexed, but I sat there, thinking what relation am I to them? Of course, from a countess one doesn't expect any but spiritual qualities; for the domestic ones she's got plenty of footmen; and also a little worldly coquetry, so as to be able to entertain foreign travellers. But yet that Sunday they did look upon me as hopeless. Only Dasha's an angel. I'm awfully afraid they may wound him by some careless allusion to me.”

“Don't be afraid, and don't be uneasy,” said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, making a wry face.

“However, that doesn't matter to me, if he is a little ashamed of me, for there will always be more pity than shame, though it differs with people, of course. He knows, to be sure, that I ought rather to pity them than they me.”

“You seem to be very much offended with them, Marya Timofyevna?”

“I? Oh, no,” she smiled with simple-hearted mirth. “Not at all. I looked at you all, then. You were all angry, you were all quarrelling. They meet together, and they don't know how to laugh from their hearts. So much wealth and so little gaiety. It all disgusts me. Though I feel for no one now except myself.”

“I've heard that you've had a hard life with your brother without me?”

“Who told you that? It's nonsense. It's much worse now. Now my dreams are not good, and my dreams are bad, because you've come. What have you come for, I'd like to know. Tell me please?”

“Wouldn't you like to go back into the nunnery?”

“I knew they'd suggest the nunnery again. Your nunnery is a fine marvel for me! And why should I go to it? What should I go for now? I'm all alone in the world now. It's too late for me to begin a third life.”

“You seem very angry about something. Surely you're not afraid that I've left off loving you?”

“I'm not troubling about you at all. I'm afraid that I may leave off loving somebody.”

She laughed contemptuously.

“I must have done him some great wrong,” she added suddenly, as it were to herself, “only I don't know what I've done wrong; that's always what troubles me. Always, always, for the last five years. I've been afraid day and night that I've done him some wrong. I've prayed and prayed and always thought of the great wrong I'd done him. And now it turns out it wag true.”

“What's turned out?”

“I'm only afraid whether there's something on his side,” she went on, not answering his question, not hearing it in fact. “And then, again, he couldn't get on with such horrid people. The countess would have liked to eat me, though she did make me sit in the carriage beside her. They're all in the plot. Surely he's not betrayed me?” (Her chin and lips were twitching.) “Tell me, have you read about Grishka Otrepyev, how he was cursed in seven cathedrals?”

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch did not speak.

“But I'll turn round now and look at you.” She seemed to decide suddenly. “You turn to me, too, and look at me, but more attentively. I want to make sure for the last time.”

“I've been looking at you for a long time.”

“H'm!” said Marya Timofyevna, looking at him intently. “You've grown much fatter.”

She wanted to say something more, but suddenly, for the third time, the same terror instantly distorted her face, and again she drew back, putting her hand up before her.

“What's the matter with you?” cried Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, almost enraged.

But her panic lasted only one instant, her face worked with a sort of strange smile, suspicious and unpleasant.

“I beg you, prince, get up and come in,” she brought out suddenly, in a firm, emphatic voice.

“Come in? Where am I to come in?”

“I've been fancying for five years how he would come in. Get up and go out of the door into the other room. I'll sit as though I weren't expecting anything, and I'll take up a book, and suddenly you'll come in after five years' travelling. I want to see what it will be like.”

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch ground his teeth, and muttered something to himself.

“Enough,” he said, striking the table with his open hand. “I beg you to listen to me, Marya Timofyevna. Do me the favour to concentrate all your attention if you can. You're not altogether mad, you know!” he broke out impatiently. “Tomorrow I shall make our marriage public. You never will live in a palace, get that out of your head. Do you want to live with me for the rest of your life, only very far away from here? In the mountains in Switzerland, there's a place there. . . . Don't be afraid. I'll never abandon you or put you in a madhouse. I shall have money enough to live without asking anyone's help. You shall have a servant, you shall do no work at all. Everything you want that's possible shall be got for you. You shall pray, go where you like, and do what you like. I won't touch you. I won't go away from the place myself at all. If you like, I won't speak to you all my life, or if you like, you can tell me your stories every evening as you used to do in Petersburg in the corners. I'll read aloud to you if you like. But it must be all your life in the same place, and that place is a gloomy one. Will you? Are you ready? You won't regret it, torment me with tears and curses, will you?”

She listened with extreme curiosity, and for a long time she was silent, thinking.

“It all seems incredible to me,” she said at last, ironically and disdainfully. “I might live for forty years in those mountains,” she laughed.

“What of it? Let's live forty years then ...” said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, scowling.

“H'm! I won't come for anything.”

“Not even with me?”

“And what are you that I should go with you? I'm to sit on a mountain beside him for forty years on end—a pretty story! And upon my word, how long-suffering people have become nowadays! No, it cannot be that a falcon has become an owl. My prince is not like that!” she said, raising her head proudly and triumphantly.

Light seemed to dawn upon him.

“What makes you call me a prince, and . . . for whom do you take me?” he asked quickly.

“Why, aren't you the prince?”

“I never have been one.”

“So yourself, yourself, you tell me straight to my face that you're not the prince?”

“I tell you I never have been.”

“Good Lord!” she cried, clasping her hands. “I was ready to expect anything from his enemies, but such insolence, never! Is he alive?” she shrieked in a frenzy, turning upon Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. “Have you killed him? Confess!”

“Whom do you take me for?” he cried, jumping up from his chair with a distorted face; but it was not easy now to frighten her. She was triumphant.

“Who can tell who you are and where you've sprung from? Only my heart, my heart had misgivings all these five years, of all the intrigues. And I've been sitting here wondering what blind owl was making up to me? No, my dear, you're a poor actor, worse than Lebyadkin even. Give my humble greetings to the countess and tell her to send some one better than you. Has she hired you, tell me? Have they given you a place in her kitchen out of charity? I see through your deception. I understand you all, every one of you.”

He seized her firmly above the elbow; she laughed in his face.

“You're like him, very like, perhaps you're a relation—you're a sly lot! Only mine is a bright falcon and a prince, and you're an owl, and a shopman! Mine will bow down to God if it pleases him, and won't if it doesn't. And Shatushka (he's my dear, my darling!) slapped you on the cheeks, my Lebyadkin told me. And what were you afraid of then, when you came in? Who had frightened you then? When I saw your mean face after I'd fallen down and you picked me up—it was like a worm crawling into my heart. It's not he, I thought, not he! My falcon would never have been ashamed of me before a fashionable young lady. Oh heavens! That alone kept me happy for those five years that my falcon was living somewhere beyond the mountains, soaring, gazing at the sun. . . . Tell me, you impostor, have you got much by it I Did you need a big bribe to consent? I wouldn't have given you a farthing. Ha ha ha! Ha ha! . . .”

“Ugh, idiot!” snarled Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, still holding her tight by the arm.

“Go away, impostor!” she shouted peremptorily. “I'm the wife of my prince; I'm not afraid of your knife!”

“Knife!”

“Yes, knife, you've a knife in your pocket. You thought I was asleep but I saw it. When you came in just now you took out your knife!”

“What are you saying, unhappy creature? What dreams you have!” he exclaimed, pushing her away from him with all his might, so that her head and shoulders fell painfully against the sofa. He was rushing away; but she at once flew to overtake him, limping and hopping, and though Lebyadkin, panic-stricken, held her back with all his might, she succeeded in shouting after him into the darkness, shrieking and laughing:

“A curse on you, Grishka Otrepyev!”
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IV

“A knife, a knife,” he repeated with uncontrollable anger, striding along through the mud and puddles, without picking his way. It is true that at moments he had a terrible desire to laugh aloud frantically; but for some reason he controlled himself and restrained his laughter. He recovered himself only on the bridge, on the spot where Fedka had met him that evening. He found the man lying in wait for him again. Seeing Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch he took off his cap, grinned gaily, and began babbling briskly and merrily about-something. At first Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch walked on without stopping, and for. some time did not even listen to the tramp who was pestering him again. He was suddenly struck by the thought that he had entirely forgotten him, and had forgotten him at the very moment when he himself was repeating, “A knife, a knife.” He seized the tramp by the collar and gave vent to his pent-up rage by flinging him violently against the bridge. For one instant the man thought of fighting, but almost at once realising that compared with his adversary, who had fallen upon him unawares, he was no better than a wisp of straw, he subsided and was silent, without offering any resistance. Crouching on the ground with his elbows crooked behind his back, the wily tramp calmly waited for what would happen next, apparently quite incredulous of danger. He was right in his reckoning. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch had already with his left hand taken off his thick scarf to tie his prisoner's arms, but suddenly, for some reason, he abandoned him, and shoved him away. The man instantly sprang on to his feet, turned round, and a short, broad boot-knife suddenly gleamed in his hand.

“Away with that knife; put it away, at once!” Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch commanded with an impatient gesture, and the knife vanished as instantaneously as it had appeared.

Without speaking again or turning round, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch went on his way. But the persistent vagabond did not leave him even now, though now, it is true, he did not chatter, and even respectfully kept his distance, a full step behind.

They crossed the bridge like this and came out on to the river bank, turning this time to the left, again into a long deserted back street, which led to the centre of the town by a shorter way than going through Bogoyavlensky Street.

“Is it true, as they say, that you robbed a church in the district the other day?” Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch asked suddenly.

“I went in to say my prayers in the first place,” the tramp answered, sedately and respectfully as though nothing had happened; more than sedately, in fact, almost with dignity. There was no trace of his former “friendly” familiarity. All that was to be seen was a serious, business-like man, who had indeed been gratuitously insulted, but who was capable of overlooking an insult.

“But when the Lord led me there,” he went on, “ech, I thought what a heavenly abundance! It was all owing to my helpless state, as in our way of life there's no doing without assistance. And, now, God be my witness, sir, it was my own loss. The Lord punished me for my sins, and what with the censer and the deacon's halter, I only got twelve roubles altogether. The chin setting of St. Nikolay of pure silver went for next to nothing. They said it was plated.”

“You killed the watchman?”

“That is, I cleared the place out together with that watchman, but afterwards, next morning, by the river, we fell to quarrelling which should carry the sack. I sinned, I did lighten his load for him.”

“Well, you can rob and murder again.”

“That's the very advice Pyotr Stepanovitch gives me, in the very same words, for he's uncommonly mean and hard-hearted about helping a fellow-creature. And what's more, he hasn't a ha'porth of belief in the Heavenly Creator, who made us out of earthly clay; but he says it's all the work of nature even to the last beast. He doesn't understand either that with our way of life it's impossible for us to get along without friendly assistance. If you begin to talk to him he looks like a sheep at the water; it makes one wonder. Would you believe, at Captain Lebyadkin's, out yonder, whom your honour's just been visiting, when he was living at Filipov's, before you came, the door stood open all night long.—He'd be drunk and sleeping like the dead, and his money dropping out of his pockets all over the floor. I've chanced to see it with my own eyes, for in our way of life it's impossible to live without assistance. ...”

“How do you mean with your own eyes? Did you go in at night then?”

“Maybe I did go in, but no one knows of it.”

“Why didn't you kill him?”

“Reckoning it out, I steadied myself. For once having learned for sure that I can always get one hundred and fifty roubles, why should I go so far when I can get fifteen hundred roubles, if I only bide my time. For Captain Lebyadkin (I've heard him with my own ears) had great hopes of you when he was drunk; and there isn't a tavern here—not the lowest pot-house—where he hasn't talked about it when he was in that state. So that hearing it from many lips, I began, too, to rest all my hopes on your excellency. I speak to you, sir, as to my father, or my own brother; for Pyotr Stepanovitch will never learn that from me, and not a soul in the world. So won't your excellency spare me three roubles in your kindness? You might set my mind at rest, so that I might know the real truth; for we can't get on without assistance.”

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch laughed aloud, and taking out his purse, in which he had as much as fifty roubles, in small notes, threw him one note out of the bundle, then a second, a third, a fourth. Fedka flew to catch them in the air. The notes dropped into the mud, and he snatched them up crying, “Ech! ech!” Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch finished by flinging the whole bundle at him, and, still laughing, went on down the street, this time alone. The tramp remained crawling on his knees in the mud, looking for the notes which were blown about by the wind and soaking in the puddles, and for an < hour after his spasmodic cries of “Ech! ech!” were still to be heard in the darkness.
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Chapter III
The duel


The next day, at two o'clock in the afternoon, the duel took place as arranged. Things were hastened forward by Gaganov's obstinate desire to fight at all costs. He did not understand his adversary's conduct, and was in a fury. For a whole month he had been insulting him with impunity, and had so far been unable to make him lose patience. What he wanted was a challenge on the part of Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, as he had not himself any direct pretext for challenging him. His secret motive for it, that is, his almost morbid hatred of Stavrogin for the insult to his family four years before, he was for some reason ashamed to confess. And indeed he regarded this himself as an impossible pretext for a challenge, especially in view of the humble apology offered by Nikolay Stavrogin twice already. He privately made up his mind that Stavrogin was a shameless coward; and could not understand how he could have accepted Shatov's blow. So he made up his mind at last to send him the extraordinarily rude letter that had finally roused Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch himself to propose a meeting. Having dispatched this letter the day before, he awaited a challenge with feverish impatience, and while morbidly reckoning the chances at one moment with hope and at the next with despair, he got ready for any emergency by securing a second, to wit, Mavriky Nikolaevitch Drozdov, who was a friend of his, an old schoolfellow, a man for whom he had a great respect. So when Kirillov came next morning at nine o'clock with his message he found things in readiness. All the apologies and unheard-of condescension of Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch were at once, at the first word, rejected with extraordinary exasperation. Mavriky Nikolaevitch, who had only been made acquainted with the position of affairs the evening before, opened his mouth with surprise at such incredible concessions, and would have urged a reconciliation, but seeing that Gaganov, guessing his intention, was almost trembling in his chair, refrained, and said nothing. If it had not been for the promise given to his old schoolfellow he would have retired immediately; he only remained in the hope of being some help on the scene of action. Kirillov repeated the challenge. All the conditions of the encounter made by Stavrogin were accepted on the spot, without the faintest objection. Only one addition was made, and that a ferocious one. If the first shots had no decisive effect, they were to fire again, and if the second encounter were inconclusive, it was to be followed by a third. Kirillov frowned, objected to the third encounter, but gaining nothing by his efforts agreed on the condition, however, that three should be the limit, and that “a fourth encounter was out of the question.” This was conceded. Accordingly at two o'clock in the afternoon the meeting took place at Brykov, that is, in a little copse in the outskirts of the town, lying between Skvoreshniki and the Shpigulin factory. The rain of the previous night was over, but it was damp, grey, and windy. Low, ragged, dingy clouds moved rapidly across the cold sky. The tree-tops roared with a deep droning sound, and creaked on their roots; it was a melancholy morning.

Mavriky Nikolaevitch and Gaganov arrived on the spot in a smart char-a-banc with a pair of horses driven by the latter. They were accompanied by a groom. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch and Kirillov arrived almost at the same instant. They were not driving, they were on horseback, and were also followed by a mounted servant. Kirillov, who had never mounted a horse before, sat up boldly, erect in the saddle, grasping in his right hand the heavy box of pistols which he would not entrust to the servant. In his inexperience he was continually with his left hand tugging at the reins, which made the horse toss his head and show an inclination to rear. This, however, seemed to cause his rider no uneasiness. Gaganov, who was morbidly suspicious and always ready to be deeply offended, considered their coming on horseback as a fresh insult to himself, inasmuch as it showed that his opponents were too confident of success, since they had not even thought it necessary to have a carriage in case of being wounded and disabled. He got out of his char-a-banc, yellow with anger, and felt that his hands were trembling, as he told Mavriky Nikolaevitch. He made no response at all to Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch's bow, and turned away. The seconds cast lots. The lot fell on Kirillov's pistols. They measured out the barrier and placed the combatants. The servants with the carriage and horses were moved back three hundred paces. The weapons were loaded and handed to the combatants.

I'm sorry that I have to tell my story more quickly and have no time for descriptions. But I can't refrain from some comments. Mavriky Nikolaevitch was melancholy and preoccupied. Kirillov, on the other hand, was perfectly calm and unconcerned, very exact over the details of the duties he had undertaken, but without the slightest fussiness or even curiosity as to the issue of the fateful contest that was so near at hand. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch was paler than usual. He was rather lightly dressed in an overcoat and a white beaver hat. He seemed very tired, he frowned from time to time, and seemed to feel it superfluous to conceal his ill-humour. But Gaganov was at this moment more worthy of mention than anyone, so that it is quite impossible not to say a few words about him in particular.
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II

I have hitherto not had occasion to describe his appearance. He was a tall man of thirty-three, and well fed, as the common folk express it, almost fat, with lank flaxen hair, and with features which might be called handsome. He had retired from the service with the rank of colonel, and if he had served till he reached the rank of general he would have been even more impressive in that position, and would very likely have become an excellent fighting general.

I must add, as characteristic of the man, that the chief cause of his leaving the army was the thought of the family disgrace which had haunted him so painfully since the insult paid to his father by Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch four years before at the club. He conscientiously considered it dishonourable to remain in the service, and was inwardly persuaded that he was contaminating the regiment and his companions, although they knew nothing of the incident. It's true that he had once before been disposed to leave the army long before the insult to his father, and on quite other grounds, but he had hesitated. Strange as it is to write, the original design, or rather desire, to leave the army was due to the proclamation of the 19th of February of the emancipation of the serfs. Gaganov, who was one of the richest landowners in the province, and who had not lost very much by the emancipation, and was, moreover, quite capable of understanding the humanity of the reform and its economic advantages, suddenly felt himself personally insulted by the proclamation. It was something unconscious, a feeling; but was all the stronger for being unrecognised. He could not bring himself, however, to take any decisive step till his father's death. But he began to be well known for his “gentlemanly” ideas to many persons of high position in Petersburg, with whom he strenuously kept up connections. He was secretive and self-contained. Another characteristic: he belonged to that strange section of the nobility, still surviving in Russia, who set an extreme value on their pure and ancient lineage, and take it too seriously. At the same time he could not endure Russian history, and, indeed, looked upon Russian customs in general as more or less piggish. Even in his childhood, in the special military school for the sons of particularly wealthy and distinguished families in which he had the privilege of being educated, from first to last certain poetic notions were deeply rooted in his mind. He loved castles, chivalry; all the theatrical part of it. He was ready to cry with shame that in the days of the Moscow Tsars the sovereign had the right to inflict corporal punishment on the Russian boyars, and blushed at the contrast. This stiff and extremely severe man, who had a remarkable knowledge of military science and performed his duties admirably, was at heart a dreamer. It was said that he could speak at meetings and had the gift of language, but at no time during the thirty-three years of his life had he spoken. Even in the distinguished circles in Petersburg, in which he had moved of late, he behaved with extraordinary haughtiness. His meeting in Petersburg with Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, who had just returned from abroad, almost sent him out of his mind. At the present moment, standing at the barrier, he was terribly uneasy. He kept imagining that the duel would somehow not come off; the least delay threw him into a tremor. There was an expression of anguish in his face when Kirillov, instead of giving the signal for them to fire, began suddenly speaking, only for form, indeed, as he himself explained aloud.

“Simply as a formality, now that you have the pistols in your hands, and I must give the signal, I ask you for the last time, will you not be reconciled? It's the duty of a second.”

As though to spite him, Mavriky Nikolaevitch, who had till then kept silence, although he had been reproaching himself all day for his compliance and acquiescence, suddenly caught up Kirillov's thought and began to speak:

“I entirely agree with Mr. Kirillov's words. . . . This idea that reconciliation is impossible at the barrier is a prejudice, only suitable for Frenchmen. Besides, with your leave, I don't understand what the offence is. I've been wanting to say so for a long time . . . because every apology is offered, isn't it?”

He flushed all over. He had rarely spoken so much, and with such excitement.

“I repeat again my offer to make every possible apology,” Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch interposed hurriedly.

“This is impossible,” shouted Gaganov furiously, addressing Mavriky Nikolaevitch, and stamping with rage. “Explain to this man,” he pointed with his pistol at Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch, “if you're my second and not my enemy, Mavriky Nikolaevitch, that such overtures only aggravate the insult. He feels it impossible to be insulted by me! . . . He feels it no disgrace to walk away from me at the barrier! What does he take me for, after that, do you think? . . . And you, you, my second, too! You're simply irritating me that I may miss.”

He stamped again. There were flecks of foam on his lips.

“Negotiations are over. I beg you to listen to the signal!” Kirillov shouted at the top of his voice. “One! Two! Three!”

At the word “Three” the combatants took aim at one another. Gaganov at once raised his pistol, and at the fifth or sixth step he fired. For a second he stood still, and, making sure that he had missed, advanced to the barrier. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch advanced too, raising his pistol, but somehow holding it very high, and fired, almost without taking aim. Then he took out his handkerchief and bound it round the little finger of his right hand. Only then they saw that Gaganov had not missed him completely, but the bullet had only grazed the fleshy part of his finger without touching the bone; it was only a slight scratch. Kirillov at once announced that the duel would go on, unless the combatants were satisfied.

“I declare,” said Gaganov hoarsely (his throat felt parched), again addressing Mavriky Nikolaevitch, “that this man,” again he pointed in Stavrogin's direction, “fired in the air on purpose . . . intentionally. . . . This is an insult again. . . . He wants to make the duel impossible!”

“I have the right to fire as I like so long as I keep the rules,” Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch asserted resolutely.

“No, he hasn't! Explain it to him! Explain it!” cried Gaganov.

“I'm in complete agreement with Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch,” proclaimed Kirillov.

“Why does he spare me?” Gaganov raged, not hearing him. “I despise his mercy. ... I spit on it. ... I .. .”

“I give you my word that I did not intend to insult you,” cried Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch impatiently. “I shot high because I don't want to kill anyone else, either you or anyone else. It's nothing to do with you personally. It's true that I don't consider myself insulted, and I'm sorry that angers you. But I don't allow any one to interfere with my rights.”

“If he's so afraid of bloodshed, ask him why he challenged me,” yelled Gaganov, still addressing Mavriky Nikolaevitch.

“How could he help challenging you?” said Kirillov, intervening. “You wouldn't listen to anything. How was one to get rid of you?”

“I'll only mention one thing,” observed Mavriky Nikolaevitch, pondering the matter with painful effort. “If a combatant declares beforehand that he will fire in the air the duel certainly cannot go on ... for obvious and . . . delicate reasons.”

“I haven't declared that I'll fire in the air every time,” cried Stavrogin, losing all patience. “You don't know what's in my mind or how I intend to fire again. . . . I'm not restricting the duel at all.”

“In that case the encounter can go on,” said Mavriky Nikolaevitch to Gaganov.

“Gentlemen, take your places,” Kirillov commanded. Again they advanced, again Gaganov missed and Stavrogin fired into the air. There might have been a dispute as to his firing into the air. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch might have flatly declared that he'd fired properly, if he had not admitted that he had missed intentionally. He did not aim straight at the sky or at the trees, but seemed to aim at his adversary, though as he pointed the pistol the bullet flew a yard above his hat. The second time the shot was even lower, even less like an intentional miss. Nothing would have convinced Gaganov now.

“Again!” he muttered, grinding his teeth. “No matter! I've been challenged and I'll make use of my rights. I'll fire a third time . . . whatever happens.”

“You have full right to do so,” Kirillov rapped out. Mavriky Nikolaevitch said nothing. The opponents were placed a third time, the signal was given. This time Gaganov went right up to the barrier, and began from there taking aim, at a distance of twelve paces. His hand was trembling too much to take good aim. Stavrogin stood with his pistol lowered and awaited his shot without moving.

“Too long; you've been aiming too long!” Kirillov shouted impetuously. “Fire! Fire!”

But the shot rang out, and this time Stavrogin's white beaver hat flew off. The aim had been fairly correct. The crown of the hat was pierced very low down; a quarter of an inch lower and all would have been over. Kirillov picked up the hat and handed it to Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch.

“Fire; don't detain your adversary!” cried Mavriky Nikolaevitch in extreme agitation, seeing that Stavrogin seemed to have forgotten to fire, and was examining the hat with Kirillov. Stavrogin started, looked at Gaganov, turned round and this time, without the slightest regard for punctilio, fired to one side, into the copse. The duel was over. Gaganov stood as though overwhelmed. Mavriky Nikolaevitch went up and began saying something to him, but he did not seem to understand. Kirillov took off his hat as he went away, and nodded to Mavriky Nikolaevitch. But Stavrogin forgot his former politeness. When he had shot into the copse he did not even turn towards the barrier. He handed his pistol to Kirillov and hastened towards the horses. His face looked angry; he did not speak. Kirillov, too, was silent. They got on their horses and set off at a gallop.
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III

“Why don't you speak?” he called impatiently to Kirillov, when they were not far from home.

“What do you want?” replied the latter, almost slipping off his horse, which was rearing.

Stavrogin restrained himself.

“I didn't mean to insult that . . . fool, and I've insulted him again,” he said quietly.

“Yes, you've insulted him again,” Kirillov jerked out, “and besides, he's not a fool.”

“I've done all I can, anyway.”

“No.”

“What ought I to have done?”

“Not have challenged him.”

“Accept another blow in the face?”

“Yes, accept another.”

“I can't understand anything now,” said Stavrogin wrath-fully. “Why does every one expect of me something not expected from anyone else? Why am I to put up with what no one else puts up with, and undertake burdens no one else can bear?”

“I thought you were seeking a burden yourself.”

“I seek a bur den?”

“Yes.”

“You've . . . seen that?”

“Yes.”

“Is it so noticeable?”

“Yes.”

There was silence for a moment. Stavrogin had a very preoccupied face. He was almost impressed.

“I didn't aim because I didn't want to kill anyone. There was nothing more in it, I assure you,” he said hurriedly, and with agitation, as though justifying himself.

“You ought not to have offended him.”

“What ought I to have done then?”

“You ought to have killed him.”

“Are you sorry I didn't kill him?”

“I'm not sorry for anything. I thought you really meant to kill him. You don't know what you're seeking.”

“I seek a burden,” laughed Stavrogin.

“If you didn't want blood yourself, why did you give him a chance to kill you?”

“If I hadn't challenged him, he'd have killed me simply, without a duel.”

“That's not your affair. Perhaps he wouldn't have killed you.”

“Only have beaten me?”

“That's not your business. Bear your burden. Or else there's no merit.”

“Hang your merit. I don't seek anyone's approbation.”

“I thought you were seeking it,” Kirillov commented with terrible unconcern.

They rode into the courtyard of the house.

“Do you care to come in?” said Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch.

“No; I'm going home. Good-bye.”

He got off the horse and took his box of pistols under his arm.

“Anyway, you're not angry with me?” said Stavrogin, holding out his hand to him.

“Not in the least,” said Kirillov, turning round to shake hands with him. “If my burden's light it's because it's from nature; perhaps your burden's heavier because that's your nature. There's no need to be much ashamed; only a little.”

“I know I'm a worthless character, and I don't pretend to be a strong one.”

“You'd better not; you're not a strong person. Come and have tea.”

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch went into the house, greatly perturbed.
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IV

He learned at once from Alexey Yegorytch that Varvara Petrovna had been very glad to hear that Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch had gone out for a ride—the first time he had left the house after eight days' illness. She had ordered the carriage, and had driven out alone for a breath of fresh air “according to the habit of the past, as she had forgotten for the last eight days what it meant to breathe fresh air.”

“Alone, or with Darya Pavlovna?” Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch interrupted the old man with a rapid question, and he scowled when he heard that Darya Pavlovna “had declined to go abroad on account of indisposition and was in her rooms.”

“Listen, old man,” he said, as though suddenly making up his mind. “Keep watch over her all to-day, and if you notice her coming to me, stop her at once, and tell her that I can't see her for a few days at least . . . that I ask her not to come myself. . . . I'll let her know myself, when the time comes. Do you hear?”

“I'll tell her, sir,” said Alexey Yegorytch, with distress in his voice, dropping his eyes.

“Not till you see clearly she's meaning to come and see me of herself, though.”

“Don't be afraid, sir, there shall be no mistake. Your interviews have all passed through me, hitherto. You've always turned to me for help.”

“I know. Not till she comes of herself, anyway. Bring me some tea, if you can, at once.”

The old man had hardly gone out, when almost at the same instant the door reopened, and Darya Pavlovna appeared in the doorway. Her eyes were tranquil, though her face was pale.

“Where have you come from?” exclaimed Stavrogin.

“I was standing there, and waiting for him to go out, to come in to you. I heard the order you gave him, and when he came out just now I hid round the corner, on the right, and he didn't notice me.”

“I've long meant to break off with you, Dasha . . . for a while . . . for the present. I couldn't see you last night, in spite of your note. I meant to write to you myself, but I don't know how to write,” he added with vexation, almost as though with disgust.

“I thought myself that we must break it off. Varvara Petrovna is too suspicious of our relations.”

“Well, let her be.”

“She mustn't be worried. So now we part till the end comes.”

“You still insist on expecting the end?”

“Yes, I'm sure of it.”

“But nothing in the world ever has an end.”

“This will have an end. Then call me. I'll come. Now, good-bye.”

“And what sort of end will it be?” smiled Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch.

“You're not wounded, and . . . have not shed blood?” she asked, not answering his question.

“It was stupid. I didn't kill anyone. Don't be uneasy. However, you'll hear all about it to-day from every one. I'm not quite well.”

“I'm going. The announcement of the marriage won't be to-day?” she added irresolutely.

“It won't be to-day, and it won't be to-morrow. I can't say about the day after to-morrow. Perhaps we shall all be dead, and so much the better. Leave me alone, leave me alone, do.”

“You won't ruin that other . . . mad girl?”

“I won't ruin either of the mad creatures. It seems to be the sane I'm ruining. I'm so vile and loathsome, Dasha, that I might really send for you, 'at the latter end,' as you say. And in spite of your sanity you'll come. Why will you be your own ruin?”

“I know that at the end I shall be the only one left you, and . . . I'm waiting for that.”

” And what if I don't send for you after all, but run away from you?”

“That can't be. You will send for me.”

“There's a great deal of contempt for me in that.”

“You know that there's not only contempt.”

“Then there is contempt, anyway?”

“I used the wrong word. God is my witness, it's my greatest wish that you may never have need of me.”

“One phrase is as good as another. I should also have wished not to have ruined you.”

“You can never, anyhow, be my ruin; and you know that yourself, better than anyone,” Darya Pavlovna said, rapidly and resolutely. “If I don't come to you I shall be a sister of mercy, a nurse, shall wait upon the sick, or go selling the gospel. I've made up my mind to that. I cannot be anyone's wife. I can't live in a house like this, either. That's not what I want. . . . You know all that.”

“No, I never could tell what you want. It seems to me that you're interested in me, as some veteran nurses get specially interested in some particular invalid in comparison with the others, or still more, like some pious old women who frequent funerals and find one corpse more attractive than another. Why do you look at me so strangely?”

“Are you very ill?” she asked sympathetically, looking at him in a peculiar way. “Good heavens! And this man wants to do without me!”

“Listen, Dasha, now I'm always seeing phantoms. One devil offered me yesterday, on the bridge, to murder Lebyadkin and Marya Timofyevna, to settle the marriage difficulty, and to cover up all traces. He asked me to give him three roubles on account, but gave me to understand that the whole operation wouldn't cost less than fifteen hundred. Wasn't he a calculating devil! A regular shopkeeper. Ha ha!”

“But you're fully convinced that it was an hallucination?”

“Oh, no; not a bit an hallucination! It was simply Fedka the convict, the robber who escaped from prison. But that's not the point. What do you suppose I did! I gave him all I had, everything in my purse, and now he's sure I've given him that on account!”

“You met him at night, and he made such a suggestion? Surely you must see that you're being caught in their nets on every side!”

“Well, let them be. But you've got some question at the tip of your tongue, you know. I see it by your eyes,” he added with a resentful and irritable smile.

Dasha was frightened.

“I've no question at all, and no doubt whatever; you'd better be quiet!” she cried in dismay, as though waving off his question.

“Then you're convinced that I won't go to Fedka's little shop?”

“Oh, God!” she cried, clasping her hands. “Why do you torture me like this?”

“Oh, forgive me my stupid joke. I must be picking up bad manners from them. Do you know, ever since last night I feel awfully inclined to laugh, to go on laughing continually for ever so long. It's as though I must explode with laughter. It's like an illness. . . . Oh! my mother's coming in. I always know by the rumble when her carriage has stopped at the entrance.”

Dasha seized his hand.

“God save you from your demon, and . . . call me, call me quickly!”

“Oh! a fine demon! It's simply a little nasty, scrofulous imp, with a cold in his head, one of the unsuccessful ones. But you have something you don't dare to say again, Dasha?”

She looked at him with pain and reproach, and turned towards the door.

“Listen,” he called after her, with a malignant and distorted smile. “If ... Yes, if, in one word, if ... you understand, even if I did go to that little shop, and if I called you after that— would you come then?”

She went out, hiding her face in her hands, and neither turning nor answering.

“She will come even after the shop,” he whispered, thinking a moment, and an expression of scornful disdain came into his face. “A nurse! H'm! . . . but perhaps that's what I want.”
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Chapter IV
All in expectation


The impression made on the whole neighbourhood by the story of the duel, which was rapidly noised abroad, was particularly remarkable from the unanimity with which every one hastened to take up the cudgels for Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. Many of his former enemies declared themselves his friends. The chief reason for this change of front in public opinion was chiefly due to one person, who had hitherto not expressed her opinion, but who now very distinctly uttered a few words, which at once gave the event a significance exceedingly interesting to the vast majority. This was how it happened. On the day after the duel, all the town was assembled at the Marshal of Nobility's in honour of his wife's nameday. Yulia Mihailovna was present, or, rather, presided, accompanied by Lizaveta Nikolaevna, radiant with beauty and peculiar gaiety, which struck many of our ladies at once as particularly suspicious at this time. And I may mention, by the way, her engagement to Mavriky Nikolaevitch was by now an established fact. To a playful question from a retired general of much consequence, of whom we shall have more to say later, Lizaveta Nikolaevna frankly replied that evening that she was engaged. And only imagine, not one of our ladies would believe in her engagement. They all persisted in assuming a romance of some sort, some fatal family secret, something that had happened in Switzerland, and for some reason imagined that Yulia Mihailovna must have had some hand in it. It was difficult to understand why these rumours, or rather fancies, persisted so obstinately, and why Yulia Mihailovna was so positively connected with it. As soon as she came in, all turned to her with strange looks, brimful of expectation. It must be observed that owing to the freshness of the event, and certain circumstances accompanying it, at the party people talked of it with some circumspection, in undertones. Besides, nothing yet was known of the line taken by the authorities. As far as was known, neither of the combatants had been troubled by the police. Every one knew, for instance, that Gaganov had set off home early in the morning to Duhovo, without being hindered. Meanwhile, of course, all were eager for some one to be the first to speak of it aloud, and so to open the door to the general impatience. They rested their hopes on the general above-mentioned, and they were not disappointed.

This general, a landowner, though not a wealthy one, was one of the most imposing members of our club, and a man of an absolutely unique turn of mind. He flirted in the old-fashioned way with the young ladies, and was particularly fond, in large assemblies, of speaking aloud with all the weightiness of a general, on subjects to which others were alluding in discreet whispers. This was, so to say, his 'special role in local society. He drawled, too, and spoke with peculiar suavity, probably having picked up the habit from Russians travelling abroad, or from those wealthy landowners of former days who had suffered most from the emancipation. Stepan Trofimovitch had observed that the more completely a landowner was ruined, the more suavely he lisped and drawled his words. He did, as a fact, lisp and drawl himself, but was not aware of it in himself.

The general spoke like a person of authority. He was, besides, a distant relation of Gaganov's, though he was on bad terms with him, and even engaged in litigation with him. He had, moreover, in the past, fought two duels himself, and had even been degraded to the ranks and sent to the Caucasus on account of one of them. Some mention was made of Varvara Petrovna's having driven out that day and the day before, after being kept indoors “by illness,” though the allusion was not to her, but to the marvellous matching of her four grey horses of the Stavrogins' own breeding. The general suddenly observed that he had met “young Stavrogin” that day, on horseback. . . . Every one was instantly silent. The general munched his lips, and suddenly proclaimed, twisting in his fingers his presentation gold snuff-box.

“I'm sorry I wasn't here some years ago ... I mean when I was at Carlsbad . . . H'm! I'm very much interested in that young man about whom I heard so many rumours at that time. H'm! And, I say, is it true that he's mad? Some one told me so then. Suddenly I'm told that he has been insulted by some student here, in the presence of his cousins, and he slipped under the table to get away from him. And yesterday I heard from Stepan Vysotsky that Stavrogin had been fighting with Gaganov. And simply with the gallant object of offering himself as a target to an infuriated man, just to get rid of him. H'm! Quite in the style of the guards of the twenties. Is there any house where he visits here?”

The general paused as though expecting an answer. A way had been opened for the public impatience to express itself.

“What could be simpler?” cried Yulia Mihailovna, raising her voice, irritated that all present had turned their eyes upon her, as though at a word of command. “Can one wonder that Stavrogin fought Gaganov and took no notice of the student? He couldn't challenge a man who used to be his serf!”

A noteworthy saying! A clear and simple notion, yet it had entered nobody's head till that moment. It was a saying that had extraordinary consequences. All scandal and gossip, all the petty tittle-tattle was thrown into the background, another significance had been detected. A new character was revealed whom all had misjudged; a character, almost ideally severe in his standards. Mortally insulted by a student, that is, an educated man, no longer a serf, he despised the affront because his assailant had once been his serf. Society had gossiped and slandered him; shallow-minded people had looked with contempt on a man who had been struck in the face. He had despised a public opinion, which had not risen to the level of the highest standards, though it discussed them.

“And, meantime, you and I, Ivan Alexandrovitch, sit and discuss the correct standards,” one old club member observed to another, with a warm and generous glow of self-reproach.

“Yes, Pyotr Mihailovitch, yes,” the other chimed in with zest, “talk of the younger generation!”

“It's not a question of the younger generation,” observed a third, putting in his spoke, “it's nothing to do with the younger generation; he's a star, not one of the younger generation; that's the way to look at it.”

“And it's just that sort we need; they're rare people.” The chief point in all this was that the “new man,” besides showing himself an unmistakable nobleman, was the wealthiest landowner in the province, and was, therefore, bound to be a leading man who could be of assistance. I've already alluded in passing to the attitude of the landowners of our province. People were enthusiastic:

“He didn't merely refrain from challenging the student. He put his hands behind him, note that particularly, your excellency,” somebody pointed out.

“And he didn't haul him up before the new law-courts, either,” added another.

“In spite of the fact that for a personal insult to a nobleman he'd have got fifteen roubles damages! He he he!”

“No, I'll tell you a secret about the new courts,” cried a third, in a frenzy of excitement, “if anyone's caught robbing or swindling and convicted, he'd better run home while there's yet time, and murder his mother. He'll be acquitted of everything at once, and ladies will wave their batiste handkerchiefs from the platform. It's the absolute truth!”

“It's the truth. It's the truth!”

The inevitable anecdotes followed: Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch's friendly relations with Count K. were recalled. Count K.'s stern and independent attitude to recent reforms was well known, as well as his remarkable public activity, though that had somewhat fallen off of late. And now, suddenly, every one was positive that Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch was betrothed to one of the count's daughters, though nothing had given grounds for such a supposition. And as for some wonderful adventures in Switzerland with Lizaveta Nikolaevna, even the ladies quite dropped all reference to it. I must mention, by the way, that the Drozdovs had by this time succeeded in paying all the visits they had omitted at first. Every one now confidently considered Lizaveta Nikolaevna a most ordinary girl, who paraded her delicate nerves. Her fainting on the day of Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch's arrival was explained now as due to her terror at the student's outrageous behaviour. They even increased the prosaicness of that to which before they had striven to give such a fantastic colour. As for a lame woman who had been talked of, she was forgotten completely. They were ashamed to remember her.

“And if there had been a hundred lame girls—we've all been young once!”

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch's respectfulness to his mother was enlarged upon. Various virtues were discovered in him. People talked with approbation of the learning he had acquired in the four years he had spent in German universities. Gaganov's conduct was declared utterly tactless: “not knowing friend from foe.” Yulia Mihailovna's keen insight was unhesitatingly admitted.

So by the time Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch made his appearance among them he was received by every one with naive solemnity. In all eyes fastened upon him could be read eager anticipation. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch at once wrapped himself in the most austere silence, which, of course, gratified every one much more than if he had talked till doomsday. In a word, he was a success, he was the fashion. If once one has figured in provincial society, there's no retreating into the background. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch began to fulfil all his social duties in the province punctiliously as before. He was not found cheerful company: “a man who has seen suffering; a man not like other people; he has something to be melancholy about.” Even the pride and disdainful aloofness for which he had been so detested four years before was now liked and respected.

Varvara Petrovna was triumphant. I don't know whether she grieved much over the shattering of her dreams concerning Lizaveta Nikolaevna. Family pride, of course, helped her to get over it. One thing was strange: Varvara Petrovna was suddenly convinced that Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch really had “made his choice “at Count K.'s. And what was strangest of all, she was led to believe it by rumours which reached her on no better authority than other people. She was afraid to ask Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch a direct question. Two or three times, however, she could not refrain from slyly and good-humouredly reproaching him for not being open with her. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch smiled and remained silent. The silence was taken as a sign of assent. And yet, all the time she never forgot the cripple. The thought of her lay like a stone on her heart, a nightmare, she was tortured by strange misgivings and surmises, and all this at the same time as she dreamed of Count K.'s daughters. But of this we shall speak later. Varvara Petrovna began again, of course, to be treated with extreme deference and respect in society, but she took little advantage of it and went out rarely.

She did, however, pay a visit of ceremony to the governor's wife. Of course, no one had been more charmed and delighted by Yulia Mihailovna's words spoken at the marshal's soiree than she. They lifted a load of care off her heart, and had at once relieved much of the distress she had been suffering since that

luckless Sunday.

“I misunderstood that woman,” she declared, and with her characteristic impulsiveness she frankly told Yulia Mihailovna that she had come to thank her. Yulia Mihailovna was flattered, but she behaved with dignity. She was beginning about this time to be very conscious of her own importance, too much so, in fact. She announced, for example, in the course of conversation, that she had never heard of Stepan Trofimovitch as a leading man or a savant.

“I know young Verhovensky, of course, and make much of him. He's imprudent, but then he's young; he's thoroughly well-informed, though. He's not an out-of-date, old-fashioned critic, anyway.” Varvara Petrovna hastened to observe that Stepan Trofimovitch had never been a critic, but had, on the contrary, spent all his life in her house. He was renowned through circumstances of his early career, “only too well known to the whole world,” and of late for his researches in Spanish history. Now he intended to write also on the position of modern German universities, and, she believed, something about the Dresden Madonna too. In short, Varvara Petrovna refused to surrender Stepan Trofimovitch to the tender mercies of Yulia Mihailovna.

“The Dresden Madonna? You mean the Sistine Madonna? Come Varvara Petrovna, I spent two hours sitting before that picture and came away utterly disillusioned. I could make nothing of it and was in complete amazement. Karmazinov, too, says it's hard to understand it. They all see nothing in it now, Russians and English alike. All its fame is just the talk of the last generation.”

“Fashions are changed then?”

“What I think is that one mustn't despise our younger generation either. They cry out that they're communists, but what I say is that we must appreciate them and mustn't be hard on them. I read everything now—the papers, communism the natural sciences—I get everything because, after all, one must know where one's living and with whom one has to do. One mustn't spend one's whole life on the heights of one's own fancy. I've come to the conclusion, and adopted it as a principle, that one must be kind to the young people and so keep them from the brink. Believe me, Varvara Petrovna, that none but we who make up good society can by our kindness and good influence keep them from the abyss towards which they are brought by the intolerance of all these old men. I am glad though to learn from you about Stepan Trofimovitch. You suggest an idea to me: he may be useful at our literary matinee, you know I'm arranging for a whole day of festivities, a subscription entertainment for the benefit of the poor governesses of our province. They are scattered about Russia; in our district alone we can reckon up six of them. Besides that, there are two girls in the telegraph office, two are being trained in the academy, the rest would like to be but have not the means. The Russian woman's fate is a terrible one, Varvara Petrovna! It's out of that they're making the university question now, and there's even been a meeting of the Imperial Council about it. In this strange Russia of ours one can do anything one likes; and that, again, is why it's only by the kindness and the direct warm sympathy of all the better classes that we can direct this great common cause in the true path. Oh, heavens, have we many noble personalities among us! There are some, of course, but they are scattered far and wide. Let us unite and we shall be stronger. In one word, I shall first have a literary matinee, then a light luncheon, then an interval, and in the evening a ball. We meant to begin the evening by living pictures, but it would involve a great deal of expense, and so, to please the public, there will be one or two quadrilles in masks and fancy dresses, representing well-known literary schools. This humorous idea was suggested by Karmazinov. He has been a great help to me. Do you know he's going to read us the last thing he's written, which no one has seen yet. He is laying down the pen, and will write no more. This last essay is his farewell to the public. It's a charming little thing called 'Merci.' The title is French; he thinks that more amusing and even subtler. I do, too. In fact I advised it. I think Stepan Trofimovitch might read us something too, if it were quite short and . . . not so very learned. I believe Pyotr Stepanovitch and some one else too will read something. Pyotr Stepanovitch shall run round to you and tell you the programme. Better still, let me bring it to you myself.”

“Allow me to put my name down in your subscription list too. I'll tell Stepan Trofimovitch and will beg him to consent.”

Varvara Petrovna returned home completely fascinated. She was ready to stand up for Yulia Mihailovna through thick and thin, and for some reason was already quite put out with Stepan Trofimovitch, while he, poor man, sat at home, all unconscious.

“I'm in love with her. I can't understand how I could be so mistaken in that woman,” she said to Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch and Pyotr Stepanovitch, who dropped in that evening.

“But you must make peace with the old man all the same,” Pyotr Stepanovitch submitted. “He's in despair. You've quite sent him to Coventry. Yesterday he met your carriage and bowed, and you turned away. We'll trot him out, you know; I'm reckoning on him for something, and he may still be useful.”

“Oh, he'll read something.”

“I don't mean only that. And I was meaning to drop in on him to-day. So shall I tell him?”

“If you like. I don't know, though, how you'll arrange it,” she said irresolutely. “I was meaning to have a talk with him myself, and wanted to fix the time and place.”

She frowned.

“Oh, it's not worth while fixing a time. I'll simply give hint; the message.”

“Very well, do. Add that I certainly will fix a time to see him though. Be sure to say that too.”

Pyotr Stepanovitch ran off, grinning. He was, in fact, to the best of my recollection, particularly spiteful all this time, and ventured upon extremely impatient sallies with almost every one. Strange to say, every one, somehow, forgave him. It was generally accepted that he was not to be looked at from the ordinary standpoint. I may remark that he took up an extremely resentful attitude about Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch's duel. It took him unawares. He turned positively green when he was told of it. Perhaps his vanity was wounded: he only heard of it next day when every one knew of it.

“You had no right to fight, you know,” he whispered to Stavrogin, five days later, when he chanced to meet him at the club. It was remarkable that they had not once met during those five days, though Pyotr Stepanovitch had dropped in at Varvara Petrovna's almost every day.

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch looked at him in silence with an absent-minded air, as though not understanding what was the matter, and he went on without stopping. He was crossing the big hall of the club on his way to the refreshment room.

“You've been to see Shatov too. . . . You mean to make it known about Marya Timofyevna,” Pyotr Stepanovitch muttered, running after him, and, as though not thinking of what he was doing he clutched at his shoulder.

Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch shook his hand off and turned round quickly to him with a menacing scowl. Pyotr Stepanovitch looked at him with a strange, prolonged smile. It all lasted only one moment. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch walked on.
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