By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A Family of Noblemen - The Gentlemen Golovliov
Author: Saltykov, Mikhaïl
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Family of Noblemen - The Gentlemen Golovliov" ***

http://www.freeliterature.org (Images generously made










              Book I
              Book II
              Book III
              Book IV
              Book V
              Book VI
              Book VII




Anton Vasilyev, the manager of a remote estate, was giving his
mistress, Arina Petrovna Golovliov, an account of his trip to Moscow.
He had gone there to collect the money due from those of her peasant
serfs who bought the right to live in the city by paying her a tax.
When he had finished with his report, she told him he might retire, but
he lingered on irresolutely, as though he had something else to say,
yet could not make up his mind to say it.

Arina Petrovna knew her servants through and through; she knew the
meaning of their slightest gestures, she could even divine their inmost
thoughts. And her steward's manner immediately aroused her disquietude.

"What else?" she asked, looking at him keenly.

"That's all," he replied evasively.

"Don't lie. There is something else. I can see it by your eyes."

Anton Vasilyev still hesitated and continued to shift from one foot to
the other.

"What is it? Tell me!" she shouted imperiously. "Out with it, out with
it! And don't wag your whole body like a dog, Telltale!"

Arina Petrovna liked to call her managers and domestics by nicknames.
She used Telltale for Anton Vasilyev, not because she had found him to
carry gossip treacherously, but simply because he had a loose tongue.

The centre of the estate that he managed was an important trading
village in which there were many taverns. He liked to take a glass
of tea in a tavern and boast of his mistress's great power. And in
the course of his boasting he would sometimes unconsciously blab out
secrets. His mistress was always with a lawsuit on her hands, so that
her trusty's garrulousness sometimes brought her sly stratagems to the
surface before they could be executed.

"Yes, I have got something else to say," Anton finally mumbled.

"What is it?" Arina Petrovna asked excitedly.

An imperious woman, with an extraordinarily lively imagination, she
instantly pictured all sorts of disagreeable opposition and antagonism,
and the thought so instantly took complete possession of her that she
turned white and jumped up from her chair.

"Stepan Vladimirych's house in Moscow has been sold," Anton said after
a pause.


"It's been sold."

"Why? How? Tell me."

"For debts, I suppose. Of course it can't be because of something nice."

"The police, the court, sold it, I suppose?"

"I suppose so. They say it was sold at auction for 8,000 rubles."

Arina Petrovna dropped back heavily into her armchair and gazed fixedly
at the window panes. She was so stunned by the news that she seemed
to have lost consciousness for a while. Had she heard that Stepan
Vladimirych had killed somebody, or that the Golovliov peasant serfs
had risen in revolt and refused to render the service due her on her
estates, or that serfdom had been abolished, she would not have been so
shocked. Her lips trembled, her eyes stared vacantly into the distance,
but she saw nothing. She did not even see the little girl, Duniashka,
run past the window carrying something hidden under her apron; she did
not see the child stop suddenly on beholding her mistress and wheel
round and then dart back guiltily to where she had come from. Such
suspicious conduct at any other time would have led to a thorough
investigation. Finally Arina Petrovna came to herself and managed to
bring out:

"A good joke, I must say." After which there again followed several
minutes of ominous silence.

"So the police sold the house for eight thousand?" she asked again.

"Yes, madam."

"So that's what he's done with his patrimony! Splendid! The blackguard!"

Arina Petrovna felt that the news called for a prompt decision, but
nothing occurred to her. Her thoughts ran confusedly in exactly
opposite directions. On the one hand she thought: "The police sold it.
But the police could not have sold it in a minute. An inventory must
first have been taken, then an appraisal made, and then the sale must
have been advertised. Sold for eight thousand when I myself two years
ago paid twelve thousand rubles for it, not a penny less. Had I only
known it was going to be up for sale, I could have bought it myself for
eight thousand rubles."

Her other thoughts ran: "The police sold it for eight thousand. That's
what he's done with his patrimony. To sell one's patrimony for eight
thousand rubles!"

"Who told you?" she asked, realizing finally that the house had been
sold and the chance to secure it cheaply was gone forever.

"Ivan Mikhailov, the inn-keeper."

"Why didn't he let me know in time?"

"I suppose he was afraid."

"Afraid? I'll teach him to be afraid. I'll make him come here from
Moscow, and the moment he comes I'll have him drafted into the army. He
was afraid!"

Although on the decline, serfdom still existed. Anton Vasilyev had
known his mistress to impose the most peculiar punishments, but, even
so, her present decision was so unexpected that it made him miserable.
He thought of his nickname Telltale. Ivan Mikhailov was an upright
peasant, and Anton never dreamed that misfortune would touch him.
Besides, Ivan Mikhailov was his friend and godfather. Now, all of a
sudden, he was to be made a soldier just because he, Anton Vasilyev,
the Telltale, could not hold his tongue.

"Forgive him--Ivan Mikhailov, I mean," he pleaded.

"Go away, you mollycoddler," she shouted in a voice so loud that he
lost all desire to intercede any further for his friend.


Arina Petrovna was sixty years old, still of sound health and
accustomed to have her own way in everything. Her manner was severe.
She lived alone, and managed the huge Golovliov estate all by herself,
without having to answer to any one else. She calculated closely,
almost parsimoniously, was not intimate with her neighbors, was
gracious to the local authorities, and exacted implicit obedience
from her children. They were not to do anything without first asking
themselves, "What would mamenka say about it?" She was independent,
inflexible, even stubborn, though her stubbornness was not so much
native as due chiefly to the circumstance that there was not one person
in the whole Golovliov family that could oppose her. Her husband was
a trifling creature, and drank. Arina Petrovna used to say of herself
that she was neither a widow nor a married woman. Some of the children
were in St. Petersburg, the others took after their father and were
relegated to the class of "horrid creatures," who were unfit for
household duties. In these circumstances Arina Petrovna soon began to
feel all left alone, and grew totally disaccustomed to family life,
although the word "family" was constantly on her lips, and outwardly
she seemed to be exclusively guided in all her work by the desire to
build up the family estate and keep the family affairs in order.

The head of the family, Vladimir Mikhailych Golovliov, was known from
his youth as a dissolute, quarrelsome fellow, with nothing in his
character that would be sympathetic to a serious, active woman like
Arina Petrovna. He led a lazy, good-for-nothing existence, usually
stayed locked up in his room, where he imitated the warble of the
starlings, the crowing of cocks, and the like, and composed ribald
doggerel. In bursts of confidence he would boast that he had been a
friend of the poet Barkov, intimating that the poet had blessed him
on his deathbed. Arina Petrovna disliked her husband's verses from
the very first. "Nasty stuff!" "Trash!" she called them. And since
Vladimir Mikhailych's very object in marrying had been to have someone
ever at hand to listen to his poetry, the result was that quarrels
soon began, which grew worse and worse and more frequent until they
ended with Arina Petrovna utterly indifferent and contemptuous of her
clown husband, and Vladimir Mikhailych hating his wife sincerely, with
a hatred considerably mixed with fear. The husband called the wife a
"hag" and a "devil"; the wife called the husband a "windmill" and a
"balalaika without strings."

They lived together in this way for more than forty years, and it never
occurred to either of them that there was anything unnatural in such a
life. Time did not diminish Vladimir Mikhailych's quarrelsomeness; on
the contrary, it took on a still sharper edge. Apart from the poetical
exercising in Barkov's spirit that he did, he began to drink and to
lie in wait eagerly for the servant girls in the corridors. At first
Arina Petrovna looked on this new occupation of her husband's with
repugnance. She even got wrought up over it, not so much from jealousy
as that she felt it to be an interference with her authority. After a
while, however, she shrugged her shoulders, and merely watched out that
the "dirty wenches" should not fetch brandy for their master.

From that time on, having said to herself once for all that her
husband was not a companion, she directed her efforts exclusively to
one object, the building up of the estate. And in the forty years of
her married life she actually succeeded in multiplying her property
tenfold. With astonishing patience and acumen she kept her eye on the
near and distant villages, found out in secret ways the relations that
existed between the neighboring landowners and the board of trustees,
and always appeared at the auctions like snow on the head. In this
fantastic hunt for new acquisitions Vladimir Mikhailych receded more
and more into the background, turned seedy and at last dropped out of
social life completely. He was now a decrepit old man already, keeping
his bed almost the whole time. On the rare occasions that he left his
room it was only to stick his head through the half-open door of his
wife's bedroom and shout: "Devil!" After which he would go back and
close himself up in his own room again.

Arina Petrovna was not much happier in her children. She was of a
celibate nature, so to speak, independent and self-sufficient, and her
children were nothing to her but a useless burden. The only times when
she breathed freely was when she was alone with her accounts and her
household affairs, and when no one interfered with her business talks
with her managers, stewards, housekeepers, and so on. In her eyes,
children were one of the preordained things in life that she felt she
had no right to protest against. Nevertheless they did not touch a
single chord in her inner being, which was given over wholly to the
numberless details of the household.

There were four children, one daughter and three sons. Of the oldest
son and the daughter she did not even like to speak; toward the
youngest son she was indifferent. It was only for the middle one,
Porfisha, that she cherished any feeling at all, a feeling not of love,
but of something very akin to fear.

Stepan Vladimirych, the oldest son, passed in the family by the name
of Simple Simon, or The Saucebox. He was very young when he was put
into the class of "horrid creatures," and from childhood up played the
rôle of half pariah, half clown. Unfortunately he was a bright child,
susceptible to the impressions of his environment. From his father he
inherited an irresistible inclination to play tricks, from his mother
the ability to divine the weak sides of people's natures. The first
characteristic soon made him his father's favorite, which still further
intensified his mother's dislike of him. Often when the mother was
absent on business, the father and the boy would betake themselves
into the study adorned with the portrait of Barkov, read ribald poems,
and gossip, the chief butt of their raillery being the "hag," that
is to say, Arina Petrovna. The "hag," instinctively divining their
occupation, would drive up to the front steps very quietly, then
tiptoe to the study door and listen to their fun-making. The murderous
punishment of Simple Simon followed swift and cruel. But Stiopka was
not subdued. He was impervious either to blows or to admonitions,
and in half an hour was back again at his tricks. He would cut up
Aniutka's, the servant girl's, scarf, or he would stick flies into
Vasiutka's mouth while he slept, or he would run into the kitchen and
carry off a cake (Arina Petrovna kept her children half hungry), which
he always divided with his brothers.

"You ought to be killed," his mother said. "I'll kill you, and I won't
have to answer for it either. Even God won't punish me for it."

This humiliation, constantly put upon a nature soft, yielding and
forgetful, did not remain without its effect. It did not embitter
him, nor did it make him rebellious. It made him servile, disposed to
buffoonery, with no sense of the fitness of things, and devoid of all
foresight and prudence. Such natures yield to all influences and may
become almost anything--drunkards, beggars, buffoons, even criminals.

At the age of twenty Stepan Golovliov graduated from the gymnasium
in Moscow and entered the university. But his student's life was a
bitter one. In the first place, his mother gave him just enough money
to keep him from dying of hunger. Secondly, he did not show the least
inclination to work. Instead, he developed an accursed talent, which
expressed itself chiefly in mimickry. And he suffered from a desire
for constant companionship. He hated to be alone a single instant.
So he played the light rôle of hanger-on and parasite, and thanks to
his readiness for any prank he soon became the favorite of the rich
students. However, though they received him into their society, they
looked on him, not as one of them, but as a clown; and the reputation
clung to him. Once placed on such a plane, he naturally slid down lower
and lower, and at the end of the fourth year was thoroughly confirmed
in his clownship. Nevertheless, thanks to his receptive ability and
good memory, he passed the examinations successfully and received his
bachelor's degree.

When he appeared before his mother with the diploma, she merely
shrugged her shoulders and said: "Well, that's funny." Then, after
letting him spend a month in the country, she shipped him back to St.
Petersburg with an allowance of a hundred rubles a month. Now there
began for him endless visits to various government offices. He had
neither patrons nor the determination to make his own way by hard work.
The lad's mind had lost so completely the habit of concentration that
bureaucratic tasks such as the drawing up of briefs and case abstracts
were beyond his power. After four years of struggle Stepan was forced
to admit that there was no hope of his ever rising above the rank of a
government clerk. In reply to his lamentations, Arina Petrovna wrote
him a stern letter which began with the words: "I was sure that would
happen," and wound up with a command to return at once to Moscow.
There, at the conclave of Arina Petrovna's favorite peasants, it was
decided to place Simple Simon in the Aulic Court, entrusting him to
the care of a pettifogger who from time immemorial had been the legal
adviser of the Golovliov family.

What Stepan Vladimirych did in the Aulic Court and how he behaved there
is a mystery. What is certain is that at the end of the third year he
was there no longer. Then Arina Petrovna took a heroic measure. She
"threw her son a bone," which was also supposed to fill the part of
the "parental blessing," that is to say, the patrimony. "The bone"
consisted of a house in Moscow, for which she had paid twelve thousand

For the first time in his life Stepan Golovliov breathed freely. The
house promised to bring him an income of a thousand silver rubles, a
sum which in comparison with his former income, seemed like genuine
prosperity. He kissed his mamma's hand effusively, and promised to
justify her kindness, whereupon Arina Petrovna said: "That's better;
but mind you, you numskull, that's all you get from me!" But, alas!
so little was he used to handling money, so absurd was his estimation
of real values in life, that before long what he thought to be a
fabulous revenue proved insufficient. In five or six years he was
totally ruined, and was only too glad to enter the militia, which was
then being organized. No sooner, however, did the militia troops reach
Kharkov than peace was concluded, and Golovliov went back to Moscow,
dressed in a somewhat threadbare uniform and high boots. By this time
his house had already been sold, and the only thing he owned was a
hundred rubles. He began "speculating" with this capital, that is, he
tried his luck at cards, but in a short time he lost all he had. Then
he conceived the plan of visiting his mother's well-to-do peasants who
lived in Moscow. Some of them invited him to dinner, others, yielding
to his importunings, gave him tobacco or lent him small sums of money.
At last the hour came when he found himself before a blind wall, as
it were. He was already almost forty years old, and had to confess to
himself that his nomadic existence was too much for his strength. There
was only one thing left to him, to take the road leading to Golovliovo.

After Stepan Vladimirych, the oldest child, came Anna Vladimirovna,
about whom Arina Petrovna did not like to speak either. The truth
of the matter was, the old lady had placed definite expectations
in Annushka, but she, far from fulfilling her mother's hopes, had
perpetrated a scandal which set the whole district agog. When Annushka
left the girls' boarding-school, Arina Petrovna installed her at the
village, hoping to make of her a sort of unpaid private secretary and
bookkeeper, but instead Annushka eloped one fine night with cornet
Ulanov and married him.

"They have married like dogs, without a parent's blessing!" complained
Arina Petrovna. "Lucky, though, that he submitted to a wedding ceremony
at all. Another man would have taken advantage of her--and vanished
into thin air. A fine chance for catching a bird."

With her daughter Arina Petrovna dealt as peremptorily as she had with
her hated son. She bestowed "a bone" upon her too, in the shape of five
thousand rubles and a wretched little village of thirty souls and a
manor-house going with it, so dilapidated that the wind blew through
the gaping paneless windows and there was not one sound board in the
flooring. In two years the young couple had gone through the money, and
the cornet took himself off, deserting his wife and two twin girls,
Anninka and Lubinka. Three months later the mother died, and Arina
Petrovna, willy-nilly, had to take the little orphans into her own
house. She installed them in a side-wing and entrusted them to the care
of Palashka, old and one-eyed. "The Lord's mercy is great," remarked
Arina Petrovna. "The little orphans won't eat much of my bread, but
they'll be a solace to me in my old age. God has given me two daughters
instead of one." At the same time she wrote to her son, Porfiry
Vladimirych: "Your dear sister died as she lived, indecently, and now
her two children are hanging round my neck."

What we are going to say may seem cynical, but we feel it our duty to
state that the granting of the heritage to Stepan and Anna did not by
any means impair Arina Petrovna's financial condition. On the contrary,
in reducing the number of shareholders it contributed indirectly to the
rounding out of the family estate. For Arina Petrovna was a woman of
strict principles, and once having "thrown them a bone," she considered
her obligations toward her unloved children completely and definitely
settled. In regard to her grandchildren it never entered her mind that
in due time she would have to part with something for them. All she
cared for was to draw all the income possible from the small estate of
her deceased daughter and deposit it in the Chamber of Trustees. "There
I am," she would say, "laying by money for the orphans. For feeding and
bringing them up I take nothing from them. For the bread they eat it is
God who will pay me."

As for the younger children, Porfiry and Pavel, they served in St.
Petersburg, the former in a civil capacity, the latter in the army.
Porfiry was married; Pavel was an old bachelor.

Porfiry Vladimirych was known in the family by three nicknames,
Yudushka (diminutive of Judas), Bloodsucker, and Goody-goody Boy, which
had been invented by Simple Simon. From his early childhood Porfiry
had been oddly intent upon currying favor with his "dear mamma" and
showed a tendency to play the sycophant. He would open the door of his
mother's room softly, creep noiselessly into a corner, and sit there,
as if entranced, with his eyes fixed on his mother while she wrote
or busied herself with accounts. Even in those days Arina Petrovna
regarded her son's efforts to insinuate himself into her good graces
with vague suspicion. His stare puzzled her. She could not decide what
his eyes expressed, whether venom or filial reverence. "I cannot make
out what is in his eyes," she sometimes argued with herself. "His
glance is like a noose which he is getting ready to throw. He might
look like that handing a person poison or enticing him into a pitfall."

In this connection she often recollected highly significant details
of the time she was carrying Porfisha. An old man called Porfisha the
Saint was at that time living in the manor. He had the reputation
of a seer, and Arina Petrovna turned to him whenever she wanted to
learn something about the future. She had asked him when she would be
delivered of the child and whether it would be a boy or a girl; but the
pious old man gave no direct answer. Instead he crowed three times like
a cock and then mumbled:

"Cockerel, cockerel, sharp claw! The cock crows and threatens the
brood-hen; the brood-hen--cluck! cluck!--but it will be too late!"

That was all he said. Three days later (the seer crowed three times!)
Arina Petrovna gave birth to a son ("cockerel! cockerel!") and named
him Porfiry in honor of the old soothsayer. The first half of the
prophecy had been fulfilled; but what could be the hidden meaning of
the mysterious words, "the brood-hen--cluck! cluck!--but it will be too
late?" Arina Petrovna often pondered over it, whenever her eyes fell on
Porfisha, who sat in his nook with his enigmatic gaze fixed on her.

Meanwhile Porfisha kept on staring, quiet and meek, staring so intently
that his wide-open, motionless eyes began to swim in tears, as if
he vaguely sensed the doubts that tormented his mother's soul, and
wished to behave so as to disarm her most persistent suspicion. At the
risk of annoying his mother, he constantly hovered about her, and the
expression in his eyes seemed to say: "Look at me! I conceal nothing
from you. I am all obedience and devotion, and, mind you, I am obedient
and devoted not only from fear but also from loyalty." And although an
inner voice constantly sounded warning that the young scoundrel was
dangerous in spite of his wheedling and fawning, her heart could not
resist such unremitting devotion and her hand involuntarily felt for
the best piece in the dish to bestow upon the affectionate child. And
yet the very sight of him at times awakened a vague fear of something
puzzling and eery.

The exact opposite of Porfiry was his brother, Pavel, the most perfect
embodiment of absolute passivity. As a boy he manifested no inclination
whatever for study, or games, or playing with other boys, but liked
to keep to himself. He would get into a corner, pout, and set to work
building air castles, dreaming that he had gorged himself with oatmeal
so that his legs had become thin and he had no lessons to learn, or
else that he was Davidka, the shepherd, with a growing lump on his
forehead, just like David's, and cracked a whip and had no lessons to
learn. Arina Petrovna would gaze at him for a long time, and then her
motherly feelings would well up:

"Why do you sit there like a mouse on groats?" she would scold. "Is the
poison working in you already? Why don't you come over to your mother
and say: 'Mamenka darling, hug me?'"

Pavel would leave his place of refuge and slowly approach his mother,
as if someone were pushing him from behind. "Mamenka darling," he would
repeat in a bass voice unnatural in a child, "hug me."

"Get out of my sight, you sneak. You think if you get into your corner
I don't understand. You are mistaken, my darling. I see through and
through you. Your plans and projects are as clear as if they were
spread on the palm of my hand."

And Pavel would just as slowly retrace his steps and bury himself again
in his corner.

Years passed by, and Pavel Vladimirych gradually developed that
apathetic, unaccountably gloomy character which often goes with
absolute passivity. He was, perhaps, good, but he had done nobody any
good; he was, perhaps, not without some intelligence, but he had not
achieved anything intelligent in his life. He was hospitable, but
people did not like to avail themselves of his hospitality. He spent
money readily, but nothing good or pleasant came of his lavishness to
anybody. He never harmed anybody, but that was not considered a merit.
He was honest, but no one had ever heard it said: "How honorably Pavel
Golovliov dealt in that affair!" It must be added that sometimes, not
often, he snarled at his mother, although he feared her like poison. I
repeat, he was an ill-tempered person, but back of his moroseness was
nothing but sheer inertness.

When the brothers reached maturity, the difference in their characters
was most conspicuous in their relation to their mother. Yudushka
punctually every week sent a lengthy epistle to "mother dear," in
which he informed her in the greatest detail of all the minutiæ of his
life in St. Petersburg, and assured her of his disinterested filial
devotion in the most carefully selected terms. As for Pavel, he wrote
rarely, laconically, and sometimes even enigmatically, pulling every
word out of himself with a pair of tongs, as it were.

"My adorable friend and dear mother," is what Porfiry Vladimirych
wrote, for instance, "I have received the money from the peasant
Yerofeyev, and I send you my most heartfelt thanks for forwarding the
sum, which, according to your gracious wish, dearest mamenka, is to be
spent for my maintenance. I also kiss your hands with sincere filial
devotion. What worries and grieves me is the thought that you are
straining your precious health all too much by your ceaseless efforts
to satisfy not only our needs, but our whims as well. I don't know what
brother thinks, but I----" etc., etc.

As for Pavel, what he wrote on a similar occasion was: "Dear mother, am
in receipt of the money, and, according to my calculations, you still
owe six and a half rubles, for which I beg to be graciously forgiven."

When Arina Petrovna wrote reprimanding the children for their
extravagance--she did so rather frequently, although there was no
serious necessity for it--Porfisha invariably received her rebuke
submissively and replied: "I am well aware, my dearest friend and
mother, that you bear the heaviest burdens for the sake of us, your
unworthy children. I know that often our behavior does not justify
your motherly solicitude, and what is worse, erring humans that we
are, we often forget it, for which I apologize most devotedly and
sincerely, in the hope that in the course of time I will overcome my
weakness and be more prudent in my expenditure of the funds that you
send, my adorable friend and mother, for my maintenance and for other
purposes." Pavel would answer back: "Dearest mother, though you have
not as yet paid any of my debts, I accept most submissively the name
of spendthrift which you choose to bestow upon me, whereof I beg most
sincerely to accept my assurance."

Even the replies that the brothers made to the letter announcing the
death of their sister, Anna Vladimirovna, were quite different from
each other. Porfiry Vladimirych said: "The news of the death of my dear
sister and good playmate, Anna Vladimirovna, has filled my heart with
sorrow, a sorrow aggravated by the thought that a new cross has been
given you to bear, dearest little mother, in the shape of two little
orphans. Is it not sufficient that you, common benefactress to us all,
deny yourself everything and, without sparing your health, concentrate
all your power on the sole object of assuring the family not only
the necessaries of life but also the luxuries? Believe me, it is a
wicked thing to do, but now and then, I confess, I cannot refrain from
grumbling. As far as I can see, the only solace for you, my dearest,
in this state of affairs is to remember as often as you can all that
Christ himself had to undergo." Pavel's reply ran: "The news of my
sister, who has fallen a victim, I have received. I hope, however, that
the Most High will rest her in His celestial tent, although this is

Arina Petrovna reading these letters would try to guess which of the
two sons would be her destruction. At times she felt certain the
danger was coming from Porfiry Vladimirych.

"Look how he wags his tongue, a regular fiend at writing!" she would
exclaim. "Simple Simon's nickname suits to a tee--Yudushka! Not a word
of truth in all this stuff about my burdens, my cross, and the rest.
Sheer lies! Not an ounce of feeling in his heart!"

At other times Pavel Vladimirych seemed to be her real enemy.

"A fool, and yet look how deftly he tries to make love to mother on
the sly. 'Whereof I beg most sincerely to accept my assurance!' Wait a
while! I'll teach you what 'accept assurances' means! I shall deal with
you as I did with Simple Simon, and you'll find out what I mean by your

In the end a truly tragical cry would burst from her lips. "And for
whom am I hoarding all this wealth? For whom am I gathering all this? I
deny myself sleep and food--for whom?"

Such were the domestic circumstances of the Golovliovs at the time that
the bailiff, Anton Vasilyev, reported to Arina Petrovna that Simple
Simon had dissipated "the bone" flung to him, which, in view of its
loss, might now be called with especial significance the "parental

Arina Petrovna sat in her bedroom, all her senses dazed. A vague,
unaccountable feeling stirred within her, whether pity, born suddenly
and miraculously, for her hated offspring, who, after all, was her son,
or whether merely thwarted despotism, the most expert psychologist
would have been unable to decide. Her sensations were utterly confused
and succeeded each other with bewildering swiftness. Finally, out of
the welter of her thoughts there crystallized one emotion, the fear
that "the horrid creature" would again be hanging round her neck.

"Aniutka has forced her whelps on me, and now this dunderhead is coming
here," she pondered deeply.

Long she sat silent, her eyes fixed and intent. Dinner was brought in,
but she hardly touched it; a servant came and said the master wanted
brandy. Without looking up she threw him the keys of the store-room.
After the meal she ordered the bath to be prepared for her. Then she
went into the oratory, ordered all the image lamps to be lit, and
shut herself in. These were all clear signs that the mistress was
"in a temper," and so the house turned as quiet as a churchyard. The
chambermaids walked on tiptoe; Akulina, the housekeeper, ran back and
forth like a lunatic. The preparations for preserving had been set
for after dinner; the berries had been rinsed and made ready, but the
mistress gave no orders either to go ahead or to wait. The gardener,
Matvey, came to ask whether it was time to gather the peaches, but such
was his reception in the maids' room that he fled precipitately.

Prayers and bath over, Arina Petrovna felt almost reconciled with the
world and had the bailiff summoned again.

"Now tell me, what is the numskull doing?" she asked.

"Well, Moscow is big, it would take more than a year to walk through

"But he needs something to fill his stomach with, doesn't he?"

"Our peasants feed him. He eats with one, gets money for tobacco from

"And who permits them to give him anything?"

"Goodness me, madam! The people don't complain. They give alms to
strangers. Should they refuse a mite to their own master's son?"

"I'll teach them to give mites! I'll have the blockhead deported to
your estate, and the community will have to maintain him at its own

"As you command, madam."

"What? What did you say?"

"As you command, my lady. If you order it, we shall feed him."

"That's better. But talk sensibly."

A pause ensued. Then the bailiff, true to his nature and his nickname,
lost patience and began to shift from one leg to another, obviously
burning with the desire to unburden his mind of something.

"He's a clever one, though," he finally blurted out. "People say he
brought back a hundred rubles from the campaign. It isn't a fortune,
but still one can live on it for a time."


"He thought he might improve his situation and went in for a shady

"Go on, go on, and don't give me any lies."

"He went to the German Club. He thought he would find a fool to beat at
cards, but instead he happened on a cunning hawk. He tried to get away,
but was held up in the lobby. Of course, he was plucked clean."

"I suppose he was roughly handled, too."

"Of course. The next morning he came to our man, Ivan Mikhailych, and
told the tale himself. It's queer, he was in high spirits and laughed
as if they had treated him like a lord."

"Things run from him like water off a duck's back. But I won't grieve
over it, provided he does not come within sight of me."

"But I believe he will."

"Nonsense, I will not allow him to cross my threshold."

"But I'm sure he will," insisted Anton Vasilyev. "He said so in plain
words to Ivan Mikhailych. 'Enough,' he says, 'I am going back to the
old woman to eat her dry crusts.' And, madam, to speak the truth, where
can he lay his head but here? He cannot keep on forever feeding on our
men in Moscow. And besides, he needs clothing and comforts."

That was exactly the thing Arina Petrovna dreaded. It was the very
essence of the obscure thought that so deeply alarmed her. "Yes, he
will turn up," she said to herself, "he has no other place to go to,
there's no doubt of it." He would always be there, within her sight,
that accursed, hated stranger of a son. What had been the good of
throwing his portion to him? She had thought that, having received "his
due," he would drop into eternity. And there he was, rising from the
dead. He would come, make insolent demands, and hang on like a leech,
shocking everybody by his beggarly appearance. And she would have to
meet his demands, because he was a brazen-faced bully, capable of any
violence. You cannot put such a man under restraint; he is capable of
parading in tatters before strangers, of the wildest debauchery, of
running away to the neighbors and telling them the ins and outs of the
family affairs. Should she have him deported to the Suzdal Monastery,
which was said to be a place for ridding parents in distress of the
sight of their refractory children? But the Lord knows whether that
fabulous institution existed at all. People said there were such
things as houses of correction. But how could one get an overgrown dolt
into one of them?

In short, Arina Petrovna was altogether upset by the thought of how the
arrival of Simple Simon was going to disturb her peaceful existence.

"I shall billet him upon you," was her threat to the bailiff. "Feed him
at your own expense."

"Why so, madam?"

"Because you stand there croaking: 'He's sure to come,'" she mimicked.
"Get out of my sight, you raven!"

Anton Vasilyev turned to go, but Arina Petrovna stopped him:

"Wait a minute. Is it true that he is starting out for Golovliovo?"

"I'm not in the habit of telling lies, madam. He said so plainly--'I am
going back to the old woman to eat her dry crusts.'"

"He'll soon find out what kind of crusts the old woman has prepared for

"But, madam, he won't live with you long."

"Why not?"

"Well, madam, he coughs very badly and keeps on clutching the left side
of his chest. He won't live long."

"That kind generally lives very long. He'll outlive us all. The
coughing doesn't hurt him. Well, we shall see about it later. Leave me
now. I have several matters to attend to."

Arina Petrovna spent the whole evening pondering over this problem.
Finally she found it best to convoke the family council for the
purpose of deciding what was to be done with Simple Simon. Such
constitutionalism was not her habit. She made up her mind to digress
from the traditions of autocracy solely for the purpose of shielding
herself from public censure, and as she did not doubt the outcome of
the conference, she sat down with a light heart to write to Porfiry and
Pavel asking them to come to Golovliovo immediately.


Meanwhile, the cause of all this mess, Simple Simon, was on his way
to Golovliovo. In Moscow he engaged a seat in one of the so-called
"diligences," in which small merchants and peasant traders used to
travel, and which are still seen in some districts. The diligence
had the city of Vladimir as its point of destination, and Stepan
was enabled to travel in it through the liberality of the aforesaid
innkeeper Ivan Mikhailych, who also paid for his master's meals on the

"Listen," said Ivan Mikhailych, with the air of an accomplice. "Do
this, get off at the station and go straight up to your mother just as
you are."

"Yes, yes, yes," answered Stepan Vladimirych approvingly. "The house is
only about fifteen versts from there. I can walk it in no time. I shall
appear before her all dirty and dusty."

"When your mother sees you in that rig, perhaps she'll take pity on

"She will, she will. Mother, after all, is a kindly old woman."

Stepan Golovliov was not quite forty, but he looked like fifty. Life
had so thoroughly worn him out that there was not a vestige of his
noble origin left, not a single trace of his university education nor
of the enlightening word of science which in days bygone had been
addressed to him, too. He was tall as a Maypole, racked by hunger,
unkempt, untidy, with a sunken chest and long bony arms. His bloated
face, his dishevelled hair, streaked with grey, his loud, hoarse voice,
his bulging, bloodshot eyes were unmistakable signs of heavy drinking
and a weather-beaten life. He wore an old, threadbare uniform, with the
galloons gone--they had been sold to a smelter--and a pair of reddish
boots, patched and sadly worn. Beneath his coat, when unbuttoned,
peeped a dirty shirt, as black as if it had been smeared with soot.
With the cynicism of a militiaman, he called it "a flea nest."

His glance was stealthy and gloomy, the expression not of inner
discontent, but rather of a vague anxiety which seemed to come from
an ever-present fear of death by starvation. He talked ceaselessly
and disconnectedly, passing without transition from one subject to
another. He spoke whether Ivan Mikhailych listened or dozed off under
the soporific of his garrulousness. He was dreadfully uncomfortable,
because there were four people in the diligence and he had to sit with
his legs bent, so that at the end of three or four versts he had an
intolerable pain in his knee-joints. Nevertheless the pain did not
prevent him from talking. Clouds of dust entered through the side
windows of the vehicle, at times flooded by a flaming, scorching sheet
of sunlight. But Stepan Golovliov kept on talking.

"Yes, brother," he held forth, "I have lived hard all my life. It is
high time to rest. I shan't be eating her out of house and home, shall
I? She has enough and to spare. What d'you think, Ivan Mikhailych?"

"Oh, your mother has plenty to eat."

"Yes, but not for me, you mean to say? Yes, friend, she has heaps of
money, but not a copper for me. And to think the hag has always hated
me. Why? But now I'll sing her a different song. I've made up my mind.
I'm desperate. If she tries to drive me out, I won't go. If she doesn't
give me food, I'll take it. I've served my country, brother. Now it's
everyone's duty to help me. There's only one thing I'm afraid of, that
she won't give me tobacco."

"Yes, you'll have to say good-by to tobacco."

"Then I'll put the screw on the bailiff. The devil can well afford to
give his master a present now and then."

"Oh, yes, he may do that, but what if your mother forbids him to?"

"Well, in that case I'll be done for. Tobacco is the only luxury that
has remained of my former style. When I had money I used to smoke not
less than a quarter of a pound of Zhukov's tobacco every day."

"I guess you'll have to do without brandy, too."

"Another calamity. Brandy does me a lot of good. It breaks up my
phlegm. When we were marching to Sebastopol, we had hardly reached
Serpukhov, when each man had already been given three gallons of

"You must have lost your senses."

"I don't remember. We marched as far as Kharkov, but I'll be hanged
if I remember anything else. The only thing I can recall is that we
passed through villages and towns and that at Tula an _otkupshchik_
made a speech. He shed tears, the scoundrel did. Yes, our holy mother
Russia drank from the cup of sorrow in those days. _Otkupshchiki,_
contractors, receivers--it's a wonder God succeeded in saving the
country from them."

"Oh, your mother came in for some of the profits. In our village hardly
half of the soldiers returned home. A recruit's receipt is now given
for each man lost in the campaign, and the government rates such a
quittance at more than four hundred rubles."

"Yes, my mater is a cunning blade. She ought to be a minister of state
instead of housekeeper at Golovliovo. Let me tell you, she has been
unjust to me and she has insulted me, but I respect her. The main thing
is, she's clever as the devil. If not for her, where would we have been
now? We would have had nothing but Golovliovo with its one hundred and
one and a half souls. Just think what an enormous pile she has made."

"Well, your brothers will certainly be rich."

"Yes. But I'll have nothing, that's just as certain. Yes, friend, I've
gone to rack and ruin. But my brothers, they'll be rich, especially the
Bloodsucker. He can ensnare a person in no time, and it won't be long
before he'll undo her, too. He'll pump the estate and the money out of
her. I have an eye for these things. But Pavel, he's a fine chap. He
will send my tobacco on the sly. You'll see if he doesn't. As soon as I
reach Golovliovo, I'll send a note off to him: 'Dear brother, it's so
and so with me. Ease my soul.' Ah, if I were rich!"

"What would you do?"

"In the first place, I'd make you roll in wealth."

"Why me? First think of yourself. I'm contented, living as I do under
your mother's rule."

"Oh, no, brother, _attendez!_ I would make you the chief marshal of all
my estates. Yes, my dear friend, you have fed and warmed a soldier,
accept my thanks. If not for your generosity, I should now be footing
it all the way to the home of my fathers. And, of course, I would free
you on the spot and open up all my treasury to you--drink, eat and be
merry. What did you think I would do?"

"You'd better stop worrying about me, sir. What else would you do if
you were rich?"

"In the second place, I'd get a mistress at once. At Kursk I went to
mass once and saw one--a queen! She was very fidgety and restless."

"But maybe she would object to becoming your mistress."

"And how about hard cash? What's the filthy lucre for? If a hundred
thousand is not enough for her, she'll take two hundred thousand. When
I have money, no expense is too great for me, if it is a question of
getting a bit of pleasure out of life. I must confess that at the time
I let her know through our corporal that I would give her three rubles.
But the wench asked five."

"That was too much for you, of course!"

"Well, I can't tell. As I said, I was in a dream the whole time.
Maybe she came to me, but I forget. Those two months of marching have
gone completely out of my mind. No such thing has happened to you, I

Ivan Mikhailych was silent. Stepan Vladimirych looked at him
attentively and discovered that his fellow-traveller was sound asleep.

"Umph," he said. "He has nodded off, the sleepy-head. You have grown
fat, brother, on the tea and fare of your eating-house. I can't sleep,
not a wink. A good chance for a lark."

Golovliov looked around and saw that everybody was asleep. The merchant
at his side was constantly striking his head against a cross-beam, but
kept on sleeping. His face shone as if veneered, and flies swarmed
about his mouth. A splendid idea, Stepan thought, to cram all the flies
down the merchant's throat. His hand began to move toward the merchant,
but halfway he repented and gave up the idea. "No more pranks," he
said, "enough. Sleep, friends, and rest." Meanwhile--where had he
hidden the bottle? Here, the darling! "Let me see you. Lord, save Thy
creatures," he hummed, taking out a bottle from a bag fastened to the
side of the vehicle and applying it to his mouth. "Ah, that's better.
It warms your insides, you know. Shall I have some more? Well, no. The
station is about twenty versts from here. I'll have time to get as
drunk as a lord. But shan't I have just one drop more? The deuce take
it, the vodka. The bottle simply acts like a charm. It's wicked to
drink, but how can you help it, if it is the only way of getting some
sleep? I wish the vodka, the deuce take it, would do for me quick."

He gulped down some more vodka, returned the bottle to its place, and
began to fill his pipe.

"We are all right," he said, talking to himself. "First, we had a sip,
and here we are smoking. She won't let me have any tobacco, the old
hag, sure as fate she won't, the man is right. Will she give me food?
She may send me what is left over from her meals. Well, we, too, had
money, but now we have none. Such is life. To-day you eat and drink
your fill, you enjoy yourself and smoke a pipe,

         "'And to-morrow--where art thou, man?'

Still it would not be a bad thing to have a bite now. I drink like a
fish and I hardly ever have a square meal. Doctors say drinking does
you good only when followed by a hearty meal, as the Most Reverend
Smaragd said when we passed through Oboyan. Was it Oboyan? The deuce
knows, it may have been Kromy. But that's immaterial now. The main
question is, how to get something to eat. I recollect that my man put a
sausage and three rolls into the bag. Caviar is too expensive for the
rascal. Look at the fellow--sleeps like a log and sings through his
nose. I wouldn't be surprised if he were sitting on the bag."

He rummaged about in search of the bag, but could not find it.

"Ivan Mikhailych, Ivan Mikhailych," he shouted to the sleeping
innkeeper. The man woke up and for a while could not make out where he
was and how he happened to be sitting opposite his master.

"I was just beginning to nap," he said finally.

"Sleep, friend, sleep. I only want to know where the bag with the food

"Are you hungry? But you would like a drink first, I suppose."

"Right. Where is the bottle?"

Stepan Vladimirych took a drink, and then attacked the sausage, which
happened to be as salty as salt itself and as hard as stone, so that he
had to use the point of his knife to pierce it.

"Some whitefish would taste good now," he remarked.

"Excuse me, sir, I clean forgot about the whitefish. All morning I kept
saying to my wife: 'Be sure to remind me of the whitefish.' I am very

"Oh, it doesn't matter. The sausage is good enough for me. When we
were on the campaign, we ate worse things. Father used to tell that two
Englishmen made a bet. One of them was to eat a dead cat, and he ate

"You don't say!"

"He did. And he was as sick as a dog afterwards. He cured himself with
rum. He guzzled two bottles as fast as he could, and that set him right
at once. Another Englishman made a bet that he would live a whole year
on nothing but sugar."

"Did he win?"

"No. He kicked the bucket two days before the end of the year. And how
about you, why don't you take a drink?"

"I never touch it."

"So you swill nothing but tea. No good, brother. That's why your belly
has grown so big. One must be careful with tea. A cup of tea must be
followed by a glass of vodka. Tea gathers phlegm, vodka breaks it up.
Isn't that so?"

"Well, I don't know. You are learned; you know better."

"True. On the campaign we had no time to bother with tea or coffee. But
vodka--that's a holy affair. You unscrew the flask, pour the vodka into
a cup, drink, and that's all. At that time we had to march so fast that
for ten days I went without washing."

"You certainly roughed it, sir."

"Yes, marching on the highroad is not a joke. Still, on our way forward
it was not so bad. People gave us money, and there was plenty to eat
and drink. But when we marched back there was no more fêting."

Golovliov gnawed at the sausage and finally chewed up a piece.

"It is very salty, this sausage is," he said. "But I'm not squeamish.
After all, mother won't feed me on tid-bits. A plate of cabbage soup
and some gruel--that's all she'll let me have."

"God is merciful. Maybe she'll give you pie on holidays."

"No, I imagine there'll be no tea, no tobacco, no vodka. People say she
has become fond of playing fool, so she may call me in to take a hand
at the game and give me some tea. As for the rest, there is no hope."

There was a four-hour rest to feed the horses. Golovliov had finished
the bottle and was tormented by hunger. The travellers entered the inn
and settled down to a hearty meal.

Stepan Vladimirych took a stroll in the court, paid a visit to the
backyard, the stables and the dovecote, and even tried to sleep.
Finally he came to the conclusion that the best thing for him to do
was to join his fellow-travellers in the inn. There the cabbage soup
was already steaming and on a wooden tray on the sideboard lay a great
chunk of beef, which Ivan Mikhailych was just then engaged in carving.
Golovliov seated himself a little way from the table, lighted his pipe,
and sat silent for quite a while pondering over the way in which he
could allay the pangs of hunger.

"I wish you a good appetite, gentlemen," he said finally, "the soup
seems to be good and rich."

"The soup is all right," answered Ivan Mikhailych. "Why don't you order
a portion for yourself?"

"Oh, it was only a remark on my part. I'm not hungry."

"Impossible. All you've eaten is a bit of sausage, and the damned
thing only teases one's appetite. Please eat something. I'll have a
separate table laid for you. My dear woman," he turned to the hostess,
"a place for the gentleman."

The passengers silently attacked their meal and now and then exchanged
meaningful looks. Golovliov felt his fellow-travellers suspected how
matters stood, although he had played master throughout the journey,
not without some arrogance, and had addressed the faithful innkeeper as
if he had merely entrusted him with his cash. His brows knitted, and
a thick cloud of smoke escaped from his mouth. In the depths of his
heart he felt he ought to refuse, but so imperative are the dictates
of hunger that he set upon the bowl of cabbage soup like a beast of
prey and emptied it in a trice. Along with satiety came his customary
self-assurance and, as if nothing were the matter, he said, turning to
Ivan Mikhailych:

"Well, my cashier, you will pay up for me, and I am off for the hayloft
to have a talk with Mr. Khrapovitzky."

He jogged over to the hayloft, and as his stomach was full he was soon
fast asleep. He woke up at five o'clock in the morning. Noticing that
the horses stood at their empty bins rubbing their noses against the
edges, he roused the driver. "He sleeps like a top, the rascal," he
shouted. "We're in a hurry, and he's having pleasant dreams."

Soon the travellers reached the station at which the road turned
off to Golovliovo. Here at last Stepan Vladimirych lost some of his
devil-may-care attitude and became crestfallen and taciturn. Ivan
Mikhailych tried to cheer him up and insisted that he part with his

"You'd better throw the pipe into the nettles, sir, when you come to
the manor-house," he coaxed. "You will find it later on."

Finally the horses that were to take the innkeeper to the end of his
journey were ready, and the moment of parting came.

"Good-by, brother," said Golovliov in a tremulous voice, kissing Ivan
Mikhailych. "She'll plague the life out of me."

"The Lord is merciful. Keep up a stout heart."

"She'll eat me up alive," repeated Stepan Vladimirych, with such
conviction that the innkeeper involuntarily lowered his eyes.

With these words Golovliov turned sharply along the country road,
walking in a shuffle and leaning on a gnarled stick which he had cut
off a tree.

Ivan Mikhailych followed him with his eyes for a while, and then ran
after him.

"Listen, master," he said. "When I was cleaning your uniform a few
minutes ago, I saw three rubles in your side pocket. Please don't lose

Stepan Vladimirych was visibly irresolute and could not make up his
mind how to act in this contingency. Finally, he stretched out his hand
to the peasant and said, with tears in his eyes:

"I understand--to buy tobacco for the old trooper? Thanks. But she'll
eat me up alive, friend. Sure as hell."

Golovliov found the country road again and several minutes later his
grey soldier's cap showed afar off, now vanishing, now appearing above
the young wood. It was early in the day. The morning mist, touched into
gold by the first rays of the sun, hovered above the country road. The
grass glistened with the dew, and the air was redolent of fir-trees,
mushrooms, and wild berries. The road meandered across a plain swarming
with birds.

Stepan Vladimirych, however, noticed nothing of the beauty about him.
All his frivolity had suddenly gone, and he walked as if to the Last
Judgment. One thought filled his mind to the exclusion of everything
else. In three or four hours he would have reached his goal. He
recalled his life at Golovliovo, and he felt as if the doors of a damp
cellar were opening to let him in, and no sooner would he penetrate
into the gloomy interior than the doors would close behind him and
everything would be over. Memories prophetic of what awaited him at
Golovliovo surged in his mind. There had been uncle Mikhail Petrovich,
popularly known as Mishka the Squabbler, one of the "horrid" members of
the family, whom grandfather Piotr Ivanych had exiled to Golovliovo,
where he had lived in the servants' quarters and eaten out of the
same dish with Trezorka, the house dog. There had been Aunt Vera
Mikhailovna, who had lived on the estate by her brother's favor and
died of "moderate living"; for Arina Petrovna had begrudged her every
mouthful at dinner and every billet of wood for the stove in her room.
And a similar fate awaited him.

He foresaw an endless succession of joyless days losing themselves in
a grey yawning abyss, and he involuntarily shut his eyes. Henceforth
he would have to be alone with a wicked old woman, half dead in the
stagnation of despotism. She would be the death of him before long, as
sure as fate. Not a soul to speak to, not a place to visit. She would
be everywhere, scornful, despotic, deadening. The thought of that
inevitable future made his heart so heavy that he stopped under a
tree in desperation, and struck his head against it several times. His
entire life with all its farcical strutting, idleness, and buffoonery
loomed up as if flooded with sudden light. Then he started on his way
again. He felt there was nothing else left for him. The least of men
can make some effort, can earn his bread. He alone was helpless. It
was a new thought. He had been accustomed in thinking of his future to
picture various prospects, but always prospects of wealth coupled with
idleness, never prospects of work. And now the time had come when he
had to pay for the wickedness and aimlessness of his existence. It was
a bitter settlement, summed up in the terrible phrase: "She will be the
end of me."

It was about nine o'clock in the morning when the white Golovliovo
belfry showed above the forest. The traveller's face grew pale, and his
hands began to tremble. He took off his cap and crossed himself. The
parable of the prodigal son and his return occurred to him, but he at
once rejected the idea as a bit of self-delusion.

Finally, he noticed the boundary-post standing by the wayside, and
presently he was treading the Golovliovo soil, the hateful soil that
had borne him, an unloved child, that had reared him, sent him, hated,
into the wide world, and was now receiving him, the unloved one, back
into its arms again. The sun was high in the heavens and was ruthlessly
scorching the boundless fields of Golovliovo. But Stepan Vladimirych
was growing paler and shivering with ague.

At length he reached the churchyard, and here his courage failed
utterly. The manor-house looked out from behind the trees as if nothing
unpleasant had ever happened there; yet the sight of it worked on him
like the vision of a Medusa head. His paternal abode seemed to be a
tomb. "A tomb, tomb, tomb," he repeated unconsciously. He had not the
courage to go straight to the house, but first called on the priest
and sent him to break the news of his arrival and inquire whether his
mother would receive him.

The priest's wife was very sympathetic and hastened to prepare an
omelette. The village children gathered about him and stared at the
master with wondering eyes. The peasants passing by lifted their hats
in silence and looked at him curiously. One old servant ran up with
the intention of kissing the master's hand. Everyone understood that a
wastrel was before them, an unloved son who had returned to his hated
home never to leave it except for the graveyard. At the thought of it
the people were overwhelmed with a mingled feeling of pity and dread.

At last the priest returned and announced that the lady of the manor
was ready to receive Stepan Vladimirych. Ten minutes later he was
standing in her presence. Arina Petrovna met him severely and solemnly,
and measured him icily from head to foot, but allowed herself no
useless reproaches. She received him, not in the living room, but on
the porch, and ordered the young master to be taken to his father
through another entrance. The old man was dozing in his bed, under a
white coverlet, in a white nightcap, all white like a corpse. When he
felt the presence of his son he woke up and began to laugh idiotically.

"Well, friend, so now you are under the hag's paw," he cried, while his
son kissed his hand. Then he crowed like a cock, burst out laughing
again, and repeated several times: "She'll eat him up! She'll eat him
up!" The phrase found echo in Stepan's soul.

His fears were justified. He was installed in a separate room in
the wing that also housed the counting-room. He was given homespun
underwear and an old discarded dressing-gown of his father's, which he
put on immediately. The doors of the burial vault had opened, let him
in, and closed again.

There now began a long succession of dull, ugly days, which Time's
grey, yawning abyss swallowed up, one after the other. Arina Petrovna
never received him, nor was he allowed to see his father. Three days
after his arrival, his mother informed him through Finogey Ipatych, the
bailiff, that he would receive board and clothing and also a pound of
Faler's tobacco monthly. Stepan Vladimirych listened to the bailiff,
and merely remarked:

"The hag! She's found out that Zhukov's tobacco costs two rubles, while
Faler's is only one ruble ninety kopeks a pound. So she pockets ten
kopeks a month."

The symptoms of the moral sobering that had appeared during the
hours of his approaching Golovliovo on the country road, vanished.
Frivolity reasserted its rights and was followed by an acceptance of
the conditions his mother imposed upon him. The disquieting thought of
the hopeless future, which had once pierced his mind, faded gradually
away and finally was no more. The day and the evil thereof, the petty
interests of existence in all its undisguised ugliness absorbed his
entire being. What part, indeed, could his intentions and opinions play
when the course of the rest of his life in all its details was laid out
in advance in Arina Petrovna's brain?

All day long he walked to and fro in his room, pipe in mouth, humming
bits of songs, passing unaccountably from church tunes to boisterous
airs. If the village clerk happened to be in the office, he went up to
him and engaged in a conversation, of which the chief topic was Arina
Petrovna's income.

"What does she do with all her wealth?" he would exclaim wonderingly,
having reached the sum of more than eighty thousand rubles. "My
brothers' allowances are rather poor; she herself lives shabbily, and
she feeds cured meats to father. She deposits the money in the bank,
that's what she does with it."

On one occasion Finogey Ipatych came to deliver the taxes he had
gathered, and the table was littered with paper money, and Stepan's
eyes glittered.

"Ah, what a heap of money!" he exclaimed. "And it all flows right down
her throat. As for giving her son some of these nice greenbacks, no,
she wouldn't do that. She wouldn't say: 'Here, my son, you who are
visited by sorrow, here is some cash for wine and tobacco.'"

This was usually followed by endless cynical talks about how he could
win over his mother's heart.

"In Moscow," he held forth, "I used to meet a man who knew a magic
word. If his mother refused to give him money he would utter 'the
word,' and she instantly got cramps in her hands and feet, in fact all

"It must have been a spell, I suppose," remarked the village clerk.

"Well, whatever it may have been, it is gospel truth that there is such
a 'word.' Another man told me this: 'Take,' he says, 'a frog, and put
it into an anthill at midnight. By morning the ants will have gnawed
it clean, so that only its skeleton will be left. Take the skeleton,
and when it is in your pocket ask anything you wish of any woman, and
she won't refuse you."

"Well, that's easy."

"The trouble is, one must first damn oneself forever. If it weren't for
that, the old hag would be cringing before me."

Hours on end were spent in such talk, but no remedy was found. The
preliminary condition was that you either had to call a curse down on
yourself, or sell your soul to the devil. There was no help. Stepan
Vladimirych had to go on living under his mother's rule, the only
relief coming in the small voluntary contributions that he raised from
the village officials in the form of tobacco, tea, and sugar. His fare
consisted mainly of what remained from his mother's table, and as Arina
Petrovna was moderate to the point of avarice, his board was meagre,
to say the least; which was all the more painful because ever since
vodka had become unattainable, his appetite had grown considerably
keener. All day long hunger gnawed at him, and his sole preoccupation
was how to fill his stomach. He awaited the hour when his mother would
retire for a rest, then sneaked into the kitchen and looked into the
servants' quarters, snatching a bit here, a bit there. Sometimes he
would sit at his open window watching for passers-by. If one of the
serfs came along, he stopped him and levied toll in the form of an egg,
a curd-cake, and the like.

At the first meeting between mother and son, Arina Petrovna briefly
explained the whole program of his life.

"Live here," she said. "Here is a shelter for you in the
counting-house. Your meals you will get from my table. In other matters
you will have to put up with things as they are. There were never any
dainties in the house, and I shan't change my ways for your sake. Your
brothers will soon arrive. Whatever they will decide about you, I shall
carry out. I shall take no sin upon my soul. Let them dispose of your

He looked forward to his brothers' arrival with impatience. Not that he
reflected on the influence their arrival might have on his existence,
as he had evidently decided that the matter was not worth his thought.
The only thing that interested him was whether Pavel would bring him
tobacco and how much.

"Maybe he'll hand me over some coin, too," he mused. "Porfishka the
Bloodsucker, he won't, but Pavel ... I'll say to him: 'Brother, give a
soldier some cash for wine.' He'll give me some. He's sure to."

He did not notice the passage of the days, nor did he feel the weight
of his absolute idleness. The only time he was lonesome was in the
evenings, because the constable left at eight, and Arina Petrovna did
not allow her son any candles, on the ground that one can walk to and
fro without light. He soon became accustomed to the dark and even began
to love it, for in the darkness his imagination had free play and
carried him far, far away from the dreary place which was his home. In
those hours only one thing disturbed him. He had a dull pain in the
chest and his heart palpitated queerly, especially when he went to bed.
Sometimes he jumped out of bed and ran about the room, clutching the
left side of his chest.

"I wish I would die," he thought at such moments. "But, no, I shan't
die. But maybe I shall."

One morning when the village clerk with an air of mystery reported that
his brothers had arrived the night before, he shuddered and grew pale.
Something childlike suddenly awoke in him. He felt like running to the
house to see how his brothers were dressed, and find out what beds had
been prepared for them, and whether they had travelling cases like one
he had seen a militia captain carrying, and hear how they would talk
to mother, and spy out what would be served at dinner. In short, a
desire once more arose in him to return to life, which so persistently
rejected him, to fall at "dear mamma's" knees, and obtain her pardon.
Then perhaps he would eat the fatted calf and be merry.

The house was still quiet, but he had already visited, the kitchen and
found out that the following courses had been ordered for dinner: soup
with fresh cabbage, also some soup left over from yesterday, cured meat
served with cutlets of chopped meat for entree, fried mutton chops and
four snipes for the roast, and raspberry pie with cream for dessert.

"Yesterday's soup, cured meat, and the chops--that, brother, is for
me," he said to the cook. "There will be no pie for me, I guess."

"For your mother to say, sir."

"Ah, friend, there was a time when I ate snipe. Yes, I did. Once I made
a bet with Lieutenant Gremykin that I would eat fifteen snipes one
after the other, and what do you think? I won the bet. After that I
couldn't look at snipe for a month."

"But you won't refuse to have some now?"

"She wouldn't let me have any. I can't see, though, what makes her
so stingy. A snipe is a free bird. You don't have to feed it or look
after it. It is self-supporting. She doesn't buy snipes any more than
she buys sheep--and yet! The hag knows snipe tastes better than mutton.
That's why she won't let me have it. She'd rather let it rot than give
it to me. What's ordered for breakfast?"

"Liver, mushrooms in sour cream, and custard."

"Why not send me a custard? Do, brother."

"Well, I'll try hard. Let me tell you, sir. When the brothers sit down
to breakfast, you send the village clerk here. He'll fetch you a couple
of custards under his coat."

Next day Stepan Vladimirych waited the entire morning for his brothers,
but they did not arrive. Finally, about eleven o'clock, the village
clerk brought the two promised custards and reported that the brothers
had just finished breakfast and were closeted with Arina Petrovna in
her bedroom.


Arina Petrovna received her sons solemnly, weighed down by grief. Two
maids supported her under the armpits. Her grey locks streamed out from
under her cap, her head drooped, and shook from side to side, and her
limbs seemed hardly able to support her. She always liked to play the
part of a venerable, careworn mother before her children, moving with
difficulty and getting her maids to assist her. Simple Simon called
such solemn receptions high mass, herself a bishop, and the maids,
Polka and Yulka, mace-bearers. As it was late at night the interview
was almost a silent one. Without saying a word she gave her sons her
hand to kiss; kissed them in turn, and made the sign of the cross over
them; and when Porfiry Vladimirych made it clear that he would gladly
spend the rest of the night with "mother dear," she merely waved her
hand and said:

"Come now. Take a rest, you must be tired after the journey. This is
not the time for discussion. We shall talk to-morrow."

Next morning the two sons went to kiss papa's hand, but papa refused
his hand. He lay on his bed with closed eyes, and when they entered he
cried out:

"Have you come to judge the toll-gatherer? Get out, Pharisees! Get

But in spite of this reception, Porfiry Vladimirych emerged from papa's
room agitated and with tears on his eyelids, while Pavel Vladimirych,
like "the heartless dolt" that he was, merely picked his nose.

"He is very weak, mother dear, very weak!" exclaimed Porfiry
Vladimirych, throwing himself on his mother's breast.

"Is it so bad?"

"Yes, very bad. He won't live much longer."

"Oh, well, it isn't as bad as that."

"No, dear, no. And although your life has never been too joyful, yet
as I think how Fate deals you so many blows at once, upon my word, I
wonder where you get the strength to bear up under it all."

"Well, my friend, the strength comes if such is the Lord's will. You
know what it says in the Scriptures: 'Bear one another's burdens.' It
seems that our Heavenly Father has chosen me to bear the burdens of my

Arina Petrovna shut her eyes, so delightful was this vision of the
family finding their tables covered for them and of her toiling for
them and bearing their burdens.

"Yes, my friend," she said after a minute's pause, "it's a hard life I
lead in my old age. I have provided for my children, and it is time for
me to rest. It's no joke--four thousand souls! At my age to take care
of such an estate, to have an eye on everybody and everything, to run
back and forth! As for all those bailiffs and managers, they look you
straight in the eye, but, believe me, they are the most faithless kind.
And you," she interrupted herself, turning to Pavel, "what are you
digging in your nose for?"

"What have I to do with it?" snarled Pavel Vladimirych, disturbed in
the very midst of his absorbing occupation.

"What do you mean? After all, he's your father. You might find a word
of pity for him."

"Well--a father! A father like any other father. He has been that way
for ten years. You always make things unpleasant for me."

"Why in the world should I, my boy? I am your mother. Here is Porfisha.
He has found words of affection and pity for me as befits a good son,
but you don't even look at your mother properly. You look at her out of
the corner of your eye, as if she were not your mother, but your foe.
Please don't bite me."

"Well, what----"

"Stop! Hold your tongue for a minute. Let your mother say a word. Do
you remember the commandment, 'Honor thy father and thy mother, and all
will be well with thee?' Am I to understand that you don't wish to be

Pavel Vladimirych kept silence and looked at his mother in perplexity.

"You see, you're silenced," went on Arina Petrovna, "you are guilty.
But I shall let you alone. For the sake of this joyful meeting we shall
dispense with this talk. God, my child, sees everything. As for me, I
see you through and through, and I always have. Children, children, you
will remember your mother when she lies in her grave. You will remember
her, but it will be too late."

"Mamma dear!" interposed Porfiry Vladimirych. "Away with such black
thoughts, away with them!"

"We must all die," said Arina Petrovna sententiously. "These are not
black, but pious thoughts. I'm growing weak, children, oh, how weak!
Debility and ailments are the only things left of my former strength.
Even the maids have noticed it, and they don't care a rap for me. If I
say one word, they have ten in reply. I have only one threat, that I
shall complain to the young masters. That works sometimes."

Tea was served and then breakfast, during which Arina Petrovna
continued her complaining and self-pitying. After breakfast she invited
her sons to her bedroom.

When the door was locked, she went straight to the business for which
she had convoked the family council.

"Simple Simon is here," she began.

"We heard about it, mamma dear," said Porfiry Vladimirych; and it was
hard to say whether it was irony or the calm complacency of a man who
has just eaten a hearty meal that sounded in his voice.

"He has come here as if that were the proper thing to do. Whatever he
may have done, he seems to think the old mother will always have bread
for him. Think of all his hatred for me, of all the trouble his tricks
and buffoonery have caused me. And what have I not done to get him a
good berth? It all ran off like water from a duck's back. At last, I
made up my mind. Goodness, if he cannot take care of himself, am I to
ruin my life on account of the big lout? I'll give him a piece of the
property, I decided. Perhaps, I thought, once an independent proprietor
he'll sober down. No sooner said than done. I myself found a house
for him and paid out twelve thousand silver rubles for it with my own
hands. And what's the upshot? After less than three years he's hanging
round my neck again. How long am I to stand such insults?"

Porfisha lifted up his eyes and shook his head sorrowfully, as if to
say, "Fine doings. Why disturb mother dear so ruthlessly? Why not
live peacefully and quietly? Then dear mamma would not be angry. Fine
doings." But Porfisha's gestures did not please Arina Petrovna, who
objected to any interruption to the course of her thoughts.

"Wait a minute," she said, "don't shake your head. Listen first. Think
of my feelings when I learned that he had thrown away his parental
blessing like a gnawed bone into a cesspool. Think how he outraged me,
me, who for years refused myself sleep and food. He has done to his
patrimony what one would do to a bauble bought at a fair."

"Oh, mother dear, what a shame, what a shame!" began Porfiry
Vladimirych, but Arina Petrovna stopped him again.

"Wait a minute. Let me have your opinion when I order you to. If at
least the scoundrel had come to me in time and said: 'I am guilty,
dear mamma, I couldn't restrain myself,' I might have bought the house
back for a song. The unworthy son did not know how to make use of the
property. Perhaps the worthier children would. The house easily brought
in fifteen per cent. income yearly. Maybe I would have thrown him out
another thousand rubles in his distress. But instead, he disposed of
the property without so much as saying a word to me. With my own hands,
I paid out twelve thousand rubles for the house, and it was sold at
auction for eight thousand rubles!"

"The main thing, dear mamma, is that he has dealt so basely with the
parental blessing," Porfiry interjected hastily, as if afraid of being
stopped again.

"Yes, that's so, too. My money does not come lightly. I have earned it
with the sweat of my brow. When I married your father, all he owned
was the estate of Golovliovo with one hundred and one souls, and a few
more souls scattered in distant estates, a hundred and fifty in all.
As for me, I had nothing at all. Now look what an estate I have built
up on that foundation. There are four thousand souls, not a single one
less. I can't take them into the grave with me. Do you think it was an
easy task to scrape four thousand souls together? No, dear child, not
easy, far from easy. I spent many a sleepless night trying to work out
a good business scheme, so that no one should smell it out and stand in
my way. And what have I not endured in my business travels? I have had
plenty of hard road and bad weather and slippery ice. It is only lately
that I allow myself the luxury of a coach. In former times I rode in a
plain two-horse peasant's cart with a cover put on extra for me. It was
in nothing but a cart that I used to go to Moscow. And the filth and
stench I had to put up with in the Moscow inns! I begrudged myself the
dime for the cabby, and I walked all the way from Rogozhskaya Street
to Solyanka. The house-porter would say to me wonderingly: "Mistress,
they say you are young and well-to-do, why do you work so hard?" But I
was silent and patient. At first all I had at my disposal were thirty
thousand rubles in bank notes. I sold your father's remote estates with
their one hundred souls, and with what I realized from the sale I set
out to buy a property with a thousand souls. I had a mass said at the
Iverska Church and went to Solyanka to try my luck. What do you think
happened? The Holy Virgin must have seen my bitter tears. She helped
me buy the estate. It was like a miracle. The instant I bid thirty
thousand rubles the auction came to an end. There had been a lot of
noise and excitement, but then the people stopped bidding, and it was
as quiet as could be. The auctioneer got up and congratulated me. I was
dumfounded. Ivan Nikolaich, the lawyer, came over to me and said: 'Let
me congratulate you, madam, on your purchase.' But I stood there stiff
as a post. How great is God's mercy! Think of it, if in my confusion
someone had called out just for spite, 'I bid thirty-five thousand,' I
should certainly have offered every bit of forty thousand. And where
would I have gotten the money from?"

Many a time before had Arina Petrovna regaled her children with the
epical beginnings of her career of acquisition. It had never lost
the charm of novelty for them. Porfiry Vladimirych listened smiling,
sighing, turning up his eye-balls, lowering them, to the tune of the
rapid changes through which the tale passed. As for Pavel Vladimirych,
he sat with wide-open eyes, like a child, listening to a familiar, yet
ever-fascinating fairy tale.

"Do you think your mother built up her fortune without trouble?" went
on Arina Petrovna. "It takes trouble even to make a pimple on your
nose. After the first purchase I was laid up with fever for six weeks.
So judge for yourselves how it must make my heart ache to see my
hard-earned money, money I went through torments to get, you may say,
thrown out into the gutter for no earthly reason."

There was a minute's pause. Porfiry Vladimirych was ready to rend his
garments, but refrained, fearing there would be no one in the village
to mend them. Pavel Vladimirych, as soon as the fairy tale was over,
fell back into his wonted apathy, and his face resumed its customary
dull expression.

"That is why I asked you to come here," began Arina Petrovna anew. "Now
judge us, me and the villain. Whatever you decide will be done. If you
condemn him, he will be guilty. If you condemn me, I shall be guilty.
Only I shall not allow the rascal to get the better of me," she added,
quite unexpectedly.

Porfiry Vladimirych felt his turn had come, and he prepared to hold
forth, but approached the subject in a roundabout way.

"If you will permit me, dearest mother, to express my opinion," he
said, "here it is in two words: children must obey their parents,
blindly do their bidding, cherish them in their old age. That's all!
What are children, dear mother? Children are loving creatures who owe
their parents everything, from their persons to the last rag they
possess. Therefore, parents may judge children, while children may
never judge parents. Children are in duty bound to respect, not to
judge. You say: 'Judge us.' That is magnanimous of you, dear mother,
_mag_nificent! But how can we think about it without fear, we whom from
the first day of our birth you have been clothing with kindness from
head to foot? Say what you may, it would not be judgment but blasphemy.
It would be such blasphemy, such blasphemy----"

"Stop, wait a minute. If you say you cannot sit in judgment on me,
acquit me and condemn _him,_" Arina Petrovna interrupted. She was
listening and trying to search his meaning, but could not make out what
new plot was back of the Bloodsucker's mind.

"No, mother dear, even that I cannot do, or rather I don't dare to. I
have no right to. I can neither acquit nor condemn. I simply cannot
judge. You are the mother; you alone know how to deal with us children.
You have the right to reward us if we deserve it, and chastise us if we
are guilty. Our duty is not to criticise, but to obey. And if at the
moment of parental wrath you exceed the measure of justice, even then
we dare not grumble, for the ways of Providence are hidden from us. Who
knows, perhaps it was necessary. Our brother Stepan has acted basely,
unspeakably, but you alone can determine the degree of punishment he

"Then you refuse to help me? You would have me get out of this affair
as best I can?"

"Oh, dearest, dearest, how you misunderstood me! Goodness, goodness! I
said, that however you might be pleased to dispose of brother Stepan's
fate, so shall it be, and you--what horrible thoughts you ascribe to

"All right. And you?" she turned to Pavel Vladimirych.

"Do you want my opinion? But what's my opinion to you?" said he, as if
only half-awake. However, he braced himself unexpectedly and went on:
"Of course, he's guilty. Have him torn to pieces--ground to dust in a
mortar--it's settled in advance. What am I in this?"

Having mumbled these incoherent words, he stopped and stared at his
mother, his mouth wide open, as if not trusting his own ears.

"Well, my dear, I shall speak to you later," Arina Petrovna cut him off
coldly. "I see that you are anxious to tread in Stiopka's tracks. Take
care, my child. You will repent, but it will be too late."

"Why, what's the matter? I'm not saying anything. I say, just as you
please. What is there disrespectful in that?" said Pavel Vladimirych,

"I'll talk with you later on, my boy, later on. You think because you
are an army officer, you can run wild. You are greatly mistaken. Then
neither of you wants to sit in judgment?"

"I, dearest mother----"

"What am I in this?" said Pavel Vladimirych. "I don't care. Have him
torn to pieces."

"Hold your tongue, for Christ's sake, you wicked man!" Arina Petrovna
felt she was fully entitled to call her son "scoundrel," but refrained
in deference to the joyous meeting. "Well, if you refuse to judge him I
shall. Here is my verdict. I shall try to treat him kindly once more. I
shall hand over to him the little Vologda village, have a cottage built
there, and let him live there and be fed by the peasants."

Although Porfiry Vladimirych had refused to sit in judgment on his
brother, his mother's generosity was so amazing that he felt he simply
had to point out the dangerous consequences of her project.

"Dearest mamma," he exclaimed, "you are more than magnanimous. You are
confronted by a deed--well, the vilest, meanest deed--and then you
forget and pardon. _Mag_nificent! But forgive me, I am afraid for you,
dearest. Think what you will of me, but if I were you, I wouldn't do

"Why not?"

"I don't know. Perhaps I lack your magnanimity, that motherly feeling
of yours. But one thought comes back to me all the while--what if
brother Stepan does the same with his second legacy as he did with his

Arina Petrovna had already thought of that, yet in the back of her mind
was another consideration.

"The Vologda estate is father's property, it belongs to the patrimony,"
she said through her teeth. "Sooner or later a portion of the patrimony
will have to be doled out to him."

"I understand that very well, mother dear."

"Then you also understand that on giving him the Vologda village we can
make him sign a document to the effect that he has received his full
share and that he renounces all further inheritance claims."

"I understand that too, dearest mother. Your excessive kindness caused
you to commit a grave mistake. At the time you bought him the house you
ought to have made him give you such a document then."

"Yes, that was a blunder."

"At that time, in his joy, he would have signed any document. But you,
dearest, in the kindness of your heart--goodness, what a mistake! What
a mistake!"

"Don't talk of it any more. Why didn't you speak up before it was too
late? Now you are ready to blame everything on your mother, but when it
comes to business, you are not there. However, it isn't the document
I have in mind. I can make him sign it even now. Papa, I suppose,
isn't going to die at once. Until his death the blockhead must live on
something. In case he refuses to sign, we can chase him out and bid him
wait for papa's death. No, what I want to know is, do you dislike my
idea of giving him the Vologda estate?"

"He will squander away the village, darling, as he did the house."

"If he does, let him blame himself."

"He'll come back to you, again, to no one else."

"Oh, no, I won't stand for it. I won't let him come near my threshold.
There won't be a drink of water for him in my house. And people won't
condemn me for it, nor will God punish me. To squander away first a
house, then an estate! Am I his slave? Is he the only one I have to
provide for? Have I not other children?"

"Still, it is to you that he will come. Isn't he brazen-faced enough to
do that, darling mamma?"

"I tell you, I won't let him come near my threshold. Why do you sit
there croaking, 'he'll come, he'll come?' I won't let him in."

Arina Petrovna grew silent and fixed her gaze on the window. She
herself vaguely realized that the Vologda estate would only temporarily
free her from "the horrid creature," that in the end he would dispose
of it, too, and would return to her again, and that as a mother she
could not refuse him a corner in her house. But the thought that the
odious fellow would always be with her, that even though locked up in
the counting-house he would be preying on her imagination like a spook,
was so appalling that she shuddered involuntarily.

"Not for the world!" she exclaimed, striking the table with her fist
and leaping to her feet.

Meanwhile, Porfiry Vladimirych kept on staring at "mother dear" and
shaking his head rhythmically in token of condolence.

"I see you are angry, dearest mamma," he said at last in a tone so
sugared that he seemed to be getting ready to tickle Arina Petrovna.

"What would you have me do? Dance a jig?"

"Excuse me, darling, but what do the Scriptures say about patience?
'In patience,' it says, 'possess ye your souls,' 'In patience'--that's
the word. Do you think God does not see? He sees everything, mother
dear. We perhaps don't suspect anything, we sit here proposing this and
planning that, while He may already have disposed. Oh, dearest mamma,
how unjust you are to me."

But Arina Petrovna was fully aware that the Bloodsucker was throwing a
snare, and she flew into a rage.

"Are you making sport of me?" she shouted. "I am discussing business,
and he's trying to hoax me. Don't pull the wool over my eyes. Speak
plainly. Do you want him to remain at Golovliovo, hanging around his
mother's neck?"

"Just so, dearest mother, if you please. Let him be where he is and
make him sign a paper about the heritage."

"So, so. I knew that was what you would advise. All right. God alone
knows how it will pain me always to be having that creature around.
However, it seems nobody will take pity on me. When I was young I bore
my cross. Shall I refuse it in my old age? But there is still another
point. While papa and I are alive, _he'll_ live at Golovliovo, and we
won't let him starve. But how about afterwards?"

"Dearest mother! Darling! Why such melancholy thoughts?" cried the

"Melancholy or not, still one has to provide ahead. We aren't babies.
When we die, what will become of him?"

"Dearest mother! Can't you count on us, your children? Have we not been
properly brought up by you?"

Porfiry Vladimirych flashed on her one of those puzzling glances which
had always made her uneasy, and went on:

"The poor man, dear mamma, I shall help with greater joy than the rich.
The rich man, Christ be with him, the rich man has enough of his own.
But the poor man--you know what Christ said of the poor."

Porfiry Vladimirych got up and kissed his mother's hand.

"Dearest mamma, allow me to present my brother with two pounds of
tobacco," he said entreatingly.

Arina Petrovna did not answer. She looked at him and reflected: "Is he
really such a Bloodsucker that he would turn his own brother out on the

"Well, do as you please. Let him live at Golovliovo," she said finally,
turning to Porfiry. "You have trapped me. You started with 'just
as you please, dearest mamma,' and finished by dancing me on your
wire. But let me tell you this, I hate him and he has disgraced and
pestered me all his life, he has even dishonored my motherly blessing.
Nevertheless, if you turn him out into the streets or make a beggar of
him, you shall not have my blessing. No, no, no. Now you two go to him.
The idiot is wearing out his silly eyes looking for you."

The sons left. Arina Petrovna rose and watched them stride over the
front yard to the counting-house without exchanging a word. Porfiry was
constantly taking off his cap and crossing himself, now at the sight
of the church, which shimmered afar off, now before the chapel, now
before the wooden post to which a charity box was attached. As for
Pavel, he seemed unable to take his eyes off his boot tips shining in
the sunlight.

"For whom have I been accumulating riches? Refused myself sleep and
food--for whom?" she cried bitterly.


The brothers departed, and the manor-house of Golovliovo was deserted.
With renewed energy, Arina Petrovna took up her work again. The
clatter of the knives in the kitchen ceased, but activities in office,
storehouses, cellars, were redoubled. Summer, the great provider,
was nearly over; preserving, canning, pickling, storing were in full
swing. Winter provisions flowed in from all quarters, dried mushrooms,
berries, eggs, vegetables. This requisition in kind imposed upon the
peasant women came in wagons from all the various family estates.
Everything was measured and added to the stores of former years. Not in
vain had the lady of Golovliovo had a long row of cellars, storehouses
and granaries built. They were full to the brim. Quite a good deal of
damaged material was along with the rest and smelt foully. At the end
of summer the stuff was all sorted and what was suspicious was sent to
the servants' quarters.

"The pickles are still in good condition, only the skin is coming off
in some places, and they smell a little. Well, let the servants enjoy a
dainty bit," Arina Petrovna would say, pointing out the barrels to be
put aside.

Stepan Vladimirych adapted himself admirably to his new condition. At
times he felt a strong craving to get drunk as a piper. He had money
for the purpose, as we shall see later. But he restrained himself
stoically, as if considering that the time had not yet arrived. He
was always busy now, for he took a lively part in the provisioning,
rejoicing in its successes and regretting its failures in a wholly
disinterested manner. In a sort of ecstasy, hatless, clad in his
dressing-gown, he scurried from the office to the cellars, hiding from
his mother behind trees and various small buildings that crowded the
court-yard. Arina Petrovna noticed him in this garb many times, and
felt an itching in her motherly heart to give Simple Simon a severe
scolding, but on second thought she left him alone in his escapades.
In the cellars Stepan Vladimirych with feverish impatience watched how
the carts were unloaded, how jars, barrels and tubs were brought in
from the estate, and everything was assorted and finally sent off into
the yawning abyss of cellars and storehouses. He felt satisfied in most

"To-day two wagons of mushrooms came from Dubrovino. Ripping fine
mushrooms, brother," he informed the village clerk rapturously. "And we
were afraid we should have to get along without mushrooms this winter.
Bravo, Dubrovino fellow, much obliged! Fine fellows they are! They have
helped us out!"

On another occasion, he said:

"To-day mother gave an order to catch some carps in the pond. You ought
to see them! Some three feet long! It looks as if we were going to live
on carp the whole week."

Sometimes he was worried.

"The cucumbers failed completely this season. There is not a good one
among them--all crooked and spotty. They're just good enough to be
sent to the servants' quarters. We shall have to use last year's."

He did not approve of Arina Petrovna's management. "Goodness, what
heaps of provisions she allows to rot! Just now she's having cured
meat, pickles, fish and what not hauled to the servants' quarters.
Is that what you call good business? Is that the right way of doing
things, I'd like to know. There are lots of fresh provisions, but she
will not touch them until the old rot is eaten up."

The confidence entertained by Arina Petrovna that it would be easy to
induce Simple Simon to sign any paper proved wholly justified. Not only
did he not object to signing all the papers that his mother sent him,
but the same evening he even boasted about it to the village clerk.

"Well, brother, to-day I have been doing nothing but signing papers. I
have renounced all my rights of inheritance. I am cleaned out. Not a
cent to my name, and none coming. I have set the old woman at ease."

He parted with his brothers peaceably, and was in raptures over his
big supply of tobacco. Of course, he couldn't help calling Porfisha
Bloodsucker and Yudushka, but the disparaging terms were drowned in a
deluge of incoherent, meaningless chatter.

In taking leave the brothers became liberal and even gave him money.
Porfiry Vladimirych accompanied his gift with the following speech:

"This money will be handy in case you need oil for the ikon lamp or if
you want to set up a candle in the church. That's how it is, brother.
Be good and gentle, and our dear mother will be satisfied. You will
have your comforts, and all of us will be merry and happy. Our mother
is a kindly soul, you know."

"There is no denying that she is kindly," agreed Stepan Vladimirych.
"Only she feeds me on rotten pickled meat."

"Whose fault is it? Who treated mother's blessing with disrespect? It
is your own fault that you lost your estate. What a nice little estate
it was. If you only knew how to behave yourself and live modestly, you
would now be eating beef and veal and even ordering sauce with them.
You would have plenty of everything, potatoes, cabbage, peas. Am I not
right, brother?"

Had Arina Petrovna heard this harangue, it would have made her
impatient, and she would have let the orator know that it did. But
Simple Simon was fortunate that his mind could not, as it were, retain
other people's words, and not a syllable of Yudushka's speech reached
its destination.

So Stepan Vladimirych parted with his brothers amicably. And there was
some vanity in his showing Yakov, the village clerk, two twenty-five
ruble notes that had been left in his hands after the brothers had

"This will last me a long time," he said. "We've got tobacco. We're
well provided with tea and sugar. Nothing is missing but vodka.
However, should we want vodka, we'll get vodka, too. Nevertheless, I
will restrain myself for a little while yet. I am too busy now, I have
to keep an eye on the cellars. Weaken your watch for a single instant,
and everything will be pillaged. _She_ saw me, brother, she saw me, the
hag, once, when I was gliding by along the kitchen wall. She stood at
the window looking at me and I bet she thought: 'Well, well, so that's
why I miss so many cucumbers.'"

Then came October. It began to rain, the road turned black, into
an impassable stream of mud. Stepan Vladimirych could not go out
because his only garments were his father's old dressing-gown and
worn slippers. He sat at his window watching the tiny, humble village
drowned in mud. There, in the gray autumn mist, men were moving about
briskly, looking like black dots.

The heavy summer work was still in full swing, but now its setting was
no longer the jubilant, sun-flooded hues of summer, but the endless
autumn twilight. The corn kilns emitted clouds of smoke far into the
night. The melancholy clatter of the flails resounded in the air.
Thrashing was also going on in the manorial barns, and in the office
they said it would hardly be possible to get through with the whole
mass of grain before Shrovetide. Everything looked gloomy and drowsy,
everything spoke of oppressiveness. The doors of the counting-house
were no longer ajar, and inside the air was filled with a bluish fog
rising from the wet fur cloaks.

It is difficult to say what impression this spectacle of a toilsome,
rural autumn made on Stepan's mind, and whether he was at all aware of
the labors going on in the incessant rain out in the boggy fields. One
thing is certain, that the drab, tearful autumn sky oppressed him. It
seemed to hang close down over his head and threaten to drown him in a
deluge of mud. All he had to do was to look out through the window and
watch the heavy masses of clouds. From the dawn on they covered the
heavens, hanging motionless as if spellbound. Even after several hours
they were still in the same place, without the slightest apparent
change in hue or outline. In the morning, one cloud, heavy and black,
had a ragged shape resembling a priest in a cassock with outstretched
arms. It was clearly outlined on the pallid background of the upper
clouds, and at noon it still had the identically same form. The right
hand, it is true, had become shorter, and the left was stretched out in
an ugly fashion and was sending down such a flood of rain that against
the dark background of the sky there formed a streak still darker,
almost black. Another huge shaggy lump of a cloud a little farther up
hung over the village, threatening to smother it, you would think.
Hours later it was still hanging in the same place, the same shaggy
monster with outstretched paws, as though ready to pounce upon the
earth. Clouds, clouds, nothing but clouds! Around five o'clock a change
took place, darkness gradually enveloped heaven and earth, and soon
the clouds disappeared completely, vanishing beneath a black shroud.
They were the first to go, next followed the forest and the village,
then the church, the chapel, the hamlet, the orchard, and finally the
manor-house, several yards away.

It has already become quite dark in the room, and there is no light.
So what can one do but pace up and down? A morbid languor seizes
Stepan's brain; his entire body, despite its idleness, is filled
with an incomprehensible, indescribable feeling of fatigue. Just one
thought moves in him and sucks at him--the grave, the grave, the
grave! Those black dots which have recently been moving busily on the
dark background of the boggy soil and near the village barns are not
oppressed by that thought. They will not perish under the burden of
despondency and weariness. If they do not challenge the sky directly,
at least they struggle, build, make enclosures, repair their houses.
Stepan did not question whether all this bustle was worth the while,
but he was aware that even the nameless dots were incomparably superior
to him, that he couldn't even struggle, that he had nothing to build,
nothing to repair.

He spent the evenings in the counting-house, because Arina Petrovna
refused to supply him with candles. Several times, through the
bailiff, he asked for boots and a fur coat, and was invariably told
that boots were not kept in store for him, but that he would be given
a pair of felt shoes as soon as the cold spells arrived. Evidently,
Arina Petrovna intended to fulfill her program literally, that was,
to sustain her son in such a manner as barely to keep him from
starvation. At first he abused his mother, but then behaved as though
he had forgotten all about her. Even the light of the candles in the
counting-room annoyed him, and he began to lock himself in his room
and remain all alone in the darkness. There was just a single refuge
left, one that he still dreaded but that attracted him irresistibly,
to get drunk and forget deeply, irrevocably, to plunge into the sea
of oblivion and never emerge again. Everything drove him to it, the
debauchery of the past, the enforced idleness of the present, his
ailing body with the torturing cough, the unbearable asthma, and the
constantly increasing pains in his heart. At last the hour came.

"You must fetch me a bottle of vodka for to-night," he said once to the
village clerk in a voice boding little good.

That one bottle of vodka was followed by a long succession of other
bottles. After that he got drunk every night. At nine o'clock, when
the light in the counting-house had been put out and the servants had
retired to their quarters, he placed a bottle of vodka and a slice of
rye bread thickly strewn over with salt on the table. He did not attack
the liquor at once, but approached it stealthily as it were. Everybody
on the place was fast asleep. The mice scudded behind the wall paper
and the clock in the counting-house ticked ominously. Stepan threw off
his dressing-gown, and began to stride back and forth in the overheated
room, with nothing but a shirt on his back. At times he stopped, went
over to the table, searched for the bottle in the darkness, then
resumed his restless pacing. The first tumblers he emptied in a sort of
passion, voluptuously swallowing down the burning liquid. But little by
little his heart began to beat faster, the blood mounted to his head,
and he mumbled incoherently. His feeble imagination tried to create
images, his blunted memory attempted to pierce the mists of the past.
But the images were broken and meaningless, and the past remained dim
and formless. There was no recollection, either bitter or sweet, as
though an impervious wall separated the past from the present.

He was completely filled by the present, which seemed like a prison
cell, in which he would be locked up for eternity without consciousness
of time or space. His mind took in nothing but the room, the stove,
the three windows in the front wall, the squeaking wooden bed with its
mattress worn thin, and the table with the bottle.

As the contents of the bottle decreased and his head grew hotter and
hotter, even this boresome sense of the present gradually faded. His
mumblings, to which at first there had been a bit of form, now lost
all meaning. His pupils dilated in the attempt to pierce the engulfing
darkness. Finally, the darkness itself vanished and its place was taken
by a phosphorescent sheen.

It was an endless void, with not a color or a sound, but radiant with
sinister splendor. The void followed him in his wanderings, trod on
his heels at every step. There were no walls, no windows, nothing
but this endless vacant splendor. Dread fell on him, coupled with an
irresistible impulse to annihilate even the void. A few more efforts,
and his goal was reached. His stumbling legs carried a benumbed body,
his chest gave forth not a murmur but an inarticulate cry, his very
existence seemingly ceased. A strange stupor took possession of him, in
which conscious life had no part, which plumbed the depths of a life
independent of and beyond the boundaries of normal existence. Groans
burst from his chest without in the least disturbing his sleep. His
organic disease continued its destructive work, without apparently
causing him any physical pain.

He rose early in the morning, filled with agonizing longing, disgust
and hatred. It was an inarticulate hatred, without either cause
or definite object. His bloodshot eyes rolled restlessly, his
limbs trembled, his heart worked with sickening irregularity, now
stopping altogether, now hammering with such violence that his hand
involuntarily clutched at his breast. Not a thought, not a desire!
Objects of immediate perception filled his mind so completely that it
was closed to other impressions.

He filled his pipe and lighted it. It dropped from his nerveless
fingers. His tongue mumbled something, but seemingly by force of habit
only. He sat in silence and stared at one point. He felt an intense
craving to raise the temperature of his body so that he would feel
the presence of life for at least a short while. But he had no way of
getting vodka in the daytime. He had to wait for night to attain those
blissful moments when the ground vanished from under his feet and the
four odious prison walls were replaced by a shoreless, shining void.

Arina Petrovna had not the slightest idea of how Simple Simon spent his
time. The casual glimmer of feeling which had appeared for a moment
during the conversation with the Bloodsucker vanished so precipitately
that she was unconscious of its ever having appeared. It was not a
premeditated course of action on her part, but sheer oblivion. She
completely forgot that in the counting-house, in close proximity to
her, there lived a human being bound to her by ties of blood, who
perhaps was pining away in the yearning for life. Once having cut out
a certain channel in life and filling it almost mechanically with
the same things, she thought others ought to do likewise, it never
occurring to her that the very character of the things life holds vary
among people according to a multitude of circumstances in different
combinations, and that these things may be dear to some, herself among
these some, while they are an abomination and a tyranny to others.

Therefore when the bailiff repeatedly reported that "something was the
matter" with Stepan Vladimirych, the words slipped by her ears, leaving
no impression on her mind. Indeed, she scarcely ever even replied, and
when she did, then only with the stereotyped reply:

"Oh, well, he'll be all right. I bet he'll outlive you and me. Nothing
is the matter with the shambling colt. Coughing, you say! Well, some
people cough thirty years on end and they don't feel it."

Nevertheless, one morning when they came and told her that Stepan
Vladimirych had disappeared during the night, she was aroused.
Immediately she sent out all the available men in search of him, and
herself started an investigation beginning with the room in which
Stepan had lived. The first thing that struck her was a bottle standing
on the table, with a bit of vodka in it.

"What's this?" she asked, pretending not to understand.

"Why, I guess--the young master indulged," stammered the bailiff.

"Who supplied----?" she began, flaring up. But she restrained herself,
and continued her investigation, hiding her rage.

The room was so filthy that even she, who did not know and did not
recognize any demands of comfort, began to feel awkward. The ceiling
was smutty, the wall paper in many places was hanging in tatters, the
window-sills were black with a thick layer of tobacco ashes, pillows
were lying about on the floor beslimed with viscous mud, on the bed lay
a crumpled sheet, gray with accumulated dirt. In one window the winter
frame had been taken, or, rather, torn out, and the window itself was
left half open. Apparently it was through this opening that Simple
Simon had disappeared. Arina Petrovna instinctively looked out on the
road and became more frightened. It was already the first of November,
but the autumn that year had lasted long, and the cold spells had not
yet arrived. Both the road and the field were one black sea of mud. How
had he got away? Where had he gone to? Here it occurred to her that he
had nothing on but a dressing-gown and a slipper. The other slipper had
been found under the window. And the night before it had been pouring

"It's a long, long time since I've been here," she said, inhaling
instead of air a foul mixture of vodka, tobacco and sheepskin

All day long, while the servants were searching the forest, she stood
at the window staring dully out upon the naked fields unrolled before
her eyes. So much ado on account of Simple Simon! It seemed like a
preposterous dream. She had _said_ he ought to have been shipped off to
the Vologda village. "No," that cursed Yudushka had wheedled, "leave
him here, dearest mother, at Golovliovo." Now handle him, if you
please, Yudushka.

"I wish he had lived there, out of my sight, as he pleased--Christ
be with him!" Arina Petrovna mused. "But I did my part. If he wasted
one good thing, well, I would throw him another. If he'd have wasted
the other, too, well, what could I do then? Even God can't fill a
bottomless belly. Everything would have been peaceful and quiet here.
But now--who knows what he has been up to? Go, look in the forest and
whistle for him. It would be good if he were brought home alive, but
with drunken eyes one is liable to run into a noose--take a rope, tie
it to a branch, put it round his neck, and no more Stiopka. His mother
denied herself sleep and food, and he has invented a new style--hanging
himself. There would be some excuse for him if he had had it hard
here. But goodness, what did he have to do but walk about in his
room all day and eat and drink? Another son would not have known how
to thank his mother enough. And how does this precious son repay his
mother? Goes and hangs himself. The idea!"

Arina Petrovna's surmises about Simple Simon's violent death were not
justified. Toward evening he was brought back in a peasant wagon, still
alive. He was in a semi-conscious state, all bruised and cut, his face
blue and swollen. He had been found at the Dubrovino estate, twenty
miles away.

The returned fugitive slept straight through the next twenty-four
hours. When he awoke, he stumbled to his feet and began to pace up and
down the room as was his habit, but he did not touch the pipe and made
no reply to the questions he was asked. Arina Petrovna's heart softened
so that on the spur of the moment she all but had him transferred
to the manor-house. Then she quieted down, and left him in the
counting-house, but gave orders for the room to be scoured and tidied
up, the bed linen changed, curtains hung, and so on.

The following evening, when told that Stepan Vladimirych was awake, she
had him brought to the house for tea and found it possible, in talking
to him, to inject kindliness into her voice.

"Why did you go away from your mother?" she began. "Do you know you
caused her great anxiety? It's good the news did not reach papa. It
would have been a terrible shock to the poor sick man."

But Stepan seemed altogether indifferent to his mother's kindly words.
He kept staring at the candle with his glassy eyes, as if watching the
snuff forming on the wick.

"My, my, aren't you a foolish boy?" continued Arina Petrovna, growing
kinder and kinder. "Just think what rumors will be spread about your
mother because of you. There are enough people who envy her. What will
they not say about her? They will say she did not give you food or
clothes. My, my, what a foolish boy you are!"

There was the same silence and the same motionless staring glance.

"Was your stay at mother's so bad? Thank God, you don't go hungry or
naked. What else do you want? If you are lonesome, don't fret. This
is nothing but a village, my boy. We have no entertainments or halls,
we sit in our nooks and we hardly know how to while away the time. I,
myself, would be glad to dance now and then or sing a song, but you
look out upon the road and you lose the desire to go even to church in
such weather."

Arina Petrovna paused, hoping that Simple Simon would give utterance to
at least some sounds, but he was as dumb as a stone. She was beginning
to work up a temper, but restrained herself.

"And if you were discontented with anything, if perhaps you lacked
food or linen, could you not explain it frankly to your mother? Could
you not say, 'Mamma, darling, won't you have some liver or curd-cakes
prepared for me?' Do you think your mother would have refused you? Or
if you wanted a drop of vodka, goodness, I wouldn't have begrudged you
a glass or two. To think of it, you were not ashamed to beg from a
serf, while it was difficult for you to say a word to your own mother."

But her flattering words were of no avail. Simple Simon remained
impervious to either emotion (Arina Petrovna had hoped he would kiss
her hand) or repentance. In fact, he seemed to have heard nothing.

From that time on he never spoke a single word. All day long he
walked up and down his room, his brows knit and his lips moving,
apparently never growing tired. At times he halted as if wishing to
say something, but he could not find the words. He had not lost the
capacity for thinking, but impressions left so slight a trace on his
brain that he could not hold them for any appreciable length of time.
Consequently his failure to find the necessary words did not even make
him impatient. Arina Petrovna, for her part, thought he would surely
set the house on fire.

"He does not say a word all day long," she repeated. "Still he must be
thinking of something, the blockhead! I am sure he'll set the house on
fire one of these days."

But the blockhead did not think of anything at all. He was deeply
immersed in absolute darkness, in which there was no room either for
reality or the illusory world of imagination. His brain did work, but
in a void, disconnected from either the past, the present, or the
future. It was as though he was completely wrapt up in a black cloud
and all he did was to scan it, to watch its imaginary fluctuations,
and, at times, to make a feeble attempt at resisting its sinister sway.
The whole physical and spiritual world dwindled down to that enigmatic

In December of the same year, Porfiry Vladimirych received the
following letter from his mother:

"Yesterday morning God visited us with a new ordeal. My son and your
brother, Stepan, breathed his last. The very evening before he had been
quite well and even took his supper, but in the morning he was found
dead in bed. Such is the brevity of this earthly life! And what is most
grievous to a mother's heart is that he left this world of vanity for
the realm of the unknown without the last communion.

"May this be a warning to us all. He who sets at naught the ties of
kinship must always await such an end. Failures in this life, untimely
death, and everlasting torments in the life to come, all these evils
spring from the one source. For, however learned and exalted we may
be, if we do not honor our parents, our learning and eminence will
be turned into nothingness. Such are the precepts which every one
inhabiting this world must commit to his mind. Besides, slaves should
revere their masters.

"Notwithstanding this, all honors were duly given to him who had
departed into life eternal, as becomes my son. The pall was ordered
from Moscow, and the burial ceremonies were solemnly presided over by
the Father archimandrite. And according to the Christian custom, I am
having memorial services performed daily. I mourn the loss of my son,
but I do not complain, nor do I advise you, my children, to do so. For
who knows? We may be mourning and complaining here while his soul may
be rejoicing in Heaven."




A hot midday in July; the Dubrovino manor-house all deserted. Workers
and idlers alike resting in the shade. Under the canopy of a huge
willow-tree in the front yard the dogs, too, were lying stretched out,
and you could hear the sound of their jaws when they drowsily snapped
at the flies. Even the trees drooped motionless, as if exhausted. All
the windows in the manor-house and the servants' quarters were flung
wide open. The heat seemed to surge in sweltering waves and the soil
covered with short, singed grass was ablaze. The atmosphere was a
blinding haze touched into gold, so that one could scarcely distinguish
things in the distance. The manor-house, once painted gray and now
faded into white, the small flower garden in front of the house, the
birch grove, separated from the farm by the road, the pond, the village
and the corn field, which touched the outskirts of the village, all
were immersed in the dazzling torrent. The fragrance of blossoming
linden trees mingled with the noxious emanations of the cattle shed.
There was not a breath of air, not a sound. Only from the kitchen
there came the grating of knives being sharpened, which foretold the
inevitable hash and beef cutlets for dinner.

Inside the house reigned noiseless confusion. An old lady and two young
girls were sitting in the dining room, forgetful of their crocheting,
which lay on the table. They were waiting with intense anxiety. In
the maids' room two women were busied preparing mustard plasters
and poultices, and the rhythmic tinkling of the spoons pierced the
silence like the chirping of a cricket. Barefooted girls were stealing
silently along the corridor, scurrying back and forth from the entresol
to the maids' room. At times a voice was heard from upstairs: "What
about the mustard plasters? Are you asleep there?" And a girl would
dash out of the maids' room. At last heavy footsteps sounded on the
staircase, and the regimental surgeon entered the dining room, a tall,
broad-shouldered man, with firm, ruddy cheeks, the picture of health.
His voice was sonorous, his gait steady, his eyes clear, gay and
frank, his lips full and fresh. In spite of his fifty years he was a
thoroughly fast liver and expected to see many years pass before he
would give up drinking and carousing. He wore a showy summer suit, and
his spotless piqué coat was trimmed with white buttons bearing arms. On
entering he made a clicking sound with his lips and tongue.

"Girls!" he shouted merrily, standing on the threshold. "Bring us some
vodka and something to eat."

"Well, doctor, how is he?" the old lady asked, her voice full of

"The Lord's mercy is infinite, Arina Petrovna," answered the physician.

"What do you mean? Then he----"

"Just so. He will last another two or three days, and then--good-bye!"
The doctor made an expressive gesture with his hand and hummed: "Head
over heels, head over heels he will fall."

"How's that? Doctors treated him--and now all of a sudden----"

"What doctors?"

"The _zemstvo_ doctor and one from the town used to come here."

"Fine doctors! If they'd given him a good bleeding, they'd have saved

"So nothing at all can be done?"

"Well, I said, 'The Lord's mercy is great,' and I can add nothing to

"But perhaps it will work?"

"What will work?"

"I mean--the mustard plasters."


A woman in a black dress and black shawl brought in a tray holding a
decanter of vodka, a dish of sausages and a dish of caviar. The doctor
helped himself to the vodka, held the glass to the light and smacked
his tongue.

"Your health, mother," he said to the old lady, and gulped the liquid.

"Drink in good health, my dear sir."

"This is the cause of Pavel Vladimirych dying in the prime of his life,
this vodka," said the doctor, grimacing comfortably and spearing a
piece of sausage with his fork.

"Yes, it's the ruin of many a man."

"That's because not everyone can stand it. But I can, and I shall have
another glass. Your health, madam."

"Drink, drink. Nothing can happen to you."

"Nothing. My lungs and kidneys and liver and spleen are in excellent
condition. By the way," he turned to the woman in black who stood at
the door, listening to the conversation, "What will you have for dinner

"Hash and beef cutlets and chicken for roast," she answered, smiling
somewhat sourly.

"Have you any smoked fish?"

"We have, sir. We have white sturgeon and stellated sturgeon, plenty of

"Then have a cold soup with sturgeon for our dinner, and pick out a fat
bit of sturgeon, you hear me? What is your name? Ulita?"

"Yes, sir, people call me Ulita."

"Well, then, hurry up, friend Ulita, hurry up."

Ulita left the room, and for a while oppressive silence reigned.
Then Arina Petrovna rose from her seat and made sure Ulita was not

"Andrey Osipych, have you spoken to him yet about the orphans?" she
asked the doctor.

"Yes, I did."


"There was no change. 'When I get well' he kept on saying, 'I will make
my will and write the notes.'"

Silence, heavier than before, filled the room. The girls took the
crocheting from the table, and their trembling hands worked one row
after the other. Arina Petrovna heaved a deep sigh of dejection. The
doctor paced up and down the room and whistled, "Head over heels, head
over heels."

"But did you try to drive the matter home to him, doctor?"

"Well, I said to him: 'You'll be a scoundrel if you don't make a
definite provision for the orphans.' Could I make it clearer? Yes,
mother, you certainly slipped up. If you had called me in a month ago,
I would have given him a good bleeding and I would have seen to it that
he made his will. But now everything will go to Yudushka, the lawful
heir. It certainly will."

"Oh, grandmother, what will become of us?" said the older of the two
girls, plaintively and almost in tears. "What is uncle doing to us?"

The girls were Anninka and Lubinka, the daughters of Anna Vladimirovna
Ulanova, to whom Arina Petrovna had once "thrown a bone."

"I don't know, dear, I don't know. I don't even know what will become
of me. Today I am here, and tomorrow God knows where I'll be. Maybe
I'll have to sleep in a shed or at a peasant's."

"Goodness, isn't uncle silly!" exclaimed the younger girl.

"I wish, young lady, you would keep your mouth shut," remarked the
doctor. Turning to Arina Petrovna, he suggested, "Why not try to talk
to him yourself, mother?"

"No, no. There's no use my talking to him. He doesn't even want to see
me. The other day I stuck my nose into his room, and he snarled, 'Have
you come to see me off to the other world?'"

"I think Ulita is back of it all. She incites him against you."

"She surely does, nobody but she. And then she reports everything to
Porfiry the Bloodsucker. People say he keeps a pair of horses harnessed
all day waiting for the beginning of the agony. And just imagine, the
other day Ulita went so far as to take an inventory of the furniture,
wardrobe, and dishes, so that nothing should be lost, as she said. We
are the thieves, just imagine it."

"Why don't you treat her more severely? Head over heels, you know, head
over heels."

But fate decreed that the doctor should not develop his thought. A
girl, all out of breath, dashed into the room and exclaimed in a fright:

"The master! The master wants the doctor."


Not more than ten years had passed since the death of Simple Simon,
but the condition of the various members of the Golovliov family had
so completely changed that not a trace remained of those artificial
ties which had given the family the air of an impregnable stronghold.
This stronghold, erected by the tireless hands of Arina Petrovna, had
crumbled away, but so imperceptibly that she herself was ignorant of
how it had happened, was even involved in the destruction, the leading
spirit in which, of course, had been Porfiry the Bloodsucker.

From an irresponsible, hot-tempered ruler over the Golovliovo estate,
Arina Petrovna had descended into a mere hanger-on in the home of
her younger son, a useless hanger-on, with no voice in the household
management. Her head was bowed, her back bent, the fire in her eyes had
died out, her gait was languid, the vivacity of her movements was gone.
She had taken to knitting to occupy her idleness, but her mind was
always wandering somewhere away from her needles, and the knitting was
a failure. She would knit for a few moments, then her hands would drop
of themselves, her head would fall on the back of her chair, and she
would begin to go over bygones in her mind, until she got drowsy and
dropped off into a senile slumber. Or else she would get up and begin
to pace the rooms, always searching for something; always looking into
corners, like a good housewife hunting for her keys, which she usually
carries about with her and has now misplaced somehow.

The first blow to her authority was not so much the abolition of
serfdom as the preparations preceding it. At first, there were simply
rumors, then came the meetings of landowners and addresses, next
followed provincial committees, and revising commissions. All these
things exhausted and confused her. Arina Petrovna's imagination,
active enough without additional stimuli, conceived numerous absurd
situations. "How am I going to call Agashka?" she'd think. "Perhaps
I'll have to tack a 'Miss' before her name." Or she would see herself
walking about in the empty rooms while the servants were taking it
easy in their quarters and were gorging themselves with all kinds of
food; and when they got tired of gorging she saw them throwing the
remnants under the table. Then she would find herself surprising Yulka
and Feshka in the cellar, devouring everything in sight, like beasts,
and she would itch to reprimand them, but would have to check herself
with the thought, "How dare one say anything to them, now that they are
free? Why one can't even appeal to the court against them!"

However insignificant such trifles may be, a whole fantastic world is
built up of them, which holds you tight and completely paralyzes your
activity. Arina Petrovna somehow suddenly let the reins of government
slip out of her grasp, and for a space of two years did nothing from
morning until night except complain.

"One or the other," she was fond of saying, "gains all or loses all.
But these meetings and addresses and commissions, they're nothing but

At that time, just when the committees were in full swing, Vladimir
Mikhailych died. On his deathbed he repudiated Barkov and his
teachings, and died appeased and reconciled to the world. His last
words were:

"I thank my God that He did not suffer me to come into His presence on
an equal footing with the serfs."

These words made a deep impression on his wife's receptive soul, so
that both his death and her fantastic notions about the future laid a
coloring of gloom and despair on the atmosphere of the house. It seemed
as if both the old manor and its inhabitants were getting ready for

From a few complaints that found their way into the letters of Arina
Petrovna, Porfiry Vladimirych's amazingly keen perceptions sensed the
confusion that possessed her mind. Not that Arina Petrovna actually
sermonized and moralized in her letters, but above all, she trusted
in God's help, "which in these faithless times does not abandon even
slaves, far less those who because of their means were the surest prop
and ornament of the church." Yudushka instinctively understood that if
mother dear began to put her hope in God, then there was some flaw in
the fabric of her existence. And he took advantage of the flaw with his
peculiar, subtle skill.

Almost at the very end of the preliminaries to the emancipation, he
visited Golovliovo quite unexpectedly and found Arina Petrovna sunk
into despondency, almost to a point of prostration.

"Well, what news? What do they say in St. Petersburg?" was her first
question, after mutual greetings had been exchanged.

Porfiry cast down his eyes and sat speechless.

"No, you must consider my circumstances," continued Arina Petrovna,
gathering from her son's silence that good news was not to be expected.
"Right now in the maids' room I have about thirty of these creatures.
What shall I do with them? If they remain in my care, what am I going
to feed them on? At present I have a little cabbage, a little potatoes,
some bread, enough of everything; and we manage somehow to make both
ends meet. If the potatoes give out, I order cabbage to be cooked; if
there is no cabbage, cucumbers have to do. But now, if I have to run to
market for everything and pay for everything, and buy and serve, how am
I ever to provide for such a crowd?"

Porfiry gazed into the eyes of his "mother dear" and smiled bitterly as
a sign of sympathy.

"And then, if the government is going to turn them loose, give them
absolute leeway--well, then, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know
what it will come to."

Porfiry smiled as if there were something very funny in "what it was
coming to."

"Don't you laugh. It is a serious matter, so serious that if only the
Lord grants them a little more reason, only then--Here's my case, for
instance. I am by no means an old rag, am I? I must have my bread and
butter, too, mustn't I? How am I to go about getting it? Think of the
bringing-up we received. The only thing we know is how to dance and
sing and receive guests. Then how am I going to get along without those
wretches, I'd like to know. I can't serve meals or cook. I can't do a

"God is merciful, mother dear."

"He used to be, but not now. When we were good, the Almighty was
merciful to us; when we became wicked, well, we mustn't complain. I'm
beginning to think that the best thing for me is to throw everything to
the dogs. Really, I'll build myself a little hut right next to father's
grave, and that's where I'll spend the rest of my days."

Porfiry Vladimirych pricked up his ears. His mouth began to water.

"And who will manage the estates?" he questioned, carefully throwing
his bait, as it were.

"Why, you boys will have to manage them yourselves. Thank God, I have
provided plenty. I ought not carry the whole burden alone."

Arina Petrovna suddenly stopped and raised her head. Her eyes fell
on Yudushka's simpering, drivelling, oily face, all suffused with a
carnivorous inner glow.

"You seem to be getting ready to bury me," remarked Arina Petrovna
drily. "Isn't it a bit too early, darling? Look out, don't make a

Thus the matter ended in nothing definite. But there are discussions
which, once begun, never really come to an end. A few hours later Arina
Petrovna renewed the conversation.

"I'll leave for the Trinity Monastery," she dreamed aloud. "I'll divide
up the estate, buy a little cottage on the grounds and settle there."

But Porfiry Vladimirych, taught by past experience, remained silent
this time.

"Last year, while your deceased father was still alive," continued
Arina Petrovna, "I was sitting alone in my bedroom and suddenly I
thought I heard someone whispering in my ear: 'Go to the Trinity
Monastery. Go to the Trinity.' Three times, mind you. I turned
about--there was nobody in the room. Well, then, I thought that must
have been a sign for me. 'Well,' I said, 'if God is pleased with my
faith, I am ready.' No sooner had I said that than suddenly the room
was filled with such a wonderful fragrance. Of course I immediately
ordered my things packed and by evening I was on my way."

Tears rose in Arina Petrovna's eyes. Yudushka took advantage of this to
kiss his mother's hand, and even made free to put his arm around her

"Now you are a good girl," he said. "Ah, how good it is, darling, when
one lives in peace with God. You come to God with a prayer, and the
Lord meets you with help. That's how it is, mother dear."

"Wait a minute, I haven't finished. Next day, in the evening I arrived
at the monastery and went straight to the saint's chapel. Evening
service was being held, the choir was singing, candles were burning,
fragrance was wafted from the censers. I simply did not know where I
was--on earth or in Heaven. I went from the service to Father Yon,
and I said to him: 'Well, your Reverence, it was mighty good today at
church.' 'No wonder, madam,' he said, 'Father Avvakum had a vision
today at the evening service. He had just raised his arms to begin
praying when he beheld a light in the cupola and a dove looking down at
him.' Well, from that time, I came to the conclusion, sooner or later
my last days will be spent at Trinity Monastery."

"And who will take care of us? Who will have your children's welfare at
heart? Ah, mamma, mamma!"

"Well, you're not babies any longer, and you'll be able to look after
yourselves. As for me, I'll go to the monastery with Annushka's orphans
and live under the saint's wing. Perhaps the desire will awaken in
one of the girls to serve God. Well, then, the convent is right at
hand. I'll buy myself a little house, plant a little garden, potatoes,
cabbage--there'll be enough of everything for me."

Such idle talk continued for several days, Arina Petrovna making the
boldest plans, withdrawing them and remaking them, and then finally
carrying the matter so far that she could not withdraw again. Within
half a year after Yudushka's visit this was the situation: Arina
Petrovna not at the monastery, nor in a little house built near her
husband's grave. Instead of that she had divided the estate, leaving
only the capital for herself. Porfiry Vladimirych received the better
part and Pavel Vladimirych the worse part.


Arina Petrovna remained at Golovliovo. This gave rise, of course, to
a domestic comedy. Yudushka shed tears and succeeded in inducing his
mother dear to manage his household without accountability to him, to
receive the income and to use it at her discretion. "And, dearest,
whatever portion of the income you give me," he added, "I shall be
satisfied with it." Pavel, on the other hand, thanked his mother coldly
("as if he wanted to bite me," were her words), immediately retired
from service ("just so, without his mother's blessing, like a madman,
he escaped to freedom") and settled down at Dubrovino.

From that time on, Arina Petrovna's judgment became somewhat dimmed.
The image of Porfishka the Bloodsucker, whom she had once sized up so
shrewdly, now went, as it were, behind a fog. She seemed no longer to
understand anything except that, despite the division of the estate and
the emancipation of the peasants, she still lived at Golovliovo and
still owed no account to anyone. Here, at her side, lived another son,
but what a difference! While Porfisha had entrusted both himself and
his household into his mother's care, Pavel not only never consulted
her about anything, but even spoke to her through his teeth.

And as her mind became more clouded, her heart warmed more to her
gentle son. Porfiry Vladimirych asked nothing of her. She herself
anticipated his desires. Little by little she became dissatisfied with
the shape of the Golovliovo property. At such and such a place, a
stranger's land jutted into it--it would be well to buy up that piece
of land. In such and such a place it would be fine to have a separate
farm, but there was too little meadow. And here, right next to it,
was a meadow for sale, ah, a fine bit of meadow. Arina Petrovna's
enthusiasm was that of a mother and a woman of affairs who wants her
affectionate son to view her capabilities in all their glory. But
Porfiry Vladimirych withdrew into his shell, impervious to all her
suggestions. In vain did Arina Petrovna tempt him with bargains. To all
her propositions for acquiring a piece of woodland or meadowland, he
invariably answered: "Dear mother, I am perfectly satisfied with what
you granted me in your kindness."

These answers only spurred Arina Petrovna on. Carried away by her
household zeal, and also by indignation against the "scoundrel
Pavlusha," who lived beside her but refused to have anything to do
with her, Arina Petrovna lost sight of her actual relationship to the
estate. Her former fever for acquiring possessed her with renewed
strength, though now it was no longer aggrandizement for her own sake
but for the sake of her beloved son. The Golovliovo estate grew,
rounded out, and flourished.

And at the very moment when Arina Petrovna's capital had dwindled
to a point at which it was almost impossible for her to live on the
interest, Yudushka sent her a most respectful letter along with an
enormous package of blank forms, which were to guide her in the future
in the making out of the annual balance sheet. Beside the principal
items of the household expenses were listed raspberries, gooseberries,
mushrooms, etc. There was a special account for every item, on the
following plan:

Number of raspberry bushes, year 18--, - - - - - - - - pounds
"      "  bushes planted this year - - - - - - - - - -  "
Quantity of berries picked - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  "
   Out of this total you, mother dear, used for
     yourself - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - "
Preserves used, or to be used, in the household of
   His Excellency Porfiry Vladimirych Golovliov - - - - "
Given to boy in reward for good behavior - - - - - - -  "
Sold to the common people for a tidbit - - - - - - - -  "
Decayed because of absence of buyers and for
other reasons - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - "
  NOTE.--In case the crop in the year in which the account is
taken is less than that of the previous year, the reasons therefor,
like drought, rain, hail, and so forth, should be indicated.

Arina Petrovna fairly groaned. First of all, she was shocked at
Yudushka's avarice. She had never heard of berries forming an item in
the account of an estate, and he seemed to emphasize that item most.
Secondly, she fully realized that the blanks were a constitution
limiting her power hitherto autocratic.

After a long controversial correspondence between them, Arina Petrovna,
humiliated and indignant, moved to Dubrovino, and Porfiry Vladimirych
subsequently retired from office and settled at Golovliovo.

From that time on the old woman spent many wretched days in enforced
idleness. Pavel Vladimirych was particularly offensive in his treatment
of his mother. He received her in what he thought was quite a decent
manner, that is, he promised to provide food and drink for both her
and his orphan nieces, on two conditions, however, first, they were
not to enter the entresol which he occupied; secondly, they were not
to interfere in the management of the household. The second condition
was particularly galling to Arina Petrovna. The management of the house
was in the hands of the housekeeper Ulita, a viperous woman who had
been found in secret communication with Yudushka and Kirushka, the late
master's butler, a man who knew nothing about farming and whom Pavel
Vladimirych almost feared. Both of them stole relentlessly. How often
did Arina Petrovna's heart ache when she saw the house being ransacked;
how she did long to warn her son and open his eyes to the theft of
tea, sugar, butter! Loads of things were wasted, and Ulita, not in the
least shamed by the presence of the old mistress, repeatedly hid whole
handfuls of sugar in her pocket right before her eyes. Arina Petrovna
saw it all, but was forced to remain a silent witness to the plunder.
No sooner would she open her mouth to make some remark, than Pavel
Vladimirych would instantly check her, saying:

"Mother, there should be only one person to manage a house. I'm not
alone in that opinion, everybody says so. I know my orders are foolish.
Never mind, let them be foolish. Your orders are wise. Let them be
wise. Wise you are, very wise, still Yudushka left you without house or
home, to shift for yourself."

The last straw was the awful discovery that Pavel Vladimirych drank.
The craving had come from the loneliness of life in the country and had
crept upon him stealthily, until finally it possessed him completely,
and he was a doomed man. When his mother first came to live in the
house, he seemed to have some scruples about drinking. He would come
down from the entresol and talk to his mother quite often. She noticed
that his speech was strangely incoherent but for a long time attributed
it to his stupidity. She did not enjoy his visits. The chats with him
oppressed her extremely. In fact he always seemed to be grumbling
foolishly. Either there had been a drought for many weeks, or an
overwhelming downpour of rain, or tree beetles had overrun the garden
and ruined the trees, or moles had made their appearance and dug up
the whole field. All this afforded an endless source for grumbling. He
would come down from the entresol, seat himself opposite his mother and

"There are clouds all around. Is Golovliovo far from here? The
Bloodsucker had a shower yesterday and we don't get a single drop. The
clouds wander about, all around here. If there were only a drop of rain
for us!"

Or else he would say:

"Have you ever seen such a flood? The rye has just begun to flower and
it comes pouring down. Half of the hay is rotten already, and the rain
still spouts and spurts. Is Golovliovo far from here? The Bloodsucker
has long since gathered in his crops, and here we're stuck. We'll have
to feed our cattle on rotten hay this winter."

Arina Petrovna listened in silence to his stupid complaints, but at
times her patience gave way and she said:

"Well, keep on sitting there with your arms folded."

Instantly Pavel Vladimirych would flare up.

"What would you advise me to do? Transfer the rain to Golovliovo?"

"I'm not talking about the rain, but in general."

"No 'in general,' please. Why don't you tell me straight out what you
think I should do? Shall I change the climate? There's Golovliovo. When
Golovliovo needs rain, it rains. When Golovliovo doesn't need rain,
then it doesn't rain. And everything grows there, while here, the very
opposite. Well, we'll see what you'll have to say when there isn't
anything to eat."

"Then such will be the Lord's will."

"All right, then such will be the Lord's will. But you say 'in general'
as if that were an explanation."

Sometimes Pavel even found his property a burden.

"Why in the world did I get the Dubrovino estate?" he would complain.
"What good is it?"

"What's the matter with Dubrovino? The soil is good, there's plenty of
everything. What's got into your head of a sudden?"

"This, that nowadays there's no use having any estate. Money, that's
the thing. You take your money, put it in your pocket and off you go.
But real estate----"

"What sort of an age have we come to when there's no use owning real

"Yes, this is a peculiar age. You don't read the newspapers, but I do.
Nowadays the lawyers are everywhere--you can imagine the rest. If a
lawyer finds out that you have real estate, then he begins to circle
around you."

"Well, how is he going to get at you when you have the proper deeds to
the property?"

"Deeds or no deeds, they'll get you. Porfiry the Bloodsucker may hire a
lawyer and serve me with summons after summons."

"What are you talking about! We're not living in a lawless country."

"That's just why they serve summonses on you. If the country were
lawless, they would take it away without a summons. There's my friend
Gorlopiatov, for instance. His uncle died and he, fool that he was,
up and accepted the inheritance. The inheritance proved worthless,
but the debts figured up to the thousands, the bills of exchange were
all false. Now they've been suing him for three years on end. First,
they took his uncle's estate. Then they even sold his own property at
auction. That's what real estate is."

"Can there possibly be a law like that?"

"If there were no such law, they couldn't have sold it. There's a law
for everything. A man without a conscience finds a law to back him in
everything. But there are no laws for a man with a conscience. Try and
look for them in the books."

Arina Petrovna always let Pavel have his way in these controversies.
Many a time she could hardly refrain from shouting, "Out of my sight,
you scoundrel." But she would think it over and keep silent. Sometimes
she would only murmur to herself:

"Goodness, whom do these monsters take after? One is a bloodsucker, the
other is a lunatic. What did I hoard and save for? For what did I deny
myself sleep and food? For whom did I do all that?"

The more completely drink took possession of Pavel Vladimirych, the
more fantastic and annoying his conversations became. Finally Arina
Petrovna noticed there was something wrong. A whole flask of vodka
would be put away in the dining-room cupboard in the morning, and by
dinner time there wouldn't be a drop left. Or she would be sitting in
the parlor and would hear a mysterious creaking in the dining-room
near the cupboard. She would call out, "Who's there?" and would hear
footsteps quickly but carefully withdrawing toward the entresol.

"Goodness, can it be that he drinks?" she once asked Ulita.

"I shouldn't deny it," answered the latter, with a vicious grin.

When Pavel Vladimirych saw that his mother had discovered the truth, he
lost all restraint. One morning Arina Petrovna found the cupboard had
disappeared from the dining-room, and when she asked where it had gone
to, Ulita told her she had been ordered to carry it to the entresol,
because it would be more comfortable for the master to drink there.

In the entresol, the decanters of vodka followed one after the other
with amazing rapidity. Shut up alone by himself, Pavel Vladimirych
began to hate human society. He created a peculiar fantastic reality
for himself, spinning out a long-winded nonsensical romance, in
which the main heroes were himself and the Bloodsucker. He was not
fully conscious of how, deeply rooted his hatred for Porfiry was.
It gnawed at his bones and entrails every minute of his life. The
loathed image of his brother stood lifelike before his eyes, and
Yudushka's lachrymose, hypocritical twaddle rang in his ears. In his
talk there lurked a cold, almost abstract hatred of every living thing
that did not conform to the traditional code laid down by hypocrisy.
Pavel Vladimirych drank and recalled memories, all the insults and
humiliations he had had to suffer because of Yudushka's claims to
supremacy in the house; the division of the estate in particular; how
he had calculated every kopek and compared every scrap of land. Oh,
how he detested him! Entire dramas were enacted in his imagination,
heated by alcohol. In these dramas he avenged every offense that he had
sustained, and not Yudushka but he himself was always the aggressor. He
saw himself the winner of two hundred thousand, and informed Yudushka
of his good luck in a long scene, making his brother's face writhe with
envy. At other times he imagined his grandfather had died and left a
million to him, while nothing at all to Porfiry. He also discovered a
means of becoming invisible and when unseen he played wicked tricks on
Porfiry to make him groan in agony. His genius for inventing tricks
was inexhaustible, and for a long time his idiotic laughter would ring
through the entresol, much to the delight of Ulita, who would hurry to
inform Porfiry Vladimirych of his brother's doings.

He detested Yudushka and at the same time had a superstitious fear of
him. He imagined his eyes discharged a venom of magic effect, that
his voice crept, snake-like, into the soul and paralyzed the will. He
absolutely refused to meet him, and when the Bloodsucker occasionally
visited Dubrovino to kiss the hand of his mother dear, Pavel
Vladimirych would lock himself into the entresol and remain imprisoned
there until he left.

So the days passed until Pavel Vladimirych found himself face to face
with a deadly malady.


The doctor stayed at the house overnight merely for the sake of form,
and departed for the city early the next day. On taking leave he said
frankly that the patient had no more than two days to live, and it
was already too late to talk about any "arrangements" since Pavel
Vladimirych could not even sign his name properly.

"He'll sign the document wrong and then you will have a lawsuit on your
hands," he added. "Of course, Yudushka respects his mother very highly,
but, at that, he'll commence proceedings to prove fraud, and should
'mother dear' be sent to distant regions, the only thing he'll do is to
have a mass said for the welfare of the travellers."

All morning Arina Petrovna walked about as if in a dream. She tried to
say her prayers. Perhaps God would suggest something, but prayers would
not enter her head. Even her tongue refused to obey. There was utter
confusion in her mind. Fragments of prayers mingled with incoherent
thoughts and vague impressions.

Finally she sat down and sobbed. The tears flowed from her dull eyes
over her aged shrivelled cheeks, lingered in the hollows of her
wrinkles, and dribbled down on the greasy collar of her old calico
waist. Her tears spoke of bitterness, despair, and feeble, but stubborn
resistance. Her age, her senile ailments, and the hopelessness of
the situation, all seemed to point to death as the only way out. At
the same time memories of the past intervened, memories of a life of
power, prosperity and unrestrained freedom, and these reminiscences
plunged their sting into her soul, dragging her down to earth. "To
die!" passed through her mind, but the thought was instantly supplanted
by a dogged desire to live. She recalled neither Yudushka nor her dying
son. It was as if both had ceased to exist for her. She thought of no
one, was indignant at no one, accused no one, even forgot whether she
had any capital or no and whether it was sufficient to provide for her
old age. A deadly anguish seized her entire being. Her tears had come
from a deep source. Drop by drop they had been accumulating since the
moment when she left Golovliovo and settled at Dubrovino. She was quite
prepared for everything that awaited her. She had expected and foreseen
everything, but somehow it had never come to her with such vividness
that her fears would be realized. And now this very end had arrived,
an end full of anguish and hopeless lonesomeness. All her life long
she had been busy building up, she had worn herself to the bone for
something, and now she felt as if she had wasted her life on a phantom.
All her life the word "family" had never left her lips. In the name
of "family" she had punished some and rewarded others. In the name of
"family" she had subjected herself to privations, torments, she had
crippled her whole life; and suddenly she discovered that "family" was
exactly what she did not have.

"Good Lord! Can it possibly be the same everywhere?" was the thought
that kept revolving in her mind.

She sat with her head resting on her hand and her face soaked with
tears turned to the rising sun, as if to bid it, "Look!" She neither
groaned nor cursed. She simply sobbed as if choked by her tears. At the
same time the thought seared her soul, "There is no one! No one! No

But now her eyes were drained of tears. She washed her face and
wandered without purpose into the dining-room. Here she was assailed by
the girls with new complaints which seemed at this time particularly

"What is going to come of it, grandma? Is it possible that we shall be
left just so, without anything?" grumbled Anninka.

"How silly uncle is," Lubinka chimed in.

About midday, Arina Petrovna decided to go to her dying son. Stepping
softly she climbed the stairs and groped in the dark till she found the
door leading into the rooms. The entresol was buried in deepest gloom.
The windows were darkened by green shades, through which the light
could scarcely filter. A sickening mixture of odors pervaded the room,
which had not been ventilated for a long while. There was the smell of
berries, plaster, oil from the image-lamp, and those peculiar odors
which bespeak the presence of sickness and death. There were only two
rooms. In the first one sat Ulita, cleaning berries. The flies swarmed
about the heap of gooseberries and impudently attacked her nose and
lips, and she would keep driving them off in exasperation. Through the
half-closed door of the adjoining room came the sound of incessant
coughing which every now and then ended in painful expectoration. Arina
Petrovna stopped in an uncertain pose, searching the gloom and waiting
for the course of action that Ulita would take in view of her arrival.
But Ulita never moved an eyelash, entirely confident that every attempt
to influence the sick man would be fruitless. Her lips merely twitched
in resentment, and Arina Petrovna heard the word "hag" pronounced under
her breath.

"You had better go down, my dear," said Arina Petrovna, turning to

"Where did you get that idea from?" snapped the latter.

"I have to talk to Pavel Vladimirych. Go down."

"Excuse me, madam, how can I leave the master? What if something should
happen? There's no one to serve him and attend to him."

"What's the matter?" a hollow voice called from the bedroom.

"Order Ulita to go downstairs, my friend. I have matters to talk over
with you."

This time Arina Petrovna pressed her point so persistently that she was
victorious. She crossed herself and entered the room. The patient's
bed stood near the inner wall far from the window. He lay on his back,
covered with a white blanket, smoking a cigarette, though almost half
unconscious. Notwithstanding the smoke, the flies pestered him with
peculiar persistence, so that he had continually to pass his hand over
his face. His arms were so weak, so bare of muscle, that they showed
the bones, of almost equal thickness from wrist to shoulder, in clear
outline. His head nestled despondently in the pillow. His whole body
and face burned in a dry fever. His large round eyes were sunken and
gazed aimlessly about, as if looking for something. The lines of his
nose had grown longer and sharper. His mouth was half open. He had
stopped coughing, but he breathed with such difficulty that it seemed
as if all his vital energy were concentrated in his chest.

"Well, how do you feel to-day?" asked Arina Petrovna, sinking into the
armchair at his feet.

"So--so--to-morrow--that is, to-day--when was the doctor here?"

"He was here to-day."

"Well, then, to-morrow----"

The patient fumbled as if struggling to recall a word.

"You'll be able to get up?" prompted Arina Petrovna. "God grant it, my
friend, God grant it."

They both remained silent for a moment. Arina Petrovna found it very
difficult to open a conversation when she was face to face with Pavel

"Yudushka--is he alive?" finally asked the sick man himself.

"Nothing is the matter with him. He lives and prospers."

"I bet he is thinking, 'Now brother Pavel is going to die--and with
God's help the estate will come to me.'"

"We'll all die, some day--and after every one of us, the estates will
go to the lawful heirs."

"Only not to the Bloodsucker! I'll throw it to the dogs, but he shan't
have it."

The situation was turning out excellently. Pavel Vladimirych himself
was leading the conversation. Arina Petrovna did not fail to take
advantage of the opportunity.

"You ought to consider that, my friend," she said, as if by the way,
not looking at her son and examining the color of her hands as if they
were the main object of her interest.

"What do you mean by 'that'?"

"Well, I mean, if you don't wish that the estate should go to your

The patient was silent. Only his eyes widened unnaturally and his face
flushed more and more.

"And also, my friend, you ought to take into consideration the fact
that you have orphaned nieces--and what sort of capital have they? Then
there is your mother," continued Arina Petrovna.

"You've managed to give everything away to Yudushka!"

"Whatever may have happened, I know that I myself am to blame. But it
wasn't such a crime after all. I thought 'he is my son.' At any rate,
it isn't kind of you to remember that against your mother."

Silence followed.

"Well, why don't you say something?"

"And how soon do you expect to bury me?"

"Oh, don't talk like that. All Christians----Everybody doesn't die
right away, still in general----"

"There you go--'in general!' Always your 'in general!' You think I
don't see."

"See what, my boy?"

"I see you take me for a fool. Well, if I am a fool, let me remain a
fool. Why do you come to a fool? Don't come, don't worry about me."

"I'm not worrying. But in general there is a term set to everybody's

"Then wait for my term."

Arina Petrovna lowered her head and meditated. She saw clearly that her
case was almost a failure, but she was so tortured that nothing could
convince her of the fruitlessness of further attempts to influence her

"I don't know why you hate me," she declared finally.

"Not at all--on the contrary I--not at all. In fact I--why, the
idea--you brought us all up--so impartially."

He spoke in jerks and gasps. A broken yet triumphant laugh made its way
into his voice. His eyes sparkled. His shoulders and legs quivered.

"Perhaps I have really sinned against you, then for Christ's sake
forgive me."

Arina Petrovna rose and bowed till her hand touched the floor. Pavel
Vladimirych shut his eyes without replying.

"Suppose we let the question of the estate alone. You couldn't make
any arrangement in your present condition. Porfiry is the lawful heir.
Well, let the real estate go to him. But what about your personal
property and capital?" Arina Petrovna ventured to state her point

Pavel Vladimirych shuddered, but remained silent. It is very possible
that at the word "capital" he gave no thought whatsoever to his
mother's insinuations, but simply mused: "September is here already. I
have to collect the interest."

"If you think I desire your death, you're very much mistaken, my
child. If you would only live I should not need to complain in my old
age. What have I to grumble about? I have food and shelter here, and
should I want a little additional pleasure, I can get it. I merely
wish to call your attention to the fact that there is a custom among
Christians, according to which, in expectation of the life to come,

Arina Petrovna paused, searching for a suitable word.

"We provide for the future of those related to us," she concluded,
looking out of the window.

Pavel Vladimirych lay motionless, coughing softly. He did not betray
by a single movement whether or not he was listening. Apparently his
mother was boring him.

"The capital may go from hand to hand during life," said Arina
Petrovna, as though passing a trivial remark and resuming the
inspection of her hands.

The patient shuddered slightly, but Arina Petrovna did not notice it
and continued:

"The law, my friend, expressly permits the free transfer of capital.
Money is something one acquires. Yesterday you had it. To-day it is
gone. And nobody can call you to account for it. You can give it to
whomever you choose."

Pavel Vladimirych suddenly laughed viciously.

"You probably remember the story about Polochkin," he hissed. "He gave
his capital to his wife 'from hand to hand' and she ran off with her

"You may rest assured, my child, I have no lover."

"Then you'll run off without a lover--with the money."

"How well you understand my motives!"

"I don't understand you at all. You gave me the reputation of a fool.
Well, I _am_ a fool. Let me be a fool. What wonderful tricks they have
invented--to pass my money from hand to hand! And where do I come in? I
suppose you'll order me to go to a monastery for my salvation, and from
there watch how you manage my money?"

He shot these words out in a volley, in a voice full of hatred and
indignation. Then he broke down completely and burst into a fit of
coughing that lasted a full quarter of an hour. It was amazing to see
how much strength that wretched human skeleton contained. Finally he
caught his breath and closed his eyes.

Arina Petrovna looked about in bewilderment. Until that moment she
could not believe it, somehow, but now she was fully convinced that
every attempt to persuade the dying man would only serve to hasten the
day of Yudushka's triumph. Yudushka kept dancing before her eyes. She
saw him walking behind the hearse, giving his brother the last Judas
kiss and squeezing out two foul tears. Then she had a picture of the
coffin being lowered into the grave and Yudushka exclaiming, "Farewell,
brother!" his lips twitching and his eyes rolling upward. She heard
his attempt to add a note of grief to his voice, and afterwards say,
turning to Ulita: "The kutya,[A] the kutya, don't forget to take the
kutya into the house. And be sure to put on a clean table cloth. We
must honor brother's memory in the house, too." Next she saw him
presiding over the funeral feast, chatting incessantly with the
reverend father about the virtues of the deceased. She heard him say,
"Ah, brother, brother, you didn't wish to live with us," as he rose
from the table, stretching out his hand, palm upward, to receive the
father's blessing. And lastly she saw Yudushka walking about the house
with the air of a master, taking the inventory of all the effects and
in doubtful cases casting suspicious glances at mother.

All these inevitable scenes of the future floated before Arina
Petrovna's mental vision. In her ears rang Yudushka's shrill, unctuous
voice as he said: "Do you remember, mother dear, the little golden
shirt studs that brother had? They were so pretty. He used to wear them
on holidays. I simply can't imagine where those studs could have gone

[Footnote A: A gruel made of rice or wheat or barley, boiled with
raisins and mead. It is eaten after the mass for the dead and, in the
South, on Christmas Eve.--_Translator's Note._]


No sooner did Arina Petrovna come downstairs, than a carriage drawn by
a team of four horses made its appearance on a hill near the church.
In it, in the place of honor, was seated Porfiry Golovliov, who had
removed his hat and was crossing himself at the sight of the church.
Opposite him sat his two sons, Petenka and Volodenka. The very blood
froze in Arina Petrovna's veins as the thought flashed through her
mind, "Speak of the devil and he's sure to appear." The girls also
lost courage, and timidly clung closer to their grandmother. The house
hitherto peaceful was suddenly filled with alarm. Doors banged, people
ran about crying, "The master is coming, the master is coming!" and
all the occupants of the house rushed out on the porch. Some made the
sign of the cross, some stood in silent expectation, all apparently
conscious of the fact that the existing order in Dubrovino had been
only temporary, and that now the real management was to begin with
a real master at the head. Under the former master some of the old,
deserving serfs had enjoyed the privilege of a monthly allowance of
provisions. Many of them fed their cattle on the master's hay, had
kitchen gardens of their own, and altogether lived "freely." Everyone,
of course, was now vitally interested to know whether the new master
would permit the old order of things, or whether he would introduce a
new one, similar to that which prevailed at Golovliovo.

Yudushka drove up to the house. From the reception accorded to him he
concluded that affairs at Dubrovino were fast coming to a head. Without
a sign of haste, he descended from the carriage, waved his hand to the
servants who rushed forward to kiss it, then put his palms together,
and began to climb the steps slowly, whispering a prayer. His face
expressed a feeling of mingled grief, firmness, and resignation. As a
man he grieved; as a Christian he did not dare to complain. He prayed
to God to cure his brother, but above all he put his trust in the Lord
and bowed before His will. His sons walked side by side behind him,
Volodenka mimicking his father, clasping his hands, rolling his eyes
heavenward and mumbling his lips. Petenka revelled in his brother's
performance. Behind them, in silent procession, followed the servants.

Yudushka kissed dear mother's hand, then her lips, then her hand again
and put his arm about her waist and said, shaking his head sadly:

"And you keep on worrying. That's bad, mother dear, very bad. Instead
of that you should ask yourself: 'And what is God going to say to
this?' He will say: 'Here have I in my infinite wisdom arranged
everything for the best, and she grumbles.' Ah, mother dear, mother

Then he kissed both of his nieces, and with the same charming
familiarity in his voice, said:

"And you, too, romps, you are crying your eyes out. I won't permit it.
I command you immediately to smile. And that shall be the end of it."

And he stamped his foot at them in jesting anger.

"Just look at me," he continued. "As a brother I am torn with grief.
More than once I have shed tears. I am sorry for brother, sorry as can
be. I weep. Then I bethink myself: 'And what is God for? Is it possible
that God knows less than we what ought to be?' This thought inspires
me with courage. That is how you all should act, you, mother dear, and
you, little nieces, and--" he turned to the servants--"you all."

"Look at me, how well I bear up."

And in the same charming manner he proceeded to impersonate a man who
bears up. He straightened his body, put one foot forward, expanded his
chest, and threw back his head. The audience smiled sourly.

This performance over, Yudushka passed into the drawing-room and kissed
his mother's hand again.

"Well, so that's how things are, mother dear," he said, seating himself
on the couch. "So brother Pavel, too."

"Yes, Pavel, too," softly answered Arina Petrovna.

"Yes, yes--a little too early. Although I play the brave, in my soul
I, too, suffer and grieve for my poor brother. He hated me--hated me
bitterly. Maybe that is why God is punishing him."

"You might forget about it at such a moment. You must set old grudges

"I have forgotten it all long ago. I only mentioned it in passing.
My brother disliked me, for what reason, I know not. I tried one way
and another, directly and indirectly. I called him 'dear' and 'kind
brother,' but he drew back and that was the end of it."

"I asked you please not to bring all that up. The man is lying at the
point of death."

"Yes, mother dear, death is a great mystery. 'For ye know neither
the day nor the hour.' That's the kind of mystery it is. There he
was making plans, thinking he was exalted so high, so high as to be
beyond mortal reach. But in one instant with one blow God undid all his
dreams. Perhaps he would be glad now to cover up his sins. But they are
already recorded in the Book of Life. And whatever is written in that
book, mother dear, won't be scraped off in a hurry."

"But does not the Lord accept the sinner's repentance?"

"That's just what I wish for him from the bottom of my heart. I
know he hated me, still I wish him forgiveness. I wish the best for
everybody--for those that hate me, those that insult me--everybody. He
was unfair to me and now God sends him an ailment--not I, but God. Does
he suffer much, mother dear?"

"Well, not very much. The doctor was here and even gave us hopes." So
lied Arina Petrovna.

"What splendid news! Don't you worry, dear mother, he'll pull through
yet. Here we are eating our hearts away and grumbling at the Creator,
and perhaps he is sitting quietly on his bed thanking the Lord for his

The idea delighted Yudushka so immensely that he even giggled softly to

"Do you know, mother dear, that I have come to stay here a while?" he
went on, for all the world as if he were giving his mother a pleasant
surprise. "It's among good kinsmen, you know. In case something
happens--you understand, as a brother--I may console, advise, make
arrangements. You will permit me, will you not?"

"What sort of permissions can I give when I am here myself only as

"Well, then, dearest, since this is Friday, just order them, if you
please, to prepare a fish meal for me. Some salt-fish, mushrooms, a
little cabbage--you know, I don't need much. And in the meantime, as a
relative, I shall drag myself up to the entresol. Perhaps I shall still
be in time to do some good, if not to his body, at least to his soul.
In his position, it seems to me, the soul is of much more consequence.
We can patch up the body, mother dear, with potions and poultices, but
the soul needs a more potent remedy."

Arina Petrovna made no objection. The thought of the inevitability
of the "end" had taken such complete hold of her, that she observed
everything and listened to everything about her dazedly. She saw
Yudushka rise from the sofa, stoop and shuffle his feet. He liked to
appear invalided at times. He had an idea it added to his dignity. She
knew the unexpected appearance of the Bloodsucker in the entresol would
greatly excite the patient, might even hasten his end. But after the
day of agitation, she was so exhausted that she felt as if in a dream.

Meanwhile Pavel Vladimirych was in an indescribable state of
excitement. Though quite alone, he was aware of an unusual stir in
the house. Every bang of a door, every hurried footstep in the hall
awakened a mysterious alarm. For a while he called with all his
might; but, soon convinced his shouts were useless, he gathered all
his strength, sat up in bed, and listened. The sound of running feet
and loud voices stopped and was followed by a dead silence. Something
unknown and fearful surrounded him. Only a few, miserly rays of light
sifted through the lowered shades and the dim light of the lamp burning
before the ikon in the corner made the dusk filling the room seem all
the darker and gloomier. Pavel fixed his gaze upon that mysterious
corner as if for the first time he found something surprising in
it. The ikon, in a gilt framework on which the rays from the lamp
fell perpendicularly, stood out of the gloom with a sort of striking
brightness, like something alive. A circle of light wavered upon the
ceiling, flaring up or dying down in proportion to the strength or
weakness of the lamplight. Strange shadows filled the room, and the
dressing-gown hanging on the wall was alive with vacillating stripes of
light and shadow. Pavel Vladimirych watched and watched, and he felt
as if right there in that corner everything were suddenly beginning
to move. Solitude, helplessness, dead silence--and shadows, a host of
shadows. The shadows seemed to be coming, coming, coming. Gripped by
an indescribable terror, he gazed into the mysterious corner, eyes and
mouth agape, uttering no cries, but simply groaning--groaning in a
stifled voice, in jerks, like the barking of a dog. He heard neither
the creak of the stairs nor the careful shuffling steps in the adjacent
room. Suddenly, beside his bed, there loomed up the detestable figure
of Yudushka, as if from that gloom which had just mysteriously hovered
before his eyes, and as if there were more, more of shadows, shadows
without end--coming, coming----

"What? Where did you come from? Who let you in?" he cried
instinctively, dropping back on his pillow helplessly. Yudushka
stood at the bedside, scrutinizing the sick man and shaking his head

"Does it hurt?" he asked, putting all the oiliness of which he was
capable into his voice.

Pavel Vladimirych was silent, but stared at him stupidly, as if making
every effort to understand him.

Meanwhile Yudushka approached the ikon, fell to his knees, bowed three
times to the ground, arose and appeared again at the bedside.

"Well, brother, get up. May God send you grace," he said, sitting down
in an armchair, in a voice so jovial that he actually appeared to be
carrying "grace" about with him in his pocket.

At last Pavel Vladimirych realized that this was no shadow but the
Bloodsucker in flesh. He seemed to coil up of a sudden as if in a
cramp. Yudushka's eyes were bright with affection, but the invalid very
distinctly saw the "noose" lurking in those eyes ready any instant to
dart out and tighten round his neck.

"Ah, brother, brother, you've become no better than an old woman,"
Yudushka continued jocosely. "Come, brace up! Get up and run a little
race. Come on, come on, give mother the joy of seeing what a strong
fellow you are. Come on now! Up with you!"

"Get out of here, Bloodsucker!" the invalid cried in desperation.

"Ah, brother, brother! I come to you in kindness and sympathy, and
you ... what do you say in return? Oh, what a sin! And how could your
tongue say such a thing to your own brother! It's a shame, darling,
it's a shame! Wait a minute, let me arrange the pillow for you."

Yudushka got up and poked his finger into the pillow.

"Like this," he continued. "That's fine now. Lie quietly, now. You
won't need to touch it till tomorrow."

"You get out!"

"My, how cranky your illness has made you! Why, you have even become
stubborn, really. You keep chasing me, 'Get out, get out!' But how can
I go? Here, for instance, you feel thirsty and I hand you some water.
Or I see the ikon is out of order, and I set it to rights, or pour in
some oil. You just lie where you are and I'll be sitting nearby, real
quietly. So we won't even see how time flies."

"Get out, you Bloodsucker!"

"Look here, you are insulting me, but I am going to pray to the Lord
for you. I know it isn't you, it's your illness talking. You see,
brother, I am used to forgiving. I forgive everybody. Today, for
instance, as I was coming here I met a peasant, and he said something
about me. Well, the Lord be with him. He defiled his own tongue. And I,
why I not only was not angry at him, I even made the sign of the cross
over him, I did truly."

"You robbed him, didn't you?"

"Who, I? Why, no, my friend, I don't rob people; highwaymen rob, but
I--I act in accordance with the law. I caught his horse grazing in my
meadows--well, let him go to the justice of the peace. If the justice
says it's right to let your cattle graze on other people's fields,
well, then I'll give him his horse back, but if the justice says it
isn't right, I am sorry. The peasant will have to pay a fine. I act
according to the law, my friend, according to the law."

"You Judas the traitor, you left mother a pauper."

"I repeat, you may be angry, if you please, but you are wrong. If I
were not a Christian, I would even have cause to be angry at you for
what you've just said."

"Yes, you did, you did make mother a pauper."

"Now, do be quiet, please. Here, I am going to pray for you. Maybe that
will calm you down."

Though Yudushka had restrained himself successfully throughout the
conversation, the dying man's curses affected him deeply. His lips
curled queerly and turned pale. However, hypocrisy was so ingrained
in his nature that once the comedy was begun, he could not leave it
unfinished. So he knelt before the ikon and for fully fifteen minutes
murmured prayers, his hands uplifted. Thereupon he returned to the
dying man's bed with countenance calm and serene.

"You know, brother, I have come to talk serious matters over with you,"
he said, seating himself in the armchair. "Here you are insulting
me, but I am thinking of your soul. Tell me, please, when did you
communicate last?"

"Oh, Lord! What is all this? Take him away! Ulita, Agasha! Anybody
here?" moaned Pavel.

"Now, now, darling, do be quiet. I know you don't like to talk about
it. Yes, brother, you always were a bad Christian and you are still.
But it wouldn't be bad, really it wouldn't, to give some thought to
your soul. We've got to be careful with our souls, my friend, oh, how
careful! Do you know what the Church prescribes? It says, 'Ye shall
offer prayers and thanks.' And again, 'The end of a Christian's earthly
life is painless, honorable and peaceable.' That's what it is, my
friend. You really ought to send for the priest and sincerely, with
penitence. All right, I won't, I won't. But really you'd better."

Pavel Vladimirych lay livid and nearly suffocated. If he could have,
he would have dashed his head to pieces.

"And how about the estate? Have you already made arrangements?"
continued Yudushka. "Yours is a fine little estate, a very fine one.
The soil is even better than at Golovliovo. And you have money, too, I
suppose. Of course, I don't know anything about your affairs. I only
know that you received a lump sum on freeing your serfs, but exactly
how much, I never cared to know. To-day, for instance, as I was coming
here, I said to myself, 'I suppose brother Pavel has money.' 'But
then,' I thought, 'if he has capital, he must have decided already how
to dispose of it.'"

The patient turned away and sighed heavily.

"You have not made any disposition? Well, so much the better, my
friend. It's even more just, according to the law. It won't be
inherited by strangers, but by your own kind. Take me, for example, I
am old, with one foot in the grave, but still I think, 'Why should I
make disposition of my property if the law will do it all for me, after
I am dead?' And it's really the right way, my friend. There will be no
quarrels, no envy, no lawsuits. It's the law."

That was unbearable. Pavel Vladimirych felt as if he were lying in a
coffin, fettered, in lethargy, unable to move a limb, and forced to
hear the Bloodsucker revile his dead body.

"Get out--for Christ's sake, get out!" he finally implored his torturer.

"All right, you just be quiet, I'll go. I know you don't like me. It's
a shame, my friend, a real shame, to dislike your own brother. You see,
I do love you. And I've always been telling my children, 'Though Pavel
Vladimirych has sinned against me, yet I love him.' So you did not
make any disposition? Well, that's fine, my friend. Sometimes, though,
one's money is stolen while one is yet alive, especially when one is
without relatives, all alone. But I'll take care of it. Eh? What? Am I
annoying you? Well, well, let it be as you wish. I'll go. Let me offer
up a prayer."

He rose, placed his palms together, and whispered a prayer hurriedly.

"Good-by, friend, don't worry. Take a good rest, and perhaps with God's
help you will get better. I will talk the matter over with mother dear.
Maybe we'll think something up. I have ordered a fish meal for myself,
some salt-fish, some mushrooms and cabbage. So you'll pardon me. What?
Am I annoying you again? Ah, brother dear! Well, well, I'm going. Above
all, don't be alarmed, don't be excited, sleep well and take a good
rest," he said, and finally made his departure.

"Bloodsucker!" The word came after him in such a piercing shriek that
even he felt as if he had been branded with a hot iron.


While Porfiry Vladimirych was holding forth in the entresol,
grandmother Arina Petrovna had gathered the young folks around her
downstairs, and was talking to them, not without the hope of getting
something out of them.

"Well, how are you?" she asked, turned to her eldest grandson, Petenka.

"I'm pretty well, granny. Next month I'll graduate as an officer."

"Really? How many years have you been promising that? Are the
examinations so hard? Or what?"

"At the last examination, granny, he failed in his catechism. The
priest asked him, 'What is God?' and he answered, 'God is Spirit--is
Spirit--and Holy Spirit.'"

"Oh, you poor thing! How is that? Look at those little orphans. I'm
sure even they know that."

"Why, certainly. God is invisible Spirit." Anninka hurried to show off
her knowledge.

"Whom none ever beheld," Lubinka put in.

"Omniscient, most Gracious, Omnipotent, Omnipresent," Anninka continued.

"Whither can I go from Thy spirit and whither can I flee from Thy face?
Should I rise to Heaven, there wouldst Thou be, should I descend to
Hell, there wouldst Thou be."

"I wish you would have answered like that. You would have epaulets by
this time. And how about you, Volodya, what are you going to do?"

Volodya flushed and remained silent.

"Apparently, you go no further than your brother with his 'Spirit--Holy
Spirit,' Ah, children, children! You seem to be so bright and yet
somehow you can't master your studies at all. I might understand if you
had a father who spoiled you. Tell me, how does he treat you now?"

"Still the same old way, granny."

"Does he beat you? Didn't I hear he stopped thrashing you?"

"A little bit, but--the worst is, he pesters us to death."

"I must say, I don't understand. How can a father pester his children?"

"He does though, grandma, awfully. We can't go out without permission,
we can't take a thing. It couldn't be worse."

"Well, then, ask permission. Your tongue wouldn't fall out in the
effort, I imagine."

"Impossible. You just begin to talk to him, then he doesn't let go of
you. 'Don't hurry and wait a while. Gently, gently, take it easy.'
Really, granny, his talk is too tiresome for words."

"Granny, he listens to us on the sly behind our doors. Just the other
day Piotr caught him in the act."

"Oh, you rogues! Well, what did he say?"

"Nothing. I said to him, 'It won't do, daddy, for you to eavesdrop at
our doors. Some day you may get your nose squashed. And all he said
was, 'Well, well, it's nothing, it's nothing. I, my child, am like a
thief in the night, as it says in the Bible.'"

"The other day, granny, he picked up an apple in the orchard, and put
it away in a cupboard. I ate it up. So he hunted and hunted for it, and
cross-examined everybody."

"What do you mean? Has he become a miser?"

"No, he's not exactly stingy, but--how shall I put it? He is just
swamped head over heels in little things. He hides slips of paper, and
he hunts for wind-fallen fruit."

"Every morning he says mass in his study, and later he gives each of us
a little piece of holy wafer, stale as stale can be."

"But once we played a trick on him. We discovered where he keeps the
wafers, made a cut in the bottom of them, took out the pulp, and stuck
butter in."

"Well, I must say you are regular cut-throats."

"My, just imagine his surprise, next day. Wafers with butter!"

"I suppose you got it good and hard afterwards."

"No, not a bit. But he kept spitting all day and muttering to himself,
'The rascals!' Of course we made believe he didn't mean us."

"Let me tell you, granny, he is afraid of you."

"Of me! I'm not a scarecrow to frighten him."

"I'm sure he's scared of you. He thinks you'll put a curse on him. He's
desperately afraid of curses."

Arina Petrovna became lost in thought. At first the idea passed through
her mind: "What if I really should put a curse on him--just take and
curse him?" But the thought was instantly replaced by a more pressing
question, "What is Yudushka doing now? What tricks is he playing
upstairs? He must be up to one of his usual tricks." Finally a happy
idea struck her.

"Volodya," she said, "you, dear heart, are light on your feet. Why
shouldn't you go softly and listen to what's going on up there?"

"Gladly, granny."

Volodya tiptoed toward the doors and disappeared through them.

"What made you come over to us to-day?" Arina Petrovna continued with
her questioning.

"We meant to come a long time ago, grandma, but today Ulita sent a
messenger to say the doctor had been here and uncle was going to die,
if not to-day, then surely to-morrow."

"Tell me, is there any talk among you about the heritage?"

"We keep talking about it the whole day, granny. Papa tells us how
it used to be before grandpa's time. He even remembers Goriushkino,
granny. 'See now,' he says, 'if Auntie Varvara Mikhailovna had no
children, then Goriushkino would be ours. And God knows,' he says, 'who
the children's father is. But let us not judge others. We see a mote in
the eye of our neighbor, but fail to notice a beam in our own. That's
how the world goes, brother.'"

"Nonsense, nonsense. Auntie was married, was she not? Even if there had
been anything before that, the marriage made it all straight."

"That's true, grandma, and each time we go past Goriushkino, he brings
up the same old tale: 'Grandma Natalya Vladimirovna,' he says, 'brought
Goriushkino as a dowry. By all rights it should have stayed in the
family. But your deceased grandfather gave it to sister as a dot. And
what wonderful watermelons,' he says, 'used to grow at Goriushkino!
Twenty pounds each. That's the kind of watermelons that grew there!'"

"Twenty pounds, bosh! I never heard of such melons. Well, and what are
his intentions about Dubrovino?"

"In the same line, granny. Watermelons and muskmelons and other
trifles. But of late he has constantly been asking us, 'What do you
think, children, has uncle Pavel much money?' He has had it all figured
out for a long time, grandma: the amount of redemption loan, and when
the property was mortgaged, and how much debt is paid off. We even saw
the paper on which he made the calculations; and guess what, granny, we
stole it. We nearly drove him crazy with that slip of paper. He'd put
it in a drawer, and we'd match the key and stick it into a holy wafer.
Once he went to take a bath, when lo and behold! he saw the paper lying
on the bath shelf."

"You've a gay life up there."

Volodenka returned and became the center of general attention.

"I couldn't hear a thing," he announced in a whisper, "the only thing I
heard was father mouthing words like 'painless, untarnished, peaceful,'
and uncle shouting, 'Get out of here, you Bloodsucker!'"

"Didn't you hear anything about the will?"

"I think there was something said about it, but I couldn't make it out.
Father shut the door entirely too tight, granny. Only a buzzing came
through. And then suddenly uncle yelled, 'Get--get out!' Well then I
took to my heels and here I am."

"If only the orphans were given----" anxiously thought Arina Petrovna.

"If father gets his hands on it, granny, he'll not give a thing to
anyone," Petenka assured her. "And I have a feeling he's even going to
deprive us of the inheritance."

"Still, he can't take it to the grave with him, can he?"

"No, but he'll think up some scheme. It wasn't for nothing that he had
a talk with the priest not long ago. 'How does the idea of building
a tower of Babel strike you, Father?' he asked. 'Would one need much

"Well, he just said that perhaps out of curiosity."

"No, granny, he has some plan in mind. If it isn't for a tower of
Babel, he'll donate the money to the St. Athos monastery; but he'll
make sure we don't get any."

"Will father get a big estate when uncle dies?" asked Volodya,

"Well, God alone knows which of them will die first."

"Father is sure he'll outlive uncle. The other day, just as soon as
we reached the boundary of the Dubrovino estate, he took off his cap,
crossed himself, and said, 'Thank God we'll be riding again on our own

"He's made arrangements for everything already, granny. He noticed the
woods. 'There,' he says, 'if there were a good landlord, that would be
a ripping fine forest.' Then he looked at the meadows. 'What a meadow!
Just look! Look at all those hay stacks!'"

"Yes, indeed, both the woods and the meadows, everything will be yours,
my darlings," sighed Arina Petrovna. "Goodness! Wasn't that a squeak on
the stairs?"

"Hush, granny, hush! That's he--'like a thief in the night,' listening
behind the doors."

There was a silence, but it proved to be a false alarm. Arina Petrovna
sighed and muttered to herself, "Ah, children, children!"

The boys stared at the orphans, fairly swallowing them with their gaze,
while the little orphans sat in silent envy.

"Did you see Mademoiselle Lotar, cousin?" Petenka started a

Anninka and Lubinka exchanged glances as if they had been asked a
question in history or geography.

"In _Fair Helen_ she plays the part of Helen on the stage."

"Oh, yes--Helen--Paris--'Beautiful and young; he set the hearts of the
goddesses aflame--' I know, I know it," cried Lubinka joyfully.

"Exactly. And how she sings 'Cas-ca-ader, ca-as-cader.' It's great."

"The doctor who was just here keeps humming '_Head over heels._'"

"That is Lyadova's song. Wasn't she splendid, cousin? When she died,
nearly two thousand persons followed the hearse. People thought there
would be a revolution."

"Is it about theatres you're chattering?" broke in Arina Petrovna.
"Well, their destiny lies far from theatres, my boys. It leads rather
to the convent."

"Granny, you've set your mind on burying us in a convent," complained

"Come, cousin, let's go to St. Petersburg instead of to a convent.
We'll show you everything to be seen there."

"Their minds should not be occupied with thoughts of pleasure, but
rather with thoughts of God," continued Arina Petrovna sententiously.

"We will teach you everything under the sun. In St. Petersburg there
are lots of girls like you. They walk about swinging their skirts."

"Stop bothering them, for Christ's sake, you teachers," Arina Petrovna
interjected. "Nice things you can teach them."

"I'm going to take them to Khotkov, after Uncle Pavel's death, and
we'll settle down comfortably there."

"So you're still at your blabbing," a voice at the door suddenly broke

Engrossed in conversation nobody had heard Yudushka steal up "like a
thief in the night." He was all in tears, his head was bowed, his face
pale, his hands crossed on his breast, his lips mumbling in prayer.
For a few moments his eyes sought the ikons, then found them and for a
brief while he prayed.

"He's very ill. Ah, how ill he is!" he finally exclaimed, embracing his
mother dear.

"Is he?"

"Very, very ill, dear heart. And do you recollect what a strong fellow
he was?"

"Well, he was never exactly strong. I can't remember that, somehow."

"Ah no, mother dear, don't say that. He was, always. I remember
perfectly when he left the cadets corps how well shaped he was, broad
shouldered, glowing with health. Yes, yes, mother dear, that's how
it is. We're all in God's hands. To-day we're strong, in the best of
health, we want to enjoy life to have a good meal, and tomorrow....

He shrugged his shoulders and assumed deep emotion.

"Did he say anything at least?"

"Very little, dearest. The only thing he said was, 'Good-by, brother.'
And yet, mother dear, he can feel. He feels that he is in a bad way."

"Well, no wonder he feels he is in a bad way when he can hardly catch
his breath."

"No, mother dear, that's not what I mean. I have in mind the inner
vision which is given to the righteous and which allows them to foresee
their death."

"Yes, yes! Didn't he say anything about his will?"

"No, mother. He wanted to say something about it, but I stopped him.
'No,' I said, 'don't talk about that! Whatever you leave me, brother,
out of the kindness of your heart, I shall be satisfied. And even if
you leave me nothing, I'll have mass said for you at my own expense.'
And yet, mother dear, how he wants to live! How he longs for life!"

"Of course, who doesn't want to live?"

"No, mother. Take myself, for example. If it pleased the Lord God to
call me to Himself, I'm ready on the spot."

"All well and good if you go to Heaven, but what if Satan gets you
between his fangs?"

In this vein the talk continued till supper, during supper, and
after supper. Arina Petrovna was very restless. While Yudushka was
expatiating on various subjects, the thought entered her mind at
shorter and shorter intervals, "What if I should really curse him?" But
Yudushka had not the slightest suspicion of the storm raging in his
mother's heart. He had an air of serenity, and continued slowly and
gently to torture his "mother dear" with his endless twaddle.

"I'll curse him! I'll curse him! Curse him!" Arina Petrovna repeated
inwardly, with greater and greater determination.


An odor of incense pervaded the rooms, the sing-song of funeral chants
was heard in the house, the doors were thrown open, those wishing to
pay their last respects to the deceased came and went. While Pavel
Vladimirych lived, nobody had paid any attention to him; at his death
everybody mourned. People recalled that he "had never hurt a single
person," that "he had never uttered a cross word to anyone," nor
thrown anyone a look of ill-will--all qualities that had appeared
purely negative, but now assumed a positive character. Many seemed
to repent that at times they had taken advantage of the dead man's
simplicity--but after all, who knew that the simple soul was destined
to so speedy an end? One peasant brought Yudushka three silver rubles
and said: "Here's a little debt I owe Pavel Vladimirych. No writing
passed between us. Here, take it."

Yudushka took the money, praised the peasant, and said he would donate
the three silver rubles for oil to burn forever before an ikon in the

"You, my dear friend, will see the flame, and everybody will see it,
and the soul of my deceased brother will rejoice. Maybe he will obtain
something for you in Heaven. You won't be expecting anything--and
suddenly the Lord will send you luck."

Very probably the high estimate of the deceased's virtues was largely
based on a comparison between him and his brother. People did not like
Yudushka. Not that they couldn't get the better of him, but that he
was entirely too much of a nuisance with his scrape-penny ways. Very
few could bring themselves to lease land from him. They were afraid of
his passion for litigation. He dragged any number of people to court,
wasted their time, and won nothing, because his pettifogging habits
were so well known in the district that almost without listening to the
case the courts dismissed his claims.

Since meanness, or, to be more exact, a kind of moral hardness,
especially when under the mask of hypocrisy, always inspires a sort of
superstitious fear, Yudushka's neighbors bowed waist low as they passed
by the Bloodsucker, standing all in black beside the coffin with palms
crossed and eyes raised upward.

As long as the deceased lay in the house, the family walked about on
tip-toe, stole glances into the dining-room, where the coffin stood
on the table, wagged their heads, and talked in whispers. Yudushka
pretended to be overcome by the disaster, and shuffled painfully along
the corridor, paid a visit to the "dear deceased," affected deep
emotional stress, arranged the pall on the coffin, and whispered to the
commissioner of police, who was taking the inventory and affixing the
seal. Petenka and Volodenka busied themselves about the coffin, placing
and lighting the candles, handing over the censer, and so forth.
Anninka and Lubinka cried and through their tears helped the chanters
sing the mass for the dead in thin little voices. The woman servants,
dressed in black calico, wiped their noses red from weeping on their

Immediately after the death of Pavel Vladimirych, Arina Petrovna
went up to her room and locked herself in. She was not disposed
to weep, for she realized that she had to decide upon a course of
action immediately. To remain at Dubrovino was out of the question.
Consequently, she had only one choice, to go to Pogorelka, the orphans'
estate, the "bone" that she had once thrown to her disrespectful
daughter, Anna Vladimirovna. Arriving at this decision, she felt
relieved, as though Yudushka had suddenly and forever lost all power
over her. Calmly she counted her five per cent. Government bonds. They
totalled fifteen thousand rubles of her own, and as much belonging
to the orphans, which she had saved up for them. And she went on
composedly to calculate how much money she would have to spend to put
the Pogorelka manor-house in order. Then she immediately sent for the
bailiff of Pogorelka, gave the necessary orders about hiring carpenters
and sending a horse and cart to Dubrovino for her and the orphans'
belongings, ordered the coach to be made ready (the coach was her own,
and she had evidence that it was her very own), and began to pack.
She felt neither hatred nor goodwill toward Yudushka. It suddenly
became disgusting to her to have any dealings with him. She even ate
unwillingly and little, because from that day she had to eat not
Pavel's but Yudushka's food. Several times Porfiry Vladimirych peeped
into her room to have a chat with his "mother dear." He understood the
meaning of her packing clearly, but pretended to notice nothing. Arina
Petrovna refused to see him.

"Go, my friend, go," she said. "I have no time."

In three days, Arina Petrovna had everything in readiness for
departure. They heard mass, performed the funeral service, and buried
Pavel Vladimirych. At the funeral everything happened just as Arina
Petrovna had imagined on the morning when Yudushka came to Dubrovino.
In the very way she had foreseen Yudushka cried out, "Farewell,
brother!" when they lowered the coffin into the grave, and turned to
Ulita and said hastily: "Don't forget--don't forget to take the kutya,
and put it in the dining-room on a clean table cloth. We will honor
brother's memory in the house, too."

Three churchmen, the Father Provost and a deacon, were invited to the
dinner served, as is the custom, immediately on the return from the
funeral ceremony. A special table was laid in the entrance hall for
the sextons. Arina Petrovna and the orphans entered clad in travelling
clothes, but Yudushka pretended even then not to understand. He went
over to the table, requested the Father Provost to bless the food and
drink, poured a glassful of vodka for himself and the churchmen, put
on an air of deep emotion and said, "Everlasting memory to the late
deceased! Ah, brother, brother, you have forsaken us! Who of us more
than you was fit to live a happy life? How sad, brother, how sad!"

Then he crossed himself, and emptied the glass. He crossed himself
again and swallowed a piece of caviar, crossed himself again and took a
taste of dried sturgeon.

"Eat, Father," he urged the Provost. "All this is my late brother's
stock. How the deceased loved good fare! Not only that he ate well
himself, but he even liked treating others better. Ah, brother,
brother, you have forsaken us! How wrong it was of you, brother, how
very wrong!"

He was so carried away by his incessant chatter that he even forgot
about his dear mother. But suddenly she came to his mind as he scooped
up a spoonful of mushrooms and was about to send it down his mouth.

"Mother, dearest, darling!" he exclaimed. "I, the fool, am here,
gorging myself. What a sin! Mother dear, help yourself. Some mushrooms.
These are Dubrovino mushrooms. The famous ones."

But Arina Petrovna did not stir. She only shook her head in silence.
She seemed listening to something with intense curiosity, a new light
seemed to fill her eyes, as if the comedy to which she had long since
become accustomed and in which she had always taken active part,
suddenly presented itself to her in a changed light.

The dinner commenced with a brief, pathetic discussion. Yudushka
insisted that Arina Petrovna should take the hostess's place at the
head of the table. Arina Petrovna refused.

"No, you are the host here, so sit where you please," she said drily.

"You are the hostess. You, mother dear, are the hostess everywhere,
both at Golovliovo and Dubrovino, everywhere," said Yudushka, trying to
convince her.

"Do stop and sit down. Wherever it will be the Lord's will to place me
as a mistress, I will sit where I choose. Here you are master--so you
take the seat."

"Then this is what we'll do," said Yudushka, much moved. "We'll leave
the cover at the host's seat untouched, as if our brother were with
us, an invisible companion. He shall be host, and we shall all be his

That is how they arranged it. While the soup was being served,
Yudushka chose a proper subject and started a conversation with the
priests, addressing most of his remarks, however, to the Father Provost.

"There are many people nowadays who do not believe in the immortality
of the soul, but I do," he said.

"Well, they must be desperadoes," answered the Father Provost.

"Not, not that they are desperadoes, but there is is a science about
the soul not being immortal. It says that man exists all by himself. He
lives and then suddenly--dies."

"There are too many sciences nowadays--if only there were less of
them. People believe in sciences and don't believe in God. Take the
peasants--even the peasants want to become learned."

"Yes, Father, you are right. They do long to become learned. Take my
Naglovo peasants. They have nothing to eat, and still the other day
they passed a resolution--they want to open up a school. The scholars!"

"Nowadays there is a science for everything under the sun. One science
for rain, another science for fine weather, and so on. Formerly it was
a very simple matter. People would come and sing a Te Deum--and the
Lord would grant them their prayer. If they needed fine weather, God
would grant fine weather; if they needed rain, the Lord had enough of
it to go round. God has enough of everything. But since people have
begun to live according to science, everything has changed, everything
happens out of season. You sow--there is drought; you mow--there is

"You speak the truth, Father, the gospel truth. Formerly people used
to pray more to God, and the earth was more plentiful. The harvests
were not like now. They were four times, five times, richer. The earth
produced in abundance. Doesn't mother remember? Don't you remember,
mother dear?" asked Yudushka, turning to Arina Petrovna with the
intention of drawing her into the discussion.

"I never heard anything like that in our parts. Maybe you're speaking
of the land of Canaan. It is said that was really the case there,"
drily responded Arina Petrovna.

"Yes, yes, yes," said Yudushka, as if he had not heard his mother's
remark, "they don't believe in God, they don't believe in the
immortality of the soul, but they want to eat all the same."

"That's just it--all they want is to eat and drink," repeated the
Father Provost, rolling up the sleeves of his cassock to reach a piece
of the funeral pie and put it on his plate.

Everybody attacked the soup. For a while nothing was heard but the
clink of the spoons on the plates and the puffing of the priests as
they blew upon the hot liquid.

"Now as for the Roman Catholics," continued Yudushka, stopping to eat,
"although they do not deny the immortality of the soul, yet they claim
the soul does not land straight in hell or in heaven, but stays for a
while in a sort of middle place."

"That, too, is preposterous."

"To tell you the truth, Father," said Porfiry Vladimirych, deep in
thought, "if we take the point of view of----"

"There is no use discussing nonsense. How goes the song of our Holy
Church? It says, 'In a grassy place, in a cool place, in which there
is neither sighing nor sorrow.' So of what use is it to talk of a
'middle' place?"

Yudushka did not fully agree and wanted to make some sort of objection,
but Arina Petrovna, growing annoyed at the conversation, stopped him.

"Well, eat, eat, you theologian. I guess your soup is cold by now," she
said, and to change the topic she turned to the Father Provost. "Have
you gathered in the rye yet, Father?"

"Yes, madam. This time the rye is good, but the spring wheat doesn't
promise well. The young oat seeds are ripening too soon. Neither straw
nor oats can be expected."

"They are complaining everywhere about the oats," sighed Arina
Petrovna, watching Yudushka scoop up the last dregs of his soup.

Another dish was served, ham and peas. Yudushka took advantage of the
opportunity to resume the broken conversation.

"I'll wager the Jews don't eat this," he said.

"Jews are dirty," responded the Father Provost. "So people mock them,
calling them 'pig's ears.'"

"But the Tartars don't eat ham either. There must be some reason for

"The Tartars are dirty, too. That's the reason."

"We don't eat horse flesh, and the Tartars refuse pigs' meat. They say
rats were eaten during the siege in Paris."

"Well, they were--French!"

The whole supper passed in this way. When carp in cream was served,
Yudushka expatiated: "Fall to, Father. These are not ordinary carp.
They were a favorite dish of my departed brother."

Asparagus being served, Yudushka said:

"Just look at that asparagus! You'd have to pay a silver ruble for
asparagus like that in St. Petersburg. My deceased brother was so fond
of it. Bless it, look how thick it is."

Arina Petrovna was boiling with impatience. A whole hour gone and only
half the supper eaten. Yudushka seemed to hold it back on purpose. He
would eat something, put down his knife and fork, chatter a while, eat
a bit again, and chatter again. How often, in bygone days, had Arina
Petrovna scolded him for it. "Why don't you eat, you devil--God forgive
me." But he seemed to have forgotten her instructions. Or perhaps he
had not forgotten them, but was acting that way on purpose, to avenge
himself. Or maybe he wasn't even avenging himself consciously. He might
just be letting his devilish inner self have free play. Finally the
roast was served.

At the very moment that all rose and the Father Provost was beginning
to intone the hymn about "the beatific deceased," a noise broke out in
the corridor. Shouts were heard that entirely spoiled the effect of the

"What's that noise?" shouted Porfiry Vladimirych. "Do they take this
for a public-house?"

"For mercy's sake, don't yell. That is my--those are my trunks. They
are being transferred," responded Arina Petrovna. Then she added with a
touch of sarcasm: "Perhaps you intend to inspect them?"

A sudden silence fell. Even Yudushka turned pale and became confused.
He realized instantly, however, that somehow he had to soften the
effect of his mother's unpleasant words. Turning to the Father Provost,
he began:

"Take woodcocks for instance. They are plentiful in Russia, but in
other lands----"

"For Christ's sake, why don't you eat? We've got twenty-five versts to
go and make them before dark," Arina Petrovna cut him short. "Petenka,
dear, go hurry them in there, and see that they serve the pastry."

For a few moments there was silence. Porfiry Vladimirych quickly
finished his piece of woodcock. His face was pale, his lips trembled,
and he sat tapping his foot on the floor.

"You insult me, mother dear. You hurt me deeply," he declared, finally,
but avoided his mother's eyes.

"Who is insulting you? And how am I hurting you--so deeply?"

"It is very--very insulting. So insulting, so very insulting! To think
of your going away--at such a moment! You have lived here all the
time--and suddenly--and then you mention the trunks--inspection--what
an insult!"

"Well, then, if you're anxious to know all about it, why, I'll satisfy
you. I lived here as long as my son Pavel was alive. He died--and I
leave. And if you want to know about the trunks, why, Ulita has been
watching me for a long time at your orders. And concerning myself--it's
better to tell your mother straight to her face that she's under
suspicion than to hiss at her behind her back like a snake."

"Mother dear! But you--but I----" groaned Yudushka.

"You've said enough," Arina Petrovna cut him short. "And I've had my

"But, how could I, mother dear----"

"I tell you, I'm through. For Christ's sake, let me go in peace. The
coach is ready, I hear."

The sound of tinkling bells and an approaching vehicle came from the
courtyard. Arina Petrovna was the first to arise from the table. The
others followed.

"Now let us sit down for a moment, and then we're off," she said, going
towards the parlor.

They sat a while in silence. By that time Yudushka had entirely
recovered his presence of mind.

"After all, why shouldn't you live at Dubrovino, mother dear? Just see
how nice it is here," he said, looking into his mother's eyes with the
caressing expression of a guilty cur.

"No, my friend, that's enough. I don't want to leave you with
unpleasant words, but I can't stay here. What for? Father, let us pray."

Everybody rose in prayer, then Arina Petrovna kissed everybody good-by,
blessed them all, and with a heavy step went toward the door. Porfiry
Vladimirych, at the head of the company of relatives, went with her to
the porch. There on seeing the coach, he was struck by a devilish idea.
"Why, the coach belongs to my brother," was the thought that flashed
through his mind.

"So we'll see each other, mother dear?" he said, helping his mother in
and casting side glances at the coach.

"If it's the Lord's will--and why shouldn't we see each other?"

"Ah, mother, dear mother, that was a good joke, really! You had better
leave the coach--and, with God's help, in your old nest--indeed," urged
Yudushka in a wheedling tone.

Arina Petrovna made no answer. She had already seated herself and made
the sign of the cross, but the orphans seemed to hesitate.

Yudushka, all the while, kept throwing glance after glance at the coach.

"How about the coach, mother dear? Will you send it back yourself or
shall I send for it?" he blurted out, unable to retain himself longer.

Arina Petrovna shook with indignation.

"The coach is--mine!" she cried in a voice so full of pain that
everyone felt embarrassed and ashamed. "It's mine! Mine! My coach! I--I
have testimony--witnesses. And you--may you----No, I'll wait----We
shall see what becomes of you. Children, are you ready?"

"For mercy's sake, mother dear! I have no grievance against you. Even
if the coach belonged to this estate----"

"It is my coach--mine! It does not belong to Dubrovino, it belongs to
me! Don't you dare to say it--do you hear me?"

"Yes, mother dear. Don't forget us, dear heart. Simply, you know,
without ceremony. We will come to you, you will come to us, as becomes
good kinsfolk."

"Are you seated, children? Coachman, go on!" cried Arina Petrovna,
hardly able to restrain herself.

The coach quivered and rolled off quickly down the road. Yudushka stood
on the porch waving his handkerchief and calling until the coach had
entirely disappeared from view:

"As becomes good kinsfolk! We will come to you, and you to us--as
becomes good kinsfolk!"




It had never occurred to Arina Petrovna that there might come a time
when she would become "one mouth too many." Now that moment had stolen
upon her just when for the first time in her life her physical and
moral strength was undermined. Such moments always arrive suddenly.
Though one may long have been on the verge of breaking down, one may
still hold out and stave off the end, till suddenly the last blow
strikes from a quarter least expected. To be aware of its approach and
dodge it, is difficult. One has to resign oneself without complaint,
for it is the very blow that in an instant shatters one who till
recently has been hale and healthy.

When Arina Petrovna took up her abode in Dubrovino, after having broken
with Yudushka, she had labored under great difficulties. But then, at
least, she had known that Pavel Vladimirych, though looking askance at
her intrusion, was still a well-to-do man to whom another morsel meant
little. Now things were very different. She stood at the head of a
household that counted every crumb. And she knew the value of crumbs,
having spent all her life in the country in constant intercourse with
peasants and having assimilated the peasant's notions of the harm a
"superfluous mouth" does to a house in which stores are already scanty.

Nevertheless, in the first days after the removal to Pogorelka, she
still maintained her usual attitude, busied herself with putting things
in shape in the new place, and exercised her former clarity of judgment
in household management. But the affairs of the estate were troublesome
and petty, and demanded her constant personal supervision; and though
on first thought she did not see much sense in keeping accurate
accounts in a place where farthings are put together to make up kopek
pieces and these in turn to make ten-kopek pieces, she was soon forced
to admit that she had been wrong in this. To be sure, there really was
no sense in keeping careful accounts; but the point was, she no longer
possessed her former industry and strength. Then, too, it was autumn,
the busiest time of reckoning up accounts and taking inventories, and
the incessant bad weather imposed inevitable limits to Arina Petrovna's
energy. Ailments of old age came upon her and prevented her from
leaving the house. The long dreary fall evenings set in and doomed her
to enforced idleness. The old woman was all upset and exerted herself
to the utmost, but succeeded in accomplishing nothing.

Another thing. She could not help noticing that something queer was
coming over the orphans. They suddenly became dull and dispirited
and were agitated by some vague plans for the future, plans in which
notions of work were interspersed with notions of pleasures of the most
innocent kind, of course--reminiscences of the boarding-school where
they had been brought up, mingled with stray notions about men of toil,
which they retained from their fragmentary reading, and timid hopes of
clutching at some thread through their boarding-school connections,
and so entering the bright kingdom of human life. One tormenting hope
stood out definitely from the other vague longings, to leave hateful
Pogorelka at whatever costs.

And at length one fine day Anninka and Lubinka actually announced to
grandma that they simply could not stay at Pogorelka a moment longer;
they led a beastly life there, met nobody but the priest, and he, when
he met them, felt it incumbent upon him to tell of the virgins who had
extinguished their lamps. It wasn't right, it wasn't fair.

The girls spoke sharply, afraid of their grandmother and simulating
courage in order to overcome the anger and resistance they expected.
But to their surprise Arina Petrovna listened without anger, without
even a disposition toward the useless sermonizing that impotent old age
is so given to.

Alas, she was no longer that dominating woman who used to say so
confidently: "I am going to Khotkov and will take the little orphans
with me." The change was due, not to senile impotence alone, but also
to an acquired sense of something better and truer. The last buffets
of fortune had not only tamed Arina Petrovna; they had also lighted up
some corners of her mental horizon into which her thoughts evidently
had never before entered. Now, she knew, there were certain forces
in the human being that can remain dormant a long while, but once
awakened, they carry one irresistibly on to the glimmering ray of life,
that cheering ray for whose appearance one's eyes have been yearning
so long amidst the hopeless darkness of the present. Once realizing
the legitimacy of such a striving, she was powerless to oppose it. It
is true, she tried to dissuade her granddaughters from their purpose,
but feebly, without conviction. She was uneasy about the future in
store for them; all the more so since she herself had no connections in
so-called "society." Yet she felt that the parting with the girls was
a proper and inevitable thing. What would become of them? frequently
pressed on her mind; but she was now fully aware that neither this
question nor others more terrible would restrain one who was struggling
for release from captivity.

The girls insisted on one thing, on shaking the dust of Pogorelka from
their feet. And finally, after some hesitating and postponing to please
grandmother, they left.

The Pogorelka manor-house was now steeped in a forlorn quiet.
Self-centered as Arina Petrovna was by nature, yet the proximity of
human breath had its calming effect even upon her. For the first time,
perhaps, she felt that something had torn itself away from her being,
and the freedom with which she herself was now confronted was so
boundless that all she saw was empty space. To hide the void from her
eyes, she ordered the state-rooms and the attic where the orphans had
lived to be nailed up.

"Incidentally, there will be less firewood burned," she said to herself.

She retained only two rooms, in one of which a large ikon case with
images was stowed away. The other was a combined bedroom, study
and dining-room. For the sake of economy she dismissed her retinue
of servants, retaining only her housekeeper Afimyushka, an old,
broken-down woman, and Markovna, one-eyed, the soldier's wife, who did
the cooking and washing.

All these precautions, however, were of little help. The sensation
of emptiness was not slow to penetrate into the two rooms that were
meant to be guarded from it. Helpless solitude and dreary idleness
were the two enemies Arina Petrovna now confronted. And she was to be
bound to these two enemies the rest of her days. Physical and mental
disintegration were not slow to follow in the wake of loneliness
and idleness, and the less the resistance, the crueller, the more
destructive its work.

Days dragged on in the oppressive monotony peculiar to rural life when
there are no comforts or there is no executive work to be done, and
there is no material for mental occupation. In addition to the external
causes at work to take the management of household affairs away from
her, was an inner aversion that Arina Petrovna now felt to the petty
cares and bustle coming at the sunset of her life. Perhaps she would
have overcome her repugnance had she had an aim in view to justify her
efforts, but that very aim was wanting. Everybody was sick and weary
of her, and she was sick and weary of everybody and everything. Her
feverish activity of old suddenly yielded to idleness, and idleness
little by little corrupted her will and induced propensities of which
Arina Petrovna could never have dreamed only a few months ago.

The strong, reserved woman, whom no one would have thought of calling
old, turned into a wreck of her former self. There was neither past
nor future for her, but only the immediate moment to live through.
The greater part of the day she dozed, sitting in an easy-chair by
the table, on which ill-smelling cards were arranged. She would doze
for hours on end. Then her body would shudder convulsively, she would
wake up, look out of the window, and for a long time stare into the
distance, without a single conscious thought.

Pogorelka was a dreary manor-house. It stood all alone, without orchard
or shade, or the least indication of comfort. There was not even a
flower garden in front of the house. It was a one-story structure,
squat, weather-beaten, all black with age. Back of it were the many
out-buildings, also half worn-out, and all around was one vast stretch
of fields--fields without end. Not even the glimpse of forest anywhere
on the horizon. But from her very childhood Arina Petrovna had hardly
ever left the country, and this monotonous landscape did not seem
dreary to her. It even appealed to her heart and awakened remnants of
emotion still glowing within her. The best part of her being lived in
these naked fields, and her gaze sought them instinctively.

She stared at the expanse of fields; she stared at the drenched hamlets
making black specks on the landscape; she stared at the white churches
of the rural parishes; she stared at the motley spots that the cloud
shadows formed on the plains; she stared at the peasant unknown to her
who walked along the ploughed furrows, and she thought him slow and
stiff. While staring, she had no conscious thoughts, or, rather, her
thoughts were so fragmentary and disconnected that they could not stay
with any one thing for even a short time. She just gazed, gazed till
senile slumber again hummed dully in her ears, and the fields, the
churches, the hamlets and the peasant in the distance became wrapped in

At times, apparently, she recollected something; but the memories of
the past came incoherently, in fragments. Her attention could not
concentrate on one point. It jumped from one remote memory to another.
Yet sometimes she would be struck by something singular, not joy--her
past was very scant in joys--but some grievance, some abuse, bitter
and unbearable. Then sudden anger would flare up, anguish would creep
into her heart, and tears come to her eyes. She would weep grievously,
painfully, the weeping of piteous old age, when tears flow as if under
the load of a nightmare. But even while her tears were flowing, her
mind unconsciously continued to work in its usual way, and her thoughts
drifted imperceptibly away from the cause of her mood, so that in a few
minutes the old woman was wondering what had been the matter with her.

Altogether, she lived as if not participating in life personally, but
solely because in those ruins there were still left a few odds and ends
which had to be collected, recorded, and accounted for. While these
odds and ends were present, life went its way compelling the ruin to
perform all the external functions necessary to keep that half-asleep
existence from crumbling to dust.

But if the days passed in unconscious slumber, the nights were sheer
torment. At night Arina Petrovna was _afraid;_ she was afraid of
thieves, of ghosts, of devils, of all that was the product of her
education and life. And the defenses of the place were very poor, for
beside the two tottering women domestics Pogorelka had a night-watch in
the person of the lame little peasant Fedoseyushka, who for two rubles
a month came from the village to guard the manor-house, and usually
slept in the vestibule, coming out at the appointed hours to strike the
steel plate. In the cattle-yard, it is true, there lived a few farm
hands, men and women, but the cattle house was about fifty yards away
and it was not easy to summon any one from there.

There is something exceedingly dreary and oppressive in a sleepless
night in the country. At nine, or at latest ten o'clock, life ceases.
A weird stillness sets in that is full of terrors. There is nothing to
do, and it is a waste to burn candles. Willy-nilly one must go to bed.
As soon as the samovar was removed from the table Afimyushka, from an
old habit acquired during serfdom, spread a felt blanket in front of
the door leading to the mistress's bedroom, scratched her head, yawned,
flopped down on the floor, and fell dead asleep. Markovna always
fumbled in the maids' room a trifle longer, muttering something to
herself as if scolding somebody. But at last she, too, got quiet, and a
moment later you could hear her snoring and raving intermittently. The
watchman banged on the plate several times to announce his presence,
then kept quiet for a long time. Arina Petrovna, sitting in front of a
snuffy tallow candle, tried to stave off sleep by playing "patience,"
but scarcely did she have the cards arranged when she fell into a doze.

"It is as easy as not for a fire to start while one is asleep," she
would say to herself, and decide to go to bed. But no sooner did she
sink into the down pillows than another trouble set in. Her sleepiness,
so inviting and insistent all evening long, now left her completely.
The room was a close one at the best, and now, from the open flue the
heat came thick, and the down pillows were insufferable. Arina Petrovna
tossed restlessly. She wanted to call someone, but knew no one would
come in answer to her summons. A mysterious quiet reigned all around,
a quiet in which the delicate ear could distinguish a multitude of
sounds. Now something crackled somewhere, now a whining was audible,
now it seemed as if somebody were walking through the corridor, now a
puff of wind swept through the room and even touched her face. The ikon
lamp burned in front of an image, and the light gave the objects in the
room a kind of elusiveness, as if they were not actual things, but only
the contours of things. Another bit of light strayed from the open door
of the adjacent room, where four or five ikon lamps were burning before
the image case. A mouse squeaked behind the wall paper. "Sh-sh-sh,
you nasty thing," said Arina Petrovna, and all was silent again. And
shadows again, whisperings again coming from no one knew where. The
greater part of the night passed in that half-awake senile slumber.
Real sleep did not set in and do its work until nearly morning. By
six o'clock Arina Petrovna was already on her feet, tired out after a
sleepless night.

Other things to add to the misery of this miserable existence of
Arina Petrovna's were the poor food she ate and the discomfort of her
home. She ate little and used poor food, wishing, probably, to make
up for the loss caused by insufficient supervision. And the Pogorelka
manor-house was dilapidated and damp. The room into which Arina
Petrovna locked herself was never ventilated and remained without
cleaning for weeks on end. In this complete helplessness and the
absence of all comfort and care, decrepitude began slowly to set in.
But her desire to live grew stronger, or, rather, her desire for "a
dainty bit" asserted itself. With this came coupled a total absence of
the thought of death. Previously, she had been afraid of death; now
she seemed to have quite forgotten about it. And with ideals of life
differing but little from a peasant's, her conception of a "comfortable
life" was of rather a base kind. Everything she had formerly denied
herself, dainties, rest, association with wide-awake people, now forced
itself upon her in an insistent craving. All the propensities of a
regular sponger and hanger-on, idle talk, subservience for the sake of
a prospective gift, gluttony, grew in her with astounding rapidity.
Like the servants, she fed on cabbage-soup and cured bacon of doubtful
quality, and at the same time dreamed of the stores of provisions at
Golovliovo, of the German carps that swarmed in the Dubrovino ponds,
of the mushrooms that filled the Golovliovo woods, of the fowl that
fattened in the Golovliovo poultry-yard.

"Some soup with giblets, or some garden-cress in cream would not be a
bad thing," would cross her mind so vividly that her mouth watered. At
night when she tossed about rigid with fright at the least rustling,
she would think: "Yes, at Golovliovo the locks are secure and the
watchmen reliable. They keep banging on the steel plates all the time,
and you can sleep in perfect safety." During the day, from sheer lack
of human companionship, she was compelled to be silent for hours, and
during these spells of compulsory taciturnity, she could not help
thinking: "At Golovliovo there are lots of people. There you can talk
your troubles away." In fact, Golovliovo kept constantly recurring to
her mind, and the reminiscences of her former estate became a radiant
spot in which "comfortable living" concentrated itself.

The more frequently the vision of Golovliovo came back to her mind,
the stronger became her will to live again, and the farther the deadly
affronts she had recently sustained sank into oblivion. The Russian
woman, by the very nature of her life and bringing-up, too quickly
acquiesces in the lot of a hanger-on. Even Arina Petrovna did not
escape that fate, though her past, it would seem, should have tended
to warn and guard her against such a yoke. Had she not made a mistake
"at that time," had she not portioned out her estate to her sons,
had she not trusted Yudushka, she would to this very day have been a
harsh, exacting old woman, with everybody under her thumb. But since
the mistake was fatal, the transition from a testy, arbitrary mistress
to an obedient, obsequious parasite was only a matter of time. As long
as she still retained remnants of former vigor, the change was not
evident, but as soon as she realized that she was irrevocably doomed to
helplessness and solitude, all the pusillanimous propensities began to
make their way into her soul, and her will, already weakened, became
completely shattered. Yudushka, who used to be received most coldly
when he visited Pogorelka, suddenly ceased to be hateful to her. The
old injuries were somehow forgotten, and Arina Petrovna was the first
to court intimacy.

It began with begging. Messengers from Pogorelka would come to
Yudushka, at first rarely, but then with increasing frequency. Now
there had been a poor crop of garden-cress at Pogorelka, now the rains
had ruined the gherkins, now the turkey-poults had died--there's
freedom for you! And then it came to: "Would you mind, my dear friend,
ordering some German carps caught in Dubrovino? My late son Pavel never
refused them to me." Yudushka frowned, but thought it best not to show
open displeasure. The carps were an item, to be sure, but he was filled
with terror at the thought that his mother might put her curse upon
him. He well remembered her once saying: "I will come to Golovliovo,
order the church opened, call in the priest and shout: 'I curse you!'"
It was the recollection of this that held him back from many dastardly
acts that quite accorded with his nature. But in fulfilling the wish
of his "mother dear" he did not omit to hint casually to the people
around him that God had ordained that every man bear his cross, and
that He did so not without divine purpose, for he who bears not his
cross wanders from the righteous path and becomes corrupted. To his
mother he wrote: "I am sending you some gherkins, mother dear, as many
as my resources allow. As to the turkeys, I am sorry to inform you that
besides those left for breeding, there remain only turkey-cocks, which
in view of their size and the limited needs of your table are quite
useless to you. And will it not be your pleasure to let me welcome you
to Golovliovo and share my paltry viands with you? Then we can have one
of those idlers (idlers, indeed, for my cook Matvey caponizes them most
skilfully) roasted, and you and I, my dearest friend, shall feast on
him to our heart's content."

From that day Arina Petrovna became a frequent guest at Golovliovo.
Assisted by Yudushka she tasted of turkeys and ducks; she slept her
fill both by night and by day, and after dinner she eased her heart
with copious small talk, in which Yudushka was proficient by nature,
she proficient because of old age. Her visits were not discontinued
even when it reached her ears that Yudushka, weary of solitude, had
taken in a damsel named Yevpraksia, from among the clergy, as his
housekeeper. On the contrary, she made off right for Golovliovo and
before alighting from the carriage called to Yudushka with childish
impatience: "Well, well, you old sinner, let's see your queen, let's
see your queen." That entire day she spent most pleasurably, because
Yevpraksia herself waited upon her at table and made her bed after
dinner, and because in the evening she played fool with Yudushka and
his queen.

Yudushka himself was pleased with this dénouement, and in token of
filial gratitude ordered a pound of caviar, among other things, to be
put into Arina Petrovna's carriage as she was about to depart. That was
the highest token of esteem, for caviar is not a home product; one has
to buy it. The courtesy so touched the old woman that she could refrain
no longer and said: "Well, I do thank you for this. And God, too, will
love you, because you cherish and sustain your mother in her old age.
Now, when I get back to Pogorelka, I shall not be bored any more. I
always did like caviar. Well, thanks to you, I'll have a dainty morsel


Five years had passed since Arina Petrovna took up her abode at
Pogorelka. Yudushka struck root in Golovliovo and would not budge. He
became considerably older, faded and tarnished greatly, but was more
of a knave, liar and babbler than ever, for now his "mother dear" was
nearly always with him, and for the sake of dainties, she became a
ready and indispensable listener to his empty talk.

One must not think of Yudushka as a hypocrite in the sense of Tartuffe,
for instance, or some modern French bourgeois, mellifluous and fond of
expatiating on "the foundations of society." No, he was a hypocrite of
the purely Russian breed, simply a man devoid of moral standards and
ignorant of any except the most elementary truths. His ignorance was
profound. He was mendacious, had a passion for litigation and empty
talk, and was afraid of the devil, too--all negative traits that are
not the material for the making of a genuine hypocrite.

In France hypocrisy is a result of education; it constitutes, so to
say, a part of "good manners," and always has a distinct political
or social coloring. There are hypocrites of religion, hypocrites of
"the foundations of society," of property, of family, of politics.
And lately there have come up even hypocrites of "law and order."
Though this sort of hypocrisy cannot be termed conviction, still it
is a banner around which those people rally who find it profitable to
play the hypocrite in that way and no other. They sham consciously,
that is they know they are hypocrites, and they also know that others
know. According to the notions of a French bourgeois, the universe is
nothing but a large stage on which is played an endless drama with one
hypocrite taking his cue from the other. Hypocrisy is an invitation to
decency, decorum, outward elegance and politeness. And what is most
important, hypocrisy is a restraint, not for those, of course, who
play the hypocrite, hovering in the rarified atmosphere of the social
heights, but for those who swarm at the bottom of the social caldron.
Hypocrisy keeps society from the debauchery of passion and makes
passion the privilege of a very limited minority. When licentiousness
keeps within the limits of a small, well-organized corporation, it is
not only harmless, but even supports and nourishes the traditions of
elegance. The exquisite would perish if there were not a certain number
of _cabinets particuliers,_ in which licentiousness is cultivated in
the moments that are free from the worship of official hypocrisy. But
licentiousness becomes really dangerous as soon as it is accessible to
all and is combined with the general extension of the right to make
demands and insist upon the legitimacy and naturalness of such demands.
New social stratifications form, which endeavor to crowd out the old
ones, or, at least, limit them considerably. The demand for _cabinets
particuliers_ grows to such an extent that the question arises: Would
it not be simpler in the future to get along without them? It is
against these unwelcome questions and formulations of demands that
the ruling classes of French society guard the systematic hypocrisy
that begins by being an accident of manners and ends by becoming a
compulsory law.

The modern French theatre is based on this reverence for hypocrisy.
The first four acts of a popular French play are realistic, depicting
the decay and disintegration of all standards of marital fidelity.
But the fifth act always ends up with some sentimental ringing phrase
eulogizing the sweet atmosphere of the fireside and the supreme triumph
of virtue over vice. Which is the truth? Which is the sham? Both and
neither. In the first four acts the audience sees itself mirrored in
the realistic portrayal on the stage, but the fifth act is an equally
faithful portrayal of the audience's conception of ideal virtue and
pure matrimonial life. So, if French hypocrisy is a superstructure upon
the body of public immorality, it is so completely a part of the entire
fabric of morality that it keeps the edifice from toppling over.

We Russians have no system of social bringing up. We are not mustered
or drilled to become champions of "social principles" or other
principles, but simply left to grow wild, like nettles by the fence.
That is why there are few hypocrites among us, but many liars,
empty-headed bigots, and babblers. We have no need of playing the
hypocrite for the sake of social principles, for we know of no such
thing as social principles. We exist in perfect liberty, that is, we
vegetate, lie, chatter quite naturally, without regard for principle.
Whether we ought to rejoice over it or regret it, I cannot say. I
think, though, that if hypocrisy breeds resentment and fear, useless
lying causes boredom and repugnance. The best thing, therefore, is to
ignore the question of the advantages of conscious over unconscious
hypocrisy, and vice versa, and have nothing to do with either
hypocrites or liars.

Yudushka was more of a chatterbox, liar and rascal than hypocrite. On
shutting himself up on his country estate, he at once felt at perfect
liberty. In no other environment could his propensities find so vast
a field for operation. At Golovliovo he encountered neither direct
resistance nor even indirect restraints that would make him think: "I
should like to do something mean, but what will people say?" There
was none to disturb him with disapproval, no one to intrude into his
affairs. Consequently there was no reason for controlling himself.
Extreme slovenliness became the dominating feature of his attitude
toward himself. He had long had a craving for this perfect freedom
from any moral restraint, and the fact that he had not gone to live in
the country earlier was entirely due to his fear of idleness. Having
spent over thirty years in the dull atmosphere of the bureaucratic
department, he had acquired all the habits and appetites of an
inveterate official, who does not allow a single moment of his life to
pass without being busily engaged in doing nothing. But on studying the
matter more closely, he came to the conclusion that the realm of busy
idleness can easily be transposed to any sphere.

In fact, scarcely settled at Golovliovo but he at once created a world
of trifles in which to rummage without the slightest risk of them ever
being exhausted. In the morning he would seat himself at his desk and
attend to business matters. First he would carefully check the accounts
of the housekeeper, the cattle-yard woman, and the steward. He had
established a very complicated accounting system, both for money and
inventory. Every kopek, every bit of produce, was entered in twenty
books, and on checking up he would find the total either half a kopek
behind, or a whole kopek ahead. Lastly he would take up his pen and
write complaints to the justice of the peace and the judge of appeals.
This took up all his time and had the appearance of assiduous hard
work. Yudushka often complained that he had no time to do everything
that had to be done, though he pored over the ledgers all day long and
did not even stop to take off his dressing-gown. Heaps of well filed
but unexamined reports were always lying about on his desk, and among
them was the annual report of the cattle-house woman, Fekla, whose
activity had long seemed suspicious, though he had had no time to check
up her accounts.

All connections with the outside world were completely severed. He
received no books, no newspapers, not even letters. One of his sons,
Volodya, committed suicide. With the other, Petenka, he corresponded
briefly and only on sending him a remittance. He was caught in an
atmosphere thick with ignorance, superstition and industrious idleness,
and felt no desire to rescue himself from it. Even the fact that
Napoleon III. was no longer emperor came to him through the local
chief of police a year after the emperor's death. On hearing of it
he expressed no particular interest, but only crossed himself and
murmured: "May he enter the Kingdom of Heaven," and then said aloud:
"And how proud he was! My, my! This was no good, and that did not
suit him. Kings went to do him homage, princes kept watch in his
antechamber. So the Lord, you see, in one moment cast down all his
proud dreams."

The truth of the matter was that for all his reckoning and checking up
he was far from knowing what was going on on his own estate. In this
respect he was a typical official. Imagine a chief clerk to whom his
superior says: "My friend, it is necessary to my plans for me to know
exactly how large a crop of potatoes Russia can produce annually. Will
you kindly compute this for me?" You think a question like that would
baffle the chief clerk? You think he would at least ponder over the
methods to be employed in the execution of such a task? Not at all. All
he would do is this. He would draw a map of Russia, rule it out into
perfect squares, and find out how many acres each square represents.
Then he would go to the greengrocer's, would find out the quantity
of potatoes each acre requires for seed and what the average ratio
is of yield to seed, and, finally, with the help of God and the four
fundamental operations of arithmetic, he would arrive at the conclusion
that Russia under favorable circumstances could yield so and so many
potatoes and under unfavorable circumstances, so and so many. And his
work would not only please the chief, but would also be placed in
Volume CII of some "Proceedings."

Yudushka even chose a housekeeper who exactly fitted the environment
he had created. The maiden Yevpraksia was the daughter of the sexton
at the church of St. Nicholas-in-Drops. She was an all-round treasure.
Not alert in thinking, not ingenious, not even handy, but diligent,
submissive, in no sense exigent. When Yudushka "drew her nearer" to his
person, her one request was to be permitted to take some cold cider
without asking leave. Such disinterestedness touched even Yudushka. He
immediately put at her disposal two tubs of pickled apples beside the
cider, and freed her from accountability for any of these items. Her
exterior had nothing attractive in it to a connoisseur, but she was
quite satisfactory to a man who was not fastidious and knew what he
wanted. She had a broad white face, a low forehead bordered with thin
yellowish hair, large lack-lustre eyes, a perfectly straight nose, a
flat mouth on which there played a mysterious elusive smile, such as
one sees in the portraits painted by homebred artists. In short there
was nothing remarkable about her, except, perhaps, her back between her
shoulder-blades, which was so broad and powerful that even the most
indifferent man felt like giving her a good, hearty slap there. She
knew it, but did not mind it, so that when Yudushka for the first time
patted the fat nape of her neck, she only twitched her shoulders.

Amidst these drab surroundings days wore on, one exactly like the
other, without the slightest change, without the least hope of a
brightening ray. The arrival of Arina Petrovna was the one thing that
brought a bit of animation. At first, when Porfiry Vladimirych had seen
his mother's carriage approaching he had frowned, but in time he grew
accustomed to her visits and even got to like them. They catered to his
loquacity, for even he found it impossible to chatter to himself when
all alone. To babble about various records and reports with "mother
dear" was very pleasant, and, once together, they talked from morning
till night without having enough. They discussed everything--the
harvests of long ago and of the present; the way the landed gentry
had lived in "those days;" the salt that had been so strong in former
years; and the gherkins that were not what they had been in days gone

These chats had the advantage of flowing on like water and being
forgotten without effort, so that they could be renewed with interest
_ad infinitum,_ and enjoyed each time as if just put into circulation.
Yevpraksia was present at these talks. Arina Petrovna came to love her
so well that she would not have her away for a moment. At times, when
tired of talking, the three of them would sit down to play fool, and
they would keep on playing till long after midnight. They tried to
teach Yevpraksia how to play whist with the dummy, but she could not
understand the game. On such evenings the enormous Golovliovo mansion
became animated. Lights shone in all the windows, shadows appeared here
and there, so that a chance passer-by might think Heaven knows what
celebration was going on. Samovars, coffee pots, refreshments took
their turn on the table, which was never empty. Arina Petrovna's heart
brimmed over with joy and merriment and instead of remaining for one
day, she would spend three or four days at Golovliovo. And on the way
back to Pogorelka she would think up a pretext for returning as soon as
possible to the temptations of the "good living" there.


It was the end of November. As far as eye could see the ground was
covered with a white shroud. A blizzard reigned in the night outdoors;
the biting wind drove the snow, piled up huge snow-drifts in an
instant, lashed the snow higher and higher, covering every object and
filling the air with a wailing. The village, the church, the nearby
woods, all vanished in the whirling snowy mist. The wind howled in the
trees of the ancient Golovliovo orchard. But inside the landlord's
manor it was warm and cozy. In the dining-room there was a samovar on
the table. Around it were Arina Petrovna, Porfiry Vladimirych, and
Yevpraksia. To one side stood a card-table with tattered cards on it.
The open door from the dining-room led on one side to the ikon room,
all flooded with light from the ikon lamps, on the other, to the
master's study, where an ikon lamp was also burning before an image.
The rooms were overheated and stuffy, the odor of olive oil and of the
charcoal burning in the samovar filled the air. Yevpraksia, seated in
front of the samovar, was engaged in rinsing the cups and drying them
with a dish towel. The samovar made spirited music, now humming aloud
with all its might, now falling into a doze, as it were, and snoring.
Clouds of steam escaped from under the cover and wrapped the tea-pot in
a mist. The three at the table were conversing.

"Well, how many times were you the 'fool' to-day?" Arina Petrovna asked

"I shouldn't have been fool once if I hadn't given in. I wanted to
please you, you see," answered Yevpraksia.

"Fiddlesticks! I remember how pleased you were last time when I
bombarded you with threes and fives. You see, I am not Porfiry
Vladimirych. He makes it easy for you, hands only one at a time, but I,
my dear, have no reason to."

"Yes, indeed! You were playing foul!"

"Well, I say! I never do such things."

"No? Who was it I caught a little while ago? Who wanted to slip through
a seven of clubs and an eight of hearts and call them a pair? Well, I
saw it myself and I myself showed you up!" While talking Yevpraksia
rose to remove the tea-pot from the samovar and turned her back to
Arina Petrovna.

"My, what a back you have! God bless you!" Arina Petrovna exclaimed, in
involuntary admiration.

"Yes, a wonderful back," Yudushka repeated mechanically.

"My back again! Aren't you ashamed of yourself? What has my back done
to you?" Yevpraksia turned her back first to the right, then to the
left, and smiled. Her back was her joy. A few days before even the
cook Savelich, an old man, had looked at her admiringly and said:
"Well, well, what a back! Just like a hearth-plate!" She did not, be it
noticed, complain to Porfiry Vladimirych about the cook's remark.

The cups were filled with tea over and over again, and the samovar grew
silent. Meanwhile the snowstorm became fiercer and fiercer. A veritable
cataract of snow struck the windowpanes every now and then, and wild
sobs ran at intervals down the chimney flue.

"The storm seems to be in real earnest," said Arina Petrovna. "Listen
to it howling and whining."

"Oh, well, let it whine. The blizzard keeps on whining and we keep
on drinking tea. That's how it is, mother dear," replied Porfiry

"It must be a terrible thing for one to be out in the fields now."

"Yes, it may be terrible to some, but what do we care? Some feel cold
and dreary, but we are bright and cheery. We sit here and sip our tea,
with sugar, and cream, and lemon. And should we want tea with rum, we
can have it with rum."

"Yes, but suppose----"

"Just a moment, mother dear. I say, it is very bad in the open now.
There is no road or path. Everything is wiped out. And then--wolves!
But here we are warm and cozy, afraid of nothing. We just keep sitting
here, quietly and peacefully. If we want to play a little game of
cards, we play cards; if we want to have some hot tea, well, then we
have tea. We won't drink more than we want to, but we may drink to our
heart's content. And why all this? Because, mother dear, God's mercy is
with us. Were it not for Him, the King of Kings, maybe we, too, would
now be wandering in the fields, in the cold and the darkness, in a
shabby little coat, a flimsy little girdle, bast shoes."

"Oh, come now, what do you mean--bast shoes? We are gentlefolk, surely.
In any circumstances we can afford decent footwear."

"Do you know why we were born in the gentry, mother dear? All because
God's mercy was with us. Were it not for that we would now be in a hut
and it would be lighted not by a candle but by a _luchina_ and as to
tea or coffee, we wouldn't dare dream about them. I would be patching
my miserable little bast shoes, and you would be getting ready to sup
off thin cabbage soup, and Yevpraksia would be weaving tick, and on top
of it all, maybe the _desyatsky_ would come to press us and the wagon
into service."

"Yes, catch the _desyatsky_ coming on a night like this!"

"Who knows, mother dear? And maybe the regiments would come! Maybe
there would be war or mutiny. The regiments must be there on the
dot. The other day, for instance, the chief of police was telling me
Napoleon III. had died. So you may be sure the French will be up to
some mischief again. Naturally, our soldiers will have to make for the
front at once, and you, friend peasant, will have to get your wagon
out, quick! Never mind cold, blizzard, and snowdrifts. You go if the
authorities tell you to, and if you know what is good for you. But we,
don't you see, will be spared a while. They won't turn us out with the

"Yes, who dares deny it? The mercy the Lord has shown us is great."

"That's just what I say. God, mother dear, is everything. He gives
us wood to burn and food to eat. It's all His doing. We think we buy
things ourselves, and pay our own hard cash, but when you look into it
more deeply, and reckon it up, and figure it out, it's all He, it's all
God. If it be His will, we'll have nothing. Here, for instance, I would
like to have some fine little oranges, I would have some myself, would
offer one to my mother dear, would give an orange to everyone. I have
the money to buy oranges. Suppose I produce some coin and say, 'Here,
let me have some oranges,' but God says, 'Halt, man!' Then here I am,
a philosopher without cucumbers."

They laughed.

"That's all talk," said Yevpraksia. "My uncle was sexton at the Uspenye
Church in Pesochnoye. You may be sure he was as pious a man as ever
was. So I think God ought to have done something for him. But he was
caught in a snowstorm out in the fields and froze to death all the

"That's just my point. If such is God's will, you will freeze to death,
and if such is not His will, you will remain alive. There are prayers
that please God and there are prayers that do not please Him. If a
prayer pleases God it will reach Him, if it does not, you may as well
not pray at all."

"I remember in 1824 I was travelling and was pregnant with Pavel. It
was in the month of December, and I was going to Moscow----"

"Just a moment, mother dear. Let me finish about the prayers. A man
prays for everything, for he needs everything. He needs some butter and
some cabbage, and some gherkins, well, in a word, he needs everything.
Sometimes he doesn't need the thing, but in his human weakness he
prays for it all the same. But God from above sees better. You pray
for butter, and he gives you cabbage or onions. You are after fair and
warm weather and he sends you rain and hail. What you have to do is to
understand it all and not complain. Last September, for example, we
prayed God for frost, so that the winter corn might not rot, but God,
you see, sent no frosts, and our winter corn rotted away."

"It certainly did rot away," remarked Arina Petrovna commiseratingly.
"The peasants' winter fields at Novinky weren't worth a straw. They'll
have to plow them all over and plant spring corn."

"That's just it. Here we are planning and philosophizing, and figuring
it one way, and trying it another way, but God in a trice reduces
all our plots and plans to dust. You, mother dear, wanted to tell us
something that happened to you in 1824?"

"What was it? I really don't remember. I suppose I wanted to tell you
again about God's mercy. I don't remember, my friend, I don't."

"Well, you'll recall it some other time, if God is willing. And while
the blizzard is whirling out there you'd better have some jam, my dear.
This is cherry jam from the Golovliovo orchard. Yevpraksia herself put
it up."

"I am already helping myself to some. I must admit cherry jam is a rare
thing with me now. Years ago I used to indulge every now and then, but
now----! Your Golovliovo cherries are fine, so large and juicy. No
matter how hard I tried to grow them at Dubrovino, they wouldn't come.
Did you add some French brandy to the jam, Yevpraksia?"

"Of course I did. Followed your directions. Another thing I meant to
ask you, how do you pickle cucumbers, do you use cardamoms?"

Arina Petrovna thought a bit, then made a gesture of perplexity.

"I don't remember, my dear. I think I used to put cardamoms in. Now I
don't. My pickling now is not much. But I used to put cardamoms in,
yes, I remember very well now. When I get home I'll look among the
recipes, maybe I'll find it. When I had my strength I used to make a
note of everything. If I liked something somewhere, I would ask how
it was made, write it on a piece of paper, and then try it at home.
I once learned a secret, such a secret that the man who knew it was
offered a thousand rubles to tell. He wouldn't do it. And I gave the
housekeeper a quarter, and she told me every bit of it."

"Yes, mother dear, in your day you certainly were a wizard."

"Well, I don't know if I was a wizard, but I can thank the Lord, I
didn't squander my fortune. I kept adding to it. Even now I taste of my
righteous labors. It was I who planted the cherry trees in Golovliovo."

"Thanks for it, mother dear, many thanks. Eternal thanks from me and my
descendants. That's what I say."

Yudushka rose, went to mother dear and kissed her hand.

"And thanks to you, too, that you take your mother's welfare to heart.
Yes, your provisions are fine, very fine."

"Well, how do my provisions compare? You used to have
provisions--perfectly stunning! My, what cellars! And not an empty

"Yes, I used to have provisions, I may as well be frank about it. Mine
was a well-stocked house. And as to the many cellars I had, well, the
household was much larger, ten times as many mouths as you have to-day.
Take the domestics alone. Everyone had to be fed and provided for.
Gherkins for one, cider for another, little by little, bit by bit, and
it mounts up."

"Yes, those were good times. Plenty of everything. Grain and fruit, all
in abundance."

"We used to save more manure, that is why."

"No, mother dear, that is not the reason. It was God's blessing, that's
what it was. I remember father once brought an apple from the orchard,
and it surprised everybody, it was too big to be put on a plate."

"Well, I don't remember that. I know generally that apples used to be
fine, but that they were the size of a plate, that I don't remember.
I do remember though, that we caught a carp in the Dubrovino pond
weighing twenty pounds, yes, I remember that."

"Carps and fruit--everything was large then. I remember the watermelons
the gardener Ivan used to get. They were as big as this!"

Yudushka stretched out his arms in a circle, pretending he could not
embrace the imaginary watermelon.

"Yes, those were watermelons. Watermelons, my friend, are according
to the year. One year you get lots of them and they are good. Another
year they are poor and few. And some years you don't get any at
all. Well, it depends upon the lucky ground, too. On the estate of
Grigory Aleksandrovich, for example, nothing came up, no fruit and no
berries--nothing. Only melons. Nothing but melons used to come up."

"Then he had God's blessing for melons."

"Why, yes, certainly. You can't get along without God's mercy. You
can't run away from it either."

Arina Petrovna finished her second cup and cast glances at the card
table. Yevpraksia, too, was burning with impatience to have a hand
at cards. But the plans were thwarted by Arina Petrovna herself. She
suddenly recollected something.

"I have a bit of news for you," she declared. "I received a letter from
the orphans yesterday."

"And you kept it to yourself all this time, and only just thought of
it? I suppose they are hard up. Do they ask for money?"

"No, they do not. Here, read it. You'll like it."

Arina Petrovna produced a letter from her pocket and gave it to
Yudushka, who read aloud:

        "Please, grandma, don't send us any more turkeys or hens. Don't
        send us money, either, but invest the money. We are not at
        Moscow but at Kharkov. We've gone on the stage, and in summer
        we are going to travel to the fairs. I, Anninka, made my début
        in _Pericola,_ and Lubinka in _Pansies_. I was called out
        several times, especially after the scene where Pericola comes
        out and sings 'I am ready, ready, read-d-d-y!' Lubinka made a
        hit, too. The director put me on a salary of one hundred rubles
        a month and a benefit performance at Kharkov; and Lubinka, at
        seventy-five a month and a benefit the coming summer, at a
        fair. Besides, we get gifts from army officers and lawyers.
        The lawyers sometimes, though, give you counterfeit money,
        and you have to be careful. And you, dear granny, can have
        Pogorelka all to yourself, we will never come there again, we
        don't understand how people can live there. We had the first
        snow here yesterday, and we had troika rides with the lawyers.
        One looks like Plevako--my! just stunning! He put a glass of
        champagne on his head and danced a trepak. It's jolly, beats
        anything I've seen! The other one isn't so handsome, he looks a
        little like Yazikov from St. Petersburg. Just think, after he
        read "The Collection of the Best Russian Songs and Romances,"
        his imagination became unstrung and he got so weak that he
        fainted in the court-room. And so we spend almost every day in
        the company of army officers and lawyers. We go on rides and
        dine and sup in the best restaurants, and pay nothing. And you,
        granny dear, don't be stingy and use up everything growing in
        Pogorelka, corn, chickens, mushrooms. We shall be very glad to
        send some money. Good-by. Our gentlemen have just arrived. They
        have come to take us driving again. Darling! Divine! Farewell!

                                              And I, too--LUBINKA."


Yudushka spat in disgust and returned the letter. For a while Arina
Petrovna was pensive and silent.

"Mother dear, you haven't answered them yet?"

"No, not yet. I just got the letter yesterday. I came here on purpose
to show it to you, but between this and that I almost forgot all about

"Don't answer it. It's best not to."

"How can I? I must account to them. Pogorelka is theirs, you know."

Yudushka also became pensive. A sinister plan flashed through his mind.

"And I keep wondering how they will preserve themselves in that
foul den," Arina Petrovna continued. "You know how it is in these
things--once you stumble, you can't get your maiden honor back! Go hunt
for it!"

"Much they need it!" Yudushka snarled back.

"Still, you know. Honor is a girl's best treasure, one may say. Who
will marry a girl without it?"

"Nowadays, mother dear, unmarried people live like married ones.
Nowadays they laugh at the precepts of religion. They get married
without benefit of clergy, like heathens. They call it civil marriage."

Yudushka suddenly recollected that he, too, was living in sinful
relationship with a daughter of the clergy.

"Of course, sometimes you can't help it," he hastened to add. "If a
man, let us say, is in full vigor and a widower--in an emergency the
law itself is often modified."

"Yes, of course. When hard pressed a snipe sings like a nightingale.
Even saints sin when sorely tried, let alone us mortals."

"Yes, that's just it. Do you know what I would do if I were you?"

"Yes, tell me, please tell me."

"I would insist that they make Pogorelka over to you in full legal

Arina Petrovna looked at him in fright.

"Well, I have a deed giving me the full powers and rights of a manager."

"Manager is not enough. You ought to get a deed that would entitle you
to sell and mortgage it, in a word, to dispose of the property as you
see fit."

Arina Petrovna lowered her eyes and remained silent.

"Of course, it is a matter that requires deliberation. Think it over,
mother dear," Yudushka insisted.

But Arina Petrovna said nothing. Though age had considerably dulled
her powers of judgment, she was somehow uneasy about Yudushka's
insinuations. She was afraid of Yudushka, and loath to part with the
warmth, spaciousness, and abundance that reigned at Golovliovo, but
at the same time she felt that Yudushka had something up his sleeve
when he spoke of the Pogorelka deed, and was casting a new snare.
The situation grew so embarrassing that she began to scold herself
inwardly for having shown him the letter. Happily Yevpraksia came to
the rescue.

"Well, are we going to play cards or not?" she asked.

"Yes, come on, come on!" Arina Petrovna hurried them and jumped up
quickly. On her way to the card table a new thought dawned upon her.

"Do you know what day it is?" she turned to Porfiry Vladimirych.

"The twenty-third of November," Yudushka replied, somewhat nonplussed.

"Yes, the twenty-third. Do you remember what happened on the
twenty-third of November? You have forgotten about the requiem, haven't

Porfiry Vladimirych turned pale and made the sign of the cross.

"Oh, Lord! Did you ever!" he exclaimed. "Really? Is that so? Just a
moment. Let's look at the calendar."

In a few minutes he had brought the calendar and taken out a sheet of
paper inserted in it, on which was written.

"November 23. The death of my dear son Vladimir."

"Rest in peace, beloved dust, till the joyous morn. And pray the
Lord for your father, who will never fail to have memorial services
performed on this day."

"There, now!" said Porfiry Vladimirych. "Ah, Volodya! You are not a
good son. You are a wicked son. You haven't prayed for your papa in
Heaven, it seems, and so he has lost his memory. What are we going to
do about it, mother dear?"

"It is not so terrible, after all. You can have the requiem service
tomorrow. A requiem and a mass--we'll have both of them sung. It is
all my fault, I am old and have lost my memory. I came on purpose to
remind you, but on my way it slipped my mind."

"Ah, what a sin! It is a good thing the ikon lamps are burning. It is
as if it had dawned on me from above. To-day is not a holiday, but the
lamps have been left burning ever since the day of Presentation. The
other day Yevpraksia came over to me and asked: 'Do you think I ought
to put out the side ikon lamps?' And I, as if a voice were speaking to
me from within, thought a while and said: 'Don't touch them. Let them
burn.' And now I see what it all meant."

"Well, it is good at least the lamps have been burning. It is some
relief to the soul. Where will you sit? Will you be my partner, or will
you join your queen?"

"But, mother dear, I don't know if it's proper."

"Yes, it is. Sit down. God will forgive you. It wasn't done on purpose,
with evil intentions. It was just because you forgot. It may happen
even to saints. To-morrow, you see, we'll rise with the sun, and stand
throughout the mass and have the requiem sung--all as it should be.
His soul will rejoice that good people remembered him, and we will be
at peace because we did our duty. That's the way to do, my friend. No
use worrying. I'll always say, in the first place, worry will not bring
back your son, and, in the second place, it is a sin before God."

Yudushka yielded to the persuasiveness of these words, and kissed his
mother's hands.

"Ah, mother, mother, you have a golden soul, really! If not for you
what would I do now? It would be the end of me, that's all. I just
wouldn't know what to do and would go under."

Porfiry Vladimirych gave orders for to-morrow's ceremony, and all sat
down to play. They played one hand out, then another. Arina Petrovna
became heated and denounced Yudushka because he had been handing
Yevpraksia only one card at a time. In the intervals between the deals,
Yudushka abandoned himself to reminiscences of his dead son.

"And how kind he was," he said. "He wouldn't take a thing without
permission. If he needed paper, 'May I have some paper, papa?' 'Yes,
you may, my friend,' Or, 'Won't you be so kind, father dear, as to
order carps for breakfast?' 'If you wish it, my friend.' Ah, Volodya,
my son, you were a good lad in every way, but it was not good of you to
leave your father."

A few more hands were played, and Yudushka again gave vent to his

"And, pray, what in the world happened to him? I really can't
understand it. He lived quietly and nicely, was a joy to me--it
couldn't have been better. And all of a sudden--bang! What a sin, what
a sin! Just think of it, mother dear, what a deed! His very life, the
gift of the Heavenly Father. Why? What for? What did he lack? Was it
money? I think I never held back his allowance. Even my enemies will
not dare say that about me. Well, and if his allowance was not enough,
I couldn't help it. Your father's money wasn't stolen money. If you
haven't enough money, well, learn to restrain yourself. You can't
always be eating cookies, you must sometimes be content with simpler
fare. Yes, you must. Your father, for example, expected some money the
other day, and then the manager comes and says, 'The Torpenlovskoye
peasants won't pay their rent.' Well, I couldn't help it, I wrote a
complaint to the Justice of the Peace. Ah, Volodya, Volodya! No, you
were not a good boy. You deserted your poor father. Left him an orphan."

The livelier the game the more copious and sentimental Yudushka's

"And how bright he was! I remember once, he was laid up with the
measles. He was no more than seven years old. My late Sasha came over
to him, and he says, 'Mother, mother, is it true that only angels have
wings?' 'Well,' she said, 'yes, only angels.' 'Why?' he asked. 'Did
father have wings when he came here a while ago?'"

Yudushka remained the fool with as many as eight cards on his hands,
among them the ace, king and queen of trumps. Peals of laughter rose,
Yudushka was displeased, but he affably joined in the merriment. In the
midst of the general excitement, Arina Petrovna suddenly grew silent
and listened attentively.

"Stop, be quiet. Somebody is coming," she said.

Yudushka and Yevpraksia listened, but heard no sound.

"I tell you, somebody is coming. Listen, listen! Someone is coming and
he is not far off."

They listened again, and surely there was a faint tinkling in the
distance, which the wind brought nearer one moment and carried away the
next. Five minutes later the bells were distinctly heard. The sound of
them was followed by voices in the court-yard.

"The young master, Piotr Porfirych, has arrived," came from the

Yudushka rose, and remained standing, dumfounded and pale as death.


Petenka walked in looking flabby and dispirited, kissed his father's
hand, observed the same ceremony with his grandmother, then bowed
to Yevpraksia, and sat down. He was about twenty-five, rather
good-looking, in an army officer's travelling uniform. That was all one
could say about him. Even Yudushka knew scarcely more. The relations
of father and son were not of the kind one could call strained. There
simply were no relations, you might say. Yudushka knew Petenka to be a
man who in the eyes of the law was his son and to whom he had to send a
certain allowance determined by Yudushka himself, in consideration of
which he was entitled to homage and obedience. Petenka, on the other
hand, knew that he had a father who could make things unpleasant for
him at any time he wished. He made trips to Golovliovo quite willingly,
especially since he had become a commissioned officer, not because he
greatly enjoyed his father's company, but simply because every man who
is not clearly conscious of his aim in life instinctively gravitates
to his native place. But now, apparently, he had come because he had
been obliged to come, and consequently manifested not a single sign
of the joyous perplexity with which every prodigal son of the gentry
celebrates his arrival home. Petenka was not talkative.

All his father's ejaculations of pleasant surprise were met with
silence, or a forced smile, and when Yudushka asked, "Why did it occur
to you all of a sudden?" he answered even crossly, "It just occurred to
me and here I am."

"Well, thank you, thank you for remembering your father. I am glad you
came. I suppose you thought of grandmother, too?"

"Yes, I thought of grandmother, too."

"Hold on! Maybe you recollected that today is the Anniversary of your
brother Volodenka's death?"

"Yes, I thought of that, too."

Thus the conversation went for about half an hour, so that it was
impossible to tell whether Petenka were answering or dodging the
questions. So, in spite of Yudushka's tolerance of his children's
indifference to him, he could not refrain from remarking:

"Well, my child, you are not affectionate. One could hardly call you an
affectionate son!"

Had Petenka kept silence this time also, had he taken his father's
remark meekly, or better still, had he kissed his father's hand and
said, "Excuse me, father dear, you know I am tired from the journey,"
things would have passed off pleasantly. But Petenka behaved like an
ungrateful child.

"Yes, that's what I am," he answered gruffly. "Let me alone, please."

Then Porfiry Vladimirych felt so hurt, so wounded that he could not
keep quiet any longer.

"To think of the pains I have taken for your sake!" he said, with
bitterness. "Even here I never stop thinking how to improve this and
that, so that you may be comfortable and cozy, and suffer no lack, and
have no worry. And all of you fight shy of me."

"Who is 'all of you'?"

"Well, you. And the deceased, too, may his soul rest in peace, he was
just the same."

"Well, I am grateful to you."

"I don't see your gratitude--neither gratitude nor affection--nothing."

"I'm not affectionate--that's all. But you speak in the plural all the
time. One of us is dead already."

"Yes, he is dead. God punished him. God punishes disobedient children.
Still, I remember him. He was unruly, but I remember him. Tomorrow, you
see, we shall have the memorial services performed. He offended me,
but I, notwithstanding, remember my duty. Lord! The sort of thing that
goes on these days! Here a son comes to his father and snarls at the
very first word. Is that how we acted in our days? I remember we used
to come to Golovliovo, and when we were thirty versts away, we began
to shiver in our boots. Well, here is mother dear, a live witness, she
will tell you. And nowadays. I don't understand it. I don't understand

"I don't either. I came quietly, greeted you, kissed your hand and
now I sit here and don't bother you. I drink tea, and if you give me
supper, I'll have my supper. Why did you raise all this fuss?"

Arina Petrovna sat in her chair listening attentively. She seemed to
be hearing the same old familiar tale that had begun long, long ago,
time out of mind. Aware that such a meeting of father and son foreboded
no good, she considered it her duty to intervene and put in a word of

"Well, well, you turkey-cocks!" she said, trying to give the situation
a humorous turn. "Just met and already quarreling. Look at them jumping
at each other, look at them! Feathers will soon be flying. My, my, how
naughty! Why don't you fellows sit down quietly and properly and have
a friendly chat, and let your old mother enjoy it, too? Petenka, you
give in. My child, you must always give in to your father, because he
is your father. Even if at times father gives you bitter medicine, take
it without complaint, with obedience, with respect, because you are his
son. Who knows, maybe the bitter medicine will turn sweet--so it will
be to your good. And you, Porfiry Vladimirych, come down from your high
perch. He is your son, young, delicate. He has made seventy-five versts
over hollows and snow-drifts, he is tired, and chilled, and sleepy. We
are through with the tea now, suppose you order supper and then let's
all go to bed. So, my friend. We'll all go to our nooks and offer up
a prayer, and maybe our temper will pass away. And then we'll rise
early in the morning and pray for Volodya's soul. We'll have a memorial
service performed, and then we'll go home and have a talk. Both of you
will be rested and you'll state your affairs in a clear, orderly way.
Petenka, you will tell us about St. Petersburg and you, Porfiry, about
your country life. And now, let's have supper and to bed!"

The exhortation had its effect not because it was convincing but
because Yudushka himself saw he had gone too far and it would be best
to end the day peacefully. He rose from his seat, kissed his mother's
hand, thanked her for the "lesson," and ordered supper.

The meal was eaten in morose silence. Then they left the dining-room
and went to their rooms. Little by little the house became still. The
dead quiet crept from room to room and finally reached the study
of the Golovliovo master. Having finished the required number of
genuflexions before the ikons, Yudushka, too, went to bed.

Porfiry Vladimirych lay in bed, but was unable to shut his eyes. He
felt his son's arrival portended something unusual, and various absurd
sermons already rose in his mind. Yudushka's harangues had the merit of
being good for all occasions and did not consist of a connected chain
of thoughts, but came to him in the shape of fragmentary aphorisms.
Whenever confronted by an extraordinary situation, such a flood of
aphorisms overwhelmed him that even sleep could not drive them from his

He could not fall asleep. He was a prey to his absurd sermonizings,
though, as a matter of fact, he was not much perturbed by Petenka's
mysterious arrival. He was prepared for no matter what happened. He
knew nothing would catch him napping and nothing would make him recede
in the slightest from the web of empty, musty aphorisms in which he
was entangled. For him there existed neither sorrow nor joy, neither
hatred, nor love. To him the entire world was a vast coffin which
served him as a pretext for endless prattling.

What greater grief could there be for a father than for his son to
commit suicide? But even with respect to Volodya's suicide he remained
true to himself. It had been a very sad story, which had lasted two
years. For two years Volodya had held out, at first showing a pride
and determination not to ask his father's aid. Then he weakened, began
to implore, to expostulate, to threaten. In reply he always received
a ready aphorism, the stone given to the hungry man. It is doubtful
whether Yudushka realized that he had handed his son a stone and not
bread. At any rate a stone was all he had to give, and so he gave it.
When Volodya shot himself he had a requiem service performed, entered
the day of his death in the calendar, and promised himself to have
memorial services performed on the 23rd of November of every year.
Sometimes a dull voice muttered in his ears that the solution of a
family quarrel by suicide is rather a questionable method, to say the
least; and even then he brought into play a train of aphorisms, such as
"God punishes disobedient children," "God is against the proud," and
was at peace again.

And now! There was no doubt that something sinister had happened to
Petenka. But whatever had happened, he, Porfiry Vladimirych, must be
above those chance happenings. "You knew how to get in, then know how
to get out." "If the cat wants the fish, let her wet her feet." Just
so. That is what he would say to his son the next day, no matter what
Petenka told him. And suppose Petenka, like Volodya, were also to
refuse to take a stone instead of bread? What if he, too----Yudushka
drove the thought from him. It was a diabolical suggestion. He tossed
about and tried in vain to fall asleep. Whenever sleep seemed about
to come, there flashed across his mind maxims such as "I should like
to reach the sky but my arms are too short," or "You can't stretch
more than the length of your bed," or "Speed is good for nothing but
catching fleas."

Twaddle surrounded him on all sides, crawled upon him, crept over him,
embraced him. Under this load of nonsensicality, with which he hoped to
regale his soul tomorrow, he could not fall asleep.

Nor could Petenka find sleep, though the journey had tired him
exceedingly. He had an affair that could not be settled anywhere
except at Golovliovo, but it was a situation of such a nature that
he did not know how to meet it. Petenka, indeed, realized full well
that his case was hopeless and his trip to Golovliovo would only add
to the difficulties of his situation. But the primitive instinct of
self-preservation in man overcomes all reason and urges him on to try
everything to the very last straw. That's why he had come. But instead
of hardening himself so as to be prepared for whatever might come, he
had almost from the first word got into a quarrel with his father. What
would be the outcome of this trip? Would a miracle happen? Would stone
turn into bread? Would it not have been simpler to put the revolver to
his temple and say, "Gentlemen, I am unworthy of wearing your uniform.
I have embezzled crown money and I pronounce a just, though severe
sentence upon myself"? Bang! And all is over. The deceased Lieutenant
Golovliov is hereby struck off the list of officers. Yes, how radical
that would be and--how beautiful! The comrades would say, "You were
unfortunate, you went too far, still you were an honorable man."

But instead of acting that way at once, he had brought the affair to
a point where it became a matter of common knowledge; and then he
had been given leave of absence for a fixed time on condition that
within that time he would refund the embezzled sum. If not--out of the
regiment! The disgraceful end of his early career! So he had come to
Golovliovo, though he knew full well that he would be given a stone
instead of bread.

But perhaps a miracle would come to change things. Miracles sometimes
happen. Perhaps the present Golovliovo would vanish and a new
Golovliovo would arise, in which he might----And perhaps grandmother
would--hadn't she money? Maybe, if he told her he was in great trouble,
she might give him some. Who could tell? "Here," she might say, "hurry,
so that you get back before the time is up."

And he rode fast, fast--hurried the driver, just made the train and got
to the regiment two hours before the respite was over. "Good for you,
Golovliov," his comrades would say, "your hand, honorable young man!
Let's forget the matter." And he not only remained in the regiment, but
was even promoted to staff-captain, then captain, after that adjutant
of the regiment (he had been bursar, already) and, finally, on the
anniversary day of the regiment----Ah, if only the night would pass
quickly! Tomorrow--well, let happen what may tomorrow. But what he
would have to listen to! Gods, what would he not be told! Tomorrow--but
why tomorrow? He had a whole day yet. He asked for two days just
because he wanted to have enough time to move "him." A likely chance! A
fine prospect of persuading and touching him! No use----

Here his thoughts became confused and sank, one after the other, into
the mist of sleep. In a few minutes the Golovliovo manor was steeped in
heavy slumber.

The next day the whole household was up early in the morning. Everybody
went to church except Petenka, who pleaded fatigue. They listened to
the mass and the requiem and returned home. Petenka, as usual, came
up to kiss his father's hand, but Yudushka extended it sidewise, and
everyone noticed that he did not even make the sign of the cross over
his son. Tea was served, then _kutya._ Yudushka was dismal, scraped
the floor with his feet, avoided conversation, sighed, folded his
hands incessantly as if for inner prayer, and never once looked at his
son. Petenka, for his part, bristled up and smoked one cigarette after
another. The strained situation of yesterday, so far from relaxing,
became still more acute. It made Arina Petrovna very uneasy, and she
decided to find out from Yevpraksia if anything had happened.

"Has anything happened," she asked, "that makes them look daggers at
each other like that?"

"How do I know? I don't interfere in their private affairs," the girl
snapped back.

"Maybe it's on account of you. Perhaps my grandson is running after you

"Why should he run after me? A little while ago he tried to catch hold
of me in the corridor, and Porfiry Vladimirych saw him."

"Oh. So that's what it is."

In fact, in spite of his critical situation, Petenka had not lost
a bit of his levity. His eyes riveted themselves on Yevpraksia's
powerful back and he determined to let her know about it. That was
the real reason he had not gone to church, hoping Yevpraksia, as the
housekeeper, would stay home. So, when the house had turned silent,
he had thrown his cloak over his shoulders and hidden himself in the
corridor. A minute or two passed, the door of the maids' room banged,
and Yevpraksia appeared at the other end of the corridor, carrying a
tray with a butter-cake to be served with the tea. Petenka struck her
between the shoulder-blades and said, "A wonderful back you've got!"
and that instant the dining-room door opened and his father appeared.

"You, scoundrel! If you came here to behave in a nasty way, I'll throw
you down the stairs!" Yudushka hissed venomously.

Naturally, Petenka vanished in a moment. He could not fail to realize
that the incident of the morning was scarcely likely to improve his
case. So he decided to be silent and postpone the explanation until the
morrow. Nevertheless he did nothing to allay his father's irritation;
on the contrary, he behaved in a foolish, unguarded manner, smoking
cigarettes incessantly, heedless of his father's energetically fanning
away the clouds of smoke that filled the room; and every now and
then making sheep's eyes at Yevpraksia, who smiled queerly under the
influence of his glances. Yudushka noticed that, too.

The day dragged on slowly. Arina Petrovna tried to play fool with
Yevpraksia, but nothing came of it. No one felt like playing or
talking; they could not even think of small talk, though everyone had
stores of this merchandise. At last dinner time came. But dinner passed
in silence also. After dinner Arina Petrovna made preparations for
returning to Pogorelka. But this intention of his "mother dear" alarmed

"God bless you, darling!" he exclaimed. "Do you mean to say you'll
leave me here alone with this--this wicked son? No, no, don't think of
it. I won't allow it."

"But what is the matter? Has anything happened between the two of you?
Why don't you tell me?" she asked.

"No, nothing has happened--as yet, but you'll see. No, please don't
go! Be present at----There is something behind his coming here in such
a hurry. So, if anything happens--you be the witness."

Arina Petrovna shook her head and decided to stay.

After dinner Porfiry Vladimirych retired, having first sent Yevpraksia
to the village priest, and Arina Petrovna also went to her room and
dozed off in her easy-chair.

Petenka thought it the most favorable time to try his luck with
grandmother, and went to her room.

"What is the matter? Have you come to play a game of fool with an old
woman?" she asked.

"No, granny, I am on business."

"Well, what is your business? Tell me."

Petenka hesitated a minute, then blurted out:

"I lost crown money at cards."

Arina Petrovna's eyes grew dim from the shock.

"Much?" she asked in a frightened voice, staring at him.

"Three thousand."

For a moment both were silent. Arina Petrovna looked around restlessly,
as if expecting somebody to come to her rescue.

"Do you know they can send you to Siberia for that?" she said at last.

"Yes, I know."

"Poor fellow!"

"Granny, I meant to borrow it from you. I'll pay good interest."

Arina Petrovna became thoroughly frightened.

"Oh no, no!" she protested. "I have only enough money for my coffin and
memorial prayers. It's my granddaughters that keep me a-going, and my
son, too. No, no, no! You'd better let me alone. Let me see--why not
ask your papa?"

"Oh, well, you can't squeeze blood out of an onion. All my hope was in
you, granny."

"Just think of what you are saying. I would gladly do it, but where am
I to get the money from? I have no money at all. But suppose you ask
father, you know, affectionately, respectfully. 'Here, father dear,
such is the case. I know I am guilty, I am young and I made a blunder.'
You know, with a smile and a laugh. Kiss his hand and fall on your
knees, and cry a bit. He likes it. Then maybe father will untie his
purse for his sonny dear."

"So you really think it's worth trying? Just a moment. See here,
granny, suppose you say to him, 'If you don't give him the money I'll
lay a curse on you!' He has always been afraid of your curse, you know."

"No, why curse? You can ask right out. Do ask him, my dear. There is no
harm if you bow before your father once too many. He will understand
your position, you know. Do it. Be sure to do it."

Petenka, his arms akimbo, walked back and forth as if deliberating.
Finally he halted and said:

"No, I won't. He is not likely to give it--it's no use. No matter what
I do, even if I smash my head in bowing--he won't do it. But you see,
if you threatened him with your curse. What am I to do, granny?"

"I don't know, really. Try and perhaps you'll soften him a bit. How
did you come to take such liberties? To lose crown money is no small
matter. Did anybody inveigle you into it?"

"It just happened. I took it and lost it at cards. Well, if you have
no money of your own, give me some of the orphans'."

"What is the matter with you? Have you lost your wits? How can I let
you have the orphans' money? No, no, I can't. Don't talk to me about
it, for Christ's sake."

"So you won't. Too bad. And I would pay good interest. Do you want five
per cent. per month? No? Well, double the principal in a year?"

"Don't you tempt me!" shouted Arina Petrovna, throwing up her hands.
"Leave me alone, for Christ's sake! It won't surprise me if father
hears us and says I urged you on! Oh, Lord! I am an old woman, I wanted
to rest a bit. I had just dozed off and then he comes with such an

"Very well, then. I am going. So it's impossible? Very good. Just like
kinsfolk. On account of three thousand rubles your grandson will go to
Siberia. Don't forget to have a Te Deum sung when I go."

Petenka left the room, closing the door with a bang. One of his flimsy
hopes was gone. What was he to do next? Only one way out was left--to
confess all to father. Who knows, perhaps, perhaps, something would----

"I'll go at once and be done with it," he said to himself. "Or no! What
can I hope for? Better tomorrow. Yes, I think tomorrow is better. I'll
tell him and leave at once." So he decided. Tomorrow would see and end
it all.

After the talk with grandmother the evening dragged on still more
slowly. Even Arina Petrovna grew silent after she had learned the real
cause of Petenka's arrival. Yudushka tried to be jocular with mother,
but perceiving she was absorbed in her own thoughts, also grew silent.
Petenka did nothing but smoke. At supper Porfiry Vladimirych asked him:

"Are you going to tell me at last why you have honored me with this

"I will tell you tomorrow," answered Petenka morosely.


Petenka rose early after a sleepless night. His harassed mind
vacillated between hope and utter despair. Perhaps he did not really
know his father, but one thing he was sure of, that there was not in
him a single feeling, a single weak spot that could be grasped at
and made use of. When face to face with his father, all he felt was
something inexplicable. He did not know how to approach him, what to
say first, and this made him very uneasy in his presence. It had been
like that since his childhood. As far back as he could remember, it
always seemed better not to attempt any forecast at all than to make a
matter depend upon his father's decision. So now, too. How was he to
begin? How was he to approach the matter? What was he to say first? And
why had he come here at all?

A feeling of disgust seized him. Nevertheless he realized he had only
a few hours left and something had to be done. Having worked himself
up into a fair state of courage, he buttoned up his coat, and walked
firmly to his father's study, whispering something to himself. Yudushka
was saying prayers. He was pious, and every day gladly devoted a few
hours to prayer, not because he loved God and hoped through prayer to
enter into communion with Him, but because he feared the devil and
hoped God would deliver him from the Evil One.

He knew many prayers and was especially versed in the technique of the
poses and gestures of worship. He knew how to move his lips, how to
roll his eyes, when it was proper to place the hands palm inward, and
when they were to be lifted up, when to be moved with feeling, and when
to stand with reverential calm and slowly make the sign of the cross.
Even his eyes and his nostrils moistened at the proper moments. But
prayer did not rejuvenate him, did not ennoble his feelings, or bring
a single ray into his dull existence. He could pray and go through all
the requisite bodily movements, and at the same time be looking out
of the window to see if someone was entering the cellar without his
permission. It was quite a distinct, particular function of life, which
was self-sufficient and could exist outside of the general scheme of

When Petenka entered the study, Porfiry Vladimirych was on his knees
with his hands raised. He did not change his position, but made a
jerky movement with one of his hands to indicate that he had not yet
finished. Petenka seated himself in the dining-room, where the table
was already set for tea, and waited. The half hour that passed seemed
like eternity, especially as he was sure his father was prolonging
the wait intentionally. The studied coolness with which he had armed
himself little by little gave way to vexation. At first he sat stiff,
then began to walk to and fro, and finally fell to whistling airs. As
a result, the door of the study opened, and Yudushka's irritated voice
was heard calling:

"Whoever wants to whistle may do so in the stables."

After a while Porfiry Vladimirych came out clad all in black, in
clean linen, as if prepared for a solemn occasion. His countenance was
radiant, glowing, breathing meekness and joy, as if he had just been at
communion. He approached his son, made the sign of the cross over him,
and then kissed him.

"Good morning, friend," he said.

"Good morning."

"Did you sleep well? Was your bed made properly? Were there no little
fleas and bedbugs to bother you?"

"Thank you. I slept well."

"Well, thanks to God, if you slept well. It's only at one's parents'
home that one can sleep really well. I know it from my own experience.
No matter how comfortable I might be at St. Petersburg, I could never
sleep so well as at Golovliovo. You feel just as if you were rocked in
a cradle. So what are we going to do? Shall we have some tea first, or
do you want to say something now?"

"Let's talk it over now. I have to leave in six hours, and maybe we'll
need some time for deliberation."

"Oh, well. But, my dear, I tell you directly, I never deliberate, my
answer is always ready. If your request is a proper one, well, I never
refuse anything proper. It may be hard on me at times, and I can't
always afford it, but if it is proper, I can't refuse it. That's the
kind of man I am. But if you ask for something that isn't right, I am
sorry. Though I feel for you, I shall have to refuse. You observe, my
son, I have no underhand ways. I am exactly as you see me. Well, then,
let's go into the study. Speak and I will listen. Let's hear, let's
hear what the matter is."

On entering the study, Porfiry left the door ajar and instead of
seating himself and asking his son to be seated, he began pacing the
room, as if instinctively feeling that the matter was delicate and it
would be easier to discuss it while walking. The expression of one's
face may be more easily concealed, and if the conversation takes a
disagreeable turn it may be more readily cut off, and the door half
ajar makes it possible to appeal to witnesses; for mother dear and
Yevpraksia were sure to come into the dining-room before long to have

"Papa," blurted out Petenka, "I lost some crown money at cards."

Yudushka said nothing, but his lips quivered, and he immediately fell
to muttering, as was his habit.

"I lost three thousand," explained Petenka, "and if I don't return
the money the day after tomorrow, there may be very disagreeable
consequences for me."

"Well, refund the money," said Porfiry Vladimirych affably.

Father and son made a few turns around the room in silence. Petenka
wished to make further explanations, but felt a lump rising in his

"Yes, but where am I to get the money from?" he said at last.

"My dear friend, I don't know your resources. Pay it back from the
resources you figured on when you gambled crown money away."

"You know very well that in such cases people forget about their

"I don't know a thing, my friend. I never played cards, except with
mother, when I play fool to amuse the old woman. And please don't drag
me into this dirty business, and let's go and have tea. We'll have tea
and sit around, maybe we'll talk about something, but, for the Lord's
sake, not about that."

Yudushka started to make for the door and into the dining-room, but
Petenka stopped him.

"Look here," he said, "I have to get out of this predicament somehow."

Yudushka grinned and stared at Petenka.

"Yes, my dear, you have to," he agreed.

"Then help me."

"Ah, that's a different matter. You have to get out of the difficulty
somehow, to be sure, but how to get out of it--well, that's none of my

"But why don't you want to help me?"

"First, because I have no money to cover up your dastardly deeds, and
secondly because the entire matter does not concern me in the least.
You knew how to get in, then know how to get out. The cat likes fish,
then let her wet her feet. You see, my boy, that's just what I said at
the start, that if your request is a proper one----"

"I know. You've got a lot of words on the tip of your tongue."

"Wait, save your impudent remarks, and let me say what I wish to say.
That they are not mere words I'll prove to you in a minute. So, as I
said a while ago, if your request is a proper, a sensible one, all
right, my boy. I am always ready to satisfy you. But if you come to
me with an unreasonable request, I am very sorry, I have no money for
stuff and nonsense. No sir, never. And you won't get any--you may as
well be sure of it. And don't dare tell me I use mere words. My words
are mighty near deeds."

"But think what will become of me."

"Whatever pleases God, that will happen," answered Yudushka, slightly
lifting up his arms and looking sideways at the ikon.

Father and son again made a few turns across the room. Yudushka paced
reluctantly, as if in complaint that his son was holding him in
captivity. Petenka, his arms akimbo, followed him, biting his moustache
and smiling nervously.

"I am your last son," he said. "Don't forget that."

"My boy, God bereft Job of everything, and Job did not complain, but
only said: 'God hath given and God hath taken away--may thy will be
done, oh, Lord!' So, my boy."

"In the Bible it was God that took, and here you take away from
yourself. Volodya----"

"Oh, well, you are talking nonsense."

"No, it isn't nonsense, it's the truth. Everybody knows that

"No, no, no! I don't want to listen to your preposterous remarks.
Enough! You've said everything necessary. I have given you my answer.
And now let's go and have tea. We'll chat a while, then we'll have a
bite, then a drink before you go--and then God speed you! You see how
good the Lord is to you? The weather has abated and the road become
smoother. Little by little, bit by bit, one, two, and you'll hardly
notice when you get to the station."

"Now, listen, I implore you. If you have a drop of feeling----"

"No, no, no! Don't let us talk about it. Let's go into the dining-room.
I dare say mother dear must be dull without her tea. It isn't proper to
keep the dear old woman waiting."

Yudushka made a sharp turn and almost ran to the door.

"You may go or not, it's all the same to me, but I am not going to drop
this conversation," Petenka shouted after him. "It will be worse if we
begin talking in the presence of witnesses."

Yudushka came back and planted himself squarely before his son.

"What do you want of me, you scoundrel? Speak up!"

"I want you to pay the money that I lost."


"Is that your last word?"

"You see," exclaimed Yudushka solemnly, pointing at the ikon that hung
in the corner, "You see that? It is grandfather's benediction. So, in
the presence of that image I say, Never!"

And with a firm step he left the study.

"Murderer!" was hurled after him.


Arina Petrovna was already at the table, and Yevpraksia was busy
arranging the tea things. The old woman was silent and thoughtful, and
looked as if she were ashamed of Petenka. In the customary way Yudushka
kissed her hand, and she made the sign of the cross over him. Then came
the usual questions, whether everybody felt well, and had had a good
night's rest, followed by the customary monosyllabic answers. Petenka's
asking Arina Petrovna for money and awakening the memory of the "curse"
had put her into a state of peculiar uneasiness. She was pursued by the
thought, "What if I threaten him with my curse?" When she had heard
that explanations in the study had begun, she had turned to Yevpraksia
with the request:

"Suppose, my dear, you go to the door quietly and listen to what they

Yevpraksia went to eavesdrop, but was so stupid she could understand

"Oh, they're just having a chat," she explained upon her return.

Then Arina Petrovna could not hold out any longer and went to the
dining-room, where the samovar had already been brought in. But the
interview was nearing its end, and all she noted was that Petenka's
voice was loud and angry, and Porfiry Vladimirych's replies were given
in a nagging voice.

"He's nagging him, that just it, nagging!" ran in her head. "I remember
he used to nag that way, and how is it I did not understand him then?"

At last, father and son appeared in the dining-room. Petenka's face
was red and he was breathing heavily. His eyes were staring widely,
his hair was disheveled, his forehead was covered with beads of
perspiration. Yudushka, on the contrary, entered pale and cross.
He wanted to appear indifferent but, in spite of all his efforts,
his lower lip trembled. He could hardly utter the customary morning
greetings to his mother dear.

All took their places at the table. Petenka seated himself at some
distance, leaned against the back of his chair, crossed his legs,
lighted a cigarette, and looked at his father ironically.

"You see, mother, the storm has abated," Yudushka began. "Yesterday
there was such an uproar, but God only had to will it, and here we have
a nice, bright, quiet day. Am I right, mother dear?"

"I don't know. I haven't been out to-day."

"By the way, we are going to see our dear guest off," continued
Yudushka. "I rose early this morning, looked out of the window--it
was still and quiet outdoors, as if God's angel had flown by and in a
moment allayed the riot with his wings."

But no one answered Yudushka's kindly words. Yevpraksia sipped her tea
from the saucer, blowing and puffing. Arina Petrovna looked into her
cup and was silent. Petenka, swaying in his chair, continued to eye
his father with an ironical, defiant air, as if he had to exert great
efforts to keep from bursting out laughing.

"Even if Petenka does not ride fast, he will reach the railway station
toward night," Porfiry Vladimirych resumed. "Our horses are not
overworked. They will feed for a couple of hours at Muravyevo, and they
will get him to the place in a jiffy. Ah, Petka, you are a bad boy!
Suppose you stay with us a while longer--really. We would enjoy your
company, and you would improve greatly in a week."

But Petenka continued to sway in his chair and eye his father.

"Why do you stare at me?" Yudushka flared up at last. "Do you see
pictures on me?"

"I'm just looking at you waiting for what's coming next."

"No use waiting, my son. It will be as I said. I will not change my

A minute of silence followed, after which a whisper could be distinctly


Porfiry Vladimirych undoubtedly heard it, he even turned pale, but he
pretended the exclamation did not concern him.

"Ah, my dear little children," he said. "I should like to caress and
fondle you, but it seems it can't be done--ill luck! You run away from
your parents, you've got bosom friends who are dearer to you than
father and mother. Well, it can't be helped. One ponders a bit over it,
then resigns oneself. You are young folk, and youth, of course, prefers
the company of youth to that of an old grouch. So, I resign myself and
don't complain. I only pray to Our Father in Heaven, 'Do Thy will, oh

"Murderer!" Petenka whispered, but this time so distinctly that Arina
Petrovna looked at him in fright. Something passed before her eyes. It
looked like the shadow of Simple Simon.

"Whom do you mean?" asked Yudushka, trembling with excitement.

"Oh, just an acquaintance of mine."

"I see. Well, you'd better make that clear. Lord knows what's in your
head. Maybe it is one of us that you style so."

Everybody became silent. The glasses of tea remained untouched.
Yudushka leaned against the back of his chair, swaying nervously.
Petenka, seeing that all hope was gone, had a sensation of deadly
anguish, under the influence of which he was ready to go to any
lengths. But father and son looked at each other with an indescribable
smile. Hardened though Porfiry Vladimirych was, the minute was nearing
when he would be unable to control himself.

"You'd better go, while the going's good," he burst out, finally. "You
better had."

"I'm going."

"Then why wait? I see you're trying to pick a quarrel, and I don't
want to quarrel with anybody. We live here quietly and in good order,
without disputes. Your old grandmother is here. You ought to have
regard for her at least. Well, tell us why you came here?"

"I told you why."

"If it's only for that, you are wasting your efforts. Go at once, my
son. Hey, who's there? Have the horses ready for the young master. And
some fried chicken, and caviar, and other things, eggs, I suppose. Wrap
them up well in paper. You'll take a bite at the station, my son, while
they feed the horses. Godspeed!"

"No, I am not going yet. I'm going to church first to have a memorial
service performed for the murdered servant of God, Vladimir."

"That is, for the suicide."

"No, for the murdered."

Father and son stared at each other. It looked as if in a moment both
would jump up. But Yudushka made a superhuman effort and, turning his
chair, faced the table again.

"Wonderful!" he said in a strained voice. "Wonderful!"

"Yes, for the murdered!" Petenka persisted brutally.

"Who murdered him?" Yudushka asked with curiosity, still hoping,
apparently, that his son would come to his senses.

But Petenka, unperturbed, whipped out:



Porfiry Vladimirych was astounded. It was a few moments before he came
to himself. He rose hastily from his seat, faced the ikon and began to

"You, you, you!" Petenka repeated.

"Well, now! Thank God, I feel better after praying," said Yudushka,
seating himself at table again. "Just a minute, though. I, as your
father, should not take you up on your talk, but we'll pursue the
matter this time. Then you mean to say that I killed Volodenka?"

"Yes, you did."

"And I beg leave to differ. I consider he shot himself. At that time
I was at Golovliovo and in St. Petersburg. So what could I have to do
with it? How could I kill him when he was seven hundred versts away?"

"As if you don't understand!"

"I don't understand, by the Lord, I don't!"

"And who left Volodya without a penny? Who discontinued his allowances?

"Stuff and nonsense! Why did he marry against his father's will?"

"But you gave him your permission."

"Who? I? What are you talking about? I never did anything of the kind.

"Oh, of course, you acted as you always do. Everyone of your words has
ten meanings. Go, guess the right one."

"I never gave my permission. He wrote to me, 'Papa, I want to marry
Lida,' you understand, 'I want to,' not 'I beg your permission.' Well,
I answered him, 'If you want to marry, you can marry. I cannot stand in
your way.' That's all there was to it."

"That's all there was to it," Petenka said jeeringly. "And wasn't that
giving your permission?"

"That's exactly what it wasn't. What did I say? I said, 'I cannot stand
in your way.' That's all. But whether I give my permission or not, is
a different question. He did not ask my permission, he simply wrote,
'Papa, I want to marry Lida.' Well, and as to permission he kept mum.
You want to marry. Well, my friend, may God be with you, marry Lida or
Fida, I cannot stand in your way!"

"But you could leave him without a crust of bread. So why didn't you
write this way, 'I do not approve of your intention, and therefore,
though I will not hinder you, I warn you that you can not longer rely
on financial aid from me.' That, at least, would have been clear."

"No, I shall never permit myself to do such things, to make threats
against a grown son--never! I have a rule never to be in anybody's way.
If you want to marry--marry! Well, and as to consequences--I am sorry.
It was your business to foresee them yourself. That's why God gave you
reason. And as to me, brother, I don't like to thrust myself into other
people's affairs. I not only keep from meddling myself, but I don't
invite others to meddle in my affairs, I don't invite it, I don't, I
don't, I even forbid it! Do you hear me, you wicked, disrespectful son,
I f-o-r-b-i-d it!"

"You may forbid it, if you like, but you can't muzzle everybody."

"If at least he had repented! And if at least he had realized that he
offended his father! Well, you committed a folly--say you are sorry.
Ask forgiveness! 'Forgive me, dear papa, for the mortification I caused
you.' But he wouldn't!"

"But he did write to you. He made it clear to you that he had nothing
to live on, that he could not endure it any longer."

"That's not the kind of thing to write to a father. From a father one
asks pardon, that's all."

"He did so. He was so tortured that he begged forgiveness, too. He did
everything, he did."

"And even if he did, he was wrong. You ask forgiveness once, you see
your father does not forgive you, you ask again!"

"Oh, you!"

At this Petenka suddenly ceased swaying his chair, turned about, faced
the table and rested both elbows on it.

"And here I, too----" he whispered.

His face gradually became disfigured.

"And here I too----" he repeated, and burst into hysterical sobbing.

"Whose fault----"

But Yudushka had no chance to finish his sermon. At that moment
something quite unexpected took place. During their skirmish the man
had almost forgotten about Arina Petrovna. But she had not remained
an indifferent spectator. On the contrary, you could tell at a glance
that something quite unusual was taking place within her, and that
the moment perhaps had arrived when the ruthless vision of her entire
life appeared before her spiritual eye in a glaring light. Her face
livened up, her eyes widened and glittered, her lips moved as if they
were struggling to utter some word and could not. Suddenly, just at the
moment when Petenka's bitter weeping resounded in the dining-room she
rose heavily from her arm-chair, stretched her arms forward, and a loud
wail broke out from her breast.

"My cu-r-r-se upon you!"




Yudushka did not give the money to Petenka, though, kind father that
he was, he gave orders just before the moment of departure for some
chicken, veal and pie to be placed in the carriage. Then he went out
on the porch in the chilling wind to see his son off, and inquired
whether Petenka was seated comfortably and whether he had wrapped his
feet up well. Re-entering the house, he stood at the window in the
dining-room a long time making the sign of the cross and sending his
blessings after the vehicle that was carrying Petenka away. In a word,
he performed the farewell ceremony fittingly, as becomes good kinsfolk.

"Oh, Petka, Petka," he said, "you are a bad, bad son. Look at the
mischief you have done. My, my, my! And what could have been better
than to live on quietly and peacefully, nicely and easily with father
and old granny? But no! Crash! Bang! I am my own master, I've got a
head on my shoulders, too! Well, there's your head! My, what trouble!"

Not a muscle quivered in his wooden face, not a note in his voice
sounded like an appeal to a prodigal son. But, then, there was nobody
to hear his words, for Arina Petrovna was the only one beside himself
in the room, and as a result of the shock she had just gone through
she seemed to have lost all vitality, and sat near the samovar, her
mouth open, looking straight ahead, without hearing anything, without a
single thought in her mind.

Then life flowed on as usual, full of idle bustle and babbling.
Contrary to Petenka's expectations, Porfiry Vladimirych took the
maternal curse quite coolly and did not recede a hair's breadth from
the decision that had come from his head full-formed, as it were.

It is true he turned slightly pale and rushed toward his mother with a

"Mother, dear! Darling! Lord be with you! Be calm, dear! God is
merciful. All will be well."

But his words were expressive of alarm for her rather than for himself.
Her act had been so unexpected that Yudushka even forgot to pretend
to be frightened. Only last night his mother had been affectionate,
had jested, and played fool with Yevpraksia. Evidently, then, it
had all happened in a moment of sudden anger, and there was nothing
premeditated, nothing real about it all.

Indeed, he had been very much afraid of his mother's curse but he
had pictured it quite differently. In his idle mind he had built
an elaborate staging for the occasion, ikons, burning candles, his
mother standing in the center of the room, terrible, with a darkened
face as she hurled the curse. Then, thunder, candles going out, the
veil tearing asunder, darkness covering the earth, and above, amidst
the clouds the wrathful countenance of Jehovah illumined by a flash
of lightning. But nothing of the sort had happened, so his mother
had simply done something rash and silly. And she had had no reason
to curse him in earnest, because of late there had been no cause
for quarreling. Many changes had occurred since Yudushka expressed
his doubt as to whether a certain coach belonged to his mother dear
(Yudushka admitted to _himself_ that _then_ he had been wrong and
deserved damnation). Arina Petrovna had become more submissive, and
Porfiry Vladimirych had but one thought in his head: how to placate his
mother dear.

"The old woman is doing poorly, my, how poorly! At times she even
raves," he consoled himself. "The darling sits down to play fool and
before you know it, she dozes off."

In justice to Yudushka it must be admitted that his mother's
decrepitude gave him some alarm. Even he was not quite ready for her
death, had not made any plans, had had no time to make estimates--how
much capital mother had when she left Dubrovino, what that capital
might bring in annually, how much of the interest she had spent, and
how much she had added to the principal. In a word, he had not gone
through an infinity of useless trifles, without which he always felt as
if he were caught unawares.

"The old woman is hale and hearty," he would muse at times. "Still she
won't spend it all--impossible. When she shared us out, she had a neat
sum. Maybe she transferred some to the orphans. Oh, the old woman is
rich. Yes, she is."

But these musings were not so very serious, and vanished without
leaving an impress on his mind. The mass of daily trivialities was
already great, and there was as yet no urgent need to augment them by
the addition of new trivialities. Porfiry Vladimirych kept putting the
matter off, and did not realize it was time to begin until after the
damnation scene.

The catastrophe came sooner than he expected. On the second day after
Petenka's departure Arina Petrovna left for Pogorelka, and never again
visited Golovliovo. She spent a month in total solitude, keeping to her
room and scarcely exchanging a word with her servants. From force of
habit she rose early in the morning, sat down at her desk, and began
to play patience, but hardly ever brought the game to an end, and sat
in frozen rigidity--with her glazed eyes fixed on the window. What she
thought about or whether she thought at all, even the keenest judge of
the deep-lying mysteries of the human soul could not have divined. She
seemed to be trying to recollect something, perhaps how she came to be
within those walls, and could not. Alarmed by her mistress's silence,
Afimyushka would appear in the room, arrange the pillows lining her
easy-chair, and try to open a conversation on this or that, but
received only impatient monosyllabic replies.

Once or twice Porfiry Vladimirych came to Pogorelka, invited mother
dear to Golovliovo, tried to kindle her imagination with the prospect
of mushrooms, German carp, and the other allurements of Golovliovo, but
his overtures evoked nothing but an enigmatic smile.

One morning she tried to leave her bed as usual, but could not, though
she felt no particular pain, and complained of nothing. She took it,
apparently, as a matter of course, without any sign of alarm. The very
day before she had been sitting at the table and even walked, though
with difficulty, and now she was in bed "feeling indisposed." It was
even more comfortable. But Afimyushka became thoroughly frightened
and without the mistress's knowledge sent a messenger to Porfiry

Yudushka came early the next morning. Arina Petrovna was considerably
worse. He put the servants through a cross-examination as to what
mother had eaten and whether she had not overeaten. But Arina Petrovna
had eaten almost nothing for a whole month, and had refused all food
the previous day. Yudushka expressed his grief, waved his hands, and
like a good son, warmed himself at the oven in the maids' room so that
he would not bring the cold into the patient's room. At the same time
he began to give orders and make arrangements. He had an extraordinary
keenness for scenting death. He made inquiries as to whether the priest
was home and arranged that in case of emergency he should be sent for
at once. He informed himself where mother's chest with her papers was,
whether it was locked, and having satisfied himself concerning the
state of things, he called in the cook and ordered dinner for himself.

"I need but little," he said. "Have you got a chicken? Well, prepare
some chicken soup. If you have some cured beef, get a bit of cured beef
ready. Then something fried, and I'll have enough."

Arina Petrovna lay prostrate on her back with her mouth open, breathing
heavily. Her eyes were staring wide. One hand projected from under the
quilt of hare's fur and hung stiff. She was evidently alive to the
commotion incident upon her son's arrival, and perhaps his orders even
reached her ears. The lowered window-shades put the room in twilight.
The wicks were flickering their last at the bottom of the ikon lamps
and sputtered audibly at contact with the water. The air was close
and fetid, unbearably suffocating from the overheated stoves, the
sickening smell of the ikon lamps, and the breath of illness. Porfiry
Vladimirych, in his felt boots, glided to his mother's bed like a
snake. His tall, lean figure wrapped in twilight swayed uncannily.
Arina Petrovna with a look half of surprise and half of fright followed
his movements and huddled under her quilt.

"It is I, mother dear," he said. "What's the matter with you? You are
all out of gear today. My, my, my! No wonder I could not sleep all
night. Something seemed to urge me on. 'Let's go and see,' I thought,
'how our Pogorelka friends are getting along.' I got up in the morning,
hitched a couple of horses to the pony cart, and here I am!"

Porfiry Vladimirych tittered affably, but Arina Petrovna did not
answer, and drew herself together in a closer coil under her quilt.

"Well, God is merciful, mother dear," continued Yudushka. "The main
thing is to stand up for yourself. Don't put any stock in the ailment.
Get up and take a walk through the room, like a sound, hale person. You
see, just like this."

Porfiry Vladimirych rose from his seat and demonstrated how sound, hale
persons walk.

"Oh, just a moment. I'll raise the window-shade and take a good look
at you. Oh, but you are first rate, my darling. Just pluck up some
courage, say your prayers, doll up, get into your Sunday best, and
you'll be ready for a dance. There, I have brought you some jolly good
holy water, just taste some."

Porfiry Vladimirych took a flask out of his pocket, found a wine glass
on the table, filled it and gave it to the patient. Arina Petrovna made
an effort to lift her head, but in vain.

"I wish the orphans were here," she moaned.

"Well, much need you have of the orphans here. Oh, mother, mother! How
is it all of a sudden you--really! Just a little bad turn, and at
once you are ready to give up the ship. We'll attend to it all. We'll
send a special messenger to the orphans and we'll do everything else
in due time. Now, what's the hurry, really? We are going to live yet,
yes indeed we are. And we'll have a fine time of it, too. Wait till
summer is here, we'll both of us go to the woods to pick mushrooms,
and raspberries, and nice juicy black currants. Or else, we'll go
to Dubrovino to catch German carps. We'll bring out the horse and
carriage, get into it, and one, two, three--there we go. Nicely and

"I wish the orphans were here," repeated Arina Petrovna in anguish.

"We'll bring the orphans, too. Give us time. We'll call them together,
all of them. We'll all be here and sit by you. You will be the
brood-hen and we'll be your chicks. We'll have it all, if you behave.
Now you are a naughty girl, because you went and took sick. That's
the kind of mischief you're up to. My, my! Instead of being good and
serving as an example for others, look what you're doing. That's bad,
my dear, very bad."

But no matter how hard Porfiry Vladimirych tried to cheer up his mother
dear with banter, her strength waned from hour to hour. A messenger was
dispatched to town to fetch a doctor, and since the patient persisted
in moaning and calling the orphans, Yudushka in his own hand wrote
a letter to Anninka and Lubinka in which he compared his and their
conduct, called himself a Christian and them ungrateful. At night the
doctor arrived, but it was too late. Arina Petrovna's fate was sealed.
At about four o'clock in the morning the death agony set in and at six
Porfiry Vladimirych was kneeling at his mother's bed wailing:

"Mother dear! My friend! Give me your blessing!"

But Arina Petrovna did not hear him. Her wide-open eyes stared dimly
into space as if she were trying to understand something and could not.

Yudushka, too, did not understand. He did not understand that the
yawning grave was to carry off the last creature that linked him to the
living world.

With his usual bustle he delved into the mass of trifles and details
that were incident upon the ceremonial of burial. He had requiems
chanted, ordered memorial masses for the future, discussed matters
with the priest, hurried from room to room with his shambling gait.
Every now and then he peeped into the dining-room where the deceased
lay, crossed himself, lifted his hands heavenward, and late at night
stole quietly to the door to listen to the sexton's monotonous reading
of the Psalms. He was pleasantly surprised that his expenses upon the
occasions would be very slight, for Arina Petrovna long before her
death had put away a sum of money for her burial and itemized in detail
the various expenditures.

Having buried his mother, Porfiry Vladimirych at once began to
familiarize himself with her effects. Examining the papers he
found about a dozen various wills (in one of them she called him
"undutiful"); but all of them had been written when Arina Petrovna was
still the domineering, despotic mistress, and were incomplete--in the
form of tentative drafts.

So Yudushka was quite pleased that he had no need to play foul in order
to declare himself the sole legitimate heir to his mother's property.
The latter consisted of a capital of fifteen thousand rubles and of a
scanty movable estate which included the famous coach that had nearly
become the cause of dissension between mother and son. Arina Petrovna
kept her own accounts quite separate and distinct from those of her
wards, so that one could see at a glance what belonged to her and what
to the orphans. Yudushka lost no time in declaring himself heir at the
proper legal places. He sealed the papers bearing on the guardianship,
gave the servants his mother's scanty wardrobe, and sent the coach and
two cows to Golovliovo, which were placed in the inventory under the
heading "mine." Then he had the last requiem performed and went his way.

"Wait for the owners," he told the people gathered in the hallway to
see him off. "If they come, they'll be welcome; if they don't--just as
they please. For my part, I did all I could. I straightened out the
guardianship accounts and hid nothing. Everything was done in plain
view, in front of everybody. The money that mother left belongs to me
legally. The coach and the two cows that I sent to Golovliovo are mine
_by law._ Maybe some of my property is left _here._ However, I won't
insist on it. God Himself commands us to give to orphans. I am sorry to
have lost mother, she was a good old woman, a kindly soul. Oh, mother
dear, it was not right of you, darling, to have left us poor orphans.
But if it had pleased God to take you, it befits us to submit to His
holy will. May, at least, your soul rejoice in heaven, and as for
us--well, we are not to be considered."

The first death was soon followed by another.

Yudushka's attitude toward his son's fate was quite puzzling. Since he
did not receive newspapers and was not in correspondence with anybody,
he could not learn anything of the trial in which Petenka figured. And
he hardly wished to. Above all things, he shunned disturbance of every
kind. He was buried up to his ears in a swamp of petty details, all
centering around the welfare and preservation of his precious self.
There are many such people in this world. They live apart from the rest
of humanity, having neither the desire nor the knowledge to identify
themselves with a "cause," and bursting in the end like so many soap
bubbles. They have no ties of friendship, for friendship presupposes
the existence of common interests; nor do they have any business
connections. For thirty years at a stretch Porfiry Vladimirych had
marked time in a government office. Then, one fine day he disappeared,
and no one noticed the fact.

He learned of his son's fate after his domestics had. But even then
he feigned ignorance, so that when Yevpraksia once tried to mention
Petenka, he waved her off and said:

"No, no, no! I don't know, I did not hear anything, and I don't want to
hear anything. I don't want to know a thing about his dirty affairs."

But finally he did learn about Petenka. He received a letter from him
saying he was about to leave for one of the remote provinces and asking
his father to continue to send him an allowance in his new position.
The whole of the next day Porfiry Vladimirych was in a state of visible
perplexity. He darted from room to room, peeped into the oratory,
crossed himself, and sighed. But toward evening he plucked up courage
and wrote the following letter:

        "My criminal son Piotr:

        "As a faithful and law-abiding subject I should not even
        answer your letter. But as a father given to human weaknesses,
        I cannot, from a sense of compassion, refuse good advice to
        a child who, through his own fault, plunged himself into a
        whirlpool of evil.

        "Here, in short, is my opinion on the subject. The punishment
        that has been meted out to you is severe, but you quite deserve
        it. That is the first and most important consideration that
        should always accompany you in your new life from now on.
        All your other vagaries and even the memory thereof you must
        forget, for in your present situation all this will only tend
        to irritate you and urge you on to impious complaint. You have
        already tasted of the bitter fruits of haughtiness of spirit.
        Try now to taste of the fruits of humility, all the more so
        since there is nothing else left for you in the future. Do not
        complain of the punishment, for the authorities do not even
        punish you, but only provide means for your correction. To be
        grateful for this, and to endeavor to make amends for what
        you did--that is what you must incessantly bear in mind, and
        not the luxurious frittering away of time, which I myself, by
        the way, never did, although I was never under indictment.
        So follow this prudent advice of mine and turn over a new
        leaf, satisfied with what the authorities, in their kindness,
        will deem it necessary to allot to you. I, for my part, will
        pray the Giver of all things good to grant you firmness and
        humility. Even on the very day on which I write these lines I
        have been to church and offered up fervent prayers for you. And
        now, I bless you for the new journey and remain, your indignant
        but still loving father, Porfiry Golovliov."

It is uncertain whether the letter ever reached Petenka, but no more
than a month after it was sent, Porfiry Vladimirych was officially
notified that his son, while on his way to the place of exile, had
fallen ill and died in a hospital.

Yudushka remained alone, but at first did not realize that this
new loss had made his life an absolute void. The realization came
soon after the death of Arina Petrovna, when he was all absorbed in
reckoning and figuring. He read every paper of the deceased, took into
account every kopek, traced the relation of this kopek to the kopeks
of the guardianship, not wishing, as he put it, either to acquire
another's, or to lose his own. Amidst this bustle the question never
once arose in his mind: To what end was he doing all this, and who was
to enjoy the fruits of his busy hoarding?

From morning to night he bent over his desk musing and criticizing the
arrangements of the deceased. Engrossed in these cares he began little
by little to neglect the bookkeeping of his own estate.

The manor fell into profound silence. The domestics, who had always
preferred the servants' quarters, abandoned the house almost entirely,
and when in the master's rooms would walk on tiptoe and speak in a
whisper. There was an air of desertion and death about the place and
about the man, something eery. The gloom enveloping Yudushka was to
grow denser every day.


During Lent, when no theatrical performances were given, Anninka came
to Golovliovo. Lubinka had been unable to accompany her because she
had been engaged for the entire Lent and had gone to Romny, Izum,
Kremenchug, etc., where she was to give concerts and sing her entire
music-hall repertoire.

During her brief artistic career Anninka had greatly improved in looks.
She was no longer the simple, anæmic, somewhat sluggish girl who in
Dubrovino or Pogorelka had walked from room to room humming and swaying
awkwardly, as if she could not find a place for herself. She was now
quite developed, with confident, even dashing manners. At the very
first glance one could tell she was quick at repartee. The change in
her appearance gave Porfiry Vladimirych a pleasant surprise. Before him
stood a tall, well-built woman with a lovely pink complexion, high,
well-developed bust, full eyes, and abundant ash-colored hair, which
she wore braided low on her neck--a woman evidently aware of her own

She arrived at Golovliovo early in the morning and at once retired to a
room, from which she emerged in a splendid silk gown. She entered the
dining-room with a swish of her train, manipulating it skilfully among
the chairs. Though Yudushka loved God above all, it did not prevent him
from having a taste for beautiful and, especially, tall, plump women.
So he crossed Anninka first, then kissed her so emphatically on both
cheeks, casting queer glances at her bust meanwhile, that Anninka could
not refrain from smiling faintly.

They sat down at the tea table. Anninka raised her arms and stretched.

"Oh, uncle, how dull it is here!" she began, yawning slightly.

"There you are! Here only a minute and dull already. You stay with us
some time, then we'll see, perhaps you won't find it so dull after
all," answered Porfiry Vladimirych, his eyes suddenly taking on an oily

"No, there isn't an interesting thing here. What is there? Snow all
around, no neighbors. Is there a regiment quartered anywhere near here?"

"Yes, there is a regiment and there are neighbors; but, to tell the
truth, it doesn't interest me. Yet, if you----"

Porfiry Vladimirych looked at her and did not end his sentence, but
coughed. Perhaps he had stopped intentionally, wishing to excite
her feminine curiosity. At any rate the same faint smile as before
glided over her lips. She leaned her elbows on the table and looked
at Yevpraksia fixedly. The, girl all flushed, was drying the glasses,
casting sly glances at Anninka with her large, heavy eyes.

"My new housekeeper--very industrious," said Porfiry Vladimirych.

Anninka nodded slightly and began to purr softly:

_"Ah, ah! que j'aime--que j'aime--que j'aime--les
mili-mili-mili-taires!"_ and her hips quivered as she sang.

Silence set in, during which Yudushka, his eyes meekly lowered, sipped
his tea from a glass.

"My, it's dull!" said Anninka, yawning again.

"It's dull, and it's dull! You never get tired of saying that. You wait
a while, stay here a bit longer. We'll order the sleigh set to rights,
and you'll ride to your heart's content."

"Uncle, why didn't you become a hussar?"

"Because, my friend, every man has his station ordained by the Lord.
Some are to become hussars, others functionaries, others merchants;
some are----"

"Oh, yes, and so on, and so forth. Who can keep track of it all? And
God ordained all that, did He?"

"Why, yes, my friend, God. And it is not proper to scoff. Do you know
what the Scriptures say? 'Without the will of God----'"

"Is it about the hair? Yes, I know that, too. But the trouble is,
everybody wears false hair now, and I don't think that was foreseen.
By the way, uncle, look what wonderful braids I have! Don't you think
they're fine?"

Porfiry Vladimirych came nearer, for some reason, on tiptoe, and
fingered her braids for some time. And Yevpraksia, without relaxing her
hold on the saucer filled with tea and holding a bit of toast between
her teeth, leaned forward and said, "False, I suppose?"

"Oh, no, my own. Some day I'll let my hair down for you, uncle."

"Yes, your hair is fine," said Yudushka, his lips parting in a
repulsive smile. Then he recalled that one must turn his back on such
temptations and added, "Oh, you hoyden! Always thinking about braids
and trains, but you'd never think of inquiring about the main thing,
the real thing?"

"Oh, about grandmother? She is dead, isn't she?"

"Yes, my friend, she died. And how she died! Peacefully, calmly, not a
soul heard it. That's what I call a worthy end to one's earthly life.
She thought of everybody, gave everybody her blessing, called a priest,
received her last communion, and suddenly became so calm, so calm! Then
she began to sigh. Sighed once, twice, three times, and before we knew
it, she was no more."

Yudushka rose, turned toward the ikon, folded his hands, and offered up
a prayer. Tears rose to his eyes, so well did he simulate. But Anninka
apparently was not of the sentimental kind. It is true she remained
pensive for a while but for quite a different reason.

"Do you remember, uncle, how she used to feed my sister and me on sour
milk when we were little ones? Not later. Later she was splendid. I
mean when she was still rich."

"Oh, well, let bygones be bygones. She fed you on sour milk, but you
look none the worse for it, may the Lord be with you. Do you think you
would care to visit her grave?"

"Yes, I wouldn't mind."

"But you know, it would be well if you purified yourself first."

"What do you mean, purified?"

"You know--an actress. You think it was easy for the old woman? So
before you go to her grave I think you should attend a mass to purify
yourself, you know. You see, I'll order a mass early tomorrow morning,
and then--Godspeed!"

Absurd as Yudushka's proposition was, it confused Anninka for a minute.
But she soon knitted her brows angrily and said sharply:

"No, I'll go now--as I am!"

"Well, I don't know, do as you please. But my advice is: let's attend
the mass tomorrow morning, then take tea and have a pair of swift
little horses hitched to a pony cart, and then go together. You see,
you would become cleansed of your sins, and your grandmother's soul

"Oh, uncle, how foolish you are, though. Lord knows what nonsense you
talk. And you even insist on it."

"So you don't like it? Well, don't hold it against me, my dear. I am
straight from the shoulder, you know. When it comes to truth, I'll
tell it to others and take it from others as well. Though at times it
goes against the grain, though truth is hard at times, but I'll always
listen to it. And one must listen to it, because--it's the truth. So,
my dear. You stay with us a while and live the way we do. Then you'll
see that it's better than going with a guitar from fair to fair."

"Heaven knows what you're talking about, uncle. 'With a guitar!'"

"Well, if it isn't a guitar, then it's a bagpipe or something. Besides,
you offended me first, called me foolish. So I, an old man, surely have
a right to tell you the truth to your face."

"All right, let it be the truth. We won't argue about it. But tell me,
please, did grandmother leave anything?"

"Why, of course, she did. But the legitimate heir was present in

"That is you. All the better. Was she buried here in Golovliovo?"

"No, near Pogorelka, at the St. Nicholas Church. It was her own wish."

"I'll go. Can I hire horses here, uncle?"

"Why hire? I've got my own. You are not a stranger, I dare say, a
niece, my little niece."

Porfiry Vladimirych began to liven up, and put on an _en famille_ grin.
"A pony cart, a pair of fine little horses--thank God, I am not poor, I
dare say! And wouldn't it be well for me to go with you? We would visit
the grave, you see, and then would go to Pogorelka and peep in here and
there, and we would think matters over, talk things over--about this
and that. Yours is a fine little estate, you know. It has some very
good spots."

"No, I'll go alone, I think. Why should you go? By the way, Petenka's
dead, too, I hear?"

"Yes, my dear friend, Petenka is dead, too. I am sorry for him in
one way, very sorry--to the point of tears; but then--it was all his
own fault. He was always disrespectful to his father, that's why God
punished him. And what God, in His great wisdom, did, you and I cannot

"Of course, we can't. But what makes me wonder is, why you don't find
it too horrible to live."

"Why should I fear? You see how much succor I have all around."
Yudushka made a gesture, pointing to the ikons. "Succor here and succor
in my study. The ikon room is a veritable paradise. You see how many
protectors I have."

"But still, you are always alone. It's frightful."

"And if I am afraid, I fall on my knees, say a prayer, and the fear is
all gone. And why be afraid? It's light during the day, and at night
I have ikon lamps burning in every room. From outside in the dark it
looks as if there were a ball in the house. And what ball? Who are the
guests? Holy protectors, God's chosen. Those are my guests!"

"You know, Petenka wrote to us before his death."

"Well, of course, he is a relative. It's a good thing he did not lose
his feelings of kinship."

"Yes, he wrote to us. It was after the trial, when sentence had been
pronounced. He wrote he had lost three thousand rubles in cards and you
would not give him the money. But you are rich, uncle, aren't you?"

"Ah, my dear, it's easy to count money in another man's pocket.
Sometimes we think a man has mountains of gold, and when you come
closer you see he has barely enough for oil and a candle--not for
himself--for God."

"Well, then, we are richer than you. We gave some of our own money
and took up a collection among our gentlemen friends. We scraped six
hundred rubles together and sent it to him."

"What do you mean 'gentlemen friends?'"

"Oh, uncle, we are actresses, you know. Didn't you yourself suggest
that I purify myself?"

"I don't like it when you speak that way."

"What can you do? Whether you like it or not, you can't undo what has
been done. According to you, God is in that, too."

"Don't blaspheme at least. You may say anything you want, but don't
blaspheme. I won't stand for it. Where did you send the money to?"

"I don't remember. To a little town of some sort. He wrote us the name."

"I didn't know. If there was money, I should have gotten it after his
death. It is not possible that he spent it all at once. Well, I don't
know, I didn't get any. I suppose the jailers and guards were on to it."

"I'm not asking for it, uncle. I just mentioned it while we were on the
subject. It's awful, uncle, for a man to perish on account of three
thousand rubles."

"It wasn't all on account of the three thousand. Haven't you something
else to say than to keep on repeating 'three thousand, three thousand?'
But God----"

Yudushka had got his cue and was about to explain in detail
how God--Providence--by unseen ways--and all that, but Anninka
unceremoniously yawned and said:

"Oh, uncle, how boring it is here."

This time Porfiry Vladimirych was truly offended and became silent.
For a long time they both paced up and down the dining room. Anninka
yawned, Porfiry Vladimirych crossed himself at every step. At last the
carriage was announced and the usual comedy of seeing relations off
began. Golovliov put on his fur coat, went out on the porch, kissed
Anninka and shouted to the servants, "Her feet! Wrap up her feet well!"
and "What about the blankets, have you taken the blankets along? See
you don't forget them!" all the while making signs of the cross in the

Anninka visited her grandmother's grave, asked the priest to say the
mass, and when the choir began to chant the "Eternal memory," she cried
a bit. The background of the ceremony was rather sad. The church near
which Arina Petrovna had been buried was of the poorest kind. In some
places the plaster had fallen off its walls and exposed large patches
of brick. The sound of the bells was feeble and hollow, the priest's
robe was threadbare. The cemetery was snowed under, so that the path to
the grave had to be shovelled clear. No monument had yet been placed.
Nothing but a plain white cross, even without an inscription, marked
the grave. The cemetery was in a lonely spot removed from any dwelling.
Not far from the church stood the houses of the priest and the church
officials and all around the cheerless, snow-covered plains stretched
as far as the eye could reach. Here and there one could see brushwood
jutting out from the snow. A sharp March wind was sweeping over the
churchyard, wafting away the chanting of the churchmen and lashing the
priest's robe.

"Who would have thought, madam, that the richest landlady in the
district would rest here under this modest cross in our poor parish?"
said the priest when he was through with the requiem.

At these words Anninka cried again. She recalled the poet's line:
"Where feasts once reigned a hearse now stands!" And the tears kept
streaming down her cheeks. Then she went to the priest's house, had tea
there, and talked with his wife. Another line came back to her: "And
pallid death on all doth stare," and again she wept, long and bitterly.

Nobody had notified the people at Pogorelka that the young lady was
coming, so that the rooms were not even heated. Anninka, with her
fur coat on, walked through all the rooms, remaining a moment in
grandmother's bedroom and the ikon room. In the former she found
a bedstead with a heap of soiled, greasy pillows, some without
pillow-cases. Scraps of paper lay on the desk in disorder, the floor
had not been swept and a thick coat of dust covered everything. Anninka
sat down in the easy-chair where her grandmother used to sit, and
became lost in thought. At first came up reminiscences of the past;
then they were crowded out by images of the present. The former came in
the shape of fleeting patches and fragments, pausing in her mind for no
more than a moment; the latter were more persistent. It was but a brief
while ago that she had longed to flee from Pogorelka and it had seemed
a hateful place. Now her heart suddenly filled with a morbid desire to
live there again.

"It is quiet here, it is not cozy, and it is unsightly; but it is
quiet, so quiet, as if everything around were dead. There is much air
and much room."

She looked out over the endless fields and felt a desire to dash
straight across them, without aim or purpose, just to breathe fast
and feel a pain in her chest. And _there,_ in the half-nomadic life
from which she had just escaped and to which she _must_ return--what
awaited her there? What had she gained by it? Nothing but recollections
of hotels permeated with stench, of an everlasting din coming from
the dining and billiard rooms, of unkempt porters, of rehearsals on
the stage in the twilight and among the scenes of painted linen, the
feel of which was abominable, in the draught and in the dampness. And
then, army officers, lawyers, obscene language, and the eternal uproar!
What hadn't the men told her! With what obscenity hadn't they touched
her! Especially the one with the mustache, with a voice hoarse from
drink, inflamed eyes, and a perpetual smell of the stable about him.
Lord, what he had told her! Anninka shivered at the very recollection
and shut her eyes. Then she came to, sighed, and went into the ikon
room. There were now only a few ikons in the image-case, only those
which had unquestionably belonged to her mother. The rest of them,
her grandmother's, Yudushka, as the legitimate heir, had removed to
Golovliovo. The empty spaces where they had stood stared like the
hollow eye-sockets in a deathshead. Nor were there any ikon lamps.
Yudushka had taken all of them. Only one yellow bit of wax candle
stood out, orphan-like, from a miniature tin candlestick that had been

"His Excellency wanted to take the image case, too. He was trying
to make sure if it really was a part of madam's dowry," reported

"Well, he could have taken it. Tell me, Afimyushka, did grandma suffer
much before she died?"

"No, not much, she was laid up for only a day or so. She just went out,
of her own self. She wasn't really sick or anything. She didn't talk
either, just mentioned you and your sister once or twice."

"So Porfiry Vladimirych carried off the ikons?"

"Yes, he did. He said they were his mother's personal property. He also
took the coach and two cows. From the mistress's papers he gathered, I
suppose, that they belonged to your grandmother, not to you. He also
wanted to take away a horse, but Fedulych would not give it to him.
'It's our horse,' he said, 'an old-timer in Pogorelka.' So Porfiry
Vladimirych left it here. He was afraid."

Anninka walked through the yard, peeped into the servants' quarters,
the barn, and the cattle yard. In a swamp of manure stood about twenty
lean cows and three horses. She ordered some bread to be brought,
saying, "I'll pay for it," and gave every cow a piece of bread.

Then the cattle-house woman invited the young lady into the house.
There was a jug of milk on the table, and in the corner near the oven,
behind a low wainscot screening, a new-born calf was sheltered.

Anninka tasted some milk, ran to the little calf, kissed his snout,
but quickly wiped her lips, saying the calf had a horrid snout,
all slabbery. At the end, she produced three yellow bills from her
pocketbook, distributed them to the old domestics, and prepared to go.

"What are you going to do?" she asked, while she made herself
comfortable in the pony cart, of old Fedulych, who, as the _starosta,_
followed the young owner, with his hands crossed on his breast.

"Well, what can we do? We'll live," answered Fedulych simply.

Anninka became sad again for a moment. There seemed to be irony in
Fedulych's words. She waited a while, sighed, and said:

"Well, good-by."

"We thought that you would come back and live with us," said Fedulych.

"No, what's the use? Anyway--you live on!"

Tears flowed from her eyes again and the others cried, too. It seemed
peculiar to her; there was nothing to regret in leaving the place,
nothing sentimental to remember it by, and yet she was crying. And
those people, too. She had not said anything out of the ordinary to
them--just the usual questions and answers--and yet their hearts were
heavy, they were sorry to see her go. She was seated in the cart,
wrapped up and well covered. Everybody heaved a sigh. "Good luck!" came
running after her when the cart started. Passing the churchyard she
stopped again and went to the grave alone without the ecclesiastics,
following the path that had been cleared. It was quite dark, and
lights began to appear in the houses of the church officials. She
stood there with one hand holding on to the cross rising from the
grave. She did not cry, but only swayed slightly, thinking of nothing
in particular, unable to formulate any definite thought. But she was
unhappy, in every way unhappy. Not because of grandmother, but on her
own account. So she stood for a quarter of an hour, and suddenly before
her eyes rose the image of Lubinka, who perhaps at that very moment was
singing merrily in a rollicking company, somewhere in Kremenchug:

  "_Ah, ah, que j'aime, que j'aime!
   Que j'aime, les mili-mili-mili-taires!"_

She almost broke down. She ran to her cart, seated herself, and ordered
the coachman to drive to Golovliovo as fast as possible.


When Anninka returned to her uncle's, she was dull and silent, though
she did feel a bit hungry (in the hurry, uncle had not given her some
chicken to take along) and was very glad the table was already set for
tea. Of course, Porfiry Vladimirych was not slow to open a conversation.

"Well, were you there?"

"Yes, I was."

"Did you pray at the grave? Did you have the requiem sung?"


"So the priest was at home?"

"Of course he was, or who would have performed the requiem?"

"Oh, yes, certainly. And the two sextons, were they there? Did they
sing: 'Eternal memory?'"

"Yes, they did."

"Yes, eternal memory! May she rest in peace. She was a good, kind

Yudushka rose from his seat, faced the ikon and offered up a prayer.

"Well, and how did you find things in Pogorelka, everything in good

"I don't know, really. I think everything is in its proper place."

"Indeed, 'I think.' You always 'think,' but when you take a good look
you find this is wrong and that is wrong. That's how we judge of other
people's business. We 'think' and we 'guess!' But anyway, you've got
a nice little estate. My late mother fixed it all up very nicely. She
even spent a good deal of her own money on it. Well, it's only right to
help orphans along."

Listening to these chants of praise, Anninka could not refrain from
teasing her kindhearted uncle.

"Uncle, why did you take two cows away from Pogorelka?" she asked.

"Cows, what cows? Oh, you mean the black and the spotted one? Well, my
dear, they belonged to my mother."

"And you are her legitimate heir? Oh, well, you can have them. Do you
want me to send you a little calf? I will, if you want me to."

"Now, there! Look at her getting excited! Let's talk business, whom do
you think the cows belong to?"

"How do I know? They were in Pogorelka."

"And I do know. I have proof that the cows belonged to mother. I found
a memorandum written in her own hand. 'Mine,' is plainly written there."

"Oh, let's drop it. It isn't worth talking about."

"There's a pony at Pogorelka, too, little old Baldy, you know. Well,
about Baldy I am not sure. I think Baldy belonged to mother, but I'm
not sure. And I can't speak of what I don't know."

"Let's drop it, uncle."

"No, why drop it? I'm straight from the shoulder, my dear, I like to
bring out the truth of things. Why not talk it over? Nobody wants to
part with his own. I don't, you don't. Well, then, let's talk it over
and see who's right. And when it comes to talking, I'll tell you
plainly: I don't want what's yours and I won't let go of mine, either.
Because, though you are not a stranger to me, still I----"

"And you even took the ikons," Anninka could not refrain from remarking.

"Yes, the ikons, too. I took everything that belonged to me by law."

"Now the image case looks as if it has holes in it."

"What can you do? You'll have to pray before it as it is. God, you
know, does not want your image case, but your prayers. If you are
sincere about it, your prayer will reach Him, even if it's done before
poor ikons. And if you just pray without meaning it, and look around
and make a courtesy, then the best images will be of no avail."

Nevertheless, Yudushka rose and offered thanks to God for the fact that
his images were "good."

"Well, and if you don't like the old image case, have a new one built
and put in new ikons instead of those taken out. My deceased mother
acquired the old ikons at her own cost, and now it's up to you to get
new ones."

Porfiry Vladimirych even tittered, so clear and simple did his
reasoning seem to him.

"But tell me, please, what am I to do now?" Anninka asked.

"Well, wait a while. Rest up first, loll around, get some sleep. We'll
talk the matter over and examine it from every angle, and we'll see
what can be done. Both of us together may think up something."

"Sister and I are of age, I think?"

"Yes, of age. Quite so. You can now manage yourself and your estate."

"Thank God at least for that."

"I have the honor to congratulate you."

Porfiry Vladimirych rose to kiss her.

"How funny you are, uncle, always kissing."

"Why shouldn't I kiss you? You are not a stranger, I may say, you are
my niece. I like kinsfolk, my dear. I am always for my relatives, near
or distant, second, third, or fourth cousins, I'm always with them."

"You'd better tell me what I am to do. Must I go to town and see all
the officials?"

"Yes, and we'll go to town and we'll attend to the matter--all in due
time. But before we do that, rest up a bit. Stay here a while. You are
not stopping at an inn but at your uncle's, I may say. You'll have
enough to eat and drink, and for your sweet tooth we've got plenty of
everything. If you don't like a dish, ask for a different one. Demand,
insist! If you don't care for cabbage soup, ask for chicken soup. Order
cutlets, duck, pork. Get after Yevpraksia. Here I boasted about pork
and I don't really know if we've got any. Have we?"

Yevpraksia, holding the saucer with the hot tea to her mouth, nodded

"Well, you see, we've got pork too, and all in all you can have
whatever your heart desires."

Yudushka approached Anninka again and like a good relative clapped her
on the knee and quite inadvertently let his hand rest there a little,
so that Anninka instinctively recoiled.

"But I've got to go," she said.

"That's just what I've been saying. We'll discuss matters and talk
things over and then we'll go with a prayer and a benediction, but
not--hop! jump! run! The more haste the less speed. You may hurry to a
fire, but our house is not ablaze. Well, Lubinka has got to hurry to
the fair, but what is your hurry? Another thing I meant to ask you, Are
you going to live in Pogorelka?"

"No, there's nothing for me to do there."

"That's just what I was going to say. Move here, to my house. We'll
live here and have a fine time of it."

Yudushka looked at Anninka with such oily eyes that she became

"No, uncle, I don't want to stay here with you. It's too dull."

"Oh, you silly little thing! Why do you keep repeating 'dull, dull?'
You speak of dullness and I'll bet you don't know what's dull around
here. If you have something to keep you busy, and if you know how to
manage yourself, you'll never feel dull. Take me, for example, I don't
notice how time flies. On week days I'm busy with the affairs of the
estate. I look at this and take a peep into that, and figure out one
thing and discuss another thing. Before I know it, the day is gone.
And on a holiday--to church! You will do the same thing. Stay with us
for a while. We'll find something for you to do. In your leisure time
you may play fool with Yevpraksia, or go sleigh-riding--slide along as
fast as you wish. And when summer comes we'll go to the woods picking
mushrooms. And we'll have tea on the lawn."

"No, uncle, it's no use trying to persuade me."

"Really, you ought to stay."

"No. But the journey has tired me, so I should like to go to bed if

"Yes, you can go rock-a-by. I've got a nice little bed ready for you,
everything in proper fashion. If you want to go rock-a-by, go right
ahead. But I should advise you to think the matter over. I think it
would be best for you to stay with us at Golovliovo."


Anninka spent a restless night. The hysterical mood that had overtaken
her at Pogorelka still persisted. There are moments when a person
who has been merely existing suddenly realizes that there is a vile
ulcer of some kind festering in his life. Where it came from, how it
formed itself--one cannot always explain to oneself. In most cases it
is not ascribed to the causes that have really brought it on. But an
explanation is not even needed. It is sufficient that such an ulcer
exists. The effects of such a sudden discovery, while equally painful
to everyone, vary in their practical results, with the individual's
temperament. Some are rejuvenated and inspired with a determination to
begin a new life on new foundations. Others feel but a passing pain
that will not bring a profound change for the better, but is even
sharper than when the disturbed conscience sees the faint hope of a
brighter future.

Anninka was not of those in whom the consciousness of ulcers produces
the impulse to rejuvenation. Nevertheless, she realized, being an
intelligent person, that there was an abyss between the vague dreams
of honest toil which had impelled her to leave Pogorelka forever and
her position of provincial actress. Instead of a life of quiet and
toil, she had fallen upon a stormy existence, filled with perpetual
debauchery, shameless obscenity and cynicism, with vain and
everlasting bustle. Instead of the privations and stern surroundings
in which she had once lived, she had met comparative ease and comfort.
She could not think of it now without a blush of shame. She had
hardly noticed the gradual transformation. She had wanted to go to a
good place but had entered the wrong door. Her desires had been very
modest, indeed. How often she had dreamed, in the attic of Pogorelka,
of becoming an earnest girl, working, thirsting for education, bearing
hardships with fortitude, all for the sake of the good. (It is true,
"good" hardly had definite meaning to her.) But as soon as she had
stepped out on to the highroad of independent activity, bitter reality
had shattered her dreams at once. An honest livelihood does not come
of itself, but is attained only by persistent search and previous
training which help in the quest to some extent. But neither Anninka's
temperament nor education provided her with this. Her temperament
was not marked by passion, it was simply sensitive. The material
that her education had given her and on which she meant to build up
her life of honest toil was so unreliable and poor that it could
hardly serve as a basis for serious work. Her education was of the
boarding-school, music-hall kind, with the balance tipping to the side
of the music-hall. It was a chaotic heap in which problems were piled
up about a flock of geese, dancing steps with a shawl, the sermons of
Peter of Picardy, the exploits of Fair Helen, the _Ode to Felitza,_ and
the prescribed feeling of gratitude to the instructors and patrons of
the institution. What was left clear of this chaotic jumble in her soul
might quite properly be called a _tabula rasa_. There was scarcely a
thing to be read in it; it certainly offered no possibility of finding
a starting-point in her for better things. Whatever preparation she
had had inspired not love for work but love for a "society" life, the
desire to be surrounded by admirers and listen to their flattery, the
desire to plunge into the social din, glamor and whirlwind.

If she had listened to herself, she would have discovered that even in
Pogorelka, when just beginning to make plans for a life of honest toil
as a deliverance from Egyptian bondage, she could have caught herself
dreaming not so much of work as of being surrounded by a society of
congenial people, frittering her time away in empty talk. Of course,
the people of her dreams were clever, and their conversation was honest
and serious, but the idle side of life was always in the foreground.
Poverty was distinguished by neatness, privations amounted merely to
a lack of luxuries. So, when her dreams of a life of work came to a
head and she was offered a part in one of the provincial theatres,
she hesitated little, though the contrast between dream and reality
was great. She hastily freshened up her school information about the
relations of Helen and Menelaus, supplemented it by some biographical
details from the life of the splendid Prince of Tauris and decided
that that was quite sufficient to produce _Fair Helen_ and _Episodes
from the Life of the Duchess of Herolstein_ in the provincial theatres
and at the fairs. To clear her conscience she recalled the words of a
student she had met in Moscow who used to exclaim repeatedly, "Sacred
Art!" She made this her slogan, because it was the easiest way out,
and gave at least outward decorum to the path she had chosen--the path
toward which the whole of her being was instinctively tending.

The life of an actress upset her. Alone, without the guidance of proper
preparation, without a conscious aim, with only a temperament craving
for din, glamor, and applause, she soon found herself surrounded by
a chaos in which many persons thronged, some coming, others going,
without apparent order or connection. There were people of the most
diverse characters and views, so that the motives for becoming intimate
with this one or that one were not the same. Nevertheless, they were
all integral parts of her circle, so that there really could be no
question of motives.

Her life had become like the gate to an inn, at which every gay,
wealthy, young man could knock and claim entrance. Clearly it was
not a matter of selecting a congenial company, but of fitting into
any kind of company so as not to die of ennui. Her "sacred art" had
really thrown her into a mire, but her head was turned, and she did not
notice her position. Neither the dirty faces of the porters nor the
slimy, dilapidated stage properties, nor the din, stench, and noise of
the hotels and inns, nor the obscene behavior of her admirers--none
of these things produced a sobering effect. She did not even notice
that she was always in the society of men only, and that there was a
permanent barrier between her and the women of _established position._

The visit to Golovliovo sobered her for a moment.

In the morning, almost immediately after her arrival, she began to feel
uneasy. Highly impressionable, she quickly absorbed new sensations and
quickly adapted herself to new situations. Consequently, as soon as she
reached Golovliovo, she felt herself a "lady." She suddenly recalled
that she had something of her own: her own home, her own graves. She
became filled with a desire to see herself in her former surroundings,
to breathe the air from which she had only recently fled. But her
impression was immediately dispelled by contact with the reality she
found there. Her experience in this was like that of a person who
enters with a smile among friends he has not seen for a long time,
and suddenly notices that everybody responds to his cordial greetings
coldly. The nasty glances Yudushka cast at her figure reminded her
that her position was questionable and not easy to change. When she
remained alone, after the naïve questions of the Pogorelka servants,
after the pious sighs of warning of the Pogorelka priest and his wife,
after the fresh sermons of Yudushka, when she examined her impressions
of the day at leisure, she became convinced that the former "lady"
was gone forever and that from now on she was only an actress in a
miserable provincial theatre, and the position of a Russian actress was
not far removed from that of a street woman. Until now she had lived
as if in a dream. She would go out half-naked in _Fair Helen,_ would
appear intoxicated in _Pericola,_ would sing all sorts of indecencies
in the _Episodes from the Life of the Duchess of Herolstein,_ and
would even regret that it was not the custom to represent _la chose_
and _l'amour_ on the stage, imagining how enticingly her hips would
quiver and how alluring her every movement would be. But it had never
occurred to her to give earnest thought to what she was doing. She had
only tried to make everything appear "charming" and _chic_ and at the
same time please the army officers of the town regiment. But what it
all meant, and what the sensation was that her quivering hips produced
in the army officers, she did not consider. The army officers were
the element that set the tone for the town, and she realized that her
success depended upon them. They would intrude behind the scenes, would
unceremoniously knock at the door of her dressing-room when she was yet
half-clad, would address her in endearing terms--and she looked upon
it all as a simple formality, an inevitable feature incidental to her
profession. All she asked herself was whether she rendered a feature
"charmingly" or not.

Until now she had not thought of her body or her soul as being public,
but for a moment feeling herself a "lady" again, she looked on her past
in utter disgust and abhorrence, as if she had been stripped naked and
were being exposed on the public square; as if all those vile creatures
infected with the odors of wine and the stable had suddenly gripped
her in their embrace, as her body felt the contact of hands moist with
perspiration, of slabbery lips and the dull, greedy, brutal eyes that
lingered animal-like over the curved lines of her nude body.

Where was she to go? How was she to throw off that accumulated load,
which began to leave its mark on her shoulders? The question tossed
in her head desperately--tossed, indeed, for she neither found nor,
as a matter of fact, sought an answer. This stay in Golovliovo, too,
was a kind of dream. Her past life had been a dream, and her present
awakening was a dream. Something had made the little girl ill at ease,
and she had become sentimental--that was all. It would pass. There
are pleasant moments and there are unpleasant ones--that is how they
go. Both merely glide past but do not alter the course of life once
determined upon. To give life a new course, to divert its channel,
one needs not only moral but also physical courage. It is almost the
same as suicide. Before attempting suicide a man may denounce his life,
he may be certain that death is the only salvation, yet the weapon
of death trembles in his hands, the knife slides harmlessly over the
neck, the bullet, instead of striking the forehead, hits lower and
only cripples. That is what happened in Anninka's case. She had to
kill her former life, but though killing it, she herself had to remain
alive. The "nothingness" that in regular suicide is attained by merely
pressing the trigger, was to be attained in the peculiar suicide called
rejuvenation only after many stern almost ascetic efforts.

A pampered person already undermined by the habit of easy living will
turn dizzy at the mere perspective of a rejuvenation. He instinctively
turns his head away and shuts his eyes. Then filled with shame and
accusing himself of lack of courage, he will take the easy way again.

Oh, the life of toil is a glorious thing! Yet none but strong people
can live it and those who are destined for it because of original sin.
They are the only ones it does not frighten; the former because they
realize the significance and resources of toil and can find pleasure in
it; the latter, because to them toil is first a duty, then a habit.

Anninka did not think of remaining at Golovliovo or Pogorelka for even
a moment. In this she was fortified by the business routine of her
circumstances, to which she clung instinctively. She had been given
leave of absence and had arranged her schedule ahead of time, even
designating the day on which she was to leave Golovliovo. For people
of weak wills the external checks upon their life considerably lighten
its burdens. In difficult cases they cling to them instinctively and
use them as a justification for their acts.

Anninka decided to leave Golovliovo as soon as possible, and if uncle
persisted in his coaxing, to counter him by invoking the necessity of
reporting for duty on the set date.

When she arose in the morning she walked leisurely through all
the rooms of the vast Golovliovo mansion. She found them dreary,
uninviting, deserted. There was an air of decay and haunting
unfriendliness about them. The thought of living there indefinitely
quite frightened her. "Never!" she kept repeating in a state of
inexplicable agitation, "Never!"


The next day Porfiry Vladimirych greeted her again with his ambiguous
geniality, from which it was impossible to gather whether he wanted to
show her affection or suck her blood dry.

"Well, you 'always-in-a-hurry-to-get-there,' did you sleep well? And
where are you hurrying to now?" he asked her jestingly.

"Yes, uncle, I am in a hurry, indeed. I am on leave of absence, you
know, and I must report on time."

"Is it to play the clown again? I won't let you."

"Whether you let me or not, I am going."

Yudushka shook his head sadly. "And what would your deceased grandma
say?" he asked in a tone of kindly reproach.

"Grandma knew about it when she was alive. But why do you use those
expressions, uncle? Yesterday you were sending me to the fairs with a
guitar and today you speak of playing the clown. I won't allow you to
talk like that to me, you hear?"

"Eh-eh! The truth hurts! Well, and I like the truth. I think that if
the truth----"

"No, no, I won't listen, I won't listen. I don't want your truth or
your untruth. Do you hear me? I don't want you to talk like that to me."

"Well, well! Look at her flaring up! Oh, you romp! Suppose we go in to
tea while the drinking is good. I suppose the samovar is making music
on the table by now."

Porfiry Vladimirych wanted by joke and jest to make amends for having
said "playing the clown," and even tried to embrace her as a sign of
reconciliation. But it all seemed so stupid to Anninka, so abominable,
that she declined his advance with repugnance.

"I tell you seriously, uncle, I am in a hurry," she said.

"Well, then, let's go and have tea first, then we'll talk."

"But why talk after tea? Why not now?"

"Because. Because everything has got to be done in its proper time.
First one, then the other, first we'll have tea and a chat, then we'll
talk business. Plenty of time."

She could not help but yield. His prattle was not to be overcome. They
went in to tea, and Yudushka temporized maliciously, sipping his tea
with deliberation, crossing himself, slapping his thigh, babbling about
his late mother dear, and so on.

"Well, now we can talk," he said at last. "Do you intend making a long
visit here?"

"Not more than a week. I have to be in Moscow before returning to the

"A week is a long time, my dear. You can accomplish a lot in a week,
and you can accomplish little. It depends on how you go about it."

"We'd better try and accomplish a great deal, uncle."

"That's just what I say. You can do a lot and you can do little, and
sometimes you think you are doing little but before you look around,
all the work is attended to. Here, for instance, you are in a hurry to
go to Moscow, you've got business there, you say; and what the business
is, you yourself don't know, I dare say. But the way I look on it is
this, that you spend all your time here in real business instead of
going to Moscow."

"No, I must go to Moscow because I want to see if I can't get on the
stage there. And as to business, didn't you say we could accomplish a
lot in a week?"

"Depending on how you go about it, my friend. If you go about it
properly, all will be well and smooth, but if you don't go about it in
a proper way, well, you'll strike a snag, and the thing will drag on."

"Well, you guide me, uncle."

"That's just it. When in need then 'You guide me, uncle,' but when not
in need, then 'It's dull here, uncle, and I want to go away.' You can't
say I'm not right."

"But please do tell me just what I am to do."

"Wait, don't be in a hurry! So, as I was saying, when uncle is needed,
he is a dear and darling and a sweety, and when he is not needed he is
no good. But you would never trust your uncle and ask him, 'What do you
think, uncle dear, ought I to go to Moscow or not?'"

"How funny you are, uncle! I _must_ go to Moscow, and suppose I ask
your advice and you say no?"

"Well, if I say no, then stay here! It is not a stranger who says so.
It's your uncle, and you may as well take your own uncle's advice.
Oh, my friend! It's a good thing you've got an uncle. At least there
is somebody to feel with you and to warn you when necessary. Think of
others who have nobody. Nobody to feel with them, nobody to warn them.
And they live all by themselves. And things happen to them--many
things that happen in life, my dear."

Anninka wanted to reply, but realized it would be adding fuel to the
fire, and remained silent. She sat there, her eyes turned despairingly
at her uncle, who was going ahead under full steam.

"I wanted to tell you," Yudushka continued, "I don't like your going
to those fairs, no, I don't like it a bit. Though you didn't relish my
talking about guitars, I still must say--"

"But it is not enough to say 'I don't like.' Show me a way out."

"Stay with me. That's the way out."

"No, that never!"


"Because I have nothing to do here. What can I do here? Get up in the
morning, have tea, at tea think that breakfast is coming, at breakfast
think about dinner, and at dinner about afternoon tea. Then supper and
then to sleep. No, one can die here."

"They all do it, my friend. First people have tea, after tea those who
like to breakfast do so. I, for instance, don't like to have breakfast,
so I don't. Then dinner, then afternoon tea, then to bed. Well, I don't
see anything ridiculous or objectionable in it. But if I--"

"Nothing objectionable; but it is not after my heart."

"But if I had offended somebody, or misjudged or spoken ill, well,
then, really it would be objectionable. But to have tea and breakfast
and dinner--goodness! I guess, no matter how clever you are, you can't
get along without food."

"Yes, well and good, but it is not after my heart."

"But don't measure things by your own yardstick. Take the advice of
your elders. 'This I like, and that I don't like.' Now, you mustn't
talk that way! You ought to say instead, 'If it please God, or 'if it
does not please God'. That would be the proper kind of talk. Let's say,
for instance, in Golovliovo we don't live according to God, if we go
against Him, if we sin or question His wisdom, if we envy and do other
evil things, well, then we are really guilty and deserve to be blamed.
But here, too, it would have to be proved first that we really do not
act according to God. And you come and say, 'It is not my style.' Now,
take me as an example. There are many things that aren't my style.
Here, for instance, I don't like the way you talk to me, the way you
pooh-pooh my hospitality. Yet I keep mum. I want to persuade you in a
quiet way, maybe you'll come to your senses. Maybe while I am jesting
and talking lightly, along will come your guardian angel and lead you
along the right path. You know, my friend, I am solicitous not of my
welfare, but of yours. Ah, my friend, how bad of you! If, so to speak,
I had offended you by word or deed, well, then you would have reason
to complain. Though it behooves young people to heed even a sermon
when it comes from their elders, yet had I offended you, I wouldn't
mind your being angry. But here I am calm and quiet and easy. I don't
say a word, but only try to figure out how to make things better and
more comfortable for you and for others so that all may rejoice and
be happy. And look how you greet my kindness! What you want to do, my
dear, is not to be rash in your speech. First think, then pray to the
Lord and implore His guidance. And then if, let's say for example--"

Porfiry Vladimirych expatiated in this strain for a long time. His
words flowed like thick saliva. Anninka looked at him with instinctive
fear and thought, "How is it that the gush of words does not choke
him?" And for all his talk, her dear uncle did not utter a word of
advice as to what she was to do in connection with the death of Arina
Petrovna. She tried to bring the matter up at dinner and later at
afternoon tea, but every time Yudushka spun a different web, so that
Anninka was sorry she had resumed the conversation, and thought in
anguish, "Will it ever end?"

After dinner, when Porfiry Vladimirych retired for his afternoon nap,
Anninka remained alone with Yevpraksia and suddenly felt a desire to
have a talk with her uncle's housekeeper.

She wanted to know why Yevpraksia did not find it horrible to live at
Golovliovo and what gave her the strength to endure the torrents of
meaningless words that uncle's mouth belched forth from morning to

"Do you find it dull here at Golovliovo, Yevpraksia?"

"Why should we find it dull? We are not of the gentlefolk."

"But still--always alone--no diversion, no pleasures--"

"What pleasures do I need? When it's dull, I look out of the window. I
didn't have much merriment when I lived with father."

"Still, I suppose, it was better at home. You had friends, went
visiting, played."

"Ah, what's the use!"

"And here with uncle. He says such dull things and he is so
long-winded. Is he always like that?"

"Always, all day long the same way."

"And it doesn't bore you?"

"Why should it? I don't listen to him."

"But it's impossible not to listen at all. He may notice it and become

"How can he tell? I look at him. He keeps on talking and I keep on
looking and at the same time I think my own thoughts."

"What do you generally think about?"

"Different things. If I have to pickle gherkins, I think about
gherkins. If I have to send someone to town, I think about town.
Whatever the household needs, that's what I think about."

"So, I see, you live with uncle, but you are always alone?"

"Yes, as good as alone. Unless he sometimes wishes to play cards. Well,
then we play cards. But even then he often stops in the middle of the
game, puts the cards away and begins to talk. And I look at him. It was
much livelier when Arina Petrovna was alive. When she was around he
was afraid to talk too much, because the old woman would often cut him
short. But now the liberties he takes are the limit."

"Well, you see, Yevpraksia, that's just the horror of it. It is
frightful when a man talks and does not know what he says, why he talks
and whether he'll ever get through. Doesn't it scare you?"

Yevpraksia looked at her as if struck by a new, wonderful idea.

"You're not the only one," she said. "Many people around here don't
like him for the same thing."

"Is that so?"

"Yes. Even the servants. Not one of them can stay here long. He changes
them almost every month. The clerks, too. And all on account of that."

"He annoys them?"

"Terribly. The drunkards--they stay because drunkards don't hear. You
may blow a bugle, but it's as if they had their ears stuffed. But the
trouble is, he doesn't like drunkards."

"Oh, Yevpraksia, and he is trying to persuade me to stay here."

"Well, madam, it really would be nice of you to stay a while. Maybe in
your presence he would be ashamed."

"No. Thank you. I haven't the patience to look at him."

"Yes, of course, you are of the gentlefolk. You can have your own way,
and at that I suppose you've got to dance to somebody's music."

"Oh, I should say so."

"Yes, I thought so. I meant to ask you another thing. Is it nice to be
an actress?"

"You earn your own bread and butter. That's one good thing."

"And is it true, as Porfiry Vladimirych was telling me, that strangers
embrace actresses about the waist?"

Anninka flushed up an instant.

"Porfiry Vladimirych does not understand," she said with irritation.
"That's why he talks nonsense. He seems to have no notion that it's
only play and not reality on the stage."

"And yet, even he, that is, Porfiry Vladimirych, when he saw you first,
his mouth began to water. 'My niece,' and 'dear,' and 'darling,' like a
gay blade. And his shameless eyes just devour you."

"Yevpraksia, why do you talk nonsense?"

"I? Oh, I don't care. You stay here and you'll see. And I--I don't
care. I'll give up my position, and go back to father. It's dull here,
anyway, you were right about it."

"It is silly for you to suppose that I am going to stay here. But
you're right about one thing, Golovliovo certainly _is_ a dull place.
And the longer you stay here the duller you feel."

Yevpraksia turned pensive, then yawned and said:

"When I stayed with father I was very, very slim. Now, you see how
stout I am, like an oven. So dullness does one good, after all."

"You won't stand it long, anyway. Remember what I say--you won't."

With this the conversation ended.

Luckily Porfiry Vladimirych did not hear it, otherwise he would have
obtained a new and fruitful theme for his endless sermonizing.

Porfiry Vladimirych tortured Anninka for two whole days. He kept on
saying, "Wait, don't be in a hurry! Quietly, easily. Say your prayers
and receive your benediction," and so on. He tired her to death.
Finally, on the fifth day, he was ready to go to town with her, though
he found another way of tormenting his dear niece.

She was in her fur coat waiting for him in the vestibule, and he, as if
to spite her, lingered a whole hour, dressing and washing and clapping
his thighs and crossing himself, and walking back and forth, and
sitting down, and giving orders. "Here--, or see to it--you know what I
mean. See that nothing happens--you know."

He behaved as if he were leaving Golovliovo not for a few hours, but
forever. Having tired everybody out, the men and horses who had been
waiting at the porch for an hour and a half, his own throat at last got
dry from gabbling, and he decided to start out.

The entire affair in town was concluded while the horses were eating
their oats at the inn. Porfiry Vladimirych produced an account book,
from which it appeared that when Arina Petrovna died the orphans had
twenty thousand rubles or a trifle less in five per cent securities.
Then the petition to remove the guardianship was filed, along with the
papers testifying to the majority of the orphans, and the order was
immediately issued to remove the guardianship and transfer both capital
and land to the rightful owners. In the evening of the same day Anninka
signed all the papers and inventories that Yudushka had prepared and
when all was done, heaved a sigh of relief.

The remaining few days Anninka spent in the greatest agitation. She
wanted to leave Golovliovo at once, but her uncle met her attempts with
a jest, which, good-natured as it sounded, screened a stupid obstinacy
that no human power could overcome.

"You yourself said you were going to stay a week. Then stay," he said.
"I don't understand why you are in such a hurry. You don't have to pay
rent, you are welcome without pay. You will have tea and dinner and
anything your heart may desire."

"But, uncle, I must go," Anninka pleaded.

"You are on pins and needles, but I am not going to give you horses,"
jested Yudushka. "I just won't give you horses, and you'll have to be
my prisoner. When the week is up, I won't say a word. We'll attend
mass, and have a bite, and some tea, and a chat, and we'll take a good
look at each other, and then--God speed you! But, see here, suppose
we visit the grave at Voplino again. It would be best to take leave of
your grandmother, you know. Maybe her soul will be of guidance to you."

"I shouldn't mind it," Anninka consented.

"So that's what we'll do. Early in the morning on Wednesday we'll
attend mass here, then we'll have a bite before you go, and then my
team will take you to Pogorelka. From there to Dvoriky you will go with
your own team. You are a landlady yourself, I dare say. You've got your
own horses."

She had to consent. There is something tremendously powerful in
vulgarity. It catches a person unawares, and while he is staring in
bewilderment, it has him in its clutches. When we pass a cesspool
we close our noses and try not to breathe. We have to do the same
violence to ourselves in an atmosphere saturated with idle chatter
and vulgarity, deaden our sight, hearing, smell and taste, overcome
all sensibility, turn into stone. Otherwise we run the danger of
suffocation from the miasma of vulgarity.

Anninka understood this, a bit late, perhaps. At any rate, she decided
to let the process of her liberation from the Golovliovo captivity
take its own course. She was so thoroughly overcome by Yudushka's
irresistible twaddle that she dared not resist when he, like a good
relative, embraced her and stroked her back, saying as he did so:

"You see, now you are a good little girl."

She recoiled instinctively at the touch of his trembling bony hand
creeping over her back, but was held back from any other expression of
loathing by the hope that he might release her when the week was up.

Luckily for her Yudushka was not at all squeamish. He perhaps observed
her impatient gestures but paid no attention to them. Evidently he
adhered to the theory of sexual relationship epitomized in the saying,
"Kiss me, whether you love me or not."

At last came the long expected day of departure. Anninka rose at about
six o'clock, but Yudushka was already up and about. He had already
performed the ceremonial of his morning prayers, and was sauntering
from room to room in dressing-gown and slippers without any plan or
purpose. He was visibly agitated, and when he met Anninka looked at
her askew. It was almost full daylight, but the weather was bad. The
sky was covered with massive dark clouds, from which a chilling sleet
was drizzling. The road along the hamlet had turned black and was full
of puddles--a forecast of roads impassable because of the thaw. A
strong south wind was blowing, another indication of thawing weather.
The trees had cast off their snowy mantles, and their nude wet tops
swayed drearily. The barns in the yard looked black and slimy. Porfiry
Vladimirych led Anninka to the window and pointed out the picture of
spring's awakening.

"Does it really pay to go?" he asked. "Would it not be better to stay,
after all?"

"Oh no, no!" she cried in a frightened voice. "The bad weather will
soon be over."

"Hardly. If you start now I doubt if you will reach Pogorelka before
seven o'clock. And in this thawing weather you cannot travel at night,
you know. So you'll have to spend a night at Pogorelka anyway."

"Oh, no! I'll travel at night. I'll leave at once. I am brave, you
know. And wait till one o'clock? Uncle, darling! Let me leave at once."

"And what would grandma say? 'That's the kind of granddaughter I
have!' she'll say. 'She came here, romped about, and wouldn't even come
to ask my blessing.'"

Porfiry Vladimirych stopped. For a while he shifted from one foot to
the other, then looked at Anninka, then lowered his eyes. Apparently he
was making up his mind about something.

"Wait, I'll show you something," he said at last, took a folded note
from his pocket and gave it to Anninka. "Here, read this."

Anninka read:

"I was praying to-day, and I asked my good, kind God to leave me my
good little Anninka. And the good, kind God said, 'Put your arm around
good little Anninka's plump waist and press her close to your heart.'"

"Yes?" he asked turning slightly pale.

"Fi, how nasty!" she answered, looking at him in bewilderment.

Porfiry Vladimirych turned still paler and hissed through his teeth:

"I suppose, we must have hussars!" then crossed himself and shuffled
out of the room.

In about fifteen minutes he returned and resumed his jesting as if
nothing had happened.

"Well?" he asked. "Are you going to stop at Voplino? Will you go and
say good-by to your old granny? Do, my dear, do. It is very good of you
to have thought of your grandma. Never forget your kinsfolk, my dear,
especially those who, in a manner of speaking, were willing to die for

They attended the mass and requiem services, ate some kutya in the
church, then came home, ate some more kutya and sat down at the tea
table. Porfiry Vladimirych, as if to spite her, sipped his tea more
slowly than usual, and dragged his words out wearisomely, discoursing
in the intervals between gulps. About ten o'clock they finished tea,
and Anninka said imploringly:

"May I leave now, uncle?"

"And what about a bite? What about dinner? Did you really think your
uncle would let you leave on an empty stomach? Nay, nay. We are not
used to such things at Golovliovo. Why, mother dear would have refused
to look at me again if she knew I let my own niece go without a morsel.
Don't dare think of it. Why, it's impossible."

Again she had to surrender. An hour and a half passed, but there were
no signs of preparation for dinner. Everybody was going about his
business. Yevpraksia, her bunch of keys jingling, was seen in the
yard darting between the pantry and the cellar. Porfiry Vladimirych
was explaining things to his clerk, wearying him with meaningless
orders and incessantly slapping his own thighs in an effort to while
away the time. Anninka, left to herself, walked up and down the
dining-room, looked at the clock, counted her steps, then the ticks of
the clock--one, two, three. At times she glanced out of the window and
noticed the puddles were growing larger and larger.

Finally knives, forks and plates began to rattle. The butler Stepan
entered the dining-room and spread a cloth upon the table. It seemed as
if a part of Yudushka's idle bustle had communicated itself to him. He
shuffled the plates sluggishly, breathed on the drinking glasses, and
examined them, holding them up to the light. Dinner began just at one

"Well, so you are going," Porfiry Vladimirych opened the conversation,
in a manner befitting the occasion. Before him was a plate of soup, but
he did not touch it. He looked at Anninka so affectionately that the
tip of his nose turned red.

Anninka swallowed her soup hastily. At last he took up his spoon and
dipped it in the soup, but changed his mind, and placed it back on the

"I am an old man, you'll have to pardon me," he began nagging, "you
swallowed your soup in a gulp, but I must take it slowly. I don't like
it when people are careless with God's gifts. God gave us bread for
sustenance, and look how much of it you have wasted. Look at all the
crumbs you scattered. Altogether, I like to do things thoroughly and
carefully. It comes out safer in the end. Maybe it annoys you that I
am not quick enough, that I can't jump through a hoop, or whatever
you call it. Well, what can I do? If you feel like being annoyed, go
ahead. I know you will be cross a little while and then forgive the old
man. Remember, _you_ are not going to be young always. You will not be
jumping through hoops all of your life. Life will give you experience
and teach you wisdom. Then you will say, 'Maybe uncle was right after
all.' So, my dear, now while you listen to me, you probably think,
'Uncle is no good. Uncle is an old grouch.' But if you live to my old
age, you'll pipe a different tune. You'll say, 'Uncle was nice. Uncle
was a dear. Uncle taught me right.'"

Porfiry Vladimirych crossed himself and swallowed two spoonfuls of
soup, then put his spoon down and leaned back in his chair as a sign of
an ensuing monologue.

"Bloodsucker!" was on the tip of her tongue, but she pulled herself up,
poured out a glass of water, and drank it at a gulp. Yudushka sensed
her mental state.

"So, you don't like it? Well, like it or not, you'd better take uncle's
advice. I've been long meaning to talk to you about your hasty way of
doing things, but I could not find the time to do it. I don't like that
haste in you. There is fickleness in it, a lack of judgment. When you
left your old grandmother, you had no business to leave her and cause
the old woman anxiety. I really don't see why you did it."

"Oh, uncle, why recall it? It's done. It isn't kind of you."

"Wait. That's not the point I'm making--kind or unkind--what I want to
say is that even when a thing has been done, it can be undone, or done
all over again. Not only we mortals, but even God alters His deeds.
Now He sends rain, now He sends fair weather. So, suppose--really, the
theatre isn't a good place--suppose you decide to stay."

"No, uncle, let's not speak about it, I beg of you."

"And there's another thing I want to tell you. Your fickleness is bad
enough, but what is still worse is the way you slight the advice of
your elders. I speak for your own good and you say, 'Let's not speak
about it.' Uncle is kind and tender, and you snap at him. But do you
know who gave you your uncle? Well, tell me--who?"

Anninka looked at him in perplexity.

"God gave you your uncle, that is who. God did it. If not for God, you
would now be all alone in the world, you would not know how to manage
things, or how to file a petition or where to file it, and what to
expect from it. You would be lost in the woods. Anybody could deceive
you, abuse you or even disgrace you. You see? And with the aid of God
and your uncle the whole deal went through in one day. We went to
town, and filed a petition and got the necessary mandates. You see, my
dear, what uncle can do?"

"Yes, uncle, I am grateful to you."

"Well, if you are, don't snap at me, and do as I tell you. I mean your
good, though at times it seems to you that----"

Anninka could hardly control herself. There was one way left to rid
herself of uncle's sermons--to feign that in principle she accepted his
proposal to remain at Golovliovo.

"All right, uncle," she said, "I'll think it over. I myself feel it is
not quite proper to live alone, far from relatives. But I can't make up
my mind now--I'll have to think it over."

"Well, I am glad to see you have understood me, but what is there to
think over? We'll have the horses unhitched, your trunks taken out of
the cart--that's all the thinking there is to be done."

"No, uncle, you forget I have a sister."

Whether her argument convinced Porfiry Vladimirych or whether the whole
scene had been staged for the mere show of it, it is hard to say.
Porfiry Vladimirych himself did not know whether Anninka really ought
to stay at Golovliovo or whether it was simply a whim of his. At any
rate, from that moment on dinner proceeded at a livelier pace. Anninka
agreed to everything he said and answered his questions in a manner
that did not provoke much nagging and babbling. Nevertheless, the clock
showed half past two when dinner was over. Anninka jumped up from the
table as if she had been sitting in a steam bath, and ran to her uncle
to say good-by.

In ten minutes Yudushka, in his fur coat and bear-skin boots, saw her
to the porch and in person supervised the process of seating the young
mistress in the pony cart.

"Easy when you go downhill--you hear? And see that you don't drop her
out at the Senkino slope!" he shouted to the driver.

Finally Anninka was seated, wrapped up, and the leather cover of the
cart was fastened.

"Suppose you stay!" Yudushka shouted again, wishing that in the
presence of the servants gathered about, all go off properly as befits
good kinsfolk. But Anninka already felt free, and was suddenly seized
with a desire to play a girlish prank. She stood up in the cart and
emphasizing every word, said, "No, uncle, I will not! You are a fright!"

Yudushka pretended not to hear, but his lips turned pale.


Anninka was so overjoyed at her liberation from the Golovliovo bondage,
that she did not even stop to think of the man who at her departure
lost all contact with the world of living beings. She thought only
of herself. She enjoyed the feeling of escape. And the sensation of
freedom was so strong that when she visited the grave at Voplino again
there was no longer a trace of that nervous sensibility which she had
betrayed the first time. She listened to the requiem quietly, bowed
before the grave without shedding a tear, and quite willingly accepted
the priest's invitation to have tea with him.

The house of the Voplino priest was very scantily furnished. The
only room of state in the house, which served as the reception room,
looked naked and dreary. Along the walls were arranged about a dozen
painted chairs, upholstered with haircloth, in holes here and there,
and a sofa of the same kind with its back bulging out, like the chest
of an old-time general. Against one of the walls between two windows
stood a plain table covered with a soiled cloth, on which lay several
confession books of the parish. From behind them peeped an inkpot with
a quill stuck in it. An image case containing an ikon handed down as a
family heirloom and a burning ikon lamp were suspended in the eastern
corner of the room. Underneath the image case stood two trunks covered
with a drab faded cloth holding the family linen, the dowry of the lady
of the house. The walls were not papered. A few daguerreotype portraits
of bishops hung in the center of one wall. There was a peculiar odor
in the room, as if many generations of flies and black beetles had met
their fate there. The priest himself, though a young man, had become
considerably faded amidst these surroundings. His thin flaxen hair hung
from his head in long, straight locks, like the boughs of a weeping
willow. His eyes, once blue, were now lifeless. His voice trembled, his
beard had taken on a wedge-like shape, his merino cassock hung on him
loosely. His wife, also young, looked even more faded than her husband,
because of frequent child bearing.

Nevertheless, Anninka could not help noticing that even these poor
timid, worn-out people looked upon her not as at a real parishioner,
but in pity, as if she were a lost sheep.

"You were visiting at your uncle's?" began the priest, carefully
removing a cup of tea from the tray held by his wife.

"Yes, I stayed there about a week."

"Porfiry Vladimirych is now the chief landowner in the district, and
has the greatest power. But it looks as if luck is not with him. First
one son died, then the other, and now his mother has departed. I am
surprised he did not insist on your staying with him."

"Uncle wanted me to stay, but I did not care to."

"Why so?"

"I prefer to live in freedom."

"Freedom, madam, is not a bad thing, of course, but it has its
dangers. And when you think you are the nearest relative to Porfiry
Vladimirych, you could forego a bit of that freedom, I imagine."

"No, father, one's own bread tastes better. It's easier to live when
you know you are under no obligations to anyone."

The priest looked at her with his extinguished eyes, as if he meant to
ask, "Come now, do you really know what 'one's own bread is?'" but he
had not the courage to hurt her, so he only drew his cassock closer
about him.

"Do you receive much salary as an actress?" inquired the priest's wife.

The priest became thoroughly frightened, and even began to wink at his
wife. He expected Anninka to be offended, but Anninka was not offended
and answered without a waver, "At present I get a hundred and fifty
rubles a month, and my sister earns one hundred. But then we have
benefit performances. All told, the two of us net about six thousand a

"Why does sister get less? Is she of inferior merit, or what?"
continued the priest's wife.

"No, hers is a different _genre._ I have a voice and I sing. The
audience likes it more. Sister's voice is a little weaker. So she plays
in vaudeville mostly."

"So even in acting some are priests, some deacons and others just

"Yes, but we share our income equally. That was our understanding from
the very beginning--to share all money equally."

"Like good sisters? Well, there is nothing better than that. How much
will that be, father? If you divide six thousand by months, how much
will that make?"

"Five hundred rubles a month, and divided by two it makes two hundred
and fifty rubles a month each."

"My, what a heap of money! We could not spend that much in a year.
Another thing I meant to ask you, is it true that actresses are treated
as if they were not real women?"

The priest became so alarmed that his cassock flew open; but seeing
that Anninka took the question quite indifferently, he said to himself,
"Eh--eh--she is really a hard nut to crack," and felt reassured.

"What do you mean 'not real women?'" she asked.

"Well, they kiss and embrace. I heard they must do it whether they want
to or not."

"No, they don't kiss--they only pretend to. And as to whether they want
to or not, that is out of the question entirely, because everything is
done according to the play. They must act whatever is written in the

"Yes, but even if it's in the play--you know--sometimes a man with a
slabbery snout sidles up to you. He is loathsome to look at, but you've
got to hold your lips ready to let him kiss you."

A blush suffused Anninka's face. There suddenly flashed up in her
memory the slabbery face of the brave Captain Papkov, who had actually
"sidled up to her" and, alas! not even in accordance with the play.

"You have a wrong notion of what takes place on the stage," she said

"Of course, we've never been to the theatre, but I am sure many things
happen there. Father and I have often been speaking about you, madam.
We are sorry for you, very sorry, indeed."

Anninka was silent. The priest tugged at his beard as if he, too, had
finally gathered up enough courage to say something.

"Of course, it must be admitted, madam, that every calling has its
agreeable and disagreeable sides," he at last delivered himself, "but
we humans in our failings extol the former and try to forget the
latter. And why do we try to forget? Because, madam, we want as far as
possible to avoid even the remembrance of duty and of the virtuous life
we formerly led." He heaved a sigh and added, "And above all, madam,
you must guard your treasure."

The priest glanced at Anninka admonishingly, and his wife shook her
head sadly, as much as to say, "Not much chance of that."

"And it is very doubtful whether you can preserve your treasure while
an actress," he continued.

Anninka was at a loss what answer to make to these warnings. Little
by little she began to see that the talk of these simple-minded folk
about her "treasure" was of the same value as the pointed remarks of
the officers of the regiments stationed in the various towns about _la
chose._ Now it became quite clear to her that both at her uncle's and
at the priest's she was considered a peculiar individual to whom one
may condescend, but from a distance, so as not to soil oneself.

"Father, why is your church so poor?" she asked to change the subject.

"There is nothing here to make it rich--that's why it's poor. The
landlords are all away in the government service, and the peasants
haven't much to thrive on. In all there are a little over two hundred

"Our bell, you see, is a very poor one," sighed the priest's wife.

"Yes, the bell and everything. Our bell, madam, weighs only five
hundred pounds, and to make matters worse, it is cracked. It does not
ring, it coughs. To be so poor is even sinful. The late Arina Petrovna
promised to erect a new bell and, if she were alive we would most
likely have a new bell by now."

"Why don't you tell uncle that grandmother promised you one?"

"I did tell him, madam, and I must admit he listened very kindly to my
grievance, but he could not give me a satisfactory answer. He said he
had heard nothing about it from mother; that his late dear mother had
never spoken about the matter. He would gladly carry out her wishes, he
said, if he had only heard mother express them."

"He could not help hearing them," said the priest's wife. "It was known
throughout the district."

"So we live on in this wise. At first we had hopes, at least, now we
have no hopes left. Not to mention our own personal needs, there is
nothing to perform the service with sometimes--neither host nor red

Anninka wanted to rise and take leave, but a new tray appeared on the
table, with two dishes on it, one of mushrooms, the other with bits of
caviar, and a bottle of Madeira.

"Do oblige us and have a bite--it's the best we have."

Anninka obeyed and quickly swallowed some mushrooms, but refused the

"Another thing I meant to ask," continued the priest's wife, "we
have a girl in our parish, the daughter of a peasant in the service
of Lyshechevsky. She was the chambermaid of a certain actress in St.
Petersburg. She says the life of an actress is very easy and pleasant,
but an actress must produce a special passport every month. Is that

Anninka stared at her and did not understand.

"That is for the greater freedom," explained the priest. "But I
think she did not tell the truth. On the contrary, I heard that many
actresses even get pensions from the government for their services."

Anninka became convinced that matters were going from bad to worse, and
she rose to take leave.

"We thought you would give up acting now," the priest's wife persisted.

"Why should I?"

"Yes, but--you are a lady. You have reached your majority, you have an
estate of your own--what could be better?"

"And you are your uncle's heiress, you know," added the priest.

"No, I sha'n't live here."

"And how we were hoping for it! The father and I would often speak
about our little mistress. We thought you would surely come to live at
Pogorelka. In the summer it is very nice here. You can go to the woods
and pick mushrooms," tempted the priest's wife.

"We have mushrooms even in a dry summer, plenty of mushrooms," chimed
the priest.

At last Anninka left. When she reached Pogorelka, her first word was,
"Horses! Please have the horses ready at once!" But Fedulych only
shrugged his shoulders.

"What's the use of shouting horses? We haven't fed them yet," he

"But why? Oh, my God, as if everybody were conspiring against me!"

"That's it, we have conspired. How can you help conspiring if it's
clear as day that we can't ride at night in thawing weather? Anyway,
you'll get stranded in the mud a whole night, so it is better to be
stranded at home, I think."

Grandmother's apartments had been well heated. The bedroom had been
prepared, and a samovar was puffing on the table. Afimyushka scraped
together the remnants of tea at the bottom of Arina Petrovna's
tea-caddy. While the tea was drawing, Fedulych stood at the door, his
arms folded, facing the young mistress. Beside him stood the cattle
woman and Morkovna looking as if at the first wave of the hand they
were ready to flee for their lives.

Fedulych was first to begin the conversation.

"The tea is grandmother's--just a bit left in the bottom of the box.
Porfiry Vladimirych was going to take the box away, too, but I wouldn't
let him. 'Maybe,' I say, 'the young mistress will come and will want
to have some hot tea. So let it stay here till she gets some of her
own.' Well, I had no trouble with him--he even joked. 'You old rascal,'
he says, 'you will use it up yourself! Be sure,' he says, 'to bring
the box to Golovliovo.' I wouldn't be surprised if he sends for it

"You should have given it to him then."

"Why should we? He has enough tea of his own. And now, at least, we,
too, will have some after you. Another thing, madam, are you going to
make us over to Porfiry Vladimirych?"

"Why, I never meant to."

"Just so. We were going to mutiny, you know. If, supposing, let's say,
we are put under the rule of the Golovliovo master, we will all hand in
our resignations."

"Why? Is uncle really so terrible?"

"No, he is not terrible, but he tortures you, he is all words. He can
talk a man into his grave."

Anninka smiled involuntarily. It was vile dirt indeed, that oozed from
Yudushka's orations, not mere babble. It was an ill-smelling wound from
which the pus flowed incessantly.

"And what have you decided, about yourself?" Fedulych continued to

"Why, what was there to decide about myself?" said Anninka, a bit
confused, feeling that she would again be compelled to listen to
orations on the "treasure."

"Aren't you really going to give up acting?"

"No--that is, I haven't thought of it so far. But what harm is there in
my earning my own bread?"

"I don't see any good in going with a bagpipe from fair to fair to
amuse drunkards. Surely you are a lady."

Anninka did not reply, only knitting her brows. A painful thought
drummed in her head, "God, when will I leave this place?"

"Of course, you know better how to take care of yourself. But we
thought you would come back to live with us. The house is warm,
and roomy enough to play tag in. The late mistress looked after
the building herself. And if you feel dull, why then you can go
sleigh-riding. In the summer you can go to the woods to pick mushrooms."

"We have all kinds of mushrooms here--lots of them," lisped Afimyushka

Anninka leaned her elbows on the table and tried not to listen.

"There was a girl here," continued Fedulych cruelly. "She was a
chambermaid in St. Petersburg. She says all actresses must have special
passports. Every month they have to present their license at the police

Anninka could bear it no longer. She had had to listen to such speeches
all day long.

"Fedulych!" she shouted in pain. "What have I done to you? Why do you
take pleasure in insulting me?"

It was all she could stand. She felt as if something was strangling
her. Another word--and she would break down.




Not long before the catastrophe that befell Petenka, Arina Petrovna,
on one of her visits to Golovliovo, noticed a change in Yevpraksia.
Brought up in the practices of serfdom, where the pregnancy of
a domestic was the subject of a detailed and not uninteresting
investigation, and was even considered an item of income, Arina
Petrovna had a keen eye for such matters. She merely looked at
Yevpraksia, and the girl, without saying a word, turned away her
flushed face in full cognizance of her guilt.

"Come now, come now, my lady. Look at me. Pregnant, eh?" the
experienced old woman asked the young culprit. However, there was no
reproach in her voice, on the contrary, it sounded jocose, almost gay,
as if the old woman scented a whiff of the dear, good, old times.

Yevpraksia, bashful and complacent, kept silence, but under Arina
Petrovna's inquisitive look, the red of her cheeks deepened.

"For some time I have been noticing that you walk kind of stiff,
strutting about and twirling your skirts as if you were a respectable
lady! But, my dear, you can't fool me with your strutting and twirling.
I can see your girlish tricks five versts ahead! Is it the wind that
puffed you up? Since when is it? Out with it now. Tell me all about

A detailed inquiry ensued, followed by a no less detailed explanation.
When had the first symptoms appeared? Had she a midwife in view? Did
Porfiry Vladimirych know of the joy in store for him? Was Yevpraksia
taking good care of herself? Was she careful not to lift anything
heavy? The findings were that it was now the fifth month since
Yevpraksia had been pregnant; that she had no midwife in view as yet;
that Porfiry Vladimirych had been informed of the matter, but had said
nothing. He had only folded his hands, mumbled something, and glanced
at the ikon, to intimate that all is from God and that He, the Heavenly
Father, provides for all occasions. Yevpraksia had been careless; she
had lifted a samovar and had then and there felt that something inside
of her snapped.

"You've got brains, I must say," said Arina Petrovna in a grieved
tone when the confession was out. "I see I'll have to look into the
matter myself. Did you ever! A woman in the fifth month and hasn't even
provided for a midwife! But why at least didn't you see Ulita about it,
you fool, you?"

"I was going to, but the master doesn't like Ulita, you know."

"Nonsense, girl, nonsense! Whether Ulita offended the master or not has
nothing at all to do with the case. He doesn't have to kiss her, does
he? No, there is no way out of it. I'll have to take this thing in hand

It was on the tip of her tongue to complain that even in her old age
she had hardships to bear, but the subject of the conversation was so
attractive that she only parted her lips with a smack and continued:

"Well, my girl, you are in for it. Take your medicine, try it and see
how it tastes. Go ahead, just try it. I myself raised three sons and
a daughter, and I buried five little ones--I ought to know. We are no
better than slaves to those nasty men!" she added, slapping herself on
the nape of her neck.

Suddenly, she stopped, struck by a new idea. "Holy saints! If it isn't
going to be in Lent! Wait, just a moment, let's figure it out."

They began to figure on their fingers, they figured once, twice, a
third time--it surely came out on a Lenten day.

"So that's how it is. That's the kind of saint he is. Just wait, I'll
tease the life out of him. A pretty mess for him! I'll tease him. My
name is mud if I won't," jested Arina Petrovna.

And truly, that very day, when all were gathered at evening tea, Arina
Petrovna began to poke fun at Yudushka.

"See what a trick our saint has played. Maybe it really is the wind
that puffed your queen up. Well, brother, you've surprised me, I must

At first Yudushka answered his mother's banter with grimaces of
aversion, but seeing that Arina Petrovna spoke good-naturedly and meant
no harm, he brightened up little by little.

"You are wag, mother dear, you certainly are," he jested in his turn,
though evading the real point.

"Why call me a wag? We had better speak seriously about the matter.
It's no joke, you know. It's a 'sacrament,' that's what it is. Though
not a proper one but still----No, we've got to give it serious thought.
What do you think; is she to stay here, or will you send her to the

"I don't know, mother, I don't know a thing, darling," said Porfiry
Vladimirych evasively. "You are a wag, you certainly are."

"Well, my girl, never mind, then. We'll talk it over, just the two of
us, at leisure. We'll figure it out, and arrange things properly. These
mean men--all they need is to satisfy their lust, and we, poor devils,
we get the worst of it."

Arina Petrovna felt in her element. She spent a whole evening
discussing things with Yevpraksia and could have gone on indefinitely.
Even her cheeks began to glow and her eyes to glitter youthfully.

"You know, my dear, what it is? It's something divine, it is," she
insisted. "Because, even if it isn't in the proper way, still it's the
natural way. But you had better look out. If it comes during Lent--God
save you! I'll tease you to death, I'll make this world too hot for

Ulita was also called into the council. First matters of real
importance were taken up; whether an injection was to be made or
whether the abdomen was to be massaged with quicksilver salve. Then
they turned to the favorite theme and figured on their fingers
again--it came out on a Lenten day! Yevpraksia turned as red as a peony
and did not deny it, but pleaded her subordinate position.

"What could I do?" she said. "I must do what he wants me to do. If the
master orders us to do something, we, poor devils, can't help but obey."

"Look at her playing the goody-goody. I'll bet, you yourself---" jested
Arina Petrovna.

The woman fairly revelled in the affair. Arina Petrovna recalled a
number of incidents from her past, and did not fail to narrate them.
First she told of her own pregnancies, what tortures she had had to
stand from Simple Simon; how, while carrying Pavel Vladimirych, she
travelled by post to Moscow, changing horses at every stage so as not
to miss the Dubrovino auction, and as a result nearly departed to the
better world, etc., etc. All her deliveries had been remarkable for
something or other. Yudushka's was the only one that had come easy.

"I didn't feel the least bit of heaviness," she said. "I would sit and
think, 'Lord, am I really pregnant?' And when the time came I just lay
down to rest for a few minutes and I don't know how it happened--I gave
birth to him. He was the easiest son to me, the very, very easiest."

Then followed stories about domestics, how she herself "caught some of
them in the act," how others were spied upon by her trusties, Ulita
being generally the leader. Her old woman's memory faithfully guarded
these remarkably distinct recollections. In all her drab past--always
devoted to hoarding on both a petty and a large scale, the tracking of
lust-stricken domestics was the only romantic element that touched a
living chord in her.

It was as if in a dull magazine where the reader expects to find
treatises on dry fogs and Ovid's grave, he suddenly comes upon "See
the troika, gaily dashing," or some such spirited song of gaiety or
sadness. The dénouement of these simple love affairs of the maids' room
was generally drastic and even cruel. The woman was married off into
a remote village, by all means to a widower with a large family, the
male culprit was degraded to the position of a cattle tender or even
pressed into military service. Arina Petrovna's recollection of the
closing chapters of such romances had faded (cultured people have a
memory indulgent of their own past), but the spying out of the amorous
intrigues passed before her eyes in all its vividness. And no wonder.
In those days there was the same absorbing interest in spying of that
sort as there is nowadays in the serial "evening story," in which the
author, instead of at once crowning the mutual longing of the hero and
the heroine, breaks off at the most pathetic place and writes, "to be

"Those girls gave me no end of trouble. Some would keep up the pretense
to the last minute, and would feign and sham in the hope of eluding me.
But no, my dear, you can't fool me. I am an old hand at it myself," she
added almost sternly, as if threatening some one.

Finally came the stories of diplomatic pregnancies, so to speak, in
which Arina Petrovna had figured not as the chastiser, but as the
accomplice and concealer.

For example, her father Piotr Ivanych, when he was an old, tottering
man of seventy, had also had a "mistress," who had also been discovered
with an "increment"; and for higher considerations it had been
necessary to conceal the "increment" from the old man. As ill luck
would have it, Arina Petrovna was then at odds with her brother Piotr
Petrovich who, also for some diplomatic reasons, had wanted to spy upon
the pregnancy and leave his father in no doubt as to his lady-love's

"And what do you think? We carried the whole thing through almost in
front of father's nose. The old dear slept in his bedroom, and the two
of us, alongside of him, went on with our work, quietly, in a whisper
and on tiptoe. I myself with my own hands closed up her mouth, so she
could not scream, disposed of the linen, and then grabbed hold of her
baby--he was a fine, big fellow--and dispatched him to the foundling
asylum. When brother learned about it a week later he only gasped."

There had been another diplomatic pregnancy. Her cousin Varvara
Mikhailovna had been involved in the case. Her husband had left on a
campaign against the Turks, and she had not been sufficiently careful.
She came galloping to Golovliovo like one possessed and had shouted
"Save me, cousin!"

"Well, though we were on the outs with her at that time, I did not make
her feel it. I welcomed her in the most hospitable way, calmed her,
reassured her, pretended she had just come to us on a visit, and fixed
the matter up so that her husband did not know a thing about it till
his dying day."

Thus ran the tales of Arina Petrovna, and seldom has a narrator found
more attentive listeners. Yevpraksia swallowed every word as if the
incidents of a wonderful fairy tale were actually passing before her
eyes. As to Ulita, she as an erstwhile participant in most of it, only
made smacking sounds with the corners of her lips.

Ulita also brightened up and felt more comfortable than she had for a
long time. Hers was a restless life. Even in childhood she had burned
with servile ambitions. Sleeping and waking, she would dream about
gaining favor in her master's eyes and getting the whiphand over those
in her own station in life. But her dreams never came true. As soon
as she set foot on the rung higher up, she would be tugged back and
plunged into the inferno by an unseen, mysterious power. She possessed
in perfection the qualities of an all-round servant of the gentlefolk.
She was venomous, evil-tongued and always ready for treachery, but
also slavishly ready to go anywhere and do anything that neutralized
her viciousness. In former days, when it was necessary to follow up an
event in the maid servants' room, or settle any dubious affair, Arina
Petrovna had gladly made use of her services, though she had never
appreciated them and had not admitted her to any office of trust.
Ulita would then make loud complaints, and sting with her tongue,
but no one paid attention to her grumblings, for she was well known
as a malevolent woman, ready to curse herself and others to eternal
damnation, but the next moment at a mere wink willing to come running
and sit up on her hind legs prepared to do her master's bidding.

And so she had been knocked about, always trying to get somewhere and
never getting there, till the abolition of serfdom put an end to her
slavish ambitions.

One event in Ulita's youth had kindled in her great hopes. Porfiry
Vladimirych, on one of his visits to Golovliovo, had become intimate
with her, and, as tradition had it, had even had a child by her. That
had brought down upon him the wrath of Arina Petrovna. It is uncertain
whether the relationship had been kept up on his subsequent visits; at
any rate, when Yudushka decided to establish himself permanently at
Golovliovo, Ulita's hopes had been shattered grievously. Immediately
after his arrival she came to him with a heap of gossip, in which
Arina Petrovna was accused of all sorts of fraud. The master listened
very affably to her gossip, but gave Ulita a cold look, evidently
failing to remember her former "good services." Offended and deceived
in her hopes, Ulita transferred herself to Dubrovino, where Pavel
Vladimirych, because of his hatred for his dear brother Porfiry
Vladimirych, received her gladly and even made her his housekeeper.
Here for a long time her condition seemed to improve. Pavel Vladimirych
would sit in the entresol and sip one glass of vodka after another,
and she would run busily from storeroom to cellar, clanging a bunch
of keys, and rattling her tongue. She had even quarrelled with Arina
Petrovna, whom the sly wench nearly drove to her grave.

But Ulita loved treachery too well to be content with the peace and
quiet that had come with her "good living." That was when Pavel
Vladimirych had become so addicted to drink that his end could readily
be foreseen. Porfiry Vladimirych was alive to Ulita's priceless value
at this juncture, and he snapped his fingers again and summoned her.
He ordered her never for a moment to leave his prey, not to contradict
Pavel in anything, not even in his hatred of his brother Porfiry, and
by all means to eliminate the interference of Arina Petrovna. This
had been one of those domestic crimes which Yudushka had a gift of
perpetrating without previous deliberation, spontaneously, and as a
matter of course. Needless to say, Ulita carried out his orders most
faithfully. Pavel Vladimirych never ceased to hate his brother, and the
more he hated him, the more he drank his vodka, and the less capable
he became of heeding the remarks and advice of Arina Petrovna as to
"making provisions." Every moment of the dying man, every word uttered
were at once reported to Golovliovo, so that Yudushka, equipped with a
full knowledge of the facts, could determine the exact moment he should
have to leave his ambush and step in as master of the situation that
he had created. And so he had! He had come to Dubrovino at the very
moment that he could get the estate for the asking. Porfiry Vladimirych
had rewarded Ulita's services by making her a gift of cloth for a
woolen dress, but he never admitted her close to him.

Again Ulita had been plunged from the heights of grandeur into the
depths of inferno. It seemed to be her last fall. No one would snap his
fingers again and summon her for service. As a sign of special favor
and in consideration of her "nursing dear brother in his last days,"
she had been allotted a nook in the house where all the deserving old
servants, who had remained after the abolition of serfdom, had found
shelter. Here Ulita had become completely cowed, and when Porfiry
Vladimirych made his choice of Yevpraksia, she not only had not shown
any obstinacy, but had even been first to come to do homage to the
master's love and had kissed her shoulder.

And now, when she had given herself up as forgotten and abandoned,
she struck luck once more in Yevpraksia's pregnancy. It was suddenly
recalled that somewhere in the servants' room there was a handy person.
Somebody snapped her fingers and summoned Ulita. True, it was not the
master who had snapped his fingers. But that he offered no obstacles
was in itself sufficient grace. Ulita celebrated her entry into the
Golovliovo manor by taking the samovar from Yevpraksia's hands.
Bending sidewise a bit, with the weight of it, she walked smartly into
the dining-room, where Porfiry Vladimirych was already seated. The
master said not a word. He even smiled, she thought, when upon another
occasion, as she was bringing in the samovar, she shouted from a
distance, "Step to one side, master, or I'll scald you."

When Ulita answered the summons to the family council she made wry
faces at first and refused to be seated. But when Arina Petrovna
shouted at her in a kindly way, "Sit down,--will you? What's the use of
your tricks? God made us all equal--be seated." Ulita sat down and kept
silence a while. Very shortly, however, her tongue unloosened.

She, too, had her reminiscences. Her memory was stuffed with filth
from the days of her serfdom. Beside the carrying out of delicate
commissions like dogging the amorous doings of the maids' room, Ulita
had also held the office of leech and apothecary in the Golovliovo
manor. It was she who made all the injections, and applied the
cupping-glasses and mustard plasters. She had given even the old
master, Vladimir Mikhailych and Arina Petrovna injections, and the
young master, too--every one of them. She retained the most grateful
memories, and now there was a boundless field for all her reminiscences.

A new mysterious life animated the Golovliovo manor. Arina Petrovna
would come over from Pogorelka every now and then to pay her "good son"
a visit and supervise preparations that as yet were given no name.
After the evening, the three women would go into Yevpraksia's room,
would eat some homemade jam, play fool, and, till late into the night,
would revel in reminiscences that would often make the heroine of the
occasion blush. The least incident, the smallest trifle, served as
a pretext for endless narrations. Yevpraksia brought some raspberry
jam, and Arina Petrovna began a story that when she was carrying her
daughter Sonya she could not stand even the smell of raspberries.

"No sooner did a raspberry come into the house than I began to yell
at the top of my voice, 'Out, out with that damned thing!' After my
confinement it was all right again; I liked raspberries again."

Yevpraksia brought some caviar--and Arina Petrovna had an incident to
recall in connection with caviar, too.

"A really wonderful thing happened to me in connection with caviar. It
was a month or two after I was married and suddenly I was seized with
such a strong desire for caviar that I simply had to have it at any
cost. I would sneak into the cellar and eat as much as I could. And
once I said to my husband, 'Vladimir Mikhailych, why is it that I eat
caviar all the time?' He smiled at me, you know, and said, 'My dear,
it is because you are pregnant.' And surely enough, just nine months
afterward I gave birth to Simple Simon."

But Porfiry Vladimirych continued to be noncommittal, never once
admitting that he had anything to do with Yevpraksia's condition. Quite
naturally this attitude of his embarrassed the women and dampened their
effusions in his presence, so that he came to be completely abandoned.
They chased him without ceremony from Yevpraksia's room when he came in
the evening to rest up and have a chat.

"Be gone, you fine fellow!" Arina Petrovna said gaily. "You did your
part. Now it's none of your business any more, it's the women's
business. It's our turn now."

Yudushka took himself off in all meekness. Though not neglecting to
reproach his mother dear for being unkind to him, he rejoiced inwardly
that she was taking so much interest in the embarrassing affair, and
that he was left alone. If not for his mother's participation, God
knows what he would have had to undergo in order to hush up the nasty
affair, the very thought of which made him spit out in disgust. Now,
thanks to the experience of Arina Petrovna and the skill of Ulita,
he hoped the "trouble" would pass without gaining publicity, and he
himself, perhaps, would learn of the results after all was over.


Porfiry Vladimirych's hopes were not realized. First occurred the
catastrophe with Petenka, then Arina Petrovna's death. And there was no
possibility in sight of his extricating himself by means of some ugly
machinations. He could not dismiss Yevpraksia for dissolute conduct,
because Arina Petrovna had carried the affair too far and made it too
widely known. Nor was Ulita so very reliable. Dexterous woman though
she was, yet if he put his trust in her, he might have to deal with
the coroner. For the first time in his life Yudushka seriously and
sincerely regretted his loneliness; for the first time he realized
vaguely that the people around him were not mere pawns to be played

"Why didn't she wait a while to die?" Yudushka reproached his mother
dear. "She should have fixed it all up quietly and with good sense,
and then--as she pleased! If it's time to die--you can't help it. I am
sorry for the old woman. But if God wills it so, all our tears, and the
doctors, and the cures, and all of us are naught before the power of
God. The old woman lived long enough. She had her day--was herself a
mistress all her life, and left her children a gentry estate. She lived
to old age--well that's enough."

And as usual his idle mind, not used to dwell on a matter presenting
practical obstacles, skipped to the easier topic that gave occasion to
endless, unhampered verbiage.

"And to think how she died! Why, her death was worthy of a saint," he
lied to himself, not knowing, though, whether he lied or spoke the
truth. "Without ailment, without trouble--just so. She heaved a sigh,
and before we knew it, she was no more. Oh, mother dear! And her smile,
and the glow of her cheeks! Her hands placed together as if she wanted
to confer a blessing. She shut her eyes and--good-by!"

But in the very heat of his sentimental babblings, something would
suddenly prick him. That filthy business again. Fi, fi! "And really why
didn't she wait a while! It was only a matter of a month or so, and
now, look what she did!"

For some time he attempted to pretend ignorance, and answered Ulita's
inquiries just as he had answered his mother's, "I don't know, I don't
know anything."

But Ulita, an impudent woman, who had suddenly become conscious of her
power, could not be dismissed like that.

"Do _I_ know? Have I brought this business on?" she cut him short. And
then he realized that from that moment on the happy combination of the
rôle of adulterer with the rôle of the unconcerned observer of the
consequences of his adultery had become quite impossible.

Nearer and nearer came the disaster, inevitable, tangible. It pursued
him relentlessly and--what was worst of all--it paralyzed his idle
mind. He exerted all possible efforts to rid himself of the thought of
the approaching calamity, to drown it in a torrent of idle words, but
he succeeded only in part. He tried to hide behind the infallibility
of the law of Providence and, as was his custom, turned it into a ball
of thread which he could wind and unwind without end. There was the
parable of the hair falling from a man's head, and the legend of the
house built on sand; but just at the moment when his idle thoughts were
about to roll down into a kind of mysterious abyss, when the endless
winding of the ball seemed quite assured, a single word suddenly
jumped out from the ambush and broke the thread. Alas! That one word
was "adultery" and designated an act of which Yudushka did not wish to
confess himself guilty even to himself.

When all his efforts to forget the disaster or to do away with it
proved futile, when he realized at last that he was caught, his soul
became filled with anguish. He walked back and forth in the room,
thinking of nothing, and he felt that something inside of him trembled
and ached. It was a check that his idle mind felt for the first time.
Up to now, wherever his idle and empty imagination carried him, it
always found boundless space, space that gave room to all possible
kinds of combinations. Even the deaths of Volodka and Petka, even the
death of Arina Petrovna had not baffled his flow of idle thoughts and
words. Those were common, well recognized situations, met by well
recognized, well established forms--requiems, funeral dinners, and
the like. All this he had done in strict accordance with the custom
and thus vindicated himself, so to speak, before the laws of man and
Providence. But adultery--what was that? Why, that meant an arraignment
of his entire life, the showing up of its inner sham. Though he had
formerly been known as a pettifogger, even as a Bloodsucker, gossip
had had so little legal background that he could safely retort, "Prove

And now, all of a sudden--adulterer! A known, convicted adulterer. He
had not even resorted to "measures," so great had been his confidence
in Arina Petrovna; he had not even worked up a story to cover the
thing. And on a Lenten day at that. The shame of it!

In these inner talks with himself, in spite of their confusion, there
was something like an awakening of conscience. But the question was
whether Yudushka would continue along that path or whether his idle
mind would even in this grave matter perform its usual function
of finding a loophole through which he could crawl out and emerge

While Yudushka was thus smarting under his own mental vacuity,
Yevpraksia was undergoing an unexpected inner change. Evidently the
anticipation of motherhood untied the mental fetters that had hitherto
held her bound. Up to that time she had been indifferent to everything
and regarded Porfiry Vladimirych as a "master" in relation to whom she
was a mere subordinate. Now, for the first time, she grasped a definite
idea. It began to dawn on her that here was a state of affairs where
she was the most important figure, and where she could not be driven
about with impunity. As a consequence, even her face, usually blank and
stolid, became lighted up and intelligent.

The death of Arina Petrovna had been the first fact in her
semi-conscious life that produced a sobering effect upon her. No
matter how peculiar the attitude of the old mistress to Yevpraksia's
prospective motherhood was, still there were glimpses of sympathy
in it and nothing of the disgusting evasiveness of Yudushka. So
Yevpraksia had begun to see a protector in Arina Petrovna, as if
expecting that some kind of attack was being planned against her. The
forebodings of that attack were all the more persistent since they were
not illuminated by consciousness, but merely filled the whole of her
being with vague anxiety. Her mind was not vigorous enough to tell her
definitely the point from which the attack would come and the form it
would take; but her instincts had already been so aroused that the very
sight of Yudushka filled her with an inexplicable fear. "Yes, that's
where it will come from," reverberated in the inner chambers of her
soul--from that coffin filled with dead dust, from that coffin she had
so long been tending like a hireling, from that coffin which by some
miracle had become the father and lord of _her_ child! The feeling
this thought awakened in her was akin to hatred and would inevitably
have passed into hatred had it not been diverted by the sympathy and
interest of Arina Petrovna, who, by constant chatter, never gave
Yevpraksia a chance to think.

But Arina Petrovna retired to Pogorelka, and then vanished entirely.
The feeling of anxiety and uneasiness in Yevpraksia became still more

The stillness in which the Golovliovo manor became engulfed was broken
only by a rustle announcing that Yudushka was stealing through the
corridors, listening at the doors. Or sometimes, some one of the
servants would come running from the yard and bang the door of the
maids' room. But then stillness would again creep in from all sides. It
was a dead stillness that filled Yevpraksia's being with superstitions
and anguish. And since she was nearing her time, she had not even the
sleepy feeling to look forward to that came in the evening after a day
of household chores.

She tried once or twice to be affectionate with Porfiry Vladimirych and
engage his kindly sympathies. Her attempts only resulted in brief but
mean scenes that reacted painfully even on her crude sensibilities.
All that was left to her was to sit with her arms folded and think,
that is, be alarmed. And as to the causes for alarm, they multiplied
daily. The death of Arina Petrovna had untied Yudushka's hands and
introduced into the Golovliovo manor a new element of tale-bearing,
which thereafter became the one thing in which Yudushka's soul reveled.

Ulita was aware that Porfiry Vladimirych was afraid and that with his
idle, empty, perfidious character fear bordered on hatred. Besides, she
knew very well that he was incapable not only of attachment but even of
simple pity, and he kept Yevpraksia only because, thanks to her, his
daily life flowed on in an undeviating rut. Equipped with these simple
data, Ulita was in a position to nurse the feeling of hatred that arose
in Yudushka whenever he was reminded of the coming "disaster."

Soon Yevpraksia became entangled in a web of gossip. Ulita every now
and then "reported" to the master. In one instance she complained about
the wasteful disposal of house provisions.

"I am afraid, master, your stuff is spent a bit too fast. I went to the
cellar a while ago to get cured beef. I remembered a new tub had been
begun not long ago, and--would you believe it? I look into the tub and
find only two or three slices at the bottom."

"Is it possible?" said Porfiry Vladimirych, staring at her.

"If I had not seen it myself, I shouldn't have believed it, either.
It's surprising what heaps of stuff are used up! Butter, barley,
pickles--everything. Other folk feed their servants on gruel and
goose-fat, but our servants must have it with butter, and sweet butter
at that."

"Is that so?" exclaimed Porfiry Vladimirych, almost frightened.

At another time she entered casually and "reported" about the master's

"Master, I think you ought to stop Yevpraksia, really. Of course, she
is a girl, inexperienced, but still, take the linen for instance. She
wasted piles of it on bed sheets and swaddling clothes, and it's all
fine linen, you know."

Porfiry Vladimirych merely cast a fiery glance, but the whole of his
empty being was thrown into convulsions by her "report."

"Of course, she cares for her infant," continued Ulita, in a
mellifluous voice. "She thinks Lord knows what, a prince is going to
be born. And I think that he, I mean the infant, could well sleep on
fustian bedding--with such a mother."

At times she simply teased Yudushka.

"Do you know, master, what I was going to ask you?" she began. "What
are you going to do about the infant? Are you going to make him your
son, or will you, like other folk, put him in the foundling asylum."

At this Porfiry Vladimirych flashed such a fierce glance at her that
she was instantly silenced.

And amidst the hatred that was rising from every corner, the moment
drew nearer and nearer when the appearance of a tiny, crying, "servant
of God" would in one way or another bring order into the moral chaos
of the Golovliovo manor, and would increase the number of the "servants
of God" that inhabit this universe.

It was seven o'clock in the evening. Porfiry Vladimirych had had his
after-dinner nap and was in his study filling up sheets of paper with
columns of figures. He was busy with the following problem: How much
money would he now have had, if his dear mother Arina Petrovna had not
appropriated the hundred ruble note his grandfather had given him on
the day of his birth, but had placed it in the bank to the credit of
the minor Porfiry? It came out not much--only eight hundred rubles in

"It isn't a lot of money, let's say," Yudushka mused idly, "but still
it's good to know that you have it for a rainy day. Any time you need
it--you can just go and get it. You don't have to bow to anybody, or
ask favors--just take your own money, given to you by your grandfather.
Oh, mother dear! How could you have acted so rashly?"

Porfiry Vladimirych had allayed the fears that had only recently
paralyzed his capacity for thinking idle nonsense. The glimmerings of
conscience awakened by the difficult position in which Yevpraksia's
pregnancy put him, and by the sudden death of Arina Petrovna, little
by little faded away. His idle mind had done its work, and Yudushka
had finally succeeded by great effort, it is true, in drowning all
thought of the impending "disaster" in his bottomless pit of verbiage.
One could not say he had made up his mind consciously, but rather
intuitively. It was instinct in him that made him revert to his
favorite formula: "I don't know anything, I allow nothing, I forbid
everything," which he applied in every difficulty. On this occasion,
too, it put an end to the inner turbulence that had briefly agitated

Now, this matter of the coming birth was of no concern to him, and
his face assumed an indifferent, impenetrable look. He almost ignored
Yevpraksia, not even calling her by name. If ever he did inquire about
her he would say, "How about that woman--still sick?" He proved to be
so strong that eyen Ulita, who had been through the school of serfdom
and had learned quite a lot about reading people's minds, realized
that to battle with a man who had no scruples and who would go to any
lengths was quite impossible.

The Golovliovo manor was plunged in darkness. Only Yudushka's study and
the side room occupied by Yevpraksia were illuminated by a glimmering
light. Stillness reigned in Yudushka's rooms, broken only by the rattle
of the beads on the counting board and the faint squeak of Yudushka's

Suddenly, in the dead stillness he heard a distant but piercing groan.
Yudushka trembled, his lips quivered, his pencil jerked.

"One hundred and twenty rubles plus twelve rubles and ten kopeks,"
whispered Porfiry Vladimirych, endeavoring to stifle the unpleasant
sensation produced by the groan.

But the groans were now coming with increasing frequency. Finally they
got to be annoying. It became so difficult for him to work that he
left the desk. First he paced back and forth trying not to hear; but
little by little curiosity gained the upper hand. He opened the door
cautiously, put his head into the darkness of the adjacent room and
listened in an attitude of watchful expectation.

"My, I think I forgot to light the lamp before the ikon of the Holy
Virgin, the Assuager of Our Sorrows," flashed through his mind.

Suddenly he heard quick footsteps in the corridor, and he darted back
into his study, cautiously closing the door and mincing on tiptoe to
the ikon.

A moment later he was already in "proper form," so that when the door
opened wide and Ulita rushed into the room, she found him in a pose of
prayer with folded hands.

"I am afraid Yevpraksia's life is in danger," said Ulita, not
hesitating to interrupt Yudushka's prayers. But Porfiry Vladimirych did
not even turn his face; he began to move his lips faster than before,
and instead of answering waved his hand in the air as if to chase away
an annoying fly.

"What's the use of waving your hand? I say Yevpraksia is doing poorly.
She may die any moment," Ulita insisted gruffly.

This time Yudushka turned toward her, but his face was as calm and
unctuous as if he had just been in communion with the Deity, and had
cast off all earthly cares, and did not even understand what could make
people disturb him.

"Though it's sinful to chide after prayer, still as a human being I
cannot keep from complaining. How many times have I not asked you not
to disturb me when I say my prayers?" he said in a voice befitting his
worshipful mood, and permitting himself only a shake of his head as a
sign of Christian reproach. "Well, what has happened?"

"What could have happened? Yevpraksia is in labor and cannot give
birth. As if you haven't heard it before. Oh, you! Go and look at her
at least."

"What is there to look at? Am I a doctor? Can I give her advice, or
what? I don't know anything, I don't know any of your business. I know
there is a sick woman in the house, but why she is sick and what her
sickness is, that, I confess, I never had the curiosity to find out.
Send for the priest if the patient is in danger. That's one piece of
advice I can give you. Send for the priest, pray with him, light the
ikon lamps. And then I'll have tea with the parson."

Porfiry Vladimirych was glad that he expressed himself so well in this
most decisive moment. He looked at Ulita firmly as if he meant to say,
"Well refute me, if you can."

Even she was baffled by his equanimity. "Suppose you do come and take a
look," she repeated.

"I will not go because I have nothing to do there. If it were business,
I would go without being called. If I have to go five versts on
business, I'll go five versts, and if ten versts, I'll go ten. It may
be in wind and storm, but I'll go. For I know there is business to
attend to and I've got to go whether I want to or not."

Ulita thought she was asleep and that in her sleep she saw Satan
himself standing before her and discoursing.

"To send for the priest--that's business! A prayer--do you know what
the Scriptures say about a prayer? 'A prayer cures the afflicted.'
That's what it says. So see to it. Send for the priest, pray together,
and I, too, will pray in the meantime. You will pray there, in the ikon
room, and I will invoke God's mercy here in my study. By joint effort,
you on one side, I on the other, we may after all succeed in making our
prayers heard in Heaven."

The priest was sent for, but before he came, Yevpraksia, in agony,
delivered herself of the child. From the hurried steps and banging
doors, Porfiry Vladimirych understood that something decisive had
happened. And, indeed, in a few minutes hurried steps were heard in the
corridor, and Ulita rushed in holding a tiny creature wrapped up in

"Here! Look at it!" she exclaimed triumphantly, bringing the child
close to the face of Porfiry Vladimirych.

For a moment it looked as if Yudushka were hesitating. His body swayed
forward and a bright spark flashed in his eyes. But only for a moment.
The next instant he turned up his nose squeamishly and waved his hand.

"No, no! I am afraid. I don't like them. Go away, go away!" he began to
stammer, with infinite aversion in his face.

"Why don't you at least ask if it's a boy or a girl?" Ulita pleaded
with him.

"No, no! What for? It's none of my business. It's your affair, and I
don't know anything. I don't know anything, and I don't want to know
either. Go away, for Christ's sake, be gone!"

Again Ulita felt as though she were in a nightmare with Satan standing
in front of her. It exasperated her.

"I'll take him and put him on your sofa. Go nurse him!" That was a

But Yudushka was not the man to be moved. While Ulita was threatening,
he was already facing the ikon, with hands stretched upward. Evidently
he was imploring God to forgive all people, those who sinned knowingly,
and those who sinned unknowingly; those who sinned in word and those
who sinned in deed; and he thanked the Lord that he himself was not a
sinner or an adulterer, and that the Lord in His grace had led him in
the righteous path. Even his nose trembled with the solemnity of his
feeling. Ulita observed him for some time, blew out her lips in disgust
and left.

"God took one Volodka and gave another Volodka," flashed up in
Yudushka's mind quite irrelevantly; but he at once became aware of this
sudden play of thought and spat inwardly in annoyance.

Soon the priest came and chanted and burned incense. Yudushka heard
the drawl of the sexton as he was chanting, "Oh, Zealous Protectress!"
and gladly chimed in. Soon Ulita came running to the door again and
shouted, "He was christened Volodimir!"

Yudushka was moved by the strange coincidence of this circumstance and
his recent aberration of mind. He saw the will of God in it, and this
time he did not spit, but said to himself:

"Well, then, thank God! He took one Volodka and gave another. That's
what God can do. You lose something in one place and you think it's
gone, but God, if He wishes, rewards you for it a hundredfold."

At last it was announced that the samovar was on the table and the
priest was waiting in the dining-room. Porfiry Vladimirych became quite
peaceful and solemn. The Golovliovo priest, Father Aleksandr, was a
polite man, and he endeavored to give his intercourse with Yudushka
a worldly tone. In the landlord's manor there were all-night vigils
every week and on the eve of every principal holiday, in addition to
the ceremonial services performed every first of the month. That meant
an income of over a hundred rubles a year. Father Aleksandr was not
unmindful of this, nor of the fact that the landmarks between the
church lands and Yudushka's lands had not yet been settled upon, and
Yudushka, on passing the church meadows, would many times exclaim, "My,
what fine meadows!" So the priest's worldly behavior toward Yudushka
was tempered by fear, which came out every time the priest visited the
manor. He would work himself up into gay spirits, though he really had
no occasion to feel happy. And when Porfiry Vladimirych gave expression
to heresies concerning the ways of Providence, the after-life, and so
forth, the priest, though not quite approving of the heresies, still
did not consider them sacrilegious and blasphemous, but ascribed them
to the temerity of spirit characteristic of the gentry.

When Yudushka entered, the priest hurriedly gave him his blessing and
just as hurriedly pulled his hand back as if afraid the Bloodsucker
would bite it. He wanted to congratulate his spiritual son on the birth
of the new little Vladimir, but uncertain how Yudushka was taking the
matter, he decided not to congratulate him.

"It's misty outdoors," the priest began. "By popular signs, in which
one may say there seems to be a great deal of superstition, such a
state of the atmosphere signifies that thawing weather is near."

"And maybe it will turn out to be a frost. We are foretelling thawing
weather and God will go ahead and send us a frost," retorted Yudushka,
with a bustling; air of gaiety, and seated himself at the table, this
time attended by the butler Prokhor.

"It is true that man in his aspirations strives to attain the
unattainable and to gain access to the inaccessible; and as a
consequence he incurs cause for penance, or even veritable grief."

"That is why we ought to refrain from guessing and foretelling and
be satisfied with what God sends us. If He sends us warm weather, we
ought to be satisfied with warm weather; if He send us frost, let us
welcome the frost. We'll order the stoves heated more than usual, and
those who travel will wrap themselves tight in fur coats, and there you
are--we're all warm."

"Quite true."

"There are many nowadays who go circling round. They don't like this
and they are dissatisfied with that, and the other thing is not after
their heart, but I don't approve. I don't make forecasts myself, and I
don't care for it in others. It is haughtiness of spirit--that's what I
call it."

"That's true, too."

"We are all pilgrims here, that's how I look at it. Well, as to having
a glass of tea, or a light bite, or something, we are allowed to do
that, for God gave us our body and limbs. Even the government would not
forbid us that. 'You can eat, if you want to,' it says, 'but hold your

"Also perfectly true," exclaimed the priest, tapping the saucer with
the bottom of his empty tea-glass in exultation over the harmony
between them.

"As I understand it, God gave man reason not to explore the unknown,
but to refrain from sin. If I, for instance, feel a craving of the
flesh or a temptation of some kind, I call my reason to the rescue
and say, 'Show me, forsooth, the ways by which I may overcome this
craving,' and I am quite right, for in such cases reason can really be
of great use."

"Still, faith is superior, in a way," the priest offered in slight

"Faith is one thing and reason is another. Faith points out the
goal, and reason finds the way. It goes searching in every direction
till at last it finds something. Take, for instance, all these drugs
and plasters and healing herbs and potions--all of them have been
invented by reason. But we ought to see to it that such invention is in
accordance with faith, to our salvation and not to our ruin."

"I cannot disagree with you in this, either."

"There is a certain book, father, that I read some time ago. It says
that one must not disdain the offices of reason if the latter is
guided by faith, for a man without reason soon becomes the plaything
of passion; and I even think that the first downfall of man came about
because the devil in the shape of the serpent beclouded the human

The reverend father did not object to this either, though he refrained
from assent, since it was not yet clear to him what Yudushka had up his

"We often see that people not only fall into sinful thought, but even
commit crimes, all because of lack of reason. The flesh tempts, and
if there is no reason, man falls into the abyss. Man craves something
sweet, he craves gaiety and pleasure, especially when it comes through
women. How will you preserve yourself without the aid of reason? And
if, let's say, for instance, I do possess reason, I'll take some
camphor and rub it in where necessary, and put some in other parts, and
before you know, the craving is over as if it had never been there."

Yudushka became silent as if waiting to hear what the priest had to
say in response, but the priest was still uncertain what Yudushka was
driving at and therefore he only coughed and said quite irrelevantly:

"There are hens in my yard--very restless on account of the change of
season. They run and jump about, and can't find a place for themselves."

"All because neither birds nor beasts nor reptiles possess reason. What
is a bird? It has no worry, no cares--just flies about. The other day,
for instance, I looked out of the window and saw some sparrows pecking
at manure. Manure is enough for them but not for man."

"Yet in some cases even the Scriptures take birds as examples."

"In some cases, that's true. Where faith without reason can be a man's
salvation, we must do as the birds do, pray to God, compose verses."

Porfiry Vladimirych grew silent. Though talkative by nature and though
the event of the day naturally lent itself to a lengthy discussion, the
most suitable form for the remarks on the subject had evidently not yet
ripened in his mind.

"Birds need no reason," he said at last, "because they have no
temptations. Or, rather, they have temptations but they are never
called to answer for their doings. Birds lead a natural life. They
have no property to take care of, no legitimate marriages, hence no
widowhood. They are responsible neither to God nor to the authorities.
They have only one lord--the cock."

"The cock! That's true. The cock is a sort of Sultan of Turkey to them."

"But man has so arranged his life, that he has given up the liberties
granted to him by nature, and therefore he needs much reason: first, to
keep himself from falling into sin, and second, not to tempt others. Am
I right, father?"

"It is gospel truth. The Scriptures advise us to pluck out the tempting

"That is, if you understand it literally, but there may be a way of
avoiding sin not by plucking out the eyes, but by seeing to it that the
eye is not tempted. One must have more frequent recourse to prayer, and
curb the unruly flesh. Take me, for instance. I am in good health and
vigor, I dare say. Well, I have female servants. Still that does not
disturb me in the least. I know I can't get along without servants,
well then, I keep them. I keep male servants, and female servants of
every kind. A maid is needed in the household to fetch something from
the cellar, to pour the tea, bring in something to eat--well--God bless
her!--She does her work and I do mine, and so we get along very nicely

While speaking Yudushka tried to look into the priest's eyes, and the
latter in his turn, tried to look into Yudushka's. But happily, there
was a burning candle between them, so that they could look at each
other to their hearts' content and see nothing but the flame of the

"And then again, I take it this way. If you become intimate with your
female servants, they'll begin to have their way in the house. And
you'll have squabbles and disorder and quarrels and impertinence. I
like to keep away from such things."

The priest stared so steadily that his eyes began to swim. Good
manners, he knew, demanded that in a general conversation one should
every now and then join in with at least a word. So he shook his head
and muttered:


"And if, at that, one behaves as other folks do, as my dear neighbor,
Mr. Anpetov, for example, or my other neighbor, Mr. Utrobin, then you
can fall into sin before you know it. Utrobin has six offspring on his
place begot in that disgraceful way. But I don't want it. I say that if
God took away my guardian angel, it means that such was His holy will,
that He wanted me to be a widower. And if I am a widower by the grace
of God, I must observe my widowerhood honestly and not contaminate my
bed. Am I right, father?"

"It's hard, sir."

"I know it's hard, but still I observe it. Some say it's hard, and I
say the harder the better, provided God is with you! We can't all have
it sweet and easy. Some of us must bear hardships in the name of God.
If you deny yourself something _here,_ you will obtain it _there. Here_
it is called hardship and _there,_ virtue. Am I right?"

"As right as can be."

"And talking about virtues--they are not all of the same kind. Some
virtues are great, others are small. What do you think?"

"Yes, quite possible, there may be small virtues and great virtues."

"That's just what I say. If a man is careful in his behavior, if he
does not speak vile words, if he does not speak vain words, if he does
not judge others, if, in addition to all this, he does not vex anybody
or take away what is not his--that man will have a clear conscience,
and no mud can soil him. And if anyone secretly speaks ill of a man
like that, give it no heed. Spit at his insinuations--that's the long
and short of it."

"In such cases the precepts of Christianity recommend forgiveness."

"Yes, forgive also. That's what I always do. If someone speaks ill
of me, I forgive him and even pray to God for him. He is the gainer
because a prayer on his behalf goes to Heaven, and I, too, am the
gainer, for after I have prayed I forget about the whole matter."

"That's correct. Nothing lightens one's heart as much as a prayer.
Sorrow and anger, and even ailment, all run before it as does the
darkness of night before the sun."

"Well, thank God, then. And we should always conduct ourselves so that
our life is like a candle in a lantern--seen from every side. Then
we will not be misjudged, for there will be no cause. Take us, for
example. We sat down here a while ago, have been chatting and talking
things over--who could find fault with us? And now let us go and pray
to the Lord, and then--to bed. And tomorrow we shall rise again. Isn't
that so, father?"

Yudushka rose noisily, shoving his chair aside in sign that the
conversation was at an end. The priest also rose and made ready to
raise his arm to bless, but Porfiry Vladimirych, as an indication of
special favor, caught the priest's hand and pressed it in his own.

"So he was christened Vladimir, father?" said Yudushka, shaking his
head sadly in the direction of Yevpraksia's room.

"In honor of the saintly Prince Vladimir, sir."

"Well, God be praised. She is a good and faithful servant, but as to
intelligence--well, she hasn't much of it. That's why they fall into


The whole of the next day Porfiry Vladimirych remained in his study,
praying to God for guidance. On the third day he emerged for morning
tea, not in his dressing gown, as usual, but in full holiday attire,
the way he always dressed when he intended to transact important
business. His face was pale, but radiated inner serenity; a benign
smile played upon his lips; his eyes looked kindly and all-forgiving.
The tip of his nose was slightly red with elation.

He drank his three glasses of tea in silence, and between gulps moved
his lips, folded his hands, and looked at the ikon as if, in spite
of yesterday's vigil, he still expected speedy aid and intercession
from it. Finally he sent for Ulita, and while waiting for her, kneeled
again before the ikon, that he might once more strengthen himself by
communion with God, and also that Ulita might see plainly that what was
about to happen was not his doing, but the work of God. Ulita, however,
as soon as she glanced at Yudushka, perceived there was treachery in
the depth of his soul.

"Well, now I have prayed to God," began Porfiry Vladimirych, and in
token of obedience to His holy will, he lowered his head and spread his

"That's fine," answered Ulita, but her voice expressed such deep
comprehension that Yudushka involuntarily raised his eyes.

She stood before him in her usual pose, one hand upon her breast,
the other supporting her chin. But her face sparkled with suppressed
laughter. Yudushka shook his head in sign of Christian reproach.

"I suppose God bestowed His grace upon you," continued Ulita,
unperturbed by his gesture of warning.

"You always blaspheme," Yudushka blustered. "How many times have I
warned you with kindness, and you are the same as ever. Yours is an
evil tongue, a malicious tongue."

"It seems to me I haven't said anything. Generally when people have
prayed to God, it means that God's grace is visited upon them."

"That's just it--'it seems!' But why do you prate about all that
'seems' to you? Why don't you learn how to hold your tongue when
necessary? I am talking business and she--'it seems to me!'"

Instead of replying Ulita shifted from one foot to the other, as if to
indicate that she knew everything Porfiry Vladimirych had to tell her
by heart.

"Listen to me, you!" Yudushka began. "I prayed to the Lord all day
yesterday, and to-day too, and--look at it from whatever angle you
wish--we've got to provide for Volodka."

"Of course, you've got to provide for him. He is not a puppy, I dare
say. You can't throw him into a pond."

"Wait a while! Let me say a word. You plague. So this is what I say.
Take it any way you please, we've got to provide for Volodka. First, we
must do it out of consideration for Yevpraksia and then we've got to
make a man of him."

Porfiry Vladimirych glanced at Ulita in the hope that she might show
her willingness to have a good long chat with him, but she took the
matter plainly and even cynically.

"You mean me to take him to the foundling asylum?" she asked, looking
straight at him.

"Oh, oh," exclaimed Yudushka, "you are very quick to decide. Oh, Ulita,
Ulita! You always do things in a hurry and without due consideration.
You're always ready to say something rash. How do you know? Maybe I
don't intend to send him to the foundling asylum. Maybe I thought of
something else for Volodka."

"Well, if you did, there's nothing bad about it."

"This is what I was going to say. On the one hand I feel for Volodka,
but on the other hand, if you think the matter over and weigh it
carefully, you see it's impossible to keep him here."

"Of course, what will people say? They'll say, 'How did a little baby
boy come to the Golovliovo manor?'"

"Yes, they'll say that and other things. And besides, to stay here will
be of no benefit to him. His mother is young, and she'll spoil him.
I am old, and though I have nothing to do with the matter, still, in
consideration of his mother's faithful service, I would also be easy
with him. You can't help it, you know, the little fellow will have to
be flogged for doing mischief, but how can you? It's this and that, and
a woman's tears, and screams, and all. Am I right?"

"Yes, quite right. It is annoying."

"What I want is, that all should be well in our house. I want to
see Volodka become a real man in time, a servant of God and a good
subject of the Czar. If God wants him to be a peasant, I should like
him to know how to plow, mow, chop wood--a little of everything. And
if it will be his lot to be of a more exalted station, I want him to
know some trade, some profession. Children from the foundling asylum
sometimes rise to be teachers."

"From the foundling asylum? They are made generals at once, I suppose."

"Well, I wouldn't say generals, but still--maybe Volodka will live to
be a famous man. And as to the manner they are brought up in there,
it's excellent. I know all about it myself. Clean beds, healthy
wet-nurses, white linen clothes, nipples, bottles, diapers, in a word,

"Yes, it couldn't be better--for illegitimates!"

"And if he is placed in the country as a fosterchild, well, that will
be just as good. He will get used to toil from his young days. Toil,
you know, is as good as prayer. We, you see, pray in the regular way.
We stand before the ikon, make the sign of the cross, and if our prayer
pleases God, He rewards us for it. But the peasant--he toils. Sometimes
he would be glad to pray in the proper way, but he hasn't the time
for it. But God sees his labors and rewards him for his toil just as
He rewards us for our prayers. We can't all live in palaces and go to
balls and dances. Some of us must live in smoky hovels and take care
of Mother Earth and nurse her. And as to where happiness lies, there
are two guesses to it. Some live in palaces and in luxury, and yet shed
tears; others live behind clay walls on bread and cider, yet feel as if
they were in paradise. Am I right?"

"Nothing better if you feel as if you were in paradise."

"So, my dear, that's what we will do. Take that little rascal Volodka,
wrap him up warm and cosy and go to Moscow at once with him. I'll
order a roofed cart for you and a pair of good horses. The road is
smooth, straight, fair, no puddles, no pitfalls. You'll roll along
merrily. But see to it that everything is done in the best fashion, in
Golovliovo fashion, just the way I like things to be done. The nipple
should be clean, and the bottle, clothes, and sheets, and blankets, and
diapers--take enough of everything. And if they won't give it all to
you, come and tell me. When you get to Moscow, stop at an inn. Ask for
enough to eat and a samovar and tea and all that. Oh, Volodka, dear!
What trouble you are to me! It breaks my heart to part with you, but it
can't be helped, my child. When you grow up, you'll see that it was for
your own good, and you'll thank me for it."

Yudushka raised his hands slightly and moved his lips in sign of inner
prayer. But that did not prevent him from glancing sideways at Ulita
and noticing the sarcastic quivering of her face.

"Well, what--did you want to say something?"

"No, nothing. Of course, you know--he'll thank his benefactors--if he
finds them."

"Oh, you wicked thing! You think we'll place him there without a proper
card? Why, of course, you'll take out a card, from which document we'll
be able to find him. They'll bring him up and teach him sense, and then
we'll come with the card and say, 'Here, now, let's have our fellow,
our Volodka.' With the card we'll get him from the bottom of the sea.
Am I right?"

Ulita made no reply. The caustic quivering of her face showed more
distinctly than before and it exasperated Porfiry Vladimirych.

"You are a mean thing," he said. "The devil dwells in you. Fi, fi!
Well, enough. To-morrow, before the sun is up, you'll take Volodka and
quickly, so that Yevpraksia does not hear you, and set out for Moscow.
You know where the Foundling Asylum is?"

"I've carried them," Ulita answered laconically, as if hinting at
something in the past.

"Well, if you are used to it--all the better for you. You must know all
the ins and outs of the place. Be sure to place him there and bow low
before the authorities--like this." Yudushka rose and bowed, touching
the floor with his hands.

"Beg of them to make him comfortable. And be sure to get the card,
don't forget! The card will help us find him anywhere. I'll allow you
two twenty-five ruble bills for expenses. I know how it is--you'll
have to give some here and put a couple of rubles there. Ah, ah, how
sinful man is! We are all human beings, nothing but human beings! We
all like sweets and dainties. Why, even our Volodka! Look at him--he is
no bigger than my finger nail--and see the money I've already spent on

Yudushka crossed himself and bowed low before Ulita, silently begging
her to take good care of the little rascal.

Thus, in the simplest way, was the future of the little illegitimate
arranged for.

The next morning, while the young mother was tossing about in delirium,
Porfiry Vladimirych was standing at the window in the dining-room,
moving his lips and making the sign of the cross on the window pane.
A cart, roofed over with mats, was leaving the front yard. It was
carrying Volodka away.

It climbed up the hill, drove by the church, turned to the left and
vanished in the village. Yudushka made another sign of the cross and

"The other day the priest was speaking about thawing weather," he
said to himself, "but God sent us a frost instead. And a fine frost,
at that. So it always is with us. We dream, we build castles in the
air, we philosophize proudly and think we'll excel God Himself in
His wisdom, but God in a trice turns our haughtiness of spirit into




Yudushka's agony commenced when the resources of loquaciousness,
in which he had so freely indulged, began to give out. A void had
formed around him. Some had died, others had deserted him. Even
Anninka preferred the miserable future of a nomadic actress to the
flesh-pots of Golovliovo. Yevpraksia alone remained. But Yevpraksia's
conversational gifts were limited, and, more than that, Yevpraksia was
now a changed person. It was the difference that had occurred in her
which convinced Yudushka that his halcyon days were gone forever.

Till then Yevpraksia had been so helpless that Porfiry Vladimirych
could tyrannize over her without the slightest risk, and her mental
development was so backward and her character so flabby that she had
not even felt the oppression. During Yudushka's harangues she would
look into his eyes apathetically, and think of something else. But now
suddenly she grasped something important, and the first consequence of
awakened understanding was repugnance, sudden and half-conscious, but
vicious and insuperable.

Anninka's stay had evidently not been without results for Yevpraksia.
The casual conversations with the young actress had quite upset her.
Previously she would never have dreamed of wondering why Porfiry
Vladimirych, as soon as he met a man, instantly started to weave around
him an oppressive net of words, sinister in their emptiness. Now she
perceived it was not talking that Yudushka did, but tyrannizing, and
it would be well worth the while to pull him up short and make him
feel the time had come for him, too, to go easy. So, from now on, she
listened to his endless flow of words and soon realized that the one
purpose of Yudushka's talk was to worry, annoy, nag.

"The mistress herself said she didn't know why he talked so much,"
Yevpraksia reasoned. "No, it's his meanness working in him. He knows
who is unprotected and at his mercy. And so he turns and twists them
anyway he wants to."

But that was only secondary. The main effect of Anninka's visit was
that it stirred up the instincts of youth in Yevpraksia, which had
hitherto smouldered in her undeveloped mind and now suddenly flared up
in a blaze. Many things became clear to her--for instance, why Anninka
had refused to remain at Golovliovo and why she had said flatly, "It's
horrible here!" She had acted that way because she was young and wanted
to enjoy life. Yevpraksia, too, was young, indeed she was! It only
seemed that her youth was crushed under a load of fat, in reality it
manifested itself quite boldly. It called and lured her; its flame
now died down, now flared up. She had thought Yudushka would do for
her, but now she perceived her mistake. "The old, rotten stump, how he
got round me!" ran through her mind. "Wouldn't it be fine now to live
with a real lover, young and handsome? He would hug me and kiss me and
whisper caressing words in my ear. The old scarecrow, how did he ever
tempt me? The Pogorelka lady must have a lover, I'm sure. That's why
she gathered up her skirts and sailed away so rapidly. And I must sit
here, in a jail, chained to that old man."

Of course, some time passed before Yevpraksia mutinied openly; but once
on the road of revolt she did not halt. A storm was brewing within
her, and her hatred grew each minute. Yudushka, for his part, remained
in ignorance of her state of mind. Yevpraksia began with general
complaints, such as "he has spoiled my life." Then came comparisons.
"In Mazulina," she reflected, "Pelageyushka lives with her master as a
housekeeper. She never does a stroke of work, and wears silk dresses.
She sits in a cosy little room doing bead embroidery. How I hate you
now, you old fright; How I hate you, I hate you!" she wound up with a

In addition to this, the main cause of irritation, there was another
one, one that was valuable because it could serve as a good occasion
for the declaration of war against Yudushka. It was her confinement and
the disappearance of her son Volodya.

At the time of the child's removal Yevpraksia had been rather
indifferent. Porfiry Vladimirych had curtly announced that the baby
had been entrusted to reliable people, and he presented her with a new
shawl by way of solace. Then life resumed its course, and Yevpraksia
plunged into the mire of household affairs with greater industry than
before, as if to atone for her unsuccessful motherhood. But whether the
mother feeling continued to smoulder in her, or whether it was merely a
whim, at any rate, the memory of Volodka came back to her, and at the
precise moment when Yevpraksia felt the breath of freedom and it began
to dawn upon her that there existed another life different from that
at Golovliovo. The occasion was too good not to be taken advantage of.

"To think of what the scoundrel has done!" she reflected, trying
consciously to work herself into a rage. "He has robbed me of my own
child. Just as one drowns a pup in the pond."

Little by little the thought filled her mind completely. She came to
believe that she had always longed for her child passionately. Her
hatred of Porfiry Vladimirych fed on this new and rapidly growing

"At least, I should have had something to amuse me now. Volodya,
Volodyushka! My dear little son! Where are you now? He must have
shipped you to some wretched peasant woman. God curse them, the damned
gentry. They bring children in the world and then throw them like pups
into a ditch, and no one takes them to account. It would have been
better for me to cut my throat than to allow that shameless old brute
to outrage me."

Her hatred was now ripe. She felt a desire to vex and pester him and
spoil life for him. War began, the most unbearable of wars, squabbles
and provocations, and petty pricking. It was the only form of warfare
that could have subdued Porfiry Vladimirych.


One morning when Porfiry Vladimirych was sitting at tea, he was
unpleasantly surprised. He was discharging masses of verbal pus, while
Yevpraksia, with a saucer of tea in her hand and a piece of sugar
between her teeth, was listening in silence, snorting from time to
time. Warm, fresh-baked bread had been served, and he had just begun
to develop a theory of his own to the effect that there are two kinds
of bread, visible bread which we eat and thereby sustain our bodies,
and the invisible, spiritual bread of which we partake for the good
of our soul. Suddenly Yevpraksia broke in upon his discourse most

"People say Palageyushka lives so well at Mazulino," she began, turning
her entire body round to the window and swinging her crossed feet with
impudent nonchalance.

Yudushka was somewhat startled by the unexpected remark, but attributed
no peculiar importance to it.

"In case we don't eat visible bread for a long time," he went on, "we
feel bodily hunger; and if we don't partake of the spiritual bread for
some length of time----"

"I say, Palageyushka certainly lives well at Mazulino," Yevpraksia
interrupted again.

Porfiry Vladimirych, somewhat startled, looked at her in amazement, but
refrained from scolding, evidently smelling a rat.

"If Palageyushka has a fine life, let her," he replied meekly.

"Her master," Yevpraksia kept on provokingly, "makes it nice and easy
for her, he does not compel her to work, and dresses her in silk."

Yudushka's amazement grew. Yevpraksia's words were so preposterous that
he was taken completely by surprise.

"A different dress every day, one to-day, one to-morrow, and another
for holidays. She drives to church in a four-horse carriage. She goes
first, and the master follows. When the priest sees her carriage, he
has the bells rung. Then she sits in her own room. If her master wishes
to spend some time with her, she receives him in her room. And her maid
entertains her, or she does bead embroidery."

"Well, what of it?" asked Porfiry Vladimirych, at last coming to his

"I was just telling what a pleasant life Palageyushka leads."

"And you, is your life worse? My, my, aren't you insatiable!"

Had Yevpraksia left his remark unanswered, Porfiry Vladimirych would
have belched forth a torrent of empty words to drown her foolish hints.
He would have resumed his twaddle. But apparently Yevpraksia had no
intention of holding her tongue.

"I can't say that," she snapped back. "My life is not a sad one. Thank
goodness I don't wear tick. Last year you bought me two calico dresses
and paid five rubles for each. How generous!"

"And how about the woolen dress? And for whom was a shawl bought
lately? My, my!"

Instead of answering, Yevpraksia placed her elbows on the table and
flashed on Yudushka a side glance brimming over with such deep contempt
that, unaccustomed to such looks, he was overcome with something like

"Do you know how the Lord punishes ingratitude?" he mumbled feebly,
hoping the reference to God would bring the woman to her senses. But
his remark did not placate the mutineer. She cut him short at once.

"Don't talk me blind!" she exclaimed, "and don't drag in God. I'm not a
baby. Enough! I've had enough of your tyranny."

Porfiry Vladimirych grew silent. His glass of tea stood untouched. His
face grew pale, his lips trembled, as if trying vainly to curl up into
a grin.

"These are Anninka's tricks," he said finally, though without a clear
perception of what he was saying. "It's she, the snake, who has incited

"What tricks do you mean?"

"I mean the way you are talking to me. She, she taught you. No one
else!" he foamed in a rage. "Give her silk dresses! The impudence!
Do you know, you shameless creature, who in your position wears silk

"Tell me and I will know."

"The most--the most dissolute ones. They are the only ones who wear
silk dresses."

But Yevpraksia was not impressed. On the contrary, she answered him
back with saucy arguments.

"I don't know why you call them dissolute. Everybody knows it's the
masters that insist upon it. If a master seduces one of us, well, she
lives with him. You and I are not so saintly either, we are doing the
same as the Mazulina master and his queen."

"Oh, you! Fie, fie, for shame!"

Yudushka stared at his rebellious companion in utter consternation. A
flow of empty words came tripping to his tongue, but for the first time
in his life he felt a vague suspicion that there are occasions when
even talk is useless.

"Well, my friend, I see there's no use talking to you to-day," he said,
rising from the table.

"Neither to-day, nor to-morrow--never! No more of your tyranny! I've
listened to you enough; now it's time for you to listen to me."

Porfiry Vladimirych made a movement as if to throw himself at her with
clenched fists, but she protruded her chest with such determination
that he lost heart. He turned his face to the ikon, lifted up his hands
prayerfully, mumbled a prayer, and trudged slowly away into his room.

The whole day he felt uneasy. He had no definite fears for the future,
but the feeling that something had broken in upon his well-ordered life
and had passed unpunished greatly upset him. He did not go to dinner,
pleading ill health, and in a meek, feeble voice asked that his food
be brought into his room. In the evening after tea, which passed in
silence for the first time in his life, he rose, as was his habit, to
say his prayers. In vain did his lips seek to whisper the customary
words. His agitated mind refused to follow the prayer. A persistent
enervating anxiety pervaded his being, and he involuntarily strained
his ear to catch the dying echoes of the day, which were lingering
in the various corners of the vast manor-house. Finally, when even
the yawning of the people could be heard no more, and the house was
plunged in the profoundest quiet, he could not hold out any longer.
Stealing noiselessly along the corridor, he went to Yevpraksia's room
and put his ear to the door to listen. She was alone, and Yudushka
heard her yawning and saying, "Lord! Savior! Holy Virgin," as she
scratched her back.

Porfiry Vladimirych tried the knob, but the door was locked.

"Yevpraksia, darling, are you there?" he called.

"Yes, but not for you!" she snapped, so rudely that he immediately
retreated to his room.

The next morning there was another conversation. Yevpraksia
intentionally selected morning tea for launching her attacks on Porfiry
Vladimirych. She felt instinctively that a spoiled morning would fill
the entire day with anxiety and pain.

"I'd like to see how some people live," she began in a rather enigmatic

Yudushka changed countenance. "It's beginning," flashed through his
mind; but he held his tongue and waited for what would come next.

"It's fine to live with a handsome young friend, upon my word. You walk
about in the rooms and look at each other. Not a cross word exchanged.
'My darling' and 'my heart'--that's your whole conversation. Lovely and

The subject was peculiarly hateful to Porfiry Vladimirych. Although of
necessity he tolerated adultery within strict limits, he nevertheless
considered lovemaking a diabolical temptation. This time, however, he
restrained himself, all the more so because he wanted his tea. The
tea-pot had been boiling on the samovar for quite some time, but
Yevpraksia seemed to have forgotten about filling the glasses.

"Of course, many of us women are foolish," she went on, impudently
swinging in her chair and drumming on the table with her fingers. "Some
are so silly that they are ready to do anything for a calico dress;
others give themselves away for nothing at all. 'Cider,' you said,
'drink as much as you please,' A fine thing to seduce a woman with!"

"Is it from interest alone that----" Yudushka risked a timid remark,
watching the tea-pot from which steam had begun to escape.

"Who says from interest alone? Is it I who am a selfish woman?" cried
Yevpraksia heatedly, suddenly shifting the conversation. "Do you mean
to reproach me for the bread I eat?"

"I don't reproach you. I only said that not from interest alone do

"'I said'! Talk, but talk sensibly. The idea! I serve from interest!
Kindly permit me to ask you what particular advantage I have derived
except cider and gherkins?"

"Well, cider and gherkins are not the only things----" ventured
Yudushka, unable to restrain himself.

"What else have I gotten? Let me hear, let me hear!"

"Who sends four sacks of flour to your parents every month?"

"Four sacks. What else?"

"Groats, hemp-seed oil and other things----"

"So you are begrudging my poor parents the wretched groats and oil you
send them? Oh, you!"

"I am not begrudging them. It's you----"

"Now you are accusing me. I can't eat a crust of bread without being
reproached for it, and it's I who am blamed for everything."

Yevpraksia could hold out no longer and burst into tears. Meanwhile
the tea kept on boiling, so that Porfiry Vladimirych became seriously
alarmed. So he suppressed his growing temper, seated himself beside
Yevpraksia and patted her on her back.

"Well, well. All right. Pour the tea. What is all this crying for?"

Yevpraksia emitted a few more sobs, pouted and looked into space with
her dull eyes. "You have just been speaking of young fellows," he
went on, trying to lend his voice as caressing a ring as possible.
"Well--after all, I'm not so old, am I?"

"The idea! Leave me alone."

"Come, come. I--do you know--when I served in St. Petersburg, our
director wanted to give me his daughter in marriage?"

"Must have been an old maid--or a cripple."

"No, she was quite a presentable young lady. And how she sang, how she

"Maybe she sang well, but you accompanied her badly," she retorted.

"No, I----"

Porfiry Vladimirych was completely put out. He was ready to act against
his conscience and show that he, too, was skilled in the art of
love-making. So he began to rock his body rather clumsily and went so
far as to make an attempt to embrace Yevpraksia round her waist. But
she drew back firmly from his outstretched arms and cried out angrily:

"Do me a favor and leave me, you goblin! Else I'll scald you with this
boiling water. And I don't want your tea. I don't want anything. The
idea--to reproach me for the piece of bread I eat. I'll go away from
here! By Jesus, I will!"

She banged the door and ran out, leaving Porfiry Vladimirych alone in
the dining-room.

Yudushka was completely puzzled. He began to pour the tea himself, but
his hands trembled so violently that he had to call a servant to his

"No, this is impossible. I must think up something, arrange matters,"
he whispered, pacing up and down the dining-room in excitement.

But he turned out to be quite unable "to think up something" or "to
arrange matters." His mind was so accustomed to leaping unrestrainedly
from one fantastic subject to another, that the simplest problem of
workaday reality threw him off his balance. No sooner did he make an
effort to concentrate than a swarm of futile trifles attacked him from
all sides and shut actuality out from his consideration. A strange
stupor, a kind of mental and moral anæmia possessed his being. He was
constantly lured away from the hard realities of life to the pleasant
softness of phantoms, which he could shift and rearrange at will and
without any hindrance whatever.

He spent the entire day in solitude, for Yevpraksia did not make her
appearance at dinner or at evening tea. She stayed at the priest's
the entire time and returned late in the evening. Yudushka's distress
was extreme. He could not apply himself to any task, he even lost his
wonted interest in trifles. One irrepressible thought tormented him:
"I must somehow arrange matters, I must." He could not engage in idle
calculations, nor even say prayers. He felt that a strange ailment was
about to attack him. Many a time he halted before the window in the
hope of concentrating his wavering mind on something, or distracting
his attention, but all in vain.

It was early spring. The trees stood naked and the new grass had not
yet appeared. Black fields, spotted here and there with white cakes of
snow, stretched far away. The road was black and boggy and glittered
with puddles. Yudushka saw it all as through a mist. There was no
one round the rain-soaked servants' buildings, though all the doors
were ajar. Nor could he reach anyone in the manor-house, although he
constantly heard sounds as of doors banging in the distance. "How fine
it would be," he mused, "to turn invisible and overhear what the knaves
are saying about me. Do the rascals appreciate my favors or do they
return abuse for my kindness? You stuff their bellies from morning till
night, and still they squeal for more. Only the other day we opened a
barrel of pickled cucumbers, and----" But no sooner did his thoughts
embark upon the exploration of some fantastic subject, no sooner did
he began to calculate how many pickles the barrel held and how many
pickles one man could consume, than the piercing thought of Yevpraksia
brought him back to harsh reality and upset all his calculations.

"She went away without so much as saying a word to me," he reflected,
while his eyes scanned the distance, endeavoring to sight the priest's
house, in which Yevpraksia was in all probability chatting away at that

Dinner was served. Yudushka sat at table alone slowly sipping thin
soup (_she_ knew he hated thin soup and had had it cooked watery on
purpose). "I imagine the Father must be distressed by Yevpraksia's
unbidden visit," he reflected. "She's a hearty eater and an extra
dish, perhaps a roast, will have to be served for the guest." His
imagination began to run away with him once more, and his mind began to
ponder over questions like these: How many spoonfuls of cabbage-soup
will Yevpraksia swallow? How many spoonfuls of gruel? What would the
Father say to his wife about Yevpraksia's visit? How do they abuse her
when alone? All this, the food and the conversation, hovered before his
eyes with corporeal vividness.

"I fancy they all guzzle the soup from the same dish. The idea! A
fine place she found to hunt for knick-knacks. Outside it's wet and
slushy--just the kind of weather that breeds disease. Soon she will
return, her skirt all dripping with mud, the disgusting creature. Yes,
I must, I must do something!" All his musings inevitably ended with
this phrase.

After dinner, he lay down for his nap, as usual, but tossed from side
to side, unable to fall asleep. Yevpraksia came back after dark and
stole into her nook so quietly that he did not observe her entrance. He
had ordered the servants to let him know when she returned, but none
of them said a word, as if they had agreed among themselves. He made
another attempt to penetrate into her room, but again found the door

Next morning Yevpraksia made her appearance at tea, but now her words
were even more alarming and threatening.

"Dear me, where is my little Volodya?" she began, speaking in a
studiously tearful tone.

Porfiry Vladimirych shuddered.

"If I could have the tiniest glimpse of him, if I could see how the
darling suffers away from his mother! But maybe he is dead already."

Yudushka's lips whispered a prayer.

"It isn't the same as at other people's here. When Palageyushka gave
birth to a daughter, they dressed the baby in batiste and silks and
made a pink little bed for her. The nurse received more sarafans and
frontlets than I ever had. And here--oh, you!"

Yevpraksia abruptly turned her head toward the window and sighed

"It is true what they say, that all the gentry are an abomination," she
went on. "They make children and then throw them in the swamp, like
puppies. What does it matter to them? They owe no account to anybody.
Is there no God in Heaven? Even a wolf would not act like that."

Porfiry Vladimirych felt like a man sitting on pins and needles. He
restrained himself for a long time, but finally could stand it no
longer and said through clenched teeth:

"This is the third day that I've been listening to your talk."

"Well, why should _you_ do all the talking? Other people have a right
to say a word, too. Yes, sir! You've had a child. What have you done
with it? I bet you let him rot in the hands of a wretched peasant woman
in a dirty hut. I suppose the baby is lying somewhere in filth, sucking
at a bottle turned sour, with no one to take care of it, and feed and
clothe it."

She shed tears and dried her eyes with the end of her neckerchief.

"The Pogorelka lady was right; she said it's horrible here with you. It
_is_ horrible. No pleasures, no joy, nothing but mean, underhand ways.
Prisoners in jail are better off. At least, if I had a baby now, there
would be something to amuse me. But you have taken it away from me."

Porfiry Vladimirych sat shaking his head in torture. From time to time
he groaned.

"Oh, how painful!" he finally said.

"Painful? Well, you have made the bed, lie on it. Upon my word, I
shall go to Moscow and have a look at my dear little Volodya. Volodya,
Volodya! Da-a-ar-ling! Master, shall I take a trip to Moscow?"

"It's no use," answered Porfiry Vladimirych in a hollow voice.

"Then I'll go without asking your permission, and no one can stop me.
Because I am--a mother!"

"What sort of mother are you? You are a strumpet--that's what you are,"
Yudushka finally burst out. "Tell me plainly what you want of me."

Yevpraksia, apparently, was not prepared for this question. She stared
at Yudushka and kept silence, as if wondering what she really wanted of

"So you call me a strumpet already?" she exclaimed, bursting into tears.

"Yes, a strumpet, a strumpet, a strumpet! Fie, fie, fie!"

Utterly enraged, Porfiry Vladimirych leapt to his feet and ran out of
the room.

That was the last flicker of energy. Then he began rapidly to collapse,
while Yevpraksia kept up her campaign. She had enormous power at her
disposal, the stubbornness of stupidity, sometimes truly appalling
because always trained upon the same point with the sole object of
annoying, teasing, plaguing. Little by little the confines of the
dining-room became too narrow for her. She invaded the study and
attacked Yudushka within the precincts of that sanctuary, into which
she would not even have thought of entering formerly when her master
was "busy." She would come in, seat herself at the window, stare
into space, scratch her shoulder blades on the post of the window,
and begin to storm at him. She was especially fond of harping on the
threat of leaving Golovliovo. As a matter of fact, she had never
seriously thought of carrying out her threat, and she would have been
astonished had anyone suggested to her that she return to her parental
roof. But she suspected that Porfiry Vladimirych feared her desertion
more than anything else, and she spared neither time nor energy in
taking advantage of this. She approached the subject cautiously and
in a roundabout way. She would sit a while, scratch her ear, and then
remark, as if in a reminiscent frame of mind:

"To-day, I suppose, they are baking pancakes at father's."

At this prefatory remark Yudushka would grow green with rage. He was
just getting ready to plunge into a complicated computation of how much
he would get for his milk if all the cows of the neighborhood perished
and none but his own, with God's help, remained unharmed and doubled
their yield of milk.

"Why are they baking pancakes there?" he asked, trying to force a
smile. "Goodness, to-day is Memorial Day! Isn't it stupid of me to have
forgotten about it? And there's nothing in the house with which to
honor the memory of my late mother. What a sin!"

"I should like to eat father's pancakes."

"Why not? Give orders to have them baked. Get hold of cook Marya or
Ulita. Ulita cooks delicious pancakes."

"Maybe she has pleased you in some other way, too," remarked Yevpraksia

"No, but, oh, she's a witch at cooking pancakes, Ulita is. She cooks
them light, soft--a sheer delight!"

Porfiry Vladimirych was evidently trying to mollify Yevpraksia, but to
no avail.

"What I want is not yours, but father's pancakes," she answered,
playing the spoiled darling.

"Well, that's not difficult. Get hold of the coachman, have him put a
pair of horses to the carriage, and drive over to father's."

"No, sir, that won't do. If I've fallen in the trap, that's my own
fault. Who has any use for one like me? You yourself called me a
strumpet the other day. It's no use!"

"My, my! Isn't it a sin in you to accuse me falsely? Do you know how
God punishes false accusations?"

"You did call me strumpet! You did! You did it in the presence of this
ikon. How I hate your Golovliovo! I shall run away from here. I shall,
by God!"

In the course of this spirited dialogue Yevpraksia behaved in a rather
unconstrained manner. She swung about on the chair, picked her nose,
and scratched her back. She was obviously playing comedy.

"Porfiry Vladimirych, I should like to tell you something," she went on
mischievously. "I want to go home."

"Do you wish to pay a visit to your parents?"

"No, I mean to stay there altogether."

"What's the matter? Has anybody offended you?"

"No, but--I'm not going to stay here forever. Besides, it's too dull
here--it's frightful. The house is like a deserted place. The servants
poke themselves away in the kitchens and their own quarters, and I sit
in the house all alone. Some of these days I shall be murdered. At
night, when I go to bed, strange whispers come from every corner."

Days went by, but Yevpraksia never thought of carrying out her threat;
which did not lessen its effect on Porfiry Vladimirych. It dawned upon
him that in spite of his labors, so-called, he was utterly helpless,
that if there were not someone to take care of his household affairs,
he would have no dinner, no clean linen, no decent clothing. Hitherto
he had not been aware of the fact that his surroundings had been
artificially created. His day had passed in a manner established once
and for all. Everything in the house centered around his person and
existed for him; everything was done in its proper time, everything was
in its proper place; in short, there reigned such mechanical precision
everywhere that he gave no thought to it. Owing to this clock-work
orderliness he could indulge in idle talk and thought without running
against the sharp corners of reality. Of course, this artificial
paradise held together only by a hair; but Yudushka, always centered
in himself, did not know it. His life seemed to him to be built on a
rock-bottom foundation, unchangeable, eternal. And suddenly the edifice
was about to collapse because of Yevpraksia's foolish whim. Yudushka
was completely taken aback. "What if she really leaves?" he reflected
panic-stricken. And he began to frame all sorts of preposterous plans
to keep her from going. He even decided on concessions to Yevpraksia's
rebellious youth which would never before have entered his mind.

"Ugh, ugh, ugh!" he thought, and spat out in disgust when the
possibility of having anything to do with the coachman Arkhip or the
clerk Ignat presented itself to him in all its offensive nakedness.

Soon, however, he became convinced that his fears were groundless.
Thereupon his existence entered a new and quite unexpected phase.
Yevpraksia did not leave him, she even abated her attacks, but, to
compensate, deserted him altogether. May set in, the weather was fair,
and Yevpraksia scarcely ever put in appearance. She ran in for a moment
and the next moment had disappeared. In the morning Yudushka did not
find his clothing in its usual place, and he had to engage in lengthy
negotiations with the servants before he got clean linen. His tea and
meals were served either too early or too late, and he was waited upon
by the tipsy lackey Prokhor, who came in a stained coat emanating a
peculiarly disgusting odor of fish and vodka.

Nevertheless, Porfiry Vladimirych was glad that Yevpraksia left him
in peace. He even reconciled himself to the disorder as long as he
knew that there was someone to bear the responsibility for it. What
frightened him was not so much the disorder as the thought that it
might be necessary for him to interfere personally in the details of
everyday life. He pictured with horror the minute he would have to
administer, give orders and supervise. In anticipation of that awful
moment, he endeavored to stifle the voice of protest that at times rose
in him, tried to shut his eyes to the confusion reigning in the house,
and keep in the background and hold his tongue.

In the meantime open debauchery made its nest in the manor-house. With
the coming of fair weather a new life pervaded the estate, hitherto
quiet and gloomy. In the evening all the servants, both young and old,
went out in the village streets. The young people sang, played the
accordion, laughed merrily, screamed and played tag.

The clerk Ignat appeared in a flaming red shirt and an astonishingly
narrow jacket, that never closed over his chest, thrown out like a
pouter-pigeon's, while the coachman Arkhip took possession of the silk
shirt and plush sleeveless jacket worn on holidays, obviously vying
with Ignat in the conquest of Yevpraksia's heart. The maiden herself
ran from one to the other, bestowing her favors now on the clerk, now
on the coachman. Porfiry Vladimirych dared not look out of the window
for fear of witnessing a love scene; but he could not help hearing
what was going on outside. At times he caught the resounding blow that
Arkhip bestowed playfully upon Yevpraksia's back while playing tag. At
other times he would catch fragments of conversation such as this:

"Yevpraksia Nikitishna! Yevpraksia Nikitishna! Madam!" the drunken
Prokhor would call from the steps of the mansion.

"What do you want?"

"The key of the tea-chest, please. The master is asking for tea."

"Let him wait, the scarecrow!"


In a short time Porfiry had completely lost all habits of sociability.
He no longer paid any attention to the confusion that had come into
his existence. He demanded nothing better of life than to be left
alone in his last refuge, his study. He had lost all his former ways
of cavilling with and pestering those about him, and he was timorous
and glumly meek. All ties between him and reality were cut. To hear
nothing, to see nothing, that was his heart's desire. The behavior of
Yevpraksia and the servants no longer concerned him. Formerly, had the
clerk allowed himself the least inaccuracy in presenting his reports
on the various branches of the household management, he would have
talked him to death. Now at times the reports were weeks late, and
he was unresentful except when he needed some data for his fantastic
computations. But when alone in his study he felt himself absolute
master, free to give himself over nonchalantly to inane musings. Both
of his brothers had died from drink. He, too, fell into the clutches
of drunkenness. But his intoxication was mental. Shut up in his study,
he racked his brains from early morning till far into the night over
fantastic problems. He elaborated various fabulous schemes, made
speeches before imaginary audiences, and wove whole scenes about the
first person that crossed his mind.

In this wild maze of fantastic acts and images a morbid passion for
gain played the most important part.

Porfiry Vladimirych had always had a strong leaning toward the
petty annoyance of people and litigation, but because of his lack
of practicality he had derived no direct profit from it. Sometimes
he was even the first to suffer. This proclivity of his was now
transferred to a world of abstractions and phantoms, where there was
no scope for resistance on the part of the oppressed and no need for
self-justification. The dividing line between the weak and the powerful
vanished. In that world there were no police or justices of the peace,
or rather, there were, but they existed solely for the purpose of
protecting his own interests. On this fantastic plane he could freely
enmesh the whole universe in his net of intriguing, cavilling, and
petty oppression.

He loved to torment people, ruin them, make them unhappy, suck their
blood--at least, in his imagination. He would look over the various
branches of his establishment and on each build up a fantastic
structure of all manner of oppression and plunder--a veritable
paradise, but the foulest ever conceived by a landed proprietor. And
everything depended here on overpayments and underpayments assumed
arbitrarily, each overpaid or underpaid kopek served as a pretext for
remodelling the entire edifice, which thus passed through endless

When his tired thoughts were no longer capable of following out all
the details of the intricate computations on which his imaginary
operations were based, he applied his imagination to a more plastic
material. He recalled every conflict and altercation he had had not
only in recent times, but far back in his youth, and he so manipulated
his reminiscences as always to come out the victor. He took revenge on
those of his former colleagues who had gone over his head in service
and had so deeply wounded his self-love that he renounced his official
career. He revenged himself on his schoolmates who had taken advantage
of their physical strength to tease or persecute him; on the neighbors
that had opposed his claims and stood up for their rights; on the
servants who had offended him or simply had not treated him with
sufficient respect; on "dearest mamma" Arina Petrovna for having wasted
too much of the money that "by law" belonged to him on the repairs
of Pogorelka; on his brother Simple Simon for having nicknamed him
Yudushka; on aunt Varvara Mikhailovna for having unexpectedly given
birth to children, with the result that the property of Gavryushkino
was forever lost to the family. He revenged himself on the living and
he revenged himself on the dead.

Gradually he worked himself into a state of actual intoxication. The
ground vanished from under his feet, wings grew on his shoulders, his
eyes shone, his lips trembled and foamed, his face grew ghastly pale,
and took on a threatening air. The atmosphere around him swarmed with
ghosts, and he fought them in imaginary battles.

His existence became so ample and independent that there was nothing
left for him to desire. The whole universe was at his feet, that
is, the universe of which his wretched mind could conceive. It was
something in the nature of ecstatic clairvoyance, not unlike the
phenomena that take place at the seances of mediums. His untrammeled
imagination created an illusory reality, rendered concrete and almost
tangible by his constant mental frenzy. It was not faith or conviction,
but unrestrained mental debauchery, a sort of trance in which his
tongue involuntarily uttered words and his body made automatic gestures.

Porfiry Vladimirych was happy. He locked up the windows and doors
that he might not hear, he drew down the curtains that he might not
see. He went through the customary functions and duties which had no
connection with the world of his imagination, in haste, almost with
disgust. When the ever-drunken Prokhor rapped at his door and announced
that dinner was served, he ran into the dining-room impatiently,
hurriedly swallowed his three courses and disappeared again into his
study. Something new showed in his manners--a mixture of timidity and
derision, as if he both feared and defied the few people whom he met.
He rose very early and immediately set to work. He cut down the time
devoted to worship, said his prayers indifferently, without thinking of
their meaning, crossed himself and went through the other gestures of
worship mechanically and carelessly. Apparently even the notion of a
hell with its complicated system of punishments was no longer present
in his mind.

Meanwhile Yevpraksia reveled in the satisfaction of carnal desires.
Dancing between the clerk Ignat and the coachman Arkhip, and also
casting glances at the red-faced carpenter Ilyusha, who was mending the
cellars at the head of a gang of workmen, she did not notice what was
going on in the manor-house. She thought the master was playing "a new
comedy," and many a light remark about the master was passed in the
jolly gatherings of the servants. But one day she happened to enter the
dining-room when Yudushka was hurriedly despatching the remnants of
roast goose, and suddenly a kind of dread fell upon her.

Porfiry Vladimirych wore a greasy dressing-gown, through the holes of
which the cotton interlining peeped out. He was pale, unkempt, and his
face bristled with a many days' growth.

"Dear master, what is it? What is the matter?" she turned to him in

Porfiry Vladimirych only smiled half sheepishly, half derisively, and
the meaning of his smile was: "I'd like to see how you could get at me

"Darling master, what is the matter? Tell me, what has happened to
you?" repeated Yevpraksia.

He rose, fixed on her a gaze brimming over with hatred, and said,
pausing after each word:

"If you, you hussy, ever dare--enter my study--I will kill you!"


As a result of this scene Yudushka's life outwardly changed for
the better. Distracted by no material hindrances, he gave himself
completely over to his solitude, so that he did not even notice how the
summer passed away.

It was late in August, the days grew shorter; it drizzled ceaselessly
and the soil became boggy. The trees looked mournful, with their
yellow leaves bestrewing the ground. Absolute silence reigned in the
court-yard and about the servants' quarters. The domestics sat quietly
under cover, partly because of the weather, partly because they finally
perceived that something was the matter with the master. Yevpraksia
came completely to her senses, forgot the silk dresses and her lovers,
and sat in the maids' room for hours on end, brooding and wondering
what she could do. The drunken Prokhor teased her that she had designs
on the master's life, that she had poisoned him and she could not
escape the road to Siberia.

Meanwhile, Yudushka sat in his study, deep in reveries. The ceaseless
patter of the rain on the window-panes lulled him half to sleep--the
most favorable state for the play of his fancy. He imagined he was
invisible and was inspecting his possessions, accompanied by old Ilya,
who had served as bailiff under Yudushka's father, and whose bones had
long since been rotting in the village churchyard.

"Ilya is a clever fellow," argued Porfiry Vladimirych with himself,
glad that Ilya had arisen from the dead. "An old servant! Nowadays his
kind is getting rare. Nowadays they know how to chat and fidget, but
when it comes to business, they're good for nothing."

After saying an appropriate prayer, Yudushka and Ilya pick their way
leisurely across meadows and ravines, dales and hills, and soon reach
the Ukhovshchina waste. For a while they stand dazed, unable to believe
their own eyes. Straight before them looms up a magnificent pine
forest, their tops tossing in the wind. Some of the trees are so big in
circumference that two or even three men could not embrace them. Their
trunks are straight, naked, crowned with mighty, spreading tops--all
signs of vigor and longevity.

"What a forest, brother!" exclaims Yudushka, enraptured.

"This wood has been protected from felling," explains Ilya. "Under your
late grandfather Mikhail Vasilyevich, a procession with holy ikons went
around it. And look how tall the trees have grown."

"How large do you think the forest is?"

"At that time it held just seventy desyatins, and the desyatin was
then, as you know, one and a half times the present size."

"And how many trees, d'you think, are there on one desyatin?"

"I can't tell. Only God has counted them."

"I reckon there are no less than six or seven hundred trees to a
desyatin. I mean the desyatin now used. Wait! If we take the number to
be six hundred--or, let us say, six hundred and fifty trees, how many
trees are there on one hundred and five desyatins?"

Porfiry Vladimirych takes a sheet of paper and multiplies 105 by 65 and
gets 6,825 trees.

"Now, see here, if I were to sell all this timber, do you think I can
get ten rubles a tree?"

Old Ilya shakes his head.

"Ten is little," he says. "Look at these trees. Each trunk will give
two mill beams and some planks and boards and firewood. What do you
think is the price of a mill-wheel beam?"

Porfiry Vladimirych makes believe he does not know, although he figured
out everything to a kopek long ago.

"Here," continues the peasant, "a beam is worth ten rubles, but if
we take it to Moscow it will be worth its weight in gold. It is a
tremendous beam. You will hardly haul it on a three-horse team. And
think of the second beam that can be made out of the stem, and the
boards and laths and firewood, and branches. Twenty rubles, I should
think, is the lowest price for a tree."

Porfiry Vladimirych listens and takes in his words greedily. A clever,
faithful servant this Ilya. And how well he has picked out his help!
Old Vavilo, Ilya's assistant--he too has been resting in the churchyard
for a good many years--is quite worthy of his superior. The foresters,
too, are all tried, stalwart men, and the hounds at the corn lofts are
fierce. Both the men and the dogs are ready to grapple with the devil
himself for the master's good.

"Let's figure out, brother. If we sell the whole forest, what will it
come to?"

Porfiry Vladimirych again makes a mental calculation of the value of
a large beam, a smaller beam, a plank, a lath, the firewood and the
branches. He adds up, multiplies, now omitting fractions, now adding
them. Columns of numbers fill the sheet.

"Here is the total, brother," says Yudushka, showing Ilya's phantom an
altogether fabulous sum. The old servant is dazed.

"Is it not a little too large?" he says, pensively shrugging his

But Porfiry Vladimirych has already cast off all doubts and giggles

"You are a queer fellow, brother!" he exclaims. "It isn't I who say it,
it's the number that says it. There is a science called arithmetic.
It never tells a lie, brother! Well, this will do for Ukhovshchina.
Now let's have a look at Lisy-Yamy, brother. It's a long time since I
have been there. I have a strong suspicion the peasants have become
thievish. There's Garanka, the guard--I know, I know. Garanka is a
good, faithful guard, that's true enough. Still, you know. It seems to
me he is not what he used to be either."

They plough noiselessly and unseen through a birch thicket, and stop
suddenly, holding their breath. A peasant's cart lies sprawling across
the road on its side, and the peasant is standing by, looking at the
broken axle in perplexity. He has been standing there for some time,
cursing the axle and himself and whipping the horse now and then.
Finally he sees he cannot loaf there all day long. He looks around
and pricks up his ears to make sure no one is coming along the road.
Then he selects a suitable birch tree, and takes out an axe. Meanwhile
Yudushka stands motionless and watches. The young birch shudders, sways
and suddenly sinks to the ground like a sheaf of corn, reaped by the
sickle. The thief is about to lop off the length of an axle from the
trunk, but Yudushka has decided that the moment has come. He steals
upon him and in a trice snatches the axe from his hand.

"Ah!" is all the thief, taken red-handed, has time to exclaim.

"Ah!" Yudushka mimics him. "Are you allowed to steal timber? 'Ah!' Is
it your birch-tree you have just felled?"

"Forgive me, sir!"

"I forgave everyone long ago, brother. I am myself a sinner before the
Lord and I dare not judge another. It is the law, not I, that condemns
you. Take the tree you have felled to the manor-house and pay up a fine
of one ruble. In the meantime, I shall keep your axe. Don't you worry,
it is in good hands, brother."

Glad that he was able to prove to Ilya how well-grounded were his
suspicions in regard to Garanka, Yudushka transports himself in
imagination to the forester's cottage and reprimands him soundly. On
his way back home he catches three hens belonging to peasants in the
act of feeding on his oats.

Back in his study, he falls again to work, and a peculiar system of
household management is suddenly born in his brain. The system is based
on the assumption that all mankind suddenly has begun to steal his wood
and damage his fields by letting cattle graze upon them. But this does
not grieve Yudushka, on the contrary he rubs his hands in delight.

"Let your cattle graze on my fields, fell my trees. I shall be the
better off for it," he repeats, hugely pleased. Then he takes a fresh
sheet of paper and resumes his ciphering and reckoning. The problems
to be solved are these: First, how much oats grows on one desyatin and
what will the fines amount to if the peasants' hens scratch the oats
up? And, second, how many birches grow in Lisy-Yamy and how much money
can they bring in if the peasants fell them illegally and pay the fine?
"A birch, though felled," reflects Yudushka gleefully, "will in the end
get to the house and be used as firewood--firewood free of charge, mind

Long rows of figures appear on the paper. Yudushka becomes so tired
and excited that he rises from the table all perspiring and lies down
on the sofa to rest. Here his imagination does not cease its work, it
merely selects an easier theme.

"Mamma was a clever woman, mamma was," muses Porfiry Vladimirych. "She
knew how to be exacting and how to set one at ease--that is why people
served her so willingly. Still she was not without sins. Oh, yes, she
had plenty of them."

No sooner does Yudushka think of Arina Petrovna than she appears before
him in person, coming straight from the grave.

"I don't know, my friend, I don't know what fault you have to find with
me," she says dejectedly, "it seems to me that I----"

"I know, I know," Yudushka cuts her short unceremoniously. "Let me be
frank and thrash out the matter with you. For instance, why did you not
stop Aunt Varvara Mikhailovna that time?"

"But how in the world could I stop her? She was of age, and she had the
full right to dispose of herself."

"Oh, no, permit me, mother dear. What sort of a husband had she? An old
drunkard, not much of a man, I should say. Nevertheless, they had four
children. Where did they come from, I'm asking you?"

"But how strangely you speak, my friend. As if I were the cause of it

"Cause or no cause, you could have influenced her. You ought to have
treated her kindly, she would have been shamed by you. But you did the
contrary. You kept on scolding her and calling her shameless, and you
suspected almost every man in the neighborhood of being her lover. Of
course, she kicked up the dust. It's a pity. The Goryushkino estate
would have been ours now."

"You cannot forget that Goryushkino," says Arina Petrovna, evidently
brought to a standstill.

"What do I care for Goryushkino? I don't need anything. If I have
enough to buy a church candle and some oil for the image lamp, I am
satisfied. But what about justice, dear mamma, justice? Yes, mother
dear, I would be glad to hold my tongue, but I cannot help being frank
with you. There's a sin on your conscience, a great sin, indeed."

Arina Petrovna does not answer, and it is impossible to tell whether
she is dejected or merely perplexed.

"Another thing," Yudushka goes on, evidently reveling in mother dear's
embarrassment. "Why did you buy a house for brother Stepan?"

"I had to, my friend. I had to give him some share," says Arina
Petrovna, trying to defend herself.

"And he squandered it away, of course. As if you did not know him! You
knew he was a loafer, a disrespectful, foul-mouthed scamp. And to think
that you wanted to give him the Vologda village, too. A neat little
estate with a nice little forest and a tiny lake, lying like a shelled
egg--Christ be with it! It is well that I happened to be around and
kept you from taking that imprudent step. Ah, mamma dear, mamma dear,
how could you?"

"But he was a son of mine, you understand? A son!"

"I know, I understand very well. And still, I repeat, you ought not
to have done it. You paid twelve thousand for the house--where is the
money? And Goryushkino is worth at least fifteen thousand. So the loss
comes to quite a sum."

"Well, that will do, that will do. Don't be angry with me, please

"I am not angry, dearest mother, I am only upholding the cause of
justice. What's true is true--and I loathe falsehood. I was born with
truth, have lived with truth, and with truth I shall die. God loves
truth and He would have us, too, love it. Take the case of Pogorelka,
for instance. I shall always say you invested too much money in it."

"But I myself lived there."

Yudushka clearly reads "You silly Bloodsucker!" on his mother's face;
but he makes believe he does not see.

"Well, yes, you lived there--still--the image-case is in Pogorelka.
Whose is it, I'd like to know. And the pony and the tea-caddy. I saw
that tea-caddy at Golovliovo with my own eyes, when papa was still
alive. What a beautiful little box!"

"Well, but----"

"No, dearest mother, let me speak. Of course it looks like a trifling
matter, but a ruble here, half a ruble there, come to quite a sum in
the end. Let me use exact figures and make it clear to you. Figures
are holy, they never lie."

Porfiry Vladimirych runs over to the table with the intention of
finally determining the exact amount of loss that his mother dear had
caused him to sustain. He manipulates the counting-board, covers sheets
of paper with rows of figures, arms himself to convict Arina Petrovna.
But fortunately for her his wavering thoughts cannot remain fixed on
one subject for a long time. Unnoticed by himself a new thought enters
his mind and, as if by magic, gives an entirely different trend to his
ideas. The image of his mother, a minute ago so clear before his eyes,
suddenly drops away. He forgets her, his notions become confused, other
notions enter his mind.

Porfiry Vladimirych has long had the intention of figuring out what his
crops could bring him in. The opportune moment is here. He knows the
peasant is always in want, is always on the lookout to borrow provender
and always pays his debts with interest. He knows also that the peasant
is especially generous with his work, which "costs him nothing," and
is not considered as possessing any value in settling accounts. There
are many needy people in Russia, oh, how many! There are many people
who do not know what the next day will bring them, who see nothing but
despair and emptiness wherever they turn their weary eyes, and who
hear everywhere only one clamor: "Pay your debt! Pay your debt!" It is
around these shiftless, utterly destitute men that Yudushka weaves his
net, with a delight passing sometimes into an orgy.

It is April, and the peasant as usual has nothing to eat. "You have
gobbled up all your crops, my dear fellows," Porfiry Vladimirych muses.
"All winter you feasted, and in spring your stomach is shrivelled from
hunger." He has just settled the accounts of last year's crops. The
threshing was completed in February, the grain was in the granaries in
March, and the amount was recorded in the numerous books the other day.
Yudushka stands at the window and waits. On the bridge afar off the
peasant Foka appears in his cart. At the bend of the road leading to
Golovliovo he shakes the reins rather hastily, and for want of a whip
hits his battered jade with his fist.

"He's heading here," whispers Yudushka. "Look at the horse. A wonder it
can drag its feet. But if you had fed it well a month or two, it would
become quite a horse. You might get twenty-five rubles for it, or even
as much as thirty."

Meanwhile Foka drives up to the servants' house. He ties the animal to
the hedge, throws it a handful of hay, and a minute later stands in the
maids' quarters, shifting from one foot to another. It is in the maids'
quarters that Porfiry Vladimirych usually receives such visitors.

"Well, friend, how are things going?"

"Please sir, what I need is some corn."

"How's that? Are you through with your own? What a pity! If you drank
less vodka, and worked more, and prayed to God, the soil would feel it.
Where one grain grows now, two grains would grow. Then there would be
no need for you to borrow."

Foka smiles vaguely, instead of replying.

"You think if God is far from us, He does not see?" Porfiry Vladimirych
goes on moralizing. "God is here and there and everywhere, he is with
us while we are talking here. He sees everything and hears everything,
he only pretends not to see things. 'Let my creatures live after
their own way, and we shall see whether they will remember me.' And we
sinners take advantage of that, and instead of buying a candle for God
from our meager means, we keep on going to the public-house. That's why
God gives us no corn. Am I not right, friend?"

"You are quite right, sir. There's no denying it."

"Well, you see, you understand it now. And why is it that you
understand it? Because the Lord withdrew His mercy from you. If you
had had an abundant crop of corn, you would carry on again, but since

"Right, sir, and if----"

"Wait a minute. Let me say a word. The Lord recalls Himself to those
who forgot Him. That is always the case. And we must not grumble over
it, but understand that God does it for our good. Were we to remember
God, He would never forget us. He would grant us everything, corn and
oats and potatoes--more than we need. And He would take care of our
animals. Look at your horse. It is skin and bones. And if you have
chickens, He would keep them in condition, too."

"You are quite right, sir."

"Man's first duty is to honor God, man's second duty is to honor
his superiors, those who have been distinguished by the czars
themselves--the gentry, for instance."

"It seems to me, sir, that I----"

"That's just it, 'it seems to me.' But give a little thought to the
matter, and you will find out that it's all different. Now when you
have come to borrow corn you are very respectful and bland. But two
years ago, you remember, when I needed harvesters and came to you
peasants to ask for help, what did you answer? 'We have to harvest
ourselves,' you said. 'It is not the way it used to be,' you said,
'when we worked for the landlords. Now we are free!' Free, and no corn!"

Yudushka looks at Foka, but Foka does not stir.

"You are very proud, that's why you have no luck. Take me, for example.
The Lord has blessed me, and the Czar has distinguished me. But I am
not proud. How can I be? What am I but a worm, a moth, a nothing. God
took and blessed me for my humility. He loaded me with favors, and put
it into the Czar's mind to favor me, too."

"Porfiry Vladimirych, I think that under serfdom we were far better
off," Foka remarks, playing the flatterer.

"Yes, brother, those were fine days for you peasants. You had plenty of
everything, corn and hay and potatoes. But why recall the old times? I
am not rancorous. I have long forgotten about the harvesters. I only
mentioned them in passing. Let me see--did you say you needed corn?"

"Yes, I did, sir."

"You have come to buy some, have you?"

"How can I? I should like to borrow some until the new corn comes."

"My, my! Corn is not to be had for money nowadays. I really don't know
what to do with you."

Porfiry Vladimirych ponders for a while, as if really perplexed.

"I can lend you some corn, my friend," he finally says. "I have none
for sale, for I loathe to traffic in God's gifts. But I will gladly
lend you some corn. To-day I'll lend to you, to-morrow you'll lend to
me. To-day I have plenty. Take some, help yourself. You want a measure
of corn? Take a measure. You want half a measure? Take half a measure.
Tomorrow may find me knocking at your window saying, 'Dear Foka, lend
me half a measure of corn, I have nothing to eat.'"

"Oh, sir, will you come to me?"

"I shall not. That was merely an example. The world has seen greater
reverses. There was Napoleon, about whom the newspapers have written so
much. That's how it is, brother. So how much corn do you want?"

"A measure, if you please."

"Well, I can let you have a measure. Only let me warn you, corn is
tremendously dear nowadays. This is what we are going to do: I shall
give you six chetveriks, and in eight months you will deliver a measure
to me. I don't take any interest, but an additional chetverik or

Yudushka's offer makes Foka gasp. For some time he says nothing, only
shrugs his shoulders. "Won't that be a bit too much, sir?" he says at
last, evidently alarmed.

"If it's too much, go to others. You see, my friend, I am not forcing
you, I am only making you an offer in a friendly way. I didn't send for
you, did I? You came here yourself. You came to ask for something and
that's my answer. Isn't it so, friend?"

"Yes, quite so, but don't you think it's too much interest?"

"Ah, ah, ah! And I thought you were a just, respectable peasant. Well,
you will say to me, what am I going to live on? How will I meet my
expenses? Do you know what expenses I have? My dear man, there is no
end to them. I've got to pay here, and meet my obligations there, and
produce cash in a third place. I've got to satisfy every one. All are
after Porfiry Vladimirych, all ask something of him, and I've got to
get along with them as best I can. And then again, if I sold the corn
to the dealer, I should get money at once. And money, my friend, is
a sacred thing. With money I can buy securities, put them in a safe
place, and draw interest. No worry, you know, of any kind, no trouble
at all. Just clip the coupon and get your money. But with the corn
you've got to go carefully about it, and look after it, and all that.
A lot of it will dry up, and be wasted, and the mice will eat it up.
No, brother, money is the best thing--nothing like it! It would be high
time for me to become sensible and turn everything into money and leave
you folks."

"Oh, Porfiry Vladimirych, stay with us."

"Well, my dear man, I should like to, but I can't stand it any longer.
If I had the strength of my youth, of course I would stay with you
and keep at it. But no, it's time to rest. I will go to the Trinity
Monastery, I will find shelter under the wing of the saints, and not a
soul will hear from me. And how good I'll feel! All will be peaceful
and quiet and honest; no noise, no quarrels--like in Heaven."

In a word, in spite of all of Foka's protestations, Porfiry Vladimirych
arranges the bargain to suit himself. But that is not enough. At the
very moment that Foka consents to the terms of the loan, a thought
flashes through Yudushka's mind. A certain Shelepikha meadow appears on
the scene. It doesn't amount to much, hardly a desyatin to mow.

"You see, I am doing you a favor, so you do me one in turn," says
Porfiry Vladimirych. "This is not interest, but just a favor. God does
favors to us all, and we've got to do likewise to one another. You will
mow this desyatin in no time, and I'll be much obliged to you. You see,
brother, I am a plain man. You'll do me a ruble's worth of service, and

Porfiry Vladimirych rises, faces the church, and makes the sign of the
cross to show that the transaction is at an end. Foka also rises and
makes the sign of the cross.

Foka has disappeared. Porfiry Vladimirych produces a sheet of paper,
arms himself with the counting-board, and the beads begin jumping
fast under his skilful fingers. Little by little an orgy of numbers
commences. The whole world becomes enwrapped in mist. With feverish
haste Yudushka passes from the paper to the counting-board and from the
counting-board to the paper. The rows of figures keep growing larger
and larger.




It is the middle of December. The country stretches still and benumbed,
covered with a mantle of snow as far as the eye can reach. The
horses, though pulling empty carts, wade with difficulty through the
snow-drifts that the wind has driven during the night. There is not the
trace of a path to the Golovliovo estate.

Porfiry Vladimirych had grown so unaccustomed to visits that in the
beginning of autumn he barred the front entrance to the house and the
main gateways leading to it, leaving only the servants' entrance and
the side gates for the domestics to communicate with the outer world.

One morning as the clock was striking eleven, Yudushka in his
dressing-gown was standing at the window staring aimlessly before him.
Since early morning he had been walking to and fro in the room, deep
in thought about a certain momentous matter, and ceaselessly counting
imaginary profits. Finally, he became mixed in the ciphering and grew
tired. Both the magnificent orchard in front of the manor and the
village behind it were lost to view in the snow. After yesterday's
blizzard the air was frosty, and the snow shimmered and sparkled in the
sun, so that Porfiry Vladimirych had to blink. The court was silent and
deserted. There was not the least movement, either in the servants'
quarters or near the cattle yard. Even the village itself was so silent
that it seemed as if death had suddenly stolen upon the people. The
only thing that attracted Yudushka's attention was a curl of thin smoke
floating upward from the priest's house.

"Eleven o'clock, and the parson's wife has not yet finished cooking,"
he thinks. "Those black coats are always gorging."

With this as a point of departure, his mind wandered on. Was it a
weekday or a holiday, a fast day or not, and what can the parson's
wife be cooking? But suddenly his attention was diverted. On the hill
at the very beginning of the road from the village of Pogorelka a
black dot appeared, approached gradually and grew larger and larger.
Porfiry Vladimirych looked intently. "Who could be coming, a peasant or
somebody else? Who could it be but a peasant? Yes, a peasant! What was
he coming for? If for wood, why, then, the Naglovka forest was on the
other side of the village. The knave must be intending to steal some
wood. If he was making for the mill, why, then, he ought to have turned
to the right. Perhaps he was coming to fetch the priest. Someone dying,
or, perhaps, already dead? Or maybe a child had been born? Who could it
be? In autumn Nenila walked about pregnant, but it was too early for
her. If it should be a boy, he would get into the census. What was the
population of Naglovka at the last census? But if a girl, she would
not get into the census, and----Still, it is impossible to get along
without the female sex. Fie!"

Yudushka spat and looked at the ikon in the corner, as if seeking its
protection from the Evil One.

It is quite possible that he would have continued wandering in thought
had the black speck been lost to view, but it kept on growing and at
last turned toward the marsh road leading to the church. Then Yudushka
saw quite clearly that it was a small wagon pulled by two horses, one
behind the other. Next it went up the hill, and drove past the church.
"Perhaps it is the bishop," passed through his mind. "That's why they
have not yet finished cooking at the parson's house." Then the vehicle
turned to the right and made straight for the manor-house. Porfiry
Vladimirych instinctively drew his dressing-gown together and stepped
away from the window, as if afraid of being seen by the traveller.

He had guessed correctly. The wagon drove up to the house and stopped
at the side gate. A young woman jumped out of it quickly. She was
dressed out of season in a large cotton-lined greatcoat trimmed with
lamb's fur, more for show than for warmth. She was apparently frozen.
No one appearing to receive her, the stranger hopped over to the maids'
entrance. In a few seconds the outer door in the women's quarters
banged shut, then another door, and another, until all the rooms
adjacent to the maids' entrance were filled with a noise of hurried
footsteps and banging doors.

Porfiry Vladimirych stood at his study door listening intently. It was
so long since he had seen any strangers, and altogether he had become
so unaccustomed to the company of human beings, that he was somewhat
bewildered. Nearly a quarter of an hour passed, the running and the
banging of the doors continued, and yet he was not told who had come.
It was clear that the guest was a relative, who did not doubt her
right to the host's hospitality. But what relatives had he? He tried to
recall them, but his memory was dull. He had had two sons, Volodka and
Petka; he had had a mother, Arina Petrovna--long, long ago! Last autumn
Nadka Galkina, daughter of his late aunt Varvara Mikhailovna, had taken
up her residence at Goryushkino. Could it be she? Why, no. She had
already tried to make her way into the Golovliovo temple, but to no

"She will not dare to, she will not dare to!" reiterated Yudushka,
burning with indignation at the very thought of her intrusion. "But who
else can it be?"

While he was busy guessing, Yevpraksia approached the door cautiously
and announced:

"The young lady of Pogorelka, Anna Semyonovna, has arrived."

It was indeed Anninka, but changed beyond recognition. She was no
longer the beautiful, lively, buoyant girl with rosy cheeks, full
gray eyes, high breast and heavy, ash-colored tresses massed low on
her head, who had come to Golovliovo shortly after the death of Arina
Petrovna, but a weak, wasted creature with a sunken chest, hollow
cheeks, a hectic face and languid movements--a bent creature, almost
hunch-backed. Even her splendid braids looked miserable, and her eyes,
blazing feverishly, seemed larger than ever in her emaciated face. Her
eyes alone retained something of their former beauty. Yevpraksia stared
long at her as at a stranger, then finally recognized her.

"You?" she cried out, clapping her hands.

"I. Well?"

Anninka laughed quietly, as if to add, "Yes, life has played me a dirty

"Is uncle well?"

"Uncle? Nothing is the matter with him. He is alive, there is no doubt
about that, but we hardly ever see him."

"What's the matter with him?"

"Just so--it's all because of lonesomeness."

"Don't tell me he has stopped haranguing?"

"He is real quiet now, miss. He used to talk and talk, but suddenly he
became silent. Occasionally we hear him in his study talking to himself
and sometimes even laughing, but as soon as he comes out of the room he
is quiet. People say his late brother, Stepan Vladimirych, had the same
trouble. At first he was gay, then suddenly he became quiet. And you,
madam, are you well?"

Anninka only waved her hand in reply.

"And is your sister well?"

"She has been lying in her grave at the wayside at Krechetovo a month."

"Lord be merciful! At the wayside!"

"Of course, that's how they bury all suicides."

"Goodness! A lady--and to take her own life! How is that?"

"Yes, at first she was a 'lady,' and then she took poison, that's all.
And I, I am a coward, I want to live, and here I have come to you. Not
for long, oh, don't be afraid. I shall die soon, too."

Yevpraksia stared at her, as if she did not understand.

"Why are you looking at me? Am I such a fright? Well, never mind my
looks. However, I'll tell you later--later. Now pay the coachman and
announce me to uncle."

She produced an old pocketbook and took out two yellow bills.

"And here is all my property," she added, pointing to a small trunk.
"Here's everything, both my inheritance and my own acquisitions. I am
cold, Yevpraksia, very cold. I am quite sick, there's not a bone in my
body that doesn't ache, and here as if to spite me, it is so cold. As I
was riding, I thought of only one thing, to get to Golovliovo, and die
there, at least in warmth. I'd like to have some vodka. Have you any?"

"You had better have some tea, madam. The samovar will soon be ready."

"No, I shall have tea later. Now I'd like to have some vodka. However,
don't tell uncle about the vodka yet. It will all come out later."

While they set the table for tea in the dining-room Porfiry Vladimirych
appeared. Now Anninka in her turn was completely surprised at her
uncle's emaciation and wild, faded looks. Porfiry received Anninka in
a strange manner, not coldly, but as if altogether indifferent. He
spoke little, as if under compulsion, like an actor trying to recall
sentences of parts acted in days gone by, and was absent-minded, as
though his mind were absorbed in some grave, urgent business from which
he had been torn away to attend to trifles.

"So you have arrived?" he said. "What will you have, tea, coffee? Order
the servants to fetch it."

In former days, at family meetings, Yudushka always played the
sentimental part. This time it was Anninka who was filled with
emotions, genuine emotions. The claw of sorrow must have sunk deep
into her being, for she threw herself on Porfiry Vladimirych's breast
and embraced him ardently.

"Uncle, I have come to you!" she cried, and burst into tears.

"Well, you are welcome. I have enough rooms. Live here."

"I am sick, uncle, very, very sick."

"If you are sick, you must pray to God! Whenever I am not well, I
always heal myself through prayer."

"I have come to you, uncle, to die."

Porfiry Vladimirych looked at her with questioning eyes, and an almost
imperceptible smile stole over his lips.

"So that is where your acting has brought you?"

"Yes, that is where my acting has brought me. Lubinka is dead and I--I
am alive,"

At the news of Lubinka's death Yudushka piously crossed himself and
whispered a prayer. Anninka seated herself at table, her chin in her
hands, looking toward the church and continuing to cry bitterly.

"See here, as for weeping and being in despair, it is surely a sin,"
remarked Porfiry Vladimirych sententiously. "And do you know what
a Christian must do on such an occasion? Not cry, but submit and
hope--that's how a Christian has to act."

But Anninka threw herself back on the chair and repeated, her arms
drooping helplessly:

"Ah, I do not know, I do not know, I do not know!"

"If you are crying your eyes out on account of your sister," Yudushka
continued to sermonize, "that is a sin, too. For although it is
praiseworthy to love one's sisters and brothers, yet, if it be the will
of God to take one or several of them to Himself----"

"Oh, no, no! Uncle, are you kind? Are you kind? Tell me!"

Anninka threw herself on him again and embraced him.

"Well, I am kind, kind. Tell me, do you wish anything? Will you have a
bite, or tea, or coffee? Ask for what you want. Order it."

Anninka suddenly remembered how during her first visit her uncle used
to ask her, "Will you have beef, pork, potatoes?" And she realized that
she would find no other consolation.

"Thank you, uncle," she said, seating herself at the table again. "I do
not want anything in particular. I am sure I shall be contented with
anything you offer me."

"If so, well and good. Will you go to Pogorelka?"

"No, uncle, for the time being I shall stay with you. You have nothing
against it, have you?"

"Christ be with you, of course I don't object. I asked about Pogorelka
only because in case you do wish to go there, it would be necessary to
arrange for a wagon and horses."

"No, later, later."

"Very well, then. You will go there later on. Meanwhile you can stay
with us. You will help about the house, for I'm all alone, you see.
This queen," said Yudushka, almost in hatred, pointing to Yevpraksia
pouring the tea, "is all the time running about in the servants'
quarters, so that sometimes you can never get any service, not a soul
in the whole house. Well, good-by for the present. I shall go to my
room. I shall pray, do some work and pray again. So, my friend. Is it
long since Lubinka died?"

"About a month, uncle."

"Then tomorrow we shall go to church early and order a mass to be
read for God's recently deceased servant Lubinka. So good-by for the
present. Have some tea, and if you want a bit of luncheon, have the
servant bring it to you. At dinner we shall meet again, have a talk,
a chat. And if anything has to be done, we shall attend to it, if

Such was the first family meeting. When it was over, Anninka entered
upon her new life in that disgusting Golovliovo, where she was stranded
for the second time in her short life.


Anninka had gone downhill very fast. It was true that her first visit
to Golovliovo had aroused the consciousness of being a "lady," of
having her own nest and her own graves, of not being confined in her
life to the squalor and uproar of hotels and inns, and of having a
shelter where she would be safe from vile breaths infected with the
odor of wine and the stable, from hoarse voices, bloodshot eyes,
indecent gestures. But alas! No sooner did Golovliovo disappear from
sight than this purifying consciousness vanished from her mind.

Anninka had gone from Golovliovo straight to Moscow, and solicited a
position on the government stage both for herself and her sister. With
this in view she turned for aid to _maman,_ that is, the directress of
the boarding-school where she had been educated, and to several of her
classmates. _Maman_ was at first quite kind to her, but as soon as she
discovered that her former pupil had acted on the provincial stage,
her pleasant manner changed to one of haughtiness and sternness. As
for Anninka's classmates, who were mostly married women, they eyed her
with an impertinent astonishment that quite frightened her. Only one
of them, better-natured than the rest, asked her, evidently wishing to
show sympathy:

"Tell me, darling, is it true that when you actresses dress for the
stage, officers lace your corsets?"

In a word, her attempts to gain a foothold in Moscow remained
unsuccessful. The truth of the matter was, she did not possess the
necessary qualifications for theatrical success in the capital. She
and her sister Lubinka belonged to that class of lively, but not very
talented actresses who play one part all their lives. Anninka had made
a hit in _Pericola,_ Lubinka in _Pansies_ and _Old-time Colonels,_ and
whatever new rôles they studied strangely resembled their successful
parts, or, in the majority of cases, were a complete failure. Anninka
often had to play _Fair Helen_ also. She would wear a flaming red wig
over her ash-colored hair, and cut her tunic down to her waist line,
but she was mediocre and dull, not even cynical. From _Fair Helen_ she
passed to the _Duchess of Herolstein._ In this her colorless acting
was coupled with a completely preposterous _mise en scène_, and the
outcome was altogether miserable. At last she undertook to play the
role of Clairette in _The White Slave._ But she overdid her part to
such an extent that even the none too refined provincial public was
shocked by her behavior on the stage, which she turned into a mire of
corruption. Anninka gained the reputation of being a clever actress
with a fairly good voice, and since she was pretty, she could get an
audience in the provinces. But that was all. Lacking individuality, she
could not attain permanent success. Even among the provincial public
she was popular mainly with army officers, whose chief ambition was to
obtain access behind the scenes. She could have got an engagement in
the capital only if she had been forced upon some manager by a powerful
patron, and even then the public would have given her the unenviable
nickname of "a tavern singer."

Thus the two girls had to go back to the provinces. In Moscow Anninka
received a letter from Lubinka, saying that their company had removed
from Krechetov to the city of Samovarnov, which made Lubinka quite
glad, because there she had become friendly with a certain zemstvo
leader, who was so infatuated that he was almost, in his own words,
"ready to steal the zemstvo funds, if that were necessary to gratify
all her desires."

In fact, on her arrival in Samovarnov, Anninka found her sister quite
luxuriously situated and planning to give up the stage. Lubinka's
admirer, the zemstvo official Gavrilo Stepanych Lyulkin, was a retired
captain of the Hussars, recently a _bel homme,_ but now somewhat
corpulent. His appearance and manners and views taken separately were
conspicuously noble, but taken together they gave one the strong
impression that the man was altogether free from scruples. Lubinka
received Anninka with open arms and told her a room had been prepared
for her at the lodgings.

Anninka, still under the influence of her trip to Golovliovo, bridled
up at the suggestion. The sisters exchanged tart words, and soon
afterwards they separated. Involuntarily Anninka recalled the words
of the Volpino parson, who had told her it was hard to safeguard a
maiden's "honor" in the acting profession.

Anninka went to live at a hotel and broke off all relations with her
sister. Easter passed. The next week the theatres opened, and Anninka
found out that her sister's place was already filled by Nalimova, a
girl from Kazan, a mediocre actress, but utterly unconstrained in
the movements of her body. As usual, Anninka played _Pericola_ and
enchanted the Samovarnov theatregoers. On her return to the hotel,
she found an envelope in her room containing a hundred ruble bill and
a laconic note which read: "Should anything happen, you get as much.
Merchant Kukishev, dealer in fancy goods." Anninka was enraged and went
to complain to the hotel-keeper. He told her Kukishev had this peculiar
habit of greeting the newly arrived actresses, and otherwise was a
harmless man and it did not pay to take offence. Anninka sealed up the
letter and the money in an envelope, sent it back the very next day,
and regained her composure.

But Kukishev was more persistent than the hotel-keeper had reported
him to be. He was among Lyulkin's friends and was on good terms with
Lubinka. He was quite well-to-do and, besides, as a member of the city
administration was in a most convenient position with regard to the
city treasury. And like Lyulkin, boldness was not his least virtue.
According to the taste of market people he possessed a seductive
appearance, reminding one of the beetle, which, as the song has it,
Masha found in the fields instead of berries:

  "A beetle black, and on his crown
     Nice curly hair, with whiskers smart,
   His eyebrows colored a dark-brown,
     The picture of my own sweetheart."

Being the happy possessor of such looks he thought he had the right to
be aggressive, all the more so as Lubinka explicitly promised him her

Lubinka, apparently, had burned all her bridges, and her reputation was
by no means a pleasant topic in her sister's ears. Every night, it was
said, a merry band caroused in her rooms from midnight till morning,
Lubinka presiding and appearing as a "gypsy," half naked (at this,
Lyulkin, addressing his intoxicated friends, would cry out, "Look,
there's a breast!") and with loosened hair. She would sing to the
accompaniment of a guitar:

  "How I did love it with my mash,
   Who had the darlingest mustache!"

Anninka listened to the stories about her sister and became greatly
worried. What surprised her most was that Lubinka sang the ditty about
the "mash who had the darlingest mustache" in a gypsy-like manner,
just like the celebrated Matryusha of Moscow. Anninka always gave her
sister due credit, and had she been told that Lubinka sang couplets
from _Old-time Colonels_ with unsurpassed excellence, she would have
considered it quite natural and would have readily believed it. The
theatergoers of Kursk, Tambov and Penza had not yet forgotten with what
inimitable naïveté Lubinka sang the most atrocious ambiguities in her
soft little voice. But that Lubinka could sing like a gypsy--pardon
me! A lie! She, Anninka, could sing like that, no doubt of it. It was
her genre, her business, and everyone in Kursk who had seen her in the
play, _Russian Romances Personified,_ would willingly testify to it.

Anninka would take the guitar, sling the striped sash over her
shoulder, sit down on a chair, cross her legs and begin: "I-ekh!
I-akh!" It was the very manner of Matryusha the gypsy.

However that may have been, one thing was certain, that Lubinka was
extravagant. And Lyulkin, for fear of introducing a discordant note
into the drunken bliss, had already resorted to borrowing from the
zemstvo treasury. Not to speak of the tremendous amount of champagne
which was both consumed and poured out on the floor in Lubinka's
quarters, all sorts of things had to be provided to feed her growing
capriciousness and extravagance. First it was dresses from Mme.
Minangois of Moscow, then jewelry from Fuld. Lubinka was rather thrifty
and did not scorn valuables. Her licentiousness by no means interfered
with her love of gold, diamonds and especially lottery bonds. At any
rate, it was a life not of gaiety, but of boisterous debauchery and
continuous intoxication.

There was one thorn in the rose-bush. It was necessary for Lubinka to
curry favor with the chief of police. Although a friend of Lyulkin's,
he sometimes liked to make his power felt, and Lubinka always guessed
when he was dissatisfied with her hospitality, for the next day the
police warden would come to ask for her passport. And she yielded. In
the morning she would treat the district chief of police to vodka and
a light repast, while in the evening she would personally prepare a
"Swedish" punch of which he was very fond.

Kukishev watched this ocean of luxury and burned with envy. He
conceived a desire to lead a similar life and have just such a
mistress. That would put an end to the monotony of provincial life. One
night he would spend with Lyulkin's queen, the next night with his own
queen. That was the dream of his life, the ambition of an imbecile,
who is the more obstinate in his strivings the greater his stupidity.
Anninka seemed to be the most suitable person for the realization of
his hopes.

But Anninka would not surrender. She was still new to the stir of
passion, although she had had numerous suitors and had been rather
free in her relations with them. At one time she even thought she was
ready to fall in love with the local tragedian Miloslavsky X, who was
consumed with passion for her. But Miloslavsky X was so hare-brained
and so persistently drunk that he never told her of his love, only
stared at her and stolidly hiccoughed when she passed by. So the love
affair never ripened. The other suitors Anninka considered as something
in the nature of indispensable furniture, to which a provincial actress
is doomed by the very conditions of her profession. She submitted to
these conditions, and took advantage of their minor privileges, such as
applause, bouquets, drives, picnics, etc., but further than this so to
speak external dissipation, she did not go.

She persisted in this manner of conduct. During the whole summer she
had kept to the path of virtue, jealously guarding her honor, as if
anxious to show the Volpino priest that moral strength can be found
even among actresses. Once she even decided to complain about Kukishev
to the governor, who listened to her with kindly favor and commended
her for her heroism. But seeing that her complaint was an indirect
attack on his own person as the governor of the province, he added
that, having spent all his strength against the internal enemy, he
strongly doubted whether he could be of any use. Hearing this, Anninka
blushed and went away.

Meanwhile Kukishev acted so artfully that he succeeded in making
the public take an interest in his efforts. People suddenly became
convinced that Kukishev was right and that Pogorelskaya I, as she was
dubbed on the posters, only looked as if butter would not melt in her
mouth. A whole clique was formed with the express purpose of taming
the refractory upstart. The campaign was started by several habitués
of the theatre who gradually began to hang around her dressing-room
and made their nest in the adjoining room belonging to Miss Nalimova.
Then, without exhibiting direct enmity, the audiences began to receive
Pogorelskaya I, when she appeared on the stage, with a disheartening
reserve, as if she were not the star actress, but some insignificant
dumb performer. At last the clique insisted that the manager take some
parts away from Anninka and give them to Nalimova. And what was most
curious, the most important part in this underhand intrigue was played
by Lubinka, whose confidant was Nalimova.

Toward autumn Anninka was surprised to find that she was compelled to
play the rôle of Orestes in _Fair Helen_, and only Pericola had been
left to her of all her main parts. That was because Nalimova would not
dare to vie with her in the rôle. In addition, the manager notified her
that in view of her cold reception by the audiences, her salary would
be reduced to seventy-five rubles a month, with only half the proceeds
of one benefit during the year.

Anninka lost courage, because with so small a salary she would have
to move from the hotel to an inn. She wrote letters to two or three
managers offering her services, but invariably received the answer
that they were actually flooded with applicants for the Pericola rôle,
and besides, they had learned of her shrewish obstinacy from reliable
sources, and so could not foresee any hopes of her success.

Anninka was now living on her last savings. Another week and she would
have to move to the inn and live with Khoroshavina, who was playing
_Parthenis_ and was favored with the attention of a constable. She
began to yield to despair, especially since a mysterious hand put a
note into her room every day containing the same words, "Pericola,
submit. Your Kukishev." And at the critical moment Lubinka most
unexpectedly rushed in.

"Tell me, please, for what prince are you saving your treasure?" she
asked curtly.

Anninka was taken aback. First of all she was amazed to find that both
the Volpino priest and Lubinka employed the same word "treasure" for
maidenly honor. Only the priest had regarded it as the "foundation of
life," while Lubinka looked upon it as a mere trifle over which the
"rascally males" go mad.

Then she involuntarily questioned herself, What is this "treasure,"
anyhow? Is it really a treasure and is it really worth hoarding? Alas,
she could find no satisfactory answer to her questions. On one hand, it
is rather shameful to remain without honor, and on the other----Ah, the
devil take it! And could it be that the whole purpose, the whole merit
of her existence consisted in struggling every moment of her life to
maintain this treasure?

"In only six months I have succeeded in getting thirty bonds," Lubinka
continued, "and lots of things. Look what a dress I have on!"

Lubinka turned about, pulled at the front, then at the sides, letting
herself be examined. The dress was really an expensive one and
unusually well made. It came straight from Minangois in Moscow.

"Kukishev is a kind sort," Lubinka resumed. "He will dress you up like
a doll, and he will give you money. You'll be able to send the theatre
to the devil. You have had enough of it."

"Never!" cried Anninka heatedly. She had not as yet forgotten the
phrase, "sacred art."

"You may remain if you wish to. You will get your former salary again
and outstrip Nalimova."

Anninka was silent.

"Well, good-by. They are waiting for me downstairs. Kukishev is there,
too. Will you come?"

But Anninka maintained her silence.

"Well, think it over, if there is anything to think about. And when you
have done thinking, come to see me. Good-by."

On the seventeenth of September, Lubinka's birthday, the posters of
the Samovarnov theatre announced a gala performance. Anninka appeared
as _Fair Helen_ again, and the same evening the part of Orestes was
performed by Pogorelskaya II, Lubinka. To complete the triumph of the
sisters, Nalimova was given the part of Cleon, the blacksmith. She
appeared on the stage dressed in tights and a short coat, her face
touched with soot, and a sheet of iron in her hands. The audience
was elated. Hardly did Anninka appear on the stage when the audience
raised such a clamor that, already unaccustomed to ovations, she nearly
broke into tears. And when, in the third act, in the scene where she
is awakened at night, she stood up on the sofa almost naked, the house
was one groaning mass of humanity. One man in the audience was so
thoroughly worked up that he shouted to Menelaus, who was entering
the stage, "Get out, damn you!" Anninka understood that the public
had pardoned her. As for Kukishev, he was in full dress, white tie
and white gloves. In the entr'actes he generously treated friends and
strangers alike to champagne and spoke of his triumph with dignity.
At last the manager of the theatre, brimming over with jubilation,
appeared in Anninka's room and, kneeling before her, said, "Now, madam,
you are a good girl and you will get your previous salary with the
corresponding number of benefits."

Everybody praised her and congratulated her and protested their
sympathy, so that she, who at first was timid, restless, and haunted
with a feeling of oppressive melancholy, grew suddenly convinced that
she had fulfilled her mission.

After the theatre the whole company went to Lubinka's birthday
celebration, and there the congratulations were reiterated. So large
a crowd gathered in Lubinka's quarters that the tobacco smoke made it
hard to breathe. They sat down to supper, and champagne began to flow
freely. Kukishev kept close to Anninka. This made her somewhat shy, but
she was no longer oppressed by his attentions. It seemed rather funny,
but also flattering, that she had so easily gotten hold of this big,
powerful man, who could bend and straighten out a horseshoe without
effort, and whom she could order about and do with as she wished.
The supper was crowned by that drunken, disorderly gaiety in which
neither the head nor the heart takes a part, and which results only in
headaches and nausea. The tragedian Miloslavsky X was the only one who
looked gloomy and declined champagne, preferring plain vodka, which he
gulped down glass after glass. As to Anninka, she abstained from drink
for some time, but Kukishev was insistent. He went down on his knees
and implored her:

"Anna Semyonovna, it is your turn. I beseech you. For your happiness,
for friendship and love. Do us a favor."

She was annoyed by his foolish figure and foolish talk, yet she could
not refuse, and before she had time to collect her thoughts, she was
already dizzy. Lubinka, for her part, was so magnanimous that she
herself asked her sister to sing, "How I did love it with my mash."
Anninka performed it so well that everybody exclaimed, "Ah, that was
just like Matryusha the gypsy." Then Lubinka sang an obscene song of
a different kind, and at once convinced everybody that that kind of
singing was her real genre, in which she had no rivals, just as Anninka
had none in the gypsy songs. In conclusion, Miloslavsky X and Nalimova
presented a "masquerade scene" in which the tragedian recited parts
from _Ugolino_ (a tragedy in five acts, by Polevoy), and Nalimova
followed with a scene from an unpublished tragedy of Barkov. The result
was so unexpected that Nalimova nearly eclipsed the two sisters and
almost became the heroine of the evening.

It was already dawn when Kukishev, leaving the charming hostess, helped
Anninka into her carriage. Pious townspeople were coming from matins.
At the sight of Anninka, elaborately attired and somewhat unsteady on
her feet, they muttered darkly, "People are coming out of church, and
they are gulping wine. A curse on them!"

On leaving her sister's, Anninka went not to the hotel but to her own
quarters, small but snug and nicely furnished. She was followed by

The whole winter passed in an indescribable hurly-burly. Anninka was
completely in the swing, and if she ever reminded herself of her
"treasure," it was only in order to laugh it off with "How foolish I
was!" Kukishev, very proud of the fact that his "idea" of securing a
mistress like Lubinka had materialized, made ducks and drakes of his
money. Instigated by emulation, he ordered two gowns to Lyulkin's one,
and two dozen bottles of champagne to his one dozen. Lubinka herself
began to envy her sister, because she succeeded in laying by forty
lottery bonds during the winter in addition to a considerable amount of
jewelry. However, they became friendly again and decided to pool their

Anninka always hoped for something, and during an intimate talk with
her sister, said:

"When all this will be over, we will go back to Pogorelka. We will have
money and establish a home for ourselves."

"And you think this will ever end? Fool!" Lubinka retorted cynically.

To Anninka's misfortune, Kukishev soon came upon a new "idea," which
he began to pursue with his usual obstinacy. A vulgar and eminently
shallow-pated man, he imagined he would reach the pinnacle of bliss if
his queen would "accompany" him, that is, if she would drink vodka with

Anninka for some time declined, referring to the fact that Lyulkin
never compelled Lubinka to drink vodka.

"And yet she drinks out of love for Lyulkin," Kukishev retorted. "And
may I ask you, darling, do you take the Lyulkins as an example? They
are Lyulkins, while you and I, we are Kukishevs. Therefore we will
drink in our own Kukishev way."

Kukishev had his way. Once Anninka took a small glass of green liquid
from the hands of her "beloved" and gulped it down. Of course she saw
stars, choked, coughed, became dizzy, thereby putting Kukishev in
transports of delight.

"Permit me to remark, darling, that you do not drink well! You did
it too fast," he instructed her, as she quieted down somewhat. "The
wineglass should be held in the tiny hands, so! Then you bring it over
to the lips, slowly--one, two, three--the Lord bless us!"

And he calmly and gravely gulped down the contents of the glass, as if
he were pouring vodka into a barrel. He did not even frown, but only
took a bit of black bread, dipped it in the salt cellar, and chewed it.

And so Kukishev succeeded in realizing his second "idea" and even began
to plan another one, which would beat the Lyulkins hollow. Of course he
succeeded in inventing one.

"You know," he suddenly announced, "as soon as summer comes we will go
to my mill with the Lyulkins, take along some provisions and bathe in
the river."

"Never!" Anninka objected indignantly.

"Why not? We will bathe, then have a cocktail, rest a little, and bathe
again. That would be delightful."

It is not known whether Kukishev's third idea materialized or not, but
it is certain that this drunken debauchery lasted a whole year, during
which time neither the zemstvo nor the city administration exhibited
the slightest anxiety concerning Messrs. Kukishev and Lyulkin. For
appearance's sake Lyulkin visited Moscow twice, and on his return
declared he had sold one of his forests. On being reminded that he had
sold the same forest four years before when living with Domashka the
gypsy, he answered it was another forest that he had sold that time,
and, to give his tale the appearance of veracity, he added detailed
information concerning the name of his newly sold forest-estate. As for
Kukishev, he gave currency to the story that he had smuggled in a large
stock of embroidery from abroad, thereby earning a great deal of money.

In September of the next year the chief of police asked Kukishev for a
"loan" of a thousand rubles and, Kukishev was foolish enough to refuse.
Then the police superintendent began to confer secretly with the
assistant attorney. ("Both of them guzzled champagne in my house every
evening," Kukishev testified later at the trial.) On September 17th,
at the anniversary of Kukishev's _liaison,_ when he and the others
celebrated Lubinka's birthday again, a member of the city council came
running in and announced to Kukishev that a warrant was being made out
at the City Board for his arrest.

"They must have found out something!" Kukishev exclaimed rather
pluckily, and without further comment followed the messenger to the
council-hall, and from there to prison.

The next day the zemstvo council also took fright. The members
assembled and ordered the money in the treasury counted and recounted,
and at last came to the conclusion that their treasury, too, had been
drained by somebody. Lyulkin was present at the examination, pale,
gloomy, but "noble"! When the loss had been discovered, and when it
became apparent to Lyulkin that he had no hope of escaping, he walked
to the window, drew a revolver from his pocket, and fired a bullet into
his temple.

The event created quite a turmoil in the town. The people pitied
Lyulkin, saying, "At least he ended nobly!" But the general opinion
about Kukishev was, "He was born a shopkeeper, and a shopkeeper he
will die!" Concerning Anninka and Lubinka they simply said that "they
were the cause of it all," and that it would not do any harm to put
them behind the bars, too, so that in future matters might not be very
inviting for such wretches.

The prosecutors, however, did not arrest them, but terrorized them so
mercilessly that they were completely dismayed. Of course there were
some kind people who advised them to conceal all their valuables, but
they listened and understood nothing. Owing to this, the attorney
for the plaintiffs (both councils hired the same attorney), a daring
fellow, wishing to satisfy his clients, came to the sisters one day,
accompanied by the process server, to take an inventory. He seized
and sealed everything except their dresses and such gold and silver
things as bore inscriptions showing they had been the gifts of the
appreciative public. Lubinka, however, succeeded in hiding a roll of
bank-notes, presented to her the previous evening, in her corset. It
was a thousand rubles, on which the sisters would have to exist for an
indefinite time.

In expectation of Kukishev's trial, they were kept in the town
about four months. Then the trial began, and the sisters, Anninka
particularly, had to undergo a ruthless ordeal. Kukishev was cynical
in the extreme. He revelled in the disclosure of details, for which
there was really no need, but apparently he was desirous of striking
a pose before the ladies of Samovarnov and exposed everything
indiscreetly. The attorney and the private prosecutor, young and
anxious to afford pleasure to the ladies, took advantage of this and
endeavored to lend the proceeding a frivolous character, in which
they succeeded, of course. Anninka fainted a number of times, but
the private prosecutor paid no attention to this and bombarded her
with questions. At last the investigation ended, and both sides had
their say. Late at night the jurors announced that Kukishev was
guilty, but that there were alleviating circumstances. In view of
this he was sentenced to be deported to Western Siberia. When the
trial was over, the sisters obtained permission to leave Samovarnov.
And it was high time, for the thousand rubles were nearly exhausted.
Besides, the manager of the Kretchetov theatre, with whom they had
made arrangements, demanded that they appear in Kretchetov at once,
threatening to discontinue negotiations if they delayed. Nothing was
seen or heard of the valuables and documents sealed at the demand of
the private prosecutor.

Such were the consequences of their disregard for their "treasure."
Tormented, crushed, despised by everybody, the sisters lost all faith
in their own strength and all hope for a brighter future. They became
emaciated, slovenly, cowardly. And Anninka, to boot, having been in
Kukishev's school, had learned to drink.

Matters grew worse. No sooner did they alight from the train at
Kretchetov than they at once found "protectors." Lubinka was taken
by Captain Popkov, Anninka by the merchant Zabvenny. But the jolly
times were no more. Both Popkov and Zabvenny were coarse, quarrelsome,
and rather close-fisted. After three or four months they became
considerably colder. The sisters were even less successful on the
stage than in love affairs. The manager who had accepted the sisters
on the strength of the scandal they had caused at Samovarnov quite
unexpectedly found himself out of his reckoning. At the very first
performance somebody in the gallery shouted when the two girls made
their appearance on the stage, "You convicts!" And the name stuck. It
decided Anninka's and Lubinka's theatrical fate.

They now lived a dull, drowsy life, devoid of all intellectual
interest. The public was cold, the managers scowled at them, the
"protectors" would not intercede. Zabvenny dreamed, as once Kukishev
had, of how he would "compel" his queen to have a cocktail with him,
how she would at first affect horror, and gradually submit. But he was
very angry when he found out that she was already past mistress in the
art of drinking. The only satisfaction left him was to show his friends
how Anninka "guzzled vodka." Popkov, too, was dissatisfied and declared
Lubinka had grown thin.

"You once had flesh on your bones," he would say, "tell me, where did
you lose it?"

On account of this, he was not only unceremonious with her, but often
even beat her when he was drunk.

Toward the end of the winter the sisters had neither "real" admirers
nor a "permanent position." They still stuck to the theatre, but
there could be no question now either of _Pericola_ or the _Old-time
Colonels._ Lubinka was more cheerful, but Anninka, being more
high-strung, broke down completely. She seemed to have forgotten the
past and was not aware of the present. In addition, she began to cough
suspiciously, apparently on her way toward an enigmatic malady.

Next summer was terrible. Gradually the sisters were taken to hotels
and were given to travelling gentlemen for a moderate fixed price.
Scandals and beatings followed one another, but the sisters clung to
life desperately, with the tenacity of cats. They reminded one of those
wretched dogs who, in spite of being crippled by a beating, crawl back
to their favorite place, whining as they go. It was not proper to keep
women like that on the stage.

In those dark days only once did a ray of light find its way into
Anninka's existence. Miloslavsky X, the tragedian, sent her a letter
from Samovarnov in which he persistently offered her his hand and
heart. Anninka read the letter and cried. The night long she tossed
about in bed, and in the morning she sent a curt reply, "Why? Only that
we may drink together?" Then darkness closed down upon her intenser
than ever, and endless, base debauchery began again.

Lubinka was the first to wake up, or if not to wake up, at least to
feel instinctively that she had lived long enough. There was no work in
sight. Her youth, her beauty, and her embryonic talent, all had somehow
vanished. That they had a shelter in Pogorelka, she never remembered.
It was something distant, vague, long-forgotten. They never did have
much of a liking for Pogorelka, and now their hatred toward the place
was only intensified. Even when they were almost starving the place
attracted her less than ever. And what sort of a figure would she cut
there? A figure which all sorts of drunken, lustful breaths had branded
as a "creature." Those accursed breaths saturated her entire body.
She felt them everywhere, in every place. And what is more horrible,
she grew so accustomed to those disgusting breaths that they became
a part of her very being. So with Anninka, too. Neither the stench
of eating-houses, nor the din of the inns, nor the obscene language
of the drunkards seemed abominable to them, so that had they gone to
Pogorelka, they would surely have missed the "life." Besides, even in
Pogorelka they must have something to live on. All these many years
that they had wandered about the world they had heard nothing of the
revenue that Pogorelka brought. Perhaps the estate was a myth. Perhaps
the folks had all died, all those witnesses of the distant and yet
ever-present years, when they had been brought up by their grandmother,
Arina Petrovna, on sour milk and stale cured meat.

It was clear that it was best for Lubinka to die. Once this thought
dawns on one's consciousness, it becomes an obsession. The sisters not
infrequently had moments of awakening, but in the case of Anninka they
were accompanied by hysterics, sobs, tears, and so passed away faster.
Lubinka was colder by nature. She did not cry or curse, but the thought
that she was a "hussy" constantly preyed on her mind. And Lubinka was
more reasonable and saw quite clearly that there was not even any
profit in their mode of living. For the future she expected nothing but
shame, poverty and the street. Shame is a matter of habit, it can be
tolerated, but poverty--never! It is better to end it all at once.

"We must die," she once said to Anninka in that same cool and
deliberate tone in which two years ago she had asked her for whom she
was saving her "treasure."

"Why?" Anninka objected, somewhat frightened.

"I mean it seriously. We must die," Lubinka repeated. "Understand, wake
up, think!"

"Well--let us die," Anninka assented, hardly realizing the dismal
meaning of her decision.

That same day Lubinka cut off the tips of some matches and prepared two
glasses of the mixture. One of these she drank herself, the other she
offered her sister. But Anninka immediately lost courage and refused to

"Drink, you slut," Lubinka cried out. "Sister, dearest, darling, drink!"

Anninka, almost insane with fear, ran about the room, instinctively
clutching at her throat as if trying to choke herself.

"Drink, drink--you street-walker!"

The artistic career of the two sisters was ended. That same evening
Lubinka's corpse was taken into the field and buried. Anninka remained


Anninka soon introduced an atmosphere of Bohemian life into Yudushka's
nest. She rose late and would roam about the house until dinner-time,
undressed, uncombed, with an aching head, and coughing in such agony
that each time it would send a shudder through Porfiry Vladimirych
in his study and quite frighten him. Her room was always untidy, the
bedding in disorder, and her clothes lying about on the chairs and
floor. At first she saw her uncle only at dinner and evening tea.
The master of Golovliovo came out of his room all dressed in black,
spoke little, and ate with his old-time exasperating slowness. He
was apparently observing her. After dinner came the early December
twilight. Anninka loved to watch the glimmer of the gray winter day
gradually die out and the fields grow dim; she loved to see the
shadows flood the rooms until finally the whole house was plunged in
impenetrable darkness. In the darkness she always felt at ease and
hardly ever lit the candles. The only one she allowed to burn was at
one end of the sitting-room. It was of cheap palm wax, and sputtered
and dripped, its feeble flame formed a tiny circle of light. For some
time the house would be astir with the usual after-dinner noises.
Plates would rattle in the hands of the dish-washers, and drawers open
and close with a clatter; but soon the sound of receding steps would
be heard and a dead silence begin to reign. Porfiry Vladimirych would
take his after-dinner nap and Yevpraksia bury herself in the bedding in
her room. Prokhor would go into the servants' room, and Anninka would
remain entirely alone.

She would pace from room to room, humming, trying to tire herself out,
but chiefly endeavoring to drive her thoughts away. In walking toward
the sitting-room she would fix her eyes upon the circle of light about
the candle, and walking away from it, she would try to single out some
point in the darkness and keep her eyes fixed on it. But in spite of
her efforts reminiscences surged up in her mind irresistibly. She saw
the dressing-room with its cheap wall paper, the inevitable pier-glass
and the equally inevitable bouquet from Lieutenant Pankov II; the stage
with the stage-properties, sooty, slippery from the damp; the hall with
its pieces of furniture picked up at random and its boxes upholstered
in threadbare purple plush,--the hall which, seen from the stage,
looked trim and even splendid, but in reality was dark and miserable.
And finally--officers, officers, officers without end. Then she saw the
hotel with the vile-smelling corridor, dimly lit by the smoky kerosene
lamp; the room she would dart into in order to change her dress for
further triumphs, the room with the bed in disorder from the morning;
the wash-stand full of dirty water, the bed-sheet lying on the floor,
her cast-off underwear forgotten on a chair. Next she saw herself in
the general dining-room, filled with kitchen odors, the tables set for
supper, with its tobacco smoke, noise, crowds, drinking, debauchery.
And again officers, officers, officers without end.

Such were her memories of the time she had once called the years of
her successes, triumphs, prosperity.

These reminiscences were followed by others, the prominent part in
which was played by the inn, filled with a foul stench, with walls on
which the vapor froze in the winter time, insecure flooring, and board
partitions, the glossy bellies of bed-bugs showing in the crevices.
Nights of drinking and brawls, travelling squires hastily taking
greenbacks out of their meager pocket-books, merchants encouraging the
"actresses" almost with a whip in hand. And in the morning--headaches,
nausea, and utter dejection. At last--Golovliovo.

Golovliovo was death itself, relentless, hollow-wombed death,
constantly lying in wait for new victims. Two uncles had died there,
two cousins had received mortal wounds. And Lubinka! Although Lubinka,
to be sure, had died somewhere in Kretchetov because of her "own
affairs," yet the origin of her wounds went back to her life at
Golovliovo. All the deaths, all the poisonings, all the pestilence,
came from there. There the orphans had been fed on rotten cured
meats, there they heard the first words of hatred and contempt for
human dignity. Not the slightest childish misdeed had passed without
punishment. Nothing could be hidden from the stony-hearted, eccentric
old woman, not an extra bite of bread, not a broken clay doll, not a
torn rag, not a worn shoe. Each breach of law and order was instantly
punished either with a reproach or a slap. And then, when they had
been permitted to dispose of themselves, when they had understood that
they might run away from the disgusting place, they ran--there! And
nobody kept them from running away, nor could they have been kept
from running away, because they could imagine nothing worse or more
repulsive than Golovliovo.

Ah, if all that could only be forgotten, if one could create a
different existence in one's dreams, a magic world that would supplant
both the past and the present! But alas, the reality Anninka had lived
through had so powerful a hold, that the clutch of it suppressed the
feeble efforts of her imagination. In vain did fancy endeavor to
imagine angels with silvery wings. From behind those angels peeped
inexorably the legions of Kukishevs, Lyulkins, Zabvennys, Popkovs.
Lord! Was all lost? Even the ability to deceive and beguile herself?
Had that been lost forever in the night revels, in wine, and in
debauchery? Yet that past had to be killed somehow, so as not to poison
her blood and rend her heart. It had to be crushed, utterly annihilated.

How strange and ruthless was that which had happened! It was impossible
even to conceive of some future, of some door by which to escape from
the situation, of anything at all that might occur to change things.
Nothing could occur. And what was even more unbearable was the fact
that to all intents and purposes she was already dead, with the outward
signs of life yet present. She should have ended it then, along with
Lubinka. Somehow she had remained alive. How was it that the mass of
shame which had come upon her then from all sides had not crushed her?
And what an insignificant worm she must have been to have crept out
from underneath that heap of heavy stones piled up on top of her!

She groaned in agony, and ran about the sitting-room, trying to kill
the burning memories. Before her eyes swam familiar images, the
Duchess of Herolstein shaking a pelisse, Clairette Angot in her wedding
gown with a slit in front up to her waist-line, Fair Helen with slits
in front, behind and at the sides. Nothing but obscenity and nakedness.
That was what her life had consisted of. Could all that possibly have

About seven o'clock the house came to life again. The sounds of the
preparations for tea were heard, and at last came the voice of Porfiry
Vladimirych. Uncle and niece sat down at the tea table and exchanged
remarks about the day just ended; but the daily happenings were scanty
and so the conversation was brief. Having taken tea and kissed Anninka
on the forehead, Yudushka crept back into his den, while Anninka went
into Yevpraksia's room to play cards.

At eleven o'clock the debauchery began. Having ascertained that Porfiry
Vladimirych was fast asleep, Yevpraksia set the table with various
country corned meats and a bottle of vodka. Now came meaningless and
obscene songs, strumming on the guitar, and Anninka drinking between
the songs and the shameless talk. At first she drank after Kukishev's
manner, coolly, with a "Lord bless us" to each glass, but then she
gradually sank into gloom and began to moan and curse. Yevpraksia
looked at her and pitied her:

"As I look at you, lady," she said, "I am so sorry for you, so sorry."

"Drink with me and you won't be sorry," Anninka retorted.

"No, how can I? They nearly chased me out of the clergy estate because
of your uncle, and now if I become----"

"Well, then it can't be helped. Let me sing you _The Mustache._"

She strummed the guitar again, and again came the cry, "I-akh! I-okh!"
Late at night sleep would suddenly overtake her, obliterating her past
and allaying her sufferings for a few hours. The next day, broken down,
half-insane, she would again creep out from beneath the deadening load
of sleep and live anew.

One of those vile nights when Anninka was singing her filthy songs to
Yevpraksia, Yudushka's pale face, ghastly and harassed, appeared in the
doorway. His lips were quivering, his sunken eyes looked like sightless
cavities by the light of the candle. His hands were folded for prayer.
For a few seconds he stood in front of the dumfounded women, and then
slowly faced round and passed out.


There are families that are weighed down by an inevitable fate. They
are frequent among that portion of the nobility which once lived idle,
useless, and uninfluential, under the wing of serfdom in all parts of
Russia and is now passing its last days helpless and unprotected in
dilapidated manor-houses. In the life of these wretched families both
success and failure come unexpectedly and as if by sheer accident.

Sometimes it happens that a shower of good luck, as it were, suddenly
comes streaming down on such a family. The ruined cornet and his wife,
peacefully fading away in an out-of-the-way village, will suddenly be
blessed with a brood of young people, strong, clean, alert, pushing,
adaptable to the new conditions of life--the boys as well as the
girls--in a word, "knowing ones." The boys pass examinations with
flying colors and even establish connections and procure patrons
while still at school. In the nick of time they exhibit their modesty
(_"j'aime cette modestie"_ their superiors say about them), and in the
nick of time they show that they can be independent (_"j'aime cette
indépendance!"_) They quickly scent the direction from which the wind
blows, but they never burn their bridges, so that retreat is free
and easy. These successful makers of our modern history begin with
obsequious cringing, and almost invariably end with perfidy. As to
the girls, they, too, in their line, contribute to the regeneration of
the family, that is, they all marry successfully and then exhibit so
much tact in the art of dressing that they experience no difficulty in
gaining prominent places in so-called society.

From this combination of circumstances, success fairly pours down upon
the impoverished family. The first successful members who struggle
through courageously, bring up another clean generation, which is still
better off because the main paths have not only been broken but also
well trodden. Other generations succeed until at last a family comes
that has no preliminary struggles and deems it has an inborn right to
lifelong rejoicing.

Lately, on account of a modern demand for so-called "new men" resulting
from the gradual degeneration of the old men, there have been frequent
instances of successful families. Even in earlier days a comet would
now and then make its appearance on the horizon, but it was a rare
occurrence, the reason being that, first, there were no cracks in the
wall surrounding that blissful region over the gateway to which is
inscribed: "Here pies are eaten daily," and, secondly, because in order
to penetrate into that region, one had to have genuine ability. But now
quite a number of cracks have appeared and the matter of penetration is
considerably simplified, since great merits are no longer demanded of
the newcomer, but only "newness" and nothing else.

Besides these lucky families there is a great multitude of families
upon whose members the household gods bestow nothing but misfortune
and despair. Like a baleful blight, vice and ill-luck beset them and
devour their substance. The malignant influences attack the whole
stock, eating their way into the very heart and laying waste generation
after generation. There is born a race of weaklings, drunkards, petty
rakes, idlers and shiftless ne'er-do-wells. As time goes on the race
degenerates more and more, until finally there appear miserable
weaklings, like Yudushka's two sons, who perish at the first onslaught
of life.

Such a sinister fate pursued the Golovliovo family. For several
generations, their history was marked by three characteristics,
idleness, utter uselessness, and habitual hard drinking, the last
coming as the sorry crown to a chaotic life. The Golovliovo family
would have run to seed completely but for the fact that Arina Petrovna
flashed like a casual meteor through this drunken confusion. By her
personal energy alone this woman brought the family to an unprecedented
height of prosperity. Nevertheless her labors were in vain. Not only
did she not transmit any of her qualities to her children, but she
herself died ensnared by idleness, empty talk and mental vacuity.

Until now Porfiry Vladimirych had held out against the temptation of
drink. It may be that he had been frightened off by the fate of his
brothers and had consciously abstained from drink, or that he had
been satisfied by the intoxication of his frenzied day dreams. But it
was not for nothing that he had the reputation of a drunkard among
his neighbors. At times he himself felt something was lacking in his
existence. Idle musings gave him much, but not all. They did not supply
that sharp, stupefying sensation which would completely do away with
his sense of reality and plunge him headlong into the void forever.

And now the long-wished-for opportunity presented itself. Ever since
Anninka's arrival, Yudushka had been aware of a vague noise at night
coming from the other end of the house. For a long time he had puzzled
his head over the significance of the mysterious sounds. At last he
discovered what they were.

Anninka expected a reprimand the next day. None came. Porfiry
Vladimirych spent the morning locked up in his study as usual, but when
he appeared at the midday meal, he poured out two wineglasses of vodka
instead of only one for himself, and pointed to one with a sheepish
smile. Anninka accepted the silent invitation.

"So you say Lubinka is dead?" said Yudushka when the dinner was well
under way, as if recalling something.

"Yes, uncle, she is dead."

"Well, God rest her soul! To grumble is a sin, but to honor her memory
is quite fitting. Shall we?"

"Yes, uncle, let's honor her memory."

They emptied one more glass, and then Yudushka grew silent. He was
evidently still unaccustomed to the society of human beings. When the
meal was over, Anninka, performing a family rite, kissed uncle's cheek,
and in response he patted her on her cheek and said:

"So that's the kind you are."

The evening of the same day, at tea, which lasted longer this time
than usual, Porfiry Vladimirych looked at his niece for a while with a
quizzical smile, and finally said:

"Shall we have some corned meats served?"

"Well, if you wish."

"Yes. It's better you should do it in uncle's sight than on the sly. At
least, uncle will----"

Yudushka did not finish the sentence. Perhaps he had wanted to say that
uncle would keep her from drinking, but something prevented him from
saying it.

From that time on cold cuts were served in the dining-room every
evening. The outer window shutters were closed, the servants retired,
and uncle and niece remained all alone. In the beginning Yudushka did
not keep pace with Anninka, but with a little practice he came up to
her. They sat slowly sipping their vodka and talking. The conversation,
at first dull and indifferent, became more and more animated as their
heads grew hotter, and invariably passed into a chaotic quarrel, at
the bottom of which were always reminiscences about the victims of

Anninka started the quarrels. She dug up the family archives with
ruthless persistence and delighted in teasing Yudushka by arguing that
he along with Arina Petrovna had been the chief cause of the Golovliovo
tragedies. Every word breathed such cynicism and such burning hatred
that it was difficult to understand how so much vitality could still
exist in that worn-out, shattered body. Anninka's attacks galled
Yudushka immensely, but he defended himself feebly, angrily sputtering
ejaculations of discomfiture. At times, when Anninka went too far in
her insolence, he shouted and cursed.

Such scenes repeated themselves day in, day out, without change. Every
detail of the pitiful family chronicle was speedily exhausted, but it
still held the minds of the two riveted. Every episode of the past
lacerated some wound in their hearts, and they felt a bitter delight
in constantly evoking, scrutinizing and exaggerating painful memories.
Neither the past nor the present contained any moral mainstay on which
Anninka could lean. Nothing but sordid stinginess on one side, and
mental vacuity on the other. Her youthful heart had thirsted for warmth
and love, but had received a stone instead of bread, blows instead of
instruction. By the irony of fate, the cruel school in which she had
been taught implanted in her not an austere attitude toward life, but a
passionate yearning to partake of its sweet poisons. Youth had wrought
the miracle of oblivion, it kept her heart from hardening and the germs
of hatred from developing. Youth had made her drunk with the thirst for
life. That was why a turbulent, furtive debauchery had held her in its
sway for several years, and had pushed Golovliovo into the background.
Now, when the end was drawing close, her heart began to ache. Now for
the first time did Anninka grasp the significance of her past and begin
to hate it truly.

The drinking lasted far into the night, and had it not been for the
drunken confusion of both thoughts and words, it might have resulted in
something frightful. But if alcohol opened the well-springs of pain in
these shattered hearts, it also appeased them. The further the night
advanced, the more incoherent became their talk and the more impotent
their hatred. Toward the end of the debauch, the aching disappeared and
their surroundings vanished from their eyes, supplanted by a shining
void. They faltered, their eyes closed, they grew muscle-bound. Uncle
and niece would then rise from their places and retire to their rooms
with tottering steps.

Of course, these night adventures could not remain a secret. Before
long the notion of crime became associated with them in the minds of
the servants. Life abandoned the vast Golovliovo manor-house. Nothing
stirred even in the morning. Uncle and niece rose late and till the
midday meal Anninka's racking cough, accompanied by curses, rang from
one end of the house to the other. Yudushka listened to the harrowing
sounds in terror and a vague presentiment of his own impending doom
stirred in him.

It seemed that all the Golovliovo victims were now creeping from out of
the nooks and crannies of the deserted house. Gray apparitions stirred
everywhere. Here was old Vladimir Mikhailovich, in his white nightcap,
making wry faces and citing Barkov; here was Simple Simon and Pavel
the Sneak; here were Lubinka and the last offshoots of the Golovliovo
stock, Volodya and Petka. All were drunk, lustful, weary and bleeding.
And over all these ghosts there brooded a living phantom, Porfiry
Vladimirych Golovliov, the last representative of the decadent family.


The continual reverting to the past and its victims was bound to have
its effect on Yudushka. The natural outcome--was it fear?--No, rather
the awakening of conscience. He discovered he had a conscience, and
oblivion and contempt, although blunting its sensitiveness, could not
destroy it.

The awakening of a torpid conscience is usually fraught with pain. It
brings no peace, holds no promise of a new life, but merely tortures,
endlessly and fruitlessly. Man sees himself immured in a narrow prison,
a helpless victim of the agonies of repentance, with no hope of ever
returning to life. And he perceives no other way of allaying his
gnawing pain than to break his head against the stony walls of the
prison cell.

Never in the course of his long, useless life had it occurred to
Yudushka that dire tragedies were interwoven with his existence. He had
lived peacefully and calmly, with a constant prayer on his lips, and
the thought had been far from him that this manner of life had caused
so much sorrow. Least of all could he imagine that he himself had been
the source of these tragedies. Suddenly the terrible truth was revealed
to his conscience, but all too late--too late for him to make amends
for the crimes of his life. He was unsociable, old, with one foot
in the grave, and there was not a single human being who approached
him with loving pity. Why was he alone? Why did he see nothing but
indifference and hatred around him? Why was it that everything he
touched had perished? This estate of Golovliovo was once so full, a
human nest. How had it happened that now there was not a trace, not a
feather left? Of the fledgelings nursed there his niece was the only
one that remained alive, and she had come back only to sneer at him and
deal him his deathblow. Even Yevpraksia, simple as she was, hated him.
She lived at Golovliovo because Porfiry sent her father, the sacristan,
provisions every month, but undoubtedly she hated him. He had made her
unhappy, too, by robbing her of her child. What was the outcome of his
existence? Wherefore had he lied, babbled, persecuted, hoarded? Who
would inherit his wealth? Who was to enjoy the fruits of his life? Who?

I repeat, his conscience had awakened. Yudushka waited for the evening
with feverish impatience not only in order to get bestially drunk,
but also to drown his conscience. He hated the "dissolute wench," who
lacerated his wounds with such cold cynicism, yet he was drawn to
her irresistibly, as if there was still something to be said between
them and some wounds to be torn open. Every evening he made Anninka
retell the story of Lubinka's death, and every evening the idea of
self-destruction became riper in his mind. At first, the idea occurred
to him casually. But as his iniquities became more apparent to him, it
sank deeper and deeper into his being and soon was the sole shining
spot in all the gloom he saw ahead of him.

And his health began to decline rapidly. He coughed violently and at
times had spells of asthma that in themselves were sufficient to make
life intolerable, let alone the moral pangs from which he suffered.
All the symptoms of the malady that had sent his brothers to their
graves were present. He heard the groans of his brother Pavel, as he
choked in the entresol of the Dubrovino manor-house. Still Yudushka
was doggedly tenacious of life. His sunken, emaciated chest held out
against the pain that grew from hour to hour. It was as if his body too
were resisting with unexpected vigor so as to take revenge on him for
his crimes.

"Is this the end?" he would wonder hopefully, whenever he felt the
approach of a paroxysm. But death was slow in coming. Evidently it
would be necessary to use violence to hasten the end. All his accounts
with life were settled--it was both painful and useless to him. What he
needed was death, but, to his sorrow, death was slow in coming. There
is something mean and treacherous in the teasing hesitancy of death
when it is called upon with all the strength of one's soul.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was late in March and Passion Week was nearing its end. However
abject Yudushka's condition was, he preserved an attitude of reverence
toward the sanctity of these days implanted in him in his childhood.
His thoughts of themselves took a serious turn, and there was no other
desire in his heart than complete silence. In this mood the evenings
were no longer spent in wild drinking, but passed in gloomy silence.

Porfiry Vladimirych and Anninka were sitting all alone in the
dining-room. The evening service, accompanied by the reading of the
gospel, had just ended, and the odor of incense still lingered in the
room. The clock struck ten, the servants had retired, and deep, pensive
quiet settled over the house. Anninka, her hands clasping her head, was
deep in thought. Porfiry Vladimirych sat opposite, silent and sad.

Upon Anninka the Passion Week evening service always made an
overwhelming impression. As a child she had wept bitterly at the
priest's words: "And when they plaited a crown of thorns, they put it
upon His head, and a reed in His right hand," and in a tremulous treble
she used to sing after the sexton: "Glory be to Thy long-suffering,
oh, Lord! Glory be to Thee!" After the service she used to run, all
a-quiver with emotion, to the maids' room, and there, in the growing
twilight (Arina Petrovna allowed no candles in that room when there
was no work being done), she related "The Passion of our Lord" to the
servants. Silent tears flowed from the eyes of the slaves, and they
heaved deep sighs. The poor servants felt their Master and Redeemer
with their whole hearts and believed He would arise from the dead,
arise from the dead in truth. Anninka, too, felt and believed. Beyond
the gloom of their life of suffering and persecution, all these poor
in spirit beheld the radiant kingdom of freedom. Even the old lady,
usually so redoubtable, was gentle during Passion Week. She did not
grumble or remind Anninka that she was an orphan. On the contrary, she
fondled her and soothed her with kindly words. But Anninka was restless
even in bed, she tossed about and talked to herself in her sleep.

Then came her school years and wanderings, the first empty, the second
painful. But even as a nomadic actress, Anninka had jealously observed
the "holy days," calling back echoes of her distant past and moods of
childlike devotion. But now when she saw her life clearly to its last
detail, when she had cursed her life and when it became obvious that
the future promised neither repentance nor forgiveness, when the source
of devotion and the well-spring of tears had dried up, the effect
of the tale of the Crucifixion upon her was truly overwhelming. In
childhood a gloomy night had surrounded her, but beyond the darkness
she had sensed the presence of light. Now nothing but interminable
everlasting night stretched ahead endlessly. She neither sighed,
nor was agitated, nor even thought. She merely sank into a state of
profound torpor.

Porfiry Vladimirych, too, from his very childhood, had revered the
"holy days," but, true idol-worshipper that he was, he had observed
merely the rites. Every year on the eve of Good Friday he had had
the priest come and read the gospel, had sighed, lifted up his arms,
touched the ground with his forehead, marked the number of chapters
read by means of wax balls, but had understood nothing. Not until now,
when his conscience was awakened, had he grasped the fact that the
gospel contained the story of how Untruth visited a bloody judgment on

Of course, it would be an exaggeration to say that this discovery led
him to definite conclusions about his own life, yet there is no doubt
that it produced in him a commotion bordering on despair. This state of
mind was the more painful the more unconsciously he lived through the
past which was the source of his commotion.

There was something terrible in his past, he could not tell exactly
what. It was as if a mountainous mass, hitherto motionless and hidden
by an impenetrable veil, had suddenly moved upon him, threatening every
moment to crush him. What he feared was that he might not be crushed,
and he felt he must hasten the climax. He had been brooding over the
idea for quite some time. "We shall have communion on Saturday,"
suddenly flashed through his mind. "It would be well to visit dear
mother's grave and take leave of her."

"Shall we walk over to the cemetery?" he turned to Anninka and
explained his idea to her.

"Why, if you wish, we'll drive out there."

"No, not drive, but----" started Porfiry Vladimirych, but halted
abruptly, as if struck by the thought that Anninka might be in his way.

"I have sinned against my dear departed mother. I, I was the cause of
her death!"

The thought preyed on him, and the desire to "take leave" grew stronger
in his heart, to take leave not by mere conventional words, but by
throwing himself on her grave and bursting out in the sobs of a death

"So you say no one is to be blamed for Lubinka's death?" he suddenly
asked, as if trying to cheer himself up.

At first Anninka paid no attention to his question. Two or three
minutes later, however, she felt an irresistible impulse to return to
the subject of Lubinka's death and torment herself with it.

"And her words were, 'Drink, you street-walker,'" he said, after she
had repeated the story in detail.

"Yes, her very words."

"And you didn't drink?"

"I didn't. I am alive, as you see."

He rose and paced up and down the room several times, visibly affected.
At last he went over to Anninka and stroked her head.

"My poor, poor Anninka!" he said softly.

At the touch of his hands a startling change took place in her. At
first she was amazed, then her face began to work, and suddenly a
violent torrent of hysterical, inhuman sobs burst from her chest.

"Uncle, are you good? Tell me, are you good?" she fairly shrieked.

In a broken voice, through tears and sobs, she kept on reiterating her
query, the same she had asked him the day of her return to Golovliovo,
to which he had given such an absurd reply.

"You are good? Tell me, answer me, are you good?"

"Did you hear what the priest read at the evening service?" he said,
when she finally grew calm. "Oh, what sufferings He underwent! Only
such sufferings can----And yet He forgave, forgave forever!"

He resumed his pacing, his very soul rent with suffering and his face
covered with beads of perspiration.

"He pardoned every one," he reflected aloud. "Not only those who at
that time gave Him vinegar mingled with gall to drink, but also those
who are doing the same thing now and will do it again in future ages.
What a horror!"

Suddenly he stopped before her and said:

"And you--have you forgiven?"

Instead of replying she threw herself on him and clasped him firmly.

"You must forgive me," he went on. "For every one--on your own
account--and for those who are no longer here. What has happened?" he
cried, looking round distractedly. "Where are they all?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Utterly shaken and exhausted, they retired to their rooms. But Porfiry
Vladimirych could not sleep. He tossed in his bed, all the while trying
to recall an obligation that lay on him. Suddenly he clearly remembered
the words that had flashed through his mind about two hours before, "I
must walk to mother's grave and take leave of her."

An exhausting restlessness seized his being. At last he got up and
donned his dressing-gown. It was still dark, and unbroken silence
reigned in the house. For a while Porfiry Vladimirych paced back and
forth in the room, stopped before the lighted ikon of the Saviour
with a thorny crown, and scanned his face. Finally he determined upon
a course of action, perhaps half-unconsciously. He stole into the
antechamber and opened the outer door.

Outside a March blizzard was raging and blinded him with a torrent of
sleet. Porfiry Vladimirych struggled along the road, splashing through
the puddles, insensible to the wind and the snow. Instinctively he drew
together the skirts of his dressing-gown.

       *       *       *       *       *

Early next morning a messenger came speeding from the village near
the churchyard where Arina Petrovna was buried. He brought the news
that the frozen body of the Golovliovo master had been found by the
roadside. The servants rushed into Anninka's room. She lay in her bed
unconscious in delirium. A messenger was hastily dispatched to Nadezhda
Ivanovna Galkina (daughter of Aunt Varvara Mikhailovna), who ever since
the previous autumn had been keeping a watchful eye on everything
taking place at Golovliovo.


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Family of Noblemen - The Gentlemen Golovliov" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.